Saturday, October 31, 2009

SNGF - Halloween Memories

Halloween memories from my own childhood have been covered in a previous Memory Monday, Holidays Then and Now, so for Randy Seaver’s latest Saturday Night Genealogy Fun I will post one of my favorite Halloween memories from when my daughters were little. (Well, it’s a favorite now; it wasn’t then.)

At our church the high school kids are in charge of putting on a Halloween party for the younger kids. Because the high school kids are still young enough to remember what they enjoyed at Halloween parties, they always put together a very enjoyable event – lots of games, prizes, and yummy food.

The party I remember in particular took place when our younger daughter had just turned five years old. She did not like to lose. She has never liked to lose. So, except for the “everybody wins” type of games, each game was a potential minefield. However, she had learned some good manners, and that was her downfall.

The game this time was Musical Chairs (to the accompaniment of “Monster Mash”). We and the other parents were standing around, watching and talking, as was our pastor, Father John.

The music stopped. The kids lunged at the remaining seats. Our daughter, who had never played Musical Chairs before, let a smaller boy take the remaining seat, then stood there, waiting for the music to start up again. One of the teenagers came over to lead her away and explained that since she had not taken a chair, she was now "out".

Our daughter stomped off, full of a five-year-old’s indignation. “This is a
b---head game!” she cried.

Gulp. Heh-heh. Dunno where she learned that word….

Father John continued to smile benevolently. He must have heard that word before.

[Note: I altered this story after I mentioned to my husband that I had posted it here. My husband corrected my memory: I had forgotten that our daughter had lost because she had offered her seat to another child, which only increased her indignation.]

Found This at Cindy's

blog, Everything's Relative - Researching Your Family History. I couldn't ever get the Wordle thingy to work, but this one worked for me. Thanks, Cindy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Memory Monday: Playing Dress-Up

I can remember every dress-up costume I ever wore as a child. There were three. That is, if you don’t count the various pathetic Halloween costumes I had (and trashed and abandoned every November 1). Or the outfits my friends (boys) and I would put together to be “Beach Bums” (our favorite pretend game): ragged shorts and shirts we had outgrown, flip-flops, and “stubble” scribbled on with my mother’s eyebrow pencil.

One of the costumes was a light brown skirt with African animals on it, each animal having a little straw tail. The second was my favorite, a satiny, iridescent midnight-blue skirt with a blue-black mesh over it – very glamorous. Both of these skirts were my mother’s, and on my five-to-seven-year-old frame, they swept the ground, just like a formal dress. Mom must have let me wear them because she no longer did at that point. I can understand why she might have tired of the first one, but the blue one – incomprehensible! It was absolutely fabulous.

Once I tried on a pair of her high heels with one of the skirts. That was the beginning and end of my history with high heels.

The third outfit consisted of a grass skirt that my Uncle Bill brought back from Hawaii combined with a paper punch-out crown.

There are no pictures of me in any of these outfits or in any of my Halloween costumes.

Of my daughters, however, almost every third picture in our albums shows them in dress-up or a costume of some kind, or at least a funny hat or silly glasses. Halloween costumes were never retired, just passed down and reinvented. When our daughters were younger, Halloween for the entire neighborhood was a major holiday. Almost every kid on our half of the block assembled into a huge, churning mass of princesses, Power Rangers, animals, and characters out of history and fiction. This inaugurated Dress-Up Season, which lasted through Christmas and all the way through winter. Actually, it went year round, but Halloween and Christmas supplied new costumes, which always signaled a change in fantasy games.

Not all dress-up required dedicated costumes: towels or underwear worn on their heads, underpants worn on the outside, towels tied on with a belt, a toy bucket or potty training toilet seat on the head for a hat – we have ample photographic evidence of all these original creations.

When my older daughter was three years old, our next door neighbor gave her a Christmas present that launched a major tradition: the dress-up box. Over the next few years I would add to it by combing the local thrift stores for scarves, skirts, belts, and hats that only cost a dollar or two apiece. Each year’s ballet recital costumes also got added to the mix. It was a rare day of play with friends that did not include a dress-up session. There were even things that the boys could wear, such as pirate outfits and firefighter’s hats.

Not more than a few years ago some old neighborhood friends who had moved to Michigan returned to visit. The girls, all in their teens, dressed up in some of the same long dresses that had engulfed them when there were little, and proceeded to prance around and dance, totally unself-conscious. Just like the good old days….

A few pictures from my daughters’ dress-up days, representing only a tiny fraction of the pictures featuring them in costume:

My daughters were crazy about Peter Pan, particularly Tiger Lily. In fact, they had a major obsession with the very politically incorrect Ugg-a-Wuggs, as they referred to the Indians. We had to play the “Ugg-a-Wugg” song roughly a million times during their childhood.

“I a Ugg-a-Wugg. I on a warpaff.”

Here the girls stare in fascination as “People Peter Pan” (as opposed to “Cartoon Peter Pan,” which they also loved, but not quite as much) plays on the TV screen. The Indian girl costumes were probably the most often-worn costumes of all.

Big people’s clothes

One of many animal-themed costumes

Witches are not just for Halloween – you can be one all year long

A ballet costume. She’s not sad; that’s just her “drama” face.

Creations from the Dress-Up Box

From a neighborhood dress-up session

Every day is Talk (and Scowl and Dress) Like a Pirate Day

The crew gathers for the yearly Neighborhood Halloween Extravaganza

“We’re King Tut’s Sisters.”

Renaissance Festival maidens

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Musical Instruments – More on the Fiddling Moores

Do you play a musical instrument or did one of your family members? What instrument did you or they play? If no one in the family played an instrument, tell what is your favorite instrument or band and what is your least favorite one. The deadline for submissions is November 1st. This edition of the COG will be guest hosted by Janet Iles who authors the blog, Janet the Researcher.

With my usual terrible timing, I covered this subject previously and at some length in Fiddles and my Family (which dealt with the Moore family’s passion for fiddle music and focused on my Uncle Howard Moore, who had a flourishing second career as a violin-maker) and in a follow-up article, I Was Wrong (written because I had found a picture of my Uncle Howard and Aunt Joy with fiddles made by him after claiming in the first article that there was none). I suppose then that I could entitle this post I Was Really Wrong, because among my mother’s pictures and keepsakes I found two more newspaper articles on Howard and his fiddles, as well as his business card (above).

There is a bit of duplication among the articles, but one thing I really enjoyed about the two below was that they go into more detail about Uncle Howard’s memories of his father (my grandfather) playing the fiddle.

The other thing that jumped out at me was the mention of the Violano Virtuoso that Uncle Howard owned. I had not thought of that for ages! This was a musical machine produced by the Mills Novelty Company between 1907 and 1930 that was something like a player piano, but in addition to the piano also had a mechanically played violin (or sometimes even two). These things are coin-operated, so Uncle Howard always kept a jar of nickels next to his. The tune I remembered it playing was “Over the Waves.“

When I searched in YouTube, quite a few results came up. In one of the clips a Violano Virtuoso aficionado (try saying that three times really fast) explains what one of these contraptions is and mentions that there are currently … 15 known Violano Virtuosos in the world. I wonder if any of my cousins still has that Violano Virtuoso?

