Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trying to Build a Case - Bit by Bit

I received Uncle Roy "JD" Pierce's SS Application today. All I can say is that right now, the "White" Surname is wining out for ggrandmom Fannie. My grandmother and the Martin cousins appear to be the outliers. Does that make their knowledge wrong, I don't think so but it does raise a lot of questions.

  1. Based on the documentation I've assembled to date, why is my grandmother the only one of her full bloodied siblings that handed down a different surname? Did my grandmother know something that the rest of her siblings didn't? There does appear to be one thing that she knew that no one else seem to know (at least no one else handed it down), her older half-sister Mattie.
  2. Another peculiarity noted on Roy Pierce's SSN Application is that on the SS Application, Uncle JD states that he was born in Monroe, Walton, GA. However, his WWI Draft card says he was born in Watkinsville, as did his brothers. Oconee and Walton county are neighbors. Uncle JD applied for his SS card in 1940, 23 years after his WWI draft card.
  3. Lastly, I noted that the SSN application says corrected application. Would appreciate comments and insight into what that could mean.

For now, until I can find something to document the other surnames, I will concentrate on White since that is the only one that I can actually document. By the way, I'm still waiting to receive a copy of the marriage certificate for Cornelius and Fannie. I'm really not expecting it to reveal a lot (my grandparent's just had their names and the date of marriage).

So I make this decision with the surname but it feels like it doesn't help because I don't know anything about Fannie's family. There is a Fannie White, age 2, listed on the 1870 census in Walton County. This could be her but without having a clue as to her other family members, I'm just guessing. And for some reason it just doesn't feel like her (but that could just be me). There has never been a mention of any relatives on Fannie's side of the family. I am still waiting on the death certificate of my grandmother's cousin, Claude Durden to see if that can shed any light on the mysterious one.

So Luckie, Felicia, Allum, Sandra and all my fellow genealogist, where should I go from here? Should I wait until I hopefully receive all the other items requested (Aunt Effie's death certificate, cousin Claude's death certificate, the ggrandparent's marriage certificate, etc.) Do I continue to look in Walton county?



  1. I apologize if you have already addressed some of these in your research. A couple of suggestions (and questions):

    1) Do you have death certificates and SS applications for your grandmother and ALL of her siblings?

    2) For death certificates, investigate the informants of each one. Who were they? Did any of them provide info on more than one of the certificates? Did any of the informants have first-hand knowledge?

    3) Also, have you obtained SS apps for anyone not listed in the SSDI? SS numbers also appear on many death certificates and some military service files.

    4) Do marriage records provide parents' names in Georgia, like they do in some other states? If so, get marriage records for your grandparents & all of her siblings - esp. if any were married more than once.

    5) Have you checked for birth records? (Not sure when Georgia started recording births.) But don't forget delayed birth certificates - many people recorded these in the 1930s so they would qualify for SS benefits.

    6) Check for obituaries for all siblings.

    7) (This one is obvious.) Check for all federal census records for grandmother & siblings, with her parents. Were there any families living nearby (within a few pages before & after) bearing the same surnames as those provided for your grandmother's mother in any of the other sources?

    Once all of these are done, you should be able to come to some preliminary conclusion, and other clues may come out...

  2. Mavis,

    I'm coming to the discussion late so forgive me if I offer suggestions you've already considered in prevous posts.

    The first element of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is that you must conduct a reasonably exhaustive search. So I think you have got to look everywhere that you've found a clue, and follow-up on all leads even the remote ones. The Fannie White you found in the 1870 census needs to be ruled out as a possibility. Since you don't know anything about Fannie's family you don't want to rule this out before some further investigation. When you compile your findings you can note you found this Fannie White in 1870, researched that family, and can rule her out as a possibile candidate for your Fannie White because of x y z reasons. The answer may be in one of the documents you're waiting for or it may not. Either way you've got to look at every possibility before ruling it out.

    Regarding Uncle JD, I like to think that our ancestors memories were better in earlier documents than later ones, but you never know. Why would he say he was born in Monroe, Walton on the SSN app, but in Watkinsville in the earlier WW I draft card? Maybe there's a clue there to something else you haven't thought of yet. Or, maybe it's just wrong.

  3. Hey Mavis!
    Love to chime're on the right track. Analyze and weight each piece of evidence using the 3 gen analysis elements:
    1) Original or Secondary Source?
    2) Primary or Secondary Information?
    3) Direct or Indirect Evidence?

    Charting each piece of data on paper and assigning a "weight" helps me deconflict data. Correlating it all is important, as obviously any on source can have wrong data. The SS5 and WW1 info is confusing, because its primary information...but I'd weight the earlier doc a little higher. I will say, I've seen lots of spouses get maiden names wrong on death certs..think abut it, how many people, esp if their parents-in-law have been married awhile, know their mother-in-law's maiden name?

    Also, the key for you I think is cluster, cluster cluster research. Chart and follow their neighbors. Who witnessed the marriages? Who witnessed the deeds? I cannot tell you how many walls I've crashed when I expanded my focus to the others around them. You definitely want to follow Cornelius' first marriage...order that cert.

    Example: was searching for the slaveowner of one Arden Hyman. Found him on 1880 census, married with kids. Marriage register provided date & no more info--actual marriage records for that timeframe not extant.
    By 1910 Arden's wife had died and he remarried.Looked up his 2nd marriage record (wife NOT our ancestor)and this timeframe of marriage records listed parents for each...found out Arden's father's name was Zion (a slave) and knowing that, we found the slaveowner!

    Good luck and keep us posted ! Remember, the correlation of various pieces of indirect information can often paint a picture that won't be found in any individual piece of data. Keep on building that case....


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