Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indian Connection

Most families in the South have a story about someone being part Indian. I've found most I researched were not true.

My wife's great grandmother was reported to be Cherokee. Her maiden name was Nancy Pittman and she married Eli Lawrence. Nancy's mother was named Comfort Hatfield and she married Daniel Pittman. With a first name like Comfort the Indian connection certainly seemed possible. Comfort was born in Kentucky about 1810.

Another Lawrence family researcher recently found a Guion Miller application that was submitted by Nancy's nephew in 1907. The application was denied because he didn't have any written proof but in it he said Nancy's grandmother was named Annie Ross and she was one quarter Cherokee.

I came across this photo of Nancy taken about 1918. Compare it to my daughter Kristen's picture taken 70 years later and you can surely see the Cherokee family resemblance.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family inheritance

When you talk of a family inheritance most of us think of a house, stocks or grandma's jewelry. In my family, skin cancer is what has been passed down from one generation to another.

Having red hair, fair complexion and growing up in Florida sure didn't help, but my genes would have caught up with me, even in Seattle. I knew my grandfather died from it in 1965 and most close relatives have had more than one but only recently found a record that my great great great great grandmother died from it.

I was reading the Revolutionary War pension file of Louisa Gabriel Willis Fulford. It has a December 10, 1849 affidavit from Samuel Leffers, Carteret County Justice of the Court of Pleas stating that Louisa had been confined to her bed for over three years because of Cancerous Affection of the Face. Louisa died eight months after the affidavit was written.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Four sons

It is always sad to find children's graves next to the parents without knowing much about them. Were they the only ones born to the family. Why did they die so young.

I recently located the Ware - Green Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama and it held several relatives place of rest. There were four sons born to Joseph Anthony Green and Margaret Boutwell Taliaferro between 1820 and 1840 who died young and were buried in the plot that would eventually hold their parents.

Benjamin Taliaferro Green was born in 1821 and died in 1831. Brother Thornton Green was born in 1836 and died in 1838. Francis Benjamin Green was born in 1839. They reused the name Benjamin after the first one died but this one died young also in 1847. A brother who was never named was born and died in January 1840.

I'm not sure exactly how Joseph Anthony Green and I are related. I found him via a dna test that proved we share a common ancestor. I think I know who that is but don't have proof yet. In the mean time I have been getting to know a couple of the relatives on his side of the family tree.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Suicide. It's not a pleasant subject but it's there staring at us when we research family history.

Several of my distant relatives or those connected by marriage committed suicide. I often have to edit out the facts on the family histories I've published so to not offend.

I suppose there are cases in every family but it's not something we normally talk about. The first one I remember was a good friend of my Grandfather Tink, Albert "Gator" Mora. Gator was a big man, hence the name, a commercial fisherman who at age 60 had been diagnosed with cancer in 1964. After finding out he went home, parked his car with the engine running, put a garden hose in the exhaust and the other in the side window and sat down behind the wheel.

Gator met my Grandpa Green once, maybe at my parent's wedding and was friends of sorts with him. They had an ongoing "discussion" of who owed who money. Gator would give me messages to tell him something about the money Grandpa had under his bed or buried in his yard and Grandpa Green always had some retort about Gator paying off the money he owed. This photo is of Gator (on the left) and my uncle Ralph taken around 1960.

Some other cases I have come across, Grandpa Green's brother shot himself in 1934. The newspaper article about the event said only he had been despondent and shot himself in the heart as his sons approached the house.

Another great great uncle on the Fulford side of the family tied a rope around a 90 pound boat engine, tied the other side around himself and jumped overboard with the engine and drowned.

So what's the point, there is none. Just like when anyone takes this as the way out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You haven't changed a bit

People used to say it a lot more often to me. You haven't changed a bit.

I am still within 10 pounds of what I weighed when I was 18. My hair is still mostly red, although there are a few more blond spots.

I was thinking of my old monkey. I don't know his name, if he had one. I just remember him as monkey.

I got him when I was very young. He moved several times with my family before we settled in Tallahassee. From the photos it looks like he stayed for a while with my nieces.

This photo was taken in 1972 with my neice Jenny in Tallahassee.

My parents moved to Bradenton in 1974 but he moved back to Tallahassee with my sister Cathy and he seems to have been a close friend of my neice Bekah in 1976.

I am sure we have photos of him with my kids but couldn't find them. He has been a companion to two of our foster children and Cedric calls him "my monkey" today. Unfortunately he has been relegated to the dress up box.

Yes, he was stuck in an old steamer trunk with broken parasols, fur from an old collar and numerous hats and mis-matched shoes. I am not sure he has aged as much as the rest of us over the last 50 years. A couple seams that could use some thread and an ear that someone chewed on for too long, but all in all he looks pretty good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just an old store

Shortly after my ancestors moved to Cortez, Florida in the 1880s a wood frame store was built on the waterfront. It was a simple structure and they probably thought it would do for a while. I am sure they never expected it to outlive them.

It was used over the years not just as a store but a hotel, residence and in more recent years as a U.S. Coast Guard station. It survived not just 100 years facing the the harsh coastal wind but several direct hits by hurricanes.

When the government wanted to build a new home for the Coast Guard the 100 year old store was scheduled to be demolished.

