Monday, May 31, 2010

Memory Monday: A Family Story

There are all kinds of family stories. Some of the stories I remember best were about the crazy shenanigans of my parents and their siblings; it seems there was no scheme too wild, no prank too complicated, for them to dream up and try to pull off.

Then there were the stories that were about family relationships: feuds, disagreements, hurt feelings. You know, psychological stuff. Depending on who was telling the story, it could definitely take on the teller’s biases.

And so it was with a story my mother used to tell about her mother.

My grandparents, Kirby Moore and Eula Floyd Moore, moved from the Lancaster area in Dallas County out to Baylor County in 1917 together with Eula’s brother King David Floyd and his family. Eula and King had each inherited some money after the death of their mother, Angeline Matlock Floyd, and King and Kirby had decided the money should be used to buy cheap land in Baylor County. Serious settlement of Baylor County did not start until the 1880s and it has never been a populous county. The two main towns at that time were Seymour, the county seat, and Bomarton, near which the Floyds and Moores settled; today Bomarton is little more than a ghost town with some surrounding farms.

Baylor County must have seemed quite a desolate place to Grandma Eula, especially when compared with her home back in Lancaster. According to the story as I heard it related by my mother, Grandma would pine after her family, that is, she would talk about how much she missed them, and in darker moods would blame Grandpa Kirby for bringing her out to this forsaken place so far from home.

Now, my mother loved her father and did not care for it much when Grandma criticized him. And she told the following story she had heard about when Grandma had gone home to Lancaster for a visit: “They said that when she got home she didn’t even take any notice of her mother or sisters; she just ran, bawling, straight to her Mammy and hugged her and cried.” (I realized later that one item has to be inaccurate in this story; when Grandma went back, it would have to have been after 1917, and since her mother died in 1916, she wouldn’t have been there.)

My grandmother Eula Amanda Floyd and her sister Dona Floyd; may have been taken around 1900

This story stuck in my mind for two reasons. One was that it indicated that the Floyd family had a bit of money. They did; more at some times (when speculation was going well) than at others (when speculation fell through and my great-grandfather Charles Floyd and his brother Alford were charged with fraud).

The other reason was that it was the first hint that there might have been some history of slave-holding in my grandmother’s family.

Correspondence with a cousin on the Floyd side revealed some of the background to this story:

“Kitty Stevenson, ex-slave of James and Sarah Alcina Harris Taylor (Angie’s [my great-grandmother Angeline Matlock Floyd’s] aunt), was the midwife who delivered just about all kids in this area in the late 1800s. Her daughter Birdie was also a midwife who delivered [name of relative] in this house in 1907. [Cousin’s name] just loved old Birdie and stayed at her house a lot of the time. Birdie was always ready to help if someone was sick and had a home remedy for just about everything. Am sure all the Floyd kids of their generation must have loved Kitty, too, probably did call her Mammy.”

This cleared up a lot, but I was still curious and tried to see whether or not I could find Kitty and Bertie in the census. Based on what I found, I believe it is more likely that Birdie – or, as her name appears in the census, Bertie, was actually Kitty’s granddaughter. Her father was Mack Stevenson/Stephenson, born December 1851 (according to the 1900 census) in Missouri, parents both born in Virginia (which is shown as Kittie’s home state).

1880 US Federal Census, Enumeration District 66, Dallas, Texas, Page 9, 3 June 1880

Line 18 Dwelling 65 Family 66

Stephenson, Kittie Black Female 47 Mother Widowed Keeping house Cannot read or write VA VA VA
----- Sarah J. Black Female 20 Daughter Single Cannot read or write MO VA VA
----- Edward Black Male 17 Single Cannot read or write MO VA VA
----- Horace Black Male 14 Son Single Cannot read or write TX VA VA
----- Willie Black Male 8 Grandson Single TX TX TX
----- Andrew Black Male 7 Grandson Single TX TX TX
-----Lavoney Black Male 5 Grandson Single TX TX TX
----- Ellen Black Female 2 Granddaughter Single TX TX TX

Living next door are J. H. and Sarah A. Taylor, so this is the correct family.

1900 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 5, Dallas, Texas, Enumeration District 138, Page 20, 25 June 1900

Line 22 Dwelling 351 Family 353

Stevenson, Mack Black Male Dec 1851 48 Married 16 MO VA VA Farmer 2 months not employed Cannot read or write Can speak English
----- Mollie Wife Black Female Mar 1855 45 Married 16 7 7 Can read, write, and speak English TX MD Unk.
----- George Son Black Male Apr 1884 16 Single TX MO TX Cannot read or write Can speak English
----- Ellis Son Black Male Apr 1886 14 Single TX MO TX Cannot read or write Can speak English
----- Bertie Black Female Jan 1888 12 Single TX MO TX Cannot read or write Can speak English
----- Carl Son Black Male Dec 1889 10 Single TX MO TX Cannot read or write Can speak English
----- Florance Daughter Black Female Apr 1892 8 Single TX MO TX
----- Eddie Son Black Male Aug 1894 5 Single TX MO TX

This family is living almost next door to Harvey J. and Sarah A. Taylor (and the Floyd family is also nearby). Mack’s mother was born in Virginia, as was Kittie; I am guessing that she was his mother. He was not shown living with her on the 1880 census, but was old enough to have been out on his own by that time.

1910 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct 5, Dallas, Texas, Enumeration District 96, Page 9A, 27 April 1910

Line 17 Dwelling 152 Family 152

Stevenson, Mack Head Male Black 62 M1 27 MO VA VA English Farmer General farm Employer Cannot read or write
----- Mollie Wife Female [Not clear – may be Mulatto] 61 M1 27 7 7 TX MD MD English None Can read and write
----- Bertie Daughter Female Mulatto 22 Single TX MO TX English Farm laborer Home farm Worker Yes 0 Can read and write
----- Carl Son Male Mulatto 20 Single TX MO TX English Farm laborer Home farm Worker Yes 0
----- Eddie Son Male [Not clear – may be Black or Mulatto] 14 S TX MO TX English Farm laborer Home farm Worker Yes 0 Can read and write Attended school

Several Floyd families are living nearby. The Taylors may have passed away by this time.

1920 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct 5, Dallas, Texas, Enumeration District 100, 11-12 February 1920

Line 41 Dwelling 36 Family 37

Stevenson, Mack E. Home owned Farm Male Black 65 Married Cannot read or write MO MO VA Can speak English Farming General farm OA
----- Mollie Wife Female Black 61 Married Cannot read or write TX US MD Yes None
----- Birdie Daughter Female Black 31 Single Can read and write TX MO TX Can speak English Servant Private family Worker
----- Eddie Son Male Black 25 Single Can read and write TX MO TX Can speak English Laborer General farm Worker

The family of Oscar Floyd (grandfather of the cousin who would visit Bertie) is shown next door.

1930 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct 5, Dallas, Texas, Enumeration District 57-127, Page 4A, 22 April 1930

Line 12 Dwelling 68 Family 70

Stevenson, Mack Head Home owned Farm Male Negro 82 Widowed Cannot read or write MO MO MO Can speak English Farmer Farm Own agent Employed Did not serve in WWI
----- Berta Daughter Female Negro 35 Single Did not attend school Can read and write TX MO TX Can speak English None

The Oscar Floyd family lives nearby.

