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.