Monday, December 28, 2009

Running out of room

The publisher of my grandmother Edith Wilson Fulford's bible apparently didn't expect she would have such a large family. They only printed room for five children. That itself is unusual because most of the families in the late 1800s and early 1900s had about double that number.

They may not have all lived to adulthood, but most of the families had twice as many children as my parents and four times as many as my wife and I.

In the case of my grandmother she had to write the names and facts about her last two children in the margins of the page. With all the use the bible got from my grandmother, my uncle Gary has just about gotten worn out. Some might say that was fitting. Gary was born sixty years ago today!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday meals

What did our ancestors eat for holiday meals? I wonder if they had some of the memorable experiences we have during attempts to create holiday meals.

None of the family recipes we have are older than our grandparents. My wife just made some really nice looking aprons for her sisters that included some of her grandmother's recipe cards. I can remember her serving Red Velvet Cake every year.

Reading old wills and census records give some idea of what ancestors owned and some of them included food. I have seen bushels of corn, sweet potatoes, goats or head of cattle listed both as assets and bequeaths.

I would guess since most of what we eat for holidays includes locally grown food or at least something that could have been locally grown if we were more diligent in supporting the local farms, the meals would be like ours.

They would have probably served Turkey for Thanksgiving and would have had experiences like we did in our first family Thanksgiving when someone forgot to turn on the oven.

I am sure being in the South they would have had Pecan pie but hopefully not like my Uncle Gary's when he forgot to put in the eggs and sugar and it just had a layer of Karo Syrup with pecans on top.

My grandfather Green grew sweet potatoes in his back yard so I am sure he ate them. He never went to college but I am sure he knew you had to cook them before you tried to mash them, a lesson my niece Rachel learned too late this year.

No, our ancestors may not have had microwaves and shiny blue convection ovens but the end result was probably pretty close to what many of us will share today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Indian Fighter

My great, great, great grandfather, William Rowell was born in 1791 in South Carolina and moved to what is now Taylor County Florida in the 1820s. This was just a few years after Florida was bought from Spain. He was on the first Florida census taken in 1830.

Most of the territory was inhabited by Native Americans and the new white settlers were not welcomed by them at all. William Rowell enlisted as a private in the Florida Militia in 1836 during the 2nd Florida Indian War and served in several tours and battles around the state. By 1837 he had been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and had his own Company. The 2nd Florida Indian wars continued from 1835 to 1842, in between conflicts the men returning home to take care of crops and family.
William Rowell was promoted to Captain by 1839 when a New York newspaper printed the following account of one of his encounters with the Indians.

New York American - April 2, 1839 Pages 6-7

Tallahassee - March 20

POSTSCRIPT - We stop the press to tell another tale of Indian fighting, blood and murder. We shall be brief, for we are sick at heart upon even an approach to this subject.

On Monday, while Captain Rowell's company was scouting, they fell in with an old Negro man, who told them that they had just seen Indians and directed the soldiers where they might find them. The scouts charged on and soon came in sight of two Indians, who were quietly seated on a fence and who beckoned the whites in a friendly manner to approach, which the latter did fearlessly, and upon nearing the fence, were fired on by a large party of Indians who were concealed in the hammock, supposed to number from 60 to 70.

Two of Capt. R's company were killed on the spot and two badly wounded. One dead Indian was afterwards found on the ground.

Captain Rowell and his men are said to have fought bravely but had not sufficient force to contend successfully with the foe.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A box of new markers

My girls always enjoyed getting a new box of Crayola markers for school. The marker that arrived in a box at our house this week was not one of the traditional colors.

When we visited Carteret County in October I realized that my ancestor Stephen Fulford lived in the immediate area of the Fulford family cemetery on Piper Lane and he was more than likely buried there along with his son and other family members.

