#52Ancestors: Celedonia Robledo, Discovering Another Mexico-Born Sister for My Grandfather

1913 Birth Record for Celedenia Robledo
Two folios from the digitized civil birth registration volume for 1913, in the municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí. The entry for Celedonia Robledo begins on the bottom left and carries over to the top of the next folio. Available on FamilySearch.1
My 32nd entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still quite behind on the challenge due to a summer school course.

My 32nd ancestor is my great-aunt Celedonia Robledo (b. 1913).

A few weeks ago, while strategically perusing through Mexico Civil Birth Registrations for as-yet-unfound birth records for the two children born to my great-grandparents when the family still lived in Mexico, I made an unexpected discovery. I came across the birth registration for a third child born in Mexico–a daughter named Celedonia Robledo. This is not a name known to the living descendants of my great-grandparents. This is not a name that I have come across in any of their U.S. records.

My great-grandparents Jose Robledo (1875-1937 ) and Maria Hermalinda Nieto (1887-1974 ) apparently gave birth to Celedonia Robledo on 3 March 1913.2 This daughter was born in between oldest daughter Guadalupe (b. 1910) and oldest son Refugio Rafael (b. 1915), two years and seven months before the young family immigrated to the United States.

[contentblock id=64 img=html.png]

The Birth Record

Although generally not as rich in genealogical information as Mexico Catholic church records, civil registration records do also provide highly valuable information and clues.

Research Tip
Mexico Civil Registration

The civil registration system in Mexico is mandated, requiring that all births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones) be reported to local authorities. The system began in 1859-1860, but was not strictly enforced until 1867.3, 4

The Original Record

The birth register entry for my great-aunt Celedonia is handwritten across two folios. The beginning of the entry is on the back (or recto) of folio 23, and the end is on the front (or verso) of folio 24 (see image at the top of this post). For ease of reading and translation, I cropped each section to display a larger image and merged them together below.

1913 Birth Record for Celedenia Robledo
A closer look at the 1913 civil birth registration for my great aunt Celedonia Robledo, available on FamilySearch. Because the entry spans two folios, I cropped them together for ease of reading.5


I have mentioned before that I do not speak Spanish, and my reading ability is rudimentary. I can make out the basic details of these types of records, but I risk missing important information relying on just my own reading ability. So I again enlisted the help of my Spanish-fluent father in translating the birth record for the aunt he never knew about.

In the village of Armadillo on the 6th day of March, 1913, in my presence, Nerusio Maldonado, judge of the civil state of this village, Cinto Oruelas, single 25 years of age, a resident of Temescal, appeared to report the live birth of a girl on the 3rd of this month at 8 AM and was named Celedonia Robledo the legal daughter of Jose Robledo, married age 32 and his spouse Maria Nieto, married age 24. The fraternal [paternal] parents [grandparents] are Silverio Robledo and Jesus Sanchez, both deceased, and maternal parents [grandparents] are Refugio Nieto, deceased, and Aurelia Compeon, alive. Feliciano Ramires witnessed this report. This report was read to the interested persons by me, Nerusio Maldonado.6

It turns out that my rudimentary translation skills did indeed miss important information…the reference to the actual date of birth! I only caught the birth registration date. Score Dad!


What genealogical information does this record tell us?

  • A female child was born on 3 March 1913 at 8:00am. The birth was reported on 6 March.
  • She was likely born in the village of Temescal, municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí, since that is the village where the informant resided.
  • She was the legitimate daughter of Jose Robledo (32 yeas old) and his wife Maria Nieto (age 24).
  • Paternal grandparents, both deceased, were Silverio Robledo and Jesus Sanchez.
  • Maternal grandfather, deceased, was Refugio Nieto. Maternal grandmother, still living, is Aurelia Compean.

What doesn’t this record tell us?

  • Who is the informant, Cinto Oruelas? A friend or neighbor of the parents? Or a relative? He is a lead worth investigating.

Next Steps

What comes next in learning about Celedonia?

  • Because I have not come across this child’s name in the family’s immigration records or any other U.S. records, I have to assume she died before the family left Mexico. This means looking for Mexico death records–both civil registration and church sacrament registers. This step should answer the research question: Why didn’t Celedonia immigrate to the U.S. with her parents and siblings in 1915?
  • I also want to look for a Catholic baptism record for Celedonia in Mexico, because those records can provide additional genealogical clues about her ancestors.


#52Ancestors: 2nd Great-Grandfather William Sanford Fields Imprisoned for Rape in 1898 Texas

My 31st entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still quite behind on the challenge due to  a summer school course.

My 31st ancestor is my husband Jeff’s 2nd Great-Grandfather William Sanford “W.S.” Fields (1868-1945).

There is nothing enjoyable in telling this particular story, but it confirms information that my husband’s cousins and I have been trying to learn.

Information Baseline

In conversations I have had with my husband’s cousins, and in notes I have found on public Ancestry Member Trees, I was made aware that 2nd Great-Grandfather William Sanford Fields went to jail for rape when his youngest daughter–my husband’s Great-Grandmother Laura Mae Fields (1896-1933)–was very young. Our branches of the family never knew him and never saw him after he got out of prison, and Laura Mae’s daughter’s would not talk about the event when younger more removed generations asked about the incident.1

Fields Family 1900 US Census Texas
The Fields family on the 1900 U.S. census in McLennan County, Texas. 2
If you recall from a post I wrote last week that analyzed Great-Grandmother Laura Mae Fields on the 1900 federal census, Laura Mae (age 3) is living with her mother Dollie (age 25), brother Julius (age 9), and sister Clara B. (age 5) in Justice Precinct 1, McLennan County, Texas. No father lives with them, and mother Dollie is identified as widowed.3 I mentioned in that post that Dollie was not widowed, but that I would discuss that in a later post.

This is that later post.

Chronology of Events

The documentation investigated here was analyzed to answer the research question: “Was William Sanford Fields, father of Julius Fields and great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields, sent to jail for committing rape?”

