Saturday, July 25, 2015

Finding Miss Mittie

My uncle Julian died three years ago and I did some research on his family. This turned up several questions that just recently were answered.

The family knew Julian's father, even though he died before Julian married my aunt, but didn't know anything about his father's parents. Julian's father was born when his father was very old so Julian never met his grandparents.

Julian Fraser Riddick
Julian's father, Julian Washington Riddick  was born in 1892 in Jackson County Florida and died in 1960 at the VA Hospital in Pinellas County Florida.

On the 1900 census I found him and his father, Julian Fraser Riddick, living in Grassy Point, Washington County Florida but there was no sign of a mother or the many siblings that I knew he had. His father was 55 years old at the time and listed as a Widowed School Teacher. The next record I found for his father was his death in 1903 at the Old Confederate Soldier's Home in Jacksonville, Florida.

There were three generations of Julian Riddicks so it's a little confusing but the first one was born in 1845 in Suffolk City, Virginia. He enlisted in Company A, Virginia 16th Infantry Regiment on April 17, 1862 at age 16. He was discharged the next year as a Private. The Confederate Government passed a Conscript Act then excluding those under age 18.

When he died in Jacksonville his death certificate was completed with information given by Elizabeth Winfrey Reddick from Greer, Florida who he married in 1872 and had been listed as his wife on the 1880 census. She even filed for a Civil War Pension as his widow in 1917.

So where was this Elizabeth in 1900? I finally found her and four children on the census but she listed herself as a widow three years before Julian Fraser died. Elizabeth eventually ended up in Manatee County Florida with several children, the same town as Julian and his father. When she died in 1925 she was buried in the Manasota Cemetery, where Julian's father was buried in 1960.

I figured there had to be a divorce as many times women would list themselves as a widow after their marriage broke up, out of convenience. I couldn't find a divorce record as those weren't being reported to Tallahassee at the time but found a marriage record for a J Reddick and Mittie Harrison dated November 26, 1888 in Jackson County Florida. I wasn't sure if this was Julian as there were many Riddicks in the area.

Another family member told me they heard Julian and Elizabeth broke up. He wasn't sure if they divorced, but he thought Julian married again and had several children with the 2nd wife. So was this Mittie Harrison the 2nd wife, and if so, where was she on the 1900 census and why wasn't she listed on the death certificate instead of Elizabeth?

The Dothan Eagle October 28, 1931
I found a Mittie Jane Harrison listed in Holmes County Florida, near Jackson and also found a record of her 2nd marriage on January 4, 1905 to James Newton Gay in Jackson County. It didn't take long after that to find records of her on subsequent censuses, her husband's death in 1917 and her death in 1931.

The unusual thing about her death is that it was reported on the front page of the Dothan, Alabama newspaper as a result of a terrible truck accident. She was killed instantly when her step-son lost control, after being hit by another vehicle and his truck turned over several times.

Julian's family knew he had a uncle named Grady Reddick, who was younger than his father but I couldn't find Grady or Mittie on the 1900 census. He wasn't living with his father and wasn't living with Elizabeth. I figured he was with Mittie but even now I can't find them on that census.

I decided to obtain Grady's death certificate from 1960 to see what it said about his parents. Thankfully, his wife knew more about the family than the rest of us and she listed his parents as Julian Riddick and Mittie. So this became the proof needed that Mittie Harrison was the grandmother rather than Elizabeth.

Julian Fraser Riddick had eleven children born between the two wives and the youngest, daughter Anna Verra grew up with Elizabeth, the first wife. So there are still some questions that I will have to save for another day.

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