I recently was notified of a Family Finder match on Family Tree DNA. We share 82.61 cM’s, and he and my brother share 125.23 cM’s, both suggested as 2nd-4th Cousin Matches by FTDNA. His last name is Spencer, not a known surname to me, and he listed only that surname, with locations in Texas and Oklahoma. He listed his oldest known paternal ancestor as Ollie Spencer and his oldest known maternal ancestor as Pearlie Wheat. Luckily, these two ancestors were married to each other, so I was able to find the correct family on Ancestry.com. (I did try emailing Mr. Spencer who hasn’t replied yet.)
Ollie M. Spencer married Paralee (Pearl Lee) Wheat on 23 August 1906 at Comanche, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory (southern Oklahoma.) On the 1910 census they are living with Paralee’s step-father, Joseph T. Cook, age 42, and mother Alice E. (Brink) Cook, age 41, in Stephens County, Oklahoma. Paralee is 21; the census gives her birthplace as Texas. Siblings of Paralee are Samuel E., age 16; Ella M., age 13; Mary R., age 12; Ethel M., age 9; Jesse E., age 7, and Fannie V., age 5, all with the surname Wheat. Others listed on the census were obviously children of Joseph T. Cook, presumably by a deceased wife, the oldest being 20 and the youngest age 9; the remaining child, Annie L. Cook, age 1, was almost certainly the child of Joseph and Alice.
|1910 census, Stephens Co., OK|
Cooks, Wheats, Spencers
Thanks to some Public Trees on Ancestry.com, I found Alice on the 1870 census with her parents, Jacob and Anna Brink in Milam, Texas. Alice was 8 months old. Turning to FamilySearch, I found the marriage of A.L. Brink to J.A. Wheat on 28 May 1885 in Milam, Texas. Is this my J.A. Wheat? I’m almost certain it is. The timing is just right. The last child of J.A. Wheat and Cynthia Ming was Thomas J., born in 1884. Cynthia remarried in 1890. But where I had assumed that J.A. (Those initials again! That right there almost convinces me it’s the same man.) had died, apparently he and Cynthia either divorced, or he abandoned the family. Many of the same Public Trees indicate that J.A. (or sometimes Joseph) Wheat was born in Scotland, which is probably why none of them have been able to trace him any further. I can’t imagine where that came from, but it’s possible one person posted it on Ancestry.com, and others have copied that information. I’m pretty sure I can connect him to the other Wheat families of Grayson Co. (See the post “The Mystery of J. Wheat.”)
I do question how J.A. ended up in Milam County in 1885 where he married Alice. While still in northeastern Texas, it is far from his original counties of residence, Grayson and Collin. However, if you look at my Wheat family in general, they moved around a lot within that region of northeastern Texas and southern Oklahoma. Cynthia was born in Grayson Co. but moved to Collin Co. before my grandfather was a year old; she married Thomas L. Rhodes in Parker Co., TX. My grandfather John enlisted in the Army in 1906 in Logan Co., OK, while living in Pawnee Co.—a considerable distance; John and his brother worked on a ranch in Cottle Co., TX; John married my grandmother in Hughes Co., registered for WWI in Oklahoma Co., and died in Seminole Co. And back to J.A.--if you’re going to abandon your first wife, you want to do it as far from where she is as possible.
J.A. finally came to rest (literally and figuratively) in Stephens Co., OK. According to Findagrave, J.A. Wheat is buried in the Diamond Cemetery in Stephens Co. in southern Oklahoma. His birthdate is given as 15 February 1859, which dovetails nicely with his birthdate/age on the 1880 Collin Co. census where I originally found him with Cynthia Ming and her family. His date of death is given as 12 April 1906, about a year after the birth of his youngest child with Alice, and a couple of years before Alice married Joseph Cook. Some Public Trees list his place of death as Haskell in northeastern Oklahoma, so it’s possible that he had wandered again and Alice had his body brought to Stephens Co., where she was living, for burial. He seems to be the only Wheat buried in that cemetery.
|J.A. Wheat headstone|
This is a perfect example of how traditional genealogical research and DNA results can work together to document the life of an ancestor. I am now pretty sure that I have documented J.A. Wheat’s life from beginning to end. I wish I had more definitive proof that he was the son of Henry and Caroline (Farris) Wheat, but as I accumulate more DNA matches, perhaps that will come.