Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dreams of Fulford by the Sea

When you come across a town with the name of your family you are almost required to research it to see if there is some kind of connection to your family.

I lived in North Miami, Florida for a year after college but never knew the area a couple miles north used to be called Fulford.

It was named for Captain William Hawkins Fulford who obtained 160 acres in the area by homestead in 1897. In 1912 some real estate developers bought the land from Captain Fulford with the idea they could divide it and additional acreage for residential lots. They called the development Fulford by the Sea and started selling lots in 1922.

The city development included a mile and a quarter wooden automobile race track. There was only one race at the track, in 1925 but it set a world speed record. The track and surrounding area was destroyed in a hurricane in 1926.

This was the time of the Florida Land Boom when speculators bought up worthless land and sold it to unsuspecting northerners. Fulford by the Sea was an extensive complex with wide boulevards, fountains and city services. They built a radio station and brought in prospective buyers on tour ships.
The real estate development went bankrupt several years later and the developer was charged with land fraud. It was one of the many land developments in Florida that fizzled out after the land boom of the 1920s. The State legislature changed the name of the City from Fulford to North Miami Beach in 1931.

William Hawkins Fulford was born in North Carolina in 1835. I've spent over five years off and on researching him but only recently came up with the proof that he was related to my Fulford family. According to my genealogy software he is my 2nd cousin, 4 times removed.

He was the son of William Fulford, born April 2, 1786 of Carteret County NC and Civil Pigott. His death certificate states the names of his parents. It shows his place of birth as Branford, NC but this was just an error in spelling Beaufort. There has never been a community in NC called Branford.

Because he had a city named after him there have been several books written about him. None of them were able to identify his heritage. In fact one called "South Florida History" says he was born in England. I'm not sure how they came up with that since he listed North Carolina as his place of birth on every census.
His father, William Fulford in Carteret County was the lighthouse Keeper at Cape Lookout Lighthouse. William Hawkins Fulford worked as the Lifesaving Station Keeper in Dade County Florida from 1890 to 1902. It was called the Biscayne House of Refuge.
Prior to that his occupation on census records in Florida was listed as Mariner or Sea Captain. He was the Captain of a Steamship between Jacksonville and New Smyrna, Florida for many years.

William Hawkins Fulford died in 1915. The following notice was printed in the June 4, 1915, Florida East Sentinel. "Capt. W. H. Fulford died at New Smyrna Tuesday morning. The Captain for whom this town was named and who was its first postmaster had passed his four score years and was greatly beloved by all his many friends on the East Coast where he had lived for over thirty years. He was a sailing vessel captain for many years and had sailed every ocean and had a host of friends in every port. His homestead at Fulford was bought by the Fulford Improvement company two years ago when he moved from the old stone house to his cottage on Royal Glade Boulevard. Besides his wife he leaves a son, a glass merchant of San Francisco, to mourn his death."

The article to the right is from the New Smyrna News.

William Hawkins Fulford had only one child, William Gilbert Fulford who was born in 1862 in North Carolina. He moved to San Francisco, California around 1890 and worked as paint and glass salesman for the W P Fuller Company. He filed an application for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution based on his mother's Revolutionary War ancestor. He could have also claimed membership based on his father's family since his great grandfather, James Martin Fulford was a Revolutionary War veteran also.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

There's some old lady on the phone

I don't know if it's an exception or rule but it most of the people I've met who do family history research are women and elderly. My wife has given me more messages than she wants to remember from strange women but I guess she could figure out from their age they were not competition.

Her aunt Frances was one of the first family members we came across who was into genealogy. I compared notes a few times with her but Mary was the one who drove around rural Tennessee with her looking for cemeteries.

I've met several elderly women who were related to one of my family lines who did genealogy research and was fortunate to have them share their research with me. For the most part they started their research when the only way to do it was to visit Court houses and public libraries, reading microfilm or faded paper records. They haven't taken to using the Internet, which is a shame because the availability of information on the Internet today allows us to find answers so much quicker.

