I use Ancestry.com’s Family Tree Maker (FTM) to keep all my research. One great thing about FTM is that it searches Ancestry.com for possible matching records and suggests them to you by way of a little shaking green leaf icon. I was reviewing some of those suggested records today, and it led me to a couple of discoveries, which I shall now share.
Martha Elizabeth Bratton
Martha was the first wife of Ezekial Henry “Sug” Melton (I wrote about his second wife, Minnie Graham, here). I had recorded 1904 as the year of Martha’s death. But a shaky leaf icon was now suggesting a record showing 1903 as the year she died. Which one is correct?
First, I checked the source where I had gotten 1904. It was from Find A Grave, which has a photograph of Martha’s grave marker showing 1904.
Then, I looked at the two sources suggested by the shaky leaf icons. They were both for indexes of Find A Grave records. The first was Global, Find A Grave Index for Non-Burials, Burials at Sea, and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current, and was suggesting a record with a 1903 death year. The second was U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current and linked to the Find A Grave memorial that I had already referenced.
I took a closer look at the memorial with the 1903 death year, for M. E. Melton. It had been created from an obituary published in the Marshall Mountain Wave newspaper, but did not contain any photographs. The obituary read:
Marshall Mountain Wave – Oct 10, 1903
Mrs. M E Melton, wife of Shug Melton died at her home near Red River, southwest of Marshall, last week, after a lingering illness of many months. The deceased was a devoted wife and mother, and her absence will be greatly felt by the bereaved family.
10 October 1903 was a Saturday. “Last week,” to me, would have been the week of 27 September – 3 October 1903. Or it could have been 4 – 9 October, depending upon how you use phrases like “last week” in your neck of the woods. Either way, Martha must have died in early October 1903 (or maybe late September) for the obituary to be published in the Wave on 10 October 1903. Therefore, the 1904 date on her grave marker is wrong. Perhaps the marker was added at a later time when memories had blurred the chronology.
I have amended my family tree to show “circa October 1903” as Martha’s death, and added her obituary as the source.
By the way, “Martha Bratton’s Year of Death” sounds like a great name for a horror novel.
“Sug” or “Shug”?
Ezekial Melton was called either Sug or Shug, depending upon which source you look at. His grave marker shows Sug, but Martha’s obituary above reads Shug. This makes me wonder if the nickname was short for Sugar. If you shorten Sugar, it sounds like Shug when spoken, but would be spelled Sug when written. I have one source for each spelling, so this is a draw.
Ancestry.com. Web: Arkansas, Find A Grave Index, 1809-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Ancestry.com. Global, Find A Grave Index for Non-Burials, Burials at Sea, and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Find A Grave. Martha Britton Melton, Memorial 45159864. Retrieved on Thursday, 4 December 2014.
Find A Grave. M E Melton, Memorial 75365414. Retrieved on Thursday, 4 December 2014.
Find A Grave. Ezekial Henery “Sug” Melton, Memorial 45159814. Retrieved on Thursday, 4 December 2014.