22 July 2018

Which Hue Are You?

#52ancestors week 30 July 23-29

Which Hue Are You? 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2018

In the first U.S. census –- taken in 1790 – are found several colorful surnames: Green, Red, Ruby, Pink, Purple, Seagray, Lavender, Blue, Orange, Olive, Carmine and Scarlet, along with Black, White, Gray, Brown and Tan. 

Nicknames calling attention to our ancestors’ complexion and hair color are commonly found among the surnames that have been passed down through the ages. Blondell, Biano, Le Blanc, Lichter, Weiss, Bialas and White all refer to nicknames for ancestors with white or pale-colored skin and/or hair. Dark-complexioned people were nicknamed by words in various languages meaning brown, dark or black. From these evolved surnames of Brown, Brun, Braun, Black, Schwartz, Morin and Cherney. 

Red, under its many variant forms, is a common family name in many countries. You find Reid, Reed, and Read in England, as well as Ruff, Russ, Russell, Roussel, and Ruddy. In France, the name is Rousseau, Rouse or Larouse; in Italy it is Rossi, Rossini, Rossa, Rosso and Purpura; in Germany, Roth; and in Ireland, it is Flynn. Blue, Bluett or Bluitt are English surnames that come from a reference to one with a livid complexion or perhaps one who dressed in blue. In German, it was Blau or Blauer. However, the Scottish surname of Blue is an English version of the Argyllshire surname of MacGhilleghuirm, meaning “son of the blue lad.” 

However, not all of our surnames that appear to be colors actually are. For example, Green is not necessarily derived from the color of ancestor’s skin or hair, but from his place of residence. It means dweller at or near the village green or grassy ground. Many of the Green names probably come from references to ancestors who once lived or worked in a building identified by a pictorial sign, such as Greenbaum (dweller at the sign of the green tree) or Greenfogel (dweller at the sign of the green bird). 

The surname of Pink is derived from ancestors who either had some quality of a chaffinch or were dwellers at the sign of the chaffinch (a common finch of the Old World, often kept as a pet). If you have some Oranges on your family tree (names, not fruit), that surname may be traceable to ancestors who once lived in or near the ancient town of Orange in France which dates back to an earldom probably founded by Charlemagne. 

Do you have Lavender progenitors? They were English ancestors who washed or bleached flax, wool and various kinds of cloth. Those Lilywhite relatives were English dwellers in, or near, a little meadow, or the name might have been acquired from a nickname for one thought to be white as a lily; or ironically, to a chimney sweep.

 Tracing the family tree is not only fun, but can be a colorful adventure, too.

Rounding up the Black Sheep

#52ancestors No. 26 June 25-July 1
Black Sheep

Rounding up the Black Sheep: A full-time job 

By Mya Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

My family appears to have more than its share of characters and black sheep. Or perhaps I’m just proficient at finding them because I’m incurably nosey. At any rate, I discovered a website where names of the inmates who served in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary from 1895-1957 is available while searching for information about family’s our horse thief. Doesn’t every family one of those? I found him, but that’s another story. 

Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas 

While exploring the surname index at leavenworth-penitentiary (https://www.archives.gov/kansas-city/finding-aids/leavenworth-penitentiary/) I found another relative. Following the instructions at the website, I requested a copy of the case file from the National Archives at Kansas City (paid a small fee) and when the file arrived, it also included a mugshot. 

That’s how I learned about John William Vanderpool, who was called Will. He was born 31 August 1880 in Missouri. He received a sentence of one year and one day in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. His crime was “false pretense” (for mortgaging property that was not his own). He served from 20 October 1903 until he was paroled 4 May 1904 and released 14 August 1904 (for “good time”). 

The penitentiary physician’s examination revealed these details about him. Age 23, race: white; nationality: American; occupation: farmer; temperament: phleg. [that sent me to the dictionary — evidently it was short for phlegmatic, meaning “not easily agitated, sluggish”]. He was 5’6”, weighed 163 pounds had dark chestnut hair and beard; eyes: orange, az. blue [sic] (but I’m not sure how to interpret this description); fair complexion, teeth (full, good); and his build was listed as “medium stout.” One arm was crooked at elbow, having been broken and he had a few moles and a couple of scars. 

