Horace Johnson and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)

1930s. The Great Depression. Dust Bowl. WPA (Works Projects Administration).  CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). Do any of these terms sound familiar to you? If your family tree includes young adults in the 1930s, then they may have found work through one of these programs. My husband’s maternal grandfather, Horace Clayton Johnson, was one such person. In this post, I share pictures and a document about his service.

First, a brief history lesson. The Works Projects Administration (WPA), established in 1935 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program, employed millions who were unemployed after the stock market crash of 1929. Many projects involved construction of public buildings and roads. The WPA Graves Registration Project surveyed cemeteries and created indexes for the burials. Those tombstones have since aged another 90 years and may now be unreadable. Also, you may find grave markers not listed on other sites. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted trees and constructed trails and shelters in national and state parks.  

Now, about Horace. Horace Clayton Johnson was born 7 April 1915 in Ben Hur, Limestone county, Texas to Henry Louis Johnson and Nellie Black.[1]  Henry, a farmer in 1920[2], moved his family to Mexia City, Texas by 1930 and was listed there as a carpenter.[3] In 1935, twenty-year-old Horace, the third of 8 siblings and second of two boys, probably needed work to help support his family. So, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps.  

CCC work crew, 1935, near Trinity, Texas; Horace Johnson member of this crew. From personal photograph collection held by Horace’s daughter, 2021.

He was a member of Company 839, established 1.6 miles east of Trinity, Texas, on June 8, 1933. Trinity is about 100 miles southeast of Mexia. This was probably the furthest young Horace had ever traveled from home.  The men constructed and maintained fire lanes, fire break roads and telephone lines. [4] Membership in The Corps included an educational component. In March, 1935, Horace received a Certificate of Proficiency in Simple Arithmetic and Spelling.

We are not sure exactly how long Horace served in the CCC. In 1937, he married Mable Venette Reed, a native of Cherokee County, approximately 70 miles northeast of Trinity. Perhaps they met when Horace was in the CCC?

In summary, discovery of these items adds to Horace’s story. And, places him within a specific time period in American history. I wonder how many other treasures might be found in old suitcases and boxes!

For more information:

Wikipedia (Yes, I know this isn’t always the best source):https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Progress_Administration

Civilian Conservation Corps: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps

Example of WPA Graves Registration Project: https://iowawpagraves.org/index.php


Mother-in-law and I found these pictures and document when going through a box of old family pictures. All items have now been placed in archival quality sleeves and the appropriate notebook. I was especially surprised to find the Certificate of Proficiency. This kind of document is all too often discarded by later generations. The fact of Horace’s residence for a time in Trinity County presents a clue about how he may have met Mable, a native of Cherokee County.

I discovered the Iowa WPA Graves Registration website about 10 years ago, when researching a possibly related branch of Dad’s family. I am not sure how many counties or states had similar projects. Also, I am not sure how many are readily available on public internet sites. If you can’t find cemetery records for a person who died before the 1930s, contact your local county or state historical society. You may be surprised at what you find!

What I learned: more about the Civilian Conservation Corps, which I vaguely remembered from American history classes. Specifics about what Horace’s group did.

What helped:  retrieving  pictures and document with my mother-in-law. Internet sites with information about WPA and CCC.  Less than 1000 words! I like these shorter blog posts!

What didn’t help: nothing specific.  


[1] Texas, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health, delayed birth certificate LL18432 (23 February 1942; copy issued 26 Oct 2011), Horace Clayton Johnson; Limestone County Texas County Clerk, Groesbeck, Texas.

[2] 1920 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Pt Enterprise School District, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 3A, dwelling 41, family 47, H.L. Johnson head, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 1 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1829.

[3] 1930 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Mexia, enumeration district (ED) 11, pg. 6B, dwelling 135, family 149, Johnson Henry L, head, age 46; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 1 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2371

[4] “History, Civilian Conservation Corps,” Trinity, Texas (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Trinity,_Texas#/Civilian_Conservation_Corps  :  accessed 26 April 2021).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Cleaning up files

“Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.” One of my 2021 genealogy goals. What do I mean by “review and clean”? In this post, I tell you what I am doing, step by step.

Overall, I hope to have a consistent paper trail for each family/person. The paper trail also has a digital component which I describe later in this post.  In my very first blog post (April 2017), I listed paper forms for each person’s file.   I bought colored file folders – blue for Dad, teal for Mom, green for Father-in-law and red for Mother-in-law.


 Does the file have these forms? Is each form filled in as completely as possible?  Is each form dated? Taken together, these pages represent a concise summary of what I know at this time.  The forms that I use are:  

5- generation pedigree.  Created from home person (father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in law) for each tree from RootsMagic.  Placed as first page in each file with specific generation circled in red. Reason:  rapid identification of where this family fits

NOTE: There are multiple versions of these forms. These are the ones that I chose:

  1. Family Group Sheet: National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).  2- page (or front and back) form with space for 15 children.  Limitation:  No designated space to add compiler & date compiled.  I add this information at the bottom of the sheet.
  2. Individual worksheet. Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library System, Missouri.  Fillable PDF. Add compiler name & date.   
  3. Research checklist.    Midwest Genealogy Center,Mid-Continent Public Library System, Missouri . Fillable PDF. Add compiler name and date. 
  4. Biographical outline:  Excerpted from The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook, copyright 1996 by Emily Anne Croom, Betterway Books, a division of F&W publications, Cincinnati, Ohio.  HINT: Check your local library for a copy of this book. Add compiler name & date.
  5. Research Log (as available):  Thomas MacAntee’s format. Fill in as I clean-up digital files; handwritten research notes on yellow paper.

Additional pages in a paper file may include but are not limited to census records, copies of certificates, copy of newspaper obituary, correspondence with other researchers, etc.


  • Place documents in chronological order.
  • Remove duplicate copies. Shred or recycle excess paper.
  • Place original documents and photos in archival quality sleeves then in appropriate notebook. Scan document or photo to computer or Cloud as digital items.
  • Make a list of gaps and BSO (bright shiny object) items for later follow-up. 

For me, digital file review and cleanup began after choosing a genealogy software program and entering information to that program. However, you may already have digital files such as pictures and documents on your computer. In this post, I only address media type digital files. File structure for all of your digital  genealogy files is beyond the scope of today’s post.


  • Compare paper and digital files. Do you have the same information in both files? Example: 1940 census record for grandfather. Copy of index record in paper file; image copy of original record in digital file.
  • Look at labels attached to media. You may have multiple media labelled as “1940 United States Federal Census(5).”
  • Locate all media files for a specific person or family group.


Using standardized citations to acknowledge  sources is one part of digital file clean-up.  Another part standardizes naming conventions for media files. 