The Rape

“On or about” 1 April 1897, William Sanford Fields (age 29) raped Alice Requardt, who was not yet 15 years of age. A public domain digitized law report available on Google Books provides very thorough details about the crime.4

The rape victim was newly married to husband Fritz Requardt, and the couple lived at the home of my husband’s 2nd Great-Grandparents William Sanford Fields and Dollie [?] Fields [in McLennan County, Texas]. While Dollie Fields–who I assume took their three young children with her–was away in Waco, McLennan County, Texas, caring for her sick sister, and the victim’s husband was away on business in Waco, W.S. Fields sexually assaulted Alice Requardt. The victim reported the attack to her husband when he returned. After they fled to her father’s home, her father reported the rape to authorities.5

William Sanford Fields Texas Reporter 1900
The rape account is on page 489 of the reporter.6

Conviction & Sentencing

On 12 January 1898, William Sanford Fields was convicted of criminal assaulted in Waco, McLennan County, Texas. He was sentenced on the same day to 5 years in the penitentiary. A brief announcement appeared that day in the Austin (Texas) Weekly Statesman.7

William Sanford Fields - Austin Weekly Statesman Jan 20 1898
Announcement in the Austin (Texas) Weekly Statesman, 20 January 1898.8

The Appeal

W.S. Fields appealed his sentence, with the appeal making its way up to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On 25 June 1898, the appeal was overruled. The same digitized law report is actually a report on the appeal, not the original case. But it provides details about the original case, which I discussed above.

In Fields v. The State, we see 2nd Great-Grandfather W.S. Fields and his lawyers filing an appeal against the original case verdict, on a technicality. They argued that the Texas statute uses the term “carnal knowledge” in its definition of rape, yet the indictment failed to use that full term, and instead stated that the defendant “did then and there ravish and have carnal [the term “knowledge is not included here] of the said A.R.” Therefore, the charge was erroneous. But the appellate judge ruled the indictment was sufficient.9

The appeal also tried to impeach the credibility of the victim’s husband as a witness [witness of her age], claiming the witness was a bigamist still married to another woman. The appellate court ruled that no such impeachment could take place since the witness had never been indicted for bigamy.9

Doing Time


According to prison records, W.S. Fields was admitted to the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas on 13 November 1898, with a sentence of five years. Slightly less than one year later, on 9 October 1999, he was punished for laziness.11

William Sanford Fields, Texas Convict Register
Prison record for W.S. Fields.12

Convict Camps

The 1900 U.S. census shows W.S. Fields enumerated 2 July 1900 in Colorado County, Texas, at an institution named Convict Camp No. 2.He is described as married (for 13 years, calculating out to about an 1887 marriage date), 32 years of age (born February 1868), and working as a farm laborer.13

William Sanford Fields, 1900 US Census
W.S. Fields on the 1900 U.S. census. Click on the image for a larger view.14
At first glance, this census record makes perfect sense–W.S. Fields is identified as a prisoner. But the location threw me off. Colorado County? Convict Camp No. 2? The prison convict register clearly notes that he was a prisoner at Huntsville State Penitentiary from 1898 until 1902. Huntsville prison is located in Walker County, not Colorado County.

1900 US Census, Convict Camp 1
A closer look at the Convict Camp No. 2 designation on Fields’ 1900 U.S. census page.14
I decided to do some further research on this convict camp in Colorado County. Which lead me to a blog post by Legal Genealogist Judy Russell. I immediately suspected that Judy must have written a general post about interpreting prison records that just happened to reference Colorado County. Reading her post, I nearly jumped for joy. Judy had written about Convict Camp No. 1 in Justice Precinct 8, Colorado County, where her great-grandfather Jasper Carlton Robertson worked as a prison guard when enumerated on the 1900 U.S. census.16
However Judy describes her great-grandfather’s place of work as Dunovant’s Camp No. 1.

William Dunovant was one of the biggest landowners in all of Colorado County, Texas, around the time when Jasper was a prison guard — and he hired convict labor to work on his sugar and rice plantations.”17

Same census, same county, same precinct as my W.S. Fields. Different convict camps.

So these were convict labor camps, run by private individuals. Texas operated a convict lease system from 1867 to 1912, that leased penitentiary prisoners out as labor.18

Time to take a closer look at the 1900 federal census record for my W.S. Fields, flipping back and forth to the page preceding and following his census entry. The page after the one that records Fields provides a more complete name of the institution where Fields was living and enumerated–Dunovant’s Convict Camp No. 2. Dunovant. Just like in Judy’s blog post.

1900 US Census, Convict Camp 1
Header of the page following the one on which Fields was enumerated in the 1900 U.S. census.19
This observation–missed the first handful of times I looked at the census record for W.S. Fields–prompted me to revisit his convict register record. Bingo. There it was all along. It just didn’t mean anything to me until I read Judy’s blog post.

William Sanford Fields Convict Camps
A closer look at the Location column on the prison register entry for Fields.12
Noted under the Location column are two sets of names and dates, indicating the convict campus to which 2nd Great-Grandfather William Sanford Fields was leased out while doing time in the state penitentiary:

  • Burleson & John’s: Dated 13 November 1898. This is likely the day he was first leased out. Burleson & John’s Farm was a convict camp located in Hill County, Texas.
  • Dunovant’s: Dated 28 October 1899. This also is likely the day he was leased out to this camp. We know that he was there at least through 2 July 1900, the date he was enumerated on the federal census.

When I made the connection between my husband’s ancestor and Judy’s ancestor, I hit her up on Facebook, joking that she and my husband are now Texas Prison System Kin. Judy and I chatted more about the coincidence. She informed me that her great-grandfather “Jasper was a guard at Dunovant Camp 2 in the late spring and summer of 1899.”21 Might Judy’s great-grandfather have been a guard at the very convict labor camp where my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather was imprisoned as a farm laborer? Might Judy’s ancestor have been the one who punished William Sanford Fields for laziness, as noted on Fields’ convict register entry? Nope. Her Jasper only worked at Camp 2 until the summer of 1899. My W.S. Fields was not leased out to that same camp until October of 1899.


Fields was discharged on 28 October 1902, in the penitentiary for less than his 5-year sentence, but perhaps the time spent in jail during his appeal process was counted towards his sentence.22

Impact on the Family

His youngest daughter–my husband’s Great-Grandmother Laura Mae Fields– was only 15-months-old when her father was convicted and sentenced. She was 2-years-old when her father was sent to Huntsville, and 6-years-old when he was released. I have no evidence to support that Laura Mae ever saw her father after the rape and trial.

Son Julius–who we discussed last week, when we found 13-year-old Laura Mae living with him and his new wife on the 1910 U.S. census–was thrust into the role of “man of the family” at a very young age.23 He would have only been about 6-1/2 years old when his father was convicted and sentenced, and age 7 when his father went to prison.

