Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My New Year’s Genealogy Research and Blogging Resolutions

Carnival of Genealogy, 63rd Edition: What plans do you have for your genealogy research next year? How about for your blogging? No groaning or whining now. Write 'em up and let us know!

I wanted to have some sort of exciting goal or resolution for next year, but as I reviewed my research this year, it became apparent that I had been a bad girl, Dear Genea-Santa – oh, wait, wrong Carnival. There was too much collection and not enough assimilation of the collected materials. Therefore, my number one genealogy-related resolution – boring and pathetic as it is – is to TRANSCRIBE MORE MATERIALS. If I made a list of all the documents I need to transcribe and if I had any verse-writing talent at all (that’s an awfully big “if”), I could probably produce a list that could be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”: 300 newspaper articles, a dozen Civil War service records, two Confederate Pension applications, 50+ obituaries, and hundreds of death certificates. (Not to mention a few birth certificates, marriage licenses, funeral cards, and letters.) A serious dent needs to be put in this pile before I add anything to it (and being the packrat that most genealogists are, I am of course contemplating doing just that in the near future). The exciting “search” part of genealogy needs to be balanced by the tedious “housekeeping” part. Of course, there’s nothing that says I won’t discover something important and exciting in the course of scanning, organizing, and transcribing materials. So I’ll get to it – on January 2nd, 2009.

My blogging resolution? To become more technically proficient at blogging. On a scale of 0 to 10, I’m probably at 0+ right now. However, with the help of sites such as the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers (see link at left), I’m getting better bit by bit, although the different ways for following blogs and getting feeds have me a bit dazed. So any efforts to educate me are welcome: Just what exactly do all those widgets and feeds do?

Blogging/Genealogy Resolution added at a late date:

I usually refrain from making overly ambitious resolutions, so I am not going to make one of the big genealogy resolutions – writing down the story of my life for my own descendants. That’s just too large an undertaking. However, I can cut that resolution down to size: I resolve to do the job in small bites, a memory at a time. To that end I am going to aim at committing one memory a week to paper and if I succeed in doing that, it will show up on the blog for “Memory Monday.”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Brick Wall: Susan Elizabeth Smith Bonner Brinlee

(Warning: The following post is rather long. This is my “special” brick wall, so I am attempting to include as much information as possible, and I welcome any and all advice on how to break through this brick wall.)

All genealogy researchers have many brick walls, of course, in the sense that each family line hits a brick wall at some point, whether earlier or later, but the definition of this term, in the way it is generally used, appears to include an element of selection. That is, not every “dead end” ancestor inspires the researcher with the same strong desire to learn more about that person and find his or her family. The number of persons in a family tree who might be considered brick walls varies from researcher to researcher; among that group there is often one person in particular who has a special claim to the title of “brick wall.”

When I first got hooked on genealogy – meaning that I knew this was going to go beyond a few Internet searches based on idle curiosity – I set myself a very modest goal based on my appalling, near total ignorance of my family tree: I just wanted to know who all of my great-grandparents were. Within the space of a year, I had found all eight of them, and for seven out of the eight, I knew who their parents were, as well.

The eighth great-grandparent is my “special” brick wall: Susan Elizabeth Smith Bonner Brinlee. I will set forth what little information I am aware of, and none of this information can be taken as absolutely reliable. Among Brinlee researchers there are different theories and versions of the facts, so I can only cite what little evidence there is.

Name: It is generally believed that her maiden name was Susan Elizabeth Smith and that prior to her marriage to my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee Jr. she had married a man named Bonner, who died young. She appears to have gone by the nickname “Lizzie.” I have found death certificates for three of her four known children: Lawrence Carroll Brinlee (my grandfather), Austin Franklin Brinlee, and Cordelia Brinlee Clinton. Austin’s death certificate indicates that her maiden name was Susan E. Smith, Cordelia’s says it was Lizzie Smith, and only my grandfather’s death certificate indicates a serious variation from these two: Elizabeth Baker. However, the informant on my grandfather’s death certificate was my grandmother, Sallie Norman Brinlee, and I believe her recall of Lizzie’s last name was less reliable because Lizzie lived with Austin’s and Odell’s families in later years; Baker may have been my grandmother’s attempt to recall the name Bonner.

The earliest document I know of on which Lizzie’s name and age appear is the Marriage License for her and Hiram Brinlee, and on that document her name is given as Mrs. S. L. Bonner. Another document with her name is her Confederate Widow’s Application for a Pension; there and in appended documents her name is given as Mrs. Susan Elizabeth Brinlee, Susan E. Lizzie Brinlee, and Mrs. S. L. Brinlee, and she herself signs one note “Susan E. Brinlee.”

Age: This is the area with the largest amount of conflicting information, and though most researchers agree on some time around 1868 for her date of birth, that agreement is not universal. The aforementioned marriage license, which was dated 1 Dec 1892, indicates that she was 23 years old at that time. According to a Post-It left on a WorldConnect genealogy for the Brinlees by a second cousin, Lizzie’s Bible lists her date of birth as April 4, 1856. If this is true, her age at her death on 7 September 1958 would have been 102. Perhaps the year was misread or was entered later in her life when she may have forgotten the actual year of her birth, but I believe various pieces of evidence indicate that 1856 is too early for Lizzie’s year of birth.

For one thing, Lizzie’s youngest known child, Cecil Odell Brinlee, was born in 1908. If Lizzie was born in 1856, she would have been 51 or 52 when Odell was born – possible, but not very likely. Unfortunately, Lizzie does not appear with Hiram on the 1900 census, which could have been a good corroborating source to use with the marriage license. Hiram is shown only with his son from his previous marriage, Louis, and a hired hand. Perhaps Lizzie and the children were living elsewhere, but so far I have not been able to find them and I suspect that Hiram simply spoke with the census taker outside the house and for whatever reason did not care to provide information on the rest of the family.

Lizzie first appears on the census in 1910 (dated 4 May 1910), where her age is given as 41, and the 1920 census (dated 30 Jan 1920) is consistent with this, giving her age as 50. By 1930 (21 Apr 1930), however, the advanced age of 73 is claimed for her. Information provided by her on her Confederate Widow’s Pension Application may shed a little bit of light on this. On that document, dated 27 July 1925, she gives her age as 68, and this is consistent with the 73 on the 1930 census. However, there is a note written by Lizzie that is appended to the application (the date is September 10th, and the year as written could be 1929 or 1924) in which she writes: “i have lost my correct age i am somewhere in 60 i am not 75.” So she may have been losing track of her actual age by this time. No disrespect intended (and her note does indicate that she is trying to be honest), but I have seen a few ancestors age on these applications (there was a minimum age requirement).

Lizzie’s death certificate gives her date of birth (provided by son C. O. Brinlee) as 4 April 1860 and the age cited in her obituary (Plano Star Courier, 31 July 1958) gives her age at death as 98. This is a bit more plausible than 1856, but I still think 1860 is at least a few years too early. I have a copy of a photograph that must have been taken sometime around 1916-1920, based on the appearance of her sons Austin and Odell, and from that photograph I do not think she could have been much over 50.

Place of birth of Lizzie and her parents: All three censuses on which Lizzie is known to appear indicate that she was born in Tennessee; that state also appears on her death certificate and obituary, as well as on the death certificate of her son Lawrence. Knoxville County has been cited as the county in which she was born, but I do not know what the source for this is. The 1910 and 1920 censuses give North Carolina as the state of her parents’ birth; 1930 gives Tennessee. It is still too early to make any assumptions based on this information.

Earlier life, possible avenues of research, and why Lizzie is the brick wall ancestor about whom I most want to know more: The reports of an earlier marriage appear to be true. The 1910 census indicates that she has been married more than once, and the 1930 census indicates that she was 17 at the time of her first marriage. I am not sure whether there are other sources for the name of her first husband, but her name does appear to be “Bonner” on the marriage license, although it looks as though “Brinlee” was entered first and “Bonner” was then written over it, so I cannot be quite sure. For some reason, in my computer folder for her and Hiram I have a separate document with a single cryptic sentence on it: “A Lizzie Smith married a W. T. Banner in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1886 – would this be the “Bonner” that we have been looking for?” If she was married at age 17 and was born in around 1868, 1886 would fit as a year of marriage. (Note to self – must put source of information on all notes!)

Some people believe that Lizzie had children with Mr. Bonner and some do not. According to the 1910 census, she had given birth to 7 children, of whom 4 were still living. Those four were my grandfather and his siblings, but it is not clear if any or all of the remaining three were Hiram’s or Mr. Bonner’s children. The years of birth for my grandfather and his siblings are 1893, 1895, 1904, and 1908. There is definitely a large enough gap for three more children from her marriage to Hiram. I am guessing that she married Mr. Bonner in Tennessee in around 1885-1886, that they came to Oklahoma for the land rush in 1889, and that he died some time shortly after that. Other scenarios are possible, but this would probably be the simplest explanation for a girl from Tennessee ending up a widow in Oklahoma. These time frames would also be sufficient for Lizzie to have had one or more children with Mr. Bonner.

Why am I so intrigued with Lizzie Brinlee? It is not just that she is the only one of my great-grandparents for whom I have been unable to find a family. There are a number of scraps of information on her that make a compelling story. She was the only great-grandparent who was still alive when I was born. My Uncle Bill remembers her cooking for him when he was a young man getting ready to join the Navy. There are stories that she was at least part Native American, though there is nothing in the single photograph I have of her that gives any strong indication of that. One particularly tantalizing piece of information was provided in the above-mentioned Post-It left by my second cousin Kathy, whose grandmother Amy Kent Brinlee had said that Lizzie “was from Tennessee and had lived with a family that had taken her in to help work, where she washed dishes by standing on a bucket. Therefore, she had to have been fairly young.” Was she orphaned, or was her family reduced to sending her out to work because they were extremely poor? I love the challenge of Lizzie – by all accounts she was very modest and said very little about herself. Her maiden name, Smith, makes the challenge of finding her family all the more difficult.

