Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: The Language of Cats, continued

"Catatonic." Self-explanatory.

(Not captured in picture: twitching of left hind foot. Probably dreaming about chasing birds.)

For the original post in this series, see The Language of Cats - An Illustrated Glossary.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memory Monday: Fashion Sense

I didn’t have any – not in my youth, at any rate. In middle age I have gone to the other extreme, wearing very conservative clothes in plain colors, no prints. It must be that I don’t trust myself to put together anything tasteful.

I have tried to find some old junior high school/high school pictures to illustrate my poor fashion judgment, but mercifully, I couldn’t find any. No, really. Cross my heart.

I entered junior high school in the late 1960s, a time which, depending on your point of view, was either a wonderful period of exuberant experimentation and inspired innovation in fashion, or a dismal illustration of the appalling consequences of a lack of inhibition, restraint, and taste. I go with the latter interpretation. Now I do, that is. Unfortunately, then, in the 60s, I did not.

So, from “kid” clothes of the 6th grade, I went to matched sets in 7th grade: a china blue and white print skirt and jacket set and a bright (= neon) orange and yellow floral print skirt with yellow top and bright orange belt. None of these colors were flattering. To make it worse, another fad of the day were those lacy, textured stockings, and I had a matching set for both of those outfits. This was truly the realm of fashion nightmare. (Please, God, tell me there are no pictures of me in the Curtis Junior High School yearbook.)

As our family fortunes declined through my junior high and high school years, we had less to spend on clothing. This meant that each choice I made became even more critical, since we couldn’t just go out and buy replacement clothes if and when I ever realized what terrible choices I had made. I wish I could say that I was up to the challenge, but I’m afraid that wasn’t so. Oh, having less money helped a bit, because often I could not afford the truly disastrous fashions I yearned for. But every once in a while I had an opportunity to grab something outright atrocious and I took it. There were bellbottoms, both the hugely flared, drag-on-the-ground ones and a more modestly flared pair of high-waisted suspender bellbottoms, worn with a frilly white shirt.

Almost everyone at Seymour High School wore pants almost all of the time, and that made sense – many of the kids lived on farms and had farm chores to do. I was shocked to find when I moved to Texas from California that many people did indeed wear cowboy hats and pointy-toed boots (affectionately referred to as “kicker boots”), including girls. The closest I ever came to wearing any cowboy-style clothes was when I bought a brown leather fringed jacket (and this was as much hippie as it was cowboy) in my senior year when someone went down to Mexico to buy a bunch of them for cheap. I loved that jacket. It was warm, comfortable, and not too bad looking. Unfortunately, I lost it after I went to college.

Next weekend I am going clothes shopping with my younger daughter, the one with a taste for bright colors and hippie-esque clothes. She has increasingly found herself “borrowing” her sister’s more conservative (but immensely more flattering) shirts, so she wants to buy something like that. We’ll see who’s a good or bad influence on whom.

One of my last "hippie" skirts. Why is this still in my closet?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SNGF: My Favorite Song

Randy Seaver’s latest Genea-Blogger mission, should we decide to accept it:

1. What is your all-time favorite song? Yep, number 1. It's hard to choose sometimes. If you made your favorite all-time Top 40 music selections, what would be #1?

2. Tell us about it. Why is it a favorite? Do you have special memories attached to this song?

3. Write your own blog post about it, or make a comment on this post or on the Facebook entry.

Like many other Genea-bloggers, I have so many favorite songs that it is difficult to choose just one. These songs cover many different genres, but I have chosen Voi che sapete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro because my daughter has recently also discovered Frederica von Stade in the role of Cherubino, so it is something we can share.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 25 September 2009


This has been a really “Smith” week. I have continued to prepare for the brick wall workshop tomorrow (wish me luck!). The presentation delivered at last night’s meeting of the Fairfax Genealogical Society by Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG, “Where is Great-Grandma Hiding? Finding Forgotten Females,” was a good preparation for the workshop. It more or less sounds as though I’ll have to dig up every document on all the children and every other known relative of my brick wall, Susan Elizabeth Smith (Bonner Brinlee).

This week I finished “matching” families in the 1870 and 1880 censuses and ended up with 45 families who appear on both censuses and 17 families who appear on only one census (although for three or four of these families I did find families who might be a match). Then I sorted them into categories based on how well they fit the profile information I have for Lizzie, coming up with 9 families in category 1 (“good fit”), 14 families in category 2 (“pretty good fit”), 19 families in category 3 (“not a very good fit”), and 20 families in category 4 (“poor fit”). Usually getting relegated to category 3 or 4 was due to information that showed up in the second census indicating something like Elizabeth Smith was the same as Matilda E. Smith or that an Elizabeth or Susan Smith from 1870 had probably died by 1880. Other “low category” information would be high property values (I don’t think Lizzie Smith came from well-off family), bad place of birth match (although not being born in Tennessee or not staying in Tennessee wouldn’t totally disqualify a candidate). Of course, the information in the censuses can be incorrect and/or I may have the wrong picture about some of Lizzie’s biographical data, so I don’t rule any families out. They remain in the database, but for now I probably won’t be doing as much to find out more about them as I will for families in category 1 or 2. This makes the task of finding more information on these families easier. I am hoping that I can narrow the 23 “good fit” families down as I find out more about them.

There are a couple of leads that look kind of promising. One is a family with a sister named Cordelia; Lizzie named her daughter Cordelia. This is also a family where the father died when the Lizzie in this family was young, so that could account for childhood poverty. The other lead is for a candidate for Lizzie’s first husband, whose last name may have been Bonner. I also sent off for a Social Security Application for one of Lizzie’s children that may provide reliable confirmation that her maiden name was Smith. (Two of her children's death certificates indicate that her maiden name was Smith.)