Going back to that 1900 federal census record for the family, we can see that the family lived in the same county in which the initial charges were filed for the April 1897 rape and the January 1898 trial was held. I cannot tell from the evidence if William Sanford’s wife and children lived still, in 1900, in the very house where the crime took place. Wife Dollie must have felt intense anger towards her husband and shame. It had to be very difficult for her to hold her head up in their community, to shield her very young children from town gossip, and to provide for her three children (remember…the 1900 census shows no one in the family as working).24

It is no wonder that Dollie chose to identify herself as a widow (her husband identifies himself as married), since she was the likely informant, on that 1900 census. I find no evidence that she and husband William Sanford ever received a divorce. Dollie apparently considered her husband dead to her and the children.

[contentblock id=63 img=html.png]

Next Steps?

The information from these records sufficiently answers my current research question. But there is still a lot more work to do on my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather William Sanford Fields.

  • Begin documenting and piecing together the rest of Fields’ life story.
  • Locate a possible marriage record for William Sanford Fields and wife Dollie, as I still do not have documented evidence of their marriage, and this will likely provide me with Dollie’s maiden name as well, so that I can continue researching her line.


Sorry, EE citation purists. This footnote plugin does not place nicely with more than one “Ibid” reference or with [brackets].

#52Ancestors: Finally Finding a Death Certificate and Obituary for Great-Grandmother Laura Mae (Fields) Pace

My 30th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still quite behind on the challenge due to  a summer school course.

My 30th ancestor is my husband Jeff’s great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields (1896-1933). She married great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace (d. 1961), and was the mother of Jeff’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000) as well as nine younger Pace siblings.

I have discussed Laura Mae in this latest series of blog posts, first in the analysis I did of the family’s 1930 U.S. census record, next I pointed out how Laura Mae was missing from the family’s 1940 U.s. census record, and then in the post about the death of her 15 year old daughter Clara Irene Pace in 1933 from meningitis. In the post about Irene, we learned that Laura Mae died shortly before Irene from the same disease.

Striking Gold with an Obituary

A couple days after discovering Irene’s death notice in their local rural Texas newspaper, I was thrilled to find an obituary for Laura Mae in the same paper!

This obituary confirms what Irene’s death notice mentioned about the death of Laura Mae.1 It is the first record I have ever come across that gives a death date for her, and it is the first record I have found that provides a birth date, birth location, and any details whatsoever about my husband’s great-grandmother. Mother and daughter were admitted to the hospital the same day, with daughter Irene improving some (we learned she ended up dying a short time later). Laura Mae was buried the afternoon of her death, in the same cemetery where Irene would later be interred–at Whitharral Cemetery, in Whitharral, Hockley County, Texas.2

Courtesy of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.3
According to the obituary published in the Lamb County (Texas) Leader on 23 February 1933, Laura May [Mae] Pace died the Tuesday prior, which would have been 21 February 1933. She died, like her daughter Irene, of cerebral-spinal meningitis in the nearest hospital, the Lubbock Sanitarium, located in Lubbock, Lubbock County, Texas.

What new clues can we glean from this record?

  • The family lived in the Valley Gin community.
  • Someone (Laura Mae? Andrew Jackson? Doctors?) attributed the meningitis to recent flu attacks experienced by Laura Mae.
  • We now have a birth date and place for Laura Mae (8 October 1896 in Van Zandt County, Texas), and know that she has two siblings. Although the date reported or calculated for Laura Mae is incorrect. Based on her birth and death dates, she was 36 years old, not yet 37 years old.
  • Husband Andrew Jackson (the likely informant) provides their marriage date and place, 24 November 1912 in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas.
  • In 1913, Laura Mae joined, was baptized by, or was saved by the Baptist church in Donohue [Donohoe], Bell County, Texas. Donohoe is a now abandoned community that used to be located “on Donahoe Creek sixteen miles southeast of Belton in the southeastern corner of Bell County”, with a Baptist church that closed in the 1950s4
  • All ten children are attributed to Laura Mae as their mother. If you recall, I have not found birth records for all of the Pace children.

One Find Leads to Another

Armed finally (after years of looking) for an exact date of death, I immediately looked at death certificates for 21 February 1933 in the county of Lubbock. Bingo. There it was….in no way identifying Laura Mae Fields by name. Her death and identity were recorded simply as Mrs. A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace.5 Which is why I could never find a death record when searching for variations of the name Laura Mae, or cross-referencing the search under the spouse name of Andrew Jackson, since her husband is indexed and identified just by initials. I should have looked for records under the broadest possible search…just by the surname of Pace.

Laura Mae Fields Death 1933
Death certificate for Laura Mae (Fields) Pace, recorded as Mrs. A.J. Pace.[Ibid.]
The death certificate corroborates what was reported in the obituary, but then husband Andrew Jackson was the likely the informant for both records–the death record clearly identifies him as its informant. The death date, cause of death, burial date and location, undertaker name and location, and Laura Mae’s birth date are all in agreement with the obituary.37

What new information do we learn from this record?

  • Daughter Irene was admitted to the hospital a few days before her mother. Irene was admitted 15 February 1933; Laura Mae on 18 February 1933. The obituary is incorrect in reporting they were admitted on the same day.
  • Laura Mae’s father had the surname Fields, according to husband Andrew Jackson, but A.J. apparently did not know the given name of Laura Mae’s father, the name of her mother, or the birthplace of either of her parents.

[contentblock id=61 img=html.png]


Laura Mae Fields and her second oldest daughter Clara Irene Pace were buried in Whitharral Cemetery, Hockley County, Texas, near their family farm.8, 9 It is a tiny little rural cemetery, that one would miss if one blinked driving down the country road.

No other members of the Pace/Fields family are buried here, indicating the surviving family members moved out of the area before A.J. or the other children died.

Pace Whitharral Cemetery
Google Earth view of where Whitharral Cemetery is located in relation to the town.
Pace Whitharral Cemetery
A Google Earth Street View look at the entrance to Whitharral Cemetery, looking north from Kansas Avenue.

Where to Go from Here?

It feels so satisfying to finally get somewhere with the research about my husband’s great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields, however there is still much work to do.

A Lingering Unanswered Question

In the post I wrote about daughter Irene’s death, I asked the question, how did Irene and her mother contract meningitis? That question cannot be sufficiently answered from the newfound documents for Laura Mae and Irene, but Laura Mae’s obituary does mention the meningitis resulting from a series of recent flu attacks.

My husband’s cousins share a family story about how Laura Mae and Irene caught this horrible disease. “The family story was that Laura May and Irene went to help another family with the same illness. That family survived, but they both didn’t.”10

Next Steps

These newfound records for Laura Mae Fields provide information items that now set me on a more firm path towards researching her birth, childhood, and family life prior to marriage. These tasks will hopefully answer these research questions about Laura Mae, as well as how she and daughter Irene contracted such a horrible disease.

