Is George Really William or William Really George?

It’s time for another update on William H Haley (1861-1948), my great-great grandfather and current “favorite” mystery man.

Up to this point, I believe I have determined that William’s parents were S C (Stephen Case) Haley and Mary Ann Tribble. They were married 13 Nov 1860 in Halifax County, VA. They were living in Staunton, Halifax, VA in both the 1870 and 1880 census records. In fact, they were living next door to Mary Ann’s parents. In the 1870 census the family has three children listed: George (9), Ellen (5), and John (1). William was born in Dec 1861 and would have been 9 years old during this census. But where is he on this census listing? Was he perhaps George William?

By 1880, the family of Stephen Case and Mary Ann have the following children in the home: Jennie (13), John (10), Emma (6), and Robert (3). No George or William listed. William would have been about 19 and likely out of the household. Sure enough I found a George W Haley (18) still in Staunton, Halifax Co, VA living with the James Guthrie family as a servant/farm laborer.

Also, of note, in 1880 William’s future wife Clara Holt is living in the same district in the household of her father Branch W Holt. Clara and William were married in 1883. It is on the marriage registration that William listed his parents as SC and Mary A Haley.

So….is George really William? I tend to think yes. Putting the primary source of William’s marriage registration record along side of the census records, I think the case can be made that George and William are the same person. If so, why the name change? Ah…another mystery! He certainly would not be the first ancestor I’ve had to change a name.

I confess while I think I am correct, there’s still a element of doubt.

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