Sometimes ancestors you can’t find are actually there– just hiding in plain sight and listed under a different name. This was the case with my Pinkard relatives. I had been able to document them throughout much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but there was a 20-30 year gap where I couldn’t find any of them. It didn’t make sense, especially for relatives I knew were alive between 1910 and 1930, like my great-great-grandmother, Narcis Pinkard (nee Hamilton).
I was scanning a U.S. Census document when I noticed a white Pinkston family living in the same area of Georgia as my Pinkards. “Hmmm, that’s awfully close to Pinkard,” I thought. “I wonder if there’s a connection.”
As it turned out, there was. Kind of.
The reason I couldn’t find Narcis Pinkard in the 1930 U.S. Census was because she was listed as Narcis Pinkston. There she was, living in Lumpkin, Ga., a 65-year-old widow.
This opened up a slew of other research possibilities. I knew from other Census records that my great-grandfather, Narcis’ son Dorsey, had died a long time before his wife did, but I didn’t know exactly when. When I began searching for Pinkston instead of Pinkard, I came across Dorsey Pinkard’s death certificate, dated March 1927. He had died of pneumonia at age 48. (It says Doss Pinkston, but a Southern drawl can easily turn an r sound into a short o. The other confirmation was the spouse, my great-grandmother Adline).
Pinkston is a variation that was used at least for the next couple of generations. My grandfather Willie Pinkard sometimes used it, my mom said.
“We used to laugh about it, but when my dad used to introduce himself, he would say ‘Pinkson is the name.'”