I realized quickly that I’d have to “think outside the box” to learn about my ancestors. I LOVE to interview people, and listen to stories about "the older days" when life seemed a little slower and simpler. I study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try to help preserve memories people share with me. This blog is ad free, so it's easier to focus on sharing stories. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join the FaceBook group. Even if we aren't related by DNA, I'd still love to hear about your research efforts and family stories. I am interested in posting (to this blog) stories relevant to the Mecklenburg-Brunswick families.

26 August 2012

Found Frank Gray's farm in Brunswick county

Frank Gray (cropped from larger picture)-1904

I have never had an obituary and a death certificate and still not know where a person was buried! Frank Gray's obituary says, "he is buried near here." It was printed in the Alberta Times. The death certificate says "farm near Alberta." The vagueness frustrated me, to say the least! How big an area in Brunswick county should I search? I've made several visits, with no results. I found the Jones cemetery on an old USGS map that doesn't have pictures yet on the Brunswick Cemetery website. http://www.brunswickcemeteries.org/HTML/jones.htm When I looked at the 1940 Census and found Frank Gray's address, I went to look at a USGS map then to look for close by cemeteries. Right where I plotted where I thought Frank should live, I saw the Jones Cemetery. I found it on current day Google map, only it looked like the road leading back to the cemetery was now missing. The USGS map was 1940 or 1950. Frank Gray was listed as owning his land. My plan was to go to the courthouse, double check that where this Jones cemetery was, was actually the place Frank owned his farm, then pull back the brush, hope it was more than field stones and take the pictures. It was the only cemetery close by on the map, Frank's mother was a Jones, even though it was a little out of the area for our Jones than I would expect. I brought clippers, rake, leather gloves and a little hand broom. But of course it would not be THAT easy!

My friend Hobson Scott Wright met me at the courthouse to help. He too is related to the Grays, through Frank's oldest sibling Martha, who married William H. Moseley. It turns out I was less than a mile off, which isn't too bad checking out a map and census page. I still wanted to know more about that cemetery. So we decided to try to see what we could see.

We found out about Frank Gray's farm through deeds: Edward Elmore bough the farm in 1870. Edward sold the land to Anderson and HV Elmore, who sold land to Frank Gray in Nov 1913. We found that a 21.52 acre piece of Frank's land was sold off (or maybe given away?) in March 1924 to Hazel Jeffries Yancy, who was Frank and Eula's daughter. Technically, Frank's step daughter, from Eula's first marriage to AM Jeffries. Also 66.7 acres to an EC Johnson, whom I've never heard of. Frank Gray died in 1941. In 1943, the remaining land was sold to JC Williams, which was 211.78 acres. There was a little piece left, about 15 acres, probably enough for the cemetery, access roads etc, not sold to JC Williams as the main part of the farm. We saw a deed of trust in 1943 on the property, right when JC Williams bought the property. It said it was "bordered on the north by Stanley Flinn; on the east by Robert Flinn; on the south by EC Johnson; (piece Frank Gray sold off while living); on the right by Virginia Raulway (should it say Railway?); on the west by RB Betterton deceased, RH James and others."  There was a special condition made when Frank Gray bought the land, that Elmore descendants could continue being buried on the family cemetery. Here is the link to that cemetery, which will show where the farm is:  http://www.brunswickcemeteries.org/HTML/elmore.htm#3

We went to the edge of where the Jones cemetery entrance was.  No one around could tell us where it was, no road was visible, it was a huge jungle, going a mile back into that just wasn't possible. Going to the edge of the Gray farm area wasn't much better. I couldn't even see anyone to ask permission for, and there were "keep out" signs. I met a family by Bethel Methodist church in Alberta. I was so happy that they knew Hazel, knew her daughter and told me how to reach her! He also told me he and an Elmore descendant had just used a Bobcat to clear out the cemetery. I'm told the area hadn't been cleared in a few decades. He said he could get me on the Gray farm (introduce me to the owners), and he had been to the Jones cemetery. He said the Jones cemetery was covered by a good 3 feet thick of brush and vegetation but it was still there if you knew where to look for it and he did. He said there were a number of tombstones at the Jones cemetery.

So I still don't know for sure where Frank Gray was buried. It would make the most sense he would be buried on his farm. But that is an Elmore cemetery, so I'm not completely sure. The Elmore cemetery wasn't on the USGS map. The mapmakers probably didn't see it, because reports listed it overgrown back then too. I'm going back in the winter to have this family take me to see both cemeteries and hopefully meet and talk to the owners to learn more about the cemeteries. Glad I found where the farm is, but the search to confirm where Frank was buried, and to learn more about his family still goes on!

