Record searches sometimes find conflicting data

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Charles William Osborne was born in Carroll County July 4, 1934, to Brack and Malinda Riley Osborne. Many of you may know him as Charlie, the proprietor of a used-car lot and auto repair shop in English, where he and his wife Frances still live.

Nearly all of Charlie’s family is gone. His parents died when he was young, and his three older sisters, too, have passed. He recently asked me to help with research into his family tree – so he can know about his past and can pass that knowledge on to his twin sons, Charles Timothy and Mark Anthony.

Some preliminary research found good information in the U.S. censuses.

In 1910, Charlie’s father, Brack Franklin Osborne, is listed as a boarder living with John and Leola Fuller on Prestonville-New Castle Road (Hwy. 55) in Magisterial District 2. By 1920, he and Malinda (spelled Lien by the census-taker) had married and were living in Carrollton with their first child, Nellie, then about 5.

In 1930, they were living on the Ghent-Warsaw Road (now U.S. 42) near Ghent. Brack was listed as a farmer and stated to the census taker that he was not a veteran.

At that point, Charles’ three sisters were still living at home: Nellie, then 14; Lizzie (Isabelle), 6; and Stella Mae, just 2-1/2.

By 1940, the family was living in Hoggins District 1 over in Gallatin County. Charlie was 5, and two of his sisters – Isabelle, now 15, and Stella Mae, now 12 – were still at home. Brack was still farming; Malinda (this time spelled Lindia) had no occupation listed. Daughter Nellie is living nearby with her husband, Raymond Hearn.

Sadly, in 1943, Brack Osborne died. Charlie was only about 9 years old, and showed me the only photo he has of his father: Brack is wearing a hat and standing in the background of a photo with Charlie and a cousin next to a car. He said Brack was either a deputy or a town marshal when they lived in Ghent.

Shortly after his father died, Charlie quit school and left to work on a nearby farm to earn money. He made $1.50 a day and said he worked every bit as hard as any of the older farmhands, who didn’t like that a boy was making the same wages they were.

His family was poor, and he said he left because he felt he was a burden. He later lived with one of his older sisters.

He is most curious about his maternal grandmother. Martha Jane Riley, he said, had dark hair, a dark complexion and “dressed like an Indian.” Both she and his mother smoked tobacco in corn cob pipes.

Martha Jane died sometime between 1940-45; Malinda died in 1953 (when Charlie was just 19). He said she told him when he was a boy that she and her parents came to Carroll County from Arkansas in a covered wagon.

Charlie Osborne is hoping we can find out if, indeed, his grandmother was of Native American descent, and where the rest of his people are from.

Two typewritten copies of original marriage licenses at the Carroll County Courthouse have yielded some clues.

Brack and Malinda were married Nov. 26, 1914; Brack is listed as 28 years old and having been born in Owen County to Charles and Alice Osbourn (sic).

Malinda also is listed as having been born in Carroll County to Isaac and Jane Riley. Her age is listed as 21, however, Charlie says she was born in 1900. Typo or intentional? Hard to say. Malinda’s death certificate, dated Oct. 29, 1953, backs up what Charlie believed: She was 53 when she died, and therefore likely was just 14 when she married.

It’s not unheard of for a girl, who probably needed consent from her father to marry, to fudge her age a bit on marriage records.

But now we have Malinda’s father’s name – Isaac – and that was new information.

An initial search for Isaac Riley in the courthouse records yielded nothing. Later, however, I came across a document online that suggested he went by the nickname “Ike.” Back at the courthouse, there they are: Ike Riley and Mary Jane Harvey, married at the courthouse on April 24, 1886. The document shows Ike, 25, was born in Breathitt County, Ky., and Mary Jane, 15, was born in Rockcastle, Ky.

So, the mystery remains. They were born in Kentucky, according to this document and according to those censuses that made note of each person’s state of birth. Is it possible that they moved to Arkansas for a period and then came back to settle in Carroll County?

Is the information on the marriage record correct? Stay tuned.

Oh, and if anyone has any information on Charlie’s family, please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail listed below.


Phyllis McLaughlin is a member of the Association for Professional Genealogists and author of “Images of America: Carroll County.” Have a question or a brick wall? Call her at (502) 514-3715 or send an e-mail to twistedrootsgenealogy@gmail.com.