Monday, September 30, 2013

Military Monday. Capt John Hillhouse, part 2

Continuing on my quest to explore new resources about Revolutionary War veterans, this week I've use several other resources suggested by Dr. Debbie Duay on her website as well as checking for books mentioning Capt. John.  Her section on Revolutionary Service resources contains a number of links organized by states.  Her South Carolina links led me to issues of the South Carolina History and Genealogy Magazine and a number of South Carolina History books.  Even though I did not find Capt. John mentioned in any of them, her list is one I will return to in the future when researching other ancestors and relatives.

The Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution was no longer available as an ebook through Google books, but I found it through Hathi Trust Digital Library and added the title to my list of genealogy resources.  Once again I was not able to locate Capt. John in this register.  Under the South Carolina listing, however, is a note stating that few South Carolina records were found, suggesting that most were lost during the skirmishes.(1)  

HathiTrust also had several other books with information about Capt. John, including copies of the Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina.  In the 1826 volume, I found information concerning a war pension for John Hillhouse.  In December of 1826 both the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate approved John Hillhouse being adding to the [war] pension list. (2)

Acts and Join Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, 1826.

Hillhouse Kinship by Billy K. Hillhouse is a self-published web book that also proved helpful in learning more about Capt. John.  In the chapter about Hillhouse family members who served in the Revolutionary War, mention is made of how John Hillhouse, during the Battle of Sumter's Defeat, "lost a rifle, saddle bags, coat, and other items". (3)  Another tidbit that helped history to come alive.

Previously I had found Capt. John listed in the 1800 census for Pendleton, Anderson County, South Carolina.  Another book accessed through HaitiTrust provided some additional information about his personal life.  Traditions and History of Anderson County by Louise Ayer Vandiver contained the histories of several old churches.  The section about an early church in Pendleton listed John Hillhouse among the original elders, and his brother, the Rev. Joseph Hillhouse, had been one of the church’s ministers. (4)

Another insight into Capt. John's life was finding his grave listed in findagravecom.  According to findagrave, Capt. John Hillhouse is buried at the Orr Mill Cemetery in Anderson, South Carolina. (5)  The memorial page lists his birth date as 15 May 1744 with an unknown death date.  There is not a photo of his grave marker.  

The Historical Marker database provided some interesting information about the Orr Mill Cemetery.  The cemetery is the final resting place for some Orr Mill employees and family members dating to the 1800s.  Numerous graves are here, marked and unmarked, including infants. (6)  This lead to another question about Capt. John.  The findagrave memorial page mentioned that he was a weaver.  Was his weaving area the start of the Orr Mill?  Also, how did he come to be buried at this particular cemetery?  What about burial at the church cemetery (assuming it had a cemetery) where he had been an elder and his brother the minister?

Orr Mill Cemetery, photo by Brian Scott
Once again, new answers lead to new questions, even for Capt. John Hillhouse.  It has proved to be an interesting week of research, especially taking the time to explore new online resources.

(1) Heitman, Francis Bernard.  Historical register of officers of the continental army during the war of the revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783.  Washington Press of Nichols, Killam & Maffitt, 1893.

(2) Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, 1826.  Columbia,SC:  Digital images.  Haiti Trust Digital : 2013.

(3) Hillhouse, Billy K. Hillhouse Kinship. : 2013.

(4) Vandiver, Louise Ayer.  Traditions and History of Anderson County AtlantaGA: Ruralist Press, 1928.  Digital images.  Haiti Trust Digital Library. : 2013.

(5) Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 27 Jul 2013), memorial page for Capt John Hillhouse(1744 - ?), Find a Grave memorial no.84332659, citing Orr Mill Cemetery, Anderson County, South Carolina.

(6) "Orr Mill Cemetery". The Historical Marker Database, database and images. : 2013.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Opening a Door to More State Resources

Open Door by Richard Croft
Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, a Library of Congress blog posted a list of 71 Digital Portals to various online state resources.  I appreciate Dick Eastman mentioning this list in his online genealogy newsletter.

