"I actually found two of them at the same time" by Tammy Howell
I actually found two of them at the same time by accident. I guess! The two people were my great-grandfather and his father my great-great-grandfather. When Uncle Mel first sent me his grandfather's death certificate, he said and it said River's father, William Hagens, was born in Mississippi.
St. Louis genealogy department
So, I searched my search by emailing the St Louis genealogy department for help finding my great-grandfather, Rivers Charles Hagens. I can't remember what I asked, but I remember the guy replying saying everyone with the name Hagens was not a relative to me. And then he gave me a man's name, Rivers, that he said could have an enslaver!
After that, I took his comment and ran with it until I got into Facebook groups and started learning about the different spellings of surnames and names on the census. So, I started looking for William Hagens, born in Mississippi.
When I found families, I would send what I found to my uncle, and I think he thought this one family with a son named William was his great-grandfather. It wasn't, and I wasn't saying it was.
Anyway, I was having the hardest time finding a Rivers Charles Hagens let alone who could be the correct father. Then one day bam! In the 1880 census in Jefferson County, Mississippi, there was a two-year-old boy name Rivan Hagan with his mother, France Emerson, and half siblings. I thought this had to be him.
So, as I was going page by page, I saw William Hagan born 1840 in Missouri and Charles Hagan born 1835. He was born in Missouri with his family. I knew then I found Rivers and his dad!
So, I thought Rivers' middle name Charles. He had to be from Charles Hagan the uncle! I never found William after the 1880 census, but I did find a whole other wife and family nearby with both the spouses saying they were widows. The fourth son was the same age as Rivers and William.
All four of these wives had the last name Hagan, and their father was born in Missouri. After that I easily found Rivers and family! I have never found his mother before or after that census!
I also learned through groups and DNA that I may not be related to everyone with the last name spelled Hagens, but I had many relatives with different variations of the name! And I bet people in St Louis with that last name spelled Hagens are related to me whether they were black or white.
Will and probate
I also by accident found a will and probate for Perryville, Missouri with different sales of slaves by owners with a boy named William who would have been the same age as my William and Charley. His age was not given, and Aquilla Hagan was one of the many slave owners in the document!