14 February 2018

Love in the 19th Century

Week 7 — Valentine

Love in the 19th Century

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018\

When Nancy Jones’ beau died during the Civil War, she must have been heart-broken, though no diary or letter has been found that records her emotions — only a poignant note written by him (whose name has since  been lost) during a battle wherein he told Nancy  that he had
“Laid as close to the ground as ever a squirrel laid to a limb.”

At the time of the war, Nancy lived with her parents, Evan Jones and “Polly” (née Weaver) and some of her 10 siblings in Laurel County, Kentucky. Nancy, born in 1839, was one of the couple’s younger children. Exactly when or how Nancy met Ephraim Clayton (called E. C.) Anderson, a young man eight years her junior, who lived about 20 miles away in adjoining Clay County in mountainous southeastern Kentucky is another story that’s been lost in the passing of the years.

On February 14, 1868, Nancy took a sheet of lined paper, folded and cut it artistically. When she was done, she had four hearts. There were also four hands and four designs that appear to be flowers at the sheet’s corners. In the confines of the cut hearts, she wrote this valentine to E. C. Anderson:

Heart 1
Last lots ware (were) cast
From them I drew kind fortune
It must be you
Look at the first letter in every line to your right hand
I send my hart (heart) in hand to you.
You may think strange of this.

Heart 2
Kind sir if this you do refuse
Then burn the paper and be excused
Answer from you I will expect
Say answer by a line
Will you be my valentine?
Beauty is but a flower
And may be wilted in an hour

Heart 3
[Taking the first letter of each line and reading vertically, it spells out her name]
and love will
no (know) that we must
consult our minds
youth and beauty will
Just do for a flower
one is all we trust
nothing else can we study but
each other. You are
so far away.

Heart 4
My bosom swells
with deep concern
I love but cannot love but one.
I guess I’ll never love another
so let us live in love together.
If this Valentine you do refuse
please burn the paper and be excused.

Obviously, he did not burn the paper. E.C. and Nancy were married Nov. 19, 1868. They had six children, but only three survived to adulthood.

More than a hundred years later, in 1977, when descendants were selling their ancestral home and dividing up the furniture, one of the heirs took a small wooden table with one drawer. It had sat in a combination room that served as both bedroom and living room.

Later, when she and her sister were going through things with a purpose — to leave some old papers to Berea College — they found the valentine. It was among old photos, receipts, Confederate money and memorabilia, folded up in a little square. They read it, made a copy and then folded the original back into its small square.

E. C. and Nancy (Jones) Anderson died within six months of each other with Nancy going on December 26, 1917. Nancy was 78. Ephraim lasted six months longer, dying June 5, 1918, at the age of 71. They are buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Marydell, Laurel County, Kentucky.

Tombstone photograph by the kind permission of Hank Cox. Photo Copyright 2010, Hank Cox, originally uploaded to Find-A-Grave.

Thanks to my cousins, Mary Martin Cheek and Shirley Martin Chandler, for sharing this story and other family information with me.

See also: “Treasures in Old Letters: I Have Taken me a Woman . . . “

08 February 2018

Help! My Ancestors Have Turned Green

Week 6 — Favorite Name

Help! My Ancestors Have Turned Green

by Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

At first I thought it was just one of those naming fads our families went through. You know, where all the girls are named for flowers or jewels. I always think of my Grandaunts — Lily and Pearl — who weren’t my grandaunts at all, but rather cousins, but in my childhood, everyone over 20 or so was called “aunt” or “uncle” if they were even distantly related. And if they were “old” (like 40+) you tacked on the “grand” in front of aunt or uncle to show your respect.

However, a particular given name keeps popping up in various branches of my family tree. Who on earth names their bouncing baby boy — GREEN?

Naturally, as a seasoned genealogist, I assumed there had to be a valid reason for this colorful name — perhaps a maiden name of someone or in honor of a famous military hero or a local celebrity? My family is a bit eccentric, to be polite, as well as creative, but this Green given name keeps showing up so often, there has to be a story behind it. Or so I thought.

I snickered when I first encountered Greenberry Autry (Awtrey) — an older brother of my ancestor. Naturally, he was called “Green” for short. Thank goodness, my 4g-granny chose to name my ancestor just plain old Eldridge. This Greenberry, was born about 1803 in Georgia and I spent considerable time searching for someone with the surname of Greenberry because why else would my 4g-granny pass along the name? It had to be a family name.  If it is, it is hidden well.

When additional research revealed someone named Green Nathaniel Bankston in another of my Georgia families, it appeared he most likely was named in honor of the Revolutionary War soldier, General Nathanael Greene, and his parents transposed the given names. His son was named Young Green.

