The last post (for 2019)

December –the last month of our calendar year.  Short days and long nights.  Holidays include Christmas (honoring birth of Jesus Christ), Kwanzaa (celebrating family, community and culture, primarily in African-American families) and Boxing Day (celebrating the giving of boxes to public and private servants, primarily in the United Kingdom).  For me, December signals a time to reflect on my genealogy goals for the previous 12 months.  How well did I do?

Last January 1, my stated genealogy goals seemed mostly achievable. I did not anticipate any major issues.  My father-in-law’s death on February 17, 2019,  although not totally unexpected, impacted me more than I expected.  My father died in 1998 and my mother in 2007.  My in-laws have been my surrogate parents for the past 12 years. For weeks after his death, I felt mired down. I went through the motions on genealogy projects.  I barely managed to post regularly on my blog. The quality of some posts probably suffered.  Even simple tasks requiring minimal thought, i.e. scanning certificates from a cousin on dad’s side, overwhelmed me.

FYI. My mother-in-law is doing OK. We made it through the summer and winter holidays.  There were tears and happy moments.

Genealogy presented a coping mechanism. Using lessons and skills from the Genealogy Do-Over, I have a well-defined, specific process for reviewing, cataloguing and saving information.  These specific steps help me stay on-target, at least most of the time! Did I occasionally veer off and follow those bright shiny objects that detract from a specific goal?  Oh, yes! But, then, routine took over and I was back on track.sticky note_test

A new project especially helped with grieving. In July 2019, I presented Papa’s sister with copies of the Simmons and Ellerbee scrapbooks. The Simmons scrapbook, presented to Papa in 2013, traced his maternal lineage. The Ellerbee scrapbook, presented to Papa in January 2018, traced his paternal lineage.  I cleaned up source lists and included new information.  The tactile work of cutting and pasting proved therapeutic.

I became more aware of placing ancestors within historical and other perspectives.  For example, I reacted emotionally to the removal of Native Americans from Georgia to make room for my husband’s white ancestors.  I read two books on the topic and one book about the Federal Road between Georgia and Texas. Looking beyond dates and places, I gained a broader view of ancestors’ lives within the context of time periods and places in which they lived.  Consider the impact of local events, such as opening or closing a factory or a major weather storm, on individuals and their community.

I found the “Beyond Kin” project ( ).  The project helps descendants of slaveholders identify and trace their family’s former slaves. My husband’s paternal and maternal ancestors hail from various Southern states and most were slaveholders.  I downloaded the templates and began by entering slaves held by John E. Ellerbee (1808, Georgia – 1877, Louisiana) in 1850 and 1860.  I haven’t done anything beyond these initial steps. Reports to follow!

Overall, I feel like the fog has  lifted and I am again on semi-solid ground.

Death of my laptop computer caused a major, although temporary, setback. Fortunately, we knew the laptop’s end was near.  I had hoped to have a new computer before the old one’s demise. My computer savvy son built me a new desktop computer. What saved me?  Purchase of notebook computer in 2017 and regular, frequent backups to the Cloud and an external hard drive!

Two maternal cousins found my blog in 2018. We stay in contact. We regularly share information and family heirlooms such as pictures.   An unexpected result and blessing!

I pinned a print copy of 2019 goals to the bulletin board in my office. I tried to review these goals at least once a month. As I completed, added or deferred goals, I wrote the information down. These notes provide quick reminders of progress.

Here are my refined 2019 goals and actions taken during the year:

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Continue paper & digital file clean-up. Timeline:  January 2019.  Met- ended major work at end of February 2019.
  2. Defer remainder of work as needed. Some work continued throughout the year, usually to answer a question posed by one of maternal cousins. Goal met.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Purchase notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed certificates, photographs and other memorabilia. DONE.  Purchased dividers for notebooks. Documents placed in appropriate notebook when found  online or in paper files.
  2. Send in husband’s DNA test. NOT DONE.  Purchased kit but did not use.
  3. Continue paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family. Goal MET. More work done on Ellerbee files than Johnson files. 
  4. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family. DEFERRED – Maybe 2020??

