Remember the babies

October is Family History Month. Did you know that October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month? This is an especially poignant time for me as I recall my several miscarriages- i.e. pregnancies ending before 20 weeks of gestation.  We only know the gender of one of those babies- a girl with multiple genetic anomalies.  My sons know about these losses. My stories will probably fade with time and could be totally forgotten within a generation or two. In this post, I explore ways to remember those babies who died before, during or within a year or two of birth.

Before the days of effective birth control methods, women often bore children about every two or three years.  Babies breastfed for about a year which provided some contraceptive protection.  Some groups prohibited (or at least, discouraged) sexual intercourse while a mother was breastfeeding. Many children died before the age of 5.

Look at the birth dates of known children in your own family tree.  If there is more than a 2- or 3- year gap, suspect pregnancy and/or infant loss.  A young child (less than 5 years old) recorded on one census but not on the next may have died in the interim. Consider events such as war when men might be away from home for years at a time.  If the husband returned home briefly during war time, a pregnancy may have occurred. 

Records documenting losses due to miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births are not easily found.  In 1900 and 1910, census takers recorded the number of children born to a married woman and the number still living.  In my case, the record would show 2 children born and 2 living with no mention of the number of pregnancies.  One example from my family tree – Mattie Williams Johnson reported as mother of 7 and 5 living in 1900[1]; mother of 9 and six living in 1910[2].  Assertion – two children died between her marriage year of 1882 and 1900, one more died between 1900 and 1910. How can I find these children?

Obituaries of women sometimes state “She was preceded in death by an infant son [or daughter]”. Mattie died in 1936. Her obituary says that she is survived by four sons and one daughter.[3]  This roughly corresponds to the six living children reported on 1910 census.  A daughter, Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, died in 1925 at the age of 35.[4]  So, I am no closer to identifying the 3 children who apparently died young.

Earlier and later census records did not record childbirth information. Look through local newspapers and browse beyond obituaries and death notices.  Following a sentence about Sunday school attendance in the Point Enterprise section, The Mexia (Texas) Weekly Herald for 24 October 1930 reported—“The infant son of Mr. and Mrs. George Johnson was buried at this place Sunday morning with Rev J.E. Gore officiating.” [5] Later, I found the death certificate for this boy, Edward Johnson, who was stillborn. [6]  Edward was Mattie’s grandson, son of George A. Johnson and Bertha Freeman.

Search online cemetery records for persons with birth and death dates close together.  Some gravestones mark the date of death and ‘infant’ or ‘son/ daughter of _______.’  Older gravestones often list the person’s age, such as ‘age 2 months  3 days.’  I found one of Mattie’s children, Everett, born 1903, who died when he was 5 years old.  Everett’s gravestone has this information – s/o [son of ] Mattie and G.W. Johnson.[7]  Although not an infant when he died, he is one of Mattie’s three dead children.

What about Mattie’s two other children? Online trees show dates but no other information and no sources for the information provided. My preliminary, and certainly not comprehensive, searches reveal nothing further.

Where else to look for information about infant deaths? Family Bible entries may contain the only record of a child’s birth and early death.  A distant cousin graciously shared digital copies of pages from an 1876 Bible.[8]  One page has this entry:  “John Uzemer Ellerbee died December 7, 1871, aged 3 years, 3 months, 8 days”.  John’s parents were James John Ellerbee and Elizabeth Hayes.

Print sources are not always available online. Other places to check:

  •  Local genealogical and historical societies:
    •  Books of cemetery listings and obituaries published by the local society.  For example, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society publishes several books of cemetery inscriptions. Example –  Dutchess County NY Cemetery Inscriptions of Towns of East Fishkill, Fishkill & Wappinger (Kinship Books, KS-273 ISBN:1560123060).
    • Vertical files kept by these societies. Send a donation if you ask their staff to search for you.
  • Local libraries and County Clerk Offices.  Staff may or may not be able to search for you, especially if you don’t know a specific name or date.  Enlist the help of a relative or someone from a local genealogical or lineage society, if needed.
  • Walk local cemeteries. Carefully record what you find, even unreadable gravestones. A small stone next to adults could mark the grave of a child.

