Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nonexistent Information in Genealogy ----- Social Security System Part 3

What's My Number?

When the Social Security Act of 1935 was signed into law, the social security number was developed.   The social security number was designed as a unique nine digit identifier which is assigned to an individual after completion of an application. It is presently used to track Social Security benefits, authentication and identification purposes.  Once an individual dies the number is not recycled. But are these statements  true?

In March 2015, the Office of the Inspector General* for the Social Security Administration* identified 6.5 million social security number holders age 112 or older who did not have death information on the Numident (acronym for "Numerical Identification System). There are approximately 35 people worldwide who are known to be 112 years old. In the report, a man fraudulently opened two banks accounts using social security numbers of individuals born in 1886 and 1893 who did not appear on the Death Master File.

ID Analytics is a company which develops consumer software solutions for authentication and identification purposes and a subsidiary of LifeLock.*  Lifelock is an identity theft protection company.  ID Analytics has discovered that:

  1.  More than 100,000 people have 5 or more social security numbers
  2.    15% of social security numbers are associate with two or more people 
  3.  More than 140,000 social security numbers are associated with 5 or more people
  4.  More than 27,000 social security are associated with 10 or more people
  5.  6.1% of Americans have 2 social security numbers associated with their name 

I have been researching my maternal family tree on Ancestry.com  in the U.S. Social Security Application Claims Index 1936-2007.  I found  three results for an ancestor Chalmers Bearden.  His name is listed three times differently.

           Name                                 Date of Birth               Place of Birth         Application     Parents
Chalmers Bearden  29/Nov/1889   McComb     June    Harriet
                                                                   Ms              1937   Stacher
 Chalmern Bearden  29/Nov/1886   McComb    Nov    Harriet
                                                                   Ms              1941   Stacher

CH Bearden        29/Nov/1885      McComb        Dec     Harriet
                                                                    Ms          1943      Stacher

 Many of the errors are thought to secondary to duplication errors and fraud.  In genealogy research the social security number may not be a definitive source of information. 

* I am not an employee or representative of these organizations
 ----- The Tree Gardener

Friday, October 9, 2015

Nonexistent Information in Genealogy Social Security System Part 2

 In the process of my performing genealogy research, I could not find some ancestors and people that I sought in Social Security Death Index .  I then began to realize that some people may have never been included within the Social Security data base. Many of my ancestors were farmers, cooks, maids and worked in the lumber industry.  I do not know if a person was prohibited from completing a Social Security application in one of the excluded classifications. I think it is conceivable that a person might not bother to  complete a Social Security application if they knew they would not receive any benefits.  Ancestors may have died after 1935 and before they were included in the Social Security System.  

My purpose is not to present an exhaustive presentation of the Social Security System exclusions. I would also like to mention I am not an expert in the nuances of the Social Security System. The Social Security System has evolved since 1935.  There have been 37 versions of the Social Security cards and 3 types of cards.  For example from 1946 to 1972 printed on the card was "Not For Identification".  This might also affect locating individuals by their Social Security number in other records. Possibly knowing the exclusions and inclusions in the Social Security Programs can prevent looking for nonexistent information. 

 The Social Security slowly began to decreased the exclusions 

  1. 1939 Exclusion of of workers 65 years old and older was eliminated
  2. 1950-1956 Agricultural workers were included with certain limitations based on pay and days worked
  3. 1950s Coverage extended to workers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island
  4. 1960 Coverage extended to workers Guam and America Samoa
  5. 1951 Coverage was extended to Domestic workers which included maids, butlers, gardeners and chauffeurs with certain limitations based on pay and days worked
  6. 1951 State and local government employees where included
  7. 1983   Coverage was extended to civilian employees of Federal executive, judicial, legislative branches hired after December 31, 1983. This coverage was given members of federal judges, executive level political appointees, Congress, the President and Vice President 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Nonexistent information in Genealogy --- The Social Security System

 The  United States Social Security Act  was signed into law in August 17, 1935. Social Security was initially to provide retired workers a small income after the age of 65.  Benefits were to be paid to workers based on payroll contributions paid  during their working life. Social security applications and death index can provide not only the social security number the name of  an individual, date of birth and death,race, parents  and last known residence. 

Now a parent can request a social security number for a baby before it leaves the hospital. If you plan to use your child as a deduction on your income tax, the child is required to have a social security number.  All employers are required to use an employee social security number to provide information to the IRS. The social security number is a unique piece of information because once an individual dies the number is not recycled. It is reasonable that a genealogist would look at social security records to find information.  

It would also be reasonable to assume every natural born citizen working in the United States after 1935 had a Social Security number.   If you were to make that assumption, you would be wrong.

