A death certificate finally arrives!

My mother’s family is from New York. Her family tree reaches back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. New York City and its boroughs have records from the 1800s.  I have copies of my grandmother’s birth certificate (born 1892) and several death certificates from the 1880s. Usually, a request takes 6-8 weeks to be filled.  Similar document requests from New York State took months BCV (Before Corona Virus) due to a much larger volume and a limited number of staff to fill those requests.  With the pandemic, these requests take even longer.  In this post, I relate events leading to the receipt of one death certificate.

 Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy of the death certificate for Margaret Ann Tucker [1], wife of my 3 times great-grandfather, Jeremiah Tucker. I sent the request over a year ago. In 2020, the number of deaths in New York due to Corona Virus spiralled. The need for those certificates far outweigh genealogy requests.  I just had to be patient!  I hoped to find the names of her parents on that certificate and was not disappointed.

A note about my personal ethics.  I purchased this certificate directly from New York State.  The certificates are not available online.  Therefore, I will not post a scanned copy to my blog or any of my online trees.  I placed the original in the appropriate notebook in an archival quality plastic sleeve. I scanned it to my personal computer.  The State of New York Health Department and/or State Archives derive income from these requests.  Therefore, I feel ethically bound to not post a digital copy of the certificate.  However, I will share some of the information with you.  

In one of my first blog posts, dated 24 April 2017 (Genealogy Do-Over, month 2, Blog #1, https://postingfamilyroots.blog/2017/04/), I reported what I knew about Margaret. To summarize:  

  • According to oral family history, her maiden name was Margaret/ Maggie Irwin.[2]
  • Census records for 1870[3]  , 1875[4], 1880 [5] and 1900[6] show Jeremiah and wife, Margaret.
  • Per the 1900 census, Jeremiah and Margaret had been married for 33 years – estimated marriage year about 1867.
  • 1870 census includes a child, Lavina, age 8, born about 1862.
  • 1875 state census includes a child, Lavina, age 13 and 64-year-old Ellen Ervin.
  • 1880 census includes daughter, Lanna, age 18.
    • ASSERTION: Margaret, identified as Jeremiah’s wife, was his 2nd wife. She is not mother of Lavina/ Lanna. The identity of Lavina’s mother remains a mystery.
  • Death record for George Tucker (age 3 in 1880) lists his mother’s name as Margaret Collins.[7]
  • To-do item (from 24 April 2017 blog post):  “Confirm death date & location for Margaret Tucker. Obtain death certificate.”

Later, I discovered that Jeremiah Tucker married Allie Traver Briggs in 1905.[8]  This information narrowed Margaret’s death date to between 1900 and 1905.  A cousin sent a death notice, dated September 1904, from a local newspaper for Mrs. Jerry Tucker. [9]  Then, I accessed the New York State Death Index, online, for a certificate number.[10]  Finally, I could order Margaret’s death certificate from the State of New York!

Item on To-Do list from April 2017 is now complete!  Margaret’s death date and location are confirmed and her death certificate obtained. Information on her death certificate includes:

  • Age: 69 years, 6 months, 6 days for a calculated birth date of 28 February 1835. Place of Birth: New York. Per the 1875 state census, she was born in Greene county.
  • Died 2 September 1904 at Greenville, Greene county, New York.
  • Names of her parents:  Wm [William] Irving, born New York and Lana Hilliker, born New York.

One mystery solved!  Margaret’s maiden name was Irving.  Lana could be another name for Ellen, the 64-year-old woman living with Jeremiah and Margaret in 1875.  I am not ready to share  tentative results from my preliminary, quick searches for William and Lana.

 REFLECTION

This post is shorter than most that I have written.  I realize that I don’t need to report everything about a topic in a single post. My posts often report unfinished work.  My cousin, June, who lives in Greene county, New York, also works on this family line.  She has access to local resources and often shares items with me. I sent her a copy of Margaret’s death certificate.  

What helped:  My cousin, June, who found the newspaper death notice for Margaret. Previous review of records and notes in my files. Research log. Added info to research log started in 2017. Notes on research log and RootsMagic.

What didn’t help: Not entering DC information to RootsMagic before doing anything else.  

What I learned: Patience pays off!

TO-DO:  Find Margaret’s parents in census and other records.  Continue search for Lavina/ Lanna.


SOURCES:

[1]  New York, State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate and Record of Death 38927 (5 September 1904), Margaret Ann Tucker; State of New York, Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York; photocopy received 3 October 2020.

[2] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” [Page]; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original handwritten document created ca. 1975-1980 given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother.

[3] 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, p. 10 (ink pen), dwelling 77, family 79, Margaret Tucker age 36; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 30 December 2014); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593.

[4]  Jeremiah B. Tucker, 1875 New York State Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, pg. 24, lines 29-36, dwelling 231, family 249; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 8 December 2017); citing New York State Archives, Albany, Albany county, New York.

[5]  1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (ink pen), dwelling #1, family #1, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[6]  1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (ink pen), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[7]  Greenville Rural Cemetery (Greenville, Greene, New York);  to June Gambacorta, photocopy of office record obtained by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York;  No date, Cemetery information card received via email from June Gambacorta, 18 May 2016.

[8]  “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 23 April 2018), entry for Tucker, Jeremiah, Greenville NY; citing New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.

[9]   “The funeral of Mrs. Jerry Tucker. . . .”, The Greenville Local, Greenville, Greene county, New York, 22 September 1904, page unknown, column 2. “funeral on Wednesday of last week”, date 14 September 1904; digital copy sent to Susan Posten Ellerbee by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York.  

[10]  New York Department of Health, “New York, Death Index, 1880-1956,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 20 June 2018), entry for Margaret A. Tucker, pg. 851; citing New York Department of Health, Albany, New York.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots Blog, 2020.

Is Sarah’s grave marker inscription true?

A person dies and is buried or cremated. Family members place a marker at the grave.  Over time, engravings on stone markers become harder to read. Information often includes the person’s name, birth and death dates or age at time of death. Information such as ‘wife of William’ or ‘husband of Rachel’ is a bonus.  In the absence of other sources, we assume that these dates are correct. In this post, I present one case in which the death date on a marker is wrong and the discovery of that error by others and myself.

