Sunday, July 28, 2013

Family Reunion

We had a Green Family reunion last week in Cortez, Florida. This is the 4th time we have been together since my Dad died. We decided in 2004 to try to have one for the immediate family every couple years and have done pretty good with that plan.

This year we were very glad to have several Green family relatives who connect via my grandfather Millard Fillmore Green's siblings.

This photo was taken on the porch of my great grandparent's house that was built in 1907.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Treat Him Kindly

This contact from 1864 was in the Fulford family papers in the North Carolina Archives.

David W. Fulford was my great great grandfather. He didn't serve in the Civil War because he was too old when it started. By the time the Confederate Army drafted the old men, his part of North Carolina was in control of the Union Army.

The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in Southern States, where it could be enforced.

In 1864 David Fulford entered into this contract with George Gaylor, a freed slave and his two daughters to work on his farm located on the Straits in Carteret County. Since the area was under Union Army control he had to have the contract approved by military authorities.

Contract for Labor

The undersigned Freed Laborer hereby agrees for and in consideration of receiving per month 30 lbs. of pork, 5 bushels of corn or meal, ½ gal of Molasses and Quarters. To work himself and his daughters, Jane and Emily Jones until December 1, 1864 for David W. Fulford on his farm situated on the eastern part of the Straits Carteret County, NC And the undersigned David W. Fulford agrees to furnish the above rations and quarters and to treat him kindly.

David W. Fulford
George Gaylor – his mark

Richard Dillon
Capt. VRC (Veterans Reserve Corps) Asst Supt

David Fulford wasn't listed as a slave owner on the 1860 census. His mother Susan who lived next door had an 18 year old female, probably working in the house.

I tried to locate George Gaylor and his daughters on subsequent records to see what happened to them, but came up empty. There is an Anthony Gaylord on the 1870 census in the City of Beaufort, NC shown as born in 1829 and working as a Seaman. There aren't any daughters named Jane or Emily. I couldn't find any record of Jane or Emily Jones either. I suspect that after the war they all moved out of the area.

Captain Richard Dillon who signed off on the contract was born in Ireland in 1832 and died April 11, 1881 in Washington, DC. He is buried at the Old Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia.

The following bio was listed on findagrave for Dillon: A Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. Served in the Civil War as a Captain in the 115th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He lost an arm at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 3, 1863), After which he transferred to the Veterans Reserve Corps, serving in the 14th VRC and the 12th VRC. He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on March 13, 1865 for "gallant and meritorious services during the war". His brevet was not commissioned after its appointment, but it was confirmed by the Senate on March 3, 1869 in the last batch of Civil War brevet promotions issued.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Family Intervention

You don't often find one of your family members involved in national politics, especially trying to choose a President.

July 7, 1948 Stars and Stripes

This newspaper article from the July 7, 1948 issue of Stars and Stripes quotes General Dwight David Eisenhower when he declined to seek the 1948 Democratic Presidential nomination. It came in response to a letter written to him by Hugh Monroe Sutton of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Hugh was born in Perry, Florida on October 30, 1907 and died in Fort Lauderdale in June 1967.  His parents were Hugh Monroe Sutton, Sr. and Cora Hassel. His great grandmother, Mary Ezell Sutton was the sister of my ggg grandmother, Holly Ezell Blanchard.

The same issue of Stars and Stripes quoted Florida Senator Claude Pepper (also from Perry) who said the Democratic party should nominate Eisenhower anyway. Pepper said he was sure the General would accept the nomination if he didn't have to run for it and that he would easily be elected to the Presidency. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Melvin's War

Melvin Hunter Brown is a distant relative by marriage who I never met. He was the 2nd husband of Doris Harris who had married a first cousin of my grandmother Edith Wilson, Elam Ralph Henderson.

I only write about Melvin because of the unusual inscription on his grave marker.

He has a military marker and is shows he was a Private in the US Army during the Mexican War. Not something you would think twice about except that he was born in 1893 and the Mexican War was fought in 1846-1848. Many of the generals in the Civil War got their first combat experience in Mexico.

Melvin Brown was born in Oxford, Mississippi and married Doris Harris Henderson in 1939.

