Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Who Was Joshua Stevens and What Were He and Solomon Kemp Doing in My Files?


It all started as I was going through things in the attic, doing the "50 Year Purge", trying to get years of files, folders, and contents of forgotten boxes under control. While going through a folder with my father's name on it, I found several things I remembered my mother giving to me years ago, but then I find a surprise. There, in the folder, along with my dad's military papers and a few old newspaper clippings was an envelope marked in my handwriting "An old deed". Inside that envelope I found this brittle, stained sheet of paper, apparently a document to record the sale of land by Solomon Kemp to a Michael G..... in 1842.


Sale Receipt for Solomon Kemp, 1842

I also found a second, smaller envelope, this one labeled in my mother's writing, "Old deed with seal attached". When I carefully opened the envelope, this is what I found.


Deed to Georgia Land Lottery Draw for Joshua Stephens, 1832

With a quick glance, I realized that I was looking at pieces of an original deed or document relating to a draw from the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. And I knew I needed to learn as much as I could about these documents and the people involved. And I needed to come up with a research plan for gathering information about these documents beyond the obvious reading of the words on those pieces of paper.

In years past, someone had tried to tape together the fragile pieces of the Stevens document. Today, the fragments are almost too brittle to touch, so I tried to handle them with as gently as possible. After photographing the two documents, I felt the next step was to transcribe them. Having the transcriptions gave me sheets of paper that were much easier to read, papers I didn't need to be concerned about getting stains, spills, or anything else to cause further damage to the original documents.

So, here I am about 24 hours later, actually starting to learn a little about Joshua Stevens. Here is what I have come across thus far.
  • Step one, check in my Family Tree Maker software for a Joshua Stevens. I did not have that exact name among ancestors or relatives. I have one Stevens male, no given name, who married into my mother's side of the family in the late 1770s according to the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records found on Ancestry.com, but I doubted if he would have been part of the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. Other Stevens family members were from a marriage into my father's side of the family in 1899, so I am ruling out an established Stevens connection for the present time.
  • I've decided to start a separate tree in Family Tree Maker for Joshua Stevens. This way whenever I come across anything noteworthy, I have a place to record it. 
    • My first entry, beyond his name, was to record the Property fact that he drew Lot 946 in the Fifteenth District of the Second Section of Cherokee County, Georgia. 
    • Next I added that at the time of the draw, he was a resident of Madison County, Georgia.  
  • Both my family and my husband's had members who had been involved in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832. My first research was to look at James F Smith's fabulous book, The Cherokee Land Lottery, Containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery, With an Engraved Map of Each District. This treasure is available to view through both HathiTrust and The Internet Archive or abstracted on Ancestry.com. 
    • Imagine my surprise when I learned there was NO map for the Fifteenth District, Second Section of the drawing, NO list in number of draw order for the lottery winners! This was due to the fact that this district, along with some others, was considered to be a "Gold District". No gold was promised on the land, just the feeling that there "might" be gold there. Information for lottery winners for Gold Districts turned out to be in another book, one I haven't been able to find available online.
    • Thanks to www.worldcat.org I've found that copies of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery were available at several libraries around metro Atlanta, so heading to one of them and finding the book is on my To-Do List on a future trip to Georgia.
  • I located a Joshua Stephens living in Madison County, Georgia, in the 1830 census and also in the 1820 Madison County census. No success, however, in locating a Joshua Stephens anywhere in Georgia in 1840 ... yet
  • The Georgia Virtual Vault presents a number of digitized resources, the originals of which are housed at the Georgia Archives. One resource is their database of "Georgia Colonial and Headright Plan Index, 1735-1866". If Joshua Stephens was in Madison County Georgia in the early 1800s, there was a good chance that he had received land as a settler moving into the area.  Through this database, I learned that Joshua Stephens had received several grants totalling over 700 acres in Madison County so he was already an established land holder at the time of the Cherokee Land Lottery.
  • Next stop was FamilySearch.org where I looked through their collection of "Georgia, Headright and Bounty Documents, 1783-1909". This time I had the actual digitized documents to read including:
    • a survey request to lay off 30 acres for Joshua in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, in 1797 
    • Land Warrant #21 that gave Joshua 300 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1813 and
    • Land Warrant #174 that gave Joshua 450 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1826
  • My next research steps will be to find out what happened to Joshua Stephens after 1832. This means checking resources such as
    • FindAGrave, BillionGraves, WikiTree to find a possible death date
    • Wills and Probate records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org to perhaps learn what happened to his land after his death
    • Fold3.com to see if Joshua had any military service that might have been the catalyst for acquiring his various land grants
    • Look for website, etc. where I can locate lot 946 on a present day map. This might help me have a clue as to who may have lived there.
Now for my Georgia To-Do List
  • Visit a metro Atlanta library, get a copy of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery, and learn more about Joshua's fortunate draw.
  • Check in Cherokee County Georgia to learn who later bought the land from Joshua Stephens and try to trace the land's ownership into the Perkinson family.
  • After I finally figure out why I even have these things, I want to contact county or state archives to see if an Archive or local history center might be a more fitting home for this interesting old document, especially as I am not aware on any Cherokee Lottery Land still owned by our Perkinson family.
As for the 1842 document signed by Solomon Kemp, that will have to wait for another research spurt. Looks like I have enough to keep me busy, out of trouble (and the attic), and even writing a few more blog posts for quite a while.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It Never Hurts to Go Looking :Taking Time to Visit Enon


