That name not familiar to you? How about Maggie Perdue? Maggie Perdue was my great grandmother. She was my brick wall in genealogy for over 40 years. I didn't know her birthdate, her parents -- zilch. She was married to my great grandfather, William Jesse Wright. She was his third wife. They had two daughters, Eliza and Cora. They lived in Letcher County, Kentucky. When Cora was very small her mother walked away to Virginia to her family and Cora never saw her again. The only tidbits I had were that years later Cora had seen her half-sisters, Maude and Myrl. I was told Maggie had married an Adams. She had another child, James, a barber, but he had died when his head was crushed by a train. Later, they told me the family was in West Virginia. Now I had two states to look in.
At our Mullins family reunion in 2007 I asked my aunt and all she said was her mother told her she could remember watching Maggie walk up the mountain and she never saw her again. She repeated the same information from above.
I got an email from a cousin who said, isn't it too bad that all we know is that Maggie lived in Logan, West Virginia. News to me. So I started googling. Now over the years I have googled, searched and gone through everything I could to find a trace of Maggie. I had placed ads in the Letcher County Historical Society book and the East Kentuckian magazine asking for information. At my great aunt Gertrude's funeral I was talking to a cousin who also did family tree. When I asked about Maggie, he turned from me and I literally never saw him again. It was so frustrating with people who knew her and probably what happened and they wouldn't talk.
Google found me a site that said West Virginia births, deaths and marriages were now being put online. It would show you the actual document. I had used this a year or more before with no luck. I tried Maggie Perdue, Purdue, Pardue, Wright, Adams and came up zilch. Then I put in for a death record of Adams M* (meaning anyone whose name starts with an M) and up pops a Maggie (why it didn't come up when I put in Maggie, I don't know). This Maggie is a widow who died at age 59 on October 20, 1929. Her parents are listed as W H Pardue and Sarah Hines. Hmmmmm I thiink. The information for the death certificate is provided by a Samuel Pardue.
Next I go searching for WH and Sarah and hit a listing on one of the genforums that finds a couple, W H T and Sarah Pardue, in Indiana with three children John, Abigail M and Cora. Hmmm, my grandmother's name was Cora, maybe this is the family and maybe there is another daughter. It says he is a physician and served in the Confederacy in North Carolina and was born in Pennsylvania. So I write the person and ask if they have found information since they posted in 2001.
Next, I think, well, if Maggie were a widow, then maybe I can find her husband John Q's death certificate. I query and Bingo! I get one, but it's for a 26 year old John Q who died June 3, 1929 in a car accident where his skull was crushed. And he is a barber. And his parents names are John Q Adams and Maggie Perdue. I find his marriage record, but can't find a birth record.
Then I find Maggies marriage record. It says she is a widow and so is John Q.
Then I think, aha, I can find the girls Maude and Mryl so I query births by Adams M* and the only birth in Logan county is for a Dosky Roe Adams. Her father is listed as John Q Adams and her mother is Abigail M. Adams. The attending physician is W H T Pardue. I am thrilled. I was right about my hunch on the Indiana family only instead of Maggie being a possible sister she is one of the three children.
I start looking for census records. I find John Q and Maggie in 1900 with Maude M and Margie M. It says she has had 4 births and all 4 are living (Eliza, Cora, Maude & Mryl)
Then I go for 1910 and put in John Adams again and now he is 6 years old so I have junior again. Maggie is listed as the wife of Isaiah Nelson with his daughter, Ethel, and his son, Donaldson and his stepchildren Maude, Murl, and John. This shows Maggie has had seven births and two children have died. (Eliza, Cora, Maude, Myrl, Dosky and John -- and one I have to look more for) I did find another birth but it had the mother as Maggie S. Adams and no fathers listed, so that one I just set aside.
I search and find a marriage record for Josiah Nelson, widower, and Maggie Adams, widow.
Then I check the 1920 census and find Maggie alone with 16 year old John. It lists her as a widow. For grins I try Isaiah Nelson and find Osiah Nelson is living with his son Donnelson. I also find Maude married to a Belcher who is a musician in an orchestra and Myrl married to Kenner Reader with 2 children.
