Search my blog

Loading Mocavo Search Widget...

11 July 2015

Flocking Together: Birds of a Feather

It started out as a lark, so to speak. Cousin Jack (the one who claims he had his ancestors stolen right off the Internet) and I found a new young cousin, Heather, via Facebook. She is related to both of us through our BYRD line. Heather thought it amusing that we had both BYRDs and ROBINS in our family trees.

To tell the truth I had never thought much about it before -- I've been tracking down these ancestral turkeys so long that I guess I don't pay any attention to what their names might mean otherwise. However, her comment got Cousin Jack and me to comparing our charts and databases in depth and we've discovered we have several nests of different kinds of birds perched upon our branches.

In addition to a covey of New England PARTRIDGES (not in a pear tree, thank you very much), we've found a bevy of QUAILS/QUAYLEs, flushed out a murder of CROWs, and a company of PARROTTs. We had a good laugh about these feathered finds.

Then Cousin Jack chirped, "Don't forget about the SWIFT side of the family," And I said, that's not a bird —- that family name comes from an ancestor who was fleet of foot (probably running from the law from what I know about that side of the family).

"Swift is also a bird," Jack cooed, "they build edible nests, and besides haven't you ever heard of chimney swifts?" I hadn't, but by golly, he was right. This old lady learns something new every day in genealogy, so I added the SWIFTS to our nesters.

Then it was my turn to get Cousin Jack.

"Put the GOOSE line into our family aviary," I warbled. He started to twitter in protest, but I pointed out that the name was an old occupational one for a breeder of geese. And, that they had feathers (the geese, not our ancestors). So into the gaggle they went.

We have now added to our avian: A charm of FINCHes, a watch of a NIGHTINGALEs, a muster of PEACOCKs that appear out of nowhere in early Georgia, a bank of SWANs, a loft of PIDGEONs, a cast of FALCONs, a herd of CRANEs, plus a CARDINAL and a WREN.

I figure any day now we're going to turn up some really funny fowls in our family trees  —- perhaps a CUCKOO, WOODPECKER, FLYCATCHER or even a TITMOUSE.

However, I'm beginning to think I have gone into ornithology rather than genealogy. Cousin Jack is still worried about ancestral theft on the Internet. He should be so lucky to have these birds stolen.

14 May 2015

My Bermuda Triangle

While the real Bermuda Triangle is a place in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where aircraft and ships supposedly have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, my own triangle was not one where such disasters took place, but rather one where I could disappear for hours — or most of a day, especially on Saturdays.

Muskogee Public Library 1914-1972

This triangle started from the back of my dad’s garage at the alley. Exiting via the big heavy doors there, I headed east to a Classic Revival-style building across the street.

It stood there on the corner of D Street and East Broadway in Muskogee, Oklahoma — a Carnegie library that looked like hundreds of others. However, past its entrance and the glass floors of the mezzanine, it was a treasure chest overflowing with books, old newspapers, and stereoscopes. Up on the second floor was the incredible mural artwork by Acee Blue Eagle, a Creek/Pawnee artist who had taught at Bacone College, not far from my grandparents’ farm, north of Muskogee. It was here I became a full-blown bookworm, re-ceived my introduction to art, gazed at old images on a stereoscope, and explored events of the past in newspapers.

Completing the triangle was a long, low red and white building — miles long in my child’s mind and innate ability to judge distances. It contained hundreds, perhaps thousands, of giant cartons of ice cream — with more varieties than I could count or ever eat, though I tried.

A day in my Bermuda Triangle was about as close to heaven as one could get in my opinion.

Some Saturdays there were book readings or story telling at the library, and then afterward I browsed the bookshelves, even though I had learned to use the card catalog. Browsing was more fun I thought because that is how I found many books I would never have chosen by their titles or description in the catalog.

Finally, after deciding on the books to “check out,” which was usually a difficult decision since there was a limit to the number one could have per visit, I headed for the third leg of the triangle.

Out the front door of the library and down the well-worn areas, which we kids had created from years of sliding down the sides of the stone staircase instead of using the steps, I would go. In the heat of an Oklahoma summer, a girl could get a bit of a butt burn doing the slide because we had to wear dresses in those days. However, I don’t remember any serious injury.

