Monday Madness: Chipping Away at the Baxters, part 2

If you missed Part 1 of “Chipping Away at the Baxter Brick Wall,” you can read it here.  To recap, I’ve been searching for the parents of my great-great-grandmother, Barbara Baxter, for several years to no avail.  I’ve looked in local history books, browsed many, many census records, and done more Google searches than I count.  Then in mid-2009, I found a death index entry for Barbara that listed her parents as Dave Baxter and Polly Lowery.  Going back to the census, I found some Baxters and Lowerys living adjacent to each other in Murray County, Georgia in 1850. . .

Fast forward to December 2009. I spent an afternoon at the library looking through The Heritage of Polk County, Tennessee 1839-1997 for any surnames of interest. That’s where I found a reference to Felix “Pete” Arthur who had married Polly Lowery Baxter! If this is my Polly, then that explains why I haven’t been able to find her and Barbara in the census. She had remarried and would be found under a different surname. When I went home, I immediately started looking for Arthurs in the 1860 census in Polk County. I quickly found Felix and Polly, but no Barbara. Assuming that her birth year is correct, Barbara would be about six in 1860, so why wouldn’t she be living with her mother? More papers for the “maybe” file.

I did various other searches and found several references to Felix “Pete” Arthur and wife, Mary “Polly”, but no one had connected them to Barbara. However, in the course of these searches, I learned about the Polk County News office in Benton, Tennessee, which has a collection of genealogy papers called the Sudie Clemmer Notebooks; apparently these are the work of a local genealogist. Individuals are allowed access to these notebooks, and since Benton is only about 30 miles away from where I live, I decided to drive up and check them out.

I found two papers of interest in my search for Barbara, Dave, and Polly. One was in the Sudie Clemmer Notebooks and listed three children of Andy Baxter:

  • “Sarah married Alfont Chable
  • Dave
  • Barbara married Hallie Kendrick”

“Barbara married Hallie Kendrick.” I have heard that my F. M. Kendrick was known as Hodie.  Hodie and Hallie seem close enough, and frankly, any Barbara Baxter married to a Kendrick was enough to get my heart racing.

Then, the nice lady at the Polk County News office pointed out that they had some other “Family Stories” that weren’t part of the Sudie Clemmer collection, but that had been written by various people. In that notebook, I found a paper called “The Baxter Line.” And this is where all my other bits of research started coming together.

“The Baxter Line” reports two brothers, Jim and Andy, who came to the Alaculsa Valley. They married Lowery sisters, Betsy and Pollie. The paper then details the descendants of Sarah Caroline Baxter and Alphonso Chable – this is clearly the same Sarah Baxter from the Sudie Clemmer Notebooks as described above.

Once again, I went back to my census records.


1850 Census, Georgia, Murray County.

With the information found at Polk County News, I think it is probable that dwelling 1480 houses the two brothers, James and Andrew. Sarah, the older woman enumerated between them is probably their mother.  Mary, aged 15, is probably my Polly. Furthermore, the Elizabeth who is enumerated in dwelling 1479 with William and Barbarey Lowery is probably the Betsy who married Jim Baxter.

Why, you may be asking, am I writing this on Madness Monday? Because I still have nothing definitive to connect Barbara to any of these people. I have a lot of circumstantial evidence. I feel like Barbara is standing in a circle and all these people are dancing around her, but no one will reach out and grab her and say “she’s my daughter, granddaughter, cousin, niece.”

What are my next steps? I ordered Barbara’s death certificate, which tells me that Polly was born in Murray County and Barbara was buried at Calvary (I’m assuming this is Calvary Baptist Church in Cisco).  A trip to to the cemetery at Calvary is definitely in order.  I’ll continue to look for census and other records for the people around her. Maybe she is named in someone’s will. I’ll check her father, grandfathers, etc. to see if any of them has estate or probate records filed in Murray County. If the records were in Polk County, I’m probably out of luck, as the courthouse burned during the late 1800s.

If you have any information about Barbara or about any of the families mentioned, please, please leave a comment.

In the meantime, I’ll be here, going slightly mad.

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