Thursday, March 3, 2011

Keeping Up With the Joneses III

Mathew Jones family; census images from
So far, in tracing my Jones family history, I’ve gone back from my grandfather James Dewey Jones to his parents Jacob Jones (1866-1951) and Nancy Rosanna “Rosa” Barnes (1872-1948).  While I haven’t yet obtained all the primary documentation I would like, I have obtained enough to prove the “living memory” recollections of my father and his siblings.  That isn’t considered acceptable by many genealogists, amateur or professional, but in this case I’m willing to take the risk and continue on up the ancestral stream.  The documentation I have obtained suffices for now.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are no surviving records of the 1890 US census, so we have to jump back 20 years to the 1880 census to pick up that particular thread.  In looking for a Jake or Jacob Jones of around 14 in 1880 in Bulloch County, I come up with one likely suspect.  His parents are Mathew and Emaly Jones, aged 45 and 40 respectively.  Not really enough to go on, but enough to pursue.  I checked the 1870 and 1900 census records for Mathew & Emaly & family, and came up with close matches, though Mathew is called “Mack” on the 1870 census.  But here’s where a little serendipity comes in.

Many researchers will tell you to pick one line of your family tree and pursue that in order to avoid getting lost or confused in the mass of data you can collect.  I must confess to being rather liberal in my definition of a family line.  When researching a paternal line, I try to go at least one branch out with children and spouses.  I don’t dig too hard, but if the data can be turned up without much difficulty I go ahead and grab the documents and citations.  Yes, sometimes I get distracted on a collateral line for a few days or more, but this isn’t a race, people!  

Green B. Barnes family; census images from
Anyway, when looking for information on my great-grandparents on the Georgia’s Virtual Vault website I found two Jones-Barnes marriage certificates issued by Bulloch County, one for “Mr. John Jones and Miss E.C Barnes” in 1886 and one for “Mr. Jacob Jones & Miss Rosie Barnes” in 1891.  Plus a death certificate for Ella C. Jones, wife of John Jones, who died 13 March, 1927.  Her parents were given on the death certificate as G. B. Barnes and Missoria Beasley.  Additionally, on the 1880 census record for Bulloch County where I found Rosa (bottom of one sheet carrying over to the top of the next sheet) it shows the household consisting of Green B., Masoria, Ellen C., James H., Willis R., Rosa, Molly A. E., Magga M., John G. & Sarah Barnes, and 18-year-old laborer John Jones.  And they were just a few census sheets away from the listing for Mathew Jones & family, which doesn’t list John on the 1880 census.

Want still more serendipity?  When I was reviewing my research for this posting, I noticed that Ella’s death certificate listed the place of burial as Brooklet Cemetery.  On a whim, I looked up Brooklet Cemetery on the Find A Grave website, and found it.  I typed just the last name Jones into the search box for that cemetery and Bingo!, I found them, not only had user nu2ga created an online memorial, but the user had also posted pictures of their gravesite (  What’s more nu2ga (aka Allie Woodard), the kind person who created the Find A Grave memorial for John and Ella also posted a transcript of his 1950 obituary from the obituary file of the Statesboro Regional Library, though no further citation was available.  It says, in part:
     Statesboro, Ga., March 19 - John Jones, 88, died early this afternoon after an illness of several months. He was a native of Bulloch County and had lived in the Brooklet community most of his life….
     Survivors include one son, Rufus Jones, Savannah; two daughters, Mrs. T.J. Hagin of Statesboro, and Mrs. W.J. Richter, Savannah; one sister, Mrs. Nicie O'Quinn, Savannah; four brothers, J.M.D. Jones, Cyler Jones and Rafe Jones, all of Statesboro; and Jake Jones of Port Wentworth…
Find A Grave website: John Jones
So, though this isn’t primary source material, it is valuable supporting secondary source material.  The surviving siblings listed in the obituary match the children included on the various census records where Mathew “Mack” Jones & his wife Emily are recorded.  Whew!  This has been a journey.  I’ve got a little bit more on the Joneses, and I’ll cover that in one more post if you’ll bear with me!

Here’s your summary:

  • It probably is best to focus on one family line (one surname) at a time, but don’t be afraid to be a little generous in bending that rule.  You can often fill in the nearby family members quite easily while you’re documenting you primary line of descent.  And you never know when the people you encounter may come in handy in finding your own direct line ancestors, even though they are distant aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • To repeat (because it bears repeating frequently): Families weren't always consistent or particularly accurate with names or ages when talking to the census takers.  When conflicts arise, try to arrive at a reasonable decision based on a preponderance of evidence.
  • Marriage and death records can often be found online at Georgia’s Virtual Vault, a digital document resource from the Georgia Archives and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
  • This also bears frequent repeating: Find A Grave, at is a wonderful online resource, though it’s not exhaustive.  My bookmark for the site goes straight to the search page at  It’s a searchable database of user-submitted cemetery and graveyard information from around the world, though the majority of the listings seem to be in the USA.  Because it’s user-submitted, not all cemeteries and graveyards are covered, and every gravesite isn’t listed.  But it does have a surprising number, with more being constantly added.  Additionally, many have pictures of the tombstone or other grave marker.  So search the site and consider joining.  It’s free.  And you could do a great service to the wider community by joining and contributing wherever you can, even if it’s just a few pictures of your close relatives graves.

Later y’all,


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