Sunday, July 31, 2016

Annoying Ancestors: Rebecca Horton

This month's Genealogy Blog Party is to "bring your most aggravating ancestor to our summer pool party and PUSH HIM (or HER) into the pool!"

My most aggravating usually would depend on what line I'm trying to research at any given moment, and this weekend it was back to the Horton clan from east Tennessee. After reviewing all of my notes and trying to get around scarce records, Rebecca Horton wins. And for good measure, I'll push her sister, Elizabeth Horton, in with her.

I can easily document my way back to my 3rd great-grandfather, Richard D. Horton, born about 1832 in Tennessee. In 1850 he is 19 years old, living with Rebecca Horton, age 47. The household is listed as:
  • Rebecca Horton, 47, b TN
  • America Horton, 26, b TN
  • Richard D, 19, b TN
  • Lucy F, 9, b TN
  • Zachariah T, 3, b TN

When I first got this far back, I made the assumption that Rebecca Horton was widowed by 1850, and looked for a marriage record to any Horton groom marrying someone named Rebecca in the late 1810's to early 1820's in east Tennessee. I could find no such record.

Eventually, I realized that Rebecca Horton was likely never married, and the same applies to her sister, Elizabeth. Here's what I do know about them:

  • In 1815, Rebecca Scior Horton and Elizabeth Horton are named as heirs to William Horton, their father. Fanny Horton is named their guardian. Earlier court documents indicate that William had died by 1812, and name Fanny as William's widow.
Court order naming Fanny Horton guardian for Rebecca & Betsy

          • In 1830, Fanny is enumerated on the Anderson County, Tennessee census:

            Male, age 5-9 2

            Male, 10-14 1

            Female, under 5 2

            Female, 5-9 2

            Female, 10-14 1

            Female, 20-29 2 (probably Elizabeth & Rebecca)
            Female, 60-69 1 (probably Fanny)
          • Note that given her age, the younger children in the household are unlikely to be Fanny's. Rebecca and Elizabeth are the likely the parents, but there are no men over 14 in the household.

          • In 1832, Rebecca and Elizabeth jointly purchase land in Anderson County, Tennessee
          Land purchase by Rebecca & Elizabeth Horton, 1832

          • Rebecca and Elizabeth appear on the tax rolls for 1837, 1838 and 1839

          • Fanny is not enumerated in the 1840 census, and Rebecca and Elizabeth are enumerated in their own households.

          • Rebecca is aged 30-39, and has a male the same age range in the household. There are also four children, with ages ranging from 5-19.

          • Elizabeth is also 30-39, has no adult males in the household, and has five children in all age brackets through 19 years old.

          • In 1850, Elizabeth is enumerated in Roane County with Henry & Elizabeth Liggett. I have not yet been able to determine if there is a family relationship or not.

          • I have not found Rebecca or Elizabeth in the 1860 census.
          It appears that both Rebecca and Elizabeth defied traditional norms, having several children each without ever getting married. And of course, they lived and died before vital records were recorded in Tennessee. Richard D., my direct ancestor, is the only child that I can trace with any certainty after 1860, and he died in Kentucky before that state began keeping vital records.

          I have the rare case of identifying a likely FEMALE relative (mother), but no way to determine who the father is.

          So, for leaving me with so many questions that can probably never be answered, including the identity of Richard's father, to both Rebecca and Elizabeth Horton ... SPLASH! Into the pool you go!

          Saturday, July 2, 2016

          A Fresh Look at a Pension Record

          One of my ancestors, William Cail, received a Revolutionary War pension. He enlisted in the North Carolina line in 1782, and applied for a pension from Georgia in 1833. William died in 1836. His widow, Ruth Cail, applied for a pension in 1855.

          I had not looked at this pension record in over ten years, so I decided to take a look at it again this morning to see if I could establish a FAN club for further research.

          "New" information about William Cail

          • Alternate spelling: Cayle
          • William was 15 when he entered the service in 1782 (inferred date of birth - 1767)
          • His original application was filed in Bulloch County, where he resided in 1833 
          • William received 1000 acres of land in 1782 while in North Carolina. Warrant No. 892. In 1855, no record of his receiving land was found by state of North Carolina

          Ruth Cail

          • Her pension funds were sent to Planters Bank in Savannah
          • Received 160 acres of bounty land
          • Resident of Screven County in 1853
          • Dropped from pension roll in 1862. Re-applied in 1869. Had to prove under oath that she did not "in any matter encourage those who took up hostilities against the United States government nor manifest a sympathy with their cause"
          • Residence in 1869 was 11 miles from Sylvania, near the Central Railroad

