Mattie Gardner: she didn’t die in a car accident

Mattie Mae GARDNER was the last of the seven children born to John GARDNER (1854-1935) and Ella GRANT GARDNER (1864-1918). Mattie was born 17 May 1899 in South Carolina.South Carolina_public domain





Mattie was also the sister of Walker Gardner and Bennie Gardner, and the aunt of Baxter Gardner, all of whom I’ve written about in the past few weeks.

Mattie’s mother, Ella, was the sister of my 2nd great-grandfather, D. B. Grant. This makes Mattie my 1st cousin, thrice removed.

Early life

In 1900, Mattie’s father worked as a railroad contractor. The family lived on Lytteton Street in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Mattie’s working siblings worked at a cotton mill.

In 1910, the family lived on King Street in Buffalo, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Father John was a house carpenter now. Ten-year old Mattie attended school. Her brother, Walker, worked as a laborer for a blacksmith.

1915 Ford Model T public domain

1915 Ford Model T, a typical car of the day

When Mattie was 17, she was in a car accident. She was mistakenly reported in The State as having died in the accident. A retraction appeared the following day in the newspaper.

Mattie marries

Farmer with two cows public domain

Farming was hard work in those days

In mid-1918, Mattie married James Joseph (J.J.) LEWIS, a older widowed farmer from Darlington County, South Carolina. J.J. and his first wife, Jennie, had five children together. Jennie died a month after the last one was born, and that child died at ten months of age from severe malnutrition.

In April 1919, Mattie and J.J. had their first child together, Fulton. In 1920, the family lived in Epworth, Darlington County. J.J. was farming, and Mattie was taking care of the home and the children. Ella Mae was born to Mattie and J.J. in April 1921.

Mattie had her hands full being a farmer’s wife and the mother of six children, the oldest one being 15 years old.

Mattie gets sick

In August 1922, Mattie was sent to the tuberculosis camp in Richland County, South Carolina.

Who knows how long she’d been sick before she went. She died there on 21 September 1922. Tuberculosis was the largest killer of young people in South Carolina in the 1920’s. A whopping 29% of young deaths resulted from T.B. according to

Tuberculosis sanitorium in NY public domain

A TB sanitorium in NY, similar to the ones in SC from what I’ve read



Mattie was 23 years old when she died. She left behind two little children who would never know her plus her husband who was now twice widowed and the father of six children.

Mattie is buried at Mt. Elon Cemetery in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina, along with her parents and three of her siblings.

The story doesn’t end there, though

Mattie’s widower, J.J., died on 31 March 1923 just 6 months after Mattie. His death certificate says he died of natural causes, but doesn’t say what exactly he died from. From the way it’s worded, I think officials may have suspected suicide which was ruled out. J.J. is buried alongside his first wife, Jennie.

What happened to all those kids, you ask…

I don’t know about J.J. and Jennie’s kids, but I can tell you that Fulton and Ella, Mattie’s children, were taken in by Mattie’s sister, Bessie GARDNER OUTLAW and her husband, James.

Fulton and Ella both grew up, married, and had children. Fulton served during WW2, as did Ella’s husband. Fulton and Ella both passed away after the turn of the new century, leaving behind children, grandchildren and great-grands, too.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved


Walker Gardner: WW1 veteran and young father

Henry Walker GARDNER was born in March 1895 in South Carolina. He was the sixth of seven children born to John GARDNER (1854-1935) and Ella GRANT GARDNER (1864-1918). Walker, as he was called, was also the brother of Bennie Gardner and the uncle of Baxter Gardner, both of whom I’ve written about in the past few weeks.South Carolina_public domain

Walker’s mother, Ella, was the sister of my 2nd great-grandfather, D. B. Grant. This makes Walker my 1st cousin, thrice removed.

Early life

In 1900, Walker’s father worked as a railroad contractor. The family lived on Lytteton Street in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Walker’s working siblings worked at a cotton mill.Blacksmith2_public domain

In 1910, the family lived on King Street in Buffalo, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Father John was a house carpenter now. Fifteen-year old Walker worked as a laborer for a blacksmith. According to the census, Walker could read and write.



Walker, the soldier

In the trenches_public domain

WW1 soldiers in the trenches

Walker was a private in the National Guard of South Carolina. In 1917, Walker’s regiment was called up for the Great War. His regiment became part of the 118th Infantry which had soldiers from Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The 118th was assigned to the 30th Division which was called “Old Hickory” being named after President Andrew Jackson.