  1. Pick location for media files associated with a specific person or family group. As you rename media files, move the renamed files to this location.  (Hint: you may need to relink media files in your genealogy software program).
  2. Determine naming convention for media. Use the same format consistently. In general, I use these models: 
    •  Census records: Year_ type_place_state_family or person names
    • Individual records (BMD, burial, military, etc.): surname_given name_birthyear_deathyear_event_eventdate. 
  3. Adopt source citation model commonly used by genealogists. Consult these sources:
  4. Rename source citations and media as needed.
  5. Delete duplicate entries for the same fact or event.
  6. Back up digital files at end of each work session.

  Here’s some examples from my family trees:

As I encounter new information, I add to both paper and digital files. My genealogy program workflow looks like this:

  • Enter event information to RootsMagic. Note if inconsistent or unproven and reason why. Add discovery date.
  • Create source citation using templates.
  • Name source and media using standardized naming convention.
  • Make digital copy of original documents or rename digital media. Attach digital media to event and citation.
  • Transcribe information from source.
  • Create digital research log using format of choice. Print one copy for paper files.
  • Back up digital file at end of each work session.

Seem like lots of work? Well, yes, right now. But, I will leave both paper and digital files in formats that will, I hope, seem logical to my descendants. Writing this blog keeps me focused.   I remind myself – one record, one person, one family at a time! 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Jasper & Francis: The widower marries a widow

A widower with children marries a widow with children. Many of these matches happened out of necessity. Both persons needed someone to help bear the burden of raising their children. Additional children often blessed the union. The death of a Civil War soldier often meant extreme poverty for his widow. A young widow turns to an older man for some relief. This could be the story for Jasper Williamson and his 2nd wife, Mary Francis Copeland Dean. I tell their story in this blog post.  

Born about 1818 in Georgia, Jasper M. Williamson, a farmer, married Mary A. Davis at Jackson County, Georgia, on April 10, 1842. [1]  The parents of both Jasper and Mary probably also lived in Jackson County.  Mary bore 3 children – Louvisa (1842), John Terrell (1846) and Francis ‘Frank’ (1849)- at Jackson county, Georgia prior to August 1850.[2]  An 1849 tax digest shows that Jasper owned 2 slaves and paid taxes of $1.17. [3] 

Jasper relocated his family to Smith county, Texas before the birth of their fourth child, Nancy, in 1852.  Three more children followed: Julius Leslie in October 1854, Mary ‘Mollie’ in 1857 and William Gallatin in March 1860. By September 1860, Jasper owned more land and 9 slaves ranging in age from 1 to 40 years. [4] Then tragedy struck.

Mary A. Davis Williamson died on September 22, 1865, age about 39 years.  [5] At least 5 of the 7 children – John, Frank, Julius, Mollie and Gallatin- survived their mother. Probate records also list “Heirs of Mrs. L. Turner,” presumed to be Louvisa.

In June 1866, less than a year after the death of his first wife, Jasper married again, to Mrs. Francis Dean.  [6]  According to 1860 census, Francis Dean was born about 1838 in Georgia.[7] She married first in September 1858 to T.W. Dean at Smith county, Texas. [8]  They were blessed with a son, James, in 1861.  T.W. joined the 14th Texas Infantry of the Confederate Army in March 1862. [9]  Presumably, T. W. died during the Civil War, leaving his widow with a son to raise. Did Mary Francis follow the mourning customs of the time?

Thus, Jasper, a widower, married a widow. In June 1868, Jasper and his new wife became the parents of Sammie Houston Williamson, my mother-in-law’s maternal great-grandmother.  

The blended family prospered as shown by real estate valued at $2550 and personal estate valued at $1954 by 1870.[10] However, Jasper again became a bereaved husband. Mary Francis Copeland Dean Williamson died between 1874 and 1880. According to the 1880 census, Jasper was a widower with 4 children: Gally, age 20, Sammie, age 13; Ida, age 12, and Annie, age 6. [11] Jasper, age 71, died in 1889 at Van Zandt County, Texas. [12]


Birth year of Mary Francis Copeland Dean – 1838 per 1860 census; 1844 per 1870 census.  If she was born in 1844, then she married first at the age 14 which is possible.

2011– found  1870 census for Jasper Williamson

2015 – found Death certificate for Sammie H. Reed. Names parents as Jasper Williamson & Mary Francis Copeland.

2017 – Found various records. 1880 census for Jasper Williamson. Marriage record for Jasper M. Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean. Marriage record for T. W. Dean & Francis E. Copeland. Marriage record for Mary A. Davis & Jasper Williamson. Probate records for Mary A. Williamson (ca 1865-1867) and Jasper M. Williamson (1889).

2020 – Reviewed print and digital records. Updated research log for Jasper Williamson.  


  “Civil War Widows” by Angela Esc Elder (https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/civil-war-widows.html

Powerpoint presentation: “Widows of the Civil War South,” (https://www.slideshare.net/msleib/widows-of-the-civil-war-south )


This post represents the culmination of work begun in 2011. Today, on an online tree, I saw an 1850 census record in Smith County, Texas for Alexander & Martha Copeland with a 10-year-old daughter named Francis. This record bears further evaluation. I believe that the story of Jasper and Mary Francis is more or less complete.

What I learned: Review all records and critically analyze. Keep research logs. Record ‘found date’ of all records. Records are not always found in a manner that exactly follows the chronological events in a person’s life.

What helped: print copies of some records in files. Research log for Jasper Williamson started in 2017. Reviewing all sources in 2020.

What didn’t help: Still updating citations and labelling files in mother-in-law’s tree. 

To-do: Continue following guidelines learned in Genealogy Do-Over as I update family trees. Keep BSO list to avoid getting side tracked.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


[1] “Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978,” Marriages, Book A,B,C, 1805-1861, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mary A Davis 1842; citing County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia; page 0289.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Georgia, population schedule, Subdivision 45, p. 12B, dwelling 181, family 181, Jasper M. Williamson age 30; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M432, roll 74.

[3] “Georgia, U.S. Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020), entry for J M Williamson, line 13, no page number; citing Georgia Tax Digests [1890], Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, slave schedule, Tyler, p. 68, column 1, lines 2-10; J. M. Williamson, slave owner; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M653.

[5] “Texas, Wills and Probate Records, 1833-1974 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 16 November 2020), entry for Mary A. Williamson, Dec’d.; citing Probate Packets, 1846-1900, Texas, Probate Court (Smith County); File No. 109, Box 112A.

[6] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean, 1866; citing County Marriage Records.

[7] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, population schedule, Tyler, p. 166 (ink pen), dwelling 1143, family 1143, T W Dean; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1305.

[8] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for T.W. Dean and Francis E. Copeland, 9 September 1858; citing County Marriage Records.

[9] “Compiled Service Records of confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas,” Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/13836091  : viewed 17 Nov 2020); citing  National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M323.

[10] 1870 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., Tyler, p. 406A (stamped), dwelling 239, family 239, Jasper Williamson (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 13 April 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593_1605, image 422.

[11] 1880 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., J.P., enumeration district (ED) 095, p. 150D (stamped), dwelling 271, family 275, Jasper M. Williamson; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 2 April 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T9, Roll 1326..

