A tangled web of 4 blended families

Blended families are like a tangled spider’s web. The web consists of marriages, children, spousal deaths or divorce, remarriages, more children, another spousal death (or divorce) and marriage to a spouse with children from a former marriage. Suddenly, you are tracking four or more families.  Names and dates blur. My web includes two families that eventually became two (2) blended families (total of four families) and 17 children. This post outlines the families and their relationships.

As every genealogist knows, you do not always find records in chronological order. Bits and pieces emerge at various times during your search. You put these bits and pieces together into a timeline of events. The families in this web are:

  • Family #1:  James Thomas Lafayette Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah A. C. Daniel.  3 children.
  • Family #2/ Blended family #1:  James Thomas Lafayette Powell and his 2nd wife, Katherine Deborah Brown. My husband’s paternal great-great grandparents.  5 children.
  • Family #3:  Elias Barker and his 1st wife, Launa Barber.  6 children.
  • Family #4 / Blended family #2:  Elias Barker, 2nd husband of Katherine Deborah Brown Powell. 3 children.

I found documents at various times. Retrieval dates indicate the sporadic nature of my research on these families. I offer this chronology to show the back and forth nature of genealogical research.   

2011. Document #1:  Death certificate for Katherine Deborah Ellerbee [1](wife of James Walter Ellerbee), my husband’s paternal great-grandmother. Parents listed as James Thomas Lafayette Powell and Katherine Deborah Barker.   

2012. Document #2: (I didn’t realize its significance until later). Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, filed in 1932.[2]  “Mrs. Catherine Barker. . . widow of J. T. L. Powell. . . . James Thomas Lafayette Powell. . . . remarried to E. Barker, Sept. 1st, 1892, who died Aug. 20th, 1900.”  Conclusion:  Barker was surname of Catherine’s 2nd husband.  What was her maiden name?

Dec 2015. Document #3:  1880 census for J.T. L. Powel, age 45, and wife, Catherine, age 20.[3] Children:  Alvey Powel, son, age 14;  J.M. Powel, son, age 12; Peter Powel, son, age 9; D.C. Powel, daughter, age 9 months.  Analysis:  Alvey, J.M. and Peter could not be Catherine’s children.  D.C. Powel Is probably Katherine Deborah Powell Ellerbee, born 1879 per her death certificate.

2016. Document #4:   Death certificate for “Mrs. Catherine Barker”.[4] Parents listed as “R.L. Brown” and “Marguerite Puckett”.   Conclusion:  Catherine’s maiden name was Brown, not Barker.

2016. Back to Document #2:  “I was married to him [J.T.L. Powell] on the 22nd day of April, A.D. 1877, in the county of Cherokee, in the state of Texas.” Confirms marriage date for Catherine and JTL Powell.

2016. Document #5:  (recorded as “tentative”): 1900 U.S. Census for Elide Booker, age 46, and wife, Catherine Booker, age 41, with 8 children [5]—Isaac, age 15;  Milton, age 13; Cora, age 11, Katie L, age 8; Bertie R., age 6; Ernest E., age 4; Alpha M. age 1; and stepdaughter, Jessie, age 11.  Analysis: Catherine & Elide married September 1892. Isaac, Milton, Cora are certainly not hers; Katie could be hers but could also be daughter of Elias and his 1st wife.  Bertie R., Ernest and Alpha are certainly children of ‘Elide’ and Catherine. Catherine listed as mother of 8 children, 7 living.  Who are Jessie’s parents? 2019:  Elide Booker identified as Elias Barker.

March 2017. Document #6: [6] 1870 census for J.T. L. Powell, age 35, and Dan A.C. Powell, female, age 32.  Presumed children:  Alonzo Powell, age 4; Jas M, age 2.  Analysis:  “Dan A.C. Powell, age 32” is probably James Powell’s 1st wife.  What is her first name and maiden name?

March 2017. Document #7.   Marriage certificate for James T.L. Powell and Deborah A.C. Daniel, married 1857. [7] Analysis: Name of James T.L. Powell’s 1st wife was Deborah A.C. Daniel.  Consistent with 1870 census. Confirms Deborah as James’ 1st wife.

October 2019.  Documents # 8 and 9.  Marriage record for Elias Barker and Launa Barber, 1874. [8] Find A Grave memorial number 79870105 for Euna Barker, “mother”, death date 1892. [9] Analysis: Confirms Elias’ first marriage and his first wife’s death in 1892.

October 2019.  Document #9.  1880 census for Elias & Launa Barker with one child, Tempe, age 3 months. [10] Analysis: Elias and Launa were married with one child in June 1880.


Family #1:  James T.L. Powell married Deborah A.C. Daniel in 1857 at Sumter county, Georgia. James and Deborah had 3 children- Alonzo, James M. and Peter (born 1872).  Deborah presumably died in Texas between 1872 and 1877.

