Welcome!

Welcome!
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.

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.

18 July 2016

The Newman and Steagall families

Martha Newman was married to James B. Jones. That was as far back as I knew, for a long time. Then on FamilySearch, I discovered Martha's death record. It listed her spouse James and parents: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRM2-LYX?from=lynx1 Abner and Delilah Newman. I was surprised to see it said she was born in Orange County, Virginia. That seemed pretty far away to me, about a 3 hour drive by car. And this was about 110 years ago before cars! After awhile of searching, I found her father Abner Newman was in Mecklenburg for the War of 1812. He was listed as an Ensign, for the 98th Regiment. Then I found Abner and Delilah's marriage record 8 May 1792 in Brunswick. So I figured the Orange County notation had to be a mistake. Partly, I was thinking very limited, because several people I talked with never left the area, or traveled more than a few miles from their house.

I was talking with a genealogist friend who knows the Fredericksburg, Orange area very well. He's also from Mecklenburg. He pointed out that the Newmans and Steagalls had money, so it was highly likely they had the money for a coach and traveled. He also told me there were Indian trading routes that went from Orange to Mecklenburg area, so it is likely. He gave me the example of the Washington's and how spread out through Virginia their family was, yet they did visit each other. I found an Occaneechi trail went from Petersburg through Mecklenburg and Brunswick.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tqpeiffer/Documents
But I haven't yet found a map from Orange to Mecklenburg, even though it is a pretty straight line on a map.The current highway 15 looks like it goes from Orange to Mecklenburg, but that's to Clarksburg, the other side of the county than my family was at. My family bordered Mecklenburg and Brunswick Counties. After I updated the Newman stuff in my tree on ancestry.com, someone from Parthenia Newman's family sent me a link to this amazing family Bible-like record for Abner Newman and Dorothy Delilah Steagalls children which were:
1) Martha Newman married James B. Jones
2) Nancy Newman married George Newman (Orange)
3) Emily/Emma Newman married Edward Walker
4) Varinda Newman married David Walker
5) * Parthenia Newman married Freeman Walker
6) Elizabeth Newman married William Harwell
7) William Newman

This link shows a scanned image of the papers: Freeman Walker family records @ LVA    Interestingly from a chancery case, I learned Nancy Newman married a cousin and they lived in Orange, Virginia.

(More soon on the Steagall family and the chancery cases I found.)

30 May 2016

How to get more Virginia records available

The more people who help index and transcribe records, the faster we can get the records we are looking for, searchable in a database.

On 25 Jun 2016, the Library of Virginia is having a "Transcribe-a-thon". For more info, here's a link to their June events: LVA calendar page-click here

I really love searching on FamilySearch. It's free, nice filters, and a great database. Here's a short video clip to explain indexing. I really like that the pictures and stories go with records. Several recently released Virginia collections were from FamilySearch indexing volunteers. I don't have nearly as much time as I like, and sometimes I have trouble typing with my hand weakness. But I try to help with indexing when I can, because I feel its really important. Hope you enjoy this video clip, and hope you can volunteer to help index or transcribe more Virginia records.


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.

31 January 2016

videos, getting reformatted

I just discovered the slide shows I created for cemeteries aren't visible. If I click on edit, they are there. I will be working on reformatting the files over the next two weeks.
-Julie

24 January 2016

How can DNA testing help with my family research? My testing

I'm still really new at DNA research. I'm trying to learn all I can about it. I read articles, take DNA classes at genealogy conferences, bought a book, etc. I wondered, how can I apply it, and use it as a source for my personal ancestry? The more I read, the more questions I have. (A good thing.) Really, I find it all a completely fascinating concept. I've messaged with several people on Ancestry.com, 23andme (including My Heritage) and gedmatch.com who have the highest matches to me. Sometime I send messages. Sometimes others see I'm a match and message me. I plan to take DNA tests at multiple places. Just doing a little at a time. A lot of my highest match results, we connect 150-250 years ago! (And my family had 6 generations in 100 years!) For some of my family that's pre-USA time period, still mostly unknown areas for me.  Thankfully, most the people I message with have our families documented well enough that we can see where we match up. Others newer to family history, don't know enough yet to make connections. But the match is still there to keep in mind until newer and better sources arise.

I've had two interesting emails about DNA matches this week that I wanted to share. One lady told me her ancestor was Jeremiah Jones, and that he was supposed to be part of my family in Mecklenburg, VA. She said she'd seen lots of trees reflect this, but no sources listed. They just referenced eachother's trees. She saw I had sources listed, but not her Jeremiah. So she asked me what I knew about it. We concluded that her Jones family was not part of my Jones family. I had court documents stating those relationships, and who all the heirs were. Unfortunately I hadn't heard of her Jeremiah, so I wasn't able to tell her which family to look at. I added my info to gedmatch.com earlier this month. I gave her my DNA match number, and she checked it against her mother and her aunt. No matches at all! So DNA was able to back up that our families did not match. I hope it will soon help her identify the correct family.

