Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Finding Granny Jerkins

I started researching Jerkins at my mother's request. When she was a child, her mother had told her many times how much she favored Granny Jerkins. None of her sibs could ever remember even hearing the name. Could I, she asked, find out who Granny Jerkins was? I told her that I would try.

It turned out to be a little easier than I suspected. Mama's mother, my grandmother, was Callie Vedora Campbell (1895-1974), daughter of Jackson LeGrand Campbell (1868-1937) and Alice Vedora Peacock (1873-1929). It seemed a reasonable approach to consider that if my grandmother was calling a woman Granny Jerkins, and stating that her daughter looked like that woman, then the Granny Jerkins in question might likely be my Granny's granny.  Job one, then, was to find out whether Jackson LeGrand Campbell's mother or Alice V. Peacock's mother was a Jerkins.

That turned out to be pretty simple, too, although it took some patience.  The 1880 Census of Ozark, Dale County, Alabama reported 11 year old Jackson Campbell in the household of  Will and Mary Campbell. Looking back to the 1870 Census of Dale County, Alabama, I found J. L. Campbell in the household of W. E. and M. A. Campbell.  And, when it finally arrived, Jackson L. Campbell's death certificate named his parents as  William E. Campbell and Mary Jerkins.

So Granny Jerkins was Mary A. Jerkins, mother of my mother's grandfather. But who was Mary A. Jerkins? According to the 1900 U.S. Census, she was born in October, 1843 in Alabama.  A search of the 1860 U.S. Census reports revealed a Mary Jerkins, age 15, in the household of R. W. and Elizabeth Jerkins. Further investigation proved that this was Robert Wilson and Elizabeth Jerkins.

An online search of digital databases at the Alabama State Archives found that Susan Elizabeth Jerkins, widow of Robert Wilson Jerkins, filed for a Widow's Pension from the State of Alabama based on Robert Wilson Jerkins's service in the Civil War.  A newspaper article in the Dothan Eagle, on the 50th year anniversary of the founding of the City of Dothan, Alabama, named William Jesse Jerkins, as a son of this couple and stated that Susan Elizabeth Jerkins' maiden name was Daniel.

A search of land records at the Bureau of Land Managment-General Land Office website found that Robert Wilson and S.E. Jerkins had filed for a homestead grant in Geneva County, Alabama. Unfortunately, Robert Wilson Jerkins died prior to the final granting of the title to the property, giving all of his children a possible share in the land. When Robert W.'s widow Susan E. Jerkins, decided to sell the property, it was determined that the best way to prevent any question of later legal entanglements over ownership of the property was to have all of Robert Wilson Jerkins' heirs sign a statement that they were relingquishing all rights to the property as his heirs, and agreeing to Susan Elizabeth Jerkins' sale of the property.  Mary A. M. Campbell signed as one of the heirs.

So there we have it, Mama, Granny Jerkins was Mary A. M. Jerkins, wife of your great grandfather, William E. Campbell, mother of your grandfather, Jackson L. Campbell, and daughter of Robert Wilson Jerkins and Susan Elizabeth Daniel. She was born in October of 1843 and died in October of 1928, just three months shy of your 2nd birthday. You never had a chance to meet her, but she almost certainly met you, and maybe that is enough.

That is Granny Jerkins in the photo of your mother's family just below. She is the white haired woman sitting on the right in the dark blouse and light skirt. You will recognize your grandfather and grandmother to her left - and the girl standing behind her on the right is your mama. I got the picture from your cousin, Don Waite, who I met online and via email. He apologized for the quality and said that the original was just the same. Shucks, I thought that for bringing to life someone who before was just a name, it does a pretty good job.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

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