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Wordless Wednesday

Violet, Hobart & Chiteka

A Tale of Three Docks…

I think this is another example of a really interesting story that was probably a pretty taboo subject at some point in the last hundred years.  Oh well, here goes….

Another of my 2nd Great Grandfathers was a gentleman by the name of Dock Ross (b. 1859).  Dock was married to the former Bettie Coleman (b. 1863) in Murfreesboro, TN in 1879.  I’ve located Dock and Bettie (by the way, that’s Dock up there in the banner behind the word ‘journey’ and that’s Bettie between the words ‘My’ and ‘family’) in a combination of census and tax records from 1880 to 1891.  Prior to 1880, I haven’t been able to find either.  While I generally believe Dock was born a slave, I don’t believe he (unlike the majority of others in my maternal line) was born in Tennessee; more on that in a minute.

Dock and Bettie had 5 children including my Great Grandmother, Tennie Ross (b. 1897?).  She was quite a woman and, although this post isn’t about her, there is no doubt that a few later ones will be.  Dock and Bettie also had a son named after his father, Dock Jr. (1887).

Well, it seems that my Great Grand Uncle…. I’ll let the public record speak for itself:

Your petitioner, Sallie Ross (col.), would show the Court, that she, and the defendant, Dock Ross (col.), were married in Rutherford County in, or about the year 1909…. The petitioner, before the marriage, and under the promise of marriage, allowed the defendant certain privileges which resulted in her being with child and in the defendant being forced, by her parents to marry her…

This is an excerpt from a divorce petition presented to the Hon. Walter S. Bearden on the third Monday of January in 1916.  Once Dock participated in the shot-gun affair described in the document, he left town for parts unknown leaving behind his new wife and soon to be born daughter; Cressy.  Later in the document we find that Dock Ross cannot be found anywhere in the county and did not appear in front of the court to defend himself.  It seems certain that Sallie nor Cressy ever saw Dock again….

That would be the end of the tale were it not for the miracle of the internet and online access to priceless records (and a little supposition and detective-work on the part of yours truly).  I BELIEVE Dock relocated to his grandfather’s farm down in Plaquemines, Louisiana.  Why do I believe that you might ask.  Well a couple of pieces of evidence to lay my hypothesis on:

1) An older Dock Ross (b. 1825) lived in Plaquemines, Louisiana.  Clearly, not a definitive tie by itself.

2) Although his father disappears by the 1900 census (Bettie lists herself a widow), Dock II is in the household at about 13 years of age (ancestry.com lists him as “Doe” born May 1886, but given the rest of the household this is an almost certain conclusion).  I have not been able to find him in Tennessee after 1900.

3) A World War I draft card from Vernon Parrish Louisiana documents a Dock Ross, born in Murfreesboro, TN registering for the draft roughly a year after the divorce petition was filed in Rutherford County.  This Dock’s birth date was listed as June 1887.  He does list himself as a single man with no dependents, but that would certainly be expected given the circumstances.

4) Finally, Dock Ross died in Caddo Parrish (d. 1945) according to the Louisiana Statewide Death Index, 1900-49.  The birth date given in the index is estimated as 1884.

None of this, even in combination, could be held as conclusive.   It does make for some fun CSI-style investigative work during my research.

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