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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

52 Ancestors: #21 Thomas "Tom" Cox, Convicted Murderer Sentenced to Death

My 3rd-great-grandfather William Dow Gatlin is not the only murderer in my family tree. My great-great-grandmother Sarah Claire "Sadie" Dyer's half-brother Thomas "Tom" Cox also committed murder. Tom was the son of my 3rd-great-grandmother Mary (widow of Michael Dyer) and John Cox. He was born on 6 March 1875 in Nashville, Tennessee. By 1880, Mary Cox was raising seven children alone. In the 1894, 1897, and 1898 Nashville city directories, Tom Cox was listed as a livestock trader.

In 1894, Tom Cox was involved in a bar fight in which saloon keeper Tom Ramsey killed Tom Fagan and Riley Foreman. On 30 July 1896, Tom shot and severely wounded Henry Steele, an African-American man. On 7 September 1896, Tom, Pat O'Donnell, and T.C. Austin assaulted Special Policeman F. M. Irwin on the Cumberland River Bridge. Tom was pardoned on 31 January 1898. The other two men were pardoned a few days earlier. On 2 February 1899, Tom Cox shot William Freeman, a piano tuner, at Garrett's saloon on North College Street. William Freeman died about ten days later. Tom was tried twice; after two hung juries, the case was nolled on 2 May 1899.

In 1900, Tom was living with his wife Katie, daughter Annie, and his wife's brother and sister. He had been married for two years, and he was working as a bartender.

On 6 December 1903, Tom shot patrolman Ben F. Dowell at the corner of Lindsley Ave. and Market Street, in front of Grace Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and Ben Dowell died the following day. Prior to the shooting, Ben Dowell had arrested Tom's sister Nellie (Cox) McDonough for disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer. He had been watching the McDonoughs' saloon to see if it was open on a Sunday.

Tom Cox was found guilty of murder in the first degree with mitigating circumstances, and he was sentenced to death. Before he could be executed, he committed suicide on 3 May 1905, by opium and mercurial poisoning. Before he died, a priest administered last rites to him, so he had a Catholic funeral and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Nashville.

Tom's death certificate states that he was divorced, but I have not yet determined when he and his wife separated. William Gatlin, his brother-in-law (my great-great-grandfather, and husband of Sadie Dyer), was the informant on the death certificate, and the funeral took place from his home. I have wondered how Tom got the opium and mercury; although I have no proof, I wonder if maybe William Gatlin helped him. Tom was going to die anyway, and wanted to do so on his own terms. And if he were executed, he could not have had a Catholic funeral and been buried in a Catholic cemetery.

All of Tom Cox's crimes are described in "Small Chance for Recovery," Nashville Banner, 7 December 1903.

Tennessee City Death Records: Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis 1848-1907. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Thomas Cox death certificate, 3 May 1905.

Nashville American, 5 May 1905

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hug Your Cat Day

Today is Hug Your Cat Day. Pets are part of the family, so I think they have a place in family history. I currently have five cats. In December 2010, I adopted Jewel. She had been left behind in an empty apartment, and them spent almost 6 months with the rescue group S.T.A.R.T. II. My vet estimated her to be about 6 or 7 years old at the time. In August 2011, I adopted Harmony from P.A.T.C.H., the cat shelter I volunteer at, just before her first birthday. She had been at the shelter since she was about 6 weeks old. When I moved to a house last fall, I was no longer limited to two cats. Harmony's littermates Melody and Luna, were still at the shelter. I had become very attached to them, and for a long time I had considered them extended family because they were Harmony's sisters. So they moved in with me. Earlier this month, I found three abandoned two-week-old kittens in my backyard by my garbage can. I took them in and began bottle-feeding them. One of the little boys and the little girl passed away within a week, but the other little boy is still with me and is doing well. I named him Flash, and he is now a permanent part of my family.

Harmony and Melody were featured in the April 11, 2014 Friday Funny.





Flash, 4 weeks old

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Father's Day in Germany

Today is Father's Day (Vatertag, Männertag, or Herrentag) in Germany. The day is dedicated to all men and is celebrated on Ascension Day each year. It is like a "boys' day out" and often includes drinking. The custom began in the Middle Ages as a procession dedicated to "Gott, den Vater" (God, our Father).