Where to go from here: While I have picked out a few Tennessee Smith families as possible candidates, that is not where I should really start looking. I can ask my Texas relatives for more information, but at this point it does not appear that there is a great deal more to find out there. I believe I should probably start in Oklahoma, where Hiram and Lizzie met and married. Hiram and Lizzie were married at White Bead Hill, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory; Lizzie’s residence is also listed as White Bead Hill. By 1900, they were living in Britton Township, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Territory.

At the top of this post is a picture of Lizzie, Austin, Odell and, seated, Hiram Brinlee. Can anyone tell me anything more about Lizzie?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Getting Hooked on Genealogy, Part 2: Family Legends

From Part 1: “It all started with Google.”

I was trying to show a co-worker that I could google my maiden name, Brinlee, and could be fairly certain that anyone who showed up among the search results would be a relative by blood or marriage. What did I expect to see? Well, you know, other Brinlees.

And other Brinlees did show up, but not all of them were living Brinlees. In particular, there were two Hirams, Senior and Junior, and a George. And their identities and the stories of their lives would teach me a lesson … a fascinating lesson.

At this point I should confess: the seeds for an interest in family research were actually planted early on with me, it’s just that they didn’t germinate right away. Most of these seeds were family legends. The strange thing is that these legends did not get equal respect from me: Why did I absorb and believe the tales from my mother’s side of the family but sneer in skepticism at those from my father’s side?

I believe it has to do with the age at which I first heard these stories. I heard Mom’s stories when I was just a little kid of no more than 5 or 6. I used to beg Mom to “tell me about the Olden Days.” These stories included one about the great-grandfathers who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War and never spoke to one another again after the end of the War, even though their farms were located immediately next to one another. Another snippet passed on by Mom was: “Your (Our?) people from both sides came from South Carolina.”

But it was sometime during my teen years that I heard stories from my father’s side, the Brinlees: all of us Brinlees were related somehow to Collin McKinney, we had German blood and Native American blood in our lines, Grandma took up family research but got disgusted and gave it up when she kept finding horse thieves and other criminals. OK, maybe I believed the Native American part a little bit, because I wanted to and because so many Brinlees have straight dark hair and angular features. And the criminal part was believable, too, because Brinlees were, well, Brinlees. But the German part – I thought someone had gotten confused because one of my Brinlee uncles was married to a lady from Germany. And the McKinney connection? Must have been fantasy; no way we could be connected to this pioneer leader of Texas and one of the framers of the Texas declaration of Independence.

But that was exactly what my on-a-whim search turned up: The two brothers who adopted Brinlee as the spelling for the family name (apparently it was originally Brindley), Hiram Sr. and George, married two daughters of Daniel McKinney, brother of Collin McKinney. Daniel died in 1825, soon after the McKinneys came to Texas in 1824, and Collin and his wife raised the girls. Accompanying the McKinneys from Kentucky to Texas were the Brinlee brothers, who eventually married the girls. So everyone who has a family line spelled Brinlee is related to Collin McKinney. One of Hiram Carroll and Elizabeth Ann McKinney Brinlee’s sons was Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr., and one of his sons was Lawrence Carroll Brinlee, my grandfather. And it turns out that there is a German (Palatine German) connection through the McKinneys, too.

Finding the connection was fascinating, but even more fascinating was the way it forced me to rethink my opinion of the Brinlees. What other legends were true? I started to search for other information online on the Brinlees and McKinneys; there was quite a lot. Then I remembered that my cousin Paul had sent me some information on my mother’s mother’s side of the family, the Floyds – “A History of the Floyd Family” by Eunice Sandling – and that this history contained the outlines for a pretty good start on a family tree for the Floyds. If I could find this much information on the Brinlees, what might I find on the families on the Floyd side?

Getting Hooked on Genealogy, Part 1: My Third Anniversary in Genealogy

On September 1 of this year (or should I say 1 Sep 2008?) I celebrated my third anniversary in genealogy. Why didn’t I blog about it then? For most of the usual reasons – other pressing concerns left me with little time, and the significance of it for me merits more than a few hastily written lines. The actual date might have been September 2 – I’m not sure – but September 1 is a convenient day to remember. The first year I celebrated by subscribing to Ancestry and the second year I think I bought a couple of genealogy books. This year I didn’t do much, but I did start my genealogy blog in August, so that was a sort of celebration.

Why celebrate this anniversary? Some might ask whether that isn’t a silly anniversary to celebrate, but it is significant to me. It was much like starting (or perhaps I should say getting sucked into) a big adventure. Never could I have anticipated how stimulating and exciting I would find this “hobby” to be. Finding new relatives, solving mysteries, reconnecting with close relatives, and meeting distant relatives and other researchers are part of the attraction. My research has opened up a genuine interest in history, taught me a lot about research techniques that I never learned in college, and helped me to reach out to people I might otherwise never have met.

Many of my posts just present the results of my research in a straightforward way, but I also like to discuss how I found (or was led to) the information, much as I love to hear and read about how others do their research. Reading other blogs has been illuminating – not only have I learned a great deal about the “How” of genealogy, but also about the “Why” of genealogy. (This would be a great Carnival of Genealogy topic; it may have been done before, but since I am a newcomer, I can claim ignorance…) The two main themes behind the “Why” seem to be continuing a family tradition, that is, being surrounded by people interested in family history from childhood, and the chance encounter through surfing that leads to discoveries that leads to … well, you know what happens from there. I belong to the second group. As I recall how I got “sucked in,” it still seems a little bit incredible to me. It all started with Google.

[To be continued (in a multipost series, I hope).]

A Genealogy Christmas

The title of this post reminds me of “A Tuna Christmas,” one of our favorite Christmas traditions in the Koehl household, and on Christmas Eve my husband, daughters and I watched it once again. No matter how many times we have seen it, every viewing puts us into hopeless fits of laughter. I think of it as putting my children in touch with their Texas roots. My husband has met enough of my Texas friends and relatives to know which character corresponds to which of these friends or relatives. And those pathetic-looking Christmas trees look awfully familiar to me…

Oh, yes, the subject of this post – a genealogy Christmas. This has several meanings for me. For one thing, it is always nice to receive a genealogy-related Christmas present, and this year I was fortunate: my husband (with my help) bought me a genealogy book. Last year I helpfully gave him a wish-list of books from Southern Historical Press, but he was unable to get the online order form to work and it was too late to mail an order in. Then there are some of my favorite gifts from the past – my favorite coffee mug from my mother (chipped, but we were able to repair it), a three-bar cross pendant from my husband, hand-made picture frames from my daughters. There was an additional gift for me this Christmas that will have genealogy benefits - my youngest daughter got a new laptop computer to replace the family hand-me-down she has been using (handed down from dad to older daughter to younger daughter), so now I get the old laptop! It will no longer stay closed and is a bit creaky, but I don't care. Up to this point I have done all research on my Mac Mini in my upstairs office (formerly a bedroom, now my inner sanctum), but I do not like to hide away during prime "family time" hours. Now I can do what the rest of my family does in our family room - watch TV/read/do computer stuff while still talking to other family members. (Full disclosure - this is a family that reads at the table, which is considered a cardinal sin in some families. Our rule is that you can do it, but you have to be open to conversing and sharing with others seated at the table. Similarly, surfing/e-mailing/blogging can be done in the family room, but you are expected to talk and share with others.) So this year, I hope to be a more active blogger!

I also relate a genealogy Christmas to the pictures and letters people send to me in their Christmas cards. These are some of our best Christmas presents, and after I put away all the Christmas decorations and cards, I carefully put the photos in my albums and put the letters together with all the family records and keepsakes that I want to pass down to my children. One delightful and unexpected present this year came from our wonderful petsitter, who gave us picture frame magnets with pictures of our three cats that she must have taken one of the times that she took care of our cats for us.

Christmas is also a time I remember past Christmases and past family traditions, such as helping my mother make “boozy fruit cake” on the Friday after Thanksgiving, then following the ritual for keeping it moist and tasty, which was to carefully add a little bit of whiskey to it every two or three days until Christmas. My children are too old to go see Santa any more, but when they were little we took them to see the “real Santa” at our local garden center. He must be the real Santa – he always takes his time with each child, explaining and demonstrating the real meaning of Christmas for the children and their parents. His beautifully and imaginatively decorated Christmas workshop contains a large box for the children to bring presents that Santa will distribute to children in some of the poorest neighborhoods on Christmas Eve.

As someone who wants to preserve as much family history as possible for my children, I should devote much more attention to taking, organizing, and preserving pictures, and yet I cannot count how many “events” I have forgotten to bring my camera to; nor do we remember very often to take pictures on “ordinary” days. On Christmas, however, we always take pictures, so that’s another genealogical benefit of Christmas.

