Gleaning Info for 4 Generations Using Obituaries/Funeral Programs (Part 2)

Tie together obituaries with online and offline research to flesh out a branch of your ancestral tree.

This post is one of two that documents the process of tracing family members starting with obituaries. For part one, click here.

When we left off in post one, we had the following information:

    1. Obituaries/Funeral Programs for: a set of parents (Alma Singleton and Burl Singleton), one child (second mentioned and a third possible): (Beatrice Singleton, mentioned: Ruby Carter, possible: James Burl Singleton), a granddaughter (Regina Singleton Hillman-Durr), possible grandson (James Clyde Singleton), and possible great granddaughter (Christine Singleton) (1892-1996; 104 years of history)
    2. A possible family church: Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, 2151 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago IL 60612
    3. A possible family mortuary: A.A. Rayner/Raynor and Sons
    4. One alleged relational tie to the Atlas family and the names of other Atlas’ mentioned in the services: Louise Atlas; Cordell Atlas, Joseph Atlas, Harry Scott, Joe Scott.
    5. Family locations: Lake Providence, LA, St Louis, MO, and Chicago, IL
    6. Names of likely living descendants

Now, it’s time to move into the online and offline research phase.

Alma Singleton

  • East Carroll Parish, LA Marriage Records, 1912 to 1918, Book 1, Page 599 (1) Burley Singleton to Alma Gray, June 10, 1917 in Lake Providence, LA. Parents names are noted as King Atlas and Clora Atlas of Lake Providence, LA.
  • East Carroll Parish, LA Marriage Records, 1906 to 1912, Book H, Page 557 (2) Eddie Gray to Alma Atlas, May 25, 1910 in Lake Providence, LA
  • 1940 US Census (3) – Listed as Alma Singleton, living in Lake Providence with children Beatrice Singleton, Ruby Lee Singleton, and James Burl Singleton (listed as James Earl). This confirms one of the three children we had suspicions about. (James Burl).
  • 1930 US Census (4) – Listed as Alma Dellar, married to Albert Dellar, living in Lake Providence with children Joseph Gray (NEW! Confirms the fourth of the four children noted on the obituary of Beatrice Singleton) Beatrice Singleton, Ruby L. Singleton, and James B. Singleton. No license found for the relationship with Dellar.
  • 1920 US Census (5) – Listed as Alma Singleton, married to Burl (listed as Burt) Singleton, living in Lake Providence with children Beatrice Singleton and Ruby Lee Singleton. Henry Hume, noted as a cousin, in the household.
  • 1910 US Census (6) – Listed as Alma Atlas, living in Lake Providence, in household with parents King and Clora Atlas. Siblings: Evelina, Louise (Confirms relationship of Louise Middlebrook on obituary of Beatrice Singleton), and Sheridan.
  • 1900 US Census (7) – Listed as Alicia Atlas, living in Lake Providence, in household with parents, King and Clora Atlas. Siblings: David, Ella, Sheridan, Nancy Marshall, Joseph Marshall, and Wesley Marshall (NEW!)
  • Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1878-1907 and 1921-1988. Alma Singleton died November 22, 1969 in Cook County, IL, file number 634384.(8)
  • State of Illinois Medical Certificate of Death – State File Number 634384(9) Alma Singleton, negro, born June 17, 1892 in Lake Providence, LA, died November 22, 1969 in Chicago, Cook, IL. Parents names: King Atlas and Clora Unknown. Hospital clerk was informant.
  • Burial, Lincoln Cemetery, Alsip, IL 

Burl Singleton

  • East Carroll Parish Marriage Records, 1912 to 1918, Book 1, Page 599 (1), marriage to to Alma Gray, noted as Burrell.
  • 1930 US Census (12) – Listed as Burrell Singleton. Living in Chicago, IL; married to Esther Singleton.
  • 1920 US Census (5) – Married to Alma Atlas Singleton, living in Lake Providence, LA.
  • Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, Burl Singleton, died January 25, 1943.(10) Wife’s name noted as Esther.
  • State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics – Certificate of Death(11) – Burl Singleton, born about 1890 in Jackson, MS. Parents names unknown. Wife’s name is Esther Singleton. Wife was informant.
  • Burial, Burr Oak Cemetery, Blue Island, IL – A database for this cemetery use to exist at burroak.net, but it has sense been removed. Click here for a press release regarding the cemetery.

