Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday's Find

Sharing Our Photos
Six of the eight Holton children
from the author's private collection

This photo was tucked away in one of my archival photo boxes. Recently I decided to begin the process of scanning my photos. This photo was buried among all the photos, and when I came across it memories of my cousins came back that was stored away from long ago. The children from the oldest to the youngest: Dorothy Earline, Vernie, Henry, Rosa Lee, Joyce Marie, Mitchell Glendon, Rebecca Inez “Becka”, and Charles Holton. Those are the names of the eight children of John and Ellen Eley Holton.

This photo and the expressions on the children’s faces are a reminder of the difficult life they lived. Pictured here are Dorothy the oldest daughter who married at a young age to get away from the home life. She married and removed herself from her parents and siblings. She remained married to the same husband until she died at the age of 69. Vernie is to Dorothy’s right and is holding Mitchell. She married and has one son. Vernie is the only child living of Aunt Ellen’s eight children. Henry, the other boy in the photo died a tragic death, as did his younger brother Mitchell. Rosa Lee the girl on the left was the fourth from the oldest and died of cancer. Rebecca the youngest daughter died at the age of sixty-five from complications of various health problems. Their father died at the age of seventy-seven, and “drank himself to death” according to family stories. Aunt Ellen died of cancer at the age of seventy-five years. 

Four years ago, my double first cousin who lives in Texas sent me this photo, and while looking at this photo, memories of my Aunt Ellen Eley Holton’s family came to life. Her children had many struggles and difficulties while growing up in rural West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday's Matriarch

Saphronia Emma Meadows
Great Grandmother Emma

Emma Meadows seemed to have been forgotten in the history written of her husband William Alfred Lee. Most research has been for William Alfred. I was mulling over this thought about Emma, and realized that while working on William Alfred and the children rarely did I give Emma any attention. Emma was the wife of William Alfred Lee and she was the mother of seven children and five of them survived and lived to be adults. Emma was born about 1849. I believe Emma was born in Troup County, Georgia.

There seems to be confusion about my great grandmother’s name. If you look at the Ancestry family trees that members have submitted, she is named Emmer Jane Sophronia, Emmer Emma Saphronia, and Saphronia Emma Meadows. There is no evidence that I have found to prove her name was Emmer Jane Sophronia. There are a limited number of records for my paternal great grandmother; however, the records that are available with her on them are used to support the name Saphronia Emma (Emer) Meadows. She is the daughter of John C. Meadows and Sara Ann Oliver. There are the 1850-1860 censuses, a surety note that I found on Family Search database written by Emma's father J. C. Meadows, her marriage records, and family stories.

On the 1850 census for District 699, Troup County, Georgia there is a Babe Meadows one year old and her place of birth is Georgia. I believe this Babe on the 1850 census is Saphronia Meadows who is age 9 on the 1860 Newsite, Western Division Ward 4, Tallapoosa County, Alabama census. On this census, 1860, her place of birth is Georgia. The Meadows family listed on the census down to Saphronia were born in Georgia. The other four children were born in Alabama.

By the time the 1870 census was taken Saphronia Emma Meadows had married William Alfred Lee. I noticed a conflict on the 1870 census with names. It showed a Saphronia age 12. When I looked at the family members on the 1860 census and compared them to the 1870 census there was an error in the listing for a daughter – Susan A. Meadows age 3. She was named  Safronia Meadow age 12 on the Daviston, Tallapoosa County, Alabama census. For whatever reason this is an error in the naming of this child on the 1870 census. If the child was still living by 1870 her name should have been Susan A. and not Safronia. Unless that was a nickname given her after her older sister Saphronia Emma left home to marry.

Emma married 5 September 1869 in Tallapoosa County, Alabama and by the 1880 census she was living in Newsite Beat 5, Tallapoosa County. She lived in Newsite with her parents and siblings in 1860. By the 1880 census Emma had two children James W. age nine. After analyzing the census records and marriage record several times, one day I noticed a very important detail that I had never noticed before when analyzing those records. James W. her oldest child was born, 3 July 1869, before she and William married, 5 September 1869. Perhaps that is the reason for the name from Saphronia to Emma.

Why is that detail important? I had one of Uncle James William Lee’s descendants YDNA tested. For almost two years there were no close matches at the 67-marker level. I was looking at all possible scenarios. One being a non-paternal event. That looked as though that was happening here with this situation. Then, last January there was a Lee male relative who YDNA tested at the 37 Marker level and he matched my male Lee cousin. The problem was solved there was no non-paternal event; however, my Lee line was not a match to any of the famous Lees, Maryland Lee, North Carolina Lee, but an ungrouped Lee line. Probably my Lee line was from a Lee who was the only Lee to immigrate or one of the three families in South Carolina from the beginning. More research needed to determine the Lee progenitor.

