Covering genealogy, family history, historical events and places, and anything else related!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Funeral Card Friday: Paulina (Gersbacher) Schneider

Memorial card for my great-grandmother Paulina (Gersbacher) Schneider
Born 13 August 1876, Niederwihl, Waldshut, Baden, Germany
Died 1 December 1966, St. Louis, Missouri

Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 Nancy Gower

My 6th-great-grandmother Nancy Gower was part of the Donelson Flotilla. She was the daughter of Abel Gower Sr. (Yes, I am descended from two of the children of Abel Gower Sr.!) John Haywood wrote about Nancy in The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee from Its Earliest Settlement Up to the Year 1796: Including the Boundaries of the State (Nashville, Tennessee, W. H. Haywood, 1891; reprint of 1823 edition). On March 8, 1780, the group traveled down the Tennessee River, and when they reached the Suck, a group of Native Americans that had been pursuing them appeared and attacked. Nancy was in her father's boat, and she took the helm and steered the boat as the Native Americans fired at them. Nancy was wounded, but no one realized until her mother noticed blood on her clothes.

Nancy married Andrew Lucas, and their daughter Obedience married Nathan Gatlin. Nathan's son John McNairy Gatlin married Margaret "Peggy" Gower, who was the daughter of William Gower, the granddaughter of Abel Gower Jr., and the great-granddaughter of Abel Gower Sr. Here my Gower lines come together.

Images of the Suck:

Monday, February 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #5 William Dow Gatlin, Ax Murderer

In 2007, I took a research trip to Nashville, Tennessee. While I was there, I visited the nearby Williamson County Archives in Franklin, Tennessee. I came across the book Obituaries from Tennessee Newspapers, compiled by Jill L. Garrett (Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1995). I checked the index and found that William Gatlin was mentioned on page 159. I found the following entry:

HASLAM. The body of Samuel Haslam, 25, stonecutter, has been found horribly mutilated. William Gatlin, 45, bricklayer, has been arrested for the crime. (Nashville Union and American, 15 Sept. 1874.)

I had been expecting to find a death notice, not an arrest for murder! The description fit my 3rd-great-grandfather William Dow Gatlin, born 27 April 1927 in Davidson County, Tennessee, son of John McNairy Gatlin and Margaret "Peggy" Gower, and grandson of Methodist preacher William Gower. I needed to find that newspaper article. The next day I went to the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. I looked at the Nashville Union and American on microfilm and found the article and two shorter follow-up items. The accused was definitely my 3rd-great-grandfather!

Samuel Haslam had been a boarder in the home of the Gatlin family. He had allegedly been having an affair with my 3rd-great-grandmother Mary (Nevins) Gatlin, who William had married on 3 January 1855 in Davidson County, Tennessee. William came home and found Mary sleeping in Samuel's room, and they got into a physical fight. Mary intended to file for divorce, and she asked Samuel to accompany her. At 4:00 AM on Sunday, William and Mary's son Clarence found Samuel lying in a pool of blood, and he ran to get his mother. Mary reached Samuel just before he died, but he was unable to speak. Samuel had been struck by an ax. William was arrested that night at the home of his cousin William Gower. When he was asked if he knew why he was being arrested, he said "I suppose it is for murder." (Nashville Union and American, 15 September 1874, p. 4.)

William was acquitted due to insufficient evidence. However, based on what I read about the case, I believe that he got away with murder.

William and Mary remained married until her death on 9 September 1888. They were apart for a little while after the murder trial, though; Mary is listed as a widow in the 1877 and 1878 Nashville city directories, but by 1879, William was once again listed in the Nashville city directory, and the 1880 United States census shows that he and Mary were in the same household. I wonder if William may have spent time in prison for something else. His children, brother, and widowed mother were all in Nashville; I can't think of any other reason that he would have left the area, and he did return.

William died on 4 March 1911 in Nashville. He and Mary are buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, in Sec. 1C Lot South Port 328. I visited their gravesite when I was in Nashville; it is unmarked.