The list was compiled by Ingrid Jermudd, an intern with the National Data Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.  If you do not already have a list of state resources you are using, this would be a helpful list to bookmark.  One new feature in this list is the inclusion of several regional web sites, not just states.  It is also worth looking at the comments section to see other sites suggested by readers.  There are already plans to update this list with additional state and regional resource web sites.

Check it out and perhaps suggest a favorite resource that you consider to be essential for researching a certain state.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Military Monday: Capt. John Hillhouse, part 1

As I have been researching my husband's Hillhouse ancestors, I continue to come across references to his 4th Great Grandfather, Capt. John Hillhouse.  That is the way he was usually named, "Capt. John, a Revolutionary War patriot".  I wanted to learn more about his military service, plus this might prove to be a good chance to improve my skills in researching this time period.

My first step in learning more about Capt. John was to consult the DAR Genealogical Research System, a free online database provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution.   He was listed in their database as DAR Ancestor #A056215.  His birth date, 15 May 1744 in South Carolina, and his wife, Margaret Chambers, corresponded with information I had already found about Capt. John.  The names mention in subsequent membership applications were also of other relatives, Elijah Hillhouse (2nd Great Grandfather) and Samuel Hillhouse (3rd Great Grandfather), so I knew I had located Capt. John.  From the DAR information, I learned that Capt. John had served with Col. W. Bratton.

DAR Genealogy Research System, entry for John Hillhouse

Looking to learn more about Col. Bratton, I stumbled upon the website and found an interesting article about the Battle of Huck's Defeat where members of the New Acquisition District Militia soundly defeated British and Loyalist forces.  A link lead to the militia's list of members, and there was more information about John Hillhouse.  Here I learned that he served as a Captain in the New Acquisition District Militia from 1780-1782 and participated in the Battle of Fishing Creek on 18 Aug 1870.  The story of this battle made for interesting reading, and I saw Capt. John listed as one of the ten company commanders serving under Lt. Col. William Bratton and Maj. John Wallace.  This website by J. D. Lewis turned out to be a treasure trove of information for early history for both North and South Carolina., entry for John Hillhouse

Dr. Debbie Duay has a helpful website about Researching Your Patriot Ancestor, full of tips for gathering the appropriate information to support an application for DAR membership.  Even if you are not intending to pursue membership in the DAR, SAR, or other patriot ancestor organizations, she provides a number of research tips in her learning modules, especially in her listing of Sources for Revolutionary War Service.

Using Duay's links, I used the database, United States Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783.  The John Hillhouse I found there was from New York and not our Capt John.  Searching just for "Hillhouse", I found two references to records for William Hillis, a variation of the family name, who was a member of the South Carolina Fifth Regiment.  Capt. John had a brother William who also served in the Revolutionary War so this is information I will use later when I focus on researching William.  I was not concerned that John was not listed in this database since FarmilySearch states that "most of the records of the American Army from the Revolutionary War era that were in the custody of the War Department were destroyed by fire in 1800 or in 1814. (1)

This week I'll be following more of Duay's links plus using some of the websites I have bookmarked in my "Military Records" folder.  It is interesting to be learning more about the Revolutionary War through the eyes of my husband's ancestor.  As a former school library media specialist, I must admit that I'm also really enjoying the process of exploring some new resources.

(1) "United States Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783." Index. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Good Bye to a Good Book

"Book on Monitor" by Anna Call

Today was a sad day, time to "return" my digital download of The John Pickens Family.  Over the past two weeks, I have browsed its pages daily, taken lots of notes, and learned so much about my husband's family.  As I mentioned previously, this book is a notch above many family histories I have looked at.  Now, I have a dilemma.  Do I want to spend the money to purchase my own copy, perhaps ask for a copy as a gift from my husband, or just move on?  Decisions, decisions.  Meanwhile, I'll continue to be thankful that the digital download was available.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Are the Odds?

Two Red Dice by Stephen Silver

Husband and wife have several children, wife dies leaving husband with young children to raise, husband marries sister of first wife and starts a second family.  It is a familiar story found in many family histories.  Except for this time.