Featured Family Friday: Christopher Hindman and Lucy Lewis

Christopher C. Hindman
b. 20 May 1877, South Carolina
d. 18 Nov 1947, Greenville, Greenville Co., South Carolina
& Lucy Lewis
b. 7 Feb 1868
d. 24 Nov 1967, Greenville, Greenville Co., South Carolina
|--Christopher Hindman Jr.*
|----b. 14 Jan 1902, South Carolina
|----d. 5 Feb 1978, Polk, North Carolina
|---& Grace McDonald
|----b. 8 Nov 1901, Oconee Co., SC
|----d. 10 Jul 1969, Greer, Greenville, South Carolina
|----m. 1925
|--Christopher Hindman Jr.*
|----b. 14 Jan 1902, South Carolina
|----d. 5 Feb 1978, Polk, North Carolina
|---& Elsie P.
|--James Hindman
|----b. 24 Dec 1904, South Carolina
|----d. 1 Nov 1957, Greenville, Greenville Co., South Carolina
|--Henry Lewis Hindman
|----b. 1907, South Carolina
|--& Joyce E. Williams
|--Elinor Dorothy Hindman
|----b. 1909, South Carolina
|---& Davenport
|--Hilda Hindman
|----b. 1912, South Carolina
|---& McCuen

Lucy Lewis, the daughter of Elisha Berry Lewis and his second wife, Frances Eleanor Campbell, was the half-sister of my great-grandmother Martha E. Lewis (Moore). Christopher C. (I believe the “C” stands for Columbus) Hindman was the son of Patrick Hindman and Elizabeth Holliday. My information on the children is rather sketchy; most of it comes from the obituary of Christopher Hindman, Jr. As you can see, Lucy Lewis’ Hindman must have been 99 when she died. The SSDI for her actually gave her year of birth as 1878, but she shows up on the 1870 census as a two-year-old and on the 1880 census as a 12-year-old, so I took 7 February as the date of her birth from the SSDI and corrected the year to 1868. From the 1900 census onward, she becomes progressively younger.

If you are related to or researching this family, you can use the “Contact” button on the left side of this blog to get in touch with me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Morning Glories

During some of our recent overcast days these beauties have remained open all day long.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Off-Topic Tuesday: Genealogist Action Figure?

OK, this is (almost) totally off-topic and completely random, but was inspired by one of those silly conversations that my husband and I often have (sometimes aided and abetted by our daughters).

We got onto the subject of action figures, specifically, action figures for people in regular jobs (not adventure-type professions), people who have certain personality types, or people who have certain types of hobbies.

My husband described my action figure as “Crazy Cat Lady with Crazy Bird Lady Expansion Pack.”

I, of course, would have opted for an “Obsessed Genealogist/Geneaholic” action figure, but what would that look like? Would it be a subset of the Nerd/Geek action figure, only with grayer hair and even poorer eyesight? Or would it be a type of Fearless Hunter action figure, only armed with camera, tape recorder, and ahnentafels? What kind of accessories would it have? Would it have themes the way Barbie does – Courthouse Crawler Genealogist, Tombstone Tracker Genealogist, Brickwall Basher Genealogist?

What do you think?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Memory Monday: Stormy Weather

(No, this is not an account of teen angst.)

Many things in northeast Texas (aka Texoma) were not terribly different from Southern California, and climate was one of them. Neither area had “real seasons”: hot to brutally hot summers and mild winters that often lingered in the 60- and 70-degree range. A 70º Christmas was no big surprise in either state, though a white Christmas would have been.

And yet there were some perceptible differences. The quality of the heat was somehow different, with San Bernardino’s somewhat higher humidity taking the edge off the searing heat. And San Bernardino would only have a handful of days over 100º during the year. Seymour would have 100º-plus days for weeks on end and often made the national news as the hottest point in the US on a given day.

My only experience in California with Texas-type heat had been our trips to Southern California’s “real” deserts (as opposed to the built-up, cultivated areas of the desert cities). The phrase often uttered about dry climates – “At least it’s dry heat” – is valid only so far up the thermometer scale; I’d say it stops being true at 105º. 105º and up is always miserable. Although you don’t immediately wilt every time you go outside the way you do here in swampy Northern Virginia at a “mere” 90º, you are forced into what I can only describe as a “slow motion” existence. (I’ve always thought that Texans’ slow-moving, slow-talking ways were a survival adaptation to this brain-frying heat.) Band marching practice on borderline days was pure torture. We could consume large amounts of water without having to take bathroom breaks. Marching competitions on bad days meant that we had to arm ourselves with salt tablets.

Then there was tornado season. I had been through “near hurricane conditions” in California, so I wasn’t a total wind wimp. Or maybe I was too oblivious and over-confident in that stupid teenage way to be properly alarmed by those tornado warnings that would flash across the bottom of the TV screen. Thing was, Seymour had never had a direct hit from a tornado; apparently its location in a sort of depression in the ground let it escape tornado touch-downs coming from the usual direction. But there were people in Seymour who had lived in neighboring areas that had been hit, and there was no mistaking the extra tension they felt each time a tornado warning was issued.

I remember only one really bad wind storm in Seymour, and it was a doozy – the dreaded dust storm, one of the most unpleasant experiences ever. Our doors and windows were sealed shut as tightly as possible, and still a fine dust managed to seep through and cover everything. This was one of those times when I was grateful that we had so few possessions, grateful even for the fact that our flooring was cheap linoleum – at least it was easy to clean. We had to wash everything – walls, floors, furniture, clothing, linens, and every item in our cupboards and closets. Sometimes two or three times. The kitchen walls were the worst – the grime bonded with the deposit of cooking oil vapors to form a dark brown goo.

We did have some cold weather, even in the fall; I remember sitting in our wool band uniforms high in the bleachers at some football games and shivering from the frosty air. I remember only one experience with anything like ice or snow. It was ice, or more correctly, freezing rain. There was a thick, hard, slippery layer of it covering everything. No one could go anywhere until it melted. We had to laugh at a friend’s description of going to check on an elderly neighbor who didn’t have a phone – she had to slip, slide, and scoot all the way over to her neighbor's house on her bottom.

