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.

SNGF: A Prolific Dad

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!

Here is tonight’s challenge from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings:

“1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

2) Tell us about him in your own blog post, in comments to this blog post, or in comments on Facebook.”

The most prolific dad that I’ve found so far in my direct line is Jonathan Cheatham CORLEY, my GGGgrandfather. He had 13 children and they are notable for two reasons (in my mind):

1) all survived into adulthood (this is unusual, from what I’ve seen, for kids born in the early 1800s; they were born between the years 1805-1831)

2) all had the same mother (Delilah BASHAM, who lived until 1848, when she died at the age of 63)

I’m lucky to know quite a bit about Jonathan thanks to my copy of A Genealogy of Corleys. Jonathan was a blacksmith born in Bedford County, Va., in or around 1783. He moved with his growing brood to Kentucky before settling in Shelby County, Ill.

In A Genealogy of Corleys, the author relates that Jonathan went by the nickname Grandser (probably a contraction of Grand Sire, according to the author — how appropriate!). He served as a justice of the peace and apparently performed quite a few marriages in Shelby County (I need to make a note to look for records of this!).

The author of the book notes that it’s unusual that he couldn’t find more of a record of Jonathan — he states:

“Mr. Corley lived in the time when there was little opportunity for education, and while he was as stated, a Justice of the Peace, which shows that he was able to read and write and keep records, doubtless this was done in somewhat primitive style. Yet, this renders it all the more strange that he left no fuller account of himself and his father [Caniel Corley]. It was reputed that he kept a family record, but after his second marriage [to Elizabeth DAVIS, which produced no more children], if such a record ever existed, it passed out of the hands of his children and has not been recovered.” (pages 8-9).

Jonathan died 30 October 1861 and is buried with Delilah in a Corley family cemetery in Shelby County, Ill.

A Genealogy of Corleys was written in the 1920s and I’m hoping that with today’s increased availability of resources, I may someday have more luck finding information about Jonathan.

SNGF: The Best 2009 Genealogy Moment

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a chance to participate in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week’s mission from Randy Seaver:

1) “What was your best Genealogy Moment during 2009?” This could be a research find, a fabulous trip, a found family treasure, etc. Your choice!

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, a comment to this blog post, or a comment to the Twitter or Facebook status line for this post.

I have several moments just from this holiday season that I want to list here and all involve connecting with living family members to discover tidbits about the past. I’ll start with the most recent and work my way backward:

This past week, my sister and I drove from her home in Knoxville, Tenn., to the town of Elizabethton. There, we met up with our great-uncle Ben, whom I hadn’t seen since I was about 12 years old. He’s approaching 80 years old, but drove us all around town, stopping at the house where he grew up — my great-grandmother’s house — I plan to post pics in a separate blog post. I was six years old the last time I was there. We then drove to the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried. Finally, we all went out for BBQ. It was great to reconnect with Uncle Ben.

Spending time with my sister this past week was fun too — it’s something we haven’t been able to do in several years due to our respective work and school schedules. She took me on the tour of downtown Knoxville, we shopped, we cooked, we ate, we drank, we watched movies, looked at photo albums and just plain ol’ reminisced. Genealogy is about family and therefore quality time with my sister definitely makes it on the list.

Before heading down to Knoxville, I spent Christmas and a couple of days after with one of my aunts. She indulged me and together we went through more than 2,000 family photos, sorting and organizing them into storage boxes. I got to see childhood pics of my mom and her sisters that I’d never seen before. We came across hilarious photos of me and my cousins. Best of all, we found the one scene that had eluded me the past couple of years as I put together scrapbooks about my mom and dad — a photo of just the two of them together. Among the hundreds of photos taken of our extended family trips to the beach, we finally came across a couple shots of them.

Thanksgiving weekend was significant in many ways for my family — my sister and I spent the holiday in Richmond, Va., with our half-brother and his wife. It was the longest amount of time we’d ever spent with them and we had a blast. Besides the wonderful experience of being able to connect with them and their daughter, we made a major genealogical discovery, which I blogged about previously — we discovered the burial locations for several relatives whose remains we feared had been lost. In addition, my sister and I got to see photos of still another half-brother who passed away many years before we were born. My half sister-in-law showed me a bedspread that my grandmother crocheted together with my half-brother’s mother. Several of us went on a slave-trail walk through much of downtown Richmond the day after Thanksgiving. And my half-brother took my sister and I to the Richmond Holocaust Museum, where we got to meet an individual whose family story is featured in an exhibit in the museum. It was a tremendous trip.

Thanks, Randy, for this SNGF prompt!

Tombstone Tuesday: Arlington Abbey, Part 3

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!

As I detailed in two previous blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2), the remains of three of my ancestors were once buried at Arlington Abbey Mausoleum in Arlington, Va. However, that site fell into disrepair decades ago and was subjected to vandalism and worse. When the Army Corps of Engineers tried to close the facility in the late 1990s, they couldn’t reach all of the families of those buried there. When I tried to find more information about my relatives, I learned that their remains were missing.

