History Mystery #1: The Case of the Missing Baby

My maternal grandfather, Moses Lee Easley

This handsome young man is my maternal grandfather, Moses Lee Easley. He died when I was 6, so I have very few memories of him. All I knew was that he grew up in Tennessee and served in World War I. That he had worked in the Oklahoma oil boom in the 1920’s—no one ever mentioned which town. That he and my grandmother had a baby who had died in infancy while living there. That in 1926 they had another son, my Uncle Charles, and shortly thereafter moved to central Oklahoma, where they lived most of the rest of their lives and where my mother was born and raised. And that was pretty much the extent of the information I had on my maternal grandparents.

Enter serendipity. Or divine intervention. Take your pick. Personally, I prefer the divine scenario, but to each his own.
A few years back, my uncle had sent me an envelope of family memorabilia. I looked at it briefly and filed it away. Several years after that, I moved to a small town in northeastern Oklahoma. One day I was looking through the things my uncle sent me and found a clipping from my grandparent’s Tennessee hometown paper announcing their wedding. To my utter astonishment, the 1919 wedding announcement said that they would make their home in the very same town in which I was now living.

Then I started wondering: If they were living here when their baby died, where was the baby buried? Wouldn’t it be great if, after all these years, a family member could put flowers on his grave?

This was the beginning of my genealogy obsession.
I went first to the town office to check the cemetery records. At that point I didn’t even know the baby’s first name. (Later my sister told me she remembered our mom saying his name was Samuel, which just goes to show you that you should interview your siblings as well older relatives.) But there was only one Easley in the town cemetery, and it was a woman who died in 1946. I searched on Find A Grave and Interment.net. No luck.
I looked on Ancestry.com and found my grandparents’ marriage date: June 1919. They show up in the 1920 census, living in our town, but no children are listed. I went to the county health department to request a search for a death record—none was found.

I have a certificate that shows their second son Charles (born 1924) on the cradle roll of a local church. There’s a church with a similar name still in town, and I plan to contact them to see if they have any records of Samuel’s birth or death. Of course there is always the possibility that, being an infant, he was buried in an unmarked grave. In which case, I’m out of luck. Maybe. I haven’t given up on the divine intervention.


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

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