In which we beat the bushes for a collateral relative in hopes of finding our way past a brick wall!
One of my big brick walls has been getting past my great-grandfather Richard Gines. [Another challenge I have is getting my voice recognition software to recognize that surname!] To deal with this brick wall I’ve been looking for collateral relatives all around Grandpa Dick. In the course of doing that I’ve turned up some names that I can’t quite place.
Recently I found in the Louisiana State Archives a death certificate for one Egans Gines. I had not come across this name any place else before. So I went hunting for him in the census records, first to no avail. Then I did find in the Shreveport city directory for 1945-46 a person listed as “Eggens” Gines, most likely the same person. But that’s the only reference I found to Egan Gines anywhere.
The death certificate tells us that he was born on August 29, 1872, in St. Joseph, Louisiana. St. Joseph is in Tensas Parish, a place where I haved found the surname Gines before. So I looked once again at the census records for Tensas Parish and once again, no Egans Gines. So let’s see what else we might glean from the death certificate. Well, he lived in Shreveport, Caddo Parish, for a while; but, again, the only reference in Caddo parish is that entry in the Shreveport city directory.
The death certificate lists Egans’ mother as Julia Turner. The next step then is to find either a Julia Turner or a Julia Gines in Tensas Parish.
Keep in mind that if she was married to a man named Gines in 1872, then we may have a very narrow window of time to find her in the census records as Julia Turner. That’s because most African-Americans were not listed by name in the census until 1870.
As it happens, Julia Turner appears on the 1870 census of Tensas Parish as a 10-year old. She’s with her parents, Jeff Turner, age 50, and Caroline Turner, age 36, and four siblings. I should say that these people are her “apparent family” for the reason that, as we all know, the 1870 census did not show relationships. They live in the prosaically named village of Waterproof, Louisiana.
This census record, if it is referring to our Julia Turner, makes apparent that either she is not the [two year old] mother of Egans Gines born in 1872, or he wasn’t born in 1872.
How does one resolve this dilemma?
I would stick, at the outset, with the working hypothesis that she is the mother of Egan, but that the death certificate is likely in error. If I develop further leads along this path, I can pursue them; if not, I’ll shift to a different hypothesis.
One factor in my thinking here is that although the census may be wrong about her age, it is more likely to be less wrong than the death certificate. Did you follow that?
The census record of Julia’s age was made by people who saw her, knew her, and overall had a better opportunity to judge her age. The death certificate record of Egans’ age was made decades after the fact by someone we don’t know anything about [more on that in this specific case later], who may not have known him well, or at all; whose memory may have faded or been clouded by the stress of the moment. So we continnue on the notion that Julia Turner is the mother of Egans Gines.
I spent some more time rooting around in the census records, and find that in 1880, Julia is still living with her parents and even more siblings. Her age is given as 16. There is no evidence that she has any baby, not to mention an 8 year old [which is how old Egans would be if he was really born in 1872].
A further search of census records turns up no more evidence of our Julia Turner.
So now we might seek evidence of a marriage of Julia to a man named Gines or direct evidence of her having given birth to a child named Egans Gines.
In several Louisiana marriage databases, we find a couple of possibilities. In January 1875, a Julia Ann Turner was married to Moses Jenkins in Tensas Parish. Our Julia Turner would have been either 11 or 15 years old, based on the census records. In May 1879, Julia Turner married Edward Palmer in Tensas Parish. Our Julia would have been about 15 or 19 at that time. This is one is a little more plausible than the first. But it doesn’t help because what of the Gines surnamed-baby? And what of the fact that the 1880 census shows her with her parents under her maiden name?
Neither of the last-asked questions above should be too difficult to explain and still find one of even both these marriages to have been our Julia. Noting for a moment that the 1870 census shows two Julia Turners, and that the “other” one plausibly could be marrying in 1879 at least, we’ll keep this information handy.
One way to test the idea that any of the Julia Turners is the our Julia Turner (in the absence of a marriage license or a birth certificate for the child Egans) would be to find her in the census with the child.
We make a discovery in the 1900 census. Living in Tensas Parish then is one Julia Gines with a birthdate of September 1860. [This takes a little work to verify, since the transcriptions at the usual places are horribly mangled!]
This Julia Gines is a widow with three sons, none being Egans. But we’re pretty sure this is the same Julia Turner we encountered earlier because the birthdate fits and the places of her parents’ nativities also fit. Somewhere between 1880 and 1900, she got married, had children, and lost her husband.
So where is Egans in 1900? Or for that matter, where is Egans anytime from his birth to his death?
In fact, where is Egans after his death? The death certificate says he was buried in Fairfield Cemetery in Shreveport. I’m told by a knowledgeable source that the cemetery no longer exists–there is an apartment complex on the site.
Coming soon: The Round-About Way Around Collaterals to your Brickwall–more on the Egans Gines case study.
Then: Some of the Plantations and Slave Owners of Tensas Parish, Louisiana
May 16, 2009 Saturday at 7:55 pm