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.

18 December 2014

Eugene Dortch cemetery slide show-Ashland, (Hanover) VA

Here's a slide show for Eugene Dortch and his wife Georgia Barnette. They were the only ones I knew in that cemetery. Eugene was known as "Uncle Pete" by his family. He was missing one hand and was a taxi driver. The picture of Eugene and Georgia is from Jamie Malogorski. I got the obits at the funeral home. Eugene and Georgia did not have any children.

24 November 2014

organizing my digital genealogy and cemetery pictures

I've taken a lot of pictures! I've also scanned many files. I've studied how professional archivists and professional photographers organized their pictures, with 10,000+ files. One problem I found, was that the typical way of storing (and default way of my computer) is lots of folders by date. But sometimes folders get stuck inside of other folders. When I first made the goal of going as folder free as possible, I found I had over 2,000 duplicate files! If one file was stored in say Jun 2009 and the same file stored in Nov 2011, the file could be duplicated and stored twice. I've been asked by a lot of people how I organize my files. I hope this post may help.

All the effective organization systems I read about, stored files by date, without folders. I had previously stored them by surname, in surname folders. Sort of a digital way of the old paper filing system. But of course surnames can overlap, causing duplicates. I found that using Windows 7, I could easily search files, so all my files could be stored in one large folder and I could still easily find a file in seconds. I started relabeling my files, and immediately started seeing some interesting things. I love seeing things by date! I see more relationships and patterns. All the 1860's files look pretty similar, just like 1980's pictures will have a similar look to them. By seeing them in order, I could for example, point out to my grandpa, "this picture was taken when you were 15, do you remember it?" And yes, he did remember, it had just been awhile since he'd seen those people. It wasn't one of his personal pictures, but he remembered it because he could associate it with his age then.

I currently have only 5 genealogy folders. (I used to have about 200 folders.) My current folders:
1) My mother's files
2) My father's files
3) My father in law's files (I'm now caretaker of those records)
4) General gen files, info that can apply to all the files, like info about record collections, notes I took at meetings etc.
5) Me & my husband - scans of: certificates, pictures, cards etc for the family we started, more current stuff

I have one other folder on my desktop, labeled "Gen scans". That's my not completely processed working file. Until I can get it ready to be archived into my "Gen files" folder into 1 of the 5 folders sub-folders. "Gen scans" where I put stuff when I borrow a collection for a week to scan. Where I still need to relabel pictures, and lastly, tombstone pictures. As I load new files into "Gen files", from that working folder of "Gen scans", I back the files up on cloud, and an external hard drive.

I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my tombstone pictures dilemma. I had each cemetery in a folder, with county and date labeled. Pictures in the order I took them. I walked in rows and was careful to note family groups. So the order I took pictures was important because it showed family relationships. These are very small rural Virginia cemeteries on old farms, or tiny churches. But I also wanted to have these files be searcheable by surname and the date. In this case, not date taken, but the death date on the tombstone, (which would not hold the order of pictures taken). My recent solution to my challenge, to do both things I wanted (date and order taken): create a slide show in the order pictures were taken. In that slide show, I have started to write the place, and date pictures were taken, which the folder name had the job of doing previously. Then, after the slide show is complete, I label the cemetery pictures just like all the other files, by the date on the record and a surname, or the whole name. If say the file is muster roll, I'd list it as "1863-07-David Dunn-muster roll-death". The year, then month, then day, holds all the records in chronological order. I have several thousand files but If I type in "David Dunn", only a couple files show up, all relevant. Bonus, the search result is only a few seconds! If I only have a year, I type just the year. If my grandma says "I know that picture was between 1940 and 1946, but that's the best I can do for a date" then I label the picture "1940s-Stowe AZ" (approximate date, surname and place).

Example of my filing system
I will start posting the cemetery files here in blog posts, then if you look on the "pages" part, far right, you'll see the "cemetery slide shows" page.

PS. My family pictures are stored the same way. I have just one folder, in "my pictures" labeled "pictures archives." They are backed up on external hard drive and cloud. As my camera and computer by default add in new folders, I routinely go through them, re-label and then archive. Then delete those new folders. Just one folder with several thousand pictures (I have the archive of all the family wedding pictures etc) and its all easily searchable.

