I realized quickly, with the lack of records for my family, that I’d really have to “think outside the box”. I LOVE to interview people, and ask about "the older days" in Mecklenburg. I also study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try help preserve some of those memories people share with me. Feel free to sign my guestbook stating surnames you are looking for, who you're related to etc. Always a work in progress, a work that I truly love!

05 August 2016

Abner Newman's family

(Note: I'm reading conflicting reports on which George Newman married Abner Newman's daughter Nancy. Will report here when I get some court records stating relationships.)
I finally found the rest of Abner Newman's family, with some help. Someone related, pointed out that Abner's father was William Newman and that William's will was in Orange county, Virginia. So I went to that courthouse yesterday. It appears my Newman's had really large families. Large families isn't that unusual way back. But they raised lots of kids to adulthood which I think is unusual, especially in colonial days. Martha Newman, (daughter of Abner) raised 15 children to adulthood! Abner raised 7 children to adulthood, and Abner was one of 14 all living to be adults and marrying. This in a time when so many were dying from consumption and yellow fever.

William Newman's will was written in Orange county 1 Apr 1837. It was proved 24 Apr 1843. He lists his children as:
1) Abner Newman, now deceased
2) Patsy Porter
3) Franky Gilbert (daughter)
4) William Newman
5) Benjamin Newman
6) Thomas Newman
7) Charles Newman
8) Robert Newman
9) Reuben Newman
10) Fountaine Newman (male)
11) Sarah A Gee
12) Polly Faulconer
13) Melinda Rogers
14) Maria Faulconer

There is no mention of William's wife, so I assume that means his wife died before April 1837. Two things I was surprised to see. One is that the penalty for not following the directions on the will was 12,000! How many people had that kind of money in the 1830s!

The other was that William was mad at his grand daughter. ..."which I give and devise to the children of my son Abner Newman deceased, excepting his daughter Nancy A Newman, to whom I leave only one cent she having married to displease me." She married George Newman, a relative. Made me start to wonder, ...like how much influence did wealthy grandfathers had over your marriage? Did he try to arrange a marriage for her? So did William not like some of his family? This is the relationship as I understand it:
Elias, his son William, his son Abner, his daughter Nancy Ann Newman
Elias, his son James, his son George Newman

So how did Nancy do married to George? I have no idea if they were happy. I don't know any stories about them. But I can see that George was very wealthy. Both William and George had a lot of slaves. At least 20 each. George bought properties 100 acres or more and gave them to each of his children. He had two houses, one in Orange and one in Madison.
The will lists his children as:
1) James F
2) Elias
3) George A
4) Elizabeth Winslow

I found a Newman Cemetery, in between the town of Orange and the airport. Because of this cemetery and the notes about land in wills, it appears these Newman's lived really close to the town of Orange. (In Orange county) I hope to go back sometime soon to look at some land records. Some of the stones in the cemetery weren't readable any more. Some were still field stones. Here's Newman's stone, it's sunken in the ground.
I also can see these early Newmans spread out all over Virginia. William Newman was born in Esssex and died in Orange. Abner was born in Orange, married Brunswick, his daughter Martha born in Orange, he died in Mecklenburg or Brunswick. Some were in Madison and Culpeper.

18 July 2016

The Newman and Steagall families

Martha Newman was married to James B. Jones. That was as far back as I knew, for a long time. Then on FamilySearch, I discovered Martha's death record. It listed her spouse James and parents: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRM2-LYX?from=lynx1 Abner and Delilah Newman. I was surprised to see it said she was born in Orange County, Virginia. That seemed pretty far away to me, about a 3 hour drive by car. And this was about 110 years ago before cars! After awhile of searching, I found her father Abner Newman was in Mecklenburg for the War of 1812. He was listed as an Ensign, for the 98th Regiment. Then I found Abner and Delilah's marriage record 8 May 1792 in Brunswick. So I figured the Orange County notation had to be a mistake. Partly, I was thinking very limited, because several people I talked with never left the area, or traveled more than a few miles from their house.

