Births Deaths Marriages, Migration, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

At rest in Indiana.

It pays to check back. Ancestry.com is continuously adding new databases, and I was alerted yesterday that Indiana death certificates are now available. I didn’t find any new Henderson-Simmonses, but was pleased to discover details of the lives and deaths of those I knew of.

45232_356063-02301

I’ve discussed the myriad inaccuracies in this death certificate before, but here’s a quick summary: (1) her name was Anna; (2) she was not white; (3) she was born circa 1852, not 1856; (4) her father was James Henderson, not Harrison; and (5) her mother’s maiden name was Eliza Armwood, not Henderson. The certifying physician, Benjamin D. Bradfield, is the same one who treated Anna’s son Dock Simmons for horrifying burns the previous August.

  • Montraville Simmons Jr. (1882-1910)

44494_350220-00691

Montraville? Montreville? Monteville? Which was it? Junior’s birth place was correctly listed as Canada, and his parents and their birth places were correctly stated. He died of diffuse tuberculosis and a lumbar abscess. (The certifying doctor lived in Young America, Indiana.) His sister Muncie Bassett was informant and reported that Montraville was single. In fact, he was divorced. As reported in the 10 February 1909 edition of the Logansport Daily Tribune, “Jessie Simmons was granted a divorce yesterday from Montraville Simmons, Jr., and was given custody of their one child. The defendant is permitted to visit the child once a week.”

44494_349998-00888

The irascible Montraville Simmons Sr. died of kidney disease. He was twice-widowed (his first wife, Victoria Brown, died within a few years of their marriage in Ontario, Canada) and once-divorced (from a third wife.) His father is correctly identified; his mother was Hepsie Dixon of Duplin County, North Carolina. Son Dock Simmons was informant.

45232_356182-00716

Edward Simmons also died of tuberculosis. His birth place is precisely identified as Dresden, Ontario, Canada. His mother’s middle initial is revealed to stand for “Jean,” though I think it much more likely that it was “Jane.” His wife, Cecilia Gilbreath Simmons, was his informant.

  • Susan Simmons Bassett (1878-1937)

45232_356201-01595

Susie Bassett died of a pulmonary embolism in Kokomo. Her death certificate reports that she was born in North Carolina, which is consistent with the 1881 census of Chatham, Kent, Ontario, Canada, in which she is listed as U.S.-born. (Though her brothers Doctor and Montreville were born in Canada.) She was married to Britton Bassett Jr., great-grandson of the founder (also named Britton) of the antebellum  Bassett settlement of North Carolina-born free people of color located in northwest Howard County.

  • Muncie Simmons Bassett Palmer (1873-1942)

45232_355692-01316

Muncie Palmer was apparently skipped over in the 1881 Canada census. She and Susie appear to have been born during a brief return by her parents to North Carolina from Canada in the mid-1870s. Muncie succumbed to the same disease that killed her father. Newton Palmer was her second husband. The first was Daniel Bassett, a brother of Susie’s husband Britton Jr.

  • Harold Simmons (1904-1963)

44494_350948-00152

Astonishingly, Harold Simmons seems to have been the ONLY grandchild of Montraville and Anna Henderson Simmons to reach adulthood. (And there seem only to have been three to begin with. Susan’s two died in childhood.) Harold never married and apparently had no children. His parents separated shortly after his birth, and he was reared in his stepfather Ernest Griggs’ household. At the time of his death, he was living in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana, southeast of Kokomo and Logansport.

All death certificates found at Indiana Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Virginia

Great-great-aunt Henrietta’s passing.

Another treasure from Ancestry.com’s new Virginia vital records. The death certificate of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert‘s half-sister, Henrietta Colvert: 43006_162028006071_0260-00049

  • Henrietta Rebecca Colvert! I’ve never seen a middle name for Henrietta before, and it’s nice to see that she was named for her father’s step-mother.
  • Date of birth — 4 March 1911? More like 1893.
  • I’m still not sure how Henrietta wound up in Roanoke, though I assume she ended her nursing career there.
  • The Colvert “home house” in Statesville was on Harrison Street. The nursing home in which Henrietta spent her final years was on Harrison Avenue.
  • E.S., my grandmother’s first cousin and son of Henrietta’s sister Ida Colvert Stockton, lives in suburban D.C., and he told me that he and his wife visited Henrietta in her declining years. Did my grandmother know that her aunt was living in Roanoke? Did she know when she died?
  • Is her grave marked? There’s no listing for it in Williams Memorial Park at findagrave.com.
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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Virginia

Allen vitals.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has thrilled and astonished me by making vital records available via Ancestry.com. Yesterday, cousin Barbie Jones notified me that the databases were up and open, and I thank her for part in the gargantuan task of indexing these documents.

