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.

Catherine Deborah Brown Powell Barker: Part 5. Blended family series-Powell, Brown, Barker

Twice wed, twice widowed, twice stepmother to another woman’s chlldren and mother of six.  Those words summarize the matrimonial life of Catherine D. [Brown] Powell Barker. This post is the fifth (and last) in this series about one blended family in my husband’s family tree.  Catherine was second wife of James Thomas Lafayette Powell; Catherine and James are my husband’s great-great-grandparents on his dad’s side.venn diagram_blended family_copy2

Briefly, James T.L. Powell fathered three children with his 1st wife, Deborah Daniel. His 2nd wife was Catherine Deborah Brown, the subject of this post. James died in 1890, leaving Catherine a widow with 3 living children aged 2 to 11 years. Elias Barker fathered six children with his 1st wife, Launa Barber. Elias and Catherine married in 1892 and brought three more children into the world. Catherine is the one person held in common by all of these children.

PROFILE: Catherine Deborah Brown

BORN:    19 November 1860, Mississippi (possibly Simpson county)

MARRIAGES:  1st–22 March 1877 to James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas. James died 1890 at De Soto, Louisiana. 2nd – 1 September 1892 to Elias Barker at Cherokee county, Texas. Elias died 20 August 1900 at Cherokee county, Texas.

DIED:     10 March 1944, Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas

BURIED: Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas

PARENTS:  R.L. Brown & Marguerite Puckett (as named on Catherine’s death certificate)

PLACE IN HISTORY:

1861 – 1865:  Civil War. Catherine and her parents lived in Mississippi. Relatives fought on the side of the Confederacy.

30 March 1870 – Texas readmitted to the Union.

October 1870 – Brown family moved to Cherokee county, Texas.

1870s to 1930s – agricultural growth, especially cotton in Cherokee county. Railroad expansion meant that smaller towns disappeared. Sawmill towns proliferated in East Texas.

1930s- farming declined in the area although cotton is still a significant crop. Timber and cattle becoming more prominent.

CATHERINE’S STORY:

Catherine barely remembered her life before Texas. She called Cherokee county, Texas, her home for 60 years and that’s where she is buried. Married at 17 to a widower with 3 children,  life revolved around her husband, James Powell, children and step-children.  She loved them all.  She bore the loss of at least one child, possibly two. Then, unexpectedly, James died in 1890. Catherine, only 30 years old, became a widow with three young children to raise. The next years were difficult for the family.

Elias Barker’s family lived near James and Catherine. Remember, ‘near’ in the 1890s meant within a mile or two or on the next farm. When Elias’ wife, Launa, died in 1892, Catherine may have attended the funeral.  However they met, Elias and Catherine married in September 1892 and another blended family was born.  Three children were born to this union: Reba Barker in 1893; Ernest Emory Barker in 1896 and Alpha M. Barker in 1898. Their happiness was short-lived. Elias Barker died in August 1900, only months after the Twelfth Census of the United States.  Ten years after the death of her first husband, Catherine again found herself a widow with young children to raise.

During the next years, the family moved from place to place. 1910 found Catherine as head of household in Wildhurst, Cherokee county, “one of the many sawmill towns in East Texas,”  with her three children by Elias Barker.  Sometime after this, she became dependent on her children.  In 1920, Catherine lived with her son, William Powell, in Alto, Cherokee county,  Texas.  Between 1920 and 1930, she moved to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, with her daughter, Reba Barker Dennis.  They moved back to Texas by 1935 and resided in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas in 1940.

Children of Elias Barker and Catherine Brown Powell:

  1. Reba ‘Bertie’ Barker. (5 August 1893 – February 1990). Married Joe Mavert Dennis. Reba and Joe had two children: Lilly Kathryn Dennis (25 March 1915 – October 1993), married in 1935 to Alton G. Hall (1904 – 1985);  Joseph M. Dennis JR (12 September 1923 – 17 November 1999), married to  Betty F. Thomas ( 1924- 2016 ).
  2. Ernest Emory Barker (17 February 1896 – 23 October 1965). Married 4 May 1919 to Willie Etta Mae Chilcoat (1902-1944). Children of Ernest and Willie Etta: Norma Kathryn Barker Carlin (1921-2016); Clara Inez Barker Kelly (1924-2011); Edith Mae Barker Meadows (1926-1996); Billie Nell Barker Benoit (1928 – 1997); James Reginald Barker (1930-1992); Roy Milton Barker (1935 – 2006); Reba Sue Barker Tomplait (1939 – ? ).
  3. Alpha M. Barker (6 September 1898 – 19 March 1991). Married about 1921 to Sherman Albert McCoy (11 Dec 1895- 8 August 1966). Children of Alpha and Sherman: Albert Merle McCoy (1921-1968); Billy O. McCoy (1924 – 1925); Donald Ray McCoy (1938-2007).