I was not able to find Kitty/Kittie Stevenson/Stephenson on any census after 1880, although there was a Black Kittie Jackson, born ca 1820 in Virginia on the 1900 census for Dallas.

Like many stories concerning the Floyd family, this one definitely has an element of truth, but the details are a bit scrambled. When she was a child, Grandma Eula may have been attached to Kittie, but it is not likely that she had any sort of reunion with her after 1917. If she did have the emotional reunion as described by my mother, it would more likely have been with Bertie, who may have been a childhood friend/playmate, since she was born five years after my grandmother.

Since Kittie is shown living near the James Harvey and Sarah Alcena Harris Taylor family in 1880, it is possible that she had been a slave who was owned by the Taylor family. However, the states and years of birth of her children as shown on the 1880 census indicate that in the year 1863 she was still living in Missouri. I am not sure about the Taylors, but I believe that they moved to Texas from Kentucky in the 1850s.

The part of the story related by the cousin is supported by the proximity of the Mack Stevenson family to the Oscar Floyd family, and from this I gather the Floyds were close to Bertie. Based on some occasionally stormy family dynamics I have heard about in other stories, it may well have been true that what my grandmother missed most about living so far from Lancaster was someone she felt closer to than to her own sisters, and that person could have been Bertie.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Char McCargo Bah Speaks at Fairfax Genealogical Society Meeting

On 27 May Char McCargo Bah, a noted genealogist who specializes in African-American genealogy, spoke at the May meeting of the Fairfax Genealogical Society. Her topic was “Locating Slave Owners – It Is in the Details.”

Char led us through three different case studies, one of which centered on the search for the ancestors of a free black man who married a slave. The attendees followed each step and revelation in the research with rapt attention, which confirmed my suspicion that while genealogists enjoy educational presentations of all types, their favorite is always the case study.

Char emphasized that in researching slave ancestry, it is necessary to make use of every last detail, because there is often such a scarcity of information. Nevertheless, it was surprising how many sources she checked into and how much information she was able to turn up in these cases. Another surprising piece of information was that ex-slaves sometimes “flip-flopped” in choosing a surname after emancipation; this was sometimes due to connections to more than one slave-owning family. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, this makes it necessary to focus on first names and locations.

Both attendees searching for slave ancestors and those trying to find out more about their slave-owning ancestors had plenty of questions for Char after the presentation. She was able to give us some good pointers to guide our research and we also exchanged some information with one another. One avenue I will try is to search in ascertaining whether or not my ancestor George Floyd was actually a slave-owner is the 1860-65 tax records at the Dallas Public Library. If there is one overriding them I took away from the presentation, it is to be persistent and patient and turn over every single stone.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Surname Saturday: William A. Cannon and Susan A. Norman Family

William A. Cannon
b. 7 Jan 1862
d. 4 Mar 1890
& Susan A. “Sudie” Norman
b. 18 Dec 1864, Alabama
d. 20 Jul 1908, Peak, Garland Co., Arkansas
m. 3 Oct 1882
|--Mary Ellen Cannon*
|----b. 22 Nov 1883, Arkansas
|----d. 24 May 1960
|---& George Mitchel Milholen
|----b. 16 Oct 1881, Montgomery Co., Arkansas
|----d. 27 Oct 1966, Hot Springs National Park, Garland, Arkansas
|----m. 31 May 1900, Montgomery Co., Arkansas
|--Mary Ellen Cannon*
|----b. 22 Nov 1883, Arkansas
|----d. 24 May 1960
|---& Wacaster
|--James Wallace Cannon
|----b. 9 Aug 1886
|----d. 6 Jul 1973
|---& Myrtle Mullins
|----b. 5 Sep 1893
|----d. Jan 1988, Hot Springs National Park, Garland, Arkansas
|--Josephine Rebecca “Josie” Cannon
|----b. 13 Oct 1888, Arkansas
|----d. 17 Aug 1966, Merced, California
|---& Simon Peter Tallent
|----b. 26 Dec 1881, Meyers, Garland, Arkansas
|----d. 19 Feb 1953, Yountville, Napa, California

This is the family of my great-grandfather William Henry Norman’s half-sister, Susan A. “Sudie” Norman and William A. Cannon. Sudie was the oldest known child of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and his second wife, Mary Patterson. After William’s death, Sudie married Mitchell C. Blackburn; that family will be featured next week.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Follow Friday: TransylvanianDutch

John Newmark of TransylvanianDutch is one of the “all-around heavy-hitter” geneabloggers: a man of many and diverse interests (poetry, baseball, humor, politics, and, of course, genealogy, among others), a very interesting family background that covers quite a bit of territory, and the creator of at least one major GeneaBlogger tradition: Amanuensis Monday.

He tackles various issues in the genealogy community, covers technology aspects, online tools, and local history and genealogy resources, writes a weekly post on genealogy articles and blog posts of interest (Weekly Genealogy Picks), delves into some of his other interests, and, oh yeah, includes musings on miscellaneous subjects as well. I especially enjoy the poetry and miscellaneous subjects; they demonstrate something I believe about geneabloggers as a group: they are people with quite a wide range of interests and talents.

You should not be missing this blog. It has something for everyone.

This Week

The author of Nolichucky Roots poses some interesting questions about racial and ethnic identity and family responses to revelations from research (including DNA) in “Teeter Tottering through Genealogy.”

In “Is The Way To A Geneablogger’s Heart Through Their Vanity?” footnoteMaven looks into the maneuvering behind the recent awards.

At Rainy Day Genealogy Readings Jennifer addresses the question of “When is military service not military service?” in “Topics in Research – the Veteran Who Never Served.” We get a view into the interesting story of the 56th Illinois Infantry, aka the Mechanic Fusileers, Camp Douglas, the notorious prisoner of war camp near Chicago, and one man’s fight to have his status as a Civil War veteran restored.

At Blind Pig & The Acorn, Tipper has announced a new series: Music in Appalachia. I can’t wait!

Some exciting and wonderful news at Mary’s Musings: check out “Little Girl Lost – Tracie L. Post” and “Little Girl Lost Lost FOUND (A Success Story).”

Gini at Ginisology has had a great genealogy breakthough with some wonderful help from Thomas MacEntee. Read her post “Webex, Thomas, and Finding Hans~” to find out some outstanding cooperative genealogy was done!

Two of our GeneaBloggers have started new blogs: Joan at Roots’n’Leaves has started Roots’n’Leaves – Letters of Ralph Jabez McPherson and Carol at Reflections from the Fence has started Reflection’s Flora and Fauna.

Many thanks to Lisa Swanson Ellam at The Faces of My Family for featuring Greta’s Genealogy Bog this Follow Friday!

Wishes for good health to Ruth Coker Burks at last2cu for recovery from a stroke.

This week I started following these blogs:

Brumley Branches Genealogy

Heritage Zen:

It’s all about Genealogy Books

Journey’s Past

Potato Roots

Sharing a Slice of Life

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Playing Around with Online Trees - Part 2

Here are a few more things I tried and found out:

4. Click on the name listed as “Owner.” This brings up a box that includes the following information:

- Profile (including other Family Trees they have on Ancestry).
- Contact information. I have found many tantalizing clues on GenForum and the Rootsweb mailing lists, only to find that the researchers’ e-mails were no longer active. I am hoping for a bit more success through contacts here.
- Last log-in. This is important to me because I want to know if they are still interested and are keeping their research current, or perhaps this was just a passing fancy.

