Sunday, December 28, 2008

Find a Grave

One of the great web sites for genealogy research is Find A Grave
It is a totally user supported and generated online database of cemetery records. Someone creates a free user account and then adds cemetery records and they have an option to add photos of the person, grave marker and a bio.

Findagrave started in 1995 and now has over 24,000,000 records! I became a contributor since I had already documented burials at several family cemeteries but my contributions pale in comparison to other members. One member has contributed over a million memorials and 100,000 photos of grave markers in military cemeteries.
People want to see the graves of their family members and may never be able to visit them in person. Findagrave is one way they can do this. If you want to volunteer you can sign-up as a member and if someone wants a photo of a grave marker in your area you receive an email. You have the option to accept or decline the request.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I tried to locate the grave of my great grandmother in July 2008 while on a trip to Florida. Rebecca Oliff Hogan Green died in 1916 and I was told she was buried in Sandhill Cemetery in rural Taylor County Florida.

My Dad's cousin, Hubert Horne told me she was buried there next to an oak tree in an unmarked grave.Rebecca Green died as a result of a house fire. The house in Perry, Florida caught fire and somehow trying to get out, her dress caught fire. She was killed by the flames.

Hubert said he had been out to the cemetery several times. I had planed to go take some photos and let him point out the exact location of the grave so I could put a marker on it. Unfortunately Hubert died before I was able to get out there.

As it tuned out, when I tried to locate Sandhill Cemetery I couldn't get to it. I had the GPS location and directions but the dirt and yes, sand roads kept taking me to dead ends. It looked like the land is owned by timber companies and they had blocked off the roads. I figured I had gotten within about a mile of it but July in Florida is no time to take off by foot, miles from town in a place you don't know. My wife wasn't thrilled with the idea of me leaving her in the car either.

So I had to turn around and leave this mission for another day. I've put a request on findagrave and hopefully someone in the area knows a way to get to it.
View Larger Map

Sunday, December 21, 2008

15 cents

You can barely see it but the price of 15 cents is on the top of this bag of Beech Nut chewing tobacco. When my Dad died in 2001 I found the bag in his personal papers.

My Dad smoked cigarettes most of his life but didn't chew. I am 99% certain he kept this bag as a memento from his father after he died in 1973.

My grandfather, Millard Fillmore Green chewed tobacco and I can remember him with a bag of Beech Nut in his pocket or on the rocking chair of his front porch. My other grandfather also chewed but he preferred the hard block and he would cut off a plug with his knife.

Cancer, self induced or not caught up with many of my relatives but Fillmore Green was a step ahead of it.

He enjoyed sharing with everyone that he had outlived two of his doctors who told him he was going to die from one thing or another. He lived to be 93 years old and did it on his own.
He lived in his own house, had several other rental houses that he kept up with and grew vegetables that he would sell to local grocery stores. The only assistance he needed was a ride to the store since he didn't drive.
He walked every where else, including to downtown Perry, Florida every day to check his mail and visit with friends on the courthouse lawn. This photo was one I took in 1968 outside the Perry post office. I remember we were driving through town and stopped at his house to say hello. He wasn't home so we drove around for a while and found him coming out of the post office door.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

He helped build the church

In my family and my wife's, church is important and equally important as what goes on inside is what is on the sign outside.

My mother told the story that her grandfather cleared the land for the Church of Christ in Oneco, Florida with the same tractor that had flipped over and killed his son, Augustus Franklin Wilson on January 18, 1923. He supposedly parked the tractor after the death and didn't use it again until the church needed to be built. I'm not sure that is true since the church had been built around 1908.

Some in family don't like hearing their ancestor preached or was influential in a church that has another name on the sign.

My mother would not want to know her ancestor, Joseph Fulford, who she used to obtain membership in the DAR bought the land for the Anglican church to be built in 1762.

Aug. 22, 1762 The Vestry Book of St. John's Parish: "Ordered that Capt. Joseph Fulford pay the inhabitants on the east side of North River on account of building the Chappell on the east side of North River." This church is still in operation today as the Straits United Methodist Church.

My dad's great grandfather was Seth Dykes Smith who was born in 1811 in South Carolina. Seth's father and brother were ministers in the pre civil war Methodist-Episcopal church. Seth was an elder and founder of the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church in Taylor County Florida. The church was constituted on September 19, 1853.
They had a 150 year anniversary celebration several years ago and the minister invited me to attend. I didn't know a lot about the Primitive Baptist Church at the time but after reading up find they have some pretty sound ideas.

Another in my Dad's family is Shubal Stearns who founded the Sandy Creek Association in June 1758 in Randolph County NC. This was a movement originating from the Separatists Baptist in Connecticut and considered the "Mother of the Southern Baptist Church."
In many parts of the south the Hatfields and McCoy of church feuds is aka the Church of Christ and Baptists.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Have saw will travel

My wife Mary's Grandfather, Ivy Wilson Lawrence was born September 10, 1887 in the Foutch community of Smith County Tennessee .

