Tag Archives: Sarah Jane Page

Favorite Discovery ~ That 20 Year Brick Wall ~ #52Ancestors Week 7

favoriteMy maternal Great Grandparents Pleasant Smith and Sarah Jane Page had been a solid brick wall since I began researching over 20 years ago. Basically, all I had to go on were their names and dates of birth that had been handwritten in my baby book. I had one story about my Pleasant that my mother had told me while growing up, however, it was a wild tale that will probably never be proven. I spent so much time searching for Pleasant that I rarely looked for Sarah, but when I did nothing came up.

About 4 years ago I made the decision to make more of an effort to find Sarah. Before when I couldn’t Pleasant Smith Sarah Jane Page MLfind anything I would get frustrated and move on to my dad’s side of the family. So I began with renewed focus and determination. For weeks I searched using variations of her name, her date, and place of birth and the estimated date of marriage using my Grandfather’s birth date. I searched on many different sites but to no avail. I don’t really remember what I did at the time but suddenly their marriage information popped up. Her name was listed as Sarah J. McDowell! She had been married before Pleasant. I quickly looked for her previous husband and after I verified the information I added his name to the tree. I was surprised at all the information I found.

Sarah Jane Page HS with James NewhouseSarah married the first time when she was 16 years old. I couldn’t find a divorce record so I researched her husband, James McDowell and found he had been remarried before Sarah married Pleasant so I assumed there had been a divorce. I mentioned earlier about the wild tale I was told about Pleasant, well maybe some of it had been true. I have never found a death record or any record for him after the birth of my Grandfather. What I did find was Sarah had been married a total of 4 times, once before Pleasant and twice afterward. Her last husband James Newhouse was her longest one with 44 years of marriage and it was also the one that led me to her Fathers name!

From there I have been able to trace this line back to 1525 in England. The family arrived in Colonial America in 1645 and produced many statesmen and prominent men in the State of Virginia. Many fought in the wars that came and several served in the legislature. I am so glad I didn’t give up trying to find Sarah!

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.


Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Brick Walls, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Sarah Jane Page, Uncategorized

The Broader Technique

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith has always been a mystery. When I first broaderstarted my research over 20 years ago, I only had his name, date of birth and the name of my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I had a few stories that my mother had told me about him when I was younger, but I couldn’t find anything that would validate them. So, I continued to search in hopes of a breakthrough.

I would love to report that the solid cement wall that blocked me from finding any shred of information had fallen down and the life of Pleasant had been revealed. But I can’t. What I can say is I do know a little more about his life thanks to the broader technique.

Sarah Jane Page ML James Newhouse 2It all started when I was trying to break through my Great Grandmothers brick wall a few years back. She was 22 years old when she married Pleasant. Back in the mid-1800s, that was a little late for a woman to get married. I decided to take a second look at the “hints” that came up when I entered her information. I discovered she had gotten married and had a daughter when she was 16.  Her husband died when she was 21 and she then married Pleasant who was 29 years old. Once I had her previous marriage info, I was able to find her parents, her grandparents, etc. I also found her siblings names. As a result, I found that one of her younger sisters had also married a Pleasant Smith! As a matter of fact, after Sarah became a widow she got married again and, on her marriage license, I found that the ceremony had taken place at the home of  Pleasant Smith.

I began to broaden my search into this “new Pleasant Smith”. That is when I found that he was the son of my Great Grandfather and his first wife Charity. I still felt like I did not have sufficient proof that the two Pleasants’ were father and son. I continued my search and found the younger one’s death certificate. His parents were listed, and they matched. However, it was solidly confirmed when I saw that my Uncle was listed as the informant on the certificate.

I am still looking for more records on the elusive Pleasant Sr. I know someday I will find what I am searching for. Because of this experience I have applied this “Broader Technique” to some of my other brick walls with great success. When I find any name that is listed on marriage licenses, wills, deeds etc. I make a note of them along with any dates or where they lived. Then I take the time to research that person. You never know who your ancestor may have crossed paths with. You can also use the U.S. Federal Census as a guide. Research your ancestors’ closest neighbors. Sometimes they have had interactions that have been documented and it may lead you to new discoveries. Sometimes we need to broaden our search field to find the hidden treasures!


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.



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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Broader Technique, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Missouri, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


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Filed under Ancestry, Creek Indian, Death, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Marriage, Missouri, Native American, Page Family, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Story telling, Uncategorized

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for 2015 – Week #1 My Great Grandmother: Sarah Jane Page

Sarah Jane Page HS with James NewhouseI am already late on the first one. Not a great start to this challenge, however, it motivates me to do better.

For the first week, the challenge was “Fresh Start”. This is very appropriate since I finally broke through a brick wall recently and I can give my Great Grandmother, Sarah Jane Page a fresh start.

I wrote a blog about her in June 2014. At that time I knew very little about her and I asked for any hints on discovering more. Thankfully some of my great readers did just that!  So I have spent the last 6 months researching further and several entire generations unfolded before me.

In the blog ( http://tinyurl.com/kujaxr8 ) I told about the 8 mysteries surrounding Sarah.  The first Mystery was what happened to her first husband James R. McDowell? I have discovered that James was still alive in 1895 as he signed and gave permission for their 16-year-old daughter Leona to get married.

For Mystery #2, I will have to assume that my Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith must have been murdered sometime between 1882 and 1887. This is much earlier than I had originally thought.  Also for this Mystery, I found that there may indeed be some truth to how Pleasant died. Over the past 4 months, I have found 5 Smith cousins that I didn’t know existed. It has been great. In talking about the family history I heard the same story as I told about his death from 2 of these cousins. They brought it up first so I feel it has more merit than before.

For Mystery #3, I discovered the name of Sarah’s’ 3rd husband. It was John Carter Farris and they were married in 1887. John Carter Farris died in 1892 and they had no children.

Mystery #5 was who Pleasant Smith married to before my Great Grandmother? I found that he had married a woman named Charity Smith in 1869 and that she is the mother of my 2x Great Uncle Pleasant Smith Jr.

In Mystery #7 we find that Sarah was listed as “divorced” in the 1900 Census. Upon further examination, we find that her Step-son/Brother-in-law gave the information and it was incorrect. James was found in Southern Missouri working for a coal camp in 1900. They were just separated by necessity.

There is still a lot of mystery surrounding this small branch of my tree but I know if I stay diligent I will continue to fill in those little blanks a little at a time. Unfortunately, this is not how I typically do things. I prefer the “bulldoze your way through” method. I guess I am learning patience.

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


Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Pleasant Smith, Sarah Jane Page

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 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.


Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History