Followup:  A chance meeting—Part 3 (conclusion) : Identifying  Benjamin Avery Posten’s parents

A chance meeting, multiple researchers, tenuous census record hints, enlistment papers, wills and probate records.  What do these things have in common? Over a period of years, all finally led to the same question and, I believe, an answer.  Who are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten?  In my last two posts, I related the story behind my joining this search and some findings. In this post, I share more findings and my conclusion about the identity of Benjamin’s parents.

Each document has one or more clues. The diagram shows the relationship between the documents and clues.

The chance meeting was between Daniel Richard Posten (my dad) and George Avery Posten in the rural town of Mannford, Oklahoma.  Dad and George had similar family stories of two immigrant brothers. Dad was born and raised in Pennsylvania. George’s grandfather, Benjamin Avery Posten, was born in Pennsylvania. The two families could be related!

Information posted by others included census records and enlistment papers for B.A. Posten. Specific items were:

  • 1850 census record, Mercer county, Pennsylvania. [1] The family included 64 year-old Caleb Corbin, 63-year-old Sarah Corbin, 36 year-old Delia Corbin and 10 year-old Benjamin Corbin.
  • 1860 census record,  Mercer county:  68-year-old Sarah Corban [sic] living with 45 year-old Delia Hanna and 4 year-old Sarah Hanna. [2] 
  • Volunteer Enlistment papers for B.A. Posten, dated 15th August 1862. [3]  Handwritten information (underlined here) on the document: “State of Pa town of Mercer, I, B.A. Posten, born in Huntingdon Co. in the state of Pa and now a resident of Mercer County, aged 24 years. . . .” 

I wrote about persons with surname of Posten in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, in 2012. [4] In 2020, I began to seriously revise that document. Online searches revealed documents that I hadn’t seen before. Cornelius Posten died in 1852 at Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. His will named 3 sons- John, James and “heirs of Charles, dec’d.” [5] I knew about James and John from my earlier work and could now positively link them to Cornelius. What about Charles?

Of course, I followed that hint and typed in search criteria of “Charles Posten,” Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania,” and “1850 plus or minus 10 years.“  An October 1840 court record popped up. In that record, Delia Posten gave up her rights as administrator to estate of Charles Posten and named Caleb Corbin as administrator. [6] Where had I seen those names before? I didn’t have to look far- the 1850 census record seemed to be the answer.

What happened to Delia? Her sister’s obituary yielded another clue. Sarah Corbin Miller died in 1891. Her obituary reported that Sarah “was one of six children [born to Caleb and Sarah Corbin] all of whom are dead, save one sister, Mrs. Delia Hanna of New Lebanon, Mercer county, Pa.”  [7] The paper trail seemed empty after that cryptic find. Several online trees suggest that Delia joined her son in Missouri and died there. I haven’t found evidence to prove or disprove this claim. Perhaps someone can provide such evidence?

Now, piecing all together, I assert that Charles Posten and Delia Corbin are the parents of Benjamin Avery Posten. Charles, son of Cornelius and Rachel Posten, died about October 1840. Delia and her infant son moved in with her parents, Caleb and Sarah Corbin. Between 1850 and 1860, Delia married a man with surname Hanna. He also died, leaving Delia twice widowed. Delia was still alive in 1891 and living in New Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

I encourage all who read these posts to review the records and my conclusions. I welcome your comments, positive or negative, whether you agree or disagree. If you have records to support or refute my assertion, please share. I am willing to share all comments in a later post.

All information and links to records have been posted to a public tree on Ancestry.

REFLECTION

This has been an interesting journey. What began as a fairly straight forward history of Dad’s family turned into something more. Why did I even look at Huntingdon county families when I had no evidence of a relationship with them? Partly, it was because of the surname spelling. Other family histories tended to keep a very narrow geographic and familial focus. In 2012, I had no idea that my broader perspective would lead me where I am today.

What I learned: A broad perspective can lead you down unexpected paths. Keep all of your notes!

What helped: The searches and writing that I had done earlier.

What didn’t help:  incomplete notes and citations. Multiple copies of the same family tree.

To-do:  Possibly submit summary of these 3 blogs to Huntingdon county historical Society.  Continue digital file re-organization and clean up. Continue search for Benjamin in 1860 census.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] 1850 U.S. Census, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Mill Creek, p. 263B, dwelling 192, family 192, Delia Carbin [Corbin] age 36; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 17 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432, roll 796.

[2] 1860 U.S. Census, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Mill Creek, p. 163 (ink pen),p. 459 (stamp), dwelling 1165, family 1121, Sarah Corban age 68; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 12 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.  

[3] Member Photos & scanned documents, Ancestry ( https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/74239198/person/46291952904/media/  :accessed 21 Oct 2021), “Volunteer Enlistment B.A. Posten, 1862,” document copied at Gettsyburg NMP, posted 11 Jul 2016 by k30galla1; provenance and date copied uncertain; believed to have been found by an older family member and handed down with family papers.

