David Walter Moore

David Walter Moore was born on 14 August 1914 in Washington County, Virginia. He married Dorothy Lynn Vencill, daughter of William A. Vencill and E. Gladys Fields, on 11 October 1944 in Washington County, Virginia. He died on 12 February 1968 in the Johnston Memorial Hospital, Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia.

On these facts, the records (marriage certificate, death certificate, Draft Record, grave marker) all agree. The records are also in agreement that his parents were Oliver Trigg Moore and Lillie Mae Harless, but were they?

The marriage record for Oliver and Lillie shows they were married on 20 July 1921 in Sullivan County, Tennessee, almost 7 years after the birth of David.

I have been unable to find a birth record for David and I have not found Lillie Mae Harless or David Walter Moore in the 1920 census.

On 5 June 1917, “Trig” Moore registered for the draft. He was a married man, listing a wife but no children as needing his support.

In 1920 Oliver Trigg Moore appears in the census with a wife named Hattie and no children. Oliver’s wife, Hattie M. Price, died on 22 January 1921 of pulmonary tuberculosis, leaving a daughter Juanita Moore, born 24 May 1920 in Benhams, Washington County, Virginia. Juanita was subsequently raised by her grandparents, John Campbell Price and Amanda Keith, taking the surname Price. These records seem to eliminate Oliver Trigg Moore from being the father of David Walter Moore.

Oliver Trigg Moore died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 26 January 1922, leaving a pregnant widow, Lillie Mae Harless. Their son Charles Trigg Moore was born on 9 May 1922.

Following Oliver’s death in 1922, Lillie Mae Harless married George Robert Swartz and had 2 more children, Genevieve Aileen Swartz born in 1927 and Virginia Estelle Swartz born in 1931.

David Walter Moore appears in the 1930 census as David Swartz, the son of George and Lillie Swartz. His younger brother Charles Trigg Moore is not listed in this household.

In the 1940 census, David Walter Moore and his brother Charles are listed as stepsons of George Swartz. 

Unexpected Find at Find-a-Grave

I made an interesting and unexpected find today. I was following some descendants of Abraham Harless and this particular branch, like so many other families, had moved from Missouri to California in the 1920’s. I was having fairly good luck in finding them on Find-a-Grave and in various census records, adding new generations and more details to the generations I had already found, when my computer program flashed a warning. “Possible matching people: 1”  Because this is a one name study, I have my preferences set so that this warning only comes up when both the first and last names are spelled identically AND the birth date is within 10 years. It still flashes up from time to time and it is about 50/50 on whether or not I am entering a duplicate person. Obviously I check all of the warnings, but this time I found something I really didn’t expect.

Laura Ethel Compton was the name that triggered the warning. According to Find-a-Grave she was the mother of Kenneth Odell Cook and Kenneth Odell Cook had married Lillian Elizabeth Harmon, the 4th great-granddaughter of Abraham Harless. So Laura was an in-law. Surely this was just a coincidence. When I looked at the other Laura Ethel Compton in my database I was even more puzzled.

The new Laura was married to Samuel Cook. The other Laura was married to Archie Marion Cook. This was a crazy coincidence. Two Laura Ethel Comptons and both were married to men named Cook? I had to make sure.

The original Laura descends from Henry Harless and was born in Oklahoma, but she died in California and is buried in Santa Maria Cemetery. The same cemetery as Kenneth Odell Cook’s wife’s grandfather.

The Find-a-Grave page for Kenneth Odell Cook didn’t link to his parents, but a quick search found her. And other Laura. This was no coincidence. Ethel Laura Compton, daughter of Charles Byrd Compton and Mary Etta Harless, married Samuel Paton Cook AND Archie Marion Cook. Find-a-Grave lists four children for her, and although Kenneth is not among them, the 1940 Census has both Kenneth, the four children named on Find-a-Grave and a few others.

I have more research to do of course, but at the moment it looks like Kenneth Odell Cook married his 6th cousins twice removed. I wonder if they knew.

How many clues have you overlooked?

I think we all know how important it is to take note of all the information on a document that concerns our ancestors, but who hasn’t quickly scribbled down the important parts and then forgotten to go back and do things properly? Today I finally got back to one and I’m kicking myself!

Here’s what I knew: Martha Harless was born in Tennessee some time in October 1860 to William Harless and Matilda Jackson. On 13 September 1877 she was married to R. F. Hailey in Falls County, Texas. In the 1880 census Martha is the head of a household in Falls County, Texas with her two eldest children, Olly, b. ca. 1878 and Carl, b. ca. 1879. In 1910 she is in the household of R. F. Hailey, her husband, in Robertson County, Texas with their children, Birde, b. ca. 1885 and Jessie, b. ca. 1891. This census reports that she was the mother to five children and all five were still living, but as yet I do not know the name of the fifth child. On 8 February 1926 Martha Hailey died in Cameron, Milam County, Texas. She was buried in Little River Cemetery. 

