Ambrose Cureton Part 3-Let the Evidence Tell the Story!

Here we go. I have to admit there is no real steps that I am following its really about the evidence and having the ability to ask questions. The plan is to develop it and hope it helps others in their quest in finding slave ancestors. I am still in the gathering and analyzing information mode. It will be ongoing and of course teaching moments will come as well. So it’s all over the place as the questions, new information and thoughts come into my head. But I am focused on Ambrose and finding him prior to 1870 is my goal. First, I have a favor to ask for those who are following this blog on Ambrose, if you have questions or realize I missed something or even have suggestions, please say something. As a researcher there is really nothing about doing research alone. We receive guidance from other individuals and of course the ancestors (listening to the whispers). There are a few things I do follow and need to put them out now, as I am moving along. I know for sure (with about 30 years of experience) that you cannot do all your research and I mean good genealogy research online. It is almost impossible. Warning-the majority of what you are seeing in the blog is from “online research”. So please do not get the idea that online is the end all for genealogy research – because it is not. You will have to access the local records and records in a “House Repository” and all that is in my plan now. Also, I don’t believe that all others quality of research are the same as mine and maybe yours. I follow my simple rules and I let the evidence tell the story and maintain an open mind.

Here is my teaching moment with my rules. They are really are simple and they stick to the basics of genealogical research:

  • FIND IT meaning exhaust your search for information and resources in and around your ancestor. You need to know what records and resources that are available and begin building a TIMELINE on this ancestor. Next you have to…
  • QUESTION IT you have to question the information you are seeing on a document or a resource. What laws were in place to cause this record to be created (I hear Judy G. Russell driving this point all the time, it is now a basic step to my research)? (SO WHAT! has to be done, it’s an art of questioning and exhausting the search. You have to ask SO WHAT to the information, So what -I have Ambrose’s surname-what good is it to me? Will it further my research? What leads or tips is the information giving me and then you ask…
  • WHAT’s NEXT? Where am I going with this information and what information am I lacking? What or who knows what I am missing, is it a record/document that could link to the missing information. Now I want to…
  • BACK IT UP with some evidence, a document or something. It’s how I conduct lineage type research (DAR, SAR)-and I say just simply…
  • PROVE IT-If you say Ambrose Cureton is the father of Govan Cureton you need to locate something that indicates this as a fact and makes good sense. Prove the relationship or the connection that makes the logical connection. I use James Dent Walker’s Rule of 3-to have 3 things to support what you say.
  • Keep in mind the Murphy Rule for genealogical reearch:
    • FOLLOW: the MONEY, LAND, WATER, the COMMUNITY and the FAITH of the people.

I am now coming forth with some of the questions I had from part 1 and what do I know about Tennessee. Do I have any connections in Cocke, Knox, or Loudon County, TN? Is there a genealogy society? Any AAHGS chapters, etc.? What about the Tennessee Archives, they are located in Nashville. I have to answer yes to all. In Knox County, I have now joined the East Tennessee Historical Society and I have a distance cousin living in Knoxville, so another visit will be planned soon. Now for the other counties I will have to rely on the local information. I reached out to J. Mark Lowe a while ago, as many of you know him, as I am looking to hire some help to assist me on this quest. He is known for his expertise on TN-KY! (A new thought just came into my head, hmmm my sister friend Konnetta, a MAAGI student is in Nashville, it might be time for a visit or to hire her, since she is there)

I am realizing I am my own client right now and must continue conducting a thorough and an exhaustive search and building the timeline. As you know timelines are a must to can my information in order. This will be ongoing until I find the slave owner. What I know now, might not be the same tomorrow. Also, when conducting slave research, any research, there is always a chance I might not locate the slave owner or evidence he was a slave. Now that is a fact. There might not be any records to support my goal in seeking Ambrose’s slave owner for various reasons. But, what I do have to do is continue conducting an exhaustive search for information and evidence. So here are some other resources I have now added to my toolbox on Tennessee. Some of these are new to me and I will log them in my brain for other client’s research in other states.

Remember Google is your friend in genealogy and look what I found. TENNESSEE: A GUIDE TO THE STATE Negroes in Tennessee-site

Tennessee Archives-Nashville- I need to learn more about the Archives as in what do they have? What’s the hours, etc., and what’s on the website

Guide to African American Genealogy-Related Documents Prior to 1865

Let’s not forget about the Rootsweb email lists, they are still active. To my knowledge they have all states and counties. Here is Cocke County.

Now to do a bit of follow up with some things questioned in Part 1. I put out a plea on Facebook and my genealogy buddy Andi Cumbo-Floyd shared this Google map to help me understand the Tennessee counties and locations. I needed to understand what North Carolina counties were touching Cocke County.

TN NC counties map

Google TN-NC counties map:

Now I know the specific area I am researching a map helps so much. I will hop in and out of the North Carolina counties in case I see any of my Cureton’s.

