Sunday, October 19, 2014

You Maried The Same Woman Twice? Nope, Her Cousin.

Meet Thomas William Whittaker and Melissa Ann Whittington. Though not a brick wall (anymore) regarding this ancestral couple, at one time they caused much confusion and I don't have much beyond their generation that is reliable.

These are thought to be photos of them but the owners cannot guarantee:
writing on back says wife #2

OK, so I am clipping along doing research on Thomas. He is the son of Talamacus and an unknown/unsure mother. According to his head stone, Thomas was born 15 April 1843. Lawrence County Arkansas censuses 1850 though 1900 consistently list birthplace as Missouri and verify that his father has a difficult name to spell ;)

I find a marriage certificate in Randolph County Arkansas of Thomas Whittaker and Melissa A Whittington. You can see below that Randolph County is the county north of Lawrence County and Randolph is on the border with Missouri.
lol, it's a map of counties where you can, or cannot, sell alcohol

The certificate states they were married 8th day of June 1863, that Thomas Whitker is from Lawrence County Arkansas and is 21 years old, and that Mealisia Ann Whittington is from the Butler County Missouri and is 18 years old. The certificate lists her father, not by name, as doing something regarding her age (can't read it).
perhaps you can tell me what her father did (certify?)
They have children in 1866, 1867, 1869, 1871, 1873, 1875, 1876, and 1879.

On the 1870 census "Malissa" is listed as 24 born Tennessee. (there is a Thomas Whittington next door and Talamacus Whittaker two doors down). 1870 - 24 = born 1846.
On the 1880 census "Malessa" is 27 born Missouri. The oldest child is 14 meaning if this Melissa is her mother she was only 13 when she delivered her. We know from the marriage certificate that "Mealisia" was 18 when they were married. 1880 - 27 = born 1853
On the 1900 census "Mallissa A" is 48 and born in Missouri. They also state they have been married 20 years meaning they were married in 1880). 1900 - 48 = born1852
Thomas and his wife have more documented children in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1896.
Long story short - according to other researchers, there's a second marriage for Thomas to Malissa Ann Whittington in Butler County Missouri on 25 Jun 1879. I'm told the first Malissa died and he married her first cousin also named Malissa Ann Whittington.
I found this listing from Butler county Missouri Marriage Records Book C at but I don't have a copy.
        Whitacre, Thomas       Whittington, Malissa A.       6/25/1879   page 33.3


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lost Ancestors, Lost Blog

Yes, it has been a long time and I won't bore you with the details of why. Hopefully I will be able to post at least once a month although things change very slowly in the world of dead ends (or else they wouldn't be brick walls, right?)

So, I have a question for you all. Is anyone else having difficulty locating family in the 1870 census? I have several families where I have them in 1860 and 1880 but cannot find them in 1870. Is there something about that census that I need to know? It's like trying to find them on the 1890 census (genealogy joke).

I do have a quasi theory on this - perhaps they were "laying low" after the War Between The States. (Yes, I call it that because Civil War implies a war within one country. The Confederate states had seceded.) Many of my relations supported the side that did not prevail; actually, all of them that I have found were Confederate soldiers. (I thought I had a Yankee one time but it turned out to be same name, same year of birth, but different person.)

Another researcher of one of my lines said that his branch of the family had passed down a story that the family left Alabama because in that part of the state Confederate sympathizers were harassed and treated badly after the war. Basically, they were run off. This makes me wonder if my family may have been in transition and missed on the census, or perhaps did something to hide their identity during the years following the war.

Which leads me to another discussion - judgment. I don't judge my ancestors. I didn't live their life, in their time, and regardless of the amount of research I do into their lives, I really have no way to know what it was truly like to be them. It doesn't matter to me if they were married when their children were born, if they divorced, or which side of a war they were on. I'm sure many researcher has run into the same resistance I have when interviewing older family members who don't want to spill it because something was embarrassing (to them).

As a family history researcher I have set judgment aside. I keep an open mind to any possibility and let the facts stand as is.