30 December 2013

Case Study #1: Hammack & Mott

I've been wanting write a post about the research process for a while now. Even if you aren't a Hammack or a Mott I hope you'll find some helpful hints here. I'm actually not a Mott either but we'll get to that later. Here are the main characters in this story:
Sophia Ann "Annie" Hammack, my father's maternal grandmother
John Franklin Hammack and Martha Cornelia Mott, Annie's parents
Martha Cornelia Mott's name will change a couple of times during the course of this post.

Talking to Dad

The names of my father's maternal aunts and uncles were known to me, I had met them all. For anything beyond that I had to ask Dad what he remembered. His maternal grandmother's name was Annie Hammack and this case study is about her line. According to Dad the names of Annie's parents, his great-grandparents, were John Franklin Hammack & Martha Cornelia Mott. He never met them but he did have a memory of meeting one of Annie's sisters and thought her name might be Carrie. So with that I was off to try and find out something about his maternal grandmother's family.

Annie Hammack Loftice with my baby brother and me.

I had no problem finding Annie with her husband and children in U.S. censuses but finding anything prior to her marriage was my first road block. Annie was born in Missouri so there wasn't an immigration issue.

By Any Other Name

Most of my great-grandparents applied for Social Security. I had a list of applications to order. Ordering all of them was out of the question financially so I prioritized the list. Annie was not at the top. I had names for her parents and that would be the primary reason for ordering the application. As I was running out of alternate spellings and different searches to try I started moving her up the list.
Dad seemed sure of the names but I was stuck so I crossed my fingers and ordered her SS-5. A few weeks later I found out that Dad was right with one small, but very important, omission.

After the jump: The answer, more questions and contact from distant family.

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SS-5 for Annie Hammack Loftice ordered through the Freedom of Information Act.

Martha had two middle names, Martha Cornelia Alice Mott. I'm sure you can guess which name she went by. From here on I'll use her preferred name, Alice.
A light shone from the heavens, angels sang and in a short amount of time I had my first census record for the family.

Losing Her Census

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census was the first one found. John's mother-in-law is living with them and she has the Mott surname. That leads me to believe I have the right family despite Annie being listed as "Nannie." There's even a sister named Carrie just like my dad remembered. Now I have a first name for Alice's mother, Susan. Note that this is the second marriage for both John and Alice. Unfortunately I haven't found any records regarding a previous marriage for either of them. I do know that Alice was married to a Jones. Her oldest son was Norman Leon Jones and when she married John their marriage record shows her as Alice M. Jones.

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Fern, Caddo, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1245; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0060; FHL microfilm: 1375258. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.

This is Annie's earliest possible census. By 1930 she's married so the only missing piece of the census puzzle for Annie is 1920.
Part of the household was easy to find. The family starts at the bottom of sheet #4B with John, Alice and the twins.

Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Anna, Collin, Texas; Roll: T625_1789; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 16; Image: 13.  
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

But at the top of the next page, sheet #5A, is the Shaw family. So where did the three girls go? After searching each girl's name individually I looked through the other pages around sheet #4B. The girls were at the top of sheet #6A, three pages away.

Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Anna, Collin, Texas; Roll: T625_1789; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 16; Image: 16.  
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Carrie, Annie and Gertrude were indexed with the family name Rattan from the bottom of page #5B. It also looks like the relationships were erased. It is highly unlikely the teenaged Carrie and Annie are sisters to the head of the Rattan family since he is 62 years old!

Tip: Take a look around.

An Adoption Story

In 1900 Alice's mother isn't living with the Hammacks yet but I didn't have to go far to find her. Her name is given as Susan M. Mott, that initial will be important later, and it looks like Alice has a brother!

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Galena, Jasper, Missouri; Roll: 865; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 1240865. 
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

Not long after I added Susan and Adalbert [sic] Mott to my tree I received a message from an Ancestry.com member, Dana, saying she had a photo of Alice. Dana is a descendant of Adelbert [rather than Adalbert] Mott. She had promised the owner of some family photos that, if given the photos to scan, she would not post them publicly. She offered to invite me to her private tree and allowed me to copy the photos as long as I made the same promise. Let's see, promise or pass up the chance to see my great-great-grandmother for the first time, hmmm...yeah, that's not a tough decision.

