Whitley County woman solves mystery of ancestor's death a century later

By: Morgan Lentes Email
By: Morgan Lentes Email

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky (WYMT) - A tombstone mystery that has gone unsolved for more than 100 years is finally solved thanks to what one Whitley County woman calls fate.

Patricia Jones is no stranger to the genealogy room at the Whitley County Public Library.

"As I have gotten older, I started doing research through ancestry, asking family, going through family records," said Jones.

But there was one family mystery she never could solve--what happened to her great-great grandmother Dorcas Rains after giving birth in 1891.

"No one had any idea. It was just a basic brick wall that no one either was interested in or they did not know how to go about finding that answer," said Jones.

Still, she never gave up.

"I went to the cemetery where she is buried. It has a name on the tombstone and no dates," said Jones.

With each turn of the page, she could feel herself getting closer. But it was not until she started searching old micro-films from the 1800s that she finally caught a break.

"I got goose bumps, I guess as the old expression said and it was just like 'I have got to call someone'," said Jones.

She found a sentence that read "The wife of Terrell Rains" has passed away.

"I thought, Terrell Rains, that is my great-great grandfather. So the dates coincided, the name definitely coincided, so I then went into a perpetual calendar and arrived that she had died on the date of October 17, 1891," said Jones.

Finally, she got the closure she had longed for.

"By doing a little research, accident and fate, I was able to bring a chapter of my family history into perspective so to speak," said Jones.

It turns out Dorcas Rains died of Typhoid, not childbirth as her family had always thought. Jones said in the spring she plans to revisit her great-great grandmother's gravestone and add the date of her death to it.

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