The articles from the Nashville Union and American that I viewed on microfilm are now available online through Chronicling America:

Nashville Union and American, 15 September 1874, image 4
Nashville Union and American, 19 September 1874, image 4
Nashville Union and American, 20 September 1874, image 4

An article from the Nashville Republican Banner is also available online:
Nashville Republican Banner, 13 September 1874

Friday, February 7, 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 William Gower, Methodist Preacher

My 5th-great-grandfather William Gower was born on 26 October 1776 in Wake County, North Carolina. He was a member of one of the first families of Tennessee; he arrived when he was only four years old. At that young age, he also lost both his father and grandfather. Abel Gower Jr. (my 6th-great-grandfather) and Abel Gower Sr. (my 7th-great-grandfather) were killed by Chickamaugas at Clover Bottom in 1780. William Gower married Charlotte Garland on 15 January 1802 in Davidson County, Tennessee. The following year, he heard Lorenzo Dow preach and was so moved that he professed his faith. John B. McFerrin stated that William Gower began to "call forth sinners to repentance" (p. 380). He was licensed to preach by William McKendree (Woodward, 1920). In 1803 William named his first son Lorenzo Dow, and in 1805 he named his first daughter (my 4th-great-grandmother) Margaret "Peggy" after Lorenzo Dow's wife. His church, Gower's Chapel, was across from his home, and it was used as a school on weekdays (Kelley, 1987). In 1885 a new church building, Centenary United Methodist Church, was constructed on the property ("Centenary UMC Homecoming," 2007).

William Gower died on 11 October 1851. The following day, his funeral was conducted by John B. McFerrin (Woodward, 1920). His will was recorded on 23 April 1852. He was buried in Gower Cemetery, located on the hillside below what is now Centenary United Methodist Church.  I had hoped to visit Gower Cemetery when I traveled to Nashville in 2007. Unfortunately I was unable to visit the cemetery because a dog was loose in the area and it looked like it was going to come after me if I got too close. I hope to go back to Nashville eventually, and hopefully I will get a chance to visit the cemetery.

"Centenary UMC Homecoming." Westview 31 no. 45 (Oct. 17, 2007): 2.
Kelley, Sarah Foster. West Nashville: Its People and Environs. Nashville: Sarah F. Kelley, 1987.
McFerrin, John B. History of Methodism in Tennessee. Vol. 1: From the Year 1783 to the Year 1804. Nashville: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, 1888.
Woodward, J. E. History of the Gower Family. Nashville: Harry V. L. Gower, 1920.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 Anna "Ann" Walker

According to the Winters family Bible, my 3rd-great-grandmother Anna "Ann" Walker was born on 28 February 1842. The family Bible does not give her place of birth, but according to census records (the 1855 New York State Census, the 1860 United States Census, and the 1870 United States Census), she was born in Ireland. When the 1855 New York State Census became available online, I finally learned more about Ann's family. Because she was only 17 when she married John Bennet Winters in Tonawanda, Erie County, New York on 10 October 1859, I thought it was likely that she had come to the United States with family. I found an Ann Walker of the right age and birthplace and in the right geographical area, and when I located her family in the 1860 United States Census, she was not with them, which fit well with her being Ann Winters, enumerated in the household of her husband John Winters, and married within the year.

I got really lucky when I found two enumerations for the Walker family in the 1855 New York State Census; they moved at the time that the census was taken, and were enumerated before and after they moved. The first enumeration was in Seneca, Ontario County, New York. Ann was enumerated with her widowed mother Ann, her older brother James, her younger brother William, and her younger sister Dora. William and Dora were the same age, apparently twins. The twins were born in Ontario County, New York, and the family had lived in Seneca for 9 years.The family was living with Miranda Waters, born in Otsego County, and her daughter Matilda, born in Ontario County. Miranda and Matilda had lived in Seneca for 7 years.

The second enumeration was in Buffalo, Erie County, New York. The family had lived in Buffalo for 1/12 of a year. According to this census record, William and Dora were born in Canada. Although it is possible that the enumerator confused Ontario County with Ontario, Canada, I suspect that they were actually born in Canada. According to the 1860 United States Census, they were born in Canada. I could not find the Walker family in the 1850 United States Census. The family may have come to North America 9 years earlier and settled in Canada (probably Ontario) first, and then gone to New York.

By 1866, Ann had moved to Chicago, Illinois with her husband and children. After losing three of her four children and probably being displaced by the Great Chicago Fire, Ann died at the young age of 30. According to the Winters family Bible, she died on 19 September 1872 at Lake Side between Highland Park and Glencoe, State of Illinois and was buried at Lakeside Cemetery, close by the head of Lake Michigan. I have not found a Lakeside Cemetery in that area. I am not sure if the cemetery name is correct, and the cemetery may not exist any more. It may have been in the area that is now Lincoln Park. I am still trying to determine precisely where the Winters family lived in 1872, and I am looking for more information on her burial site.