Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding Answers Brick by Brick

Does your tree have "issues?" You know, those bits of information that seem correct, but you just can't shake that funny feeling that something is wrong? I have a few of those, too.

Below is the 1850 census (family 454 in Pope County, Arkansas, page 66 on It shows my great-great-great grandfather, John Laurens Williamson, his second wife, his four kids with his first wife, and a fifth child with his second wife. At least that's the assumption that everyone makes. I have documentation on everyone except Horatio. This is the only record I've found of his existence.

Now I've done a lot of work on the Williamsons of Pope County. I know almost all of them. Did Horatio die young? Did he skip town before the 1860 census? What bugged me about this record was that no relationship information is given for these people. Are we sure these eldest four children are full siblings?

I finally decided to try to locate a will for John Laurens Williamson and see if any of these children are named as heirs or in some other capacity. I ordered microfilm from the Family History Library and had it delivered to my local Family History Center. I searched the microfilm, but found no will for my subject. I found references to the will, small notations and notes about guardians, but no will.

The index was useless, so I just started going though the filmed books page by handwritten page. I found nothing after the date of John's death.

Since I had the film anyway, I just started searching through it from the beginning, including the time before John L. Williamson's death. There were so many Williamsons in that county...maybe I'd find something else of interest.

Then suddenly, the name Williamson popped out at me from page 92 of book E of microfilm 1034018:

It said in part "On this day comes John L Williamson and files his petition in which he states that he is the father of John S, Horatio B, Sally J, and James L Williamson..."

Apparently another Williamson died in Davidson County, Tennessee. These four children were heirs and John was requesting guardianship of their interests. I found the information I was looking for, but it wasn't in John L. Williamson's will.

So now I know these four are John's children. I have two records showing Horatio's existence and now I can add him and his siblings to the tree. I still don't know what happened to Horatio, but he has a timeline now.

Sometimes the answers aren't were you expect to find them. It's worth it to go page by page. This may have been tiny brick in a huge wall of questions, but it is a brick and I have more answers than I did yesterday.


  1. I love happy ending stories like yours. I could sit here and read them all day long, but then I'd never find my happy ending, would I?

    Good job Amy!

  2. Very interesting post, Amy. It shows that good things can happen if one has enough patience to methodically comb through the material at hand. I'll try to remember this post when I start running out of patience.

  3. Amy, have you considered looking in such registers as the Civil War Soldier's and Sailor's System? In 1860, your Horatio would have been about 21 or 22, and may have possibly had strong feelings either way about the issues leading to the Civil War. Or he may just have got married to a girl from a neighboring county and removed there.

    In any case, I hope you find him in 2010. Happy New Year!