Showing posts with label Rainwater Sanford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rainwater Sanford. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bridging the Gap

Newspapers can help bridge the gap in records and can give us a glimpse into our ancestor's lives. In the case of Sanford Rainwater, several newspaper articles helped me to learn things I otherwise might never have known about his life, including that he went by the name of Sam. Finding trivial quotes and details about his life was fun. Finding his daughter Jessie was wonderful, but I found even more.

While I am always grateful when my ancestors actually make it into the census and are in plain site, and not hiding behind a woefully miss-spelled, miss-transcribed name, I nevertheless always ache to fill in the gaps between the census enumerator's visits. The last two newspaper articles for Sanford help to do just that.

In the Aransas Pass Progress, dated February 1, 1940 I found the following:
Sam Rainwater Has a Stroke Wednesday 
Sam Rainwater, one of the earlier residents of Aransas Pass and familiar figure here was rushed to a Mathis hospital Wednesday after in a Cage ambulance following a stroke of paralysis. 
The old settler suffered a slight stroke Tuesday and a more severe one on Wednesday. His condition was thought to be critical according to late reports.  
This article provided what his death certificate did not. He had had a minor stroke followed by a more serious stroke and he was recognized as a long time citizen of Aransas Pass.

 And then a week later, this followed:

Aransas Pass Progress
Feb. 8, 1940
Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon for Sam Rainwater, 74, long-time resident of this coast section and familiar to most people in Aransas Pass for many years, who died in a Mathis hospital Friday afternoon, following a stroke. 
Services were held in the Cage Funeral Home chapel. Burial followed in Prairie View Cemetery. 
He is survived by his wife and two daughters, none of whom could be reached, the funeral home officials said. Rainwater formerly worked for the Terminal Railway as a pile driver, but ill health in recent years forced his retirement. 

Aransas Pass, Sanford Rainwater, Sam Rainwater, Texas, genealogy, ancestry, Jessie Rainwater, obituary
Pile driver at work
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain 
So although Sam had tried his hand at farming, I now knew that he had also worked as a pile driver for the railway, which was an interesting occupation and not one I had seen among my ancestors before. But the words, "He is survived by his wife and two daughters, none of whom could be reached," hit me hard. Although he had gone to Aransas Pass a single, divorced man, the townspeople were aware that he had been married, and that he had two daughters. Whether or not he saw his daughters often, he had at the very least talked about them enough that people were aware of them, but they could not be reached, and so he had been alone at the end.

Although the newspaper articles shared in my last few posts suggest that Sam had a place in the community, that his daughter Jessie had at least visited him once and stayed for an entire month, it was a newspaper article that once again put him in that very lonely spot at the end of his life. His family could not be reached, they were not there to provide information for his death certificate and they were not at his funeral to say their final goodbyes.

I was grateful to know that there was a funeral, however small or simple. To me, that suggests that there were those who did care and gives me hope that possibly the friends and neighbors whom he had lived amongst for over 40 years had in a way become his family and that perhaps as his family, they came to say farewell to their ole friend Sam.

For further reading about Sanford Rainwater, see previous posts;  Alone, but not Forgotten ,  But Wait! There's More, and Where The Common Feel Famous

 Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Where the Common Feel Famous

Every summer we loaded up the ole station wagon and made the trip to Grandma's house. We generally stayed a little over a week, which was just long enough to make the local newspaper. I remember being so excited to see our names in the small town newspaper announcing our visit to our relatives. As a little kid, seeing our names in print made me feel important, if not famous.

Long before the days of Facebook, the newspaper was the place to learn about the goings on in small communities and it is there that I learned more about Sanford and his family. While the newspaper quips about Sanford Rainwater shared in my previous post were fun to find, there were a few unexpected jewels in other editions. One entry from the 20 February 1938 edition of the Aransas Pass Progress read simply as follows:
Mrs. Frank B. Kelly of Richards returned home Sunday after a month's visit here with her father Sam Rainwater. 
Mrs. Frank B. Kelley? I couldn't imagine who she was but was anxious to find out. The 1900 census was the only census showing Sanford with his wife Alice along with children Minnie and Jessie. A search of Texas marriage records on FamilySearch turned up the following for Frank B. Kelly.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

Texas, Marriage Records, Aransas Pass, Weatherford, Sanford Rainwater, Jessie Mae Rainwater, Frank B. Kelley
Texas County Marriage Records, Parker County, Texas
Accessed on
Could this be Sanford's missing child, Jessie Rainwater?  Following Sanford Rainwater's divorce from his wife Alice Atkinson, I had been able to find and trace their daughter Minnie, but their youngest child, Jessie, had seemingly disappeared. It didn't help that the only census showing Sanford with his wife and their two children indicated that Jessie was a son. With that lone piece of information I had searched high and low for a male Jessie Rainwater born in Texas about 1898. I had found a few males by that name and approximate age, but with a little research, none of them proved to be the son of Sanford Rainwater and Alice Atkinson.

I was thrilled with this find. Jessie's sister Minnie lived a big part of her married life in Parker County where this Jessie was married. Armed with this information, I was off to learn more about this Jessie.

In addition,  I also now knew that although Sanford lived some distance from his children and ex-wife, he had had at least some contact with his youngest child, Jessie, leading me to believe that they were at least aware of his whereabouts and had possibly maintained some contact with him over the years. Maybe Sanford was not as alone as I had thought.

