Friday, December 27, 2013

The Mitchell Line - 2013 in Review

Dancing with the Ancestors isn't always the easiest thing, especially with those brick walls appearing out of nowhere and making those intricate dance steps a wee bit more difficult. Still, sometimes, a nice sidestep and maybe a leap or twelve, and you step around or hurtle over the brick wall.

2013 was the year of the Mitchell line! Okay, it started at the end of 2012, but the major finds happened in 2013. So, I'm going to mention 2012, then flash forward to 2013. It happened something like this . . .

  • October 2012 - visited my first cousin Jean in CA and learned that great grandpa Charles A. Mitchell was not an only child as my father repeatedly told me, my siblings, and my mother. Nope, don't have a clue where he got this information, but . . . Great Grandpa Charlie was one of 11 children.
  • May 23, 2013 - received the following comment on this blog: I am a descendant of William C. Mitchell by his daughter Martha Matilda (Mattie) Mitchell Bunch. William C. Mitchell left Tennessee briefly in 1860 to live in Alabama and then returned to Warren County, Tennessee. Sometime between 1880 and 1883, he came to Texas to Blanco County... where Mattie Mitchell Bunch and her sister Amanda Josephine Mitchell Offill were married. William also remarried at that time to a Mrs. O. Hopper. Just two weeks ago I was in Blanco County to look up probate records for William C. Mitchell and Mrs. O Mitchell. Both were deemed in early 1900's to be unable to support themselves. Sadly William C. Mitchell at age of 90 was declared a lunatic and sent to Austin, Texas to the insane asylum. Mattie and her sister are in Grayson County, Texas married with children in 1900 and then on to Navarro County, Texas. William C. Mitchell did have a son named Charles A. Mitchell and somewhere I do have a picture of him upon which is written Mattie's brother, Charles A. Mitchell. I can also confirm his marriage to Martha Tate.
  • May 31, 2013 - found the comment, posted it, replied, and . . .
  • June 2013 - heard from third cousin Debbie, the person who left the comment, and . . .
I was off and running on researching the Mitchell line with this new found information. Soon, thanks to Debbie, I had the 1860 Census for 2 x Great Grandpa William C. Mitchell, as well as additional information.
  • June 2013 - connected with third cousin Jan, descendant of Amanda Josephine Mitchell-Offill, my great grandfather's sister.
  • July 2013 - connected with third cousin-in-law Diana. She's married to third cousin James, descendant of Mary Frances Mitchell-Cunningham, my great grandfather's sister
  • July 2013 - connected with a researcher on the Grove line who helped fill in the blanks on Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis, and solve the mystery of the parentage of Leo C. Groves and Martha C. Groves.
My Great Grandpa Charles A. Mitchell was the administer of Leo Groves estate. Great! Fine! Dandy! I just didn't have a clue who in the heck Leo Groves was until I came across the 1900 Census for William F. Mitchell (Charles's brother) in Texas and there were Leo and Martha listed as his niece and nephew. His sister Nancy Hillis was living with him at that time as well. Still, didn't have a clue if Nancy was there mother, or one of the other sisters.

So, off to the State Archives in Nashville, TN, searching, and searching and searching through roll after roll of microfilm and come across more information about Leo and Martha, specifically that at one time a W. L. Groves was their guardian. Then, did some quick searches on Ancestry, contacted a member or two and received a response that filled in the blanks on Nancy - gave me various marriage dates, names of husbands, and the fact that . . .

Leo and Martha Groves were the children of Lydia Knighton (Nancy's daughter) and William Groves. So, Great Grandpa Charlie was the administrator of his great-nephew's estate, not his nephew's estate.
  • July - October 2013 - continued to research the siblings of my great-grandfather, and search for more information on 2 x Great Grandpa William C. Mitchell
  • Labor Day Weekend 2013 - discover that sister Barb knew what the A stood for in Charles A. Mitchell . . . Alexander. It seemed, back when her son was in third/fourth grade, he had to do a family tree and my sister talked to my parents to fill in the blanks and dad told her that his grandfather's name was Charles Alexander Mitchell
  • October 2013 - at the State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee on another round of dancing with the ancestors and come across the following notation - Dock Mitchell uncle of Charles A. Mitchell of here is visiting for the first time in 43 years/lives in Eagle Springs, Texas o - in the following book: Warren County, Tennessee: Genealogical Notes from the McMinnville Newspapers, 1880 - 1914.
Goosebumps, dear readers, goosebumps popped up all over my body as I read this notice . . . again and again and again. Finally! I knew, no doubts at all that Dock Mitchell was my 2 x Great Grandfather's brother. No doubts! It took only a bit of searching on Ancestry to discover that Dock Mitchell was the son of Allen Mitchell and Sarah Wilson, and that Allen Mitchell was my 3 x Great Grandmother.

Unfortunately, Sarah was Allen's second or third wife, and step-mother to my 2 x Great Grandfather William C. Mitchell. Still, I know knew that 2 x Great Grandpa had seven half-siblings, and, through further research - Census Records, etc., - know that he had two sisters and four brothers, most likely full, but potentially half . . . whose names remain a mystery right now.

So, all in all, it was a banner year for research on the Mitchell line. My poor nephew is not the only male Mitchell left to carry on the family name. It relieves a bit of pressure, but there's still the pressure for him to produce a few male children to carry on the direct line of our branch of the family tree.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Family History Book

Dancing with the ancestors is NOT all about the research. Okay, it's 95% about the research, but . . .

. . . when all the researching is done, there's . . .

. . . the Family History Book!

But, why wait until all the research is done? Why not start . . .

. . . NOW!

Well, that's what I've done. I've begun to compile the Mitchell and Allied Families family history book.

Why? Well, I've done quite a bit of research and confirmed quite a bit of information, so why not NOW instead of LATER? NOW makes much more sense. I could wait of course . . . years and years, maybe decades, fine tuning my research, discovering more and more and more, but . . .

. . . it makes more sense to take what I have already confirmed and start putting it into a family history document. Yes, I'll make additions throughout the years as I continue dancing with the ancestors, but by doing it NOW, I'll also have a record of what I have confirmed, as well as a document my family can flip through as they have time and discover our shared past. 

So, don't put off writing that family history document. Do it NOW, as you research. Don't wait until tomorrow, when you can do it today. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Importance of Last Wills and Testaments

When dancing with the ancestors, don't discard the importance of the last wills and testaments of . . . your direct ancestors siblings. 

Last Wills and Testaments, when you can find them, are treasure troves of information. In many cases, they'll list the spouse/children of your ancestors which will help confirm whatever information you already have, or add information that you didn't have about spouses/children of your direct ancestors.

