#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Valentine

I looked for an ancestor who was born on February 14th or married on Valentine’s Day, and I came up blank, so I’ll just spend this week’s post telling you about a couple that I know very little about.

John R. Ryals and Lottie Hale are my 3rd great-grandparents on my mom’s side. Their daughter Loucinda Ryals married John Cook of Marion County Georgia, and their son Arthur Thomas Cook married Dollie Allison, and their son Dewey Hoyt Cook is my maternal grandfather.

Photo said to be John R. Ryals from Pate-Moss Private Tree on MyHeritage
Photo said to be John R. Ryals (Pate-Moss Tree, MyHeritage)

According to the 1850 Census, John R. Ryals was born around 1812 in South Carolina. His wife, indexed as Lola in that census, was born in Georgia in about 1813. They were living in Marion County, Georgia, with four children. The oldest was Sarah, age 13. Next came Thomas, age 8; Mary, 4; and William, 3. They’re all listed as being born in Georgia. John’s occupation is listed as farmer.

Looking at that record, I wondered at the big gap between Sarah and Thomas. Was Lottie or John ill? Were they separated for some reason? Did children born in that period die of illness or injury?

The 1860 Census finds the family still living in Marion County, Georgia, with their last name recorded here as Royals. John’s age remains consistent with a birth year of around 1812. Lottie is a bit younger now, with an estimated birth year of 1818. Sarah, Thomas, Mary, and William are still living at home, but something has changed; Thomas, Mary, and William are now given a birthplace of Alabama. Sarah is still listed as being born in Georgia. The younger children are all given a birthplace of Georgia; they are Malissa age 10; Jeremiah, 7; Lucinda [sic], 5; and Elisabeth, 1. John is listed as a farmer and Lotty [sic] as a domestic. They also have living with them 72-year-old Martha Hale, identified as a domestic; she’s believed to be Lottie’s mother.

The 1870 Census lists John B. and Lota Ryals living in Pine Knot, Chattahoochee, Georgia. John’s age is given as 62, which would put his birth year back to 1808. His wife is younger still, with an estimated birth year of 1820. Sarah, William, Melissa, James, Lucinda, and Elizabeth, are living at home, and all the children’s place of birth is again Georgia. Now there’s another Elizabeth Ryals listed in the household, age 36, and below her are two children – Georgia, age 11; and John age 2. It’s unclear what become of Mary – if she married or died.

Records show Thomas married Elizabeth Taff in 1863, and on FamilySearch Georgia is listed as their child, but her birth year is listed as 1860. Baby John is attached on FamilySearch as the child of John and Lottie.

The last time John and Lottie appear in a U.S. Census is 1880. They are still living in Chattahoochee County, and John’s occupation is still listed as Farmer. His birth year is estimated at 1813. Lottie’s birth year is estimated at 1820. They still have several children living at home: Sarah, William, James, Elizabeth, John – identified as son of the head of household – and two new children, also identified as a son and daughter, Thomas, age 5; and Susan, age 1. It seems unlikely that Lottie had two children after the age of 55 (or older, if earlier censuses are correct). Perhaps they’re adopted, or maybe they’re really grandchildren.

No parents have been identified for John R. Ryals. Lottie’s father is listed as Thomas Hale and her mother is believed to be the aforementioned Martha.

Hopefully, someday, we’ll be able to take this family back a generation or two.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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