In my previous research, I uncovered my Great-Great-Great Grandfather Richard T Smith's life from the time of his marriage to Rachel Garman in 1870 to the end of his life in 1920. But Richard had a number of children in his home before his marriage to Rachel. Who was his first wife, the mother of these children?
I looked for Richard in the 1860 census on Ancestry.com (old search), but was unable to locate him. I tried searching for Richard, Richard T, and R. T. Smith with no luck. I couldn't find any of the children's names either. I ended up doing a search for 'Smith' in Milton County, Georgia. I saw an R. L. Smith, five years younger than my Richard, which turned out to be him. Although none of the names or ages matched exactly, this was the family I was looking for. Here's a breakdown of the family in 1860, compared to 1870.
- 1860 = 1870, age difference
- R.L = Richard T, 5 years off
- Priscilla = Paulina, same age
- Lowery = Lucresy, 2 years off
- Dilmus = Dumas, 2 years off
- Arminda = Amanda, 2 years off
The children from this first marriage have proven harder to trace, thanks in part to the name and age variations. Also, my Great-Great Grandmother Louise did not seem to view her older half-siblings the same way she viewed her full siblings. There is no mention in her bible records of these children, which made me doubt my research at first. But I believe my research on Richard is correct: a farmer and mill worker with two wives and at least 14 children (likely more: in 1910 Rachel indicated she'd had 13 children with eight living).
But what about Richard's life before marriage? Who were his parents?
I know from his death certificate that his son, James Henry Smith, believed Richard's parents to be George Smith and Mary Lane of Georgia. I'm not sure when Richard and Eliza married, but their first known child was born in 1854. In the 1850 census, I had a chance of finding Richard with his parents or his spouse.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find Richard in the 1850 census. There was no Milton County in 1850. Looking at maps, it appears that DeKalb County sat there instead. I did find a Geo P and Mary living in Brownings, DeKalb who were a good fit to be Richard's parents, but Richard was not with them. I've searched the counties surrounding the area where Richard would appear in the 1860 census, but have so far come up cold. A search of the rest of the state didn't provide any likely results either. I even searched the 1850 census for Richard's neighbors from 1860, with no luck. I wish I knew the names of any siblings that Richard might have had, but so far have no proof of any.
For now, it looks like I've done everything I can with census records. But there are a lot of other resources out there. Next up, city directories.