Saturday, August 22, 2015

Seeing the Patterns in the Gibson, Graves and Tyler Families

Whenever a brick wall forms I look outside the box. I use all my resources and look for patterns. These patterns may be subtle but its a starting point for my theory. I test each theory out and if it doesn't work, I go back and test another. So far this is what works for me.

A few months ago I discovered an error in the Gibson family tree and I decided on revisiting that branch. My 2x great-grandfather Daniel Gibson (1825-1917) was the primary focus.

I have his death certificate from Orangeburg that had an actual birth date of March 25, 1825. I found that to be rare during that time period for African-Americans. This death certificate had the names of his parents, Daniel and Mariah on it. What is interesting is that my great-grandfather Moses Gibson b. 1879 was named the undertaker. I guess he took responsibility for burying his father at Macedonia Church cemetery. Moses was the youngest male son of Daniel and his 2nd wife Judy Salley. Moses was the only son I found living in Orangeburg during the early 1900s. He probably took care of his father till his death.

So you would think everything is fine and perfect in the Gibson family tree, right? Well something is WRONG.

I found the death certificate of Daniel's eldest daughter, Ellen Gibson-Hampton. She lived next door to Daniel in Union, Orangeburg when the census was taken in 1880.

Her 1927 death certificate also stated that her parents were Daniel and Maria Gibson. They cannot be the same people! There is a 28 year age difference between births. I seriously doubt if she was Daniel's sister. Unfortunately the 1870 census completely missed this part of Orangeburg again (Why must you make it so difficult for me census-takers?).

So now I had to think outside the box to get answers. Perhaps Daniel was not born in Orangeburg? Was he a Gibson?

I went to the 1860 census and noticed a pattern.

In the 1860 Slave Schedule for St. James Goose Creek, Charleston, SC the name Moses Gibson came up. Moses Gibson owned one 35 year old male enslaved person. Could this be my Daniel? The age is exact to 1825. Did Daniel name his youngest son after a former slaveowner? It seems very likely. Moses Gibson was employed as the Overseer to BrickHope plantation for Charles W. Graves. I am also a Graves! Moses must have purchased Daniel from the Graves family.

This is where St. James Goose Creek is on the map. Orangeburg is northwest of Charleston.

BrickHope plantation is now a housing development. The land where my ancestors lived, worked and died. I bet the current residents have no idea about its history.

So I left the census records and dug into the SC archives. Charles W. Graves was the grandson of Charles Graves and Ann Toomer. When Charles Graves died in 1840, he left his plantation to his two grandsons Charles W. and A. Duncan Graves. On April 6, 1847 the Graves brothers purchased tools, furniture and 73 slaves from the estate of their grandfather.

The highlighted names include Daniel (my 2x great-grandfather), Mary (quite possibly Maria his mother or Maria II his first wife), and Tenah. Tenah is my 3x great-grandmother Teener Graves.

Teener b. 1830 was the wife of David Graves b. 1830. Dave and Teener settled in Willow, Orangeburg after the Civil War and raised six children named Lewezer, Chloe, Dave Jr., Jerry, Betty and Cornelius. Lewezer Graves b. 1868 is my 2x great-grandmother. Thanks to all the census taker misspellings, I completely overlooked that Teener is actually Tenah/Tina and Lewezer is actually Louisa.

In 1891 Louisa married my 2x-great-grandfather William Landy Tyler b. 1861 in Orangeburg. They had 12 children including Jerry Tyler (named after his uncle Jerry Graves) and my great-grandmother Tenell Tyler b. 1891. Tenell was the 2nd wife of my great-grandfather Moses Gibson.

So now we have come full circle. By noticing common names passed through several generations, I was able to piece together the relationships in 3 branches of my family tree without the help of the 1870 census. I confirmed that Daniel was first a Graves before he was a Gibson. Hopefully I will be able to confirm Daniel's parents one day.


  1. Amazing detective work! I love the Color Purple too and although that's not my most favorite part I love that part. MY FAVORITE part is Mister says "Cealy leaving, over my dead body." Then, Cealy stands up bangs, the knife unto the table, and says ,"Your dead body be just the welcome mat I need" Anyway, this is great Wayne good job.

  2. This is some great detective work Wayne! Don't you just love how census takers just murdered some names sometimes. Those misspellings seem to always get me. Enjoyed your post.

  3. I enjoyed reading this post. Love the way you analyzed what you had and moved on to find more. I'm working on a post now with a similar theme - working with the records we have as substitutes for the missing records.

  4. I need to start taking this approach on some of my more important research. Loved it. Them census takers can get on your last good nerve. The census records are some of the first pieces of clues we get to use for further research. Great Piece.

  5. Great how you worked through your documents to find out what is not obvious by first sight. Sometimes we need to dig deep into our papers and analyze relationships to get a clue.

  6. Excellent post!

    Yes, you do have to think outside of the box sometimes.

  7. Nice Work. I researched the Brick Hope plantation. My 3x great grandfather rance Williams' parents were born in South Carolina. I found the names of Abram, Rance, Nancy and Sam listed in the wills, accounting and inventory list of Charles Graves in 1847.

    Rance Williams and his parents were in Yalobusha, Mississippi. Rance owned a farm right next to land owned by a John Graves. John Graves is listed as a slave holder on the 1860 slave schedules.
    I have yet to establish any connection to the John graves of Yalobusha, Mississippi with the Graves family of the Brick house plantation in South Carolina. All I know so far is that my 4x great grandparents were from South Carolina and their given names appear on Charles graves estate papers and their son owned land in Mississippi next to a John graves.

    1. Have you found any documents on John Graves pertaining to his age and family relations? I would check all spellings of Greaves, graves, grave, etc. Sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack but persistence will pay off soon.