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Phillips v. Hadder

Occasionally, when doing genealogical research, you encounter a situation that is a real head-scratcher. Such is the case when I was tracing the family of my maternal great grandmother, Melissa A. Phillips (1884-1923). I got to my great-great maternal grandfather James Harrison Phillips (c. 1858-). I knew that he had married Amanda Mariah Hudson (1856-1919) on 19 July 1883 in Sussex County, Delaware.

Amanda had been married previously on 15 December 1873 to Charles Wesley Hearn. They had 5 children between 1874 and 1878. The last record of Charles was in the 1880 census. It is presumed that he died after that and before 1883.

So when Amanda married James, her last name would have been Hearn. In seeking a record of the marriage, an interesting discovery was made by my Cousin Paul who shared it with me. On that date, she married a James H. Hadder.

How could that be? Why was the last name listed as Hadder instead of Phillips?

Looking ahead to the 1900 Census, James, Amanda Phillips and family were living in St. Martins, Worcester County, Maryland next to Julia Phillips, a widow, and her son George W. Phillips.

Maybe I needed to look back, prior to their marriage. In the 1880 Census, there was a James Hadder residing in West Berlin, Worcester County, MD with his parents George and Julia Hadder.

In 1860, George Hadder was living with his mother, Maria, who may have been a widow at that time, and his six siblings. After that time, he met, and possibly married, Julia A. Phillips and had a son, James Harrison Hadder around 1862. Julia was the daughter of Benjamin and Maria Phillips.

In 1870, George Hadder is not found in the Census record in Maryland. However, there a lone George Hadder, aged 35 and born in Maryland, working as a farm laborer for John Woods in Saline, Missouri. Maybe George had a case of happy feet and decided to temporarily abandon his wife and son since it appears the family was back together for the 1880 census as noted above and had added several other children as well. It has not yet been determined where Julia was living at the time with their son James.

It is unsure what exactly happened between George and Julia to cause Julia and her children to adopt her maiden name. But, by 1900, Julia and her sons John, George and James and his family were using "Phillips" as their surname. I am not sure if there was any official or legal documentation accompanying the name change, but at least for our family line, the last name was changed and the Hadder line ceased.

This certainly caused a bit of a mystery and some of the questions have been answered, especially thanks to some super sleuthing by my Cousin Paul. Maybe in the future additional details may come to light. If so, I will bring you upates.


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