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.