The division went to France to fight alongside British forces on the northern end of the Western Front. According to The Old Hickory Association website, “The Division served with distinction during the Great War most notably by breaking through the Hindenberg line and fighting in the battles of Le Selle, Ypres, St. Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne.”


Walker starts a family

Walker was discharged on April 1st, 1919, and he returned to South Carolina. I couldn’t find him in the 1920 census, but I do know he married Julia Mae McDONALD (1903-1985) on 12 January 1921.Woodworking Lathe_public domain





Their son, John Edwin Gardner, was born nine months later on 11 Oct 1921. The family lived in Bishopville, Lee County, South Carolina. Walker was a carpenter. Walker was 26, and Julia was 18.


Walker takes sick

In the spring of 1922, Walker became ill. A lumbar puncture was performed, and he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis. An effective antibiotic had not been discovered or developed yet, and Walker lived for six weeks before succumbing to the meningitis infection on 2 April 1922. His son, John, was not yet six months old.

Walker is buried at Mt. Elon Cemetery in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina, along with his parents and three of his siblings.

Julia married again in 1925 to Thomas BOYD. Thomas and Julia raised John along with three children Thomas and Julia had together.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

Baxter Gardner: struck by lightning

Baxter Tillman GARDNER was the son of Bennie GARDNER (1888-1920) and Jessie PATRICK GARDNER BYRD (1892-1967). Baxter was the middle child of their three children. Baxter is my 2nd cousin, twice remove and related to me through my Grant line.

Baxter was born 20 December 1914 in South Carolina, likely Chesterfield or Marlboro County.

Baxter’s father

In 1920, six-year old Baxter and his family lived in Alligator, Chesterfield County, South Carolina. His father, Bennie, worked for the railroad. Later in 1920, Bennie died. You can read about it here.Train public domain

Baxter’s mother

I couldn’t find Baxter or his siblings in the 1930 census or where they lived during the 1920’s. I believe, though, that I found Baxter’s mother, Jessie, living in North Carolina with a new husband, King Edward BYRD. This Jessie had two young children with King.

The reason I believe this is Baxter’s mother is because on Baxter’s death certificate, his mother’s maiden name is listed as Jessie Patrick. The informant was a John Gardner of Cheraw who was likely Baxter’s uncle or grandfather. It makes sense that either of them would have known Jessie’s correct maiden name.

I researched from the point of view that Jessie’s maiden name was Patrick instead of Byrd, Byrd being what other researchers claimed. Enough facts matched up that I can say I believe Patrick was Jessie’s maiden name and she married King Byrd after Bennie died. I need to do more research, though. And I still don’t know why she left her children behind when she married King Byrd.Farm-1

Baxter’s early adult life

In 1930, Baxter’s brother, Clyde would have been 17 and likely working on a farm somewhere. He died in 2008, so he was just missed in the 1930 census. I believe the same is true for Baxter, who was 16 in 1930. I don’t know about their sister, Jessie. I can’t find anything past 1920 for her.

In 1933, 19-year old Baxter worked at the Evegett (Everett) place near Smithville, Marlboro County, South Carolina as a farm laborer. Smithville was near present-day Brightsville in Marlboro County.Lightning public domain

A summer storm

On July 1, 1933 a thunderstorm came up in the early afternoon. Baxter and another farm worker, Rob McDOUGALL, took refuge in a barn.

According the The State newspaper, lightning struck the barn and destroyed it. Rob was seriously injured. Baxter was killed.

This was another tragic loss for the Gardner family in just a few years. There are more to be written about still.

Baxter is buried at Mt. Elon Cemetery in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina along with his father and grandparents.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

Bennie Gardner: if only he’d lived a few more years

Benjamin Lucas GARDNER was born 12 November 1888 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. He was the sixth of seven children born to John GARDNER (1854-1935) and Ella GRANT GARDNER (1864-1918). Ella was the sister of my 2nd great-grandfather, D.B. Grant (1846-1900), which makes Bennie my 1st cousin thrice removed.Cotton mill photo

Working early in life

In 1900, Bennie’s family lived in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina. Father John worked on the railroad. Bennie, age 12, worked at the cotton mill. He appeared to be done with school, and he could read and write.

Bennie married Jessie BYRD in 1909 when he was 21. In 1910, Bennie and Jessie lived in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina. Bennie worked as a carpenter on his own account.

