Willie J. Payne, Jr. was my maternal grandmother’s grandfather, born September 3, 1874 to William Payne, Sr. and Martha Foster; they were all born in Virginia. Willie, Jr.’s union with my great-great-grandmother Rosa Davis produced one daughter Mazoura Payne.
When I started searching for my maternal grandmother’s paternal side back in 2008, I found bits and pieces for the Griffin family. I came across the Payne name when I was going through my mother’s papers after her passing. I found her mother’s (Lillian Griffin) birth certificate. In talking with an older cousin, I asked her what Mazoura’s mother’s name was and she remembered them calling her momma Rose; no last name was given, she did not know. I came across Rosa Davis here in Baltimore in our 1930 census in the same household as my grandmother, Lillian Griffin and her siblings; this is how I got Rose’s maiden name. She is listed as head of the household; where was her husband?
Armed with some info, but not knowing exactly where in Virginia the Payne family was from, I did some serious searching. Finally, I hit pay-dirt. I found Willie Payne, Jr. and Rosa Davis Payne in Middlesex, Virginia. I found them on two censuses. For two years I was on and off looking for Willie; I could not find a death record on him. Then I stumbled across a military record for him in 2012. He was stationed in Annapolis, Maryland as a navy man. Then I hit another brick wall for a year.
Early in 2013, I began to look for Willie J. Payne, again. I took another look at the 1930 census for Baltimore. I missed it the first time, but the record for Rosa read “divorced”. I found that Willie had remarried.
I was led to a record stating that Willie died in Los Angeles, California and born in Virginia. The last names of both his parents were on the death announcement. Once I found this info, I sent out a request on Find-A-Grave to request a photo of Willie’s headstone. In two days a nice gentleman filled my request! After finding this document, I was able to find another military record showing that my great-great-grandfather was on the ship the USS Charleston, stationed in Kobe, Japan; Military and Naval Forces.
I am proud to know my relative served our country!