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.
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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.