I couldn’t find a clip with “Over the Waves,” so I decided to post the clip of a Double (!) Violano Virtuoso playing “Dueling Banjos.”

Below are transcripts of the articles. (If you have ever wondered what the difference between a fiddle and a violin is, you can read Uncle Howard’s answer in the first article.)

“Violin Craftsman Visits Weiser, Lured by Beauty of the Fiddle,” by Keitha Herrick. From The Weiser Signal, Thursday, June 22, 1967, Front Page; Weiser, Idaho.

“Each year, thousands of people are attracted to the Fiddle Festival in Weiser by the hypnotic strains of the music, by memories long cherished in their childhood or by the thrill and excitement of festival crowds. At least one couple, however, has come this year to view the beauty and craftsmanship of the fiddle itself.

They are Mr. and Mrs. Howard Moore of 1702 Island Ave., Wilmington, Calif.

Mr. Moore, professionally a longshoreman in the Los Angeles Harbor, is a master violin maker in his spare time. One of his violins won the grand champion award on tone, varnish, and workmanship at the 1964 contest of the International Association of Violin and Guitar Makers held in Arizona.

Born at Lancaster, Texas, Moore moved to California in 1935 and has worked as a longshoreman loading and unloading ships most of this time, but his hobby is making and restoring stringed instruments and his love for them shows in his attention to detail.

Mr. and Mrs. Moore are the happy owners of one of the few Violano Virtuoso (an old-fashioned Nickelodeon-type box with a violin in it) made between 1909 and 1929 and valued at $2500.

Moore makes his instruments out of fine wood. He owns one piece of maple which came from a top of a library table used in the White House during President James Madison’s tenure in office. He plans to make a backing out of it.

He also owns a piece of topwood from a cathedral built in 1459 in Munich, Germany, for a violin and viol.

Moore had a ready answer when asked the difference between a fiddle and a violin. “A fiddle is carried in a sack and a violin is carried in a case,” he said.

The Moores first attended the Fiddle Festival in 1964 and enjoyed the hospitality and fine fiddling so much they planned each year to return but something always interfered until this year.

They both wish to thank the good citizens of Weiser for making their stay so friendly and enjoyable.

During the festival they are residing at the Washington hotel. They are accompanied by Mrs. Thelma Matlock, who works with Mrs. Moore at Pacific Telephone.”

Moore inspects back of violin ...

... then checks top for proper fit.

“Longshoreman By Day … Violin Maker By Night,” by Ann Salisbury. From the Sunday Scene Magazine of the Daily Breeze, Sunday, January 3, 1971, p. F1.

“Howard Moore has a hard job and a soft heart.

He’s a longshoreman who controls a power winch that swings tons of cargo from ship decks to the docks of Long Beach, Wilmington and San Pedro.

In his spare time he makes and repairs violins in his Wilmington home.

That may seem strange, but to Moore, “Violins are my life.”

Moore, 61, became interested in violins as a child. During the 1920s he lived on a Texas farm.

‘On the weekends we’d have country dances at people’s houses. They’d move the furniture out, roll up the rugs and dance until 1 or 2 in the morning,’ he said.

‘The girls’d wear gingham dresses and there’d be corn whiskey and home brew and home-baked pies. My dad had a fiddle, and his brothers used to borrow it.

‘I guess I loved violins even then because when they’d take the fiddle, I’d always tell them to be sure and bring it back.’

Moore says violins remind him of those days at home on the farm.

He was one of 11 children and there was a lot of work to be done, but everyone looked forward to Saturday nights when his father would take out the fiddle and play ‘Turkey in the Straw,’ ‘Ragtime Annie,’ ‘Arkansas Traveler,’ and ‘Leather Britches.’

‘My father kept his fiddle in a wooden case under the bed. We kids were forbidden to touch it. When he was away, I used to take it out and tune it by ear and try to play it.’

Moore has won more than 20 trophies with his violins, among which are first place and grand champion awards for workmanship, tone and varnish.

His violins sell from $300 to $600 and he has sold 30 of the 37 he has made.

‘I can make a good violin in about 60 hours but it usually takes a long time because I’m kept busy repair old ones,’ he said.

Moore did his first repair work when he was seven.

‘One of my father’s violin pegs broke, and I carved a new one from a buggy spoke. It was the only hard wood I could find,’ he said.

Moore’s eyes light up when he talks violins. “I’ve got a piece of maple for the back of a violin, and that maple came from a library table which was in the White House when James Madison was president,’ he said.

‘I may combine that with a top of some spruce wood that was once part of a cathedral built in 1459 in Munich, Germany.

Moore has a Stradivarius violin-back proportion chart on his workshop wall.

‘But when I’m making a violin, I’ve found I get the best results with proportions I’ve figured out myself,” he grinned.

‘There are more than 72 parts to a violin, many of which must be sculpted and carved to perfection,’ Moore said. ‘But the most important is tone. It should be rich, round, and full with good carrying power.

‘And a violin should have playability. Some violins have a bright tone, some are mellow, and some have a dark tone like what you hear in gypsy music.’

Until 10 years ago Moore had forgotten violins. He married at 18 and went to work in the oil fields.

‘After that I got into the building trades and construction. In 1935 I came to the waterfront and started my longshoring, and all that time I’d forgotten them.

‘But in 1960 my wife and I were rummaging through a garage for some trailer gear.

‘I saw an old violin case hanging from a nail. I asked about it and … the family gave it to me.

‘It wasn’t in very good shape – it was almost falling apart, but it was a good violin. When I held it there and looked at it, I remembered hearing my dad those old fiddle tunes,’ he said.

‘I remembered the broken peg and the Texas hoe downs, and I knew I could restore it.”

Thanks to these articles, I now even know some of the tunes that my grandfather played on his fiddle. I guess the timing of this Carnival of Genealogy wasn’t so bad, after all.

Submitted for the 83rd Carnival of Genealogy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 23 October 2009


As I wrote yesterday, first part of SmithQuest is winding down, but I plan to complete the timeline and post some inquiries this weekend.


I have transcribed a few more obituaries from the last set.

Blog Highlights

Congratulations and kudos to Linda Hughes Hiser over at Flipside for getting her Linda Hughes Hiser Family Genealogy Page moved to its new spot at Yahoo. Sounds like this was an enormous and terribly difficult undertaking. It’s one thing to put our reams of information together once for something like this, but to have to redo it takes real dedication.

In a post entitled “He Had Me at ‘Detective’” over at Family Stories, Caroline Pointer writes about the unsolved mystery of the murder of her great-uncle Roscoe Benton Martin and his four children, a mystery which she intends to “own” and will be researching and writing about on her blog; she also solicits any suggestions readers may wish to offer. This sounds fascinating and I wish her success in her investigation!