As I said in my last post, it appeared that one of three things had happened: 1) a family member removed my ancestors’ remains to another location during a time when records of such removals were not recorded; 2) the urns holding the remains were stolen or destroyed; 3) the remains were among a bunch of unmarked urns found scattered inside the mausoleum, with no way to trace them back to the crypts to which they belonged.

I’m happy to report that while discussing this mystery with my half-brother over the Thanksgiving holiday, we found the answer. In an old version of our father’s will (dated only a year after I was born), he stated that he had purchased a crypt at another facility for “ashes of deceased members of my family who bore the name Corley.”

I called that facility when I returned home Saturday afternoon. After giving them the names and dates of death of the missing ancestors, the facility called me back in short order to let me know that they indeed have their remains. I now have their exact location and I hope to visit the memorial park soon.

I’ve sent this information to the Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist who assisted me in my search for my missing ancestors. My hope is that now that we have found my relatives, this may help narrow down the possible identities of those remains found on the floor of the mausoleum.

Continue to Part 4 (Tombstone Tuesday: Corley).

The Christmas Tree

Post #1 for the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

My first Christmas was only a month after I was born. We were living in an apartment and my parents kept it small. Our tree was plastic, less than two feet tall and pre-decorated with plastic fruits, birds and other ornaments. It has made an appearance at almost every Christmas over the years, even if it wasn’t THE tree. I still have it and it will probably be my tree this year too. I love it.

My First Xmas Tree, Dec. '76

After spending Christmas morning at home, we’d usually trek to Alexandria, Va., for more presents, food and family at my grandma’s. She always had a fabulous tree.

Grandma Grace's Xmas Tree

After we moved into our first house, in the Woodmoor section of Silver Spring, Md., our own Christmas trees were of the live variety.

Christmas at Woodmoor

Our dog, Shadow, loved to lie on the Christmas tree skirt, until presents crowded her off of it. She always knew Christmas meant something special (usually in the form of more treats!).

Shadow Under the Tree (1988)

Over the years, my family switched from live trees to fake trees and back again. Several years featured multiple trees — a large one in the living room, a smaller one in the family room and then the tiny plastic tree would always show up somewhere.

Turkey with a Side of History

I spent my Thanksgiving holiday with family in Richmond, Va. The trip was chock-full of historical and genealogical fun and so I thought I would recap the highlights here.

Libby Hill Park

My sister and I spent quality time with my half-brother and his wife, family and friends. We stayed in their beautiful home in Libby Hill Park in Richmond. Their house is actually the former Libby residence. It was owned by Luther Libby, from whom the area takes its name. Libby also owned a warehouse that was turned into a rather notorious prison during the Civil War.

My half-brother, his wife and I managed to solve a family genealogy mystery, which I will describe in another post. We also went over family history documents and photos. I learned a tremendous amount.

Richmond Skyline

We participated in a slave-trail walk along the James River on Friday morning. Richmond was once a major hub in the slave trade. The two-mile hike started at Manchester Docks. We continued up the river and over the 14th Street Bridge, ending the tour at the site of the former Lumpkin’s Jail, or “Devil’s Half-Acre,” where slaves were kept before being sold. The tour was led by a National Park Service employee and was fascinating.

That afternoon, we toured the Virginia Holocaust Museum. One of the exhibits detailed the story of Lithuanian Jews who hid from the Nazis in an underground room on a farm. The nine adults and four children stayed in the room for nine months. One of them was Israel “Izzy” Ipson. He was at the museum yesterday and we had the chance to meet him after we toured the exhibit. There is a book about his family’s ordeal that I intend to read.

Not really genealogy related, but our main adventure during the holiday involved the discovery of a lost or abandoned puppy in my relatives’ yard on Thanksgiving morning. We spent the better part of Thursday and Friday trying to find his owners. Ultimately, we found him a new home. He’s so sweet, I can’t imagine anyone leaving him in the park. Unfortunately, that appears to be what happened.

Surname Saturday: CAMPBELL (Virginia, Texas)

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!

My Texas roots include Campbells from San Antonio:

27. Josephine Susan Campbell (b. 1859  in San Antonio – d. 1922 in San Antonio)
54. William Wallace Campbell (b. 1828 in Virginia – d. 1862 in San Antonio)

William is listed as a master mason in the 1860 U.S. census, which I found on Ancestry.com.

William and his wife, Susan Elizabeth Smith (1830-1864), passed away while their children were still young. I found two of Josephine’s siblings living with relatives in the 1870 census, but haven’t tracked down Josephine’s location in that particular year.

The siblings were reunited and living together when they were in their 20s, according to the 1880 census.

William earned a mention in Daughters of the Republic of Texas because his wife, Susan, was the daughter of William John Smith (aka John William Smith, a prominent figure in the battle for the Alamo and the first mayor of San Antonio).

As of yet, I have not been able to discover the names of William’s parents, nor the area of Virginia from whence he came. There are a lot of William Campbells in Virginia around the time he resided there for me to sort through.

Josephine married Anson G. Bennett in 1881 and they had 8 children, including my great-grandmother, Susan Campbell Bennett (1884-1966).