Gen. Nathanael Greene

But were these other “Greens” named for the general also? I really don’t know. There simply is no rhyme or reason that I can determine as to why so many of my families on non-connecting branches and different generations chose to name their sons Green.

One of my relatives was John “Green Bottom” Connally, but that was just a nickname based on a topographic name. He built the Green Bottom Inn near Huntsville, Alabama about 1815. However, typically, for my family, his genealogy is in dispute, so I’m not sure about our relationship.

I’ve even found a couple of boys named Green Hill in my tree. That made me smile, but when I discovered Olive Green on a gnarled branch, I snorted coffee on my computer monitor. So far I’ve counted 30 Greens. Can’t you just hear their mothers yelling for those sons to come home for supper?

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. They could have chosen another color — like puce.

03 February 2018


No. 5 — Jan. 26 2018


Using the census to track a family in its Dust Bowl migration

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

Dorthea Lange photo (public domain)  of a family arriving in California from Oklahoma ca 1935.

When Elmer Hodge Blair married Attelia Pryor in the summer of 1914[1] in Oklahoma, times were pretty good and the future looked bright because Oklahoma was bubbling in oil, and its businesses and farms were thriving. He was 23 and she was 19. Elmer was a farmer, though it is doubtful that he ever owned one. He registered for the World War I draft[2] in Muskogee County, Oklahoma where he then lived and at that time claimed he was married with two children. Apparently, he never actually served in the military.

His father died in early 1918, leaving Elmer with a younger sister as his nearest relative. He also had several half siblings via his father’s second marriage. In the 1920 census[3] of Choctaw County, Oklahoma, Elmer and Attelia and their three sons are renting a place and he is farming. Their sons — Elmer Leroy, Marion Floyd and Paul Vernon — were born in 1915, 1917 and 1918, respectively.

By 1930, Elmer and family had moved again — to Eufaula in McIntosh County, Oklahoma.[4] About this time there was a global economic slowdown and one of the worst and longest drought in America’s history hit. The drought created the Dust Bowl period in the 1930s with the most intense years occurring in 1934 and 1936. While eastern Oklahoma where the Blairs lived was not as severely hit by the dust storms, the area also was impacted by great economic losses and the Depression. Like hundreds of thousands of others, the Blairs joined the so-called Dust Bowl refugees and went to California.

In 1940, Elmer, his wife and two of his three sons were enumerated in Taft Heights, Kern County, California. He had been unemployed for 16 weeks, was renting a home for $15 a month, and had an income of $350. The 1940 population schedule[5] asked an additional question that helped to pinpoint the migration of this family. It asked: “In what place did this person live on April 1, 1935?” Additionally, if it was a different place than in 1940, the enumerator was to enter the name of the city or town. The Blairs lived in a rural area (farm) in McIntosh County, Oklahoma in 1935.  

So sometime between 1 April 1935 and 18 April 1940, the Blairs had made the trip along the famous Route 66 to California.

Elmer is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, and Orange County, California where he died in 1950, and Artelia purportedly died there in 1959.[6]
However, they made at least one more trip back to Oklahoma because in 1942[7], Elmer is found in the “old men’s draft” of that year for World War II, living in McAlester, McIntosh County, Oklahoma. How long they stayed before returning to California I have yet to determine.

[1] Elmer H. Blair married Artelia Pryor, 9 Aug 1914, Muskogee County, Oklahoma.
Film Number: 001312360. Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

[2] Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Muskogee; Roll: 1851890. Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm. 

[3] 1920 U.S. census. Choctaw County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Wilson, Enumeration District [ED] 80.  Roll T625_1456, p. 13A. United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[4] 1930 U.S. census, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Eufaula, Enumeration District [ED] 14. Roll 1914; Page: 4A; FHL microfilm: 2341648. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

[5] 1940 U.S. census, Kern County, California, population schedule, Taft Heights,  Enumeration District [ED] 15-59; Roll: m-t0627-00214; Page: 14A. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[6] Find-A-Grave Memorial (no sources cited). Elmer H Blair Birth 1891. Death 1950.
Burial: Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, California, USA. Memorial ID 58489865.
Find-A-Grave does not show a burial record for his wife; and I’ve found no documentation to prove exactly when and where she died.

[7] World War II Draft Cards (4th Registration), for the State of Oklahoma. The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
© 2018, Ancestry.com.

26 January 2018

It's Chicken in Any Language

No. 4--26 Jan. 2018
Topic: Invite to dinner

Kyckling, Poulet, Hähnchen, Sicin, Kip:
It’s chicken in any language
 By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

 If we went to “grandma’s” for dinner — you could bet there would be chicken on the menu. It didn’t matter which grandmother’s house we visited on our Sunday and holiday trips.  That’s how it was back in the “old days” when I was a kid growing up in the hills of eastern Oklahoma. But, how the chicken was prepared depended on the grandma.