Enon Cemetery, Woodstock, Georgia, 4 June 2019
personal photograph


It was one of those perfect days for a cemetery visit, not yet Georgia summer hot, cloudy but not rainy, and an uncrowded midweek morning. I had visited several times over the past 20 years to take pictures, but this time I had another purpose. I knew that my relatives were buried in a family plot, but I wanted to record exactly WHO was WHERE and to be certain that I had a picture of each marker in the plot. It was time for me to make a map of the family plot.

Although it had been close to 10 years since my last visit to Enon, it was easy to locate the Perkinson family plot. It is the plot with the tall obelisk near its center.




Perkinson Monument
personal photo


Armed with pen and paper and my cell phone camera, I arrived at Enon Cemetery midmorning and was pleased to see that paved parking places were now available just next to the family plot. I decided to work left to right, front to back, to document all of those buried in the plot. 



Rough sketch of the Perkinson family plot



My quick sketch of the plot included a number and the name of the one buried there. It was not an architectural or even scaled drawing by any means, but it is enough for me to see who is buried where and to consider some relationships. The numbers on the sketch made it easy to locate the corresponding photo in my phone's camera roll for that day. The arrow pointing right at grave 24 refers to three more graves in that row, graves which I documented on another page. Later I plan to upload any new photos to BillionGraves.com so that all of the burials in the plot will be recorded in their database.




As I walked around the plot and made notes, I came across this section which I do not remember ever noticing before. It took looking at all three relatively recent markers to see the family connection among the unfamiliar surnames. And the box of artificial flowers here and on a few other graves was a touch I had not seen often at Enon. It made me wonder if there had recently been a Decoration Day at Enon. Decoration Day, a long standing tradition in the rural south, is a time for families to gather at the burial place of ancestors, clean the cemetery of weeds, leaves, etc., and perhaps leave flowers in memory of loved ones. DigitalHeritage.org has an interesting article about this observance.

Finally, once home, as I was writing the detailed list of the burials, it was interesting to determine who was the first one to be buried in the plot at Enon Cemetery. The first family member buried in the plot was six month old Willie Perkinson, a younger brother of my grandfather, who was buried at Enon in 1883. In 1894, Walter Dean, a grandson of my second great grandparents, was buried there at the age of four months. Then followed the interments of various Perkinson and Dean family members and relatives up to as recently as 2017. Perhaps I need to start referring to this plot as the Perkinson-Dean Family Plot in recognition of the blending of the two families.

