Desperately Seeking Mabel

My great-grandmother, Martha Ann Conn Keithley, apparently died during or shortly after the birth of her last child, Mabel Amy Keithley. I say apparently because we’ve not yet been able to locate any documentation concerning her birth, parents, young years, or death. Attempts to gather information by way of learning about her last child have also been fruitless searches and particularly difficult because the stories told by Mabel’s children contain a good bit of variability.

Death of a parent is always traumatic, but in earlier times, the death of a mother would have been particularly difficult for a family because, with the lack of available daycare options, a father with small children would have been unable to carry out the daily work necessary to provide for the family. As best as we have been able to recreate the story, Joseph Keithley placed three of his children (Violet, 8; Eva, 6; and Leo 5) with family members, but the infant, Mabel, was placed in a non-family situation.

What we had been able to glean from the stories of Mabel’s children was that she was possibly born in Girard, Crawford, Kansas, on or about July 29, 1889, given away to a family that then moved away and, at some point, ended up in Wisconsin. The 1900 census for the Keithley family had them living in Carterville, Jasper, Missouri. When we found a death certificate for Mabel’s daughter Grace, the place of birth for mother was listed as Joplin, Missouri, which is also in Jasper County; consequently, potential birth locations for Mabel were, like everything else, full of variables.

One of the stories mentioned to me that illustrates the sense of aloneness she felt was of Mabel as a young girl being at a hotel and being taken in and cared for by strangers. Generally speaking, the stories recounted by her children were of a woman who was deeply hurt as well as angry that she had been given away and that she had been raised with no sense of home or family.

According to her children, Mabel used various surnames during her younger years, the one they could remember was Sanden but, by 1907 when she married in Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin, she was using her birth surname of Keithley. According to her daughter, Arlene, Mabel had been contacted when she was 16 by her father, who had apparently begun to search for her because of an inheritance left to her by an unnamed (to us) Keithley; this would have been about a year before her marriage. Although she apparently chose to not connect with her father, she presumably took back the name of Keithley since she used it on her marriage certificate and identified her mother as Martha Ann Poren (perhaps an attempt to decipher handwriting because the name was Martha Ann Conn).

Our major clue by which to search for Mabel was the last name of Sanden and the location of Marathon County, Wisconsin where she was married. No search ever came up with a connection between Mabel and Sanden or Mabel Keithley, whether in Missouri, or Kansas, or Wisconsin. I have searched for Mabel any number of times and with any number of other key words but never had a hit that went anywhere – until this weekend.

I searched for Mabel with a birth date range of 1887 to 1892 and limiting the search to Marathon County, Wisconsin. There were several Mabels listed but there was one that was listed as being born in July 1889 in Missouri. The record was the 1900 census for Henry and Sarah Whipple and an adopted daughter, Mabel – all these items would have fit our Mabel:1900 census with Mabel Whipple adopted daughterNext, I found the 1905 census for Mabel Whippler, still living with Henry, now widowed, this time just listed as daughter: 1905 census Mabel WhipplerAt this point, I was just in hunter/gatherer mode, but on this same 1905 census page, I found something that made me suspect I might truly be onto something. On the same census page was another Whippler family and just below them a family with the last name of Saindon. 1905 Emma Saindon

Saindon might just possibly be the spelling difference we’d been needing to find records matching Mabel Sanden/Sandon. And this Emma Saindon was listed as being born in Missouri, which would possibly place the Whippler family in Missouri where our Mabel was likely born. So it was time to search for earlier Whippler records to discover the names of his children if Emma was, in fact, related to Henry Whippler.

1870 Whippler family with Jacob and Emma Sure enough, there was Emma (though she was actually born in New York). The 1880 census placed the family in Missouri, but a little over thirty miles to the southeast of Carterville. Even though Emma was not born in Missouri, she lived there by the time she was three, so I had now placed the Whippler family in Missouri, although not as neighbors to whom one might give a daughter.