Both of my grannies were Southerners — one was from Alabama and the other from Tennessee — and they were born within a decade of each other. Their cuisine was similar in various ways, and both served fresh vegetables from their home gardens. They also created bowls of mashed potatoes, sinfully rich with real cream and butter. Of course, that was back in the days when none of us worried about our waistlines or cholesterol levels.

If we went to my paternal grandmother’s, there would always be fried chicken — and I’d usually help with the plucking of the feathers after Grandmother or Dad had “killed the old red roosters.” My squeamish older sister declined to help with that chore. But, she didn’t have any problem eating the chicken I noticed.  My younger cousins and I were served a platter of fried chicken at the “kids’ table” — it consisted of drumsticks and wings. I didn’t know there was any other part of the chicken until I was grown. Of course, we could have all the mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies that we wanted. Then we’d line up for dessert, which often was coconut cake or chocolate pie.

At my maternal grandmother’s, she served smothered chicken and dumplings, along with the usual fresh vegetables, including okra, which I loved, but never learned to cook like she did. Often there’d be corn-on-the-cob from her garden and watermelon in the summertime. Dessert frequently was a cobbler — made from fresh blackberries in the summer or apples or peaches at other times. Sometimes she’d make a vinegar pie, which was my all-time favorite.

My daughter who lives in Alaska, called the other day. She requested a recipe. “Send it by e-mail,” she said. Guess you never know which dish will be a favorite to be passed along in the family. She wants my tuna salad recipe.

Well, that’s something I can do off the top of my head. I’m so relieved her request wasn’t for Granny’s dumplings or for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. I might have a problem finding those recipes which are stashed away willy-nilly somewhere in my dozens of cookbooks and assorted recipe notebooks. Organizing ancestors is something I can do, but not 50 years of recipes.

Isn’t there an app for that yet?

19 January 2018

Send him home

No. 3 — Jan. 19 2018

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2018

High on the family legends list is the one about some ancestor who lived to be 100, give or take a few years. It is as though having a long-living ancestor gives you bragging rights.

One of the first of those characters I set out to find was a 5-great-grandpa. The claim was that he lived to be 105. Wow, I thought. Then, I said, “Really?” as my skeptical nature took over. That isn’t logical — not for someone born back about 1740.

Additionally, the rest of the family tale — that he was a doctor who served during the Revolutionary War, had met an Irish gal while on a ship to America who he would marry — raised some red flags for me. Especially, the latter, because his family was Dutch and had been in this country since about 1650. Of course, it isn’t polite to argue with your cousins who shared and believed the legends, so I quietly began researching.

First I learned he did not serve in the Revolutionary War, although he provided some cattle (beef) for the American forces, which makes him a patriot according to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). I sighed in relief to find that information because with my family you never know which side of a war they might have fought on.

As for being a doctor — well, as a young man he grew up in the back country of old Augusta County, Virginia during the French and Indian War and his parents were not among the Virginia Cavaliers who could have afforded to provide him with much of an education. By the time he reached adulthood, the family was living in North Carolina, and no reference I’ve found mentions that he was anything other than a farmer. While the educational requirements to be a doctor in the 18th century were not extensive; most men who became doctors did so via an apprenticeship, and I found nothing to show that my ancestor did.

But, did he live to be 105? The story of his longevity was repeated in several different lines of his purported 12 children. However, the when and where he died details were in conflict, but I traced every clue I found. Until I would hit the proverbial brick wall.

In tracking all of his children who survived into the 1830s and 1840s, I checked pertinent censuses to see if an “old man” was living in any of their households who might fit the profile of Wynant Vanderpool, my 5-great-grandpa. If the legend is true, he would have been in his late 80s or early 90s in 1830. I also checked the 1840 censuses, where, if the tale was true, he should show up as about 90-100 years old.

He doesn’t.

The last record we have of him (or think we do) is the 1810 census of Ashe County, North Carolina, where he is cleverly listed as just W. Vanderpool, and is over 45. Nevertheless, I see a number of online trees have him listed as dying at age 105 and 115 in various locales. No proof, of course.

If you happened to run into him, please alert me. I’ve been hunting for him for decades.

15 January 2018

Treasures in the family photo album


No. 2 — Jan. 12, 2018

Favorite Photo: Worth a 1,000 words. Indeed.

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley

3 Generations of Vanderpools and 3 Kimbro sisters

Back row, the 3 Kimbro sisters: left to right: Cora (Kimbro) Vanderpool, LaVada Kimbro and Mollie (Kimbro) Vanderpool. Front row: 2 Vanderpool brothers and their 3 children (double first cousins), left to right: Russell Braxton “Brax” Vanderpool and daughter, Esther Evelyn Vanderpool; John R. Vanderpool and his two children, Edna and John O. Vanderpool (my father). Seated in the chairs to the right are the parents of the 2 Vanderpool brothers — Mary Elizabeth Kelly and William Carroll Vanderpool. Date of the photo is estimated to be about 1912. Location is probably McIntosh County, Oklahoma, near Eufaula.

