Sunday, October 2, 2022

By George


The Messenger and Intelligencer

Wadesboro, North Carolina
10 Jan 1901, Thu  •  Page 3

For the past several weeks now, I've been cataloguing all of the Anson County Hildreths, attempting to connect the dots, making sense of the senseless and finding people who fell from the sky. 
In the course of that, and in conjunction with my attempt to go a generation beyond my second Great Grandfather, John Falkner, has revealed not only a possible, but a probable, biological connection to the Anson County Hildreths. In the course of this search, the above small paragraph from the 1901 newspaper, The Messenger and Intelligencer, from Wadesboro, NC, helped connect a lot of dots. 

The question at the forefront of my mind was, who was Mrs. Eliza Hildreth?  Having been 60 years old, certainly she was in the experimental tree already, somewhere. 

The article gives several hints, besides her name and age. First, she lived on the property of J T Pinkston near Wadesboro. Second, "Watt" Hildreth was her nephew, who lived a quarter mile from Pinkston. 

So my first step was to go to the 1900 census and find J T Pinkston in Wadesboro.

Luckily, I found John T Pinkston and family. Eliza was not living on his property in the summer of 1900. 

Next, I attempted to find an Eliza Hildreth nearby. I did not, but I did find the W. L. Hildreth family, whom I had already catalogued, as Walter L. Hildreth.  Walter, nickname Watt, I found the nephew!

Watt was listed just 2 households away from the Pinkstons. So who was Watt? Walter L. Hildreth, born about 1863, was the son of Elijah Hildreth and wife Ann Pilcher Hildreth. 

Elijah was part of the group of Hildreths who didn't show up in the 1850 census. 

He shows up first in 1860, in a family group I have referred to as the Mary Hildreth 1810 family group.
Mary, born about 1810, is listed as "Owner of Farm".
Living with her was Elizabeth, 28, Davis (or David), 24, Walter, 21, Mary, 15 and Thomas 11. In the next household is Berry Hildreth and wife Collin C Teal Hildreth and their daughter, Sarah. Then next is Elijah, Ann, and their older son, John Henry Hildreth. Walter has not been born yet. 

Four years later, Elijah would be one of thousands of men who would lose his life the Civil War. He died in 1864, a year after Walter was born. The older Walter L. Hildreth, shown in the 1860 census with Elijah, also died in the Civil War. It seems like Watt was his namesake. 

In 1880, the younger Walter is shown living with his grandparents, Henry and Sarah Pilcher. Also listed as their grandson was Shelton Falkner, son of James Coleman Falkner and Mary Virginia Hildreth Falkner.
Finally, we have Thomas Hildreth, an young adult man, listed as "Uncle", obviously not Henry Pilchers uncle, but of the two boys. 

So we harken back to the 'Martha 1810' family group again. There's Mary Virginia at 15, and Uncle Thomas as a child. He could be an Uncle of Shelton by being a brother of Mary Virginia, and an uncle of Walter by being a brother of Elijah.

So who was Watt's Aunt Eliza? There's Elizabeth, who seems to be a single woman and possibly a daughter of Mary. Berry's wife was Collin C. "Coley" and Walter died young and unmarried. So that leaves Davis/ David, who survived the War. Who did he marry?

David/Davis Hildreth is shown under both names in the records. I refer to him as Davis to differentiate him from all of his cousins, uncles, and Grandfathers, named David. 

He married Mary Elizabeth Gaddy, and as you can see from the above excerpt, from the 1870 census, she went by Eliza. The problem with the theory that she was the Eliza, is that neither of them made it to 1900, so not 1901 either. The Elizabeth at the bottom of the list in Davis's household would be the same Elizabeth in the 1860 ' Mary 1810' group. She seemed most likely to be his sister.

So, who was alive in 1900 Wadesboro that could have been "Aunt Eliza"? There was one candidate.

A divorced George Hildreth, 47, was living with his mother, Elizabeth, 65, in Lanesboro Township. He was a farmer, and they were renting the place.

George Hildreth[George T Hildreth]
Birth Date:Jul 1852
Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Home in 1900:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina
House Number:1
Sheet Number:19
Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation:353
Family Number:354
Relation to Head of House:Head
Marital Status:Divorced
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Mother's Name:Elizabeth Hildreth
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina, USA
Months Not Employed:0
Can Read:Yes
Can Write:Yes
Can Speak English:Yes
House Owned or Rented:Rent
Farm or House:F
Household MembersAgeRelationship
George Hildreth47Head
Elizabeth Hildreth65Mother

Could Elizabeth be our Eliza? And who exactly was Elizabeth? Better yet, who was George?