  1. Try to find a marriage record for Laura Mae Fields and Andrew Jackson Pace.
  2. Try to find a birth record for Laura Mae Fields.
  3. Investigate if the local Baptist church records were transferred anywhere after its closure in the 1950s. There may be records referencing the Pace/Fields family.
  4. Look through the Lamb County (Texas) Leader from 1932-33 for references to any other reported instances of meningitis or flu outbreaks in the area.


#52Ancestors: Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace Tragically Taken by Meningitis at 15 Years Old

My 29th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week. However with this post, I start deviating from the themes. I need to spend what little research and writing time I have now on my priority research projects.

My 29th ancestor is my husband’s Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace (1917-1933). Clara Irene, who went just by Irene, was the sister of my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace.

About Clara Irene Pace

I have mentioned Irene in my last two posts about this family, first profiling Grandpa Roy and the family in the 1930 U.S. census, and then tracing the Pace siblings in the 1940 U.S. census. Irene was the only Pace sibling absent from the 1940 census, because she had died by that time, although that information cannot be inferred from the census.

Birth Date & Place

Irene Pace was born 24 September 1917 in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas to Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae “May” Fields. Clara Irene is the oldest child of theirs for whom I have found a birth certificate.1

Clara Irene Pace, Birth 1917
Birth certificate for Clara Irene Pace, 1917.2
This birth certificate tells us that Irene, a female, was the third child born to this mother, all of whom were still living. The first child would be Grandpa Roy, the second is the oldest daughter Dollie. Parents A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace (40 years old, born in Alabama) and [Laura Mae] May Fields (21 years old, born in Texas) were both white and lived in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas. Roy worked as a farmer, May as a housewife.

Do you notice what this birth certificate does not tell us about Irene?…her name. The name of the child was left completely blank. It is quite possible that Andrew Jackson and Laura Mae had not yet decided upon a name when this baby girl was born–I find the similar situation on other birth records for the family.

So how do I know this is Irene? I won’t go into the full proof argument here, but the date of birth is identical to the one listed on Irene’s death certificate (her father was the informant).3 The 1917 birth year is in agreement with the estimated birth year (1918) on the 1930 U.S. census, as is the birth order (the third child) and the gender (female).4

Unfortunately, I do not find an amended birth certificate reflecting a later filed name correction.


Irene grew up in a farming family, who seemed to move around quite a bit. Born and initially raised in northeastern Texas, the family up and moved across the state to the northwestern part of Texas sometime between 1924 and 1928.

Texas counties in which Clara Irene Pace lived. Adapted from a public domain United States Census Bureau Image.5

Hunt County, Texas

Father Andrew Jackson Pace registered at age 42 for the World War I draft, on 12 September 1918 in Wolfe City, Hunt County, Texas. His draft registration card lists wife Laura Mae as his nearest relative, with the family living in nearby Campbell, Hunt County, Texas. 6 Campbell is located in eastern Texas, about 60 miles northeast of where Irene was born in Mesquite. Irene would have been just under one-year of age at this time.

Younger brother Genoa “Leo” Jackson’s 1924 birth certificate provides evidence that family still resided in Campbell, Hunt County, Texas when little Irene was six years old–although Leo was actually born in the bigger city of Commerce. Andrew Jackson continued to farm, and Laura Mae continued to keep house.7

Lamb County, Texas

By the time brother Earnest Ladell Pace (who went by Ladell, then later by Dale) was born in 1928, the family had moved to Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, when Irene was 11 years old. This brought the total number of siblings to eight. Ladell’s birth certificate confirms that Laura Mae had given birth to eight children, all of whom were still living. Andrew Jackson continued farming; Laura Mae continued keeping house.8 Littlefield is approximtely 415 miles west and slightly north of Campbell.

Hockley County, Texas

On 14 April 1930, the family of ten was enumerated on the 1930 U.S. census, living in Justice Precinct 6, Hockley County, Texas. They lived on a rented farm. Father Andrew Jackson worked as farmer, and mother Laura May “May” kept house. Irene (at 12 years old), is noted as attending school, as are her older brother Roy, older sister Dollie, and younger brother Huland.9

The family was living in either Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas again or Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, when brother Charles Wayne Pace was born in 1931. It is unclear which was the actual location of residence, although it is clear that Wayne was born in Levelland. Wayne’s original birth certificate claims the family lived in Littlefield, but an amended birth certificate filed in 1942 by father Andrew Jackson Pace in Hockley County says the family lived in Levelland at the time of the birth. The amended certificate indicates that Andrew Jackson was farming on his own farm by 1931.10, 11 Levelland is 24 miles due south of Littlefield.

In the 2014 obituary for Irene’s older sister Dollie, this area around southern Lamb County and northern Hockley County is referred to as “the Oklahoma Flats,” where the family farmed. The area is described as near Littlefield, but Dollie–and I assume her school age siblings, like Irene–attended school in Whitharral, Texas, an unincorporated community in Hockley County.12

A Horrible Illness

On 2 March 1933, the local paper–the (Littlefield) Lamb County Leader–printed a very brief update in its Personals column on page 2, advising that “Miss Irene Pace, who has been confined to the Lubbock Sanitarium for the past two weeks with meningitis, is much better, and has returned home.”13

Irene Pace Notice 1933
This is not how the original article appears. I have Photoshopped together the newspaper’s front page banner with the page 2 Personals brief about Irene.2
What does this news brief tell us about Irene?

  • She and her family, by 2 March 1933, lived near Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas.
  • Irene was admitted mid-February to the Lubbock Sanitarium due to meningitis.
  • By 2 March 1933, she experienced a significant enough recovery to be sent home.


Despite what appeared to be a strong enough recovery for Irene to go home, her condition took a fatal turn for the worse within a couple of weeks. Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace died on 19 March 1933, at the young age of 15 years, 5 months, and 28 days. The local Lamb County Leader newspaper reports on Irene’s death and funeral services. She died in the hospital, so it appears she had to return when her condition turned for the worse. A funeral took place in the local school auditorium in Whitharral, and she was buried in Whitharral Cemetery.15 Lubbock Sanitarium was the first hospital in the city of Lubbock, Lubbock County Texas.16

Irene Pace Death Notice 1933
This is not how the original article appears. I have Photoshopped together the newspaper’s front page banner with the article on page 6.17
Towards the bottom of the newspaper article, we can see that Irene’s mother, Laura Mae Fields, had been hospitalized the same day as Irene for the same illness, but died earlier on 21 February 1933.2

The death certificate for Clara Irene Pace confirms the aforementioned date, place, and cause of Irene’s death.