[4] Susan Posten Ellerbee, A Posten Family of Northeastern Pennsylvania, typed manuscript (Yukon, Oklahoma, 2012); copy available from author on request; descendants of Thomas Postens (1782-1854); collateral and possibly related families.

[5] “Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 30 July 2021), entry for Cornelius Posten; citing Huntingdon County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills.

[6] Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, Register of Wills, “Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 30 July 2021), entry for Charles Posten; citing Pennsylvania County, District and Probate Courts. Huntingdon county.

[7] “Mrs. Sarah Miller,” obituary, Mount Union (Mount Union, Pennsylvania) Times, 30 April 1891; Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : viewed & printed 18 August 2020); citing Mount Union Times newspaper, Mount Union, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. page 3.

A namesake for Nana – Part 2

I am not the first to report that Barbary Reed’s maiden name could be Friddle. My last post described how Barbary (Friddle) Reed’ s marital identity emerged.  She was the wife of John A. Reed and mother of William Wylie Reed, Nana’s great grandfather. In this post, I report how I built on the work of others to confirm Barbary’s maiden name.

Back to my mother-in-law’s family tree. Nana’s first name was Barbara although she was known by her middle name.  Not unusual.  When Nana looked at a revised family scrapbook last year, she commented about the possible origin of her first name.  Did Nana’s mother hear from her father, Virgil, that his grandmother’s name was Barbara?

Review of census records from last blog post:

1880 census, Overton, Rusk county, Texas: Household of Jno [John] A Reid, 62, born in Tennessee with William Reid, 32, son, born in Tennessee; Josie Reid, 24, daughter, born in Texas and grandson, Willie E. Reid, age 3, born in Texas. [1] John is presumed to be a widower since there is not an older woman in the household.  Josie is presumed to be William’s wife, based on 1876 marriage record for Josephine Reed and W.W. Reed.[2]

1870 census, Rusk County, Texas. [3]  John, age 52; Barbary, age 48; William, age 21; Mary, age 18, born Texas; Sarah, age 12, born Texas. John, Barbary and William were born in Tennessee. Suggests move from Tennessee to Texas between 1849 and 1858. Barbary alive in 1870 and presumed dead before 1880. Both Mary and Sarah possibly married between 1870 and 1880.

1860 census: Rusk County, Texas. [4] John Read, age 41, born in Tennessee. Married to B.A., age 37, with 3 children: Wm. W, age 14, born Tennessee; Mary A, age 10, born Tennessee and Sarah, age 1, born Texas. Family includes William Faddle, 30, a farm laborer, born in Tennessee.  Family lived next to Andrew Read whose family includes 3-year-old Josephine Read, believed to be first wife of William W. Reed (and the same Josie Reid reported in 1880 census). ‘William Faddle’ could be Barbary’’s brother.

1850 census: McCracken county, Kentucky. [5] John A Reed, age 31, carpenter, born Tennessee; Barbara A. Reed, age 27, born Tennessee; Wm w reed, age 2. born Tennessee. Ages, place of birth consistent with later census records. (NOTE: In Bedford county, Tennessee-[6]-John Read, 32, Narcissa Read, 35, Lavitha Read, 18, Mary Read, 4; possibly a different John Reed).

Online family trees show Barbara/ Barbary as daughter of Martin Turley Friddle. Unfortunately, none provided specific documentation to support their assertion.  However, those same online trees showed indexes suggesting that a will existed for Martin Friddle who died 1895 in Shelbyville, Bedford county, Tennessee.[7], [8]  I followed those hints to an actual copy of the will, dated 23 February 1895. [9] One bequest, among others, is to “heirs of . . . Barbary Reid [sic].”

On to Barbary’s mother, Dianna.  Her maiden name of Hudlow is from the death certificate for Emaline.  [Friddle] Russell, another of Martin and Dianna’s daughters.  [10] The mounting evidence now makes the assertions more probable.

ASSERTIONS:

Barbary Friddle, born about 1822 in or near Bedford county, Tennessee to Martin Turley Friddle (1797 – 1895) and Dianna Hudlow (abt 1799, Virginia – 1880).  One of 12 children.

Married John Reid/ Reed, also born Tennessee, about 1845. Family moved to McCracken county, Kentucky by 1850, then to Rusk county, Texas before 1858. Barbary died between 1870 and 1880. John died after 1880.

REFLECTION:

This post is shorter than others but more focused.   Last week, I submitted an article about mom’s family for publication. Will let you know when I hear from the journal.  I added specific information about Barbary, her parents and siblings, to personal and online trees. Online trees can still provide clues even if no source is cited or if source is only an index. Writing this post helped to update Nana’s family tree including citations.

What I learned:  Look beyond indexes and lists of documents. A copy of the original document may be available online! Remember to not discount online trees with minimal or no sources attached.

What helped: Many links and clues already attached to online tree. Updated Nana’s family scrapbook in December 2020. So glad that was done before she died!!

What didn’t help: incomplete citations and notes on my RootsMagic Tree.