Just as with North Carolina Marriages a couple of months ago, Virginia Birth, Marriage and Death Records are unveiling little mysteries and setting records straight.

I’ll start with the Allens.

In the 1900 census, Graham Allen is listed in Charles City County, Virginia, with wife Mary, sons Alexander and Edward, and grandsons Milton and Junius. My assumption has always been that Graham and Mary’s eldest daughter Emma was the mother of the younger boys.

Last night, I found this:

44187_162028006071_0378-00085

So, yes. Conjecture confirmed. Milton William Allen — the middle name is new to me– was 16 year-old Emma’s son. Who was Mrs. Laura Ray, “friend”? And Milton was alive as late as 1958??? Where was he living?

But then I found this:

44187_162028006051_0338-00057

Is this right? Was Junius really Graham and Mary’s youngest child? (For a fact, my grandmother told me Junius was John C. Allen‘s brother, but I figured this was a manner of speaking.) And who is James Dobson, “uncle” and “a neighbor at the time,” who attested to Junius’ birth for this delayed certificate? And when did Junius move to Paterson, New Jersey? And there was once a King James Bible recording family births and deaths?

And then I found Emma Allen Whirley and two of her children:

43004_162028006056_0039-00511

No surprises, but who was informant Joseph Ghee?

43006_162028006051_0131-00054

A bit of a sad surprise. As I wrote here, Graham’s brother Samuel is the one who’d had a brush with infamy, yet Graham ends up shot in the chest. Where was South “B” Village? Taxi driver and wood dealer? And where did his wife pull “Binford” from as Emma’s maiden name?

43006_162028006054_0373-00487

Samuel Whirley, at least, lived a longish life.

What I’ve found after just a bit of looking:

  • Laura Ray appears in the 1900 census of Harrison, Charles City County, with husband Graham Ray and three children. Laura Ann Wray’s death certificate shows that she was born 24 September 1873 to Lennie Glenn and “Annie” and died 12 June 1958 in Harrison district, Charles City. She was buried at New Vine church. Her husband Graham Wray’s death certificate reveals that he was born about 1871 to John Wray and Margaret Jones, that he was a farmer, that he died 3 March 1916, and that he was also buried at New Vine. New Vine, of course, was the Allen family’s church, too.
  • I have not found Milton in any Virginia censuses after 1900, but I’m even less sure now that the Milton Allen that lived in Kokomo, Indiana, in the 1920s is my Milton. However, he may be the Milton W. Allen listed in the 1960 Petersburg, Virginia, city directory:

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 9.29.12 PM

  •  I don’t have a death certificate, but the Social Security Death Index shows that Junius Allen, born 22 February 1896, died in January 1975 in Paterson, New Jersey. He had obtained his Social Security number prior to 1951 in New Jersey.
  • Junius’ handwriting had immeasurably improved since his scrawl on his World War I draft registration card.
  • A James Henry Dobson, self-employed barber and minister born 25 December 1884, registered for the World War II draft in Paterson, New Jersey. He reported being born in Richmond, Virginia, and named Mrs. Lavinia McKay as his contact person. Is this the same man? (The James Dobson above was born about 1875.) How could he have been Junius’ uncle?
  • Joseph Wiley Ghee’s death certificate reveals that he was born in 1897 in Charles City County to Robert S. and Lovey Williams Ghee, that he died in 1957, and that he was buried at New Vine. He was a member of the Allens’ church then, and there’s no evidence so far that he was related to Emma.
  • In the 1940 census of Hopewell, Virginia, Graham Whirley is listed as a 25 year-old lodger living in the Maplewood Avenue Extension household of Andrew Joyner, a fellow chemical plant worker. Graham is described as married, but no wife appears with him. This might be why:

