My Grandpa Goldsberry was Clarence Frank Goldsberry, born January 4, 1888 in Meigs County, Ohio. My father had told me the story of Clarence's birth many years ago, but I didn't have any proof of the story until this past year.
My father told me that Clarence's mother was Mary Ashworth, who got pregnant by Francis (or Frank) Ellsworth "F.E." Goldsberry. When Mary told F. E. that she was pregnant, he ran off out west. F.E. returned a couple of years later and asked Mary to marry him, after she had been raising a son all by herself. She told F.E. it was too late, to get lost, and that is exactly what he did. I don't believe F.E. ever acknowledged his son, legally or personally. F.E. and Mary went on to marry other people. F.E. went on to become a successful businessman in Athens, Ohio. Mary, on the other hand, married a Civil War veteran, Lewis Jeffers, who was 25 years older than herself. She was his third wife, and Lewis had many children from his previous marriages. Mary and Lewis had seven children together.
Clarence had a hard life as a young child. Lewis Jeffers had a 145 acre farm, but many mouths to feed. Clarence's job was to bring the cows in for milking each morning and evening. He told my father that he used to jump from "cowpie" to "cowpie" in order to keep his feet warm on the cold days because he had no shoes. Clarence's paternal grandmother, Phoebe Lovett Goldsberry, was concerned about his welfare. She talked Mary into letting Clarence live with her. I don't know exactly when that took place. Phoebe's husband, John Van Buren Goldsberry, died in 1888, four years after Clarence was born. There are no census records available for 1890, when Clarence would have been just two years old. By the 1900 census, Clarence is 12 years old and living with his grandmother. My father told me that when Phoebe went to pick up Clarence, she asked for his things, and Mary handed her a red bandana handkerchief, tied up on all four corners, which contained everything she had for Clarence.
The census records were my first proof that the story passed down was accurate. Phoebe is listed as "head of household" in 1900 and Clarence is listed as her grandson. Next I started looking for proof that Mary Ashworth was Clarence's mother and F.E. Goldsberry was his father. I found a birth record by searching by mother's name in Meigs County, Ohio. It lists a male child, born to Mary Ashworth and father's name is listed as "Illegitimate." So, how could I prove that F.E. Goldsberry was the father?
F. E. Goldsberry's obituary does not list Clarence as a survivor. Articles about his business in Athens never mentions Clarence. However, does substantiate the part of the story that he went out west for two years. Then I found an article about his retirement that says that F.E. worked as a "news butcher" on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.
I was excited to find the original marriage license for Clarence and Ada Hartley, knowing that those sometimes contain parents' names. Disappointment again. Clarence's parents are listed as Mary Jeffers (her married name) even though it specifically asks for mother's maiden name. Father's name is left blank.
Finally, on a trip to Athens County with my sister, we obtained a copy of Clarence's death certificate. Voila! Finally, a legal document that lists his parents as Mary Ashworth and Frank E. Goldsberry.
As many genealogists have told me, family tradition handed down from generation to generation usually turns out to be mostly accurate. I look forward to tracking down documentation for some more of the family stories I have been told!
What family stories have you been told?