Social Security in 1935

When Social Security was initially established it was recommended that benefits would be limited to industrial workers. The following groups were excluded from coverage
  1.  Self-employed workers ( which included farmers and domestic workers) 
  2. Workers in the Non-Profit Sector
  3. Professionals such as doctors, lawyers and ministers
  4.  Merchant marine seamen
  5. Employees in charitable or educational foundations
  6. Causal laborers
  7. Persons who are 65 or older
  8. Employees for the American Society for the Cruelty to Animals 
  9. Members of Congress
  10. Employees of federal, state or local government. That includes the President of the United States to postal workers 
Excluded from coverage were 24 % of the Caucasian and 65 % of the African Americans workforce. The professional employees of the NAACP as well as the farmer sharecropper and maid were initially excluded from Social Security.

As a genealogists looking for information we must keep in mind that the Social Security laws of today were not applicable 80 years ago. We maybe looking for nonexistent information  about our ancestors in the Social Security System.
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 70 No. 4 (released November 2010)
by Larry DeWitt

----- The Tree Gardener

Friday, October 2, 2015

Nonexistent Information in Genealogy


As a family historian and genealogist, I am constantly looking at records which relate to my research families. We are taught in performing our search to gather information and travel from the known to the unknown.   I have used vital records, court documents, census, school records, some government documents and Internet message boards looking for family connections. Living in the era of information technology, the Internet has increased possible sources of information.  With years of effort I have hit many brick walls. I finally realized that I may have used tools available today to find evidence which never existed about people who lived decades ago. The information that we collect today is not the same as years ago. It is possible that I have been looking for information that may have never existed. I plan to launch a series of blogs which I have titled Nonexistent Information. Possibly others have lumps from hitting brick walls and discovered their roots travelled in a different direction.   

----- The Tree Gardner

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Calvin Caston Last Will and Testament 2

Lydia Caston petitioned the court on April 11, 1913 to receive the stated benefits in the will of her late husband Calvin Caston.  It is in this document the date of death of Calvin Caston is recorded  as July 19, 1912.  

 Calvin Caston had his insurance policy from the Masonic Benefit Association through the M. W. Stringer Masonic Grand Lodge.  This black Masonic lodge was organized in Vicksburg, Mississippi by Thomas W. Stringer in 1867 and received it's charter in 1873. This was the first black Masonic lodge in the state of Mississippi. I am happy to say that this organization is still in existence in Jackson, Mississippi. I would also like to mention that Thomas W. Stringer was the first black man elected to the Mississippi state legislature and started several other lodges in Louisiana.

Calvin Caston had the Masonic benefit policy more than 30 days and less than a year. Calvin's will was found to be true and admitted to probate.  All debtors and funeral expenses are usually paid and any remaining money is given to the beneficiaries. His heirs were eligible for $300 which equivalent to $7221.20 in 2015.  It is not known how much money Lydia and Silas Caston received after debts were paid.   

-----The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Calvin Caston Last Will & Testament

A will and testament is a legal document which names a person or persons to manage an estate or personal property after the death of another person the testator. Calvin Caston had a will.

 It was through a search of the website Ancestry.com  I found the Last Will & Testament of Calvin Caston.  I have searched for several years concerning the date Calvin Caston died. The state of Mississippi did not register deaths until November, 1912. Calvin Caston died July 19,1912. At the time of his death, he was still a resident of Pike County, Mississippi.  His will and testament was recorded on March 29, 1912. Calvin was a member of the Masonic Benefit Association.  As a member of this association, he purchase a policy with a graduated pay out with a maximum  face value of $700.00 he bequeathed 1/3 to his wife Lydia Caston and 2/3 to his son Silas Caston. Seven hundred dollars in 1912 would have an approximate value of $16,874.00  in 2015. It is clear from this act that he want to insure that Lydia would have the financial means to care for herself and the family homestead would be maintained through his son Silas. 

Will of Calvin Caston

Will of Calvin Caston
More information to come.

----- The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


FAN is a mnemonic in genealogy circles for Friends, Associates and Neighbors.  In my genealogical research,  I try to accumulate information from my ancestor's FAN (Friends, Associates & Neighbors) club. The FAN of ancestors is comparable to the modern social network.   I have many surnames which include my ancestors names, their neighbors, their in laws and my in-laws. I have also found that in  genealogical  research that having the same surname in the same geographic area does necessarily equal a blood relationship.  Some surnames of individuals have no  obvious relationship I have seen repeatedly in my research.  I can not resist saving information of a family that lived in same geographic area and may or may not be  related to an ancestor.       

