Let us continue on this exciting search for your ancestors of color. I hope you were able to obtain at least a small amount of data from your older relative or relatives. Now, we will use that data to “shake your family tree to its roots”. I suggest you use blank genealogy forms for recording and organizing your family history data. These forms can be found free at http://www.archives.gov/research/genealogy/charts-forms/. The first form we will use is called a “family group sheet”. Initial information recorded on these sheets will probably change once you search official records (censuses, death certificates, etc.) to document your family history.
As an example of how to trace your lineage and record information you have gathered, we return to the case of M. Walker and his grandmother Mattie Stuckey. After another discussion with M. Walker, we learned that Mattie Stuckey was called Mattie Lee, and Stuckey was most likely her birth or maiden name. He also stated, “her birthday was July 29”. We don’t expect to find a birth certificate for Mattie Lee Stuckey because Georgia did not require vital records, death and birth records, until 1919. We will now use a “family group sheet” to record what we have learned about Mattie Lee Stuckey.
Our search for Mattie Stuckey began in the United States census records. Since we believe Mattie Stuckey was born in 1909, the 1910 census was an excellent place to start. United States censuses are taken every 10 years and sealed from public viewing for 72 years from the time of creation. Thus, the latest available census is 1940. You may find copies of census records available online at public libraries, on microfilm at libraries with genealogy departments, and online at the above link.
A computerized search of the 1910 Wilkinson County, Georgia census for Mattie Stuckey turned up the following entry:
Stuckey, Sherman, head of household, male, Black, age 45, married twice, currently married 10 years, born Georgia , parents born Georgia, farmer. Stuckey, Willie A. , wife, female, Black, married once, married 10 years, 6 children, 2 living, born Georgia, parents born Georgia, farm laborer. Stuckey, Robert C., son, male, Black, age2, single, born Georgia. Stuckey, Mattie L., daughter, female, Black, age 9/12 (9 months), born Georgia.1910 Census Wilkinson County, Mattie Stuckey.
Information we gathered about Mattie Lee Stuckey matches that of a 9 month old female found in a household headed by Sherman Stuckey. Given that the census was taken on April 27, 1910, this Mattie Lee Stuckey was probably born July 1909. She has an older sibling called Robert C. To further confirm her identity, we followed this family forward in time by taking a look at the 1920 census.
This time, we searched for Mattie Lee Stuckey in Wilkinson County using her father’s name, Sherman Stuckey. Alternatively, we could have used Mattie Stuckey. The search turned up a household headed by Sherman Stuckey, age 53 with the following members: Willie A, age 42; R.C., age 12; Mattie L, age 10; Odoe age 9; Pearl, age 5; Robbie, age 4 and Sherman, age 1.
Now, there was no doubt. We had found M. Walker’s grandmother. Fortunately, we had also discovered her parents, hence another generation.