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.

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