Treasure Chest Thursday: Destination, West!

While in the Portland, Ore., area for the AIIP11 conference, I visited Powell’s Books. I usually hit the local interest section of a bookstore when I’m traveling because you can find great mementos there. I had another motive on this trip since I have a family mystery involving Oregon — back in the early 1900s, my great-great grandfather Joseph Smith Hayes moved his entire family, including seven children, from East Tennessee to Umatilla, Oregon. I found them there in the 1910 census. By 1920, the entire family was back in East Tennessee. I was looking for local history books that might explain why my ancestors made such a move (and then had to move back).

I found and purchased a book on the Oregon Trail. It might not even be related to my family’s journey, but it looked like a good read. I’m also drawn to old books and I found a doozy:

Destination, West! by Agnes Ruth Sengstacken.

This book drew me in because it still had the original cover. When I opened it, I was in for a treat:

A letter from the author to the book’s one-time owner! Here is page two:

Here is a transcription of the letter:

ARS

Stockton, California.
January 19th, 1944.

My dear Mrs. Mccully;-

It is always a pleasure to me to hear from someone who has read my book and has found some interest or enjoyment in it. It is a very simple little story, simply told, but it has the merit of being true. I believe that this is the first published account of a woman’s trip across the plains, told in detaul [sic], though many men have written of their experiences in those dim and distant days.

It is interesting to me to know that some of your relatives are mentioned in this stoey [sic], for I have often heard my mother speak of them. She always spoke of your great grandfather, Tom McF Patton, and thus, I wrote it in my … [end of page one; I suspect a page may be missing]

…MS. this mistake is one of many made by the publishers of the book.

Many years after my mother was located at Empire City, she paid a visit to Salem, where she was the guest of her old friend, Mrs. Sam Garke, the former Harriet Buckingham. While there she also visited with Mrs. Garke, whom I believe she called Belle – though I am rather hazy on this point. I especially recall that she always spoke in glowing terms of your grandfather, Tom MCF Patton, whom she regarded as a very brilliant man.

Thank you for ypur [sic] very interesting letter, -and believe me to be

Sincerely yours.

[Signed] Agnes R. Sengstacken

Kindly pardon this wretched typing.

————————————

I found quite a bit of information on Agnes Sengstacken. She died in 1948, only a few years after this letter was written.

In addition to the clues to the provenance of the book and this letter by the author, the book also sounds like it will be a fascinating read! Who knows, maybe I’ll find a clue or two to my family mystery too.

Surname Saturday: HAYES (TN, NC) — An Update

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

In 2009, I posted about the discovery of notes on the back of a photograph, which identified my second-great grandparents, Joseph and Molly (Taylor) HAYES of Carter County, Tennessee. Census records showed that Joseph was born in North Carolina. Eventually, I tracked down his father, Robert, also born in N.C.

Well, I finally have located the family in North Carolina (Watauga County, to be specific), using the 1860 U.S. census. The surname was spelled Hays. That breakthrough allowed me to trace them back yet another generation. My 4th-great grandfather was Ransom Hayes. In the 1850 U.S. census, the enumerator spelled the surname ‘Hase.’ Tricky, but I found them anyhow! (Also found Ransom listed as Hayse in 1860!)

I noticed that another Ancestry member had a private photo of Ransom’s tombstone. I plan to contact them, but on a hunch I went to FindaGrave and sure enough, there are photos of his tombstone and that of his wife (and now I know her surname too)! And his tombstone has interesting information on it that points to possible land records for which to search. Oh and they’re buried in a HAYES cemetery in Watauga County, N.C. This just keeps getting better!

Military Monday: Billy Hayes

I recently discovered that I have another relative buried at Arlington National Cemetery. My great-uncle Billy G. Hayes was interred there in 2002. He served in the Army. I’m still trying to flesh out the details of his service. A note on his FindaGrave record reads “CSM US ARMY; WORLD WAR II; KOREA; VIETNAM.” CSM apparently stands for Command Sergeant Major. On my next trip to Arlington, I plan to seek out his grave. My father and my maternal grandparents are all buried at Arlington as well.

In 2009, Billy’s brother, my great-uncle Ben Hayes, mentioned to me that he had purchased a brick in Billy’s honor for a war memorial in Elizabethton, Tennessee, where they grew up. Ben drove my sister and I by the memorial at the time, though we didn’t get a chance to see the brick itself.

Sunday’s Obituary: Della (Crow) Hayes

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Della (Crow[e]) Hayes was my great-grandmother. All of the materials below are in the possession of one of my aunts:

Original source unknown

Original source unknown

Funeral Program Cover

Funeral Program, Inside

I have a couple things to follow up on here. There is a minister involved in the funeral of the last name ‘Hayes.’ Possibly a relative? Same with pall bearer Wayne Gourley (note the difference in spellings of Gourley/Gorley throughout the materials). I should also check with the church mentioned in the obituary to see if they have any family records.