Mrs. Catherine Barker died on March 8, 1944, in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas at the age of 83 years, 3 months and 20 days. Cause of death? Uremia, an elevated level of waste products in the kidneys, usually the result of chronic kidney disease.  She is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Wells, Cherokee county, Texas, near Elias Barker.  Interestingly, her gravestone shows her name as “Kathryn”.  She signed her name as “Mrs. Catherine Barker” on her Widow’s Pension Application and “Catherine” is the spelling that I use.

Journeys taken by Catherine Brown Powell Barker:

About 1870:  Simpson county, Mississippi to Cherokee County, Texas – about 360 miles

1870 to 1920:  Within Cherokee County, Texas – about 10 to 15 miles for each move

Between 1920 &  1930:  Alto, Cherokee County, Texas to Homer, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana—about 180 miles

Between 1930 & 1935:  Homer, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana to Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas – about 245 miles

1944:  Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas to Wells, Cherokee County, Texas – about 145 miles

Texas_LA_map_crop4_colors_counties_legend

 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

This series represents work that began in 2011. I added some details in 2017 and more as I wrote.  Confession time–I consulted more sources than are listed here. I was not as obsessive about listing each source separately. Why? No specific reason. I have the documents and references in my paper and digital files. If you want or need a more complete list, I will provide it to you.  Future posts will revert to  more comprehensive source lists.

What I learned:  There are multiple stories for each person. I enjoyed writing the stories as I tried to personalize the events in each person’s life.  Call the stories ‘historical fiction’ if you like. I don’t have evidence to support parts but the stories are based on real events.

What helped:  Previous work on the Ellerbee family. Semi-complete paper files. Entering information to Roots Magic. Catherine’s middle name from death certificate of daughter, Katherine Deborah Powell Ellerbee.

What didn’t help: Incomplete information about some of the children in each nuclear and blended family.

To-do:  Continue to follow collateral lines at some point in future.  Search for picture of Catherine Brown Powell Barker.  Consolidate all 5 parts into a cohesive document and send for publication in local or state journal.  Consider a ‘process’ post about how I put information together.  Explore Catherine’s connection (1910 census) to Wildhurst, Texas, a town that ceased to exist after the sawmill closed in 1944.

SOURCES: 

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

Catherine Brown & J T L Powell:  “Texas, Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 1 February 2020), entry for J.T. L. Powell and Catherine Brown; citing Texas Department of State Health Services and county marriage records on microfilm located at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

“Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed and printed 29 November 2012), entry for E. Barker and Mrs. Catherine Powell, 25 September 1892; citing Texas Department of State Health Services and county marriage records on microfilm located at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Wildhurst, enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 1A (ink pen), dwelling 5, family 5, Catherine Barker head, age 48; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_1538.

1920 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto town, Justice precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 21, p. 6B (ink pen), dwelling 127, family 131, Barker Katherine, mother, age 62; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed   11 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1786.

1930 U.S. Census, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Homer City, enumeration district (ED) 14-16, p. 7B (ink pen), dwelling 145, family 146, Borker [Barker] Kathyrn, mother, age 69; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626.

1940 U.S. Census, Jefferson county, Texas, population schedule, Port Arthur, enumeration district (ED) 123-100, p. 15A (ink pen), dwelling 331, Barker Catherine, age 79; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com       : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T0627_04079.

Find A Grave memorials for Reba Barker Dennis, J.M. Dennis, Lilly Kathryn Dennis, Alton G. Hall, Joseph M. Dennis, JR ; Emory Ernest Barker, Billie Nell Barker Benoit; accessed November 2019 through January 2020.

Texas Birth Index entries for Reba Sue Barker, Lilly Kathryn Dennis; accessed January 2020.

John R. Ross, “Cherokee county”, no date, Texas State Historical Association (https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcc10   :   accessed 15 Jan 2020).

