August theme: Help
[Note: I have found more info, and am adding edits within brackets.]
(Week 35 is a “free space” later this month. I’m doing it early. My blog – I get to make – or break – the rules.)
I’m writing this seeking help from fellow genealogists. I want to make sure I’m not making leaps here. I am dealing with such common names as David Smith and Mary Smith….
I am researching a family for a friend. There was something of a mystery concerning one ancestor, and I think I’ve solved it. But I need another pair of eyes (or two, or twelve…)
David Beall Smith was born 22 Jul 1868. His death certificate says he was born in Georgia, but all the censuses say he was born in Texas. I believe Texas is correct. His death certificate also names his parents as David Smith and Julia Beall. [Found his marriage license, which names his parents as David Smith and Mary Beall, and gives his place of birth as El Paso, Texas.]
Father David Smith was a dentist. He was born 8 Dec 1848 in Valdosta, Lowndes Co, GA. He married widow Jennie Crozier Day in 1875 (David Beall Smith was about six at the time.) He died 27 May 1894 (and is buried at “my” Oakland cemetery.) His obituary identifies David Beall Smith as his son “by his first marriage” but does not name the wife. It also states that he lived in Texas for a few years after finishing Dental School.
I found two marriage indexes for David Smith in Marion, TX for 15 Jan 1867. One identifies the bride as H. M. Beall, and the other says M. H. Beall. [The license says M. H. Beall, and the certificate says H. M. Beall. Both were done 15 Jun 1867, and were recorded on 21 Jun. Interestingly, the minister who performed the wedding was named H. M. Mathis – and I think he reversed her initials when recording it because that was the way he was used to writing them.]
Given David Beall Smith’s middle name, the mother listed on the death certificate, and this marriage record, I feel confident that his mother’s maiden name was Beall.
Father David was the son of Owen Smith and Jemima Mathis. [So far, I think it is just coincidence that the minister who signed David and Mary’s marriage certificate was also named Mathis.] On Jemima’s findagrave memorial is a listing of her children (taken from a book that I am trying to get a copy of), which includes David, born 1848, who married “Mollie Beagle” of Griffin, GA. (Griffin is in Spalding Co.)
I think Beagle may be a poor transcription or understanding of Beall. Mollie fits with the H. M. / M. H. initials, and is a likely nickname for Mary.
I found a Mary H. Beall on the 1850 (surname transcribed as Bell) and 1860 censuses in Spalding Co, GA. She is the daughter of Josiah and Martha Beall, and was born about 1848 – same year as David Smith.
The problem, though, is that all the ancestry suggestions then pointed me to Mary H. Skelton. Her death certificate identifies her as the daughter of Josiah and Martha Beall, and wife of William L. Skelton.
This threw me for a hot minute, because I had assumed that M. H. Beall had died in Texas prior to 1875, and figured I had the wrong person. But two girls the same age, in the right county, with matching initials and surname…?
I searched for William’s marriage record, and learned that he married “Mrs. Mary H. Smith” in 1890!
I further learned that his first wife was Ida Johnson Beall – sister of Mary. William and Ida are living in Mississippi in 1880. The next listing includes Mollie Smith (right age, born in GA). Her entry is checked in the “widowed / divorced” column.
I cannot find David, Mary, or David Beall in any 1870 census. David Beall is living with his father and stepmother in 1880.
Later censuses of Mary and William Skelton state that Mary had zero children. Her obituary lists a daughter, but it is actually William and Ida’s daughter, born 1881, and Mary’s niece / step-daughter.
My conclusion is that David and Mary married in 1867 in Texas (how and why they were in Texas is not clear, as both were born in GA.) They had a son a little over a year later. Sometime between his birth and 1875, they divorced. David returned to GA. Mary went to live near her sister in MS. After Ida’s death, William and Mary both returned to GA where they married a few years later. It seems that Mary did not acknowledge her son. Did her husband know? [Given that Mary used the Smith surname prior to her second marriage, her family certainly knew of her marriage to David. William and Ida did not marry until 1874, so William may not have known about Mary’s child. On the other hand, everyone ended up living in Atlanta, so perhaps they did.]
I have no idea where the name Julia came from – but info for the death certificate was given by David Beall’s son, and if there was no contact, he may not have known. (Mary did have a sister named Julia, but that may be a coincidence.)
The names are common. There are a couple facts that don’t fit (such as Mary having zero children, and the name on the death certificate being Julia). I want this to be true, and solved, but maybe I am guilty of wishful thinking. Do my explanations of these make sense, or am I reaching?