Since there was no grave marker for him I decided to obtain one. I sent in the documentation of his Revolutionary War service and the other papers required of the VA Headstone and Marker Application Process. It only took about six weeks for the marker to arrive.
I don't know if his grave was marked in the past but if so, it has long since disappeared.

Stephen Fulford lived on the Straits in Carteret County North Carolina and spent his entire life on the same piece of land he was born on, his father, grandfather and great grandfather were born on. He was born in 1749 and died in 1834.

He served as a Sergeant in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War.He also served again during the War of 1812.

The family story is that he was responsible for sinking a British ship during the War of 1812. He swam out to the ship, anchored in the Beaufort, North Carolina harbor and attached an explosive to the hull. I don't know if that story is true or not but he swore to it when he filed a military pension claim. He was 63 years old in 1812 so he must have been in pretty good shape.
Of course the harbor at Beaufort is not very large so maybe he didn't have to swim far. There wasn't room on the marker to put much of his story so that will just have to be something we remember and continue to pass down.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Name Brands

If I am a name brand person then in a way you can blame my uncle Ralph.

Neither of my parents were known for spending money. They both were more than happy to see Wal Mart come to town with it's generic of everything.

I can remember vividly the lesson I learned when I was about 12, spending the summer with Ralph and Lois and we went to the grocery store. He sent me to find a jar of peanut butter. At the time, I was like my niece Gracen, peanut butter was the only sustenance.

I came back with the store brand and put it in the cart. Ralph looked at it and said, casually, if you are going to buy something don't waste your time with that junk, go get the good stuff. I was more than happy to do so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I think this old picture was from a Thanksgiving meal around 1960. It was taken at my Grandparent's house in Cortez, Florida. We went there for most holidays and since there are no Christmas decorations up it is probably at Thanksgiving.

My Dad is on the left, and my Grandmother Edith Wilson Fulford to his right.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wentworth Diary

James Hamilton Wentworth was the husband of Elizabeth Green, sister of my great grandfather Andrew Jackson Green
Wentworth Business Card
He was 45 years old when they got married in 1883 and she was his third wife. I found this old photo of them was in my great grandparents bible.

James & Elizabeth Wentworth
As a younger man he enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Florida Infantry was promoted to Lieutenant and participated in several of the important battles of the Civil War.

James Wentworth was taken prisoner at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He was held as a Prisoner of War at Fort Delaware POW camp in the middle of the Delaware River for the rest of the war.

He was highly educated before the war. After the war he was a school teacher , lawyer, Judge, County Commissioner and Superintendent of Schools in Taylor County Florida.

He became a Baptist Preacher late in life and moved to Escambia County Florida.

He kept a diary of his years as a prisoner. The Fort Delaware camp was unusual in that the Confederate soldiers published a camp newspaper. There aren't any records to prove who wrote the newspaper but he is a likely suspect.

Fort Delaware POW Newspaper

Parts of his prison diary have been published in several magazines and excerpts were in the Perry Florida Newspaper in the 1980s.

Recently a cousin obtained a copy of the entire diary and transcribed it. It is an interesting account of surviving and keeping hope to return home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Turkey Soup

My brother in law, Mike spends a lot of time in the kitchen whenever my wife's family gets together. When the occasion is Thanksgiving he makes turkey soup.

He starts this almost as soon as the Thanksgiving meal is over. All the leftover turkey, bones and whatever is dumped in a large pot and boils on the stove all day. Mike is a pretty good cook, self made, due to both need and desire. His turkey soup is always popular.

I can't remember every having turkey soup before Mike joined the family. We always ate Thanksgiving with family and always had turkey but I don't remember soup. The only thing I remember about my grandmother Edith's turkey was the seafood dishes that were served with it. There would be shrimp, oysters or fish.

My mother's turkey dishes were normally only motivation to get to the pumpkin pie sooner. In both cases the leftover turkey was something to avoid. Too bad they didn't have the soup recipe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


My mom officially joined the Daughters of the American Revolution earlier this year.