“Wildhurst, Texas,” no date, Historic Texas (https://historictexas.net/cherokee-county/wildhurst-texas/  :   accessed 2 February 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020

 

Back to the Blended Families- Elias Barker and 1st wife, Euna Barber

With this post, I continue the story of one blended family in my husband’s family tree.  Briefly, I started with James T L Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah Daniel (nuclear family #1) then told about James T L Powell and his 2nd wife, Catherine Brown. James and Catherine are my husband’s great-great grandparents on his dad’s side.  Now, I turn to the other nuclear family—Elias I. Barker and his first wife, Launa/ Euna Barber.

Barker_barber family

To catch you up, three posts began the longer story:

  1. Blended family introduction 
  2. James T L Powell and Deborah A.C. Daniel
  3. James T L Powell and 2nd wife, Catherine Brown

PROFILE: Elias Barker

Born: September 1853 in Milam County, Texas.

Married: 13 August 1874 at Milam county, Texas to Launa Barber.  Launa Barber Barker died in 1892, presumably at Cherokee County, Texas.

Died:  20 August 1900 in Cherokee County, Texas.

Buried:  Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas.

PLACE IN HISTORY

December 1845 –  Texas admitted to union as a state.

1 February 1861 – Texas seceded from the Federal Union.

October 1861- General H. H. Sibley marched troops west from San Antonio “to claim New Mexico and the American southwest for the Confederacy.”

1 January 1863 – Battle of Galveston. The seaport returned to Texas control.

13 May 1865- Last land engagement of the Civil War fought at Battle of Palmito Ranch in south Texas, more than a month after General Lee’s surrender.  Elias Barker was 12 years old.

1866- Beginning of Texas trail drives era, moving cattle from Texas to northern markets.

30 March 1870 – Texas readmitted to the Union.  Reconstruction continues until about 1874.

ELIAS’ STORY- PART 1

March 1861. From their bed, eight-year-old Elias Barker and his brothers tried to hear what their parents were whispering about.  But they couldn’t make out any of the words. Whispering adults only meant one thing—trouble or a new baby. The next morning, Papa, his gun and knapsack with some food were gone before the sun rose.  Elias’ mother answered his question before he could even ask- “Papa’s gone hunting. He’ll be gone for a while.  You children eat breakfast then go do your chores like usual.”   But, Momma wasn’t smiling today like usual.  Later that day, Elias heard his momma talking to Mrs. Edwards  about “secession” – whatever that meant.  Some men and older boys had already left their homes and families to join some kind of fight. Life would not be ‘usual’ for a long time.

Those years changed Elias’ life in myriad ways. Death visited the community on a regular basis.  The color of black was everywhere. People anxiously gathered to read, or listen to, the local newspaper each time it was put on the wall outside of the newspaper office.  The words ‘killed’, ‘injured’ and ‘missing’ became everyday part of the community’s vocabulary.  Elias longed for a time without so many hardships.  Life on the farm went on, pretty much as usual.  Some of the men and boys returned but not all.  Those who returned had both physical and emotional scars.  Did Elias’ family lose a father, brothers, cousins? I’m not sure but it is certainly possible.

Elias had his eye on Euna Barber since she was a girl.  When she turned 16, Elias asked her daddy for her hand in marriage.  They wed on August 13, 1874, in Milam county, Texas.  Children did not come easily to the young couple.  Elias and Euna moved to Lee County, Texas where their first surviving child, Tempie D. Barker, entered the world in February 1880. More children quickly followed:  Arthur in March 1882; Isaac in August 1884; James Milton in September 1886; Cora in January 1889; and Katie L. in February 1892.  Six children in twelve years, a typical pattern for many couples of that era.  They led a simple life as farmers in east central Texas. Life as usual as it could be in eastern Texas after the Civil War.

Tragedy struck, almost without warning. After Katie’s birth, Euna died, probably from complications of childbirth. At age 39, Elias found himself a widower with six children under the age of 12, including an infant. Elias’ usual life again turned upside down. Thirty-two year old Catherine Powell, widowed two years earlier, was raising three children of her own. A marriage of convenience to meet mutual needs? Perhaps. Whatever the reason, Elias and Catherine married on 1 September 1892 at Cherokee county, Texas. Catherine again became a tie joining two families.