I find marriages and some births for the Belchers and Readers. In 1930 of course, Maggie is gone but I find the Readers have a third child.
Then I start going backward and go to the 1860 census and put in W H Pardue for Pennsylvania, but what comes up is WH in North Carolina. Bingo... WH age 52 with wife AR, daughter M E and sons, WHT, RLD and JMJ. WHT is 20.
Next I search 1870 for William Pardue Indiana and hit William 29, wife Sarah 25, son Samuel 4 and Abigal 2.
I get curious about WHT's father and find he is still in North Carolina all by himself enumerated with a Gwynn family living as a farm laborer. I think his children are all on their own maybe leaving North Carolina like WHT did and that his wife, Abigail must have died. That is until I started searching down the other children and found that Abigail, the mother, is living with her son, Robert Pardue in Virginia. In 1880 both William and Abigail are living with Robert Pardue in South Carolina. William is a preacher.
Now most things I have seen list Maggie Pardue's mother, Sarah Hinds, as dying in 1873 or 1878, but I find William and Sarah in Millstone, Letcher County, Kentucky in 1880 with 5 more children. He is now 39 and she is 32 (you know how ages vary from one census to another) Samuel is 14, Abagale 12 and Corey A 9, Mary E. 4, Florinda 3, Elizabeth 1 and Sarah 3 months. I guess William could have married another Sarah, but I tend to think this is the same Sarah unless someone could show me a death certificate or something. But I think she dies not long after this census because WHT marries Hulda Plumber in 1881. He has several children with her (most are born in Virginia) and I have them all listed. I can't find a death certificate for Sarah Hinds in Indiana, Kentucky or Virginia.
The Wrights settled in Fish Pond which is about a mile from the Virginia line. I never knew where it was til I went to a Wright reunion some years back. I felt less sorry for Maggie when I knew she only had to walk a mile and be in Virginia. In the census for WHT he has Wrights for neighbors so I assume that is how Maggie and Jesse met.
Now I go back and search the 1900 census and I find WHT with Hulda. I search a LOT of other ways and things and find Hulda and WHT's children. I see that brother Sam went to West Virginia, too, and trace down his marriage record, children etc. I try to find if any other of the girls married in Kentucky but I strike out. I now feel like this Samuel is the one who provided the information for Maggie's death certificate.
I did all that in one night after hearing Logan. The records were just put online, so I was lucky.
I am not sure how I feel about Maggie now that I have found her. I don't know why she made the decision that she did or if it were hard for her to not look back at Cora when she walked away. She lost those girls and then later at least two other children then months before her death John Jr is killed in that horrible accident.
I don't know how I feel about WHT. I am wondering if he encouraged her to leave Jesse. The Pardues were in Kentucky, then Virginia and then went to West Virginia. Maggie put herself down as a widow and I doubt there was a real divorce. I wondered with her putting widow again in 1920 and the Nelson guy still alive if that was just her way to play things the way she wanted and even if John Q Adams had really died or was also somewhere else with another family. I never found a death certificate for John Q. Sr.
It was a rough time in the mountains when Maggie and Jesse were married. Jesse was a brother to Bad John Wright. He was the "law" there after the Civil War, but I think a lot of the law and deputies were just men who didn't want to put their guns down after the Civil War. There was feuding.
I called my aunt after I found all this. The story about meeting Maude and Mryl took a little different flavor this time. She said my grandmother, her mother, Cora, was the one who drove to Logan. I don't know how they kept in touch or knew anything, but it kind of made me sad that Cora had to be the one to reach out. My aunt caught my dad's hand in the door as they got out, but she couldn't remember how old he was. Since it was his hand, I called him and he said he was about 6 or 7. That would put it at 1931, 1932 after Maggie had died. Aunt Vera did say that "Aunt Mryl" came to visit her when she was a newlywed and living in West Virginia for a short time. She called her aunt and that was the second and last time that they saw any of the family.
Overall, I was glad to get the brick wall down, and I almost feel like I have finished my family tree. I know I will fill in things and I am just inputting it all into the computer so I have years of input to do, but no big gaps anymore.
Happy Birthday, Maggie.