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.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Henry's Design Flaw

Augusta Franklin Wilson was my grandmother's brother. He was born on March 5, 1904 in Oneco, Florida and died at age 18 on January 18, 1923.

Manatee River Journal Jan 25, 1923

His father had a farm in Oneco, where he grew tomatoes other row crops. Manatee County Florida is still a major producer of tomatoes.

Frank was killed when his Dad's new Fordson tractor turned over on top of him. I have heard this story for years but only this week found a newspaper account of the event.

This is from the Manatee River Journal, dated January 25, 1923. Gasoline powered farm tractors had to be unusual in 1923, especially on small farms in rural parts of Florida.

Henry Ford only started selling the Fordson tractor in 1917. Like the Model T it soon took over the market from the smaller companies who had been there before.

Augusta Franklin Wilson
The Fordson tractor is recognizable in photos because it had a unusually large radiator on the front. This helped keep the 20 hp engine from overheating but also because the tractor had a reputation for the front end rearing up. The extra weight was supposed to prevent the type of accident that killed Frank.

Obviously they still had work to do on fixing the problem. If they had ambulances at the time, I'm sure some Ambulance Chaser would have sued Ford for negligence.

Frank was buried in the Major Adams Cemetery next to his younger brother Freddie who had died thirteen years earlier.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Era G

Dinah and her dog Nicky aboard the Era G
I have looked at this picture many times and but recently noticed the name of the boat and realized what it meant.

The "Era G" was a boat owned by my uncle Alton Green in the late 1950s to mid 1960s. We have some old home movies from trips to visit him and show us riding in the boat.

Alton was living in Jacksonville, Florida at the time and on his 5th marriage.

We called her Aunt Dinah but I didn't find out until a year or so ago that her given name was Era.

Dinah and Alton
Era Dinah Dorough was born in 1903 in Tallassee, Alabama and died in 1998 in Catawba County, North Carolina. She and Alton were married twice and divorced twice. Neither one ever had any children.

When she died Dinah was living with her sister Rubye's family because she had been sick. When Alton died in 1976, he had been living with my Dad after he came down with cancer. Both Dinah and Alton are buried next to their sibling.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Spy School

I have a couple nephews who dreamed of being a Spy when they were younger, maybe they still do. It made it easy to find birthday and Christmas presents they would appreciate for several years.

I wrote a story a while back about a distant cousin, Emeline Pigott, who was a famous Confederate Spy in North Carolina.

I found this receipt in the estate file for my ggg grandfather, Thomas Fulford. It shows his daughter Susan was going to a school, taught by the future Confederate Spy in 1858.

Susan Fulford was born on August 15, 1850 to Thomas and Susannah Whitehurst Fulford in Carteret County, North Carolina. her brother David was my gg grandfather. Her father died when she was four so her oldest brother was her legal guardian until she married and had to keep receipts like this of the expenses he paid.

Susan Fulford married Russel Willis on January 16, 1873 and they had nine children. She died September 29, 1924, living in the Marshallberg community, after falling and breaking her hip. This was five years after her former teacher. Susan and her husband are buried in the Victoria Cemetery.