Sunday, January 18, 2015

52 Ancestors - #19: Drucilla Henson (week 3 - a tough woman)

The week 3 theme for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge is a “tough woman.” After spending time pondering which of my female ancestors fit the theme I finally decided that I would blog about Drucilla Henson, my third great-grandmother. Drucilla has been a tough woman to research because we haven’t been able to locate all of the necessary records required to track her and her family. A timeline has been pieced together using the records we’ve found along with speculation on the missing pieces.

Taking a look back, in late 2000 my sister and I were just getting started on our Burnett(e) line. We knew our great-grandfather was Thomas Terrell Burnette. The family Bible listed his parents as Samuel P. Burnette and Virginia Overton. We started our research by looking at the message boards and quickly found a woman looking for Samuel and Virginia. A week or so later we discovered a man doing the same thing. That soon followed with two more researchers—all with the same goal. We were scattered across five states—Virginia, Georgia, Maine, Alabama, and Tennessee. For the most part, each of us could document our direct lines and were aware of Samuel and Virginia, but didn’t know much more. We shared what we knew, compared notes, and then set out to do more research. I offer here details found in records as well as our speculation.

In my Family Tree Maker file, I have Drucilla Henson listed as being born on January 22, 1818 in Knox, Tennessee. Her parents were William Henson and Charity Charlotte. I sourced this information based on an email from one of the researchers. Unfortunately, I don’t know where he got this info and he died a couple of years ago. The same researcher recalled stories being passed down that Burnett was not the original family name. He was told it might have been Cain, Caton, or Katon. He was also told that Samuel may have assumed the name of the family he lived with ... or he may have been an orphan. He recalled his grandmother telling him that somewhere back in the line a widow married a Burnett and the children assumed the name. Based on this information, he searched Georgia and Tennessee records and found a Knox County marriage record for a Drucilla Henson who married William Caton on September 26, 1840 in Knox County, Tennessee.

Knox County, TN marriage record for William Caton and Drucilla Henson
On October 3, 1850, the enumerator recorded Drucilla (age 31) living in Knox County with two children—Edward G. (age 6) and Mary E. (age 4), both born in Tennessee. On November 27, the enumerator recorded Samuel Caton (age 9, born in Tennessee) living in Blount County with Lucinda Hitch. What happened to William Caton? Did he die? Did he divorce Drucilla prior to the 1850 census? And who was Lucinda Hitch?

1850 Knox County, TN census record for Drucille, Edward, and Mary Caton
1850 Blount County, TN census record for Samuel Caton living with Lucinda Hitch
On June 26, 1860, the enumerator recorded Drucilla (age 38, born in Tennessee—issue with age here) in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia, married to Joseph Burnett (age 35, born in Virginia). Joseph’s occupation was Miller. The children in the home all had the surname Burnett:
  • Samuel, age 18, born in Tennessee
  • George, age 16, born in Tennessee (as in Edward George)
  • Elizabeth, age 15, born in Tennessee
  • Madison, age 4, born in Georgia
  • Francis, age 1, born in Georgia
Note the 11 year age gap between Elizabeth and Madison.

1860 Gwinnett County, GA census record for Drucilla, Joseph, and family
It’s assumed that Drucilla married Joseph B. Burnett about 1854 or 1855 and then moved to Georgia. It’s also assumed that Samuel left the Hitch household in Blount County and went back to live with his mother after she remarried. And finally, it’s assumed that Samuel, Edward, and Elizabeth changed their last name from Caton to Burnett after Drucilla married Joseph.

Sometime before 1864, the family moved to Newton County, Georgia where Joseph was listed in the “1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia.” On April 6, 1867, Joseph was recorded in the Newton County “Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 18671869.”

On September 22, 1870, Drucilla and Joseph lived in Conyers, Newton County, Georgia. Drucilla was “keeping house.” Only two children lived in the home now—Francis J. (age 12), and Laura S. (age 10, born in Georgia). Laura was born after the 1860 census. The family lived next door to John M. and Jane Overton and six houses from Abijah and Elizabeth Overton. John and Abijah Overton were brothers. Drucilla’s son Samuel would eventually marry Millicent Virginia Overton, daughter of Abijah and Elizabeth Overton. It’s fun to figure out how and/or where people meet.

1870 Newton County, GA census for Drucilla, Joseph, and family. John M. Overton lives next door.
Joseph is recorded in the Georgia Tax Digest (1872 – 1875). He lived in the Harbins District of Gwinnett County. The record shows that he had two of his own children living in the home between the ages of 6 and 18. Joseph is recorded in the Georgia Tax Digest (1873 – 1877). He lived in District 476 of Rockdale County. It’s not clear in either record what the exact tax year was.

On June 15, 1880, Drucilla and Joseph lived in District 476 of Rockdale County. The enumerator recorded two daughters living in the home—Laura (age 18—another age issue) and Jane (age 16).

1880 Rockdale County, GA census record for Drucilla, Joseph, and family. Last record found.
I don’t find anything for Drucilla and Joseph after the 1880 census. It’s like they dropped off the face of the Earth. I assume they’re buried in Gwinnett, Newton, or Rockdale Counties since that’s where they lived after moving to Georgia but really have no clue. So many questions – what happened to William Caton? Why was Samuel living with Lucinda Hitch and how was she connected to the family? When and where did Drucilla and Joseph marry? Did the Caton children change their last name to Burnett legally? Are we totally off-base in our speculation? I need to track down more records—death, marriage, etc. to try to answer some of these questions. It’s on my list. Drucilla is definitely one of the toughest problems in my tree.

By the way, group research can be so much fun. Each person brings something different to the table. Try it sometime if you haven’t done so already. We had a ball and made new friendships along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment