Last Will and Testament
Originally I wanted to save these next two amazing (for me) finds until later, but in an effort to keep the posts rolling, I thought I'd share some easy things first. :)
Eliza Cross was my great-great-great-grandmother, and is one of the current terminal points in my tree. She was born in 1815, possibly in January, in either Arkansas or Texas. However, in light of the fact that Texas did not become a state until 1845 -- and she was not, by any account, of Mexican or Spanish decent -- I'm putting my money on Arkansas.
Genealogy Note: It's helpful to have a timeline of major national and state events when you're researching your tree. Sometimes that may help explain gaps -- and you won't spend your time chasing something that's not there because everyone was off fighting a war -- or it may help you determine whether a fact is credible or not.
Eliza is the grandmother of my "mysterious" great-grandfather, Garfield Cross. So even finding her was an exciting development. But what really blew my socks off was stumbling across this on Familysearch.org:
My great-great-great grandmother had a will? That was probated? In 1902?!?!? Even today, not a lot of black folks have wills, and I couldn't have imagined that in 1902 one of my ancestors would have one. That went through probate!
But before I got too exited, I knew I had to confirm that this was, indeed, my Eliza Cross. So I read on:
Well Calvert, Texas sounded right. That's where I found Alberta and Garfield's father (Garrison/Gaston) in 1880. I was again blown away by the fact that my g-g-g-grandmother owned personal AND real property! Valued at $300 (it's difficult to accurately compare to today's standards, but according to measuringworth.com this would be anywhere from $18k to $201k)!
The document itself was absolutely fascinating, from a historical perspective, but I still hadn't found anything to confirm that I had the correct Eliza....and then I found this:
Garfield Cross! MY great grandfather! It had to be him because in 1902, the population of Calvert, TX was only roughly 3,000 and I have found no other Garfield Crosses living there. Talk about a genealogy-nerd high! I nearly fell off my chair when I read this, and certainly shouted out and called every Cross that I knew! I don't know about other families, but finds like this have been few and far between for me. And this little piece of history still gives me chills.
After I got over my initial elation, I realized the treasure trove of information found in the document. It lists many of Eliza's (and my!) relatives: a daughter named Manda (Amanda?) Lucas, grandchildren named Mary Logan, Alberta Cross and Will Cross. More mysteries for me to tackle!
If you're interested, here's the full probate file.
And to think how excited I was to find this one, who would guess I would strike gold again! To be cont....