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Jun 01, 2020

How I Found Laura Johnson (abt. 1864-1927) and Who She Married

Blog 130 Image 1
Blog 130 Image 1
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), South Carolina > Abbeville > Greenwood > ED 13 > image 5 of 76; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)

These are my great grandparents, Andrew Johnson and Jane Smith Johnson. I have spent quite a bit of time researching them and their children, but some I have not found besides here in this 1880 Census. At first, I thought Laura Johnson was Lula Johnson Vance, wife of my great grandfather, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance. Have you ever tried to find a female family member and only knew her birth name?

I decided to look around. Maybe she did not move far from home. The next available census is the 1900 Census. The place would have been the same, but the county’s name would have changed to Greenwood County, SC. I figured she had to be married by then. I searched and searched the families living in the Greenwood area for a Laura living near Andrew and Jane Johnson. 

It was not until I searched for a Laura with parents named Andrew Johnson and Jane Smith without putting in Greenwood County, SC did I discover a death certificate:

Blog 130 Image 2 cropped
“South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 26 March 2020), Laura Sims, 6 Nov 1927; citing , Sims, Laura, 1927, Department of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia; FHL microfilm 1,913,686.

That makes three Johnson girls who were born in Abbeville County, SC and lived in Carlisle, Union County, SC after marriage: Nunia, Lula, and Laura. Laura Johnson has married a Sims. She lived until 55 years old and was married to Berry Sims. Now, I could find two instances with her on the census, 1900 Census and the 1910 Census:

Blog 130 Image 3
“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 August 2014), South Carolina > Union > ED 68 Fish Dam Township Carlisle village > image 12 of 45; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

I would love to find the one child Laura had that lived. She had given birth to two. I need to research Zula Moore below who is listed as stepdaughter of Berry Sims. She could be the daughter of Laura:

Blog 130 Image 4
“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 June 2017), South Carolina > Union > Fishdam > ED 113 > image 37 of 46; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Laura left Berry widowed until his death in 1948 at 84 years old. She had been dead since 1927. I need to research this funeral director because my grandmother mentioned him awhile back. I also need to research the informant, Mary Lyles. The names Sims and Lyles are family names on the other side of my family. 

Blog 130 Image 5
“South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 23 July 2017), Laura Sims in entry for Berry Sims, 25 May 1948; citing , Sims, Berry, 1948, Department of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia; FHL microfilm 2,397,947

So, you can see that it is possible to find a female relative if you do not know her married name. I can research her and her family in records for Union County, South Carolina by starting with the resources on the Research Wiki.

Sharpen the Saw

What did you do to locate a female ancestor in your family without having the married name or birth name? Let us know what you did or if you still need assistance on our Facebook Page.