Added in 2019:

  1. Copy Ellerbee and Simmons scrapbooks for father-in-law’s sister. COMPLETED
  2. Resume work on scrapbook for extended family member. Work resumed in Summer 2019. Completed and given as Christmas present.

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Priority: Use information from 2010 Posten family history (continued from 2018). NOT DONE. Same goal for  2020 without priority.
  3. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (continued from 2018). Partially  met. Discussed his family tree during visits. Nephew loaned some documents to me. I scanned, copied then returned the documents to him. 
  4. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options for  2020.  (One chapter done in 2018). NOT DONE.  Continue in 2020. Contacted by person from a ‘possibly related’ branch.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted 26 times in 2019.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law). GOAL PARTIALLY MET. Posten-Richards: 0 stories; Tucker-Maurer:  3 stories; Ellerbee-Simmons: 12 stories; Johnson-Reed: 2 stories. Two posts discussed members of all families. Seven posts with no specific family group.
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. GOAL MET.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. NOT MET. Defer to 2020.  
  5. Address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports. PARTIALLY MET. Addressed in 75-90% of posts. In some posts, I discussed one or two criteria. Most of my blog posts are not meant to be the final report on a person or family. In those posts, I acknowledge that the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ criterion has not been met. However, other criteria are likely to have been met. 

General items:

  1. Create master lists of To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family. Begin with Tucker-Maurer and Ellerbee families. Partially met. Began using a color-coded file card system.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month. Partially met. Requested death certificates for Anna Klee Maurer, Anna Katharina Korzelius Maurer and Margaret Tucker (mom’s ancestors). Received first two. All from New York and take 6-9 months.
  3. Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software.   Not Done. Keep same goal for  2020.
  4.  Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution. GOAL MET.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  Attended one free webinar on various topics.
  6.  Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic.   DONE.  Used book as reference. 


Budget Spent (Over)/ Under 2020 Proposal
Archival materials $60.00 $279.37 $ (219.37) $200.00
BMD Records $100.00 $59.00 $      41.00 $120.00
Books $75.00 $34.95 $      40.05 $75.00
Copying $10.00 $25.45 $   (15.45) $25.00
Education $150.00 $0.00 $   150.00 $100.00
Ink/ Printing $50.00 $131.68   (81.68) $180.00
Paper $25.00 $55.45   (30.45) $50.00
Subscriptions- annual $50.00 $288.80 $ (238.80) $290.00
Subscriptions-monthly $560.00 $550.80 $        9.20 $560.00
$1,320.00 $1,425.50 $ (361.50) $1600.00

Average cost per month:  about $118.00.


Met or partially met 14 of 21 goals set for 2019. Seven goals deferred to 2020. Two additional projects completed in 2019.  Overall, I may have been a bit over-ambitious with goals but am satisfied with progress. Over budget by $361.00.  Added two subscription services, paid annually, in 2019.  Two scrapbook projects were not anticipated when preparing 2019 budget.  Increase budget in these areas for 2020.

Next post:   My personal genealogy goals for 2020

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

Catherine D. Brown Ellerbee Barker: The tie that binds

Ellerbee-Powell-Barker Blended families: Part 3

Blended families are not new or unique to the 20th century.  Genealogists regularly encounter men with sequential, multiple wives and women with sequential, multiple husbands.  Widows and widowers often married men and women with children from a previous marriage.  This series began with a  summary of one blended family in the Ellerbee family tree. Next, I told about James T.L. Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah A.C. Daniel. Now comes Catherine Brown, 2nd wife of James T.L. Powell and the tie that binds the Ellerbee and Barker families together.

