Monday, May 2, 2016

William's Famous Peas

I wrote a story about my distant first cousin Capt. William Fulford several years ago. That told of the unfortunate circumstance of his house being blown up in 1863 by Union troops. They were trying to put out a fire on Front Street in Beaufort, North Carolina, that had started in the kitchen of his neighbor Mr. Ensley and intentionally blew up William's house as a crude fire break.

I found this article in the July 26, 1859 edition of the New Bern Weekly Progress, four years before the fire. The same Mr. Ensley who started the fire, was trying to get some notice for the gardening skills of Capt. Fulford so he took his extra large peas to the newspaper in New Bern.
I think my daughter inherited the Fulford gardening chromosome because she produced some pretty large organic Kale in her backyard last summer and even sold some to the local grocery store.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Confederate Memorial Day

If you live in Montgomery, Alabama you would find the State offices closed today. It is one of the few States that still recognizes Confederate Memorial Day and calls it by that name.

First White House
Several years ago I received a book, Sweet Mystery, from a distant cousin who had researched her family history and learned I had a connection not only to Montgomery but to one of the more unusual Confederate Memorials. Several of the stories I will share come from her book.

In this day of trying to change our history to make it more acceptable I thought this would be a good time to tell the story. It has all the components of what any history contains, some good and some not so good parts. You can take it as a whole or only focus on those components that make you comfortable.

If you visit downtown Montgomery one of the places on any Tourist Map is the First White House of the Confederacy. The house was built in the 1830s and shortly before the original seven States, that had been first to secede, formed a Provisional Confederate Congress it had been bought by Edmund Harrison of Lowndes County Alabama. Colonel Harrison as he was called was the 2nd husband of Elizabeth C. Ware. Elizabeth's mother, Judith Anthony, had been married first to William Green in Georgia and after he died, she married Robert Alexander Ware and moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1822. So Elizabeth was the step-sister of my distant Green family cousins.

Exchange Hotel 1961
Colonel Harrison offered to lease his house to the Confederate Congress for use of the newly appointed President Jefferson Davis in February 1861.

The house was leased for $5,000 a year fully furnished with servants. Unfortunately by the time Jefferson Davis and his wife moved in, on April 14, 1861 the weather in Montgomery was already hot with a "record breaking heat wave" so on  May 20, 1861 the Provisional Confederate Congress decided to move the Confederate Capitol to Richmond, Virginia. Harrison sold the house three months later for $20,000 to Willis Calloway.

The fact that the First White House is one of the more revered places in Montgomery is strange since it was only used by Jefferson Davis for five weeks. In fact Davis camped out at the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery for almost twice as long. Unfortunately the old hotel was torn down in 1973 to make way for a new office building. This was three years before the old White House was renovated and opened as a tourist attraction.

Colonel Harrison could easily afford to lease the house with servants because he was one of the larger slave owners in the area. I found a family history blog page trying to trace some of his former slaves.

On the 1850 census Harrison is listed as owning 71 slaves and on the 1860 census the number had grown to 79.

Cowles Mansion in Montgomery
I am currently reading a biography of Theodore Roosevelt that talks about his mother's family in Savannah, Georgia being slave owners while his father was an abolitionist from New York. The author says TR's Georgia grandfather was listed as a Planter on the 1850 census because he owned land and more than 20 slaves. I'd never heard the definition of Planter being tied to the number twenty and am not sure if this was widely accepted but Harrison and the Ware family in Montgomery were all listed as Planters.

1860 Slave Census - Elizabeth Cowles
Elizabeth Ware was also a large slave owner. The story goes that when her parents moved from Georgia to Montgomery they brought 20 slaves.

Elizabeth's first husband, Thomas Meriwether Cowles, was listed with 112 slaves in 1850 and owned not only a large plantation but a mansion in Montgomery on River Street. Today both the house and the street no longer exist.

According to the History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, published in 1921, when President Millard Fillmore visited Montgomery in 1854 he spent the day at the Cowles Plantation.  After Cowles died in 1857 his estate was divided between wife Elizabeth and his two siblings, so on the 1860 census she was only listed with 22 slaves.

So if you want to just conclude this was a terrible family who made their money on the backs of slaves, kidnapped from their home country and forced to a life of horrors, you should stop reading now.

The other side of the story, and the family, are those who after the Civil War used their money, reputation and risked their lives to do good for the former slaves.