To-Do:  BSO item – Barbary (Friddle) Reed’s siblings. John Reed’s parents and siblings. Continue search for John and Barbary’s death information. Write thank-you notes to online tree owners.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Rusk Co., Texas, population schedule, Overton, enumeration district (ED) 074, p. 58A, dwelling 140, family 142, William Reid age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 1 July 2021); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., T9, roll 1325.

[2] “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” database, Family Search (http://www.familysearch.org  : viewed 1 July 2021), entry for Josephine Reed & W.W. Reed; citingTexas county records.

[3] 1870 U.S. Census, Rusk county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct No. 1, p. 345 (ink pen); p. 301 (stamp), dwelling 128, family 131, John A. Reid [Reed] 52; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 11 November 2020); citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1603.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Rusk county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 11, Bellevue Post Office, p. 108 (ink pen), dwelling 691, family 709, John Read age 41; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 11 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.

[5] 1850 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, population schedule,  p. 190B, dwelling 399, family 400, John A Reed 31; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 2 July 2021); citing National Archives, Washington, D.C., M432, roll 211.

[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Bedford Co., Tennessee, population schedule,  p. 241, dwelling 27, family 27, John  Reed 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 2 July 2021); citing National Archives, Washington, D.C., M432, roll 869.

[7] Lisa Davidson, ‘Reed Family Tree,”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/14272512/person/92321948/facts   ;  accessed 1 August 2021); “Martin Friddle,” cited Martin Friddle on list of Wills, Bedford county, Tennessee, Wills, Vols. 1-2, 1861-1922, F, page 766; no information recorded about content of the will.

[8] Tygorsnan, “Weems Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/18173545/person/112034568478/facts  :  accessed 1 August 2021); “Martin Turley Friddle,” citing Bedford county, Tennessee, Administrator and Executor Bonds, Letters and Settlements, Vol 3, 1894-1917, pg. 88, appointment of A.J. Womack as administrator; no information provided about content of will.

[9] Martin Friddle will, Bedford county, Tennessee, Wills and Inventories; “Tennessee, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 1 August 2021); citing Bedford County Court Clerk and Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.

[10] Logan county, Arkansas, Death certificates, certificate no. 554, Emaline Russell, 19 June 1920; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry,com  : viewed & downloaded 5 August 2021); citing Arkansas State Board of Health.

A namesake for Nana

Families hand down names through generations. In Nana’s case, the family tradition may have been all but forgotten but still lies deep within memory. This post describes how Barbara (Friddle) Reed’ s marital identity emerged. In my next post, I will report how I determined Barbara’s maiden name of Friddle.

Back to my mother-in-law’s family tree. Nana’s first name was Barbara although she was known by her middle name.  Not unusual.  When Nana looked at a revised family scrapbook last year, she commented about the possible origin of her first name.  Had Nana’s mother heard from her father, Virgil, that his grandmother’s name was Barbara?

Barbara and her husband, John Reed, were not immediately apparent when I began researching Nana’s family tree. Their identity emerged when I asked: who are the parents of William Wylie Reed, Nana’s great-grandfather on her mother’s side? A summary of the evidence follows. Conflicting evidence about William’s birthdate muddied the waters.

According to his obituary, William W. Reed died on Sunday, 29 April 1928 at the age of 71 in Cold Springs, Texas. [1]  Although the family lived in both Cherokee and Rusk counties, Cold Springs is located in San Jacinto county. The front page obituary stated: “Mr. Reed was born in Tennessee, near Nashville in October of the year 1857, but immigrated to East Texas with his parents when he was about 3 years old.”  Neither his parents nor siblings were named in William’s obituary.  Next step: request William’s death certificate. 

What information is on William’s death certificate?  I haven’t found the certificate. Search of Texas Death Index for 1928 produced no results. I looked under surname variations (Reed, Read and Reid) and given name variations (W.W., William, William W., William Wiley, William Wylie and Wiley). Similarly, letters to Texas Department of Health and Cherokee County produced negative results. Go to census records, beginning with 1920 and move back in time.

1920 Census, William W. Reed, 64, b. Tennessee, with wife, Sammie, age 51, (maiden name Williamson) and six of their children living close by. [2]  Estimated birth year 1856, consistent with obituary. If true, parents moved to east Texas about 1869-1870. The ‘m2’ designation for William suggests that this was his 2nd marriage.

1910 Census, William W. Reed, head, 62, m2, years married: 27, birthplace: Tennessee, father born: Tennessee, mother born Tennessee. [3]  Wife, Sammie, age 42, with seven of their 8 children. William’s estimated birth year 1848 is inconsistent with obituary and 1920 census. Why the change? Because of the age difference between William and Sammie?

1900 census:  Wm W Reed, age 52, birthdate October 1847, birthplace Tennessee, married 17 years. [4]  Wife, Sammie, age 32, born June 1867 in Texas; mother of 6 children. Ages consistent with 1910 census; birthplaces consistent with 1910 and 1920 census records. William and Sammie married 4 April 1883 in Rusk county, Texas.[5]

1880 census: Name: William Reid, age 32, son, born about 1848 in Tennessee, living with Jno [John] A Reid, head, age 62, born about 1818 in Tennessee; Josie Reid, 24, daughter, born about 1856 in Texas and grandson, Willie E. Reid, age 3, born in Texas. [6] William’s age consistent with 1900 & 1910 census. Was Josie his first wife? Is John father of William or Josie? John is presumed to be a widower since there is not an older woman in the household.  

