Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just One More

The old saw about genealogy researchers never being satisfied until they go back just one more generation may come to mind with my comments today. I hope you will find this instance excusable. While documentation for the 1843 Ohio birth of Joseph E. Flowers would suffice to qualify for membership in the Ohio Genealogical Society’s “Settlers and Builders of Ohio,” I’m not satisfied to settle for that designation. I believe it will be possible to demonstrate that Joseph’s father was himself in the state of Ohio before 1821. It is that December 31, 1820, cut-off date that is my target to qualify my husband and his family as descendants of the First Families of Ohio.

Let’s take a look at this target ancestor. Joseph E. Flowers’ father was Simon T. Flowers. Just a few years before Joseph was born, Simon married one of the young women from the area’s extensive Gordon family—Nancy Anna Gordon, daughter of James and Sarah Rinehart Gordon, who had arrived in Perry County from Pennsylvania in the early 1830s.

The old Saint Joseph Church in Somerset, Ohio, was the site of the exchange of Simon and Nancy’s vows on June 24, 1840. In the following twenty two years, they raised at least thirteen children. Their son Joseph was the oldest of the five sons.

Joseph’s father, Simon, was himself from a large family. I’ve already explained my dilemma regarding Simon’s place of birth—listed in some records as Pennsylvania, in the midst of brothers both older and younger having been documented as born in Ohio.

The main offending document is Simon’s death record. The index to the Record of Deaths, Perry County shows Simon’s place of birth as Pennsylvania, while aggravatingly, the line below his on this index page belongs to his older cousin Susannah, who was born in Madison Township of what was yet to become Perry County, Ohio.  (From this link to a scanned copy of the “F” entries, page forward through the alphabetization until you reach the Flowers entries.)

And yet, the 1850 census shows a “do” or ditto mark for Simon’s place of birth, under the preceding line’s “O” for Ohio. The legend takes up the “Pa” for the subsequent line, correctly indicating his wife’s origin in the state of Pennsylvania, then switches again to “O” for their firstborn daughter.

Though the 1860 census spells his name “Simeon” instead of Simon, following the quote marks signifying “ditto” up the line to the previous state indication, it once again shows an “O” for Ohio. Again, for his wife, the legend reverts to “Pa,” then to “O” again for the children.

In 1870, the census pattern holds steady. In a clear, legible hand, the entire word “Ohio” is boldly inscribed, correctly shifting to the fully-written “Pennsylvania” for Simon’s wife, and back to “Ohio” for the children remaining at home.

What most likely were three different census-takers reporting on documents spaced ten years apart seem to be in harmony about one conclusion: Simon Flowers was born in Ohio, not Pennsylvania.

Why then the discrepancy for his final document? Perhaps whichever family member reported to the itinerant census takers did not become the one responsible for providing the information for Simon’s death record. Perhaps it was Simon himself reporting all those years—well, at least up until 1875.

As to who completed the information for Simon’s death record, there is no way now to determine this. While later death certificates in some states indicated the name of the informant providing the details, this was not the case for Simon’s 1875 passing. Ohio law initially required the keeping of death records in 1856, but with lack of universal compliance, the state passed a second law requiring each county’s Probate Court to keep these records. This is why Simon’s death is recorded in an index held by the Probate Court of Perry County.

The index, as you can see, held very little information. Of those few facts, the information could have been provided by one of the adult sons—perhaps even Joseph, himself—or it could have been inserted by a kindly distant relative wishing to help the family during this time of burden. It could even have been one of Simon’s wife’s Pennsylvania-raised Gordon family members.

So this leaves me with the score of three to one. Three census records affirm birth in Ohio, one death record insists it was really Pennsylvania.

What now? Taking a close look at the Ohio Genealogical Society’s Lineage Society Rules and Application Procedure file, it appears that census records are acceptable. Does that mean the story’s over? Perhaps it is just me who is uncomfortable with the ambiguity. I think I just want to find a little something else to fill in the blanks in my own mind.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bride By Plat Map

There’s no place like home. Perhaps with as much vested interest as people take in seeking out their own face in a photograph of a crowd, knowing “I was there,” we may also derive the same recognition when perusing maps of childhood homes. At one point, we were, after all, “there.”

I can’t pretend to know what home was like for my mother-in-law’s ancestors. I know very little about her father, John Ambrose Flowers of Perry County, Ohio. I know even less about his father, Joseph E. Flowers.

Joseph Flowers parcel 1875 Plat Map Clayton Twp Perry Co OH closeupI do, however, still have a copy of an undated plat map for the township in which they resided. In a visit to the Perry County courthouse many years ago, I had asked what I thought would be the impossible question: “Can I have a copy of that?”

“That” was the plat map. Oversized, bound in a large hard-cover volume, it was the unwieldy type of untouchable relic from the past that was suitable only for archiving—not for releasing to the unwashed public.

Though the clerk might have considered the question unusual, she thankfully found a way to accommodate my request. Asking if I “minded” having the copy broken up into two eleven-by-seventeen pages, she set to work producing a facsimile.

I was elated—until I considered how I would preserve that photocopied document. Just the trip home from Ohio presented challenges. This is just not the size for which one simply runs to the stationery store for a manila folder. And once home, where to store it? (Thankfully, my sister-in-law sent me a beautifully ornamented wooden box in which it fits perfectly, along with other treasured papers.)

Keeping such a record stowed away, however, defeats the purpose of using the document. This next consideration received its answer last January when my Genealogy Angel loaned me her Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. See, now I have a digitized version of the plat map, and you can see it, too.

That’s a good thing, because I want you to visualize what I am talking about when I mentioned yesterday that so many of the families in Perry County are intertwined.