Elizabeth Ware's niece, Augusta Knox Walker was born in a mansion in downtown Montgomery, the first floor occupied by Yankee Army Officers, in 1871. Her grandfather, Henry Tabb Walker was from Memphis and had organized the 2nd Regiment Confederate Infantry among the Irish Immigrants in Memphis and fought at Shiloh with his 17 year old son Hal. The grandfather fell ill soon after with Typhoid and Dysentery and went home to Memphis to die. His son, the father of  Knoxie Walker, joined on as aide to Confederate Calvary General Frank Crawford Armstrong for the rest of the war.
William Burns Patterson

Knoxie Walker's future husband was also in Alabama about 80 miles from Montgomery. His father, William Burns Patterson, an Immigrant, from Tullibody Scotland moved to Alabama during the Reconstruction years and settled first in Hale County, Alabama. He started teaching former slaves, now working for the railroad, how to read and write. He started a school in 1871 and called it Tullibody Academy in Greensboro, Alabama.

In 1878 he moved to Marion, Alabama to run the American Missionary Association's Lincoln School. In 1873 the Alabama legislature provided funds and renamed it the Normal College for Negroes. This was the first State sponsored college for blacks and quickly became known as a "Teachers College."

The campus of the school in Marion was burned by vigilantes in 1880. The Alabama legislature in 1887 allocated $10,000 to build a new campus for the Normal College in Montgomery.  The school was renamed Alabama State University in 1969 and today has over 5,500 students.
Tullibody Hall Montgomery Normal College - 1906

Will Patterson continued as the head of the school after it moved to Montgomery and served for a total of 37 years.

He also started a nursery business, called Rosemont Gardens, growing flowers in the back yard. Several years after the move to Montgomery he and his wife awoke in the middle of the night to find a cross burning outside their small frame shotgun house and a note giving them 24 hours to leave town. The next night the vigilantes returned to find him sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. As they came closer to the house they also found five Confederate veterans from Montgomery sitting on the porch in back of Will Patterson, with their rifles across their laps. That was the end of his problems with vigilantes.

The Patterson family sent roses to the five former Confederates every year on their birthdays for as long as they lived, as a sign of gratitude for the way they helped save the school.

So there are a lot of memories of Confederates today. You'll find celebrations in many small towns and folks dressed in period costumes. You won't see most of these on the news and if they are talked about, it won't be kindly. But there are many sides to the story of what happened and sometimes we need to open our minds to the other side, from what makes us feel comfortable.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

DNA Day Sale 2016

I haven't posted any stories for a while as I have been pretty busy but hope to get back sharing about my family history research soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass on information about National DNA day, coming up this Monday.

The DNA testing services for genealogy research will have reduced products so it's a good time to order a test. Below is an email I received from Family Tree DNA but and will have special prices Monday also.

Dear Group Administrators,
As you may know, National DNA Day is April 25th, and commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.  
At  Family Tree DNA, we celebrate those accomplishments by having a sale on DNA tests for genealogy! 
Later today, at some point before our offices close (that’s 5:00 pm Central, Thursday, April 21), we’re launching the much-anticipated DNA Day Sale. which will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM Central).
We’ll begin emailing the customer base later today, but we wanted you to know about it before we do.

The prices are below, and are valid on new tests and add-ons only. Discounts do not combine with existing group discounts. Upgrades will be discounted in June.

Retail Pricing
   Sale Price
Family Finder
mtFull Seq
SNP Packs
mtDNA plus
Not on Sale
As always, thank you for your hard work! We appreciate you.
The Family Tree DNA Team

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Presidential Connection

I started reading Jimmy Carter's latest book this week. I had requested a digital copy about a month ago from our local Library, before he announced he had cancer.

I had never read any of his other books so when I heard him announce his cancer fight live in a press conference, while driving across the State a couple weeks ago I was even more interested in reading it.

In the first chapter he talks about his family history and how the Church of Later Day Saints had given him a book about his ancestors back when he was President. His son has since become interested in genealogy and has traced the family tree in more depth. 

I have to admit Jimmy Carter was and is my favorite of all the Presidents I've known about first hand.

This reminded me that I found a family connection to his mother a number of years ago. Bessie Lillian Gordy Carter, who the press called "Miss Lillian" was the first cousin of the wife of my first cousin, 2x removed.

Eleanor Gordy married Carl William Bahrt in 1926, the son of my Great Aunt, Luddie Garner Bahrt. Eleanor was born in Columbus, Georgia and Carl was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. They met when he went to college at Georgia Tech. They ended up in Galveston, Texas where he worked as an Engineer. They died within a month of each other in 1989.

The 1925 Georgia Tech yearbook has this bio for Carl: 

"Carlos has succeeded in making an ideal college life for himself. A happy medium between hard study and the social side of life. Consequently he has developed into an efficient engineer and a dog with the women."

I wonder if that last trait would show up in our DNA match.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Gone a Hundred Years

Today is the 100th anniversary of my grandmothers' death. It is kind of strange to think that your grandmother has been dead for 100 years.