06 January 2018

The First Time

#52Ancestors 2018-01-06
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c)

Like all firsts of life — kiss, love, flight, or whatever, finding my maternal grandma in the census sticks in my memory, because there is nothing like the thrill of the first time.

Having waded into the waters of genealogical research with a minimum of preparation from a few “how-to” books I’d read about the process, I understood that the U.S. censuses were invaluable and that I would need to find my ancestors in those records in order to continue this personal journey into the past. The nearest National Archives was in Seattle and I learned it held all the U.S. censuses — on microfilm Seattle was only 30 miles away, but I worked full time at the newspaper and finding time to pursue my new hobby was a major problem. A co-worker told me that there was a library nearby
— a branch of the famous genealogical library in Salt Lake City — where I could order the census records I needed and go there to read them on microfilm. A perfect solution because that library was only a couple miles from my home. Best of all, it was open evenings and on my day off.

One day on my way home from work I stopped by the Family History Center and explained to the nice gentleman volunteer about my quest. He helped me find the film number I needed and I filled out the form and paid the 85 cents for postage. He assured me someone would call when the film arrived.

At last it arrived and I was raring to go. The library volunteer showed me where the “ordered” film was kept and then took me to a reader and gave me basic instructions on how to thread the film, adjust the magnification and crank the handle forward and backward. It’s easy, I thought. I began to scroll through the names until I found her.
Ida M. Hensley, age 1 — the baby of the family. There were her parents, her two older brothers and her sister — just as grandma had told me. I scribbled all the information about them including ages and states of birth onto the census form, plus the enumeration information, including dwelling, family and page numbers.
It was then I realized my hands were sweaty and I was breathing fast. I was on an endorphin high.

I couldn’t remember which drawer to return the film to, so I had to ask the librarian. I also informed her I wanted to order the 1890 census for that locality.

“The 1890 census was burned,” she told me.

Oh, no. My first obstruction, and I had just begun.

It was lucky for me that my grandma’s memory was so precise because I had not used the Soundex to find her, but had gone directly to the Etowah County, Alabama enumeration. However, like many novices before and since me, I had been so focused on finding grandma that I had not paid any attention to others on that page. If I had, I would have found her grandparents and one of her father’s brothers and his family. That would have saved me time and money because I had to re-order that same census again. I would learn.

After all, it was my first time.

18 October 2017

Becoming a Native

Or how I became a Washingtonian
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley

“First you have to choose between the Cats and the Dawgs,” my newspaper colleagues at the Seattle Times informed me.


You either root for the UW Huskies (dawgs) or the Cow-Poly Cougars (cats) football teams. Those are the rules.

“OK, I get that.” Coming from Oklahoma, which is as football obsessed as any state, I get the screaming wild-eyed passion for the sport and your team, and I even understand the game (thanks, Dad) — knowing why and when a quick kick is utilized, what a PAT is, and that a playing field is 100 yards long by 53.3 yards wide
I chose the Huskies. Those blue-eyed, curly-tailed pups with their purple jerseys are just too adorable.

“Next, we will take you to Ivar’s for clam chowder. “ That sounded like fun, although this flatlander wasn’t sure what chowder was. But, hey, I’d spent five years in Europe and learn to eat schnecken (snails), spargel (white asparagus), almost raw steaks, and have blistered my lips with Löwensenf mustard. I figured I could handle a little chowder, whatever it was.
By the time lunch was finished I was almost a native Washingtonian.

Or so I thought. Then they began to lay down the hard rules about the other things I had to do to become an Evergreen state native. I was so naïve. I figured the test would be to identify various apples and cherries or a Walla Walla onion. Wrong.

  • Identify the volcanoes of Washington. Eek! We have volcanoes?
  • Get a clam gun. Go clamming at low tide. Dig up a goeduck and spell it correctly. 
     A what? I’d never heard of such an animal. They pronounced it “GOOEYduck,” but I had a feeling that was not the correct spelling.
     “What does it mean?” I asked. 
     “It is from an old Nisqually word for “dig deep.” 
     Oh, that helped. (What’s a Nisqually? I wondered.) And, what is “low tide?” Do I need to go to a range to practice shooting clams? What about a license to buy a clam gun to hunt those critters?