[12] Van Zandt County, Texas, Probate Case Files, Jasper M. Williamson; “Probate Packets 534-600, 1889-1895,” digital images, Texas County, District and Probate Courts, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 2 April 2017); Case Number: 545A.

The Estate Auction – 1886

Have you ever attended an estate auction? Sometimes we buy items for personal use. Sometimes we buy items to re-sell in our antique booth. Recently, we held an estate sale for my mother-in-law who has moved in with us. Our personal family event caused me to think about its bittersweet nature.  Each item tells a story and has a memory attached to it. Many items remain with family. The money creates a small nest egg for her. In this post, I describe auctions held to settle the estate of a deceased ancestor, John E. Ellerbee, who died in 1884 at Hillsborough county, Florida.

Probate records provide the most information.  The term ‘personal estate’ includes livestock, farm implements, furniture and household goods. An appraisal estimates the value of these items. A list of items sold completes the picture.  Search local newspapers for notices about impending auctions.  These notices present clues about the person’s death and what property may have been left.   

To review, here are John’s vital statistics: Born about 1808 at Burke county, Georgia. Married first about 1830 at Houston county, Georgia to [name unknown]; 4 children born to this union- Edward Alexander, Elizabeth, William Green and James John.  Married second in 1842 at Randolph county, Georgia to Martha Love; 12 children born to this union- Sandlin, Smith R, Jasper, Damarius Emeline, Martha, Candis, Eliza, Worth (a.k.a. William?)  Marion, Isephinia, Osephinia, John Francis and Smithiann.  I wrote about John and his family in August 2019.  

John E.  Ellerbee died on 4 April 1884. Approximately two years later, 20 July 1886 to be exact, W.M.  Ellerbee filed a Bond of Administration at Hillsborough county, Florida.[1]  Why the wait before filing? Did John’s wife, Martha, die in the interim? (NOTE: Martha Ellerbee was recorded with her daughter, Eliza Ann Carter, in 1885 at Hillsborough county, Florida. [2] I have not found any record of Martha’s death.)

John Ellerbee’s probate record consists of over 100 pages. On 1 September 1886, W.M. Ellerbee petitioned the court for an ‘order to sell said property at public auction at the late residence of said deceased for cash and for the purpose of closing the settlement of said estate. . . “ The reason? “That said property is liable to perish or be worse for keeping.” [3] The “said property” included 1 yoke oxen (i.e. 2 oxen), 1 cart, 1 old wagon, carpenter’s tools and furniture.

Results of the auction?  The following list tells the story. Note the buyer’s names and the amounts paid for items.

SOURCE: "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; File no. 73, paper no. 8.

In January, 1887, 160 acres of land owned by John sold at auction.  William M. Ellerbee bought the land for $445.00. [4] Add this to $51.80 from the personal property auction for a total of $496.80.  Expenses attributed to the estate included John’s funeral at $10.60 and “hawling oranges” for $2.00.  [5]  In 1888, seven persons received payments totalling  $195.92[6] :  

  • Administrator     $48.92
  • J.N. Ellerbee        $26.40
  • Ocea Ellerbee   $24.80
  • Eliza Carter         $24.80
  • Jay Stewart         $24. 80
  • Lewis Sparkman $24.80
  • Francis Ellerbee  $15.00

The balance due the estate was $300.88. Who received this money?  Heirs received annual payments  through 1895.[7]

Who were John’s heirs? One document (paper number 9) [8]  in the probate file revealed the names of John’s heirs:

This document listed married names of John and Martha’s six daughters as well as husband’s names for four of them. Also, this verified the residence for nine children, circa 1885-1887.

The document lists ‘residence unknown’ for two heirs – S. L. [Sandlin L. Ellerbee] and Emeline D. [Demarious] Simpson.  According to 1885 state census, Sandlin L. Ellerbee lived in Washington county, Florida. [9]  Emeline and her family are recorded as living in Jackson county, Florida in both 1880[10] and 1900[11] censuses.  For some reason, these two did not have contact with their siblings. 

SUMMARY:  John E. Ellerbee’s personal property and land sold for about $500 circa 1886-1887. Dishes sold for $1.10, a wagon for $1.20 and two oxen for $30.00.  The residence of two heirs was apparently unknown to the other siblings. Documents in the probate file revealed more information than I initially expected.


This post began as simply a review of the personal property auction. I shared other information found among the 100+ pages in the file. I am sometimes amazed at the amount of information, or lack of information, found in probate files. Since we attend auctions regularly, I was particularly interested in the pages having to do with the auction itself. These, and evidence of auctions for the estates of other ancestors, show that estate auctions are not a recent phenomenon.

I continue to add layers to each person’s story.  This post adds to the four posts I made last year about John, his wives and his family.

What I learned: Married names for John and Martha’s daughters. The importance of farm animals and farm implements to the 19th century farmer with household goods having less value. More to be learned from this probate record.

What helped: Discovery and printing of some pages last year. Creating pages for 2018 Ellerbee scrapbook. Availability of complete probate record online. 

What didn’t help: Incomplete information about several of John’s children. Not all information transcribed to RootsMagic program on my computer.  

To-do: Continue to complete Family Group Records and Research Logs.  Locate John’s land on GPS. What about the orange grove?


[1] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 5 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73; citing “Florida, Willas and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts; administrator: W.M. Ellerbee.

[2] 1885 Florida State Census, Hillsborough county, population schedule, , page 4 D (ink pen); page 105D, family 35, M. Ellerbee, age 67, boarder; 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. On same page are J.N. & Jane Ellerbee and family, LC & SM Sparkman and family.

[3] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File no. 73, paper no. 7.

[4] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 11.

[5] . “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 12.

[6] “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 13.

[7] “ Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 16. Recorded in Book C of Executors, Administrators and Administration, page 158.

[8]“Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry, entry for John Ellerbee, File 73, paper no. 9.

[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] 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.

[11]  1900 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Florida, population schedule, Pleasant Hill, enumeration district (ED) 0056, sheet no. 7, dwelling 102, fa ily 103, Emeline Simpson 51; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 28 September 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

“A soldier of Texas has fallen”: George Creager Holcomb (1821-1902)

Last month’s blog focused on Narcissa Rutherford  (Are Samuel and Elizabeth parents of Narcissa?).  Today, I tell about her husband, George Creager Holcomb, my husband’s great-great-great grandfather.  George’s ancestors immigrated to Texas from Arkansas with family origins in Kentucky, Maryland and South Carolina.  


George Creager Holcomb and his 2nd wife, Mary Ann Selman, are my husband’s great-great-great grandparents on his mother’s side.  George Creager Holcomb, born in 1821,  was the oldest of 11 children born to Joseph Holcomb (1796, South Carolina – 1881, Texas) and Sarah Creager (1799, Kentucky – 1870, Texas).  Both Joseph and Sarah are believed to be descended from Revolutionary War Patriots.  George’s birthplace is reported as Illinois in some online family trees and Arkansas in most census records.  The 1830 census for Washington county, Arkansas Territory lists Joseph Holcomb’s family as including one white male, aged 5 thru 9 . [1] Given preponderance of evidence, George was probably born in Arkansas.

