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

 

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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.

SimmonsClayDeedie11July2013MtHopeCemWellsTX009

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!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

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

 

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

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

Creager_Holcomb_migration

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

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

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

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

George Creager Holcomb 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

Are Samuel and Elizabeth the parents of Narcissa?

March brings spring flowers and Women’s History Month. My narcissus are blooming, one of the few flowers that thrive in spite of not inheriting my Dad’s green thumb! From my husband’s family tree, Narcissus/ Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb, first wife of George Creager Holcomb, became the logical choice for this post.

narcissus_2019George Creager Holcomb is my husband’s 3 times great grandfather on his mother’s side. My husband is descended from George and his second wife, Mary Ann Selman. Why write about Narcissus when we aren’t directly related? My husband shares a genetic link with the children of George and Narcissus. And, I know little about her.  Writing posts help me focus as I search for more information.

According to an extensive history of the Holcombe family, as published [1] :

D-3-4-2-1-4-1 George Craiger [sic] Holcombe, p. 499.2, had a grant of 
640 acres in Cherokee Co., Tex. June 24, 1851. He was the pioneer 
in Tex. of is family, having come from Ark. In 1842 with his 
father-in-law, Samuel  RUTHERFORD. . . . m. 1st in Cherokee Co., 
Tex._____, 184_, Narcissus RUTHERFORD, who d. _____, 185__,
 dau. of Samuel, b. Va.,  ____1801 and Elizabeth, b. in Tenn. ____,1802.
 Ch. (b. Mt. Pleasant, Nacogdoches (now Cherokee) Co., Tex. )
1- John Lewis,  ____ 1843, d. _____1865, 
2- W.____ Harrison, _____ 1845, _______, 
3-Sarah, _______, 1848, _______, 
4-George Washington, _____ 1850, ______.

Question  1:  Who were Narcissus Rutherford’s parents?

Samuel Rutherford and Betsy Brown married on 12 October 1828 in Greene county, Tennessee.[2] Betsy is a common nickname for Elizabeth.

The Holcombe history suggests that Samuel Rutherford lived close to George C. Holcombe’s parents, Joseph Holcombe and Sarah Creager, in Arkansas.  Both families are on the same page of the 1840 census for Washington county, Arkansas[3]:

Name: Saml Rutherford
Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Mountain, Washington, Arkansas
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 3
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 1
Free White Persons - Under 20: 3
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 5

NOTE:  Listed only male children.  If Narcissa’s suggested birth year of 1827 is correct, then she would have been 13 years old in 1840.  Birth years for the older male and female were between 1801 and 1810.

Name: Joseph Hanleen [Joseph Holcomb] [Joseph Haulcom]
Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Mountain, Washington, Arkansas
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 49: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 49: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 5
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons - Under 20: 7
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 9

NOTE: 1840 census for Joseph is consistent with census and other records for his family.

George Holcomb and Narcissa [sic], his presumed wife, lived in Cherokee county, Texas in December 1850.  This census[4] is the only one with Narcissa [sic] specifically named:

Holcomb, Geo, 29, M, farmer, value $1,280, born AR
Holcomb, Narcissa, 23, F, born TN
Holcomb, John L, 5, M, born TX
Holcomb, Wm. H., 4, M, born TX
Holcomb, Sarah E, 2, F, born TX

Also listed in Cherokee county in 1850 were Samuel Rutherford, his presumed wife, Elizabeth and presumed daughter, Leona [5]:

Saml Rutherford  47 M  land value 640 birthplace: Tenn
Elizabeth  "     46 F  birthplace:  Tenn
Leona      "     20 F  birthplace: Tenn

George Creager Holcomb married his second wife, Mary Ann Selman, on 4 May 1853 in Cherokee county, Texas. [6]

In June, 1860, 8- year-old George W. Holcomb was living with Samuel & Elizabeth Rutherford [7] , presumably his grandparents.  His age suggests birth year about 1851-1852. On the 1900 census, George W. Holcomb’s  birth is listed as Dec 1851.[8] George’s death certificate[9] records his birth date as 23 December 1850. His parents are listed as “ G.C. Holcomb, born Mo [Missouri]” and “Nacis Relarford, born Mo [Missouri].” Informant was W.F. Garrison or Miles Foss Garrison, husband of George’s daughter, Ethel.  As indirect information, George W. Holcomb’s death certificate plus the 1860 census back the assertion that Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford were Narcissa’s parents.