She finally received a certificate, suitable for framing. The first one had the wrong home state listed for her Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long lost cousins

Several months ago I came across this blog written by Taneya, an African American woman who lives in Nashville. She was commenting on finding a marriage record for David Nunn and Mary Koonce.

David was a slave owner like many in North Carolina and had a slave, Solomon Koonce who was the ancestor of another African American researcher. David was also the first cousin of my ggg grandmother, Mary Nunn.

I have just started researching the Nunn family and only know about it because I found the death certificate for my gg grandmother and it listed her mother's maiden name.

I've helped on research for a couple African American families who lived in Florida for folks who found my email address on some genealogy web page and saw some surnames that matched theirs.
I have some difficulty in doing family research but for them it is many times more difficult due to the lack of records and also the lack of surnames. Slaves were listed only by sex and age up until 1870. Even after that since many of them could not read or write, their census record was not correct.
Many slaves took their surname from their owner and it may have changed. It has to be an amazing accomplishment to actually obtain some written documentation that would prove their ancestry.

Taneya is the administrator of several North Carolina and Tennessee County genealogy web pages so I am sure much of her time is spent doing research and locating valuable records that help others.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Family Veterans Day

My Dad was big into celebrating Veterans Day. He would always put up a flag, even if it meant taking down his FSU flag to do it.

Even though his military service spanned four decades he never was interested in the military clubs. He was a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars for a while but never went to meetings and never had time for the other groups.

He did want to make sure Veterans received their proper honor. He contributed money to the WWII Memorial early on and kept up with the progress as it was being built. He, like many of the WW II vets, didn't live long enough to see it completed.

Daddy sent in memorials for his brothers and himself to the WW II Registry. Considering he never used a computer and didn't even have a typewriter at that point in life this was quite an accomplishment.

After he died he received a special invitation to the opening of the WWII Memorial. I sent it to my sister Cathy, so she and her husband Tom could attend.

I've submitted WW II memorials for about a dozen family members. Some made it through the war and some didn't. If your family has WW II Veterans, you should make sure they are included in the WW II Memorial Registry.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oliff family

My great grandmother was named Rebecca Oliff Hogan Green. Another relative in Perry, Florida was named Mary Oliff Kelly.

A common practice in the 1800s was to use the mother's family name as the middle name of children. I haven't been able to figure out how we are related to the Oliff family.

I wish I could solve this one since one of my favorite aunts is Freida Wilson, who was born Freida Oliff King. She married my great uncle Walt Wilson. Freida was named for her mother's family. It would be nice to find we are related to Freida by more than marriage.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday School Ticket

Mary Warshaw, an artist and blogger from Beaufort, NC came across a Sunday school ticket, issued to Irvin Fulford in 1851. It was from Ann Street Methodist Church in Beaufort.

My wife and I visited this church the last time we were there, since it was across the street from the B&B we were staying at.

According to an old publication about the church history that Mary Warshaw found, the Sunday school ticket was given quarterly to such members of the Church as were recommended by a class leader with whom they had met at least 6 months on trial. Those without tickets were regarded as 'strangers.'
Back then strangers were not admitted to many of the church events.
I researched Irvin Fulford several years ago because I found battle reports he had issued during the Civil War.
He was the officer in charge of the artillery defense of Fort Fisher, located at Wilmington, NC. It was the only port on the Atlantic ocean still held by the South by December 1864.
The battle reports were published in 1893 and thanks to Google have been preserved
Irvin Fulford was born in Beaufort, North Carolina on March 31, 1839, the son of Absalom Fulford and Naomi Rumley. He enlisted in the CSA on April 23, 1861 as a private and eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant.
His defense of Fort Fisher was successful but in an earlier defense of Fort Hatteras, NC on August 29, 1861 his position was overrun and he was captured and held as a POW along with 670 other troops who were at the fort.
He was paroled six months later and returned to Beaufort where he promptly re-enlisted.
He grave is in the Old Burying Ground cemetery, behind the Ann Street Methodist Church that issued him the Sunday school ticket. I took this photo of the marker while in town.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

He got run over by a train

My grandfather's brother, John Henderson Green is buried next to my grandmother in the family plot in Perry, Florida. His grave marker is completely unreadable after 60 plus year of exposure to the elements. He died at age 36 in 1918. I am pretty sure the marker was put there in the 1940s since it matches those of my uncles who both died then.

