Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Stories from a Bible


It all started when a friend dropped by my house to show me an old Bible she had picked up at a thrift store. She carefully handled the small leather bound book as she showed it to me. The leather binding was intact, and all of the pages seemed to be there. The Bible itself was small, approximately 3 and 4 ½ inches, and it contained just the New Testament and the book of Psalms. The cover, definitely showing the effects of wear, appeared to be a tooled leather design, and the brass hinge on the side was still operational. I could see why my friend was so pleased to add it to her collection.


The Bible was published in Glasgow, Scotland in 1853, given to someone in Massachusetts in 1863, and purchased from a Georgia thrift store in 2022. Surely there were some interesting stories relating to that Bible. I was hooked and knew I wanted to learn more about that Bible and the name written on it so I started taking pictures of the Bible as we talked. Later I spent the afternoon researching Henry Bailey and trying to find a few answers to our questions.


Left front end page

Question 1: Who was Henry Bailey and what was his role in the Civil War?

 The starting place for me was reading the left front end page which had these two inscriptions: 

"Henry Bailey, Co I, 45th Regt, M Voll, Milford, Mass, 1863" 

"Fort Macon, Beaufort Harbour, NC"

Imagine my surprise when my initial Ancestry search for a Henry Bailey in Milford, Massachusetts, turned up some very helpful information. The first reference was from Ancestry’s database U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865. This record provided a wealth of information about the Henry Bailey who had owned or been given the Bible, including:

  • Birth date and place
  • Enlistment and discharge dates and places
  • Military unit (Co I of the 45th Massachussetts Infantry)
  • Death date (1922) and burial place

It was enough information matching the inscription on the Bible’s front end page that I felt I was on the right track. It was also specific enough for me to start a Family Tree Maker tree for Henry Bailey so I had a place to record any information I found about him.

 The Ancestry search also had references to years of US census records, enough for me to learn the names of his parents (George and Harriet) and that of his sister (Ella). In addition, the 1920 US census entry indicated that Henry immigrated to the United States in 1849 and was naturalized in 1868, more parts to the story of Henry Bailey. This meant that Henry came to the United States as a young child of three, enlisted to fight in the US Civil War although he was not yet an American citizen, and chose to denounce his English citizenship after fighting in this war.

 I was also interested in learning more about the military union in which Henry served, Co I of the 45th Massachusetts Infantry. The Action Memorial Civil War Library had a short piece of Henry’s unit.(1) It was clear that Henry enlisted in the early days of the unit, traveled with the unit to Fort Macon, Beaufort, NC, and stayed with the unit until it was mustered out of service in July of 1863.

 A second period of action for Henry in the Civil War showed up on the 1890 US Census Veterans Schedule on Ancestry.com. Henry apparently enlisted a second time in December of 1863, staying with Co A of the 1st Massachusetts Battalion until the end of the war.(2)

Question 2: Who is the “Emma” who inscribed the Bible on the right flyleaf?


Inscription: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Alas, I did not seem to find an answer to this question. From US census records, it was clear that Henry had a younger sister, Ella. There is no indication that Henry was married in 1863 when the Bible was apparently in his possession, probably eliminating the chance that a wife named Emma has given him the Bible. When he did marry in 1872, it was to Ella Jeannette Morse, another Ella, not an Emma.(3)

Question 3: How did that Bible get from Massachusetts to a Georgia thrift shop?

Finding a possible answer to this question took some searching and, admittedly, some speculation. Using US Census records and FindAGrave memorials, I found a descendent of Henry living in Georgia in the 1980s. Her obituary listed a grandson living in the Atlanta area. A few quick Google and social media searches showed an individual with the exact same name as that grandson living just a few miles from the thrift shop where my friend purchased the Bible. Is this the answer? A coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it at least seems to be a possibility.

So, it turn out that my friend picked up a real treasure, that small Bible over 160 years old with its leather binding and brass hinge both still present and functioning. Researching shed some light onto a family who emigrated from England and established themselves as Massachusetts business owners, a family whose son enlisted to fight in the Civil War, a family where both father and son eventually become American citizens. Had this been part of my family, I definitely would have included it in one of my “Coming to America” posts for events such as these are common to many of our families.

Now back to researching my family, helping to transcribe the 1950 US Census, and indexing patriot records for the DAR, at least until some new treasure catches my interest.

1. "Forty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (Infantry) Nine Months", Action Memorial Library Civil War Archives, https://www.actonmemoriallibrary.org/civilwar/index.html.

