What’s in a name – Sally or Ciety or Suzetta or Sarah Bailey?

The name of a person on a record is not always what it appears to be.  A person’s first name (a.k.a. given name) at birth and the name by which they are known are often different.  One name may be used on legal documents and a different name, often a middle name, on other records.  Then, there are nicknames and variations of given names. The given name-middle name-surname order is common in America but not in other countries.  To address the dilemma, genealogists ask:  “Is Person A on Document A really the same as Person B on Document B?”  Clues from various records lead to a best guess.  This post describes such an event in the Ellerbee family tree.

James John Ellerbee is my husband’s paternal great-great-grandfather. The maiden name of James’ first wife was Bailey. Her first name could be Sally, Ciety, Szetta, Sitie or Sarah. 

Source #1: Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986).

Page 14-43: “Jim Ellerbee served in Company L, 25th Regiment of Georgia Infantry Volunteers (Calhoun Repeaters); he enlisted as a private September 2, 1861, and served for the duration of the war. His regiment surrendered at Quincy, Florida, May 11, 1865. His first wife was a daughter of Judge William Bailey. Before going off to war Jim Ellerbee moved his wife Sally and their two children to the home of Judge Bailey. The Judge’s new wife did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters where they lived with a female slave. Later Sally became sick and died. The slave woman continued to care for the two small children until Jim returned home from the Civil War. He returned in the spring of 1865, dirty, in rags, his hair down to his shoulders, his health poor, with a muzzle loading rifle as his sole possession. He found his family in that grievous situation, and a general distress prevailed everywhere. He remarried later that year and rented a farm near Damascus, Georgia.  Just 12 years later he died.

His oldest son, then 17, moved to Wells County, Georgia, in Angelina County, to work for his grandfather Judge Bailey (who had moved there after the Civil War). William Green Ellerbee moved his stepmother and the rest of the family to Texas about two years later. “  NOTE: Specific source not cited. Book contains list of sources at the end.

Source #2:  John N. Cravens, William Edward Bailey: Georgia Planter and East Texas Farmer (Wichita Falls, Texas: Tosh Press, 1962). Copy given to Susan Posten Ellerbee by her father-in-law, Jerry Donald Ellerbee, ca 2012.

Page 3: “[W.E.] Bailey was married three times. In 1839, he married Miss Sarah Sutton of Calhoun County, Georgia, where he then lived. His wife died shortly after their child was born. In 1849, he was married a Miss Elizabeth Hutto near his home and one child was born to them. After his second wife died, Bailey married Mrs. Indiana Cherry Moore at Bainbridge. Delta, now Decatur County, Georgia in 1853. [Footnote] (5).”

Footnote 5:  “Obituary” previously cited and another clipping of an obituary of W.E. Bailey owned by Anna Bailey Cochran, a granddaughter.

“Obituary” in the East Texas Reformer, IV, No. 31, Jacksonville, Cherokee County, Texas, Thursday, February 23, 1899.

No further mention made about  children born to William Edward Bailey and his first two wives.

Source #3: 1850 U.S. Census, Baker County, Georgia, population schedule, Third District, p. 46B, family 97, William E. Bailey 36, head of household; digital images,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed, downloaded, printed 2012); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication roll M432_61.

  • Family no. 97:
  • William E. Bailey, 36, born Wilkinson Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Louiza, 16, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Ciety, 10, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • John King, 17, born  SC [South Carolina]
  • NOTE:  1850 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Source #4:  1860 U.S. Census, Jackson County, Florida, population schedule, Marianna, p. 111, Family 785, John J Ellerby; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com     : accessed, viewed, downloaded on 3 February 2017); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

  • Family no. 785 (transcribed as written)
  • John J. Ellerby, 21 male, race:  marked with X,  farmer, born Georgia.
  • Szetta Ellerby, 18, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • Sarah A Ellerby, 1, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • John Stanley, 26, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born N. Carolina
  • Thomas Houston, 33, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born  S. Carolina
  • William Johnson, 13,  male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born Georgia
  • NOTE: 1860 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Sources # 5 & 6:  Death certificates for William Green Ellerbee and Sarah A. Ellerbee Martin Sutleff, presumed children of John J Ellerbee and his first wife.  Death certificates accessed online from Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com )

  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate state file no. 56, Sarah Alice Sutleff.  Birth:  July 6, 1859 in Macon, Georgia. Death: January 23, 1954 in Angelina county, Texas. Parents: James Ellerbee, ‘Sitie’ Bailey.  Note:  ‘Sitie’ has quotation marks on the certificate.
  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate no. 9457, W. G. Ellerbee. Birth: Jan. 12, 1861 in Georgia. Death: March 18, 1932 in Lufkin, Angelina county, Texas. Parents: W.G. Ellerbee, Miss Bailey.  Note:  W.G. Ellerbee’s parentage  is a topic for another post. 

