Two men with the surname Fuller, who both lived in East Texas around the same time in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries, are often confused in family trees on Ancestry.com and in hints in Ancestry record results. Here I show how John Seborn Fuller and Seaborn Fuller are not the same person.
My personal interest in this matter is that John Seborn Fuller is a 3x great uncle of mine on my maternal grandfather’s side. Or, to put it another way, he was the uncle of my grandfather’s mother, Avie Ellis. This post responds to the conflation of the two men, and also to theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge on week five’s theme, “Branching Out.”
John Seborn Fuller was born October 14, 1852, and died Jun 16, 1928, as indicated on his headstone in the Ebenezer Cemetery in Jasper, Texas. He was one of nine (at least) children of Elijah Pinkney Fuller, Sr. (1815-1896) and Susannah Mary Lampkin (1819-1867). The U.S. Censuses of 1860, 1870, and 1900 all indicate that John S. Fuller was born in Florida in 1852 or ‘53. His father, Elijah—a Georgia native—began his family with Susannah in Alabama—her home state—in about 1838, when their first child was born there. The couple had three more children in that state and then between 1847 and 1850 moved to Santa Rosa County, Florida, in the panhandle, where their next two children—including John—were born.
1850 Census, 2d Division, Santa Rosa Co., Florida
Elijah, 35, Georgia
Susan M., 28, Alabama
Samuel W., 12 Alabama
Eliander, 8, Alabama
Mary F., 6, Alabama
Elijah P, 3, Alabama
Maria A.E., 3/12, Florida
This Census was taken 18 Oct 1850, so Maria was born in the summer of 1850 in Florida. Then by 1859 they had moved to Newton County, Texas, the state’s easternmost county. The rest of their children were born in Texas.
1860 Census, Newtown P.O., Newton Co., Texas
E Fuller, 45, Georgia
Susan, 40, Alabama
Ellander, 19, Alabama
Mary S, 16, Alabama
Elijah P, 13, Alabama
John, 7, Florida
William, 1, Texas
By 1870, the Fullers were living in Jasper County, adjacent to Newton County just to the west. Susannah passed away in 1867. The 1870 U.S. Census of subdivision 23, Jasper County, Texas, shows the family (father and all the rest children) as follows, with their places of birth:
Elijah, 54, Alabama*
Eleanor, 29, Alabama
Mary S., 25, Alabama
Pinkney, 23, Alabama [Elijah Pinkney]
Maria, 20, Florida
John, 18, Florida
George 11, Texas [William George]
Henry, 8, Texas
Taylor, 4, Texas
(*note the elder Elijah’s birthplace is given here as “Alabama,” the one Census where this happens.)
This same family continues to be present in the 1880 U.S. Census, but in Polk County, just to the west of Jasper County. The composition is also different, as children aged and moved away, or married. As enumerated:
E., 64, Georgia
Laura E., 38, Alabama
Mary S. Beverly, 34, Alabama
George, 21, Alabama
Joseph H., 18, Texas [Joseph Henry]
James T., 13, Texas
Richard Beverly, 12
Mary E. Beverly, 8
Wiley A. Beverly, 6
John E. Beverly, 3
“E.” is Elijah Ellis, with his eldest daughter Laura Eleanor (or Eliander), his daughter Mary, widowed with four children—Richard, Mary, Wiley, and John Beverly, all born in Texas—and Elijah’s other children George, Joseph Henry, and James Taylor. Of some interest, Wiley Beverly is likely named after his uncle Samuel Wiley Fuller, Elijah and Susannah’s oldest child.
On 24 Dec 1878 in Jasper Co., Texas, John Seborn Fuller married Susan Florence Ellis, daughter of John Warren Ellis and Elizabeth Newman. By 1880 the young couple and their baby daughter Dora were living in Nacogdoches County, Texas—also in the East Texas region near Jasper and Polk counties.
The transcription of this record on both Ancestry.com and FmailySearch.org has the surname as “Frufer.” Careful inspection shows it is Fuller, with the ascending part of the capital “S” in Susan’s name neatly aligned with the second “l” of Fuller, making the three peaks between “F” and the apparent “f” resemble “ru,” and thus, “Frufer.” The loop of the first “l” is visible in the smudged part.
