Page, part of the Jan and Larry Rhodes Family site, updated 11 February 2012

The Law of Spousal Proximity
by Larry Rhodes

Notes and Sources are presented as end notes. To read them as you proceed, click on note numbers within the text.

William Liles

My mother told me details that she knew about her family. Her mother's parents were William and Patty Eure Liles. They farmed and were buried a little south of Middlesex, Nash County. I early found a survey of the home cemetery in which they are buried.Note 1 Tracing William Liles (pictured) on line was not a problem; because he was male. I knew from my mother and the cemetery survey that he died in 1934, so I found him on the 1930 censusNote 2 at age 73 in the household of his younger son, Vester, along with Vester's wife Maud (Maude Christine Brown [16 August 1907 15 December 1980]Note 3) and their small daughters Lola and Dasie. Then in 1920Note 4 William was head of household at age 62 along with his second wife, Ellie [Miz Ellie, as my mother knew her], his daughter Minnie, his son Vester, and his stepson Arthur Hopkins. He and Ellie bore no children. In 1910Note 5 William Liles, aged 53, shared his household with his wife Pattie, daughter Martha, son James, daugher Elva (my grandmother,) son Manly, daugher Crettie, son John, daugher Necoda, daugher Minnie, son Stephen Vester, and sister-in-law Polly Boykin.

U. S. Census images on microfilm and on line are fantastic tools for piecing together the story of a family; but one must remember that these are photographs of documents on paper that were handwritten by temporary government employees. The ravages of time can obliterate the writing and the penmanship was not always top quality. The 1900 Nash County North Carolina pageNote 6 on which the Liles family is recorded is about 50% illegible. After much study and interpretation, the individuals listed with William are wife Pattie E., son James B., daughter Sarah E. (my grandmother,) son Manly, daughter Crettie, son John G., daughter Necoda, and mother Tildie. In 1880Note 7 William, aged 22, is head of the household consisting of his mother Matilda and his sister Mary N. Twelve year-old William is in the household of his mother Tilda with his sister Mary in 1870.Note 8 Then, finally, in 1860Note 9 three year-old toddler William resided in the household of his father Jonathan, mother Matilda, brother Kinchen, brother Dan, sister Jane, and brother Jimma.

Patty Eure Liles

In a relatively short time I had learned a lot about Great-grandfather William Liles: the names of his wives, his children, his parents, and some of his brothers and sisters. Feeling that this genealogy stuff was no big deal, I was ready to turn my attention to Great-grandmother Pattie Eure Liles; but prior to 1900, I could find nothing. I searched the Family History site maintained by the LDS Church, genealogy.com, ancestry.com, rootsweb.com, and others. There was no Pattie Eure. I formulated a hypothesis and set out to test it. I called up the census image on which I had found William in 1880 prior to his marriage. I browsed images forward for several pages and found no Eure families with an appropriately aged daughter. I returned to the beginning image containing William and began my browse in the other direction. On the first page I viewedNote 10 was the family of Gillum Eure, wife Martha A., daughter Martha E. aged 14, daughter Elizabeth, daughter Frances N., and daughter Blendy. Thereby lay my first and best proof of The Law of Spousal Proximity, holding that while the nineteenth century American male might travel for three or more days to buy a horse, cow, or pig, he would not go much farther than across the road or next door to get a wife. What of Pattie? I checked an internet source on nicknames, and found that Patsy and Patty were once common nicknames for Martha.Note 11 Found at a later time, “William Liles 23 and Patsey Eure 18 m[arried] Jan 15, 1882 at Gilliam Eure's by J. R. Morris JP. wit[nesses]: P. B. Lewis, Joseph Daniel.”Note 12 confirms my identification. In Pattie's line of descent a daughter had been named Martha for four generations: Martha Finch Glover, Martha Glover Eure, Martha Eure Liles (Pattie,) and her own daughter Martha. My mother conveyed the impression that there were bad feelings between her Aunt Martha and the rest of the family. In fact, Mom reported meeting for the first time one of Martha's sons at Grandma's funeral in 1969. That may explain why Grandma named her first daughter Patty, or she might not have known what her mother's given name was. Great-grandmother died in 1912; and Mom's oldest brother, Elwin, was born in 1913, meaning that none of the siblings would have personal history with her. Perhaps one or more of Grandma's sisters kept the tradition alive.


  1. Kemp, Bill, Surveyor; “Lewis, Liles Cemetery,” www.rootsweb.com/~ncnash/cemetery.htm
  2. 1930 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Dry Wells Township; Series T626 Roll 1709 Page 10 Line 69.
  3. Per correspondence with Rev. Trevor Batchelor, great-grandson of Vester and Maude.
  4. 1920 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Dry Wells Township; Series T625 Roll 1311 Page 216, Line 28f.
  5. 1910 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Dry Wells Township; Series T624 Roll 1123 Page 68, Line 43f.
  6. 1900 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Bailey Township; Series T623 Roll 1208 Page 15, Line 66f.
  7. 1880 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Baileys Township; Series T9 Roll 974 Page 532, Line 22f.
  8. 1870 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Springfield Township; Series M593 Roll 1150 Page 93, Line 14f.
  9. 1860 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Stony Hill Post Office; Series M653 Roll 307 Page 267, Line 33f.
  10. 1880 U. S. Census, North Carolina, Nash County, Baileys Township; Series T9 Roll 974 Page 532, Line 46f.
  11. “A Listing of Some 18th & 19th Century American Nicknames,” www/cslib.org/nickname.htm.
  12. Rackley, Timothy W., Abstracter, Nash County North Carolina Marriages 1869-1887, Kernersville, NC: self-published, Page 49.

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