SUMMARY & ANALYSIS:

  • From Ellerbe history, John J. Ellerbee’s 1st wife was Sally Bailey. Specific source not cited for information.
  • Sally is a derivative of the name Sarah. Source:  Behind the name: Sally
  • Biography of William Edward Bailey does not name the child of Bailey’s first wife, Sarah Sutton. Source is obituary for William E. Bailey. I have not been able to locate or obtain a copy of the obituary.
  • 1850 census: 10 year old Ciety Bailey living with William E. Bailey, age 36 and 16-year-old Louiza Bailey. Ciety’s estimated birth year of 1840 is consistent with 1st marriage of Judge Bailey in 1839.  From unconfirmed sources, Judge Bailey’s mother was Ciety Allen.
  • 1850 census: “Louiza” is likely Elizabeth Hutto, Judge Bailey’s 2nd wife whom he reportedly married in 1849 per Bailey biography.
  • 1860 census: Szetta Ellerby [Ellerbee], age 18, presumed to be wife of John J. Ellerby [Ellerbee]. Estimated birth year 1841 or 1842.  Sarah A. Ellerby, age 1, presumed to be their daughter, Sarah Alice.
  • Death certificates for children of James J Ellerbee and his 1st wife list mother as ‘Sitie’ Bailey and ‘Miss’ Bailey. Digital copies of the original certificates.
  • Two of five sources (1850 census and death certificate for Sarah Alice Sutleff) show similar given names of Ciety and Sitie for her mother. Two of five sources (Ellerbe history, 1860 census) list different names of Sally and Szetta. One source (death certificate for W.G. Ellerbee) lists his mother’s name as ‘Miss Bailey’ .
  • Three of five sources (Ellerbe history, children’s death certificates) suggest a maiden name of Bailey.

CONCLUSION:  

  • Sally Bailey, daughter of Judge William Bailey (Ellerbe history), Ciety Bailey (1850 census), Sitie Bailey (daughter’s death certificate) and Szetta Ellerby (1860 census) are probably the same person.
  • ‘Miss Bailey’ named on son’s death certificate is likely the same person also known as Sally, Ciety, Sitie, and Szetta.
  • Sally Bailey, 1st wife of John J. Ellerbee, is likely the child of Sarah Sutton and William Edward Bailey.
  • Sally’s given name was perhaps Sarah, after her mother. Her daughter, Sarah, was possibly named after her grandmother, Sarah Sutton.

 

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Reflection:

I have multiple handwritten notes on various documents about Sally Bailey Ellerbee’s name.  I compiled the information in one document when updating my father-in-law’s Ellerbee scrapbook.  I used the Genealogy Proof Standard as a guide. Both original and derivative sources were used; source citations are mostly complete. The sources contained secondary information and reflect indirect evidence. Multiple data and sources were correlated.  I addressed conflicts and wrote a conclusion.

What I learned:  Look at each document critically. Second or third or fourth review may yield insights that you missed previously. 

What helped:  Copies of all documents and sources readily available. Notes written earlier on various documents. Compiling all information in one document.

What didn’t help:  Initially, not recognizing possible derivations of the same name.

To-do: Continue search for documents and evidence about Sarah Sutton and her presumed daughter. Keep research logs.

Reflection on Independence Day 2019

When did you realize that you might have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War?  Did you hear stories from older relatives about your grandmother’s great-great-great grandfather?  Perhaps an ancestor provided food or supplies to the war effort.  You trace your family tree back to the early 1800s and wonder, “Who might have been here in the 1700s?”  “Did someone actually fight in the American Revolution?”

