Friday, May 30, 2008

A man of few words

Grady Houston Glenn was my wife's grandfather. He didn't come visit when his first Great granddaughter Kristen was born in 1983. Of course he didn't make it to our wedding in 1981 either. He didn't make it to Mary's graduation from college, high school, her 16th birthday or for that matter any of her other birthdays. No, he didn't share in any of the big events in the life of his granddaughter or the small ones either.

Unlike my two grandfathers who I visited often and have only good memories, my wife has no memories of her grandfather. My daughters had two grandfathers who came to every birthday and event in their life until they got too old or sick to travel and then they were sure to send money!

But Grady Houston Glenn was AWOL for his granddaughter in the same way he was AWOL for his daughter, son and wife. He ran out on his family in 1930 and never made any attempt to contact any of them for the rest of his life.

He was the only son born to John William Glenn and Mary Adelia Jones Glenn in Erath County Texas in 1901. John William Glenn was a farmer and Methodist minister. John came from a family of preachers and was a respected leader in the small Texas community. When he died in 1943 his obituary said "he was a good farmer, a good neighbor and above all a real Christian man."

You have to wonder how disappointed he was in his son Grady who had disappeared 13 years earlier, leaving his wife, three year old son and six month old daughter alone in an apartment in Los Angeles. Loraine had to borrow money to get the family back to Texas. She moved in with her parents in Abilene and was fortunate to have family who could help take the place of the husband and father who was no where in sight.

A couple times over the years family members went to California and tried to locate Grady. One time Loraine's brother Ray Longacre went out looking for him but we don't know if he was successful in finding him. In the 1970s a nephew, Glenn Anderson, himself a Baptist preacher from Columbia, South Carolina was in Los Angeles on business and tracked him down. He found him living in an expensive house in Orange County, owner of a successful orange grove and farm.

Grady had married another woman, Ethel Whitlock in May 1930, just a few months after leaving his wife. He never bothered to get a divorce from Loraine and he apparently never told Ethel about his wife and children. Her parents lived in the area and she owned or inherited the land that he ended up farming and developing. When Ethel died in 1970 he married Ferne Clouse and again kept his family a secret. When Glenn Anderson visited, Grady wouldn't let him inside the house and insisted on meeting him at a restaurant in town. He didn't want to take the chance of his wife hearing about the family he had run out on 40 years earlier. Grady didn't have much to say to Glenn, no excuses, no questions about family members.

Grady died in 1984, one year before Loraine who was living with her daughter's family in Panama City, Florida. He was buried next to Ethel in Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana.

I started my search for him around 1997. We had no idea if he was still alive or where he might be. The last anyone had head of him was the short visit Glenn Anderson had with him in the 1970s and I didn't even know about that meeting at the time. His family had long since given up on him and was not interested in hearing from him.

I contacted a volunteer with RAOGK, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and requested she look for him in the Los Angeles area. Very quickly we learned he had died, confirmed that he never divorced his wife Loraine, even though he married two women after leaving her and that his last wife was still alive, living in Laguna Woods, California.

My phone call to her was one she probably never expected. I decided that after spending several months researching him, obtaining various records on his life from the local court and talking to Glenn Anderson about his visit years before, it was necessary to close the loop by talking to Ferne Glenn. She was in her 90s at that point, living by herself. The first time I called her she listened politely and then told me I had the wrong Grady Houston Glenn.

I sent her a letter with copies of the documentation I had obtained, old photos of Grady and reminded her of the visit Glenn Anderson made years earlier. When I called her back a couple months later she admitted the photos and other papers were him but said he had never been married before Ethel. While writing this entry I decided to check on Fern, it had been 5-6 years since I talked to her. I found she passed away on April 11, 2008 at age 99.

I think Ferne was worried the family, children and grandchildren were looking for an inheritance. All we were looking for were answers to 54 years of questions. The questions remain, evoking only a silent response.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who's afraid of Virginia Dare?

Virginia Dare is considered the first "white" child born in the Americas, in 1587 while her parents were part of the ill fated "lost colony" some say was on Roanoke Island off of North Carolina.

While researching my mother's family I came across a story that one of her ancestors John Fulford, was the first white male child born in the Carolinas. While Virginia Dare and others in the original colony were lost and today there is controversy over where they lived and what happened to them, John Fulford's family settled in what is now Carteret County North Carolina and lived on the same land for over 300 years. His descendants have a rich history of farming and fishing in the area and now number in the thousands. At one time they owned over 30,000 acres in the area.

The reference to John Fulford's birth in 1629 is contained in a book published by the State of North Carolina, Division of Archives and History, called "The Correspondence of William Tryon and Other Selected Papers, Volume II, 1768-1818."
Tyron was the first Governor of what is now North Carolina from 1764-1771. The papers have copies of legislation passed by the North Carolina legislature relating to Joseph Fulford, grandson of John Fulford.