To review, discovering those children who died young is a challenge. Use a multitude of online and print resources. Search widely and deep. Document sources for yourself and others. Even ‘unsourced’ online trees give clues. Remember to tell the stories of all the babies, not just those who lived beyond infancy and early childhood!

REFLECTION

I am sad as I recall my own miscarriages. As a registered nurse, I worked with new mothers and both well and sick babies.  Every loss is painful. Family stories are not complete until we tell the stories of the children who never lived to have children of their own.  In this post, I primarily reported about children who died in the 20th century. However, I believe that you can use my suggestions to search for those who died in earlier times.

What I learned:  Use print resources more!

What helped:  Information already in my paper and digital files.

What didn’t help: Continuing frustration with unsourced information in online trees. Even a note “I got this from XYZ online tree; not confirmed” would be nice!

To-Do:  Add unsourced information about Mattie’s 2 other children to BSO list. Keep my eyes open for any clues.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Armour, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 9B, dwelling 167, family 168, George Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1655.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, , enumeration district (ED) 32, p. 15B, dwelling 213, family 219, George W. Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication, T624_1573.

[3] “Mrs. Johnson, 75, dies on Monday,” obituary, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 30 October 1936; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 20 October 2020), memorial page for Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, Find A Grave Memorial # 34526511, citing New Hope Cemetery (Limestone, Texas), memorial created by Geno-seeker, photograph by PFDM.

[5] “Pt. Enterprise: The infant son . . . . “, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 24 October 1930; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[6] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 October 2020), entry for Edward Johnson; citng Texas Department of Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[7] Interment.net, database (http://www.interment.net  :  accessed & viewed 19 January 2012), Horn Hill Cemetery, Limestone County, Texas, listing for Everett R. Johnson, b. 6 Oct 1903, d. 23 Aug 1909, citing Horn Hill Cemetery (Groesbeck, Limestone Co, Texas), compiled by Bruce Jordan, 1 November 2004.

[8] Family data, Demarious Albina Ellerbee Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: American Bible Society, 1876); original owned in October 2016 by Darby Blanton, [address for private use].

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.

Momma moves in

A parent moves in with one of the children. Generally, the move comes after their spouse dies. Safety and/or health reasons often precipitate the move.  Other times, financial well-being is a major consideration. Loneliness can be another factor.  Any combination of these or other reasons occur.  Genealogists look for residence patterns. Does the older person stay with one child or appear in different homes? What prompts the move to one place or another? These are the family stories to be explored and told.  In this post, I give two examples from our family tree.

Census and other records show an older person living with a younger person. When there are 20 or more years difference in ages, we often guess that the older person is a parent of the older relative. Did the older person move in with the younger person? Did the younger person move in with the older person?  What factors determined the action?

EXAMPLE #1: Unmarried child as designated caregiver for older parent

Wright Roswell Ellerbee, born in 1875, was 6th of seven children born to James John Ellerbee and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Hayes. James John died in December 1877[1], leaving his wife with 6 children and her aging parent, Moses Hayes in Georgia. [2]  Within a few years, Elizabeth joined her stepson, William Green Ellerbee, in Cherokee county, Texas.  The 1900 census [3] shows 24-year-old Will [Wright] R. Ellesbee [Ellerbee] as head of household with his mother, 58-year-old Elizabeth and his brother, Asa, age 23.  Next door lived  Wright’s brother, James Walter Ellerbee, and his family.

Roles reversed for the next census. E. Ellerbee, widow, is now listed as head of household with Wright, her 35-year-old son. [4]  Again, the two brothers, Wright and James, lived close to each other.  Elizabeth died in 1917.[5]  Wright continued to live with his brother, James Walter Ellerbee, until Wright’s marriage about 1934 to Effie Susan Wesley.[6]  Wright delayed marriage while his mother was living and did not marry until he was in his 50s. Wright died in Cherokee county, Texas in December 1940 at the age of 65. [7]

Wright Roswell Ellerbee was the only unmarried child. Did he remain single from a sense of responsibility for his widowed mother?  He lived with his brother, James, for about 15 years after the death of their mother.