Some people found at least one of these ancestors.  Others discovered family members who supported the British.  Slaves and free persons lived here during the 1770s and 1780s.  Your family may have arrived in the United States later.  In this post, I list family surnames and identify known or presumed Revolutionary War patriots.  There are probably more but I haven’t found them yet.  Some are recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Some may also by recognized by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Paternal:

Surnames:  Postens, Brown, Mills, Eccert, Fulkersin/ Fulkerson, Yates, Shotwell, Richards, Van Sickle, Ostrander, Smith, LaCoe, Dupuy, Ash, Miller

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Nathaniel Richards (1759 -1831); presumed
  • Cornelius Van Sickle                      ; presumed

Maternal:

Surnames:  Tucker,  Clearwater, Irwin,  Traver, Hallenbeck, Jones, Havens, Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee, Wolfe.  (Note: Maurer, Metzger, Korzelius, Klee and Wolfe families immigrated to United States in early to mid-1800s).

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827; recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Husband’s paternal:

Surnames:  Ellerbee, Love, Hayes, Powell, Brown, Puckett, Simmons, Roach, Wright, Bailey , Allen, Sutton, Hester, Fayard, Ryan, Lanier

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • Jonathan Roach (abt 1737 – after 1802); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution.

Husband’s Maternal:

Surnames:  Johnson, Williams, Greer, Hutson,  Black, Bull, Reed, Friddle, Williamson, Copeland, Holcomb, Creager,  Selman,  Embry, Madden, Edens, Adams, Richardson

Revolutionary War Patriots:

  • George Valentine Creager (1734 – 1808); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Many of our personal ancestral families lived in the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s.  At least one family may have been Tories (a.k.a. supported the British).

In summary, the roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in American history.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Although family stories told of Native American ancestry, our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Our ancestors immigrated to the United States from the British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe (primarily France and Germany).  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally within their own communities or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.

We recognize the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change that part of our family history. I am diligently recording our family’s history and sharing information with others.  I encourage you to do the same. Without all of them, we would not be here!!

Signed,
Susan M. Posten Ellerbee
Designated Family Genealogist for our branches of the Ellerbee-Johnson-Posten-Tucker families
Yukon, Oklahoma, USA

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog 2019

 

 

 

“Mother’s daddy was Clay Simmons”

“Here’s my mother’s parents—Clay Simmons and Deedie Bailey.”  My father-in-law, Jerry D.,  paused before the granite grave marker at Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Texas.  Having just begun doing genealogy, I feverishly wrote the information in my notebook.  We visited multiple graves that hot summer day in the late 1990s. This post describes, in chronological manner, what I discovered about Clay Simmons and his family.  Throughout the post, I reflect on how my research practices changed.

SimmonsClayDeedie11July2013MtHopeCemWellsTX009

Clay & Deedie Simmons grave marker.  Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas. Picture taken by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013. [1]

 

Jerry D. recalled only that his maternal grandfather’s name was Clay Simmons. [2]  He did not know the names of Clay’s parents.  So, Simmons ancestry became my focus of inquiry in January 2013.  A scrapbook, presented to Jerry D. as a Christmas gift that year, described my findings.  My husband and I traveled to east Texas in July 2013 to search further.

Start with what you know. I began with Clara Doris Simmons and her father,  Clay Simmons.  A file review yielded previous online searches and a Texas death certificate for “H.C. Simmons”. [3] An early record shows the name “Richard”, followed by a question mark.  Was Clay’s other name Richard or one that begins with “H”?

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_DC

Disclaimer: This work was done PGDO (pre Genealogy Do-Over). I did a lot of point-click-save genealogy.  As I found documents, I printed and placed in a folder.  I did not keep a research log or a list of what records I found. Fortunately, most databases also printed names and  dates on the page.  I did not recognize the value of thorough and systematic record-keeping until much later!

In January 2013, I printed an online gravesite index which listed his name as “Henry Clay Simmons”. [4] I still needed proof.   Note:  We again visited his grave, among others, at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Cherokee county, Texas during our genealogy field trip.

A marriage record index entry for H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey offered little new information[5]. We obtained a copy of the original certificate on our genealogy field trip.  The certificate is now scanned and  in an acid-free sleeve.

Using “Clara Simmons” as key word, I had previously found 1930 census record for the family. [6]

Simmons, Henry C., head, age 43. 
Deedie D, wife, age 40. 
Lester, son, age 20. 
Otha F, daughter, age 18. 
Morris C, son, age 14. 
Clara D, daughter, 14. 
Mildred, daughter, age 13. 
William J, son, age 8.

