Pearls in a Probate Record

Census records are not the only documents that tell about a person’s children. Following sons through the years via census records is usually not too hard, especially if the son remained in or near his birthplace. Daughters are more challenging.  If the daughter married, what was her husband’s surname?  A marriage record is the record of choice to discover that information. What if you can’t find a marriage record?  Answer:  Look for  probate records of one or both parents. This post discusses what I found, and did not find, in the probate record for John E. Ellerbee who died in 1884.

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What does a probate record include?  “Probate records are court records generated after someone’s death.”[1] Wills and estate papers are usually part of these files.  Property assessments show the value of real estate and personal property owned by the deceased.  In a will, the person describes how his or her property is divided—who gets what.  Discern the strength of relationships from the will.  “To my son, Elias, I give $5.00 and a mule” suggests a different relationship between Elias and his father than “To my son, Elias, I give 50 acres of bottom land near Nancy Creek, 1 bull, 2 milk cows, a wagon, and 2 mules.”  Proceeds of a property auction offers glimpses of item values at the time.

A probate record often includes the names of family members and relatives as well as their current residence.  Of particular interest are the married surnames of daughters and, sometimes, the names of their husbands. A daughter may be listed as “Mrs. Mary Townsend”   or “Mrs. Joe Townsend”.  The 2nd example requires further analysis to determine which of the three daughters married Joe Townsend. A list of daughters, their married surnames and/or names of husbands helps to confirm information found earlier but listed as ‘tentative’.

The probate record for John E. Ellerbee[2] provided answers to some questions, confirmed some previously discovered information and generated more questions.  John’s son, Worth Marion Ellerbee, filed as administrator for his father’s estate in July, 1886.

Question 1:  When did John E. Ellerbee die?

Answer: John was alive in 1880[3]. The marital status of his wife, Martha, was recorded as ‘widow’ in 1885.[4]  John died between 1880 and 1885. The probate record gave a specific date:  “John Ellerbee, late of the County aforesaid [Hillsborough County, Florida] died on the 6th day of April A.D. 1884. . . . “[5]

Question 2:  Where were John’s children at the time of his death?

Page 21 of the probate file provides a list of 11 children: [6]

“The following persons are heirs of said Estate to wit:
S.L. Ellerbee, residence unknown
J.N. Ellerbee, residence Hillsborough Co, Fla
Emiline D. Simpson, wife of Samuel Simpson, residence unknown
Heirs of Martha Edenfield, deceased, residence Jackson Co. Fla
Candis R. Dudley, wife of Geo Dudley, residence Jackson Co. Fla
Eliza Carter, residence Hillsborough Co. Fla and
W.M. Ellerbee, petioner [sic]
P.A. Stewart, wife of John Stewart, residence Hillsborough Co. Fla
Ocea P.A. Ellerbee
Lewis Sparkman, husband of Smithiann, his deceased wife,
residence Hillsborough Co. Fla
and John Francis Ellerbee."

One son, Smith R. Ellerbee, 2nd oldest child, is missing from this list. Smith was recorded with his parents in 1850[7] and 1860[8].  I wonder if Smith R. Ellerbee died between 1860 and 1884?

What about children listed in the probate record?

  1. “S.L. Ellerbee, residence unknown”. The 1885 census records Sandlin Love Ellerbee and his wife, Mary Jane (Grantham), living in Washington County, Florida.[9]
  2. “J.N. Ellerbee, residence Hillsborough Co, Fla.” Identified as Jasper N. Ellerbee. Married and living with wife, Jane (Hanna), and their two children in Hillsborough County, Florida according to 1885 census.[10]
  3. “Emiline D. Simpson, wife of Samuel Simpson, residence unknown.” A.K.A. Damarus E. Elerbee on 1860 census.[11] Given name spelled Demarius Emeline. They lived in Jackson County, Florida in 1880[12].
  4. “Heirs of Martha Edenfield, deceased, residence Jackson Co. Fla.” Implies that Martha died before her father. Richard F. Edenfield and Mattie Ellerbee. Married in 1872. [13] Last recorded census for Mattie was 1880. [14]
  5. “ Candis R. Dudley, wife of Geo Dudley, residence Jackson Co., Fla.” George Dudley and Candis Ellerbee married in 1872. [15] 1885 census confirms this family’s residence. [16]
  6. “Eliza Carter, residence Hillsborough Co. Fla.” Married Jesse Carter.  1885 census confirms this family’s residence. [17]  Also listed with them is “M. Ellerbee, female, white, age 68,  boarder” who is presumed to be Eliza’s mother, Martha Love Ellerbee.
  7. “W.M. Ellerbee”. Worth Marion Ellerbee. Living in Hillsborough County per 1880 census.[18]
  8. “P.A. Stewart, wife of John Stewart, residence Hillsborough Co, Fla”. K.A. Icey P.A. Ellerbee, twin sister of Ocea P.A. Ellerbee.  Her marriage information was new to me.  Married between 1880 & 1885.
  9. “Ocea P.A. Ellerbee”. Twin sister of Icey P.A. Stewart. Icephenia and Osephenia, aged 21, were still with their parents in 1880.[19]
  10. “Lewis Sparkman husband of Smithiann, his deceased wife, residence Hillsborough Co. Fla.” I didn’t know about Smithiann earlier.  Smithiann, her husband, and 2 children lived close to her brother, Jasper, in 1885.[20]  I estimate Smithiann’s death date as between 30 June 1885 (census date) and October 1886 (date on probate record, page 9).
  11. “John Francis Ellerbee.” No records found after reference in probate record.

In summary,  I found 1885 residence for one child (Sandlin), confirmed residences for 6 children (Jasper,  Emeline, Candis, Eliza, Icey, Smithiann).  Two children (Martha and Smithiann) died before their father.  The circa 1885 residences of four children  (Demarius, Worth Marion, Osephenia, John Francis) need to be discovered as well as the residence of Richard Edenfield.

Missing from the probate record:

  1. John’s widow, Martha. Did she die between June 1885 (date of census) and October 1886 (date on probate record, page 9)?  Place item on To-do list.
  2. John E. Ellerbee’s 4 children (presumed) with his first wife.  None of their heirs were mentioned.  Were the families notified about John’s death? At least 3 of the 4 children died before their father. Perhaps distance and the step-sibling relationships proved too much?   William Green Ellerbee’s widow and her family lived in Louisiana. Edward Alexander Ellerbee’s widow lived in Randolph County, Georgia with her children. James John Ellerbee’s widow moved to Cherokee county, Texas, about 1881 with her children. I haven’t found any records for Elizabeth Ellerbee after 1850.

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Reflection

I initially found John’s probate record on Ancestry in 2016 but didn’t take time to read all pages.  I had copied a few pages for my paper files.  Genealogy Do-over efforts for this year are the Ellerbee and Johnson families, my husband’s ancestors. I was pleasantly surprised at the list of children even though I have seen such lists on other probate records.  Using the probate list, I learned about two daughters (marriage of Icea P.A.; existence and marriage of Smithiann) and confirmed information about others.  I am very tempted to follow descendant lines.

What I learned:  Look at all pages in a record!  Continue to use published family history as a base only. Acknowledge contribution of book’s author and recognize that it may have errors.

What helped: Previous work done between 2010 and 2016. Familiarity with RootsMagic database and revised research log format.

What didn’t help:  Lack of documentation for specific items. Little or no record of previous analysis.

To-do: Continue search for death location and date for Martha Love Ellerbee. Focus on Hillsborough County, Florida records between 1885 and 1900. Confirm death of Mattie Ellerbee Edenfield between 1880 and 1886.  Confirm death of Smithiann Ellerbee Sparkman between June 1885 and October 1886. Create research logs for children of John & Martha Ellerbee.   Set searches for information about Smith R. Ellerbee as BSO for now.

SOURCES: 

[1] Kenyatta Berry, The Family Tree Toolkit (New York City, Skyhorse Publishing, 2018), p. 81.

[2] Probate record for John E. Ellerbee. “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com  ::  accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee; citing “Florida, Willas and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Hillsborough county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 5, enumeration district (ED) 061, p. 33 (ink pen); p. 407C (stamp), dwelling 402, John Ellerbee age 72; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 128.

[4] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, J L Carter age 37 head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885, National Archives microfilm publication M845, roll 4.

[5] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, page 4.

[6] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, page 21.

[7]  1850 U.S. Federal Census, Baker County, Georgia, population schedule, District 3, p. 49 B (penned), dwelling 1111, family 141, Smith Ellerbee, age 5; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com       :  printed, downloaded 3 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll M432_61.

[8] 1860 census.   1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, population schedule, District 3, p. 42 (ink pen), dwelling 289, family 289, Smith R. Elerbee, age 15; digital images, Ancestry ((http://www.ancestry.com     : viewed & downloaded 3 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M654_113.

[9] Sandlin Ellerbee, 1885 State Census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, , [no page number] D, dwelling 139; microfilm publication M845_13, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

[10]  1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 33, J.N. Ellerbee 39, head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885, National Archives microfilm publication M845, roll 4.

[11]  1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, population schedule, District 3, p. 42 (ink pen), dwelling 289, family 289,  Damarus E Elerbee, 11.

