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What little we know

It is an all-too-common lament of busy genealogists — that we have too many ancestors, and too little time.

ludy3And it’s time that’s needed, not just to properly document the members of our families — to identify them accurately and attach them to the family tree in the right place — but to tell their stories.

Who were they? How did they live? What were their lives like?

That part of what we do as genealogists is every bit as important as the names and dates and places. Yet sometimes… sometimes we realize we are falling short.

Case in point: my grandfather’s cousin, Ludy Katherine (Green) Aycock.

She was born 121 years ago tomorrow — on 18 August 1892 — in Wichita County, Texas, and she had just celebrated her 83rd birthday when she died, in Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, on the 31st of August 1975.1

Ludy was the only child of John H. and Mary Elizabeth (Cottrell) Green,2 and Mary was the younger sister of my great grandfather Martin Gilbert Cottrell — only 15 months younger than he was. M.G.’s records place his birth in September 1855,3 and Mary’s records place her birth in December 1856.4

Ludy grew up in Wichita County. She was enumerated with her parents living in Iowa Park, a small town in Wichita County, in the 1900 census5 and in the 1910 census.6

LudyWe know that Ludy was a school teacher before her marriage to Eugene M. Aycock. She’s shown as a teacher on that 1910 census, and her name appears twice in the news pages of the Wichita Daily Times, a newspaper published in Wichita County, Texas: once, on Friday, 20 December 1912, in a list of those in attendance at the Wichita County Teachers Institute;7 and the next year, on Friday, 21 November 1913, as a speaker at that year’s upcoming Institute.8 Her topic was to be “Tendencies of Novices in Teaching.” At the ripe old age of 21, she couldn’t have been far from a novice herself.

Exactly when Ludy married Eugene isn’t known yet. Her obituary places the day as May 27 and the place as Aspermont, the county seat of Stonewall County, Texas.9 But here’s where our efforts fall short on the names-dates-places side. We haven’t looked at the Stonewall County marriage records yet.

And although the obituary says she and Eugene lived in Crosbyton, Crosby County, Texas, from 1919 to 1929, neither they nor Ludy’s parents can be found in the 1920 census.10

In 1930, she and Eugene were living in Levelland, Hockley County, Texas. Ludy’s widowed mother Mary was living with them.11 And they were still there in 194012 and, in fact, spent the rest of their lives there.13

It was at Ludy’s and Eugene’s home that her uncle, my great grandfather, Martin Gilbert Cottrell, died in March 1946; Ludy was the informant on his death certificate.14 Not even three months later, her mother Mary died there as well, and Ludy was the informant on that death certificate.15 And, six years earlier, she’d been the informant on the death certificate of another uncle, M.G. and Mary’s brother George Washington Cottrell (Jr.).16

From her obituary, we know she was a lifelong Baptist, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and of the World War I Barracks Auxiliary. And we know that she and Eugene “operated the Levelland Coffee Shop until their retirement in 1971.”17

And we know that Eugene’s will would have left everything except a small bequest to a sister if Ludy had outlived him18… and that he lived only 11 days after the death of his life’s companion.19

Now after having read all of those facts, you may be sitting there thinking how much we know about Ludy Katherine (Green) Aycock.

And I’m sitting here thinking how little we know.

You see, Ludy and Eugene didn’t have any children. So the stories of her life aren’t being passed down. I don’t even have a picture of her.

And I have so many questions that I’d like to know the answers to.20

• What was she like?
• Was her voice soft or loud?
• Did she laugh a lot?
• Was she a good teacher?
• Did those in her Sunday School class look forward to seeing her every week?
• Did the customers at the Coffee Shop joke with her? Did they miss her when she retired?
• Who remembered her on her passing — was her funeral well attended?

• Who remembers her today?

I know how Ludy fits into my family tree. What I don’t know is who she was.

My job as a genealogist is far from done.


SOURCES

Marker image: Paula Williams, 2004.

  1. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 68584 (1975), Ludy Katherine Aycock, 31 Aug 1975; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  2. See 1910 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 228, p. 10(B) (stamped), sheet 10(B), dwelling 179, family 182, Mary Green, mother of one child, one surviving; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1597; imaged from FHL microfilm 1375610.
  3. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 13603 (1946), Martin Gilbert Cottrell, 26 Mar 1946; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  4. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 32464 (1946), Mary E. Green, 12 July 1946; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  5. 1900 U.S. census, Wichita County, TX, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 243(A) (stamped), sheet 10(B), dwelling 189, family 189, Ludy Green in John Green household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1679.
  6. 1910 U.S. census, Wichita Co., Tex., pop. sched., Justice Precinct 2, E) 228, p. 10(B) (stamped), sheet 10(B), dwell. 179, fam. 182, Ludye Green in John Green household.
  7. “More Teachers Present,” Wichita Daily Times, p. 8, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 16 Aug 2013).
  8. Program for Wichita County Teachers Institute Next Month, Wichita Daily Times, p. 2, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 16 Aug 2013).
  9. “Ludy Aycock,” obituary, undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, but likely the Hockley Herald and, from the text (“died at 5:20 p.m. Sunday” and “Services are pending”), it was published between the second and the fifth of September 1975. UPDATED: ny cousin and genie-buddy Paula Williams informs me this is the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, 1 Sep 1975, p. A-13.
  10. A line-by-line examination of the enumeration district for Crosbyton in the Ancestry.com 1920 U.S. Census images failed to produce any results.
  11. 1930 U.S. census, Hockley County, Texas, Levelland, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 5, page 227(A-B) (stamped), dwelling 264, family 311, Eugene Aycock household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 2357; imaged from FHL microfilm 2342091.
  12. 1940 U.S. census, Hockley County, Texas, Levelland, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 110-7A, sheet 3B, dwelling 58, Eugene Aycock household; digital image, Archives.gov (http://1940census.archives.gov : accessed 16 Aug 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 4067.
  13. For Ludy, see Texas Dept. of Health, death certif. no. 68584 (1975), Ludy Katherine Aycock, 31 Aug 1975. For Eugene, see Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 68581 (1975), Eugene Mell Aycock, 11 Sep 1975; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  14. Texas Dept. of Health, death certif. no. 13603 (1946), Martin Gilbert Cottrell, 26 Mar 1946.
  15. Texas Dept. of Health, death certif. no. 32464 (1946), Mary E. Green, 12 July 1946.
  16. Texas Department of Health, death certif. no. 47841 (1931), George Washington Cottrell, 31 Oct 1940; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  17. “Ludy Aycock,” obituary, undated clipping from unidentified newspaper.
  18. Last Will and Testament of E.M. Aycock, dated 2 June 1975, on file in In the Matter of the Estate of E. M. Aycock, No. 2053, Hockley County Court; Court Clerk’s Office, Levelland, Texas.
  19. Texas Dept. of Health, death certif. no. 68581 (1975), Eugene Mell Aycock, 11 Sep 1975.
  20. Yes, I know: I just ended a sentence with a preposition. So sue me.
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