Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Every Tidbit of Information is Important

As I've mentioned before, and will many times again, dancing with the ancestors is an intricate dance, and many times, not an easy dance. 

With that being said . . .

. . . you just never know where your next clue will come in the hunt for ancestors, because every tidbit of information is important.

I recently was able to verify my great-grandfather Charles A. Mitchell's family - parents, siblings, and whatnot. Since then, the floodgates have opened. I've connected with two cousins, one descended from his sister Mattie (Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch) and one from his sister Josie (Amanda Josephine Mitchell-Offill). I've also traced his brother William F. Mitchell. 

On the 1900 Census for Grayson County, TX we have William, his wife Sarah, his nephew Leo C. Groves, his niece Martha C. Groves, and his sister Nancy Hillis! Now, there was a big WOO-HOO when I found this because . . . it meant I had finally found his sister Nancy C. Mitchell who, at some point, married a Hillis! This name will come into play in just a bit. I also knew he had a nephew and niece with the last name Groves, but . . .

. . . I didn't know if they were a nephew and niece by blood or by marriage until . . .

. . . I was digging through my Mitchell file, putting in emails from the new cousins, when I found the following information copied out of a book at the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee:

Charles A. Mitchell, administrator of the estate of Leo C. Groves, dec'd. Receipt of payment to George B. Bryan, guardian of Martha C. Groves. p. 408

Okay, the only reason I copied this down was because the notation mentioned Great Grandpa Charlie. Who knew it would play an important role later on in . . .

. . . confirming that Leo and Martha Groves were my great grandfather's nephew and niece. WOO HOO! I still don't know if they were Nancy's children, or the children of another sister. I'm still working that angle.

Then, flash forward to the 1910 Warren County Census and Nancy Hillis is recorded in the same household as her sister and brother-in-law: Mary and James Cunningham. In one fell swoop, I just located another sister.

From these two census records I gleaned some important information. 

Now, I also had two names in my head - Hillis and Groves. These names are obviously important in my family, I mean, Great-Great Aunt Nancy married a Hillis, and she, or one of her sisters also married a Groves. Well, I was perusing through some pages I scanned out of The Heritage of Warren County that I found at the State Archives, regarding the Forrest (Charles and siblings mother was a Forrest) and came across the following on the last page:

Sources: Family Bible, Big Spring Baptist Church minutes, Claiborne Co., TN. A. C. Hillis, Jr. and Leona Hillis, McMinnville Tn; J. G. Grove in "This is my Story".

Have you figured out the important thing yet? Well, let me point it out to you . . . Hillis and Grove! Yes, I know, the last name of the niece and nephew was Groves, but census takers were well known to take liberties as they were writing down names. Trust me on that one, if you haven't learned it firsthand. 

The book This is My Story is actually located at the Tennessee State Archives, and will be perused by yours truly this weekend. 

My best guess is that both the Hillis' and Mr. Grove contributed to this section on the Forrest because . . . 

. . . they were related. In fact, my great-great grandmother Martha Forrest-Mitchell's niece, by her brother Charles Matlock Mitchell, married Joseph R. Grove. It is my guess that one of Martha's daughters, possibly Nancy before her marriage to the unknown first name Hillis, married a relative - sibling, child, nephew - of Joseph R. Grove. 

So, as you can see, every tidbit of information is important when dancing with the ancestors. Do not disregard what you think is not important because, one day, it may become highly important. Had I not written down the information out of the probate book, I probably would still be wondering if Leo C. and Martha C. Groves were blood relations to my great great Uncle William F. Mitchell, or just relations through his wife.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Mitchell Line

