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  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Connecting with Lee Cousins

Frances "Fannie" Drucilla Emmaliza Lee

Researching family is a fun hobby, especially when connecting with living cousins. Connecting with living cousins is possible by using all available resources such as social media, blogging, and DNA testing.

Social media is a great tool for family historians and researchers. Facebook Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinerest, and Linkedin are a few of the social media sites. These web-based technologies allow users to connect with others and share information.

Recently I connected with a descendant-in-law of Frances “Fannie” Drucilla Emmaliza Lee. Fannie married Clem Thompson. They had a son named Grover Cleveland, who married, and he and his wife had a son named Fred Harold. Then, Fred, Sr. and his wife had a child and that is where I connected with a living cousin.

Connecting with this living cousin was made possible by this online site, my blog, using Google Blogger. My living cousin stumbled across my blog and found the contact information and contacted me. We then corresponded to determine the connection. We are related on my paternal Lee line. Then we connected on a social media site and are sharing information. It has been a fun journey researching and connecting with living cousins.  

Mrs Frances Drucilla Emmaliza Lee Thompson

BIRTH 22 Sep 1859 Tallapoosa County, Alabama, USA
DEATH 5 Dec 1918 Talladega County, Alabama, USA
BURIAL Vincent Cemetery, Vincent, Shelby County, Alabama, USA

Family Members
Father: Benjamin Lee born – 1807–1859
Mother: Drucilla Lee – 1811–1895

Clem Thompson –1839 – 1901
Married:  14 July 1877, Clay County, Alabama
Elizabeth “Betsy” Lee 1838 – 1850/1860
Thomas Jordan Lee 1839–1916
Benjamin William Henry Lee 1841–1882
Lettie Jane Lee Patterson 1844–1914
William Alfred Lee 1847–1917
Charlotte Saphronia Lee Sharbutt 1849–1935
George Washington Lafayette Lee 1855–1932

Alace Stella Thompson Edwards 1877–1966
Sarah D. Thompson Dewberry 1878–1939
Zackeriah B. Thompson (died young)        
Albert L. Thompson 1883–1935
Grover Cleveland Thompson 1885–1970
John Harlan Thompson 1889–1973
Mallory S. Thompson 1893–1937

Monday, December 11, 2017

Life's Earthly Journey is Complete

The Last Chapter of History

Another chapter of history was completed on December 7, 2017. What is history anyhow? According to the dictionary.com, history is a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written as a chronological account. Do you think of the death of a person or a loved one as the completion of history? There are a series of events in our lives as we journey through life. These events happen in chronological order. They end at the time of death.

Mary Ann McKinney, my brother’s wife, completed her journey through life December 7, 207, and the last chapter was complete. She was sixty-eight years old at the time of her death. She was a lady who touched and changed many lives. You may be asking what lives did she touch and how did she do that? Mary Ann taught school for thirty-four years. Those who are not teacher/educators may not be aware of the impact that a teacher/educator has on the lives of the students who are assigned to their classrooms.

There were a lot of children who came through her fourth-grade classroom over those thirty-four years. The students she taught were of average and low ability levels, middle income families and low-income families, but to Mary Ann they were all the same. She loved teaching, her love for her students were evident in the stories she shared of them, and the years that she spent in the classroom. Teaching is a tough profession; however, the reward is knowing that you have touched a life and put a glow of hope into a life.

Family was an important part of Mary Ann’s life. Her immediate family was her husband, two children, and five grandchildren. Then, there was her only sibling, a brother who was special to her. He didn’t live his life as his sister would have chosen for him; however, she loved him because he was “her brother.”

She was a talented lady and was as some folks would call it, a traditionalist. “Things need to stay as they are, they work well, and no one should change them,” she would say. When computers were being introduced into the classrooms, she was happy with things as they were and wasn’t interested in learning to use one, and she managed her classroom without a computer. She loved decorating in themes and which was a skill she used in her teaching as well as her home.