“Henry C. Simmons”?  Yes, this could be Clay’s other name instead of Richard.  Maybe the online grave index entry was correct? I don’t have any notes about my initial review of this record. Did I even recognize his name? Now, I mark or highlight the name and write a note or analysis in research log. Notes include comments about the consistency or inconsistency of information.

Back another decade to the 1920 census, same county (February 2013):  [7]

  • Simmons, H.C., Head, M W, 34, M[arried], born Texas, father born Alabama, mother born Mississippi.
  • __________, Deedie, wife, F W 29, M[arried], born Texas, father born Texas, mother born Texas
  • _________, Lester, son, M W 9, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Opal F, daughter, F W 7, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________,  Morris, son, M W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Dorris, daughter, F W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Mildred, daughter, F W  3 2/12, S[ingle], born Texas.

Yes, Morris and Dorris are twins (confirmed by Jerry D)!  Their full names are Clay Morris and Clara Doris.  Information is consistent with marriage record, death certificate and 1930 census record.  To summarize, I had found:

  1. Known as Clay by family and friends
  2. Death certificate for H.C. Simmons, buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Texas. Known burial location for Clay and Deedie.
  3. Marriage record index: H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey.
  4. 1930 census: entry for Henry C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.
  5. 1920 census: entry for H.C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.

The search continued for additional documents with both names—Henry and Clay.  We found no new records during our field trip. Finally, Henry’s World War I Draft Registration card surfaced: [8]

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_WWI Draft regis_card

Richard can definitely be ruled out as part of Clay’s name.

I presented Henry Clay Simmons, a.k.a. H.C. Simmons, a.k.a. Clay Simmons  in a scrapbook dedicated to the Simmons family ancestry.  Jerry D. said that he had never heard his grandfather called “Henry” or even “H.C.”   After confirming the identity of  “H.C. Simmons”  from  the death certificate found years earlier, I traced the Simmons line from Texas to Georgia to North Carolina in the late 1700s. And, that is a story for another day!

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Reflection:

This year, I am reviewing and cleaning up files for families of  my in-laws.  As I pulled files for this story, I realized (again) how inconsistent my recordkeeping has been.  I do not always find chronological records in the exact sequence in which events happened.  In my opinion, keeping track of when you find a record is as important as placing that record within the person’s biographical timeline. Access to records change. Websites disappear or change names.  Records transfer from one agency to another.  Agencies move to another address.

What am I doing different?  Trying to be more systematic and thorough in approach.  I create research logs and/or fill out research checklists and individual worksheets more often.  I track the sequence in which I find records.

What I learned:  Reinforced previous experiences of person being called one name but having one or more additional names.  Keep complete records of all sources and include date on which you accessed the source. Take time with record and file clean-up process.

What helped:  Printed copies of sources and records in file.  Scrapbook done in 2013. Individual worksheets and research checklists begun in January 2017 but not complete.

What didn’t help: Incomplete record keeping and analysis.

To-do list:  Continue file clean-up.  Check scans of certificates. Place originals in appropriate BMD notebook.  Create Research logs for Clay and Deedie – DONE.

SOURCES: 

[1] Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), Clay & Deedie [Bailey] Simmons; photograph by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013.

[2] Personal knowledge of [living] Ellerbee, shared with Susan Posten Ellerbee, daughter-in-law, ca. 2010-2011; handwritten notes in vertical file, Clay Simmons family, privately held by Ms. Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Mr. Ellerbee stated his grandfather’s name of Clay as a fact.

[3]. Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Standard certificate of death,” digital images, Footnote (now Fold3) (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed, downloaded 23 July 2011), entry for H.C. Simmons.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com    : viewed 30 January 2013), memorial page for Henry Clay Simmons, Find A Grave Memorial # 88689404, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Eleanor Baker.

[5] Marriage record for Mr. H.C. Simmons & Miss Deedie Bailey, (18 February 1909), Cherokee County Marriage Records: ; County Clerk’s Office, Rusk, Texas; obtained 11 July 2013.

[6] U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, enumeration district (ED) 37-34, p.3B (penned), dwelling 62, family 62, H.C. Simmons head; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed & downloaded 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2307.

[7],  U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 35, p. 6A (penned), family # 103, H C Simmons; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed & printed 22 March 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625_1787.

[8] World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1919,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed ,downloaded 2 December 2013), entry for Henry Clay Simmons; citing United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M1509.

©  Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

 

Pearls in a Probate Record

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

probate def

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

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

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

Question 1:  When did John E. Ellerbee die?

