After all, I had a real advantage over the majority of the few researcher back then –I was stationed at Hill AFB with the Air Force just a mere 35 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah and the home of the biggest and greatest Family History Library anywhere.
I grew up knowing only one of my grandparents, Grandma Pearly, who was the Mother of my Father. My other three (3) grandparents had passed away before I was born. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my parents did not know anything about the family past their grandparents and were somewhat shaky on the knowledge of their grandparents. With the local LDS Family History Library so close it didn’t take long to realize that I had hit my first brick wall on the paternal side of my family – William A. Purvis.
The NC Death certificate for William James Purvis, my great grandfather showed that his parents were William Purvis, Sr. and Sarah Graves.
No record of William Purvis and Sarah Purvis were found in the 1900 Census for Anson County, NC. Going back to 1880, I did find my great-great grandparents and I was so ecstatic. They were listed as William A. Purvice and Sarah Purvice and living with them is Betsy Purvis and her daughter Mary J. Purvis. Also next door was William & Sarah son – William with his wife Mary.
1880 CENSUS: Morven, Anson County, North Carolina; Roll: 951; Family History Film: 1254951; Enumeration District: 2; Image: 0493; Page 350B, Line 36, Dwelling 233, Family 251; William A. PURVIS, age 53, Farmer, born in SC, father born in SC, mother born in NC; Sarah J. PURVIS, Wife, age 48, born in NC, parents born in NC. Dwelling 223, Family 252, Betsy PURVIS, age 30, born in NC, parents born in NC; Mary J. PURVIS, age 7, born in NC, parents born in NC. (Spelled PURVICE on Ancestry).
1880 CENSUS: Morven, Anson County, North Carolina, FHL Film 1254951, National Archives Film T9-0951, Series: T9, Roll: 951, ED #2; Page: 350B, Line 40; Dwelling 234, Family 253. William J. PURVIS, age 16, born in NC; Father born in SC, Mother born in NC; Marah H. PURVIS, Wife, age 19, born in NC, Fa: SC, Mo: SC.
As stated before, at this point I was ecstatic but I was also puzzled. I had never heard of Betsy Purvis and Mary J. Purvis. Who are they? How are they related to William & Sarah and their only son William James Purvis? While I have managed to add more information, these questions still have not been answered fully today.
William James Purvis death certificate showed that he was buried at Zoar Cemetery in South Carolina. In those days there was no internet and there was no FindAGrave website. Information was accumulated through correspondence. My parents and sibling lived less than 5 miles from Zoar Cemetery but it might as well have been 500 miles. A visit to the cemetery would go on the list of thing to research during my next visit home to see my parents.
Let me give you a little back ground on research during that time. The Family History library was located in a building (Joseph Smith Building) about a half a block from where the Library is today. The LDS FHL had a big map on a wall in the Library with Chesterfield County, SC colored RED. It stated that they were refused access to record in Chesterfield County. Back during that time the only people ALLOWED access to PUBLIC DOCUMENTS in the Courthouse in Chesterfield County, SC were PUBLIC OFFICIALS. You could not read or copy deed books, indexes or any other public documents maintained within that system.
Further research resulted in finding William and Sarah in the 1870 and 1860 census for Anson County, NC. I have not found William in the 1850 census. Sarah Jane Graves is enumerated in the 1850 census for Chesterfield County, South Carolina.
1850 CENSUS: Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Roll: M432_851; Image: 216, Film #0444814, Page 106A, Line 8, Dwelling 110, Family 110; Mary GRAVES, age 55, born in SC; David W. GRAVES, age 32, Tailor, born in SC; Sarah J. GRAVES, age 16, born in SC and Thomas GRAVES, age 14, born in SC. Mary age 55 makes her birth year to be about 1795.
By 1860, Sarah was married to William A. Purvis, but they had no children. Ling with them in the same household is Joseph and Laura White.
1860 CENSUS: Morven, Anson County, North Carolina; Roll: M653_887; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 803887; Page: 300; Line 34, Dwelling 1238, Family 1188; William A. PURVIS, age 34, Shoemaker, born in NC; Sarah PURVIS, female, age 26, born in SC; Joseph WHITE, age 33, Cooper, born in NC and Laura WHITE, age 30, born in NC.
No marriage record has been found for William A. Purvis and Sarah Jane Graves. There first born son was born in September 1863. And they were enumerated in the 1860 Census as husband and wife.
They were also found in 1870 Census for Anson County, NC.
1870 CENSUS: Morven, Anson County, North Carolina. Series: M593_1122, Image: 223; Family History Library Film: 552621, Page 403A, Line 38, Dwelling 178; Family 178. W. A. PURVIS, age 46, Farmer, born in NC, Sarah J. PURVIS, age 37, Keeps House, born in NC and William J. PURVIS, age 6, At Home, born in NC. [Spelled Perris on Ancestry]
Beyond that they have not been found in census records.
A few years back a local researcher in Anson County sent me the following newspaper article:
DEATH: Messenger-Intelligencer issue of January 4, 1894, page 3, McFarlan News - The funeral of the wife of Mr. Wm. Pervis was preached by this writer in the M. E. Church of this place last Sunday [31 Dec. 1893]. She was a good old woman. She had suffered intensely for fifteen months from cancer. She was a member of the M. E. church about 20 years. [Source: Steve Bailey]
I believe this to be an account of the death of my Great-Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Graves Purvis.
I also found a Land Deed (DB 33, page 370) dated 23 September 1899 between William A. Purvis and Wife Elizabeth Purvis to J. D. Rhyne.
William and Sarah ARE NOT listed in the 1900 census which was enumerated on 28 June 1900; but, Elizabeth Purvis, and her daughter Ella Purvis are listed and she is listed as a widower. So who is Elizabeth Purvis, 2nd wife of William A. Purvis? Remember earlier the Betsy Purvis in the 1880 household of William & Sarah Purvis. Did William marry Betsy after the death of Sarah and if so who is the father of Mary J. Purvis in the 1880 census and now Ella F. Purvis in the 1900 census. Who is Ella’s father, Sarah Jane Purvis was still alive until December 1893.
1900 CENSUS: Morven Twp, Anson Co., NC; Series: T623, Roll: 1181, Page: 145, Line 20, Household 337/338; Elizabeth PURVIS, age 40, Wd., born Oct 1869 in NC, 2 Children, 1 Living; Ella PURVIS, daughter, age 13, born Dec 1886 in NC.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Purvis oldest daughter, Mary Jane Purvis (b. ca 1873; d. ca mar 1895) married Charles Franklin Lang about 1888. Their firstborn, a daughter named Ella Jane Lang was born 4 Aug 1889. Their youngest Effie was born in March 1895. It is believed that Mary Jane died as a result of this childbirth.
No death certificates or tombstones have been found for either William A. Purvis or his wife Sarah Jane Graves. William second wife Betsy died 18 October 1926 in Rockingham, Richmond County, NC and is buried in the Mizpah Church Cemetery in Rockingham. Her grave is unmarked.