I started looking for the Smiths back in the Soundex, microfilm, pre-computer database days. Knowing that my Smiths came from Waterloo, Lauderdale County, Alabama, that’s where I started. But of course, I couldn’t start with the 1890 census, just before Stephen Albert’s family came to Oklahoma. I finally found a family that I thought was his on the 1880 census in Lauderdale County—even though some of the names seemed unfamiliar.
E.D. 140 Lauderdale County, AL June 10, 1880
Steve Smith age 34 born AL
Francis Smith age 30 born AL
Marry age 8 born AL
Eller age 7 born AL
Willice age 4 born FL
Stephen Albert was “Steve”; Fannie was “Francis”. Marry could be Molly, as that is often a nickname for Mary. I’m always amused when the census taker spells what he hears, because obviously “Eller” is Ella, spoken in a Southern country accent. Who the heck were Willice and Martha? And did that really say that Willice was born in Florida, a locale not ever associated with my Smiths?
Next door are Lizzie Cotton and her son William Mansil. I suspected Lizzie could be Fannie’s mother because she was the right age (69), and my grandmother had told me that Fannie’s maiden name was Cotton. I had no idea who William Mansil was, although the census said that he was Lizzie’s son.
That was it. I couldn’t find anything else. Back in those days, you really needed to know a county name to find anything on microfilm, and Stephen and Fannie were just not in Lauderdale County in 1870. That was the only place in Alabama that I knew that they ever lived. My grandfather and grandmother had died; there was no-one to ask. I found an old book of phone numbers that belonged to my grandmother and called a Smith cousin, daughter of Barbara, who told me that before Waterloo, the Smiths were from Pike County, around Montgomery.
Now I had somewhere to look. No wonder I hadn’t been able to find Stephen in the 1870 Alabama census index. Here’s what I found.
Pike County, AL Post Office: Orion August 15, 1870
Samuel A. Smith age 25
Frances Smith age 22
Living next door are William A. Mansel, William W. Cotton and Elizabeth Cotton. This helped determine that Samuel really was Stephen. Just a couple of years ago I was finally able to find Stephen and Fannie’s marriage license. They were married the 9th day of January, 1868. Previously, their daughter Mary (Molly) had seemed to be the oldest child, but she was not born until 1872. Apparently, they had had a child in 1869, Sarah, who did not survive to be enumerated on the 1880 census.
I had connected Fannie with her mother, if not her father, but I still had questions about her, and I knew nothing about Stephen Albert’s parents or siblings.