It is made of concrete and I guess at the time it was thought to be a good idea but rain and the Florida sun coming down on it for all those years have polished it like river rock.

I wasn't even sure who was buried there until I located a census of the cemetery done by Jesse Paulk of Salem, Florida. He did the survey of Woodlawn Cemetery in the 1980s and I guess at the time he could make out the words.

When I found out who was buried there I tried to locate some information about him. I found him on a couple census records but nowhere else. He was always listed as single so I guess he never married. He wasn't listed in the WWI draft register and I couldn't find any land records in his name. I am pretty sure he was named after his grandfather, James Henderson Hogan.

The only place I found his name was in an interview done by my brother when he was talking to one my great aunts in the early 1980s. It just said "he got run over by a train."

Ben said the story was he was drunk and fell asleep on the track. I'm not sure if that was true but I guess it doesn't matter how you get hit by a train, the effect is the same. This photo of him was in my grandfathers papers. I expect it is the only one of him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lost and found

I received word this week from distant cousin Giles Willis, the marker for Richard Whitehurst is not actually on his grave. His home was at the end of Stewart Road where this cemetery is located. He was apparently buried near his home in a family cemetery in 1823.

Somehow over the years his grave location was lost and the marker ended up buried 3 feet under ground. When a developer was clearing land to build new houses in the area they found the marker along with one for Sarah Langdon Whitehurst. The two markers were placed in the family cemetery of John Burgess Whitehurst who was the son of Richard.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oldest Ancestor

He didn't live to the oldest age but so far Col. Richard Whitehurst is the oldest ancestor I have located. At least to locate his grave in person.

While in Carteret County North Carolina for the 150th Anniversary event for the Cape Lookout Lighthouse this month we looked for and found the Whitehurst family cemetery on the Straits. Now it really wasn't lost but I had never seen in on prior trips to the area and the directions weren't real clear.

We drove to the end of Stewart Street without seeing it and only on the way back noticed the small concrete block wall. It looked like the beginning of a garage from the street.

Richard Whitehurst was born on July 12, 1766 and died October 15, 1823. I found a record showing he was appointed "Lieutenant Colonel Commandant" of the Carteret County militia on December 17, 1789. His son in law, Thomas Fulford succeeded him in this position.
He was married to Margaret Burgess and she is supposed to be buried in this cemetery but there is no marker for her.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nicholson's graveyard

My 3rd Great Grandmother was Rebecca Paulk and she married James Hogan on August 14, 1834 in Stewart County Georgia. Her marriage record was one of the first things I found when I started researching the Hogan family about 15 years ago.

It was several years later that I found a record that James Hogan had a second wife. James died in 1879 and his widow, Melody Arnold Hogan filed for a pension, claiming he served in the Creek Indian Wars from 1836 to 1838. As part of the application she filed an affidavit that Rebecca had died on October 4, 1847 and was buried in Nicholson's graveyard in Stewart County Georgia. It would have been 162 years ago this month.

I've looked for some reference to this cemetery ever since without success. There are several publications listing the cemeteries in Stewart and surrounding counties but none have one called Nicholson's. It would be nice to be able to locate it and see if her grave is there. Maybe one day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sad phone call

We called the Langdon House Bed & Breakfast this week to make a reservation. It is the B&B we have stayed at on two trips to Carteret County North Carolina. The Langdon House was built in the 1700s and is across the street from the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, one of the oldest cemeteries in North Carolina. That however was not the attraction for us after we stayed there the first time.