For more information, see the links below:
Etwas für den Vatertag (in English)
Father's Day and Vatertag
Germans observe Ascension Day, Father’s Day Thursday
Why you need to go “German” on this year’s Father’s Day

My great-grandfather John (Johann) Schneider with his father, my great-great-grandfather Carl Joseph Schneider, in Germany

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Great Cyclone of 1896

Scene at Soulard and Seventh Streets. 27 May 1896. Photo by Strauss. In Photographic Views of the Great Cyclone at St. Louis, May 27, 1896. Image available from

On Wednesday, May 27, 1896, a tornado struck St. Louis, Missouri shortly after 5:00 PM. It touched down in southwest St. Louis, on Arsenal Street, and moved through Shaw's Garden, Compton Heights, Lafayette Square, and Soulard. It crossed the Mississippi River into East St. Louis, Illinois. The tornado, which became known as the Great Cyclone, killed 255 people (137 in St. Louis and 188 in East St. Louis). 311 buildings were destroyed. 7,200 buildings were severely damaged, and 1,300 additional buildings were significantly damaged. Essential public services were knocked out by the tornado.

The worst of the damage was in the Soulard neighborhood, which is the area where some of my family lived. My great-great-grandparents Carl Joseph and Christina (Nagel) Schneider and their children lived at 1804 Geyer Ave. Carl's brother John William Schneider and his family lived at 1728 Geyer Ave. My great-great-grandfather John Gersbacher lived near the neighborhood, between Soulard and the Mississippi River, at 1513 S. 3rd St. My great-grandmother Paulina Gersbacher was living with and working as a servant for August W. and Adele Schulenburg, who lived at 2822 Eads Ave., between Compton Heights and Lafayette Square. The Schneiders and Gersbachers were members of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Soulard, which was damaged by the tornado.


Curzon, Julian, comp. and ed. The Great Cyclone at St. Louis and East St. Louis, May 27, 1896. New foreword by Tim O'Neil. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. First published in 1896 by Cyclone Publishing Company.

The Great Cyclone of 1896.

Montesi, Albert and Deposki, Richard. Soulard, St. Louis. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

O'Neil, Tim. "A Look Back: Great Cyclone of 1896 Killed 255." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 29, 2011.

The St. Louis Cyclone of 1896.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Military Monday and 52 Ancestors: #20 Ferdinand Constand Schneider

Photo from page 165, Missouri - Soldiers of the Great War, compiled by W. M. Haulsee, F. G. Howe, and A. C. Doyle. Washington, DC: Soldiers Record Publishing Association, 1920. Available online at

Ferdinand Constand Schneider was the son of my great-great-grandfather's brother John William (Johann Wilhelm) Schneider and Caroline Uhlik. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on 4 November 1887. He and his older brother Carl Joseph (named after his uncle, my great-great-grandfather) were the first generation born in the United States; their father was born in Erpel, Neuwied, Rheinland, Germany and their mother was born in Bohemia. 

On 5 June 1917, Ferdinand registered for the World War I draft. At that time, he lived at 1316 Geyer Ave. in St. Louis and was a foreman at St. Louis Cordage Works, Menard & Soulard. His draft card noted that one of his fingers was cut at the first joint. In the 1909 St. Louis city directory he had been listed as a cutter; perhaps he had an accident at work.

Details of Ferdinand's service are provided in World War I Biography and Service Records: Persons Who Enlisted in St. Louis City and County. Addenda: Those Who Died in Service (Missouri Historical Society, 1995). Ferdinand joined the United States Army on September 19, 1917 and was a private in Company I, 354th Infantry. On March 16, 1918 he was transferred to Company G, 38th Infantry 3rd Division, where he was a private and machine gunner. A newspaper clipping in the Missouri Historical Society publication stated that "his last letter derides the Germans for their inaccuracy in shooting. He said that they merely pull the trigger and trust to luck to have the bullets take effect."

Unfortunately the bullets took effect on 15 July 1918 at the Battle of Château-Thierry (Aisne, Picardy, France), when Ferdinand was killed by shell fire. The son of a German immigrant had died fighting against the Germans. His body was transported back to the United States, and he was interred in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Oakville, St. Louis County, Missouri on the fourth anniversary of his death.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 September 1918, p. 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12 July 1922. p. 19

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cold Mountain Bomber Crash

Cannon, Doris Rollins. Cold Mountain Bomber Crash: The Enduring Legacy. Printed by Edwards Brothers, 2005. ISBN: 0-9772101-0-3

On Friday, 13 September 1946, B-25 bomber 227 crashed on Cold Mountain, Haywood County, North Carolina. Five World War II heroes were killed instantly in the crash:

Major General Paul Bernard Wurtsmith, the youngest general in the Army Air Force, pilot
Lieutenant Colonel Fred Logan Trickey, Jr., co-pilot
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Richard Okerbloom, air inspector
Master Sergeant Hosey William Merritt, radio operator
Staff Sergeant Hoyt Woodrow Crump, flight engineer

In Part One, Cannon gives an account of the crash. In Part Two, she tells the stories of the five men who died. In Part Three, she writes about the impact the crash had on others.

