Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another one that I am working on

I have a woman with two sets of parents, one set is her real parents and the other is the one that raised her after her real parents died.  Nothing at all unusual, right?  Of course you knew it wouldn’t be quite that simple. 

Ida Spires’ real parents were Wiley J. Spires and Martha Houghton.  Wiley and Martha married in Lincoln County, Georgia on 10 Sep 18651 and had four children with Ida being born 02 Jul 1873.2  Martha died between 1876 and 1880.  In 1880, Wiley is still alive and has the four children in his household.3  Ida marries in 18894 and she is living with her husband in 1900.5  So what happened between 1880 and 1889?  Wiley doesn’t appear on the 1900 census so he had, most likely, died. 

Fast forward to Ida’s death on 30 Apr 1957.  The informant on Ida’s death certificate was her daughter Ethel (Lewis) Sprouse.  She stated that Ida’s parents were Edwin Spires and Eva Faulkner.4  It makes sense that if Wiley died shortly after the 1880 census, someone would have taken the kids in.  Ida would have only been 7ish.  The problem is, I can’t find anything on an Edwin Spires and Eva Faulkner.  All of Wiley’s brothers are accounted for and none are named Edwin or anything similar.  His uncles are also similarly accounted for.   

So that is my starting point.   The question is, did Edwin Spires and Eva Faulkner exist or was Ethel mistaken on the names?  This is an old brick wall.  If you do an internet search with the names Edwin Spires and Eva Faulkner you will find a couple of queries I did on Rootsweb mailing lists back in 2001.  I thought it was time to revisit this one.  I just wanted to show you that the types of dilemmas I work on are no different than yours.

1 Lincoln County, Georgia, Marriage Book I: 135, Wiley J. Spires-Martha E. Houghton, 1865. 

2 Georgia Department of Public Health, death certificate 630 (1957), Ida Spires Lewis. 

3 1880 U.S. census, Lincoln County, Georgia, population schedule, District 183, enumeration district (ED) 70, p. 21, dwelling 157, family 157, Wiley Spires household; digital images, ( : accessed 20 Nov 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 155; On the 1880 census, the youngest known child was born about 1876 and Wiley is listed as a widower.

4 Columbia County, Georgia, Marriage Book E: 63, Ernest E. Lewis-Miss Ida Spires, 1889. 

5 1900 U.S. census, Columbia County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 126, enumeration district (ED) 3, sheet 11A, p. 37, dwelling 183, family 189, Ernest L. Lewis household; digital images,  ( : accessed 29 Jan 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 190. 

6 Georgia Department of Public Health, death certificate 630 (1957), Ida Spires Lewis.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele I can so relate to this problem. I have a GG Grandfather, William Hale that I worked on for many years trying to determine which one he in census records...turned out they were all him and I now have the info on all three wives which tells the story of him being widowed twice and wife #3 outliving him. He had children by all 3 wives. Back to your problem. I would question how Ida's daughter, Ethel would know who Ida's parents were since from what I can tell they would have died prior to Ethel's birth. Don't discount the info though. makes it so much easier to check research whims. I'd run a check there for the couple..and see if anything close came up that might provide other clues. If there is a way you can check for Ida's siblings Death Cert. to see who was listed on theirs for more clues? Just some thoughts.

  2. Ah yes, Georgia death certificates... unless the person died between 1917 and 1930 it is a problem to get them. They will be releasing 1930-1940 soon but that won't help me in this case. Georgia normally will only release a death certificate to the spouse, children or grandchildren of the deceased. I say normally because sometimes local clerks will release them not knowing better. However, I haven't tried to get the CODs in many years, maybe I will have some better luck. It is definitely worth taking another look at.

  3. Edwin &/or Eva doesn't show up in the 1900 census?...hate it when that happens. If Tax Records are available, check to see if there was an Edwin Spires paying taxes in Columbia County, Georgia in the time period just prior to Ida's marriage. That would, at least, confirm his existence in the county where Ida married.

    Working on one now where he parents both died and the daughter appears at age 4 and orphaned on the 1900 census so I've spent a lot of time in the tax records. Closing in on 'em!

  4. Got a similar mystery. James Frank Melton and wife Dockey Jane Simpson Melton are buried in the same cemetery and near David Melton and several of his descendants. Their marriage license is located in the same North Carolina county where they are buried. The wife's ancestry is easily traced and she is found as a child in census records. J. F. Melton's tombstone records his date of birth as Oct 29 1845 and his death certificate has his parents listed Oliver Melton and Fannie Melton, both places of birth being this same county as he is married and buried. The informant was Wilson Boone Kirk, the brother of two Kirk women who married into the Melton family. The widow is shown living with Mr. Kirk and his family after the death of J. F. Melton. They had one son, Oliver Douglas Melton. J. F. Melton's tombstone also indicates that he was a Civil War Vet. The problem is, prior to the marriage license in 1889, there is no record to be found of James Frank or Franklin Melton. His birthplace is given as North Carolina on the death records, and the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census. One of them indicated that he has been married twice. There is an 1866 marriage license in a next door county where the name Melton does not show up of a James Franklin Melton and a Mary Luther. Can't find James Franklin (or J. F.) Melton in the 1850, 1860, 1870, or 1880 census. Can't find any Civil War records on him. An Oliver Melton married to a Fannie older than J. F. Melton can't be located either. They did not exist in the county where he resided after his second marriage and are not in the family that he is buried near and with. In the 1902 and 1906 Permanent Voter records, he is listed twice and in one, gives his ancestor (which is father or grandfather for the other participants) as William Melton in one and as Jim Melton in the other. There was a William Jones Melton, brother of David in the cemetery, who migrated to Tennesee, but he lived in the same county in 1850 and 1860 when James Franklin Melton would have been a child and is not listed. James R "Jim" Melton, lived his entire life in the same county and no son of this name was listed in his household. He did, however, have an illegitimate son who bore his mother's surname and named his father on his marriage license. There is mention of a William B Melton in early records prior to the 1850 census who is not listed in the 1850 census. It's like James Franklin Melton fell from the sky and the family just took him in as one of their own. It's driving me batty.