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African American Genealogy: How Using a Timeline Helps in Your Research

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster
1900 Census for Robert Lee Vance
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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.

Last week, I shared how I knew Robert Lee Vance (1858 – ) was the brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance in African American Genealogy: Tracking Lee Vance, Brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance.  I had also found him living in Columbia, SC with his family. This week I want to show you the timeline that I have been using for him. We will add to this timeline next week:

Robert Lee Vance (1858 – )

1858 – Birth – Abbeville County, SC

1870 – Residence – Cokesbury, Abbeville, South Carolina

1880 – Residence — Cokesbury, Abbeville, South Carolina

1882 – Married – Mary E.

1883 – Child born — Ener M. Vance

1885 – Child born — Lillian Henrietta Vance

1887 – Child born — Alice E. Vance

1889 – Child born – Emma Vance

1890 – Child born – Ernest Vance

1898 – Child born — Beulah C. Vance

1899 – Death of Beverly Vance, parent

1900 – Residence – Crystal River, Citrus, Florida

1903 — Residence – Columbia, SC

1906 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1909 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1910 – Residence — Columbia, Richland, South Carolina

1913 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1914 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1915 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1916 — Residence – Columbia, SC

1917 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1918 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1920 – Residence — Columbia, Richland, South Carolina

1921 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1922 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1922 – Residence – Columbia, SC

1927 – Residence – Columbia, SC

The years between the census I found him in the Columbia, South Carolina, City Directory. You can check the Columbia, SC City Directory for 1906. Off to the right are the other city directories I used for Robert. I was able to document him using the censuses and city directories between 1903 and 1927.

As a matter of fact, I was standing in the Richland Library back in 2009 when I found him in the city directory. This can be very confusing because Robert Lee Vance left Abbeville County, SC before it was renamed Greenwood County in 1897. He had lived in the same place to be called Greenwood County.

Beverly Vance (1832-1899) passed away in 1899. This is according to a granddaughter of Calvin Vance (1879 – 1940) who was staying with Beverly at the time. He died in his arms. Calvin was the youngest child. So, he passed in Greenwood County, SC, but he lived in the same place as he did in 1896. It was just not called Abbeville County, SC anymore.

After Beverly’s death, I have found so far that brothers Calvin, Robert Lee, and Lafayette had moved from Greenwood County. Robert Lee Vance moved before 1896 to Florida. His youngest daughter, Beulah, was born in Florida in 1896. He went with his family to Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida. He is on the 1900 Census living there, and by 1903 he is living with his family in Columbia, SC.

So now, it is time to try out more resources to document him in Columbia, SC. I will look for him in some of the places I found Lafayette. The Palmetto Leader, deeds, Allen University, and The State newspaper are places I have in mind to try first.

Sharpen the Saw

Well, I hope you can see how important it is to use a timeline to prompt you to find more resources. Wherever you are in your research process, stop and make out a timeline for the area you are researching. Let us know on our Facebook Group how it is working.

To learn more about using timelines, please see “Timelines Keep Your Genealogy Research Moving Forward” by Dr. Shelley Viola Murphy, on this website.

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