Thinking of Thanksgiving

Sharing of my genealogy journey needs a short break. In my next post, I  resume telling the stories of 4 blended families- James T.L. Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah Daniel; James T.L. Powell and his 2nd wife, Catherine Brown; Catherine Brown Powell and her 2nd husband, Elias Barker; Elias Barker and his 1st wife, Euna Barber. 

Thanksgiving in America is generally viewed as a time for family. Many have Pilgrim and /or Native American ancestors in their family trees. Our American holiday originated with a specific event – English immigrants in Massachusetts sharing a harvest celebration with Native Americans. However, one part of the story is often forgotten. The Native Americans taught the  newcomers basic survival skills such as planting crops, caring for plants and eventually, harvesting food. 

The Puritan/ Pilgrim settlement in Massachusetts was not the first European settlement on the North American continent.  Jamestown, Virginia was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims landed.  Early settlements included, but were not limited to:

1565: Saint Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish

1608: Quebec, Canada, founded by the French

1615:  Fort Nassau (New York), founded by the Dutch

Some Native Americans do not view our American Thanksgiving Day favorably. Since Europeans first landed here, we pushed Native Americans from their traditional homes. Some Native American tribes were decimated by illnesses brought by the Europeans. Other tribes were removed to make way for growing numbers of white settlers. Native American rights were largely ignored in treaties.

So, on this day, enjoy time with your family and celebrate the harvest. Give thanks for the sacrifices of all. Oh, yes, one more thing. These holidays are great for seeking help to answer those burning genealogy questions you’ve discovered.  Share your findings.  Print a 1 or 2-page summary for people to take home. Ask if anyone has great-grandma’s death certificate or obituary. Who has the oldest family Bible? Take notes when your uncle tells about an ancestor, especially if he heard the story from one of his grandparents or one of his grandpa’s brothers or  an elderly aunt.  You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn! Remember, too, every family has saints and sinners, scoundrels and heroes.   

To read more about Native American views of Thanksgiving, start with these articles:

“Do Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?”, 19 November2019 (    : accessed 27 November 2019).

Kisha James.  “For me, Thanksgiving is a ‘Day of  Mourning’” Refinery29, 21 November 2016 (    : accessed 21 November 2019.

Nadra Kareem Nittle, “Should we celebrate thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?”.  ThoughtCo, updated 29 July 2019  (  : accessed 23 November 2019).

“What does Thanksgiving mean to Native Americans?” Native Hope (    : accessed 22 November 2019). Blog post, undated.

Have a blessed and happy day!

School teacher, soldier, farmer-James T.L. Powell

Every soldier has a story before they became a soldier. In genealogical research, I sometimes identify people only in terms of their military experience. But, there is more to each person’s story. Previously, I wrote about a Confederate soldier, James T. L. Powell. This post describes James in terms of his other roles — son, husband, father and school teacher and farmer.

Little Creek School house, circa 1870, Buchanan, posted July 11, 2017.  Courtesy Brian Brown/Vanishing North Georgia

Profile: James T.L. Powell & Deborah Daniel (1st wife)

For more information about education in the 1860s:

 “Education during the 1860s,” American Battlefield Trust, no date (   :   accessed 5 November  2019).

Elyse Hoganson,  “The evolution of  schools in Bartow County, Georgia,”  Etowah Valley Historical Society,  no date  (   : accessed 5 November2019).

Brian Tomlin. “Schooling of the 1860s”,  Civil War Blog,  a project of PA Historian,  26 March 2012 (   :  accessed 5 November 2019).


I rewrote this post more often than usual. I just wasn’t happy with my standard recitation of facts and questions. I googled ‘writer’s block’ and found a website, “Warts and All” ( ) with some ideas and templates. I tried one of the templates and liked the relative clean look. The result is this post.  

I still have lots of questions about James and Deborah. I didn’t meet the ‘reasonably exhaustive’ research criterion.   I checked Family Search again for new documents – no results. I checked Internet Archive for books about the histories of Calhoun county, Georgia and Cherokee county, Texas.  I found one book about each with no results for relevant persons with surnames of Powell or Daniel.  Print books are available at libraries distant from me. I searched Louisiana newspapers ( with mixed results, specifically obituaries for Alvey and some of James’ grandchildren. Research about these descendants is not complete.

Unexpected result:  Grandparents of Cora Dowdle  (wife of Alvey Powell) are Stephen Myers Hester and Mary Delphine Fayard. Stephen and Mary are also grandparents of Deedie Bailey Simmons, my husband’s great-grandmother. My husband shares more DNA with Alvey and Cora’s descendants than we thought!

What I learned/ recalled:  Value of using multiple sources. Obituaries often give married names of female siblings and daughters.  More than one way to present information.

What helped:  Previous research about James and Deborah virtually complete with research logs and sources.

What didn’t help:  Stopping to follow-up on James and Deborah’s descendants. Finally realized that I didn’t need to include all information about all descendants for this post. I still can’t confirm Deborah’s death date or place! 

To-DO:  Obtain death certificate copies for Alonzo Powell (died 1940, Louisiana); James M Powell (died 1948, Louisiana) and Peter Powell (died 1955, Louisiana). Add to BSO list – create research logs for Alonzo, James & Peter; learn more about their children. Questions:  Who moved to Louisiana first? What was reason for moving from Texas to Louisiana?  Follow Miles & Mahala Buzby as clue to James’ parentage. Mahala could be related to James. Discover information about Thomas and Eleanor Daniel, presumed parents of Deborah A.C. Daniel.  

Sources for James T.L. Powell, School Teacher

Sumter County, Georgia, Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, 1850-1857, p.218, no. 24, James T.L. Powell, Deborah A.C. Daniel, 28 June 1857; digital images, University System of Georgia, Georgia Archives (      : accessed,downloaded, printed 24 March 2017); Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd Distric, p. 139 (stamped), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (   : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

National Archives & Records Administration, “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia,” digital images, Fold3 (   : accessed, printed, downloaded 8 October 2018), entry for Powell, James T.L., 18 pages; citing NARA M266. “Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Georgia units, labeled with each soldier’s name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier.” Roll 0366.

1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 626, p. 55 (ink pen, p. 585 (stamp), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (   : accessed, downloaded. printed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

“Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002,” database, Ancestry (   : accessed 1 November 2019), entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county; citing county courthouse records  extracted from copies of original records in microfilm, microfiche, or book format.

1880 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct no. 8, enumeration district (ED) 19, p. 1 (ink pen); p. 447A (stamp), dwelling 6, family 6, D.C. Powel age 9/12; digital images, Ancestry (   : viewed, downloaded, printed 26 December 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1295.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019