Joseph Holcomb moved his family from Arkansas to Cherokee County, Texas between 1840[2] and  November, 1850. [3]  According to the 1850 census, only one of George’s siblings, Henderson H. Holcomb, age  7, was born in Texas.  Arkansas was the listed birthplace for all others.  Henderson’s reported birth date of 7 January 1844[4] suggests that the move occurred between 1840 and January 1844. This is consistent with other information that Joseph Holcomb followed George and his first wife, Narcissa Rutherford, to Cherokee county in the early 1840s. [5]

Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb died about 1851 leaving George with four children under the age of 10. George married his second wife, 17 year-old Mary Ann Selman, in May 1853. [6]  Children came rapidly – Joseph W. Holcomb in May 1854; Thomas Henry Holcomb in January 1856; Benjamin Franklin Holcomb in February 1858 (my husband’s great-great grandfather), and Julia A. Holcomb in July 1860. Children born during and after the Civil War were Beatrice Holcomb in February 1863, William Garrett Holcomb in October 1866, Jefferson Lee Holcomb in August 1869 and Martha Alice Holcomb in January 1872.[7]

According to information on his grave marker, George C. Holcomb served as Captain in the 10th Texas State Troops, Confederate States Army. [8]

George Creager Holcomb 5

Source: Find A Grave Memorial no. 32434400. Photo taken by  Denise.

G.C. Holcomb received an appointment as 2nd lieutenant in Company K, 1st Regiment, Texas Infantry, Confederate States Army on 9 September 1861.[9]  In July 1862, quartermaster records show the sale of “2 mouse colored mules, $500” by G. C. Holcomb.[10]  The First Texas Infantry joined Confederate forces in Virginia in August 1861 with the regiment later becoming part of John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade and the Army of Northern Virginia.  “The regiment saw extensive combat throughout the war” including 32 major battles such as Antietam on 17 September 1862; Gettysburg on 1-3 July 1863, and the Petersburg siege from June 1864 to April 1865. “The regiment surrendered along with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.”[11]

After moving to Cherokee County, Texas in the 1840s, the family unit suffered losses and celebrated new lives. George and his 1st wife, Narcissa, lived in Cherokee county in 1850[12].  In 1860, Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents, reported George W. Holcomb, age 8, as living with them. [13]  Census records for 1870[14], 1880[15] and 1900[16] show that George, Mary Ann and their children continued to live in the Cherokee county area.   

brick wallNow comes my brick wall –  finding George, Mary and their older children in 1860. Where were the older children of George and Narcissus– John Lewis, William Henry, and Sarah Elizabeth- in 1860?  This topic is for another post. For now,  the whereabouts of George and his family in 1860 remain hidden from me. George’s occupation as a farmer may present clues to solve this mystery. 

George Creager Holcomb died on 19 September 1902 in Alto, Cherokee county, Texas. [17] , [18] Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, his 2nd wife, outlived him by more than a decade, dying on 5 June 1913 in Cherokee County. They are buried in Shiloh Cemetery near Alto. [19].  His obituary sums up his life– “A soldier in Texas has fallen. . . . nobility of character and his stainless integrity. . . . pleasant and genial in manner. . . . possessed a buoyancy of spirit that made him everybody’s friend. . . . He lived and died a consistent Christian. . . . He was the oldest member of a very large connection in Texas. . . . ” 

The Holcomb tradition continues as many descendants still live in this area of east Texas. 



Some states recognize April as Confederate History month. First drafts of this post began with that fact and included information about controversies surrounding the holiday. I removed that introduction because I commented last year on those who seem to want to remove images and references to the Confederacy from the public view. I re-read part of my journal entry / reflection from that post.  I still do not believe that we should judge the past according to today’s standards.

As usual, writing this post revealed gaps. One gap has now turned into a brick wall that seems impenetrable. I spent hours reviewing 1860 census records page by page and haven’t yet found George and Mary.  I only found one of George and Narcissa’ s children, George W. Holcomb, who was living with Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford, Narcissa’s parents. I saw an article about the use of plat maps and tried that approach with no result. I now add this item to my “To-Do” list.

I am just beginning to apply Genealogy Do-Over principles to this family tree, in essence starting over.  Colored folders contain hard copies of records, individual record sheets and family group sheets. Story writing helps with digital file cleanup. Checking data and rewriting citations seem less tedious when done in relatively small chunks like this.     

What I learned:  Sometimes, it’s best to just put something aside. Continue to use research logs of parents as base for creating logs for children.  

What helped: access to multiple online and print resources.  Met goal of less than 1500 words for content of post. Keeping genealogy standards in mind.

What didn’t help: increasing frustration when I couldn’t readily find 1860 census record for George and Mary Ann. I spent more time than expected on this post. 

TO-DO:  Death certificate for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb. Add following items as BSOs (bright shiny objects that detract from main objective) — Find George C Holcomb, Mary Ann Holcomb and their children in 1860. Follow lives of John Lewis, William Henry, Sarah Elizabeth and George Washington Holcomb, children of George and his 1st wife, Narcissa. Fill in research logs for each person as I discover information.  Report on blog or write article for publication in genealogy journal. 


[1] 1830 U.S. Census, Washington county, Arkansas Territory, population schedule, , page 193, line 7, Joseph Holcomb, ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed,printed,downloaded 17 Jan 2015 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M19-5.

[2] 1840 U.S. Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line, Joseph Hanleen [Holcomb]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration,Washington, D. C. microfilm publication M704. No date recorded on census image.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 881B, dwelling 527, family 527, Joseph Holcomb; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com   :  accessed, printed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images  (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 14 April 2019), memorial page for Pvt Henderson H. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 9791625, citing Holcomb Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Bev, photograph by Denise Brown Biard Ercole.

[5] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, The Holcombes. Nation Builders.: A Family Having as Great a Part as Any in the Making of All North American Civilization (Washington, D.C.: Elizabeth Weir McPherson, 1947), 500.

[6]   “Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966 – 2002”, database, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Apr 2011), entry for George C. Holcomb and Mary Ann Sellman.  Record Book:  Marriage Records of Cherokee County, Texas (1846-1880), Vol. 1. Compiled by Ogreta Wilson Huttash, Jacksonville, TX 75766, 1976. Repository: Dallas Public Library.  P. 34. “As recorded in Book B, p. 142”.

[7] Sources for the children’s birth information include census records, death certificates and gravestones. Will share details per request.

[8] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com   : viewed, printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Cherokee county, Texas), memorial created by Susan Harnish, photograph by Denise.

[9] “Unfiled papers and slips belonging to Confederate Compiled Service Records,” digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, downloaded, printed 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb (confederate, Texas); citing Confed. Arch. Chap. 1, File No. 92, page 1; National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M347, roll 0189.