The current residents of Cortez scrambled to save it, find a place to store it temporarily and then made plans to restore it. The temporary storage lasted over 13 years but it was finally moved to a permanent location and renovation begun. The goal is to have a family life museum in the store, to celebrate all the families who grew up, lived and died with the store.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. We are supposed to use this day to honor veterans. Those who served our county in the the military forces during war or peace.

I have a number of relatives and ancestors for whom I could give this honor. Cousins, brother and father in law, uncles and many grandfathers who served going back over 300 years.

But for this day, I choose to honor to my father.

Benjamin Clyde Green enlisted in the US Army on July 18, 1936, without any requirement or draft influencing his decision. He served during parts of four decades and on at least six continents.

He transferred from the regular Army to the Army Air Corps in 1937 because he wanted to fly. Later he joined the United States Air Force when it was organized during WWII. When the US Strategic Air Command opened bases in Europe and around the US he was there.

He served in combat and spent many years away from both his Florida hometown and his family. After he got married in 1949 he brought his family along with him to duty stations in Florida, Ohio, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Kansas and Texas.

He was probably disappointed that neither of his sons served in the military but he never said so. At least not to us.

He was proud of his own service and always gave respect and his thanks to veterans. He gave money to help build the WWII Memorial but didn't live long enough to see it completed.

So from this son, Thank You for your service!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Save the clipping

My wife's grandmother saved this Abilene, Texas newspaper clipping for over 40 years. Her son, Reginald Eugene Glenn had joined the Navy in November 1944 and I am sure she was proud of him. He was too young to join, only 17 and she had to sign the enlistment papers to give him permission.

Gene made it through the war but had a tough life afterwards and was shot to death in 1961. I found a couple other Abilene, Texas newspaper articles that listed him; one for an auto accident he had while driving a cab, one for a divorce and a couple when his elementary class was written up for something.

This was the one his mother kept.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Funeral Guest Book

I've seen several funeral books that were saved by family members for over 50 years. I guess that is one thing that you won't ever throw away if it was for your spouse, parent or child.

I'm not sure when this custom started. It is surely an American tradition. Signing the book is something we make sure we always do.

I've done a little research and couldn't really find anything on when, where or who started it. Maybe it came along with the use of greeting cards in the early 20th Century since the books are made by some of the same companies. The Hallmark Company was started in 1910.

I suppose the purpose is to allow family members to see who was there for the funeral or visitation since they may not be too aware of this during the event.

My grandmother Edith Wilson Fulford saved two funeral books. One for her mother and one for her husband. Her husband Tink Fulford's book also has all the cards people sent or brought.

I scanned the pages of the one for her mother, Ida (actually she was named Idle) Day Lundy Wilson. My great grandmother died in 1956. In looking at these I recognize most of the names as family or friends.

Her son Walt was the first to sign and conveniently he put his relationship as son next to his name and then others on that page followed his lead.

I shouldn't be surprised that most of those who signed are now deceased themselves. Ida was a widow for over 20 years and most of the signatures are of women. Does that mean they came by themselves? The funeral was on a Saturday morning. Maybe their husband was present and just let the wife sign. I do that myself since my wife has a more legible handwriting.

We didn't attend the funeral since my family had moved to France just a couple weeks before her death.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Savage Stricklands

No they weren't Native Americans. Just the father's first name was Savage.

Not sure how or why his parents would have given him that tag in 1803. He was the father of my Great Great Grandfather John Green's second wife.

My ancestor was born to John Green's first wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth died about 1857. His second wife, Sara Winiford Strickland raised the children John died a few years later.

Sarah was born in 1838. I've been trying to locate information on the Strickland family because her brother, John who was born in 1829 married Mary Elizabeth Green in 1860 in Taylor County Florida.

I would bet that Mary was related to John Green but so far have not been able to prove it. Mary and her husband John Strickland disappeared after the 1880 census in Taylor County.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ralph Moses Fulford

My uncle Ralph died this week at age 82. He was born in Cortez, Florida and lived all his life within a few miles of his parent's house. He married Lois Guthrie, a girl from Cortez and went to work for his father Tink at Fulford Fish Company. He built a house next to his parents and lived in it for over 50 years.

Ralph and Lois were married for 64 years. They have the record for the longest marriage in my family!

Ralph had three children and managed Fulford Fish for over 50 years. When he retired the business closed because there was no other family member to take it over. I guess everyone figured no one could do as good as Ralph had done with it.

Ralph's middle name came from his mother's side of the family. Her grandfather, who died 10 years before she was born was Moses Wilson. I'm not sure where the name Ralph came from. There were several Ralphs in the family back in North Carolina in the 1700 and 1800s but I doubt his parents would have known of them.

Ralph was truly a blessed man. He enjoyed his work, had a great marriage and was respected in his community. The one thing I remember most from my grandfather's funeral in 1965 was so many people commenting on what a good man Tink Fulford was and how they respected him. I remember sitting next to Ralph at that funeral. I am sure those same thoughts were on many minds yesterday at Ralph's funeral.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

PTSS or PTSD is what they call it if a person has psychological problems after some kind of trauma. It is popular with plaintiff lawyers when they are claiming pain and suffering. There have been so many claims of it recently that those who originally had it, received after experiencing war and it's horrors get drowned out by the woman who is suing over her hot coffee.

The original diagnosis was probably shell shocked. Like if you were on the receiving end of a canon shell. In researching the pension record for my great great grandfather, Joseph Rowell I discovered he made a claim of shell shock during his civil war service.

