Thomas Rees Martin was born in Wales in 1867. In 1888, he emigrated to the United States. On May 6th 1896, Thomas and Minnie were married in Allen, Lyon County, Kansas. (Minnie Simmons was born in New York c. 1878.) A short time later they moved to Randolph County.
According to the Census of 1900, the Martins lived in the community of Renick. At the time, the family consisted of Thomas & Minnie, and two children, Ruby & Jack. Thomas earned his living as a coal miner.
The next piece of information comes from The Moberly Democrat:
27 Dec 1901--John P. Martin, the 2-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Martin, of Elliott, died at their home in that place at 11 o'clock last night, the result of burns received at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon. The little one while playing about the stove, picked up a piece of paper and put it in the fire, the blaze flared out, igniting the child's clothing and before he could be rescued was horribly burned, dying as above stated at 11 o'clock after seven hours of awful agony. Funeral services were held at the house today at 1 o'clock and the remains were interred in the Elliott Cemetery—
As this article makes clear, the little boy is buried in Elliott cemetery. It is my understanding (from Mr. Chuck Hess of Renick) that Elliott no longer exists, and there is no trace of a cemetery.
Thomas and Minnie had four other children: Thomas Reece (b. 1901); Harry (b. 1904); William; and Anna Mae. None of this family can be found in the Census of 1910. In 1911, Ruby married Otis Mason in Macon. As she was only 14, her father had to give permission for this wedding, which he did. At this point, the story grows more complex.
According to grandchildren of Thomas and Minnie, they were killed in an accident (possibly automotive) around 1912. I cannot find any death records, nor burial records for them. It would make sense, though, that Thomas and Minnie would have been buried with or near their young son. At this point, five of the children would have become orphans; the oldest child (Ruby) was married. However, Ruby divorced in 1916, when she was still only 19, so she would technically have become an orphan at that stage. I believe that all six children continued to live in the area, but none can be found in the Census of 1920.
On March 27th 1920, Thomas Reece Martin married Cora Ellen Williams in Macon. On the marriage license, he lists his home as Jacksonville. This despite the fact that he is not in the census! Also, despite the fact that he was only 19, the marriage document states that he was “past the age of twenty-one.” I suspect it was easier to lie about his age than find a guardian to sign off on him.
Having said all of this, I believe that I have only a few questions.
1. Is there any way of finding death/burial records for Elliott Cemetery to see if Thomas and Minnie are buried there?
2. Is there any clear reason this family would not appear in the Census of 1910 if Thomas were still alive in 1911? Is it possible that a coal mining company would just not want their employees counted?
3. Where would orphans have lived between 1911 and 1920? Is there any reason to leave orphans out of the Census of 1920?
I appreciate the oddity of this story and my questions, and would greatly appreciate any help you would be able to give.