Oh boy, sometimes those census records can really throw you for a loop. Sometimes they might even change the entire way you think about a family you are researching. There is never a family that confused me more than the Mays family. Any Mays researcher out there will agree with me. They are hard to pin down! This week I’m going to spotlight Rebecca Mays, for sheer stubbornness!
1850 United States Census
In the 1850 Census, everything seems fine. Nothing out of the ordinary here. We won’t even go into the fact that I don’t believe I have ever found a document that states William Mays Jr was the son of William Mays Sr. Especially since I know from watching many webinars that sometimes the Sr and Jr were added by enumerators if there was an older and younger man of the same name living near each other. I’ll get to that in my Do-Over when it’s time to stress over that! This census is important because it’s the earliest one that is going to give me ages of the children closest to the birth. This is especially important for Rebecca, who is aged 9 in this census.
1860 United States Census
This is where Rebecca starts to play with our minds a little bit. Between 1850 and 1860, William and Rebecca swapped places in the birth order. Things don’t get any better as the years go. To save space, I made us a chart of the family through the years.
The Mays Family in the Census
For the chart, I decided to leave blank spaces when children left the household. I was hoping it would help give a clear view of the family group and it did! 1870 was really a crazy census year for the Mays family. The oldest 4 children had left the household, no big deal. Then there is Rebecca. Oh, Rebecca. She managed to gain 3 years between 1850 and 1860, which actually isn’t that unusual for census ages. It’s between 1860 and 1870 that Rebecca clearly found the Fountain of Youth! She only aged 2 years in that time! When you look ahead to 1880, you can see Rebecca’s age actually goes back to what her age would have been if she’d stayed consistent through her lifetime.
Sidenote: I see you appearing out of nowhere Jane! Or is it Elizabeth J. Mays pulling a fast one like her sister Rebecca. I just don’t know anymore!
It wasn’t an indexing error.
Those of us with a few genealogy years under our belt might say that it could be a transcription error in 1870. That maybe it was just really hard to read and so it looks like 18 but was actually 28.
Nope, it sure is clearly saying Rebecca is 18 years old. Oh, Rebecca. I appreciate you and all your age games!
I thought long and hard about how I would interpret the prompt this week. I was going to do the longest living male and female. Then I was going to do the longest married couple. Thinking about all those tempted me to look in my old file, so I decided right then and there I was going to poke around my current Do-Over file and see what jumped out at me.
Mary Jane Mays-Jegley
Aunt Janie was my Grandpa Stanley’s half-sister. Aunt Janie stood out to me because at the current part of my Do-Over I am trying to untangle the online theories about her father and his parents. That’s a story for a different day. I’m here to spotlight Janie. She is the daughter of William Harmon Mays and Sarah Elizabeth McDaniels. I’ve talked about them a few times. Here is their marriage record and this is a timeline of William’s life. I also talked about a census entry for Sarah in 1910 that had me curious. More on that later as well. She was born in September of 1906 in Rowan County, Kentucky. After her mother’s early passing, she moved to Clermont County with her father and paternal grandparents.
That is 94 miles away from any other family that they had. That is a massive distance in the early 1900s, especially for rural farmers who didn’t have much. I don’t know what prompted the family to move. It does seem that there was plenty of sicknesses going around at the time, but I haven’t been able to research fully to know if there was an increased death rate in the area. To move so far, so completely away from everyone, it must have been something though.
After moving to Clermont County, William hired Iva Belle Moyer to look after Janie and he eventually married her. Janie married George Jegley in January of 1928 in Clermont County and they had a son. My Grandma didn’t write down all of Janie’s descendants, so I’m going to have a heck of a time finding them all, but I hope they all know how much my mother’s family loved her. I haven’t heard anyone speak an ill word of Aunt Janie.
From what I can tell, Janie was close with her brothers and her sister in law, Emogene. She often wrote letters to Emogene… but more on that later. 😉
Aunt Janie lived to be 93 years, 7 months, and 1 day old. She currently has the longest lifespan in my family tree file of 480 people. In addition to that, she outlived the average female lifespan in my database by close to 30 years and the longest living male in my database by 7 years.
This is my only official document from Sarah E. McDaniel’s lifetime. Numerous other researchers from the area have said they’ve tried looking for a record of Sarah’s death and haven’t seen it. I haven’t actively searched for the record yet which makes me uncomfortable saying it isn’t there. Even if it isn’t an actual death record, there might be something else that leads to that.