Featured Family Friday: William T. Sisson and Jerusha Elizabeth Neeley

William T. Sisson
b. ca 1826, Georgia
d. 12 Feb 1894, Talladega, Alabama
& Jerusha Elizabeth Neeley
d. bef 1858
m. 13 Jun 1851, Talladega, Alabama
|--Obediah Victor Sisson
|----b. 18 Sep 1852, Alabama
|----d. 25 Feb 1913
|---& Sarah Jane Carpenter
|----b. 30 Jun 1844
|----d. 31 Dec 1927, Talladega, Alabama
|----m. 17 Sep 1874, Talladega, Alabama
|--Sarah Jane Sisson
|----b. 14 Feb 1855, Alabama
|----d. 25 Apr 1937, Fannin County, Texas
|---& William Henry “Jack” Norman
|----b. 15 Mar 1858, Alabama
|----d. 19 Dec 1939, Leonard, Fannin County, Texas
|----m. 1879
|--Margaret L. Sisson
|----b. 1856, Alabama
|---& John E. Carpenter
|----b. 28 May 1859, Talladega, Alabama
|----d. 18 Jan 1884, Talladega, Alabama
|----m. 8 Jun 1880, Talladega, Alabama

William T. Sisson and Jerusha Elizabeth Neeley were the parents of my great-grandmother Sarah Jane Sisson. William was the son of Obadiah and Margaret Sisson; Elizabeth’s parents are unknown, but I suspect that she was the daughter of a man named Victor Neeley. Jerusha was the first of William Sisson’s three wives; I will cover the families of his second and third wives in later posts.

There are still quite a few gaps in my information on this family: Jerusha Neeley Sisson’s date of death, Margaret Sisson Carpenter’s date of death, and whether Margaret and John Carpenter had any children before he died in 1884 (since they married in 1880, none appear with them on the 1880 census). John and Sarah Jane Carpenter were most likely related; I would guess that Sara was John’s aunt.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can use the “Contact” button on the left side of this blog to get in touch with me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I decided to give my brick wall (Lizzie Smith) search a glam new name, so SmithQuest it is.

For a while I’ll be giving SmithQuest a rest, since trying to ferret out information on Smiths in Tennessee has become a little bit wearisome, even though I’ve made some progress on this front.

However, before I take a break to work on other families, there are some things I need to do to get set up for more searching in the future:

1. Get in touch with the people who have Ancestry trees on the Smith families that I have identified as good candidates or who have posted on these families in various message boards.

2. Put inquiries in the Smith, Bonner, and relevant geographic location message boards on these families. This may take a while to produce results, but hey, I’ve got time.

3. Compile as complete a timeline as possible for Lizzie’s whereabouts, starting with her marriage to Hiram in December 1891 (her first documented location with a specific date).

4. Survey all the online newspaper archives I can find to see if there are any that cover any of the places where Lizzie Smith lived and subscribe to any that cover the relevant areas (this is where the timeline comes in handy).

Hoping to get a good block of time to work on these items this weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Using Ancestry Family Trees in Research

It is commonly accepted that while online genealogies may provide helpful hints, as a whole they tend to be unreliable or at least poorly sourced. I often use WorldConnect to find “leads” on families and also as an avenue to get in touch with other researchers. However, up until recently I had made only limited use of Ancestry’s Public Member Trees as a separate search function. They didn’t seem to provide any more information than any other online genealogies and often even less in the way of sources. The best contacts I made through Ancestry searches were with researchers who had made corrections to census transcriptions or other database entries or who contacted me through my corrections.

However, the tie-in to Ancestry trees that now appears on the image page as a function of the search parameters used has turned out to be far more helpful than I expected. This has been especially convincingly demonstrated by my most recent project, the compilation of a database of candidate families from Tennessee for my brick wall, Susan Elizabeth Smith. This is a fairly sizeable set of families selected based on the following criteria: last name Smith, a daughter named Elizabeth/Elisabeth, Lizzie, or Susan (or appropriate initials) born between 1866 and 1870, plus the family should be residing in Tennessee or at least Lizzie should have been born there. Right now there are 60+ families in the database, although a number of them have been relegated to the bottom (= least likely) categories based on the poor fit of certain data to the established profile.

And this is where the family trees come in useful – they often contain the additional information that reveals a poor fit; in other words, the “negative evidence” that I am looking for in order to narrow down the group of likely families: the daughter of interest may have died young, never have married, or married a different person. In deciding to whether or not to accept the information as provided I go by how complete and carefully presented the information on the family is: if the researcher has provided complete names (not just the names that appear on the census) and dates, has provided sources within Ancestry constraints, etc. And the sources listed add another benefit: they provide links to the databases – usually a census page – used as the source, so this is often an even easier way than doing a regular search for finding more information on the family. It has helped me confirm my “paired” families (families found on both 1870 and 1880 censuses and identifiable as the same families) and in one case revealed a mistake I had made in connecting an 1880 family to what I thought was the same family in 1870. This information has also helped me with a couple of families that I refer to as “Initial Families” – families with only initials and a last name. In only a couple of cases have I found what I believe are dubious connections.

I would sum up the advantages of the Public Member Tree tie-ins as follows:

1. Potentially useful researcher contacts
2. Finding family members in other censuses
3. “Negative” or supporting evidence for the identity of the family

So, while I will continue to approach online genealogies with caution, I have come to appreciate the usefulness of Ancestry Public Member Trees as an integrated research tool.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proposed Changes to NARA Genealogy Spaces

The President of the Fairfax Genealogical Society recently sent out an e-mail to Society members in which he passed on news about proposed changes to the areas at NARA where genealogists use NARA materials, work with consultants, and participate in genealogy education programs. The changes would include: relocation of the Finding Aids/Consultants to the library, a reduction in the number of microfilm readers, the use of “pull on demand” for retrieval of microfilm and elimination of digital access for researchers to microfilm collections, relocation of the microfilm reading room to the old Finding Aids/Consultants room, elimination of the Lecture Room, and conversion of the spaces currently occupied by Military Research, Room 24, and the lobby area with the sign-in desk and volunteers’ desk to Museum/Shop spaces. In sum, the area for consultations and use of Finding Aids would be inadequate, with conversations and research going on in the same small spaces, and orientation and education programs would suffer from lack of spaces.

If you wish to register objections to the proposed changes, it is recommended that you write to the Acting Archivist, the nominee for the position of Archivist, the Senator who is responsible for the Archivist’s confirmation hearings, and two Congressmen known to have taken an interest in the National Archives (as well as your own congressional representatives) at the following addresses:

Ms. Adrienne C. Thomas
Acting Archivist
The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Mr. David S. Ferriero
Andrew W. Mellon Director of
The New York Public Libraries
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018
(Archivist nominee)

The Honorable Tom Carper
United States Senate
513 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510
(responsible for the Archivist confirmation hearings)

The Honorable Richard Durbin
United States Senate
309 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable José E. Serrano
United States House of Representatives
2227 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3216

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memory Monday: I’ll Have Mine With Sugar

Last week’s Monday Memory concerned the preparation and eating of certain favorite desserts. This week’s topic is related: desserts with sugar.