Though you don’t (yet) know all the surnames involved in this Flowers family, when I let my eyes wander across the page, I start noticing something: Hey! These surnames are all somewhere in my genealogy database! Somewhere across the years, these neighbors started becoming in-laws, and wedding bells blended quite a few of the old, recognizable family lines from that plat map.

On this map, I saw Gordons, Hammonds, Deans, other Flowers families, and many, many Sniders. The singular calligraphy drew me in, and tempted my eyes to wander over the geographic details: a proposed railroad winding its way across properties, perhaps on its way to the Saltillo Coal company where John Ambrose Flowers later worked; several spots labeled “coal bank.” Roads and creeks meandering freely over the land disregarded the strict adherence to the grids that comprised each sector.

On the section labeled “22,” I saw the name, “Jos. Flowers.” Nestled in between the N. Hammond property and several sets of Sniders—including the inevitable alternate “Snyder” spelling—this spot was the one our family’s ancestors called home. I could see the lower portion of the Flowers property bore the legend, “Coal Bank,” and remembered my mother-in-law’s mentions of an oil rig on the property.

Relative to the other parcels, I could see it was a sliver of land. The number below the name, if meaning the number of acres, showed this to be a 45 acre parcel. For suburban homeowners today, that would seem an unmanageable amount of land; for farmers of those days, in which land grants had once been obtained in 160 acre parcels, it might not be sufficient for a decent-sized business operation. Indeed, the size—and the surrounding labels of “Snider”—made me wonder if this was a concession to Joseph Flowers on account of his bride, the former Anna Maria Snider.

Of course, that was conjecture on my part. I didn’t even have a date for this plat map I had gotten so many years ago. I guessed it was from the 1800s, but I had no idea when.

Thanks to the wonders of digitization and the Internet, what never had previously been accessible in ways other than the sheer act of personal travel can now be obtained with a click of a mouse. I decided that my chances of finding my plat map on a website somewhere might indeed be quite possible nowadays.

And that, indeed, is how it is. Consider this Clayton township plat map I discovered here, dated 1859. Gaining my bearings by first locating that section 22 that Joseph Flowers eventually called home, I see that the whole area belonged to Jacob Snider. While there were many Snider men in Perry County back then, it is most likely that this Jacob Snider was Anna Maria’s father. At that time, Joseph Flowers would have been only sixteen—eight years prior to having gotten up the gumption to ask Anna’s father for her hand in marriage.

The same website that featured the 1859 plat map also provided a scanned copy of one for 1875. Looking at that map, it turns out it is a copy of the same original from which I gleaned mine, thus providing me a date for my document. Some things are indeed better late than never—especially in the case of those early research years when details such as these slipped the mind in the face of exciting discoveries.

Spanning the time from the 1859 map until the map of 1875, it may indeed have been so: that plat maps show the family names intertwining, buying and selling property to arrange for married children to still remain close to home. While no one would actually have shopped for a bride using a plat map, the end result seems much the same. Familiarity, it seems, does not breed contempt. It breeds grandchildren.

Joseph Flowers property Clayton Twp Perry Co OH 1875 Plat Map Rehoboth Saltillo farm land coal bank

Monday, October 29, 2012

Intertwining Families

In a place like Perry County, Ohio—where everyone seems to be related—it doesn’t take much time to realize that a lot of the same surnames keep showing up in many different families. Genealogists have always contended that “If you go back far enough, we’re all related.” It’s just that the genealogists studying Perry County have arrived at the proof of that conclusion far earlier than anyone else might have anticipated.

Take the family of Norma Flowers Stevens. I mentioned yesterday that both her parents came from sizable families. Her mother, Bertha Genevieve Metzger Flowers, grew up with nine brothers and sisters. Depending on the records used for the tally, Norma’s dad had at least three brothers and five sisters.

John Ambrose Flowers was the youngest son in that family. The oldest, born in 1870, began a long line of children that ended with the birth of the youngest in 1893. Once each of these children reached adult age, the surnames of those intermarried produced a set of names familiar to those in the New Lexington vicinity. Two daughters married Bennett men. Another daughter married into the Hammond family. A Flowers son married a Harris daughter, while her brother married a Flowers daughter. And John Ambrose Flowers himself married a Metzger, providing himself with a mother-in-law from the area’s extensive Gordon family.

The connections did not end with that generation. John’s parents introduced another whole generation of community relationships. John’s mother was the former Anna Maria Snider, daughter of James Jacob and Elizabeth Ann Stine Snider. Both the Snider family and the Stine family were also well known in the area, with bygone generations’ businesses carrying the name of various Snider relatives.

John’s father, however, is the one we’ll need to concentrate on for my current goal of attaining recognition for this Flowers line as a First Family of Ohio. Joseph E. Flowers, born in 1843 in Perry County, was a lifelong farmer in Clayton Township there. While I know very little else about the man—and though I need do no more than verify the pertinent facts of his life for the First Families program—I do want to revisit his generation once I finish this required paperwork, if only to learn more about his life and times. For now, and for the Ohio Genealogical Society lineage program, suffice it to say he married fairly young, had many children, and died near his home at the age of eighty.

With the preponderance of Perry County residents of the time bearing the surname Flowers, given time, I’ll have the freedom to explore the many online editions of local Perry County newspapers as well as the neighboring Zanesville Times Recorder for more information on the day-to-day life of these ancestors of my mother-in-law.

For now, the existence of documents showing Joseph E. Flowers’ birth, marriage and death in Perry County give me enough Ohio-ness to push back the timeline to at least 1843. With that, I’m getting closer to my goal of locating a Flowers family member there in Ohio before 1821.

Perry County Ohio Marriage Record Joseph E Flowers Anna Maria Snider 1867

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Starting From “Here” Before We Can Go “There”

Sometimes, I just have to take “Brick Walls” for what they are—immovable objects hampering research progress—and retrace my steps before I can devise another approach to the impassible. As one reader, Magda, mentioned yesterday, there are resources available from others who have already pondered how to tackle the dilemma.