Elizabeth Taylor, from ATL not LA was one I met, about 8 years ago. She and I are related on the Paulk family from Georgia. She sent me a large box of her research and some from a woman in Chicago named Emma Pierce who had died 10 years earlier. Emma Pierce and I were related from both the Paulk and Hogan family. Both ladies had tirelessly typed out their research and had shared with each other for about 20 years before Emma died. It was interesting to see the questions they had tried to answer, many of them dealing with my immediate family members, so I had the answers they never found.

About 6 months after I received the papers from Ms. Taylor I called her house and found she had passed away also. Since then there have 4-5 other elderly women who I had been sharing research with who have passed away. In most cases there wasn't really anyone in their immediate family who was interested in the research. I hope they hang on to the papers and another member of the family decides to take up the cause.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A member of the DAR

My mother was inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution last week. She joined based on research I gave her proving her ancestor, Stephen Fulford was a Revolutionary War Patriot.

She is the first one in our family to join the DAR. My daughters could join based on 5-6 different ancestors but they aren't interested in it. Maybe when they are in their 80s it will be something for them to do, like their grandmother.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The hat lady

Today is the 124th birthday of my great grandmother, Ida Lundy Wilson. She was born Idle Day Lundy but changed her first name when she was an adult so she would no longer be a reminder of her folks fooling around.

Grandma Ida was famous for her hats. I never knew her since she died a few months after I was born. Looking through her old photos though I found dozens of pictures of her in all kinds of hats. Church hats, fancy ones with feathers, work hats and many strange ones. She must have had a room full of them.

My cousin Juanita Vaughan told me what she remembered most about her was the collection of hats and her playing music on a small organ in the family room. I think she must have loved having her picture taken also!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Black Sheep Squadron

This was the name of a TV show in the 70s about a group of WWII fighter pilots who stayed in trouble. Their leader, Robert Conrad had a much longer run in the Wild Wild West show in the 1960s.

In genealogy, black sheep show up in every family and usually there isn't a lot of information about them. Probably embarrassment kept them in the background but like the saying, hide in plain sight, they are well known to all at the time.
The census takers in the 1870 and 1880 census listed them as "idiot" or "insane" under occupation. That was a short lived category but a lot of people were shown with it. Today we are usually more PC.
They battled one demon or another, alcohol, drugs or just laziness sentenced them to the black sheep squadron of their day. They never worked for very long and would not have survived if not for the handouts they received from family.

My cousin, Doris Adams Green wrote about "Uncle Henry" in her book, Fogs Comin In, and said he lived in a shed in back of my great grandparent's house in Cortez, Florida. He never had a family and never really had a job. He made enough money to survive hauling firewood in a wheelbarrow. He ended up in the Manatee County old folk's home and died at age 88 in 1935. Doris never knew why they called him uncle but I found he was the brother of Hope Foreman and therefore the uncle of Sallie Adams Fulford. I guess she made sure he had a place to live.

My uncle, Floyd Green worked as a house painter but battled alcohol most of his life and never did anything for long without succumbing to the bottle. I can remember going to the Taylor County Jail with my Dad and waiting outside as he visited Floyd. He had been arrested for public drunkenness. My grandfather didn't have a lot of patience with his escapades and would let him serve his time. He came to live with us once in Tallahassee but it didn't last long so I suppose he fell off the wagon.

Japer Guy "Bunks" Fulford was another member of the club in Cortez, Florida. He would sleep where he landed and ride around the village on a bicycle looking for just enough work to buy a bottle. As a kid he would entertain us with his talk, rambling on with crazy stories, and strong smell of alcohol on his breath. I never knew how he was related but figured he was somehow because my uncle Ralph would look after him.

Today there are just as many, maybe more, as there were in the past generations. They come in all sizes and their demons are the same as those who came before.