Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Paskas Are Ready!

Char McCargo Bah to Speak at Fairfax Genealogical Society Meeting May 27, 2010

The featured speaker at the general membership meeting of the Fairfax Genealogical Society for May will be Char McCargo Bah, noted genealogist and expert in Afro-American history and genealogy. Her topic will be “Locating Slave Owners: It Is in the Details.” According to the summary of the presentation on the Society’s website:

“The purpose of this presentation is to provide several examples in examining the details in records to locate slave owners. The records that will be discussed are census records, death certificates, marriages certificates, church records and other records to locate slave owners.

The meeting will start at 7:30 and will be held in the lecture hall of Kilmer Middle School, 8100 Wolf Trap Road, Vienna, Virginia. You can find out more about Char McCargo Bah’s background in genealogy and a link to a map to Kilmer Middle School here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Memory Monday: My First Job

What did my first job experience have to do with The Exorcist?

Thanks to Barbara of Life from the Roots for the inspiration for this subject.

The first job I ever had was in my freshman year of college as a Russian major at Georgetown. We were poor, so I had a scholarship, a federal loan, and a work-study job. I was almost as excited about having my first job as I was about being at Georgetown and starting Russian studies.

I worked in the language lab. It was used by students of the School of Languages and Linguistics (which, to my eternal irritation, no longer exists, though the individual language departments do) to practice and perfect pronunciation and grammar skills. Language students were required to spend a certain number of hours a week studying in the language lab, depending on the language and the level of the class. For instance, as a student of Intensive Basic Russian, in addition to five hours of grammar class and five hours of drill class each week, I was supposed to spend six hours practicing in the language lab. Added to the 15 hours I worked there each week, this meant that I spent nearly an entire day each week there.

So I got to know the ins and outs of the language lab pretty well. This was back in the Stone Age of Technology, so the tapes we used were reel-to-reel, which meant that they broke easily (my husband still refers to them as “splice-to-splice”), the machines they ran on broke easily, and the tempers of the people who had to use them or repair them broke easily. On a bad day, as many as a third of the machines would be on the fritz. When the number of serviceable tapes got low, we had to wait for a “qualified technician” to make new copies from the master tape. And students had the habit of putting in most of their required hours at the very latest time possible (Thursday, since the signed time cards, when required, were usually due on Friday). The language lab closed at 10:00 p.m. weeknights, so 9:00 on a Thursday night when many of the machines had decided to die could be an ugly time, indeed.

Some professors were very strict about lab time requirements; others were more lax. The Chinese and Arabic professors may not have checked cards, but any student of those languages who did not keep up in the lab hadn’t a chance of keeping up in class, so those students were pretty faithful. Russian students were also regular attendees, but an additional incentive was that Dr. L., of whom everyone was terrified (more about that in a separate Memory Monday … or several), kept track. Likewise, Professor M. (French) was extremely particular about perfect pronunciation and was known to hand out horrible grades for minor imperfections, so most of the French students could be counted on to show up. German and Spanish students were a spottier bunch.

I learned a lot about the differences among students that year. Some of the American and international students who came from wealthy families had never had to work, never had to clean up after themselves, and never had to learn to “be polite to the help.” Being a scholarship/work-study recipient with an accent that identified me as a “hick” might have put me at a disadvantage, but it was one of the times when my shyness disappeared and I found a backbone, as did several of my fellow language-lab workers from similar backgrounds. We got fed up with the “I’m entitled” crowd pretty early on and learned how to deal with them.

Then there were students who didn’t want to put in the time but wanted us to sign off on it. I didn’t keep track of what each person did in his cubicle – study, listen to tapes and repeat the material, read a book, sleep, or whatever – but I could read a clock, and I was not going to sign my name to a lie.

One guy spent about as much time trying to get us to sign off on false times as he did actually working on his language. “Aw, come on, I spent 20 minutes, and I already know this stuff inside out. There’s no point in me doing 40 more minutes.”

“If you have 40 more minutes, then here’s the next tape in the series – you can get a head start on the next lesson,” I replied. A sigh, a shrug, and then resignation. He took the tape and put in his time.

Work at the language lab was not the most stimulating way to pass one’s time. Occasionally there was the excitement of a “machine gone wild” – miles and miles of ribbon spinning out of control.

The best entertainment, however, was for those of us workers who were Russian students. For, on the inside of the lids of a few scattered Russian tape boxes – perhaps eight in all – were the stories of Zaklyuchennyy, aka “The Prisoner.” My introduction to these literary works (they were short, but they were brilliant) clued me in that life as a student of Russian at Georgetown was going to be a Big Adventure and a Wild Ride. Although a few other Russian Department faculty members appeared as minor characters, these stories were largely inspired by Dr. L., who taught Intensive Basic Russian and was the head of the Russian Department at that time.

I don’t want to give too much away before I actually write the My Life as a Russian Student memories, but let’s just say Dr. L. was awfully strict. The Prisoner wrote from the point of view of a poor, put-upon student of Dr. L’s. The most famous tape-box epic was Pero, or “The Pen.” It was an account in purple prose of a terrified student’s horrified realization that he has not brought the required pencil to Dr. L’s class, but has only a pen. And there was a Gorey-esque illustration of the hapless student, perishing from fright. We could identify.

One especially vivid memory I have of working late at night at the language lab, which was located on the fourth floor of Walsh building and had a view onto 36th Street, was watching the filming of the movie The Exorcist. Just half a block away, on the cross street (N?M?), they were filming the dramatic scene in which Max Von Sydow arrives, gets out of the car, and takes that immortal pose. The fog machines were going full blast, and they shot the scene over and over and over again. But we (the students who were supposed to be studying and I) remained glued to the window in fascination until it was time to close the lab. It was spooky, and some of us walked back to our dorms together because it felt strange and a little unsafe to walk by ourselves.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Conference of the Fairfax Genealogical Society

Some scenes from the vendor area of the Conference

Today was an activity-packed second day at the Spring Conference of the Fairfax Genealogical Society. There was also Conference programming Friday afternoon and evening: individual consultations with Conference speakers, an Advanced workshop with Thomas W. Jones, CG (which unfortunately was already all filled up by the time I registered), and a presentation entitled “What is Britain?” by Audrey Collins.

In addition to another two workshops with Thomas Jones (also filled up by the time I registered) and two lunch-time mini-sessions (“ World Archives Project” and “Family Search Indexing Project”) with Jennifer Dondero, today there were three tracks with four lectures each: “Basic Research” with Sharon Hodges, “Research in England” with Audrey Collins, and Mid-Atlantic Colonial Research” with Charles S. Mason, Jr. I attended the two morning sessions of Mid-Atlantic Colonial Research and the two afternoon sessions (Courthouse Research and Original Records) of Basic Research. Both had lots of information that is new to me in areas where I really need to sharpen my research skills, so that alone would have been worth the modest price of admission.

But there was more! There were, of course vendors, and when I arrived bright and early at the opening time of 8:00, they were already in full swing (note for next year: remember to arrive early!). I hit one of my favorites first: Dr. A. Bruce Pruitt, who has lots of materials on North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, including a number of deed abstract books and map books he has compiled for various districts or counties of these states. The three books I bought from him last year have been hugely helpful in my research, so this was where I focused my purchases this year, in contrast to last year, when I was buying more how-to, citation, and terminology books. He is very knowledgeable about the history of these areas and the nature and location of all different types of documents of genealogical relevance and is very generous with sharing his knowledge; stopping to talk with him is like getting another educational session.

Elsewhere I picked up Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose, William Dollarhide’s Census Substitutes & State Census Records Volume 2 – Western States, and, in return for a contribution to the Society, a number of back issues of genealogy magazines. Below is a picture of my “geek” purchase for the day.

And, to counter my trend of never winning anything, I actually won a book – Fairfax County: Historical Highlights from 1607. So now I can’t say that I’ve never won anything.

My rating: A very enjoyable, genealogy-filled day! I’m still hoping to make it to Knoxville this year for the FGS Conference, and I learned at the NGS table today that their 2011 conference is to be held in Charleston, South Carolina (yippee!).

My geek purchase for the day: a lovely wooden bookmark with "Cite Your Source" carved in it

Friday, March 26, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 26 March 2010

Tomorrow I’m going to the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Spring Conference! Hope to report on it tomorrow night.