NOTE: I requested permission to use the original photograph but haven’t received approval to do so. This is a re-creation of that grave stone

Sarah Creager was born 24 December 1799 in Washington county, Kentucky, the first of eight children born to John George Creager and Margaret ‘Peggy’ Myers. [1] She married Joseph Holcomb, son of Joel Holcomb, on 30 September 1820[2], presumably at Hempstead, Arkansas. [3]  About 1843, the family moved to Texas, where three of their 12 children were born. Both Sarah and Joseph died at Cherokee county, Texas and are buried in the Holcomb cemetery at Alto, Texas. [4], [5]

Look at my re-creation of Sarah’s grave marker above.  On the original stone (as photographed for Find A Grave website), her death date is clearly marked as 1881.  However, multiple records show that she died in April, 1870. Corrected information has been posted on Find A Grave website.

I did not discover this discrepancy. Elizabeth Earl Roddy Cecil reported it on a message board in 2000. [6] Ms. Cecil wrote: “Her [Sarah Holcomb] marker has the incorrect date of death. When the family replaced the old markers, they put the same year as Joseph Holcomb’s monument instead of 1870.”

Since no source was given for the obituary, I searched for it.  I found it on PERSI (Periodical Source Index) at the Oklahoma Historical Society Library. In July 2011, I ordered and received a print copy of the relevant pages.[7]  The first paragraph reads:

“A mother of Israel has fallen.  Sister Sarah Holcomb, consort of Bro.Joseph Holcomb, and daughter of George and Margarett Creager, was born in Kentucky, December 24, 1799, joined the M.E.Church in 1819, was married September 30,1820, and died at the residence of her husband, on Box’s Creek, in Cherokee County, Texas, on the 24 day of April 1870; aged 70 years and 4 months.”

The 1870 Mortality schedule[8] confirmed the month of Sarah’s death as reported in her obituary.  

Transcription: Holcomb, Sarah, 72, F[female], W[white], M[married], Birthplace: Ky [Kentucky], month of death: April; cause of death: Consumption [a.k.a. tuberculosis].

DID YOU KNOW?

What about census records? The 1870 census in Cherokee county apparently took place after Sarah’s death in April of that year.  Joseph Holcomb, age 74 is recorded as living with his son, J.W. [Joseph Wilson] Holcomb and his family. [9]  The 1880 census, dated 10 June, again showed Joseph, living with his son, Joseph Wilson and family. [10]  The entry included this information:  Joseph Holcomb, 84, father, widower.  Again, evidence that Sarah died before her husband.  

September 2020 provided an unexpected gift. I received a scanned copy of Sarah’s obituary, as printed in a local newspaper, from another descendant of Joseph and Sarah.[11] The circle is now complete –  from an uncertain death date to an obituary reported without a source to a secondary source and, finally,  a scanned copy of the original obituary.

SUMMARY:    Why is the grave marker date wrong? Perhaps Sarah’s grave marker was placed after Joseph’s death. Does the date represent a re-burial of her remains?  The new marker shows the dates as found on the original stones.  Corrected information has been posted to Find A Grave website but is not readily available at the Holcomb Cemetery.  Future genealogists may or may not be aware of the discrepancy.

For more information about PERSI (Periodical Source Index), read this article: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Periodical_Source_Index_(PERSI)

REFLECTION:

This post was prompted by recent email exchanges with another descendant of Joseph Holcomb and Sarah Creager. He provided new (to me) information about one of their sons. I am saddened that descendants did not have the correct information before engraving the new stone. However, I do not find fault.  They used the information available to them at the time.

 What I learned:  Grave marker information is not always correct. Confirm information with other sources, if available.  PERSI as source of information.

What helped:  Previous information, fairly well documented, in my files. Elizabeth Cecil Roddy’s reporting of Sarah’s obituary on message board.  Online resources at Oklahoma Historical Society Library.

What didn’t help: Message board entry without source of information.

To -do:  Continue Genealogy Do-Over file clean-up on this branch of husband’s family tree.  Remember to add sources when posting to a message board!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES:

[1] “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” Yesterdays, Journal of the Nacogdoches [Texas] Genealogical Society, vol.  19, issue 2 (September 1999): pp. 11-12.

[2] Bonner, “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” p. 11.

[3] Twigsmmi,”Holcomb/McNally Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/21361689/person/1072828512/facts:      14 September 2020), “Sarah Creager,” marriage data with no source listed.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 10 September 2020), memorial page for Sarah ‘Sallie’ Craiger Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 75971922, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Tricia the Spirit Chaser, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[5] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 10 September 2020), memorial page for Joseph Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 75971827, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Tricia the Spirit Chaser, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[6] Elizabeth Earl Roddy Cecil, “Sarah Creager Holcomb,” Creager (aka Krieger) Discussion List, 18 July 2000 (http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/CREAGER/message/184  : accessed & printed, 16 March 2011).

[7] Bonner, “Obituaries: A mother of Israel has fallen, sister Sarah Holcomb,” p. 11.

[8] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, non-population schedule; mortality schedule, Beat 1, Sarah Holcomb age 72; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 10 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T1134 roll 55.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 1, p. 42 (ink pen), dwelling 285, family 285, Joseph Holcomb 74; digital images, Ancestry (http;://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 9 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_1578.

[10] 1880 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 7, enumeration district (ED) 018, p. 444C (stamp); p. 7 (ink pen), dwelling 64, family 68, Joseph Holcomb 84; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 9 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, roll 1295.

[11]  “A mother of Israel has fallen,” undated obituary for Sarah Crieger Holcomb, ca. 1870, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by John Taylor, [address for private use,], Jacksonville, Texas, 2020. Provenance uncertain. Scanned copy sent via email to Susan Posten Ellerbee, 6 September 2020.

Maiden Aunt(s)

Every family tree has at least one- the unmarried relative also known as a ‘maiden aunt’ or ‘bachelor uncle.’  Census records often list a woman as head of household. When the census record includes younger people, I predict that those younger persons are the woman’s children. I also tend to guess that the woman’s surname is the name of her husband, now deceased or divorced. However, this might not be true. Information about an unmarried relative still contributes to our knowledge about the family. In this post, I present one such case, Miss Jane Postens of Monroe county, Pennsylvania.

Jane Postens (1785-1861)

NOTE: This post describes process and results. Bear with me as I move forwards and backwards in time.

2012:  Printed two census records and wrote notes on 1830 census printed forms for Ann Posten in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania [1] and 1840 census for Jane Porten in Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] (Place note:  Monroe county formed 1836 from Northampton and Pike counties).  I dismissed Ann as the widow of Jacob Postens because Jacob died in 1831. [3] 

2015:  Printed 1850 census for Stroud Township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania –Jane Postens, age 56, born New Jersey and Elizabeth Postens, 48, born Pennsylvania. [4]  This census does not show the relationships between family members.   QUESTIONS:  What is the relationship between Jane and Elizabeth? How are they related to other Posten families in the area?  Fast forward to 2020 when I revisit these records as part of my Genealogy Do-Over.  