The last wills and testaments of the siblings of your direct ancestors can do the same thing. Case in point: Mary Eliza Masterson, my 2 x great grandmother Julia Amanda Masterson-Watson's sister. In her will, Mary Eliza listed the following siblings: Helen, Washington, Robert, Hilary, Green, Meridy (short for Meredith), James, Ann Thomas, Lucinda Smith, Julia Watson, and Elizabeth Hicks. These names all jived with what I had, but . . .

. . . it gave me some other important information which helped me correct my family tree.

Based on information I had previously found, but not 100% confirmed, I thought James, Lucinda, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were deceased prior to 1890. Well, if they were dead, I sure as heck don't know why Mary Eliza Masterson was leaving her dead siblings money in her last will and testament when she wrote it in . . . December 1890.

So, thanks to her will, I know knew that Lucinda, James, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were still alive in December 1890 and not, unless they came back as zombies (hey, you just never know), when their sister wrote her will. I also found out the married names - which I had, for the most part - of the sisters.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't forget to attempt to find the last wills and testaments of your direct ancestors siblings. You never know what important information you'll discover.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not The Last . . .

. . . of the Mitchell line!

When dancing with the ancestors it's easy to believe the family stories, such as . . .

. . . two of your great aunts were murdered in New Orleans

. . . your great grandfather was an only child

. . . or many other stories that are passed down through the generations and become fact when, in reality, their either total fiction, or part fact/fiction.

I did have a great aunt that was murdered in . . . Louisiana. Her sister died of natural causes eight years later. No murdered involved.

My Great Grandpa Charles A. Mitchell was one of eleven child so, in fact, he was not an only child, even though that's the story dad told us. 

There's a sense of comfort in knowing that my nephew is not the last of the Mitchell line and that the pressure for him to have three or four sons to carry on the Mitchell name is not so great. Ha! Still, to carry on our direct line, a son or two would be nice. But . . .

. . . there are other male Mitchells out there that can continue the line traced back to my three times Great Grandfather Allen Mitchell.

By his first marriage, he has one known son: William C. Mitchell (my 2 x Great Grandfather). According to Census Records, he had at least three other sons by his first, maybe a second wife, prior to marrying his second, or maybe third wife Sarah Wilson, by which he had seven children, five of them males. So, the line, through those children, and their children, and their children, and so on . . . continues.

The line might also continue through four of the five sons of William C. Mitchell - James, Henry, John, and William - since we know it continues through Great Grandpa Charlie, with added pressure on my nephew to produce Mitchell heirs. I haven't been able to trace James, Henry, or John. From what I've found on William, I don't think he had any children, but I could be wrong on that theory. 

There is the possibility, based on a photograph I have, that James, Henry, or John had at least one son who had two children: a girl and a boy. At this time, the people in the photograph are not identified, but the man is definitely a Mitchell. Hopefully, someone will identify the people in the photo and I can trace back further.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, take those family stories with a grain of salt. They may or may not be true and they may or may not have taken on a life of their own that altered the fact into fiction. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luck & Perseverance

When dancing with the ancestors, luck and perseverance play a big part.

This past weekend, while dancing with the ancestors at the State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee, I was going through a book about the McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee newspapers that listed obituaries and other notices. I came across the following notice: Dock Mitchell uncle of Charles A. Mitchell of here is visiting for the first time in 43 years/lives in Eagle Springs, Texas.

First - tracking the Mitchell line has been a wee bit difficult since little was known about the Mitchell line. My Great Grandfather Charles A. Mitchell's death certificate only listed his parents surnames. No first names. No middle names. Just the surnames Mitchell and Forrest.

Great! Fine! Dandy!

Well, at the State Archives one Saturday looking through the book The Heritage of Warren County and, in a section about the Forrest family, I came across the following mention: Martha Forrest married William Mitchell!


I now had a bit more to go on, but . . . just had to prove I had the right Forrest family. It turns out I did. This was confirmed through DNA and getting in contact with other members of the Mitchell Clan . . . who I didn't know existed at the time, more on that later, and wouldn't have known existed if not for this blog and a comment a distant cousin left. Again, luck and perseverance.

If I hadn't known the last name Forrest, I wouldn't have turned to that section in the book, and found the reference to who Martha, daughter of Richard Albert Forrest, married. On the same day I found the reference to Dock Mitchell, I also found my 2 x Great Grandmother Martha Forrest-Mitchell's obituary that mentioned she was the daughter of Rev. Richard Forrest!

Can I have an Amen, Sistah? 

But, back to the reference about Dock Mitchell. As I mentioned, tracing this line hasn't been the easiest task in the Universe. The death certificate was not much help, other than providing 2 x Great Grandma's surname, which was a help. Then, there was the reference in the book that gave me her, and her husband's, first name. But, I was still operating under the assumption that Great Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was an only child. It's what my dad told me. I believed him. Why wouldn't I? Well, last October, when I mentioned that to my cousin in CA, she informed me that Charles had a brother that moved to Texas.

Well, now everything I was finding made sense. Every Census Record I discovered indicated that Charles was not an only child. Come to find out, he was one of 11 children. So much for that only child theory. I still have no clue where dad came up with that one.

So, back to good old Uncle Dock Mitchell. Since I didn't know anything about William, other than he had parents out there somewhere, and possibly siblings, this was the first major clue I had about his family, and maybe tracing back another generation.

Once home from the Archives, I get on Ancestry and with just basic - Dock Mitchell and Eagle Springs, TX - information, I . . . 

. . . discovered that Doctor James Mitchell was the son of Allen Mitchell and his second, if not third, wife Sarah Wilson, and that he was one of seven children.

I now had my 2 x Great Grandfather William C. Mitchell's father name, and the names of his half-siblings!

Woo-hoo, Amen, Sistah, and all that jazz.

This find was as much about perseverance, as it was about luck. So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't discount luck, and don't discount books regarding newspaper clippings. If not for that book, I wouldn't have been able to trace back to 3 x Great Grandpa Allen Mitchell.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Francis Ida Smith-Bridwell

Francis Ida Smith
June 16, 1876 - February 17, 1947

Francis Ida Smith was one of twelve children of John Leonard Smith (August 16, 1849 - January 14, 1917). She was the fourth child by his first marriage to Irena Gribble (About 1849 - September 9, 1880). Of all the children of John and Irena, and John and his second wife Martha Lane, only the girls, most of them, survived into adulthood. All the boys died young, as did one daughter. 

Francis Ida was born in McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee on June 16, 1876. Her full siblings were Lucy, John B. (died young), Mary (aka Mollie), Euphemia, and Herman (died young). Her half siblings, by her father's marriage to Martha Lane after the death of his first wife, were: Olive, Octavia, Eunice Irene (died young), Loveless (died young), Osie (my grandmother), and Clara (I guess they ran out of O names).