2. "1890 Veterans Schedule, Massachusetts, Worcester, Milford, p 7, entry for Henry J Bailey", accessed www.ancestry.com.

3. "Milford, Births, Marriages, and Deaths", image 779 of 2038, Massachusetts, U.S. Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, www.ancestry.com.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Coming to America: Cyprian and Margaret Prou, Indentured Servants

Sample Indenture Contract
source: http://www.virtualjamestown.org/indentures/sample_indenture

Several years ago I came across an interesting book on FamilySearch.org, Anderson, Cockrill, Moffett, Smith & Allied Families of Northern Virginia. I was actually looking for another ancestor when I stumbled across a chapter about Cyprian/Cyprien Prou, my 7th GreatGrandfather. For once, I actually downloaded the information about Cyprian and then returned to my original quest.

Fast forward to several years to 2021. I was now a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, thanks to my 4th GreatGrandfather Enoch Benson. I was now living in Georgia, close to where Enoch lived and a number of relatives were buried. Covid days gave me the opportunity to spend a lot more time learning about Enoch and his ancestors. And this lead me to Enoch's 3rd GreatGrandfather and my 7th, Cyprian Prou.

I was surprised at the pieces of information I had found over the years about Cyprian, some for which I had actually recorded a source. The thing that peaked my curiosity right away was a notation that Cyprian Prou had been an indentured servant. I wanted to know more about this circumstance, what lead to it, and what happened after he arrived in America. Looking for these things definitely took me back in time and introduced me to a variety of resources, all helping Cyprian become more real to me.

The first sourced information I found about Cyprian was a marriage record for Cyprian and his wife Margaret. According to the Vestry Register for the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in London, Cyprian Prou and Margaret Vensanden where married there on 16 Jul 1683.(1) Another source concerning their marriage was found in Ancestry's "Virginia, Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800". This entry provided the same date and place of their marriage and also included that Cyprian Prou had been born about 1663 in France. Cyprian's name suggested that he was of French descent while Margaret's suggests that she may have had Dutch or other European ancestors. Trying to verify their births and ancestors will have to wait for other days.

I found several records indicating that Cyprian had been an indentured servant as was his wife Margaret Vensanden Prou. The Virginia Colonial Records Project accessed through the Library of Virginia had online transcriptions of "Quarter Sessions Records, Plantation Indentures 1682/3 - 1684.(2) Report #2152 provided the following entry:
Margaret Prou(?), about 24, to Richard Bray. 4 years, "working in the ground excepted". 28 August 1684.

Cyprian Prou(?), about 21, to Richard Bray. 4 years, "working in the ground excepted". 28 August 1684.

What an entry! Name, age and probable birth year, length of the indenture, and a date to explore.

The records of Virtual Jamestown presented similar information but with some important clarifications.(3) The records were in table form and indicated:

  • Margaret and Cyprian were going to Virginia.
  • The date of 28 August 1684 was the date their indenture was signed.
  • The normal indenture period was four years.
  • Richard Bray of Maryland was the agent to whom they were indentured.
A bonus on the Virtual Jamestown web site was the transcriptions of two indenture contracts. Both contracts provided interesting information about the indenture process. In the 1755 contact for William Buckland, he was referred to as a "Covenant Servant" who was to serve the Executor on the "Plantation of Virginia beyond the seas" for a period of four years. It also mentioned his skill as a carpenter and joiner.  Furthermore, the contract stated that Buckland would be paid the standard annual rate of "20 pounds sterling, payable quarterly". From the entries for Margaret and Cyprian, it seemed that they would not be farming or "working in the ground", as they were excepted (exempted) from that type of work. Perhaps this meant that they, too, had some special skills.

The contract for Richard Lowther, written over 100 years earlier, provided more details about the person to whom Lowther was indentured or covenanted, Edward Hurd. Mr. Hurd as to "provide sufficient meate, drink, apparrell, and other necewaryes for his livelihood and maynetence dureing the said time", and at the conclusion of the contract, Hurd was to give to Richard Lowther "fifty acres of land in Virginia" for Lowther, his heirs, and assignees forever. Both documents were actually signed in England but apparently came with them to the Virginia colony.

I stumbled upon yet one more interesting part of Cyrprian and Margaret's story. On 8 Jun 1684, Marie Prou, the daughter of Cyprian and Margaret was baptized at the French Huguenot Church on Threadneedle Street in London.(4) This meant that they were embarking on a new life, one that would require significant labor on their parts, with a two month old infant. I cannot imagine what that experience would have been like.