Marriage record for W.W. Reed and Josephine Reid:  married 2 December 1876 in Rusk county, Texas.[7] Josie is a derivative of Josephine. Conclusion: Josie in 1880 census is William’s wife.  Josie probably died after 9 June 1880 (census date) and before 4 April 1883 (William and Sammie’s marriage date).

1870 census: Rusk County, Texas. [8]  John, age 52; Barbary, age 48; William, age 21, born Tennessee; Mary, age 18, born Texas; Sarah, age 12, born Texas. John, Barbary, William born Tennessee. Suggests move from Tennessee to Texas between 1849 and 1852. William’s age consistent with 1880 (age 32), 1900 (age 52) and 1910 (age 62) census records. Barbary alive in 1870 and presumed dead before 1880.

1860 census: Rusk County, Texas. [9] John Read, age 41, born in Tennessee. Married to B.A., age 37, with 3 children: Wm. W, age 14, born Tennessee; Mary A, age 10, born Tennessee and Sarah, age 1, born Texas. Family includes William Faddle, 30, a farm laborer, born in Tennessee.  Family lived next to Andrew Read whose family includes 3-year-old Josephine Read. Analysis: suggests William’s birth year circa 1845-1847, within 2 years of birth as suggested by other census records. Suggests move to Texas between 1850 and 1859. Combined with 1870 census data, move to Texas by 1852. Suggests that Andrew Read was Josephine’s father. Similar surnames imply a relationship between John and Andrew.  

1850 census: McCracken, Kentucky. [10]  John A Reed, age 31; Barbara A. Reed, age 27 and Wm W Reed, age 2, all born in Tennessee. Ages consistent with census records for 1860 through 1910.  

CONCLUSION:   John and Barbara Reed are the parents of William W Reed (census records-1850, 1860, 1870, 1880). William was born in Tennessee (all census records, 1850 to 1920, obituary).  William was born in October 1847 (1900 census; suggested by 1850 to 1880, 1910 census records). Why was his age reported differently on the 1920 census? The later birth year of 1857 was obviously believed by family members as reflected in William’s obituary and on his gravestone.  Other information, i.e. “immigrated to East Texas with his parents when he was about 3 years old”, appears probable.

REFLECTION

I reported these findings in chronological order. However, I probably didn’t find the records in that order. I am still searching 1870 census for Andrew Reed family. Writing this post, and the next one, are one way of remembering my mother- in- law. Her comments about the scrapbook led me to delve deeper into this specific family. Post is longer than I intended.

What I learned: repeat database searches. new information and documents are constantly being added. Review sources for previously overlooked information.

What helped: previous work done on Nana’s family tree.

What didn’t help: incomplete records and citations.

To-Do: write letter to funeral home requesting copy of William W. Reed’s death certificate. Continue search for Andrew Reed family in 1870 starting with Rusk county Texas.


SOURCES:

[1] ‘William W. Reed died Sunday’, Alto Herald, Alto, Cherokee County, TX, 3 May 1928, p. 1, column 4. Portal to Texas History (https://texashistory.unt.edu/  : accessed & printed 9 October 2020.

[2] 1920 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Precinct 2, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 12A, Family #260, William W. Reed; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, printed, downloaded 30 March 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625_1786..

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, population schedule, Alto, enumeration district (ED) 0014, p. 17A, dwelling 319, family 3232, William W Reed 62; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 1 July 2021); citing National Archives & Record Administration, Washington, D.C., Roll: T624_1538.

[4] 1900 U.S. Census, Rusk county, Texas, population schedule, , enumeration district (ED) 0082, p. 9, dwelling 166, family 168, Wm W Reed age 52; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 1 July 2021); citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623.

[5] “Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org  : viewed 7 July 2021), Sammie Williamson & W.W.Reed; citing Rusk, Texas, United States, county courthouses, Texas; FHL microfilm 1,020,948.

[6] 1880 U.S. Census, Rusk Co., Texas, population schedule, Overton, enumeration district (ED) 074, p. 58A, dwelling 140, family 142, William Reid age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 1 July 2021); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., T9, roll 1325.

[7] “Texas, U.S., Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed ); citing Family Search and Texas county records.

[8] 1870 U.S. Census, Rusk county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct No. 1, p. 345 (ink pen); p. 301 (stamp), dwelling 128, family 131, John A. Reid [Reed] 52; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 11 November 2020); citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm publication M593_1603.

[9] 1860 U.S. Census, Rusk county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 11, Bellevue Post Office, p. 108 (ink pen), dwelling 691, family 709, John Read age 41; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 11 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653.

[10] 1850 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, population schedule, , p. 190B, dwelling 399, family 400, John A Reed 31; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 2 July 2021); citing National Archives, Washington, D.C., M432, roll 211.

Where to next?

