52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #32 – Rachel Buckner née Lindsey

What I know about my 3rd great-grandmother, Rachel Lindsey Buckner, is based on three documents plus what I can extrapolate from research on the areas in which she lived as well as documentation on her husband and children.

An 1850 Blount County, Alabama census [1] listed her within the household of John Buckner. Because relationships were not identified in census records until 1880, individuals living in the same household need more supportive documentation to verify what, if any, relationship they may have had to one another, although placement within the household sometimes is a possible identifier of relationships since the enumerators usually recorded them based on relationship and age.1850The order of names and the ages does suggest a family unit of a husband and wife, ages 54 and 53, and children listed in descending order by age. This record would indicate Rachel was born in North Carolina about 1797. The record lists the names of eight probable children of John and Rachel with the first listed child being a daughter name Rachel who was born in Tennessee about 1826 with four more children born in Tennessee through about 1834. Then, in about 1836, a female child whose name is not very clearly written [through other records, the name was discovered to be Angelina] was born in Alabama, as were the next two children. One other item about Rachel – the tic mark on the right indicates she did not read or write.

In the Heritage of Blount County 1989 [2], there was a brief mention of John Buckner and his family that stated, in reference to the Allgood Community of Blount County, Alabama, “Johnnie Buckner was one of the original settlers. All the Buckners in this part of the state are descendants.” Marriage records and census records for that area, cross-referenced with the gender/age tic marks from an 1830 and 1840 census [an 1820 census has not been located] allowed me to add additional children to the list above: Emmalisa [1818], Elizabeth [1819], Nancy [1821] and William [1824], all born in Tennessee. An obituary for Emmalissa Ellis confirmed her relationship to John and Rachel as well as providing county of residence for the family at the time of her birth in 1818: “Emmalissa Ellis w/o Rev. Jeremiah Ellis, local preacher, MECG, and d/o John and Rachel Buckner, born Sevier Co., Tenn. 1818; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. May 29, 1872; joined MEC at age 15.” [3]

1860 census records for Fayette County, Alabama [4] showed the majority of the Buckner family had made a move. It is also the last record I have found for Rachel.  In this record, the enumerator recorded Rachel’s birth location as Tennessee, which raises questions about the validity of the North Carolina location listed in the 1850 census, although I tend toward the North Carolina location since adding a different state likely took specific information whereas ditto marks seem more prone to error, in my mind. The birth ages for both John and Rachel are slightly different than what was given for the 1850 census: 1796/1797 versus 1800/1802; the names of the last three children from the 1850 census are the same as the last three children for the 1860 census as well as the Tennessee/Alabama birth locations [except for Rachel’s].1860

By the 1870 census, John had a different wife, supportable by an 1862 marriage record; Rachel’s death is presumed, sometime between June 1, 1860 and October 1862. The marriage record was in Blount County so the death location could have been in Fayette County or Blount County, or perhaps anywhere along the route. I have not found a death record or burial record of any kind.

John’s obituary provided evidence for Rachel’s maiden name of Lindsy/Lindsey: “JOHN BUCKNER born east Tenn., Oct. 12, 1798; married Rachel Lindsy, 1818; about 1836 moved to Blount Co., Ala.; died Dec. 16, 1876. He left a large family.” [5]

None of my searches thus far have provided any clue or insight into who Rachel’s parents might have been or a county or state in which to search. John and Rachel had twelve known children, including my great-great-grandfather, John Buckner.



1. U.S. Federal Population Census, 1850; Census Place: Subdivision 18, Blount, Alabama; Roll: M432_2; Page: 93A; Image: 190

2. Reunion Edition of Heritage of Blount County 1989, Blount County Historical Society, 1989, p. 31.

3. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, The Nashville Christian Advocate; 9 Nov 1872, online transcription. [The Nashville Christian Advocate was a publication of the Methodist Episcopal Church.]

4. U.S. Federal Population Census, 1860; Census Place: Middle Division, Fayette, Alabama; Roll: M653_9; Page: 447; Image: 453; Family History Library Film: 803009

5. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, The Nashville Christian Advocate; 16 Jun 1877, online transcription.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #30 – John Buckner, Sr.

What I know about my 3rd great-grandfather, John Buckner, Sr., is limited, as is the case for most of my ancestors born in the 1700s. I found an obituary for John in the June 16, 1877 edition of the Nashville Christian Advocate. It was brief but gave some much wanted details:

“JOHN BUCKNER born east Tenn., Oct. 12, 1798, married Rachel Lindsy, 1818; about 1836 moved to Blount Co., Ala; died Dec. 16, 1876. He left a large family.”

