Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday's Memories

The Eley Family from Drew County, Arkansas

Robert Lawrence Eley was born 15 March 1857 in Lacy, Drew County, Arkansas. Robert Lawrence married Theodocia Hamby 13 Nov 1880 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. Robert Lawrence died 29 Aug 1929 in Rayville, Richland Parish, Louisiana. Robert Lawrence Eley was youngest son of Robert Lawrence Eley, Sr. He was the brother of  Joseph "Joe" Eley oldest child of Robert Lawrence Eley, Sr. Robert Lawrence Eley, Jr. is interred in the Horn Cemetery in Rayville, Richland Parish, Louisiana. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday’s Tip

Online Family Trees as Proof

Family history research has been a fascinating and rewarding journey and a fun filled hobby that has kept me involved since I retired several years ago. Since I began researching family over fifteen years ago there have been new records, tools and research methods made available for researchers. Research methods that have been tested and tried by others are valuable for anyone who is researching family. Family history is about sharing, connections and collaboration. Where would family history research be if we didn’t share with others making those important family connections? However, as it is with any project there are those who take the short cut in researching family. It is easy to grab information from others family trees and claim it as our own. We must be cautious in using information from online family trees.

There is nothing, in genealogical research, more frustrating than to search for an ancestor and then the search result comes up and the source is an online family tree. Then to top that off there are numerous family trees with the same information in their tree with no sources to back up the information. I have found while looking through my DNA match list the same method is used in those family trees when there is a tree available. Recently I had a match on my Burnett line and was excited to see that match. When I looked at the family tree it was exactly like all the other family trees online. A very frustrating discovery. Also, the DNA circles with the same information that others have in their family trees. It is a cycle that continues to be repeated. It would be a very exciting to discovery to find a match that would have one record that will link Jordan Lee to his parents, and have the probate record or any record as proof of the parentage.

There are family trees that have parents too young to have children, and children attached to parents where there is no proof of the parentage. There are family trees with people married to the incorrect spouse, and they use a marriage record of a child to prove the marriage of their parents. Also, there are some parents who have sixteen children and some with the same names. Will this trend of errors, inconsistencies or copying of trees ever end? Probably not! It is much easier to copy the information and claim it as your own than to take the time to research your ancestors and prove they are your ancestors.

One important thing that a good family historian will do is be sure that the ancestor researched is their ancestor and there is proof of it. You do that by research and proof of accuracy.

Research your ancestor and find all available records for the period in which you are researching. Make sure the information is accurate. An online family tree isn’t a record; however, those trees may be used as a guide in finding records to prove your ancestry.

When I began researching over fifteen years ago I had very little information on my Lee family. I didn’t know my grandmother’s name, other than she was Granny Eley. My sister who is ten years older than me knew she was Alice Lee married to a Jack Eley. She knew that Granny was born in Alabama. She also knew Granny’s mother’s name and where she was married. With that information I began my journey into genealogical research.

I visited Daddy’s only living sibling, Gladys, to gather information from her, only to find out she didn’t know anything other than Granddaddy Eley had a brother who lived in Rayville in Richland Parish. Which proved to be inaccurate information. The brother was Granddaddy Eley’s uncle, his father’s brother. Aunt Gladys also told me that families didn’t talk and share information. That was a disappointing visit and I wasn’t sure that my aunt was being honest with me and she didn’t want to give out information. About a year later I made another visit to see if I could get her to talk any more about our family, but that visit didn’t produce any more information. She died a few months later so all that history is gone forever. My quest continued in the search to learn about the Lee family.

I turned to online family trees and looked through the family trees that had records such as census, marriage, death, cemetery, land records, and any other records that would help prove this to be my family line. Those online family trees helped in locating records in proving the family link. This was a project that took time and energy. I carefully examined the records making sure this was my ancestor’s record. Those were the days before the mass collection of online data bases. This was during the era of courthouse trips, walking cemeteries, and going to repositories where your ancestor lived. However, the rules for using reliable and accurate information in your research are the same regardless of the period in which you are researching.

Family history research has been a journey where I have not been satisfied until I know I have exhausted all searches for information on my family lines. I have used all available resources to research family, connected with new cousins and reconnected with long ago cousins. Connecting with new cousins and reconnecting with cousins have helped in getting their family’s stories, photos, and records. They have provided valuable information for their families.

