My Mysterious Great Grandmother: Sarah Jane Page

mysteryA couple of weeks ago I read a post by a great blogger, Cindy Freed (@GenealogyCircle ). She wrote about some of the mysteries surrounding one of her female Ancestors and she ended the blog with a request that if anyone knew any information about this woman to please contact her. When I told her how much I enjoyed the blog and how I also had a few female Ancestors that seemed to be hiding the facts of their lives from me, Cindy suggested I write a blog about them. Who knows, I may not only find the answers I seek but some new “cousins” as well.

My first mystery Ancestor is my Great Grandmother, Sarah “Sallie” Jane Page. Until about 2 months ago the only thing I knew about her was her name, where she was born and her birth date and year. I had posted on a very helpful Genealogy Group on Facebook and one woman found her in the 1900 Census by a different last name but my Grandfather John Pleasant Smith was living with her. From there I was able to piece together enough to broaden my search of her. This is what I have found thus far:

Sarah Jane Page (Sallie) was born March 11 1860 in Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri. I found her death certificate that shows she died July 5, 1938 in St. Joseph, Buchannan County, Missouri. From the certificate I found her parents names, George Washington Page and Mary Ellen Smith, and I was able to trace their lines back several generations.

Sarah married James McDowell on December 24, 1876 in Lafayette County. She was just 16 years old. They had one child (that I could find) Leona McDowell born in 1880. MYSTERY #1: I do not know if James died or if they got divorced.

Sarah then married my Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith on April 13, 1882 in Lafayette County. She was 22 years old. They had one child (that I know of) my Grandfather John Pleasant Smith born September 8, 1882, just about 5 months after they got married!  MYSTERY #2: Again I can find no evidence of what happened to Pleasant. The story my Mother told us when we were growing up was this: “Pleasant was a full-blooded Creek Indian Chief. He left the tribe and they were not happy with him. Sometime after my Grandfather was born, Pleasant was murdered and his body was dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks. Whoever killed him thought that when the train came by everyone would think that the train had hit him. However someone found his body before the train came. A few weeks after he was buried a letter came in the mail addressed to Chief Pleasant, with a last name different from Smith. Sarah never opened the letter but sent it back to the sender.”  My Mother never gave us time frames so I am not sure when this was supposed to happen.

Sarah then married a man by the last name of Farres. MYSTERY #3: I cannot find any information or documentation of this. However when Sarah married the next man, this was her last name.

Sarah married James Newhouse on February 28, 1894 at the age of 33. MYSTERY #4: She and James got married in the home of Pleasant Smith who apparently was a son of the older Pleasant by another wife. MYSTERY #5: Who was Pleasant Sr married to before Sarah?

MYSTERY #6: In the 1890 Census (Davis, Lafayette County) Sarah (Newhouse) is listed along with her son John living with Pleasant Smith, his wife Dythia and their two sons, Joe and Daniel Mullens. It lists Sarah as Pleasants’ “sister-in-law” and John as his “brother”.  After finding Sarah’s’ parents I found that she had a much younger sister named Dythia (Dicie) and she had apparently married Sarah’s’ stepson. Are we confused yet? MYSTERY #7:  It also lists Sarah as being divorced (From James Newhouse?).  I can find no evidence of this either. Of the 6 children Sarah was supposed to have had; only one was still living in 1890 (stated in Census).

MYSTERY #8:  In the 1910 Census (Clay, Lafayette County) we find James Newhouse as the Head of the Household, Sarah his wife, Dicie (listed as widowed) and her 2 sons. What happened to Pleasant Jr? Did Sarah and James get re-married?

The 1920 and 1930 Census have Sarah and James still living together.

On Sarah’s’ death certificate it gives her date and location of birth which matched the information written in my Baby Book. Dover, Missouri was a very small town so I concluded that there couldn’t have been two Sarah Jane Page’s born on March 11, 1860 in this small town so this indeed is my Great Grandmother. She died in the State Hospital #2 in St. Joseph, Buchannan County, Missouri. She is buried in the Bates City, Lafayette County, Cemetery.

I have no idea if any of these MYSTERIES will ever be solved, but just writing them down has helped me to focus my research. If you know anything about any of the people in this blog please let me know. Maybe we can help each other!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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