13 April 2019

Case of Erroneous Conclusions

#52 ancestors April 15-21, 2019
Week 16 — Out of Place

The Case of Erroneous Conclusions 

   or 2+2 = 5?

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2019 

When I first discovered that I had an ancestor named Absalom, I was delighted. I was weary of all the Johns, Williams, Henrys and Abrahams that I had been tracing through the records and trying to sort out. Little did I realize that Absalom would soon frustrate me more than all the others. 

Working backward from the known to the unknown, I learned that Isaac Awtrey (also spelled Autry and several dozen other ways) and Araminta Bankston were my 4-great-grandparents and lived in DeKalb County, Georgia at one point. Along the way, I discovered some wonderful cousins who were most helpful in sharing information and research about our common kin. It helped greatly that many of my cousins lived in Georgia and knew its history, especially of its many counties and changing borders. This began back in the old days when we used snail mail to communicate. As we gathered and shared information, we would, independently, search for primary and good secondary sources and try to verify our branches of the tree. 

We learned that Isaac (1775-1842) and Araminta (1782-1861) had nine children — four sons and five daughters, born from about 1801 to 1819 — all in Georgia: 
i. Elbert — married Libby Collins 
ii. Greenberry — married Sarah Upton
iii. Eldridge — married Margaret George
iv. William — died young 
v. Lucy — married Joseph Huey
vi. Nancy — married Alexander Stewart Jr. 
vii. Annis (female) — married Joseph Jackson Deal 
viii. Mary Ann — married Marcellus Deal 
ix. Elizabeth — married John Ware Stewart 

The 1830 Census of Henry County, Georgia revealed there was 1 white male, age 80-90, in the household of Isaac Awtrey (the presumed white male, 50-60 years of age), and coupled with the finding of a rejected Revolutionary War pension application of an Absalom Awtrey dated 21 January 1833 in the same locality, it suggested that Isaac might be the son of this Absalom. Additional research in deeds and tax lists soon added more evidence to this supposition, plus in 1834 Isaac was given letters of administration in Henry County to sell the property of Absalom Awtrey to settle the estate. Absalom’s pension application provided his date of birth: 7 June 1750, and that he was born near Gastonia (which would be Anson County), North Carolina and that he had also lived in Lincoln County, North Carolina; he moved from North Carolina to Spartanburg County, South Carolina (lived there 10 months) and removed back to Lincoln County, North Carolina, and from there he went to Greene County, Georgia to Jackson County, Georgia, and to Henry County, Georgia, where he resided in 1833. (Love the migration history mentioned in these pension files.) 

Sometime later the 1800 Family Bible of Isaac Awtrey and Araminta Bankston was found stashed away in a descendant’s trunk. It was scanned and made available to all the cousins. It revealed, among other genealogical things, that Absalom was the father of Isaac, and that Absalom had died March ___ 1833 (per the Bible entry) and Absalom’s wife, Lucy, had died earlier on 12 Nov. 1818. 

Imagine my surprise when a “cousin” informed me that my information about Absalom was incorrect and that Absalom was born about 1740 and had been a Tory (Loyalist) officer, served as a First Lieutenant in Colonel David Fanning’s Regiment and that after the war he had removed to Saint Clair County, Alabama and died there in 1833. 

Interestingly, this cousin had same day and month for a birth date (just different year) for Absalom, and also had a similar name for his wife. A bit of research revealed that Absalom Autry, the Tory, was recruited from Randolph County, North Carolina (The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. 22, p. 196, https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr22-0043 ) and had participated in an incident which is recorded in the Revolutionary War history of North Carolina: 

“He [David Fanning] and his raiders first rode to Col. [Andrew] Balfour's plantation. When they arrived, the Loyalists immediately opened fire. Absalom Autry fired at Col. Balfour and the shot broke his arm. Col. Balfour made his way back into the house to protect his daughter and his sister. The Loyalists rushed the house and pulled Col. Balfour away from the women, then riddled his body with bullets. Even Col. Fanning fired his pistol into Balfour's head. The women were kicked and beaten until they fled to the home of a neighbor.” 

The information about this Tory officer of the same name as my ancestor does not match what I’ve found in the records for my Revolutionary War ancestor who was a Patriot, although a number of online trees have my Absalom’s date of birth and claim his wife was Lucy (or a variant thereof). Some even have a few of his children that I have, and at least one has an additional wife for him. 

I’d say that something is out of place here. 

