Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tuesday's Tips

Finding My Ancestor Who Didn’t Leave a Paper 


How do you find information about an ancestor? You interview family members and ask the right questions. What if there are no family members to ask? Then you go to online records, newspapers, look for records in the courthouse, look for church records, and analyze census records gleaning – every nugget of information about a person. Next, you research the family unit. These are techniques that I have used since those family members who could be interviewed and questioned are now deceased.

While researching matrilineal Coon ancestors for the last fifteen years, one very important lesson learned is there hasn’t been a large trail of records leading to them. Very little is known about the Coon maternal line ancestors. Having seen maternal grandfather Clifton Columbus Coon only once very little is known of him, his siblings, or his parents; therefore, I have begun researching Clifton’s siblings. Clifton was one of seven children of Edward Zachariah Thomas Coon and Jane Ann Mason Coon. Their stories need to be shared so others may get insight into the Coon families’ lives.

Most of the Coon ancestors have census entries. Usually on all available censuses during their lifetime. The Lincoln County courthouse burned on the 19 November 1893. Reasons for the lack of records could be: Burned courthouses may be a reason for the lack of records; mysterious people, possibly; private people, maybe; farmers and they just didn’t leave a paper trail – more likely the reason. Very few Coon ancestors left wills, probate, church, marriage, Bible, journals, stories, or land records. Those ancestors lead interesting lives, were hard workers, and have stories to tell. Even though, there is a shortage of records gleaning all the information from census records is vital in telling the story of each individual Coon ancestor. That is exactly what was achieved in telling the story of Cephus Coon.

Cephus (Sephus) Coon is an ancestor that very little is known of him and he was almost forgotten. Cephus is the sixth child born to Jane Ann Mason Coon and Edward Zachariah Thomas Coon in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, Mississippi. These two hard working farmers were the proud parents of two daughters and five sons. Martha Sophrona was the oldest known child of the couple. Sarah Caroline was the other daughter. Then there were the five sons: Berkley Martin, Harris C., Clifton Columbus, Cephus, and Edward.

When one looks at the names of these children one can only wonder how Jane Ann and EZT chose the children’s names. Were they family names? Possibly Jane Ann named them after her family members. This information isn’t known since there is little information about her Mason family. Maybe there were Coon cousins, aunts, or uncles that were special to them. Clues to family relationships may be found by analyzing naming patterns within a family. Look at the middle name of an ancestor and look for people with that name as a surname within the family circle or community.

The only record found online for Cephus Coon was the 1900 District 92, Beat 1, Lincoln County, Mississippi census. Cephus is single, living with his father Edward ZT Coon, step-mother H. Colferna, brothers C. Harris and Edward, and step-sister H. Nancy Coward (whom C. Harris later married). The 1890 census would have given information for Cephus; however, that census was not available because it was destroyed. Cephus hasn’t been found on the 1910 census; but , the search continues for him since his headstone shows his death date 1911. What was the cause of Cephus’ death at the young age of twenty-eight? Was he killed? Did he become ill and die suddenly? Those are questions that will go unanswered unless more records are found or there is a connection to a Coon living relative.

The 1900 census shows that Cephus (Sephus) was born September 1882, seventeen years old, a farm laborer, can read, write, and speaks English. That is all that could be gleaned from the census and is known of grand uncle Cephus Coon. One other record found was a marriage record J. C. Coon and Rosie Ward marriage date 19 December 1905 in Lincoln County, Mississippi. Could this be Cephus? Possibly, but a trip to the Lincoln County courthouse is needed to look for the marriage record to prove or disprove this marriage to be of Cephus Coon. Per Ancestry trees this is J. Cephus; however, work to prove this information is ongoing.

Sephus Coon died at the age of twenty-eight in 1911. Sephus is buried in the Union Baptist Church Cemetery in Lincoln County, Mississippi.

What was the cause of death? Research continues on Sephus (Cephus) Coon.

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