Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Have a hard time explaining perambulating ancestors?

Some homes in the Agricola community in George County, Mississippi, are pictured above from a 1911 promotional booklet offering thousands of acres for sale.

Do you ever have trouble understanding why your ancestors changed their state of residence from census to census?

Because the farming community of Wilmer, Alabama, sits near the Mississippi state line, my Pierce families sometimes moved the short distance into the Magnolia State. So it is possible to find some ancestors in Mississippi for one census and then in Alabama for the next. Or brothers and sisters or grandparents might live just over the line in the next state.

Such is the case with N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964). Although his parents lived in the Pierce Level area of Mobile County, Alabama, for example, Bonie was born across the state line in Agricola, Mississippi. Agricola is located east and south of Lucedale in George County. At the time of Bonie's birth it was part of Jackson County, Mississippi.

It seems likely that Bonie's mother, Rebecca Crawley, went to Agricola to have her closest female relatives and friends to help her through the birth of her fourth child. Her first son, Cornelius, whom everyone called Neil, had been born in 1874. Charles, named after his father, followed in 1876 and daughter Emma in 1878.

We don’t know what happened exactly, but we do know that this delivery did not go as planned. Rebecca died giving birth to Bonie on June 16, 1880, or shortly thereafter. As we know, her newborn boy survived.

For some reason, according to family tradition, he wasn’t given a name and his father Charles and the other children simply called him Boy. That name served until Boy reached about age 11 when he decided to give himself the rather grand name of Napoleon Bonaparte Pierce. The family almost immediately nicknamed him Bonie, which also described his slender frame.

Do you have ancestors whose perambulations you have a hard time explaining?

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