My desire is that my family tree is as accurate as any family historian can be when using the standards of research in proving their ancestry.

Pleas Rodden, a farmer plowing with his mule team in 
West Carroll Parish, Louisiana early 1900s.
Ronnie Ainsworth shared it in

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This Genealogist's Christmas Wish

My Christmas Wish
Written by Esther Eley Jones
12 Dec 2013

Dear Santa,

Genealogists have unusual wishes,
As you will see.
But this is my Christmas list,
With this year’s new gist.
I am searching for my Lee ancestor,
And have not found him still.
He moved from place to place and didn’t leave a trail,
So, Santa I think this ancestor must have been very frail,
Because he left no will,
If only he had left a will,
And had not been such a pill.
He seemed to evade the census takers,
And was not a mover and shaker,
Although he was a farmer,
He didn’t own any land,
So, Santa, please help me out here
By finding this elusive man.
Others are searching for him,
So, I ask you Santa, to find him if you can.
Santa, I know you can find him,
Because you travel throughout this land.
All I want for Christmas is the father of Jordan Lee,
I have searched and searched and searched and he is hard see.
And he has been alluding me,
For, for too long.
So, come on Santa bring this man home.
If only I could have him, I would feel very strong.
Another desire of life
Is to find him and his wife.
But, I will need their birthdates
Also, where they were born.
Because if I don’t get that wish, I may become forlorn.
Santa, my heart is yearning
For all this family history learning.
Too know my 4th great grandparents,
Will fill my heart with joy,
So please Santa,
Fulfill a genealogist’s dream,
By completing my Lee team.
Then I will be content for Christmas
And can begin another quest.
For that is no gest.

Merry Christmas to all
And Happy Ancestor Hunting!

Harvesting Oats in Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Photo from Ronnie Ainsworth from the group, You Knew You Grew Up in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Remembering the Moment

Silent Thoughts

No farewell words were spoken,

I only knew my heart was broken,

As there was no time to hold her hand,

No time to comfort her as she was rolled away,

Although I knew she was in GOD’s hands,

And only HE knew HIS plans.

Our prayers and comfort for her continued,

And I knew that HE would hear,

My soft-spoken words for this one so dear.

Our hearts are heavy now,

And our tears will flow,

Saying goodbye to my beloved one,

Is more difficult than anyone will know…

In Memory of Mary Ann McKinnie Eley, My Sister-in-law
By Esther Eley Jones
December 11, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Finding Family - Lost Memories

Finding a Lost Family – Genetic Genealogy

1956 Ann age 6, Bonnie 5, and Betty 3 
Picture from the personal collection Betty.
Genetic genealogy and genealogical research are tools that work together to find ancestors and prove our linage back many generations. This has been proven in researching my paternal and maternal line ancestors. Although I had little information to go on researching both lines has been successful. When DNA testing was introduced as a tool for family historians I, like many others, jumped on board, and have tested with all three testing companies, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry DNA . I submitted my first sample in April 2012. I also tested twelve family members with the Family Finder autosomal DNA test with Family Tree DNA. My brother volunteered to submit his sample for the YDNA test, and another paternal Lee cousin submitted his for the YDNA to prove the Lee lineage. I have tested with 23andMe Testing Company and Ancestry DNA and have found new cousins on both those sites.

Using the test results and contacting matches from these testing companies I have proven several family surnames on both sides of my family lines. However, as with any tool, one can’t say that it is one hundred percent effective. There are about three surnames that are rather “iffy” – Carmack, Mason, and Smith. But the work continues.

Although I have used DNA testing for proving my lineage, DNA testing is also used for another very important group of people – adoptees. As far as I know up to this point in researching family, there are no known legal or private adoptions. There are children that were taken in by families or given the surname of a husband when a mother married. Such was the case in my family with my father. The process of determining origin and family history for adoptees can be a daunting task.

The autosomal DNA test was used to connect a cousin in-law with her biological sisters and a brother. Her story is one that has been a journey of skill, patience, endurance, and perseverance.