Goeyduck Clam

  • Next. Go fishing. Catch a salmon; identify a ratfish and a dogfish. (Now I knew they were pulling my leg — I knew about salmon and catfish, but the others must be the “snipe” of the Pacific NW, and I wasn’t falling.) So I just smiled and nodded.
  • Sail up the Ballard Locks in a boat from Puget Sound to Lake Union. That sounded like an adventure, and I love the water.
  • Take a ferry to an island — any island; Washington has dozens. More fun. I was beginning to like this state.
  • Pronounce and spell the city in Pierce County where the state fair is held. What? I never claimed to be trilingual.
  • Name 24 edible berries of the Pacific Northwest. (Oh, come on, they have to be kidding). In time I would learn that Washington has berries for everyone — bears, crows, clouds, elders, goose, Indians, salmon, and even thimbles. My favorites — because I love minutiae — are: hairy manzanita (barely edible berries) and twistedstalk. The latter’s fruit is an elongated red berry ripening in mid-summer, and if berries are consumed in quantity, diarrhea can result. Good to know.
  • Name and spell all the rivers in Washington that start with “S.” Only blankey-blank newspaper people would think up such a cruel task.
  • I didn’t pass the test. — initially, but within a couple of years, you could slap Boeing, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon stickers all over me. I was a screaming Husky, Seahawks, Sonics and Mariners fan and knew “the wave.” I could identify and spell all the rivers, ports, volcanoes, islands, and towns in the state and I could tell a fir from a cedar. Of course, it helps that we newspaper folks have our cheat sheets, called “Manual of Style and Usage” also known as the “Stylebook.”
Was it only 52 years ago I came to this incredibly beautiful corner of America? Now I speak fluent Evergreenese with just a slight clam accent.

03 September 2017

Brushes with Fate

Brushes with Fate: A Georgia Bankston Family’s Civil War-era Story
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2017

 By 18601 Jacob Bankston (1798-1881) and his wife, Catharine (née Biffle or Biefler, but rendered under many spellings in American records) (1805-1886) had reared their family. Catharine was the purported daughter of John Biffle, of German ancestry, who died in DeKalb County, Georgia in 1850.2 The Bankstons were of Swedish origins, tracing back to the early Swedes on the Delaware. 3

“Georgia’s decision in 1861 to leave the United States had far-reaching and unintended consequences for all Georgians . . . and indeed all Southerners.”4 The consequences of the subsequent war that began 12 April 1861, touched the lives of Jacob and Catherine Bankston, and all of their children — with death, physical and mental losses and economic misery.

Georgia's old Capitol at Milledgeville 

While no personal accounts of war experiences on the home front or about their lives during Reconstruction by any of this Bankston family were written, or if so, have survived or been found, their stories exist. They are told in military records, Confederate pension applications, court documents, property taxes and later censuses.  
It is believed that their eldest child was Alfred Leander Bankston (called Leander), born ca 1826, who married Martha C. Harris (1837-1905) in 1859 in Butts County, Georgia. This family removed to DeKalb County, Georgia, where he died in 1877. Martha applied for a Confederate widow’s pension in 1891, but it was “refused.” Evidently on grounds she was unable to prove he had died of a disease or injury directly related to one received during the war.

Jacob and Catherine’s  youngest daughter, Delilah (called Lila) Bankston, married on 6 November 1859 in Henry County, Georgia to William J. Smith5, and they and their young daughter (not named at the time) were living with her parents in 1860 in Henry County, Georgia. Jacob Bankston’s real estate was valued at $750 and his personal estate at $339. He owned no slaves.

Their eldest daughter, Sarah Elizabeth “Betsy” Bankston, who married Thomas V. Pelt, a wheelwright, in 1848, was living nearby in 1860 with their four young children. Pelt had no real estate listed. His personal property was valued at $1,000, probably the value of his tools and equipment for his business. He owned no slaves.

Two of Jacob and Catherine’s sons — John E. and William M. — have not been located in the 1860 census in Georgia. John E. (purportedly his middle name was Edward, but that is unproven) was born ca 1828, and he married Sarah E. Dawson 31 Oct. 1852 in Henry County. His brother, William M. Bankston, born ca 1835, married Mary G. Mays on 29 November 1860 in Henry County.

The propensity of many German-Americans6 to use the middle name of their children as the “rufnamen or call name” creates some confusion for genealogists, especially in the censuses, when a person may have given their “first name” as was usually asked for by the enumerators, but they probably went by their second name. It is not unusual to find the same person listed either way in various records. It may be that John E. and William M. will be found in the 1860 census, but under other given names, spellings, or in other states.

Martha M. Bankston, another daughter of Jacob and Catherine, was born about 1838 and married Isaac W. Jinks on 5 January 1860 in Henry County. In the 1860 census they are shown in Buttrill’s District in Butts County. Their first child, Frances, was born later than year or early in 1861. They were not slaveowners.