It was a rugged place with too many hills and rocks to have a successful farm. He went into the lumber business and had a small sawmill that he would move around middle Tennessee. His family would move every year or so to wherever the sawmill was setup.

He would buy the virgin timber from the landowners and then move the sawmill to cut the lumber into sizes he could sell. During WWII he cut walnut trees into 2 1/4 inch thick pieces that were sold to the US Government to make rifle stocks. They also cut cedar trees into planks to build hope chests.

The sawmill was powered by a John Deere tractor. The tractor had a pulley coming off the engine and a 50 foot felt belt connected it to the sawmill. It looked like the one in these photos.

Ivy and his six sons would cut down the trees and use the sawmill to cut it into lengths. They would then haul the finished lumber by truck to the nearest rail yard. He would rent a train car to ship the lumber to the buyer.

His son Bob told me when they rented the train car it was by the day so they worked around the clock 24X7 until they had it loaded and on it's way.

Bob said working the sawmill for his father was all the motivation he and his brother John needed to go to college! It must have been hard work and effective motivation because Bob not only finished his bachelor's degree but got a PhD and became a college English professor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

If a tombstone falls

If a tombstone falls in the woods does it make a sound?

I located the marker for my great grandfather about eight years ago in a small cemetery in Madison County Florida.

Andrew Jackson Green died in 1911 and after his funeral his family moved about 50 miles to the southern part of Taylor County Florida. In 1911, 50 miles would have been like 500 today.

After I found the marker, on an online census for the Concord Missionary Baptist Church cemetery, I asked a cousin, Auley Rowell, who lives in the area to go by and take a photo of it. He mailed me pictures and then in 2002 when I was taking my daughter to college in Tallahassee, Florida I decided to drive over and see it in person. I discovered the marker, which had stood for 91 years had been knocked over, apparently by a lawn tractor.

I was about 10 miles from the closest town, 600 miles from home and the only tools I had were a couple screwdrivers in the tire change bag in my car. I took photos of the broken marker and went back home to Memphis. I decided to get it fixed but didn’t have any idea how to do it.

I emailed the pictures to several cemetery preservation organizations to try and get a diagnosis and cure. They gave me some good advice on how do the repair myself.

About a year later I made another trip to Florida. I took the tools, cement, adhesive and other stuff they recommended and found the old marker just as I had left it. Working in the very hot and humid August sun of Florida, I took the marker apart, created a level surface under it and then reassembled it as recommended. Thankfully none of the stones were broken and I was able to secure them with the adhesives.

The final work looked good and hopefully will stand for another 90 years. I am pretty sure I was the first family member in at least 50 years and maybe since he was buried to see the marker. I may never go back out there since it is so far out of the way, but I’m glad I made the effort to find it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Four Stars

This flag was given to my grandfather Millard Fillmore Green during WWII. He had four sons serving in the military and all of them served overseas, in combat.

"Son's in Service" or service flags were given to families who had members in the military.

The military directive for them reads: "C10. The number of blue stars shall correspond to the number of Service members from the "immediate family" who are symbolized on the flag."

Sec. 901. - Service flag
Individuals Entitled To Display Service Flag. - A service flag approved by the Secretary of Defense may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of individuals who are members of the immediate family of an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.

He should have received another one with a gold star after his son Bryant was killed in 1943 but he never did.

The directive says the flag was only to be displayed during a period of war. My grandfather never took his down. This one was on his living room wall the day he died in 1973. I'm not sure if he considered himself still at war. He was never a big fan of some of the social and legal changes that happened in the South of 1950s and 60s so maybe he was.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

There is a son, Dan

Lois Odom, a cousin of my Dad's was looking at old newspapers in Perry, Florida and came across an article about the death of his brother, Lester Broward Green. I've copied part of it at the bottom of this post. The article mentioned him having a son named Dan.

Lester died 10 years before I was born so I didn't know much about him. His daughter Doris Parramore lived in Tallahassee and we were close to her and her family but I had never known anything about a son. I sent the article to my siblings and as it would be, my sister Carol said she remembered a photo of a boy named Dan in my Grandfather's papers and he was Lester's step son. Now Carol is the one in our family who claims she remembers everything that has happened since she was born, including events when she was less than a year old, so I needed a confirmation from some other source before accepting her memory.

I started researching Lester and his two marriages. I had previously found him and his first wife, Edna McEntire Green and Doris on the 1930 census when they lived with my Grandfather in Perry. I knew Lester joined the army about that time and he and Edna divorced in 1936. With all the time I'd spent with Doris and her family while growing up in Tallahassee I figured if she had a brother I would have heard about it.

I found a record of Lester's marriage to Doris Vera Avera in 1940 and I knew he had died in 1947. It took a while to locate anything about Doris Avera and what happened to her after Lester died. I finally came across a family tree that was posted by her nephew's wife. She and her husband had never heard of Lester Green but after asking the husband's mother (Doris Avera's sister) about it they got the story that they had married and then Lester was killed in a train accident.