43071_162028006054_0453-00098

  • Per Wikipedia’s Hopewell, Virginia, entry: “Due to its hasty construction as a mill town during the First World War, Hopewell had a large number of kit homes that were hauled in and erected in neighborhoods laid out by DuPont [Company, which operated a dynamite, and then a guncotton factory there] known as ‘A Village’ and ‘B Village.'”
  • As I’ll show elsewhere, Graham’s life contrasted sharply with his violent death. Newspaper accounts reveal that he was a church man, popular about town, and respected in and outside his community.
  • Samuel Whirley’s marriage to India Carter Lee was a late one. Their license correctly lists his mother’s name:

43068_172028008877_0708-00189

  • And here’s an earlier marriage:

43067_172028008879_0432-00337

  • And the sorry end of that one. (Los Angeles, California???):

43071_162028006073_0254-00206

I mused earlier that it was hard to believe that of Mary Brown Allen’s children, only John and Emma had children. Emma’s sole known grandchild died childless, leaving my great-grandfather’s relatively few descendants as the only extant Allens. (By my count, we number only 25 across three generations. Twenty-five.) These additional records do not change that scenario. Neither Samuel nor Graham Whirley had children, and I’ve seen no evidence that Junius or Milton did.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Misinformation Monday, no. 7.

The seventh in a series of posts revealing the fallability of records, even “official” ones.

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How does this even happen?

This is Minnie Simmons Budd‘s death certificate:

SIMMONS -- Minnie Budd Death Cert

Difficult to read, but here are the pertinent details: Born 7 May 1892 (actually, some years before, but okay); in Dudley NC (check!); to Hillary Simmons (check!); and Ludie Henderson — SCREEEEEECH!

What?

My grandmother spent considerable time with Minnie, who wanted to adopt her after her mother Bessie died. (Minnie’s two children, boys, did not survive childhood.) Bessie‘s mother was Loudie (or Ludie) Henderson. Minnie’s mother, on the other hand, was Loudie’s much older sister Ann Elizabeth Henderson.

Could I be mistaken? (“I” really meaning my grandmother.) Was Minnie some sort of secret love child of Loudie Henderson and her sister’s husband Hillary? And, if so, why would Minnie’s husband Jesse Budd blow up this fallacy in her death certificate? (Jesse was also from Dudley and presumably not only knew his mother-in-law’s name, but knew her personally in his youth.)

The answer, with as much certainty as I can muster absent DNA tests, is no. The biggest stumbling block to Loudie-as-Minnie’s mother is Minnie’s birth year. As noted above, Minnie was not actually born in 1892. The 1900 and 1910 censuses would be most helpful for pinpointing her age, but I can’t find her in either. Still, she married Jesse Budd in 1904 and most certainly was not a 12 year-old bride. In fact, their license lists her age as 17 (and her mother as Annie Simmons.) That would push her birth year back to 1887. The 1920 census yields 1884. Whether 1884 or 1887 or between, Loudie is unlikely to have been Minnie’s mother as Loudie was not born until 1874.

As ever with misinformation enshrined in vital records, there is no ready explanation for Jesse’s provision of Loudie’s name as Minnie’s mother. The confusion occasioned by grief is as good a guess as any. Moreover, Jesse was an elderly man himself and would live just six more years after his wife’s death.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Volte-face, no. 1; or 52 Ancestors: Daniel Artis.

[Though my format only infrequently focus on individuals, I’ve taken up the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. This is week 4, so I have some catching up to do. We’ll see.]

I had an inkling, didn’t I? Here’s what I wrote in my notes when I found Mariah Artis Swinson’s death certificate:

MARIAH SWINSON.  Died 6 Feb 1955, 500 Creech Street, Goldsboro NC, arteriosclerosis.  Born 14 Feb 1849 to Daniel Artis and unknown. Informant, Mrs. Mary Swinson.  Buried 9 Feb 1955, Elmwood cemetery, Goldsboro NC.  [Daniel Artis?  Is this an error or was Mariah Silvania’s niece rather than her daughter?  I conjectured that Daniel Artis was a brother of Silvania and Vicey Artis.]

