Sunday, October 12, 2014

52 Ancestors #41: The Mother Nobody Knew

Ancestor Name: BEARD, Effie Davis

My Dad was the genealogist in our family for several years. One of his brick walls was his paternal grandmother, Effie. That was literally all he knew -- her first name.

When Mom and Dad decided to sell their house and move into an assisted living facility, we cleaned it out. I returned home with Dad's genealogy files. I found a print out of an email from my second cousin who had discovered Effie's surname among her grandmother's papers -- Effie Davis Beard.

Dad's genealogy files and old photograph albums

With that information I was able to trace Effie's parents and document many things about her life. She was born in Bedford County, Virginia, on 1 October 1871 to David Fleming and Barbara Ann (Mitchell) Beard. The Beard family had lived in the county for generations. I believe the Beards to have come to the Virginia Colony from Scotland sometime before 1700.

Over the next days and weeks, I worked back to Effie's great grandfather Samuel Beard. I thought Samuel's father was Adam Beard and that he was a brother of Capt. David Beard, who served in the Revolutionary War. I had no real proof of that connection, however. I was working with wills and land records and wasn't feeling entirely comfortable with the results as this was one of the first occasions I'd been able to work back so many generations and these types of records were new to me. There were several family trees on the Internet that went back much further, but were not documented.

Two DNA matches confirmed many things, including Samuel's father and siblings. Through those matches, I've made a wonderful new cousin-friend and fellow research collaborator. But I still know so little about my great grandmother. I have no idea what she looked like or how she lived. My only photo of her is of her headstone.

Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings headstone; photograph courtesy of member John Shuck
Graves of Charles Edward Jennings, Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings and
their youngest son, Clyde Graham Jennings; photograph courtesy of member John Shuck

The facts I know are these.

She was my great grandfather's second wife and she was 28 years younger than her husband. He'd already buried one wife, a cousin who likely died in child birth, and had seven children to raise. He and Effie married in June 1895 and lived most of their married life in Roanoke, Virginia. Charles was in the grocery business.

Effie and Charles Edward Jennings had four children of their own. On 29 December 1905, Effie had her last child, Clyde Graham Jennings. She died on 4 May 1906 and little Clyde died a month later. At the age of 63, Charles was left to raise three more young children, the oldest being 10 at the time of her mother's death.

When the 1910 census was enumerated, Charles was working as a carpenter. There is a story in our family that he was fleeced by his business partner when the man ran off with all their money. It may be true as Charles placed his two of his three young children with relatives and my grandfather was given to the Lutheran Orphanage in Salem, Virginia, in 1911.

Pedigree chart for Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Effie David Beard was born on 1 October 1871 in Bedford County, Virginia, to David Fleming and Barbara Ann (Mitchell) Beard. Her father died when Effie was 7 years old and her mother died in 1890. Effie married Charles Edward Jennings in June 1895. He was a widower several years her senior with six living children. They settled in Roanoke and had four children. Effie died ten years later on 4 May 1906. Her youngest child died a month after her death. Charles Edward Jennings died on 10 August 1917. Charles, Effie, and their youngest son, Clyde Graham, are buried in Fair View Cemetery in Roanoke. Their burial plots were owned by Robert Watkins Jennings, the son of Charles' first cousin, Samuel Henry Jennings.

Battle of Seven Pines
A Lover, Not a Fighter
My Grandfather and the Orphanage
AncestryDNA and Finding a New Cousin
Lutheran Orphanage in Salem, Virginia


  1. So sad, but glad you were able to find some info on her. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I hit pay dirt after publishing this post. Two second cousins starting sending me old photos. I now have one of Effie and two of her husband, Charles -- one as a young man and one as an old man. And it was all due to this post!