5. You can find pictures of your ancestors. Ancestry also has a page where you can also do a name search for pictures, but if the name is common, it may be easier to pull up the trees and then see what is there.

6. If you have published some of your own original research, see how much of it has made it into these trees and how it is being used. My two main contributions would be with the Moores (identifying Samuel Moore as the father of William Spencer Moore and Bud Mathis Moore) and the Lewises (putting together the Elisha Berry Lewis-Martha Poole family and identifying E. B. Lewis as the son of Elisha Lewis and Rosannah Dalrymple). The former shows up in a couple of trees, one erroneously, and the latter shows up in one tree, that of a researcher with whom I have corresponded (and he cites my e-mails in his WorldConnect tree).

7. Surprises. No, not necessarily eye-popping revelations or brickwall solutions, but something you may not have expected. I kept getting hits on a family tree called “Heartland of Texas” and finally, after inputting a few names from all over my family tree, realized that this database included both a significant branch of the Floyd family tree (my mother’s side) and part of the Norman family tree (my father’s side). There were even some Moores here and there (though not as a family unit, but rather as spouses of other families that were associated with the Floyds and Moores, such as the Lathams and Rainwaters). A few Normans did live in Baylor County (where my mother’s family settled and she grew up), but there was no obvious connection. What was going on?

I did a search on “Heartland of Texas” and the family name of the “home person” and pulled up information on the person to whom the tree belonged: a “native and lifelong resident” of Baylor County who is apparently also involved in research of other (sometimes non-related) families. When I clicked on the link to view the page on Ancestry, there was a list of e-mails of contributors. It appears to be one of those “combined tree” databases that researchers in certain localities create. This piqued my interest, and I am going to contact the lady and let her know about my own research that fits in here; it would connect many of the names that appear. Baylor is one of those “small population” counties, and just based on my mother’s family I have always thought a combined database of this type would be doable and interesting.

So, although aside from a relatively small number of researchers who put up detailed and well-sourced family trees, many of the trees do not contain a whole lot of new information that would significantly advance our research, we may still find material that contributes building blocks here and there. It’s just one of those bases you gotta touch – just in case.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Playing Around with Online Trees

News Flash: Online trees are likely to be unreliable and poorly sourced. Oh, wait a minute, almost every single person who reads this blog is aware of that fact.

So why write about them – again?

Because last weekend I actually went into the Public Member Trees area on Ancestry and started pushing all the buttons. But let’s back up a bit.

In my previous post on this subject, I mentioned that I look at Ancestry’s Public Member Trees when links to them appear to the right side of images pulled up during searches on Ancestry. Some years back I tried a few searches directly through the “Search Member Trees” option and did not find anything useful, so I had not tried a direct search since then.

However, some comments in other articles on the subject and my recent experience in perusing the trees pulled up in my searches (which might be among some of the better trees, since they do link to the images cited as sources) prompted me to play around and search for some of my ancestors in Ancestry’s Public Member Trees, or PMTs.

Did I have any major research breakthroughs? Certainly not. But the format and capability for linking to sources have improved, and I was surprised at what you can learn if you click on enough links.

The following are some observations on ways to use Public Member Trees that I found to be productive when I tried this “push all the buttons” approach. The most obvious (and already mentioned) ones are listed first, with a couple of things that I did not expect listed toward the end.

1. As previously discussed, you can use these trees to find hints for your research, especially for what I call “problem families.” These are not necessarily brick walls (so far no joy on that front through PMTs), but families with gaps: an incomplete list of children, missing dates, etc. For me these are often families “in the middle”: the ancestors are often well researched and the descendants, my “near ancestors,” are also well researched, but this connecting family is not.

Two of the trees I checked out had a couple of extra children’s names for one of these families (Bolin Clark and Elizabeth Dyer of Warren County, Kentucky). They might be incorrect, but they might also lead me to more information on this family (and help to distinguish them from all the other Clark families in Warren County).

One feature I use to make a quick assessment of a tree’s information content on one of these families is to do searches on the family names (the main name and some associated names) in the search box. This will give you an idea about whether it is worthwhile to navigate around the tree.

2. You can ascertain who is researching your line, get an idea of the quality of their research, and contact the best prospects. Again, this one has been discussed. And PMTs serve this purpose only to a limited extent.

There are various reasons for this, including Sturgeon’s Law (“Ninety percent of everything is crud”) and the tendency of “serious” researchers to use many forms to present their research (academic, local history, and genealogy publications; books; dedicated websites and blogs; and, for some, online collections of family trees), whereas more “hobby” researchers tend to favor the last two. And there are still limitations and a bit of “clunkiness” to the formats of these online collections that keep some researchers from using them.

So, despite the occasional gem, what we often pull up is a bunch of dreck. But even this can be useful information to have in its own way. I did not realize how widespread the misinformation on the alleged parents of my great-great grandfather Hiram Brinlee Sr. was until I saw the huge number of trees with “John T. Brinley and Elizabeth Doups,” and many of those had a totally unrelated English Brinley line pasted to him. There is a well-researched hypothesis about Hiram’s parents, but it is not as attractive, because it does not lead past John T. Brindley and the only wife anything is known about was probably Hiram’s stepmother. But I need to know how persistent the “phantom in the tree” is probably going to be.

Play around with the various links and search options on the Family Tree page:

3. Find the “home person” by clicking on the link (usually, but not always, it is the owner of the tree) and then click on “family tree” for that person and his or her spouse (if there is one).

3a. The first purpose of this is to see how closely they are connected to the family you are researching. It is a good sign if your line comes up on that first page (before you click on the “go farther back” button); there is likely to be some major interest in this family on the researcher’s part.

Another thing to remember is that while research can and often does get spotty on these family trees as you get further away from the “Home Person,” a researcher is likely to possess accurate information about who his own parents and grandparents are, and possibly up through the next generation or two as well. The information on this page may be the best that you find in that family tree.

And in at least two cases this information helped me to fill in descendants of an ancestor. For some ancestors, I do “descendants of” research, especially for my main research focus families. Through these PMTs I have found a couple of children that I had missed in putting the families together.

3b. A second benefit is that the “Home Person” may be a close cousin. This is not just the usual distant “research cousin,” but possibly part of the family you grew up with. I knew that at least two of my Moore cousins were “into” genealogy and family research, and through the PMTs I was excited to learn that the son of a another first cousin and the granddaughter of yet another first cousin have also gotten into researching the family tree. I will definitely be contacting these cousins.

Tomorrow: Four more things you may find in Ancestry’s Public Member Trees.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: "The Train Robbery"

Here is another Sheriff Henry Lewis adventure. He only makes a minor appearance as one of the parties involved in figuring out the details of a train robbery; the article shows a certain fascination with detective work. It was published in The Dallas Morning News on 26 May 1889.