I complain a lot about our swamp-like weather here in Northern Virginia, but I’ve learned to be grateful for it. I’m also grateful that my farming ancestors stuck it out through that blistering North Texas heat.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette

Here are the guidelines for Genea-Musings’ Randy Seaver’s latest version of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

My father was born in 1931 and would have been 78 this November 14; dividing that by four equals 19.5.

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

Well, I could pick 19 or 20; 19 would be my brickwall Lizzie Smith’s father, whom I don’t know (working on it, though!), 20 would be my great-great grandfather Joseph Madison Carroll Norman, who is the head of the family I just happen to be working on (cue the Twilight Zone music!) (well, I have taken a little break to prepare my brickwall materials for a workshop my genealogy society is doing, but most of my work this year is on the Normans).

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."

Since I have just been working on him, this is not too hard to do.

(a) J.M.C. Norman had three wives, Rebecca Monk (my great-great grandmother and my #21 – remember that SNGF?), Mary Patterson, and Mary Frances Karr.

(b) By those three wives, J.M.C. Norman had about 27 children (that is why I am spending so much time on this family).

(c) J.M.C. Norman served in Company H, 25th Regiment Alabama Infantry during the Civil War.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Featured Family Friday: John Sloan Lewis and Carrie Lanora Orr

John Sloan Lewis
b. 12 May 1856, Anderson Co., South Carolina
d. 7 Jul 1940, Dallas County, TX
& Carrie Lanora Orr
b. 21 Nov 1858, South Carolina
d. 7 Jul 1934, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
m. 1875
|--William B. Lewis
|----b. 31 Aug 1875, South Carolina
|----d. 27 Feb 1928, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
|--Eddie Brennon Lewis Sr.
|----b. 13 Oct 1877, South Carolina
|----d. 2 Apr 1970, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
|---& Blanche Hansford
|----b. 28 Aug 1884, Ohio
|----d. 29 Aug 1967, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
|----m. 1902
|--Roy Henry Lewis
|----b. 21 Dec 1880, Texas
|----d. 10 Jan 1959, Pauls Valley, Garvin Co., OK
|---& Bessie Lee Scrivner
|----b. 1 Oct 1884, Indian Territory, Oklahoma
|----d. 5 Jan 1963, Pauls Valley, Garvin Co., OK
|----m. 8 Jun 1904, Chickasaw Nation, Ardmore, Oklahoma
|--Kemp Lewis
|----b. 21 Feb 1883, Lancaster, Texas
|----d. 11 Sep 1957, Houston, Harris County, Texas
|---& Shirley May Whilden
|----b. 11 Dec 1892, Indianapolis, Indiana
|----d. 9 Feb 1949, Galveston, Galveston, Texas
|----m. 30 Oct 1912, Dallas County, TX
|--Oscar Lee Lewis
|----b. 8 Aug 1885, Texas
|----d. 21 Sep 1972, Grand Prairie, Tarrant, Texas
|---& Sarah Alston
|----b. 13 Jun 1885, Texas
|----d. 31 Jan 1975, Arlington, Tarrant, Texas
|----m. 2 May 1905, Cliff Temple Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas
|--Howard Guy Lewis
|----b. 23 Mar 1888, Lancaster, Texas
|----d. 3 Aug 1969, Temple, Bell, TX

This is the family of the youngest brother of my great-grandmother Martha E. Lewis (Moore). John Sloan Lewis’ parents were Elisha Berry Lewis and Martha Poole. Carrie was the daughter of Captain William and Jane Orr. Below is John Sloan Lewis’ obituary, taken from the Dallas Morning News, 9 July 1940, Section II, p. 9:

Early County Peace Officer, Mule Driver Passes; Funeral Tuesday for J. Sloan Lewis

“A mule driver from the days when freight wagons rumbled between Dallas and Lancaster, deputy sheriff who went after outlaws with saddle and sixgun, will be laid away with the body of J. Sloan Lewis, 84, Tuesday.

Hit by a sudden stroke at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the man who owned the third telephone ever installed in Oak Cliff managed to drag himself from his apartment at 816 East Ninth Street to the door of a son and ask that a doctor be called. He made his way back to his room before he lost consciousness forever.

Mr. Lewis died Sunday night. He will be buried in Laurel Land Memorial Park following funeral services at the Sparkman-Brand Chapel at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

In County Sixty-Three Years

Dallas County had known the 6-foot 2-inch 235-pound frame of Irishman John Sloan Lewis for sixty-three years. When he first to Oak Cliff, he sometimes shot squirrels with a six-shooter on Ewing, and no more than 3,000 people lived on the bluffs across the river. When he first installed his telephone, it was such a curiosity that the neighbors came for miles to use it.

He first settled in Lancaster in 1877, coming there from his native city, Anderson, S.C. He hired out as a cotton buyer to R. P. Henry, Lancaster private banker. Part of his job was to run the mule train that hauled Lancaster cotton into Dallas and took groceries back to the Lancaster stores. On some trips he carried thousands of dollars of the Henry bank’s money hidden away under his load.

A short time afterward, his brother, W. Henry Lewis, became sheriff of Dallas County, and Mr. Lewis went to work as deputy at Lancaster.

Mr. Lewis moved to Oak Cliff in 1893 and settled down on the lot where he died. Until he retired some ten years ago, he was joint special claims agent for half a dozen railroads under the direction of the Texas & Pacific. Since his retirement, he had devoted his time to managing his rent properties and real estate.

Familiar Oak Cliff Figure

He remained one of the Cliff community’s familiar figures. Still weighing more than 200 pounds, he had lost little of his vigor. At 84, his teeth were still sound. He never used spectacles except when he was reading. Until three years ago, he drove his own automobile.

