Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Crowdsourcing the Kinslows
...And the Huckabys

Still stymied by lack of documentation after the revelation that William Stinebaugh's Kentucky-born wife was once a Kinslow, I've been guessing my way along the path of census records, marriage records, and now burial records. All this, of course, is an exercise based on conjecture: that the only other Kinslow for miles around the Stinebaugh home in Dallas County, Missouri, would actually be a relation of Sarah Kinslow Stinebaugh.

That man in question was named Page Kinslow. He was the right age to be a brother of Sarah. And he just happened to be from Kentucky. Barren County, Kentucky, to be precise.

We've already rejoiced over the fact that Barren County did not happen to be a "burned" county, and that transcriptions of marriage records posted online helped us follow the trail of Agnes Payne, through her first marriage to Page's father, Joseph Kinslow, and then, as a widowed mother of two young children, to her second husband, Joseph Huckaby.

Setting aside the possibility that this might all be a false lead, I thought I'd see what could be found about the family of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Huckaby, once they all moved to Missouri. I have to keep reminding myself that I might be barking up the wrong family tree—but at the same time, I'm very aware that researching this new discovery might lead me to the very resources that can answer my question.

What could possibly go wrong? At the very least, I'd confidently be able to negate my hypothesis. Even that is progress.

So I clicked over to Find A Grave to see if there were any entries for Joseph Huckaby, Page's step-dad.

There was.

Even though there wasn't any cross-reference hyperlinked to Page Kinslow's own memorial on Find A Grave, it was easy enough to find Joseph Huckaby's memorial. As it turns out, Joseph was indeed married more than once, as the 1850 census, back in Kentucky, had suggested. Born in Virginia in 1789, Joseph had served in the War of 1812. This could be a research situation ripe with helpful material.

Better than that—and more pertinent to my own research goal—Joseph's wife Aggy had a Find A Grave memorial of her own, complete with a photograph.

The memorial indicated Aggy was actually born in Barren County, Kentucky. She was buried, predictably, in Polk County, Missouri, where the entire Huckaby family had settled after removing from Kentucky. Some kind soul had, thankfully, hyperlinked her memorial with that of several of her children—as well as with her parents. The memorial was turning out to be quite a treasure trove.

The best part, for me, was the discovery of two newspaper clippings which had been added as photographs to the memorial. The only drawback: each of those newspaper reports was clipped, all right: right inside the column marker, cutting off the first few words at the beginning of each line for one of the articles, and the end of each line for the other article.

All told, wonder woman Agnes Payne Kinslow Huckaby was mother to at least fifteen children—plus step-mother to the several that Joseph had already fathered by his previous wife. Still, I wanted to read the whole of the obituaries that were posted at Find A Grave, not just guess what the missing words might have been.

Fortunately, search engine power was in my favor. Google turned up another resource containing transcriptions of those very same articles: a Rootsweb file which included a huge page of entries for Agnes. Among the details I found interesting was that, having lived to the age of ninety one—coupled with the fact that, being so much younger than her husband, she lived until 1911—Aggy was "one of the three last pensioners" of the War of 1812.

Still, the best I could find out about that question that bugged me—the name of that second Kinslow child—was a dismissive mention that Agnes had had two children by her previous marriage.

Is that all they could say?!

Of course, the possibility—though slim—that Joseph Huckaby's wife's pension application would include any mention of her two Kinslow children drew me beyond the transcribed notes on this Rootsweb file to the actual digitized images of those pension papers at Fold3.com. Though I managed to obtain the dates I was missing—Joseph Kinslow's death in "July 1840" and that of Joseph Huckaby's first wife Mary in August of 1836—any mention of Agnes' first two children eluded me.

Even so, if I supposed that the mysterious "Joseh Ann" entry from the 1850 census was indeed my Sarah A. Stinebaugh of much later years, tracing back her matrilineal line through the details given on the Find A Grave memorial—and then, piggy-backing those names onto other family trees posted at Ancestry and Rootsweb—I couldn't see any familiar surnames to claim as that nexus I was seeking with my mystery cousin, the adoptee with whom I had an exact match resultant from our mitochondrial DNA test.