Juggling my newly borrowed books, I’d race across the street to the Carnation Dairy — that long low building which set across the alley from dad’s auto repair shop. First, I would do an inventory of all the flavors to see if anything new was available and then began the difficult part — deciding on which flavor I wanted. Cherry vanilla was always a favorite, but I loved sherbet too. If I had enough money for a triple cone, I often wound up with three different sherbets — usually pineapple, orange and lime. With a big cone and books in hand, it was back to my dad’s garage to find a spot to eat the ice cream and read a book until time for us to go home.

Recently I found a picture online of a boarded-up Carnation Dairy, which also shows the back of what was once my dad’s garage. It all looks so small and dilapidated. I prefer to keep the images from my childhood memory. The ones of when the dairy was huge, brightly painted and packed with ice cream cartons and customers — back when dad’s garage was bustling with activity, filled with the sounds of revving motors and the smells of gasoline and oil. The Renoir impressionist image of me curled up in a chair in dad’s office in the midst of my Bermuda Triangle, licking a triple-deck sherbet cone, reading a Laura Ingalls “Little House” book is how it really was — to me.

11 March 2015

Tracking Difficult Women and Restless Men
Imogene Emma (Swarts)Vanderpool Davis (1852-1928)
John S. Davis (ca 1805-1852)

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley

Long suspected, but now the proof stares me in the face — I am addicted to genealogy.

The proof came by the dawn’s early light (when some my best discoveries have happened) as I looking for information about when and where the father of Harvey Smith Davis died. Not that it really matters. After all, this Davis family is not in my family tree and appears only as an in-law line in my husband’s and then indirectly (via marriage) to one of my Vanderpool cousins. Nevertheless, I am a sucker for trying to resolve glaring discrepancies, especially when they light up a pedigree like a blinking neon light.

I had no intentions of tracing the lineage of Harvey Smith Davis — I just wanted to know whether his father had died in Vermont (as one researcher claimed) or in California (as another has recorded). There are too many miles between Vermont and California to brush this off as a minor discrepancy. Plus, there was inconsistency in the year of his death. Neither researcher had provided a source for the claims, so obviously it was up to me to ascertain the date and place of death.

A search in the Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908 database at produced a record for a John S. Davis of the right age and with the correct wife’s name (at least based on what I had from the 1850 Wolcott, Lamoille County, Vermont census). The extracted (printed) information I found gives his death age as 48, the death date as 26 September 1852, the cemetery as Fairmont, and place of death as “Vermont, USA.” However, upon examining the actual image of that record at the website — a card — under remarks it says John S. Davis “died in Calif.” The record says it is a “true copy” and it is signed by the town clerk of Wolcott and dated 16 November 1920 (perhaps when the cards were created and/or compiled?).

Why is it in genealogy when you obtain one answer it just creates more questions?

It appears that John S. Davis died in California in 1852 — and one assumes he was one of the many forty-niners from Vermont who went in hopes of striking it rich — but was his body shipped back to Wolcott for burial? That would have been expensive. Of course, if he had found some gold, the cost might not have been a factor. If he died in 1852, obviously he was not buried in 1851 as another online source indicates.

His death left his widow, Caroline, and three children — ages 14, 12, and a four-year-old son (Harvey Smith Davis), the original object of this search. I discovered that Caroline died in 1861, which left Harvey an orphan at age 14 in Vermont.

What happened to his two older siblings? I found him with his mother and older brother, Loren, in the 1860 census, but by 1869, Harvey has left Vermont and arrived in Missouri, where he married Irena Eve, a daughter in my husband’s Pierson family. Harvey's sister, Mary Smith Davis,  married first John Ferris Morrill who died during the Civil War and married secondly Henry Fisher. She died in 1875 at the age of 35 years, 7 months, 9 days. I have not found anything more on Harvey's older brother.

About two or three years after the death of Irena Eve Pierson in 1889, Harvey married secondly Imogene Emma (nee Swartz) Vanderpool and then with her, their two little daughters, and several of his children by his first wife, they removed to the Indian Territory. My guess is this took place about 1894, but at least some time  before the 1900 census when they are enumerated in the Cherokee Nation of Indian Territory.

