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Tombstone Tuesday: The Mays Family

Mays Family Tombstone. Bethel, Ohio.

There are a few reasons that I chose to highlight this tombstone. In all my hijinks into my family history, I have stumbled onto learning how to do certain things. One of the first things I realized is that even official records can be wrong. I’ve also learned that spelling doesn’t matter in the early and late 1800s.

An important thing to remember about tombstones is that they aren’t always accurate. Take the example above. The names are mostly right, spelling mistakes aside. I also need to state that the death years are all correct (hard to get that wrong, right?)

  1. Ralph (1924-1952): Everything here is correct.
  2. John (1853-1927):  His death certificate states his birth year as 1842. Since John is living in the 1850 census and listed as age 5, either date could be wrong but 1853 is more wrong then 1842.
  3. Cecilia (1842-1914):  I’ve only seen her referred to as Celia or Cela. That could be a shortened nickname but I might never know unless I find her birth record. Her death record also lists her birth date differently. I have 1840 and her age in censuses always matches that.
  4. Harmon (1872-1952): Everything here is correct too!
  5. Ivah (1897-1949): Iva’s name has been spelled a million different ways and that’s not including her maiden name (Moyer/Meyer/Myers). Once again I have her death certificate and her birth date is listed as 1894 and not 1897. The 1900 census actually gives her birth date as Sep 1894 too, which is spot on with her death certificate!

So basically what I’m saying is don’t always trust the tombstone. You never know who was giving the information at the time of your ancestor’s burial. In fact, it’s usually the same person giving the information for the death certificate. That’s why I’m so surprised the death certificates and tombstone varies so much here.

Florence Redford-Moore's tombstone. July 2010

In fact, even newer tombstones can be a bit wrong. This is my grandmother’s tombstone inscription. Everything is spot on except the fact that she was actually born on April 13 and not April 15. Oops! Be sure your family knows that they can come to you for correct dates!

Tombstone Tuesday is a blogging theme used by many GeneaBloggers.

Jacob Crisp

I’m chugging along in my Mays family research. That is, if chugging along means I work on it about half an hour every few days? That’s all my brain can take of these nomads. I’ve lucked out recently though.

Last week I was playing around with search terms on Ancestry and I hit a goldmine.

By goldmine, I mean I didn’t have to look through the whole page to find what I was looking for. Jacob Crisp’s name was the first thing I saw on the page. Jacob is the son of Sarilda Mays, the Mays ancestor I’m currently trying to research for the website. Apparently Jacob’s family moved to Mansfield, Ohio. I know this because their family history is all over the Mansfield newspapers. I’m sure there’s more then what I found in the day I searched. That’s saying a lot because I saved seven different newspaper pages that day.

Among a lot of the results were hospital admittances and releases for Jacob’s wife. Eventually, she would pass away from a long illness. I would have known that even if the obituary didn’t tell me because she must have been in and out of the hospital a dozen times in a year.

Jacob’s obituary/article in the Mansfield News Journal; May 7, 1968:

Jacob Crisp, 79, of 673 Fairfax Ave died Monday morning in Mansfield General Hospital following a five month illness.

He was born June 7, 1888 in Elliott County, Ky., and lived here since 1937. Mr. Crisp was a retired farmer.

Survivors are six sons, Walter Crisp of Newark O., Vester Crisp of Plain City, O., Sanford Crisp of Chillicothe, Tennison Crisp of Ontario, Estel Crisp of Irwin, O., and Vernon Crisp with the U.S. Air Force in Wichita Falls, Kan.; five daughters, Mrs. Gladys Sydnor of Lima, Mrs. Nannie McFarland of Springfield, Mrs. Onae Caudill of Mansfield, Mrs. Louie Minzler of Orlando, Fla., Mrs Arzona Huff, with whom Mr. Crisp made his home, a number of grandchilden and great-grandchildren, and one sister, Mrs. Jennie Fultz of Mansfield.

The body is at the Wappner Funeral Home where services will be held Thursday at 3pm by Rev. Thomas Leatherwood of the Mansfield Baptist Temple. Burial will be in Mansfield Memorial Park. Friends may call at the funeral home starting Tuesday evening.

Jacob Crisp Death Certificate

Mystery Monday: Henry Mays

The photo I was going to post today will have to wait. I was entering the Mays family into my family file yesterday. The Mays family is always a frustration for me because the sheer amount of them. They also loved to name their kids the same 10 names. It wasn’t uncommon to have 3 cousins, named William, and they were all born within a year of each other. That’s not what I’m writing about today though. My mystery is with Henry Mays.

