Who is the best Bessie?

+6 votes

His name was probably James William Weatherley, but his middle name might have been Lee William or William Lee or maybe Lee was only a nickname, although it appeared on several official records.  He was born in 1905.  His wife is my biggest problem right now, though.

Find a Grave shows James William "Lee" Weatherley (born in 1905) and wife Bessie Ellen Pierson Weatherley, born 1920 in California, died 1960 in California.

A marriage record for Lee Weatherley (the right age and in the same town as James) shows that he married Bessie Smith, of a nearby town, in 1925 (when the California Bessie was about 5 years old).  According to this record, Bessie Smith was born about 1907.

The 1940 census shows Lee Weatherley (age 35) and wife Bessie E Weatherley (age 19 and born in California).

As if that's not enough confusion, the World War II draft registration shows James Lee William Weatherley with wife "Mrs Betty Helen Weatherley" (written in James' handwriting).

His children raise even more questions.  The first was born in 1939 and the second in 1953.  14 years elapsed from when he married to his first child, and another 14 years to the second.  Also, the second child appears to have been born in Phoenix Arizona, yet nothing else suggests that James ever set foot outside Arkansas in his life.  Also, a photo on Bessie Pierson's Find a Grave page shows her with an infant and a toddler - hardly 14 years apart, although there is nothing stating that these are her children.

Soooo ... I await expert opinions about who the real Bessie (or Betty) is and a rationale for all the inconsistencies.  THANX, y'all!

(please note - I am just starting to write James' profile and stuck at what to say about his marriage.  All the data in all the sources is collected in a comment section at the end of the edit page, so I can refer to it as I work.)

WikiTree profile: Lee Weatherley
in Genealogy Help by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
Oh Gaile, it gets even better. Just for chuckles and grins, I searched him on Ancestry. Lee married Bessie Smith, who was 18, in Prairie, Arkansas in July 1925. In jun 1928 Lee married Margie Pernell, Age 18, in Prairie. Lee and Margie are together in the 1930 census, where she is age 18. He marries Bessie Ellen Pierson in 1937 in Yuma, Arizona.

More than one guy with this name? Trading in for a younger model?

An Ancestry tree shows him with some kids, I’ll see if I can find records for any of them.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (607k points)

1930 Lee with 18 year old Margie https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMGP-XN3 : accessed 20 July 2018

1940 Lee with the new improved 19 year old Bessie 

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQKY-2Q5 : accessed 20 July 2018

Could be one of several 

Found some stuff on an Ancestry message board

 I am looking for info on my uncle. James Lee Weatherly. He came from that area of AR. I don't have the dates handy, but he married, second wife, Bessie Ellen Pierson some time after 1940. They had 
Ida May, James, Marjorie, Johnny, Bernice and David.
He told me that he had 4 names, and his first wife and child died in a house fire and some people thought that he had set it. He died around Searcy Ark in the early 1990's. 

More clues 

have James Lee "Doc" Weatherley born 17 March 1905 died 10 May 1992, son of James Isaac Weatherley & Malinda Cook Weatherley. Married 3 times 1. Margie Parnell 22 June 1928 Des Arc, Prairie County, Arkansas, they had 1 child baby Weatherley b. 10 May 1929 died 10 May 1929. Article in White River Journal, Thursday Nov 15, 1931 read as follows; Latr Wednesday Nov 11, the home of Mr. & Mrs. Lee Weatherley, 12 miles southwest of Des Arc, was destoryed by fire and Mrs. Weatherley burned to death. He was at the barn lot when his wife apparently used oil to start a fire to cook supper. He severely burned trying to save her. Margie Parnell was buried 12 Nov 1931 McBee Cemetery, Prairie County, Arkansas. 2. Bessie Ellen Pierson 28 Nov 1937 Quartzite, Yuma County, Arizonia. Children Ida Mae, Margie Ellen, James Everett, John Edward Lee, Thelma Bernice, & Warren David Weatherley. 3. Sarah Davison died in car accident.

Kay, I did have the 1940 census - it's linked in the original question - but I don't know how I missed the marriage to Margie or the 1930 census.  Looking at the 1930 census, Lee is 25 with age at first marriage 23 and Margie is 18 with age at first marriage 16.  This fits with the 1928 marriage record for them, but I'm starting to think that this is a different Lee (a) because of the record showing that it's his first marriage and (b) this is a different county from all the records for the Lee I'm working on (plus his entire family for several generations).  This Lee is a farmer, as is the one I'm working on, and in the 1930 census he says he lives on a farm ... how would a 25 year old self employed farmer in a different county a couple of years earlier suddenly manage to acquire his own farm here?  ... on the other hand, Lee and Margie were both listed as living in Des Arc (known to be Lee's turf) when they were married.

I'm still ready to believe anything ... including a guy with a fetish for marrying 18 year olds no matter how old he gets.

THANX for the help ... I still need more, though!

WOW - I just saw your last comment after I clicked the button to add my last one!!!

Now a whole lot is starting to make sense.  I'm surprised to see the nickname "Doc" for him - that was his father's nickname (James Isaac Weatherley - I finished his profile and am now working on his children).

About the 3 marriages, though - the last one to Sarah Davison is throwing a new monkey wrench into the mix and what about what I had for the first one - to Bessie Smith - there's a record for that one, but I can't find a divorce record or a death record for her, plus that 1930 census indicates that Margie was his first marriage.
+2 votes

If you look at the Lee Weatherley-Bessie Smith marriage record, you can see at the "Marriage Affidavit" section that the clerk wrote in pencil, "Void. License Returned. Not used. July 18th 1925. Charles C. Turistall. Clerk." It again has "Void" written in pencil at the "Certificate of Marriage" section at the bottom. If this is the right Lee, and if this marriage was called off and the license never returned, then that would make his marriage to Margie his first marriage.

Also, does your Lee have a relative named Buster Weatherley? That's who was security to the bond for the marriage license.

by Emily Yaden G2G6 Mach 1 (15.5k points)
Oh my gosh, Emily, you have just solved one of the two remaining mysteries in this colossal mess!  Thank you so much.

(The only remaining mystery is Lee's possible final marriage to someone named Sarah Davison - I can't find any record of her existence anywhere.)

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