Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quick trip to Tally

I've made a lot of quick trips to Tallahassee, some faster than others. When we moved to Jacksonville I kept my FSU football season tickets and I don't think I missed any games over those seven years. When we moved to Memphis I kept the tickets for about five years but didn't go nearly as often, since it was over 500 miles.

The fastest trip I made over those years was one from Jacksonville when my buddy Paul and I decided to rent a private plane.

Taking a plane 170 miles was not the most economical transport but it sounded like a good idea at the time. The pilot was a friend who needed to get some extra flight hours. It was a fast trip over but we got stuck in Tallahassee overnight on the return. There was heavy fog and the pilot wasn't legal to fly if she couldn't see the ground. So the return we could have done in about 3 hours by car took 15.

There is a family story about my great great grandfather making a quick trip to Tallahassee in 1890.

William Augustus Lundy was trying to claim a homestead on 80 acres of land in Manatee County Florida. He had already cleared part of the land when he got word someone else was making a homestead claim on half the property. The other man had mailed a land claim to the State office in Tallahassee. William Lundy had served in the US Cavalry during the Civil War so he took off by horseback to beat the mail. He was successful and filed his patent on August 5, 1890.

The trip is about 290 miles using the most direct route today. If he used only one horse he would have had to limit it to about 25 miles a day according to someone who is supposed to be an expert, so it probably took him a week to get there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

You don't have to call me Darlin'

One of the first people I met when I started doing genealogy research was from the family of Darling Rowell.

At the time, we didn't know if this family was connected to mine or not. That was over 20 years ago and I'm still not sure how we would be connected. I am pretty sure we are but just can't prove it. He could be a brother or son of my great great grandfather William Rowell.

Darling Rowell was born in South Carolina, maybe the Barnwell District on October 11, 1827 and died of disease on April 2, 1864 that he contracted while serving in Company D of the Florida 2nd Battalion Infantry Regiment. The story is that he became sick in February of 1863 and was sent home where he died a year later.

He was married to Mary Ann Morgan in 1849 in the Barnwell District of South Carolina, at "her father's home" according the the Florida Civil War pension application she filed after his death. They are buried next to each other in the Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church cemetery at Shady Grove in Madison County Florida. I came across the grave markers when I was there about 10 years ago looking for my Rowell family graves.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Whitehurst Landing

One of my distant grandfathers was William Richard Whitehurst who after arriving in America in the middle of the 17th Century, settled in Princess Anne County Virginia. He built what was described as a plantation home called "Three Runs" on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River.

One of the books I found about him, written over 100 years ago, said he encouraged his family to remain on the family soil and there was still a "Whitehurst Landing" on part of the original land.

The book said it was in Norfolk County, Virginia. I decided to try and find it and see if any of the local residents still have the Whitehurst name. Apparently Virginia county lines have changed quite a bit and some were taken over by Cities. Much of the original Norfolk County has become the cities of Norfolk or Chesapeake.

The Elizabeth River is only about six miles long but has become a center of commerce. The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where many of the US Navy's ships were either built or repaired over the last 210 years is located there. At the head of the river, according to Google maps is "Whitehurst Landing." So there you have it, 400 years and the family name is still there.

I also found the City of Norfolk, Virginia has a reservoir that supplies drinking water to the city called "Lake Whitehurst."

I Googled Whitehurst and Norfolk and found many people with the name. Charles B. Whitehurst is currently the Vice Mayor of Portsmouth, Virginia. Is he a relative? I don't know, he doesn't have my red hair, but anything is possible...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

The 1940 Census was released to the public last week. Privacy laws require Census records be kept under wraps for 70 years. This is the second census release I've experienced since I started doing family history research on a regular basis.

For now the only thing available is the images, no index or search feature. If you know where someone lived at the time you can find them, but it may take looking at a lot of images. A fast Internet connection is a necessity.

I found my wife's father and his parents in Smith County Tennessee which was amazing since I had no idea where they lived in the County. They were on the first couple pages I looked at. I'm not sure where my father was during the census since he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps. I've looked in several areas of the Panama Canal Zone, where I think he was stationed but haven't found him yet.

My mother and her parents, Walton "Tink" and Edith Fulford were easy to find since they lived in Cortez, Florida which then and now was a small town. It shows they owned their home as did most of their neighbors. My grandmother gave the information and said she had finished the 7th grade and her husband the 4th. My mother was in her first year of high school. I recognize almost all of the names on the census page since most are relatives. I'm sure there are surprises to be found on the census pages. If you want to find your family, the 1940 Census is available for free on

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New and Improved

I'm impressed with the new version of Family Tree Maker software. I've used it for many years but never upgraded from the 2006 version until last year. This year when they released the 2012 version I didn't plan to buy it until I saw it allowed you to sync your database with an online copy automatically.

I've been careful to backup my personal data for years, after seeing too many problems at work because the IT guy didn't do it. With my old version of FTM I had to copy the data file to another computer in the house or a portable hard drive. Several times that backup copy saved me when the original file was corrupted. The idea of having to re-enter 50,000 names and personal information that I've accumulated in my data file over 25 years would end my genealogy hobby!

I bought a new laptop this year, with bigger faster insides, and decided to try out online backups with it for the FTM file.

The new FTM allows you to upload the data file to and then if you login to your ancestry account you have the complete file to work with via the web browser. This means I don't have to use my laptop to update something. Then when I do open FTM on my laptop it automatically syncs with the online file.

The only problem I found is that it doesn't sync all the photos I had in my data file. They are still there and attached to people, but they don't show up online. I guess they are using a new format to attach photos and I would have to re-attach them to my data file to sync online. Small sacrifice for the convenience of being able to work on research from either my laptop or any other computer, using a web browser. The sync process only takes about 15 seconds so this is much faster than trying to backup a 150mb data file. Since it is the complete file, it serves as a cloud backup. I don't trust ancestry completely, still using the backup drive here on the home network.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Man of the Century

Today would have been my father's 100th birthday.

It is pretty amazing to think one of your parents could be that old. Like most of you, I still think of myself as a twenty or thirty something. Who looks in the mirror and sees an old guy?

Daddy got a head start on being the old man in the family since he didn't get married until he was almost 40. But still, many of the things he did, which an old person normally does, were at or close to my age.

He retired the first time at age 48. I've already passed that birthday. He was proud of the fact that he collected retirement pay from the Air Force for 40 years! He retired from his 2nd career at age 62 and my sister reached that mile marker last month.

He died eleven years ago after being sick for a year and a half. He lived longer than all four of his brothers but not his father who made it to age 93.

A lot of people don't like others recognizing their birthday, but not him. He always had a good time when we had a party for him. His first grandchild was born on the same date so he sometimes had to share the day, but not the cake or candles. This one had 80 on it and he didn't need any help blowing them out.
We had to take it outside so it wouldn't set off the smoke detector.