Next the Freedmen’s bureau map and using the mapping site (I love this site). I didn’t find a field office in Cocke County or in Loudon Counties. The closest field office to Cocke County is about 50 miles away in Knoxville. Would Ambrose and his family go to that location for assistance after the Civil War? I have to put away my 21st century thinking. Would you go 50 miles to a field office, if you knew about it once you became free? What about North Carolina is there a closer office? I can’t forget the Cocke County is a border county to North Carolina. Madison and Haywood are touching Cocke County. Also, I can’t forget the Mecklenburg County, NC- also in 1870 census there is a white named Govan Cureton located in Mecklenburg NC. (Cocke to Mecklenburg is 3 hours distance). Now I reviewed this census years ago and just put it aside. Now is the time to take a better look at it. There might be some connections to Govan Cureton, Ambrose’s son who has three different birth locations in the various records and death info as well. I don’t want to ignore anything even if it is incorrect, it is still information and it is time to look at it thoroughly. The name Govan is not a common name to my knowledge, sounds kind of biblical. I am going to research Knox County, the Knoxville field office and take my chances, even though I know they went to Loudon after they left Cocke County.

mapping freedmen TN-NC

Now regarding the Post Offices there is a site to go to find listings of the post offices for any state. It is on hold for now; I am waiting for a response to the email I sent for information. My thought is that the Wmsburg Post Office referenced in the 1870 census was only opened for a limited time. But we shall see.

More resources: and it only shows two post offices so still not settled on what Wmsburg Post office is.

Here is an interesting site about Postal histories located on

The Wiki’s are good go to sites for information, it is always worth checking there first:

Using under Birth, Death and Marriage (I love that they put these three together, lol, I think it is trying to tell us something) I see a few Eliza Cureton’s-one who got married in 1896, well she is eliminated, one born in 1823, died in 1906, she would fit the slot except she is white and the wrong husband. Another one who died about 1862, I can eliminate her as well, because my Eliza would still be alive in 1870.

Checking catalog I pulled up the Tennessee County Marriage Records-1790-1950. Just by chance I hope to find anyone in Cocke County that might be linked to Ambrose. Since we looked at the 1870 census you know there was a “wife” named Eliza, and two children; Govan and Elizabeth. There is probably not a record of Ambrose and Eliza’s marriage but you never know what I will find. What I did find is a marriage record for a Mollie Cureton born in 1881. I had Mollie Love’s death record but didn’t know her husband’s first name, Judson. Hmmm.

Mollie Cureton and Joshua Love marriage 1905

Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950″, database with images, FamilySearch( : 21 December 2016), Judson Love and Mollie Cureton, 1905.

mollie love death Tennessee, City Death Records, 1872-1923 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

These two documents raise some interesting questions-it’s time for the SO WHAT action. Now the death certificate says Mollie was born in Cocke County, she dies at the age of 26. The poor thing, she was married in 1905 and died about two years later. Okay back to the death certificate-it lists her father as Ambrose Cureton with his birthplace appears to be Green County, now is that Greene County that is next to Cocke County, or Greene County NC? This is now telling me I need to put Greene County, TN on my to do list and this information will also be added to the timeline. Do you see who the informant is, well Ms. Lula, you are the one providing the information on your daughter and your husband birth location. Hmmm…Now it says that Mollie’s mother is Lula Cureton, and she was born in N. Carolina. Okay, I can go with this and it looks like her last name is Grinway, so now I will have to see if I can locate a marriage record for her and Ambrose. She would be the second wife and married after 1870. I will have to figure out the location-Cocke or Loudon. But, what is interesting is that Mollie is born in 1881 in Cocke County, hmmm…so this helps determine she is not Elizabeth who was listed on the 1870 census. Elizabeth her mother Eliza had to die before there was a move to Loudon and Ambrose marries Lula Grinway.

But it’s confusing if she is born in Cocke County, TN in 1881 (1907-26yrs =1881), how can Ambrose and Lula (her mother per death certificate) be in Loudon County in the 1880 census. Did they go back and forth? Oh geez, I will have to resolve this issue. Could they be in Loudon in 1880, leave and go to Cocke County and have Mollie in 1881, then go back to Loudon? Where are Eliza and Elizabeth? I am going a bit forward in time with this, but will have to go back in time to find Ambrose prior to 1870. There is a lot more work to do on this.

Newspapers: I haven’t had much luck with other newspaper sites so my go to is Chronicling America-Newspapers…

I also will need to check Loudon County newspapers and get back to seek other, mainly white Cureton’s in Cocke County.

Enough for today! For the next part I will look at the 1860 and 1850 Slaves Schedules for Cocke County, deal with the cemeteries and what ever I can come up regarding the movement of Ambrose from Cocke, to Loudon, to Cocke and back to Loudon and on to Knox county.

Know your roots, they are long and strong!

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2 responses to “Ambrose Cureton Part 3-Let the Evidence Tell the Story!”

  1. My great great grandparents, Frank and Juda Clage (Cleage) were legally married after they were free, even though they had been living as man and wife on Alexander Cleage’s plantation and had a house full of children. They recorded their marriage in 1866 in McMinn County.

    1. I will have to locate McMinn County, I am not familiar with it. Cocke County is a new county for me as well. I have visited Loudon but need to go back if I can’t get some assistance in Nashville.

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