Finding Henry Stokes: Clarke County Marriage Records 1865 – 1909

I have spent the last month going through five roles of microfilm that I have rented from the Family History Library trying to find any of my relatives that were married between 1865 – 1909 in Clarke County, MS.  The records were segregated at that time, so I was specifically looking at the microfilm of the books labeled “Freedman Marriage Record, Colored”. Since I am focused on the STOKES line, I did find the marriage records for almost all of Grandpa Henry’s children and also the marriage records for several of Grandpa Henry’s siblings. But I could not find his marriage record nor could I find the marriage record for his father, Taylor STOKES.

Although I could not find his marriage record, while going through page by page on several of the rolls, I began to notice that a lot of the records were recorded in the book from little slips of paper. Most looked like a note from the person who performed the ceremony or either the nearby merchant asking the clerk to send back the marriage license. Most of the notes had the date, the names of those being married and the assurance that they were both of the appropriate age.

Seeing this helped answer a question I have had since 2012 when I found the marriage record for Grandpa John STERLING to Grandma Bessie STOKES. The record had the ages 21 and 18 respectively. I incorrectly assumed that the clerk was listing their ages and thought that my great grandparents had fudged the truth since they would have been older at the time. After seeing those notes, I realize that the law at that time may have been that the male must be at least 21 years old and the female 18 years old in order to marry without parental consent (I have yet to find it). Since the notes didn’t have their actual ages, I don’t know how the clerk could really confirm that they were of age.

Having to go through the microfilm because I didn’t find what I was looking for in the index has definitely helped me understand the records a bit better. I now understand how most of them were recorded and the what information I can possibly use from them in my research. Still bombed that I haven’t found Grandpa Henry’s record. The search continues!


52 Ancestors #4: Finding Henry STOKES

I have been doing a lot of research on the STOKES line of my tree and have been concentrating on the family of Henry STOKES, my maternal great great grandfather. He is the father of Bessie STOKES, whom I shared with you last week. He has been a bit elusive on the census and is making it hard to answer several questions that I have. Out of frustration, I often find myself saying “Grandpa Henry, where are you and why are you hiding from the census taker!!” I have gone page by page, viewed census on, Family Search, and Heritage Quest, and have searched by other family members (siblings, children, wife, etc) as well as neighbors. I even went to the archives to see if he showed up on the soundex index for 1900 and 1920 and came up empty handed. So, either he was hiding or the census taker simply refused to take down the information because I seem to find everyone but him (except for his brother Robert…I can’t find him on 1900 or 1920 either)!!

Henry Stokes

Henry Stokes, Sr.
New Hope Cemetery
Quitman, MS

I am not quite sure of his year or place of birth. I am finding conflicts between the census records that I have found, his grave marker, and what is on his and his children’s death certificates (those that I was able to order). I do know that he died on 22 September 1926 in Clarke County, MS1. I was able to find the certificate because the year of his death on his grave marker, so that was easy! When I received his death certificate last year, I learned that his parents’ names were Taylor & Cornelia (?) STOKES2. I was later able to confirm this based on the information received from the STOKES family reunion committee.

He married Malissa PICKETT somewhere between 1873 and 1875. I have not been able to find their marriage record in Clarke County. I am in the process of going image by image on the microfilm a second time to be sure it’s not there before I start to look at surrounding counties. From this union I believe there were at least 9 children. I understand that they may have had 2 more children; however, it’s been difficult to confirm the number of children because the family seems to have been skipped on several of the population census for Clarke County. Currently, I only find Grandpa Henry on the 1870 census with his parents3 and the 1910 census with his wife and 3 of the children, one of which is my great grandmother Bessie STOKES4. It’s on that census that the census taker recorded Malissa had given birth to 13 children, 11 of which were still living. It is my goal to find the names of all of the children. I am almost certain they were in Clarke County at the time of the 1900 census because I found that he acquired land in 18975. However, since I can’t find them on any census outside of the two mentioned, I am going through the tax rolls available online for Clarke County to confirm that he was actually in the county during those time periods. In the meantime, I guess I will need to figure out if there is another way to identify all of the children.

Interestingly enough, when reviewing his death certificate, I also learned that he married a second time to a woman named Indianer6. Did his wife Malissa pass away or did they divorce? Each new record find seems to add more questions to my list. At this point, I have quite a few questions that I am trying to find the answer for about Grandpa Henry (and his family). I will continue on in my research on his children and siblings in hopes that it will give me the answers I seek.

This is my fourth post as a part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, created by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.


1. Mississippi State Board of Health, death certificate 17599 (1926), Henry Stokes; Death Certificates and Indexes; Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

2. New Hope Cemetery (Clarke County, Mississippi; County Road 691 GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 31.98102, Longitude: -88.67754), Henry Stokes, Sr. marker, photograph taken by Amy L Cole, September 2013.

3. 1870 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Quitman, p.18, family 95, Henry Stolks; digital image, ( accessed 2013); citing Family History Library microfilm: 552225.

4. 1910 U.S. census, Clarke County, Mississippi, population schedule, Quitman, p. 76, dwelling 652, family 652, Henry Stokes; digital image, ( 2013); citing Family History Library microfilm: 1374749.

5. Clarke County, Mississippi, U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907, ( accessed 27 July 2013), entry for Henry Stokes, T2N, R16E, S27; generically citing United States Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records as the source of this database.

6. Mississippi State Board of Health, death certificate 17599 (1926), Henry Stokes.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey. All rights reserved.

Cite This Page:
Amy L Cole, “52 Ancestors #4: Finding Henry STOKES,” Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, 16 March 2014 ( [access date]).