red scarf bow

Tied Red Scarf.  Original photo by Susan Posten Ellerbee

PROFILE: Catherine Deborah Brown

Born:     19 November 1860, Mississippi (possibly Simpson county)[1]

Married:  22 March 1877 to James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas[2]

Died:     10 March 1944, Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas[3]

Buried: Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas

Parents:  R.L. Brown & Marguerite Puckett (as named on her death certificate)


  1. Katherine Deborah Powell (18 August 1879, Cherokee county, Texas – 9 July 1959, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas)[4]. Married 27 January 1895[5] at Cherokee county, Texas to James Walter Ellerbee (7 December 1872 – 9 September 1942)[6], son of James John Ellerbee and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Hays. Katie and Walter are my husband’s paternal great-grandparents. 6 children: Odie Lesley (1896-1958), Ernest Aver (1897-1951), Evie (1901-1994), Aver I (1906-1928), Ordra (1907-1987), and James Dreebon (1915-1973).  James Dreebon Ellerbee is my husband’s grandfather.  Their stories are for a later post.
  2. William Ball Powell. (19 February 1882, Cherokee county, Texas – 25 January 1960, Cherokee county, Texas).[7] Married about 1905 in Cherokee county, Texas to Maude F. Chumley (18 October 1888 – 22 March 1958), daughter of Tom Chumley and Frances Hagood. [8] William and Maude apparently divorced and Maude remarried to _____________ Conway.   William and Maude had 4 children: Thomas Otis (1906-      ); Madaline (28 March 1908 at Nacogdoches, Texas -27 May 1909)[9]; Muriel (1912 –      ) and Margaret Nancy (7 October 1915 – 25 October 1977), married  to Tommy Ford.[10]
  3. Jessie Powell (27 January 1889 -26 November 1959), [11]. Married 1st on 24 December 1905 at Cherokee county, Texas[12] to John Thomas Beasley (20 October 1873 – 29 March 1918)[13] . Married 2nd on 29 September 1918 to Robert C. Thames. [14] * ( 1873 – before 1930). Married 3rd between 1930 & 1940 to Gust Karl Beyers (25 November 1880, Germany – 25 October 1967,  Lufkin, Texas)[15].  Children: Mattie Beasley (1907 –      ); Alma Beasley (1909 –    ); Thomas Layfeet Beasley (1910 –     ); Homer Beasley (1912 –    ); Nettie Beasley (1914    –     ); Buford Beasley ( 1919 –     ); Harold Thames (1920 –     ).


Catherine’s life spans two centuries and eight decades. Modes of transportation changed from horse-drawn buggies  and wagons to motor cars. Wide availability of electricity markedly changed lives from candles to electric lights and wood stoves to ones powered by gas or electricity.  In-door plumbing generally made life easier.

June, 1870: 10-year-old Catherine Brown in Simpson county, Mississippi with presumed parents, W.P. and Mary J.  Brown.[16]  Her father probably fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Between June 1870 & December 1872: Brown family relocated to Cherokee county, Texas.

March 1877:  17-year-old Catherine D. Brown married James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas. Her parents apparently moved to Texas.

August 1879: Birth of daughter, Katherine Deborah, in Cherokee county, Texas.

June 1880: James & 20-year-old Catherine in Cherokee county, Texas, with her stepsons, Alvey, 14;  J.M, age 12, and Peter, age 9 plus 9 month old daughter, D.C.

February 1882: Birth of son, William B. Powell in Cherokee county, Texas.

January 1889: Birth of daughter, Jessie Powell in Cherokee county, Texas

September 1890: James T.L. Powell dies at DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was probably visiting his son, Peter.  Catherine was now a widow with 3 young children.

September, 1892: Angelina county, Texas. Catherine Brown Powell married Elias Barker, a widower with six children.