          FAN Club

          • Budd Cayle, signed as witness to William's application
          • James Parker, witness for pension application. Stated he grew up in the same neighborhood as William. (Could narrow down WHERE in Dobbs County the Cail family lived)
          • Robert Donaldson and Hugh Brannan, provided character witness. Both were clergy, "Ministers of the Gospel." William and Ruth may have attended their church.
          • Parker Cail, witness
          • Mr. Thomas was a witness. Knew William well during the Revolution. Mr. Thomas received a pension as well.
          • John Mincey served as witness and provided testimony for both William and Ruth. Neighbor for over 20 years. Present at their wedding ceremony. Aged 74 in 1855.
          • John Jeffers knew William and Ruth for over 20 years. Also a neighbor.
          • William Williams, provided testimony for Ruth's application
          • Wright Caile, identified as neighbor in Ruth's application
          • P.M. Brinsen (P. McBrinson?), provided testimony for Ruth's bounty land application
          • William L. Matthews, witness in 1869 application, providing testimony that Ruth did not support the South
          • Lemuel Parker, also provided testimony that Ruth did not support the South
          • David Burk, witness in 1869 application
          • James Newton, witness in 1869 application
          Research Plan
          • Research Bud Cail, Parker Cail, and Wright Cail. Based on information from other documents, I believe Bud Cail is William's brother. Are there other sources to support that theory? How were Parker and Wright related to William?
          • Determine place of origin, parents, and siblings for John Mincey. Was he related to the Cail family? 
          • Determine place of origin, parents, and siblings for James Parker
          • Determine place of origin, parents, and siblings for Lemuel Parker
          • How were James Parker and Lemuel Parker related to each other? To the Cail family?
          • Determine what church Robert Donaldson and Hugh Brannan pastored. Were William and Ruth members of this church? Did they live in the same neighborhood? Who else from the FAN club attended the church?
          • Determine which "Mr. Thomas" served in the same unit as William in the Revolution. Examine his pension record.
          • Research other FAN club members: John Jeffers, William Williams, P. Brinson, William Matthews, David Burk, James Newton.

          Wednesday, June 29, 2016

          Left for Dead

          This month's Genealogy Blog Party asks the question, "Which of your ancestors deserves to sit on the Iron Throne?" I have never watched Game of Thrones, and probably never will, but after reading the party rules, I quickly decided on Rachel Greist, my 5th-great grandmother.

          Rachel was born on February 14, 1765,  to John and Elizabeth Greist. Rachel was the second youngest of five children. Her younger brother was John, but I do not know the names of her three older siblings, or where the Greist family lived when Rachel was born. By the late 1770's they lived on Peters Run in Ohio County, Virginia (now Wheeling, West Virginia).

          Rachel was just 12 years old when her family was attacked by Indians. Rachel's three older siblings were killed, and her younger brother, John, who was only 8 years old, was taken captive. He would live with the Indians until he was an adult, eventually leaving them and settling in Belmont County, Ohio. During the attack, Rachel was scalped and left for dead.

          Years later, Rachel's daughter and son-in-law, Vachel and Sidney Dickerson, were interviewed by Lyman Draper and gave an account of the attack and Rachel's survival:

          "John Griste & family resided probably on the ridge near the head of Peters Run (a small stream above Shepherd's Fort at the Fork of Wheeling), & had, in 1777, gone with his family at Shepherd's Fort, but getting impatient, he took his children on to Peter's Run & left them there a short time - probably Mrs. Greist not among them - when Indians fell on the children & killed and tomahawked them; except John, then eight years old who was taken prisoner & kept several years...

          The whites soon learned of the attack on the Grist family & found Rachel tomahawked scalped & thrown behind a log & finding signs of life, was taken in & sent to Washington to be doctored ... and recovered."

          Rachel married Henry Jolly, son of Peter and Martha Jolly, on March 27, 1781. They had five children:
          • James, born May 25, 1790 (died July 27, 1792)
          • William Henry, born September 29, 1796
          • Kenzie Dickerson, born April 19, 1798
          • Sidney Jolly, born March 29, 1800
          • Albert Gallatin, born March 5, 1803
          Sidney also related to Lyman Draper that Rachel "was feeble several years after marriage, and her death was finally caused by her old wound breaking out afresh." The nine-year gap between the marriage date and  James' birth and the six-year gap after his birth suggest that there were probably some miscarriages along the way, perhaps attributable to Rachel's "feeble" health after the attack.

          Rachel died on November 8, 1805, at the age of 41.

          Attacked and scalped. Left for dead. Survived and recovered. Led a normal life for 28 years afterward, including marriage and having children, in spite of a scalp wound that never fully healed. For this, Rachel Greist in my nominee for the Iron Throne. 

          Saturday, June 4, 2016

          Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Best Genealogy Research Find in May 2016

          This week's topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is our best research find in May 2016. Without a doubt, mine has to be the information discovered in the Draper Manuscript Collection about my ancestors, Henry Jolly and Vachel Dickerson. Henry Jolly was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and applied for a pension in 1818 when he was living in Washington County, Ohio.1 Vachel Dickerson married Henry's daughter, Sidney (Siddy) Jolly.2

          Back in January, I learned that Lyman Draper had interviewed both of these men, but I was unable to get to the University of Central Florida, which has the collection on microfilm, until May. The collection is huge, so the first thing I did was locate the library's copy of Josephine Harper's guide, discovering that these two men and their families were directly interviewed or mentioned by others in nine different series of the collection. I had limited time, so I hastily scanned the relevant pages and walked away with over 200 images. Not all of the images pertain directly to Henry Jolly or Vachel Dickerson, but all are relevant to events that affected them or other family members.