27 October 2014

Virginia WWI questionnaires

Did you know, that in Virginia, if you served in WWI, and you survived, you were required to fill in a questionnaire? I'm told that Virginia was the only state that did this. I find it an amazing record, and I'm glad it was done. There's questions like  "What effect, if any, did your experience have on your religious belief?" Questions about opinions of being overseas. Return to civilian life questions, like: what occupation? Married? Mother, father, spouse, children? Religion? Citizen? Voter? If shell shocked? If possible a picture before and after war. (The few of my relatives, I have not seen pictures included. But a relative sent me a picture of Giles in uniform) Just an amazing amount of information, and in their handwriting!

I first found out about these records on Library of Virginia's website. (state archives). I just did a general search by several surnames, one at a time, and this database popped up with results. I was amazed that not only was it there, but I could download the images for free!
Here is an information page on LVA. It says the collection has 14,900 records!

This link takes you directly to the database of WWI questionnaires: http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/F/?func=file&file_name=find-b-clas13&local_base=CLAS13

Here is one example I got. Giles Alvin Gliborne, son of William J. Cliborne and Hester Dortch. Hester's father was Alvin Dortch. You can click on images to view full screen. Alvin filled his survey in, in 1922. Hope you can find one of your Virginia relatives in this amazing collection!

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/

13 July 2014

Very odd Danville, Virginia marriage laws

I went to Danville, VA to look for a few of my Gray's who married there. I went to the courthouse with a list of people who should have been married then. I couldn't find my people, yet, there were people getting married then. I asked in the courthouse and library and was told there were some odd marriage laws at the time. If you were a resident of Danville, you often couldn't get married in the city, people often went close by to North Carolina. Yet it wasn't as if Danville couldn't marry people. I found one couple, Frank Gray and Eula Bernard's marriage record in the courthouse. Eula lived her whole life in Danville, before marrying Frank, but Frank was not a resident. Since I saw their certificate I wondered if maybe Eula was actually in Pittsylvania county and not actually Danville, for me to find their record.

But then I was doing some searches on familysearch, and I saw a marriage record for Frank Gray and Eula married in Roanoke, VA. I was so surprised, because I found their record in Danville!

I found an article in the Danville Bee newspaper about marriage records. It was written 4 Dec 1924, around the time I was looking for marriage records. Click on images to view them larger. Thankfully a friend noticed for me, that this marriage record while in the Danville Courthouse, it does say that the marriage occurred in Roanoke. How confusing then!

12 June 2014

Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery: all names listed on monument and in book

This post concludes the pictures I took at Point Lookout, Maryland during Mar 2014. See the posts on Mar 16th and Mar 30th, for more info about the cemetery.

I went all the way around the monument. Then photographed the book at the monument. I made sure every row was represented, so the pictures overlap. They are in alphabetical order. If you wish for a picture, tell me which one and I'd be happy to send it to you. I figured not everyone lives very close to Point Lookout so I'd take pictures to share with those who couldn't travel to be there. Below are my pictures done in slide show format. I posted the slide show on you-tube, then imbedded it in my post for higher resolution. You can pause the slide show to view the images better. I took high resolution pictures (abt 17MB each). You can zoom in a lot, on individual pictures, that aren't in the slide show. You can also see quite well on the 7MB JPEGS I took.

My husband found this site. I can tell a lot  of work went into this site! It's searchable by name and has a lot of great information about Point Lookout Cemetery. http://www.plpow.com/POWDead.htm

19 May 2014

stories: familysearch-Rootech

Update 15 Aug 2014: I moved the video clip to a new section "videos" on the right column, under "pages"
I just added a little video clip into my blog. It was created for the 2014 Rootstech Conference. I couldn't get it into a post, so I put it just above the welcome message. I really liked this video, because to me, this is what family history is all about. It shows what I feel, that everyone has a story. I read recently that genealogy is names and dates, family history is the stories and pictures. So check out the little video clip, about two minutes. How many of those things do you think your family did? If you don't know, who can you ask to understand better?

