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.