Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Pretend...

Are you recording the stories of your life along with those of your ancestors? My great aunt spent decades doing genealogy, and yet I know very little about her, her siblings (including my grandmother), and their parents. As we research our families, let's also share our stories so they won't be forgotten. 

As children, my brother, sister, and I spent countless hours outside playing pretend with our friends. While we played some of the more common games like school and store, we were also quite creative.


Who wouldn’t love to be in a parade? We would find as many things with wheels as possible: tricycles, pedal cars, my brother’s, and wagons. Then, we’d line up behind the leader, which was usually my big sister. When everything was set up, we needed an audience. My mom would watch our parade go by as we took off around the block or sometimes just up and down our street. Here comes the parade!

Everyone loves a parade!
My brother, then my sister, then myself. Strangely, I don't remember that blue pedal car.

Who has ever pretended to be a family of birds? We did! This was a game we played in the fall when the leaves from our towering elm tree littered the ground. We would rake them up in a pile, and then hollow out the middle to create a giant bird's nest. There would be room enough for three or four small children. One person would be the mommy bird, and we might also have a daddy bird. The other children would be baby birds. The babies would keep the mommy busy demanding food with their chirps. And, later, the mommy would teach the babies how to fly! The sky would grow darker as we ‘flew’ back and forth from the nest and around the yard until our moms yelled for us to come in to dinner.


This is another game I wonder if anyone else every played. We had a swing set in our backyard and would shimmy up the long poles to reach where the swings were attached. We’d unhook each swing and then hang it where it was only about a foot from the top pole. Carefully, the king and queen would get into these high swings…our thrones! If you weren't the king or queen, you were a servant. The excess chains would hang all the way to the ground and we tied a bucket onto one. Then, the royalty would demand their servants to bring them various items... including real snacks from the kitchen. I can’t imagine trying to shimmy up those poles today!

Another photo of us and some of our "wheeled" toys. There are branches of the Elm tree
whose leaves we used to create our bird's nest in the upper right. The porch swing
hung on the left side of this porch. And, in the backyard, between the house
and the tree, you can barely see our yellow swing set. 


While the other ‘games’ were played over and over, I only remember playing “Guinness Book of World Records” once. We had a Guinness book, probably from the school, and had looked through it to try and find a record we could break. We decided we would try to set the record for the longest time swinging. (Maybe that’s why I hate swinging so much as an adult!) I guess we’d looked up the rules or we made them up, but we decided we could each get off for the swing for a  few minutes every hour to use the bathroom or stretch our legs or just give our swinging bodies a break. But, the swing couldn't stop swinging and someone had to be on the swing at all times. My mother would serve us food and be the official timer. I honestly have no idea how long we lasted, but I’m guessing it was several hours.

I just looked up the current record. It’s called “Longest Marathon on a Swing.” It says, “The longest marathon on a swing is 32 hr 2 min 3 sec and was achieved by Aimee Pivott (New Zealand) in Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand, on 4-5 October 2013.” Maybe we should give that record another try! I suggested this to my sister, but she said we stopped trying to break the record when she started puking. I guess I forgot that part!

And, here’s my attempt of making the first section, about the parade, more “show, not tell” by adding dialogue. (This post is actually part of a class I'm taking, "The Write Stuff", with Lisa Alzo.) I don’t feel very comfortable putting ‘words’ in other people’s mouths and I feel it makes the actual memory seem fictionalized. But, I also see how it could be more interesting to read. What do you think?


My sister hopped on her shiny red tricycle and ordered, “Everyone, grab something with wheels and line up behind me!”

My little brother ran to upright his John Deere tractor pedal car and trailer. I grabbed the wagon and ran towards my sister. I dropped the handle with a clang and ran back for the other tricycle instead.

We got in line and my sister explained, “It’s time for the parade and we need someone to watch. Dana, go get Mom.”

I ran up the steps to the screen door and knocked. After a minute, Mom opened the wooden door. “Yes?” Mom asked.

“We’re having a parade. You’ve got to come and watch!” I blurted out.

She unlocked the screen and followed me down the porch steps. I sprinted back to my ride and waited for my sister to start the parade.

All the way down the block I pumped my legs round and round and tried to keep up with my big sister. At the end, we turned around and headed back towards our house. Grinning ear to ear, we all pedaled past our mother imagining the cheering of the crowds.

Everyone loves a parade!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Henry Bennett: A Settler of Kansas Territory (#4 of 52 Ancestors)

The name "Kansas" first appeared on maps in 1854 when the Territory of Nebraska was divided and the southern portion became "Kansas" under the Nebraska-Kansas Act. In May of the following year, 1855, Henry Bennett (my 3rd great grandfather) and his family arrived from Missouri and settled in the Allen County area shortly before it was named.

1855 first edition of Colton's map of Nebraska and Kansas Territories (image from Wikipedia)
This is the same year Henry Bennett & his family moved to Kansas Territory

The First Settlers of Allen County

Few white settlers reached this county before the Bennett family. Richard Fuqua and his family arrived in January of 1855. They started a trading post and dealt extensively with the Sac and Fox Indians. Another small settlement started in March of that year by the Cowden and Parsons families. They built near a camp of nearly 400 Osage Indians. Parsons' family had dealt with the Osage before and the settlers lived temporarily with the Indians while they built their homes. [Source: "History of the State of Kansas" by Cutler]

Henry Bennett, arriving in May, was one of the first of a wave of about twenty families who arrived in the late spring and summer. Most settled along the Neosho River with its timber for building and fertile lands for growing crops and raising livestock.

In Watson Stewart's memoirs of his immigration trip to Kansas, he writes of camping near the Bennett's property a year later in May of 1856. "We... passed on down the Neosho river that evening reaching a point just a little south of where Humboldt now is, and near a settler by the name of Henry Bennett, where we camped for the night. Mr. Bennett was the only settler near there, and we passed two or three during the day, outside of those in the village of Cofachiqui. Mr. Bennett had come from Tennessee and was a strong "Free-State" man." [Source: "Personal Memoirs of Watson Stewart"] [Note: The Bennett's had actually just come from Missouri, but had lived in Tennessee before Missouri.]

