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Sunday, July 6, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #27 William T. Hairston was found in Poor School Records

The solid lines indicate that the connection to the family is documented while
the dotted lines indicate that direct evidence has not yet been found to
make the connection. Click on the family tree to see a larger image.

H. B. Hearston was found living in Elbert County, Georgia on the 1820 United States Census.  There is a good chance that H. B. Hearston is Hugh Brown Hairston. 

No Story Too Small
I have not been always been convinced that this was Hugh Brown Hairston as the number of children that year did not match what is known about his family. This family on the census consisted of two adults and six children.  Mary Lee Anderson wrote in her manuscript, The WHITAKERS and Related Families, that Hugh Brown Hairston married Sarah McElhaney  and had children, James McElhaney, John Lewis, Robert, Vinson, Sam, Rebecca, Jane, and Mary. I know that James was born in 1808 and John in 1812. The birth year of Rebecca is unknown and later census records tell us that the other said children were all born after 1820. 

However, last week, I found a new document in the Elbert County, Georgia records at FamilySearch. On May 19, 1823, Rebecca A. Hairston, James M. Hairston, John L. Hairston, and William T. Hairston were found on a list of poor students whose parents did not pay the necessary school tax. There are over 1000 pages of poor school documents found in the Elbert County court records and I searched them all. This was one of the earliest poor school documents and the only record mentioning Hairstons. Most of the records from the 1830s and 1840s mentioned the father, but not this early record.  

The document gives two previously unknown bits of information about this family. Rebecca A. Hairston was probably the oldest daughter and there might have been another son, William T. Hairston. William T. was not mentioned in Mary Lee Anderson's manuscript. Was he a son of Hugh Brown and Sarah? A nephew? Or, did he die young? 

So, on the 1820 census record there were five males under the age of 10. They could be James M. (he might have been older), John L., William T. and two unknowns. There is one female between the ages of 10 and 15. It could be Rebecca A. 

Do you believe that this could be the Hugh Brown Hairston family? 


© 2014


1820 U S Census; Census Place: Talom, Elbert, Georgia; Page: 182; NARA Roll: M33_8; Image: 127.

Anderson, Mary Lee. Volume II The WHITAKER and Related Families. Date unknown. Print and online. 

"Georgia, Elbert County Records, 1790-2002," images, FamilySearch (,355829101 : accessed 07 Jul 2014), Court records > Court records-poor schools box 5 1802-1950 > image 49 of 511.

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