The book Magda mentioned, Marsha Hoffman Rising’s The Family Tree Problem Solver, is on order right now. In the meantime, as I wait for my brick wall demo team to arrive, I’m going to go back to the beginning of this Flowers path and see what else I can find. Retracing my steps will also allow me to assemble all the documentation I’ll need when I send in my application for my family’s possible entrance into the First Families of Ohio membership of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

L to R Agnes Tully Stevens Frank Stevens Norma Flowers John A Flowers Bertha Metzger Flowers
If you’ve followed along here, back over a year ago when I began the series on my father-in-law’s World War II letters home, you will recall meeting Frank Stevens’ young bride from Perry County. Norma Jean Flowers and Francis Xavier Stevens were wed in the Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New Lexington on November 5, 1949.

At the point where I introduced the couple, I did include a few pictures of Norma’s parents, but not much on her family. A year ago, I was telling Frank’s story. Now I can begin on Norma’s family—with a focus on the Flowers family line.

Norma’s dad was John Ambrose Flowers. He was a man born, raised and buried, all in the same county. Born on his father’s homestead farm just outside New Lexington, John was third to youngest of a large family—documents are enigmatic enough to dispute whether he was among nine children or ten—arriving on May third, 1885.

In his earlier adult years, several documents indicate his livelihood to be coal mining—and in Perry County, Ohio, he had plenty of company in that endeavor. His World War One draft registration card confirms that he worked for the Wheeler and Mason Coal Company in Saltillo.

By the time of the 1920 census, he was still single and living at home with his parents—the only one of his many siblings doing so, with the exception of one married sister and her family at that same address.

Perhaps, at the age of thirty-four, he was considered one of Perry County’s eligible bachelors—or perhaps not. After all, he was still employed as a coal miner.

I don’t know at what point John Flowers shifted from mining to farming, but perhaps it was about the time of his (finally!) marriage to young Bertha Genevieve Metzger, daughter of another large family from the western portion of the rural county.

The couple was married on May 18, 1926, at Saint Joseph’s in Somerset, where the bride’s family attended church. On the day of their wedding ceremony, John Ambrose Flowers was forty one. His bride was twenty one.

In contrast to the large families in which both John and Bertha were raised, the couple had only two children. Perhaps, considering the age difference between them, it may have been a good thing. Just before their thirtieth wedding anniversary, John Ambrose Flowers passed away at the age of seventy. He died of cancer. Farmer or not, his death certificate listed him as a retired coal miner. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

Photograph, above right: Flowers-Stevens wedding reception November 5, 1949; left to right: Agnes Tully Stevens of Chicago, her son Frank Stevens, the bride Norma Flowers Stevens, Norma's father John Ambrose Flowers, Norma's mother Bertha Metzger Flowers. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Know He’s Hiding in There Somewhere

You know how it is, tracing genealogical records: you start from what you know, and move gradually backward in time. Each step holds you firmly in place—and refuses to let go—until you can verify that you know that generation’s vital statistics, too. And then you can move on—er, back.

All that is fine and well as long as one is researching a country for which certificates and census records provide the details—those handy research guides known as names. When, in the United States, you encounter the Wall of 1850, you pass from the land of the named to the land of the itemized. If your ancestor is not the head of household, before that 1850 watershed mark, that ancestor will not be named, only counted.

True, in making my way back on the timeline of the Flowers family of Perry County, Ohio, I do have verification of other family members’ names, even before 1850. There are some baptismal records. There are some tax records. And there is the cemetery in the churchyard of the old Saint Joseph’s church in Somerset. Taking a look at the seven hundred thirty eight Saint Joseph’s interments listed on Find A Grave is like taking a walk through my family tree database. Yet, when I check for a listing of all their Flowers burials, the key ancestors I’m seeking aren’t listed on that website. Until I can actually get there, I’ll have to assume that my target ancestor remains hidden there.

The key ancestor I’m seeking is Joseph S. Flowers, senior. It was his wife, Elizabeth Ambrose Flowers, whom I mentioned yesterday—the mother who bore some of the Flowers children in Pennsylvania and some in Ohio. Their son Simon—the one for whom a pre-1820 birth in Ohio is only sometimes supported by government documents—is my husband’s direct ancestor.

If I can find some other sort of indicator that the senior Joseph Flowers was in Ohio prior to 1821, I can apply on behalf of my husband’s family for status as First Families of Ohio members. And yet, finding any such material is proving difficult.

Why? I’ll recount several issues as I review roadblocks to this application in the next few days. In short, besides the pre-1850 census configuration, I’m struggling with naming issues, spotty baptismal records for the early years of the local church, property ownership issues, and discerning proper repository jurisdiction for early government records as Perry County itself was not formed until 1818.

I’ll most likely be revisiting these issues with fellow researchers among our distant Flowers relatives. With the large families replicated over several generations of this Ohio family, I can assure you that there are several descendants also researching this family and its many related branches. That is one positive note for which I’m thankful: the many helpful, friendly distant cousins I’ve met online and worked with for the past two decades. This project may also call for me unearthing those storage boxes of material I’ve found over the years—as well as revisiting the online forum groups that provided so much help along the way.

Somewhere, in all that data, Joseph S. Flowers of Perry County, Ohio, is in there. All I need to do is find him, and document what I find, before December 31 of this year.

Photograph of Saint Joseph Church, Somerset, Ohio, courtesy Find a Grave volunteer Nancy Ann Mull Buchanan.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not to Make Things Difficult, But…

So we want to certify that our family is eligible to be designated as members of the First Families of Ohio, right? That entails the simple task of documenting descent from a man or woman intrepid enough to settle—before 1821—in what was once the wild and woolly Northwest Territory.