I have been able to people in connect FAN connections from geographic location using homestead information from the Bureau of land Management. The chart has information posted in a previous blog except for Calvin Caston.

Walkers Bridge Pike County, Mississippi

Homesteader                Year Start of                       Witnesses                          Year final of
                                       Homestead                                                                        Homestead

Robert Brumfield         Sept. 12, 1869              Henry Conerly                       Aug. 31, 1876
                                                                                 Irvin Brumfield

Isham Broomfield      March 6, 1873/              Robert Magee,                       June 21, 1883
 (Brumfield)                   Dec.,1870                     Joseph Conerly 
                                                                              & Jacob Ellzey    
Irvin Brumfield             Sept. 1, 1870                 Henry Conerly &                  June 13, 1881
                                                                                  Calvin Caston

Gale Brumfield             Dec 10, 1869                R. S. Wilson &                        March 14, 1876
                                                                                 W. W. Wilson

Calvin Caston                  August 15,1870            Tom Brumfield                      June 11, 1889
                                                                                  Joe McEwin
                                                                                  David Walker
                                                                                  Henry S. Brummel

All of these men possibly knew each other prior to establishing a homestead. Calvin Caston was probably the stepfather of Irvin and Tom Brumfield. Henry Conerly knew Calvin Caston, Robert and Irvin Brumfield.  Possibly Henry Conerly and Joseph Conerly are related. I found Henry and Joseph enumerated in the 1880 census.
Henry Conerly 55 years old and Joseph Conerly 23 years old enumerated  in the  Pike County, Mississippi 1880 Federal Census

Maybe they homestead near each other because they had were friends or previously lived together.  

------The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Do You Do When The Courthouse Has Burned Down?

 Courthouse fires, natural disasters or just neglect can be causes for lost records. In genealogy research, what can be done when documentation of events has been destroyed? Don't hit the panic button. First take an inventory of the information that was housed in the courthouse. Documents or copies may have been stored in a different location.   I have some suggestions that might with the exploration.

  • Are all the records destroyed? The new courthouse may have some of the old records.
  • Boundaries of counties have changed over the years. The  dated information being sought could be housed in a different county .  Pike County, Mississippi was derived from Marion County in 1815.  Marion County was derived from Amite, Wayne and Franklin Counties in 1811. Amite, Wayne and Franklin Counties were formed in 1809. Walthall County was derived from Pike and Marion Counties in 1912. I might have to investigate all these counties.
  •  Many times a small portion of the information is  available in another location.   According to the United States Census Bureau, there is portion of the 1890 Federal Census that was not destroyed in the 1921 fire.  Cincinnati, Hamilton County 1890 census is available.  I plan on looking at this census record in the future.
  • Some states have a state census.  Louisiana has a state census for 1853 and 1858.  Georgia has a state census for these years 1798, 1800, 1810, 1827, 1834, 1838, 1845, 1852, 1853, 1859, 1865, 1879.
  • Family history genealogical information is  available at local libraries. The McComb, Mississippi Public library at 1022 Virginia Avenue  has a genealogy collection with books and family genealogy information from the area. Located there is information that you probably won't find anywhere else.
  • Land records can establish that an ancestor lived in an geographic area.  In the case of the homestead records the Bureau of Land Management has homestead information including land title.
  • Family members may have attended the same church and were buried in the same cemetery. Baptismal, marriage,  cemetery and funeral records maybe available.  
  • Newspapers from the area may have information that preceded  the fire.
  • Military records of ancestors. There is a 1890 Veterans Census which enumerated many Union veterans.
  • Native Americans were enumerated in the general census as well as on reservations in 1900. There are separate  census of different tribes such as Pueblo Indians 1850 to 1879 and the 1857 Shawnee census. 
  • Look in all the places your ancestor lived. An ancestors maybe an expatriate or was born in another country.  
  • Make sure the information you are looking for was  stored at the courthouse.

If anyone has other ideas please make a comment.

------The  Tree Gardener

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Calvin Caston & The Courthouse

Calvin Caston homestead took many years to establish a title to the land. It was not totally clear to me what  impediments  prevented him obtaining his land.  When I searched his homestead documents, one of reasons became clear why there was a delay.  The  Pike County courthouse burned down in 1882. The following is documentation:


The State of Mississippi
Pike County

I A. P. Sparkman Clerk of the Circuit Court in and for said County and State hereby that the cause for not forwarding the Final Proof of Calvin Caston was my inability to secure blanks #369 and that said proof was forwarded as soon as I received said blanks. I further certify that Calvin Caston Homestead Prcht #4260 was destroyed by fire in the Courthouse in 1882 and that he has never obtained a duplicate.