[12]  1880 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 7, enumeration district (ED) 69, p. 8 (ink pen), dwelling 68, family 68, Samuel Simpson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 29 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C .microfilm publication T9, roll 559.

[13]  “Florida Marriages, 1837-1974,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org  :   February 2018), Richard F. Edenfield and Mattie Ellerbee, 27 Jun 1872; citing Jackson, Florida; FHL microfilm 0931955 V. D-E.

[14] 1880 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, , Martha Edenfield age 31; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 29 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C..

[15]“ Florida, County Marriage Records, 1823-1982,” database, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com:  accessed 6 January 2018), entry for George Dudley & Candis Ellerbee; citing Marriage Records. Florida Marriages. Various Florida County Courthouses and State Archive, Tallahassee, Florida..

[16]  1885 State Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, , p. 9A (ink pen), dwelling 71; microfilm publication M845, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D. C.

[17] Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, J L Carter age 37 head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885, National Archives microfilm publication M845, roll 4.

[18]  1880 U.S. Census, Hillsborough county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 5, enumeration district (ED) 061, p. 406A (stamp), p. 33 (ink pen), dwelling 383, family 387, Worth M. Ellerbee; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded 4 June 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 128.

[19] 1880 U.S. Census, Hillsborough county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 5, ED 061, p. 33 (ink pen); p. 407C (stamp), dwelling 402, Osephenia Ellerbee, age 21; Isephenia Ellerbee, age 21.

[20] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 33, L C Sparkman 30.

A case of mistaken identity

The name on the state death index is the same. The woman died in the same county where my ancestor lived.  If the death date is correct, then she was over 100 years old. Possible?  Yes.  Post the information to online family tree and mark it as tentative. Others copy the information but leave out ‘tentative’.  Add ‘order death certificate’ to my to-do list. Three years later, I finally retrieve her file.  It’s time to follow-up.

Is Martha Catherine Ellerbee, who died in 1929, actually Martha Love Ellerbee?

In 2016, I found this listing on the Florida Death Index[1]:

                Name                                    Place       Sex      Col.         Vol.        Number         Year

Ellerbee, Martha Catharine         Tampa         F           W           459         16971            1929

Tampa is in Hillsborough county, Florida.  Before ordering her death certificate, I reviewed the records and information already in my file about Martha Love Ellerbee.  I remembered that Martha certainly lived in Hillsborough county, Florida.

Martha Love married John Ellerbee in 1842 in Randolph County, Georgia. [2] By 1850, John, age 42, and Martha, age 26, lived in Baker county, Georgia.  [3]  The census record lists 8 presumed children- Edward, age 19; Elizabeth, age 14; James, age 12; Sanderlin, age 6; Smith, age 5; Jasper, age 4; not named female, age 3; and Martha, age 2. Birthplaces ranged from Houston county, Georgia for the first three to Randolph county for Sanderlin and Smith to Baker county for the others.  Given estimated birth years and Martha’s marriage to John in 1842, she would not be the mother of Edward, Elizabeth, and James.  Martha’s estimated birth year of 1824 suggests that she was about 18 years old when she married John.

Note1_May2019_post2 The year 1860 finds John E. Ellerbee, age 52, and Martha, age 36, in Calhoun county, Georgia. [4] Six more children were added to the family.  Ten years later, John Ellerbee, age 63, and 47-year-old Martha lived in Jackson county, Florida with nine children. [5]  The family moved again by 1880, now living in Hillsborough county, Florida. [6]  John’s recorded age was 72 and Martha’s recorded age was 56. Four separate censuses, conducted 10 years apart, reveal  consistent birth information about John and Martha.  John was born circa 1807-1808 in Georgia . Martha was born circa 1823-1824 in North Carolina.

John Ellerbee died in Hillsborough county, Florida, on 6 April 1884.[7] Martha was now a widow.  Individual states, including Florida, conducted a census in 1885. The census taker recorded M. Ellerbee, age 68, boarder, widow, living with the J.L. Carter family in Hillsborough county, Florida in June 1885. [8]  J. L. Carter is Jesse L. Carter, husband of Eliza A. Ellerbee.  Eliza, born about 1855 in Georgia,  is listed on the 1860 and 1870 censuses with her parents, John and Martha. On the 1885 census record,  Martha’s birthplace is reported as North Carolina, consistent with previous records.  The only inconsistency is her recorded age of 68 which suggests birth year about 1817. Although her first name is not recorded, I believe that ‘M. Ellerbee, 68, boarder, widow, born N.C.’ is Martha Love Ellerbee, mother of Eliza A. Ellerbee and 11 other children.

Note2_May2019_post2Worth Marion Ellerbee (1856- 1932) filed as administrator of his father’s estate in Hillsborough county, Florida on 24 July 1886.[9] Why did he delay two years to file?  Did he wait until his mother died?  The probate records do not mention Martha Ellerbee,  John’s widow.  Did Martha die between June 1885 and July 1886?

I have not found any records for  70+ year old Martha Ellerbee after the June 1885 census. Online searches included multiple databases of census and death records as well as newspapers.  I now come  full circle to the 1929 Florida Death Index entry for Martha Catherine Ellerbee.[10]   The answer is obvious – obtain a copy of the death certificate.

Fortunately, a copy of Florida Death Certificate number 16971 for Martha Catherine Ellerbee was available online. [11]  Pertinent information includes:

Martha Catherine Ellerbee. Single.
Date of birth: Feb’y 25, 1911.
Age: 18 years, 8 months, 27 days. 
Birthplace: Pasco county,Fla.
Father: Marion Ellerbee, Birthplace Ga.
Mother: Ruby Kersey, Birthplace: Fla.

Her father was Worth Marion Ellerbee, son of John E. Ellerbee and Martha Love.  Big sigh!  This Martha Catherine Ellerbee was NOT Martha Love Ellerbee.

I removed the reference to 1929 death of Martha Love Ellerbee from online family tree.  I added the information to Martha Catherine Ellerbee, daughter of Worth Marion Ellerbee.  Martha Love Ellerbee died after June 1885, probably in Hillsborough county, Florida. The search continues to confirm exact date and place.

To summarize, an entry on the Florida Death Index led to review of previous information found for Martha Love Ellerbee.  A copy of the death certificate, found online, confirmed that Martha Catherine Ellerbee, who died in 1929, was NOT Martha Love Ellerbee.

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REFLECTION

I was disappointed that I did not death information for Martha Love Ellerbee.  If she died in 1929, she would have been about 105 years old, which is possible.  Not finding information for her after 1885 means only that she died after June 1885. No mention of her  in husband’s probate suggests that she died before July 1886. Since her husband died in Hillsborough county, Florida, and many of her children continued to live there, I believe that she died in Hillsborough county.

What I learned:  Post information as ‘tentative’ (preferably in BIG RED LETTERS) if not confirmed. Keep copious notes when and where information is found as well as analysis. A Research Log is a good place for this.  New information requires careful review of previous information.

What helped: Previous work on this family from 2010-2011 and again in 2016. Paper copies of documents.

What didn’t help:  Research logs just now being done for this family. Inconsistent notes/ analysis of previous findings.

TO-DO: Keep looking for Martha Love Ellerbee’s death information.  Review previously searched databases again. Look for unusual sources such as newspapers and county history books.

NEXT BLOG:  John Ellerbee’s Probate record

SOURCES

[1]  “Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, printed 23 October 2016), entry for Martha Catherine Ellerbee, 1929; citing Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.

[2]  “Georgia, Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1828-1978,” marriage record, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 5 January 2018), entry for John Ellibee & Martha Love; citing  County Marriage Records, 1828–1978; The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[3] 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Baker County, Georgia, population schedule, District 3, p. 49 B (penned), dwelling 1111, family 141, John E. Ellerbee; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 3 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll M432_61.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, population schedule, District 3, p. 42 (ink pen), dwelling 289, family 289, John E Ellerbee; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 3 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M654_113.

[5] 1870 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Marianna, p. 54 (ink pen), dwelling 586, family 587, John Ellerbee age 63; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 3 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_130.

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Hillsborough county, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 5, enumeration district (ED) 061, p. 33 (ink pen); p. 407C (stamp), dwelling 402, John Ellerbee age 72; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 128.

[7]  “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee; citing “Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee

[8] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, J L Carter age 37 head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, printed, downloaded 1 May 2019); citing “Schedules of the Florida State Census of 1885”, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M845, roll 4.

[9]  “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee.

[10]  “Florida Death Index, 1877-1998,” digital images, Ancestry, entry for Martha Catherine Ellerbee, 1929.