Bennie and Jessie start their family

Clyde and Baxter, Bennie and Jessie’s sons, were born in 1913 and 1914, respectively. Daughter Jessie was born in 1919.Train coach cars

Working for the railroad

Bennie registered for the draft in 1917. He and his family lived in Lydia, Darlington County, South Carolina. Bennie worked as a railroad master. Bennie was of medium height and build. He has brown eyes and dark hair, which isn’t surprising since his mother was at least half Native American.

An illness with no cure

Also in 1917, Bennie was diagnosed with diabetes using the Fehling’s sugar test. Bennie would have been put on a nearly starvation diet which was used to extend the life of the diabetic patient in hopes of a cure being discovered before the patient died.

Most likely, Bennie had type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the islet cells of the pancreas quit making insulin over a period of a few years. In type 2, the more common and well-known form of diabetes, the body makes insulin but doesn’t use it properly. Some people with type 2, though, need insulin injections like those with type. Go here to learn more about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Moved back to Chesterfield County

The 1920 census for Chesterfield County, South Carolina was completed in January of that year. Bennie and family now lived in Alligator in Chesterfield County. Bennie, now 32, was a track foreman for the railroad. Jessie took care of the house and home.

Diabetes wins

Insulin and syringes

photo by Sriram Bbala. Click on photo for link to photograph on

On 20 October 1920, Bennie passed due to his diabetes. Bennie likely slipped into a coma because his body no longer made insulin and was unable to process the sugar in his blood. Bennie lingered for three days before passing.

If Bennie had only lived a few more years, he would have been able to have insulin injections to save his life. In the fall of 1922, Eli Lilly and Company had a major breakthrough and was able to produce mass quantities of insulin, this extending and saving many lives.

Bennie is buried at Mount Elon Cemetery in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina. His parents and two of his siblings are buried there, too. Bennie has an ornate gravestone from Woodmen of the World insurance company which was available to their members.

I don’t know if Jessie remarried, but it wouldn’t be surprising. Another path to follow as I continue with family research.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

Walter Peavy: gone in middle age

Doubly related to me

Walter L. PEAVY is my first cousin twice removed, and he is related to me through my maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather.

Walter’s mother, Arzetta MARTIN PEAVY (1873-1957) was a sister of my great-grandfather, Adolphus Burdine MARTIN (1867-1917). Walter’s father, Mallie PEAVY (1850-1932) was the grandson of Malachi GRANT, who was likely the father or uncle of my 3rd great-grandfather, Jeremiah GRANT.

Early life

Walter was born in South Carolina, probably in Marlboro County, on 29 Dec 1897. In the 1900 census, Mallie’s occupation is minister and butcher. They lived in Bennettsville in Marlboro County.

In 1910, when Walter is 13, the family lived in Red Bluff, also in Marlboro County. Walter attended school, while his older siblings and father worked at a cotton mill.Cotton mill photo

In 1920, Walter worked in a cotton mill along with his father and mother and all his siblings of working age. Walter had eight siblings. At this time the family lived at 97 Sloane Street in Clinton, Laurens County, South Carolina.

Walter leaves home

Walter married Ollie Mae SNEAD (1904-1993) in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1924. Caswell County is north of Burlington, North Carolina near the VA/NC border. Walter was likely working in a cotton mill at this time.

Come 1930, Walter and Ollie and three of their four daughters lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia which is west of Danville, Virginia. Walter was a painter now. Daughter number four arrived soon a few years later, and the family lived in several homes in Danville until 1939. Walter purchased a home at 188 Clement Ave in Danville. Click HERE to see the housePaint brush and paint can

Successful businessman

Walter was one of the only four painting contractors in Danville in 1939. He probably had a thriving business. He and his family were church goers, attending the Church of God first and then the Third Avenue Christian Church later.

Life was good for Walter and his family. Walter worked, the girls attended school, and Ollie kept house.

Walter takes sick

In the mid-1940’s Walter became ill with Hodgkin’s disease. At that time radiation was the treatment for Hodgkin’s. Did Walter have radiation therapy? I don’t know.

On 14 June 1947, Walter died at the Memorial Hospital in Danville from Hodgkin’s disease. He was a young 49 years old. His four girls were your adults, none married yet. And Ollie was in her mid-40’s. Walter was buried at Highland Burial Park in Danville, Virginia.

Ollie stayed in Danville for the rest of her life and never remarried. The girls eventually married and had families of their own.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

Florrie Thomas Martin – tenant farmer’s wife

The month’s Genealogy Blog Party topic is Which of your ancestors deserves to sit on the Iron Throne?

Florrie Jane Thomas Martin Closeup

Florrie as a young mother.