One of the best genealogy-related benefits of Christmas for our family is that it is one of the few times of the year that we really have some “down time”; that is both deliberate and built in to the way we celebrate Christmas. After preparing and eating Holy Supper (the final no-meat meal of the St. Phillip’s Fast) right after sundown, we attend midnight Liturgy at church on Christmas Eve and usually do not get home until 2:30 a.m. or later, so that we always sleep in rather late. After everyone has woken up, we graze on Christmas snacks and leftovers from Holy Supper (the mushroom-sauerkraut-barley soup will last at least a week), get our Christmas stockings, give the cats their presents from their stockings (usually catnip-related), call relatives, and slowly open our presents. The rest of the day is usually spent watching new videos, reading new books, and listening to new music. This gives me the time to do a little research or genealogy blogging. At first I felt a little strange about blogging on Christmas, but when I checked my readers for recent posts on some of the blogs I follow, I saw that a lot of people blog on Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tombstone of Hiram C. Brinlee

Above is a picture of the tombstone of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee. It reads as follows:

Hiram C. Brinlee
Capt. Mantua Co.
15 Texas BDE
Confederate States Army

I believe that there are at least two errors in it. The first is the date of birth, 1842. Online genealogies give two dates for Hiram Carroll Brinlee Jr.’s date of birth: 1842 (apparently from his gravestone) and 1844 (apparently from the Bessie Sims Sheppard article in Collin County, Texas, families). I tend to agree with the 1844 date; it is consistent with all but one of the censuses in which Hiram Brinlee, Jr. appears (16 in 1860, 25 in 1870, 35 in 1880, 65 in 1910, and 75 in 1920; on the 1850 census his age is given as 8). The 1900 census did not figure in my original calculations because at that point no one had been able to find him on the 1900 census. The 1844 year of birth would also make the story of the reason for termination of his first enlistment more plausible. If his service enlistment record is correct, he had turned 17 by the date of his enlistment on 10 Sep 1861. That record also indicates that he was discharged June 13 1862 at Camp Maury, Miss by the Conscript Act. The Conscript Act was passed on 13 Apr 1862; it exempted men under age 18 and over age 35 from service, but stipulated that those who qualified for this exemption at the time should continue to serve for an additional 3 months so that replacements could be found. This indicates that he had not turned 18 on 13 Apr 1862 and probably had still not turned 18 by 13 Jun 1862. The day of his birth probably came before the 10th of September in the year, but after 13 June.

Some months after making these calculations, I finally found Hiram on the 1900 census. I had searched both Texas and Oklahoma for him and tried Soundex, but the misspelling of his name still did not show up, so I looked for men named Hiram of the right age in both states and finally found Hiram C. Brinnee in Britton Township, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma Territory, age 55, born September 1844. So I think this gives a window of September 1 to September 10 1844 for his birth.

The other item which may be misinformation is the rank given on his tombstone, Captain. H. C. Brinlee indicated on his Confederate Pension Application that he had served for about 10 months in Company D, 6th Texas Cavalry, and then again later "under Gano about 1-1/2 years." The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System indicates that the second period of service was six months in the 3rd Regiment, Texas Infantry State Troops. He may have transferred into the 15th at the end of that service, but it does not show up anywhere that I can find so far. He was a private when he finished his first term, and I suspect he might have finished his second term at the same rank. Perhaps he was called "Captain" in later years. To get the full picture, I will have to do some searching in Footnote and find out more about these units.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


One of the unexpected and therefore all the more delightful aspects of genealogy for me has been the role played by maps in ancestor research. When I began my research, my expectations for the amount and specificity of the information I would find were very low. As I started to explore sites such as the GenWeb location-specific sites, the discovery of local maps made during the period my ancestors lived in the area and showing the location of the towns, farms, and other important sites was absolutely amazing. I hope to use these maps during future trips to locate the general areas where my ancestors' farms were situated.

Above is an 1877 map of the townships of Hopewell and Garvin in Anderson County, South Carolina found on a delightful webpage ( on Williamston, S.C. created by Wendy Campbell. The farm of my great-grandfather Harlston Perrin ("H.P.") Moore (and his father Spencer Moore before him) is located just above the "H" and "O" in Hopewell, near Twenty-Six Mile Creek. The timing was fortunate, as H.P. and Martha Moore moved from South Carolina to Texas in 1877. To enlarge the view, just click on the map.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting My Husband Interested in Genealogy

My husband Stuart is a historian. This is an ideal match for a spouse who is interested in genealogy. Before meeting my husband, I had only a slight interest in history, mostly in the history of Russia and Eastern Europe – not for genealogical reasons, because I have no known ancestors from these areas, but for professional reasons: I am a linguist who specializes in the languages of these areas. Stuart was able to make history come alive for me much more than dry, sanitized textbooks ever did, and got me interested in digging into the subject in a little more depth.

Taking up genealogy pushed that interest even farther, and I began to regret passing by opportunities to learn more history when I was younger. However, even though I included my husband’s side of the family in my research and would regularly report new and exciting (at least to me) discoveries on both sides of the family to him, his reactions were mostly of the affectionate and amused but condescending dismissal type. Until I started to get into the military service of various ancestors (I forgot to mention that my husband’s primary area of interest is military history.) I began to share research quandaries and results for ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II. At last he was interested – in my side of the family. His interest was sincere and concrete; he volunteered to look things up for me in his own resources or to ask friends he knew to be experts in a particular area, and on his way home from a business trip he even picked up an obscure unit history on the Civil War unit of one of my great-great uncles. In particular, he is very eager to find at least one of my ancestors who fought at Gettysburg. At one point we believed that we had found that ancestor, but it turned out that we were mistaking him for another man of the same name who served in a unit of nearly the same name. Now we are trying to sort out the service history of my great-great grandfather Joseph Madison Carroll Norman who, if he did fight in all of the units listed for him in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, most likely did fight at Gettysburg (there couldn’t be more than one Joseph Madison Carroll Norman from Alabama, could there?). Stuart even got interested in some of my ancestors who did not fight in any wars, including a distant cousin, a 50-year-old saleslady who was the victim of a grisly homicide (four gunshot wounds to the head and back).

I am working on getting Stuart interested in his own family as well. “I’m sure some of them also fought in wars or shot someone or got shot by someone.” I should mention that Stuart’s ancestors are from Germany, Italy, and Romania (Romanian Jews) and the earliest any of them apparently came to this country would have been some time around the 1850s. I really cannot understand why he thinks that they will not be found to have led interesting lives. Before I got hooked on genealogy, I believed that my ancestors were just parts of long lines of poor farmers and laborers who had most likely never done anything out of the ordinary in their lives. Not only has genealogy taught me the opposite, but some of my favorite families are … poor farmers who led modest lives. Now, if I could just find something grisly, gruesome, or shocking about Stuart’s ancestors….

Name These People

I was going to entitle this post “Orphan Photo,” but I realized that that refers to a photograph which has somehow been separated from its original owner, with the result that the person currently in possession of it does not know the identities of the people in the picture. The photograph I am posting here has an owner – me – and I can identify several people in it. However, there are five people whom I do not know, and I would love to learn their identities.

Here are the people from left to right:

Clarice Moore Howry, Clarence “Buddy” Howry, Irene Moore Rainwater, Howard “Dock” Roberts, Madeline Moore Roberts, unknown woman with two unknown children, Albert “Ab” Moore, Frances Latham Moore, two unknown people.

Is there anyone out there who can help me solve this mystery?

Christmas Letters

Christmas Letters

The topic of this post is a somewhat loaded subject: the tradition of the annual Christmas letter is despised, ridiculed, and parodied by many – not without considerable justification – yet it persists. In fact, a few years ago, I succumbed and started the tradition in our own family. Now why would I do that and expose myself to ridicule?

There are several reasons. We had received a number of these from friends and family over the years and – surprise! – with the exception of perhaps one (and it was from someone that we are not really closely connected to by family relationship or friendship), they were all interesting (a lot of news we had not heard), well written, and even really funny. Bragging was kept to a minimum – OK, there was some subtle bragging, but nothing crass and over the top. And the bragging was mostly limited to children/grandchildren, which is legitimate, because bragging about children is one of the big reasons for having children, right? As a matter of fact, these letters and the Christmas cards that contain any significant amount of news, as well as any pictures sent with the cards, are like “mini-presents” to me, something I keep and cherish and look forward to every Christmas.

However, that in itself was not enough to tempt me to the dark side. I did not trust my writing skills or ability to avoid being obnoxiously smug over the accomplishments of my children, so I refrained for some years. I finally hit the wall one year, however – I must have been writing perhaps the 35th card, late at night, and trying for the 35th time to tailor the remarks in the card to the addressees – news they would be interested in but might not know and inquiries about what was going on in their lives. My hand and brain were cramping. On the table I had a pile of cards, pictures, and letters we had so far received, and it started to dawn on me – even taking into account the time and effort required to produce a decently-written Christmas letter (and for the really high-quality ones, I believe that’s a lot), it would still save me a lot of time and eye- and hand-strain. Another motivation was the fact that, despite my best efforts, I was terrible about keeping in touch with people and keeping them informed during the rest of the year.

So I succumbed. And after a lot of struggling, second thoughts, and finally resignation that I would never be one of the top practitioners of the art of the Christmas letter, I produced one. It almost – but not quite – seemed to be as much work as before. And I kept having problems with that imaginary “smug-o-meter,” measured in the sneers and jeers my na├»ve pride in my children would be certain to inspire. In fact, in subsequent years I would deliberately pick only a couple “thrill of victory” moments and carefully try to balance them with “agony of defeat” happenings such as our annual basement floods, crashing trees, and major household system failures (and this year, the record set by my older daughter in number of times stranded in an airport without any assistance from the guilty airline). The most surprising thing was that when I edited out certain awards, my usually modest children (the ones who used to casually thrust a certificate or medal my way and mumble in embarrassment – “Here’s another award, no big deal”) would correct what they felt was a lapse of memory – “You forgot about (insert name of award here). “ So I did not always succeed in maintaining the light, non-self-important tone I had hoped to achieve.

If I had any advice for anyone who is considering adopting this much-maligned custom, it would be not to worry overly much about the contents or writing style, other than employing a little bit of restraint and following the basic rules of grammar and style. People who enjoy Christmas letters are probably mostly interested in the news, and so much the better if they can get a laugh or two out of it. Our Christmas letter for this year was probably the easiest one for me to write, and that is probably due to the fact that I decided to write only a short one because this year has been a tiring year with a lot of frustrations. I wasn’t even going to try to be witty. And guess what? It turned out as long as any of the other letters (I hope that’s not bad) and maybe even a little funny (not due to my skills – the events were kind of funny when you put them all together – did I mention Christmas letters help you put the past year in perspective?), and there was only one brag.