Sometime in the 1890s, John Leonard and Martha, along with their children/step-children, moved to Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee where Ida met John Wesley Bridwell. They married on December 7, 1898 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. They had one son, Leonard Herman Bridwell, who was born October 24, 1899 in Nashville, Ward 2, Davidson County, Tennessee. He died November 29, 1976.

In 1900, Ida and her son were listed on the Census Record with her father, step-mother, and half siblings Olive, Octa, Osie, and Clara. Her husband is not listed on the Census Record. In 1910, she and Leonard Herman are living by themselves. Again, no husband.  In 1930, Ida is living with her son Leonard Herman, his wife Ruth, and their children Ruth and Leonard. 

Francis Ida Smith-Bridwell, a widow by this time, died on February 17, 1947 at the home of her sister Molly Smith-Clark in Forest, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

But, her story doesn't end there with a peaceful death in her sleep. This is dancing with the ancestors after all, which is often a quite complicated dance with dips and spins and, sometimes, a fall or two.

Francis Ida's life doesn't end with a graceful pirouette and bow, but rather a stunning fall brought about by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On February 17, 1947 - about 5:15 or so in the evening, at Mollie's farm, an intruder broke into the home of Mollie Smith-Clark. She was alone. Her sister Francis Ida Smith-Bridwell had come for a vist from Yeadon, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, for a visit. At approximately 5:20 PM, the intruder struck Francis Ida in the head with a heavy piece of timber and fractured her skull. She died ten minutes later at 5:30 PM.   

Thus, at almost 71 years of age, the life of Francis Ida Smith-Bridwell ended because she happened to go visit her sister Mollie. She was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The family story about Aunt Ida's death was a little bit different, and varied on the telling. The story I remember is my aunt telling me that two, if not three, of the half-sisters lived together in Louisiana. I swear she told me New Orleans, but . . . and that one night someone broke into their house and attacked them, killing one of the sisters. A few years later, the other sister, still living in Louisiana was murdered as well.

Aunt Mollie died eight years later of a heart attack.

The different version I had heard from a cousin was similar except . . . the sisters ran a boarding house in Louisiana. An intruder broke in one evening, attacked them, and killed Aunt Ida. Aunt Mollie survived, crawled out of the house and under the front porch where she . . . lived, and lived, and lived, and lived. 

The actual order of events is how I imagined them happening based on information found on the death certificate which provided the following information: time of death, how it happened, how long Ida had been in Louisiana, and her normal place of residence. So, from that, I learned she was just visiting Mollie, and she still lived in Pennsylvania. I also figured out - could be right, could be wrong - that Mollie might or might not have been as severely injured as the one version of the story claims since . . .

. . . on February 18, 1947 she was the informant for the death certificate and signed the appropriate section. I don't think, if she was severely injured, she would have been able to provide so much information or sign the death certificate. I think, as time went by, the story gained some fiction. 

But, here and now, the best version of the truth is set down in writing, on this blog, to remember Aunt Ida!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis . . .

. . . was my great-great aunt, sister to my great-grandfather Charles A. Mitchell. She was the daughter of William C. and Martha (Forrest) Mitchell, and was born on May 15, 1839 in Warren County, Tennessee. In all likelihood, her middle name came from that of Martha's sister Rachael Caroline Forrest, since it appears the majority of the children of William and Martha bear a name born by her siblings.
Nancy was one of eleven children: Nancy Caroline, James, Henry, Sarah Ann, John, Jane, Mary Frances, William F., Charles A. (Great Grandpa Charlie), Martha Matilda, and Amanda Josephine.
The Mitchell family liked to move . . . here, there, and everywhere: TN, AL, TX, SD, and MI to name a few of the places they lived, or would live at some point in their lives, and where their descendants live today.
In 1840, William C., Martha, and Nancy Caroline were still in Warren County, Tennessee and living next door to Martha's father Richard Albert Forrest and his second wife Lucy Wilcher-England-Forrest. By 1852, when Nancy Caroline's sister Mary Frances Mitchell was born, the family was living in Georgia.
Nancy Caroline Mitchell married Joseph Knighton on February 20, 1859 in Calhoun County, Alabama. Her family was also living in Calhoun County, Alabama at that time.
Sometime in 1861, Nancy Caroline gave birth to her daughter Lydia. Her husband enlisted in the army in 1861. He died sometime during the Civil War.
In 1870, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton and her daughter Lydia Knighton are recorded on not one, but two census records for Warren County, Tennessee. On the first record, the census taker arrived at the house of John and Lydia (Forrest) Epperson and took note of all the residents, two of which were Nancy and her daughter Lydia. Lydia Forrest-Epperson was Nancy's first cousin, the daughter of her uncle and aunt Charles Matlock and Annie (Kell) Forrest. It is most likely that Nancy named her daughter after her first cousin Lydia.
Flash forward a few weeks to August 1870 and Nancy, under her maiden name is listed as living with her parents William and Marthie, and her siblings: Sarah Ann, Jane, Mary Frances, William F., Charles A., Martha Matilda, and Amanda Josephine. Her daughter Lydia Knighton, age 9, is also in residence.
Now, talk about confusing. In July the census taker used Nancy's married name, but in August, when she was back with her parents, she used her maiden name. They sure didn't make it easy on descendants dancing with the ancestors and attempting to track dead relatives.
By 1880, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton had married William Cawlder (or Caulder, or Calder, or however the name might vary depending on who was writing it down at the time). She, her husband, and her daughter were still living in Warren County, Tennessee. William Cawlder was twenty-five years older than Nancy and was, in fact, older than her father. William died sometime before 1890, because . . .
. . . on February 23, 1890 (she must have liked marrying in February), she married Roswell Hillis, who also happened to be older than her father. This was Roswell's second marriage. He died on August 21, 1898 in Van Buren County, Tennessee.
Nancy's daughter Lydia Knighton married William E. Groves, son of Clayborn and Martha (Douglas) Groves on November 25, 1880 in Warren County, Tennessee. They had two children: Leo C. Groves and Martha C. Groves. Leo was born April 4, 1882 and Martha on September 20, 1886.
By 1900, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis' daughter Lydia, and her husband William Groves, were deceased. Nancy and her grandchildren Leo and Martha Groves are listed on the 1900 Grayson County, Texas Census Record with her brother William F. and his wife Sarah.
On May 21, 1901, Nancy's grandson Leo C. Groves died. On august 6, 1904, her granddaughter Martha C. Groves died.
In 1910, Nancy is living with her sister and brother-in-law Mary Frances (Mitchell) and James A. Cunningham, and their family in Warren County, Tennessee.
On April 11, 1915, Nancy Caroline Mitchell-Knighton-Caulder-Hillis died in Van Buren County, Tennessee. Her step-son John Hillis provided the information for her death certificate.
With Nancy's passing, her direct line on the Mitchell family tree ended since her daughter and grandchildren had predeceased her . . . which is where I come into play, or rather this blog post comes into play.
Nancy Caroline Mitchell lived a life, through trying times, and did what she had to - living through the Civil War, losing her first husband, marrying men as old as her father, depending on family members - to survive and provide for herself and child. If not for my research, and the help of other researchers, her story might well have remained untold. This is a woman who, losing three husbands, a daughter, and two grandchildren, like all people, deserved to be remembered, to have her story, sketchy as it might seem, be told so, that perhaps current generations of the Mitchell and various lines - Cunningham, Bunch, Offil, Gilley, and so forth - might one day say to their kids . . .
Did you know about our many times Great Aunt Nancy Caroline? Well, let me tell you about her. She was born . . .
Well, now they can know about her, the life she lead, and the joys and sorrows she faced in a life before electricity, before cars and telephones, before so much else that we take for granted today, on July 23, 2013.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leo C. and Martha C. Grove(s) - Siblings