Francis Henderson and Jean/Jane Pickens, the 3rd Great Grandparents of my husband, had been married about 13 years when Jane died in 1817.  Her death left Francis as the sole parent of four young children, William age 6, Letitia age 4, Nancy Jane age 2, and John Pickens 11 days old. 

I kept looking for a second marriage for Francis, wondering how he could have farmed his extensive property while rearing the four children.  I thought I found the answer when I came across the marriage of Eleanor Pickens, Jane’s sister, to Francis J. Henderson on 11 March 1823 in Blount County, Tennessee. (1)  This date was just six days before the death of Francis Henderson on 17 March 1823. (2)  This truly seemed like a family touched by misfortune.

Looking further, it turns out the Eleanor Pickens married a second Francis J. Henderson of Blount County, Tennessee, not her deceased sister’s widower.  Eleanor and her Francis had their own family of seven children and eventually moved to Bradley County, Tennessee.  Both Eleanor Pickens Henderson and Francis J. Henderson are buried in Bradley County, Tennessee. (3)  Her sister Jane Pickens Henderson and her Francis Henderson are buried in Blount County, Tennessee. (4)

Apparently Jane’s Francis never remarried and raised the four children himself, although Anderson mentions that Jane’s sister Mary Pickens Minnis also helped raise young John Pickens Henderson.  Following the death of Francis Henderson in 1823, Jane’s brother Samuel Pickens, was named as the legal guardian of the youngest child, John Pickens Henderson. (5)

Now I want to know more about Eleanor’s Francis – who were his parents, were they related to Jane’s Francis.  Nellie Pickens Anderson mentioned that relatives referred to Jane’s Francis as “Frank”, apparently to prevent confusion with Eleanor’s Francis. (6)  After all, the odds of sisters marrying men with the same name, be it Frank or Francis, living in the same county have to rather slim.

(1)   "Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002",  database, p. 82, entry for Francis J Henderson, ( : accessed 23 Jul 2013); citing Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

(2)   Nellie Pickens Anderson, Elizabeth Cowan Snead Shue, and Lloyd C. Shue. The John Pickens Family, combined edition, including a reprint of the 1951 edition by Nellie Pickens Anderson plus a new supplement and index of the combined editions.  Baltimore, MD : Gateway Press, 1981, p. 100.

(3)   Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 15 Sep 2013), memorial page for Francis Johnston Henderson (1800-1845), Find a Grave memorial no.39703015, citing Fort Hill  Cemetery, Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee.

(4)   Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 23 Jul 2013), memorial page for Francis "Frank" Henderson (1776-1823), Find a Grave memorial no.5753603, citing Big Spring Cemetery, Friendship, Blount County, Tennessee.

(5)   Anderson, John Pickens Family, p. 113, 205.

(6)   Anderson, John Pickens Family, p. 100.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Researching the Pickens Family

Now that I have the digital download of The John Pickens Family,  I have had time to skim through the entire book and look at the information it contains.  The book represents years of research by a number of people and is a good example of how to compile an interesting, readable, and usable family history book.  The work is definitely a notch above a number of others I have seem.  Below are some of the reasons I was delighted to be able to read this book.

The book was first published in 1951 using information compiled by Nellie Pickens Anderson.  Later in 1981 Elizabeth Cowan Snead Shue and Lloyd C. Shue added supplemental information, an index, and family tree charts in the combined (1951 and 1981) edition.  Both Cowan and Shue / Shue repeatedly credit the other family members and researchers who had contributed information to the book.  The book comes across as a collaborative effort.

Throughout Anderson’s book, she provided the sources of her facts, census records, land records, church records, with details so specific that I could go to the Blount County Tennessee Courthouse or the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville and request the exact record she referenced.  In addition, she also provides information on the provenance of important family items, such as the Pickens family bible and the metal buttons probably remaining from the broadcloth coat John Pickens wore in the Revolutionary War.  Interesting stuff to know.

Early in the original edition, Anderson listed the lineage key she used throughout the book.   Once she finished providing basic information about the meaning of the name and migrations of the family to America, she started using her key as she wrote about members of the John Pickens family.  Her key made it easy to skim through to locate information on specific generations.  Most family history books are written using this key, but her listing was appreciated.

