Genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org provide a wealth of information on our ancestors. We, as the descendants, pull together memorial pages to show relationships and to remember those who came before us. These are great resources for most people.
There are, however, many people from the past that are not well-documented or are absent from the records on those sites.
People from long ago, before common written records, and some immigrants are often missing from these records and their individual memories are possibly lost to us forever. This is especially true of those who were brought here enslaved and those already living here when the Europeans came here. Though we may not remember them as individuals, their lives still matter in our accomplishments, our culture and our DNA. Even so, we cannot do much, if anything, to document their lives.
Estranged people and messy lives
There are many occasions, especially when searching newspapers, that my heart goes out to people in sad situations who are very difficult to find in the genealogy records as implemented on the several research sites. This can often be attributed to these people having turbulent lives and/or being estranged from their families. We are identified by the other people in our lives, and if those relationships are messy, we can disappear in the chaos.
One such example is that of the woman pictured in the accompanying newspaper clipping from 1961. Jimmie Sue Marshall Waldrup was about 19 years old, five or six months pregnant, and hitchhiking from Augusta, Georgia to Tampa, Florida.
Another example of a “genealogically missing person” is the man who gave her a ride, Carlos Camacho. He killed her on 19 September 1961 near Lakeland, Florida, about 30 miles from her destination.
In the news, not the family tree
I can find several news articles about the investigation into Jimmie Sue’s death and Carlos pleading guilty to her murder. I provide links below. I found the Prison Record for Carlos, complete with his “sad eyes mugshot,” where he was released in 2006, probably because he was in poor health, near death.
I have not yet found their families or their graves. I invested about 5 hours in the search, with no solid results.
Jimmie Sue had a short cursory obituary with no details on relatives or burial.
None of the 15 listed Carlos Camacho recent graves are good possibilities. If he’s still alive, he likely doesn’t want to be found.
Very few records on the genealogy sites are even remotely match the lives of these two people. These people are not included on the family trees built by members on Ancestry.com. It seems unlikely that either had children.
What to do?
Since genealogical websites are constructed around family trees, you can’t adequately include someone if you can’t identify their relatives. One article cites an “Aunt Sara Hopson” from Zavalla, Texas, who identified the deceased woman as “Jimmie Sue Marshall” and said she knew Jimmie’s husband of four years only as “Wood.” I think I have found Sara, although she does not seem to have a brother-in-law named “Marshall.” She did have a son-in-law with the last name “Marshall,” however I cannot find a daughter “Jimmie.”
None of the obituaries in that family mention a sister/daughter named “Jimmie Sue.” It may be that a 15 year-old who runs off and gets married also gets forgotten by the family. Or, I may be searching the wrong family.
Since Jimmie Sue was born after the last-released 1940 Census, she isn’t included there. She should be included in the 1950 Census which will be released later this year. This might be one of many “secrets” that will be revealed in that release.
As for Carlos, I speculate that he had little family connection before his crimes and even less when he was released from prison.
In the end, there is probably family that does remember them. They may be heartbroken, or they may be relieved that there is no further threat to their reputation.
Beyond posting this article, there may be little I can do to insure that Jimmie or Carlos are remembered. It’s hard to research in this direction – from “lost” person to family, especially if the family is estranged. When a family (or friend!) identifies a “lost” relative for me to find, then I usually can find the story of what happened, and rebuild at least some connection.
Contact me if there is someone you want to be remembered better…