Step by Step #4: Roy and Hattie’s Children

The first three posts in this series focused primarily on our target couple, Roy and Hattie (James) Teague. Today, we’re going to try to reconstruct their family with the records available to us.

First, let’s summarize what we know about Roy’s children.

  1. The 1930 US census gives us the names of three children, who we know to be Roy’s because they are named as such, and who Hattie was probably the mother of, given Roy and Hattie’s marriage date.1 In order of birth, they are:
    • Susie J. Teague
    • Clifford J. Teague
    • Claud R. Teague
  2. Roy’s obituary gave the names and residences of six children:2
    • Jack Teague of Clarkston, Michigan
    • Ray Teague of Pontiac, Michigan
    • Dewey Teague of Titusville, Florida
    • Mrs. Roosevelt Coffey of Clayton, GA
    • Mrs. Red Dixon of Clayton, GA
    • Mrs. Sherman Martindale of Van Buren, Arkansas
  3. Additionally, a Paul C. Teague was buried between Roy and his brother Louie at Pickett Cemetery.3 Paul died in 1967, and so if he were Roy’s son, he would not have been mentioned in Roy’s 1969 obituary, which mentioned only surviving relatives.4 However, it is also possible that he was Louie’s son, or in some other way related to the family.

Roy’s obituary frustratingly obfuscates his daughters’ names by referring to them by their husbands’ names, a common practice until recently. So while we know he had at least three daughters, one of whom was named Susie J., we don’t know which daughter married what man, even for the one daughter whose name we know. We can tentatively hypothesize that two of the sons mentioned in Roy’s obituary, Jack and Ray, were the two sons enumerated with him in 1930 (respectively, Clifford J. and Claud R.), but there’s no way to be certain of this from the information at hand.

To determine how many children Roy might have had, with Hattie or otherwise, and what their names were, we revisit the Vital Statistics Index held at the Probate Judge’s office in Clayton, GA. On the 5th page of the “T” surnames, listing births, we find an entry for Paul Chester Teague who shares the same birth date as the young man buried next to Roy Teague in Pickett Cemetery; the index gives his father’s name as “Roy Sibley Teague.” At the bottom of the page are two entries for daughters of “Roy Stribling Teague”, Jane Teague and Jean Teague (apparently twins as they share the same birth date). On the 7th page of the “T” surnames, listing births, are six entries for children of “Roy S. Teague”, all filed on the same day; in birth order, the children were: Susie Janettie Teague, Clifford Jackson Teague, Claude Ray Teague, Dewey Clint Teague, Jean Kausa Teague, and Laura Jane Teague.5

Interestingly, the Jane and Jean listed on the 7th page have a different birth year than the Jane and Jean listed on the 5th page and, in fact, the entries on the 7th page show that they were not born in the same year. Which entries should be believed? The entries on the 5th page were filed in the Probate office about three months after the date shown for these girls’ births, whereas the entries on the 7th page were filed six years later. The general rule of thumb is to go with the record created closest to the event, but in this case there’s a small problem with the earlier entries: They were written into the record after Paul’s birth in 1937, several years after their listed birth year. Since they were entered into the official record at such a late date, and because of the confusion created by the different years listed, the earlier entries can truthfully carry no greater weight than the entries made two years later. We would need to verify Jane and Jean’s birth dates against other records before saying for certain in what year or years they were born.6

At the moment we have the names of seven children, all attributed to Roy Sibley or Stribling Teague, but we still have no idea if Hattie was the mother of three or all, nor do we know which daughter married which son-in-law. To determine this, we turn to the one child who we can follow from cradle to grave: Paul Chester Teague.

According to his tombstone, Paul C. Teague died 13 June 1967.7 His obituary was easy enough to find; it was published in the 22 June 1967 issue of The Clayton Tribune.8 Paul’s obituary gives his full name (Paul Chester Teague), his birth date, his residence at the time of his death (Warner Robins, GA), a general cause of death, and his occupation (electrician in the US Air Force). Survivors included his parents, “Roy S. and Hattie T. Watkins” of Clayton; his widow, Mrs. Marjorie Hicks Teague; a daughter; and his siblings: Jack Teague of Clarkston, Michigan, Ray Teague of Pontiac, Michigan, Dewey Teague of Jeffersonville, Indiana, Mrs. Roosevelt Coffey and Mrs. Red Dixon of Clayton, and Mrs. Sherman Martindale of Ft. Smith, Arkansas; an aunt, Mrs. “Fay” Barron “with whom he lived”; and “several other aunts.” Funeral services were held at Battle Branch Baptist Church with the **Revs. Tom Jones and Waymon Lunsford**, and Layman Lloyd Hunter officiating. Burial was at Pickett Cemetery. There was also a notation about the R. E. Cannon Funeral Home holding the body until the service.

