Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bandit’s A Blogger’s Best Friend Award

My warmest thanks to the much-respected Genea-Bloggers listed below for presenting me with Bandit’s A Blogger’s Best Friend Award. I love following their blogs and find their writing so interesting and intriguing that I couldn’t NOT comment:

Karen at Ancestor Soup
Lori at Genealogy and Me
Carol at Reflections from the Fence
Nancy at My Ancestors and Me

Since these four ladies are also loyal followers and commenters on my blog, they would definitely be on the list of awardees from me, but since I have been out of town, I have had to postpone my participation until now.

The terms of the award include passing it on to two of our most loyal followers, so I’ll take the liberty of including two bloggers per award:

Linda at Flipside
Amy at They That Go Down to the Sea
Apple at Apple’s Tree
Judith Richards Shubert of Genealogy Traces and Tennessee Memories
Leah at Random Notes
hummer at Branching Out Through the Years
Tipper at Blind Pig and the Acorn
Amanda the Librarian at ABT UNK
Joan at Roots ‘n Leaves

Oops, that’s nine. Oh well, I can’t count. And I can’t omit any of them, as they and the four ladies at the top all write blogs that entertain and educate me. Oh, heck, I might as well admit it – I am always reading things on their blogs that I wish that I had written.

Awardees, you may acknowledge and/or pass on the award as you wish. I’d just like to say “Thank you” to all of you for visiting my blog and for providing such rich food for thought on your blogs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Other Interests

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has issued this challenge: Tell us about your "other" hobbies or interests outside of genealogy and family history research, writing, speaking, etc.

Other than time with my family, my “non-genealogy” interests are:

1. Language. It’s my profession and still accounts for a lot of my spare time, too. Mostly Eastern European languages.

2. Music. I am not a musician of any kind, although I played the oboe in my high school band and took violin lessons for a short time when I was younger. However, I have to have music of some kind to listen to. My family and I attend musical events when we can and I love iTunes and my iPod. A lot of what I listen to is “classical” music or “ethnic” music (includes bluegrass, Cajun, Scandinavian, Breton, Cape Breton, Acadian, Eastern European, Galician, other Celtic).

3. Gardening and enjoying nature. Some people are drawn to the sea. I am drawn to the dirt. I love to try new things, be creative, and take care of “my little plot of land.” This includes the animal visitors, even the pests. I also like to take walks around my neighborhood or in the places we visit, whether city or country.

4. Reading and snooping around in bookstores.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Follow Friday: Two Very Helpful Posts from Today

I learn something from blogs almost every day.

Tonight, right after I had posted my Family and Friends Newsletter Friday, I read Sheri Fenley’s The Educated Genealogist and was directed to a wonderful series of videos featuring interviews with Helen Leary on the National Genealogical Society’s website (Helen Leary Videos – She Had Me At “Genealogy Is Fun”). I watched them all, and they were wonderful.

Then, on Brenda Joyce Jerome’s Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog, I found an interesting post: With Answers Come Questions – John L. Tolley. It mentioned Chronicling America on the website of the Library of Congress. I was aware of this project from a visit to the Library of Congress that was arranged by the Fairfax Genealogy Society around this time last year. However, I hadn’t checked the site recently, so I went to take a look.

I knew that the last time I had checked there hadn’t been any Dallas newspapers, and there weren’t any this time, either. However, there are images of issues of the Fort Worth Daily Gazette. I figured I could at least do searches for articles on my great-great uncle, William Henry Lewis, who had been Sheriff of Dallas County from 1886 to 1992. Sure enough, a number of articles popped up using different search combinations. Of particular interest to me was the following (this will be an early Transcription Tuesday post):

From the Forth Worth Daily Gazette, Fort Worth, Texas, December 21, 1888, page 3, image 3 (under Local Notes and Personal):

“Sheriff Henry Lewis left last night to spend Christmas with his parents in North Carolina, after an absence of 15 years.”

Well, the North Carolina part is incorrect; the state in question was South Carolina. However, this helps to confirm the year 1873 as the year Henry came to Texas from South Carolina (my other source for this is a tribute written by the husband of one of the children Henry and his wife Julia Mister Lewis helped to raise). It also gives me a time frame for eventually searching the local South Carolina newspapers for news of his visit. I also know that Henry’s father Elisha Berry Lewis died early the next year, on 23 February 1889, so I am glad to see that Henry was able to visit his father one last time.

So, I would like to express my gratitude to Sheri and Brenda – thanks to you ladies, I have had an interesting, educational, and productive evening!

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 22 January 2010


Helpful Census-Takers

As I was examining the census entry in 1900 Garland Co. Arkansas for Mitchell and Susan (Norman) Blackburn, I saw that the census-taker helpfully added “Sec.” (second) to “wife” for Susan. Thanks, Joseph E. Flemester!


This week I have been working on the family of JMC Norman’s oldest child with Mary Patterson – Susan “Sudie” Norman, who married William A. Cannon and then Mitchell Blackburn.

There is turning out to be quite a bit of information, clues, etc. on the various branches of this family; in addition to the Cline history there are many different family trees on Ancestry, lots of these people were buried in Peak Cemetery, and many of the branches appear in the book Garland County, Arkansas: Our History and Heritage.

It is beginning to get confusing, however. There was a lot of intermarriage.

Sudie and Lige Norman were siblings. Sudie’s grandson Elmer Milholen married Lige’s daughter Olive Nancy Norman (first cousins once removed).

Callie and Simon Tallent were brother and sister. Callie married Jessie “Judge Spivey” Norman and Simon married Josie, daughter of Jessie’s half-sister Sudie.


The question is asked by Gena Philiberta Ortega of Gena’s Genealogy: Does Your Genealogy Have a Mountweazel?

I don’t think so. I don’t import or copy gedcoms (may use them as tips, though) and try to cite sources as I enter information into my genealogy program (my citations may not be pretty, but they’re there). But, you know, maybe I’ll add a Mountweazel in there….

Music Recommendation of the Week

CD: Telemann: The Baroque Gypsies, by Ensemble Caprice, directed by Matthias Maute. Telemann was generally faithful to the original Gypsy tunes, and the performance by Ensemble Caprice captures the Gypsy zest and inventiveness. The Youtube clip above features parts of two songs from the CD. Some of the tunes were easily recognizable from recordings I have of performances by Gypsies of the present day.

The liner notes include the following excerpt from Telemann’s own words describing his reaction to Gypsy music:

“One can hardly believe what wonderful imaginative ideas these pipers and fiddlers have as they improvise. In only a week, a composer could be inspired for an entire lifetime. I have written several major concertos in this style.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ode to My Family’s History: Through the Lens of Gilbert and Sullivan

Jasia of Creative Gene has issued one of the most intriguing and difficult challenges of any Carnival of Genealogy for the 89th COG: The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: Ode to My Family's History! This time around we'll be composing a poem that tells our family's history. It can be long or short, rhyme or not rhyme, funny or serious, illustrated or not... you choose, but make it appropriate as an introduction for a book or video on your family history.