They told me that Doris had married a man named Otto Heintz and I then found she a record of her death in 1991 in the Social Security records. Researching Otto Heintz's family I found a record of her son. It turned out the son was from her first marriage to Fredrick William Hart in 1938. They had a son who they named Daniel Hart around 1939 or 40 and she married Lester in December 31, 1940. So Dan was Lester's stepson and my sister was right after all.

Feb. 6, 1947
Lester Green Dies In Motor Car Wreck
The deceased is survived by his father, M.F. Green, his widow, the former Miss Doris Vera Avera of Orlando, to whom he was married December 21, 1940. There is a son, Dan, and a daughter, Miss Doris Green of Eustis, by an earlier marriage.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Go borrow some sugar

We've had good neighbors and some not so good. I could do without the lady who brings her dog over to our yard!

My wife's Great Great Great Grandfather, Simeon Dudley Pennington was born in Kentucky in 1819 but moved to Texas in the fall of 1859. He moved to Austin, Texas with his large family.

In doing research census records are one of the first things you look for. I found him on the 1860 census living in Austin and had a surprise to see who was living next to him. One of his neighbors was Sam Houston, former President of the Republic of Texas and in 1860 the Governor of the State.

The Penningtons were not wealthy people and had moved to Texas like many of the early settlers, with the prospect of plenty of land and few people.

According to an article in the Dallas Morning News dated November 23, 1929, the Penningtons came by wagon train from Missouri to Texas in 1859. Along the way they were joined by William Smith Telford on horseback. He was from Missouri and decided to see Texas for himself.

During the trip, William Telford fell in love with Simeon's oldest daughter, Louisiana English Pennington. They were married in 1865 and both lived into their nineties. Their daughter, Kate was my mother in law's grandmother.

Simeon Pennington was a farmer. He died April 12, 1886 in Austin and was buried in the Merrelltown Cemetery along with his wife and mother.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No, I'm not related to Royalty

A lot of people who do genealogy claim their ancestor was from a royal family. I see that as pretty much an impossible claim to prove or disprove if your family has been in the US very long. There just aren't many reliable records for families who came to the US before the Revolutionary War. People moved around and there is a big blank in written records from the time of the RW to the mid 1800s when the individual census started being taken regularly. So folks can say anything they want and it is impossible to know what is true.

One possibility of proving a connection to royalty was when I started the DNA testing project for the Fulford family. The Fulfords in England have lived on the same property for 800 years and claim royal blood. After a lot of work I contacted Francis Fulford, of the Great Fulford Estate who was made infamous on the TV show The F***ing Fulfords and he agreed to be tested. His test didn't match my family. In fact the only match we have found to him so far was a Fulford family in Australia.

I don't know a lot about the Aussie Fulfords but considering what I have seen of Francis Fulford, think it is fitting that he be connected to exported criminals. I am happy to say he is not my cousin. I've got enough black sheep already.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Watermelon on the porch

My dad was a big time photographer. He recorded all four of his kids from the time they were born on both print and movie film. He used a 8mm movie camera that of course in the 1950s didn't have sound. We have all kinds of film he shot of us, from cruises down a river in France, my sister Cathy throwing up multiple times to JV football practice.

A few years ago the old home movies were copied to a DVD. We had taken the 8 mm film and converted to VHS about 20 years ago for my parents. It still wasn't very convenient to watch because there is probably 15 hours of tape. With the DVD I could fast forward and skip parts.

An interesting discovery was the video my dad took at my grandfather's house in Perry. Mixed into the two DVDs are several different trips we visited him and each time it shows us eating watermelon.

My grandfather, Millard Fillmore Green lived in a small wooden house but had two empty lots on either side. He always grew big gardens and had something growing year round.

When he was over 80 years old he was still selling his vegetables to the local grocery store. I don't remember him growing watermelon but I guess he did, because it seems like every time we visited there we were eating watermelon on his porch. This one has me, my brother Ben, sisters Cathy and Carol and cousins Karen and Debra Parramore.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tacos and Jell-O

The two things I remember that my mother served at the table every week were Tacos on Saturday night and Jell-O that had some kind of fruit congealed in the middle on Wednesday night.

She would have used any fruit but it seems like all she ever had were apples and bananas. When she put bananas in the Jell-O they were mushy and brown, not very appealing. We used to joke about it but we ate it.

Tacos were fried in oil but she used soft corn tacos so that they could still be rolled up with hamburger, tomatoes, lettuce, grated Velveeta cheese and anything else we had handy. The Tacos were much more popular than the Jell-O and pretty much the entire family would have voted for them anyway if she had given us the choice. I even cooked them myself in the same way after I moved out on my own. You can't find then like this in restaurants. They either serve the hard fried ones or the soft ones made of flour.

I never knew until recently that we had Tacos so often because she learned how to cook them from her former sister in law, soon after getting married. My dad's brother William Bryant Green had married Eva Smith in California about 1931 and they divorced after their daughter Eva Virginia Green was born in 1933. My dad stayed in touch with her and his niece, so when my folks moved to California in 1949 they spent time with Eva and her husband Warren Wilson Sugg. Eva was from Canada but after living in California for 15 years she had learned how to make tacos and taught my mother.