Sarah is mentioned again on her only child’s marriage record. It seems that she probably went by her middle name of Elizabeth in her adult life. That is the name that was crossed out in the census and that is what she is listed as on her daughter’s marriage record. All we really know about Sarah is that she married at 17, had her child at 18, appeared in the 1910 census but was crossed out, and her husband was remarried and living in Ohio by 1918. The years in between 1910 and 1918 are a mystery. To find out more, it looks like I’ll have to expand my search to her F(amily) A(ssociates) N(eighbors) network. This could be a great Mystery Monday topic!
Today’s Wedding Wednesday is for my great grandparents William Harmon Mays and his second wife, Iva Belle Moyer. Next week I will post the record for his marriage with his first wife.
As far as I’m aware, there are no known photographs of William or Iva. There are a few family members who remember them at the end of their lives but I haven’t been able to find any pictures of them.
There is a lot of jumping around going on with my posts since I’m working on my Do-Over. To help orientate anyone who is confused on where people belong on the tree and just how far back I’ve gotten into my Do-Over, just scroll a little further for an updated pedigree screenshot.
The current pedigree
As you can see, I have only gotten back to my great-grandparents but I’m pretty close to doing my last set! I’ve been systematically going through my research plan and I’ll update you on that soon.
Just for the Curious
You might be curious about what the little red error boxes on my pedigree screenshot mean. Those are my program telling me that three of my grandparents were born quite awhile after their parents marriages. The program suggests that I might have to look for other children born between the marriage and the birth of my grandparents. According to family knowledge there are none, but we all know that can be wrong!
Today’s Wedding Wednesday comes with a reminder for myself! It is ALWAYS better to search out the original document that an index is referencing. Today’s wedding is my Grandma and Grandpa Wayne. My mother’s father died when she was just 17 years old, so I never got to meet him. From the time I was born to 2005, I had my Grandpa Wayne though. He was my Grandma’s second husband. They were married in 1982.
I’ve been working on my Genealogy Do-Over a lot this week. I was adding in the Ohio Marriage Index entry for Grandma and Grandpa Wayne when I had a thought. The Clermont County, Ohio marriage records are browse-able on FamilySearch.org! I could get an image copy of their marriage certificate. I went about adding the marriage index because I’m a better researcher now and that BSO couldn’t distract me from finishing my current task! I’m so proud of myself. 🙂
Everything, looks great there! Now that I’d finished adding in the index, let me track down that marriage certificate on the other website.
The Marriage Certificate
For the sake of full disclosure, the above record is cropped to just show the Marriage Certificate. The application and license are all shown on the same page. Though that probably comes into play in a minute, just bare with me! If you look at the Index, it states they were married on May 13th. The certificate says that they were married on May 11th and the record was filed and recorded on May 13th. I’m looking at a certificate, so to me, that holds more weight than an index that I can’t see where the information was even generated from.
I’m not one to just let it stand there though, so I brought up some marriage index entries and certificates for a few cousins and Aunts. They all show the same date on the index and certificate. That leads me to the conclusion that this was a typing/transcription error on the index.
One last observation
As I was entering the Marriage Certificate into Evidentia and my Genealogy program, I noticed that I have a page number, but no certificate number. That’s not some crazy thing though because these Clermont County certificates were bound from loose papers. I can tell from the full digital image.
The index however cites a volume number and certificate number. None of those numbers are visible in this digital collection. In fact the volume on the index is 11158 and the Clermont County book is volume 81. This shows me that the index was most likely created by a derivative copy sent to the state from the county. When you think about the further removed from an event a record gets, it really makes you think of all the ways it can go wrong!
From my thrown together graphic, I can see that I would be better getting the word of the officiant or someone at the wedding to know what date is right. (Yes, I’m still thinking it over even though I know they were married on May 11th. I like to think something over enough to get sick of it! haha)
Going back to the family tree Grandma carried around for over 30 years, and we have May 11, 1982! Man, this Genealogy Do-Over, Genealogy Proof Standards, and Evidentia are sure making me scrape together every bit of information!
There is a bit of a story behind this marriage record. This record has always been a bit of a dirty secret to me. Not because of the contents, or the events surrounding it. It was because it was a record so close to the current generations and I didn’t have it! It was this big blank spot in my documentation. I’ve always known the marriage date of my maternal grandparents. Not only do I have Grandma’s copy of the family tree from the 1980s, but it’s always been a known day since Grandma’s birthday was May 6th and her first wedding anniversary was May 3rd. We’d call up Grandma and say, “Happy Birthday and Anniversary!” Mostly because my Mom said she could never remember which was the day for either event! Oops! haha.
