Tuesday, May 3, 2016

But Wait! There's More!

Thinking that I had found all that was available about Sanford Rainwater, I put his file away and moved on, but he remained in the back of my mind. There was so much I still didn't know about Sanford and it bothered me. It was almost as if he was nagging me to keep trying.

The slot for an informant on Sanford Rainwater's death certificate had been left blank and that discovery had troubled me. By all appearances, he had spent his last days/weeks/months and years... alone. I first shared his story HERE.

After his divorce following about six years of marriage, Sanford Rainwater and his ex-wife Alice Atkinson Rainwater took up residence in completely different parts of the state. Alice initially returned to Mills County, Texas where some of her family still lived and Sanford moved for a time to Sherman, Texas but ultimately moved 750 miles to settle in Aransas Pass along the coast north of Corpus Christi. Sanford's daughter Minnie married and lived with her husband and
children in Parker County, Texas which was 400 miles from Sanford, a sizable distance in those days.

Denotes some of the counties where Sanford, Alice and their daughter Minnie lived

Sanford's only known sibling, Mary seemingly disappeared following the 1880 census, and Sanford's father, John Rainwater, died in 1890. Sanford's mother, Bargilla, lived with Sanford from the time of his divorce until her death on the 24th of October 1919.  So it appeared that for the remaining 21 years of his life, Sanford had been alone, far from any extended family.  My heart ached for him.

Aransas Pass, Texas, Ancestry,Family History, Sanford Rainwater
Aransas Pass, E.P. Chambers, April 10, 1911, No. 2,  Wikimedia Commons, Original LOC
Sanford Rainwater lived in Aransas Pass from 1920 until his death in 1940 




And then a discovery in a newspaper changed a great deal of what I thought I knew about him. Quite by accident, I stumbled onto first one and then several more newspaper write ups in the Aransas Pass Progress which referred to a Sam Rainwater.

I had taken note that Sanford was listed as Sam on his death certificate, but I had originally dismissed it without much thought, regarding it as information likely provided by someone who didn't know him and therefore didn't know what name he went by. After all, there wasn't even an informant listed on his death certificate, and other basic information such as his address was left blank. Additionally, he was listed as Sanford on every census entry during his entire lifetime. Census entries revealed that while there were other Rainwaters living in the area at the time, none were his close family and none had names even remotely similar to either Sanford or Sam. Everything seem to indicate that Sam Rainwater's death certificate was for "my" Sanford Rainwater. Eventually further research would confirm that.

As I searched the newspaper collection to see if there were other entries for Sam Rainwater living in Aransas Pass, I was pleasantly surprised to find more entries and it became apparent that Sam and Sanford were one and the same. I was excited to find entries that helped me to learn a few more details to round out the last years of his life.

Among other things, I discovered that Sanford was not as "invisible" as I had initially assumed. I learned that light hearted things he said sometimes found their way into the local newspaper. People have always liked to have fun with the Rainwater name and such was the case back then as well. The first mention I found was in the March 31, 1935 Aransas Pass Progress newspaper and simply stated:
Sam Rainwater, rejoicing over the shower. Well why shouldn't a Rainwater?
Then on August 25, 1938 he was quoted again. This time it said:
SAM RAINWATER: I never heard a storm going as fast as the one that's suppose to be near Haiti right now. Well, I don't care where it hits, just so it don't hit here!
One final trivial entry was found in the July 20, 1939 edition of the Aransas Pass Progress and was located under the "Have You Heard?" column.
.......Sam Rainwater has a pair of scissors which have been in use for over a 100 years........ 
Apparently news could be  s l o w  some days in Aransas Pass. That last entry made me scratch my head and wonder if there were really reporters who looked for that type of news or exactly how they came by that type of information? It reminded me of an Andy Griffith episode where Opie and his buddy Howie skulked around town, eavesdropping and listening around corners for any little thing townspeople said and then included it in their school newspaper.

While seemingly trivial in content, these simple entries nevertheless make me smile as they confirm that Sanford or Sam as he was apparently known, held a place in his community. People knew who he was and his simple quips and details about his life sometimes found their way into the local newspaper. Maybe Sanford was different from the man I had initially envisioned.

While fun to find, these entries essentially served to confirm that he was there and that others knew him.  I discovered several other entries which provided more significant information, information which made all of the difference in what I now know about Sanford,  information which I will share in upcoming posts.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved


18 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading about your sleuthing methods and your great returns. Thanks for this.

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    1. Thank you so much Bessie. It gave me hope on some of the other individuals who seemingly vanish and made me love newspapers all the more.

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  2. Love the tidbits found in old newspapers! So much fun! And, you are right-we are never "done"! Great post, Michelle!

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    1. Thanks Cheri. I love the tidbits in newspapers too. They can be so tricky to find, but well worth the effort!

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  3. This is what I miss about so many of my ancestors - no clue to their personality or reputation. I have found a few things in social columns, but they're mostly announcements of a visit to so-n-so or from so-n-so. I'd love to find something like this.

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    1. These finds were fun, but there are 2 more posts I have for Sanford that tell about the really helpful things I found once I realized he was called Sam not Sanford. The mention of the 100 year old scissors killed me though---so funny.

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  4. You are so lucky to find newspaper items. I find very little in them because my family seemed to live mostly in places where the local newspapers haven't yet been digitized.

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    1. I am very lucky in this instance. I have felt that way too, but sometimes we hit pay dirt. I did find an index of obits on a library site that have been a huge help to me. For a small fee they will mail the obit to you and a genealogy society is indexing and putting online obits for another area I research. I subscribe to several sites that have newspapers, but I am finding some in places I hadn't looked before.

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  5. Great finds, looking forward to reading more.

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    1. It has been exciting to find more things when I thought I had found all that was available.

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  6. Well spotted Michelle, Don't you just love newspapers! They really shed light on an ancestor's life and character, especially when they quote him in his own words. My ancestors rarely made the newspapers, unless they were involved in a court case :-)

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    1. Oh I do love newspapers. I do have those ancestors who managed to be in court cases too---so it's not always the part of the character I want to see!

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  7. This is what I love about the old newspapers. You feel more connected.

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    1. I really do Barbara. It helps them be more than a name, date and place. Suddenly they have a personality! I wish all of my ancestors made the newspaper!

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  8. I LOVE newspapers, too! They can often tell us more about our ancestors and family members than just the 'usual' dates & places. Great finds! I look forward to hearing more!

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    1. I love them too Dana. If only we could find all of our ancestors in the paper!

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  9. Wonderful bits from the newspaper. Those were a great pair of scissors!

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    1. Apparently they made scissors better in those days!

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