He was serving in the 11th Florida Infantry in February 1865 near Petersburg, Virginia when a Union artillery shell exploded next to him. He was thrown to the ground on top of several canteens and received a "rupture."

The injury never healed and he was disabled for the rest of his life. He died in 1896 and his widow, Versanoy Smith Rowell made a claim under the Florida Civil War pension laws for his injury. She said he was a "sound man" when he went to war but wasn't when he came home.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Start this thing over

I met Ken Clark several years ago while researching my wife's Longacre family. He contacted me and joined our Longacre Yahoo email group.

His connection was to Thomas Jefferson Longacre, born March 30, 1860 in Erath County Texas who was the son of John Longacre and Lieu Hamby Caraway. Thomas was the brother of my wife's ancestor Benjamin Franklin Longacre. Ken was his grandson, or so he thought.

Ken's research indicated Thomas moved to Washington state and actually changed his last name to Clark. He worked for the Northern Pacific railroad in several western states before settling in Washington and marrying Floy Leone Cary. I didn't know anything about Thomas at the time. The story of him changing his name sounded reasonable especially coming from a grandson. I recorded all the information Ken gave me but actually kept a separate record in my database, with the original Thomas Longacre record being unchanged.

Recently I came across a document that blew holes in the story. Texas put old death certificates online and surprise, surprise there was one for Thomas Jefferson Longacare. It showed his parents name and the fact that he died in Dallas, Texas in 1948. His occupation was listed as a Policeman and was married to Dorothy Jones.

So the whole story of him working for the railroad, moving to Washington and marrying there is not true. Ken will have to start over again in the search for his grandfather's family. His grandfather may have been born a Longacre but not the one in our family.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eli's Coming

I was reminded recently of a funny story. My wife has two ancestors named Eli Lawrence, they were her great and great great grandfathers. They lived in DeKalb and Smith County TN.

Her cousin Loyal had a son several years ago and decided to name him Eli Lawrence. At the time he and his wife thought they were choosing an original name and not using a family name. Naming your kid after a family member usually requires some negotiation and so it is not unusual to choose a name that is free of family connections. We decided not to name our girls after anyone in either family.

At a subsequent family reunion Loyal found out for the first time his ancestors had the same name. I had produced a family history book for them. I'm not sure if he was disappointed or not, but at that point it was too late.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Be Prepared

Twice now I've tried to locate old family cemeteries many miles from my home and couldn't find them. As it turned out I was within 50 yards both times and if I had better directions or equipment could have found them easily.

Once we were in North Carolina and the cemetery was easily visible 200 feet down a side street but were were looking in the weeds on the main road.

This fall we were camping with family near Chattanooga, TN and tried to locate the Pendergrass Family Cemetery and apparently walked right by it. Mary's GG Grandmother was Elizabeth M.Pendergrass who married William Anderson Jones. Elizabeth's parents and grandparents are buried in Pendergrass Cemetery.

We drove home from our camping trip via Soddy Daisey, TN and knew the Pendergrass family had lived there. I had heard of an old family cemetery and even had GPS coordinates. We drove to the location and found Pendergrass road clearly marked with street signs. As we got to the end of the pavement the GPS said to turn right onto another road that clearly did not exist.

We drove to the end and only saw woods and high weeds. As we were backing up we found an older couple driving a golf cart and stopped them to ask for directions. They didn't seem surprised or think it strange two folks from Memphis would be in front of their house asking about it. They told us we would have to walk about 3/4 of a mile because the road was blocked with downed trees.

We drove down the rut they called a road until we couldn't go any farther and parked the car, got our Weimaraner out to protect us from the snakes and took off. About the time we were ready to turn around we found a place they described and hoped to find the cemetery on the other side. Unfortunately as we searched we saw no markers. The afternoon sun was breaking thru in a few breaks between the tall trees and shadows were playing tricks on our eyes. We went off a couple times thinking we saw a marker or fence in the distance to only find and old broken commode and shadows.

After 30 minutes with no success we gave up and walked back to the car. I had a GPS in the car which probably could have helped us but forgot it when we walked off. GPS coordinates are not always perfect but I wish I had taken it along.

I also had seen this video of the cemetery years ago and had I looked at it before our trip probably would have easily found the right place.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

1830 census

Most people will say that the 1850 census was the first one that can really be used to trace family. It was the first census that listed every white person in the household.

The first census in 1790 and the subsequent ones, every ten years only listed the head of household so if there were common surnames it is difficult to determine the parents in many cases.

I met John Fulford recently who has lived in Bradenton, Florida for many years, near my Fulford relatives. Since his name was Fulford he wondered if he was related to them. He was born in Virginia and as far as he had known his family had been there for a long time. All of my Fulford relatives were from Beaufort in Carteret County North Carolina.

I started to look at his family records and noticed his last known ancestor, Elijah Fulford, listed Beauford, North Carolina as his place of birth. It made me suspect he was part of the Carteret County family but I had no proof and John had no information about his ancestors before Elijah. I knew of a Fulford family in Carteret County that had a son named Elijah who was born around the end of the 1700s but the last record of him was his father's will dated 1801. The will listed his mother's name was Sarah. The Elijah Fulford in Virginia first showed up there on the 1850 census.