Well, it’s not like the Ohio Genealogical Society is insisting on residence in the area before becoming the Union’s seventeenth state—recognition for that comes with a special 1803 bicentennial pin for Society members whose ancestors were not merely intrepid, but truly trailblazers. This target family—the Flowers family of Perry County—won’t be that special.

There is, however, just that wisp of a notion that qualification for FFO could be in our future. Except for one thing: lack of records. After all, who kept records that far back? Especially for birth? Not the government.

The one set of records I have to rely on for this time period would be church records. True, there are also land records, but those would help only if the direct ancestor signed his name on the dotted line. Those living on and working the land of other family members left no such paper trail.

Of those church records, the earliest baptismal records seem spotty. While someone has been kind enough to transcribe those records and post them online for others to freely access (on this page, scroll down to the second blue subheading labeled, “Transcription”), the listings don’t begin until the year 1818. Our Flowers family supposedly celebrated birthdays dating from before that year.

Keep in mind that these early records were kept by itinerant priests. Actually, the first such records are signed “Edwd Fenwick”—the very man we met during the series concerning P. M. Flannigan, the Irish-born, Michigan-raised pastor of our Stevens family’s Chicago church, Saint Anne. Bishop Fenwick, located in Cincinnati during the time of Pastor Patrick M. Flannigan’s student years, had earlier devoted over a decade to missionary work, traveling throughout both Ohio and Kentucky.

In Perry County, Ohio—home of my husband’s Flowers family ancestors—then-Father Fenwick had blessed the first Catholic Church in Ohio, Saint Joseph Church in Somerset, on December 6, 1818. The transcription of baptisms includes a handful of names for that first year. None of them is surnamed Flowers.

Not many more names add to the list for the following year, although tantalizingly, the list does include some other Flowers family members. As far as I can tell at this point, there are no helpful clues regarding this Flowers family for any of the years leading up to the cut off point of December 31, 1820.

At least, that is, for the specific Flowers line I am researching. You see, I have a dilemma in my preliminary records. Looking at the family of Joseph S. and Elizabeth Ambrose Flowers, let’s take a look at the run of their four sons, beginning with son Joseph S. Flowers, junior, through son George Ambrose Flowers. Son Joseph was born in Pennsylvania in 1811, establishing that this is where the family lived before moving to Ohio. It does take one’s mother being in the same place as the child being born, logic would dictate, and so we can safely assume that where the son was, the parents were likely to be, also.

The next son, Thomas, was born in 1814. For this son, I have a handy report in a secondary source, stating that he was born in Ohio. According to page 405-406 of the 1883 History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Their Past and Present entry for “Thos. Flowers,” he was “born in Muskingum county [part of Ohio] in 1814; came to Perry county in 1820” and the article specified his parents’ names. Likewise in this case, where the son was born, the mother had to be close at hand. At least, I’d presume that meant she was also in Ohio.

Thomas, as fate would have it, is not our family’s direct ancestor. That would be too easy. Ours is the next child, Simon T. Flowers. And here’s the rub: there are records that state that Simon, born 1817, was in Pennsylvania at the time of his birth—not Ohio.

To complete the picture, the next son, George Ambrose Flowers, was also documented to have been born in Ohio. Thankfully, his arrival was before the First Families cut-off date; he was born in 1819. Mom must have been, again, in the vicinity, one would think.

So, does this mean the family commuted between Pennsylvania and Ohio from year to year? Not with the transportation innovations at hand during those times! If it was true that our family's direct ancestor, Simon, was born in Pennsylvania and not Ohio, can I at least assert that his mom—also a direct ancestor—was in Ohio before 1820, by virtue of the necessity of giving birth to other family members, even though they were not of our direct line? Can mom-hood count? By indirect line of reasoning?

Of course, I’ll make sure to do the due diligence dance and find corollary means for staking my claim. But I just wish ol’ Simon would have cooperated and kept his story straight for all the government officials who kept prying into his personal business concerning those key life events.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Next Project: First Families

Now that I’ve got the to-do list for my D.A.R. application laid out in order—and while I await documentation from the various states’ birth, death, and marriage records—I can turn my attention to the other project I’ve been wanting to accomplish: application for First Families status.

While it may seem logical to stick with my Taliaferro records and pursue another Virginia-linked lineage designation, I actually have another program in mind. Using records from my husband’s family, it appears that my mother-in-law’s paternal line may qualify both my husband and my daughter (not to mention several in-laws) to become members of First Families of Ohio.

There are some sticking points—which I’ll discuss in some future posts—but it appears that portions of the family I’m focusing on were residents of Perry County, Ohio, before 1820. It also appears that, checking the Ohio Genealogical Society’s Roster of already recognized First Families, our Flowers family has not already been recorded. So it will be a journey starting from square one. If I can pull it off, I’ll be a trailblazer of sorts.

The requirement for this particular designation is that the applicant’s ancestor “first resided in Ohio by 31 December 1820.” That seems straightforward enough—until one realizes how few documents and records are available from that time period.

Not that there aren’t other options. The Ohio Genealogical Society has several other designations.

Settlers and Builders of Ohio recognizes those whose ancestor resided in Ohio between January 1, 1821, and December 31, 1860. That’s a pretty broad swath of time.

The Society of Civil War Families of Ohio requires service from Ohio in the Civil War—whether for the Union or the Confederacy—between the dates of April 12, 1861, and April 18, 1865. The company served in does not need to be from Ohio, nor is service limited to enlistment in companies. Documented civilian service and service in related capacities (for instance, nursing) are also considered.

Century Families of Ohio is the designation for those whose ancestor who first resided in the state at least one hundred years prior to the date of application, but after January 1, 1861.

With these other options, not only do I have an alternate goal (if my documentation dilemma is not resolved in time), but if what I’ve read in the past about Ohio being the “Crossroads of America” is really the way it was, I should have plenty of company in the application process.

