Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 152

I am home. I hit the Colorado border about 1pm (MDT) and was at Ray's by 4pm. It was glorious to see the mountains. They are snow covered and lined the whole horizon by the time I reached Sterling, CO. Colorado Springs looks much the same but the grandkids have all grown and Archer is trying (so far unsuccessfully) to walk.

This has been the most glorious five month experience. I have learned a lot about myself as well as a wealth of information, insight, and appreciation for our ancestors. This trip encompassed
  • 152 days
  • 13,755 miles
  • 1 flat tire
  • 3 oil changes
  • 4 rubbermaid tubs of genealogy material
  • less than 14 days of bad weather
  • 0 unsolvable problems
  • hundreds of wonderful relatives dead and alive
  • 1000s of photos
  • dozens of grave stones

Fiona the GPS is a bit battered but still functioning. My car has survived despite being loaded to the gills. I highly recommend everyone designing a sabbatical experience -investing in your own personal passion. Many thanks to all of you who put me up, gave me encouragement, supported my excentricities, and read my blog. I couldn't have done this without you.

Tomorrow, I move into my new home. Life will return to "normal" but hopefully with more balance. I will spend the next year compiling stories and creating some books. A completely documented family history (citations and copies of all documentation will come later).

I will sign off - but keep in touch. This has been a life altering experience.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 151

The day began with cold and clouds but no precipitation. The clouds remained until I crossed the Mississipi about 1pm when they lifted and I got lovely blue skies and high clouds. Crossing the big river at Bettendorf, IA was as exciting as it was 5 months ago at Hannibal, MO. This time I am thrilled to be going home to see family, reenergized for my job and anxious to get writing some family stories.

The 9 hour drive went easily fueled by two tanks of gas, a book on tape, lively music, diet coke and ice tea. A blue, pink and white sunset illuminated the sky about 5:30 as I crossed the Missouri River from Council Bluffs to Omaha. I arrived safely in my hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska before 7pm. Tomorrow I hope to be off early. I would like to be in Colorado Springs before dark.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 150

A cool day in Chicago but no snow or rain. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will last a few more days.

Lois and I spent nearly 6 hours at the Art Institute. We didn't get through all the exhibits but had a fabulous time looking at Impressionists, modern art, Asian pieces, and miniatures. The miniatures were done in the 30s by a woman from Chicago. She was very interested in art history and architecture and designed various room interiors (n=30?) based on location (e.g., Connecticut), setting (e.g., dining room), and period (e.g. 1760). She then hired artisans to create the miniature furniture, rugs, wall decor, portraits, and accessories to furnish the room. The rugs, for example, were all needle pointed in silk - 40 stitches to the inch. Each room allowed you to look through a doorway into another furnished space (e.g. from a living room into the entry hall) and out the "windows" to a garden, lake, or street scene. Each room was exquisite. Obviously these exhibits were my favorite.

Shortly, Pam, Jay and I are going out to dinner. Lois is staying home and entertaining her granddaughter Alex. We should all have a good evening. Tomorrow I head for home!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 149

Brrr. There was ice on the windshield this morning. Best benefit of my new house - I have a garage for the first time in 15 years!!

I made the drive from E. Lansing to Chicago in about 4.5 hours with a stop at an outlet mall (no tops but I did find a belt). I managed to follow ALL of Fiona's directions correctly and arrived unscathed at Aunt Lois'. We had a lovely lunch (Lois is the queen of gracious dining) and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening nattering away.

Late in the afternoon Jay came home and we walked over to the fitness center (such a euphemism for a grand facility) for a solid 45 minute work out. This was a good effort but made little dent in the calories from Lois' lovely dinner. Hummm - more workout in the morning I think.

Meanwhile, Lois and I rummaged through various old collections and came upon a college scrapbook from my grandmother. The years were 1916-1918 and the scrap book includes letters from friends, programs from plays, opera, etc. she saw, valentines, goofy jokes, the college newspaper, postcards and other miscellany that is not that dissimilar from what many of us collected to document our teenage years. She definitely had a wacky sense of humor. I also made a copy of a tintype of gg Davenport and his parents which must have been taken about 1866. Cousins Bill and David - you haven't fallen far from the tree.

Tomorrow, Lois and I are off to the Art Institute. Should be great fun.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 148

Just a short blog tonight. I am including a photo of 65 University Drive in East Lansing. This is house grandpa and grandma Tukey purchased in 1945 when they moved from Geneva, NY to E. Lansing so grandpa could assume the duties of Hort. Dept. Chair at MSU. It is the home where Aunt Ann spent most of her growing up and where Dad created a bedroom for himself in the attic when he came home from the war.

Ann and I spent a great morning together. We hit a thrift shop at a local hospital where I finally found a pair of cuff links for a reasonable price (still looking for a belt). Then it was off to the Michigan State Library and Archives. Ann did some research for a friend of Aunt Louise's. I began the search for gggCharles Richardson. He moved frequently. We know he was an early (1847) pioneer in Jamestown, Michigan. He moved north in 1875 to purchase land in a neighboring county and today I found the land record. Yea! However, where he died has remained a mystery. Wife Eliza is buried in Jamestown. Charles did not die in Jamestown. Neither did he die in Boston, MI or Evart, MI as reported from other sources.

After a nice lunch, Ann went home to work on materials for her class and I returned to search all the library's records for Ottawa, Oceola, Muskegon and Newaygo counties. No luck finding death records, burial records, anything on early settlers, etc. About 3pm I headed for the Archives. On microfilm were death indices. After a little searching, I found Charles. He died, as our records indicated, on Sept. 18, 1891 - in Barton, Newaygo County, Michigan. There still is no listing (that I can find) for his burial in a cemetery but we at least have narrowed the location of his death. My guess is that he died away from family and may be buried in an anonymous grave or on his farm. His death records list his occupation as farmer and the names of his parents as "unknown" - highly unlikely if he was living close to children. His wanderlust (and long years with lots of children) probably meant he enjoyed is solitude which makes him a bit unknown to later generations.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Chicago. Lois, Pam and Jay have activities already planned for tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday. Then I head for home Thursday morning. Amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 147

I realized that I posted my log last night with out the traditional cemetery photos. Here is the marker for Alanson and Eliza Davenport.

However, the best marker in the cemery goes to Basel Trombly. No he is not related but I loved the creativity.

I left Ohio late this morning arriving easily in East Lansing, Michigan by 2pm. Aunt Ann and Uncle Michael look great. Ann and I ran a few errands but mostly spent the afternoon and evening talking nonstop. Tomorrow I have conned her into taking me to a consignment shop to find a new belt and then off to the Michigan Archives to find a cemetery listing for Charles Richardson - we hope.
The weather has turned cold and I am grateful for a warm coat. The skies were gray all day but no rain or snow. It should be warmer tomorrow - hopefully.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 146

I had a lovely sleep in this morning but was still off to Fort Meigs cemetery in Perrysburg by 9am. Thank goodness I had a reasonable description of the monument for Alanson and Eliza Middaugh Davenport (3ggs). I found it after only 15 minutes. In this case it was good that I knew one of their children married Christopher Hum because there was a large Hum monument that was easy to spot. The white Davenport obelisk is in good shape even though the lettering is fading. Alanson and Eliza are buried together with their son William next to them under a separate marker (he died early at age 47). Alanson had a G.A.R. military marker but I can't imagine he was in the Civil War. He would have been 55 years old in 1861. It may be that the marker should have been next to William's grave since he would have been 20 in 1862 - more appropriate for enlistment.

I then tried to visit a historic village on the Maumee River but evidently it is closed for the winter. Ditto with the Wood County Historical Society. I guess it is a good thing I am headed home. I spent the afternoon at the Wood County Public Library in Bowling Green. The historical society keeps many of its records there so I ended up with surname files and a variety of publications to investigate.

My searches were pretty fruitless. There appears to be no will or probate record for Alanson or Eliza or any of their children (in Wood County). Alanson was living with his son Newman at the time of his death so there may not have been enough property to divide. Alanson, according to the obituary I found, moved from Huron County in 1842 and purchased farm land. It may be that Newman took over the farm thus the deed had already transferred by the time Alanson died in 1893 at age 86.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking and relaxing. I will head for E. Lansing, MI tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 145

Today was a day for travel. The 5.5 hour trip to Bowling Green, Ohio was easy. The weather was beautiful and I had a good book on tape. This is a nice small town and the carillon from Bowling Green State University provides periodic musical background. I had a long walk around the campus. The fraternities and sororities seem to comprise what used to be dorm facilities. Greek life is thriving here.

