My grandfather was from Knoxville, and his mother was born in nearby Anderson County. Early on in my genealogy journey, I could provide a paper trail establishing that William and Elizabeth Adkins were my 3rd-great-grandparents. But I soon learned that researching East Tennessee prior to 1850 can be an exercise in futility, especially for beginners who may be relying solely on census, probate, and vital record groups to establish identity. I was certainly guilty of that. Even as my research skills grew, every time I would re-visit the Adkins family, I would get frustrated with the lack of information outside of census records, and give up on them again.
Research Goal and Plan
Recently I decided to research this family again, this time with a specific goal in mind: Identify the parents of Elizabeth Adkins. I started by reviewing the documents I already had before establishing a research plan.
Martha Jane Adkins
One of the first documents I re-examined was the death certificate for Martha Jane Adkins Horton. It had been several years since I looked at it, and I wanted to reassure myself that I had placed Martha Jane - my direct ancestor - in the correct Adkins family.
Martha Jane died in Knoxville on 26 May 1926, and a digital copy of her death certificate is now available at Ancestry.1 A partial transcription and the full image follows:
1. Place of Death:
2. Full Name: Martha Jane Horton (Mrs.)
3. Sex: Female
4. Color or race: White
6. Date of birth: March 24, 1853
7. Age: 73 years, 2 months, 1 day
8. Occupation: at home
9. Birthplace: Tennessee
10. Name of Father: William Atkins
11. Birthplace of father: Tennessee
12. Maiden name of mother: Betsy Jane Disney
13. Birthplace of mother: Tennessee
16. Death of death: May 26, 1926
19. Place of burial or removal: New Gray Cemetery
Date of burial: May 28, 1926
|Death certificate of Martha Jane Horton, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1926|
Next up: Nancy Horton
- Knox County, Tennessee, death certificate no. 808 (1926), Martha Jane Horton; digital image, "Tennessee Death Records, 1908-1958," Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Dec 2015).