Tracking Great-Grandmother Laura Mae (Fields) Pace across Texas

Laura Mae Fields Migration Map
Texas counties in which Laura Mae (Fields) Pace lived. Adapted from a public domain United States Census Bureau Image.1
This past Sunday, I wrote about last week’s big research find…the discovery of an obituary and death certificate for my husband Jeff’s great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields (1896-1933).

Laura Mae was the mother of Jeff’s paternal grandfather and nine younger children. She was married to great-grandfather Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Pace (d. 1961). Laura Mae died tragically young, leaving her husband to raise eight minor-age children ranging from 17 years old to just a few months old. The oldest child (my husband’s grandfather) was of adult age at the time of his mother’s death, and another child died shortly after her mother.


Laura Mae’s descendants know very little about her life and childhood. I am piecing together something of a life story for them, one research question at a time, using methodology that follows the Genealogical Proof Standard.


According to her death certificate and obituary, Laura Mae Fields was born 8 October 1896 in Van Zandt County, Texas.2, 3 Husband A.J. Pace is identified as the informant on the death certificate, and likely served the same role for the obituary, so these documents only provide secondary (yet direct) evidence of Laura Mae’s birth since it is highly doubtful that husband A.J. was an eyewitness to her birth.

I do not yet have an actual birth certificate or even index birth record for my husband’s great-grandmother, which would provide primary and direct evidence of her birth. I am not even sure if an official birth certificate exists. According to the FamilySearch Wiki, although birth registrations in some Texas counties began as early as the 1840s, most did not actually begin this practice until statewide registration of births became mandatory in 1903.4 I will have to check at the county or town level for a possible birth registration, or for alternative documentation such as a baptism record.

The death certificate provides no information about the mother of Laura Mae, and only notes the surname for her father (Fields, no given name).5 The only other clues about her childhood nuclear family unit are references in the obituary to a surviving brother and sister.6

1910 U.S. Census

Knowing from both the death certificate and her obituary that Laura Mae Fields married Andrew Jackson Pace on 24 November 1912 (she was 16 years old) in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas, I looked for Laura Mae on the 1910 U.S. census, where I assumed she would be living with her parents and two siblings.5, 6

In this census, I find three possible candidates, with the same name and same approximate birth year, residing in Texas in 1910. Only one candidate is identified as “Laura May” [Mae] versus just “Laura” and only one candidate is living in Dallas County–the same county in which our great-grandmother was married two years later.

Laura Mae Fields 1910 US Census Search

Great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields was enumerated in the U.S. census on 25 April 1910, in Justice Precinct 4, Dallas County, Texas, living with her brother and sister-in-law.9

Fields Family 1910 US Census Texas

The family is living in a rented home, not on a farm.

  • Julius E. Fields is identified as the head of household, age 19 (born about 1891). Married, in his first marriage, currently married for less than one year. He is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Texas, and a mother born in Georgia. Julius is “working as a farm worker out w [west?],” not unemployed, able to read, able to write, and did not attend school the past year.
  • Essay F. Fields is identified as the wife of Julius, age 23 (born about 1887). Married, in her second marriage, currently married for less than one year. She and her parents are noted as born in Texas. Essay does not work, is able to read, and is able to write.
  • Laura May Fields is identified as the sister of Julius, age 13 (born about 1897). She is single, and is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Texas, and a mother born in Georgia. Like her brother Julius, Laura Mae is “working as a farm worker out w [west?],” not unemployed, able to read, able to write, but did attend school the past year.

Sister-in-law Essay is the likely information who spoke with the census taker, since she did not work, and it would appear that Julius and Laura Mae were working away from the area.

Without any corroborating records identifyng a brother named Julius, what makes me think this is the right Laura May Fields?

  • She is the only Laura Fields living in Dallas County, in the couple years prior to her marriage in that county.
  • She is the only Laura Fields recorded with the middle name of May/Mae.

At this point in the research process, we do not have sufficient evidence that this is indeed our Laura Mae Fields.

1900 U.S. Census

Armed with a brother’s name of Julius, I next looked for great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields on the 1900 federal census, the first census on which she would appear if born in 1896. Laura Mae Fields was enumerated in the 1900 census on 4 June 1900 in Justice Precinct 1, McLennan County, Texas. She is living with her mother, brother, and sister.10

Fields Family 1900 US Census Texas

This is the first document I have found identifying the name of Laura Mae’s mother and sister. Her mother shares the same given name as Laura Mae’s oldest daughter, Dollie Eleanor Fields, which makes it very likely that Great-Aunt Dollie is named after Laura Mae’s mother.