Due to that dratted fire that destroyed the 1890 census, I have been unable to actually place Mabel living with the Saindons or find any other record until the 1895 Wausau, Wisconsin census for Henry Whipper, which was a tic mark census showing a family with one male and two females.

This was, although creating mounting eagerness in me to discover more, still only supposition on my part. The only records we had previously had for Mabel began with her 1907 marriage to John Stevens Tomany in Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin. What I now had for Mabel Whipple is a potential paper trail with clues to Missouri, clues to Sanden/Sandon/Saindon, and clues to Wausau, Wisconsin.

Then I found a Wausau City Directory online and found addresses for 1910 for John and Mabel of 2340 6th Avenue, and for Henry Whipple of 514 Union Street. The 1900 census for Henry was 517 Union Street, but John was not living in Wausau during the 1900 census, so I had no possible crossing of paths for them as yet. I input those two 1910 addresses into Google maps and discovered something quite revealing. Here is the map area of these two locations: 1910 Map of Henry Whippler to John & Mabel's HouseThey could have almost seen one another’s house – just about a block apart. Coincidence? Probably not.

In noting the ages of Henry Whippler (81) and Sarah J. (67) in the 1900 census, it it highly probable that a young child would have, at times, been a strain for them to handle and that the other Whippler children often cared for Mabel, which certainly could have left her never knowing exactly where she fit in. Mabel’s daughter Arlene said her mother never had a consistent home until she was about 10. Sarah Whippler died in 1901 (FindAGrave memorial information) and it is likely Mabel was in a more consistent home environment when she was about 10 due to the need for a more available live-in helper; she was still living with Henry in the 1905 census when he was 86, and presumably until her marriage in 1907.

As I continued to look for Whippler records, I found a WWI draft registration for Harry Elmore Whippler who was born in 1891 in Carterville, Jasper, Missouri, which is where Mabel’s family lived in 1900 and probably at the time of her birth. Harry Elmer Whippler born in Carterville

Obviously, with a connection to Carterville, I had to check to see if this Whippler family had a connection to Henry and Sarah. A search for the 1900 census for Harry showed they did. Harry’s father was Jacob Whippler, eldest son of Henry and Sarah; thus, I have placed this Henry and Sarah Whippler with connections to the birth of their grandson, Harry, in 1891 to the home of the Keithley family.

There are still many questions to be answered: was Mabel actually adopted and might there be adoption records available? Such adoption records might give us a better idea of the time of death of Martha and, in fact, some details regarding the birth parents as well as the specific couple that took her. All of us who are desperately seeking Mabel would love to hear from anyone for whom these clues may trigger another clue that might lead us to her birth location, the death date and place of her mother, the families she lived with or any other bit related to her life.

Searching for Ancestors

In several social media contexts, the topic of how to search has been touched on; status posts, in my opinion, don’t seem to be adequate for responding to such topics so here is a general review of my method.

First, find a genealogy software program where you can record your results. When I began, my only desire was to have a searchable copy of my daughter’s database, which meant free was the major criteria. We found Legacy’s description to be reasonable, downloaded the program and loaded a gedcom of Kay’s database. Over time, I have expanded what I do with our family history information, including becoming primary researcher on my paternal line, and I have upgraded to the Deluxe Legacy, which I continue to use and find quite functional.

Second, begin building a tree on I know that many experienced genealogists see no reason to have a tree on Ancestry, but I do not agree. I also do not see a reason to make the tree private; living people are, by default, private. I’ve read others’ frustrations that they don’t want others to be able to take their hard-fought for research, but for me, I would rather have my hard-fought for, accurate and thorough research available for others to utilize to hopefully cut down on erroneous information on trees, which is one of the reasons people give for not putting up a tree.