Although that information provides the beginning and ending and even 3 brief pieces of information about everything between 1798 and 1876 [he married, he moved, he bore children], it’s still pretty limited. So, what else have I been able to discover about him?

The earliest Buckner record I found for a John Buckner in east Tennessee is for 1830 and there are two Buckners listed: John and what is likely a brother, Thomas, since they are neighbors and similar in age. There are no other Buckners in any of the surrounding pages and no Lindseys or any other surnames that have been proposed as possible parents for either John or Rachel Lindsey. An 1872 obituary for the oldest daughter, EmmaLisa, stated she was born in Sevier County, Tennessee [which is in east Tennessee] in 1818 and so finding John Buckner in the 1830 Sevier County census was reasonably expected. The ages of the household members for John generally fit the known children in the family [males on the left and females on the right]: William (1824), John (1798), EmmaLisa (1818), Elizabeth (1819), Nancy (1821), Rachel (1826). Martha (1828) and Rachel (1797). 1830 CensusSupporting the information from the obituary, an 1840 census for Blount County, Alabama has the John Buckner family enumerated in that county. The ages of the children, again, are generally appropriate for the known children in the family – males [right to left] William (1824), John (1832), Thomas (1833) and Jessie (1839) and females [right to left] Elizabeth (1819), Nancy (1821), Rachel (1826), Martha (1828), Mary Ann ‘Polly’ (1830), and Angelina (1836). 1840 censusThe 1850 census for Blount County finally gave names and ages of the household members; of course, several of the older children were already married and living in their own households. Two more children were added in the decade: Jesse Wilson (1841) and Levi (1842). New pieces of information include the North Carolina birth location for Rachel Lindsey Buckner and the birth location for Angelina supporting the move to Alabama in 1836. 1850 censusAn 1855 state census and an 1857 land patent indicate John and his family were still in Blount County up to that point, while the 1860 census showed showed a move to Fayette County, Alabama. The three youngest children were still living in the household but several of their children had also moved with their families, including my 2nd great-grandparents, their son, John Buckner, Jr. The tick marks to the far right indicate neither John nor Rachel could read or write. 1860 census Although no details have emerged, John’s wife, Rachel, must have died in Fayette County some time after this census was taken. John, Thomas, Jesse and Levi all joined the Confederate Army; Jesse got sick and died in June 1862 and John after marching to Tennessee got sick and died in September 1862. John, Sr. moved back to Blount County where he married Mrs. Mary Savage nee Golden on October 26, 1862.

John and Mary had five children together: C.J. Ransada (1863), James (1865), Sarah Ann (1868), Barnett (1871) and Alfred [or Abel] Pierce (1875). As stated in his obituary, John died December 16, 1876. I have not yet found where he was buried.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.





52 Ancestors #10 – John Buckner

John Buckner was my second great-grandfather – my father’s paternal grandmother’s father. My daddy would have known three out of four of his grandparents, but his paternal grandmother died about twenty years before he was born and her father had died when she was about 6. What that means is we don’t have any knowledge of him other than the brief paper trail he left.

That brief paper trail to date only includes a marriage record, an 1850 and 1860 census record and a few Civil War muster cards. Not a lot to go on, including no middle name or initial. Although he was apparently John Buckner, Jr., no record for either father or son lists a middle name or initial. I don’t know if that means there was none or just that no surviving paper trail lists it.

The 1850 census page for John Buckner in what is presumably the household of his parents and siblings in Blount County, Alabama; it only lists his name and an approximate time and place of his birth. 1850 censusJohn is in the center of the family unit. His age of 18 would approximate his birth year as 1832 and, according to the ditto marks from above, in Tennessee. Although relationships are not noted, it is assumed there is a relationship and that his father’s name was also John who was born in Tennessee and his mother was Rachel who was born in North Carolina. It would also appear his family had moved from Tennessee between 1834 when his brother Thomas was born and 1836 when his sister Angeline was born. His mother and three older siblings could not read or write. Since the census instructions only asked for that information about those who were 20 or older, no determination about John’s ability to read or write can be made.

We found a bound index of marriages at the Blount County, Alabama courthouse when we visited there in 2010. Here is a photo clip of the page in the index book that shows the marriage of John Buckner, Jr. to Nancy M. Foster on February 1, 1855: MarriageIt is unclear whether the bond was signed by John Buckner, Jr. or John Buckner, Sr. Pliney Wilemon who also signed the bond was the husband of Nancy Buckner Wilemon, one of his older sisters.

