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Deep in the heart of Texas

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Going nowhere fast with Virginia and New Mexico, so I thought I’d revisit the Lone Star State. After all, I’ve got several lines there that have holes.

Wise move.

I had been less than successful with, but somehow got back there through search. As usual, tracking the elusive Ras Boulds, who was born in 1860 but doesn’t seem to exist prior to 1900, and remarking on all the misspelled names. Especially my grandmother’s, Marguerite.

Then one jumped out at me, from a document I hadn’t seen before: Texas Marriages. Marguriett (sic) Boulds and A.W. DeLeon, married 24 November 1920.


Although there are other errors: He was born in 1896, not 1899, and thus was 24, not 21. But it’s the real deal. Very nice complement to the original marriage certificate, which I have.

So while in Texas Marriages, I did a bit more rummaging and surprise! Found Algeron A. DeLeon and Narciss Hughes, who were wed 22 December 1892 in Matagorda, Texas. Yes, my great-grandparents.

Double woot!

My grandmother never knew her mother-in-law; she died before my grandparents met and my grandfather didn’t speak much of her.

Narciss Hughes DeLeon died on 9 January 1919, of tuberculosis. She was 43 years old. My grandfather was just 22 years old. She lived her whole life in Matagorda. More clues: a birthdate (15 February 1875) and parents’ names and states of birth. Best of all: an image of the death certificate.

And then there are the Stewarts. When I first started researching my family, I started with them because my grandmother knew the most about them, and because “they always took part in the census.” Low-hanging fruit, I figured. Sure enough, I found them in the 1880 census … and could never find them again.

Found. Bad misspellings — Ainik Stewort! — but thanks to an unusual first name, Sofa, and an exceedingly common one, Mary (my great-grandmother), I connected the dots.

Deep, deep in the heart of Texas…


Other stories

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A couple of nights ago, I was privileged to hear Isabel Wilkerson speak at Oakland’s African American Museum and Library. You may know that she is the author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” the epic telling of the Great Migration, whereby some half of America’s blacks left the South and resettled in the North and the West.

(If you haven’t read it, do so. It’s a wonderful read, easily he best book I’ve read in ages.)

It is about history, not genealogy; but genealogy is history writ small, and so this grand history — made digestible by narrowing down to three people on three paths — is the history of many of us. It *is* our history.

Our individual histories are just that: individual. But the collective triumphed Wednesday: as many of us claimed Texas or Louisiana as home; as we laughed at and applauded all we had in common.

One Lovely Blog award

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I am honored to have received the One Lovely Blog Award from Mavis of Georgia Black Crackers and Conversations With My Ancestors . Thank you so much.

The recipient of the One Lovely Blog Award is to

  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
  2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Steps 2 and 3 will have to wait until tonight. There are a number of blogs in the genealogy community I certainly want to recognize.

A happy mistake

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It pays to revisit things, even when you think they’re settled. I thought I had Adaline Hawkins’ family all squared away in what became the outer burbs of DC. But something didn’t quite add up. Her father was born in Baltimore. And even if she moved from one coast to the other, most people in the 19th century barely moved across town.

So I looked again. And found another Adaline Hawkins, of comparable age, in Baltimore.

In 1850. In the U.S. Census.


More details as I find them.

4/7/11: While the Hawkins family is in the 1850 census, it’s not in the 1840. I know from Adaline’s death certificate that her dad, Richard Hawkins, was born in Baltimore, so it’s probably a fair guess that he and some measure of the family were freed during the 1840s.

The thought of poring through 10 years of wills filed in Baltimore County — even if filtered down to just the city — is a bit daunting. Baltimore was a thriving city, then as now. Although, sad to say, it seems the city and/or county didn’t track birth certificates until the turn of the century.

What’s old is new again

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One reason I’ve neglected the blog is because I’ve been knee-deep in home improvement. But it’s at a point where I was able to get things out of storage.

One box was full of treasures: old photos and family research! Found copies of death certificates, negatives of photo copies my mother had made, all sorts of stuff.

Maybe I can solve some mysteries now.

Ends and beginnings

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I finally got the death certificates today, for Adaline and James Marryatt, my second-great-grandparents. It took a while, but Alameda County came through. It occurs to me that I may be the first after four generations not to die in Alameda County. They got me at the front end, though.

It’s a sad end to James’ story. He died of ptomaine poisoning. Ironic, given that he was a cook most of his adult life. It’s rather disconcerting to see “Violent” written at the top of the form, I guess to classify the type of death. He died a year after the 1906 earthquake. It appears he lived in Oakland 12 years before his death, so I guess they fled foggy San Francisco around 1895. Adaline didn’t know much about her husband’s background: neither name nor birthplace of either of his parents.

Adaline died 16 years later, also in Oakland. Chronic nephritis — kidney disease — was the cause, and she was treated for it for nearly a year. But with this ending we have a beginning as well. Her mother, name unknown — as yet — was born in Maryland. Her father, one Mr. Hawkins, was born in Baltimore, Md. So now I know that Adaline Marryatt was born Adaline Hawkins on March 16, 1852 in Maryland.

It’s a small state. Wish me luck in my snooping.

… A couple of hours later…

Indeed she was. And in the 1870 census, she and the rest of the Hawkins family were living in Charles County, somewhere near Bryantown, Maryland. Surprise to me (and perhaps a clue): Charles County is immediately south of Prince George’s County. Which I surely know, having spent my college years there, is right outside the District of Columbia. Today it would be part of the Beltway.

A likely scenario: James Marryatt accompanies Charles King to Washington on USGS business, probably in the early 1870s. He meets and courts the young Miss Hawkins. Now, there’s no marriage record that I can find in Charles County, where one would expect she’d marry. But this courter of hers … he’s older; he’s gallivanting across the country with some white man; he’s come there from California; and he’s not even American. Would you want your 20something-year-old daughter rmarrying the likes of him? Probably not. So: maybe they married in Washington? That’s a lot less daunting than the thought of anywhere between there and Nevada.

I now know her parents’ names: Ann and James Hawkins, both likely born in 1823, again in Maryland. Some siblings, too. Sadly, all this precise info is nearly worthless when it comes to the slave schedules. No matches, despite only four or five white families named Hawkins in Charles County (and yes, all from Bryantown).

Catching up

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I’ve been very neglectful. Have had a monster of a multimedia project at work, and what normally is my personal online time has gone toward work. But the project is done now, so here I am.

Thanks Mavis, for the Ancestor Approved Award! I am just now getting up to speed on this and will pass it along in short order. Would post the award image, but am having trouble uploading it.