2020:  Begin again with the 1830 census. Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Ann Poston is recorded as head of household with 1 male, age 30 thru 39 and 3 females age 20 thru 29.   1840 census shows Jane Porten in Lower Smithfield, Monroe county, Pennsylvania with 1 male age 40-49 (consistent with 1830 census), 1 female 30 thru 39, 1 female 40 thru 49 and 1 female 60 thru 69.  

Recall the 1850 census records for Jane and Elizabeth Postens in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Information is both consistent and inconsistent  with earlier records.  A more recent find of 1860 census[5] also revealed inconsistencies with other data. (See table).  Can the evidence be reconciled?

TABLE 1: Comparison of census data, 1830 to 1860

I discovered a death notice for Jane.  Published in a Monroe county newspaper dated February 7, 1861, the notice reads:  

DIED. At Priceburg, in Price Township, on the 3d inst., Miss Jane Postens, aged 75 years, 9 months and 17 days.”

The Jeffersonian (Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania), 7 February 1861, page 2, “DIED. At Priceburg. . . Miss Jane Postens:” imaged at Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com:   viewed & printed, 9 May 2020).

Jane Postens, indeed, never married. If her reported age in death notice is correct, then her birth date calculates to 16 April 1785.  This date is consistent with only one of the four cited census records  – 1860.  I do not dispute New Jersey as her birthplace.  I believe that Elizabeth and Jane, as reported in 1850 and 1860, are the same persons even with the discrepancies in reported ages. I haven’t yet found more information about Elizabeth but have a clue about the male living with them in 1830 and 1840.

An adult male was not listed as head of household in 1830 or 1840. This suggests that the male in the household was incapacitated in some way. Again, I refer to an 1850 census record.  William Postens, age 56, listed as ‘insane and pauper’, residing with Henry and Caroline Row in Smithfield, Monroe, Pennsylvania. [6]  I believe that he is the male recorded in 1830 and 1840 censuses, aged 30 thru 39 and 40 thru 49, respectively.  Is he related to Henry or Caroline? Is he, perhaps, brother to Jane and Elizabeth?  

SUMMARY:

One maiden aunt, Miss Jane Postens, born 1785 in New Jersey and died 1861 in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.  Questions remain about her parentage and relationship to Elizabeth and/or William. I still know so little about her.

Another maiden aunt story for you: https://climbingmyfamilytree.blogspot.com/2018/01/family-history-lesson-from-my-maiden.html

REFLECTION:

Well, at least one question has been answered – Jane Postens never married.  As usual, new questions arose and only a few answers found.

What helped:  Printouts and my notes already in files. Creating table to compare information.

What didn’t help:  Notes with no dates.  Not sure which family tree I attached this to.

To-Do:  Continue searches for more information about Elizabeth Postens, William Postens, Henry and Caroline Row. Create research logs for each person with comprehensive notes.  Look at neighbors on each census as possible clues to relationships.  Search 1820 census in Northampton county for females between ages of 10 and 20 years. Move these items to BSO list for now.  

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED:

[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 218, line 20, Ann Poston, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M19, roll 156.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, page 331, line 23, Jane Porten [Posten], Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704..

[3] William Henry Egle, editor, Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical: relating chiefly to interior Pennsylvania. [ Fourth Series], 2 vols. (1893; Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1970), 1: pages 183-184, entry for “Northampton county in the Revolution. Newspaper Notes and Sketches. V. [Obituary, Jacob Postens]”.

[4] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, page 106A (stamp), dwelling 270, family 270, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_798.

[5] . 1860 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price, page 696 (stamp). Sheet 80 (ink pen), dwelling 540, family 516, Jane Postens, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Smithfield, page 126A (stamp), dwelling 552, family 552, Henry Row, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 1 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432, roll 798.

Who’s the Daddy (of Thomas Postens)?

My brother and I have an ongoing debate. Who is Thomas Postens’ father? My brother believes that his name is William. I believe that his name is Richard.  Thomas is our earliest known ancestor. Born in New Jersey in 1782, Thomas died and is buried in Pennsylvania. This post summarizes evidence for both sides of the debate.

Thomas Postens was born near Englishtown, Monmouth County, New Jersey on 14 July 1782.  Three sources support this assertion.  First, a 1908 newspaper article about Posten family reunion reported this information. [1] The history was compiled by John Posten, grandson of Thomas Postens and son of James Posten, Thomas’ youngest son. This is a secondary source with indirect information.  Second, the 1850 census shows Thomas Postens in Hamilton, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] This primary source shows Thomas’ age as 68 (consistent with birth year about 1782) and birthplace as New Jersey.  The information is possibly direct, i.e. reported by Thomas to the census taker.  Third, Thomas’ gravestone in the Friends Burial Ground at Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, is engraved with his birth and death dates. [3]  The assertion about Thomas’ birth at New Jersey in 1782 is, therefore, certainly true. The exact township and county of his birth are apparently true.   

With this information, I pose my first question:  Did Richard Postens and/or William Postens live in New Jersey in the 1780s?  Evidence was found in tax records for New Jersey dating from 1780. [4] (Note: I recorded names as spelled on the records). Specifically,

  • Records for Richard:
    • 1780 – Richard Paeston, Newark Township, Essex county, New Jersey
    • 1780 – Richrd Posten, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781 & 1782 – Richard Postens Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1784, 1785, 1786- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1789- Richard Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1790- Richard Postins, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
  • Records for William:
    • 1779 – William Postens, Dover Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey
    • 1781, 1782, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1789-  William Postens, Freehold Township, Monmouth county, New Jersey

Another contender, Charles Postens, also paid taxes in Monmouth county, New Jersey in 1779, 1781 and 1782. This man was ruled out as Thomas’ father based on the Revolutionary War Pension application[5], filed by his wife, Hannah in 1842. In her statement, Hannah reported one son, “born just previous to the breaking out of the war whose name was William who died in the City of Philadelphia sometime in the winter of 1809 and left a widow whose name was Mary Postens.”

Analysis:  Both Richard Postens and William Postens lived in Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1782, the date of Thomas’ birth.  Freehold, New Jersey, and Englishtown, New Jersey, are about 10 miles apart.

Question 2: Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1790?