          I am still transcribing these documents, but the best part was an interview with Vachel Dickerson talking about his family, including his in-laws. In one note, Lyman Draper even identifies the names and birthdates provided in Henry Jolly's handwriting!3 The notes have confirmed the following:
          • Henry Jolly's parents: Peter & Martha Jolly
          • Henry's birthplace: Chester County, Pennsylvania
          • Henry's wife: Rachel Greist4
          • Rachel's parents: John & Elizabeth Greist5
          • Rachel's brother: John Greist
          • The existence of three other Greist siblings, even though their first names are not provided
          • Confirmed family legend that Rachel was scalped as a child, and suffered from the wound the rest of her life
          • Vachel's parents: Thomas & Margaret (Davis) Dickerson6
          • Vachel's birthplace: Fayette County, Pennsylvania
          • Vachel's siblings: Fredrick, Joseph, Isabella, Rebecca, Ellender, Elizabeth, Thomas and Sarah
          Yes, some of these names were readily available from published genealogies and online trees, but none of the ones I examined had sources listed. The Draper Manuscripts allowed me to go back one generation on not one, but THREE direct lines, with evidence provided by the research subjects themselves!


          1. "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files," digital images, ( accessed 27 May 2016), entry for Henry Jolly, Pennsylvania line; citing National Archives microfilm publication Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. M804, roll 1435.

          2. William H. Jennings Esq., "Marriage Record, Washington County, Ohio, July 9, 1789 - April 25, 1822," The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly 4 (July 1901); digital images, MyHeritage ( : accessed 6 Mar 2016).

          3. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 79-80; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

          4. Series 2E, Samuel Brady and Lewis Wentzel Papers, Draper Manuscripts. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

          5.  "The Greist Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 85-86; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

          6. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, 1:79-80; Draper Manuscripts.

          Saturday, April 23, 2016

          Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

          This week, Randy has six questions for us to answer about ourselves, not an ancestor. Here are my responses:

          1. What was your first illness as a child?

            I remember having ear infections as a small child, but the first time I was sick enough to miss more than a day or two of school was when I got the chickenpox in 5th grade. They were going around, and my brother prayed to get them (he wanted to miss school, plus he knew my grandparents were coming up for a visit). I was the one that wound up getting them first, while my grandparents were visiting, and missed all of the fun end-of-year activities for 5th graders. Swimming in PE class, a trip to Kennywood in Pittsburgh, and who knows what else.  Chris wound up getting them from me, but after my grandparents returned to Florida. Ha! (Yes, I'm still mad at him. j/k. I think.)

          2. What was the first funeral you attended?

            Both my great-grandmother (father's side) and my maternal grandmother died in 1970, and I know my parents took me with them to the funerals, but of course I don't remember them. My dad was a full-time minister until I was in 4th grade, and I remember attending a funeral for one of the church members when we lived in Illinois. I don't remember the man's name, now, though.

          3. What was your favorite book as a child?

            I have to narrow that down to just one? Seriously? My nose was always in a book, to the point where Mom would have to take books away from me and force me to go play outside. The entire Little House on the Prairie series, Little Women, and the World Book Encyclopedia set were well used, and well-worn. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be the Little House books.

          4. What was your favorite class in elementary school?

            Reading, of course.

          5. What was your favorite toy as a child?

            Books. Anything I could get my hands on. Oh, those don't count as toys? Then probably my dolls, and if I have to go with just one of those, I'm not sure I could. Probably the one I named "Baby Sissy" would win.

          6. Did you learn to swim, and where did you learn?
            Kind of, but not through formal swim classes. I could pass the swim test when I was in Navy boot camp, but to this day I still don't know proper breathing techniques.

          Finding a Family for Elizabeth: Part 3, 1850 and 1860 Census


          This is an ongoing series on establishing the family of Elizabeth Disney who married William Adkins of Anderson County, Tennessee. If you missed them, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

          After examining Nancy's death certificate, I began searching the census records for William Adkins with  a wife named Betsy and daughters Nancy and Martha. I didn't have the names of other siblings for Nancy and Martha, so I started with the 1860 census, which was the first one that would have both of the girls enumerated with their parents.

          1860 Census

          In 1860, the Adkins family was enumerated at Wallace's Crossroads, Anderson, Tennessee1:
          • William Adkins, 29, M, farmer, real estate $450, personal estate $450, cannot read or write
          • Elizabeth Adkins, 26, F, cannot read or write
          • Nancy, 12, F
          • Mary, 10, F
          • Katharine, 8, F
          • Martha, 6, F
          • James, 4, M
          • John, 2, M
          • one not named, 3 months, F
          All members of this household were born in Tennessee. The family lives next door to Elisha and Nancy Disney (ages 65 & 58), and three houses away from Elisha and Nancy Disney (ages 22 & 25).

          William and Elizabeth Adkins, 1860 census, Anderson County, Tennessee

          1850 Census

          In 1850, the William and Elizabeth are in Subdivision 16, Anderson, Tennessee2:

          • William Adkins, 22, M, Farmer, Tenn
          • Elizabeth Adkins, 24, F, Tennessee, cannot read
          • Mary E, 1, F, Tennessee
          This time they are living next door to Elijah and Kindness Dizney, both age 28.

          William and Elizabeth Adkins, 1850, Anderson County, Tennessee


          • The 1860 census implies Nancy was born about 1848, while her death certificate implies she was born in 1855, providing conflicting dates. Since she is not enumerated in the 1850 census, but her sister Mary is, I believe whoever the informant was for the 1860 census mixed up the ages of Mary and Nancy.
          • Based on ages in the 1860 census, William should have been 19 and Elizabeth 16 in the 1850 census. This clearly was not the case, but all of the other William Adkins in this area of Tennessee are too young and still living at home, so this is the only family that fits. Age inconsistencies across census records are not uncommon.
          • At this time it was easy to speculate that Elizabeth Disney Adkins was related to the Disney families that she lived next to in 1850 and 1860. The elder Elisha and Nancy are candidates to be her parents, while the younger Elisha and Elijah are possibly brothers. Numerous family trees at Ancestry certainly listed these relationships, but no sources were provided. I wanted more evidence to connect my Elizabeth "Betsy" Jane Disney Adkins with Elisha and Nancy.

