Who is Mary McGaha?

Last night I had a hunch.  I knew William Russell McGaha was married at least twice, and that his first wife was the mother of Matt’s great-grandmother, Dicie.  But from the information I had from the 1900 Census, I only knew William’s second wife.

Not being able to access the 1890 Census really hindered me here.  But I found a hint for a W. R. McGaha in the 1880 Census in Cocke County, Tennessee.  Only problem here is, the oldest child William had in the 1900 Census was born in 1881!  So I have a census from the right county with the right initials and last name, but a different wife, and no matching children.

All I knew about Dicie’s mother from the 1900 Census was that she was born in South Carolina.  In the 1880 Census I found, W. R.’s wife, Mary, was born in South Carolina.  So, I was onto something.

On the right hand side you can see Mary McGaha and her parents were born in South Carolina.

On the right hand side you can see Mary McGaha and her parents were born in South Carolina.

What I would have LOVED to do at this point, would have been to look at Dicie’s birth certificate and call it a day.  Except, I couldn’t do that, because Tennessee didn’t keep track of birth records until 1908. Perfect.

Instead, I discovered a thing called “Tennessee Delayed Birth Records.”  I had to hope one of Dicie’s full siblings would have one of these.

A search for Dicie and her full siblings in this archive turned up nothing, except one record for a James B. McGaha born on August 7, 1884.  I knew that Dicie had a brother known as Benjamin S. born in August 1884.  James was born in Cocke County to a William R. McGaha, so I hoped this was the Benjamin I knew of.

Tennessee Delayed Birth Records require supporting evidence in order to be issued.  One of James’ points of supporting evidence was the oath of an uncle, F.G. McGaha.  At this point, I checked the Delayed Birth Record of one of Dicie’s half-siblings, Milford Edgar.  He also had an uncle F.G. McGaha vouch for him.  At the time James’ certificate was issued in 1942, F.G. said he was 77.  When Milford’s was issued in 1949, F.G. said he was 82.  It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was close.  Then I compared the signatures on both documents.

F.G.'s signature on James's Birth Record

F.G.’s signature on James’s birth record

FG sig from milford DBR

F.G.’s signature on Milford’s birth record

I thought the signatures were pretty close.  So that allowed me to determine that James and Milford were, in fact, half brothers.  It let me add F.G. to my tree as a brother to William Russell, which will hopefully help me track down their parents.  It also meant that Benjamin S and James B were one and the same.

This all told me one more BIG thing: the name of James and Dicie’s mother!

Name of mother from James DBR

That’s a bingo!

Mary Nix!  Another name to add to the Ahnentafel Chart!  You don’t get to do that every day.


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