Monday, March 18, 2019

Noticing Details

Getting wrapped up in the story of individual family members may seem tedious—or at best, too detail-oriented—but it provides a useful collection of facts which we sometimes find echoed in subsequent discoveries. Such was the case when I wondered about Louvenia, King Stockton's wife.

Louvenia died before her long-lived husband approached one hundred, but as for longevity, she didn't lag behind him very far. Born in 1832, her passing in 1925 put her at a respectable ninety-three before she died.

Remembering that King Stockton's biography had introduced Louvenia as a girl he had met in his early childhood, I knew her name had been listed in the book as Louvenia Ann Lewis. Still unable to figure out just who it was who wrote that booklet on King Stockton's life—the author's name, given as A. L. Lewis, failed to produce any results on Google besides references to Al Lewis, the actor who memorably played the Dracula look-alike "Grandpa" on The Munsters—it took longer than it should have for those identical surnames to slap me in the face. What if Louvenia Lewis was actually related to the Lewis who wrote her husband's biography?

There were other similarities which resulted in that same delayed response. I knew I had to get a look at a copy of the actual document of Louvenia's death record, and not just be satisfied with noting the year of her death from the Florida death index. Once again, hopping over from to did the trick—but in this case, it took scrolling through at least thirty images before I located the one which I was seeking.

Once I found her death certificate, it was obvious that whichever official completed the form had abysmal handwriting. In fact, Louvenia's name was so difficult to decipher that, had her husband's name not been entered, I would have doubted whether I found the right entry.

My main goal in locating this record was to see if Louvenia's parents' names could help me reconstruct her family tree. Remember, I was curious whether A. L. Lewis, the author, would turn out to be a close relative.

Building that Lewis tree was not in the offing for me—at least not immediately. My first discovery, from viewing the cert, was that Louvenia's father was not the one who was a Lewis, but her mother. The name given was—best I could decipher—Mulissia Lewis, whose enigmatic entry for place of birth might vaguely have resembled the abbreviation for Virginia.

It's true I could have attempted to build a tree for someone with a name similar to Melissa, but I got diverted from my original intention with the next piece of information: Louvenia's father's name. Once again, the handwriting hampered me so much from understanding what might have been reported. Best I could tell, the given name was something like Thadits. Thaddeus?

But don't let that hang us up too long. It's the next entry that got me wondering. Louvenia's father's surname was written much more clearly. It was Dean.

If you have been following this recounting of how I first discovered the identity of King Stockton, you'll recall one of the first places I found a mention of his name was in an academic journal discussing a former Florida judge by the name of James Dean.

Yes, you spotted it too, didn't you? Dean.

The article mentioned King Stockton as an early influence in the life of James Dean. It was easy to find the Stockton household and that of James Dean in his parents' home in the 1870 census, back in Wellborn in northern Florida. But the article had only led us to think the connection was solely because of King Stockton's role as a minister in their local church. I'm now wondering whether the relationship was not only because of a church relationship, but also because they were family. Any chance I could find out whether Louvenia's father was related to James Dean's father?

Of course, I still want to see whether the author of King Stockton's biography was a Lewis who was related to Louvenia. But now I also wonder about a thicker network of relationships with this additional layer of connection between Louvenia and the Dean family who lived only five households away from their residence back in 1870s Wellborn, Florida.  


  1. I am in awe of all your research!

    1. It's amazing how some of these details just fall into our laps!

  2. Layer by layer you are peeling back the story:)

    1. Yes, isn't it fascinating to find all the connections?!

  3. Can't wait to see the family tree for Al Lewis . . . ;)


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