          1. 1850 U.S. census, Anderson County, Tennessee, population schedule, Subdivision 16, p. 30B, dwelling 423, family 423, William Adkins; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 869.
          2. 1860 U.S. census, Anderson County, Tennessee, population schedule, Wallaces Crossroads, p. 59, dwelling 845, family 845, William Adkins; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1239. 

          Sunday, April 10, 2016

          Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (On Sunday Morning!)

          Over at GeneaMusings, Randy Seaver posted a two part series of questions. I missed last week's, so this week I will answer all six questions.

          What four places did my ancestors live that are geographically the farthest from where I live today?


          • The Netherlands (Van Pelt)
          • Germany (Beem)
          • Wales (Thomas)
          • Wisconsin (Beem, Dennett)


          What are the four most unusual given names in my family tree?


          • I guess I have to start off with mine! I was named after my grandmother, Marceline Jacoups Thomas, born in St. Clair Alabama.
          • Laban Price (Melrose, Florida)
          • Elbridge Beem (Ohio & Illinois)
          • Florida Cail (Melrose, Florida)


          What are the four most common given names in my family tree?


          • William
          • Elizabeth 
          • James
          • John


          Name four places on my ancestral home bucket list I’d like to visit:


          • Wales, where my Thomas family lived before coming to Virginia in the 1600's (Plus that has always been a place I've wanted to visit - even before I got into genealogy)
          • Germany, where my Beem family  lived before coming to Pennsylvania in the mid-1700's
          • Anderson and Campbell County, Tennessee, where my grandfather's family lived in the 1800's
          • Maine, where my Dennett family lived in the 1700's and early 1800's


          What are the four most unusual surnames in your family tree?


          • Jacoups (Alabama)
          • Mashburn (North Carolina & Alabama)
          • Cail (North Carolina, Georgia, & Florida)
          • Dennett (Maine, Ohio & Wisconsin)


          Which four brick walls would you most like to smash through?


          • Laban Price - He's puzzled many of us for years. Born in Marion County, South Carolina around 1827. Married Sarah Smith, daughter of Rev. James D. Smith, in 1848. Moved to Putnam County, Florida by 1860 and died there in 1876.
          • Richard D. Horton - Born in Tennessee around 1831. Married 1) Rhoda Frost (ended in divorce) and 2) Mary J. Trail in Anderson County, Tennessee. Moved to Kentucky by 1870 and died there. I believe his mother is Rebecca, but all I have to base that on is the 1850 census.
          • Margaret Jacoups - born in Alabama about 1825. Creek Indian. Her father has been identified, but we can find nothing about her mother - not even a first name. 
          • James V. Thomas - Settled in Warrior, Alabama in the early 1800's. My mother thought she knew who his parents were, but recent DNA  testing doesn't back it up. We aren't even sure he was a Thomas now.

          Saturday, April 9, 2016

          Finding a Family for Elizabeth: Part 2, Nancy's Death Certificate

          In my previous post, I examined the death certificate for Martha Jane Adkins Horton, daughter of William and Elizabeth Adkins. For years, the only sources I had that linked Elizabeth to the Disney clan were the death certificates of Martha and her sister Nancy. A partial transcript, the full image, and a few notes on Nancy's death certificate are the topic of today's post.1


          Board of Health, City of Knoxville
          County of Knox
          State of Tennessee
          Certificate of Death
          Full Name of Decased: Nancy Horton
          Place of Death; Street: Morella Ave
          If in Suburbs, State Locality: Oakwood
          Age: 52
          Birthplace: Tenn
          Name of Father: Wm Adkins
          Birthplace o Father: Tenn
          Maiden Name of Mother: Bettie J Disney
          Birthplace of Mother: Tenn
          Date of Death: Aug 9, 1907
          Place of Burial or Removal: New Gray

          Death certificate for Nancy Horton (1907)


          1. The death certificates confirmed that Martha and Nancy were sisters. Both reveal that their mother went by the nickname "Betsy" or "Bettie," which needs to be included in searches.
          2. Marriage records for Martha and Nancy were located, but they gave only the names of the bride and groom, and the marriage date. No other relationships were given.2,3
          1. Knox, Tennessee, death certificate no. 731 (1907), Nancy Horton; Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.  
          2. Anderson County, Tennessee, Marriage Records Horton-Adkins, 1876, page 52; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 2 Apr 2016).
          3. Anderson County, Tennessee, Marriage Records, Horton-Adkins, 1876, page 58; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 2 Apr 2016).

          Thursday, April 7, 2016

          Finding a Family for Elizabeth: Part I, Martha Jane Adkins Horton


          My grandfather was from Knoxville, and his mother was born in nearby Anderson County. Early on in my genealogy journey, I could provide a paper trail establishing that William and Elizabeth Adkins were my 3rd-great-grandparents. But I soon learned that researching East Tennessee prior to 1850 can be an exercise in futility, especially for beginners who may be relying solely on census, probate, and vital record groups to establish identity. I was certainly guilty of that. Even as my research skills grew, every time I would re-visit the Adkins family, I would get frustrated with the lack of information outside of census records, and give up on them again.

