Points to Ponder – A Story and a Question

Let’s begin in the middle with the marriage of Robert Bailey Lumpkin and Mariah Hicks, she being the widow of Thomas Owen.

I’d been working on Tinsleys lately and seeing how they bring in various surnames such as Austin, Erwin, Cowan, Hendree, Winston, and Owen. I re-read an old post from May where I had pointed out that Abel A Erwin (of the Tinsley connection), was living in 1850 with the family of Robert Owen and his son Thomas Owen.  This was the same Thomas Owen who would go on to marry Mariah Hicks, and in whose estate papers we see documentation of our ancestor Major Bailey.  (The surname was acquired per a later transaction between the estate of Thomas E Owen and Allen Bailey.)

By 1880 Mariah had remarried to Robert Bailey Lumpkin and we can see them in the 1880 Census for Chambers County, Alabama.

1880 Census Mariah Hicks

Above is image 18 of the set for this census.  Next,  I’ll show images 23 and 24 from a few pages later.  The images will be followed by a re-introduction of these folks by paraphrasing some old correspondence with cousin Reggie.  Our common ancestor with Reggie is Major Bailey Sr.  My son’s grandmother descends from Dan Bailey, son of Major. Reggie descends from Major Jr.  Major Jr had children by Bythaann (Reggie’s ancestor) and Judy.  The complicated family structure is being sorted out in some of our early correspondence.

1880 Census Major Bailey Sr and Jr

1880 Census Louiza Sherrill

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I’m trying to construct a scenario where these pieces fit. Please let me know your thoughts.

The 1870 census was the first post Civil War census. Perhaps it can be inferred that black folks were putting their families together the best they could after the turmoil that preceded 1865. Most likely the surnames seen will correlate with the family they were providing forced labor for prior to the Civil War.

The construct of the family as shown in the 1870 census (see below) might infer the family had been laboring for a Fedrick (perhaps Frederick) family prior to 1865, Penny at the head of the household perhaps can be inferred to be the mother of Louisa, and grandmother to the others shown in the household. But later records cause us to question this.

In later years, there is the citing of Hicks as the maiden name (on death records) for the woman who later became wife of Major Bailey Jr.  This perhaps was a mis-remembered reference to the Fedricks name used in 1870, or perhaps the Hicks surname was incorrectly taken down as Fedricks on the census. This may never be known at this late date, but there is another record to consider when puzzling through this.

Lem Hicks” in a 1930 death record was reported to have been born in 1847, and had a mother’s name recorded as “Lou Ida Sherrill”. It can be supposed that the children of Lem Hicks and Georgia Carslile were referencing a grandmother they knew as “Louisa aka Lou Ida” Sherrill, as she was recorded in 1880.

(Given the circumstances prior to 1865 where African American marriages were not always recognized, among the possibilities to consider are that the children of Louisa may not have all had the same father, and perhaps Tobitha and Judy were half siblings.)

Between 1870 and 1880 Louisa bore three more children. In the 1880 census she reported the surname of Sherrill, whether we will later find a marriage record, or if this was a common-law marriage circumstance is not known. It would appear the children born prior to 1880 were recorded as Sherrill in error, or perhaps this was recognition of an informal adoption by the father of the 3 youngest children, though he appears to no longer be in Louisa’s life at the time of the census, and her marital status is recorded as widow. Another alternate scenario is that Sherill was a maiden name that was returned to, but there are problems “making that fit” with the conception that Penny with the surname of Fedricks of the 1870 census was her mother.


Your tree for Louisa’s family:

Spouse and Children

No Spouse ? – ?

Lem Hicks abt 1847 – 17 May 1930

Tabitha “Bythaann” Sherrell May 1862 – 1916

Samuel Sherrell abt 1866 – ?

Duck Sherrell abt 1868 – ?

Wesley Sherrell abt 1869 – ?

Beatrice Lumpkin abt 1872 – 15 Sep 1922

William Sherrell abt 1876 – ?

1870 Census

Penny Fedrick 45

Louisa Fedrick 28

Sam Fedrick 12

Judy Fedrick 10

Tobitha Fedrick 8

Dock Fedrick 6

Duck Fedrick 4

West Fedrick 1

1880 Census

Louiza Sherrill 35

Bythaann Sherrill 17

Samuel Sherrill 14

Duck Sherrill 12

Wesley Sherrill 10

William Sherrill 4

Augusta Sherrill 3

Duzabee Sherrill 6m

Interesting record:

Lem Hicks

in the Alabama, Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974

Name:Lem Hicks

Birth Date:abt 1847

Death Date:17 May 1930

Death Place:Fairfax, Chambers, Alabama

Burial Date:19 May 1930

Burial Place:Hall Chapple

Death Age:83

Marital Status:Married


Father Name:Joe Hicks

Mother Name:Lou Ida Sherrill

Spouse Name:Georgia Carslile

FHL Film Number:1908478

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That’s a lot to absorb.  But at the time we were trying to think through scenarios that would explain the surname variations between Sherrill, Fredericks, Hicks etc.  Back then we hadn’t yet absorbed the record showing “possession” of our ancestor Major Bailey going from T.E. Owen to Allen L. Bailey.  Nor had we known that T. E. Owen was the son of Robert Owen, that Major would pass from the estate of Robert Owen to the Estate of Thomas E Owen and that the wife of Thomas, Mariah Hicks, would take “possession” of Major in the interim before “ownership” was passed on to Allen Bailey.  Nor did we know that Mariah would go on to marry Robert Bailey Lumpkin.  All those surnames take on new relevance when I now look at this person in my tree.

Mariah Louise Hicks

Was there more history here than first met our eyes?  And what of all this other history I’ve learned.  If the Bailey surname did not become associated with our family before the mid 1800’s would our DNA match be likey to be found among the Owens or the families associated with them?  Is there a clue in the records to be found long before the 1850 record that told us, “Abel A Erwin (of the Tinsley connection), was living in 1850 with the family of Robert Owen and his son Thomas Owen” ?


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