Census Gaps & Hints
I’m dealing with mysteries, and wondering about what happened to make households suddenly recombine with three generations under one roof. Some of Mr. Williams’ ancestors that I’m researching are on his paternal line, three generations of Williams, beginning with Anderson Williams (1830) and Nellie Jones (1845), his son, Wyatt Williams (1857-1924) his wife, Easter Roden Williams (1858-1925), and their son, Fletcher Williams (1880-1940) and his wife, Mamie Averett Williams (1884).
Each generation has its own problems of documentation, yet the households continue despite events that precipitate their splitting and reconstitution. I may never find out, but that’s ok.
I’m mapping it out because it can shed light on the family clusters that come up in DNA matches and break down some of the brick walls while moving towards pre-1870 records. This gathering of additional records adds context and visibility for family histories over time.
Fletcher Williams & Mamie Averett Williams
Documents i’ve got so far:
- AL marriage certificate & databases
- 2- 1918 Draft Records for 2 different Fletcher Williams
- AL Death record for Fletcher Williams
- 1910 census
- 1900 census
One might think that since Fletcher Williams was born 50 years sooner than his grandfather in 1880, he would be easier to trace through the census. But.. the problem is finding him before the 1910 US Federal Census for Jefferson County, Alabama. One thing this census reveals is that both Fletcher and Mamie Williams were on their second marriage, but i’m getting ahead of myself.
Born in Marengo, Jefferson County, Alabama, Fletcher Williams (1880-1940) crossed state boundaries several times over the course of his lifetime, moving from Alabama to Georgia and back again. After 1900, he lived in the small rural area of Jernigan, Russell County, Alabama, and on 13 March 1910, he married Mamie Averett (b. 1884) in McLendon, Russell County, Alabama. The census notes the recent marriage as: 1/12 months.
He’s 25, she’s 23 and there is no one else in the household– yet this is the second marriage for both and neither had children. No earlier marriage record turns up for either person. He’s listed as Black and she Mulatto on the census, which may just mean Mamie was lighter than Fletcher, and both got plenty of sun as farm laborers working Alabama’s Black Belt during a time of Jim Crow.
Working forward to 1917-1918, I found no record for this Fletcher Williams, possibly because he had a family by then. Looking up the relatives listed on the two 1918 draft cards showed that while they were born very close in time, they weren’t the same person.
Next Steps… a challenge and more questions
The next challenge was simple, to see if I could find Fletcher Williams, about age 15 on the 1900 census. This would take the family back another generation, and build out a timeline that pushes back to another state. His parents are living further west, in Forkland, Greene County, Alabama.
Fletcher Williams appears on the 1900 census, but not in Alabama — instead he’s in Georgia, in the household of Robert & Dinah Sipp as one of four Williams stepchildren. But look at the map above– these families lived near the border between Alabama and Georgia, facilitating their move across state lines.
The name of the oldest stepdaughter is transcribed ‘Exie’ Williams, age 30 living in the next house. Enumerators leave us so many ‘surprising’ examples of handwriting. I have yet to find more on her, and wonder what other first names – Susie, perhaps?- this could be.
This leaves us with the following question: Why did Robert Sipp take in four stepchildren by 1900? What is his relationship to them?
In my next post i’ll try to find answers to those questions and to… Who was Dinah Sipp?