Sunday, March 15, 2015

Looking beyond the shaking leaf

When I first started looking for the parents of John FM Bails, I got several hints and all of them listed Caleb Bails as his father.  In 1850,  Caleb was listed on the 1850 Greene County census with a son named John who was born in 1846. Everything about this looked good enough on paper, but something about this did not seem right. For one thing, there was not a single person in my family named Caleb. I rationalized by saying that they could have had a son named Caleb who died at a young age, but I still had serious doubts.

Next I found John's death certificate on an index and ordered a copy. The death certificate said unknown. This was really disappointing! 

So, I ordered John's complete Civil War file from NARA. It cost about a sixty dollars and contained more than 100 pages. Reading through the depositions, I found one by Dr. John Blair White, who stated that he was John FM's uncle. That was very interesting because my G Grandfather had a cousin who visited him named White. First guess would have been that this was his wife's cousin because my G Grandfather married a woman with White as a last name. However, one on my Aunt's was sure that it was my Great Grandfather's cousin.

So, I began to search for Beals, Bales, Bails or Bailes who married a woman with the last name White. I found Thomas Beals and Martha Emeline White. They were married on September 10, 1840 in Greene County. Martha Emeline White's parents were well documented (Frederick Tillman White and Deborah McNeese) and she had a brother named John Blair White who was the doctor in John F M's Civil War pension file!

So, I began to search for this family. On the 1850 census, John is listed as Francis M Beals. On the 1860 census, he is listed as John FM Bayless. I believed that I had found the right family! Later, I found additional court records to confirm this.

When I found Thomas Beals, this was the first time that I had seen the name spelled this way. In the years since this first discovery, I have been able to document this family back to John Beals and Mary Clayton, who were married in 1682 at Chester Monthly Meeting in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.


  1. I'm so grateful for your contribution to our family history!

  2. Thank-you, I love doing this.