The 1860 census for Fayette County, Alabama lists John and Nancy Buckner and three children:  1860 census

The family make up is consistent with an 1855 marriage – the first child was born in 1856 and would have been my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner Willis. Again John was listed as born in Tennessee, although this record would place his birth around 1834 rather than 1832. Their real property was valued at $600 and their personal property value was $400. Both John and Nancy could read and write. In their five years of marriage they had three children: Mary, William and Sarah.

I looked for records of Civil War service and a possible death of John during that time frame because I didn’t find John in an 1870 census and because I found Mrs. Nancy Buckner as a head of household in the 1866 Alabama State Census, a marriage record for Nancy Buckner to Joshua Watson in 1868, followed by an 1870 census for Joshua and Nancy Buckner Watson with four Buckner children [M.J., Rufus, Sarah and Nedora – later and combined research for the children would show their names to be Mary Jane, William Rufus, Sarah/Sallie and Medora].

I found a few records at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Further search found some muster cards that indicated he  had enlisted at the age of 30 in the Alabama 41st Infantry, Company I, under Capt. Thomas I. Abernathy on May 3, 1862. Reading about the 41st Alabama indicated a number of soldiers in that regiment died while they were still in their first few days in Tuscaloosa – apparently illnesses such as dysentery and measles took a heavy toll.  One of those early deaths was his brother, Jesse Wilson Buckner [evidenced by a claim filed by his father John Buckner].

By September 18, 1862, the muster cards state John had died of disease in Charleston, Tennessee. I have used the record below because is is the clearest of the records (the others are quite faint) even though this date states September 12 for his death; two other records state the date was the 18th of September. We have not found other records in order to provide a definitive source.John Buckner CSA clipBecause there were other John Buckners, I wanted further substantiation of his death in addition to his absence from the 1866 and 1870 censuses; I found a card at the Alabama Department of Archives and History showing his widow, Nancy M. Buckner [residing in Fayette County], filed a widow’s claim. John buckner CSA widow filingAlthough the claim was apparently rejected, her documentation and support for the claim should have contained some valuable pieces of information about their marriage, children’s birth dates, affidavits from others who knew him and of his service. Unfortunately, the copy was mailed to the Fayette County Courthouse, which was burned during the Civil War. If Nancy had a copy of it, I have not yet located a descendant who might have it.

Although the two census records we have for him indicate he was born in Tennessee, we do not know what county or town. A brief obituary for his oldest sister, EmmaLisa, stated she was born in Sevier County, Tennessee. She was born about 1818, or 14 years before John, but that provides a clue for additional searches for information. We have also found no record of his burial, which means we do not know if he was buried in Charleston, Tennessee or if his remains were returned to Fayette County.

We occasionally hear or read about our lives being what happens between the dashes [1832 -1862]. In summary, for my great-great-grandfather, John Buckner, all we know of his “between the dashes” is:

Between the Dashes

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors #3 – Mary Jane Buckner Willis

My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner, was born January 20, 1856 in Alabama as the first child of John Buckner and Nancy M. Foster. There is no specific record of her birth although I believe her birth date was listed on a family group sheet prepared by my aunt and mailed to my daughter. While its accuracy is unsubstantiated it is likely true.

Mary Jane’s parents married in Blount County, Alabama in 1855 but had likely moved to Fayette County by the time of her birth, as had several members of both the Buckner and Foster clans [Blount County land ownership maps of the time show their families were neighbors].

We have found very little surviving information about her. A marriage index and three census records comprise all we know of her life.

1860 censusThe 1860 census (above) for Fayette County, Alabama lists her as Mary (4) along with her parents and brother, William (2), and sister, Sarah (four months). It  was quite a messy process to find the next record for her life. I did not find this family as a unit in the 1870 census and had to undergo vigorous searches for clues in order to find them.

After months of searching and interpreting what I found, I was finally able to conclude that John Buckner had died in 1862 of illness during the Civil War, when Mary Jane was 6. The 1866 Alabama state census, which only lists the name of the head of household and provides tic marks for other members of the household, showed the proximity of Nancy Buckner to Joshua Watson (enumerated with his first wife still living). Her father, Anthony Edward Foster, was also enumerated in the middle of that grouping.1866 censusThe tic marks are identified as follows: the first mark on the left represents William Buckner (the 2nd is the tally showing one male in the household); the next four represent Sarah and a new daughter born after the 1860 census, Mary Jane and Nancy. The right side is again a tally: 4 females for a total household of 5. The final tic mark is for a soldier who had died of sickness in the Civil War.

Fires at the Fayette County Courthouse destroyed many records. Betty C. Wiltshire managed to assemble a partial index of marriage partners and dates and occasionally the name of the person who performed the ceremonies, which she published in a book. Some of those marriages have also been listed on a rootsweb site for Fayette County; both Nancy Foster Buckner and Mary Jane Buckner are included in those marriage listings. Following the death of his wife, Phoebe Watson, in October 1867, Joshua married Nancy Buckner in January 1868.

