Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Finding Theodore Johnson, Part 2: Using Family to Connect Theodore to Steve

Note: See Part 1 here, or, even better, start with this Wedding Wednesday.

So, per the above linked posts, I’ve been sleuthing off and on for years to connect Theodore Johnson, my great-grandfather, with Steve Evans, my great-grandfather. Same person, different names at different points in his life. Seriously, read the posts linked above if you haven’t already.

Okay. Records created around Theodore Johnson’s death give Steve and Laura Ann Evans as his parents (making him originally a Jr.) and give Montgomery, Alabama as his birthplace.* The informant was his son, Theodric Johnson. So, let’s find Steve and Laura in the records!

Here is the front of a World War I Draft Registration Card dated 1918 for a Steven Evans, born in August of 1878. He’s living in the city of Montgomery, in Montgomery County, Alabama as a farm laborer, and his nearest relative is none other than a Laura A Evans, his wife. So far, so good.

Where else do Steve and Laura Ann Evans come up in the records?

In 1910, there are a Stephens (sic) and Laura A. Evans living in Dooley, Montgomery County, AL. He is 28, she is 25 and they are both listed as farm laborers. There are 5 children listed in the household; unfortunately Steve Jr. is not one of them, even though he should have been 5 or 6 years old at the time. And the Census Enumerator (the person who collected the info) marked that Laura was the mother of 5 children, all 5 of whom were living, which doesn’t seem to leave room for a child who is living elsewhere. Still, census takers often got things wrong, so we can’t just discard this household. In any case, the living children are daughters Jennie M. (9), Jennette (8) and Sarah (7), and sons Thomas? (10) and Jessie (2).

After 1910, I can’t find the two of them in a Census record together, but this isn’t the last place they show up as a pair. In 1933, they are listed as the parents of Thomas Evans in Ancestry.com’s Alabama Deaths and Burials Index, 1881-1974.

This index, through FamilySearch.org, was compiled by volunteers who pulled info from original Alabama records. (Note: I am unsure if this is the Thomas from the 1910 Census, as the age doesn’t match up, but you can also see that his age was edited on the original census record above. Age is often imprecise - if you do the math on Steve Sr.'s ages above, you'll see that it is off by 7-8 years between the two documents, but the other info makes me more confident that both documents are for the same man.)

We also find Steve and Laura Ann mentioned in four marriage records for their children:

  • Henry Evans to Annie Ruth Oliver in 1936
  • William Evans to Anna Belle Oliver in 1937 (mmhmm, two more brothers to two more sisters!)
  • Janie Mae Evans to Cleve Blackman in 1940
  • Janie Mae Dyle to James Smith in 1945

(Let’s note the different ways Laura Ann’s maiden name is spelled: Screws, Strug, and Scruggs. Let’s also note that, hey! we have a maiden name for her now!)

Are your eyes crossing yet? I hope not, because there’s more to add!

Remember the 1930 Census record that shows a Steve Evans, Jr. living not too far from Beatrice? Here it is again:

He’s in a household with a Janie M. Baker and her husband, James. He’s listed as James’ brother-in-law, meaning Janie M.’s brother. I’m almost certain he’s our Steve, because – you guessed it! - Janie M. Baker was originally Janie Mae Evans (or, as the 1910 Census above listed her, Jennie M. Evans). Note: I have official records for each of her marriages, but I'll share those another day to keep this post manageable.

I’m also pretty certain that’s our Steve because, as I’ve mentioned in the previous posts, there’s a Henry Evans in Janie Mae and James’ household (directly below Steve) who is also listed as James’ brother-in-law, meaning he is another of Janie’s brothers. This makes this the same Henry Evans as the one with Steve and Laura Ann as his parents on the marriage record above. And, as I told you, my Grandma told me that her dad Steve Evans/Theodore Johnson had a brother named Steve.

Okay, that’s A LOT for one post, so I’m going to let us both catch our breath. But essentially what I've tried to do here is identify Steve Sr. and Laura Ann Evans as a family unit and start to build a case for Steve/Theodore's relationship with them, mostly through their other children. I’ll pick this up next time by following our Steve/Theodore's dad forward through a few documents and discussing several of the "plot holes" I still have in my Steve Evans/Theodore Johnson timeline. 

*You might be asking yourself, "Why didn't she just apply for his birth certificate?" We did! And when I discuss my lingering questions in the next post, I'll include the results of this search and my thoughts.

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