The Rev. Leo Johnston and the Rev. Bertram Smith will conduct the funeral service. W. R. Carnihan, J. C. Simmons, Charles H. Tosch, Sam J. Smith, I. G. Etheridge and L. A. Stacey will be pallbearers.

The survivors include five sons, E. B. Lewis, Roy H. Lewis, Oscar L. Lewis and Guy Lewis of Dallas and Kemp Lewis of Houston; two sisters, Miss Julia Lewis of Los Angeles, and Mrs. C. C. Hindman of Greenville, S.C., and his brother, W. Henry Lewis of Dallas.”

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

Family Newsletter Friday: 18 September 2009

Smith (Brinlee)

Another week full of brickwall research, specifically, reviewing Smith families in Tennessee that might be Lizzie Smith's family. Right now I’m trying to find “matching” families for the stragglers, that is, for families found only in the 1870 or 1880 census, to find them in the other census. At this point I have 43 “matched” families and 19 unpaired families. Although I consider it a great success that I was able to find matching entries for a couple of families that had only initials, I was helped by the fact that they were rather large families and remained in the same county for both censuses. The next task will be to sort the families into categories based on how well they “fit” as families for Lizzie Smith.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordy Wednesday: Volunteer Gourd

... aka "Squumpkin." So tagged by my husband, who noticed that a volunteer squash/cucurbit-type plant was growing along the edge of the wall on one side of our yard: "What is it, a squash, or pumpkin, or ...?" Now he is babying "Squumpkin" along, and soon we'll have ... lots of decorative gourds.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Family Fun: The Old-Time Settlers’ Reunion

Research an event your ancestor may have attended. Did your ancestor live within a few blocks of the parade route for the annual Fourth of July parade in the town where they lived? If your family lived in a rural area, perhaps they attended a county or state fair. If they lived in a big city, perhaps they attended a play or movie opening. Was there an amusement park or traveling carnival near the area your family was from, one they might have visited? Were there fireworks displays in the town your family was from? How much do you know about the types of entertainment your ancestors might have enjoyed? This "fun" edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.

The first family I “discovered” on my own at the beginning of my research back in 2005 was the family of my grandfather Kirby Runion Moore. His parents were Harlston Perrin Moore and Maratha E. Lewis. They came to Dallas County, Texas, from South Carolina in 1877. H. P. Moore was a tenant farmer, and that meant a pretty hardscrabble life, which may not have left a lot of time for entertainment or attending events. However, when the Twenty-Sixth Reunion of the Dallas County Old Settler’s Association was held practically on the Moores’ doorstep – in the nearby town of Hutchins (the Moores are listed on the Hutchins mail delivery route) – this must have been something too good to pass up. “H. P. Moore and wife” are listed among the attendees at the Reunion, as are a number of other people who are among my Dallas ancestors or are associated with them: Emory A. Gracey, the husband of my great-grand aunt Martha Amanda Matlock, and his brother M.D.L. (Marquis de Lafayette) Gracey; Dr. C. M. Rosser, the founder of Baylor Medical School and brother of Virgil O. Rosser, whose children Henry and Julia Lewis helped to raise; and Harvey Taylor “and wife,” aka Sarah Alcina Harris Taylor, my great-great-grand aunt. The Graceys came to Texas in the late 1850s and the Matlocks and Harrises came in 1852; the first of my ancestors to arrive in Dallas were the Floyds, who came here between 1846 and 1848.

An article from the Dallas Daily Times Herald (2 August 1903 issue, p. 16, col. 1-4, transcribed on Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives) provides a good description of the area where the Moores lived at the time, as well as a snapshot of the area’s history up to that time:

“It was fitting that he pioneers should meet at Hutchins. It is a pretty spot, with its green fields, beautiful groves, substantial buildings of brick, well-kept lawns and comfortable homes. Not a mile away, are the lakes of the fishing clubs, where the fur, fin and feather enthusiasts of Dallas pass their leisure moments. Hutchins is an old town, and a small town. Thirty-one years ago, the Central built a passenger station there and "in the good old times," two saloons flourished, horse racing was a recognized sport, and now and then, men came to blows. This was long ago. Hutchins is a local option precinct now, and artesian water is the only intoxicant to be found by the thirsty in the village. It's a beautiful country, as fertile as the Mississippi delta and dotted here and there with homes of prosperous tillers of the soil. Four miles away is the thrifty town of Lancaster, "the best town in Dallas county" its admirers say, and this alone, tells the story why Hutchins has never spread out. More than sixty years ago, settlers from Illinois and Tennessee poured into the country where the town of Lancaster now stands.”

“Hutchins had made elaborate arrangements for the reception and entertainment of its guests. Clark's grove is an ideal spot for a picnic or reunion. It is a short distance from town and overlooks a stretch of meadow, and in the distance, is a beautiful lake. At 10 o'clock, a goodly crowd had assembled, Dallas and Lancaster sending the largest delegations. It was, point of number, the largest reunion held in recent years, and in point of hospitality, equal to any reunion held since the birth of the organization.”

The article mentions the four states in which the Peters Colony investors (the Peters Colony was an area in North Texas granted to these investors by the Republic of Texas) did most of their advertising for settlers: Illinois (where my Floyd and Finley families originated), Kentucky (where the Matlocks and Harrises originated), Tennessee, and Missouri.