My grandma, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN does. My grandma was mentally tough and determined, and she used those traits as a tenant farmer’s wife during the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.

Florrie was born in 1894 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. She married my grandfather, Daniel MARTIN, in June 1914 in Richland County.

Daniel was a farmer, as was his father and grandfather before him. For generations Daniel’s family farmed the same land, a parcel of the large expanse taken by the U.S. Government in the 1910’s for Fort Jackson.

Once the many families were moved off that land, there wasn’t enough farmland or work for all the displaced people. Some were forced to move on; Daniel and Florrie were one of those families.

Where Dan and Florrie Martin lived after SC-1 cropped for a blog post

a portion of the list of where Daniel and Florrie lived in Florrie’s hand

In 1923, Daniel and Florrie packed up their few belongings, and their five children, and headed for Winchester, Virginia where Daniel had secured a position as a tenant farmer. Daniel and Florrie had never lived away from their families before, but they trusted God that they would be okay anyway.

Over the next 20 years (1923-1943), Daniel and Florrie and family lived in 13 places. Often times Daniel was not only tenant farming himself but also overseeing the other farm workers. Florrie fed all the farmhands along with her own family which swelled to eight children by 1930.

My mom said my grandma worked hard, harder than anyone she’d ever known. Florrie cooked all the meals on her own until the oldest girls were able to help.


Daniel and Florrie worked at an apple orchard for a time. Many family from SC would come to help at harvest.

Sometimes family would come up from South Carolina to help at harvest time. Florrie would feed all of them, too. My mom said at times there were 25 or more people to be fed at each meal.

Some of the houses Daniel and Florrie lived in were good, sometimes not. My mother remembered her mother sitting on the porch steps of one house, crying because there was no electricity or running water.

But after having a good cry about it, Florrie just went on and did what had to be done, adding lantern cleaning and wick trimming and water pumping to her list.Lantern

Florrie made and mended and washed their clothes. She saw to it that the children all went to school. She had been a schoolteacher before marrying, and education was important to her.

The two oldest sons dropped out of high school to help on the farm. Within a few years Florrie had them back in school, and they both graduated.

Florrie burned fields, grew and canned food, save her dog’s life by doing mouth-to-mouth (a story for another day), and kept the oldest sons in line when their hormones got the best of them.Snake

One swampy placed they lived had snakes hanging from the trees near the house. Florrie took a shotgun and shot them all, sometimes hitting two at a time there were so many of them. She was not afraid to do what needed to be done.

And yet with all this, Florrie managed a personal life, too. Florrie was devoted to her faith, attending church regularly and praying and teaching Christian values to her children by how she herself lived.

Florrie Jane Thomas Martin

The Florrie I knew growing up.

Florrie wrote letters to everyone in the family it seemed. She took their concerns into her prayer time. Family members have told me that if Florrie said she’d pray for them, they knew she meant it.

When I think of strong women, I think of my grandma…and my mother. My mother was mentally strong and determined, too.

People say I am, also. It came through the genes, no doubt. But it also came through seeing it in action in my mom and grandma, and hearing the stories of their lives as a tenant farming family.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

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Vera Lee – victim of gunplay

Vera LEE was the oldest child of Tom LEE (1882-1929) and Dora BRAZELL LEE (1890-1976). Vera was born in 1906 in Richland County, South Carolina. She is my third cousin, once removed.

Vera’s father, Tom, was farmer. In 1910, the family lived in the Center Township of Richland County. A Lee family lived next door, likely  a relative of Tom’s.

Vera probably attended school at the proper time, and she was probably her mother’s helper with her siblings that followed. I don’t know much more about Vera except for her passing.

On 30 January 1919, 12-year old Vera ‘was playing around her home when Roy and Arthur MEDLIN came up after going rabbit hunting’. This is according to the State newspaper.shotgun

Ten-year old Roy said playfully that he was going to shoot Vera. Vera replied that if he did, she would tell her mama. The gun went off, and Vera fell to the ground. ‘A load of No. 7 shot tore away the top of her head,’ according to the newspaper.

Roy and Arthur ran from the scene. An inquest was held three days later, and the jury concluded that Vera had died by a gunshot wound inflicted by Roy. The sheriff took charge of Roy. The newspaper said ‘the tragedy cast a gloom over the community.’

How sad for the Lee and Medlin families. Roy probably went to school with Vera. Maybe church, too. He would carry the guilt from this accident the rest of his life. Vera’s parents would suffer the recurring pain of losing a child.