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

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

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

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

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

What about children listed in the probate record?

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

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

Missing from the probate record:

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

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Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCES: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A case of mistaken identity

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

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

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

                Name                                    Place       Sex      Col.         Vol.        Number         Year

Ellerbee, Martha Catharine         Tampa         F           W           459         16971            1929

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT BLOG:  John Ellerbee’s Probate record

SOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots, 2019

Do-over for another branch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REFLECTION

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

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

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

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

What didn’t help:  Personal frustration.

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

SOURCES

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

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

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

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

“A 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.  

Creager_Holcomb_migration

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. 

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REFLECTION

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. 

SOURCES

[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.

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REFLECTION

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.

Are Samuel and Elizabeth the parents of Narcissa?

March brings spring flowers and Women’s History Month. My narcissus are blooming, one of the few flowers that thrive in spite of not inheriting my Dad’s green thumb! From my husband’s family tree, Narcissus/ Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb, first wife of George Creager Holcomb, became the logical choice for this post.

narcissus_2019George Creager Holcomb is my husband’s 3 times great grandfather on his mother’s side. My husband is descended from George and his second wife, Mary Ann Selman. Why write about Narcissus when we aren’t directly related? My husband shares a genetic link with the children of George and Narcissus. And, I know little about her.  Writing posts help me focus as I search for more information.

According to an extensive history of the Holcombe family, as published [1] :

D-3-4-2-1-4-1 George Craiger [sic] Holcombe, p. 499.2, had a grant of 
640 acres in Cherokee Co., Tex. June 24, 1851. He was the pioneer 
in Tex. of is family, having come from Ark. In 1842 with his 
father-in-law, Samuel  RUTHERFORD. . . . m. 1st in Cherokee Co., 
Tex._____, 184_, Narcissus RUTHERFORD, who d. _____, 185__,
 dau. of Samuel, b. Va.,  ____1801 and Elizabeth, b. in Tenn. ____,1802.
 Ch. (b. Mt. Pleasant, Nacogdoches (now Cherokee) Co., Tex. )
1- John Lewis,  ____ 1843, d. _____1865, 
2- W.____ Harrison, _____ 1845, _______, 
3-Sarah, _______, 1848, _______, 
4-George Washington, _____ 1850, ______.

Question  1:  Who were Narcissus Rutherford’s parents?

Samuel Rutherford and Betsy Brown married on 12 October 1828 in Greene county, Tennessee.[2] Betsy is a common nickname for Elizabeth.

The Holcombe history suggests that Samuel Rutherford lived close to George C. Holcombe’s parents, Joseph Holcombe and Sarah Creager, in Arkansas.  Both families are on the same page of the 1840 census for Washington county, Arkansas[3]:

Name: Saml Rutherford
Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Mountain, Washington, Arkansas
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 3
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 1
Free White Persons - Under 20: 3
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 5

NOTE:  Listed only male children.  If Narcissa’s suggested birth year of 1827 is correct, then she would have been 13 years old in 1840.  Birth years for the older male and female were between 1801 and 1810.

Name: Joseph Hanleen [Joseph Holcomb] [Joseph Haulcom]
Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Mountain, Washington, Arkansas
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 49: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 40 thru 49: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 5
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons - Under 20: 7
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 9
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 9

NOTE: 1840 census for Joseph is consistent with census and other records for his family.

George Holcomb and Narcissa [sic], his presumed wife, lived in Cherokee county, Texas in December 1850.  This census[4] is the only one with Narcissa [sic] specifically named:

Holcomb, Geo, 29, M, farmer, value $1,280, born AR
Holcomb, Narcissa, 23, F, born TN
Holcomb, John L, 5, M, born TX
Holcomb, Wm. H., 4, M, born TX
Holcomb, Sarah E, 2, F, born TX

Also listed in Cherokee county in 1850 were Samuel Rutherford, his presumed wife, Elizabeth and presumed daughter, Leona [5]:

Saml Rutherford  47 M  land value 640 birthplace: Tenn
Elizabeth  "     46 F  birthplace:  Tenn
Leona      "     20 F  birthplace: Tenn

George Creager Holcomb married his second wife, Mary Ann Selman, on 4 May 1853 in Cherokee county, Texas. [6]

In June, 1860, 8- year-old George W. Holcomb was living with Samuel & Elizabeth Rutherford [7] , presumably his grandparents.  His age suggests birth year about 1851-1852. On the 1900 census, George W. Holcomb’s  birth is listed as Dec 1851.[8] George’s death certificate[9] records his birth date as 23 December 1850. His parents are listed as “ G.C. Holcomb, born Mo [Missouri]” and “Nacis Relarford, born Mo [Missouri].” Informant was W.F. Garrison or Miles Foss Garrison, husband of George’s daughter, Ethel.  As indirect information, George W. Holcomb’s death certificate plus the 1860 census back the assertion that Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford were Narcissa’s parents.