          Research Goal and Plan

          Recently I decided to research this family again, this time with a specific goal in mind: Identify the parents of Elizabeth Adkins. I started by reviewing the documents I already had before establishing a research plan.

          Martha Jane Adkins

          One of the first documents I re-examined was the death certificate for Martha Jane Adkins Horton. It had been several years since I looked at it, and I wanted to reassure myself that I had placed Martha Jane - my direct ancestor -  in the correct Adkins family.

          Martha Jane died in Knoxville on 26 May 1926, and a digital copy of her death certificate is now available at Ancestry.1 A partial transcription and the full image follows:

          1. Place of Death:
              County: Knox
              City: Knoxville
          2. Full Name: Martha Jane Horton (Mrs.)
          3. Sex: Female
          4. Color or race: White
          5. Widowed
          6. Date of birth: March 24, 1853
          7. Age: 73 years, 2 months, 1 day
          8. Occupation: at home
          9. Birthplace: Tennessee
          10. Name of Father: William Atkins
          11. Birthplace of father: Tennessee
          12. Maiden name of mother: Betsy Jane Disney
          13. Birthplace of mother: Tennessee
          16. Death of death: May 26, 1926
          19. Place of burial or removal: New Gray Cemetery
                Date of burial: May 28, 1926
          Death certificate of Martha Jane Horton, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1926
          Death certificate of Martha Jane Horton, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1926

          Next up: Nancy Horton


          1. Knox County, Tennessee, death certificate no. 808 (1926), Martha Jane Horton; digital image,  "Tennessee Death Records, 1908-1958," ( : accessed 20 Dec 2015).

          Wednesday, April 6, 2016

          Nuggets in a Delayed Birth Certificate

          Tip of the Week:

          Online databases for delayed birth certificates rarely index every name on the certificate. Always examine the evidence provided at the time of application - it might just have information you need to answer your research question!

          This weekend I decided to spend time doing focused research on my Adkins family. My earliest couple in this line is William Adkins and Elizabeth Jane "Betsy" Disney, my 3rd-great grandparents. They were born in the 1820's, and were married before 1850, so they are not enumerated with their parents on any census records. They lived in Anderson County, Tennessee in 1850 and 1860, and in Campbell County in 1870. In 1880 and 1900 Elizabeth is a widow, living in Campbell County. Finding information about either of them, especially their lives before 1850, has been pretty much a fruitless effort to this point. Of their eight children, I had information about 3 of them, but had not been able to find a trace of the others after they left home, and so it is that these other five siblings (James, Sarah, John, Minerva, and Joseph) were the focus of my research last weekend.

          Near the beginning of my search, I found an application for a Tennessee delayed birth certificate for Condy Huston Dabney, filed from Saline County, Illinois in 1942.1 Among the items listed as proof for his date of birth was an affidavit from Samuel Disney. Fortunately, this affidavit was on the back of the document. Samuel gave sworn testimony that he was 73 years old, that he had known the parents of Condy (German B. & Sarah Adkins) his entire life, and that he was a cousin and neighbor to the family. This affidavit proved to be the key in unraveling the family of Elizabeth Jane Disney, which I'll share more about in a later post.

          Affidavit of Samuel Disney, 1942


          1. Tennessee State Registrar of Vital Statistics, delayed birth certificate 161658 (issued 1942), Condy Huston Dabney; digital image, "Tennessee, Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909," ( : accessed 3 Apr 2016); citing Tennessee Delayed Birth Records, 1869-1909. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives.

          Sunday, March 27, 2016

          FINALLY Get Organized! Week of March 13-19

          So I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'm on a roll now, and will finish it up before the end of the month. The tasks given to us for the week of March 13:

          1. "Consider the differences between sources, information, and evidence" - pretty straightforward, but I did a quick review of the provided articles before digging in to the rest of the assignment.
          2. Organize your thoughts and write at least one paragraph for each parent-child-spouse relationship - I started tinkering with the software Evidentia for this, and while I like the program, I found it would take me too long to use it for this task. Tonight I decided to change direction, and I wrote an ascending narrative report, as described by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I found Connie Lenzen's article especially helpful.1 I started with my paternal line, and worked back to proving the parents of my great-grandfather, Arthur M. Beem. I wound up with a completely sourced, five page document using direct evidence and a mixture of primary and secondary sources to tell my family's story.
          3. Start planning your summer vacation - Mine is already planned, and sadly,  I will not be anywhere near where my non-Florida lines lived. However, I've realized that I have neglected some research right in my own back yard, and plan to fix that this spring and summer.

          Closing Thoughts

            Once I decided on a format that works for me, I really enjoyed this assignment. I could have created a basic report in my family tree software, but typing the document myself in Word forced me to reconsider the sources, information, and evidence I used in the report.  I want to continue working on the narrative for the Beem family - flesh out a few more details, find more direct evidence and primary sources (especially for the siblings, where I have too much reliance on just the family Bible) - and add some stories.
            I have promised my Price cousins some written family history at next year's family reunion, and I now have a good format to get started. So, up next...Russell and Maude Price (aka Grandpa and Grandma Price).
            1. Lenzen, Connie. "The Maternal Line of Elizabeth (Niesz) Titus" ( accessed 27 March 2016).

          Saturday, March 12, 2016

          Who was A.E. Harper?

