Margaret “Maggie” Darlines Kelley Barnes 1851-1933. I am starting to believe you are not a direct ancestor to Samuel Tilden Barnes! And, if not you, then who?

When Margaret “Maggie” Darlines Kelley was born on February 18, 1851, in South Carolina, her father, William Henry Kelley, was 35, and her mother, Elizabeth Ann Taylor Kelley, was 26. She married Simeon Scarborough Barnes in 1875. They had eight children in 22 years. She died on January 18, 1933, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, at the age of 81, and was buried there.

The first resource materials that I found on Maggie were the 1860 and 1870 US census records. At the time of these census takings, Maggie was living with her birth family in Sumter County, South Carolina (the Bishopville Post Office). Her father was a farmer.

I believe that she married Simeon Scarborough Barnes in 1875 at the age of 24.

Usually, math works…right? Well, I have a math problem! The first child of Maggie, a son named Wilson Scarborough Barnes, was born on 31 August 1876 when Maggie was 25 years old. But her next child, also a son, Samuel Tilden Barnes, was born on 6 February 1877. It was this son (Samuel Tilden) who was the direct ancestor to my brother-in-law.

Can you see how very little time there would have been between the births of the 1st two sons? The math is wrong it would be too fast to get pregnant, give birth and have a child that premature that would be able to survive. My head started spinning. Have we got Samuel Tilden Barnes in the right family? (Note: There are only 159 days between the dates of birth. The dates from Ancestry mean that Samuel would have been born 5 months and 6 days after the birth of his brother- NOT POSSIBLE) So…what? Where to now? Were Simeon and Maggie really the parents of Samuel Tilden Barnes (my brother-in-law’s direct ancestor?) Back to the research materials…

It was helpful to see the 1880 US Census. Here, our Samuel Tilden (Chris’ great grandfather) is listed simply as “Tildon”. Note that Wilson and Tildon are listed as the children of Maggie in this census. So, this is good for the case that they were brothers…right? If they were brothers, how amazing that they are only 5 months apart! Is that possible?

I started to wonder about pre-mature births in the 1870’s. I found this link: https://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=575478.0 The comment that stood out was, “In 1876 there would not have been anything that could be done for a baby born too early, or with any significant problem.  They either survived or they didn’t, and the mother and her female supporters just did their best.” 

The next research I did was on grave markers and burial locations. Simeon Scarborough Barnes and Margaret Kelley are buried in Fitzgerald, Ben Hill County, Georgia, United States of America. The oldest son, Wilson, and several other children of the couple are also buried there… but NOT the direct ancestor to our family Samuel Tilden Barnes. Arrrghhhh… If Samuel was their son, why isn’t he buried with the rest of his family?

OK, back to census records and I hit a brick wall. In the 1900 US Census. Samuel Tilden Barnes in missing from the record!!! So…was he NOT the son of Simeon and Maggie? If so, then why was he listed in the 1880 census? Samuel Tilden would only have been a teenager and should be living with his family! Or, are they his family? Why was he in the 1880 census and not the 1900 census?

Here is another look at the troubling census of 1900. (The S.S. Barnes below would be Simeon Scarborough Barnes who I am starting to think is not the father of Samuel Barnes after all.) Again, the older brother Wilson is listed, but not our Samuel Tilden!

Stick with me here while I continue to unravel the mystery.

In a lawsuit filed after the death of Samuel Tilden Barnes, it states that Simeon Scarborough Barnes and Maggie were “next of kin”. Well, that means Samuel was related to them…but not necessarily their child. Right? The lawsuit is very tangled, but all of the right relative names are listed so … somehow, Samuel was “in the family” even though he is removed from many census forms and the math does not work for his birth date. He belongs with this family in some format, but could clearly NOT have been a biological son to Maggie. Oh dear!

Here is the link to Samuel Tildon Barnes’ grave site: Pay attention to the dates. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/67177080

Here is the link to his older brother Wilson Barnes’ grave site (again- note their births are too close together to be biological brothers from the same mother) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/52577889

In conclusion, here are my questions (if I can’t have answers, I can have questions)…

Was Samuel’s father Simeon Scarborough? If so, that means that Simeon had an affair with someone during his marriage.

Was Samuel a super premature birth?

Was he brought into the family? Here is one interesting clue from the Ancestry web site- see photo… (This would be VERY interesting!…Hard to trace) The Cherokee nation? Wow! (Oh, and the child listed below is not grouped with any parents???)

Or, my final guess. Was he actually the child of Simeon’s sister Margaret who died at about the time of Samuel’s birth? Margaret may not have been married so “giving” her son to her brother and sister-in-law may have been necessary. There are no birth records listing Simeon’s sister as a mother.

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