Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bernard Keith Midkiff: The Little Boy Who Wasn't Forgotten

The Little Boy Who Wasn’t Forgotten

Back on 03 January 1959 when the family lived in Clay, Jackson Parish, Louisiana, our next-door neighbor came to give us the news. I was in the tenth grade at Quitman High School at the time. I was just an immature, carefree teenager who did not know much about the world! My sister Jean was two years older than me. She had left home to visit our oldest sister and help her with her children for the summer.  While there she met a man, Roy Midkiff, married, and in 23 December 1958 had a baby boy, Bernard Keith Midkiff.

Well, news that we received from our next-door neighbor on that day back on 03 January 1959 was that the baby, Bernard Keith Midkiff, had died. My mother, my father, my sister, my brother, and I were grief stricken. This was the first time we had a death in our immediate family. Bernard Keith died from SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. Our family made plans to go to Jean and attend the funeral for the baby. Little Bernard Keith Midkiff was a beautiful baby. He looked like an angel in his little tiny casket. Our family had the assurance this little angel boy was in heaven. He was so peaceful and quiet lying in his eternal bed.

You may be wondering now, “Why is she writing about a child who has been gone for so long?” The reason I am writing is that I have thought of this precious baby so many times over the years and wondered where he was buried. Remember now, I was only sixteen years old when he died! Jean, his mom died 21 February 2012 and all hope of getting this information from her is gone. Jean’s son, Dell, called to tell me the plans for Jean’s memorial, where she will be laid to rest, and she will be with Bernard Keith. I now have the name of a cemetery.

The next thing I did was get on
and do a search for Bernard Keith Midkiff. Walla! I found him! I was happy now. This beautiful baby boy has been remembered and someone had taken his or her time to take a picture of the cemetery and put this information on Findagrave. This was a random genealogical act of kindness for which I am grateful.  I have the information, and can now add this to Jean’s family tree. You see, I am a family historian/genealogist and this is important information to have for future generations. Jean’s grandchildren or great grandchildren possibly in the future will research their families and this information will be important to them.

Random acts of genealogical kindness are what volunteer genealogists do on a regular basis. The digitized records that are on websites such as are done by volunteers. These volunteers have gone into courthouses and made photocopies of records. One might think since these records are readily available with the click of a mouse that they magically appear on these websites. That is not the case. Someone somewhere has taken his or her time to go and make photocopies of records. There are also volunteers who index census records so those can be put on the internet. Again, someone has taken his or her time to volunteer to do these random acts of kindness. This is how family historians/genealogists are able to do the research.  Let’s not take this service for granted. This will be done only as long as we have volunteers to give of his or her time to provide this service for us.

Little Bernard Keith Midkiff will be remembered now. I have him in my family tree and when I look at my family tree he will be there in his place with the family.

Bernard Keith Midkiff
Birth: 23 December 1958
Texas, USA
Death:   Jan. 13, 1959
Kountze, Hardin County, Texas, USA
Son of Roy and Jean (Eley) Midkiff
Burial: Resthaven Cemetery
Silsbee, Hardin County, Texas, USA

Cemetery notes and/or description:
Directions: Take US Hwy 96 North into Silsbee, Texas. Just before you reach the Silsbee Post Office there is a traffic light. Turn right, at the traffic light, onto Avenue R. At the end of Ave R (cemetery will be straight ahead) turn right and the entrance to the cemetery will be on the left.

Find A Grave Memorial# 36412502
Record added: Apr 26, 2009

Note:  Another way to get to Bernad Keith Midkiff's webpage is to do a Google search by putting in Bernard Keith Midkiff Findagrave in the search box. Then click on search. The site will come up in the search results and by clicking on that search results it will take you to the website.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Eleys from Drew County, Arkansas

Early Settlers of Drew County, Arkansas
Written by Esther Eley Jones
Little is known of Joseph “Joe” Eley other than he was shown on 1850-1880 censuses as being born in Mississippi about 1844. On the censuses, it states that Joseph’s father was born in Georgia and his mother was born in Mississippi. Robert Lawrence Eley, Joseph’s father, apparently left Mississippi and migrated to Arkansas before 1850.  Robert L. Eley was living in Tippah County, Mississippi in 1840. On the 1840 census Robert L. Ely was head and in the age category 20 thru 29 was 2 free white persons – males. Robert would fit that category since he was born about 1816. One free white person – female was in the 15 thru 19-age category. Martha would fit in that category since she was born about 1823 in Mississippi. R. L. Eley is on the Tippah County, 1841 State Census for Mississippi.

Robert L. Eley is listed on the 1850 Census in Spring Hill, Drew County, Arkansas.  Robert was a saddler and his birthplace was Georgia. His wife, was named Martha, Josiah, his son, was six years old. Robert and Martha’s daughter, Frances A. Eley, was three years old at time of this census taking. A saddler is one who makes, repairs or sells saddles or other furnishings for horses.

Both Robert Lawrence Eley and his son Joseph served in the Confederate Army. One important lesson learned in genealogical research is to look for spelling variations of surnames. The Eley name is an example of variant spellings that it is found in documents. On the Confederate Service Record Eley was spelled Ealey. The surname has also been spelled Ely. The spelling for the surname that my family uses is Eley.