[10]  “Confederate Papers relating to Citizens or Business Firms, compiled 1874-1899, documenting the period 1861-1865,” digital images, Fold3  (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed, printed, downloaded 17 April 2019), entry for G.C. Holcomb, sale of 2 mules; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M346, roll 0455; document 260.

[11] James A. Hathcock, “First Texas Infantry,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkf13   : 17 April 2019).

[12] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 927B, household 847, family 847, Narcissa Holcomb age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[13] 1860 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 2, p. 431, dwelling 268, family 268, Samuel Rutherford; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1290.

[14] 1870 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 1, Alto Post office, p. 9 (ink pen), dwelling 60, family 60, Halcomb George C, 49; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 16 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication M593.

[15] 1880 U.S. Census, Houston county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 32 D (ink pen), dwelling 264, family 276, Holcomb G C age 59; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 18 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1312.

[16] 1900 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 13A, dwelling 221, family 227, George Holcomb father, age 79; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed, downloaded 15 April 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1619.

[17] Obituary for George Craiger Holcomb, typewritten “copied from the Alto Herald”, no date, in documentation file supporting Membership Application of Otha Holcomb Harrison (National no. M670197) on John Holcomb, approved February 1983; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

[18] Find A Grave, George C. Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 32434400.

[19] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 22 April 2019), memorial page for Mary Ann Selman Holcomb, Find A Grave Memorial # 101196611, citing Shiloh Cemetery (Alto, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Judy Murphy, photograph by Judy Murphy.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

Genealogy digital spring clean-up

Spring cleaning. Air out the house after months being closed up. Dust everything even baseboards and tops of cabinets that no one can see. Get rid of worn-out items and start fresh. I am running out of space on my 8-year-old laptop. My son deleted unnecessary program files accumulated over the years. Then, it was my turn for a serious look at everything else, especially genealogy files.


I started by moving most files to OneDrive, an online storage program that syncs with your computer.  Files can be online only or downloaded to your device but are also available online for viewing from other devices. You can identify files as “always available on this device”. Then, I looked for and deleted duplicate files and folders. Next, I backed up all files to external hard drive because I hadn’t done that in 2 months. Should I have done the external hard drive backup first??  Identifying older and rarely used files as “online storage only” seemed like the next logical step.

I queried Google how to move files from hard drive to online only. One advice column mentioned that deleting a file from hard drive would still preserve it online. Other message boards seemed to support the same action.  So, I began the process of deleting some files from PC hard drive.  When I clicked on “Delete”, a message popped up that file would be permanently deleted from PC hard drive but would still be available online.  I  deleted a few files from OneDrive online.

The next day, I had an email alert from OneDrive – (paraphrased) “we noticed that you have deleted a lot of files. These deleted files will remain in the Recycle Bin for 30 days then be permanently deleted from your OneDrive files.”  PANIC!!  I DON’T WANT TO PERMANENTLY DELETE THE FILES FROM ONEDRIVE ONLINE ACCOUNT!!

Calm down a little! I do have the files backed up on external hard drive. I use multiple devices and do not always have external hard drive with me. Doubtful that I will need any of these older files when I am away from home and the online program is part of my backup plan.  Daily emails with OneDrive support team ensued.  Their first response was basically a standardized answer that made little sense to me as a person who is not fluent in tech jargon. Five days later, we may have answers.

First, my primary computer was not synced with OneDrive online files. Not sure why or when that happened. A link to a program upgrade fixed that issue. Second, some files still show a sync issue with an error message – “You already have a file or folder with this name in the same location.”  Suggested fix is to rename item on either PC or online to keep both. Another option is to delete version on PC to download the online version.  That seems to work well for individual files and not so well for folders.  I am still scared that those files will disappear completely from both PC and OneDrive.

Some files are readily available online and easily accessed from my PC, just like files that I save only to PC hard drive. When I open these files, the dropdown menu includes an option to “Free up space”. This option moves the file to online only access and frees up space on hard drive. This is the option that I should have been using instead of deleting files from hard drive.  Restart main PC.  More or less space on PC? At the time of this post, I have more space on main PC.

Will some of those files that I deleted earlier still disappear from OneDrive online? Support tech said “Yes”. I’ll let you know in 30 days!

FYI—I started Genealogy Do-Over in 2017. Renaming files is one task. How many “1880 United States Census (4)” transferred with GED files from Ancestry? One in each family tree. I keep each family line in a separate tree. My spring clean-up revealed multiple files with same name, such as “img_004” in various folders. I also found complete folders saved as subfolders under other folders. Example: Gravestone pictures from our 2017 Pennsylvania trip were saved under 3 different folders!!  Fear of losing information led to a hoarding-type situation! As a result, I sometimes couldn’t find specific items. Hmm, genealogy hoarding disorder??

A backup plan is essential to prevent loss of your work.  Create a plan and stick with it at regularly scheduled intervals. Test plan on a small dataset and include a restore test.

 Thomas MacAntee suggests a 3-2-1 plan:  [1]

  • “At least 3 different backups.” Personally, I use cloud, external harddrive, and personal computer. Personal computer may not reliable as a backup.
  • “Use 2 different media for backup.”
  • “At least 1 backup must be offsite, and away from the original source computer.” Use of the Cloud is one example.  

So, the work continues.



This has been a difficult week. A family emergency took me away from home for 8 days. The email notice about files potentially disappearing only increased my stress. Fortunately, I had internet access and could correspond daily with OneDrive Support staff.  I didn’t have access to my primary PC so I couldn’t try any of the suggested fixes until I got home.  I still don’t know if those ‘deleted’ files will actually disappear from OneDrive online.

What I learned:  Don’t follow advice of only one person. Read all instructions about program or service carefully.  When in doubt, contact Support Team. Follow 3-2-1 back up plan on regular basis. 

What helped: A very patient tech who responded with non-technical terms when I kept asking the same questions. Remembering that I had multiple backups of all files in more than one location. 

What didn’t help:  Being away from home and primary computer.  Initial sense of panic.

To-Do:  Continue process of using ‘free up space’ option on primary computer to move older and rarely used files to ‘online only’.  Check that each file is on external hard drive and another Cloud location before using ‘free up space’ option.  Buy new primary computer!

For more information about Microsoft OneDrive, watch this video:

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots 2019


[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019),  Step 12. Securing Research Data, 59-60; digital images, PDF version.

Herman Maurer & Anna Klee, maternal great-grandparents

Herman Maurer (1858-1927).  Anna Klee (1864-1918)

Maurer_Herman_wife Anna Klee_ca unknown

Herman Maurer and Anna Klee. privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of Herman and Anna. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

You probably saw at least one blog post about Herman, Anna or their children. Each post captured a single life event and discussed  genealogical research methods and/or findings.  I am still searching for records related to Herman and Anna’s childhoods, specifically 1870 and 1880 census records. However, I can share information about the life of Herman and Anna as a couple.

