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A few weeks ago I happened upon a marriage certificate that I thought may shed some light on the mysterious life of my great-grandmother, Rachel Bryant. The most puzzling thing was that I couldn’t find any evidence of either of them afterward. Until now.

I was reviewing some Census records, trying to figure out my other great-grandparents’– Dorsey and Adlina Pinkard– migration patterns from Chattahoochee County, Ga. to Stewart County, Ga. when I noticed who their neighbors were in Florence in 1920. A few houses down lived a family of Bryants, and next door to them, the Hendley family, headed up by 56-year-old Alexander Hendley and his wife, Leathey.  A boarder named Simon Hendley lived in house between the Bryants and the Pinkards.

Hendley. That’s awfully close to Healey, I thought. And a rushed  hand might scrawl what looks like Healey instead of Hendley.

hendley

This U.S. Census, taken in 1920 in Florence, Ga., shows Simon Hendley living near my great-grandparents Dorsey and Adlina Pinkard. I believe this Simon Hendley, a sawmill worker, was the same man who married my great-grandmother Rachel Bryant in 1919.

Simon Hendley was born in the late 1880s or early 1890s in Georgia. Like my great-grandmother Rachel, he  grew up in Florence, Ga. The marriage certificate I found was filed in Stewart County, Ga. in 1919, which makes it all the more likely that this was my great-grandmother listed on the document.

If this were the case, it makes sense that Rachel and Simon met and married. The Bryants that lived near the Pinkards weren’t Rachel’s parents, but her uncle, William Bryant, and his wife, Marie. (Will and Marie Bryant went on to raise Rachel’s daughter, my grandma Lula, who was born in 1925). Interestingly enough, Simon Hendley listed himself as widowed in 1920.

I do know for a fact that in 1920, my great-grandmother wasn’t dead. But maybe she was dead to Simon. Maybe their ever after wasn’t so happy after all.

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