He was received at Leavenworth, Kansas from Vinita, Indian Territory. He could read and write; smoked, drank moderately. His parents were living and he left home when he was 19. He was married; his father was born in Iowa. At the time of his arrest he lived in Barren Fork, in eastern Adair County, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory; about five miles south of Westville. His wife’s name was Ethel and she lived at Barren Fork. In the early 1900s, this was a station on the Kansas City Southern Railway near Tahlequah. 
Adair County,  Cherokee Nation, IT

Since the crime evidently was committed in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory but he was a U.S. citizen that explains why he wound up in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. A congressional act of March 1, 1895 had designated the Indian Territory divisions as districts and the First Judicial Division at Muskogee became the Northern Judicial District. It was authorized to hold sessions at Vinita, Tahlequah, and Miami. 

Additional research reveals his first wife’s name was Ethel Phebus, and they had married 5 February 1900 in Jasper County, Missouri. Apparently they did not have any children. Ethel married secondly James S. Gunning in Jasper County, Missouri on 9 March 1909. Will Vanderpool married secondly Luella “Lulu” Devold (1892-1968) 0n 21 March 1909 in Jasper County, Missouri. They had five children. He died in 1936 in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. 

John "Will" Vanderpool
From genealogical records in our Vanderpool one-name study database I ascertained that he was the son of John Quincy Vanderpool (1845-1916) and Mary M. Combs (b. ca 1853); his paternal grandparents were John C. Vanderpool (1818-1859) and Mary “Polly” Sanders (1823-c1857); and the paternal great-grandparents were: Wynant Vanderpool (1782-1838) and Margaret Carver (1782-1855). 

One of the joys of genealogy is finding unexpected genealogical information while looking for someone or something else. The challenge is being brave enough to dig in records that might reveal those black sheep. 

18 July 2018

Musical Mama

#52ancestors #29 July 16-22: Music

My Musical Mama: Ida Hensley 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c)2018 

My mother and her mother — my maternal grandmother who was the woman I called “Mama” — sang constantly. It was how they passed the day. While I was growing up, before television became a household item owned by everyone, many of my friends and relatives had radios. My folks did too, but my mother never listened. Instead she sang all day, one song after another, often making up her own lyrics. 

She apparently did so because her mother (Ida Hensley) did. So, I thought it must be genetic and that a musical gene ran in the Hensley branch of family. I spent a large portion of my early childhood with my grandparents on their farm and listened to Mama sing while she did her chores around the house or in the garden. Interspersed with the old songs, she’d tell me about when she was girl growing up in Alabama, tales about her family, and about making the journey via wagon to Indian Territory when she was 15. 

Ida Hensley Fricks and Texas longhorn. 
Her older brother was a “traveling singing teacher,” He also played the fiddle for local dances. He obviously was her favorite sibling, as her voice would tremble when she talked about his early demise — he died from snakebite. 

Another of her brothers was a preacher and when he came to visit they’d play and sing the old Gospel tunes like “Life’s Like a Mountain Railroad” and “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” When several of her brothers and sisters and their families came to visit they brought their fiddles and mouth organs (harmonicas), and music and songs would fill the air as they sat on the front porch, often spilling out into the yard under the locust and walnut trees. How they could sing and play — bluegrass, Gospel, country, hillbilly — and wonderful old-time songs like “She’ll be coming 'round the mountain.” That was a childhood favorite of mine — especially the verse about “killing the old red rooster and having chicken and dumpling.” 

Mama had numerous talents, including storytelling and steer riding (see picture above). However, music was her special gift. She had a beautiful alto voice and what was called “perfect (or absolute) pitch” and, oh, how she and her siblings could harmonize. 

She amazed me with her ability to play almost 

any musical instrument — all by “ear.” When I received my first piano, she had me show her where “middle C” was and then she began playing like she had taken music lessons for years. I was impressed. It didn’t take me long to discover that I didn’t have granny’s musical gene, but I enjoyed learning to play the piano so I took lessons for a few years. 

In an article by Yi Ting Tan on the “Genetic Basis of Musical Ability” she writes, “researchers generally agree that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the broader realization of music ability, with the degree of music aptitude varying, not only from individual to individual, but across various components of music ability within the same individual . . . Recent advances in genetic research offer fertile ground for exploring the genetic basis of music ability.” 

I find all this genetic and DNA research interesting. I inherited my eye color from Mama, but I didn’t get her musical talent. 

However, I have the memories.

14 July 2018

A Brush with Peter the Painter

#52ancestors week 25 June 18-24 —
Same Name 

A Brush with Peter the Painter

 By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

As every genealogist knows or quickly finds out, family tree research often leads to finding people with the same name and then the hard work is figuring out which one is “ours.” One simply cannot use a name — even an unusual one — as a lone identifier. 