Dancing with the Ancestors is a fascinating experience of highs and lows, brick walls, and paths that seem to stretch out before me without end. Such has been my experience when researching my Mitchell Line!
For the longest time, brick walls were all I seemed to encounter when searching for information on my Mitchell Line past my Great Grandfather Charles A. Mitchell.
I had hoped to find his death certificate and discover the names of his parents. Hope is a funny thing. I did find his death certificate but . . .
. . . only the surnames of his parents - Mitchell and Forrest - were listed. No! First! Names!
Great! Fine! Dandy! So much for that angle.
Did I give up? Of course not! I kept searching and searching and searching and searching and . . .
. . . then I came across a section in a book about Warren County, TN that mentioned the Forrest family. I read through the section and found the following notation: Martha Forrest married William Mitchell!
Well, my excitement was short lived, because all that information did was cause a bunch more confusion as I searched Census Records and found . . .
The 1870 and 1880 Warren County, TN Census Records for a William Mitchell with a wife named Martha. Good! In fact, on the 1870 Census Record they had a son named Charles! Great! On the 1880 record, just initials, but for Charles were the initials C. A.! Ooooooohhhh, hot potato!! But . . .
. . . Charles had siblings and my father always told me that his Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was an only child!
Still, I copied the records because something told me that this definitely was his family. I came up with all kinds of scenarios in my mind why my Great Grandfather would tell people he was an only child, even though he obviously had siblings. I finally decided on the theory that he married outside the family religion and his family shunned him! I know, great concept.
Flash forward perhaps a year later and I'm in CA visiting my cousin, going through a trunk of family pictures and we came across a picture of Great Grandpa Charlie sitting next to a man who is obviously his brother. I say to my cousin "Dad said Grandpa Charlie was an only child". My cousin laughs, looks at me and says "No, he wasn't, he had siblings, and at least one of them went to Texas".
So, now those 1870 and 1880 Census Records begin to have more meaning. Still, don't know for 100% positive.
Flash forward to a few months later, after I've submitted by DNA to Ancestry and I have a match with someone who is a fourth cousin. The only connection: Richard Albert Forrest, father of Martha Forrest who married William Mitchell. Woo-hoo! I have confirmation on the Forrest Line.
Flash forward to Thursday, May 30, 2013 and doing a search on FamilySearch, I come across a death certificate for William F. Mitchell, son of William Mitchell and Martha Forrest!
WOO-HOO! I've found my great grandfather's brother.
Move forward one day to Friday, May 31, 2013 and I go out to Blogger and find I have a comment on my post The Mitchell Line . . .
. . . that confirms Charles A. Mitchel, my great grandfather, is the son of William C. Mitchell.
. . . that confirms he had two sisters Martha Matilda and Amanda Josephine, names that match up to the 1870 and 1880 Warren County, TN Census Records I had found.
. . . that confirms he married Martha Tate, which I already knew because, well, she's my great grandmother!
The comment also told me the trail from TN to TX and the counties my great-grandfathers siblings lived in, one of which was Grayson County, TX. I have since found the Census Record for William F. Mitchell . . . living in Grayson County, TX at the same time as his sisters Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch and Amanda Josephine Mitchell-Offill!
So, now, I can provide a bit more information about my Mitchell line . . .
William C. Mitchell married Martha Forrest, daughter of Richard Albert Forrest and Sarah Matlock, sometime in the late 1830s. They had the following children . . .
  • Nancy Mitchell - born about 1840, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Samuel Mitchell - born about 1843, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Elizabeth Mitchell - born about 1846, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Mary Jane Mitchell - born about 1852, most likely in Alabama
  • William F. Mitchell - born July 5, 1855 in Alabama
  • Charles A. Mitchell - born October 4, 1858 in DeKalb County, Alabama
  • Martha Matilda Mitchell - born December 27, 1863 in Alabama
  • Amanda Josephine - born January 1865 in Alabama
From what I found out about William C. Mitchell from a descendant through his daughter Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch, the family briefly moved to Alabama and then, as confirmed by the 1870 and 1880 Census Records, returned to Warren, County, TN. Sometime between 1880 and 1883, William C., his daughters Mattie (Matilda) and Josephine, and most likely his son William F., migrated to Blanco County, Texas. My personal guess is it was in 1880, not long after the Census was taken in June since Charles A. was living at home when the Census was taken, but had moved into the Tate Boarding House a bit later that year, most likely because his family had moved to Texas.
Both Martha Matilda and Amanda Josephine met and married their husbands, Erasamus Berry Bunch and John Oliver Offil respectively, in Blanco County. Martha Forrest-Mitchell died prior to 1893, since William C. Mitchell married Mrs. O. Hopper in Blanco County, Texas in 1893. William F. married Sallie (surname unknown) at some point, a woman twenty-five years his junior!
Charles A. Mitchell married Martha Tate, daughter of James Douglas and Mary Jane (McGregor) Tate, the owners of the Tate Boarding House where he was living, on December 28, 1880 in McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee. He and Martha had the following children . . .
  • John Francis Mitchell - born November 3, 1884 in McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee; died May 27, 1959, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.
  • Maud Thompson-Mitchell - born October 1, 1902 in Tennessee; died August 3, 1921 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Maud was Charles and Martha's adopted daughter, the child of a good friend whose wife died and he was unable to raise his daughter.
Martha's father James Douglas Tate died August 20, 1902. Her mother died October 3, 1911. Sometime soon after her mother's death, she and Charles sold the Tate House to the Brown family and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where they remained until they died.
Charles died on august 29, 1927 and Martha on January 7, 1948.
John Francis Mitchell married Osie Lee Smith, daughter of John Leonard Smith and Martha Ann Lane, on June 25, 1913 at the home of Dr. A. M. Trawick on Murphy Avenue in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. They had the following children . . .
  • Mary Frances Mitchell - born April 29, 1914 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee; died August 23, 1996 in Hendersonville, Sumner County, Tennessee
  • Vernon Smith Mitchell - born January 21, 1916 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee; died September 10, 2004 in Crossville, Cumberland County, Tennessee . . . just months after celebrating 50 years of marriage to his wife Mary Cecilia Sweat!
Of course, the Mitchell line doesn't end there. Mary Frances had two children with her husband John Shannon Long, and those children had children, as did their children. Vernon and Cecilia had four children and five grandchildren.
So, when dancing with the ancestors never give up, and switch up your search patterns, and start a blog to detail the various surnames in your family. If not for my blog, I wouldn't have the confirmation of what I suspected, which is now truth!