Here are a few reasons why I have an Ancestry public tree: the tree itself is free [it’s only researching on Ancestry that requires a fee] and others can be invited to view your tree in capacities of your choosing – Editor, Guest, Contributor, and with limited or unlimited ability to see what is on the tree [for example, living people], etc. [it does require they get a free Ancestry log on account but the tree is fully searchable by your invitees]. People with Editor status will have access to your tree after your death so there is a way your research can continue to be available updated and available to your family. A public tree on Ancestry is available for others searching, which means your tree can be found by potential relatives, which may further your own research [Randy Seaver refers to the tree as cousin bait]. Ancestry is most useful with a paid account because of their large collection of records, databases, images, stories,etc. Each of the databases or images you find can be linked to the individual on your tree, which makes a handy cloud-based storage retrieval system for such documentation, thus avoiding the need for complex filing systems in binders, file drawers, or on your computer, external hard drives, Evernote, and personal cloud storage. I also have public trees on FamilySearch, My Heritage,, etc. [to provide accurate information and work as cousin bait] but none of those have an interface that can be seen in ways I prefer.

For me, a database and Ancestry are the basic tools for recording what I find. has provided many training videos to help people search their collections: here’s a link to a seven-minute video on how to search. Many other tutorials are available from their YouTube channel.

Now for how I search. From the person page in Ancestry with as much information as I have recorded, I press the Search Records button [there is also a search button on the person’s name tab in the tree view]:

Search RecordsThis link takes all the details (birth, death, family members, residence locations) I have entered and fills in the search screen for me. I still have options to refine my search as I wish, but I don’t have to enter the basic search information every time I search again.

Search results appear on two different tabs: Records and Categories. I generally begin with census records because those records provide information on the person and the family over time, which provides a framework for how and where to search for every other record. I have noticed that many of the family trees have no attached records or perhaps only one census. But without utilizing every census for the whole family [parents, siblings and children] you will have an incomplete picture and, perhaps, even an erroneous one – it is all too easy to find a person with the same name, general age and location and, without the verifying information regarding extended family over time, you may end up on the wrong track.

In the early stages of your research, it is probably best to begin with the most recent census for your target person so you have the most accurate information from which to evaluate the record. Because there are few records available before 1940, the best results will be for those born prior to that time.

If the person I’m searching for died in, say, 1934, I would begin with the 1930 census, recording in my database management program all information from the census on every person listed in that household – name used [including spelling of surname because it will likely vary through the years], age, birth location, occupation, etc. can all be used as clues in other searches. The information asked for varies from census year to year, so learn what you can from each one. The 1900 and 1910 censuses asked about marriages and the number of children. This information can be quite useful, so don’t overlook it. For example, if the mother in the family lists herself as having been married for 7 years and is the mother of 5/3 children, and there are eight children listed in the family, some of which are older than seven, that mother is not the mother of all of them.Take the time to think about what you already know about the family and what you can learn from the new information. You may be able to infer from the list of children still living which children may have died as well as the decade in which they died.

Please note that the accuracy of census information is dependent on many factors including who was giving the answers and how much they actually knew [for example, the information may have been given by a neighbor or the mother-in-law] as well as the quality of the enumerator in terms of spelling ability, attention to detail, and recording details based on hearing, as well as the attitude of the family toward allowing the government to ‘know their business.’ For all the reasons a census may contain errors, the consensus of the information over time should provide a more accurate picture of the family. For example, a child may be listed as being 9 in the 1920 census, which would put their birth at about 1911, but they may also be listed as being 1 in the 1910 census, which would put their birth at about 1909. In this case, the 1909 birth has to take precedence since it is not likely the 1910 listing was precognitive. Tombstones may or may not be a reliable source for birth or death information; I have seen some of those with birth dates later than the first census in which the person was recorded – some headstones have been added later by well-meaning family members but may have been based on that one erroneous census age. Our long ago ancestors may have been unsure of their own birthdays – just this week I found a pension file where my ancestor listed his own birth date with the clarification of “I think it was …” When asked if he had any record of his birth he noted he had his father’s Bible in which the names and birth dates of the children were recorded. If they were fuzzy about their own birth dates, why should it surprise us if census records and tombstones show variability in recording those dates.