Back in June 2003 we visited Carteret County on a beach vacation and my hunt for dead relatives. We chose the Langdon House just because it looked convenient to downtown Beaufort. One of the best features though was the innkeeper, Jimm Prest. Jimm grew up in Florida and went to college in Gainesville but we never held that against him. He was a fantastic innkeeper. His mother was from Beaufort and he bought the house and
renovated it to operate as a B&B.

You could tell Jimm loved his job. He met us on the porch, walked us to some rocking chairs with drinks in hand and really made us feel like he was at our call 24X7 for anything during the stay. His advice was always right on.

On our second trip to Carteret County in 2006 we discovered he was also a relative. Most of the people in the small community are related and since my family lived there for 300 years there was a good chance I was related to many of them. Still, it was nice to find out he had an interest in genealogy and he was surprised I had his ancestors in my database. For the record, we were not close relations, 8th cousins are probably so far off they wouldn't print on the same page of the family tree.

One of the best memories was when we left to drive home last time we were there. We told Jimm we were leaving early and it would be too early for breakfast. He said he would put some coffee on for us late at night and we could get a cup for the road. The next morning there was no coffee and no sign of anyone awake so we packed the car and started to leave. It was raining as we pulled out and about a block away I noticed in the rear view mirror a big man running in back of the car. Jimm had already been up and fixed us a special breakfast and packed in a box with some poetry written for his "friends." He hadn't heard us until we started the car so didn't know we were leaving until he saw the car pulling out. He ran after us in the rain to make sure we had breakfast.

This week I called Langdon House to make a reservation for our trip to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse 150th Anniversary and was very sad to find out Jimm had passed away last year. He had a heart attack and died at the house. His widow Lizzet is still running the B&B so we are still going to stay there, but it probably won't be the same.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Cigar Maker

I've been trying to locate the burial location for James A. Wilson and his wife Viola V. V. Lundy. They were the brother and sister of my great grandparents and had married two years before. Two brothers married two sisters.
I'd heard they were buried in Major Adams cemetery near my great grandparents. Viola died in 1905 soon after the birth of their son Emery. I think James died a couple years later.

Two years ago I was in Bradenton for a week and visited the cemetery twice. I checked every marker but didn't find one for them. There are a couple unmarked plots near the other Wilson graves but I couldn't locate any records for the ownership of the plots in this old cemetery.

In researching them I tried to find James on the census from 1910 but couldn't locate him at all. I then looked for their son Emery. I was surprised to find him on the 1910 census living with his aunt Ellen Wilson Dortch very close to my great grandparents in Oneco, Florida. This probably means his father had died by 1910.

I then found him on the 1920 census in Tampa, Florida, this time living with Ellen Dortch's daughter, Lucy Wilson Lynn and her husband Bert. Emery was listed as a Cigar Maker, as was Bert. Tampa at that time was pretty much the Cigar Capital of the USA.

I didn't find any record of Emery after that for a long time. Then one day found an Emery Wilson on the 1930 census living in Detroit, Michigan. This one was shown as being born in Florida and his occupation was shown as a Cigar Maker. So Emery moved to Michigan for some reason. He was not married at the time and living in a boarding house. I've never found any record of him after that census so don't know what happened to him. And the mystery of where his parents are buried is still there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Horse Thieves

My wife's ancestor John W. Longacre survived the Florida Indian Wars and the Civil War but after moving to Texas was on the wrong side of an encounter with some Texas horse thieves.

John Longacre enlisted on Sept. 8, 1836 in Claysville, AL and served 18 months in the Florida Indian Wars.

He later served in Company G of the 7th Alabama Infantry during the Civil War, enlisting at age 46 on April 1, 1861. He moved to Texas before the war ended where he met and married Lieu Hamby Caraway in Erath County.