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Genealogy Year in Reflection: 2013

It’s the last day of 2013, so I have been reflecting on how the year has gone as it relates to my genealogy research.  As I think back, my year really started when I got the Exploring Our Roots & Finding Oprah’s Roots DVDs for Christmas.  That was followed by a mobile handheld scanner for my birthday on January 4th.  I was really excited because I had made such progress since I started in July 2012. But this year, I was determined to learn more about the process of researching genealogy and family history.

January 2013 – I watched every episode on those DVDs and made notes of comments that might help me in my research. I watched some of the archived webinars on  I also started organizing planning my first research trip to my hometown to gather documents and conduct interviews.

February 2013 – I conducted 3 phone interviews to prepare myself for the trip I was about to embark upon.  Toward the end of the month, I finally decided to order Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs.  I read parts of the book at the time, because I wanted to only review the parts that I would need for my trip.  Didn’t realize at the time that I really needed to read that book cover to cover before running off on a research trip!  Lesson learned.

March 2013 – I went on my first week-long research trip to Mississippi to my hometown.  I created a calendar and had everything planned out from visiting the cemeteries where my family was buried, the county courthouse (Clarke), the state archives (which is a 2 hour drive one-way from my parents), conducting interviews, and searching through the “family archives”.  I got to interview my 94 year old cousin, who was an absolute delight! I also got to meet some people on my Dad’s side of the family who I had not previously met, even though they only lived about 15 minutes away from my parents all my life.  My mom was my riding partner and she braved the cemeteries (deep in the woods of Mississippi), helped me dig in at the courthouse and the archives, sat through interviews and scanning sessions, helped me track down where funeral home records went, and contacted everyone she knew that could help me.  She is still helping me now with my questions and hunting down those that are living who can answer the questions that she doesn’t have the answers to.  March was an excited research month for me and I came back with lots of information for my research.  To top it all off, there was the birth of my 8th grand nephew (I have 5 grand-nieces as well)!

April 2013 – I started to attend genealogy seminars that were being held here in Atlanta. My first seminar was a lecture by Tony Burroughs and he signed my book!

May – September 2013 – I attended more seminars and even got my feet wet in The National Archives at Atlanta.  It was during these months that I realized that I was seriously unorganized!  I begin to catalog, scan and file.  I am still working on the organizing part (computer issues).  Didn’t realize I had so much stuff.  I did some research as well, adding to the pile! 🙂  I also started to join Facebook groups looking for guidance. It was through one of the groups that I was able to get the death certificate of my 2x great-grandfather, Henry Stokes, which included the names of his mother and father, taking me back another generation.

Richard Edwards, Jr.

Me and Uncle Richard

October 2013 – I lost my Uncle Richard.  Richard Edwards, Jr., born February 19, 1940 to Richard Edwards, Sr. and Maudie L. Sterling Edwards.  He passed away October 7, 2013.  We were hurt, but we know he is at rest and that we were blessed to have encountered him.  I cried as I recorded the date in my tree.  That was the hard part of genealogy for me.  I can still hear his laugh.  I am thankful that my sister and I were able to sing a joyful medley at his funeral.  I also got to meet his youngest son, a first cousin that I didn’t know existed.  October was hard, because my mother lost her brother and 2 cousins that month.  That is 4 deaths in all for my family for the year (1 on my dad’s side a few months earlier).

November 2013 – I refocused and started to research the Stokes side of my family.  I conducted a couple of phone interview and tasked myself with gathering vital records again.  On Thanksgiving Day, I met a cousin who added to my collection of funeral programs and even gave me a copy of a fictitious account of the lives of my Great-Granduncle Charlie Moody and Aunt Libby Stokes Moody.  The book is called Paw Charlie’s Triumphs by Roy Conner. I read it a day’s time…I was that excited!  I finally decided to finish reading Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs!  After I finishing that book, I also read Got Proof! by Michael Nolden Henderson in two day’s time. I love reading, can’t you tell!  November was also the month that I was able to obtain the death certificate of Taylor Stokes, father of Henry Stokes.  That death certificate had the name of his father, Kelly Stokes, taking me back yet another generation.

December 2013 – I started to focus on how to properly document my research.  My 9th grand-nephew was born!  I was connected to a cousin who is the keeper of the Stokes family tree.  Lastly, I joined AAGSAR and started this blog to share my research.

I’d say that was an ok year in genealogy, wouldn’t you?  I’m pretty excited to take it to the next level and see what my ancestors will show me in 2014!

Happy New Year & Happy Searching!


© 2013 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.

Collaborating With Cousins

I am so excited! Since joining in the past year, I have reached out to several persons that have the same ancestor on their family tree. These trees usually come through hints and when I review, I will send a note. It has taken months for some to reply, but lately they have been replying back to back for a the particular line that I am researching at the moment.

I have been researching the STOKES line because there is a family reunion this year. I want to learn as much as I can before attending. So, I am elated to have found 3 relatives who are also researching. One of my cousins just happens to be the keeper of the family tree and may have most of the details that I would be looking for.  He turned out to be the son of  my Great grand-uncle Alonzo Stokes that I was having trouble finding any information on!  Alonzo Stokes is the son of Henry Stokes and Malissa Pickett Stokes of Clarke County, Mississippi.

My cousin and I spoke today and while he does have a lot of information, there is much work to do to tie up loose ends.  He has mentioned some queries that he would like some help with and we are also talking about pulling together a website dedicated to family history for descendants of Taylor and Cornelia Stokes of Clarke County, Mississippi.  I love it!

Now, I must get to work!  I just wanted to share that having the courage to reach out and adding in much patience eventually pays off.

Happy Searching!


© 2013 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.