Take note of other names on the census page and review a couple of census pages either side of the target census page to see if family members are nearby [this is more important in earlier censuses when extended family was often nearby versus later censuses in more urban areas where family members are less likely to be seen within a few pages of one another].

Once I have extracted all the information from the census to my database including documenting the source for the information, I save it to my tree – note the far right side of the graphic below to see the location of the save button. Prior to 1880 people have to be attached individually, but from the 1880 census forward, all family members should be savable to the tree once the information box has been checked – I verify this because occasionally the way family members have been indexed causes a person to be missed.

Save Button

Recording the source of your information while you have it available will save you a lot of headaches. I learned this the hard way by not recording where I got a small piece of information and when someone asked me a question, although I was positive it was good information, I couldn’t discern where I’d found it. Now I record a source for everything. Please note it is possible to copy the source information from the Ancestry page where the census record is indexed for your person [the same is true for FamilySearch records – look on the bottom of the index page]. Here is the source information for an Ancestry 1940 census record:

Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Beaumont, Jefferson, Texas; Roll: T627_4076; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 123-24.

Source Information: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

Generally speaking, in basic searches on Ancestry, I usually will see pertinent records within the first dozen or so. If I do not see records that seem pertinent to my individual, I refine my search or work with specific categories or census years to narrow the field.

If there are others who have done research on my person, there will likely be hints or ‘shaky leaves’ [records that have already been attached to a person of similar name, age, location, etc.]. In the upper right hand side of a person’s page in the tree, there may be a listing of such hints – I click on that button and review and utilize the hints.

ancestry hintsThe above button is for a person in my tree [distant relative I have not worked on yet] that shows four historical records, one photo or story, and links to other family trees. The records links are to the 1940 census, two city directory listings and an obituary [in this case, the obituary link is no longer valid]. The photo/story is a photo of his death certificate.In this listing of the hints, the three links that work are for my person; please be aware, however, there are frequently hints that are not for the target person. For example, one of the fellow researchers in my family had found a marriage link for a person, which then showed up as a hint in mine; the ancestor had the correct name and age and was living in the expected county. The person who linked this had not gone further with the clue [because it was not a direct line person]; however, I rarely stop there. I added the wife’s name and searched for the next census record following the marriage and discovered in the next census record [and additional years] that this person was a different race from the expected family – this is because I note each bit of information from each record. I searched subsequent years because race is not always a reliable factor in any given census – I think sometimes the enumerators may have not have filled in that column as they recorded the information but went back later and dropped down the information from the previous families on the page, failing to remember there was a family of a different race within that area. By using that marriage record as a clue and searching for other records, I learned that hint was not accurate. I then contacted my fellow researcher regarding what I found so they could update their own research which, after thanking me, they did.

The next aspect of the hints are the other family trees that are purported to have my person in it; in this case, there are five, each of which can be reviewed for clues. I do not ever copy others’ trees into mine; I do sometimes review a specific person for clues that may be traceable for my purposes but record information only after I have completed searching for documentation myself. If I find nothing to support that clue, I merely note the name and source of the clue in the research tab of my database program. Please review the other trees carefully because they may be completely and obviously different people or they may be an interesting compilation of several people. On the other hand, there may be clues even in an erroneous tree.

[NOTE: because many people do not do complete trees, but only put in people who are in their direct line, it is sometimes helpful to look at every tree of parents of a person because there may be one tree with a single sibling listed who seems to have a name of a spouse. Because these are people with an interest in only the one person, they may be direct line people with personal knowledge. Again, I use this information only as a clue from which to search for supportive documentation since these trees rarely have any.]

