In our first two looks at the Roy and Hattie (James) Teague family, we examined their 1930 US census enumeration, their marriage certificate, and Roy’s obituary. In today’s post, we will visit Pickett Cemetery, where Roy was buried1.
Our previous discussion of the Roy and Hattie [–?–] Teague family centered upon their entry in the 1930 US census. Today, we’re going to follow up on two items from our to-do list: Find a marriage record for this couple, and check the Vital Statistics register for their deaths. We’re looking first in the records created and maintained within Rabun Co., GA, where the couple lived in 1930.
Here is the record that begins our odyssey. Be sure to read the footnotes, as they contain additional and important information.
This is an abbreviated version, of course, but let’s see what an initial read gives us. The first thing we should note is the particulars of the record; we may need these later on to construct a citation.1 Bear with me here; doing this might seem a little boring and tedious, but it’s absolutely necessary for a number of reasons, which we will discuss at various times during the entire case study.
A few months ago, I was searching the Internet for information on a certain family I was researching for a friend. I came across an interesting article on a related family in which the author attempted to prove a lineage based almost solely on federal census records from 1830 through 1850, and on one man’s date of birth, source not given.
It was evident from the author’s presentation that he did not understand how to use the federal census records from that time period. No census from 1790 through 1870 provides direct proof of a relationship; the 1880 U.S. census was the first to provide relationship indicators, and then only to the head of the household. The population schedules from 1850 through 1870 suggest relationships, but they do not prove them. The early federal censuses do not even suggest relationships; they are merely an enumeration of the number and ages of persons living within a household at a certain time.
A better argument could have been made if the author had used several record sets in tandem with one another. There was no mention in this “proof” argument, for instance, of probate records, although they are one of the more obvious and well-known record sets, even amongst beginning genealogists. Nor was any mention made of a search through local land records, which often corroborate or suggest relationships not evident in other contemporary documents. And so forth. For the area and time period in question, there are several record sets other than federal censuses this researcher could have used to provide better support for his argument, but these were all neglected.
This leads me to the point of this post, via a paraphrased truism: No record (or record set) is an island unto itself. Whenever possible, we should always seek further information to corroborate relationships, especially where records might provide indirect evidence but no concrete “proof”. Even where such proof is directly stated, we should examine other records when and where ever possible in order to provide the most well-rounded and solid argument we can based on the most exhaustive search possible.
I recently had the opportunity to work on the Ledford family of Clay County, North Carolina, while reconstructing land records for a client.1 One of the problems I encountered was the fact that every family unit seemed to have at least one male named Jason. In an eight-tract (i.e. land lot) area over about twenty years, I handled records for at least four different Jason Ledfords: Jason D. Ledford, “Big Jason” Ledford, and two distinctly different Jason W. Ledfords (who lived on adjacent tracts).2
Sorting through these Jasons is problematic, but it also brings up an interesting point. When this land was first granted by the state of North Carolina in Cherokee County, North Carolina (from which Clay County was formed in 1861), the two eldest Jason Ledfords were designated in the deed index as Jason Ledford, Jr. (later known as “Big Jason” Ledford) and Jason Ledford, Sr. (who later went by Jason D. Ledford).
These two men were not father and son. Instead, they were designated as “Jr.” (meaning younger) and “Sr.” (meaning elder) by the recording clerk to differentiate between them in the records each created. We only know this because we verified this information against other records. If we hadn’t studied land records over a large span of time and correlated them with federal census records, then we might have assumed that the Jr. and Sr. designations meant father and son.
Assumptions of this sort can be dangerous when reconstructing a lineage. People often assign relationships to others in legal documents that had different meanings in the past than they do today. The term brother could refer to an actual brother, or it could be a brother-in-law or a spiritual brother (one who professes the same faith as the party in question). A son-in-law named as such could actually be a daughter’s husband, or it could be a stepson or grandchild. Efforts should always be made to determine the legal and biological relationships of the people involved before definitively applying a modern relationship indicator.
1. This research was performed at the request of Bobby E. Ledford, whose ancestors resided in Clay Co., NC.
2. There were other Jason Ledfords in the area at the same time, at least some of whom were directly related to the four Jason Ledfords mentioned. The narrow focus of the described research largely eliminated these other Jason Ledfords from the study’s purvue.
A friend of mine asked me to look into the Tilly family of Rabun County, Georgia a few weeks ago. While doing so, I ran across the last will and testament of Lazarus Tilly, which was written November 30, 1839 and proven in court during the March Term, 1841, in Rabun County.1 In his will, Lazarus named his wife, Sarah, and children Alfred Tilly, Elizabeth Millender, Polly Calwell, Margaret Owens, Lewis Tilly, John Tilly, and Nancy Holcombe.
In and of itself the will does not seem strange, but further research into contemporary court records illuminates an oddity: two of the named children were deceased at the time Lazarus wrote his will.
I ran across this interesting tidbit a few weeks ago while indexing Superior Court Minutes 1869 – 1872 (Macon Co., NC). From page 46:
Warrant Issued 7th day April 1870 Returned 7th April 1870 with the defendant [J. M. Dills] arrested by W. A. Shepherd. She [Mary E. Payne] come up on evidence of the prosecuter that the said child was born in the State of Georgia where its mother was at the time domiciled.
The child’s name is not mentioned, and repeated attempts to find Mary Payne in the 1870 US Census in both Macon County and nearby Rabun Co., GA, have proved fruitless.
On June 20, 2009, I received the following comment on a previous blog article I’d written for my old blog at Today.com, Tombstone Tuesday: Edward Coffee and Elizabeth Neville Coffee. Since I’m no longer able to access that blog, I thought I would post and answer the comment here:
Hi, this is very interesting. I have visited this cemetery and have seen these stones. Elizabeth was a sister of Rebecca Neville. Their father and mother were Jesse and Margarette McCarter Neville who are buried in the old Neville Cemetery just outside of Walhalla. Jessie had a plantation at the site of the cemetery, so I assume that the girls were born in what is now Oconee County. Rebecca is my ggggggrandmother, having married William Price. I am looking for their graves, but not having any luck. He died in RABUN County, Ga in 1825. Rebecca lived to be 94 and also died there. Do you know much more about the Neville family? I would love to know more and would love to know what you have. If you should find their graves, please let me know by my private e-mail address. Thank you, Sue D.
Thanks for writing, Sue. Unfortunately, I know very little about the Neville family except what I’ve learned from other researchers or local history books (e.g. Sketches of Rabun County History by Dr. Andrew J. Ritchie).
As for Rabun County burials, try the USGenWeb Archives for Rabun County. At the top of the page is a link to the search engine. After clicking on that link, enter the surname, select the county and record type, and then hit the search button. Most of the burial grounds for Rabun County were surveyed and placed online in about 1998 by Elaine and Bill English, a local couple who are avid historians.
I can tell you from personal experience that there aren’t many graves marked by engraved tombstones in this area from the early to mid-1820s. I’m not certain why that is, because there were certainly residents who died during that time period, and many were more than able to afford to erect a stone. Part of the reason may have been because Rabun County was still very much a wilderness in 1825, in spite of the influx of white settlers and businessmen. It’s also possible that many of the earliest graves were marked by engraved tombstones, but years of weathering may have eroded the stones to the point of illegibility.
You may be able to narrow down possible burial sites by comparing early land records for William and Rebecca Neville Price against the original land lot maps and modern maps to find nearby burial grounds. If you can find where they lived, you may also be able to locate the church they attended, if any, and find burial or other records that way.
I wish you well with your search.