So what does this have to do with genealogy? I am sure that anyone who is seriously interested in genealogy already knows. These letters are often a valuable source of information on a family, providing and filling in information on a key element that is often missing in genealogies – the highlight events of that family’s life, few of which would otherwise be found in records and are often missing from other correspondence that may survive. For this reason, I save all the Christmas letters I receive as well as all those I write. I enjoy re-reading them and the memories they bring back, much as I greatly enjoyed receiving my old high school scrapbook in the mail this year from my kind and generous Cousin Fred, whose mother (my Aunt Rene) had recovered and kept the scrapbook after my mother died. So – Christmas letters may earn the disdain of many, but I hope no genealogy buffs are among those “superior” people.

Note added immediately after this post was written: Wouldn’t you know it, just as I was finishing this post I took a break and was reading the local newspaper, when I came across an article about Christmas letters. And after briefly touching on the potential plusses of these letters, the author continues: “For others, it is a time-consuming and cringe-worthy missive that probably will head straight to the recycling bin. After, of course, the reader rolls her eyes. ‘Anyone who sends me a Christmas letter is leaving themselves open to ridicule in my house,’ says (name left out for reasons of … of …), a letter-hater in Reston.” Ouch! Well, letter-hater in Reston, my New Year’s wish for you is that you receive no personal letters this year, because I’m sure most or all of them would not meet your lofty standards. Among the advice offered in the article: “Stick to the happy.” We try not to be a Moaning Myrtle, but some of the big events in our lives are not exactly happy ones. If someone close to you passes away, you cannot pretend that that has not had a major impact, though it is a good idea to review the good memories associated with that person. And, contrary to the advice not to put in too much detail, we even include a sentence or two on our cats; after all, at least one family, friends and former neighbors who are major animal buffs, are intensely interested in any and all animal antics. So, genealogy people, just as you have to have a thick skin when interviewing the tight-lipped, uncooperative relative, you should probably also ignore the literary mavens who scorn your humble epistolary efforts – keep on writing those letters! And save them!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Note About Footnotes

You will notice there are no footnotes in my posts, including posts which show family groups and descendants. This is not deliberate, but instead demonstrates my ignorance of the ins and outs of blogging and html. If and when I ever figure out how to do footnotes on this blog, you will see them. Meanwhile, if you are interested in the sources for my information, just drop me an e-mail and I will be glad to share them.

Matlocks: Thomas A. Matlock and Mary Adeline Stratton

This is the final family from the Absolom C. Matlock and Nancy Malvina Harris family. According to a note in Eunice Sandlings "History of the Floyd Family," this brother of my great-great grandmother Angeline Elizabeth Matlock was "ordained as a ruling Elder of the Presbyterian Church of Lisbon, 1886. Ordained with E. A. Gracey and T. M. Goodnight. News clipping says he was engaged in hardware business in Petrolia." Thomas and Addie are buried in Petrolia Cemetery, Clay Co., Texas, next to Dona and Boon Slayback, daughter and son-in-law of Thomas' sister Angeline Matlock Floyd.

Thomas A. Matlock
b. 20 Oct 1859, Dallas Co., Texas
d. 19 Jun 1925, Petrolia, Clay, Texas
& Mary Adeline “Addie” Stratton
b. 7 Sep 1859, Texas
d. 30 Jan 1936, Houston, Harris County, Texas
|--- Ollie T. Matlock
|----- b. 16 Dec 1888, Texas
|----- d. 19 Mar 1976, Wichita Falls, Wichita, Texas
|--- & Eleanor
|----- b. 14 Jul 1892, Texas
|----- d. 14 Aug 1989, Texas
|------- | Joan Matlock
|--------- | b. 1919, Texas

Based on the name of the informant on Ollie T. Matlock's death certificate, Joan may have married a Wittmire.

Death Certificates and Obituaries from Greenville, SC

Yes, another cheerful title for a blog post. Previously it was Texas death certificates from the Family Research pilot site (see link under "General"); now I am focusing on death in South Carolina. Texas and South Carolina are my top two research states, and these obituaries and certificates are certainly advancing my research.

The inspiration for obtaining these materials was a posting on the Rootsweb mailing list for Greenville, SC, by a researcher who is local to the area and will obtain and mail the obituaries for a nominal fee. She was extremely helpful and also volunteered to acquire copies of death certificates for some of the people in the obituaries. Some of the Greenville obituaries cover people in Anderson County, SC, as well, so there were several descendants of my great-great grandparents William Spencer Moore and Emily Tarrant Moore, but the majority were for descendants of William Spencer Moore's brother, Bud Mathis Moore. I realized that I need to "strike while the iron is hot" and start entering data on the Bud Mathis Moore family in my genealogy program so that I could find additional names for obituary and death certificate requests, so it has been the Bud Mathis Moore family that I have been researching lately. (A note of explanation: I have been inputting information into my genealogy program by levels, from parents to grandparents, then all the great-grandparents, and I was at the great-great grandparent level. Doing the Bud Mathis Moore family actually means going back to the great-great-great grandparent level, since this means doing the family of Samuel Moore, father of William Spencer and Bud Mathis. Samuel Moore is as far back as I have been able to go at this point, and I do not yet know who his wife was.)

The Moores are one of my main areas of research, and I have benefitted greatly from information shared with me by other researchers. My original discovery that my gg-grandfather William Spencer Moore had a brother named Bud Mathis Moore was due to a posting by a descendant of B. M. Moore, Mary Newton. She introduced me by e-mail to several other descendants and we got in touch with another B.M. Moore descendant who had researched the family. The Bud Mathis Moore connection led to the Greenville connection as the point of origin for William Spencer Moore, and this helped me find the will for his and Bud's father Samuel Moore (establishing him as their father) on the South Carolina Archives website. Recently, while researching the B.M. Moore family, I found two other people who had a lot of information on that family. So there is quite a large body of information on descendants of Samuel Moore of Greenville District, South Carolina, which I expect to be supplemented by more obituaries and death certificates. So ... it appears that this compilation of Samuel Moore descendants will be one of my big projects (I would be something like an editor and co-compiler with the other researchers).

First Experience at a Family History Center

You will notice that my last post on this blog was dated 2 Nov 2008. That does not mean that I was too busy to do genealogy for most of this month; I was just too busy to spend the longer stretch that writing requires as opposed to just fitting in bits and pieces of research here and there. In fact, quite a few things that have helped advance my research have taken place this month. There was actually an entire day I took off early in the month to visit the local Family History Center (FHC) in McLean. The Fairfax Genealogy Society organizes trips to various local (and sometimes not-so-local) research venues for tours and instruction, and this FHC is one of the regular sites visited. The volunteers were very gracious and helpful, and it was tremendous fun to share stories with them and other visiting researchers. The McLean Center has undergone some recent improvements and is a very pleasant setting for research. The Center has numerous research guides and six or seven terminals for accessing online databases. Though there were a number of these databases that were of interest to me, I focused on Footnote, since I already knew that it contained a number of documents of interest, I have not yet purchased a personal subscription, and there were several Civil War service records that I was keenly interested in obtaining.

Here are the service records I pulled: Joseph M. C. Norman, Preston E. Moore, James West Lewis, Richard M. Brinlee, Samuel D. Lewis, Manning P. Lewis, and William T. Sisson. I also printed out a birth certificate for Odessa Beatrice Lewis, daughter of Elizabeth Ann Brinlee and Harve Mulder. The Civil Service records will keep me busy for quite a while; as a matter of fact, I seem to be falling into the genealogy trap of collecting materials without devoting sufficient time to transcribing and reviewing them -- that will have to be one of my New Year's resolutions!

There are still a few more service records and other records on Footnote that I am interested in, but because it takes time to pull the images up on Footnote and the printer at the FHC is fairly slow, there was just not enough time. I look forward to returning for more research, and the Center is open late during the week for an evening or two, so I won't even have to take time off from work to do research. Before the next visit I will probably visit the Family Search website to find materials to be ordered from Salt Lake City. But first, getting to those transcriptions....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Descendants of David Floyd? - Part 2

Although I knew of Sada Crum’s existence, I had never found her after the 1900 census and assumed that she must not have had any descendants. Some time later I was doing the census work for as many members of the David Floyd family as I could and decided to search to see what had happened to Mason Crum. The 1920 census showed a grandson named Clyde Robertson, age 13, living with Mason and Annie Crum in Hopkins County, Texas. Audry and Alma were too young to have a son that age, so … my next step was to look for Clyde Robertson in the 1910 census … and there he was, with his parents “Josphes” and “Saddie” and brother Earl, age 6. The 1920 census had a story to tell for this family: Clyde was living with his grandparents, brother Earl was living with James and Addie Robertson (James would appear to be his uncle), and a third son, L.D., was shown living with the family of his aunt, Mary (Aiguier) Vaden. Seaf (Josphes = Josephus “Seaf”) was living with the family of his niece, Eddie (Vaden) Evans, daughter of Mary Auguier Vaden. Seaf’s status was listed as married, not widowed. So where was Sada/Sadie/Saddie?

The 1920 census shows a Saddie Robertson, age 47, as a patient in the North Texas Hospital for the Insane in Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas. The age is too old for our Sada, but accuracy was probably not much of a concern in recording the patients’ ages, so this may very well be her. The 1930 census shows Seaf with a new wife, Altha, and Altha’s daughter Willie Juanita Martin. Many of these people are buried in the Aiguier Cemetery in Hopkins County, Texas, including Sadie Robertson, who did not die until 9 July 1960 according to her death certificate, which gives her date of birth as 16 July 1884. Also buried there is son Earl Robertson, dates 20 September 1903 to 20 March 1973.

The following paragraph appears in the GenWeb page on Men and Women in the Armed Forces from Hopkins County Sulphur Springs, Texas, WWII (the URL is

“ROBERTSON. L.D. Pvt., son of Mr. and Mrs. Seaf Robertson. Entered Army Sig Corps in November 1941. Trained at Ft. Sill, OK. _Served in Algeria, French Morroco, Sicily, Tunisia, Naples, Rome, France, Central Europe. Has Bronze Stars, American Defense Medal. _Discharged in 1945.”