I am spending odd bits of time trying to prioritize and conceptualize organizing all the genealogy data and the format for several books. It is and will continue to be an ongoing effort. Tonight is a night for labeling photographs - I am a bit behind and would like to get them in the correct electronic files before I get home. Tomorrow - cemetery and library - What Else!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 144

A totally exciting 9 hours at the library!!!!! Not. Well, it wasn't too bad except that like most archives, the temperature is about 60 degrees with a slight breeze. My hands were frozen all day.

Despite the cold, I managed to get through the remaining surname files:
3 Robertson
8 Robinson
3 Kennedy
4 Withers
1 Haynes
1 Pate
3 Barbee
9 Stephens
2 DeHaven
5 Holt
3 Jennings
3 Johnston
4 Hampton
plus two books from the stacks.

The best find was a copy of information from an old Stephens bible (Stephens lead into the Holt, Sterrett and Bowmer families). I found the names, spouses and children for Eleanor Stephens' siblings and confirmation that her father (Capt. Richard Stephens) enlisted in the 10th Virginia on 18 Feb 1777, a regiment later designated the 6th Virginia, retiring on 12 Feb. 1781. The bible also listed Eleanor and John Holts' children. We have always known that Eleanor and John were the parents of Elizabeth Holt (3 gg who married William Sterett) and Joseph Holt - Secty of War and Judge Advocate General under President Lincoln. There were hints in various documents of at least one brother older than Joseph and one younger - Thomas. The bible gave me all five children - Richard, James, Joseph, Thomas and Elizabeth. Yea!

I also got a complete list of all the burials in the Sterett family cemetery - that one down in the ditch not too far from Cloverport, KY. The graves were documented about 60 years ago which may explain why Sarah DeHaven Sterett's grave is listed but I couldn't find it - the stone has been covered up or destroyed. In the same file was a listing of information from a Sterett bible. It confirmed John and Sarah DeHaven Sterett's children and some grandchildren (birth, marriage and death dates). The bible also lists the births of black children born on the plantation between 1799 and 1821.

I have lots of other scraps and tidbits. Hopefully when I get home I can put the mosaic together to make complete stories. Speaking of which - I will be home a week from tomorrow. It is hard to believe that this trip is winding down so quickly. Tomorrow I head for Bowling Green and Perrysburg, OH to catch two probate records and a cemetery on the Davenport side. Sunday I will drive back to Michigan and drop in on Aunt Ann and Uncle Mike. Ditto on Tuesday for Aunt Lois, Pam and Jay in Chicago, finally heading for Colorado next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 143

Today I was in downtown Frankfort at the KY History Society. I decided to focus on surname files first. These are files that contain research, letters, and various family history sources donated to the library. I started with Atkinsons and am making my way down the list of family names. Some files have lots of information. Some have nothing that pertains to us. I made it through:
Atkinsons - 1 file
Ballards - 6 files (I got some solid information on early Ballards into Virginia (~1650). There were two Thomases and 2 Johns before our Rebecca Ballard who married John Holloway (part of the Letcher line).
Holloways - 3 files
Starlings - 1 file
Lynes - 1 file
Letchers - 1 file
Perkins - 5 files
Robertsons - 9 files down, 3 to go

In Robertson file #6 was a court order for an apprenticeship. I'm sure it was standard for the day be seems rather depressing:

Order Book (court documents) 23, p 199. Dec. 16, 1794. John Keith aged 5 on 18th January next to be bound to Col. Alexander Robertson to learn the art and mystery of a farmer.

On the other hand, I am sure gg Davenport would be pleased to know that farming was so highly regarded 210 years ago.

Tomorrow I hope to finish the surname files and the biography files then move on to some selected books and the Draper paper microfilm. Good news (?) the History Society is open from 10am to 8pm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 142

I wish I had an interesting blog for today. Faint microfilm - white handwriting on black paper - makes for a long day of slogging. I found and copied several early deeds (1797) from several family members but nothing too exciting.

I didn't get to the Draper Papers until 3pm - 1 hour before closing. The Archives only has some of the manuscripts so I had to pick and choose a person to research from within the "Kentucky Papers" (versus the Boone papers, etc.) I went for Nancy Letcher. Locating the correct roll of film is almost as challenging as locating the filmed manuscript. It involves searching the appendices for the correct access number, then locating the appendix for the correct portion of the manuscript, then using your decoder ring to deduce the access number which in turn gives you the targeted microfilm reel. Today - #501! Once loaded, you realize that there are 4 volumes CC 33, 34, 35, and 36 on the microfilm. Thank goodness I wanted CC33. However, there is no index. You simply read every handwritten entry, looking for a reference to or letter from Nancy Letcher. In some ways this resembles the Nathan Goold research on the Tukey genealogy in Maine - only worse. Mr. Draper was trying to put the pre-1830 genealogy together for an entire state. On the positive side, the entries are in chronological order. On the down side, the letter I was looking for was dated Sept. 29, 1884 - after starting in 1880. I finally found Nancy Letcher - only to discover that the letter was from a very rude Nancy Letcher who lived in Covington, KY, was granddaughter to a famous pioneer, Thomas Kennedy of Covington - and who are not our Thomas Kennedy or Nancy Letcher at all. (I had to sort out this conundrum several months ago.). Thank goodness - we didn't want anyone that rude anyway.

Tomorrow - off to the KY Historical Society to make inroads on as many surname files as possible. Hopefully, I will have some more personal ancestral tidbits to share!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 141

A short day. Not too interesting.
Web and catalog research for the KY State Library and Archives.
Phone calls to set up utilities and moving company for new home in Colorado Springs.
Long hours of microfilm peering at the Archives - small print, mediocre focus, bleery eyes.
End of day appointments and a salad for dinner.
More internet follow-up and phone calls this evening.
Tomorrow - more microfilm.

My microfilm work is focusing on early KY counties from which later counties were carved. So far, a bit on Richard Stephens but not much. Tomorrow I will finish Fayette County and then look through some of the 143 microfilm rolls that comprise the Draper Papers. These are notes, interviews, diaries and other information collected by Draper documenting the KY/VA frontier prior to 1830. I'll let you know what I find.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 140

Today started with a very flat tire. Thank goodness it was in the parking lot of the hotel and not on the open road. Realizing I had put 11,000 miles in 4 months on already used tires, I figured the best bet was to replace all the tires especially going into snowy weather. Thank goodness for AAA and WalMart. WalMart is not my first choice for any purchase. However, it is open on Sunday. By 10:15 I had new tires and was on my way to the Harrodsburg Historical Society.

I found some interesting papers in the closed vertical files. Two of them were bonds for $100,000 placed by Alexander Robertson and 3 others who served as sheriffs for Mercer County. Evidently the bond was required as these individuals were responsible for physically collecting taxes from all residents (in the years 1787, 1790) and getting them to the Virginia state government. I also found the guardianship papers for Margaret Robertson after Alexander died. No luck finding any cemetery listings for either Alexander or Margaret.

Leaving Harrodsburg, I worked my way north and east past Pleasant Hill and to the far side of the KY River gorge palisades - the gorge of limestone that cuts through the area. I went through the small town of Wilmore to High Bridge. High Bridge is known for its cantilevered bridge used for railway traffic. For us, it spans Dick's river at its convergence with the Kentucky River - just where Alexander Robertson and his family purchased 1,400 acres - and the property eventually given to the Shakers. It is trully a lovely location. I will leave you tonight envisioning this property on a golden, crisp autumn day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 139

Today contained unexpected bonuses. I made a quick trip to Lexington but was unimpressed with the art galleries. Then it was off to Harrodsburg and the historical society. There was no information in the regular surname files but there were two land deeds for William Starling in the closed vertical files. The deeds mention William's son Edmond Lyne Starling and William's wife Polly. The deeds are dated 1812 and 1814. This helps as I had two conflicting dates for Suzanne Lyne Starling, William's first wife and our 5 gg. The information leads credence to the 1802 death date. But confirmation came from a totally unexpected quarter.

I was looking at marriage records and found the marriage of John McDowell and Lucy Starling (William and Suzanne's daughter) in 1809. In the same listing were Lucas Sullivant and Sally Starling in 1800, William Starling and Mary McDowell, and then - William Starling and Polly McDowell in 1805. Obviously, the Starling and McDowell families were close geographically and emotionally.