In 2005 when my mother was visiting us in Memphis she told me the story so I decided to try and locate Eva. Sure enough, I found her listed in the phone book in Camarillo, California. Her husband had died in 1995 and she was 90 years old and living in a nursing home but still had her number listed in the phone book. We had a nice visit with her and it lead to me looking up her granddaughter, my cousin Allison Lynn Elliott who was living in Oregon. We hadn't talked to her in almost twenty years. So a story about why we ate Tacos every Saturday night had a good ending.
PS - after starting this post I found out that Eva Green Sugg died on May 8, 2008 at age 93.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pirate's Gold

William Lundy bought 120 acres of land on the north side of the Manatee river in 1890. This is in the area that Native Americans built villages and left their remains buried in large shell filled mounds five hundred years earlier.

Indian mounds were discovered all around Florida as it became populated and are found in other parts of the country also. One thing that is unique about those in south Florida is the shell material used to cover up the bones and valuables. Since the land was flat and if you dug more than a couple feet you would hit water, they choose to build the huge shell mounds and they became easy finds for the white settlers.

This same section of the Manatee River is believed to be the location of Angola. This was a community of runaway slaves and Seminole Indians that lived there from 1812 to 1821, before Andrew Jackson's troops found and destroyed the village. There are excavations going on today both on land and in the river to try and locate the Angola settlement within a mile or so of where the Lundys lived.

As it turned out some other early residents left their own mementos in this section of land. As William Lundy planted his orange and grapefruit groves and the vegetables he sold to northern markets he uncovered a treasure chest of pirate's gold with his plow.

The family story that has been passed down among his grandchildren was that as his children married he gave each of them enough gold to buy 10 acres of land along with another $1,000 in gold pieces.

My great grandmother Ida Lundy Wilson and her husband supposedly used her gold to buy a farm in Oneco, Florida where my grandmother Edith was born. My great uncle, Walt Wilson told me the story was true. You have to believe what Walt says since he was also Santa Claus.
As far as I know all of the gold has been sold off. I've got a couple cousins who collect everything they see (you need to count the silver when they visit) so I wouldn't be surprised to have some of it turn up one day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I grew up in the panhandle of Florida and have driven Hwy 98, which runs along the coast many times but never had any idea it was somewhere I would later search for missing family. About 10 years ago I started looking for the grave of Elizabeth Green Wentworth. She was the sister of my great grandfather and my dad found two old letters in a family bible, written by her husband in 1889.

Elizabeth married James Hamilton Wentworth in 1883 in Taylor County Florida and they soon moved to Pensacola. James Hamilton Wentworth was a colorful person, a civil war veteran who was held as a POW and wrote a very detailed diary while in prison. He later worked as an Attorney, County Judge, School Teacher, Superintendent of Taylor County Schools and finally as a Missionary Baptist Preacher. He worked for several churches in the Pensacola area and then Santa Rosa County.

Elizabeth soon had four children, a son Elmore Clinton Wentworth born on November 15, 1883, son Clifton in February 1885 and twins Aquila and Priscilla on January 11, 1889.

The two old letters talked of the problems she had during the birth of the twins, their death after just a couple days and her death soon after. The post mark on the letters was Bilowry, Santa Rosa County Florida.

There was a town in Santa Rosa County called Billowry but it was not formed until after 1900. I found an old map of Florida from 1888 that showed a Bilowry in Santa Rosa County. It was located just off Hwy 98 on a small stretch of land between the gulf and Pensacola bay. Most of the property in this area is now part of Eglin Air Force base. There was a post office there for a few years but it was disbanded.

Elizabeth was the third wife of James Wentworth. His other two had died in Taylor County Florida and he had buried both of them in church cemeteries. I figured he would have done the same for Elizabeth but I have not located any church cemeteries that date back to 1889.

I've had help from several people who live in the area who went out to the oldest cemeteries in Santa Rosa County but so far haven't located the graves.
The may be on the air base property so that will be the next place to look. Hopefully they have surveyed and preserved any historic sites on the base.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

They tried to bury this Memorial

My grandmother Edith's first cousin Clarence Hudson Lundy was born in 1898 and joined the US Merchant Marines when he was 21 years old. He was over 40 when WWII started but served aboard several Liberty ships that took supplies to the troops in Europe.

On August 19, 1943 he was the Master of the Liberty ship, SS J. Pinckney Henderson when it collided with a Panamanian tanker, the J. H. Senior. J. Pinckney Henderson (1808-1858) was the first governor of Texas and the ship bearing his name was on it's maiden voyage.

Liberty Ship convoys were escorted by US warships and took northern routes across the Atlantic trying to reduce the threat of German U-boats. It was not uncommon for them to encounter bad weather or icebergs on this route. This convoy, number HX-252 had been in heavy fog for three days when the collision occurred off the coast of Nova Scotia.