Joseph Eley’s Confederate Service Record shows that he was a private- served in the 10th Regiment Arkansas Militia Company B. This company mustered at Clarksville, Arkansas, from February 22 to March 19, 1862, with 99 men present. Captain John W. King was in command during this muster. * Later most of these men enlisted in regular Confederate regiments. Joseph later served in Co. H, 34th Arkansas Infantry.

Joseph Ealy’s later service record showed that he was a private enlisted 25 August 1862 at Camp Cunningham, AR. Deserted 25 Nov 1862.*See the note on explanation of the term "deserted."

Robert Lawrence had enlisted in the War Between the States in 1861 and left home to serve in the war.  Robert Lawrence Eley (Ealey) was on the 1860 Lacy, Veasey Township, Drew County, Arkansas the last census that he was found on and this was his place of residence as of 1 June 1860. His value of real estate was $600. In addition, the value of his personal estate was $300. The census was enumerated 15 July 1860.

Josiah was fourteen years old on the 1860 census.  April 2, 1960 Robert Lawrence acquired 80 acres of land in Drew County, Arkansas, and it was a cash sale.

Joseph’s estimated time of death is sometime after 1882 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. He was the eldest son of Martha and Robert Eley. Joseph married Eliza Jane Green in Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana 14 January 1879. Josiah Eley is 26 years old and shown on the 1870 census for Ward 6, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana with his wife Marry born in Mississippi age 20 and their son William born in Louisiana age 1 year. Living with Josiah, Marry and William is Robert Eley age 13 Josiah’s youngest sibling. Apparently, Marry and William died sometime after 1870 because they are not listed on another census.

Joseph and Eliza Jane had two known children, Pamelia A. and Jackson Lawrence Eley. Pamelia A. is on the 1880 census for 10 th Ward, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. Pamela was 7 months old at the 21 June 1880 census taking and that was the place of residence for the family 1 June 1880. Jackson Lawrence was born 4 June 1882. Family lore says he was born in Ashley County, Arkansas; however, I believe from the history of his father that Jack was born in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. It states on his World War I Draft Registration Card his place of birth is Louisiana and the 1942 Draft Registration Card the “Old Man’s Draft” his place of birth is Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. Jack Eley died 30 October 1944, in Pioneer, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

U.S. Civil War Soldiers Records;
U. S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907;
U. S. Federal Census Records 1840, 1850, 1860
Tutorship Papers
Marriage Bond, Number 106, State of Louisiana Parish of Morehouse, 14th Judicial District Court, Bastrop, Louisiana, 1879.
Joseph enlisted in the Confederate Army and on the record, it states that he deserted 25 November 1862.

 *Note: The meaning of deserted at this time in history had a different connotation. Many of these soldiers have the word "deserted" after their names. We would like you to know that this is from the Microfilm from the National Archives. These soldiers may have been separated from their Units in the heat of battle, joined up with other Units and continued to fight this war. They may have families back home who were starving and no one to plant their crops or gardens... They may have gone home to visit awhile with loved ones.  They returned to their units, only to find that there were so many miles between them and their original Unit that rejoining them was an impossibility; therefore, they joined with another unit to continue to fight in the war.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jordan Lee – from South Carolina to Alabama

Image from the  Library of Congress
Who is this Jordan Lee of South Carolina? He is an ancestor who is obscure and one who is almost without a paper trail of his existence.  His origin or parentage is mysterious.  Jordan Lee would be a third great grandfather the progenitor of the Lee family. His wife was Lydia Hodge daughter of Benjamin Hodge and Nancy (Rains) Hodge. An estimated marriage date of about 1805 was determined from the birth year of their first child.

As I have researched the Lee lines, I have found the records to be scarce, and have had to rely on census records and a couple of land records to trace Jordan Lee’s path. I have used his father-in-law Benjamin Hodge’s Revolutionary War pension record as a guide to verify that I am following the correct Jordan Lee. In addition, a Lee cousin has YDNA tested and the DNA tool used along with census and land records have helped in proving the lineage.

As records about Jordan Lee are found, they are analyzed and scrutinized to make sure he is the correct Jordan Lee, father of Benjamin Lee.Trinity Martin, daughter of Benjamin Hodge and Nancy (Rains), applied for a Revolutionary War Pension 13 Oct 1847, for the service time that Benjamin served in the War. Both Benjamin and Nancy were deceased at that time. Trinity Martin, wife of Joseph Martin deceased, filed for the pension on behalf of herself and her siblings: Sarah Grant, wife of Randell Grant deceased, Letty Lee, wife of Jordan Lee deceased, Lucy Sims, wife of John Sims, Rachel Martin, wife of David Martin, Sarah Cusa, wife of Reuben Cusa, Margaret Brown, wife of William Brown, and Zady Hodge. The children of Benjamin Hodge understood that he had been a private soldier in the Army of the Revolutionary War.

The Lee project that I have undertaken has taken several years to do.  Follow along as I take you on the journey of tracing the Jordan Lee line from Richland District, South Carolina to Tallapoosa County, Alabama using census records and land records.
The census records from 1810 to 1840 show that Jordan Lee was the father of at least seven children, possibly more.  He was a farmer and would have been about twenty-two years old in 1800. This age was estimated from information from a Daughter of the American Revolution application for a prospective member.

