Ancestor Bio – Willie Hayes Shoemake (1905-1962)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-11
By Don Taylor

Willie Hayes Shoemake was born, grew up, married three times, and died – all in Putnam County, Tennessee. He was too young to have been drafted into World War I and too old (and married with children) to have served in World War II, so it is possible he never left the county.

Rittenberry 2018 – Ancestor #RS-06

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather: Willie Hayes Shoemake
  • 1st Great-grandfather: James “Jim” M. Shoemake Sr.

Willie Hayes Shoemake (1905-1962)

Willie Shoemake was born 15 March 1905 in Putnam County, Tennessee, probably near Cookeville, which is about 80 miles east of Nashville, to James “Jim” and Mary Fannie Shoemake. He was in the middle of 11 children.


His siblings included:

  • Homer Blain Shoemake 1891
  • Maggie Shoemake 1894
  • Oscar Bell Shoemake 1898
  • Haskell Shoemake c. 1900
  • Marshel M Shoemake c. 1902
  • Willie Hayes Shoemake 1905
  • Andrew W Shoemake c. 1907
  • Ethel Madelia Shoemake c. 1909
Photo of Willie Hayes Shoemake
Willie Hayes Shoemake

The 1910 Census finds a family of James & Fannie, with seven of their children, Homer, Oscar, Haskell, Marshel, Willie, Andrew, and Madelia, renting a house along Cookeville and Smithville Road. Willie’s father, James, is a “sawer” at a lumber mill; older brothers Oscar and “Haskie” are laborers at a lumber mill. “Haskie” and Oscar are only 11 and 13 respectively, neither are attending school, and neither could read and write. Willie’s oldest brother, Homer, is a laborer doing odd jobs. Besides appearing like a family in poverty, the 1910 Census also tells the story of great loss. It reports that “Fannie” had 11 children and only nine were living in 1910. So, two children were born and died before 1910. There is also one more child of James and Fannie whose name I’m not confident about.

The next census, 1920, shows the family as James and Fannie with five of their children still at home. “Osker,” Haskell, Marshell, Willie, and Ethel. None of the children are attending school. However, all are reported as being able to read and write. Willie and Ethel are still home, but Oscar, Haskel, and Marshell are farm laborers “working out.”

Marriage 1

In 1923, Willie married Berchie A Bryant. Willie was 18 and Berchie was 15 years old.

The 1930 Census finds the young family of Willie, Berchie with 4-year-old Gladys Rosalee and baby James Cecil (8 months old). Willie owns his home and is a truck driver for a planning factory.

Birchie died on 12 March 1932 at the age of 24.

Marriage 2

Willie married Ruby Foster Wilmoth in 1933.

The 1940 Census finds Willie’s family consisting of him and Ruby. With them is 10-year-old James plus two young children, five-year-old Ruby J and a newborn, Robert. Willie is a painter and decorator. Fifteen-year-old Gladys does not appear with them in the 1940 Census. Further research will be needed to determine where Gladys went.

On 18 March 1943 Ruby gave birth to another son, Willie Paul Shoemake. Willie Paul died eight months later on 28 November 1943.

Willie and Ruby separated sometime between 1943 and 1958. (Ruby passed in 1966.)

Marriage 3

Willie married Rosa Burris in 1958. In 1958 Rosa was 50-years-old, so Willie and Rosa had no children.

Death & Burial

Marker of Willie Hayes ShoemakeWillie died on 25 April 1962 at the age of 57 at Cookeville General Hospital. He was buried at the Judd Church Cemetery, Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee. His wife Rosa joined him in death 13 years later and was buried with him.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • None – Research of James and Fannie should fill in several of the known holes in the tree.


  • 1910 Census, Various, James M Shoemake – Cookeville, Putnam, Tennessee (FS). Family Search.
  • 1920 Census (A),, James M Shoemake – Putnam, TN. 1920; Census Place: Civil District 16, Putnam, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1759; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 88.
  • 1930 Census (FS), Family Search, 1930 Census – Willie Shoemake – Putnam, TN. 1930; Census Place: District 1, Putnam, Tennessee; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0002 – Ancestry.
  • 1940 Census (FS), Family Search, Willie Shoemake – Putnam, Tennessee. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (  accessed 8 March 2018), Willie Shoemake, Civil District 1, Putnam, Tennessee, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 71-5, sheet 1A, line 19, family 5, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 3928.
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 11 March 2018), memorial page for Willie Hayes Shoemake (15 Mar 1905–25 Apr 1962), Find A Grave Memorial no. 58511255, citing Judd Church Cemetery, Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Papa Randy (contributor 46864588) .
    • Tennessee, Death Records, 1914-1963, Family Search, Willie Hayes Shoemake – Death 25 Apr1962. “Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1963”, database with images, FamilySearch  24 October 2016), Willie Hayes Shoemake, 1962.
  • “Tennessee Death Records, 1914-1963,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 25 May 2014), Willie Paul Shoemake, 28 Nov 1943; citing Judd Cemetery, Cookeville, Putnam, Tennessee, 24298, State Library and Archives, Nashville; FHL microfilm 2,137,340.
  • Tennessee, State Marriages, 1780-2002,, Willie Shoemake & Birchie Bryant – 24 Jun 1923. Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

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