Children of Elias Barker and Euna Barber:

  1. Tempie D. Barker (28 February 1880 – 13 April 1966). Married Albert Barthlomew Stokes (1873-1927). Tempie and Albert had 5 children:  Carrie E (1896-1979), married 1st to E.M. Moore; 2nd to  Joseph Lenoah Stinson; Ima Stokes (1899 -1917); Ethel Stokes (1902-1991), married to George Barham Spencer (1899-1980); Malcolm Stokes (1905-1979), married to Viola Julia Artlip (1908-2002); Myrtle Stokes (1909-1999), married to _____ Leach.
  2. Arthur Barker (22 March 1882 – 8 August 1956). Married Lou Etta Hill (1873-1930). Arthur and Lou Etta had 4 children: Una Mae Barker (1903-1990), married to Nolan V. Lawhorn (1885-1963; Vada Irene Barker (1905-1992), married to Curtis Baldwin (1891-1972); Elias Morris Barker (1916-1997), married to Emma Lou Rhodes (1920-1987); Esther Barker (1919-1998), married to Jessie H. Dunn (1918-1996).
  3. Isaac Barker (1884 – ? ). No records found beyond 1900 census.
  4. James Milton Barker (6 September 1886 – 13 July 1920).
  5. Cora Barker (January 1889 – 1906).
  6. Katie L. Barker (28 February 1892 – 8 September 1943). Married to John Bunion Stinson. Katie and John had 4 children:  Coy Stinson (15 April 1913- 10 July 1986); Muriel Stinson (1918 –  ?); Hazel Stinson (1922 –  ?); Milton Stinson (29 April 1929 – 20 November 1999).

Next post:  The rest of the story- Catherine Brown Powell and Elias Barker.

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Reflection:

Records for Elias and Euna/ Launa before their marriage elude me.  Typing in names and dates did not produce immediate results.  Family Search website identified Isaac Barber and Tabitha Gardner as her parents. 1870 census for Isaac and Tabitha showed an 11-year-old daughter named Rohda [Rhoda?].  No other hints or shaky leaves have presented themselves.  I manually searched the 1870 census for Milam county, Texas- all 230 pages of it- and ate only 2 cookies during that process. Neither Barker or Barber found on 1850 or 1860 slave schedules for Milam county, Texas.    Next step:  consult print copy of alphabetized census records at Oklahoma Historical Society Library in Oklahoma City.

What I learned:  Tracking children who aren’t on any census record is a challenge. I found Arthur only because he is buried in the same cemetery as his parents and stepmother, Knowing the names of Elias and Euna’s parents doesn’t really affect their story as a married couple but is a ‘nice to know’ item for me.

What helped: Searches done in 2016. Multiple online resources. I am using online newspaper sources for obituaries more.

What didn’t help: Frustration at not being able to find or confirm the parents of either Elias or Euna. Finally recognized that this is a BSO for another day.

To-Do:  Add ‘find parents of Elias Barker’ and ‘find parents of Euna Barber’ to BSO list.  Add information about Elias’ children with his first wife to Ancestry tree.

SOURCES:

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

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

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

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

Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 10 January 2020), memorial page for Elias Isaiah Barker, Find A Grave Memorial # 79869838, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by seemore, photograph by Deb.

Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com) entries for Elias Isaiah Barker, Euna Barker, Arthur Barker, James Milton Barker, Cora Barker (buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas);  Tempie D. [Barker] Stokes and Katie L. [Barker] Stinson (buried in Eden Cemetery, Douglass, Nacogdoches, Texas).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog

 

 

Catherine D. Brown Ellerbee Barker: The tie that binds

Ellerbee-Powell-Barker Blended families: Part 3

Blended families are not new or unique to the 20th century.  Genealogists regularly encounter men with sequential, multiple wives and women with sequential, multiple husbands.  Widows and widowers often married men and women with children from a previous marriage.  This series began with a  summary of one blended family in the Ellerbee family tree. Next, I told about James T.L. Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah A.C. Daniel. Now comes Catherine Brown, 2nd wife of James T.L. Powell and the tie that binds the Ellerbee and Barker families together.

red scarf bow

Tied Red Scarf.  Original photo by Susan Posten Ellerbee

PROFILE: Catherine Deborah Brown

Born:     19 November 1860, Mississippi (possibly Simpson county)[1]

Married:  22 March 1877 to James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas[2]

Died:     10 March 1944, Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas[3]

Buried: Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas

Parents:  R.L. Brown & Marguerite Puckett (as named on her death certificate)

Children:

