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!

09 February 2017

DNA- I'm more Irish than I expected

Ancestry.com says I'm 42% Irish! My Ancestry DNA posted about a month ago. I previously tested (May 2015) with 23andMe, which My Heritage partnered with for the tree part. Now My Heritage is doing their own DNA. On 23andMe it grouped Irish and English together; On Ancestry, it listed Irish separately. I expected to be a lot more English, because I know several lines that came over from England. I expected to be mostly English, with some Irish, Welsh and Danish. The more I read about history though...there was a lot of back and forth in those countries, people moving and who was in charge. It appears further back, those English guys of mine might have been ethnically more Celtic. Or I just carried/inherited more of the Irish pieces of DNA.

My Grays, before their arrival in Mecklenburg worked at Colonel William Blacker's estate, in County Armagh. I was thinking our locality was Seagoe because of the church, but now I'm thinking that looks more like a parish area name not really a place name. I read that if you were at that estate, you were really considered part of Portadown. This month I purchased 3 books from Ireland with pictures and history. Was fun to see "Printed in Armagh" on the title page. I've found the history really interesting; I'm learning a lot of new things. One thing that surprised me is the place names and surnames. Many of those same names I'm familiar with from Mecklenburg and Brunswick.

I started looking more closely at other family lines to see if I could find more Irish lines. I found another side of my family immigrated from Ireland about 1860. I have no idea where from yet. I'm really looking forward to seeing where these DNA results can lead. I have matches to people who never left Europe, but it must be farther than either of us can document. I hope eventually DNA will give us more Gray DNA matches. A match back to Ireland would be extra cool. So would a match to Francis Gray's family that we still haven't been able to find.

I'm at home watching RootsTech videos this week. There's lots of the latest about DNA presentations scheduled.  Lots of DNA tests for about half price there, and drawings for free kits/tests. Ancestry recently reached 3 million tests. Will be fun to see lots more people testing, leading to lots more possibilities for matches. The Ancestry Insider blog did a recent post about the innovator awards finalists. I checked out two of them and they were really amazing and helpful, especially with older (colonial) records. I might do a post on those ideas soon. Yesterday I went to message someone on Ancestry.com. A message came up that I did not have a DNA match to the lady I was messaging, or she hadn't taken a DNA test yet. I can see that being a very helpful tool. On Ancestry.com I made a tree that's just my pedigree lines. No second spouses or other children. Just the pedigree line. In Mecklenburg I know my families are very connected. Everyone in a small geographical area is related by marriage or blood. I have more detailed trees I can direct people to with my sources. Looking forward to the new things in DNA and genealogy this year!

27 December 2016

1819: The Complicated Will of Thomas Steagall, Brunswick VA

Thomas Steagall will
Part of: 1836-029, Walker vs Smith, Brunswick chancery (Julie’s files image 126, 130, 131)
Photographs (of the chancery) and transcribing by Julie Cabitto. Photographed with permission at LVA, 25 July 2015. Transcribed 27 Dec 2016. Note: Julie is descendant of Martha Newman, daughter of Dorothy Steagall, who is daughter of Thomas Steagall.
Family History info:
I.                     Will written 18 Jun 1819
II.                   Will proved 12 Sep 1820
III.                 Will copied & taken to chancery in 1836
IV.                Thomas Steagall recognizes his grandchildren as:   (marriage info included if known)
                        Children of Dorothy Steagall married to Abner Newman, as spelled in will:
1)      Elizabeth McKinney (m. Samuel McKinney 1808 Warren, NC)
2)      William Newman (m. 1819 Ann S. Tarvin Campbell, KY)
3)      Nancy Newman (m. George Newman 1837 Orange, VA)
4)      Emma Newman (m. Edward Walker ______ d. 1835 Mecklenburg, VA)
5)      *Patsy Newman (Martha, m. James B. Jones 1821 Warren, NC)
6)      Virenda Newman (m. David Walker 1824 Brunswick, VA)
7)      Parthenia Newman (m. Freeman Walker 1826 Warren, NC)
                      Children of Patsey Steagall Ingram:
8)      Robert W Ingram
9)      William Ingram

V.                  Note: Thomas Steagall’s wife Elizabeth was first married to John Ingram. The had a son named Benjamin Ingram. Benjamin is not listed as an heir.
VI.                Note: Thomas Steagall had 3 children: Edward, Dorothy and Patsey Steagall. All 3 children are recognized in the will. This will was taken to chancery because two executors died and the estate was held up in court. Edward married after his father died and had children Thomas in 1820 and Henry in 1821.
VII.               By 1836, the Ingrams and Dorothy’s son William Newman are in KY. Patsey Ingram died in 1841, her husband Samuel preceded her in death and was deceased by the 1836 chancery case. Edward died in 1836, and Dorothy is unknown. William married in KY one month after the will was written. Only one of Thomas’s grand children were married at the time of this will, Elizabeth McKinney. By 1836 they were all married and grand daughter Parthenia Newman Walker and Emma Newman Walker had died. The chancery case complaint explained that items in the will were contradictory so the estate was held up and not being given to the heirs for about 20 years. Also Edward’s children weren’t born at the time of the will so they were not recognized as Thomas’s heirs. The chancery case which included this will is 131 pages.