The Train Robbery

Committed Just Beyond the Fair Grounds

Some Further Particulars

Showing That the Robbers Returned to the City and Burned Express Wrappers and the Grip in the Furnace of a Locomotive

The daring robbery of the express car of the Texas and Pacific passenger train on the outskirts of the city last Friday night, a report of which was given in yesterday’s News, was, as might be expected, the engrossing topic of conversation on the streets yesterday. Everybody believed that the robbers were back in the city, mingling with the miscellaneous crowd of nondescripts who follow in the wake of prosperity to depredate. Further particulars were difficult to learn. Detectives drew around their clews that professional silence which is as mysterious, mystifying and painful as a doctor’s prescriptions to a jaywalker. Even with the sheriff and chief of police mum was the word: but it was apparent that all of them, including the city marshal of East Dallas, was holding tightly to a clew. It appears that at the deep cut a short distance beyond the fair grounds one of the robbers pulled the bell cord, and as the train was slacking up both robbers jumped off. The robbery only became known when the train was brought to a standstill, by which time the road agents were out of sight. Soon after the fact became known a posse of deputy sheriffs started for the scene, but owing to the darkness and the failure of parties telegraphing to properly locate the occurrence nothing could be done. Yesterday morning Sheriff Lewis and posse started out again to investigate the matter, and at the point where the robbers got off the express car they found tracks in the soft ground about twenty feet from the road and leading to the road on which they were traced, the traces showing that the toes of the travelers pointed to the city, where the road agents must have arrived within an hour after the commission of their daring deed. One set of tracks showed a narrow foot or ordinary length and the other set a broader and shorter foot. It is thought that the robbers on returning to the city must have rendezvoused somewhere near the union depot, from the following rather startling discovery: About 4 o’clock in the morning Engineer Jesse McCart, who had just fired up his engine at the union depot, left it for a few minutes while he went to converse with a friend. On returning he found his furnace door opened and saw a dark object burning on the inside. Thinking it was a negro baby, he instantly raked out the partly burned mass, which proved to be an express grip and contained a large number of partly burned money wrappers. The charred debris was turned over to the detectives, who were arming themselves with clews.

Respecting the extent of the robbery nothing definitely could be learned at the express or railroad offices, beyond that Col. Aiken of the Pacific express had learned that some of the money was in paper and that payment had been stopped on it. It was stated that as Friday was an off day it was not likely that a large amount of money was in the car; but, on the other hand, money might have been expressed on Thursday from El Paso or other distant points. The express messenger is expected to return this morning from Marshall with the way bills and then the amount of the loss can be reached.

It has been learned that as the tall robber was stooping over the iron chest his mask fell off enabling the messenger to get a view of him. The messenger describes him as a young man with a long mustache that was slightly drooping.

As reported in yesterday’s News both men were masked, and one of them appeared to be about six feet high, while the other was of medium size and more slightly built.

The prevailing opinion among the police is that the robbers boarded the train at the union depot, and as it stopped to whistle at the Santa Fe crossing that they then got off the passenger car and took possession of the express car. This, however, is not considered likely as they could better have waited at the Santa Fe crossing for the train to arrive there than have run the risk of identification by getting on and off the passenger coach.

One of the police stated yesterday that some parties without settled habitation had been conspicuously absent from the street since the robbery.

United States Marshal Knight was in his office with five of his deputies until 11 o’clock on the night of the robbery, but he knew nothing about the occurrence until he read of it in yesterday’s News. He thinks that if the train had been backed to the city after the robbery and the authorities apprised of it, the golden opportunity for the arrest of the bandits would have been seized.

Express Messenger Ray arrived in the city last night, and his recital of the robbery was in substance the same as was given in The News yesterday.

Mr. L. S. Garrison stated to a News reporter that the amount taken by the robbers would not exceed $3000.

Two parties, a tall man and a small man, were taken in charge on suspicion last evening near the downtown depot, but the messenger failed to identify them and they proved that they were not the men, whereupon they were released.

[Well, I meant to pre-post this to appear on Tuesday, but I forgot to change the posting time before I hit "Publish." I guess it can be considered an "Amanuensis Monday" post.]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Surname Saturday: Family of Thomas Frank Norman and Letha/Lillie Brown

Thomas Frank Norman
b. 1862, Alabama
d. ca 1912, Texas
& Letha/Lillie Brown
b. Oct 1873, Texas
d. ca 1904, Texas
|--Vina Mable Norman
|----b. Sep 1896, Texas
|---& James Edward “Ed” Vance
|--Jessie Norman
|----b. Mar 1899, Texas
|---& Earnest Elbert Wheeler
|----b. 13 Dec 1897, Texas
|----d. 18 Jun 1927, Hunt County, Texas
|--Joseph M. C. Norman Jr.
|----b. 1900, Texas
|--Donald Barret Norman
|----b. 4 Mar 1902, Texas
|----d. 21 Oct 1988, Athens, Henderson, Texas
|---& Dorothy Gage

This is the family of one of the brothers of my great-grandfather William Henry “Jack” Norman. Thomas Frank Norman’s parents were Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk. My great-grandfather named his oldest son Thomas Frank, probably for this brother.

There are quite a few “mysteries” (that is, gaps in my knowledge) connected with this family. Inez Cline (author of the Norman Family History) says that Thomas Frank’s wife’s name was Letha Brown; on the only census I have seen for her (1900, since she died before the 1910 census), her name is given as Lillie. Inez Cline also says that Thomas Frank and Letha had nine children, but only four lived to maturity.

I do not actually know when Lillie died. Some researchers say that triplets were born in 1904 who died, and one of her sons said that he was two years old when she died, which would have been around 1904.

Inez Cline also has a cryptic note for Thomas Frank’s son Joseph M. C. Norman Jr. (one of many grandsons of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman who was named for him): “Left home at age 18, NFR [no further record].”

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friends and Family Newsletter Friday: 21 May 2010


Spelling is important!

We all know that our ancestors’ names could and usually were spelled every which way imaginable, and that it’s important to be able to use the various tools such as Soundex and wildcard searches to be able to find them with any success. But it’s also important to learn the actual spelling of a name used by the person, no matter how strange. This is especially important when it turns out that the “actual spelling” is quite different from the “expected spelling,” because the algorithms used to produce variant spellings may not work.

In researching the Norman family, I was looking up information on a Geraldine Norman who married Elzie Savage – or so I thought. I found it difficult to find much on either one, and neither Geraldine Norman nor Geraldine Savage in Arkansas brought up the right person for me. I got lucky in searching Arkansas County Marriages on FamilySearch Record Search, as it brought up Elzy Savage when I input “Elzie Savage.” And the record indicated that he married Gearldean Norman. I didn’t pay much attention. I did not even give it much notice when I saw that the handwritten entry for her name on the marriage records in the image also used the spelling “Gearldean.” But when I found her handwritten signature as witness on another relative’s marriage document with this same spelling, it finally got through my thick head: “That’s how she actually spelled it.”

And then – surprise! – the proper spelling finally brought up a death record for her in Ancestry – in North Carolina, where I did not expect to find her (most of the family stayed in Arkansas or moved to the West Coast).


I am very excited this week about being contacted by a gentleman who knew Bun and Square Brinlee, the “eccentric” Brinlee brothers that I have mentioned previously on this blog a couple of times (which is how he found me).

He knew them when he was a child and teenager and had quite a bit of information on them, some of which confirms the family (and newspaper) accounts and some of which does not quite support the legends; it appears that a few things may have been exaggerated in the original stories. However, his information does confirm that they were indeed real characters, and in a nice way, too. He had been planning to write an article on them, and in the course of trying to find additional information found my blog.

I shared what I knew – what I had heard from other family members and found in research – and he shared some of his rich memories. He was also able to provide me with the correct name of the author who wrote a short book based on their adventures, and I may try to dig up a copy on Amazon, though apparently it’s rather expensive. One area I may try to pursue is whether Bun actually married a woman named Mary Josephine McDonald. The story goes that he did and that he was too scared to tell his parents, so he just came back home to live. Now to find out what other information some of my Brinlee relatives may have!


