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Woman works to track down the truth about her family

Was he the mayor elect or a horse thief?

Kathy Tobin had been told conflicting stories as a child. Her mother claimed her maternal great-grandfather had been elected mayor of Vicksburg in 1878, but he never took office because he died of yellow fever before his inauguration. Tobin’s dad’s story, however, gave an alternative to his demise.

So this week, the Cincinnati, Ohio native, who now resides in Hutchinson Kansas with her husband Will, made a trip to the River City to set the record straight once and for all.

“My father had been a tease, and he said, ‘He was not going to be the mayor of Vicksburg, and he didn’t die of yellow fever. They hung him for horse thieving,’” Tobin said.

On Wednesday, after spending the past month in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Tobin and her husband made a detour to the River City on their way home to see what information they could dig up about Joseph F. Doll.

“Before we got here I looked on line and looked for cemeteries in Vicksburg, and this cemetery (Cedar Hill Cemetery) came up,” Tobin said.

And on its website, Tobin said, it says “Find a Grave,” so she put in the name “Doll” and up popped Joseph F. Doll, mayor elect, died of yellow fever.

“It (the website) also gave me information that I had no knowledge of before,” Tobin said.

It said that Tobin’s great-grandfather’s wife’s name was Rosina Hartman, and the couple had four children — George W. Doll, who was Tobin’s grandfather, a daughter, Victoria, “and they had little twin daughters named Elizabeth and Rosalie. They died on the same day at 10 months,” Tobin said.

In Cedar Hill Cemetery, Tobin found the gravestones of her great-grandfather, the twins and other members of the family.

According to the records that Tobin found on the website, Doll’s wife had died a year after the twins, and Doll himself had died two years later.

Although Tobin had solved the original mystery surrounding her great-grandfather, he had been Vicksburg’s mayor elect, now the question was what happened to the two remaining children of Joseph and Rosina Doll — Tobin’s grandfather and great aunt?

“I know my grandfather was in Cincinnati when he married my grandmother, but he wasn’t 10-years-old when they married! So I kept thinking what happened to those children right after their father died? Did they stay here and then come back?” she asked, referring to (George Doll’s) death notice. It had stated George Doll served in the Confederate Army.

Tobin even verified this information from Army records, and during their brief visit in Vicksburg, the couple also discovered that there had been a fifth child born to Joseph and Rosina Doll.

It was while the couple was searching through old records here in town that they found out about the fifth child named Catherine, Tobin said, and she was apparently younger than her sister Victoria.

Tobin said she had really never seriously thought about doing her geology, but with all this newfound information, she said she may be changing her mind.

“You start digging, and you find more questions,” she said.

On their last day in Vicksburg, Tobin and her husband spent part of their time cleaning her ancestor’s tombstones, at least the ones that were not in terrible disrepair.

“I had originally come with some little lilies to plant at the grave site, and I was going to put down some seeds that might grow in the summer,” Tobin said, but now that some of the markers will need to be refurbished, the flowers will have to wait, which means the couple will be making a return visit to Vicksburg.

“We will definitely be back, and then I will bring my flowers,” Tobin said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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