Using Siblings to find a Great Grandfather
In the early years of researching my ancestors, I
researched the direct lineage, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and
second great grandparents. Researching these
direct line ancestors went along smoothly on certain families, then I hit a
difficult problem on a paternal great grandfather Joseph “Joe” Eley. There were
no records in which I could use to connect him to his son, Jackson Lawrence
Eley. What do I do when that happens? I could lay this family line aside and choose
another familial line. Change the approach and look at other branches of that
generation, the siblings of the grandfather and great grandfather is another
approach. But to start researching the ancestors’ siblings I have to know their
names; of which I didn’t know given names in my grandfather’s family or any
other information about the Eley family. Ruby my sister ten years older than me
knew the names of Granddaddy Eley’s father Joe and mother. Eliza Jane. That is
all the information she knew. So, I made a trip to visit Aunt Gladys, daddy’s
sister, his last living sibling, to get names of Granddaddy’s parents, the
children’s names, and any other tidbit of information she would share with me. The
little bit of information Aunt Gladys gave me helped in researching the Eley
family. That trip was almost a waste of time; however, she did remember
visiting an uncle in Rayville. After much prodding she gave me his name.
She said he was Uncle Robert Lawrence Eley, her daddy’s
brother. Robert Lawrence lived in Rayville, Richland Parish, and his wife was
Doshie. Granddaddy Eley took Granny and
the children to visit the uncle when they were growing up. With the name and location,
I made a trip to the local library and courthouse in Rayville. I began
researching a Robert Lawrence Eley in Rayville, Richland Parish and found him I
found the local newspaper at the library, and in the newspaper was an obituary
for Robert Lawrence Eley. This obituary had his birth date, place of birth,
approximately when he moved to Louisiana, his marriage information, and the
name of his youngest surviving sibling Mrs. Ellen Adams from Barton, Arkansas. He
was “a sincere and unselfish person” according to his obituary.
I found a guardianship papers at the courthouse where
Josiah Eley petitioned the court May 28, 1870 for custody of the Eley children
– Robert Lawrence and Melina. Malina would be Melanie Ellen Eley. Apparently
the youngest child Lucy died since she isn’t found living with the family after
1860. There was a marriage record for Josiah Eley and Eliza Jane Green with A.
L. Anderson signing the marriage bond as a surety. Ruby had also told me that
Daddy had cousins who were Andersons living in Kilbourne. Granddaddy Eley’s
parents were named on his and Granny’s marriage record. I analyzed all this
information, and I determined this to be the correct Eley family.
Then I began looking for great grandfather Josiah,
Joseph, or Joe Eley born about 1844 in Mississippi, and a wife named Eliza
Jane. There on the 1870 Ward 6, Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana census
with a family was Josiah Eley age twenty-six, birth place was Mississippi, wife
Marry age twenty, William age one, and Robert Lawrence Eley thirteen, birth
place Arkansas. Things were fitting
together now. Robert Lawrence Senior is missing and he wasn’t found living in
that area in 1870. What happened to him? Did he move to another location in
1870, serve in the military, or even end up in jail? This is the end of the
road for this Eley (Ealy). Now what do I do? I kept researching and found
Joseph (Joe) on the 1880 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana census with another
wife named Eliza J., a seven-month old child, Pamelia, and Robert Lawrence age
twenty, Joe’s brother. The census showed their father was born in Georgia. After
careful analysis I determined this to be the father of Jackson Lawrence Eley. So,
I continued researching for a father for Joe Eley.
Later I found an Eley family living in Drew County,
Arkansas that matched information that I had collected on this family. The Drew
County, Arkansas 1860 Census there is the Robert Lawrence Ealey, Josiah (Joe),
Frances A. Sarah J. M. E. (Melanie), Robert Lawrence, and Lucy Ealey children.
