Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Follow That Trail of Crumbs

Atlanta Constitution, 19 Jun 1899
source: fold3.com

It all started the other day when I treated myself to a year's subscription to fold3.com.  I immediately was searching for information about the Perkinson family when I discovered there were also a number of nonmilitary documents available through fold3.com.  Expecting to find only service records, I found this announcement of the upcoming wedding of my aunt, Leila Perkinson, the sister of my grandfather, Oscar Dean Perkinson, Sr.

I had to print the article and read every word because it was full of family information.  For starters, Leila's wedding took place just a month before Leila and Oscar's widowed mother married Willis A McAfee.  There she was, planning her daughter's wedding and probably thinking of her own upcoming nuptials at the same time.  It was interesting to also see the connections mentioned to noted Baptist ministers, specifically my 2GGrandfather, William Hiram Dean.  It also mentioned the Rev. Sam Dean, a name I continue to run across but have not yet found the definite connection to other Deans in my family tree.  Now clarifying that connection with Sam Dean has been added to my To-Do-List

The announcement of wedding plans also provided some background information on the young couple.   Leila had graduated from Shorter Female College, today known as Shorter University, my alma mater.  Although her husband had died before I was born, I had always heard that he worked on the railroad.  Now I know that Uncle Ed Stephens was with the Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern Railroad.

The names of the wedding party were also included in the article, several of whom were familiar names.  I recognized an uncle, Howard Perkinson, as well as my grandfather Oscar Perkinson.  The maid of honor, however was someone new to me, Miss Emma Nichols of Edgewood, a cousin.  She would also have been a cousin of my grandfather and a relative of mine, so I wanted to know who she was.

My first step was looking at my family tree in Family Tree Maker.  Cousin Emma would have to have been a sister either of Leila's mother (Luella Dean) or Leila's father (William Howard Perkinson), a sister who had married a Mr. Nichols.  I have been focusing on the Perkinson family long enough to initially eliminate the possibility that Emma came from that side of the family.  Looking closer at the Dean side, I saw that Luella Dean's mother was Emma Lee Benson, possibly the source of Emma's name.  When I scrolled through information on Emma Lee Benson's family, I saw that she had two sisters, Sarah Anne Benson, and Abby Jane Benson. Perhaps Sarah or Abby could be the mother of "Miss Emma Nichols of Edgewood".

But where was Edgewood?  Placesnamed.com showed an Edgewood, Georgia, just east of Atlanta.  Other Edgewoods were further away from Woodstock, Georgia and might not be Emma's home.

Since Leila's wedding took place in 1899, I looked at the 1900 census for Edgewood, De Kalb, Georgia, in hopes that Emma might be single and still living at home with her parents.  Some days, things actually fall into place.  I searched for any Nichols living in Edgewood, De Kalb, Georgia, with a child named Emma and quickly found a census record for Emma and her family, first try.(1)  Emma's mother was listed as Sallie Nickols and her father as David Nickols.  I have come across enough Sarah / Sally / Sallie names for the same individual that I felt this might be the family of Cousin Emma.  A check of the 1880 census for this same family listed them as David and Sarah A Nichols along with the names of daughters Emma and Minnie and son William.(2)

My next stop was the Georgia Virtual Vault to look for marriage and death records pertaining to this family.  My general search for records on David Nichols lead to a death certificate for a Minnie Nichols and another piece of the puzzle.  There was Minnie of an age corresponding to ages found in the 1880 and 1900 census records (check mark).  Minnie's father was listed on the certificate as David Nichols (check mark) and her mother as Sara Benson (fireworks, please).  The information on the death certificate was provided by William M Nichols, the brother listed in the 1880 census (check mark).  I wasn't as successful in locating a marriage record at the Virtual Vault for David Nichols and Sara Benson.  Another task on my To-Do-List.  At least my other efforts have lead to establishing the probable family for cousin "Emma Nichols of Edgewood".

