Saturday, September 9, 2017

Learning About the Music Our Ancestors Heard, Played, and Sang

            I have a passion/addiction for early American music – most but not all of it bluegrass.  I have found several record stores that stock this kind of music.

            I recently purchased five sets of records – Songs and Ballads of American History and of the Assassination of Presidents, Echoes of the Ozarks Volumes I and II, Wink the Other Eye Volume I (my eternal gratitude to anyone who can locate a copy of Volume II, if there is one), The Right Hand Fork of Rush’s Creek, Dee and Delta Hicks – Ballads and Banjo Music from the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau in the Big South Fork Area, and the Edden Hammons Collection.  These are among some of the most expensive LPs I have ever purchased (though not all are), and because many of them are rare/scarce, I was afraid to play them.  So my husband and I decided to take them to a professional duplication service – we ended up going to a place called Professional Duplications south of Greenville – and get main and loaner copies.  They often provide this service for various church groups as well.

            This turned out very well for us, and was also educational.  The original copy costs $20 per record/CD, and subsequent copies are only $3.

            Starting with Songs and Ballads of American History and of the Assassination of Presidents (here is a link to a description of the record:, and you can hear some of the music at, there were a variety of performers, and each gave the provenance of the song, possible alternate lyrics, and where they learned the song.  The first two pieces, Phil Sheridan and The Iron Merrimac, were sung by Judge Learned Hand, followed by The Cumberland’s Crew sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye, The Battle of Antietam Creek sung by Warde H. Ford, The Southern Soldier and Washington the Great sung by Mrs. Minta Morgan.  The rest of the items were sung or played by Bascom Lamar Lunsford:  Zolgotz (about McKinley’s assassin, Czolgosz), Mr. Garfield and Charles Giteau (Garfield’s assassin), Booth Killed Lincoln (sung version), and Booth Killed Lincoln (fiddle version). 

            Echoes of the Ozarks Volumes I and II (Arkansas String Bands 1927-1930) have been both educational and frustrating.  Educational in that I had to look up the lyrics of one song because it was not listed on the album, and frustrating because I still have not been able to sort all of the songs out.  The extra song was “Sally’s in the Garden Siftin’ Sand” on Volume I.  And I never have been able to sort the remaining songs – there’s Hog Eye and Jaw Bone plus Cotton Eye Joe.  Just when I think I have them sorted out, I’ll see a double entry and know that it is wrong again.  Wink the Other Eye is old time fiddle band music from Kentucky – rare classic recordings from the 1920s and 1930s.  The Edden Hammons Collection is historic recordings of traditional music from the Louis Watson Chappell Archive.

            I also have some Smithsonian and Library of Congress collections of early American music (including children’s songs) that I will probably also take to be duplicated. 

            Horizon Records in Greenville has some rare classical records and also a lot of very good contemporary blue grass recordings, as well as knowledgeable staff (I learned that only British releases of the Beatles’ recordings have been remastered, while the American releases have not); however, they do not have that many historical records for early American music (I’m sure aficionados know where I got the historic recordings above; the same place has a number of LPs of one of my favorite Quebecois fiddlers, Jean Carignan).  There are two other stores in Greenville that sell LPs – BJ’s on Augusta Road, and a smaller store around the corner from Consignwerks on Laurens Road.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Husband Who Wasn’t

… or, “The Wrong Husband.”  (Like Wallace and Grommit:  “They’re the wrong trousers, Grommit… and they’ve gone wrong!”)  I have been researching the second family of my great-great grandfather George Floyd, because I had an Ancestry DNA match with a descendant of George Floyd and his second wife, Elizabeth Jane Norris through their older daughter Mary Etta “Ettie” Floyd.  Ettie married Charles Eugene DuBose, and one of their daughters was named Lorene DuBose.  A number of family trees give the name of Alvin Matthews Avrett as Lorene’s second husband.  There is a Lorene listed with Alvin Avrett on the 1940 census, but based on that census, she would have been born in 1916, not 1907, which according to all family trees was the date of her birth (we do not have a date of death, but since she may have moved to California, it may be possible to find her date of death there).