There are several important items we can learn from this obituary:

  1. Roy and Hattie were both living at the time of Paul’s death in 1967. Hattie had apparently remarried to an unknown Watkins between his birth in 1937 and his death in 1967. *Rabun County’s marriage records may hold the name of her husband and their date of marriage, which would give us a starting date to search for records of Roy and Hattie’s separation.*
  2. Paul’s siblings were given in the same order in his obituary as in his father’s obituary two years later. This could indicate a rough birth order, which means we can tentatively match the daughters to their husbands based on their age and the order listed in the obituaries. *We still need to find marriage and other records to support this conclusion.*
  3. There’s an awful lot of personal detail in this obituary about the deceased, including his length of service with the US Air Force (12 years). *If we’re interested in learning more about Paul, then this tidbit allows us to calculate dates of service, which may allow us to find or otherwise request information about this period of Paul’s life based on his time in the Air Force.*
  4. One surprising tidbit is that Paul’s brother, Dewey, was living in Indiana at the time of Paul’s death; two years later, when their father died, Dewey was living in Titusville, Florida. Their sister, Mrs. Sherman Martindale, also had a different residence in the two years, albeit both in Arkansas. *The residences for all the children help track their movements through time, and give additional localities in which to search for information on these siblings.*
  5. If Paul was, indeed, the youngest child (there are still some discrepencies we must resolve before labeling him definitively as such), and Hattie was his mother as his obituary claims, then Hattie was probably the mother of all 7 of Roy’s known children. *Learning more about Hattie can help determine the veracity of this conclusion.*
  6. The link between Paul and his aunt Faye (Teague) Barron as mentioned in Paul’s obituary adds considerable weight to the conclusion we’ve drawn that the records examined to date (1930 US census entry, 1969 obituary, 1924 marriage license, Pickett Cemetery grave markers) were made for, about, or by one Roy Teague.
  7. *Additionally, we now have the name of a church where records on this family might be held.*

While Paul’s obituary adds a great deal of positive support and verification of the connections we’ve made between these individuals, it still does not tell us which sister married which man. There are three records or records sets we can use to help determine this: Marriage records (fairly obvious); Hattie’s obituary, an unwise choice at this point in our research since we don’t know her date and place of death; and records from the probation of Roy’s estate, which I deliberately did not mention during our discussion of his obituary and tombstone.9 I decided to focus on the latter of these three records sets first, since estate records could potentially mention all three daughters at once, whereas marriage records are generally pertinent to only one at a time, thereby necessitating three different searches through the same volumes of records.

There are many different documents which could potentially be created and recorded during the probation of a person’s estate. Most researchers (especially those in their first few years pursuing their ancestry) tend to focus solely on wills, but they are not the only estate record available to genealogists, nor are they necessarily the most useful. In fact, when a person of considerable property died intestate (that is, without a will), the records created by the administration of his or her estate often contain more usable and sometimes better information than a will alone would.

Potentially, several records could have been created while Roy’s family probated his estate. But where would these records be located? Normally, one could expect the deceased’s family to begin this process not necessarily in the locality where the person died, but in the place where he or she lived at the time of his or her death (in modern times especially this could be two different places). These records may also be found in other localities if the deceased owned property there. In Roy’s case, he was born in Rabun County, had lived there for the better part of his life, and he probably owned property there at some point. The Probate Court of Rabun County would then be the best place to begin a search for estate records.

The first volume of records I decided to search was Rabun County’s Records of Wills E, which covers the years 1960 through 1970; no Teague was located in the volume’s index.10 Because Roy died in 1969, very close to the end of that volume’s era of coverage, I decided to check the next volume of wills, in case the family decided to delay probating his estate for some reason. Record of Wills F, covering 1970 through 1976, also had no Teagues listed in the index.11 I achieved similar results with Inventory and Appraisements 2 (1927 – 1979), Minutes 8 (1962 – 1971), and Minutes 9 (1971 – 1980): the indexes for these volumes contained no references to Teagues.12 The Ordinary Docket volumes were missing from 1937 to 1974. These were the only volumes I could find covering Rabun County’s estate records for the time period around Roy’s death.