We learn through the example of Burl Singleton that spelling means nothing when it comes to family history and genealogy research. He’s noted as Burley, Burrell, and Burl.

One could also infer that we should think of 18th, 19th and 20th century birth dates in the same way – using decades for searches rather than an exact dates when a family bible doesn’t exist or the locality of birth didn’t mandate record keeping at the time of birth. Burl has two different birth years listed – 1885 and 1890 – but they are within a five year time span. They take place during a period we refer to as “The Black Hole.” Click here to read more about how to find records during this time period.

History on the A.A. Rayner Mortuary website notes that Mr. Rayner worked at Metropolitan Funeral Home in Chicago until he established his own mortuary in 1947. This confirms the connection between the two.

Beatrice Singleton

  • State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics – Certificate of Death (14) – Beatrice Singleton, born September 17, 1915 in Louisiana. Parents names: Alma Atlas, Burl Singleton. Informant: Hospital Clerk.
  • Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1878-1907 and 1921-1988. Beatrice Singleton died March 1, 1972 in Cook County, IL, file number 606666.(15)
  • Burial, Lincoln Cemetery, Alsip, IL – Buried in plot with mother.

We confirmed the names of the three siblings and aunts and uncles for Ruby in census records. A tie to the Atlas family can be seen in one of the 1930 US Census records featuring Beatrice although, without oral history, it would be difficult to surmise exactly if Lewis or Susie Atlas was the blood relation. One could assume that it was Susie since there was a difference in last names, but what if Beatrice and her siblings were children of a sister of Lewis? It’s actually both – Lewis’ father, King Atlas, Jr. and Susie’s mother, Clora Evans Atlas, married and had children. Thus, a husband and wife became step sister and brother and one of their shared siblings was Alma Atlas Singleton.

The additional search for the 1920 US Census record for Lewis and Susie notes a Joseph Atlas who could possibly be the same one listed as a pallbearer at the funerals for Alma Singleton and Beatrice Singleton.  Oral history confirms that it’s actually a grandson of Lewis and Susie, a son their son Joseph.

James Clyde Singleton

Although we don’t have much in the way of online or offline records for James Clyde, the fact that he had a very detailed funeral program helped us fill in the blanks for his other close relations.  We may not have been able to find him on the 1940 US Census if his mother’s maiden name or maternal grandmother’s name wasn’t noted although a wildcard search may have given us a hunch that the listing above was him.

Christine Andrea Singleton

  • State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics – Certificate of Death (19) – Christine Andrea Singleton, born November 7, 1965 in Chicago, IL. Parents names: Joyce Turner and James Clyde Singleton. Informant: Joyce Sinquefield.

The same holds true for James Clyde’s daughter Christine as it does for him.

Additional Findings

A look at the family plot for the Singletons notes a couple of non-collateral family members; Junious Belton and David Carter.  As indicated above, David Carter was the son in law of Alma Singleton.  Without oral history, it would have never been known that Junious Belton was the biological father of Alma’s granddaughter, Regina Singleton (referred to as Regina S. Hilman Durr).

Conclusion

When gleaning information from obituaries/funeral programs, all types of sources must converge to give you a clear picture of your ancestors or relatives.  We can’t rely only on things online, or things offline, or completely disregard oral history or family history interviews. We also can’t be so confined to spelling or dates, even if a family member appears to be “sure” about something.  In all, the more flexible you are, the more you’ll find.