Death Certificate, Minnie Nichols
source: Georgia Virtual Vault

All in all, the wedding plans article turned out to be worthwhile to study in detail because it lead me to new information about my family.  I learned the employer of my uncle Ed.  I got another push to learn more about the Rev. Sam Dean.  And, I have the probable family for Cousin Emma Nichols, my first cousin, three times removed.  Not bad for a few hours of following the tidbits mentioned in an unexpected newspaper article.

(1) Georgia, De Kalb County, Edgewood, 1900 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital Images. Ancestry.com. http://ancestry.com : 2013.

(2) Georgia, Paulding County, Old Twentieth,1880 US Census, population schedule. Digital Images. Ancestry.com.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories*: December 22 - Christmas Homecoming

We're not quite sure when it started, but the Nelson family has gathered for a big family dinner one Saturday close to Christmas for probably the past thirty years. This event has even taken on its own name, "The Very Nelson Christmas", VNC for short. E-mails, texts, and conversations about it fondly use that term these days.

Besides the families of my husband and his brothers, it has also included various in-laws, cousins, and "friends". The family all knows that bringing someone really special to the VNC is tantamount to an engagement announcement.

The food is unbelievable -- turkey and dressing, ham, my sister-in-law's macaroni and cheese, vegetables from summer gardens, salads, everyone contributing something wonderful. And then, the desserts. It is so worth dieting the week before and after.

By the time everyone finally gets there, all surfaces in the kitchen and breakfast room are covered with wonderful things to eat. The 30+ of us find a seat at one of the tables around the house. These days we have The Brothers' Table (our generation), The Kids' Table (our children and spouses), and The Little Ones' Table. Regardless of where we sit, there is a lot of laughter, plus table-hopping is allowed.

Weather permitting, after the fabulous meal, there might be some football or basketball played outside while others find a quiet corner to snooze or read or continue to catch up on family news. We'll gather near the tree for family pictures. The afternoon ends with a cut-throat Christmas gag gift grab. Gifts have ranged from a goldfish to "cute" holiday lawn decorations to the sign pictured above; gone are the early days of giving Starbucks or McDonald's gift cards. Every once in a while, a really nice gift appears, and the good-natured smack talk rises to a new level. It is as much fun to watch the gift grab as it is to participate. As for that sign at the beginning of this post, it is now displayed in the home of one of my children who delighted in "stealing" it from a cousin.

Finally it is time to gather up plates of great left-overs for the road. Time for another round of hugs and Christmas wishes. Time to look forward to next year's Very Nelson Christmas.

*The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mystery Monday: What Happened to Hiram Pinkney Duck?

"Question Man" source www.mrmediatraining.com

Sometimes a name or circumstance just keeps nagging for research.  That has been the case for me concerning Pinkney Duck.  You have to admit, he doesn't have a very common name, so he should be easy to research.  Think again.

I first stumbled upon Pinkney Duck when looking at the 1880 census records for Thomas and Hannah Nelson, residents of Fair Play, District 1028 of Cherokee County, Georgia.  It seems that Pinkney was living with the Nelsons as a boarder who worked on the farm when the census was enumerated on the 9th or 10th of Jun 1880.  Pinkney caught my attention because he was listed as having diphtheria.

A second check of census records showed Pinkney  as living with his mother, Jane Duck, in the Jerusalem District of Pickens County, Georgia in a 15 Jun 1880 enumeration.  Pinkney is listed as working on his mother's farm with no illness or disability mentioned in column 15.

Then I found Pinkney listed a third time on a 16 Jun 1880 census enumeration.  For the 16 Jun counting, Pinkney is still living with Thomas and Hannah Nelson although the residence is listed as District 1008 of Cherokee County, Georgia.  Two items caught my eye.  This time Pinkney is listed as a nephew, and his illness was recorded as typhoid fever on the day of the census visit.

I can see possible explanations for the three census entries.  The two Cherokee County entries can be the result of the Thomas Nelson family living on the border of two different militia districts, District 1028 and District 1008.  A number of people show up on both districts in the same order, so apparently they were counted as being in two different districts.  As for the listing with his mother in neighboring Pickens County, Georgia, Pinkney's time with the Nelson could have been a short term stay.  His mother could have considered him to still be a member of her family and just told the census enumerator about her son.  After all, people didn't have to be physically before the enumerator when the information was recorded.  This isn't the nagging question about Pinkney.

