Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Unknown Sister

This year my great aunt, Mattie, became very important to me because I believe she holds the key to finding my great-grandmother Fannie prior to 1889, the year my great grandparents married. Yet she is even more a mystery than my great-grandmother.

Why is it that none of the other Pierce descendants seem to know about Mattie or her descendants except our branch?

I think I know part of the answer. My mother has always suspected that after her cousins moved north to Ohio that they were probably "passing" and acknowledging their "darker" kin that were still in Georgia / the South might have given them away, so there was very little contact. Even though that may be the case, our branch of the tree knew about them and had contact with them through the years with some coming to visit their aunt (my grandmother) and cousins in NC, my grandmother going to visit her nieces, and my mother and one of my aunts going for visits. My mom, although somewhat vaguely at this point, also remembers her aunt Ossie, grandmom's baby sister, visiting them, too.

What I know about Aunt Mattie?

  1. She was my grandmother's oldest sister. She was a half-sibling. Although my grandmother never passed along whether she was her dad's child or her mom's, what I've been able to piece together would lead me to believe she was great-grandmother Fannie's daughter.
  2. Based on the 1900 and 1910 census she never resided in the household of my great-grandparents.
  3. According to her children, my mother's first cousins, Mattie's surname before marriage was Henyard. Now I know this doesn't match Fannie's other surname of Henry but there is a certain similarity between the two names. Perhaps through the years there was a slight changing of the name.
  4. Mattie was born abt 1885 somewhere in Georgia and appears to have died sometime between 1918 and 1920 in Walton County, Georgia.
  5. She married Thomas "Tom" Martin sometime between 1900 and 1910. I've only been able to actually identify Mattie on the 1910 census after she and Tom have married. The 1920 census indicates Tom was a widow. Approximate date of Mattie's death was derived from the approximate date of birth of their last child (1920 census).
  6. The Martin family that she married into knows nothing about aunt Mattie either other than her name was Mattie.

Other tidbits of information

  1. On the 1910 census, there is a Sarah Robertson, age 70, living with Mattie and Tom's family. The 1910 census list her as Tom's daughter, which is impossible since Tom is 28 at the time.
  2. On the 1900 census there is a Sarah Robertson, age 56 and her niece, Mollie Hearnord is listed with her. I've been wondering if this Mollie could possible be Aunt Mattie and if it is who is Sarah Robertson. My mother doesn't remember ever hearing of a Sarah Robertson. The Martin family has no clue who she is. Is she another player in the mystery? If she is, how do I determine who she is and the connection?

Unfortunately, all of my great aunt Mattie's children are gone except one, her daughter Evelyn, who would be around 96. I talked to mom about trying to get in touch with Evelyn and mom said that cousin Evelyn wasn't doing too well and unfortunately with her being one of the younger of Aunt Mattie's children, she probably doesn't remember much of her mother before she died. Sometime between 1920 and 1930, aunt Mattie's older children rounded up all of their younger siblings and headed north to Ohio. The older ones looking after and completing the rearing of the younger ones.

I don't have a picture of Aunt Mattie, but do have pictures of some of her children. The picture at the beginning of this post shows 5 of her 8 children: Ovella , Evelyn , Harrison , Ruby Nell , and Irene.


  1. One thing I know for certain, you can't go off what people say other people know. I've heard that statement alot and I go ahead and contact the relative and they know ALOT! She may know somethings told to her by her siblings.

    we never had passing in our family. Most of the family is entirely to dark skinned to have passing.

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