It also makes the story of Tom’s murder richer (read about it here). I understand more why Dora and Sudie Mae (Tom and Dora’s daughter) listened at the kitchen door to Tom and Ernest’s conversation, knowing Ernest had a gun with him.

There is no record of where Vera is buried, but I expect it is somewhere in Richland County, near Pontiac where the family lived in 1919.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

Bobby Hyser – another drowning

Robert Ray HYSER, called Bobby, was the son of Harry HYSER (1850-1905) and Susan SHRINER HYSER (1857-1932).  Bobby was born 24 June 1889 in Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas. His parents moved to Kansas from Maryland long before he was born. Bobby was the youngest of five children, and I wrote about his brother, Stearn, previously.

Bobby’s grandfather, Lewis Hyser, and my 2nd great-grandfather, Daniel Christopher Heiser, were brothers. This makes Bobby my 2nd cousin, twice removed.

Bobby’s father was a painter and was successful at it. In 1910, Harry owned his house free and clear. Bobby was 11, and he attended school. According to the census, Bobby could read and write.

At 14, Bobby was a carrier for the Wellington Daily News. He was ‘a very bright and active lad’ according to the newspaper article about his passing.Quarry swimming hole

On 6 July 1903, Bobby and four other boys were in Slate creek below the dam. It was mid-afternoon and probably rather hot. Bobby didn’t know how to swim, and according to the newspaper Bobby ‘thought the water was not over his head and was wading around with the other boys. While walking around he stepped off into water too deep for him, and went under.’

Bobby grabbed two of his friends, Claude WILLIAMS and Arthur SCHWINN, pulling them down with him. They got free and tried to keep him from drowning but were unable to do so. ‘He came up a time or two then sank out of sight.’ His body was removed from the water about an hour later, and ‘all efforts to resuscitate him proved futile.’

Bobby was laid to rest at Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Wellington where his parents were laid to rest when they passed.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

The murder of Tom Lee

Henry Thomas (Tom) LEE was born 14 August 1882 to Hosie LEE (1848-1936) and Mary Jane BRAZELL LEE (1849-?). He was the oldest of their six children.

Tom’s maternal grandmother, Rachael FUTRELL BRAZELL was the sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Margaret FUTRELL MARTIN.  This makes Tom my 2nd cousin twice removed.

Tom moves from his father’s house

Rural Ohio Farm

a random farm, not Tom’s farm

Hosie LEE was a farmer, and Tom followed in his footsteps. I don’t know much about Tom’s young life since I can’t find him in the census and other records, but I do know that he could not read or write. This was recorded in the census records I could find.

Tom married Dora BRAZELL (1890-1976) around 1900. Their first child, Vera, was born in 1906. They went on to have 10 children.

I know Tom and Dora lived and farmed on Old Camden Road about ten miles from Columbia in Richland County, South Carolina. Their second child, Gladys, married Ernest GOFF around 1925.

Gladys returns home

On 12 March 1929, Gladys had returned to her father’s home because ‘she was not satisfied living in the community where she did, about eight miles farther on the Old Camden Road,’ according to The State newspaper. She ‘did not like to live with his people.’ Gladys also said there had been no dispute had arisen when she left. Ernest came to Tom’s home twice that week to speak to Gladys, but the content of the conversations was not given.

Ernest comes to visit

Pistol 2 from flickr_must attribute

click on photo for photographer info.

On the evening of 14 March 1929, Ernest came to the house about 9:20 p.m. to talk to Gladys.  Tom and Dora’s 15-yeard old daughter, Sudie Mae, answered the door and ‘saw a pistol in his overcoat pocket.’  Gladys had gone to a store four miles distant, in company with her sister and Lonnie Peek, a young man of that neighborhood.’  Upon hearing this, Ernest insisted on talking to Tom, who had to be called out of bed.

Ernest accuses Tom of interfering 

Tom and Ernest went to the side porch to sit and talk. Dora and Sudie Mae listened from the kitchen door. Ernest accused Tom of ‘writing letters in an attempt to part Goff and his wife.’  Tom denied he’d written the letters saying he couldn’t read or write or even sign his name.

Dora reported later that ‘the two men were talking in ordinary tones and neither seemed to be angry,’ according to The State. Ernest accused Tom of ‘writing letters in an attempt to part Goff and his wife.’  Tom denied he’d written the letters saying he couldn’t read or write or even sign his name.

The article in The State continues: ‘Goff said the he could prove that Lee had written the letter in question and that he “was going to have satisfaction” and that “I am either going to kill somebody or get killed.” ‘ Sudie said that Goff talked sassy to her father. (I loved her description!)