My choice of form for my “ode” to my family’s history was dictated by two incontestable truths:

1. I cannot write poetry. It always turns into drivel and doggerel. However, the irresistible songs of Gilbert and Sullivan are an inspiring model, and thinking of the words as lyrics rather than poetry makes the words flow much more easily.

2. I do want to leave our family history to my children, but so far they have resisted becoming the least bit interested in it, so how can I pique their interest? Since I want to put the history in video form, what kind of videos would be sure to capture their interest (and my husband’s interest as well)? What kind of videos have we all watched and enjoyed together since the children were little and do we still enjoy watching together? Gilbert and Sullivan, of course. And there is that tiny little fact that a huge role in the plot lines of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas is played by genealogy and family lines.

Imagine that what follows is a short “act” or introductory scene for a very minor Gilbert and Sullivan operetta entitled “The (Not So) Humble Researcher.” The casts consists of the Humble Researcher (HR), Chorus of Ancestors (COA), and the Faithful Guide (FG).

I apologize to the following:

- To W.S. and Sir Arthur, for mauling their music and mangling their lyrics.

- To Jasia, for stretching the concept of this Carnival of Genealogy ‘til it screamed.

- To all my ancestors for casting aspersions on them.

- To you, my readers, for foisting this on you.

On with the show!

1. I Am the Queen of Ancestry (to the tune of “I Am the Monarch of the Sea”)

(By HR, backed up by COA)

I am the queen of An-ces-try
The explorer of the fam’ly tree
Who looks up wills and schedules and grants.

And we are her uncles and her cousins and her aunts!
And we are her uncles and her cousins and her aunts!

Whenever I find a line
I must make sure it’s mine
So I cite my sources and do the happy dance!

And we are her uncles and her cousins and her aunts!
And we are her uncles and her cousins and her aunts!

When an ancestor wants to hide,
I will not be denied
I examine all the angles, leaving nothing to chance!

And we are her uncles and her cousins and her aunts!
And we are her uncles and her cousins – she finds us by the dozens – all the wives, in-laws, and husbands – and her aunts!

2. We Are the Forbears of a Very Stubborn Family Seeker (to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General”)

(By COA, with slow solo by FG)

We are the forebears of a very stubborn family seeker
Who won’t stop even when the scent is faint and getting weaker,
Our names are legion: Moore and Floyd and Brinlee, Dodd and McElroy
Norman, Matlock, Poore and Boyd and Finley, Todd and Pomeroy!

We’ve hidden in the census and we’ve dodged behind a muster roll
Found refuge in taxation lists and such assorted folderol,
But when we really want to hide, we choose to do it in plain sight
Just making sure our names are never EVER fully spelled quite right!

Just making sure our names are never EVER fully spelled quite right!
Just making sure our names are never EVER fully spelled quite right!
Just making sure our names are never EVER EVER EVER fully spelled quite right!

In fact when she knows what is meant by chart of consanguinity
When she can differentiate between close kinship and affinity
When she can calculate the probability of paternity
You’ll say her research will endure intact for all eternity.

You’ll say her research will endure intact for all eternity.
You’ll say her research will endure intact for all eternity.
You’ll say her research will endure intact for all eterni-terni-ternity.

(As fast as possible)
For all her family knowledge, though she’s plucky and adventurey
Has only gone as far back as the tenth or eleventh century,
But still in matters historical, heraldic, and nonsensical
You’ll say that she’s an expert who’s completely common-sensical.

3. With Eyes Sore and Red (to the tune of “With Catlike Tread”)


With eyes sore and red, we climb the family tree,
No sleep at all, we’re staying up ‘til three.
Don’t stop the search, you’ll never find that heir
You’ll end up without a prayer!

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here:
GenWeb, Footnote, NARA,
Cyndi’s, D-A-R – yeah!

Let’s do demography -
And a proper bibliography!

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here:
Hiram, Ebenezer,
Hopestill, Jane, Louisa.

Let’s find that plat book:
At metes and bounds let’s take a look!

Here’s your white gloves and your flashlight!
Here’s your Shown Mills – you may want to cite!

Take this census form, show due diligence.
Check the Guion Miller Roll, and maybe find the 'rents!

4. If Someday It May Happen (to the tune of “If Someday It May Happen” aka “I’ve Got a Little List”)


If someday it may happen that a culprit must be found
I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list
Of genealogy’s offenders whose research is never sound
Who never would be missed, who never would be missed.

There’s Jaded Gedcom Grabbers who’ve never done a search
And when you ask them for their sources, leave you in the lurch,
Or the gent who must invent his lineage – purely fabrications
He’s never checked a date of birth or counted generations.
But when you tell him, “Do the math!” or “Cease, cur, and desist!”
He’ll flip you off and huff and puff
And end up on the list, he’ll end up on the list.

And Random Searchers, Crass Collectors, even cousins twice removed
Without whose constant importuning life would be much improved!
Who must regale you with the numbers of their ahnentafel lists.
They’d none of them be missed, nor their bloody awful lists.

And even our own ancestors are not above reproach;
They might be on the list, just might be on the list.
Murderers, swindlers, gamblers, gangsters, some who like to poach -
They’ll anyway be missed, we know they would be missed.

There’s Hiram Brinlee, tried for murder, who relied on gun and fist
He’s on the Wanted List – oh, yes, the Wanted List!
For dubious land speculation take Charles Augustus Floyd.
Delinquent taxes everywhere – I really am annoyed!
Oh, yes, he’s on the list, the tax delinquents’ list!

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Billy Jack Brinlee, 1934-2010

The last of my parents’ siblings – Billy Jack Brinlee, my father’s youngest brother – has died.

It had been many years since Uncle Bill and I had seen one another, but over the past couple of years we spoke to one another on the phone a number of times. We talked about family history, about his own career in the Navy and later in construction, about our families now, about our common love for our cats (Uncle Bill and his wife Cheryl had around 10), and about anything else that came to mind. The notes I have from these conversations will add a lot to our family history.

My younger daughter interviewed Uncle Bill for a school history project and we taped the interview; we are so glad now that we did. Uncle Bill’s experiences in the Navy provided rich material for my daughter’s report. He witnessed quite a few atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and remembered early (1961) actions in Vietnam, and he visited a number of places around the Pacific.

Uncle Bill was always one of my favorite relatives; he was funny and although he joked and teased a lot, he was never unkind. I think meanness of any kind was totally alien to his character.

He was the one who would run after me and “catch” me when I “ran away from home” at the age of two.

He was the one who dunked me into the fast-flowing waters of the Colorado River, causing me to laugh helplessly as I reveled in the daring and frightening experience.

He was the one who brought kimonos to my mother and me from Okinawa. He also brought me a grass skirt from Hawaii, and never laughed at my five-year-old posturings as a “princess” when I wore the kimono, grass skirt, and a cut-out paper crown.

He was the daredevil. He was the one who took me for a ride on his motorcycle. He broke his leg riding it twice. He once got a ticket for going 71 miles per hour while standing on the seat on the Hollywood Freeway. A policeman on a motorcycle pulled him over and told him: “We don’t have Marlon Brandos out here!” Bill also recalled driving to Las Vegas in our Edsel at 110 miles per hour.