The mysteries never seem to end when dancing with the ancestors. You solve one mystery and BAM - Emeril style - another mystery pops up and smacks you in the forehead. Okay, not literally, but sometimes it feels that way.
A mystery solved over a period of time was that my great grandfather Charles A. Mitchell was not, I repeat NOT, an only child. I don't have a clue where my father heard this little false tidbit of information, but he did, and he passed it down to his children . . . which made this little dance with the ancestors quite a bit difficult.
Suffice it to say, Great Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was not an only child, but was one of eight children. I've tracked five of his siblings and their descendants. In doing this, the next mystery came along and smacked me upside the head: Leo C. and Martha C. Grove.
In 1900, in Grayson County, Texas, they were listed on the 1900 Census as niece and nephew of William F. Mitchell, my great-grandfather's brother. Now, I wasn't positive if they were his by blood or marriage niece and nephew, until . . .
. . . in probate records for Warren County, Tennessee, I found the following notation:
January 1902 - settlement made with Charles A. Mitchell, administrator of Leo Groves, dec'd. Receipt of George B. Bryan, guardian of Martha Grove, only heir of deceased.
This notation, written down probably a year before I knew for sure my Great Grandfather actually had siblings, proved - to me at least - that Leo and Martha Grove were the blood nephew/niece of William F. Mitchell, and, by default, Great Grandpappy Charlie Mitchell. Woo-hoo!
Then, came digging through eye-straining microfilm records at the State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. I was searching for the various guardian records and . . .
. . . I found them, and oh, so much more. It appears that W. L. Grove was the second guardian, first was a court appointed guardian, of Leo and Martha. In January 1900, he resigned as guardian and George B. Bryan became the guardian of Leo and Martha. I also found quite a few records of court cases between W. L. Grove vs. Louisa (Grove) Crain versus the settlement of Clab (Clayborn) Grove's estate, in which mention of the guardianship of Leo and Martha was mentioned.
So, now I knew - pretty much - the Grove family from which Leo and Martha were descended.
My error: I kept assuming that W. L. Grove was William Grove. It wasn't until I started researching his siblings that I discovered W. L. Grove was actually the youngest child of Clayborn (Claiborne) and Martha (Douglas) Grove: Wyatt Lane Grove.
I was trying to figure out the father of Leo and Martha. I knew it couldn't be Wyatt because he was far too young to have been married and father children in 1884 and 1886.
Once I had my little a-ha moment, I realized, most likely, that William Grove was the father of Leo and Martha, and that he, and most likely his wife, had predeceased his father Clayborn.
My best guess, right now, is that William married Elizabeth Mitchell, since I've tracked the majority of my great grandfather's other sisters and know who they married. Elizabeth . . . not so much.
Oh, and in looking at Census Records, Wyatt probably resigned guardianship since in 1900 he had three young children. He probably did not want to raise older children as well.
Leo C. (most likely Clayborn) Grove: April 4, 1882 - May 12, 1901 - buried Shellsford Cemetery, McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee.
Martha C. (possible Caroline) Grove: September 20, 1886 - August 6, 1904 - buried Shellsford Cemetery, McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee.
Now, my hope with this blog post is that someone researching the Grove family knows a bit more than I do and can provide that information. If so, please leave a comment with an email address so I can get back in touch with you.
Good luck to all as you dance with the ancestors.

UPDATE: Through contact with a fellow researcher, I know now that Leo C. Groves and Martha C. Groves are the children of William E. Grove(s) and Lydia Knighton-Grove(s). Lydia is the daughter of Nancy Caroline Mitchell and her first husbad L. R. F. Knighton. So, Leo and Martha are actually William F. Mitchell's great-nephew/niece and the grandchildren of Nancy (Mitchell-Knighton-Cawlder)-Hillis, who is also on the 1900 Census Record. Woo-Hoo!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Every Tidbit of Information is Important

As I've mentioned before, and will many times again, dancing with the ancestors is an intricate dance, and many times, not an easy dance. 

With that being said . . .

. . . you just never know where your next clue will come in the hunt for ancestors, because every tidbit of information is important.

I recently was able to verify my great-grandfather Charles A. Mitchell's family - parents, siblings, and whatnot. Since then, the floodgates have opened. I've connected with two cousins, one descended from his sister Mattie (Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch) and one from his sister Josie (Amanda Josephine Mitchell-Offill). I've also traced his brother William F. Mitchell. 

On the 1900 Census for Grayson County, TX we have William, his wife Sarah, his nephew Leo C. Groves, his niece Martha C. Groves, and his sister Nancy Hillis! Now, there was a big WOO-HOO when I found this because . . . it meant I had finally found his sister Nancy C. Mitchell who, at some point, married a Hillis! This name will come into play in just a bit. I also knew he had a nephew and niece with the last name Groves, but . . .

. . . I didn't know if they were a nephew and niece by blood or by marriage until . . .

. . . I was digging through my Mitchell file, putting in emails from the new cousins, when I found the following information copied out of a book at the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville, Tennessee:

Charles A. Mitchell, administrator of the estate of Leo C. Groves, dec'd. Receipt of payment to George B. Bryan, guardian of Martha C. Groves. p. 408

Okay, the only reason I copied this down was because the notation mentioned Great Grandpa Charlie. Who knew it would play an important role later on in . . .