Tom told Ernest that he was treating him badly to come to his house and talk to him like that, and that he would make Ernest prove that he had the letter.

Ernest loses control

Dora turned for a moment to tell the children to hush, and while she was turned ‘three shots were fired in rapid succession.’ Tom ‘started walking to the door of the front room but fell after taking a few steps and Goff ran from the porch.’ Tom ‘said nothing about the affair except to exclaim of the pain which he was in.’ He died soon after.

The next day, Ernest surrendered to the county sheriff. He said he believed Tom was about to pull a gun on him, but no gun was found when Tom’s body was examined.  Three months later, Ernest was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of Tom Lee.

Tom is laid to rest

Tom was 48 when he was murdered. He left behind his wife, Dora, and nine of their ten children. I’ll write later about the child they’d already lost. Tom is buried at the Old Macedonia Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina.

Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved

The Thomas’ aren’t from Chesterfield County!?!

Started out strong

Florrie Jane Thomas Martin

My maternal grandmother, Florrie Thomas Martin

My maternal grandmother, Florrie Thomas Martin, supplied me with the names of her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. She even knew their birth and death dates. She was a wealth of information.

I knew Florrie was born in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, and that her mother, Maggie Grant Thomas, was from there. Florrie’s Aunt Sally (sister of Florrie’s father) and her family lived there, too.

Jeremiah Daniel and Margaret Ann Grant THOMAS

My great-grandparents, Dan and Maggie Thomas

Naturally, I concluded that Florrie’s father, Dan Thomas, was from there as well. Also, I knew that in their later years, Dan and Maggie lived in Chesterfield County which added to my belief they were all from Chesterfield County.

Put the Thomas family aside for awhile

For many years I concentrated on my own father’s family history since I lived close to where his people were from, so research was easier. This was before computers.

Still, when I did census research at the National Archives for my dad’s family, I pulled the census records for my Thomas people in South Carolina. I wondered why some of them were in Richland County, South Carolina, but put those questions aside as I worked on my dad’s family.

Many years later, I finally began working on my maternal line. My grandmother had passed, and her parents had passed long before I was ever born. But my mother’s first cousin, Agnes, knew a lot about the Thomas family. She had been raised in South Carolina, and she knew my great-grandparents, Dan and Maggie Thomas, and she knew Aunt Sallie and her children, too. My mom’s family had left South Carolina when my mom was about four, so she’d had limited contact with them all.

One mystery solved

One thing puzzled me  – why did Dan and his family leave Chesterfield County for Richland County when Dan was about 45 years old…what was the draw to take them there. I asked Agnes. Her reply… “Well, the Thomas’ were from Richland County. He moved back to be close to his family.”

Siblings Jeremiah Daniel Thomas, Sarah Ann Rebecca Thomas Grant, James Renatus Thomas 12Aug1933 in SC

Siblings Dan Thomas, Sallie Thomas Grant, and Ren Thomas in 1933

“The Thomas’ aren’t from Chesterfield County? But Aunt Sallie [Dan’s sister] lived in Chesterfield County. And if the Thomas’ weren’t from Chesterfield County, why did Sally and Dan go there?”

Turns out that Sallie married a man from Chesterfield County, Henry Grant, and moved there with him. (I have yet to discover how she met Henry to start with.) Henry died unexpectedly, and Dan left Richland County for Chesterfield County to help Sallie take care of her farm and her five young children.

Maggie Grant, Henry’s sister, caught the attention of Dan. They married less than a year later and started a family. Dan continued to farm Sallie’s land, and he was like a father to her children.

After living in Chesterfield County for many years, Dan and his family, including all their children except for their oldest son, moved to Richland County because Dan’s parents were aging and he was needed there.

When Dan and Maggie themselves got older, they moved back to Chesterfield County. One of Sallie’s sons, Jim T. Grant, built a little house for Dan and Maggie on his property. You can read about Jim T. and the house here.

Suddenly so much fell into place, like why I couldn’t find more Thomas’ in Chesterfield County or much of anything on these people except for some census records. The world of the Thomas’ opened up with this new found information. And I’ve been learning about the Thomas’ ever since.

Problem solved by…

I solved this problem by asking questions and taking notes. Whenever I speak to relatives, I have pen and paper nearby. You never know what tidbit will be said that becomes important later.Genealogy Blog Party Badge







Copyright © 2016  Nancy H. Vest   All Rights Reserved