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A family mystery: who was Myrtie Law… and what happened to her?

On New Year’s Day, 1880, Sarah Jane Cottrell married Aaron C. Henson in Parker County, Texas.1 Sarah Jane was the younger sister of my great grandfather, Martin Gilbert Cottrell; they were among the five known children of George Washington and Martha Louisa (Baker) Cottrell.2

The Henson newlyweds were enumerated in the 1880 census in Parker County, living in the household between his parents and her parents.3

Sarah Jane's marker

Insert appropriate snarling, growling, wailing and gnashing of teeth over the loss of the 1890 census, and fast forward to the only other item I have at this point that documents Sarah Jane’s existence: her tombstone, in Wichita County, Texas, in a plot owned one-half by Aaron and one-half by her brother, my great grandfather Martin. The stone records her date of birth as 11 March 1858 and her date of death as 17 June 1898.4

But there is one thing more we think we know about Sarah Jane. We think she had a daughter. And that presents the family history mystery I’m struggling with today.

Aaron Henson remarried in May 1900 to Callie Helton.5 The Hensons remained in Wichita County, where Aaron died on 13 January 1927.6 In his will, executed in 1917 and probated in 1927, Aaron said that he left only $1000 to his “daughter Myrtie Law” since she had received a settlement in the year 1900.7

Now I know that a Mertie or Myrtie Henson married C.D. Robinson on 20 March 1900 in Wichita County, Texas.8 Charles and Mertie Robinson were recorded on the 1900 census in Wichita County.9 Not a sure bet, of course, since Texas marriage records didn’t list parents’ identities, but it would sure make sense that Aaron would have settled some sum of money on the daughter of his first marriage when that daughter married — and just before his own second marriage.

But… and there’s always a but, isn’t there? … it’s not an exact match. Aaron was born in Kentucky; Mertie Robinson’s father was recorded in the 1900 census as born in Texas. Aaron and Sarah Jane had no children in the 1880 census (remember, it had an enumeration date of 1 June 188010 and was actually recorded, according to the census page, on 2 June11); Mertie Robinson was recorded in 1900 as born in May 1880. True, Wichita County wasn’t exactly densely populated in 190012 and there were only two Henson families in the whole county,13 but there’s still a real risk of making an unfounded “same name therefore same person” assumption. And it’s not a lot of help anyway since both Charles and Mertie (Henson) Robinson are gone by 1910. No clue as to their whereabouts.

At some point between 1900 and 1917, when Aaron wrote the will, his daughter Myrtie had to have married someone named Law. Can’t find a death record for Charles Robinson that would have freed that Myrtie to marry again. Can’t find a marriage record in Texas for a Myrtie Robinson or for Myrtie Henson or for a Law marrying a Myrtie or Myrtle or… And talk about striking out — I can’t even find a decent candidate attached to even the worst reasoned, least documented personal family tree on Ancestry.

The only information anyone in the Henson family has is no more than a vague recollection of being told that Myrtie had lived in Oklahoma and had a son. There was a Myrtie Law in Caddo County, Oklahoma, in 1920, married to a Frank Law. The age and birthplace are close — this Myrtie was born around 1883 in Texas. And she had a young son, Raymond, age 6.14 Only one hitch: members of this Law family report that their Myrtie’s full maiden name was Edith Myrtie Hamilton. And the only good candidate Myrtle or Myrtie Law in the 1930 census — born in Texas around the right time, married with one son15 — died in 1957, with a death certificate that says her parents were unknown.16

I’m at a loss. Where else do I look? Are you a Law, or a Henson? Do you know — can you tell me — who was Myrtie Law… and what happened to her?


SOURCES

  1. Parker County, Texas, Marriage record v. 1-3 1874-1889, A.C. Henson and Miss S.J. Cottrell, 1 January 1880; County Clerk’s Office, Weatherford; FHL microfilm 1,025,739.
  2. Martha Louisa, known as Louisa, was shown as the mother of six, four surviving on the 1900 U.S. census. 1900 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, Justice Precinct 6, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 243(B) (stamped), dwelling 189, family 189, Louisa “Catrell,” mother-in-law, in John Green household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1679. In 1910, no entries were made in the children columns. 1910 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, Justice Precinct 2, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 228, p. 11A (stamped), dwelling 179, family 182, Louisa Cottrell, mother-in-law, in John Green household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1597; imaged from FHL microfilm 1,375,610. The sixth child, if such there was, has not been identified.
  3. 1880 U.S. census, Parker County, Texas, Justice Precincts 6&8, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 139, p. 458(B) (stamped), dwelling 9, family 9, Aaron and Jane Henson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1323. The elder Hensons were in household 8; the Cottrells in household 10.
  4. Highland Cemetery (Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas; on Rodgers Road 0.1 mile west of the intersection with Bell Road North, Latitude 33.96704, Longitude -98.6595041), S.J. Henson marker; photograph by J.G. Russell, 9 Nov 2002.
  5. “Texas Marriages, 1837-1973,” database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 2 Feb 2012), entry for Aaron Henson-Callie “Walton,” 20 May 1900; citing FHL microfilm 1,412,935 (Wichita County, Texas, Marriage record v. 2-4 1897-1915).
  6. Texas Board of Health, death certif. no. 3787, Aaron C. Henson, 13 Jan 1927; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  7. Wichita County, Texas, Probate Minutes, Last Will and Testament, A.C. Henson, No. 1434, filed 18 Jan 1927; County Court Clerk’s Office, Wichita Falls; digital image in possession of J.G. Russell.
  8. “Texas Marriages, 1837-1973,” database, FamilySearch , entry for C.D. Robinson-“Mystie” Henson, 20 Mar 1900.
  9. 1900 U.S. census, Wichita Co., Tex., Justice Precinct 6, pop. sched., ED 127, p. 234(B) (stamped), dwell. 14, fam. 14, Charles and Mertie Robinson.
  10. Jason G. Gauthier, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Bureau of the Census), 19.
  11. 1880 U.S. census, Parker Co., Tex., Justice Pcts. 6&8, pop. sched., ED 139, p. 458(B) (stamped), dwell./fam. 9, Aaron and Jane Henson.
  12. The 1900 census counted 5806 residents. Twelfth Census of the United States – 1900 Census Reports Volume I : Population, Part I (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Census Office, 1901), 390.
  13. Only Aaron Henson and an Edward Henson far too young to have been Mytrie’s father appear in a search for all persons with the surname Henson living in Wichita County, Texas, in the 1900 United States Federal Census database at Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Feb 2012).
  14. 1920 U.S. census, Caddo County, Oklahoma, Anadarko, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 32, p. 204(B) (stamped), dwelling 331, family 356, Frank, Myrtie and Raymond Law; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T625, roll 1453.
  15. 1930 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, Galveston City, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 84-27, p. 244(B) (stamped), sheet 9(B), dwelling 164, family 220, Myrtle Law; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 2334; imaged from FHL microfilm 2,342,068.
  16. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 67548, Myrtle Law, 14 Dec 1957; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
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