Take a trip down memory lane:

30 April 2017: Birth certificate of daughter, Amalie Charlotte Maurer

15 May 2017:  Charlotte Maurer Tucker in Reflections on Mother’s Day, 2017

21 December 2017: Anna’s autograph book

12 April 2018:  Viola Maurer, Herman and Anna’s youngest child

6 June 2018:  Herman and Anna’s ‘missing children’

1 August 2018:  Herman and Anna in 1920 census

Herman Maurer and Anna Klee were first-generation Americans.  Their parents immigrated to the United States in the 1850s. Herman’s father, Valentin Maurer, was from Baden, Germany.  [1]  His mother, Anna Katharina Korzelious (approximate spelling), was also from Germany. [2] Baden lies in the southwest part of Germany, close to an area called Alsace-Lorraine. Alsace-Lorraine alternated between German and French rule throughout its history.  (Note: Mom always said that her Maurer ancestors were from Alsace-Lorraine.)

Map of Germany showing Baden and Prussia from Encyclopedia Brittanica

Source:  https://www.britannica.com/place/Prussia.  Accessed 10 August 2018

Anna’s parents, Ludwig Klee and Anna Wolf, came from Germany, possibly Prussia [3] or Holland[4] .  I haven’t found consistent records to verify either claim.

Herman Maurer, the oldest child of Valentin Maurer and Katharina Korzelious, was born 16 October 1858 in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic county, New Jersey.[5]  Valentin apparently moved his family to Brooklyn, New York, by 1866, where Herman’s sister, Katharine, was born.[6]

Anna Klee was born 25 July 1864 in Brooklyn, Borough of Kings, New York to Ludwig (or Louis) Klee and Anna Wolf.[7]  According to aunt Viola’s history, Anna was one of five children. [8]

Herman, age 25, and Anna, age 19, married on December 31, 1883 in Brooklyn, New York. [9] I have no  family story about how they met.  They may have lived in the same neighborhood or attended the same church. Discovery of 1870 and 1880 census records for the two families may yield that information.

Maurer_Herman_Anna_Klee_MC_for blog

Herman and Anna lived at 169 Hopkins Street in Brooklyn according to various records.  This multi-family dwelling no longer exists.

Hopkins Street

Photo by Percy Sperry. ©Milstein Division, The New York Public Library.  Used with permission.  Photo accessed 26 July 2018 from New York Public Library Digital Collections:   https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-d3dc-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Children came quickly and often to the couple.  In 1910, Anna reported being the mother of 8 children with 5 still living.[10] Records support or confirm the births of 7 of those children:

  • Edward (born 1885; died 1892)[11]
  • Arthur, born 1887[12]
  • William Charles, born 30 June 1890[13]
  • Amalie Charlotte (born 26 May 1892; my grandmother)[14]
  • Herman Charles (born 22 Aug 1893)[15]
  • Emma Lizzie (born and died 1898)[16] (Note: Found after I posted “Missing Children”).
  • Viola Blanche (born 16 Mar 1907)[17]

I am waiting on a copy of birth certificate for Lillian, born about 1901, and died young.  Anna probably had all of these children at home.  UPDATE  22 Oct 2018:  Received from another Maurer researcher, copy of birth certificate for Lilian Maurer, born 7 Jan 1901; source NY Birth Index.   Parents listed as Henry Maurer and Catherine Schell. Back to the records! 

Maurer children composite

Photos privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs of girls originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of Herman and Anna;  given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018. Photographs of Maurer boys originally held by Mercedes Viola Tucker Bunce, granddaughter of Herman and Anna; digital copies sent to Ms. Ellerbee by Barbara (Bunce) Rosier, daughter of Mercedes Viola Tucker Bunce, May 2018.

Herman worked as a mechanic.  About 1903, Herman and Anna moved to Huntington, Suffolk county, New York, on Long Island.  Charlotte and her husband, Esbon Tucker, lived with Herman after their marriage. [18]

Anna died in 1918 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn.  [19] Herman continued to live with Charlotte and her family until his death in 1927. [20]

Of Herman and Anna’s five surviving children, only two gave birth to grandchildren.  Charlotte and Esbon had four children. Herman Charles and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth,  had two children.  Mom talked often about having only two cousins on her mother’s side.  The death of her cousin, Herman, in World War II,[21] left her with only one Maurer first cousin.  As I remember, mom knew about her distant cousins but had lost contact with most of them.



I wish I knew more about Anna’s parents.  Their file holds little information and much of that is contradictory.  I haven’t found 1870 or 1880 census records for either set of parents.  I debated about posting because of this. The search continues.

What I learned:  What little I really know about the Klee family beyond names and a few dates.  I wish that I listened better when Mom was alive and telling the stories!

What helped:  Documents and records already in file. Thanks to cousins,  I now have pictures of Herman and Anna as well as pictures of their young children.

What didn’t help:  Lack of information about Anna’s parents.  As I reviewed documents in my files, I realized that much of the information was contradictory.   I spent several hours searching with minimal results. Today’s BSO is  tomorrow’s  focused search.  I created research logs for Ludwig and Anna but the logs are not complete.

TO-DO:  Renew search for Ludwig Klee and Anna Wolf. Start over with only Viola’s history. Critically analyze each document.  Record each step!!!  Request birth certificates for Arthur, William, Herman and Viola. Request death certificates for Edward, Emma Lizzie, Lillian and their mother, Anna Klee Maurer. This could be very expensive! Explore options to contact other Maurer cousins.

[1] Valentine Maurer, death certificate no. 16339 (1898), New York City Archives, New York City, New York City, New York.

[2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Atlantic county, New Jersey, population schedule, Galloway, p. 291 (penned), dwelling 2238, family 2205, Catherine Maurer, age 31, birthplace Germany; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 31 January 2018); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653_682.

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B (penned), Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[4] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” page 1; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980 sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[5] Hermann Maurer, death certificate no. 10424 (1927), Department of Health of the City of New York, New York City, New York; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, June 2015

[6]New York, Bureau of Records, Department of Health, Borough of Brooklyn, Certificate of Death no. 23456 (4 December 1941), Katherine A. Scheffel; Muncipal Archives, New York City, New York; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, July 2016.

[7] Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” page  2.

[8] Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” pages 2 & 3.

[9] Brooklyn, New York, Certificate of Marriage Brooklyn, no. 3739, Hermann Maurer & Anna Klee, 31 December 1883; New York City Department of Records & Information Services, New York City; copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, June 2014.

[10] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, ED 1367, p. 2B (penned), Family #26, Herman Maurer (head).

[11] Prepared by Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogy Group, “New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & printed 17 July 2016), entry for Edward Maurer, b abt 1885, died June 1892; citing “New York City deaths, 1862-1948,” New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives; Certificate #10178.

[12] “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 4 February 2018), entry for Arthur Maurer; citing , United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, Roll: 1818992; Draft Board: 1.

[13] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed & downloaded 1 February 2018), memorial page for William Charles Maurer, Find A Grave Memorial # 2749358, citing Long Island National Cemetery (East Farmingdale, Suffolk, New York), memorial created by Chuck, photograph by Chuck.