Catherine Brown was a Southern girl through and through. Moving to Texas when she was 12 years old, she barely remembered Mississippi before the Civil War. Her daddy followed an oft traveled route from the devastated South to the promise of a better life in Texas.  They possibly lived close to James T.L. Powell, Deborah and their 3 children. In rural Texas, ‘close’ could mean within a mile or two. When she was 16 years old, Catherine married 41-year-old James, now a widower, and assumed care of his sons, now  6, 9 and 11 years old. James had given up teaching school to become a farmer.  The older boys married, began their own families and eventually moved to Louisiana. Three children of her own (Katherine, born 1879; William, born 1882; Jessie, born 1889) enriched Catherine’s life.  An event in Louisiana in 1890 had unforeseen consequences. Alvey Monroe Powell, James’ 1st grandchild, was born to Peter and his wife, Evelyn Spinks. A visit was certainly in order. Whether Catherine and their young children accompanied James is unknown. In September 1890, 65 year old James died in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, where he is buried.  Catherine, now 30 years old, became a widow with three young children. She endured for two years before marrying Elias Barker, a widower with 6 children.

Next in the series:   Elias Barker &  Catherine Brown Powell or Elias Barker & his first wife. To be published in January, 2020.



This is the 3rd  installment of my series about one set of blended families. I followed the outline started with the 2nd  installment – person profile, place in history, narrative story. I found this format on a webpage with scrapbooking ideas. The format helps me to be more concise and to write a more interesting story.

Earlier this year, a Brown family descendant contacted me. The person is a DNA match with my father—in-law. We traded ideas and information about the names of Catherine’s parents.

What I learned:  Writing a narrative that isn’t just reciting facts is challenging. I like the finished result.

What helped:  Previous completed research on the family.

What didn’t help:  Waiting until the last minute to begin the post.  Incomplete research logs and copying of information to RootsMagic tree on my computer.

To-do:  Update information about William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell on home computer.  Create research logs.  BSO for later—follow descendants of William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell.


[1] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[2] “Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[3] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944.

[4] Cherokee county, Texas, certificate no. 36955, Katherine Deborah Ellerbee, 9 July 1959; digital images, Fold 3 (  : viewed, printed, downloaded 4 October 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Austin, Texas.

[5]. Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for Katie Powell  and Walter Ellerbee, 27 Jan 1895,  Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[6]. Cherokee county, Texas, Texas, Death certificates,1903-1982, certificate no. 39161, J.W. Ellerbee, 9 September 1942; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed & downloaded 26 September 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

[7] Find A Grave, database and images (  : viewed 12 November 2019), memorial page for William B. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 91355097, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Wanda Karr Ellerbee, photograph by Wanda Karr Ellerbee.

[8] Bexar county, Texas, Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982, certificate no. 13386, Maude Chumley Conway, 22 March 1958; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed & printed 12 November 2019); Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[9] Find A Grave, database and images (  : accessed & printed 11 October 2019), memorial page for Madaline Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 103081400, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas).

[10] “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed & printed 12 November 2019), entry for Margaret Nancy Powell Ford; citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[11]  “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” digital images, Family Search (     : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019), entry for Jessie Byers, daughter of Tom Powell and Kathryn Brown; citing State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas; Vol. 132, certificates 065501-066000,Nov-Dec, Wheeler_-Bexar counties.

[12]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for J.T. Beasley and Jessie Powell, Cherokee county, Texas.

[13]  “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019); entry for John Thomas Beasley, died 29 March 1918, Wells, Cherokee, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[14]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for Jessie Beasley and R.C. Thomes,  Cherokee county, Texas.

[15]  Find A Grave, database and images (  : accessed and printed 11 October  2019), memorial page for Gust Karl Beyers, Find A Grave memorial no.69403504, citing IOOF Lufkin Cemetery, Lufkin, Angelina, Texas.

[16] 1870 census Catherine. 1870 U.S. Census, Simpson county, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 1, p. 266A, family 486, Catherine Brown age 10; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed & printed 23 January 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_748.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019