Step by Step #5: Hattie (James) Teague Watkins

Our previous research on the Roy and Hattie (James) Teague family revealed very little about the female half of this couple. To date, we know the following:

  1. Hattie James was born about 1906 in Georgia; both of her parents were also born in Georgia1
  2. She married Roy S. Teague in 1924 in Rabun Co., GA; the marriage was performed by M. H. James, a Justice of the Peace2
  3. She and Roy were living in Clayton, Rabun Co., GA, with three children in 19303
  4. They had probably seven children during the late 1920s through the 1930s4
  5. Between 1937 and 1967, Hattie remarried to a Watkins; she was still living as of the latter date5

What we haven’t found in our research is any record connecting her to her parents and possible siblings. While she and Roy were married by M. H. James, we have no clue who that person was or how he might otherwise be connected to Hattie. We don’t know when she died, or who her second husband might have been, nor can we even say for certain that she was the mother of all of Roy’s children. With so little to go on, how can we learn more about Hattie, and in the process extend her lineage backwards?

I chose to tackle this problem by first searching for Hattie in Federal census records. To narrow down which years and localities to investigate, I compared her year of birth (about 1906) to the year of her first marriage (1924). Given this range, the logical years to search would be 1910 and 1920, and since she was born in Georgia, and married and lived for at least some time in Rabun County, then that locality would be the focus.

The 1910 US census was searched first. There was a 4-year old female named Hattie C. James living in the Warwoman community of Rabun County in the household of “Warnie C.” James (born about 1833 in SC, both parents born in SC, married for 5 years) and his wife Genettie (born about 1889 in Georgia, both parents born in Georgia, married for 5 years; columns for number of children born and living unmarked) as a daughter of the head of household:6

This Hattie was the same approximate age and race as “our” Hattie, and was born in the same locality, but there’s really not enough information here to say for certain that the two females are the same person.

In the 1920 US census, a Hattie C. James, born about 1913 in Georgia, was enumerated in the Warwoman community of Rabun County with Clint W. James (born about 1879 in SC, both parents born in GA), wife Josie M. James (born about 1872 in GA, both parents born in GA), and son Claud P. James (born about 1911 in GA), as the head of household’s daughter:7

As with the 1910 US census, there’s not enough information given to be certain that this Hattie and the Hattie who married Roy Teague are the same person, although the 1920 Hattie was of a similar age, was born in the same locality, and was the same race as the target Hattie. There is one inconsistency, however, that should be noted: in 1930, the target Hattie’s parents’ places of birth were given as Georgia, while the Hattie (or Hatties) enumerated in 1910 and 1920 was (or were) the daughter of a man born in South Carolina. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing who the informant was for Hattie’s information on the 1930 US census; it could’ve been Hattie (who probably knew her parents’ birth places, but perhaps not), Roy (who may or may not have known where his in-laws were born), a neighbor, or the enumerator himself. Because of this, we should note the contradictions in data, but not depend upon one census enumeration to prove or disprove a connection on its own.

The next question becomes: are the two families enumerated in 1910 and 1920 the same family or a different one? The head of household could be the same man. The birthplace for both men and their parents was the same, the ages are similar, and even the names could be reconciled: Warnie C. James and Clint W. James could be the same person enumerated once by the legal name and again by the called name. But what about the differences in the wives’ names and ages? The wife enumerated in 1910 (Genettie, born about 1889) is probably not the same woman as the wife enumerated in 1920 (Josie M., born about 1872). Our search through these census records has pinpointed possibly two different families for Hattie, but has not definitively answered our initial question of her parentage. It has given us another avenue to explore in the James family or families with whom a Hattie of the right age, race, and birthplace was enumerated in these two census years.

To make a definitive connection, we turn to a previously explored item: the online cemetery surveys for Rabun County, made by Bill and Elaine English. A search for “Hattie James Watkins” resulted in three possible cemeteries, the first of which was Antioch Methodist Church Cemetery, located off of Warwoman Road in the Warwoman community. Scrolling down the page, we come to a grouping including a “Hattie J. Watkins” (1906 – 1983) whose grave marker was listed in this survey between Alvin J. Watkins (1907 – 1955) and Josie James (1874 – 1948). Below Josie in the survey were Warren Clint James (1878 – 1967), Jenettie B. James (1888 – 1910), Claude P. James (1910 – 1943), and Bessie Marie James (1909).8

A visit to the actual cemetery showed that these individuals were buried together in one long row. With the church and parking area to one’s back, the stones were in the following order from right to left: Alvin E. Watkins (25 May 1907 – 6 October 1955); Hattie J. Watkins (22 February 1906 – 17 April 1983); Josie James (2 April 1874 – 16 February 1948); Warren Clint James (10 June 1878 – 21 July 1967); Jenettie B. James (1888 – 1910); Claude P. James (4 May 1910 – 23 April 1943); Bessie Marie James (15 January 1909, only date). On this side of the row were also what looked like two footstones marked “T. B.” and “J. B.” respectively. This was the entire row.9