Endnotes

(1) East Carroll Parish Marriage Records, 1912 to 1918, Book 1, Page 599, Burley Singleton to Alma Gray, June 10, 1917. East Carroll Parish Clerk of Court, 400 First Street, Lake Providence, LA 71254. Accessed March 2006. Burley Singleton, age 23 of Lake Providence, LA. Mother’s name is Elizabeth Singleton of Round Lake, MS and father’s name is Richard Singleton of Grace, MS (dead). No former wife. Alma Gray, age 24 of Lake Providence, LA. Mother’s name is Clora Atlas of Lake Providence, LA, father’s name is King Atlas of Lake Providence, LA. Former husband is named Eddie Gray, living. Attestation Signatures: BR Puchuston, AE Davis, Burley Singleton, TL Bass. Marriage bonded by Turner Bass, Witnesses: John Eldridge, BR Puchuston, AE Davis. Marriage performed by Reverend CC Miller. Clerk: John C. Bass

(2) East Carroll Parish Marriage Records, 1906 to 1912, Book H, Page 557
Eddie Gray to Alma Atlas, May 25, 1910.East Carroll Parish Clerk of Court, 400 First Street, Lake Providence, LA 71254.  Accessed March 2006. Marriage bonded by Henry Yarber, Witnesses: Pearl M. Turner, H.G.Fields, Henry Yarber. Marriage performed by Reverend J. Kent, Clerk: George Blackburn.

(3) “United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VYR1-6ZN : accessed 8 April 2015), Alma Singleton, Lake Providence, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 18-5, sheet 65A, family 300, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 1399.

(4) “United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMYC-Y98 : accessed 8 April 2015), Alma Dellar in household of Albert Dellar, Lake Providence, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0004, sheet 16A, family 430, line 15, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 792; FHL microfilm 2,340,527.

(5) “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MVQ2-VVN : accessed 8 April 2015), Alma Singleton in household of Burt Singleton, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing sheet 13A, family 353, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,611.

(6) “United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPTT-WCN : accessed 8 April 2015), Alma Atlas in household of King Atlas, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 42, sheet 14A, family 204, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,374,526.

(7) “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MS53-MNC : accessed 8 April 2015), Alicia Atlas in household of King Atlas, Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing sheet 10B, family 231, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,240,564.

(8) Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Cook County Clerk. Cook County Clerk Genealogy Records. Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, IL: Cook County Clerk, 2008. Alma Singleton, file number 634384. Accessed April 8, 2015.

(9) Death Certificate for Alma Singleton, 22 November 1969, File No.634384, Illinois State Board of Health. Digital copy obtained from Cook County IL  Clerk (http://www.cookcountygenealogy.com), accessed April 8, 2015.

(10) “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQD7-TQD : accessed 9 April 2015), Burl Singleton, 25 Jan 1943; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1,953,845.

(11) Death Certificate for Burl Singleton, 25 January 1943, File No. 5776, Illinois Public Board of Health Archives. Digital copy obtained from FamilySearch Library, 35 N West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, microfilm 1953845, accessed April 11, 2011.

(12)“United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XSGK-3RN : accessed 9 April 2015), Burrell Singleton, Chicago (Districts 1001-1250), Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 1092, sheet 12A, family 174, line 4, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 459; FHL microfilm 2,340,194.

(13)“United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V1VV-LDN : accessed 9 April 2015), Burl Singleton, 1942; citing NAID identifier 623284, NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 2,339,637.

(14) Death Certificate for Beatrice Singleton, 1 March 1972, File No.606666, Illinois State Board of Health. Digital copy obtained from Cook County IL  Clerk (http://www.cookcountygenealogy.com), accessed April 8, 2015.

(15) Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Cook County Clerk. Cook County Clerk Genealogy Records. Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, IL: Cook County Clerk, 2008. Beatrice Singleton, file number 606666. Accessed April 8, 2015.

(16) “United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VYR1-47M : accessed 9 April 2015), James Clyde Serghlin in household of Elmer Duncan, Lake Providence, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 18-5, sheet 66B, family 597, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 1399.

(17)  “United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMYZ-47D : accessed 14 April 2015), Beatrice Singleton in household of Lewis B Atlas, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0005, sheet 11A, family 293, line 13, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 792; FHL microfilm 2,340,527.

(18)  “United States Census, 1940,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VYR1-47M : accessed 14 April 2015), James Clyde Serghlin in household of Elmer Duncan, Lake Providence, Police Jury Ward 3, East Carroll, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 18-5, sheet 66B, family 597, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 1399.

(19)  Death Certificate for Christine Andrea Singleton, 17 September 1989, File No. 617918, Illinois State Board of Health. Digital copy obtained from Cook County IL  Clerk (http://www.cookcountygenealogy.com), accessed April 8, 2015.

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