One might say that family themes are events in a person’s life and covers many aspects. There are celebrations such as births and deaths, holidays, education, occupation, traditions, spiritual, social and traditions. Mary Ann wanted things to be decorated according to the event that was taking place at that time.

Once she retired from teaching, she took on the challenge of leading the senior adult group in her church. She worked with the “Joy” group in the church and prepared their events, such as the speakers and the meals. She saved the decorations from her years of classroom teaching and used those to decorate the dinner tables in the Family Life Center, the meeting place for the senior adult group. She was creative in many ways due to her education and training as a teacher/educator.

Mary Ann doesn’t know how many lives she touched and changed; but she loved the journey she took along the way. As we journey through life we don’t know how many lives we touch. The same is true about our ancestors as they journeyed through life. They didn’t know they would have descendants who would be looking at their lives and mapping their journey. Some of those ancestors’ lives are easy to map and others are a bit more difficult for whatever reason. However, we continue to look for ways to identify them and map their lives so that we can be assured we have the correct ancestor.

One day Mary Ann will be someone’s ancestor who will be researching and mapping her life. Her descendants will research her life and map it as we do ours. It will be an easy task for her descendants since she lived and died in the area where she was born. She lived and died in the house she grew up in, taught at the same elementary school she attended as a student, attended the same church as a child and adult, married in the same church, attended college in her hometown, and was well educated with a plus thirty in education. Her journey through life from birth up to the time of her death was an interesting venture. She worked to improve the quality of life or others.

Mary Ann’s death came suddenly and unexpectedly. Humans are not assured of tomorrow, so are you living each day more consciously. Or, are you sleepwalking through life? Life is full of experiences while making the journey. Are those experiences ones that your descendants will be proud of and be happy to say, "this is my ancestor."

As we journey through life our descendants will we proud to call us their ancestors or they will be saddened by the life we lived? What will they be able to say about us? For each of us our final chapter will come, and we will be someone’s ancestor. How will our final chapter read?

A peach orchard near Ruston, Louisiana
Photograph courtesy of Office of Louisiana Tourism

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday's Tip

Land Records

The United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management website has a treasure trove of information for genealogists. It is a time intensive and an educational trove for anyone who is interested in learning about land records and the history of public lands. Since I have been researching my paternal great grandparents, William Alfred Lee and Emma Meadows, I have wondered why they migrated from Alabama to Louisiana. There were events that I have uncovered while researching the Lee family, and one of those events could have been the reason for them leaving Alabama. However, I could not find the evidence to prove why they migrated. I thought possibly the Lee family migrated to Louisiana because of cheap land for sale.

I have reconnected with two of my Lee second cousins once removed and over the years we have shared research notes and family stories. Recently one of my Lee cousins messaged to tell me that she had land information for William Alfred Lee, her great great grandfather, and that she would email it to me. Well, I did the genealogy happy dance? This was a great find, and answered the question I have asked since I have been researching the W. A. Lee family. Did they own land? This is my first rich find for land records. With the assistance of my husband, I went to the Bureau of Land Management website. He has taught classes on using land records in researching our ancestors.

My cousin acquired the land information from another Lee cousin. He took a trip to the Jackson Parish Courthouse to look through the land records. He found the conveyance record for the W. A. Lee land in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. My cousin sent me the land description, not the actual conveyance record. I will soon make a courthouse trip and acquire of copy of the conveyance record. And make a trip to Ouachita Parish Courthouse to check out land records there. The cousin who found the record lives near the plot of land that W. A. owned, and wasn’t aware he owned the land or the location of the land until he found the record.

Armed with the new land information, I went to the Bureau of Land Management website , put in the location, land description and clicked on search patents. The results came up and the Accession number was LA1280 .356 Duke, Charles the date 5/10/1898, Doc# 7812, LA then the township range 015N-001E, then the Aliquots NE1/4, Section # 14, County Jackson.

You then click on the image and a copy of the certificate comes up, then you may print a copy of the certificate. 

When I put in the land description, the patent search results gave me a name for the original owner of the land, Charles Duke. Charles was issued the land May 10, 1898. When I looked at the Patent Details I noticed this was a Homestead Entry Original. You can check out the history of Our Record Keeping History here. Public Lands History Timeline here. Surveys takes you to the original survey description. Also, a map of the township is shown.