I like to encourage people to upload stories and pictures to their online trees, for the benefit of other family members. Family they know, and relatives they haven't met yet. I've been working at my tree on Ancestry.com and familysearch for about 10 years. I have a lot of pictures and stories I'm trying to share with my family just a little at a time. It takes too long to thing about digitizing an entire bookshelf. But an hour each Sunday is manageable and very doable. Enjoy the video. I wish you the best at discovering your family stories!

11 May 2014

Lelia Edenbeck and Thomas B. Gray

I thought I'd post about a mother with lots of children for Mother's day. This is Lelia and Thomas Grays' wedding picture. I got this picture from Bob Caruso, who gave me permission to share. His mother, Martha Elizabeth Gray had this picture. Martha is a daughter of Lelia and Thomas.

Thomas Gray was born in Mecklenburg, VA, near the Brunswick County border. Lelia was born in Brunswick, VA. Thomas Gray was the youngest of 9 children of John Gray and Sarah Elizabeth Jones. Lelia was the daughter of Sarah Ann Tudor and Charles Edenbeck. Sarah Tudor grew up near the Grays in Mecklenburg. Sarah also had a previous marriage to Wyatt Floyd. Sarah and Wyatt had a daughter named Mattie Floyd. Wyatt died in the Civil War, in the Spotsylvania Courthouse battle, and is buried at the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery. After Wyatt died, Sarah lived with her parents awhile, then married Charles Edenbeck. So Lelia and Mattie are half sisters. Charles Gray, (Thomas' older brother), married Mattie Floyd, in 1881, in Mecklenburg, VA. Mattie and Lelia's mother Sarah Tudor died about the time that Charles and Mattie married. Lelia's father remarried and lived in Brunswick, VA. Charles and Thomas Gray's parents both died in the 1890's. The family farm went to Jimmy Kidd and his wife Nannie Gray. Jimmy Kidd went to the mill to work, to get cash save the family farm. So after John Gray and Sarah Jones died, all the children and their spouses deeded the land to Jimmy and Nannie for a small amount of money. Then all the rest of the Grays left Mecklenburg and Brunswick and moved to Danville, VA. When they first moved there, Danville  wasn't an incorporated city yet, so they show up in Pittsylvania County records, under the Danville area. (In Virginia you can't be in a city and a county at the same time. Once you enter a city, you leave the county. So when Danville became a city, they were no longer in Pittsylvania County, but in Danville city instead.)  I'm not sure if it was after Sarah Tudor died, or when the Grays all moved, that Lelia went to live with her sister Mattie Floyd Gray. Martha Gray Moseley, Louisa Gray Lynch, Charles Gray, Rebecca Dolly Gray Taylor, Frank Gray, and Thomas Gray (not married yet) and their families all traveled to Danville, VA in the mid 1890's. They are all together, some sharing the same house on the 1900 Census. Charles is in the same house as his sister Dolly and her husband in 1900.

Lelia was the mother of 13 children:
1) an infant boy, Feb 1898
2) Ethel Gertrude Gray
3)  infant Harvey James Gray 1900
4) Marvin Meachum Gray
5) Margaret Gray
6) Percy Cornela Gray
7) Thomas B Gray Jr
8) Mary Lelia Gray
9) Paul Stafford Gray
10) Catherine Ruth Gray
11) Martha Elizabeth Gray
12) Robert Edenbeck Gray
13) John Jordan Gray

Lelia was widowed in 1929, at the age of 51. She died just 14 days before she turned 100, on 20 Sep 1977. (She was born 4 Oct 1877) I'm thankful to have this picture of Lelia and Thomas. I'm the oldest of 14 children. My parents had 12 then adopted 2. People ask me what my mom is like and what she looks like. Here we can see Lelia, young and before she started the adventures of being a mom. I'm sure she saw a lot of interesting things and had some great stories to tell. She got to see farming and city life grow. From farm wagon and train rides to cars. From telegraphs and notes home to the telephone. Large families are never boring. I love being a part of a big family. I also appreciate mothers of large families for all their hard work, flexibility, inventiveness, resourcefulness, and lots of love to all their children and grandchildren.

20 April 2014

Easter and thinking about churches our ancestors attended

Today is Easter Sunday. A special Sunday when many people of the Christian faiths around the world attend church. So I thought I'd like to mention thinking about the importance of religion and family history.