  • Dollie Fields is identified as the head of household, age 25 (born August 1874), and widowed [this is not true, but that is the topic for a later post]. She gave birth to four children, three of whom are still living in 1900. Dollie is noted as born in Georgia, with both parents born in Georgia. She is able to read and write.
  • Julius Fields is identified as Dollie’s son, 9 years old, born in July 1890. He is noted as born in Texas, with both parents born in Georgia. Julius is attending school.
  • Clara B. Fields is identified as Dollie’s daughter, 5 years old, born in January 1896. She is noted as born in Texas, with both parents born in Georgia, and not yet in school.
  • Laura M. Fields is identified as Dollie’s daughter, 3 years old, born in October 1896. This birth month and year are in agreement with what husband Andrew Jackson Pace reported in her 1933 death certificate and obituary.5, 6 She is noted as born in Texas, with both parents born in Georgia.

Nobody in the Fields household is identified as working. This makes me wonder how Dollie was able to financially provide for her three children.

Since Dollie was not working away from the home, and the children are nine years old or younger, it can be inferred that Dollie was the informant who talked to the census taker.

Following Her Footsteps

Great-grandmother Laura Mae’s life becomes easier to document and track after her marriage, at 16 years of age, to great-grandfather A.J. Pace, particularly through records that document where many of her ten children were born.

Laura Mae Fields Migration Map
Texas counties in which Laura Mae (Fields) Pace lived. Numbers correspond to the timeline.
Adapted from a public domain United States Census Bureau Image.13
I have discussed the movements by the family across Texas in depth, in recent posts:

  1. Tracking the Andrew Jackson Pace Family in Rural Depression Era Texas, 1930 and 1940 US Censuses,
  2. Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace Tragically Taken by Meningitis at 15 Years Old,
  3. Finally Finding a Death Certificate and Obituary for Great-Grandmother Laura Mae (Fields) Pace.

From discoveries reviewed in the aforementioned posts, I am able to now expand upon my working timeline for Laura Mae Fields: what life event, on what date, where it happened, and how we know (which source, F = footnote/citation). The Key ID refers to the corresponding number on the above map.

Key When What Where How
1 8 October 1896 Born Van Zandt County F2, F3
2 4 June 1900 Residence Justice Precinct 1,
McLennan County
3 25 April 1910 Residence Justice Precinct 4, Dallas County F9
24 November 1912 Marriage Mesquite, Dallas County F2, F3
? 19 October 1913 Birth of son
Roy Delmar Pace
? F1414
4 1913 United with the
Baptist church
Donohoe, Bell County F3
? 16 September 1915 Birth of daughter
Dollie Eleanor Pace
Barlett, Bell or
Williamson County
5 24 September 1917 Birth of daughter
Clara Irene Pace
Mesquite, Dallas County F1616
6 12 September 1918 Residence Campbell, Hunt
? About 1920 Birth of son
Hulon Pace
? F1818
? About 1922 or 1926 Birth of daughter
Willie Mae Pace
? F18, F1919
6 About 1924 Birth of son
Leo Jackson Pace
Commerce, Hunt County F2020
? 3 March 1926 Birth of son
Ray Earl Pace
? F18
7 18 November 1928 Birth of son
Ladell Pace
Littlefield, Lamb
8 14 April 1930 Residence Justice Precinct 6,
Hockley County
7 January 1931 Birth of son
Charles Wayne Pace
Levelland, Hockley County F2222
8 11 November 1932 Birth of son
Jack Pace
Lamb County F2323
9 18 February 1933 Hospitalization at
Lubbock Sanitarium
Lubbock, Lubbock County F3
21 February 1933 Death Lubbock, Lubbock County F2, F3
10 21 February 1933 Burial at
Whitharral Cemetery
Hockley County F2, F3

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Next Steps

What new research questions do these two new census records raise?

  • What happened to Laura Mae’s mother between the 1900 and 1910 U.S. census? Family accounts have told me the answer, but I need documented evidence.
  • If Laura Mae’s mother Dollie was widowed by the 1900 federal census, who was her husband and when did he die? Again, I know that identifying herself as a widow was not correct, but that is a topic for future posts.

What new tasks do these new documents and questions warrant?

  • Locating documentation that provide’s mother Dollie’s maiden name.
  • Conducting a reasonably exhaustive search for possible birth records for Laura Mae Fields and her two siblings, even though all three were born prior to statewide birth registration became mandatory in 1903.
  • Locating documentation that identifies the father of Laura Mae Fields.


Tracking the Andrew Jackson Pace Family in Rural Depression Era Texas, 1930 and 1940 US Censuses

Ray Pace and Leo Pace, 1940s
Roy (left) and younger brother Leo, 1940s.1
I wrote a couple days ago about trying to identify the birth place of my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000) before I visit Roy’s home state of Texas next month.

In that post, I analyzed the 1930 U.S. census record that places Roy, his parents, and most of his siblings on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas.