Um, “desserts with sugar” – isn’t that sort of like “toast with bread” or “oatmeal with oats”? What I mean is, desserts that aren’t much more than sugar.

In a family of people with fierce sweet teeth, something had to fill that craving when there wasn’t much in the pantry beyond the basics. Sweet dishes that could be put together quickly. Sweet dishes that could be concocted by a little kid. Sweet dishes that most adults would find revolting. (Not my father, though. Nothing was too sweet for him.)

Sweet dish #1: Cinnamon toast. This was a favorite breakfast in my childhood. It doesn’t have to be totally revolting, because the sugar can be kept to a minimum. As I remember it, however, the sugar was usually piled on in a pretty thick layer (with butter underneath and cinnamon on top). This dish is also improved by using some of the more solid and flavorful breads. Of course, the bread we used was the only kind that was ever to be found in our house – white bread.

Sweet dish #2: Peanut butter and syrup. Yeah, pretty disgusting. But as a child, I looked forward to eating peanut butter and syrup all smushed together with bits of toast mixed in. This was also usually a breakfast dish.

Sweet dish #3: Peanut brittle. Usually without the peanuts. I learned at an early age how to caramelize sugar in the frying pan, and after that all I needed for a sugary afternoon snack was for there to be sugar in the house.

Sweet dish #4: OK, it’s actually a legitimate, non-icky sweet food item: Sugar cookies. I include it here because of the name and because it’s the other dessert that I learned to make when I was young, around 10-12 years old. This skill became a source of power for me. Power with my brother Don, that is. Even earlier, when I was only about 8 or 9, I learned how to get some leverage with my older (by 8 years) brother. I became his bank. Don liked to go out with his friends, usually to get things like burgers, root beer floats, or whatever. His allowance and earned money did not last long. I saved my money. So Don would come to me, the most malleable member of the family, when he ran out of his own money. He promised to pay me back double, and he kept his word. So he always knew I would give him the money, and I always knew he would pay me back. Still, it was a heady feeling for a little kid, and he had to be nice to me.

Oh, yes, the sugar cookies. Don and his best friend John, who was such a fixture around our house that my mother referred to him as Son Number Two, were totally addicted to sugar cookies. When Mom wasn’t there to make them, I would make the cookies for them. They didn’t have to be just nice to me, they had to be really nice. And pay me (another reason why I always had money in my piggy bank). One day, when I was going over to a friend’s house and didn’t have the time to make the cookies, I wrote out the recipe so that they could make their own.

When I returned later in the afternoon, they were waiting for me. They were pathetic. Their cookies had ended up running all over the pan and were flat and burned. The “add flour until consistency is solid” apparently had not sunk in with them. I took pity on them. After they paid me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 16 October 2009

Very little to report this week – over the long weekend we visited our older daughter in Philadelphia, and it took a lot of time to catch up on e-mail and so forth when we got back.

Smith (Brinlee)

I finally got back to working on the Smith candidate families yesterday. For now I’m done with #1 families (just doing some basic research on each family for now) and it’s on to Group 2 families. However, before starting on them, I spent a little time researching a Bonner family that might be the family of a mysterious W. T. Bonner who married a Lizzie Smith in McMinn Co., Tennessee in 1886.

Today the Social Security application of my great-uncle Cecil Odell Brinlee came in the mail. It is dated January 6, 1940 and lists his mother’s maiden name as “Susan Elizabeth Smith.” This is pretty decent evidence that this was her actual name, since she was probably living with Odell and his family at this time.

No reply, yet, from the person who set up the memorial to Lizzie on Findagrave; I’ll have to try contacting the person who maintains the site.

Lewis (Moore)

Chalk one up for GenealogyWise – I heard from a cousin who is descended from John Sloan Lewis on my page there. This is the first Lewis cousin in the Elisha Berry Lewis-Martha Poole line I have heard from, so I am pretty excited. However, I have not yet had a reply to my reply and am dying to hear more about the Dallas Lewises!

Featured Family Friday: William Henry Norman and Sarah Jane Sisson

William Henry “Jack” Norman
b. 15 Mar 1858, Alabama
d. 19 Dec 1939, Leonard, Fannin County, Texas
& Sarah Jane Sisson
b. 14 Feb 1855, Alabama
d. 25 Apr 1937, Fannin County, Texas
m. 1879
|--William Norman Jr.
|----b. 1880, Talladega, Alabama
|----d. 1881, Talladega, Alabama
|--Thomas Franklin Norman
|----b. 6 Mar 1882, Alabama
|----d. 16 Aug 1958, Fannin County, Texas
|---& Nolie King Denison
|----b. 6 Apr 1887, Tennessee
|----d. 30 Mar 1967, Leonard, Fannin Co., Texas
|----m. 19 May 1905
|--Annie Norman
|----b. 1883, Talladega, Alabama
|----d. 1886, Talladega, Alabama
|--Jessie Fredrick Norman
|----b. 1884, Talladega, Alabama
|----d. 1895
|--Mary Jane “Mollie” Norman
|----b. 14 Feb 1890, Alabama
|----d. 21 Jan 1984, Leonard, Fannin Co., TX
|---& George Hampton Watson
|----b. 12 Aug 1876, Tennessee
|----d. 13 May 1941, Fannin County, Texas
|----m. 5 Sep 1910
|--Sallie Frances Norman
|----b. 5 Sep 1892, Talladega Co., AL
|----d. 8 Dec 1984, Ivanhoe, Fannin County, Texas
|---& Lawrence Carroll Brinlee
|----b. 29 Jan 1893, String Town, Atoka, OK
|----d. 9 Apr 1953, Bonham, Fannin, TX
|----m. 6 May 1911, Greenville, Hunt Co., TX
|--Obadiah “Oby” Norman*
|----b. 31 Mar 1895, Texas
|----d. Jun 1979
|---& Edith Beulah Watson
|----b. 2 Jul 1899
|----d. 12 Mar 1956, San Bernardino, CA
|----m. 3 May 1919, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
|--Obadiah “Oby” Norman*
|----b. 31 Mar 1895, Texas
|----d. Jun 1979
|---& Rhuea Mae Brown
|----b. 28 Oct 1889, Licking, Texas Co., Missouri
|----d. 6 Apr 1974, Napa, California
|----m. 23 Aug 1956, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX

This is the family of my great-grandparents William Henry “Jack” Norman (son of James Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk) and Sarah Jane Sisson (daughter of William T. Sisson and Jerusha Elizabeth Neeley). They were my paternal grandmother’s parents. (Coincidence: Jack and Sarah were both the second children of the first wives of men who each had three wives.)

