Blog 2022 06 26 Searching for Proof of Parentage

Who were the parents of ______?  We have all been there and will be there again.  Here are some hints on how I go about trying to resolve that question.

On 14 May 1848, a young couple, Richard Foster and Winny Meeks were married. [i] They then appear on the 1850 U. S. Census with a 10-month-old son, Henry. [ii] And that is the last time we see anything definite on this couple.  I know they had another son, Albert Martin Foster (1855-1921) from Albert’s Death Certificate from Florida. [iii] That document lists his parents.  In 1860, 7-year-old, Albert is living with a Davis family in nearby Montgomery County, Georgia. [iv] There is no indication as to a relationship since that did not start until 1880.  I have yet to find where Henry was living but in 1870, a 20-year-old Henry is living in Emanuel County with a Thomas Gillis family. [v]  Incidentally, Albert’s son married a Gillis but was not a descendant of Thomas.

 I have not yet discovered who Richard’s parents are but I am confident I discovered who Winny’s parents were.  Here is the approach I took.  Winny reports being 19 on the above 1850 census which puts her birth at about 1831.  Since she was 19 in Emanuel County, I start with the supposition that her parents were also living in that county.  Listing ever Meeks head of household and ages, I looked for any records where the man was old enough to have fathered her.  While there were two who were quite a bit older, since there was also a female about their age living there, I again made the assumption, for now, that she was the wife and beyond childbearing age.

This narrowed it down to 4 men who were old enough.  I then looked to see if any were living in District 28 but they were all in district 55.  Next, I looked at the size of their household and the ages of their daughters and only Allen Meeks had a daughter aged 5-9, he had one. [vi] While this is not as accurate as we would like, there is but little evidence to the contrary.  Allen’s wife was Mary Summer and together they had a son, Richard A. Meeks who died in 1929 in Emanuel County, listing his parents. [vii] We can then look at the U. S. Censuses and other records pertaining to this couple and we see they are the same couple in the above 1840 census.

I wrote in my blog of 25 April about sometimes having to find the parents through documents pertaining to the siblings.  We must use whatever documentation we can find.

Sometimes we have to use timelines to try and see what fits.  I am researching a man where the 3 eldest boys always reported being born in South Carolina but later living the remainder of their life in Georgia.  The youngest son was clearly born after the parents moved from South Carolina.  The fourth child, a girl, sometimes had South Carolina and sometimes Georgia on the census.  Until I can find something clearly showing her father in Georgia, I must assume the family is still in South Carolina.  So far, the earliest record is his service in the Liberty County, Georgia militia in the summer of 1800.

[i] Emanuel County, Georgia, Marriage Book A (1817 – 1860), p. 23 (top half), Foster-Meeks, 14 May 1848, Emanuel County Probate Court, Swainsboro, Emanuel County, Georgia, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022).

[ii] 1850 U. S. Census, Emanuel County, Georgia, population schedule, District 28, p 480 (stamped), dwelling and family 512, household of Richard Foster, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 432, roll 68.

[iii] Alber Death Cert

[iv] 1860 U. S. Census, Montgomery County, Georgia, Seward Post Office, p. 871 (inked), dwelling and family 93, hhld of David Smith, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 653, roll 131.

[v] 1870 U. S. Census, Emanuel County, Subdivision 46, p. 357 (stamped), dwelling and family 383, hhld of Thomas Gillis, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 593, roll 148.

[vi] 1840 U. S. Census, Emauel County, District 55, p. 192 (stamped), line 11, hhld of Allen Meeks, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 704, roll 41.

[vii] Emanuel County, Georgia, Georgie State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death, State Registrar File No. 7749, Mil Dist. 1452, Richard A. Meeks (1852 – 1929), image, Georgia State Archives ( : accessed 26 June 2022).