Wednesday, January 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (Week 3) – Lucenda Gentry

This is Week 3 of Amy Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blogging challenge to write about one ancestor a week for 2014. Amy highlights each weeks’ posts on her blog No Story Too Small every Wednesday.

This week I am writing about my third great-grandmother, Lucenda “Cindie” Gentry. The GENTRY surname is an interesting one to write about. Why? Because it seems like everyone has at least one or two Gentrys in their family. And chances are, they will tell you that their Gentrys all descend from the same immigrant ancestor - Nicholas Gentry.

I have no idea if my third great-grandmother, Lucenda Gentry descends from Nicholas Gentry or not. I’m not even sure what her father’s real name was! Was it William or was it Berry? Well, I’ll come back to that. First, let’s meet Lucenda.

Lucenda Gentry was born April 12th, 1868 in Tennessee [1] and died February 19th, 1905 in Garrett’s Bluff, Lamar Co., Texas [2]. She was the second oldest child born to Manerva Jane O’Neal and William T. Gentry. Well I'm pretty sure it was William T. Gentry. There is some confusion, though, because on the 1880 Scott Co., AR census report, the head of the house hold is listed as "Berry A. Gentry." Berry was actually the name of their first born son. This is the only time I've seen "Berry" mentioned as Manerva's husband or Lucenda's father. I think probably Manerva and William might have been separated at this time and someone in the house just used the oldest son Berry's name as a placeholder for the man of the house.

Manerva and William were married in Roane County, Tennessee on January 5th, 1865 [3]. Manerva was from Blount County and William was from neighboring Knox County. William had just returned home from the war. I am not sure why they went to Roane County to marry; unless it was to evade detection by Manerva’s mother who might have disapproved of the marriage because Manerva was only 14 years old (William was 25). Manerva’s mother had married young as well and was widowed by the time she was 25 years old.

William and Manerva did return to Blount County; however, things might not have gone as well as they had hoped as they were living with Manerva’s mother Lucinda O’Neal and her younger siblings only 5 years into their marriage [4]. By that time, my third great-grandmother Lucinda had been born along with her older brother Allen Berry.

But things got even worse for Lucenda’s family. By the mid 1880’s, Lucenda’s parents had gotten a divorce. Her mother Manerva moved with her brother Allen Berry and her youngest sister Mary Jane to Arkansas. Lucenda and her brothers William and James moved to Paris (Lamar County), Texas with their father who remarried to a woman named Nannie in 1886. Lucenda’s mother remarried as well to a man named George Wagoner in 1889 [5].

While in Texas, Lucenda met and married a farmer named Reuben Dennis in 1886. She was 18 years old. They had four children together: Wallace, Eva, Luther, and Willie. They lived in the small town of Garrett’s Bluff outside of Paris, Texas. According to the 1900 census reports, the children did not go to school, even though there was a school nearby; they were probably too busy tending the farm and working. Lucenda and Reuben were educated though, so they probably gave the children their lessons at home.

Lucenda was a member of the Chicota Baptist Church. Chicota was a small community about 15 miles east of Garrett’s Bluff. The family probably attended church service there every Sunday. Lucenda’s daughter Eva was my 2nd great-grandmother. Since Eva was the only other girl in the house, the two of them were very close. Eva spoke often of how her mother taught her how to cook, iron, and clean the house.

Unfortunately, Eva was left motherless at a young age. Her mother Lucenda died from pneumonia at the age of 36. Eva was 14 years old when her mother died. Her father, devastated, left the farm and moved the children to the “big city” of Paris to be near his brother Liberty. Reuben became a tax collector. Eva married to my 2nd great-grandfather, Barney Benson, who had lived next door to her family prior to their move to Paris.

I chose to write about Lucenda Gentry because very little was known about her. In the course of this writing, I was able to learn some more about her family and to fill in some of the gaps I had in my family tree. I realized that I do have a lot more research to conduct and I’m very much looking forward to it. I also made a connection with a new cousin I found on, but who also happened to be connected to another one of my cousins on Facebook. She is the one who has shared the photo of the Dennis family with me. If you have Gentry ancestors, please contact me so we can share information. I am very interested in learning more about my Gentry ancestors.

Gentry and Dennis Family photo

Photo of Cindy Gentry, Reuben Dennis and their children: 
Eva Mae Dennis, Wallace, Willie "L. C.," & Luther
Shared by my cousin Allison Hurst

[1]  Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, Online database, ( : accessed 21 January 2014), User Input Bio and Headstone, Luecindie "Cindie" Gentry Dennis, Memorial No. 120766810, created by John and Ruth Clackler, 24 November 2013, citing Garrett's Bluff Cemetery, Garrett's Bluff, Lamar County, Texas, USA: Headstone reads: "Luecindie wife of Rubin Dennis, born 12 Apr 1868, died 19 Feb 1905." Biography includes place of birth as Tennessee and place of death as Garratt’s Bluff, Lamar Co., TX.
[2]  Ibid.
[3], "Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1900," index, ( : accessed 21 January 2014), M J O'Neill to W T Gentry; Roane County, Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1900. County court records located at Kingston, Tennessee or Family History Library microfilm #0560087-0560089: "M. J. O'Neal” married “W. T. Gentry," 5 Jan 1865 in Roane Co., TN.
[4]  1870 US Federal Census, Blount County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 4, Friendsville Post Office, Page 112A (stamped), Page 21 (penned), Dwelling 136, Family 137, Lucinda O'Neil; digital image, ( : downloaded 20 January 2014); NARA Film M593, Roll 1515, FHL Film 553014.William and Minerva “Gerity” were enumerated in Lucinda O’Neill’s household.
[5], "Arkansas County Marriages Index, 1837-1957," online database, ( : accessed 22 January 2014), Manerva Jane Gentry and G W Wagoner; Citing: "Arkansas County Marriages, 1838–1957." Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, from Arkansas Courts of Common Pleas and County Clerks.; FHL film no. 1027124: married 5 Mar 1889, Scott Co., AR.


  1. I like the way you bring life to the people in the history....this is a very well written piece and your Sources are all there. Thank you, Linda Jenkins Wensel

    1. Thanks Linda! It helps to have the sources pre-entered into my genealogy software so I can just copy and paste them into my blog!

  2. No Gentrys in my family but wanted to say that this is the main reason I am so enjoying Amy's challenge. It is forcing me to take a closer look at a particular ancestor and I am finding out new information, too. Exciting!

    1. Thanks for reading Terri! This was difficult for me because I realized I was missing a lot of information. But I'm looking forward to obtaining additional information and building out my GENTRY tree!