I also mentioned that this census analysis raises some questions about Roy’s parentage:

  • whether he was simply born before his parents Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields married,
  • if Roy might be Laura’s child from a previous marriage,
  • or if the census just contains wrong ages and math?

Planning My Texas Research

I am focusing most of my current research work on my husband’s Texas ancestry, in preparation for a trip I am taking to Texas in late October. If I get any time at the state archives, I need to make the most of that brief time, tackling records that can only be researched in-person, versus what I can access online from home or at the Family History Library.

The Initial Research Question

As stated in my last post, my first research question is who were the parents of Roy D. Pace, father of Betty Pace (deceased) and grandfather to my husband Jeff Greene?

The Prerequisite Research Question

Because I cannot find a single record that documents a specific place–even just the county–where Grandpa Roy was born, I have to track and trace the movements of Roy’s parents in an attempt to narrow down the geographic scope in which to search for sources that might shed some light on Roy’s place of birth. This means building a timeline for the family, identifying dates and places associated with the oldest children prior to the family moving away from their childhood farm in rural Texas.

But to do that, I have to first identity Roy’s siblings–their names, birth dates, and places of birth, which took a few days to tackle. Not all children appear to have birth certificates. Some who do have birth certificates were initially recorded with no given name (I only find one amended certificate so far). Plus some of the children going by a different given name on later records.

This prerequisite research question is, who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?

The 1930 U.S. Census

This census serves as my information baseline to answer the above research question. I spent quite a bit of time in my last post analyzing it, so I will not repeat that same data here, aside from names and ages. The 1930 U.S. census identifies 8 children attributed to head of household Andrew J. Pace.2

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census
The family on the 1930 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
1) Ray [Roy] Pace Male Est. 1914 (age 16) Texas
2) Dollie Pace Female Est. 1916 (age 14) Texas
3) Irene Pace Female Est. 1918 (age 12) Texas
4) Huland Pace Male Est. 1920 (age 10) Texas
5) Willie Pace Female Est. 1922 (age 8) Texas
6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 6) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male Est. 1926 (age 4) Texas
 8) Ladell Pace Male Est. 1928 or 1929
(age 1 year, 4 months)

The 1940 U.S. Census

I am using the 1940 U.S. census as the termination point for this Pace childhood timeline, since it combined with the 1930 U.S. census provides a snapshot look back in time at biographical details about every member of this family. More robust stories about some of these family members will appear in later posts.

Great-Grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace can be found on the 1940 U.S. census, still farming and living on rented property in rural Hockley County, Texas. Five children live with him, including two sons born after the 1930 census, bringing the total number of children to ten.3

Andrew Jackson Pace Household, 1940 US Census
The main family on the 1940 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
 6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 16) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male  Est. 1926 (age 14) Texas
 8) Ladell pace Male Est. 1929 (age 11) Texas
 9) Wayne Pace Male Est. 1931 (age 9) Texas
 10) Jack Pace  Male Est. 1933 (age 7) Texas

Andrew Jackson and all of the boys, except Jack, are noted as living in the same locality (but not in the same house) on a farm back on 1 April 1935. The 1940 U.S. census required that enumerators ask the place of residence on 1 April 1935  for every person 5 years of age or older, yet there is no notation at all written down for 7 year-old Jack, so it is not possible to tell if Jack lived with his father and brothers in 1935 or lived someplace else (such as with one of his older married sisters).4

  • 6) Leo: Attending school, 5th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 7) Ray Earl: Attending school, 6th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 8) Ladell: Attending school, 3rd grade highest grade completed.
  • 9) Wayne: Attending school, 2nd grade highest grade completed.
  • 10) Jack: Attending school, no grades yet completed.

What is Different?

A look at the change in household membership since the 1930 U.S. census.

Who is Missing?

A number of family members are missing from the household by this time.