EXAMPLE #2:  Parents living with child, widow remains with same child

Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, age 64 and her husband, 79-year-old George Creager Holcomb, were recorded as living with their son, Garrett, in 1900.[8]  After George’s death in 1902, [9]  Mary Ann remained with Garrett, his wife, Minnie, and their seven children according to the 1910 census.  [10]  Presumbly, Mary Ann lived with Garret until her death in 1913 in Cherokee county, Texas. [11]

When did Mary Ann and George move in with Garrett? Garrett married about 1892. He and Minnie may have moved in with his parents or vice versa.  George’s advancing age likely determined this living arrangement .  Was Garrett living on the family homestead or in the family home? Did George and Mary have a closer relationship with Garrett than other children? Answers to these questions remain speculative. A will, probate file and cause of death for George Creager Holcomb may give clues.

I recall seeing other examples on our family trees, such as:  

  • Adult child moves in with parent after death of other parent. Sometimes this child was a widow or widower, with or without children.
  • After death of spouse, remaining parent moves in with child
  • Widow/ widower moves from home of one child to home of another child

TELLING THE STORIES

My examples give only the barest facts.  I plan to expand on these facts later.  To tell the story, follow journalistic guidelines and search widely:

  1. Who is the parent? Who is the child? Is the child oldest, youngest or in-between? Later census records show relationship between the head of household and others. In some cases, a parent is listed as a ‘boarder’.  An older person with a different surname is most likely to  be the wife’s parent but could be a relative of either spouse.
  2. What reason is suggested for the move? What is the child’s marital status? What are the ages of both the parent and child?
  3. When did the move occur? Estimate the time frame. Look for those wonderful newspaper tidbits – “Mrs. Mary Jones visited her daughter, Wilma Stone, this weekend then returned to her home in Wabash where she lives with her son, Phillip.” Obituaries give clues – “Mrs. Mary Jones died yesterday at the home of her son, Philip, where she had been living for the past 5 years.”
  4. Where were both parent and child living before the move? Where are they living now? Look for similar addresses.
  5. Why did the move occur? Consider elderly parent’s age, declining health, no longer being able to work, financial status. Look for cause of death as reported on death certificate as a clue. Is the child the only one still living on the family farm or in the family home? Consider this clue- “The daughters of Philip Jones are the 4th generation to live in the family home.”
  6. How did the move occur? Was it a fairly simple matter of moving some furniture from one place to another place in the same community? What type of transportation would have been used – wagon, car, truck, train, other?  Consider the effort of downsizing and the effects on the whole family.

In summary, look beyond the basic facts of an elderly person, or other relative, living with a younger person. If the census does not give relationships, consider whether the older person is really the parent of the younger person. Delve deeper into these stories to enrich your family’s story.  Even a best guess may have some truth in it!

For additional information about writing a story, read this article: How to write like a journalist

Reflection:

The topic for this post came as we prepare a room in our home for my mother-in-law. My father-in-law died last year. Since then, my mother-in-law requires more help to care for her home.  She maintains most of her self-care.  Social isolation associated with Corona virus accelerated her decision. Yes, my mother-in-law and I get along. Both of my parents are deceased.

As usual, as I write for my blog, I make progress on cleaning up paper and digital files. Five census records, 3 cemetery records, 2 marriage records, 1 death record done and 100s to go! This post helps me to do more than simply recite facts.  

What I learned:  Aging parents living with children was not uncommon. In one case, the parent lived with a different child over a 30-year period (3 decennial censuses). I have to look through all of my files to find that one again!  I realize that there is more to each story than what the census records tell.

What helped:  family tree with names and dates already recorded. Sources listed for facts.

What didn’t help:  Incomplete citations.  Not all information in the records had been transcribed to computer-based family tree.  

TO-DO:  Include living arrangements and my best guess in notes.  Write stories that go beyond the facts. Begin journal about current move.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES:

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), pp. 14-42 & 14-43.

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. NARA Roll 144..

[3] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #22, Wright Ellerbee (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619..

[4] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., , enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 14B, family #272, E. Ellerbee, head; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 2012); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Microfilm publication T624_1619.