I met several relatives who were researching John Longacre and we knew he died in 1872 but didn't know anything about his death. One day while searching some online reference books I found the following entry about him.

"Alabama Records, Vol. 162, Jackson County" complied by Pauline Jones Gandrud pg. 75
Sep 20 1872 - John Longacre, formerly of Jackson County died recently in Texas from a pistol shot received while attempting to arrest two horse thieves. Mr. L. was a soldier of the Florida War and was well known in Jackson.

John Longacre died three months before his last child and my wife's ancestor, Benjamin Franklin Longacre was born.

Lou Caraway Longacre remarried two years after John's death having six small children and no husband. Her second husband was George Colett McDermott and she had four more children with him. They are both buried in the Aycock Cemetery in rural Erath County Texas.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A man called Tub

Crawford "Tub" Lundy was the brother of my great grandmother Ida Lundy Wilson. He got his name, not just from his large stature but from his part time profession.

Tub ran a general store in Parrish, Florida and was the Post Master. He also ran a Moonshine Still on a semi-regular basis. As far as I can tell his moonshine production was never hindered by local law enforcement. They tried but never were able to stop his enterprise. Tub Lundy died in 1949.

In 1984 his grandson, Crawford Wayne Lundy put
his grandpa's still on the front porch of his house in Parrish, Florida as a "talk piece." Since the still was in good working condition he would occasionally fire it up to show how it worked.

No doubt the descendants of those revenuers who chased Tub came calling and decided having a working still was illegal. They confiscated it and fined Wayne $150.

It took two years to resolve the legal case but in the end they returned the Still under the provisions it would be donated to the Palmetto Historical Park Museum and would no longer be "demonstrated" by the Lundys.

Friday, September 11, 2009

150th Anniversary

This October 10th is the 150th anniversary of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The land for the lighthouse was donated to the US Government by my ancestor, Joseph Fulford in 1805. The first lighthouse stood for about 50 years and was then replaced with the present structure in 1859.

The National Park Service sent me an invitation to attend the celebration. They wanted to have some family members there.In addition to Joseph Fulford who donated the land there were several family members who worked as Lighthouse Keepers during the early years.The first keeper one was the son of Joseph Fulford, James Fulford. James's son William Fulford followed in his fathers footsteps. Between the two of them they served as keeper for over 40 years.

We are thinking about making the trip. It should be a fun experience.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Order of the Deep

My Dad liked to save cards. He had all kind of
membership cards, ID badges and things he saved in an old cigar box.

They were from Officer's clubs on many military bases, his Flying Cadet ID, and before the age of PC, his "Jap Hunting License."

While looking through them I realized there was one that had a picture that went along with it.
It was his Ancient Order of the Deep ID card.

He got it when he crossed the Equator during WWII aboard a Tank Landing Ship, USS LST 128.
Along with the ID card was a photo of him having
his head shaved. A tradition that went along with
membership in the Ancient Order of the Deep.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

You could marry one

When my mother was younger she wasn't known for her money management skills. They haven't changed much over the years.

When she finished college she moved to Memphis and worked at Baptist Hospital for a while and then moved back to Florida and worked for a hospital in Panama City.

While in Panama City she lived with several other girls, including a friend from Cortez, Florida, Nadine Green. Nadine was also the first cousin of my father, but at the time my parents hadn't met.

Anyway, moma told me her plan was to work at the hospital and save enough money to buy a new car. After a while, her boss, knowing her plans and seeing how she wasn't making any progress told her, "Red, you could marry one a lot quicker."

About that time, my dad was visiting in Panama City and Nadine introduced them. I'm not sure it was the deciding factor but he did have a new car.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Biff Burger

My uncle Al always had an unconventional way to make a living. When he was younger he played the trombone in swing bands. My brother said he heard that Al played with the Paul Whiteman band for a while.

Later in life he had a candy vending machine business. It must have been successful because he always drove a nice car and had plenty of toys. Of course he didn't have children so maybe he had more to spend on them.

