Monday, July 30, 2012

Rare Privilege

This past week I had the opportunity to install a marker on the grave of my great, great, great, great grandfather.

Stephen Fulford died in 1834 and there was no marker for him in the Fulford Cemetery located on Fulford's Creek, across from Harkers Island in Carteret County, NC. His father and son were buried there and I am sure he was too since his plantation house was about 100 yards away.

The cemetery has about 15 marked graves going back to the late 1700s. I know it has been used as a family cemetery since the early 1700s.

There are many unmarked graves and the rising waters from Atlantic have eroded away graves over the years. His original marker may be out in the bay somewhere.

I've been to Fulford Cemetery several times and decided in 2009 to get a marker for him. Since I didn't have anyone in the local area who I could ask to help, it meant I would need to drive over to North Carolina with the 100+lb granite marker it in the trunk of the car.

It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I made a handle out of a piece of rope so I could carry the stone and move it around in the trunk of the car. A cousin in Georgia, who owns a funeral home, told me they have a monument truck with a hydraulic boom to move markers. I don't plan to do this very often so I'm not in the market for one of them yet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two for one

Warion Bunch Horne was married to my great aunt, Sarah Evelyn Green. He was born in 1897 in Colquitt County Georgia and died in 1975 while living in Salem outside of Taylor County Florida.

He and Evelyn were married in Manatee County Florida and Warion, who everyone called "Shorty" was a commercial fisherman in Cortez.

I remember meeting him in Cortez when I was young and later he lived in a house on US Hwy 19 south of Perry. My mother says we would find him sitting on the front porch of the house when we drove thru the area.

I found his grave marker by accident about 10 years ago when I was looking for my great grandfather's grave in New Hope Cemetery south of Perry. I had no idea he had been buried there. Most of the graves there are much older.

A unique fact on his grave marker, you won't find often, is that he served in the US Navy in both WWI and WWII.
Airman Corey Herbert

He was single, living in Georgia when he enlisted to serve in WWI. He was married with two sons in Cortez, Florida when he enlisted to serve again in WWII.

Both his sons, Billy and Hubert served in the military. Billy served in the Navy during WWII and Hubert was a career Army man.

I've wanted to do a story about Shorty but since I didn't have a picture of him I was waiting until I found one. I still don't have his picture but his granddaughter sent this one of his great grandson Corey who just finished basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. I figured it was time to write about Shorty and I suspect he would be proud to have Corey stand in for him.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

John Day's Ditch

I recently read the book "Cedar Island Fisher Folk," a recommendation from a distant cousin who follows this blog and came across an unusual story.

John Jarvis Day who lived in the part of Carteret County that used to be called the Hunting Quarters is a distant relative by marriage. He was born in 1870 and died in 1940. He owned a Sailing Schooner, the G.J. Cherry and sailed her as far as France on commercial ventures.

He made his money as a Sea Captain but his legacy was supposed to be on shore. It is fitting I guess for a Mariner to battle the sea even 70 years after his death.

John Day bought land on Cedar Island, located in the Northeast corner of Carteret County, North Carolina with the intent of farming and raising cattle. They say at one time he had almost 1,000 head of cattle on the Island. To keep them from disappearing and wandering into the gardens of his neighbors, he decided he needed a fence. The only problem is that wire fencing would require constant maintenance in this isolated area that was also exposed to the sea.
J.J. Day 1919 Passport Photo

He decided to use his Norman ancestor's skill and build a moat to keep in the cattle. He hired out the work to a man and his three sons who started in 1927 to dig a ditch along Day's property line from Rumley Bay to West Bay. The ditch was supposed to be 6 feet wide and  2-3 feet deep. It went through not just vacant land but virgin forests. The total distance of his project was almost 2 1/2 miles.

He figured the cattle wouldn't try to cross it and would stay on his property. His theory was ok but he didn't figure on the Sea getting it's revenge.

Over the years, since both sides of the ditch are open to the waters of the Atlantic, it has flooded the ditch so that now it is 40 feet wide in places. If the cattle were still there it would be good barrier for them so Day's idea was sound. I guess he didn't have any other plans for the vacant land so a 40 foot wide moat would have worked.

You can see the ditch clearly when you drive on the main highway, but most people would have no idea of the history. It looks like an abandoned canal. It is straight as an arrow in both directions. It is also visible using Google Earth,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

210 Amarillo Street

While researching my wife's Longacre family I found several newspaper articles from Abilene, Texas that mentioned their home address, 210 Amarillo Street.

The 1942 obituary for her great grandmother, Kate Augustus Telford Longacre said she and her husband had moved there from their farm in Potosi, Texas. The house was originally owned by her parents, William and Louisiana Telford and she inherited it when they died in 1934.

The Telfords moved to Abilene in 1925 and I suppose were the first owners of the house. Both William and Lou were in their 90s when they died at home according to their obituaries, 12 days apart.

