Names, dates and places look promising. Is this the person and family that I’m looking for? Maybe. Each lead requires additional research before confirming. When I have some information, confirmation flows easier. When I know little, this process is more challenging. “Challenge” certainly describes the task presented by C.W. Black, reported father of Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother. In this post, I present some findings for C.W. Black and evaluate them.
Lead number 1: Charles and Mary Black, Texas
1870 census, Limestone county, Texas: Chas Black, age 23, born at Louisiana and Mary Black, age 26, born at Tennessee.  This was one of the first hints presented on Ancestry website. C.W. ‘s first name could easily be Charles. Maiden name of Nellie’s mother is reported as Mary Bull.  Mary’s identity as the daughter of Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel is likely but still needs to be proven. The family could have originated in Limestone county where Nellie lived from 1910 until her death in 1960. As they say, “follow the paper trail.”
The paper trail led to 32-year-old Charley Black, born Louisiana, and 36-year-old Mary E. Black, Charley’s wife, born Tennessee, at San Saba county, Texas in 1880.  Names, ages, place of birth are consistent with 1870 census. If these are Nellie’s parents, then Mary was about 44 years old when Nellie was born in 1888. Childbearing is still possible for many women in their 40s. No children listed. I am reasonably certain that Charley and Mary E. are the same couple as Chas and Mary in 1870 census. Nellie’s reported birthplace of Montague county, Texas, does not preclude Charley and Mary from being her parents.
Next stop on the paper trail? 1900 census. Again in San Saba county, Texas, Charles Black, born February 1847 in Louisiana and wife, Mary Black, born September 1843 in Tennessee.  No children listed. Mary’s childbearing history? Mother of 4 children, none living. Also of interest, Charles and Mary are recorded as being married 25 years suggesting marriage about 1875. Recall Chas and Mary living together in 1870. Are these truly the same people? No children, no Nellie. I tentatively rule out Charles and Mary as Nellie’s parents.
One more item in the paper trail – 1910 census. Charley Black, age 63, and Mary Black, age 66, still living in San Saba county, Texas.  Places of birth reported as Louisiana and Tennessee, respectively. Mary listed as mother of 4 children, 0 living. Years married? 40 or married about 1870. Looks like marriage information on 1900 census was not accurate. Given that no living children are recorded on the two censuses, I conclude that this couple are not Nellie’s parents.
I feel the need to finish Charley and Mary’s story. Find A Grave provided closure of sorts.
- Mary E. Black. Born 1 September 1848. Died 3 July 1914. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery. Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. 
- Charley Black. Born 22 February 1847. Died 6 May 1921. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. 
Perhaps someone else can claim them as relatives.
Lead number 2: C.W. Black, Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas
This Ancestry hint from the 1880 census popped up early in my search. The census shows C.W. Black, age 36, widower, born Tennessee, living in Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas.  So far, nothing inconsistent with other data. But certainly not confirmed. No other hints presented themselves.
A search of local newspapers provided one clue. In the Fort Worth Daily Gazette on June 20, 1890, this story- “A tragedy. C.W. Black gives up his life- John Yarbrough Arrested.” Details included:
“John Yarbrough shot and killed C.W. Black last night about 10 o’clock at the residence of the former, on the southeast corner of Peter Smith and Hemphill streets. . . . C.W. Black was an old resident of Fort Worth. He came here when only a mere hamlet . . . . Previously to coming here he was merchandising in Memphis, and he has a couple of children in St. Louis. He was about forty-seven years of age.”
Fort Worth is about 80 miles south of Montague county, Texas, Nellie’s reported birthplace. C.W. would not be the only man who had a family in two different states. Based on the two snippets of information, I do not believe that C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, was Nellie’s father. However, I will keep an open mind if other evidence surfaces.
Lead number 3: William and Mary Black, Falls county, Texas
This is another of those early hints that I discounted at first. One of my blog followers reminded me about it. Closer perusal and follow-up suggests a connection. Remember Nellie’s reported mother, Mary Bull? Falls county, Texas, was home to several Bull families. The path is winding and too long for this post. Stay tuned!
In summary, I classify the first two leads as negative results. Charles and Mary Black, the first lead, are certainly not Nellie’s parents. C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, is probably not Nellie’s father. These findings underscore the importance of tracking and recording all findings even if they are negative. Primary reason is to keep you from re-looking at the same findings. Others should be able to retrace where you’ve been and follow your contention.
However, keep an open mind because new evidence may surface that turns a negative into a positive.
For more information about negative results:
- Diana Elder, “Speaking Negatively: The difference between negative results and negative evidence, “ posted 15 December 2018 on Family Locket blog (https://familylocket.com/speaking-negatively-the-difference-between-negative-results-and-negative-evidence/ : accessed 10 April 2020).
- Rachel Silverman, “How NOT finding an Ancestor may actually help your research,” no date, Family History Daily (https://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/negative-search-result-genealogy/ : accessed 10 April 2020.
As I mentioned earlier, finding C.W. Black is one of my more frustrating and challenging genealogy journeys. What does “C” stand for? What does “W” stand for? Did he go by his first or his middle name? Was Nellie’s father really “C.W.”? Wouldn’t be the first time that a name was reported wrong. There is a clue out there—I just need to find it!
What helped: online resources, notes from previous searches, writing the blog post. Keeping record of searches and criteria used.
What didn’t help: frustration that no records seem to fit. Even Find A Grave yielded no clues. Maybe I need to try different search criteria.
To-do: Review notes and other records for William and Mary Black again. Search for more information about their children. When did William and Mary die? Where are they buried?
© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020
 1870 U.S. Census, Limestone County, Texas, population schedule, District 48 West, page 109 (ink pen), dwelling 485, family 525, Chas Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M593_1596.
. “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.
 1880 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, Enumeration District (ED) 116, sheet 444C, dwelling 128, Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1326.
. “Funeral services for Mrs. Johnson set for Wednesday,” obituary, Mexia Daily News, 3 May 1960; digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 6 March 2020); citing Mexia Daily News (newspaper), Mexia, Texas.
 1900 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0131, sheet 20, dwelling 328, family 331, Charles Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.
 1910 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0215, sheet 7A, dwelling 74, family 74, Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624_1584.
 Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224900, Mary E. Black (1848-1914), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.
. Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224899, Charley Black (1847-1921), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.
 1880 U.S. Census, Tarrant County, Texas, population schedule, Fort Worth, Enumeration district 089, sheet 31C, dwelling 44, C.W. Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T9, roll 1328.
 The (Fort Worth, Texas) Gazette, 20 June 1890, p. 8, col. 2, “A Tragedy, C.W. Black gives up his life-John Yarbrough arrested,” Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86064205/1890-06-02/ed-1/seq-8/ : accessed 10 March 2020).
 1900 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Marlin, Enumeration district 0016, sheet 6, , dwelling 107, family 113, Nellie Black, age 13; William B. Black, head; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T623.