Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fearless Females: Searching for Mary

Women's History Month Fearless Females blog prompts: Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

Mary Elizabeth Heath (Thomas) a.k.a. Polly, she's a brick wall alright. I think the wall must be "higher than all the worms!" "Higher than all the worms" is how much we love each other in our family, nobody knows how high that is but I can tell you that it is pretty high!

One of the tough things about Mary is that she is the wife of my other huge brick wall, Jonathan S. Thomas. Jonathan and Mary are my great great-grandparents on my mom's paternal side of the family. I can pretty confidently trace ancestors back several generations on all sides of my family but these two just don't give a clue. Maybe because they had such common names, maybe because they lived in a very rural area, maybe, maybe, maybe....

It appears from US Census records that Mary had two brothers, two half brothers, and one sister. Three of her brothers (including both of her half brothers) were killed in the American Civil War. Her widowed sister, Elizabeth, lived with Johnathan and Mary most of her adult life. It appears, also, that Mary's mother died when Mary was very young, possibly when she was only two or three years old.

Mary was born sometime during 1829, most likely in Johnson County, Georgia. I have traced her in US Census records every ten years from 1830 to 1880, living in Emanuel, Pulaski, and Appling Counties in Georgia. How it is that someone who regularly shows up every ten years in the census is considered a brick wall? Well, I don't know her mother's name, when Mary died, or where she was buried. Just a few pretty important facts to help wrap up her story.

Possible sources for more information? Ummm...good question! I'll have to think about that some more...actually, I think about that a lot! Like great great-granddaddy Jonathan, we'll find your story Mary, we won't give up until we do!

The researcher, the family historian, and the photographer,
searching for Mary (and Jonathan) in Dexter, Georgia, February 2013
Angie Abbate Mood, James Earl Thomas, Vicky Abbate Johnson


  1. Welcome to Geneabloggers! That's a tough brick wall. Have you tried the probate records for Georgia at

    They are not searchable, but usually the volumes have an index of names in the front. Good luck! Kathryn

  2. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"
    The Heritage Tourist at In-Depth Genealogist:

  3. Welcome to GeneaBloggers! I read your "About The Blog" page and love that you started your blog to share your family history with your family members in an interesting and fun way. That's awesome!

    Best to you,


  4. Welcome to GeneaBloggers! I enjoyed reading about your search for Mary. I too have a missing Mary and recently blogged about my creative approach to searching for her. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Happy searching,

  5. You may have already done this, but the civil war records of the brothers who served might yield some good information to help in your research. Good luck!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  6. Well, they may be brick walls, but they are also opportunities for some adventure! Best wishes as you track down their stories. It's really the thrill of the chase that makes genealogy so interesting.

    Angie, I found your blog from a mention on GeneaBloggers last weekend. Best wishes as you continue writing about your research discoveries. May your excitement over what you are finding become contagious and catch on in the rest of your family!

  7. Thank you everyone for the welcome, encouragement, and great hints on searching for Mary (and Jonathan). I am excited about being a part of the Geneabloggers community and look forward to learning from you all!