Some claim that what is now North Carolina was not populated in 1629 with English settlers but the fact remains that John Fulford's grave (born 1629 died 1723) was located in a family cemetery near Straits bricked up with English brick in the late 1800s.

Such a grave was in Fulford Cemetery off of Piper Lane in Gloucester, NC when the cemetery was surveyed in 1971 but is no longer visible.

The property has been developed with large homes and the original cemetery that once had several hundred graves now only has nine with markers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For he was lost but now is found

Allen B. Davis was the third husband of my Great Great Great Grandmother, Elmina Davis Bentley Henry Davis.

Yes, her maiden name was Davis and she married Jonathan B. Bentley before her marriage to my ancestor Emery Henry. Both Jonathan and Emery died soon after the marriage and then she married Allen B. Davis in 1857.

They lived in Jefferson County Florida for a while and then after the Civil War moved to Manatee County Florida. Elmina and Allen lived in the Parrish community near her daughter, Margery Henry Lundy. Elmina died and was buried next to the Lundy family in the Parrish cemetery. Allen was buried there also but didn't have a marker on his grave. Relatives remember a wood fence around his grave that is long gone.

After meeting his 85 year old great granddaughter who knew the location of his grave I decided to get a marker for him. I knew from my research he had served in Florida's 1st Cavalry Regiment during the war so I gathered documentation of his service and identification and requested a marker from the Veterans Administration.

One of the more competent parts of our federal government is the VA office that provides markers for veteran's graves. They promptly sent out a marker to my mother's house in Cortez, Florida. It weighed over 100 pounds so my 80 year old mother wasn't going to move it. It sat on her porch until I figured out how to get it to the cemetery.

One of the Sons of Confederate Veterans groups in the area agreed to put the marker on the grave with appropriate military honors. It was done on Confederate Memorial Day and members of SCV and Daughters of the Confederacy came in costume. Not a bad turn out for a farmer who died and was buried without a lot of fanfare 110 years before.

The result is Allen B. Davis received the honor he was due by a "grateful nation" and will be remembered not just his descendants but by those who honor graves of veterans.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Corn, Tobacco and .... Oysters

I came across an interesting deed while researching my Great Great Grandfather, David W. Fulford. His family lived on the same piece of land in North Carolina for almost 300 years. After most of his children moved to Florida in the 1880s he and his younger sons remained behind. In 1908 when he was 76 years old he sold his home to his youngest son Marvin. Along with the property was deed to his Oyster Garden located in Fulford's Creek ( now called Sleepy Creek) in the Straits, Carteret County NC.

David Fulford owned a lot of land and was listed as a Farmer on most of the census records. I've been out to Sleepy creek and there aren't any signs of the Oyster Garden but you have to wonder if the Oysters that folks get from those waters are descendants of those David Fulford put out there one hundred years ago.

State of North Carolina Carteret County
This Deed, made this 1st day of April 1908, by David W. Fulford of Straits Carteret County and State of North Carolina, of the first part: to Marvin C. Fulford of Straits Carteret County and the State of North Carolina, of the second part:

Witnesseth That said David W. Fulford in consideration of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars, to him paid by Marvin C. Fulford, the receipt which is hereby acknowledged has bargained and sold, and by these presents do bargain, sell and convey to said Marvin C. Fulford and his heirs and assigns a certain tract or parcel of land in Straits Township, Carteret County, State of North Carolina adjoining the lands of Josiah Willis, Ralph Pigott and John Nelson and others, bounded as follows, viz:

On the north by Pigott Lane on the east by the Josiah Willis land, on the south by waters of Straits and on the west by Ralph Pigott and John Nelson lands. All of the two tracts of land which I bought of the heirs of Washington Styron and John D. Pigott both improved and woods lands being 49 acres more or less. Another tract of land containing thirty acres adjoining the land of John B. Lewis on the east, Fulfords creek on the South, Stephen Fulfords on the west being a part of the land from my father’s estate.

Also my Oyster Garden in Fulford’s Creek.

I reserve my life estate.(houses, furniture, tools)
To have and to hold, the aforesaid tract or parcel of land, and all privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging, to the said Marvin C. Fulford, his heirs and assigns to their only use and behalf forever.

And the said David W. Fulford covenants with said Marvin C. Fulford his heirs and assigns that he is seized of said premises in fee and has right to convey in fee simple; that the same are free and clear from all encumbrances and that he will warrant and defend the said title to the same against the claims of all persons whomsoever.

In testimony whereof, the said David W. Fulford has hereunto set my hand and seal, this day and year first above written.
David W. Fulford (Seal)
Filed for registration June 11, 1908