Jordan Lee was listed as head of the family on the 1810 census in Columbia Township, Richland District, South Carolina and as a free white male in the age category of 26-44. Jordan was about thirty-two years old in 1810 and would fit in that category. There was a free white female in the age range of 16-25. His wife Lydia would fit in that age category since she was born about 1780 and that was the only choice of categories for female where she would fit. There were five children in two age categories.

Listed on the 1820 census in Richland District, South Carolina was a Jordan Lee and again he fit in the age category of 26-44 since he would have been about forty-two years old. Lydia was about thirty-five years old in 1830 so she fit in the age category free white persons females 26 thru 44. There were nine children listed in the male and female age categories.

On the 1830 Richland, South Carolina Jordan Lee was head of the family and fit in the category of 50 thru 59 age range since he was about fifty-two years old at that time.  Ten children were in the age categories for males and females. Looking at the age categories and ages of the adults’ possibly two sons and daughters-in-law were living with the family. The category was free white males and females 20 thru 29. Therefore, I concluded sons Benjamin and Isaiah would fit in that category. 

There was not a Jordan Lee in Richland, South Carolina in 1840; therefore, I concluded the family was on the move due to expansion of the land in the territories of Mississippi and Alabama. The Lee family migrated after the 1830 census. On the 1840 Tallapoosa County, Alabama census, Jordan Lee was listed in the age category with free white persons males 60 thru 69. Jordan Lee fit in this age category since he was about 62 years old at that time. In 1845, Jordan acquired land in a cash entry sale. Jordan Lee was issued a certificate on 01 June 1845, No. 8198 for 40.13 and half-hundredth acres of land in Tallapoosa County, Alabama.

He was not found on any censuses or records after 1845, which led me to believe he died after acquiring the land in 1845. Lydia (Lidia) his wife was on the 1850 census for Township 24, Tallapoosa County, Alabama. On the 1850 census Lydia (Lidia) Lee was listed on the census as head of the family; age 60, a farmer, with a value of real estate owned 150 and occupation or trade farm, and born in South Carolina. Benjamin and his family were on the 1840 census for Tallapoosa County, Alabama so they had migrated along with his parents.

An estimated death date for Jordan was about 1847 since the date on Benjamin Hodge’s pension is Oct 1847, and Jordan was stated as being deceased at that time.  Lydia’s place of birth listed as South Carolina, and was listed consistently as her place of birth in the censuses from 1850-1870. 

While analyzing the1850 Census for Tallapoosa County Township 24 Alabama,  I noticed that living next door to Lydia Lee was  Zachariah Lee age 25, Martha E. age 20, and Susan L. age 1. Zachariah's was born in South Carolina. Zachariah’s wife Martha’s place of birth was Georgia and Susan L.'s place of birth as Alabama. They were farmers.  Jordan and Lydia had a son named Zachariah. 

On the 1860 census Letty (Lydia) Lee was listed with a family in Precinct 6 Butler County, Alabama. The enumeration date for this census was August 8, 1860.

Letty Lee was enumerated on 08 July 1870 in Township 22 County of Randolph State of Alabama. Letty, age 94, is living with James and Betsy Fetner. James was 65 and born in Georgia and Betsy was 56 and born in South Carolina. Their real estate was 40 and value of personal property was 100. James was a farmer. It was inferred that this is Lydia widow of Jordan, and Betsy was Lydia’s daughter.

Benjamin Hodge and Nancy parents of  Lydia Lee’s was proven from the Revolutionary War Pension of Benjamin Hodge. Lydia and Jordan Lee’s relationships were proven by the will of Benjamin as well. Lydia Lee’s father, Benjamin Hodge of the Richland District, served in the Revolutionary War for one year as a private in the Company of Captain Godwin  of the Regiment commanded by Colonel William Thomson in the Third Regiment of the Continental Line of the South Carolina Infantry.

Jordan Lee possibly was born in South Carolina circa 1778, but since I have not found an 1800 census, I cannot place his birth in a particular location. He would have been about twenty-two years old at the time of the 1800 census. He was married to Lydia Hodge, daughter of Benjamin Hodge and Nancy (Rains) Hodge, in Richland District, South Carolina. Jordan Lee was third great grandfather and father of Benjamin Lee, who was the father of William Alfred Lee, the father of “Granny” Alice Lee. 

Alice Lee, daughter of William Alfred Lee and Sophronia Emma Meadows was born 07 November 1887 in Tecumseh, Cherokee, Alabama. The Lee family moved to Louisiana between 1900 and 1910 and settled in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana. The family was listed on the 1900 Federal Census for Jackson Parish Ward 1 for May 13.

Alice was 24 years old living with William A. and Emma Lee her parents. She was listed as having been born in Alabama. William was 64 years old and Emma 61 years old at the time of the 1900 census.  Robert E. Lee and Leaky, Alice’s brother and sister-in-law, were living there with William, Emma, and Alice. Robert was 26 years old and Leaky 23 years old. Robert and Leakey had three children listed with them. The children were Emma age 2, Willie age 3, and Mary age 8 months. Esters was not listed with this family at the time of this census taking.

