24 May 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Finding All of Our Grandmothers, Pt 4

Children's Records

If you can't find your female ancestor's name among her own records, look up records on each of your ancestor’s children, whether or not they are in your line.  Birth and baptism records, marriage records and death records all may give a maiden name – and you only need one. Also note others named, especially witnesses, as they may be her relatives
Example: I wanted to find the surname of Ann Eliza, wife of James J. Gay. Ann Eliza had been born in about 1829 in the Territory of Florida. She had married James J. Gay in about 1846, in Jackson County, Florida. A courthouse fire had destroyed all marriage records prior to 1848, along with the bulk of other court-related records.

In 1879, Thomas M. White died in Jackson County, and his  Will named Ann Eliza Gay, wife of J. J. Gay, as White's half-sister. This meant that if Thomas M. White and Ann Eliza shared the same father, Ann Eliza's surname was White. On the other hand, if they shared the same mother, it was back to square one. Since the destruction of nearly all court records seriously hampered the search for Ann Eliza's parents, I decided to investigate her family.

I found that one of her daughters, Sarah (Sallie) Rebecca Gay, had married James M. Barnes in Jackson County, Florida in 1872, and had also died in that county on 14 October 1932. A search of the Florida Death Index revealed this record:

When received, the official death certificate confirmed this information, with one small spelling change - Ann Eliza Gay's surname was Davidson. This was later corroborated by handwritten notes in Thomas M. White's Family Papers Collection which had been donated to the Florida State Archives. The notes were labeled as "genealogy notes" and were from interviews with cousins of Thomas M. White who knew him when he was alive. One of the notes read "When old Mr. Tom M. White's father died, his mother remarried to Mr. Davidson, and they had one daughter, Annie Eliza, who he named in his will."

When I looked back at the census records, I found a Lemuel Davidson living close by the family of James J. Gay, and not far from the White family ...but that is a story for another time.

Happy Hunting! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these really useful tips! And I hope you'll tell the Davidson/Gay/White story at some point. Very intriguing.