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!

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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 Ancestry.com.  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!

~AmyC.

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

Collaborating With Cousins

I am so excited! Since joining Ancestry.com 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!

~AmyC.

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