Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Nancy Ann Barber (1822 GA-1887 AL)

Smyrna Baptist Cemetery, Dothan, Houston County, Alabama

Nancy Ann (Barber) Thompson (1822-1887) is one of my 32 (yes, 32!) 3rd great-grandparents.  Does that number seem high?  Never thought about it before?  Folks, make sure to look at THIS WEBSITE and let the math blow your mind.

Back to Mrs. Thompson.  I realize that I have members of both my immediate family and my husband's family (maybe?) reading this blog...and the many family lines can get a little crazy.  Nancy Ann (Barber) Thompson is related to my HUGHES family through my grandfather (Alto) and his mother (Hattie Bruner - 1881-1966) and then Hattie's mother, Mary Thompson (1848-1892).  Nancy Ann (Barber) Thompson is Mary Ann (Barber) Thompson's mother.  Nancy married Theophilus Thompson (1820-1877), and they lived first in Gadsden County, Florida (this is where Nancy's father, William Barber (1792-?) owned a considerably large farm.  Both Barber and Thompson families lived in close proximity to each other in Gadsden County and also migrated just a bit north together to what is now Houston County, Alabama (at that time it was Henry County).  One of my side projects at the moment has been to dig into the land and personal property records of William Barber and track the family's migration from Decatur County, GA to Gadsden County, Florida and lastly to Henry County, Alabama.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Family Recipe Friday: Banana Sandwich

This post isn't so much about a "recipe" as it is about a legend.  The Banana Sandwich.  OR - the 'nana sandwich.  Have you experienced this wonderfully simple sandwich?  Were you thinking peanut butter or fluff...and are now completely grossed out by the suggestion of mayonnaise?  Don't fear the mayo!  Trust me.  It's a winning combination.

Just ask Matt LeCroy of the Washington Nationals.  Obviously banana sandwiches didn't help his team make it to the World Series...but at least he gave the Southern delicacy a little press.

The truth of the matter is...this wonderful pairing of bread, thinly-sliced bananas, and mayonnaise is part of my family identity.  Only one of my parents actually eats banana sandwiches (HI Dad!).  At least I think so (Hi Mom!  I don't think I've ever seen you eat one...).  I *believe* this is a Southern tradition, and I will do my very best to promote this culinary tradition in my own home.

If you have ever watched an episode of "Finding Your Roots" on PBS, you'll be familiar with the host - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. - asking his guests, "Who do you say are your 'people'?"

My "people" definitely eat banana sandwiches with mayo.  No question!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

George Smith (1813-1890) and Henrietta (Ferree) Smith (1821-1902)

Just yesterday, I wrote about my mother's SMITH family and their Indiana beginnings.  I also mentioned my 3rd great-grandfather George SMITH (1813-1890), son of John Smith and Jane Wayne (or Wain, as listed in her marriage record in Yorkshire, England).  Here are a few additional images & finds for George:

1.  Photo of George Smith (1813-1890) found on the Ewbank-Smith Family research website. 

2.  Burial site for George Smith and wife Henrietta Ferree Smith.  Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan.  (FindAGrave)

3.  Marriage license and certificate for George Smith and Henrietta Ferree.  1 September 1844, Dearborn County, Indiana.  Officiant - Ezekial F. Stiles of Milan, Indiana.
Source: "Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXTS-186 : accessed 14 Oct 2014), George Smith and Henrietta E Ferree, 01 Sep 1844; citing Dearborn County; FHL microfilm 001313299.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Early Dearborn County Indiana: John and Jane (Wayne/Wain) Smith

From my mother's SMITH family line: John Smith (1778-1860) and Jane (Wayne/Wain) Smith (1778-1863)
 Source HERE

 In The History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana : from their earliest settlement(1885), there is a short biography of my 4th great-grandparents John Smith (1778-1860) and Jane (Wayne) Smith (1778-1863).  Both are considered some of the earliest pioneers of the State of Indiana, having emigrated from Thirsk, Yorshire, England in 1818.  More information on the early settlers in Indiana can be found on the website for The Society of Indiana Pioneers.

Most of the genealogical information about John and Jane smith circulating online stems from a family history book published by Henry Nowlin in 1938 entitled John and Jane Smith Family.  Anyone interested in viewing the original document on microfilm can request it through the LDS library HERE.  