He first shows up in 1900 with John and Celia Mays. He is listed as their son, with a birth date of 1885. This was always a little sketchy for my Mom because this puts him at 13 years younger then his nearest sibling. I did find another male child that was still born in 1875, so that pushes it to 10. Still, that is quite a leap. Mom always suspected that Henry might have been John and Celia’s grandson, born to their daughter Nancy. Nancy was 15  at the time of Henry’s birth. There is absolutely no evidence of this though so he’s John and Celia’s son in my mind.

John Mays household, 1900. Devils Fork, Elliott County, Kentucky.

All is well with the family through the 1910 census. It’s in 1920 that things get complicated. John and Celia moved to Clermont County, Ohio between 1910 and 1914, when Celia dies there. Their son William Harmon Mays, also moves to Clermont County with his young daughter after the death of his first wife. His second wife will give birth to my grandfather there in 1923. Nancy was a mystery for a while. She didn’t move to Ohio with her family. I eventually found a death record for her under the name Nancy Ann Sparks. This led me to her household in 1920. She was married to Andy J Sparks and lived in Rowan County until her death. (I’m still missing her in 1930 though, she died in 1938.) Henry disappears. There are two Henry Mays’ in 1920 living in Rowan County, Kentucky.

Henry Mays, 1920 Census search

Funny enough, both of these households have wives named Martha. They are definitely two different households. I checked to be sure. My next step was to check on FamilySearch to see if there was a marriage listing for Henry.

FamilySearch Kentucky Marriage Records search

The only thing I don’t like about this record is that it doesn’t give Celia’s maiden name but otherwise everything fits. I’m more than a little disturbed by a 31 year old marrying a 13 year old but maybe the age is wrong.

1910 Census. Farmers, Rowan County, Kentucky.

Oh, maybe the age wasn’t wrong. My next step was to sort out where the family was in 1920.  The problem is neither Henry Mays from above fits at all. So instead I looked for Cordie’s family to see if Henry and Cordie were living with them. It’s a logical move since most of Henry’s family moved to Ohio.

Donohew household, 1920.

Now I’m confused. Cordie is still living at home, her age is still aged 13 (should be 16 by this time), and she’s listed as widowed? So now I have no idea what happened to Henry Mays. Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t been to find any death record for Henry anywhere. Even a check of Elliott County came up blank.

Tombstone Tuesday: William L Mays

This is the tombstone of my mom’s brother. He passed away when he was just 2 years old. He left a big impact in the family. Until her dying day, my grandmother was still mourning for the little boy she lost so early in life. I always found it kind of surreal that both of my parents lost brothers so young.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging topic from GeneaBloggers.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: William Mays

This is my first Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post! This is a prompt put forth by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings. I thought this one would be particularly fun since a lot of my Mays relatives had a great many children.

  1. Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.
  2. Tell us about him in your own blog post.

I didn’t need to go far to find one of the most prolific fathers in my tree. There may be one with more children, but they aren’t confirmed by me yet.

The children count for William’s children may be subject to change. I haven’t finished researching them all yet.

William Mays married Anna Click

born: About 1813, Kentucky

  1. James Mays; born Oct 1836, married Margaret Slusher; had 8 children.
  2. Frances Susan Mays; born May 1837, never married (not sure); had 5 illegitimate children.
  3. Nancy L Mays; born about 1839, married William Flannery; not sure of children yet.
  4. Rebecca Mays; born about 1841, not married; had 1 illegitimate child.
  5. John Harmon Mays (my 2nd great grandfather); born Sep 1842, married Celia Slusher; had 4 children (1 was stillborn).
  6. William D Mays; born about 1843, married Lilly; had 4 children.
  7. Elizabeth J Mays; born about 1847, married ? Gray; not sure of children yet.
  8. Thomas Lindsey Mays; born about 1849, married Sarah Elizabeth Whitt; had 6 children.
  9. Anna Z Mays; born about 1852, not married; had 1 illegitimate child.
  10. Arminda Mays; born about 1853, one illegitimate child. married James Shelton, had 2 children. married Joseph Slusher, had 3 children.
  11. Jane Mays, born May 1853, no known spouse or children. (Shoot, she could be Arminda for all I know right now. This family confuses me.)
  12. Jurena Mays, born Mar 1855, married ? Adkins. No known children.
  13. Green Mays, born Jun 1857, married Susannah Gillium; had 11 children.
  14. Sarah Mays, born Jun 1860, no known spouse or children.
  15. Nancy Ellen Mays, born about 1862, married Hansford Conn; had 5 children.

