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Breaking through a brick wall

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A brick wall ancestor is one whose parentage is partially or completely unknown. My paternal grandmother’s mother was one such ancestor for me. On my father’s side I’d otherwise had plenty of success finding ancestors; it’s my mother’s side where I keep hitting brick walls only a few generations removed from me.

One of the reasons why I thought I would never find Fannie Dennis’ parents is that the 1910 US Census records her age as 30 (birth year about 1880). I thought that the only census she would have certainly shown up in with her parents was the 1890 one that was almost entirely destroyed in a fire in 1921. She married in 1898. I can find a marriage record for her, but early Mississippi marriage records don’t list the parents of the bride or the groom.

I searched for an 1880 census record for her using both FamilySearch and Ancestry and thought that all of the results were wrong. So, I gave up for a while. Then I decided to take another look about a month ago. It turns out that Fannie was born in 1879 and is indeed listed in the census with her family, but only as “Babe” as she was only nine months old. When it was indexed on FamilySearch, no first name was listed for her at all.

Fannie Dennis in the 1880 US Census recorded as “Babe” Dennis. Screenshot from FamilySearch.
Fannie Dennis in FamilySearch results for the 1880 US Census.

I was pretty sure I had the correct people, but I decided to try and find more evidence. I returned to Ancestry and took a look at the ThruLines chart for Fannie’s potential father Wallace Dennis. It turns out there is a descendant of Fannie’s sister Alabama on Ancestry who was able to take their tree father back than I could take mine originally. This descendant (my third cousin) listed Wallace and Mariah as Alabama’s parents. Alabama was recorded in the census with them in 1890 and 1900.

I was easily able to find Fannie’s paternal grandparents but hit a brick wall with her mother’s parents. The search for Mariah (Herod) Dennis’ parents is the subject of another post.

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