A map of Dale County, Ala., where a branch of the paternal side of my family lived in 1880

That fact-finding trip I took to Enterprise, Ala., last month has helped me to uncover one more generation on the paternal side of my family. Until then, I knew that my great-grandmother’s parents were Frank Gilley and Flora Brown Gilley. Frank Gilley’s death certificate contained the names of his parents, Seaborn and Hannah Tindall, but Flora’s death certifcate was much more straightfoward, listing only her name and date of death.

Last month I met a man named Bernest Brooks who turned out to be a distant cousin. We were chatting about the Coffee County Training School and he casually mentioned that we were related. His grandmother, he said, was a sister to my great-great-grandmother, Flora Brown Gilley.

I also knew that Flora had two brothers, Bud and Charley. Armed with that information, I started to scour the U.S. Census for a Brown family in the Enterprise area with those names. This is what I found:

The fourth family listed on this 1880 U.S. Census, taken in Daleville, Ala., is the household of Edmond and Harriet Brown. I recently found out that they are my great-great-great-grandparents. One of their daughters was was Flora Brown Gilley, who was the mother of my great-grandmother, Mamie Gilley Nance

The only daughter listed was Harriet, obviously named after her mother. And with that, I was one step closer to identifying another generation of my family. Last week, I was talking to my Aunt Madie, one of my grandfather’s younger sisters. I told her about my visit to Enterprise and how I met  our cousin, Mr. Brooks. She confirmed that he was related to us, “through my mother’s mother,” she said, and described the relation the exact way Mr. Brooks did. I asked my Aunt Madie what Mr. Brooks’ mother’s name was. “Harriet,” she replied. This matched the name of the daughter in the 1880 Census, confirming that Flora Brown’s parents were Harriet and Edmond Brown.

(Based on this, I determined that Flora had to be among the oldest, if not the oldest, of her parents children. When this Census was taken, she was already married to Frank Gilley and living in Coffee County.)