Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Monday, March 9, 2009

Searching for Ragland Ancestors

Someone once told me that if we trace our family tree back as far as the beginning of time, each of us is related to 1, 011,001 other individuals. Although this is a fascinating story, the number is not an even one, and I simply don't understand the math. But you will have to agree, it certainly explains why a genealogist's search is never complete.

Recently, I began a serious search for my Ragland ancestors. When I say "serious" it means that I have searched before, several times before, in fact, but each time I ran up against those so-called "brick walls." This time, I hope to be more resourceful, more productive, and end up with several Ragland family members that I can add to my tree.

One of the first bits of genealogical data that I discovered when I began to research my family history was that Edward Tillman Branch's wife was named Winiford Ragland. Edward and Winiford were my fourth great-grandparents. Shortly after I found Winiford's name, I searched Mississippi marriage records for the date of her marriage to Edward Branch. According to Hinds County, Mississippi marriage records, Edward and Winiford were married in 1830, when Winiford was barely 18 years old. Born in 1798 in Virginia, Edward was almost 15 years older than his bride.

According to the 1850 U. S. Census taken in Attala County, Mississippi, "Winney" Ragland was born in "LA," but ten years later, her birthplace was shown as "Mississippi." Further research at that time was fruitless, and I was unable to determine neither Winiford Ragland Branch's place of birth nor the names of her parents. I put the information aside, vowing to continue the effort when time allowed.

Later, I was fortunate enough to locate Edward's records of his service in the War of 1812, and to obtain photocopies of the documents from the National Archives. Based on affidavits that Edward submitted in connection with Edward's application for a pension, I found names of some Ragland family members. I put those documents aside for later reference and more research.

Sometime later, while examining deed records for the mid-1800s in Attala County, Mississippi, I accidentally found that Winney Ragland Branch's father may be Arthur S. Ragland. Ironically, Arthur is a name that has been passed on to male Branch family members for several generations now, beginning with one of the sons born to Winney and Edward, Joseph Arthur Branch, my third great-grandfather, and to one of my own brothers. At this point, I knew I was on the right path. But I didn't follow-up. There were other ancestors whose information qualified as "low hanging fruit," and I followed those research paths, instead.

Today, I made a promise to myself that I will complete the Ragland family research that has been started for so long. And I began with a search of Mississippi Land Patents Database. What I discovered was that almost 400 acres of Attala County lands were transferred to Arthur S. Ragland on February 27, 1841. These lands were described as the following:

02/27/1841, 158.88 acres in Section 17, T12N, R5E
02/27/1841, 79.44 acres in Section 17, T12N, R5E
02/27/1841, 159.4 acres in Section 8, T12N, R5E
Now I know that Arthur S. Ragland lived in or near Attala County in 1841, and tomorrow, I plan to begin a search of census records. In a few days, with some diligence and hopefully, some good luck, I may know the name of Arthur S. Ragland's wife, and the name of my fifth great-grandmother.

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