DNA testing is a tool used along with the paper trail of research to prove the Lee familial lineage. Using the DNA matches along with records I am working to locate and prove the parents of Jordan Lee. According to the YDNA test results for the Lee project, this Lee line is not related to the Lees of Virginia. Knowing that the Jordan Lee line is a separate line helped eliminate that well-known and famous Lee family line. One of the matches from the atDNA test results showed a match to a descendant of Col. William Lee from North Carolina. Consequently, this is an avenue that I will continue to research.

Jordan Lee is the ancestor of this Lee clan. Jordan’s parents have not been located or identified; therefore, this will be an ongoing research project on the Lee family line.

Happy Lee Hunting


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jordan Lee: Church Records

Ancestors, were they religious or not? Finding ancestors in church records. 

Recently as I was working on a short article for a newsletter, I came across some genealogy quotes as I was surfing the web. One that caught my eye was as I read them was, “My ancestors must be in a witness protection program!” I thought aha, that is where the parents of third great grandfather Jordan Lee are, in the witness protection program.  Jordan Lee seems to have appeared from nowhere. According to family trees posted on websites, Jordan Lee was born in 1778 in South Carolina or Scotland. Jordan Lee is shown without parents on family trees on these websites; therefore, that is comforting to know that I am not the only one who can’t connect him to parents. The birth and place of birth are projected because of the period of the censuses and land records found for him.
Most of our ancestors attended church. That was one of the few social gatherings for them during that time. It probably is a safe estimate that between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the people attended churches. Our ancestors attended the church in their area. The Great Awakening was going on in some areas, so, you would think because of all this going on in churches, there would be records for ancestor, Jordan Lee and his parents. However, there is none that I have found to date that will help me to place him with a church.

If you're not sure of the church affiliation, you might search the churches closest to your ancestor’s home, then broaden your search in ever-widening circles. Look at your ancestors’ neighbors gather information on them. What religious affiliation were they? Were neighbors family members? Look at all the clues as you research them. Jordan Lee was a farmer, as were all my ancestors before him, and church records are one of the records missing for my ancestors. Where are the records? I haven’t found any church records for them. I have to remember some churches kept better records than others did.

Some of the things you look for are membership lists such as new members, members who transferred membership, and members excommunicated or censured.  That information was often recorded, and is helpful in tracing a family’s migration. Church affiliation may be found by searching through obituaries and cemetery records. Church Minutes of various organizations within a church may include the name of an ancestor. There may be biographical notes on members and pastors in some church records. Also, look for notes on funerals — sometimes including the names of those who attended.

Church records are another tool in identifying ancestors and placing them in a certain place at a certain time. Up to this point in researching the Lee ancestors the conclusion is that my Lee ancestors’ did not have an affiliation with a church , the church records were destroyed, the church did not keep records, or the church records were placed in an archive after the church closed.  

Therefore, the quest continues for records that would verify Jordan Lee as the father of Benjamin Lee, and connect Jordan Lee to parents.  

Esther Eley Jones

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Eleys and Genealogical Research: Sharing Family Information

The Eleys and Genealogical Research:  Sharing Information
Written by Esther Eley Jones

     Mother do you know anything about your family? That was a question that I asked Mother back in the 1970s trying to pick her brain to get information about her and her Coon family. That was the extent of my knowledge of how to interview someone to gather family information. Luckily, Mother gave her and Daddy’s birth dates, places of birth, their parents’ name and names of her siblings to me and I wrote the information on a piece of loose leaf paper. That was all the information I gathered in that interview from Mother.  I had stored the piece of paper that I had written the information on in a binder and forgot about it.  Several years later while cleaning out the attic, I found that piece of paper.

That piece of paper would later be valuable in researching the family. Ruby the oldest of the siblings knew more about our family than the other children. Seems she and a cousin had done genealogical research on our families. In 2001 when I began my quest to learn about “family” my sister, Ruby, gave me names of grandparents, where they were from originally, Granny Eley was Alice Lee from Alabama, and her parents were William and Emma.   As you know, that was not much information to go on to start a journey into family history research, but it was better than not having any information at all. The information from Ruby and Mother was enough information to start on the journey of genealogical research. 
     As I started my journey of genealogical research I read how to books on genealogy, and surfed the web to gather information on how to research my family lines.  There were family trees on Ancestry with names familiar to the ones I was researching. Therefore, I used the information that I found on Ancestry as a guide in my research. I took those names, researched them using documents that I found such as census records, land records, cemetery records, family stories, and probate records. I verified the information that was found in family trees to make sure that I was researching my correct Lee, Ramsey, Coon, Edwards, Meadows, Oliver, and White family lines. Then I decided it was time to visit the last of the Eley siblings, Aunt Gladys. With no experience how to interview an elderly family member, I planned a trip to visit Aunt Gladys.
Taken Dec 1970 - Left to right Buddy, Aunt Gladys, Daddy
Buddy is Vernon Roy Eley, Gladys Inez Eley, Esters Eley

    Then,  I made the trip to visit the last of the Eley siblings Gladys to see if she could give me information on the Eley family.  It was a very disappointing visit with this aunt. I quizzed her about the Eley family and she did not know anything. She did know that Granddaddy Jack always dressed up with a large hat. She also remembered visiting a brother of Jack Eley who lived in Rayville. She could not remember his name, but he lived in Rayville. She told me, “Back when I was growing up, kids were to be seen and not heard. Parents did not talk about things. And you did not ask questions.” Well, needless to say she did not give me any genealogical information that would help me in my research of family. However, years later I found out the reason for her sealed lips.

