Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Follow That Trail of Crumbs

Atlanta Constitution, 19 Jun 1899
source: fold3.com

It all started the other day when I treated myself to a year's subscription to fold3.com.  I immediately was searching for information about the Perkinson family when I discovered there were also a number of nonmilitary documents available through fold3.com.  Expecting to find only service records, I found this announcement of the upcoming wedding of my aunt, Leila Perkinson, the sister of my grandfather, Oscar Dean Perkinson, Sr.

I had to print the article and read every word because it was full of family information.  For starters, Leila's wedding took place just a month before Leila and Oscar's widowed mother married Willis A McAfee.  There she was, planning her daughter's wedding and probably thinking of her own upcoming nuptials at the same time.  It was interesting to also see the connections mentioned to noted Baptist ministers, specifically my 2GGrandfather, William Hiram Dean.  It also mentioned the Rev. Sam Dean, a name I continue to run across but have not yet found the definite connection to other Deans in my family tree.  Now clarifying that connection with Sam Dean has been added to my To-Do-List

The announcement of wedding plans also provided some background information on the young couple.   Leila had graduated from Shorter Female College, today known as Shorter University, my alma mater.  Although her husband had died before I was born, I had always heard that he worked on the railroad.  Now I know that Uncle Ed Stephens was with the Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern Railroad.

The names of the wedding party were also included in the article, several of whom were familiar names.  I recognized an uncle, Howard Perkinson, as well as my grandfather Oscar Perkinson.  The maid of honor, however was someone new to me, Miss Emma Nichols of Edgewood, a cousin.  She would also have been a cousin of my grandfather and a relative of mine, so I wanted to know who she was.

My first step was looking at my family tree in Family Tree Maker.  Cousin Emma would have to have been a sister either of Leila's mother (Luella Dean) or Leila's father (William Howard Perkinson), a sister who had married a Mr. Nichols.  I have been focusing on the Perkinson family long enough to initially eliminate the possibility that Emma came from that side of the family.  Looking closer at the Dean side, I saw that Luella Dean's mother was Emma Lee Benson, possibly the source of Emma's name.  When I scrolled through information on Emma Lee Benson's family, I saw that she had two sisters, Sarah Anne Benson, and Abby Jane Benson. Perhaps Sarah or Abby could be the mother of "Miss Emma Nichols of Edgewood".

But where was Edgewood?  Placesnamed.com showed an Edgewood, Georgia, just east of Atlanta.  Other Edgewoods were further away from Woodstock, Georgia and might not be Emma's home.

Since Leila's wedding took place in 1899, I looked at the 1900 census for Edgewood, De Kalb, Georgia, in hopes that Emma might be single and still living at home with her parents.  Some days, things actually fall into place.  I searched for any Nichols living in Edgewood, De Kalb, Georgia, with a child named Emma and quickly found a census record for Emma and her family, first try.(1)  Emma's mother was listed as Sallie Nickols and her father as David Nickols.  I have come across enough Sarah / Sally / Sallie names for the same individual that I felt this might be the family of Cousin Emma.  A check of the 1880 census for this same family listed them as David and Sarah A Nichols along with the names of daughters Emma and Minnie and son William.(2)

My next stop was the Georgia Virtual Vault to look for marriage and death records pertaining to this family.  My general search for records on David Nichols lead to a death certificate for a Minnie Nichols and another piece of the puzzle.  There was Minnie of an age corresponding to ages found in the 1880 and 1900 census records (check mark).  Minnie's father was listed on the certificate as David Nichols (check mark) and her mother as Sara Benson (fireworks, please).  The information on the death certificate was provided by William M Nichols, the brother listed in the 1880 census (check mark).  I wasn't as successful in locating a marriage record at the Virtual Vault for David Nichols and Sara Benson.  Another task on my To-Do-List.  At least my other efforts have lead to establishing the probable family for cousin "Emma Nichols of Edgewood".

Death Certificate, Minnie Nichols
source: Georgia Virtual Vault

All in all, the wedding plans article turned out to be worthwhile to study in detail because it lead me to new information about my family.  I learned the employer of my uncle Ed.  I got another push to learn more about the Rev. Sam Dean.  And, I have the probable family for Cousin Emma Nichols, my first cousin, three times removed.  Not bad for a few hours of following the tidbits mentioned in an unexpected newspaper article.

(1) Georgia, De Kalb County, Edgewood, 1900 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital Images. Ancestry.com. http://ancestry.com : 2013.

(2) Georgia, Paulding County, Old Twentieth,1880 US Census, population schedule. Digital Images. Ancestry.com.

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