Once I have exhausted all the reasonably easy-to-find documentation on Ancestry, I search FindAGrave [currently those may also come up as hints on Ancestry]. FindAGrave can be a great source of information. The person putting up a memorial may have included headstone photos, pictures of the person and/or family or death certificate, biographical information, and links to other family burial locations. I retrieve all available information for the person and every person linked to his/her memorial [again using them as clues to be verified and noting FindAGrave as the source]- and those linked to the linked person as appropriate to my tree. Depending on the amount of detail, this can be fairly involved. Based upon my relationship to the person and/or the location, I may also click on the cemetery name and search for that surname or other surnames from the location.

Next, I go to to search for any documentation or records not yet located. Different websites search differently, so play around with search information. In my experience, it does not search well from the woman’s name so I generally begin with the husband’s name and the spouse’s name with age and location parameters. Try it every way imaginable because each search string may come up with different information. If searching for a female, I will usually switch out her surname to encompass any records that may be indexed only by her name at the time. Sometimes a search for a name with no other parameters will provide results not seen when more information has been given. Experiment!

If I am having a particularly difficult time finding a specific census year for an individual, I also utilize my library’s database collection, which has access to Heritage Quest. This contains census records for 1790 through 1820 and 1860 through some 1930 censuses. Again, it searches differently – exact matches only by using alternate spellings in subsequent searches – and I have occasionally found a missing record. It also permits searching by first name, within age parameters, locations, etc., which again can be useful. Because their images are not quite as clear as those on Ancestry, I would note the information from the District, page, and family number and search for that record by browsing the collection on Ancestry, which means, once found, I can then attach the record to the person on my tree. If I am still having difficulty, I may search for the surname in the known location and browse nearby pages to see if they have been mis-indexed. I once found a missing census for a Buckner who had been indexed as a Ruckner. This particular census held a lot of clues that paid big dividends so I was rewarded for taking the time to do a page-by-page browse.

Heritage Quest also has Revolutionary War Records where I recently found a 13-page pension file for a GGGGgrandfather, again with much information, including his signature.

My library database collection includes access to Fold3 and I search that for military records, if they did not come up on Ancestry [particularly Civil War records when the age and/or location makes it likely they may have served] or a 1930 census if it has proved to be difficult to locate; Fold3 search is often more successful for the 1930 census.

Once I have gone through all these websites, I begin to search the internet. Ancestry has a prepared search string that can be accessed by clicking the link at the bottom of the person’s page – it utilizes variations of the person’s name in multiple orders and with and without wildcards. Legacy also has search strings, but it is geared to specific sites and the Ancestry string is geared to whatever search site you have as a default. I have also used though I opted not to utilize their paid service. I have rarely found anything that did not also come up on the searches of other browsers.

Following all this specific to the person research, I next search the Internet for genealogical information for the county/state(s) in which my ancestor lived. There is a huge amount of variability in those websites – some offer next to nothing while others are total goldmines. For example, the Fayette County, Alabama rootsweb site has a cemetery listing that includes links to every cemetery in the county – they include cemetery photos and names of the people buried there (up to the last cemetery survey, which may be fairly far in the past but still helpful), but they’ve gone one step further by doing an every name index of every person in the county cemeteries (again, at the time of the last survey). It’s rare to find an every name index for a whole county, so this is a real treat. Another goldmine is Wise County, Texas where they have indexes to all the older births (by both surname and mothers’ maiden names), deaths and marriages . Cyndi’s list contains lists of resources by state and county so check her out and see which ones are the most useful for your purposes.

Old newspapers are the most entertaining of the information I have found, but I wait to search for those until I know, by way of other documentation, the locations to search. Again, there is a huge variability in what is available and how to search for it and Cyndi’s List offers loads of sources for newspapers to review. Some of them are fee based and some are not. For my hometown, my library database provides access to the archives of the local newspaper, which I do utilize. Our Oklahoma Historical Museum has partnered with others to provide funding for the digitization of newspapers and periodicals and those images are available for searching. Many universities and state archives have digital collections so explore and see what you can find.

