Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Mother’s Line


Sometimes, after a rush of serendipitous finds on the genealogy research trail, it’s time to take a breather and straighten up the database. I don’t know about you, but leaving loose ends like blanks where parents’ names belong for so-and-so who married my ancestors simply won’t do. I need to tie up those details and put them in their proper place. Even if I can’t rightly say the name of Mary Chevis Davis’ husband, at least I can explain who he was son of.

At least, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with, as I wander up this inviting rabbit trail in pursuit of the man Chevis married. Mr. Kite—or Kyte—did, after all, leave an open door of invitation, as far as further inquiries go, by splitting up with his wife and moving back home with his mom.

Armed with his mother’s name, approximate age, and place of birth, what would you expect an inquiring genealogist to do?

And so, the chase is on!

I looked first for a death certificate for Maggie, the mother of Chevis’ ex-husband, Luther Kyte. After all, when we last saw her in the 1940 census, she had already reached the age of seventy two.

As it turns out, it wasn’t long after that census was recorded that Maggie Kyte met her end—you notice, in keeping with the unexplained family surname spelling change that descended upon us with the 1940 census, that Maggie was now listed as Kyte and not Kite, as had been recorded in years prior to that time—and fortunately, there is a copy of her death record online.

The 1943 document showed the date of her passing as October 21, in Carter County, Tennessee—the same place as was listed in the 1940 census. Unfortunately, the record shows she was divorced at the time of her passing, so no husband’s name was entered. I still feel fairly confident of our discovery yesterday of a husband named either James R. or J. Robert, and will tuck that little detail away for further investigation.

What does get added to the record here are Maggie’s own parents’ names. According to her death record, her father was listed in the Southern style—initials only—as J. F. Simmons. Initials or not, I’ll take that: it reveals Maggie’s maiden name, which will help. Her father came from a place called Craig, Virginia—the same place where Maggie, herself, was born, agreeing conveniently with the 1940 census record.

Armed with the knowledge of Maggie’s maiden name, I next turned to the task of locating her marriage record to Mr. Kyte—or Kite, attached to either James or Robert for a given name.

Of course, nothing is ever so simple. There was a Maggie Simmons in the marriage records for Carter County, Tennessee. But she was marrying a man by the name of William Campbell.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that you can change Kite to Kyte, but it would be quite a feat to convince any researcher of the possibility of converting Kyte to Campbell.

Hitting that unexpected roadblock, I hoped against hope that something akin to Chevis Davis’ own experience might have happened to Maggie: remarrying after an untimely death of a young husband.

Checking again, it did turn out there was a marriage for a James R. Kite to a Maggie Campbell. Of course, this should really be subjected to further scrutiny—after all, there may be more than one James Kite or Maggie Campbell up in those northeastern Tennessee hills—but this is a rabbit trail, after all, not just to see whether it would be possible to connect the Carter County dots in this way, but to verify that Maggie, wife of James Robert Kite, was daughter of J. F. Simmons.

Why? Because I have something to show you about that specific J. F. Simmons.

Tomorrow.

6 comments:

  1. I've always found remarriages/divorces to be hard on the genealogist! That is far worse than the "only uses initials syndrome"!

    My mom's family has a lot of maggys/margarets in it too.

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    1. I love those websites that show the popularity ranking of given names for specific years. Names I wouldn't have ever considered giving a child were all the rage in some bygone periods of previous centuries.

      Margaret, though, seems to be a keeper, no matter what the age.

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  2. I rather like almost any kind of progress, even when it's inch by inch, even when it taxes my brain cells.

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  3. That's a lot of detective work, Jacqi. I can't wait to see what you found!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It wasn't much. It was more about relieving that pent up frustration over a lot of disagreeing records.

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