Notes from the past…

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Tombstone Tuesday

These are the above-ground vaults of my second great-grandparents Miles Francis and Trilla Maryland Davis Stanley at Grandview Cemetery just outside of Grandview in Johnson County, Texas.MilFStanleys

Miles Stanley and wife Trilla Maryland (my Mom’s namesake) arrived in Hill County, Texas from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama in January 1875. There Miles became a successful farmer and was elected County Commissioner in about 1895.

In 1898, The Stanleys and the Fairs, Trilla Maryland’s sister and brother-in-law, adopted 2 very small and very alone little boys who had been abandoned on the steps of the Hill County Courthouse.

By 1909, Miles had retired from public life and the family moved to Mineral Wells in nearby Palo Pinto County. Adopted son John Thomas Stanley graduated from high school in Mineral Wells and soon married and moved away to Fort Worth. Miles and Trilla Maryland remained in Mineral Wells until their deaths in 1932 and 1935 respectively, married over 60 years.

MilFStanley1 vault MilFStanleys1 Grandview Cem TriMDavis stone

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If a child is adopted and becomes your great-grandfather…

… does his brother become your great-uncle?

My great-grandfather John Thomas Stanley was adopted. Does that make his brother, Henry Thomas Fair, my great-uncle?

Henry Thomas Fair was adopted by the sister and brother-in-law of John Thomas Stanley’s adoptive mother. According to my RootsMagic program, that makes him my first cousin 3 times removed!

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Monday Madness on Wednesday!

Too much cookie dough, what can I say?

I’ve been doing some preliminary work on my great-grandfather John Thomas Stanley’s file, getting ready to start entering sources into my RootsMagic database. Converting .pdfs to .jpgs, verifying dates, renaming images, etc.

There is a major problem with my data:

John Stanley’s WWI Draft Registration

JohTStanley WWI

John Stanley’s Death Certificate

JohTStanley DC

John Stanley’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram Obituary

JohTStanley death news

John Stanley’s Greenwood Cemetery Headstone

JohTStanley stone2

Did you notice anything unusual in these documents/photograph?

Check the date(s) given as “Date of Birth”

  1. WWI Draft Registration- “Dec 25, 1894” (according to, kinda hard to tell)
  2. Death Certificate- “December 25, 1894”
  3. Obituary- “Dec 25, 1894”
  4. Headstone- “1896”


What date do I enter into my database?

None of these “sources” are primary for birth date. And since John and his older brother Henry were abandoned at approximately ages 2 and 4 respectively, the dates of birth for both boys were supplied by a frightened and bewildered 4-year-old boy! Their birth parents were never identified and the brothers were adopted by my 2nd great-grandfather Miles Francis Stanley and wife Trilla and Trilla’s sister Martha and her husband John Fair. There were no reliable witnesses to these boys’ births!

What to do? Best 3 outa 4? No social security number is given on the death certificate (although his wife, who died 24 years later, did have a social security card), so did John Stanley have a SS card? Without an accurate date of birth, can I request his SS-5?

Oh, yeah, one more vote for 1894. John Stanley’s 1900 census enumeration:



Of note, brother Henry’s WWI Registration and his death certificate list his DOB as 1892, and here is an image of the two boys, apparently taken very soon after they were abandoned (I’m thinking to document their appearance in an attempt to find their parents) that shows a boy of about 2 years old and a boy of about 4 years old.

So if Henry was born in 1892, that would put John’s birth year to be about 1894.


So what date will I enter into my RootsMagic database?

For now, 1894.

(My great-grandfather was a somewhat wealthy man. I wonder why my great-grandmother never had the headstone corrected… if it was wrong?