Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Cluster Genealogy

 
Hector Davis (1842-1925) & Lucy Milam Davis (1846-1927)

In genealogy research, cluster genealogy is a technique that has proven to yield great results. This technique involves researching beyond your core family or your direct ancestors. Cluster genealogy entails researching the community where they resided, especially their immediate neighbors. This is also known as researching an ancestor’s F.A.N. Club. F.A.N. stands for Friends, Associates, and Neighbors. This methodology has helped me tremendously throughout my research. I will demonstrate one of my cluster genealogy cases that involved my great great grandparents, Hector & Lucy Davis.

Let’s take a look at the 1910 Panola County, Mississippi census page (transcribed below) that contained Grandpa Hector and Grandma Lucy. Immediately, you will notice that they were not the only folks with the Davis surname on that page. Notice that their next-door neighbor was a Johnson family, headed by Wesley Johnson. Like Grandpa Hector, his birthplace was also recorded as being South Carolina. Also, the elderly Mitchells, who are white, lived in the vicinity among all of the Davises, in household no. 12. Like Grandpa Hector and Wesley, Mrs. Martha Mitchell was also born in South Carolina. The following table below shows household nos. 12 to 23 and the connection to my great great grandparents. I have called this area “Davis Village,” which comprised of 56 members of my maternal grandmother’s family when the census-taker visited the area on April 15, 1910. She was a small child at the time. Other family members lived nearby on a different road.


Household
Relationship
Age
My Comment
12
Mitchell, Clint W.
Head
64


     “     Martha A.
Wife
73
She was born in So. Carolina.
13
Davis, Hugh
Head
25
Hector’s nephew & Lucy’s nephew

     “     Francis
Wife
20


     “     Bertha
Daughter
4


     “     Alice
Daughter
3


     “     Ada
Daughter
1

14
Davis, John
Head
39
My great grandfather

     “     Mary
Wife
40


     “     John W.
Son
17


     “     Ollie
Son
15


     “     Jesse
Son
13


     “     James
Son
11


     “     May Ella
Daughter
9


     “     Fred
Son
7


     “     Pearl
Daughter
5


     “     Rainey
Son
3


     “     Minnie
Daughter
1
My grandmother
15
Davis, John Anna
Head
21
Hector’s niece & Lucy’s niece

     “     Lilian
Cousin
15

16
Davis, Shep
Head
27
Hector’s nephew & Lucy’s nephew

     “     Mittie
Wife
25


     “     Orna
Son
7


     “     Homer
Son
5


     “     Shirley
Daughter
3


     “     Lucille
Daughter
1 mth

17
Davis, Sam
Head
37
Hector & Lucy Davis’ son

     “     Texana
Wife
34

18
Davis, Tom
Head
25
Hector & Lucy Davis’ son

     “     Henrietta
Wife
26


     “     Lucious
Son
6 mos


Partee, Minnie
Sister-in-law
16


     “     Druella
Sister-in-law
14


     “     Edna
Sister-in-law
11


     “     Square
Brother-in-law
7

19
Davis, Zack
Head
26
Hector & Lucy Davis’ son

     “     Lizzie
Wife
26


     “     Leroy
Son
5


     “     Luberta
Daughter
1

20
(white Cook Family)



21
Davis, Hector
Head
68
My great great grandparents

     “     Lucy
Wife
64


     “     Alex
Son
20


     “     Sam
Grandson
9


Edwards, Ben
Grandson
3

22
Johnson, Whesley
Head
56
Hector’s first cousin born in So. Carolina

     “     Evaline
Wife
55


     “     Fannie
Daughter
25


     “     Mack
Son
20


     “     Eugenia
Daughter
12


     “     Evaline
Granddaughter
9


     “     Mary J.
Granddaughter
6

23
Burton, John
Head
36


     “     Evaline
Wife
36
Cousin Wesley Johnson’s daughter

     “     Bertha
Daughter
13


     “     Hattie
Daughter
9


     “     John W.
Son
7


     “     McClinton
Son
5


     “     Oscar
Son
2

Source: Portion of 1910 U.S. Census, Beat 1, Panola County, Mississippi. Line 37-100. Year: 1910; Census Place: Beat 1, Panola, Mississippi; Roll: T624_755; Family History Film: 1374768; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0054. Source: Ancestry.Com.

Wesley Johnson and Grandpa Hector Davis were first cousins. I’ll first discuss how I found out about this connection. Back in 1993, when I started actively researching at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), I found my great grandparents’ marriage record. My maternal grandmother’s parents, John Hector Davis and Mary Danner, had married on January 7, 1892, in Panola County, Mississippi. I noticed that a man named Wesley Johnson was Grandpa John’s bondsman. John Davis and Wesley Johnson went to the Panola County courthouse, and Grandpa John took out a bond, indicating his intention to marry Grandma Mary and that the pending marriage was legal. Wesley Johnson signed his mark as Grandpa John’s security on the bond. During this time, I learned that bondsmen were often family members.


