Grandma Was a Census Enumerator

Gold star for my cousin Daniel, who made an exciting discovery when studying the 1940 census page showing our great-grandparents and fam in Carter County, Tennessee (click on the images for larger versions):

The Hayeses in the 1940 census (image from

Nothing too unusual in the crop above — the census page lists my great-grandparents William E. and Della (Crow) Hayes, along with their children including my grandma, G. Alma.

Actually, one discovery does reveal itself in the information listed above — I never knew that my great aunt Ruth was born in Colorado until I saw this page — this was confirmed by relatives at a recent family gathering. There will be another blog post on that story later.

BUT, the really super-huge-big-deal discovery was made by Daniel at the top of the page. Check out the name of the enumerator:

Enumerator: Alma Hayes (image from

The enumerator was Alma Hayes a.k.a. Grandma! You think I would have recognized the handwriting. Kudos, cousin Daniel!

When Even Vital Records Can’t Be Trusted

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

I was just notified by that they found the death certificate for my 2nd great-grandfather Daniel B. Crow. I love finding vital records for any of my ancestors, but this one immediately raised some questions.

First of all, the  certificate lists his mother’s maiden name as Mary Crow. I am 95 percent sure that his mother’s actual name was Elizabeth Hart (based on census and marriage records). So where did Mary Crow come from? Well, Daniel was married to a Mary (nee Gourley). He also had a sister named Mary Crow. If his father Isaac Crow indeed married a woman named Mary, I certainly hope it wasn’t a relation of too close proximity.

Since the deceased couldn’t possibly provide the information above, it was provided by a relative–in this case, someone by the name H. T. Crow. I believe this to be Daniel’s son, Hugh Taylor Crow. Is it possible he didn’t know or remember his grandmother’s name? I suppose. Is it possibly an entry error by whoever filled out the form? I find this more believable, especially given the other discrepancy I detail below.

The next fact that gives me pause is the burial date of 8 April 1921, which predates the death date of 27 April 1921 (which appears to be corrected on the certificate).

Death date as listed on Daniel B. Crow’s death certificate (

Burial information on Daniel B. Crow’s death certificate (

Another problem has arisen in trying to locate the cemetery listed here. There are two cemeteries, in Cannon County, Tenn., with the word Milligan in their names. Neither is in Johnson City, which isn’t in Cannon County. The closest match I found on FindaGrave in Carter County is a cemetery called Millington County Cemetery, but it only has one interment listed and I think that its information is in error too.

So, boys and girls, what have we learned here? Even with vital records, each bit of information must be considered carefully and discrepancies investigated. In this case, I need to find further evidence to support the information provided, especially regarding Daniel’s death and burial dates. Finding his grave might clear it up. An obituary may help as well. The undertaker’s name is given. I might be able to track down which funeral home he worked for and investigate any available records of theirs as well.

Surname Saturday: GOURLEY (TN)

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

From my Ahnentafel chart:

15. Della CROW
31. Mary L. GOURLEY
62. Alfred T. Gourley

The parents of my 3rd great-grandfather Alfred T. Gourley are a mystery to me. I know he was born in 1813 in Tennessee according to the census and military records. A military enlistment document* on states he was 5′ 6 1/2″ and had blue eyes, dark hair and fair skin at the age of 21. He was a farmer from Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee, which is where my HAYES and CROW roots go way back as well.

Alfred and his wife Mary Ann BARRY had eight children — four boys and four girls, including my great-great grandmother Mary L. Gourley. The others:

William R. Gourley (b. 1845)
George W. Gourley (b. 1849)
Willard S. Gourley (b. 1851)
Thomas A. Gourley (b. 1855)
Ellen M. Gourley (b. 1858)
Martha J. Gourley (b. 1860)
Elizabeth A. Gourley (b. 1864)

There’s a possible pension file match that I need to investigate the next time I’m at the National Archives. That should help me fill in a lot of information (fingers crossed!).

Gourley is also spelled Gourly and Gorley in records I have come across.

* U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, p. 75, Alfred T. Gourly, ( : accessed 28 December 2010); citing Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, National Archives Microfilm Publication M233.