Looking at the family tree, you can see that it says Grandma married Grandpa Stanley 3 May 1947 but it doesn’t give a location. For years, I’ve been on the lookout for the record of their marriage. I’d asked all my aunts and my uncle if they knew where their parents were married. By the end of those conversations I had numerous options: Brown County Ohio, Clermont County Ohio, and Kentucky. My Mom (the second youngest) and Aunt Vera (the eldest) said Newport, Kentucky. My Aunt Molly (middle child) who spent the most time with Grandma said Clermont County, Ohio. Those are my three top sources of family memories so I was sunk! Who did I believe? Where do I look?
Where did you look?
The short answer is trust none of them, search all of them. The long answer is that Campbell County, Kentucky marriage records were the first I found browsable at FamilySearch.org: Campbell County Courthouse Records, Alexandria, KY. After going through those records page by page and not finding it, I was starting to think that Ohio was the place.
Luckily for me Brown and Clermont Counties are also on FamilySearch. After finding dozens of my family members in those counties, I was disappointed to not find Grandma and Grandpa Stanley’s marriage record. I wasn’t sure where to look next until I realized that Mom and Aunt Vera had both told me that Grandma was married in Newport, KY and all those marriages I saw in Kentucky were from Alexandria, Kentucky.
That’s right, Campbell County has TWO courthouses, both with different records. This news made me excited because there was still somewhere reasonable to search! I even started wondering how I would bribe my Aunt Molly to find that record for me. Luckily for me and Aunt Molly, FamilySearch put the other courthouse records online too! So, over 15 years after starting my genealogy research, I was finally able to see my Grandma and Grandpa Stanley’s marriage record! Though, that 15 years would have probably been shortened had I gone to Kentucky to search. Someone there surely would have said, “Hey! Have you checked the Newport Courthouse records? These are for the Alexandria Courthouse!”
This weeks timeline focus is my great-grandfather, William Harmon Mays. Lets see what I can find to do next with him. 🙂
June 2, 1872
William Harmon Mays is born to John Mays and Celia Slusher in Elliott County, Kentucky. He is their second child and first son. [1. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 14438 (1952), William Harmon Mays; digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 Sep 2010)]
William is counted in the 1880 United States Census. He is 8 years old and lives with his parents and older sister in Elliott County, Kentucky. John and Celia tell the census taker they are unable to read and write. John is also sick with dysentary.
William is going by his middle name of Harmon on the 1900 United States Census. He is working as a farm laborer for Andrew Fraley in Elliott County, Kentucky.
William’s first child, Mary Jane Mays is born in Morehead, Rowan, Kentucky. William is 34 years old and Sarah is 18 years old. [2. Clermont County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1800-2013, 35, 1926-1930: 228, Jegley-Mays, 1928; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 Mar 2016).]
Family Lore: I believe sometimes in this time period Sarah dies. The rumor in the family was that she was sick with tuberculosis. We have no records to indicate that.
William is counted with his wife Elizabeth and young daughter Mary in the 1910 United States Census. They are living in Rowan County, Kentucky next to his parents. He owns his own farm. Elizabeth is crossed out of the census, but all her information is there.
November 11, 1914
William‘s mother, Celia Slusher-Mays, dies at the age of 73 in Tate township, Clermont, Ohio. She suffered from Mitral insufficiency and senility for 6 months. The informant for her death is Harmon Mays. [3. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 59028 (1914), Cela Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.]
Family Lore: My grandmother told me that Iva Belle started off taking care of Mary Jane (Janie), and William married her later. She gave the impression is was a year or more after Iva began caring for Janie.
William is now living in Monroe township, Clermont County, Ohio. He is now renting the farm he lives on with his second wife, Iva Belle Moyer. His daughter, Mary Jane Mays, is now thirteen years old. William’s father, John is living with the family and he is now able to read and write.
Observation: It’s very cool to me that John learned to read and write between 1880 and 1920. It looks as if he could write in 1910, but not read. Just very awesome and shows you it is never too late to learn things.
January 21, 1923
My grandfather, Stanley Mays, is born to William and Iva Belle Mays in Tate township, Ohio. He is their first child. His birth was originally falsely recorded as being in 1913 but it was corrected in April of 1923. This isn’t a false correction. The birth certificate was pre-printed with 191__ and it was corrected to be sure that 1923 was given as the correct year of birth. [4. Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics, returned 910 (1923), Stanley Lee Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.]
May 3, 1924
William and Iva’s second child, Ralph Dallas Mays is born in Tate township, Ohio. This is their last child. His birth certificate doesn’t show his name but the details all match him. [5. Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics, 43991 (1924), blank; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus.]
