The Delayed Birth Certificate–the Final Document in the Book!

Gretnas Greens:
WOW! Many thanks for all the gretna greens that are continuing to pour into my email. I’ll do an update on my post of Feb 19 2007 shortly. Want to do some checking as to dates the gretnas operated. I’ll also include new infomation on the famous Gretna Green of Scotland. So keep the information coming–if you know a gretna green, please share it.

The Final Document in the Book!

Some time ago I mentioned my 200-hour research marathon on hard-to-find ancestors. And my revisit to the Holbrook research in Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee–well the final document in the book cleared up part of the mystery. When I first took over the problem–no one knew there was a problem. I was told the ancestors’ names were Holbrook and Collier. (See post of 26 Dec 2006: Santa Claus Has Been and Gone) No one had any documents to share–no family Bible. No family letters. No birth or death certificates. No documents.

I searched the original marriage records of Russell County VA, where J.C. Holbrook lived. First the microfilm copy at the Family History Library. Then the original bound volume at the courthouse in Lebanon. I asked if there were supporting documents like consent affidavits or a bond or license. None.

J C Holbrook, age 21, born Russell County VA, son of R A and Elizabeth Holbrook, resided in Wise County, married Polly Ann Raney, age 21, born Scott County VA, daughter of John and Rena Raney, resided in Russell County. Married by R A Holbrook, MG, 28 Feb 1870.

Actually, there are two other JC Holbrooks and one John Holbrook in the marriage register. I tracked all three to their deaths. Produced family charts with wife and children and their spouses. While there are intermarriages with people named Collier, none belong to our J C.

However, I goofed–it never occurred to me, at the time, to check in Tennessee for a delayed birth record. I have searched delayed certificates many times, often with great results. Just not this time. Won’t make that mistake again!*
In January, I described reading the Appalachian Quarterly from issue #1 up to the current issues for 2006. (See Genealogy News Sheet Jan 15th) In Feb 2006, a newly updated genealogy, Holbrook on the Clinch, 1798-2005, was published. The quarterly reviewed the book and gave ordering information. I ordered. And it finally came!

From cover to cover I read it. Written by two cousins, one who collected the documents and one who converted the information to book format and added other insights, the book has 432 pp. plus an 82-page Appendix plus 36 documents. Substantial book. Latest info.
I started with the documents, and document 36 is the culprit. A delayed birth certificate. The certificate was filed in Nashville 6 Sep 1949 for John Clark Holbrook, born 26 Nov 1868 in Greenville, Greene County TN, He was the son of John Clark Holbrook of Castlewood VA and Mary Collier of Scott County VA. Who is she?

This delayed certificate has the documentation for this information on the bottom half: 4 documents were used. Section one includes the information on John Clark; section two lists the relevant information from each document:

  1. Original family record, very old: b. 26 Nov 1883, Greene County TN, father John Clark Holbrook, mother not given.
  2. Certified copy of brother’s birth certificate, 10/1/79, Virginia. 1880: b. not given, p. not given, father John C. Holbrook, mother Mary Ann Holbrook.
  3. Affidavit of brother, 6 Apr 1949: b. 26 Nov 1888, Greenville TN, father John Clark Holbrook, mother Mary Collier.
  4. Affidavit of non-relative, 6 Apr 1949: b. 26 Nov 1888, Greenville TN, father John Clark Holbrook, mother Mary Collier.

The first test of any document or set of data is: does everything agree? No. Normal data sets do not agree. If everything agrees, someone has been padding the totes! Probably why research is such fun–the challenge of trying to find out which data are correct. Right?

