This weekend I spent a good bit of time going back over what I already knew of Sidney and her family, including not only reading the census records I’ve collected, but also transcribing them into my Evernote notebook.
I’ve taken a bit of a different approach with this search after reading Val Greenwood’s book, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, mentioned in my last post. Val suggests that when searching for any records, to look for the surname of interest and log all the records found.
This is new concept to me, and one that proved to be a little more confounding that I originally anticipated in today’s world of online searching. My normal search on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org, for example, generally consists of adding as much known detail to the search fields as possible to find the most likely records relating to my ancestor. It’s HARD to break that habit, I’m here to tell you! The results, however, have amazed me, even with just this one ancestor.
I started with JUST the census records for the time frame that Sidney M Wall was alive, 1857 – 1930. Luckily for me, she lived her entire life in the confines of two counties in Arkansas, so I focused my search there. Instead of searching for her with the information that I had already collected, I just searched for WALL* (note the asterisk; I’ll explain in a moment). I didn’t put any dates, just searching in Izard and Searcy Counties, Arkansas. I started with the most recent census where I knew she was alive, 1930, and looked for surnames that are similar and sound alike. Since I used the asterisk after the name, the search included names that started with WALL but had additional characters, such as WALLS and WALLACE.
My results were vast, to say the least. There are some results that I feel are most definitely not of relation to my research subject, but I added them to my Evernote notebook anyway and transcribed the census records. As a result of my searches I was able to find Sidney and her sons in the 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 US Censuses. As a result of just the census studies, this is what I know of Sidney’s family now.
James “Jim” WALL and Sidney M WALL were married sometime before 1880, most likely in either Izard or Searcy counties in Arkansas. They lived in Calf Creek in Searcy County in 1880 and at that point had four children. Alonzo (Lonzo) born about 1873, Nora born about 1875, Henry (Henry Luscious) born about 1877 and (William) Columbus, who was six months old as of the census date.
Since the 1890 Census was mostly destroyed (and I didn’t find them in the 1890 fragment) the next time they were enumerated was in 1900. By this time, they had moved from Calf Creek ninety miles northeast to Franklin Township in Izard County. Jim had passed away at some point in the last twenty years and Sidney was now listed as widowed, raising her children alone. Nora was no longer living at home, and three more boys had been born to her and Jim. Thomas Masco, born in August 1880 (which means she was big pregnant in the 1880 census!), Sidney Green, born April 1885 and James Tealous, born May 1885. This leads me to believe that Jim actually died between August 1884 and 1900.
One thing to note about censuses and other historical documentation is demonstrated here. James Tealous is my husbands direct ancestor. We’ve done quite a bit of research on him and two discrepancies have been found just on this census. One, he is listed as James A, however all other records show his middle names as Tealous. Two, his Draft registration card lists his birthdate as May 15,1885, but this census record shows him being born July 1885. Why the differences? Possibly he lied about his age on his Draft registration, the informant at the census was incorrect, or there was just a misprint on either document. This just goes to show how important it is to compile ALL sources and compare their information.
Moving on, later years find Sidney living with her son Sidney Green for the remainder of her life. He never married or had children, which seems strange to me given that those generations were generally very prolific. It begs the question of whether his lack of family was intentional and his mother lived with him for convenience, or if something happened to her that required that he give up his chance at a personal life to take care of her.
This has been an extremely long post, and if you’re still reading, I really appreciate it. I have much more to do to paint the picture of Sidney’s life, but these few censuses has provided a stable backbone on which to base the remaining records searches for her.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to digging into more records next time!