[11] Hillsborough county, Florida, Florida Deaths, 1877-1939, , entry for Martha Catherine Ellerbee, 21 November 1929; digital images, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FP3Z-FN4  :   viewed & printed 5 May 2019); citing Tampa, Hillsboro Co., Florida, reference volume 435, no. 16971.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots, 2019

Do-over for another branch

Spring 2017. My genealogy files are a mess!  20+ years and multiple family lines. Duplicates and large gaps are everywhere! Where and how do I clean this up?  Hmmm- a magic wand?  Wave the wand and files are in order with complete documentation. Digital items have easy to recognize labels.  Family tree on my computer follows current standards. Data analysis is still up to me. Well, I don’t have a magic wand but I did find The Genealogy Do-Over.[1]   I ordered the book and signed up on the website for monthly guides. This post reflects my thoughts as I begin the do-over process in earnest for husband’s family tree.  magic wand emoji

How did I start? Developed a global plan then applied the plan to specific family lines.  Color-coded paper files for primary branches became first priority. I reviewed record keeping forms and decided which ones to use. I had recently changed to RootsMagic for my computerized databases. A planned genealogy field trip and family reunion in Pennsylvania, Dad’s home state, directed one choice.  His family tree provided the perfect venue to reexamine old skills, learn new skills and clean up digital data. Mom’s family tree became my focus for 2018. I continue to refine the process.

Now, I turn to my husband’s parents (father- Ellerbee/ Simmons; mother- Johnson/ Reed) and begin again. Green file folders hold Ellerbee family data. Red file folders hold Johnson data. Standard forms appear in most files although data may not be complete. Digital file clean-up has been hit-and-miss as I prepared a scrapbook and wrote a few blog posts.  Research logs started and/or completed?  Zero. The process begins again.

NOTE:  2019 goal says: “Begin paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”  Change to:  “CONTINUE paper and digital clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”

My initial reaction was “What a disaster!” Then, I remember the much improved content now in my parents’ digital and paper files.  Preliminary work is done for husband’s family.  Now comes the detailed and sometimes tedious work of review, analysis and documentation.

Start with current generation and work back in time. Generations 1 and 2, including siblings, are up-to-date. I have basic information on direct line ancestors. I followed the same sequence more-or-less with my parents’ families, i.e., direct line ancestors first with occasional side trips to collateral relatives.

What prompted my decision to learn more about a specific collateral relative? The receipt of vintage pictures from a cousin was one reason. Review of early notes and questions about previous findings suggested new directions. Online comments or an email from a distant cousin led to seeking more details. Information about one person revealed a tantalizing clue about another person. And, I was off in pursuit of the next person! In a few cases, I just wanted to know when a person died and/or if they married.

family tree branch logo_mine2I recently received an information request from an Ellerbee distant cousin.  I have an original source that she didn’t have. I scanned and sent the relevant information. In return, she shared information about her direct ancestor, a sibling of husband’s direct ancestor.  I love the give and take of genealogy!!

Now comes my dilemma. Do I start with husband’s direct line great-great-great grandfather and work forward?  Or, do I follow the more standard procedure of working from husband’s grandparents back?  Working forward from John Ellerbee (born about 1808, Georgia) seems more glamorous. This path shines brightly with possible detractors that could easily derail my plan. Starting with Ellerbee grandparents appears to be a straighter and better lighted path with fewer shiny pebbles as detractors.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists[2] offers some guidance. One genealogy research standard addresses “efficient sequence.”  Specifically, “Research plans specify the order for examining resources. These sequences give priority to efficient discovery of useful evidence.” The term “efficient discovery” stands out for me. Which procedure will enable me to discover information in the most efficient manner? In general, more current information is easier to discover. The straighter path seems less exciting but still leads to important results.

Answer seems obvious- start with Ellerbee grandparents. (Big Sigh!).  Last week, I found a probate record for John Ellerbee.[3] The record lists children’s names including married surnames of daughters. One entry confirmed information provided by distant cousin about her ancestor. Detour!  I created research logs for John and his two wives. Citation revision continues in database. I note questions and observations for later follow -up.  When this is done, I will return to the more recent past and pick up with Ellerbee grandparents.

Now that I’ve started, I feel less overwhelmed. Thanks for listening!

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REFLECTION

I used this post to explore my current dilemma. Writing helped to defuse my sense of despair about the status of the Ellerbee and Johnson files. I admit to applying Genealogy Do-Over principles inconsistently and rarely to these files over the last few years.

Recent family death and another family emergency greatly affected my motivation to work on genealogy over the last 4-5 months. I have kept up with genealogy blogs.

What I learned:  Journaling is a way to think through a dilemma. Remembering positive results from application of Genealogy Do-Over principles to my parents’ family trees. Specifically, careful review of documents revealed previously unknown information and presented new insights. I am leaving a better legacy for later genealogists.

What helped: Writing this post. Previous experience with Genealogy Do-Over principles. Having standardized format for record keeping. Color coded files in place. Knowledge of both family lines from previous research. Some clean-up of Ellerbee and Johnson files is done.

What didn’t help:  Personal frustration.

To-do:  Complete work on John E. Ellerbee with currently available information. Leave questions for another time. Focus on Ellerbee grandparents next. Follow research plan including documentation.

SOURCES

[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019);  digital images, PDF version.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2nd ed.. (Nashville, TN: Turner  Publishing Company, 2019), page 13.

[3]  “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, 1 Dec 1886, file 73, Hillsborough County; citing “Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

A Death in the Family

My post this week is very short. One week ago today, a family member died. Jerry Donald Ellerbee, aged 81 years, 1 month, 1 day, died on 17 February 2019. He died peacefully in his sleep at home. I am blessed to have known Jerry as my father-in-law.  His commitment to family reaches far.

Ellerbee_Jerry_D_marker1

When I was a novice genealogist, Jerry shared many stories of his family, especially the Ellerbee side. I remember walking the Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Texas, with him. He pointed out graves of many relatives and knew exactly how all of the distant cousins were related to him. I am the proud owner of an Ellerbee family history because of him.

SOURCE: Ronald William Ellerbe. The Ellerbe Family History. Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1986.

Jerry related that he knew his maternal grandfather’s name, Clay Simmons, but little else about the Simmons family.  So, I decided to find out for him. In 2014, my husband and I traveled to east Texas as part of that search. We discovered that the Simmons family had migrated to Texas from Alabama just before the Civil War. Migration of Simmons FamilyI even found an Oklahoma connection. Jerry’s  third cousin, Gappa Malachi Rushing,  moved to Oklahoma before statehood and practiced medicine in Durant, Bryan county, Oklahoma.  For Christmas, 2014, I gifted a scrapbook about his Simmons ancestors to Jerry. page 93_John E Ellerbee legacy_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

I promised Jerry that I would do more research about the Ellerbee family.  For his 80th birthday, Jerry received that scrapbook about the Ellerbee family. It was my privilege to share the information with him.

 

It’s been a long week for all of us left here. So, here’s my brief tribute to Jerry Donald Ellerbee, my father-in-law. Thank you for sharing your family stories with us. Thank you for the honor of being your family’s genealogist.

Susan Posten Ellerbee, daughter-in-law

©Susan Posten Ellerbee & Posting Family Roots Blog, 2019

 

 

Evaluating sources: Pre-1850 census records

“I finally found a census record for my ancestor! At least, I think it’s for my ancestor!”  As a genealogist, you know the feeling, especially when the census record is from 1840 or earlier. The name looks right with only a slight spelling variation. Location, at least the county, is consistent with other records. But, is this really your ancestor’s family?

1840 U.S. Census_Baker Co_GA_Wm Bailey I_Wm Bailey II

Image of 1840 U.S. Census, Baker county, Georgia, page 35

In this blog post, I briefly describe content of United States census records from 1790 to the present. Next, I present two tools for evaluating information found in pre-1850 census records. Examples are from my own family tree.

For your files, download blank copies of federal census forms from National Archives, Resources for Genealogists, Charts and Forms:  NARA Charts and Forms

Brief history of U.S. census records

To recap, information found on the federal decennial United States Census varies. From 1790 to 1840, censuses listed only heads of household. In 1790, enumerators requested name of the head of household then the number of persons in each of five gender and age categories:

  • Free White males aged:
    • under 16 years
    • of 16 years and upward
  • Free White females
  • Other free persons
  • Slaves

The complexity of census questionnaires increased until more than 50 categories appeared in 1840. [1]

Beginning in 1850, separate schedules listed free persons and slaves.  Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, listed each person in the household. Instructions to enumerators stated [2] :

The names are to be written, beginning with the father and mother; or if either, or both, be dead, begin with some other ostensible head of the family; to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers and borders, laborers, domestics, and servants.

The person/s listed after the head of household (HOH) may or may not be related to the HOH. In many cases, you can presume that younger persons are children of older persons. Seek other sources to prove the relationships.

For those with Native American and/or slave ancestors in 1850, the census is not complete.  “Indians” (a.k.a. Native Americans) who were not taxed were not counted at all.  A separate schedule (Schedule 2) recorded slave inhabitants by gender and age under their owner’s name.  The Census Mate format (discussed later in this blog) may help.

Beginning in 1880, enumerators listed the relationship of each person to the head of household. Current practice involves a mailed census form to be completed and returned.  Some households are then chosen randomly to complete more detailed questionnaires.

Evaluating and deciphering information in the pre-1850 census records

Tool #1:  Four-step research strategy

Source: Barry J. Ewell, “Four-step research strategy for pre-1850 U.S. Federal Census,” Genealogy by Barry, 13 February 2016 (http://genealogybybarry.com/genealogy-four-step-research-strategy-for-pre-1850-u-s-federal-census/  :  accessed 23 September 2018).