That baby Dora in Nacogdoches is the daughter of John Seborn Fuller and Susan Florence Ellis is in the death certificate of Dora Jane Marshall (d. 10 Sep 1934), which lists her birthplace as Nacogdoches, and her parents as John S. Fuller and Florence Ellis (though their birth states are Georgia and Florida, respectively). Dora was married to Luther L. Marshall. The informant, “Mrs. A.J. Spear,” is likely Dora’s daughter Annie Ottis Marshall, who was married to Andrew Jackson Speir. The death certificate does list her birthdate as 20 Sep 1881, which would of course mean she couldn’t be on the 1880 Census, but her headstone’s birth date is 20 Sep 1879.
In addition to daughter Dora, John and Susan had a son named John Nathan Fuller, born 4 May 1892 and died 4 December 1967. He was married to Laura Malinda Marshall (unknown if Laura Marshall and Dora’s husband Luther Marshall were related).
John Seborn Fuller died 16 Jun 1928, likely in Texas. His wife Susan died some years earlier, 22 Apr 1919 in Jasper. Both are buried in Ebenezer Cemetery in Jasper.
Turning now to Seaborn Fuller, and how to identify him correctly in the available records. Start first with the children assigned in FindAGrave to John Seborn Ellis and Susan Florence (Ellis) Fuller: Hezzie Carl, John Nathan, Charles Hughes, and Lula, who married a Nowlin.
Looking at the 1880 U.S. Census of 4th Ward, Red River Parish, Louisiana, in the northwestern part of that state, we find:
Seaborn, 26, Texas
Susan, 23, Texas
Lula, 3, Texas
Twenty years later, on the 1900 U.S. Census of Justice Precinct 1, Polk Co., Texas, are enumerated an enlarged Fuller family, showing ages and places of birth:
S A, 45, Texas
Susan, 40, Louisiana
Dora, 13, Texas
Hezzie, 12, Texas
Francis, 9, Texas
Charley, 7, Texas
Cordelius, 4, Texas
Marshall, 2, Texas
On the 1910 U.S. Census of Scot County, Arkansas, the family continues, but without “S.A.” or “Seaborn.” He died prior to 1910, and Charlie/Charley is head of the family (note continued presence of Hezzie, Marshall, and Della/Cordelius, among others, tying this family group to the previous one):
Charlie, 19, Texas
Susan, 50 , Louisiana [widowed]
Fannie, 19, Texas [Charlie’s sister]
Della, 15, Texas [his sister]
Marshall, 12, Texas [his brother]
Nokes, 11, Texas [brother]
Hezzie, 22, Texas [brother]
Lizzie, 19, Arkansas [Hezzie’s wife, Elizabeth Rizenhover]
Preston, 1, Arkansas [Hezzie’s son, Preston Hugh Fuller]
So, this establishes the head of the Fuller family group that is conflated with John Seborn Fuller, and that the “Seaborn” named in the 1880 Census and “S.A.” in the 1900 Census is the Fuller male confused with John Seborn Fuller. And that further, the children included on John Seborn Fuller’s FindAGrave entry—Hezzie, Charles, and Lula—are not his children but are Seaborn Fuller’s. This Seaborn Fuller was born in about 1854 in Texas, per those two Censuses, and died before 1910 in Texas, as indicated by his absence in the 1910 Census.
We also learn the name of his spouse, also (and confusingly) named Susan, on the death certificates of two of their children. The parents of Charlie Hughes Fuller, born 2 Apr 1893 in Texas, died 15 Sep 1961 in Little Rock, Arkansas, are given on his death certificate as “Seyburn Fuller” and “Sue Fisher.” The parents of Dora Lebon Riggs, born 5 Oct 1888 in Texas, died 1 Dec 1966 in Little Rock, are given on her death certificate as “Sebren Fuller” and “Sue Fischer.”
At this time, I haven’t tracked down a marriage record for Seaborn Fuller and Sue Fisher. Further research can be done on the family of Seaborn Fuller, but it is clear to me from the Census (especially note the two 1880 U.S. Census enumerations ) and death certificate records that the two men are distinct from one another, and with a distinct set of children.
John Seborn Fuller
1852 (Florida) – 1928 (Texas)
m. Dec 1978, Jasper
Susan Florence Ellis
1854 (Mississippi) – 1919 (Texas)
+ Dora Jane (1881-1934)
+ John Nathan (1892-1967)
1854 (Texas) – bef 1910 (Texas)
~1860 (Louisiana, or Texas) – ?
+ Lula (1877-?)
+ Dora (1888-1966)
+ Hezzie Carl (1888-1949)
+ Francis (1891-?)
+ Charlie Hughes (1893-1961)
+ Cordelius/Della (1896-?)
+ Marshall (1898-?)
+ Nokes (~1901-?)
— Fred Dews