Question: I am trying to find William Foxworth, who was married to Sallie Andrews in Wahee, Marion County, South Carolina. Sallie is listed in the 1880 census in Wahee as a widow with four children, William (or Willie), Annie E., Julius, and Bennie. In the 1880 census, Sallie and her daughter are listed as white, but Sallie’s sons are all mulatto. I am assuming that her husband must have been black and maybe even a former slave. I would like to find him. Willie, by the way, was my great-grandfather; I learned Willie’s parents’ names, William Foxworth and Sallie Andrews, from his death certificate. But I can’t find anything about the family in the 1870 census. Please help.
- Ronald H. Foxworth
Answer: You’re starting your search with a lot of great detail about Willie’s family but it may not all add up. And realize that while the information on Willie’s death certificate provides fantastic clues, the person who reported the information may have supplied incorrect information since that person likely wasn’t present at Willie’s birth. So I’ll take a different approach to see what else we can learn about the family.
I start by looking at the 1880 U.S. Federal Census that you referenced.
Sallie Foxworth (Andrews) is listed as age 33, born about 1847. The only child listed who would have been alive on the 1870 census is Willie, age 12, born about 1868. But I, too, can’t find the family in the 1870 census (FYI – the 1870 census has a reputation for missing people, especially in the southern states).
Moving forward to 1900, however, I can find Sallie with her son Bennie, still living in Wahee.
Both Sallie and Bennie are listed as “white,” and Sallie has four living children. If this is accurate, it suggests that the four children in the 1880 census are Sallie’s only children. I look for more information about Sallie in the 1910 census, but I can’t locate her. Sallie may have died sometime between 1900 and 1910, but this is just a guess.
Since I can’t find Willie in 1900, I turn to a different technique: I try tracking down his other brothers and sister to see if they can provide additional family information. In 1900, Julius is also living in Wahee, now with a wife and two children. His race is indicated as “black.” He also appears in 1910 in South Carolina and in North Carolina in 1920.
Julius died in North Carolina, which is where I locate his death certificate. The informant was Edward Foxworth, who was probably one of his sons.
Julius’s death certificate provides some clues: first, his parents are listed as Charlie Berry, born in Marion, South Carolina, and Sallie Foxworth, born in Florence, South Carolina. So maybe all of the children did not have the same father.
Next I search for William Foxworth in 1870, who, according to Willie’s death certificate, was his father. I find a good match in Wahee for William with a son named William. Even the ages are correct. But the mother is Margaret, not Sallie.
Moving forward to 1880, Margaret and William and son William are still living together, which seems to rule this family out since you found your great-grandfather Willie living with his mother Sallie in 1880.
What now? Your next step should be to search for obituaries between 1900 and 1910 for Sallie Foxworth in Marion County, South Carolina. Or if you know the denomination of the church they attended, look for all churches in Wahee of that faith and contact them about records they may have for the Foxworth family. This may be the best way to unravel more about the family mystery and finally discover Willie’s father’s name.