This strategy is useful if you have, at minimum, an 1850 census record.

The steps are:

  1. Create a family profile using from 1850 census.
  2. Subtract 10 years from each person’s age.
  3. Apply the 1840 race/sex/ age category combination to each person.
  4. Build a household search for the household in the 1840 census.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for each census year from 1830 to 1790.

The created household search criteria are then used to search online databases. I applied this strategy to a family from my extended tree:

Step 1:  1850 census, William Bialey [Bailey].[3]

  • Bialy, William              W M    age 75     Birthplace: NC
  • Bialy, Siety                    W F     age 65     Birthplace: NC
  • Bialy, Winny                 W F    age 22      Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA
  • Bialy, Benjamin            W M   age 20     Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA
  • Bialy, Nancy                 W F    age 17     Birthplace: Wilkinson co, GA

Given ages of William and Siety, the younger persons are probably their youngest children but could also be grandchildren.

Steps 2 & 3:   1840, gender/ age categories  would be:

  • William           age 65            M, age 60-70
  • Siety                age 55             Fe, age 50-60
  • Winny              age 12            Fe, age 10-15
  • Benjamin         age 10            M, age 10-15
  • Nancy              age   7             Fe, age 5-9

Step 4:  Household search, 1840 census, Baker county, Georgia. Found three entries for William or Wm Bailey. Only one record listed a male, age 60-70 and a female, age 50-60. [4] Total of 9 younger persons: 2 males 10-14 (Benjamin +1) ; 1 male 15-19; 3 males 20-29; 1 female 5-9 (Nancy); 2 females 10-14 (Winny + 1)

Gender and age categories fit categories determined in Step 3. As expected, more children were living with William and Siety in 1840.  Continue with 1830 census. Identify names of other children and approximate birthdates from other records.  Add these children to current record as discovered. See example:    Wm Bailey 1840 census with names

Helpful hints:   gg62755812Mr. Ewell presents more helpful census tips in a January 17, 2018, post, “190 Genealogy Articles to help you search the US Census.”   http://genealogybybarry.com/category/3-genealogy-rsh/census-rsh/

ADDENDUM: After locating a census record that appears to fit your family, continue by writing  names, ages, and other information on the printed record.  Add names and ages gleaned from other records. Use colored ink or pen to identify questions such as “Unknown daughter, born 1820-1825.” Here is another example with unknowns and  questions added: 1810 Census example 2_John_Creager

Tool #2:  CensusMate Worksheet

What if you don’t have an 1850 census for the family?  Are you trying to narrow down birth years and you only have pre-1850 census records? CensusMate worksheet may be your answer.

Developed by John L. Haynes, this pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet uses a “timeline format to find ages, names, and birthdates from 1790 -1850 Census Data.” [5]  Add the numbers for each category in the designated spaces, males first, then females. Don’t leave blanks; add a zero if there are no persons in a specific category.  There is space to add names and other information although the space is limited.

This example is from my dad’s family tree.  Is Richard Postens father of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Postens who was born in 1782? I entered gender/age category numbers from 1800, 1810, and 1820 census records. I added names and estimated birth years for two males who could be Richard’s sons. At age 28, Thomas could have married by 1810. Conclusion: Richard Postens could be Thomas’ father. More proof is needed. Richard also had several daughters. ‘D1’ was born between 1775 and 1784. This information narrows search parameters.

CensusMate example2_Richard Postens

These relationships are still speculative.

SUMMARY:

In this blog post, I presented two ways to evaluate pre-1850 census records. If you use or have developed other tools, please share in Comments section or email me. I will gladly report in another post.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

Pre-1850 census records are interpretive challenges for genealogists.  I began planning this post several months ago and really thought that I would find more tools. Maybe I just didn’t look far enough?

What I learned:  Barry Elwell’s method. I do something similar but not in the systematic manner that he outlined.

What helped:  Finding CensusMate tool about 4 years ago and using it occasionally. Online databases.

What didn’t help: Procrastination.  Multiple revisions, trying to keep post to less than 1500 words. Goal achieved:  1300  words + 10.

TO-DO:  Continue searching for tools/ methods for analysis of pre-1850 census records.  Apply newly discovered methods to my own research. Report as needed in future blog post.

SOURCES:

[1]U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, “History: Through the Decades: Index of Questions: 1840,” (https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/1840_1.html  : access 22 September 2018).

[2] U.S. Census Bureau, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002); image copy, Census.gov ((https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2002/dec/pol_02-ma.html  : downloaded and printed, 23 September 2018), page 10.

[3] 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Baker county, Georgia, population schedule, , p. 48A (stamped), dwelling 117, family 117, William Bialy [Bailey]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 September 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_61.

[4] 1840 U.S. Federal Census, Baker county, Georgia, population schedule, Newton, p. 35, line 11, Wm Bailey; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 September 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M704, Roll 37.

[5] John L. Haynes, CensusMate: Worksheet for Genealogy and Family History, (http://www.censusmate.com/   accessed 23 September 2018).

Elegy to Elizabeth  A. Hayes Ellerbee

In honor of Women’s History Month, I write about women in our family tree. This story is about Elizabeth A. Hayes Ellerbee from Alabama, my husband’s paternal great-great grandmother.

Elizabeth took a chance marrying Jim Ellerbee. She knew his story.  Along with other young men from Georgia, Jim joined the army of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He left his wife, Sarah Bailey, and their two young children in the care of her father, Judge William Bailey.  Rumor has it that Sarah’s stepmother, Indiana Cherry, Judge Bailey’s 3rd  wife, “did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters. . . .” [1] Sarah died before Jim returned home in June, 1865. A slave woman greeted Jim with his children, 6-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old William.

In November, 1865, Elizabeth A. Hayes, 21 years old, married James John Ellerbee, six years her senior, a widower, and father of two young children. How did Elizabeth and John know each other?  Elizabeth, born in Alabama in 1844,  and her family probably lived in the same county as Jim Ellerbee.

Elizabeth gave birth to 7 children during their 12-year marriage.  One child, John Uzemer, lived only 3 years and died in Georgia.[2]  James John Ellerbee died in December 1877, leaving Elizabeth with eight children, ages newborn to 10 years:  Asa (age 9 months); Wright (age 4); Barzellia (age 5); James Walter (age 8); Anna C. (age 7); Demarious (age 10); William (age 16) and Sarah (age 18).

The year 1880 – three years since her husband died. Jim’s oldest son, William Green Ellerbee (born 1861) followed his grandfather to Cherokee County, Texas, in the late 1870s.[3]  He must have corresponded with his stepmother.  Within a few years, William returned to Calhoun County, Georgia, and resided there with his sister. [4]  Elizabeth, now 33 years old, supported her family  as a field hand, possibly the only type of work available to her. Her two oldest children, 13-year-old Demarious and 10-year-old Anna, also worked as field hands in Early County, Georgia[5].  Elizabeth’s mother, 67 year old Moses Hayes, lived with them and cared for the younger children. The family’s situation can only be described as difficult.

Within a year or two, William moved his sister, stepmother and her children from southeastern Georgia to eastern Texas. [6] Elizabeth’s six children now ranged in age from 3 to 14 years old. Traveling in a covered wagon, the 700+ mile journey took 6-8 weeks. They possibly followed the south’s Old Federal Road through Alabama and Mississippi, crossing the Missisippi River at either Natchez, Missisippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana.

The next decades presented some stability for Elizabeth, her children and stepchildren. Two more of her children (Anna C. and Barzellia) died between 1880 and 1900.   “She managed her household with frugality and she educated her several children very well despite the hard times that prevailed everywhere.” [7]  . Marriages and the birth of grandchildren occurred in or near Cherokee County, Texas:

  • May 1888- William Green Ellerbee married Mary Ann Gulledge;  7 children.
  • November 1888 – Sarah Alice Ellerbee married John Grum Martin; 6 children.
  • January 1895 – James Walter Ellerbee married Katharine Deborah Powell;  6 children.
  • January 1898- Demarious Albina Ellerbee married Thomas Blanton; 7 children.
  • 1906 – Asa Alexander Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 3 children. They moved to Leflore County, Oklahoma by 1910.  Asa later moved to Oklahoma City, where he died.
  • About 1932 – Wright Roswell Ellerbee married Laura B. Lester; 1 child.

With one exception (Asa), all of these families remained close to Elizabeth. [8] [9]

Elizabeth A Hayes EllerbeeElizabeth Hayes Ellerbee died on March 25, 1917 in Cherokee County, Texas. She was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery at Wells, Texas. Many of her descendants are also buried there.

Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee ‘s life was full of unexpected events, some happy and some sad.  At the age of 21, she assumed responsibility for a husband, shattered by war and the death of his first wife, and his two children. She lost her husband after only 12 years of marriage. She gave birth to seven children and buried three of them.  She appears to have had close relationships with both of her stepchildren.  She left familiar surroundings in Georgia, traveling 700+ miles to post-Civil War Texas to pursue a better life for herself and her family.  Overall, I see her as a woman who took chances and left a legacy of hope for her descendants.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

I rediscovered Elizabeth’s story during creation of an Ellerbee scrapbook for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday in January, 2018. What a wonderful story for my blog!  Women’s History Month in March is the perfect time to publish it. I began to appreciate the challenges and hardships faced by Elizabeth as I dug deeper into the records. She had to be strong to endure. She may say, “I did it for my children” and think little about the sacrifices that she made.  She met the challenges of being a single parent for her children and stepchildren. I am sure that she got discouraged at times.