Lessons Learned:
  • Taking the time to look at all the graves and markers made me want to be certain of the family relationship of each person buried there. Now that I'm home, I am listing each person buried in the family plot, their birth and death dates, relationship to anyone buried in the family plot, and a notation for any direct ancestor. Having this information along with a neater version of the plot map will help me. I plan to add the redrawn plot map, the relationship list, and labeled thumbnail photos to my Perkinson Family file folder. Plus, a copy will go to my brother. As the old saying goes, it's hard to know the players without a program.
  • There were a few recent burials in the family plot for whom I need to document their relationships in my genealogy software.
  • It was a time to pause and reflect when I saw the graves of six young children buried among the 34 family graves. I wondered if these young deaths corresponded to pandemics sweeping the area or if they were caused by genetic problems or undiagnosed health issues.
  • The variety of last names - Barnes, Dean, Drinkard, Felton, McAfee, Perkinson - give this plot the feeling of the small town where most of those buried had lived at some point in their life.
  • As I explore some of the relationships, I am reminded once again that there may be something new to learn when we revisit a genealogy resource. Documents, photos, even grave markers can continue to provide additional information when we take another look; they might even lead to new questions to research.
  • My decision to include a visit to Enon came as I was planning to visit the Woodstock Public Library, just across the street. My purpose for going to the library related to my quest to find an elusive marriage verification I needed for my DAR membership application. Still no luck finding any marriage information, even in among obituaries on microfilm of old newspapers, but the trip to Enon was a worthwhile endeavor. Combining research missions helped me have success in one area even if the other task was less fruitful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Getting This Party Started

This year is going to be a special one in my hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee. Our town, being 150 years old, will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2019, and the party has begun.


So much to see, hear, and do at this party.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, several hundred citizens, along with local politicians, a beauty queen, and a member of Congress all gathered in downtown Johnson City to get our party started. The focus for this event was the display of items previously placed in a time capsule back in 1969. This capsule had been created during the celebration of Johnson City's centennial. Wanting to look at the capsule's contents was enough to get me out of the house to attend the event. I'm so glad I did.


Metal sign from the actual 1969 time capsule

A portion of the sign from the time capsule was on display. I learned that the capsule had been installed during the construction of the high school which my children later attended. The accompanying list of artifacts showed that items ran the gamut from serious to fun.


There was an impressive variety of items in the 1969 time capsule.

The line to gaze at the items from the capsule moved slowly, but no one seemed to mind as virtually everyone could find something interesting in the display. There were items pertaining to city government such as the former city flag, a 1969 city map, a copy of the 1969 city budget and a key to the city. Also on display were photos and information about the city's hospitals of the day, our public school system, the two local colleges, and the university.

Admittedly, the line slowed as we passed by the displays relating to everyday life, things like a 1969 Sears catalog, newspapers with historical headlines like "Men Walk on Moon", samples of products made in our town, and some popular children's toys. There was a fascinating scrapbook of local newspaper articles covering the variety of events celebrating the 1969 centennial, and there always seemed to be school age students leafing through its pages. I was excited to learn that the time capsule items will remain on display in the downtown area for some time so that others can continue to take a closer look at our city's more recent history.





Another part of the official program included the reading of a letter written by the 1969 mayor of the town to the 2019 Johnson City mayor. Our present mayor, a woman with a distinguished record of public service, didn't seem to mind reading the salutation, "Dear Sir" and graciously accepted the letter's warm wishes for success and prosperity for our city in the year 2019.

My favorite part was seeing the number of children and younger families at the party. They would browse the numerous displays of photos of churches, businesses, and schools from the town's 150 year history. And there would usually be an older person close by who was glad to answer any of their questions about the past. I was one of them as I answered a few questions relating to the picture of my church's building back in the early 1900s.