I remember old-time settlers’ reunions being held in Seymour at the park near our house and how much my mother enjoyed attending these reunions, where she was able to get together with many people she had grown up with. These old-time settlers reunions in Seymour actually grew out of the old settlers’ reunion and rodeo, which originated in the cowboys’ reunion first held in Seymour in 1896. Apparently the second Cowboys’ Reunion, held in 1897, set the standard for the event:

“In August of 1897 the second Cowboy’s Reunion was held at Seymour, and this reunion was a greater affair than the first and still stands out in the minds of the old timers as unequalled in the annuals [sic] of Seymour Rodeos. This time there were in attendance Quanah Parker and his band of Comanche Indians, from 300 to 500 strong. The Indians were one of the principal attractions. One night they staged a regular Indian War Dance under the direction of their chief, Quanah Parker, all in full regalia and lighted by a huge camp fire. People came from great distances to see that spectacular event. Better preparations were made for the 1897 reunion, and more cowboy contestants were here. A circular race track was prepared on the hill east of Seymour one mile long, and the arena for cowboy contests was the ground inside of that race track. Most spectators came in wagons and buggies and lined up around the race track, thus forming an enclosure. Bronc riding, steer roping, horses racing, and steer bulldogging were the principal contests, with tournament riding and baseball games filling in the gaps.” [Baylor County Historical Society: Salt Pork to Sirloin: The History of Baylor County, Texas from 1879 to 1930, Nortex Offset Publications, Inc., 1972, p. 147.]

Genealogists love to play the “If I had a time machine” imagination game; well, if I had a time machine, these reunions were definitely events that I would attend. We could not only meet our ancestors, but the people they knew, and we could hear their stories of the old days. If only….

Monday, September 14, 2009

Memory Monday: Finding Something to Do in a Small Town

Seymour, Texas, population 3467. Or something like that. I remember a similar figure on the signs at the town’s limits back in 1969. It probably hasn’t changed much.

There is not a lot to do in a small town.

The first limitation I noticed in Seymour was on the number of TV channels. There were three, two from “nearby” (50 miles away) Wichita Falls, and one from more distant Lawton, Oklahoma which did not have reliable reception. This small number did not shock me, even though I had been spoiled by living in TV-channel-rich Southern California, because one of my numerous “short-term” residences had been in Renton, Washington, where there had only been four channels.

The other major potential source of entertainment, the town library, was rather small, although it did contain many of the classics. Before moving to Seymour, I had lived with my Uncle Howard and Aunt Joy in Wilmington, California, for about half a year. It was there that Aunt Joy had taken my younger cousin and me to see Sergey Bondarchuk’s movie version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. My cousin and I had become obsessed with it, and I was still in the grip of that obsession during that first summer in Seymour, so the first book I checked out of the library was War and Peace. I’ll be the first to admit that my understanding of the novel was greatly benefited by having seen the movie first.

There wasn’t any formal “young adult fiction” category in those days, so the first shelves I checked were Science Fiction and Mysteries. Only there weren’t any shelves for science fiction books. Or any science fiction books at all. The dismay I felt when that realization sank in was probably the low point of my process of adapting to my new surroundings. Which, when I think about it, was not all that low. But it felt really low at the time and was followed by a two-week “I really need to get back to California” pity party.

It was not until my senior year that I discovered the best solution: find a friend with a love of books and the means and wheels (= an adult) to feed that love in the form of a home library. My “book dealer” turned out to be one of my teachers who generously shared her library with my friends and me and ended up being a good friend. We spent many afternoons after school just hanging out and browsing through her books, which occupied an entire room in her house. She did not grant this privilege to just anyone, but favored only those she knew could be trusted with handling her books properly, or, as she put it, “Y’all don’t ‘read up’ my books the way some people do.”

There was also a tiny movie theater in Seymour. I only remember going there once, and that was to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. Seeing a grandiose futuristic movie in a cramped and decrepit theater was … strange.

Shopping in Seymour was not a form of entertainment. For most clothing and certain other items, we had to go to Wichita Falls. Mom and I did not have much “disposable income” for nonessentials or for the gas to drive to Wichita Falls (the bus fare for my oboe lessons in Wichita Falls used up most of that), so these trips were few and far between. My two most memorable purchases in Wichita Falls were: the soundtrack to War and Peace (yes, there was one, scandalously expensive at $5, for which I had to do a zillion chores to earn the money) and a Russian book (also expensive at $14.95, but I used some of my graduation money).

And the final major source of entertainment was just hanging out. Driving around town or sitting at home or walking to the park and talking. Or driving to the Dairy Mart and seeing who all was there.

Gosh, I miss being able to do nothing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 11 September 2009

Smith (Brinlee)

The past week has been devoted almost exclusively to brick wall census work, or in other words my Smith line (Susan Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith (Bonner Brinlee)). I completed the initial compilation of “possibles” and am now working on finding as many families as I can in both the 1870 and 1880 censuses. Initially I was able to pair up about eight families from both censuses right away due to some very distinctive names. Now I am part way through finding the 1870 families in the 1880 census. After I find as many of them as possible, I’ll check to see if the unpaired families match any of the 1880 families and then look for the remaining unpaired 1880 families in the 1870 census.

This is very time-consuming work, but it is particularly useful in “weeding out” certain families: when an Elizabeth Smith from the 1870 census turns up as Matilda E. Smith on the 1880 census, I can mostly rule her out. (Note: Due to the unreliability of human memory and the fallibility of census-takers, no one is being completely ruled out or removed from the “possible Lizzie Smiths” database. However, I am prioritizing and categorizing the families, and this definitely narrows down the number of families that I want to devote more attention to based on the closeness of fit to the information I have on Lizzie Smith.)

Despite all the time and effort the work is taking and the uncertainty of ever getting any concrete results (= breaking through the brick wall), this exercise is definitely sharpening my search skills. When the names are all common, you have to use and recombine a lot of different search parameters and be careful about making assumptions. For instance, I have to remember that many families may not have remained in Tennessee.


Added to Norman To Do List: Check Arkansas County Marriages under Record Search (there are a lot of my Normans listed there).


Other positive news for the week is that I cleaned up and reorganized a lot of my genealogy materials and workspace, particularly my files and books. Everything is much more accessible and easier to locate now. Most family-related materials have found their proper binders or folders. I’m hoping that will help speed up my research a bit.

