Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mac Henderson

I visited the Parrish Cemetery in Manatee County Florida recently and saw markers on the grave of William Malcom Henderson and another one nearby for "Florence and baby Wm. Jr." I decided to do some research to find out who they were. I figured they were relatives because they were near the Lundy family graves.

Mac Henderson (1897-1919) was my grandmother's first cousin. His mother Mary Emma Lundy Henderson was the sister of my great grandmother Ida Lundy Wilson. He has a short but sad story.

Mac married Florence Verna Emlaw on May 16, 1917 in Winter Park, Florida. His step-brother Charles Robert Lundy had married Florence's sister Gladys Emlaw three years earlier.

Fifteen months after their wedding Florence and the baby William Jr. both died during childbirth in Brooksville, Florida. The wife and baby were brought to the cemetery in Parrish, Florida to be buried.

Three months after his wife and son died, on November 1, 1918, Mac committed suicide, shooting himself with a pistol. In this age of gun control frenzy, I'll just repeat what a family member told me about this story. He said that 43 years later Mac's brother Ralph was shot and killed with the same pistol. I haven't been able to confirm this yet.

Mac's grave marker, done many years later has the wrong date. Someone put the day he and Florence were married as the date of his death.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm Still Part Redman Deep Inside

John Richard Dunham was the first cousin (3x removed) of my wife. He was born in 1871 in Lamar County Texas and died in 1955 in Springtown, Oklahoma. His connection was his mother, Annie Pittman Dunham (1833-1917) who was the sister of my wife's great grandmother Nancy Pittman Lawrence. The family has passed down a story of an Indian connection on the Pittman side of the family.
John Dunham's Affidavit
This was one of the interesting tales my wife's aunt Frances Wright Lawrence shared. Frances enjoyed researching family history and one weekend she and my wife drove all over middle Tennessee looking at old cemeteries. Frances told the story that someone had told her, that Nancy Pittman's mother was a Cherokee Indian. Several years ago another Lawrence family researcher shared with me copies of the 1907 Guion Miller application that stated how exactly the family was traced back to the Cherokee tribe in Tennessee.
At the time the paperwork available was barely legible. I recently obtained copies of the entire file which includes several affidavits with more details.

Rejection notice
 John Dunham filed the paperwork trying to obtain some of the benefits the government was giving to Native Americans. The Guion Miller application included an affidavit from his mother Annie.

Annie claimed she was enrolled as a Cherokee in 1866 at Tahlequah, Oklahoma which was the Capital of the Cherokee Nation.  
According to the Cherokee Nation tribe web page: "The Guion Miller Roll is a list of Eastern Cherokees who applied for money awarded in 1905 because of a 1902 lawsuit in which the Eastern Cherokee tribe sued the United States for funds due them under the treaties of 1835, 1836 and 1845. Claimants were asked to prove they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe at the time of the treaties, or descended from members who had not been affiliated with any other tribe. Guion Miller, an agent of the Interior Department, was appointed as a commissioner of the Court of Claims to compile a list of claimants. He made an extensive enrollment of the Cherokees in 1907 and 1908."

John Dunham and wife

My wife did a dna test several years ago to trace her family tree and it showed about 1% of her dna identified as Native American. Maybe not a lot, still more than mine or Elizabeth Warren's, the US Senator from Massachusetts. But it wouldn't give my kids the right claim to preferential treatment on government jobs.

John Dunham's application was denied because he couldn't prove his mother had been enrolled. They didn't have any papers and there was no record of her name on the official list.

There were a lot of people claiming to be Cherokees who weren't at the time and also a lot of Cherokees who didn't have any paperwork to prove who they were.

On John's affidavit someone has written "Slight indication of Indian Blood." above his signature. I don't know, he looks more like a Cowboy than an Indian in this photo.

Annie Pittman Dunham's Affidavit

Although I stole the title of this article from the old song by Paul Revere and the Raiders, it would've been interesting to have done a dna test on John to see what it could prove. Still the papers are a valuable insight into the family history.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Yesterday I posted article number 300 to this blog. I don't know that I expected it to reach that number.

According to Google statistics there have been 42,198 page viewers. The most popular story, from the number of people who've landed there, is about a cousin's experience testing Gas Masks during WWI. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Colonel William Wyatt

I wrote a story recently about William Wyatt who lived in both Tallahassee and Manatee County Florida.

At the time I didn't know why he was called Colonel since his military enlistment records showed he was a Captain.

I've since found this newspaper article that says he was elected Colonel of the 7th Regiment, Florida Militia in 1836 but never actually served as such. He was away on business when he was chosen and by the time he got back someone else had been given the job in his place.

September 24, 1836 The Floridian and Advocate

I've also learned he was the great great grandfather of my aunt's lifelong friend Mary Lou who lives in Bradenton.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Jesse Goodwin Saunders

Jesse Goodwin Saunders is pretty much a mystery. On the 1910 census, my aunt's future father in law, Julian Washington Riddick was a teenager living with him and his wife, listed as their adopted son.