Admittedly some of the journal articles I found concerning the status of indentures servants suggested that life may not have turned out to be as they had expected, but one record for Cyprian points to a more successful life in the Virginia Colony. In April of 1704, 20 years after Cyprian and Margaret arrived in the colony, Cyprian and several others petitioned the Virginia House of Burgesses to become naturalized citizens.(5) His naturalization petition was then approved in the House of Burgesses on 8 May 1704.(6)

"And upon consideration of the report of the said Committee upon the Petitions of John Gill, Stephen Gill, Samuel de Monville Teleije Alverton, Isaac Garret, Peter Rucks, and Clypian Prou praying to be Naturalized. The House agreed to the report of the Committee - That it is reasonable the said persons should be naturalized when they are qualifyed by taking the Oathes Enjoyned by Law."

Through the years Cyprian apparently acquired property and was able to support his growing family of five daughters for he wrote and signed a will on 16 Oct 1712.(7) Were he still indentured or without any property or other assets there would been little reason to draw up such a legal document. In his will, one page of which appears as a picture attached to an Ancestry Tree, Cyprian left some furniture to his daughter Frances (my 6 GreatGrandmother). He also named three daughters, Margaret, Susan, and Frances, as executors and stipulated that the remainder of his estate to be divided equally among the three.(8) All of this points to Cyprian having a sizeable estate at the time of his death. For Cyprian Prou, coming to the Virginia Colony seemed to have enabled him to have a prosperous life.

Tale of the Timeline shows the following

  • 1683 - living in England
  • 1683 - married to Margaret Vensanden
  • 1684 - birth of oldest child, Marie
  • 1684 - signed contract to be an indentured servant in the Virginia Colony, came to the Virginia Colony
  • 1704 - petitioned for naturalization and was approved to be a naturalized citizen of the Virginia Colony
  • 1712 - died, his will filed for probate on 5 Nov 1712
Learning something about an ancestor causes me to want to know still more about that person. Things such as what caused Cyprian and Margaret to decide to come to the colonies?  I would be thrilled to find the actual indenture contract that he or Margaret signed, especially if it explained why the couple was "excepted from working in the ground". Perhaps I can locate and read Cyprian's complete will and additional probate documents to get a better picture of the life that he had made for himself and his family in the colony. There are also some unsourced suggestions that Margaret may have died before Cyprian and that he later remarried. After I learned that Cyprian Prou's name appears in the "List of Qualified Huguenot Ancestors" of the National Huguenot Society, I need to look into their research materials. Then I saw several online trees that suggest that another ancestor, Thomas Benson, was also an indentured servant, coming to the Virginia Colony at about that same time. 
And, the list goes on ...


#indenturedservants #immigrantancestors #ProuGenealogy

1. London, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online]. "Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812", records from City of London, Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower, 1680-1695; record accessed through Ancestry.com.
2. Library of Virginia. Virginia Colonial Records Project, Middlesex County Record Office, "Quarter Sessions Records, Plantation Indentures 1682/3-1684." Indentures for service in Virginia, 1684; record accessed through www.lva.virginia.gov
3. Virtual Jamestown [web site], "Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654-1686; record accessed through http://www.virtualjamestown.org
4. "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975" database, FarmilySearch.org
5.  Whitley, Edythe Johns Rucker. History of the Rucker family and their descendants. Hermitage Printing, 1927; accessed through www.hathitrust.org
6. McIlwaine, H R, ed., Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia 1702/3-1705, 1705-1706, 1710-1712, p 74, accessed through www.ancestraltrackers.net.
7. Burgess, James A. Anderson, Cockrill, Moffett, Smith & Allied Families of Northern Virginia; record accessed through FamilySearch.org.
8. Ancestry Tree 168705053, person 212209830156.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Thoughts From Ferabrew Cemetery

 It was great to finally be out on a cool summer day with a hiking group on a trek into the North Georgia Mountains. Our guide mentioned that we'd be walking through part of a national forest for a while then heading to see two different waterfalls (which was the reason I signed up for this hike in the first place).

The four mile hike on an unpaved, forest service road lead us to Ferabrew Cemetery. It also lead us back in time and left me with a head swirling with questions. After reading the brief history provided on the sign, I was anxious to see this old cemetery.

US Forest Service sign giving a brief history of the cemetery

I was surprised to see that it was a small, abandoned, overgrown cemetery, filled with a number of large rocks scattered around the cleaning. In the center of the approximately 30 x 20 foot area was a large stone box, apparently the burial place of Alias Ferabrew, the lid of which seemed simply placed (rather than adhered) onto the box. The inscription on the lid was virtually impossible to read. You can see where the first hikers in had tried to clear off the leaves to make it easier to read.