Pretty much covered in “The Mushroom Factor.” I have found more sources this week and there is still a lot to do!


Although I’m going to stick with Norman research for another week or two, I have resolved to get as much Lizzie Smith research into shape as I can before the FGS Conference in Knoxville in August and I’m planning to do a Google Maps project to show the locations of the top Smith family candidates.

Who Do You Think You Are

My husband and younger daughter have been watching this show with me. This is the week my husband really, really got into it (getting out the books and checking out the units that Matthew Broderick’s ancestors served in). I knew the military aspect, especially the Civil War part, would get him hooked. He’s still telling me what further battles the 20th Connecticut fought in after Matthew Broderick’s great-great grandfather died.

Other TV of Possible Interest to Geneaholics

A new program that may be of interest to people who love History Detectives, Hoarders, and Antique Road Show: American Pickers. I caught the tail end of this show when my husband and daughter were watching it. Guys go around and buy “junk” at garage and barn sales, trying to get “deals” on items that are actually worth a lot of money. Occasionally they get the bad end of the deal.

Bad News for Maine and Massachusetts Researchers

At Upfront with NGSMaine Bill May Close Vital Records and Mass. Records Closed to 1841?


In a fit of Texas and Aggie nostalgia inspired by Caroline Pointer’s post “Wordless Wednesday: Not Really Wordless” at Family Stories, I’ve added an “Aggie Joke of the Week” to the blog. I really miss those jokes.

Forgot to include an article in today’s Follow Friday:

Amy at We Tree in “I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found” relates the happy ending to her search for the “missing” graves of her great-great grandparents.

Follow Friday 26 March 2010

In “You Never Know Who You Might Meet at the Flea Market,” Cindy of Everything’s Relative tells about a remarkable experience with a vendor at a flea market: an orphan photo and genealogy are involved.

Barbara at Life from the Roots writes about her first job in “Sentimental Sunday – My First Job.”

Read the bizarre story of “Madness Monday: The Body Snatchers!” at The Gene Gleaner.

At Kindred Footprints, Sharon has written an impressive and moving five-part tribute to her great aunt Mary Flynn, who became Sister Monica and then Mother Monica. Part V is to appear today.

At The Ancestral Archaeologist, read about some sources of information on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in “Today in History: The Triangle Fire.”

This will be covered in all of the “Best of” lists, but I must mention the stand-out story this week: Jasia at Creative Gene describes in words and heartbreaking pictures the decay of her home city, Detroit, and of her family’s old store and neighborhood in Melancholy and Melancholy Too. A very sad story.

This week I started following these blogs:

Family History Fun
J-Mac's Journey
Greenbriar Valley Graveyards
The Gene Gleaner

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Virginia Room of the Fairfax Regional Library - a Great Resource for African-American History and Genealogy Research

If you live anywhere near Fairfax Virginia and are engaged in African-American genealogy or history research, you may want to check out the Virginia Room of the Fairfax Regional Library, which has a collection that includes slave narratives, materials on the Underground Railroad, slave insurrections and escapes, Civil War materials, transcripts of probate materials, and much more. You can read a Fairfax Times article about this collection here.

The Mushroom Factor

The term “mushroom” factor refers to a phenomenon associated with older (and some not-so-old) houses in which repair projects “mushroom” into far bigger and more expensive projects. (Yes, we live in an old house.) Now I am beginning to think that term can be applied to certain areas of my research.

Did you ever have one of those families that was so big, and had so much information available on it, that the research on it just sort of … mushroomed?

That is what has happened with my Norman family. This is my paternal grandmother’s family – to be precise, the family of her paternal grandfather – Joseph Madison Carroll Norman. He had three wives and is reputed to have had 27 children (he had well over 20, that’s for sure).

Grandma Sallie Norman Brinlee’s parents – William Henry “Jack” Norman and Sarah Jane Sisson – were the last set of great-grandparents I found when I first started researching. In the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of sources of information, and research on this family was slow to pick up steam.

Somewhere along the line, that changed. Radically. I could account for many of those 27 children based on census records as well as cemetery records, but my research was still spotty and it was difficult to trace what had happened to some of the children.

So I adopted a research plan and stuck with it. Part of that plan was to contact as many fellow Norman researchers as I could find. I used e-mail addresses that I found through various forums and had some decent success. Norman researchers are a very generous group, and soon I had information on their families, a number of scanned photographs, and, very important, a copy of the Inez Cline Norman Family History. As I mentioned previously, it is a solid work representing many interviews with JMC Norman's descendants as well as a good bit of legwork.

Now my research was really “cooking with gas.” The Garland County Arkansas History and Heritage book arrived in the mail. Each bit of new information pointed to more sources of information.

Until recently, I felt I was keeping up with all of these different sources. Then this weekend I realized that, for many of the Normans who ended up in Texas, I had forgotten to look up Texas Death Records (images) for them on Family Search Record Search. So there was a lot more information to input. Then I tried inputting some Arkansas Normans to see what came up. Marriage records! Lots of them, also with images.

I thought I had hit the final stretch (i.e., children of the last wife – there are still 10 of them), but now I see I have to go back and make sure I have “touched all the bases” for each member of this gigantic family.

Not that I am whining about having “too much information” – would that all of us suffered from this problem in all of our research – but sometimes it makes it difficult to prioritize projects. For instance, my Lizzie Smith brick wall project needs to get a bit more attention, especially if I attend the FGS Conference in Knoxville in August, where I can find out about and possibly use some Tennessee resources. There are other projects that need to be attended to as well.

Yet I have interrupted Norman research twice before, only to return and be totally at sea: where was I, who was I researching, what had I found, and what was left to do? (I did make notes about this before I stopped, but they didn’t make complete sense to me after a long break.) On one hand, I’m afraid of losing momentum again if I take a break, but on the other, this could take a long, long time and cause all my other research to suffer. Perhaps research worksheets will help.

Time to take a big breath, quit dithering, and get to work. Besides, I now have a scientific reason to choose to remain with the Normans for the time being. I just found a picture of one of my great-grandfather’s brothers on Ancestry, with information on that family – a little known one – apparently provided by a descendant. And that’s a sign.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: The Death of Samuel D. Lewis

Preston Moore is not my only “reverse orphan” great-great uncle who died in the Civil War. There are at least two others: Samuel D. Lewis and Manning P. Lewis, the brothers of my great-grandmother Martha E. Lewis Moore (Preston was the older brother of her husband, Harlston Perrin Moore).

Samuel D. Lewis, the third of ten children of Elisha Berry Lewis and Martha Poole, was born in around 1840 in Anderson County, South Carolina. He served in Company C of the Palmetto Sharpshooters, as did his older brother, James West Lewis. He died on August 14, 1864, in the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, with the location reported as Fussell’s Mill in the unit history and New Market Hill/New Market Heights, Virginia in his compiled service record.

The following is a transcription of the pages from his compiled service record reporting his death. Handwritten entries are in italics.

L/Palmetto Sharpshooters/S.C.

S. D. Lewis
Pvt., Co. C, Palmetto Regiment Sharpshooters, South Carolina Vols.

Appears on Company Muster Roll
of the organization named above,
for July & August, 1864


When: Jan. 15, 1864
Where: Morristown
By whom: Capt. Benson
Period: War

Last paid:

By whom: Capt. McLure
To what time: Apr. 30, 186_.

Present or absent:
Remarks: Killed in Action
August 14th 1864 (New Market Hill)

Such a terse, matter-of-fact report.

The bottom of the page gives the following information on the Palmetto Sharpshooters:

“Most of the members of this company formerly served in Company B, 4th Regiment South Carolina Infantry.
The Palmetto Regiment of Sharp Shooters (also called Jenkins’ Regiment and the 1st Regiment Palmetto Sharp Shooters) was organized April 16, 1862, with twelve companies, which were composed principally of men who had formerly served in the 4th, 5th and 9th Regiments South Carolina Infantry.”

The second page:

L/Palmetto S. S./S.C.
Samuel D. Lewis
Pvt. Co. C, Palmetto S. Shooters

Name appears on a
of Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Confederate States who were killed in battle, or who had died of wounds or disease.

Where born: Anderson Dist.
When deceased: Aug. 14, 1864
Where and from what cause: Killed, New Market Heights
Amount of money left: _____
Effects: _____
In whose charge: _____
When received: March 29, 1865
Number of certificate: 4885
Remarks: Last paid to 30 April 1864

*This register appears to have been compiled in the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office from returns furnished by Hospitals and by Regimental and Company Officers.