Clyde Robertson may be the Clyde M. Robertson on the 1930 census of approximately the right age living with wife Lois and daughter Wenonah as boarders in the household of John H. Mauldin in Jack County, Texas. According to the Texas Birth Index, these Mauldins would have been Lois’ family, and this would be Clyde Miles Robertson and Lois Esteline Mauldin. Texas records lists children born to them, so these could be descendants of David Floyd and Zillah Kelly. Perhaps Earl and L. D. also had children.

Descendants of David Floyd? - Part 1

David Floyd was the oldest brother of my great-grandfather Charles Augustus Floyd. I put a question mark after the title of this post because it is not certain that there are currently living descendants of David Floyd, but I recently discovered that at least one of his daughters may very well have living descendants.

Here is what is currently known about the family of David Floyd and his wife Zillah Kelly (Claywell Floyd Lovett – more on her three marriages later):

David Harriet Floyd
b. 1836, Illinois
d. ca 1867
& Zilla Ann Kelly
b. Jun 1839
d. 9 Jan 1914, Sipe Springs, Comanche Co., Texas
m. 23 Dec 1858, Dallas County, TX
| Eliza Ellen Floyd
| b. 1860, Dallas County, TX
| d. bef 1890
| & Mason W. Crum
| b. Mar 1852, Kentucky
| d. 1930, Hopkins, Texas
| m. 16 Apr 1880
| David Angeline Floyd
| b. 1863, Texas
| d. bef 1900
| & George W. Bingham
| m. 21 Jul 1884

It is apparent from the 1900 census that Eliza must have died by 1890, because Mason Crum and his new wife Anna married in about 1890. In addition to Mason and Anna’s daughters Audry and Alma, there is a third daughter, Sada, born in 1884 according to the census. Sada must have been Eliza’s daughter.

This was as far as the line had gone as far as we Floyd researchers knew. At one point when I was researching this family I took a little “detour” to find out who Zillah Floyd was. The item that initially aroused my curiosity was the 1860 census entry for her and David. [David died some time before 1870, when Zillah had already remarried to a man named Elihu Lovett. I am guessing that David Floyd died some time in 1867 or perhaps early 1868 because he appeared in the partition of father George Floyd’s land in 1867 and he witnessed the marriage of his brother Charles to Angeline Matlock on 13 Jan 1867. ] On the 1860 census, a young (5 years old) boy who is referred to as Noah Penny is shown living with David, Zillah, and their daughter Eliza. How was he related to this family? The first place I looked for clues, as I always do for the Floyds, was Eunice Sandling’s History of the Floyd Family, which stated that David Floyd married Zillah Claywell on 23 December 1858. I tried to find a Zillah Claywell with her family on the 1850 census for Illinois but could not; however, Claywells and Pennys did turn up in Sangamon County on that census.

Searches for Zilla(h) Claywell/Lovett and for Eli Lovett brought up several posts on genealogy discussion boards. As I started to track these down, it became clear that Zilla’s maiden name was not Claywell, but that she had married a Claywell and had son Noah from that marriage. Noah’s last name was actually Claywell, and he appears in later censuses under that name, but perhaps the census-taker associated him with the Penny family in Dallas County, which had also come from Sangamon County, Illinois. A little more searching revealed that Zillah’s maiden name was Kelley. By this time I had discussions going with two of her descendants both on the discussion boards and through e-mail, and I even ended up in one of those Texas two-hour-long phone calls with one of them. Eventually we straightened out Zillah’s marriage history. Zillah’s first husband was Warren Claywell, by whom she had son Noah; her second husband was David Floyd, by whom she had daughters Eliza Ellen and David Angeline; and her third husband was Eli Lovett, by whom she had children John Wayne and Emily Lucy. The first and third families and their descendants knew of one another’s existence, but did not know of the David Floyd family until we found one another online. Why was this? The 1900 census contained a possible explanation: both Eliza Ellen and David Angeline had died by 1900 (the census showed that Zilla had had five children, of whom three were still living, and those three were Noah, John, and Emily). I knew that Eliza had died, and apparently David Angeline (who married a George W. Bingham) had as well, which explained why I could not find her on the 1900 census.

I will continue on the fate of Sada Crum in the next post.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alvin Cletus Floyd and Essie Maples

I mentioned this family in a previous post (on Alvin's sister Alice Floyd); Alvin was the first "new" Floyd sibling that I found from the Caswell B. Floyd and Mary Miller Floyd family. As I mentioned in that post, when I found Alvin Floyd in the census I strongly suspected that his mother Mary Long (wife of Charles Long) was Mary Miller Floyd, who must have remarried some time after Caswell Floyd's death in 1890. Mary and Charles' son Emmet Long was born in February 1893 according to the 1890 census, so she must have remarried in around 1892. One confusing thing was that Mary Miller Floyd's tombstone in Kleberg Cemetery has her last name as Floyd, not Long, There are a couple of possible reasons for that - perhaps the tombstone had already been purchased, or perhaps she split up from Charles Long before her death. But it kept me from being entirely sure that Mary Long was actually Caswell's widow, even though her date of birth from the 1900 census - January 1848 - matched the year of her birth on her tombstone.

Some time later, I did a search on "Caswell Floyd" and came up with a post on a genealogy inquiry board for the Floyd surname - but the name was Cletus Caswell Floyd, the grandfather of the poster, Shari Floyd Sinkler. The location given for him was New Mexico. This still wasn't enough to make a connection (I did not know yet that Alvin's middle name was Cletus). A search on this Cletus brought up an obituary, which stated: "Born on Feb. 21, 1913, in Cleburg, Texas, to Alvin and Essie Floyd, he received his early education and was raised on a homestead in Pecos County, N.M." I realized that Cleburg was Kleberg, and this with the name Caswell clearly indicated that he had to be Caswell's grandson, which meant that Alvin Floyd was indeed Caswell's youngest son (born 1888).

I wrote to the original poster, but did not hear back from her for a while. But when I did, it was a wonderful e-mail about her grandfather Cletus (with a little about Alvin and Essie) and his 3rd wife, her grandmother Gwendolyn, written in an affectionate and wonderfully readable style. Shari painted a vivid picture of this colorful couple and their strong faith. Cletus' faith apparently came after some life experience and youthful hell-raising, including a stint as a Golden Glove Boxer that ended with him getting knocked out at Madison Square Garden, but the conversion took - he spent the rest of his life as a minister with the United Pentecostal Church. According to the obituary, "He was married for 57 years to Gwendolyn Marie Bradley Floyd until her death in 1994."

Cletus had a sister, Ruby, who may have married a man named Miller. He had at least one brother, Linton, who married a woman named Pearl and possibly a second woman whose last name was Edwards. There may have been another brother named Grover or George, but SSDI indicates that Linton Floyd was born on 10 March 1910, and Grover/George's age on the 1910 census indicates that he would have been born in late 1909, so perhaps they were actually the same person (Grover's middle initial is given as "L"). I would love to hear from anyone who has any additional information on this family.

Genealogy Blog Finder Found Us!

I admit that I kept checking Google to find out when it would finally pull up this blog in a search (it took a week or so, but now the updates show up pretty quickly after they are posted), and now this blog has arrived in another way - it shows up on Genealogy Blog Finder at! It shows up in the Quick Finder and in the "Personal Research" category. It may appear in some of the other categories, but I haven't checked, yet. Some of the categories of blogs listed are Tips, Resources & Reviews, Personal Research, Locality Specific, Single Surname, African-American, and What's New.

While not everyone's research interests may be the same, it is interesting and definitely worthwhile to check out other genealogy blogs periodically. You can find new ideas, new sites and resources, and new approaches, not to mention some interesting family stories. I have even found some interesting ideas for items for my blog.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tombstone of Alice Bibb

Here is a picture of Alice Bibb's tombstone in Lee Cemetery, Seagoville, Texas. It is taken from the website, sponsored by Rootsweb and run by a gentleman named Allen Wheatley, found at Mr. Wheatley has taken pictures from many Texas cemeteries and made them available at no cost (it is only necessary to cite the website if you publish the pictures).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alice Floyd Ezell Bibb, 26 Jan 1882-17 Oct 1918

One of the first things I learned about Alice Floyd Bibb was that she died of influenza and pneumonia on 17 October 1918. The date in itself is eloquent - these were the early days of the Great Influenza Epidemic. Now the task that confronted me was to work backward from her death and find out whom she had married, what children she had, if any, and everything else I could find out about her life. I started with her death certificate. Originally I had a transcription, but now I could get an image at the Family Search pilot site. Alice died in Kleberg, Dallas County, Texas. This was the area where members of the Caswell Floyd family lived. The other two brothers who survived Caswell, Charles Augustus and Alfred Byrum, had lived in the Hutchins/Lancaster area of Dallas County. The informant on her death certificate was Ira Floyd, her brother. The undertaker who signed the certificate was E. O. Prewitt, the husband of Alice's niece Cheba Floyd. Cheba herself would die within four years after complications from an operation. The registrar who signed the document was W. S. Skiles, a distant relative by marriage through Charles Floyd's wife Angeline Matlock Floyd.