Question  1:  Who were Narcissus Rutherford’s parents?

Based on indirect evidence, Samuel Rutherford and Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Brown were likely the parents of Narcissus/ Narcissa Rutherford. The assertion has not been definitely proven.

Based on 1850 census record, Narcissa was born about 1827 in Tennessee. The 1840 census for Samuel Rutherford suggests that he lived close to Joseph Holcomb’s family.  Perhaps the assertion that Samuel was George Holcomb’s father-in-law is true. The troublesome information is “3 males ages 10-14” on the 1840 census.  Ages of both Narcissa and her presumed sister, Leona, would be in this age range at that time.

Evidence to answer other questions remains elusive:

question

    1.  When and where did George and Narcissa marry? Based on birth of 1st child in 1843, probably in 1842.  
    2. When and where did Narcissa die? Where is she buried? Narcissa died between December 1850 (birth of last child) and May 1853 (date of George’s 2nd marriage). Possibly in Cherokee county, Texas. Perhaps she died from complications of childbirth.  
    3. When and where did Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford die? Where are they buried? Samuel and Elizabeth certainly died after June 1860, possibly in Cherokee county, Texas.

George, Mary Ann, and the other 3 children of George and Narcissa remain “lost” in the 1860 census.  I searched  images for Cherokee, Nacogdoches and Angelina counties with no results.  Relatives found in Cherokee county in 1860 included George’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Holcomb, Mary Ann’s widowed mother, Ann Selman, and all of George’s siblings.  Are pages missing from these records?

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

Much of  Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb’s life and death remains a mystery to me. I hoped to discover  more answers  in a timely manner. I started a research log for Narcissus and documented what I had already found.  I tracked my searches and recorded findings.  I added the names of Narcissa’s descendants to my RootsMagic program.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled because of previous successes with minimal effort?   This brick wall shows only one very small crack.  I’m not sure if I met  the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ genealogy standard this time.

What I learned:   Census record index on Fold3 easier for me to review than index on Ancestry. Fold 3 has census records for 1860 and 1900 through 1930.  Another  free website found : Cemeteries of Texas (https://www.cemeteries-of-tx.com)

What helped:  Holcomb history.  Family tree last updated in 2016.

What didn’t help:  Not having list of references cited in Holcombe history.  Limited time to complete research and post per my own self-imposed deadline. Taking information in Holcombe history as fact.  Cursory searches of newspapers for obituaries and other information.

Next steps:   Search 1830 Tennessee census for Samuel Rutherford. Search 1860 census images again for Angelina, Cherokee and Nacogdoches counties.  Are pages missing?  Broaden search to other nearby counties- Anderson, Henderson, Houston, Rusk, Smith, Trinity.  Identify and search other cemeteries in the three target counties.  If no results, expand to cemeteries in other identified counties.

SOURCES: 

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

[2]Tennessee State Marriage Index, 1780-2002,”  database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VNZG-PWG   : accessed 19 March  2014), Samuel Rutherford and Betsy Brown, 12 Oct 1828; from “Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : 2008);  citing p. 446, Greene, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.

[3] 1840 U.S. Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line 4, Saml Rutherford, Joseph Hanleen; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   :   viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration,Washington, D. C. microfilm publication M704.

[4] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 927B, household 847, family 847, Narcissa Holcomb age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[5] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 897B, dwelling 641, family 641, Saml Rutherford age 47; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   :  viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[6] “Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909,”  database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   ; accessed 20 March 2019), entry for George C. Holcomb and Mary Ann Sellman,Cherokee county, Book B, p. 142.

[7]  1860 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 2, p. 431, dwelling 268, family 268, Samuel Rutherford; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1290.

[8] 1900 U.S. Census, Anderson county, Texas, population schedule, Palestine, p. 6A (ink pen), George W. Holcomb; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T623.

[9]  Johnson County, Texas, Death Certificate no. 37184, George Washington Holcomb, 7 July 1937; digital image in “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,”  Family Search  (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed & printed 3 March 2017); Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019