Taking on the role of ‘man of the house’ had to be difficult for 17-year-old William. How I wish I knew more about the slave woman who cared for Jim and Sarah’s children after Sarah’s death. That is a story to be discovered! Secondary benefit: meeting one of my genealogy goals for the year to tell more stories about my husband’s family.

What I learned:  always more in the records to be discovered. Look beyond names & dates. I learned about the “Old Federal Road” which could have been the route taken from southwest Georgia to east Texas.

What was helpful: having records semi-organized and easy to locate for review.  Demarious’ Bible records sent to me last year by one of her descendants.  Research and commentary about the family in The Ellerbe Family History.

Not helpful: Nothing I can think of at this moment.

To-Do List:  Confirm death dates & locations for Anna and Barzellia.

 For more information about the Old Federal Road:

The Old Federal Road in Alabama:  http://oldfederalroad.aum.edu/

South’s Old Federal Road https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Overland_Travel_1784_to_1839,_National_Road,_Old_Federal_Road,_Chicago_Road_(National_Institute)#The_South.E2.80.99s_Old_Federal_Road

Wagon trains to Texas:  http://www.genealogy.com/forum/regional/states/topics/ms/8044/

Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama:     https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gregory_Waselkov/publication/259398790

Henry DeLeon Southerland & Jerry Elijah Brown. The Federal Road through Georgia.   Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

Jeffrey C. Benton (compiler). The Very Worst Road: Travellers Accounts of Crossing Alabama’s Old Creek Indian Territory, 1820-1847. Tucscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama, 2009.

REFERENCES: 

[1] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986), p. 14-43.

[2] Family data, Demarious Albina Ellerbee Family Bible, Holy Bible, (New York: American Bible Society, 1876); original owned in October 2016 by Darby Blanton, [address for private use], Darby is descendant of Demarious Ellerbee & Thomas Blanton.

[3] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, District 626, enumeration district (ED) 4, p. 420B, dwelling 351, family 347, Sarah Elerbrie [Ellerbee] 20; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed, downloaded, printed 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administratin, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9_0136.

[5] 1880 U.S. Census, Early Co, Georgia, pop. sch., Damascus, enumeration district (ED) 026, p. 214A, family #, Elizabeth Eleby [Ellerbee] ; digital images, Ancestry (http;;//www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 4 September 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T9, Roll 144.

[6] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[7] Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, p. 14-43.

[8]  1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Pct 8, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 284A (printed), Family #21, John G. Martin (head) [wife, Sarah A. Ellerbee + 6 children]; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded & printed 4 September 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Roll: T623_1619.  On same page: Family #22: Will R Ellesbee [Wright R. Ellerbee], head, 24; Elizabeth A. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 58; Asa Ellesbee [Ellerbee], 23 ; Family #23: James W. Ellesbee [Ellerbee], wife Catherine + 2 children. Elizabeth is recorded as the mother of 7 children, 4 still living.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 0024, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 272, family 272, Ellerbee E (head), 60, wd; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 3 March 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T624_1538.

Share your work with a family history scrapbook

Earlier this month, I presented an Ellerbee Family History scrapbook to my father-in-law in honor of his 80th birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!!

This project is my 4th genealogical scrapbook, 3 traditional paper format scrapbooks and 1 digital scrapbook. The projects evolved as a different way to present information about a family. As mentioned in earlier blogs, I wrote a narrative history about my dad’s family in 2012. I then promised my in-laws to research each of their families. The first two projects, both paper scrapbooks, resulted.

Project #1:  Simmons Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law, about his mother’s family. He knew his grandfather as Clay Simmons but little else about the family. My quest, then, focused on discovering his Simmons’ heritage. That quest led to our first genealogy field trip to east Texas (a topic for another blog post!). HIs grandfather’s full name was Henry Clay Simmons.  Ancestors include James Aster Simmons, the first Baptist minister in Trinity County, Texas, circa 1856.  The Simmons family traces back to Virginia (ca. 1745) and the birth of a man named William Simmons. I used different color schemes for each generation.

Migration of Simmons Family
Suggestion:  Add a name to each place and date. 

Project #2:  Johnson-Reed Scrapbook. 

Paper scrapbook created for my mother-in-law, whose maiden name is Johnson. I used a book of floral design papers as background. Rather than an in-depth look at a single family line, Nana Linda’s scrapbook embraces direct ancestors of both Papa (Horace) Johnson and Nana (Venette) Reed for 4-5 generations. Several years ago, my in-laws pulled out on old suitcase full of family pictures. Some of those pictures found their way into this scrapbook.  A brief biography of a distant cousin who founded an Arkansas town added to the family tree.

Holcomb-Reed_graph for blog

Sample page from mother-in-law’s scrapbook.  Diagram shows relationship between two families. 

Project #3:  Posten Family. 

Digital scrapbook for my 90+ year-old aunt; presented to her during our trip to Pennsylvania in August 2017. Our family tree extends to our oldest known direct ancestor, Thomas Postens (born 1782, New Jersey – died 1854, Pennsylvania).  During my childhood, we traveled to Pennsylvania every other year.  Trips became less frequent after Dad’s mother died in 1964, so this scrapbook focused on the more recent story of my immediate family. Page themes included weddings, three generations of military service and my sons. A shoebox of pictures inherited from my mother yielded pictures of Grandma Posten with me and my siblings. My aunt readily identified when and where each picture had been taken.  My oldest son bears a definite resemblance to my dad and Grandpa Posten when they were in their early 20s.

Project #4:  Ellerbee Family Scrapbook.

Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law. I promised this one as supplement to Simmons Family Scrapbook. Years ago, Papa shared his copy of an Ellerbe family history (Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986). The book represents an extensive history of multiple family lines with similar spellings of the surname.  A boon to this genealogist! This scrapbook focuses on our direct family line, Ellerbee. Recent contact with a second cousin yielded copies of pages from a family Bible published in 1876. Yes, I gave credit for sharing those photos! Review of documents led me to a new appreciation of one widow’s journey from southwestern Georgia to eastern Texas in the early 1880s with 6 children aged 3 to 14.

Consider a scrapbook to share your next genealogical project. Choose a method – paper or digital.  Time, resources and cost determine the size and method. Begin with a smaller project such as persons who fought in a specific war, a single generation or location, persons with the same given name through multiple generations, or stories about people in a family picture. The process of creating scrapbook pages can even help crack a brick wall! I used a single branch of the extended family for two of my projects. Think creatively about how to present information such as a census record.

census example from scrapbookSimple format, band of design paper on a solid background.  Copy of 1910 Census, Cherokee County, Texas for W. J. Simmons, wife, Janie, and 4 of their 9 children.  Small leaf sticker pointed to the family. Transcription of entry for W.J. Simmons is on next page for easy reading.  In 1900, W.J. & family lived in Coltharp, Texas, a town which no longer exists. Picture of historic marker and information about the town followed the 1900 census record.

Family pictures, Bible records, and original documents are ideal for this type of project. Copies of these items abound in all of my scrapbook projects.

Check the cost of your chosen method. For a paper scrapbook, you will need the scrapbook itself, paper, plastic sleeves and tape. Use archival quality, acid-free paper and sleeves.  Buy tape labelled for scrapbooking.  A scrapbook kit provides these items , except for the tape, plus stickers and other add-ons.   For a digital scrapbook, compare cost and other requirements such as minimum number of pages. Most offer templates and other helpful hints. Create your own pages or ask for help from one of their designers. Once the digital scrapbook is created, how will you distribute it? Digital and print copies are both options. Consider cost of postage to mail a print copy of the finished product to you and/or others.

For either method, allow plenty of time. The first two paper scrapbooks took about 6 months each because I could only work on them 2-4 hours or less per week. I had done little research on the Simmons family, subject of the first scrapbook, so gathering information took more time than for the other scrapbooks. Our scheduled visit to Pennsylvania dictated the time frame for the 20-page digital scrapbook which took about 20-24 hours total to create. The last scrapbook entailed two weeks of intensive work, about 30-40 hours per week.

For a comparison of Digital scrapbooking websites:   https://www.comparakeet.com/digital-scrapbooking-sites/

Paper scrapbooks. Choose size of scrapbook. Sizes range from 4 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches. So many choices of papers and colors! Choose a theme such as color, location or event.  When starting, purchase a theme kit or packet of design papers plus complementary or contrasting solid color pages. Allow time and money for multiple trips to the craft or scrapbook store! Wait for sales!!  Scrapbook specialty stores often sell unique papers that cost slightly more than papers found in craft stores. Check online sources for paper and other items. Some online sources allow you to order single pages. I ordered a Civil War Confederate packet and a Korean War theme packet online. Take pictures of your finished product.  You can then share these digital pictures with others in your family.

