Friday, July 18, 2008
Fabulous Discovery in Texas-Another long lost relative reunited with his Ancestral Tree!
Today, I had another amazing discovery. I finally found the death certificate for my Great, Great, Great Uncle Major Smith in Texas, a place that I would have never thought to look.
Click to view image
The reason I would have never thought to look in Texas is because his family was from the Plain Dealing, Louisiana area and because he is buried in the family cemetery with them. I have pictures of his grave. However, I was never able to find a death certificate or any other records of him for that matter. Much of the information that I have on him came via oral history from family members including his sister and my GGG-Aunt, Sally who lived to be about 106. She kept his memory alive. I actually have an original large oval framed photograph of him pictured with his brother, my gg-grandfather, Richard Clyde "Dickie" Lee. It is a beautiful photograph of two very handsome men which graces the wall of my dining room.
Even though I had a great deal of proof of his existence, I just never had any genealogy records on him before now. It was as if he left no paper trail of his life at all until now in Texas.
Again, I am so elated. The death certificate confirms some information that I already knew including the fact that he died young, at age 30. It lists his parents as Anthony Smith and Betty Banks which I also knew. However, it dispelled a lot of the rumors that previously existed regarding the circumstances of his death. The information that I always heard was that he was killed in a tragic car accident. However, according to his death certificate, he died of pulmonary tuberculosis while working in El Paso, Texas doing rail road work on January 21, 1923. It says he had only been in the area for 4 months. Apparently, he went there to earn money since although the Great Depression did not hit until 1928, times were still hard especially for african americans in the South so they often went where they could find work. He was listed as single which is also in contrast to some of the stories that he was married. It is still unknown if he had any children. His death still seems tragic to me and must have to his family with him dying at the age of 30.
I'm sure Uncle Major is smiling today because of the knowledge that his final story is finally known made possible by the release of vital records, today's technology and the Awesome Power and Will of God Almighty! I'm smiling too!
Major Smith January 1, 1893 to January 21, 1923
(Major Smith's grave in Galilee Baptist Chruch Family cemetery in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. Most likely placed much later after burial since Birth and Death information is incorrect on stone as if it was estimated by memory)
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see!