He was the one whose grin and laugh were irresistible, contagious, and guaranteed to start a giggling fit (in his adoring niece, at least).

Billy Jack Brinlee was born on 16 May 1934 in Ivanhoe, Fannin County, Texas. He was the son of Lawrence Carroll Brinlee and Sallie Frances Norman. Like my father, he left home at a young age (16 years old) to find work. He served in the Navy on the USS Belle Grove in the late 1950s and early 1960s and then returned to in the construction industry; he retired early, at age 55, due to emphysema. He lived at various times in Texas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Arizona.

In 1963 he married Pauline Brice Coleman. He always referred to her children as his children and her grandchildren as his grandchildren, never as stepchildren and step-grandchildren. He was very proud of them and loved to tell about them. Pauline died in 1993; Bill later met and married his second wife, Cheryl. They lived in Bullhead City, Arizona for a while and spent part of the year on the old Brinlee family farm in Ivanhoe, Texas; a few years ago they sold the Arizona house and moved to Ivanhoe to live full time. There they enjoyed raising vegetables and pampering their large crew of cats.

He died on January 10, 2010 at his home in Ivanhoe, Texas.

It is difficult to do justice in writing to Uncle Bill’s humor and generous personality; the few pictures I have of him, shown above, may convey his personality better through his twinkling eyes and easy smile.

I hope to be able to post some excerpts from the transcripts of my telephone conversations with Uncle Bill in the coming weeks. Here is his obituary:

Billy Jack Brinlee
From North Texas e-News
Jan 12, 2010

“Ivanhoe, Texas -- Graveside services for Billy Jack Brinlee, age 75, of Ivanhoe, will be held at 2:00 P.M. Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at Bettes Cemetery under the direction of Wise Funeral Home. Bro. Mark Owens will officiate. Billy Jack passed away Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010 at his residence.

“Billy Jack was born on May 16, 1934 in Ivanhoe, the son of Lawrence Brinlee and Sallie Frances Norman Brinlee. He attended North Fannin Schools and was a U.S. Navy Veteran. He attended Elwood Baptist Church and married Cheryl Bourland on July 1st, 2006. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Leroy, Lewis Wayne, R. Jean “Windy” and GT Brinlee.

“He is survived by:

Wife: Cheryl Brinlee of Ivanhoe
Step sons: Billy, Charlie and Raymond Coleman
Step daughters: Linda Gallher, Dolly Coleman, Terri Richards and Christi Slay
Numerous step grandchildren and step great grandchildren

The family will receive friends at Wise Funeral Home on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 from 12:30-1:30 PM prior to service time.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Assess Yourself (Challenge #3)

Thanks to Amy of We Tree for the “52 weeks” ideas and Thomas Macentee of GeneaBloggers for providing reminders.

Week 3: Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.

The only reason I even dare to participate in challenge is that thanks to starting the Memory Monday series last January, I have actually been writing down memories on a fairly regular basis. I’d give myself maybe a B+ for this part (missed a few Mondays).

The documenting part is where things fall apart a bit. All right, a lot. I have quite a few documents lying around in various parts of the house, and that is the entire problem. They are mostly stored away in different file folders and boxes which are located in too many different places and have not been organized in a logical fashion. I would give myself a D for this part.

Here is what I need to do.

1. I am tempted to say that the first thing I need to do is to clean and organize every last square inch of our house from attic to basement. In order to put all the documents, pictures, etc. into one common area in an organized way, I need to have that common area. And it is just not there. I am a bit of a packrat, and my husband and younger daughter could teach a packrat a thing or ten about accumulating stuff. (Older daughter mostly goes to the other extreme – she is very ready to throw things out, even things that I think deserve to stay for sentimental reasons. As the family historian, I actually need to encourage her to go the other way just a little bit.)

Two or three times previously, between my daughters’ toddler and teen years, I did this very thing – clean and throw out stuff from top to bottom. But I just don’t have that “cleaning frenzy” thing in me anymore. It has to be done gradually. And I intend to limit the area for storage of the relevant materials to my home office.

So this gargantuan effort is going to take the form of slowly but surely removing from my home office most of the items that are not personal records and pictures or books and documents related to genealogy and family history. (“Supporting” equipment and items (computer, office supplies, etc.) and language reference materials can stay.) As things go out of the office, the personal and family history documents will be brought into the office from other parts of the house. This will be done shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer.

2. The next part is the timeline. Some can be done from memory, and for the rest I’ll need to use family records and mementos (letters, transcripts, etc.) and some online research (to recall the names of four of the five junior high schools I attended, for instance).

3. Oh, yes, and then there are pictures: printing, sorting, entering into proper storage receptacles, either albums or boxes, and labeling. I can’t even go there, yet.

Ouch. That’s a lot. I should clear my head a bit before I even start to get organized. Time to take a nap.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 15 January 2010


- Nancy at My Ancestors and Me recommended the short story “Little Selves” by Mary Lerner – interesting reading, especially for anyone who writes down their memories and has to try to call up those memories and remember how they thought and perceived things at the time.


Two more Henry Lewis articles transcribed.



This was a big week for Norman research. First, my copy of Garland County Arkansas: Our History and Heritage arrived. It contains an article on my great-great grandfather, Joseph Madison Carroll Norman as well as a few articles on associated families.

Second, I actually managed to finish up basic research on the family of Thomas Frank Norman (the brother, not the son, of my great-grandfather William Henry “Jack” Norman), and this winds up the children of JMC Norman and Rebecca Monk. Next come the children of JMC Norman and Mary Patterson, his second wife. Over the past couple of years my Norman research on JMC’s descendants has continually been hijacked when I get sidetracked by other families. Now this research has been sidetracked a bit by JMC’s own ancestors.

I had seen online genealogies connecting JMC’s father Thomas Norman to a line that goes back to an Isaac Norman of Culpepper, Virginia, but I didn’t know how reliable they were. However, a couple of things have now reversed this thinking. Some random Ancestry and Google searches (just to make sure I had covered all bases) on Joseph MC Norman and JMC Norman turned up an earlier JMC Norman: on the 1830 census for Perry Co., Alabama (my JMC was born in 1833), on an early tax record (indicating that he was a fish dealer; there is another Norman somewhere who was both a fish dealer and a farmer), and in a marriage record with Zella Rogers. Then the article in the Garland County book also gave JMC’s father’s middle name as Stapler – that is one of the families I have seen connected to this family in the extended genealogies. Some digging around produced online transcriptions of the wills of these people, and JMC (the older one) is mentioned in them. With everything put together, this line appears to be legitimate (of course I’ll have to track down the actual documents and verify it). The earlier JMC is the father of my JMC’s father Thomas. Since I already refer to the later JMC as JMC Sr., I am now referring to his grandfather as JMC Sr. Sr. On the Zella Rogers above, I believe she was the second wife of JMC Sr. Sr.; his first wife was Elizabeth Stapler – the histories say she died by 1823, and I think that the marriage record with Zella Rogers would push that date back to before 1815.