Gurr under my hand and official
 seal this 24th day of May A.D. 1889

The documents that were destroyed in the 1882 fire where important over a hundred years ago as they are in genealogical research today.

----- The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Calvin Caston Homestead Part 2

Homestead Witnesses

Calvin Caston had to have two witnesses for final proof  to complete his homestead application.  His two witnesses Tom Brumfield  35 years old and Joe McEwin 40 years old  gave testimony in Magnolia March 16, 1889. They both lived at Walkers Bridge, Mississippi . 

Calvin Caston documentation of homestead witnesses Tom Brumfield & Joe McEwen

Tom Brumfield testimony solidified his connection to Calvin Caston. He gives brief information about himself in question 2 stating  his present occupation is farmer not employed by anyone since January, 1872.  Question 4  asks how far from the residence of claimant on same tract do you reside and how long have you lived there?  "1/2 mile have lived there 3 years. before that lived have lived in the same neighborhood."  Question 6 he states he has known Calvin Caston "all his life .(Calvin Caston) has lived on his claim 17 years ...."  
 Question 19 asks the claimant's actual residence and how often he was seen him upon the land. Tom states " I live in sight of claimants house, see his family on the land nearly every day know he has lived there .... "
First page of Tom Brumfield testimony for Calvin Caston's homestead 

Joe McEwin and Andrew Johnson lived near the claimant was testimony also given by Tom Brumfield.

Joe McEwin in his testimony states he is a farmer. Question 4 How far from the said claimant on said tract do you reside, do you reside and how long have you lived there? " 1/4 mile have lived there 9 years." In question 6 he says that he has know Calvin Caston  for 17 years.

First page of testimony of Joe McEwen for Calvin Caston's homestead
Joe describes that Calvin has cultivated 50 acres of land planting cotton, peas and potatoes with unknown value. Question 22 asked Give the size, construction, and material of claimant's house on said tract, and state the same is habitable during all seasons of the year. Ans. "18 x 22 ft big house with kitchen. is habitable all seasons of the year." 
Question 28  Does claimant , with his family, reside an said land as the present time? You will explain how you know he has resided there, as you heretofore stated. "They do. I live in sight of claimant house see him his  family on the land nearly every day, know he has lived on the land ...."

Calvin Caston witnesses testimony verified his residence from 1872 to 1889. There are additional rules that must be satisfied prior to the homesteader receiving title to the land  which include a thirty day published notice of  intention of  final proof  and an officer authorized to take final proof.

The published notice of final proof was made in the Magnolia Gazette newspaper.  In the notice, the name of the homesteader Calvin Caston, a description of the land (Sec. 22 T 2. N R. 9 E) and the name of the witnesses Henry S. Brummels, David Walker, Joe McEwin and Tom Brumfield all of Walkers Bridge, P. O. Pike Co. Miss. are given.  I do not have the witness testimony of  Henry S. Brummels and David Walker.

Calvin Caston finally received his homestead June 11, 1889.

 ----The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Calvin Caston

  What happen to Rosann and Elvira?

At the 2010 Caston-Brumfield family reunion, descendants of Calvin Caston were present. There were several of his children's descendants that were not represented Rosann, Elvira, Eliza, Jessie and Monroe. Through research of the family homestead I was able to determine what happen to Rosann and Elvira.
In the request for the reinstatement of the homestead made by Calvin Caston,  the affidavit mentions that an adult daughter died and he had three children who lived on the land and were dependant upon him.  Who was the adult daughter who died? Who were the dependant children?
Calvin Caston's children attended school in Pike County.   The enrolled children Jesse, Adiline and Monroe are enumerated in the 1885 school census record.  These children are probably the referred dependant children in the homestead  reinstatement affidavit.  There names are near the bottom of the page.

"Mississippi, Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14208-41161-22?cc=1856425 : accessed 28 July 2015), Pike > 1885 > image 7 of 178; Government Records, Jackson.

Hollis Caston was child of Calvin and Liddie Caston but he was not born until May 19, 1889 and therefore would not be one of the children mentioned in the affidavit. 

In the 1870 Federal Census for Pike County, Mississippi there are three female children enumerated with Calvin Caston.  It is assumed that his daughters are Elvira 17 years old, Rosann 15 years old and Adiline 3 years old. The 1870 census does not identify family relationships.

Adiine was 17 years old and living at home in 1885.  Her  descendants  have been located and identified in family reunions.  Rosann and Elvira would have been 30 and 32 years old in 1885.  I began to look for Rosann and Elvira.
I looked for Elvira on the website Family Search. I had previously  associated Elvira with the surname Brumfield and was unable to locate her.  I then used the surname Caston and found the following. 

