Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finding Grandma

I found one of my long lost grandmothers. Actually she is step great great grandmother.

Sarah Winiford Strickland Green was the 2nd wife of my ancestor John Green. He died young, sometime about 1865 but she remained in the Taylor County Florida area up until at least 1900. She was on the census that year but until recently I never knew what happened to her after 1900.

I have her photo as it was in my great grandparents bible. I knew her grandson John Evans had moved to Suwanee County Florida and I found him on the 1910 census. One of his great grandsons contacted me recently and gave me some more information about the family in Suwanee County. I started looking at public records and found a death listing for a Mrs. Green in 1918. No first name is shown.

I decided to request the death certificate from the State of Florida so see if it had any other information that could tell me if it was Sarah. It took the State a couple tries to send me the correct record but finally I received a death certificate showing this Mrs. Green died on October 10, 1918. It also listed her date of birth as being January 2, 1838 in Alabama. That didn't match Sarah Green as she had listed her birth month as November 1838 on the 1900 census. I noticed the death certificate listed her age as 80 years, 1 month, 1 day. If they were off by one year, and she was 79 instead of 80, subtracting it from her death date her day of birth would be November 15, 1838. So I am satisfied this is Sarah. Either way the birth date on the certificate does not match the age.

She was buried in Siloam Methodist Church Cemetery in Columbia County near the Suwanee County border. The cousin went out to the cemetery but couldn't find a marker. At least we know what happened to her. Her husband, John Green is still a mystery but maybe one day he will turn up also.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All's well that ends well

I have to change my MO about using real names for this story. Not sure they would appreciate it, even though for now it looks like it has ended well.

I "met" via email a 2nd cousin a while ago who lives in Florida. She is the granddaughter of my grandmother Fulford's first cousin. After exchanging emails about the family history and other things for two years, she asked if I could help her find her mother.

It turns out she was adopted as a baby by our cousin and didn't know it until she was grown. Her birth mother was an 18 year old , unmarried girl who was working at a hotel in St. Petersburg when she got pregnant. She did the right thing at the time and put the baby up for adoption.

Fast forward 50 years and the daughter wants to find out about her birth family. She had actually paid $2,000 to the adoption agency to get very limited records that had a name and nothing else. She was able to locate a subsequent husband of her mother in St. Petersburg but they had divorced after a couple years and he had no idea what happened to her. She was a free spirit who was only known to be somewhere else.

So with just a name and approximate date of birth I started looking for her, using the same tools I use to do genealogy research. Online marriage & divorce records, death notices, city directories, newspaper articles, family trees posted at etc. I soon found out who the grandparents were but they had both died within the last few years.

I couldn't locate an obituary for either of them but after a while found a online family tree that had them listed. It didn't show any children but I knew the missing mom was a twin with at least one sister because it said this in the family notes. I contacted the person who posted the family tree on ancestry and had no response for almost two months. Then after several short, one line emails with no information that spread out over several more months I received two emails in one day.

The writer, who never gave me more than a first name said she had been in touch with the missing mom and they wanted to contact my cousin. I sent the email on to her, and she followed up and quickly talked by phone to her first cousin, aunt and was told how to contact her birth mother.

So wow, this search for dead relatives can take you to some interesting places.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

William Gannon Fulford

When you do family history research sometimes you find more questions than answers.

I was looking at family records in Craven County North Carolina recently and found the death certificate for William Gannon Fulford. If you just record the day of birth and death you would have put these in your records and gone on. I like to look at the original documents because I have often found facts that connected with some other person I was researching.

In this case, I noticed an unusual cause of death. It is listed as being the result of a stab wound in the abdomen and a homicide.

William Gannon Fulford was the son of Denard Roberts Fulford and Sarah Elizabeth Edwards. Denard was born in the North Carolina and probably a relative. William was just shy of his 30th birthday when he died in 1914.

He had never married and I don't really know much about him except for his unusual demise. He was buried in Cedar Grove cemetery in New Bern, North Carolina. I have just started to look for his story but haven't found anything yet. It may take a while but I am sure the record is out there somewhere.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Power of Mistletoe

I wrote a while back about the Steamboat Mistletoe and family connections to the ship's captain.

This past summer while visiting family in Cortez, Florida we spent some time at the Florida Maritime Museum and since I had my dog on one of the days I was relegated to walking the grounds. As I did I came across a new exhibit they have installed.

The propeller from the Mistletoe!

In 1917 the ship's job of carrying passengers and freight was past. It was sold for scrap to Ed Pillsbury of the Snead's Island Boatworks.

He planned to convert in into a seagoing barge. Pillsbury wasn't able to make the conversion work so apparently out of frustration, he hauled the ship out of the water and burned it.

The only thing salvaged from the ship was the propeller. It has now found it's way to Cortez along with the remains of the Snead's Island Boatworks.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Three Sisters

This is not about three mountain peaks, food groups, islands or a trendy restaurant. Three Sisters seems to be a popular name or destination. I only had two so don't know what it was like. I guess if there are three in a family they might be closer together than if only two.

This is just a short story about three sisters who I found buried together in a very rural cemetery. This past summer my wife and I took a long detour to find a cemetery where my great grandmother was buried. On the way to Sandhill Cemetery in Taylor County Florida we drove past Sealey Cemetery.

I had received directions from a cousin to Sandhill Cemetery but they mistakenly told me how to get to Sealey Cemetery. Thankfully I had my GPS and the coordinates so was able to make my way to the correct place. It was another 4-5 miles down dirt roads surrounded by land that had all the trees removed by local lumber companies.

Sealey Cemetery is 7 1/2 miles from the nearest paved road, on Jody Morgan Road south of Hwy 19 in Taylor County. It would be a long walk if you had car trouble on the way. Since my directions took me to this place I decided to look into who was buried in this small plot. I found four Civil War veteran's graves and several people I'm related to via the Ezell and Strickland family.

I also found the three sisters. In fact their graves are some of the newest ones in the place. Three sisters who were born within a mile or two of this location who ended up buried there sixty years later. I found the three sisters listed on this 1945 Florida State census.

I don't know if their parents are there. There was no marker for them in the list I found online. The parents were divorced in 1950 so maybe they moved away.

The three daughters of Tom J. Lee and Sallie Russell Lee all married, at least once but their husbands were not on the list of burials either. Just the three sisters.

Martha Lee Denmark was born May 21, 1932 and died July 15, 1969. She married Henry Denmark.

Annie Mae Lee Cruce was born April 17, 1930 and died May 10, 1990. She married Penny Parker and later Willie Joe Cruce.

Sallie Lee Ayers was born May 30, 1938 and died November 9, 1988. She married a Grantham and later James Ray Ayers.