Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Baby and His Nurse

This picture of my Uncle Albert Thomas Vaughan, Jr. and his nurse "Aunt Miley" was taken around 1908.  Nurse Miley looks straight out of a Victorian novel.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mystery Monday - The Case of the Changing Children

1860 population schedule, Georgia, Gordon, Freemans
We all are accustomed to seeing changes in the spelling of a person's name, variations in ages, or different birth places as we trace a family through the years using census information.  While looking at census records concerning my husband's Great Grand Aunt, Sarah A. Dillard Smith, I've come across a mystery concerning her children.  The puzzling information is highlighted below; my notes are in brackets [  ].

In the 1850 census, Sarah and her husband P. L. Smith were living in Murray County, Georgia, and had two children listed in their census enumeration:
          Lodeske J Smith, male, age 2 [born ca 1848]
          Mary E Smith, female, age 1 [born ca 1849]

By 1860 the Smith family was listed as living in Freemans, Gordon County, Georgia, this time with four children:
          Pemelia J Smith, female, age 12 [born ca 1848]
          Mary E Smith, female, age 10 [born ca 1850]
          Hendrix L Smith, male, age 8 [born ca 1852]
          China A Smith, female, age 4 [born ca 1856]

Moving to 1870, the Smiths and their five children were now in Calhoun, Gordon County, Georgia:
          Loduskey Smith, male, age 22 [born ca 1848]
          Mary E Smith, female, age 20 [born ca 1850]
          Hendrix L Smith, male, age 18 [born ca 1852]
          Chinna Smith, female 13 [born ca 1857]
          John D Smith, male, age 9 [born ca 1861]

By 1880 we find the Smith family now enumerated as living in Coosawatee, Gordon County, Georgia, son Henry [Hendrix] is now married and living near by, and only two children are still at home with Prior and Sarah:
          Jane Smith, female, age 22 [born ca 1858]
          John D Smith, male, age 18 [born ca 1862]

Sarah and Prior are finally empty nesters by 1900 where the census records that of her five children, three are living.  Son Hendrix is living near by.

Widow Sarah Smith is living with her son Hendrix in 1910 and is still recorded as having three of five children living at that time.

Here's part of the mystery.  What are the actual names of the children highlighted?  If I trace the children according to their approximate birth years, it looks as if the same child is recorded as Lodeske J Smith, male in 1850, and Pemelia J Smith, female in 1860, a dramatic change in both name and sex.  China Smith may also be the same person as Jane Smith, a decidedly less drastic change than Lodeske / Pemelia.  Maybe the China A in 1860 was really China J who later was recorded as Jane.

I also wonder what happened to Lodeske / Pemelia after 1870.  Was this one of Sarah's children who had died before 1900?

As for the whereabouts of Mary, Jane, and John Smith after 1880, it is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack with that combination of common names!   I continue to search marriage records, cemetery records, census records and even online family trees to no avail.  Maybe someday I'll stumble upon a few answers.   Until then "The Case of the Changing Children" goes unsolved.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Story Continues ... August 2013

Image by Samuel Tan, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons

From time to time, I have new information to add to some of my previous posts.

After hearing from several people who inquired about the photo of Calder Baynard Willingham, I e-mailed them a copy of the photo.  I seemed to receive the most responses from the "Post It" notes I had added to family trees on where Calder's name and family were among their branches.  One individual and I corresponded further.  After I received a mailing address from this person, I was able to send the photo to its new home 1500 miles away.  This person plans to post the photo on a family related website and may eventually send it on to a closer relative.

I had visited the T. Elmer Cox Historical and Genealogy Library in Greeneville, Tennessee, looking for original documents about a family marriage.  Some time later, I was telling a friend about my trip.  Turns out that T. Elmer Cox was a half-brother of her great grandmother and thus related to her.  Small world!

