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!
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:
- searching the historical Clarksville newspapers for Wisdom mentions
- finding clues into slaveholders — the white Wisdom family prominent in that are migrated to Montgomery County from Virginia (Dick’s parents are born in Va.) In fact, it looks like from the research one person on Ancestry has done, Margaret may be a great-granddaughter of Charles N. Meriwether, the one that migrated.
- researching burial records – Dick is buried in Golden Hill Cemetery in Montgomery County, which is on the National Register of Historic Places for it’s significance as an African-American cemetery. I should search for cemetery records to see if I can find out whom all is buried there
I am pleased to have had the 1940 census available to jump start the research on this branch.