One of the perks of writing a blog is that it forces you to think through things, recheck your records, reevaluate you assumptions. Every once in awhile a new idea comes from it. In this case my last post Other People’s Research made me think of something more to try to find. Worcester County, Maryland has some awesome records on familysearch.org. I found a record that proves conclusively that Mary (Martin) Richardson is NOT the mother of Dolly Schoolfield.
I realized that while I had the Will for John Richardson, that lists Mary as his wife and all his children, I had not bothered to look for the inventory for his estate.
I just found it. It is in Worcester County, Maryland Inventory Book J.W. 9 pages 2-3. I feel like this image should come with a big neon arrow like they have in the cartoons pointing to it.
Dolly was born 25 Feb 1759. This record shows that as of 3 Jun 1762, Mary Richardson was still a widow, and had not yet married John Schoolfield!
Autosomal DNA testing is such a miracle. How did people do genealogy before this technology was introduced? You know what else is a miracle? Ancestry message boards. Well, genealogy message boards in general. Third miracle? The Family History Library. Well, the Mormon church with all their dedication to preserving our heritage on microfilm. It’s like the holy trinity of ancestor worship.
Too much? I effuse about all three things coming out of Utah right now. I would not have gotten as far as I have with tracking down the ancestors of my James Henry Myers without all three of these capabilities. Bored of him yet? I wouldn’t blame you if you were, but honestly, this story just keeps getting better and better, and promises to get even better. I’m having too much fun right now.
Quick refresher from previous posts: DNA results led me to the father of James Henry Myers: Jacob Myers. Ancestry Discovery and FHL digital marriage image led me to a possible biological parent for Jacob Myers (James’ father) in John Naylor. FHL digital search gave me the marriage record for Jacob to Amarilla Cox.
One of the problems with breaking down one brick wall is that there is another brick wall right behind it. Never thought in a million years I might figure out who were the parents of Amarilla Cox. On paper, I may have found them.
Let me see if I can adequately recap the timeline of how this progress came about. I performed a Google search for Emarilier Cox, the name on the marriage record. I discovered a message board post asking for information from her descendants. Lucky for me the individual who posted it is still a member of Ancestry, so I was able to send a message to her; we began corresponding. She has a wealth of information about Jacob Myers. I learned from her that he, and subsequently his ‘widow’ had a Civil War pension file, which I ordered. My first reading from it didn’t give much new information since I’m not descended from his last wife, but it does present me with the ability to create a timeline of where he was and when from 1850 until his death in 1888. This is valuable for many reasons, primarily because he’s so difficult to pin down in Census records, and there might be another Jacob Myers in Putnam county around the same time. She also told me about a record where Jacob had transferred ownership of some land to Amarilla Cox after they married.
Meanwhile I requested the index to court records for Putnam County from Family Search. Armed with case and page numbers from the index, I ordered the reel with the first two volumes of court records and read through the references. The index showed me a tantalizing Myers v. Myers file that I was eager to learn more about. My thought was that it might have been a divorce record for his first wife Elizabeth Minick. Imagine my surprise when I found that he had initiated divorce proceedings against Amarilla! He married Amarilla on 18 May 1856. What do I find for 18 Oct 1856?
The cad. The birth month and year I have for James Henry Myers is May 1857. Uh. Hmmm. Anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Was this a shotgun wedding? Was James conveniently told he was born in 1857 rather than 1856? Luckily the index gave a case number for this petition. I called the Putnam County Circuit Court this week and learned this file still exists! I’m excited to learn what, if anything, might have been said about Amarilla when the copy is received. (On a side note: the woman who helped me with this is super nice.) I do know from these records and the clerk that the divorce was not granted.
I haven’t captured an image of it yet, but on that same reel is a reference to another case where Jacob was indicted for Felonious Assualt with Intent to Kill! I suspect that is going to be another post all by itself. I’m on pins and needles waiting for the copy of that file! Key in the record was mention of a witness named Martha Cox. It doesn’t take much to guess how little time transpired between me getting home from the Family History Center and searching the 1860 Census for Martha Cox2.
I love my life. This thing is so tantalizing and has so many possibilities. James H. Cox aged 5. None of the people who have saved this image to their Cox lines have a clue who that is, or the set of two-year-old twins on the page. I can’t stop myself from speculating that James H. Cox is really James H. Myers, and that he is living with his grandparents. If James really was born in 1856, then he would have just turned four when this census was taken. If he really was three, this is a stretch, but not unheard of if the informant was John Cox. A forty-seven-year-old male not knowing how old his grandchildren are is hardly news.
Enter the Message Board Miracle, part deux. Back in 2001, a message was posted asking for descendants of John T. Cox from the 1860’s. Other people might remember when Heritage Quest had superior transcriptions for census records before Ancestry ruined it. Back then I could have found this record myself. Bless this person’s heart for transcribing this to make it so I could find it now, because Ancestry’s transcription of it is way off.
