Friday, August 12, 2011

Hunting Wabbits...A.K.A. Warrens!

When I think of my Warren branch of the family, and our loss of contact within recent generations, I go through an odd transformation. It begins by getting inspired, then determined, followed by pulling their file for more research - but then my face eventually begins to take on that maniacal look of desperation as so wonderfully demonstrated by my friend Elmur Fudd. He is so representative of the genealogy search! He knows what he wants, he will not give up - nose down and moving forward - but sometimes missing his target as it sits and laughs at him - always taunting and being just out of reach! I apologize in advance for this note of a rather personal and specific nature. However, as the blogs get crawled by search engines, maybe someday, this entry will turn up in a cousin's search result to point them in my direction. I am searching for a specific group of the Warren family from the far Western Kentucky/Tennessee areas.

When I mean searching, I'm not talking about a record search, that I can do and have been doing on my own. I really would like to make some personal contact in the hopes of learning more about our family history as well as hoping they would have a photo or two from this side of the family they would be willing to scan for the rest of us abandoned cousins. Due to a family tragedy, my grandfather Roy Watts and his sister Estelle grew up in a Louisville orphanage with very little contact from the rest of the family. They were the children of James Thomas Watts(1891-1953) and Florence Warren Watts(1898-1923). For more on James' family history, see the previous post about his parents.

I will not plague you with too many details, but here is what we know:
Roy and Estelle's early childhood were spent hopping between Graves County Kentucky and Weakley County Tennessee. We believe the Watts side of the family resided on the Tennessee side of the area, and the Warren family on the Kentucky side - with some cross pollination across the border. Many of the orphanage records for the children have varying places of residence, birth, etc that reflect this transient pattern. We have heard that the two sides of the family did not get along because when this young couple got married (James and Florence m.1914), her Warren side did not approve of her Watts choice. Florence died from tuberculosis at the age of 25 after giving birth to a third child: James Thomas - who either died after being adopted by a Garrett woman from Alabama, or put in another orphanage down south - based on some conflicting family reports - apparently there was a scandal attached to this adoption and we have only gotten a few willing blurbs about the incident.

Roy and Estelle's father was still alive, but handicapped and had to move around a lot in order to find work. Since both sides of the family were at odds, Florence and James' wish at her death was to put the children in a home for a better chance. After entering the Christian Children's Home in Louisville, which was quite far away from the remaining family units, there was minimal contact with the children. James wrote some letters to his children, as did Florence's sister Mae Warren Wiggins. **Aunt Mae was in contact with the family again in the 1980s before her death, but we've even lost contact with her children.

Roy visited the Mayfield area back in the 50s or 60s to reconnect with some of the family, but sadly, no one brought forth much about the family, or he didn't take any notes. Roy and Estelle had a picture of their father since he didn't pass away until the 1950s (seen here), yet, went all of their lives without any picture of their mother. Mention was made of pictures existing, but none were ever shared - which would have been hard to do back then. Roy said one member of the family showed him a small newspaper clipping with a school group photo - which included his mother as a teenager. He spoke of this photo a lot and always told me I resembled his mother (my great-grandmother), and we assumed it was because we were told she had blond hair - my hair was blond when very young, and light brown when older. However, none of us have seen this photo, let alone any other photos from the elusive Warren clan.

My appeal goes out to any living cousins out there that may be descended from this bunch. The family unit that Florence came from is as follows:

John and Asalee (Azalee) Gray? Warren

Mae (married a Wiggins)
Edna (also married a Wiggins)
+ a few others, whose names I don't have on hand at the moment.
This family group can also be seen here in this 1900 Graves County Kentucky census clip:

I have some notes (oral accounts) that list the parents of John as James and Cordelia (?) Warren. As for Asalee above, we heard she was a Gray and in the above census household, Timpa Gray, the "mother in law" was living with them at the time. We had heard her name as Tempy, but always assumed it was short for Temperance. Imagine our surprise when I found this amazing tidbit in Findagrave:

Birth: Mar. 7, 1827
Death: Feb. 17, 1903

Tempay Warren Gray was a 73 year old living with her daughter Azalee and husband John Warren listed in the 1900 census.
wife of R. Warren and E. Grey
High Hill Cemetery
Graves County
Kentucky, USA

Soooo, she was married to both a Warren and a Gray...thanks Grandma for making as this clear as mud! This one alone is why I need to make some physical field trips down to the home counties....planning for a trip soon, Mom is chomping at the bit!

In order to snag some more cousins, here is a couple of obits that might ring a bell: one for Arthur Warren, Florence's brother, and one for Arthur's son Aubrey aka "Jay" in Calloway County Kentucky - both died in 1983.

As a final note, please do not be alarmed by Elmer Fudd and his shotgun, I am not literally hunting you as he would.....but we would be thrilled to restore contact to this branch of our family.
Btw, many thanks to the Watts cousins out there - you know who you are - who found my web site years ago and sent me some wonderful pedigree info and photos of our ancestors!
To the rest of my readers - thank you for the long indulgence. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programing.
**Newspaper articles taken from the Mayfield Messenger (1923,1983), with the exception of the last obit from the Murray Ledger Times.



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