From the US Navy records: "While steaming in convoy (Convoy number HX-252) and carrying a volatile cargo she collided with the tanker J.H. Senior which was carrying high octane aviation gas on August 19, 1943 when off Newfoundland (lat. 44 12' N, Long 53 58' W). Both ships were immediately drenched in aviation gas and became blazing infernos, the flames spreading so rapidly that there were only nine survivors between them. The Liberty ship was towed to Sydney, Nova Scotia where she arrived on August 31 and was beached. She continued to burn for three more weeks until nothing was left but a gutted hull. Later she was refloated and towed to Halifax, then on January 14, 1944 she was towed to New York where she was declared a constructive total loss. In July of 1944 she was scrapped in Philadelphia. Sixty-one men were lost on the Liberty ship and only three survived. "

"Pinckney Henderson (42): There were only three survivors from this ship. The Boatswain was in his cabin and felt a collision. He stated that it was very foggy, and that the ship which they rammed caught fire. He was very definite that his ship was not torpedoed.

An Ordinary Seaman was on lookout duty at the port midship gun and stated that he saw a blue light on the port side and reported it to the Mate. When back at his gun he saw that collision with another ship which was crossing the bows from port to starboard was unavoidable. This other ship was rammed starboard side "between bow and bridge". Henderson caught on fire almost at once - very probably electrical as this survivor stated he saw "blue flames" in the officers' quarters. This Ordinary Seaman and the Boatswain remained on the stern of the ship for almost two and a half days.

The only other survivor was the Carpenter, and Indian named Albert Cericeros. He stated that he heard an explosion which he believed to be a torpedo "in No. 3 Mess between midships and stern". The ship caught fire and he went over the side with life-jacket on, being picked up about six hours later. He further states that whilst in the water - he does not remember when - he found himself drifting towards a fully surfaced submarine. He saw one gun on deck and six or seven members of the crew, but does not remember seeing any number on the conning tower. He then drifted away from it. This witness was torpedoed in the Caribbean in March, 1943, in Tulsa which was subsequently beached."

In September 1943, the bodies of the men recovered from collision were buried in a mass grave in Harwood Hill Cemetery in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Some of the Canadian sailors who recovered the bodies from the burning ships were also the burial party.

A 800 lb granite marker in the shape of a Cross was erected that read: "U. S. Liberty Ship J.P. Henderson, September 3, 1943. Here lie the remains of officers and crew members, naval and merchant, who lost their lives while serving their country. All members buried with full naval honors."

In 1949 the remains of the Merchant Marines and sailors were returned to the US and buried in a mass grave at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

In the 1960's Canada offered the original marker to the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. They had plans to erect it near the waterfront but before it could be installed a new Academy superintendent came along and decided he didn't like it. The memorial was sent to storage in a government warehouse. Somehow it was later buried on the grounds of the Academy.

Forty years later on May 23, 2003 a bulldozer working to widen a road uncovered the marker. It has now, 60 years later been erected on the campus in memory of the men who lost their life.

In May 1951 The US Government and Panama Transport, who owned the tanker, paid claims under the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920 to the next of kin. A payment of $55,000 was paid to Clarence Lundy's wife and children. No fault was placed against either vessel.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grandpa Tink

Today marks 43 years since my Grandfather, Walton "Tink" Fulford died in the Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, Florida. He was one of the most respected men in the community and certainly made a big impact on his grand kids.

All the boys who were old enough got the thrill of going fishing with him. We would go out at sunset and get home just before dawn.

It seemed we would only get to sleep about 15 minutes before we had the pleasure of being awakened by his gentle fingers on your arm, neck or anything he could find under the covers. He could grab hold with those big knuckles and bring you to tears in less than a second. "You goin sleep all day?" He always had a long list of things for us to do.

He was also the one who would send us to the store with a handful of money to buy candy like it was an emergency. He never ate any of it but would check out the bag to see what we bought. After supper he would sit on the living room couch with a half gallon of strawberry ice cream and a hand full of spoons for everyone to dig in. I don't think my grandmother appreciated that very much.

The grand kids didn't understand how sick he was so his death was a big shock. I can remember the blank expressions on many young faces. During the funeral they sang O Come Angel Band. It was probably the first time I had heard it. Even today, years later if I hear that song I remember his funeral.

Warning: You can DL the song with the above link but it will stay with you too.

After the service we were in the procession heading out to the Skyway Memorial Gardens cemetery and I looked back and the line of cars went across the Manatee River bridge and into Bradenton, as far as you could see.

I asked some family for their memories and will share them below:

Annie: How could you ever forget that song? I remember it so clear, of course I was older than you. I even remember the dress I wore to the funeral.

Carol: I remember that the flower arrangements filled the front wall top to bottom, and there were so many they stacked them in the back also. Although we were sitting in the family section I could see people standing in the back and out the door of the chapel because the seats were full.

Mary: When we were all in the family Room I looked up to see that Mac had come in the back door of the building. I told Buster Griffith to have him come into the Family Room as he was family too. The flowers were from the front to the back and around the wall. Buster said that they would be sending some to Nursing Homes.
When we were going to France, "Sug" Raymond on AMI cut a Cedar tree so that we could have Christmas in November before your Dad left. What a thrill when Buster sent the list of who got the flowers to learn that Mrs. Sug Raymond in a nursing home had received some. The grave marker was donated and is marked "From Friends of Tink."