Originally I had heard nothing about the three children who died young – William Henry, Jr., Annie, and Jessie Frederick. I first saw them listed as children of Jack and Sarah Norman on a Sisson family website (included in the links on the left side of this blog). This information may have come from a Norman family history compiled by Inez E. Cline and passed to me by some generous cousins (thanks, Pat and Chuck!). This family history also attributes a third wife (Mary Roberts) to my great-uncle Oby Norman, but I have yet to check that one out, so I have not included her, yet.

Jack and Sarah Norman were the last set of great-grandparents I found after starting on the genealogical journey. I first saw their names on a listing for the Brown Shed Cemetery in Fannin, Texas. They appeared to be the right ages to have been Grandma Brinlee’s parents, so I put them down as my candidates. Then right after I subscribed to Ancestry I found them with their surviving children, including Grandma Sallie and Great-Uncle Oby, on the 1900 census. I cannot find Jack on either the 1910 or 1920 census, and Sarah appears on the 1920 census with son Thomas Frank and family and is listed as a widow. I suppose this could have been a mistake, but it kind of makes me wonder.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can use the “Contact” button on the left side of this blog to get in touch with me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Favorite Genealogical Society

What's your favorite genealogical society?
Do you belong to a society?
Tell us why! Or if not, why not?

The Fairfax Genealogical Society is so far the only genealogy society I have joined. Since I joined in Octobeer 2008, in addition to attending the regular meetings, I have participated in the following events sponsored by the Society: three field trips (Family History Center, Library of Congress, and NARA), one two-day genealogy conference, and two brick wall workshops. There were many other field trips, educational programs, and Special Interest Group meetings I could have attended as well. That’s a lot for $22 a year.

The Society works with the Fairfax County Main Library on various projects and provides the Library’s Virginia Room with genealogical books (not just on Virginia subjects) purchased with member donations. Members have participated in cemetery surveys and indexes, a Colonial census substitute project, a Fairfax County War of 1812 soldiers and veterans database, transcriptions and compilations of Fairfax County Revolutionary War muster lists, and many other projects. There is a monthly newsletter, a surname exchange list, and a calendar of upcoming local genealogical events for the area (Virginia, Maryland, and more).

The Society has a good number of members (400-500) and many are active members. There are quite a few professional genealogists and highly knowledgeable amateurs among their ranks; there are SIGs for the Board for Certification of Genealogists and for the NGS home study course.

The Fairfax Genealogical Society is not totally immune to some of the problems that plague genealogy societies these days – aging membership and a volunteer position here and there that goes untilled for a while. However, the enthusiasm and hard work of the volunteers keep the momentum up and new members are introduced at every meeting.

These are a few of the many reasons that the Fairfax Genealogical Society was the first genealogical society for me to join. It won’t be the last; I plan to join others, but gradually so that I can keep my “genealogy expenses” under control. Some societies that I plan to join are: the National Genealogical Society, Collin County Genealogical Society, North Texas Genealogical Association, the Greenville and Anderson Chapters of the South Carolina Genealogical Society, and Dallas Genealogical Society.

Submitted for the 82nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Off-Topic Tuesday: Phantonyms

In the spirit of Terry Thornton’s H.O.G.S. blogging (History/Observations/Genealogy/Stories), occasionally I would like to go “off topic” and include subjects that are not strictly related to genealogy. This idea was also inspired by Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun of two weeks ago – What is your all-time favorite song? – which sort of goes with the “write down your memories” part of genealogy (last week’s SNGF). And it also has elements of pure self-indulgence.

For the above-mentioned SNGF, it was very difficult for me to come up with just one song. As I looked through some of my “favorites” on Youtube, it occurred to me that I should use one of these clips – but I didn’t know how. Once I figured out how to do it, however, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to post music clips occasionally. There are other random things I’d like to include as well, so Off-Topic Tuesday will be an occasional feature on this blog.

Today’s topic is phantonyms. This is a neologism created by Jack Rosenthal, William Safire’s successor as author of the On Language column, in the 25 September 2009 column. According to Rosenthal, “a word that looks as if it could mean one thing but means quite another could be called a phantonym, and warrants wariness.” He cites fulsome, noisome, and disinterested as examples. He also lists presently, which he says “does not mean now, but in a little while.” However, a quick check in a couple of dictionaries indicates that what often happens to phantonyms has already happened to this word: the “new” meaning becomes so common that it makes its way into accepted use (= inclusion in dictionaries) (and sometimes even supplants the original meaning). Moreover, this must have happened some time ago, since the two dictionaries I checked were the 2001 Webster’s II New College Dictionary (Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company) and the 1976 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company). Both indicated that presently can have both meanings. (The opposite seems to happen in Russian, where the words for now or right now eventually ended up meaning something closer to in a little bit, and then when I get around to it.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Memory Monday: Sopping the Bowl

If you have a sweet tooth, desserts are a wonderful thing. I do have a sweet tooth, probably inherited from both sides of my family. In a recent article I wrote about my Grandma Moore’s fondness for sweets; she was my mother’s mother. My father also had an extreme case of sweet tooth. As a matter of fact, I learned early that I had to hide my Easter baskets from him.

But there are distinctions among desserts; some are … better than others. Not sweeter, but more intense. Cakes and cookies are good, but the flavor is more intense when they are in a gooier, more primitive form – cake batter and cookie dough. People have known this for quite a long time. This is why cookie dough is now a staple add-in at ice cream parlors. My college roommate and I kept a roll of cookie dough in our dorm room refrigerator for emergencies. Fluff and the better cake icings also fall into this category (not the super-sweet ones, however!). The nice thing about these “intense” desserts is that you only have to eat a little bit to experience the euphoria.

The moister the cake, the better it tends to taste. Carry this logic to its extreme and you come to cake batter. As a child, I never understood why people bothered to bake the batter. “Sopping the bowl” is one of my fondest childhood memories. Some people call this “licking the bowl.”

There are actually three parts to sopping or licking the bowl: sopping the bowl, licking the spoon, and licking the beaters. If you have three children who have to share, it is interesting to see who will choose which item to lick. Most will choose the bowl, thinking that it will have the most batter, and sometimes they are right (though judicious moms will leave a little extra on the spoon). For certain stiffer and stickier batters, however, I have found that the beaters are the best bet. I can roll my tongue, so I have always aced licking the beaters – nothing is left. My daughters have inherited this talent, and they also know the spoon is a good deal, so I usually get left with the bowl.

I have to pity my daughters a little bit, however. When I was a child, all baked desserts were fair game. Whenever I knew that my mother was baking something, I stuck to her like glue, waiting for “the payoff.” But as the years passed, some desserts became forbidden in their raw form. The culprit? Eggs. Although the risk of salmonella infection from raw eggs has been considerably reduced over the years, I’m not going to run that risk. The result is that some cake batters and cookie doughs are off limits to my daughters. One of the most pathetic duties I have had as a mother is saying “No” to them when they ask to lick the bowl.

The best solution has been to find desserts we love that are wonderful when cooked and safe to eat in raw form. There is one dessert that stands at the very pinnacle: Ho Ho Cake. It has three components and (for me) takes three days to make. And each component is safe to lick from the bowl. Heaven.