Then as I looked at census records, I found an Elijah Fulford listed on the 1830 census for Currituck County North Carolina. Living nearby was a Sarah Fulford who's age matched the Sarah listed in the 1801 will. Between them was a Rodney Fulford. When I went back and read the will again, I saw Elijah had a brother by that name. All of the ages matched the ages in the will. As such, I am certain this is the same family and they came from Carteret County. According to my genealogy software, John and I are 6th cousins. He now has a whole town full of relatives living around him.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Search for the killer

My wife's aunt by marriage, Geneva Fay Elkins Glenn Honeycutt was murdered while standing on her front porch in Abilene, Texas on June 17, 1972.

Mary had never met her and we really didn't know anything about her. My wife's uncle had been shot and killed himself in 1961 and Geneva remarried. They had a son, Ronald Eugene Glenn but after his father's death he was adopted by the new husband so there was no contact with him either.

The Abilene paper has a lot of the old newspapers articles online now and I found several about the murder. The man who shot her, Arthur Kinard Cherry was convicted of Murder with Malice and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

He was 68 years old when sent to prison so even though his sentence is about up, I suspect he didn't live to see the outside of the bars. I haven't been able to find a record yet of what happened to him. He is not listed in the Texas prisoner register and I haven't found a death record or any other trace of him.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Eleanor Kuhlman was the wife of my great uncle Arthur Sylvester Green. Sylvester was my grandfather's brother and seemed to be a high achiever. He taught history at the University of Florida in the 1930s.

He ran for political office at least once. This photo was from a political ad when he ran unsuccessfully for Taylor County Florida School Board Superintendent.

Sylvester died October 22, 1937 while living in Gainesville, Florida. His wife Eleanor was pregnant at the time with their only child.

Arthur Willard Green was born six months after his father died. Eleanor got a job teaching at the University of Florida after her husband died.

I only met Arthur and his mother one time that I can remember. They were living near St. Petersburg and came to my parent's house in Oneco while I was visiting. I really didn't know who they were at the time.

I heard that Arthur died several years after that brief meeting and when my Dad passed away ten years later I decided to try and contact Eleanor. I discovered she
died a few months after my Dad. Over the years I have looked for information about her and Sylvester with little success. I found a record of their thesis and dissertations and came across this photo of her from 1935 when she was teaching at a rural Pasco County Florida school.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Man's Friend

Pneumonia is called the old man's friend. My dad ultimately died from it although he fought it for a year and a half.

Texas recently put old death certificates online and I was able to look at several for relatives and others who I have researched. I found Pneumonia listed as the cause of death for my wife's great great grandparents who died within days of each other.

William Smith Telford died on February 03, 1934 in Abilene, Texas after coming down with pneumonia and his wife Louisiana English Pennington Telford followed him on February 15, 1934. They were both in their nineties so maybe they were ready to go. This photo was taken on their 60th wedding anniversary in 1925.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Howland connection

I met Tom Howland via email 5-6 years ago. He was researching common family in North Carolina and we exchanged notes.

A couple years later I noticed the name Howland on the Census in Cortez, Florida. As I examined the names and details I realized they were Howlands who were related to Tom's family in North Carolina.

I spent a while researching the family and found Walter Raleigh Howland lived in Cortez from the mid 1890s but only stayed about 15-20 years and had moved to Punta Gorda, Florida by 1920. He was a fisherman in Cortez and Punta Gorda was another fishing community further south. He must have felt more connected to Cortez, maybe because of all the other folks there who came from the same area of North Carolina. When Walter died in 1946 his family buried him in the Palma Sola Cemetery near the other early settlers of Cortez.

Walter's son, Benjamin Clifford Howland was born in Cortez but later moved to Boston and was a car dealer there. He also must have also felt at home in Cortez because when he died in 1965 he was buried at the Palma Sola Cemetery. In my research I found two of Clifford's grandchildren. The both live near Boston and although they knew their Grandfather had been born there, they had never been to Cortez or knew of the family connections.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heare lye Sir Thomas

In researching my Fulford family I've looked at the Fulfords in England for relatives. My ancestor, John Fulford came from there to North Carolina in the early 1600s.

I came across Sir Thomas Fulford who died in 1610. He is probably not a relative, but thought I would mention him because of his unique final resting place.

He and his wife were buried inside St. Mary's church in Dunsford, England. I found photos of their elaborate crypt and posted them on

The Inscription on the plaque above them reads:

Heare lye Sir Thomas Fulforde
who died last day of july ano do 1610
Also his wife Ursula, who died 1639
daughter of Richd Bamfield, of Poltimore, Esq.
Their Children
1st Sir Francis, who married Ann heir of Bernard Samways Esqr of Toller Dorset
2nd William,
3rd Thomas,
4th Bridget married to Arthur Champerknowne Esqr of Dartington;
5th Elizabeth married to John Berriman Esq,
6th Ann, married to John Sydenham, of Somerset

Monday, August 2, 2010

Family Union

We spent this past weekend at Joe Wheeler State Park in Northern Alabama along with about 50 relatives on my wife's side of the family.

It was the 15th bi-annual family reunion of the children of Ivy and Lydia Lawrence from middle Tennessee. We attended the first one in 1982 in Orange, Virginia. We had been married less than a year for that one. Since then we've had two daughters who grew up going to the reunions and today are too grown and too far away to attend.

All but one of the eight children born to Lydia Lawrence have passed away since the reunions started but now there are not only a lot of great grandchildren who weren't born in 1982 but also many great great grandchildren.