If you click on the Patent Details on that page where the copy of the certificate is, there are details of the land with a map. Where the words Land Description is on that same page, directly below those words, there is the word Map. Click on Map and the township map comes up. This is where you can use Irfranview to snip a copy of the map and save to your computer, or use the Snipping Tool that is installed on your computer.

This is my first rich find for land records. Learning how to use land description to plot out your ancestor’s property and locate it on a map isn’t difficult. It lets you see your ancestor in the context of his surroundings such as churches, schools and physical features of the land. Once you discover where your ancestor’s land located then you can take a virtual tour on Google Earth.

The question of did William Alfred Lee own land has been answered. Now my next three projects are to research Charles Duke to see if he is connected to the Lee family, make a courthouse trip to the Jackson Parish Courthouse to get a copy of the original conveyance record and any other records available, and make a courthouse trip to the Ouachita Parish Courthouse to look for land records for W. A. Lee in Ouachita Parish. Research for this project is ongoing.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday's Maps

Plot of William Alfred Lee's Land in Jackson Parish, Louisiana About 1905

1907 Parish Map of Louisiana

Current Map from Google Maps of Jackson Parish, Louisiana

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday’s Record

Land of William Alfred Lee

The Lee, Edwards, Winn, and related families arrived in Jackson Parish, Louisiana about 1903 from Elmore County, Alabama. William Alfred Lee and his wife and children left Elmore County after the enumeration of the 1900 census. The window of time when they arrived in Jackson Parish was estimated by looking at the birth dates and places of birth of the grandchildren of William A. Lee. Why did these families migrate to Jackson Parish? Were they looking for a better life? Were they running away from the law? Were they looking for cheap land? Were they job hunting? Trying to answer the question, why these families left Alabama and settled in Louisiana is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It won’t be found, unless there is a manuscript or records somewhere that hasn’t been uncovered in researching this family.

One question has been answered though, and the question was did William A. Lee own land in Jackson Parish. This question was answered because a Lee cousin thought possibly the Lee family owned land. So, this cousin recently took a road trip to the courthouse in Jackson Parish. At the courthouse a conveyance record was found for W. A. Lee, my great grandfather. Since I don’t have a copy of the actual conveyance record, I have a road trip planned to the courthouse in Jackson Parish. While I am on the road I also plan a trip to the courthouse in Ouachita Parish. It stated on the record that W. A. lived in Ouachita Parish about 1905.

April 15, 1910 William A. Lee was living in District 53, Ward 1, Jackson Parish, Louisiana near Pine Bluff and Columbia Roads. He owned forty acres described as NE ¼ of the NE ¼ Sec14, T15N R1E. Great grandfather William Alfred Lee paid seventy-five dollars for the land, and later was paid eighty-five dollars by the Tremont Lumber Company for the pine timber.

I looked for the original land owner of the property who W. A. Lee acquired the land from and found the original certificate on the U S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management in the General Land Office Records. It was originally homestead land. The land was acquired by Charles Duke through the Homestead Act.

How long did the W. A. Lee family live in Jackson Parish, Louisiana? Where did they go after leaving Jackson Parish? William Alfred Lee died 18 October 1917 in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish and Emma died 11 November 1920 in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish. They both are interred at the Oak Grove Cemetery in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

There are several unanswered questions about the William Alfred Lee family. The research is ongoing, and it may take years to find the answers. I will enjoy the hunt along the way for the answers.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Surname Saturday

The Mysterious Carmack

The challenge in researching the William R. Carmack family line is lack of records for that time in which I am researching. The other problem is that online family trees show William R. Carmack with no child named Drucilla, and those online trees show William R. Carmack with varying names for his parents. Drucilla, according to Lee relatives, was a Carmack. There are no historical records to link her to her parents,William R. and Pency Kent Carmack.

