For my pedigree analysis, I chose my maternal 2nd great grandmother Addie Mae (Deen) Sweat. One of my cousins on Facebook started a family group for us to share stories, pictures and research on the Sweat-Deen family. Addie has long been a mystery for those of us researching the family so we've been discussing her a lot lately and she's been on my mind. Specifically I'm looking for the name of her parents and her siblings.
What I know: Addie married James Walter Sweat 1 Nov 1896 in Pierce County, GA.
What this suggests: Addie may have had a connection to Pierce County.
What I know: Addie's death certificate says she was born 5 Oct 1873 in Blackshear, GA to parents Billy Deen and *** Jerdan.
What this suggests: Blackshear is in Pierce County. If the date of birth is accurate, I should be able to find Addie and her family in the 1880 census. The fact that her mother's maiden name is known, but not her given name says that the informant, Addie's son Clifford Eugene Sweat, probably never met his grandmother.
What I know: The SSDI gives Addie's birthdate as 5 Sept 1881.
What this suggests: Either the SSDI or Addie's death certificate has the wrong date of birth. If the 1881 date of birth is correct, it would explain my inability to find Addie in the 1880 census.
What I know: Census records give her age as 17 in 1900, 39 in 1920 and 51 in 1930. All list GA as birthplace of her and her parents. I haven't been able to locate the family in the 1910 census to compare.
What this suggests: Based on census records, Addie was born ca 1879-1882, meaning the 1881 birthdate is probably the right one.
What I know: Family members say that Addie had a sister named Annie.
What this suggests: I should look for census records for Annie Deen as a possible avenue to find Addie's parents.
What I know: Family members say that some of Addie's siblings married siblings of her husband James Walter Sweat. A search of marriage records finds that William Lawton Sweat married Zillo (Doley) Deen, Lonnie Sweat married Annie Deen and Hulda Sweat married John Wesley Deen.
What this suggests: Doley, Annie and John Wesley Deen were probably siblings of Addie. I need to try to locate them in census records prior to their marriages to see if their parents are listed. It might also be worthwhile to check their death certificates.
What I know: An older cousin remembers that a nephew of Addie's named Elbert Deen used to come stay with her family when she was young.
What this suggests: Looking into Elbert Deen may be an option for finding Addie's family. There was an Albert Deen, son of John Wesley Deen and Hulda Sweat Deen, who was born ca 1911 per census records. The cousin was born in 1930 so if this is the same person, he would have been an adult at the time. I asked her if he was older, but she hasn't got back to me yet.
What I know: According to another cousin, Doley Deen Sweat's death certificate lists her parents as Billy Dean and Unknown.
What this suggests: Doley may have been Addie's sister. The cousin is sending me a copy of the death certificate so I can examine it more closely for clues.
What I know: According to the same cousin, Annie Deen Sweat's death certificate lists her parents as Billy Dean and Mary Sweat.
What this suggests: Addie and Annie might have been sisters or half-sisters. It's possible that the mother's name was mixed up. The cousin is also sending me this death certificate as well.
What I know: There is a William Deen, widowed, living in the same area as Addie in the 1900 census. He is listed with children Zillo, Alfred, Lonnie, John, Annie, Maidie and Georgia.
What this suggests: This may be Addie's family. Judging by the ages of the children and William being listed as a widower in 1900, Addie's mother probably passed away between 1896 and 1900.
What I know: There is a William Deen, married to Mary 8 years, in the 1910 census. He is listed with children Alfred, Madie, Georgia, Eddie, Emmit, Minnie and Marie. There is also a grandson Talmage Deen.
What this suggests: This may be Addie's family. Her father may have remarried (marriage record for William Deen and Mary Ann Bolton 1 Mar 1902 in Pierce County was found) and had more children. Since Eddie's age predates the marriage, but he didn't appear with the family in the 1900 census, he was most likely a step-son of William Deen, meaning Mary Ann was probably married before.
What I know: William Deen was not found in the 1920 census.
What this suggests: He probably passed between 1910 and 1920.
What I know: The William Deen I've found in records was born ca 1844.
What this suggests: His age is right for service in the Civil War. I need to look at rosters and pension rolls.
What I know: The 1880 census has a William Deen married to a Mary, living in Pierce County with children Nancy, Jiny, Josephine and Malissa.
What this suggests: Addie's mother may have been named Mary and she may have more siblings. Judging by the age of the children, William and Mary probably married ca 1870 in Pierce or one of the surrounding counties.
Since Pierce County seems central to this family, I chose it as my place for locality analysis.
Pierce County was formed 15 Dec 1857 from portions of Appling and Ware Counties. It was named for the 14th US President Franklin Pierce. Blackshear is the county seat. According to Randy Major's US Historical County Boundary Maps, the area that Blackshear lies in was previously part of Ware County.
I located an 1881 railroad map, which shows that at the time of Addie's birth (if the 1881 date is correct), the surrounding counties were Appling, Ware, Charlton and Wayne. Modern day counties that surround Pierce are Appling (parent, formed 1818 from Creek Indian land), Ware (parent, formed 1820 from Appling), Bacon (formed 1914 from Appling, Pierce and Ware), Brantley (formed 1920 from Charlton, Pierce and Wayne) and Wayne (formed 1803 from Creek Indian land).
According to Ancestry's Red Book, Georgia tried to require registration of vital records at a county level starting in 1875, but it was repealed a year later. It was 1919 before statewide registration of vital records was required, although full compliance from all counties wasn't reached until 1928.
This means I'm not likely to find a birth certificate for Addie or any of her siblings. The one exception might be possible siblings Jiny Deen who census records indicate was born ca 1875. Surviving records are available at the Georgia Archives. I looked at the Archives website to see what counties were available, but neither Pierce, nor its parent counties are listed.
Marriage records for Pierce County are only available from 1875 so finding a marriage record for William and Mary Deen is unlikely. Marriage records for Pierce's parent county Appling are available from 1869 so that might be an option. I have searched them with no success.
Pierce County had a courthouse fire in 1875. Since this pre-dates Addie's birth (provided she was born in 1881), this shouldn't be an issue in tracing her. However, this could make it difficult to trace her parents. If they were married in Pierce County prior to the courthouse fire and records were kept at the time of their marriage, the marriage record may have literally went up in smoke.
The Blackshear Times has been in business since at least 1889 so it might have birth announcements for some of Addie's possible siblings, and maybe death notices for her parents. It is my understanding that these newspapers are available at the UGA Library and not through inter-library loan. I need to contact them to be sure they have the newspapers for the times in question since their site states that not all of the newspapers from a specific time period may be available.
Since the Blackshear Times is still in business, they may have copies in their morgue file. It's worth a call to find out. Another option may be the Blackshear Library. I have added it a call to it to my to-do list as well.