Now I have even more questions, plus I have discovered that one of Harvey’s younger sons married a Cherokee girl who has an extensive and well-documented family tree.

Ah, the entangled roots and branches we encounter in our searches. No wonder some of us become addicts.

You can read another article I wrote about Imogene Emma (Swartz) Vanderpool Davis in Ancestry Magazine called "Dealing with a Difficult Woman" at

11 December 2014


Sorting out the Jeremiah Vanderpools

Shiloh National Cemetery

Two young Vanderpool men — both named Jeremiah — participated in the American Civil War. Neither survived it. One was from Missouri; the other was from Indiana. They were second cousins, but probably did not know each other since their families had not lived near each other since the early 1800s.

The older Jeremiah was born about 1837 in Ray County, Missouri. He was the surviving son of four and was the only provider for his mother as his father had died in 1858. In the 1860 census of Harrison County, Missouri, Jeremiah is shown with his widowed mother, Susanna, and three sisters.1

This Jeremiah enlisted 22 August 1861 in Daviess County, Missouri in the U.S. Army as a private, Co. H, 23rd Reg. Inf. Vols., commanded by Captain West. He mustered in on 22 Sep 1861 at Benton Barracks, in Saint Louis, Missouri. St. Louis, Missouri. His residence at the time was Edinburg, Grundy County, Missouri.

On the morning of April 6, 1862, 40,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston poured out of the nearby woods and struck a line of Union soldiers occupying ground near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. On that first day at the Battle of Shiloh, Jeremiah was killed. He is buried at Shiloh National Military Park, Hardin County, Tennessee. His remains could not be identified and a stone with only a number marks his grave. As a result of his service, his mother was able to draw a small pension.2

Jeremiah Vanderpool, 1837-1862

The other Jeremiah Vanderpool was born in 1844 in Monroe County, Indiana. He was the son of Samuel Vanderpool and his first wife, “Becky” Terry. 3

He enlisted in Co. G, 31st Infantry Regiment, Indiana, as a private on 22 February 1864. On 1 March 1864, he married Cecelia Todd in Polk Township, Monroe County, Indiana. It was a short marriage. He died of typhoid on 21 August 1864 at Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee and is buried there at the Nashville Nation Cemetery, Section: E, grave No. 2757. No known issue.

1. 1860 United States census, Harrison County, Missouri, population schedule, Sugar Creek Township, p. 219 (penned), line 35, Susanna Vanderpool; digital image, ( : accessed 26 Nov. 2014), citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 622; page: 711; image: 225; Family History Library Film: No.  803622.
2. Vanderpool Newsletter III:7, pp. 90-91, citing Civil War Pension Application #141,683; ctf #115,571.
3. Vanderpool Newsletter V:8, p. 114, extracting and citing 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 Salt Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana censuses. In 1850, Jeremiah is shown with his father, Samuel, and stepmother, Sarah. Samuel and Sarah had married 16 May 1850 in Monroe County, Indiana.

07 December 2014

#34—52 ancestors
Ponder(ing) in Kentucky

Edgar Allan Poe’s famous 1845 poem, “The Raven,” keeps running through my mind as I seek to untangle the intertwined branches in Clay County, Kentucky of my Kellys — via their many Ponder spouses.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary . . .
“Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December . . .

It seemed so logical (at the time).

Unsuccessful in finding the maiden name of my John F. Kelly’s mother via him or his siblings' records, I decided to trace the Ponder children to see if one of their spouses (who were Kellys) gave their mother’s maiden name in death (or other) records.

Four of the eight children of John Kelly and his wife, Elizabeth [—?—] had married Ponder siblings, making their children double first cousins. Some of these children also are parallel (or ortho) first cousins. Parallel (ortho) cousins are the children of two/three/etc. brothers or two/three, etc. sisters. The kinship between these two families also includes cross (cross — not cranky — cousins) because that happens when a brother and a sister from say the Smith family marries a sister and brother of say the Jones family and as genealogists say, “has issue.”

