Treasure Chest Thursday: Great-Grandmother, Josephine: FOUND!

Josephine Burton Ford's funeral record.

One of the biggest mysteries in the search for my family’s history was that of my great-grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford for whom this blog is named.  Born and raised in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, she was married there, raised a family there, but disappeared after the 1920 census, the last record I had of her existence.  Since I’ve been searching for her, my thoughts about what may have become of her have run the gamut from her being the victim of a  brutal murder to her running off to start over somewhere she wouldn’t be found.

Thanks to volunteer, Ann Nash, art historian, Joel Brink, and Ocean Springs historian, Ray Bellande, the mystery has been solved.

According to the funeral record that my genealogy buddies forwarded to me, Josephine died on May 15, 1922.  The cause of death was tuberculosis.  She was 46. Her funeral was handled by Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home in Ocean Springs and she was interred at Evergreen Cemetery.  That’s the same place where her brother, Alfred Burton Stuart and her mother, Temple Burton were laid to rest.  Josephine’s father, Col. W. R. Stuart is in a different part of the cemetery in a family plot with his wife, Elizabeth McCauley Stuart. My great-grandmother is at peace with her family.

I’m still in a euphoric shock to finally have this big piece of my missing history illuminated. Perhaps this post would have been better left to Wordless Wednesday since I don’t quite have the words to express how grateful I am to know what happened to Josephine.  Thanks again to Ann, Joel and Ray for getting this vital document to me and to the wider genealogy blogging community for sharing in this journey.  You all are the best bunch of friends I’ve never met.

Now, I’m going to go look for Josephine’s burial spot at Evergreen.  It appears there are a lot of unknowns in unmarked graves around the area where Josephine’s mother and brother were buried, the first place I’ll look.

What ancestry mystery are you trying to solve?



Filed under African-American history, ancestry, geneology, Mississippi, Multiracial families, U.S. Census

18 responses to “Treasure Chest Thursday: Great-Grandmother, Josephine: FOUND!

  1. That is so awesome that you found Josephine!! I am so happy for you!

  2. How wonderful to find the funeral card. We have had such good luck with information there, as well. I am very happy for you!

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Bill 😉
    Author of “Back to the Homeplace”

  3. So happy you found this Dionne! Sad too, as she was so young

  4. KAREN

    Fascinating stuff, Dionne. Can’t wait to read more.

  5. Pat(ricia) Armstrong Watkins

    This is fantastic… so happy to hear the good news that has enabled you to put another piece of the puzzle into place in your search for Josephine.

    The ancestry mystery I am trying to solve is when did great grandmother Lillie A. Smith die and where is she buried.

    Lillie was born at Ocean Springs to Edgar & Annie Dove Smith about 1884 she died sometime after 1902 the year my grandmother Margaret ‘Maggie’ Williams was born. Family lore is she died when grandmother was about 8 yrs-old, which puts her death around 1910.

    Could she be buried in one of the unmark graves at Evergreen???

  6. I’m so happy that you have found your answer, but how sad that she was so young at the time of her death.

  7. WOW Dionne!! I’m just catching up but I could not be happier for you. We all love endings like this.

  8. I’m glad Ms. Josephine was found!

  9. That’s another wonderful find for you, Dionne! Many of my paternal ancestors died from tuberculosis between 1910 and 1930. Was there an “epidemic” in your family too (that you know of)?


  10. Jill Berke

    This is amazing news. Now that she’s been found, may she rest in peace. She deserves it. What an exciting journey for you. I have been watching from the genealogy sidelines, enthralled.

  11. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! The genealogy journey continues.

  12. kerri dunn

    How wonderful that you found her. Keep digging and’s a nice read before I hit the sack :-)!

  13. So happy that you found her!

  14. Monique Smith Andersen

    The level of excitement with this latest discovery in our search is up there with getting engaged, and the birth of my daughters! I was hoping to write something deep at this high point in our journey, but I’m still speechless!

  15. How awesome. Congrats on finding Josephine! I know this means the world to you, and makes all the effort worth while. I enjoy reading your blog and am thrilled for you.


  16. Congrats on your find Dionne! The Ancestors are busy these days! Can’t wait to see what Josephine has in store for you!:-)


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