The 1870 census, although I found it, provides confusing and erroneous information.1870 censusMuch of the 1870 census only lists the initials of household members. Joshua Watson was listed by his full name, which enabled me to find the record. Nancy was listed by initials so it took the additional information on the four Buckner children to ascertain this was the correct family, especially when M.J. [Mary Jane] was enumerated by initials as a 12-year-old male rather than a 14-year-old female. The record also had to be combined with other records to discern that brother William’s middle name was Rufus, and that the additional daughter born following the 1860 census was Medora.

The marriage record for Mary Jane Buckner and J. F. [James Franklin] Willis states it took place in the home of Joshua Watson on July 14, 1872. The 1866 Alabama census page from which I clipped the section showing Mary Jane’s family also listed J.F.’s mother, Amy Willis with a tic mark representing J.F.; in other words, they were neighbors.

1880 censusThe 1880 census shows the household still led by Amy Willis, J.F.’s mother, as co-housekeeper with Mary Jane. By June 1880, J. F. and Mary Jane had four children: Zildia (6), Margaretta (5), John William (3) and Rufus (1).

By the 1900 census, J. F. was still living with his mother and his younger children but listed as widowed, and the 1900 census for Mary Jane’s mother, Nancy Watson Saling, supported the information that J.F. was widowed in the indication that two of Nancy’s children had died. Although Mary Jane was not listed on the 1900 census, we do learn the names of her two additional children, Hamp (my grandfather) and Tommy, born in 1881 and 1883. 1900 census JF

The birth date of Tommy along with the 1900 census gives a time period of 17 years in which Mary Jane may have died. In reaching out to Mary Jane and J.F.’s great-grandchildren, we did get a copy of some notes handwritten by one of her grandchildren, Margie Willis [1918-2012] as she reflected on her own life. Although her information was incomplete, likely gleaned from snippets she heard over the years, she said of her Grandma Willis:

Margie's notesI’ve never been able to find information on Zildia; perhaps the reference to papa’s [John William Willis] sister was an indication that Zildia had died young and was never mentioned in Margie’s hearing; I presume the sister referred to was Margaretta who died sometime between 1901 and 1910. The indication that Grandma Willis died when she delivered a daughter may be an indication there was a child born after Tommy, perhaps around 1885 or 1886, that was a daughter and may pinpoint a more precise death date for Mary Jane.

Although we have a small number of pictures of J. F., we have found no pictures of Mary Jane, no records of her death and only family tradition to identify her burial location at Old Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery, the family’s local church. We would relish hearing from anyone whose family stories and photos might shed light on the life and character of Mary Jane Buckner Willis.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

Anthony Edward Foster – 198th Anniversary of His Birth

Today is the 198th anniversary of the birth of Anthony Edward Foster who was my 3rd great-grandfather. Anthony was born in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina on November 18, 1814 to Archilles K. and Jane Blackstock Foster. After the trip my daughter and I made this summer, we know the Fosters, Blackstocks, Bobos, Ballengers, Yarbroughs and Miles all lived in the vicinity of Cross Anchors and surrounding communities near the juxtaposition of Spartanburg, Union and Lauren counties. Those surnames being together have importance in that some of each of those families moved from South Carolina to Georgia to Fayette County, Alabama in the 1830s to 1840s and continued to interact as neighbors (and ancestors to me) in a new location.

While we were in South Carolina, Kay and I were able to visit the burial location for Anthony’s grandparents, Anthony and Sarah Golding Foster, which was on their land, and is currently right beside the two-lane highway for the area. There are only three graves there – the third being Anthony’s uncle Golding Tinsley. His parents, Archilles K and Jane Blackstock moved to Georgia and then to Alabama and their burial locations are as yet unidentified.


We also visited the site where Jane’s grandparents and parents lived – the Blackstock Plantation where one of the Revolutionary War battles took place, which is probably two to three miles away, as the crow flies, although there is no direct access from the Foster place to the Blackstock place. Tradition says the Blackstocks are buried on the plantation but no markers remain.


Anthony Edward and his parents and brother, William E., moved to Hall County, Georgia sometime before his sister Polly was born in 1818. On the 28th of February 1834, Anthony married Mary King, daughter of James and Rachel King, and shortly thereafter they moved to Alabama – they were enumerated in the 1840 census in Saint Clair County as was his brother-in-law, also Anthony Foster, and his sister, Polly. By the 1840 census, they had three children: Anthony Edward Foster, Jr., born May 9, 1835 in Alabama; Sarah M. Foster born August 9, 1936 and my great-great-grandmother, Nancy M. Foster, on July 2, 1838.