Melvin's WWI draft registration card which he filled out in 1918 while living in Plant City, Florida says he had already served three months in the US Army.

I found his obituary from 1979 and it said he was a veteran of the Mexican Border War.

Not having much interest in Texas when I took US History in 7th grade I don't know if this war was mentioned or not. Apparently we sent troops to the Texas and New Mexico border in 1910 during the last (I think) Mexican Revolution and they fought a couple times with both the Mexican Army and Revolutionaries over the next few years.

I suppose in twenty years we will see military grave markers with an inscription showing service in the Grenada War and people will wonder what about that too.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Grandpa's Carry Permit

This gun carry permit was given to my great great grandfather David W. Fulford in 1867 in Carteret County, North Carolina.

It was just two years after the end of the Civil War, they were still occupied by the Union Army and Reconstruction was starting up. I guess the troops didn't like to see armed civilians running around so anyone who wanted a gun had to get approval. This document was found in the North Carolina Archives.

Beaufort, NC
December 26, 1867

Permission is hereby granted to D. W. Fulford to carry a gun for the purpose of hunting game on the Shores and Shoals of Core Sound, Carteret County from December 26, 1867 to April 30th 1868.

We've visited several times and are members of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harker's Island, NC. It's a great community achievement that is preserving and highlighting not just the hunting history of the area but the local culture. I have a couple duck decoys made by Core Sounders. I don't know if David Fulford made his own decoys but I suspect he did.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Loss of Sunshine

Robert (Bob) and George Weston Rettie grew up in Chicago with a father working as an Engineer on the railroad. Both were in the Coast Guard during WWII. That experience on the water must have motivated them to try their hand at commercial fishing.

St Petersburg Times Sept 23 1946
They bought a 66 foot sailing yacht in Illinois after the war ended. They sailed it down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and then on to Cortez, Florida. There they converted the Yawl into a deep sea fishing boat. They installed an auxiliary motor and insulated holds to store ice and the fish they planned to catch.

The maiden trip of the Sunshine didn't go so well. It exploded and sunk 38 miles off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday September 20, 1946. Bob Rettie, the only survivor from the four man crew, said the boat struck a mine, left over from those the Navy had placed in the Gulf to prevent German U-Boats from coming in Tampa Bay.

St Petersburg Times Sept 24 1946

Killed in the explosion and sinking were John Van Leer of Bradenton Beach and Warren “Buddy” Lincoln Wilson of Cortez. Buddy was my grandmother's brother. Missing and presumed drowned was Frank Lilliquist of Cortez.

They were fishing for Grouper and had already caught a boat load. The left Cortez on Wednesday and the explosion happened Friday night.

According to Rettie, the explosion caused a huge fire and the blast threw 300 pound blocks of ice through the bulkhead. The Sunshine sank almost immediately but then the Pilot house, torn loose from the hull bobbed to the surface. Rettie and Wilson were able to swim to it and crawl on top. Van Leer had lost both hands to the fire so Rettie had to swim several hundred feet to get to him and bring him back to the makeshift lifeboat. Both Wilson and Van Leer were severely burned and Rettie tied them to the raft to keep them from falling off.

St Petersburg Times Sept 27 1946
Van Leer died Saturday afternoon and Wilson died later Saturday night. The men were found Sunday around 11 am by another fishing boat.

Some debris floated up on Anna Maria Island about a week later but the boat itself was never seen again. Rettie told authorities the explosion was caused by a mine and was on the stern of the boat, away from the engine and gas tank.

Just a couple days later his brother George was quoted in the paper asking people to report any debris they found. He was hoping to find the Pilot house and prove the explosion was from a Navy mine. If they could do that, then the Government would compensate for the loss of life and the boat. Since the Sunshine was never found that never happened.

Warren Lincoln Wilson was born on July 4, 1915 in Oneco, Florida to Ben and Ida Wilson. He married Dorothy Michael in 1936 and they had three children living when he died in 1946. He served as a Private in the Army during WWII. He was buried next to his brother Leroy in the Manasoto Cemetery in Bradenton.

The Rettie brothers left Cortez after the loss of the Sunshine. Bob moved to Tampa and his brother George moved to Miami.