Featured Family Friday: William Henry Lewis and Julia Mister

William Henry Lewis
--b. 11 Mar 1851, Franklin Co., Georgia
--d. 21 Feb 1946, Baylor Hospital, Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas
& Julia Mister
--b. 12 Oct 1871, Grenada, Mississippi
--d. 22 Sep 1945, Dallas County, TX
--m. 1893

Julia Mister and William Henry Lewis – aka “Dearest” and “Duse” – are one of my favorite families. They had no children of their own, but they helped to raise the children of Julia’s best friend Bettie Curtice Rosser, who died when the children were still young, and Bettie’s husband Virgil Rosser, who had to travel a great deal on business (you can read more about them in Uncle, Uncle – William Henry Lewis: A Little Man Who Stood Tall.

W. H. Lewis was the son of Elisha Berry Lewis and Martha Poole of Anderson County, South Carolina; his sister, Martha E. “Mattie” Lewis (Moore) was my great-grandmother. Henry and Martha were born in Franklin County, Georgia, where the E. B. Lewis family lived in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Julia Mister was the daughter of Wilbur Fiske Mister and his first wife, Corinne Campbell.

The picture at the top shows Dearest and Duse at their home in Dallas and was probably taken in the early 1940s. The second picture shows a young Julia on the right and one of her friends (or possibly her half-sister or cousin) on the left sitting on mules; it may have been taken near the Grand Canyon.

Below are the obituaries of William Henry and Julia Mister Lewis; they are transcribed from the materials of the William Henry and Julia Mister Lewis Collection of John R. Hornady, III, privately held by Greta K.

Obituary of William Henry Lewis, handwritten date 2-22-46, negative photocopy from the Dallas Morning News, 22 Feb 1946, entitled “Early-Day Officer Dies in Dallas”

William Henry Lewis, 95, colorful early-day peace officer and the first Dallas County sheriff to hold office for three terms, died Thursday afternoon at Baylor Hospital. He lived at 1520 South Boulevard.

One of fourteen children, Lewis was born in Franklin Co., Ga., and spent his early boyhood on a farm in Anderson County, South Carolina. He had a constant ambition to come to Texas and at the close of the Civil War spent his savings of $45 on a railroad ticket.

He split rails at 1 c each to replenish the funds and later did survey work for the railroad along the route. He got to Dallas in 1873 and located on a farm near Lisbon,.

Long Time Deputy Sheriff.

His first public office was as Deputy Tax Assessor of Dallas County under Dod Rollins. Under Sheriff Ben Jones, he became a deputy. He continued in this job under Sheriff W. H. W. Smith.

He then held the office of Constable of Precinct 1, Dallas County, and in the fall of 1886 was elected Sheriff. He was re-elected in 1888 and 1890.

Many stories of Lewis’ remarkable character and quiet courage are told of his days as Sheriff.

One relates how Lewis, while unarmed, induced one of the infamous Starr brothers to follow him meekly to jail after he had shot up a downtown saloon.

Retiring from office he entered the real estate business with the late Col. O. P. Bowser. They formed the firm of Bowser & Lewis and Lewis continued in this business until his death.

Active in Masonry.

He was a member of the Presbyterian Church York Rite and Scottish Rite degrees of Masonry, the Shriners, the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of Honor and the Elks.

At one time he served as a member of the city’s equalization board and was frequently called in to help on various real estate condemnation and valuation committees.

He was interested in navigation of the Trinity River. He was one of the founders of the Oakland Cemetery and helped keep the Texas State Fair operating in the days before the city assumed the debt.

Surviving are two half-sisters, Miss Julia Lewis, San Diego, Calif., and Mrs. C. C. Hindman, Greenville, SC, and two nephews, Roy Lewis and Ed Lewis, both of Dallas.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p. m. Saturday at Sparkman-Brand Funeral Chapel, 2113 Ross.

Obituary of Mrs. William Henry Lewis [nee Julia Mister], clipping from unidentified newspaper, entitled “Lewis Rites Set Monday.”

Lewis Rites Set Monday

Funeral services for Mrs. William Henry Lewis, who died Saturday at her home, 1520 South Boulevard, were to be held at 4 p. m. Monday at the Sparkman-Brand Funeral Chapel,2115 Ross Ave. Rev. Philip Sarles, pastor of the Central Congregational Church, was to officiate.

Mrs. Lewis was born in Granada, Miss., but moved to Plano, Tex. with her parents as a child, in 1883. Her father was the late Prof. Wilbur H. Mister, founder of Plano Institute and later connected with Polytechnical College at Fort Worth. Her mother, the late Corinne Campbell Mister, was born in Charleston, S.C.

In 1893 she became the bride of William H. Lewis of Dallas, where Mr. Lewis was active in real estate and business circles.

Mrs. Lewis had been prominent in Dallas literary and civic activities. She was a member of the Southern Memorial Association, Pierian Club, Browning Club, and in early years she was one of the leading Dallas musicians.

Among friends from out-of-town who attended the services were Mrs. Jack R. Hornady of Tarrytown, N.Y.; Mrs. Rosser Zoll of New York, N.Y.; Dr. and Mrs. Virgil O. Rosser Jr. of Graham, Tex.; Mrs. V.O. Rosser, Sr., of Graham, Tex., and Mrs. Francis M. Black of Kincaid, Kan. Mrs. Wilbur Hawkins was soloist and Mrs. A. A. Cocke paid a tribute at the service.

Pallbearers were Dr. Curtice Rosser, Roscoe P. DeWitt, J.E. Gamble, Gwynne S. Curtis, J.W. Shepard, Jr., and Roy H. Lewis.