. . . confirming that Leo and Martha Groves were my great grandfather's nephew and niece. WOO HOO! I still don't know if they were Nancy's children, or the children of another sister. I'm still working that angle.

Then, flash forward to the 1910 Warren County Census and Nancy Hillis is recorded in the same household as her sister and brother-in-law: Mary and James Cunningham. In one fell swoop, I just located another sister.

From these two census records I gleaned some important information. 

Now, I also had two names in my head - Hillis and Groves. These names are obviously important in my family, I mean, Great-Great Aunt Nancy married a Hillis, and she, or one of her sisters also married a Groves. Well, I was perusing through some pages I scanned out of The Heritage of Warren County that I found at the State Archives, regarding the Forrest (Charles and siblings mother was a Forrest) and came across the following on the last page:

Sources: Family Bible, Big Spring Baptist Church minutes, Claiborne Co., TN. A. C. Hillis, Jr. and Leona Hillis, McMinnville Tn; J. G. Grove in "This is my Story".

Have you figured out the important thing yet? Well, let me point it out to you . . . Hillis and Grove! Yes, I know, the last name of the niece and nephew was Groves, but census takers were well known to take liberties as they were writing down names. Trust me on that one, if you haven't learned it firsthand. 

The book This is My Story is actually located at the Tennessee State Archives, and will be perused by yours truly this weekend. 

My best guess is that both the Hillis' and Mr. Grove contributed to this section on the Forrest because . . . 

. . . they were related. In fact, my great-great grandmother Martha Forrest-Mitchell's niece, by her brother Charles Matlock Mitchell, married Joseph R. Grove. It is my guess that one of Martha's daughters, possibly Nancy before her marriage to the unknown first name Hillis, married a relative - sibling, child, nephew - of Joseph R. Grove. 

So, as you can see, every tidbit of information is important when dancing with the ancestors. Do not disregard what you think is not important because, one day, it may become highly important. Had I not written down the information out of the probate book, I probably would still be wondering if Leo C. and Martha C. Groves were blood relations to my great great Uncle William F. Mitchell, or just relations through his wife.

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Mitchell Line

Dancing with the Ancestors is a fascinating experience of highs and lows, brick walls, and paths that seem to stretch out before me without end. Such has been my experience when researching my Mitchell Line!
For the longest time, brick walls were all I seemed to encounter when searching for information on my Mitchell Line past my Great Grandfather Charles A. Mitchell.
I had hoped to find his death certificate and discover the names of his parents. Hope is a funny thing. I did find his death certificate but . . .
. . . only the surnames of his parents - Mitchell and Forrest - were listed. No! First! Names!
Great! Fine! Dandy! So much for that angle.
Did I give up? Of course not! I kept searching and searching and searching and searching and . . .
. . . then I came across a section in a book about Warren County, TN that mentioned the Forrest family. I read through the section and found the following notation: Martha Forrest married William Mitchell!
Well, my excitement was short lived, because all that information did was cause a bunch more confusion as I searched Census Records and found . . .
The 1870 and 1880 Warren County, TN Census Records for a William Mitchell with a wife named Martha. Good! In fact, on the 1870 Census Record they had a son named Charles! Great! On the 1880 record, just initials, but for Charles were the initials C. A.! Ooooooohhhh, hot potato!! But . . .
. . . Charles had siblings and my father always told me that his Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was an only child!
Still, I copied the records because something told me that this definitely was his family. I came up with all kinds of scenarios in my mind why my Great Grandfather would tell people he was an only child, even though he obviously had siblings. I finally decided on the theory that he married outside the family religion and his family shunned him! I know, great concept.
Flash forward perhaps a year later and I'm in CA visiting my cousin, going through a trunk of family pictures and we came across a picture of Great Grandpa Charlie sitting next to a man who is obviously his brother. I say to my cousin "Dad said Grandpa Charlie was an only child". My cousin laughs, looks at me and says "No, he wasn't, he had siblings, and at least one of them went to Texas".
So, now those 1870 and 1880 Census Records begin to have more meaning. Still, don't know for 100% positive.
Flash forward to a few months later, after I've submitted by DNA to Ancestry and I have a match with someone who is a fourth cousin. The only connection: Richard Albert Forrest, father of Martha Forrest who married William Mitchell. Woo-hoo! I have confirmation on the Forrest Line.
Flash forward to Thursday, May 30, 2013 and doing a search on FamilySearch, I come across a death certificate for William F. Mitchell, son of William Mitchell and Martha Forrest!
WOO-HOO! I've found my great grandfather's brother.
Move forward one day to Friday, May 31, 2013 and I go out to Blogger and find I have a comment on my post The Mitchell Line . . .
. . . that confirms Charles A. Mitchel, my great grandfather, is the son of William C. Mitchell.
. . . that confirms he had two sisters Martha Matilda and Amanda Josephine, names that match up to the 1870 and 1880 Warren County, TN Census Records I had found.
. . . that confirms he married Martha Tate, which I already knew because, well, she's my great grandmother!
The comment also told me the trail from TN to TX and the counties my great-grandfathers siblings lived in, one of which was Grayson County, TX. I have since found the Census Record for William F. Mitchell . . . living in Grayson County, TX at the same time as his sisters Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch and Amanda Josephine Mitchell-Offill!
So, now, I can provide a bit more information about my Mitchell line . . .
William C. Mitchell married Martha Forrest, daughter of Richard Albert Forrest and Sarah Matlock, sometime in the late 1830s. They had the following children . . .
  • Nancy Mitchell - born about 1840, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Samuel Mitchell - born about 1843, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Elizabeth Mitchell - born about 1846, most likely in Warren County, TN
  • Mary Jane Mitchell - born about 1852, most likely in Alabama
  • William F. Mitchell - born July 5, 1855 in Alabama
  • Charles A. Mitchell - born October 4, 1858 in DeKalb County, Alabama
  • Martha Matilda Mitchell - born December 27, 1863 in Alabama
  • Amanda Josephine - born January 1865 in Alabama
From what I found out about William C. Mitchell from a descendant through his daughter Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch, the family briefly moved to Alabama and then, as confirmed by the 1870 and 1880 Census Records, returned to Warren, County, TN. Sometime between 1880 and 1883, William C., his daughters Mattie (Matilda) and Josephine, and most likely his son William F., migrated to Blanco County, Texas. My personal guess is it was in 1880, not long after the Census was taken in June since Charles A. was living at home when the Census was taken, but had moved into the Tate Boarding House a bit later that year, most likely because his family had moved to Texas.
Both Martha Matilda and Amanda Josephine met and married their husbands, Erasamus Berry Bunch and John Oliver Offil respectively, in Blanco County. Martha Forrest-Mitchell died prior to 1893, since William C. Mitchell married Mrs. O. Hopper in Blanco County, Texas in 1893. William F. married Sallie (surname unknown) at some point, a woman twenty-five years his junior!
Charles A. Mitchell married Martha Tate, daughter of James Douglas and Mary Jane (McGregor) Tate, the owners of the Tate Boarding House where he was living, on December 28, 1880 in McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee. He and Martha had the following children . . .
  • John Francis Mitchell - born November 3, 1884 in McMinnville, Warren County, Tennessee; died May 27, 1959, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.
  • Maud Thompson-Mitchell - born October 1, 1902 in Tennessee; died August 3, 1921 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Maud was Charles and Martha's adopted daughter, the child of a good friend whose wife died and he was unable to raise his daughter.
Martha's father James Douglas Tate died August 20, 1902. Her mother died October 3, 1911. Sometime soon after her mother's death, she and Charles sold the Tate House to the Brown family and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where they remained until they died.
Charles died on august 29, 1927 and Martha on January 7, 1948.
John Francis Mitchell married Osie Lee Smith, daughter of John Leonard Smith and Martha Ann Lane, on June 25, 1913 at the home of Dr. A. M. Trawick on Murphy Avenue in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. They had the following children . . .
  • Mary Frances Mitchell - born April 29, 1914 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee; died August 23, 1996 in Hendersonville, Sumner County, Tennessee
  • Vernon Smith Mitchell - born January 21, 1916 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee; died September 10, 2004 in Crossville, Cumberland County, Tennessee . . . just months after celebrating 50 years of marriage to his wife Mary Cecilia Sweat!
Of course, the Mitchell line doesn't end there. Mary Frances had two children with her husband John Shannon Long, and those children had children, as did their children. Vernon and Cecilia had four children and five grandchildren.
So, when dancing with the ancestors never give up, and switch up your search patterns, and start a blog to detail the various surnames in your family. If not for my blog, I wouldn't have the confirmation of what I suspected, which is now truth!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Charles A. Mitchell