In 1956 three Williams sisters were placed in foster care in West Monroe. Betty was three-years-old at the time of placement, Bonnie was five years old, and Roberta Ann was six years old. A fourth sister, Sandra, was privately adopted. The sisters lost touch completely with each other. The parents of the Williams children were Robert Williams and Evelyn.

The three children were declared abandoned by the court in 1959, and were placed for adoption, and were separated by adoption. They tried, but were unsuccessful in locating each other over the years. However, not one to be defeated Betty and the sisters finally found each other.

Armed with a photo that was taken when Betty was five years old, Betty set out with the help of a volunteer search angel to find her five sisters. She decided to put her story on eBay and it would be called “Lost Memories.” For five dollars you got the picture of the three girls and the story of their life. Betty has said, “The picture was all that I had to hold on to.” The reason for doing that was to get her story out there so people would see it and maybe the right person would find it. Another source to help in making the public aware of the story was the Monroe paper who heard of it and ran an article about the girls.

Search angels are volunteers who devote their time to helping families reunite with their biological families. There were several methods used in finding information online in the search. Also, there were those who provided tips for the information they needed to look for in the search. It is helpful to have someone who can provide information that will help you to know what to look for in the search.

Using various resources to search for the siblings, four of the sisters have been reunited. Bonnie was the first one to be reunited with her sister, Betty. They finally were together again after being separated over fifty years ago. They remembered they had an older sister and two younger sisters who were adopted about the time they were placed in Foster Care. Sandra was the next sister they found. She lived in West Monroe. The oldest sister, Ann, was the last one to be found and she lived in New Orleans. The search for sister number five continues.

The Williams children had very little information to go on in their search to be reunited. The picture was important in putting together a story to place on eBay and non-identifying documents with information provided was used with caution in the search. The sisters said they know their mother was born in Lafayette and was a waitress and a cook. She went to school until she was twelve years old. They believe their mother apparently suffered a nervous breakdown around the time three of the sisters were put into foster care. The sisters said they believe their mother suffered from a nervous breakdown, brought on by the death of their baby brother, Robert Lee Williams. Also, financial struggles might have also had been a motivator for their abandonment. Their father, Robert Williams, apparently was a truck driver and mechanic and had no schooling.

There is a special surprise just in time for Christmas for Betty and her siblings. Ancestry DNA matched a male to the DNA of the Williams girls and they now have a biological brother they were not aware of who exists. They have corresponded and plan to share their story with their new-found brother.

The search for sister number five continues and an update will be posted when she is found.If you would like to read their story you can find it here. There is another story from a television station that picked up the story. You can watch the video here.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday's Hints

Connecting with Our Ancestors Who Left a Little Paper Trail

A family without a paper trail is difficult to research, to prove, and to make sure we have the correct ancestor in our family tree. The Lee family from South Carolina has proven to be a family who left a minuscule of a paper trail as they journeyed from South Carolina to Alabama. One might say,” be thankful for the censuses and land record that the family left;” however, proving them to be my ancestors have been a monumental task.

Some of my ancestors, such as the paternal Meadows line, left a paper trail and are easily researched. But as most family historians know not every ancestor leaves a large trail of records leading to them. Some ancestors may only have census entries and land records. An ancestor may be one who was listed on a census one year, missing on the next census, or may have disappeared altogether. There may be a land record for a given year then after that the ancestor is nowhere to found. Such is the case with my second great grandfather Benjamin Lee.

On rare occasions our ancestors may have lived in counties where the courthouse burned, and the records burned with the courthouse. Perhaps your ancestors were mysterious people and lived to themselves and didn’t interact in a community; or just wanted to be left alone. Whatever the reasons, for our ancestors being difficult to locate, researching them is a possibility. There are a few hints that may help in finding our ancestors. I have found that DNA testing, connecting with cousins, looking at naming patterns, and researching collateral kin help in identifying our ancestors and proving they are the correct ancestor.

