As you will recall, one of my 2011 genealogy goals was to determine the parents and burial place of my maternal 2nd great grandfather James Thomas Hayes. To that end, I put together a research plan. Unfortunately, life, moving and finances got in the way of my research. Recently, things have calmed down a bit and I've been able to do more research and I have to say that things are looking promising.
As I mentioned in my research plan, I had located a possible family in the 1900 census. The fact that the location matched his birthplace in his WWI Draft Registration Card as well as the names of the siblings made me suspect this was the correct family. So I decided to start my search with them.
The family in the 1900 census was located in Cat Creek, Lowndes County, Georgia. This is close to Valdosta, which is where the WWI Draft Registration says he was born. The head of the household was Joseph Hays, 44, born June 1855 in Georgia and a widower. Other occupants were Jonnie Hays (son, 10, born March 1889 in Georgia), Salley A (daughter, 10, born unknown month 1890 in Georgia), Thomas Hays (son, 9, born January 1891 in Georgia), Isabelle Hays (daughter, 7, born September 1892 in Georgia), Joseph L Hays (son, 5, born March 1895 in Georgia) and Salley Hays (grandmother, unknown age and birthdate, born in Alabama).
In tracing the family, it appears that the father passed away before the 1910 census. In 1910, Jonnie appears as John Hays, a boarder in the household of Zeke Bennett, living in Cat Creek, Lowndes County, Georgia.
Thomas as appears as Tom Hays in the household of Lee R Bennett, living in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia. Lee Hays (which I suspect is Joseph L Hayes) also appears in the household. This is consistent with the fact that Thomas Hayes married in Berrien County in 1912 and 1918 residence in Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia when he registered for the WWI Draft. It also matches the information that a cousin gave me that he had a brother named Lee.
When you look at the WWI Draft Registration cards for Lee Hayes and John Hayes, they are both listed as born in Valdosta, Georgia. They are both living in Ray City, Georgia, as is Thomas. All three cards are close in number and signed on the same day. The physical descriptions are also a match. John Hayes is listed as employed by Tom Hayes, which connects him in another way to my Thomas Hayes
I'm still trying to trace where the girls ended up, but given their ages, I suspect they may have been married by 1910. In searching the Digital Library of Georgia, I found two references to Sallie Hayes of Hahira (Cat Creek) visiting the city of Valdosta. Both references were in early 1909 so if this is the right Sallie Hayes, this could narrow down my marriage search considerably.
Another thing I looked into was other Hayes families in the same area as my 2nd great grandfather.While not as common today, in the past families often stayed in the same area as other family members. So looking for people with the same surname nearby can offer clues as to family.
In 1920, the first census I'm positive is my Thomas Hayes is living in Massee, Cook County, GA. Another Hayes family is found in the same town-Curtis and Sousie Hayes. In other towns, but in the same county are more Hayes families-HH and Lenner Hayes, Elizabeth Hayes (living with daughter and son-in-law Mary and Honor Webb), IW and Lillian Hayes, Ed and Janie Hayes, WW and Ollie Hayes, and DN and Lizzie Hayes.
In 1930, the family of Thomas Hayes is living in Militia District 1487, Cook County, GA. Living in the same militia district are Edward and Floorvana Hayes. In the same county are Joe and Agnes Hayes, Irwin and Annie Hayes, Curtis and Serappie Hayes, JF and Mary Lee Hayes, Mallie and Pauling Hayes, Rudolph and Ella Hayes, John and Nancy Hayes, Dan and Lizzie Hayes, Winifred and Ollie Hayes, Willie and Edna Hayes.
I'm still trying to nail down everyone's relationship, but it appears that Irwin, Dan and HH (Henry) were all brothers, sons of Joseph Hayes and Rebecca Lassiter. John Hayes was a half-brother to these men, being born of Joseph's first marriage to Nancy Jernigan. Curtis, Winifred, Mallie and Rudolph were all sons of Irwin.
Given that most of the Hayes I had found were children or grandchildren of Joseph Hayes, I decided to take a closer look at him. I found that he had a son named Joseph whose age fits with the possible father Joseph Hayes from the 1900 census.
While more research is needed to definitely nail down Grandpa Hayes' family, I feel confident I'm on the right track with the family from the 1900 census. If my theory is correct, the other Hayes men in the same area would be his uncles and cousins.
As far as the burial place for Grandpa Hayes, my grandfather (grandson of Grandpa Hayes) told me that he was buried at Brushy Creek Cemetery with his wife and two of his children. I recently got confirmation from a cousin that she had been told the same by her aunt, a daughter of Grandpa Hayes.
With this confirmation, I feel comfortable saying that this is his burial place, although I will continue to try to reach someone at the church to see if we can nail down exactly which one of the two spots marked by pieces of concrete belongs to him and which one belongs to his wife, my 2nd great grandmother Minnie Rice Hayes. Once we have that determined, my plan is to go to other family members to see if they would be willing to donate towards a headstone.