Friday, February 28, 2020

Her name was Lillie Mae

My paternal Grandpa, Carroll Harvey Lankford Sr. passed away on May 13, 1970. After the funeral, I distinctly remember someone approaching Daddy, telling him that he represented a woman who was Grandpa’s daughter. He wasn’t talking about the four daughters we all knew and loved—my Aunts Lucile, Alice, Liz, and Betty—he meant another daughter. That’s pretty much all I remember about that day. I don’t know if Daddy ever had any other contact with the man or the daughter he represented. Daddy talked about his family a lot but that was never part of the conversations we had. And to tell you the truth, I’d actually forgotten about her.

Now fast forward 50 years to February 9, 2020 when I should have been doing research for my next blog post but instead, started searching the Lankford surname on the Family Search website. New records are posted all the time so I periodically do my due diligence and check all of my “go to” sites. Normally, I’ll scan a few pages and then move on to do what I sat down to do. This particular day though, I kept going, page after page, until I saw the names C. H. Lankford and Eva Eskew who had a daughter named Lillie Mae Lankford in a Polk County, Georgia Index to Delayed Birth and Birth Certificates filed in 1942. Oh my, what had I stumbled on to? And then I remembered the secret daughter. Was this her? I had to know more about Lillie Mae.

Polk County, Georgia delayed birth record for Lillie Mae Lankford (click to enlarge)

I wasn’t prepared to go full blown research yet though. I first wanted to figure out whether there was a connection between Polk County and Greene County where my Grandpa lived most of his life. That part confused me because as far as I knew, he only lived in Greene and Oglethorpe Counties in Georgia during his lifetime.

I asked Mama what she remembered about the man at the funeral and she said only that he represented the daughter. My Aunt Betty remembered that Grandpa often spoke to a man in Greensboro but never thought much about it until he approached her at Grandpa’s grave site and asked if she knew she had another sister. She referred him to Aunt Lucile and Daddy thinking it was the wrong place and time to discuss. I asked a cousin what she knew and she’d never heard about the possibility of another aunt. A family secret that if anyone knew anything about, wasn’t discussed. So, what information do records provide?

Grandpa was married twice, first to Eva Eskew in Greene County, Georgia on March 28, 1913. I knew about her but always thought her last name was Askew. When I finally found the marriage certificate, I remember thinking that George A. Merritt, the Ordinary for Greene County, had misspelled her last name. I often see my maiden name Lankford spelled as Langford within the same family so perhaps the same thing happens with Eskew and Askew.

Marriage certificate for Carroll Lankford and Eva Eskew (click to enlarge)

His second marriage was to my Grandma, Floria Mae Burnette, also in Greene County, on March 12, 1922.

Marriage certificate for Carroll Lankford and Floria Burnette (click to enlarge)

On a side note, Grandma had a brother named Samuel A. Burnette who was married to Kittie “Lorene” Askew. For some reason, I thought Eva was Kittie’s sister which would mean her parents were William Clarence Askew and Adaline Ruth Mullins. But after I found the delayed birth index, I took a hard look at the 1900 and 1910 census records. Since Eva was born in 1895, she would have been enumerated with William and Adaline Askew in both census records if she was their daughter. It didn’t take long to see my mistake. In 1900, William “Clarence” Askew was still single and living at home with his parents. There was a daughter named Kittie in the home but she was his sister.

William Clarence Askew family in 1900 census (click to enlarge)

By 1910, William Clarence Askew was married to Adaline Ruth Mullins and they had five children. In the 1910 census record, you see Kittie L. but no Eva. If Eva was their daughter, she would have been four years old and should have been enumerated with the rest of the family.

William Clarence Askew family in 1910 census (click to enlarge)

So, I have determined that Eva was not their daughter and I have been wrong all this time. If you follow my tree on and have that connection, please take note—I’ve made the correction.

I next searched “Eva M. Eskew,” this time using the correct spelling of her last name, and found another Polk County delayed birth record (date filed unknown). It provided the names of Eva’s parents, William Kinch Eskew and Lizzie Channell.