For now, back to Emma and her story. Emma was the daughter of John Calvin Meadows and Sara Ann Oliver. Emma was one of eleven children. Sara Ann died at a young age of about forty-five years.

Emma had one other daughter who was listed on the 1880 census and she was one year old. There was an eight-year span between the two children, therefore, I surmise that two children were born and died after James W. was born.

On the 1900 Elmore County census Emma states she is the mother of nine children; however, I have accounted for seven children. The family story has it that two children died when the Lee family migrated to Louisiana. Since we don’t have the 1890 federal census, the number of children they had will never be proven. Lee cousins who has more knowledge of our great grandparents only knew of seven children, and of the seven five survived.

By the time the 1910 census was taken the Lee family was living in Ward 1, Jackson Parish, Louisiana. On this census Emma states that she is the mother of eight children and five of them living. Those five children have been found and accounted for. What happened to the other children will remain a mystery unless there are records that will be uncovered and their story revealed.

Saphronia Emma Meadows Lee died 11 November 1920 in Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

This photo from the author's private collection. Dolly Ophelia,
Leakie Lee, sister-in-law of Dolly and Alice Lee, their brother 
Robert E. Lee's wife. In the back is Irma Eley, Alice's oldest 
daughter and Truman, Dolly's youngest child. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday's Sentiments
Clothes of swimmers hanging on a telegraph pole, 
Lake Providence,Louisiana. The children from
the nearby farms and neighborhoods go swimming,
on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, in the lake.
When my family lived in Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana in the 1940s to 1958, we lived near many of our relatives. There were paternal Lee relatives and related families and maternal Coon relatives and related families living near our family. East Carroll Parish was a neighboring parish south east of West Carroll. Lake Providence was in East Carroll and our relatives also lived there in the Lake Providence area. Daddy moved our family away from West Carroll Parish in 1958 seeking better employment. Memories of living near Lake Providence has been tucked away for many years until recently.

I was on the Library of Congress website looking at the photos, then I came across a photo that caught my eyes. It was an interesting one and a scene that brought back memories of long ago when my family lived in West Carroll Parish. The photo was a telegraph pole beside Lake Ponchartrain and hanging on the pole were clothes. Someone had decided to take a swim in the Lake. 

One afternoon Daddy came home and told Mother there was a drowning in Lake Providence. Lake Providence has a large six-mile oxbow lake, named Lake Providence. The lake was formed when the Mississippi River changed its course many years ago. Lake Providence was a popular swimming hole for the locals. It was a great place to take the family and have a fun filled Sunday afternoon with family. Folks during those years learned to swim by watching others, or a family member taught them, they were self-taught. There were no swim lessons at a local YMCA or city sponsored swim lessons.

Daddy came in and shared the sad news with Mother and they were upset. The person who drowned was a young male cousin sixteen-year-old. It was a shock. He was in the lake trying to swim, and he got too far out in the water and couldn’t touch the bottom. Went under and never came back up. As the story unfolded, the kids were sitting around Daddy and Mother listening attentively. Not understanding what it meant to drown, or die. This was the first death that my three younger sisters and brother and I had ever experienced. We didn’t understand what it meant to drown. I was about eight years old at the time. Daddy shared the details of the funeral. What is a funeral I thought to myself? We didn’t ask questions, but listened as Daddy shared the details with Mother.

The funeral arrangements were planned, and our family made plans to go to the funeral home to view this young cousin’s body. This was my first experience with death. Daddy and Mother took us inside where the casket was with the young body on display. The casket was open, and he was lying there as though he was asleep. He was a handsome young man with dark brown hair and fair skin. He was at peace, just sleeping. Those were my thoughts of my first sight of a person who was dead. Our family stood there a while and viewed this young man. Then, my family visited with others, and we left to go home. Of course, us children had questions about death, but no answers. This wasn’t the time to ask those questions either.

The memories of this have been long ago forgotten until I saw the photo of the lake and those clothes hanging on the telegraph pole. That scene jogged my memory, and the events of that tragic story came to life again. There was a young boy’s life cut short that day! On a day he was out to just have fun. My siblings and I didn’t understand the events that happened, but life went on for us. This tragic accident wasn’t discussed again by our parents, and we didn’t ask questions about death.

