Guest author Wendy Mathias (Jollett Etc.) was working on a book when she stumbled across an intriguing newspaper article. In part 1 of a two-part “Mystery Monday” series, Wendy lays the foundation and shares her thought process for analyzing the evidence presented. Here’s part 1 of her story:


It has been quiet around here this year because I have been trying to work on that darn Jollett Reunion book that I planned to finish LAST year. The slow progress is due to my determination to correct past errors, fill in missing dates if possible, and add some spark to what my children and nephews might regard as a snooze fest. My newspaper subscriptions sometimes come to the rescue. And sometimes they offer up a bonus: a new mystery to solve.

Usually I search by the name of a specific person, but since the book will cover a number of Jolletts, I simply typed in “Jollett” and selected the state of Virginia. An article popped up with a name that I recognized, but the context of the story made me doubtful that the woman was someone I knew.

Baltimore American 1 Jun 1922



Hostilities between three women in the 2900 block of Bernard street resulted in three trips by the opposing parties to the Northern police station, where Magistrate Schroeder settled the question by fining Mrs. Eliza Jollett, 2917 Bernard street, $5 and costs and warning the other two militants. Both Mrs. Annie Watson, 3122 Cedar avenue, and Mrs. Sarah Carlin, 2917 Bernard street, received bruises and cuts in the affray. The trouble arose from an accusation of theft made by Mrs. Jollett.




The only Eliza Jollett in my database is my 2X great-grandfather’s second wife. She was probably a bit too old in 1922 to cause much damage in a cat fight with a couple of young “militants.” Besides, she didn’t live in Baltimore.

As “MRS Jollett,” Eliza would have been someone who married into the Jollett family. All the age-appropriate and living Jollett men were already taken, not a one with a wife named Eliza, Elizabeth, Lizzie, or Betsy. I fought the impulse to give up, to resign myself to believing she was married to one of those Jolletts from New York that so far have not been connected to the Jolletts of Virginia.

This BSO (Bright Shiny Object) was just too good to resist.

It must have been my lucky day because the name “Eliza Jollett” surfaced again. This time though, it was a death notice.


Baltimore American 14 Sep 1922 from

JOLLETT (nee Watson) – On September 12, 1922, ELIZA H. age 24 years, beloved daughter of Samuel H. and the late Eliza Watson.

Funeral will take place from her late residence, 2641 Mace street on Saturday, September 16, at 3 A.M. Interment Sanador, Va.


NOTE: Probably that should be 3 P.M.; “Sanador” evidently meant “Shenandoah”

Eliza Watson? Still didn’t ring a bell. But her connection to Shenandoah in Page County, Virginia is a sure sign that she belongs SOMEWHERE in my family tree.

The census records for 1900 and 1910 do little to answer the question of which Jollett boy caught the eye of Eliza Watson. In 1900, she was the youngest of 3 surviving children of Samuel Watson and his wife Eliza. He was a miner, likely of iron ore judging by their residence in the Stonewall District of Rockingham County where a number of furnaces were in operation. By 1910 the entire family had moved to Baltimore. Samuel was in the building trades, and the three children all worked at the cotton mill.

Unfortunately, the connection to any Jollett boys was still not apparent. It would take one more news article to send me in the right direction for an answer.

Next Week:  Mary Alice



Note: This post was originally part of Wendy’s Mystery Monday series. Wendy explains:

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

You can read the original post, with great comments, at

If you have ideas or stories to share in our “How I Solved It” series, please let us know!

Wendy Mathias
Wendy Mathias, a retired teacher, started her family history research about twenty-five years ago when she helped her mother research the Jolletts. Since retiring, she's expanded her research which she shares in her blog. When she's not looking for her own family, she volunteers her time by indexing for FamilySearch and the Greene County Historical Society in Virginia. As Registrar for her local DAR chapter, Wendy assists women in tracing their lineage as part of the application process. Learn more about Wendy and her family history research. Visit Wendy's Website
Wendy Mathias

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