Charles A. Mitchell is my great-grandfather. He was the son of William C. Mitchell and Martha Forrest, who was the daughter of Richard Albert Forrest and Sarah Matlock. Charles was born in DeKalb County, Alabama on October 4, 1858. He married Martha Ann Tate on December 28, 1880 in Warren County, Tennessee. They had one son, John Francis Mitchell. They adopted Maud Thompson after the death of her mother. Charles died August 29, 1927.

For whatever reason, Charles did not maintain contact with his siblings. From what I know for sure, he had a brother William F. Mitchell, and two sisters Martha Matilda Mitchell and Amanda Josephine Mitchell . . . more on them in a bit. If Census Records I've found are correct, he also had a brother named Samuel. 

The following comment was left on my post The Mitchell Line: 

I am a descendant of William C. Mitchell by his daughter Martha Matilda (Mattie) Mitchell Bunch. William C. Mitchell left Tennessee briefly in 1860 to live in Alabama and then returned to Warren County, Tennessee. Sometime between 1880 and 1883, he came to Texas to Blanco County... where Mattie Mitchell Bunch and her sister Amanda Josephine Mitchell Offill were married. William also remarried at that time to a Mrs. O. Hopper. Just two weeks ago I was in Blanco County to look up probate records for William C. Mitchell and Mrs. O Mitchell. Both were deemed in early 1900's to be unable to support themselves. Sadly William C. Mitchell at age of 90 was declared a lunatic and sent to Austin, Texas to the insane asylum. Mattie and her sister are in Grayson County, Texas married with children in 1900 and then on to Navarro County, Texas. William C. Mitchell did have a son named Charles A. Mitchell and somewhere I do have a picture of him upon which is written Mattie's brother, Charles A. Mitchell. I can also confirm his marriage to Martha Tate. 

If the person who made that comment could contact me at scott(dot)mitchell04(at)gmail(dot)com . . . I would absolutely love to get in touch with you about our family, and perhaps share pictures. Also, please see pictures below . . .

Charles A. Mitchell & Brother

Martha (Tate) & Charles A. Mitchell

Martha (Tate) & Charles A. Mitchell

It's been a banner week this week in actually verifying the siblings of my great-grandfather. When dancing with the ancestors, luck often pays the greatest part in finding more information. Okay, having a blog helps as well, because - as evidenced by the above comment - you just never know when a family member might stumble across your blog and leave the comment of a lifetime.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Martha Ann Lane

My paternal great grandmother was Martha Ann Lane, daughter of Hardin Smith Lane and Emmaline C. Halterman. She was born August 22, 1858 (the same year Minnesota, as the 32nd state, is admitted to the Union) in Warren County, Tennessee. She was the second of four children. Her father died in the Battle of Stones River on December 31, 1862 in Murfreesboro, TN during the Civil War. Her youngest brother - Hardin Smith Jr. - was born three months after the death of their father. Her mother Emmaline, unlike many woman of that time, did not remarry. In 1870, Emmaline and her children were living next door to her brother-in-law Richard Brooks Lane, his second wife Linda, and his children from his first marriage, and her mother-in-law Jane Campbell-Lane.

On the 1870 Census, Martha is living two doors down from . . . her future husband and his first wife! Yes, a wee bit odd, but that was life back in the day! And, little did he know it at the time, but John Leonard Smith was actually living next door to his future mother in law Jane Campbell-Lane.

At age 24, Martha Ann Lane married John Leonard Smith and became stepmother to his five children: Lucy, Mollie, Francis, Euphemia, and Herman. The children ranged in age from 2 to 12. Within a year, the youngest - Herman - would die.

Martha and John Leonard had six children - Olive Mae, Willie Octavia, Eunice Irene, Loveless L., Osie Lee (my grandmother), and Clara - two of which (Eunice and Loveless) would die before reaching the age of three. Of all her children, Octavia would live the longest, and outlive all her siblings. She died in 1984 at age 97.
Four Generations:
Mary Frances Mitchell (baby), Osie Lee Smith-Mitchell, Martha Ann Lane-Smith, Emmaline Halterman-Lane

In 1917, Martha's husband would die. In 1935, her oldest daughter. In 1945, Martha would pass from this life as well.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Elizabeth Hagan-Mattingly-Boone

Life isn't always easy when dancing with the ancestors. Those pesky brick walls just seem to build themselves up in a nanosecond. I mean, one minute, I'm searching along, discovery after discovery, and then in the next instant BAM - an Emeril moment at best - there's a brick wall blocking my path and towering high into the sky and, seemingly, deep into the ground.

Such is my dilemma with 4 x Great Grandma Elizabeth Hagan-Mattingly-Boone! 

Why? Oh, I'm so glad you asked that question. Okay, you probably didn't ask that question, but, it is an appropriate question.