     By the way, the “brother” this aunt was talking about was actually Granddaddy Jack Eley’s uncle, Robert Lawrence. He was the youngest of the Robert Lawrence Eley I, children. Jack Eley’s father Joe had petitioned the court for guardianship of his siblings after the death of his father in 1862. Robert Lawrence I, was killed at the Battle of Corinth and Martha Horn Eley had died after the birth of her last child about 1860.

     Two years later I made another visit to Gladys' to find out if maybe her memory had been jogged about the Eley family and there was information she would like to share. I took her a printout of the genealogy report from my Family Tree Maker file when I visited her the first time. Well, she didn't know anything and stuck by her story of families didn't talk and children were to be seen and not heard. So I thanked her for allowing me to visit her and wished her well. She died the next year with all the family secrets going with her. However, in researching and using DNA test results I now understand why her lips were sealed and she wasn't sharing information.  You can read the story on this blog. 

     I have done this project alone since my sister Ruby passed away in 2006. She would be so happy to know that I have continued the quest and have made so much progress researching these family lines.  I have two living sisters and a brother, and they listen with interest as I share my latest find with them or how I use DNA test results to find and verify cousin matches. They share a tidbit of information along the journey. So, the journey continues!

     Genealogy research is not a hobby that can be done in isolation and be fruitful. Be willing to share surnames you are researching and information with other family historians and possibly, you will make contact with others who have a common interest.

     Remember that family secrets can be revealed and it is a good idea to share them as you know them, and keep in mind that every family has them. These stories are a part of our family.  By sharing them you will save your loved one countless hours of researching that may be spent on other family lines. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

Esters Eley and Unknown Man Standing Beside a Ford Model A – Or is It?
Unknown man, Pete Bowman, is Daddy’s first cousin once removed.
James E. Bowman "Pete" Puborn 15 July 1924 in West Carroll Parish,Louisiana
and died 22 June 1999. Pete is interred in the Oak Grove Cemetery,Oak Grove, 
West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.  
I shared this photo on my Facebook page, and another Lee cousin identified the unknown man on the right in the photo. Pete Bowman was a short man and when a cousin from Texas shared this photo with me, I thought that was who the unknown man had to be in the photo. I remember he was a cousin who Daddy loved and respected and who stayed in touch with Daddy.  Pete and his wife Bertha visited us often as I was growing up in West Carroll Parish. Even after Daddy and Mother moved to the Chicken Farm Pete visited them, and then Daddy retired and they moved to Corinth Community Pete visited there as well.

I never knew Pete's given name, I only knew him as Pete. Recently I connected with a cousin on Facebook where this photo was posted and he was identified in the photo. This cousin gave me Pete's parents names. Pete was Daddy's first cousin Lizzy Lee's son. Lizzy Lee was Uncle Jim and Aunt Nannie's daughter - one of about thirteen children of that couple. Then, there was John David Bowman whose name popped up in conversation. Who was he? John David was a visitor frequently at our home in rural West Carroll Parish. He was bigger and older than we were; however, he played games with us. In addition, he really scared us at times and we would all go running and screaming trying to hide from him. Therefore, who is John David and how did he fit into the dynamics of the family? As family information such as names, given and surnames, began coming in finally the puzzle pieces started going in place.

The first puzzle piece connected was Pete. The family information started coming together for this person known only as "Pete Bowman." It is very important when taking up the hobby of genealogical research to contact family members and anyone who may be connected in some way to the family. There is an expression that used often with researchers, and that is, "genealogy is not done in isolation." If you do research family in isolation, you may miss very important stories, meeting new cousins, and reconnecting with old ones. That is the reason that I am persistent in connecting with cousins and reconnecting with old ones because they may have the piece of information that will jump start my family research and help put the puzzle pieces together.

Pete Bowman is identified and he is Daddy's first cousin once removed, and they share a common ancestor William Alfred Lee. Another cousin on the Lee familial linage added to the family tree and I know how he fits into the family dynamics. Identifying Pete Bowman led to another piece to the puzzle that fit into its place – John David Bowman. Using the parents’ names, I went to and did a search for Louis Bowman, estimated the birth date, guessed at the location as Louisiana, and the search results yielded some possibilities. One was the 1940 census. Therefore, I put in the information for Louis Bowman, he was head of family, Lizzy his wife, and the names of the children were familiar.  The youngest child listed on the census for Louis and Lizzy was John David. Now another piece of the puzzle put in place! Nevertheless, which one is Pete? Further research needed, so I did a search for Pete Bowman and wife Bertha in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana because I remembered he lived in that area. The search results yielded U. S. City Directories 1821-1989, for Ouachita Parish, a Draft Registration Card, Social Security Death Index 1935-2014, and U. S. Find a Grave Index 1600s to Current, U. S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006, and Find a Grave Memorial.

