The rule in family history research is that you start with somebody you know and work backwards, through the birth, marriage and death records, matching them with the censuses, to discover their parents, grandparents and family groups.
And so we are starting with Clarence Monroe Barnes. How much we find will depend on how many of the Tennessee and other state primary records have been digitized and are available online. No doubt some research will need to be carried out by members of the Barnes family visiting the state and county archives to find the actual records, especially when the online information is only a list of names in an index, not the details to be found on the actual record.
In March 2015, my friend told me that his great grandfather was Clarence Barnes, who married Arkie Cox.
Clarence’s step father’s surname was Hensen. He had been married and had children before he married Clarence’s mother, Martha.
Some of the family say that Clarence’s father’s name may have been William but others disagree.
The family legend is that Clarence’s father is buried in the same place as Clarence’s mother but that there is no tombstone. This has not been verified by the family.
There is no oral history going back before Clarence as Clarence’s father had died when Clarence was young. It was assumed that Clarence’s father died as a relatively young man.
It is thought that the family had moved from North Carolina to Tennessee at some time and that the family lived in the area where Hardeman, McNairy and Chester counties met. And that they were farmers.
The question is: Who were Clarence’s ancestors?
We begin our journey backwards in time with the most recent United States Federal Census available to us.
1940: 10th Civil District, Chester, Tennessee (Rural, Hardeman)
|Barnes Monro C||married, head of the household, aged 35|
|Arkie||married, wife, aged 35|
|Virginia||daughter, aged 17|
|JC||son, aged 15|
|Geneva||daughter, aged 11|
|Cox Mattie||mother in-law, aged 76, widow, same residence in 1935|
Clarence was noted as a farmer working on his own farm. He and Arkie had been resident in Hardeman on 1 April 1935. They worked 45 weeks, 16 hrs per week in 1939 and had other income sources. Both were born Tennessee.
Due to emergency war time conditions in 1940 the birthplace of parents was supplanted by other questions on the census concerning the type of work.
Arkie was listed as having given the information and all three children were marked as temporarily absent from home.
1930: Massey, Chester, Tennessee
|Barnes Monro C||married, head of the household, aged 25|
|Arkie||married, wife, aged 25.|
|Virginia||daughter, aged 7||(transcribed as Vegina)|
|JC||son, aged 5||(transcribed as JO)|
|Geneva||daughter, aged 1||(transcribed as Jeneva)|
Clarence was a farmer and they worked and lived on rented farm.
Neither Clarence nor Arkie had attended school but could read and write.
They were both 17 when they married.
Clarence, Arkie and their parents were born in Tennessee.
It seems that in 1930 Clarence and Arkie were farming a rented farm in Massey, Chester but then moved to Hardeman. Between April 1935 and April 1940 they moved to live with Mattie. Clarence took over the running of the farm and it was classed as his farm. From their ages in 1930, it seems they had been married eight years at the time of the census.
Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, lists their names and the date and place they married:
Clarence Barnes married Arkie Cox in June 1921 in Hardeman, Tennessee.
As it is only the index, it is possible that additional information may be obtained by visiting the archives to see the actual marriage license or record.
1920: Civil District 2, McNairy, Tennessee
|Hensen W. C.||married, aged 52, farmer|
|Martha||married, aged 47|
|Clarence||stepson, aged 15|
|Burford||son, aged 12|
|Delphia Pearl||daughter aged 10|
|Grandwill A||son, aged 7|
The 1920 census confirms that Clarence’s stepfather was WC Hensen and that his mother’s name was Martha.
1910: Civil district No 2, McNairy County, Tennessee
|Hensen W. C.||aged 42, second marriage|
|Martha||aged 37, wife, second marriage,||mother of 7 children, all living|
|Artie Barnes||daughter, aged 15, born c1895|
|Lizzie Barnes||daughter, aged 13, born c1897|
|Sarah Barnes||daughter, aged 11, born c1899|
|Clarence Barnes||son, aged 6, born c1905|
|Burford Barnes||son, aged 3, born c1907|
The children of W C Hensen’s first marriage were listed.
Martha and W C Hensen had not yet been married one full year. They had an infant daughter 2 months old, no name given.
The census lists five children with the Barnes surname, all born Tennessee, father born North Carolina, mother born Tennessee. Unfortunately, it doesn’t indicate which county they were born in.
With the infant Hensen plus the five Barnes children living with Martha and W C Hensen, there must be another Barnes child elsewhere, probably the eldest.
Clarence’s relationship to WC Hensen was mis-stated as son instead of stepson.
Martha and both her parents were born in Tennessee but unfortunately it doesn’t tell us which county they were born in. However, Martha was 37 which means she was born c1873.
[Ages on censuses are not always accurate and the most we can do is calculate an approximate birth date. We use the Latin term ‘circa’ abbreviated to ‘c’. It gives us a clue to when we should look for a birth record.]
Birth of Clarence Monroe Barnes
Place of birth: County: Hardeman, City or town: Middleton, Civil District 9
Date of birth: June 18 1904. Sex: Male
Father: William Alexander Barnes, born Hardeman County, Tennessee.
Mother’s maiden name: Martha Evelyn Vaughan, born Hardeman County, Tennessee.
The parents were married and Clarence was the fifth child of the mother.
Source: Tennessee, Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909
Clarence was 73 when he died. He and Arkie had been together since they were 17.
They were both buried at Woodville Cemetery, Woodville, Chester County.
Clarence M Barnes: birth June 18 1904, death October 5 1977.
Arkie Cox Barnes: birth July 25 1904, death July 11 1988.
Source: Per Find a Grave Index, 1600s to Current
Next: William Alexander Barnes