While the information gleaned from the cemetery might lead one to conclude that the 1910 and 1920 James families were, indeed, one and the same, and that this was the target Hattie’s family, we still can’t be sure; there’s really nothing tying the Hattie who married Roy Teague to this group of people except the coincidence of her name (Hattie, maiden name James, married name Watkins) and the date of birth. A case could be made that the two Hatties were the same based on what we’ve accumulated, but in any circumstance of research, one should always make every effort to acquire as much information as possible before drawing a firm conclusion. In this case, there are several other records sets we could search that might contain the confirmation we seek (we’ll discuss those in a moment). Of those various records, the most easily accessible are obituaries.

A search through the 1983 issues of The Clayton Tribune led to exactly the information we needed to tie this whole family together. Mrs. Hattie James Watkins, 77 “widow of Alvin C. Watkins” died Sunday, 17 April 1983 at the Stephens County Hospital in Toccoa, GA. She was born in Rabun County, a daughter of the late Warren Clint and Genettie Beck James. She was a member of the Antioch Methodist Church. Survivers included sons Jack Teague of Clarkston, Michigan; Ray Teague of Highlands, Michigan; Dewey Teague of Garfield, Kentucky; daughters, Mrs. Susie T. Coffey of Clayton; Mrs. Jean T. Dixon of Toccoa; Mrs. Jane T. Martindale of Van Buren, Arkansas; 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Services were held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 April 1983 at Antioch United Methodist Church with the **Reverand Madison McCrackin** officiating. Burial followed in the church cemetery. Hunter Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.10

This one document confirms every bit of research we’ve done to date. It shows that the Hattie who married Roy Teague in 1924 was, indeed, the mother of all his children; that she was the same woman as the daughter of Warren Clint James as found in the 1910 and 1920 US censuses; and it matches her daughters with their respective husbands. But that obituary could only confirm what we already suspected, based on a body of evidence drawn from a wider array of research already made. Generally speaking, no one document can stand on its own; the information within it must be verified and supported by information found in other places, and all of those sources must be credible ones. Never rely on the information in one document alone unless a reasonably exhaustive search turns up no other proof or evidence (including negative evidence).

As far as documentation or research goes, are we completely finished with Roy and Hattie? Have we searched all available records sets for information about them? No. We still have a long to-do list. *We haven’t yet found a record of their separation, for instance, nor have we obtained delayed birth certificates, death certificates, and photocopies of their applications for Social Security cards (also known as an SS-5). We also haven’t found a record of Hattie’s marriage to Alvin Watkins.* There are still many, many things that need doing where this couple is concerned, things that we should all do with our own families. As far as this case study is concerned, however, we’re ready to move back a generation to Roy and Hattie’s parents.

Until then, happy hunting!

* * * * *

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. Rabun County Marriage Record F 1921 – 1932: 102. Probate Court, Clayton, Georgia.

3. 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.

4. Vital Statistics Index A Rabun County: 5th and 7th pages, T section. Probate Court, Clayton, Georgia. Also: Roy S. Teague obituary, The Clayton Tribune, Clayton, Georgia, 12 June 1969, page 1, column 6.

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

6. Warnie C. James household, 1910 US census, Rabun County, population schedule, Warwoman, ED 132, SD 43[?], sheet 8B, dwelling 52, family 52, National Archives micropublication T624, roll 209.

7. Clint W. James household, 1920 US census, Rabun County, population schedule, Warwoman District 452, Clayton Road, ED 148, SD 9, sheet 2B, dwelling 32, family 32, National Archives micropublication T625, roll 270.

8. Antioch United Methodist Church Cemetery Inscriptions Rabun County GA, USGenWeb Archives; online at:, accessed 28 July 2010.

9. Bill and Elaine’s surveys are excellent starting guides to the grave markers of Rabun County. Regardless, a visit to the actual cemetery should be made whenever possible for a variety of reasons, including to double-check the data in the online survey against the actual stone (no transcriber is infallible), and to see if any other information can be gleaned from the graves and their locations within the cemetery. In this case, by visiting the cemetery I learned that the named persons were buried in one discrete row, that it is one of the older cemeteries in the county, and that there were an awful lot of Becks and allied families buried there. I took pictures of each of these stones and will place them online in a future post. Grave markers of Alvin E. Watkins, Hattie J. Watkins, Josie James, Warren Clint James, Jenettie B. James, Claude P. James, Bessie Marie James, T. B., and J. B.; Antioch United Methodist Church Cemetery, Warwoman Road, Rabun Co., GA; photographed 17 July 2010 by Dawn Watson and Richard E. Hopkins, Jr.

10. Mrs. Hattie James Watkins obituary, The Clayton Tribune, 21 April 1983, volume 86, number 16, page A-14, 3rd column.

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