Confed. Arch., Chap. 10, File No. 10, page 152.”


Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of South Carolina, NARA Publication Number M267, for Samuel D. Lewis of the First Palmetto Sharp Shooters (Jenkins’ Regiment).

“Palmetto Sharpshooters, Company C, Palmetto Riflemen, Anderson County, South Carolina Volunteers,” webpage hosted by Rootsweb at

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memory Monday: The Smoking Wars

I know that from time to time in our house there were wondrous smells – cakes and cookies baking, my mother ironing clothes from the freezer (where they had been stored after being sprinkled with water, rolled up, and placed in a plastic bag), newly cut sweet peas and carnations placed in vases, a freshly sawed piece of wood brought in by my father for additional finishing work, and many others.

Most often I remember these smells hitting me right after I had come into the house from outside. There was also an underlying smell that I didn’t really think about much when I was very little; it was just a fact of life and I never stopped to think about its source.

Then, when I was five years old, I started school. By first grade, I was spending a good part of my day at school. The difference between the smells at school and the smells at home started to become perceptible to me (not all to the school’s advantage, either) and it gradually started to dawn on me that I had a sensitive nose.

One sniff, and then: “Eww, ants.” “That lady wears Grandma’s perfume.” “I smell tulips.” (Mom: “Tulips don’t have a smell.” Me: “Yes, they do.”)

But the big thing I now noticed at home was the smell of smoke. Ever-present smoke. A bit in the background at times, and super-strong when both of my parents lit up after dinner. They both smoked cigarettes, although my father would often smoke cigars at work when he could afford them. I never had a problem coming up with cigar boxes for craft projects at school; one covered with macaroni shells sprayed in gold paint was my mother’s pride and joy, or so she said.

I don’t know how exactly I moved from being semi-indifferent to cigarette smoke to hating it. Part of it started when I began to notice that the farther away from smoke I sat while eating, the better my food tasted. As the slow eater in the family, I was often still eating when my parents reached the “coffee and cigarettes” part of the meal. There were various ways – subtle ways, I thought – to avoid the smoke: turning slightly away, putting my elbow on the table with my hand up to the side of my head or straight ahead on the table to screen my plate (that worked as long as the “Elbow Police” were not on the alert).

And the revulsion at smoke became stronger when I came down with any of the zillion bugs that afflict children in the early grades of school: regular colds, flu, and severe colds that turned into bronchitis.

Cigar smoke was worse than cigarette smoke, although because I so strongly associated the smell of cigars with my father’s presence, I always felt toward that smell what I think of as “fond irritation” or what I guess some people would call “love-hate. “ The ironic thing was that since almost any kind of smoke from pipe tobacco (except for the absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel brands) was so much more pleasant than either cigarettes or cigars that I have always liked that smell. Go figure.

Most of my repertoire of smoke avoidance in my early years consisted precisely of that: evasion maneuvers. At times, as I got older, I would do the wrinkled nose thing to express my disapproval. As a pre-teen I might say “P.U.!” and bat at the air. But there was very little open disapproval and certainly not scolding, especially not with my father.

The issue came to a head when my mother and I lived in Texas. I was not a rebellious teenager, but I did have a smart mouth. And I could do the prissy indignation thing very well . That happened when my mother would light up after dinner and I was still eating; I would pick up my dish and move away from the table. Mom would express her disappointment that I felt the need to make such a big deal. I had various disapproving and sarcastic replies to this.

And that was the great point of contention between my mother and me. I can only remember one or two arguments about any other subject. Was it just that mothers and teenage daughters have to argue, and smoking just happened to be the subject? When I think back on it now, I wonder – did my mother have her own “evasion maneuvers” to avoid facing my disapproval? I see “the line” outside workplaces: people taking their smoking breaks away from building entrances, even on cold, windy days, and although my mother never went outside to smoke, it makes me think of her. Did my mother enjoy her cigarettes more when I was away at school and she could smoke in peace?

In later years my main worry about Mom’s smoking was that she smoked in bed. There was no denying the evidence when I came to visit; her lovely blue bedspread had a row of little round holes across the top. She felt bad about it, but there was nothing to be done; she had to have a cigarette first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening.

Today when I pull out old photographs, recipes, and other mementos that I inherited from my mother, the smell of smoke is pretty strong from most of them. Some, like her recipe box, are covered with a thick layer of smoky grime. Even so, they must have lost a lot of their pungency after all these years. When a cousin sent me a closed plastic bag with a few items I had overlooked when cleaning out Mom’s house after she died, the smell that hit me from those items was even stronger. I was suddenly transported back to our apartment in Seymour. The odd thing was that I didn’t remember our apartment ever smelling this strong.

And I am a little less “holier-than-thou” now. It is humbling when you realize all the things you are addicted to. I am trying to cut a coffee habit down from 2-3 cups a day to just one cup in the morning (can’t live without that one!). That much coffee can’t be good for you. It stains your teeth, you know. Oh – you do know.

Mom's recipe box. I tried to scrub off the smoke film, but couldn't get all of it off.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Surname Saturday: The Robert L. Nabors and Amanda Ella Sisson Family

Robert L. Nabors
b. 14 Dec 1872, Alabama
d. 21 Nov 1927, Alabama
& Amanda Ella Sisson
b. Feb 1874, Alabama
d. 1966, Talladega, Alabama
m. 20 Jan 1894, St. Clair Co., Alabama
|--Emma Nabors
|---- b. Feb 1895, Alabama
|--Maggie D. Nabors
|----b. Jan 1897, Alabama
|--Minnie V. Nabors
|----b. Dec 1898, Alabama
|--Dixie Ellen Nabors
|----b. 28 Jan 1904, Alabama
|----d. 17 Dec 1921
|--Roy L. Nabors
|----b. 28 Jan 1906, Alabama
|----d. 25 May 1974, Talladega, Talladega, Alabama
|---& Susan Holt Herring
|----b. 22 Jan 1911, Alabama
|----d. 23 Apr 2005, Talladega, Talladega, Alabama
|--Howard Nabors
|----b. 1908, Alabama
|--Cecil D. Nabors
|----b. 30 Sep 1910, Alabama
|----d. 11 Sep 1955
|--Cason E. Nabors
|----b. 22 Jul 1913, Alabama
|----d. 27 Sep 1931, Talladega, Alabama
|--Robert Edward Nabors
|----b. 22 Nov 1917, Alabama
|----d. 5 Oct 1992, Talladega, Talladega, Alabama

Amanda Ella Sisson, the daughter of William T. Sisson and Margaret Jane Lambert, was the half-sister of my great-grandmother Sarah Jane Sisson.

This is not one of the Sisson siblings who moved to Texas from Alabama, so I do not know much about them. I would like to know more about the children of this family: what happened to them, whom did they marry, etc.

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friend of Friends Friday: The Floyd Family

My initial Friend of Friends posts will not involve posting names of slaves found in wills, etc., that would not otherwise be known since my research and data inputting is currently at the great-great grandparent level, and the slaveholders among these ancestors were still alive at the end of the Civil War. Their slaves would therefore appear in the 1870 census unless they died before then. I am starting with the family stories because they may contain clues as to who these slaves were and also because it could possibly add a little information for descendants who may be researching them.

There are at least a couple of different stories among descendants of George Floyd indicating that the family owned slaves. As it turns out, the second story involves the members of a Black family who had been slaves or were descended from slaves of the Taylors, a family that was related to the Floyds by marriage. That second family had a close connection to my grandmother, and I will write about them in a later post.