Through Genealogy Wise I have been contacted by a descendant of Margaret Leake Brinlee, the oldest sister of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr.

Featured Family Friday: Jessie Daniel Sisson and Jennie Reece Denison

Jessie Daniel Sisson
b. 10 Sep 1869, Alabama
d. 12 Aug 1952, Wichita Falls, Wichita, Texas
& Jennie Reece Denison
b. 1 Sep 1881, Tennessee
d. 28 Jan 1921, Floydada, Floyd Co., Texas
m. 15 Apr 1896, Leonard, Fannin Co., Texas
|--Oral Tompson “Bill” Sisson
|----b. 19 Aug 1899, Texas
|----d. 4 Dec 1973, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|---& Virginia Lucille Barbee
|----b. 18 Aug 1912, Henderson Co., TX
|----d. 5 Sep 2001, Falls Church City, Virginia
|----m. 8 Jun 1930, Clovis, New Mexico
|--George Roy Sisson
|----b. 22 Nov 1902, Fannin Co., Texas
|----d. 3 Mar 1935, Floydada, Floyd Co., Texas
|---& Bessie Shockley
|--Lois Hassie Sisson
|----b. 17 Mar 1904, Fannin Co., Texas
|----d. 29 Nov 1980, Denver, CO
|---& Clyde Lester Falls
|----b. 25 Aug 1902, Stevenville, Texas
|----d. 13 Nov 1983, Denver, CO
|----m. 22 Sep 1923, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|--Cleavie Ella Sisson
|----b. 17 Sep 1906, Texas
|----d. 14 May 1981, Wilbarger, Texas
|---& Edmond Farrington Handley
|----b. 25 Sep 1908, Childress, Texas
|----d. 16 Mar 1991, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|----m. 2 Apr 1928, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|--Valley P. Sisson
|----b. 19 Jun 1908, Texas
|----d. 20 Jan 1999, Portales, Roosevelt, New Mexico
|---& Bonnie Houston Shultz
|----b. 23 Mar 1906, Myra, Cook, Texas
|----d. 10 May 1980, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|----m. 4 Dec 1926, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|--Laudie Olean Sisson
|----b. 29 Jul 1910, Texas
|----d. 17 Jan 1984, Potter Co., TX
|---& James Charles King
|----b. 31 Mar 1909, Gasoline, Briscoe Co., Texas
|----d. 1 Jan 1994, Amarillo, Potter, Texas
|----m. 19 Aug 1928, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|--Jessie L. Sisson
|----b. 15 Apr 1912, Texas
|----d. 24 Jan 1942
|--Goldie V. Sisson*
|----b. 15 Jan 1915, Texas
|----d. 30 Oct 1970, Plainview, Hale, Texas
|---& William Hatley Jackson
|----b. 19 Apr 1912, Temple, Oklahoma
|----d. 1 Feb 1962, Lubbock Co., Texas
|----m. 2 Feb 1936, Floydada, Floyd, Texas
|--Goldie V. Sisson*
|----b. 15 Jan 1915, Texas
|----d. 30 Oct 1970, Plainview, Hale, Texas
|---& Jessie Hayward Pace
|----b. 16 Feb 1968, Glasscock, Texas
|--Bob Hasty Sisson
|----b. 1916, Texas
|--Jennie Mae Sisson
|----b. 25 Feb 1918, Floyd Co., Texas
|----d. 2 Jan 1993, Bakersfield, Kern, California
|---& Roy William Dorety
|----b. Dec 1918
|----d. 6 Dec 1976, Bakersfield, Kern, California
|----m. 12 Jan 1942, Yuma, Arizona

This is the family of my great-grandmother Sarah Jane Sisson’s half-brother, Jessie Daniel Sisson, and Jennie Reece Dennison. Jennie’s parents were Archie William Denison and Comfort L. Kelley. Her sister was Nolie King Denison, who married Thomas Franklin Norman, Sarah Jane Sisson’s and William Henry “Jack” Norman’s son (that is, sisters married an uncle and nephew). Jessie and Jennie Sisson, like Sarah and Jack Norman, moved from Alabama to Texas, whereas most of the other Sisson siblings remained in Alabama.

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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: The Exciting Streets of Dallas, Texas in the 1890s

The following articles report on a couple of incidents in the streets of Dallas in 1892 and 1893 in which my great-great-uncle William Henry Lewis was involved. One centered around a run-away buggy in which he was riding and the other around the pursuit of a criminal in which he took part. Our modern-day equivalent of the second incident, which also involved an exchange of gunfire, would be the police car chase. It’s fascinating to consider that my not-so-distant ancestors (Henry Lewis did not die until 1946) lived during times when there were still horse chases and shootouts in the streets.

From the Dallas Morning News, 7 March 1893:

“Thrown From a Buggy

While County Treasurer Coe and ex-Sheriff Lewis were buggy-riding yesterday near the new cemetery, south of the city, their team took fright and ran away. Mr. Coe was thrown from the buggy and found in an unconscious state. He soon, however, recovered from the shock and was last night reported to be doing well.”

From the Dallas Morning News, 4 October 1892:



The Sad Plight of an Ellis County Farmer Who Became a Self-Constituted Deputy.

“Yesterday was horse traders’ day on the public square. The first Monday in every month is the legal day for disposing of strayed animals at public outcry, but by far the largest business is transacted by horse traders, who congregate to exchange, buy and sell. Among those who were trading horses yesterday was Mr. Sid Williams, a gentleman who lives a short distance west of Oak Cliff. He traded with a stranger for a mule and afterward he said that he discovered that the party with whom he traded did not have a clear title to the animal. Mr. Williams laid the case before Sheriff Lewis. Mr. Lewis sent Deputies Henry Tanner and John Bolick after the party who traded with Mr. Williams. The found him, and at the sheriff’s office a short while previous he gave the name of J. J. Jackson to Deputy Carson, who wrote a bill of sale for him. Mr. Jackson told the deputies that he could be easily identified in the city. He started with them to Sanger Bros.’ store about 1:30 in the afternoon, where he said he was known, but before they left Jefferson street, on the public square, he suddenly wheeled his horse and started at race horse speed down Jefferson street toward the jail. The deputies pursued and they were joined by an Ellis county farmer by the name of Harris, who was on a swift horse. Mr. Jackson led the trio down to Market street. He crossed over to Houston, back on Houston to Commerce and out on Commerce and across the Trinity bridge, leaving a cloud of dust behind like the wake of a cavalry company. Crossing the bridge, Mr. Harris’ horse seemed to forge ahead and get in the lead and as the object of the chase reached the west abutment of the bridge he turned and fired five times toward his pursuers. Mr. Tanner replied with five shots from his pistol.