Side note: Every time I see an online comment complaining that private tree owners are stingy, or some other derogatory adjective, I just laugh. In case you're curious, I downloaded her photos and they are in a folder on my computer titled "Mott: Do Not Post."

She also let me know that Alice and Adelbert were adopted. If Dana hadn't contacted me I would have researched the wrong family.
The record below looks like an ink bottle spilled on the right side of the page and there are no given names, only initials. That doesn't mean it isn't helpful. Dana sent me a link to it to see if I thought it could be Adelbert, whose middle name is James, and Alice with their adoptive parents.

Source Citation: Year: 1875; Census Place: Lola, Cherokee, Kansas; Roll: ks1875_3a; Page: 1.  
Source Information: Ancestry.com.. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009. 1875 Kansas State Census. Microfilm reels K-1 – K-20. Kansas State Historical Society.

Tip: Use children's birth dates/places as well as records to narrow down timeline events.

According to the records on Dana's tree, Adelbert was born in Cherokee County, Kansas, in January 1874. If the census record, also from Cherokee County, was the right family then the adoption must have happened between January 1874 and March of 1875 in, most likely, Cherokee County. That was if there was an official, court documented adoption and if the record still existed. A lot of ifs but I had been lucky so far. I searched the catalog at FamilySearch and found the microfilm I needed to order. The film didn't have a digitized index but thankfully there was an index at the beginning of the roll. That saved me a lot of time.

Have you ever scrolled through 800 pages on microfilm only to find an index starting on page 801? Here's hoping you never do.
Tip: Always check the beginning and the end of the microfilm for an index.

Source Information: Probate Court proceedings; Vol. A, 1872-1879 -- Vol. B, 1868-1872 -- Vol. C 1875-1877; Kansas State Probate Court, Cherokee County; Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1984; Microfilm; Catalog #1404787; Original records: Cherokee County Courthouse, Columbus, Kansas

The children's full names are provided later in the document and their birth dates repeated but this is key information from the last four lines of this image:
"...as their own, to be and become the children and heirs of them the said Francis J. Mott and Minerva Mott, his wife, and Mary Snider the mother and only living parent of the said children..."
It goes on to say that Mary consents to the adoption.
You might have noticed that the name Susan doesn't appear anywhere in the adoption papers. Yet that's the name of Alice and Adelbert's mother in the censuses. Keep in mind that in the 1900 census her name was given as Susan M. Mott.

Mother of His Children

There is a marriage record from 1879 for Francis J. Mott, Alice's adopted father. I haven't found a record for the death of his first wife Minerva or for a divorce but either way she's no longer in the picture. The marriage record for Francis shows that he married...wait for it...Susan M. Snider! Alice's birth mother, according to the adoption papers, was Mary Snider. If Susan M. Snider isn't Susan Mary Snider it's one heck of a coincidence.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

An 1870 marriage record from Fannin, Texas could be Susan's first marriage. In the 1870 census the Woody family is living in Fannin, Texas. The groom's name is David H. Snider. On the index the bride's name is transcribed as Susan M. Moore but the original looks like Woody to me rather than Moore. You can judge for yourself. David's last name was transcribed as Sinder rather than Snider.

Source Information: "Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," FamilySearch (index: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FX35-JYG : accessed 07 Jun 2014), David H. Sinder and Susan M. Moore, 18 Oct 1870; citing , Fannin, Texas, , reference 2:1DSHMZN; FHL microfilm 1293828.

Gut instinct tells me that it's the correct record but my gut can't tell me how old he was or who his parents were. There are no Sniders, Snyders, Schneiders, OR Sinders on the 1870 census in Fannin County. None. My next step is to search Fannin County page by page to see if there's a mangled transcription somewhere.

