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Sometimes you have to play a bit of the name game during genealogical research. In my family, it’s not uncommon for folks to go by a couple of names. (suggested reading: Pinkard Cast of Characters).

The same is true on my dad’s side of the family. I had been researching Sallie Whitehurst, who was my great-great-great-grandmother. (She had a son named Rubin, who had a son named Marion, who a daughter named Ruth– my paternal grandmother). I had been searching and searching for Sallie Whitehurst, but came up with nothing. Then I found Rubin Whitehurst’s death certificate and noticed that his mother was listed as Sarah Whitehurst.

“Ah, yes,” I thought. “Sallie is a nickname for Sarah!”

And so I began a feverish search for Sarah Whitehurst and happened upon an entire branch of a family that was previously unknown to me.

In the 1866 Alabama Census Sarah Whitehurst was living in Pike County, Ala., with three children. They’re unnamed in the document, but there are two girls and a boy, all younger than 10. In the 1870 U.S. Census, the three children are still with her, and they have names– Tobe, Margaret and Rebecca. (They’re  7, 12 and 10, respectively). By 1880, Sarah has relocated to Barbour County, Ala. Tobe and Margaret have left the household, but Rebecca is still in the household. Sarah also has three grandchildren, Marg. J, Maggie and Major.

So far, that’s the last record of her I’ve been able to find. But, as I’ve realized time and again, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there.