I was then searching through some old research from the 1950s and what pops up - Alexander Robertson. I had lost track of the Robertson/Robinson family after Augusta County, VA. I knew they had come to Kentucky and Margaret Robertson married Benjamin Thomas Letcher (4 GGs) but had no luck in locating Alexander and his wife Margaret (5 GGs). Now I have confirmation. They came, probably with Alexander's brother James and a nephew Stephen about 1775. Alexander claimed 400 acres of land through improvement (a crop of corn and 2 cabins) and then a preemption (additional acreage for free) of 1000 acres. The courts approved is petition in 1776. Now here is what really blew my mind - especially after visiting Pleasant Hill (the Shaker settlement just a few miles from here) 2 weeks ago:

Mercer County, KY Court Records - Deed book 10: July 14, 1816 - Robertson Heirs to Shaker Society. James George and Elizabeth his wife, Benjamin Letcher and Margaret his wife, John Hann and Jane his wife, James Robertson, Samuel McKee and Patsy his wife, George Robertson, Charlotte Robertson of the County of Garrard, State of KY convey to John Bryant, Abraham Wilhite and Francis Foris for and in behalf of the Society of people on Shawneed Run called Shakes of the County of Mercer, for the sum of $1., a tract of land in Mercer County on the Kentucky River containing by estimation 1,400 acres and know as Samuel Woods settlement and preemption claim which was patented to Alexander Robertson and John McMurtry and being the residue of said 1,400 acres mentioned in a deed of relinquishment which was executed by the said Robertson to the heirs of John McMurtry.
Acknowledged by the parties in Garrard Co. and recorded in Mercer Co. July 25, 1816.

This transaction gave the Shakers nearly 1/3 of the 5,000 acres they ultimately acquired. The Samuel Woods mentioned in the court record was Alexander Robertson's step father. AMAZING. I will now look at the Pleasant Hills with new eyes.

Of course with the Robertsons and Robinsons to look at, I didn't have near enough time at the historical society. Luckily, a volunteer is painting at their facility tomorrow and said I could come back rather than waiting until Tuesday. YIPPEE!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 138

Today was a day of cemeteries and travel. It has also become quite cold. I spent most of the day bundled in layers including gloves and ear muffs. The wind was bitter.

I left my motel in Henderson headed for the countryside. I easily found (amazing) the Holloway cemetery and the old homestead. I knocked on the door of the house but no one was home. I took pictures anyway. I then went back down the road and drove into a residential home's driveway closest to the cemetery. Mr. Bill Forrester came out and graciously gave me all the access I wanted. The cemetery is on a slight rise with long range views over the tilled corn fields. About 20 graves for the Smith and Holloway families are enclosed in a deteriorating wrought iron fence. (Otherwise, the cemetery is in lovely condition.) Various children and grandchildren of Ann Starling Holloway (1777-1840) and John Holloway (1762-1825) were buried at the site along with Ann and John.

When I was finished photographing, Donna Forrester came out of the house and invited me in. She and Bill care for the cemetery since it is on their property. They are under no obligation to do so but have a deep sense of responsibility. They weed, water, rake and mow plus paint the fence. They are concerned about the fence as it approaches its 200th birthday - it will soon fall over just due to long exposure. They contacted the last direct Holloway descendant but she is not interested in paying for replacing the fence. After the last few days, I am getting obsessed with taking care of our family's resting places. I don't know if we can get local groups to adopt them or whether each part of our families should adopt a cemetery getting the kids and grandkids involved or just not fuss about them. Thoughts from others are welcome.

I then headed east to Springfield, KY. This was supposedly the resting place of William Starling, Ann Starling Holloway's father. His home, I think, was closer to Harrodsburg. I don't know why he was buried in Springfield. The genealogy section of the Washington County Public Library offered no clues. He is not mentioned in any local history nor is there a probate listing for him. The library did confirm that he was buried in the city cemetery which was just down the street. Hoping for the best (there is no master layout for the cemetery, associating names with plots - you just have to walk the graves), I bundled up and started looking at older stones. Wonderfully, within 20 minutes, I found William under a juniper tree. His grave is a large horizontal tomb with only his name and dates on it. The stone is broken but the grave seems to be intact. Many of the older stones are in much worse condition. However the cemetery is obviously maintained and stones are cared for as best as possible.

Finally, I drove to Frankfort, KY. I am here for a week. Tomorrow I will go into the KY Historical Society. Sunday, I will do chores and probably go to Harrodsburg to look for more information on Starlings. This search may spill over to Monday. Tuesday I will spend at the state archives and then Wed and Thurs, back to the Historical Society to fill in any Kentucky and Virginia gaps.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 136

For those of you that waited up last night for the blog, my apologies. The internet was uncooperative. However, I did write and post the blog for yesterday this morning.

This morning it was off to the county court house and down to the basement vault for probate records. Both John Holloway and George Atkinson had long wills - 5-6 pages each. They were detailed about the disposition of their property and were very fair with all children. John Holloway designated about 20 slaves by name to be distributed amongst family members. He specifically requested that mothers and children not be separated during any future sales or exchanges. John's wife Ann received full control of all his property for her lifetime. If she remarried, she was still to receive 1/3 of everything. Obviously this was a strong, long-lived marriage.

George Atkinson's will made several interesting decisions. He forgave all debts that his brothers or children had incurred with him. He wanted everyone to start evenly for the distribution of assets. He also decided that he was not pleased with the old cemetery at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He made provision for the graves of all relations interred there to be moved to the plots purchased at the new Fernwood City Cemetery. He also called for marble monuments to be built and a sturdy fence to surround the area. Interesting. There were 2 codicils to the will. The second one revoked the 3 individuals originally set to serve as his executors (2 sons and a son-in-law) and gave the power to his eldest son John C. Atkinson. I don't know if there was a rift in the family or ?????

I also have the will from James H. Letcher. He disposes most all of his property to the Presbyterian church and his son Oscar G. Letcher. He mentions a nephew and James Letcher Taylor but makes no mention of his son Edward's (our GG grandfather) children or grand children. He sounds like a stern character. Wonder what the schism was in that family.

I then spent several hours in the historical society. Nothing much new but some odds and ends. Mid-afternoon, I took in the Audubon museum. They did have a painting of a turkey which said it was painted in Louisiana. I don't know what happened to the turkey he painted at the Holloway home - maybe it is in the hands of relatives.

Day 135

Well, you get blog 135 on the morning of day 136. Yesterday was one of the 2 days since I left home that I didn't feel well. However, a couple of doses of Airborne and I was on my way to the Henderson County Library. Also the internet would NOT stay up last night so I went to bed.

I found that Holloways and Atkinsons had much to do with the founding of the town. John Holloway, Anne Starling Holloway, and George Holloway (John's brother) arrived here in the late 1790s. George ran a small trading post. John and Anne took up his land bounty from the Revolutionary War and then traded it for more land (~1500 - 2000 acres) south of the small village of Henderson. Anne was a true pioneer woman as she carried her first born daughter, Rebecca Ballard Holloway, as she road horseback from Virginia to western Kentucky. John and Anne lived their lives on the farm. John served on several town committees including the early court of quarterly session in 1802. He died at age 65 in 1825 leaving his wife to run the plantation until her son John G. Holloway was able to take over its management. John and Anne are buried on the family farm which I hope to get to tomorrow.

Meanwhile, George Atkinson arrived from Richmond, VA in 1817. He established his first tobacco warehouse on the Ohio River, buying a mill and warehouse from John James Audubon (his mill venture did not pan out). Speaking of Audubon, he did much of his painting in this area. He often stayed with the Atkinsons, but more often the Holloways. One day he found the perfect turkey specimen and shot it. The turkey cock had a red flannel strip tied to its leg. It turns out, Anne Holloway was saving this turkey for breeding and it had gotten out of its pen - thus it was in the woods when Audubon killed it. Meanwhile, Audubon got little Rebecca Ballard Holloway to hold the dead bird while he sketched it. Audubon was frequently broke so paid for his board and room with his paintings. Several still belong to various members of the family.

Back to Atkinsons. George was very involved in all things commercial and governmental. He sat on the board for the local private school. He and others set up commissions and stock subscriptions to establish roads, construct wharves, and build buildings. In 1837, he and others financed the Henderson and Nashville Railroad. In 1850, he and his partners established Farmers Bank. The bank was highly successful and his son Edward joined its management in the 1870s. It should be noted that Hugh Atkinson, George's grandson and our great grandfather, was also in the banking business in Chicago. Obviously, meticulous detail and financial dealings suited this branch of the family.

This morning I am off to the courthouse to secure probate and marriage records. I will spend the afternoon at the genealogical society. More tonight if the internet cooperates.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 134

Today was a long day and much of it frustrating.