[Mrs. Francis M. Black is Edna, Julia’s half-sister.]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Smile for the Camera: School Days

The word prompt for the 16th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "School Days." It is September, historically the month when a new school year begins. We all have images of the days spent in school. The barefoot children gathered together with their teacher in front of the rural school your ancestors attended. Children at their desks, children at play in the school yard, and those obligatory school photographs - one for every year. Show us your family memories of school days. Admission is free with every photograph!

My mother attended school only through the eighth grade. I’m not sure whether any of her older siblings graduated from high school, either, but I believe that most or all of her younger siblings did graduate. They must have attended Bomarton High School, as it would have been the closest high school to their farm at the time, and there are pictures of my Uncle Pete wearing what looks like a school sweater with a big letter “B” on it. One of the high school teachers was my Aunt Johnny, who later married my Uncle Pete.

The top picture shows my Aunt Johnny (second from left in the front row) with some of her students; one of them is my Aunt Lil (far left in the front row). The next two pictures are of my Aunt Rene in her cap and gown. The bottom picture [privately held by Vernetta M.] shows what is left of the Bomarton High School building.

The following is an excerpt from an article on the Bomarton School System from Salt Pork to Sirloin: The History of Baylor County from 1878 to 1930 (Seymour, Texas: Baylor County Historical Society, 1972, pp. 182-183):

“In 1926 Bomarton had a lady superintendent, Mrs. Ware, who advocated,practiced, and defended the wearing of “nicker trousers” by her Biology students because “this progressive age demanded it, and it was more virtuous to wear trousers than the fashionable dresses of today in the biology research work.” J. Ney Thomas, a board member, led the opposition by stating that “Mrs. Ware was setting the wrong example before the High School girls,” and “Wearing of men’s apparel by women is an abomination in the sight of God” (Deuteronomy, Bible). The vote for and against the wearing of trousers was a tie and W. F. Truman, president of the school board, broke the tie by siding with the ladies!

“For many years, Bomarton was one of only three high schools in the County, and at one time had 242 pupils, but in 1950 it succumbed to better educational facilities by consolidating with Seymour Rural High School, although there was a grade school in the community until 1955 that was a part of the Seymour school system.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Memory Monday: Band

Before writing this article I was wondering how I could write about the huge role band played in my high school life. Luckily, I was seized by a file organizing frenzy this weekend and came across a tribute and compilation of band memories I had written as my contribution to a presentation to be made to our band teacher, Miss S., at a Seymour High School Band reunion a few years ago. For many high school students, their high school identity was in large part defined by their participation in a particular high school activity group: athletics, performing arts, or academic competition. And very often, the loyalty and esprit de corps shared by the members of these groups can be traced to the strong presence of the teacher/advisor/mentor figure of these groups.

So it was with Miss S. She was a force of nature, and she guided the band to a state championship among the strong competition of several hundred other schools. Though technically “retired,” she is still active and going strong and was recently inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame. Below are some excerpts from the tribute and recollection I wrote (with comments added later in brackets):

“I played the oboe and remember sitting in the front row between the flutes and clarinets. I was in the band my junior and senior years. I had never played an instrument before but had always wanted to, so I began lessons with the director of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra. I do remember:

• Spending tons of time making new reeds and trying to keep the old ones in shape.
• Embouchure (had to look the spelling of that one up).
• Trying to coax a decent sound out of the school oboe (and usually failing). [Our band was filled with an amazing number of talented musicians for a small-town high school band; I was not one of them. I had studied violin for a few months, but it didn’t help much. Nor did a previous severe ear infection, which impaired my hearing in one ear, especially when I had to blow hard on the cheap high-school oboe.]
• Trying to keep warm when we played at late fall football games, trying to keep cool when we marched in the blazing sun, trying to look cool when we had to wear … those uniforms. [Think of the typical block-cut band coat and pants, heavy wool, maroon.]
• Pride in our stride.
• Welcome to Flying Bandstands....
• Instruments … UP!!!
• Band study hall. [I remember friends copying the music for our school song to be used by the high school band playing in the Peter Bogdanovich movie “The Last Picture Show,” the location shooting for which was being done in a couple of nearby towns; Archer City itself is not far from Seymour and Seymour is mentioned once or twice in Larry McMurtry’s book.]

The pieces I remember best: “Them Basses” (repetitive, thus easy to remember) and Russian Easter Overture (my favorite among the pieces we played during my two years in band). When I mentioned to my husband that I would be writing about band memories, he told me I should just put on my coat and walk briskly around the block several times (it’s about 90 degrees here in Virginia). That’s more or less what I remember: heat. Especially the time I passed out from the heat (see “Most Embarrassing Experience”). And the boards. And diagonals. And trying to achieve a 180-degree field of view without turning my head. [Explanation for “the boards”: a hellish contraption consisting of eight or ten boards, about 8” high when stood on a side instead of lying flat, nailed to two long boards at about one foot intervals to keep them upright. We had to march back and forth over them while playing our music for a God-awful number of repetitions; this was to give us the proper marching interval and to make us lift our knees and feet high when we marched. Practice started about three weeks before school did, early in the August stretch of 100+-degree days.]

As for concert season: the excitement of a new piece of music, getting to know the music, getting bored with the music, and finally rediscovering the music as the band finally got it all together on a piece – usually just in time for concert competition. The contests are mostly a blur. I mainly remember the look on Miss S’s face before a competition – the look that said she expected nothing less than our very best.

Most embarrassing experience: see above. There were far too many funny moments to recount them here, though this brings to mind some of my favorite memories of Miss S., which have mainly to do with her reactions when we played various practical jokes on her.

There have been at least two important areas where Miss S. influenced my life. The first would be fostering a love of music. More than that, she helped to transform what was a passive appreciation for music into an active one, a fascination for the structure of music as well as for all the elements that go into a performance. And I am always a sucker for any TV entertainment involving marching bands or band contests (my family knows to expect dismissive snorts on the low quality of the diagonals).