Who should I write about for today’s post? This question has bugged me for the last two weeks. Although I am working on several projects, none are ready for a report yet.

This year, I started tracking my blog post topics more closely. I created a spreadsheet with information about each blog post including date, title of post, and person or persons discussed in the post. I made a table with number of posts related to each family by year. The highest number for a given year reflects my primary focus for that year.

What determines my focus for a particular year? I started my blog in April 2017 with goal of sharing  information more or less equally about each family line.  An August 2017 family reunion trip to Pennsylvania generated more posts about dad’s family.  In 2018,  I received family pictures and other items from two cousins on mom’s side.  Cataloging those pictures and items steered me to Tucker-Maurer family for 2018. My father- in- law’s death in February 2019 guided me towards the Ellerbee family.  Johnson-Reed family then became focus for 2020 as I prepared another scrapbook.

As I write each post, I check sources, revise citations and identify gaps to be filled for each person.  I pose and try to answer at least one question. Content in my family tree improves.  Sometimes, a person contacts me about an ancestor named in an online tree or blog post.  These contacts often generate a topic for my blog. DNA matches also yield possible blog topics.

For my blog, what are the benefits of delving deep into a particular family or person? Well,  I try to discover the story beyond the basic facts. I seek a better understanding of the person and share that information with others. I feel like I am more intimately involved in their lives.

Writing about a variety of people has been a blessing.  I reach a wider audience with the potential of contacts from more than just one branch of the family tree.  Often, I choose the person or topic just a few days before I publish.  I am writing shorter blogs so there may be more series about a particular person or family.

Right now, I have several projects in the works. I am writing two articles to be considered for publication in genealogical journals. Due to potential copyright issues, I must defer writing more here about either of these. A potential DNA match contacted me about a specific line.  Several years ago, I made a note in my files and asked questions similar to what this DNA match is asking.  I give what input I can.  

Question for today is still- where do I go from here? And I don’t have a good answer. I search for inspiration from various sources such as  blog posts written by others.  I review my goals for the year but nothing stands out at this moment.  I have been here before. A spark of inspiration will come!  In the meantime, I continue the process of cleaning up at least one family tree.  Stay tuned!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

BSO follow-up reveals hidden treasures: Henry Renk and Rosina (Maurer) Smetts

Genealogists ask questions and try to find answers. Often, more questions arise as we search. This was the case as I explored the lives of Rosina Maurer and her husband Wilhelm Jacob Smetts. I reported that journey in a February 2018 post. As I searched local newspapers, I found the name of Henry Renk connected with Rosina. I made a note that this was a BSO to be explored another day. Now three years later, I found the answer. In this post I describe what I found and how I found it.

The newspaper clipping that generated my interest in 2018 was from a 1949 New Brunswick, New Jersey newspaper. [1] It said  ”Henry Renk attended funeral services for Mrs.  Rose Smetts at the home of Mr. and Mrs Robert Smetts in Matedeconk Thursday evening.” Rose/ Rosina was sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Herman Maurer.  Robert Smetts was one of Rosina’s children. I posed the question – What is Henry ‘s relationship to Rose?

In November 2020, a distant cousin saw my post about Rosina and Jacob and contacted me. He asked for more information about the children of Rosina and Jacob.  That’s when I rediscovered Henry Renk.  Rosina and Jacob’s youngest child, Robert Earl Smetts married Ethel Renk, the daughter of Henry Renk and Carrie Culver.  In 1949, Henry attended the funeral of his daughter’s mother- in- law. Henry had been a widower since 1917[2].  Henry, born 1873, and Rosina, born 1868. were of the same generation. He probably empathized after her loss of both a son and husband within the space of one month in 1936. [3] Both had been born in the United States to German immigrant parents.

In June, 1950, Robert and Ethel Smetts held a family reunion party in their home ” in honor of the 77th birthday anniversary of Mrs Smetts’ father, Henry Renk of Ridge road near here [ Monmouth Junction, New Jersey]”. [4]  Forty-five guests attended including Earl Renk, Edgar Renk , Albert Renk and their families. I imagine that the house overflowed with “14 grandchldren and eight great-children.”

Henry Renk died 27 November 1960[5] and was buried in Kingston Cemetery, next to his wife. [6] I have more information about Henry, his wife Carrie and their family. However, I am not going to delve into that here. I added their names to the family tree on Ancestry.

REFLECTION

A mystery solved and a BSO addressed. I realize the value of keeping record of BSOs. You never know when something will prompt you to look at it again, even years later. This was not a high priority item but does help to round out our family’s story.

What I learned:  keep good notes and include your sources. Obituaries and those personal notes in older newspapers are treasure troves of information.

What helped: Previous work and my notes.

What didn’t help:  Not having either paper or digital copies of all newspaper articles.  

To-do: Keep digital and/or paper copies of newspaper articles. Add URL for those articles to research logs.


SOURCES

[1] “Henry Renk attended funeral services”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey”, local newspaper (9 Jul 1949): p. 7; PDF images, Newspapers.com  (http://www/newspapers.com  :  accessed 10 Feb 2018), key word Mrs. Rose Smetts.