Some of the interesting tidbits we’ve found in newspapers include the marriage announcement for my grandparents, a front page account of a little girl’s birthday party my uncle attended [he was listed as ‘Toodles Lineberry’ and when I asked my mother who Toodles was, she replied, “why, George, of course”], a front page note that my aunt, when she was five, got lost and was found crying but returned safely home. There have been a number of newspaper notes indicating my great-great uncle was quite a character [he was an attorney described as having a heavy unkempt beard with tobacco spittle on it; he was sued for striking a journalist; his wife almost died from accidental? poisoning, he had practices in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado, ran for public office, etc.]. These newspaper items have boosted him to the number one position of ancestors we most enjoy searching for – and he’s not even a direct line ancestor, just a brother of my great-great grandfather.

There are websites with digitized books that can be searched for surnames, locations, occupations, etc. My library database includes WorldCat as a place to search for respositories of books and some of those may be in nearby collections. Explore the possibility of interlibrary loan, but know that many of the books may be rare and available for in-library use only.

I also have searched for currently living descendants by name on Facebook and Google+ and have established connections with several by this means. One of the extra benefits of this is that many of these people post photos of family members – perhaps a picture of grandparents on a birthday or anniversary. I have also searched online phone directories for descendants. For example, I called a descendant of one of my great-grandmother’s brothers. They were out but returned my call once they got home. They had an interest in the family’s history and were delighted to hear from me; we have since emailed several times and they sent me a very old photograph album for my daughter to scan and return.

Because new record collections are being added and more newspapers are being digitized and more people are writing family history blogs, continue to search for family members on a rotational basis every few months to see what else may be available.

For the past several years, my daughter and I have taken research trips to be able to photograph cemeteries, home sites and the locations where my ancestors lived and to research the record repositories that may be available only in the county or state where they were created. We have found many records in that way, but I am pleased to live in the digital age where we can limit our location research to what is as yet not digitized and searchable.

Finally, I have a blog in which I write about my research findings and my research questions – maybe someone out there has an answer. The blog puts the information out in story form, which I tag with key words to aid family members in finding the story so they will hopefully find it and comment – more ways to connect with family I don’t yet know and to pick up additional information and clues for my next round of research.

Celebrating a 219th Anniversary

Today, July 1, 2013, is the 219th anniversary of the marriage of my 5th great-grandparents, William Berry Blackstock, Jr. and Mary ‘Polly’ Bobo. According to the U. S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, they were married July 1, 1794.

I don’t know about you, but I find it amazing that we can find any records at all about people who lived more than 200 years ago. This country is relatively young and many of our earliest settlers couldn’t read or write and yet, those who could, recorded momentous occasions – births, deaths and marriages in family Bibles, and land transactions, probate documents, civil and criminal documents at courthouses – and so, we sometimes find documents from which we can discover and/or infer bits and pieces of their lives.

The Blackstocks  owned a plantation in Union County, South Carolina, which I learned was a Revolutionary War battle site called the Battle of Blackstock’s Plantation. My daughter and I made a research trip to South Carolina in June 2012. The specific dates for the trip were planned around a family reunion held by some Miles descendants – I have no direct line Miles ancestors – just that my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Mary Foster, married a Miles and then my great-grandfather’s half-brother’s widow, Mary Priscilla Middleton Willis, married the same Miles man after they both were widowed in the early 1860s – additionally, the elder Miles was a local minister who had married several of my extended family members.

The reunion planners had scheduled several speakers and visits that tied directly into our research wants and needs and made joining them a great benefit. One of the scheduled activities was a visit to the Blackstock Plantation with a speaker from the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism department who currently own the land.

???????????????????????????????The park ranger, who came out on a Sunday morning, talked to us about the family and the battle and the impact on the ultimate outcome on the Revolution. There are a number of websites with information on this Battle; I have provided one link for anyone with an interest.