The reunion has been held in many different locations, the choice of the host, which is fitting considering Ivy Lawrence moved his family more than 20 times around middle Tennessee. He owned a sawmill and would move it to where the work was and the family followed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cold drinks, Candy and Cigars

I found this old photo of the Gulfview Parlor Store in Cortez, Florida. The sign on the building says "Cold drinks, Candy and Cigars"! The property was owned by Joe Guthrie who also owned the Albion Hotel on the water. The photo was taken around 1925-30.

This building was one of the few near the water that survived the 1921 hurricane. It was later divided into three structures. The part to the right is now the home of Linda Molto, Cortez's resident artist. The other parts were used as a bowling alley and another house.

By the time I started visiting Cortez the only store near the water was a small grocery store in front of the present A. P. Bell Fish Company building. I can remember many times walking to it for candy and a few times on a mission from my Grandfather Tink for chewing tobacco or a couple cigars. My Grandfather enjoyed sending me and occasionally a sibling or cousin to the store and would pull out a handful of coins from his pocket and send us off on the candy run. When I came back with the small paper bag and he would always enjoy inspecting the take.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family Names

Naming boys after Presidents or famous people is not unique to my family. I was named after my grandfather who was named after Millard Fillmore. His father was named for Andrew Jackson. Grandpa who was a poet himself of sorts, named one of his sons after William Cullen Bryant. Another Green relative was named for Thomas Jefferson.

In my grandmother Edith Wilson's family everyone had a lot of children so using Presidents or famous people may have been for convenience. I know we had difficulty in naming our children and we only had two.

Edith's father was named after Benjamin Franklin. He named one of his sons Abraham Lincoln. He had a nephew named Grover Cleveland Wilson. That's not a President's name you see very often!

Some of the boys in the Wilson family had family names that were passed down from one generation to another. Jasper, Leroy and Moses were repeated in at least 5 generations over many branches.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bricks without straw

I really don't know if they used straw or not.

I've just started researching the brick making of some of my ancestors. My Fulford family who settled in Carteret County North Carolina and lived on the same land for 300 years had time to make a living in many different ways.

There is a story about the saloon they ran in the 1800s which I will have to explore on another day.

There is also the story that Joseph Fulford found a river of red clay on his property and started making bricks. The clay was located on the Straits, just behind the current Straits Methodist Church.

The Fulfords dug out the clay and made it into bricks. Some of the old bricks have been found in the water out in front of the property where they apparently fell off or were discarded from the boats taking them to places of construction.

One of those places where the bricks ended up was Fort Macon, at the point of the harbor in Beaufort, North Carolina. The old fort, built between 1826-1834 is still standing. It was later scene of the only real Civil War battle in the area around Beaufort and several of the great grandsons of Joseph Fulford were on the losing side.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finding a good Man

One of my daughters is married and she did well, found a good man. The other one is still looking.

I have been looking for a good man for reasons of my own. The Y chromosome DNA testing that is done for genealogy research requires a male of the particular surname to be tested. I was tested for the Green project and my uncle Wayne was tested for the Fulford project. A cousin Steve, was tested for the Lawrence project and another cousin, Larry was tested for the Wilson project..

There are several other family lines that would be nice to have a relative of that name come forward and be tested. The Rowell, Hogan, Blanchard and Lundy families are all well known for the last hundred and fifty years but have hit a brick wall at 1800. It would be good to have a cousin in one of these families agree to be tested. The problem is there aren't a lot of them around.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Preacher's family

I did a summary of all the preachers in our family six years ago for a family reunion. Some of our family are pretty closed to people who don't attend a church with a sign out front that says Church of Christ. They wouldn't want to admit that their heritage included many who were leaders in other churches.

I have been recently researching the Burgess family of North Carolina. My mother's family descends from them but there was really no information known about them in our family. Several of my cousins had done genealogy research but none had discovered the connection to the Burgess family.

The Shiloh Baptist Church in Camden County North Carolina is the oldest Baptist Church in North Carolina. It dates back to 1727.

It first met in the house of our ancestor William Burgess and later after he donated the land where they built a church building. Burgess, his son and grandson all served as Preachers of the church. Another grandson was a minister in the Methodist church.

House churches are popular today in many places as an alternative to a church that meets in a building. Folks today probably thought it was their original idea.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One found

There are several family members who are supposed to be buried in the Palma Sola cemetery in Bradenton, Florida but don't have markers.

Martha Fulford Willis, sister of my great grandfather died in 1888 during childbirth. It was her first child and neither of them made it. She was married to Augustine Willis who remarried after her death and had a large family.
Some family records said she was buried in Palma Sola but I had been though the cemetery several times and never found her grave.

I listed her grave as being there at findagrave and a volunteer went out and after seeing a mound, dug off the dirt and located her marker. It was a concrete cover over red brick with her name etched in the concrete.
It has been broken and not all of it is legible but at least we now know where she is buried.

Martha wife of Augustine Willis Born: Jan 28, 186. Died: Oct 7, 18... REV. ch. 18

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dortch family

I have an old photo from the Oneco, Florida Church of Christ. My parents attended here until it closed in the mid 1990s to make way for a 4 lane highway. The photo was taken about 1910.

My grandmother Edith Wilson and her parents were charter members. Over the years I have researched some of the people in the photo and in several cases found they were relatives.

