Additions: 14 Aug 2009

[EDIT – See edit note in the paragraph below if you read this entry prior to 9am on Aug 15 2009]

My trip to Morgan Co was interesting today. First the facts. I’ve made the following additions to the site as a result of my trip:

  • Marriage License: Zeno and James Hawk
  • Headstone Photos: James Hawk
  • Find-a-Grave memorial created for James Hawk
  • Marriage License: William Thomas and Lula Ratliff
  • Land Purchase Record – James Barefoot buying land just up the road from Mt. Tabor Methodist church in 1877.
  • Land Purchase Record – Peter buying land right next to Barefoot’s also in 1877 (same day).

That’s not a bad day’s work. I was hoping to find the grave of Zeno, but no such luck. She’s not listed in any cemetery indices for the county. James Hawk (her husband) is buried not 100 feet from Mahaza and Stephen Banks, and his marker is a family style marker, but no one else is listed on it. So perhaps she’s buried with him and it just wasn’t marked. I didn’t find a death record for Zeno either. And I think her first marriage was in another county or perhaps even SC, so no license turned up for that one either.

Now for the real brain teaser! Let me give you a narrative for Stephen Banks and then once I’m done I’ll throw a monkey wrench in it. Stephen Banks, son of James Banks and Mahaza, was born in 1846 in SC. In 1873 he married Anna Thompson. They never had any children of their own, but in 1897 they adopted a son (about 6 years old) named John Livingston. John’s birth mom was Viola Livingston. The adoption paperwork says she’s giving him up because she can’t afford to take care of him and he has no father. Census records bear this out. Stephen and Anna remain together until parted by death (Stephen’s in 1913). This is born out by census records which not only show them together until he died, but never list any children other than John B Bradley (the adopted child took the Bradley name). If you go to Stephen’s page and study the documentation, this narrative is pretty airtight. There is little speculation required.

Now for the wrench. The Morgan Co Heritage book says that Stephen and Viola had a child (although it doesn’t say they were married) in 1895 named Bessie Pearl. It goes on to say that this Bessie married a Puckett. I wasn’t sure what to do with the information, but the more I studied my documentation, the more positive I became that this was an error. They were simply never married, and Stephen wasn’t Bessie’s father. In fact, I had her listed as a child on his page at one point, but I was so sure, I deleted her last night. So why am I telling you all this, then? Because today, as I walked past Mahaza’s headstone, I finally glanced at the large headstone that almost butts up against hers. In fact, it could almost be said to sit between hers and Stephens. The name on the headstone? Bessie Pearl Puckett.

[EDIT – I have since also noticed that Bessie’s husband, David Warren Puckett, lived next door to Stephen and Anna as a child on the 1910 census of Morgan Co. So now not only are he and Bessie buried next to Stephen and Mahaza, but David lived right next door to Stephen in 1910. You can view this by going to Stephen’s 1910 census record and looking at the family immediately below his. I’ve also added an image below of the paragraph where I first read of this relationship.]

So now I’m at a loss. Check it out. Click on the photos to get descriptions.

I don’t know what to do now other than try to find Bessie on as many census as I can and hopefully put her story together. I also have the home address of the person that wrote the article claiming Bessie is the daughter of Stephen Banks. I may write her and ask if she has an explanation.


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