When he was in his fifties he bought a Biff Burger franchise in Tallahassee, Florida. Most won't know what Biff Burger is but at one time, at least in Tallahassee they were giving McDonald's a run for their money with their "Roto Broiled Burger." Most places fried the burger so this was truly new and improved. The chain had been started in Clearwater, Florida in the late fifties and Al opened it in Tallahassee about 1964.

I can remember when Biff Burger and McDonald's had a price war over what they charged for a hamburger. They both charged 15 cents and one decided to raise the price. There were several price changes up and down before they called a truce.

Al bought the business and my Dad worked with him for a while. I'm pretty sure Ben and maybe Cathy worked there after school.

I was too young to legally work behind the counter but I had the best job. My Dad would dress me up in a white shirt and tie and I was Biff. I just had to stand around or wave to people who drove by on Pensacola Street. I'm not sure if my solicitations did any good but I had fun and I was usually paid in ice cream. At the time I thought it was a pretty good salary.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It is what it is

Some stories just have to be told without comment. This is one of them.

My great great grandfather on my Dad's side was named Linson Williams. He was born about 1827 and died about 1856. I never knew anything about him until a few years ago when I came across Ann Wilson who lives in Florida.

Linson and his family moved from Lowndes County Georgia to Taylor County Florida around 1855. His father had owned a lot of land in Georgia so when they moved to Florida they put it up for sale. A few years later the property was sold and he traveled to Valdosta, Georgia to finalize the transaction.

On his way back to Taylor County he was killed and the money stolen. The story Ann told was that his head was severed from his body and it and the money was never found.

A Georgia sheriff found a black man near Savannah, Georgia who had cash on him and it was assumed that he had killed Linson. He was immediately hung, without benefit of a trial.

For some reason the rope used to hang this man was given to the family back in Taylor County. Linson's daughter Mary kept it as a family memento. It was passed down in the family for almost 100 years. It was lost when one of the great grandchildren's house burned down in the 1950s.

Another descendant of Linson Williams is Lawrence E. "Bummy" Williams, the current sheriff of Taylor County Florida. I wonder if he knows this family story. Maybe he can get someone to open a cold case investigation.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Twenty Eight

Twenty Four was the name of a popular TV show and I have to admit I've never seen it. My brother in law Tom was enamored with it and tried to get me hooked but failed. At the same time he turned me on to The Office with a lot more success.

Twenty Eight is the number of years my grandmother lived.

You have to wonder what may have been if she lived longer. I had only been married a couple years at age 28. Our first daughter was only one.

In my Dad's family his mother died when he was three but she had already born five sons in ten years of marriage and had another child who died soon after birth.
Ila Rowell Green was born in 1887 and died in 1915. She had been sickly and apparently died of heart problems.

She was born as the oldest child of Seth David Rowell and Martha Jane Williams Rowell in the Shady Grove community of Taylor County Florida. Her father's family had lived in the area even before it was part of the United States.

After her death my Grandpa tried to raise five sons as best as he could but he wasn't the most loving father. He remarried once for only a few months and had a series of live-in housekeepers. But he was never wealthy and I am sure was much harder inside because he lost his wife so young.
I have a letter her son Bryant wrote to his aunt a few years before he died in WWII and he laments that his mother had died when he was an infant and wondered how life would have been had she lived.
A sad coincidence is that Ila's sister Mary Rowell Grantham died at age 28 also just a few years after her.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The family Bunch

I researched the Bunch family of South Georgia and Florida for my Dad's cousin Hubert Horne about 4 years ago. His father's middle name was Bunch and his great grandmother was named Eleanor Marzenah Bunch.

Hubert had heard that she was a full blood Cherokee Indian and he wanted to know if this was true. I spent several months researching her family. I determined she may have had some Indian ancestor in her line but she was not full blooded and had more Caucasian blood than anything else.