  1. Katherine Deborah Powell (18 August 1879, Cherokee county, Texas – 9 July 1959, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas)[4]. Married 27 January 1895[5] at Cherokee county, Texas to James Walter Ellerbee (7 December 1872 – 9 September 1942)[6], son of James John Ellerbee and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Hays. Katie and Walter are my husband’s paternal great-grandparents. 6 children: Odie Lesley (1896-1958), Ernest Aver (1897-1951), Evie (1901-1994), Aver I (1906-1928), Ordra (1907-1987), and James Dreebon (1915-1973).  James Dreebon Ellerbee is my husband’s grandfather.  Their stories are for a later post.
  2. William Ball Powell. (19 February 1882, Cherokee county, Texas – 25 January 1960, Cherokee county, Texas).[7] Married about 1905 in Cherokee county, Texas to Maude F. Chumley (18 October 1888 – 22 March 1958), daughter of Tom Chumley and Frances Hagood. [8] William and Maude apparently divorced and Maude remarried to _____________ Conway.   William and Maude had 4 children: Thomas Otis (1906-      ); Madaline (28 March 1908 at Nacogdoches, Texas -27 May 1909)[9]; Muriel (1912 –      ) and Margaret Nancy (7 October 1915 – 25 October 1977), married  to Tommy Ford.[10]
  3. Jessie Powell (27 January 1889 -26 November 1959), [11]. Married 1st on 24 December 1905 at Cherokee county, Texas[12] to John Thomas Beasley (20 October 1873 – 29 March 1918)[13] . Married 2nd on 29 September 1918 to Robert C. Thames. [14] * ( 1873 – before 1930). Married 3rd between 1930 & 1940 to Gust Karl Beyers (25 November 1880, Germany – 25 October 1967,  Lufkin, Texas)[15].  Children: Mattie Beasley (1907 –      ); Alma Beasley (1909 –    ); Thomas Layfeet Beasley (1910 –     ); Homer Beasley (1912 –    ); Nettie Beasley (1914    –     ); Buford Beasley ( 1919 –     ); Harold Thames (1920 –     ).

PLACE IN HISTORY:

Catherine’s life spans two centuries and eight decades. Modes of transportation changed from horse-drawn buggies  and wagons to motor cars. Wide availability of electricity markedly changed lives from candles to electric lights and wood stoves to ones powered by gas or electricity.  In-door plumbing generally made life easier.

June, 1870: 10-year-old Catherine Brown in Simpson county, Mississippi with presumed parents, W.P. and Mary J.  Brown.[16]  Her father probably fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Between June 1870 & December 1872: Brown family relocated to Cherokee county, Texas.

March 1877:  17-year-old Catherine D. Brown married James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas. Her parents apparently moved to Texas.

August 1879: Birth of daughter, Katherine Deborah, in Cherokee county, Texas.

June 1880: James & 20-year-old Catherine in Cherokee county, Texas, with her stepsons, Alvey, 14;  J.M, age 12, and Peter, age 9 plus 9 month old daughter, D.C.

February 1882: Birth of son, William B. Powell in Cherokee county, Texas.

January 1889: Birth of daughter, Jessie Powell in Cherokee county, Texas

September 1890: James T.L. Powell dies at DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was probably visiting his son, Peter.  Catherine was now a widow with 3 young children.

September, 1892: Angelina county, Texas. Catherine Brown Powell married Elias Barker, a widower with six children.

CATHERINE’S STORY:

Catherine Brown was a Southern girl through and through. Moving to Texas when she was 12 years old, she barely remembered Mississippi before the Civil War. Her daddy followed an oft traveled route from the devastated South to the promise of a better life in Texas.  They possibly lived close to James T.L. Powell, Deborah and their 3 children. In rural Texas, ‘close’ could mean within a mile or two. When she was 16 years old, Catherine married 41-year-old James, now a widower, and assumed care of his sons, now  6, 9 and 11 years old. James had given up teaching school to become a farmer.  The older boys married, began their own families and eventually moved to Louisiana. Three children of her own (Katherine, born 1879; William, born 1882; Jessie, born 1889) enriched Catherine’s life.  An event in Louisiana in 1890 had unforeseen consequences. Alvey Monroe Powell, James’ 1st grandchild, was born to Peter and his wife, Evelyn Spinks. A visit was certainly in order. Whether Catherine and their young children accompanied James is unknown. In September 1890, 65 year old James died in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, where he is buried.  Catherine, now 30 years old, became a widow with three young children. She endured for two years before marrying Elias Barker, a widower with 6 children.