I have been unable to locate an 1850 census for them, although a Foster family website states: “Anthony Edward Foster’s name appears in several records in Fayette County.  In 1850, he was listed in the census as head of household (Volume II, p. 14).” I have scrolled through every page of the Fayette County census for 1850 and was unable to locate a listing for him. I have also searched every page of the Saint Clair County and Blount County censuses as well and still have not seen one. None of the census pages on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.com are labeled as Volume/Page, but are rather listed by District or Beats and Divisions.

Between 1840 and 1850 more children were added to the Foster household: John W on March 14, 1840; Ellen V. on February 25, 1842; Mary M.or A. on October 1, 1843; James Monroe on July 20, 1845; and William Rkeles on October 18, 1847. As was the case for many of our ancestors, they lost children to early death. Their son, John, born in 1840, died May 6, 1841 – just over 13 months old.

The family relocated to Blount County sometime between 1840 and 1850.a Foster family website states about Anthony Edward: “He was a Circuit Rider Methodist Minister in the Fayette County, Alabama,* area.  He would ride his horse with his Bible in the saddle bag to rural churches to preach on weekends.  The Methodist Library at Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama, was researched for information about his ministry.  No records were found of Anthony Edward Foster; however, there were no records of any Circuit Rider Ministers.  It is assumed that Circuit Riders were not included in the Methodist Church District proceedings in those days.” Although this researcher apparently did not find documentation to support the story tradition that Anthony was a Methodist minister,on our 2010 trip to Blount county, we found his1853 ordination papers filed at the courthouse.


When I created a database of Alabama marriages, i listed the names of the officiating person, if listed. In doing so, I found many couples who were married by Anthony Edward Foster.

I found a website with Blount County plat maps, one of which shows the Foster’s land to be one farm away from the farm of the John Buckner family. This was an important piece of information since I had found it difficult to determine which Nancy had married John Foster, Jr. on Apr 1, 1855. I have cropped the pertinent section to make it easier to see their proximity – Anthony Foster’s land is in spring green almost in the center and John Buckner’s land is gray and catty-corner down to the left [Anthony’s brother, Riley Bidemous Foster, has land that abuts John Buckner’s as well as another plot to the center right (in pink)]:

ImageIn the 1850’s, another four children were added to the family, making a total of twelve: Rachael Jane on January 4, 1851; Frances Narcissa on December 28, 1852; Vienna Termelsa on December 1, 1856; and Simpson Bobo on March 5, 1858 – Simpson only lived about seven weeks, dying on June 28, 1858.

During these same years, some of their children came of age and married, as mentioned earlier, my grandmother Nancy in 1855; Ellen V. married Josiah Anderson on November 3, 1858. I have so far been unable to track either Anthony Edward Junior or Sarah to adulthood.

Their first known grandchild was my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner, born on January 20, 1856. Additional grandchildren were William Rufus Buckner born in March 1858, Sarah M. ‘Sallie’ Buckner in March 1859, and Medora Buckner in June 1860.

On March 1, 1860, Anthony purchased 78.47 acres of land while he was still a resident of Blount County.


The 1860 census, enumerated effective June 1, lists the family in Fayette County: Anthony and Mary and the children from Mary to Vienna:


Their daughter, Mary married William Leander Miles on January 7, 1861.Ellen and Josiah provided Anthony and Mary with another grandchild, William Anderson born on June 7, 1861 followed by daughter Mary and William Miles bringing granddaughter Mary Frances Miles into the world on June 29, 1862.

By 1862 the world in Alabama was changing drastically as the Civil War became a reality. Their son-in-laws, Josiah Anderson and John Buckner, joined with many of the young men of Fayette County and enlisted in the Confederate Army’s 41st Infantry in Captain Abernathy’s unit – Josiah on May 30 and John the day after Mary Frances was born, June 30. John died in Tennessee on September 18, 1862 and Josiah died in Atlanta, Georgia on November 1 – Anthony and Mary’s daughter, Nancy, was a widow with four children and Ellen was a widow with one son.

Mary and William Miles  had another daughter, Melissa Jane ‘Mollie’, on May 30, 1866 and their daughter Mary died less than six weeks later on July 6.Son William Rkeles married Rebecca Moore on November 15, 1866. Daughter Ellen remarried to Benjamin McClure in 1867, William and Rebecca had a son, William Thomas in 1867 and Nancy married her recently widowed neighbor, Joshua Watson, on January 12, 1868.Anthony and Mary’s son, James Monroe married Martha Mary ‘Louiza’ Thompson on February 6, 1868 and Rachel Jane married John Whitt Dodson, also in 1868.