Obviously I never met her and my Dad was only three years old when she died.

Seth Rowell family

Ila L Rowell was born in 1885 in the Shady Grove community of Taylor County Florida and died August 24, 1915 in Perry, Florida. She was only 28 years old and apparently died from a heart problem.

This Rowell family picture was taken about 1900 and shows her standing on the far left at age 15. Her mother Martha Jane Williams Rowell is standing next to her and her father Seth David Rowell is sitting on the far right. Her grandmother, Versanoy Smith Rowell is sitting next to her father.

She married Millard Fillmore Green in January 8, 1905 and had her fist son, Alton a year later. She had four more sons over the next 10 years.

Ila Rowell Green

On the 1910 census it showed she also had one daughter who had died.

Most of the Rowells I've met have red or light colored hair but all her photos look like her hair was dark. My oldest sister was named after her but didn't inherit the dark hair.

A transcript of the Perry newspaper article is below.

The Taylor County Herald
August 1915

Death of Mrs. Ila Green

The many friends and even neighbors of Mrs. Ila Green were shocked Tuesday about noon to learn that she was dead. She had been in better health than usual during the past few weeks, but Tuesday morning was complaining some, nothing to cause alarm, and her body was found about 12 o'clock, still warm, but lifeless. Heart failure is given as the cause.

Ila Rowell Green Grave Marker
Mr. Green was away from home at the time of her death, being the county census enumerator, but was reached during the day and came home at once, and the shock was almost unbearable to him.

Mrs. Green was 28 years of age and a devout Christian. She was a member of the Baptist church and her life work demonstrated that she was truly consistent with her belief. Mr. and Mrs. Green had been married ten years and five boys, the youngest less than a year old, are left motherless, while no words can express the loss to this husband and companion.

The funeral took place Wednesday morning in the City Cemetery, Rev. J. A. Kirtley having charge of the ceremonies. Many friends attended the burial service thereby expressing their appreciation of the life work of this good woman.

Ila Green was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Perry, Florida. The first family member in a large plot my grandfather bought. He was the last one buried there in 1973.

Her grave marker had deteriorated so much my grandfather had it replaced shortly before he died with a marble column.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stay Away From the Big City

Thomas Fulford was the brother of my great great grandfather. He was one of those people who I only learned of because they were listed on one of the census records.

When you do family history research there are a lot of these folks. They show up on a census or bible record as being in the family but then you don't know what happened to them. When the next census was done, ten years later, they aren't listed. I probably have hundreds or thousands of these people in my records.

Thomas Fulford was the youngest son in the family of Col. Thomas and Susan Fulford and was born in 1840. On the 1850 and 1860 census he was living with the family in the Straits area of Carteret County, North Carolina and then he disappeared.

In my records I just showed that he died sometime after 1860 but had no other information about him. With the Civil War just after that, I assumed he had enlisted and died or just moved away by the time the 1870 census came out.

Recently I obtained some family estate records from the period and one of them was a $20 promissory note to Ralph Martin signed by Thomas Fulford on September 18, 1860 in New York City.

Promissory Note

The note was very unusual and I had no information about him or other family members living in New York and wasn't sure why this would be in the family records. I decided to check Census and City directories in New York for him.

He was not and there was only one Fulford listed who had been born in North Carolina, a distant cousin Captain William Hawkins Fulford. Captain W. H. Fulford was a Sea Captain who operated out of New York and sailed literally around the world many times in the 1860-1870s.

I had newspaper records of him regularly delivering cargo to Carteret County, North Carolina around this same time and wondered if Thomas Fulford had hired on as a member of his crew and that is how he ended up in New York. It was certainly possible since they were close to the same age and Capt. Fulford's father and siblings lived in the area.

So if Thomas Fulford was living in New York in September 1860, what happened to him?

I started checking the death records which were available online and found a listing for a Thomas Fulford on October 11, 1860. It didn't have any details other than a name and date so I contacted the City of New York to see if they had death certificates from this period.

I was surprised to receive the ledger below, which shows the Thomas Fulford who died October 11th was born in North Carolina and 21 years old, which matched my great uncle.  

Then I noticed the second page and cause of death listed as Confluent Smallpox. It wasn't unusual for Sailors to contract Smallpox while traveling to other countries and then bring it back to port towns. Philadelphia had a Smallpox epidemic in 1860 and New York had over 2,000 cases even though effective vaccines had been available for over 40 years.

New York City Death Certificates October 1860
Confluent Smallpox was one of the more severe forms of the disease where the blisters form over the entire surface of the skin and the fatality rate was double that of the ordinary type. It was a gruesome and painful way to die. The death certificate shows Thomas died at a hospital but does not say which one.

