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Sunday, February 17, 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 6 "Surprise": Nellie Cox Finally Found!

For years, I have been searching for my 2nd-great-grandmother Sarah Claire "Sadie" (Dyer) Gatlin's half-sister Nellie Cox. Nellie and her husband Owen McDonough were charged as accessories to murder after Tom Cox, Nellie's brother and Sadie's half-brother, shot and killed Ben Dowell, a police officer in 1903. A mistrial was declared. The 1906 Nashville city directory stated that Owen McDonough had moved to Birmingham, Alabama. I hadn't been able to locate Owen or Nellie since then.

Sadie died in Chicago, Illinois on 20 January 1945. Her death notice mentioned a surviving sister, Mrs. E. Goolsby. All of Sadie's other siblings were dead, so Mrs. E. Goolsby had to be Nellie.

A few months ago, I finally located Nellie's first husband, Owen McDonough. I found him listed in Lorain, Ohio city directories in the 1920s. His wife was named Jennie. Apparently Nellie's first marriage ended in divorce. I don't know when Owen and Nellie split up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were when Owen left Nashville. Being charged as accessories to the murder that Nellie's brother committed probably put a strain on their marriage.

Since I had finally located Owen, I decided to try searching for Nellie again, although I had searched before without success. And much to my surprise, I immediately found her!

Nevada. Department of Health. Death certificate 65-1741 (1965), Nellie Dale Goolsby. Nevada, Death Certificates, 1911-1965 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.

Nellie died in Las Vegas, Nevada on 13 July 1965. I never expected to find her there! Her death certificate confirmed that her mother's maiden name was Mary Reynolds. My conclusion was correct. Her date of birth was consistent with the ages found in earlier census  records. And I now had her second husband's name, Ezra A. Goolsby.

I still haven't located her in census records after 1900. Ezra Goolsby was enumerated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1940. He was a hotel proprietor. Nellie wasn't listed with him. It's possible that he just didn't mention her, though. Nellie and her first husband Owen McDonough both seem to have managed to avoid the census takers for decades. They may have been afraid that they would be tried as accessories to murder again.

Ezra Goolsby's mother, Salemma W. (Harris) Goolsby, died in Chicago, Illinois on 6 May 1926. His brother, Fleming Goolsby, lived in Chicago in 1930. Perhaps Nellie and Ezra met in Chicago. Sadie and her husband and children lived there; she was Nellie's only living sibling.

Nellie and Ezra (who died in 1979) are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Las Vegas.

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