I headed for Meade County stopping at the public library to look for any additional information on the Hayneses. A history of the county mentioned 4g grandparents William and Agnes Haynes. William and his family emigrated from Bedford County, VA about 1805. William was a farmer but also served as county surveyor from 1840 to 1867. A discussion on slavery (in the county history) had an interesting connection with other parts of the family. "Another slave owner, Henry Haynes of Brandenberg, had sent his slaves from the county. They were working on the farm of George Atkinson at Henderson, KY." William (b. 1773) was 20 years older than George (b.1793) and separated by 60+ miles but they obviously knew each other due to the commercial traffic on the Ohio. Their two families would be joined when, in 1900, George's grandson Hugh Letcher Atkinson married Elizabeth Bowmer, Henry Haynes' great granddaughter.

I then searched the countryside for the Haynes cemetery. It is hidden somewhere on a farm but I had no luck finding it. Ditto with the Bowmer cemetery in Breckinridge County. Ditto with Edward DeHaven's grave - even with new directions. Finally, I went searching again for the Sterett Cemetery - since I had to go that way to get to Henderson. Driving Skillman Road for the 6th time, I peered through the weeds down a long embankment and found the stones. The cemetery is in very poor shape. Many graves are broken or knocked down. Weeds abound. It is very sad. I found John Sterett (4gg) and his second wife Polly but no Sarah DeHaven Sterett - our 4g grandmother. It is hard to know that the graves of both Sarah and her father, a Revolutionary War hero, have virtually disappeared. William Sterett's grave (3gg) was there but not one for his wife Elizabeth Holt Sterett.

About 3pm I finally arrived in Henderson, KY. After checking into a motel, I found Atkinson Park - named for our gg Edward. It is a lovely location bordering the Ohio River with playgrounds, walking paths, a disc golf course, athletic fields, and picnic areas. I then went to the Fernwood Cemetery. Hooray for having the lot numbers and for a cemetery office that is manned and has maps! SUCCESS all around. I found Hugh and Elizabeth Atkinson's graves - our great grandparents. I found a Letcher monument with James Hughes Letcher and Nannie T. Kennedy Letcher (3gg). And finally - for those cousins who asked my why we never have a large monument - A huge obelisk for George Atkinson with a large horizontal crypt for his wife Lucy Ann Holloway Atkinson. Our 3 gg (Edward and Nancy Letcher Atkinson) and numerous other relatives were there as well. Nice they all keep each other company. Quite a contrast to my efforts earlier in the day.

Tomorrow - library time working particularly on the Holloways.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 133

My traveling partner for the last 10 days left for home. I was sorry to see Anne go but I am sure Uncle Carl was thrilled to have her home again. A double bonus - today is their 52nd wedding anniversary.

I spent much of the day doing research and set-up for the rest of my trip. As I make my way to Henderson, KY to research Atkinsons and Holloways, I will take in some cemeteries and fill in a few of the blanks Anne and I were unable to finish.

Today, I managed to find the location of the Hayneses (an elusive bunch because of the common name). William Haynes and Agnes Pate Haynes (4gg) are buried in Meade County, just north of Breckinridge County, east of Cloverport. So far, I have found no record of their parents in Kentucky but believe they came from Bedford County, VA originally. Their daughter Emily married William Bowmer. William is buried in the Bowmer Cemetery in Breckinridge County - am not sure where this is but will ask at the court house tomorrow. Meanwhile, William H. and Agnes are buried in the old Haynes Cemetery on the Ohio River outside Brandenburg, KY as is Emily, under her 2nd married name. 13 years after William Bowmer died, she married a family friend but is still buried in the Haynes cemetery. This too will take some searching because the cemetery is located on the Fannie Haynes farm. Note: Fannie was alive in 1892. Who knows who owns the farm now.

I hope to get to Henderson tomorrow night and will spend 2 days there before coming back to Frankfort for some family searches in the Haroddsburg area over the weekend and research at the KY historical library next week.

Since I no new photos today, I will leave you with four of the Holt stained glass windows from Horsley Chapel from yesterday.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 132

I can't believe we are to the end of October. Anne and I left Hardinsburg this morning and found Horsley Chapel. The Holt windows look lovely in this Methodist Church (not Presbyterian as I thought).

From there we decided to head east. Nothing of great interest seemed to be open in Louisville on a Sunday so we went to the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill. It was the last day for demonstrations and all the buildings were open. Crunchy leaves underneath as we enjoyed this 3,000 acre community. The buildings are, for the most part, original to the early 1800s. The furniture and accessories are simple and rich in wood and natural materials. It was the perfect end to our trip. Tonight we are in Louisville and Anne goes home in the morning. I will stay one day here at the Filson Library before heading to Henderson on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 131

It has been a u-turn day. We went to the post office, made a u-turn to get to the historical society. It was manned by an ancient southerner who spoke slowly and heard even slower (is that an ear u-turn?). However, we did find that the alter rails from Judge Holt's church (built across the road from the mansion and constructed for his mother) were now in the historical society's museum. The rest of the church is in Owensboro, KY. The Mennonites bought it and moved it there. They didn't want the stained glass windows (too much color) so they were stored for several years in a tobacco barn. When the Presbyterians built a new church, here in Hardinsburg, the stained glass windows were installed there. We will try and get a glimpse tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we hit the grocery store for fruit and an ATM. No luck on the ATM and you can only get $25 above your grocery purchase. U-turn to WalMart. I got cash. Anne couldn't remember her pin number. Meanwhile, I had used the restroom and my jeans zipper got jammed in the down position - U-turn back to the motel for new jeans.

Finally, on the road at 11am looking for Edward DeHaven's grave. We have the AAA Kentucky map. We have the Breckinridge County map from the court house with the grave site marked by the archivist. We have the xeroxed map of Hancock County from the public library. We have Fiona. We have Google Maps. We have written directions to the cemetery from the cemetery book. And we still left town going the wrong direction. We get to the correct roads and no cemetery. We look in every possible direction. Read and interpret the instructions 6 different ways. We saw gorgeous, quiet scenery - but no graves. After 2 hours, you guessed it, u-turn for Hardinsburg, grabbing a salad and using the restroom before heading north to find the old Sterrett homestead and graveyard.

We found the correct roads and drove them from one end to the other. Fabulous views of the Ohio river. The perfect sites for any home - no house that fit the description. We ended back in Cloverport and did find the Black cemetery - but no Sterretts or anyone else we knew. U-turn - back on the road looking for the cemetery. Again - no sign of graves at the appropriate spot until we got out to the main road. And there it was. The perfect little cemetery up on a knoll. We whip a u-turn, park and go bounding up the hill ... and it is not our cemetery. U-turn. Finally we headed to Owensboro to see the sights. It is 3pm.

We arrived in Owensboro at 3:45 - just in time for 15 minutes at the art museum and... a bathroom stop. We then head to the public library. No relevant genealogy but a great new library facility and librarians willing to give us private tours and information. Good food for thought on library facilities and innovation. We left just at closing with directions to a local BBQ place. Drove confidently past the street - by several miles - before completing 2 u-turns and arriving at the restaurant at 7pm. Good dinner. 2 u-turns on one-way streets to get out of town, 1 u-turn on the highway when Fiona tried to send us down a back road, and the strangest NPR program ever heard to keep us awake on our way back to Hardinsburg. We are now safely tucked in. Hopefully our journey to Louisville tomorrow will have more straight lines.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 130

Short Blog. Busy day. Lots of good luck.

We found:
  • 5 wills for various family members

  • numerous marriage records

  • gravesites for my 4 g grandparents - William Haynes Bowmer and Margaret Sterett Bowmer in Cloverport, KY - (see below)

  • The Bowmer House in Cloverport - we think - based on a 1903 photo - with gorgeous views of the slowly moving Ohio River 300 feet from the front door. (see yellow house below)

  • The Holt House mentioned yesterday - halfway between Cloverport and Stephensport. The house has been preserved but much restoration needs to be done. It would be a good volunteer fundraising effort. (see large house below)

  • Joseph Holt's grave site (see below) along with those of his parents, John W. and Eleanor Stephens Holt

The morning was very cold but the afternoon lovely. The weather made it perfect for an afternoon in the outdoors. Our trek to the Holt house emphasized the absolute quiet of the location except for occasional bird songs (and the train). No children, cars, voices, or disturbing sounds. The Holt house has a large ginkgo tree in the back yard full of green leaves that glimmered as the setting sun shown down. We picked up a number of the leaves which, unfortunately, I think Anne is allergic to. She is sitting in bed with benadryl and gloves on her hands.

