04 January 2011

Are You My Smiths? (Pt 1)

     Like most every other genealogist, I have Smiths in my family tree. Here's how I've traced my Smith family so far.


     My grandmama told me that my Great-Great Grandmother was born Louise Smith and was married to Leverett Waters. Their children were Ruby, Ethel, Alma, Ruth, LC, Milton and Jack. I was easily able to find this couple in the 1910 - 1930 censuses, living with their children in a different location each time. 

     But what about Louise's parents - the Smiths - who were they? I wasn't able to find a trace of Leverett Waters in the 1900 census and hoped that Louise was living with her parents at the time. She was born in 1881, so the 1900 census would be the only census for her to appear with her parents.

     My grandmama knew Louise's death date and place, so I started my research by requesting her death certificate. It listed her father as J. Richard Smith and her mother as "Don't Know." Next up: her obituary. Aside from her children, others listed in her obituary were Millard Waters (known to be her brother-in-law), Charles Smith, Aaron Smith, M. Smith, and Mary Hollis. Could these people be her siblings? I knew that in order to be able to say with 100% certainty that a particular Smith family was the correct one, I would need to utilize collateral line research.

     I started searching the 1900 census for Louise, paired up with names from her obituary. In the Atlanta, Georgia there was a Louiza N Smith of the correct age with a brother named Aaron and a father named Richard T. Could this be her? It looked good, but I really didn't have any concrete proof that this was the family I was looking for.

     Luckily for me, I had a happy dance moment in my research: my grandmother had Louise's family bible. On the New Testament introduction page, there was a list of names: Will, Mary, James, Aaron, Louise, Albert and Clarence. The family believed that this was a list of Louise's siblings. I was able to find Aaron, Albert and Clarence listed in the bible and the Deathsages certainly lined up for these to be siblings. Going back to the possible 1900 census listing, I found that this list supported the record that I had found, which showed these names as the children of Richard T and Rachel Smith.

     With this family now defined, I was able to find Richard and Rachel together in the 1910 Rockdale County census and Richard as a widower in 1920 Rockdale County Census. I was able to confirm that these were my GGG-Grandparents since they consistently appeared with their children.

     Next I wanted to find information on Richard and Rachel's death. In the bible, I had a record of "R. T. Smith - Died Oct 24, 1920," which was probably Richard. I confirmed that this was a Richard from the Georgia Deaths Index on Ancestry.com and ordered a copy of his death certificate. Richard's death certificate indicated that his parents were George Smith and Mary Lane of Georgia. He was listed as having been buried in Milstead, the town where he last appeared in a census. Some research on the town of Milstead showed that this had been a mill village, complete with cemetery. Sure enough, graves for Richard, Rachel and son, Albert, were found in the Milstead community cemetery.  The gravestone provided information on Rachel's death, which I had been unable to find. Unfortunately, she died a few years before death certificates were required in Georgia.

Having created a brief sketch of the Smith family from the time of Louise's childhood on, now I would start to locate the Richard and Rachel Smith on records prior to 1900.


Greta Koehl said...

Good detective work! I'm hoping I have some of those "aha" moments with my Smiths.

Ruby Craft said...

Great find! I can't wait for Part II.


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