Example of the intermarriages of my Kelly and Ponder families in Clay County, Kentucky:
Susan Ann Kelly married John Jackson Ponder in 1852;
Jane Kelly, married Robert Ponder in 1844;
Mary “Winnie” Kelly married Jacob Ponder in 1849;
Kinchen Kelly married Dorcas Ponder in 1847.

Susan Ann, Jane, and Mary “Winnie” are sisters; Kinchen Kelly is their brother.

John Jackson, Robert, and Jacob Ponder are brothers; Dorcas Ponder is their sister.

Now you know why I am Ponder-ing weak and weary.

06 December 2014

#33 —52 Ancestors —Perfect Obit
Lucy Emma Noble, wife of Abraham Vanderpool (1837-1878) and Solon Brower (d. 1932)

Sometimes golden nuggets of genealogical data just fall into our laps. Perhaps these treasures are rewards for the hours of negative research, blind alleys, dead-ends, and the piles of conflicting information that most of us encounter. I like to think so.

I wasn’t even looking for Lucy — in fact, I didn’t even know who she was. Had no idea she belonged in the ever-growing Vanderpool tree that my cousins and I have been working on for several years. However, finding her has answered a number of questions and helped to fill out a spotty, almost barren, branch. I found her via a random search in newspapers for Vanderpools. I was looking for someone else.

The lady died in 1933 and her funeral notice appeared on the front page of the Saint Cloud, Florida Tribune. Her obit ran a few days later. It noted that she was born in Delaware County, Iowa. She was not a Vanderpool, but her first husband was and she had two sons by him.

The obit noted that she was a descendant of “Thomas Noble, the first immigrant ancestor of the largest family in the United States bearing the name of Noble, who was born in England in 1632 and came to America in 1653.”

It provided the names of her father and paternal grandparents and on back to the first Noble ancestor born in America — in Massachusetts. It also gave the name of the genealogist who had compiled this Noble family history, how long it had taken (25 years), and the fact that it had been expensive.

The detailed obituary mentioned that Lucy Noble was born 11 March 1855 and lived in Yankee Settlement of Delaware County, Iowa with her parents, Dwight Noble and Lucy Lucretia Huff, until the war [Civil War] broke out in 1861. Her father passed away when she was about four years old. Then she, her mother, and younger sister went to Dearborn, Michigan. They lived there until she was eight years old and she went to Detroit, Michigan to attend school.

She married Abram A. Vanderpool, who was born 25 April 1837 in Medina, New York. Vanderpool was a conductor on the Michigan Central Railroad for 13 years. They had two children — Edward All [sic] Vanderpool and Harry Ellsworth Vanderpool, the latter dying in infancy. Her husband died October 10, 1878 in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 41 years and five months.

State Insane Asylum in Hastings, Nebraska

 After her husband's death, she took a course in nursing and for many years had charge of Dr. Griggs’ lying-in hospital. On January 17, 1893, her mother passed away. Next Lucy went into the dressmaking field where she worked her way up until she had her own establishment and was known to the trade as ‘Madame Vanderpool’ and had in her employ six to eight girls at all times."

In the winter of 1888, Lucy (Noble) Vanderpool went to Lincoln, Nebraska, and was appointed by Governor Thayer as head seamstress at the State Insane Asylum at Hastings, Nebraska. Later she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, and was appointed by Governor Holcomb as head matron of the Home of the Friendless, and was in charge of the institution, where she inaugurated many reforms.

Her son, Edward A. Vanderpool, became a conductor on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and first made his home at Green Bay, Wisconsin. He married Nina May Briggs, who died 20 August 1904 in Hudson, Lenawee County, Michigan. Later he was transferred to Big Spring, Texas and Lucy went to live with him there for 11 years, helping him raise his two daughters.

In 1916, Lucy removed to Florida where on November 1, 1917, she married secondly Solon Brower, who was born and reared in New York City. He was a veteran of the Civil War and an expert watchmaker. In 1924, Mr. Brower's health failed and “for eight years he was confined to his home where he lingered until 1932, being cared for by his kind loving wife.” On May 2, 1932, he passed away. Her son also died that year.

From this detail-rich obituary, I have been able to fill in some blanks on the family group sheet of Abram Vanderpool for whom we had only fragments of information. Now I can search for documentation, verify information in the obituary, and track his descendants.