          A B C D           children of John and Letitia Hannah Pickens
          I II III IV V          grand children “
          a b c d e          great grandchildren “
          1 2 3 4 5          great great grandchildren “
          (a) (b) (c)         great great great grandchildren “
          (1) (2) (3)         great great great great grandchildren “
          i ii iii iv v            great great great great great grandchildren ”
          a- b- c- b-         great great great great great great grandchildren “

Anderson’s style was to begin each biographical section in the following manner "C John Pickens, 3rd child of John & Letitia, b Dec 25, 1788, VA ?; 43 at time of father’s will, buried at Eusebia.”(1)  Then the ensuing paragraphs provided additional information along with sources about that individual.  In a family where the same names kept appearing in different generations, her method made it clear which individual was being discussed.

The library media specialist in me really appreciated the index added in 1981 by Shue / Shue.  With several other family and local history books, I've found myself writing a personal index to a book, just to make my use of it easier.

The 1981 supplement in the combined edition contained both corrections to the original edition and new information about contemporary family members.  I remembered receiving a questionnaire in the late 1970s asking for information about our family to include in the supplement.  I had forgotten about that until I saw my sisters-in-law and I listed as contributors to the 1981 supplement!  This collaborative method is one more thing I appreciated about this family history book.  After all, our family history does not belong to just one of us, it needs to be shared, revised, even extended as associated individuals learn and contribute new information.

Thanks to Nellie, Elizabeth, Lloyd and the countless others through the years for all you have added to the knowledge about my husband’s 4th Great Grandfather.

(1) Anderson, Nellie Pickens, Elizabeth Cowan Snead Shue, and Lloyd C. Shue, The John Pickens Family, combined edition. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1981, p. 53.  Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts, accessed 7 Sep 2013 through

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tips - You Can Never Have Too Many ..

"Timeless Books", photo by Lin Kristensen
Wikimedia Commons

Frequently in researching your family history, you just need that specific resource.  Maybe it was mentioned in an article you read or by another researcher, or perhaps you want something beyond the normal online access to census, Social Security, and similar records.   Sometimes, you just need that certain book.

Through the years, while researching my husband’s family, I came across several mentions to a book about The John Pickens Family.  A cousin has a copy of this book and has given us copies of a number of pages pertaining to my husband’s close relatives.  I had also used copies of the book at several Georgia libraries when I was there doing research.  

Last week I really wanted to refer to the book, but I knew it would be a while before I saw our cousin or visited those Georgia libraries.  I went online to see if I could find a copy of this specific book.  Google books listed The John Pickens Family as only available for purchase, referring me to a link to purchase it, $$$.  I also tried eBay and found two copies available, one for $75, the other for $85, a bit more that I wanted to pay.  Copies were listed through WorldCat at a number of libraries, but none were close enough to just drop by one morning  My new favorite book source, HathiTrust, did not have the book among its holdings, so I ended up googling the title and found it listed as being available through  Finally.

Through, I had the choice of reading it online or borrowing a digital copy.  I decided to try borrowing the book.  From I was directed to Open Library  where I set up a free borrower’s account.   Through this account I was able to borrow a digital copy of The John Pickens Family as a download through Adobe Digital Editions.  The copy I borrowed is actually from the Boston Public Library, interesting to me since the Pickens family primarily has Tennessee and Georgia roots.  There the book now is, loaded on my laptop, where I can read it, add a bookmark when I stop, and type copious notes which I will later print out and file in my Pickens Family File folder.  The notes are necessary since you cannot print the pages of material downloaded through Adobe Digital Editions, although you can do a screen clip and print that.  Because there can be only one borrower of the title at a time, once I finish in the next few days, I will “return” the digital copy through OpenLibrary so it will be available for someone else to use.  The whole process worked the same as downloading an ebook to my tablet through my local public library.

After all, you can never have too many possibilities for locating a specific resource.  Digital borrowing was easy and a method I’m sure to try again for genealogy purposes, not just for reading new popular fiction.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Those Places Thursday - Welcome to Wildcat

Map by Wyndell O Taylor (1)

Today the area of Cherokee County, Georgia, formerly known as Wildcat, is part of the ever growing Metro Atlanta area.  Today it is home to sprawling planned developments, strip malls, manicured lawns, and rolling hills, but 150 years ago, it was a different place.

