Monday, August 24, 2015

Gone a Hundred Years

Today is the 100th anniversary of my grandmothers' death. It is kind of strange to think that your grandmother has been dead for 100 years.

Obviously I never met her and my Dad was only three years old when she died.

Seth Rowell family

Ila L Rowell was born in 1885 in the Shady Grove community of Taylor County Florida and died August 24, 1915 in Perry, Florida. She was only 28 years old and apparently died from a heart problem.

This Rowell family picture was taken about 1900 and shows her standing on the far left at age 15. Her mother Martha Jane Williams Rowell is standing next to her and her father Seth David Rowell is sitting on the far right. Her grandmother, Versanoy Smith Rowell is sitting next to her father.

She married Millard Fillmore Green in January 8, 1905 and had her fist son, Alton a year later. She had four more sons over the next 10 years.

Ila Rowell Green

On the 1910 census it showed she also had one daughter who had died.

Most of the Rowells I've met have red or light colored hair but all her photos look like her hair was dark. My oldest sister was named after her but didn't inherit the dark hair.

A transcript of the Perry newspaper article is below.

The Taylor County Herald
August 1915

Death of Mrs. Ila Green

The many friends and even neighbors of Mrs. Ila Green were shocked Tuesday about noon to learn that she was dead. She had been in better health than usual during the past few weeks, but Tuesday morning was complaining some, nothing to cause alarm, and her body was found about 12 o'clock, still warm, but lifeless. Heart failure is given as the cause.

Ila Rowell Green Grave Marker
Mr. Green was away from home at the time of her death, being the county census enumerator, but was reached during the day and came home at once, and the shock was almost unbearable to him.

Mrs. Green was 28 years of age and a devout Christian. She was a member of the Baptist church and her life work demonstrated that she was truly consistent with her belief. Mr. and Mrs. Green had been married ten years and five boys, the youngest less than a year old, are left motherless, while no words can express the loss to this husband and companion.

The funeral took place Wednesday morning in the City Cemetery, Rev. J. A. Kirtley having charge of the ceremonies. Many friends attended the burial service thereby expressing their appreciation of the life work of this good woman.

Ila Green was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Perry, Florida. The first family member in a large plot my grandfather bought. He was the last one buried there in 1973.

Her grave marker had deteriorated so much my grandfather had it replaced shortly before he died with a marble column.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stay Away From the Big City

Thomas Fulford was the brother of my great great grandfather. He was one of those people who I only learned of because they were listed on one of the census records.

When you do family history research there are a lot of these folks. They show up on a census or bible record as being in the family but then you don't know what happened to them. When the next census was done, ten years later, they aren't listed. I probably have hundreds or thousands of these people in my records.

Thomas Fulford was the youngest son in the family of Col. Thomas and Susan Fulford and was born in 1840. On the 1850 and 1860 census he was living with the family in the Straits area of Carteret County, North Carolina and then he disappeared.

In my records I just showed that he died sometime after 1860 but had no other information about him. With the Civil War just after that, I assumed he had enlisted and died or just moved away by the time the 1870 census came out.

Recently I obtained some family estate records from the period and one of them was a $20 promissory note to Ralph Martin signed by Thomas Fulford on September 18, 1860 in New York City.

Promissory Note

The note was very unusual and I had no information about him or other family members living in New York and wasn't sure why this would be in the family records. I decided to check Census and City directories in New York for him.

He was not and there was only one Fulford listed who had been born in North Carolina, a distant cousin Captain William Hawkins Fulford. Captain W. H. Fulford was a Sea Captain who operated out of New York and sailed literally around the world many times in the 1860-1870s.

I had newspaper records of him regularly delivering cargo to Carteret County, North Carolina around this same time and wondered if Thomas Fulford had hired on as a member of his crew and that is how he ended up in New York. It was certainly possible since they were close to the same age and Capt. Fulford's father and siblings lived in the area.

So if Thomas Fulford was living in New York in September 1860, what happened to him?

I started checking the death records which were available online and found a listing for a Thomas Fulford on October 11, 1860. It didn't have any details other than a name and date so I contacted the City of New York to see if they had death certificates from this period.

I was surprised to receive the ledger below, which shows the Thomas Fulford who died October 11th was born in North Carolina and 21 years old, which matched my great uncle.  

Then I noticed the second page and cause of death listed as Confluent Smallpox. It wasn't unusual for Sailors to contract Smallpox while traveling to other countries and then bring it back to port towns. Philadelphia had a Smallpox epidemic in 1860 and New York had over 2,000 cases even though effective vaccines had been available for over 40 years.

New York City Death Certificates October 1860
Confluent Smallpox was one of the more severe forms of the disease where the blisters form over the entire surface of the skin and the fatality rate was double that of the ordinary type. It was a gruesome and painful way to die. The death certificate shows Thomas died at a hospital but does not say which one.

He was buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery. In the family records I found a receipt to Griffin Titus for the funeral and grave marker. The total cost was $66.00 and $21.25 was for a grave marker.

Funeral bill
I decided to try and locate his grave. Trinity Church Cemetery is an old one and they have tours for tourists to show the graves of famous people, such as Astors, Audubons and former NYC Mayor Koch who are buried there.

I found a New York City Historian and newspaper columnist who wrote about Trinity Cemetery and he was kind enough to respond to my email. I asked if there were records to identify the location of old graves. He had a copy of a book published in 1931 "Gravestone Inscriptions of Trinity Cemetery, New York City, New York," that listed all the legible markers.

There was one for Thomas and the marker was shown in the "Parish Ground" of the Eastern Division of the Trinity Church Uptown Cemetery.
Book excerpt
The cemetery office has an archivist who checked the area. He said he could not locate a marker but from the description in their records he gave the location as "behind the Church of Intercession near the tree stump altar."

There are thousands of graves in the cemetery and I don't know if I will ever get there to check myself but plan to try.