Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finding my Great Great Grandfather: Clyde Cole

When I first started out doing genealogy, I started asking my grandparents what they knew about their grandparents. What were their names? When and where were they born? My grandmother could tell me her grandparents names and where they died, making her side of the family easier to research than my grandfather's. My grandfather knew the names of all his grandparents and where they were buried as well. All except one... his paternal grandfather, he only knew his name was Clyde Cole.

My great grandfather's name is Lonnie Cole. He was born 13th of  April, 1917, near Desoto, Dallas, Texas to a Clyde Cole and Laura [Willis] Cole.

Lonnie Cole's Birth Certificate from Dallas County Birth Certificates 

With names, I then went to find Lonnie, Clyde and Laura in the 1920 United States Federal Census. In the 1920 census Lonnie is listed with his parents and two siblings, Arles and Leola. They are living in Justice Precinct 5, Dallas, Texas, next door to Laura's parents, Miles and Lucinda Willis, and down the street is another Cole. Could this be a relative? Clyde Cole, according to the 1920 census is 24 making him roughly born in 1896.

In the Dallas area there were four other Clyde Cole's who were all born in a 6 year period of each other. Which Clyde could be the father of Lonnie and his siblings?

I started to research each of the four Clyde's and their families to learn more about their lives. One Clyde stood out to me as a match to the Clyde in the census and birth certificate. His name is Clyde Howard Cole.  
Clyde Howard Cole: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
This Clyde Cole was born near Desoto, Texas (note: on Leola's birth certificate it has her father's birth place near Desoto.) Another thing that stood out was that he used his wife and 3 children as an exemption from the draft. I then went back to see if the other Clyde's would have had 3 children... during 1917 when the Registration was filled out - they did not. At this time I am starting to come to the conclusion that this Clyde is Lonnie's father.

I took a trip to the Dallas County Central Library, where they have a great genealogy section, looking for Clyde Howard Cole's Obituary. "Cole, Clyde... Survived by wife, Mrs. Lizzie Cole; daughters, Mrs. Mary Ann Rasco, Mrs. Faye Digby, both of Dallas: son J. V. Raburn: brother, John E. Cole: fourteen grandchildren: eight great-grandchildren...Dallas Morning News 01-20-1966 Page 4 Location Dallas." Now I have even more names and even more questions. Who are these three children on this obituary? J.V Raburn was the only child in the obituary that was born at the time when the Draft Record was filled out. After researching many obituaries and other records the three children in Clyde Howard Cole's obituary are all from Lizzie's first marriage to a Rayburn, eliminating these three children as the three children in the draft record.

Last year I tested my grandfather (Lonnie's son) with AncestryDNA to try and help solve this family mystery. When the results came back I started going through the results, I realised that a majority of the results had a connection with the Willis surname due to a collapse pedigree and a couple having a total of 92 great grandchildren in 1922. At this time, I was searching page after page for a Cole. I could find no close relation to a Cole. I then got worried, but decided to keep researching on Clyde Howard Cole's ancestry. I started doing descendancy research on his parents and grandparents, (parents: Thomas Howard Cole and Arminta Dora Parks, grandparents: Nathaniel Leonard Cole and Louise Spence.) I notice that many of Clyde Howard Cole's siblings did not have many descendants which might be a reason why I am not finding many Cole's in my grandfather's DNA results. I then started researching Clyde Howard Cole maternal side of the family. Luckily I have found a strange and uncommon surname, Voorhies. As I continue to build out the tree more I am constantly checking my grandfather's DNA results for a Voorhies name.

A Shared Hint appeared one day, before I even looked at it, I remember saying to myself "It has to be another Willis descendant!"  When I opened to see I immediately saw the name Voorhies and could not believe my eyes!  It was a 3rd cousin 1x removed match! I could not contain myself I immediately sent them a message. Once DNA Circles came out I discovered even more descendants of John P Voorhies and Jane Angeline Gullick!

I had finally found out who my great great grandfather was.