Jerome Clinton Eskins, father of my great-grandmother Nina Virginia Eskins, was born 30 October 1861 in Raleigh County, West Virginia according to his death certificate. It looks as though his son Bruce may have been the informant for the birth certificate. I have not located a birth certificate for Jerome, and his death certificate lists only his mother, Octavia Eskins. I am currently working on unraveling the mystery of his father and with the help of those at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness hope to figure it out.
When I first began researching Jerome, I ran into the usual challenge. I could find census records with his wife and children, but nothing on family of origin. I went to Find-A-Grave and located his grave. Information there indicated his mother was Octavia Morehead Eskins and led me to her grave information. I take information found on Find a Grave with a grain of salt because it doesn’t generally cite sources but it was a good lead since his death certificate stated his mother’s name was Octavia Eskins. Still, I could find no censuses with his family of origin. I did find death-and some birth-records of siblings mentioned on the Find a Grave site. They showed this:
- Christopher Radzuill Eskins born 25 Oct 1854 birth record lists mother Octavia Eskins, no father; death certificate for C E Eskins same birthdate lists father Henry Eskins, no mother
- Hayden Fletcher Eskins born 19 Dec 1859 birth record lists mother Octavia Eskings, no father; death certificate lists Henry Eskins, Octavia Morehead
- Eugene Homer Eskins born 19 Nov 1867 no birth record, no parents listed on death register
Even if Henry, who I have yet to find on any record other than listed as their father, exists, he could be the father of Christopher and Hayden and not of Jerome and Eugene. If he did exists, he either died without record or disappeared as he is never listed on a census with the family. I have another theory and will be doing more research and come back to that when I cover Octavia at a later date.
As I mentioned, Jerome was born 30 Oct 1861 in Raleigh County, West Virginia according to his death certificate. On the 1870 census, he is listed as 9-year-old Gerome C Eskings in the household with his mother, Octavia Eskings age 34, 15-year-old brother Christopher, 12-year-old brother Haden F, and 2-year-old brother Eugene H. Listed directly above their household are the households of DeWitt Eskings and his wife, Naoma Eskins (now married), and their parents all of whom Octavia lived with on the 1860 census where she appears to be listed as the wife of their brother and son Jerome, who I believe to be Jerome Clinton’s father.
I have been unable to find an 1880 census with Jerome Clinton. He married Eliza J Slack 22 July 1885 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
In 1900, Jerome, Eliza, and their six children are living in Cabin Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Jerome and his 14-year-old son, Robert are working as mine laborers. By 1910, son Henry, at 15, is the oldest child in the house and he is working with his father as a coal miner. The family is living in Mucklow. His older two brothers are living with their families, working in the mine as well. By 1920, the family is in Dry Branch. Jerome is widowed and still working as a miner, with four daughters ages 9-17 at home to support.
Jerome passed away 15 July 1928 at Cabin Creek, West Virginia at the age of 66. He is buried at Dry Branch Cemetery. It is interesting to think that Jerome’s daughter, my great-grandmother Nina, would have been pregnant with my grandfather at the time her father passed away. I wonder if it hit her harder realizing her dad would not see her son grow up, if she reminisced about him a lot after he was born. Or was death just another part of the life these tough mining folk led?