Ellen Dortch, the woman on the second row, 2nd to the end on the right was one of those. It turned out she was actually the sister of my great grandfather.
Her maiden name was Ellen Alabama Wilson. She was married to William Dortch who I assume is the man next to her. I didn't have any other Dortchs in my records until recently. I came across a Robert Lindsay Dortch , married to Mary Emma Childers. Mary Emma Childers was the daughter of Mary Wilson, sister of Ellen Alabama Wilson.

So Ellen Wilson's brother in law married her niece. Robert and Mary Dortch lived in Oneco, Florida up until 1930 and then moved to Dade County, Florida. I found her on the 1945 census in Miami and a death certificate for Robert about the same time but don't know what happened to their children or Mary after that.
Ellen Alabama Wilson Dortch moved to Tampa, Florida and died there in 1935.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Share of the part

It seems when someone dies there is a good probability that relatives and heirs will fight over the estate more often than not.

It has happened several times in my family and I am sure there will be more in the future.

One interesting dispute over the terms of a will occurred in 1852 almost 30 years after the death of the person who thought he was settling his estate with it.

My ancestor Stephen Fulford served in the Revolutionary War and when he died on February 04, 1834 his will left part of the estate to his wife Louisa during her life and distributed land, slaves and personal property to his son Col. Thomas Fulford (my ancestor) and his two daughters Sabra and Abigail. The will terms seemed to give a half of the remainder of his estate to the son with the daughters sharing the other half. It was not unusual to give more to male children. What is unusual is that his estate and will became a dispute 20 year later when his wife died.

When Louisa died in 1850 the part of the estate she had received was being distributed but by then daughter Sabra had died and the executor of her estate objected to the way the estate had been distributed earlier. Sabra, during her life never objected but her executor read the terms differently than everyone else had.

The dispute was heard by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1852 and the ruling is shown below.


Where the testator bequeathed the residue of his estate to be divided between a son and two daughters, the son to have half a part, and the daughters the remainder: — Held, that the word " part " means share, and the son therefore takes one sixth.

CAUSE removed from the Court of Equity for Carteret county, at Spring Term, 1852.

Stephen Fulford died in the year 1834, having previously made and published his last will and testament, in which he devised as 'follows :

"I will and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Louisa, the house and plantation during her widowhood, and after her death, to my son, Thomas Fulford, and all the back lands included. Also my will and desire is, that my wife, Louisa, is to have Quake and Perry, also Peg and her children, during widowhood and after her death, my will is, that my son, Thomas Fulford, is to have my chest, buffet and desk, and a mahogany table, also half a dozen of flat back chairs ; the remainder of my furniture and all property to be divided betwixt my two daughters and son, Sabra Shackleford, Abigail Simpson, her heirs or assigns ; my son, Thomas Fulford, to have half a part, and my two daughters above mentioned, the remainder."

The will was duly proved by the plaintiff, Thomas Fulford, the executor therein appointed, who qualified as such, and assented to the legacies therein given. Louisa Fulford, the widow, died in the year 1850, as also did Sabra Shackleford, the intestate of the defendant. The bill was filed by Thomas Fulford and Ziba Simpson and his wife Abigail, against the defendant, as the administrator of Sabra Shackleford, alleging that the plaintiff, Thomas, had purchased the interest of the other plaintiffs in a part of the slaves and their increase, given to the said Louisa for life, and praying for a partition of said slaves between himself and the defendant, as the administrator of the said Sabra. In said partition, he claimed to have three fourths of said slaves assigned to him, to wit, one half in his own right, and one fourth by virtue of the assignment from Simpson and his wife; and he alleged that upon a petition in the County Court for partition of a portion of the slaves, given by the same clause of the will of his testator, the slaves were divided between himself and his two sisters in those proportions. The defendant filed his answer, in which he admitted all the material facts stated in the bill, but contended that upon a proper construction of the will of Stephen Fulford, the plaintiff, Thomas, was entitled to only one sixth or two twelfths of the said slaves in his own right, and five twelfths under his purchase from Simpson; and that he was entitled in right of his intestate to the remaining five twelfths; and he insisted that the construction must be made upon the will itself, and not by any thing which had been done by the parties.

The cause was set for hearing, and by consent, transmitted to the Supreme Court.
J. W., with whom was J. H. Bryan, for the plaintiffs,
Donnell, for the defendant.

BATTLE, J., after stating the case as above, proceeded : — The only difficulty between the parties arises from that clause of the will which gives the " remainder of the furniture and all property ' ' to be divided between the two daughters and son, the son "to have half a part," and the two daughters the "remainder."

The counsel for the plaintiffs contends that the obvious meaning is to give the son one half of the property there referred to, leaving the other half to be equally divided between the two sisters. He contends further, that such meaning is made more manifest by the intent of the testator, apparent from other parts of the will, to give the son much the larger portion of the property ; and also by the parties themselves having put that construction upon tho clause, when they divided the other slaves.

