On December 15 of last year I wrote a post about Minerva Warden, Treasure Chest Thursday: Photo of Minerva Warden. An excerpt from that post: Minerva Warden married Thomas Riley Woodard. The family resided in Lumberton located in Marion County (now Lamar), Mississippi in the late 1890's through the early 1900's. The Warden and Woodard families are bricks in "My Brick Wall"- I have accomplished very little in my research on them. I have no knowledge of Minerva's parents or siblings at present. From my own estimates, Minerva was born probably between 1850 and 1860. She lived to be an elderly woman, as evidenced by her photo. She was likely in her 80's or even her 90's when this photo was taken. Her husband, Thomas Riley Woodard, had died in his late 30's leaving her a widow with 7 children that I have knowledge of.
While having coffee early yesterday morning, I was thinking about Minerva and her husband Thomas Riley Woodard. I had no information at all on Minerva's family and very little on the Woodard family. They all resided in southern Mississippi yet they have remained so mysterious. Efforts on finding the families by surname search on Ancestry and Genealogy.com had been fruitless. I made up my mind to manually sort through the census records of Hancock and Marion Counties in Mississippi to find some sort of connection to them. I had gone through all of the 1870 Federal Census records of Marion County with nothing notable.
I called my cousin, Sylvia Elaine (Herrin) Knight and we discussed the Woodard/Warden families. Elaine informed me that she had been working on a line of Lee's for a friend of hers, and she found some possible clues for Minerva Warden. Of course, that immediately grabbed my attention. Elaine stated that on the 1930 census in Lamar County, a Minerva Woodard, age 86, was listed as an aunt and resided in the household with a W. John Lee, age 70. The household also listed Susan Sumrall, age 40 and Arabella Cagle, age 40. Elaine also explained that the W. John Lee on the census was a son to Nancy Warden Lee, born 1841, who had married Zinnamon Frank Lee, Sr. She said another name that rang a bell was Arsineth Seale, who had married John Riley Lee, and this Lee family was connected too. As she spoke, I jotted down these tidbits of information.
After the phone conversation, I decided to search through the 1880 Federal Census of Marion County, page by page, surname by surname, hoping for clues while keeping in mind the information I had just learned from Elaine. I had gone through several census images when finally, on page 7 of ED 133 in Beat 5, I noted a E. Lee, age 33, head with his wife, Minerva Lee, age 24.
A few pages later, I took note of the Wordin families listed, and the Lee family residing between them. On page 10, ED 133, Beat 5 in Marion County, in House #4, William Wordin and his wife Martha resided. Of particular interest was the name of Harriet Wordin in their household. House #5 listed the Hansford Lee family. In Houses #6 and #7, more Wordin families. Farther down the page, in House #10, the family of John Lee resided.
I immediately felt a sense of connection here. I just knew there was a link between these Wordin and Lee families, and I felt this was the John Lee that Elaine had mentioned. Call it strange, but I had a "familial feeling" about Harriet Wordin in the above census record. Could my great-grandmother, Harriet Woodard, have been named after this Harriet Wordin (Warden)? Harriet Woodard was the daughter of Minerva Warden and Thomas Riley Woodard. The tradition of our ancestors naming their offspring after loved ones came to mind and I had a gut feeling about this one. I hurriedly called Elaine to report my findings and emailed a copy of the census images to her. She agreed- there was a connection here.
During a search on Ancestry for William Warden, I discovered a list of his family members posted by another member. They were: William M. Warden (head), his wife Martha Patsy Spikes, and children- Nancy, James, Martha, John Wesley, William Harrison, Mary, Harriet, Daniel and Jefferson David. Could this Nancy Warden be the one Elaine talked of, the one who married Zinnamon Frank Lee? I also remembered that Jefferson David Warden was already connected to our family through the Herrins. I was so excited about this information I could hardly contain myself! I called Elaine again, reporting this information to her. We were getting soooo close to Minerva's family! Though Minerva wasn't listed as one of the children of William and Martha Warden, I suspected she was connected to them.
I then browsed the 1850 Federal Census of Marion County, Mississippi, seeking the William Warden family. I found not only the Warden family I sought, but the family of Martha Patsy Spikes, living next door!
|1850 Federal Census, Marion County, MS|
The William Warden family is enumerated in House #45 on the above census. It is my belief that M. Warden, age 4, is our Minerva Warden because the age stated would be about right, placing her year of birth about 1846. I don't understand why she wasn't listed with the William Warden family on Ancestry, but she could have been mistaken for one of their other daughters, Martha or Mary. I then looked back at the 1910 census record that I had saved for Minerva (Mrs. Menervia Woodard), then listed in Beat 4 of Lamar County (county lines had changed by then)- she was listed as age 64 (supporting an 1846 birth year).
This page of the 1850 census is significant in connecting the Warden-Spikes-Lee families. I took note that in House #48, the family of John Lee (John Riley Lee) and his wife, Arsineth Seale, resided. This is the same family Elaine had spoke of in our phone conversation.
I tried to call Elaine back a couple of times to report the information on the 1850 census, but no answer. I could hardly wait to tell her! When I finally reached her on her cell phone, she had been researching the William Warden family online, and had already made the connection. She informed me of the name of William Warden's father, James Theodore Warden, Sr. We celebrated in conversation because the mystery had finally been unfolded. The brick wall was breaking down, after all these years of trying to find Minerva's family. I am so grateful for the power of online research when searching census records and family connections. It also helps tremendously when others are assisting in the research. Elaine and I put our clues together and came up with the answers... Bravo!!!!
I will post an update listing all of Minerva's family when I sort through all the information that I now have. Next in line- the Woodard family, wish me luck!