Or "Rednecks, Grandma’s and Wearing Shoes"
by Uncle Hiram
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Like all types of research you need to go from the known to the unknown. When I started working on my family all I knew about my Dad’s mother was that she had lived in a real small house in Tuscaloosa County Alabama with lots of kittens under the front porch and when we visited we took baths in a big tub on the back porch.
After talking to my Dad and a couple of Aunts I discovered her name was “Stella Cox”. Then I slammed into a brick wall that would have made any journeyman Mason proud. No Birth Certificate, No mention in the census records before 1920 when she was already married to Granpa.
Since she was born, married and died in Alabama I was forced to rely on other people’s memories, online records and the Dallas Library for clues about her. To put it mildly I was spinning my wheels and getting as frustrated as a Baptist Preacher in a Las Vegas “Boarding House”.
Finally it was vacation time and we made a trip out to Alabama. Among the many things I learned on that roadtrip was the fact that Grandma’s name was not Stella Cox. It Was Mary Estelle Cox. So now I had some real (Verifiable) information to work with I got busy. I went back through the census records and found her in the 1900 census of Fayette County with her Parents. (I wanna tell you right now I was excited as a 16 year old boy on his first unsupervised date). I was able to chase down her marriage certs while I was on vacation, get a copy of her birth cert from Fayette County, Alabama, locate her in the 1900 and 1910 census. (I hope those communist goat herders that burned the 1890 census are still cold) Discover the names of not only her parents but also a couple of her brothers and sisters. I even met (Online) the descendants of one of her sisters.
I found all this info relatively quickly after finding out her full name which was not on her headstone or on her marriage certificate. The only place my family had a record of it was in a family Bible.
I ain't sure how much help this will be to yall in your research except as moral support. We all have trouble with female ancestors because of the fact that for many years there names were not listed in the census files, because they take their husbands surname. Frequently they end up in official records with “nicknames” instead of their full names. All I can really suggest is patience and for you to keep on looking.
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)