The defendant's counsel objects to this construction, and contends that the testator, having in the previous part of his will given his son the greater part of his estate, intended that his daughters should have larger shares in the residue; and to that end declares that his son shall have half a part; that is, half of a third part, or one-sixth part of the said residue, and his two daughters shall take the remainder. He insists, also, that the construction must be made upon the will itself, and cannot be affected by any thing done by the parties. We agree with the defendant's counsel, that the acts of the parties in relation to the other slaves, can have no effect in determining the construction of the will. The intention of the testator must be ascertained by what he has said in his will, and not by what other persons may have done after his death. The aid which each party seeks to derive from the other provisions in the will, seems to be about equal. It is almost, if not quite, as probable that the testator intended to make the portions of his daughters more nearly equal to that of his son, as that he intended to continue his preference for his son, in this disposition of the residue. We are then driven to look to the clause itself for its interpretation, and from that, we think, the son was intended to take only one-sixth part of the residue. The word "part," in its connection, evidently means share. It is often so used in common parlance, and that is one of the meanings given to it in dictionaries of high authority. Now substitute " share " for " part," and the intent seems plain. The property is to be divided between the two daughters and son. If nothing more is said, the part or share of each is evidently one-third of the whole.

The son is to have half a share. A share is a third of the whole: half a share must therefore be half of one-third — that is, one-sixth part of the whole. The testator does not then say that the daughters are to have whole shares, for that would have left a small portion undisposed of; but he 'gives them the remainder — all that his son did not take. He thus, too, obviates the difficulty that might otherwise have arisen upon the supposition that the son was to have half as much as each of the daughters. The decree must be for a partition according to the rule above expressed. The costs must be paid out of the fund.

PER CURIAM. Decree accordingly.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I first heard of Richard Purvis about 15 years ago. I received some old family history research papers from a relative in Alpharetta, Georgia and there were some old letters in the box. They were written by a descendant of Richard Purvis who also lived in Georgia. Both people who wrote the letters had passed away and it took me over 10 years to track down family members.

Richard Francis Purvis was the husband of Rebecca Pamelia Hogan, sister of my great great grandfather James Henderson Hogan. Richard Purvis Enlisted in Company F, 46th Georgia Infantry Regiment on March 4, 1862. They were known as the "Webster County Invincibles."

He spent two years fighting in battles across Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee but Richard's luck finally ran out in February of 1864. He was hospitalized for illness and was too sick to continue in the army so they sent him home to Georgia.

He died of disease on March 25, 1865. I don't know what kind of illness but by that stage of the war there was all kind of bad stuff going around. Few men made it through the war without being exposed to life threatening disease.

Richard's family kept the clothes he wore during his time in the war and they have been passed down for over one hundred and fifty years. One of his descendants sent me this photo of his vest and pouch two years ago. Richard Purvis also kept a diary of his war years and it has been also preserved.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Family Truth

I have just started reading "Sweet Mystery" written by a distant cousin on the Green side about her search for family history. She quoted a child psychologist in the Preface that jumped off the page at me.

As we search for our roots we are also trying to discover what has made us what we are. For many of us it comes down to the impact a relative or friend made in our youth. The expert was giving his opinion of what makes a person have a healthy childhood and said "Somebody has got to be crazy about that kid."

As we record the dates and names in our genealogical pursuit wouldn't it be great to be able to know the positive impact our ancestors had. If not them, maybe us.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Tribute

To my uncles, Bryant and Leroy, cousins Warren and Clarence who gave their lives while serving in the military during WWII.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too big

I've been doing genealogy research for way too long. I've used several different software programs over 17 years and have converted the old data from one software program to another, from one version to another.

I've noticed some problems with my data file recently so I do backups on a regular basis. I decided to look at it to see how large it really is.

I have 60,625 people listed in my data file. The earliest record is William de Fulford who was born about 1100.

There are 36 generations of families. There are 6,666 different surnames. There are 20,050 marriage records.

The average life span of the people in my file was 58 years, 2 months.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shark Tale

My dad's first cousin, Edgar Green was born in Lowndes County Georgia but grew up in Cortez, Florida. His father ran the Manatee River Fish Company in Cortez so Edgar knew all about fishing.

Edgar fished for sharks off the beach of Anna Maria Island. The tourist who flock to that beach today wouldn't want to know there are so many sharks swimming around them so it is rarely mentioned in the local newspapers.

Back then sharks were caught for their oil, much like whales had been. They would setup a big cauldron on the beach and cook the the flesh down to oil, bottle it up and sell it to pharmaceutical companies.

This photo is of the Great White shark Edgar caught on Christmas Eve 1937. He caught it on a fishing line less than 100 yards from the beach. Edgar was by himself that day and so had to fight it alone, finally tiring it out and using his skiff, pulled the shark up to the end of Longboat Beach.
The size of this shark has been debated ever since. Some say it was the largest Great White ever caught in North American waters. Edgar said he laid his fishing oar next to the shark and it was longer than the oar by another 6 feet. That would have made it 22 to 24 feet long. The record Great White caught in North America, most people recognize today, is a 20 foot shark caught off Canada in 1988.

Edgar was a pretty successful fisherman and caught some other large sharks. This picture shows him with a large hammerhead.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mortality Schedules

There are newspaper articles almost weekly about someone objecting to the 2010 census. Some complain of big brother getting too much information. Others worry about identity theft.

The census takers in the mid 1800s obtained a lot more information and considering the literacy level of the people at that time, it is somewhat amazing that they were able to do it.

One interesting part was the Mortality Schedule. No, it wasn't an appointment set by the Death Panel. Those hadn't started yet.

It was a list of the people who died in the year before the regular census was taken. It listed the name, age, race, sex, cause of death, place of birth and physician, Can you imagine someone going door to door today obtaining this information?