Up to then, I had firmly believed that Mariah Artis Swinson, wife of Jesse Swinson, was the daughter of Guy Lane and Sylvania Artis, so I was thrown when her death certificate listed her father as Daniel. I had a Daniel Artis in my file with a question mark behind his name — was he Sylvania and Vicey Artis’ brother? He appears sparingly in records, and here’s all I knew about him:

On 20 Aug 1853, in Greene County NC, Silas Bryant sold Daniel Artis for $325 120 acres adjacent to the mouth of a lane at the dividing line between said Bryant and John Lane, the Bull Branch, and the mouth of Sellers Branch.  Henry Martin witnessed.  The deed was registered 7 Jun 1882.  [Silas Bryant apprenticed the children of Vicey Artis, who may have been Daniel’s sister.  John Lane apprenticed the children of Vicey’s sister Sylvania and probably owned her husband, Guy Lane.]  

and

In the 1860 census, Bull Head, Greene County NC, 40 year-old free man of color Dannel Artis, a ditcher, is listed next door to the household of white farmer John Lane, who reported $10000 personal property and $25000 real property, included Dannel, Mike, Penney, Dyner, Juley, and Washington Artis, who were Silvania’s children.

I have not found Daniel in earlier censuses. However, a few days ago, following up a request for assistance by a descendant of a Daniel Artis from Greene County, I examined the will and probate records of a Daniel Artis who died in early 1905.  The will, in black and white, stated that Mariah Swinson, wife of Jesse Swinson, was this Daniel Artis’ daughter, not Sylvania Artis’.

So, is Daniel Artis the will-maker the Daniel Artis that I believe to have been a brother of Vicey Artis Williams and Sylvania Artis Lane?

What does his will tell us?

There were two, in fact. The first, dated 15 January 1905, was recorded at the Greene County Courthouse in Will Book 1 at page 514; the second, dated two days later, at page 524.  The legatees are the same, but the gifts packaged differently, so I present both:

Item 1. Page 514 — to daughter Clary Edwards, wife of Henry Edwards, his interest valued at $172 in the tract of land on which Clary and Henry live. The tract was purchased from Debro Cobb with money advanced from Henry Artis. If $172 is more than the other’s children’s share, Clary is to make them even, and vice versa.  Page 524 — to daughter Clara Edwards, wife of Henry Edwards, his interest valued at $172 in the tract of land purchased from Debro Cobb. His agreement with Henry Edwards has not been recorded.

Item 2. Page 514 — to son Henry Artis, 1/4 interest in his real estate.  Page 524 — to son Henry Artis, 40 acres, including the house in which Daniel then lived.

Item 3. Page 514 — to the children of his son Lodrick Artis (Anna Randolph, Frank Artis, Lula Forbes, Madison Artis, Marcellus Artis, Ernest Artis, Dicey Batts and Hannah Artis) 1/4 of his estate.  Page 524 — to the children of Lodrick Artis and his wife Mandy, 40 acres (land Lodrick resided on at the time of his death) and all buildings thereon.

Item 4. Page 514 — to the children of his daughter Prior An Thompson (Isaac Sauls, C.D. Sauls, Maria Edwards and Clara Lane), 1/4 of his estate.  Page 524 — to Prior An Thompson’s children and their heirs, 40 acres that Willis Thompson lives on.

Item 5. Page 514 — $50 to daughter Mariah Swinson, wife of Jesse Swinson, to be paid from the shares of the others in the amount of $12.50 each.  Page 524 — A committee to be appointed to assess value of shares and make Clara Edwards’ share equal to the others, difference to be paid within seven years.

Item 6. Page 514 — none.  Page 524 — Each lot to be taxed $12.50 to pay daughter Mariah Swinson, wife of Jesse Swinson.

Grandson Isaac Sauls was appointed executor in both, Daniel Artis signed each with an X, and both were proved on 21 March 1905.

Whatever his intent at clarification, things did not go well with Daniel’s estate. A Notice of Sale ran four weeks from December 1923-January 1924 in the Greene County weekly The Standard-Laconic announcing the sale of “a certain tract or parcel of land devised to Henry Artis by Daniel Artis by his last will and testament, … containing 40 acres.” The sale was advertised pursuant to a judgment in Greene County Superior Court in the matter of Frances Hall; Bennett Hall; Bessie Woodard, infant; and Alice Woodard, infant, by their next friend Amos Woodard v. J. Settle Artis and Roumania Artis. Settle Artis, who was Henry Artis’ son, had purchased the parcel at a courthouse sale the previous July. Frances and Bennett Hall were Settle’s sister and brother-in-law, and Amos Woodard was another brother-in-law, widower of Settle’s sister Dillie.