Sometimes we encounter people of the same name of the same generation who also were born, married, and/or died in the same or nearby localities. Another challenge is when our ancestors married spouses with the same or similar given names. For an example, see my blog “Husband Breaks Rule No. 8.”

Those with common surnames probably don’t think about how other Smiths, Johnsons, Williamses, Browns, or Joneses might be related to them, but those of us with less common surnames often do — simply because we assume there is a possibility there is a family connection, somewhere. My father was an only son with only one paternal uncle and no male first cousins. He was always interested in knowing if he had other Vanderpool relatives — somewhere.

 A rather unscientific search based on information from the 2000 U.S. census pertaining to surnames reveals that Vanderpool ranks No. 5126 in terms of the most common surnames in America for that year. This means out of a sample of 100,000 people in the United States, our surname would occur an average of 2.33 times. As a comparison, using the same base, No. 1 Smith would occur 880.85 times. These government-compiled statistics do not take into account the several variant spellings of Vanderpool, such as Vanderpoel, Vanderpol, Vanderpole and Pool; rather it separates them. Genealogists can’t rely on any particular spellings of surnames to identify relationships, but long before computers and the Internet came along, my father assumed anyone with our surname must be related. 

When we lived in western Kansas in the mid-1950s, there was a Peter H. Vanderpool who lived there also. He was a house painter. There were only two Vanderpool families in Garden City. 

My dad, who was an auto mechanic, often received telephone calls from people looking for Peter the Painter, and of course, Peter received calls for John the Mechanic. Dad and Peter tried to figure how they were related, but they never did. 

Periodically, through the years, I would search to learn whatever happened to Peter the Painter (as I always thought of him), but I had scant personal information about him. In fact, I did not know his age, or his wife’s name, and I didn’t recall them having any children. Anyway, almost by accident and thanks to a cousin’s work for Find-A-Grave, I found enough information on this Peter H. Vanderpool to determine that he was a son of Erastus Fillmore Vanderpool who was born ca 1868 in Mercer County, Missouri and married a Sarah Estelle Linville.

 After 60-some years I finally solved a genealogical mystery that intrigued my dad. He and Peter the Painter were 4C1R. 

13 July 2018

Treasures found in Passport Applications

#52ancestors — Week 28 (July 9-15)--Travel

Treasures Found in Passport Applications

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2018 

In January of 1921, Sally Brown (née Connally) Martin and her husband, Hiram Warner Martin, applied for a passport in order to take a three-month trip — “for health and recreation” — to British West Indies, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chili (sic) in South America. They were to sail from New York on the S.S. Vauban on or about 15 February 1921. 

During the early 20th century until about 1937, married American women were just a footnote in their husbands’ passports. It was not acceptable for a married woman to travel outside of the country without her husband; he, of course, could travel without her. “A married woman’s public identity was tied to her husband, and passports reflected that in being issued to the husband, with his wife being a literal notation,” according to Craig Robertson, author of Passport in America: History of a Document. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/a-history-of-the-passport/ 

This record was found in the United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925, and in it there turned out to be a wealth of information about Sally, her husband, her parents and two of her siblings who also were making the trip. In addition to learning and verifying some birth dates and places of Sally and her siblings, there were photographs. The passport descriptions are noteworthy, too. Sally is described as 36 years of age, 5-foot-4, with a high forehead, brown eyes, auburn hair, a straight nose, medium mouth, round chin, fair complexion and a round face. 

The S.S. Vauban, launched in 1912, was a passenger steamship owned by Lamport and Holt Line and used in its New York to east coast of South America service. It later transported U.S. troops during World War I. It was in service until 1930 and was sold for scrapping in 1932. 

What I’ve found so far does not indicate that the family travelled first class, but it appears likely they did. On 18 January 1921, the Atlanta Constitution newspaper (Atlanta, Georgia) ran a story with the headline: “Connallys to Make South American Trip.” The article mentioned the group included Dr. and Mrs. E. L. Connally and their three children, Mrs. Warner Martin (Sally Connally), Mrs. Hal Hentz (Frances Connally), and Tom Connally. Among the points of interest they planned to visit were: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Valparaiso and a journey across the Andes, if weather conditions are favorable. 

Dr. E. L. [(Elijah Lewis) Connally was 84 years old at the time and his wife was in her seventies, so a “journey across the Andes” seems a bit ambitious for them, although details are lacking as to how such a journey was to be taken. 