Clara Irene Pace 1933 Death Certificate
Death certificate for Clara Irene Pace.19
What additional information does this death certificate tell us about Irene and her family?

  • Irene was still a student when she died, and she was single.
  • She had been in the hospital since 15 February 1933.
  • Her father A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace–born in Alabama, now living in Littlefield, Texas–served as the informant.
  • Her mother May [Laura Mae] Fields had been born in Van Zandt [County], Texas, according to Irene’s father.
  • Her father reported that Irene had been born in Dallas County, Texas.
  • Irene was buried on 30 March 1933 in Whitharral, Texas.

[contentblock id=62 img=html.png]

Cause of Death

Irene Pace’s death certificate reports cerebral-spinal meningitis as the principal cause of death, with an abscess of the brain being a contributing factor. Meningitis is something we hear about every so often still in the U.S. (with current outbreaks still happening), but of which I know nothing. So I did some quick research on the causes of Irene’s early death.

Spinal Meningitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a description about the disease and its possible causes.

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.20

Brain Abscess

Irene also suffered from an abscess of the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “A brain abscess is a collection of pus, immune cells, and other material in the brain, usually from a bacterial or fungal infection.”21 The NIH classifies a brain abscess as a medical emergency, and describes, “meningitis that is severe and life threatening” as one of its possible complications.2


Irene’s death certificate states that she was buried 20 March 1933 in Whitharral, Hockley County, Texas, and that Hamman’s Funeral home in nearby Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas served as undertakers.19 The newspaper article reporting her death specifies Whitharral Cemetery as the place of internment.17 Find A Grave also has an entry for Irene at Whitharral Cemetery, although it is missing specific dates for birth and death.25

Pace Whitharral Cemetery
Google Earth view of where Whitharral Cemetery is located in relation to the town.
Pace Whitharral Cemetery
A Google Earth Street View look at the entrance to Whitharral Cemetery, looking north from Kansas Avenue.

Next Steps

How did Irene and her mother contract meningitis?


#52Ancestors: Hoping to Find the Birth Record for Grandfather Roy Delmar Pace on My Upcoming Texas Road Trip

Roy Delmar Pace, 1930sMy 28th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 28 is – Road Trip: Any epic “road trips” in your family tree? Which ancestor do you want to take a road trip to go research?

I am still quite behind on this blog challenge due to a very busy summer school class.

My 28th ancestor is husband Jeff’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000).

Roy is allegedly the 3rd great-grandson of William Pace (1745-1815), the Pace who served in General George Washington’s elite bodyguard unit–the Commander in Chief’s Guard–during the Revolutionary War.

I say allegedly, because as I have noted previously in my blog posts about CnC Guard William Pace, I have not done much research myself on this line. Once I learned about the commonly misidentified claim that CnC Guard William Pace was descended from Richard Pace of Jamestown, which has been refuted by DNA evidence, I held off on researching my husband’s Pace line until we received confirmation via his cousin’s Y-DNA test as to which of these two Pace lines our family belongs. Last month we finally received that confirmation–my husband’s family is descended from the same family line as William Pace. They are genetically related; the DNA test provides evidence of that. I do not, however, have evidence that my husband and his grandfather Roy Delmar Pace are directly descended from the CnC Guard–this claim is not yet proven.

Hence, this post.

Embarking on the Pace GPS Journey

With my successful completion of the grueling Boston University certificate program in genealogical research two weeks ago, it is time for me to begin original research on my husband’s Pace lineage. Now that I am armed with my newfound Jedi Knight confidence in wielding the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to execute a reasonably exhaustive search for all necessary record sources, to properly analyze all information items gleaned from those sources, to combat conflicting evidence, to keep at bay unsourced claims made by other researchers, and to victoriously prove or disprove our family’s descent from George Washington’s bodyguard.

It will be a long hard journey.

But the Force is strong in this genealogist.

GPS Journey Waypoint One: Roy D. Pace

This is the first step of that journey…proving the parentage of my husband’s maternal grandfather, Roy Pace. More specifically, proving the identity of Roy’s father, since for lineage purposes, only his paternal Pace ancestors matter.

Roy Pace and Grandson Jeff Greene
Roy Pace holding his grandson, my husband Jeff.

Initial Research Question

Establishing grandfather Roy’s paternal Pace ancestry begs the initial research question…who were the parents of Roy D. Pace, father of Betty Pace (deceased) and grandfather to my husband Jeff Greene?

As of yet, I have no birth record for grandfather Roy Pace. I need that birth record, or else I have to demonstrate a reasonably exhaustive search for that record. Because that birth record–hopefully, the original, and not just a derivative index entry or transcription–will provide the strongest-weighing direct primary evidence of Roy’s parentage, the names of his mother and father. Jeff’s father does not have a copy in Betty’s old paperwork, and Roy’s living daughter does not have a copy either.

Nor have I located a birth record for Roy D. Pace in the “Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1932” database on Ancestry, the “Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1935” database on FamilySearch, or the “Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997” database on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

[contentblock id=58 img=html.png]

Baseline Information

An account of what I first learned about Roy D. Pace, shortly after Jeff and I married in 2009.

Jeff did not know anything about his grandfather’s life prior to moving to California, initially living in the Los Angeles area before moving up to Kern County in the Central Valley. My husband assumed his “redneck” Grandpa Pace was Okie (he was not). Jeff did not know the names of Roy’s parents, or when and where Roy was born. He did know the name of Roy’s youngest sibling (his Mom’s uncle, who was close to Betty’s age and more like a cousin to her), and Jeff’s first cousin knew the names of some additional siblings. Jeff also knew where Grandpa Pace died and was buried, as Jeff attended the funeral.

Initial Sources

An Old Family Photo

After we married, I reviewed a DVD full of old family photos scanned and provided by Jeff’s dad. I came across a photo file that my father-in-law named “Roys father Andrew Jackson Pace is top right – 1898” and another file named “Roys family-back of photo w labels reversed”.1 This appeared to be a photo of grandfather Roy Pace’s father and his father’s family, with names identified on the back of the photo! The notes on the back of the photo also provide a birth year and death year for Roy’s father Andrew Jackson Pace (1874-1961), already identified by name in the binary photo file name itself; the name, birth year, and death year for Roy’s father’s wife (Laura Mae Fields, 1895-1932); and the birth year for grandfather Roy D. Pace (1913).