Here is an excerpt: 
John Smith (1778-1860) was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, England. He married Jane Wayne (1778-1863). In 1818 John with his family, including his wife, children and mother came to America and landed at Alexandria, Virginia. Later, they moved to Guilford, Indiana and farmed land there. His mother Elizabeth Brown Smith (1750-1823) was the sister of Christopher Brown (1766-1846) who also came to America and built many houses on Tanners Creek at Guilford. John and Jane were the parents of ten children. Six generations of Smith family members are buried in the East Fork Cemetery at Guilford.
 ...John Smith crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel and reached Alexandria, VA, in July 1818. Before leaving England for the unknown wilderness he had a tailor come to the house and make clothing to last for several years. In England salt was taxed and was a luxury. One of their first experiences was sending for a penny’s worth of salt, and the shop keeper gave the child a penny’s worth of salt without charge. They stayed in Alexandria some weeks, but found that their English knee breeches marked them as from the old country so they discarded the carefully prepared clothes, determined to be Americans and wear American clothes. He had a partner, a Mr. Belle, but left him and came out west. They crossed the mountains to Pittsburgh and there loaded their goods on a flat-boat and came down the river, reaching Lawrenceburg in October 1818, and came out to the English settlement near Guilford. He bought and built a log cabin about two miles north of Guilford on the NE Quarter of Section 12, Township 6 North, Range 2 West of the 1st principal meridian. After he had been here for a time he made the journey back to Alexandria for money he had left there. He was an expert horseman. During this trip he was in a storm of sleet so that when his overcoat was removed it stood alone.
The house they built was a double log house, each room about 18 x 20 feet, with a dark hall between in which was a stairway to a loft over each room. Each room had a fireplace, and two windows to the south. A porch ran the length of the house and was paved with stones set on edge. On the south side of the house was a walk with stones laid flat. He also built a log barn and paved around it with stones set on edge.

John Smith was of a pleasant, genial disposition and quite social; he was fond of music and an excellent singer. He, with his family, joined the Methodist class, known as Ewbank class, and were useful members of the church, and ably assisted in building East Fork Church in 1821

From page # 979 of The History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, I noted the following about John and Jane Smith:

JOHN SMITH, one of the first settlers of Miller Township, came there from Yorkshire, England, in 1818, and settled near Guilford, on the east branch of Tanner’s Creek, there being ten children in the family.  The family were of pure English blood, the ancestors tracing their lineage from the British island.  Mr. Smith entered land (or purchased it from the government at $1.25 per acre), and resided upon the same until his death.  William Smith, the eldest son, lived and died in Dearborn County.  He married Ann Ewbank, and reared six children to maturity.  He died in 1874; his wife in 1865.  His son, David E., was born in Dearborn County in 1821; grew up a farmer; married Martha Grubbs in 1844, and reared twelve children to maturity, viz: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary L. Honor, Laura M., and Jarius (twins), Jonathan G., George M., Eva, Scott, and Ira C., all yet living.  The father died in 1875; the mother still surviving in her fifty-ninth year.  Mr. Smith was a thrifty farmer, owning 200 acres of land at his death, and an esteemed citizen.  His son, William J. Smith, is elsewhere mentioned in this work.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana : from their earliest settlement : containing a history of the counties, their c [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana : from their earliest settlement : containing a history of the counties, their cities, townships, towns, villages, schools, and churches, reminiscences, extracts, etc., local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, biographies, preliminary chapters on the history of the North-west Territory, the state of Indiana, and the Indians.. Chicago: F.E. Weakley & Co., 1885.

Their son George H. Smith (1813-1890) is my 3rd great-grandfather:


Early pioneers of Indiana...interesting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Those Places" Thursday: Houston County, Alabama

Have you browsed through census documents, vital records, or city directories and wondered exactly what your relatives' hometown looked like?  Where did your loved ones live, work, and play?  For today's "Those Places" topic, I chose a very broad one...Houston County, Alabama.  The majority (possibly all?  will have to check) of my father's family lived in this area of Southeastern Alabama at some point. 

