Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fearless Females - Prompt 20

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

The answer to that first question is yes, definitely, many, too many. The second question probably has several answers but, after looking around at some of my female brick walls for this post, I think the main answer to "why" might be "because I haven't really looked for them."

I have at least a first and last name for everyone through my 2nd great-grandparents (all 16 of them) but I can't go beyond six of them (four of those six are females).

1. Polly Smith
What I know: According to Ancestry's database "Georgia Marriages to 1850", Polly Smith married James Lanier on 29 Jul 1810 in Jasper County, Georgia. Census records show they lived in Jasper County in 1820 but were in Meriwether County by 1830. I haven't found them in 1840 but they were also in Meriwether County in 1850. Based on that record Polly was born about 1793 in North Carolina. No clues as to her parents.

To Do List: (1) Get a copy of their actual marriage record; (2) Look at Smith's in Jasper County, Georgia in 1820 for possible parents. (There are 28 Smith household's in 1820. Did any of them later move to Meriwether County?)

2. Rachel McFardan
What I know: Rachel married Stephen Hopkins, Jr. about 1822 and they had 11 children. Rachel and Stephen lived in Claiborne County, Tennessee in 1830 and 1840. In 1850, they were in neighboring Hancock County (but probably didn't actually move since Hancock was formed from Claiborne and Hawkins counties in 1844). They moved to Harlan County, Kentucky between 1862-1865.

According to many on-line trees, Rachel's maiden name was McFarland (no sources listed anywhere) but the death certificate for her daughter, Eliza Hopkins Simpson, lists her name as McFardan. This information was provided by Eliza's husband, Ephram Simpson. Eliza and Ephram left Harlan County shortly after their marriage in 1866, moved to Indiana and then later Missouri. They probably never saw her parents again so it's unclear how reliable a source Ephram would have been for her mother's maiden name but, for now, that is the only actual documentation I have for it. It is certainly possible that "McFardan" was a misspelling of McFarland.

To Do List: (1) Check Claiborne and surrounding counties for a marriage record. (2) Check census records for eastern Tennessee and bordering Virginia counties for families named McFardan, McFarland and other variant spellings. (Have already checked in Claiborne and Hancock counties and found nothing. There was a William McFarlane and a John McFarlain in 1820 in neighboring Lee County, Virginia who need a closer look.)

3. Teresa
What I know: Based on Census records, Teresa was born about 1806 in South Carolina. She married Lewis H. Bennett and they had 11 children. Lewis was also born in South Carolina about 1804 but I don't know anything about his parents either. He and Teresa may have been living in Darlington County in 1830. There is a Lewis Bennett household there with a male and a female both age 20-30 but no children. Other records indicate their 2 oldest children were born before 1830 so that may not be them. Lewis and Teresa were in Troup County, Georgia in 1840 and 1850. Lewis died in 1851 and Teresa appears to still be living in Troup County in 1880 (listed as Terrecy Bennett). Several on-line trees list her maiden name as Garrett but I've seen no proof of that.

To Do List: (1) Determine if Lewis and Teresa were in Darlington County, South Carolina (and if not, where). (2) Search for a marriage record. (3) Check for Garrets in South Carolina (just in case there's any truth in those trees).

4. Rebecca
What I know: Census records indicate that Rebecca was born about 1807 in Georgia. She married Jesse Thomas who was born about 1802 in either South Carolina or Georgia. Rebecca and Jesse were in Murrary County, Georgia in 1840 and 1860 and in neighboring Lumpkin County in 1850. Rebeca was in Logan County, Kentucky, living near her daughter, Margaret (and John) Petty by 1870 so Jesse probably died before that census. I have no clues about a maiden name for Rebecca and also don't know anything about Jesse's parents.

To Do List: (1) Look for a marriage record for Jesse and Rebecca in Murray and Lumpkin counties. (2) Since I don't have a ideas about Rebecca's parents or where in Georgia she may have been born, the logical next step seems to be to try to find Jesse's parents (at least I have a surname for them). If I can find Jesse's family then I might be able to find out if he and Rebecca were married in the Murray and Lumpkin area.

This has been a really beneficial exercise. It's pretty obvious that you can't get past a brick wall if you don't work at it and you can't work at it if you don't even have a plan. I'm sure I have some "to do" items for most of my brick walls but I need to go through this process for every "end of the line" ancestor in my database.

Fearless Females is a series of daily prompts for March in honor of Women's History Month created by Lisa Alzo at The Accidental Genealogist.


  1. Linda, NICE job on this post, please let us know how your to do list is coming along!