On the other hand, the 1930 and 1940 censuses both indicate that the wife of John D. Sappington, born 1906 in Arkansas, was the right age to have been born in 1907. The only wife listed for Alvin Avrett is Geneva Y. Burton, and they were 72 and 65 when they married on 25 June 1985 in Henderson, Texas; this was probably a second marriage for both, and probably followed the death of Alvin’s wife Lorene.  Another date and location of their marriage is given as 30 August 1969 in Dallas County, Texas, when they were 56 and 49 – perhaps they divorced and remarried?

What is even more confusing is that the Alice “Lorene” Bourland Avrett listed on Findagrave is the daughter of William Hansel Bourland and Alice Jones and was born on 24 October 1910 in Dallas County, Texas – obviously not our Lorene.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Only a Few Clues

I was recently inspired to work on the line of Josephus James “J.J.” “Joe” “Jode” Norman when I found a DNA match on Ancestry DNA who turned out to have a lot of information on Josephus Norman’s daughter Emma Elizabeth, for whom I previously had very little information.  As has been the case with many other Norman researchers investigating the family of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman, I relied heavily on Inez Cline’s “Norman Family History” for the general outlines of this family.  Apparently Inez Cline was not a member of this family, but became interested in it due to the numerous connections with other Garland County families such as the Powells, Westons, Kinseys, and Joneses.  Right after Josephus Norman is listed, there appears to be a page missing, so there is very little information on his family.

When I got to Josephus’ daughter Ola Norman, I had only her appearance on the 1900 US Federal Census for Precinct No. 3, Fannin County, Texas (accessed 4 Aug 2008 on  However, I also had a “Note to Self” indicating that I should look into Ola Norman m. John Kanard in Fannin County; daughter Hellen born there in 1933.  I believe this information was taken from the Texas Birth Index for “Hellen Kanard” on (I had input Ola Norman’s name as the mother in the form for the Texas Birth Index to find out whether she had married or had any children).  As it turned out, Ola May Norman had married a John R. H. Kinnard in Bryan County, Oklahoma on 22 June 1932 (Oklahoma, County Marriages, 1890 to 1995, on Family Search, accessed through on 13 Mar 2017). 

Although I knew that a lot of Normans had gone to Oklahoma to get married, I wasn’t quite sure why they did so and whether or not Ola Norman had actually done so, so I wanted to dig a little deeper.  When I input the information for Hellen in my family tree on, I was lucky to find another clue in addition to the Texas Birth Index clue:  the 1940 census for Justice Precinct No. 1, Fannin County, Texas, which contained the following information:

1940 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct 1, Fannin County, Texas, ED 74-6, p. 4B, 15-16 Apr 1940

Line 71 Stimpson Road 83 R $3 Yes

Winkler, J. L. Head M W 36 M No 9 TX Same place Yes Yes - - - - 56 hrs worked
                        Laborer Farm PW 25 wks worked $150 No 56
            Lillie Wife F W M No H-1 TX Same place No No No No 0 0 No
            Sid Father M W 68 Wd No 4 TN Same place No No No No U 0 $252 No
            Leonard M W 21 S No 7 TX Same place No No No No Other 0 No
Kinnard, Helen Cousin F W 7 S No 1 TX Same place

There Helen is listed as a cousin of J. L. Winkler.  As it turns out, Sid Winkler, the father of J.L., was the informant on mother Ola May Kinnard’s death certificate!  (Standard Certificate of Death of Ola May Kinnard, 37065, Texas State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, accessed 14 Mar 2017 on  I suspect that the Winklers may have been maternal relations of John R. H. Kinnard, which would have made J.L. his cousin and Sid his uncle.  Unfortunately, John Kinnard does not appear in any other family trees.  A few trees erroneously have a Leonard B. Norman as Ola’s husband. 

I have no further information on Hellen Kinnard.  She may still be alive. 

So for this family I really only had three clues:  Hellen’s entry in the Texas Birth Index, the record of John R. H. Kinnard’s and Ola Norman’s marriage in Oklahoma, and the 1940 US Federal Census.