Andrew Jackson Pace Family Portrait 1898
Top Row (L-R) Dave Pace, Rufus Pace, Andrew Jackson Pace [Roy’s father]. Middle Row (L-R): Dora Pace, Nancy Pace, Fannie Pace. Seated: William Jackson Pace [Roy’s grandfather].
Photo taken approximately 1898.2

Online Family Trees

The sibling names provided by Jeff and his first cousin, as well as the scanned family photo, allowed me to start building an Ancestry tree for Roy Pace. This in turn led me to trees built by some of Jeff’s mother’s first cousins, providing family locations in Texas and Alabama, and containing the same names from the old family photo.

Social Security Death Index

Although death records would only provide secondary information about Roy’s birth and the names of his parents, they can still yield forth direct evidence and valuable clues for locating sources that might provide primary information about these events.

The Social Security Death Index indicates that Roy D. Pace was born 19 October 1913, the same birth year noted on that back of that old family photo.3 But SSDI entries do not identify names of parents. Unfortunately, I do not find Roy Pace on the newer “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” which does identify names of parents. So I need to send off for a copy of Roy’s original application.

Having died in 2000, Roy Pace’s death is too late to appear in the “California Death Index (1940-1997).” Neither Roy’s living daughter nor Jeff’s father (Roy’s son-in-law) have a copy of Roy’s Kern County death certificate, so I need to request a copy of the original death record from Kern County.

The 1930 U.S. Census

This is the earliest record I find for grandfather Roy D. Pace. Roy was enumerated on 14 April 1930, living with his parents and the seven younger siblings who were born by this time.4

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census
The Andrew Jackson Pace household, 1930 U.S. census, Hockley County, Texas.2
The family resided in Justice Precinct 6, Hockley County, Texas, on a rented farm.

  • Roy Pace (written as Ray) was 16 years old (born about 1914), single, attending school, and able to read and write. He is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas. Roy is identified as the son of the head of household.
  • Andrew J. Pace is identified as the head of household (Roy’s father). He was age 52 (born about 1878), married, first married at age 38, and able to read and write. Andrew is noted as born in Alabama, with both parents born there as well. He worked as a farmer, on a general farm, and is not identified as a military veteran.
  • May Pace is identified as the wife of Andrew–not necessarily the mother of Roy or the other children. She was 34 (born about 1896), married, first married at age 16, and able to read and write. May is noted as born in Texas (just like Roy and his mother), with a father born in Georgia, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Dollie Pace is the second oldest child of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 14 years old (born about 1916), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Dollie is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Irene Pace is the second daughter of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 12 years old (born about 1918), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Irene is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Huland Pace is the second son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 10 years old (born about 1920), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Huland is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Willie [or Billie] Pace is the third daughter of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 8 years old (born about 1922), and not attending school. Willie is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Leo Pace is the third son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 6 years old (born about 1924), and not attending school. Leo is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Ray Earl Pace is the fourth son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 4 years old (born about 1926), and not attending school. Ray Earl is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Ladell Pace is the fifth son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 1 year and 4 months old (born at the end of 1928 or beginning of 1929). Ladell is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.

I have not yet been able to locate the family on the 1920 U.S. census.

Analyzing the Evidence

Census Marriage Ages Don’t Jive

It is interesting to note the two sets of ages recorded for Andrew Pace and his wife May on the 1930 U.S. census.2 At 52 years old and 34 years old respectively, Andrew and May were 18 years apart in age at the time of the census. Yet it was reported that Andrew was 38 years old at the time of his first marriage; this would have been 14 years prior, about 1916. May is reported as having been 16 at the time of her first marriage; this would have been 18 years prior, about 1912–not 1916, the estimated year of her husband’s first marriage.

Unless these first marriage ages were misreported or written down wrong, this census record indicates that May had been married to someone else before marrying Andrew J. Pace.

Roy’s Birth Year Doesn’t Jive

If the ages noted in the census are correct for Andrew and May’s first marriages, this means–according to what is reported for Andrew–that May and Andrew married around 1916. Yet Grandfather Roy was reportedly born in 1913, three years prior to his parents’ estimated marriage year. Was Roy simply conceived and born prior to his parents getting married? Or might Roy have been born to a different father, possibly to May’s first husband?

Andrew’s oldest daughter Dollie, 14 years old, would have been born around the same year as his marriage to May. Second daughter Irene, born approximately 1918, appears to be the first child definitely born after parents Andrew and May married.

Next Steps

What comes next in my research plan?

Additional Records

The following records should provide clues or additional evidence to answer the research question about Grandfather Roy’s parentage.

  • Locate the marriage record for Andrew Jackson Pace and wife May (Laura Mae Fields).
  • Search for the marriage record for May and a possible first husband.
  • Search for the birth record for a child born in 1913 to just May or to May and a first husband, which might turn out to be Grandfather Roy.
  • Search for a birth record for Roy’s oldest sister Dollie, whose birth location might help narrow down my in-person search for Roy’s birth certificate.
  • Obtain Grandfather Roy’s death certificate from Kern County, California.
  • Obtain a copy of Roy’s social security application.

DNA Analysis

In the event the paper trail continues to shed doubt on Roy being the biological child of both Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields (and a full sibling to the other children), DNA may be able to settle this matter. I have tested two Paces, who our family believes descend from both Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields (the most recent common ancestors)–my husband and a male-line Pace cousin. Analyzing and comparing their autosomal DNA should help me determine if they both inherited DNA from Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields, or if my husband only inherited DNA from one of these common ancestors. Roy has a living daughter that I can test as well if needed.

Texas Road Trip

And now we finally get to the road trip theme for this post.

I am taking a trip to Texas next month, to walk across the Laredo foot bridge that crosses the Rio Grande and joins Laredo, Texas with Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. A walk with my dad, 100 years to the date from when his Mexican immigrant grandparents crossed that bridge (the version that stood in 1915) to start a new life in the United States.

That trip has morphed into at least ten days, visiting with a cousin of Mom’s, taking in the sights of San Antonio, and visiting Austin for some BBQ and the Texas State Genealogical Society’s annual conference. My husband Jeff is flying out for a few days of that ten day road trip.

I hope I can at least identify Grandpa Pace’s place of birth prior to then, so that Jeff and I can visit that area. But if I have not yet been able to identify that locality, or confidently identify the names of Roy’s parents, then some local in-person research time may need to be factored into this road trip as well–whether at the state archives in Austin, or at a local county records center.


#52Ancestors: The Revolutionary War Pension Affidavit of 5th Great-Grandfather Ferdinand Harless

Harless Ferdinand Revolutionary War Plaque Giles County
Memorized with other Revolutionary soldiers on the grounds of the county courthouse.1
My 27th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 27 is – Independent: This is the week for Independence Day! Which one fought for (or against) America’s independence? Or which of your ancestors was independent?

