Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hannah is still Hannah no matter the Surname

The process of documenting a woman's life can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack when her surname changes. Hannah had several different surnames during her lifetime.

Hannah was born to Thomas/Tom Gary, maybe Weathersby or Jones, and Bettie Thompson, April 1895, in Copiah County, MS. Twenty years old, Thomas Gary is living next door to a Stephen and Hannah Jones who are old enough to be his parents. I suspect Stephen and Hannah, or one of the two, are his parents. More research is needed to verify the theory.

Hannah Gary is a five year old in 1900. She is living with parents Thomas and Bettie Gary; siblings: Willie, Mary, Thomas, Jr., and Bettie Jean. Shortly after her 15th birthday, she married my paternal granduncle Edgar Overton, 11 Aug 1910, in Copiah County.

The Gary family was not found in the 1910 census, nor was Edgar Overton. Edgar and Hannah Overton are found in the 1920 census with their children: George, David, E J, Richmond, Jones Sam, and Mary. The marriage didn't last much longer. Edgar died 10 Aug 1923.

Albert Brown Spencer's wife Mary died in May of 1923. Widow Overton and widower found solace with each other, married about 1925. They had two children together, Bessie and Albert. Hannah Spencer became a widow again. Albert B Spencer died 06 Apr 1927.

Two husbands dead less than five years, Hannah raised her children from those relationships. The Overton and Spencer children are in the household with their mother in 1930 and 1940 censuses.

Hannah's last husband was Washington Lyons. Hannah Lyons outlived another husband. Washington died 21 Sep 1990. Hannah died 08 May 1992. Hannah died in Copiah County, MS.

I followed Hannah by following her children. Searched her death date, was not successful because I was looking for Hannah Spencer. I found Hannah Lyons on an Ancestry tree with the same set of parents named on my family tree. Found her on Find a Grave and searched for an obituary to verify it was the same person, she was.

How does Hannah connect to my family tree?
Hannah married my paternal grandmother's brother, Edgar Overton. Hannah's sister, Mary Gary, married my paternal grandmother's brother, Harmon Usher.

Hannah's photograph courtesy of Albert Benjamin Spencer, Jr
Hannah's headstone photograph from Find a Grave


  1. It amazes me how you connect all these people with your family, and how fascinating the stories are. Can you imagine a young woman having experienced all of these things so early in life, and the kind of resilience that she she exhibited.

  2. Their resilience amazes me too. They put one foot in front of the other one and just kept going.

  3. It is amazing. Guess they had to. There were those children to raise after all the husbands died. How sad. Good searching. sometimes those name changes are maddening.

  4. They combined their talent, time, resources together to raise their children. He needed her and she needed him.