Update on Clarice Covert’s Family Tree

(This is research for a law school paper – not my family line)

Clarice Covert – one of the “Murdering Wives”

I haven’t written a post about this research project is quite some time.  My trusted MacBook froze up on me and had to be worked on.  I couldn’t use the IMac to blog as all of the information was stored on the MacBook.  There hasn’t been time to write since I got the computer back from the shop as the research went into high gear and the fist draft of the paper was due.  Lots of proofreading, adjusting information as new facts were discovered, etc.

I left off with the story of Clarice’s father, Robert Laurent Barksdale.   I have pretty much covered her paternal BARKSDALE line.  I don’t know much about her paternal O’Hanlan line, from Macon, GA.  I am going to move to her maternal lineage and illustrate the EXTREME differences in social standing between her maternal and paternal lines.

Clarice’s mother was May Cossie SIMMONS. Cossie, Cossi or Cosse – it is spelled differently in various records and I am leaning towards the COSSE as her grandfather was Cuban – COSSI is an Italian version of the name. May was born 14 Dec 1889 to Lottie Lee LARNER and Alexander COSSE.  His name is spelled COSTER on the Florida Marriage Records Index and COWSI in the 1900 Census records.  May always spelled it COSSE or COSSIE on her Passport Applications, so COSSE is probably correct.

Lottie Lee LARNER and Alexander COSSE  married in Madison County, Florida 3 Aug 1889 according to the Florida Marriage Record Index (surname spelled COSTOR).  May was born just a little over four months later in Key West, Florida according to all records found for her.  The family is found in Mobile, Alabama in the 1900 Federal United States Census.  Alexander lists his occupation as cigar maker, his father as Cuban and his mother as having been born in Louisiana.  May is 11 years old.

About the LARNER grandparents. Charlotte LARNER was born in Key West to parents that she listed on census records as being from France.  On one census, she lists her father as being born in Germany.  On another, she lists Alsace-Lorraine for both. Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War.  It reverted to France  the territory reverted to France at the Treaty of Versailles of 1919.  John LARNER was born in England to English parents.

Alexander COSSE either died, or he and May divorced, by the end of 1903.  Lottie Larner COSSI (spelling in the Marriage Index) and Max W. Simmons married 04 Jan 1904 in Monroe County, Florida.  This is the only record I can find for a Max W. Simmons. He does not appear in any Census records, death records, etc. of any kind.  On her Passport Application in 1920, Lottie says she is the widow of Max W. Simmons, born Towanda, Pennsylvania 26 Nov 1869.  There is a Max Simmons found in New Jersey in the 1900 Census who gives his birthdate as Sep 1868 and his place of birth as Pennsylvania. Max is a bit of a mystery.  May used SIMMONS as her surname, therefore she must have been adopted, formally or in name only, by Max.  In the 1910 Federal Census, Lottie SIMMONS and May SIMMONS are found living with Lottie’s mother, Charlotte LARNER. Lottie is listed as a widow.

May Cosse SIMMONS must have maintained a relationship with her Cuban grandparents (or maybe it was her father if Lottie and Alexander divorced).  There are newspaper blurbs about Miss May Simmons leaving to visit relatives in Havana – one found in the Tampa Tribune, 3 Mar 1910. The announcement of her marriage to Robert Laurent BARKSDALE menions that she was a former resident of Augusta, though I have found her in no records there.

It was probably in Cuba or in Key West that May Cosse SIMMONS met Robert Laurent BARKSDALE – more later on their life together, and the environment their child, our Clarice COVERT lived in.  She was balancing between to entirely different worlds.