I'm still looking for military information about my husband's uncle Louie Love Padgett.  Our original request to the National Archives was returned with a form requesting more detailed information.  It seems that his record may have been part of the large number destroyed in a fire in 1973, so they are looking at alternative records for these World War One veterans.  There are a number of specific questions needing our input as well as a request for photocopies of any documentation we have.  Glancing over the new questionnaire shows that we unfortunately have little new information to submit.  We will send a picture of Louie's grave marker (showing his rank but not a military style marker) as well as photocopies of a page of the Emory University 1921 yearbook (listing his military service), a page from his passport application (indicating the military unit he was with in France), and his obituary (mentioning his National Guard service and rank) .  Hopefully, this story isn't over.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Family Tree Magazine 101 Best Websites

It is one of my favorite times of the year - that day in August when Family Tree Magazine posts its yearly list of "101 Best Websites".  Here is the link to this year's great list.

I especially appreciate the way these best genealogy websites are organized by geographic areas as well as by topic.  Included are the best sites are researching southern, northern, midwestern, and western states in the US.  Some of the sites listed are familiar ones while others are new resources to me.  I'm also going to be looking at some of the sites listed under the photo and mapping topic, especially those sites that provide access to historical maps.

It is definitely worth looking at this annual list from Family Tree Magazine.  You'll probably decide to bookmark this list for future reference.  I know I have.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Now We Have A Plan

"Exploration"  by gnokii;
Recently several of our family spent some time visiting an elderly cousin.  He brightened up seeing all of us, plus it was nice to spend time with him.

During our visit his caregiver showed us some family things she had recently found while cleaning out a cabinet.  One item was a family chart, created in 1980, that listed the ancestors and descendants of Francis Smith Whittemore. She asked us to keep it so that it would not be accidentally thrown away or misplaced.

My sister-in-law and I looked over it and saw that the thirteen pages contained a lot of names and dates.  This chart came forward through generations from the mid 1850s into the late 1970s, full of names and dates of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, many of the names I had not seem before.

 In a short time, we had a plan.  I would take the family chart home, scan the pages, and then mail the original chart to the family member who is involved with our cousin’s care.  I would also add all the names and dates listed into Family Tree Maker so that it can be more easily shared with others through a GEDCOM export.

It just goes to show that family information can come from the most unexpected sources, at a time or place you did not anticipate.  The experience was a reminder that it is important to have some idea as to what to do with these new finds.    Admittedly, it also makes me wonder what I may have stuck into a drawer for someone else to find in the future!  The caretaker also said she would put aside any other family papers she might later come across.  We are all on the same page with the plan.

One thing that definitely is staying with our cousin is an old, crumbling newspaper article about the 50th wedding anniversary of his parents.  Nothing could match his smile as he looked with love at those familiar faces.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Steel Magnolias : Those Who Stayed Behind

Magnolia, photo by Alan on Flickr

In researching my and my husband’s Cherokee County, Georgia roots, I’ve learned that a number of them served in several companies of the Georgia Infantry.  There are a number of good resources available for gathering this information, free resources such as The Roster of Confederate Soldiers in Georgia available on HaitiTrust and the National Parks Service Soldiers and Sailors database, as well as subscription services such as and

But what about the women whose family members where fighting in the war?  Nancy Mauldin Hillhouse, the 2 Great Grandmother of my husband, was one of those ancestors about whom I had not been able to find much information.  She was easy to find in the 1840-1880 federal census records, always in Cherokee County, Georgia.  Later in The History of Cherokee County, I found a brief mention of her quilting ability.(1)
She became more real to me as I was looking at The Roster of Confederate Soldiers in Georgia.  My intent was to see which of my relatives might have been serving in the Confederate States Army in a unit with my husband’s relatives.  As I was taking notes of names and regiments to check within our family trees, I noticed my growing list of Hillhouse men serving in the Confederate Army. 

Below is a table showing the soldiers along with their units.  Looking through the family tree, I saw they all had a relationship with Nancy Hillhouse.

NameMilitary UnitRelationship to Nancy
Elijah Hillhouse Co D, 28th Regiment, Georgia Infantryhusband
Samuel W HillhouseCo D, 28th Regiment, Georgia Infantrybrother-in-law
John Floyd HillhouseCo B, 34th Regiment, Georgia Infantryson
George HaynesCo B, 34th Regiment, Georgia Infantryson-in-law
Robert W HillhouseCo B, 34th Regiment, then ransferred to Co D, 28th Regiment, Georgia Infantryson
Thomas NelsonCo B, 34th Regiment, Georgia Infantryson-in-law

It was sobering to think of that many people so closely related were involved in the war at the same time.  It was numbing to realize that when Nancy’s husband died at the Battle of Richmond in 1862, she still had two sons fighting in the war as well as two sons-in-law and a brother-in-law.  Nancy was one of so many in this same situation.  Life still had to go on, there were children to raise, the farm to manage, maybe even find a little time to quilt.  In my mind, Nancy and these other women had to be “steel magnolias”.