My next step was to find out precisely who Mr. Bibb was; at this point I assumed that he was the man that Alice had married by the 1900 census, making her an "invisible" Floyd. A simple search did not reveal the couple on the 1910 census, so I took another piece of information from the death certificate, Lee Cemetery, to see if I could find someone there. Through a bit of googling, I found a site which listed a number of graves in Lee Cemetery and even had pictures of the tombstones. One of the tombstones was for a T. H. Bibb, 1868-1818. This looked promising. I could find no Bibb family with that spelling in the Dallas area on the 1900 or 1910 census, but the 1880 census for nearby Kaufman, Texas showed a widower named Thomas H. Bibb with his children, and the oldest child was also named Thomas, age 12. The younger Thomas must be the T.H. Bibb in Lee Cemetery (and the older Thomas Bibb is also buried in Lee Cemetery), but was he also Alice's husband? With a little creativity I found a Tom Bib on the 1900 census, born November 1868, with his wife Nancy, born February 1877, and daughters Lora and Mabel. It appeared that he was not Alice's husband. However, I went back to the Lee Cemetery records, and the 1918 date of death for Tom was very suggestive. Then I found an important piece of information - one of the other Bibbs In Lee Cemetery was a Nancy Bibb, born 1873 and died in 1904. It struck me that perhaps Alice was Tom's second wife and, given no Alice Floyd on the 1900 census, Tom may very well have been Alice's second husband.

To find this couple (I hoped) on the 1910 census, I decided to work on finding Lora or Mabel, without the last name. That worked - this time the family members were listed as Thomas and Allice Bibbs, Thomas' daughters Lora and Mabel, and, what gave me the final clue I needed to find Alice with her first husband on the 1900 census, listed as Thomas' stepson (therefore Alice's son from her first marriage), James Ezell. Looking for an Ezell family on the 1900 census in Dallas County was fairly straightforward and produced Tom Ezell, wife Allice, and son Oran T. James Ezell was born after 1900, so Oran must have died by 1910. Oran's death, the early deaths of Tom Ezell and Nancy Woody Bibb, and Alice's early death were the first chapters I found in the tragedy-marked life of this family. I returned to Lee Cemetery to find out how the other Bibbs were related, and quickly found two daughters who died quite young, Elizabeth (1912-1913) and Frances (1913-1914). Their death certificates, which were also online, showed that they were Thomas and Alice's children and showed that Elizabeth had died of bronchial pneumonia and Frances of dysentery. Thomas Bibb's death certificate confirmed what his tombstone hinted at, that he had died in the influenza epidemic, and in fact showed that he died on the very same day as Alice.

A search on Ancestry turned up a third daughter of Thomas Bibb and Alice Floyd, but no name was given. Further census work showed that she survived (her name was Billie) and was brought up by Lora Bibb who, at the young age of 22, had been the informant on her father's death certificate. The 1920 census with Lora and Billie shows them with Lora's husband Arthur Glenn and their son Martin. The 1930 census shows Lora as a widow, a younger son Phillip K. Glenn, and Billie. At first I thought this was the continuation of the numerous tragedies suffered by this family, but Ancestry searches for Arthur and Martin to find death dates led me to believe that the tragedy that befell this family may have been one of separation, not death. I found evidence that a Charles Arthur Glenn from the same area of Dallas County as the Caswell Floyd family was the "right" Arthur Glenn, and this Arthur Glenn, his son Martin (both of the right ages), a new wife Anna, and Anna's daughters Lorean and Caroline Ray living in Cameron County, Texas on the 1930 census. Arthur's stepdaughters were of the right age for him to have still been married to Lora when youngest son Phillip was born. The interesting thing was that each parent had taken a son.

Lora Bibb Glenn did not completely escape further tragedy, however. On 30 June 1951, her younger son Phillip Keith Glenn died at age 26 in a prison camp in Korea. The following information is provided for him in the Korean War Casualty listings:

"First Lieutenant Glenn was a member of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was taken Prisoner of War while fighting the enemy near Kunu-ri, North Korea on November 30, 1950 and died while a prisoner on June 30, 1951. First Lieutenant Glenn was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal." I believe that he may have married a woman named Millie Etta Reed and had a daughter named Donna; perhaps this was some consolation to his mother. I believe Arthur Glenn died 23 July 1943, but I do not know what happened to Martin Glenn. Lora Bibb died on 22 March 1969; the informant on her death certificate was Billie (Bibb) Kay, her younger half-sister.

The other Bibb sister, Mabel Bibb, died at age 37 on 8 December 1934, about three weeks after the birth of her seventh child, Nancy Mabel Walton, apparently from an infection that set in after the birth.

I have not been able to find out anything further about James Ezell.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Finding a New Family

The “new family” mentioned in the title above does not refer to a set of direct ancestors, i.e., the parents of a “brick wall” ancestor, but is located in a “collateral line,” in this case, the family of one of the brothers of my great-grandfather Charles Augustus Floyd. The brother in question is Caswell B. Floyd, who was born in 1845 in Illinois, married Mary Miller, and died in 1890 in Kleberg, Dallas County, Texas. The Floyds were one of the first families on whom I had any information, thanks to some outstanding Floyd family researchers, Eunice Sandling and the Jim and Pat Dodd family. It often seemed that there was very little I could add by way of research to what they had already done. They already had a family group for Caswell and Mary Floyd, which included five sons – George Albert, William Henry, Joseph Ira, Ollie B., and Charles Alford. However, Caswell ‘s death in1890 opened up the possibility that there were additional children born between the 1880 census and Caswell’s death in 1890.

The 1900 census showed an Alvin C. Long, born ca 1888, living with a Charles and Mary Long in Precinct 4, Dallas County, Texas, and I suspected that Mary Long was Caswell’s widow. I eventually got in touch with a descendant of Cletus Caswell Floyd, Alvin Cletus Floyd’s son, and the name Caswell and the descendant’s claim that the family was from Kleberg, Texas, made me positive that my guess was correct. However, this still is not the family referred to in this article.

When I did the census work for Charles and Mary Long, I found that in the 1910 census, Mary was shown as having given birth to 10 children, of whom 8 were still living. That meant it should be possible to find eight living children at that point in time, but at this point I knew only of Caswell and Mary’s six sons plus another son, Emmet, born to Mary and Charles Long. Emmet was born in 1893, at which time Mary was already about 45 years old, and in the 1900 census Mary was mistakenly shown as having had only one child, i.e., Emmet, so I guessed that the child not accounted for must have been Caswell’s child. After eliminating Floyd males from the Charles August Floyd and Alfred Byrum Floyd (Charles’ and Caswell’s youngest brother) families, there did not seem to be any additional male Floyds born in the early 1880s living on their own in the Dallas area. That left one possibility, a phenomenon known to many family researchers dealing with this period in history – 1880 to 1900 – who understand that one of the consequences of the loss of almost the entire 1890 census is the “lost daughter” – a daughter born in the early 1880s (so she does not appear on the 1880 census) who has already married and no longer lives with her family (so she cannot be found under her maiden name in the 1900 census).

My next step was to look for a young (less than 20 years old) married woman in the Kleberg area. There were several candidates, and for at least two of these it was indicated that one or both parents had been born in Illinois (the only reliable “distinguishing feature” I could use to narrow down the field), but I was actually able to find their maiden names with a little hunting, and none of them was the missing daughter. That was several months ago. About a week ago I was taking care of one of the more mundane genealogy chores, recopying quickly scribbled notes to put in the proper family binders. Probably about a year or so earlier (before I was very familiar with the Caswell Floyd family), I had hastily jotted down some information from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives (another plug for one of my favorite websites) – the transcript of the death certificate for a young woman named Alice Bibb who had died in the great influenza epidemic in 1918. Listed as her parents were C. B. Floyd and Mary Mills. At the time it piqued my curiosity, but I was not familiar enough with the family to be certain that this was Caswell and Mary. Seeing my notes a second time, however, gave me that jolt and then the rush familiar to so many genealogy buffs – this was the daughter I had been searching for! This was followed by embarrassment at my “senior moment” – forgetting that I had already “found” the daughter. I then remembered that her death fell within the right time frame to be covered by the Texas death certificates on the Family Search pilot site (another favorite website). A glance at the image of the original death certificate showed that Mary Mills was indeed actually Mary Miller, and Alice Bibb was Alice Floyd, the missing daughter.

In a subsequent article I will describe what I have learned about this family.

Fairfax Genealogy Society

A couple of weeks ago, as sort of a celebration of three years in genealogy (September 1), I finally joined a genealogy society. This is my "local" genealogy society, the Fairfax Genealogy Society; it is definitely a first-rate organization and an excellent way to get serious about learning the methods and techniques of genealogy. The organization boasts a number of professional genealogists and experienced "amateurs" among its officers and members, has regular classes and meetings of a wide variety of special interests groups (SIGs), and schedules field trips to local resources such as the Virginia Room of the Fairfax County Library and local Family History Center, as well as to national resources such as the National Archives, Library of Congress, and DAR. It also sponsors a Fall Fair and Spring Conference with educational presentations and genealogy vendors. A link to the Society's website appears at the left under "Genealogy Societies."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Still More Matlocks: The Eliza Jane Matlock and Elisha James Mathis Family

This is another group of Matlock descendants (Eliza Jane was the sister of my great-grandmother Angeline Matlock Floyd) about whom I know very little. If you are descended from or related to this family, I would love to hear from you.

Elisha James Mathis
b. 18 Apr 1845, Tennessee
d. 5 May 1884, Dallas, Dallas County, TX
& Eliza Jane Matlock
b. 15 Mar 1854, Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas
d. 4 Feb 1935, Dallas County, TX
|.. Ella Mathis
| ....b. 15 Sep 1873, Dallas, Texas
| ....d. 3 Dec 1959, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
| ..Nettie Mathis
| ....b. Sep 1875, Dallas Co., Texas
| ....d. Johnson Co., Texas
| ..& Joseph Birch Loper
| ....b. Jun 1874
| ....d. 21 Oct 1920
| | ....Corinne Loper
| | ......b. 10 Jun 1900
| | ......d. 30 Nov 1981
| | ....Roy Loper
| | ......b. 7 Feb 1903, Dallas Co., Texas
| | ......d. 30 Mar 1992, Potter Co., TX
| ..Joe? Mathis
| ....b. 1878, Texas
| ..Lena Mathis
| ....b. Mar 1880, Texas
| ..Sidney Young Mathis
| ....b. 8 Apr 1882, Dallas Co., Texas
| ....d. 4 Aug 1887, Dallas Co., Texas

Jim Wheat's Dallas County Texas Archives

Jim Wheat's Dallas County Texas Archives (see link at left) is one of my favorite genealogy websites. During the first couple of weeks of my initial dabbling in genealogy, I made my first real "find" on this website: a transcription of the death certificate for my great-grandfather Harlston Perrin Moore (my mother's paternal grandfather). Until this point the only information I had for him was "? Perrin Moore" in a genealogy for my mother's mother's family. It did not seem right that there was so little information on him. In addition to his full name, Harlston Perrin Moore, the transcript gave the names of his parents -- Spencer Moore and Emily Tarrant -- and his date of death, 12 December 1921. It also provided Lancaster, Texas as the place of death/local address. This was the clue that made me certain that this was the correct Perrin Moore, because I knew that my mother's family came from this part of Dallas County. Recently I have been able to look at a digital image of the death certificate at the Family Search pilot site and fill in additional information not contained in the transcript.