Road Trip

I was making quite a bit of progress on this line when something hit me. I had been working on my great-great-grandmother but I had never seen photos of my grandmother before she married my grandfather. I have lots of photos, and scans of photos, of my grandfather as a child but none of my grandmother. I had just gotten a new car so a road trip was in order. One of my dad's first cousins, Connie, was closest to their grandmother. Connie still lives in the same general area where her mother grew up. If anyone had family memorabilia it would be her and I hadn't seen her in couple of decades.
When I called to see about visiting I explained that I had been working on our family tree and asked if she had photos or anything else I might find interesting. "I have a couple of boxes Mom got from Mimi [Annie] but I never went through them after Mom died. I'll pull them out and we can go through them together."

Annie and one of her daughters in-law

I stayed with Connie for a couple of days. While she was at work I started sorting through the boxes and also made a trip to the local cemetery. When she came home from work she told me family stories while we continued sorting. Silly me, I didn't think of throwing my scanner in the car when I left Chicago but thankfully I've gotten pretty good at taking photos of photos. Connie was able to make photocopies of some of the documents at work. Those boxes were a treasure trove!

As Good As Gold

If Dana hadn't told me about the adoption I probably would've glossed over the scratched out surname of Annie's mother on her (delayed) birth certificate.

Family copy of a delayed birth certificate filed 3 Apr 1957 in Texas for a birth the occurred in Missouri in 1905. There is no indication of when the surname for the mother was changed.

Tip: A delayed birth certificate may have been filed in a state the person was living in, not the state they were born in.

This would have just confused me to no end had I not known about the adoption. Martha's death is recorded in the same handwriting so I believe this was Annie's bible. 

There were letters to Annie from one of Dana's grand-aunts along with photos of some of Adelbert's children. That woman must have had some serious detective skills. She managed to find Annie only knowing that Adelbert wrote to his sister, a "Mrs. Bob somebody." Bob Burgess was Alice's third husband. And this was in the 1950s! Serious skills.
There were also obituaries, memorial cards, funeral sign-in books, and another family bible. This one belonged to Connie's mother.

No help with Alice's birth father but her birth mother? Susan Mary Woody! And with the names of some of her siblings I was able to find the family in censuses back to 1850.


AncestryDNA confirmed that Dad and Dana are 3rd cousins. She's a 3rd-4th cousin match (98% confidence) to my dad and my brother and a 5th-8th cousin match (moderate confidence) to me. Now if Ancestry would just develop some decent tools for comparing DNA and comparing match lists we might be able to find some leads on Alice and Adelbert's father and his family!

A Picture is Worth...

I'll end with a couple of photos. This is probably my favorite of the many photos I copied from Connie. It wasn't labeled. At first I put this in the pile of unknowns and then I noticed the boys on the left were probably twins. From there it was easy to piece together. Even though the photo isn't crystal clear, is there any question that Susan is Alice's birth mother?

Taken around 1906 in either Missouri or Oklahoma. John Franklin Hammack with twins Erwin and Everett (I don't know which is which). On the far right is Alice Snider Mott Hammack with Annie in the high chair. Front and center is Carrie with Norman Jones, Alice's son from her first marriage. I believe the woman behind them is Alice's mother and my 3rd great-grandmother, Susan Mary Woody Snider Mott.

John and Alice about 20 years later. This photo had their names on the back.

NEXT POST: The Impossible Dream


  1. Great article and excellent research techniques. My son's maternal families are from Caddo County, Oklahoma. Visited there in the 1960's while stationed at McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas.

  2. Wow! What a story. I had to re-read it a few times (and scroll up and down) in order to keep the name changes straight.

    On the DNA front, I get frustrated over Ancestry's lack of good tools for their DNA kits. I paid to transfer kits into FTDNA (I have my own adoption mystery from the 1870s to clear up). On the free side, you can transfer your AncestryDNA data into GEDMatch (www.gedmatch.com). IT is a free site, run by volunteers, so it does go down sometimes, but it does put you into a pool of serious researchers who have tested from any of the major testing companies. With their chromosome matching tools you might be able to find someone who matches your dad and cousin on specific chromosomes and see if they have the missing pieces to your puzzle.