There also is a James Bankston, born ca 1849, enumerated with Jacob and Catherine in the 1860 census, but he has not been further identified or traced successfully.

The State of Georgia first began giving pensions to Confederate soldiers who had lost a limb in 1877. The law was gradually broadened to include soldiers who were disabled due to their military service and to indigent soldiers. Indigent widows of Confederate soldiers who died in service or as a result of their service began receiving pensions in 1890. Pension funds also paid medical expenses for final illnesses and funeral expenses for indigent soldiers and widows.7

The New York Times on 11 September 1891 (page 1) carried a story under the headline of “Pensions Given by Georgia” wherein it noted that the “[Georgia] House Finance Committee has agreed upon a bill which will cost the State $400,000 per annum for the support of the widows of Confederate soldiers. Two years ago it was resolved to pay $100,000 per annum to such widows, but the estimate being there were about 600 in the State, for that purpose $60,000 was appropriated. Already applications have been received from 3,700 widows. That there are at least 4,000 there seems no doubt. The question which this Legislature had to meet was whether it would stand by its determination to pay $100 pension to each widow.

“The Deficiency Appropriation bill was under consideration and one paragraph referred to widows’ pensions. To a few of the members it did not seem as if the State were able to grant so liberal a pension in view of the great number of applicants, but the majority were emphatically in favor of the pensions remaining as they were first put, $100 each, and when the vote was take $340,000 was appropriate ‘for each of the years of 1891 and 1892.’”

A newspaper transcription below by Don Bankston provides additional light upon the subject of Confederate pensions:

Jackson [Georgia] Argus – Week of January 18, 1895

“Mrs. Sarah Bankston and Mrs. Betsy Pelt, two of Judge Carmichael’s widows at Jenkinsburg, was [sic] in town Saturday looking after their pensions for this year. All the widows are calling on the judge now, and he politely and courteously gives them all the information they need. We should have mentioned a week ago that the blanks were here and ready for signatures, but the good ladies know the time of year and come right along as they should.”

Thomas V. Pelt and Betsy Bankston 

Betsy Bankston’s husband, Thomas V. Pelt, joined Co. G of the 63rd Regiment Georgia Infantry, CSA as a private (later a sergeant). He was killed while on picket duty at the Battle of Kennesaw on June 27, 1864, leaving her with six children ranging in ages from one to 13. He was about 49 years old when he died.

In her Confederate widow pension application she noted that he enlisted in 1862 and that "He never returned after the close of the war, nor has he been heard of since said time."

In the 1870 census she and the children are living in Henry County, County, with $150 in personal estate. Betsy lived until after 1910 census. With the help of her four sons and two daughters, she managed to survive after the war. Her children began to marry and start their own families in the 1880s and early 1900s. They were: Mary C.; John J. who married first Mary Elizabeth “Molly” Thaxton; William D.; Martha Anne who married James P. Vaughn; Wayman who married Sarah E. Snow; and Henry Lee who married first Lidie Parker. Apparently the daughter, Mary C. Pelt, never married. She died 28 June 1943 in Henry County, Georgia.

Pattillo Brothers 

The image of the Pattillo brothers above serves as a remarkable graphic illustration of the dress and weapons used during this time period by men who probably knew the Bankstons, Pelts, Dawson, Mays, Jinks, and Smith families. The Pattillo brothers of Henry County, Georgia, enlisted together in Co. K, 22nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, CSA. They served in the Army of Northern Virginia. (The photographer is unknown.) They are, left to right: Benjamin (killed at Battle of 2nd Manassas [Bull Run]), George, James (wounded and lost a toe at Battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia) and John (wounded at Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia). Additionally, James Pattillo connects to the author via his son’s marriage into the George family, also of Henry County.]

John E. Bankston and Sarah E. Dawson

John E. Bankston, born 7 April 1828, joined as a private, in Co. A., 53rd Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, CSA on 28 April 1862. He contracted measles and in August of 1862 the sight in his left eye was destroyed, as a result. Some of his military records say he was captured at Cold Harbor, Virginia on June 1, 1864; released at Elmira, New York on June 16, 1865, and returned home, but substantiating documents about his capture have not been found. Evidently, he continued to have severe pain and what was described as “violent inflammation of the eye” as after-effects of the measles. He applied for an allowance (for the loss of his eye) in 1889. However, it was questioned because the clerk claimed that “a lunatic cannot make the proof the law requires and applicant cannot be paid. Is he not now in the State Asylum and there is supported by the State? If so, he certainly cannot be paid.”

In an undated note, but evidently about 1889, in the Ordinary’s Court of Butts County, Georgia, action had been brought in the “J. M. Bankston vs. John E. Bankston” case about the question of lunacy, and the jury adjudged that “J. E. [evidently John E.] Bankston is insane and that he should be committed to the Lunatic Asylum at Milledgeville, Georgia.”