(1)   Marlin, Lloyd G. The History of Cherokee County. Florida: Wolfe Publishing Co. 1997. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Georgia Roots - I Knew It! I Knew It!

Both my husband and I have deep roots in Cherokee County, Georgia.  For several years, whenever I was looking at census records, military records, or land records relating to Cherokee County, I kept feeling that someday I would find something suggesting that one of my relatives and one of my husband's relatives were neighbors or possibly knew each other.  The other day I was taking another look at the 1860 census for the Wild Cat District of Cherokee County, Georgia, trying to write a better citation for my husband's Great Grand Uncle Robert Hillhouse.  Then, right "next door", the next family enumerated, was that of my 3rd Great Grandfather Daniel Putnam!'  (I know the enumerator listed them as the Putman family, rather than the Putnam family, but that's another story.)

1860 US Census, population schedule, Wild Cat District, Cherokee County, Georgia, USA
(Hillhouse family outlined in blue, Putnam family outlined in pink)

I had to interrupt my husband's yard work to share my finding with him.  Oh course, I was mentally doing my happy dance because I had just felt I would someday find something like this.  Ever the realist, he asked what we would do with this information.  This has lead to a few plans that could serve as answers to his question.

First, I decided to post about it.  I see this as an example not so much of trying to prove what you think might have happened, but instead to be more aware of other people, relationships, or events that might become apparent when you are researching an ancestor.

Next, I'll be using HathiTrust Digital Library to look more closely at various regiments listed in the  Roster of the Confederate Soldiers in Georgia.  With so many relatives in my family and my husband's serving in the Confederate States Army in the companies coming from Cherokee County, Georgia, there may be members from both our families who served together in the same regiment or even the same company.

Later that same day, while looking through a Cherokee County Marriage Book. available online through the Georgia Virtual Vault, I noticed my 2nd Great Grandfather, William Hiram Dean, was listed as the minister performing a marriage.  My husband's 2nd Great Grandfather, Elijah Hillhouse, was a Justice of the Peace in the same county at about the same time.  Previously I had used the marriage books to attest to the names of spouses or the date of a marriage.  Now I'll pay more attention to the minister's name or that of the Justice of the Peace who performed the marriage.  There may turn out to be more family connections that occurred long before my husband and I ever met!

Finally, this had all been another reminder that these aren't just names on a census page.  They are people.  It is my husband's Great Grand Uncle Robert who had his spinster sisters Harriet and Elizabeth living with him for many years, even as he and his wife Semeline raised their three children.  It is also my 3rd Great Grandfather Daniel Putnam, one of so many born in the Carolinas, lured to Georgia through the Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832 and the eventual resells of many lots, farming his land with my 3rd Great Grandmother Mary McConnell Putnam as they raised nine children.  Real people with real stories worth celebrating.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday's Tip : Check Out The Hathi Trust Digital Library

When researching your family history, one can never have too many trusted places to look for information.  If you haven't visited this site before, I urge you to visit the HathiTrust Digital Library at  It just may become one of your favorite sites.

For starters, as the website indicates on the opening screen, "HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world."  The partnership has digitized over 10.7 million volumes, many of which are available for viewing in their entirety online  The partnership itself is impressive - major universities, The Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, and others of similar stature.(1)

I became a fan of HathiTrust while looking for the complete Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, all five volumes, when I was researching my Second Great Grand Uncle Samuel Howard Dean.  Some sources had parts of a few pages from specific volumes, but I wanted to find all five volumes so that I could refer to it for a number of my relatives as well as my husband's.  All five volumes were digitized and available to download or else to read online through HathiTrust.  I was surprised to see so many other genealogy / historical resources available considering the academic nature of the library's partnerships.