I was talking with a genealogist friend who knows the Fredericksburg, Orange area very well. He's also from Mecklenburg. He pointed out that the Newmans and Steagalls had money, so it was highly likely they had the money for a coach and traveled. He also told me there were Indian trading routes that went from Orange to Mecklenburg area, so it is likely. He gave me the example of the Washington's and how spread out through Virginia their family was, yet they did visit each other. I found an Occaneechi trail went from Petersburg through Mecklenburg and Brunswick.
But I haven't yet found a map from Orange to Mecklenburg, even though it is a pretty straight line on a map.The current highway 15 looks like it goes from Orange to Mecklenburg, but that's to Clarksburg, the other side of the county than my family was at. My family bordered Mecklenburg and Brunswick Counties. After I updated the Newman stuff in my tree on ancestry.com, someone from Parthenia Newman's family sent me a link to this amazing family Bible-like record for Abner Newman and Dorothy Delilah Steagalls children which were:
1) Martha Newman married James B. Jones
2) Nancy Newman married George Newman (Orange)
3) Emily/Emma Newman married Edward Walker
4) Varinda Newman married David Walker
5) * Parthenia Newman married Freeman Walker
6) Elizabeth Newman married William Harwell
7) William Newman

This link shows a scanned image of the papers: Freeman Walker family records @ LVA    Interestingly from a chancery case, I learned Nancy Newman married a cousin and they lived in Orange, Virginia.

(More soon on the Steagall family and the chancery cases I found.)

30 May 2016

How to get more Virginia records available

The more people who help index and transcribe records, the faster we can get the records we are looking for, searchable in a database.

On 25 Jun 2016, the Library of Virginia is having a "Transcribe-a-thon". For more info, here's a link to their June events: LVA calendar page-click here

I really love searching on FamilySearch. It's free, nice filters, and a great database. Here's a short video clip to explain indexing. I really like that the pictures and stories go with records. Several recently released Virginia collections were from FamilySearch indexing volunteers. I don't have nearly as much time as I like, and sometimes I have trouble typing with my hand weakness. But I try to help with indexing when I can, because I feel its really important. Hope you enjoy this video clip, and hope you can volunteer to help index or transcribe more Virginia records.

09 May 2016

My personal life notation: my thoughts on wheelchairs, for me

I have struggled to kept up with blog posting about my my favorite thing I do to decompress, family history. My personal life has been crazier than usual. I was just officially permanently put in a wheelchair this month, and trying to readjust to my surroundings. I really am fine, and am actually relieved it's finally happened. I've had chronic health problems for years. So I've been expecting this for awhile.

I've met a lot of people with chronic health problems over the years who asked me to explain how I think through my problems. People ask me to write books. I can't. I just do little pieces as blog posts here and there when I can. I've read tons of books and watched tons of videos on how paraplegics adapted to their new situation. Their stories and explanations of their feelings helped me a lot, helping me realize my thoughts were pretty normal. I'm working on some posts about specific simple things that really helped me this month. So in case it helps someone, I wrote my story on my other blog today about trying to simplify my life with crazy health problems. In case you are interested there are two posts today. One about an article printed in the newspaper about Susan who has the same health problem I do. The other post is my thoughts on becoming a permanent wheelchair user. 2 posts dated 9 May 2016: http://juliesimplifieslife.blogspot.com/

My visit to Frank Gray's farm was my last full walking day. I was in a wheelchair up till the night before I left. I was really afraid I wouldn't be able to physically do the trip. I'm glad my last day was doing something I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm not done yet, I will figure out ways to still get to those cemeteries! It just might take me awhile to figure out how.

19 April 2016

Frank Gray: his family and his house

Frank Gray's house-picture from Hazel King
After 5 visits and 10 years of asking people to look at my pictures, I can now identify this picture as Frank Gray's house in Alberta, Brunswick County, Virginia. This (and 4 other pictures), Hazel King knew were "Gray family pictures", but no names or dates. I hadn't been able to find any one from Frank Gray's family. I guessed this might be Frank Gray's house, and his grandchildren, but couldn't find anyone to prove or disprove this. Theorizing this could be Frank's house, I drove around the Alberta area looking to see if I could find a house like this picture. I could not. March 24, 2016 I had the chance to go to Alberta to learn more about Frank.

