"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 30 August 2001

“Breaking Through a Brickwall”

Recently, one of my readers, Jack Hess, contacted me for help and we met one evening at the Clayton Genealogy Library in Houston to develop a plan of action.

First, we set one goal: Find the parents of his great-great grandfather, Joel Hess who was born between 1827 and 1831 in Monroe Co., TN.

Second, we evaluated what Jack knew: The names of two of Joel’s sons were Albert Pinckney Hess and John Franklin Hess. Jack knew that Joel’s wife was Mary McAbee and her parents were Edward and Martha McAbee. We estimated that Joel and Mary had married about 1852.

Third, we evaluated what Jack didn’t know: The names of Joel’s parents.

Fourth, we began the search: We determined that we needed to locate Joel on the 1850 Census. We photocopied the census indexes for the surnames Hess and McAbee in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. We then crosschecked the surnames and found the only one place where both surnames were listed in the same county in the 1850 Census was in Murray Co., GA.

Fifth: We pulled the Murray Co., GA census microfilm and there was Joel living with his parents Charles and Frances Hess and a few households away living next to who would turnout to be Joel’s brother, William Hess, was the Edward McAbee and family, including Mary. William Hess married Nancy McAbee, who was also the daughter of Edward.

Sixth: A lot of whooping and hollering as we reached our goal. Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Yes, we were lucky, but years of frustrating research hadn’t found Joel’s parents. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative in your research and come-up with unique approaches. The technique discussed today will hopefully help you to go along way in breaking through your brickwall!

“Newspaper, I Never Thought!”

Gee, folks I say it again, never, never, never, draw a conclusion, “It can’t be there.” My great-great-grandfather James Jefferson Claud Johnson and his brother, Benjamin Franklin Johnson were killed on the night of Sept. 9, 1873 in Robertson Co., Texas. As family legend goes they were killed by nightriders.

Over the years, I have looked a just about every surviving Central Texas newspaper for Sept. and Oct. 1873. I have never found one newspaper story about their deaths. You would think two brothers being killed on the same night would warrant some sort of a mention.

This past Saturday, I was reading the microfilm of the “Weekly Houston Telegraph” newspaper while researching a totally different and unrelated topic. There in front of my eyes, jumped out an article about the killing of the Johnson Brothers! I almost fell out of the chair. It wasn’t where it was supposed to be! It wasn’t where my mother or I had looked for over 30-years. But I found it in a Houston newspaper! I would have never thought to look in a Houston newspaper for a killing in Robertson Co., TX.

So, my fellow researchers learn from my experience, it’s there, just not where you’re looking. Keep turning over those rocks and you’ll find a worm wiggling in the dirt! Now, my next big roadblock: Who are the parents of James S. Shuffield?

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 29 Aug 2001 and was last revised on ___________ 2001

Copyright © 1999, 2001 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604