Today’s post is on the family of Samuel Floyd of Dallas County, who is shown on the 1870 census living next to the George Floyd family:

1870 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 2, Dallas, Texas, p. 70, 26 July 1870

Line 13 Dwelling 431 Family 430

Floyd, George Male White Farmer $1660 $1500 VT Father of foreign birth Male citizen over 21
---------Elizabeth J. 36 Female White Keeps house MO Cannot write
---------Mary E. 3 Female White TX
---------Harriett Female White 1 TX
---------Alfred B. 21 Male White IL Male citizen over 21
Brown, William S. 24 Male White TX
---------Eliza A. 20 Female White TX
---------Mary E. 1 Female White TX

Line 21 Dwelling 432 Family 431

Floyd, Samuel 45 Male Black Farmer $200 GA Cannot read or write Male citizen over 21
---------Martha 26 Female Black Keeps house MO Cannot read or write
---------George 6 Male Black TX
---------Mattie 4 Female Black TX
---------James 2 Male Black TX
Young, Granville 34 Male Black Farmer $100 VA Cannot read or write Male citizen over 21
---------Paulina 27 Female Black Keeps house VA Cannot read or write
---------Robert 9 Male Black MS
---------Mary F. 10/12 Female Black TX Born July

The last name and proximity of the families on the census seem to indicate that this Floyd family had most likely been slaves of the George Floyd family. I am not sure whether or how the Granville Young family is related to them; perhaps Granville was Martha’s brother or Paulina was Samuel’s or Martha’s sister. The story related to me by a second cousin does not seem to be consistent with either Samuel’s or Granville’s family status; however, there are other inconsistencies in the story:

“The story is that George Floyd had a slave and after the war he gave him to Alfred [after the war the man in question would no longer have been George’s to give, and at any rate Alfred was still quite young, as he was born in 1849] and Alfred built him a little house behind his and he lived there til he died – never married. [The cousin goes on to say that she thinks Alfred’s oldest brother David would be more likely to have been the Floyd involved in this story.] One of Alfred’s granddaughters told me she remembered seeing him.”

The discrepancies in the story are not the fault of the cousin who related this story but are simply typical of all of the “Floyd family myths” – there are quite a few Floyd family stories, but very few of them hold together when you look at all the facts.

For one thing, both Samuel and Granville are family men. Sooo – if there was a confirmed bachelor who had also been a Floyd family slave, I do not know who or where he was at this time.

And I still have not been able to find any record of George Floyd’s slaves on the 1850 or 1860 Slave Schedules. There is a George Floyd from Texas on the 1860 schedule, but he is in Madison County; my George Floyd lived in Dallas County.

Here are the Samuel Floyd and Granville Young families on the 1880 census:

1880 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 5, Dallas County, Texas, ED 65, p. 24, 9 June 1880

Line 4 Dwelling 202 Family 204

Floyd, Sam Black Male 60 Married Farmer Cannot read or write GA GA GA
---------Martha Black Female 35 Wife Keeping house Cannot read or write MO VA VA
---------George Black Male 16 Son Single At home TX GA MO
---------Mattie Black Female 14 Daughter Single At home Cannot read or write TX GA MO
---------Jimmie Black Male 13 Son Single At home TX GA MO
---------Lou Black Female 9 Daughter Single TX GA MO
---------Effie Black Female 8 Daughter Single TX GA MO
---------Ardella Black Female 5 Daughter Single TX GA MO
---------Minnie Black Female 2 Daughter Single TX GA MO
---------Infant Black Female 9/12 Sept. Daughter TX GA MO

1880 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 5, Dallas County, Texas, ED 68, p. 52, 19 June 1880

Line 5 Dwelling 430 Family 435

Young, Granville Mulatto Male 50 Married Laborer Cannot read or write VA – VA
---------Polina Black Female 35 Wife Married Keeping house Cannot read or write VA VA VA
---------Francis Mulatto Female 10 Daughter Single At home Attended school Cannot write
---------Eliza Mulatto Female 8 Daughter Single TX VA VA
---------Alfred Mulatto Male 6 Son Single TX VA VA
---------Martha Mulatto Female 3 Daughter Single TX VA VA
Johns, Robert Black Male 20 Stepson Laborer MS VA VA

If any descendants of these families read this, I’d love to exchange information. Perhaps your family stories are more reliable than the ones I have for the Floyds!

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 19 March 2010


Forgot to mention last week, but I heard from another cousin through my blog - this one is on the Sisson side. I love meeting new cousins!


I’m continuing, bit by bit, to input information on the gargantuan Norman family. However, to break things up a bit, during the last week I:

Posted some more tombstone photos on The Graveyard Rabbit Afield, posted same to Findagrave (it's so much fun - why didn't I do this earlier?). I'm already getting the itch to get out there and take more pictures. Spring must be coming!

Created some new Pages in Footnote.


I was so happy with the new Blogger template on Greta's Genealogy Bog that I switched templates on my other two blogs, The Graveyard Rabbit of Northern Virginia (I'm especially happy with that one) and The Graveyard Rabbit Afield.

Created a “Best Of” page for this blog (will add links soon).

I’ll try posting Follow Friday in a separate post for a while. With Follow Friday, Family and Friends Newsletter Friday, and Friend of Friends Friday, Friday is becoming very crowded. So, when I want to put a family group out there (aka “cousin bait”), I’ll go with the flow and do it for Surname Saturday.

This weekend I plan to collect all of the genealogy blogging prompts (Amy’s 52 and Lisa’s prompts for Women’s History Month, among others) in a single place for reference. I’m not able to keep up with a lot of them from day to day but there are some very good ideas there, so I’ll do some of them at my leisure (which means I may be celebrating Women’s History Month all year long – nuthin’ wrong with that!)


And one (sort of) casualty of the snow – my poor boxwood, a former beauty:

Follow Friday: My Ancestors and Me

Nancy’s blog, My Ancestors and Me, is a celebration of her ancestors and relatives. She brings her ancestors to life in well-researched articles that place them in the context of their time and location. The articles are often accompanied by interesting and thoughtfully presented photographs: photographs with interesting body language and even photographs of the contents of a desk (“My Father’s Desk” and “From Inside My Father’s Desk”).

Interspersed with the portraits are “think” pieces with some intriguing subjects to mull over, such as the “Differences Between Men and Women Genealogists,” as well as good reading recommendations (“Annie’s Ghosts”).

My Ancestors and Me is written as a dialog with its readers (and sometimes, with Nancy’s ancestors as well) and is an outstanding example of how to write to pull readers in and to keep their attention, as well as how to appeal to both mind and heart.

Blogs I have started following this week:

A Friend of Friends
Betty's Boneyard Genealogy Blog
Finding Patrick
Is Meets Was
Journey Home
Mariah's Zepher (Also added to Texas Team)
On a flesh and bone foundation
The Accidental Anarchist
Asheville and Buncombe County

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memory Monday: The Texas Telephone Call

The phone rings. You pick it up. “Hello?” “Hello, is this ….?” The question ends in a name, and it is not yours.

But that is of no importance. Your immediate instinct – to reply “No, this is ….” with your own name - is short-circuited. Because you have heard something in that voice, something that has immediately aroused your interest and curiosity.

A Texas accent. You do not live in Texas any longer, you may even have lost your own Texas accent, but you recognize it right away. And the response immediately comes out of your mouth.

“Are your from Texas?”

This starts a conversation. You exchange home towns, perhaps a few stories about these towns and what it was like growing up in them, then information about any visits you have made since moving away. There may also be stories about how people “up North” or “back East” or “out West” react to your Texas accent, if you still have it.

An hour or two later, after wishing one another well, you finally hang up.

You have just experienced The Texas Telephone Call.

The Texas Telephone Call may have regional equivalents, but not all parts of the United States produce people who are so willing and open to talking to strangers from their home state. Moreover, I believe that the era of The Texas Telephone Call, if not exactly over, has definitely passed its peak. With modern types of telephones that have answering machines and Caller ID, we are less inclined to pick up the phone every time it rings. Occasionally, in our household, the nearest phone is one of our “old telephones” and we don’t want to run to check the Caller ID on another phone, so we just pick it up. 95.5 percent of the time it’s a nuisance call, 4 percent of the time it’s actually a friend, relative, or business associate, and the other .5 percent of the time it’s a wrong number, so a Texas Call could still happen, but it’s not likely.

The only time I remember receiving a real, true Texas Telephone Call was when I was in graduate school in Boston. The only Texas voices I expected to hear were relatives.

The caller had one of those sweet little lady voices. She was very apologetic about dialing the wrong number, but I laughed and said that I never minded hearing a Texas voice and accent, gambling that I had pegged her home state.

“Oh, my, how did you know that?” Only, it sounded more like “Oh, mah, haow did yew know thayut?”

“That’s where I’m from. Seymour. It’s near Wichita Falls.” My conversation-starting instincts were automatically firing up.

“Yew don’t sound like a Texan.”