What ceremonies or religious things were important to your ancestors? Most likely, because it was important, it was recorded. Either by the church, or in a family Bible or diary. Does that record still exist? If so, it would probably be a great help to you. Ask your relatives. Most religious records list parents names and/or a spouse. Religious records can really help prove the links in our tree a little better. Various rites in religions such as: Sacraments, Holy Communion, Marriage, the various terms for naming a baby.

Different religions and ethnicities have ways of doing things. Patterns. Do you know the pattern for your family? For the religion and ethnicity of your ancestors? I've spoken with several historians that work with Catholic archives in Chicago and Minneapolis. The typical pattern for a Polish Catholic family about 1900-1920 was to settle near the Great Lakes, (similar land and weather to their old home), settle in a Polish neighborhood, pick a Catholic church, then stick with it. Even if that family moved from Chicago to Gary, Indiana,.... if there was a wedding, tradition and the family pattern would say they go back to the church the bride was baptized in. Even if it is a 3-4 hour drive, the whole wedding party would drive that distance. It keeps all the records in one church. Like in Europe. I hear about my husband's Italians, that if you know the Catholic church (which we do), then you can follow the records back for hundreds of years. In Ireland, you often find that people in Northern Ireland were Church of Ireland, and southern Ireland was Catholic. But not always so. The more I read history, the more I get ideas of places to look for records.

Religion can affect where you are buried. In rural America, people were often buried on their family farms. Catholic historians have explained to me there's some pretty specific things about their burial. A Catholic priest-historian explained to me that there are Jewish women buried in their cemeteries during WWII time. If the husband claimed his wife was Catholic for her safety, then, things just happened. Other times, the church allowed them to have the ceremony at the church with family but they were buried somewhere else.  There were many mixed religion marriages during WWII.  Also, many religions used to be very against cremation, but are no longer against it today.

The majority of the marriage records I've found for my ancestors, before WWII, were performed at a church, (of many different denominations). Unless there were conflicts with different religions, then they may have chosen justice of the peace. There are two main type of marriage records. A ledger: a book listing one after the other who was married, in the courthouse. And a certificate. I was married at a church, and there is a certificate for the church, and it is also recorded on the ledger at the courthouse. The same is true for relatives I have found a hundred years ago. Usually the pastor or priest's name and sometimes the name of the church are on the certificate. Often the same records you have today for yourself, also existed 100 years ago.(click on images to view full screen)

John Gray married in Church of Ireland in
1835. There obviously is no Church of Ireland in Mecklenburg, Virginia. I was given a transcription of several Methodist churches in Mecklenburg in the 1850's. A large part of my Mecklenburg, VA families, including John Gray attended Rehoboth Methodist church. My guess is John Gray switched to or rather joined the Methodist church because there was no Church of Ireland, and because his second wife was a member of this church. One of his children has a tombstone at this church, Nannie Gray Kidd. This church, Rehoboth, stood the time John Gray was there until a fire on at Christmas 2004. It is now rebuilt.
Here is an example of the other kind of marriage record:
Perkinson Dortch left half

Perkinson Dortch right half

Do you know what churches your family attended? If so, do you know if they are buried at that church? Or on their family farm, if they owned land? 

12 April 2014

Point Lookout Confederate Memorial Park (all southern states included)

I took a lot of pictures, so I thought the best way to share this was in a slide show. There is no sound. It is a standard setting, the picturing moving every 4 seconds. You can pause this. I have high resolution pictures of all of these pictures that can be zoomed in with still excellent resolution. So if you see a relative on a brick and would like a copy of a picture I took, I'd be happy to email you a copy of the picture. My first time posting this, blogger compressed it too much to read anything. So I posted this to you tube, then attached it to this post. At first I was just going to take Mecklenburg and Brunswick Virginia pictures, then I thought I'd take all the pictures, for those not close by. So all states and all names are represented in this slide show.

