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Yet another family history mystery

Today, August 29, is the 164th anniversary of the birth of Nancy Arminta (Robertson) Parish.

She was, as far as The Legal Genealogist can tell, the fifth-born child and second daughter of Gustavus Boone and Isabella (Gentry) Robertson.

Which makes her my great grand-aunt, older sister to my great grandfather Jasper Carlton Robertson.

And the mother of a mystery.

Nancy was born, family records say, 29 August 1856.1 She’s recorded on the 1860 census of Attala County, Mississippi, as a four-year-old with her parents, five siblings — four older and one younger — and her paternal grandfather, William M. Robertson.2 She’s on the 1870 census with the family in Lamar County, Texas, as a 14-year-old.3

She married Mack Lee Parish in Delta County, Texas, on 3 September 1874,4 and she’s recorded on the 1880 census of Wood County, Texas.5

1880 census, Parish family

And it’s that 1880 census that poses the mystery. It records her husband as McLee Parish, age 27, farmer born in North Carolina. Nancy was shown as age 23, born in Mississippi. And the census then records a child — “Wm. G.,” age 4, born in Texas.6

The problem: we know for certain that Mack and Nancy had a son David Mack Parish, born in Texas in 1880.7 And Mack’s and Nancy’s great grandson, Dealon Thompson, wrote a piece in a published history of Delta County noting that his great grandparents had had only three children — two girls and “Only son … D. Mack Parish.”8

Documenting the girls is easy. Willie — who married George Windham in Delta County in 18969 — was born in Texas in 1881 and died in California in 1942.10 And the baby of the family — Mary Isabel, called Mollie — who married William “Tobe” Wright in Delta County in 1902,11 was born in 1887 and died in 1935, both in Texas.12

But if David Mack — D. Mack — Parish was the “Only son”… who was “Wm. G.” — and what happened to him?

The later census records don’t help. The 1900 census would have given us a clue, since it reports how many children a woman had borne and how many were still alive. Our problem? Nancy died in 1895, before the 1900 census.13 Mack is enumerated as a widower with just one child living at home: 12-year-old Mollie.14

And there’s not a single other clue as to “Wm. G.”

No marriage record.

No tax record.

No census record that could tie anyone of this name to this family.

No death or burial record.

Not even — gasp! — a totally undocumented family tree online at Ancestry or FamilySearch.

We can only assume this is another little boy lost in our family. Gone sometime after the 1880 census and before 1900, the next surviving census on which he might have been recorded.

And without some clue we’re not aware of right now … we have no idea of William’s whereabouts.


If this was easy, it wouldn’t be fun, right?

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “William’s whereabouts,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 29 Aug 2020).


  1. Letter from Maxine Hughes Blair to author, 3 Sep 2002.
  2. 1860 U.S. census, Attala County, Mississippi, population schedule, area, p. 76 (penned), dwelling 455, family 494, Gustavus B. Robertson household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm M653, roll 577.
  3. 1870 U.S. census, Lamar County, Texas, population schedule, Beat No. 2, p. 253(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 307, Gustavis B. Robertson household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm M593, roll 1594.
  4. Delta County, Texas, Marriage Book 1: 84, M L Parish-N A Robertson (1874), marriage license and return; County Clerk’s Office, Cooper.
  5. 1880 U.S. census, Wood County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 125, p. 292(C) (stamped), dwelling 245, family 259, Nancy A. Parish; digital image, ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm T9, roll 1333.
  6. Ibid.
  7. See Texas Department of Health, Death Certificate No. 49814, David M. Parish (1941); Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  8. Dealon Thompson, “Mack Lee (Pat) Parish,” History of Delta County (Cooper : Delta County Historical Society, 1991), 261.
  9. See “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” entry for Willie Parish and G O Windom, 16 Sep 1896; ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020.
  10. California Department of Public Health, Death Certificate No. 14661, Willie Windham (1942); digital image, “California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020).
  11. See “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” entry for M I Parish and W H Wright, 21 Dec 1902; ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020.
  12. Texas Department of Health, Death Certificate No. 37330, Mrs. Mollie Wright (1935); Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  13. See Voices in the Wind: Cemetery Records of Delta County, Texas (Cooper : Friends of the Delta County Public Library, 2001), entry for Nancy A. Parish.
  14. 1900 U.S. census, Hopkins County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 5, enumeration district (ED) 55, p. 210(A) (stamped), dwelling/family 424, Mack L Parish household; digital image, ( : accessed 29 Aug 2020); imaged from NARA microfilm T623, roll 1646.
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