One might conclude from this initial lack that Roy had owned no property at the time of his death and, therefore, there was no need for his family to probate his estate through the local court system. This conclusion would be premature, however, since:

  • I relied only on the indexes instead of reading the appropriate sections of each volume of records;
  • The Probate Court maintains folders containing loose items for those whose estates were probated during this time period;
  • There are other records which might hold information on this family, including land records.

Additionally, there are other ways to tackle this lack of records, including pursuing research on Hattie, the putative mother of Roy’s children. Given the choice between a page-by-page read of the appropriate volumes of estate records (time consuming), trying to gain access to the loose probate folders (unlikely to be successful, since the local Probate Court restricts those files to court officials), tracking down other records, and turning the focus to Hattie, I chose the latter. * Nonetheless, we should still place the three temporarily discarded options on our to-do list for future reference, because all three items will eventually need to be done. *

* If this were my family, now would also be a good time to re-interview older family members to see if anything found to date might jog someone’s memory. In particular, I would ask if anyone remembers Roy and Hattie’s children (naming them specifically and including the names of spouses) or grandchildren, and if anyone keeps in touch with any of these family members, with the intention of trying to track down modern generations who may have access to information I don’t. *

Today’s post demonstrates, in a very simple way, how research can lead to what seems like a dead end (in this case, the dead end is trying to figure out which of Roy and Hattie’s daughters married which son-in-law). The next post will show one way to overcome the problems we encountered today. Until then, happy hunting!

* * * * *

Footnotes:
1. Roy S. Teague household, 1930 U. S. census, Rabun County, Georgia, population schedule, Clayton Militia District 587, ED 121-10, SD 3, sheet 2B, dwelling 27, family 28; National Archives micropublication T626, roll 381.

2. Roy S. Teague obituary, The Clayton Tribune, Clayton, Georgia, 12 June 1969, page 1, column 6.

3. Paul C. Teague tombstone, Pickett Cemetery, Clayton, Georgia; photographed by Richard Hopkins and Dawn Watson 5 July 2010.

4. It is important to remember that an obituary may not name all members of a family, even when both surviving and deceased members are mentioned. There could be several reasons for such an omission, including an error on the part of the newspaper, the forgetful mind of the grieving relative who gave the newspaper the names of the deceased’s relatives, and the estrangement of the deceased and other family members.

5. Because some of these individuals may still be living, their exact birth dates are omitted here. Vital Statistics Index A Rabun County: 5th and 7th pages, T section; Probate Court, Clayton, Georgia.

6. There’s a small possibility that the Jane and Jean listed on the 5th page were twins who died as infants or toddlers, and that the Jane and Jean mentioned on the 7th page were their siblings, born at a later date and named after the hypothetically deceased twins. There are two reasons why I have discounted this hypothesis: First, all four women share the exact same day and month of birth, and the chances of this happening with four siblings in three different years (one year for the “twins”, and in two other years for the other two siblings) would be extremely low. Second, there were no corresponding deaths listed in the Vital Statistics Index. This doesn’t mean the hypothesis might not be a reality, only that it’s a very low possibility and that it should be verified or discarded based on an accumulation of evidence from other sources.

7. Paul C. Teague tombstone, Pickett Cemetery, Clayton, GA.

8. Sgt. Paul Teague obituary, The Clayton Tribune, 22 June 1967, volume 71, number 25, front page, 2nd column.

9. I had hoped to wait until an earlier generation to discuss these records. Ah, well. No time like the present.

10. Record of Wills E, 1960 – 1970, Rabun County; Probate Court, Clayton, GA.

11. Record of Wills F, 1970 – 1976, Rabun County; Probate Court, Clayton, GA.

12. Inventory and Appraisements 2, 1927 – 1979, Rabun County; Probate Court, Clayton, GA. Minutes 8, 1962 – 1971, Rabun County; Probate Court, Clayton, GA. Minutes 9, 1971 – 1980, Rabun County; Probate Court, Clayton, GA.

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