How to Search for Illegitimate Families
What if your someone in your family did not marry, yet had children? You possibly know the first name, but not the surname. Let us say that John Smith and Mary had seven children listed on the 1850 Census yet you never found a marriage record. Further, members of your family hinted that the children were illegitimate. And you followed the trail of the census, deed records, for the places they resided, wills and estates where there was scant information. Here is a problem to be resolved. John Smith left Virginia in 1812 with several children.
First, the War of 1812 militia records were examined at the National Archives which indicated that John Smith served in a militia company located at an outpost on the border of Jasper County, known as Fort Defiance. There was a promise of a land grant for those who signed up for the War of 1812 after the service of five years. Tracking John Smith was difficult, however, the last record was in Clarke County on the 1825 Tax Digests. Also, appearing the tax records (as well as census records) were several people of the appropriate age to have been his children. One, in particular, was Archibald Smith who assigned certain names to his children. These names all appeared to contain a surname. It was almost as though Archibald was leaving a subtle trail of clues of kin people which he chose not to forget. For example, the first son was named William Edward Smith. Archibald had married a daughter of Edward Jenkins. Thus, the tradition of naming the first son after the parents fit. William (for William Smith) and Edward (for Edward Jenkins). The remaining children had obvious surnames, such as Harrison Ramsey Smith. There was a Harrison Smith who resided near Archibald Smith in 1840. The Ramsey portion was baffling. However, there was a Henry Ramsey, Revolutionary War Soldier from Abbeville County, South Carolina in Henry County, Georgia. He made no mentiion of Mary Smith in his last will and testament. However, while several children were born in Virginia, two of Mary's children were born in South Carolina! A further examination of the records in Abbeville County revealed that some of the relatives of John Smith were also in that county. The next step was to research a Moses Smith also on the 1825 Clarke County tax digest. And, later an Edward William Smith who resided in the abandoned home of John Smith in the 1840s who removed to Carroll County and was listed as a gold miner. Because the naming of Mary's children used surnames of real people in the area, assembling all of these pieces on individual family group sheets began to paint a picture of subtle relationships of all of these families. Finally, when all of the movements of each family was known, it was obvious that Mary Ramsey was the unwed mother of the children of Archibald Smith. In this instance, a factual record never emerged as absolute proof of the assumptions made here. The history of the times, the migratory trails, census and tax records, deeds and the examination of old estate and wills of all of the families concerned combine to piece together the puzzling lives of illegitimate children.
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Baker County Wills and Estates
Baker County was created on Dec. 12, 1825 by an act of the General Assembly and was formed from the entire eastern portion of Early County. Early Settlers: Henry Brown, A. S. Cook, John Fennell, C. Galloway, J. A. Gassett, Amos Grant, H. Hall, Fred Metts, C. F. Norris, Elijah Pearce and Thomas Robinson.
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Names of Testators: Allen, Louisa;Atkison, John;Bailey, Benjamin;Bailey, William;Baker, Georgia;Ball, Sallie;Butler, William;Fleming, Thomas;Gallaway,Cornelius;George, James;Hall, Ella;Hall, H. H.;Hall, Warren;Hay, Olivia;Holt, Taft;Ivey, Elizabeth;Ivy, Anne;Jackson, Martha;Jones, Harriett;Jones, Reuben;Kerney, John;Kidd, Cornelia;Livingston, W. C.;Lyons, George;Mackey, Gus;Mathis, Henry;Mathis, L. J.;McRainey, M. A.;Nesbitt, Thomas;Norris, Charlie;Odum, Andrew;Odum, Purd;Perry, John;Rhodes, R. M.;Russell, Otto;Stamper, M. W.;Tanner, John;Thomas, Crawford;Thomas, Patsy;Weathersby, Helen;Williams, Dennis;Williams, W. D.;Young, Ashley;Young, Mary
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