The newspaper article mentioned that Hal Hentz (husband of Frances Connally) had two brothers in Buenos Aires and that “there are other Atlantans located in South American whom the Connally party will visit.” 

My jubilation at the discovery of this material was short-lived because, as often happens when one finds answers to the family puzzle, additional questions pop up. While entering the new information into my genealogy database, I realized that Dr. Elijah Lewis Connally and Mary Virginia Brown had another daughter, Mary Temperance, who was the wife of John Schaffner Spalding, and they were parents of five daughters — all living in Atlanta at the time. 

Wonder why they didn’t make the trip?

30 May 2018

From Sea to Shining Sea

No. 22—May 28-June 3
So Far Away: From Sea to Shining Sea
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

 If you want to hear experienced genealogists chuckle, just comment that “Our ancestors did not move much in the old days.” Then prepare to hear dozens of stories about their roaming ancestors. 

While I was aware of the various migrations paths that my early American families followed, especially in Colonial times, what surprised me most was how fast they left the East Coast and headed west. It was like they had an itch to travel. 

Some of them didn’t even wait for the Revolutionary War to end before they headed off to greener pastures in Tennessee. From there, it was a hop, skip and jump to the heartland of America — Missouri — where some of my family were before 1820. Then it took only a couple more decades and they were on the West Coast, in Oregon, Washington and California. 

My 3g-grandfather, William Vanderpool (1808-1884), was born in the northwest corner of North Carolina and died in the Cherokee Nation in 1884. If he had made the trip — as the crow flies — it would have been about 1,285 miles. But, William zig-zagged his way to the Indian Territory and in the process accrued about 2,100 miles — and it took him 56 years to do so. 

He married his first wife in 1828 in Tennessee, moved back to North Carolina, then on to Indiana, down to Kentucky, off to Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas; back to Missouri, down to Arkansas, and finally over to Indian Territory. That’s excluding a few moves back and forth between Missouri and Arkansas. 

He had 19 children by two wives and 17 of his children grew to adulthood. He moved so often that I found him twice in the 1850 census. 

His occupations, other than moving and producing children, included Missouri State legislator, a farrier for the Union Army, postmaster, blacksmith, a grist mill operator, an intruder, and a farmer. 

As might be expected, he had no moss on him, anywhere. 

26 May 2018

Marching to Brandywine

#52andestors Week 21—Military
Marching to Brandywine 
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018 

Johann Michael Treece (called by his Rufname — Michael — as was the German custom) served during the American Revolution on the American side. He was one of many young men of Germanic origins who did. By the middle of the 18th century, about 10 percent of the American Colonies (estimated at 2.5 million) spoke German. 

Michael purportedly was the youngest child of Peter Treece (Dreiss) and Anna Catherine Volck (Folk), His father arrived in Philadelphia on the Mary on 29 September 1733. (Strassburger, Ralph Beaver, and William John Hinke. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: a Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808.Vol. I, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1980, pp. 130-133). His mother, Anna Catherina Volk, was born in 1715 in New York but she was the child of a German couple — Andreas Volck and Anna Catherina Meckel — who were part of the band of Palatine emigrants who arrived on the Globe in 1708 led by the Rev. Joshua Kocherthal. (Knittle, W. A., Ph.D. (n.d.). The Palatine Emigration of 1708. Retrieved May 26, 2018, from http://threerivershms.com/knittlech2.htm) 

He noted many years later, in 1833, when he applied for a soldier’s pension, that “during the whole time I was in the service of the United States and for some time after, I could not talk or understand one word of the English language.” 

His service in the Pennsylvania militia from Northampton County included being drafted at times and volunteering at others — usually serving in two-month stints. He also served as a substitute at one point. He was among those who marched into the neighborhood of Philadelphia to Germantown “where we joined General Washington, and we marched to Brandywine.” 

Marquis de Lafayette
As an 18-year-old private he participated in the Battle of Brandywine on 26 September 1777 as part of Ritter’s Company of the Pennsylvania militia. Sir William Howe, the British commander, defeated the Americans that day with American losses estimated to have been 300 killed, 600 wounded and 400 taken prisoner. While some family historians have read Michael Treece’s Revolutionary War pension application to claim that he was wounded at Brandywine, a closer examination shows that he was referring to the then 19-year-old Marquis de Lafayette, not himself, who was shot in the leg. Additionally, some have claimed Treece was a “hero” at this battle, but I find no evidence whatsoever to confirm this. 