Above right: photograph of the old Perry County Courthouse in Somerset, Ohio, circa 1951. From the Historic American Buildings Survey, courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, via Wikipedia. In the public domain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stole This From a Reliable Source

Just the other day—and just to make sure—someone checked in to say, “You know how to pronounce that, don’t you?” It was fellow blogger Wendy, who stops by to compare D.A.R. notes occasionally. We share an ancestral Virginia in our databases. The main difference between us is that she is still there, while my family left the plantation, oh, say, two hundred years ago.

The pronunciation Wendy was concerned about had to do with a family surname: Taliaferro. Admittedly, when I first heard my mother mention that name during my childhood attempts at drilling her for genealogical contraband (you know, all those family secrets), I remembered the spelling, not the phonetics. That was probably a good thing; it was the surname Taliaferro that I first researched as a newbie who got that early chance to go to one of those big league genealogy libraries. If I had gone by what I would have heard, I never would have found that book with my grandmother’s genealogy printed in it.

As it turns out—and I can thank my Genealogy Angel regarding the education on this matter—what your eyes perceive as “Taliaferro,” your colonial Virginian ears would have received as “Tolliver.”

Go figure.

Believe me, I certainly doubted it the first time I heard it.

Perhaps it was all in the plan of some Genealogical Big Picture for this to happen on my behalf, but shortly after I was educated by The Educated Genealogist, this gospel truth was confirmed by an online messenger. Of course, to which online resource the credit is owed, I cannot say at this point, thanks to an (ahem) overtaxed memory system.

However, in penance for my lack of giving credit where credit is due, I yesterday undertook to retrace my digital steps, and discovered that there was not just one resource to which I owe credit, but two. I have come to the conclusion that, since the race to the finish line for these two online resources was so close, and since I cannot remember which one I stumbled upon first, I need to doubly give credit to whom credit is due.

Sometime during that first cup of coffee on the morning of October first, I noticed a mention about the pronunciation of colonial Virginian names—and then another mention. Both were on Facebook pages—the one belonging to someone we mostly know as Ancestry Anne, the other the domain of the person behind DearMYRTLE. (Now that I look back on the history, the Finding Forgotten Stories Facebook page credited the discovery to DearMYRTLE's Facebook entry. See, I still needed more coffee.)

What each of these genealogy bloggers was referring to was a post on the blog. Quite timely for my case, the title sure caught my eye: “How Did They Say That Name in Colonial Virginia?”

Yeah. That’s what I wanted to know.

In that blog, Nathan Murphy posted a short explanation on September 27 about a piece he had found in an 1895 issue of The William and Mary Quarterly explaining the difference between the spelling and the saying of over one hundred thirty surnames, Virginia style. Handily, to illustrate the point, Mr. Murphy included a chart detailing the variances. He wryly added, “No wonder clerks had problems spelling people’s names!”

No wonder, indeed.

Above right: Adelaide Labille-Guiard, "Portrait of a Woman," oil on canvas, circa 1787; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Smoking Gun

Arriving at the right generation, with the right Zachariah Taliaferro, it looks like I’ve connected the dots between my mother’s maternal line and the patriot that entitles me to D.A.R. membership. With such a long line of ancestors, and such a tedious paper trail, it is nearly breathtaking when I realize how tenuous the connection to this lineage society membership actually is.

My claim to that small part of the glory days of the American Revolution is actually based on one piece of evidence that I, myself, would have considered of a secondary nature. But there it is, accepted and published for all to see within the database of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution: two page numbers in one single, solitary book.

If you are thinking that the book is an index of death records, or some other compendium of vital statistics, think again. This book is not even published by any government entity. And yet, pages two and seventy five hold the very facts that bestow upon me the qualifications for membership.

This smoking gun—the corollary record of my fifth great grandfather’s service on behalf of the fledgling country—was the evidence uncovered by a researcher specializing in Virginia documents. Her name was Lenora Higgenbotham Sweeny. The book in question, known as Amherst County, Virginia in the Revolution, was originally published by the J. P. Bell Company in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1951. A review of the book appeared in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, volume 60, number 2, in April of the following year. The review, for those subscribing to JSTOR, can still be read here. According to Google™ Books, a reprint of the volume was issued by Southern Historical Press in 1998. However, indicates that even the second version of the book is now out of print—although Amazon breathlessly insists that, if you hurry, you may purchase one of the last two copies available here.

For the saner among us who hold the purse strings tightly, this coveted book can be found elsewhere. Thankful as I am for my local public library—and especially for the excellent collection of material compiled there steadily through the years by our county’s genealogical society—our local system does not own a copy of the book. However, for the cost of an hour’s drive to a nearby city’s college library, I may obtain a copy on loan. Or I may simply inquire as to obtaining it through inter-library loan. I suspect I’ll take that route.

Actually, I needn’t take any such route at all. It’s simply curiosity that drives me to seek the volume. For, if you’ve noticed by clicking all the links I’ve provided, each stop along the way in this search has provided editorial notes of the historical import of the book. Evidently, Mrs. Sweeny stumbled upon something quite remarkable in her quest through all those dusty back rooms and courthouse records: long lists of rosters and payrolls from militia and rifle companies, claims for property taken, and pension applications. All for the very county in which my ancestor lived. And I’d like to take a look for myself. There are, after all, two hundred and twelve pages of potential bunny trails to be explored.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Try This Again

Since I’ve discovered I have one more generation to research before achieving my goal of completing D.A.R. paperwork to link with an established patriot, let’s take a look at this senior Zachariah Taliaferro.

For one thing, I already know his namesake and second son is in my direct line.