He was committed and after some time was duly discharged and returned home. He died there May 6, 1890. His widow, Sarah E. (née Dawson) filed and received a Widow’s Pension ($100 per annum) as early as 1891. They had seven children. They were: Nancy “Nannie” who married Henry G. Asbury; Jacob McDaniel who married Margaret Glass; Johnny H. (died young, in 1863); Mattie Emma Jane, who married Cicero H. Farrar; William James who married Edna Letha Glass; Adella who married Joseph A. Moss; and Edgar Bankston.

John E. Bankston, OBITUARY (Middle Ga. Argus – Week of May 12, 1890)

(Transcribed by Don Bankston)

“It is the sad mission of this letter to chronicle the death of one of our most worthy citizens, Mr. J. E. [John E.] Bankston, the senior member of the popular and well-known firm of J. E. Bankston & Son. Mr. Bankston was one of the first to open business at this point, and has steadily gained ground in popular sentiment and in as well, deserved patronage. Shortly after his opening he induced Mr. J. M. [Jacob McDaniel] Bankston become his partner, and the son has borne the burden of business for the last several years, and this made it easy for the old gentleman in his declining years. Thought a hard worker in his younger days, he has spent the greater part of his time for several years in a kingly and easy retirement. The virtues of J. E. Bankston cannot be enumerated in a letter like this. He had in him all the Christian virtues happily blessed. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was not only charitable, but he was a philanthropist; not only generous, but a peacemaker; not only polite, but the master of courtesy; not only firm, but stable; not only honorable, but the personification of honor and virtue; not only a dutiful husband, but an adored father. He has been a consistent member of the church for a number of years and has lived up to his profession all the way through. He was a model Christian, and as sure there is a home for the soul, and just as sure as the pure in heart shall see God, he is in Heaven today. We tender our sympathies to the bereaved wife and children and the sorrow stricken relatives, and to all we will say; try to live the life he did, and do the works he did.”

“For as the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” —N. J. H.

William M. Bankston and Mary G. Mays

William M. Bankston, another son of Jacob and Catherine, was born about 1835. He married Mary G. Mays in Henry County, Georgia 29 November 1860. He enlisted in Company A, Georgia 44th Infantry Regiment (Weems Guards) on 17 March 1862 and died 10 March 1863 of chronic diarrhea in General Hospital No. 2 at Lynchburg, [Campbell County] Virginia. He was buried there in a Confederate Cemetery; disinterred, and sent to Jonesborough, Georgia [Clayton County]. Mary, William’s widow, remarried in 1868 to Jackson Walden in Henry County8, but they are found in Clayton County, Georgia in the 1870 census. It appears that Mary and William Bankston were the parents of a daughter named Rebecca, born about 1862. While Rebecca is recorded under the Walden surname of her stepfather in 1870, she was born about six years before her mother married him, so she probably is a daughter who William never saw or perhaps never even knew about, unless she was born prior to his enlistment in 1862. Preliminary research indicates that Mary and her second husband removed to Miller County, Arkansas where she died 29 April 1873. What became of Rebecca Bankston, born ca 1862 has not been determined.

Isaac Jinks Jr. and Martha Bankston

Martha Bankston, whose date of birth varies in the censuses from ca 1832 to 1838, married Isaac W. Jinks, Jr. in Henry County, Georgia on 5 January 1860. He was born in Butts County and had $200 in real estate and $200 in personal property at the time. They did not own any slaves.

He enlisted in Company A, Georgia 53rd Infantry Regiment in either April or May of 1862 (conflicting dates in the records). He mustered out on 15 Feb 1865. He applied for an indigent soldier’s pension in 1895 claiming “infirmity.” He said that he had heart disease and kidney disease and was ruptured about 15 years ago. He claimed he had no property except household goods and no income. In 1893 and 1894 he had been supported by the labor of his wife and children and about $10 by his own labor. He was married, with five living children, two boys and three girls, ages 35, 32, 30, 25 and 22.

“They are hardly able to support themselves. One boy, 30, is an idiot and utterly helpless, is an invalid, and unable to do anything.” [That child was William, called “Willie” who was born about 1865 and is listed as an “idiot” on the 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes, Georgia.] 
When questioned about property on which he had paid county taxes in 1893/4, he said it had belonged to his wife, who bought and paid for out of a small legacy estate of her father in 1881. [Jacob Bankston, her father, died 12 June 1881 in Henry County, Georgia.]