Finally sent in my registration materials. Knoxville, here we come!

Follow Friday: Little Bytes of Life

In her “Getting to Know Me” post on Little Bytes of Life, Elizabeth O’Neal asks the question: “Is this a Mommy blog? Or a genealogy blog? Or…what???” and answers it “Both,” going on to observe that in her blog she hopes to combine the study of her ancestors with the study of her descendants.

And that’s part of the enjoyment of reading Little Bytes of Life: the vicarious charge we get out of reading about raising a child in an environment where involvement in genealogy is a natural part of family life. Elizabeth is actively involved in the DAR and now, with her daughter, in the C.A.R. as well, so we get an inside look at the activities of these organizations (as well as various Central California Coast organizations). And those of us who are trying in vain to get our children involved in genealogy experience envy as well. If there weren’t already enough reasons for me to envy Elizabeth, here are a few more: she is a talented writer and photographer and obviously a computer-savvy and well-organized researcher.

The following are three fabulous Mommy posts (the last one is also genealogy-related): “Worth More than 1,000 Words,” “One Perfect Day,” and “Our Trip to the N.S.C.A.R National Convention.” There. I’ve just made your day. You’ll thank me.

This Week

Continuing the theme of getting children involved in genealogy, Caroline Pointer at Family Stories showcases a 7th grade history assignment with a genealogical connection in “Movie Wednesday: A Prussian Immigrant.”

You simply must read about Becky Wiseman’s experience with Angels Landing at kinnexions. I’m not going to give anything away by saying anything else.
Angels Landing: The Prelude
Angels Landing: The Overture
Angels Landing: The Finale

Speaking of fantastic travel accounts, Craig Manson at GeneaBlogie is taking a virtual “grand genealogy journey”; the latest leg is “Aboard the California Zephyr.” As a former Californian, I am getting a big kick out of reading these posts (for example, the part about dissing Sacramento – love it!).

At Finding Josephine, Dionne Ford tells of an amazing family story about her great-grandfather Sam Jones in “Sentimental Sunday – How My Great-Grandfather escaped the Ku Klux Klan.”

At Everything’s Relative, Cindy finally has some wonderful results to show from her efforts to obtain her great-uncle’s war medals in “One War….”

Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist outlines ways to cut the costs of publishing family history books (which turn out to be quite expensive) in “Five Steps to Funding a Family History Book.”

At What’s Past Is Prologue, Donna Pointkouski witnesses to the power of laughter in “Even God Laughed.” C’mon, ‘fess up, I’ll best most of you have experienced something like this (for my family, it is “church giggles”).

Happy First Blogoversary to Karen Packard Rhodes at Karen About Genealogy!

Wishing good health to Kiril at Musings of a Mad Macedonian.

And finally ... something must be in the air this week. There have been many posts about reassessing goals, reorienting the focus of blogs (or merging blogs or starting new ones), and slowing down or redoubling efforts. This reminds me of last June/July, when we were all wondering if blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and Genealogy Wise were taking up too much of our research and family time.

This week I started following these blogs:

South Carolina Roots

Family History Writing

In Honor of My Ancestors


Meanderings and Wanderings

Our Scottish Heritage

Vermont Genealogy


Note added later: Gack! I misspelled Donna Pointkouski's last name but have now corrected it. This from someone whose first and last names (both of them) have so often been misspelled!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Memory Monday: Havin’ a Hissy Fit

It’s a Southern thing.

It’s the style: grand and dramatic.

My husband’s family, who are from Brooklyn, yell at one another. It’s called “discussion.”

My family, however, had hissy fits. Explosive outbursts. Extreme overstatement. Stormy exits. They were not, thank God, frequent. They sort of lose their effect if overused.

The most likely pretext for these outbursts was usually some minor slight: going a little too far with teasing, praising someone else a bit too much, not showing enough appreciation for a gift.

I cannot remember many details of the hissy fits in my own family, mostly just the poses that were struck: chin up, lower lip out, arms folded.

More vivid are the memories of the stories of these volcanic eruptions from my mother’s family. Or, more specifically, my mother’s mother’s side of the family, the Floyds. The men took after the Moore side: reticent. There was an uncle who did leave without saying goodbye, and was not seen again for some years. But he did not leave in a huff. He simply hated good-byes. He said he was going down to the corner to buy some cigarettes. And then years later: “Howdy.”

But apparently the Floyds were masters of the tongue-lashing and high-pitched hysterics. Or that’s what I heard. I even heard that my Grandma Eula – my sweet little Grandma – could blister your ears when she let loose.

On my Dad’s side, it was the Brinlees who were the experts of the stormy stomp-off. My Uncle Bill told me the following story about my father:

“One summer when Varnell was 14 years old, he went into Bonham [Texas] to get his driver’s license, but they wouldn’t give it to him because he was too young. It made him so mad that he hitchhiked out of town and all the way to Washington state. He spent the whole summer there working in the wheat fields.”

I had never heard this story before, but it didn’t surprise me.

Couldn't have done it any better, myself.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Online Trees

I have been following the discussion of online trees at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings (“The Online Family Tree Conundrum”), Apple’s Tree (“My Abominable Online Tree” and “OBMFM”), and several other blogs with interest. This is a subject that, like the trees themselves, does not go away. It has been discussed before but, as Randy and Apple have noted, there are some new twists brought about by recent developments, such as the One Big Family Tree envisioned by FamilySearch and the (relatively) recent addition of the Member Connect feature whereby family trees on Ancestry are connected to document images (and thus also indirectly to one another). These developments make it difficult to simply “ignore” the trees. The following questions occur:

Is it worth it to post a Public Family Tree on Ancestry or any of the various other GEDCOM-hosting sites?

What are the pros and cons of using these family trees in various ways in research?

How can the various online trees ever be reconciled into what Randy terms the One Big Monster Family Tree?

Posting Online Trees

I do not post a tree on Ancestry. Why not and what are my alternatives? I do not see myself uploading a GEDCOM from my genealogy program to Ancestry or Rootsweb for several reasons. In addition to the regular data entry fields, I use the notes field for many different things: transcriptions of censuses, pension applications, tombstone inscriptions, wills, obituaries, and other documents, e-mail addresses of research contacts, research notes and outlines, leads, and more. And, like other researchers, I do not claim that every little branch of the tree that I have entered so far is picture perfect, or even good, yet. There was that little matter of the grandfather, father, and son with the same name that I entered under incorrect parents, then tried to merge people instead of detaching and reattaching correctly and …. it wasn’t very pretty. It still isn’t. And some stuff I am just playing around and experimenting with and don’t want to share, yet. I know I could enter things the old-fashioned way, but I don’t have enough time to do that plus regular research and entry and oh yeah, write my blog, too.

However, I have chosen an alternative way to share a lot of my information: on my blog. I provide the basic outlines of family groups, sometimes with a bit of additional information, and an invitation to contact me for more. OK, so it’s your basic cousin bait.

And this “cousin bait” is just as susceptible to “click and claim” as other online trees are. At the same time, it is a bit more under my control. Not only can I easily go back to make changes in the original post, I can add a new post explaining and correcting previous mistakes. And in the original post I point out where information gaps exist or any uncertainty I have about the accuracy of certain information.

