June 7th, 2010

The Myths and Mysteries of Tiger WOODS’ Ancestry Part II

In Part I, I examined the claim that Tiger’s father, Earl WOODS, is one-quarter Native American, one-quarter Chinese and half black.

The black is fairly easy to establish because as far back as I can go on Earl’s father’s ancestry, the family is listed as black (I am using black as this was the terminology on the records of the time). I realize there is the “one drop rule” that means any black in your ancestry no matter how far back means you are black. That can skew the results, but there is no evidence of any other ethnicity to in the WOODS line back from Earl’s father than black (or Negro as was used on the 1930 United States Federal Census).

Perhaps, if we could go further back in the WOODS line, we might find different ancestry, but it is doubtful there would be enough to establish the claim of one-quarter Native American and one quarter Chinese on the basis of Earl WOODS’ paternal line. It is said that Miles, Earl’s father, “was black, clearly of African ancestry” (telegraph.co.uk, 05 May 2006) and that is where I have to leave this line for now.

Perhaps we will do better with Earl’s maternal line. His mother was Maud(e) Ellen CARTER, who married his father Miles WOODS (July 1919 according to William Addams Reitwiesner who does not give a primary source for this information). Miles was a widowed prior to the 1910 census. His first wife was Viola and they had at least four children together (sources: 1905 Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 and 1910 United States Federal Census).

While the WOODS family lived in Manhattan Ward 4, Riley, Kansas, the CARTER family was also in Kansas but over a hundred miles away in Stranger, Leavenworth County.

Earl’s mother, Maud(e) Ellen CARTER, was born in May 1893 (1900 United States Federal Census), 20 years younger than her husband. On the Kansas State Census Collection of March 1, 1895, she is age two living with her parents Louis and Hattie CARTER. On the 1900 and 1905 census records, she is still living with her parents and siblings. In 1910, her mother is listed as widowed and the head of the family is given as Maude’s older brother Fred.

See Table 1 for the standard information given on the 1895-1930 census records for Maud. Those dated June of a year are United States Federal Census records and those dated March are from the Kansas State Census Collection. Blank means no answer was given, none means the word none appeared in the column and n/a means not asked. As shown on every census record, Maud is listed as B for black, except for 1930 which used Neg. for Negro.

On the 1895, 1900 and 1905 census records, Maud and family reside in Stranger, Leavenworth, Kansas. Her first name is written as Martha on the 1905 Kansas State Census Collection, but she is the right age, with the correct parents and consistent siblings to be Maude.

In 1915, the closest match is Maud CARTER, 22, living with Martha C. Babcock, age 70, and Francis Babcock, age 30, in Wakarusa, Douglas County, Kansas. The Babcocks are identified as W for white while Maud is listed as B for black. Maud is the only black person on that page.

When Maude marries Miles Woods, she lives with him at Manhattan, Riley, Kansas. On the 1920 census, one child from the previous marriage is still living at home with his father and his new stepmother. By the 1925 record, there are no children from Miles first family and three children from the new marriage have been added to the family.

An interesting question is what was Maude doing in the Babcock household? Was she a domestic for them or was it closer to a college that she was attending? According to Londino, she did both domestic work and attended college (though not necessarily at the same time). He says, “Maude CARTER was a college graduate, but she spent her entire life doing domestic work because there were so few opportunities for black women” (Source: Tiger WOODS: a biography, by Lawrence J. Londino, Greenwood Press, 2005).

Was a college education even possible for a black woman at the time? The answer is yes, because after emancipation (which was gradual but finalized December 6, 1865 with the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution) education for African-Americans was seen as extremely important. The belief that churning out African-American teachers through “normal schools” was essential to raising educational levels of all African-Americans resonated throughout the states where African-American populations were high.

Kansas was one such state as many made their way north in a mass exodus to try to find states that might afford them more opportunities. Those who moved during this time were called “Exodusters” and the CARTER family was certainly part of this movement. Maude’s father gives his father’s place of birth as Kentucky and his mother’s as North Carolina. By the early 1900s when Maude would have been college age, there were many African-American universities and colleges in Kansas.

I could find two women named Maude CARTER who received teaching credentials, but neither was in Kansas. Certainly this does not rule Maude out, as it is impossible to do an exhaustive search. Yet, to say she was college-educated but unable to secure work other than as a domestic is mysterious, because I read that the need for African-American teachers was high during this time. It is definitely possible she took something other than teaching or that teaching jobs for blacks might have been limited to all black schools and these did not pay well enough to support her family.

In fact, a testament to the truth of the college education is that the 1920 United States Federal Census shows her as having no occupation, but in the column where it says, “Was in school since September 1, 1919” the census taker wrote yes. At this time, she was 28 and since she was in school for the 1900 and 1905 census years, I would assume at age 28, she would be attending college. The 1915 record does not show an occupation or attendance at a school, but she would have been 18 and could have finished elementary and high school by then.

Regardless of her schooling, there is nothing in any records for Maude to indicate she was anything but black.

In Part III, I will examine Maude’s parents’ genealogy to see if there is any other ethnicity for them in the attempt to determine Earl Dennison Woods’ claim to be something other than 100% African-American.

Xenia Stanford of Write On! XPRESS and A.G.E. Ancestree Genealogical Enterprises