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AfriGeneas Brick Wall Forum


Wishing you much success in your searching.

Will post to mailing list and look for 'what is next results'

About 10 years ago I had the privilege to speak with a distant elderly cousin Earnestine Rivers McCarthy. Her mom’s name was Celine Mack Rivers and her grandparents were Lewis and Celine Mack which will be important to the detective story later. Earnestine was amazing and had significant recall of my ggggrandmother. She was just a child when my ggggrandmother Mary Howard lived in East Providence, RI in the early 1900s. She recalled that the Rivers, Macks and Howards were connected for a long time in Charleston, SC before moving to East Providence. She recalled that they loved the water and always had an infinity for it. The family narrative is that Mary Mack also called Mamie Jefferson got angry at her husband and moved from Charleston to the North East. 'It must have been something', she said because all three girls moved with her instead of staying behind.

We have documented support for two of Mary’s Daughter’s, Emily Howard (dob 1874) and Martha Alberta (dob 1868) nee Howard m1. Fowlkes, m2. Thornton m3. Blakeley. On each of her marriage records and in her death records Martha and other family members list her parents as Thomas Howard and Mary Mack.

Earnestine indicated that she remembered Mary’s husband’s name being thrown around and it was Thomas Jefferson (not 'the TJ' no connection to VA or his travels through the deep south). Low and behold this also popped up on Emily Howard’s death certificate as well. When you do a close inspection of the black families in Charleston (both city and county) in 1880 there is no listing for a Mary/Thomas Howard combination with daughters named Emily, J., EJ or Martha or Alberta. I know that they were in the County at that time because Emily and Martha list their place of birth as Charleston on several documents. There are five Thomas Jefferson families in 1880 Charleston (at least listed in the census). We can almost certainly rule out three of the five. Two seem like likely candidates Thomas and Martha Jefferson with children Sarah, Saul, Peter and Job. And family #2 Thos Jeferson with wife L. and children Flora, Alfred, Louisa, and Maggie. In the 1900 New York Kings County Brooklyn Census ed 390 sht 16A we find Mary listed with Emily saying she had five children and three are currently living. So theoretically both families could still be in contention.

The next clue is that Mary’s family grew up in Summerville, SC right outside of Charleston. With a lot of methodical process of elimination, I found two Freedman Bank Records that list the following combination of people:
Edward, Richard, Peter, Joe, Lewis Mack with sisters Rosa Glover, Emily Gibbs and Mary Howard having grown up in Summerville, SC. Their parents are listed as Ned and Libby/Sibby Mack. I feel pretty confident that these are Mary’s parents and siblings. And in fact the connection that cousin Earnestine described adds credibility to the claim. But still no documented connection to her husband and the missing girls.

From the bank records:
Lewis wife Cilla (hooray for cousin Earnestine), Peter’s wife Chloe and children Richard and Dorcas Ann through research Emily’s husband Julius Gibbs together they had 12 children 5 of whom survived, the rest of the children’s spouses are unknown to me at this time.
In 1880 there is one family in Charleston County Francis Howard, Mary Howard, Josephine and Hariet E Howard. Hariet’s age fits for Emily but Josephine does not match with Martha Alberta’s. And this Mary Howard would be too young to have a child born in 1868. If her age was inversed however she would be old enough to have a daughter Martha’s age. If this is the correct family I can trace Francis back to his parents in 1870 as SD Howard and Patsy Howard with some of his siblings. In a later death record for Patsy you find out her maiden name was Gaillard.

What should my next move be - serious brick wall?

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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