Oftentimes, when inserting data into my family tree program, I am more concerned about how the individuals relate to me instead of how they relate to each other. I may know there is a connection between families, but don't really go out of my way to see what it is.
When looking for Lewis Henry Sasser in the US Federal Census, I had very little trouble finding him. In 1860, he and his family were in Henry County, Alabama. This included Henry, his wife Temperance Elizabeth, and their children: Jasper N., Solomon T., Rachael Jane, and E. P.
Like a good little researcher, I also scanned the families living around the Sassers. Good thing, as Temperance's parents Aquilla and Rachael Dyess were living next door. On the other side was the Joseph and Susanna Blackshear family. Wow! They're in my tree, too. What a nice coincidence. This is where I inserted data into my program without question.
In the 1870 US Federal Census, Lewis Henry Sasser and family are still in Henry County, Alabama. The family includes Lewis Henry and wife Temperance Elizabeth with children Jasper N., Solomon C., Rachael, James P., and Susan H. As before, I scanned the surrounding families. Just five doors down are some more Blackshears! Moses and his wife Elizabeth, to be exact.
Can you guess who is next door to Moses Blackshear? His brother Joseph and wife Susanna. What a find! When I got around to studying the entries for the Blackshears (remember, I was originally focused on the Sassers), I came across something interesting. Moses and Elizabeth Blackshear had two boys in their household: William and James Allen. Furthermore, Joseph and Susanna Blackshear had a girl by the name of Malissie Allen in their household. I had an "Aha!" moment.
Moses and Joseph Blackshear had a sister named Frances. Frances married Matthew Tolbert Allen. They were the parents of the three ALLEN children mentioned above. Both Matthew and Frances were dead by the time of the 1870 US Federal Census. It appears the Blackshear family took in their niece and nephews.
What does all that have to do with the Sassers? Well, Jasper N. Sasser, son of Lewis H., married Malissa Allen, daughter of Frances Blackshear. With that union, these Sassers and Blackshears are forever connected.
As research always does, this whole saga brings to mind more questions. I wonder if Jasper and Malissa knew each other as early as 1860? That would mean they knew each other as "little kids." When did Jasper begin to look at Malissa as a possible wife? Malissa was 16 years old when she married Jasper. Were the Blackshears anxious to get her "married off?" Did they think it was in Malissa's best interest to do so? Guess I'll keep digging.