          Today was our annual Price Cousin Reunion, and this year we met at the community center in Worthington Springs. This year one of our cousins, Russell, found some great family documents in his attic, and brought them to the reunion to share with the rest of the family. One of the items was a mystery, though - a Bible with the name A.E. Harper in it, and an address in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Now the Price family did not come to Melrose from New Jersey, and we aren't related to any Harper's, so the question of the day was "Who was A.E. Harper, and how did Grandma and Grandpa Price wind up with the Bible?" I love a good genealogy mystery, so you just KNOW what I did when I got home, right?

          Knowing that Russell & Maude Price had spend most of their life in Melrose, I started the search for A.E. Harper by looking at census records in Putnam County. After all, she would have to have been in this area for the Price's to wind up with her Bible. Turns out that A.E. Harper is Annie Harper. In the 1930 census of Putnam County, Florida, she is enumerated in Precinct 18 (Melrose), two houses away from Russell & Maud Price (aka Grandma and Grandpa Price).1-2 Ok, now we know she was a neighbor, but that still didn't explain the relationship which led to the Price's having the Bible.

          A Google search for Annie Harper of Melrose quickly uncovered quite a fascinating story, which in turn shed light on an old Price family story dating back to the 1920's.


          Melrose, Florida to Nyack, New York

          One of the stories handed down in the Price family tells how Russell Price was selected by his church in Melrose to attend Bible college in New York to train for the gospel ministry. He went to Nyack, but returned after just one semester, declaring he was "just a farmer." However, while he was in New York, he heard of some tent revivals in the southeast, and invited John Minder to come to Melrose, promising him a tent if he would "wear it out in Florida." Dr. Minder accepted his invitation, and had a fruitful ministry in Florida until his death 60 years later.


          The Rest of the Story

          So what does this story about Russell Price going briefly to Nyack, have to do with Annie Harper? Annie, the neighbor of Russell and Maude in 1930, was a companion to Mary Mossman and Alta Trimmier here in Melrose.3 Before coming to Melrose, Mary Mossman had established a "Faith House" in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.4 Annie, Mary and Alta would travel back to the house in New Jersey during the summer months (and really, who can blame them? I would not want to be here in the summer without an air-conditioner, either!).5

          Annie and Mary, at least, were considered religious leaders, and held Bible studies in their home.5 Annie wanted to lead a church, and had a church built on her property.3,6 Young Russell Price and his family attended the meetings led by Annie and Mary, and it was here that Russell was selected to attend Bible college in New York.5


          One Mystery Remains

          So it is that A.E. Harper, the original owner of the Bible found by Russell & Elizabeth Price in their attic, was  part of the Price family FAN club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). Not only was she a neighbor, but she was also one of the leaders in the church attended by the Price family in the 1920's, and influenced Russell to head to New York in 1919.5

          So we have now solved WHO A.E. Harper was, and why she was important to Russell & Maude, but we still do not know how Maude came to be in possession of the Bible. Annie outlived Maude by one year, so Maude did not "inherit" it upon Annie's death.7-8


          Final Thoughts - Lessons Learned

          One of my goals for 2016 is to Finally Get Organized! In following DearMyrt's task lists, we have spent time reviewing our documents and ensuring we have done a comprehensive search for each generation. (Do we ever really complete that last part?) Our tasks so far have not had me looking at the Price family files yet, but I now know I have not really studied the FAN club. Because Melrose was such a small community, and almost everyone is related somehow, it is easy to ignore that part. However, it should be noted that Melrose had numerous families who were here only during the winter months, and these families interacted with the year-round residents. They attended the same churches, joined the same clubs, and their children went to school together. Even though they were not blood relatives, these winter residents played a major role in the history of the Price family. By studying the lives of Annie Harper, Mary Mossman and Alta Trimmier, I have a better appreciation for the broader social and cultural history that shaped my family - and indeed, still plays a significant role even today.


          1. 1930 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 18 (Melrose), enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 1A, p. 16 (stamped), dwelling 8, family 8, Russell A. Price; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 15 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 332.

          2. 1930 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 18 (Melrose), enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 1A, p. 16 (stamped), dwelling 10, family 10, Annie Harper; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 12 Mar 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 332.

          3. Kelly, Patrick. "Threat to Iconic Mossman Home Helps Unite Melrose." The Gainesville Sun. 14 November 2013. accessed 12 Mar 2016.

          4. Healing and Revival Press. Healing in Ocean Grove: Biography of Mary Mossman. 2005. Accessed 12 Mar 2016.

          5. Minder, Lorene. John Minder - A Man Sent from God: History of His Ministry in the S.E. District of the C&MA. St. Louis: Creative Concepts. 1988.

          6. Alachua County Historical Commission. Walking Map of Historical Area. accessed 12 Mar 2016.

          7. Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 12 March 2016), memorial pages for Annie E. Harper (1875-1971)  Find A Grave Memorial no. 81909101, citing Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Putnam County, Florida.

          8. Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 12 March 2016), memorial pages for Maude E. Price (1892-1970)  Find A Grave Memorial no. 81913127, citing Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Putnam County, Florida.

          Monday, February 29, 2016

          FINALLY Get Organized! February 14-28

          I'm still working my way through the 200+ newspaper articles discussed in my last post, plus I've had a lot of other things going on, so I didn't write a blog post for the week of February 14. That week was focused on citations...reviewing what we have already done, getting familiar with the sourcing feature of our software program, and reading a couple of articles. I have always been a stickler for source citations, and use that feature of Legacy quite extensively. In fact, the first week we worked on our surname, part of my review was to update all of my older citations using SourceWriter. So that week I read the required articles, and continued working through the newspaper citations.