The original recipe was shared with my by a generous lady at our church. Her recipe calls for the cake part to be devil’s food cake (a mix will do) and the chocolate fudge icing had raw egg yolks(!). Only the fluffy white “ho ho” part could be sopped safely from the bowl, as it had no eggs. The first change I made to the recipe was to replace the egg yolks with cream. Then, figuring that anything worth doing is overdoing, I replaced the devil’s food cake part with a recipe for “Death by Chocolate” cake (a recipe shared by another wonderful cook I know; to make the Death by Chocolate cake, just cover the cake part of the following recipe with German chocolate icing). The whole cake can probably be made in one day, but each layer has to cool and set before the next layer can be applied. I usually make it during the week in the evenings; hence it takes three successive evenings. However, the work has always been worth it, since the cook often gets a good share of “the soppins.”

Below is a picture of the cake at a birthday party some years back, followed by the recipe.

Ho Ho Cake


1 box German Chocolate Cake mix (pudding in the mix)
1 bar Baker’s German Chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
8 oz. sour cream
1/3 C. oil
1 C. water
6 oz. chocolate chips

Mix cake mix, chocolate, sour cream, oil, and water together. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured pan (I use a 13x8 glass pan). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. (I leave it in the pan.) Cool completely.


5 Talespoons flour
1 8-oz. stick butter, softened
1/2 C. Crisco shortening
1-1/4 C. milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 C. granulated sugar

Cook flour and milk in pan until thick. Let cool. Place in mixer bowl with softened butter, vanilla, Crisco, and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Spread evenly over cooled cake to about 1/4 inch from edge of pan. Chill.


4-1/2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 sticks (12 ounces) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons light cream
1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt 1-1/2 sticks butter and chocolate. Let cool. Add vanilla and salt to it in mixer bowl. Heat cream slightly, add, and beat. Add powdered sugar gradually. Beat until smooth; don’t let it get lumpy. Spread evenly over filling.

Keep cake refrigerated.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Revisiting “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time”

For some time I have been intending to write a follow-up to a post I wrote last July, “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time,’” and then a couple of days ago I read FootnoteMaven’s witty post on the Carnival of Genealogy subject “Read My Obituary at the COG.” She points the finger at time-consumers Facebook and Twitter as the culprits – this could have been me! (Except for the Twitter part.)

I am happy to report that the time thing is working a bit better for me. I am now doing more genealogy and “enough” blogging. There is still a long way to go and I don’t always accomplish what I want to from day to day. Some days there are only a few look-ups or transcriptions, or I miss out on blogging prompts or carnivals (such as the blog obituary carnival – I even had a beginning paragraph, but still missed the deadline). If I have not made all the progress I had wished toward doing more genealogy, the distracting factors have primarily been work, family life, and “comatose days” – come home, eat, do a few chores, snooze in front of the TV.

What is different is that I am doing less social networking. There are various reasons for this, and I’m embarrassed to say that resolving to spend less time on social networking sites is not high on the list. The cutback actually happened sort of naturally.

- Facebook does not take up nearly as much of my time, mainly because my college daughter spends almost no time on it this year, and she was my main chat partner last year. This is not a 100% positive development, since I haven’t posted family pictures or document transcripts recently.

- I haven’t been on GenealogyWise for more than a month; that’s not all to the good, either, because it is still an avenue for getting in touch with other researchers and sharing knowledge.

For many genealogy researchers (including me), genealogy is an intensely social pursuit. Networking is a necessary, productive, and enjoyable part of genealogical research. If we cannot or do not interact with other people – connecting to relatives, experts, and other researchers to get the information we need by inquiring, learning, sharing, teaching, interviewing, and so forth – we seriously limit what we are able to achieve in our research. In addition, there is a need to share and publish what we have learned – to get feedback, advice, “attaboys,” or even commiseration. These things encourage and inspire us. Even some of the social genea-networking we do that doesn’t seem to produce direct results often fulfills this latter purpose and may keep us going when we get discouraged. For this reason, rather than making drastic cuts in social networking, it is probably better to reorder the networking we do if it is hindering instead of promoting our research.

For instance, I am trying to focus on a couple of mainstays in my blog, the Monday and Friday features: Monday Memories because recording our own memories is an essential part of genealogy that is often neglected, the featured families as a way to get in touch with other researchers, and family newsletters to keep interested family members current on my research. The Family Newsletters also keep me on track. Each week I have to report on what I have done, where I am, and what I need to do. Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has been marvelous in helping me to set my genealogy research goals and priorities. Some of the carnivals help me to highlight research that I’m eager to share. Reading other genealogy blogs educates me, amuses me (there are some great humorists among the genea-bloggers), gives me new ideas, and reinvigorates me when I’m starting to drag.

I have noticed that when the Fairfax Genealogical Society resumed meetings in the fall there was a big spike in my research output. The meetings were a big incentive to get busy on my brick walls, both in preparation for the brick wall workshops and just because hanging out with other genealogy people gets the juices going.

Right around the time when I wrote “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time,” several other blog posts appeared on the same subject; these thoughts had obviously stewing for a while with all of us. Some wiser heads noted that there seems to be a natural ebb and flow in our genealogy research, and that during the lulls we gather energy and inspiration to make a fresh and vigorous re-entry into genealogy. I believe they are right and am here to report that social networking has not killed my research.

Family Newsletter Thursday: 8 October 2009

Smith (Brinlee)

Another all-Smith week, but this was not boring work! The method of finding a family by looking at all “eligible” families with that surname over a large area (in this case, Tennessee) may sound tedious, but it’s actually fun.

Last night my husband and I were sitting in the family room, each with our laptop, when I suddenly yelled out, “Another family knocked off!” My husband stared at me in surprise. “I thought genealogy was a gentle pursuit?” “No one killed them,” I replied. “They’re not even out of my database, but they just went from Category 1 (good fit) to Category 4 (very unlikely).” A Google search for “John Morgan Smith” + Fritz (one of John’s sons) pulled up a Rootsweb message board post by a grandson of Fritz, who wrote that his “great-aunt Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Smith never married,” but had spent her life taking care of another family member. So she’s out. The fewer candidate families are left, the closer I feel I’m getting to finding “my” Lizzie Smith’s family.

I also sent out an inquiry to the person who set up the memorial to Lizzie on Findagrave to see if she could provide me with the source for the information that Lizzie was “born in Knoxville.”


(Forgot to mention this last week.) I started on the last batch of Moore obituaries. These were getting pretty far down in the weeds. This doesn’t exactly wrap up this project, but will definitely complete the first stage. I’m thinking that next I’ll start over with Samuel Moore (d. 1828, Greenville) and go down the lines again, noting and trying to fill in gaps, put inquiries out on the message boards, and check Ancestry, Family Search Record Search, etc., to see if new information pops up, and from there -- ? I’m not really sure what to do with it next. What form should I put this information in and what should be done with it?