1861 Land Document for Henry Bennett in Allen Co, KS
Kansas didn't become a state until 1861, so I believe that
was the first year for land registration

The Slavery Issue in Allen County

Besides creating Kansas, the Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 had also allowed for a vote of residents to determine if each state was "Free" or "Slave." A "bogus legislature" that was pro-slavery was set up and declared Kansas to be a Slave state. But, Kansas became "Bloody Kansas" as, during the pre-Civil War years, people fought over whether Kansas would be "Free" or "Slave."

In Allen County, there were only a handful of slaves during that first year, but the free-state settlers pressured the pro-slavery settlers into either freeing their slaves or leaving the area. Although 1855-56 were known as the "Border Ruffian war" where the pro-slavery and anti-slavery people clashed, this was primarily in the North and along the Missouri border.  There are no known incidences of violence within Allen County or among its citizens during this 'war.' [Source: "Histories of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas" by Duncan and Scott]

The 1860 Drought in Allen County

The next few years brought more settlers and prosperity to the area. Henry and his wife had two more children during this time. But, the age of  "Kansas Territory" was almost over as Kansas would become a state in 1861. The year of  1860 proved to be tough. Why? Drought.

A rain fell in September of 1859, and then there wasn't any rain for eighteen months. But, of course the Bennetts and other families in the area didn't realize it was the start of a drought. They plowed and planted as usual.

The 1860 Agricultural federal census gives us a clear picture of the contents of Henry Bennett's farm in 1860. We can only imagine what these figures would have looked like in the summer of 1861...

  • 160 acres of land of which 100 acres were improved with a cash value of $1000
  • value of farming implements and machinery: $75
  • 3 horses
  • 7 milch cows
  • 10 working oxen
  • 13 other cattle
  • 32 bovine
  • value of livestock: $784
  • 125 bushels of wheat (produced during the year ending June 1, 1860)
  • 2,500 bushels of Indian corn 
  • 50 bushels of Indian potatoes
  • 6 tons of hay
  • value of animals slaughtered: $175

From "The Histories of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas" compiled by Duncan and Scott we read: "As spring passed on and ripened into summer there was still no rain, the dust in which the seed had been planted remained dust. The burning sun glared fiercely all day, and no dew descended at night... It was a heart-breaking experience, and those who passed through it cannot speak of it even now without a shudder. It is no wonder that many of the settlers, perhaps a majority of them, went back to their former homes, and that few of those who went ever returned. Those who remained suffered the extremest privation, and many of them were rescued from actual starvation only by the timely arrival of supplies sent out by the numerous 'Kansas Aid' societies which were organized throughout the East. There have been hard times in Kansas since then, but compared with 1860 there has never been a year that was not one of abundance and good cheer."

The Civil War Years in Allen County

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, nearly every able-bodied man from Allen County enlisted including Henry's four oldest sons. One son, William H Bennett, became a corporal. Another, the youngest of these four, Joseph, who was about 21 years old, died of disease in Missouri in 1863. [The service records of all four brothers needs to be looked into further.]

Evidently, the U.S. Army "visited" Bennett's farm during the war. In 1894, he filed a claim against the U.S. government "for compensations for timber, firewood and other personal property to them from the [Henry's] land near Humboldt, Kansas, by the officers and Soldiers of the U. S. Army, during the Civil War, and for the use and occupation of, and injury to said land and premises..."

In a document from 1900, Henry (now 85), because of his "age and physical infirmities," agreed to give half of a settlement to Barton M Turner, his son-in-law, if or when he collected money on a claim against the U. S. government. More records need to be found to determine if Henry ever received compensation. [Typewritten transcription in Beulah Brewer's genealogy papers titled "Henry Bennett, Intestate Will" at top. Sticky note on it also says "Book L, 184[blank]-Mar 27[or 29], 1894. State of Missouri vs. Henry Bennett, Delinquent taxes: Dismissed. These in Webster Co, MO.]

Leaving Allen County

Kansas took a state census right after the war in July of 1865. Henry and his wife, Ellender, are still in Allen County along with their youngest seven children ages 3 to 15. Sometime between July 1865 and the 1870 federal census, Henry and his family moved back to Missouri, this time settling in Newton County.

In less than fifteen years, Henry had settled on the newly formed Kansas Territory and watched it become the 32nd state; he had probably dealt with Indians and slavery; he had sent four of his sons to fight to preserve the Union and abolish slavery and learned that one of them had died of disease; he had seen U.S. soldiers use his timber and land; and he had survived an eighteen month drought. All of this while raising and providing for a family on the Kansas prairie.

While much has been learned about Henry Bennett and his life in Kansas, his time in both Tennessee and Missouri need to be explored further.

Timeline of Henry Bennett's life

  • Feb 1815 - born in NC or TN
  • abt 1836 - married Ellender Bookout in TN
  • by 1840 - living with wife & 3 young children in Fentress Co, TN
  • bet 1843-1848 moved to Greene Co, MO
  • May 1855 - arrived in Allen Co, Kansas Territory
  • bet 1865-1870 - moved to Newton Co, MO
  • bet 1880-1900 - moved to Webster Co, MO
  • Oct 1903 - died in Webster Co, MO
My Line of Descent
  • Henry Bennett (1815-1903) m. Ellender Bookout (1817-1905)
  • Elizabeth Bennett (1849-1914) m. Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger (1844-1934)
  • Myrtle Mae Coppenbarger (1880-1970) m. Emil Wilhelm Peters (1877-1955)
  • Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975) m. James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) (my paternal grandparents
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow at "No Story Too Small" for creating "52 Ancestors" where we can share our ancestors stories, one week at a time. This week's theme is "closest to your birthday." I chose someone who shared the same birth month as me, though I don't know what specific day he was born on.)