According to New Jersey tax records, Richard remained in or near Freehold, New Jersey.  The 1790 U.S. Census shows William Poste in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. [6]  The record lists one free white male under 16, one free white male 16 and over and 4 free white females.  Birth year estimate for the younger male is between 1774 and 1790 and the older male was born before 1774.  A similar census record for Richard has not been found. 

Analysis:  William Postens in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, circa 1790, had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  William’s former residence is not known from this record.  Richard Postens still lived in New Jersey in 1790.

Question 3:  Where did Richard Postens and William Postens live in 1800?

The 1800 U.S. census shows Richard Postens in Lower Smithfield, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. [7] The family consisted of: one male under 10, 1 male aged 10 thru 15, one male aged 16 thru 25, one male 45 and over, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10 thru 15, one female 16 thru 25, and one female 26 thru 44.  Birth year for male, aged 16 thru 25, calculates as between 1775 and 1784.

William Posty is listed in the 1800 census for Springfield, Bucks county, Pennsylvania.[8] This family consists of one male, aged 10 thru 15 (birth years 1795-1790), one male aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784), 2 females aged 16 thru 25 (birth years 1775-1784) and 1 female aged 45 and over (birth before 1755).  With no males born before 1774, this William Posty is definitely not the same person as William Postens recorded on the 1790 census. Since only heads of household were recorded, the oldest male is probably William.

Analysis: Richard Postens in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, circa 1800, had a son born between 1775 and 1784. William Posty, age between 16 and 25, is probably the head of a household in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. That William is the son of William Postens from 1790 census is plausible but needs to be tested.

Conclusion:  Based on these records, neither Richard Postens nor William Postens can be ruled out as father of our Thomas Postens.  Both men apparently lived at Monmouth county, New Jersey, reported birthplace of Thomas, in the early 1780s. Census records suggest that both men had a son born between 1774 and 1790.  A search of New Jersey Quaker records may yield new information.

ADDENDUM: A few other records hold clues but don’t seem to answer the question of Thomas’ parentage. Marriage records of the Dutch Reformed Church at Monmouth county, New Jersey indicate a 1770 marriage for Richard Prest and Jenny Van Der Rype and a 1771 marriage for Wm Posty to Anne Coovort.  [9]  From the New Jersey Index of Wills, William Postens Jr died in 1794 leaving his wife, Anney, as administratix. [10] Is this the same William Posty who married Anne Coovort in 1771? Is this the same William Postens who paid taxes in Monmouth County from 1779 through 1789?  Could this couple, William and Anne, be Thomas’ parents?  Is it possible that our Thomas migrated to Pennsylvania with a relative? If so, did he live with a Postens family or another family? All of these are intriguing questions.

REFLECTION

I have gone over these records multiple times. I keep searching online databases for new information.  I am beginning to think that only a trip to Monmouth county, New Jersey, would yield new information.  I seem to be no nearer the truth than I was 10 years ago.

What I learned:  I was so certain that Richard had to be Thomas’ father!  The evidence is not clear. Either Richard or William could be Thomas’ father. Consider also that Thomas’ father could be another person entirely!

What helped: extensive records and notes in both paper and digital files. As usual, writing the post put things into perspective.

What didn’t help:  scattered notes, undated items.

To-do:  Keep looking! Keep detailed, extensive notes. Date each item as I find it.  Review files periodically.


SOURCES

[1] “Posten Family Reunion,” The Wilkes-Barre Record, 11 September 1908; online images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed & printed 18 August 2017).

[2]. 1850 U.S. Census, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Hamilton, p. 17B, dwelling 220, family 220, Thomas Portons [Postens]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 1 July 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_798.

[3]. Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), Thomas Postens, stone marker; photographed by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 14 August 2017.

[4] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census substitutes Index, 1643-1890, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed  8 June 2020). Entries for Richard Postens, William Postens, William Poste and Charles Postens.

[5]. “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files,” , database with images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  :  accessed 1 July 2020), Charles Postens, New Jersey, W3157; citing Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M804, roll 1957.

[6] 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte[Poste]; digital images, Ancestry ( http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M637, roll 8.

[7] 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[8].1800 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Springfield, page 282, image 124, line 22, William Posty; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 13 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 282.

[9] Holland Society of New York,  “U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-1989: Freehold and Middletown, Part 1, Book 61A,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & printed 29 March 2020), pg. 270, entry 111, Richard Prest to Jenny Von Der Rype; citing Dutch Reformed Church Records from New York and New Jersey, The Archives of the Reformed Church in America, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

[10] “New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 July 2020), pg. 287, entry for 1794, Oct. 18. Postens, William, Jr.; citing New Jersey, Published Archive Series, First Series (Trenton, New Jersey: John L. Murphy Publishing: no date); New Jersey State Archives.

In memory: William Posten, gunner, died ca 1779

Private William Posten died during the Revolutionary War.  ‘William Posten (gunner), dead’ is listed on the rolls of Captain Willing’s company of marines, who served from January 1778 to June 1779. [1]  What is his story?

William’s story is also the story of the United States Marine Corps.  Did you know that USMC traces its history back to the American Revolution? The Continental Marines protected ship captains and officers among other duties. One author described these men as “half soldier and half-sailor”[2]  The Continental Marines formally existed from November 1775 to 1783. In 1798, the service branch was re-created as the United States Marine Corps.

Captain James Willing’s story must also be told.  James Willing belonged to a prominent Philadelphia family. He received a commission “through the influence of his brother, Thomas, and a close friend, Robert Morris.”[3] Drawing soldiers from Fort Pitt (current day Pittsburgh),  Captain Willing’s orders included travel down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to deliver supplies and win assistance of persons who lived on the east bank, then return to Fort Pitt.  A boat named Rattletrap, with Captain Willing and 34 men, left Fort Pitt on 10 January 1778 and arrived at Natchez in February.  Continuing to New Orleans, the journey was marked by looting goods, stealing slaves and burning property of British sympathizers along the way. The marines returned up the Mississippi “under Lieutenant Roger George in order to join General George Rogers Clark in the Illinois territory, while Willing himself departed by sea for the east.” (Smith & Waterhouse, 1975).  William Posten, gunner, was killed during the journey.

Map provided courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. United States, ca 1796. Call no. X912.13c18a. “Fort Pitt” added by Susan Posten Ellerbee. Source: https://digital.library.illinois.edu : accessed 25 May 2020.

What were the duties of a gunner?  “The gunner took charge of the ship’s guns and all the implements needed to work them.” [4] A gunner was an officer and others (gunners’ mates, gunners’ yeomen, and quarter gunners) assisted him.  An interesting document, found on the Naval History and Heritage Command website, outlined the specific duties of men on ships of war. [5]  Since William’s rank is listed as private, he possibly held one of the lower assignments.  

