Challenge or invitation? Search for C.W. Black

Pick a word to describe a difficult genealogy task. Here are some of my choices -challenge, convoluted, dare, elusive, incentive, invitation, obstinate, resistant, provocative, recalcitrant, reluctant, uncooperative. Most have negative connotations. The terms incentive and invitation shed a more positive light.  I described the task of finding C.W. Black, reported father of Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother, as a challenge. Looking at it as an invitation into his life could reveal new insights.  In this post, I invite you to follow one possible lead with me. 

William and Mary Black, Falls County, Texas

I discovered this hint early in my search. I disregarded it until a blog follower reminded me about it.  Remember Nellie’s reported mother, Mary Bull? Falls county, Texas, was home to several Bull families. I found William and Mary Black in Falls county, Texas, in 1900 [1] with their family:

  • William B. Black, head, age 49, born April 1851 in Texas, married 35 years (? 25 years). Father & mother born in Alabama;
  • Mary A. Black, wife, age 43, born 1857 in Texas, mother of 6 children, 5 living. Father born in Georgia; mother born in Alabama;
  • Pearl Black, daughter, age 18, born 1881 in Texas;
  • Elisha Black, son, age 14, born 1885 in Texas;
  • Nellie Black, daughter, age 13, born February 1887 in Texas;
  • David C. Black, son, age 21, born November 1878 in Texas, married 2 years;
  • Nellie M. Black, d-in-law, age 18, born Feb 1882 in Texas, mother of 1 child, 1 living; and
  • Vera M. Black, g-daughter, age 1, born May 1899 in Texas.

C.W. ‘s middle name could be William. Nellie Black, daughter, born February 1887 per this census record. According to our Nellie’s death certificate[2] and other records, she was born January 1888 in Montague county, Texas. The birthdate inconsistency led me to initially discount this family as belonging to our Nellie.

Elisha Black’s death certificate[3] presented interesting information.  Elisha’s parents are recorded as W.B. Black and Mattie Bull.  Elisha lived in Montague county, Texas at the time of his death.

Mary A. Black’s birth information is partially consistent with an 1870 census record for Marianne Bull. [4] (NOTE: Based on DNA match and other records, I believe that Marianne Bull is likely Nellie’s mother.  Read “Who is Mary Bull?” for more information).  

In 1900, Mary A. Black’s age of 43 places her birth year as about 1857 and lists her birthplace as Texas. In 1870, Marianne Bull’s age of 15 places her birth year as about 1855 and her birthplace as Texas. The two year age discrepancy is not unreasonable but sheds some doubt.

Marianne Bull’s presumed parents, Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel, were born in Mississippi per 1860 census.[5] This fact presents another discrepancy.  Mary A. Black, wife of William B. Black in 1900, reported that her parents were born in Georgia and Alabama. Mollie Black’s parents (from 1880 census) were reported as born in Texas.  

Several online trees connect the William B. Black family on 1900 census, cited above, with a family headed by William Black, in Montague county, Texas, 1880. [6] 

  • 1880: William Black, age 25, born Texas; father & mother born Alabama. Wife, Mollie, age 24, born Texas; father & mother born Texas.  Children, William, age 6 and Corbin, age 3. Rosie Williams, age 6, niece and James Williams, age 4, nephew.
  • 1900[7]: William B. Black, age 49, born Texas; father & mother born Alabama. Wife, Mary A. Black, age 43, born Texas; father born Georgia, mother born Alabama.

Age discrepancies on subsequent census records are not uncommon. The reported birthplace of William’s parents as Alabama appears to be the only connecting data. Family trees are built on such slim links.

To reconcile these differences, I searched the 1870 census. William Black, age 20, born in Texas, resided with James and Mary Black.[8] His age is consistent with the 1900 census but not the 1880 census.   The record shows James Black, age 49, born in Tennessee and Mary Black, age 44, born in Alabama.  Further down on the same page and continued on the next page are entries for James Williams, age 19 and Georgiana Williams, age 17, married in August.   

Hmm! undefinedRosie and James Williams, niece and nephew, are listed with William and Mollie Black on the 1880 census.

Step back another 10 years. In 1860, James and Mary Black lived in Bell County, Texas[9] with 6 children- J.W., age 13; J.M., age 11, Wm, age 8, Georgiana, age 6, E.E., age 4, and Benjamin, age 1. Names and ages are consistent with children listed on 1870 census. James reported as born in Tennessee and Mary reported as born in Alabama.

To summarize, three census records (1860, 1870, 1900) support William’s birth year as circa 1850 or 1851. Three census records (1860, 1870, 1880) suggest that William Black and Georgiana Black Williams are siblings.  William’s father’s birthplace as Alabama (1880 & 1900 census) is inconsistent with reported birthplace of Tennessee per 1860 and 1870 census.  Mary’s birthplace is listed as Alabama on all these records. Conclusion:  The 1880 and 1900 census records for William Black apparently represent the same man with two different wives.  Mary A. Black, wife in 1900 census (born Texas, parents born Georgia and Alabama) does not appear to be the same person as Marianne Bull (born Texas, parents born Mississippi).  

What about Pearl Black and David C. Black? Online searches haven’t yet revealed any relevant information about the name of their mother. Specifically, because of inconsistent data, I believe that William B. and Mary Black (as recorded on 1900 census cited above) are probably not Nellie’s parents.

Reflection

I revised this post more times than usual. As I wrote, I saw new patterns and pursued those clues. An initial discovery of Mattie Bull seemed promising. Men named William Black who married women named Mary or Mollie produced an almost unsolvable puzzle. I feel like I am running in circles.  I am ready to move on.

What helped: Lessons learned through Genealogy Do-over. Using Research logs, family group sheets and other research notes.  Reminder from blog follower to look at 1900 census again.

What didn’t help:  Repeated viewing of the same documents confused me more. Time for a break.

To-do:  Take a break from this search. Keep copy of this post with paper files for later review.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020                                                                                                                                                                                                         

SOURCES

[1] 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.

[2]“ 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.

[3] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : printed and viewed 27 February 2020), entry for Elisha Monroe Black (1885-1957); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas, certificate no. 39398.

[4] 1870 U.S. Census, Falls county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, page 15 (ink pen);  sheet 91A (stamp), dwelling 121, family 122, Isaak Bull, age 41; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1584; includes Isaak, born Mississippi; Mariane, age 15, born Texas.

[5] 1860 U.S. Census, Falls county Texas, population schedule, Marlin post office, page 149, dwelling 84, family 84, Isaac Bull, age 28; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M653_1293.

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Montague county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 3, page 47 (ink pen), page 418C (stamp), dwelling 363, family 364, William Black, age 25; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 9 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T9.  

[7] 1900 U.S. Census, Falls Co., TX., population schedule, Marlin, ED 0016, sheet 6, dwelling 107, family 113, William B. Black, age 49.  

[8] 1870 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct No. 4, Marlin post office, page 25 (ink pen), dwelling 191, family 193, William Black, age 20; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 9 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1584. 

[9] 1860 census for Jas & Mary Black. 1860 U.S. Census, Bell County, Texas, population schedule, Belton post office, page 463 (ink pen), page 317 (stamp), dwelling 298, family 295, Jas Black, age 38; http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 19 April  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M653. 

One thought on “Challenge or invitation? Search for C.W. Black

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

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