[5] Find a Grave. Elizabeth Ellerbee. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 8 August 2020), memorial page for Elizabeth A Hayes Ellerbee, Find A Grave Memorial # 35222677, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Wanda Karr Ellerbee, photograph by Wanda Karr Ellerbee..

[6] Marriage of Wright Roswell Ellerbee to Effie Susan Wesley estimated from 1940 Census showing Wright, wife Effie and son, Omar Lee, age 5.

[7] Texas Death Index. “Texas Death Index, 1903-2000,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 8 August 2020), entry for Ellerbee, Wright Roswell; citing Texas Department of Health, State Vital Statistics Unit, Austin, TX.; page 7166, certificate no. 54106.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 13A, dwelling 221, family 227, George Holcomb age 79; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1619.

[9]  Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 8 August 2020), memorial page for George Creager Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Susan Harnish, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[10]  1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 0014, p. 20A, dwelling 367, family 371, Mary Ann Holcomb age 74; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T624_1538.

[11]  Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : accessed 8 August 2020), memorial page for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 01196611 , citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Judy Murphy, photograph by Judy Murphy.

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.

Reflection on Independence Day 2019

When did you realize that you might have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War?  Did you hear stories from older relatives about your grandmother’s great-great-great grandfather?  Perhaps an ancestor provided food or supplies to the war effort.  You trace your family tree back to the early 1800s and wonder, “Who might have been here in the 1700s?”  “Did someone actually fight in the American Revolution?”

Some people found at least one of these ancestors.  Others discovered family members who supported the British.  Slaves and free persons lived here during the 1770s and 1780s.  Your family may have arrived in the United States later.  In this post, I list family surnames and identify known or presumed Revolutionary War patriots.  There are probably more but I haven’t found them yet.  Some are recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Some may also by recognized by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Paternal:

Surnames:  Postens, Brown, Mills, Eccert, Fulkersin/ Fulkerson, Yates, Shotwell, Richards, Van Sickle, Ostrander, Smith, LaCoe, Dupuy, Ash, Miller

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759 -1831); presumed
  • Cornelius Van Sickle                      ; presumed

Maternal:

Surnames:  Tucker,  Clearwater, Irwin,  Traver, Hallenbeck, Jones, Havens, Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee, Wolfe.  (Note: Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee and Wolfe families immigrated to United States in early to mid-1800s).

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827; recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Husband’s paternal:

Surnames:  Ellerbee, Love, Hayes, Powell, Brown, Puckett, Simmons, Roach, Wright, Bailey , Allen, Sutton, Hester, Fayard, Ryan, Lanier

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Jonathan Roach (abt 1737 – after 1802); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution.

Husband’s Maternal:

Surnames:  Johnson, Williams, Greer, Hutson,  Black, Bull, Reed, Friddle, Williamson, Copeland, Holcomb, Creager,  Selman,  Embry, Madden, Edens, Adams, Richardson

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • George Valentine Creager (1734 – 1808); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Many of our personal ancestral families lived in the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s.  At least one family may have been Tories (a.k.a. supported the British).

In summary, the roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in American history.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Although family stories told of Native American ancestry, our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Our ancestors immigrated to the United States from the British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe (primarily France and Germany).  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally within their own communities or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.

We recognize the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change that part of our family history. I am diligently recording our family’s history and sharing information with others.  I encourage you to do the same. Without all of them, we would not be here!!

Signed,
Susan M. Posten Ellerbee
Designated Family Genealogist for our branches of the Ellerbee-Johnson-Posten-Tucker families
Yukon, Oklahoma, USA

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog 2019

 

 

 

“A soldier of Texas has fallen”: George Creager Holcomb (1821-1902)

Last month’s blog focused on Narcissa Rutherford  (Are Samuel and Elizabeth parents of Narcissa?).  Today, I tell about her husband, George Creager Holcomb, my husband’s great-great-great grandfather.  George’s ancestors immigrated to Texas from Arkansas with family origins in Kentucky, Maryland and South Carolina.  