Tomorrow - the local historical society, the post office (I have found a house to rent when I get home so am mailing the lease), and then back out to more grave sites.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 129

A very full day today. We left Berea before 8am heading west for two sites Anne wanted to see. By 9am we were in Danville and saw Centre College. It is a small liberal arts school begun in 1820 for well-to-do families. Several of our ancestors are graduates - not because they were well to do but because it was one of the few in Kentucky. All the buildings are brick and well maintained on this small campus. No good signage which is annoying. From Danville, we coasted through the rolling hills of Kentucky towards New Hope and New Haven. It is a very Catholic area of the state which plays host to several priories and a monastery of Trappist monks (our destination). Anne had done some reading on Thomas Merton who had lived at the monastery and was curious to see this location. It is peaceful and quiet - reminiscent of my stay in upstate New York. The monastery supports itself through retreats and the making/selling of food products (fudge, cheese and fruitcake).

Finally we headed towards Breckinridge County arriving just before 2pm at the court house in Hardinsburg. Big thrill - we had crossed into the central time zone so gained an hour of research time. The archives ladies were very helpful as we delved into the Holts, Steretts, Bowmers, Stephens and DeHavens. So many lines to trace but we found good information on nearly everyone.

For me, the best information was finding that Judge Joseph Holt's home near Stephensport, KY was actually constructed by his parents - John W and Eleanor Stephens Holt, our 4 g grandparents. The house, recently rescued from ruin, has 3 stories of brick, metal and lumber and was constructed by slave labor in the 1830s. Joseph Holt inherited the house. He was Lincoln's Judge Advocate General and the house became a stop on the Underground Railway before and during the Civil War. Abutting the Holt land was that of Capt. Richard Stephens. His land grant (new sources today say 90,000 acres) extended along the Ohio River from just below Louisville to the Cloverport area. It is Richard's daughter Eleanor who married her neighbor John Holt.
We also found information on the Sterett family including this picture of John, our other 4 g grandfather on the Bowmer side. John purchased and traded land near the Ohio river. In 1822, he was taxed as a joint holder of 4,000 acres with Joseph Allen. In the same year he purchased an additional 9,000 acres. Much of the land was deeded or sold to his children leaving him with approximately 500 acres in Hancock County just over the county line from where I am in Breckinridge County. His home, called Walnut Hill, commanded a panoramic view of the Ohio River. The house stayed in the Sterett family until the 1960s. We hope to find the exact location of the property when we search out John and Sarah DeHaven Holt's graves on Saturday (probably on what was a portion of the old homestead).
Tomorrow- back to the courthouse for wills and marriage bonds. We hope to get to Cloverport to look for Bowmers and various graves.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 128

Another great day plus BEAUTIFUL fall weather - warm breezes, blue sky. Who could ask for more?

Anne and I left early for the Lancaster County Courthouse arriving just after 8am. We started searching probate records - wills for various Kennedys and Letchers. To give you an idea of small town courthouses, there are no security checks, no leaving your bags and coats in a locker, you have free access to the vault and just join the employees in using the copying machine. As we began, Gordon from the Property Valuation Department asked who we were researching. We told him Thomas Kennedy. Turns out he is descended from Thomas' sister Margaret - so he is about a 6th cousin. We shared some family stories and research information. We then got talking about the location of the Kennedy mansion and Uncle Tom's cabin. He knew right where they used to be, went to his office and printed out a colored map with directions!! Yahoo!!

Meanwhile, Anne and I were in the vault for 4 hours (they close at noon on Wed.). We ran up and down the rickety library ladder that clung to the ceiling of the vault and had one wheel that didn't quite reach the floor. I grabbed metal boxes (much like ammunition cases) full of wills and estate papers. Most had signatures of Benjamin Letcher - 5 gg who was the county clerk in the 1790s or his son Stephen G. Letcher who was county clerk in the 1820s and 30s. About 11:15 we started on marriage records. Staff showed us the metal staircase complete with creaky door that led from the floor of the vault to the basement. The lights DID work. We found the marriage bond for Thomas Kennedy and Edna Withers - 5 ggrandparents. We staggered out at noon headed for a well deserved lunch.

After lunch we drove down the street and took photos of the Letcher home then proceeded to the Lancaster Cemetery. There we found the graves for General Benjamin Letcher, his wife Margaret Robertson Letcher, and Stephen Giles Letcher. (gravestones are sideways - sorry)
North out of town we followed Gordon's directions to "The Poplars" - Kennedys homestead. The land is rolling and the house would have faced east. Beyond the edge of the plantation was Kennedy's station - the property purchased by Thomas' father John and their first home after leaving the Boonesborough/Stroud Fort area 8 miles east.

I then showed Anne the Paint Lick cemetery and Thomas K's gravesite (see photos from my blog a month ago when I was in Lexington). Anne got the kinks out of her back lying on one of the stone slabs. The end of the day was spent investigating a few places in Burea, a salad dinner, and catching up on practicalities at the hotel. We are off to Hardinsburg and its only hotel (22 rooms - $50/night) tomorrow to look for Holts, Bowmers, Stephens, DeHavens and Haynes in Breckinridge County, KY.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 127

Wow, what a day. Anne and I drove to Boonesborough, going to the original fort site on the Kentucky River and then touring the reconstructed fort. We saw the plaque for John Kennedy, one of Daniel Boone's "30 guns" who widened the Wilderness Road for the Transylvania Land Company and opened KY for settlement in 1775. John's father and brothers joined him by 1776, moving their families to the wilderness. We watched wood working, candle making, weaving, and "white" smithing exhibitions. The whitesmith worked with tin, brass, and copper making everyday implements. The metal working process required solder but not a hot forge like blacksmithing.

During the morning we noticed that the wind had picked up and by the time we stopped for lunch it was pouring rain. Only then did we access the weather channel to find out that the worst storm in 70 years had hit Chicago and we were feeling the fringes of that disturbance. I hope Pam, Jay, Lois, and Jan G. are all surviving safely.

After lunch we headed south towards Garrard County and its capital, Lancaster. 45 minutes of windy driving got us to - Paint Lick -what a surprise - exactly where Mom, Liz and I visited a couple of weeks ago and the second home to Thomas Kennedy (after his Stroud's Fort location near Boonesborough). We couldn't see much of the countryside in the rain but enjoyed the back route to Lancaster.

The Lancaster Historical Society was womanned by 80 year old Margaret Simpson. A southern dynamo, she welcomed us in out of the weather and talked nonstop about the Kennedys. Evidently, nearly everyone in Garrard County and many in neighboring Madison County are related to the Kennedys - except her. She showed us a picture painted of Thomas Kennedy's old home (c. 1800- red house) with the slave's cabin out back that belonged to the individual on which Uncle Tom (Harriet Beecher Stowe) was based. The Historical Society also has a piece of wallpaper from the original Kennedy home (demolished in 1930).

From the historical society we moved to the public library. The library has as much material as the historical society or more and we delved into Kennedy surname files. However, the great finds were in the Letcher surname files. We found letters, genealogies written 100 years ago, and much more. Even information on the elusive Robertson family. We also found the home of Nancy Kennedy and James Hughes Letcher. It is quite near the library and is where the young couple lived for 10 years ~1850. Robert P. Letcher had lived there prior to his election as Kentucky's governor in 1840 and must have let Nancy and James live there or purchase it. (white house above)

We are overwhelmed with the amount of data but intend to go back tomorrow for more. We also found that Benjamin Letcher (a general in the War of 1812 and father of James Hughes Letcher) and his wife Margaret (Peggy) Robertson Letcher are buried in Lancasteer. This means a cemetery run in Lancaster and out at Thomas Kennedy's grave in Paint Lick.

We ended our day at a country dinner in Lancaster - $4.95 for Anne's liver and onions. $5.95 for my lasagna. The price also included sides and a salad. Can't beat it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 126

We awoke to rain, low clouds and fog. We left Asheville about 9 and headed up into the mountains. The trees were brilliantly colored despite the rain.

We crossed from NC to Tennessee to Virginia and into Kentucky emerging through the Cumberland Tunnel. The stops up and through the mountains were beautiful but Cumberland Gap was disappointing. We made our way to the Cumberland Gap National Park Visitor's Center where we saw a wonderful movie on Daniel Boone and the movement of the white man into Kentucky. The ranger then sent us up the mountain to see the views that Boone and early pioneers saw. These were much more satisfying, looking out over TN and VA into Kentucky. The forest was quiet with a slight breeze and quietly chattering animals and birds. You could see how ancestors anxious for more space and new adventures would view Kentucky as the ultimate challenge.