12 August 2012

Valentine Purdy was actually Valentine Livingston

I just had a big surprise this month (big to me). Valentine Purdy wasn't really a Purdy, but rather a Livingston. My family: John Gray, his wife Ann Purdy, their daughter Elizabeth Gray, and Nicholas Purdy's family traveled together, arriving in America 27 Jul 1838. I had believed that Nicholas' family consisted of himself born about 1791, Martha 1808, Valentine 1828, Eliza Sep 1831, James 1835, and Caroline 14 May 1836. (Thomas was born in the United States in 1842.) Everyone with Nicholas was listed as Purdy on the ship manifest. John Gray and Nicholas Purdy were from Seagoe, Armagh, Ireland. My friend Hobson Scott Wright went to Ireland last year and found the marriage record for John Gray and Ann Purdy as well as the baptismal record for Eliza Purdy the daughter of Nicholas and Martha Purdy, baptized in the Church of Ireland on 25 Sep 1831.

On the Ship registry, Valentine is listed as Valentine Purdy and appears to be Nicholas' son. Then I assumed the same for the 1840 Census. But the 1840 Census also just asks for people in the house free, who are that age. By the 1850 Census, the Purdy's are still in Mecklenburg, VA but Valentine was gone. I assumed he had died. But the 1850 Census is the last we could find of Nicholas and his family. Until someone from Caroline's family (Alexandra Genetti) found me. Turns Caroline went west. She married Ellis Bond Egger and had several children, one of which she named Valentine Livingston Egger. We figured the Valentine part must be after her older brother. Caroline lived awhile in Mississippi, then settled in Texas.

My friend Hobson Scott Wright told me he found some information to show Valentine was not really a Purdy, he just traveled with Nicholas Purdy's family. He would have left Ireland at age 10 and traveled with Nicholas Purdy and my family, John Gray and Ann Purdy. Nicholas Purdy was entrusted with Valentine's education when he was 4 years old, in 1831, in Ireland, the year
Nicholas' daughter Eliza Purdy was born and baptized. Here is that information my friend found:

Mecklenburg, Virginia, Deed Book 30, p. 555
Nicholas Joyce to Nicholas Purdy, Tr., Deed of Trust
[summary] On 4 October 1843, Nicholas Purdy entered into a deed of trust with Nicholas Joyce. This deed was secured by 150 acres of land, crop, and other household goods.  Mentions a number of creditors and debts including a debt incurred in 1831 in which the deed states “I received in Ir[e]land 30 pounds sterling belonging to Valentine Livingston an infant of 4 years for the purpose of raising and schooling or as much thereof necessary.”
Turns out Valentine followed the same path Caroline did; maybe he traveled with her? In 1850 he was in Yalobusha, Mississippi as an overseer, single. In 1860 he was in Burleson, Texas where he spent the remainder of his days. He is on tax lists there until 1869. On the 1870 Census his wife is listed as a widow. From the children's death certificates, I see that Valentine married Sarah Jane Lawrence who was born in Alabama. They married about 1851, since he was single on the 1850 census and their first child was born in 1852. Valentine and Sarah had 6 children: 
  • 1) William A. Livingston born Sept 1852 Mississippi
  • 2) James Thomas Livingston born 1854 Mississippi, married Amanda Catherine Dobbs who died before 1900. He also had a 2nd marriage. 
  • 3) Mary F. Livingston born 21 Nov 1855 Texas, (died 13 Sep 1930) married Virgil R. Dobbs (1852-1906)
  • 4) Martha Jane Livingston born 14 Feb 1861 Texas, married name Luckett, died 18 Jul 1933
  • 5) Amanda Jeanette Livingston born Mar 1864, married name Grady, died 9 Jun 1927
  • 6) Albert Valentine Livingston born 28 Mar 1867, died 22 Feb 1948
After Valentine died, his wife married a man named James M. Draper with several children. James and Sarah had a few children together by the 1880 Census: Mattie, David and Isaac Draper.  

If you know more about Valentine or these Livingstons, Grays or Purdy's I'd LOVE to hear from you! We know so little. We don't know all the the connections. We don't know Nicholas' wife's name, or who Valentine's parents are.  I can tell you that in Ireland, Nicholas Purdy rented land, and could vote but John Gray did not, he was a linen weaver. We also know that in 1837, a huge depression started in Armagh because Americans just stopped buying linen, Armagh's biggest export. Renters like Nicholas Purdy would be in huge debt to the landowners never making a profit, so America did hold more promise of a better economic future for them. I can also tell you Nicholas and John Gray are on records in Seagoe, Armagh, Ireland, and that Nicholas is much easier to find than John Gray. But we have found if we look for Nicholas Purdy, my John Gray is usually close by.