          For the week February 21-27, we were to focus on our ancestor's siblings. My father was an only child, so that generation was a cinch! My grandfather had four sisters, and I did manage to record the information I have on them. I am missing some marriage information and obituaries, so those are on the to-do list for future research. My great-grandfather, Arthur Beem, and his parents and siblings are the focus of those 200+ newspaper articles. I am missing some marriage and death dates for some of Arthur's siblings, and those are now also on the list for future research, if I don't find the information in the newspaper articles.

          Overall, this month has been more challenging, in large part because of the mother lode of information I am still processing. It's been fun, and I've learned a great deal about my grandfather's side of the family. Some of the new information raises a lot of questions for further research. I'm also waiting on a reply about Arthur's Spanish-American War Pension record, which will hopefully answer a question or two...and probably raise even more questions!

          Sunday, February 14, 2016

          FINALLY Get Organized! February 7-13

          This week's focus in getting organized is learning how to use the Genealogical Proof Standard - or GPS - in our analysis. I've read about and viewed webinars on the GPS before, so it's not an entirely new concept for me. I've even attempted to use it in writing about a couple of thorny research problems, and found it a great help in clarifying my thoughts. This week's task list:
          1. Print out and study the synopsis of the GPS Genealogical Proof Standard published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists: This is one of the articles I have previously read on the topic. I did read it again, but I have to admit I did not spend a lot of time pouring over it.
          2. View selected videos discussing Evidence Explained, specifically the first chapter on evidence analysis (links to videos are on DearMyrtle's blog post for this week): There were two videos, covering about 2 1/2 hours, and I watched them both on Friday morning after reading Chapter 1 of Evidence Explained. I'm not one to just sit and watch tv, so I did do some light housework and other things while I watched. I found the discussions quite good, and it gave me some ideas for the next task.
          3. Make research notes on your to-do list where you now realize your evidence is weak: I started this on Friday, and continued the list on Saturday as I had more ideas. 

           Letter to Santa, published on December 16, 1911
          in the Journal Gazette (Mattoon, IL)


          While working on task #3, I realized I was missing newspaper articles - obits, wedding announcements, etc.  I started looking at the various newspaper databases for one that carried papers from Mattoon, Illinois, where my great-grandfather was raised, and found some at I took out a one-week trial, expecting to find a few articles here and there, and really just hoping for obituaries for my great-grandfather's siblings. Boy, was I in for a suprise! Turns out that my family was mentioned in the social columns frequently. Some members ran for political office. My great-grandfather's brothers were railroad engineers, and there are weekly columns with railroad news. I can almost pinpoint when any of these guys took a day off! So far I've covered a 17 year period, and I have over 200 newspaper articles! Some of the more interesting tidbits:
          • My great-grandfather, Arthur Beem, was in the Spanish-American war, and his military record contains a letter from his sister asking him to come home because their brother was sick. The newspaper had several articles about the brother's illness, at one point noting that Arthur was, indeed, back home because of it.
          • Arthur's uncle, William, was a local politician, and at one point the paper published a brief biography about William. This has helped me be more precise about a couple of research questions, including when the family first moved from Ohio to Illinois.
          • In their later years, Arthur's parents returned to Ohio for an extended visit with family. Neat find!  
           News about railroad employees, published October 19, 1904
          in the Mattoon Daily Journal (Mattoon, Illinois)

          My challenge is to continue -and complete! -  downloading articles on the family before my trial period ends next weekend. After that, I will create an index, transcribe, and cite the articles in my Legacy file. I have the feeling this second step is going to be a project that takes me most of the year to complete.

            Wednesday, January 27, 2016

            FINALLY Get Organized! January Recap

            Back in December, the FINALLY Get Organized! series was announced on DearMyrtle. I quickly knew that this was something I really need, and am hopeful that breaking this mammoth project down into smaller, weekly goals would help me get my genealogy papers under control. So far, so good. I've actually stuck with it for the first month, and if nothing else happens, at least my desk is now under control! (Now, if only my office at work was this neat....but I digress.)

            I have limited space, so instead of using binders, I am changing to hanging files. I'm also scanning everything, and saving only a few selected documents in the hanging files.

            Wedding picture Nella Beem and Arthur Critchett, 1974


            One of my biggest challenges this month was deciding where to store my digital files and creating a naming system for them. I finally decided to put all of my genealogy files in my Dropbox, so I can access them no matter where I am. From there, I have one subdirectory per surname, where I put all of my documents. Each surname has folder has only one subdirectory, for photos. The file naming system I finally settled on is:


            This groups all of one person's files together, sorted chronologically. For family records, such as the census, I use only the head of household in the file name.

            Thomas Dilemma

            If this week's assignment was any indication, we will be working on our maternal grandfather's family next week. My mother has researched her family for over 30 years, and I have very little of it in my Legacy file. I need to decide fairly quickly whether I'm going to start documenting her work now, or skip it and focus on other things those weeks. For now I'm leaning towards adding her research to Legacy bit by bit, and started by adding my aunts and uncles - all 10 of them! 

