One of the first death certificates that I obtained when I first began to research my family tree was that of my great-grandmother, Ruth (Carroll) Carr. Her father, as listed on the death certificate, was John Spurgeon. A bit of research indicated that his name was actually John Spurgeon Carroll. The lesson here is that just because it’s on an official government document doesn’t make it true! Anyway, I started searching for my second great-grandfather, John Spurgeon Carroll.
I found him in the 1870, 1880 and 1900 Federal Censuses without too much trouble, but then he vanished after 1900. I have been looking for him for almost 5 years!
Somewhere along the way, I met a “cousin” online who is descended from John’s first wife, Mary Bennett. The cousin sent me a lot of info, although none with sources. That was ok, because at least now I had a place to start looking. According to the cousin’s info, John deserted his first wife and their children. Mary later divorced him, and he remarried another lady, who he also later abandoned. The cousin told me that she thought he had probably run off to Wyoming, where some of his brothers lived, and died there.
Well, my second great-grandfather sounds like a low-life scoundrel, don’t you think? That’s pretty much how I’ve thought of him all this time. Not one of my favorite ancestors, but I still had to find him.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Family Search Labs had added the index to Texas Deaths, 1890-1976. A shot in the dark, but I typed John’s name into the search box, and… there he was! He died in Hays County, Texas in 1939! Not in Wyoming, but right here in Texas!
So I sent an email to the San Marcos Public Library in Hays County, in hopes that maybe they had some old newspapers stashed away, maybe an obituary could be located. Sandra at the library wrote back almost immediately and promised to look for the obituary. In couple of days, she contacted me again to get my “snail-mail” address, to send me a copy of the obit. At this point I was expecting little more than a cursory few sentences about John Spurgeon Carroll, maybe a note about where he was buried. I was hoping against hope that his wife might be also be mentioned, since I have not been able to find her after 1900 either. Remember, he was a scoundrel, and nobody cares much about scoundrels…
So when I got home from work last night, I found a letter from the San Marcos Public library in my mailbox. Getting a bit excited now, although still not expecting much. I sat down at my desk and opened the letter and…WOW!
What an incredible wealth of information! Names, dates, places, the works! Even the fate of my second great-grandmother, Mary Carroll!
And the Mayflower! If this holds up…I can’t think of anything more exciting than having an ancestor aboard the Mayflower! Of course, I have to track all of these folks down and verify the relationships first.
The obit mentions that John was related to a B H Carroll, who was a moving force in the early Baptist Church in Texas. In Fort Worth, just about 2 blocks from where my grandmother used to live and the home that my Mom and her siblings grew up in is what was once an elementary school. As children, my brothers and I, while not actually attending that school, never-the-less did go there frequently to play on the playground. The name of the school? B H Carroll Elementary School! Is this the same B H Carroll as mentioned in the obit and at one time head of Baylor University in Waco, Texas and founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth? His son, B H Carroll, Jr, apparently. B H Carroll, Jr was once the superintendent of the Tarrant County School District, hence the name of the school.
The obit also states that John Spurgeon Carroll is buried in Martin Cemetery in Goforth, Texas. A quick Google search took me to the Hays County, TX GenWeb site and Martin Cemetery. And look what I found:
I am in hog heaven! It is definitely Happy Dance Time! Of course, I still have a lot of work to do to verify and document all of the information in the obituary, but….WOW! (All this at 2 AM and I still had to get to sleep and be back at work at 8:30 AM that morning!)