January 20, 1927
William‘s father, John Mays, dies in Tate township, Ohio at the age of 84. He had internal injuries after falling. No other details were given at the time of his death. Harmon Mays is the informant for his death. John’s name on his death certificate is listed as Harmon Mays and the cemetery office also lists him as Harmon. These are the only two times I have heard of John referenced to as Harmon. [6. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 639 (1927), Harmon Mays; digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 26 Sep 2010)]
January 11, 1928
William‘s oldest child, Mary Jane Mays marries George Jegley in Clermont, Ohio. She lists her parents as Harmon Mays and Elizabeth McDaniel. She lists her birthplace as Morehead, Kentucky. [2. Clermont County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1800-2013, 35, 1926-1930: 228, Jegley-Mays, 1928; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 24 Mar 2016).]
William is 57 years old in the 1930 United States Census. He is now living in Tate township with his wife Iva and two sons, Stanley (my grandfather) and Ralph.
William is now shown as living in Monroe township. It should be noted that he is probably living in the same area and not moving around. This is a rural area and these townships are usually all near each other. William and his sons are grain and tobacco farmers. Tobacco was big for this area and our family is even kind of known for it.
Family Lore: Some members of the family say they married in Kentucky, and some say Ohio. I am still looking for their marriage certificate.
October 2, 1949
William‘s second wife Iva, died after a year long illness at the age of 55. Her cause of death was heart disease. The informant on her death certificate is William Harmon Mays. [7. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 61919 (1949), Iva Belle Mays; digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 May 2016)]
January 19, 1952
William‘s second son, Ralph, dies in Tate township, Ohio at the age of 27. The informant on his death certificate is my grandfather, Stanley Mays. [8. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, death certificate 07293 (1952), Ralph Dallas Mays; Ohio Department of Health, Columbus]
March 7, 1952
William dies at the age of 79 in Monroe township, Ohio. It says on his death certificate that he had arteriosclerosis for many years before his death. His parents are listed as John Mays and Cecelia Gray. His daughter Mrs. George Jegley is the informant on his death certificate.
Records to Find:
I am still looking for some kind of birth record for William. There should be a county birth record, I just have to locate it.
Stanley and Emogene’s marriage certificate. Might be in Campbell County, Kentucky.
There is a 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900. I need to fill this space in with alternate records.
I will probably look into Andrew Fraley’s family also. Since William lived and worked on his farm, it might help me to find more information on William.
Records to Order:
I can’t think of any records to order at this time. Everything else for William will most likely have to be done in person. I will need to research which records are available.
Note: There are more events but I didn’t put them to protect the privacy of living individuals. 🙂
It would be a gross understatement that I’ve recently become re-obsessed with office supplies. After making a Genealogy Binder, it was all downhill from there. Unfortunately, I was very sick all week and I’m just now coming back around. Funny how that happened. You get sick on Saturday and then by time Saturday rolls around again, you’re finally feeling human again. I hate being sick, I’m so glad it doesn’t happen often. I’m not one to sit still for long!
Before the “Great Illness of 2012”, I had started to decide what my next project was going to be, since I’m going to finish my new file soon. Okay in a couple of months is still soon, it’s been two years! There’s one thing that’s been bugging me and I figure it’s going to have to be that… I have to go back to the Mays and finish them off.
You may be a little surprised to hear me say that. However, when I got lost in the Mays’ the first time around, I was sinking fast. They’re hard to comprehend on the best of days. This project had seemed to be going on forever and most of that time was on the Mays’. So I made a decision to not go insane researching all of the Mays’ children who descended from William Mays and Frances Adkins unless I could find solid links to them. So there are four Mays children who I skipped the first go round because there was no clear (i.e. easy) connection between them and their parents. Mostly because they were not living with or next to their parents in the 1850 US Census.
To give you an idea of how many were skipped from my Original file, the ones highlighted in orange have been added and sourced in my new family file.
That’s a 9 page report. I definitely have my work cut out for me. I only hope that I can make some sense of it. These Mays’ don’t like to make it easy.
I’m coming clean today about my addiction to naming patterns. My brother is a 4th generation William Moore, and that wasn’t even the beginning of the Williams. In my old “Original” family file, I had 180 Williams in a database of 4,349 people. That’s 4% of my tree being made up of men named William. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things but in my new revamped file, where I still have two branches of the tree to add, there are 49 Williams out of 923 people. That’s already 5% without adding in the Taylors, Crabbs, or Webbs. To anyone but me that doesn’t seem like much but I know for a fact I have 475 people with the Taylor surname in my old “Original” file.
