I remember my grandma talking about her Aunt Sid and Aunt Fronie. At the time I was too young to realize I should pay attention, ask questions and take notes. These days I am regretting that more and more. It has turned out that these precious aunts she loved so much are the daughters of two of my three mile-high brick walls, John Johnson Butler and Sarah Rebecca Webb.
It seems their children are just as hard to research as they are. Census reports and grave markers only compound the problem. For whatever reason, this is a very hard family to find any information on. I started with Aunt Fronie who is also known as Saphronia V Butler. I found her two husbands, William M. Cotton and Zachariah Taylor Brooks, but quickly got sidetracked.
Months later I went to work on Aunt Sid. Other researchers, including the ones from our family, and census reports through 1870 have her name as Sidney C. Butler. That is the same name that is used in newspaper articles from the 1920’s and 30’s about family reunions. This information was provided by people who were old enough to actually have known her. She was still alive for some of those reunions. These same articles and researches have her married to Patterson W. Defee. So that was the information I started with.
Sidney C. Butler was listed on the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census reports with the John Johnson Butler family. So we know she was born before 1850. The reports have her year of birth as March about 1848. She was also listed on her father’s succession in 1868 as Sidney C. That was the total of information I could find. There was absolutely nothing on Patterson W. Defee.
At the same time I kept seeing a Sidie H. Butler who was married to Patrick W. Defee. Several people on Ancestry.com have her parents as JJ and Rebecca Butler. I wasn’t ready to go with that. All it takes is one person to put something on Ancestry and it travels like wildfire. Most of these trees have her name as Sidie Hartlie Butler. Her date of birth was being listed as 13 Mar 1853. Yes, it was March but it was three years after Sidney C. was born. Keep in mind Sidney C. was listed on the 1850 census.
Sidie H. Butler was only found on the 1880 through 1930 census reports. Matilda Eveline Webb Clemands is living a few doors down on the 1880 census. I believe Matilda is the sister of Sarah Rebecca. Sidie is said to be buried at Taylor Cemetery in Union Parish just outside of Farmerville. She has a memorial on Find A Grave but there is not a picture of the marker. The same can be said of Patrick W. Defee. However, he can be traced from his birth until his death.
Sidie and Patrick had two daughters, Nannie W G and Nora Jessie. Some have Nannie as Nannie Webb G but I have not seen any documentation that her name was Webb.
I worked on this for weeks and always ended up at the same place. I had nothing on Sidney C after 1870 and nothing on Sidie H before 1880. Both were married to a man who went by Pat Defee. One was Patterson W. and the other Patrick W. I even wrote it down on paper and compared the two side by side. The only answer was they could and could not be the same person.
At that point I decided to talk it out and used my mother as a sounding board. Mamas are good for that sort of thing. She knew who Aunt Sid was but never knew her. I laid it all out and gave her all the facts. My last point was that during that time most people named their children after close relatives. I then named off all of Nora’s children. That is when my mother informed me that she knew Corine, Nora and Ola V. She also reminded me that we had talked about them before and I had all of their obituaries. She was right. I had them and their other siblings in my database. The only members of the family I didn’t have were their parents, but I did know their family name was Williamson.
Why did I have their obituaries? They were in a box of obituaries and newspaper articles that my Grandma had saved. They were related to her. Unlike most people from Union Parish, I can not find any other connection to these siblings or their parents. The only possible connection would be if Sidney C. Butler Defee and Sidie H. Butler Defee was the same person. And like everyone else in that Butler family no one knows for sure when she was born.
Until I find otherwise, I have declared the mystery of Aunt Sid solved. It is now time to move on to Aunt Fronie.
As always, if anyone has additional information or corrections you would like to share please do so. If you would like to submit an article on your family, we will welcome those also. Our goal is to have an accurate account of the people of Union Parish.