02 October 2014

Francis Gray Brown, adopted

Francis Gray 1912
Here is what Francis Gray looked like when our family last saw him in 1912. He is the son of Alginon Gray and Martha Dortch. His father had died, his mother was living with her parents and brothers and sisters close to her age, in a hotel in Kankakee, IL that his grandmother Tennessee Jordan Glover was sole proprietor. (Martha's mother).

Francis' mother was about to remarry and Francis and his brother Hoyt went to temporarily visit or stay with another relative who had children. Sally Dortch Vick (Martha's sister) was waiting to see her nephews. She found the boys hadn't arrived, but instead the relative meeting the boys took the boys all the way to Richmond, VA to be adopted. Sally telegraphed the news to Martha who arrived on the train, with a picture of the boys, most likely this one, to try to find the boys but it was too late.

The people who adopted Francis and Hoyt were Howard Henry Brown and Alice Lucas Johntson. They had a fruit orchard farm in Crozet, VA, part of Albemarle, VA, a little ways outside of Charlottesville, VA.  The Browns had never been able to have children. When Francis turned 21, the Browns had searched and found Martha Dortch, living in Winston Salem, NC. They took the boys to meet their mother. Martha's oldest child from her second marriage was named Virginia. She was about 16 years old. She told me what had happened, because our family (Francis sister Fannie Gray) only knew that the boys were taken and put in an orphanage in Richmond, VA. When the visit with the Browns and the boys was over, Virginia went back and spent an enjoyable summer in Crozet with her brothers and the Browns. Virginia said Francis kept in touch with them, but she lost track of Francis about 1950. Virginia said Francis named a daughter after her.

I found someone in Hoyt Gray's family. Hoyt junior and his wife went to visit Francis in Washington DC, the "Home for the Incurables" hospital. He was dying from cancer, late 1957. This was all we knew about Francis. We knew he was married, but no clue what his wife's name was. He married after the 1930 Census.

I found out that Washington DC death records are public 50 years after the date of death. I found online death records and burial permits, even for the year 1957, but could not find Francis Gray or Francis Brown. So I wrote to request the record. I stated that he was illegally adopted and met his birth mother, so I wasn't sure which info would be given on his record and gave the info for both parents.
Brown's house that Francis & Hoyt were raised at

The death certificate was found, I got it yesterday! The informant was Grace Omohundro Brown, his sister in law. The Browns were listed as parents. He died in Sept 1957 and is buried at Mt. Olivet cemetery, same place as Grace. The only thing incorrect was that he was listed as born in North Carolina. Hoyt was born in Roanoke Rapids, but Francis was born in Knoxville, TN, I have his birth record. Francis was listed as married, and that his wife was Olive Barnett. He was an auto mechanic. I hope to one day find his family to learn more about him, and tell him more about us. 

PS. My family is Fannie Gray, daughter of Alginon Gray and his first wife Theresa India Dortch. Theresa and Martha were sisters.

14 August 2014

1904 Petition for the Brunswick Methodist Episcopal Church

I found a chancery case I thought might interest others. Only two pages. The board of trustees for a new church in Brodnax are listed, with a date of 25 Oct 1904. I scanned the source info page from Library of Virginia's website too.On a future trip I'll get a picture of the church to update this post
Index info
docket info
chancery page-trustee names in 1904, 110 years ago!

29 July 2014

Organizing all my years of genealogy notes with Evernote

I wanted to take a little break from my usual posts to explain something I've been trying, in case it may be of interest or help to any of you. I've spent the last month trying to organize my genealogy stuff better. I developed a system that has worked amazingly well for me, with huge potential. A friend told me he used Evernote for genealogy. I wasn't sure how, and didn't have a chance to ask him for a long time. I set up an account, didn't get it right away, and I let it go for about a year. Then I read something about someone organizing all their daily tasks, blog posts, etc in Evernote, so I became curious again. I went to Evernote's website and watched the intro videos. Then I went to Google and typed "Evernote" and saw over 100 videos listed, of people showing how they used Evernote. I watched the top viewed ones, then got an idea of how I could use it for genealogy. I have the free version: windows, and droid for my phone.

I had hundreds of emails I saved over about 12 years, referencing court cases, records, notes on searching for cemeteries, ...lots of important things I didn't want to loose. But then finding where the info was, wasn't so easy. Which email? Which file was it stored in? Windows 7 searches occasionally found the files, Gmail much better. I started testing out tags in other programs and instantly loved tags/filters. So when I saw tags in Evernote I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them! Another thought: I had a plat, with the name JR Cole. At first I didn't really think I didn't needed to remember the name, because it wasn't a blood line. But after awhile, I started to see his name as a neighbor on other plats, as a witness on other records, but then I couldn't remember where. My lesson was learned. I found he was a close neighbor and his family married into mine lot. So every surname in my Mecklenburg/Brunswick emails gets a tag.

I've been doing this for about a month now. I've created about 10 household notes in a household notebook on cooking, sewing and gardening. The rest is working on this system I created in genealogy notebooks. I took about 250 email messages and created 170 notes in 18 notesbooks. Most of those digital notebooks are main surname lines like Dortch, Poythress, Jones, Taylor. Then I have one for cemetery searching, and interviews. I currently have over 250 tags. I take an old email message and copy/paste it into a note on Evernote. Then I tag all the things I want to remember in that new note. Here's some specific examples of what I do.

Example, my friend and relative Hobson Scott Wright sent me a Gray family picture we were trying to identify people in those pictures. The picture attached and email text goes in a note. It is in the notebook labeled "Gray". My tags are "Hobson Wright", "Gray", "VA-Danville", "identifying picture", "98th Regt group". Then notes about who we emailed and asked about the picture will go on that note. Right now that info is stored in a lot of places. It will be nice to have it all in one place, connected.

Another example: I went to Mecklenburg and visited the Rideout cemetery off Nellie Jones Rd. I visited it with 4 people. Those 4 people each have tags, also "cemetery searching", "98th Regt group", and "Ridout" are tagged.

Another example: someone emailed me a chancery case. Hobson Scott Wright and the 4 people who went to the Rideout cemetery with me commented on the case. There were 6 names in the case and 3 different surnames as witnesses, not in the case. That note has 15 tags: Hobson, the 4 names who also went to Rideout cemetery, the 6 surnames in the case, the 3 surnames as witness, and the word "chancery". So from these 3 examples you can see Hobson Scott Wright would already have 3 tags. When I click on "Pearson" or "Thomas" or "Jones" or "Purdy" or "Ireland-Armagh" tags, you would also see his name showing up, as one of the other tags on those notes.

Other types of tags I created: Just things I wanted to remember: If they went to Rehoboth church, or Kingswood, or Olive branch, or Sardis. If they died in military conflict, if they were in the military, then subcategories of which war, if a note has got a person's mailing address, if it's got an interview inclosed, if there's GPS coordinates in the note, etc.

I'm already seeing so many more patterns and connections! And as I type in notes, underneath my note, it shows other notes I have with similar subjects. As I search in Google, on the right, there's a box that shows similar Evernote notes I have on the subjects I'm searching. Evernote reads PDF's, does voice to text, ...so many amazing things! Evernote really can help you remember everything, help make your info organized, in your style, extremely accessible, very smart searching! I'm a huge fan now, if you can't tell.

PS. I recently showed my friend my system. He said had never thought of the tags. He just used notes to type up where he had searched, more like writing in a journal. But after seeing how I used the tags and OCR searching power, he thought that would help him and others, so I thought I'd share. 
For more information here is Evernote's site, the page with intro videos: http://evernote.com/video/