It was interesting to see photos of city churches throughout the years.

Another fun spot was a craft table, complete with small cardboard boxes, markers, and stickers, whatever a child might want to make and decorate his or her own time capsule box to take home, fill, and then open at some point in the future. Seeing the kids working on their boxes made me wish my grandchildren had been in town and could make a box for themselves.


Making your own time capsule was a great family project.

There was no Photo Booth at this party. Instead, people could record a message to the future to be included in the 2019 time capsule. It turned out to be another great family activity. No one seemed to mind the spectators who gathered to watch and to hear the various individuals and groups contribute a 30 second message, a few even adding a little song and dance to their message. Hopefully, 2069 technology will permit these messages to be played and enjoyed in the future.


Recording a greeting for the 2069 Bicentennial

And the party wasn't just things to look at. We had a sing-along to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", a hit song from 1969. We celebrated as three generations of a family blow out the three giant candles on the birthday cake. And what's a party without cake! Everyone was invited to sample the delicious birthday cake, made by a local baker who just happens to be scheduled to be on a Food Network program in the coming months. It all made for a pretty good party.

I'm already looking forward to attending future sesquicentennial events. The more, the merrier.


Display from the George Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University


Some Genealogy Musings:
  • The photo displays were well organized and labeled. The hard work of others provided lots of information in an interesting and accessible manner. In a similar vein, when we share old family photos, it might garner more interest from family members if we, too, include a little bit of the Who, What, When, and Where to accompany some of the pictures.
  • It was great to see the time capsule activity available for children. We just might have some new historians on our hands at the bicentennial in 2069, ones whose interest started with a simple craft idea.
  • Our public library had a display of some local history materials from the Tennessee Room, their genealogy collection area. There was also a member of the library staff present to talk with people about the library's genealogy resources as well as to provide information about our local genealogy society. This was a simple, effective marketing tool.
  • Additional photos and resources were provided for viewing at the party by East Tennessee State University and by the Archives of Appalachia which is housed at the university. This was another example of increasing exposure within the community as to the variety of historical (and potentially genealogical) resources available at the local level. It also spoke loudly of the important of providing accessibility to such resources.
  • The party was another reminder that we, too, are part of making history every day.

#JohnsonCity150 #citycelebrations #JCTNsesquicentennial


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Delight Is In the Details!



Will of Capt. William Richardson (1)


It was a chilly, dreary fall day, one just made for spending time online, searching for new family information. I decided to start by checking on some Ancestry hints mentioned in a weekly email. Not expecting to find anything of great note, I ended up being transported back to colonial days and learning a lot of information about my 8th Great-Uncle, William Richardson, thanks to his detailed will.

William Richardson, "being sick and weak of body" had written and signed his will on 1 April 1776.(2)  Just two days after the colonies in America had declared their independence from Britain, William died on 6 Jul 1776.(3) Immediately I wondered if William and his family had even been aware of that momentous event in American history. How long would it have taken for the news to travel from Philadelphia to New Hampshire?

His will was then presented for probate in the court of Rockingham, New Hampshire on 7 November 1776, with the final inventories recorded on 27 Nov 1776.(2) Generally, my research seemed to show wills being presented for probate within a short time of the death, sometimes even within days. Had the changes in American government caused it to take four months for William's will to be presented to the court, or was this just a case of finding the will?

The treasures of his will came from the numerous details it contained. I loved the view of colonial life it presented as William said he would
"will and bequeath to Elizabeth my dearly beloved wife two cows such as she should choose out of my stock of cows to be at her own disposal. And a horse to be kept for her to ride to the Publick Worship and elsewhere as she should have occasion, said horse to be kept at my Homestead Farm by my Executors that he may be convenient for her use during her natural life. I also give to her ... a sufficiency of firewood to be provided for her by my Executors and by them cut fit for her fire and laid convenient to the door of my dwelling house ... for the full term she shall remain my widow. ... I also give to her a third of the remainder of my estate."
So, in addition to a sizable portion of his estate, William wanted the widow Elizabeth to have transportation to church and plenty of firewood for warmth, left cut and stacked at her door, all in addition to the two cows. I love the specificity of this bequest.