Next in the series:   Elias Barker &  Catherine Brown Powell or Elias Barker & his first wife. To be published in January, 2020.

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Reflection

This is the 3rd  installment of my series about one set of blended families. I followed the outline started with the 2nd  installment – person profile, place in history, narrative story. I found this format on a webpage with scrapbooking ideas. The format helps me to be more concise and to write a more interesting story.

Earlier this year, a Brown family descendant contacted me. The person is a DNA match with my father—in-law. We traded ideas and information about the names of Catherine’s parents.

What I learned:  Writing a narrative that isn’t just reciting facts is challenging. I like the finished result.

What helped:  Previous completed research on the family.

What didn’t help:  Waiting until the last minute to begin the post.  Incomplete research logs and copying of information to RootsMagic tree on my computer.

To-do:  Update information about William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell on home computer.  Create research logs.  BSO for later—follow descendants of William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell.

SOURCES: 

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

[2] “Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[3] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944.

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

[5]. Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for Katie Powell  and Walter Ellerbee, 27 Jan 1895,  Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[6]. Cherokee county, Texas, Texas, Death certificates,1903-1982, certificate no. 39161, J.W. Ellerbee, 9 September 1942; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 26 September 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

[7] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed 12 November 2019), memorial page for William B. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 91355097, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Wanda Karr Ellerbee, photograph by Wanda Karr Ellerbee.

[8] Bexar county, Texas, Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982, certificate no. 13386, Maude Chumley Conway, 22 March 1958; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & printed 12 November 2019); Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[9] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : accessed & printed 11 October 2019), memorial page for Madaline Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 103081400, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas).

[10] “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 12 November 2019), entry for Margaret Nancy Powell Ford; citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[11]  “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org     : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019), entry for Jessie Byers, daughter of Tom Powell and Kathryn Brown; citing State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas; Vol. 132, certificates 065501-066000,Nov-Dec, Wheeler_-Bexar counties.

[12]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for J.T. Beasley and Jessie Powell, Cherokee county, Texas.

[13]  “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 12 November 2019); entry for John Thomas Beasley, died 29 March 1918, Wells, Cherokee, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[14]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for Jessie Beasley and R.C. Thomes,  Cherokee county, Texas.

[15]  Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : accessed and printed 11 October  2019), memorial page for Gust Karl Beyers, Find A Grave memorial no.69403504, citing IOOF Lufkin Cemetery, Lufkin, Angelina, Texas.

[16] 1870 census Catherine. 1870 U.S. Census, Simpson county, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 1, p. 266A, family 486, Catherine Brown age 10; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 23 January 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_748.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

School teacher, soldier, farmer-James T.L. Powell

Every soldier has a story before they became a soldier. In genealogical research, I sometimes identify people only in terms of their military experience. But, there is more to each person’s story. Previously, I wrote about a Confederate soldier, James T. L. Powell. This post describes James in terms of his other roles — son, husband, father and school teacher and farmer.

Little Creek School house, circa 1870, Buchanan, posted July 11, 2017.  Courtesy Brian Brown/Vanishing North Georgia

Profile: James T.L. Powell & Deborah Daniel (1st wife)

For more information about education in the 1860s:

 “Education during the 1860s,” American Battlefield Trust, no date ( https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/education-during-1860s   :   accessed 5 November  2019).

Elyse Hoganson,  “The evolution of  schools in Bartow County, Georgia,”  Etowah Valley Historical Society,  no date  (https://evhsonline.org/archives/43743   : accessed 5 November2019).

Brian Tomlin. “Schooling of the 1860s”,  Civil War Blog,  a project of PA Historian,  26 March 2012 (https://civilwar.gratzpa.org/2012/03/schooling-of-the-1860s/   :  accessed 5 November 2019).

Reflection:

I rewrote this post more often than usual. I just wasn’t happy with my standard recitation of facts and questions. I googled ‘writer’s block’ and found a website, “Warts and All” (https://wartsandall.blog/2019/06/25/writers-block/ ) with some ideas and templates. I tried one of the templates and liked the relative clean look. The result is this post.  

