Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mrs. Fannie Pierce (part 2)

How does one begin to explain all the mysteries that are clues to a great grandmother but to date, have not helped her descendants locate her. Perhaps you just jump in and rattle them off as they come to mind.

The Two Surnames

First Surname

The two different surnames is the most recent discovery about my great-grandmother and may be the most revealing in finding out more about her. The branch of the tree that descended from my grandmother, Mary Magdalene Pierce, was told through my grandmother that my great-grandmother's surname was Henry. So, prior to the 1900 census, I've looked for a Fannie Henry that matched the description of great-grandmom but to no avail. No one in our branch ever questioned this and always thought that was what the other branches of the family were told.

Second Surname

I met my second cousin Deborah about 10 years ago, shortly after I had moved back home to North Carolina from Colorado. Seeing as I'm a firm believer in the ancestral guidance in doing this research, perhaps the ancestors brought us together for a reason. Deborah is a grandchild of my great-aunt, Ossie Pierce, grandmom's baby sister. Deborah had also been researching the Pierce family's history and we had both gotten to the same point but couldn't get any further. Every so often we would ask each other about our research but I think even though we kept looking, we had both given up on finding out anything else. You would think somewhere during this time the surname oddity would have come up but it didn't until this year.

This year, through Deborah, I've come to know one of my younger cousins Nicholas (great-great grandchild of great-aunt Ossie Pierce), who contacted me to find out more about the family. I didn't pick up on it when he said Fannie's surname was White, didn't pick up on it again when he questioned me inputting Henry into my tree on Ancestry (had been on Ancestry for awhile but hadn't put my info in until Nicholas contacted me). It's only been within the past month that I fully took notice about this difference in surnames. It came about when I started searching death certificates of other ancestors not in my direct line. Great-aunt Evelina Pierce's, grandmom's older sister, death certificate listed Fannie's surname as White (information submitted by her husband Jim Jackson). Interesting!

After making this discovery I double checked my own grandmother's death certificate, surname listed was Henry. What's strange about this is that after great-grandmom remarried, aunt Ossie, who was 9 when my great granddad died, moved in with my grandparents and grandmom and granddad finished rearing her, so logically, you would think the sisters would have handed down the same surname but they didn't.

What I've been able to confirm

This past week, through the, marriage index for Walton County, GA,, I've been able to determine that at the time my great grandparents got married, my great-grandmother's surname was White. The index indicates that a Cornelius Pierce (colored) and Frances (Fannie is a variation of Frances) White (colored) married on 10 Aug. 1889. The 1889 date confirms years of marriage that was given in the 1910 census.

The Henry surname

From information I've been able to gather, I believe that my great-grandmother more than likely had a marriage prior to her marriage to my great-grandfather.

Evidence that points toward a possible prior marriage
  • Both the 1900 and 1910 census indicate great grandmom had other living children that never appeared to have resided with my great-grandparents (they weren't listed with them on either census).
  • My grandmother knew of an older half-sibling, Mattie, whose surname was Henry or Henyard (more on that in my next post).
  • The marriage between my great-grandparents occurred when they were in their mid-twenties. In today's world that wouldn't phase me but in the late 1800's when most marriages occurred by the time you were 20, it does seem a bit odd. (By the way I also think this was great-granddad's second marriage, too, but more on that later.)
When I hopefully go on my research trip later this year, I hope to be able to obtain a copy of my great-grandparents marriage license. If it's anything like my grandparents, there probably won't be a any additional information outside of what's on the index but I can hope that there is some small tidbit of information to point me in the right direction.
Until next time.

1 comment:

  1. When I first began my research, my 2 Great Aunts gave me the wrong surname for my Ancestors & like you, I got nowhere. It wasn't until my cousin Elbert gave me the TRUE surname of "Wingfield" that I made progress.

    In my GGG Grandmother's case, she'd married my Grandfather first - James Wingfield & when he was killed, she married Joe Dorsey.

    She had 2 surnames depending on the time period.

    I agree, I think the same may have been the case for your Fannie.

    Happy Hunting!:-)



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