So what about that father Zachariah? He was a Virginia native, born 1730. Marrying young, he took as his wife Mary Braxton Boutwell in 1749. Together, they raised five sons and three daughters (including, incidentally, one named Sarah, possibly the one for which the younger Zachariah named his own daughter, the future Mrs. Sarah Ann Broyles).

The elder Zachariah, the patriot, removed from his parents’ Williamsburg residence to what in 1761 became Amherst County, Virginia. There, he eventually served as Justice of the Peace. An interesting—albeit unsourced—anecdote provides a sketch of Zachariah Taliaferro's resilient and possibly pugnacious character in his role of public servant. He apparently was not one to back down in the face of what had to be done, no matter what the circumstances.

Zachariah Taliaferro is now duly recorded as a Revolutionary War patriot by virtue of his service in Amherst County, Virginia, as Justice of the Peace, and Member of the Committee of Safety, for which he furnished supplies on behalf of the cause. The categories D.A.R. places his service under are those labeled as Civil Service and Patriotic Service.

Zachariah Taliaferro lived a full eighty years. Though I have yet to ferret out all the legacy that he passed along to his children, I know that he came from a line whose genealogy has been pursued and documented both in printed publications and online in several sources. Son of Captain Richard and Rose Berryman Taliaferro, Zachariah’s ancestors emigrated from the area around London, England. You may hardly expect a name like Taliaferro to have originated there, though—and you are right. If the reports I’ve read are correct, the family name originated in the area of Venice in what is now the country of Italy.

All of which represents a genealogical journey of which, in such (to us) early dates as the 1770s, we pick up on a family history already long in the making. For the current project’s purposes, in seeking to document a connection with a Revolutionary War era ancestor, I’ll need to set aside that temptation to peruse those other tempting family history details and focus on the task at hand: get the rest of the required documentation and complete the D.A.R. application.

Above left: Map, "Campaigns of the American Revolution, 1775-1781" in William Robert Shepherd, Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. Courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Spoke Too Soon

While it is true that my qualification to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution lies with the history of one man named Zachariah Taliaferro, I had stopped just one generation shy of my proper target. Yes, Zachariah Taliaferro—the one born in Virginia about 1759—was himself son of Zachariah Taliaferro. That Zachariah—the father, born in Virginia about 1730—was indeed the man I’ve been searching for.

Thanks to my Genealogy Angel, I already know the D.A.R. Ancestor Number of the right Zachariah Taliaferro. Thanks to the D.A.R. Genealogical Research System—open online for anyone wishing to explore it—the ancestor search index to their extensive set of patriot names (as well as descendants having already stated their genealogical claims) served to set me straight on just who I needed to honor with my application.

In defense of my hasty assumption, young Zachariah was of an age to have served, himself—barely. I’ve read many a history of the time including vignettes in which boys attempted to join themselves to the fighting ranks. But for sake of expediency, it will suffice to stick with the established records and proceed with my application linked to the proper Patriot. The senior Zachariah it will be.

May it also be noted (as I am rather miffed at myself for such a hasty conclusion, and in need of self-justification here) that there are innumerable Taliaferros of an age to be part of the action, winding their way through the Virginia territory. One may find, online, quite a few details on their genealogy—of which I, predictably, take much interest.

The younger Zachariah, it turns out, was the second son of the elder Zachariah. Thankfully, I’ve long since drilled into my mind a tactic to keep the identity of the namesake separate from that of his father: remembering the name of each one’s wife. Father Zachariah claimed as his bride Mary Braxton Boutwell. Son Zachariah was eventually wed to the former Margaret Chew Carter, related somewhat closely (her paternal grandfather’s first cousin) to the Virginia land baron known as “King” Carter—but that’s a bunny trail for another day.

And yet, somehow I missed that generational step. Not good for a discipline so detail oriented. Which makes me quite grateful for that D.A.R. index. It’s always handy to have an authoritative resource for double checking that work.

Above right: Watercolor, circa 1910-1920, by Charles M. Lefferts depicting various Continental Army uniforms; from the Anne S. K. Brown Collection at Brown University, courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Last Link

This whole pursuit of the Broyles family was started with the purpose of completing an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. While I have some details to attend to with each generation, looking over the broad picture, the scene took us from my maternal grandmother in Florida, through her own mother, Sarah Ann Broyles McClellan, to the same Thomas Taliaferro Broyles of Civil War times we’ve been discussing. Though there is a lot more information I’d like to retrieve on the lives of each of these ancestors—particularly my great-great-grandfather, with both his war experiences and his medical training and experience—the time has come to move on and connect with my goal. That goal is to find a link to an already-established patriot record.

With the life of T. T. Broyles, I’m actually one step away from that goal. That is because Thomas was the son of a doctor in the county of Anderson, South Carolina, named Ozey Robert Broyles. Dr. O. R. Broyles took as his wife Sarah AnnTaliaferro—the same “Mrs. S. A. Broyles” as was listed on the envelope we mentioned the other day. Sarah Ann, in turn, was one of the daughters of Zachariah and Margaret Chew Carter Taliaferro of Virginia.

While I still have my work cut out to obtain documentation for each of these generational steps, I’ve already discovered that Zachariah Taliaferro is my target ancestor. He is the one in my mother’s line who qualified as a patriot within the parameters established by the D.A.R.

Of course, I won’t be satisfied until I can learn more about this man—and I’ve already found interesting stories about this family in privately-published genealogies from many years past. That, however is a task I need to do only for myself. I’m a story seeker. I thrive on getting to know the person, not merely the vital statistics.

For now, though, it will suffice to complete the application and submit it to the proper address—and then wait to receive the results.

Above right: The well-known oil on canvas by A. M. Willard, originally entitled "Yankee Doodle," but now generally called "The Spirit of '76," circa 1875; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

He Really Was There

Truth be told, as a high school student, I could not boast that the highlight of my academic day was the subject of history. There might have been an infinitesimal edge to my preference for European history over American history, but all told, neither rated much above the bottom of the stack for my class preferences. The Civil War, in my mind, was a hazy blur of dates, innumerable unrecognizable names and titles, and military minutiae beyond my grasp.