A Revolutionary War company muster roll yielded information about Wm. Poston, a private in a Virginia regiment. [6]  From October 1778 to March 1779, he appeared on a roll for Fort Pitt. The form includes this remark: “wth C Willing”. Enlistment in a Virginia regiment suggests residence in that state. Is he somehow related to my Posten family which has resided in Pennsylvania since the early 1800s?  An ongoing boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia makes this plausible. (For more information, read “The Boundary Controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia, 1748-1785” by Boyd Crumrine in Annals of the Carnegie Museum, Vol. 1, 1901-1902,  pages 505-524, available from Internet Archive,  https://archive.org/details/annalsofcarnegie01carn/page/n5/mode/2up:  accessed 25 May 2020).

Analysis: William Posten served as a gunner with Captain Willing’s company of marines. William died about 1778 – 1779. William was probably from Virginia.  The men were recruited from Fort Pitt which explains the listing in Pennsylvania Archives.

On this Memorial Day, 2020, I honor William Posten (gunner), who died during the American Revolution. I still don’t know his whole story and I don’t know if we are  related.  Plundering the homes of British sympathizers was accepted during this time period. He is one of  millions who died fighting for this country we call America and for the freedoms that we enjoy today.   Thank you, William!

REFLECTION:

Again, I took one piece of information and expanded on it.  When I did my initial research 12 years ago, I was sure that William Posten (gunner) was somehow related to my family. I based that assumption solely on the entry in the Pennsylvania Archives.  I began to question my reasoning until today when I discovered information about the border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia during the late 1700s.  There is always so much more to every story!

What I learned:  History of U.S. Marine Corps, duties of a gunner on a war ship. Consider both the information and the source—look deeper! Boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia in late 1700s.

What helped:  Entry found previously, online access to Naval and Marine Corps history.

What didn’t help:  Assumption that listing in Pennsylvania Archives meant all names were of persons from Pennsylvania. Even that is in question!

To -do:  Search for more information as BSO item.


SOURCES:

[1] ‘Journals and diaries of the War of the Revolution with lists of officers and soldiers, 1775-1783.”   In Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Volume XV, pages 658-660.  Accessed 12 December 2011 from www.fold3.com ; p. 659

[2]Edwin Howard Simmons, The United States Marines: A History, 4th ed. (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998); (https://archive.org/  :  accessed 24 May 2020), page 1.  

[3] Charles R. Smith & Charles H. Waterhouse, A Pictorial History, The Marines in the Revolution (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975;  https://www.usmcu.edu/Portals/  : accessed 22 May 2020).

[4]E. Gordon Bowen-Hassell, Dennis Michael Conrad & Mark L. Hayes. Sea raiders of the American Revolution: the Continental Navy in European waters. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy, 2003.. Page 8: Life on Board a Continental Navy Warship.

[5] Thomas Truxton. “A short account of the several general duties of the officers, of ships of war, from an Admiral, down to the most inferior officer. Placed on the Books of the Navy, according to the British Regulations. Arranged with additions, &C. “ (no date). Naval History and Heritage Command  (https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/s/short-account-of-the-several-general-duties-of-officers-of-ships-of-war.html#gunners  :  accessed 24 May 2020).  Note:  search term “gunner American Revolution”; one of 9 documents under Category: American Revolution.

[6] “Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com  : accessed 23 May 2020), entry for Wm Poston, Virginia, imaged index card; citing Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, M881 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration [n.d.], roll 1060.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020

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. 

Promising lead or brick wall? Continuing search for C.W. Black

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.  [1]  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. [2]  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. [3]  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,[4] 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. [5]  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. [6]  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. [7]
  • Charley Black. Born 22 February 1847. Died 6 May 1921. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. [8]

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. [9] 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.”[10] 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[11]

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:

REFLECTION:

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

SOURCES:

[1] 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.

[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] 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.

[4]. “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.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.  

[7] 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.

[8]. 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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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).

[11] 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.

The genealogy goes on. . . with negative findings

Review any death certificate and obituary.  In many cases, the person’s birth information, including names of parents, is correct. You can easily find more about the family from census and other records. What if the information is not that easy to find?  Negative evidence and information can still provide clues. In this post, I describe my frustrating search for C.W. Black, presumed father of Nellie Black Johnson, and one of my husband’s maternal great-great grandfathers.

According to Nellie’s death certificate[1], her parents were C.W. Black and Mary Bull. Nellie’s oldest daughter, Katie Jean Johnson Brannon, provided the information.  Nellie’s obituary[2] stated that she was born in Montague county, Texas and spent most of her life in Limestone county, Texas.  I begin an attempt to prove that the information is correct.  A DNA Match with Nellie’s granddaughter (my husband’s mother) led to the possible identification of Marianne Bull, born about 1855 and daughter of Isaac L. Bull and Sarah Neel, as Nellie’s mother.

Discovering C.W. Black has been more difficult. What can I expect to find? Start with the 1900 census.

  • Evidence for Nellie’s birth year of 1888:  Census records for 1920 through 1940 plus Nellie’s death certificate support this date, plus or minus one year.
  • Evidence for Nellie’s reported birth place: Nellie should be with one or both parents in either Montague county or Limestone county, Texas.  Search criteria:  families with Black surname, females 11 or 12 years old with first name of Nell, Nellie or Nettie.

NEGATIVE EVIDENCE or NEGATIVE FINDINGS?

Transcription errors are possible. Handwriting can be hard to read. Faded ink creates illegible entries. Online databases do not always capture the person or family that you are searching for.  I searched the 1900 census for selected Texas counties page-by-page.  So far, I found six families with surname of Black in Montague county and 19 families with surname of Black in Limestone county.  I recorded all individuals on blank census forms. [3] Results to date?  None that described Nellie or her reported family.

These are negative findings.  According to Elizabeth Shown Mills, negative findings are “the absence of information we hoped to find.” [4]  I hoped to find Nellie and at least one parent in either Montague or Limestone counties.  Negative evidence, as defined in Genealogy Standards, is “a type of evidence arising from the absence of a situation or information in extant records where that information might be expected.”[5]  My search is not complete so I cannot label it as negative evidence.

Example, 1900 census form, Montague county, Texas, families with Black Surname. Compiled by Susan Posten Ellerbee, March 2020.