Mired in so much data—much of it taking on the cast of a genealogical wild goose chase—I was beginning to lose steam. Maybe this quest wasn't such a good idea, after all. Maybe trying to match the genealogical paper trail with the tale told by DNA testing wasn't going to work, after all. That ingenious creation of scientific pursuit—the mtDNA test—was turning out to be too powerful an opponent to take on. I already knew, from autosomal testing, that my mystery cousin and I did not connect within the range of sixth cousin. Who knows how much farther back the nexus might be.

Frankly, sifting through all the possibilities was just wearing me out.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Second Start

Finding Page Kinslow—whom I hoped would turn out to be brother of my targeted Sarah Kinslow Stinebaugh—in Barren County, Kentucky, was a start. This helped me trace back from Missouri to a likely birthplace for Sarah. If, that is, she was sister of Page Kinslow.

Though some thoughtful volunteers had posted Barren County marriage records online—henceforth saving them from at least the fate of a burned courthouse—I still had some tap dancing to do, once I landed on that helpful page of transcriptions. Why? Because the record I found on the 1850 census for that county showed Page and his sister—whatever her name was—in the household of a man named Joseph Huckaby.

I thought it might be a good idea to waltz on over to the transcribed marriage entries underneath the heading "H" to take a look.

Sure enough, there was a Joseph Huckaby entered on the list of grooms in Barren County. On June 23, 1841, he apparently was wed to a woman named Agnes Kinslow. Since the 1850 census showed the Joseph Huckaby household including a thirty year old female named "Agness" combined with a twenty three year old William Huckaby on the next line, this could either be an older daughter of Joseph, or possibly a second wife, since there were others listed in the household under the age of ten, including the two Kinslow children.

If this Agnes were Joseph's wife, by 1850 they would have been married for nine years. Joseph Huckaby, by this time aged fifty eight, likely had been married before, though no entry on the Barren County marriage transcriptions fit that scenario. Correspondingly, the groom's list for the "K" entries had shown a marriage between a Joseph Kinslow and an "Aggy" Payne on August 3, 1837—leaving just enough time for Aggy to bear Joseph one or possibly two children before his untimely death and Aggy's subsequent marriage.

At least, that sounded like a reasonable scenario. After all, even in a county with the twenty thousand people Barren County contained at that point, what were the chances that there would be two Agnes Kinslows there?

I don't like chances much, though, so I thought I'd take another look.

As it turned out, Page Kinslow had a memorial on Find A Grave. Some helpful volunteer had noted on that entry that Page was son of Joseph Kinslow and Agnes Payne.

Well, at least someone agrees with me.

Come to find out, there were others who thought so, too. Though I couldn't find any memorials on Find A Grave for the unfortunate man who left Agnes a widow so soon, there was an entry for her second husband—and one for Agnes, herself. And they weren't sparse entries, either. Someone—or two, or three—was being a wonderful Find A Grave volunteer, indeed.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Following the Family Line

Is it just coincidence that, after emigration from Kentucky, the only other family sharing Sarah Stinebaugh's maiden name lived just across the county line, in Bolivar, Missouri? I thought I'd try an experiment and see what could be found about the kin of Page C. Kinslow, formerly of Barren County, Kentucky.

Fortunately, someone had kindly transcribed that Kentucky county's marriage records for the decades I'd like to see, and posted them online. All told, there were seventeen entries for marriages with a Kinslow groom listed, beginning with Adam Kinslow and Charlotte Drake in 1809, and stretching up to the 1849 nuptials of Massa Kinslow and Francis A. Mansfield. Undoubtedly, several of them were for second marriages.

Just as was predicted by the Find A Grave entry for the man we're pursuing—Page C. Kinslow, buried in Missouri in 1926—his stated parents, Joseph Kinslow and "Aggy" Payne, were showing on the list, married in Kentucky on August 3, 1837. That would be in plenty of time to welcome their baby boy on July 31, 1838—if, indeed, this Page Kinslow, now in Polk County, Missouri, was their son.

Since Page didn't seem to show up in Missouri census records until 1870, it seemed likely that he could be found back in his hometown in Kentucky during his childhood years on the 1850 census. Though the 1850 census doesn't specifically finger family relationships, it would be a handy place to uncover the name of any possible sibling inferences—especially the hoped-for connection with Sarah A. Kinslow, who supposedly became the Sarah A. Stinebaugh we've been pursuing.