The first day, it was rainy and hard to see. None of the "In the Pen" pictures turned out, which are the story of a Point Lookout POW, one per state. I tried several times for each state. Some turned out the second day, March 8th. I'm sure the stories are posted somewhere else too. My goal with these pictures was to let others see what the monument looked like, what all was there, and then get all the names on the bricks to share with those looking for info about Confederate ancestors. One thing I thought was neat, is it listed survivors too. It's really a memorial about the people who were there, not just that died there. The monument for those who died, is the cemetery, just through the small band of trees. The trees were still bare, so I could see this monument through the trees, while I was at the cemetery. My next posting will be a slide show of the cemetery and ALL the names there. Run time 3:44 (at 4 seconds per slide)

30 March 2014

Point Lookout- Where the Prison and cemtery was during the war

I took these pictures on a cold, rainy, overcast (rather dark) day. There were prisoners there on cold rainy days too. Many prisoners from North Carolina and Virginia were there who could see the Virginia coast. The prison and cemetery were in the areas I took these pictures. You can see all the standing water, and why the cemetery had to be moved. Then soil erosion, loosing the coast line, and more standing water cased another move.
Here is a lithograph link to show where things used to be: http://www.mdhs.org/digitalimage/point-lookout-maryland
Now, near the tip of the land, it is barely big enough for the road. There was a lighthouse then too. Click to view the pictures full screen. So these pictures are taken where you see the circle of hospital buildings. Park service told me the first burials were right outside the hospital. These pictures were taken 7 Mar 2014.

16 March 2014

Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery

Last weekend, I went to see Point Lookout. I have a lot of Ancestors from VA and NC, who of course would have been Confederate. Many of them spent some time in Point Lookout, and close to 4,000 men didn't make it out alive. Point Lookout was the really bad notorious prison for Confederates suffering, as Andersonville was for Union. As I stood on the coast at Point Lookout, I could see Virginia, which had to be an extra torture for the inmates, so close to home, separated by a mere few miles; but it was water, and heavily guarded.

I took many pictures, of both monuments, and the area. I took pictures of all the names there, at two monuments. So this will be the subject of my next few posts. I also added a tab under pages/pictures so that after this post isn't visible, the pictures will be easily accessible.

Here is a muster roll picture showing my ancestor Alvy Dortch. He was only 17 years old in Point Lookout, already orphaned. He did make it out alive, later married, had 11 children, and raised two grandchildren. (Image downloaded from Fold3.) Click on images to view full screen.
Alvy Dortch muster roll-Point Lookout prisoner
I was surprised that there were no tombstones for the cemetery. I was told by the Park Service that the cemetery had to be moved twice, because of water and loosing land to erosion. The first place prisoners were buried was right outside the hospital. Which was by the hospital, right near the lighthouse. I was there after rain, and there was standing water every where. Over 300 yards of coast have eroded from storms since the war. The Park Service said this monument was only one of two paid for by the Federal Government, for the Confederacy. All other Confederate Cemeteries, markers etc have been privately funded, which I did know. So it was interesting that Point Lookout was paid for by US "Northern" money, and am curious now what the other place is. Here is the monument which is actually also the cemetery, a mass grave:
Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery

At the base of the monument, all the names and unit are inscribed. Here is an example.  Fletcher Floyd and Elizabeth Mathis had several sons join the confederacy. They lived awhile in Brunswick, VA, then Warren, NC. Wyatt Floyd died at the Spotsylvania courthouse battle and I have his tombstone picture. His daughter Mattie Floyd married Charles Gray. Fletcher Floyd had another son Charles Floyd who died at Point Lookout. Here is his name on the monument: 
Charles Floyd Point Lookout
I found another person I believe to be related on another side of my family. WLStowe. Here is his name on the wall, and the notation on his muster roll showing he died at Point Lookout. Next week I will post about the privately funded memorial close by, with the pictures I took of it.
WL Stowe Point Lookout

01 March 2014

Fairs, announcements and great new things coming soon with digitizing projects!