To the person or persons who nominated me as one of the Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs – thank you so much! I am honored by the nomination and by the company that the nomination puts me among.

Featured Family Thursday: Hiram Brinlee and Susan Elizabeth Smith

Hiram Carroll “Dink” Brinlee Jr.
b. Sep 1844, Red River County, Texas
d. 20 Jan 1920, Collin County, Texas
& Susan Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith
b. 4 Apr 1868, Tennessee
d. 29 Jul 1958, Plano, Collin Co., Texas
m. 3 Dec 1891, White Bead Hill, Chickasaw Nation, OK
|--Lawrence Carroll Brinlee
|----b. 29 Jan 1893, String Town, Atoka, OK
|----d. 9 Apr 1953, Bonham, Fannin, TX
|--& Sallie Frances Norman
|----b. 5 Sep 1892, Talladega Co., AL
|----d. 8 Dec 1984, Ivanhoe, Fannin County, Texas
|----m. 6 May 1911, Greenville, Hunt Co., TX
|--Cordelia Lee “Cordie” Brinlee
|----b. 8 Jun 1895, Oklahoma
|----d. 23 May 1961, McKinney, Collin Co., Texas
|---& Kingsley Levington Clinton
|----b. 18 Feb 1894, Putnam Co., Tennessee
|----d. 2 Nov 1955, Anna, Collin, Texas
|----m. 1911
|--Austin Franklin Brinlee
|----b. 6 Apr 1904, Farmersville, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 17 Nov 1976, Allen, Collin County, Texas
|---& Mary Katherine Clinton
|----b. 3 Aug 1912, Fannin County, Texas
|----d. 25 Aug 1993, Allen, Collin County, Texas
|----m. 24 Jul 1928, Fannin County, Texas
|--Cecil Odell Brinlee
|----b. 23 Sep 1908, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 30 Oct 1994, Quitman, Wood, Texas
|---& Amy Lorene Kent
|----b. 12 Dec 1913, Arkansas
|----d. 11 Apr 2000, McKinney, Collin Co., Texas

This is the family of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr., and his second wife, my great-grandmother (and great brick wall) Susan Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith. Lizzie was also married previously, apparently to a man named Bonner. It is said that Lizzie and Mr. Bonner did not have any children, but Lizzie apparently had given birth to 7 children as of the 1910 census, of whom 4 were living. There is a space of 9 years between the births of Cordelia and Austin Brinlee, which would leave room for the three children who died, but it would also have been possible for Lizzie and Mr. Bonner to have had a child or two before he died.

Austin Franklin Brinlee’s wife Mary Catherine Clinton was the niece of Cordelia Brinlee’s husband, Kingsley Levington Clinton.

Here is the obituary of Lizzie Smith Brinlee, taken from the Plano Star Courier, July 31, 1958:

Mrs. H. C. Brinlee Dies at Plano Home Tuesday

Mrs. Susan E. Brinlee, aged 98, died at the family home in Plano Tuesday afternoon after a month’s illness.

One of Plano’s esteemed pioneer citizens, she was born April 4, 1860, in Tennessee, but had spent most of her life in Collin Co. She was a member of the Methodist Church.

Prior to her death, there were five generations of her family living. Her husband, H.C. Brinlee, and one son preceded her in passing.

Surviving her is a daughter, Mrs. K. L. Clinton of Anna; two sons, C.O. Brinlee of Plano and A.F. Brinlee, Lubbock; 26 grandchildren and several great grandchildren.

Funeral services were to be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Plano, conducted by the pastor, Rev. A.J. Fineout, burial following in Restland with the Turrentine-Jackson Funeral Home of McKinney in charge of arrangements.

To all those upon bereavement has fallen we extend our heartfelt sympathy in their great loss.”

I believe the year of birth given here is about eight years early.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can use the “Contact” button on the left side of this blog to get in touch with me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The Moore Girls

From left to right: Eula Amanda Floyd Moore, Ina Angelina Moore, Clarice Augusta Moore, Grace Madeline Moore, Lora Irene Moore, Lillian Mozelle Moore, Mattie Joy Campbell Moore with Joan Moore

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grandma Moore, Banana Pudding, and the Telephone: An Evening of Terror

Grandma with Uncle Neil

Randy Seaver’s genea-fun for this weekend is the following:

1. What is one of your most vivid childhood memories? Was it family, friends, places, events, or just plain fun?

2) Tell us about it in a comment to this post, a Comment or Note on Facebook, or in a blog post of your own.

One evening when I was about four years old, my parents went out to see a show with my Uncle Neil and Aunt Ina. They left me with my mother’s mother, Grandma Moore, to babysit me for the evening. I think we had had a big dinner that was finished off with banana pudding. I remember that evening well, because it was filled with terror.

Grandma Moore had a real sweet tooth, and for the sake of her health (she may have had geriatric diabetes), her children strictly rationed the sweets she could eat. She was somewhere around her mid-70s at this time and could still get around fairly well and cook for herself, but if her kids found out that she had baked any desserts, they would tell her, “Now Mama, you know you can’t eat all of that; now let’s just put the rest of it up.”

And that’s what happened with the banana pudding. We finished up our meal and the leftovers went into the refrigerator. Off went my parents and aunt and uncle, and Grandma and I sat down to watch TV. Or at least I did. As I sat hypnotized by the TV program, Grandma must have sneaked off to eat more of the pudding. I didn’t notice anything wrong for quite a while, but at some point I heard my grandmother moaning. This was scary. Then Grandma called out to me, “Call the doctor.” I sat there, frozen. “Call the doctor; the number is by the phone.” I got up, walked over to the phone, and stared at it. The number was right there. I was four years old, but I knew my numbers. I did not, however, have much of an idea of how to use a telephone. I don’t know if I was more frightened by what might happen to my grandmother or by the prospect of being punished for not doing what she told me to do. I couldn’t say anything or move from the spot where I stood. Each time she moaned or told me to call the doctor, my fear jumped up a couple of notches.

Finally my parents and Neil and Ina returned. They realized right away that something was wrong and must have called the doctor (I was so numb with fright that I don’t remember much of what happened at this point). No one yelled at me.

I have never been much of a telephone conversationalist. When calling friends or acquaintances, I am always certain that I am calling at an inconvenient time, and always try to time my calls perfectly so that they do not interfere with meals or other relaxation time. Even calls to make appointments are something I tend to put off. It’s not that I don’t enjoy speaking to people over the phone once the conversation gets under way, and I have even been involved in the so-called “Texas telephone call.” That’s when you get a wrong number, but you both realize that the other person is from Texas, and two hours later, after exchanging names, family information, and life histories, you finally hang up. Well, okay, it was not a wrong number, but rather (and this is actually genealogy-related) a telephone conversation with a person in Texas who has a distant connection to me by marriage (he is descended from the wife of a great-uncle by a different husband).

This aversion to the telephone was worse when I was young and shy, but now that I am older and pretty impervious to intimidation, I think it’s just not a habit that I ever developed. And it just may have something to do what that long-ago Evening of Terror.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: Brick Wall Week!

