Edgar Lane, my great-grandfather, disappeared from this earth sometime around 1898. Family members told me he liked to gamble. They thought he racked up gambling debts. When he couldn’t pay them, he met his end in the mighty Mississippi. It’s also possible that Edgar took a new name and walked away from his debts and responsibilities. It was a lot easier to do that back then.
And he did have responsibilities. He married Minnie Mae Perry in 1894 and a year later William Everett Lane was born to their union.
Few records exist for Edgar. He appeared as a one-year-old in the 1880 Crockett County, Tennessee census¹ in the household of George W. Vaughn, incorrectly transcribed as George W. Maugham. With him are his father John C. Lane, his mother Marietta/Maryetta, and brother Isaac. A line appeared through Marietta’s name. As it turned out, Marietta also appeared on the 1880 mortality schedule². She had died of consumption in Dyer County, Tennessee prior to when the census was taken. She had given birth to Isaac four months earlier.
Even though there were few records for Edgar, I was able to connect the Vaughn’s to my grandfather Will Lane through a probate record³ for George W. Vaughn. The record dated 4 Jun 1906 shows the following, “Due on Settlement (see below for receipt) is to be equally divided between Minton Vaughn and Lane minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased.” Still had my doubts.
I began by researching the Vaughn’s in Crockett and Dyer County. Great Luck! I found a volunteer for the TNGenWeb project who was the great-granddaughter of George Washington Vaughn. Jean shared much information that extended my family well beyond my Vaughn’s. A year later she took a DNA test. The test confirmed we are a match. Hallelujah.
There were records for John C. Lane in Dyer County. However, if there are other records that tie Edgar to John, I have been unable to find them. One evening, I was mindlessly searching Ancestry.com for John Lane when a snippet from a private tree showed up in my search box. The one-line snippet mentioned William E. Lane. I immediately sent an email to the owner only to find the information came from her brother-in-law, Mike. She offered to contact him to see if he would correspond with me. She did contact him. He agreed to email me.
The more we communicated, the more we thought we were related. He provided me with a picture of John, one of my prize possessions. As it turned out, I met him and his wife in Dyer County, Tennessee. We spent three lovely days searching the deeds and courthouse records. We found many records for John and his subsequent wives. Some were surprising. However, we never found records that would confirm that John was the father of Edgar. I still had my doubts.
Eventually, Mike agreed to take a DNA test. He is my match. Since that time, I’ve been able to find records for one of John’s sisters. Her heirs match me as well.
I don’t know if Edgar wound up in the dark waters of the Mississippi. I am, however, thankful to Jean and Mike. Finding my Vaughn and Lane relatives were moments when the universe aligned to help me find Edgar’s father and mother. Jean and Mike are my favorite finds!
¹1880 U.S. census, Crockett, Tennessee, population schedule, Maury City, enumeration district (ED) 007, p. 240C, dwelling 121, family 121, Household of G. W. Maugham; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1249; Family History Film: 1255249.
²1880 U.S. census, Crockett, Tennessee, mortality schedule, District 7, p. 315, family 121, Marietta Lane; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Jan 2022); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 28. Death date transcribed as Jun 1879. However, Isaac Lane was 4/12 months old at the time the census was taken, indicating Marietta died in Jun 1880.
³Crockett, Tennessee, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, Settlement and Administrators Book, 3: 235, George W. Vaughn; FHL microfilm 179819001, Image 415 of 524, item Probate record for George Vaughn, 4 Jun 1906.