Using Online Trees

When I’m in “genealogist as detective” mode, I view online trees as the “tip line”: idiosyncratic, often highly unreliable, but capable of producing information gems and genuine leads.

How have I used them?

- For contacting other researchers. I did this for my Norman family and ended up with several goldmines’ worth of information and pictures. And I shared some of my own information and pictures.

- Touching (checking) all the bases. Just as Apple has noted that the “shaky leaf” has occasionally led her to a document of which she had been unaware, I have sometimes been led to other documents when I found trees listed on census pages.

- And here’s my favorite: whittling down a list of candidate families for my brick wall. The detailed information on a couple of Smith families in Tennessee enabled me to conclude that they could not be the family my great-grandmother Lizzie Smith Brinlee.

Not Using Online Trees

The best line I have heard so far comes from Randy Seaver in “The Online Family Trees Conundrum”: “I love online family trees, and I hate online family trees – often in the same moment in time.”

Though I’m disappointed when I find “bad information,” I’m no longer irritated. Sifting through the dross to get the gold and all that. They do make it somewhat difficult to discuss certain family lines: “But they’re shown as the parents in 24 trees – that other guy, the one you like, only shows up in 2, there’s hardly any information for him, and my guy has an entire line stretching back to some 13th-century dude in England.”

The Future of OBMFT

Randy asks: “What do you think? Are WeRelate and New FamilySearch on the right track here? Will all of this lead to a One Big Monster Family Tree (OBMFT)? Who will be the first company or organization to "get it right" with the right combination of collaboration, arbitration, judgment, and presentation?”

Apple asks: “Are we as a group ready for OBMFT? Are we ready to freely share all of the information that we've worked for years to gather? Will we share all of the pictures that we treasure, knowing that they will be there and free for the taking? Will we be willing to spend the time it will take to make all of the information consistent? What about putting in the hours to upload our documents and pictures? Or will we just dump our gedcoms and walk away, leaving to others to clean them up?”

Hmmm. Getting people to collaborate and share; getting it all properly coordinated and arbitrated.

Good luck with that.

Surname Saturday: Family of Joseph James Norman and Martha King

Joseph James Norman
b. 1 May 1861, Alabama
d. 12 Jun 1924, Lamasco, Fannin, Texas
& Martha King
b. 5 Sep 1865, Arkansas
d. 3 Jun 1949, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|--Letha Christian Norman
|----b. 28 Jan 1883, Arkansas
|----d. 17 Nov 1958, Snyder, Scurry, Texas
|---& Maron Don Clement
|----b. 28 Sep 1876, Texas
|----d. 22 May 1967, Precinct 1, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|----m. Jun 1898
|--Emma E. Norman
|----b. Feb 1885, Arkansas
|--Joel Thomas Norman
|----b. 15 Apr 1887, Pike, Arkansas
|----d. 14 Aug 1959, Sherman, Grayson Co., TX
|---& Linda Ellen/Helen Jones
|----b. 1 Oct 1894, Missouri
|----d. 6 Jun 1983
|--Mary Cordelia Norman
|----b. 12 Sep 1889, Arkansas
|----d. 1978
|---& Joseph Riley Williams
|----b. 12 Nov 1887, Beebe, Arkansas
|----d. 11 Apr 1952, Denison, Grayson Co., Texas
|----James Alford Norman
|----b. 26 Jan 1892, Arkansas
|----d. 1962, Houston, Harris County, Texas
|---& Tennie Moody
|---b. Jan 1893, Texas
|--Rebecca Norman
|----b. Aug 1894, Arkansas
|--Sallie/Dolley L. Norman
|----b. Dec 1896, Arkansas
|--Ola M. Norman
|----b. Apr 1900, Arkansas
|--Joseph Madison Carroll Norman
|----b. 17 May 1903, Texas
|----d. 11 Oct 1970, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|---& Susie Lee Martin
|----b. 7 Sep 1908, Fannin Co., Texas
|----d. 5 Jan 1969, Tyler, Smith, Texas
|--Betsey Norman
|----b. 1905, Texas
|--Wylie Norman
|----b. 1907, Texas

Joseph James Norman, a son of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk, was my great-grandfather William Henry Norman’s brother. This family also ended up in Texas, but based on the states of birth of the children, somewhat later than the other Norman families who ended up in Texas – some time between 1900 and 1903.

There are quite a few gaps in my information, mostly that I do not know what happened to a number of the children. I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Follow Friday: 14 May 2010

No blog review this week; Daughter #1 is home from college and we are having some family time!

This Week

At Roots’n’Leaves, Joan writes about some special memories brought up by a Findagrave photo request in “Sentimental Sunday: A Woman Called Nana (Eva Philpott).”

Gale Wall at Digital Cemetery Walk tells about some interesting projects that her connections with local cemetries have brought her way in “On Assignment.”

Randy Seaver addresses “The Online Family Trees Conundrum” at Genea-Musings. The problem that won’t go away.

This topic is developed from another point of view by Apple at Apple’s Tree in “My Abominable Online Tree” and “OBMFM.”

Leah at The Internet Genealogist gives the various genealogy subscription services she uses a grade at “Subscription Services Report Card.”

Bart Brenner (“GeneaPopPop”) of Stardust’n’Roots is back to blogging after recovering from surgery. Welcome back, Bart!

This week I started following these new blogs:

My Family Research Adventures
Call Me Shell
Angie’s Roots Are Showing
Hanging from the Family Tree

Monday, May 10, 2010

Memory Monday: Cousins to Play With

As children, siblings often do not get along well. As children, friends are BFFs one day and fighting and having spats the next day. But cousins of the same age are your buddies, reliable playmates to while away the time with while the grownups engage in endless recountings of those tiresome family stories. Or at least that was my experience with my cousins when I was a child.

Of course, on my mother’s side of the family, I was down there in the “baby ghetto” of the Moore cousins, which consisted of the three youngest. And the other two were boys. But that didn’t matter. I could play with dolls or I could be a tomboy, so having Fred and Tim to play with was fun in any event. Fred was about nine months older than I was, and Tim was almost exactly a year younger. Perfect.

The problem was, Fred was in Texas and Tim and I were in California, so we never got a chance for all three of us to play together. Two of the most popular “Moore family stories,” however, involved accounts of Tim and me playing with Fred on different occasions. One dated to baby-toddler days, when Mom and Dad and I lived in Texas for a few months. My older brother Don and Fred’s older sister Tootsie were the same age (Don, who was eight years older than I, was lucky – there was a whole passel of Moore cousins near his age). As the story went, Don and Tootsie decided they would “entertain” us babies (Fred and me) by putting us in a wagon and then pulling the wagon behind them as fast as they could run. This was in the 1950s, so no seat belts or helmets for us. And we were apparently quite a sight, bouncing around in the wagon with our tongues hanging out in baby-joy.

The other story dealt with Fred’s efforts to teach Tim to “talk Texan.” All of our parents retained their Texas accents to some degree or another, even those who had lived in California for a good 20 years. But the California cousins had no trace of the accent, unlike our handful of Texas cousins.

Fred knew that Tim would love to be cool like a Texan, so he took it upon himself to teach him the lingo. But it did not come naturally; when Tim slipped into our sissy Southern Californian accent, Fred had to correct him: “No, no, it’s not ‘I think.’ Repeat after me: ‘Ah thank.’”