Pulling up the search bar—both at Ancestry.com and on FamilySearch.org—that attempt ran into problems. While I was able to flush out an approximately-eleven-year-old Page Kinslow in Barren County for that 1850 census, he wasn't living in the Kinslow household. He was listed as part of a Barren County household headed by one Joseph Huckaby.

Complicating matters was the fact that, though he was listed in the Huckaby household alongside another child with his own surname—Kinslow—that ten year old girl had a given name entered that looked very much as if it should have read "Joseph." Only there was a letter missing. Plus the enumerator's habit of forming concluding Ss in the colonial style: what we would now misread as an "f-s." Was that last letter an S? Or an F? Or possibly a P or an H? The enumerator must have been suffering from writer's cramp by this point in his circuit.

What became of Sarah Kinslow? If this ten year old Kinslow girl was a poorly-transcribed Sarah, we could say she was likely Page's sister. But it would take a lot of imagination to reconstruct that given name as Sarah.

There was another Sarah Kinslow in Barren County. However, her age didn't align as neatly with the consistently-stated age of our Sarah, as she appeared in the Stinebaugh household of both 1860 in Missouri and 1880 in Texas.

Besides, who was this Joseph Huckaby? While I had noticed that there were neighboring Huckaby families settled near the property Page Kinslow had secured for himself as a married man in Missouri, it took another trip back to the online records of the Kentucky county to help reconstruct the family's story.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This One's Still Standing

Alright, then: the death certificate that assured me that Sarah A. Stinebaugh's maiden name was Kinslow led me to the brick wall roadblock of a "burned" county: Dallas County, Missouri.

Now what?

All I had was information gleaned from the census records of her married years: as a young mother in 1860 in Missouri, and much later in 1880, when the family moved to Texas. (For whatever reason, try as I might, I could not locate the family in the 1870 census—either in Missouri or Texas—though Sarah's husband's parents and some siblings were easily located in their new Texas home by 1870.)

What I could determine about this Sarah Stinebaugh was that she was born about 1839, and that she was born in Kentucky. Both the 1860 census and the 1880 census consistently substantiated those two bits of information. A later look at Sarah's headstone confirmed that year of birth.

The next task, of course, would be to tackle where in Kentucky she might have been born. That introduces the question of how she arrived, from Kentucky, in Missouri. Since her husband, William Stinebaugh, was, according to census records, born in Missouri, the most likely scenario would be that he met his future bride in Missouri, rather than back in Kentucky. Could there be any neighboring Kinslow families in Dallas County, Missouri, around the time of their marriage? Perhaps there would be a way around that burned courthouse, after all.

As luck would have it—and though a surname like Kinslow would itself be ripe for spelling creativity—just scrolling through the contiguous pages in the census records, I could find no sign of any Kinslows residing in the neighboring properties near the Stinebaugh residence, either in 1860 or 1850.

Well, it was worth a try. I always like to take a peek and see who else is living nearby my target ancestors. If I don't look, I don't know.

Next step was to search more generically for Kinslows in Missouri, as jumping straight back to Kentucky to seek Kinslows would, at this point, be too premature.

As it turns out, there was a Kinslow household in Missouri—not, unfortunately, for either 1860 or even 1850, but in the 1870 census. Then, too, another complication was that the entry was not for anyone living in the county where the Stinebaughs had resided—Dallas County—but in nearby Polk County. It was an entry for a man named Page Kinslow. Aged thirty one at the time, that would put his year of birth at either 1838 or 1839. If—and, of course, that would be a very tenuous if—he were a relation of Sarah Stinebaugh's, that might even put him at the level of a brother or cousin.

What if I followed the trail backwards in time, from this Page Kinslow, to see if he had any relatives named Sarah? Almost too good to be true, it turned out that this Page Kinslow had an entry on Find A Grave, with volunteer-added contributions about his personal history. While I realize that such volunteer entries could very well be merely mistakes propagated by the passing along of unsubstantiated material, I was game to trace Page back to his roots in the county revealed by this Find A Grave entry.

