The Marriage Record That Broke Through Walls

Until about a decade ago, my maternal ancestry beyond my great-grandmother was a mystery. My great-grandmother, Louise Harrison Alston, was born in 1898. The only thing that I “knew” about her family was that she’d married very young and was sort of “stolen away” in a sense, because of family differences.

Well, in looking through Ancestry family trees, I happened across the family tree of one of Louise’s nephews, C.M. His family tree provided the names of Louise’s parents, Samuel Harrison and Hattie Turner. Records confirmed this information. Additionally, I learned that Hattie’s parents were named Josephine Hoxey and John Turner.

Brick wall breaking!

Gratefully delighted to find out that information, which was also confirmed via records, I set out to learn just who was beyond Josephine, my third great-grandmother. This information was more difficult to locate. So, I started with what I knew and had record confirmation of.

I checked the December 27, 1899 Virginia marriage record of Josephine and John W. Hoxey:

Image Courtesy: FamilySearch

They were married in Norfolk, Virginia. Both bride and groom reported being divorced and both were identified on the record as being “white.” Those issues will be tackled in the not too far future, let’s stay on task for now.

According to the marriage record, there’s only one parent named: “E.Eppes.”

An additional clue is Josephine’s place of birth: “Bellford, Virginia.”

I quickly learned that “Bellford” was actually Belfield, Virginia and that it was one of two villages (the other being Hicksford) that were brought together and named Emporia in 1887.


Previously, I detailed that my mother briefly and only once mentioned that her mother’s family was from Emporia, Virginia. The genealogical records had just taken us back there.

The next search was for “E. Eppes,” who was listed as Josephine’s mother. She’s my 4th great-grandmother. I was able to locate the Eppes household in the village of Hicksford in the 1870 U.S. Census. The head of household was 35 year old Benjamin Eppes and his 32 year old wife Emeline. Emeline…E. Eppes. Also in the Eppes household were the children: 11 year old Peter, 9 year old Polly, 7 year old Jackson, 1 year old Lucy


3 year old Josephine.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have breakthrough.

Emeline, Josephine’s mother, will prove to be a pivotal figure in a pivotal moment in time and it all started with the record that broke through walls.

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