Brick walls are a term that every genealogist, hobbyist or professional, learns eventually, much to our regret. Some people hit them early, some hit them later in the research, but they always come somewhere. They tend to become a frustration and an obsession, something that draws us back again and again. After all, the brick wall is the ultimate mystery, and solving the mystery is why many of us love genealogy. One of my greatest frustrations and mysteries is one of my great-great-grandfathers in my paternal line, George Washington Perrett.
Ironically, I probably have more paper on this man than most of the other individuals in my entire family tree, simply because he was involved in some court cases that generated reams of paper. But despite all that, I still don’t know where he came from or who his parents were. Family records say he was born on Sept. 9, 1852 in Mississippi, but not exactly where or to whom. In fact, the first time we see him at all in any records is his marriage to Mary Elizabeth Bell in Jefferson, Alabama, on May 18, 1881. That information was pulled from the IGI. Can we find him in the 1880 census? The 1870? The 1860? Haven’t yet.
In fact, the first time G. W. Perrett shows up in any census I’ve found is in 1900, when he’s already 48. He’s living in Tarrant County, Texas, with his wife, Mary, and their children: George Jr., Charles Morgan, William M., Eugene, Oscar, Chloe, Grace and Gladys. Four other children had died in infancy already. They would go on to have two more, Agnes and Mary. In 1908, their mother, Mary Elizabeth died, according to her death certificate, from ‘overwork and exhaustion’. After so many children, I can see why, even if that wasn’t uncommon. Thus, G.W. shows up again with his kids in 1910 as a widower in Tarrant County, Texas. He’s also there in 1920, and is said to have died in California in 1928 (age 75) and be buried in L.A., supposedly in Forest Lawn. I say supposedly because of a lot of this is information received from a great-uncle that I have yet to document myself. It may be completely true, but I cannot source it yet.
Who was George Washington Perrett? Where did he come from? Who were his parents? Was he running from something? Did he change his name? Or was he only one that moved about a lot (the various birthplaces of his children indicate as much) in his youth, making him hard to nail down? I wish I knew.
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