I became interested in the Wildcat area while looking for information about my husband's second great grand uncle, Samuel Hillhouse, the gold digger.  In the 1860 census for Wildcat, Cherokee County, Georgia, I found several of my husband's relatives plus a few of mine as well as a variety of occupations.(2)  The teacher in me quickly started tallying the occupations found in the census pages in order to get a better view of life years ago in Wildcat.

Below is a listing of the occupations identified by the census enumerator of Wildcat, together with a few personal comments placed in [ ]s.  The census covered 177 families and 946 people living in the Wildcat District.  Listing the occupations ending up providing an informative snapshot of life in the 1860s.  The occupations of folks in Wildcat included:

     88 laborers [none of the laborers had a value listed for land, few had personal property values listed, apparently they were farming rented land]
     86 farmers [all the farmers had a value listed for their farm land which they apparently owned]
     14 students [all males, 15-21, other non-student males of that age were listed as farmers or laborers]
     8 miners
     6 blacksmiths [I was surprised at this number until I looked at the number of farmers and laborers and the equipment necessary for them to farm the land.  The blacksmith was essential for making and maintaining their farming implements.]
     5 gold diggers [including my husband's uncle Samuel Hillhouse]
     3 millers
     3 prostitutes [surprise!]
     2 carpenters
     2 machinists
     2 merchants
     2 ministers
     2 school teachers
     1 bridge keeper [a woman]
     1 cabinet workman
     1 carriage maker
     1 engineer [probably for the railroad]
     1 hatter
     1 mechanic
     1 millwright
     1 physician
     1 silversmith
     1 vagabond

The area had virtually everything necessary for a period mini-series on A&E.  Such was life back in Wildcat!  

(1) Taylor, Wyndell O. Land and Militia Districts of Cherokee County GA., 1998.
(2) Georgia. Cherokee County, Wildcat. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. : 2013.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Looking For Gold in Them, There Hills

Cherokee County Gold State Historical Marker
photo by David Seibert

Travel back 150 years ago and most of my and my husband's relatives were farmers or laborers.  One of my husband's relatives, however, had an different occupation.  According to the 1860 census, this second great grand uncle, Samuel Hillhouse, was a gold digger in Cherokee County, Georgia.  

Although Samuel Hillhouse had returned to farming by the 1870 census, his occupation was a first in my research, and I wanted to learn more about it.  My husband and I both grew up in North Georgia, but neither of us were familiar with gold mining in Georgia anywhere other than around Dahlonega, Georgia.  It took a little research to learn more about other areas where gold had been mined or found in our home state.

According to the State Historical Marker pictured above, Cherokee County was part of Georgia's Gold Belt.  The county had a number of small mines, especially in an area called Sixes after the six small placer mines previously worked by the Cherokee Indians.(1)  In fact, the gold from the Sixes Mine was considered to be extremely pure.(2)  Finally. the name of the Sixes community, home to relatives on both sides of the family, made sense!

It is surprising to realize that people still occasionally find gold in the streams near the old mines.  The Allatoona Gold Panners club has an interesting slide presentationan about the locations, equipment, and techniques that are part of pursuing this present day hobby.  These days, most of the former mines in Cherokee are beneath Lake Allatoona.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers even has a Gold Panning Policy for "recreation panning" around the shores of Lake Allatoona.(3)  Another former mine is near an exclusive residential community.   From the photo below, there apparently is still some gold to be found.  

Vial of Cherokee County placer gold
photo by Mike Jacoby, 
Cherokee Life

It just seemed natural to mention Samuel Hillhouse and his occupation on Labor Day.  Thanks for the history lesson, Samuel.

(1) Jackson, Ed, webmaster, GeorgiaInfo, online images and essays; "Georgia Historical Markers" : 2013.
(2) "Cherokee County",, online images and essays; : 2013
(3) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "Gold Panning Policy, Allatoona Lake." : 2013