08 April 2019

Seeking gold in California

52ancestors Week 15 (April 8-14)
 DNA (prompt)

Seeking gold in California 

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2019 

I yearn to reach back into fragile pages of history and actually see, feel and smell what it is like in certain places and time periods. I like to know as much about the history in which my ancestors lived as I do the genealogical aspects. I like to see my ancestors in the settings in which they lived, grew up, married, wept over loss of children, and failed crops and how some defied conventions and did it “their way.” It also would be nice to figure out why they pulled up stakes and left XX and went to YY as I doubt that my assumptions are always accurate.

Hans van der Maarel [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

I have to confess that some members of my family tree are much more interesting than others. Some of them swirl back there in the misty fog of the past and beckon me — almost dare me to come find them. What amuses me, especially on a cold winter day, is to take a virtual sleigh ride through the woods of the past and look for them — and the historical evidence about their lives.

“How far back have you traced your family tree?” neophytes (and reporters) have often asked me — especially when they find out I have been “into genealogy” for decades. Or they will ask, “How many names do you have in your database?” — like I’m in some contest to collect the most. 

 I usually give them a casual comment about someone in my Dutch, French, Swiss, or Swedish lines that reaches back to the 15th or 16th centuries. That usually satisfies their curiosity. But what some do not seem to understand is that it is not how many ancestors you can squeeze on a chart or how far back in time the genealogical research takes you. That’s really unimportant because it is not the destination, but the journey — that delivers so much pleasure. 

The Road Not Taken (1916) 
by Robert Frost (1874-1963) 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 
. . . I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference. 

The joy of genealogy is taking those obscure or winding roads that diverge into Frost’s “yellow wood” which lead to tidbits — the incredibly rewarding nuggets — about my kin that show them as humans beings trapped in their historical eras. That is what delights me. So, what if it takes me a 100 years and endless hours of exploring? Who cares? 

Jonathan Lewis, a Forty-niner, was one of the first of our clan (he was the youngest child of Daniel Lewis and Betsy Vanderpool of Ashe County, North Carolina) who “went out West” and got rich in California — or so the story went. He did become rich indeed. Rich, with a fine ranch in the Sierra Nevada mountains, beautiful apple orchards, two wives and 14 children. But, when he died in 1900, the doctor noted the awful social disease that killed him and recorded that he was a “squaw man.” 

You can feel the scorn the doctor had for Jonathan as he wrote the latter — instead of just listing his occupation as a farmer/rancher the doctor seemingly had to allow his own bigotry and prejudice show through. That was a road in the yellow woods for me. I had to know more about Jonathan — not just the blurb in a county history or the description written on his death certificate. 

Finding him and his family in 1880 and 1900 censuses in California was rather straight forward. He had had 10 children by his second Indian wife. Tracing that large family was fairly easy, even with a common surname and luckily for me, descendants knew the name of their mother and her tribe [Sally Goodeye (1858-1935), Chukchansi]. 

It was Jonathan’s first Indian wife, probably born about 1842 in what was then Alta California that remained hidden in the mists of the redwoods and Sierra Nevada. She had no name — no identity whatsoever that I could ascertain. Of course, it is impossible to find someone without a name, so a search in 1860 census was useless, plus she was not likely be enumerated on that record as a single native woman. She died before the 1870 census was taken and marriage records of 49ers and native girls were not recorded in traditional records. All I knew about her is that she and Jonathan had produced four children between about 1862 and 1870. I feared she was going to disappear into the splendors of Yosemite or remain hidden among the rocks and ravines of the California Gold Country and be forever lost to me. But I kept looking. 

I’d like to dazzle you with my brilliant sleuthing and how I tracked down secret, long-lost or obscure files. Alas, not true. Like many crime solvers will tell you — it wasn’t the clever researcher, the high-tech equipment or the DNA — it just good old police work, or in this instance, genealogical research, patience and persistence. 

One day while digging through the records of those who claimed their Indian heritage in the 1928 census for the Indians of California, the youngest child of that couple recorded her mother’s name — Cee-au-na. So, one more blank was filled in on the family tree, but it comes attached with a thousand more questions and many roads yet to explore. 

For another story about Jonathan Lewis, see “Putting it to a Vote” https://shakingfamilytrees.blogspot.com/2018/09/putting-it-to-vote_17.html

01 April 2019

In Search of Heinrich’s Roots

#52 ancestors
April 1-7 Week 14: Brick Wall

 In Search of Heinrich’s Roots 

by Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2019 

Daaden https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Matthias_Schaefgen
 Heinrich (Henry) Gimper [sic] (also recorded as Kimber) arrived in Philadelphia 2 October 1753 on the ship Edinburgh from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. He might be from Daaden, a small rural town about 10 miles south of Siegen, only a few miles south of the Sieg River. But, no proof, yet and he remains a brick wall. Until evidence can be found to support this possible village of origin, it is just a theory, based on research of others who claim that four others on this same ship were from this village. [1] 

Surnames of those from Daaden who arrived on the same ship with my Heinrich (Henry) Gimper/Kimber were: HOEFFER, MEYER, KLEIN, GREGELO, JUNG, CRAEMER, TIEL, KLOECKNER, and BRAUN. On the Edinburgh other shipmates who may have originated from the same area were: Anthon REUSCH (whose name appears as Anthon KEUSCH, and is listed next to my Henry GIMPER on the list); and also there’s a Henrich Gottfried THIEL and Johannes REINSCHMIDT (Johannes Renschmit). 