The next portion of interest to me in the will was William's bequests to his children. Remembering Amy Johnson Crow's recent blog post on tracing daughters in the family tree, I was thrilled to see that William named his entire family. (4) Not only did he name each child, but he also provided the name of each daughter's husband in his bequests to:
  • daughter Elizabeth Butterfield, wife of Capt. Joseph Butterfield
  • daughter Mary Butterfield, wife of Capt. Reuben Butterfield
  • daughter Marcy Fletcher, wife of Mr. Jacob Fletcher
  • daughter Sara Gage, wife of Mr. Benjamin Gage
  • daughter Hannah Richardson, single woman, "non compos ... totally incapable of taking care of her own substance"
  • sons-in-law Joseph Butterfield, Reuben Butterfield, and Jacob Fletcher [note: interesting to see there was no bequest to son-in-law Benjamin Gage]
  • son Asa Richardson
  • son Daniel Richardson
This complete list of bequests confirmed the children I kept finding on unsourced online family trees as well as providing details of prior realty transactions between William and his two sons, all of which influenced the nature of the legacies left to the two sons.

It was touching to read in detail William's plan for the care of his daughter Hannah. He provided a sum of money to be used by Hannah's guardian for her care. William intended, as stated in his will, for Hannah to be cared for by Elizabeth until Elizabeth's death. Later, following Elizabeth's death, the minister of the church of Pelham was to recommend a "kind, human, and judicious and proper person" to care for Hannah. If the money set aside for Hannah's care was not enough, William said that funds for her care were "to be equally divided [among] her brothers and sisters and their legal representatives". William seemed to have carefully make plans to ensure that Hannah would always be cared for in any eventuality.

So my afternoon ended with some insights into colonial life, a sourced listing of William's children, details of Williams' land holdings, and a very specific plan for the care of one of his children. What more could you ask for when reading a will? Don't you wish every document we encountered had such clear, detailed information?

Now to learn more about Capt. Joseph Butterfield and Capt. Reuben Butterfield since William's brother Zachariah had married a Butterfield woman and there were other family marriages with Butterfields in successive generations. Plus I need to take a closer look at the various William Richardsons on WikiTree, now that I have the names of more family members. Plus, Archive.org has an interesting book, The Richardson Memorial by John Adams Vinton, that I have just downloaded and need to start reading. Almost every answer brings forth new questions and the search for new resources. And that is fine with me.
#ColonialAmericaGenealogy #RichardsonFamilyGenealogy #WillsandProbate


(1) "New Hampshire, Will and Probate Papers, 1643-1982, Rockingham, Estate Papers, no 4270-4402, 1776-1777", packet for William Richardson; accessed Ancestry.com
(2) "New Hampshire, Will and Probate Papers, 1643-1982, Rockingham, Probate Records, Vol 23-24, 1774-1778" packet for William Richardson; accessed Ancestry.com
(3) "Capt William Richardson (unk-1776)", FindAGrave memorial #132487788; citing Pelham Center Cemetery, Pelham, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; photo by homeboss and memorial page by Sara  provide information.
(4) Crow, Amy Johnson, "Finding All the Daughters in the Family Tree", posted 20 Sep 2018; accessed on www.amyjohnsoncrow.com.

New Hampshire, Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982(2) "New Hampshire, Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982, Rockingham, p 404-410, will and inventory of William Richardson, will signed 1 Apr 1776, inventory dated Nov 1776", accessed on Ancestry.com.(3) "Capt William Richardson (unk-1776)", FindAGrave memorial #132487788; accessed 14 Oct 2018; citing Pelham Center Cemetery, Pelham, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; photo by homeboss and memorial page by Sara  provide information.