[14] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Street, New York, N.Y. 10007. Copy of original privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Copy of original obtained from New York City Municipal Archives, March 2017.

[15]  “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W74-MXN: 20 March 2015) : accessed & printed 17 March 2017), entry for Herman Maurer; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference certificate no. 11175, New York Municipal Archives, New York.

[16] “New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2WFS-Q5K : 10 February 2018), Emma Lizzie Maurer, 04 Sep 1898; citing Death, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,324,009.

[17] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:61903/1:1:2WCT-7YW: 20 March 2015), Anna Klee Maurer in entry for Blanche V. Maurer, 16 Mar 1907; citing Manhanttan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 10873 New York Municipal Achives, New York. Event place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York.

[18] 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Herman Maurer, head, age 60, widower; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269.

[19]  “New York State Death Index, 1880-1956,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com :  accessed & downloaded 23 July 2018); entry for Anna Maurer, 1918, 26 Jul, Huntington, pg. 1003; citing “NY State Death Index,” New York Department of Health, Albany, N.Y.’ Certificate number: 45345.

[20] New York City death certificate no 10424 (1927), Hermann Maurer.

[21] For more information about Herman Maurer (1923 – 1944), read my 2017 Memorial Day post. 

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2018.

Remembering Dad (and his male ancestors)

My father, Daniel Richard Posten, would be 100 years old by now. I considered writing about him for this week’s blog post but couldn’t seem to bring myself to do so. Why? I couldn’t identify a specific reason at first. Then, I realized that Dad died 20 years ago this month. An anniversary of sorts. The words don’t flow easily. So, I begin with some basic genealogical information about Dad and the men who lived before him.

Ancestor Fan of Daniel Richard Posten_ver4

Ancestor Fan Chart for Daniel R. Posten.  Created using Legacy genealogy software, copyrighted  by Millenia Corporation,

The next generation of Dad’s male ancestors are:

  • Thomas Posten (1782, New Jersey – 1854, Pennsylvania)
  • John Mills (abt 1811, New York  – 1891, ? New York)
  • David Fulkersin (ca 1775, New Jersey – abt 1819, ? New Jersey     )
  • Adam Shotwell (1778, New Jersey – 1830, New Jersey)
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759, New Jersey – 1831, New Jersey)
  • Thomas Ostrander (1745, New York – 1816, New York)
  • Anthony Desire LaCoe/ LeCoq (1780, France –  1883, Pennsylvania)
  • Ira Ash (1794, Connecticut –  1873, Pennsylvania)

Dad’s family roots began squarely within three of the original 13 colonies – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. These three colonies, plus Delaware, are known as the “Middle Colonies”. In general, once settled in Pennsylvania, men remained in the same locales with their families for decades. Descendants from all lines still reside in Pennsylvania. Countries of origin haven’t yet been positively identified for our Posten, Richards, Fulkerson, Mills, and Shotwell lines, although we (myself, my brother, our cousins) suspect that most of the original immigrants came from England. Original immigrants are known for the LaCoe (France) and Ostrander (Holland and Germany) ancestors.

I cannot claim any famous or notorious persons as a direct ancestor. The men primarily worked as farmers to support their families.  By the late 1800s, some moved to urban areas.  In a documentary, they would probably be described as “average” Americans with some participating more actively in their communities and churches than others. Nothing extraordinary except a desire to provide for their families and leave a strong legacy for their children.

My dad was such a man. Raised near small towns in northeastern Pennsylvania, Daniel, one of six children, completed high school in 1935. He joined the United States Army Air Corp and learned to repair airplanes. His military service extended through the end of World War II. After leaving the Army, Dan worked as an airplane mechanic with American Airlines. Apparently, he inherited a gardening gene from his mother; his vegetable garden provided a steady supply of food for us.  Carpentry, a hobby for Dan,  was listed as the occupation for some of Dad’s ancestors. My siblings and I each inherited, and cherish,  one or more pieces of furniture made by Dad. He and mom insisted that we complete high school while encouraging us to obtain both formal and informal education after that.  Dan retired in 1981 and bought a small acreage in Oklahoma. The backyard family garden enlarged to about one acre. Later, he and mom moved to Arkansas to be near their youngest daughter (me). About a year before his death, Dan and Eunice moved back to Oklahoma, where Dan died in 1998 and Eunice died in 2007.

Mary_Martha_Dan_Grace_Lester_ca 1980-82 PA_w names

George R. Posten, 2nd oldest child of John and Jennie, died in 1955. Family photograph, privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee,  [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. From boxes of photographs belonging to her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten; obtained by Ms. Ellerbee upon her mother’s death in 2007.

My siblings and I inherited more than just DNA. We inherited a sense of pride in a “job well done”, a work ethic, a desire to make life better for our children and faith in God. We were taught that citizenship includes both rights and responsibilities.  We recognize the value of education whether that education is academic or technical. We volunteer in our local communities. Don’t let me mislead you with this almost idyllic description. Our family was, and is, not perfect. But, we do take pride in our family history.

Our family history (most of it, anyway) is as old as the history of the United States. Our family is not unique in this respect. Ordinary people doing ordinary things yet creating something extraordinary – a sense of family in America.



This entire post is a reflection on fathers, including my own. My genealogy work has given me a more profound sense of how deep our American roots are. And, yes, I did write about my Dad, even though that was not my initial intent.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, 2017-2018.  Excerpts and links may be used when full and clear credit, including appropriate and specific direction to the original content, is given to Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots. Unauthorized use or duplication of material without the written permission of the owner is prohibited.




Weddings past & present

May 19, 2018 –a memorable day for weddings.  Our son married his high school sweetheart here in Oklahoma.  Oh, yes, there was another wedding in London, England.

So, weddings are the topic of this blog post. Specifically, I share information about the marriage of my maternal great-grandparents, William Frederick Tucker and Bertha Traver. William is the son of Jeremiah Tucker and Margaret Irwin. Bertha is the daughter of Esbon Traver and Nancy Jones.  Both the bride and groom lived in Greene county, New York.  Among other items from my mother, I inherited a folded up gift box.

Tucker-Traver_marriage certificate_box

Marriage certificate for William F. Tucker and Bertha Traver, 11 September 1887, privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Certificate, in pieces, in folded-up gift box. Given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, granddaughter of William F. Tucker & Bertha Traver.

box label


The handwritten label on the box reads:


The box contains large and small fragments of paper.  My graphic artist husband scanned the pieces and created a digital copy of the certificate.

TuckerTraver Marriage Certificate

Digital copy of marriage certificate for William F. Tucker and Bertha Traver, 1887. Created by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 2010. Certificate, in pieces, in folded-up gift box, given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother, Eunice Bertha Tucker Posten, granddaughter of William F. Tucker & Bertha Traver.

Although incomplete, the certificate confirms information about William and Bertha’s wedding, including date and place. “William F. Tucker of Freehold, Greene  County and Miss Bertha Traver of Norton HIll, Greene County, were united in holy matrimony according to the ordinances of God and the State of New York at ______________________ on the [11th] day of September in the year of  Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and eighty seven.”