Question  1:  Who were Narcissus Rutherford’s parents?

Based on indirect evidence, Samuel Rutherford and Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Brown were likely the parents of Narcissus/ Narcissa Rutherford. The assertion has not been definitely proven.

Based on 1850 census record, Narcissa was born about 1827 in Tennessee. The 1840 census for Samuel Rutherford suggests that he lived close to Joseph Holcomb’s family.  Perhaps the assertion that Samuel was George Holcomb’s father-in-law is true. The troublesome information is “3 males ages 10-14” on the 1840 census.  Ages of both Narcissa and her presumed sister, Leona, would be in this age range at that time.

Evidence to answer other questions remains elusive:

question

    1.  When and where did George and Narcissa marry? Based on birth of 1st child in 1843, probably in 1842.  
    2. When and where did Narcissa die? Where is she buried? Narcissa died between December 1850 (birth of last child) and May 1853 (date of George’s 2nd marriage). Possibly in Cherokee county, Texas. Perhaps she died from complications of childbirth.  
    3. When and where did Samuel and Elizabeth Rutherford die? Where are they buried? Samuel and Elizabeth certainly died after June 1860, possibly in Cherokee county, Texas.

George, Mary Ann, and the other 3 children of George and Narcissa remain “lost” in the 1860 census.  I searched  images for Cherokee, Nacogdoches and Angelina counties with no results.  Relatives found in Cherokee county in 1860 included George’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Holcomb, Mary Ann’s widowed mother, Ann Selman, and all of George’s siblings.  Are pages missing from these records?

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

Much of  Narcissa Rutherford Holcomb’s life and death remains a mystery to me. I hoped to discover  more answers  in a timely manner. I started a research log for Narcissus and documented what I had already found.  I tracked my searches and recorded findings.  I added the names of Narcissa’s descendants to my RootsMagic program.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled because of previous successes with minimal effort?   This brick wall shows only one very small crack.  I’m not sure if I met  the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ genealogy standard this time.

What I learned:   Census record index on Fold3 easier for me to review than index on Ancestry. Fold 3 has census records for 1860 and 1900 through 1930.  Another  free website found : Cemeteries of Texas (https://www.cemeteries-of-tx.com)

What helped:  Holcomb history.  Family tree last updated in 2016.

What didn’t help:  Not having list of references cited in Holcombe history.  Limited time to complete research and post per my own self-imposed deadline. Taking information in Holcombe history as fact.  Cursory searches of newspapers for obituaries and other information.

Next steps:   Search 1830 Tennessee census for Samuel Rutherford. Search 1860 census images again for Angelina, Cherokee and Nacogdoches counties.  Are pages missing?  Broaden search to other nearby counties- Anderson, Henderson, Houston, Rusk, Smith, Trinity.  Identify and search other cemeteries in the three target counties.  If no results, expand to cemeteries in other identified counties.

SOURCES: 

[1] 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.

[2]Tennessee State Marriage Index, 1780-2002,”  database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VNZG-PWG   : accessed 19 March  2014), Samuel Rutherford and Betsy Brown, 12 Oct 1828; from “Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : 2008);  citing p. 446, Greene, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.

[3] 1840 U.S. Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line 4, Saml Rutherford, Joseph Hanleen; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   :   viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration,Washington, D. C. microfilm publication M704.

[4] 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.

[5] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 897B, dwelling 641, family 641, Saml Rutherford age 47; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   :  viewed & downloaded 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M432_909.

[6] “Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909,”  database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   ; accessed 20 March 2019), entry for George C. Holcomb and Mary Ann Sellman,Cherokee county, Book B, p. 142.

[7]  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.

[8] 1900 U.S. Census, Anderson county, Texas, population schedule, Palestine, p. 6A (ink pen), George W. Holcomb; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 20 March 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publication T623.