“Oh, just wait a few minutes; that’ll change.” Laughter on the other end.

We exchanged a some pleasantries and a few stories and then hung up. The call was probably no more than 30 or 40 minutes long. But by the end, the accent actually did start to creep back. Five years of college in Washington, D.C. and another year in Boston had erased the Texas overlay on my California accent, but not permanently. A phone call with another Texan can restore it in a few minutes.

My most recent equivalent of the Texas Telephone Call is actually genealogy-related. I have had telephone conversations with three research contacts that started as online exchanges. One lady is a fifth cousin through my South Carolina Lewises, the second contact is a cousin of my half-brother, and the third is a descendant of the wife of a great-great uncle (by a different husband). And all three are from Texas.

And I have had some really looong telephone calls with them. Texans must have extra talking genes. The conversation with the descendant of the great-great-uncle’s wife lasted for over two hours, and we’re not even related. But we managed to piece together the fascinating life of the great-great uncle’s wife, who had had three husbands. He was descended from the first husband, the one who was hanged for horse-stealing. The descendants of the first and third husband did not even know of the existence of the second husband, my great-great uncle, and I was happy to fill them in on the details. We exchanged quite a few bits of juicy information on these families and, of course, on our respective backgrounds in Texas.

I still have an automatic response when I hear "that accent," but the experience is now limited to in-person meetings. Over at What's Past Is Prologue my friend Donna's post tonight deals with how changes in telephone technology have changed our lives. Based on Donna's list at the end, not only am I "at least as old as" she is, I am older, though only because I remember party lines (we weren't on one but we knew people out in the country who were). And one of the hallowed traditions of that long-ago age that has been eliminated by modern improvements in telephony - the prank call - I also remember fondly (and, as in Donna's case, it was my brother and his friends who made these calls). Of course, such modern conveniences as Caller ID were made necessary by the increasingly invasive and pervasive nature of telemarketing and other nuisance calls. But I would never consider a wrong-number call from a fellow Texan to be a nuisance call.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Footnote's Pages Feature

Though I have been aware of the Pages feature at Footnote for a while, it took the GeneaBloggers Games to get me to start using it.

You can create a page centered around a person, organization, place, event, or topic (which is basically the category "Other"). Each page includes:

- A title and description
- A place to add images (either images of documents taken from Footnote or your own images)
- A place to add facts (categorized under Person (general facts), birth, death, burial, physical description, employment, education, marriage, residence, and other)
- A timeline created from these facts, including major historical events that occurred during that person's life span, and buttons to change the scale used for the timeline
- A prompt indicating databases to search for more information
- A Google map showing places mentioned in the facts
- A button to connect this page to other pages (contributors' member pages, pages for persons who are related, and possibly event, place, or organization pages to which they are connected)
- Buttons for bookmarking, sharing, and posting on Facebook

Pages are rather easy to create and maintain in Footnote, though sometimes a little bit of experimentation is needed to figure out the most efficient way of doing things. For instance, I started out by adding images to my gallery first and then adding them from there to my individual pages. It is better to add them directly to the pages as you view them, because it is difficult to distinguish individual images when selecting pages from the gallery view.

Although a good genealogy program can do a lot of the "information management" work, there are a number of features that make Footnote's Pages a truly useful research tool. On the top of my list of these features is the ability to collect digital images of documents related to a person in a single location. I can do this on my computer desktop by downloading images into a single folder (which I do as a backup), but I love having the document right next to the fact list and time line - it's a form of visual organization for me. Members can also upload images to these pages. Having Google Maps close by is also convenient.

The capability for collaboration and contacting other researchers may also prove useful. In the lower left corner of each page there are buttons for choosing "Only you can contribute to this page" or "Let any Footnote member contribute to this page." The latter is the default setting, and I have left it that way on each of the pages. I suppose the possibility exists for someone to add incorrect or "junk" information, but at this point I do not expect that. I prefer this to adding a family tree to Ancestry with its “shaky leaves.”

Selecting and adding information and images does involve a good deal of work, and the fact that Footnote is a paid subscription service has to be taken into account. It's a little bit like purchasing real estate. You have contributed so much, now you don’t want to abandon all that, do you? The Pages feature thus ends up being not a hook to lure new members, but a way to keep old members. I waited for a “half-price” special to join Footnote, but now that I have created a number of pages, what do I do when I want to sign up for another year at full price? After all, I really don’t want to leave “my peeps” to languish without me.

Well, can’t I just put everything into my genealogy program? My program, Reunion, has an option for adding images. However, the program runs really slowly when images are added, so I no longer do this.

So, despite the prospect of paying for Footnote membership year after year, I decided to take the leap.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 12 March 2010

I am writing this Friends and Family Newsletter late on Friday night! First, there was “Who Do You Think You Are" to watch, and it was an awesome episode. As a matter of fact, it came on right after I had finished and posted my article for the First Carnival of African American Genealogy: Restore My Name – Slave Records and Genealogy Research.

Then I was reading some blogs and saw that several had already changed to the new templates. I had seen the news the night before on GeneaBloggers and had given a trial run to some of the new templates, but wanted to make sure that my blog header banner would be compatible and that all of my pages would show up at the top (the template at the far right didn’t seem to include them all), so I hadn’t made the change, yet. But after seeing how other blogs looked I had to go to back to the Blogger Template Designer and play, and, well, you see the results. Things I love about the new templates:

- The flexibility. Now the blog really is like a doll. I can change its clothes. Today I have a subdued background, but be forewarned, on some days it may be much more colorful – despite the great craze for “simplicity” in blogs these days – and I especially like the patchwork-quilt background.

- The fact that I can keep my header banner (I am very attached to it). I had created an “extra, experimental” blog to try to work out a way to incorporate some of those neat free backgrounds that are available, but they only work on a template that doesn't seem to work well with my banner.

- The ability to have a nice, wide space for my posts as well as enough room so that some of my “gadgets” don’t get cut off.

Another change I have made is to add the "Woo-Hoo! Wall" to my Pages. This is modeled after Bart's "Fireplace Mantle" page at Stardust 'n' Roots. I moved most of the awards to this page, and I think that the front page of the blog loads more quickly now. Any new award would be featured on the front page for a while, and then eventually moved to the Woo-Hoo! Wall.

Now for the news.

Mystery of the week.

The oldest son of my gg-grandfather Elisha Berry Lewis, James West Lewis, was one of the Lewis kin who went to Texas from SC. He is shown on the censuses for Travis and Wilbarger Counties in 1880 and 1900. I had always thought he was buried there and that the J. W. Lewis shown in Midway Presbyterian Cemetery in Anderson, SC was not him, even though E.B. and some other Lewis family members are buried there. However, when I looked up his grave on Findagrave, the inscription indicates he served in Co. B, 4th SC Infantry. Sounds like him. He died in around 1904; was he taken to SC to be buried there or was he perhaps visiting family when he died there?


Jo Lee at Those Who Went Before in “Who Do You Think You Are? Premiere WOW” tells about watching the premier episode in amazement when one of her own lines – Hodge – was featured in the show.

Schelly at Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog writes about the NY Times columnist Neil Genzlinger’s clueless and condescending reaction to WDYTYA in “America’s WDYTYA – Tree or Shrub?”

Bill West at West in New England, in “What I Thought About ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’”, writes that one of the graves from which SJP was shown brushing snow off was that of his ancestor Mary Eastey!

Tipper at The Blind Pig and the Acorn has posted another Appalachian Vocabulary Test. (Come on, broaden your education!)

In the belief that any good idea is worth stealing – I shall adopt this practice started by Cindy at Everything’s Relative – Researching Your Family History in her “Visits and New Follows” by noting that this week I started following these blogs:

Genealogy Freelancers
Climbing Joshua’s Tree
Climbing My Family Tree
Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors!
Journey to the Past
Know Your Story
Roots and Branches

Future Plans

Nothing firm yet, and everything depends on having enough money left over after paying tuition bills, but I am tentatively starting to begin to think – just think – about possibly attending the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies in Knoxville August 18-21. We could actually drive there and my husband said he could enjoy the historical sights while I attend the conference. Just thinking …

Restore My Name – Slave Records and Genealogy Research

This is my first "Friend of Friends" Friday post and also my submission for the First Carnival of African-American Genealogy (CoAAG).

