Finding Sarah Walker Smith in Shreveport

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, because I have been hunting Sarah!
Whenever I’m researching, different songs pop in my head that seem to reflect my state of mind at the time. It usually happens about 2am after I’ve been searching for several hours, I think it’s my brains way of saying go to bed!
Sarah’s song is All Around The World by Lisa Stanfield,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2V2YwiFqNU

I substitute Sarah’s name for “baby” it just keeps running through my head, from one census record to another LOL!

Sarah Walker Smith was my maternal Great- Great- Grandmother. I first found Miss Sarah in the 1900 census living in Shreveport, Ward 3, Caddo Parrish, Louisiana. She’s living with, Susie Jackson age 31, Sam Smith age 44, Julia Smith age 14, Elizabeth Smith age 13, Rosa Smith age 12, Virginia Smith age 7 and Mingo Lovelady age 17, Sarah is 34. Susie Jackson is listed as head of household, Sam, Sarah and Mingo are listed as boarders.

1900 Census Shreveport
1900 Census Shreveport

The actual transcription list Sarah as the daughter of Susie(Sarah is older than Susie)…and Virginia as being 27 (Virginia is Sarah’s daughter)! Of course I looked at the actual census, did the math and submitted corrections. Another reminder to look at the census with your own eyes and NOT rely on what the transcriber saw!

Over the summer I took a genealogical road trip that included Shreveport, it was there that I found the marriage license and certificate issued for Sarah Walker and Samuel Smith! Boy did I do some jumping up and down, I now had Sarah’s maiden name! They were married October 17, 1881. I wish I could read all the names of the witnesses, one looks like Ann Smith. I’m sure I could solve some more puzzles if I could read the other names.

Marriage Certificate Sarah Walker Samuel Smith

Weeks and weeks of head banging and Sarah’s song going around in my head trying to locate Sarah prior to 1900, I reached out to a Facebook friend, Pam Camacho, to share my frustration. I was ready to hire a researcher! She suggested I reach out to a Facebook friend of hers, Cynthia Wilson. Once Cynthia and I connected I gave her what I had and wished her luck! (Here’s where another pair of eyes, a different way of seeing things and years of genealogy research trumps head banging)
Cynthia got back to me the next day she had found Miss Sarah in the 1800 census! To say that I was surprised is putting it mildly! I read Cynthia’s email and went to see what she had found.

1880 Sarah WalkerWait! Wait! Wait hold up! This can’t be her! Her place of birth and place of birth for her parents are different from what it shows in the 1900 census! In 1900 it’s listed that she was born in Arkansas and so were her parents. This 1880 census lists her and her parents as being born in Texas! Email back to Cynthia. Email from Cynthia back to me, Samuel Smith is also listed a few blocks away with an Ann Smith who based on age is probably his mother! Oh… Wait Sam in 1900 says his parents were born in South Carolina, in 1880 North Carolina is listed!

More head banging and now head shaking.

Having spent 25 years as a police officer my thinking is geared towards facts and these facts just didn’t add up! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it as many times as is required, I will NEVER stop learning until the day I’m dead!
So this wonderful woman, Cynthia Wilson, responded to my email this way,
After many years of researching (since 1993), I’ve learned from a pro that birth places/dates can be very misleading. You have to remember that the Census Taker is getting information from family, friends, next door neighbors, occupants of the same household, unrelated to the head or others within that household.

If you are looking for perfection in information regarding your family, you are not going to find it. I often tell my students that if the age is within 5 years or less, your match is probably good. If the years of marriage don’t match the ages of the children, then it’s a good guess that the children are either the 2nd husband’s children or the wife’s children by another man. The children may even assume the surname of the mother’s husband.

If you notice, Sarah is 15 years old – maybe she doesn’t know for sure or her employer gave the information. By the time she is a grown woman, she’s decided Arkansas was where she was born.
Thank you one again Cynthia!

Armed with this knowledge I dug deeper into the 1880 census and guess who else I found living four doors away, Mingo Lovelady! This Mingo is not the same one living with Sarah and family in 1900 because he’s 50 years old but I believe he is the father, even though there is also a difference in place of birth, how many men can there be with the same exact name! Coincidence? I think not!
Not only had Miss Sarah been found but Samuel as well! Now, who is Ann Smith, mother, sister? Another mystery for another day!

I have learned that Louisiana, the northwest section in particular is part of a socio-economic region where Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma intersect. That helps in bringing some understanding of the different birthplaces.

Sarah Walker Smith was born about 1865 or January 1866 in either Arkansas or Texas. She lived in Shreveport Louisiana in 1900. It’s listed in that census that she bore seven children, five of which were living at the time. Only four are listed as living with her, who are the other three?
The more information I find, the more question I have that need answers. I will give voice to my Great– Great- Grandmother.

PS I think Ann Smith is in fact Samuel’s mother and my great grandmother, Julia Ann, was given Ann as a middle name and my mother was named after her grandmother, Julia Ann!

Smile Momma 🙂

9 thoughts on “Finding Sarah Walker Smith in Shreveport

  1. Great post Donna! And I can certainly relate to how certain melodies, songs, and passages that we’ve read in books just seem to go hand-in-hand with our research efforts! I will be publishing a post soon where my discovery quickly brought to mind a passage from Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” for me — LOL!

    I really like how you are connecting and seeking the help of others with your research too. Ms. Wilson is on point when she says, “If you are looking for perfection in information regarding your family, you are not going to find it.” I’ve learned early that census records, though a genealogist’s gold mine, are filled with errors on both parts — the enumerator and our ancestors, or person, giving the facts. That’s why it is very important that we have in our files multiple records to analyze. Now that you’re on the trail again — I look forward to more information and discoveries about your family!

    Like

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