I think it’s this over abundance of Williams that has led to my fascination with naming patterns. I’ve used naming patterns for the Scottish ancestry on my father’s side of the tree. I’ve talked about naming patterns on the blog. I’ve printed out every naming pattern variation I’ve ever come across online. I’ve tried to find patterns in my families that don’t follow a naming pattern. When I say obsession, I mean OBSESSION.
One thing I haven’t done with naming patterns is see if they pertain at all to my Mays line. The Mays family were the most prolific of my lines, so it would be really interesting to dissect them!
The naming pattern rules I’m using were found on the genealogy.com website. The article was written by Donna Przecha. An important part of the article is that you can’t put too much credence in naming patterns. They are very helpful if your family happened to follow them, but not everyone did. Especially if there are skeletons in the closet or a lot of children. A lot of times you can also count on a “regional” or “period” name. You’ll see it most in census records where you see so many names at once. I have only heavily researched the Ohio/Kentucky/Virginia and New Jersey areas. However, I can tell you the names Mahala and Arminda are more common to the rural Ohio/Kentucky area then New Jersey. In New Jersey you’ll find a lot more traditional names; Catherine, George, Lewis, Josephine.
William and Anna’s first son, James. I don’t know the name of William’s father, so there is no way to see if the pattern holds up.
William and Anna’s first daughter, Frances Susan. Frances gets both her names from her grandmothers. Her first name after her father’s mother and her middle name after her mothers. Frances went by both names at different points in her life.
William and Anna’s second daughter, Nancy. I don’t see any instance of Nancy in the immediate family, but I know they use this name often in future generations.
William and Anna’s third daughter, Rebecca. She is not named after her mother.
William and Anna’s second son, John Harmon. Anna’s father was named John, so this fits with the pattern.
William and Anna’s third son, William. He does have the same name as his father.
William and Anna’s fourth daughter, Elizabeth. Anna’s eldest sister was named Elizabeth.
William and Anna’s fourth son, Thomas Lindsey. As far as I know, William’s eldest brother is named James. So this doesn’t fit in with the pattern.
So I came up 4/8 on the first four of each gender. That’s actually not bad especially with quite a few holes in the family picture. Another thing I noticed while looking over the siblings of each family for a few generation is a few middle names that most likely came from surnames that married into the family (ie. Harmon, Lindsey, Hudson). For the sake of research sake I also must mention that William’s brother, Nathan, had at least 18 children and I don’t think any of them followed any type of pattern.
Now the fun part would be to see if the Mays family follows their own pattern. Maybe I can make a chart and dissect the family names myself. Do you see what I mean by obsessed now?
Disclaimer: I am no expert at naming patterns. I’m not even sure about most of the information a generation above William and Anna. I used my “original” file to analyze this hypothesis. I haven’t delved deeply into Anna’s family yet, because I know it twists and turns amongst the Mays/Slusher/Whitt lines, so I decided to hold off until I had the rest of the tree re-added. That way I can keep moving forward instead of continuously going sideways for now.
As anyone who researches their genealogy knows, the women can be hard to track down once they leave the house. It gets doubly hard in very rural areas where records might not have been kept. I run into this problem a lot in my Kentucky/Ohio research. One of my more recent “brick walls” is Margaret Slusher. I say “brick wall” because technically it isn’t. I know who her parents are and I know who her husband is. I even know the year she married. However, in 1860, she’s not living with her new husband or her parents. I’m a stickler for the details, so it bugs me when I can’t find people in certain censuses. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but most times it’s just you’re not looking in the right place. The key to the problem is Margaret’s marriage to James Mays happened in September of 1860.
What a lot of people forget is that most censuses take a few months to complete, however, the enumerator is supposed to record the data as it reflects the household on a certain day. In 1860, that day was June 1, 1860.
I was transcribing the surrounding households of Joseph and Nancy Slusher, Margaret’s parents, when I came across William Jenkins household. At the very end, it shows a 20 year old Margaret Slusher. Since I don’t know my Margaret’s exact birth date yet, this one definitely fits with her estimated birth. The birthplace of Virginia fits. It’s the little tick that the blue arrow points to that interests me now. That tick is to show that the person was married within the year. I’d say this is my Margaret. I got very lucky that she didn’t get missed in the census all together since her marriage fell at such an awkward time of the year for the census. 🙂 I also got lucky that the Jenkins household gave Margaret’s maiden name. If they hadn’t I might have just had to live with not locating Margaret on the census.