Today I took a closer look at her death certificate and took note that her father was listed as “J. Harless” and her mother as “Don,t know”. Also notable was the date of birth Oct 1860 with “DK” for the day and her age given as 65 years 4 months and “Dont Know” days. So who was the source of this information? Surely her husband (it said she was married, not widowed) or children would know her birthday, even if they didn’t know her mother’s name. The source was D. S. Shuffield of Maysfield, Texas, but who was that?

I quickly searched Family-Search for D. S. Shuffield with a Texas residence and immediately spotted an interesting result in Texas Deaths and Burials, 1903-1973: D. S. Shuffield father, spouse: Jesse Haily, child: Winford Shuffield. Winford Shuffield was born on 22 May 1914 in Milam County, Texas, and died on 13 October 1930 in Maysfield Precinct, Milam County, Texas. His parents were as given in the search result and the informant was Harmon Shuffield of Maysfield, Texas. His burial place was Little River cemetery.

It was starting to look as though Martha Harless’s daughter Jessie Hailey had married D. S. Shuffield, but I wanted to make sure this wasn’t just a coincidence so I searched Family-Search for “Jessie Shuffield” with a Texas residence. There were a few interesting results.

1. Jessie Shuffield, b. ca. 1891 was the head of a household in the 1940 census in Milam County, Texas, with children Willard, Dorothy, Adelle and Elmo.

2. Jessie Shuffield, b. ca. 1891 was the wife of Dorchie Shuffield in the 1920 census in Milam County, Texas, with children Winford and Harmond Shuffield.

#2 looked good – if this was the right Jessie it would give me the name Dorchie for D.S. and Harmond could be the Harmon Shuffield who gave the information for Winford Shuffield’s death certificate, but it was result #3 that really caught my eye.

3. Texas Deaths, 1890-1976: Jessie Pearl Shuffield birth: 8 February 1891, Texas. death: 16 March 1972, Calvert, Robertson, Texas. father: Robert Hailey. Robert? Was this R. S. Hailey? Once again the death certificate had an unknown person as the informant: Elmo Neal Sr. He apparently did not know the name of Jessie Pearl’s mother as that is listed as “Unable to Obtain” Jessie was buried in Little River Cemetery.

If Little River was a small cemetery I would be more convinced that Jessie Pearl Shuffield was the daughter of Martha Harless, so I checked the cemetery at Find-a-grave. Find-a-grave lists 1,281 interments, so it isn’t really a family cemetery.

I searched for the name Shuffield – 49, including a Dorchie S. Shuffield and a William Winford Shuffield, but no Jessie Pearl Shuffield.

I then searched the cemetery for the surname “Hailey” and the results showed Martha Harless Hailey and Jessie Pearl Hailey Neal.

Unfortunately there was no photograph of Martha’s grave and the entry leads me to believe it was from her death certificate rather than her tombstone.

There was a photograph of Jessie Pearl Hailey Neal’s grave marker, there is no indication on it that she was ever the wife of D. S. Shuffield, but the notes list her first husband as Dorchie Speed Shuffield and her second husband as Elmo Lon Neal.

Obviously I have lots more researching to do, but putting everything together it appears that Martha Harless married Robert F. Hailey and that their daughter Jessie Pearl Hailey married Dorchie Speed Shuffield.

All of these new clues came from the one overlooked name on a death certificate.  How many clues have you overlooked?

Heirs of Joel Tillman Harless, Madison Co., Alabama

On 8 September 1847, Joel Tillman Harless, along with his wife, Sarah, sold 80 acres of land in two parcels to Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline. Unfortunately for Benjamin, the deed was written incorrectly and he needed to have it corrected. I do not know when he first noticed the error, but by the time he got around to getting it put right, Joel T. Harless had died. Benjamin’s misfortune is our good fortune, because now he had to bring suit against the heirs of Joel T. Harless and his own children (as the error in the deed had made the property over to them).

On 6 November 1854, Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline A. E. Harris (nee Vann), brought a bill of complaint against: Thomas Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Tib Allison, and his wife, Matilda, formerly Matilda Harless, Thomas Harris, Martha S. Harris, Nancy Harris, and Rosaline Harris [the 4 children of Benjamin and Caroline], of the county of Madison, State of Alabama, Andrew J. Middleton and his wife Rebecca, formerly Rebecca Harless, of the county of Jackson in said state, Sarah S. Harless of the county of Marshall in said state, and David Harless of the county of Marengo in said state.