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Saturday, January 24, 2015

SNGF: Your 2015 Genealogy Education Plans

It's time for some more Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings hosts this weekly challenge. This week's challenge concerns our 2015 Genealogy Education Plans.

The "Fun" is in two parts this week:

Part 1: Describe your genealogy education plans for 2015

1. The Write Stuff: Build Your Family History Writing Skills with Lisa Alzo

I am currently participating in a 6 week online course called "The Write Stuff" coached by Lisa Alzo. This course is designed to help you write your family stories. I'm guessing it'll be offered several more times this year. We have weekly homework and meet once a week online for an hour.

2. Gen Proof Study Group 37

I am also currently participating in "Gen Proof Study Group 37" which studies Tom Jones' book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. We have weekly homework and meet weekly on Google+ hangouts for discussions besides having discussions throughout the week. I'm sure there will be other sessions offered this year.

3. GRIP - Law School for Genealogists with The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell

I attended GRIP in Pennsylvania last summer for the first time. I am giving myself one week during the summer to travel and GRIP is my choice again this summer, though I'm starting to consider a week in Salt Lake City instead... I've never been! It's a hard choice!

4. Boston University Online Certificate Program

I plan on taking Boston University's 16 week program in the fall. I understand this program will take 20-30 hours of homework per week, so it will be intense!

5. Legacy Family Tree Webinars

I have a subscription and will watch some of the archived and new programs as they become available. These webinars are by many top genealogists and the new webinars are usually offered free for a week! There's a wide variety of topics and a large number of archived webinars avaiable.

6. Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) Webinars

I live in Texas, but find a subscription to SCGS worth the free webinars. I first joined to watch the Jamboree videos!

7. NGS 2015 Family History Conference Live Streaming

With a daughter still at home, I have limited time to travel. So, I really enjoyed being able to watch some NGS lectures at home last year! This year, they are again offering two tracks to watch at home and I'll be buying them both: The Immigration & Naturalization Process and Methodology Techniques.

8. Extreme Genes and Genealogy Guys podcasts

I really enjoy both of these shows and have started downloading them so I can listen to them either while working around the house or while running errands. I gave some examples of things you can find on "Extreme Genes" on my blog recently.

9. Subscriptions to National Genealogical Society Quarterly magazine and Family Tree magazine

I need to read both of these more faithfully! I might see about switching to the paper edition of NGSQ as I don't really enjoy reading it electronically.

10. Various blogs

I spend several hours a week reading various genealogy blogs which I follow on Bloglovin'.

11. DearMyrtle's Videos

I have just recently watched several of Ol' Myrtle's videos and have found them very useful! One was about creating a graphic for your blog which I used for "Our Stories" and another was about AncestryDNA matches that don't have hints! I also viewed her "G+ - Tweak your profile" video today and updated my Google+ profile! I'm going to keep my eye on what she's doing as she has a lot she can teach me. You can find her videos on her YouTube channel. (P.S. I would LOVE to do her GenLaw Study Group! I hope she does it again maybe this summer... I'm just too busy with my other classes right now!)

Part 2: How much time do you spend on genealogy education? and why?

I spend 20-30 hours a week, perhaps half of my genealogy time, on education at this time. Although I've been doing genealogy for over 15 years, I've come to a new season in my life where I have a lot more time to pursue this passion. I want to do it 'right' and I still have a lot to learn. 

Why? I do hope to become certified within the next 3-5 years, but I don't think I'd do it to take on clients. I am a teacher and could see myself doing some kind of teaching. But, primarily I want to be certified to know I'm researching at a high standard of excellence. 

What Can You Learn from AncestryDNA Matches with Very Small Trees?

This morning I watched DearMYRTLE's video, "AncestryDNA Matches with Angie Bush." Angie is Dear Myrtle's "DNA expert." She started by explaining what you can learn from Ancestry DNA matches that have 'shaky leaf' hints. I was already comfortable with those. But, next she talked about those matches that DON'T have hints.

Up until now, I've always ignored those. Many of them have very small trees. The 'tree' Dear Myrtle and Angie worked on only had 2 people! But, they were able to figure out the common ancestor! Wow!

Angie also pointed out that part of why they were able to make the connection was because the family was from Utah and there is a large family tree on Family Search for Utah. Well, I don't have any family from Utah. Could I still make this work?

I went to my matches and my highest unknown match is a 3rd cousin, with a confidence level of "extremely high", who only has 13 people on her tree. 13 people? How will I be able to find a match with that?

I clicked on "View Match" and could see all 13 people. The one surname I recognized was "Waggoner", though this isn't a direct line of mine. And, I didn't recognize the only person with that name, Margaret Elizabeth Waggoner.

I clicked on Margaret and saw her birth (in 1901) and death dates (1982) and that she died in Oklahoma. Hmmm... my Waggoner's are from both Kansas and Oklahoma.

I next went to my tree and looked for a Margaret Elizabeth Wagoner. I actually found a Margaret Waggoner born "about" 1901. That's a match! This Margaret's mother is Mary Ellen "Ella" (Coppenbarger) Waggoner who is a sister of my great grandmother, Myrtle Mae (Coppenbarger) Peters!

The family of our great, great grandparents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger
My great grandmother is Myrtle Mae (dark hair 2nd from left) & my my match's is "Ella" (the tallest standing)
Photo from FindAGrave posted by JRS, my father

So, this 'match' and I share great, great grandparents, Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger & Elizabeth (Bennett) Coppenbarger, making her my 3rd cousin! Just like the DNA match suggested!

I have now contacted this match and offered to share my research. I hope she has something to share, too. But, I think she might not even know Margaret's parents names. In that case, I'm happy to help her out! And, I was able to fill in more information about Margaret on my tree.

