Sunday, December 11, 2011

Which Jane Thacker are you?

I'm still pushing my through the documents I have on my wife's family, about two months after I started on them. I know I said this last time, but I still can't believe how long this is taking - I didn't think I really ever sat down and did a ton of research on them, just grabbed a few records here and there, based on the info I got from my mother-in-law. I'd made it almost all the way through all of the census records for both my father-in-law's and mother-in-law's families, when a branch of my FIL's side stopped me cold yesterday.

The Thacker line in my wife's ancestry has always puzzled me. I don't know what it is, but every time I try to sort things out, I come out feeling more confused than when I started. But, now that I'm trying to be more serious about doing really good, sound genealogy, I figured I'd do what I've heard the pros say over and over - start with the most recent generation and work back from there. That meant starting with Jane Thacker.

From what my MIL gave me, Jane was born 15 June 1891 in Roane County, Tennessee, to Samuel Thacker and Margaret Vann, and lived her whole life in Tennessee. She married Allen J. McFarland in 1908 and had four boys with him - Walter, James, Edward, and Charles. Allen died in 1919, leaving her a widow to raise the boys alone. She died 11 Aug 1946 in Roane County, Tennessee.

To back this up, I had previously found the marriage bond for Jane Thacker and Allen J. McFarland, showing their marriage took place on 9 May 1908 in 1910 and 1920 censuses, with Jane and Allen living with their oldest son Walter in 1910 (along with Allen's two daughters from his first marriage), and Jane living as a widow with sons Walter, James and Edward in 1920. That agreed with the 1919 death date my MIL had given for him, and decided to keep looking. With a little digging, I found the 1930 census, and Jane was again listed as a widow, still living with her son, Walter. So far, so good, but I wanted more info on Jane. I figured FamilySearch would be a good place to look, so I started browsing their Tennessee collections on birth, marriage, and death records for Jane Thacker or Jane McFarland.

I didn't find anything at first for either name, so I started searching for a Jane that died in Tennessee in 1946. That returned way too many results, so I filtered them down by adding variations on her father and mother's names, Samuel Thacker and Margaret Vann. That did the trick - I found a death record for a Jannie, daughter of Samuel Thacker and Maggie Vann that matched the death date exactly, the birth date was just a couple days off, and the county and state matched, though not the city. There was a problem, though - it was for a Jannie Patterson, not McFarland. It even listed that she was a widow of Prior Patterson. Could this be the same Jane Thacker?
Photo courtesy of
I went back to the 1900 census I had found earlier on Jane Thacker's family. It listed Samuel and Margaret Thacker, with children Jane, Emma, and Elijah, and stepchildren Nancy and Mary Turpin (from Margaret's previous marriage). Jane's birthdate is given as June 1891, the same as the Jannie Patterson death certificate. The link between the two seemed obvious, too much information matched. So if Jane Thacker, daughter of Samuel and Margaret, was married to Prior Patterson, was she the same Jane Thacker that married and had children with Allen McFarland?

I thought researching Prior Patterson a bit might help answer the question, so I started looking for info on him. I was able to find a bit - he appears in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses, and his death certificate was in the same database Jannie Patterson's was in. From these records I learned he was married twice before Jannie, and both of those wives died, as he was listed as a widower with two children, Melvin (8) and Addie (4) in 1910; married (but no spouse listed) with four children, Melvin (18), Adda (13), Clifton (5), and Maggie (3) in 1920; and widower again in 1930 with his two youngest children, Jennie (13) and Clifton (17). I couldn't find the mother of Melvin and Addie, but I did discover who the mother of Clifton and Maggie/Jennie was - Emma Thacker, sister of Jane Thacker!

Photo courtesy of
Prior and Emma had married on 19 Feb 1911 in Anderson County, Tennessee (according to FamilySearch's Tennessee marriage database). Thus he was still single in 1910. However, I soon found Emma's death certificate, and saw that she died 23 April 1919, a full year before the 1920 census. Perhaps the census taker misunderstood Prior's marital status, or Prior may have still been grieving the loss of his wife, especially given her cause of death - child birth. Of all the ways to lose a wife, that would have to be one of the worst. Not only that, the couple had already suffered the loss of another child back in 1915, when a baby boy was stillborn. So Prior had a pretty rough life - between 1906 and 1919, he lost two children and two wives. Still, he was willing to get married again, and sometime between 1930 and 1940 he married Jane Thacker, sister of his second wife Emma, and stayed married until his death in 1940.

So back to Jane Thacker. Now that I knew all this info about Prior Patterson, it seemed clear that the Jane Thacker my MIL had attached to Allen McFarland was the same as Jannie Patterson, widow of Prior Patterson. The major question in my mind at this point was - were there two Jane Thackers? Stay tuned to see what I found!

1 comment:

Gibson Family said...

Not fair! What did you find out?!?!?!