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?

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