Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Calvins

What follows represents the work of a lot of people. To get to the point where we are today took a great deal of careful work.  I haven't really done any of it.  This is just what I know through the gracious counsel of many others to whom I am eternally thankful.

The Starting Point

Hardy Hiram Pittman
The safest place to start this discussion is with my great grandfather, Hardy Hiram Pittman (1869 - 1934). We know that his father's name was Calvin from the Census record, and that his mother's name was Caroline.

Finding the parentage of Calvin Pittman from Marion County MS is tricky.  You see, through a twist of luck, there were two men named Calvin Pittman born in Marion Co, at roughly the same time.  One of them is easily traceable back to Thomas Pittman, and for a long time, I thought that he was my 2nd great grandfather.

Unfortunately, things are rarely that easy, and I have trouble beating 50/50 odds sometimes.  It seems almost certain that the Calvin Pittman who Married Caroline Rowley and had, among others, Hardy Hiram Pittman, was the son of Jacob Pittman and Nancy Gill.

The Trail of Evidence

One of the most daunting things about using US Census records is that before the 1850 census, only the head of household was named.  Everyone else in the household is just a number by the box for the appropriate age, race, and gender group.

In 1850, we find one Calvin Pittman, aged 12, born in Mississippi, living in Louisiana, with the following:
  • Nancy Pittman, 42, born in Mississippi
  • Alfred Pittman, 10, born in Mississippi
  • A Pittman, 8, born in Mississippi
  • Hardy Pittman, 6, born in Mississippi
  • Hiram Pittman, 4, born in Mississippi
 In 1860, we can also find a 23 year old Calvin Pittman living in a Gill Household with:
  • James Gill, 50
  • Nancy Gill, 45 (Not to be confused with the above Nancy, who as we shall see, was once a Gill)
  • Benjamin Gill, 23
  • Emily Gill, 18
  • Amanda Gill, 16
  • James M Gill, 15
Lastly, we know from marriage records that Jacob Pittman married Nancy Gill in 1825.

All of this loosely connected information paints a rather compelling picture that the Calvin Pittman, who married Caroline Rowley, and had a son named Hardy Hiram, was himself, the son of Jacob and Nancy.  It is quite likely that he named his first son after two of his brothers.

Jacob is not seen on record after the 1846 state census in Mississippi.  This is unfortunate, because just four years later, he would have been cataloged along with the rest of his family in the 1850 census.

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