Friday, March 23, 2007

Rebecca, The Person Who Never Was

There was a little girl who never was. She had a name, a mother (we don’t know who her father was). She lived in her grandparents house with her brother, grandparents, a bunch of cousins, uncles, and aunts. However, she didn’t exist. We created her and later cast her aside…. Poof!

We made a wrong turn in our research. Thelma, an elderly distance cousin had a reputation for always being right on family research. She lived in Franklin, North Carolina. One time she told me where my ancestor William Trammell, Revolutionary War soldier, was buried, or by all logic he had to buried in the Franklin First Methodist Church in one certain grave but she could not read the marker. I drove up and we managed to read the marker, Thelma was right. As she always was.

When she told me that my great grandfather William Trammell/Hunter, had a younger sister, named Rebecca, the same as their mother I believed her. She had a good track record. I even found little Rebecca on the 1850 Macon County Census, and was related to the head of household, Jacob B. Trammell, as granddaughter.

Thelma also told me little Rebecca Trammell, when she grew up married Posey C. Wild’s son. Again, it appeared she knew what she was talking about, Posey had a daughter-in-law named Rebecca that was about the same age as Rebecca Trammell, William’s sister.

Another Trammell researcher told me that was wrong, the Rebecca that married Posey’s son was Rebecca Bryson. I humored them – sure it was, I said. Then I found a marriage record that showed Rebecca Bryson marrying J.M. Wild, December 6, 1866. Whoops! By this time Thelma was dead.

Then I thought, “Now what?” What happened to little Rebecca Trammell, William’s sister. Hours of researched show that William’s sister never existed. Little Rebecca Trammell on the 1850 census was the illegitimate daughter of Zilpha Trammell, who was the daughter of Jacob B. Trammell.

Click on the above to enlarge it to be able to read it.

The above is the top half of page 3 of Jacob B. Trammell’s estate papers when he died in 1860. It lists all his heirs. The above reads, “… his grandson, William Trammell, who represents his daughter Rebecca, deceased, of North Carolina…” It took me almost 30 years to realize that if William had a sister named Rebecca she would be mentioned here, probably as “his granddaughter, who represents his daughter Rebecca, deceased…” The real living granddaughter Rebecca Trammell, was not mentioned because her mother was alive, thus the heir stopper in that flow… make sense?

Rebecca Trammell, sister of William Hunter/Hunter Trammell never was.

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