A Girl Named Thomas: Thomas Jefferson White (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

May 13, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

Having mined all the available data on my own ancestors for the time being (but I remain hopeful; new records are added every day), I have started on the ancestors of my sons’ wives. Saturday I started on my son Christopher’s wife. Her heritage is rich and interesting and full of wonderful surprises, like the girl named Thomas.

I was searching for the mother of my daughter-in-law’s maternal great-grandfather, who was Matthew William Pate. Matthew’s parents were Joshua (or Joshaway, or Josiah, I’ve found it spelled all three ways.) Pate and Irene Clark. The couple had three sons before Irene Clark Pate disappeared from census records and was replaced with Florence Underwood Smith Pate. Florence and Joshua had 4 children of their own; 3 daughters and a son who was born prematurely and died not long after birth, following Florence who died 2 days after his birth. Poor Joshua didn’t have much luck with wives.

Joshua’s first wife, Irene Clark, was born in August of 1882 in De Soto County, Mississippi to Thomas R Clark and Mary P Williams. I know Thomas is her father’s name as one of her sisters died in Texas and her death certificate is online. (As an aside, I LOVE researching in Texas almost as much as I love doing it here in Michigan. Texas is kind enough to put their death records online which has helped tremendously in my research on many members of both my own family and the allied families connected to mine. One day I’m going to post my all-time favorite and least favorite states to research online.) I found the marriage record for T R Clark and Mary P Williams online and followed the family as far as I could, but Thomas only showed up in the marriage and death record. Knowing when and where Thomas and Mary were married, I searched the census records for De Soto County, Mississippi for 1870 and found Thomas living with his mother and siblings. His mother was Susan Clark. So I started searching for her and for Thomas’ siblings and found that Susan Bynum had married Elijah Clark in Chatham, North Carolina in 1840 (Thomas was born in Mississippi around 1848.), and the family was found in, of all places, Tyler, Texas in 1860. All of the children fit, the dates and places of the children’s births fit, and Susan’s birthplace and date of birth are the same as the other census records I’ve found for her.

In 1860 the family is in Texas, then Susan is found in the 1870 census in Mississippi. Some public trees have Elijah dying in De Soto County in 1865, but I’ve found no record for that, and the 1870 census for Susan doesn’t say whether she’s married or not. Thomas Clark, Susan and Elijah’s son, married Mary P Williams in 1877 in De Soto County. I can’t find the couple in the 1880 census records with just a simple search, it’s going to mean searching those records page by page and I’m not feeling the need to do that yet. In 1900 Mary Williams Clark is living as a widow in De Soto County, Mississippi with 6 children; Irene and her 4 sisters and a brother, Elijah Clark, which is wonderful circumstantial evidence that Thomas Clark is indeed these children’s father, as his only son is named for Elijah Clark, Thomas’ father.

Meanwhile in 1880, Susan Bynum Clark and 3 of her children have moved back to Texas and are found in 1880 in Precinct 6, Lamar, Texas. One of her daughters, Julia Ann Clark, had married a man named White, been widowed, and had a child with her, Tommie Jeff White, who is listed as Susan’s grandson. He was born in 1876 in Texas, so I follow him and his mother Julia around and to see if I can find the name of Julia’s husband. If Tommie was born in Texas, he may have died in Texas and I’d probably be able to find his death certificate online. I did find it, but not in Texas, in Tennessee (Another wonderful state for death records online). And Tommie is Thomas Jefferson White Hudgens, a female. What?? Having her married name and the name of her husband, I searched around and found them in census records and her name is indeed Thomas Jefferson White Hudgens. She’s listed in census records with her husband, Albert Sidney Hudgens, and they were married in Texas in 1892.

Sidney and "Jeff" White wedding photo

Sidney and “Jeff” White wedding photo

I’ve found the couple in all the census records through 1940. They had 12 children, all named appropriately, including a son named Thomas Jefferson Hudgens. The only misstep I found was the spelling of a daughter, Francis. Frances is the female spelling of that name, Francis the male, but they can be forgiven that one small mistake, I think. Thomas herself is called “Jeff” by her family, from what I’ve seen.

Her death certificate is a bit confusing if you don’t know her story.Thomas Jefferson White Hudgens DR