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Maternal lines are difficult to search without any complications of similar names,  multiple marriages and moves.  My 3rd great grandmother is an example of this type of difficulty and of how using deductive reasoning and researching indirect lines can lead to results.

Nancy M. Foster, was the daughter of Anthony Edward and Mary A Foster nee King born July 2, 1838 in Alabama.  She married three times, the first to John M. Buckner, Jr on February 1, 1855 in Blount County, Alabama.  Nancy and John had 4 (four) children and their oldest Mary Jane is my great, great grandmother.  In 1862 when Nancy was 24 and John was 30 years old, he died while serving in Alabama’s 41st Infantry.

When Nancy was 29, in 1868, she married 59 year old Joshua Watson in Fayette County, Alabama.  He had several children from a previous marriage and they then had 6 (six) children together.  They moved to Marshall County, Mississippi for a while and then moved back to Fayette and sometime after 1883 Joshua died.

In 1897 when Nancy was 59 years old she was living in Wise County, Texas and married 65 year old James S. Sailing. Several of her children also lived in this area and she remained there until she died on December 18, 1917.

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During the course of researching Nancy, my mother made contact with another one of Nancy’s descendants who shared a photo with us.  The photo of Jim and Nancy Sailling (above) was taken by Bunnell’s Studio in Decatur, Texas.

On DonnaB’s Weblog, my mother has written about her research of Nancy (also see Further Readings).  Understanding how she successfully researched Nancy is a good way to learn ways to break through those tough maternal lines.

Last summer we took a trip to Alabama and were able to verify some of the details and this weekend we went to Decatur, Texas where Nancy is buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery.  There is no record of her death in the Wise County Courthouse or in the newspaper, which leads us to believe that she may have died in another place and brought to Wise County for burial.

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A few months ago we didn’t know anything about Nancy.  By following the many indirect lines and the details of names on marriage certificates, probate, land and census records we know the names of her parents, spouses, children, and residences where she lived.  I’m thrilled to have the photo of Nancy and remain hopeful to learn about her personality and beliefs to make it a more complete picture.

Further Reading