The entry asserted that Page Kinslow was born in 1838 to parents Joseph Kinslow and Agnes Payne. His childhood home was listed as Barren County, Kentucky.

Off to the Internet resources for Barren County I went! Unlike what I had discovered for the disabused Dallas County in Missouri, Barren County had apparently fared much better during the turmoil of the Civil War years, as witnessed by the online opportunities now opening up to me in my newfound Kinslow details.

If Page was going to turn out to be Sarah's brother, I was in for some easy going through online resources in this county.

Above: The Barren County, Kentucky, courthouse, located in Glasgow; photograph courtesy of the Wikipedia contributor, Bedford; in the public domain.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Burned Up

Finding the maiden name for the woman later known as Sarah Stinebaugh was a coup. At least, that's what I thought when I stumbled upon that suggestion, gleaned from her daughter Margaret Melvina's death certificate.

However, we all know how unreliable an "official" document like that can be. Think of it: everyone stressed over the ordeal of the past few days—or, in the case of some terminal illnesses, the past few months—then suddenly expected to deliver the details of vital records to a stranger, when every mention of the topic might just bring on another volley of heaving sobs.

The way I see it, Sarah's maiden name might have been Kinslow, just as her daughter's family reported it.

Or, it could have been something entirely different. I had to go take a look.

So back to the records for the county in Missouri where I once found the Stinebaugh family living: Dallas County.

I began my due diligence with a cursory glance at the wiki posted for the county among the many pages at FamilySearch.org. It was interesting, in looking for possible marriage records of a Sarah Kinslow and our William Stinebaugh, to stumble upon this map of Missouri counties, along with a listing of what marriage records might be found in each county. Scrolling down the chart to the county I was seeking—Dallas—I was disappointed to see their marriage records only dated back to 1886.

That would be a far cry from our target date range of 1857 through 1859.

I headed over to the FamilySearch wiki for general information on the county. There, I briefed myself on the historic overview of the county: seeing that it was created in 1841, that it was carved out of territory previously belonging to Polk County, and that it was originally named Niangua County.

Googling for further information, I stumbled upon the resurrected Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness site. There, the landing page for the state provided some basic facts for the counties in Missouri—the kind of stuff genealogy researchers find helpful. I took a cursory glance at the list of counties, scrolling down to Dallas County and reading, basically, the same information I had just read back on the FamilySearch wiki.

And then I saw it: the clickable links in a navigation bar just above the list of counties. Sandwiched in between the choices, "List of Missouri Counties" and the intriguing entry, "List of Missouri Extinct Counties," was the middle choice: "List of Missouri Burned Courthouses."

Oh, yeah. Burned counties. I had heard stuff about that. No, correct that: I had been witness to grown adults melting down in vented frustration over their personal burned courthouse. Their own research Waterloo. The end of the line. The reason why so many people have impassible Brick Walls.

It looked like I was now going to join that statistic. I clicked on the link. (Cue murder mystery sound track here.)

The link led to a narrative, explaining the significance of burned courthouses. True enough, the opening paragraph expressed what I've learned from others who've faced this research problem:
Not only are these historic buildings ripped from each of our lifetimes, so are the archives they kept....

I scrolled down the long list of Missouri counties hit by this scourge. Sure enough, among the wounded and dispatched was Dallas County. Hit by Confederate troops on October 18, 1863, the remaining Dallas County courthouse records were subsequently also consumed by two fires occurring in their temporary replacement quarters in both 1864 and 1867.

Fat chance I'd find my marriage record for William Stinebaugh and his bride, Sarah, in that mess.

Perhaps, my ever-hopeful inner voice chirped up, there will be another way to find this...


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Importance of Taking Another Look

This is one of those "preaching to the choir" messages. But hey. I'm a member of that choir, too. And look how this caught me by surprise.

It's no secret I've been inundated with DNA test results. Mostly, these are leads that lead...nowhere. But there have also been some sweet moments during this foray into the world of genetic genealogy. One of them was in standing back and watching my then-only exact match mtDNA partner go against all odds and find his birth parents, thanks to a combination of sheer persistence and genetic genealogy.

By virtue of our sharing an exact match on our mitochondrial DNA test, that means somewhere in our past, his mother's-mother's-mother's line becomes one and the same as my mother's-mother's-mother's line. Or something like that. Give or take a few dozen generations. Maybe even going back up to seven hundred years in the past.

