A week ago Wednesday I wrote a blog for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks about my favorite discovery. I wrote how, after over 20 years of searching I finally found information on my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I also express my frustration with the fact that I still had no leads on my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. It is amazing what a difference a week can make.
I am still missing a huge amount of documentation and facts about Pleasant but last weekend when they offered the free searches on Newspapers.com, I took advantage of it. Let me tell you a little background before I move forward. I have Pleasant’s date of birth because it was written in my baby book. I know this is not evidence nor proof however all of the other names and dates have proven correct, so I believe this one is also. I do have my Great Grandparents’ marriage records and his name on my Grandfathers death certificate. I also have the wild tale my mother had told us when we were growing up. It was that Pleasant had been a Creek Indian and he was murdered, dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks because he had left the tribe. His remains were found before the train came. No time frame was given so from Sarah’s marriage to her third husband in 1894 I assumed he must have died prior to that.
Now to my latest discovery. I knew that my Great Grandparents had lived in the Dover Missouri area. So, I looked in the Lexington Intelligencer newspaper for his name and gave it a 10-year window from his death date estimation for searching. Imagine my surprise when a Pleasant Smith popped up. I read the short article and thought this can’t be him. This person had been arrested in 1890 for burglary and larceny of a store in Waverly, Missouri. He was being sentenced to 3 years at the Missouri State Penitentiary. I started to “turn the page” when I noticed one of the men who were also named in the article. The name was John Page. I realize this isn’t solid proof, but Sarah had a brother named John! I kept searching and found 2 more articles about the burglary and sentencing. I then went to the website for the State Penitentiary and found his intake information. Again, not proof but it described Pleasant as fair-skinned with blue eyes. My Grandfather and my mother had fair skin and blue eyes. At least I have a lead I can try to follow.
I contacted the Missouri Historical Society which holds the Penitentiary files and they told me they will send me all the information they have on him. I am excited to see where this may lead. Now I am thinking that the “story” my mother told us was either part of her mental illness or it may be that the family was so embarrassed by Pleasant’s actions that they made up the story. I also am thinking maybe Pleasant and Sarah got a divorce before she got remarried and he wasn’t dead.
I anxiously await the information from the Historical Society and now I believe I have been able to knock one more brick off Pleasant’s wall.
My dilemma is: where to go next in finding his death information. Any Suggestions?
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.