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A family for Melinda

It stands out there, in The Legal Genealogist‘s database.

The birthdate, given in detail, as March 4, 1859.

And the name of the person born that day: Melinda. Maybe Malinda. Or something like that.

Her married name: Baker. Not much of a surprise, given the size of my Virginia-to-North-Carolina-to-everywhere-else-in-the-south Baker family.

Her birth name?

Not recorded.

Place of birth?

Not recorded.

Parents?

Not recorded.

Even date and place of death?

Not recorded.

Oh, I know that she married John Milton Baker, likely in the early 1870s, and they had a bunch of kids starting around 1874 with the birth of Robert N. Baker1 and continuing through at least seven others by the 1900 census.2

But… sigh… that’s pretty much where my database entries end.

I never followed up to tell the story of this woman as a full person in her own right.

I wish I could say this stands out as an exception.

But it’s not. So many of the collateral relatives in my database remain sketchy figures in need of some tender loving care.

It’s going to take a long while before I can begin to feel comfortable with what I have done on so many of the members of my family.

But I can begin to right the wrong with the woman that my database says was, simply, Melinda Baker.

There are some additional records of Melinda with John beyond just the two censuses I have recorded. They’re recorded together on the 1910 census of Buncombe County, with John shown as age 60 and Malinda as age 50, and as the mother of nine children, seven surviving.3 In 1920, John was shown as age 71 and Malinda as age 65.4 And they’re together in 1930, with John shown as age 84 and Malindy as age 73.5

And John Milton and Melinda E. Baker are buried together at the Baker Cemetery in Avery Creek, Buncombe County. John’s engraving gives his birthdate as June 20, 1845, and his date of death as November 20, 1936. Melinda’s gives her date of birth as March 4, 1857, and her date of death as October 2, 1938.6

The North Carolina marriage index records the marriage of J. M. Baker and ôMalinda Gillanö on 1 December 1873 in Buncombe County, North Carolina, performed by a Justice of the Peace, J. W. Walker.7 That’s pretty close to what I’d expect for this couple: the first name is close to that of John Milton Baker’s wife in the 1880 census, and the marriage date is right given the 1874 birth of their first child.

But was she Malinda Gillan? There aren’t any Gillans in the 1870 census of Buncombe County, North Carolina. Not even many Gillans anywhere in the United States in that census.8 So… is the name recorded correctly?

A big reason to question it is that there’s another marriage entry in Buncombe county some eight years earlier for John Milton Baker’s brother Jesse to Sarah Gilliland, performed by the same Justice of the Peace, J. W. Walker.9

Could she have been Malinda Gilliland?

There is a Malinda Gilliland in the household of Alney and Elizabeth Gilliland in Buncombe County in 1860. She was their first child, aged five months in that census.10

That matches up pretty well: her age at first marriage is shown on the 1930 census as 13, and the marriage date was 1873. Two hitches. The bride in the marriage index was supposedly 18, not 13. And there isn’t any Malinda or Melinda in the Alney Gilliland household in 1870. There was a 10-year-old girl, but her first name was recorded as Sarah, not Melinda or Malinda.11

Enter the tie-breaker: there is a death certificate that records her as Melinda E. Baker, born 4 March 1850, and died 2 October 1938 in Buncombe County, North Carolina. The informant, her daughter, named her parents: Alney Gilliland and Elizabeth Suttle.12

And to sweeten the pot: the death certificate of her first-born son Robert gives his mother’s maiden name as “Gilliand”13 while that of son Melvin Baker says his mother’s maiden name was “Gillian.”14

As for the rest of her life… well… there’s surely more work to be done here. Let’s see… church records… newspapers… manuscripts…

And that’s just one collateral…

Sigh… a genealogist’s work is never done…


SOURCES

  1. See 1880 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Avery Creek, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 26, p. 6D-7A (stamped), dwelling 109, family 113, J. M. Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 954.
  2. See 1900 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Avery Creek, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 142, p. 221A (stamped), dwelling/family 57, John M Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1184.
  3. 1910 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Avery Creek, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 17, p. 5A (stamped), dwelling/family 105, John Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1099.
  4. 1920 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Avery Creek, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 23, p. 261A (stamped), dwelling/family 84, J. M. Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T625, roll 1286.
  5. 1930 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Avery Creek, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 11-38, page 220A (stamped), dwelling 103, family 111, person; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 1676.
  6. Baker Cemetery, Buncombe County, North Carolina, John Milton and Melinda E. Baker marker; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017).
  7. Buncombe County, North Carolina, Marriage Register-Male (1851-1975), entry for Baker, J.M.; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017).
  8. See 1870 United States Federal Census database at Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Mar 2017), search terms: Last Name (Gillan), Location (Buncombe, North Carolina).
  9. Ibid., entry for Baker, Jesse M.
  10. 1860 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Swannanoa, population schedule, p. 391B (stamped), dwelling/family 267, Alney Gilleland household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication M653, roll 889.
  11. See 1870 U.S. census, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Limestone, population schedule, p. 191A (stamped), dwelling 67, family 69, Aloney Gilliland household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017); citing National Archive microfilm publication M593, roll 1125.
  12. North Carolina State Board of Health, death certif. no. 11, registration district 11-01, state no. 204, Melinda E. Baker, 2 Oct 1938; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Raleigh; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017).
  13. North Carolina State Board of Health, death certif. no. 3657, registration district 11-95, Robert Nelson Baker, 1 Feb 1963; Office of Vital Statistics, Raleigh; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017).
  14. North Carolina State Board of Health, death certif. no. 33762, registration district 12-00, Melvin Baker, 20 Oct 1970; Office of Vital Statistics, Raleigh; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Mar 2017).
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