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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2015-11-17 06:09 am

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Mary...




 photo MaryCDunnCallawayWilliams edit.jpg
Mary C Dunn, during the time of her marriage to Allen Mason Lowery Callaway, 1866-1877

She was my great great grandmother. Her name was Mary C Dunn. Over the years, I've documented her first and second marriages in Clark Co., AR, her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Even 4th great grandchildren. I know how and when she died. I know where she is buried.

But I could never find her parents. I tried. I talked to her portrait frequently, hoping to prompt some lucid dreaming that would show me some obvious thing I had overlooked.
Then, a few years after I started my search, I met a cousin through Mary's second marriage.

He was VERY helpful in finding information about Mary's younger brother, Bob Dunn, who came to see her from Texas. We were fortunate to have this very weird photo of the two of them standing in front of a bedsheet.
 photo BobDunnMaryCallaway enhanced.jpg

From time to time, I would search through census records in Floyd Co., GA, looking for Dunns that fit this family of three known siblings, Martha, Mary and Robert J Dunn. Floyd Co., GA is where Bob Dunn (or RJ, as he was called in many historic documents) was born, according to a birth certificate for one of his daughters.

I could find age appropriate combos of any two of those names, but not all of them together, when they had to be little kids.

In any event, Floyd Co., GA didn't cut it for any date after 8 Sep 1866, when Mary married my great great grandfather.

I ordered her death certificate, thinking since she died at her daughter's house, the information would be there.

Nope. Her son and informant for the certificate, Ruben Ned Williams, said her mother was unknown. And that her father was Mr. Dunn.

I did not believe that Mary had never talked about her parents to her children, even if she was separated from them by distance or death.

Highly irritating. I can trace my Callaways back to 1667 in Somerset Co., MD, when Maryland was Maryland Colony, because there was no United States of America.

But in Mary's case, I couldn't get back any farther than 5 Jan 1849, when she was born.
Over the weekend, I got an email from Jason Williams, who is the cousin who found all that Texas information on Bob Dunn. Jason had been looking at some DNA matches for his father, and was back in census records for Floyd Co., GA.

He wanted me to look at one from 1850.
 photo 1850 census Floyd Co GA pg1 crop1.jpg

There at the bottom of the page were a couple - E Dunn, age 28, and his wife, Sarah Ann Dunn, age 24. Both were born in Georgia.
 photo 1850 census Floyd Co GA pg1 crop2.jpg

E Dunn (whom we soon determined was Ezekiel Dunn) and Sarah Ann Dunn had four children, according to the transcription of the census. Sure enough, at the top of the next page were four children.
 photo 1850 census Floyd Co GA pg2 crop1.jpg

The census enumerator had written the first two names of the oldest child - 6 year old William Berry. Then s/he had enumerated the younger children, James E, Mary C, and Martha L. With a quote ("), sometimes seen as DO on census records, meaning same surname. S/he never carried the family surname, Dunn, over to the top of the second age for this family. It also looks to me as if the children had originally been enumerated as a separate household, someone realized the error later, and went back and scribbled out the house and family numbers at the far left of the first line.

So for a transcriptionist - all transcriptionists throughout all the years - the four children had become William Berry/Burry, James E Berry/Burry, Mary C Berry/Burry, and Martha L Berry/Burry.

Except for my eagle-eyed cousin, on what must have been his umpteenth pass through 1850 census records for FLoyd Co., GA. It didn't look right.

Obviously not. I knew Jason was on to something.
In case any of my first cousins are reading this, and wondering how a guy named Jason Williams is related to us, he's our third cousin. Mary was his great great grandmother through her second marriage to David Andrew Williams.

Mary C Dunn -> Ruben Ned Williams -> Howard Ruben Williams -> Jason's dad -> Jason
Many, many emails later, Jason (who has done almost all the work) and I have determined the following...

Ezekiel Dunn and Sarah Ann Meeks married on 8 Sep 1842 in Floyd Co., GA.

They had at least 6 children: William Berry Dunn, born 1844 in Floyd Co., GA, died before 1870 in Clark Co., AR; James Alexander Dunn, born 3 Feb 1846 in Floyd Co., GA, died 29 Mar 1908 in Searcy Co., AR; Martha L Dunn, who said she was born in 1848 in order to get her marriage license in Clark Co., AR in 1869 to marry David Andrew Williams, died 2 Nov 1876 from tuberculosis in Clark Co., AR; Mary C Dunn, born 5 Jan 1849 in Floyd Co., GA, died 9 Apr 1929 in Clark Co., AR; Robert J Dunn, born 3 Dec 1853 in Cave Spring, Floyd Co., GA, died 15 Dec 1926 in Sulphur Springs, Hunt Co., TX; and Ezekiel Dunn, born 1856 - probably in Floyd Co., GA, although there are records that say he was born in Arkansas.
Then we lose the children in 1860 - at least neither Jason or I have found them with other surnames yet.

But Sarah Ann Meeks Dunn was found in the 1860 census - with her new husband, David Benjamin Cagle - whom she married in Clark Co., AR on 13 May 1860. They were living in Greenville Twp., Clark Co., AR. None of Sarah's children are with the new couple, although several of David Benjamin Cagle's children are living with them.

Now, Mary's marriage record to Mace Callaway in 1866 made more sense to me:
Oct. 15th 1866 Clark Co Ark.

This is to certify that I, James Wilson, a regularly ordained minister of the gospel of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church did on the 8th of September 1866 solemnize the rights of matrimony between Mace Callaway, aged 20 years and wife Mary C Dunn, aged 17 years. He having no parent or guardian and her having no Father and the consent of her mother made her home with another family. In their presents (sic) was the right for [illegible]. Both residents of this county and State. My credentials recorded Batesville Independence County Ark. James Wilson

Sometime between 1856 and 1860, Sarah Ann Meeks had been widowed, and relocated to Clark Co., AR. Her six children had been placed with other families. In 1870, Jason found 14 year old Ezekiel Dunn living with Green Anderson Malcom and his wife, Susan, in Greenville Twp., Clark Co., AR.

Did David Benjamin Cagle refuse to allow his new wife to have her children with her? At the time of their marriage, her youngest was only 4 years old. Were the children with either Ezekiel or Sarah's families back in Floyd Co., GA until she could get settled and send for them? Was there just no room at the Cagle inn for them?
Sarah Ann Meeks and David Benjamin Cagle had two known children - Rufus Miles Cagle, born 7 Feb 1861 in Clark Co., AR, died 10 Jan 1929 in Clark Co., AR; and Henry E Cagle, born 1865 in Clark Co., AR.

In the 1900 census, Sarah Ann Meeks, having been widowed after the 1880 census, was living with her son, Rufus Miles Cagle, and his family in Caddo, Clark Co., AR. She said she was the mother of 9 children, 5 of whom were living at the time of the census. Jason and I have only documented 8 children. I think there was a Dunn child - probably her firstborn - who died at birth or in infancy.

And here's the kicker - in that 1900 census, Sarah Ann Meeks is living one home over from her widowed daughter, Mary C Dunn Callaway Williams, and Mary's two sons, Ruben Ned and Willie Williams.

So why didn't Ned Williams remember his grandmother 29 years later when he gave information for his mother's death certificate?

We will probably never know.
Naturally, the next steps are to flesh out as much information as we can about Mary's siblings and their families, and to try to keep going backward to find the parents of Ezekiel Dunn and Sarah Ann Meeks. Jason is hot on that trail, burning the midnight oil.

And the journey is good.