I missed my goal last weekend of doing weekly posts. I was busy preparing for today's local family history fair, practicing my presentation, and a trip to Library of Virginia. Today was a wonderful day! Next time, I'll post on here ahead of time about it. It was a huge success, so another will be done next year. Enormous amounts of preparation went into this. The committee was amazing! I was happy to be a speaker, and enjoyed sitting in the lunch room with the guests from LVA, UVA and locals like me, with varying subject interests. The thought for the fair, was that not everyone could travel to Utah for the Rootstech conferences. This was to make similar types of info available locally. Here is the link to the page for the Fredericksburg, VA fair we had today: http://fredvafamilyhistoryday.com/

Another thing that I have gotten emails and seen presentations about, is joint partnerships with familysearch and Ancestry.com. Whenever familysearch signs a contract, they say the index must always remain free. Indexers before familysearch, did the 1880 Census index and Ellis Island manifest. Those records are of course still free, years later, as the original agreement was made. The numbers of indexers and the rate projects are being digitized and accessible online is really mind boggling. But the familysearch team has bigger, higher goals than even I can fully comprehend. Check out this goal to digitize 70 billion records worldwide! Even with all the amazing volunteer work, at the rate projects are going now, it would take 250-300 years to index. With the new partnership of familysearch, heritage quest, Ancestry.com, Find my past,etc...all the collaborative effort, the records will be accessible in 25-30 years as opposed to 250-300 years. How amazing! Here is the infographic: https://familysearch.org/node/2520 Here is more detailed description, about the partnerships and picture: https://familysearch.org/node/2523

I wanted to find some official statements, not emails and presentations I've seen. There were announcements in Sep 2013 and at Rootstech in Feb 2014. Here is a link to familysearch.org about the partnership in Sep, making 1 billion records available in 5 years: https://familysearch.org/blog/en/familysearch-ancestrycom-working-records-online/
Here is the familysearch Feb info discussed at Rootstech: https://familysearch.org/blog/en/details-free-account-access-familysearch-partner-websites/
Here is the Sep announcement from Ancestry.com's page:
Eastman also wrote about this too, (back in Sept) on his blog.

15 February 2014

Newman Dortch's deposition in 1824, Mecklenburg, VA

This chancery is about Rebecca Dortch Taylor being unable to pay debts. This is one of the depositions, of the most interest to me, because it is my gr...grandfather Newman Dortch being interviewed.  Here are some important things for me in this deposition: Newman was testifying about his sister, Rebecca Dortch, who married David Taylor. I knew David and Rebecca had a daughter named Rebecca Taylor who married Lewis Poythress. But this chancery case also shows Edmund Taylor saying "my mother", Rebecca (Dortch) Taylor. Even though Taylor is a very common name, I could only find one record mentioning an Edmund Taylor besides this chancery in Mecklenburg/Brunswick area, and that is a marriage of Edmund Taylor to  Mahala Crowder 9 Dec 1811. I highlighted other things that helped me. A reference to Newman's fathers estate, and reference and dates of him working as a clerk of the court. 
Here's Newman's signature after the Deposition: 

Deposition of Newman Dortch- Taken Friday 1 Oct 1824
The deposition of Newman Dortch of lawful age taken at the store of Charles Baskerville & brothers in the County of Mecklenburg on Friday the first day of October 1824. To be read as evidence in a suit in chancery now depending in the county court aforesaid wherein Edmund Taylor Adm of Rebecca Taylor died, formerly Rebecca Dortch are plaintiffs and Charles Baskerville & George Baskerville admin of David Dortch deceased who was Executor of David Dortch the Elder are being defendants being duly sworn deposeth and saith-
That he after the death of David Dortch his father, understood from his mother Lucy Dortch also deceased that the 50 pounds legacies left in the will of the said David Dortch (the Elder) was done with adieu (?) to cert. (the several legateez to whom the said fifty pound legacies were bequeath) and from any further proportion on his estate-having before the date of the said will given and delivered over to some of these this respective proportions in negroes; to wit Noah Dortch, Rebecca Taylor & Hillica Moss, = Lucy Dortch, now Lucy Ryland to the least of this deponents recollection were given her by the will together with the fifty pounds- land of which will be more fully seen by a reference to the said will- That this deponent while he wrote in the clerk office had after sealed those legacies by the scale of deprecation and to the last of his present recollection the scale at the date of the said will was seventy five for one or thereabouts- That a suit was instituted by Jessie Dortch one of the legateez of said David Dortch the older against David Dortch the younger in the said county of Mecklenburg and a decree entered in his favour about the year of 1802, in which decision the court sealed the said legaceez and entered a decree in his favour for the one twelfth part of the remaining part of the remaining part of the estate- the answer of the said David Dortch Excr having set forth those legacies for his own safety and which answer being drawn by George Craghead Esq of Lunenburg reference being had to the said last will fully appear-
That he this deponent has after heard David Dortch the Executer of his father say that David Taylor who was the husband of said Rebecca had purchased to a large amount at the sale of his father’s estate & his deponent thirty L. 150 for which he held said Taylor bond or bond & could not get payment and should have to loose the amount as he had held up the bond or bonds to favour him tell said Taylor who together with the security had become insolvent- That the said David Taylor died leaving the said Rebecca in loss and pecuniary circumstances, -the he often heard this David Dortch say he had to aid and assist her to keep her from suffering- said that he had assisted her to the last of this deponents recollection with a Negro girl to aid & assist her-the contracts of which statement this deponent has no right to doubt. –

