Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

About 3 weeks ago, I posted about my physician ancestors, the Kennedy boys of Sumter County, Alabama. Three brothers, three physicians, three Civil War vets. But there was another doctor in that family. Sister Jane Kennedy had married yet another MD, Dr. E. T. Easley. I was able to find enough information online to pretty conclusively document the Drs. Kennedy and their lives and careers.
But when it came time for Jane and her husband Dr. Easley, I found next to nothing. I really wasn’t able to prove than Jane even existed, other than a short mention of her in brother N. B. Kennedy’s bio in a county history book: “…Jane, who became the wife of Dr. E. T. Easley, of Satartia, Mississippi…”. No census enumerations, no marriage records, no cemetery listing, nothing really. What I was betting on was that the county history book was fairly accurate, since it was published before brother N. B.’s death and hopefully he had read it and would have notified the publisher of any seriously defective information. So I hoped, anyway!
Since I couldn’t find any info on Jane, I began the hunt for Dr. E. T. Easley. And of course, I had to have sources and documention. Otherwise, it’s not history, it’s fantasy, right?
Over the past 3 weeks, I have scoured the internet for Dr. Easley. And, I have found a lot, but no direct connection to Jane. Here is my circumstantial evidence (I watch the several versions of Law and Order every week, thank you very much!) to support the entry of Dr. E. T. Easley into my family tree:

  1. I believe that Jane was born in Sumter County, Alabama in the late 1830’s. This from the 1850 enumeration for the John Kennedy household, listing all of Jane’s siblings (except her), which corresponded with those listed in N. B.’s bio.
  2. I initially found an Edward Easley living in Yazoo County, Mississippi in the 1860 census. The Sarartia in the bio is located in Yazoo County, Mississippi. Edward was not listed as a physician though. Jane’s brothers John and Sydney did have a medical practice in nearby Lauderdale County, MS at that time, so there was a connection. Edward was 18 according to the census, about the time many young men would be heading off to medical school in the mid-19th century United States.
  3. The next piece of the puzzle was finding Edward T. Easley as a member of Company H of the 29th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War, and subsequent POW records for him, having been captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN in November of 1863. His rank was private, probably not yet a physician. His future as a surgeon apparently was delayed by the war.
  4. Next was the 1870 Census, where I found E. T. Easley, again in Yazoo County, this time as a store clerk.
  5. Next I found several references to a Dr. E. T. Easley of Dallas, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas. This Dr. Easley was an avid writer as well as a physician, having had numerous papers published in the medical journals of the time. His frequent topic of discussion was medicine and public health. Was this my Dr. E. T. Easley?
  6. Also, I found 2 entries in the Texas Physicians Historical Biographical Database: Tandy Edward Easley, 1842-1878, and E. T. Easley with no dates. And the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 listed an E. T. Easley, having graduated from Louisville Medical College in 1874. And….a listing for E. T. Easley of Mississippi in the Tarrant County, Texas, Precinct 1 list of registered voters for 1867.

At this point I’m a bit confused. How many Dr. E. T. Easleys were there in the mid 19th century American South? I had conflicting dates of birth, ages, occupations… and still no Jane!
So, a quick review to this point: Born in Alabama 1842, living in Yazoo Co, MS 1860, 29th MS Infantry 1863, Fort Worth, TX 1867, back in Yazoo Co, MS in 1870, graduated medical school in Louisville, KY 1874. Medical practice in Dallas, TX, then Little Rock, AR after 1874 with major interest public health medicine.
And no Jane Kennedy.
This brings us to 1878, and a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, TN. Several references, including a New York Times article and a book documenting the epidemic, place Dr. Easley in Memphis, serving as a public health physician for the Howard Medical Corps, working among the sick and dying of the epidemic. Tragically, the disease took Dr. Easley also, as an Arkansas Gazette obituary and Shelby Co, TN Register of Deaths document. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Memphis.
As I studied the Arkansas Gazette obituary for Dr. E. T. Easley, all the data I had collected began to fall into place. I now believe that all of the Dr. Easleys that I have encountered are one in the same person, and that this Dr. Easley was most probably the correct husband of Jane Kennedy. His medical career and major life events, including his marriage to Jane Kennedy, occurred between 1870 and 1878. As I can find no reference to Jane Kennedy, but repeated indirect associations with her brothers, I believe they were married sometime between 1870 and 1878, and she probably died before 1878, since Dr. Easley’s obit states he was not married, and I can find her nowhere in the 1880 (or any other) census. Most likely they were married for only a short period of time, probably a year or 2, and she died, possibly during childbirth, an event certainly not unusual in those days.
Of course, these are only logical assumptions and not supported as yet by any type of documentaion. The case remains open at this time!
Of note, an article written by Dr. Easley in Sept 1878, while he was attending to victims of the Memphis, TN yellow fever epidemic and in the same month as his own death, was published posthumously in the Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal, December 1878: “A Study in Shock”. A researcher to the bitter end! He would have made an excellent genealogist, don’t you think?
Oh, I almost forgot! These from the Richmond and Louisville Medical Journal, dated 1874, the year Dr. Easley graduated from Louisville Medical College:

These images courtesy of GoogleBooks!


One thought on “Will the real Dr. Easley please stand up!

  1. Laura says:

    This is just fascinating – I am awed at the amount of research and detective work that you are doing! So great to read – what an interesting family you have got.


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