While researching the family name I came across several references to the Bunch family name. The most interesting part was the Bunch family living in East Tennessee. As far as I can tell they aren't related to Hubert's family.

The East Tennessee Bunch family are part of the Melungeons. I never mentioned this to Hubert because although he wanted to find out about an Indian connection in his family line, a story about African relatives would not have gone over well.

The more I read about the Melungeons the more fascinating the story becomes. They are generally known as a mixed race group of people who live in East Tennessee and Western Virginia.

Some say they are descendants of early Portuguese explorers, some same they are the original Native Americans others say they came from slaves who were granted their freedom before the American Revolution.

They were called Mulatto on early census records but today are generally considered Caucasian. They were the subject of a organized hunt by Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics in the 1940s to weed out "mongrels" who were trying to pass as white.

There are a couple genealogist who are doing DNA testing on the family surnames so maybe the mystery will be solved soon as to where they came from.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lundy Landing

I was visiting Manatee County Florida this week. While there I decided to try to locate the spot where my great great grandfather, William Lundy settled on the Manatee river in 1890.

A Lundy cousin told me the general area but said I couldn't get to it because it was on private land and posted. I had coordinates from the plot map and drove out anyway. Using my GPS I found it pretty quickly.

The old house is long gone but was on the river at the end of 104 Avenue East on the north side of the river. 104th Avenue dead ends on the river. Apparently the neighboring property owner convinced the County to close off the road. There is a gate across it about one half mile from the river.

There were plenty of No Trespassing signs on the fence along the road but none on the dirt road itself. Since it is still public property I decided it was not illegal to walk down the road. I jumped over the gate and walked to the river. At the end of the road I could not find any sign of the house. There were some old red bricks but from the photos I've seen the house was wood frame painted white. They may have come from the chimney or maybe just trash from someone over the last 100 years.

Ponce De Leon Mineral spring was also at this point but I knew it had gone dry in the 1920s
so I didn't expect to find any sign of it and didn't.

It was getting dark and since the adjoining land was posted I decided to stay on the old road and go home. But at least I found it and can say I was there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pay to Play

Spurgeon Aline Fulford Lumpkin was my mother's 2nd cousin. I never met her but her daughter Rebecca sent me some of her genealogy material. Aline was a lawyer in Alabama and she was very thorough in her family history research. She had small notebooks that she kept notes in and it covered various subjects and leads she had found.

One part of the material that was interesting is her correspondence with a firm in Canterbury England, Achievements, Ltd. who she hired to locate the family of John Fulford who settled in North Carolina in the early 1600s.

Ailne and another cousin, Carolyn Fulford had contacted the company who claimed they could locate the family. Over a period of several years the two of them paid the London company a lot of money to do research. Each letter with a report on their findings implied they were close to success and just needed some more research time and money to find John Fulford's family.

Looking at it now I am probably too cynical about a UK researcher getting Americans to pay to track down their English forbears. I can't find anything in their reports that would have told Aline anything new. I know there are genealogy researchers on both sides of the pond who are less than scrupulous and I've run across a couple close to home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A pack of Wilsons

I've been trying to figure out where my ancestor Moses Wilson came from for several years. I've visited rural cemeteries in Alabama and Florida running down leads. I was thinking his father was the John Wilson I found in rural Montgomery County Alabama but now I'm not so sure.

Moses was born about 1810 in North Carolina and moved to Alabama around 1830 and then Florida around 1860. He had two wives and 25 children.

There were always other Wilsons living around him on census and land records, who may have been related but so far every lead has been DOA. Recently I came across Ron Head, a Wilson researcher who had taken every Wilson in Montgomery County Alabama from 1820 to 1870 and mapped where they lived.
He took the records and put them onto current maps and sprinkled in the meager will and estate records from the area.

His research has been the best lead yet and may turn out to be something that will prove for certain the parents and heritage of Moses.