We have been trying to track down my great grandfather, Charles P. Cantrell. He & my great grandmother (Mary Alice Wilson) married in 1906 in Jackson County, TN. That has been the only definitive record we have had for a long time on their marriage & even proving my great grandfather even existed. I had all but given up hope that I would find him. They had two children, my grandfather, the youngest, born in 1910.

I started looking into different Charles P. Cantrell's on Ancestry.com and found one in Jackson County, TN on a census in 1910. He is living back at home with his father and step-mother, is stated as married (M1 on census) and married for 4 years, doesn’t state any children. But no wife, nor children back with him, he is alone. The age range matches the range he would have been & the marriage dates match too.

Now, on the marriage certificate, it says ‘CP Cantrell aspires of FM Dennis’ to marry. We have no idea who FM Dennis is and have never heard that name before. So when I looked at the 1910 census I noticed that there is a ‘Frank Dennis’ (occupation is Superintendent of Country Private Farm) living next door to my great grandfather who has now come back home. So my family and I are thinking that what probably happened is that FM Dennis, a prominent person in the community with his occupation (?), signed for them to get married and they knew him since he lived next door to my great grandfather. (We do have my great grandfather & his family on a 1900 census, but they are living somewhere else. I’m thinking that they had moved by 1906 when he & my great grandmother got married & was maybe working for FM Dennis or something). We have my great grandmother on a census a few towns over in 1910 working as a servant. So maybe she left him (or vice versa) & he had to go live back with his dad for awhile. We are looking at FM Dennis as the link to confirm that this is my great grandfather & would like your professional opinion on that.

How can I confirm that this is the correct Charles P. Cantrell?

1 Answer 1


Taking a look at the 1910 Census Image clears up some of the mystery. Frank Dennis occupation is Superintendent of County Poor Farm, not private farm. This in confirmed in the far left column where the address is listed as Poor House. That might explain the need for approval from Mr. Dennis. The first names following the Cantrell farm are Wilson's, so if Mary Wilson was part of the family included that had fallen on hard times,hence the permission req.

As to if this is your ancestor, odds are good if the Dennis name is listed on the marriage cert., especially if Charlies DOB and any other later census info coincides with any of this entry.

Of course you should follow Herman & Martha through later census to make sure this Charlie isn't still in their household later when he is supposed to be elsewhere. The fact that this family is working on or near a county facility does open the door to further records which may be looked for, such as any records concerning the alms house, or land contracts/deeds for the adjacent property.

Note: I did find this is one of those locations where some county records have been destroyed in fire, so some of these documents(discussed on this FamilySearch County info page) may have been destroyed...

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