Monday, December 16, 2013

Mystery Monday: What Happened to Hiram Pinkney Duck?

"Question Man" source

Sometimes a name or circumstance just keeps nagging for research.  That has been the case for me concerning Pinkney Duck.  You have to admit, he doesn't have a very common name, so he should be easy to research.  Think again.

I first stumbled upon Pinkney Duck when looking at the 1880 census records for Thomas and Hannah Nelson, residents of Fair Play, District 1028 of Cherokee County, Georgia.  It seems that Pinkney was living with the Nelsons as a boarder who worked on the farm when the census was enumerated on the 9th or 10th of Jun 1880.  Pinkney caught my attention because he was listed as having diphtheria.

A second check of census records showed Pinkney  as living with his mother, Jane Duck, in the Jerusalem District of Pickens County, Georgia in a 15 Jun 1880 enumeration.  Pinkney is listed as working on his mother's farm with no illness or disability mentioned in column 15.

Then I found Pinkney listed a third time on a 16 Jun 1880 census enumeration.  For the 16 Jun counting, Pinkney is still living with Thomas and Hannah Nelson although the residence is listed as District 1008 of Cherokee County, Georgia.  Two items caught my eye.  This time Pinkney is listed as a nephew, and his illness was recorded as typhoid fever on the day of the census visit.

I can see possible explanations for the three census entries.  The two Cherokee County entries can be the result of the Thomas Nelson family living on the border of two different militia districts, District 1028 and District 1008.  A number of people show up on both districts in the same order, so apparently they were counted as being in two different districts.  As for the listing with his mother in neighboring Pickens County, Georgia, Pinkney's time with the Nelson could have been a short term stay.  His mother could have considered him to still be a member of her family and just told the census enumerator about her son.  After all, people didn't have to be physically before the enumerator when the information was recorded.  This isn't the nagging question about Pinkney.

After 1880, what did happen to Hiram Pinkney Duck?  Did he die of diphtheria?  Was he in poor health due to typhoid fever?  Did he live a long, healthy, and productive life?  I have no idea.  That's my big question, especially since he might have been a relative (if he were Thomas and Hannah Nelson's nephew).

I first started the draft for this post about two months ago.  I felt certain that I could easily learn more about Pinkney due to his unusual name.  Even using variations of his name (Hiram / Hyram / Pinkney / Pickney / H P Duck) I have nothing more to add.  So far my research log shows only where I've looked and not found any additional information, including 

  • 1900 or later census records - no mention in any state
  • FindAGrave and BillionGraves - no mention
  • Cemetery registers found on USGenWeb sites for the state of Georgia, specifically the counties of Cherokee, Gordon, and Pickens - no mention
  • Military registers listing soldiers in the Spanish-American War - no mention
  • County Marriage Books as well as Death Certificates available online through the Georgia Archives
  • General searches on Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Mocavo
Maybe this post will someday be read by someone who does know more about Pinkney, and I'll get some answers.  Until then I feel like a child, playing hide and seek, calling out "Pinkney, come out, come out, wherever you are".

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