This book is of particular interest to me because Fred Logan Trickey, Jr. was the husband of Peggy Lorraine Clark, my second cousin once removed.

More information about the book is available at

Saturday, May 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #19 Davidson Binkley

My 3rd-great-grandfather Davidson Binkley was born on 12 November 1831 or 1832 in Springfield, Robertson County, Tennessee. According to a family group sheet compiled by P. C. Lampley, his full name was Benjamin Davidson Binkley. The information on the family group sheet came from the family Bible of Davidson Binkley's granddaughter Laura Belle (Tarkington) Leech and from family members.

In 1850, Davidson and his brother Patterson lived in Davidson County, Tennessee in the home of William T. Garrett. His brothers Robertson and Turner and their wives lived in a nearby household. His mother Fanny, brother Montgomery, and sister Martha also lived nearby, in the household of Andrew Sullivan. Davidson obtained a license to marry Angeline Mayo on 19 January 1853. Angeline (Mayo) Binkley's Civil War widow pension application file includes a statement that the couple were married at the home of Jacob D. Mayo (Angeline's father) on Whites Creek, Davidson County, Tennessee by J. P. Garrett on 20 January 1853.

On 28 September 1853, Davidson and Angeline's first child, Sara Elizabeth, was born, but she did not live long; she died on 11 October 1853. Their second child, Louise Jane, was born on 15 November 1854, and died on 18 November 1855. The children's birth and death dates came from the family group sheet compiled by P. C. Lampley. The couple's third child and first son, William Searcy Binkley, was born on 15 June 1856. The family moved to Illinois before the birth of their next child, Anna Malvina (my great-great-grandmother) on 19 December 1858. In 1860, the family was living in Township 9 Range 2 E, Williamson County, Illinois. Davidson was a farmer, and the value of his personal estate was $300.The couple's second son, James Rutherford Binkley, was born on 12 February 1861.

Davidson Binkley's Illinois Civil War Detail Report provides information about his military service. He joined the Union Army on 26 September 1862 at Camp Butler, Illinois, and he mustered in at Camp Butler on 5 November 1862. A 14 May 2008 Illinois Times article on Camp Butler calls it Camp Misery because it was overcrowded and there was so much disease.

Davidson was a private in Company G, 128th Illinois Infantry. The Marion Illinois History Preservation Web site provides information about this regiment. Robert M. Hundley was the regiment's colonel. Most of the residents of Williamson County, Illinois had come from Kentucky, Tennessee, or North Carolina, and many people sympathized with the southern cause. The loyalty of the regiment was questioned, and they were called the "Whang Doodle Regiment." The regiment was disbanded on 1 April 1863 after it had lost more than 700 men, mostly from desertion. Davidson Binkley was not one of the deserters. He remained loyal, and he served with his unit until 9 January 1863, when he died of measles in Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois. He was buried in Spiller Cemetery in Williamson County, Illinois.

Marriage license for Davidson Binkley and Angeline Mayo, 19 January 1853. Nashville, Tennessee: Metropolitan Government Archives.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Gatlin's Rice Pudding

When I was growing up, one food that I particularly enjoyed was my paternal grandmother Helen Martha Marie (Anderson) Gatlin's rice pudding, topped with cinnamon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday's Child: Eugene Joseph Gatlin

State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics. Certificate of Stillbirth no. 1309, Eugene Joseph Gatlin. 26 June 1923.

Eugene Joseph Gatlin was the stillborn son of my great-grandparents Henry Brown Gatlin and Anna Gertrude Tarkington. He was stillborn on 26 June 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, and was buried on 17 July 1923 in Oak Forest Cemetery, Oak Forest, Cook County, Illinois.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Preserve the Pensions (War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies is raising money to digitize the War of 1812 pensions held by the National Archives and Records Administration. As they are digitized, they are made freely available on Fold3. is paying for half the costs of the digitization, so all money donated will go twice as far.

For more information or to donate, go to

War of 1812 soldier figurine I purchased from the Federation of Genealogical Societies at NGS 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mappy Monday: Township of Minto, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada

Township of Minto. Map of the County of Wellington. 1877. Available from In Search of Your Canadian Past: The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project. McGill University.