Bradenton Herald September 24, 1965

'Tink' Fulford, Pioneer's Son, Dies At 62

Walton "Tink" Fulford, 62, of Cortez died Wednesday (Sept 22,1965) at Memorial Hospital. Mr. Fulford was born and lived all his life in Cortez and was the son of the late Captain William T. "Billy" Fulford who was a pioneer settler in Cortez.

Captain Fulford came to Perico Island in the 1880s from the eastern coast of North Carolina, near Moorehead. He met and married Miss Sallie Adams of Moorehead, N. C. in Florida and their first daughter, Mrs. Dora Adams, now 75, was born on Perico Island. With his brothers, sisters and family Captain Fulford moved to Cortez in the early 1890s, which was then named Hunter's Point, later changed to Cortez.

Mr. Walton Fulford owned and operated one of the largest fishing fleets on the west coast of Florida and shipped fish all over the eastern part of the country. In 1940 he opened the Fulford Fish Company in Cortez. He was a member of the Cortez Church of Christ.

Survivors include his widow, Mrs. Edith Wilson Fulford; four daughters, Mrs. Mary Green of Tallahassee, Mrs. Belinda Porterfield of Montgomery, Ala., Mrs. Irene Taylor of St. Petersburg, Mrs. Anna Dean Riddick of Hollywood, Fla.; three sons, Ralph M., Wayne W. and Gary D. Fulford all of Cortez; four sisters, Mrs. Dora Adams, Mrs. Grace Guthrie, Mrs. Sallie Moore, all of Cortez, Mrs. Bessie Henning of St. Petersburg and 13 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Saturday at 10 A.M. at Griffith - Cline Funeral Home with Olin Hastings, of Oneco Church of Christ and Charles Geer, of Cortez Church of Christ, officiating. Burial will be in Skyway Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers will be J. O. Guthrie Jr., Thomas Fulford, Woodrow Green, O. K. Drymond, Paul Taylor and Manley Bell.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Wedding Planner

My uncle Alton Green has the family record for the most weddings.

Uncle Al for many years made a living playing music. He played the trombone in swing bands in the 1930s and 40s. I guess it was not a career that lent itself to a stable family life. After WWII he took over a candy vending machine business from my Dad in Jacksonville, Florida but it didn't help his love life.

His first wife was Frances Scott who he married in 1927 in Sarasota, Florida. In 1936 he married Beatrice Armond in St. Johns County Florida. In 1941 he married Alta Pauline Catherine Wells Perry in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1951 he married Gladys Williams in Jacksonville, Florida. His last wife was Era "Dinah" Dorough.

He officially was married to five women but he married Dinah twice once in the late 1950s and again in 1963. Later in life he lived with a common law wife named Mary. I never knew her last name. The amazing thing is that with all the women in his life he never had any children!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

He married an Indian Princess

There are a couple stories you hear over and over when doing genealogy research.

Such as, there were three brothers who came over on a ship from England/Scotland/Ireland in the 1700s and got off at different cities. All of the (whatever surname) in America can be traced back to the three brothers. I have seen this story dozens of times.

Another one; he cleared a homestead in North Carolina, Georgia or Alabama in 1820 and married the daughter of Chief "About to be move to Oklahoma." She was an Indian Princess but took on the manners and dress of a white woman.

The last one, having Indian blood in the family tree is a strange one for me. I can't imagine any of my grandparents ever claiming to be part Indian, Native American, Cherokee or Seminole. Growing up in the South, having any connection to a minority group in the 1950s would have been very unusual. But today, many people claim to have a full blooded Native American great grandmother, or father when the reality is very different. In fact I haven't been able to document any family connection to Native American blood and have run down probably ten or more stories.

I had people on both sides of my grandmother Ila Rowell Green's family tree claiming that the other side was full blooded Cherokee. They even sent me photos to prove that this or the other ancestor was Indian. But they both claimed it for the other side. One side said Joseph Rowell was Cherokee and one side claimed it was his wife, Versanoy Smith.

In my research I have proof that neither were Native American. Joseph Rowell's father was William Rowell who came from South Carolina to Florida soon after it was sold to the US. He settled in what is now Taylor County Florida. Now some would say he had to be Indian. If so then he fooled a whole lot of people because he was chosen as a Captain in the Florida Militia during the Florida Indian Wars. He served several tours, very successfully driving the Indians south so the northern part of the State would be available to settlers. I found an old newspaper article about his military exploits at the University of Florida library.

So it must have been Versanoy who was passing as white, right? Well her father, Seth Smith was a well known Missionary Baptist minister and elder who founded the Missionary Baptist church in Taylor County. His father was a Methodist minister in Georgia. Pretty white bread on both sides.

Monday, September 1, 2008

25 free iTunes

This is the subject line on emails I send to my kids every so often. With it I am sure they will click on and read the email.