The question remains, who are her parents? How does Drucilla fit into the family? One of my Edwards cousins married a descendant of Benjamin and Drucilla Lee. They had a daughter named Frances “Fannie” Drucilla Emmaliza Lee and the descendant is from Fannie’s line.

Who is Drucilia? This question is an easy one to answer if I look at the family trees for the Lee family; however, to prove she is a Carmack is an impossible research tasks because there are no records to link Drucilia to her parents. The link that I have made from Drucilia to William R. is an indirect link. There is a William Carmack on the 1820-1840 censuses. I have taken each of the censuses put the assumed children of William and Pency in the age categories and they fit the categories for each census year. The estimated ages for Willam and Pency also fit their categories. Drucilia, her husband Benjamin, and their children are listed on the 1850 Tallapoosa County, Alabama census and living in the area is William, Pency was deceased by 1850. Also, William’s son John and his family lived in Tallapoosa County. Then, there was an 1855 Tallapoosa County census with William, John and James Carmack listed on it. Using these censuses to make an indirect connection from Drucilia to William is the closest that I have come to connecting Drucilia to William Carmack. William R. Carmack didn’t leave a will, or one hasn’t been placed online yet. Wills sometimes have the children’s names listed in them, and the connection from the parent to the child is proven.

Drucilla married Benjamin Lee about 1830 give or take a few years. Elizabeth “Betsy” is the first child that was born, or is listed on the 1850 census. Although there possibly is another child that I am unaware of in researching the Benjamin Lee family.

Benjamin Lee was forty-three years old and wife Drucilla was thirty-two years and they are living in Township 24, Tallapoosa County, Alabama in 1850. Their children are Elizabeth was twelve years old and was born about 1838 in Georgia, Jourdin T. ten years old and born in Alabama about 1840, Benjamin W. eight years old and born in Alabama, Lety J. seven years old born about 1843 in Alabama, and the youngest child was Charlote C. two years old and born 1848 in Alabama. Probably, Benjamin and Drucilla were married in Georgia since Elizabeth was born in Georgia. It is assumed these are their children since the relationship for the 1850 census doesn’t state the relationship.

Drucilla Lee is living in Youngsville, Western Division or Beat 2, in Tallapoosa County in 1860, and Benjamin is absent on the census with her and the children. However, living near her is a Patterson family and Drucilla and Benjamin’s son Thomas is living with the Patterson family. The Black family lives nearby Drucilla. Their son Henry married Sarah Ann Black and they live in dwelling 1357 and Drucilla lives in dwelling 1356 with Saphronia twelve years old, William A. ten years old, Washington seven years old, and two-year-old Francis. The mystery here is that William A. was born in Georgia and Saphronia was born in Alabama. Did Drucilla go back to Georgia to be  near family to have William A. Lee? Possibly she did go back to Georgia to be near her family to have her baby, William A.  Women sometimes would go back to be near family when they were expecting a child. Washington and Francis were born in Alabama. Where is Benjamin in 1860? Since the 1860 doesn’t state relationships or whether married, single, divorced, or widow I can only assume what happened to Benjamin before the 1860 census was taken.

In 1866 Drucilia and the three males and three females are living in Tallapoosa County and Drucilla is head of the household. Therefore, it is presumed that Benjamin Lee was deceased by 1866.

I haven’t found Drucilia listed on an 1870 census; however, she may be living with one of her family members or a relative. In 1880 Drucecila was living with her daughter Fannie Thomason, husband Clem, daughter Alice, Sarah, and son Zacheriah B. in District 141, Hackneyville, in Tallapoosa County. Druecilia is a boarder and was born in North Carolina as were her parents. Again, Benjamin Lee is missing from the census and is presumed to have died before the 1860 census since he isn’t on any records after 1850.

The parentage of Drucilla Lee will remain uncertain until records are found that will connect her to her parents. However, the indirect evidence and family stories are as close as I can get in connecting her to William R. Carmack and Pency Kent as her parents. Research will continue, and possibly historical records and DNA evidence will prove or disprove the parentage of Drucilla.
Tallapoosa County, Alabama

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.