Although Benjamin and Ellen did not have more children, Joshua and Nancy did; their son Joshua Watson was born November 4, 1868, followed by James and Louiza’s son, Orlando Jefferson born December 8, 1868.

Frances Narcissa married Francis W. McClure on January 26, 1869. William and Rebecca had Virginia Idella Foster on  April 29, 1869 and James and Louiza had daughter, Ellen Eolysta on October 13, 1870.

The 1870 census shows a bit of the changing dynamics of their family. Anthony and Mary had two daughters still at home – Rachael Jane and Vienna Termelsa – and they also had their granddaughters, Mary Frances and Melissa Miles, living with them. The Civil War had also been responsible for the death of my great-grandfather James Franklin Willis’ half-brother, Jabez G. Willis, and his widow Mary Priscilla Middleton Willis had married Mary Foster Miles’ widower, William Leander Miles and most censuses continued to show Mary Frances and Melissa living with family members other than their father and Mary Priscilla.


Mary King Foster died on December 8, 1871. An obituary was provided to the Nashville Christian Advocate, a Methodist periodical that appeared February 17, 1872; it said: ” MARY FOSTER d/o James and Rachel King; w/o Rev. Anthony Foster, born Spartanburg Dist., S.C. 1815; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. Dec. 8, 1871; mother of twelve children.”

It has long been a confusing issue that Mary’s death date on her head stone is December 8, 1872 yet Anthony Edward remarried Louisa J. Edwards on November 28, 1872 – two weeks before Mary’s death. Everyone recognized a problem but had no good answers for the discrepancy. As I was putting this together, I noticed the obituary appeared ten months before her listed 1872 death – the logical answer to this issue is that Mary died in December 1871 rather than 1872; by the time the magazine could be published with her obituary it was the middle of February 1872.

More grandchildren arrived during the 1870s:

Oliver Foster was born in 1871 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; William Columbus ‘Willie’ McClure was born in July 1871 to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Mary Myrtle ‘Molly’ Foster born December 18, 1872 to James Monroe and Martha ‘Mary’ Louiza; Frances Etta Watson was born April 1, 1872 to Nancy and Joshua Watson; Mary Annie Foster born in 1874 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; Mary ‘Mollie’ Nancy McClure November 9, 1874 born to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Maca ‘Mackie’ Jane Foster was born May 1876 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; John Anthony Foster born August 1, 1876 to James Monroe and Martha ‘Mary’ Louiza; Walter William Watson born in 1876 to Nancy and Joshua Watson; Gwen Victoria ‘Babe’ McClure born in 1878 to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Daugherty Watson born in 1879 to Nancy and Joshua Watson;

And another marriage – Vienna married C. M. Moore in March 1871. In addition, Anthony Edward and his new wife, Louiza, added two more children to the original twelve siblings: Livingston A. Foster born March 16, 1874 and Cena E.Foster born on May 15, 1875. In addition, their first grandchild, my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner, married James Franklin Willis on July 14, 1872 in the home of her mother and stepfather, Nancy and Joshua Watson.

Great-grandchildren born during the decade of the 1870s were: Zelda Willis in 1873; Margaretta Willis in 1874; John William Willis in 1877; and Rufus Braxton Willis in 1878.

The decade of the 1880s brought more grandchildren: Maggie Foster was born March 4, 1880 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza; James A. Cameron Watson was born after the 1880 census to Nancy and Joshua Watson; John Winston McClure was born May 28, 1881 to Francis and Frances McClure; Effie was born to Vienna and Cornelius Moore in 1881; Elbert Lee Dodson was born September 19, 1881 to Rachel Jane and John Whitt Dodson; Mattie Tiercy Foster was born January 30, 1883 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza; Mary was born to Vienna and Cornelius Moore in 1883; and Dora Alice Foster was born September 15, 1885 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza.

There were also more great-grandchildren: my grandfather, Zedic Hamilton Willis born in 1881, and Thomas Richard Willis in 1883. Their second grandson, William Rufus Buckner married A. J. Collins on April 1, 1883 and produced three more great-grandchildren:  John Howard Buckner in 1884; an as-yet-unidentified great-granddaughter born about 1885, and Guy Sylvester Buckner born in 1889 after Anthony Edward’s death.

On October 7, 1885, Anthony Edward Foster died. He was buried next to his wife, Mary, at Mount Vernon Methodist Cemetery.


