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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Finding James Garrett before 1874

Brian asked:
I am looking for my great-great-grandfather, James Buchanan Garrett, on either the 1860 or 1870 census. More specifically, I am simply looking for any reference to where he was prior to 1874, which is the earliest documentation I have! Here's what I do know:

James Buchanan Garrett was born on 29 Dec 1855 at Indiana. He married Martha Elizabeth Hobbs on 27 Jan 1874 at Sulphur Springs, Hopkins, Texas. He and Martha Elizabeth Garrett appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Justice's Precinct No. 5, Kaufman, Texas, at Enumeration District No. 41, enumerated 9 Jun 1880. Their children Mary E, William Thomas and Martha E were listed as living with them. He and Martha Elizabeth Garrett appeared on the 1900 Federal Census of Justice Precinct No. 5, Kaufman, Texas, at Enumeration District No. 79, enumerated 25 Jun 1900. Their children Della E, Grover Cleveland, Eddie Luther and Robert Nicholas were listed as living with them. He died on 17 Dec 1904 at Scurry, Kaufman, Texas, at age 48.

The only other additional information I have that might be of any significance was found from the only probate record in Kaufman County that had anything to do with James or his wife. I found a package of papers in which he is named guardian of two minor females, Polly Ann Stroud and Rebecca DeLay in 1885. I checked the 1880 census to see where those two girls were prior to being passed to James. I found both of them together in Hopkins County, Texas. That in itself rang a bell because Hopkins County is where James and Martha were married.

Pulling up the census page, I found a "Mauel" Stroud and wife Sarah J. (I can't for the life of me make out a clearer name for the husband). With them at the home was daughter, Martha E., age 13 and daughter Polly A., age 3. Also with them was Rebecca Delay, age 5, listed as neice. The interesting thing is that living next door to the Strouds was Elijah Garrett, 63 years old, wife Hettie E., 46, and son Levi, 26. Elijah and Hettie were both born in Tennessee and interestingly enough... Levi was born in Indiana!

According to James' census from 1880, both his parents were born in Tennessee and he was born in Indiana. Could perhaps James and Levi been brothers? They were right about the same age... Only two years apart. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find Elijah, Hettie, or Levi on any other censuses

I would like to find something that gives me a location for James prior to 1874

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Brian - you have really done a lot of in-depth research gathering facts and putting bits and pieces of circumstantial evidence together. Because you presented it all to me in such an organized and detailed fashion, I really didn't want to edit any of it for this blog, but I did take out a few sentences here and there.

It is a challenge. I kept this question from you for a month as every now and then I went back to puzzle over it some more! I'll preface this with saying that I did not find the answer to your question but perhaps what I did find will help in some way.

An Public Tree "SWANSON" has Elijah Garrett born 1816 marrying twice - first to Mary (no surname) in 1837 and secondly to Hattie E. Stockton in 1872. So the Levi Stroud you found in 1880 was not the son of Hattie but rather of Mary IF this tree is accurate.

Levi provides his parents birth places as Tennessee for his father and Indiana for his mother. Sarah, the wife of M. (Manual?) Stroud also says her father and mother were born in the same locations. With the two families living side by side and the fact that your James Garrett ended up being a guardian for M. and Sarah Stroud's daughter Polly, I think you may find that Sarah is a daughter of Elijah and Mary Garrett, and that your James is indeed another sibling. I also like the fact that your James named his firstborn daughter "Mary" (after his mother if he does fit with this family)

The tree also shows William Garrett born 1788 North Carolina died 1852 Hopkins Texas as Elijah's father. I found William and his family in 1840 Census in Rains Co. Texas and in 1850 in Hopkins Texas but no Elijah. However here's something intriguing... the Family Tree shows Elijah born in Gibson Indiana (the 1880 census says Tennessee but we all know Census can be wrong) In the 1870 census for Gibson Indiana I find an Amos Stroud 28 born Alabama with wife Sarah J. b Indiana age 30something (can't read the age very well) and daughter Martha E. b Indiana age 2. I'm intrigued because it is the only Stroud family I can find that "fits" with your 1880 Stroud family living next door to Elijah. I know the father is the wrong birth place but is it possible this is the (Manuel?) in the 1880 census? It's something for you to pursue.

I did find Levi Garrett born August 1854 in the 1900 census for Kaufman, Texas. He is listed as a cousin to Presley M. Garrett. According to online trees, Presley was the son of Charles and the grandson of Presley (who was a brother to Elijah) So the plot thickens! It's still not proof of your James fitting in this family but I think you will have to search all of these individuals backwards and forwards to try to see how/if each fits with the other.

This is quite a challenging puzzle, and you may want to consider that your family used first and middle names interchangeably, or were recorded in census years with a first initial only. Of course there are also spelling variations and transcription/index errors to consider!


  1. There is not a 1840 Rains Co. TX census since the county was not formed until 1870.

  2. I'm very glad you spotted my mistake Scott. I misread my scribbled research notes when typing my response out for this blog.

    Thankfully I save my research notes so I was able to go back and find out what I meant to type!

    What I found was mention in the online Tree of William being in Rains County in 1840. As you correctly pointed out, I didn't find him in a census for that year and location.

    Thanks again for your eagle eye!