After analyzing each of these records the final puzzle piece fit  neatly in place and the unknown man in the photo identified as James E. Bowman – Pete Bowman son of Lizzy Lee Bowman Daddy’s first cousin. Had I not connected with the cousin on Facebook I would most likely have never known the connection with Daddy and Pete Bowman.

Another paternal ancestor placed in his rightful place in the Lee family tree. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Researching the Eley Paternal Line

Genealogical Research and Y-DNA Testing
By Esther Eley Jones
11 May 2015

Esters, Irma, Dollie, Ellen and Gladys Eley  
After researching the Eleys from Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas and hitting a dead end in researching of the family line it was time for a new plan. The plan was to use genealogical research and Y-DNA test results to verify the biological father of Esters Eley, my father; research to determine where the Eleys migrated from; who our most distant ancestor is; then to research and determine our Eleys ethnicity. 

Esters Eley  was born 28 June 1908, in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana to Alice Lee. Esters’ birth was what genealogists call a non-paternity event (NPE). Now you may be wondering what a non-paternity event is. Non-paternity event is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe any event, which has caused a break in the link between a hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome resulting in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father. [1]

Non-Paternal Events (NPE) usually refer to an occurrence in the past.  It may have been an adoption of a family member or friend's child, the adoption of a child from the Orphan Train, or an illegitimate birth.  Whatever the circumstances of the NPE may be, it usually creates obstacles for genealogists.[2]

Before the introduction of commercial DNA testing for genealogical purposes in the year 2000, there wasn't much hope for a genealogist to surpass the NPE. That was the situation when I was researching the Eley familial linage. Researching the Eley family and finding records to verify Robert Lawrence as my ancestor was falling in place. The plan was to research the family using census, marriage, death, cemetery, land records, tutorship papers, newspaper articles, and wills to prove Robert Lawrence Eley, was the father of Josiah “Jo” Eley the father of Jackson Lawrence Eley, my grandfather.  On the other hand, that proved more difficult than I thought!

Robert L. Eley,born in Georgia,  a saddler, and wife Martha, son Josiah, and daughter Francis A. and a boarder Harris A. Fruman were on the 1850 census for Springhill Township, Drew County, Arkansas. Robert  owned $150 in real estate.[3]  On the 1860 census for Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas Robert born in Virginia was a farmer, with a real estate value of $800. He is head of family and his children Josiah, Francis A., Sarah, M. E. (Melanie Ellen), Robert L., and five months old Lucy. Looking at the age of the last child Martha most likely died in childbirth about 1860.[4] Martha is on the 1860 Mortality Schedule for Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas. As stated on the schedule Martha died in March 1860 and was thirty-six years old at the time of her death.[5]

July 1, 1857 Robert acquired eighty acres of land; July 1, 1859 he acquired one hundred and twenty acres and an additional eighty acres. Then on April 2, 1860, Robert acquired eighty acres, and September 1, 1860 he acquired forty acres and another eighty acres in Drew County, Arkansas. [6]
Then research on this family came to a virtual dead end after Robert Lawrence disappeared from records in the Drew County and surrounding counties in Arkansas. Research on this family line was placed in a box and left there for about ten years at which time I became interested in the War Between the States, and finding ancestors who served in the War.[7] I was looking through the list of soldiers who served in Arkansas and low and behold listed were Robert Lawrence and his son Josiah Eley. Robert Lawrence mustered 11 March 1862 at Helena, Arkansas and on the list it stated missing at the Battle of Corinth on 4 October 1862.[8] Later he was declared dead in the Battle of Corinth.[9] Josiah listed as deserted on 15 March 1962 on his compiled service record.[10],[11] Mystery of their disappearance from Drew County solved.

Possibly the reason for Josiah’s deserting was to go back home and care for the children and farm. His father owned four hundred acres of land in Veasey, Drew County and the farm was in need of care.  His mother was deceased and there were five young children back in Drew County whom was in need of care, also. Josiah was the oldest of the children and he was the one left to care for them and the farm.

Josiah was born about 1844 in Mississippi so he would have been about eighteen years old when he mustered into the War.[12] Joe and Eliza Jane married 14 January 1879 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.[13] The 24 May 1870 Josiah Eley petitioned the Parish Court of Morehouse for tutor of the minors of Robert Lawrence and Martha Horn Eley deceased. Melanie Ellen and Robert Lawrence were the minors Josiah was seeking tutorship. He was granted tutorship of the minors 28 May 1870 in the presence of John W. Baker and Frank Vaughan witnesses and Deputy Runder.[14] Joe is on the 1870 census with his wife Marry, son William, and brother Robert Lawrence in Ward 6, Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.[15] Sometime after this census, Marry and son William died because they are not on any records after that time. On the 1880 census Joseph Eley, Eliza J., Pamelia A., and Robert are living in 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana.[16]  Jackson Lawrence was born 4 June 1882 so he would not have been on a census until 1900 since the 1890 census was destroyed.[17] Francis, her husband and children, Joe’s oldest sister is living nearby, and Sara their next to the oldest sister is living with Francis’s family.[18]

