Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Tale of the Tidwells: Reading between the Lines

You should always read and re-read any document you receive. Once you find a death certificate, a marriage certificate, or military draft registration, read it to learn the pertinent information of course, such as the date of birth, date of death, interment date, cemetery name, and surname of the departed, but also make a note of the informants, witnesses, and officiants. If you don't thoroughly examine these documents you could be missing some key family members, and vital information about the people who affected your family's life.

Recently, I was helping a DNA cousin I met through grow her family tree, and she had  already found a lot of the necessary documents. She had death certificates, and marriage certificates, for North Carolina, which had the names of the parents of both the bride and groom right on them, but she had overlooked them! When I pointed them out to her she was amazed! We were able to bring her tree back four generations, along with some additional information, including maiden names of her grandmothers.

Such is the case of my great great grandparents Millard and Carrie Elliott Tidwell, I was happy to find their actual marriage certificate free on but when I first reviewed it, I wondered who was Joe Bragg, security?  When I read further, I also noticed J.E. Tidwell certified, that he "solemnized the rites" and published the "Banns of matrimony."

I know now, that J.E. or James Edgar Tidwell the officiant was my second great Uncle, but I dismissed Joe Bragg at first, glance. Why?

Most of us get so caught up when tracing a direct family line that we ignore the lines in-between. That is what autosomal DNA testing does for us it forces us to read between the lines. Autosomal DNA tests your direct paternal line, your direct maternal line and each family line in-between. Each census year that my Tidwell family is found in Arkansas from 1870 Clay, Bradley to the 1940's in Fordyce, Arkansas they also lived in close proximity to Bragg family's. No wonder I have so many Bragg family matches! But, who were they? It wasn't until DNA testing that I confirmed there even was a relationship.

You should always read the actual census records too, because most likely your families neighbors are your families family. In the1940 census, Joe Bragg born in 1877 lived in Fordyce, Arkansas on Bowers Street. He worked as a Laborer who owned his own home and had received a second grade education, within his household besides his wife Josie, lived his daughter Joe Ada age twenty-three years. He and J.E. Tidwell were neighbors, James Edgar is enumerated as a Baptist Minister living with his second wife Mable and one son Andrew Tidwell age 24.

Joe Bragg married Josie McKinney on the 10th day of May in 1905. Josie was the daughter of Alfred and Nancy McKinney. On AncestryDNA I have a double cousin who traces to Alfred and Nancy, His McKinney family also married Tidwell's. Also below, you will see that a man enumerated as white in the 1930 census of Fordyce, Arkansas officiated at their ceremony his name was Lawrence Eugene Purdy . He is also related, but that's the subject of another blog.

So now who is Joe Bragg's parents? Prior to his marriage a single Joseph Bragg aged twenty-three, along with a twenty-two year of age Minden Willis lived in the household of their Aunt Tennessee Bragg aged forty, who never married and whose estimated birth was between 1851-1860 born in March. Living right next door to her were my great great grandparents Andrew (enumerated as Tony) and Evaline Tidwell. In 1900, my great grandfather Millard Tidwell still lived at home, and he and Joseph "Joe" Bragg were about the same age.

Now that we know that Tennessee Bragg was Joe Bragg's Aunt then who was the male sibling of Tennessee Bragg who fathered Joe Bragg? Well, if we follow Tennessee Bragg back to 1880 we find her living in the household of  William D. Cox and his wife Augusta Bragg Cox. Tennessee is enumerated as the sister-in-law of William D. Cox. Not much evidence of Tennessee's parents here but it does explain a relationship between Augusta Cox and Tennessee Bragg, because in the 1870 census although no relationships are provided we see this:

Tennessee Bragg lives in the household of Sterling Bragg born 1810, Sterling is my third great grandfather. A few doors away live William Cox and Augusta Bragg. So now we have suspected evidence of the paternity of Tennessee Bragg and Augusta Bragg, but what about Joe Bragg? When we come back to the 1880 census, we see a seventy year old Sterling Tidwell head-of-household to six other people including a four year old male enumerated as his grandson Minesal or Minden Willis, who upon further investigation proves to be the son of his daughter Amanda Bragg and Quitman Willis married 16 December 1875. Also, a daughter of this union granddaughter Carrie Willis  also lives in his home.

Next door to Sterling lives a forty year old male who is not obviously found in the 1870 census. Although his household almost mirrors the household of another man George Bragg born 1840, who is found in the 1870 census residing in the same place that this man resides in 1880. Are they the same person?  His name is Marian Bragg born1840, and he is enumerated as head-of household to six other people including:

The Family of Marian Bragg in1880

  1. Josephine (wife)
  2. Altheus (son) b. 1870
  3. Melvin (son) b. 1871
  4. Evenara (daughter) b. 1872
  5. Evangaline (daughter) b. 1874
  6. Jo L (son) < born 1876
So in conclusion, if Joe Bragg is the son of Marian Bragg and/or George Bragg born 1840 who is the cousin of Millard Tidwell my great grandfather. Then George and/or Marian Bragg is also the son of Sterling Bragg born 1810 who married Sarah LNU.  Sterling Bragg is the father of Agnes Bragg born 1820 my great great great grandmother who married William Faulkner.   Marian or George Bragg then would be my fourth great Uncle and his son Joe Bragg my first cousin four times removed.  There will be more substantiating evidence to follow.  Please follow me on this.