Anne and I then headed back down the mountain to take a 1.2 mile walk (uphill, both ways) to the actual Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Trail. With two days of long walks, Anne may be doubting the wisdom of coming on this venture.

Then it was off to Berea, KY. We arrived here by 5:15 and found a nice, inexpensive motel for the next two nights. This evening was spent sorting out all the KY relatives and attaching them to our map. Tomorrow - Boonesborough and the Garrard Co. Historical Society.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 125

The day began with a crisp walk in the cold dawn. The reds, yellows and oranges from the maple and sweet gum trees lined my route up the hill. Quiet roads glistening with a full moon and the sun's new rays made a welcoming path.

After breakfast Anne and I made for the Visitor's Center and signed up for a trolley tour. We took in the sites through the town's rolling hills. In downtown Asheville we hit a book store, art galleries, and a natural foods restaurant for a light lunch. We visited a funky general store and then headed for Biltmore Village. Wrong area -full of chain stores when all we wanted were interesting folk art. The trolley pickup was an hour away so we decided to hoof it to the next trolley stop, see the historic home and get ahead of the game. WRONG! Over the bridge, along the railroad tracks, up the hill, through the community college campus, up the hill, and finally found the McDowell-Smith House - about 10 minutes after the trolley left. We spent an hour covering about 3 miles and saved ourselves no time. However, we did wear off all of our lunch and had a fine sheen of salty sweat on our makeup.

The McDowell House was interesting with several periods of furnishings presented although the tour guide was a bit boring. The trolley finally arrived and we were thrilled to just sit down and head back to the Visitor's Center. From there we drove to the Thomas Wolfe house. They have a nice video on his life and the writing of Look Homeward Angel. We then had a nice tour with the state parks guide - a knowledgeable English-major/graduate from Georgia.

Finally back to the hotel and a simple supper from the cooler. Tomorrow - off to the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 124

Anne and I managed to get out of the house by 8:30 this morning! Fiona was cranky and wouldn't accept my fingers. I would hit the s button and she would input d. I pushed E, she recorded w. GRRR! She finally redeemed herself and got us safely to Salisbury - Rowan County. Salisbury is a small town (15,000 people) but has a booming downtown, lots of art, young and oldsters alike frequenting the shops and businesses.

We went to the marvelous public library. The second floor is devoted to genealogy. The Kennedy surname files had one tantalizing bit on our relative - Thomas K. At some point in the 1760s-1770s, Thomas was caught in an Indian fight and wrestled with a warrior tumbling head over tea kettle down a hill before finally killing him. Whew - nice to be 20 and fit! We also found dozens of land grants - military and purchases - that Kennedys, Holts, Stephens, Robertsons and Robinsons made in Kentucky. This will help us pinpoint the areas to search because each grant specifies the creek or waterway on which the grant was given.

During the afternoon, we made our way into the mountains. The leaves are at their peak - brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. When we stopped at a national park Artists Exhibit I collected a whole hand full of leaves and have them pressed in the AAA guidebook. Tomorrow is a free day to explore the area and mountainsides.

Uncle Carl seems to be surviving without Anne - attending a showing of Boris Godunov. Happy Birthday to Rachel - Next year is the big 4-0! My Karl is in Minnesota at a wedding - hope there is no snow. Mom, Liz and Ann are plotting to take over the horse world - hope today's meetings were successful.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 123

Anne and I made it through all the binders! I have about 20 to take home with me. We emptied one, trashed another. There are nearly 20 binders of photos and memorabilia from my grandparent's trips. Anne will take samplings, winnowing down the stack to 1. Then she will tackle splitting up all the photos from my mother's generation. The goal - by end of winter - is for her to be down to a manageable 20 binders - or so......

I have wonderful letters, a poem written by a Civil War prisoner of war, and lots of photos. Now the issue is how do I organize and present a coherent story. Anne and Carl are both creative so we have had a lot of discussions on this issue. I am still thinking but hopefully will get some writing time during my last week so I can at least create a framework.

Meanwhile, Anne and I are off to Rowan County tomorrow, looking for any information on relatives moving west towards Kentucky. We then will head (Monday) through the Cumberland gap and start serious grave site reconnoitering near Boonesborough and Lexington. From there we will head towards Louisville, Cloverport, Stephensport, and Henderson. We have a lot of area to cover in the next 10 days. I hope the weather holds. Around Nov 5, I will head back towards Frankfurt and spend some in-depth library time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 122

Fun day in the NC sun with aunts and uncles. Sightseeing, walking, eating, shopping, eating, visiting with friends, eating - I am stuffed. Along the way, we saw Hugh and Diane's beautiful campsite on Jordan Lake. The camping spaces are tucked in amongst the trees and quite hidden from each other. The lake front is totally owned by the state so access to the water is easy.

This evening we went to the Roost in Fearrington Village. They have evening beer, cheese, wine, and music outside under the stars. Many of Anne and Carl's friends dropped by including Ann Angers - Hugh and Anne's childhood friend from Westfield, NJ. I haven't seen her in 20 years and she hasn't changed a bit. Lots of fun - and more eating. I will have to walk six miles in the morning to make a dent in my caloric intake. Tomorrow - back at the genealogy information and photos as Anne and sort what to take, what to save and what to send to others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 121

Just a short blog tonight. I spent most of the day at the library but didn't find anything too exciting. I have an approximate location for Michael Holt's plantation and property purchased in the 1750s, 60s and 70s - just down the road from Aunt Anne. I know where the Holt's were buried - across from the almshouse (do we even have those anymore?) but the tombstone inscriptions are no longer readable. I know that Richard Stephens' land grant in Kentucky was 4,666 acres - not 10,000 or 100,000. And I was able to handle 200 year old estate papers belonging to Joseph Kennedy - my gggg uncle - who was the first physician in Mecklenburg County, NC. Not a bad day's work.

I arrived back in Pittsboro about 4pm followed shortly by Aunt Diane and Uncle Hugh. They are travelling in their motor home between their summer location in Vermont and their winter home in Florida. So nice to see them and catch up on what they have been doing since I saw them in July. I also spoke with my mom tonight. She has safely arrived home in Seattle after putting 5,400 miles on her motor home (round trip to Kentucky).

Tomorrow is a play day with aunts and uncles, then Anne and I are off to Kentucky on Saturday. - Yahoo!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 120

The NC State Library and Archives is the perfect set-up for genealogists. The mezzanine level is devoted to family records with 2-3 helpful librarians staffing the room six days per week - and xerox copies are only 10 cents a page!!!! Upstairs on the second floor are the closed stacks and manuscripts. I will head there tomorrow to find some loose (unbound) deed and probate records.

Today I focused on finding traces of the Holt and Kennedy families in NC. The Kennedy's spent less than a generation here and almost all moved onto Kentucky. There are few land records for them as the area they occupied (Rowan County) was in the flux of moving from English patent land to statehood. Most residents merely occupied the land and at statehood (1778) stood in line for a deed. By that time Kennedys were already headed for KY. I have some land deeds for Kennedys but mostly they seemed to put up their horses and cows as collateral to purchase more property and never really made a go of it here.

In contrast, the Holt's occupied land in Orange County - the Raleigh area. They were here for several generations. I have probate records for both Michael I and Michael II and confirmation that Joseph was born here but moved to Kentucky. Michael II accumulated quite a bit of property including some down here in Chatham County where Anne and Carl live. No one seems to have grave sites in either family. I think they were probably buried on family land and the tombstones were long ago destroyed.

After my research, I headed to Durham and Duke University. The daughter of good friends, is a minister at the Duke Chapel. I was lucky enough to be there for a service she officiated and then she gave me a private tour of the chapel. We were going to take the tiny elevator to the top of the tower but figured that since the repairman was stuck in it, we would pass. Instead, we ate Thai food and caught up with each other's lives. A nice day all around.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 119

Anne and I spent much of the day going through notebooks. These are ones I had already examined and which have pieces relevant to family history. Now we have to decide what she wants to copy, what is coming home with me, and what might go to other cousins. Some notebooks go quickly. Some are a slow sort and decision process. Of course we interrupted this effort with a nice lunch with several people from the new library Anne help build.

This evening we enjoyed more notebook sorting. We found a letter from gg Frank H Williams to his parents in 1877. A nice accompaniment to old photos. I retrieved some letters from my dad to my grandparents. Dad was always such a good letter writer. It is fun to re-read the 40 year old news.