By 1870 Francis was married and living in Ward 6, Morehouse Parish and Melanie Ellen and Sara are both living with Francis’s family. Francis had one child age 4, Jackson B. Anderson.[19] Robert Lawrence their youngest brother married 13 November 1880 Theodocia Hamby.[20]

Jackson Lawrence is 18 years old and a boarder with the Thomas Howie family on the 1900 Census for Ashley County, Arkansas.[21]  However, he is an elusive one and isn’t on another census until 1930 for Ward 3, Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana as Lawrence Jackson. There Jackson L. Eley is listed with his wife Alice, children Irma, Dolly O., Ellen, Robert Lawrence, and Gladys.[22] Then in 1940, Jackson L. and Alice are living alone in West Carroll Parish.[23]

After researching the Eley lineage several years and found no records linking Esters Eley to the Eley lineage it was time to look at other alternatives in researching this paternal line. It was time for a new plan. Then I recalled that my sister Ruby had made a comment to me when I began researching in 2000. Something to the affect, “You know Daddy’s real daddy is Uncle Johnny Edwards.” Oh, really, well now Ruby we aren’t going to get into that now. Ruby’s comment was taken lightly, stored away, and recalled several years later. It was in my memory, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. I dismissed it as a family story that possibly had been told, retold, and changed over the years. However, once I hit the dead end on the Eley line I was thinking of what happened that could cause this dead-end problem. Perhaps there is something to the comment about Daddy’s biological father being Uncle Johnny Edwards.

While growing up in rural West Carroll Parish our family and the Lee families stayed close to the Edwards family from Alabama or the Alabama folks as they were called. Daddy went to Alabama to visit those folks a few times, as I recalled. The Edwards family came to Louisiana many times over the years and it was always a big event when they came to visit. The family looked forward to these visits. That was when it was time for the family reunion.

So maybe there is something to that story, and it is worth researching further. First, Ruby and I made a visit to Aunt Gladys Copes to interview her and get information about the Eley family. We both were disappointed because Aunt Gladys didn’t know anything other than Granddaddy Jack had a brother whom lived in Rayville. They visited him occasionally. That proved to be wrong information. The brother turned out to be Granddaddy’s Uncle Robert Lawrence the youngest of Robert Lawrence Eley’s children. Granddaddy’s father Joe was the guardian of the younger Robert. So now it was time to turn to a new tool DNA testing. This was the beginning of using DNA testing along with genealogical research to prove our familial linage.   

It was time to use this new tool with the genealogical paper trail and find the Eley family connection. My brother agreed to take the Y-DNA test for me, so I ordered the Y-DNA 67 marker test from Family Tree DNA. When the results came back I was not concerned the Eley surnames weren’t listed, and there were close matches to three Edwards names. I didn’t know enough about DNA testing to know that Edwards was what I needed to look at until the Edwards Project Administrator, a close cousin contacted me and asked me for my pedigree chart for my Edwards surname. He said we are a close match and we share a common ancestor.  After corresponding with this newfound cousin, we determined that Esters Eley’s biological father was John Houston Edwards “Uncle Johnny Edwards.”

Over a period of four years, using Y-DNA 67 Marker Test results and genealogical research the Edwards familial lineage has been proven as the biological line of Esters Eley. Using Y-DNA testing and genealogical research the family story was laid to rest, and Daddy’s biological father verified. This proves how important it is too do the research thoroughly and to use DNA with the research to verify family lineages. One other tidbit to keep in mind is that family stories may sound like fallacies, but they usually have a bit of truth in them.

[3] Year: 1850; Census Place: Spring Hill, Drew, Arkansas; Roll: M432_26; Page: 96A; Image: 197
[4] Year: 1860; Census Place: Veasey, Drew, Arkansas; Roll: M653_41; Page: 181; Image: 181; Family History Library Film: 803041
[5] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
[6] Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007.
7] Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.
[8] /image/223747156; January 30, 2010.
[9] The Honored 600, Company B, 23rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment, Confederate States of America.
[10] National Park Service. U. S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865,
[12] Year: 1840; Census Place: Tippah, Mississippi; Roll: 219; Page: 199; Image: 403; Family History Library Film: 0014842
[13] Marriage Bond 106, State of Louisiana Parish of Morehouse 14th Jucicial district Court. Josiah Eley and Eliza Jane Green, 14 Jan 1879.
[14] Tutorship Probate 472, State of Louisiana Parish Court for the Parish of Morehouse, 28 May 1870,
[15] Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 6, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: M593_517; Page: 256A; Image: 515; Family History Library Film: 552016
[16] Year: 1880; Census Place: 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: 457; Family History Film: 1254457; Page: 474A; Enumeration District: 058; Image: 0188
[17] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
[18] Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 6, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: M593_517; Page: 210B; Image: 424; Family History Library Film: 552016
[19] Year: 1880; Census Place: 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: 457; Family History Film: 1254457; Page: 474A; Enumeration District: 058; Image: 0188
[20] Marriage Bond 460, R. L Eley and Theodothia Hamby, State of Louisiana Parish of Morehouse, 14th Judicial District Court, 13 November 1880.
[21] Year: 1900; Census Place: Union, Ashley, Arkansas; Roll: 49; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0016; FHL microfilm: 1240049
[22] Year: 1930; Census Place: Police Jury Ward 3, West Carroll, Louisiana; Roll: 825; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 882.0; FHL microfilm: 2340560
[23] Year: 1940; Census Place: West Carroll, Louisiana; Roll: T627_1466; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 62-7