History fared not one bit worse in my college years—nor one whit better.

And here I am now, trying to fathom the names of battles, dates of campaigns, and geographic descriptions of a region of the country I’ve rarely visited—all for the sake of uncovering any trace of ancestor involvement.

It took my husband—the war history enthusiast—to point out the obvious to me. Here I’ve been posting links to listings of military companies, being sure to scour the long readout of names for that one that makes all the difference—the name of my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles. I’ve found records of his enlistment close to the beginning of the conflict. I’ve found listings including his name toward the end of the hostilities.

And yet, I didn’t get it. It didn’t dawn on me exactly what to be present at Appomattox actually meant. The statement, “Paroles signed by Col. A. C. Haskell, 7th S. C. Cav.” didn’t translate in my mind into what had actually taken place under the guise of those words. I just didn’t get it.

“He was there,” my husband incredulously explained to me, not sure why I couldn’t comprehend, “He was there!

“So he was there when they had to admit they lost?” I can be dense about such things, but perhaps it’s because I really hate losing.

My husband assured me it was a big deal—a really, really big deal. Those in attendance actually made arrangements to buyor swipe—furniture from the site of the actual formalities, I’ve read, because of the historical significance of the day.

While my Thomas T. Broyles wasn’t at the actual meeting between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee at Wilmer McLean’s front parlor on April 9, 1865, according to records, he was present at the surrender at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. For this, he and his comrades were spared the disgrace of imprisonment or prosecution for treason. Allowed to keep their horses, their side-arms and their personal baggage—though surrendering their government-issued arms—the men were provided with food rations with which to begin their journey homeward.

While in my mind, this would not be seen as a notable time for those who were defeated, I guess I can admit that this was, no matter which side a man fought on, a moment of great, historic import.

No matter how my ancestor might have felt that day, knowing that I can trace my roots back to someone who stood in that very location at that precise time is an eye-opener to me. If nothing else, it does bring me to the point where I can see history—especially military history—in a much different light than before.

Above right: Lithograph, 1867, "The Room in the McLean House, at Appomattox C. H., in which Gen. Lee Surrendered to Gen. Grant." Print commissioned by Wilmer McLean; at Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D. C.; courtesy Wikipedia, which includes a listing of identification of each subject present; in the public domain.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Beautiful Find

While casting about for more substantiation regarding which colonel my great-great-grandfather served under during the War Between the States, I received one of those emails that simply and elegantly changes everything. Somehow, I’ve always needed my history to become tangible—something that receiving items like the photographs and letters to Agnes Tully did to my appreciation of my husband’s family history.

This email provided me with my “touchable” piece of history. The email itself was simple. The subject line bore the first hint with three exclamation points leading the header. The body of the message was as straightforward: “I found a website selling an envelope…”

One of the readers of A Family Tapestry—known here as “Iggy” for the title of his own blog, Intense Guy—enclosed with that email a couple clickable links. The links were to an online business selling historic stamps and other philatelic collectibles. The business specializes in Confederate Postal History.

There on the first link—you can see it here up until the point at which the item is sold and removed from the listings—is a description for item number 5929:

Soldier’s (due) 10 marking from Army of Northern Virginia, neat encircled rate mark on homemade cover to “Mrs. S. A. Broyles, Anderson C. H., So. Carolina” with mandated soldier docketing of “T. T. Broyles 7th S. C. Cavalry” with further received docketing up the left side “Recd while at Pendleton by the hand of Dr. Mullen Harness Thursday 17th Nov 1864 at Mr. Taylors.” Military records show him as in “B” company, enlisted as a private, but no other details. Regiment was in numerous famous battles including New Market and Appomattox. Bit of black flaps missing, otherwise Fine.

Just as the entry explained, the envelope was indeed from a T. T. Broyles to a Mrs. S. A. Broyles. It aligned so perfectly with the information stored on my family history database: Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, son of Sarah Ann Broyles who lived in Anderson, South Carolina.

Furthermore, I’ve already uncovered records showing this T.T. Broyles to have served in what became the Seventh South Carolina Cavalry. Everything was matching up perfectly to what I’ve already documented.

“So?” you might be thinking, “What’s there to get excited about? There is no new information. We already know this.”

True. Or, I should say, in my mind I know this. But getting to see a token of that reality, transported for me through all the time since the date of that letter in 1864—that’s one hundred forty seven years of time travel—is a totally different type of knowing. Perhaps that’s why some of us thrive on going to museums: it transforms our head knowledge of history into reality. Not that, before this point, the event didn’t happen. It’s just that, once seen, once (in a docent-permitted environment) even possibly touched, it takes on a new kind of realness. That’s a touchable reality, one that holds me in awe of where we’ve all been because of how we connect with our past.

I’ve never taken a fancy to “stamp collecting,” and I don’t suppose I’ll change my ways, even now. But I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have at least laid my eyes on a photograph of this little bit of history—my history—and made a personal connection with the past.

Photograph and item description courtesy of Patricia A. Kaufmann, Professional Philatelist; permission to reprint given in private correspondence October 16, 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the Cavalry: Getting Down to Details

Perhaps every mother needs to face up to the fact that her son entertains dreams of glory which may find their way out into reality when he enlists in the army. I don’t know how young men’s dreams took shape in the 1800s, but as soon as he could after the 1861 start of hostilities, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles grabbed his chance to turn his own dreams into reality. On September 5, 1863—supposedly as soon as he could after school graduation—T. T. Broyles enlisted at McPhersonville, South Carolina. Lieutenant L. J. Walker did the honors, enrolling him as a private in Company A of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen and Horse Artillery.