One genealogical standard is termed “evidence mining”.[6]  We look for items to answer our research questions. In this instance, the findings are negative.  The standard encourages us to not ignore any potentially useful evidence or information even if it’s negative. Pay attention to all of the evidence not just evidence that is direct or indirect.

These preliminary negative findings suggest that Nellie and her parents did not live in either Montague or Limestone counties in 1900.  At this time, I cannot confirm where they lived in 1900.  Alternative hypotheses:

  1. Nellie and her parents (or at least one parent) lived in another county in Texas in 1900.
  2. Nellie and her parents (or at least one parent) did not live in Texas when the 1900 census was taken.
  3. Nellie and her parent/ parents were not counted in the 1900 census.
  4. Nellie’s father died before 1900 and her mother remarried. Nellie is listed with surname of her stepfather.
  5. Both of Nellie’s parents died before 1900. Nellie lived with another family.

My research question remains the same:  Where did Nellie and her parent/ parents live at the time of the 1900 census?  Where to next?  Search Falls county, Texas, home of many in the Bull family, and next door to Limestone county.

As my frustration mounts, I temporarily halt this search. Next post:  My continued search for C.W. Black.  

Reflection

This post is shorter than many. I am stumped and need to take a break. These negative findings take more time than expected as I process the information.  Searching census records page by page is not difficult but is tedious. Initially, I wrote a short post about genealogy during this Corona Virus crisis but decided not to post it. Others have done so. I just keep on working.

I questioned my mother-in-law about her dad’s mother’s family. She does not remember Nellie’s family ever being discussed or visited – no mention of aunts & uncles or cousins. Nellie died when mother-in-law was in her early 20s. I don’t remember if I knew the names of my great-grandparents when I was that age. But, my parents freely shared that information with me later.  And, I heard the names of cousins, aunts and uncles (such as Dad’s Uncle Frank, his mother’s brother) on both sides.  Tracing my parents’ families seems easy compared to this brick wall. Was there some scandal? Possible that Nellie was an only child? Possible that Nellie’s mother died in childbirth and Nellie was taken in by other family members? Possible that Nellie might be found in an orphanage in 1900? Is Nellie’s maiden name really Black? Given the DNA connection, I believe that Nellie’s mother was a Bull. The identity of her father remains a mystery.  

What helped:  Blank census forms from NARA, mostly legible handwriting on census records.

What didn’t help: feeling overwhelmed by this and our nation’s current health crisis.  

To-do: Search 1900 census in Falls county, Texas for families with Black surname. Complete page-by-page search of 1900 census in Limestone and Montague counties. If no relevant findings, expand searches to other counties. Write post about limited findings for C.W. Black as found in online databases.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Your Roots blog, 2020.


SOURCES:

[1] “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.

[2] “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.

[3] . “Resources for Genealogists, Charts and forms, Federal Census Forms, 1900 census,” The National Archives and Records Administration ( https://www.archives.gov/files/research/genealogy/charts-forms/1900-census.pdf  :  accessed 1 February 2020).

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, 3d ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 25.

[5] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2d ed. (New York, New York: Turner Publishing Company, 2019), 81-82.

[6] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 24-25.

Who is Mary Bull?

Mary is a common first name. Multiple generations of men in a given family  name their daughters Mary. Some of the men have two or three wives. The result? Several women named Mary, same surname, same place, all born within a 2 to 10 year time span.  Sorting the women requires a careful review of records. In this post, I describe my search for Mary Bull, mother of Nellie Black Johnson, and her ancestors.

Statue of mother and baby. Personal collection of Susan Posten Ellerbee. This was a gift from co-workers when I left one position.

Nellie Black Johnson is my husband’s great-grandmother on his mother’s side.  A DNA Match provided names of possible common ancestors. To review, Nellie reported her parents as being born in the U.S. A. on the 1920 census.  [1]   The names of Nell’s parents, C.W. Black and Mary Bull, appear on her death certificate. [2]  Mrs. Don Brannon (a.k.a Katie Jean Black), Nellie’s oldest child, provided information for the death certificate.

Nellie’s birth is reported as 16 January 1888 in Texas.  Many women are between 20 and 30 years old when they have children.  If true for Mary Bull, then consider a birth year between 1858 and 1868 for her.  This date range places her in the same generation as DNA Match’s known ancestor, Joseph Jackson Bull, born in 1867. [3] Mary Bull, mother of Nellie Black, could be sister or cousin of Joseph Jackson Bull.

Nellie’s obituary provides more specific information.  “A native of Montague County, Mrs. Johnson [Nell Black]. . . . had lived in Limestone County most of her life and had resided in the Point Enterprise and Mexia area for most of those years.”[4]

First, I searched for Nell Black and Nellie Black in 1900 and 1910.  Preliminary online searches revealed nothing for 1900.  However, the 1910 census showed promise. 22-year-old Nellie Black, boarder, born in Texas, living with Sarah J. Bull, a widow, and her 4 sons, age 9 to 21 at McLennan county, Texas. [5] Both of Nellie’s parents reported here as born in Texas.  Nellie’s age and birthplace are consistent with other records. Question:  Is Nellie Black related to Sarah J. Bull?  If so, how?  If this Nellie is our Nellie, then her parents’ birthplaces narrow to the state of Texas.  

Earlier census records for Sarah J Bull show her as wife of James H. Bull. [6] Sarah J [Armour] Bull married about 1885 to James Henry Bull (1849, Tennessee- 1903, Falls county, Texas).  James Henry Bull is presumed son of Reuben Bull & his 2nd wife, Mahala Runnells.[7]  Isaac Bull, acknowledged father of Joseph Jackson Bull (DNA Match’s ancestor) is presumed son of Reuben Bull and his 1st wife, Susannah Smith. These facts suggest that Nellie Black, boarder living with Sarah Bull in 1910, is related to Sarah’s husband, James Henry Bull and, therefore, also related to Isaac Bull.

Texas counties in Mary Bull and Nellie Black history. SOURCE: http://ontheworldmap.com/usa/state/texas/texas-county-map.html

To identify other women named Mary Bull, I started with daughters and granddaughters of Reuben Bull, known ancestor of DNA Match.  

  • Mary Elizabeth Bull (1853 – 1947) married Daniel J Cole. [8] According to Mary’s death certificate, [9]  she is the daughter of Reuben Bull & Mahala Ann Runnells. Mahala was Reuben’s 2nd wife.
  • Mary E Bull (1856-1921) married William Grimes in 1874.[10]  According to her death certificate, her parents were W.J.  Bull & [no name given] McDonald[11].  William Jackson Bull, born about 1826 in Mississippi, is presumed to be the son of Reuben Bull & 1st wife, Susannah Smith, according to online family trees. 
  • Conclusion:  Neither of these women – Mary Elizabeth Bull Cole or Mary E Bull Grimes- were Nellie Black’s mother.  It is unlikely that either one had a child with a man who was not their husband. 