Creager_Holcomb_migration

George Creager Holcomb and his 2nd wife, Mary Ann Selman, are my husband’s great-great-great grandparents on his mother’s side.  George Creager Holcomb, born in 1821,  was the oldest of 11 children born to Joseph Holcomb (1796, South Carolina – 1881, Texas) and Sarah Creager (1799, Kentucky – 1870, Texas).  Both Joseph and Sarah are believed to be descended from Revolutionary War Patriots.  George’s birthplace is reported as Illinois in some online family trees and Arkansas in most census records.  The 1830 census for Washington county, Arkansas Territory lists Joseph Holcomb’s family as including one white male, aged 5 thru 9 . [1] Given preponderance of evidence, George was probably born in Arkansas.

Joseph Holcomb moved his family from Arkansas to Cherokee County, Texas between 1840[2] and  November, 1850. [3]  According to the 1850 census, only one of George’s siblings, Henderson H. Holcomb, age  7, was born in Texas.  Arkansas was the listed birthplace for all others.  Henderson’s reported birth date of 7 January 1844[4] suggests that the move occurred between 1840 and January 1844. This is consistent with other information that Joseph Holcomb followed George and his first wife, Narcissa Rutherford, to Cherokee county in the early 1840s. [5]

Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb died about 1851 leaving George with four children under the age of 10. George married his second wife, 17 year-old Mary Ann Selman, in May 1853. [6]  Children came rapidly – Joseph W. Holcomb in May 1854; Thomas Henry Holcomb in January 1856; Benjamin Franklin Holcomb in February 1858 (my husband’s great-great grandfather), and Julia A. Holcomb in July 1860. Children born during and after the Civil War were Beatrice Holcomb in February 1863, William Garrett Holcomb in October 1866, Jefferson Lee Holcomb in August 1869 and Martha Alice Holcomb in January 1872.[7]

According to information on his grave marker, George C. Holcomb served as Captain in the 10th Texas State Troops, Confederate States Army. [8]

George Creager Holcomb 5

Source: Find A Grave Memorial no. 32434400. Photo taken by  Denise.

G.C. Holcomb received an appointment as 2nd lieutenant in Company K, 1st Regiment, Texas Infantry, Confederate States Army on 9 September 1861.[9]  In July 1862, quartermaster records show the sale of “2 mouse colored mules, $500” by G. C. Holcomb.[10]  The First Texas Infantry joined Confederate forces in Virginia in August 1861 with the regiment later becoming part of John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade and the Army of Northern Virginia.  “The regiment saw extensive combat throughout the war” including 32 major battles such as Antietam on 17 September 1862; Gettysburg on 1-3 July 1863, and the Petersburg siege from June 1864 to April 1865. “The regiment surrendered along with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.”[11]

After moving to Cherokee County, Texas in the 1840s, the family unit suffered losses and celebrated new lives. George and his 1st wife, Narcissa, lived in Cherokee county in 1850[12].  In 1860, Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents, reported George W. Holcomb, age 8, as living with them. [13]  Census records for 1870[14], 1880[15] and 1900[16] show that George, Mary Ann and their children continued to live in the Cherokee county area.   

brick wallNow comes my brick wall –  finding George, Mary and their older children in 1860. Where were the older children of George and Narcissus– John Lewis, William Henry, and Sarah Elizabeth- in 1860?  This topic is for another post. For now,  the whereabouts of George and his family in 1860 remain hidden from me. George’s occupation as a farmer may present clues to solve this mystery. 

George Creager Holcomb died on 19 September 1902 in Alto, Cherokee county, Texas. [17] , [18] Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, his 2nd wife, outlived him by more than a decade, dying on 5 June 1913 in Cherokee County. They are buried in Shiloh Cemetery near Alto. [19].  His obituary sums up his life– “A soldier in Texas has fallen. . . . nobility of character and his stainless integrity. . . . pleasant and genial in manner. . . . possessed a buoyancy of spirit that made him everybody’s friend. . . . He lived and died a consistent Christian. . . . He was the oldest member of a very large connection in Texas. . . . ” 

The Holcomb tradition continues as many descendants still live in this area of east Texas. 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

Some states recognize April as Confederate History month. First drafts of this post began with that fact and included information about controversies surrounding the holiday. I removed that introduction because I commented last year on those who seem to want to remove images and references to the Confederacy from the public view. I re-read part of my journal entry / reflection from that post.  I still do not believe that we should judge the past according to today’s standards.