[9]  Johnson County, Texas, Death Certificate no. 37184, George Washington Holcomb, 7 July 1937; digital image in “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,”  Family Search  (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed & printed 3 March 2017); Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

A Genealogist is . . .

How would you complete the statement “A genealogist is . . . . “ ? Start with the word itself.  Genealogy  comes from two Greek words – “genea,” or descent and “logos,” or discourse.[1]

Books

Follow with a standard dictionary definition, from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language[2]:

Page 944:  “1: an account or history of the descent of a person, family or group from an ancestor or ancestors or from older forms; an enumeration of ancestors and their descendants in the national order of succession.  2: regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor or older form. 3: a study of family pedigrees and the methods of investigation of them.”

Page 1315: “Lineage. 1.a. descent in a line from a common progenitor.”

Morgan (2012) [3] defines genealogy as the “study of a family’s line of descent from its ancestors.” (p. 3).  He differentiates this from a family history, defined as “the study of a family’s history and traditions over an extended period of time and may involve documenting some or all of the facts.” (Morgan, p. 3).  A genealogist “place[s] family members and ancestors into geographical, historical, and social context.” (p. 4).

Genealogical research includes concepts and strategies from multiple disciplines such as anthropology, geography, history, psychology and sociology.  Williams (1960) included  biography, law, medicine and linguistics.  [4] What do each of these disciplines contribute to genealogy?  Here’s a summary with my personal definitions:

  • Anthropology is the study of groups of people within their natural environment. Focus is the group’s culture, physical environment, and interpersonal / family/ group dynamics.  To better understand the person and family from a genealogy perspective, explore their physical address (urban vs. rural, neighborhood),  geographical  location (country,  county or parish, town), family traditions, and personal accounts of events in the lives of individuals.  Consider people’s behavior within the context of the place and time in which they lived. Anthropology also seeks to understand the perspective of the people being studied.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a hospital was viewed as a place to die; today, a hospital is generally viewed as a place to regain health.
  • Biography is a person’s life history. Genealogy “adds background” [5] to the person’s story. A biographical profile for an ancestor records a chronological history of that person.  For some of my female ancestors, the frequency of births and deaths of their children seemed overwhelming when I placed all of those birth and death dates on the woman’s biographical profile.  I did not realize that James D. Posten’s mother died when he was only 12 years old until I filled in James’ biographical profile.
  • Geography is the study of the physical environment in which we live. The effects of drought, such as the 1930s Dust Bowl, is one example.  Dramatic changes in the land itself resulted in many families leaving the Midwest during that time.  Boundary changes reflect the study of geography.  How many of your ancestors lived in the same town for decades but are recorded as living in three (or more) different counties?  A major flood changes the course of a river and subsequently results in an entire town being destroyed.  A town with the same name develops 5-10 miles away from the original site.  Trace family migrations with geographical maps.
  • Historical events profoundly affected the lives of our ancestors. Consider the decision of men and women to fight (or not) in a particular war.  The experience of Black families in the South during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was different than the experience of White families who lived in the same place. Was an ancestor part of the Women’s Suffrage movement?  When did the women in your family tree first register to vote?
  • Law may be used to establish relationships. Legal documents and processes are often primary sources of information.  Probate records may include an actual death date and the names of heirs.  Birth, marriage and death records can hold treasures or  no new information.  A court case involving a land dispute gives insight into family relationships.
  • Linguistics is the study of language. Terms used by our ancestors provide clues to national origin. Surnames were often derived from a particular location, occupation or relationship.   Johnson originally referred to the  “son of John”.
  • Medicine studies disease and how to cure, prevent, and treat them. Today, we focus more on genetics, a specific branch of medicine.  Look at the causes of death for your ancestors. Relate the cause of death to specific outbreaks of disease or natural causes in the locality.  Compare photographs of your ancestors with your family today. What physical characteristics do they have in common?
  • Psychology is the study of the human mind including mental processes and behavior. In general, the individual is the focus of study although ‘group think’ also falls under the purview of psychology. We often ask, “What was my ancestor thinking when that decision was made?”  or “What did my ancestor think about . . . ?”  Personal diaries, journals and letters provide insight into their perceptions of events and people.  Other documents such as newspaper articles and legal proceedings give clues about the person’s state of mind.  Membership in a particular group shows a glimpse of our ancestor’s values and beliefs.  This aspect of genealogy is most evident when we begin to write our ancestor’s story.
  • Sociology is the study of the structure, interactions, and behaviors of groups of people or, broadly, the study of human society. Families are the often the focus. Sociology and anthropology overlap in that each studies groups of people.  Anthropology focuses on culture while sociology focuses on society.  Placing families within their social context is one tool used by genealogists.  A family’s religion or ethnic background or nationality often influenced where they lived in a particular community.  Values and belief systems change as society changes.