George Hildreth, born around 1850, was on my list of 'Hildreths who fell from the sky'. He appears first, first, as a middle-aged man living with his mother.

Name:George T Wilhrela[George T Hildreth]
Age in 1910:53
Birth Date:1857[1857]
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1910:Lanesboro, Anson, North Carolina, USA
Relation to Head of House:Watchman
Marital Status:Married
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Native Tongue:English
Industry:Chain Gang
Employer, Employee or Other:Wage Earner
Home Owned or Rented:Rent
Farm or House:House
Years Married:30
Out of Work:N
Number of Weeks Out of Work:0
Household MembersAgeRelationship
William A Gaddy70Head
Sarah A Gaddy67Wife
John F Riners51Son-in-law
Eugenia E Riners42Daughter
Floy E Riners0Granddaughter
Charlie W Peal20Grandson
Emeline Sturdivant50Servant
William Bailey22Servant
George T Wilhrela53Watchman
Fred T Flake25Nurse

Then 10 years later, he is boarding with a Gaddy family and working as a Watchman over a Chain Gang. Think prison guard. That's the last I had found so far on George T. Hildreth. He fades away into oblivian, no obituary, no cemetery record, no death certificate.

The one thing about folks who seeming appear out of nowhere in the records and just as quickly disappear, is that while the disappearance could naturally be presumed as death, anytime between year of birth and year of appearance, they were definately alive, somewhere, did they escape perseption?

As a second path to find out who Eliza Hildreth was, I just took her year of death and subtracted her age, and looked at who might fall in that age range in years prior, and came back with one person. Elizabeth, presumed sister of Davis Hildreth, who was in his home in 1870 and in the home of Mary Hildreth b. 1810, in 1860.

So I returned to the 1900 census in search of more clues. Elizabeth was said to be a widow who had been the mother of 3 children, with two living. Two, I thought, who was the other one besides George? Then I noticed the neighbor, just above them, Dorothea Pigg, where did I remember that name from? Then I noticed the neighbor above Dorothea, Shelton Falkner. Shelton Falkner!!!????

Then it all came together.

Shelton Falkner was the son of James Coleman Webster/ Falkner and Mary Virginia Hildreth Falkner. They were the subject of my recent post, "Falling Between The Cracks".

Shelton was living with Henry and Sarah  Pilcher in 1880, along with Walter L. Hildreth, son of Elijah and Ann Pilcher Hildreth, aka "Watt", Eliza's nephew mentioned in the leading newspaper clip, as was "Uncle" Thomas Hildreth. 

A forehead-smacking moment - George "T" Hildreth and Uncle Thomas Hildreth must have been one and the same. That must have been why Thomas disappears and George falls from the sky, when of course, he didn't.

There was something else. I have also been trying to pull apart all of the Hildreths of the same name to see if I could fit them where they belonged. This was one family who seemed to like to stick to a  small subset of names for their children.

As far as Thomases, the ones who lived in Anson County in the mid to late 1800's; I had the Thomas who lived with the Pilcher family; there was Thomas who married Ellen James; there was Thomas who married Ellen Moore, (yes, two Ellens) there was Thomas the son of an Elizabeth Carter, wife of Jackson Carter and then Thomas who married Celia Williams.

Thanks to Celia Williams application for a widow's pension, we know that her Thomas was Thomas O. Hildreth, born about 1822, who appears in the 1850 census.  At that time, he was an apprentice to Thomas M. Hamilton. He served in both the Mexican- American and Civil Wars, passing away at Elmira Prison in New York in 1865.

Thomas who married Ellen Moore lived until 1929 and had a death certificate, so we know he was the son of the above couple and his name was Thomas Hampton Hildreth.

Thomas who was the son of Elizabeth Carter appears only in one census with his mother.

Thomas who married Ellen James appears only in one census with his family.

Afterwards, it appears that she was a widow. But was she?

Cornelia Ellen James was born about 1847 or 1850. She was the daughter of Clarrisa "Clary" Teal James, who is listed above her in the 1870 census, shown above. Her father was a Mathew James, according to some, who died in 1839. Others who descend from her brother, William Chapman James, have their father as a Henry James. Whomever Clary was the widow of, she was widowed prior to the 1850 census. Above, she is 65, with Adeline,22, living with her and Thomas 20, and Ellen, 19, living next to her, with an infant daughter, Elizabeth. Hmm, Elizabeth.

ame:C. E. Hildreth
Birth Date:Abt 1847
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Gulledges, Anson, North Carolina, USA
House Number:57
Dwelling Number:386
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Widowed
Father's Birthplace:North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Occupation:Keeping House
Cannot Write:Yes
Household MembersAgeRelationship
C. E. Hildreth33Self (Head)
Eliza Hildreth10Daughter
William Hildreth8Son

In 1880, there is no Thomas, she's listed as 33 and claiming to be a widow. Her daughter is 10 and a son had been born 2 years after Eliza, William Hildreth, 8. She is living near her brother, William C. James.

