Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis . . .

. . . was my great-great aunt, sister to my great-grandfather Charles A. Mitchell. She was the daughter of William C. and Martha (Forrest) Mitchell, and was born on May 15, 1839 in Warren County, Tennessee. In all likelihood, her middle name came from that of Martha's sister Rachael Caroline Forrest, since it appears the majority of the children of William and Martha bear a name born by her siblings.
Nancy was one of eleven children: Nancy Caroline, James, Henry, Sarah Ann, John, Jane, Mary Frances, William F., Charles A. (Great Grandpa Charlie), Martha Matilda, and Amanda Josephine.
The Mitchell family liked to move . . . here, there, and everywhere: TN, AL, TX, SD, and MI to name a few of the places they lived, or would live at some point in their lives, and where their descendants live today.
In 1840, William C., Martha, and Nancy Caroline were still in Warren County, Tennessee and living next door to Martha's father Richard Albert Forrest and his second wife Lucy Wilcher-England-Forrest. By 1852, when Nancy Caroline's sister Mary Frances Mitchell was born, the family was living in Georgia.
Nancy Caroline Mitchell married Joseph Knighton on February 20, 1859 in Calhoun County, Alabama. Her family was also living in Calhoun County, Alabama at that time.
Sometime in 1861, Nancy Caroline gave birth to her daughter Lydia. Her husband enlisted in the army in 1861. He died sometime during the Civil War.
In 1870, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton and her daughter Lydia Knighton are recorded on not one, but two census records for Warren County, Tennessee. On the first record, the census taker arrived at the house of John and Lydia (Forrest) Epperson and took note of all the residents, two of which were Nancy and her daughter Lydia. Lydia Forrest-Epperson was Nancy's first cousin, the daughter of her uncle and aunt Charles Matlock and Annie (Kell) Forrest. It is most likely that Nancy named her daughter after her first cousin Lydia.
Flash forward a few weeks to August 1870 and Nancy, under her maiden name is listed as living with her parents William and Marthie, and her siblings: Sarah Ann, Jane, Mary Frances, William F., Charles A., Martha Matilda, and Amanda Josephine. Her daughter Lydia Knighton, age 9, is also in residence.
Now, talk about confusing. In July the census taker used Nancy's married name, but in August, when she was back with her parents, she used her maiden name. They sure didn't make it easy on descendants dancing with the ancestors and attempting to track dead relatives.
By 1880, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton had married William Cawlder (or Caulder, or Calder, or however the name might vary depending on who was writing it down at the time). She, her husband, and her daughter were still living in Warren County, Tennessee. William Cawlder was twenty-five years older than Nancy and was, in fact, older than her father. William died sometime before 1890, because . . .
. . . on February 23, 1890 (she must have liked marrying in February), she married Roswell Hillis, who also happened to be older than her father. This was Roswell's second marriage. He died on August 21, 1898 in Van Buren County, Tennessee.
Nancy's daughter Lydia Knighton married William E. Groves, son of Clayborn and Martha (Douglas) Groves on November 25, 1880 in Warren County, Tennessee. They had two children: Leo C. Groves and Martha C. Groves. Leo was born April 4, 1882 and Martha on September 20, 1886.
By 1900, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis' daughter Lydia, and her husband William Groves, were deceased. Nancy and her grandchildren Leo and Martha Groves are listed on the 1900 Grayson County, Texas Census Record with her brother William F. and his wife Sarah.
On May 21, 1901, Nancy's grandson Leo C. Groves died. On august 6, 1904, her granddaughter Martha C. Groves died.
In 1910, Nancy is living with her sister and brother-in-law Mary Frances (Mitchell) and James A. Cunningham, and their family in Warren County, Tennessee.
On April 11, 1915, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis died in Van Buren County, Tennessee. Her step-son John Hillis provided the information for her death certificate.
With Nancy's passing, her direct line on the Mitchell family tree ended since her daughter and grandchildren had predeceased her . . . which is where I come into play, or rather this blog post comes into play.
Nancy Caroline Mitchell lived a life, through trying times, and did what she had to - living through the Civil War, losing her first husband, marrying men as old as her father, depending on family members - to survive and provide for herself and child. If not for my research, and the help of other researchers, her story might well have remained untold. This is a woman who, losing three husbands, a daughter, and two grandchildren, like all people, deserved to be remembered, to have her story, sketchy as it might seem, be told so, that perhaps current generations of the Mitchell and various lines - Cunningham, Bunch, Offil, Gilley, and so forth - might one day say to their kids . . .
Did you know about our many times Great Aunt Nancy Caroline? Well, let me tell you about her. She was born . . .
Well, now they can know about her, the life she lead, and the joys and sorrows she faced in a life before electricity, before cars and telephones, before so much else that we take for granted today, on July 23, 2013.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leo C. and Martha C. Grove(s) - Siblings

