#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Brick Wall (#Genealogy)

There’s always a brick wall, isn’t there? I mean, if you’ve done family history research and you can’t name all 256 of your 6x great-grandparents, then you’ve hit a brick wall. I know all 16 of my 2x great-grandparents, and I think that’s pretty good. But, of course, I keep trying to go beyond that.

I’ve written about several of my brick walls, so when Amy Johnson Crow issued the prompt “Brick Wall” I felt needed to select a different one.

So, let’s look at John R. Ryals. He was, according to the 1850 and 1860 Censuses born around 1812 in South Carolina.

That 1850 Census is the earliest record we (my cousins and I, independently) have found. John, enumerated as Royals, was living in Marion County, Georgia, with his wife “Lola” and children Sara, Thomas, Mary, and William. He’s a farmer. John’s the only one listed as being born out of state.

1860 finds him still in Marion County, listed as John Royal, with wife “Lotty” and children Sarah A., Thomas, Mary, William, Malissa, Jeremiah, Lucinda, and Elisabeth. Martha Hale, known to be Lottie’s mother, is in the household as well. Interestingly, the three oldest children are now listed as being born in Alabama.

In 1870, the family is in Pine Knot, Chattahoochee County, Georgia, which is just west of Marion County. The listing this time is for John B. Ryals, with an age suggesting he was born around 1808. His wife is enumerated as “Lota.” Children Sarah, William, Melissa, James (the right age to be the aforementioned Jeremiah), Lucinda, Elizabeth (age 12), Elizabeth (age 36), Georgia, and John. Everyone is listed as being born in Georgia. Familial relationships are not specified.

The 1880 shows most of the family still living at home in Pine Knot. They are listed as John R. Ryles (birth year extrapolated here as 1813), with wife Lottie, and children Sarah, William, James, Elizabeth, John R. Jr., Thomas, and Susan. Everyone but John Sr. is listed as being born in Georgia. The Census taker noted that Lottie had whooping cough the day of the visit.

A quick search on FamilySearch for Ryals and Royal in the 1820 Census, which John would have been a little boy, turns up quite a few options in South Carolina. I looked at two Williams (since that was name John gave his firstborn son), and they both had several boys under 10 in their households. The only John did not have any young boys in his home. I looked at just a couple of other households, with names not given to any of John’s children, and they both had children in the right age range. One William was in Charleston; the other was in Barnwell, which is closer to Georgia. If I were to guess, I would think that was John’s father, but really, who can say? John’s family may not have even been enumerated in the Census that year.

One family tree on Ancestry lists John’s mother as Polly (unknown maiden name) and lists his father only as “RyalsRoyalsRyles.” Polly Royal in Barnwell has 1-3 people in every age bracket listed in her household, including two boys under ten. There were no documents attached providing evidence that Polly was John’s mother.

I would like to know the history of this family. Was their name Royal or Royals or was that just the enumerator’s interpretation of Ryals in 1850 and 1860? Where did John’s family live in South Carolina and what brought him to Georgia?

If you are researching these surnames and have done DNA, please look for me among your matches or look for my Great-Aunt Bonnie Cook (MyHeritage/GEDmatch/FamilyTreeDNA). I would love to hear from you.

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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