Since then my research has brought me back to this site many times. There are many different categories of information to be found here, including transcripts of newspaper articles, cemetery listings, maps, pioneers, recollections, city directories, obituaries, and much more.

Civil War Record of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman

I am currently researching the family of my great-great grandfather Joseph Madison Carroll Norman of Talladega County, Alabama and Garland County, Arkansas. (At this point it is not in-depth research; I am rather trying to do basic research and organize and clarify what I have already learned about him, his three wives, and their children -- reportedly some 26 or 27 in all -- to be entered into my genealogy program.) Researching JMC Norman involves several challenges. The first is simply to sort out and identify as many of his children as possible, no small undertaking considering how many of them there were. This also means that he most likely has a large number of descendants, and a few of them have apparently already done some research on him. The second challenge is figuring out his Civil War record. A search on the National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System using different forms of his name turns up four items: a Joseph M. C. Norman in Company H, 25th Alabama Infantry, a Joseph M. C. Norman in Company B, 3rd Alabama Infantry, a Joseph C. Norman in Company B, 28th Alabama Infantry, and a Jos. M. C. Norman at the Camp of Instruction, Talladega, Alabama. It is possible that the Joseph C. Norman is another man, but there is a record for a Joseph C. Norman being discharged at Oxford, Mississippi for disability on 4/1/1862 and that is consistent with what I know about JMC Norman. I have received a copy of his and his widow's applications for Confederate service pensions and the only unit named in those documents is the 25th Infantry (or at least in most parts; the first page of his application gives the regiment as the 21st). It may be that he cites only that unit because his medical condition (reported as rheumatism) dated to that time or, as has been the case for other ancestors who fought in the Civil War, assimilation of units into other units over the course of the war may account for some of the confusion. I will soon be signing up for to try to solve this mystery.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Second Look at the Martha Amanda Matlock and Emory A. Gracey Family

After my first post on this family, I started combing through the Texas Death Certificates on the Family Research pilot page and, as reported in a couple of previous posts, found a wealth of additional information on many members of my family lines who died in Texas. The report in this family in particular ended up with a lot of information added. My original intention was to amend the post to reflect the new information, but I have decided instead to simply publish a new post so that the difference can be seen through comparison. Of all the information listed as missing in the original post, everything has been found, and there are little details added here and there -- a middle name instead of an initial or the day on which a person was born in addition to the month and year. Contrast and compare!

Emory Anderson Gracey
b. 13 Mar 1837, Bond Co., Illinois
d. 3 Aug 1915, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
& Martha Amanda Matlock
b. 3 Sep 1849, Warren County, Kentucky
d. 22 May 1927, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
m. 27 Aug 1865
| Malvina Isabella “Bell” Gracey
| b. 10 May 1868, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| d. 8 Dec 1934, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| & Luna M. “Luney” Goforth
| b. 12 Aug 1865, Missouri
| d. 29 Jan 1940, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| m. 1888
| Ann White Gracey
| b. 14 Sep 1869, Texas
| d. 27 Apr 1959, San Angelo, Tom Green, Texas
| & Jerile George Dodge
| b. 19 Apr 1869, Kentucky
| d. 29 Jul 1959, Sweetwater, Nolan Co., Texas
| m. 6 Nov 1895
| Alvie Lee Gracey
| b. 8 Aug 1871, Texas
| d. 29 May 1948, Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas
| & Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hight
| b. 24 Aug 1875, Dallas County, Texas
| d. 21 Nov 1948, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
| m. 1899
| Effie E. Gracey
| b. 21 Jun 1872, Texas
| d. 16 May 1956, Herefored, Deaf Smith Co., Texas
| & Joseph Lafayette Hight
| b. 19 Jun 1867, Tennessee
| d. 1 Nov 1942, Canyon, Randall, Texas
| Lura Pearl Gracey
| b. 2 Feb 1876, Texas
| d. 9 Aug 1962, Nolan Co., Texas
| & D. D. Potter
| b. 9 Oct 1872, Texas
| d. 29 May 1951, Sweetwater, Nolan Co., Texas
| m. 13 Jul 1898, Dallas County, TX
| Addie May Gracey
| b. 3 May 1878, Dallas Co., Texas
| d. 8 Jan 1958, Memphis, Hall Co., Texas
| & William Henry “Billy” Goodnight
| b. 12 Jun 1878, Hardin County, KY
| d. 9 Oct 1940, Memphis, Hall Co., Texas
| John Emery Gracey
| b. 30 Aug 1882, Texas
| d. 15 Mar 1961, Brownfield, Terry, Texas
| & Dora Pearl Cruse
| b. 21 Sep 1886, Texas
| d. 28 Feb 1983, Texas
| Ida Gracey
| b. 1884, Texas
| d. 1884, Texas
| Walter Gracey
| b. 23 May 1887, Dallas, Texas
| d. 24 Feb 1956, Terry Co., Texas
| & Jennie Lee Allman
| b. 2 Sep 1894, Texas
| d. 27 Jun 1984, Brownfield, Terry, Texas
| Jo Gracey
| b. 20 Aug 1890, Texas
| d. 4 Feb 1916, Lisbon, Dallas County, TX

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Highlighting the Koehls

I'd like to feature a family on my husband's side for a change. Researching his ancestors is quite different from researching my own. Most of my families are Southern and came over from the British Isles no later than the mid-18th century. My husband's family lines come from Germany, Italy, and Romania and the earliest immigrants among those apparently date to the mid-19th century. They immigrated to New York, New Jersey, and Canada. As a result, I have to learn to use a different set of resources.

Here is what I have been able to learn about the family of Julius Henry Koehl and Josephine Lochner, my husband Stuart's great-great grandparents:

Julius Henry Koehl
b. 1839, Prussia
d. bef 1900
& Josephine Lochner
b. 1842, Wurttemburg
d. bef 1900
| Josephine Koehl
| b. Feb 1867, New York
| ..& Peter Glasshoff
| ..b. May 1866, Germany
| m. 1899
| Julia Koehl
| b. 1868, New York
| Lena Koehl
| b. 1869, New York
| Lillie Koehl
| b. 1872, New York
| Frances Koehl
| b. 1874, New York
| Lena Koehl
| b. 1876, New York
| Harry Julius Koehl
| b. 4 May 1878, Brooklyn, Kings, New York
| d. Feb 1965, New York
| ..& Christine Fichtelmann
| ..b. Feb 1882, New York
| m. 1898
| Augusta Koehl
| b. 1879, New York
| Louis Julius Koehl
| b. 22 Aug 1881, New York
| ..& Katherine “Katie”
| b. 1884, New York
| | ...Louis Koehl Jr.
| | ...b. 1906, New York
| | ...Peter Koehl
| | ...b. 1909, New York

This information is based primarily on census information and the Social Security Death Index. If you are related to this family or researching it, I would love to share information with you. If you are familiar with methods and resources for researching these areas, I would welcome any advice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Matlocks: Joseph Matlock and Adeline Aiken

Of all my great-grandmother Angeline Matlock Floyd's siblings, this is the family I (and other Floyd/Matlock researchers) know least about. I cannot find Joseph on the 1870 census, and only recently learned his wife's maiden name (from her daughter's death certificate on the Family Search pilot page). Which reminds me, thanks to the Texas death certificates on that website, I now know a lot of the information that was missing for the Martha Amanda Matlock-Emory A. Gracey family (will post an update in the near future).

Joseph R. Matlock
b. Dec 1851, Kentucky
& Adaline “Addie” Aiken
b. Mar 1852, Illinois
d. bef 1920
m. 1878
| Neva Adaline Matlock
| b. 13 Apr 1879, Texas
| d. 5 Apr 1970, Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas
| & Robert Alphaeus Brooks
| b. 24 Oct 1875, Whiteboro, Texas
| d. 3 Oct 1947, Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas
| m. 1908
| Cora B. Matlock
| b. Apr 1885, Texas

Missing information: dates of death for Joseph, Addie, and Cora Matlock.

Hooray for State Archives!

You will notice that my (for now scant, but eventually fuller) list of resource links includes three state archives:  the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and the Texas State Archives.  I expect to add several others, including the Arkansas State History Commission and Archives.

Why this fuss about state archives?  I confess that I'm guilty of suspecting most government institutions of being tremendous wastes of money, even if they do perform some useful functions. Soon after I took up genealogy, however, I changed my tune when I sent off to the Texas State Archives for copies of the Civil War pension applications of five of my ancestors (I knew which ones to ask for because there is a helpful searchable index on the Texas State Archives' website).  A few weeks later I received a thick envelope back with the five copies and a bill ... and a bill for a whopping $8.00.  That was some of the best-invested money I ever spent.  

The South Carolina Archives also have a wonderful website that lets you search indexes for the relevant documents and even has digital images of some of them (mostly wills) available online.  You can send off to the Archives for copies of any of the documents you pull up in the indexes.  

