My great-great-grandfather, George William Comer was born 18 August 1857 in Advent, Jackson County, (West) Virginia. At the time of his birth Jackson County was still a part of Virginia. West Virginia was granted statehood on 20 June 1863 after western Virginians voted in 1861 to secede from Virginia due to the course Virginia was taking in seceding from the Union. The Virginia/West Virginia question has always been a difficult one for me in my genealogy adventures. Technically, George William Comer (and many others in my family tree from this time period) was born in Virginia. It was the state of Virginia at the time. It was pointed out to me recently that the 1870 and 1880 census generally list births before this date as taking place in Virginia and after, West Virginia. Later, however, births long before this date were listed as West Virginia and the death certificates I have seen also list West Virginia. I was unable to decide how to list these until I recently posed the question at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and was told to list the place as what it was at the time of the event. Makes perfect sense. Mystery solved.
George’s father, as listed on his death certificate and found on census records, was William Comer. His son-in-law, Russell Bailes (my great-grandfather) was the informant for his death certificate which states George’s mother’s name is “not obtainable.”
George William was born in 1857. I have been able to find one brother, Daniel, born in 1862, who was born to William and George’s mother. I have located an 1860 census that appears it could be this family but I am not sure yet. The 1870 census shows his father remarried and having a child with his new wife in 1866. So George’s mother died sometime between 1862 and 1866 when he was between five and nine years old. Considering his mother’s name is unknown, it is likely he never spoke of her. Perhaps she died earlier rather than later. Could it have been in childbirth with his brother?
On the 1870 census, 12-year-old George is going by William. His brother Daniel is eight. He also has two half-sisters, Sarah, 5, and Louisa, 2. I have not been able to locate George definitively on the 1880 census. His father and stepmother have added four more brothers and one sister. He was 23 and no longer living with his father.
I have also not found him on the 1900 census. By then he had married Nicatie Gibson, and between 1888 and 1896, they had three sons and three daughters, the last being my great-grandmother, Matilda.
In 1898, Nicatie passed away. He remarried Mary Jane Shafer about 1904. They had three daughters, Ora, Masel, and Ruby Ethel, and one son, Roma Monroe.
By the 1910 census the family is living in the Buffalo District of Clay County, West Virginia. George was a laborer in a lumber camp. There was one called Buffalo Creek Stave Lumber Co near Widen, West Virginia in Clay County. On the 1920 census, George is listed as a farmer. Only he, his wife, and their four children are in the household. By the 1930 census, his wife passed away and his 38-year-old daughter, Marietta, moved back home. She was not listed with the family on the 1910 and 1920 census. Perhaps she moved back after the death of his wife to help with his youngest daughter, Ruby, sixteen in 1930.
On the 1940 census, George, going by Willie, is living with his son Roma and his family.
According to my great-aunt, she remembers her grandfather being mean.
George passed away 15 Jan 1942 in Strange Creek, Clay County, West Virginia. His death certificate states he is buried in Chapman Cemetery near Harrison, West Virginia.