The complaint goes on to explain how the errors with the deed came about and why it has not been corrected:

“…since the making of the conveyance, the said Joel T. Harless has departed this life, intestate, leaving the following named persons, his heirs at law, viz: Thomas Harless, David Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Matilda Allison formerly Harless, Rebecca Middleton, formerly Harless. The said Matilda has intermarried with and is now the wife of one Tib Allison, and the said Rebecca has intermarried with and is now the wife of one Andrew J. Middleton. The said Joel T., also left surviving him, a widow, one Sarah T. Harless.”

heirs of Joel Tillman Harless

The heirs at law listed for Joel Tillman Harless are his siblings and, as mentioned, his widow. In my records, I have that Sarah gave birth to a posthumous daughter of Joel and remarried a year or so later. BUT a posthumous child would have been entitled, under common law and the laws of Alabama, to a share of the estate (if they lived) and would have would have disinherited the siblings of Joel Tillman Harless. Eldrid Harless is listed in the 1850 Census in the household of Sarah and her second husband, Willis Kirkland, showing that if he was the son of Joel he had indeed survived and would be the lawful heir. Unfortunately for us there is nothing in this chancery case to show whether or not Benjamin R. Harris was mistaken in his listing of heirs.

Joel Tillman Harless

Born: before 1818.
Died: before 14 August 1851.
Parents: John Harless and Catherine Moser.
Spouse: Sarah Skelton.
Known Children: Milly Ann Harless.
Relationship to Johan Philip Harless: great-grandson.

  1. Johan Philip Harless.
  2. Henry Harless.
  3. John Harless.
  4. Joel Tillman Harless.

Live By The Sword… or gun

The newspaper headline was tantalizing – “Twists of Fate. Man Slew Ex-husband First Wife; Slain Himself” and the article didn’t disappoint, but it left me confused.

Birmingham, Ala. Jan. 21. (UP) –

The first time Charlie C. Graham, 45, married a divorcee, he killed her former husband.

He went to prison on a life sentence, but was paroled and married another divorcee.

Friday night the second husband killed Graham.

Eleven years ago Graham walked up to the automobile in which Glenn Harless was seated and shot Harless after an argument.

Friday night Graham walked up to the automobile where J.B. Rylant, 45, was seated, got into an argument, and Rylant killed him. They had been friends since boyhood.

Coroner __ M. Evans reconstructed the shooting today, and ordered Rylant held under $2,500 bond in a murder charge.

I was unsure who had married whom and when. All I really knew was that Charlie seemed to argue a lot and he was killed in circumstances very similar to those in which he had killed Glenn Harless. This is what I found out.

The murdered Glenn Harless was, in fact, Glen George Harless, son of Benjamin Franklin Harless and Sarah Fannie Leonard. Glen was born in Calera, Shelby County, Alabama on 28 November 1890. On 13 June 1915, he married Cory May Smith, it would prove to be his undoing. The marriage lasted until at least 1920, but on 31 May 1928, Cora married Charles Crisp Graham in Blount County, Alabama. Her name is given in the record as “Miss” Cora May Harliss, but the newspaper article calls her a divorcee. I wonder if Charles was aware of this prior to the marriage, but he certainly knew it afterwards. Just five months after the marriage, Charles Crisp Graham shot and killed Glenn George Harless. Charles was sentenced to a life term and he can be found in the 1930 Census in Kilby Prison. I do not know when he was released.

In 1934 Cora and Charles were divorced and on 23 December 1938 Charles married Bessie L. Haley in Anniston, Calhoun County, Alabama. Bessie had been married twice previously. Her latest marriage, to J. B. Rylant had ended in divorce in 1938.

On 20 January 1939, Rylant killed Charles Crisp Graham in Birmingham, Alabama.

I do not know what happened to Cora or Bessie, or even Rylant, but Glen George Harless did not appear to have had any children with Cora.

Glen George Harless

Born: 28 November 1890.
Died: 24 October 1928.
Parents: Benjamin Franklin Harless and Sarah Fannie Leonard.
Spouse: Cora May Smith.
Known Children: none known.
Relationship to Johan Philip Harless: 3rd great-grandson.

  1. Johan Philip Harless.
  2. Henry Harless.
  3. Henry Harless, Jr.
  4. George Richard Crowson Harless.
  5. Benjamin Franklin Harless.
  6. Glen George Harless.