            Final Thoughts

            I'm so happy that DearMyrtle is doing this! I tend to have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to big projects, and usually "nothing" wins.  Organizing genealogy files - defines big project. Nothing has definitely won so far. (Hello, Captain Obvious!). With FINALLY Get Organized!, the weekly task lists are manageable, and if you want to use a different storage method, easily adaptable to the system that works for you. This approach is also forcing me to re-evaluate the work I've already done, and I'm finding documents that need to be ordered and new research questions. Now that I'm FINALLY Getting Organized, I am keeping track of those documents and research questions in Legacy, making my research system more organized, too!

            FINALLY Get Organized! Week 4

            This was, for me, another easy week, which I finished up last night (Tuesday!) while I watched a basketball game.

            1. Index at FamilySearch - I did some indexing for the 1940 census, and off and on since, but then I decided to go back to school, and well, genealogy of any sort came to a screeching halt for two years. It took me a bit to download the software and remember how to use it, but then I remembered that I do enjoy indexing. So, I've set some goals for both indexing and arbitrating, and I will work on both when I'm watching sports or not motivated to work on my genealogy research.
            2. Learn how to browse records at FamilySearch - I do this routinely, especially with the probate records, which for the most part are not indexed yet (not the states I need, anyways). It's nice to be able to look at records without having to travel several states away to view the records I need.
            3. Create surname binders for mother's maiden name - I created my hanging files and labelled some manila files for the Thomas surname. 
            4. Update genealogy programs to include siblings - this was done a long time ago, and with only 2 brothers, it didn't take long to verify that I had all of their information updated 

            Saturday, January 23, 2016

            FINALLY Get Organized! Week 3

            I had a busy week, and knew I'd be out of town for a conference over the weekend. I honestly wasn't sure how I would manage to get anything accomplished this week, especially if DearMyrtle's FINALLY Get Organized! task list for Week 3 was as involved as Week 2. Fortunately, this week's list was, for me, fairly basic: transcribe every source document you documented in Week 2, and then refile them. Since I am going digital, I made sure I had all of my documents in my Dropbox folder, and once I finally settled on a naming scheme, changed the names as needed. I had transcribed all of those city directories last week, plus a lot of the other documents, so I was ahead of the game this week. I wound up needing to transcribe a couple of death certificates, a family Bible record, and a couple of other certificates. Easily done, and since I already had all of these scanned into Dropbox, I used those images to do the transcriptions and did not need to refile the physical copies.

            Saturday, January 16, 2016

            FINALLY Get Organized - Week 2

            Late last year, I stumbled on FINALLY Get Organized!, a year-long project to organize genealogy papers and digital files in 2016. I really need to work on getting 18 years worth of files organized and digitized, as well as updating my Legacy file. Although the FINALLY Get Organized! method uses binders, I had already decided to change from binders to hanging files, and will stick to that method. (I need more room on the bookcase for books, so moving to a filing cabinet makes more sense given my limited space.)

            Week 2 Checklist:
            • This week's task was to document and file your surname's lines, back to your great-grandfather. Since I'm using hanging files instead of binders, I labelled a hanging file and set up manila files for my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I knew I had been lazy about my parents and grandparents, and got the documentation for those generations finished up early in the week. My great-grandparents, Arthur & Frances (Horton) Beem, were another matter, though. I had about 15 years of city directories from Jacksonville, Florida that needed to be documented in Legacy. Talk about tedious! Doing this, though, I realized that they moved almost every year between 1924-1944, when Frances died. I also have several documents that I need to order, and have started with Arthur's Spanish-American War pension file. Fortunately it is still with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which makes it a lot more affordable than if it was with NARA. After Frances died, Arthur went to Mexico, so I don't have a lot of any information about the last 10 years of his life. The only documentation I have for his death is from a family Bible record. I'm hoping the pension file will show where he lived in Mexico, and provide further evidence for the death date in the Bible. 
            • Part of my journey in getting organized is to switch to digital records as much as possible, so I scanned or downloaded each of my source documents. Now the only paper files I have for these four generations of Beems are photos and unique documents that I can't get elsewhere, such as my dad's ordination certificate. I've printed detailed family group sheets for each of these generations, and placed those in the appropriate manila file. 
            • The last two tasks are to write up a summary of your filing system (both paper and digital), and to write a "genealogy" codicil to your will. I've written the summaries, but I don't have a will, since I don't really have any assets. Instead, I've written a brief set of instructions on what I want done with my research, and will send them to two family members that I trust to follow through. I've also placed a printed copy of all of these documents in the hanging file folder that has my pedigree charts, which sits at the front of the filing cabinet. 

            My dad, John Beem, 1967

            Jacksonville (Florida) City Directory, 1938, showing my grandparents (John & Juanita Beem)
            and my great-grandparents (Arthur & Frances Beem)

            Other Notes:

            I'm not very good at keeping to-do lists or research logs, which given my task-oriented nature, is kind of strange. I'm trying to do better with that, so as I worked in Legacy this week, I created to-do items for each generation. I also found some research log forms that I like, and have placed a copy in each manila folder. Now as I research a family, I can keep a written log of what I have looked at and the results.

            City directories are great resources, but documenting each year can get tedious! I did a couple of years at a time, and by Friday night I had 15 years of directories fully documented, including transcriptions in the source documentation. Even though this week's task was not focused on siblings, it was easy to add the listings for my grandfather's sisters with Legacy's source clipboard, so their entries are documented as well - at least up until they got married.