I still have lots of questions about James and Deborah. I didn’t meet the ‘reasonably exhaustive’ research criterion.   I checked Family Search again for new documents – no results. I checked Internet Archive for books about the histories of Calhoun county, Georgia and Cherokee county, Texas.  I found one book about each with no results for relevant persons with surnames of Powell or Daniel.  Print books are available at libraries distant from me. I searched Louisiana newspapers (Newspapers.com) with mixed results, specifically obituaries for Alvey and some of James’ grandchildren. Research about these descendants is not complete.

Unexpected result:  Grandparents of Cora Dowdle  (wife of Alvey Powell) are Stephen Myers Hester and Mary Delphine Fayard. Stephen and Mary are also grandparents of Deedie Bailey Simmons, my husband’s great-grandmother. My husband shares more DNA with Alvey and Cora’s descendants than we thought!

What I learned/ recalled:  Value of using multiple sources. Obituaries often give married names of female siblings and daughters.  More than one way to present information.

What helped:  Previous research about James and Deborah virtually complete with research logs and sources.

What didn’t help:  Stopping to follow-up on James and Deborah’s descendants. Finally realized that I didn’t need to include all information about all descendants for this post. I still can’t confirm Deborah’s death date or place! 

To-DO:  Obtain death certificate copies for Alonzo Powell (died 1940, Louisiana); James M Powell (died 1948, Louisiana) and Peter Powell (died 1955, Louisiana). Add to BSO list – create research logs for Alonzo, James & Peter; learn more about their children. Questions:  Who moved to Louisiana first? What was reason for moving from Texas to Louisiana?  Follow Miles & Mahala Buzby as clue to James’ parentage. Mahala could be related to James. Discover information about Thomas and Eleanor Daniel, presumed parents of Deborah A.C. Daniel.  

Sources for James T.L. Powell, School Teacher

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

1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd Distric, p. 139 (stamped), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com   : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

National Archives & Records Administration, “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia,” digital images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 8 October 2018), entry for Powell, James T.L., 18 pages; citing NARA M266. “Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Georgia units, labeled with each soldier’s name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier.” Roll 0366.

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

“Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 1 November 2019), entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county; citing county courthouse records  extracted from copies of original records in microfilm, microfiche, or book format.

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

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

“Mother’s daddy was Clay Simmons”

“Here’s my mother’s parents—Clay Simmons and Deedie Bailey.”  My father-in-law, Jerry D.,  paused before the granite grave marker at Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Texas.  Having just begun doing genealogy, I feverishly wrote the information in my notebook.  We visited multiple graves that hot summer day in the late 1990s. This post describes, in chronological manner, what I discovered about Clay Simmons and his family.  Throughout the post, I reflect on how my research practices changed.

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Clay & Deedie Simmons grave marker.  Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas. Picture taken by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013. [1]

 

Jerry D. recalled only that his maternal grandfather’s name was Clay Simmons. [2]  He did not know the names of Clay’s parents.  So, Simmons ancestry became my focus of inquiry in January 2013.  A scrapbook, presented to Jerry D. as a Christmas gift that year, described my findings.  My husband and I traveled to east Texas in July 2013 to search further.

Start with what you know. I began with Clara Doris Simmons and her father,  Clay Simmons.  A file review yielded previous online searches and a Texas death certificate for “H.C. Simmons”. [3] An early record shows the name “Richard”, followed by a question mark.  Was Clay’s other name Richard or one that begins with “H”?

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_DC

Disclaimer: This work was done PGDO (pre Genealogy Do-Over). I did a lot of point-click-save genealogy.  As I found documents, I printed and placed in a folder.  I did not keep a research log or a list of what records I found. Fortunately, most databases also printed names and  dates on the page.  I did not recognize the value of thorough and systematic record-keeping until much later!

In January 2013, I printed an online gravesite index which listed his name as “Henry Clay Simmons”. [4] I still needed proof.   Note:  We again visited his grave, among others, at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Cherokee county, Texas during our genealogy field trip.

A marriage record index entry for H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey offered little new information[5]. We obtained a copy of the original certificate on our genealogy field trip.  The certificate is now scanned and  in an acid-free sleeve.

Using “Clara Simmons” as key word, I had previously found 1930 census record for the family. [6]

Simmons, Henry C., head, age 43. 
Deedie D, wife, age 40. 
Lester, son, age 20. 
Otha F, daughter, age 18. 
Morris C, son, age 14. 
Clara D, daughter, 14. 
Mildred, daughter, age 13. 
William J, son, age 8.