Polk County Georgia delayed birth record for Eva Mae Eskew (click to enlarge)

Then I searched “William Kinch Eskew” and found a marriage record that shows Kinchen Askew and Elizabeth Channell were married in Greene County on March 9, 1890. So now we know that at some point, William Kinch (Kinchen) Eskew and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Channel lived in Greene County.

Kinchen Askew and Elizabeth Channell marriage license (click to enlarge)

In the June 21, 1900 census record, Eva’s father was enumerated with the martial status of “W,” or widowed. This means that Lizzie Channell Eskew died sometime between Eva’s birth on September 9, 1895 and this census record (I haven’t found a death record yet). William Kinch Eskew had also moved his family to the Poplar Springs District of Clayton County, Georgia. In this record, Eva’s birth year was recorded as September 1892, not 1895, but that often happens.

William Kinch Eskew family in 1900 census (click to enlarge)

Eva’s father married Annie Mae Merritt in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia on December 27, 1900. By the time the census was taken on April 26, 1910, he had moved his family to Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. Eva, age 16, was the oldest child in the home. This is the first record that I found her living in Greene County.

William Kinch Eskew family in 1910 census (click to enlarge)

To keep the timeline straight, remember that Grandpa married Eva Eskew in Greene County on March 28, 1913, three years after the 1910 census was taken. Lillie Mae Lankford was born in Polk County on January 12, 1916. Grandpa’s World War I service card shows he was inducted into the U.S. Army in Greensboro on September 6, 1917. The registration card shows that he was single when he registered. That would mean that Grandpa and Eva must have divorced shortly after Lillie was born in 1916.

World War I service card, Carroll Lankford (click to enlarge)

World War I registration card, Carroll Lankford (click to enlarge)

On January 13, 1920, I found Eva, enumerated as single and living as a boarder in Greensboro.

Eva Eskew in the 1920 census record (click to enlarge)

That same day, the census enumerator found Grandpa, single and living alone 7.5 miles away in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. It took me a while to find him since he was enumerated as Calvin.

Carroll Lankford in the 1920 census record (click to enlarge)

Below is a record from the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index for the period 1936–2007. In it, you see that Eva M. Eskew was married to William Lankford and had a child named Lillie Mae Hagan. William is clearly not my Grandpa’s name but if you read the blog I posted for him here, you’ll see that the paper trail often lists names that are incorrect. You’ll also notice that I made no mention of a fifth daughter, again because I forgot about her. Lillie Mae must have married a man whose last name was Hagan.

Social Security Applications and Claims Index for Eva M. Eskew (click to enlarge)

So, what do you think? Was the little girl, Lillie Mae Lankford, born nearly 104 years ago in Polk County, Georgia, my Grandpa’s oldest child? If so, Grandpa and Eva were married so why was she kept a secret all those years? I guess we’ll never know the answer to that question. If you’re researching these families and can provide insight into this mystery, I’d love to hear from you.


  • Carroll Lankford and Eva Eskew, Marriage Certificate, State of Georgia, County of Greene, recorded April 1, 1913.
  • Carroll Lankford and Florrie Barnett, Marriage Certificate, State of Georgia, County of Greene, recorded March 15, 1922.
  • Carroll Lankford, Georgia, World War I Service Cards, 1917–1919.
  • Carroll Lankford, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918.
  • Eva Mae Eskew, Births, Vital Statistics Index, Polk County, Georgia, date recorded unknown;
  • Kinchen Askew and Elizabeth Channell, Marriage License 271, State of Georgia, Greene County, recorded March 9, 1890.
  • Lillie Mae Lankford, Births, Vital Statistics Index, Polk County, Georgia, recorded 1942;
  • U.S. Federal Census, District 0043, Greene County, Georgia, 1900.
  • U.S. Federal Census, District 0056, Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, District 0058, Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia, 1920.
  • U.S. Federal Census, District 0063, Penfield, Greene County, Georgia, 1920.
  • U.S. Federal Census, District 0065, Hutchinson, Greene County, Georgia, 1910.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Poplar Springs, Clayton County, Georgia, 1900.
  • U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007.

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