This has been a TBWW – that’s Totally Brick Wall Week – for me. The Fairfax Genealogical Society held a Brick Wall Workshop last Saturday morning, and my great-grandmother Susan Elizabeth Smith Bonner Brinlee was one of the cases considered by the panel of four experienced genealogists. Then on Thursday the bimonthly meeting of the New England Genealogy Special Interest Group of the Fairfax Genealogical Society was also devoted to brick walls.


The first piece of advice on finding Lizzie Smith came as a real surprise to me. The panel asked: What is she doing in Indian Territory in 1891? And especially with a name like Smith? > Check the Dawes and Guion Miller rolls. As it happens, that was one of the first places I checked when I started trying to find information on the Brinlees and learned about Lizzie Smith. I did not find anything at that time and concluded that the family story that she was part Native American might be a myth or a misunderstanding. The fact that it was the first thing that occurred to the panel (even though the Native American connection was not mentioned in my brick wall form) led me to believe that perhaps I had been hasty. In my original search I did not really do a thorough search or try to find out exactly how these rolls were compiled and what other information might be associated with them, so I should go back and check again.

The second suggestion was to do something that I have actually already started and have described here (but I hadn’t done it at the time I submitted the brick wall form): start checking out Smith families in Tennessee that might be Lizzie’s family and gradually narrow down the field of candidates.

These and other pieces of advice were not the only benefits of the workshop, however. Listening to the advice given on the other submissions was very instructive, and I took tons of notes. The regular programming offered by the Society is very educational, but these workshops are even more intense and specific.


I did not submit my New England brick wall, George Floyd, since I cannot say that I have done enough research on him to declare him a brick wall, yet, but since I know so little about New England research I decided to attend this session of the New England Special Interest Group (SIG). The leader of the Special Interest Group knows tons about this subject and was able to suggest all sorts of places to look on the cases that were presented for consideration. Again, I took a lot of notes that I can use as I try to push the Floyds another generation back. SIG members presented their own brick walls, and some of the stories were quite intriguing. There was a lot of speculation in particular about a young woman of 28 who married a 65-year-old man who had abandoned a previous family.

Featured Family Friday: Hiram Brinlee and Diza Carolina Boone

Hiram Carroll “Dink” Brinlee Jr.
b. Sep 1844, Red River County, Texas
d. 20 Jan 1920, Collin County, Texas
& Eliza Caroline “Diza/Disey” “Linie” Boone
b. 2 Jan 1845, Kansas Twp., Jackson Co., MO
d. 19 Dec 1885, Anna, Collin, Texas
m. 16 Apr 1863
|--James Edward Brinlee*
|----b. 3 Apr 1864, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 11 Feb 1908, Pauls Valley, OK
|---& Mary Ann Sims
|----b. 19 Aug 1863
|----d. aft 11 Mar 1900
|----m. 21 Oct 1884, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
|--James Edward Brinlee*
|----b. 3 Apr 1864, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 11 Feb 1908, Pauls Valley, OK
|---& Ida Rosalee Brock
|----b. 2 Jul 1871, Georgia
|----d. 27 Dec 1940, Aubrey, Denton, Texas
|----m. 26 Aug 1901
|--Elizabeth Anne “Doll” Brinlee*
|----b. 9 Jul 1866, Bates County, Missouri
|----d. 20 Sep 1950, Dallas, Dallas County, TX
|---& Leander Scott
|--Elizabeth Anne “Doll” Brinlee*
|----b. 9 Jul 1866, Bates County, Missouri
|----d. 20 Sep 1950, Dallas, Dallas County, TX
|---& Harvey “Harve” Mulder
|----b. Feb 1852, Alabama
|----d. 19 Nov 1934
|----m. 25 Dec 1887
|--Laura Lee Brinlee
|----b. 17 Jan 1871, Missouri
|----d. 10 Dec 1937, Anna, Collin County, Texas
|---& James Larkin “Jim” Arrington
|----b. 27 Feb 1866, Collin Co., Texas
|----d. 17 Sep 1962, Collin County, Texas
|----m. 1890
|--William Leon “Hoss” Brinlee
|----b. 27 Oct 1873, Blue Ridge, Collin Co., Texas
|----d. 5 Jan 1952, Collin County, Texas
|---& Myrtie Short Wison
|----b. 23 Sep 1879, Texas
|----d. 27 Apr 1961, Wolfe City, Hunt, Texas
|----m. 10 Jun 1897
|--John Ewing Brinlee
|----b. 18 Dec 1875
|---& Dovie Edna McDonald
|----b. 27 Feb 1881
|----d. 15 Sep 1970, Temple, Cotton, Oklahoma
|----m. 24 Sep 1905
|--Ambert Hatler Brinlee*
|----b. 17 Apr 1878, Bowie Co., Texas
|----d. 19 May 1964, Anna, Collin County, Texas
|---& Susie Howard
|----m. 1898
|--Ambert Hatler Brinlee*
|----b. 17 Apr 1878, Bowie Co., Texas
|----d. 19 May 1964, Anna, Collin County, Texas
|---& Rosa Ella Roper
|----b. 22 Aug 1878, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 25 Mar 1946, Anna, Collin County, Texas
|----m. 4 Jan 1906
|--Ambert Hatler Brinlee*
|----b. 17 Apr 1878, Bowie Co., Texas
|----d. 19 May 1964, Anna, Collin County, Texas
|---& Lydia Ellen Stroud
|----b. 1895
|----d. 27 Jan 1989, Grayson Co., TX
|----m. 4 Aug 1954
|--Louis Boone Brinlee
|----b. 13 Oct 1882, Collin County, Texas
|----d. 27 Jul 1957, Madera, California
|---& Mary Jane “Mollie” Bennett
|----b. 26 Jun 1884, Odessa, Texas
|----d. 8 Apr 1952, Madera, California
|----m. 17 Apr 1906
|--Geneva Helen “Sis” Brinlee
|----b. 19 Jan 1884, Van Alstyne, Grayson Co., TX
|----d. 20 Oct 1957, Fannin County, Texas
|---& James Thomas Wicker
|----b. 9 Aug 1877, Tennessee
|----d. 15 Mar 1962, Terrell, Kaufman, Texas
|----m. 27 Oct 1906, Collin Co., Texas

This is the family of my great-grandfather (my father’s father’s father), Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr., and his first wife, Diza Carolina Boone. Hiram was the son of Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Sr., and Elizabeth Ann “Betsey” McKinney, a niece of Collin McKinney. Diza was the daughter of Alonzo Havington Boone, the granddaughter of Daniel Morgan Boone, and the great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone. On the 1870 census Hiram and Diza are shown in Bates County, Missouri, and on the 1880 census they are back in Collin County, Texas.

Missing information: I would like to find more information on “Doll” Brinlee’s first husband, Leander Scott, and Ambert Brinlee’s first wife, Susie Howard.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can use the “Contact” button on the left side of this blog to get in touch with me.