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Yesterday, I came to the realization that a framed photo I thought pictured my great-grandparents was really too old to be depicting them. Luckily, when I slipped the photo from the frame, the real names of the couple were written on the back — Joseph Smith Hayes and his wife, “Mollie” Taylor Hayes. The helpful relative who labeled the photo also wrote that the couple were the parents of my great-grandfather William Hayes — I had never known his parents names before.
Armed with this new information, I went to Ancestry.com and found the couple listed in the 1930 U.S. census living in Carter County, Tennessee. This is the same county where I remember visiting my Great-Grandmother Hayes (Della, William’s wife) in the town of Elizabethton. The 1930 census listed Joseph and Mollie on Powder Branch Pike, but I don’t think a road by that name exists there any more.
Here is what information could be divined from the 1930 census listing:
- They owned a home worth $4,000 (not a farm).
- Joseph was two years younger than Mollie; they were 63 and 65 respectively in 1930.
- They were married when he was 19 and she was 21. That would have been ~1886.
- Her parents were both from Tennessee.
- His father was from North Carolina and his mother from Tennessee.
- He worked as a laborer doing odd jobs. She stayed at home.
- He was not a veteran.
But that is the only clear mention of Joseph and Mollie that I can find in census records — at least after an initial search. Part of my challenge is that Joseph Hayes is a very common name, so I haven’t followed up on all possibilities. However, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the Hayeses left Carter County and there are no other sure mentions of them living there in earlier or subsequent censuses.
I did find two possibilities (searching the census on HeritageQuest Online), but the age information doesn’t match up. I found a 29yo Joseph S. Hayes in the 1900 census with his wife Mary (36yo) and several children (including a William E. — that is my great-grandfather’s name). Both of Joseph’s parents are listed as from North Carolina.
I also found a 9yo Joseph S. Hayes in 1880 — his age would match that of the one found in 1900 — so perhaps those two are the same Joseph, but I’m not convinced he’s *my* Joseph. Still, the inconsistencies are subtle enough to leave room for the possibility that one or perhaps all of these census records had errors in them.
I’m assuming that Mollie wasn’t my great-great-grandmother’s real name, otherwise it wouldn’t be in quotes like that on the back of the photo. I understand that Mollie can be a nickname for Mary. I am tempted to assume that Taylor may have been her maiden name, but there is no guarantee.