Ugh! The final document in the book identifies that there was a document–the original family record, very old. Where is it today? There is no mention of it in the Holbrook book. And certainly, I have asked that same question of more than once of my contacts. No documents.
What the book does say on pp. 98-99 is this:

3-Robert Alfred “Bobby” Holbrook, Jr. (11/4/1827) m. Elizabeth Jane “Bettie” Phillips
4-John Clark Holbrook (2/6/1848) m. Mary “Polly” Ann Ramey
5-John Clark Holbrook, Jr. (11/26/1888) m. Elizabeth Amburgey

John Clark is #9 in the family of 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls. On p.152 in the narrative, is this entry:

The wives of John Clark, either 2 or 3, have been somewhat of a puzzle. Several sources list John Clark’s first wife as Mary Ann (or Alice) Collier. This conflicts with the Russell County 1870 marriage record of John C.’s marriage to Mary Ann Ramey. Collier is believed to be in error, and it originates from a Delayed certificate of birth for John Clark, Jr. in Greene County TN. That birth record issued in 1949, 47 years after his mother’s death…

See photo taken about 1890 in “Memories from Dante” of John Clark, and according to the caption, his second wife Virginia, and 9 children by his first marriage, all lined up by age and height… If indeed this photo includes the second wife, Virginia, as stated, then Charles Washington and Maudie were likely children by the second wife. See also notes under daughter Maude, granddaughter Rosie Holbrook, and great granddaughter Mary Elizabeth Holbrook Pennington relative to John Clark’s marriages. Rosie disagrees that there was a second wife, Virginia, or Lettie V., and states that Maude was a daughter of Sarah Tackett.

p. 208: Rosie Holbrook Buchanan, an elderly granddaughter of John Clark, stated on 2 July 2005 at the McCoy Reunion, that Maude was the daughter of Sarah Tackett. However, other researchers show Maude’s d.o.b. as about 1904 which would place her as a daughter of a previous wife… Rosie did not recall John Clark had a 2nd wife, Virginia or Lettie V., as some researchers state. Maude and husband lived at Virgie, Pike County KY. Her father John Clark is buried there, implying that he went to live with Maude prior to his death. Maude C. Holbrook married Ervin Tackett.

I have quoted this long passage, except for some speculative reasoning, to show the value of recording separately those items which are not facts. This represents the latest research on this family–almost all of it confirmed by my 200 hours of research. Actually, my revisit of the Holbrook family research includes duplication of what these descendants have already done. I just found the reference to the new book at the end of my marathon. The Family History Library does not have a copy of the book, nor do the other libraries I patronize on a regular basis.

The puzzle is not erased; it is added to. And other questions are present: who’s in the photograph of a wife who is not conclusively identified? Who is the mother of Maude? The 1910 census includes Charley W. age 19 and 6-year-old Maudie. Sarah is the name of the wife. Is she the mother of these two children? Not Charley, Sarah Tackett and John Clark Holbrook were married 2/7/1906. If Maude’s age is incorrect on the census, she could be Sarah’s child. This, too, is normal. More questions with every search than answers–the challenge and fun of genealogy!

* Revisiting old research is often a good idea–to learn from your mistakes, to identify new proof you overlooked before or did not recognize as relevant, to pose new questions, to discover old questions that are not yet answered, and many more observations we could make. And in this new 21st Century, many more sources are available that were not accessible earlier. New indexes. New commitment from local genealogists who are transferring records to the internet. It’s a winner all around.

Your favorite genealogist of choice, Arlene Eakle

P.S. Afton just received word today that a large book collection is being purchased for our Genealogy Library Center, Inc. by an anonymous donor. What an exciting day it is to be sure! I pick up the books on Friday. Eventually, our booklist will be entered on this website. Watch for it. We will do look-ups and provide copies by postal mail. Fees will be posted with the booklist. AE


Author: MaxErvin
URL: http://
Comment: Arlene, I just found your Feb. post on the Delayed Birth Certificate in Holbrook on the Clinch, and enjoyed your comments. Others are finding that document of much interest, as well. Do you have any insights to the other great mystery in the book — who is Mary Cooksey and when and where did she marry John Holbrook? See my speculative comments, Doc. 35 in the book. Best regards, Max
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