Madness Monday: The Mystery of Grandma Haney

Ellis Roberts GenealogyA couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my newly-found cousin M, asking about a photo given to her by a Roberts relative, who indicated that it was a photo of Mariah Langston.  I have the same photo, which I also received through a Roberts connection, and my copy was also labeled Mariah Langston (see lower-right photo in the collage).  Cousin M said she had found another copy of the photo that she had received from Bertie Roberts, a sister of both our great-grandmothers, who had labeled it “Grandma Haney.”  Cousin M’s question to me was if had I ever heard of a Haney in the Roberts family tree.

I had never heard of such a person and my response was that I would ask my mother about it.  Fast forward two weeks.  I had not had a chance to speak to my mother about this, but then I received an email from her with a photo of the 1909 Roberts Family Reunion; many years ago she and her aunt had labeled several of the people in the photo.  I already had a copy of the photo, but I didn’t know who any of the people were, except for one, whom I had been told was Mariah Langston (the lady in the hat, standing next to the porch column).  My mother’s copy had this same person labeled as “Grandma Ellis (Haney).”

What?

I immediately phoned my mother to ask who this person was.  She had never heard of any Haneys and didn’t remember that the photo said this, but she said that the woman in question was Rosa Ellis’ mother.  Rosa was the wife of Martin Roberts, whose mother was Mariah Langston.  None of this made any sense, except the age of the lady made it clear that she was an earlier generation than Rosa and Martin, so she could have been either one’s mother.  Puzzled, we hung up the phone.

As I continued to ponder the situation, it occurred to me that Rosa Ellis’ mother, Elizabeth Tucker, had been widowed as a young woman.  What if she had remarried?  I pulled up my records and saw that she was living with her son in 1880 and her last name was recorded as Ellis.  This meant that if she had remarried, it was probably after 1880.  The next day I went to the Murray County Library, because I knew they had a copy of Murray County, Georgia marriage records books I-IV, 1835-1905, which is an index, and would be the fastest way to see if I was on the right track. Sure enough, there was a Timothy Haney who married an Elizabeth M. Ellis in 1889.  This was promising.  With the marriage book letter and page number in hand, I made a quick trip to the courthouse, where I found a marriage license for Timothy Haney and Mrs. Elizabeth M. Ellis.  Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis – this makes it even more probable that this is my Elizabeth.

The only piece of contradictory evidence at this point is a gravestone, which is inscribed Elizabeth Ellis, born October 21, 1828, died Feb 7, 1907.  This gravestone has always bothered me, because it is in Eton Cemetery.  Elizabeth’s parents and first husband are buried at New Prospect Cemetery, which is on the other side of the county, so I could never figure out why she would be buried at Eton.  She has a grandson who is buried adjacent to this stone at Eton, which is really the only evidence that the stone is hers.  The death date is now even more problematic.  If she was at a family reunion in 1909, then clearly she didn’t die in 1907.  Moreover, if my Elizabeth truly did remarry a Haney, then why does the gravestone use the surname Ellis?

I think it is very interesting that Cousin M. and I both have photos labeled by two different people that both said the person was Mariah Langston; then we both have two photos labeled by other people that said the person was the mysterious “Grandma Haney.”  My mother’s aunt would not be considered a primary source, as she was born a few years after the 1909 photo was taken.  However, Bertie, who gave the other photo to Cousin M, was alive and would certainly be able to identify her own grandmother.

I feel confident that the combination of the two photos labeled “Grandma Haney” and the marriage license of Timothy Haney and Mrs. Elizabeth M. Ellis mean that my Elizabeth did remarry.

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