I wish I could say that I am going to be providing names of slaves in this first post, but unfortunately I have not yet located any. As I progress with my research on my 19th-century ancestors and move backward in time, that will change. One of my first research goals is to find the names of the slaves of the two families at the great-great grandparent level that I am positive to fairly sure owned slaves: the Brinlees and the Floyds.

Today’s posts will cover what I know about the slaves of Hiram Brinlee. Unfortunately, that is not very much. At this point I do not know any more than can be found out from the Slave Schedules for the 1860 US Census.

Hiram Brinley, Precinct 2, Collin, Texas



This is no more than someone could find from looking this up on Ancestry, but for me it is a starting point. I cannot find any record for Brinlee slaves on the 1850 census, so I am guessing that I should started looking at whatever Collin County records I can find for the 1850-1860 time period.

To address the points for discussion proposed by Luckie:

- What responsibilities are involved on the part of the researcher when locating names of slaves on a record?


For us GeneaBloggers, that means as soon as we can get the document transcribed, it should go onto the blog. I have created a Black History Page on this blog with links to all relevant articles.

After that, there are a few other places where the information can be posted; some that I can think of are:

- The relevant surname and location-based forums on websites such as GenForum and the Rootsweb/Ancestry message boards

- The Afrigeneas Slave Data Collection (

- Websites for African-American genealogy societies and the relevant local genealogy societies, GenWeb pages

Any other suggestions to add to this list?

- Does it matter if the records are related to your ancestral line or not?

Nope. As a matter of fact, a lot of my research on my South Carolina families involves nosing around in various land records and wills that can be found on the Greenville County Government Historical Records and South Carolina Department of Archives and History websites to find out if certain families that have associations with my families are actually related. Sometimes I transcribe these documents for future reference, and when they contain slave names, they can be posted.

- As a descendant of slave owners, have you ever been pressured by family not to discuss or post about records containing slave names?

No. Oddly enough, the fact that I am aware that some of my ancestors were slave owners has come down in family stories and a family history done by a second cousin (and for the family in question, I still have not found any actual records of slave ownership, yet). Family members have been aware that both of these sets of ancestors had “feet of clay” – the Brinlee brothers were tried for murder during the Republic of Texas days, and the Floyds had a fondness for reckless land speculation.

And one aspect that I would like to add:

Advantages of researching the slaves owned by my ancestors:

- The whole principle of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness applies – help one another out when we can, and while someone may benefit from your assistance today, the person benefiting from assistance tomorrow may be you.

- The benefits that generally follow from doing “cluster genealogy” apply, that is, learning more about your own ancestors and their lives. And you really never know what you are going to turn up by studying the people close to your ancestors. I can see a parallel with the time that I was so curious about why a great-great uncle and his wife were shown on two censuses as boarders with another family, and the uncle was then shown as the head of that household on a third census. Contacting a descendant of that other family led to my discovery that my great-great uncle was not just a real estate agent, as the census indicated – he had been Sheriff of Dallas County! If your ancestors owned slaves and you know nothing of those slaves, you do not know all there is to know about those ancestors.

Thanks to Luckie of Our Georgia Roots for hosting the Carnival of African-American Genealogy!

(If all goes as planned, my next “Friend of Friends” post should be on the Floyd family – what information has been passed down on Floyd family slaves and some clues from the 1870 census.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Patchwork Quilt Made by Grandma Moore

Unfortunately I have not had time lately to do daily posts for Lisa Alzo’s series “Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month” at The Accidental Genealogist, but several of them have definitely inspired me, so I’ll try to do some of the prompts when I can (out of order, of course).

For Treasure Chest Thursday as well as for my series “Please Keep These Things,” I would like to do Prompt #6: “Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)”

The heirloom I am featuring is one of four patchwork quilts made by my grandmother that I inherited from my mother. I regret to say that only three of these quilts survive. I took the smallest one with me to college. Careless idiot that I was, at some point in college I washed and dried it at a laundromat – end of quilt. Had something like that happened today, I would try to get a professional to repair it for me, but unfortunately this did not occur to me at the time and I compounded my idiocy by throwing the ragged quilt away.

This quilt is the only one that is being kept out for display at the present time. The other two have been put away in a chest for the time being. There are still too many people and cats in this house to safely display all three quilts.

Grandma Moore, my mother’s mother, was an extremely skilled seamstress. My mother inherited her talents; I did not. Some of the quilts Grandma passed down to her children included the names of her children and grandchildren embroidered on some of the patches, so there is double genealogy relevance!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Transcription Tuesday: More Adventures of Sheriff Henry Lewis

Here are three more articles featuring Sheriff William Henry Lewis:

The Killing at Wilmer

20 January 1887, Dallas Morning News

Sheriff Lewis and Deputy Sheriff Carson returned yesterday from Wilmer, to which point they were summoned on Tuesday to look after the slayer of Horace G. Revels. The facts of the killing as imparted by Mr. Lewis to a NEWS reporter, are as follows:

George Priest last Sunday night married a stepdaughter of Revels, who was violently opposed to the match, and, it is said, swore that he would kill the couple. On Tuesday George Priest, his half sister, Mollie Dagen, and his uncle, W. Slavens, drove by old man Revels’ house in a wagon. On observing Priest, Reve3ls rushed out of his house with a revolver and followed the wagon, threatening to kill Priest. Slavens, who was armed, as Revels gained on the wagon, drew his shotgun and fired, killing him on the spot. One of the witnesses testified at the inquest to having heard the deceased say that he was going to kill Slavens also. Revels was found in the road, his head resting in a pool of blood, and his face and breast lacerated with buckshot. After the shooting Slavens turned the lines over to his nephew and fled to the woods, and had not up to the late hour last night been arrested.

Mr. Priest was in the city yesterday and claimed that the shooting was in self defense. A chamber of the pistol carried by the deceased was found empty.

On a Serious Charge

21 May 1887, Dallas Morning News

B. F. Mills Arrested on the Charge of Forgery

Gen. Cabell received a telegram last evening from Sheriff H. P. Ware, of Gainesville, which read: “Arrest B. F. Mills, Forged three checks here. See Sanger Brothers. They or the sheriff know him.” The telegram was turned over to Sheriff Lewis, who started out to find Mills. To get a clew was difficult, as neither the sheriff nor the Sangers knew anything about Mills. Sheriff Lewis learned, however, that a party from Gainesville had been seen in the city with his nose skinned and bearing other evidences of riotous living. Later on the sheriff dropped into Purdy & Randall’s to get supper, and while there observed a drunken man with a skinned nose engaged in conversation with another party. The sheriff shadowed the drunken man until they found themselves face to face in a street car. He there and then told him that his name was Ben F. Mills, and that he knew it to be so. Mills owned up and was taken into custody. After his arrest he said he knew what the trouble was about, but felt that he was going to come out of it with colors flying. The arrest was made within three hours after the receipt of the telegram.

Christmas Remembrances

27 December 1890

Hospital Patients and County Prisoners Receive Good Dinners and Presents

On Christmas day Steward Sanford of the city hospital tendered an elegant dinner to the hospital patients at his own expense which they highly enjoyed. Mr. P. P. Martinez remembered them by presenting each of the twenty-eight inmates with some cigars and tobacco and a silver dollar. Mr. C. H. Williams sent a pig and a turkey, and Mrs. W. G. Currie sent each patient a silk handkerchief and other things.

The prisoners at the county jail were given a Christmas dinner by Sheriff Lewis and Jailers Rhodes and Tanner. They also received such presents as cakes, fruits, tobacco and cigars, pocket change and other things from Mr. and Mrs. B. Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Cole, Capt. J. C. Arnold and Mr. P. P. Martinez. For these things they request that THE NEWS to extent their thanks.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Memory Monday: The Need for Speed

The physical thrill I experienced as a child from the sensation of speed certainly did not originate in any form of physical courage. I do not like the sensation of heights, or rather, the view downward that reveals the solid earth far, far below me. I never had to be told not to play with matches; the possibility of getting burned was enough to ward me off matches until my teen years.

But going fast was different. I was always a passenger – a passive participant – in these escapades, so I did not technically engage in speeding, but I certainly encouraged it.

My earliest memory of the thrill of high speed was a Sunday morning when my older brother Don had been assigned to drive me to Sunday School. My father did not attend church, and my mother attended only occasionally, but she felt that I should get some exposure to Sunday School. Most of our older cars up to this point had been wheezy, unreliable old heaps, but the Edsel was the first new car my family had ever purchased. And the speedometer went up to 120.