After 1880, what did happen to Hiram Pinkney Duck?  Did he die of diphtheria?  Was he in poor health due to typhoid fever?  Did he live a long, healthy, and productive life?  I have no idea.  That's my big question, especially since he might have been a relative (if he were Thomas and Hannah Nelson's nephew).

I first started the draft for this post about two months ago.  I felt certain that I could easily learn more about Pinkney due to his unusual name.  Even using variations of his name (Hiram / Hyram / Pinkney / Pickney / H P Duck) I have nothing more to add.  So far my research log shows only where I've looked and not found any additional information, including 

  • 1900 or later census records - no mention in any state
  • FindAGrave and BillionGraves - no mention
  • Cemetery registers found on USGenWeb sites for the state of Georgia, specifically the counties of Cherokee, Gordon, and Pickens - no mention
  • Military registers listing soldiers in the Spanish-American War - no mention
  • County Marriage Books as well as Death Certificates available online through the Georgia Archives
  • General searches on Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Mocavo
Maybe this post will someday be read by someone who does know more about Pinkney, and I'll get some answers.  Until then I feel like a child, playing hide and seek, calling out "Pinkney, come out, come out, wherever you are".

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories*: December 14 - Christmas Cookies

When our children were younger, I would go on a baking frenzy Thanksgiving weekend.  No fighting the malls for me.  While everyone else in the family was watching all the football games, I was happily baking Christmas cookies to store in the freezer until Christmas break.  

I usually made seven or eight different kinds of cookies, including favorites for each family member. My personal favorite was one I called "Sugar and Spice Cookies".  It was based on a recipe found in a cookbook I purchased years ago during a visit to Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.(1)

Sugar and Spice Cookies

3 sticks butter
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Combine flour, cream of tartar, salt, soda, and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl; stir in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla, lemon, and almond extracts and beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture and blend thoroughly.  Place in greased bowl and chill overnight.  Roll out on floured pastry cloth and cut with cookie cutters.  Place on greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 325 until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

NOTE:  The cookie dough can also be rolled into logs, wrapped tightly in waxed paper, and refrigerated overnight.  The cookies can then be sliced from the logs and baked.


*The Advent Calendar of Christmas memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December!  Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

(1) Cooking in Old Salem.  Williamsburg, VA : Williamsburg Publishing Co, c1981.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories*: December 9 - Christmas Crafts

One of the joys of retirement is having more time to make special things for others.  One of my Christmas craft projects this year has been making a set of Wizard of Oz puppets for one of my grandchildren.  This little one loves The Wizard of Oz and wants to grow her hair long enough to braid, just like Dorothy.  Although she probably won't recognize it, remnants from some past projects made their way into her puppets.

As I worked on the puppets, I remembered fondly several Christmas crafts given to me as a child.  One year an aunt sent me a Christmas tree made with graduated rings of white crinoline covered with stars, all stacked on a candle.  For years, I felt this was the most beautiful Christmas tree in the world, especially when I was allowed to put it together on the candle as we were decorating the house.  Another special hand-made Christmas gift was an embroidered doll blanket made for me by my Grandmother using scraps of silk fabrics.  Both the crinoline Christmas tree and the doll blanket have long since gone, but I still keep happy memories of both.

Shh-h-h-h!  Don't tell my little one about her puppets.  I want it to be a big surprise for her.

*The Advent Calender of Christmas memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories* December 3 - Christmas Music

The Trapp Family Book of Christmas Songs
selected and arranged by Franz Wasner and illustrated by Agathe Trapp
Pantheon Books, c1950 

My Grandmother, Gertrude Andrews Myren, was an accomplished musician.  She was also a fan of the Trapp Family singers, having seen then perform.  Years ago, my mother and I spied this book, The Trapp Family Book of Christmas Songs.  Mother and I knew it would be the perfect Christmas gift for Grandmother, and it was.  Now the book has been passed on to me and is one of the first of my Christmas things to be put in place each year.