[2] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.finagrave.com  : viewed 28 January 2021), memorial page for Carrie Renk, Find A Grave Memorial # 44168202 , citing Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Kingston, Somerset County, New Jersey), memorial created by Wayne Irons, photograph by Wayne Irons.

[3] Jacob Smetts obituary. “”William J. Smetts”,” death notice, The Central New Jersey Home News, 14 December 1936, death date, death of son, funeral information; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 16 February 2018); citing The Central New Jersey Home News. p. 17, column 4.

[4] “Reunion is attended by 4 generations ”, The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey, local newspaper (28 June 1950): p. 4; PDF images, Newspapers.com  (http://www/newspapers.com   :  accessed 6 Jan 2021).

[5]. “Henry Renk,” obituary, The Central New Jersey Home News, 28 November 1960, Henry Renk . . . died yesterday; Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 30 January 2021).

[6] Find a Grave. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave  : viewed 28 January 2021), memorial page for Henry Renk, Find A Grave Memorial # 44168201, citing Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Kingston, Somerset County, New Jersey, USA), memorial created by Wayne Irons, photograph by Wayne Irons.

© 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.

PAPER FILES. STEP 1: REVIEW

 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.

PAPER FILES. STEP 2: CLEAN UP.

  • 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.

DIGITAL / MEDIA FILES. STEP 1. REVIEW.

  • 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.

DIGITAL / MEDIA FILES. STEP 2. CLEAN-UP

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

Remember the babies

October is Family History Month. Did you know that October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month? This is an especially poignant time for me as I recall my several miscarriages- i.e. pregnancies ending before 20 weeks of gestation.  We only know the gender of one of those babies- a girl with multiple genetic anomalies.  My sons know about these losses. My stories will probably fade with time and could be totally forgotten within a generation or two. In this post, I explore ways to remember those babies who died before, during or within a year or two of birth.

Before the days of effective birth control methods, women often bore children about every two or three years.  Babies breastfed for about a year which provided some contraceptive protection.  Some groups prohibited (or at least, discouraged) sexual intercourse while a mother was breastfeeding. Many children died before the age of 5.

Look at the birth dates of known children in your own family tree.  If there is more than a 2- or 3- year gap, suspect pregnancy and/or infant loss.  A young child (less than 5 years old) recorded on one census but not on the next may have died in the interim. Consider events such as war when men might be away from home for years at a time.  If the husband returned home briefly during war time, a pregnancy may have occurred. 

Records documenting losses due to miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births are not easily found.  In 1900 and 1910, census takers recorded the number of children born to a married woman and the number still living.  In my case, the record would show 2 children born and 2 living with no mention of the number of pregnancies.  One example from my family tree – Mattie Williams Johnson reported as mother of 7 and 5 living in 1900[1]; mother of 9 and six living in 1910[2].  Assertion – two children died between her marriage year of 1882 and 1900, one more died between 1900 and 1910. How can I find these children?

Obituaries of women sometimes state “She was preceded in death by an infant son [or daughter]”. Mattie died in 1936. Her obituary says that she is survived by four sons and one daughter.[3]  This roughly corresponds to the six living children reported on 1910 census.  A daughter, Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, died in 1925 at the age of 35.[4]  So, I am no closer to identifying the 3 children who apparently died young.

Earlier and later census records did not record childbirth information. Look through local newspapers and browse beyond obituaries and death notices.  Following a sentence about Sunday school attendance in the Point Enterprise section, The Mexia (Texas) Weekly Herald for 24 October 1930 reported—“The infant son of Mr. and Mrs. George Johnson was buried at this place Sunday morning with Rev J.E. Gore officiating.” [5] Later, I found the death certificate for this boy, Edward Johnson, who was stillborn. [6]  Edward was Mattie’s grandson, son of George A. Johnson and Bertha Freeman.

Search online cemetery records for persons with birth and death dates close together.  Some gravestones mark the date of death and ‘infant’ or ‘son/ daughter of _______.’  Older gravestones often list the person’s age, such as ‘age 2 months  3 days.’  I found one of Mattie’s children, Everett, born 1903, who died when he was 5 years old.  Everett’s gravestone has this information – s/o [son of ] Mattie and G.W. Johnson.[7]  Although not an infant when he died, he is one of Mattie’s three dead children.

What about Mattie’s two other children? Online trees show dates but no other information and no sources for the information provided. My preliminary, and certainly not comprehensive, searches reveal nothing further.

Where else to look for information about infant deaths? Family Bible entries may contain the only record of a child’s birth and early death.  A distant cousin graciously shared digital copies of pages from an 1876 Bible.[8]  One page has this entry:  “John Uzemer Ellerbee died December 7, 1871, aged 3 years, 3 months, 8 days”.  John’s parents were James John Ellerbee and Elizabeth Hayes.

