Monday, February 15, 2016

How many clues have you overlooked?

I think we all know how important it is to take note of all the information on a document that concerns our ancestors, but who hasn't quickly scribbled down the important parts and then forgotten to go back and do things properly? Today I finally got back to one and I'm kicking myself!

Here's what I knew: Martha Harless was born in Tennessee some time in October 1860 to William Harless and Matilda Jackson. On 13 September 1877 she was married to R. F. Hailey in Falls County, Texas. In the 1880 census Martha is the head of a household in Falls County, Texas with her two eldest children, Olly, b. ca. 1878 and Carl, b. ca. 1879. In 1910 she is in the household of R. F. Hailey, her husband, in Robertson County, Texas with their children, Birde, b. ca. 1885 and Jessie, b. ca. 1891. This census reports that she was the mother to five children and all five were still living, but as yet I do not know the name of the fifth child. On 8 February 1926 Martha Hailey died in Cameron, Milam County, Texas. She was buried in Little River Cemetery.

Today I took a closer look at her death certificate and took note that her father was listed as "J. Harless" and her mother as "Don,t know". Also notable was the date of birth Oct 1860 with "DK" for the day and her age given as 65 years 4 months and "Don't Know" days. So who was the source of this information? Surely her husband (it said she was married, not widowed) or children would know her birthday, even if they didn't know her mother's name. D. S. Shuffield of Maysfield, Texas. Who?

I quickly searched Family-Search for D. S. Shuffield with a Texas residence and immediately spotted an interesting result in Texas Deaths and Burials, 1903-1973: D. S. Shuffield father, spouse: Jesse Haily, child: Winford Shuffield. Winford Shuffield was born 22 May 1914 in Milam County, Texas and died on 13 October 1930 in Maysfield Precinct, Milam County, Texas. His parents were as given in the search result and the informant was Harmon Shuffield of Maysfield, Texas. His burial place was Little River cemetery.

It was starting to look as though Martha Harless's daughter Jessie Hailey had married D. S. Shuffield, but I wanted to make sure this wasn't just a coincidence so I searched Family-Search for "Jessie Shuffield" with a Texas residence. There were a few interesting results.

1. Jessie Shuffield, b. ca. 1891 was the head of a household in the 1940 census in Milam County, Texas, with children Willard, Dorothy, Adelle and Elmo.

2. Jessie Shuffield, b. ca. 1891 was the wife of Dorchie Shuffield in the 1920 census in Milam County, Texas, with children Winford and Harmond Shuffield. 

#2 looked good - if this was the right Jessie it would give me the name Dorchie for D.S. and Harmond could be the Harmon Shuffield who gave the information for Winford Shuffield's death certificate, but it was result #3 that really caught my eye.

3. Texas Deaths, 1890-1976: Jessie Pearl Shuffield birth: 8 February 1891, Texas. death: 16 March 1972, Calvert, Robertson, Texas. father: Robert Hailey. Robert? Was this R. S. Hailey? Once again the death certificate had an unknown person as the informant: Elmo Neal Sr. He apparently did not know the name of Jessie Pearl's mother as that is listed as "Unable to Obtain" Jessie was buried in Little River Cemetery.

If Little River was a small cemetery I would be more convinced that Jessie Pearl Shuffield was the daughter of Martha Harless, so I checked the cemetery at Find-a-grave. Find-a-grave lists 1,281 interments, so it isn't really a family cemetery.

I searched it for the name Shuffield - 49, including a Dorchie S. Shuffield and a William Winford Shuffield, but no Jessie Pearl Shuffield.

I then searched the cemetery for the surname "Hailey" and the results showed Martha Harless Hailey and Jessie Pearl Hailey Neal.

Unfortunately there was no photograph of Martha's grave and the entry leads me to believe it was from her death certificate rather than her tombstone.

There was a photograph of Jessie Pearl Hailey Neal's grave marker, there is no indication on it that she was ever the wife of D. S. Shuffield, but the notes list her first husband as Dorchie Speed Shuffield and her second husband as Elmo Lon Neal.

Obviously I have lots more researching to do, but putting everything together it appears that Martha Harless married Robert F. Hailey and that their daughter Jessie Pearl Hailey married Dorchie Speed Shuffield.

All of these new clues came from the one overlooked name on a death certificate.  How many clues have you overlooked?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Last Will and Testament of John Harliss of Hardy County, 1829

I John Harliss of Hardy County and State of Virginia do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say 1st it is my will and desire that all my debts and funeral expences be first paid. 2nd I give and bequeath unto my two son in laws Samuel May and Michail Handgardner the tract of land they now live on to be equilly divided between the two be it further understood the tract or part of tracts of land that belongs to me joining George Fitzwater on the north east I will and bequeath unto them their heirs executors administrators and assigns forever it is my wish and desire for them to keep same parts they now have in possession. 3rdly I give and bequeath unto my son Isaac Harliss all the rest of my lands lying on Crab run at the mouth of long lick hollow being in two tracts to him his heirs administrators and assigns forever 4thly it is my will and desire that my son Isaac Harliss must pay unto my sons Joseph Harliss John Harliss George Harliss and my two daughters Elizabeth Harliss wife of A. Harliss and Margaret Harless out of the value of his land so as to be equal with himself if they cant agree amongst them selfs the value must be ascertained by three disinterested men be it understood that my six last mentioned children is to be made equal only my son Isaac is to hold the above said land it is my will and desire that all of my personal estate shall be sold and equally divided among all my sons and daughters and lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint Samuel May and Jacob Miller executors of this my last will and testament In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal the 11 day of April 1829. Signed sealed and delivered as and for the last will and testament of the above named John Harliss in the presents of us} John Harless his mark seal Levi Claypool George Fitzwater Christemy Morris