I was shocked to find that literally as I was posting my Madness Monday post this past Monday about Mary Jane Vest I was finding information about her. It was amazing!
Mary Jane Vest 1868-1965
It started last week when I received an email from a woman who saw my post on Dead Fred of some Vest/Hayes family photos. So I drug out my file and began to do some searching, but just as so many times in the past I really had nothing to go on and kept going in circles. I was told that Mary Jane Vest was Germany and also that she lived to be 104 or somewhere around that age. The problem was I didn't know when or where she was born or when she died. I knew she died in OK, but every SS record that I found just did not fit. I knew her son, my great grandfather Martin Hayes was born in 1907, but he wasn't the oldest and I didn't know how much older the other children were, so I couldn't estimate her birth year from that. Her husband James Martin Hayes, I knew when he was born and died but that didn't help with finding information for her. The other problem was I was completely unable to find the family in a census record at all. I found that unusual. I have many families that I can't find them for one of the census years, but to find no census at all was unusual.
The light bulb went on. I realized that I hadn't searched records with a different spelling of the last name. I knew Hayes could be spelled Hayes or Hays, but for some reason I had not researched it as Hays. Well that put a huge hole in my wall. I found them in the 1910 Census living in Black Dog, Osage, OK. In this census I see that Mary has been married more than once. The children from her second marriage are still with her, Annie born 1892, Nannie - 1892 and Charles- 1897 and their last name is Knott. So this gives me a last name for her other husband. Also with them are James and Mary's three children, Pearl - born 1904, Opal - 1906 and Martin (my great grandfather) - 1907. So she had six children, but wait the census says she has seven children. So are we missing a child, or is that a mistake? The family only knew of five of the six listed here. This also told me that Mary was born about 1868-69 in Missouri. What she wasn't born in Germany? Okay so family myth number one is crushed.
Here is a four generation photo of Mary and possibly her daughter Pearl. The girls are possibly Pearls daughters (believed to be twins) and grandchildren.
By 1920 I find them in Hominy, Osage, OK. This time it's just James, Mary and their three children in the home. The others are grown and gone.
Armed with this information I began another search. So I started looking for a Mary Jane Vest born 1868-69 in Missouri as well as using her married names Hays/Hayes and Knott. I still have yet to find her with the last name of Knott. I think that by 1900 Mr. Knott may have already been killed. Oh wait I'm getting ahead of myself. In my second search I found a distant cousin. Not only did I find a distant cousin, but I found the one cousin who is a disendant of the one missing child, Aria Clayton....Clayton? Wait another surname. It turns out that Mary was married three times. She married her first husband, John Charles Clayton, at the age of 15. When Aria was just a toddler her father was involved in a shoot out with the town Marshall and lost. His brothers then got involved in the fight and seriously wounded the Marshal, Tom Allen, but the story doesn't say if he lived or not. Well after the death of John it turns out that the family of John wanted to raise Aria since she was the only child of John. Mary was only about 18 at the time. She may have saw it as a better life for her daughter, whom she was still a part of her life, but it allowed Mary to start her life over. She then went on to marry Mr. Knott and have a family.
By 1930 it's just Mary and James in the home in Hominy, Osage, OK. Also living near by are two other Hays families, possibly James' sibling and not to far away James' 83 year old father Thomas Hays (who lived to be 100 years old) and mother Caroline.
No one is clear as to what happened after that, but somehow Martin and James end up in Turlock, CA where they both died and are buried and where Martin and Lillie Luticia Hoard Hayes raised my grandmother Mary Ellen Hayes and her brothers. Mary continued to live in Hominy, OK. In the end she lived in a rest home in Pawhuska, OK where she died on 11 Apr 1965 at the age of 96.
Finally I had accurate historical data that I could began to really search with. Through emails with the cousin and much more digging I learned that Mary was the daughter of Andrew Jackson Vest and Nancy C Rush Vest. In the 1870 census I find the family living in Greene Township, Polk, MO. There is Jackson Vest - 34, Nancy - 35, Henry J - 4, Mary J - 2, and John - almost 1 yr old. Also living with them is a 60 year old Margaret Rush. I bet I will find she is Nancy's mother. In 1880 I find the family again in Jefferson, Polk, MO. This time however Jackson is not with them. Is he dead by this time? But Nancy, Mary, Henry, and John are in the household as well as an eight year old Emaly Vest and two sons James Simmands- 20 and Thomas Simmands - 18. So was Nancy previously married?
Now that I have broke through the brick wall of Mary Jane Vest Clayton Knott Hayes the paths are leading in all directions and many more questions will arise. But for now I am very happy that I now know about the life of my great great grandmother Mary Hayes. Sometimes you just need to throw the family lore out the window and follow the evidence. Sometimes it's also necessary to play with the facts and change them in order to find incorrectly recorded historical records. I'll keep digging. I'm sure I'll find more now.