Tomorrow I am back in research mode at the state archives and then will have dinner with Meghan Feldmeyer, daughter of my good friend Elissa. Onward and upward!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 118

Today was easy - just hanging out with Karl. We did some car servicing and then spent two hours at he airborn services museum in Fayetteville. If you ever get a chance to visit, this is a wonderful facility. It is sponsored by the Army and is open to the public a no charge. It traces the air services, particularly from the paratrooper's viewpoint, from its beginnings in WW II to present day. The exhibits flow easily from one to the next with realistic sounds, detailed explanations, good maps, and contextual verbiage. We could locate where my dad parachuted in to St. Mere Eglise and where Chuck's father was located in the Pacific. Very informative.

I left Karl about 3:45 and headed back to Anne and Carl's in Pittsboro. We caught up on the doings and had a nice dinner. Tomorrow - back to genealogy with several days in the NC state library this week. I hope to make good progress

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 117

Just short tonight. Karl and I had a wonderful day. We ran errands and then headed for the countryside. Near Mount Gilead, NC we made our way to the Town Creek Indian Buriel Mounds. This site has a 2,000 year history that began simply and graduated to square pyramid formations used for spiritual ceremonies. The tribes in around 1200 - 1400 AD had lovely pottery work, built palisades, and constructed daub and wattle buildings with smooth plaster interiors that kept the homes and meeting areas cool and created surfaces for painting.

Late in the afternoon Karl and I toured through the countryside just enjoying each other's company. Good Mexican food for dinner and interesting PBS this evening. A really nice time that future generations studying us will only be able to guess at - unless they read the blogs. :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 116

It is Friday and has been a day of odds and ends. Anne and I met with a friend of hers this morning - Sue Clark has a number of original journals from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s regarding her family in Kentucky. It turns out that we are related - very distantly. The same generation and family that produced John and Robert Letcher (both governors) was also the birth family of her relative - the 12th child in that family. That girl was orphaned at a young age and Gov. Robert Letcher and his wife took her in and raised her. It was fun to see the family journals and hear some of their family stories. It is a small world.

This afternoon I sorted all 95 binders into separate piles as they require different decisions. Of course I found one binder I had overlooked. It contained a lot of background information on the Sargood family in Australia so it was good reading.

Late in the afternoon I headed 90 minutes south to Fayetteville, NC. This is Karl's new home. We had a great BBQ dinner, grabbed some groceries and are now ensconced in his lovely apartment. I have a huge bedroom and my own private bath!! We should have a fun weekend.

No more genealogy reports until Monday night but will let you know what trouble we get into.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 115

It has been a long day. Lots of rain this morning. At noon, some people Anne met on her Costa Rican trip with grandchildren joined us for lunch. In between I finished looking through the remaining binders and photographing items for posterity.

The most wonderful find of the day were a series of letters from my grandfather to my grandmother the summer before their marriage in 1928. We knew Gramps as a solid businessman in the steel pipe industry. Maggie was the consummate hostess and community volunteer. In the letters, Gramps shows his passion and love for the woman of his dreams. Maggie must have felt like the most cherished fiancee in the world. The letters were saved in plastic sleeves in a binder. Maggie obviously intended for us to read them after she was gone so we would understand what an extraordinary marriage they had for more than 60 years. She would have never been able to say the words herself.

Other great finds were a newspaper Maggie wrote in elementary school which includes an original story, grocery ads, and a social column. War letters between Maggie and a young woman in the British army corps during WWII were fascinating. Photos of various gg grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles are always wonderful. Below is my GG grandfather Edward Atkinson and his wife Nannie Letcher Atkinson, their living children and all their grandchildren in 1919.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 114

It has been a long day looking at family albums. Many are photo albums of the current generations. Some are "trip" albums from my grandparents. Then there are the gems - the unobtrusive old black binder with Geils family information. This is our great-grandmother's family on Grandpa Williams' side. They left Germany in the late 1800s for New Rochelle, New York. Everyone seemed to have had at least two marriages and the photographs often contain wives, sisters, step-children and neighbors. It is hard to sort them out. We are making progress. Thank goodness Gramps labeled many of the photos plus made a trip to Germany to try and trace a few generations.

The next gem was an album labeled honeymoon 1928, Europe 1937, etc. The first section contained the diary notes Gramps made while he and Maggie were on their honeymoon. It wasn't anything I expected to find but was fun to read - nothing racy. I did learn that Gramps called our grandmother Margo. I don't think that nickname lasted long. I never heard him refer to her as anything but Margaret.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the albums - took almost 500 digital photos today of documents (including GG Atkinson's Spanish-American War enlistment papers and a relative's character reference written by Rutherford B. Hayes) and pictures. Labeling the photos will be the killer.

One last item that Anne brought out was a beaded flapper dress - all black and crystal beads in intricate patterns. The picture doesn't do it justice - and it doesn't seem to want to upload tonight. Another time. We think the dress belonged to Maggie (my grandmother) but are not sure. It is very heavy and I can't imagine moving or sitting in it.

We had a friend over for dinner and Anne is hosting a couple and their friends tomorrow for lunch. Busy days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 113

Today we have mystery ladies. We have a lovely photo of 3 ladies in about 1850 or 1860 wearing their finest. The photo is on glass or porcelain and framed in an elaborate case. Our best guess is that one of the women is Grandpa Williams' grandmother Anna Hinken and the other two are her sisters. We also believe the photo was taken in Germany. If any relatives know more about this photo, please email me.

Also found today was the wedding photo for my great grandmother, Grace Catherine Geils (Grandpa Williams' mother) who was married Oct. 12, 1900. This is certainly "Grannie Williams" at her best. Later photos are much grimmer. Thanks to Aunt Anne, we also found and labeled photos of Grace's sister Marguerite and half sister Agnes plus her half brothers John and Henry. These have always been mystery people to me so it was nice to put faces to names.

We also found a photo of Grandpa Williams that looks much like my Karl, dozens of photos of my mom as a baby which I had never seen, and photos of my grandfather as a child in Florida. Much fun. In between all this, I managed to have the car serviced, see cousin Helen's soccer game (they won 4-0), enjoy a great car ride and conversation with cousin Matthew, and have a great dinner (including serenading by Helen and her friend) with Cathy and Rick's family. A day surrounded by family. And not to forget - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LIZ

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 112

I am drowning in family information and photographs. It is fabulous. I can't wait to open the next notebook. New names, dates and clues have emerged on the Steretts, Haynes', and Jennings, - lots of wonderful leads and tantlizing threads. It is late and I don't have the several hours to label everything and write a long blog. Instead I will leave you with my favorite photo of the day - my great great grandmother Nancy Letcher Atkinson and her sister Ella - probably taken in he 1920s (despite their dresses).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 111

Here I am on Day 111 on 10/10/10. Somehow this should be auspices.

I made the easy drive from Richmond, VA to Pittsboro, NC. Aunt Anne, Uncle Carl and I had peaceful lunch and chat on their back deck. We then drove towards Raleigh to my cousin Cathy and Rick's home for dinner. My son Karl drove up from Fayetteville to join us. I was great to see him!! We had fun catching up and enjoyed the balmy evening on the back deck. Tomorrow, Anne and I start on the genealogy. She has 95 albums for me to look at. I may be here all winter!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 110

Today was my last one in Virginia. Eight hours searching and copying as much microfilm and family data as possible. From printed sources I found a lineage for Edna Withers, the wife of Gen. Thomas Kennedy of NC and Kentucky. We have never had information on her and now have four additional generations. The probate and marriage records need to be checked but those details were included with the genealogy so it provides a good paper trail for research. Like much of our family, the Withers' go back to 1700 when they emigrated from England. Like much of our family, they married those they knew. Edna's parents, William Withers and Elizabeth Barbee, were first cousins. His mother and her father were siblings. Also like much of our family, they spent several generations in Virginia before winding up in Kentucky about 1775.

The Letcher family continues to be elusive. Despite having well known progeny, Giles and Hannah Hughes Letcher are tough to trace. Giles Letcher emigrated from Ireland to America about 1740. He established himself as a merchant in Petersburg, VA (same as Edward Cunningham 50 years later). Shortly thereafter, he lost all his business and personal property in a fire. I found and copied a land deed - 137 acres - purchased from James Wads for 37 pounds on 17 Nov 1741. Giles was living in Henrico County (the area around Richmond including Petersburg) but the land purchase was in Goochland County, where he ended up moving. So far - no marriage records on Hannah or Giles. Also no will, no probate - a bit elusive.