I'm off to try another match!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Walking Purchase: How the Delaware Indians were Swindled of Land

"At dawn on September 19, 1737, three colonists and three Indians set off on the most peculiar "walk" in Pennsylvania's history. Their purpose was to measure out a land purchase that Thomas Penn, the son and heir of William Penn, claimed his father had made from the Delaware fifty years earlier." [Source:]

Although they fought against this phony treaty, the Delaware finally agreed to sale the land described. The amount of land was documented as being a day and a half's walk from a certain location. A previous treaty which had used the words "two days walk" had ended up being 70 miles, so this piece of property should have been around 50-55 miles.

Instead, three trained runners were hired. Men went before the runners and cleared away brush and boats were arranged to transport them across the water. One of the men ended up going a total of 65 miles in just eighteen hours! And, the cartographers drew a line perpendicular to the running path, instead of at an east to west line, to create a much larger chunk of land.

Walking Purchase map (darker green) from Wikiepedia

Of course the Delaware Indians were furious. William Penn had worked hard to create a feeling of peace between the native Americans and the English settlers. But, his sons had erased his efforts. Chief Nutimus of the Delaware stated, "If this practice must hold, why then we are no more Brothers and Friends but much more like Open Enemies."

Headline for aricle by Henry W Shoemaker that mentions my ancestor, Michael Quigley
Two Hundered Years Have Passed, Altoona Tribune, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 19 Oct 1937,
page 6, column 3, digital image, (, accessed 21 Jan 2015

What does the "Walking Purchase" have to do with my family? I found an article at this morning about my Patriot ancestor, Michael Quigley. It mentions that two chiefs who had agreed to the "walk," Lappowingo and Tish-Cohan, had been exiled by the Delaware Indians. Michael Quigley, my 5th great grandfather, later ran into these two "deposed chiefs" who were "living in bark cabins at the culmination of Nittany mountains." Michael"described them as two of the most dejected individuals on earth. They could not hold up their heads for shame, and hid in the woods until I delivered my message to their women and took myself off." [Source: Altoona Tribune newspaper cited above]

This article was written in the Altoona Tribune in 1937 by Henry W. Shoemaker. Who was Henry W. Shoemaker? He was both the owner of the Altoona Tribune [Source: Wikipedia] and a writer of Pennsylvania folklore and history. He spent "his college years...traveling through the mountains of Pennsylvania - on foot, on horseback, or by buggy. He claimed that he heard the stories, 'mostly after supper,' from people he met at lumber camps, farmhouses, and backwoods taverns." [Source: Penn State University Press]

I wish I knew how and where he heard the stories of Michael Quigley! I have found other stories Shoemaker told about him that I will be sharing, but I wonder how much is fact and how much is folklore. Either way, I'm glad to have heard the sad story of the "Walking Purchase" and learn a little bit more of my Patriot ancestor.

Other sources:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SNGF: Random Genealogy

Randy Seaver posted his weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Challenge and I'm a few days late, but decided to give it a try! His challenge? Do some random genealogy research and basically report what you started with and what you learned.

I like how Diane at Michigan Family Trails changed it up a bit and went with the first person in her tree and limited it to one hour. So, I've decided to go that route.

My person? Her name is Agnes and she married Cline Quigley.

What I know? She was born in about 1820 in Pennsylvania and had 3 (known) children. I only have the 1880 census which is in Beech Creek, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. It lists 5 members of the family: Agnes (age 60), her husband Cline (age 63) & the 3 children (ages 18 to 25). It also lists an 18 year old servant named Annie Quiggle. (Is she related?) Everyone, including the servant and all parents, were born in Pennsylvania.

And now, an hour of research...

1. "related content" on Ancestry's 1880 census

I found the 1860, 1870 & then 1850 census. I found 5 more children (for a total of 8) and Agnes' middle initial: T. [Note: I now believe this "T" is actually for her maiden name, not her middle name.]

2. Other people researching Agnes on Ancestry

I didn't find anything that related.

3. Mocavo

I found a great article in "History of Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania" about one of the daughter's of Agnes & Cline. Their daughter, Mary C (one of the 'new' children I just learned about) was born May 21, 1848 in Beech Creek, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. It says she was the daughter of "Hon. Cline, ex-associate judge of Clinton County, Penn., and Agnes (Thompson) Quigley, old settlers of Clinton County, Penn."

So, I have at least a piece of evidence that Agnes' maiden name was Thompson and her husband was an associate judge! Two more pieces of information!

4. Find-A-Grave & BillionGraves

I didn't find anything even though a private tree on Ancestry says they have her burial place through Find-A-Grave.

Death Notice for Mrs. Agnes Quigley, Altoon Tribune, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 22 Apr 1896,
page 7, column 1, digital image accessed 19 Jan 2015


Yes!! I found a death notice for her! She died in 1896. (I also found a few clippings about either her husband or son I need to explore.)

6. Google

I found a book called "History of the Beech Creek Area of Clinton County Pennsylvania" that also listed Agnes' maiden name as Thompson. This book has a LOT more I need to read!

7. FamilySearch

I didn't find anything.

8. fold3 (for husband, Cline)

I didn't find anything.


In less than an hour (about 45 minutes), I uncovered quite a bit of new information using some of my 'go to' searches.

Why should I research this random person from my tree? Agnes was the wife of a grandson of my patriot ancestor, Michael Quigley, who married Frances Catharine Kline/Cline. By researching this couple, I can uncover more information about my direct ancestors, too. Also, it's always a good idea to research 'down' the line! You never know who inherited family photos, a family Bible, or even who might have heard family stories!

Do you have other sites you regularly check that I didn't use?

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thomas Whitwell: A Legal Orphan (#3 of 52 Ancestors)

(Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow at "No Story Too Small" for creating "52 Ancestors" where we can share our ancestors stories, one week at a time.)