Surname Saturday: GOURLEY (TN)

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

From my Ahnentafel chart:

15. Della CROW
31. Mary L. GOURLEY
62. Alfred T. Gourley

The parents of my 3rd great-grandfather Alfred T. Gourley are a mystery to me. I know he was born in 1813 in Tennessee according to the census and military records. A military enlistment document* on Ancestry.com states he was 5′ 6 1/2″ and had blue eyes, dark hair and fair skin at the age of 21. He was a farmer from Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee, which is where my HAYES and CROW roots go way back as well.

Alfred and his wife Mary Ann BARRY had eight children — four boys and four girls, including my great-great grandmother Mary L. Gourley. The others:

William R. Gourley (b. 1845)
George W. Gourley (b. 1849)
Willard S. Gourley (b. 1851)
Thomas A. Gourley (b. 1855)
Ellen M. Gourley (b. 1858)
Martha J. Gourley (b. 1860)
Elizabeth A. Gourley (b. 1864)

There’s a possible pension file match that I need to investigate the next time I’m at the National Archives. That should help me fill in a lot of information (fingers crossed!).

Gourley is also spelled Gourly and Gorley in records I have come across.

* U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, p. 75, Alfred T. Gourly, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 December 2010); citing Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, National Archives Microfilm Publication M233.

Sunday’s Obituary — William E. HAYES

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

New year, new-to-me blog theme! Below is a memorial obituary printed for the funeral of one of my maternal great-grandfathers, William E. Hayes. The memorial belongs to one of my aunts, who allowed me to photograph it last year.

Memorial Obituary for William E. Hayes

HAYES Headstone

Gravestone for William E. Hayes

SNGF: The Time Machine

Here is tonight’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission from Randy Seaver:

1) Determine which event in your ancestral history that you would love to be a witness to via a Time Machine. Assume that you could observe the event, but not participate in it.

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.

I would love to travel back to the early 1900s when my great-great-grandfather Joseph Smith HAYES moved his entire family from Carter County, Tennessee, to Umatilla County, Oregon, where they can be found in the 1910 U.S. Census. By 1920, they were all back in Carter County.

I’m curious as to why they traveled (I’m guessing for work) and what it was like to travel cross-country and back at that time.

FGS Day 4 (Quick Post)

It’s one hour to party time here in Knoxville, but here’s a quick recap of my activities at FGS10 today:

Session 1: War of 1812: Its Causes and its Records — great session that will help me with a client project

Session 2: The Land Grant Process of NC/TN — Speaker J. Mark Lowe is a great speaker and this enlightening session will help me with my East Tennessee research. Spooky light activity in the room was blamed on a ghost that follows Mark around.

Session 3: The Anatomy of a Will and the Records It Spawns — good session with definitions and examples of legal terms

Lunch: Tomato Head with 8 of some of my closest genea-peeps and a couple of their hubbies. Yummy food and good conversation.

Session 4: College & University Records: good overview of what’s out there but I was hoping for more tips on where to find these gems.

Session 5: Not allowed to blog about this one, but it wasn’t my favorite session, so that’s probably for the best.

Other highlights: Greta Koehl gave me the copy of Who Do You Think You Are by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak that she won yesterday — thanks, Greta! Also bought a huge tome on North Carolina research that was recommended as a good overall research guide. Can’t wait to dig into both of these books.

My grandma’s taco meat is warming up in in the Crock Pot and the sangria is chilling. Glad that some of my fellow FGS attendees can make it tonight!

Party on.

FGS Day 3

Just finished putting the ingredients for my grandma’s taco meat into the Crock Pot for a shindig my sister and I are throwing tomorrow night with my genea-friends and her pals from the area. Should be a good time.

But I really am here to post the happenings from today. I attended some excellent and informative sessions.  The first, “Colonial Migrations In and Out of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley,” was the perfect lead-in for the next session I attended, “Migration Routes Into and Out of Tennessee.”

Now, I have to admit I was dubious about the second session as I walked into the room and saw a transparency projected onto the screen. More alarm bells went off when I noticed the speaker adjusting said transparency was in period costume. But I was in for a treat because the speaker was the legendary George Schweitzer and he was a hoot. In addition to being a funny, engaging speaker, he also really knew his stuff.

Before this session, I got to chatting with one of my neighbors and learned she lives not to far from me in Virginia. When I found out she was a scrapbooker and Creative Memories fan, I told her about an upcoming 11-hour crop near her neck of the woods in October (see my write-up from last year’s event). She was excited to hear about it and I hope she’ll join me there!

Next, I attended “‘I’ll Fly Away’: Using Southern Church Records in Genealogical Research.” I came away with a lot of resources to check out regarding the Methodist preachers on my father’s side of the family and also for finding records of interest from many other denominations.

