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Wedding bells in Texas

It was 121 years ago tomorrow when they stood before a minister, probably in Bexar County, Texas, and said their “I do”s.

On February 19, 1896, Jasper Carlton Robertson was just a couple of months short of his 25th birthday — he would turn 25 on the 18th of April.1 And his bride, Eula, was some 18 months his elder: she turned 26 on the 24th of October before the wedding.2

In the presence of family and friends, this couple — The Legal Genealogist‘s great grandparents, parents of my mother’s mother — was wedded by a Minister of the Gospel3 — and therein lies a puzzle all by itself.

You see, you always want to track down all the players in a record like this. To see what the relationships might have been or perhaps to find more records.

Here, for example, one of the witnesses — S H Wildman — was likely the father-in-law of a cousin of the bride. Stephen H. Wildman’s son, Stephen S. Wildman, was married to Martha “Mattie” Shew, daughter of William Washington and Nancy Elizabeth (Allen) Shew.4 And William Washington Shew was the brother of the bride’s mother.

All of them — the Wildmans and the Shews — were living at the time in the area: the Wildmans in Bexar County,5 the Shews in next-door Atascosa.6

The other witness is a Sparks — S.P., I think — and there are some possibilities there too. Another cousin, Grover Shew, ended up marrying a Sparks from Lamar County some years later. But that one’s still up in the air.

Also up in the air is just where the marriage took place … and who the minister was.

The marriage record appears to be signed by one L. L. Hays, M.G. (Minster of the Gospel). Here’s the image and you can tell me if you think I’m reading it wrong.

hays

So… how hard can it be to find one Protestant minister in Texas in 1896 by the name of L. L. Hays?

Well… a lot harder than I expected.

There isn’t any minister in the San Antonio city directories for the time period by the name of Hays. No church with a paster named Hays, or anything like it. Nobody named Hays, or anything similar, showing up in the surname list as a minister.7

There isn’t any minister named L. L. Hays or Hayes or Haze or Haas or anything else remotely similar that I can find anywhere in Texas in 1880 or in 1900.

There was a Leander L. Hays who was a minister in Liberty, Holt County, Missouri, in 1880.8 He was just 44 then, so still of an age to have been performing weddings in 1896. Alas, he was still in Missouri in 1900, so he’s not a very good candidate for Reverend Hays of Bexar County, Texas, in 1896.

There was a Loyal Hayes in Illinois in 18809 but he’s not a very good candidate either: he died in 1892.10

If I had to take bets, I’d go for the Rev. Lorenzo L. Hays, a Baptist preacher who settled near Cooper, in Delta County, Texas, around 1887,11 even though he’s not in the census as a preacher.

First off, he was a minister, at least according to his and his wife’s obituaries. Neither mentions any time in Bexar County, but both say he served a number of Baptist churches.12

His wife’s obituary says the family spent time in Delta County. And Delta County is where Jasper’s folks had settled just after he was born. His parents, G.B. and Isabella Robertson, can be found there in the 1880 and 1900 censuses.13 So Jasper could have known Rev. Hays from Delta County.

Or they could have met in the San Antonio area. At least a few of the children of this Rev. Hays were born in Bexar County around the middle of the 1890s. For example, son John Robert Hays listed San Antonio as his birthplace and October 24, 1894, as his birthdate when he registered for the draft in World War I.14 That puts Rev. Hays in the right place at the right time.

And there’s reason to think that Jasper at least would have been favorable to a Baptist preacher. His obituary reported that he’d become a member of the Baptist Church near his home in Oklahoma.15

So that’s my theory, at least for now.

But if anybody’s got a better candidate… or knows what church L.L. Hays was serving in the 1890s, I’m all ears…


SOURCES

  1. See Oklahoma State Board of Health, death certif. no. 3065 (1912), Jasper C. Robertson (15 Mar 1912); Bureau of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City.
  2. See Virginia Department of Health, death certif. no. 6367 (1954), Eula Robertson (13 Mar 1954); Division of Vital Records, Richmond.
  3. Bexar County, Texas, Marriage Book N: 24, Marriage License & Return 14298, J C Robertson and Eula Beard, 19 Feb 1896; digital images, “Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 17 Feb 2017).
  4. Bexar County, T4exas, Marriage Book L: 238, Marriage License & Return 12188, S S Wildman and Mattie Shew, 22 Dec 1892; digital images, “Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 17 Feb 2017).
  5. See 1900 U.S. census, Bexar County, Texas, Justice Precinct 5, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 33, p. 137B (stamped), dwelling/family 135, S S Wildman household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1612.
  6. See ibid., Atascosa County, Texas, Justice Precinct 2, ED 4,p. 228B (stamped), dwelling 67, family 80, William W Shew household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1608.
  7. “Churches and Church Societies,” in Jules A. Appler, General Directory of the City of San Antonio, 1895-96 (San Antonio : p.p., 1895); digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017). A line-by-line reading of surnames beginning with the letter H was also negative for 1895 and 1897.
  8. 1880 U.S. census, Holt County, state, Liberty Twp. , population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 18, p. 21B (stamped), dwelling 46, family 47, Leander L. Hays; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 690.
  9. 1880 U.S. census, Holt County, state, Liberty Twp. , population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 18, p. 21B (stamped), dwelling 46, family 47, Leander L. Hays; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 690.
  10. Oak Hill Cemetery, Montgomery County, Indiana, Loyal Hays marker; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017).
  11. See “Mrs. L.L. Hays, 83, Mills Co. Pioneer, Claimed By Death,” Brownwood (Texas) Bulletin, 29 Dec 1954, p. 24, col. 8; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017).
  12. Ibid. Also, “Rev. Hays Sertvices Held in Goldthwaite,” Brookshire (Texas) Times, 20 April 1961, p. 2, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017).
  13. 1880 U.S. census, Delta County, Texas, Precinct 3, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 502(D) (stamped), dwelling 117, family 118, Gustavus “Robetson” household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1300. Also 1900 U.S. census, Delta County, Texas, Justice Precinct 1, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 33, p. 32A (penned/stamped), dwelling 259, family 264, “Gustiva” B and “Isibella” Robertson in Geo Robertson household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1627.
  14. “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http:// www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Feb 2017), card for John Robert Hays, no. 121, Mills County (Tex.) Draft Board; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives microfilm publication M1509.
  15. “J.C. Robertson Passes Away,” Frederick (OK) Press, 22 Mar 1912.
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