Develop a tentative table of contents, by section and/or page. The overall purpose of your project guides the sequence. In general, each section of my paper scrapbooks represented one generation.  The section started with a printed family group sheet followed by pictures, census records and other documents. Final pages in the section told a story about a specific person or event through local newspaper reports, church/ county histories or a summary written by me.

One challenge is finding creative ways to present various documents.  For a multi-generational family history, begin with a pedigree chart using a pre-printed, fill-in-the blank family tree form. Blank forms with handwritten entries personalize the scrapbook. Add stick-on items. Buy theme-based scrapbook packages at craft stores or online. I have jewels, flowers, letters of the alphabet, U.S. state decals, ribbon and leaves to add as accents. For the most part, I used fairly simple designs and shapes.

page 14_John Ellibee_Martha Love_marriage record_Ellerbee scrapbook_Jan 2018

Copy of  Marriage record for John Ellibee & Martha Love, 1842.  Full page from marriage record (with red circle around entry), enlarged view of actual entry, and a handwritten label identifying the document. Solid color background with coordinating bands of design paper at top and bottom of page. 

As you accumulate items, think about the information in or about the item. What is the most effective way to present the item? There are at least 3 men named William Green Ellerbee among the ancestors so green paper backs their stories. Use a state outline behind a document. Military symbols accompany copies of service records. A picture of a schoolhouse goes well with a copy of a school record. I wrote a newspaper-type story about a genealogical brick wall and presented it on (yes, you guessed it!) brick wall paper. A death certificate or tombstone picture on black paper with the words “In Memoriam’  is powerful. If available, add a picture of the person to a copy of a funeral notice. Add your own handwritten note to a census record – “6 year old Noah is listed as son but it is unlikely that 60-year-old Martha is his mother. Still looking for parents of Noah.” Sometimes, simply present the item on a solid color piece of paper.

Use contrasting and coordinating colors. The color wheel guides this concept. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, appear directly across from one another. Analogous colors, such as green and yellow, appear close to each other. Examples of various color schemes:

color wheel 2

Link to source for  Color Wheel

Choose a base color for your project, then expand by adding different color schemes for each page or section. For my mother-in-law’s scrapbook, a pink and maroon flower-themed paper guided color choices for the rest of the book.

linda scrapbook sample title page

Are source citations important for scrapbooks? I believe that the answer is, “Yes!” Plan space for citation when setting the page format. I added source citations for census records and other documents. For photos of the family Bible, my citation reads “Photos of pages generously provided by .  .  .  .   .  .,  descendant of . . . . .”   Relate the provenance of the item in the photograph:  “Handwritten journal kept by Grandmother Bailey, found at Grandmother’s house by Judith Bailey, current owner of the journal.” Format source citations for other records, such as census records, according to current genealogical standards.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiReflection:

These scrapbooks were time consuming, medium difficulty, rewarding projects. I had little personal experience with scrapbooking before I created the first one. My husband is a graphic artist who offered constructive criticism. Now, I regularly scour local craft stores for sales on scrapbooking items. I started with one family history themed scrapbook packet and bought multiple single pages. I now have 6 boxes of scrapbook paper in assorted themes, designs and colors. Last summer, I bought 2 boxes of scrapbook papers and accessories, worth about $70, for $10 at a garage sale. For the latest project, I bought 10 design specific pages but only used 4 of them. There are more stories in the documents!

What helped:  Paper scrapbooks done in 2013 & 2014. Bought scrapbook supplies at various times during the past 4 years and only when on sale! Identified general color scheme of black, blue and green before starting current project. High quality copies of 3 pictures done at office supply store. Searched internet for page ideas. Genealogical research essentially complete on family before starting most recent project with most documents in paper or digital files.

What didn’t help:  With 1st project, no experience with scrapbooking. No clear format in mind, minimal planning. Genealogical research ongoing throughout 1st project. This project — home printer malfunction halfway through. Printer was down for 4 days while we waited for part. Good news – we didn’t have to buy a new printer! Used printer downtime to create items on computer and plan rest of scrapbook pages. Started creating pages in the middle of the family line, which was a little confusing.

Suggestions for future:  Tentatively plan sequence of sections and pages before starting. Inventory materials on-hand for ideas. Complete genealogical research as much as possible before starting scrapbook but remain open to new ideas or documents that may surface. Continue to look for scrapbook page ideas.

For more information, find print books about scrapbooking at your local bookstore or public library.

Websites you may find helpful (in no particular order):

Scrapbook your family tree (supplies and page layout ideas): http://www.scrapbookyourfamilytree.com/product-category/genealogy-scrapbook-paper/:

Scrapbooking genealogy (supplies and page layout ideas):    https://www.scrapbookinggenealogy.com/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: http://www.thoughtco.com/scrapbooking-your-family-hitory-1420758

Scrapbook A Family Tree:  https://www.familytree.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-a-family-tree/

Pinterest, ideas for page layouts and links for supplies:  https://www.pinterest.com/rustico3059/scrapbook-your-family-tree/

The complete guide to starting your family tree scrapbook:  https://scrapbookingcoach.com/the-complete-guide-to-scrapbooking-your-family-history-for-generations-to-come/

Scrapbooking Your Family History: A Beginner’s Guide:   http://www.scrapyourfamilyhistory.com

 

 

 

 

 

Share your work during this New Year

Earlier this month, I watched another  television show (of three seen recently) about the Lost Colony of Roanoke, Virginia.[1]  Hosts for each show have expertise in varying fields such as archaeology[2] and geology[3].  Each approaches the mystery from a different perspective.  If I remember correctly, all hosts interviewed some of the same persons, visited some of the same locations and viewed/ analyzed some of the same items.  Each found something unique with similar but different conclusions.  My suggestion:  Bring all of the hosts together in Roanoke where they share their methods and visit locations again, as a group.  They compare findings and debate differences.  As a group, they come to joint conclusions, noting similarities and differences.  What a wonderful show that would be!

This brings me to the topic of this blog– sharing your genealogical research as a New Year’s resolution.  I tend to work independently.  However, I realize the value of seeking others with similar genealogy interests. Their perspective has often shown me things that I had missed. Or, they delved deeper into a relationship than I had done. Why not build on the work of others?

Reader, beware!  This is especially true in genealogical research.  With the advent of the internet, there are many more ways to share work and misinformation. Build on the work of others but take time to confirm their work.  Confession time– how many of you ever posted questionable or unverified information? Raised-hands I did and it has been haunting me ever since! How many of you copied information because ‘it looks OK’?  Again, guilty as charged!  Although, I am much more careful now than in the past!

I received a typewritten family genealogy from a cousin who had gotten the information from an elderly great-aunt. [4] typed Posten lineageLooks reasonable!   From my dad, I knew names of his dad and his grandfather.  My beginning research efforts gave me the name of James D. Posten, next in line.  So far, so good.  Using this information as a base, I began to prepare my application to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Since James died in 1914, I eventually wrote for, and received, a copy of his death certificate.  Next person in line – Thomas Posten- confirmed!  I also searched from the other direction – from Jacob Postens to Thomas.  I found Jacob’s Revolutionary War Pension file online [5].   Additional information about Jacob’s children and grandchildren was located in two county histories published in 1886[6] and 1900[7].  No Thomas!

More bad news!  Before I verified the information on the typewritten document, I shared it as fact on multiple message boards and my online family tree.  Dispelling this myth has been on ongoing process for the last 7 years.  Even though I readily share the accumulated information about Jacob Postens and his descendants[8], relatives still argue the direct relationship.  No one has produced evidence to prove that we are direct descendants of Jacob Postens and his wife, Ann Burson.

Sharing genealogical findings can be controversial.  Everyone wants credit for his or her work.  So, give credit to that other researcher! “This information based on Sally Ramsey’s online tree, entry for Jacob Holland.” If you disagree with the other person, be respectful:  “Two online tree shows death date for Jacob Holland as 1908; sources are gravestone and church records. Death certificate and family Bible records show death year as 1909.” Contact the owners of the other trees and offer to share copies of all documents.

No one works in a vacuum.  We rely on the work of others to discover our own family roots. Census takers asked questions and wrote answers on blank pages, transcriptionists typed the handwritten pages, someone created the paper and digital indexes, publishers put together the books, and librarians catalogued and shelved the books.  Family members kept great-grandfather’s Bible and your cousin now has it. A relative wrote a biography about your great-great grandmother’s brother.  Newspapers recorded family comings and goings. Local historians published essays and family stories in the county historical society journal.  There is room for error at each step of the process.

In the 1980s, my father-in-law attended an Ellerbee family reunion. He met a man who had written and published an extensive history of the Ellerbe/ Ellerbee/Ellerby family. My father-in-law shared the book [9]with me. The information in this book saved me many hours of research. Connecting the names and information with specific sources (listed at the end of the book) became my task. I found only one piece of incorrect information:  the wives of John Ellerbee (born 1808- died 1885).  In the book (page 14-41), John’s wives are listed as 1st, Martha and 2nd, Elizabeth. Birth dates of children, a marriage record, and census records indicate the reverse.  Comment on my posted family tree[10] begins with his data, cites records and ends with:

Conclusion:  Ellerbe book has the names reversed. Martha was John’s 2nd wife. I am keeping Elizabeth as name of John’s 1st wife without any other proof of her name at this time (August 2011). Any reliable info to keep or change this information is welcome.