  • May/Laura Mae Fields (wife): Andrew Jackson is identified as a widow, so the logical assumption is that his wife Laura Mae Fields died sometime between the two census dates, but after the estimated 1933 birth of youngest child Jack Pace.5 Laura Mae is indeed deceased by this time, but that is a topic for the next post in my Pace series.
  • 1) Roy Pace (son): Roy (26 years old, born about 1914) is living in New Mexico at this time, in Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, where he works as a miner. His residence is not on a farm. Roy is married to my husband’s grandmother Rebecca Haley (a nurse), their one month old son Larry and a lodger/fellow miner named Joseph Galoway are living with the couple. Roy lived in the same locality on 1 April 1935 (not the same exact residence), but his wife Rebecca still lived back in Nashville, Tennessee at the time, indicating they probably married after that date. Roy is noted as having completed one year of college.6
  • 2) Dollie Pace (daughter): Dollie (24 years old, born about 1916) is living in nearby Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, but not on a farm. She is married, and the couple lives with her husband’s father and sisters. All household members lived on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas on 1 April 1935. Her husband worked as a cook at a cafe. Dollie is noted as having completed the third year of high school.7
  • 3) Irene Pace (daughter): Irene, the daughter who should be about 22 years old in 1940 is also deceased by this time, but unlike her mother’s death (which can be inferred from Andrew’s 1940 status as a widow), Irene’s death cannot be inferred from her absence in the 1940 census. Her story will also be shared in the next Pace series post.
  • 4) Huland/Hulon Pace (son): Hulon (20 years old, born about 1920) is living in nearby Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, with his wife and infant son. They reside with Hulon’s wife’s family. Hulon is employed as a truck driver, and indicates he lived in rural Lamb County, Texas, on a farm (not the same place as his wife and her family) on 1 April 1935. Hulon is noted as having completed the first year of high school. 8
  • 5) Willie Mae Pace (daughter): Willie Mae  (18 years old, born about 1922) is living further southwest in Williamson County, Texas, with her husband and their infant son. They reside on a rented farm, and her husband is a farmer. Willie Mae and her husband both lived on a farm in Hockley County, Texas, on 1 April 1935. She is noted as having completed the first year of high school.9

Who is New?

Family members who joined the household since the 1930 U.S. census.

  • 9) Wayne Pace (son): Born about 1931.
  • 10) Jack Pace (son): Born about 1933.

Back to the Research Question

My research question–Who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?–cannot be answered from these two census records alone, in a manner that meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). More records and analysis are needed.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1961
The Pace siblings, 1961.
Bottom Row (L-R): Ladell, Dollie, Willie Mae, Roy Delmar.
Top Row (L-R): Ray Earl, Jack, Hulon.10

The Pace Siblings

Based upon these census records, ten children are attributed to Andrew Jackson Pace:

  1. Roy Delmar Pace (son).
  2. Dollie Pace (daughter).
  3. Irene Pace (daughter).
  4. Huland/Hulon Pace (son).
  5. Willie Mae Pace (daughter).
  6. Leo Pace (son).
  7. Ray Earl pace (son)
  8. Ladell Pace (son).
  9. Wayne pace (son).
  10. Jack Pace (son).

The census records cannot, however, tell us if Laura Mae Fields was the mother of the children, since these two censuses only specify a relationship to the head of household–which was Laura Mae’s husband Andrew Jackson. We can only infer at this point in the research process that Laura Mae was the mother. As with the actual research question, more sources and analysis are needed to establish the parentage of the ten children.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1991
The Pace Siblings, 1991. (L-R) Willie Mae, Jack, Roy Delmar, Dollie, and Hulon.11
Establishing and proving the parentage of Roy’s siblings, is not part of this research question and plan, so I will not go into that in posts about Grandpa Roy’s ancestry. The dates and places of birth of the older children, however, can help me narrow down a geographic scope for where in Texas my husband’s Grandpa Roy might have been born.

Working Timeline

Tracking and tracing the movements and life events of the Pace siblings is a very helpful tool for identifying sources that can answer the research question. At this point, the timeline reflects the information provided by just the two census records: which family member, what life event, on what date, where it happened, and how we know (which source, F = footnote/citation).

When What Who Where How
About 1912 1st Marriage Laura Mae Fields probably  Texas F2
About 1914 Birth Roy Delmar Pace Texas F2, F6
About 1916 1st Marriage Andrew Jackson Pace probably Texas F2
About 1916 Birth Dollie Pace Texas F2, F7
About 1918 Birth Irene Pace Texas F2
About 1920 Birth Huland/Hulon Pace Texas F2, F8
About 1922 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F9
About 1924 Birth Leo Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1926 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F2
About 1926 Birth Ray Earl Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1929 Birth Ladell Pace Texas F2, F3
14 April 1930 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Laura Mae Fields
Roy Pace
Dollie Pace
Irene Pace
Huland Pace
Willie Pace
Leo Jackson
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Hockley County, Texas F2
About 1931 Birth Wayne Pace Texas F3
About 1933 Birth Jack Pace Texas F3
1933-1940 Death Laura Mae Fields probably Texas F2, F3
1 April 1935 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6
Dollie Pace Hockley County, Texas F7
Hulon Pace Hunt County, Texas F8
Willie Mae Pace Hockley County, Texas F9
4 April 1940 Residence Hulon Pace Littlefield, Hunt County, Texas F8
11 April 1940 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
13 April 1940 Residence Willie Mae Pace Williamson
County, Texas
17 April 1940 Residence Dollie Pace Levelland, Hockley County, Texas F7
7 May 1940 Residence Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6