Saturday, October 25, 2014

Disappointment and Frustration in Genealogy Research...Brick Wall: Louella Ledbetter Bussey

We all have them...the dreaded Brick Walls. Dead end. End of the line.  Nothing more to be found.  The end of the paper trail.  If we are lucky, our brick wall is several generations back, may be even in the 1600's but some of us have a one or two generation brick wall.  These are the ones that we really do have an opportunity to break through; since the records, in theory should be there.

One of my most stubborn brick wall ancestors is Louella Ledbetter Bussey.  Better known as Ella Bussey, my great great grandmother on my paternal grandmother's paternal side. I have nothing definitive about who her parents were.

Louella Ledbetter is supposed to be born 10 December 1872 in Georgia.  Her Family Bible lists this as her birth-date and it corresponds with the census records as well as her death certificate.  Where in Georgia is in question.  There is family lore that she was from Rabun County, Georgia; but I have nothing that proves that.

The first place that we think we have located Ella Ledbetter is in the 1880 Census. She is listed living with an Elizabeth Lawrence in Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia.  Ella is named as Louella and is 9 years old and is listed as Granddaughter to Elizabeth.  Also listed is her brother Jene (Eugene).  Both were born in Georgia, with parents being born in NC.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Gainesville, Hall, Georgia; Roll: 150; Family History Film: 1254150; Page: 10C; Enumeration District: 132; Image: 0355.

There is a bit of family lore about our Louella Ledbetter.  Her mother is supposed to be named Alice (my grandmother was reported to have been named after her). She was orphaned and was mistreated by relatives.  They "scalped" her (cut off all her hair).  These are stories that were passed down to her grand daughters that have passed them to me and my cousin.  Mr. Bussey, (Samuel T. Bussey) that she married "found her" and they were married.

Louella Ledbetter married Samuel T. Bussey 30 December 1886 in Fulton County, Georgia.  This would make her just barely 14 years old and Samuel 30 years old.  Family lore again alleges that she was 12 years old.  I have found the image of the marriage book confirming that they were married.  I recently sent for the marriage application from Fulton County Probate Court, but received the reply that they couldn't find anything (of course they couldn't; it stated that they searched from 1979 to present; though I specified on the form to do a search prior to 1979 AND gave them the date).  I know that there had to be someone to sign for her since she was under-aged, but have yet to find any information. It seems that the state of Georgia did not require applications for marriage licenses until the 1920's.  This is where frustration really starts to seep in, strong. Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data:
County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

My cousin and I have tried to find any information about the church, 7th Baptist Church, with no luck.  We did find some information about the Rev. W.R. Dale that was pretty interesting.  While this information was interesting, it did not bring me any closer to finding out any information about my great great grandmother. 

1887 December 19 Ella and Samuel T Bussey's first son is born, Willis Collier Bussey.  She is about 15 years old and they have been married just short of one year.  

1890 January 7 Their second son, Samuel T. Bussey JR is born.  Ella is about 17 years old.

1892 November 19, Their third son, John Colvin Bussey is born.  Ella is almost 20 years old.  This is my great grandfather. 

1898 March 13 Fourth son is born, James Jefferson Bussey.  Ella is 25 years old. 

1900 Census--I have not located on this census, suspect it to be indexed incorrectly.  

1905 May 15   Son Samuel T. Bussey JR dies of meningitis according to a newspaper article.  He was 15                               years old. Ella was 33 years old. 

1910 Census--Ella is listed as living with her husband Samuel T and son James.  She lists her birthplace as being GA and both parents in GA.

1914 November 9  Ella's husband Samuel T. Bussey SR dies.  He was 58 years old and Ella was 42 years old.  
1916 July 28 Ella is named among many in a lawsuit by "a relative" Julia Lawrence.  Ella is 44 years old.  We have realized that this Julia Lawrence is one of the people she lived with in 1880 in Hall County, Georgia.  This Julia is a daughter of Elizabeth Lawrence that was listed as being Ella's grandmother in that census.  I have not been able to successfully prove this relationship.  

1920 Census--Ella is listed as Head of Household, living with son James and running a boarding house.  She again lists her birthplace as GA and both her parents as GA.

1929 Dec 4  Eugene Ledbetter dies at her home.  It is supposed that this is her brother "Jene" from the 1880 Census.  His parents are listed as Alice Mull and John Ledbetter and the informant is Ella's son James.  We have searched extensively for an Alice Mull and a John Ledbetter that were together but have found nothing.  
Also we have not been able to locate Eugene Ledbetter in any census record.

1930 Census--Ella is listed as head of household, living with son Colvin (listed as Culvier and this is actually John Colvin, my great grandfather).  Again she lists her birth place as GA and both her parents as being born in GA.  

1940 Census--Ella is listed as head of household, living alone.  She still lists her birthplace as GA.  Nothing is asked about parents on this census.  

1962  Ella passes away at age 90.


Located brother, Eugene Ledbetter, death certificate.  He died at Ella's home and her son was the informant.  Parents listed as John Ledbetter and Alice Mull.  We can presume that Ella told James the information, but cannot be certain. 

The Mortuary Notice in the newspaper for Eugene Ledbetter did not offer any family information at all. 

Still unable to locate Eugene Ledbetter in any census records.


Julia T. Lawrence--died 12 January 1921.  Death certificate has no family information.  She is presumed to be Ella's aunt.  Her obituary lists her three sisters (also presumed to be Ella's aunts) Miss Ella Beavert (who we know was not married, had two daughters and was "adopted" and took on the name of Beavert), Mrs. C.S. Brown (this is Stasy, she married Clinton Stephen Brown in 3 Aug 1881 at age 15 in Hall County, Georgia) and Mrs. M.I. Fretwell (this is Maud that married George Pearson Fretwell in 1883 at age 20) and one brother C.L. Lawrence (this is Carson). 

Ella Lawrence (Beavert)--Her death certificate is filed incorrectly.  It lists her name as Elizabeth Lawrence and her mother as Mary Ella Lawrence.  It should be the other way around.  She was born 16 May 1850 (according to the death certificate) and she died 10 Feb 1925.  The informant was Mrs. DR Burrell of Rabun Gap, GA.  Her birthplace is listed as Burke County, NC.  


Further analyse the court case between Julia Lawrence and Ella Bussey to see if the family relationship is mentioned.  

Find Death Certificate for Elizabeth Lawrence--it may provide her parent's names and would help to figure out where in NC she was from and trace her family back further.  

Find Death Certificates for Maude Lawrence Fretwell--see who her father was and where she was born in NC.

Find Death Certificate for Carson Lawrence for the same information. 

If you read through all of this, bless your heart and have a drink!  We are at a loss in trying to figure out what way to go next in getting back further with Ella's family.  We have been in contact with a descendant of Elizabeth Lawrence but he has not been able to figure out if Ella Ledbetter Bussey was related to his family or not.  There was no family stories about her passed down.  We have requested that he take a DNA test to see if he matches to me, my grandmother and a cousin to help us determine if Ella was indeed related to Elizabeth Lawrence and not just a person that took her and Eugene in when they were orphaned.  If you have any ideas on how we could further research please leave me a comment.  We are open to anything at this point.

1 comment:

  1. Have you done an autosomal DNA test with anyone in this family line or yourself? I was just looking up this Ledbetter as the end of the line person in a DNA match of my mother's who shares a big X match and smaller autosomal match. Ledbetter is in her tree possibly as this is the name of an Oney Ledbetter that married a SHANKLE that is linked to my mother somewhere. We have tested everywhere and then uploaded the DNA to Gedmatch. Contact me at if you have done so - and I will see if there is a match. -