“It was along here that Mr. Harris dropped out of the race. He fell and the conclusion of everybody watching was that he was shot. When Messrs. J. W. and J. T. Tucker picked him up, covered deep in dust and found clotted blood over his left eye and a small hole in his right arm, they felt sure that he was shot and fatally wounded. So the report flashed over the city that a man had been killed. Mr. Harris was carried in an express wagon to a drugstore on Jefferson street where his wounds were dressed. All of the bullets missed him and his injuries were caused by falling on small pebbles. In addition to the places over his eye and on his arm his hip was cut, necessitating one stitch, and after that was done he was out on the streets. He told a News reporter that his name was J. T. Harris and that he was a farmer living nine miles south of Waxahachie, near Forrest’s store. “I don’t remember much about the race,” he said, recounting his experience of a short while back. “I didn’t trade horses with the fellow and I don’t know who he is. I never saw him before and I don’t know anything about him. I saw some deputy sheriffs coming towards me running him, and I hollered to them to deputize me that I could catch him. I started in, and going across the bridge my horse ran away with me. He went the wrong direction. He went towards them bullets as hard as he could go, and it kept me d---d busy dodging them. I could see that pistol belching fire and I thought I was a goner. I tell you, partner, if I had had my old winchester with me I would have mixed it with him, but I didn’t have a thing and my horse was running right into them bullets. He carried me up almost by the side of that pistol and then my horse fell. I went down and that’s all I know about it, but you see me here.”

“Public interest centered on Mr. Harris for the time being, while Sheriff Lewis, John Bolick and Henry Tanner continued after the flying horseman. After the shooting at the bridge he proceeded to reload his pistol. Mr. Lewis followed to the foot hills of West Dallas. The horse he was riding was not fleet and he was compelled to turn back. Messrs. Tanner, Henry Jacoby and Bolick kept up the chase over the pike road toward Fort Worth. Red Stewart was watching from the courthouse tower and he said the time made broke the record. Over the hills and out of sight went the horse trader and his pursuers, who never came nearer than 200 yards of him after he crossed the bridge until near Kidd Springs, when the horse trader threw his pistol back and fired one shot toward Bolick. The latter returned the fire and the horse trader jumped from his now jaded nag and took to the bushes afoot. He disappeared in the underbrush before the officers came up. They captured the horse he was riding, which was the one he had traded from Mr. Williams. Mr. Bolick’s shot evidently hastened the horse trader in taking leave of the saddle. The bullet went through a slicker which was tied behind and entered the saddle. An effort was made to get dogs on this party’s trail, but they could not trail him, and about 5:30 the two deputies returned to the city leading the race horse which carried the fugitive beyond their reach.

“He left behind him a gray mare which he had with the mule when he struck the square for a trade. He was a stranger to the horse traders on the square. None of them seemed to know him. While the chase was in progress, Deputy Sheriff Tom Carson received the following wire message dated Krum, Tex., and signed by G. D. Witt, who was unknown to any of the sheriff’s force: “Arrest a man about 23 years, light complexion, light mustache, riding gray mare about fifteen and one-half hands high, branded LU on left thigh, leading black 3-year-old horse mule, no brand. Advise at Sanger, Tex.”

“Sheriff Lewis and Mr. Carson stated that the description of the mare and mule tallied exactly with that of the animals left behind by the horse trader. His description also was correctly given as far as it went. He was five feet ten or eleven inches high and he wore a black shirt, black soft hat and his pants were stuffed in his boot tops.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Memory Monday: Southern California Nostalgia

A colleague and I who both spent a good portion of our respective youths (my youth predating hers by a couple of decades) in Southern California were discussing the plusses and minuses of living and growing up there.

We both found SoCal to resemble our current location – the Washington, D.C. area – in the high percentage of transient population in both areas, which to some extent masks the underlying ethnic and regional culture. This in turn creates the mistaken impression that there isn’t a distinctive culture, that these areas are both bland, white-bread places to live in – even more so than the cities and towns in the Midwest, the perceived home of “white bread,” which actually have a very distinct regional and sometimes also ethnic flavor. After several different states of residence for each of us during the intervening years, neither one of us feels irresistibly drawn back to our respective SoCal cities; perhaps it's just been too long.

And yet there is something about Southern California; it has certain undeniable virtues and certain things that inspire an immediate and sharply felt nostalgia.

Number one among these virtues is not the weather. Though DC is a steaming swamp half the year, the temperate clime of SoCal is not enough to lure either of us back.

Number one, according to our large sampling population of two, is the produce: oranges, berries, melons, and hosts of other fruits and vegetables. But especially the oranges – heavenly, juicy, tangy oranges. (Sorry, Florida.) No melon grown outside of California has ever been able to tempt me. Apricots and grapes with a real taste.

There were other items of local color that my colleague and I remembered fondly. Speaking of oranges, there was the Orange Show. That’s what we called it, although technically it is the National Orange Show Fair. The event is held on the 120 acres of the National Orange Show Events Center for five days every Memorial Day weekend. Although Disney Land and numerous other tourist attractions and amusement parks are located within a short drive (notice I didn’t say “easy drive”), the Orange Show was always The Big Deal.

When I went to the website of the Orange Show Festival, I was happy to see that parking and admission fees were still extremely reasonable, and even though each event or attraction costs extra, you can still purchase an unlimited carnival ride wristband for $15.

The atmosphere I remember was very much carnival/amusement park. There are still a “Live Circus,” animal rides, and a petting zoo, so it’s a long way from Cirque du Soleil.

The big deal in our day was the actual Show part, which usually featured the celebrities of the day. One year the guest celebrities of the Orange Show were the stars of the TV show Bonanza: Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, and Pernell Roberts (it seems that it should have been Dan Blocker, but I definitely remember Pernell Roberts). They joked and sang. Oh, yeah.

The third thing that my colleague and I felt nostalgia for were the mountains. They almost seemed as though they were right in our back yards. The semi-desert terrain was mostly flat and I remember many cloudless days with strong, direct sunlight that could seem harsh (is that why I am squinting in so many of my childhood pictures?). The mountains, however, broke up the monotony and lent a bit of magic to the landscape. Drives and hikes in the mountains seemed like a visit to a foreign country or even another planet. Many of my imaginary worlds as a child resembled the forests where we hiked and picnicked.

It has been more than 40 years since I yearned to return to California, but every so often, perhaps when someone is peeling an orange, I want to be able to go to the local grocery store and buy ... a real orange.

Not California oranges

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For Robin of Where I Come From

Robin of Where I Come From, bless yore heart. I am delighted to receive the Happy 101 Award from you. You have helped put me into a totally silly and cheerful mood tonight, so I dedicate the following post to you. Because #1 on your list of things that make you happy was “Being a Mom,” the theme of this post will be the Top 10 Things That Make Me Happy About Being a Mom.

(Folks, if you have not checked out Where I Come From, do it now. Robin has a very forthright and engaging writing style that will delight you.)

(I also see that Where I Come From is also an elite … ahem … Texas-linked blog, and will add it to the “Texas Team” forthwith.)

Top 10 Things That Make Me Happy About Being a Mom

1. Still being able to shock my daughters.

2. Still seeing the looks of wonder and excitement as they check out their stockings on Christmas morning.

3. Learning to sympathize with and understand my own mother by experiencing first-hand how difficult it is to be a mother.

