Friday, 6 February 2015

A Cautionary Tale of Two Willies

      "Aunt Pet", as my grandmother's family called her, lived with my Great Grandparents David and Etta Daughrity for many years and then with several Daughrity family members until her death in 1960. 
"Aunt Pet"
Willie Etta Dunlap
©Cheri Hudson Passey

               When I asked Grandmom, Azile Juanita (Daughrity) Roberts Sullivan (1921-2009), who Aunt Pet was one day while going through family pictures, she told me that she was just a woman that her parents helped out. She explained that Aunt Pet had no family and was deaf, having had measles as a child.  Grandmom didn't even know her real name and was sure that she was "no relation to us." 

Searching one day in a cemetery for the grave site of my Grandmother's sister, Lila Lorine (Daughrity) Robinson (1915-1951) , I discovered not only Lorine's grave but right next to her was a headstone for "Aunt Pet" with her full name-Willie Etta Dunlap (1877-1960)!
 Dunlap is a collateral name in my Daughrity/McManus family so I suspected there may have been a connection after all.

Grave Marker
Willie Etta Dunlap
"Aunt Pet"
Wateree Baptist Church Cemetery
Camden, Kershaw, South Carolina

  I began looking for information on Willie Etta's life. I found that she had indeed lived with the Daughrity family beginning in 1920 when she is found on the Sumter County, South Carolina Census living with my Great Grandparents Manning David Daughrity (1889-1931) and Loretta "Etta"(McManus) Daughrity 1894-193
    She is found again in the 1930 census living in the same Daughrity household and then with the daughters of David and Etta in 1940. One of those daughters was my then 18 year old Grandmother, Azile. William Etta Dunlaps's death certificate indicates her home address was that of my Grandmother's sister Mildred Chrystanella (Daughrity) Jolly Finfrock ( 1914-1906).
   The story that she had lived with a member of the Daughrity family for many years was confirmed. Now to find out if there was a family connection.
      Willie Etta's death certificate and obituary mention that she had been married. No name was given for her spouse. Looking for her in the Sumter, South Carolina 1910 census I discovered William Etta had married-to a man named William F. Dunlap! Oh, my! Willie Etta married a William! Now this could get confusing!  Moving back in time, I find "Etta W." and "Willie",husband and wife in the 1900 Census. They have been married for 3 years. She is the mother of 1 but 0 living.

   Further research on William F. Dunlap (1877-before 1920) shows that he is the son of Henry J. Dunlap and Martha (Holland) Dunlap (1858-1921). This was exciting because his parents names were familiar to me.
  Their daughter, Emma Lizzie (Dunlap) McManus (1880-1934), was the wife of George W. Mcmanus (1878-1940). George was the brother of my Great Grandmother Loretta "Etta" (McManus) Daughrity!
  Turns out that William F. Dunlap and Emma Lizzie Dunlap  were brother and sister so- Etta was letting her sister-in-law live with her!  More research needs to be done on Willie Etta to see if she was a Dunlap who married a Dunlap.

While searching for information on William F. Dunlap I discovered someone who was researching this same family. A family tree had been uploaded and sources linked.  As I looked through the information on his tree it looked like we had most of the same information- until I saw a census record attached to William F. Dunlap with "after 1940" listed as his date of death. That was something I just had to look into. William, as far as I could tell, died sometime before 1920 as Willie Etta was living with the Daughrity family in the 1920 census.  Did he know something that I didn't?  A click on the link for the census immediately showed the problem.  He had confused the Willies.

  The census that this researcher was citing was the 1940 Sumter County Census -the one for Williams F. Dunlap's wife, Willie Etta, in the Daughrity household.He had mistakenly attatched it to her husbands information. How had this happened? Looking at he index page, I saw that Willie was listed as a male. Index for Willie Dunlap in 1940 Sumter, SC Census

When looking at the actual online digital record, although it's off to the side, Willie is recorded as a Female.  Someone indexing the record looking at the name probably thought that the enumerator had made a mistake and "corrected" it. 

Year: 1940; Census Place: Sumter, Sumter, South Carolina; Roll:T627_3842; Page: 32A; Enumeration District: 43-27 Willie Dunlap

  Had this researcher taken the next step from the indexed record and looked at the actual census, he may have seen the mistake. It's so easy to just click and add to a family tree instead of really looking at the information those shaky leaves provide.
 This really struck home again the importance of looking at the original records or in this case the digital record. An index is just a tool to help get to the original.

And? I can understand the confusion. We have a Willie Etta, aka Willie, Williametta, and Etta W. married to a William F. aka Willie, W.F. and William.   

  I also realized from my second look at the census record that I had missed something. It was my Grandmother, Azile, who gave the information to the census worker, indicated by the symbol by her name. Grandmom knew that "Aunt Pet" was Willie Dunlap in 1940. She must have forgotten the name over time.
 A good example of the need to look at records again. You never know what you might have missed!

 Two Willies? Yes, and definitely part of the family.

Do you have an experience in not looking at the original? I'd love to hear from you!
Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. I thought for years my great grandfather lived in Illinois according to the 1930 census and played fast and loose with his age (as he frequently did). But when I started transcribing all my source documents and really looked at the image, I realized "his" sex was Female, "his" name was Mrs. Robert Muir, and "his" age did fit with my great grandfather's second wife. He was not living with his wife and children in 1930 and is still missing.

  2. How great to solve the puzzle of Willie/Aunt Pat. I too am in the process of reviewing early research to try and discover the name of my gg grandfather's father. He married twice and on one certificate his father's name is William, and on the other it is John - not helped by a popular local surname.

  3. How great to solve the puzzle of Willie/Aunt Pat. I too am in the process of reviewing early research to try and discover the name of my gg grandfather's father. He married twice and on one certificate his father's name is William, and on the other it is John - not helped by a popular local surname.

  4. Those tales of 2 Willie's I got them too....Great Photos. Great Find!

  5. That intriguing post title gave me a giggle and made me read on. YThanks for reminding us of a common error.


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