The only stone crypt we saw, reportedly that for Alias Ferabrew

Inscription on the lid of the crypt
Near by were two marble or granite markers, definitely more contemporary than the stone box, indicating that Mahula Brown Brady and James Dean Brady were also buried there.

As I walked through the rest of the area I kept seeing more rocks, various sizes, different shapes, located here and there in the cleaning with no names, dates, or even apparent intended order to their arrangement. For whom were these the markers of their final resting place?

The next day as I was looking at my pictures, I found myself wanting to learn more about the Bradys. My first step was to set up a family tree for Mahulda Brown Brady in Family Tree Maker. In a short time, census records for 1850-1900 provided me with information that, just as I thought, Mahulda Brown Brady and James Dean Brady were husband and wife as well as parents of at least 10 children. From their marriage in 1841 (according to the 1900 census) the family seemed to have resided in this same section of Habersham (now Stephens) County in northeast Georgia. The same surnames of other families also kept appearing in those census records. It all suggested a small, stable farming community that had developed in what had formerly been Cherokee Indian tribal land. 

Probate records also provided some additional information about Mahulda and James. Although his marker indicated that James died in 1902, probate records for (then) Hambersham County indicated that James had died in March of 1901.(1) A son, James Elias Brady was appointed guardian for Mahulda until her death in 1902. The Brady estate was finally settled in 1905 following the last sale of property and distribution of funds to the heirs.

The markers for Mahulda and James seemed new, not a hundred plus years old. After a little more research, I now think they had been placed there in the past 20 years. According to information posted on USGenWeb a cemetery survey done in 2004 indicated that "a total of 34 graves were counted with 33 being marked with field stones, no inscriptions, and 1 marked with soap stone slabs stacked to form a vault with inscriptions." This may suggest that someone, perhaps family members, placed the markers for Mahulda and James after this 2004 cemetery survey.

There were also some photos of the cemetery on the blog "Faded Footprints, the Lake Russell Wildlike Management Area". A group had apparently cleaned the cemetery area back in 2012, noting at that time that there were 30 graves and four stone crypts. On our hike in 2021, we only saw the one large crypt which, according to the forest service sign, was Alias Ferabrew's burial site.

Oh, yes, later in the day, we stopped at that 180 foot waterfall. I marveled at its beauty, took some pictures, and enjoyed the peace of that area. In addition I'll always have another memory from that hike, the memory of that abandoned cemetery and the glimpse into past lives that it stimulated.

Final thoughts:
  • There was no information on either Find A Grave or Billion Graves for Ferabrew / Ferabre Cemetery so I added the cemetery and my photos of the markers for Mahulda Brown Brady and James Dean Brady onto Find A Grave. Perhaps someday this might help one of their descendants.
  • I keep wondering who the first settlers were who moved onto this land, most likely having been some of the "fortunate drawers" in one of the Georgia Land Lotteries.
  • Today so much of this area is part of a national forest. Where are all the descendants of those early families today?
  • "Rabbit Hole Genealogy", my term for suddenly chasing a name or unconnected tidbit of information, can sometimes be an interesting learning experience. Now I wonder if the Brady I stumbled across in the Cherokee Land Lottery of 1837, the one who draw a lot for land in Habersham County, was kin to James Dean Brady?

1.  Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992 [database on-line], Habersham, Estate Case Files, 1800-1915, Brady, J D-Crow, Ervin and Nettie; folder of J D Brady, accessed on www.Ancestry.com.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Getting From HERE to THERE In Quarantine Time

After seven weeks of self-imposed quarantine and state mandated "shelter-in-place" during the Spring of 2020, I had put a big dent in my pile of research documents that had needed to be filed. I was actually studying, documenting, labeling, and filing almost every other day. But then one day, I came across a land record that had been in my pile for almost three years. I was ready to do a "Genealogy Happy Dance" because that record sparked my curiosity, making me want to learn more about it, and, admittedly, letting me leave filing for a while without feeling any guilt.

The document was a land warrant conveying 236 acres in Green(e) County, Tennessee to Joseph Bogle, my husband's fourth GreatGrandfather. Were my husband still alive, I knew this would have been some research he would have wanted to help me explore. And explore I did.

"Ancestry.com. North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931"

Step 1: The first thing I needed to do was to transcribe that document written over 230 years ago. I had found the record in Ancestry's database of "North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931", but the transcription made the record so much easier to read. For convenience, I also photocopied my transcription onto the source citation I had downloaded with the record.

