I am pleased to report of my great success in “finding my folks” through numerous newly added Virginia databases on Ancestry.com such as the Virginia Death Certificates (1912-2014). Search of this database has allowed me to make numerous family connections. However, on Wednesday evening (October 21, 2015), I stumbled upon two death certificates which provided an ancestor's maiden name and also information that took me back another generation on my James Family of Greensville County, Virginia.
County, Virginia. The James family is the birth family of my great grandmother, Mary Lula James Pair (1880-1944). I traced my great grandmother through her death in 1944, however, I was only able to locate her parents and siblings up through the 1900 census. I searched later censuses for her parents and siblings, but did not find anyone in this family living in Greensville County, Virginia.
My gold mine finding on Wednesday, October 21st resulted in discovering the following two death certificates. This finding gave me great genealogy joy!
Document #1: Death Certificate of Addie James Banks (sister of my great grandmother Mary Lula)
I did a surname search first for “Cyfax James” and then for “Syfax James” of Greensville County, Virginia. He was a 2X Grandfather and father to my great grandmother Mary Lula James Pair (1872-1944). A death certificate for one of his daughters and a sister to my great grandmother came up in the search. Through this certificate, I learned several new things:
- That I had family members migrate from the rural area of Greensville County, Virginia to the cities of Newport News and Hampton, Virginia earlier than I previously thought. I only knew that some of them migrated to this area during the 1940s and 1950s which included my father's move to the area when he was a boy after the death of his mother in 1956. Some of his older sisters had migrated to the area during the 1940s for better job opportunities when they were teenagers and/or young women. Only two of these sisters are still living and I need to ask them details about their migration.
- I also learned from this death certificate of my Aunt Addie that her mother’s maiden name was “Mitchell.” Louise (also named as Louisa in many records) and Cyfax (Syfax) James were married by the time of the 1870 census and I have not found a marriage record yet.
- Aunt Addie's address at 132 Wine Street in Hampton, Virginia is of interest because a local family whose history I have been researching, had members of their family also living on Wine Street at that time. It will be interesting to see if I find any connections between my family and this local family whom I’m researching. I informed a descendant of this local family of my new finding and we laughed at the possibility that our ancestors may have known each other long ago.
Document #2: Death Certificate of Louise (Louisa) James, my 2X great grandmother and mother of Mary Lula James Pair and Addie James Banks
Next, I did a surname search for "Wyche" because I recalled seeing persons with this surname living with my 2x grandparents “Cyfax and Louisa James” on the 1870 and 1880 censuses. My search resulted in finding the death certificate of my 2X great-grandmother Louise (Louisa) James. This finding added the following new information to my genealogy collection.
- Name of her father (Matthew Wyche). Yay! This finding puts me back another generation on this line. However, Grandma Louise’s (Louisa) maiden name was given as “Mitchell” on the death certificate of one of her daughters (Addie James Banks).
- Occupation: Midwife. How exciting to learn this because now I have two ancestors who were Midwives. The other midwife in the family was a 2X great grandmother on my mother’s side.
- Date of Death (January 12, 1927). In previous research, I was only able to trace this family up through the 1900 census living in Greensville County, Virginia. I assumed that they moved out of the county since I couldn’t find them. However, I need to look again at the 1910 and 1920 censuses. Perhaps I was only looking for them in a certain part of the county.
Locating these two new death certificates has changed the course of my genealogy research of my James family. This weekend, I found additional documents through Ancestry.com on this family and these findings make this quest even more interesting.