“Henry C. Simmons”?  Yes, this could be Clay’s other name instead of Richard.  Maybe the online grave index entry was correct? I don’t have any notes about my initial review of this record. Did I even recognize his name? Now, I mark or highlight the name and write a note or analysis in research log. Notes include comments about the consistency or inconsistency of information.

Back another decade to the 1920 census, same county (February 2013):  [7]

  • Simmons, H.C., Head, M W, 34, M[arried], born Texas, father born Alabama, mother born Mississippi.
  • __________, Deedie, wife, F W 29, M[arried], born Texas, father born Texas, mother born Texas
  • _________, Lester, son, M W 9, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Opal F, daughter, F W 7, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________,  Morris, son, M W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Dorris, daughter, F W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Mildred, daughter, F W  3 2/12, S[ingle], born Texas.

Yes, Morris and Dorris are twins (confirmed by Jerry D)!  Their full names are Clay Morris and Clara Doris.  Information is consistent with marriage record, death certificate and 1930 census record.  To summarize, I had found:

  1. Known as Clay by family and friends
  2. Death certificate for H.C. Simmons, buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Texas. Known burial location for Clay and Deedie.
  3. Marriage record index: H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey.
  4. 1930 census: entry for Henry C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.
  5. 1920 census: entry for H.C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.

The search continued for additional documents with both names—Henry and Clay.  We found no new records during our field trip. Finally, Henry’s World War I Draft Registration card surfaced: [8]

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_WWI Draft regis_card

Richard can definitely be ruled out as part of Clay’s name.

I presented Henry Clay Simmons, a.k.a. H.C. Simmons, a.k.a. Clay Simmons  in a scrapbook dedicated to the Simmons family ancestry.  Jerry D. said that he had never heard his grandfather called “Henry” or even “H.C.”   After confirming the identity of  “H.C. Simmons”  from  the death certificate found years earlier, I traced the Simmons line from Texas to Georgia to North Carolina in the late 1700s. And, that is a story for another day!

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Reflection:

This year, I am reviewing and cleaning up files for families of  my in-laws.  As I pulled files for this story, I realized (again) how inconsistent my recordkeeping has been.  I do not always find chronological records in the exact sequence in which events happened.  In my opinion, keeping track of when you find a record is as important as placing that record within the person’s biographical timeline. Access to records change. Websites disappear or change names.  Records transfer from one agency to another.  Agencies move to another address.

What am I doing different?  Trying to be more systematic and thorough in approach.  I create research logs and/or fill out research checklists and individual worksheets more often.  I track the sequence in which I find records.

What I learned:  Reinforced previous experiences of person being called one name but having one or more additional names.  Keep complete records of all sources and include date on which you accessed the source. Take time with record and file clean-up process.

What helped:  Printed copies of sources and records in file.  Scrapbook done in 2013. Individual worksheets and research checklists begun in January 2017 but not complete.

What didn’t help: Incomplete record keeping and analysis.

To-do list:  Continue file clean-up.  Check scans of certificates. Place originals in appropriate BMD notebook.  Create Research logs for Clay and Deedie – DONE.

SOURCES: 

[1] Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), Clay & Deedie [Bailey] Simmons; photograph by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013.

[2] Personal knowledge of [living] Ellerbee, shared with Susan Posten Ellerbee, daughter-in-law, ca. 2010-2011; handwritten notes in vertical file, Clay Simmons family, privately held by Ms. Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Mr. Ellerbee stated his grandfather’s name of Clay as a fact.

[3]. Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Standard certificate of death,” digital images, Footnote (now Fold3) (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed, downloaded 23 July 2011), entry for H.C. Simmons.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com    : viewed 30 January 2013), memorial page for Henry Clay Simmons, Find A Grave Memorial # 88689404, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Eleanor Baker.

[5] Marriage record for Mr. H.C. Simmons & Miss Deedie Bailey, (18 February 1909), Cherokee County Marriage Records: ; County Clerk’s Office, Rusk, Texas; obtained 11 July 2013.

[6] U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, enumeration district (ED) 37-34, p.3B (penned), dwelling 62, family 62, H.C. Simmons head; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed & downloaded 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2307.

[7],  U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 35, p. 6A (penned), family # 103, H C Simmons; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed & printed 22 March 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625_1787.

[8] World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1919,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed ,downloaded 2 December 2013), entry for Henry Clay Simmons; citing United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M1509.

©  Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019