  A death certificate of Earnest Thomas born May 14, 1888 in Mississippi who lived 39 years in Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas was found in the search. His father is listed as Jeff Thomas and mother Elvira Caston.  I wondered if I found my Elvira Caston. I decided to look for more information concerning Earnest Thomas and Jeff Thomas. Searching military records I located Earnest Thomas. 

"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KZZG-QGY : accessed 28 July 2015), Earnest Thomas, 1917-1918; citing Allen Parish, Louisiana, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,653,578.

"United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XP5F-GYS : accessed 28 July 2015), Earnest Thomas, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

I found his World War I and World War II registration cards. His date of birth is listed as May 14, 1888 at Walker Bridge, Mississippi. Walker's Bridge, Mississippi is in Pike County the location of Calvin Caston's homestead.  Is Earnest Thomas the son of Elvira Caston and grandson of Calvin Caston?   

I looked on the census records to see if I could locate Elvira Caston and Jeff Thomas. As a researcher of genealogy, I made the most common mistake not using various spellings of names. After careful review I found them in the 1880 federal Pike county census. I have looked at this census record many times and never notice that the household enumerated before Calvin Caston is Thomas Jefferson, wife Alvira Jefferson, child Horace and child Calvin.   The census taker had recorded the family's names incorrectly.  Thomas Jefferson is Jeff Thomas, Alvira Jefferson is Elvira Caston Thomas and Horace Jefferson is Horace Thomas and Calvin Jefferson is Calvin Thomas.  I have copied a portion of the 188o census

Elvira Thomas was enumerated in Pike County census in 1920 worked in the box factory and 1930  as a laundress  on her premises.
Elvira Caston house number family number 598/612 Year: 1920; Census Place: Beat 2, Pike, Mississippi; Roll: T625_891;
30B; Enumeration District: 102; Image: 744

Elvira Thomas House number and Family number  97/104 1930; Census Place: Beat 2, Pike, Mississippi; Roll: 1162; Page: 4B
; Enumeration District: 0004; Image:723.0; FHL microfilm: 2340897

 Earnest Thomas was born in 1888 and his mother was Elvira Caston Thomas.  Elvira Thomas was found in the 1920 and 1930 census she therefore did not die before 1885.  Rosann Caston must have been the adult daughter who died and was mentioned in the affidavit. I have not been able to find the cause of death.

----- The Tree Gardener

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Calvin Caston Where's the Proof ? Part 2

Part 2

Calvin Caston filed a homestead application August 15, 1870.  He built housing, planted crops and paid taxes on the property. In May 28, 1880 his homestead was cancelled.  

Homestead Application number 4260 at top of form

Calvin  failed to provide final proof of his homestead. Several events occurred which prevented submission of final proof.  On February 24, 1885 , Calvin Caston made a sworn affidavit  to the clerk of the circuit court of Pike county, Mississippi to reinstate his homestead. I have attempted to try to transcribe a portion of the affidavit:

Calvin Caston Request for Homestead Reinstatement

" ... at the time he should have made final proof on the said homestead he had a death in his family (can't decipher) a grown daughter and that he was confined to bed with a long spell of (can't decipher). That soon after he learned that his Htd was cancelled he came before the clerk of the court and petitioned the United states Land Department to reinstate him in (can't decipher) Homestead. That said petition was lost or miscarried on its way to Jackson.   That being uneducated and ignorant of the law he did not know what else to do.  That he has paid the taxes on the land several years and he thought in doing so he was doing his duty as a law abiding citizen and that in doing so

 Calvin Caston Request for Homestead Reinstatement and signature

it would give him the right to hold the same.  That he has lived on said land thirteen years and has made crops that many seasons.  He raised cotton, corn peas, potatoes in the land contracted in said Homestead that has erected on said land the following improvements  to with dwelling house, corn crib, stables (can't decipher) has sixty acres of the said in cultivation.  That his improvements that he has erected in said land is worth about three hundred dollars.  That he has completed with the same in the settlement and cultivation of said Homestead as faithfully as his extremely limited knowledge of the same enabled to do.  The premises considered he prays the United States department to reinstate him in said Homestead and permit him to make final proof on same as it is his only chance for a home for himself now in old age and his three children dependant upon him for a home in which to live."

"Sworn to and subscribed this                   his
24th day of Febry AD 1885"             Calvin X Caston

Calvin Caston homestead was reinstated April 4, 1885.

----- The Tree Gardener