Isaac Jinks Jr. drew his annual pension from 1897 to 1903. He died in September of 1903. His widow, Martha M., then applied for a widow’s pension, filling out a “Widow’s Affidavit” noting she was 68 years old and “suffer with my head and general break down.” The only property she owned was 15 acres in Henry County and it was sold to pay old debts, burial expenses (of her husband) and the physician. The land was sold for $350. Also included in the file is the physician’s statement that he was paid $350 for his services pertaining to Isaac Jinks’ final illness.

Martha died in 1918 in Butts County. She and Isaac had six children, but one of their daughters (Catherine) died before 1880 and the fate of their son, “Willie” is not known. Only two of her children — James M. Jinks and Rebecca Jinks Crane — survived her. Their daughter, Frances, married a James Leach and purportedly lived until 1926, but is not mentioned in Martha’s obituary. Her obituary appeared in the Jackson Progress-Argus on March 1, 1918.

Mrs. Martha Jinks Passed Away Wednesday Evening

After an illness of only a few days, Mrs. Martha Jinks, 79 years of age, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. P. C. Crane, near Jackson Wednesday night at 7 o'clock. Death was due to paralysis. Mrs. Jinks was a member of Beersheba church, where the funeral services were held Thursday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock. The pastor, Elder Van Henderson, conducted the services. Mrs. Jinks is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Pearl Crane, and one son, Mr. J. M. Jinks, of Henry County.

William J. Smith and Lila Bankston

Delilah (called Lila) Bankston, the youngest daughter of Jacob and Catherine, was born in 1840 and married in late 1859 to William J. Smith, who was born in 1832 in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He also served during the Civil War and was in Company A, Georgia 44th Infantry Regiment (Weems Guards) as was his brother-in-law, William M. Bankston. However, no record of him or Lila applying for Confederate pensions has been found. 

In 1870 census they were living in Henry County, Georgia with $1,600 in real estate and $350 in personal property. According to his obituary [he’s buried in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia] he fought in the Civil War and afterward became a schoolteacher in

Henry County. When he died in 1910 he was survived by his wife, three sons, four daughters and

19 grandchildren. In the 1900 census, Lila claimed to be the mother of nine children with eight living. She lived until 18 May 1926. She also is buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta. Their children, born from about 1860 to 1880, have not been traced further.

 Sherman’s March to the Sea

Jacob Bankston lived until June of 1881 and his wife, Catherine, survived him, dying five years later, in 1886. Although they lived only about 37 miles from Atlanta in Locust Grove, apparently the nearest they were to any military battles during the war was when General William T. Sherman began his “March to the Sea.” One of his Union corps was supposed to take the road to Jonesboro and from there proceed to McDonough, Jackson, Clinton and another was to march from White Hall to Stockbridge, McDonough, Jackson, Monticello and Gordon. They were to reunite in a week with other corps at Gordon (south of Milledgeville). There was a brief engagement between the Union forces and the “Kentucky Orphan Brigade at the Battle of Stockbridge9 in mid-November of 1864. 

One wonders if any of this Bankston family saw the smoke from the fires when Atlanta was burned; or suffered any loss of property. No claims were made to the Southern Claims Commission10, but it restricted claims to those who claimed they were loyal to the Union and had quartermaster stores of supplies taken by and furnished to the Union Army.

Regardless, in their immediate family, Jacob and Catherine lost a son and a son-in-law, and another son lost an eye and suffered mental problems after the war, and another son-in-law returned home a physically broken man, scarcely able to take care of his family. Their eldest son who came home from the war in 1864 suffered physically and was unable to do much work on his farm; he died in 1877. Only their youngest daughter, Lila, and her husband, William J. Smith appeared to have survived and prospered after the war. 

Sifting through the ashes of this one family’s history brings the names and places to life and greatly enhances what little genealogical information we had about them. Additionally, it uncovered yet another Bankston.


1 1860 Henry, Georgia; Roll: M653_127; Page: 913; Image: 251; Family History Library Film: 803127. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch .Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

2   See: The Biffle Cabin. at DeKalb County, Georgia History Center:

3   See: Founding Forefathers: Anders Bengtsson (Bankson/Bankston) and Peter Gunnarsson Rambo at:

5   Ancesrty.com. Georgia, Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line].

Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

6   German naming patterns: http://www.kerchner.com/germname.html

7   Ancestry.com. Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 [database on-line]. Provo,

UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office, RG 58-1-1, Georgia Archives.

8   Ancestry.com. Georgia, Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:

Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp., Georgia Marriages, 1851-1900.  G. I. [sic] Walden to G. M. Bankston, 18 August 1868. Her name is also recorded as Mary G., so the G. M. is probably a transposition.

10 Mills, Gary. Civil War Claims in the South: An Index of Civil War Damage Claims filed before Southern Claims Commission, 1870-1880. (Laguna Hills, Calif. Aegean Park Press, 1980).