4. Having a daughter to speak Russian to and geek out about linguistics with (older daughter).

5. Having a daughter who even loves the “pest birds” (grackles and blackbirds) who visit our backyard and says, “They’re God’s creatures, too” (younger daughter).

6. Having daughters who love all the same science fiction stuff that my husband and I love, who love some of the same music we do, and who like to watch Top Gear and Junkyard Wars with us. (However, Daughter #2: Stealing Mom’s Dr. Who scarf is not cool.)

7. No longer having to continually get up in the middle of the night because we had babies who Just. Wouldn’t. Sleep.

8. Having to be careful about drinking liquids around my daughters because they can quickly crack me up with an off-the-cuff remark to the point that … well, you know, the tea comes out my nose. (Daughter #1, please do not say: “Thanks for the visual, Mom.”)

9. Having someone to inherit my genealogy research.

10. Having daughters who have been known to say: “Mom, you need to put that broom down and come with us. We all need to get manicures and pedicures, pronto.”

For Becky Wiseman: Top 10 Things That Make Me Happy When I’m Traveling

I am thrilled to learn that Becky Wiseman of kinexxions has also awarded me the Happy 101 Award. Because Becky was one of the first GeneaBloggers whose blog I found, admired, and tried to emulate, this is a true honor for me. So, in honor of Becky, through whose posts on her travels so many of us are deriving much vicarious pleasure these days, I would like to devote the following post to her: “Top 10 Things That Make Me Happy When I’m Traveling.”

1. A pleasant and adventurous traveling companion. (But not too adventurous. I am not going to climb that mountain.) And, in certain countries, one who can drive stick shift, remember to keep on the left side of the road, and park in impossible spots.

2. A camera that works (including a flash that goes off when it’s supposed to and not just when it wants to).

3. Cooperative weather. That’s right, Mr. Cumulus over there, move your fat behind and let the sun shine on this tombstone.

4. Good music on the radio or my iPod. (And a companion who does not mind screechy violins or sing-alongs in Hungarian. See #1 above.)

5. The knowledge that I haven’t forgotten anything. (Well, OK, that one’s never gonna happen.)

6. Animals to watch, pet, or somehow interact with.

7. At least one rainbow, and at least one spectacular sunset. (And I never get tired of them.)

8. At least one good (non-chain) bookstore.

9. Schmoozing with people we meet along the way.

10. Coming home to a house with no basement flood (it’s happened before), no cat-caused mess, and nothing in the mail that had to be dealt with immediately.

Happy travels, Becky – we’re all having a blast reading about your journey!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Warm Spot in a Cold Day

My heartfelt thanks to Karen at Ancestor Soup, Dorene from The Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, and Cheryl of Heritage Happens for awarding me the Happy 101 Award. These are blogs that I greatly enjoy reading and it means a lot to me to know that they enjoy my blog, too.

As a way of expressing my gratitude for the pleasure reading their blogs has given me, I would like to pass the award along to the following 10 bloggers. Those who are awarded this honor are supposed to list 10 things that make them happy and pass the award on to 10 other bloggers. I would like to make this optional, to be left to the discretion of the awardees – you may do either, both, or neither, or you may do less than 10 if you wish.

Amanda Acquard at A Tale of Two Ancestors

Amanda the Librarian at ABT UNK

Ruth Stephens at Bluebonnet Country Genealogy

Mavis Jones at Georgia Black Crackers

Janet Iles at Janet the Researcher

Texican Wife at Mountain Genealogists

Astrid at Of Trolls and Lemons

The Folk Archivist at Folk Archivist’s Blog

Joan Hill at Roots ‘n’ Leaves

J. Mulder at Tracing My Roots

Please check these blogs out if you have not already; they provide food for the mind and food for the heart.

10 things that make me happy:

1. My patient husband.

2. My funny and awesome daughters.

3. My comedian cats.

4. My gaggle of backyard bird visitors.

5. My generous relatives, close and distant, who provide me with information, photographs, and encouragement.

6. The GeneaBlogging Community, which gets my vote for the absolute best online community.

7. Digging in the dirt and watching things grow.

8. Finding ancestors!

9. Getting paid to work with foreign languages.

10. The thought that there is so much wonderful music to listen to and so many good books to read in this world.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 8 January 2010

I have changed the name of this feature in response to a comment on a recent Family Newsletter Friday post that began, “Sorry to butt in on your family newsletter…” Why, hon, you’re not buttin’ in at all, you’re absolutely welcome here! So now “Friends” has been added to the title. It started as mostly a summary of research I had done each week, so I figured people who were not researching these lines (that is, not cousins or “family”) might not be interested. However, other items – some blog highlights, other happenings and bits of information that would be of more general interest – gradually got added in. Right now I don’t really want to split them up into separate features, because one or the other is often rather scant some weeks. Another change is that I will be starting with general-interest items first.

Blogs/Follow Friday

They That Go Down to the Sea is definitely back and going strong. One of my favorite posts is Treasure Chest Thursday: Gram’s Christmas Present. Not only does it exhibit the glorious writing style and strong story line that characterize this blog, but it holds the promise of a source of plenty of material to inspire future posts. You’ll have to read the story to see what that source is. (And I already had this post written before the following post on Down to the Sea was written, so there was no collusion here!)


I actually got one of the Sheriff Henry Lewis articles from the Dallas Morning News transcribed and posted this week!


Most interesting genealogy-related Google search of the week: Ludwig’s angina, a cellulitis infection of the tissues of the floor of the mouth that is sometimes fatal. This was the cause of death of Ernest Elbert Wheeler, the young husband of a distant cousin.



Sort of finished up on the J. J. Norman-Martha King family. (Though not quite; J. J. and his brother Thomas Frank had identically named sons named for their father: Joseph Madison Carroll Norman. In looking for one – TF’s son who is said to have left home at age 18 and was never heard from again – I found the other on the census, with more children. Still looking for the first one, though.) I’m trying to tie up various loose ends, especially with the help of Inez Cline’s Norman Family History. However, her history only covers 5 of J.J.’s 12 children, so there are still some blanks to fill in. (And there still remain many – if anyone reading this is descended from this family, I’d love to hear from you!)

Now working on the Thomas Frank Norman family – like my great-grandfather, a son of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk. I did not know about this family until I connected with Gary B. through Ancestry and then later obtained the Inez Cline history. Cline says that they had 9 children but only 4 survived to maturity. I’d like to find the other 5.

An interesting find on Sunday: by searching for Normans in Texas who are from Alabama, I found Thomas Frank – as Franklin T. Norman, a widower with the four surviving children Vinie, Jessie, Joseph M., and Donald. And what is really intriguing is that they are shown as boarders in the household of a Webster E. Lee, whose father was born in Alabama. Family patriarch Joseph Madison Carroll Norman had two stepbrothers, Lafayette and Samuel, from his mother’s second marriage to a Matthias Lee. I don’t think this Webster is a son of either of them (since he is shown as having a brother William Lee who is too old to be a son of either), but still … there could be a family connection, especially since there were also older step-siblings through Matthias Lee. (And up above on the same census page there is a Samuel – too young for the half-uncle, but could still be related.) Also, if Thomas Frank died in 1912 as stated by Inez Cline, that means his children would have been minor orphans.