While my Heinrich (Henry) might or might not have been from Daaden or a nearby locality, he probably came from that region. So far, no solid clues have been uncovered to ascertain where the origins of the 20-year-old Heinrich (Henry) Gimper/Kimber were. He is the only one of that surname on the ship. [2] 

While he may, under the general rules, fall into the “brick wall” category, I just consider him a challenge, albeit a difficult and a long-time one, and I keep hammering and chiseling away. 

 Experienced researchers advise that 18th-century German emigrants seldom came to America on their own. Rather they generally grouped together with others from their same villages and areas and made the entire voyage together. That’s why I’ve focused on those who arrived on the Edinburgh in October 1753 with my Heinrich/Henry. He evidently married soon after he arrived in Pennsylvania and if the place of birth of his children is correct, he soon migrated to North Carolina. He settled on or near Stinking Quarter Creek, which is a lengthy tributary of the Alamance Creek of the Haw River, running westerly across what is now central Alamance County and into Guilford County. The Alamance Creek and Stinking Quarter Creek area of old Orange County, North Carolina, was settled almost exclusively by German Lutheran and Reformed families, beginning in the 1750s. Heinrich/Henry was naturalized 22 September 1764 in Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina (p. 559, Superior Court Minutes). 

 “They [German immigrants] may have gone separate ways soon after arriving or may have continued their association. Part of the reason why they stuck together as groups [originally] was because of the recruiting that was going on in Germany. Recruiters for some of the U.S. colonies were paid a certain amount per emigrant they could provide for their prospective colony. The competition for willing emigrants by these recruiters was intense and their means were often quite unethical. They would say almost anything to try to convince a group of people that they should change their plans and join say the New England or Nova Scotia group instead of the Pennsylvania or Carolina group they may have initially thought to join. These recruiters would go through each village in a neighborhood and assemble a few families and individuals from each of the villages. They would then lead the entire group up the Rhine River to Rotterdam where they would be paid for their efforts.” [3] 

It takes time to break down brick walls. In our fast-paced world we often expect instant genealogical answers by typing in a name and perhaps a date and locality, and it can be frustrating to be faced with several options and possibilities and/or no definitive answers. Plus, we have to deal with name variants — when did Gimper/Kimber become Kimbro? And is the Heinrich/Henry Gimper who landed in Philadelphia in 1753 the same fellow who wound up in Orange County, North Carolina? Were any of his ship mates kin or neighbors in the “old country”? So far, I’ve been unable to determine his wife’s name, which adds to the frustration. Neither Henry nor his wife (widow) is listed in the 1790 North Carolina census. The last record in which I’ve found them (I think) is dated 1789. 

My hopes to finding the origins of my ancestor, Henry Kimbro (and all his variant names/spellings) have been focused on learning more about and tracing the ship mates who arrived on the Edinburgh (and other ships) in the autumn of 1753 and especially any who may have wound up on Stinking Quarter Creek in Orange County, North Carolina. I also research the families into which his children married and look for clues or evidence of their European origins, and I track down his neighbors — always looking for snippets of information that might solve this puzzle. 

This often has been tedious, boring research with mostly negative results. Frequently, I put it away and let it set. After all, my ancestors aren’t going anywhere. And, then the nagging starts, and I pull out the research logs and data I have about Heinrich/Henry Gimper/Kimbro (ca 1733-1789) and I create a new research plan, hone the chisels and grab a hammer, and go back to work in hopes of knocking down this so-called brick wall. Knowing full well, the minute I solve that problem, two more will pop up — like whack-a-mole. 


[1]Emigrants from Daaden, Rhineland-Palatinate, 1753,” by Henning Schroeder Im Sohl 60: 5270 Gummersbach 1; West Germany 1986 — an article that appears in The Palatine Immigrant, Vol. XII, No. 1, 1987. Family History Library (US/CAN FHL 973 B2pi). Available online for purchase at: http://www.palamgermangenealogysociety.org/bkstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=193

[2] Strassburger, Ralph Beaver, and William John Hinke. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 ... 2 vols. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing C0., Inc., 1980.

[3]Emigrants from Daaden, Rhineland-Palatinate, 1753,” by Henning Schroeder