Our Family History Story,
Part 7:

Finding Jennie

Our family history story continues, with the search for Jennie:

Joyce aka Genealogy Grandma writes,

After I found that my great-grandmother, Jennie Johnson, was born in Georgia, I searched in every county in the Georgia 1870 Census looking for her.

However, I had no luck.  I did not bother with the Georgia 1860 census because I believe she was a slave.  Therefore, she would not be listed in the 1860 free census schedule.  

The other census schedule available, is the slave schedule.  Without me having...

  • the slave owner’s name, 
  • nor a clue to Jennie’s date of birth, 
  • nor the county 
  • nor the city in which she lived, it will be almost impossible to find this family.

I know Jennie lived in Mississippi because her daughter--my grandmother--was born in Mississippi.  

I am going to assume that my great-grandmother also died in Mississippi. And it's possible that she died in the same town as her daughter. 

On that assumption and with an upcoming family reunion in Canton, MS, I will have an opportunity to do research at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, MS.  

I plan my trip with the intent to check my family history for a death record for Jennie.

Mississippi began keeping vital records in 1912 and if Jennie died prior to 1912, then I am out of luck.  If the family member died before 1912, then one would have to search for birth and death records in old family bibles, or other family collections. 

I have nothing to work with, other than a name, but I pray that I will find something tangible regarding my family history in the Archives.  

On the day I visit the Archives, I am fortunate that they are not too busy. My visit is in the month of August.  

An archivist tells me that July is a very busy month for family reunions.  As a result, the center is usually inundated with people researching their families.  

Because of my fortunate timing, the archivist has time to help and guide me through the search process of death and birth records. In no time at all, he finds her:  "JENNIE JOHNSON-ALLEN".

The informant on the certificate is my grandfather.  I am certain this is, in fact, the death certificate of my great-grandmother.

This is an emotional moment for me.  I am looking at records which I never considered before or even thought about.  Now here they are!  


In addition, what is also undeniably priceless is the name of Jennie’s mother, "Vinie Johnson".  I now know the name of my maternal great-great-grandmother…how cool is that?!

The death certificate reveals that Jennie Johnson Allen died 2 months before her daughter, Emma, on June 20, 1914.  

Jennie was 52-years-old, which means her date of birth was about 1862.  The document reads that she died of cancer of the womb and that she was married.

Jennie’s father name is listed as "unknown".

Although I am disappointed not to know his name, I am not too disturbed because I have seen this scenario before with my paternal great-grandfather’s death certificate.  That is, that his father is also listed as "unknown".  

With this new information, there is a small chance that I will be able to locate Jennie with her mother in Georgia.  If I can somehow connect the two of them together, that will be awesome.  

Still, I cannot make sense of why my mother said her grandmother's maiden name was "Sutton."

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