I don’t know what Hall et al. v. Artis was about, but the allegations of the next suit over Daniel’s estate — filed in 1930 — are clear. The case caption alone is daunting: Isaac Sauls; Walter Sauls; Luby Sauls; Edward Sauls; Hattie Speight and her husband Walter Speight; Mariah Thompson; Lillie May Sauls, minor, George Sauls, minor, Sarah Sauls, minor, Lillie Lee Sauls, minor, Walter Sauls, minor, appearing by their next friend, Luby Sauls; and Nettie Sauls; Henry B. Lane; Lillie Maud Best and her husband Alex Best; John H. Lane and Carrie D. Lane, a minor, children and heirs at law of Clara Thompson; Penny Edwards, Silas Edwards, Prior Edwards and the Henry Pettaway children as follows: Hadie Pettaway, minor, Willie Harrison Pettaway, Georgia May Pettaway, minor, Minnie Clyde Pettaway, minor, grandchildren of Mariah Edwards, by their next friend Henry Pettaway  v. C.D. Sauls and Duffrey Edwards. In other words, a fight among the heirs of Daniel’s daughter Prior Ann Artis Sauls Thompson.  The crux of the matter is set out in paragraph 10:

10. That the plaintiffs, heirs at law of Isaac Sauls, Mariah Edwards and Clara Thompson are the owners of three fifths of the land devised by Daniel Artis in Item 4 of his will to the children of his daughter Prior Ann and are entitled to have the defendant Cain D. Sauls declared to have the same held in trust for them and are entitled to an accounting of the rents and profits of the same from the date of his purchase in 1908.

Instead, they alleged, C.D. Sauls had been keeping hundreds of dollars of rent for himself and, in 1928, had sold the parcel to Duffrey Edwards for $3000, with full knowledge by Edwards that Sauls was trustee for his relatives. C.D. denied all, of course. In 1937, his daughter and son-in-law, Willie Sauls Burgess and W.D. Burgess, were added as defendants after C.D. and his wife Ada allegedly tried to fraudulently transfer the disputed property to her.  In 1939, the clerk of court entered a non-suit judgment noting that the parties had reached an amicable settlement. No details were included. The matter was over.

So back to my original line of inquiry: who was this Daniel Artis?

Though he often managed to slip censustakers, the enumerator of the 1880 census found Daniel, his children Henry, Clara, Mariah, Prior Ann, and Lodrick, and their children living in a cluster in Bullhead district.  (There was a marker for “Artis Town” at a spot in the road in Greene County. I think it’s in this area.) At #260, Henry Artis, 30, wife Mary, 27, and children Frances, 16, Didida, 8, Missouri, 7, Settle, 3, and Henry, 2. At #261, Henry Edwards, 40, wife Clara, 45, and children Thomas, 19, Wright, 18, Scott, 15, Eliza, 13, George, 11, Henry, 9, Daniel, 7, and William, 5. #264, Jessee Swinson, 23, wife Maria, 20, and son Charles, 1.  #267, Willis Thompson, 28, wife Prior, 32, and his stepsons Isaac Sauls, 19, Cain Sauls, 18, and Richard Sauls, 15.  #268, Timothy Edwards, 22, wife Maria, 21, and children Mony, 2, and Lilly, 7 months, niece Alice Wood, 15, and grandmother Maria Sauls, 60. #269, Lodrick Artis, 35, wife Amanda, 30, and children Hannah, 12, Frank, 10, Lula, 8, Sarah, 4, Monsey, 2, Lodrick, 1 month, and Marcellus, 1. #270, Daniel Artis Sr., 65, wife Eliza, 60, and granddaughter Ida, 9.

This Daniel is roughly the right age to be the one listed in the 1860 census and certainly old enough to have purchased property in 1853.  [A future project: hunt for a plat or metes and bounds to compare that purchase with the land devides in 1905.]  Daniel Artis and Eliza Faircloth registered their two-year cohabitation just over the county line in Wayne County. If they were, in fact, married in 1864, she was not the mother of his children, who were born circa 1835-1860. Like Eliza, though, their mother — or mothers — probably  was enslaved, as were they. If Daniel was the brother of Silvania and Vicey, he followed in their footsteps by looking beyond the free colored community to find a spouse. (It is possible that the Daniel who married Eliza Faircloth was Daniel Artis, born in 1843 to Silvania Artis Lane. He and his wife Eliza appear in the 1880 census of Greene County with children Emma and James.)