With no viable business from their father, the sons earned their living via farming and manual labor. Son William married his cousin (on the Hughes side) - Elizabeth Perkins. Of course William's brother Stephen Giles Letcher also married his cousin, another Elizabeth Perkins, as we learned yesterday. I now have a copy of the marriage registration - 20 Jan. 1767 - between SG and Elizabeth. William married and then headed towards Kentucky but stopped on the east side of the mountains. He built a home in 1780 in the SW corner of Patrick County, VA. Unfortunately, Tories were active in the area and objected to William's support of the new nation. William and his family were threatened, burned out and in August of 1780, William was assassinated.

On to better thoughts. I also searched through Mecklenburg County records. I have his marriage bond signed by John Holloway and Richard Hanserd for 50 pounds. A bond was provided before each marriage in case there was someone who objected to the marriage and the case was brought to court. From all the ones I have read, the bonds seem to be posted only a day or two before the marriage. If no one objects and the marriage takes place, the signers are off the hook for the bond. I also have a copy of the permission letter submitted by Ann Starling's father so she and John could marry. Also copied are various court orders for Ballard and Holloway relatives, helping document their everyday lives. And finally - I have the will of James Holloway (brother or father, I think, to our John, Sr.) dated 14 May 1778. His wife had probably predeceased him because she is not mentioned. His property is divided between his children - a daughter Ashley and his son - wait for it - ARCHER!! You can never get away from those family names. :-)

Tomorrow - off to North Carolina.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 109

Today was sunny and bright. I was off to Goochland County and its Historical Society. The place was hopping but the volunteers bent over backwards to help the several of us doing research. The best news of the day was a volunteer who came in specially to talk about photographing graves at Howard's Neck. This individual has taken on the challenge of photographing every grave stone in the county. However, he has never had a valid reason (e.g. a relative like me) to request permission from the owners. His wife went to school with the daughter of the owners (Hobsons). Both Hobsons have passed away. The daughter (who must be in her late 60s) lives in Goochland and her brother live at Howard's Neck. The wife will call the friend who will call the brother and the Matt the volunteer will photograph the graves and then - he will email me copies of the photos! Yea!

I didn't find anything new in the surname files. They don't even have one for the Letchers. However, the Historical Society did have parish records (everyone was Church of England) from the minister who served the county's 3 churches. I found the marriage record for Stephen G. Letcher and Elizabeth Perkins - 22 Jan. 1767. I also found birth and baptism records for some of their children - Benjamin - 22 Nov 1767; John (who became governor of VA) - 19 Dec 1769; Hannah - 5 Nov 1771; Stephen Giles - 26 Jan. 1774; Mary - 23 April 1776. All these dates are new information for our records. FYI - Hannah and Mary must have died as young children because they don't show up in later records with the 12 living children. Also another son (Robert P. Letcher) became the governor of KY - amazing!

From the same source I found death records for Constantine and Stephen Perkins (6 G and 5 G grandfathers) and the marriage record for Stephen Giles Letcher's sister Sarah. Now if I could just find some record of their parents, Giles Letcher and Hannah Hughes.

In a separate set of publications I found the marriage registration for John Holloway Jr. and Anne Starling in Mecklenburg County with the permission by her father William Starling. I also found some tantalizing references to Rebecca Ballard's family (5G grandmother and mother of John Holloway Jr. It may be that Rebecca was born here rather than England! I found various references to a William and John Ballard as early area settlers (by 1750) with 700-1400 acres each. - More looking.

I was back to Richmond by 5 but spent another 2 hours setting up research for tomorrow, my last day in VA.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 108

Just a few quick notes tonight.

It was another long day. No exciting finds just lots of dotting "i"s and crossing "t"s. A few tidbits.

1. I finally finished the relevant Perkins/Hughes/Letcher files. There are tons more but I think I got most of the most critical details. I did find that Mr. William Robertson Perkins (author of all this paperwork) was a NY lawyer in the 20s and 30s with an office on 5th Ave. He hired a researcher for at least 12-24 months to track down every deed, will and court record in the relevant VA counties. In addition, Mr. Perkins benefit ted from decades of research by Ms. Lucie Perkins Stone, a college professor who had worked on the Perkins family genealogy. We are lucky to have so much leg work done.

2. I have a copy of Edward Cunningham's will. His 3 sons each received $40,000 plus slaves and property after he passed away in 1836. Within 4 years, all the boys plus Edward's brother Richard had to effectively declare bankruptcy. Changes in the tobacco market and excessive spending did them all in. Businesses were sold, partnerships dissolved and plantations broken up.

3. The inventory valuation from Richard Cunningham's will was a great look at daily items. Here are a few - values in pounds and shillings: 23 double bolted pad locks (= 7/6); 4 pair money scales (5/6); 2 damaged ink stands (5 cents); 1 pound of glue (2); 146 pounds of chewing tobacco (9 pounds).

4. No luck on finding information on Robertsons, Robinsons, Haynes', Stephens - hopefully I can make some progress on Saturday.

5. Finally, we have a copy of Edward Cunningham's Oath of Allegiance. This was a declaration immigrants had to make to the new country, America. It effectively was their naturalization record.

Tomorrow - off to Goochland County!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 107

It was a long, great day but I am exhausted tonight.

The morning started with a workout and laundry. Then I was off to the Virginia Historical Society. Located on Richmond's north side, the neighborhoods are full of lovely, large town houses, well maintained and shaded by lots of trees. A nice contrast to my airport location.

The Historical Society librarians had the pictures of Howard's Neck (Edward Cunningham's home) ready for me. The house was designed by the same architect used on his home in Richmond and who designed Monticello for Jefferson and the Washington Monument. Edward purchased the property (848 acres) in 1807 for $15,333 and then had the house constructed about 1817.

I requested several other books and files, looking for potential family threads. I found 6-8 letters - 200 year old correspondence from Edward Cunningham and John Randolph (Roanoke and Washington, DC). They are difficult to read but I photographed them anyway. These two individuals were obviously involved in many trade deals and politics as well as being good friends.

I then went looking for the Letchers. There is actually very little information at the Historical Society on the early Letchers - most of it focuses on John Letcher, Gov of VA during the Civil War. However, I found a file called the William Robertson Perkins papers with references to Letcher and Perkins genealogy. After 15 or so minutes, the librarians started hauling in large boxes - 8 of them. The contain 100+ files each stuffed with letters and deeds and genealogy from 150-250 years old. The head librarian apologized because only about 25% of the material is sorted and organized into cross-referenced categories. I told her I was looking for the connection between Letchers and Perkins (Stephen Giles Letcher married Elizabeth Perkins - 5g grandparents on the Atkinson side). She picked a couple of boxes and a couple of additional files that she thought would be the best bet. And so I started.

Thank goodness most of the material was typed and not hand written. What I had to read focused on the Perkins family which emigrated to the US in 1640. Reading page by page, I finally found Elizabeth Perkins married to _________ Letcher. Right time frame but the dates were a bit screwy and she only had one child with him before marrying a second time. Hummmm. That didn't fit what we know and there was no reference to KY. So, more files. Finally I discovered that Elizabeth married Col. William Letcher - Stephen Giles Letcher's brother. So how could both boys marry Elizabeth Perkins (and no, her second marriage was to a Mr. Ellis)? More files, more reading, more sorting through family lines all over Virginia and into Tennessee. I wondered if I was wasting my time and thought about moving to other manuscripts. However, the Perkins information was compelling and I figured at least the oldest data would probably apply to us. Finally - gold. The right Elizabeth Perkins married to Stephen Giles Letcher. Confirmed by her father's will where he gives her a "negro" and SGL, his son-in-law, is an executor of the estate. It turns out that the 2 Elizabeth's were cousins and both did indeed marry the two Letcher brothers.

Now I must quote from some other material in the Perkins file - it is oddly appropriate: "The Perkins family is supposed to be Russian in its origin. This seems highly probably as the names Nicholas, Peter and Constantine frequently appear in its genealogical records [I got very excited here - new, non-English blood!]. The American branch however is said to have come immediately from Wales, their ancestors having emigrated from Russia to that country." Oh well. Another quote "The members of the family have intermarried a great deal. Each generation following the custom already established by their ancestors." Oi!

One other interesting item. The Cunninghams at Howard's Neck resided in Goochland County, VA. Also in Goochland were the Letchers, Perkins, and Hughes (from whom we derive the James Hughes Letcher middle name and who married into the Perkins family). Also of note - Howard's Neck was originally the property of the Hughes family who built a home there in the 1760s (which still stands). The files I read also confirm that Benjamin Thomas Letcher married Margaret Robertson (not Robinson) and that her parents were Alexander Robertson and Margaret Robinson (yes - now you know why I am having trouble sorting out that group!).

Back to the Historical Society tomorrow. I have more files to read.