Follow Friday: Two New Texas-Linked Connections

Two blogs have been added to the list of Texas-linked blogs:

ABT UNK by Amanda. Love the name, which comes from abbreviations commonly seen in family trees. Though only a couple of months old, the blog has a strong start with a roster full of Advent Calendar posts.

Moore History – Deep in the Heart of Texas – by Laura Leigh. How could I not be irresistibly drawn in? It’s about Texas, it’s about Moores. OK, they’re not my Moores, but still…. A recent post deals with library resources in Williamson County, Texas. (I’m hoping someone will do the same for Baylor, Dallas, Collin, Hunt, Grayson, and Fannon.)

Looking forward to reading more from these bloggers!

Featured Family Friday: Thomas Timothy Sisson and Elza Jane McLaughlin

Thomas Timothy Sisson
b. 2 Nov 1865, Alabama
d. 15 Aug 1930
& Elza Jane McLaughlin
b. 21 Mar 1873, Alabama
d. 24 Nov 1973
m. 19 Dec 1889, St. Clair Co., Alabama
|--Lillian May Sisson
|----b. 10 Mar 1892
|----d. Jan 1980, Leeds, Jefferson, Alabama
|---& Milton C. Stewart
|----b. 1894, Alabama
|--John Charles Sisson
|----b. 4 Jul 1894, Odenville, Alabama
|---& Nell
|----b. 1897, Alabama
|--Elon Guy Sisson
|----b. 25 Oct 1896
|----d. 29 Jul 1960
|---& Lucy Mae Slate
|----b. 17 Dec 1904
|----d. 6 Feb 1976
|--Samuel T. Sisson
|----b. May 1899, Alabama
|---& Ruby F.
|----b. 1903, Alabama
|--Annie E. Sisson
|----b. 1903, Alabama
|--Effie C. Sisson
|----b. 1904, Alabama
|---& Forney Allen Simpson
|----b. 13 Dec 1900, St. Clair Co., Alabama
|----d. 1 Oct 1937, St. Clair Co., Alabama
|----m. 1 Sep 1923, St. Clair Co., Alabama
|--Bessie J. Sisson
|----b. 1907, Alabama
|--L. Marjorie Sisson
|----b. 1909, Alabama
|--Bill Sisson
|----b. 1913, Alabama
|--Fannie Sisson
|----b. 1917, Alabama

This is the family of my great grandmother Sarah Jane Sisson’s half-brother, Thomas Timothy Sisson (parents William T. Sisson and Margaret Jane Lambert) and his wife Elza Jane McLaughlin (parents John Columbus McLaughlin and Martha A. Vann).

This is not one of the Sisson siblings who moved to Texas from Alabama, so I do not know much about them. I would like to know: the maiden names of John Charles’ wife Nell and Samuel T.’s wife Ruby and the death dates for quite a few of these siblings.

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, January 7, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: 20 Years Ago Today

The first thing my husband said to me this morning after waking up was: "At this time twenty years ago today, it was snowing, you were having contractions, and we were on our way to the hospital."

Today at 9:08 p.m. my oldest ceased to be a teenager.

Love ya, Bun, more than you can know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: “They Want These Things”

In an effort to stick to my resolution to do more transcriptions this year, I will try to feature a transcription a week for “Transcription Tuesday” (when I don’t do an Amanuensis Monday a la John Newmark of TransylvaniaDutch in place of Memory Monday).

The following Dallas Morning News article from Christmas 1891– a satirical wish list for Santa on behalf of various Dallas, Texas luminaries of the 1890s – seemed an appropriate place to start since it reminded me a bit of all the letters to Santa posted by GeneaBloggers recently. The targets include my great-great uncle, Sheriff William Henry Lewis. Apparently Sheriff Lewis’ prospects for re-election to a fourth term as sheriff in were not so promising; he did not get re-elected, although he did end up coming in a fairly close second. Sheriff Lewis was in many respects popular sheriff and much admired man, but his popularity suffered somewhat when he prevented a couple of racially tinged lynchings.

I believe the last person on the list, J.E.G. Bower, was the same Bower who was Henry Lewis’ partner in a real estate company in later years. S. B. “Bev” Scott had held several offices in Dallas County: deputy sheriff in the 1870s, tax assessor, and county clerk. Alderman Briggs was known to be a strong advocate for building a crematory. Connor was the mayor of Dallas in the late 1880s and early 1890s, including during the 1893 depression. He faced accusations of misuse of city funds, had problems keeping the city afloat during these lean times, and himself owed the city a large sum in back taxes.

From the Dallas Morning News, 25 Dec 1891


What Old Santa Should Put in Some Men’s Stockings

Sam Klein – Chairmanship of the water commission and Dennis Mahoney’s scalp.

Bev Scott – Well, two or three thousand would do for me.

Chief Arnold – More policemen.

Henry Lewis – A way to get re-elected sheriff.

Joe Stewart – More fees.

Nat Turney – Nomination for county judge.

Tom Nash – Me, too.

J. H. Webster – More vitality to the mayoralty bee.

Barry Miller – A call to run for county attorney.

Harry Trace – Some new sub-alliances.

Mayor Connor – Peace.

Alderman Briggs – I sing a song of a crematory.

The fair committee – A quorum of stockholders.

Ed Gray – A black eye for Cleveland.

Brock Robertson – Smoother sailing for James Stephen Hogg.

Dick Scurry, Sid Reinhart and John Alderhoff (in chorus) – An assurance of less fire now and hereafter.

J. E. G. Bower – A boom for the judgeship of the new court to be established.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Memory Monday: The Tree in Our Basement

The recent snowstorms and a trip to the basement to water my brought-in-from-the-cold potted plants brought back a memory – of a tree that once grew in our basement. It was not a tree in a pot, but a tree that actually took root and grew in the basement.

This happened not so long ago. I believe it must have been in 1996, following a huge snowfall (actually two) here in Northern Virginia; more precisely, the sprouting of the tree followed the sudden flood that was created by a hard rain and an unseasonably warm day that melted the gigantic drifts of snow.

But I should back up at this point and explain our basement. We bought our smallish, Depression-era house years ago. One of the many inconvenient quirks of the house was its shallow basement. We loved the comfort and convenience of our neighborhood and did not want to “move up,” so we put on an addition, including a full-depth basement. To access the new basement, we had a doorway cut into it from the old basement. This meant cutting through the concrete blocks that formed the old basement wall. These blocks have a hollow structure, but are filled with dirt and other fill materials; this filling was exposed when the doorway cut right through the middle of a row of blocks. We never thought much of it and never did anything to “finish off” the surface.

Then came the great winter flood of 1996. The basement, carved into marine clay on a lot which lies at the low point from a hill, is prone to flooding. Usually our four pumps can take care of it, but a power failure or very sudden and overwhelming flooding can still occasionally cause water to rise in the lower basement. Even then, it is rare that the water will go over 18 inches high so as to reach the level of the upper basement. That winter deluge was the first time it did and the first time those concrete blocks were “watered,” so to speak.