Since then, I have found myself returning to HathiTrust and finding other digital resources from an out-of-print genealogy of a 2GGrandparent (The Genealogy of the Benson--Latimer ... Families by Mary Benson Maxwell) to a listing of lumber yards in Manitoba which showed my grandfather as a purchasing agent for one of them.  Both of these were available in full view online with digital images of the original pages and even the covers.  The "search within" box helped me quickly find my information, even in a lengthy book.  For resources with limited, search-only view, you have the opportunity to migrate to OCLC World Cat to see which libraries have that resource available.  This makes it easy to consider using an interlibrary loan or to plan a visit to specific library to use that resource.

I'm using HathiTrust enough that I have established a free, "friend account".  A friend account brings with it the ability to create personal collections of digital resources.  My collection currently holds the five volumes of the Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia as well as Mary Benson Maxwell's Genealogy of the Benson--Latimer ... Families, resources I know I will be using in the future.  One special benefit of setting up a collection is the ability to search within my entire collection for a name, location, or event.  This has been particularly helpful in searching for names in the thousands of pages of the Roster of ... Soldiers volumes.  Even without the friend account, I could still have this searching ability, just one volume as a time. 

Screen capture of my Genealogy Resources collection
There are a number of great sites for digitized print resources including Google Books, HeritageQuest, and Internet Archive, but HathiTrust is my new favorite.  It has a large number of full view resources, ease in searching for information within a specific work, the ability to sync with World Cat to locate print copies of a resource, and a user friendly collections feature.  It all combines to make HathiTrust a prime resource for me.

(1)  HathiTrust. "Home Page." Database and images. HathiTrust. : 2013.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Something Old, Something New

First something old.  Last week I spent a few hours at the T. Elmer Cox Historical and Genealogy Library in Greeneville, Tennessee.  This branch of the Greeneville Greene County Library is housed in a beautiful old home and was named in honor of a town historian.  In the late 1700s, the town was the capital of the State of Franklin before this area became part of Tennessee.  Later, Greeneville was the home of Andrew Johnson, our 17th president.  It wasn't surprising that a town so steeped in history would have a gem of a genealogy library.

T. Elmer Cox Historical and Genealogy Library
Greeneville, Tennessee

Something else old, my reason for visiting the Cox Library was to hopefully locate more information about my husband's Great Grand Uncle, Humphrey Padgett.  According to information I found in a variety of sources, Humphrey Padgett married Mahala Holston in Greene County in 1848.  I went to the Cox Library to see if I could locate more than an index listing of their marriage.

Shortly after I arrived, the helpful lady in the library office pulled an index for me which listed this marriage.  She asked if I wanted a copy of the county's paperwork for this marriage.  Oh, yes!  Within a few minutes I saw her walking toward the library's copier holding two pieces of brittle, tan paper with frayed edges - the original marriage bond and marriage license documents for Humphrey and Mahala.  It is one thing to read historical facts in a published index.  It is quite another to see the actual 165-year-old paper even if it was only for the length of time it took her to make my copies.

Marriage License (inside) for Humphrey Padgett and Mahala Holston (copy)
original housed in the T. Elmer Cox Library, Greeneville, TN

Marriage License (outside) for Humphrey Padgett and Mahala Holston (copy)
original housed in the T. Elmer Cox Library, Greeneville, TN

Now I have great support for saying that Humphrey Pagett (sic) and Mahala Holston were married in Greene County Tennessee on 28 September 1848 by Justice of the Peace George Kenney.  Furthermore, I appreciated those in Greene County, Tennessee who decided to move so many of the old records from the Courthouse to be stored at the Cox Library.

Now for something new.  I upgraded to a smartphone last month, and I put it to great use at the Cox Library.  I took pictures of a number of pages from some of the library's collection.  Another researcher started doing the same thing at her table, and for a few minutes we sounded like "dueling iPhones".  Once home I moved the photos to Dropbox, and now I can look at them on my desktop monitor.  Sweet!

Something else new, the two computers in the Cox Library were in constant use throughout my visit.  No problem.  I used my smartphone to log into the regional library consortium and hunt for resources using the online catalog for the Greeneville Greene County Library System.  I just might not grumble so much about the cost of my data plan when I get the next bill for my new phone.