Treece followed a typical migration pattern from Pennsylvania to North Carolina soon after the Revolutionary War and thence to Tennessee in the early 1800s. He married twice and had children by both wives. The name of his first wife is undetermined so far, and by her he had five or six children, one of whom was my ancestor — Mary Magdalena Treece who married Henry D. Fricks about 1804 in North Carolina. By his second wife, Malinda Vaught (Voght) (Faught) (Fite) he had seven children. They married in 1812 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. 

He died quietly in 1840 in Grainger County, Tennessee — an unsung Patriot. 

Thank you for your service.

17 May 2018

It's All Greek, et cetera, to Me

It’s all Greek, et cetera, to Me

#52 Ancestors — Another Language May 14-20, 2018

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ® 2018

Little did I know when I began this journey — digging in the past to learn more about my ancestors — that I would have to deal with several languages and plenty of jargon. But, that’s really been part of the fun of genealogy — exploring history, languages, and technology — plus dealing with my own preconceived notions about my family’s place in the big picture.

In my ignorance and naiveté, I had no idea what “family” really meant and how many ancestors I had that I might actually find historical evidence about, or how many surnames would be involved, and what my ancestors’ roles, especially in American history, were. I was fortunate. I started out knowing the names of seven of my eight greats. Plus my Dad passed along the family legend that our Vanderpools went back to the early Dutch in New Netherland. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a head-start I had compared to some.

The up-close personal look at history and my ancestors’ part in it also has been fun. It started that day long ago when dad took me to the scene of a lesser-known Civil War battle, usually referred to as an “engagement” in official annals, the one at Honey Springs which took place on 17 July 1863 near what’s Checotah, Oklahoma today (then Indian Territory) and just a few miles from where my dad grew up. I don’t recall exactly how old I was, but I think pre-school. Of course, the early memory is imperfect, but the importance of history was etched into my heart. My father never saw a “historical monument” sign that he ignored, and I suspect that is one of the reasons all four of his children became “history buffs.”

It would be years later when I discovered that my family had fought on both sides of the Civil war — despite family legends to the contrary — and to the consternation of a few relatives who clung to their Confederate myths. History began to come alive for me as read about my ancestors’ participation in this war, and the more I read, the more I wanted to learn, and the more I dug into the records.

Along the way, I learned to decipher chicken-scratch type penmanship, jargon used by genealogists, medical, legal and military fields, plus the geeks. I’ve struggled with long-forgotten Latin and math and pondered over old English, German, Dutch, French and Swedish at times.

Who would have thought that I’d ever use or have to figure out Roman numerals again or that something as ordinary as a calendar date could turn out to be complicated, what with the Julian (Old Style), Gregorian (New Style) and Quaker calendars (the latter did not write the name of a month until 1752, but chose to use numbers with March as the first month.) I certainly did not know that when I started my family tree research.

My vocabulary has been enriched with such additions as Ahnentafel, pedigree, FGS (Family Group
Sheet), GEDCOM, html, PDF, ultimo, consanguinity, La Grippe, King’s Evil, in room of (meaning in the place of) executor, administrator, dowry and dower, entail, primogeniture, download, upload, codicil, et. ux, intestate, DNA, metes, bounds, grantor, and grantee. I’ve also learned that a mistress was not what we think of today, and I’ve learned never to call a consort a relict and vice versa.

Plus, I’ve learned that there were no rules about spelling — especially when it comes to names.

13 May 2018

Oh, my Darling Clementine

52#Ancestors No. 19
May 7-13, 2018
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ® 2018

Among the dozen or so women in my family tree that I know next to nothing about, is Clementine Johnson. At least I think her maiden name was Johnson. That’s the claim from a cousin who purportedly once saw the family Bible. I’ve never been able to track down a copy of the Bible, so I rely upon the second-hand information.

You’d think that woman who had 15 children and lived for 72 years would have left more clues and information about her family. Of course, there’s the possibility that she did not know much about her forebears either.

Periodically, I tackle this genealogical problem of learning more about Clementine by exploring the data I have compiled on her 11 children who survived to adulthood. I dig out my Research Log and see if I’ve overlooked something and I continue to research Clementine’s children, grandchildren and even the great-grandchildren.

