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.

09 March 2016

Martha Newman married James B. Jones

There's been some confusion over the years regarding Martha's maiden name. The one married to James B. Jones with children living in the Bracey, Blackridge and Ebony areas. Martha had 15 children she raised to adulthood. That's an amazing thing today, but in her time period it's extra amazing to me!! Martha lived from 1804 to 1870. Some people thought Martha's maiden name was Reid. There was a Martha Reid who married a James Jones in Brunswick, VA. But my gr...grandfather, he is notated with his middle initial as James B. Jones. He lived his whole life near Nelly Jones Rd and  Blackridge Rd, in the area of Rehoboth Methodist church. The family Bible didn't say Martha's maiden name. I met with some descendants of Nannie Gray Kidd who told me their family knew Martha's maiden name was Newman. I found Martha's death record on FamilySearch.org. It said she was married to James B. Jones and that her parents were Abner and Delilah Newman. I have since discovered that her mother was Dorothy Steagall, probably with Delilah as a middle name. Martha Newman and James B. Jones were married in Warren, NC 27 Sep 1821. I have recently learned from two chanceries that Martha Newman had several siblings: Elizabeth, Varinda, Parthenia, William, Nancy Anne and Emma. (More on that in a future blog post.)

I found a death record this week, for of one of James B. Jones and Martha Newman's children, Anna. Another Jones relative told me it existed and was available in the new Virginia vital records collections. So I went to find it. Anna married William Lewis Poythress. Her death record states that her mother's maiden name is Newman. (Image in this post) Anna's death record also says she's buried near Blackridge, VA. A number of her descendants are buried at Rehoboth church. So could she be buried there? Or is there a Jones homestead that she and the siblings were buried at?  I've only been able to find the burial place of one of Martha and James children, which is their youngest, James Newman Jones. He's buried at Rehoboth church. I'll keep searching for the answers to these questions.

20 February 2016

Looking for Curtiss A. Williams family

Emily Hambrick posted this message in my guestbook in Nov 2015. If you can help her please message or email me. Thanks, Julie Cabitto
"I am looking specifically for information on Curtiss A. Williams. I am trying to hunt down any living family members to share a box of love letters he sent my grandmother. Any information would be wonderful."

19 February 2016

Mecklenburg FaceBook group, a partner with this blog

I realized that a lot of the younger people that I know or are related to, don't read blogs very much, they are spending time on facebook. I find more family history researchers on Google+. In efforts to share with more people (and find more Mecklenburg researchers), I started this group on facebook. It is closed (safety), but not secret, so you can find it here if you'd like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MecklenburgVAGen/ 
I started out with taking smaller versions of my blog posts and posting them in the facebook group. My idea was to mostly post a picture and tell a little about it. Small pieces for people to digest. So family could see a cool picture, but not get information overload if they aren't that interested in family history. My health has grudgingly made it harder for me to type up the many ideas in my head and share them. 

Apparently, there was another bigger group, open to the public. It kept getting spammed so much that the admin recently shut it down. It was called Mecklenburg County, my group is without the word county, and has the cool tobacco barn at the top. A number of people asked to join my group after the other page closed down. And then this great thing started happening. People who are strangers to me started posting pictures and telling about their family in Mecklenburg. I'm really happy about this. It's exactly what I've been wanting!!! Now it feels like the group is getting off the ground. I really don't like to be the only one talking, I prefer to hear what others have to say. Even if I'm not related to them, hearing their gives me ideas, and still gives me a feel for the history of the county. I hope more people will join, and share their pictures and stories. Then I can just admin, enjoy others posts, and do notes about my blog posts here. There are now some people in the group that their families have been there since early days. So I think we can start asking questions and helping each other out with ideas too. I will also start asking some people if they are willing to share their same stories and pictures in posts here, credited to them, as guest blog posts. I think doing the blog and facebook group can be really helpful for people from Mecklenburg.