As a result of that reunion we got quotes from a letter written by L. [Landon] Miles to Dr. J. H. Logan on August 11, 1858 and published in the Thomas Sumpter Papers of the Draper Manuscripts. Two of his recollections were pertinent to my Blackstock ancestors:

Miles says he was born Feb. 1, 1782 – born and raised within 3 miles of Blackstock’s and still lives there. “I went to see Old Blackstock’s when I was a boy. He was an old Irishman when the British & Torys camped at his house or nearby, he used to pilot them to my father’s to rob & plunder… I have heard my mother say all the way she could keep anything to eat was to put it in a jar in the jamb of the house and cover it with ashes. They would pass it for an ash can. The Tories would strip beds and take everything they or their horses could use at their camps.”

He also wrote that “Old Man Blackstock’s son in time of the war married into a Tory family. The old man was opposed to it – the wedding was at my grandmother Farrow’s. It was a run away match. Old Blackstock’s was in pursuit and came up while Squire Ford was marrying them & cutting short his ceremony said, ‘I now pronounce you man & wife.’ Blackstock heard it ad howled out ‘I pronounce it a damed lie.’ Came up very angry. He said the Tories had left him nothing but his old red jacket and they might have that – & pulled it off, & stamped on it & swore that they might have it too.”

One of the stories I heard from the ranger that day and have also seen written was the account that Mrs. Blackstock (apparently the younger because there were several small children around her and the older Mrs. Blackstock was past childbearing years), was out in the field telling Banastre Tarlton that she forbade him to fight on her property. Her husband, William the younger, was serving with Col. Roebuck’s unit and was away at the time of the Battle.

We can infer from that story as well as William’s age of 30 that he had been married before he married Mary “Polly” Bobo since the battle took place in 1780 and they didn’t marry until 1794. There are some family trees that list his wife’s maiden name as Yarbrough. Since other Blackstock siblings married into the Yarbrough family, it is not unreasonable to assume that his first wife was, in fact, Mary Yarbrough; to date, I have not found supportive documentation. My daughter got DNA samples from my son and grandson for autosomal testing through We have had several matches that would appear to have come through the Bobo line and, thus far, this is the only direct line Bobo I’ve found.

A slight digression would be to say my daddy bought a marvelous blonde Cocker Spaniel puppy for us in 1955 or 1956 that he named Bobo. At the time it merely seemed like a reasonable name for a pet but once I started doing research on daddy’s family in Fayette County, Alabama I discovered many of his neighbors’ surnames were Bobo and though there were some marriages between aunts, uncles or cousins, there weren’t any Bobos in my direct line. What a pleasant surprise to find that the name Bobo that daddy chose as a pet name was actually a direct line surname by the time I arrived at my 5th great-grandmother.

Once the reunion was over, we began the research portion of our trip and headed over to Columbia where the South Carolina Archives are housed. We found William Blackstock’s will. In spite of the fact he apparently had children from his first marriage, he only mentions the two daughters born in his marriage to Mary Bobo. I have been unsuccessful to date in locating information on those earlier children; consequently, it is difficult to know if they were omitted because they predeceased him, or if they had quarreled, or moved away and had not stayed in contact with him.

William Blackstock 1841 will webSince the daughters were the only ones mentioned, it is presumed that his wife had predeceased him. Both daughters were married and are identified in the will by their married names: Mary Pool and Jane Foster. George Pool is named Executor and Jane Foster (my 4th great-grandmother) is named Executrix and the property was to be divided equally between the daughters after his debts and funeral expenses were paid.

One of the benefits of the will is that my daughter gained another signature for her signature file. The signature tells us two things about him – he could write and his control of his hand was shaky – quite logical since in 1841 he was 91 years old.

Information on my Blackstock/Bobo ancestors is spotty and, thus far, not very thoroughly documented. I would love to hear from anyone from either family who could add to my knowledge and documentation base for them.