One of the “adventures” I remember with Tim also involved our next oldest cousin, Tim’s sister Sheri, one of the few older cousins who would ever deign to notice us. Once our two families went out to Uncle Pete’s and Aunt Johnny’s house in the mountains, and the three of us got to sleep on a mattress on the floor in the upstairs room. The problem was that we simply found one another to be too funny; we cracked ourselves up. We could not settle down and go to sleep. Several times Uncle Pete had to come up and warn us to be quiet, and the last time the threat must have been a doozie, because we actually did.

Because there were 11 kids in my mother’s family, there was a good stretch of ages from the oldest to youngest siblings, and Moore cousins started getting born a good 20 years before I was born. So many of the older cousins were adults with children of their own by the time the “baby cousins” came along, and the older cousins’ children were the playmates of a few of the younger cousins. Twelve years after Tim was born, the final Moore cousin was born when Mom’s long-time bachelor brother finally got married and his wife gave birth to a daughter. Now adolescents, Fred, Tim, and I – at long last – were no longer the “babies.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Matrilineal Line

Over at Genea-Musings Randy Seaver’s latest Saturday Night Fun assignment is:

1) List your matrilineal line - your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

On short notice, since some of these ladies are not yet entered into my database, here is what I came up with:

Grace Madeline Moore (1917 TX -1987 TX)
Eula Amanda Floyd (1883 TX -1972 CA) m. Kirby Runion Moore
Angeline Elizabeth Matlock (1847 KY -1916 TX) m. Charles Augustus Floyd
Nancy Malvina Harris (1827 KY – 1862 TX) m. Absalom Matlock
Martha E. Skiles (1805 KY-1861 TX) m. Thomas Highsmith Harris
Elizabeth Hamilton (1785 VA -1845 KY) m. Henry Skiles III
Isabel Clemons (1751 VA – 1846 VA) m. William Hamilton
Mary Campbell (ca 1706 Northern Ireland – bef 1759 VA) m. Jacob Clemons
Sarah Gay m. William Campbell

(Not too sure about the last two. Mary looks kind of old to be Isabel's mother.)

I have not yet had my mitochondrial DNA tested, but I would like to. Recently I’ve been reading Bryan Sykes’ Saxons, Vikings, and Celts and his maps of the maternal clans of the British Isles are interesting.

Surname Saturday: Thomas Wiley Huff and Leatha Norman Family

Thomas Wiley Huff
b. 29 Mar 1861, Alabama
d. 21 May 1931
& Leatha L. Norman
b. 3 Sep 1859, Alabama
d. 27 Sep 1909
m. 12 May 1879, Cave Springs, GA
|--Mary Emmer Huff
|----b. 10 Oct 1880, Savoy, Texas
|----d. 6 Feb 1967, Tulsa, Oklahoma
|---& John William Barrett
|----b. 17 Oct 1872
|----d. 21 Feb 1946
|----m. 26 Jan 1895, Trenton, Fannin, Texas
|--Thomas Joseph Huff
|----b. 15 Jul 1882, Texas
|----d. 9 Mar 1931, Seymour, Baylor, Texas
|---& Myrtle May Carter
|----b. 1 Sep 1888
|----d. 29 Jun 1959, Borger, Hutchinson, Texas
|----m. 29 Oct 1905
|--Charlie Wright Huff
|----b. 29 Jan 1885
|----d. 4 Mar 1895
|--William Franklin Huff
|----b. 16 Nov 1886, Trinity, Texas
|----d. 12 Mar 1919, Baylor Co., Texas
|---& Emerit Lillian Thurman
|----b. 11 Feb 1884
|----d. 5 Apr 1962, Wichita Falls, Texas
|----m. 16 Jan 1906
|--John Carl Huff
|----b. 4 Mar 1889
|----d. 30 Nov 1964, Seymour, Baylor, Texas
|--James Henry Huff
|----b. 16 Dec 1891
|----d. 3 Sep 1896
|--Benjamin Wylie Huff*
|----b. 3 Mar 1894, Trenton, Fannin, Texas
|----d. 17 May 1972, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|---& Eula May Houch
|----m. 6 Jun 1915
|--Benjamin Wylie Huff*
|----b. 3 Mar 1894, Trenton, Fannin, Texas
|----d. 17 May 1972, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|---& Cora
|----b. 6 Nov 1904
|----d. 29 Jun 1996, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|--Rebecca Valadie Huff
|----b. 19 Feb 1896, Texas
|----d. 13 Aug 1952, Jones, Texas
|---& Chester Lee Thurman
|----b. 8 Mar 1890, Sidney, Comanche, Texas
|----d. 22 Jul 1974, Anson, Jones, Texas
|----m. 1919
|--Leatha Annie Huff
|----b. 3 Jun 1898, Texas
|----d. 9 Nov 1984, Orange, California
|---& Huiet Herbert Williams
|----b. 25 May 1897, Texas
|----d. 23 Mar 1989, Los Angeles, California
|----m. 27 Aug 1916
|--Officer Harris Huff
|----b. 13 Jan 1901, Anson, Texas
|---- d. 19 Jul 1910

This is the family of Thomas Wiley Huff and Leatha Norman, who was the sister – and I believe that she was the younger sister – of my great-grandfather William Henry “Jack” Norman. Like Jack Norman, they appear to have ended up in Texas. As a matter of fact, it seems that they were the first to go out to Texas, because they appear on the 1880 census in Grayson County, Texas, whereas the rest of the family apparently came a year or two later.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday: 7 May 2010


Only a little bit of direct research was done this week, but I have been making research plans for the summer months leading up to the FGS Conference.


I am getting close to the end of the research I had planned for this stage of Norman research, but I am going to take a break soon so that I can get going on my Lizzie Smith brick wall before I go to Knoxville in August.


Here is what I plan to do for Lizzie Smith by August:

Put together a map, online and/or on paper, of locations in Tennessee where my top Smith candidate families lived. A couple of purposes for this: to see which families lived in or near the Knoxville area (said to be Lizzie’s birthplace; I do not know whether this is accurate) and see which lived closest to McMinn County, where the Bonner-Smith marriage of interest took place.

Recheck these families in the censuses – more Member Connect information may have appeared since I last checked, since that was just starting to show up when I made the big list of families. A couple of the earlier Member Connect entries helped me rule out a couple of families.

Start seriously locating online newspaper archives in the areas where Lizzie lived; this means focusing on the “known” part of her life (1891 forward).


May be putting together a Brinlee researcher mailing list.


Received my Collin County Genealogical Society Membership – Now I can access at least some Collin Co. Chronicles; will start checking through these for Brinlee (and Lizzie Smith Brinlee) information.

Still working on my registration form for the FGS Conference.
NGS is in Charleston, South Carolina next year. That would be so much fun.

Follow Friday: Into the Light

Renate’s blog Into the Light is an engaging illustration of the genealogy blog as chronicle of a journey. There is both struggle and poetry in that journey. The focus is on both researching family history and living family history, and how those two processes intertwine – discovery begets understanding. One of my favorite recent posts in this vein was “Sentimental Sundays – Sentimental Journeys” on family events of special significance.

Renate’s posts on her family members and ancestors are fully fleshed-out portraits rather than dry recitations of statistics and events (though Renate can do a mean timeline: check out “Calvin R. Yarborough – Where it all began”). Her entry in the Carnival of African-American Genealogy – Grandma’s Hands, “Grandmothers and Their Influence on the Family,” was insightful and gave a full description of the lives of these ladies, and there were links to even more information in other articles such as “Fearless Female – Anna G. Yarborough.” I was inspired to take stock of my knowledge of my own grandmothers: could I say that I knew this much about my own grandmothers? The answer was no, and I resolved then and there to rectify that situation. So if I were to make a list genealogy blogs that have inspired and influenced me, Into the Light would definitely be on it.