Jesse Saunders Patent
Jesse Saunders was born in Virginia on July 11, 1863 and died in Lake Park, Lowndes County Georgia on August 19, 1927. He married Mamie Saunders in 1886. She was born in Georgia in 1865 and died in Lake Park, Georgia on October 23, 1934.

Jesse and Mamie had a small farm outside Lake Park. He hadn't always been a farmer though as I found a record of him being appointed the Postmaster for Alexanderville in Echols County, Georgia on November 24, 1886.

I'm not sure why or how Julian Riddick came to be living with them. His father, Julian Fraser Riddick had died in 1903 but his mother was still alive and he had a lot of other relatives in Washington County and Panama City, Florida he could have gone to live with. How did he end up in the small Georgia community of Lake Park near where I-75 is today?

Julian's father was born in Virginia so it is possible Saunders was a family friend or relative. I haven't found any connection yet. Julian listed Lake Park, Georgia as his home town on census, marriage records and his military enlistment papers so he must have considered the Saunder's farm as home.

Jesse Saunders Death Certificate
I did find another record for Jesse Saunders which is interesting and maybe will help my cousins out down the road. He filed a patent on May 29, 1906 for an "Apparatus for Distilling Turpentine." It looks like a new and improved still that cooled the turpentine spirits before it could evaporate away or leak out of the wooden barrels.

Jesse and Mamie never had any children of their own so Julian Washington Riddick may have been their only heir.

I don't know if anyone is still using his still or if it ever had any monetary value. If so, then my cousins owe me a finders fee for anything they collect from their adopted grandfather's invention. You don't see a lot of people collecting the sap from Pine trees anymore so maybe the petroleum substitutes took over before Jesse could make any money on his idea.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Crash and Burn

Today is my Dad's 101st birthday. He was a prolific photographer. The one who recorded almost all the family events. He bought an 8 mm movie camera in 1950 and as a result we have movies of grandparents and great grandparents and many of our birthdays, holidays and vacations up until about 1970.
Capt. B.C. Green and 30th Bomber Group Crew

Before the movies he took photographs. During his military career, that spanned parts of four decades, he took photos or had them taken of himself, so that you can really follow along with what he was doing in pictures.

Toward the later part of WWII he was in the US Army Air Force 30th Bombardment Group, Seventh Air Forces stationed in the Pacific. They were hopping from one island to another, setting up airbases closer and closer to Japan.

During that time he was no longer flying but was the Ordnance officer in charge of the bombs and munitions for a Squadron of B-24 heavy bombers. This photo was taken on some unknown Pacific island with his crew. That is him in the middle of the 2nd row with the hat.

He took many photos of wrecked planes, both American and Japanese during the war. The Japanese, leftover from when they took the islands back or shot down during raids and the American those that crashed on landing or were blown up during Japanese air raids.
B-24 Bolivar in the Pacific with 30th Bomber Group

I recently read the book Unbroken about an Olympic runner who was a B-24 copilot. His plane crashed in the ocean and he was held as a POW by the Japanese for several years. My son in law gave me the book for Christmas. It had grim statistics of how many B-24s crashed during the war, having nothing to do with combat. The B-24 had a larger payload and bigger fuel tanks than the more well known B-17 so it could go farther, faster and drop more bombs.

It also had the reputation of being difficult to keep in the air. Although the military called it "The Liberator" the men who flew it gave it the name the "Flying Coffin" and "Flying Boxcar."

One of the few photos of a airplane that wasn't wrecked in Dad's album was this one with the name Bolivar painted on the side. I assume the men in the photo were part of his crew. I decided to google the name of the plane and that told me why he had taken and kept this picture.

The B-24 Bolivar, Serial number 42-72994 was part of the 30th Bomber Group. I don't know if it was in his squadron when the picture was taken but they must have felt some ownership by taking the photo. Dad was in all five of the squadrons of the 30th Bomber Group at some time during the war so I'm sure the plane was assigned to his crew.
Bolivar crashes in Los Angeles

The Bolivar was so famous it was sent home in 1944 to help raise money on a War Bond Tour. It had been flown on 81 combat missions with three different flight crews. As such it was a very unusual veteran of the Pacific, unheard of among B-24s. The record for a B-24 during WWII was 114 combat missions for a plane in Europe but I suspect flying over the Pacific ocean upped the level of difficulty. As far as I can tell The Bolivar had the record for combat missions in the Pacific.

Someone in Washington D.C. thought it would boost bond sales for folks to be able to see and touch an aluminum clad hero so they sent The Bolivar home.

Flying in Southern California turned out to be more difficult than the Pacific. The Bolivar crash landed on November 10, 1944 at Vultee Field in Los Angeles and was trucked to a scrap yard. I figure Dad heard the story of what happened to the plane, although he was still on a Pacific island at the time and kept the photo all those years to remember how his guys helped keep it flying.