George & Arthur Stowe. Sarah, Lucy Long, Violetta Stowe
My second story I think is really amazing. It's about my elusive Sarah. She was Cherokee. (See picture to the right. Clicking on it will enlarge it.) In this picture my ancestry is George Stowe, (far left), his mother Lucy Long, and her mother Sarah Jamison or Jempson. (George Stowe, was married to Fannie Gray, my Mecklenburg, VA ancestor pictured in the heading of this blog.) We know Sarah was first married to David Dunn and had 3 children (Nancy, James and infant). The youngest child died as an infant a year before David died in the battle of Chancellorsville, VA not too far from where I live now. Sarah then was supposed to have married a Jimmy or Billy Long. Sarah and the unknown Mr. Long had Lucy and a baby named Emmett who died soon after birth. For decades we wondered "who was Lucy's father?" About two years ago, a Long researcher told me, "I think Lucy's father is James Randolph Long, who is also my ancestor." We compared notes for several weeks. James Long married Catherine Havener and they had 10 children together. One of James and Catherine's children named William Long (Billy), married Nancy Dunn. (The daughter from Sarah's first marriage.) Another of James and Catherine's children named Wallace Long, married Matilda Adeline Dunn, a sister to David Dunn. (Sarah's first husband). A bit confusing, but it shows a lot of connection between this Dunn and Long family. My Sarah was listed in Matilda Dunn Long's family Bible with David Dunn and their 3 children. We kept searching for some good proof, because we wanted to make sure the relationships were all in our tree correctly, and because the 1870 Census had confusing and conflicting information. James and Catherine Long also had a daughter named Barbara Long Rhyne. She married (Rhyne), but did not have any children. In her estate record, she listed all of her siblings and included Lucy. Nancy Dunn was a sister in law and half sibling to Barbara, but she had already died. James Dunn, (Nancy's brother and Lucy's half brother) was not listed as a sibling to Barbara. James went to Texas with several of his grown and married children from his marriage to Catherine. Sarah and Lucy stayed behind. James died soon after his arrival to Texas. 

We were feeling pretty confident in our little pieces of evidence all getting put together. Recently 5 of us who believed ourselves to be descendants of James R. Long, all did DNA tests with 3 different companies. Someone recommended we all put our DNA info into gedmatch.com and compare. We all did, and discovered this weekend we all matched! Descendants from 2 of James and Catherine's children, and 2 of us from Lucy (from 2 different marriages of Lucy) all matched. I thought this was really cool that we were able to back up what we had researched. Those of us who tested, did not have Dunn DNA ancestry, (only connections by marriages) so our matches would have been through the James Long family. I read a few emails today, about surname studies, including one set up for James Long. That's my project goal for this week.

I told my grandparents about this yesterday. They were really excited at the possibilities with DNA. They said they really want to get Y-DNA testing done for my grandfather. He's already done the regular Ancestry.com test. My grandfather is half Polish. His father Paul was born in Chicago. Paul's oldest sibling was born in Zywiec, Poland, just before the family immigrated to the United States. There are a number of people who have told me think they are related to our family. Same place, records in same church, same rare surname, ...I was born about 56 years after flu epidemic family separations, and 36 years after the invasion of Poland. I think the majority of the people who could have answered my questions about ancestry didn't survive the flu epidemic of 1918, or were separated in WWII, and we're still not able to reconnect. I think there's really great potential for my grandfather to find out more about his Polish (Sanetra and Wandzel) ancestry this way.

My conclusion? DNA can be an extremely useful tool, and used as a source to corroborate other records we find. There's lots to continuously learn about, and I look forward to future findings!

17 January 2016

DAR records, online

I've heard rumors over the years that my Dortch ancestors from Mecklenburg, VA were Revolutionary War soldiers. So far, I have only seen Able Dortch served, a much older sibling of Newman Dortch. Conflicting reports state he was born in various years, but it appears he would have been a young soldier. He moved on to Illinois, while the rest of that generation, as well as Newman Dortch's descendants remained in Mecklenburg for generations. One thing that seems to often coincide with people who served, is that they moved. They got land as the bulk of their payment for serving.

I attended my local historical society meeting last week, FRGS (Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society), and thoroughly enjoyed a presentation on DAR records. The presentation was from a librarian who works there. I have searched FamilySearch, Fold3, and Ancestry.com for DAR information but have not found any ancestors there. A big thing that I learned at my meeting is that no one group has all the records. There are a lot of things being digitized and put on the DAR website, that aren't on any other site or collection. If I remember right there were 3 sets of Bible records within the DAR library. They also have an old cemetery collection, many of which aren't visible any more, or were moved to make way for interstate highways. I'm looking forward to visiting the library and searching through that collection. As soon as I got home, I checked the DAR site right away. http://www.dar.org/

No Newman or David Dortch. Then I thought about it, thinking if Newman Dortch was in the War of 1812, he probably wasn't old enough the Revolutionary War. I checked my dates and he would have only been a toddler during the Revolutionary War, even though his older brother Abel was a soldier. His father would have been too old, being about 50 years old. My father's side of the family immigrated during the westward expansion time of the 1860-1870's. But my mother's side was mostly here during colonial days. I checked my files and found 8 men, direct gr....grandfathers who would have  been the right age to serve. There were 5 others who I knew were here, but not enough information. Then I went back to search the DAR site and within 5 minutes found 3 of my ancestors in this database. Hooray! Next step, as I was advised, is to meet with my local chapter who will help me apply. Then I'll see what more I can find on my earlier Virginia guys.