Wednesday, January 3, 2007

My UFOs are hiding

My latest research project concerns the ancestry of Robert Leroy Thompson (born 12 Aug 1880 Huntland TN) and Lillian Daniel (born 14 Feb 1900 Coal Creek TN). I had little problem finding Lillian's Daniel and Slover lines online in the census and Rootsweb's WorldConnect database, aided by names and dates provided by my friend.

However, the hunt for Robert Leroy Thompson has turned into a frustrating chase of his Unidentified Family Origins (UFO). My friend's family papers say his parents were William A. Thompson and Frances Elizabeth Childress (or Lydia Frances Childress??), and that Frances' parents were Joseph Childress and Jane Johnson. I have asked for the source of these names and dates - whether Bible records, family papers handed down, someone's memory, etc.

The first frustration was trying to find Robert and Lillian (Daniel) Thompson's family. The family data says they were married 21 July 1917 but we don't know where - probably TN. Robert was in the Army and served overseas in WW I, and is buried in the National Cemetery in Salisbury NC. They had two daughters, Gwen in 1921 and Lois in 1926 (born in Kingsport TN) before the 1930 census. I tried using Gwen and Lois as given names, with no surname, and Rob* / Ler* / Lee* with Lil* as parents given names with no success. Lillian was not found in the census with the two daughters, but I only searched in TN. After many tries, I can confidently say that they are not in the 1920 or 1930 census in TN with Thompson or a similar surname.

There was one Robert L. Thompson of about the right age in eastern Tennessee in 1920 who ended up in Guilford County NC, with a wife Lila and daughter Hazel, in 1930 but I don't think that is him, unless he is a bigamist. His age and birth date don't match up with August 1880 from the family records.

My next tack was to try to find Robert Leroy Thompson as a younger man in the 1900 census (since the 1880 census was taken before his supposed August birthdate). More frustration - I can confidently say that he is not in the 1900 (or 1910 for that matter) census with the Thompson (or similar) surname. I tried variations on Thomp* / Thoms* / Toms* with given name Rob* / R / Ler* / Lee, etc to try to find him, searching in the entire USA.

Next I turned my attention to Robert Leroy's parents - if he was born in Huntland, Franklin County, TN in August of 1880, his parents probably are in that area when the 1880 census was taken. Since Franklin County is on the Georgia border, I decided to expand my search area to include at least TN, northern GA, western NC and western VA. For this search, I checked all Wm / Will* / W given names with Thomp* / Thoms* / Toms* surnames with a spouse given name Fran* / Fan* / Lyd* / Eliz* / Liz* looking for potential parents for Robert Leroy Thompson. There was one potential family of a William Thompson (age 25) with Frances Thompson (age 27) in Overton County TN. But Overton County TN is some distance from Franklin County TN, so I can't be sure that this is the correct couple.

From my search so far, I fear that these folks may have never been enumerated between 1900 and 1930. That seems far-fetched, so I'm starting to think of other possibilities:

1) Is the Thompson name correct? The daughter Lois is living and all the records say Thompson. I think it probably is correct.

2) Perhaps Robert Leroy went by another name before he had children - but his Army records say Leroy Thompson.

3) The odds are pretty small that he was enumerated with another surname in 1910, 1920 and 1930 - like maybe 1 in 1,000.

4) Is my search too limited? One family member thought that Robert L. Thompson was from Arkansas. Perhaps - I haven't looked there yet, but I think that's my next step.

If you have any good ideas, please pass them along. I've spent about 6 hours chasing these UFOs and I'm not ready to stop. But I am a tad frustrated!


Anonymous said...

Randy, I do understand your frustration. Try looking for the surname HITT and it is index as HILL. that took about 3 hours LOL. Have you tried looking for something similar to Thompson such as Thomason or Thomas? or Somason if the indexer was having a bad day. might the T have looked like an F? Fompson? Fhompson? Shompson or even Simpson. and I have found in one of the census the census taker was REALLY bad and just put initals for everyone, so you have no idea if R. Thompson is your guy or R. L. Thompson is yours without really checking birthdates and everyone else's intials. I don't know how big the county is that you need to search but you may need to do it by hand, you know page by page yourself...sometimes that is the only way to find who you are looking for. The magic of the index and the internet only go so far.

Hope I helped just a little, good luck!

Sharon said...

Here is another sighting of Leroy. Looks like his age is different from other records.

good luck!