He was buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery. In the family records I found a receipt to Griffin Titus for the funeral and grave marker. The total cost was $66.00 and $21.25 was for a grave marker.

Funeral bill
I decided to try and locate his grave. Trinity Church Cemetery is an old one and they have tours for tourists to show the graves of famous people, such as Astors, Audubons and former NYC Mayor Koch who are buried there.

I found a New York City Historian and newspaper columnist who wrote about Trinity Cemetery and he was kind enough to respond to my email. I asked if there were records to identify the location of old graves. He had a copy of a book published in 1931 "Gravestone Inscriptions of Trinity Cemetery, New York City, New York," that listed all the legible markers.

There was one for Thomas and the marker was shown in the "Parish Ground" of the Eastern Division of the Trinity Church Uptown Cemetery.
Book excerpt
The cemetery office has an archivist who checked the area. He said he could not locate a marker but from the description in their records he gave the location as "behind the Church of Intercession near the tree stump altar."

There are thousands of graves in the cemetery and I don't know if I will ever get there to check myself but plan to try.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Finding Miss Mittie

My uncle Julian died three years ago and I did some research on his family. This turned up several questions that just recently were answered.

The family knew Julian's father, even though he died before Julian married my aunt, but didn't know anything about his father's parents. Julian's father was born when his father was very old so Julian never met his grandparents.

Julian Fraser Riddick
Julian's father, Julian Washington Riddick  was born in 1892 in Jackson County Florida and died in 1960 at the VA Hospital in Pinellas County Florida.

On the 1900 census I found him and his father, Julian Fraser Riddick, living in Grassy Point, Washington County Florida but there was no sign of a mother or the many siblings that I knew he had. His father was 55 years old at the time and listed as a Widowed School Teacher. The next record I found for his father was his death in 1903 at the Old Confederate Soldier's Home in Jacksonville, Florida.

There were three generations of Julian Riddicks so it's a little confusing but the first one was born in 1845 in Suffolk City, Virginia. He enlisted in Company A, Virginia 16th Infantry Regiment on April 17, 1862 at age 16. He was discharged the next year as a Private. The Confederate Government passed a Conscript Act then excluding those under age 18.

When he died in Jacksonville his death certificate was completed with information given by Elizabeth Winfrey Reddick from Greer, Florida who he married in 1872 and had been listed as his wife on the 1880 census. She even filed for a Civil War Pension as his widow in 1917.

So where was this Elizabeth in 1900? I finally found her and four children on the census but she listed herself as a widow three years before Julian Fraser died. Elizabeth eventually ended up in Manatee County Florida with several children, the same town as Julian and his father. When she died in 1925 she was buried in the Manasota Cemetery, where Julian's father was buried in 1960.

I figured there had to be a divorce as many times women would list themselves as a widow after their marriage broke up, out of convenience. I couldn't find a divorce record as those weren't being reported to Tallahassee at the time but found a marriage record for a J Reddick and Mittie Harrison dated November 26, 1888 in Jackson County Florida. I wasn't sure if this was Julian as there were many Riddicks in the area.

Another family member told me they heard Julian and Elizabeth broke up. He wasn't sure if they divorced, but he thought Julian married again and had several children with the 2nd wife. So was this Mittie Harrison the 2nd wife, and if so, where was she on the 1900 census and why wasn't she listed on the death certificate instead of Elizabeth?

The Dothan Eagle October 28, 1931
I found a Mittie Jane Harrison listed in Holmes County Florida, near Jackson and also found a record of her 2nd marriage on January 4, 1905 to James Newton Gay in Jackson County. It didn't take long after that to find records of her on subsequent censuses, her husband's death in 1917 and her death in 1931.

The unusual thing about her death is that it was reported on the front page of the Dothan, Alabama newspaper as a result of a terrible truck accident. She was killed instantly when her step-son lost control, after being hit by another vehicle and his truck turned over several times.

Julian's family knew he had a uncle named Grady Reddick, who was younger than his father but I couldn't find Grady or Mittie on the 1900 census. He wasn't living with his father and wasn't living with Elizabeth. I figured he was with Mittie but even now I can't find them on that census.

I decided to obtain Grady's death certificate from 1960 to see what it said about his parents. Thankfully, his wife knew more about the family than the rest of us and she listed his parents as Julian Riddick and Mittie. So this became the proof needed that Mittie Harrison was the grandmother rather than Elizabeth.

Julian Fraser Riddick had eleven children born between the two wives and the youngest, daughter Anna Verra grew up with Elizabeth, the first wife. So there are still some questions that I will have to save for another day.