The why of the situation is fairly simple: everything I've found out about her suggests that Benjamin Hagan, son of Thomas and Sarah (Mudd) Hagan is her father, and that Monica Blandford is her mother, but . . . other information suggests that a Randolph Hagan is her father.

Great! Fine! Dandy!

So, I had to take a step back from the situation and try and figure out Great-Great-Great-Great Grandma's parentage. It goes something like this . . .

Elizabeth Hagan - born about 1771 or between 1790 and 1800.
  • 1830 Census - lists her age between 50 - 59, which suggests a birth year between 1770 and 1780, which would correspond with the born about 1771 information that is predominant regarding her birth
  • 1840 Census - lists her age between 40 - 49, which suggests a birth year between 1790 and 1800. Okay, so, like many women before her, she lied about her age to the Census Taker! Okay, probably not, but, wrong birth dates on the Census Records are not uncommon. Still, this puts a different spin on her potential year of birth.
So, I had to look at things a bit differently. If Elizabeth was born in 1771 . . . 
  • she would have been 41 years old in 1812 when she married her first husband Joseph Mattingly
  • she would have been 43 years old in 1814 when she gave birth to her first child Joseph Mattingly II
  • she would have been 46 years old in 1817 when, after the death of her first husband, she married Walter Boone
  • she would have been 49 years old in 1820 when she gave birth to her second child, my 3 x great grandpa, William Henry Boone
Okay, I'm sorry, but giving birth at age 49 in the year 1820 was probably not going to happen and, even if it did, the chance of a) a healthy baby and b) the mother surviving the birth, were highly unlikely.

So, if looking at the 1840 Census Record, and giving her a birth year between 1790 and 1800 . . .
  • she would have been between 12 and 22 years old in 1812 when she married her first husband Joseph Mattingly. 
  • she would have been between 14 and 24 years old in 1814 when she gave birth to her first child Joseph Mattingly II
  • she would have been between 17 and 27 years old in 1817 when, after the death of her first husband, she married Walter Boone
  • she would have been between 20 - 30 years old in 1820 when she gave birth to her second child, my 3 x great grandpa, William Henry Boone
These age ranges make much more sense, especially if you consider she was born in 1795, which would make her ages . . .

  • 17 in 1812
  • 19 in 1814
  • 22 in 1817
  • 25 in 1820
These ages definitely make a lot more sense, than having her born in 1771 and popping out a second child, no complications or anything, in 1820.

Still, no proof one way or another, and her age doesn't answer the question of her parentage.

What does that leave me? Well, for now, looking at three potential parents: Benjamin and Monica (Blandford) Hagan, Benjaim (jr.) and Nancy Ann (Cissell) Hagan, and Randolph and Aliege (Hagan) Hagan

Benjamin and Monica (Blandford) Hagan
  • In 1771, would have been 50 and 47 respectively. It is doubtful Monica was having children at age 47 in the year 1771
  • In 1795, Benjamin and Monica would have been 74 and 71 respectively, so . . .
  • In 1810, in Nelson County, Kentucky, a document lists the heirs of Benjamin Hagan as: Nicholas, Edward, Wilfred, Elizabeth, Christopher, Rachel (Hagan) Beale, and Eleanor
  • In an indenture document from 1810, Nelson County, Kentucky, the same heirs are listed
  • A John C. Hagan (most likely John Christopher Hagan, son of Benjamin and Monica) signed the marriage bond between Elizabeth Hagan-Mattingly and Walter Boone. Since Benjamin and Monica were deceased by this time, and if they were Elizabeth's parents, it would fall on an older/younger brother to sign the marriage bond.
  • Determination: depending on 4 x great grandmama's actual date of birth, Benjamin and Monica (Blandford) Hagan might or might not be her parents. 
Benjamin II and Nancy Ann (Cissell) Hagan
  • They did not marry until 1804. If Elizabeth was their daughter, she would have been 7 at the oldest in 1812 when she married Joseph Mattingly.
  • Determination: Benjamin II and Nancy Ann (Cissell) Hagan cannot by 4 x great-grandmother Elizabeth Hagan's parents.
Randolph and Aliege (Hagan) Hagan
  • They were married in 1795. It is possible they could be Elizabeth's parents; however . . .
  • In Randolph's last will and testament, he names all of his children and . . . Elizabeth is not one of the listed children, nor are the married names of any of his daughters Boone
  • Determination: Randolph and Aliege (Hagan) Hagan cannot be 4 x great gran Elizabeth Hagan's parents
So, I'm back at that lovely brick well. 

The next step in the process is to figure out other potential Hagan parents - trust me, a lot to choose from, because the Hagan family took the biblical saying go forth, be fruitful and multiply quite seriously - for Elizabeth.

My next step was to look at the naming patterns. Trust me, this helps. Back in the day, the first born son was often named after the grandfather, and the second born after the son. So, I went to look at the naming of 4 x great grandpa Walter Boone's children by his first wife Mildred Edelen . . .

  • Mary - name of Walter's mother, so named after grandma
  • Charles - name of Walter's father, so named after grandpa
  • John - name of Walter's grandfather, so named after great-grandpa
  • Christopher - name of Mildred's father, so named after grandpa
  • Henrietta - Walter had a brother named Henry
  • Joseph - don't have a clue
As you can see, there is definitely a naming pattern here, so, at least to me, it made sense that perhaps there was a naming pattern with Walter and Elizabeth (Hagan-Mattingly) Boone's only child: William Henry Boone.

As I've already pointed out, Walter had a brother named Henry, but not one named William. Which . . .

. . . means my latest theory is that perhaps Elizabeth is the daughter of William Randolph Hagan. Now, I only have to figure out if a) there was a William Randolph Hagan, b) who his parents were and c) if he had a daughter Elizabeth. 

Oh, the joys of dancing with the ancestors and trying to solve the riddles left behind by, well, a bunch of dead people!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Labeling Pictures

As anyone knows, or should knows, writing on pictures in pen is a definite no-no because, after time, the ink begins to a) fade or even worse b) fade through the pictures. And, as anyone dancing with the ancestors should know, labeling pictures is highly important because . . .

. . . after you die, yes, it's going to happen one day, someone is going to go through your stuff, find all these photos and they may or may not know the ancestors in the photo.

So, I have a process, which goes something like this . . .

Catherine Delana Langdon-Sweat
Oct 15, 1837 - Oct 15, 1925
Daughter of Roswell Lee & Chloe (Richradson) Langdon
Wife of Alexander Sweat
Great-Great Grandmother

That, is the label which will go on the back of the photo so that, someday in the far distant future, after I'm gone, my niece or nephews who inherit the photos will know that the photo in question is that of their 3 x great grandmother. Woo-hoo!