I am still playing catch-up on this challenge, due to the Boston University genealogy research certificate course taking up all of my spare time this summer. Hence, the belated reference to Independence Day.

My 27th ancestor is my husband Jeff’s 5th great grandfather Ferdinand Harless (1755-1853), who served as a patriot in the Revolutionary War.

[contentblock id=55 img=html.png]

I wrote about Ferdinand’s Revolutionary War service and pension file last year, in the 2014 version of this blog challenge. However, at that time, I struggled with reading the 1834 handwritten document, and I was not too familiar with analyzing these types of records. Fast forward 13-1/2 months to today, and thanks to the Boston University program in which I am currently enrolled, transcribing and analyzing the files is a piece of cake. A piece of cake rich with biographical information about my husband’s 5th great grandfather. So I am revisiting the research I did last year.

Following is a verbatim transcription of Ferdinand Harless’s sworn affidavit applying for his pension for service in the Revolutionary War.2 My corrections and annotations are noted in [brackets], but no modifications are made to original spelling, punctuation, or grammar. I have opted to insert a blank line between paragraphs instead of using the record’s indentation style, simply for ease of reading in a blog format.

Soldier’s Affidavit

Harless Ferdinand Revolutionary War Pension Application
Page 1 of the 3-page affidavit.3
State of Virginia
Giles Country

On this 22nd day of March 1834 personaly [personally] appeared before me Robert M. Hutcheson a Justice of the Peace in and for said county Ferdenan Harless a resident of said county aged seventy nine years who being first duly sworn according to law doth on the oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions made by the act of Congress passed the 7th June 1832—That in the Spring of 1777 in the County of Bottetourt [Botetourt] in that part that is now Montgomary [Montgomery] County Virginia—he volunteered to serve against the Indians and served as herein stated and under the command of the following named officers—That owing to the envations [invasions] and depredations of the Indians committed on the Inhabitants along the frontier settlements of western Virginia the people was compelle[d] to erect Fort and station men in there for their defense—that for this purpose in the spring of 1777 as above stated—he volunteered under the command of Capt Floyd and served in a garrison situated in the County of Bottetourt [Botetourt] Virginia at a place called Smithfield in that part of the county that is now Montgomary [Montgomery]

That he served in this garrison from the 1st of April 1777 until the first of October of the same year

That there was a regulary [regularly] embodied corps stationed in garrison with him under the command Captain Floyd and Col Preston was there—That the nature of his servis [service] was to remain in Fort for its defense in case it was attacted [attacked] by the Indians or to hold themselves in readiness to repore [report] to the assistance of any other Fort that might be attacted [attacked] by the Indians

That again in the Spring of 1778 volunteered and served under the command of the same officers above named and served in the same garrison (at smith field) from the first april 1778 until the 1st of October—and that the nature of this servises [services] this year was the same as the year former and

That in the spring of 1779 he volunteered and served from the 1st of April until the first of October under the command of Capt Lucas and was stationed in a garrison situated on sinking creek a tributary stream of New River then in the county of Bottetourt [Botetourt] in that part that is now Giles

That he volunteered in the springs of 1780 & 81 and served from the first of April until the 1st of October in each year in the last named garrison under the command of Captain Lucas

That the nature of his servis [service] was to remain in garrison for its defence [defense] and to range and reconnoiter in spying parties to watch the approach of Indians That the company to which he belonged was divided and a part remained garrison with him some was stationed in a garrison situated at the mouth of sinking creek & also some was stationed in a garrison the mouth of stoney creek both tributary streams of New river all within the same neighbourhood [neighborhood] owing to the scarsity [scarcity] of men in these new settlements there could not be a sufficient number of men raised to defend these points until there was men drafted and brought out either from Augustia [Augusta] or Franklin Counties and stationed in those Fort

That he was one of the early settlers of western Virginia and had to endure much of the hardships of Indian warfare—That he recollects a party of Indians given chace [chase] after Martin Harless and that he narrowly escaped and arrive[d] in the Fort after a race of 3 or 4 miles then he recollects of the murder and the taken into captivity many of his neighbours [neighbors] among whom was of the Families of Sybrook Chapman & McKindsy and a number of other a Daughter of Sybrooks was skelped [scalped] and beate [beat] on the head with a war club and found living next morning and when she was found asked for a drink of water and soon after expired—in seanes [scenes]  like these he passed through the Revolutionary [Revolution] or at least up until the fall of 1781 after which time he declined to be engaged against them.

That the time time he served was with an embodied corps that during which time he followed no civil persuit [pursuit]

That he can support his declaration by the evidence of Philip Harless Parker Lucas and Daniel Harless who served in garrison with him

1st he was born in the county of Shenadore [Shenandoah] Virginia in the year 1755—2d he has no record of his age

3d he was living that part of of Bottetort [Botetourt] Virginia in that part that is now Montgomary [Montgomery] since the revolutionary war he has lived in that part of Bottetort [Botetourt] that is now Giles—4th he volunteered 5th in the years 1777 & 78 Col Preston and Captain Floyd—after 1778 Captain Lucas—6th he never received a written discharge 7th Rev Isaac Scott and Robert W Dennis can testify to my character for varasity [veracity] He [appears to be a mistake, the start of the next line]

He hereby relinquishes every claim to a pension or an annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state—sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid

Ferdinand Harless X his mark

And I Robert M. Hutcheson a Justice of the peace in and for said county do hereby declare my opinion that the above named applicant served against the Indians as he states

Robert M Hutchisan J P

Harless Ferdinand Revolutionary War Pension Application
Legal mark of Ferdenan Harless, indicating he could not sign his name.4
RESEARCH TIP: Revolutionary War Pension Application Dates On 7 June 1832, Congress passed an act allowing all Revolutionary War veterans, and their widows, to apply for pension benefits. Prior to this act, only those disabled in service had been eligible for pension benefits. Therefore, it was not unusual for a veteran or widow to apply for a pension forty-nine years or more after the war ended.5

Next Steps

This pension application raises a number of additional questions about Ferdinand Harless.

  1. Why was his original pension application rejected?
  2. What change occurred that allowed his application to eventually be approved?
  3. Was he illiterate, since he signed his mark rather than his name?
  4. Or was the 79 year old veteran just too ill (possibly losing or having already lost his eyesight) to sign his name by this time?


#52Ancestors: DNA Proves Our Pace Research is Only Halfway Right

Richard Pace Not Related
Photo I took last fall of the plaque that hangs in the church at historic Jamestown and mentions Richard Pace.