The book opens with an introduction by Maria Auguste Trapp in which she described the various types of Christmas music associated with different cultures throughout the ages.  The beautiful illustrations throughout the book were woodcuts done by Agathe Trapp.

What makes this book such a special part of Christmas for me, beyond its association with my Grandmother, is the variety of carols it includes - Latin, traditional English and German carols, American folk carols, as well as music from Austria, Poland, and other countries. The book is truly a reminder that Christmas does not belong to any one culture, it is for all people to celebrate.

Besides, where else besides this book could I find all the verses of "O Tannenbaum!" in German?

*The Advent Calendar of Christmas memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family's holiday history twenty-four different ways during December!  Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Military Monday: Ernest Vaughn Perkinson

Ancestry.com recently added a new database, "Georgia, World War One Service Cards, 1917-1919".  I had already used their database of World War I Draft Registration Cards for a number of my relatives, but I wanted to look around this new database since it contained records about officers in World War I from the state of Georgia.

I started by searching for any Perkinsons in the database.  The only family name shown was that of my Grand Uncle Ernest Vaughn Perkinson.  Side 1 of Ernest's service card showed the date of his appointment as an officer as well as a list of the various places he had been stationed.  Side 2 provided some new information, the fact that he had been inducted at Washington, DC.  All this time I thought that Ernest had been back in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Georgia, World War I Service Card for Ernest V Perkinson, side 2
source: Ancestry.com

The Service Card showed that Ernest was inducted into the Army on 29 Jul 1918, appointed Sergeant First Class on 6 Aug 1918, then honorably discharged on 6 Oct 1918 to accept a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  He remained with the 472 Engineers until he was finally discharged on 2 Jun 1919, six months after the war had ended.  The Service Card had provided a clear timeline of Ernest's military service.

But what brought Ernest to Washington, DC to enlist, especially as his residence was listed as Woodstock, Georgia?  That answer came as I looked back at his draft registration card.  It turns out that Ernest had been a surveyor with the International Boundary Commission of the State Department.  In the 1910 census, Ernest's occupation had been listed as a civil engineer with the US government.  Now I knew more about this work.  He had actually registered for the draft in Maine in May, 1917, as he apparently was working there as a surveyor.    Interestingly, by direction of the US Boundary Commissioner, he was seeking an exemption from the draft. 

World War I Draft Registration Card for Ernest Vaughn Perkinson
source: Ancestry.com

The final bit of military information I found that day was the application filed by Ernest's wife for a military headstone for his grave.(1)  It was interesting to see the verification of Ernest's military record - enlistment date, honorable discharge, his rank and branch of service - that was part of obtaining that marker for him.  The only surprise was seeing his name listed as Ernest Vaughn Perkinson.  The draft registration card had listed his name as Vaughn, but I had assumed it was just recorded incorrectly by the draft registrar.  All these years I had thought (incorrectly) that his middle name was spelled Vaughan, like the maiden name of my Grandmother Annie Laurie Vaughan Perkinson.  Wrong!  Ernest was related to Annie Laurie only as her brother-in-law, so there was no requirement that his name be spelled as my grandmother's surname.  Where the Vaughn in Ernest's name come from is probably another story.

Lessons learned:  
  • If you use Ancestry.com, it pays to look at their list of new and updated databases.  There is no telling what you might find.
  • Take the time to look at previous records with new eyes.  I had looked at Ernest's draft registration card before but had not noticed the link to Washington, DC, or the request for a draft exemption.
  • Once again, information about a relative has lead me to learn more about my country's history, in this case the work of the International Boundary Commission.  I had assumed that the US / Canada border had been firmly established long before 1918.  The Boundary Commission's website provides some interesting information about the work of this joint US / Canadian commission, work which continues today.
  • One more reminder that assumptions aren't facts.  Just because Ernest's middle name was Vaughn did not mean he was related to the Vaughan family, even if my mind kept automatically making that connection.
(1)  Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. "Application for Headstone or Marker" for Ernest Vaughn Perkinson; citing Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.