This entry acknowledges Mr. Ellerbe’s work and gives the rationale for my conclusion. I am open for comments.

Online family trees are repositories of both correct and incorrect information.  Inconsistent data are not always recognized.  A desire for quantity may override a concern about quality.  A BSO (bright shiny object) lures even an experienced genealogist to stray from their stated objective.

Private or public online family tree?  This remains controversial with pros and cons to each.  Public trees:  Pro (& con) – anyone with access to the website can view your tree.  Anyone can copy your work to his or her tree. You may or may not get credit for finding that elusive document!  Private trees:  people must contact you for information and/or access.  Someone else cannot easily copy your work. This limit may deter anyone from contacting you.

Are my trees public or private? The answer is “Yes”. Some of my trees are public and some are posted on more than one website. My primary reason is for potential contact by other relatives, which has occurred.  My public trees are not as extensive as the trees housed on my computer within genealogical software programs.  I do not post all information on the public trees.  For example, I do not post copies of documents such as birth, marriage, death certificates that I paid for! I do include a note: “Tree owner has copy of birth certificate.” I also do not post information that others may not readily know.  Other trees reside only on my computer or on paper.  Most common reason is tentative nature of the information.  I do not have any online trees that are labelled as ‘private’.  No specific reason. You decide what to do about your own family trees.

Suggestions about sharing:

  1. Share your findings based on personal preferences. “Willing to share summary of information from multiple sources.” “Richard married Rita in 1932 per marriage certificate.  Daughter, Sarah, born 1929 per 1940 census.  I have copy of Sarah’s death certificate which lists Sarah’s mother as Donna King.”
  2. When in doubt, say so. “Two families with similar names found in this county; this may not be correct family.” “1910 & 1920 census suggest birth year of 1889; death certificate lists birth year of 1891.”   “Maiden name Smith per Jones family history; need to confirm with other sources.”  “Jacob Postens as direct ancestor from typewritten pedigree from elderly aunt; relationship not supported by multiple sources; contact tree owner for more info”.   “Handwritten name looks like Sa____son.”
  3. Be kind. Please check dates.  Betty would have been 8 (or 65) years old when 1st child born.”  “I visited John & Jennie’s grave last week. They are buried in Roberts Cemetery, not Robinson Cemetery.  May have been a transcription error.”  “I respectfully disagree with you on this point. My reasons are . . . .”  “I see your point and have made a note on my tree.”
  4. Check your own work carefully. “Middle name reported as Amelia and Ash by relatives; no documents found to support either one; changed here to initial ‘A’ .”
  5. Compliment good work. “I really like how you report discrepancies and questions.” “Thanks for sharing the pages from the old Bible.” “Thanks for full reference to newspaper obituary.”  “Your post about James’ parents is consistent with my own research.  I think that you are on the right track.”
  6. Admit your mistakes. “I shared the typewritten pedigree from elderly aunt and did not verify information.”  “Surname transcribed as Roberts by me when looking at handwritten census; marriage record & death certificate indicate name was Robertson.”  Your admission may save others from making the same mistake later.

So, during this New Year, resolve to share your work within limits set by you. Use the work of others and acknowledge their contributions.  Respect the opinions of others even when different than yours. Record your mistakes and make the necessary changes.  “Please” and “thank you” are still politically correct!

FYI — Yes, I became a Daughter of the American Revolution, using dad’s mother’s ancestor, Thomas Ostrander of New York.  Initially, I spent 3-4 months on the Jacob Postens’ line and got very discouraged.  A D.A.R. member suggested that I look at the women and this produced my connection to Thomas.  Lineage from me is:  Daniel Richard Posten (dad), Jennie A. Richards (dad’s mother), Ostrander Richards (Jennie’s father), Sarah Ostrander (Ostrander’s mother, 2nd wife of Nathaniel Richards; she died shortly after her son’s birth), Thomas Ostrander.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hiREFLECTION  This entire post is a reflection of my experience about sharing and the negative effect of misinformation.  What helped:  acknowledging that not everything you get from older relatives is necessarily true.  Access to internet and multiple other sources.  Kept lots of notes!   What didn’t help:  Initial reluctance to acknowledge that older relative could be wrong. Being totally stumped by brick wall.  Next steps:  Question everything! When you hit a brick wall, put the work aside and review later.  Keep extensive notes in journals, genealogical software, and research logs.

Another way to share:  Share your work with a genealogy buddy – It’s time to get a genealogy buddy

[1] Bill & Jim Vieira, Return to Roanoke: Search for the Seven; (video documentary, aired 4 January 2018; distributed by History Channel), television.

[2] Josh Gates, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, Expedition Unknown series; (video documentary; Season 3, Episode 4, distributed by Travel Channel), television. The Travel Channel.com (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/expedition-unknown/episodes/the-lost-colony-of-roanoke  : accessed 10 January 2018.

[3] Scott Wolter, Mystery of Roanoke, American Unearthed series (video documentary, Season 1, Episode 7; aired 1 February 2013; distributed by History Channel, television. History Channel (http://www.history.com/shows/american-unearthed/season-1/episode 7   : accessed 10 January 2018

[4] Posten family traditions regarding ancestors of John Posten (born 1887), Ruby Grace Gardner, compiler (Pedigree and notes privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma) as reported by Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989.  A handwritten note on the document states, “I don’t know how accurate it is.”

[5] Deposition of claimant, Ann Burson Postens, widow’s pension application no. W3296; service of Jacob Postens, state of Pennsylvania; “Revolutionary War Pension and bounty-land warrant application files, 1800-1900”, images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com :  accessed 12 July 2017),  Jacob Postens, citing Case Files of Pension and Bounty-land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800-ca 1912, documenting the period ca 1775-1900, M804 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration [n.d.], Roll 1957.

[6] Alfred Matthews, History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: R.T. Peck & Co, 1886), p. 1127; download from Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/details/historyofwaynepi00math   : accessed 12 July 2017).

[7] Commemorative biographical record of Northeastern Pennsylvania including the counties of Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike and Monroe, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co, 1900), pp. 1438-1439; download from Wayback Machine (https://archive.org :  accessed 12 July 2017).

[8] Susan Posten Ellerbee, “Jacob Postens: Our Ancestor?”; (MSS, July 2017; privately published by Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma.  

[9] Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc, 1986).

[10] Susan Ellerbee, “Jerry Donald Ellerbee Tree,”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60654669/person/48059652815/facts  : accessed 15 January 2017), “John E. Ellerbee”, John’s wives (comment).

Civil War Veterans- Confederate and Union

WARNING:  This post contains information about men who fought in the Civil War for both Confederate and Union armies.  Some readers may be uncomfortable with the content. My children inherited genes from both Confederate and Union soldiers.  This post shares the stories of their great-great-great grandfathers:   James T.L. Powell, a soldier in the Confederacy, and Jeremiah Tucker, a Union soldier.

home soldiers.jpg

Display in our living room.  Civil War soldiers were cross-stitched by my sister from a pattern issued during Civil War Centennial, ca. 1961.

James Thomas Lafayette Powell

James T.L. Powell is my husband’s paternal great-great- grandfather.  James T. L. Powell was born on May 13, 1835[1], in Georgia, probably Calhoun County, tentatively identified as the child of Hilliard Powell and Laney Faircloth.[2]  James married Deborah A. C. Daniel on June 28, 1857,in Sumter County, Georgia. [3] By 1860, James, school teacher, and Deborah moved to Calhoun County, Georgia, apparently with no children. [4]

James T.L. Powell enlisted in the Confederate States Army on March 4, 1861, in Morgan, Georgia and served as a private in Company C, 25th Regiment, Georgia Militia. By 1864, he achieved the rank of  2nd lieutenant.    At the Battle of Nashville on December 15 – 16, 1864, captured Confederate soldiers included Lieutenant Powell.  [5]  Transported first to the nearest military camp at Louisville, Kentucky,  James’  journey north continued four days later, on December 20, 1864, to a final destination of Johnson’s Island, near Sandusky, Ohio.  The  500-mile  journey from Nashville to Johnson’s Island probably consisted of travel by both train and on foot.

Powell_civil war records_draft3.jpg

Three of 18 records found in James T L Powell’s Civil War records files

The Prisoner of War Depot at Johnson’s Island consisted of 40 acres and held prisoners from April, 1862 to September, 1865. [6]  Less well known than the infamous Andersonville Prison in Sumter county, Georgia, conditions at over-crowded Johnson’s Island were  similarly desperate.  Ill-clad Confederate prisoners of war also suffered because of not being used to northern winters.[7]  Arriving in December, James shared the same raw conditions as other prisoners.

‘Discharged or paroled’  from Johnson’s Island on June 17, 1865, [8]  James made his way back home to Georgia and reunited with his wife, Deborah, in Calhoun County, Georgia.  The 900-mile trip home coiled through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.    James and Deborah had three children:  Alonzo ‘Alvey’, born about 1866 in Georgia ; James M. born about 1868 in Georgia, and Peter, born about 1871 in Texas. [9] Deborah probably died in Texas.

