About a month ago I had a Sunday sick day. You might think from one of my previous posts that I spent most of that day baking bread, but I actually spent more time blogging about the bread than I spent baking it. I spent a good part of the day listening to Rootstech videos and part of the day reorganizing my family history binders. When I finally got around to focusing on a family history research project, I decided to look into the sad tale of Pearl Hedrick. There is a great deal of conflicting information about her family. Names are rarely spelled the same way more than a few times and dates never seem to match up well.
Pearl is the youngest daughter of Luella Bethaney Sinor and William Headrick. Luella Bethaney Sinor was the daughter of James Franklin Sinor and Martha M Smothers. According to the 1880 census Luella B Sinor was 3 years old in 1880. The census index has her age as 5 years old. Yet her headstone in the Heiskill Cemetery in Baxter County clearly lists her year of birth as 1872. I'm glad we can look at the original documents because it is a very clear 3 on the 1880 census. However, I will not cast stones at the indexers as I'm sure I have made my share of indexing mistakes. The name on her headstone is Bethaney Headrick. I am absolutely certain we are talking about the same person because of corroboration from my mother and other family information.
My mother went to school with three of Pearl's children when she lived in Arkansas with her grandparents, Enos Henry Sinor and Lillie Etta Heiskill. Her great grandparents, Randolph Sinor and Laura Cunningham, lived only a quarter mile up the hill from her grandparents' house. Pearl Hedrick lived in a house on the same property as Randolph and Laura Sinor along with her four children, Claude, Eugene, Pearl, and Daisy. Cozette and her sister Dolores went there about once a week, usually to play with Pearl's children. Mom recalls Claude as being a good kid. He was out of school as he was 17 years old and their school only went to the eighth grade. Mom recalls that Eugene skipped school more often than he went and he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. He lost part of his hand when he set off a blasting cap. He was holding the blasting cap in one hand while striking it with a hammer. He was often getting into trouble and Mom thinks he spent some time in jail when he got older.
Pearl Hedrick was born in 1907. Her mother died giving birth to her. For some reason she was raised by her aunt and uncle, Randolph Sinor and Laura I. Cunningham. Possibly, her father didn't feel he could properly care for a new baby. Since I don't know the exact circumstances, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Her father remarried within the next three years to Ella Coil/Conley. I found them on the 1910 census in Baxter County with a combined family of ten children. However, Pearl continued to live with Randolph and Laura who raised her as their own daughter. Mom recalls Pearl always called them Mam and Pap. I don't know how much contact she had with her father or older siblings as a child, but they lived in the same county until at least 1918. I found William E Hedrick's draft registration card which showed him living in Buffalo, Arkansas on September 12, 1918. I also found William Hedrick on the 1920 census living in adjacent Marion County, Arkansas. Mom doesn't recall Pearl ever speaking about her father's family.
Pearl Hedrick married a man with the last name Howard. She had four kids by him and was living with him in Chicago when he murdered someone and was put into an insane asylum. She then moved back to Arkansas with her children and lived with Laura and Randolph Sinor. They had a house built for her and her children next to their house. She helped take care of Randolph and Laura Sinor in their old age. When Pearl's children were grown Aunt Ellar Haney got old and moved into nearby Gassville, Arkansas. Pearl moved into town with her and helped care for Aunt Ellar in her old age. Mom also recalled that Pearl outlived both of her daughters. It would seem that she lived a life of service, with much time spent caring for others. However, she certainly suffered more than her share of personal tragedy.
I haven't much information about Pearl's family beyond what I have written in this blog post. I haven't been able to find a record of her marriage to Mr. Howard. I suppose if I spent enough time looking through archives of Chicago newspapers I might be able to identify him. After all, how many insane men were there in Chicago in the 1940s with the last name Howard. Surely there were public hearings and a trial as part of the process that sent him to the insane asylum. I did find Pearl and her children on the 1940 census living in Chicago. There was no husband in the home so the murder probably happened before the date of the 1940 census.
I spent some time working on the family of Luella Bethany Sinor and William Hedrick with my grand daughter, Madelynn. We were able to better identify Pearl's siblings and found marriage records for a number of them. We're looking forward to submitting the names for the temple and contributing to reuniting a family divided by tragedy.
On the subject of Arkansas marriage records, I have learned to be very skeptical of accuracy of the listed age for the bride. It seems that it was pretty common for the bride's age on the marriage record to be 18 or 19 when every other record showed the girl to have been 15 or 16. It is always a bit of a conundrum in family history work to deal with conflicts in dates, ages, and names. We often have to decide which record is more reliable. The general rule is that the closer a record is to an event, the more likely the information is accurate for that event. For instance, the date of birth on a birth record is considered more reliable than a birth date obtained from a death record. Then there is the problem of records where there was some incentive to provide inaccurate information, like the age of a bride on a marriage record or the age of a man on a draft registration card. Familysearch now allows sources to be attached to individuals so I've been very busy doing just that. It is so nice when other family members look at the family tree in Familysearch that they can see the actual records I used in compiling that portion of the family tree.