Kate and her husband Benjamin Franklin Longacre moved to Abilene when they were in their 60s after deciding living on a farm by themselves was no longer viable. Kate died in 1942 but by then her daughter, Anna Lorraine Longacre Glenn had moved into the house with her two children. Benjamin Longacre had company in the house for the next nine years. He died in 1951 and Lorraine then became the third generation to own the house.

Both her children were married and on their own by then and she lived in the house for only five years by herself. Development came and she was forced to sell. Sears Roebuck decided to build a large store on top of the neighborhood in 1956.

I've used google maps to find houses or locations before so decided to check on 210 Amarillo Street to see what is there today. The Sears store of the 50s which was a stand alone closed down and was converted to a Family Dollar. Google says 210 Amarillo is at the back of the building.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Smith and Jones

It is very difficult to do historical research on my families that have common names. I want to know that what I am finding and recording is actually about my ancestors and with a name like Smith or Jones you can never be too sure.
Even with a name like Shadrach Smith, what you find searching census and county court records doesn't give absolute proof the record is about your ancestor.
Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego
My great great great grandfather was Shadrach Smith, who was born about 1778 in North Carolina and died after 1870 probably in Mitchell County Georgia. His son, Seth Dykes Smith moved to Taylor County Florida and helped start several Primitive Baptist Churches in the area.

You wouldn't think that finding a record about Shadrach Smith would be too difficult, but then who would know it was such a popular name in the late 1700s. I guess it fit better than Meshach or Abednego.

I know from the 1850-1860 census records in Thomas and Mitchell County Georgia, my Shadrach's s wife was named Lorena but the rest of what I have on him before they moved to Georgia is just speculation.

There are records of a Lorena Brooker marrying a Smith and then a lot of records about the Brooker family of Barnwell County South Carolina. They tell of Brooker children born out of wedlock, to a man named William Dykes (matching Seth's middle name) who inherited his lands when he died in 1802. The problem, is I can't be sure this is the same family. It would be nice to include it but unfortunately I've found so many men named Shadrach Smith in the same area, I can't be sure which one is mine.

I've kept all these records for two years now. Maybe one day soon I can sort them out and figure out which one is mine. For now though, they give me a headache every time I look at them.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Buried at Sea

I wrote a story about my grandmother's cousin Clarence Hudson Lundy several years ago. He died as a result of a Liberty ship collision and fire during WWII. He was the Captain of the J. Pinckney Henderson.
Svein Erik Deichmann-Johannessen

Since then I've been contacted by several family members of men who died in that incident. All of them were in the USA until a couple months ago when I got an email from Norway.

A guy contacted me because he was trying to locate information about his uncle who was part of the crew of the J.H. Senior. It was a Panamanian flagged tanker, under contract to the US to supply airplane fuel to the European theatre. He wanted to know where his uncle was buried.

The Navy incident report is not real clear, at first they thought the ships had been torpedoed by a German U Boat. It looks like three ships hit each other in the fog, with the last collision being the Henderson hitting the Senior broadside after it turned left in front. After that collision the airplane fuel tanks blew up and both ships burned. There were only a few members of either crew who survived.

I had written about the burial of the Henderson crew in Nova Scotia and how they were later moved back to the US. The email asked if I knew what happened to the crew of the Senior.

I started looking into this, reviewing old emails, photos and letters I had received as part of my original research. I found the uncle, Svein-Erik Deichmann-Johannessen listed as the Junior Engineer of the Senior. He was 23 years old. I even found a photo of him on a family history web page.

Both ships were part of a Convoy HX 252 that left New York on August 14, 1943, heading to Liverpool with 52 ships. The crew of the Henderson were mostly US Citizens but except for the US Navy Armed Guards, none of the crew of the Senior were Americans. Most were from Norway. Both ships had US Navy Armed Guards aboard.

The memorial to the dead at the National Cemetery in Missouri, on the link above, has only two members of the Senior listed. Both were Navy Armed Guards. After contacting several people who know more about WWII military history, I checked the online records of the VA Cemeteries and the overseas listing of US War dead. None of the Senior crew were listed in the VA Cemeteries, except for the two in Missouri. Both crews were listed as US Merchant Marines. I'm not sure about how this worked, maybe since they were aboard a ship under contract to the US the Norwegian crew had to join the USMM.
Remains of the J H Senior after the fire buned out

The Senior crew members were listed among the USMM killed during WWII but none of the records showed where they were buried. I then checked the listings of US Servicemen buried overseas and was surprised to find all the US Navy Armed Guards assigned to the Senior were listed. But not with a place of burial, they are shown as MIA or Buried at Sea. Their names are listed on the WWII East Coast Memorial in Battery Park, New York City, NY.

Now it started to make sense. I had obtained some photos of the ships from the Maritime Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The deck of the Senior was just a bunch of twisted metal after the fire. The ship burned for several days. The fire finally burned itself out after all the airplane fuel was gone.

At the conclusion of the fire there would not have been many remains found. So the two US Navy Sailors who are listed on the memorial must have been the only bodies found or identified. The remains of the others, including Svein Johannessen were undoubtedly buried at sea.