When researching our female ancestors who have few records naming them, to make progress, we need to do cluster research. We determine the people in her FAN club (Friends, Family, Associates, and Neighbors) and research them! My first post in this series discussed my ancestor, Mary Clemsy Cline, who was born about 1817 in Alabama and died after 1880 in Wise Couty, Texas.
My initial analysis showed three individuals I want to explore as part of Clemsy’s FANs: Jacob, John, and Mahala Cline. I discovered three locations for research, Morgan County, Missouri; Wayne County, Kentucky; and Izard County, Arkansas. In part two of this series, I explained how I created a locality guide, then planned research in each of those counties.
My objective follows.
The objective of this research phase is to discover a candidate for the father of Mary “Clemsey” Cline. She was born about 1817 in Alabama and died after 1880 in Wise County, Texas. Mary “Clemsey” married William Henderson Weatherford about 1839 in Arkansas.
In creating this objective, I hoped that researching Clemsy’s FANs would lead me to a good candidate for her father that I can test with DNA in a later project phase. What did I find? In this report, I’ll lead you through my research and share my conclusions. I’ve included a PDF of the report at the end of this article so you can see how I tackled the writing.
Airtable Research Log
My Clemsy Cline Airtable research log holds everything I know about her and her FANs. I have a timeline for the Clines and Weatherfords, an 1850 census study of Morgan County, Missouri, the research log, and the FANs table. When I add DNA to this project, I have several tables for holding DNA match details, correspondence, and more.
I added a field (column) in the research log for “person” since I tracked several proposed family members for Clemsy. Adding this field let me group the log by the person to see what I had for them. I could also group by locality or any of the other fields. The screenshot below shows a portion of the log and some of the groupings. If a record mentions more than one person, you can all of them and Airtable will create a unique group. For example, Jacob Cline Jr. and Sr. are mentioned in the Morgan County history, so they appear in groups separately and together.
In addition to grouping, Airtable also allows me to sort the records by any field, and I like to sort by the year field. This puts the records in chronological order and creates a mini timeline for each person. I can also group by location to see all the research done in that specific area. My research in Wayne County, Kentucky, had many negative searches, so it is helpful to view those together to ensure I cover them in the report. The following screenshot shows the same research log grouped by locality and some of the Wayne County research I performed. I don’t generally add a year to the row for county histories, so those will appear at the top of the list, followed by the rest of the records sorted by year.
Research Findings and Writing the Report
I worked on this research and report before, during, and after a ten-day trip to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Breaking up the project was unavoidable but made it difficult to remember my thought processes. Luckily, I wrote quite a bit throughout the project and didn’t save all the writing for the end. That said, I needed to carefully consider how to present the information in the report. With three locations and several FANs – I had complicated research to discuss!
My report template has the following categories. As I worked on each section, the report came together.
- Results summary
- Background Information
- Research Findings
- Future Research Suggestions
I wrote the objective for the project at the top of the report. This helps the reader (and the writer) to remember exactly what the purpose of this research phase was. My overarching research question is to discover Clemsy Cline’s father, but in this phase, I only wanted to find a candidate(s) to test with DNA evidence next. Sometimes you discover new information about your research subject, and it’s tempting to change the objective to reflect that, but we want to remember our starting point information.
Limitations for the project included severe record loss in Izard County, Arkansas, and time. I generally like to limit my personal projects to 20 hours which includes research and writing. If you research too much without writing, the report could be very long! Plan to spend as much time writing as researching, and you’ll be about right. Why would you spend so much time writing when the research seems more fun? As we write up our research, our brain switches into another gear, and as we organize our findings, we will make better connections and conclusions. If we never stop to write, we’ll never make progress and will continue to spin our wheels on difficult cases.
Although inserted at the beginning of the report, I like to write this last. By the time I’ve written the report, I’ve synthesized the research, and it’s easier to create a few summarizing sections. We used to recommend a separate sentence for each bit of the research, but now like to group the results into sections.
I used the background information section to discuss the problem with researching a female in the early 1800s, then discussed what was known about Clemsy based on the three censuses of her life. Next, I identified her FANs – Jacob and Mahala Cline, from the 1850 census of Morgan County, Missouri, and transitioned to the research findings with this paragraph.
Who was the father of Clemsy (Cline) Weatherford? He would likely have been born in Virginia before 1800. Perhaps he migrated south to Alabama, where he met Clemsy’s mother, reportedly born in Georgia. They could have married about 1815 or before. Learning about the Cline’s associated with Clemsy could provide clues to her origins.
The research findings section of the report holds new research and is the longest portion. Breaking this up with subheadings and figures such as maps and bulleted lists is very helpful for the reader. I used the following headings to discuss the research.
- Izard County, Arkansas, Tax and Land Records
- John C. Cline
- Mahala Cline
- Jacob Cline of Morgan County, Missouri
- Rockingham County, Virginia, Cline Connections
Izard County, Arkansas, Tax and Land Records
A great find was a group of Clines who were taxed and received federal land patents in Izard County, Arkansas. This was the earliest location for Clemsey and Henderson Weatherford. He did not obtain a federal land patent in Izard County, but I discovered that John C. Cline in the tax lists and land patents.
Two other Clines patented land in the same vicinity as John C. Cline – Mahaley Cline and John Cline. Viewing the completed patents, I saw that Mahaley was “of Fulton County in the 1848 patents,” and John Cline was “of Fulton County” in the 1849 patent and “of Pulaski County” in the 1850 patent. Needing to view the actual locations of this land, I annotated a county map and added stars for the approximate location of the land and a blue box showing the exact description, date, and name of the patentee.
Notice that Mahaley Cline patented land near John C. Cline in both instances, and John Cline received three patents near one another. All of these Cline patents are located in the central northern portion of Izard County, close to the border of Fulton County, Arkansas.