We're hoping our nexus is a bit closer than that.

So we've decided to set out and see if we can find the connection. Once my mystery cousin discovered who his birth mother was, he worked with her to sketch a basic maternal family tree. And I set to wrestling with my own research challenges on my matrilineal line, too.

Right now, it seems we are at a stalemate. I suspect his will be one of those early American settler lines that may stretch all the way back to the Revolutionary War—perhaps even farther. Complicating matters is that, like many families in the early days of our country, his was a family which seemed to be constantly westward-moving, slipping from Tennessee to Kentucky to Missouri to Texas and beyond.

Here is where we are stuck on his line: with newlyweds William and Sarah Stinebaugh and their baby daughter Julina in the 1860 census in Dallas County, Missouri.

Where we are stuck, in particular, is with the possibility that William Stinebaugh and family may not have been in Dallas County, Missouri, for long. He and his wife, Sarah, may have gotten married somewhere else. And that is the problem: she may be the maiden, but I'm the one who is in distress. I can't very well trace a matrilineal line without securing the specific surname of that there maiden.

Just the other day, in frustration, I thought I'd pull out all the details on our discoveries to this point, review them and look for gaps. Or hints. Or anything a desperate mind could clutch and feel satisfied in calling it progress.

So I took a look at the bigger picture of that 1860 census page. Since the surname in question was Stinebaugh—definitely not a name anywhere in my maternal line—I wanted to see who else might be living nearby. After all, looking for a name like William—even if coupled with a surname as uncommon as Stinebaugh—could create problems. Besides, think of all the spelling permutations a census enumerator could come up with, given a name like that.

What I saw, when I looked around that census page, was another Stinebaugh. His name was Granville. That, in case you haven't noticed, would be a wonderful name to research. After all, how many Granville Stinebaughs do you know?

To test my theory with a quick and dirty experiment, I grabbed that name and ran to Rootsweb. Sure enough, a few people had posted their trees which included that name—including this one.

Oh, happy day: there actually was a Stinebaugh family which included siblings William and Granville. It was a family headed by Jacob and Nancy Cannon Stinebaugh, who once lived in Christian County, Kentucky. As it turns out, several of the Stinebaugh family had applied for and received land grants in Dallas County, Missouri—including William, whose paperwork was dated 1857.

This nice infusion of facts did little to answer my question about his young wife's maiden name, however.

I tried some other attempts, using tricks of the research trade to help me overcome that stalemate. Google searches for pockets of sequestered genealogical tidbits—flung online, '90s style, in various GenWeb and related sites—failed to lead me to any hidden parlor containing marriage records for this William and Sarah.

Next step: try looking at death certificates for the next generation. This step was beginning to frustrate me as well. One daughter's death certificate, I later found out, gave the mother's first name, followed by the initials "D. K."

"Doesn't Know"?

My mood was turning sour.

I kept plugging, going through one descendant after another. I've been down this road before, so I didn't expect much. I was mainly going through the motions because, well, that's what you're supposed to do, right? Double check all the steps along the way, to see if you missed anything.

I had. Oh, how I appreciate Find A Grave for bringing me to my senses. What happened was this: remember that child listed along with William and Sarah in the 1860 census? Baby Julina? Well, the next census enumeration in which I was able to find the family wasn't until 1880. A lot can happen in that time—witness the family's move to Cooke County, Texas—and because the family no longer included Julina, I had presumed she had died in childhood. I had traced the other Stinebaugh children through their childhood to adulthood—and then, all the way to their death records in hopes of finding a mention of their mother's maiden name—but I never went looking for adult records of Julina.

Find A Grave, on the other hand, has some wonderful volunteers who go beyond their call of duty, adding all sorts of additional material to those online records. The memorial for Sarah Stinebaugh, herself, happened to be cross-referenced with a married daughter named Julia.

Could that be Julina?

I won't get your hopes up falsely by dragging out this narrative. As it turned out, Julia likely was one and the same as Julina—thus gaining me an additional line in this Stinebaugh genealogy to trace—but hers was also the death certificate with the "Sarah D. K." entered for mother's maiden name.