Step 2: Although I no longer lived in the area, I still had a real interest in learning more about where the land belonging to Joseph Bogle was actually located. I wanted to see if I could find the 236 acre plot on a topographic map of Greene County, Tennessee (today the name of the county is spelled with that final "e").

Google Maps made it quick to find Little Chucky Creek in Greene County, but locating Delaney Creek took some time. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) now had free map downloads available on their website using the the TNM download. It was relatively easy to follow the course of Little Chuckey Creek on the topographic map of Greene County. After a few minutes of sizing and resizing portions of the sectional maps for Greeneville and Mosheim (towns in Greene County), I found "Little Chuckey at the mouth of Delaney Creek" or Little Chucky Creek and Dulaney Branch as they are labeled on the current topographic map.

The red diamond indicates where Dulaney Branch runs into the Little Chucky Creek

Step 3: The warrant was for 236 acres, but knowing the hills, valleys, creeks, and rivers of this area, I had to wonder what that plat of land might look like. I knew there was platting software available to purchase, but I was hoping to find a free way to plat the land warrant. Online I found two great articles that explained just how to do that. Both articles are now printed and in my "Land Records" research folder.

Mark Hamilton's The Walden Effect blog had a post on "How to Map Property Boundaries From a Deed". (1) I especially appreciated the photos of his platting process. Hamilton also included a diagram of a surveyor's compass, an instrument that turned out to be much easier to use than the old school protractor I found in my desk. I followed his suggestion to photocopy the compass and was finally able to get my final plat line to join back to the starting point of my property drawing. Hurrah!

The second helpful article "Land Platting Made Easy" was written by Kimberly Powell.(2) It featured a step by step process for platting as well as helpful descriptions and examples. Basically I followed Powell's list of steps and referred to Hamilton's post for visuals.

Powell's article called for transcribing the deed or land warrant and creating a call list before ever attempting to plat the deed. Transcribing the land warrant I had found online made it much easier to read and to double check my directions. The call list is simply a list of the directions that were taken in the survey, things like:
  • Beginning at Gamel's at a dogwood  (Starting point of the survey was apparently property belonging to a Mr. Gamel, at the corner where there was a dogwood tree)
  • On a line South 47 East (From the dogwood tree, go on a course of SE 47 degrees)
  • One hundred and ten poles to a hill to a poplar (Go on this SE course for 110 poles or 1815.0 feet as 1 pole equals 16.5 feet to the poplar tree on the hill)
Having the list also made it simple to check off each step as I had marked it on my graph paper which had been a free download from PrintFreeGraphPaper.com.

My transcription and Calls List for the land warrant.

After switching from the school protractor to the surveyor's compass, I finally came up with a plat that was a visual for the information presented in the land warrant.  

My plat drawing, made with the help of a paper surveyor's compass.

Step 4: The final step was to compare my drawing with the topographic map I had found. Would my drawing fit? Unfortunately I had not made my land plat on the same scale as the downloaded USGS map so I had to do so thinking here. Going back to the map segment I downloaded in Step 2, I noticed that it was shown with the scale of 2 cm equals 1000 feet. With that basic information I copied the photo of my plat drawing and resized it on a Word document until that long East to West line from a stake to the poplar was 5 1/2 cm / 2 1/8" to more accurately represent the 165 poles / 2722.5 ft indicated in the land warrant.

After cutting out the resized shape, I tried putting it onto the larger 2 cm = 1000 feet map, hoping to find a place where Joseph Bogel's property seemed to fit. No matter where I placed the plat shape, I wasn't able to find a spot near the juncture of Little Church Creek and Delaney Branch that had a hill where the shape indicated one should be. The exact location will need to be determined by someone who actually knows what s/he is doing.

Plat template and the map

Spending this time looking at the deed, drawing the boundary lines for the property, and trying to locate the area was a welcomed break from filing. I also leaned about some new resources that I expect to use in the future.

And, of course, I ended up with more questions. After all, Joseph Bogle was living about 50 miles away in Blount County at the time the land warrant was written, living there up to his death in 1790. Did Joseph Bogle ever set foot on this property? Was the land meant to be payment to him for his service in the Revolutionary War? Did he sell it? Did he not act on the land warrant such that it just went to someone else? More questions for another day. And perhaps I will find another treasure to examine when I return to filing.


(1) Hamilton, Mark, "How to map property boundaries from a deed". The Walden Effect. accessed 4 Apr 2020. http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/How_to_map_property_boundaries_from_a_deed/.
(2) Powell, Kimberly. "Land Platting Made Easy." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/land-platting-made-easy-1422116.