The mother is missing on the census and isn’t on any censuses after the 1860
census. I found her on the 1860 Mortality Schedule for Veasy, Drew County,
Arkansas. She was thirty-six years old when she died and possibly she died when
the last child Lucy was born.
The next record that I found that would match the
information that I had on this family was the 1850 census. On this census was a
Robert Lawrence age thirty-four born in Georgia living in Drew County, Arkansas
with a wife Martha age twenty-seven, Josiah (Joe) age six and born in
Mississippi, Francis A., and a Harris A. Fruman. There is a land record where
Robert Lawrence purchased eighty acres of land in 1 Jul 1857 of which was a
Learning about Robert Lawrence the Junior, and finding
him living with Josiah, led to further research of the family. Had I not talked
too Ruby and asked her about the Eley family, I wouldn’t have the names of the great
grandparents. Those names were better than not having anything on the Eley
family. Also, if I had not made a visit to Aunt Gladys’ seeking information
about the Eley family the research would have been impossible since I didn’t
have any names of Granddaddy Eley’s siblings.
As I was researching the 1870 census I looked for
Robert Lawrence (Senior). He possibly moved with Joe to Morehouse Parish. Possibly
the father is living with his son and his family. Robert Lawrence was widowed
so maybe he moved with his son. Even if Joseph does not have his father living in
the household, I checked the neighbors.
The siblings might also be living near each other,
down the street or a couple blocks over. This is where I did have to
carefully look at each name because of misspellings. For female ancestors
I examine the given names because they may be married with a different surname.
Once I located a possibility, I made note of everything found, age, place of
birth, who else was in a household, occupation, place of births of parents, and
so on so I can investigate it further. I am using all of this information to
see if it fits together with the already collected records and information.
I began my research with very little information on
the paternal and maternal lines. There were no family photos. There were no
family Bibles passed down to me. There were a couple of family stories
circulating in the family for a few years. Who belongs on my family tree has
generally been quite narrow. I researched direct ancestors for several years
excluding their children. I felt that I just didn’t have the time to focus on
the children, aunts, uncles, and nieces and nephews.
There are a few tips that I used to find this second
great grandfather. First, I took all the records and information for the Robert
Lawrence family and carefully analyzed each making sure that I recorded all
vital information from each record such as estimated birth years, places of
birth, names and spelling variations, occupations, and whose missing from the
census. I looked for any naming patterns. Robert Lawrence had a son named
Robert Lawrence, and Joe gave his son the middle name of Lawrence. Jackson
Lawrence named his youngest son Robert Lawrence.
After looking through the records for Robert Lawrence
Eley (Ealey) and not finding him, I put aside my research of this family for a
time. Finally, after an absence of about five years I picked up my research
again and looked through Civil War records and found both father and son.
Robert Lawrence mustered in the Confederate Army and served in the Arkansas
Infantry, Company B, 23rd Regiment for the Confederate side of the Civil War.
He also was a casualty of that War on 4 Oct 1862 in the Battle of Corinth. He
left behind minor children, and Joe being the oldest child was left to care for
the children. Joseph, however, served on the Confederate side of the War. He
was to serve for three years to October 31, 1863. He enlisted August 25, 1862 and served in the
34th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry. His record shows that he deserted on May 15,
1862. He was a young man eighteen years old.
Doing all of this took time and patience in trying
every possible angle that I could imagine. I left no record unturned instead checked
everything, everyplace and everyone, especially those siblings. I have
found great success with that approach.
The Eley’s came seeking greater opportunities. They
came from Tippah, Mississippi to Drew County, Arkansas after the 1841 state
census was taken. Drew County, Arkansas looked like a promising region for a
young man who is just starting a family. Drew County is located in the southeast
region of Arkansas, and was formed November 26, 1846. The county is located on
the edge of the Arkansas Delta and had rich fertile soil, rivers, and all the
resources the early settlers were looking for to provide a better life for
their families. ■
|Esters Eley on right with his oldest son Buddy and his youngest sister Gladys.|