Thomas B Whitwell, my 5th great grandfather, wasn't even a year old when he was legally declared an orphan. I say "legally" because we are uncertain as to whether his mother was still living or not. But, the law stated that he was an orphan if his father died. So, Thomas and his older brother, Robert, were orphans.

What happened to orphans in the 1770's in Virginia? They'd be legally "bound out" to a master or mistress who were to provide them with "diet, clothes, lodgings and accommodations and teach him to read and write and at the expiration of his apprenticeship to give him the same allowance appointed for servants of indenture." [Quote from What Genealogists Should Know about 18th Century Virginia Law by Mr. John P. Alcock]

Thomas was bound out to a man named William Brumfield and his brother, Robert, was bound out to a William Overton. Some researchers believe William Brumfield was their grandfather, but I'm still looking for evidence.

Fourteen years later, in 1790, Thomas' older brother was discharged from service to his master. This would usually happen at the age of 21, but I believe Thomas was only 18 or 19. On that same day, Thomas was bound to a different man, a Benjamin Morton. A few months later, that order was rescinded and he was bound to Samuel Johnson. And, a few months later, Samuel Johnson died so Thomas was bound to his brother, William Johnson. As a young teen, this must have been a difficult year for Thomas!

John Anderson giving permission for his daughter, Polly Anderson, to marry Thomas Whitwell
Witnesses are Elkanah Anderson, Polly's brother, and Robert Whitwell, Thomas' brother
Image from "Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954" on Family Search

I haven't found a record of when Thomas was released from his bond, but by 1796 he had crossed the Cumberland Gap and joined his brother in Mercer County, Kentucky. (What an adventure that must have been!) In 1798, he married Mary "Polly" Anderson and they had their first of eleven children in 1799.

Shortly after the birth of that first son, the young family packed up and moved again, this time to Barren County, Kentucky. Over the next decade, Thomas and Polly had six more children before they moved to Dickson County, Tennessee.

In December 1814, Thomas traveled with his wife's brother, Elkanah Anderson (who is also a 5th great grandfather of mine), to fight the British in New Orleans. He left behind his wife, Polly, with their eight children, including the youngest who was only 15 months old.

Thomas and Elkanah joined the 2nd Regiment of the West Tennessee Militia. Their regiment was "part of a flotilla that went down to New Orleans via the Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers." Once there, they fought in the famous Battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson. During the bloody, one-sided battle which lasted only about 30 minutes on January 8th, the British suffered over 2,000 casualties while the Americans only had about 100.

The Tennessee Archives site says there weren't any battle casualties in Thomas' and Elkanah's regiment, but there were "many deaths due to sickness" in February and March. Elkanah Anderson, Thomas' brother-in-law, died on January 14th just 6 days after the biggest battle. Was he one of the first to die of disease? Or did he die of a battle injury? And was he buried in New Orleans as family stories tell us?

Thomas returned home and had to break the news to his wife that her brother had died. Elkanah's wife, Sally, also had to be told. I'm not sure how many children Sally and Elkanah had, but their daughter, Margaret, was my 4th great grandmother.

After returning home, Thomas' wife had one more child before they packed up again and moved to Hickman County, Tennessee with extended family members. According to Spence's "History of Hickman County, Tennessee," they settled on Cane Creek "immediately after the withdrawal of the Indians" as early as 1815. Six heads of family are listed, and the Whitwell's and at least two other families are related to me. Another sentence states this was "yet in the Indian country" and I can only imagine the rough existence they had. They had their 11th child, their last, in Hickman County in 1820.

Thomas B Whitwell's headstone in Beech Grove Cemetery, Pleasantville, Hickman County, Tennessee
Headstone erected c 1992 by Mark Hubbs & Harvey Whitwell
Photo by Eunice posted at Find-A-Grave

Thomas' wife, Polly, died in 1838 and he passed away in 1846. Though family story says they were both buried in "box tombs" on land they owned in Hickman County, they now both have markers in Beech Grove Cemetery in Pleasantville, Hickman County. Pleasantville is possibly named after their son, Pleasant, who was my 4th great grandfather.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reuben H Ward:His Body was Thrown in the Tennessee River (#2 of 52 Ancestors)

My grandmother told the story of her grandfather, Reuben H Ward, a Methodist minister who was murdered. She said he was on the Tennessee River going to preach and someone murdered him and then threw his body overboard.

Several years ago, I came across a newspaper article that another researcher had found about this tragic event. It not only affirmed my grandmother's story, but it also added some crucial information:
  1. Reuben's body was found weeks later many miles down river
  2. a man named Charlie Ledbetter was charged with his murder
  3. the "evidence was not sufficient to convict" Ledbetter
Tonight, I found two more items about my great, great grandfather:
  1. an actual PHOTO of Reuben, thanks to a distant cousin! (I'm waiting on permission to post it!)
  2. a newspaper article about the murder and the trial!
Tombstone of Reuben H. Ward
(image from FindAGrave, photo by Wilda Graves Patterson)
The newspaper article changes the way I envision Rev. Reuben. It states he was "intoxicated" and had to be "aided" up the river bank. Also, he had an existing "emnity" with the alleged murderer, Charlie Ledbetter. Somehow, I always envisioned someone trying to rob him!

I believe there is more to find on this story. In fact, this article starts by saying "It will be remembered by our readers..." and I haven't found the article they are referencing! I also hope to find the court records for this case. But, for now, this is the story of the (alleged) murder of my great, great grandfather, Reuben Houston Ward.


The Tragic Death of a Lexington Man is Revived by two Arrests

Lexington Press.

It will be remembered by our readers that Reuben H. Ward, then a citizen of Lexington, was put across the Tennessee River at Perryville on the night of November 13, 1906, by William Rogers, a young white man, and a negro named Scott. Rogers aided Ward, who was intoxicated, part the way up the east bank of the river, and from that time until December 9, when the unfortunate man's body was found below Jacksonville, his fate was but a matter of conjecture. 

Suspicion, however, pointed to Charlie Ledbetter, as there was said to be enmity existing between him and Ward.