DNA testing is a tool that is used to prove family lines, and a way to connect with living cousins. Using DNA testing with genealogical paper trail I have proven surname lines. I have also found there are some family secrets that are uncovered using the DNA test results. So, be aware of that when DNA testing. For whatever reason, families did not discuss openly or publicly family events or problems as they are in the twenty-first century. Keep in mind there may be a NPE or misattributed birth in your family. I found out from the YDNA test results that the person who I thought was his father wasn’t his father. This is also true when I found a marriage record for my father’s sister. To my surprise, the prospective groom had been married before marrying my aunt. That was a well-kept secret that was uncovered by getting a copy of their marriage record, so their marriage date could be verified. The great thing when you connect with living cousins they may have pictures, family stories, or documents to share with you. DNA testing may put those family stories to rest that have been shared from generation to generation.

Primogeniture applied only to real property, not to personal property. Throughout the colonial period, all of the land of an intestate person in the southern colonies passed directly to an heir in a specific line of succession completely outside any probate process. That is, the title passed “automatically”, requiring no action on the part of any person or court. Likewise, if a will failed to devise a piece of land, the line of succession determined who inherited. And any real property acquired after a will was written was subject, not to the will’s provisions, but to the law of succession. The southern colonies followed English common law in this regard until after the Revolution, when each state introduced its own succession statutes.

In the early colonies, the law of primogeniture (the state of being the firstborn child), was in effect. Primogeniture refers to land inheritance, all the land of an intestate person in the southern colonies passed directly to an heir in a specific line of succession. The law was the system of inheritance or succession by the firstborn, specifically the eldest son. It was an exclusive right of the eldest son to inherit the father's estate. To us living in this era, that hardly seems a fair way of distributing the inheritance. Thankfully, the laws have changed since colonial days. One of the ways for the family to ensure that the eldest son inherited, in the event the father died without a will (not making a will before a death is intestate), the eldest son was often given the same name as his father. The second son was often given the first name of one of his uncles, generally the father's oldest brother. Later, families devised their own system to ensure that their offspring inherited. This was done by giving all children the same middle name, denoting the fact that all with that name could inherit, and not just the oldest son.

In some cultures, children were named for grandparents and parents. Being familiar with these patterns will allow you to make genealogical inferences, identify potential new avenues of research and reveal all sorts of clues about the lives of your ancestors. Just be careful when researching more recent ancestors when using this method. An example of this traditional pattern used was the first son would be named after the father’s father. The second son would be named after the mother’s father. The third son would be named after the father. If the couple had a daughter the first daughter was named after the mother’s mother, the second daughter was named after the father’s mother, and the third daughter named after the mother. These are a few of the patterns the Scots used in naming their children. Also, remember our ancestors might have given their child the mother or grandmother’s maiden name. This pattern of naming a child has been found in my Lee paternal line. These patterns should only be used as a guide when the paper trail is scarce or no paper trail. In some families there will not be a pattern to the names chosen for your ancestors. There were plenty of families who named their child for a friend or a public figure such as Robert E. Lee. The mother might have named the child for her father as the case of Lidia (Hodge) Lee. A more recent great uncle was named for Robert E. Lee. He doesn’t have a middle name, just the initial E.

One pattern that I have found in my paternal lines is that many families were very large. Collateral kin may be an important part in finding your elusive ancestor. Identify the collateral kin, look at the names of your ancestors’ siblings. You can often make connections by studying the collateral kin, and family connections help in proving an ancestor.

There are some key principles to remember when researching collateral lines. One is that names may change, particularly with women, but the relationships will remain, no matter how often the name changes. The strongest ties appear between mother and daughter. This bond between mother and daughter last even after the daughter marries. What this means for the family historian is that you may find the daughter is married with a different surname. Researching that surname may yield more information than the direct line you are researching. The wife's ties to her family are generally stronger than those to her husband's, unless there are ties to the husband's occupation. The Lee paternal line ancestors were farmers and their sons were farmers, as were their in-laws. Lidia Hodge Lee’s bond to her Hodge family was strong. She was named in her father’s will as was her deceased husband Jordan. Her mother received a Revolutionary War pension after Benjamin Hodge died, and Lidia is mentioned in that pension application as an heir. And her first son Benjamin was named after Lidia’s father. This pattern for names is one that I am using to link Jordan Lee to his parents.
Shreveport Municipal Auditorium 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Connecting with Lee Cousins

Thomas Jordan Lee son of Benjamin from Alabama

Thomas Jordan Lee, the second child of Benjamin and Drucilla, was born on 3 September 1839, in Talladega, Alabama. His parents, Benjamin and Drucilla, had not lived in Alabama long when Thomas Jordan was born. The Lee family migrated from Richland District, South Carolina sometime after the 1830 census, and by 1840 they were in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Benjamin, would have been about thirty-three years old and  Drucilla, would have been about twenty-nine years old. 