As I stated by Jane’s information this family confuses me too much on the census. The children’s information is always fluctuating. Rebecca has been known to jump around in age by 10 years. I really don’t like to base anything for the Mays’ on any census information if I don’t have to. As you can see they were VERY prolific. It wasn’t just William. His brother Nathan also had 16 or so children. I can’t be sure of Nathan’s though because he was taking care of grandchildren by time the 1880 census came along, so I got very confused about who were children and who were grandchildren. Eventually I’ll sort it all out. They really could have helped out by varying the names of their children but all the Mays’ rotated the same 20 names or so. With each one having children numbering in the teens, well you can see how it would get confusing!

William and Anna Mays household, 1860.

Hijinks Indeed

This is the 1880 census image I’ve been working on for quite a bit. Not that I don’t know who everyone is or where they go. I do indeed know all of them. It’s just that because I am re-verifying information, I sometimes come back to this page.

As many times as I’ve looked at this image, and seen all the Mays families next to each other, there is something I’ve always missed. Family number 115 there. Morgan Carter. He’s right there smack dab in the middle of a Mays family sandwich. That sandwich includes the Gillam family at the top by the way. It just so happens that family contains Random Relative #1189, Dorothy/Dorthula? Gillium. So that’s why I’m once again back to this image. However, now I’m distracted by Mr. Carter there.

What are the odds that he’s just a random neighbor sandwiched between all those Mays folks. Sure since Anna is the patriarch of the family and the others are offshoots of her family, it’s possible that when they moved off Anna’s farm, they bought land nearby or from her even. (Kentucky, I need a genealogy trip to you like a need an Eggo Blueberry Waffle).  I checked the 1870 and 1860 censuses. He’s not next door to Anna in 1870 but he is in 1860. Weird that it would work out that way but I guess it just depends on which direction the enumerator was going.

I watched a free webinar on Ancestry that I’ll talk about in an upcoming entry. It was talking about cluster genealogy. It wasn’t until I watched that video that I realized I practice it all the time. I didn’t put it into practice because of a brick wall or unending mystery. I put it into practice because of families like this. In my Kentucky and Ohio families, it’s more often then not that I find whole pages of ancestors in the census instead of just one family in a town. It’s such a contrast to my Dad’s family where I look for one family in Brooklyn and I’m lucky if I find them.

So I imagine I’ll end up back here at Morgan Carter eventually. Carter is a surname in my tree in relation to this area. I just haven’t traced it this far back yet, or in some cases this far forward. It’s a surprise to me that I ever get anywhere in my research with how often I change directions!

I’m headed to Ohio for the weekend, a wedding, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update Monday. I have tons to update though. Once I get on a roll I can’t seem to stop. ^.^

Update on Photo Rehab

In this post, I showed you a quick peek at the start of my photo retouching project. It’s one of the only photos we have of my mother’s father. He died when my mother was pregnant with my older brother. So not many of his grandchildren ever really “met” him. A few were babies, I think. They might have all been in the womb still. I’d have to check my records, and I don’t have time for that right now. :p

L) Before | R) After

This is where my project stands right now. I don’t know if I’ll be able to save much more, but it’s certainly been worth the effort!

Another Mays Family Drama

I’ve posted twice already (01, 02) about trying to figure out about William and Anna Mays’ children. I’d link you to the main site, but I cleared it out so I could sync the ID numbers with my “Random Relative Project“. The last I researched this family, I was trying to figure out where some of the children came from and where the others went. I’m pretty sure the last I looked Anna Z Mays was up in the air because I couldn’t figure out who she married, and then I found someone matching her age, but with her younger sister’s  name (Ellen). So I was thoroughly confused.

Today, I was trying to log in one of my Random Relatives in the 1880 census and low and behold, I was back to Anna Mays’ household in 1880. They were living almost next door to my Random Relative. So I decided to let myself get distracted and I was finally going to track down those grandchildren living with Anna.

The first one, James, was fairly easy because I noticed that I had Rebecca listed as having a son. I have him listed as James H Mays, born Oct 1864. I have his death certificate so his birthdate and parents are correct. Well, as correct as they’ll ever get. So he fits. Easy as pie.

The next grandchild, Willis, aged 2 was a little bit trickier. My mistake was assuming that because because they are listed with the Mays surname that they were children of one of Anna’s sons. For some reason I forgot that the Mays girls had quite a few illegitimate children. My next step was going to the Kentucky Birth Records, 1852-1910. It was spacey record keeping and the records are even spacier, but it was worth a shot.