As usual, writing this post revealed gaps. One gap has now turned into a brick wall that seems impenetrable. I spent hours reviewing 1860 census records page by page and haven’t yet found George and Mary.  I only found one of George and Narcissa’ s children, George W. Holcomb, who was living with Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents. I saw an article about the use of plat maps and tried that approach with no result. I now add this item to my “To-Do” list.

I am just beginning to apply Genealogy Do-Over principles to this family tree, in essence starting over.  Colored folders contain hard copies of records, individual record sheets and family group sheets. Story writing helps with digital file cleanup. Checking data and rewriting citations seem less tedious when done in relatively small chunks like this.     

What I learned:  Sometimes, it’s best to just put something aside. Continue to use research logs of parents as base for creating logs for children.  

What helped: access to multiple online and print resources.  Met goal of less than 1500 words for content of post. Keeping genealogy standards in mind.

What didn’t help: increasing frustration when I couldn’t readily find 1860 census record for George and Mary Ann. I spent more time than expected on this post. 

TO-DO:  Death certificate for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb. Add following items as BSOs (bright shiny objects that detract from main objective) — Find George C Holcomb, Mary Ann Holcomb and their children in 1860. Follow lives of John Lewis, William Henry, Sarah Elizabeth and George Washington Holcomb, children of George and his 1st wife, Narcissa. Fill in research logs for each person as I discover information.  Report on blog or write article for publication in genealogy journal. 

SOURCES

[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Washington county, Arkansas Territory, population schedule, , page 193, line 7, Joseph Holcomb, ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed,printed,downloaded 17 Jan 2015 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M19-5.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line, Joseph Hanleen [Holcomb]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration,Washington, D. C. microfilm publication M704. No date recorded on census image.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 881B, dwelling 527, family 527, Joseph Holcomb; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com   :  accessed, printed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images  (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 14 April 2019), memorial page for Pvt Henderson H. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 9791625, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Bev, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[5] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, The Holcombes. Nation Builders.: A Family Having as Great a Part as Any in the Making of All North American Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Elizabeth Weir McPherson, 1947), 500.

[6]   “Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966 – 2002”, database, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Apr 2011), entry for George C. Holcomb and Mary Ann Sellman.  Record Book:  Marriage Records of Cherokee County, Texas (1846-1880), Vol. 1. Compiled by Ogreta Wilson Huttash, Jacksonville, TX 75766, 1976. Repository: Dallas Public Library.  P. 34. “As recorded in Book B, p. 142”.

[7] Sources for the children’s birth information include census records, death certificates and gravestones. Will share details per request.

[8] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com   : viewed, printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Susan Harnish, photograph by Denise.

[9] “Unfiled papers and slips belonging to Confederate Compiled Service Records,” digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb (confederate, Texas); citing Confed. Arch. Chap. 1, File No. 92, page 1; National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M347, roll 0189.

[10]  “Confederate Papers relating to Citizens or Business Firms, compiled 1874-1899, documenting the period 1861-1865,” digital images, Fold3  (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb, sale of 2 mules; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M346, roll 0455; document 260.

[11] James A. Hathcock, “First Texas Infantry,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkf13   : 17 April 2019).

[12] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 927B, household 847, family 847, Narcissa Holcomb age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[13] 1860 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 2, p. 431, dwelling 268, family 268, Samuel Rutherford; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1290.

[14] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 1, Alto Post office, p. 9 (ink pen), dwelling 60, family 60, Halcomb George C, 49; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593.

[15] 1880 U.S. Census, Houston county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 32 D (ink pen), dwelling 264, family 276, Holcomb G C age 59; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1312.

[16] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 13A, dwelling 221, family 227, George Holcomb father, age 79; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1619.

[17] Obituary for George Craiger Holcomb, typewritten “copied from the Alto Herald”, no date, in documentation file supporting Membership Application of Otha Holcomb Harrison (National no. M670197) on John Holcomb, approved February 1983; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

[18] Find A Grave, George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400.

[19] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 101196611, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Judy Murphy, photograph by Judy Murphy.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019