In the name of God Amen. I Thomas Steagall of the County of Brunswick, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following to wit:
1st I give and bequeath to my son Edward Steagall the tract of Land whereon I now live and all moneys that he may be indebted to me, to him and his heirs forever.
2nd I will that my two negro fellows Dick and Cato be sold on twelve months credit and the proceeds of such sale to be applied as herein after directed.
3rdly It is my desire that all my stock of every kind, household and kitchen furniture, plantation utensils etc. be sold and the proceeds to be applied as herein after directed.
4 Item, Out of the proceeds of the sale above named, I give to my Executors, their heirs, Executors admin or assigns the sum of twenty pounds annually to be by them paid, laid out or expanded in any manner they may think most proper for the support and maintenance of my daughter Patsey Ingram during the life of her husband Samuel Ingram. And provided she should survive her said husband I give her the like sum of twenty pounds to be paid out of the funds aforesaid, during her widowhood and no longer.
5 Item, I wish my negroes to be kept together and finish the crop that may be on hand at the time of my death, which crop I will to be sold and the proceeds of such sale to be funds in the hands of my Executors jointly with the sales above named.
6 Item, At the expiration of the year after my decease my Executors are requested to call on any three respectable neighbors to value all my slaves, and assign to each of my Grand Children that may be then of age, or the heirs of such as may have died, leaving issue, one equal proportion of such valuation in slaves as near as can be in kind and the deficiency in such division if any to be paid to such legatee by my Executors out of the sales aforesaid, and if such  legatee or legatees should draw a lot of more value than the equal proportion such overplus to be by them paid, or secured to be paid to my Executors before the delivery of the property by them drawn.
7 Item, After the delivery of such proportions to the legatees that may be of age as aforesaid, and any that may have married being underage, I will the balance of my slaves to be annually hired out by my Executors and the proceeds of such hire with the proceeds of the sales aforesaid after paying the sums aforesaid or so much thereof as my Executor think necessary be applied to the support of my Grand Daughters, Nancy, Emily, Martha, Varenda and Parthenia Newman until they arrive of age or marry at either event a division is to take place as before stated.
8 Item, If any surplus should remain in the hands of my Executor from the sales and hire aforesaid, after paying the legacies and support of my Grand Children aforesaid, the same is to be let out on interest annually, which interest is to constitute a part of the capitol stock.
9 Item, As my Grand Children severally arrive to the age of 21 years or marry, my Executors are to call on three neighbors as aforesaid to value the remaining slaves that may be undivided and allot to such Grand Child an equal proportion thereof until the whole is divided.
10 Item, I recognize as my Grand Children Elizabeth McKinney, William Newman, Nancy Newman, Emma Newman, Patsey Newman, Virenda Newman and Parthenia Newman children of my Daughter Dorothy Newman, and Robert W and William Ingram sons of my daughter Patsy Ingram.
11, I nominate and appoint my son Edward Steagall together with my friends Green Hill and Jordan Malone, whole and sole Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made. In witness whereof I have hereinto set my hand and seal this 18th June 1819.
Thomas Steagall (seal)

Sealed and delivered in presence of Green Hill, Clement Mitchell, Gray F, Dunn
At a Superior Court of Law held for Brunswick County the 12th day of September 1820. This last will and Testament of Thomas Steagall deceased was proved by the oaths of Green Hill and Gray F Dunn two of the witnesses thereto and ordered to be accorded. And on the motion of Jordan Malone one of the Executors therein named who made oath thereto and together with James Malone, Henry Lewis, and John Clarke his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of fifteen thousand dollars with condition as the law directs, certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate in due form, liberty being reserved the other Executors therein reassured to be joined in the same probate when they think fit.
Teste R. Turnbull, CB_

A copy teste R.R. Randolph, D.C.

17 October 2016

Finding plats (and lost records) in Mecklenburg, Virginia

There is a plat book in the Mecklenburg Courthouse. But I found an even better source of plats, and that's in chancery records. At first I only pulled chancery cases for my family. Then I decided I wanted more plats to try to match up. When you are searching for chanceries, you can see if the case has a plat (or will) or not. If someone died without a will, and the land is being divided or sold, usually a plat is included in the case. The chancery cases are excellent because you get a plat, and notations about family members still living at the time of the case. Names, maiden names, spouse, etc.

Here is the direct link to LVA (Library of Virginia) to search chancery cases: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/
This is the screen you'll see. I usually type just a surname in the bottom set, that says surnames. That will do the search for if they are plaintiff, defendant or anything else like a witness or deposition. The box I highlighted yellow is for plats. My last two trips to LVA, I just copied the plats from 5 cases, because they were neighbors to my family.

Newman Dortch and father in law James Speed plat

Previous Newman Dortch post-click here
I went to the courthouse to try to find more about this James Speed and his land. I did not have any luck. No will, and I couldn't find him in land records, even though this chancery case describes the land he owned in the case and references his will. This I believe, if I understood correctly is the sort of things in the Lost Record Collection. Wills, plats, land that were copied for the case where the original is now lost. The chancery case wills and plats were originally a copy, but now they might be the only version left.
Here is a link to more information regarding the Lost record collection and the database search for this this collection:  http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/lost

PS There is no Courthouse Road in Mecklenburg. I'm still trying to learn what the real name of the road on this plat is. 

13 September 2016

Free FRGS event Sat Sept 24th: and Lost Record Collections at LVA

I've been happily busy, helping with our free local genealogical society event (FRGS). If you live in central VA, come see us! (Link below) Dr. Murphy is presenting about AAGHS and African American research. I first heard about AAGHS on Dear Mytrle's Ambush Cam at Roots Tech. There's also presentations about DNA, Using FamilySearch and Genealogy 101. There's also two ladies from LVA coming to present about "The Lost Records Collection". Have you heard about that? I've seen two presentations about these records. Amazing and cool stuff!  Here's a link if you'd like to check out Lost Record Collections. http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/lost

FRGS event info:  Fredericksburg, VA free genealogy event-click here

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

Note: This William was my Abner's brother. It's possible their father William (b. 1744) is buried here too, there were several unmarked graves.
 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.