I have visited before, but only a few times...and on at least one of those trips I spent an hour or so walking, bent over at the waist, scouring a freshly plowed field for Native American artifacts.  During high school, I participated in a summer archaeology program through Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta...working alongside their resident anthropologist and his team.  Identifying pottery shards and points became second nature to me.  My dream was to become an archaeologist.  Deep down, that dream never died :).  Just ask my husband.  We are within a year from moving back to Williamsburg, VA...and I always joke that wherever we live I will just "casually" have to dig a unit (I mean square foot garden) in our backyard.  Nap time will be spent digging, sifting, looking for dark spots indicating trash pits.  But I digress.

While digging through the online collection at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, I came across this folder of writing from the Alabama Writer's Project - a Works Progress Administration project.  This New Deal agency between 1936-1940 employed "actors, painters, musicians and writers...through the Federal Theater Project, the Federal Art Project and the Federal Writers’ Project" (Alabama Digital Archives). 

The folder is entitled "Folklore" and contains three fascinating stories about Houston County, Alabama.  Two of legend...one (shown above) general description.  Access the complete article HERE.

Remembering my sweaty, dusty walks through fields in Gordon near my grandparent's home.  Remembering those who lived in and cherished Southeastern Alabama before any of my blood relatives arrived. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To DNA test or not to DNA test...what's your opinion?

Castle Garden in New York, 1840 (precursor to Ellis Island) - Library of Congress

Genetic genealogy.

This phrase is simultaneously overwhelming and magical for me.  My angst comes from not enough time to devote to learn, grow my understanding, and fully digest all that this field has for newbie genealogists like me (hello, life...I need about 4 extra hours in my day strategically placed after children are asleep at night).  Excitement comes from the obvious: discovering what I don't know I don't know.

I was recently asked to give a short talk about my foray into DNA research at our weekly meeting for amateur family researchers in our community.  Talk about angst!  Overwhelming!  Wanting to shout from the rooftops, "I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing!"

No shouting was involved (thank goodness) - just a bit of sharing.  Both my husband, my mother, and I have tested with AncestryDNA.  My dear husband has also tested with 23andMe.  Two very different motivating factors led us to submit samples for testing.  For myself - just sheer curiosity and wanting to discover how my DNA ethnicity would match my "paper" tree.  For my husband - a desire to track down the birth family of a paternal great-grandfather, Joseph William Daly (1869-1934) who was orphaned as a young boy.  Here is an article I wrote last year about our AncestryDNA results.

In the past year, we have experienced so many research twists and turns thanks to our DNA results...which provide cousin "matches" and contact info for people with whom you share matching bits of chromosomes.  The Ancestry.com product isn't nearly as robust as others (FamilyTreeDNA, for example), but it has given us a comfortable jumping-off point for learning.

Have we solved any of our lingering mysteries?  Not yet, but we're definitely closer on the Joseph Daly question.  Ironically enough, I have communicated via email with at least two other contacts through AncestryDNA and GedMatch.com who were adopted and are in search of birth families OR have immediate relatives who were orphaned at birth.  Fascinating and mind-melting.

SO - onward, ho.  Here is a fantastic article from one of my favorite genealogy blogs - The Legal Genealogist - reflecting her thoughts on DNA testing.  Is it the end-all-be-all?  Should it be considered on equal footing as a true paper "source"?  Give this a read: "Leaping into the Unknown".

Happy hunting!

Tombstone Tuesday: Nels N. Melvey and Ingeborg (Johannesdatter) (Winger) Melvey

Glad to be back in the swing of things after the break!  One of the easiest ways for me to resume writing is to follow the daily prompts from Geneabloggers...and start off with "Tombstone Tuesday".  

Nels Nelson Melvey (1867-1942) and Ingeborg (Johannesdatter Winger) Melvey (1864-1952).  Buried at Riverside Cemetery, Moorhead, Clay County, Minnesota. 

*Photo credit: Suzanne McConn (Hi Suzanne!!  You're awesome!)

You'll notice the discrepancy between the birth date listed on the grave stone for Ingeborg (1865) and the one I have listed in my records (7 February 1864).  The birth date I have in my database is directly from her birth record from her home church - Vinger Church - in Norway.  Source HERE.  I have no great explanation for the error, other than that it was probably misinformation transferred from parent to child.  Her death record from Seattle, King County, Washington indicates "about 1865".  I'll stick with the original church record :).

Glad to be writing again!