It is time, I think, to adjust my files. Unlink Mariah Artis from Silvania and move her to Daniel, then enter all the new names I have for his descendants. The evidence is sparse and circumstantial, but sufficient to make a tentative determination that Daniel, Vicey and Silvania were siblings. They were born within about a ten-year span; they live in close proximity in Bull Head district, Greene County; they are the only Artises in the area (and among few in the county); they all had connections with Silas Bryant and/or John Lane; and there are some commonalities among the given names of their offspring (Silvania had a son Daniel; Silvania and Daniel had daughters named Mariah; and Vicey and Daniel had grandsons named Cain.)

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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Migration, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Misinformation Monday, no. 5.

The fifth in a series of posts revealing the fallability of records, even “official” ones.

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HENDERSON_--_Annie_Simmons_Death_Cert

What’s right with this death certificate? Annie Simmons‘ name — more or less, as she seems to have been called Anna in her youth. Presumably, her date and place of death. Her birthday may be right, though the birth year is probably three or four years late. She was certainly female.

But she was not white.

Annie Simmons was mixed-race, described as “mulatto” in early life and “colored” (and even “African”) thereafter. She is consistently classified in census records in two states (North Carolina and Indiana) and a province (Ontario), as well as her marriage license. The local newspaper avidly carried news of her husband Montraville Simmons’ antics and was quick to point out his non-white status.  (She was certainly married, if unhappily.)

(By the way, Basedow’s disease is more commonly known as Graves’ disease, or hyperthyroidism.)

Annie was probably 54, rather than 50, and she was certainly born in North Carolina, but not to “James Harrison” and “Eliza Henderson.” Rather, as is clearly set forth in her application for a marriage license in Duplin County NC, her parents were James Henderson and Eliza Armwood. Montraville Simmons probably had not seen his in-laws in more than 40 years when he gave this information. His errors are perhaps excusable, but there they are, enshrined as “fact” and forever leading researchers astray.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Misinformation Monday, no. 4.

The fourth in a series of posts revealing the fallability of records, even “official” ones.

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Margaret Henderson‘s maiden name was Balkcum. I think. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe this as a “true fact,” but I stand by my theory about it. Getting to it, however, means reconciling a tilting plane of evidence (and lack thereof):

1. Margaret does not appear in the 1850 census under any name.

2. Nancy Balkcum of Sampson County NC lists a daughter Margaret Balkcum in her will. For reasons set forth here, I believe this was my Margaret.

2. No marriage license for Lewis and Margaret Henderson has been found.

3. Son Caswell Henderson‘s marriage license, issued in New York City in 1907, reports his mother’s name as Margaret Balkcum.

4. Margaret’s own 1915 death certificate, issued in Wayne County NC, lists her mother as Margaret Bowkin and her birthplace as Sampson County. Son Lucian Henderson was the informant, and I suspect he gave his own mother’s name in response to a query, rather than his mother’s mother’s. It’s a mistake I’ve seen before. But “Bowkin” is nicely evocative of “Balkcum,” and I believe that’s what he meant.

5. Lucian Henderson died in 1934 in Wayne County NC. His death cert lists his mother as Margaret Hill.  Hill???  Johnny Carter was the informant. Johnny was not a blood relative, though his maternal uncle Jesse Jacobs married Lucian’s sister Sarah Henderson. Lucian’s only child died young, and Johnny cared for him in his dotage. He left his estate to Johnny Carter, but I have no reason to believe that Johnny had any certain knowledge of Lucian’s mother’s maiden name.

6. Daughter Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, the last surviving child, died in 1938 while traveling from Wilson to Greensboro NC. Her death certificate names her mother as Margaret Carter. My grandmother Hattie Henderson Jacobs is listed as the informant. When I asked her about it, she had no independent recollection of being asked anything. She averred that she didn’t know Grandma Mag’s maiden name and certainly would not have told anyone that it was “Carter.” (She knew Johnny Carter’s family very well, but regarded them as Papa Jesse’s people.)

Margaret Henderson is a case in point.  One should regard early death certificates with skepticism. They are no stronger — or more accurate — than the informant’s personal knowledge, and the source of the informant’s knowledge was not questioned.  The two bits of evidence from Mag’s own sons, Caswell and Lucian, are fairly consistent, but reports originating beyond their generation diverge widely. The death certs of Mag and her children reflect what people thought they knew, or had heard, or maybe even made up, about Mag’s early life. They are useful — but flawed.

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