Normally it contains a link to an article about how important it is to use sunscreen. Both my parents had red hair and fair complexion. One family tradition I wish we could break is having to deal with skin cancers but considering the matching set of genes and growing up in Florida that probably won't happen. My grandfather on my mother's side died from melanoma in 1965 and not only both parents but all my siblings have had at least one case of skin cancer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

They showed me what poor was

My Dad's first cousin, Hubert Horne, told me about visiting their great uncle, John T. Hogan in Taylor County Florida.

John Hogan died in 1940 and Hubert was born in 1929 so he had to be pretty young at the time. Hubert was born and raised in Cortez, Florida but his both his father and mother had relatives in Taylor County so he went up there to visit. He spent the night at least once with John and his wife Hester Williams Hogan.

His memory of John Hogan's home was "those folks were poor, in fact they showed me what poor was."

They lived in the Warrior Swamp area about 10 miles south of Perry, Florida on a farm they bought from my Grandfather, Millard Fillmore Green. There was no electricity or running water in the house.

To light the house they used tin cans filled with hog fat and lit by a string. There was no cover or anything on the can so if it spilled over the house probably would have burned down.

Hubert said "those folks were just poor!" The only picture of John Hogan shows him dressed pretty nicely so I guess he had some money or maybe he was just thrifty! I found this old tin type photo in the Andrew Green family bible.

John T. Hogan died October 24, 1940 and was buried in the Spring Warrior Church of Christ cemetery in Taylor County Florida. Many of the Hogan family relatives are buried there.
As far as anyone knows now, they were members of the Church of God and this part of my family had no connection to the Church of Christ until my Dad joined in 1948. Why they are buried in a Church of Christ cemetery, when there were two other cemeteries in the area that had other family in them is a story for another day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

They don't make 'em like they used to

My dad was one of five boys born to Millard Fillmore and Ila Rowell Green. Their mother died very young and my grandfather was left to raise the boys on his own. The youngest was a year old when his wife died. He re-married once but soon discovered it was a mistake and divorced the woman.

The boys grew up in a tough time, my dad graduated from high school 8 months after the start of the depression. Somehow my grandfather knew the local bank was about to fold and pulled out his money in time but money back then wasn't worth a whole lot.

Four of the boys enlisted in the service. My dad made it his career but for his brothers it was probably for survival.

Two of the brothers died in the 1940s, one during the war and one soon after it ended. My grandfather had also lost a brother (who was run over by a train) and all three of them were buried in the family plot he bought when his wife died in 1915.

The matching markers he put on the four graves were made of concrete and had their names and dates molded into the block. After fifty plus years of exposure the concrete had worn away and was no longer legible. Someone had replaced the marker on my grandmother's grave with a marble column in the 1970s.

I contacted the VA and obtained new markers for my uncles. Since they were veterans and their graves were no longer marked the VA sent them at no charge. On my to do list is to obtain a marker for my great uncle.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lost at Sea II

Sometimes you come across an obscure fact or story by accident that consumes your genealogy research time for a while.

I have been looking for information on my Wilson family relatives for many years with limited success. My great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wilson was one of 25 children born to Moses Wilson so you would think there is a lot of information about them, but so far they have been elusive.

The Florida Archives put WWI service cards online about 5 years ago and I started looking for cards for family members. After searching for the closer relatives I started searching for surnames and found one for John T. Wilson and a reference to his father being Jasper Wilson. I knew Benjamin had a brother named Jasper so I checked the 1900 and 1910 census records, located Jasper and sure enough he had a son who matched the card.

The card showed John T. Wilson died during the sinking of the Otranto on October 6, 1918. He left US soil on September 25, 1918 heading for action in Europe after spending three months training in Georgia.

The Otranto was a troop carrier going to England when it collided with an English navy ship, the HMS Kashmir in rough seas just off the coast of Scotland. The Otranto was badly damaged and went down near Machir Bay. There were over 1,000 soldiers onboard the Otranto and 431 lost their life that day.

75 of the dead American soldiers were buried overlooking the Scottish coast in what is now a small US military cemetery. 43 of them were never identified.

John Wilson was buried in the Brookwood American Cemetery in Brookwood, England. This small US Military cemetery contains 468 graves arranged around a marble chapel.

Recently I was given a WWI era photo of my great grandfather, William T. Fulford, taken when he traveled from Cortez, Florida to the Fort Benning Army base in Georgia to visit his son Clayton who was in basic training.

As it turned out, Jasper Wilson went with him to visit his three sons who were also in the Army and stationed at Fort Benning. Harry and Arthur Mann from Cortez, Florida had a brother, Roy there also so all four men drove up together. Harry Mann was married to Jasper Wilson's daughter.

I've identified Jasper Wilson in the picture, the shorter of the older men with white hair, but don't know which of the men is John T. Wilson. I suspect it was the last photo taken of him.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The oldest living Confederate Veteran

My great great Grandfather was William Augustus Lundy. If you Google "oldest living Confederate Veteran" you will see his name and reference to him living until 1957.