Jump 20 years ahead and Ellen is now living with her adult son, William Hervey (Harvey?) Hildreth. The 1900 is one of the two censuses that tracked how many children a woman had given birth to, and how many had died, a tracking of child mortality, which was high. Ellen had given birth to 3, with only one living. Elizabeth had passed. 

In 1910, not much has changed, except William and Kate have increased their family. 

Cornelia Ellen James Hildreth died on  September 19, 1924  from chronic nephritis, a far too common ailment of the times. She was 77, and her father was named as Henry James, her mother named only by her maiden name, Teal. She was buried at Bethel United Methodist Church, near Wadesboro.

The only surviving child of Cornelia Ellen James Hildreth, William Hervey, passed away on September 27, 1931. He was only 59 and named his parents as George and Ellen Hildreth. George and Thomas, were indeed, one and the same.

From Find-a-Grave

Find-A-Grave includes a very informational obituary for W. H. Hildreth and a photo, seen above.

Mr. William H. Hildreth died on Sunday evening, September 27, 1931, at his home of long years standing on South Green Street in Wadesboro, NC. Mr. Hildreth was active and industrious until he suffered a stroke in 1927. This was followed later by a second stroke, which incapacitated him for any form of active work. In spite of this, he always did what he could at his home. Mr. Hildreth was born on February 17, 1872, near Bethel United Methodist Church, where his parents are now buried. He was the son of Thomas and Ellen James Hildreth. Mr. Hildreth was married on April 9, 1893 to Mary Katherine McQuage. Mr. Hildreth was survived by his devoted wife Mary Kate and four children: Mr. William F. Hildreth (Ruby) of Winston-Salem; George M. Hildreth (Mary) of Roanoke, Va; Mrs. J. W. Fisher of Lumberton and Mrs. J. O. Wingate of Wadesboro. Mrs. Wingate has seldom lived apart from her parents and her only child, Margaret has been the sunshine of their lives. Mr. Hildreth was long affiliated with Bethel Methodist Church in Wadesboro. The family wishes to thank the Reverend W. B. Davis, who was in charge of the burial service at the home on Monday afternoon. Many kind friends and relatives were in attendance. W. H. Carter, Frank Covington, W. B. Rose, Marvin Hendley, Hal Little and Henry Gray served as pallbearers. The interment followed on the eastern slope of our beautiful Eastview Cemetery, where his grave was covered with a profusion of autumn flowers, lavish in their color and design.

He was buried at Eastview Cemetery in Wadesboro. His obituary states that he was the son of Thomas and Ellen James Hildreth and that both of his parents were buried at Bethel United Methodist Church. No marker survives for either. 

In 1880, while living in the home of Henry Pilcher, George Thomas claimed to be married, but no wife was with him. 

In 1900, while living with his mother, he gave his marital status as Divorced.

In 1910, when asked how many times he'd been married, he answered 1, and length of first marriage was given as 30 years. 

Ellen just claimed to be a widow, too embarrassed, maybe, to answer as divorced or abandoned, whichever the case may have been. 

There was one more thing about Elizabeth, however. In her last census, she claimed to have 2 children living. Harkening back to the 1860 census, that child had to be Mary Virginia Hildreth Falkner. It did appear that Mary, at 60, was too old to be the mother of Mary, 15, and Thomas,  11. 

Mary V Hildreth Falkner lived long enough to have a death certificate.

In it, no name was given for a mother, but her father was named as "William". In Mary V's marriage record, no father was named, but her mother's name was given as ""Polly ". 

So, who, again, was Elizabeth? Was she Mary Elizabeth, called Polly when young? Instead of being a daughter of the parents in the Mary 1810 family group, was she perhaps, indeed, a daughter-in-law? Had there been a William Hildreth, son of one of the 1840 six sons of David Hildreth Sr. and wife, Ann Vickery Hildreth, who died before 1850, maybe with the group who served in the Mexican-American War? Was he mentioned, along with brothers and cousins, among the land records of the 1840's, yet I had missed him, assuming he was William, son of David, who married Nancy Covington? Only further digging will solve this mystery, if it can be solved at all. He certainly wasn't the only duplicately named Hildreth that people have gotten confused, or had  merged two people into one.

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