“Let’s do 100,” said my brother with a grin. My five-old-brain could not do the time/distance/speed thing, but I like the idea of such a big number. I could only grin and nod in agreement.

The Edsel could not accelerate very fast, but I guess it got to 100 by the end of the block we were on. It felt fast. I don’t remember anything that happened at Sunday School that day. Mrs. Mohring and my friend Leslie probably wondered why I was so quiet and could not stop grinning.

The grin probably did not disappear when I got home, which aroused Mom’s curiosity.

“What have you been up to?”

“Nothing.” Grinning. I was actually dying to tell her, because I was proud of how daring Don and I had been, but I knew I had to keep quiet. Don had bestowed a great privilege on me and had treated me like a grown-up (I thought) by entrusting me with a secret. Mom tried several more times, but for once I was able to keep from spilling the beans. Supper was a challenge; every time Don’s eyes and mine met, we had to quickly look down at our plates to keep from betraying our amusement.

My next big experience with speed was on my Uncle Bill’s motorcycle. He let me ride behind him on the condition that I hold on tight. I held on for dear life. I could barely keep my eyes open to see the world as it passed us by, the wind stung my eyes so. But I could feel that wind whipping my hair until it stood out from my head like Medusa’s snakes, and it felt glorious. Besides, 70 or so on a motorcycle was equivalent to 100 in an Edsel, sensation-wise.

Uncle Bill could hardly talk when we stopped and he took me off the motorcycle, he was laughing so hard. “Boy, ain’t you a sight,” he wheezed. “I bet you never gone so fast in your life.” I didn’t mention the 100 mph adventure with my brother, out of consideration both for my brother’s trust and for my Uncle Bill’s pride at having shown me what “fast” is.

Mom had to spend extra time trying to get the tangles out of my hair that night.

While my introduction to that high-speed thrill at the hands of male relatives had been done covertly, there were acceptable ways to continue to enjoy it with my mother’s blessing. Well, perhaps blessing is too strong a word; she didn’t object.

The proper vehicle was any of the roller coaster rides at carnivals and amusement parks. I loved roller coasters with a love that was hard to contain, and never really wanted to ride any other ride or enjoy any other amusement. Disneyland was a mixed blessing; there were only 4 D tickets (it was the D ticket, wasn’t it?); the rest of my time had to be wasted using up the other useless tickets.

Nothing else ever really approached the keen enjoyment of that thrill. Occasionally, on a family trip in the Edsel, we might approach a respectable speed with my father at the wheel. We always used to joke that he knew two speeds: 70 mph and stop. My mother’s watchful presence usually held Daddy’s speeding instincts in check, but we did go pretty fast on the open highways. In a car with no air conditioning during hot summer days in Southern California, the natural reaction of dogs and children is to face the wind to relieve the heat as much as possible. And that is what our poodle Pierre and I did, his black moptop head sticking out the front right side and my (then) red head sticking out behind him from the back seat. If I closed my eyes, I could pretend the car was going 100 miles per hour.

The motorcycle, with two of its admirers

See also:

Memory Monday: Our Edsel
Billy Jack Brinlee, 1934-2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Timeline Portrait of Lizzie Smith: Stitching the Gaps Together

Lizzie with husband Hiram Brinlee, Jr. and sons Odell and Austin ca 1918 (courtesy of Edna S.)

Up until the time when Lizzie Smith Bonner married my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr., every single bit of information about her – every single date – is a guess and an estimate.

It starts with her birth. If you go to the entry for her tombstone at Findagrave, you will see that the date given in the transcription section is April 4, 1860, whereas if you look at her tombstone, the year of her birth is given as 1856.

I don’t believe either one. The first date comes from her obituary and the second may have appeared in a family Bible. The age given on her marriage license and the age indicated on the earliest census on which I have been able to find her (1910) contradict these dates and indicate something closer to 1868 or 1869; the 1920 census age is consistent with this. And the birth of her youngest child Cecil Odell in 1908 makes those early dates a real stretch.

Lizzie’s age starts creeping up on her Application for a Confederate Widow’s Pension and continues through the 1930 census to her death in 1958. The Findagrave entry gives Knoxville as the place of Lizzie’s birth; I would love for that information to be accurate, so that I would at least have a starting point for my research, but I don’t know whether or not I can trust that piece of data, either.

As indicated by the note shown below, Lizzie was probably not trying to inflate her age for the pension application but had genuinely forgotten how old she was:

“leonard tex sep 10th, 1929
dear sir i will wright to yu in regard to my pension i have lost my corect age i am some where in 60 i am not 75 if you can help me any way i shure wood be glad i have no help a tall.
yore friend
susan E. Brinlee”

This uncertainty and confusion continues throughout her early life. You can see how often I have mulled this information over and run through the various permutations in two of my previous articles on Susan Elizabeth Smith “Lizzie” Bonner Brinlee: Lizzie Smith Timeline, which I will reproduce below for reference in this article, and Brickwall Workshops by the Fairfax Genealogical Society, which was a reproduction of the write-up I submitted to the brickwall workshop panel.

Based on a total of 24 Smith-tagged articles, you would think that I have covered Lizzie thoroughly enough; time to drop it for a while! But I will never feel I have done enough and I cannot drop it.

There are several bits of information about Lizzie that help keep this obsession alive. One is the date of her death: July 29, 1958. I was a little girl then. She was still alive when I was born – the only one of my great-grandparents who was – and yet she is the only brickwall great-grandparent.

The second piece of information that haunts me is this item, hidden among some online genealogies as a Post-It note submitted by a second cousin based on information she had heard from her grandmother (Cecil Odell Brinlee’s wife): 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.” This reveals an additional mystery for Lizzie: Why was she working out as a young child? Was she an orphan or a child of a very poor family?

The third item is merely a family rumor – that Lizzie was part Native American. It’s one item of family lore that I have always cherished and fervently hoped was true. But the genealogical myth-buster in me triumphed and after checking out the Dawes and Guion Miller Rolls with no success, I abandoned that avenue of research. However, at the Brick Wall Workshop sponsored by the Fairfax Genealogical Society that I attended, the first response I got was: What is she doing in Indian Territory in 1891? And especially with a name like Smith? Check those Rolls! So even though I had no success in finding her the first time around, there is a legitimate reason to suspect some Native American connection.

The timeline work for Lizzie has been particularly useful in following a possible lead on her first marriage (“to a Mr. Bonner” according to family researchers, probably based on her name as “Mrs. S. L. Bonner” on the marriage license with Hiram Brinlee). If she was born in 1868-69 and married at age 17 as indicated by the 1930 census, this would give a year of 1885-86 for her first marriage, and there is an 1886 Tennessee marriage record for a Lizzie Smith and a W. T. Banner (I have found no Banner families but did find Bonner families at the location given).

Some time between those years and Lizzie’s marriage to Hiram Brinlee, Mr. Bonner died. And Lizzie ended up in Indian Territory. Were the Bonners Sooners, or did her presence have something to do with Lizzie’s (possible) Native American background?

Between the first “known” date on the timeline, the date of Lizzie’s marriage to Hiram Brinlee, and her death in 1958, all the information falls into three categories: the births of her children, census information, and information provided on her pension application.

And between the birth of daughter Cordelia in 1895 and the birth of son Austin in 1904, there is a gaping hole right where the 1900 census should be. Oh, I have located where the family was, then – Britton Township in Oklahoma Territory – because Hiram, son Louis from his first marriage, and a hired hand are shown living there. But I can’t find Lizzie and the children anywhere else and I suspect they were actually living there, too. So my best hope for nice, juicy information on Lizzie’s month and year of birth is dashed. And one of the most tantalizing things is that, according to the 1910 census, Lizzie had had a total of seven children, of whom only four were living in 1910. Might one or two of those children have been alive in 1900 and have appeared on this census?

The gap in the early years, when Lizzie probably spent time working for another family, and the gap during which she probably gave birth to the children who died, haunt me the most. Why did her maiden name have to be Smith? Why didn’t she appear on the 1900 census? Why couldn’t someone have asked her more questions about her past when she was still alive? I am still trying to stitch those gaps together.

Lizzie with sons Odell, Austin, and Lawrence, sometime in the 1930s? (Courtesy of George B.)