Even though both Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster were dead, the generations continued: James Horace Dodson was born March 15, 1886 to Rachel Jane and John Whitt Dodson and Zada Foster was born to James Monroe and Mary Louiza on September 12, 1888. And, of course, many of those grandchildren married and produced more great-grandchildren – and the family goes on and on.

The Joy of the Hunt

It’s a good thing I enjoy solving puzzles and tracking down minute details because that is clearly what it takes to answer questions of family history and lineage. There are any number of difficulties or crazinesses in historical records that can stymie a search. Problems as seemingly insignificant as spelling and penmanship; or use of first names, middle names and nicknames in censuses from one year to the next; or moving from location to location; or misrepresented birth dates/ages can make the search more difficult.

I’ve been searching for information on my great-grandmother’s brother, William Rufus Buckner, off and on for a couple of years. I’ve had a particularly difficult time finding information on him even though I’d discovered him early on in Wise County, Texas in the 1910 census. Because Ancestry.com searches broadly in terms of surnames, ages and locations, you can sometimes find records you wouldn’t otherwise pick up. On the other hand, because it’s so broad you often have too many to take the time to look through. Heritage Quest searches way too specifically [not even an option for a wildcard] and there is no way to account for those flukes in spelling, age or location other than in specific searches, many of which you could not even hazard a guess.

What I had learned about William Rufus Buckner during the past couple of years from multiple sources was:

He was born in about 1858 as the second child of John and Nancy M. Foster Buckner [as to the search for verification as to who Nancy was, see previous blogs on Surname Saturday – Buckner nee Foster and Follow Up Buckner nee Foster.

1860 census for John & Nancy Buckner and Mary, William and Sarah

His father had joined Company I of the 41stAlabama Infantry and died in Tennessee as a result of illness. Some men have 12 and more status cards in their files while John only has five, one of which is made out for James, but since the information is generally the same as that for John, the archival people have filed it with John. Even the cards have differing information on them; two (one Jno, usual abbreviation for John, and one Jas) indicate he died September 18, 1862 while one (John) states September 12, 1862, although all three have the location as Charleston, Tennessee. A transcription of a card that is not visible on Footnote is available at the Alabama Department of Archives and History website shows Nancy filed for a widow’s pension. There was a similar notation on the card for John’s brother, Jesse W. Buckner, that John Buckner, father, had filed a claim (which had been mailed to Blount County). BH Williams was the probate judge for Fayette County at the time, presumably a copy of the documentation would have been at the courthouse had it not burned. I had hoped to see application papers when we visited, but nothing was available, apparently both claims for monetary support were denied, perhaps because both deaths were from illness rather than battle injuries.At the time of the 1866 Alabama Census, he and his mother and three siblings [Mary Jane, Sarah and Medora] lived in the vicinity of his grandparents [Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster]; uncle, Anthony Edward Foster; future brother-in-law, James Franklin Willis; and long-time neighbor Joshua Watson and his family. A website listing Fayette County marriages listed a marriage for Nancy Buckner to Joshua Watson in 1868 and cemetery records confirmed the death of his wife Phoebe in 1867. The 1870 census listed Joshua and Nancy and four Buckner children plus their first child, John B. Watson. As usual, there was a dilemma with that record. Mary Jane, who would have been a 14-year-old female at the time, was listed as M.J., a 12-year-old male, but since Mary Jane married two years later in the home of Joshua Watson, there did seem to be a connection between them.

1870 Census, Joshua & Nancy Watson with John B. Watson, M.J., R., S.M. & Nedora Buckner

I had a difficult time finding any record on the family for quite some time, but eventually found a census record for Holly Springs, Mississippi that showed Joshua and Nancy and their son, John B. Watson, plus three additional Watson children born after June of 1870. Mary Jane had married James Franklin Willis by that time, but the remaining Buckner children were also there in Holly Springs having been listed by the census enumerator as Rufus Watson, Sarah Watson and Dora Watson, which was why I’d been unable to locate them. I’d been unable to locate Nancy because the enumerator had listed her age as 60 instead of 42.

1880 Census - Joshua & Nancy, Rufus, Sarah, Dora, John, Etta, Walter and Daugherty Watson

With the discovery of a marriage record for William R. Buckner and Martha Ann Holliman for 1892 I was then able to track him to Wise County, Texas in 1910 with two children, Grover C. and Lona Belle.

1910 Census - William R. & Martha A. Buckner with Grover C. and Lona B. Buckner in Wise County, Texas.

So far, the listings for William Rufus had been: William Buckner for the 1860 census; R. Buckner for the 1870 census and Rufus Watson for the 1880 census. The 1910 census was for William R. Buckner with a wife named Martha A. Buckner who had been married 17 years [corresponding to the 1892 marriage record] and had two children. The bad news for that is that it makes the searching more difficult; the good news is I picked up both first and middle names for him in the process.