At some point, Company A combined with Company B, Seventh Regiment of the South Carolina Cavalry, as noted on Thomas Broyles’ service records:
            The 7th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry was formed by the addition of five independent companies to the five companies of the Cavalry Battalion, Holcombe Legion, South Carolina Volunteers, by S. O. No. 65, A. & I. G. O., dated March 18, 1864.
Shortly after that date, on May 27, 1864, newly-promoted Colonel Alexander Cheves Haskell assumed the responsibilities of the Seventh South Carolina Cavalry—a position which he held through the remainder of the war. Haskell’s appointment there replaced the command of Wade Hampton III, ironically later becoming the South Carolina Governor who subsequently saw to it that Haskell received a position as justice on the state supreme court. With his many significant roles in South Carolina military and political history, as well as commerce and transportation, a sizeable collection of Haskell's papers have been preserved and housed at the University of South Carolina library.

While notes concerning the Haskell Papers provide an overview of conditions of war under his command—and thus a bird’s eye view of what my great-great-grandfather may have also been experiencing in part—they, combined with sections of Thomas Broyles’ obituary, serve to introduce some doubt in my mind as to the reliability of the statements contained in that memorial.

I noticed, for instance, the report in the introduction to the Haskell collection:
            Haskell graduated from South Carolina College on the eve of the Civil War, second in his class, and immediately volunteered in the First Regiment…
Tell me, where have I heard such a line before? Could it be that statements like that in Thomas’ report are a popular romanticization of the time period?

            Thomas Broyles graduated from the University of North Carolina at eighteen years of age, and three days later was in the saddle as a member of Heiskell's Cavalry.
The parallel is too uncomfortable for me. Was it just fashionable to say one was so committed to this war that he could hardly await the chance to serve?—well, after graduation from college first, of course.

Then to some of the other facts: why, for instance, would a publication such as the Confederate Veteran misspell Haskell’s name? Editorial sloppiness? Disinterest in proper spelling? A dreadfully caricatured southern drawl? Or was there really another cavalry leader with the surname Heiskell, who just happened to carry the same two initials as Haskell? Why, then, would records—now preserved online—show company rosters detailed under the name Haskell and not Heiskell?

And then there is this little matter of math. Here, I’m hobbled in that I don’t feel entirely confident about Thomas’ birth date. But if he enlisted in the army in 1863, being eighteen years of age at that point would make his year of birth 1845. The birth date I’ve noted on my records was originally received from a footnote in volume one of Arthur Leslie Keith’s History of the Broyles Family (I've since found corollary evidence in the death certificate—though that only provides me a modicum of confidence). If the date given, October 28, 1842, is correct, an enlistment date of September 5, 1863, would put Thomas just shy of his twenty-first birthday. Not the eighteenth.

Bringing Dr. Keith’s long out-of-print manuscript into the conversation introduces another discrepancy: that same source indicates Thomas graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1860. That’s not exactly just a few days away from that September, 1863, enlistment, now is it?

Whatever the case may be—and especially adding the issue of his missing headstone to bolster my resolve—I propose a lot more study should be invested in sorting out the details of this man’s history.

And, above all, never trust an obituary. If ever there was a time to wax eloquent, it is in eulogizing a loved one recently departed. 

Above right: Kurz and Allison, Battle of Cold Harbor, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D. C.; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. Cold Harbor was one of the battles in which Thomas Taliaferro's commanding officer, Col. A. C. Haskell, was injured.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Hunt For More Information

Though the information regarding Thomas Taliaferro Broyles’ burial remains hidden—at least for now—his obituary contains a number of other hints for me to follow. These details, hopefully, will paint a clearer picture of the man.

Proceeding from where we last left the narrative published in the Confederate Veteran in its January 1923 issue, the very next sentence provides enough for two days’ postings:

Thomas Broyles graduated from the University of North Carolina at eighteen years of age, and three days later was in the saddle as a member of Heiskell's Cavalry.
Let’s break that sentence into two parts. I have ulterior reasons for that. First, I’ll have to mount a new learning curve in researching Civil War veterans of that other side of the conflict. I’ve already made the attempt at researching Union veterans when I was working on my husband’s Tully line, coming up with grand family legend but nothing substantiated. In addition, my first foray into searching for the referred-to “Heiskell’s Cavalry” has not proved promising. This, I assure you, will take me time.

As to that first point—regarding educational background—I also hesitate. Today, I think just about everyone knows that the state’s university system is identified by city of campus location. The first thing I thought of when reading this part of Thomas’ obituary was “University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.” But was Thomas’ campus the one at Chapel Hill? At which campus would I begin my search?

Some people might balk at the statement that Thomas graduated from college at the age of eighteen. I’m aware, however, of several historic figures from the colonial period who had attended such institutions as Yale, for instance, at now-unheard-of early ages. Perhaps even in the 1800s, that accomplishment would not be such an anomaly.

And yet, as if to hedge my bets, I thought I’d take a look to see if the University also hosted a preparatory school. While I didn’t find mention of such an arrangement on campus, in reviewing the state’s history of providing public higher education, it appears that the first campus—and the only one at the time of Thomas’ graduation—was that at Chapel Hill.

That is not all there is, as far as Thomas’ education goes. Thanks to one of the readers here—Leah, whose comment included this helpful link—I now have a clue as to where the good doctor obtained his medical credentials: the University of Nashville Medical School, now merged with the better-known Vanderbilt University.

I’m beginning to wonder whether my great-great-grandfather had an obstinate streak to him, though. When I scanned through the online resources for the med school's alumni listings of that time period, once again I’ve had to face up to that “unable to locate” conclusion. For the time being, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles’ academic credentials are as well-hidden as his headstone.

I’m beginning to wonder what else about the man will turn out to be invisible. 

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