One more person to consider– Marianne Bull, born 1855 in Texas[12] to Isaac L. Bull (1827, Mississippi – 1884, Texas) and Sarah Jane Neel (abt 1836 – Jan 1870, Texas). Isaac is presumed son of Reuben Bull and his 1st wife, Susannah Smith.  Isaac’s half-brother was James Henry Bull, whose widow took in Nellie Black as a boarder in 1910.  Marianne’s birth in 1855 or 1856 at Texas is consistent with suggested birth year of Nellie’s mother. She seems like the best candidate so far.

SUMMARY:

  • Nellie Black, born 1888 in Montague county, Texas. Parents named as C.W. Black and Mary Bull.
  • Nellie Black as boarder in 1910 with Sarah J. Bull, widow of James Henry Bull, in McLennan county, Texas.  Birthplace of Nellie’s parents recorded as Texas.
  • James Henry Bull and Isaac L. Bull, presumed half-brothers, sons of Reuben Bull. Isaac L. Bull is known ancestor of DNA Match.
  • Marianne Bull born about 1855/ 1856 in Texas to Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel. Similar birth year and place as suggested from Nell’s records.
  • Mary E. Bull, born 1853, (daughter of Reuben Bull) married Daniel Cole. Not Nellie’s mother.
  • Mary E. Bull, born 1856, (daughter of W. J.  Bull) married William Grimes.  W. J.  Bull and Isaac Bull presumed brothers, sons of Reuben Bull and his 1st wife. Not Nellie’s mother.
  • Falls county, Limestone county and McLennan county are next to each other.   

ASSERTION:  Marianne Bull, born about 1855 or 1856 to Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel, is most likely person to be mother of Nellie Black.  Her marriage to C.W. Black hasn’t yet been proven.  Did Marianne and C.W. die before 1910? I remain open to these and other possibilities. My search for C.W. Black is the subject of another post!

Reflection

This is one of the more difficult questions that I have encountered.  I ruled out some possibilities and discovered others.  I reviewed the same information multiple times.  Online hints, once connected to a specific person, never seem to change. Example:  Parents named on death certificate for Mary E. [Bull] Cole but same document is attached to another Mary Bull, daughter of different parents.  Similar to many of my posts, this one does not represent reasonably exhaustive research. It does show a partial unraveling of persons with common names.

What helped:  Information from DNA Match who shared names, dates and places. Availability of online sources. Remembering process for Genealogy Do-Over—information, charts, forms, evidence, analysis of evidence.

What didn’t help: Conflicting evidence posted online in family trees.  Shaky leaf hints not really helpful after finding them the first time.  Individual pieces of paper didn’t always find their way to the correct pile.  You don’t even want to see my desk at the moment!

To-Do:  Continue page-by-page search of 1900 census for Nellie Black in Montague and Limestone counties.  Search 1880 census for Nellie Black in Shackelford county. Compile information about C.W. Black and write summary.  


SOURCES:

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Pt Enterprise School District, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 3A, dwelling 41, family 47, H.L. Johnson head, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 1 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1829.

[2]  “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed & downloaded 2018), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[3] Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com   : accessed 10 March 2020), memorial 18325374, Joseph Jackson Bull (1867-1902), Pima Cemetery, Pima, Graham County, Arizona; gravestone photograph by Mike H; memorial created by Mike H.

[4] “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.

[5] 1910 census, Nellie Black. 1910 U.S. Census, McLennan county, Texas, population schedule, Waco, sheet 25B, dwelling 276, family 298, Nellie Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed, 26 February 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm publication T624_1584.

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Falls county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 4, sheet 10B, enumeration district (ED) 22, dwelling 181, family 186, James H. Bull and Sallie J. Bull; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed, 26 February 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm publication T623.

[7] 1850 U.S. Census, Yazoo county, Mississippi, population schedule, sheet 508A, dwelling 541, family 553, James H. Bull, age 2; presumed son of Reuben Bull, age 50; (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed, 13 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm publication M432_382.  

[8] “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 5 March 2020), entry for Danie F. Cole and Mary E Bull, 23 Jan 1870, Falls county, Texas; citing “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” Salt Lake City, Utah: Family Search, 2013.

[9] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 6 March 2020), entry for Mary Elizabeth Cole; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 39642.

[10] “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 4 March 2020), entry for Wm Grimes and Mary E Bull, 4 Jan 1874, Falls county, Texas; citing “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” Salt Lake City, Utah: Family Search, 2013.

[11] Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 4 March 2020), entry for Mrs. M. E. Grimes; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 28652.

[12] 1860 U.S. Census, Falls county, Texas, population schedule, Marlin post office, sheet 149,  dwelling 84, family 84, Mary Black, age 4; Isaac Bull, age 28; Sarah bull, age 24; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed, 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm publication M653_1293.

Nellie’s parents were born in USA

A brick wall without a hole or chink or a hurdle to hop over? Depends on your perspective and the status of your research.  In the case of Nellie Black Johnson’s parents, the wall has a tiny peephole. This post describes positive and negative evidence about Nellie’s parents and suggests next steps.

Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother, married Henry Louis Johnson about 1910, likely at Limestone county, Texas [online tree with no source reported].  Her death certificate claims her race as White; birth date, place and parents as 16 January 1888 in Texas to C.W. Black and Mary Bull. [1]  The Johnson family was in Limestone county by the mid-1870s. Nell died on 2 May 1960 in Mexia, Limestone county, Texas and is buried in the Point Enterprise Cemetery. Informant was her oldest daughter, Katie Johnson Brannon.  Next steps: Determine place of birth for Nell’s parents using 1920 and 1930 census for Nell and Henry.  1940 census lists place of birth for the person but not parents.

Evidence:  

1930 census. Mexia, Limestone county, Texas. Henry L. Johnson, age 46; wife, Nellie Johnson, age 42; eight children:  Katie, 18; Luther C, 17; Horace C, 14; Alice P, 12; Annie R, 10; Edith N, 8; Mary L, 4; and Marie A, 1. [2]  Race, W [white] for all. Birthplace of Nellie’s father and mother recorded as “United States” and “United States”. Birthplace for both of Henry’s parents recorded as “Mississippi.”

