Today was a wonderful day! I found her. Louisa Wilks Justis.
No, she hasn’t been a mystery. In fact, she was one name given to me by my mother.
My mother, Mary Jane Moreland, was born to Shirley Justis and Bryce Moreland but when Mary Jane was 7 and her little brother was 5, their mother, Shirley, died of breast cancer. I can’t imagine the loss of my mother as a 7 year old. My heart was broken as a 26 year old as Mary Jane, my mother, died of ovarian cancer. (Sometime, I’ll post about our family BRCA gene.)
I easily obtained Shirley’s death certificate to find her mother’s name: Luisa Wilks and father’s name: Andrew Fuller Justis. I already knew these names but it still made my heart sing when I had the certificate from 1935 in my hands to read it myself. So Luisa or Louisa Wilks was never a mystery to me.
The puzzle surrounded her birth, her marriage, her death. Where was she from? When and where did she marry? When and where did she die…and why? Was she the BRCA carrier? Who were her parents?
She was my first real step into the world of genealogy. Without other people’s records being handed to me, I was faced with task to find her – all by myself.
And although I have uncovered many other folks in the journey, and have a pile of documents surrounding her, finding *her* documents has been elusive.
What I know today: She was born to William Francis Wilks and Mary Ann Hooper in 1863. She had 6 siblings: Henry Etta (Henrietta) Wilks, Samuel Wilks, Annie, William Francis Wilks, Lillian Wilks and Roy Wilks in Graves County, Kentucky. She died at the age of 31 after marrying Andrew Fuller Justis (in Tennessee or Kentucky – I haven’t found documents) and having 3 children: Samuel Wilks Justis, Mary Kate Justis and Shirley Justis.
I have only the 1870 census and the 1880 census with her listed with her parents in Graves County, Kentucky as documents to prove she existed. That and her name appearing on the death records of her three children. I pieced together where she lived by following her children’s documents which said they were born in Clinton (Hickman county), Kentucky.
Great Grandmother Louisa died only 4 years after my grandmother, Shirley Justis was born in Clinton, Kentucky in 1894. Did she die in Clinton? In 1900, her husband, Andrew Fuller Justis was living in Paragould, Arkansas with another wife: Marie. Off I went to find a marriage license issued in Arkansas to Marie A. Price and A.F. Justis with the groom’s residence in Dyer, Tennessee. Is that where Louisa died? By the 1920 census, Andrew F Justis was divorced and living in Paragould with 2 of his children: Samuel Wilks Justis is married to Laura Allen and Shirley is single, teaching at a private school (a fun discovery as Shirley’s daughter, Mary Jane, was a wonderful First grade teacher her entire life). His other daughter, Mary Kate Justis, is married and off on her own adventure.
Going backwards, I began to look closer at Louisa’s parents in Graves county, Kentucky. I discovered her father’s death record by way of a probated will of 1902, mentioning his children and grand-children (including my grandmother!) but not his wife, a clue to me that she predeceased him. Online I found dates but no documents to provide proof. So I kept hunting and looking at other family members, finding siblings birth, marriage, death documents, following their children. I knew he died near Dublin, Kentucky – a town outside Mayfield, Ky. He was not listed in any online indexes for burial.
And. Then. Today.
Someone – precious someone – added the Dublin Baptist Church cemetery to Findagrave – and there she was! Louisa Wilks Justis was buried in this cemetery along with her parents. Both of them! Her father buried in 1902. Her mother – in 1893, a year before Louisa in 1894.
She is there, with her unmarried sister Henry Etta Wilks – (Henrietta) and other family members. Not far away in Mayfield at the other siblings. They didn’t stray far.
I called the public library in Mayfield, Ky today to ask about obituaries. I’m now awaiting someone’s kind gesture to find them – if they exist – and send them. I’m hoping there is more information about their deaths. I’ve asked FAG for photos of markers – if they exist.
Did Louisa die of breast cancer? Did her mother die of ovarian cancer? I hope to find out more about her life – as she is near the top of my Mother tree.
Thank you to those genealogists around the country who maintain names online for findagrave. Thank you to the public library genealogists who work to preserve county histories. You are wonderful and I appreciate you!
This part of the tree:
Louisa Wilks married Andrew Fuller Justis
Samuel Wilks Justis m. Laura Allen, (no children)
Mary Kate Justis m1. Calvin Self (children: James Self, Calvin Self) m2 Joseph J Allen (child Joe Allen),
Shirley Justis m. Bryce Moreland (children: Mary Jane Moreland, Bryce Charles Moreland Jr.)
Other tidbits to add: I tested my MTDNA and found my haplogroup: H1au1a so the above line: Mary Jane Moreland, Shirley Justis, Louisa Wilks and Mary Ann Hooper are also H1au1a.