Great Grandma's Name Was Ella. After That It's Complicated --Part three

ELLLLLAAAAA!!! (said a la A Street Car Named Desire.) That's what I feel like screaming every time I do research on my paternal great grandmother Ella Kerr/Smith/Hayes/Dixon or whatever other name she might have been going by at a particular time. 

If this is the first time you're reading about my Ella, you may want to go back and read part one and two. Here are the links:

Great Grandma's Name Was Ella. After That It Gets Complicated.

Great Grandma's Name Was Ella. After That It's Complicated --Part two

It seems to me that my Ella did her darnedest to not be found in a record prior to 1920.  She was born I believe in or around 1882 in Sampson County, NC, so no there's no 1880 census entry to refer to. I knew by 1911 she was living in Wilmington, NC because that is where my grandmother Ethel Smith Murrell was born. Where was she prior to 1911? Why and how did she come to the decision to move to Wilmington?

On part two of this series, I mentioned that I believed I had found Ella's parents, Tina Murphy Kerr and Henry Kerr, residing in Franklin Township in Sampson County in 1880. I checked the 1900 census for Franklin Township and still no Ella. This is when I referred to a map of Sampson County.

Map of Sampson County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Franklin township is in the southern most part of Sampson county. This got me thinking well if she didn't stay in Sampson county, where did she go? Since she eventually ventured further south to Wilmington, I thought I should check the adjoining counties in the south.

Bladen county is in the southwest and Pender in the southeast. I found an entry in the 1900 Federal census that looks promising as being my Ella.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Source Information: 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

This entry was for a household in Colly township in Bladen county.
Here's the household make-up:

Seeley Robeson (Celia Robinson) --Head of household --widowed
Jane (Janie)--daughter b. Jan 1875 --single
Charlie --son b. Dec 1877 --single
Eliza --daughter b. Dec 1879 --single
Mousora (Missouri)--daughter b. March 1881 --single
Carrie --daughter b. March 1883 --single
Estella --granddaughter b. April 1892 --single
Robbie C L --granddaughter b. July 1895 --single
Mckinley A--grandson b. Sept 1895 --single
Starling J --grandson b. Sept 1899 --single
Ellen Kerr --famaly (family) b. February 1882

My great grandmother went by the first name of Ellen or Ella in the few records I've come by with her listed in them, so this Ellen Kerr could be her. The Ellen Kerr here in this census entry was noted as "family." I haven't figured out the connection yet, if there is one. The census enumerator may have made an assumption when the household information was recorded. Here's what I do know about Celia Robinson and her family

1) Celia Robinson's maiden name was listed as "Cedie Crummedy" on her daughter Janie Robinson's death certificate. This may or may not be correct. On the death certificate of Carrie Robinson Richardson, another of Celia's daughters, Celia's maiden name was listed as "Celie Crumley." Haven't come across too many folks by the last names of Crummedy or Crumley in Sampson County but the last name Cromartie is another story. The Cromartie surname comes up quite a bit. I could see how someone may have incorrectly transcribed the name. Perhaps it was actually Cromartie

2) Celia was married to a man named Rage Robinson. Great name, right? Anyway, Rage was born in Bladen County and apparently died by the time the 1900 census came around because Celia was listed as a widow then. The family connection to Ellen Kerr may be through the Robinson surname. So far I've come across quite a few Robinsons in Sampson county but I haven't been able to identify a connection yet. 

3) This is when it gets interesting. In 1910, guess where Celia Robinson and her family were living? Wilmington, NC. Hmm. I am thinking that this may be how Ella made her way to Wilmington. She went with the family she had been living with. This makes sense, you go where your resources are. The folks she had lived with were moving, so she moved. Plus, the city would have provided her with better opportunities for work and possibly education. 

Source Information: 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Wilmington Ward 1, New Hanover, North Carolina; Roll: T624_1124; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0085; FHL microfilm: 1375137

But of course Ellen was not living with the Robinsons. Oh if it were so easy. Oh well, I should know better by now. With my Ella, it's always complicated. 

More to come tomorrow.


  1. Seems like you're on the trail to me! Very good detective work!

    1. Thanks Victori! One of these days I'm going to figure this woman out. :)


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