Rachel Taylor was born about 1863 in Wilson County, most likely between the town of Wilson and what is now Elm City. Records consistently name her mother as Cherry Battle, or Barnes, but a single entry renders her father’s identity is more ambiguous.
In 1866, Willis Barnes and Cherry Battle legalized their relationship by registering their cohabitation in Wilson County. They informed the registrar that they had been married six years. In the first post-Civil War census of 1870, Rachel Barnes is the oldest child, at 6, in their household. Three younger children follow: West, Jesse and Ned.
However, in the 1880 census, the family appears as: Willis Barnes, wife Cherey, stepdaughter Rachel Battle, children Wesley, Jesse, Ned, Eddie, and Mary Barnes, niece Ellen Battle, and son Willey Barnes. “Stepdaughter”? Rachel appears to have been born after her parents’ marriage in 1860, and this is the only reference I have found that assigns her the surname “Battle.” She married in 1882 as “Rachel Barnes” and is listed as Rachel Barnes on several records related to her children. When she died in 1925, a month after suffering a stroke, her son named Willis Barnes as her father. Was the 1880 censustaker merely mistaken? Misinformed?