This Week

At The Research Journal, YourIslandRoutes (sorry, I do not know the blogger’s name) writes about “My First Genealogy Teacher.” Great subject, and I think it would be interesting to hear from others on it.

Elyse at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog ask a question many of us have asked ourselves: “Are Genealogists Mean to Lack Answers?” I’ve often wondered if it isn’t those missed opportunities – not asking questions of older relatives when they were still around – that gives special urgency to “finding the answers” in genealogy.

In “Miss Conduct” footnoteMaven addresses the recent discussion of the pluses and minuses of a Code of Conduct for Genea-Bloggers.

For another take on the subject, check out Chris’s “A Contrary Code of Conduct” at The Genealogue.

Daniel Hubbard at Personal Past Meditations – A Genealogical Blog delves into a fascinating subject – math and genealogy (including pedigree collapse) – in “A Genealogist in Mathmagic Land.”

There were also quite a few great posts this week by bloggers who attended the NGS Conference in Salt Lake City. Wish I had been there to meet you all!

This week I started following these blogs:

Wild Rhododendrons: A Family History

Family Tree Circles Blog

Forks in My Trees

Genealogy Geek

Granny & Gramp’s Place

Jirene’s Genealogy Tips

Restored Memories

Southern Greens

Sunny Ancestry

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Leah’s Already Bucketed List

Leah Kleylein at Random Notes came up with a really neat idea in today’s post, and it’s good enough to steal: in trying to come up with her own “Bucket List,” it occurred to her that she has already done some bucket-worthy things, which inspires her with a sense of gratitude. Today in particular this struck a sympathetic chord with me.

Sometimes I can be a bit of a whiner/griper/see-the-dark-cloud-around-the-silver-lining type of person. Today I was shaken out of this attitude by two things. First, at dinner my daughter was looking out the back window when something made her sit up and say: “Mom, Dad, look at the bird at the feeder.” When I first looked I thought it was one of our usual visitors, a downy woodpecker. But when he turned around, we saw that he had a brilliant red triangle on his breast – it was a rose-breasted grosbeak. Now this is not a rare bird, but we had never seen one in our yard before. He came back to the feeder several times, and I believe Mrs. Grosbeak visited it, too. This made my day.

Then, when I checked my e-mail, there were a couple of e-mails from cousins with old family pictures attached. That is always a day-brightener!

Then I saw Leah’s list. “Yeah, she’s absolutely right!”

So, in response to Leah’s list, here’s a stab at mine, with experiences that closely parallel Leah’s listed first (do check hers out first, however!):

- Took an overnight train ride in a sleeping compartment on a Russian train. The birch trees in Karelia were beautiful.

- Visited the tomb of Robert the Bruce with my husband on our honeymoon. Visited the tombs of Russian tsars, composers, and writers at Novodevichi and Aleksandr Nevskiy Lavra (the Graveyard Rabbit thing had already started...).

- Visited Disneyland as a child. (But I’ve never been to Disneyworld. Oops, I said I wasn’t going to whine.)

- Smelled the divine fragrance of the white rose of York at Shelby Abbey in north England.

- Saw Silbury Hill.

- Saw Westminster Abbey and Yorkminster.

- Saw a baby being born.

- Visited Mount Auburn Cemetery; saw birds, flowers, people, graves. Thought I was in heaven.

- Went to a real drive-in theater. Also to an inside theater in small-town Texas that could have been the model for The Last Picture Show.

- Saw Carlsbad Caverns, Luray Caverns, and a couple of others.

- Had close calls with altitude sickness on Big Bear Mountain in Southern California and the Rampart Range in Colorado.

- Saw Saint Petersburg at midnight during the White Nights of summer while taking a boat ride on the canals. My friends and I spent a summer gorging ourselves on Russian art, opera, and ballet at the Hermitage and Kirov Theater.

- Grew vegetables from seed.

- Helped my Uncle Leroy feed the cows and my Grandma Brinlee churn butter.

- Drank mead in a tower in Novogorod. OK, the mead was awful, but the singing Aussies at the next table over were really funny!

- Ate cabbage on Dingle Peninsula and haggis on the Isle of Skye.

- Had a guinea pig tell my fortune in Sofia, Bulgaria.

- Saw New York City from the top of one of the World Trade Center towers.

- Saw Tom Baker (my favorite Dr. Who) in a play in London.

- Saw Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan in Private Lives in New York.

- Met the real Santa.

Absolutely time to stop whining….

Thank you, Leah!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Surname Saturday: Family of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk

Joseph Madison Carroll Norman
b. 8 Jun 1833, Alabama
d. 1 Apr 1901, Arkansas
& Rebecca Monk
b. 1837, Alabama
m. 4 Dec 1851, Talladega, Alabama
|--Cyntha Ann Norman
|----b. 1856, Alabama
|--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
|--Leatha L. Norman
|----b. 3 Sep 1859, Alabama
|----d. 27 Sep 1909
|---& Thomas Wiley Huff
|----b. 29 Mar 1861, Alabama
|----d. 21 May 1931
|----m. 12 May 1879, Cave Springs, GA
|--Josephus James “J. J.”/”Joe”/”Jode” Norman
|----b. 1 May 1861, Alabama
|----d. 12 Jun 1924, Lamasco, Fannin, Texas
|---& Martha King
|----b. 5 Sep 1865, Arkansas
|----d. 3 Jun 1949, Bonham, Fannin Co., TX
|--Thomas Frank Norman
|----b. 1862, Alabama
|----d. ca 1912, Texas
|---& Letha/Lillie Brown
|----b. Oct 1873, Texas
|----d. ca 1906, Texas
|--Betsy Norman
|--Infant Norman

This is the family of my great-great grandparents, Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk, Joseph’s first wife. The list of children is based on Inez Cline’s History of the Norman Family (which is based on extensive interviews of family members as well as document-based research) and censuses. Betsy and a child who died in infancy do not appear on the censuses. I believe my great-grandfather William Henry Norman’s date of birth is given incorrectly on a number of sources and that he was likely born in 1858, rather than 1859 as many sources indicate. The 1860 census shows him as being two years old and he is listed before his sister Letha (who is often listed as the older child).

I do not know what happened to Cyntha Ann. She may be the “Nancy” listed in Inez Cline’s History. She appears as “E.” (age 4) on the 1860 census (which would seem more likely to be Betsy) and as “Cyntha Ann” (age 14) on the 1870 census.

The 1850 census for Talladega County, Alabama lists Rebecca’s parents as Silas Monk (age 40, born in Georgia, Primitive Baptist Minister) and Nance Monk (age 41, born North Carolina). Rebecca Monk died sometime between 1862, when her youngest child Thomas Frank was born, and 1864, when Joseph Norman married his second wife, Mary Patterson.

Joseph Norman, his third wife Mary Frances Karr Norman, and a number of the children moved to Pike County, Arkansas in the early 1880s (based on the state of birth of the children), from there to Grayson and Fannin Counties Texas, and then back to Arkansas, this time Garland County, by 1895. All four of Joseph and Rebecca’s surviving children appear to have remained in Texas.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).