On April 22, 1877, James married  Catherine Brown, 17-year-old  daughter of R.L. Brown and Marguerite Puckett  in Cherokee County, Texas.[10]  They had three children:  Katherine Deborah , born August 15, 1879, in Cherokee County, Texas ; William B. , born February 19, 1882 in Texas and Jessie , born January, 1889 in Cherokee County, Texas. [11] The younger Katherine and her husband, James Walter Ellerbee, are my husband’s paternal great –grandparents.

James T. L. Powell died on September 27, 1890, and is buried in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. [12]

James TL Powell gravestone.jpg

Find A Grave Memorial ID #67392240.  Photo by Jerry Bohnett, taken ca 2011.

He may have been visiting his children when he died.   His widow married Elias Barker on September 1, 1892, in Cherokee County, Texas.  Mr. Barker died on August 20, 1900, leaving Catherine again a widow.  Catherine Brown Powell Barker died on March 8, 1944, in Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas. [13]

See also:  Johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison,  Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Civil War Prison:     https://johnsonsisland.heidelberg.edu/index.html

Jeremiah Tucker

Jeremiah Tucker is my maternal great-great grandfather.  Jeremiah Tucker was born on September 23, 1839 in New York, child of Thomas W. Tucker and Lavinia Clearwater.[14]   Jeremiah married two times, possibly three – to Margaret, surname either Irwin or Collins, and Allie Traver.  (See Blog posted on April 24, 2017, for some information about Margaret and Allie; report pending).

Jeremiah served as a private in the 56th New York Infantry Regiment, Company I. [15] His unit defended Washington, D.C., then fought in battles at Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia.  In July, 1863, they reinforced the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the Fort Wagner, [South Carolina] siege, memorialized in the film, Glory. [16]  From there, the 56th New York continued south to Charleston, South Carolina, where the men mustered out. [17]  During the war, Jeremiah reportedly lost vision in one eye.

Jeremiah_Tucker_civil war records1

Partial service record for Jeremiah Tucker

After discharge, Jeremiah returned to his home in Greene County, New York,  where he married a woman named Margaret in 1867.[18] Together, they raised five children:  William Frederick, born 1868; Millie, born 1870; Augusta, born 1872; Mary E., born 1874; and Thomas George, born 1877.  Their oldest son, William Frederick Tucker, and his wife, Bertha Traver, are my maternal great-grandparents.  Another child, Lavinia, born in 1862 and recorded as ‘daughter’, resided with Jeremiah and Margaret as late as 1880. [19]

Jeremiah Tucker c

Original photograph given to my uncle, Esbon, from my great-aunt Viola. 

After the Civil War, Jeremiah became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.   Jeremiah died on April 16, 1914 at the age of 74 years, 6 months, and 23 days and is buried in his home town of Greenville, Greene county, New York., [20]

Interesting similiarities:

  1. Both men married for a second time after the Civil War.
  2. The first child born after the Civil War became our (my husband’s and mine) great- grandparents.
  3. After the war, both men faced a journey of about 900 miles to return to their homes. I expect that James’ journey was much more difficult than Jeremiah’s.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection/ Journal entry

This post will be seen by some as not politically correct, especially in light of recent events surrounding statues and images of Confederate leaders.  I was disturbed this summer by the acts of vandalism against statues of Confederate leaders. Destruction of property is a crime.  I understand that some are offended and/or uncomfortable with these images and the beliefs represented.  However, the Civil War is part of our American experience, whether we like it or not.  Brave men and women fought for their beliefs on both sides, much as men and women fought in the American Revolution and wars since.  History cannot be erased and is often retold.  Sometimes, we judge our ancestors’ actions according to current morals and ethics.  This can lead to the retelling of history according to standards different than those of the actual time period in which the historical event occurred.  I believe that the perspectives of the actual time period should be considered.

Some may say,  “But, your viewpoint is skewed because your husband’s ancestors fought on the side of the Confederacy.”  Perhaps.  I want my children to be proud of their heritage,  all of their heritage!  So, we proudly display pictures of both Confederate and Union soldiers in our home.  When we visit the grave of James T.L. Powell,  we will place a Confederate flag because he is a Confederate veteran.  And, my children know that they have both Confederate and Union blood flowing in their veins.

Enough of the soapbox.  What did I learn?  The horrors of Johnson’s Island prisoner of war camp.  My husband’s family includes others who fought and died for the Confederacy.   The number of slaves owned by my husband’s ancestors varied widely from one to thirty or more.  I learned about the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R, veterans of the Union Army).    I was surprised when I looked up the location of Fort Wagner and immediately made the connection with the film.   I have no information about my mother’s family’s views about black persons although I do not recall ever hearing her say anything discriminatory or derogatory.

A federal law granting benefits to Confederate Civil War veterans passed in 1958. Information and misinformation abounds concerning the language and intent of this law and earlier, related  legislation.  If you are interested, here are three of many websites with information on this issue:

Confederate veterans benefits:   https://www.truthorfiction.com/confederate-soldiers-are-considered-u-s-veterans-under-federal-law/

“Confederate soldiers were not United States veterans.” Blog posted August 24, 2017 by James Howard.  Presents both sides of arguments about Confederate veterans and pardons for them.    https://jameshoward.us/2017/08/24/confederate-soldiers-not-united-states-veterans/

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.  National Park Serive, Department of the Interior. “Confederates in the Cemetery:  Federal Benefits & Stewardship”  :  https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/confederates-in-the-cemetery-federal-benefits-stewardship/

What helped ?  Access to online and print sources.  Careful review of documents revealed new information and insights.  Being open to the stories.  Searching for evidence to support conclusions.

What didn’t help? My negative reaction to those who seem to want to erase the Civil War from U.S. history, or water the history down to a version that is ‘politically correct’ according to today’s standards.  This formed the impetus for me to write this post. Incomplete sources and citations.

Summary:   This post describes two ancestors –men who fought for the Confederacy (Ellerbee family) and Union (Tucker family).  Individual stories grew from genealogical and historical records.  The post ends with a short rant about recent attacks on statues of Confederate leaders. I realize that genealogy blogs are not the usual place for political commentary and I recognize my own subjectivity on this subject.

[1] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed & printed 29 November 2012), memorial page for J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240, citing Wallace Cemetery (Evelyn, De Soto Parish, Louisiana), memorial created by Jerry & Donna Bohnett, photograph by Jerry & Donna Bohnett.

[2] Coolnethead, “Powell Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/42063713/person/20387548981/facts  : accessed 9 November 2017); “Hilliard Powell”,  birth and death data undocumented.

[3] “Sumter County, Georgia Marriage Book, 1850-1857”,  marriage record for James TL Powell & Deborah A. C. Daniel, Book 3, page 218.  Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3  : accessed, downloaded & printed 24 March 2017), citing The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd District, p. 47 (penned), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

[5] “Carded records showing military service of soldiers who fought in the Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1865; ” entry for James L. L Powell (18 pages); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com :  accessed, downloaded & printed, 8 November 2017);  ; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M266, record group 109, state Georgia, roll 0386.

[6] Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island, Ohio.  (http://www.johnsonsisland.org/history.htm  : accessed, printed & downloaded 14 Nov 2011).

[7] James I. Robertson, Jr.  The Civil War: Tenting tonight.  The soldier’s life. (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1884), 113, 115.

[8] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.  Carded records, compiled service record, James T. L. Powell, Lt., Co. C, 25th  Regiment Georgia Infantry, Civil War, RG 109, NARA-Washington, D.C.

[9] 1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, pop. sch., Militia District 626, p. 55 (penned), p. 585 (stamped), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

[10] Widow’s Application for Confederate Pension, Catherine Barker, widow’s pension file no. 50567, Civil War, Confederate, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.

[11] Death certificates for Katherine Deborah Powell & William B. Powell, personal files of Susan Posten Ellerbee.  “Jessie Booker”, step-daughter listed with ‘Elide & Catherine Booker” in 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, pop.sch., Justice Pct 8, p. 284 (stamped), dwelling 16, family 16, Jessie Booker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623, roll 1619.

[12] Find A Grave, J.T.L. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 67392240.

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

[14] Jeremiah Tucker, death certificate (copy of original certificate stamped ‘for genealogical research only’),  no. 22078 (16 April 1914), New York Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.

[15]“Abstracts from original muster rolls for New York State infantry units involved in the Civil War: 56th Infantry,” New York State Archives; entry for Jeremiah G. Tucker; Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed 9 November 2017); citing New York State Archives, Digital Collections, Records of Military Service, Civil War, (http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/).

[16] Glory, directed by Edward Zwick (1989, Hollywood, California: TriStar Productions).

[17] “56th Infantry Regiment, Civil War,” NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center (https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/56thInf/56thInfMain.htm:   accessed 8 November 2017 ); citing The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 — records of the regiments in the Union army — cyclopedia of battles — memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. Volume II.

[18] 1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[19] 1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (penned), dwelling #1, family #1, Lavinia Tucker age 18; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[20] Jeremiah Tucker, Greenville, Greene county, New York; death certificate no. 22078 (16 April 1914).