When Ward's body was discovered and brought to Perryville, an examination was made by Drs. L. V. Frazier and S. A McDonald, and there were rumors of that examination showing evidences of Ward having been murdered.

Recently it was developed that a boy named Lonny Downs, who lived with Ledbetter and had left for parts unknown, knew something of the matter, and when he was located at Cumberland City he was arrested by a deputy sheriff and brought to Linden.

On May 15 a warrant for Ledbetter's arrest was issued and later was served upon him at his home in East Perryville. Thursday of last week the preliminary trial of Ledbetter was begun in Linden before Justices Tinin, Curl, and Hinson and was concluded Friday.

We are informed that Down testifies that Ledbetter killed Ward and forced him by threats to help throw the body into the river. Ledbetter was jailed without bail to await the next session of circuit court at Linden.

Reuben Houston Ward was born 14 Jan 1859 in Perry County, Tennessee and died 13 Nov 1906 on the Tennessee River near Perryville. He was the son of Carroll Houston Ward (1826-1863) and Martha Ann Whitwell (1830-1904). He married Sallie Harriett Dickson (1860-1960) who raised my grandmother. Reuben and Sallie had eight children who survived to adulthood and one who died as an infant.

(Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow of "No Story Too Small" for creating & hosting "52 Ancestors"!) 

Newspaper sources:
  • Was It Murder?, The Camden Chronicle, Camden, Tennessee, 07 Jun 1907, page 2, column 4, digital image, ( accessed 12 Jan 2015) 
  • Snows Early and Snows Late, Lexington Progress, Lexington, Tennessee, 26 Nov 1926, posted online on Ancestry trees and Find-a-Grave memorial page. 
UPDATE: I found another newspaper article on 27 Jan 2015. This one is from right after the body was found. Here's the article:

R. H. Ward who started to his old home in Perry County about three weeks ago, got as far as the Tennessee River and was ferried across and his whereabouts have been shrouded in mystery. His son and other relatives have been on the search day and night since his disappearance and not until Sunday night was his body found. It seems that he was drowned, as the body was found ten miles below Johnsonville, and there were no signs on his body to indicate that he had been foully dealt with.    Lexington Republic

It seems that Ward was drinking at the time he was ferried over the river. As it was dark at the time, the supposition is he walked into the river and was drowned.

Source: R. H. Ward, The Camden Chronicle, Camden, Tennessee, 21 Dec 1906, page 3, column 4, digital image, ( accessed 27 Jan 2015)

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Why Donate "One Pair of Shoes" on "Potato Day"?

An 1890 newspaper article was strangely titled "Potato Day Report" and then listed the schools in the small town along with their totals:

Ward One: $3.74 in cash & $10.56 in vegetables.

Ward Two: four dozen eggs, fourteen chickens, eight cans fruit, one pound butter, three packages soda, four boxes crackers, three sacks corn meal, three sacks flour, thirteen cabbages, eight squashes, six pumpkins, two and one-half bushel sweet potatoes, seven bushels Irish potatoes, two and one-half bushels apples, one bushel turnips, two and one-half bushels beets, two and one-half bushels onions, three and two-thirds bushels corn...

And then... "one pair of shoes."

What? When everyone else was bringing in food and money, why did someone bring a pair of shoes?

After reading through the reports for the other wards, I came upon this sentence: We hope this means 100 pairs of shoes for 100 needy children.

Oh, so the point of this food and money drive is actually about shoes?

This was a small Kansas town in late November. It can get very cold! And snow! Kids NEED shoes!

This newspaper article from a few days earlier explained the concept of Potato Day:

Potato Day, Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 19 Nov 1890,
page 4, column 4, digital image accessed 11 Jan 2015
Kids needed shoes or they'd be compelled to drop out of school! That's a real need!

Right next to one of the Potato Day reports was this heartbreaking letter from a kind teacher about a needy family.
Letter to O. P. Houghton, Weekly Republican-Traveler, Arkansas City, Kansas, 05 Dec 1889,
page 6, column 2, digital image accessed 11 Jan 2015
...for three of my school children at this place I would solicit shoes and clothing. They now wear shoes their mother made them out of pieces of old cloth, and the little girl has a dress made out of an old wheat sack. They are all delicate children and look like skim milk pigs - if you will excuse the comparison.

Shoes of old cloth and a dress of an old wheat sack. It breaks your heard, doesn't it? I hope they got shoes, food & clothing from the Potato Day drive!

What is Potato Day? The only records I have found are in the newspaper at It started in the late 1880's and lasted 5 to 10 years. People in Kansas and Pennsylvania held Potato Days and possibly other states. For the most part, the intent was to provide food for the needy with only a few mentioning shoes for school children.

What an interesting way to provide not only food, but shoes, for the needy of this time!

At the left of photo is Cleveland "Cleve" Egelston/Eggleston taken circa 1905 in Oklahoma. Cleveland was the baby in the letter posted in the newspaper. Photo used with permission from Peggy of "Eggleston Family Tree" on Ancestry.

I actually looked for the four little Eggleston children on Ancestry and found them on several members' trees. There were six older children and two more yet to be born. Sadly, both 9-year-old Morgan/Margan and 7-year-old Willie died within a year or two of this teacher's plea for help.

Why am I interested in Potato Day? Basically, I was researching the "Ward Two" elementary school I attended as a child. It was called Lincoln School then, and I lived just across the alley. I guess I went down a 'rabbit trail', but this story does intrigue me!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Sunday, January 11, 2015

SNGF: Your Ancestor Score for 2015

Randy's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge was posted last night at Genea-Musings. This week's challenge was to find out how many direct ancestors you've found. Here are the rules:

1) Determine how complete your genealogy research is. For background, read Crista Cowan's post Family History All Done? What’s Your Number? and Kris Stewart's What Is Your Genealogy "Score?" For comparison purposes, keep the list to 10 or 11 generations with you as the first person.