Florida as a State doing it's own census for 1885 and 1895, between the Federal census, also did a mortality schedule in 1885. The one for Taylor County Florida has several of my relatives on it.

Holly Ezell Blanchard, my great great great grandmother is listed although her name is shows as Hattie. She died in October 1884. The cause of her death is shown as fall - crippled. She was 87 years old.

Samantha Green Evans, sister of my great grandfather Andrew Jackson Green, also died in October 1884 at the age of 27 from malarial fever.

John Elkin Pridgeon, father in law of my great great aunt Dora Elizabeth Hogan Pridgeon, died on October 25, 1884 at age 64 from Pneumonia. His youngest son, Floyd Pridgeon, died in July from a fever at age 8.

So this one sheet of paper lists five people who are related to my family. Considering that I only know of one of them having a marked grave, this paper is the only way anyone would have ever known what happened to them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One Hundred Thirty

Amazing as it sounds, but today is my Grandpa Green's 130th birthday! I've always remembered his birthday because it is close to mine.

He died on July 8, 1973 at 93 years, 1 month, 22 days old. They use to put the exact age on grave markers but for some reason that went out of style. I've seen some that didn't have the date of birth at all but only the age in years, months and days.

Grandpa was 76 years old when I was born so he was always an old man to me. I've often wished I had an opportunity to sit down and talk to him. Many of the questions I have about my Green ancestors he probably could have answered.

He enjoyed keeping up with politics and seemed to be well read. He also enjoyed poetry. I have several poems he wrote and sent to either my Dad or an uncle while they were away from home during WW II.

I'm still learning about him as I continue my family research. In 1910 he was a census enumerator and I've got copies of several census forms in his handwriting.

I found a Taylor County Florida business license for him dated 1913 saying he had a general store. A few years later, in 1918 when he filled out a WW I draft registration card he listed his employment as a clerk at Faulkner Brothers General Merchants in Perry, Florida. The 1920 census listed his occupation as School Attendance Officer.

A Rowell cousin told me he remembered a story from his father that Grandpa sold Singer sewing machines back in the 1920s and had the distribution rights for all of north Florida. They were the old pedal powered model of the singer sewing machine.

I obtained a copy of his social security application dated April 28, 1939 that showed he was working at City Billiard Parlor in Perry. On the 1930 and later census he was listed as a farmer. That is what I knew of him, although I would not have called it a farm. In his old age, he grew vegetables on several acres of land in back of his small house. He sold them to the local grocery store. He would gather what he could carry, put them in a sack and walk to the store with them. For as long as I knew him he never owned a car.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grandpa's Shotgun

I obtained my Grandpa Green's shotgun recently. He died in 1973 and my father took the gun and kept it until he died in 2001. I am pretty sure my Dad never fired it. He kept it in his closet.

The gun ended up with another relative when my Dad died and he left it out in a leaky garage. When I received it, it was rusted up and pretty much ruined. It was really a shame to see it in such bad condition. I am not a gun person and have never been interested in guns or hunting. Mary definitely feels the same and is not happy at having a gun in the house.

I had it in the closet, with a gun lock attached, until a recent vacation when I decided to see about getting it repaired. I talked to Steve Lawrence, Mary's cousin and gun collector who gave some good advise about how to clean and repair the damage.

After getting the gun so that it looked respectable I decided to see what it was. The markings on the gun said it was made by Harrington and Richardson. It was a 12 gauge, break open shotgun. I wasn't sure how old the gun was. The patent on the manufacturer's imprint was dated February 27, 1900.

I contacted a gun parts dealer and they told me it was made between 1900 and 1916. With those dates I wondered where my Grandpa would have gotten it. He was only 20 years old in 1900. It is possible he bought it then but as I looked at the gun I noticed someone had carved an "H" on the underside of the stock.

So now there was a mystery. There wasn't anyone in the immediate family with the initial H. My Grandpa had a brother named John Henderson Green who died in 1918. I don't know if he went by the name Henderson. Of course my Grandpa Green's grandfather was James Henderson Hogan. So maybe the gun belonged to his grandfather. James Henderson Hogan was a civil war veteran, Sergeant in the famed Florida 2nd Battalion and he died in 1918. I have no way to prove it one way or the other but maybe this shotgun belonged to him. So instead of being my Grandpa's gun it could have belonged to my Great Great Grandfather!

Monday, May 3, 2010

New feature on the blog

At the suggestion of Geneabloggers who listed Southern Greens this week on their web page, I've added a "followers" link.

Look for it on the left and click on it & you will be notified of future posts and updates to the blog. Feel free to share it with your friends.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Sometimes you need some extra motivation to do something.

I recently met, at least online, two distant relatives who were interested in researching my Wilson family. They were both related via siblings of my great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wilson.

Kathy Wilson Rigsby is a cousin descending from Moses Wilson Jr., Ben Wilson's brother. Lucy Williams is related to Cincinnati Cohen Wilson the wife of George Newton Wilson, another of Ben's brothers. The three brothers were part of the 25 or so children of Moses Wilson, Sr.

Kathy and Lucy both had some information on the Wilson family I didn't have and I had some they didn't have. For several months we shared emails and research and in the process located most of the other Wilson siblings and many of their descendants. We also located the burial locations for many of them and between the three of us obtained photos of the markers.

I probably could have done this on my own, but it was a lot easier and certainly more enjoyable to do it together.