Thomas Jordan married first Mary Holdridge 09 December 1865. Mary died about 1867, and he then married Mary’s sister, Martha Ann Holdridge, 15 December 1867 in Tallapoosa, Alabama. Martha Ann was born 05 June 1850 in Alexander City, Tallapoosa County, Alabama. It wasn’t uncommon for men to marry a sister of the deceased spouse.

His brother Benjamin William Henry was born on September 27, 1841, in Tallapoosa, Alabama, when Thomas Jordan was 2 years old. His sister Letty Jane was born in 1843 in Tallapoosa, Alabama, when Thomas Jordan was 4 years old. His brother William Alfred was born on October 6, 1847, in Tecumseh, Alabama, when Thomas Jordan was 8 years old. His sister Charlotte Sophronia was born on May 3, 1849, in Tallapoosa, Alabama, when Thomas Jordan was 9 years old. His sister Frances Drucilla Emmaliza was born on September 22, 1859, in Tallapoosa, Alabama, when Thomas Jordan was 20 years old.

Thomas Jordan Lee lived in Tallapoosa, Alabama, in 1850 in Township 24, Tallapoosa, Alabama.
Thomas Jordan Lee served in the military in 1860 in Alabama when he was 21 years old. His father Benjamin passed away in 1860 in Tallapoosa, Alabama, at the age of 53.

Thomas Jordan Lee served in the 14th Alabama Inf. Co. G along with John Holdridge, James Holdridge, John H. Holdridge and other Lee family, friends and relatives from the Hackneyville, Alabama area. At the close of the War Between the States, most of these men were at the Appomattox Courthouse at the time of surrender. Thomas Jordon Lee married first Mary Holdridge and then Martha Holdridge, daughters of John Holdridge, and sisters of James and John H. Holdrige.

Thomas Jordan Lee lived in Chinabee, Talladega County, Alabama, in 1880. His mother Drucilla passed away on September 27, 1895, in Childersburg, Alabama, at the age of 84.

Thomas Jordan Lee lived in District 9, Wilsonville, Shelby County, Alabama, in 1900. His wife Martha of thirty-six years is still living in 1900. Thomas and Martha married in 1867 so the years are an error by the transcriptionist.  Jordan is head of the household and living with him and Martha are sons James T. twenty-one years old, George H. nineteen, Beverly A. thirteen, and  William A. eleven years old. Martha was the mother of eleven children and eight of them living.

In 1910 Thomas Jordan (T.J.) is seventy years old and his second wife Martha was still living, and they reside in District 11, Spearman, Shelby County, Alabama. His fifty-nine-year old wife Martha and he have been married forty -two years is living there with him and one son Arthur age twenty-one and four grandsons. He is married and his relation to head of house was head. Thomas Jordan Lee died September 15, 1916 in Wilsonville, Alabama at the age of seventy-seven years. The grandsons Joe fourteen, Arthur twelve, Otis ten, and Edmond five are probably another of Thomas and Martha’s children’s children. If you consider the age of twenty-one year old Arthur he would have been eight when the Joe was born.

Thomas Jourdin enlisted in the Confederate Army at Hackneyville, Alabama. The muster in roll was dated 5 September 1861 at Camp Johnston. He was a private. He served his country well when he served in the Civil War. Thomas was in Co. G 14th Alabama Regiment. He was captured at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. He was wounded at Williamsburg, Virginia. He suffered from those injuries the rest of his life. He was paroled on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Court House Virginia.

Thomas Jourdin Lee died 15 September 1916 in Wilsonville, Shelby County, Alabama. He is interred in the Union Methodist Cemetery in Wilsonville. His beloved Martha Ann Holdridge lived 07 January 1929 in Arkwright, Shelby County, Alabama.
Photo added by Kitty Walker Lennard