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Life in Small Town Dubach

Dubach High School: My Alma Mater
Esther Eley Jones
3 May 2015

Dubach High School, Dubach, Louisiana 1962
My family moved from Concord Community in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana in the summer of 1957, when I was fourteen years old. We moved to Clay, Jackson Parish, Louisiana and lived on Mrs. Ceigal Kavanaugh’s place on Highway 167. Kathryn, Johnny, and I enrolled in Quitman School where I was going into the ninth grade and finished the tenth grade there.

Quitman was one of those schools where the students and faculty were friendly and welcomed you as if you were one of their own. I played basketball and made friends there and I remember them today. However, I wasn’t to graduate high school at Quitman because the grownups who were working with Mr. Billy, who had moved with him from West Carroll Parish were moving to Dubach in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana. Those who were moving with us made it a little easier for us in changing schools, going into a new school, and making new friends.  Mariam was my best friend, and the Hutsons moved nearby. So the transition from Quitman to Dubach High School work rather smoothly. I was going into the eleventh grade and I only had one year after that, I would graduate and move onto another venture in my life. The students and teachers made the transition into Dubach High School work for me, even though it wasn’t as smoothly as Quitman High. The town of Dubach was one of those places where you fit in or you were an outsider.

We were outsiders because we weren’t kin to the Colvins, Greens, Balls, Smiths, and Tatums, because those families made up most of the Dubach, Lincoln Parish area. Everyone was kin to each other one way or another. The school and the churches were all made up of kinfolks. There was a large Colvin Reunion every year at the Colvin Memorial and that was a “big” thing there.
At Dubach High School, there were the cliques, or those who were smart, popular, and upper class status.  There were those who were average intelligence and middle class, and whose friends were of the same class. Then there were those who weren't so popular and had a “reputation” and you were warned to stay away from that group. In addition, there were some of those intelligent middle class students that had “reputations” also. There was nothing they would not do, just to get a laugh or to be clowns. Now all these many years later I look back and none of those classes matter, because we were teens and the goal was to graduate from high school, and if possible go on to college. That I did and went on to graduate school.

There were new friends in the eleventh grade as well as an old friend Mariam. We had a group that would hang out in study hall and work on homework. Study hall was a place where we could catch up on our assignments and anything else that needed to be caught up on. We had one in the group who was the nerd so we all depended on her to help us with our homework, then there was the guy that wanted to hang out with us girls. Then the rest of the group was just average students. This group helped me pass my geometry class that year.

My friend Mariam liked this guy named Woody. Well, Woody had asked Mariam out on a date, but she couldn’t go with him alone. She had to have someone go with them. Woody had already graduated, and Mariam and I were in the twelfth grade by this time. There was a friend of Woody’s named Jimmy. Woody could ask him to go, Mariam could ask me to go, and we would blind date on Friday night. Therefore, the plan worked and we double dated on a blind date with Mariam and Woody, and Jimmy and me.

What did we do on a first blind date we went to Ruston to the A & W Rootbeer Drive In? Then we drove around in Ruston on the Louisiana Polytechnic Campus, and then our dates took us home.  You have to understand we didn’t have any money to do anything else and the food was cheap at A & W. Also, we couldn’t stay out late, we had a curfew to abide by and that was 10:00.

That blind date for Jimmy and me turned out to be a permanent date, and were married and he completed his studies at Louisiana Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. We moved to New Orleans where he worked for the aerospace industry for the Michaud Plant. Mariam and Woody didn’t hit it off and they parted ways after that first date. Well, Jimmy and me, fifty-four years later we are still together and life goes on even though the logging business for Daddy was short lived. 

The logging business was short lived  for Daddy, and Mr. Billy moved on to another venture. Daddy moved to South Louisiana and worked in the oil fields until 1965. At which time Hurricane Betsy came through Buras, in Placquemines Parish so Daddy left there and didn't return. After that venture, he moved to Sibley, out from Choudrant and was the overseer of Brewster Chicken Farm that later became Hinton Chicken farm, and he retired from there. Then Daddy and Mother settled in their little home in Corinth Community close to Buddy and his family and lived there the remainder of their lives. 

Daddy had farmed for most of his life, except for a brief time when he worked on the pipeline in West Carroll Parish, so giving up farming and moving away from West Carroll Parish to Jackson Parish was a major decision for him. He left behind his family, Aunt Leakie, Cousin Bill, Aunt Nannie, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Ellen, Granny Eley, and numerous cousins. He had lived near them and stayed close for as long as I can remember, but this all changed when we moved away.

However, life went on I graduated from high school, Mother and my siblings moved away. I married my high school sweet heart and after his graduation from Louisiana Polytechnic College, we moved on to the next chapter in our lives.