Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 31 July 2009 (Mostly Moores)

Since I was gone for a couple of days this week on a business trip, not much research was done this week, but there was a little and most of it was on the Moores.


I’m still working on obituaries from The Greenville News, but this week the Moore families covered by these obituaries were those of three of William Spencer Moore’s children (the older William Spencer Moore, that is): Commodore Worth Moore, William Brewster Moore, and Anna Jerusha Moore.

There were two interesting research questions that popped up in the course of working on these obituaries:

1. A question which actually arose for the second time: Was Bessie Lois Moore, oldest daughter of William Brewster Moore, really the daughter of Mary Elizora Shirley? A lot of evidence indicates that she was, but there are a few items that raise questions in my mind, particularly the 1880 and 1900 censuses.

1880 US Federal Census, Pendleton Twp., Anderson Co., SC, ED 26, 3&4 Jun 1880

46 47 Moore, William B. W M 29 Farmer SC SC SC
Mary E. W F 30 Wife Keeping house SC SC SC
Lena T. W F 10/12 July Dau SC SC SC

Obituary of Bessie Lois Moore (Mrs. Crayton C.) Shirley,
The Greenville News, 30 Sep 1938, p. 10

“Mrs. Crayton Shirley

ANDERSON, Sept. 29-Mrs. Crayton C. Shirley, 66, died this afternoon at the Anderson County hospital following an illness of the last three weeks.

Mrs. Shirley, a daughter of Bruce Moore and Mrs. Mary Shirley Moore, was a native and life-long resident of Anderson county and was a member of the Oakwood Baptist church. She was a resident of the Midway community east of Anderson.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Shirley is survived by five daughters and six sons, Mrs. O. D. Drake, Mrs. Luther Freeman, Mrs. Dewey Poore, Mrs. Fred Fowler and Mrs. Frank Stone; Waymon, Robert, Ansel, J. B., Grady and Leroy Shirley all of Anderson county. She also leaves two brothers and one sister, A. P. and W. D. Moore of Anderson, and Mrs. J. K. Miller of Laurens county.

The funeral services will be held at 5 o’clock Friday afternoon at Oakwood Baptist church with the Rev. E. C. White officiating. Interment will follow in Silver Brook cemetery.”

The censuses in which I have been able to find Bessie consistently indicate that her year of birth was in the early 1870s (according to the 1900 census, it was April 1874). The Shirley Association webpage (the same page has information for Mary Elizora Shirley and Bessie Lois Moore, because Bessie married Charles Crayton Shirley, apparently her first cousin once removed – Mary’s father James and Charles’ father Aaron were sons of John Shirley and Elizabeth Barmore) indicates that Bessie was born 23 March 1873 (this date appears to have been taken from her tombstone in Silverbrook Cemetery, Anderson County, SC). Bessie Moore Shirley died on 29 September 1938 (according to her obituary, and this date may also be on her tombstone). Her daughter Ruth Mae Shirley’s delayed birth certificate indicates that Bessie was 65 years old when she died, and this would also point to 1873 as her year of birth; the age of 66 given in the obituary would indicate 1872.

So what is the relevance of her actual date of birth to the above question? For one thing, the Lena T. Moore shown above doesn’t sound at all like Bessie Lois Moore – wrong age, wrong month of birth, and wrong name. I know enough to expect mistakes in the census, but months of birth were listed on the 1880 census only for infants born in the past year. Lena does not show up in subsequent censuses or later records, and the 1900 census indicates that Mary Shirley Moore had had 5 children, of whom four were still living (that would be Bessie, sister Lula Elizabeth, and brothers William Dexter and Aaron Priestly, with Lena being the child who died). So the 1900 census would seem to indicate that Bessie was, indeed, Mary Shirley Moore’s child.

But there is more. The 1900 and 1910 censuses indicate that Bruce and Mary Moore had been married 20 and then 30 years – both point to around 1880 as the year they married. Perhaps it was a bit earlier, as Lena was apparently born in July 1879. But 1872 or 1873? Furthermore, according to the 1910 census, this was Bruce Moore’s second marriage. And, on the 1880 census, where was Bessie? I have not been able to find her elsewhere on that census, so perhaps this is just another census-taker’s mistake. But there is just enough to make me wonder and not be entirely sure that she was Mary Shirley Moore’s daughter.