2) Create a table similar to Crista's second table, and fill it in however you can (you could create an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Name) list and count the number in each generation, or use some other method). Tell us how you calculated the numbers.

3) Show us your table, and calculate your "Ancestral Score" - what is your percentage of known names to possible names (1,023 for 10 generations).

4) For extra credit (or more SNGF), do more generations and add them to your chart.

5) Post your table, and your "Ancestor Score," on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post or Google+ Stream post.

I had never run an Ahnentafel chart, but it was really easy with RootsMagic. Then, I just counted my ancestors for each generation!

This took longer than it should have as I'd found some amazing church records over a year ago that I'd never added to my tree. In a small village in Germany, I've had ancestors back to the early 1600's! And, someone has put all these people online, but I hadn't added them to my tree.

I do want to stress that I actually got these records for myself and looked through them. Though they are in German, I was able to read quite a bit of it... enough for me to be pretty confident in what this person has shared.

So, here's my chart (which I had difficulty figuring out how to do... I finally made it in Excel & then pasted it into PowerPoint):

So, I have 161 direct ancestors on my family tree! (Well, to the 7x great grandparents level... I also have 8 of my 8x great grandparents! I don't have anything beyond that.)

I think it is interesting that I'm still missing 4 of my 3x great grandparents. I think I'll look at those and see if I can find at least one this year!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Have You Listened to Extreme Genes? It's Fascinating!

This week I stumbled upon the Extreme Genes podcasts. It's a radio show that's heard on stations across the country. But, I've NEVER heard of it. And, it's terrific!

Each episode runs 52 minutes and starts with some interesting news items. Then Fisher, the host, does a couple of interviews with experts in the field of genealogy.

I've listened to four episodes which each have two longer interviews. These are 3 of my favorite stories so far:

"Registering Immigrants at Castle Garden in 1866"
(image from Wikipedia)
Episode #43: Pat Mulso's family had passed down a heart-breaking story. In 1860, at the time of their immigration, her ancestors had to leave behind a two year old boy with a priest. But, when the father returned to get the little boy, the priest and the boy were gone. The family never saw their youngest son again! Pat finally tracked down this missing son. An incredible story!

Episode #45: Daniel Swalm discovered that, even though his grandmother spent her entire life in the United States, she died without her American citizenship! The story of how this happened is pretty incredible. And, you might have a grandmother who fell under this same crazy law. An incredible story that eventually led Swalm to the floor of Congress!

Gail Halvorsen (image from Wikipedia)
Episode #70: Col. Gail Halvorsen is better known as "The Berlin Candy Bomber" and "Uncle Wiggly Wings." He's the pilot who, during the Berlin Airlift, started dropping little parachuted packages of chocolate and gum to the children who were starving in West Berlin. He turned 94 in October and is still flies as a co-pilot. He tells the story of why he started the candy drop and talks about his continued friendship with some of the children of West Berlin. Another amazing story!

I can't wait to listen to another episode. I'm loading them onto my iPad and listening to them as I work around the house or do laundry. They're fascinating!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Where'd You Get Your Name?

This week, I listened to an Extreme Genes podcast with an interview of Judy Russell, "The Legal Genealogist." She made the point that family stories are usually lost within three generations.

Let's not lose our stories!

I am starting a weekly theme called "Our Stories." These are the stories of not only ourselves, but also our more recent family. If they are still living, you can ask! If not, maybe you can remember!

The first week's question is this:

Where'd You Get Your Name?
Do you know how you were named? Who named you? Also, did you have any nicknames as a child?

Here's my story (& I had to call my mom to remind me!):

My sister was not quite one and her best friend was named Dana. My mom loved that name. My parents moved a few months before I was born and they named me Dana! (I think it'd have been weird if they still were living next door to each other.) They chose my middle name because they liked the way the names sounded together. (I do, too!)

As far as nicknames, I had two as a teen:
The first nickname was at school: "Smiley"
My other nickname was at church: "Big D" (And, no, I wasn't 'big'... it was just something the older guys called me in a deep voice when I would show up.)

I talked to my mother & mother-in-law and got lots of stories of names & nicknames.

The most interesting name story? My mom; her first name was a name on the tag of my grandmother's gown!

Some nicknames (I'm keeping their real names private!):

  • Hootie - no idea why... her dad gave her the nickname
  • Radar - had big ears 
  • Bean Pole - was really skinny
  • Dodo - by an older brother... kids can be so cruel!
If you'd like to join me, just leave a comment! I'll come visit your blog and read how you got your name! Let's preserve these memories before they are lost forever!

"Our Stories" will post weekly on Wednesdays so we can actually do 52 posts for the year.

Next week's theme: Your childhood home or describe how or why you moved around a lot as a child

P.S. Thanks to Ol' Myrt's tutorial for teaching me how to make the "Our Stories" graphic!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

James Eastwood: No Stranger to Death (52 Ancestors #1)

I'm excited to be participating in this year's "52 Ancestor Challenge" from "No Story Too Small."

Our ancestors are more than names, dates & places. They lived and breathed; married and had children; celebrated births and grieved deaths.

For the most part, our ancestors suffered more loss than we do. Wives often died in childbirth. Children often died while still children. Life was harsher.

I've had very few deaths which were close to me. I lost my best childhood friend when I was 17, but I hadn't seen her in years. I lost my grandmother about 10 years ago, but we only saw each other once a year. And, in 2013 I lost my husband's grandfather. The pain of losing him was incredible. I cried for almost 2 solid days and felt like my knees would collapse.

As tough as 'my' grandpa's death was, I cannot imagine watching my husband or daughter die. What would it be like to sit by their bedside as they slowly fought a battle against a deadly disease? Or to get a call saying they'd been in a car wreck and were gone?

And yet, many people do suffer through the loss of a spouse. They grieve the loss of a child. Or, like James, they face death over and over again.