Photos are a useful tool when writing family stories. Events that took place long ago are still stored in our memory; however, they can be recalled with a little help as the memory of this long ago tragedy of a young cousin whose life was cut short.

African American's tenant's home beside the Mississippi River levee.
Near Lake Providence, Louisiana, June 1940.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day Their Special Day

Honoring Veterans From All Time

James Esters Parden was born 10 May 
1954 in Port Arthur, Jefferson County,
Texas, Died 23 Mar 2013 in Duluth,
 Minnesota. He served in the United 
States Army. James "Ricky" as he was 
known to family died of leukemia at the age 
of fifty-nine.  
November 11 is a special day set aside in the United States to honor military veterans who served in the United States Military. It is a day where all military veterans are honored. Today this blog is dedicated to all our honor all my ancestors who served in wars.

Family history research takes time and dedication. It takes time to research the military veterans in our family lines. As we research each one it gives us time to focus and reflect on their service they provided for our country. Researching and learning about their life gives me a chance to connect mentally and emotionally with the ancestor and the service. Their stories give me an opportunity to see them as real people and with real life stories that needs to be told. It is because of records that have been made available through online databases that have made researching our veterans possible.  By keeping the historical records alive, by creating a family history, then sharing that history with others will preserve our veteran ancestor's legacy. If we don’t share their stories, the memory of their lives fades forever, and they will be forgotten

As I have researched over the past fifteen or more years, I have learned that several of my ancestors served in wars from the founding of the colonies to the present day. Researching those who came before me helps me understand the sacrifices made during their lifetime. An appreciation for the freedoms of today is forever in my mind because of my ancestors. There is a deep sense of appreciation and love for those who lived before me. Also, there is a sense of connection to this country’s past and its beginning because of those veterans did their part in making this country the “land of the free.”

There are several veterans in both my maternal and paternal line ancestors. There were men who served in the American Revolution, Patriots who supplied goods for the Revolutionary soldiers, Patriots of the Indian Wars, War of 1812, Confederate Veterans, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and whose who served in branches of the military during peace times.

One of the reasons that I write articles for my blog is to honor my ancestors. Before I write an article about one of them, I research his or her life and gather all available information for that person’s life. One of the rewards of family history is learning about my ancestors and their unique stories. Researching, then analyzing each record to glean all the tidbits of information about an ancestor helps in creating a story of their lives. The stories help to bring these ancestors into real people who lived through real life events.

Discovering the military veterans and information about them gives me a better understanding of history and historical events. Although a distant ancestor might have fought in the Indian Wars, or he could be a living relative who served in the Vietnam War, getting to know the individual makes the events more realistic.

The veterans who served in this country’s military services deserve to be remembered and honor in a special way. Serving our country takes sacrifice and bravery. Every individual who has served in the military has contributed to our country's history. They contributed to building of a country where we live and where we have many freedoms – such as the freedom to worship and free speech.

Today, I thank each of the hero veterans within and outside of my family for their dedication to their service for our country and our country's history.  This blog article is a small way of saying thank you for your service and your service.

American soldiers examining their new rifles after turning in the old ones.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thursday’s Thoughts Genetic Genealogy

The Proof is in the DNA

You may be asking, what is genetic genealogy? It is using DNA testing for genealogy. Genetic genealogy is the use of DNA testing to determine the relationships between individuals. Genetic genealogy is used in combination with old fashioned (or traditional) genealogy. Traditional genealogy is simply the study of an individual’s ancestry or family tree. Family historians have been using records, documents, stories from family members, cemetery research, etc. for decades to determine family relationships. Genetic genealogy is a way for family historians to go beyond the information collected from historical records, document, and relatives. Genealogists use DNA testing to answer questions about their ancestry, to confirm family relationships, it provides clues about ethnicity, it help to break through difficult research questions, and you find living relatives.

I started using DNA testing seven years ago when I decided to resolve a family story. and it has produced some amazing results. Using DNA test results, I have learned about my Lee surname and family through the Lee FTDNA Project, family stories have been proven. DNA testing is a powerful tool when used along with traditional genealogy and historical records. Using DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogical research to enhance your ancestral discovery requires both skills as a genealogist, and you will need to commit to learning about DNA, interpreting the results and working with your matches. So, skills as a genetic genealogists are essential to get the most from DNA testing.