Last month, I received a box of old pictures and other family memorabilia from a cousin.  I was ecstatic to find pictures of William and Bertha which may have been taken about the time of their wedding!

William F Tucker_Bertha Traver_crop

William F. and Bertha  (Traver) Tucker photographs ca 1887, names written on back of photographs; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of William F. and Bertha. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

Piece by piece, my maternal great-grandparents’ story emerges.



For privacy reasons, I choose to not provide pictures and other information about our son’s wedding. We are pleased to add my son’s bride to our family. Other marriages will be the subject of later blog posts. A marriage represents a significant transition in the lives of individuals and families. Records and information are available but may only come to you in pieces.

Two sides to every document

FACT: There are two sides to every document. An obvious statement, you say. I agree. So, why am I writing about this? Because I was surprised recently when I turned over a document and read what was written on the back of the page. Here’s the story.

In my last blog post, I mentioned a box of family pictures and documents sent to me by a cousin.[1] Among the documents is a yellowed, fragile piece of paper with a list of names and dates. An uneven edge and incomplete dates suggest that the paper was torn. The paper measures 10 inches long x 4 inches wide.  A scanned copy, received via email about two months ago, did not reveal the color or condition of the page. First guess? From a family Bible, although the page did not include the usual headings of “Births” and “Deaths”.

Jones_Jimmey_Patience_children_crop_for blog

Jimmey Jones and Patience, list of names & dates.  Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. 

The list appears to be a list of children born to Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens (or variation). These characteristics identify the document as a primary or original source. The origin of the information is unknown although possibly based on firsthand knowledge of the events. [2]  (For a review of  primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, read  “Evaluating sources & information”.

The person of interest is “Nancy born September the 22: 1823” (line 9). Nancy A. Jones, wife of Esbon Traver, is one of my maternal great- great grandmothers. Nancy’s maiden name is carved on their gravestone. [3] I admit that I presumed the information to be true and haven’t actively done the research to confirm Nancy’s maiden name.

This list of names introduced me for the first time to Nancy’s parents, Jimmey (James) Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens. Confirming names and dates on the list is the subject of a future post. Today, I focus on the document itself.

I turned the page over, expecting to find it blank. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered additional information there. A printed form with hand written entries, a date, and tape marks. Get out the white gloves!

Reverse side of Jimmey Jones and Patience list:

Esbon_Traver_reverse side Jimmey Jones_Patience children.jpg

The list of names and dates wasn’t a page torn from a family Bible! It was written on the back of a form. Tape marks suggest that someone thought one side was more important than the other.  As a genealogist, both sides of the page are equally important. Where is the rest of the page? What information is on that paper?

Who is George Barker, named as substitute for 37 year-old Esbon Traver? Many men “avoided military service by simply taking advantage of that section of the Enrollment Act of 1863 allowing draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them.” [4]  I am still looking for his service record and will report in a later post.

Compare the handwriting on both sides of the documents. I’m not a handwriting expert but the handwriting appears to be that of two different people. Ink appears consistent with time period of 1860s. I need a hero- an historical document expert!

Review of historical documents is one aspect of genealogy. Asking questions – who, what, when, where, why- reveal information about the document and its provenance.  The National Archives suggests these steps to analyze such documents: [5]

  1. Meet the document.
  2. Observe its parts.
  3. Try to make sense of it.
  4. Use it as historical evidence.

As you meet a document, inspect it carefully. Dates and signatures give clues about the document’s authenticity.[6] Is there a seal on the document?  Look for signs of tampering. Read the words carefully. Is there a hidden meaning? Consult books on historical and/or genealogical research for more information about document analysis.

Questions and preliminary answers:

  1. Who wrote the document? List of names could have been written by Esbon Traver, his wife, Nancy Jones, or one of their children. A different person probably wrote the entry on the other side.
  2. What information is contained in the document? One side: A list of names and dates beginning with Jimmey Jones and Patience Heamons/ Havens and their presumed children. Other side: Entry for a substitute for Esbon Traver, dated 1864.
  3. When was the document written? List of names: After 1866, since that is last date on the document. Substitute form:  Probably 1864.
  4. Where was the document written? Unknown, possibly Ulster or Greene county, New York.  Sources: census records for Esbon Traver and his wife, Nancy.
  5. Why was the document written? List of names: to preserve family history? Consider possibility that back of substitute document was an available piece of paper and, therefore, used for the purpose of recording family names and dates.
  6. How was the document produced? Printed form on one side.  Handwritten entries on the form. Handwritten name and date list on the other side of the form.

Next steps:  Consult with historical document expert and/or handwriting expert. Continue search for records about Jimmey, Patience, and their children. Identify Civil War service record for George Barker.

Online resources:  I found this Document Analysis Worksheet  on the National Archives Website.



I was really surprised to find the ‘substitute’ form and entries on the back side of the name list. I don’t know why I expected a blank page. Now, I have more information about Esbon Traver.  I plan to follow up on the substitute information. I remembered bits and pieces about evaluating historical documents from various research courses. The date on the form helps to date the paper itself and gives another clue about the date of the entries on both sides of the paper.  I don’t have the exact provenance of the paper – who gave it to my uncle? Since he and my maternal grandfather are both named Esbon, presumably after Esbon Traver, I wonder if the paper was given to my grandfather by one of his parents and then to my uncle. I need to buy a basic ‘genealogy how-to’ book for reference purposes. Maybe one about historical research methods?

What I learned:  Always look at both sides of a document! Expanded my knowledge base about the dating of documents.  Found a worksheet for document analysis.

What helped:  seeing and handling the original document. Having an archival quality plastic sleeve for the document.

What didn’t help:  knowing the document was old but no idea how old (paper from 1864). I would have gotten my white gloves out sooner!

Future plans: Consult historical document expert.


[1] Family papers and photographs from estate of Esbon Herman Tucker (1917 – 2003). Privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Items sent to Ms. Ellerbee by Mr. Tucker’s daughter, April 2018.  Mr. Tucker is brother of Ms. Ellerbee’s mother.

[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015), 24-25.

[3] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : viewed 27 April 2018), memorial page for Nancy H. Jones Traver, Find A Grave Memorial # 92468922, citing Locust Cemetery (Greenville, Greene county, New York), memorial created by Lorna Puleo, photograph by Lorna Puleo.

[4] Michael T. Meier. “Civil War Draft Records: Exemptions and Enrollments”.  Prologue, Winter 1994, Vol. 26, No. 4, Genealogy Notes.  (https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1994/winter/civil-war-draft-records.html  :  accessed 8 May 2018), paragraph 4.

[5]National Archives, “Teaching with Documents: Document Analysis,”  National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/education/lessonsaccessed 8 May 2018).  Includes worksheets and other materials related to the analysis of documents and other primary sources.

[6] History Detectives, “Document This,” PBS, History Detectives (http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/educators/technique-guide/document-this/  :  accessed 8 May 2018).