How can census records help in research? A case study: the obituary of Lorraine Loveless of Centerville, Tennessee

Sometimes the smallest bit of information can lead to the discovery of a family lineage. Using a recent obituary and available online census records, I was able to trace a family back with certainty to 1850, and using posts to a surname email list, maybe back to the 1700s.  All the census records referred to below were consulted on on 4 November 2015.

Here is the story:

On 4 November 2015 an obituary of one Lorraine Loveless of Centerville, Tennessee was posted on the Lovelace surname email list ( Originally posted on 4 November 2015 on the website of McDonald Funeral Home in Centerville, Tennessee, it says, in part, “… she was the widow of Kenneth O.Loveless, Sr.”
The obituary of Lorraine’s husband Kenneth Owen Loveless is in “The Daily Herald” of Columbia, Tennessee, accessed via GenealogyBank on 4 November 2015.  He died 17 December 2010.  “He was a native of Hickman County and the son of Jim D. and Wilma Milan.”

1940 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows Kenneth O. Loveless as an 8-year-old son in the home of Jim D. Loveless, age 31 and born in TN,  and his wife N. Lema, who was the informant for the census listing.  Jim was listed as a truck driver, and the industry was “county road.”  Also in the home are niece and nephew L. Catherine and Donald M. Milan, ages 10 and 8, respectively, who in 1935 were living in Detroit, MI.
On the preceding page were listed the families of Clifford M. Loveless, age 51, and J. Newton Loveless, age 80.  No Loveless families on the next census page.

1930 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows Jim D. Loveless as a 21 year-old son in the home of Clifford M. (age 41, b. TN) and Bertha V. Loveless.  Jim is the only son listed, with six sisters ranging in age from 4 to 18.  Clifford was a farmer, and Jim was a farm laborer.  They are on the first page of the census, and no Loveless families on the next page.

1920 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows Jim D. (indexed as “Lawless”), an 11-year-old son, in the home of Clifford M. and Bertha Loveless.  Living beside them is the family of Walker D. Loveless, age 27 and a farmer.  No Loveless families on the preceding or following page.

1910 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows Clifford Loveless and wife Bertha with a 13-month old son Jim Dee.  They are married 2 years, and Jim is the only child Bertha has given birth to.  This is the last page of this census, and there is another Loveless family before them, beginning on the preceding page.  It is the family of Newton J. and Nettie Loveless who were listed nearby Clifford in the 1940 census.  Newton’s oldest son is David Walker Loveless, age 17.

1900 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows Clifford as an 11-year old son, born March 1889 in TN, in the home of Nute [Newton] and Nettie Loveless.  Cilfford is the 2nd of six kids listed, and the census says that Nettie bore six children, all of them still living.  Nute is a farmer, and Clifford and his older brother Lonie are farm laborers.  Three households away is the family of W. L. and Mallie[?] Loveless, ages 35 and 32, respectively, both born in TN.  W. L. was born May 1865.  He and Mallie are married 13 years.  Mallie is the mother of one child who is no longer living.  They have an adopted son Walter Loveless, age 6.  Also in the home was P. R. Loveless, father of W. L., a widower age 79, born August 1820 in North Carolina.

1880 census of District #11, Hickman Co., TN, shows the family of Peter R. and Nancy Loveless, ages 58 and 50, respectively.  He is a farmer, born in NC, father born in VA, mother born in NC.  They have sons J. Newton age 20, William age 17 [probably W. L. above], and Comadore age 15.  They also have two daughters, Martha age 18 and Dolly age 6.

1870 census, Centerville PO, District 11, Hickman Co., TN, shows the family of P. L. (born NC) and E. N. Lovelass, ages 48 and 40, respectively (Peter R. and Nancy from the 1880 census above).  Children:  daughter E. J. age 15, son P. R. age 13,  son J. N. age 11 (J. Newton), daughter M. C. age 9 (Martha), W. L. Lovelace age 7 (William L.), and C. Lovelace age 4 (Comadore).

1860 census of 11th Civil District, Hickman Co., TN, shows the family of Peter R. and Nancy Loveless, ages 39 and 30, respectively, both born in TN.  Children:  John B. age 10, Elizabeth age 7, girl E. J. age 5, Peter R. age 2, and boy J. M. age 8 months.  No other Loveless families on this, the preceding, or the following pages.

1850 census of Hickman Co., TN, shows Peter R. (born NC) and Nancy (born TN) Loveless, ages 28 and 20 respectively, with a son John, age 9 months.

Find-A-Grave memorial # 80427482 is for “Peter Riley ‘P R.’ Loveless, Sr”  It shows the common headstone for Peter and Nancy.  Peter, b. 4 Aug 1821, d. 16 Jun 1912.  They are buried in Banks-Hinson Cemetery, Aetna, Hickman Co., Tennessee.  The memorial states that Peter was the son of George Loveless.

On 9 November 1999, Kitty Robinson posted a message to the Lovelace List.  She said that Peter R. Lovelace was the brother of “Pryoy” [Pryor] Lee Lovelace b. 1820 and the son of ” George Lovelace b. ca 1788 who died in Hickman Co,Tn in 1868. He came to Hickman Co in the late 1820’s from Caswell Co, NC.”

On 23 November 1999 in response to Kitty’s post, Elvin Perkins wrote a pretty good summary of what was known at that time about George and his family.  I won’t repost it here, but you can look it up.  Elvin says that George was probably born in Maryland and was probably the son of Pryor Lovelace of Caswell County and the grandson of Samuel Lovelace.

So, in summary, the Loveless lineage of Kenneth O. Loveless, the husband of Lorraine whose obituary was posted on the Lovelace surname email list on 4 November 2015, can be traced back through the census records to Peter R. Loveless.  The family started in Hickman County, Tennessee, and remained there for over 15o years.  Those are strong roots indeed!   Using the archives of the Lovelace List, a probable link back to Samuel Lovelace of Maryland in the 1700s can be found.

All of this from one recent obituary.  Isn’t genealogy fun???

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