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.