Recently I sent off to the Alabama Archives for copies of whatever documents they had available on my great-great grandfather William T. Sisson.  The website has a printable form that lets you select up to four categories of documents to request for a fixed fee of $25.00.  They found land deeds, his widow's pension application, and the certificate of marriage to his third wife.  Again, a pretty good haul for a modest fee.

I have just sent off to the Arkansas Archives for the Civil War pension application of another great-great grandfather, Joseph Madison Carroll Norman.  I can't wait for that thick envelope to arrive in the mail....

Although I have not yet done any on-site research at any of these archives, I am definitely looking forward to doing so in the future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More on Texas Death Certificates

Despite my best intentions, there has been a large gap between my last post and this one. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that we have been packing up and moving my older daughter off to college, and the second is that I have been spending many of my remaining spare minutes engrossed in examining the Texas death certificates on the Family Search pilot page.  I have had family in Texas since 1824, all my grandparents were born here, and all of my great-grandparents were either born here or moved here.  That's a lot of family, a lot of history, and, as it turns out, a lot of death certificates.  I would estimate that over the past couple of weeks I have examined and extracted information from somewhere between 300 and 400 certificates.

The type of information provided by these certificates varies (since the format varies by place and time), but generally contains (if known) the father's name, mother's (maiden) name, the name of the informant, dates and locations of birth and death, cause of death, date and location of burial, and the business handling the burial.  Sometimes the items are filled in "unknown" or the information is incorrect, but when it is used carefully to confirm or refute other information or as a lead, it is amazingly useful.  For many of the people directly related to me that are included in this database (it covers the years from 1890 to 1976), I already had parents' names and the major dates, but there were still plenty of gaps to fill in, and in the case of the spouses of these relatives, it filled in many more gaps.  

It sounds morbid to say so, but much of the information is fascinating.  Each certificate has a little story, and some of those stories are quite touching and, in some cases, even a little sensational.  The deaths of babies and young children are especially heartrending.  When reading about the deaths of prematurely born babies in the early part of the 20th century, we can only wonder how different the outcome might have been were they born today.  My mother's youngest brother and a cousin born in the 1930s died of diphtheria; one of my father's older brothers died of typhoid fever.  A great-uncle died of anaphylactic shock after being stung by a bee.  One of my father's cousins, a 50-year-old saleslady, was killed by four gunshot wounds to the head and back.  I have done a few tentative searches for the story behind this (was she the victim of a robbery?), but so far have not turned up anything.  And as to mental illness in the family, I remember an exchange from the old TV series Designing Women:  "When Southerners meet and talk, they don't ask whether or not there is insanity in your family, they just ask which side it's on."  "And what's the usual answer?"  "Both."  Well, that's true in my family, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

(Re)Jump-Start Your Research

If you are like me, there are times when you have to put your family research on the back burner, either because family or work circumstances dictate it or you just need to take a break from genealogy. While I don’t foresee the latter ever being the case with me, I have just come off of several months of relative inactivity in my family research due to the press of family needs. Picking up where I left off hasn’t been easy, but several things have helped me get back into the swing of things and have even made my research more active than it was before in several areas.

First, just try to get back into the routine, even if it involves some of the more tedious aspects, such as looking up and transcribing census information or transcribing articles and documents. This is the work that eventually turns up a piece of information that can “bring your research to the next level.” Humble census work has done this several times for me. Recently I found some important items on my Sisson line in this way (and hope to publish the results in a separate post), including a clue to the father of a great-great grandmother and evidence that her husband, William T. Sisson, is the William T. Sisson listed in Company H of the 25th Alabama Infantry in the Civil War.

When you need to take a break from this kind of research, which often involves close reading of texts and deciphering of poor to awful handwriting, browse your favorite genealogy blogs or genealogy message boards to find research tips and new search tools and resources. In just the past two weeks I have found the Family Search pilot webpage and the digital images of Texas death certificates highlighted below, the inclusion of many digital images on the South Carolina Department of Archives and History webpage, and a new search resource offered by the Greenville Library’s South Carolina Room through which you can search an online index for obituaries which appeared in the Greenville News from 1917 to 1993.

Write to some of your “genealogy buddies,” relatives and fellow researchers with whom you have corresponded to share the results of your research. Find out what the latest news is in their research, or ask relatives questions about their lives or family history. This kind of correspondence almost always adds something to your own research, whether it is new information or ideas for a new avenue to pursue. If nothing else, there is always plenty of family news to enjoy.

Start a blog or open up an account on Facebook or a similar site on which you can post pictures, articles, and transcripts. This is a good way to help organize your research as well as share it. Some of the items you post on a blog may turn into articles that you may want to submit to genealogy journals for publication. In the course of doing genealogy-related searches, other researches may get hits on your blog and get in touch with you (that is something that I hope will eventually result from this blog). My daughter pointed out to me another benefit of posting pictures online, which is that it is an additional backup for these images in the even t of computer failure (and failure to back up through other means).

Each of these four approaches has yielded tangible results for me in the course of just a few weeks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Texas Death Certificate images at Family Search pilot webpage

Here is an image of my great-grandfather Harlston Perrin Moore's death certificate.  You can search and bring up images like this one at recordsearch/start.html#.  This is a terrific research tool.  In just a short time I have found lots of these certificate images for people in my family tree, with a great deal of information that I did not have, although obviously caution must be exercised -- I can see that there are mistakes -- but the items such as parents' names, date of birth and death, cause of death, and so forth are a great starting point for research or can simply be used to support other sources for the same information.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Greenville, SC Historical Records Search

I have added a link for the search page of the Greenville County Government website. This is a wonderful service that can be used to search thousands of images of original documents in the following six categories: Council Commissioners, Court of Common Pleas, Court of General Sessions, Probate Court, Register of Deeds, and Sheriff's Office; each of these categories has several subsets of types of documents. The years covered vary by category, but chances are, if you have ancestors in Greenville County, you can find something in at least one of these categories. After selecting the category, there is a view page box at the top; you can move through the images using the arrows or by entering a page number in the box and clicking on GO ... Some of the categories include indices to help you figure out which page a document pertaining to your ancestor may be found. Some of the images are quite old and difficult to read; for some of the wills, you may be able to find an image of the typescript of the will on the website for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (the URL is; from there, click on "Research & Genealogy," then "On-Line Records Index," then "Search Page").  Some search results will indicate "Online images available." Clicking on that will bring up an image of the document. It's the next best thing to actually going to the courthouse or archives.  

More Matlocks: Martha Amanda Matlock and Emory A. Gracey

One of my great-grandmother Angeline Matlock Floyd’s younger sisters was Martha Amanda Matlock, who married Emory A. Gracey, a colorful character who is said to have come to Texas when he was 13 years old (apparently following his older brothers Marquis de Lafayette Gracey and Casper Grundy Gracey). He worked as a prospector for the Texas & Pacific Railroad, rode with the Rangers, and served in Company H of the First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War.

Emory A. Gracey
b. 13 Mar 1837, Bond Co., Illinois
d. 3 Aug 1915, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
& Martha Amanda Matlock
b. Sep 1849, Warren County, Kentucky
d. 21 Aug 1927, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
m. 27 Aug 1865
| Malvina Isabella “Bell” Gracey
| b. 10 May 1868, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| d. 8 Dec 1934, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| & Luna M. “Luney” Goforth
| b. 12 Aug 1865, Missouri
| d. 29 Jan 1940, Lisbon, Dallas, Texas
| m. 1888
| Ann White Gracey
| b. 14 Sep 1869 Texas
| d. 27 Apr 1959, San Angelo, Texas
| & Jerile George Dodge
| b. Apr 1869, Kentucky
| d. 29 Jul 1959, Nolan Co., Texas
| m. 6 Nov 1895
| Alvie Lee Gracey
| b. Aug 1871, Texas
| & Lizzie
| b. Aug 1875, Texas
| m. 1899
| Effie E. Gracey
| b. Jun 1872, Texas
| d. 16 May 1956, Deaf Smith Co., Texas
| & Joseph L. Hight
| b. Jun 1867, Tennessee
| Lura Pearl Gracey
| b. Feb 1876 Texas
| d. 9 Aug 1962, Nolan Co., Texas
| & D. D. Potter
| b. 9 Oct 1872, Texas
| d. 29 May 1951, Nolan Co., Texas
| m. 13 Jul 1898, Dallas County, TX
| Addie May Gracey
| b. 3 May 1878, Texas
| d. 8 Jan 1958, Hall Co., Texas
| & William Henry “Billy” Goodnight
| b. 12 Jun 1878
| d. 9 Oct 1940, Hall Co., Texas
| John Emery Gracey
| b. 30 Aug 1882, Texas
| d. 15 Mar 1961, Texas
| & Dora Pearl
| b. 21 Sep 1886, Texas
| d. 28 Feb 1983, Texas |
| Ida Gracey
| b. 1884, Texas
| d. 1884, Texas
| Walter Gracey
| b. 23 May 1887, Texas
| d. 24 Feb 1956, Terry Co., Texas
| & Jennie Lee
| b. 2 Sep 1894, Texas
| d. 27 Jun 1984, Brownfield, Terry, Texas
| Jo Gracey
| b. Aug 1890, Texas
| d. 4 Feb 1916, Dallas County, TX

Missing information for this family: maiden names for the wives of John Emery, Walter, and Alvie Lee Gracey and dates of death for Joseph Hight and for Alvie Lee Gracey and his wife. Also, five of the fourteen Gracey children died in infancy; are there any records for any of them except for Ida? Was Emory’s middle name Anderson or Augustus? Fun facts: Alvie Lee Gracy served as a registrar who did registration of men for the World War I draft; he signed his nephew William Emory Goforth’s registration card. Addie May Gracey Goodnight’s daughter Pauline Goodnight married a man named Clarence Clifton Knight, so that she became Pauline Goodnight Knight.