One of my first posts considered the problem I had with my great-great grandparents, John and Nancy Holley, if indeed that’s who they were. The paper trail didn’t match anything I had been told. I know I’m not exactly supposed to believe everything I’m told, but it helps to have accurate information as a starting point.

Years ago, I had sent off for the death certificate of who I had thought my great-great grandmother was, Ann Carolina Rich. I got a letter saying it could not be found. Hmmmm, well, okay. I got on with the research, but going nowhere.

Two months ago, I was reorganizing our library’s genealogy room. I was digging through the last box when I found a book labeled Walnut death records. Walnut, Mississippi is the closest town to where that part of my family lived. On a lark and with a little time to kill, I flipped through the book, not hoping to actually find anything important. I get to the H’s and find this:


The death certificate I had been looking for. Besides the disgust at the state health department for not being able to find the obviously existent certificate, I was in shock.

The paper trail seemed to be wrong.

One, at no point do the names Nancy and Carolina ever appear together in any of my research. Two, the informant’s name J.T. Holly appears on a 1910 census as the name my great-grandfather went by. My dad’s theory is that he had three names, as many of our family tend to have. My theory is that they hated enumerators and told them whatever they wanted just to get them out of the yard. They had no compulsion about mixing names and dates often. So I don’t think I will ever know for sure.


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