Print sources are not always available online. Other places to check:

  •  Local genealogical and historical societies:
    •  Books of cemetery listings and obituaries published by the local society.  For example, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society publishes several books of cemetery inscriptions. Example –  Dutchess County NY Cemetery Inscriptions of Towns of East Fishkill, Fishkill & Wappinger (Kinship Books, KS-273 ISBN:1560123060).
    • Vertical files kept by these societies. Send a donation if you ask their staff to search for you.
  • Local libraries and County Clerk Offices.  Staff may or may not be able to search for you, especially if you don’t know a specific name or date.  Enlist the help of a relative or someone from a local genealogical or lineage society, if needed.
  • Walk local cemeteries. Carefully record what you find, even unreadable gravestones. A small stone next to adults could mark the grave of a child.

To review, discovering those children who died young is a challenge. Use a multitude of online and print resources. Search widely and deep. Document sources for yourself and others. Even ‘unsourced’ online trees give clues. Remember to tell the stories of all the babies, not just those who lived beyond infancy and early childhood!

REFLECTION

I am sad as I recall my own miscarriages. As a registered nurse, I worked with new mothers and both well and sick babies.  Every loss is painful. Family stories are not complete until we tell the stories of the children who never lived to have children of their own.  In this post, I primarily reported about children who died in the 20th century. However, I believe that you can use my suggestions to search for those who died in earlier times.

What I learned:  Use print resources more!

What helped:  Information already in my paper and digital files.

What didn’t help: Continuing frustration with unsourced information in online trees. Even a note “I got this from XYZ online tree; not confirmed” would be nice!

To-Do:  Add unsourced information about Mattie’s 2 other children to BSO list. Keep my eyes open for any clues.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

SOURCES CITED

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Armour, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 9B, dwelling 167, family 168, George Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1655.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, , enumeration district (ED) 32, p. 15B, dwelling 213, family 219, George W. Johnson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 August 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication, T624_1573.

[3] “Mrs. Johnson, 75, dies on Monday,” obituary, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 30 October 1936; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 20 October 2020), memorial page for Laura Alice Johnson Alewine, Find A Grave Memorial # 34526511, citing New Hope Cemetery (Limestone, Texas), memorial created by Geno-seeker, photograph by PFDM.

[5] “Pt. Enterprise: The infant son . . . . “, Mexia (Mexia, Texas) Weekly Herald, 24 October 1930; digital images, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : viewed & printed 25 July 2020); citing The Mexia Weekly Herald newspaper.

[6] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 October 2020), entry for Edward Johnson; citng Texas Department of Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[7] Interment.net, database (http://www.interment.net  :  accessed & viewed 19 January 2012), Horn Hill Cemetery, Limestone County, Texas, listing for Everett R. Johnson, b. 6 Oct 1903, d. 23 Aug 1909, citing Horn Hill Cemetery (Groesbeck, Limestone Co, Texas), compiled by Bruce Jordan, 1 November 2004.

[8] 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].

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.

 REFLECTION

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?


SOURCES:

[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

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

Promising lead or brick wall? Continuing search for C.W. Black

Names, dates and places look promising. Is this the person and family that I’m looking for? Maybe. Each lead requires additional research before confirming.  When I have some information, confirmation flows easier. When I know little, this process is more challenging. “Challenge” certainly describes the task presented by C.W. Black, reported father of Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother. In this post, I present some findings for C.W. Black and evaluate them.

Lead number 1: Charles and Mary Black, Texas

1870 census, Limestone county, Texas: Chas Black, age 23, born at Louisiana and Mary Black, age 26, born at Tennessee.  [1]  This was one of the first hints presented on Ancestry website. C.W. ‘s first name could easily be Charles. Maiden name of Nellie’s mother is reported as Mary Bull. [2]  Mary’s identity as the daughter of Isaac Bull and Sarah Neel is likely but still needs to be proven. The family could have originated in Limestone county where Nellie lived from 1910 until her death in 1960.  As they say, “follow the paper trail.”

The paper trail led to 32-year-old Charley Black, born Louisiana, and 36-year-old Mary E. Black, Charley’s wife, born Tennessee, at San Saba county, Texas in 1880. [3]  Names, ages, place of birth are consistent with 1870 census.  If these are Nellie’s parents, then Mary was about 44 years old when Nellie was born in 1888.  Childbearing is still possible for many women in their 40s.  No children listed. I am reasonably certain that Charley and Mary E. are the same couple as Chas and Mary in 1870 census.  Nellie’s reported birthplace of Montague county,[4] Texas, does not preclude Charley and Mary from being her parents.

Next stop on the paper trail? 1900 census. Again in San Saba county, Texas, Charles Black, born February 1847 in Louisiana and wife, Mary Black, born September 1843 in Tennessee. [5]  No children listed. Mary’s childbearing history? Mother of 4 children, none living. Also of interest, Charles and Mary are recorded as being married 25 years suggesting marriage about 1875. Recall Chas and Mary living together in 1870. Are these truly the same people?  No children, no Nellie. I tentatively rule out Charles and Mary as Nellie’s parents.

One more item in the paper trail – 1910 census. Charley Black, age 63, and Mary Black, age 66, still living in San Saba county, Texas. [6]  Places of birth reported as Louisiana and Tennessee, respectively. Mary listed as mother of 4 children, 0 living. Years married? 40 or married about 1870. Looks like marriage information on 1900 census was not accurate. Given that no living children are recorded on the two censuses, I conclude that this couple are not Nellie’s parents.

