Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Research Grief

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has another great meme this week. Our mission this week is to:
1)  The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months. 
2)  Please answer the question - "Which ancestor gives you the most researching grief?"
3)  Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post  your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.
My Answer 
My nemesis is Samuel Johnston, my 3x great-grandfather, who was born about 1816 in South Carolina and died before 1869 in Titus County, Texas.

I do have two census records for him: 1850 and 1860 in Yalobusha County, Mississippi, where he appeared with wife, Elizabeth, and children, Isabella, Reuben, Lovina/Laura, George W(ashington), Madison J, David, and Sarah A (1860 only).[1]  

I also have tax records in Yalobusha County and a voter registration in Titus County, Texas. Then he died. A courthouse fire prevents me for seeing any records before 1895.[2]

So what is my problem with Samuel?
I have no records of him before 1850. The first five children were born in Alabama but I haven’t found him in the 1840 census. Both Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth McCormack were born in South Carolina, but I have no idea which county. I haven’t found a marriage record for them either.

I have done some FAN (Friends, Associates, and Neighbor) research but haven’t found that connection back to Alabama or South Carolina.[3] I need to keep working at it. Likely a road trip is needed to some research on the ground in Mississippi in Yalobusha County and at the archives in Jackson.

This is clearly a stub end on my line.

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Yalobusha Co, Mississippi, pop. sched., North of the Yalabusha River, p 287b (stamped), dwelling/family 161, Samuel Johnson, digital image, ( : accessed 20 July 2013); citing NARA M432, roll 382. And 1860 U.S. census, Yalobusha Co, Mississippi, pop. sched., Oakland, p. 917, dwelling 1182, family 1276, Samuel Johnson, digital image, ( : accessed 23 Nov 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration M653, roll 594.
[2] “Titus County, Texas Genealogy,” FamilySearch (,_Texas_Genealogy : accessed 2 Sept 2017).
[3] FAN was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family


  1. Wow! You can't find him before 1850 or after 1860 except that you think he died in Titus County, TX. Could his name have been really mangled on the 1840 census and mis-indexed? I would definitely leave no stone unturned in Yalobusha County.

    1. His family is living in Titus in 1870 and his wife is a widow. As for 1840, he might be in South Carolina (where he and wife were born) or Alabama (where children were born) or somewhere in-between. When I'm not busy with my current project, I'll go back to working on it.

  2. So he disappeared in reverse? Can you find death certificates for any of his children -- or did they die too young? Those records might (maybe, possibly) give location of birth. It's hard when you don't know where he was before 1850. You don't say when his children were born, just in Alabama. And with a name like Johnston there could be a lot of variations. Good luck!

    1. Oh, this family has been rather tough. I have not found many of the children's death certificates. One was the son born in Mississippi, so that wasn't helpful for finding the area in Alabama. With the father's death so young, the children probably have no real knowledge of where he was from. I can always hope to someday find a bible record. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Generally I don't read article on blogs, but
    I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to check
    out and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me.
    Thank you, quite great article.


All comments on this blog will be previewed by the author to prevent spammers and unkind visitors to the site. The blog is open to other-than-just family members particularly those interested in family history and genealogy.