A few years ago, researching family meant trips to the courthouses, cemeteries, and libraries in several towns. A genealogist would search through records, search through documents, walk the cemetery, and interview relatives to gather information about an ancestor. This could be a daunting and time-consuming process. However, since we live in the age of technology, and there are innovative people who are willing to be ingenious when using technology and genealogy, combined with science, a new useful too is invented. This useful tool is used to solve problems in the field of genealogical research. That tool is called DNA testing. The tool of DNA testing is a very useful resource and fast growing in popularity among genealogists. Researching our ancestors and connecting relationships is made easier, and that is one of the benefits of DNA testing used along with traditional genealogical research.

I have used DNA testing more and more with traditional genealogy to prove or disprove surnames, infer relationships between individuals, find living cousins, and reconnect with long lost cousins. Since my husband and I led the genealogy group in our hometown, it was essential to learn about this new resource. First was the mtDNA test with Family Tree DNA. Next, my brother submitted his sample for the 67 Marker YDNA test to Family Tree DNA Testing Company. Later, the autosomal DNA test was released by the testing companies and submitted our samples for that test. We have tested with all three testing companies and have tested several family members on both paternal and maternal lines.

We use our DNA and traditional genealogy methods to show relationships, and to prove family surname lines. My father’s biological father was proven using the 67-Marker YDNA test results. The family story that had been shared about “Uncle Johnny” being his biological father was proven and the story was laid to rest. The Edwards paternal line has been proven by working with matches from FTDNA, Ancestry DNA, and 23andMe autosomal DNA tests results.

Surname lines on both maternal and paternal lines have been proven using DNA testing and working with matches from all three testing companies. 

My paternal line Meadows family was proven using autosomal DNA (atDNA). This family line was one that I relied on family members for information, now I am confident that I have the correct great grandmother Emma Meadows in my family tree.

Keep in mind that when you YDNA test there may be a family situation that you were not aware of and when the results come back it is revealed. This happened on my maternal line when I had my Coon cousin YDNA tested to verify my COON (KUHN) surname line. It really wasn’t surprising since my cousin had told me her father revealed to her that her brother was not his child. I dismissed this story as I have most other family stories as just being a “story.” When the results came in her story was proven to be true. YDNA testing in this case wasn’t any help; however, my COON surname line was proven by working with matches from 23andMe and Ancestry DNA. For some unknown reason my Coon relatives don’t test with Family Tree DNA. I have one match on FTDNA with a fourth cousin match; however, his Coon line is from another family line. We haven’t found the correct one yet.
Genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy are viable methods in the field of genealogical research. DNA and traditional genealogy help in filling in the gaps in your research. I am currently using the YDNA 67 Marker test results and working with others to determine the branch of the Lee family that my great grandfather William Alfred Lee belongs. I had a Lee male second cousin YDNA tested on the 67 marker test. He only has one match in his test results list and is on the 37 marker, and a genetic distance of  two markers. He is a fourth cousin and we share a common colonial ancestor. Jordan Lee, our common ancestor,  was born in South Carolina about 1778. His ancestor is the son Burril Lee and mine is Benjamin, his brother.  A connection with the known branches of Lees has not been proven with genealogical research. Research on this Lee family origin is ongoing.

While DNA testing can be an awesome tool, it is not a replacement to traditional genealogical research. Beginners to genealogy should continue to focus on compiling their family tree back five or six generations using traditional research methodologies. The more information that can be compiled the better, as it will enable you to compare your family tree with others identifying common surnames and common locations where ancestors previously resided. And, you use this information along with DNA tests results to prove family relationships.

Genetic genealogy and traditional genealogy has immense power to help us understand who we are, and what regions our ancestors came from. If you are serious about building an accurate family tree, breaking down those brick walls, and even discovering old family heirlooms and photos, you want to get your DNA tested at one or more of the testing companies. Also, you will want to get relatives tested. Then you start communicating with your matches and find living cousins. It’s an adventure you’ll always be glad you began. It is probably the best thing you can do for your genealogy research and family tree building. Future generations will thank you for your work.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wedding Wednesday

James William Lee and Nancy Matilda Wynn

This Photo of James William Lee and Nancy Matilda Wynn
was given to me by their great granddaughter.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday

Honoring Those Who Have Passed

Rebecca Lee daughter of Burrell Lee and Mahalia Nelson. Rebecca was 
born in Muscogee County, Georgia and died in Paul, Conecuh County,
Alabama.. She is buried in Pleasant Grove Primitive Baptist Church 
Cemetery in Conecuh County. Burial information may be found on