Before Stella died, she told one of her daughters that her mother's name was Mary Hanks, and another daughter her name was Mary Jane Watkins. She also said her mother died & was buried in Cottonplant, Arkansas, USA, (1895-1899), however no record has been found of this, to date. She also told one of her grandchildren her nationality was black-dutch. I'm trying to find out who the biological mother of Stella Ann (Fitzgerald( Wells (Fitzgerald-3224 on wikitree) was?
ADDL INFO: Wow, some really great ideas. Thanks everyone so much.
Regarding the marriage record for Jerry Fitzgerald & Sarah Pate, & Sarah E Pate in the 1880 census; we also came across these (rather my mother came across the marriage record some years back & thought this to be the girls’ mother, as well, & I came across the census w/Sarah E Pate and a picture of Sarah also about 1 year back.
A few months ago, Stella's last living child (and my great aunt) came to visit us, & when we asked her what she might know of her grandmother, she said only her name, which her mother told her was Mary Jane Watkins.
Also, we ordered a original copy of Stella’s application for Social Security, on which she stated her mother’s name to be Mary Jane Watkins.
I should also mention, the girls were, most definitely not Irish (Fitzgerald name). Stella was my great grandmother, & my memories of her, as a child, were that she must be a indian – she looked (to me) just like you’d imagine – very short, probably about 4ft 8in in height, and her skin was not pale/white as mine, but much darker. She was stout, bow-legged, never wore shoes, & always (she never ever removed it) had a copper ankle bracelet on her ankle, which seemed to be without clasps, or any way of removing it. I never saw her without it on. I recently asked my mother about it, & if she knew why Stella wore this, & she said Stella said it was for her arthritis. (I don’t think doctors were using metals/magnets and such at that time (1900’s) for relieving arthritis pain; I know now that this is used (metal/magnet therapy) now, & with interesting & promising results, but in 1900?) I also remember she never ever cut her hair – never. As I remember, her very thin grey hair reached below her hips (she also never wore it loose-I only saw it like this following a bath/shower) which she always braided, then wrapped the thin braid in a bun at the back of her neck. And her home was very plain as was her clothing – no pictures on the walls, no nick-knacks, or end tables. I remember bare walls, a rocking type chair, a small table & 1 chair in the kitchen, and 1 pillow upon one of those mattresses used with those beds made of metal with a sheet of springs which held the mattress, and a old faded plaid blanket. Oh, and, a old can placed next to her rocker for her to spit into – she chewed tobacco.
The first record the girls are found in is the 1910 census w/Jerry Fitzgerald. From that point, every single census record the are found in, when asked for their mothers birth place, they always give a different response. One time they say Tennessee, the next maybe Arkansas. Verbally the told the family She was born in Tennessee & died shortly before 1900 in Cotton plant, Arkansas, but as I mentioned, we’ve as of yet, been unable to find any proof for any of this.
Sorry for the length of this, however I felt I should include what we know – which is not much.
I loved my great grandma Stella, & I am saddened by the thought that she & her sister Georgia felt they had to hide who they were & where they came from from, from everyone, including their own families; Georgia passed away in 1953 in Arkansas, & in 1979 in California, when Stella (Fitzgerald) Wells left this world, it seems she took with her the secret of where she was from & who she was, just as she'd intended.
Anyway, thanks for the great (& fast) input everyone. I’m hoping in all of this, someone may see something that we have not. I’ve found in researching our family tree, a different perspective always helps in trying to figure these kinds of things out. Thanks again everyone.
UPDATE: Still no closer to finding an answer than I was when I posted this originally. Would love your input - all your ideas are appreciated.