We may not find many common people on TV or in the movies, but small town newspapers can be a great place to find tidbits about some of our most common ancestors. And for once, luck was on my side as other newspaper articles helped fill in even more about Sanford's life. I can't wait to share more in a coming post.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alone, but Not Forgotten

By all appearances, he was alone.  While there are some experiences that must be faced alone, its when we face the critical crossroads of life that we generally hope that someone will be there beside us, helping us to take that next crucial step.  Such is the case with death and so it pains me to think that as Sanford Rainwater approached his final threshold,  no one was there to help ease him across.  No one wants to die alone.

While I do not know his full story or if even the story I think that I see is accurate, I will share what little I have found about Sanford Rainwater, with the hopes that maybe someone else has a puzzle piece or two that they can share to help complete the picture.

Sanford Rainwater was my first cousin 3 times removed, which in ways doesn't sound very distant and yet, the distance is significant enough that I have no personal knowledge of him at all.  

As I learned about him,  there were several things that troubled me, but it was his death certificate that bothered me the most.  With just enough detail to help me determine that it was indeed "him,"  it was the following information on the certificate, or should I say, lack of information, that really tugged at my heart. 

Sanford Rainwater

Seeing "not known" beside birthplace and even beside "name of father" and "maiden name" of mother is really not that unusual,  but seeing the word "none" for his informant was heart wrenching to me. Was there really no one living nearby that knew him well enough to provide information for the death certificate?  Was there no one that could provide some of the most basic facts of his life?  Was he really that alone?  Other records seemed to confirm that he had been alone for some time.

Sanford Rainwater was the oldest of two children born to John and Bargilla [Moore] Rainwater.  Sanford's father, John Rainwater was a younger brother to my 2nd great grandmother, Olivia Rainwater Ganus.  Born in February of 1866 in Georgia, Sanford was likely born in Haralson County.  By 1869 John and Bargilla (or Barzilla, records vary)  had moved their family to Upshur, Hamilton County, Texas, along with John's brother, Abner, and his family, as well as John's father, Joshua, who was then a widower.

Sanford's mother became a widow when in 1890 John died and was buried in Hamilton, Texas.  In about 1894, when Sanford was 28, he married Alice Atkinson.  The couple had two children together.   A daughter, Minnie Jane, was born in1896 and a son, Jessie, was born in 1898.  By 1900, Sanford, Alice and their two children had moved to Creek Nation, Indian Territory, an area that would later become Oklahoma.  It was fun to discover that Sanford and Alice were living next door to his aunt and uncle,  (my 2nd Great Grandparents) John and Olivia [Rainwater] Ganus. Both families had moved from Georgia with John and Olivia first living in Colorado before settling in Indian Territory, whereas Sanford's family had initially moved to Texas.  Apparently the families had maintained enough communication to be aware of each other's location. 

Sanford's wife, Alice,  was the daughter of Reverend Alonzo Atkinson.   Family lore indicates that Alice's parents were not too crazy about her marriage to Sanford and I wonder if that contributed to their move to Creek Nation.  Sadly the relationship did not last and by 1910, the couple had divorced. Sanford is shown on the 1910 US Federal Census divorced and living in Sherman, Texas as the head of household and his 71 year old mother Bargilla was living with him.   Alice however had remarried by then and was living in Mills, Texas.  While I eventually tracked down their daughter, Minnie, as a married adult, I have never been able to locate son Jessie beyond the 1900 census when he is shown with his parents and sister.  It troubles me that at the ages of 12 and 14, neither children were listed with either parent in 1910 and also do not appear to be with either grandparents, aunts or uncles.

Star indicates location of Parker County, Tx
Red county on the gulf is San Patricio
Wikimedia Commons

I was able to find Sanford in City Directories in 1903 and 1910 in Sherman, Texas,  and in 1912 in San Antonio.  In each location, his mother Bargilla was living with him. Bargilla died in 1919 and from that point on, Sanford is shown living alone in Aransas Pass, San Patricio, Texas.  In 1920 he was working with the railroad and in 1930 he was doing odd jobs. Every indication is that he never remarried following his divorce from Alice. 

I did locate the death certificate for Sanford's daughter, Minnie.   Her husband was the informant and while it lists her mother's name as Alice Atkinson, her father is listed simply as "Rainwater." This leads me to believe that at least as an adult, Minnie maintained some type of relationship with her mother, but likely little if any contact with her father.  Distance alone would have made it difficult to see much of her father.  On the map above, the star indicates Parker County where Minnie lived most of her adult married life and where she died.  The red county on the gulf is San Patricio where Sanford spent the last 20+ years of his life and where he died.   Why did he choose to live so far from his only daughter and grandchildren? 

And that is the end of the trail!  Other than his death certificate, I can find nothing more about Sanford.  Even online family trees fail to provide any photos, hints or further insight to his life.

On February 2, 1940, at the age of 74, Sanford Rainwater passed from this life and while all clues seem to indicate that he lived much of his life alone and even died alone,  for me, he is not forgotten and hopefully someday I will know more.  

UPDATE: More has been found about Sanford. See posts But Wait There's More! and Where the Common Feel Famous

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014