She married Randle Hensley about 1829, probably in Tennessee, although a marriage record has not yet been found. They lived in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

The six sons have been the easiest to track, but four of the daughters have left fairly good trails. Then
there’s the one daughter, Elizabeth. I don’t know whether she ever married. She was 17 in the 1850 census and so far, I haven’t found a marriage record for her — and she is not with her family in the 1860 census, but I’ll keep looking.

Since Elizabeth was one of the older children, she may be the one who has the information I need to find my darling Clementine, who hopefully, is not lost and gone forever.

01 May 2018

A Close-up of Papa's Will


Week 18 (April 30-May 4):

A Close-up of Papa’s Will

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

David George Sr. made his will 2 July 1861 in Henry County, Georgia and died two months later. He meticulously laid out the way he wanted his estate to be handled. On the initial reading, one notes that he divided it equally among his 12 (and named) children — and everything was to be sold after the death of his wife, Sarah (he left her more than 400 acres of land, plus personal property). His widow would outlive him by 15 years, and the results of the Civil War changed the fortunes of this and many other Georgia families, of course.
In the will, were the following bequeaths:

SIXTHLY — To my daughter Margaret Awtrey, wife of Eldridge Awtrey, (my 3-great-grandmother) for her sole and separate use for and during her natural life, free and exempt from the debts and liabilities of her present or a future husband, I give and bequeath one-twelfth part of the money arising from the sale of property remaining after my bequest to my wife are satisfied, after the following deductions have been made from said twelfth part, namely, four hundred dollars ($400) for a piece of land heretofore given her. And ten ($10.00) dollars for a cow more given to her than the rest of my children. The property in this article contained at the death of Margaret Awtrey shall pass to and become the property of the children, and representatives of children, of said Margaret forever (I mean by the representatives of children, the children of children) . . . [Margaret was then about 49 years of age and had been married to Eldridge Awtrey for 30 years, and was the mother of nine children.]

ELEVENTHLY, To my daughter, Mary Bartlett, wife of Robert E. Bartlett, I give and bequeath, in like manner, for and during her natural life, free and exempt from the debts and liabilities of her present or future husband, a twelfth part of the net money arising from the sale of my property, heretofore directed to be sold, without any deductions and I hereby appoint my son Casey [Carey] W. George trustee of the money in this article to my daughter, Mary Bartlett. The money in this article contained (at the death of my daughter Mary Bartlett) shall pass to and become the property of the children, and the representatives of the children, of said Mary forever — (I mean by the representatives children, the children of children.) [Mary was 37 years old, married young, in fact she had been married 22 years and was the mother of eight children at the time her father wrote his will].

Eighteenthly, I hereby appoint my son David George trustee of the money devised to my daughter Margaret Awtrey, wife of Eldridge Awtrey, in the sixth article of this will and of all other moneys hereafter devised to her in this will.

Nineteenthly, After the death of my beloved wife, I desire and direct that the property given to her in the third and fourth articles of this will be sold by my executors hereinafter named and appointed, and that the net proceeds be equally divided among the above named legatees: that the shares of Margaret Awtrey, wife of Eldridge Awtrey, and of Mary Bartlett, wife of Robert E. Bartlett, go to them with the same restrictions that the sums heretofore devised to them in the Sixth and Eleventh articles of this will, and that the same individuals by [be] trustees of said moneys, that have heretofore been appointed to the sums of money heretofore bequeathed to the said Margaret and Mary.

However, taking a close-up look at David George’s will, a couple of things puzzle me. He had five daughters, and they were all married at the time his will was made, but he treated the daughters differently.

My Margaret was his eldest child and she was to have $400 deducted from her total amount of the estate “for lands given to her” and $10 deducted for a cow (her father evidently kept track of everything, and her inheritance at her death was to go to her children, plus her brother, David George Jr., was the trustee of this money. His daughter Mary (wife of Robert E. Bartlett) was left her inheritance without deductions, but her brother, Carey George, was to be the trustee of the money and upon her death, it was to go to her children.

His other daughters Martha (wife of John J. Stanley), Louisa (wife of Pleasant P. Johnson) and Sarah (wife of Francis M. Clayton) were left their inheritances without any deductions or restrictions. His seven sons were left their shares without any deductions or restrictions.

Now, it is not unusual to find inheritances being settled up this way, particularly when some of the heirs have received loans, land, or property that the others did not. And, I understand 19th-century culture whereby the men handled the money, but after a close-up look at this estate, my question is “Why were Margaret and Mary treated differently from their sisters?