William Augustus Lundy did serve in the CSA, but in the Biographical Rosters of Florida's Confederate and Union Soldiers 1861-1865, he is listed as a refugee (deserter) from the Confederacy.
It's not clear if he actually enlisted in the CSA or just went along with his older brothers who had joined. I haven't found any CSA enlistment papers for him.
He did enlist in the Union Army, 2nd Florida Cavalry, Company C on April 21, 1864 at St Vincent Island, Florida as a musician. He was only 15 years old at the time. His older brother Matthew also enlisted in the 2nd Calvary.

William Lundy left his home in Taylor County after the war, some say because the locals didn't appreciate those who fought on the Union side. He moved to Manatee County and discovered the Fountain of Youth. (I'll tell that story later) He died in 1903 at age 55.

The confusion over William Augustus Lundy being the oldest living confederate veteran came up because another man named William Allen Lundy made the claim in the 1950s. By accident or incompetence many of the news accounts of his claim listed the war record of my ancestor, has fame over the fountain of youth and growing oranges and even his complete name. I'm not sure if William Allen Lundy used my ancestor's background on purpose or not but since my ancestor and his wife were deceased at the time, news accounts attributed the life events for William Augustus Lundy to the other man.

A Joint Resolution of Congress on July 18, 1956 authorized a gold medal to be struck and presented to the only four surviving Civil War veterans, including William Lundy. William Allen Lundy died in Crestview, Florida on September 1, 1957. After his death some questioned his claim to be the oldest CSA veteran and said he was not born until much later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Wilson heart

'Have a heart' is the brand of the squirrel trap in my back yard. (This will have to be explained in another post). It is usually said to elicit compassion or to say someone has it.

In my grandmother's family it is the mark of the grim reaper. A curse from some Indian medicine man after the Wilson's moved onto Indian lands in Alabama in the 1830s? Who knows how it started.

Through several generations of folks who died young or from heart problems the Wilson family now has the tag of the Wilson heart, one that doesn't last, it wears out early, a heart that won't get you to age sixty.

My great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wilson died in 1933 at age 58. In his family four of the five sons died young, so the curse got some feet. But actually they all died violent deaths unrelated to the heart. Tractor falling on one, drowning, boat explosion, auto accident. My grandmother Edith lived to be 86 and her brother Walt lived to be 78 , but maybe they were just lucky.

Moses Wilson, the family patriarch who was born in North Carolina, moved into Alabama as the Indians were being displaced and then came to Florida after the civil war, lived to be at least 75. Of his 25 children some died early, but I don't know if it was the Wilson heart or just the short life expectancy of the times. His son, Edward Daniel Wilson died at age 58 in Oneco, Florida. Daughter Caroline Wilson Slaughter died at age 45 in Dade City, Florida and her sister Nancy Catherine Wilson Tait was only 25 when she died nearby. Several cousins have died of heart problems, Gilbert Leroy Wilson of Myakka died at age 62 and his daughter, Hilda Aileen Wilson Brainerd was barely 60 when she died during open heart surgery in Tampa.

In my mom's immediate family, six of the seven kids have some kind of heart problems. A couple of them were diagnosed just recently so the curse must be back.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


RAOGK stands for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. This is a volunteer organization that links people around the US and in many other countries who are interested in genealogy and agree to do research for others at no charge.

I came across RAOGK about 10 years ago when I wanted to do research in Texas. I received great response from the local contact and have used them several times since then.

I decided to volunteer in the Memphis area to do cemetery photos. I don't have any family connections to Memphis so am not too familiar with the local genealogy sources but figured I could take photos.

By far most of the requests come from people who have relatives at Memphis National Cemetery. This is a veteran's cemetery that was established during the Civil War after Memphis fell to the Union army. It is in what is now a rough area of town.

It has thousands of civil war era graves and in fact the 2nd largest number of unknown graves of any cemetery in the US. Many CW casualties were moved here after the war. It also is the final resting place for over 1,000 Union solders who were killed in the USS Sultana explosion on April 23, 1865.

This was the largest maritime disaster in US history but few people know about it. A steamer carrying former Union POWs who had just been released from camps in the South died when the ship exploded. It had over 2,000 people on board and only 800 survived. The ship only had capacity for 376 passengers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kissin Cousins

People joke about folks in the South marrying our cousins.

Growing up it was always seemed a little strange that my aunt Irene Fulford married a cousin, Hardy Taylor. I always thought they were first cousins but realize now they were only second cousins. Irene was the best looking of the four sisters and probably the best looking girl in Cortez at the time, so I don't blame Hardy.

Anyway, in doing family research I've found a couple other cases that surprised those involved.

The great grandmother of my brother in law, Tom Ryon was Eliza Jane Hendry. Her 2nd cousin, Nancy Jane Hendry was the second wife of James Hamilton Wentworth. After she died he married Elizabeth Green who was the sister of our great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Green. I discovered this after their daughter Rachel was born. So far she doesn't appear to have any ill effects from the cousin connection.

My daughter Kristen was married last summer to Nathaniel Wiewora. His mom does genealogy research and sent me information on their family. It turns out that Kristen's 4th great grandmother, Elizabeth Keathley Caraway is the first cousin (three times removed) of the husband of Nate's grandfather's sister. We decided they were distant enough cousins that it was safe for them to have children, as long as they wait a couple years.