The mysteries never seem to end when dancing with the ancestors. You solve one mystery and BAM - Emeril style - another mystery pops up and smacks you in the forehead. Okay, not literally, but sometimes it feels that way.
A mystery solved over a period of time was that my great grandfather Charles A. Mitchell was not, I repeat NOT, an only child. I don't have a clue where my father heard this little false tidbit of information, but he did, and he passed it down to his children . . . which made this little dance with the ancestors quite a bit difficult.
Suffice it to say, Great Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was not an only child, but was one of eight children. I've tracked five of his siblings and their descendants. In doing this, the next mystery came along and smacked me upside the head: Leo C. and Martha C. Grove.
In 1900, in Grayson County, Texas, they were listed on the 1900 Census as niece and nephew of William F. Mitchell, my great-grandfather's brother. Now, I wasn't positive if they were his by blood or marriage niece and nephew, until . . .
. . . in probate records for Warren County, Tennessee, I found the following notation:
January 1902 - settlement made with Charles A. Mitchell, administrator of Leo Groves, dec'd. Receipt of George B. Bryan, guardian of Martha Grove, only heir of deceased.
This notation, written down probably a year before I knew for sure my Great Grandfather actually had siblings, proved - to me at least - that Leo and Martha Grove were the blood nephew/niece of William F. Mitchell, and, by default, Great Grandpappy Charlie Mitchell. Woo-hoo!
Then, came digging through eye-straining microfilm records at the State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. I was searching for the various guardian records and . . .
. . . I found them, and oh, so much more. It appears that W. L. Grove was the second guardian, first was a court appointed guardian, of Leo and Martha. In January 1900, he resigned as guardian and George B. Bryan became the guardian of Leo and Martha. I also found quite a few records of court cases between W. L. Grove vs. Louisa (Grove) Crain versus the settlement of Clab (Clayborn) Grove's estate, in which mention of the guardianship of Leo and Martha was mentioned.
So, now I knew - pretty much - the Grove family from which Leo and Martha were descended.
My error: I kept assuming that W. L. Grove was William Grove. It wasn't until I started researching his siblings that I discovered W. L. Grove was actually the youngest child of Clayborn (Claiborne) and Martha (Douglas) Grove: Wyatt Lane Grove.
I was trying to figure out the father of Leo and Martha. I knew it couldn't be Wyatt because he was far too young to have been married and father children in 1884 and 1886.
Once I had my little a-ha moment, I realized, most likely, that William Grove was the father of Leo and Martha, and that he, and most likely his wife, had predeceased his father Clayborn.
My best guess, right now, is that William married Elizabeth Mitchell, since I've tracked the majority of my great grandfather's other sisters and know who they married. Elizabeth . . . not so much.
Oh, and in looking at Census Records, Wyatt probably resigned guardianship since in 1900 he had three young children. He probably did not want to raise older children as well.
Leo C. (most likely Clayborn) Grove: April 4, 1882 - May 12, 1901 - buried Shellsford Cemetery, McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee.
Martha C. (possible Caroline) Grove: September 20, 1886 - August 6, 1904 - buried Shellsford Cemetery, McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee.
Now, my hope with this blog post is that someone researching the Grove family knows a bit more than I do and can provide that information. If so, please leave a comment with an email address so I can get back in touch with you.
Good luck to all as you dance with the ancestors.

UPDATE: Through contact with a fellow researcher, I know now that Leo C. Groves and Martha C. Groves are the children of William E. Grove(s) and Lydia Knighton-Grove(s). Lydia is the daughter of Nancy Caroline Mitchell and her first husbad L. R. F. Knighton. So, Leo and Martha are actually William F. Mitchell's great-nephew/niece and the grandchildren of Nancy (Mitchell-Knighton-Cawlder)-Hillis, who is also on the 1900 Census Record. Woo-Hoo!