William Thomas Welch

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.

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6 Responses

  1. The trip was so worth it! Every little piece of information adds to make a more complete picture.

  2. That is a picture of my grandfather, POP, is what we called him. Jim Welch I would like a copy of that picture.

  3. I am glad to help you and also learn all the new infor. you have that I did not. It is all a learning experience, as well as a labor of love to the future and past generations

  4. The unidentified woman is not Pearlie!

  5. [...] William Thomas Welch — the Union Grove Cemetery where William and Mollie are buried [...]

  6. […] Sometime between the 1900 census and the 1910 census, Tom and Mollie moved their family to Itawamba County, Mississippi near the town of Fulton, a community about 80 miles northwest of Fayette, Alabama. Melly and James William both married in Fayette County between 1900 and 1904, while Dena married in Itawamba County in 1906, Nathan in 1907, Martha “Annie” in 1908 and Jessie after the 1910 census was taken. Those marriage locations help identify that the family moved to Mississippi between 1904 and 1906. The 1910 census is difficult to read but does show Mollie as the mother of nine children, all of whom were still living; Jessie Ellis, Lovie, Fenie Essie and Myrtie were still living at home. The 1920 census shows they had moved back to the Webster community of Fayette County in Alabama and, again, lists divergent locations for their births; this time, Mollie’s birth location is listed as Tennessee and Tom’s father’s location is listed as Mississippi rather than Alabama. By 1930, Tom and Mollie had moved back to Itawamba County. As is way too often the case for census records, the details are mixed in accuracy. This time birth locations are accurate for all but Mollie’s father while Mollie’s middle initial is inaccurate and Tom and Mollie’s ages are reversed. Additionally, Tom and Mollie are both listed as being able to read and write [the yes in the column to the left of center where the birth locations are listed], which was not previously the case. I do not know if they actually learned to read and write during the 1920s or if the census enumerator recorded this detail in error.Mollie died on May 22, 1931, less than a year after the 1930 census. She is buried in Union Grove Cemetery in the community of Tilden in Itawamba County, Mississippi. When I wrote about my great-grandfather, her husband, I included photos of their double headstone and grave site; those can be reviewed here. […]

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