Unbeknownst to me, I had registered (or otherwise obtained a ticket) for the luncheon of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. I’m glad I happened to have the ticket because I really enjoyed the luncheon and made some good connections. One of my table-mates works in Illinois and gave me some good tips for researching my Corley roots there.

After lunch, I ran into Amy Coffin, who informed me that I’d won a door prize at the APG table. I had just enough time to pick up my prize before my next session. I received a copy of Courthouse Research for Family Historians. I was thrilled because I’ve had this book on my wishlist for a while.

Funnily enough, the next session I was to attend was “The Courthouse Burned: Alternate Approaches and Treasures.” This was a thorough session on what to try if you’re researching ancestors from a county (primarily in the South) whose courthouse burned either during the Civil War or in another conflagration or had other calamities that resulted in record destruction.

The final session I attended was “Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During and After the Famine.” This was a very informative session that helped me to figure out what was going on when my great-grandfather came over from Ireland (not necessarily the famine, as I thought initially). Speaker Paul Milner gave clues as to where Irish immigrants came from in Ireland at various points throughout history. I feel a bit more confident in researching this line now that I’m armed with this information.

But the day wasn’t over yet! Prize drawings were coming up at the exhibit hall and I wanted to take another look around because I felt like there were a few more nooks to explore after my survey of the exhibits yesterday. I perused a few more book stores and bought some supplies at the Fun Stuff for Genealogists booth before I sat down near the snack bar to wait with a tableful of my genea-peeps until the door prizes were announced.

Tina Lyons and I had by this time both won door prizes earlier in the day and sadly no one else at the table won, but we had a great time joking with each other and making fun of the odd way they were announcing the prizes.

By that time, I had scored yet another free day of parking (woohoo!) and needed to head to the grocery store to buy the provisions for the aforesaid taco meat. It has been a full week, but I’m kinda sad that the conference ends tomorrow.

FGS Day 2

Just back from an even fuller (more full?) day at the FGS conference. Started bright and early at the FamilySearch.org Blogger’s Breakfast where they debuted some upcoming features (new catalog search functionality and ancestor pages) and then asked me and about 14 other bloggers for opinions on various FamilySearch.org initiatives. The session was well worth the early start time — thanks to FamilySearch for the invite and the free swag (a NGS DVD, USB hub, brochures, and a lovely breakfast).

The official opening session of the conference was a riot. Mark Lowe and Kent Wentworth traded jibes, jokes and stories in a fun Tennessee v. Kentucky match-up. They also shared some ideas for doing research in both states. The exhibit halls opened after the session and I think I did pretty well, only spending $20 on items when there was so much there for the taking/buying. For those curious, I bought RootsMagic4 and the guidebook as a package deal after chatting with the helpful staff at their table.

I then attended a session on tracing immigrant ancestors to their countries of origin. This session was packed full of strategies and resources to try. It gave me hope for the searches I have ahead of me for my British, Scottish and German ancestors.

After lunch with Amy Coffin, Tonia Hendricks, Tina Lyons and her husband, I headed to a two-hour session by Elizabeth Shown Mills on Southern Research Strategies, especially for tracing the stories of poor, black and female ancestors. She presented two case studies that were complex and fascinating. She used a bullseye strategy, beginning with the ancestor at their earliest known/proved place of residence, slowly working out in concentric circles by studying their family, neighbors and acquaintances to search for evidence.

After that, I reunited with Amy and Tonia and a couple of other GeneaBloggers for the Genealogy Guys Podcast taping. They took questions from the audience and provided strategies for busting through brickwalls or approaching new areas. It was a really fun session and I think could be a model for future activities — with or without the podcast aspect.

After the podcast, Amy and I headed out to Market Square (the skies had cleared!) and talked shop over yummy food. Then I departed for the East Tennessee Family History Center, which has been kind enough to extend their hours this week while we’re in town.

I have family from Carter County in East Tennessee. After talking with the ETFH folks at the exhibit hall this morning, I wanted to check out the indexes for two of their journals to see if any of my surnames were covered. When I arrived after dinner, a staff member at the reference desk mentioned that they also had compiled genealogies. I made a beeline for that room and requested the vertical files they had on the HAYES surname and paged through a Carter County scrapbook while I waited for the records to be pulled. Most of the staff I encountered were nice, but one curmudgeonly guy was obviously put out by my newbie visitor questions. Harumph right back to him.

I didn’t find any real answers on this visit because I was pressed for time before they closed, but I noted the other vertical files they have available for a future visit. I also began searching through the indexes of the East Tennessee publications in their holdings. I’m looking forward to my next visit to the area so I can follow-up on what I saw today (and may even try to play hooky from a session or two tomorrow or Saturday to do more research).