Saturday, November 14, 2009

Puzzler: Who was Martha/Mary Cook Reed?

Introducing Puzzlers

We all have different resources. My public library has info yours might not have.  Some of us have built significant personal libraries.  I use and in addition to Ancestry; maybe you don't. Just this week I found an item in Google Books that made an excellent researcher/cousin say she really needed to start using that resource. 

And we all have our brick walls – those puzzles that continue to baffle us no matter how hard we look. 

I’ve been thinking that maybe the more people who know about our puzzles, the sooner we may be able to solve them.

Would you like to put your puzzler out there for fellow researchers to take a stab at?  Send me a description of your brick wall along with where you've looked to try to knock it down. (samuelreedfamilyATgmailDOTcom)

I'll start with a big one of mine.

WARNING:  TANGENT TRAP!  I began writing this post about 6AM.  The tangents I’ve been on since then have amazed even me!  Oh, I found some great stuff, but it has certainly slowed down the writing.  Just thought I’d warn you. Try to focus and be succinct. 

Who was Martha/Mary Cook Reed?

She was my great-great-grandmother, the wife of James Henry Reed and mother of John William Cook Reed.  I have not been able to learn when or where she died or where she is buried.  I’m not positive about when she was born, and I have no clue as to her parents. 

Click image to enlarge.

The portrait identified in my Granddaddy Reed's handwriting says Martha. But was her name really Martha, or was it Mary?

The 1860 census has Mary A. Read born abt 1840 (newly married per 1900 census). 

In 1870 we see Margaret Read born abt 1845 (with 4 children).

By 1880, it was Mary Reed born abt 1840 (with 5 children).

In 1900, we are told her name was Mary Reed, she was born February, 1844, had been married for 40 years, and had five children who were still living.  (Of course, it has James as being born in March 1835, and we know that’s incorrect, depending on which source is used.  His tombstone has February 18, 1825 while the family bible of his uncle Benjamin Odom Jr. has February 17, 1826.  No March, and no 1835.)  

In 1900, James and “Mary” and their daughter Bessie were living with their daughter Eula and her husband Levi S. Tyler, Jr. in Bamberg.  James Henry died November 14, 1901.  What became of Mary then?  By 1910, Bessie had married (in 1901, two months before her father’s death), and Eula and her family were living in Statesboro, GA.   Mary does not show up on the 1910 census with either of them. 

On the SC death certificate of her son John William Cook Reed (my great-grandfather), her son Harold W. Reed says her name was Mary Cook and that she was born in Aiken County, SC. 

On the SC death certificate of her daughter Bessie Reed Hudson, Bessie’s husband George listed Mary Cook born in Aiken. 

I’m thinking it’s time to go with “Mary” instead of “Martha.”  Sorry, Granddaddy. 

Her husband, James Henry Reed, is buried in the Gardenia Rd. Reed Cemetery along with his mother, a brother, two sisters, two nephews, and a brother-in-law.  One of the sisters is believed to be Martha Reed born May 10, 1844 and died in 1923.  (I remain forever grateful to cousin Sharon Crowley for braving the briars and bushes to find this out and posting them on FindAGrave.)  The 1900 census has my 2gGM born Feb. 1844 and James’s sister Martha born May 1844.  Even though the stone says simply “Martha Reed,” she is buried beside her husband Henry Kemp.  So I don’t believe this is my 2gGM.

If you go looking in Aiken County pre-1860, know that we’ve already discounted Frederick Cook as her father.  He had a daughter Martha about the same age, but she still shows up on his 1870 census. 

What resources or information might you have to help solve this puzzler?

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