I’ve only ever known her as Nanny Ford, but wanted to know more about her. However, I was not expecting that searching her family would lead to more questions than answers. So, this post will mainly be a “here’s what I’ve found and how I found it” post. If any family members are reading this and know more information, PLEASE, PLEASE let me know!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
I started my search by digging through some things that my grandmother has (family Bible, pictures, etc.). The family Bible gave me Nanny Ford’s given name, birthdate, and birthplace. She was born Nellie Temple Williams on 11 August 1889 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas. She married Walter Ford in 1905. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited to learn that her maiden name was Williams, just because it is one of the most popular surnames in the world, which makes searching for those ancestors a bit more painstaking. But, I digress…
With this information, I hit the ground running.
I entered the information on http://www.ancestry.com, and found an Arkansas Births and Christenings database. This confirmed her birthdate and place, but it also gave me the names of her parents. Her father was listed as D. Williams and her mother was listed as Mattie Matlou. This record led me to a marriage record between an I.D. Williams and Mattie M. Matlock. These two were married 16 December 1886 (they applied for a marriage license 14 December 1886) in Logan County, Arkansas, which is not too far from Sebastian County (where Nellie was born). So, not sure if these were the parents of Nellie or not, I decided to follow their trail…just in case. With genealogy, you really can’t leave any stone unturned…
After searching for what seemed forever on these two (and by search, I mean, I searched not only their lives, but their parents and siblings), I finally had enough proof that these two were in fact, the parents of Nellie (but I’ll save that info for another post).
So, Nellie’s father was Isaac Demetrius Williams, and her mother was Mary M. Matlock (nicknamed Mattie). Once I determined this, I found Nellie in the 1900 Census for Rosalie, Red River County, Texas living with her grandfather, James Riley Williams, and step-grandmother, Margret. Finding this, I thought that maybe her parents had died, however, she reappears in the 1910 Census for Sebastian County, Arkansas with her dad, D. Williams, and her daughter, Willie Ford (which, by the way, Nellie was listed as widowed in this record, however, she most certainly was not…her husband was back in Marshall living with his parents, but was listed as married, however, no wife was with him. So…something happened there too…but what???).
Knowing that her dad had not died, I wondered if maybe her mother had been sick at the time the 1900 Census was taken, and that was why she was living with her grandfather–to prevent her from getting sick. However, I later learned that her mother had not died, but rather, had remarried. So, something must have happened between her parents. Due to the fact that her dad never remarried, I believe that her mother must have left them, but this is purely a speculation.
What threw me for a loop, was when I found an obituary for an Ethel Grace Williams Barnett. Her obituary said she was survived by a sister, “Mrs. Walter Ford of Marshall, Harrison County, Texas.” This means that Nellie had a sister, which meant I had another search on my hands. What I found from searching for Ethel, was that their mother, Mary Matlock, had remarried to an F A Graham. I found them in census records, and sure enough, I found Ethel with her mom and step-father.
***As an interesting little side note, Nellie’s sister, Ethel, first married a William Robert FENNELL. Nellie and Ethel’s uncle, Riley Constantine Williams, married an Alice FENNELL. Both Fennell’s were from Logan County, Arkansas. This made the connection to Nellie and Ethel, and the connection to the Williams’ and Fennell’s more impressive.***
So, it would seem that their dad got to take one daughter (Nellie, and maybe they left the choice up to her), and mom got to take the other daughter (Ethel, she would have still been a baby at the time of their separation…which makes sense why she went with mom).
Now, the questions I have for any family members who happen to be reading this are:
- What happened between Nanny and Pawpaw Ford that caused them to separate when Nanny Ainsworth was only 2-years-old?
- What happened between Nanny Ford’s parents? Does anyone know….or have any hint as to what might have happened???
- Did anyone know about Nanny Ford’s sister, Ethel? If so, do y’all know more about her?
- Does anyone have any information period that they would be willing to share?
“Arkansas Births and Christenings, 1812-1965,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQKR-7JV : accessed 23 November 2015), Nellie Williams, 11 Aug 1889; citing reference p-17; FHL microfilm 1,034,198.