Family #2/ Blended family #1:  James T. L. Powell married Catherine Deborah Brown in April, 1877 at Cherokee county, Texas. They had at least 5 children – Katherine, William, Jessie and two undiscovered.  James T. L. Powell died in 1890 leaving his wife, Catherine, a widow with 4 or 5 children.  The older children from James’ 1st marriage apparently married before their father’s death.  

Family #3:  Elias Barker married Launa Barber in 1874 at Milam county, Texas. Records show 6 children.  Launa died in 1892, possibly after birth of youngest child, Katie, in February 1892. 

Family #4/ Blended family #2:  Elias Barker remarried in September 1892 at Cherokee county, Texas, to Mrs. Catherine Powell, widow of James T.L. Powell.  Elias died in August 1900, leaving Catherine again a widow. Elias and Catherine had three children – Reba ‘Bertie’, Ernest and Alpha.  Four of Elias’ children from his first marriage – Isaac, Milton, Cora and Katie- were still at home.


I found these records over an 8-year period.  Some records were duplicated in my files.  Current analysis of the combined documents revealed previously overlooked information. I didn’t fully identify gaps until this review.

Next steps for me:   Review all documents again. Search for additional documents and information about each family. Report findings as blog posts focusing on one family per post.


Another task for Genealogy Do-Over.  Filling out the research logs for James Thomas Lafayette Powell and his 2nd wife, Catherine Brown (my husband’s great-great grandparents) showed me that more than one family was involved.  I completed research logs for James and both of his wives.  I started Research logs for Elias Barker and his 1st wife.  Research logs for the 17 children?  One done for my husband’s great-grandmother, Katherine Deborah Powell Ellerbee.  Others are on my to-do list with priorities to be assigned.  I am on a different path than when I started.

What I learned/ recalled:   Blended families are not a unique phenomenon to the late 20th century.  1900 and 1910 censuses list number of children born and number living for women.

What helped: Access to online databases. Created ‘Blended family pedigree chart’.  Printed records in files.

What didn’t help: Incomplete paper files and research logs.

To-Do: Search census records for Catherine Brown Powell Barker- 1910 through 1940; add to her research log — DONE. Create & complete research logs for Deborah A.C. Daniel, Elias Barker.  Defer research on other children of these families. Confirm birth, marriage, death dates for Catherine’s known 6 children.  Search for information about her other children (2 or 3 as indicated by 1900 & 1910 census).  

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019


[1] Cherokee county, Texas, , certificate no. 36955, Katherine Deborah Ellerbee, 9 July 1959; digital images, Fold 3 (http://www.fold3.com    : viewed, printed, downloaded 4 October 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Austin, Texas.

[2] “Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension”, 8 February, 1932, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension application no. 50567,service of James Thomas Lafayette Powell (lieutenant, Co. C, 25th Regiment Georgia Infantry, Civil War); “U.S. Confederate Pensions, 1884-1958,”   Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed,downloaded, printed 29 Nov 2012)  citing Texas, Confederate Pension Applications,1899-1975, Vol. 1-646 & 1-283, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct no. 8, enumeration district (ED) 19, p. 1 (ink pen); p. 447A (stamp), dwelling 6, family 6, D.C. Powel age 9/12; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : viewed, downloaded, printed 26 December 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1295..

[4] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com      : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 0030, p. 1B (ink pen) & p. 2A, dwelling 16, family 16, Catherine Booker [Barker]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 9 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T 623, Roll 1619.

[6] 1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 626, p. 55 (ink pen, p. 585 (stamp), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded. printed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

[7] “Sumter County, Georgia, Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, 1850-1857,”p.218, no. 24, James T.L. Powell, Deborah A.C. Daniel, 28 June 1857; digital images, University System of Georgia, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3   : accessed,downloaded, printed 24 March 2017); Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[8] “Texas, County Marriage Records, 1817-1965,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 10 October 2019), entry for Elias Barker and Launa Barker; citing “Marriage Records, Texas Marriages,” Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[9] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com   : viewed & printed 10 October 2019), memorial page for Euna Barker, Find A Grave Memorial # 79870105, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by seemore, photograph by Deb.

[10] 1880 U.S. Census, Lee county, Texas, population schedule, , enumeration district (ED) 094, p. 79A (stamp); p. 49 (ink pen), dwelling 316, family 319, Elias Barker age 26; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 10 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1316.

4 thoughts on “A tangled web of 4 blended families

  1. Pingback: Catherine D. Brown Ellerbee Barker: The tie that binds | Posting Family Roots

  2. Pingback: Back to the Blended Families- Elias Barker and 1st wife, Euna Barber | Posting Family Roots

  3. Pingback: Catherine Deborah Brown Powell Barker: Part 5. Blended family series-Powell, Brown, Barker | Posting Family Roots

  4. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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