Mahaley Cline of the land patents was of particular interest because a Mahala Cline was a possible family member of Clemsy Cline. The 1850 census of Morgan County, Missouri, showed Henderson and Clemsy’s household near Jacob Cline’s, which had a Mahala Cline, age 22, listed. The 1840 census of Morgan County showed Jacob Cline and also a John Cline of an age to be brothers. Could I be looking at a family group? I needed to learn more about John C. Cline, the earliest Cline settler in Izard County from the tax records.
John C. Cline
I easily located John C. Cline on the 1850 census residing in the Union Township of Fulton County, Arkansas. His household included Milky Cline, age 43, who may have been a second wife, given the age difference between her and John, who was 65. John C. Cline was born about 1785 in Pennsylvania and would be of age to be a father to the Clines of the 1850 Morgan County, Missouri, census: Jacob Cline (born 1811), Mahala Cline (born 1828), and Clemsy Cline (born 1817-1820).
• John C Cline 65 M Pennsylvania, farmer
• Milky Cline 43 F Virginia
• Jesse Cline 15 M Illinois
• Abner Cline 13 M Illinois
• Ann Cline 11 F Arkansas
• Amanda Cline 9 F Arkansas
The 1840 federal census lists a John Cline, age 40-49, in the Blue Mountain township of Izard County, Arkansas. His household correlates well with the 1850 census and includes two females aged 10-14, one of which could be Mahala. Clemsy would not be in this household as she was married by about 1838 to Henderson Weatherford, who was taxed in 1839 in Izard County.
Because of record loss in both Fulton and Izard Counties, no marriage records would exist for any of the Cline family. If the ancestors Clemsy Cline and Henderson Weatherford did marry in Izard County about 1838, that would explain the lack of a marriage record. Future research can trace the John C. Cline family forward and look for DNA matches to descendants of Clemsy Cline and Henderson Weatherford to trace this hypothesis.
Having discovered Mahaley/Mahala Cline in the Izard County, Arkansas, land patents, I researched Morgan County, Missouri, marriage records to see if she had married or remarried. Mahala was 22 years old in the 1850 census, where she was a boarder in Jacob Cline’s household. I wasn’t sure if she was a young widow or not. With Robert Cline, age 5, also in the household, it seemed that he could be her son or a younger brother.
Mahala Cline married Thomas Shockley on 16 September 1854 in Morgan County, Missouri. This would have been four years after her enumeration in 1850 in the Jacob Cline household. Mahala and Thomas Shockley moved to Camden County, Missouri, by 1860 and resided there for the next several years. They had at least five daughters. Mahala died on 1 August 1899. Her daughter, Mary E. (Cline) Edward’s died in 1965, and her death certificate states her parents as Mahalia Cline and Thomas Shockley. This clarifies that Mahala Cline, on the 1850 Morgan County, Missouri, census, residing in Jacob’s household and near Clemsey (Cline) Weatherford, was an unmarried woman and could be a sibling. Tracing the Cline-Shockley descendants and looking for DNA matches could prove this hypothesis. Also, because Mahala had several daughters, a mitochondrial DNA test-taker could be sought to compare with a descendant of Mahala Cline.
Jacob Cline of Wayne County, Kentucky, and Morgan County, Missouri
Jacob Cline and Talitha Ard married on 18 March 1835 in Wayne County, Kentucky. The marriage register gives no names of witnesses or parents, but I had hoped to find some other Clines in the area that could be associated with Jacob. Instead, I found that Jacob Cline paid a poll tax in Wayne County in 1835 and 1836. He owned no land but, in 1836, was taxed for two horses. No other Clines appear in the tax or land records for Wayne County. The absence of any Cline households in Wayne County suggests that Jacob Cline traveled to the county as a single man. No clues to his origins were found in Kentucky.
Searching additional Morgan County, Missouri, records found no new information about Jacob, but I did view a map of Morgan County listing cemetery locations and found the approximate area for the Cline Cemetery near Florence, Missouri. Jacob’s household is nowhere to be found on the 1860 census, so based on his death and burial in 1864, I did some page-by-page searches in the townships around the cemetery.
Rockingham County, Virginia, Cline Connection
I didn’t find any new information about Jacob Cline that provided clues to his origins, but I did find a history written about a Danial Cline, born 18 January 1846, the son of Samuel Cline and Elizabeth Showalter, German emigrants to Rockingham County, Virginia. Danial didn’t migrate to Missouri until 1878, much later than Jacob Cline. I was interested in the Rockingham County, Virginia, connection since online trees have Jacob Cline born there. Although he could be related, it seems more likely that the Rockingham County, Virginia, origins for Jacob Cline became conflated with Danial Clines. Future research can explore this possible connection to Virginia.
My original objective to find a possible father/family for Clemsy Cline was met in the discovery of the Izard County Clines – John C. Cline, Mahala Cline, and John Cline in the land and tax records. Mahala is the connecting link with her appearance also in Morgan County, Missouri, in the 1850 household of Jacob Cline where Clemsy (Cline)Weatherford lived nearby and had two Cline children in her household. John C. Cline, born about 1785, could certainly be the father of Mahala, Jacob, John, and Clemsy. It’s exciting to have found a candidate to continue to research!
Future Research Suggestions
Future research suggestions include both documentary and DNA research. I’ll be continuing this project for the Research Like a Pro with DNA study group and adding a DNA study to the Clines. Having discovered John C. Cline and Mahala Cline in additional records gives me descendancy work to do. If I can find DNA matches among their descendants, that will give me a clue that I’m on the right track with this family!
Read my completed report to discover how I wrote up this complicated research. Cline Research Project – November 2022
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!