John T. Cox 35 KY (the initial is actually an ‘S’)
Martha Cox 35 KY
Lucrecy C. Cox 15 KY
Winey A. Cox 13 KY
Lucinda P. Cox 10 KY
Leann E. Cox 6 KY
Jeremiah Cox 4 KY
These are significant names. That same Missouri marriage database that gave me the Cox-Myers marriage record also has the three other girls on this census: Lucinda married Richard Summers. They are living next door to Margaret and John in the 1860 Census. Lucretia married F.P. Ashlock; Leann E married Solomon Wisman. Amarilla married Jacob Myers…all of them took place in the 1850’s in Putnam County. Is Amarilla that Winey A. Cox? The age is plausible; the proximity to the other Cox girls is supportive. James’ 1900 Census record reports that his mother was born in Kentucky. I’m prepared for this to fall apart. Not for the first time with this family. I will probably have to wait to see if a descendant from one of these other children gives me a DNA match I need for proof, but I’m hopeful that I’ve made some serious progress on this family thanks to some 14-15 year-old message board posts, FHL and Ancestry DNA.
1 Court records v. A-B 1855-1867 Putnam County, FHL Film # 1010790
Continuing on the work from my previous post where I try to use the DNA results I’d been given to help me solve my James Myers problem, I have an interesting update.
I got bored and frustrated with trying to make that Ancestor Discovery work in my family, so I pursued a different angle. I went back to that 3rd cousin match for the Myers line to see what more I could learn about it.
First a quick back story. Not long ago my uncle sent me a packet of pictures and newspaper clippings he thought I’d be interested in. I remember seeing a family tree he showed me a few years ago that mentioned that James Myers’ mother might have been a Cox. And he told me that James’ second daughter was named Amarilla after either James’ mother or grandmother. In this packet he sent was a piece of stationery from a Regal 8 Inn in Flagstaff, Arizona. On the back was a hand-written family tree of sorts. The best part was this:
That was the whole extent of what was known about James’ family.
So I went looking for documentation for the line of that 3rd cousin match. Using census records I had what I believed was the great-great grandmother of the 3rd cousin: Matilda Corporan. A ‘hint’ led me to a possible husband for her: Jacob Myers. I wanted to see if I could prove this relationship, so I went to Ancestry.com and searched the Missouri Marriages, 1805-2002. Nothing matched. Then I remembered what Crista Cowan is always saying about these databases: Read the description! It might be that the database doesn’t cover the locale needed. The description didn’t indicate what counties it covered because there is a drop down menu that shows the counties.
Putnam county is conspicuous in its absence from that list. I could have searched all day in that database and never found it because that county isn’t included. Good to know. So I Googled Putnam County Marriages and of course the first result was Family Search. (Which by the way is an easy way to bypass the filtering system in the search function on Family Search–Google takes you right to the correct database.) I searched the Family Search Missouri Marriage records for Jacob Myers to see if this marriage to Matilda Corporon was there and got this:
There she is at the bottom of the page. Ahh, but look what was staring me in the face–a record I never thought I’d find–Jacob Myers and Emariler Cox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Insert Hallelujah Chorus here.)
Emariler is Amarilla written phonetically as pronounced by someone who says words ending with an ‘a’ that sound like an ‘r’. That’s the other thing Crista Cowan stresses: think about how the people in that time and region would pronounce a name. It’s always so much fun to find something I’ve been looking for for a very long time when I wasn’t actually looking for it. That’s the best kind of dumb luck. (Honestly, I’ve had so many false starts on this family I was reluctant to believe my good fortune at first.)
By my reckoning Amarilla was Jacob’s 2nd wife of four. Jacob was Matilda’s 2nd husband of three.
What does this do to my Ancestor Discoveries? Well I found a reference that states that Jacob is indeed the son of Daniel1; and Daniel at one point lived in the same county as Collins family (previous post). Now that Amarilla Cox is no longer a pipe dream, but a real person, it would appear that the Ancestor Discovery couple is even more difficult to shoehorn into this family. I’m not going to rule them out because DNA has proven helpful in the past, and there are still all those cousins to consider. Anything I do now would be pure speculation, which I’m not opposed to, but I’m not seeing the benefit of indulging that line of thinking at the moment. They might hold the key to the identity of Amarilla Cox for all I know. That would be good because at the moment I’m clueless where to even begin documenting this woman.
The real star in this show is family lore. For all the times I’ve disproved family lore over the years, it was nice to find a record that validates a story handed down through the generations. So welcome to the family Amarilla Cox. I hope I can learn more about you, and that you don’t just disappear into the dust of time.
1Adair, Sullivan, Putnam and Schuyler Counties, Missouri (p. 426). (1888). Chicago, Illinois: The Goodspeed Publishing Company.