Since I was in the mode of retracing my steps, though, I went back to that Find A Grave memorial for her mother, Sarah, to look at the other link provided: this time, for a daughter named Melvina. Born right after that 1860 census was taken, "Vina" eventually married, raised a family, and then moved to California to live near one of her daughters.

That is where, at her death in 1945, county bureaucrats duly noted her mother's maiden name and recorded it on the document publicly available for all to review.

The name? For once, I've escaped the curse of "Unknown." "D. K." is not "Doesn't Know." Well, I still don't know what the "D" stood for in Sarah's name, but I do know about the "K."

Her name was Kinslow.

And now I have a ticket to ride back to another generation and another place: Kentucky, the state where Sarah was born. Thankfully, also a state where other branches of my own maternal family tree had migrated in those early years of the 1800s. Perhaps, within a generation or two, my mystery cousin and I will find our nexus.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the Other Hand

After unloading my frustration, yesterday, over lack of progress on my DNA test results—not just for myself, but for my husband and my brother, as well—I need to interject some balance to my observations.

I am reminded of an analysis I read once, years ago, considering the political and social aftermath of the invention we know as the fax machine. Given that the fax machine enabled people to bypass the conventional gatekeepers of business and politics, it could become a powerful tool in getting a lone message out to multiplied numbers of people with very little effort.

Despite its evident selling point, the gizmo also had its drawbacks. The article I was reading mentioned the dilemma faced by the cutting-edge techno-fan when considering purchase of such a device: if you are the only one who owns such a contraption, to whom will you dispatch your faxes?

One fax machine is useless. The invention only becomes useful after there are two.

We've since developed a world of other technology gadgets which follow suit on that rule. Come to think of it, we've actually faced that dilemma long before the arrival of the fax machine, as well. Just consider how useless it would be to be the only person in the world owning a telephone.

Despite its bad rap, technology often connects people, just as much as it seems to isolate and alienate them. Imagine being the only person in the world on Facebook. Or using email.

Some tasks just require two parties. A sender and a receiver.

Likewise, as I seek matches to my DNA test results, I'm faced with that same technology conundrum: it takes two people to make a match.

Of course, this DNA testing isn't quite so easy a matter as having two people test to find a match. You and I and everyone else know the key is in who is doing the testing. But, as very few of us are acquainted with our fourth through sixth cousins—those thousands of them out in the wide world—we have little to no idea how many people it will take, before we can connect with a bona fide genetic match.

Reader Intense Guy made the observation yesterday,
...the country has 300,000,000 people in it—and only a very small number have done the "DNA testing." The odds of a jackpot would seem to me to be about 1 in 50,000 or perhaps even worse.
It seems the key, then, is to turn advocates for genetic genealogy into evangelists for DNA testing. It seems a reasonable conclusion. The more people out there who have joined in on the genetic genealogy bandwagon, the merrier.

On the other hand, how likely is it that the average person will rush out and kiss goodbye their hard-earned cash, along with their test-tube encapsulated spit? We've got everyone from seniors who just can't afford it to swinging singles who are afraid a paternity suit might catch up with them. Add to the mix the uninterested, uninformed, and undocumented. Plus preppers and the paranoid and conspiracy theorists, oh my!

It seems there are thousands of reasons why a person might not want to have his or her DNA bottled up and put on the record. Anywhere.

Still, promoters of genetic genealogy—and genealogy in general—have taken the opportunity to spread the message far and wide. Of course, I've heard the message at genealogy conferences. Television programs popularizing genealogical research have helped, as well. And it sure doesn't hurt when well-known promoters like A.J. Jacobs garner live crowds—his Global Family Reunion reportedly had four thousand in attendance at the grounds of the former New York World's Fair a couple weeks ago. You can be sure those joining in that family reunion heard some amazing stories about genetic genealogy results.

I only wish there was a way—a widespread way—for each of us as individuals to spread the word within our own microcosms. I'd love to be able to say to someone, "Hey, if you're related to the Tilsons (or the McClellans, or the Booths), do this DNA test and let's see if we're connected," and receive a favorable response.

Instead of having to stoop down to pick up the poor willing soul who's just been knocked out by sticker shock.
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