The marriage record of John Davis and Mary Danner, Jan. 7, 1892, Panola County, Mississippi

When I saw the name Wesley Johnson, I suddenly remembered that I had seen that name before. Then, I remembered that Wesley was a next-door neighbor to Grandpa John’s parents, Hector & Lucy Davis, in the 1910 U.S. Census. So I picked up the phone and called my late grandmother’s first cousin, the late Cousin Sammie Lee Davis Hayes. She was in her 80s and was very knowledgeable about the family history. She also enjoyed talking about it. Cousin Sammie Lee revealed to me that Wesley Johnson, whom she called Cut'n Wesley (Cut’n as a southern slang for Cousin), was a first cousin to my great great grandfather, Hector Davis. She conveyed the following, “Cut’n Wesley and Grandpa Hector were very close, just like brothers, but they were first cousins. He came with them from South Carolina. I don’t know how they come to be first cousins.”

I was soon able to figure out that the last enslavers of Grandpa Hector Davis, his parents, Jack & Flora Davis, his siblings, and other family members, including Cousin Wesley Johnson, were a couple named John & Anna Johnson Burnett. “Ain’t Gonna Take Massa’s Name” is my 2012 blog post that outlines that discovery. The Burnetts had transported them to Panola County, Mississippi around 1860/61, when he and his family decided to leave Abbeville County, South Carolina. They had resided in an area that was halfway between Abbeville and Greenwood, South Carolina. John died shortly thereafter, in 1863, and Grandpa Hector, his parents, his siblings, Cousin Wesley, and others were appraised on the slave inventory of his estate (shown in the aforementioned blog post). One of his children was Martha Burnett. She married a man named Clinton Mitchell. They were the same Mitchells who lived among my Davis ancestors in 1910, approximately 45 years after slavery.

Family elders also shared with me that Grandpa Hector Davis owned his own land. My cousin recalled that he had around 80 acres. They were accurate! Column 26 of the 1910 U.S. Census recorded if the head of household owned (O) or rented (R) his home. “O” was recorded for Grandpa Hector! “O” was also recorded for Clinton Mitchell. “R” was recorded for the rest in “Davis Village.” Although I haven’t found a land record yet, I highly suspect that Grandpa Hector may have been able to purchase a piece of the Burnetts’ land, where he labored during slavery shortly after being transported to northern Mississippi from South Carolina.

Below is a map pointing to the area where they lived in 1910, based on accounts from family elders. One of those family elders was another one of my grandmother’s first cousins, the late William Davis, who lived in the vicinity when I first visited him in 1993, shortly after those first trips to the MDAH. A descendant of John Burnett had also shared with me that John Burnett’s farm was located on the Tate-Panola County line but on the Tate County side. I realized that this was in the same area where “Davis Village” was located in 1910, but on the other side of the road in Panola County. Also, notice that the name of the road is Mitchell Road, likely named after Clinton & Martha Burnett Mitchell. 


Panola County, Mississippi

Performing cluster genealogy enabled me to learn these important tidbits about Grandpa Hector Davis’ history. That 1910 census page alone tells a story. Grandpa Hector died fifteen years later, on July 7, 1925. Family elders shared that his mule named Jenny had kicked him in the head, and he died instantly. He was approximately 83 years old. Indeed, his death certificate (below) verified the cause of death. My great grandfather, John Hector Davis, was the informant.

Grandpa Hector Davis’ death certificate: The cause of death was noted as “Kicked by mule in head; died with concussion of the brain.”

13 comments:

  1. Is that a plat map you are using? Or is that recreated from family history?

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    1. Great post and very informative. I like the F.A.N. Club approach. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Excellent and helpful, as always, cousin!!!

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  3. Thanks, Mel! My peeps came from the same county and I'd love to get a coy of that plat map for the whole county! Please enlighten me! I always admire your work!

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  4. I use this method faithfully, I live in Greenwood if you ever need anything let me know I would be glad to help.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this helpful information

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  6. Interesting story. I have also seen other family surnames at the bottom of an ancestors census page. Wow, sooo many towns in MS that I have never heard of. My family is from Monroe County, Aberdeen, Amory and Lee.

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  7. I apologize if this comment is posted twice. I found your blog researching my husband's family history. He is a descendant of Clarissa Thompson Bobo born 1829 in South Carolina according to census records. She was married to Philip Clinkscales. I wonder if this is the same Clarissa Bobo in your family. Genealogy is very new to me and I am glad to find your blog. You are doing a lot of great work here.

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  8. I tried using this method to break a brick wall for a 3x g grandmother, but think that possibly I'll have to go through the entire censuses that she appears in to locate any of her siblings or potentially her parents.

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  9. I just ran across your blog this morning while trying to find an example case for county line issues for a class I'm working on. Wonderful post! I love how far you've extended the FAN club and how useful it has been for you with this family!

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  10. How do you "connect" your FAÑ club to a person in your family tree without adding them to your tree. I found the name of the undertaker on a death certificate but don't know how to manage the information in Ancestry.

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