I don’t know when we noticed it, but at some point we saw that something was growing in one of the blocks. Perhaps a squirrel had gotten into the basement after the blocks were exposed and buried a seed? It didn’t seem very likely. We could only conclude that the seed must have been there since 1930, when the house was built.

And of course, some sort of instinct led us to water the thing.

After a couple of weeks the little seedling took on the appearance of a very anemic sapling which, from previous experience, we guessed was a black walnut.

A tree really shouldn’t be growing in the basement. But when we thought about it, we decided that the poor growing conditions – mainly poor lighting – would ultimately take care of the problem of the tree.

Meanwhile, we continued to water the thing.

It was just one of the usual household chores we did. “Well, I brought in the paper, fed the cats, and watered the basement tree,” one of us might recite. It had become a regular fixture of our life, though a pale one.

And it was pale, and became increasingly so, not to mention leggy and rather spindly. We considered and then rejected the option of transplanting it to the yard. We didn’t really want a black walnut tree and it most likely would have died from exposure.

So the tree survived for a surprisingly long time, perhaps a year, but not much more.

We became less conscientious about watering it, knowing that the end was not too far off, and then returned from a short vacation to find it with no leaves.

The tree’s demise did not make us sad, but perhaps just a little bit wistful at the prospect of no longer having a little “survivor” from more than 60 years ago growing in our basement.

It’s surprising what a trip to the basement can make you remember.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Silly Saturday: New Year’s Eve ‘Nip Party

The Koehl Cats had presents in their Christmas stockings this year, with the favorite being NipSticks. To celebrate New Year’s, they had a Nip Party.

BooBoo warms up with the Ole Nip Bag

Pipsqueak gets in on the action

R.B. monopolizes one of the new NipSticks.

“C’mon, R.B., share.”

"Pretty please?"

"You can't have it. The Precious is all MINE!"

"Now the Precious is MINE!"

"Wow. That was good stuff."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top 10 Genealogy Moments of 2009

Hats off to Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist and Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for the idea for this one:

10. Attending and participating in the genealogy brick wall workshop with my Lizzie Smith material.

9. Ordering more and more Moore family obituaries as I kept finding more people in this family.

8. Attending the genealogy conference hosted by the Fairfax Genealogical Society.

7. Finally writing up articles about my great-great uncles William Henry Lewis and Preston E. Moore.

6. Learning that Vickie Everhart of BeNotForgot and Ethelene Dyer Jones are my cousins!

5. Just being part of the Genea-Blogging community.

4. Getting in touch with lots of Norman cousins, many of whom have generously provided Norman family pictures and genealogy information.

3. Hosting the 85th Carnival of Genealogy.

2. Receiving a picture of my grandfather (plus his mother and two brothers) from my cousin George.

1. Hearing from my younger brother.

I cannot call all of these things “accomplishments,” but they were pretty exciting….

Featured Family Friday: William T. Sisson and Susan Caroline Tant

William T. Sisson
b. ca 1826, Georgia
d. 12 Feb 1894, Talladega, Alabama
& Susan Caroline Tant
b. 12 Nov 1838, Alabama
d. bef 1920
m. 17 Oct 1875, Talladega, Alabama
|--Martha Edna Sisson
|----b. Jul 1876
|---& Reuben/Robert John Mulky
|----b. Jan 1872, Georgia
|----m. 6 May 1891, Calhoun Co., Alabama
|--Wiley Turner Sisson
|----b. 10 Aug 1876, Alabama
|----d. 22 Jan 1957
|---& Lula E. Macon
|----b. 8 Jul 1879, Alabama
|----d. 28 May 1950
|----m. ca 1899

This is the family of my great-great-grandfather William T. Sisson and his third (and final) wife, Susan Caroline Tant, who I believe was the daughter of John T. Tant, Jr. and Adeline Ogletree. William and Susan Caroline were married in Talladega, Alabama on 17 October 1875. I believe William was Susan Caroline Tant’s first and only husband; she would have been about 37 years old when they married. Her Confederate Widow’s Pension Application is the source of a good bit of the information I have on this family. She appears on the 1900 and 1910 censuses with her daughter Martha Edna Sisson and son-in-law Reuben Mulky. I cannot find her on the 1920 census, so I have given that as a possible latest date of death, but then again I cannot find Martha and Reuben Mulky on that census, either. There are a lot of dates of death missing for this family: Susan Caroline Tant, daughter Martha Edna Sisson Mulky, and son-in-law Reuben John Mulky.

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.

Family Newsletter Friday 1 Jan 2010

I love that my first Family Newsletter Friday post for the New Year is on January 1st!


Almost all my genealogy activity (and there has been some!) over the past couple of weeks has been devoted to inputting information on the Norman family. I am still working on the children of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk, specifically J. J. Norman. Not exactly sure what “J. J.” stands for, as I have found varying expansions. Inez Cline has James J. “Jobe” Norman. I have seen “Josephus,” “Jode,” and “Joe” as well. He and Martha King had a large family (12 children, I think), so this will take a while. Right now I’m working on his son Joel T. Norman’s family, also a large family. Joel T. Norman would have been my Grandma Sallie Frances Norman Brinlee’s first cousin.


When I’m in the family room, I work on my laptop, which does not have my Reunion genealogy program loaded on it, so I tended to do all my Lizzie Smith brick wall research there. I have started a Bonner candidate database based on the 1870 and 1880 censuses (Lizzie Smith’s first husband was reputed to be a Bonner).


If you have not already, you absolutely must visit Carol at Reflections from the Fence and see the picture story of a fantastic gift given by her.

Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve I took a break from the somewhat intensive posting of December and went “visiting” to various blogs to have more leisure in reading them and commenting on them. While I want to keep up a good blog writing pace this year, it’s quite nice just to be able to read blogs and exchange comments with fellow bloggers for a while. Perhaps around mid-year I’ll try a break like this again.

Follow Friday

Look for a post updating the list of Texas-linked bloggers on the "Texas Team"; there are several new and newly discovered blogs. I hope to resume Follow Friday next Friday, but for this Friday I would like to mention some blogs that I have greatly enjoyed reading but have not had new posts for a while. Since I am well aware that there are many family and work circumstances that can sideline blogging, this is not a whine (I hope) but just a tribute and expression of appreciation:

They That Go Down to the Sea [This just just in: She's baaack! Someone must be listening up there.... But wait a minute. I realized that TTGDTTS was back because it was in my Blogger reader, which uses the follower function... but TTGDTTS is in Wordpress. Well, my daughters and I have been watching Twilight Zone all day. Now I'm in it.]

The Desktop Genealogist Unplugged

Wibbling Jo’s Genealogy Blog

We have also had fellow GeneaBloggers who have lost dear ones this year and have gone through other trials and challenges. To them I offer my prayers, hopes, and best wishes for a New Year full of good health, encouragement, inspiration, and beauty.

Below are some pictures of my cats taken during the holidays. No connection to anything here; I posted them "just because."