The other area where Miss S. was a tremendous influence was in the area of self-discipline and the ability to take criticism without being intimidated and to use the criticism as a spur to improvement. This was a lesson that was actually easy to apply in my chosen area of study (and eventually work), foreign languages. My Russian professor at Georgetown was a renowned practitioner of incentivization through intimidation (his Intensive Basic Russian course was known as “Terror Tactics I” and there was a thriving underground literature – apocryphal, I think – of incidents of students fainting/fleeing/dying from fear over minor lapses in his classes), so the thick hide developed from being one of Miss S’s students served me well. And I realized that both of these great teachers cared passionately not only about the music or language, but also about making their students learn to go beyond what they had always believed were their limits and refuse to accept anything but the best effort from themselves.

Another component of the discipline that we learned from Miss S. was the ability, or more precisely, the willingness and patience to repeat the same phrase or passage or marching maneuver over and over – to the point of boredom and despair and beyond – until we got it right, and this is the essential element in learning a foreign language.

What message would I like to give to Miss S. today? – Thank you. From you I learned what high standards are and hot to set and achieve them.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Family Newsletter Friday: 4 September 2009

Very little to report this week, since we spent most of the week preparing to take our older daughter back to college in Philadelphia and then moving her there.


The Normans are temporarily on the back burner for a week or two while I prepare a “brick wall background” on Susan Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith (Bonner Brinlee) for the brick wall workshop of the Fairfax Genealogical Society this month.


In preparation for the above brick wall workshop, I am doing a census work-up: all Susan, Elizabeth, Elisabeth, Lizzie, S., E., and L. Smiths born between 1866 and 1870 on the 1870 and 1880 censuses, both those residing in Tennessee and those born in Tennessee. Later I will try to correlate the Smith families that I am able to identify and sort them into groups based on how well they fit based on what I know of Lizzie. There will probably be three groups: good fit, possible, not a very good fit. Some of the criteria for a good fit will include parents born in North Carolina, low economic status (value of property or a family headed by a widow, for instance), good name fit (if a Susan on one census is a Lizzie on the other census, for instance, or a Susan E.), and so forth. So far the “poor fit” families are only those that are obviously well off or have a background that doesn’t fit very well (born in Ireland, for example). Most of the families will come under “possible,” but at this point (I have done most of the families for the 1870 census) I do have a few good candidates that I will discuss later. I will also send off for the Social Security applications of the two of Lizzie’s children who appear on the SSDI.

Favorite word encountered on the census in this project: “Farmeress.”

Featured Family Friday: James West Lewis and Sophia Adeline Millwee

James West Lewis
b. Nov 1835, South Carolina
d. 20 Mar 1904
& Sophia Adeline Milwee
b. 5 Mar 1839, Anderson District, South Carolina
d. 30 Dec 1926, Vernon, Willbarger, Texas
m. 28 Feb 1867
|--Sophia Caroline Lewis
|----b. 2 Dec 1868, South Carolina
|----d. 1932
|---& James A. Puckett
|----b. Oct 1861, Texas
|----d. bef 1930
|----m. 1888
|--Samuel Millwee Lewis
|----b. 2 Feb 1871, South Carolina
|----d. 19 Apr 1942
|---& Edith Cederia Sparks
|----b. 29 Dec 1880, Alabama
|----d. 21 Feb 1975, Slaton, Lubbock, Texas
|----m. 1908
|--Robert Lewis
|----b. 3 Mar 1873, South Carolina
|----d. bef 1880
|--Blake Henry Lewis*
|----b. 10 Jun 1875, South Carolina
|----d. 20 Jan 1962, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|---& Mary Nancy “Mollie” Starr
|----b. Nov 1877, Missouri
|----d. 20 Jul 1917, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|----m. 3 Mar 1900, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|--Blake Henry Lewis*
|----b. 10 Jun 1875, South Carolina
|----d. 20 Jan 1962, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|---& Florence Belzora Osborne
|----b. 29 Feb 1884, Callihan, McMullen Co., Texas
|----m. 22 Aug 1925
|--David J. Lewis
|----b. 22 Apr 1877, Texas
|----d. 7 Jul 1961, Los Angeles, California
|---& Alice A. McKinney
|----b. 26 Feb 1882, Texas
|----d. 11 Dec 1966, Los Angeles, California
|--Manning Hyson Lewis
|----b. 17 Oct 1879, Texas
|----d. 21 Oct 1964, Wichita Falls, Wichita, Texas
|---& Myrtle Mae Kincheloe
|----b. 10 Apr 1886, Hamilton Co., Texas
|----d. 2 Dec 1961, Vernon, Wilbarger Co., Texas
|----m. 15 Aug 1905, Vernon, Wilbarger Co.,

This is the family of my great-grandmother Martha E. Lewis’ oldest brother, James West Lewis. I initially did not know if this James West Lewis was the same as the James W. Lewis I had identified as her brother, but when I saw that one of his sons was named Manning, I knew he was the correct person. This Manning was named for James’ and Martha’s brother Manning, who died in the Civil War. (The latter was named for his grandfather, Manning Poole, whose given name was his mother’s maiden name.) I suspect that son Samuel was named for another Lewis brother who also died in the Civil War and who served in the same unit as James, the 4th Regiment, SC Infantry, Company B.

This Lewis family probably moved from South Carolina to Texas in the same year as the other Lewis siblings who moved (1877, possibly earlier in the year, however), but settled first in Travis County and then in Wilbarger County instead of Dallas County, where the other Lewis siblings settled. Wilbarger County is only one county over from Baylor County, where James’ nephew Kirby Runion Moore, my grandfather, moved in 1917, so I wonder if the cousins were aware that they lived so near to one another.

Sophia Adeline Millwee was a cousin of James West Lewis; if I remember correctly, she was his first cousin once removed.

If you are researching this family, please contact me (using the button at the left of this blog).