After many searches, I finally located a 1930 census for Rufus in Oklahoma where he was living with a son I didn’t know about – Vester. This listing was for Rufus R. Buckner. This son’s age would put his birth at about 1888, which was four years before the marriage of Rufus and Martha Ann, which led me to a further search of Fayette County marriages.

1930 Census - Vester Buckner with his family, father-in-law, and father, Rufus R. Buckner in Tillman County, Oklahoma.

I, of course, now had a time frame for the death of Martha Ann – before 1930. I searched for and found an earlier marriage between Rufus Buckner and A. J. Collins that took place in 1883 in Fayette County, Alabama. The fact that Rufus married again by 1892 would indicate A. J. died before that time and that Vester was the child of Rufus and A.J. I found no other records for Vester Buckner. However, by tracking the children in that 1930 record, I found other records that added the initials G. S. to Vester’s name – I thought Vester could be short for Sylvester but I found nothing to support that. With the 1890 census being burned, the 1900 census for Rufus would certainly be a help in adding to what I knew about him.

Last month I found evidence of some Buckner burials in the Frederick Cemetery in Frederick, Oklahoma; unfortunately, when I sought to find them on the transcription of that cemetery, all names from Br to the Cs were missing. I sent an email to the website administrator who said she was a new administrator but would ask the previous administrator. That person looked and was surprised to find my observation to be correct and he supplied me with an Excel spreadsheet of the missing people where I found not only the Buckner people I was looking for, but I found that elusive Rufus Buckner listed as well. Although I didn’t find his wife, Martha, I was a little suspicious that a Mary Ann Buckner who died in 1929 [before the 1930 census] and buried near him might be worth a closer look. My daughter, Kay, and I took a trip to Wise County, Texas and over to Tillman County, Oklahoma in April to see what records and burials we might find. We found the headstone for Rufus to be a double headstone with his wife, Mary Ann – back to that confusing use of nicknames. Apparently any number of females with names beginning with ‘M’ went by Mary, while those whose name was actually Mary often went by Polly or Molly [or Pollie or Mollie].

Rufus and Mary Buckner headstone

Yesterday I decided to return to the Heritage Quest site and search for the first name of William in both Oklahoma and Texas. Obviously there were going to be a lot of Williams in Texas – too many to look at as well as the possibility of having to search for Wm, Rufus or a combination of initials. I set limiters of an age range and being born in Alabama and hoped the census enumerators had been reasonably accurate for a change. I began by selecting Williams who lived in Wise County, Texas and found a William R. Ruckner. I was rewarded with a correct hit on that one. Even though Ancestry.com searches broadly, it would never have tried a substitution of Ruckner for Buckner, even though they rhyme.

This record provided verification that the 1930 census relationship with Vester was a correct one because the 1900 census listed a son born about 1888 – Guy S. Buckner [further research found Guy Sylvester Buckner in the California death index], along with Grover C. and Lone B. Buckner [close enough for the spelling capacity and/or penmanship of the census enumerators]. There was also a bonus of another son I hadn’t yet discovered, John H. Buckner, born about 1884 – a whole new thread to pull.

1900 Census - William R. & Martha A. Ruckner and John H., Guy S., Grover C. and Lone B.

Although that record gave me new information and corroboration, it also created more questions. For example, to the question “Mother of how many children,” Martha Ann answered 5 and noted that all 5 were still living. Based on marriage records, only two of the four listed children should be Martha’s and since the marriage record listed her under her maiden name it is not likely she had three children from a previous marriage who weren’t living with her. On the other hand, since A. J. died when her sons were quite young and Martha would have been their mother for eight years, she may well have responded to the question in terms of caretaking. However, it’s more difficult to wipe away their response as to the length of their marriage – 18 years instead of the 8 expected from their marriage record. Based on what I’ve seen of enumerator’s accuracy in census records, perhaps Martha or Rufus replied eight years to the question, but since the oldest child was sixteen, the enumerator decided he must have not heard the whole answer and filled in logically with eighteen. Fortunately, I have the 1910 census that indicates their marriage was  of 17 years’ duration rather than the 28 I might have expected if I hadn’t had the 1892 marriage record along with the 1910 listing of years of marriage.

After yesterday’s find of the 1900 record I have a new child I was unaware of to research. Additionally, any way I look at it, I’m still missing a fifth child who was alive at least as long as 1900, one most likely born between 1885 and 1891. Fortunately, I really enjoy the hunt itself, so back to work.