James Eastwood was my great, great, great grandfather. He was born in 1812 in England and married his first wife at about the age of 20. They had at least two children, Hannah & Humphrey, and it is likely they had two more, Sarah & Ann.

James' wife, Elizabeth, died when James was only 25. The following year, James' daughter, Hannah, also died. (Sarah & Ann, both under the age of two, also died that year. I'm waiting on death records to determine whether or not they are James & Elizabeth's children).

Parish church of St. Mary's in  Prestwich, Lancashire, England (from Wikipedia) where James married his second wife

James remarried the year that Hannah (& Sarah & Ann) died. His second wife, Sarah Ann Hall, is my third great grandmother. Within the first two years of marriage, they had two children. Then, two years later, James' father died, with his mother dying a few years later. The following year, James and Sarah Ann suffered the loss of their firstborn.

Sarah Jane, my great, great grandmother, was their third child. Shortly after her birth, James, a cotton spinner, decided to move to America. He went first; perhaps he wanted to find a place to live or he needed to earn enough money for everyone's tickets. A year or so later his wife, Sarah, came to America with their two surviving children. James' oldest son from his first wife stayed behind with other family members.

They settled Clinton County, Pennsylvania. James became a watchman at the Lock Haven Bank. James & Sarah Ann had three more children over the next few years. One of those died as a baby.

James died at the relatively young age of 51 when his youngest was only 5 years old. During his life he had lost one wife and at least 3 of his 8 children, and possibly 5 of his 10 children. His obituary praised him saying he was a "... worthy, honest, [enterprising?] citizen" and that he "...was an excellent citizen, and commanded the regard of all who knew him."

I'm not sure how James dealt with all the loss he experienced. Those are the types of things we often don't discover while researching our ancestors. But, at least he was surrounded by family. The 1860 census, taken three years before his death, finds him living with his five remaining children: their ages were two to twenty-five. I hope their house was filled with love and laughter despite the pain of so much loss.

James Eastwood, my 3x great grandfather, was born on October 4, 1812 in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England and died December 2nd, 1863 in Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Sunday, January 4, 2015

SNGF: Best Find of 2014 & Research Challenge for 2015

I was on the road last night, so am doing Randy's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this morning. This week's challenge is to share your best find of 2014 and a research challenge of 2015. I already did a "top 10 finds of 2014" post, but this time I will share the one that wasn't so much a story as a breaking of a brick wall. Here are the guidelines:

1) What was your best research achievement in 2014? Tell us - show us a document, or tell us a story, or display a photograph. Brag a bit! You've earned it!

2) We all have elusive ancestors. What research problem do you want to work on in 2015? Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.

3) Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

MY BEST FIND of 2014:

My best find of the year was finding the father of my 4th great grandfather, Andrew McClintock (1804-abt 1864 in PA). The breakthrough actually came about through a genealogist I hired to do research in Pennsylvania. She had actually transcribed some church records which included the baptism of Andrew McClintock, which listed his father as John McClintock. This researcher also found Andrew's wife's maiden name, Decker, which added another surname to my direct line of ancestors! And, she told me about her father, Michael Decker, who fought in the Revolutionary War.


My biggest research challenge continues to be proving (or disproving) that Adam Close's wife, Catharine, was the daughter of Mathew Longwell (1782-1883) & Elizabeth Orr 1785-1848). I made it a few steps closer this year both by some old letters that I received copies of from a distant cousin and a DNA match that links to me to another Longwell descendant. I would love to prove this because, in part, Mathew Longwell's father was in the Revolutionary War and was at the fated Winter at Valley Forge with George Washington!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Friday, January 2, 2015

What Can a Surname Used as a Middle Name Tell Us?

In my research, I've found three situations when a surname is used as a middle name.

1. HONORING A FAMOUS PERSON (usually political)

Examples from my tree:
George Washington Young, Thomas Jefferson Decker, Ulysess Grant Burton & James Madison Randolph


Examples from my tree:
My father's middle name is his great, great grandmother's last name. My brother was given the same middle name. My sister-in-law gave her son our beloved grandparent's last name (though in this instance it's his first, not middle, name)


Examples of mothers' surnames from my tree:
James Eastwood Merrill's mother was Sarah Jane Eastwood
Andrew McClintock Stewart's mother was Catharine Jane McClintock
John Quiggle Stewart's mother was Frances Quigley
Josiah Randolph Coppenbarger's mother was Mary "Polly" Randolph

Examples of grandmothers' surnames from my tree:
Bessie Waldron Merrill's paternal grandmother was Nancy Waldron
Charles Close McClintock's paternal grandmother was Julia Ann "July" Close

And, this leads me to my current research challenge. I've struggled to determine my great, great grandfather's middle name for more than 10 years. He usually goes by Augustus L Merrill (1848-1920 in PA). I only had one document, his Social Security application, that actually showed his name. But, I wasn't sure what it said. The best I could come up with was Lippendst.. which isn't even a name!

Augustus' full name from Social Security application which for years I'd read as Lippensdt
But, when I went to my aunt & uncle's house in October, I saw my father's baby book. In it, my grandmother had filled in a family tree! And, there is his middle name! Once again I'm having some trouble with it. It looks like Lippencott or Lippensott.

Augustus full name from my father's baby book - probably written by his mother
Looking in Pennsylvania, where this family lived, I see that there is a surname of Lippencott! I already have Augustus' paternal grandmother, Eleanor Smith. And, his mother was Nancy Waldron. But, I don't have any information on her parents. Was her mother a Lippencott? I think I need to seriously consider this possibility.

One other question... when you are looking at these older generations (at least before the 1900's), have you ever found a surname as a middle name and there was not a connection? Could it just have been a family friend's name? I'm hoping this is truly  another surname in my family, but for now I'll just use it as a clue.

Another tip: This is a good reason to track the siblings of your ancestor, too! You never know where you might find a middle name that turns out to be the clue you need!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...