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How does the conundrum grow?

So… did you play along with The Legal Genealogist and about half of the entire community of genealogists on Facebook this week in creating a color-coded chart of your ancestors’ birthplaces?

There are templates available online (try this one on for size and just change the birthplaces to match your family) and it’s fun to see the migrations of our families charted out in such a visual way.

California genealogist J. Paul Hawthorne came up with the idea, others picked up and ran with it, and the rest — as they say — is history.

Except that something a little strange happened when my first cousin and I prepared our charts of our maternal side. Her mother and mine were sisters, so everyone on the maternal sides of our charts should have matched.

And one didn’t.

Mary “Polly” Fore, we believe, is the daughter of Jesse and Nancy Fore; she became the wife of Mathew Johnson in 1839.1 She was born, if you can believe the census records, sometime around 1818.2

On my chart, as you see here, I recorded her as born in Georgia.

chart

And, on my cousin’s chart, she recorded her as born in North Carolina.

Here’s the problem.

We really have no idea where she was born.

Evidence? Oh, we have plenty of that.

Just one hitch.

The evidence is utterly contradictory.

One reason I recorded her as born in Georgia is because that’s what’s shown on the 1850 census.3 One reason why my cousin recorded her as born in North Carolina is because that’s what’s shown on the 1860 census.4

But then we both have to deal with the 1870 census, where her birthplace is recorded as — sigh — Tennessee.5

Now you might think it’d be easy to just check and see where her parents were living at the time she was born.

Only that’s not such a simple matter either. It’s true that, on his application for a War of 1812 pension, Jesse said he had married around 1815 in “Bunkum County North Carolina”6 and that he can be found on the 1830 census in Buncombe County.7

But where was Jesse in 1820? We don’t know. We can’t find him in the census records. He didn’t own any land — or at least none recorded in any of the deed books. The tax lists don’t survive for that time period. There’s no record of that 1815 marriage either.

So did he live in North Carolina when Polly was born?

We don’t know.

We could look at the census records of her children, to see where they say their mother was born, but that won’t help one bit. Oldest son Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson was enumerated in Parker County, Texas, with his mother’s birthplace shown as North Carolina.8

But his sister Louisa Johnson Reynolds was enumerated in that same census with her mother’s birthplace shown as Georgia.9 Georgia was also recorded as the mother’s birthplace in 190010 and in 1920.11

Only once, in 1910, was Louisa’s mother’s birthplace recorded as North Carolina,12 and that’s then contradicted by the records of their next oldest brother James.

He was enumerated with his mother’s birthplace recorded as Virginia in 1880,13 as Kentucky in 1900,14 as simply the United States in 191015 — and so it goes.

Moving to Mary “Polly” Fore’s siblings doesn’t help either.

Her brother Jesse R. Fore, born around 1820, was enumerated in 1850 as having been born in East Tennessee,16 in 1860 as born in North Carolina,17 and in 1870 and 1880 as born in Georgia.18

Her sister Kate, born around 1823, who married Josiah Baker, was shown on the 1850 census and on the 1880 census as born in Tennessee.19 And their brother, George, believed to be Kate’s twin? The only two census records we can find for him don’t even have him in the same state as Kate — his records both say he was born in Georgia.20

See what I mean? Georgia. North Carolina. Kentucky. Tennessee or East Tennessee. Even Virginia.

Sigh…

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, just where the heck were you born???


SOURCES

  1. Union County, Georgia, Marriage Book 1-A: 43, Mathew Johnson-Mary Foore, no. 44, 1839; Office of the Judge of the Probate Court, Blairsville, Georgia; digital image, Georgia Virtual Vault (http://cdm.georgiaarchives.org:2011/cdm/ : accessed 25 Mar 2016).
  2. See, e.g., 1850 U.S. census, Pulaski County, Kentucky, population schedule, p. 2(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 27, Mary Johnson, age 32; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication M432, roll 217.
  3. Ibid.
  4. 1860 U.S. census, Pulaski County, Kentucky, Somerset, population schedule, p. 2 (penned), dwelling/family 8, Mary Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication M653, roll 393.
  5. 1870 U.S. census, Parker County, Texas, Justice Precinct 1, population schedule, p. 382B (stamped), dwelling/family 377, Mary Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication M593, roll 1601.
  6. Declaration of Soldier, 27 March 1871, Jesse Fore (Fifer, Capt. Gaffney’s South Carolina Militia, War of 1812), soldier’s pension application no. 4553, certificate no. 7041; Case Files of Pension and Bounty Land Applications Based on Service Between 1812 and 1855; Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1960; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  7. 1830 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, p. 254 (stamped), line 6, Jesse Fore household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2004); citing National Archive microfilm publication M19, roll 118.
  8. 1880 U.S. census, Parker County, Texas, Justice Precinct 1, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 135, p. 355B (stamped), dwelling/family 8, N. B. Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1322.
  9. 1880 U.S. census, Parker Co., Tex., Justice Pct. 1, pop. sched., ED 135, p. 367A (stamped), dwell. 203, fam. 208, L W Reynolds.
  10. 1900 U.S. census, Whitley County, Kentucky, Court House, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 144, p. 239A (stamped), dwelling/family 48, Louisa M Reynolds; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 555.
  11. 1920 U.S. census, Whitley County, Kentucky, Wofford, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 280, p. 50A(penned/stamped), dwelling 69, family 72, Louisa M. Reynolds, mother-in-law, in George Copenhaver household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T625, roll 602.
  12. 1910 U.S. census, Walnut County, Kentucky, Rockcastle, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 101, p. 189A (stamped), family 130, Louisa M. Reynold; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 500.
  13. 1880 U.S. census, Young Co., Tex., Justice Pct. 1, pop. sched., ED 167, p. 401D (stamped), dwell./fam. 489, James Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1334.
  14. 1900 U.S. census, Parker Co., Tex., Weatherford Ward 4, pop. sched., ED 67, p. 16B (stamped), dwell. 321, fam. 322, James Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1664.
  15. 1910 U.S. census, Parker Co., Tex., Weatherford Ward 1, pop. sched., ED 66, p. 46A (stamped), dwell. 38, fam. 39, J.J. Johnson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1584.
  16. 1850 U.S. census, Pulaski Co., Ky., pop. sched., Div. 2, p. 81 (stamped), dwelling/family 94, Jesse R Four.
  17. 1860 U.S. census, Pulaski Co., Ky., Somerset, pop. sched., p. 170 (penned), dwelling/family 130, Jesse R Fore.
  18. 1870 U.S. census, Clay County, Missouri, Washington, population schedule, p. 823A (stamped), dwelling/family 151, Jesse R Fore; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 Mar 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication M593, roll 770. See also 1880 U.S. census, Clay Co., Mo., pop. sched., Kearney, ED 116, p.295(A) (stamped), dwell./fam. 205, Jessie Fore; citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 681.
  19. 1850 U.S. census, Pulaski County, Kentucky, population schedule, Division 2, p. 82 (stamped), dwelling/family 107, Catherine Baker. See also 1880 U.S. census, Parker Co., Tex., pop. sched., Justice Precinct 6, ED 139, p. 458(B) (stamped), dwell./fam. 12, Cathern Baker.
  20. 1860 U.S. census, Pulaski Co., Ky., Somerset, pop. sched., p. 81 (penned), dwell. 572, fam. 560, George W Fore. Also, 1900 U.S. census, Young Co., Tex., Justice Prec. 5, pop. sched., ED 166, p. 285A (stamped), dwell. 24, fam. 25, George W. Fore; citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1681.
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