You may not be able to see it because of the size but that shows Willis Maise born 22 Aug 1878. Parents are Jacson Conn and Anna Z Maise. Maise/Maize is a very common spelling for the Mays family of  Kentucky in the old records. If this was just an index I probably wouldn’t even have looked through this as I’m becoming very careful about my sources (My momma would be proud! I should tell her ^.^) This has images to back things up though, so I can confirm details instead of relying on a transcriber who sometimes gets things wrong. I know how tough that job is so you won’t see me complaining!

Wow, okay, that wasn’t so bad either. Though the Conn last name brought me up short because Anna’s little sister Ellen married Hansford Conn in 1878. That doesn’t surprise me though because the Mays clan married like that a lot. Several siblings ended up marrying siblings. If that makes sense.

My next step was trying to find a Jackson Conn in Elliott County in the 1870 and 1880 census. Just to see if there was one close. Another tip I had was that the father’s birthplace was given as Virginia.

There was exactly one Jackson Conn living anywhere in Elliott County in 1870… and he was married. Yikes. Let’s look at 1880.

Still married in 1880, but looks like a different wife. I’m starting to think there’s a scandal here. Of course it’s nothing I can prove and who says the name was written correctly. So we’ll have to see where that takes us, but I at least feel safe in listing Willis as the son of Anna Z Mays. Now I just have to figure out the other two grand children. I’m going to “assume” for now (because I’m not researching them today), that at least the 8 month baby girl’s mother is another of the girls who is living with their mother. We just have to figure out which one. I’ll have to see if that year’s birth pages made it online.

The Mystery of Henry

There is always one person in your family file who frustrates you. Sometimes it’s because they show up out of nowhere. Or maybe they disappeared. How these mysteries are ever solved I don’t know. I usually just walk away from it for awhile and try again later with a clear brain. Sometimes it works, most times I have to lather, rinse, and repeat a few times.

One of those people in my family is Mr. Henry C Mays. He showed up in the household of John and Celia Mays in 1900. He’s listed as their son. When my Mom was researching this family, she was always suspicious about him. She thought maybe he was actually Nancy’s son but her parents were raising him. Who knows what the real story is. There isn’t much to verify that available to me right now. Especially since Henry was born in or around 1885. Well before Kentucky started regulating birth records in 1911.

Henry is still there in 1910, still listed as John and Celia’s son. So I’m going to go for broke and assume that he is their son. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a death record for him to verify this. There is a Henry Mays living in Rowan County, Kentucky in 1920 but I can’t be sure that is him and the family is gone again in 1930. 1920 is when John, Celia, and William Harmon moved to Ohio. Nancy married and stayed in Kentucky though. So Henry could have ended up anywhere. Eventually I hope to find him. I’ll keep trying until I find out where he went.

The even crazier part is we asked my Grandmother about William Harmon Mays’ family before she passed away. No one was even aware that William had a sister, let alone another brother somewhere. Who knows what we could have found out if my mother’s father had lived longer, but we may never know what happened to the Mays family. They seemed to have scattered and not spoken of each other.

Mays Family Update


After I made my Mays Family post yesterday, I went back through the Kentucky Death Records on I decided to just put random details in there and see what came up. You may not be able to tell from the size of that death certificate but that is Jurena Mays‘ death certificate. It shows her married name as Adkins. So that was a nice little hint. It also showed her parents as William Mays and Anna Click. That answered the questions about whose family she belonged to, but not my questions about why she showed up out of the blue in 1870.

Having the tip of the married name of Adkins, and the Informant name of Milburn Adkins, I set about finding Census records for Jurena. What happens next is why I took a two day break from the Mays family. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

1900 was the first census I tried to find. I couldn’t find Jurena anywhere. I tried all the combinations I could, but I couldn’t find her. So I jumped to Milburn Adkins. In all the remaining census years Milburn has a wife whose name varies. The birthday never various. The birthday matches up with Ellen Mays, but her name is mostly listed as Eliza, except for one year when she was known as Eliza Ellen. So my immediate next thought was that this must be Ellen’s husband and he acted as informant for his sister-in-law. Only when I started relaying this information to my Mom. She broke out her old notes, she had a complete different husband for Ellen.

It’s about that moment, I threw my hands in the air. Put on my fluffy pajamas, and grabbed myself a cold drink. I was done. So now I’m going to take a break from the Mays family and focus for a bit on the Taylor side. They are so much easier to locate!

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