My great-grandfather, William Thomas Welch, died 71 years ago today. Until recently we didn’t know much at all about him [or his wife, Mollie Monroe Sanford]; we still don’t know a lot but our information base is growing.
An early note in my daughter’s genealogy database said something like, “The 1880 census lists Thomas and Mollie Welsh and a six-month old daughter named Jane [my grandmother's name was Mellie Jane]. I’m pretty sure this is them because there are Sanfords living next door.”
All I’d found prior to that 1880 census was an 1860 census that listed a Wm. T. Welch as a 4-month-old son of Robert and Sarah A. Wech. There were three other children: Bashuba J., 8; James A., 6; and Mary E., 2. Although the abbreviation for William and the middle initial T as well as the age were a good fit for my great-grandfather, I couldn’t be positive on that information alone. On a recent trip to Alabama, after almost ten years of research, we finally got confirmation on who Thomas’ father was. Because I hadn’t found Robert or Sarah in any censuses after the 1860 one, my assumption was that Robert had died and Sarah probably remarried. At the Fayette County, Alabama courthouse, we found estate administration documents for Robert Welch who died about December 1861 and that listed his widow as Sarah and named the children as Jane 10, James Alexander 8, Mary Isabell 4, and William Thomas 2. Those names and ages [though not identical] were similar enough to the 1860 census that I had the confirmation I’d desired regarding his family.
The 1900 census gave us the names of nine children born to Tom and Mollie and the 1910 census told us Mollie had borne nine children and nine were still living – Mellie J., James W., Nathan A., Martha A., Jessie E., Dena B., Lovie B., Fennie E. and Mentie M.
I found the burial location for Thomas and Mollie through an Itawamba, Mississippi genforum – they are buried at the Union Grove Cemetery in Tilden, Mississippi. On our return trip from Alabama we stopped at the cemetery to visit their gravesites and take photographs.
Our early information on my great-grandmother listed her middle name as Mouro; I’d begun to find information to suggest her middle name was, in fact, Monroe, so it was good to find confirmation of that name on her tombstone. The foot of the gravesite for their son, Jessie Ellis, and his wife abuts Tom and Mollie’s headstone. I also took a photograph from the foot of their gravesite looking toward their son’s site.
While we were in Alabama, I received an email from a second cousin researching the Welch line who found me online. She has been putting up a website with what she has learned about her side of the family, including photographs and sent me an invitation to view it. After I returned home, I started going through her website and I found some old photographs apparently taken at an unidentified grave. Since we had just been there, I was able to identify the grave site as that of Tom and Mollie Welch.
Mollie died in 1931 and Tom died in 1939. Since the grave on the left side in the above photo is newly dug, it would appear this photo was taken soon after he was buried. There was also a photo of some of his family at the foot of the grave – not all of the people in the photograph were identified and some had only first names, which leaves me to guess at who they were.
The identified people (right to left) are James William (Jim) Welch, Martha Ann Welch Clayton, Lovie Bell Welch Dulaney and Fennie Essie Welch Robertson. The next woman is unidentified and the man on the left end is identified as Ernest. Since Lovie’s husband’s name was Ernest, I consider it reasonable to assume Ernest is Lovie’s husband. If that identification is correct, it is feasible the unidentified woman is Jim’s wife, Pearlie Bynum Welch.
Because Kay and I have found no Tom and Mollie and only a few of any of their children, it was quite a pleasure to find these photographs of the gravesite taken within days of his funeral and of four of their children. If anyone has further clarifying information on these people [or additional photos of any of this Welch family] I would love to hear from you.
Filed under: Family