1920 census. Enterprise, Limestone county, Texas. H.L. Johnson, age 35; wife, Kellie [per transcription] Johnson, age 32; 5 children:  Kate, 9; Clyde, 7; Horace, 5; Pauline, 2 7/12; Ruth, 2 months. [3] Race: W [white] for all. Birthplace of Nellie’s father and mother recorded as “USA” and “USA”. Birthplace for both of Henry’s parents recorded as “Mississippi.”

Analysis:   Listing parents as born in “United States” and “USA” seems odd. This is the first time that I encountered an entry like this. Perhaps she didn’t know or didn’t remember. Perhaps they said nothing more for a reason. Possible that Nellie knew but didn’t want to reveal that information? If not, why not?  

1920 census instructions for enumerators may shed some light (page 31, item 147, column 21)[4]:

“In case, however, a person does not know, the state or Territory of birth of his father, but knows that he was born in the United States, write United States rather than ” unknown.”

Enumerators for 1930 census received similar instructions (page 29, item 174, columns 19 and 20). [5]

According to a source at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City[6],  USA was sometimes used to designate birth in Oklahoma Territory or Indian Territory before Oklahoma statehood in 1907. This leads to the possibility that Nellie’s parents were born in Oklahoma Territory, Indian Territory or another territory.

Nellie & Henry Johnson, date unknown, circa 1950-1955? Personal collection, Susan Posten Ellerbee [Yukon, Oklahoma]

My mother-in-law reported that her grandmother was Native American, according to oral family history. Mother-in-law sent DNA to two companies. Neither one reported any Native American ancestry.

“Anyone with even a single indigenous American ancestor has indigenous American ancestry, but not everyone with an indigenous American ancestor has indigenous American DNA.” [7] 

Could Nellie’s Native American roots be so far back that they don’t show up in the current generation?  Do other descendants of Nellie have Native American genes in their DNA?

Next step- 1910 census.  April 1910. Waco City, McLennan, Texas.[8] 22 year-old Nellie Black, boarder, birthplace Texas, living with Sarah J. Bull, 45, head of household and her 4 children.  Nellie’s parents recorded as born in Texas.  Is Sarah J Bull related to Nellie’s mother, Mary Bull?  No definitive information about Sarah J Bull yet. Is this even our Nellie?

At least two online trees identify a South Carolina family consisting of C.W. and Mary Black as Nellie’s parents.[9], [10] According to census records, William Caleb Black and wife, Mary, lived in South Carolina continuously from 1870 to 1920. 1900 Census[11] shows a child, Nellie Black, born 1886 in South Carolina. Family does not appear to have ever left South Carolina.  Conclusion:  William Caleb Black, South Carolina, is not C.W. Black, father of Nellie Black.

From the scant evidence, I make these propositions:

  1. Nellie’s parents did not tell her where in the United States they were born.
  2. Nellie did not want to reveal where her parents were born.  
  3. Nellie’s parents were born in one of the territories prior to statehood.  
  4. Nellie’s ancestry does not include Native Americans.
  5. Nellie’s Native American heritage was not passed on genetically to her granddaughter.

I contacted DNA matches who have surnames of Johnson, Black and Bull.  One person shared some leads that are now on my to-do list.  Late last night, I found two interesting census records and will follow those clues later.

Reflection

March is Women’s History Month. This post briefly outlines one woman- Nellie Kay Janet Black Johnson, my mother-in-law’s paternal grandmother- and our DNA dilemma. This year, I plan to look deeper into my mother-in-law’s family.   I continue to work on goals related to other families.  

I am somewhat discouraged by the status of family trees on my computer-based genealogy program. I thought that I was making such good progress with my Genealogy Do-Over! Dad’s tree, the first one used for Do-Over, still needs work. Rewriting Posten family history will certainly help there! Other trees are in various states of repair.  Thanks to the Do-Over, I made a back-up every time that I worked on a tree. I re-opened the latest version and re-named with 2020 in the title. Note to self –one person and one family at a time!

What I learned:  A little more about DNA testing.  

What helped:  Picture of Nellie. List of DNA relatives for mother-in-law. Response from one DNA relative. Remembering that a genetic cousin is always a genealogical cousin. Just need to find the genealogical relationship! Writing this post.

What didn’t help: Ineffective and late night searches. I need to try different strategies!  Work on the brick walls earlier in the day. Not tracking what I found.

To-do:  Create research logs for Sarah J. Bull and others as I search; document findings. If needed, set aside for a week or two.  Follow leads from DNA match and census records.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


SOURCES:

[1] “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.

[2]. 1930 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Mexia, enumeration district (ED) 11, pg. 6B, dwelling 135, family 149, Johnson Nellie, wife, age 42; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 26 Feb  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2371.

[3]. 1920 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Pt Enterprise School District, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 3A, dwelling 41, family 47, H.L. Johnson head, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 26 Feb  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1829.

[4] Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, January 1, 1920, Instructions to Enumerators (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1919), digital image;  United States Census Bureau (. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/programs-surveys/decennial/technical-documentation/questionnaires/1920instructions.pdf  : Accessed 26 Feb 2020).

[5] Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States, January 1, 1920, Instructions to Enumerators, Population and Agriculture (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1930), digital image;  United States Census Bureau (. https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1930instructions.pdf  : Accessed 26 Feb 2020).

[6]Susan M. Ellerbee,  handwritten notes, 27 July 2014, in vertical file for Henry Louis Johnson and Nellie Black.

[7] “Indigenous Americas Region, “ Ancestry Support (https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Native-American-DNA  : accessed 27 Feb 2020).

[8]. 1910 U.S. Census, McLennan county, Texas, population schedule, Waco City, enumeration district (ED) 89, sheet 25B, dwelling 276, family 298, Nellie B. Black, age 22; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 26 Feb 2020; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publicationT624_1575.

[9] Camtrot, “Trotter Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/20201602/person/943537300/facts  : accessed 26 Feb 2020), “C.W. Black,” born and died in South Carolina.

[10] GaryTaylor8958, “Lynda Jean Martin Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/9918609/person/-693511314/facts   :  accessed 26 Feb 2020, “William Caleb Black,” born South Carolina; last census record 1920 in Garvin, Anderson, South Carolina.

[11] 1900 U.S. Census, Anderson county, South Carolina, population schedule, Garvin, enumeration district (ED) 52, sheet 20A, dwelling 217, family 225, Nellie Black, age 14; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 26 Feb 2020). Nellie listed as born in South Carolina.