Next to Last – William J. Kimbell

This was a difficult post because it took some searching in my tree to figure out who or what might fit! I finally found that my 3rd great grandfather, William J. Kimbell, was the next to last child born to his parents, Robert Kimbell and Sarah Hinton. This is maybe not the most creative interpretation of this prompt, but it works!

Parents and Siblings

Robert Kimbell was born about 1794 in North Carolina, and when he married Sarah Hinton, daughter of Thomas Hinton and Rachel Hightower, on 8 February 1824, he was living in Clarke County, Georgia.

The first census in which I have found Robert and his family is 1840 when they were living in Cherokee County, Alabama. The census lists a man between 40 and 49, which must be Robert who was about 46 years old at the time, as well as a woman between 30 and 39, which must be Sarah aged about 35. There is also an unidentified male between 30 and 39 living in the household, possible a brother of either Robert or Sarah.

Also living in the house were 8 children 14 years or younger.

2 girls between 10 – 14

1 boy between 10-14

2 boys 5-9

2 boys under 5

1 girl under 5

From the 1850 census, I can determine who some of these children are:

Thomas Kimbell, born 1840, and John Kimbell, born 1838, were likely the two boys under 5.

Elizabeth Kimbell, born 1845, was likely the girl under 5.

Henry Kimbell, born 1833, and Robert Kimbell, born 1832, were likely the two boys between 5 and 9.

That leaves 3 children unaccounted for: 2 girls and 1 boys between 10 and 14 years old. I have seen some compelling evidence than an Ann Kimbell who married Joseph Weaver in Chattooga County, GA in 1842 is one of those 2 girls. The Kimbell family was living in Chattooga County by that time, and Ann and her husband moved to Cherokee, AL where they lived their entire lives, a place where Robert Kimbell and his family lived in 1840. She died in 1914, and her death certificate (which I do not have) might shed some light on her parents.

I have seen other researchers put forth a Melissa Sue Kimbell as the other daughter, which is definitely a possibility. Melissa Kimbell married Joseph DeLawne (Delong) in Chattooga County in 1847.

The other boy is still a mystery.

Birth and Early Life

Robert and Sarah’s last two children, William J. and Joseph, were born in 1843 and 1846 respectively. My ancestor is William J., the next to last child. He was born on 6 May 1843 in Chattooga County, Georgia. In the 1850 census he was seven years old and living in Chattooga County with his parents Robert and Sarah, and siblings Robert, Henry, Elizabeth, John, Thomas, and Joseph. His father was a farmer but owned no land, or at least no value was attributed to his land. (I need to do some more research here).

1850 Census showing William J. Kimbell as the next to last child.

10 years later, William is still living at home with both parents as well as his older sister Elizabeth and younger brother Joseph. He was recorded as 17 years old and a farmer. His father’s land was valued at $1,200, and William was likely helping his father farm that property. This is the last census in which Robert Kimbell appears, indicating that he died between 1860 and 1870.

Civil War and Marriage

William enlisted as a Corporal in the Confederate Army, 6th Regiment Georgia Calvary, Company H, in 1862. He served from his enlistment date until the Confederate surrender at Greensboro, North Carolina in 1865 and was discharged in May. According to his wife, he was never taken prisoner. Some of this information came from his widow’s pension application which was made in 1910.

Three months after his discharge, William married Martha Caroline Murphy in 28 August 1865 near Summerville, Chattooga County, Georgia. She was the daughter of Jeremiah Murphy and Jane Dorsett. The couple continued to live with William’s widowed mother, Sarah, now aged 63, his older sister Elizabeth, and her son John. Elizabeth was unmarried, and John’s father is still not known. William and Martha’s oldest child, Alice, was born in 1866, and she was enumerated with them as their only living child.

1880 Census

1880 Census

The 1880 census shows that William and Martha are living in their home with only their children. William’s mother Sarah is no longer there, and his sister Elizabeth and nephew John are enumerated in a separate dwelling next door. By this time, William and Martha have five children: Elizabeth (recorded as Alice in 1870), Joseph F., Ulenna, James A., and John L.

Death and Issues with Date

William’s tombstone shows that he died on 28 February 1882, but I am now questioning whether that date is correct. On the 1900 census, Martha was living in Chattooga County, widowed, with several of her children: James, John, William, and Lula. William was born in October 1882, which could still be possible if his father died in February 1882, but Lula was born in March 1887! She is listed as Martha’s daughter, and Martha only married one time. It was also reported to the census taker that Martha had 12 children, although only 7 were living at the time. Lula, along with the other children named on the census records, make up 7 exactly.

The date, 18-2, is difficult to read in Martha’s pension application.

In Martha’s Confederate widow’s pension application, she stated that her husband died in 18-2. The 3rd number is very difficult to read. It seems that it was interpreted as an 8, but, based on Lula’s birth, it has to be a 9. It would only make sense that their daughter Lula was born in 1887 if her father died in 1892 and not 1882. Lula died in 1963, and hopefully her death certificate lists her parents’ names. If William is listed as her father, than his death date is certainly incorrect on his tombstone.

William Kimbell’s tombstone in Lyerly, Georgia.

It is possible that Lula is Martha’s daughter but not William’s. William does not appear in tax records after 1882, which is consistent with the 1882 death date. At that time, he was only 39, so there is no reason why he wouldn’t be paying taxes. This supports the theory that Lula was not William’s daughter, but perhaps a daughter from another relationship but not a second marriage. That would have been quite the scandal!

After William’s death, Martha applied for a widow’s pension, for which she was approved, but did not receive the money. After her death in 1922, her son, John, also attempted to get the $105 owed by the state of Georgia. It is her pension application that contains so much useful information, including their marriage date and William’s death date.

The Lesson

Writing about William J. Kimbell has taught me another valuable lesson: tombstones are not always correct, especially if they were put up years after someone’s death, which was the case for William. It seems that the death year is possibly incorrect, yet this is the date that is found on everyone’s family tree, including my own. It seems that the death certificate of Martha’s daughter, Lula, might shed some truthfulness on this situation.