A Tale of 3 Brothers

With the 1940 census index just weeks away from potentially being finished, I am finally taking some time to explore more individuals in my tree.  Last night, I did some searching on Kalonji’s side of the family and found a bit of an intrigue.  Naturally, it kept me up way past my bedtime!  :-D

I was searching for the siblings of Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Morris Wisdom.  To date, this is what I know of Morris’ family: He had two brothers, Nick & Turner.  The three of them were born around the 1890s in/around Montgomery County, TN.  Morris’ father is named Dick Wisdom and his mom is Margaret Meriweather/Meriwether.  I had no additional information about Dick & Margaret, but I may have a new connection now

In the 1940 census, I found Morris right where I expected (living with wife Zebedee and kids) and Turner is married to a woman named Ruby. Nick, however, is living in the household of Sandy Meriweather and family, and is listed as his uncle. Hmm..

Since Nick is listed as “uncle,” this would imply Nick had a sibling whose last name is Meriweather.  I wasn’t sure about that, but I kept it in mind. Who knows? Maybe Margaret gave her kids different last names?  I then began to search for more information about Sandy Meriwether.  

To do that, I turned to Ancestry Member Trees – this is an absolute fundamental part of my research kit. The trees aren’t perfect, but they can yield clues.  In doing so, I found a couple of people who had Sandy in their tree and it seems his father was a James Meriwether, born about 1887 in Montgomery County, TN.  And… James’ mother is named Margaret Meriwether – same as Nick’s! If Nick and James are siblings, that would indeed make Nick Sandy’s uncle. 

In looking at the records attached for Margaret Meriwether, I found a link to her in the 1900 census where she and her family are only enumerated by first initial.  She is 31 years old with 5 children – their initials are M., J., N., M. & T. All are under the surname Meriwether. Well now – -N.M.&T could be Nick, Morris & Turner! That is their birth order too.  This could explain why I never found the three brothers any earlier than the 1910 census – their last names in 1900 are not “Wisdom” but “Meriwether.”  The “J” in this record is born in August 1887 – same as Sandy’s father. 

And, Margaret is living two doors away from a 54 year-old widow, R. Wisdom and his kids.  R could be “Richard” which is what “Dick” is short for.  

I now want to know if “R” is indeed “Dick,” so back to the 1880 census I go. Sure enough, I find him and he is indeed enumerated as Dick. I  think I have found Nick, Morris & Turner’s parents!   Of course, I will need to research further and look for primary sources, but this is a great start. If this turns out to be true, then I’ve got a whole new branch of Kalonji’s family to research.  In fact, Dick’s death certificate gives HIS parents as Mr. Palm and Edith Wisdom, so that’s a whole new generation!  

The research is on! I’ve got so much to look for! Just a few include:

I am pleased to have had the 1940 census available to jump start the research on this branch.

Morris Wisdom — 1892-1976

I’m posting this a day early, but I wanted to do it before I forgot about it. November 13th (tomorrow) will be the anniversary of the death of Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Morris Wisdom. As I have been doing my research, I have yet to find Morris in the 1900 census, but two independent sources (his death certificate and his newspaper obituary) tell me that his parents were Margaret Wisdom (nee Meriwether) and Dick Wisdom.

Kalonji’s mother remembers her grandfather Morris and I really must interview her one day. All I really know at this point are some details. I have three different dates for his birthday – the death certificate says 8 May 1905, the Social Security Death Index says 12 May 1892 and his WWI Draft Registration Card says 12 May 1896. I’m inclined to believe that the 12 May 1896 may be the most accurate since it is the earliest recorded one so far, but I need to order his SS applicaton form to see what he reported on it. I also hope that the app form will also state who his parents are. If only I could find out more about Dick & Margaret. Just a couple of weeks ago the public library in Clarksville was kind enough to email me his newspaper obituary, so I was very glad to receive it.

I know from a coworker of mine who is from Clarksville, TN (the area where Morris is from) that the Merriweathers were a prominent white family in that area, so there are a lot of African-Americans with that last name there. I will pursue this avenue in my research to see if I can make a connection of Margaret with those Meriweathers.