4 April 1868: Birth of Susan Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith in Tennessee (state from US Federal Censuses 1910, 1920, 1930 and Susan E. Brinlee’s Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, day and month by hearsay from family Bible, now believed to have been burned, and year based on age reported on marriage license of H. C. Brinlee and Mrs. S. L. Bonner).

1885/1886: According to the 1930 census, Lizzie first married at the age of 17; I would guess this happened in Tennessee. [According to Tennessee marriage records, a W. T. Banner married a Lizzie Smith in October 1886 in McMinn County, Tennessee.]

3 December 1891: Lizzie marries Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr., in White Bead Hill, Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma.

29 January 1893: Son Lawrence Carroll Brinlee born in String Town, Atoka, Oklahoma (Paul’s Valley is given as his place of birth on his WWI Draft Registration Card).

8 June 1895: Daughter Cordelia Lee “Cordie” Brinlee born in Oklahoma.

25 June 1900: Hiram appears on the 1900 US Federal Census for Britton Township, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Territory; Lizzie and the children may be living with him.

1902: The year Hiram and Lizzie may have moved from Oklahoma to Texas, as reported by Lizzie on her Confederate Widow’s Pension Application.

6 April 1904: Son Austin Franklin Brinlee born in Farmersville, Collin County, Texas.

23 September 1908: Son Cecil Odell Brinlee born in Collin County, Texas.

4 May 1910: Hiram and Lizzie appear on the US Federal Census for Justice Precinct 2, Hunt County, Texas.

22 August 1913: Hiram Brinlee files Confederate Soldier’s Application for a Pension in Grayson County, Texas.

30 January 1920: Hiram and Lizzie appear on the US Federal Census for Farris, Atoka Co., Oklahoma. Hiram had died on 20 January, but the census-taker must have been following the instructions, which indicated that “individuals alive on 1 January but deceased when the enumerator arrived were to be counted.”

27 July 1925: Lizzie files her Confederate Widow’s Pension application from Collin County, Texas.

10 Sep 1929: Lizzie writes a letter requesting assistance with her Pension application; the location is given as Leonard, Texas (Leonard is in Fannin County).

21 April 1930: Lizzie appears on the US Federal Census living with her son Austin in Fannin County, Texas.

9 April 1953: Lizzie’s son Lawrence Brinlee dies.

29 July 1958: Lizzie dies in Plano, Collin County, Texas. She apparently had lived for some years with her youngest son, Cecil Odell, who signed the application for her mortuary warrant and her death certificate. Her death certificate indicates her stay in Plano as “several years.”


- Marriage License of H. C. Brinlee and Mrs. S. L. Bonner, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, 1 December 1891. Photocopy.

- Certificate of Marriage of H. C. Brinlee and Mrs. S. L. Bonner, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, 3 December 1891. Photocopy.

- Widow’s Application for a Confederate Pension No. 41103 for Susan Elizabeth Brinlee, Collin County, State of Texas, 27 July 1925.

- World War I Draft Registration Card of Lawrence Carroll Brinlee. Registration Location: Fannin County, Texas. Roll 1953353. Accessed via

- Certificate of Death of Lawrence Carroll Brinlee, 11 April 1953, State of Texas, State File No. 24235. Digital image accessed via Family Search Record Search.

- Certificate of Death of Cordie Lee Clinton, 25 May 1961, State of Texas, State File No. 26177. Digital image accessed via Family Search Record Search.

- Certificate of Death of Austin Franklin Brinlee, 17 November 1976, State of Texas, State File No. 82039. Digital imaged accessed via Family Search Record Search.

- Application for Social Security Account Number of Cecil Odell Brinlee, 454-26-3341, 6 January 1940. Photocopy.

- Hiram C. Brinlee household, 1900 US Federal Census, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Territory, population schedule, Britton Township, dwelling 191, family 191, Roll T623_1340, Page 10B, Enumeration District 158. Accessed via

- Harm [Hiram] C. Brinlee household, 1910 US Federal Census, Hunt County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct Two, dwelling 283, family 288, Roll T624-1566, Page 19B, Enumeration District 119. Accessed via

- Hiram C. Brinlee household, 1920 US Federal Census, Atoka County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Farris Township, dwelling 295, family 297, Roll T625-1452, Page 15B, Enumeration District 7. Accessed via

- Austin F. Brinlee household, 1930 US Federal Census, Fannin County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 3, dwelling 295, family 302, Roll 2331, Page 14B, Enumeration District 18. Accessed via

The above is submitted for the 91st Carnival of Genealogy, “A Tribute to Women!” March is women's history month and a great time to honor the women on our family trees. This is will be the 4th annual edition on this topic so we're going to change it up just a bit to keep it fresh... Write a biography about a woman on your family tree starting with a timeline of their life. Thank you to Jasia at Creative Gene for hosting and to footnoteMaven for the beautiful poster.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: I’m on TV!

Here is Randy Seaver’s (Genea-Musings) latest genea-challenge:

1) Pretend that you are one of the subjects on the Who Do You Think You Are? show on NBC TV.

2) Which of your ancestors (maximum of two) would be featured on your hour-long show? What stories would be told, and what places would you visit?

The first ancestor I would feature would be my great-great uncle, William Henry Lewis, who was the sheriff of Dallas County from 1886 to 1892. We would start out at his birthplace, Anderson County, South Carolina. Further research would put us in contact with John Hornady, the gentleman who provided me with so much information and generously passed to me the Lewis family artifacts (letters, documents, pictures) that he had in his possession. This would give us information on Henry’s adventures as sheriff – stopping two lynchings, bringing in various other criminals, and others – as well as his marriage to the love of his life, Julia Mister, and their role in bringing up the children of Julia’s good friend Bettie Curtice Rosser following Bettie’s death. That portion of the show would take part in Dallas County. It would be neat if we could locate and interview descendants of A. C. Thurman, the gentleman who wrote the letter featured in one of the posts below.

The second relative would probably be my great-great grandfather Hiram Brinlee, Sr. We would tell the story of how he and his brother George went from Kentucky to Texas with Collin and Daniel McKinney and how the two brothers married Daniel McKinney’s daughters. The second part of the story would cover their trial(s) for murder and attempted murder during the days of the Republic of Texas. Locations would be Collin County, Texas, specifically the “Four Corners” of Texas where Grayson, Fannin, Hunt, and Collin counties meet, as well as a repository holding records of the Republic of Texas.

[The genea-geek in me actually wants to cover the story of my great-great uncle Preston Moore as related in Searching for Preston Moore, but that’s probably not considered exciting enough for prime-time TV.]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Family and Friends Newsletter Friday 5 March 2010


Gradually getting back into my research routine after Olympics, GeneaBloggers games, and being away for a few days.


Had a “duh!” moment during the GeneaBloggers Games. I have been wanting to make a “pushpin map” of Tennessee for my Lizzie Smith project. The map would show the county lines and the pushpins would represent known 1870 residences of the families that are viable candidates to be Lizzie’s family. Since Knox and McMinn counties are of particular interest, I wanted to get an idea of which families are closest to those areas. My original idea was to create or locate a good paper map and use real pushpins. But during the GeneaBloggers Games it occurred to me – duh! – why not use the My Maps feature on Google Maps?


Added 6 March: Ack! I see that I left out a post that I definitely intended to highlight: "The Walk Home" at Donna Pointkowski's What's Past Is Prologue. Donna illustrates an important part of capturing memories: it is not just individual events, but also rituals and routines that are important. And her description of the sights, sounds, and smells of that walk is very evocative. I'll have to use that prompt!

Bart at Stardust ‘n’ Roots has a great idea about where to display awards (in his case, he put his GeneaBloggers Games medals there): a virtual Fireplace Mantle, aka a separate page on his blog. Think I’ll steal the idea.

Kathleen Brandt at a3Genealogy talks about citation generators in “Evidence Explained Missing.” Gotta get me one of those.

Jasia at Creative Gene has a fascinating (and oh-so-true) article on genealogy as therapy.

And finally, why am I getting the feed from some blog to do with Audi? It appears to have hijacked the defunct (I think) Graveyard Rabbit of Covered Bridges blog. Sploggers, blog hijacking (there is even a blog devoted to busting those guys that I discovered when I was trying to find out why my Comment Button didn’t work), spam comments – just sick of them all!