2. One of Bessie Moore Shirley’s children, Ellis Waymon, married someone named Roy Williams. Here is Ellis Waymon Shirley’s obituary:

Obituary of Waymon Shirley
The Greenville News, 4 June 1977, p. 6B

“Waymon Shirley

Anderson – Waymon Shirley, 82, Rt. 7, Dixon Rd., widow of Roy William Shirley, died Friday.

A native of Anderson County, she was a member of New Prospect Baptist Church and a retired farmer.

Surviving are daughters, Mrs. Hulbert Burton of Hartwell, Ga., Ruby Shirley of Anderson; brothers, Robert L. Ansel and J. B. Shirley of Anderson; sisters, Mrs. O. D. Drake, D. L. Poore of Anderson, Mrs. Frank Stone of Williamston; two grandchildren; four great-grandchildren.

Services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at McDougalds North Chapel, with burial in Forestlawn Memorial Park.

The family requests that flowers be omitted. Memorials may be made to the New Prospect Baptist Church Radio Ministry.”

Wait a minute, who is the husband and who is the wife? Notice that after the words “widow” and “she” appear at the beginning of the obituary, no further indications of gender appear (no “her” before the surviving relatives). And the deceased person was a farmer with a surviving spouse (women were sometimes listed as farmers, but this was more common when they were widows).

Was the obituary writer confused? Yes, he was.

Ellis Waymon is listed as the son of Charles and Bessie Shirley on the censuses (though once he is referred to as Raymond and once his brother Grady is listed as Gertrude) and he appears on the 1930 census with his wife Ophelia; on the 1920 census he is listed with his wife “Ray.” The explanation appears in the obituary of their son Norman L. Shirley (The Greenville News, 16 June 1972, p. 14): “son of Waymon and Roy Williams Shirley of Anderson.” So Roy Williams (Ophelia may have been a first or middle name) was Norman’s mother.

Other lines – Highsmith, Norman, Brinlee

Not much done on other lines, though I did contact a Highsmith researcher on GenealogyWise; her Highsmiths also came from Kentucky to Texas. I suspect we are related, and it may be that all the Highsmiths are related.

The “obituary mining” has been very productive, and I have turned up enough information so far to send for 15 more obituaries, but I am hoping to reach the end soon. I love the Moores and I really want to fill out as much on this line as I can, but I need a little variety. My research on my paternal grandmother’s family, the Normans (in this case the family of my great-great grandfather Joseph Madison Carroll Norman, his three wives, and 26 or 27 children) was interrupted when I jumped at the chance to have a Greenville researcher look up all these Moore (and some Lewis) obituaries, and I need to get back to the Normans. Then it will be on to the Hiram Brinlee Sr.-Betsy McKinney family, which will complete the great-great grandparent level (not really complete, but enough to put the outlines into my genealogy program), with the exception of the Smiths (of course), whom I have not yet been able to identify.

Friday’s Featured Family will be Samuel Alexander Moore (oldest son of Bud Mathis Moore and Martha Brown Coulter) and Mary Ann Elizabeth Baldwin.


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  2. Greta....

    I agree you do have a mystery on your hands with who is Bessie's true mother. Have you looked through the earlier marriages to see if Bruce Moore's "first" marriage was listed? I put first in quotations because there's always the possibility that she was the daughter of a relationship between Bruce and another woman that didn't necessarily end in marriage! If that were the case, perhaps she's listed with a different surname....

    Ah, you have to love puzzles! Though they're a pain in our collective rears, if we didn't have any we genealogists wouldn't feel like we've accomplished anything at all. :)

  3. McKee's Rocks....small world. I actually lived all my life in and around the Pittsburgh area. Up the river from McKee's Rocks is Monaca, Woodlawn and Aliquippa. Those are the stomping grounds of my immigrant Hughes family--steel workers, of course ;-)

  4. Patti - Your thinking is just what I am hoping I can do when I go to Anderson, SC - I've got to see if I can find any record of a first marriage. If Mary Shirley was not her mother, then she appears to have taken her in as her own. A Shirley was a witness on Bruce's father's will, and I think these two families were pretty close.

    Linda - It's funny; I had never met anyone from McKee's Rocks before, but when I joined our church there were a bunch of people who had been born and grew up there. They were from Eastern European immigrant families who worked in steel and coal; we were there because my dad was in the Air Force.