August 2012, I discovered in the courthouse that Frank Gray bought his farm from Anderson Elmore. There was a stipulation in the deed, that future Elmore family could be buried in this cemetery, and that Frank would care for the cemetery. Anderson Elmore is buried in this cemetery, but was Frank Gray? http://www.brunswickcemeteries.org/HTML/elmore.htm  It would make sense, because it is his land. A descendant of Nannie Gray Kidd, was living on Nellie Jones Road in Mecklenburg when her Uncle Frank died. She told me it was rainy, she was very young, so her mother wanted her to stay home with a neighbor. But she remembers her mother went to the funeral in Alberta and that Frank was buried in Alberta. Frank and his family attended Bethel Grove Methodist church, but he was not buried at that cemetery. His daughter Nellie was.

Fortunately, I knocked on a stranger's door, near Bethel Grove church. Douglas and Betty Winn knew the answers to my questions and helped me, even though they are not even related to me. They introduced me to Frank Gray's grand daughter who told me that picture was Frank's house, but it's no longer standing. It wouldn't have been visible from the road either. It was near where the trees start now, leading back to the Elmore cemetery. I'm told when Frank owned the farm, peanuts (possibly soybeans too) grew in a field across from the cemetery. Now that area is overgrown dense woods. Frank is buried at the Anderson Elmore Cemetery, on his old farm. There are at least two unmarked graves. One has to be Frank, his grand daughter knows he's buried there, she was there. The other plot I could see, I theorize is Frank's son, John R. Gray. John died in Jan 1920, one month before he would have turned 34. One humorous part of my trip is that I had been trying to find the Elmore and Jones cemeteries with GPS, but Douglas knew and found it from memory, even though he hadn't been to the Jones cemetery we also visited (near Frank's farm) for decades.

Hazel King and my great grandmother Fannie Gray had this picture of Frank Gray, part of Alginon Gray's wedding picture taken in May 1904. At the time of this picture in 1904, Frank was married to Elizabeth Clary with 4 children, living in Danville. I asked Frank's grand daughter what she could remember. She said she was holding her grandfather's hand when he died. I was told Charles Gray had a very thick accent, their father John Gray immigrated from Ireland about age 30. I asked if Frank had an Irish accent and she said no, same accent as everyone else around. I asked what color his eyes were. She commented they were very striking, a blue-gray.

Frank and his family had a buggy pulled by horses. They had a cow for milk, several horses, land for pasture, a garden and pear trees. There was a root cellar under the house. There was a built in bench on each side of the porch. There was a fireplace in every room. The house was 3 levels, two bedrooms in the attic. The first floor included a kitchen, dining room and hall way. Eula, Frank's wife, had a side table in the hall by the stairs. She kept a bowl of lemons, so as you walked down the stairs (inside the house) you could smell the lemons.

Nellie Gray was technically a half sister to Hazel. I was told they were like real sisters, really close and good friends.  I was told all the children from the first marriages of Frank and Eula got along really well. Every day, even in bad weather, Frank and Eula walked to their daughter Hazel's house for a visit. Hazel's land according to the deed was originally part of Frank's farm. After her marriage, Hazel was their neighbor. If it was raining, Frank left his boots outside the door. The grandchildren grabbed his boots and went out to splash in the mud puddles. He never got upset or ever said anything. Hazel taught school in Mecklenburg and Roanoke. She did lots of sewing, especially for other children in Alberta who couldn't afford clothing. Many children in Alberta wore clothes Hazel made. I asked about holidays. They had nice big holiday family dinners. They never smoked or drank, not even at holidays. At Christmas they looked forward to Santa visiting. They made coconut cakes for Thanksgiving. Frank Gray and his family lived in Mecklenburg, Danville and Brunswick. Frank's old farm in Alberta was so beautiful and peaceful! I really enjoyed learning about Frank Gray's family.

(See earlier posts 26 Apr 2012, and 24 Apr 2010, or by using the tag "Gray".) 

Note: Two Hazel's are referenced in this post. Hazel King had the pictures, was from Martha Gray Moseley's family. Hazel Jeffries was the daughter of Eula Bernard and AM Jeffries. Frank Gray was her step father.