I feel the need to finish Charley and Mary’s story. Find A Grave provided closure of sorts.

  • Mary E. Black. Born 1 September 1848. Died 3 July 1914. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery. Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. [7]
  • Charley Black. Born 22 February 1847. Died 6 May 1921. Buried Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba county, Texas. [8]

Perhaps someone else can claim them as relatives.

Lead number 2:  C.W. Black, Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas

This Ancestry hint from the 1880 census popped up early in my search. The census shows C.W. Black, age 36, widower, born Tennessee, living in Fort Worth, Tarrant county, Texas. [9] So far, nothing inconsistent with other data. But certainly not confirmed. No other hints presented themselves.

A search of local newspapers provided one clue. In the Fort Worth Daily Gazette on June 20, 1890, this story- “A tragedy. C.W. Black gives up his life- John Yarbrough Arrested.”[10] Details included:  

“John Yarbrough shot and killed C.W. Black last night about 10 o’clock at the residence of the former, on the southeast corner of Peter Smith and Hemphill streets. . . . C.W. Black was an old resident of Fort Worth. He came here when only a mere hamlet . . . . Previously to coming here he was merchandising in Memphis, and he has a couple of children in St. Louis. He was about forty-seven years of age.”

Fort Worth is about 80 miles south of Montague county, Texas, Nellie’s reported birthplace. C.W. would not be the only man who had a family in two different states.  Based on the two snippets of information, I do not believe that C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, was Nellie’s father. However, I will keep an open mind if other evidence surfaces.

Lead number 3: William and Mary Black, Falls county, Texas[11]

This is another of those early hints that I discounted at first.  One of my blog followers reminded me about it. Closer perusal and follow-up suggests a connection.  Remember Nellie’s reported mother, Mary Bull? Falls county, Texas, was home to several Bull families.  The path is winding and too long for this post. Stay tuned!

In summary, I classify the first two leads as negative results. Charles and Mary Black, the first lead, are certainly not Nellie’s parents. C.W. Black of Fort Worth, Texas, is probably not Nellie’s father. These findings underscore the importance of tracking and recording all findings even if they are negative.  Primary reason is to keep you from re-looking at the same findings. Others should be able to retrace where you’ve been and follow your contention.

However, keep an open mind because new evidence may surface that turns a negative into a positive.

For more information about negative results:

REFLECTION:

As I mentioned earlier, finding C.W. Black is one of my more frustrating and challenging genealogy journeys. What does “C” stand for? What does “W” stand for? Did he go by his first or his middle name?  Was Nellie’s father really “C.W.”?  Wouldn’t be the first time that a name was reported wrong. There is a clue out there—I just need to find it!

What helped:  online resources, notes from previous searches, writing the blog post. Keeping record of searches and criteria used.

What didn’t help:  frustration that no records seem to fit. Even Find A Grave yielded no clues. Maybe I need to try different search criteria.

To-do:  Review notes and other records for William and Mary Black again. Search for more information about their children.  When did William and Mary die? Where are they buried?

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2020

SOURCES:

[1] 1870 U.S. Census, Limestone County, Texas, population schedule, District 48 West, page 109 (ink pen), dwelling 485, family 525, Chas Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M593_1596.

[2]. “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 4, Enumeration District (ED) 116, sheet 444C, dwelling 128,  Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1326.

[4]. “Funeral services for Mrs. Johnson set for Wednesday,” obituary, Mexia Daily News, 3 May 1960; digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com  : accessed & printed 6 March 2020); citing Mexia Daily News (newspaper), Mexia, Texas.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0131, sheet 20, dwelling 328, family 331,  Charles Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623.

[6] 1910 U.S. Census, San Saba County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 2, Enumeration District (ED) 0215, sheet 7A, dwelling 74, family 74,  Charley Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :   accessed 29 Feb 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624_1584.  

[7] Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com  :  accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224900, Mary E. Black (1848-1914), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.

[8]. Find A Grave, database with images, (http://www.findagrave.com  :  accessed 7 April 2020), memorial 44224899, Charley Black (1847-1921), Varga Chapel Cemetery, Bowser, San Saba County, Texas; gravestone photograph by Sharon Crowder; created and maintained by Gaylon Powell.

[9] 1880 U.S. Census, Tarrant County, Texas, population schedule, Fort Worth, Enumeration district 089, sheet 31C, dwelling 44, C.W. Black; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 10 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T9, roll 1328.

[10] The (Fort Worth, Texas) Gazette, 20 June 1890, p. 8, col. 2, “A Tragedy, C.W. Black gives up his life-John Yarbrough arrested,” Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86064205/1890-06-02/ed-1/seq-8/   : accessed 10 March 2020).

[11] 1900 U.S. Census, Falls County, Texas, population schedule, Marlin, Enumeration district 0016, sheet 6, , dwelling 107, family 113, Nellie Black, age 13; William B. Black, head; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 4 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication T623.