It is like Christmas. Life’s good.

07 November 2014

#32--52ancestors -- Mayflower Links

Dear Grandsons,
Yes, you have ancestors who came over on the famous Mayflower in 1620 and celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621. No, their names were not Gormley. However, they are your 10th-great-grandparents — John Alden and Priscilla Mullins (also spelled Mullens).

George H. Boughton (1833-1905) painted the famous Pilgrims Going to Church (1867, originally "The Early Puritans of New England Going to Church"), a scene he interpreted from a quote in W. H. Bartlett's The Pilgrim Fathers (London:1853, p. 237).
They have become a famous pair — thanks in part to an 1858 narrative poem by the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who also was a descendant of John and Priscilla. You have many cousins thanks to your connection to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. The poem focused on a love triangle between three Pilgrims: Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullens, and John Alden. Longfellow claimed the story was true, but the historical evidence is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the ballad was exceedingly popular in 19th-century America and immortalized the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Miles Standish and John Alden purportedly vied for the affections of Priscilla Mullins, who utters, according to Longfellow, one of the most famous retorts ever: "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"

John Alden married Priscilla Mullins on May 12, 1622. She was the only survivor of the Mayflower Mullins family. They had 10 children and built a home in what is now Duxbury, Massachusetts on the north side of the village, on a farm, which is still in possession of their descendants of the seventh generation. John Alden's House, now a National Historic Landmark, was built ca 1653 and is open to the public as a museum. It is run by the Alden Kindred of America ( an organization that provides historical information about him and his home, including genealogical records of his descendants.


Alden House in Duxbury
Priscilla died in Duxbury between 1651 and her husband's death in 1687. Both were buried in the Myles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
John and Priscilla had the following children who survived to adulthood:

1. Elizabeth was born about 1624 and died in Little Compton, Rhode Island on May 31, 1717. She married William Peabody on December 26, 1644, and had 13 children.
2. John was born about 1626 and died in Boston on March 14, 1701/2. He married Elizabeth (Phillips) Everill on April 1, 1660, and had 14 children.
3. Joseph was born about 1628 and died in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on February 8, 1696/7. He married Mary Simmons about 1660 and had seven children.
4. Priscilla was born about 1630. She was alive and unmarried in 1688.
5. Jonathan was born about 1632 and died in Duxbury on February 14, 1697. He married Abigail Hallett on December 10, 1672, and had six children.
6. Sarah was born about 1634 and died before the settlement of her father's estate in 1688. She married Alexander Standish about 1660 and had eight children.
7. Ruth was born about 1636 and died in Braintree on October 12, 1674. She married John Bass in Braintree on February 3, 1657/8, and had seven children.
8. Mary was born about 1638. She was still alive and unmarried in 1688.
9. Rebecca was born about 1640 and died between June 12, 1696, and October 5, 1722. She married Thomas Delano in 1667 and had nine children.
10. David was born about 1642 and died in Duxbury between July 2, 1718, and April 1, 1719. He married Mary Southworth by 1674 and had six children.

You descend from their third child, Joseph Alden (1628-1696/7) who married Mary Simmons; they had a son, Isaac Alden (1666-1727) who married Mehitable Allen. They had a son, Captain Ebenezer Alden (1693-1776) who married Anna Keith. They had a daughter, Abigail Alden  (1721-1762) who married Ebenzer Byram Jr. They had a daughter, Mary Byram (1755-1819) who married Silas Ayres. They had a daughter, Hannah Ayres (1781-1832) who married Isaac Pierson. They had a son, Byram Ayres Pierson (1801-1886) who married thirdly, Catherine Hosslich. They had a son, Isaac Pierson (1847-1911) who married Katherine Maybee. They had a son, Claude Vernon Pierson (1886-1942) who took the Gormley surname of his adoptive parents who took him to rear when his mother died when he was a baby.  He was your great-grandfather. See my blog about him.

Your family tree names start with Alden and Mullins and then zigzag to Byram, Ayres, Pierson and finally to Gormley. Happy Thanksgiving and remember your heritage.

The sentimental postcard (above) was drawn by prolific card illustrator, Ellen H. Clapsaddle (1863-1934), who also did many other Thanksgiving cards.