United States Genealogy

The Mystery of Ruth and Ruby Patterson.

Ruth and Ruby are one of the many mysteries in my family history. Ruth and Ruby are twins born around 1902 in Crockett County, Tennessee. They are the daughters of my second great grandparents James William Patterson, born 1 February 1863 in Gadsen, Crockett, Tennessee and Jimmie Ella Smith, born 1868 in Gadsen, Crockett, Tennessee. James and Jimmie had seven children, John Issac, Marth Mozelle, Jessie L, Mary Lucricia, Howard Alexander (My great grandfather), Ruth and Ruby.

It is a mystery as to what happened to Ruth and Ruby. We can find no marriage record or headstone or any type of death record. I found all the other children marriages and have families. The only time we see Ruth and Ruby is on the 1910 US Oklahoma Census.

1910 US Census Oklahoma, Custer, Clinton Ward 2 District 0119. Image from Ancestry.

Full 1910 Census Oklahoma, Custer, Clinton Ward 2, District 0119. Patterson family is last on page. Image from Ancestry.

In the census, pictured above, it lists the parents James and Jimmie and 6 of their children, John I, Jessie, Mary Lou, Howard A, Ruth and Ruby. This is where the mystery begins. If you look closely to the census there are couple of numbers in the lines after the parents James and Jimmie. One is that they have been married for 25 years and then next is how many children they have and how many children they have living. According to this census they had 7 children and 5 living. This was not adding up there are 6 children listed on the census and their daughter Marth Mozelle was married and living in Cuba with her Methodist Minister husband. So we know where all seven of the children are. The other thing that is interesting is that both Ruth and Ruby are listed as not attending school and not able to read or write.

So how do we have an account for all 7 children but it says they only have 5 children living? I am not sure how Ruth and Ruby are listed on this census. I knew my great aunt was also working on this side of the family history. So I went to my aunt to ask some questions. She then told me that her father, Howard Alexander, said that when his mother was pregnant with the twins he accidentally pulled out a chair from under his mother and she lost the twins. This was when the lived in Tennessee. So I went on a search to find some type of cemetery record and found nothing. As my great aunt and I both tried to find Ruth and Ruby we could not find anything. After talking with her we wondered if maybe they would be in an insane asylum since they were listed as not being able to read or write maybe they were born disabled. From what I had learned for children that had some type of disability would have been put in an asylum but I also came up short there.

So I could not find any burial record for them in Tennessee or Oklahoma. I have not found any other record for Ruth or Ruby anywhere. I am not sure why or how they ended up on the census or if the census taker made a mistake. I am not sure if they died in 1902 or 1910. To this day I have not been able to locate them. My guess is that they were not living when the census what taken and for some unknown reason they were listed there. I am grateful they were listed on the census or they would have been children we never knew existed. This is one of those mysteries that may never be solved but I will keep checking and looking for Ruth and Ruby.

6 thoughts on “The Mystery of Ruth and Ruby Patterson.”

  1. Mysteries like these can drive us nuts Jennifer. I have a few in my own family. One was solved recently after I’d given up looking so there is always hope. I like the way you’ve organised your thoughts over the mystery. #geneabloggers


  2. An intriguing family puzzle. Good that you continue to search. Hope one day soon you will find a record like an obituary or a church event mentioning Ruby and Ruth. Perhaps someone (the enumerator or the family) misunderstood the census directions? Married, widowed, or divorced women were asked how many children they’d had (not including stillborn children)
    and how many were living. (Not including their husband’s from a previous marriage, for instance.) So there can be discrepancies. But maybe someone thought the census should include the names of all children born to the woman? I wonder if there are any other ‘odd’ entries by this enumerator? 1910 Census instructions, US Census Bureau: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/technical-documentation/questionnaires/1910/1910-instructions.html


  3. Fascinating story about a common problem for a common issue when doing family research. Your description is great.
    In my, family it was always told that my great grandparents had 3 children + 1 older step son (from 1st marriage of mother to father’s brother). Germany got to documentation systems which are independent documentation systems:
    1) church records
    2) governmental city registry records (which became mandatory for everybody since the 1860s/70s
    When checking church records of home vilage, these matched to the family knowledge. When later checking against city records, I learned, great grandmother got pregnant 2 more times: 1st was a stillborn boy; 2nd were twin girls, one a stillbirth, the other died on day of birth. Seems great grandparents in their grieve decided neither doing emergency baptizing for 2nd twin girl nor register the 3 kids in church records. To my surprise were the 2 twin girls documented with first names in the city records. Further details and circumstances have never been clarified.

    But for me lessons learned was: never give up, always verify German church records & city records against each other (if church documentation was done after 1860).
    PS: government census and tax records in Germany are annonymus (census) and considered confidential (both). So such research source available in you country doesn’t exist only for 18th century and earlier


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