Question by defendants- Were you not one of the twelve legatees mentioned in the above decree Jessie Dortch apt said David Dortch Exr ?
Answer- Yes- I have long since received of said Exr my proportion of said decree
Question by same- Do you not know that David Taylor was insolvent some time previous to his death- And had this pecuniary difficulty are such as to regrence any thing that might be due to him from the said David Dortch as Exr aforesaid ?
Answer:  I believe & have no doubt that they were as seen pretty certain that several executors were returned against him by the sheriff “no effects aforesaid paid (?)” This deponent being appointed on deputy clerk from Nov 1791 to Nov 1793 after which he acted in capacity of assistant Sheriff for several years.
Question by Plaintiff-  Do you not know that these were a legacy due to my mother Rebecca Taylor (Question would be by Edmund Taylor)  from the said estate of David Dortch Sen. deceased of whom David Dortch  Adm the deft. was the Exr.
Answer: I know of no legacy or money due from the said Dortch only such as appears by the papers concerning said estate. The said David Dortch Exr having often said that said Taylor was indebted to him as Executor aforesaid which by his surety (?)  to said Taylor he should loose- And this deponent believes constitutes a part of the court placed on the administrator amount of the testators estate as settled & reported by the commissioner , appointed for that purpose-
Question by defendants- Was not the said David Dortch at all times and at all times able & solvent to pay any debts or legacees due from him in dep___ of executional bond?
Answer- The said David Dortch was at all times able as his estate since his death sufficiently testifies- and further this agreement saith not only that the said suit Jesse Dortch against David Dortch Exr he always understood from the parties was brought for the purpose of legally settling the point of the fifty pounds legaseez & not from the unwillingness to settle the sum-lawfully with the parties concerned.-
Nm Dortch
Mecklenburg County Court
Sworn to & _entered by and before us justices of the peace for the said county by the above named by Newman Dortch this day and year aforesaid.
                                                                                    Thomas Taylor JP
                                                                                    EH Pute JP

Newman Dortch Deposition
Returned and presented in seal the 9th Oct 1824

05 February 2014

Cleaton family cemetey- Mecklenburg, VA

In Feb 2011, a lady named Betty asked me if I knew about a Cleaton cemetery in Mecklenburg, VA. The few Cleaton families I knew about lived in Marengo, Blackridge and Bracey areas. Which is where a lot of my family is from, and where I search for cemeteries. So far, the ones I have found, have been the result of collaborative efforts. Many of the cemeteries are way off the road and back in the trees. If long forgotten, like another one that I'm looking for, the trail gets covered and growth so thick, you can't get to it without a lot of help. I asked Betty if she could tell me anything about it. I quote these 3 sentences: 
"My granddaddy and my grandma are buried in the Cleaton family cemetery and so is my uncle Richard Wesley. All I can remember is that this cemetery was out in the middle of the woods of course. I was only ten years old at the time."

I asked everyone I know that knows about cemeteries in the area and no one had heard of a Cleaton cemetery. So I thought, why not do a query on my blog?
If you might have an idea of where this could be or know someone I can talk to about getting to a little family cemetery in these areas (even if not the Cleaton one), please let me know by email. And I'll talk with them about seeing it and taking pictures to share and archive.