Now,  you are probably asking,  “What does all of this have to do with my genealogical research?”  questionAll of these disciplines follow similar research methods.  Research in each discipline involves the careful, systematic review of documents and information.  Information may be obtained first hand or through other sources.  Research occurs in the field, in buildings and online.  Specific methodologies and analyses involved in each discipline are beyond the scope of this blog.  Genealogy also requires the careful, systematic review and evaluation of documents and information.

To summarize, a genealogist is anthropologist, biographer, geographer, historian, legal analyst,  linguist, medical scientist,  psychologist and sociologist as well as detective.  These perspectives broaden your view as you copy facts and develop a more comprehensive analysis of those facts and the sources from which the facts are drawn.  So, dust off your school text books and add more perspective to your genealogical research!

Other sources consulted for this post:

Desmond Walls Allen, “Family history detective,”  Family Tree Magazine, 28 October 2011 (https://www.familytreemagazine.com/premium/family-history-detective/   :  accessed 11 March 2019.)

Michael Erben, “Genealogy and sociology:  A preliminary set of statements and speculations,” Sociology,  25(2), 275-292, 1991. Abstract . Sage Publications (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0038038591025002008   :  accessed 11 March 2019).

Emily Garber. “Genealogy is anthropology.” (going) The Extra Yad, 26 April 2013 (http://extrayad.blogspot.com/2013/04/genealogy-is-anthropology.html  :     accessed 11 March 2019).

Jeanne Kay Guelke and Dallen J. Timothy (editor), Geography and Genealogy: Locating Personal Pasts, E-book edition (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2008.  Chapter 1:  Locating personal pasts:  An introduction by Jeanne Kay Guelke and Dallen J. Timothy.  (https://zodml.org/sites/default/files/%5BDallen_J._Timothy_and_Jeanne_Kay_Guelke%5D_Geograph.pdf   :   accessed 11 March 2019)

Arnon Herskovitz, “A suggested taxonomy of genealogy as a multidisciplinary academic research field,” Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, volume 4, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 5-21; image copy, JMR  (http://www.jmrpublication.org/portals/jmr/issues/JMR4-3.pdf  :   accessed 11 March 2019).

Sheila O’Hare. “Genealogy and history.”  Common-Place, Vol. 2, No. 3 (April 2002), (http://www.common-place-archives.org/vol-02/no-03/ohare    :     accessed 11 March 2019.). 4 parts.

Need lighter views?  Read these two blog posts:

Alona.  “Are you a genealogist or a family historian?”  Lonetester, 21 March 2017 (https://www.lonetester.com/2017/03/are-you-a-genealogist-or-a-family-historian/   :   accessed 11 March 2019.

Lorine  McGinnis Schulze, “What kind of genealogist are you?”  Legacy Family Tree News, 30 October 2015 (https://news.legacyfamilytree.com/legacy_news/2015/10/what-kind-of-genealogist-are-you.html  :  accessed 11 March 2019).

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REFLECTION:

I am still in kind of a fog after the death of my husband’s father last month.  Even genealogy doesn’t interest me much. I can’t seem to stay focused.  So, here is an article that I started last year.  Yes, I rechecked all of my sources.  For my next post, I plan to tell a story about a female ancestor in honor of Women’s History Month.

What I learned:  Start articles when I think about a topic.  Keep adding to these articles.

What helped:   Having an almost complete draft of this article on my computer.  Re-discovering an old genealogy ‘how-to’ book on my bookshelf.  I bought this book about 2 years at an estate auction.

What didn’t help:  Anxiety about what to write. Wanting to stay on track with posts every 2 weeks.

To-do:  Pick a female ancestor from husband’s family tree for next post.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

SOURCES

[1] Ethel W. Williams, Know your ancestors: A guide to genealogical research. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1960.

[2] Philip Babcock Gove, editor-in-chief. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc, Publishers, 1993.

[3] George G. Morgan, How to do everything genealogy (3rd ed.) New York: McGraw Hill, 2012.

[4] Williams, Know your ancestors pages 11-13.

[5] Williams, Know your ancestors, page 12