We All Have Secrets

Genealogy is like a big puzzle. Each of us has a piece- or pieces if we’re lucky- that we can share with each other. It’s midnight. I really should be sleeping. Instead, I want to share some puzzle pieces with you before I call it a night.

Recently, Annie Blanchard contacted me via Ancestry to talk about our common connection. You may remember Annie. I linked up to her Digging Genealogy blog in this post about Samuel Williams. Samuel’s father is mine and Annie’s common ancestor. Annie had puzzle pieces I didn’t have. (THANK YOU, ANNIE!) Specifically, she had a letter written by John WILLIAMS’ third wife (her ancestor; his first wife was my ancestor). She posted this letter along with a transcription of it on her blog. I read through the letter. Thought on it for a couple of days. (It’s book fair time at school so finding time to even think about the letter long enough to process it is hard.) Then this evening I got back to the letter and re-read it. I always find something new when I take the time to read it again after letting it settle in for a bit. I began to be very interested in the various people she mentioned in her letter. Some of them were relatives and Annie had done a good job of keeping track of those people but my ever-curious mind wanted to know about the OTHER people. (Surely you remember that particular bent of mine from my notoriously long 2 part post on Nicholas REITER, right??)

In any case, here I am hours later to let you know what I found. I was plugging along looking up each name trying to match up Mr. FOSTER with the most likely FOSTER listed in the records (or Mrs. CROSBY, or “old man LINGO”, etc.). And then I got to the name of Fannie HERRINGTON. I plugged her name into the Ancestry search engine and got quite a shock. Fannie was widowed and her second husband was…SAMUEL WILLIAMS! I thought, “Surely NOT!” So I dug around a little more. It’s possible that this really is MY Samuel WILLIAMS, but I don’t know for sure.

Let’s Reason This Out

1. According to Annie’s information, Samuel was disowned by his father when he married my ancestor, Eliza Emeline BELL (also known as Emma or Emeline in some records) because John (Samuel’s father) didn’t like her.

2. Samuel and Eliza had a hard life together. If you recall, they averaged a loss of one significant person in their lives every 1 1/2 years. Some people even speculated that Samuel committed suicide as opposed to his death being an accident.

3. Timeline:

12 August 1903- Armazinda WILLIAMS, the woman who had raised Samuel since he was 8 years old, passed away.

1903-1904- Fannie HERRINGTON was a widow living near Samuel’s dad (John WILLIAMS) in
Upton Township, Texas County, Missouri. Samuel and Eliza WILLIAMS were a married couple living in
next-door Roubidoux Township, Texas County, Missouri.

Late-May/Early-June, 1904- Eliza became pregnant with hers and Samuel’s last child, Mart.

6 September 1904- Samuel’s dad, John, died.

2 October 1904- Samuel WILLIAMS and Fannie HERRINGTON get married.

February, 1905- Samuel and Eliza’s last child, Mart, was born.

1905- Family oral history states that sometime around the 1904-1905 timeframe, Samuel was hit and killed by a
train. You may also recall that I have not found one single source of information that backs up that
story. No juicy newspaper article, no obituary…I can’t even find his grave.

So conceivably, he could have impregnated Eliza, faked his own death, and then married Fannie HERRINGTON in October of 1904. Alternatively, maybe Samuel and Fannie somehow became romantically involved, Eliza found out so he and Eliza split up, and in order to satisfy Eliza’s religious family they made up the story that he was killed rather than face the social shame of a divorce or of everyone knowing their personal business.

As I said before- I’m not sure it’s the same Samuel WILLIAMS. There were other men with the same name in that general area at that time. (If you’ve tried finding someone with the last name Williams, Smith, or Jones you understand completely what my dilemma is here.)

I’d love for you to chime in with your thoughts on the matter. Was he really killed? Or did he fake it so he could finally satisfy his dad even though his dad had already died? Sometimes regret does funny things to our decision-making skills. I’ll definitely be trying to follow up on any leads. Hopefully Annie will have some ideas of her own when I tell her all about this tomorrow. Oh wait…it IS already tomorrow. Well- later today I’ll let her know and then I’ll pass any new information on to you. For now, it’s 1:15 a.m. and I’m tired. Now that I’ve got all this off my chest, I think I’ll go to bed.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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