Recently, I wrote a series of articles on the probate proceedings of the Edgar Wilbanks estate in Maud, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. Somehow, I noticed that I had another ancestor in Pottawatomie County at about the same period of time: James M Scott. James was the brother of Sarah F Scott, my 2x great grandmother, and the son of Jesse M Scott and Senia P Malone. Per the 1901 probate records of Jesse Scott’s estate, James was living in Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma Territory in 1901. Shawnee is about twenty miles northwest of Maud as the crow flies. I wondered if Edgar Wilbanks and James Scott had ever crossed paths.
I re-examined my family tree entry for James Scott and discovered that, aside from the mention in the 1901 probate records, I had nothing on him beyond the 1880 census. Infused with new purpose, I set about to determine the fate of James Scott.
Summary of Known Facts
James M Scott was born circa 1852 in Alabama. He was the son of Jesse M Scott and Senia P Malone, who were both originally from North Carolina. Across three censuses, the Scott family kept a farm in Cleburne County, Alabama in Township 15, Range 12. James was single in 1860, 1870 and 1880.
In 1882, James served as the administrator of Jesse Scott’s estate. In 1884, James was replaced as administrator by T. A. Johnson.
Senia Scott died in 1901 and the estate again entered probate. In a Petition to Sell Real Estate for Distribution, dated 28 October 1901, James was reported to be living in Shawnee, Oklahoma Territory. In December 1901, depositions were given by two men, J. M. Brown and O. H. Brown, who stated their belief that James lived somewhere in Indian Territory. There were no further mentions of James in the probate records. Notably, summaries of the estate’s progress through probate were made in January 1903 and January 1904 which detailed all of Senia Scott’s heirs and James was not listed among them.
The ominous omission of James Scott in the probate summaries suggests that he was dead by 1903. He probably died single and childless, as there is no record of a marriage and any surviving children should’ve been included with Senia’s heirs in those probate summaries. James likely died in Oklahoma, as that was his last known location.
Oklahoma Territory was rapidly changing in the late 1800s. In preparation for statehood, the federal government was removing Native Americans from the region and opening up the land to white settlers, attracting homesteaders from across the United States. The land run of 1891 led to the founding of a white settlement called Shawnee, named for the displaced tribe that had been living there. (It was the least they could do.) Shawnee was incorporated as a city on 4 July 1895. James Scott may have been there to participate in the celebration.
Exhibit A: 1900 Shawnee Census
The census was enumerated in Shawnee on 1 June 1900. One J. M. Scott was recorded with his wife and two others in a dwelling on Penn Avenue. Was he our James?
This J. M. Scott was born in September 1852 in Alabama. The birthplaces of both parents was recorded as North Carolina. That exactly fits the known facts about our James.
J. M. Scott had married circa 1892. His wife was recorded as S. I. Scott, born in February 1873 in Alabama. She was nearly 21 years younger than her husband.
Two others were in the household: W. C. Clare, born March 1889 in Missouri, recorded as Scott’s son; and L. B. Newman, born April 1875 in Missouri, recorded as Scott’s uncle.
A closer inspection of the form suggests that Clare was not related to the Scotts at all. Clare’s parents were reported as born in Missouri. Had Clare really been born to the Scotts, his parents’ birthplaces should read Alabama. In the field for number of children born to S. I. Scott, “none” was entered. Clare’s birth also occurred three years prior to S. I. Scott’s marriage, when S. I. would’ve been 16 years old. S. I. Scott was, at least, not Clare’s mother. To be J. M. Scott’s son, Clare was either a child from a prior marriage or he was adopted, but I’ve found no records to support either supposition. Additional research into Clare revealed that his full name was William Chase Clare and he was the son of Thomas Clare and Flora Porter, both of Lincoln County, Missouri. Thomas Clare and his second wife Cora Miles were enumerated in Shawnee in a different dwelling on Penn Avenue in 1900.
Further research into L. B. Newman also revealed no apparent relation to J. M. Scott. Newman was not Scott’s uncle, but Clare’s. Kind of. He was Loyd B. Newman, brother of Ada Newman, who was the mother of Thomas Clare’s second wife Cora Miles. That made Loyd Newman the step-great-uncle of William Chase Clare.
I have no idea why Clare and Newman were recorded as part of the Scott household on this census. Perhaps they were borders. Perhaps it was two separate households accidentally recorded as one. It’s certain, however, that they were not related to the Scotts.
Exhibit B: J. M. Scott’s Grave
Find A Grave has a memorial for a J. M. Scott buried in Fairview Cemetery in Shawnee. The grave is marked by a stone obelisk engraved with a birth date of 2 September 1852 and a death date of 28 January 1901.
The birth date and the location in Shawnee fit the known facts of our James and the J. M. Scott of the 1900 census. If this is our James, the death date would explain why James was no longer mentioned in his mother’s probate records after 1901 and why he was not listed with heirs in the annual reports of 1903-04.
Exhibit C: Alternate Death Date & Spouse
There are several family trees on Ancestry.com that give our James Scott a death date of 3 February 1934. However, and this is important, none of those trees cite a source for that date! Some of those same trees offer that our James married Amanda Lucas in Henry County, Alabama in 1870, had several children with her, and lived in Geneva County, Alabama in 1900, with that census recording James’s parents as from Alabama, not North Carolina. This data contradicts nearly all of the known facts about our James described earlier in this article and is clearly a case of two people with similar names being mixed up. It could very well be that the 1934 death date belongs to the James Scott that married Amanda Lucas, but that is not our James Scott.
I think the J. M. Scott buried in Fairview Cemetery and the J. M. Scott on the 1900 Shawnee census are the same man. The data is also a good fit with the known facts for our James. I think it is very likely that J. M. Scott and James Scott are the same.
Further research into W. C. Clare and L. B. Newman provided no connection to either J. M. Scott nor our James. This appears to be a dead end unless you’re researching the Clare and Newman families.
James Scott’s alternate death date and spouse should be disregarded as the product of poor research, as that information contradicts the known facts.
I think the key lies in figuring out the identity of S. I. Scott. I have found nothing more on her.
Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Township 15 Range 12, Calhoun, Alabama; Roll: M653_4; Page: 455; Family History Library Film: 803004. Record for Jas Scott. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7667&h=12962211&indiv=try
Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Township 15 Range 12, Cleburne, Alabama; Roll: M593_9; Page: 388B; Family History Library Film: 545508. Record for Jesse Scoot. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7163&h=14282573&indiv=try
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1880; Census Place: Pine Thicket, Cleburne, Alabama; Roll: 8; Page: 185A; Enumeration District: 043. Record for Jesse M. Scott. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=6742&h=39829869&indiv=try
Ancestry.com, 1900 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004), Ancestry.com, Year: 1900; Census Place: Shawnee, Pottawatomie, Oklahoma; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0202; FHL microfilm: 1241342. Record for J M Scott. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=7602&h=80406837&indiv=try
Ancestry.com, Alabama, Wills and Probate Records, 1753-1999 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015), Ancestry.com, Record for Jesse M Scott. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=8799&h=1099511627724&indiv=try
Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 10 July 2019), memorial page for J M Scott (2 Sep 1852–28 Jan 1901), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100289305, citing Fairview Cemetery, Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8).
Wikipedia contributors. Shawnee, Oklahoma. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. July 9, 2019, 22:40 UTC. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Shawnee,_Oklahoma&oldid=905563446. Accessed July 11, 2019.