Monday, October 13, 2008

Finding a New Family

The “new family” mentioned in the title above does not refer to a set of direct ancestors, i.e., the parents of a “brick wall” ancestor, but is located in a “collateral line,” in this case, the family of one of the brothers of my great-grandfather Charles Augustus Floyd. The brother in question is Caswell B. Floyd, who was born in 1845 in Illinois, married Mary Miller, and died in 1890 in Kleberg, Dallas County, Texas. The Floyds were one of the first families on whom I had any information, thanks to some outstanding Floyd family researchers, Eunice Sandling and the Jim and Pat Dodd family. It often seemed that there was very little I could add by way of research to what they had already done. They already had a family group for Caswell and Mary Floyd, which included five sons – George Albert, William Henry, Joseph Ira, Ollie B., and Charles Alford. However, Caswell ‘s death in1890 opened up the possibility that there were additional children born between the 1880 census and Caswell’s death in 1890.

The 1900 census showed an Alvin C. Long, born ca 1888, living with a Charles and Mary Long in Precinct 4, Dallas County, Texas, and I suspected that Mary Long was Caswell’s widow. I eventually got in touch with a descendant of Cletus Caswell Floyd, Alvin Cletus Floyd’s son, and the name Caswell and the descendant’s claim that the family was from Kleberg, Texas, made me positive that my guess was correct. However, this still is not the family referred to in this article.

When I did the census work for Charles and Mary Long, I found that in the 1910 census, Mary was shown as having given birth to 10 children, of whom 8 were still living. That meant it should be possible to find eight living children at that point in time, but at this point I knew only of Caswell and Mary’s six sons plus another son, Emmet, born to Mary and Charles Long. Emmet was born in 1893, at which time Mary was already about 45 years old, and in the 1900 census Mary was mistakenly shown as having had only one child, i.e., Emmet, so I guessed that the child not accounted for must have been Caswell’s child. After eliminating Floyd males from the Charles August Floyd and Alfred Byrum Floyd (Charles’ and Caswell’s youngest brother) families, there did not seem to be any additional male Floyds born in the early 1880s living on their own in the Dallas area. That left one possibility, a phenomenon known to many family researchers dealing with this period in history – 1880 to 1900 – who understand that one of the consequences of the loss of almost the entire 1890 census is the “lost daughter” – a daughter born in the early 1880s (so she does not appear on the 1880 census) who has already married and no longer lives with her family (so she cannot be found under her maiden name in the 1900 census).

My next step was to look for a young (less than 20 years old) married woman in the Kleberg area. There were several candidates, and for at least two of these it was indicated that one or both parents had been born in Illinois (the only reliable “distinguishing feature” I could use to narrow down the field), but I was actually able to find their maiden names with a little hunting, and none of them was the missing daughter. That was several months ago. About a week ago I was taking care of one of the more mundane genealogy chores, recopying quickly scribbled notes to put in the proper family binders. Probably about a year or so earlier (before I was very familiar with the Caswell Floyd family), I had hastily jotted down some information from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives (another plug for one of my favorite websites) – the transcript of the death certificate for a young woman named Alice Bibb who had died in the great influenza epidemic in 1918. Listed as her parents were C. B. Floyd and Mary Mills. At the time it piqued my curiosity, but I was not familiar enough with the family to be certain that this was Caswell and Mary. Seeing my notes a second time, however, gave me that jolt and then the rush familiar to so many genealogy buffs – this was the daughter I had been searching for! This was followed by embarrassment at my “senior moment” – forgetting that I had already “found” the daughter. I then remembered that her death fell within the right time frame to be covered by the Texas death certificates on the Family Search pilot site (another favorite website). A glance at the image of the original death certificate showed that Mary Mills was indeed actually Mary Miller, and Alice Bibb was Alice Floyd, the missing daughter.

In a subsequent article I will describe what I have learned about this family.

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