Yes, I know, should have thought of this sooner. Do you have any idea how many photos I'm going to have to take out of frames to place labels on the back of the photos? Far too many, dear readers, far too many.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't write on your photos, but label the photos so future generations will know the who-who of your ancestry.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Paper, Paper Everywhere

When dancing with the ancestors it is not possible to not accumulate multitudes of paper. Trust me on this one. Before you know it, you'll have paper, paper everywhere.

The first step in this paper not overwhelming your life, or the closet in my office, as the case may be, is to get some file folders and a sharpie! Any color will do. 

Then, you print off that Census Record for your 3 x great grandfather. Get a file folder and . . .

. . . label it!

For example ~ Maternal: Sweat

Now, this can get out of hand if you have a folder for every ancestor. The further back you go, the greater the number of ancestors. For me, I create a surname folder only, stick everything for members of that surname in the folder, and label as indicated above. Next, on the inside of the folder, I include the descent from that surname down to me.

So, for example, my Boarman line. The folder label would be ~ Maternal: Boarman

On the inside of the folder I would write out the descent as follows . . .

Boarman - Halswell
Boarman - Linle
Boarman - Pile
Boarman - Edelen
Boarman - Boone
Boone - Hagan
Boone - Hagan 
Boone - Duvall
Boone - Watson
Boone - Sweat
Sweat - Mitchell

So, when next I pull out that folder, I can easily trace the descent.

The second step of file storage is digital. SCAN EVERYTHING! Or, just save the file rather than printing it off and save a tree or two!!

Once you have everything in a digital format, you need to save it in some semblance of order so as not to drive yourself - short drive with me sometimes - insane trying to find the document you know you saved, but just can't find.

First, I create a Folder called: Family Tree

Then, I create four folders within that main folder using my grandparents surnames: Mitchell, Smith, Sweat, and Boone.

Now that I have the main branches of my family tree, I then create folders within those folders. For example . . .

Mitchell: Forrest, Tate, McGregor, McGee, Clendennin, etc. 
Smith: Lane, Halterman, Sevier, Campbell, etc.
Sweat: Morris, Langdon, Hare, Page, Hussey, etc. 
Boone: Watson, Duvall, Hagan, Edelen, Blandford, Bevan, Boarman, etc.

Anytime I find a document, picture, or whatever related to a particular family, I save it to the appropriate folder.

First, this makes things much more organized and easy to find. Second, when doing a blog post about a particular surname, or deciding to work on a family history book, the source information is in two locations: the paper file and the digital file.

I also save the digital files to three locations: hard drive, flash drive, and external hard drive. Better safe than sorry!

Last, but not least, is naming the files. You don't want to just save a file as 1850 Census Record or a picture as Tombstone. I actually do the following: James D. Tate - 1850 Warren County Census or James D. Tate - Tombstone. This way, I can easily go to whatever file I need at the moment, without having to open up a bunch of files to find what I'm looking for in the first place. Yes, I wasn't so good at labeling in the beginning. I learned from my mistakes. Ha!

So, when dancing with the ancestors with paper, paper, everywhere, organization is important!!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Ancestral Mysteries

Dancing With the Ancestors is rarely a dull endeavor. A person never knows what they might find as they dance into the past. Yes, a few nuts fall out of every family tree. There's a skeleton or four lurking here, there, and everywhere. It's an adventure. 

There are stumbling blocks, i.e., brick walls you can't seem to get around, along the way. Luckily, the family tree has more than one branch, so when one branch abruptly ends, there's always another branch to explore. 

I've had my share of abruptly ending branches in my quite extensive family tree. Frustrating, doesn't even begin to cover it when that happens. Still, with so many branches to explore, I just leap here, there, and everywhere, and, eventually, came back to that abruptly ending branch.

There are also mysteries . . .
  • Why wasn't 2 x Great Grandmama Elizabeth Hall-Morris on the 1860 with her husband and children?
  • What are the actual ages of 2 x Great Grandparents Alexander & Catherine (Langdon) Sweat? Why do they have different birth years on every Census Record?
  • Why did Great Aunt Euphemia Smith marry multiple times?
  • Who is the father of 2 x Great Grandpa James Douglas Tate?
On and on the mysteries appear before me as I dance with the ancestors. In many cases, bit by bit, I peel back the layers and discover some, if not all, of the answers.

Great-Great Grandmama Elizabeth Hall-Morris was actually at her parents house, who lived next door to her and her husband, when the census taker came to take the information. Thus, she appears on the record at her parents house, while her husband and their children appear on the census for her house. Mystery! Solved!

Great-Great Grandpa Alexander Sweat, from what I and a distant cousin have theorized, altered his age when the census takers came because he didn't want to go to war. He needed to be at least ten years older in order to avoid the Civil War draft so . . . he and his wife both lied about their ages, and never stopped lying. Great, talk about a skeleton in the family closet: Great-Great Grandpa Alexander Sweat was a draft dodger. Note to self: omit that fact from the family history book. Ha!

I don't have a clue why Great Aunt Euphemia married multiple times, but she did. At first, since she was on the 1900 census with her husband and children, but not the 1910, I thought she had died, until . . . I found a marriage record for her that stated she was divorced. The Horrors!! Ha! Then, every death notice for a member of her family seemed to have her with a different last night. Obviously, the woman could just not commit!

And now, the mystery that I probably won't ever solve, but have come to a definite conclusion about: the parentage of Great-Great Grandpa James Douglas Tate.

My belief has always been that, due to popular theories, he is not the son of John Tate and Leodicia Hogg-Tate, but rather their grandson. He was born in 1839. Leodicia, his alleged mother, was born in 1783. She would have been 56 when he was born. I seriously doubt, back in the 1800s, a woman was still having children at the age of 56. So, my theory has always been that James Douglas was the child of John and Leodicia's daughter Sarah (aka Sally) Tate. This supposition was upheld by the fact that in 1870, Sarah Tate was living with James and his family. 

Well, my mind being what it is, and traveling down varied paths as I attempt to reach a conclusion, suddenly hit upon another idea: What if Sarah/Sally was not in fact a child of John and Leodicia, but the widow of one of their sons? It would have made sense that, after the death of her husband, she moved in with his family, since that often happened back in the day. Then again, she could be his older sister-mother who had him out of wedlock. 

Still, my line of thinking now is that his father was a Tate, the son of John and Leodicia, who died prior to 1850. Sarah and her child, potentially children, moved in with Leodicia and, eventually, with her son James Douglas and his family. 

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't let a mystery stump you, just keep digging away, even if you have to leap to other branches for a bit!