The genealogyist part of me is delighted to have an ancestor who left a detailed will, naming all of his children, plus full names of all of the daughters’ husbands. However, the writer part of me has a gut feeling there is much more to this story, which means back to the records in the red clay country of Georgia to see if I can unearth the real reason why he treated Margaret and Mary this way.

23 April 2018

Walking in a Virtual Cemetery


Week 17 (April 23-29): Cemetery

Walking in a Virtual Cemetery

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

There I was strolling through virtual cemeteries all over the country— updating and adding links and info to Find-A-Grave for my Hensley family. I was doing this from the comfort of my office, thousands of miles removed from where the actual gravesites exist. 
I tracked down the link to my great-grandpa Hensley’s grave at: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47043231?search=true
 And when I re-visited the site (it had been a while), I discovered someone had left this picture of a medal. So I looked again at the only picture I have of him, and while his medal doesn’t match this graphic — exactly, perhaps it solves the mystery and helps to date the photograph.

Civil War Campaign Medal—Army

The Civil War Campaign Medal was retroactively awarded to all members of the United States Military who served during the American Civil War. It was first authorized in 1905 for the 40th anniversary of the war's conclusion. Originally intended as a commemorative award, it was soon adopted as a military decoration due to its popularity in the senior military ranks, many of whom were Civil War Veterans.
The blue and gray ribbon drape is to commemorate the uniform colors of the Union and Confederate troops. The Army's version of the medal has a profile of President Abraham Lincoln on the medallion while the Navy and Marine Corps version depicts the battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. 
The Army Civil War Campaign Medal was established by the United States War Department on January 21, 1907, by General Orders Number 12. To qualify, a soldier had to serve between April 15, 1861, and April 9, 1865. In the U.S. Army, units with Confederate lineage use campaign streamers with the gray edge up and units with Union lineage use campaign streamers with the blue edge up. The closing date was extended to August 20, 1866, date of President Johnson's Proclamation ending the war. 
Although some recipients may have worn some form of the ribbon, the monies necessary to mint and issue the medal were not appropriated by Congress until 1956 – 91 years after the war ended. 
Handed down in our family is a picture of five Hensley brothers and it has long been a mystery as to the date it was taken and there’s some disagreements among family members as to which brothers are pictured therein. There’s no dispute that the one on the far right is Francis Marion Hensley (my ancestor) [1841-1923].
See my previous blog posts about him:


The photograph of interest must have been taken near Muskogee, Oklahoma where he lived, and his three brothers, who lived nearby are assumed to be included: They are: James (1856-1929), Charles F. (1857-1920) and Ralph (R. M.) 1851-1921. 
The disagreement is whether the other brother in the photograph is George (1835-1912) or Marble John (1851-1923), both of whom lived in Georgia. It appears to me that the men are lined up by their ages, with the eldest (Francis Marion) on the right. If so, next to him was Ralph, Marble John (I think), James and then Charles. Francis Marion would have been about 64, with Ralph 61 and the rest in their 50s, except, Charles, the youngest, who would have been about 48. 
The date of the photograph is probably about 1905-10 and my guesstimate now is that it was taken in 1905 — the 40th anniversary of the end of the Civil War — and perhaps because of a reunion of those soldiers and the Civil War Campaign Medal, although it is not clear to me that the medal was actually available that early. 
Of course, in genealogy, nothing is always positively, 100% accurate, and I’ve been known to be wrong. If you can verify the men and the date or prove otherwise, let me know.
I'll be in a cemetery -- somewhere.

17 April 2018

Stars Fell on Alabama


Week 16 (April 16-22): Storms

When Stars Fell on Alabama

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

The family story passed down in one branch of my Autry/Autrey/Awtrey family is that our ancestor, Absalom, died at age 98 on the night the “stars fell on Alabama.”

Thanks to the Internet today, it is fairly easy to find information about this meteor storm, which astronomers estimate bombarded earth’s atmosphere with more than 30,000 meteors an hour on November 12-13, 1833. It was seen in Alabama and much of the rest of the United States. The sky was literally filled with fireworks and must have been a storm few forgot.

This storm was an unusually active display of Leonid meteors, specks of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, often as small as grains of sand, that briefly streak across the sky as they burn up in the atmosphere.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stars_Fell_on_Alabama)

It’s a great story, but we have several Absaloms, and it was not my Absalom Autry/Autrey/Awtrey who died in Alabama the night the stars fell, although mine died in 1833, but it was in Henry County, Georgia and it was in March.