My 26th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 26 is – Halfway: This week marks the halfway point in the year — and the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! What ancestor do you have that you feel like you’ve only researched halfway? What ancestor do you feel like takes up half of your research efforts?

I am quite behind on this blog challenge due to a very busy summer school class, hence the reference to this week being the “halfway point” in the year.

My 26th ancestor is who we had hoped was my husband Jeff’s 11th great-grandfather, Richard Pace (1583-1627), an Ancient Planter who is credited with helping save the Jamestown colony from a 1622 Indian massacre. Exactly one week ago today, we received DNA confirmation that my husband’s family is NOT descended from this noteworthy Pace.

Righting a Research Wrong

I have done very little original research on my husband’s Pace line beyond the last four generations. With so much already written and shared by others, I have instead focused on our lesser-known family lines. It appears that I will now need to make this Pace line a priority research project for 2016.

Incorrect Paper Trail Assumptions

Jeff With Richard Pace Plaque
Jeff posing with the plaque paying tribute to Chanco and to who we previously thought was Jeff’s 11th great grandfather, Richard Pace.

I wrote five months ago about the research error that has perpetuated for quite some time, identifying this Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace (1745-1815), a member of George Washington’s Revolutionary War elite bodyguard unit–the Commander-in-Chief Guard (CnC Guard)–as being in the same line of descent, seven generations apart. In an attempt to confirm or refute this claim, the Pace Society of America became an early adopter among surname society-sponsored Y-DNA studies.1

Upon learning of this project, I wanted my husband’s family to participate. But my husband Jeff is a Pace through his mother, so his DNA could not help us. Unlike autosomal DNA, the Y chromosome is inherited only by males, which “passes down virtually unchanged from father to son.” 2 This allows Y-DNA testing to determine patrilineal (direct male-line) ancestry.

We needed a direct male-line Pace. Fortunately Jeff’s 1st cousin once removed (who I will call Male Cousin Pace to protect his privacy) volunteered right away after his wife learned about our dilemma and reasons for wanting to test.

The Research Question

The primary question we wanted Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA test to answer is from which of these two prominent Pace men our branch of the family is descended. Of course, this wasn’t a question with just two possible answers: Richard Pace of Jamestown vs. William Henry Pace CnC Guard. A third answer was always possible, one which we hoped would not be the case…that our family was descended from neither of these men.

The DNA Evidence

After several months of impatiently waiting and regularly checking the processing status of Male Cousin Pace’s kit on Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), I was beside myself when on 4 August 2015 I noticed–well ahead of the notification email from FTDNA–that processing had finally been completed. I immediately hopped on to the Pace Family Genealogy group on Facebook, notifying the DNA project administrator that Male Cousin Pace’s results were ready.

Less than two hours later, the DNA project administrator Rebecca Christensen replied to my post: “The results belong to the John Pace of Middlesex group (as expected) – not the Richard Pace group.”3 Rebecca private-messaged me, elaborating a bit more:

The results actually have 3 mutations (differences) from the modal (most common) results for the group although 2 of the differences are shared by kit number 288002 – so that person may share a more recent ancestor with you.  Your results came in as expected since you are related to William Pace of George Washington’s guard – he is a known John Pace of Middlesex descendant.4

My husband’s Pace branch is descended from the same line as William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard, not from Richard Pace of Jamestown.5  This particular research question is clearly answered by the DNA.

Pace DNA Project - John Middlesex
A closeup view of how our family test kit falls under the results for the John of Middlesex line, within haplogroup I-M223, on the FTDNA public results page.

DNA Answers Only Part of the Question

Note that I state descended from the same line as William Henry Pace, instead of explicitly stating descended from William Henry Pace.

Until I devote some research time towards thoroughly vetting the records tracing my husband’s Pace grandfather and great-grandfather back to William Henry Pace’s generation and then to John of Middlesex, I cannot be certain that my husband’s family actually descends from the CnC Guardsman. All that the Y-DNA test tells us is that my husband’s line descends from John of Middlesex. If William Henry Pace had a brother, it might be his brother from whom our family descends. The linkage to John of Middlesex could be through another of John’s male descendants altogether–occurring prior to William Henry Pace.

We just cannot know until a thorough analysis of the paper trail is conducted. This type of genealogy problem requires both DNA and historical records.

Related Further Back?

Another question I pondered when learning about the DNA project disputing a line of descent between Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace of the CNC Guard, is if it might be possible that my husband’s family was descended from one line yet could also be related to the other line further back in time? Perhaps several generations back?

According to the DNA evidence, the answer is a firm no.

Pace DNA Project - Richard Pace
A closeup view of test kits that fall under the Richard Pace of Jamestown line, within haplogroup R-M269, on the FTDNA public results page.

Richard Pace of Jamestown and William Henry Pace of the CnC Guard are not genetically connected at all. Not just in a genealogical time frame. These two Pace lines are not even connected in an anthropological time frame. The public DNA results, available on Family Tree DNA, assign different haplogroups to these two Pace lines. Our John of Middlesex line belongs to haplogroup I-M223, while the Richard Pace of Jamestown line belongs to haplogroup R-M269.6 7

RESEARCH TIP: Y-DNA Terms Referenced

If you are not familiar with this terminology:

  • Genealogical Time Frame: “A time frame within the last 500 up to 1000 years since the adoption of surnames and written family records. An individual’s haplotype is useful within this time frame and is compared to others to help identify branches within a family.”8
  • Anthropological Time Frame: “A time frame of over 1000 to tens of thousands of years ago that predates recorded history and surnames for most people. The Y-DNA haplogroup tree traces SNP mutations over anthropological time.”6
  • Haplogroup: “A genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patrilineal [all-male line] or matrilineal [all-female line] line. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations.”10
  • Mutation:A permanent structural alteration or change in the DNA sequence. Mutations in the sperm or egg are called germline mutations. Germline mutations in the Y chromosome of the male are passed on to all of his male-line descendants.”11

I am not going into further detail in this post about the three mutations that Rebecca noticed in Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA kit, except to note that this does not mean my husband and his Pace side of the family are mutants :-).4 Nor will I go into an explanation about the two haplogroups. My Y-DNA experience is not yet ready to tackle those topics in a meaningful way. Those explanations have to wait until after I study under Blaine Bettinger at SLIG this January.

Next Steps?

Needless to say, the results of Male Cousin Pace’s Y-DNA test have made a mess out of the family’s research–some of his siblings and his wife have also been researching the Pace family history. I discuss the fallout and housecleaning efforts among my own research notes, and this family history blog, in my next post. I have to get my own house in order before I can help the others get theirs straightened up too.