The Family Bible of Isaac Awtrey and Araminta Bankston, who married in 1800, has Absalom recorded as dying March ___1833 in his 83rd year of his age and also recorded is: Lucy (Isaac's mother) Awtrey died 12 Nov. 1818 in her ___ year of her age. The probate of Absalom’s estate was handled by his son, Isaac, in January 1834 in Henry County, Georgia. 

In the 1830 U.S. census of Henry County, Georgia, Isaac Awtrey is listed and in his household is a male 80-90 years of age, which would fit his father, Absalom, who was born 7 June  1750 on the Tar River in North Carolina—probably in Anson County (per his Revolutionary War pension application that was applied for 21 January 1833).

There is another Absalom Autry/Autrey/Awtrey living in Saint Clair County, Alabama in 1830 who is listed in the age bracket of 80-90. He probably is the same one who obtained land there in 1823 (U.S. General Land Office Records, 1776-2015) and deeded same land to this three sons — Enoch, James and George — “for love and affection” on 26 May 1824.

Whether he is the one who died the night stars fell on Alabama, I do not know, but I know when and where my Absalom Awtrey died in 1833.

14 April 2018


April 13 2018

Week 15—Taxes

A Taxing Time in Georgia
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley, © 2018

It is frustrating to lose an entire family between the 1860 and 1870 censuses, but it happens. Tracing Southern ancestors in this time period can be a challenge. Many families were displaced in the aftermath of the Civil War due to the war’s destruction, crop failures, miserable weather, and in Georgia, with the death of about one-third of its soldiers. Records that might solve genealogical mysteries simply are not always extant.

Reuben Kirby and his bride, Nancy Adeline Holley, were married early in 1854 in DeKalb County, Georgia. They appear in the 1860 census in Campbell County, Georgia, with their two young sons, Charles and William. The war comes along and they all vanish.
Campbell County, Georgia, ca 1895

Because Reuben was born about 1823, it is likely that he enlisted or was drafted in the military, but nothing has been found yet to prove conclusively that he participated. Because his parents and most of siblings removed to Alabama about 1860, that state’s records were successfully searched for his two brothers who served in the Confederate forces, but there’s no indication that Reuben moved to Alabama. There is another man of a similar name and age living in Georgia in this time period, but he is enumerated in the 1870 census and does not match my Reuben.

 It took a search in the Georgia Property Tax Digest, 1793-1892 to come to the rescue. Reuben appears in 1849 DeKalb County, Georgia next to his father, John, but with no property at that time. He is shown being taxed on the same 40 acres in 1861, 1862, and 1863 in what was then Campbell County, Georgia. A search in the U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918 was negative for him.

Was he killed during the war, or did he die soon after 1863 (last found tax record for him)? What happened to his wife and two sons? No probate or guardianship papers have been found and none of this family has been located in the 1870 census — so far. In 1880, there is no sign of Charles or William, but a John Kirby, age 18, and listed as a nephew, is in the household of Nathaniel and Edna Humphries in Cobb County, Georgia. Edna turns out to be the sister of Nancy Adeline Holley who married Reuben Kirby. So, if this John Kirby, born about 1862 is a third son of Reuben and Nancy Adeline, where has he been for 18 years, where are his brothers, and how can I make the links?

The Georgia Property Tax Digest for 1890 reveals a Charles M. Kirby and a William Kirby assessed for property in Atlanta, but there’s no proof that they are sons of Reuben and Nancy Adeline. However, a search in Atlanta death records turned up a record on Charles Kirby. He died in 1925 and his death certificate lists his parents — Reuben and Nancy. His obituary in The Atlanta (Georgia) Constitution on 9 March 1925 mentions his wife, two sons, and a brother, Judge J. J. Kirby, of Douglasville (Douglas County, Georgia). The latter county adjoined old Campbell County.  

The Georgia death certificate of Judge John Jordan Kirby has a number of “don’t know” answers, including names of his parents, but with the cause of his death listed as “suicide” in 1932, additional digging uncovered information from a news article posted at Find-A-Grave website:




Monday morning about 9:30 o'clock the town of Douglasville was shocked, when the news came from the county jail, where he was confined, that Judge J. J. Kirby had taken his life by shooting himself through the heart. Judge Kirby had been put in jail several days before on a rum charge. Judge Kirby had been Justice of the Peace here for the past 20 years. He came to Douglasville from Villa Rica. He was twice married and leaves eight grown children by his first wife and one small son by his last wife.

As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Both can be invaluable to family historians.