George Mapplebeck once owned Concession 3, Lot 38 in the Township of Minto, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. By the time this map was made, he had moved, and the lot belonged to J. Wallace. However, the map is still useful, because I can see where he lived. His son James, my great-grandmother Kathleen Graham's stepfather and adoptive (possibly informally rather than legally) father, may have been born in this area. According to the Ontario Land Record Index, George's land assignment for Concession 3, Lot 38 was issued on 17 November 1855. George is enumerated in Minto in the 1861 agricultural Census of Canada, but I cannot find him or his family in the personal census. By 1871, the family had moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

To zoom in for a closer look at this map, go to

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Disownment of Edward Lucas recently added Quaker records from the late 1600s-late 1900s to their collection. I have some Quaker ancestors, so this was exciting news to me. Among the records, I found these items referring to my 7th-great-grandfather Edward Lucas:

Falls Monthly Meeting, Bucks Co,, Pennsylvania, 4th of 11 mo. 1737. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1994 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 177.

Falls Monthly Meeting, Bucks Co,, Pennsylvania, 7th of 5 mo. 1760. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1994 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 177.

Falls Monthly Meeting, Bucks Co., Pennsylvania, 4th of 6 mo. 1760. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1994 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 177.

Edward Lucas married out of unity, and long before 1760, he left Bucks County, Pennsylvania and settled in Virginia (now West Virginia). But in 1760, he was disowned. It can be worthwhile to look at records in an ancestor's former place of residence, even if the person left the area long ago; you still might find something!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Norwegian Constitution Day Bicentennial

May 17 (Syttende Mai) is Norwegian Constitution Day, and this year is the 200th anniversary of the signing of the constitution. On May 17, 1814, after Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden at the Treaty of Kiel, the constitution was signed at Eidsvoll, declaring Norway to be independent. Although Norway and Sweden were in a personal union until 1905, the Norwegian constitution was retained.

 Oslo, 17 May 2005. By Maxxii (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Norwegian Constitution Day
Syttende Mai - Norway’s Constitution Day
‘Hipp hipp hurra,’ at least 200 times
17th of May, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

52 Ancestors: #18 Chapman Gordon

I am so glad to be able to write about my 5th-great-grandfather Chapman Gordon, because before my recent trip to Virginia, I did not have proof that he was my 5th-great-grandfather. I had seen a forum post which mentioned that Chapman Gordon left his estate to his daughters Eliza Mayo, Elizabeth Mayo, and Jane Layne. This will was the first item that I looked at when I went to the Library of Virginia. It is on Miscellaneous reel 4610,  Louisa County (Va.) Circuit Court. Records, 1742-1858, part of the Robert Alonzo Brock Collection. Chapman Gordon died in June 1855, and my 4th-great-grandmother Eliza (Gordon) Mayo had died by 1841, when her husband, my 4th-great-grandfather Jacob D. Mayo, married Nancy Lee. I wondered if maybe Chapman Gordon's bequest to Eliza was actually to Eliza's heirs. I also knew that Chapman Gordon had a daughter Elizabeth who married Thomas Mayo. Eliza and Elizabeth are such similar names that it seemed unlikely that they would be given to two daughters, unless one had previously died. But unlikely is not impossible! Yes, Chapman Gordon had an Eliza and an Elizabeth. Maybe the family wanted to honor two different relatives, or maybe they were twins who were given similar names. And the bequest was to "the children of Eliza Mayo decd."

Chapman Gordon is listed as security and witness for the marriage of Jacob D. Mayo and Eliza Gordon, further evidence that I have identified the right person.

Once I had this information, I looked for more information on Chapman Gordon. I knew that he had married Mary Layne in Goochland County, Virginia on 31 May 1843, but she could not be the mother of his children. I have not yet identified the mother (or mothers) of his daughters. I found the couple's 1850 United States Census enumeration. They were living in Louisa County, Virginia. Chapman Gordon was born about 1776 in Virginia.

In's Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850 collection, I found the description of a Spotsylvania County, Virginia apprenticeship record. On 5 July 1785, Chapman Gordon, apprenticed himself to Benjamin Haley. He had the consent of his mother Caty Gordon. Spotsylvania County is near Louisa County, and this Chapman Gordon seemed the right age to be mine. Because his mother gave consent, he had to have been underage.

On HeritageQuest, I found a 1934 manuscript by Frances Beal Smith Hodges, The Gordons of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. It contains information about the descendants of John George Gordon and Mary Sarah Chapman. Although there are a few sources listed in the text itself, most of the sources are listed toward the end and are vague, and it is not clear what information came from what source. Still, the manuscript could contain useful clues. The couple had a son named Chapman Gordon, born 15 January 1741. He is the right age to be the father of my Chapman Gordon. My Chapman Gordon could also be a son of one of the couple's other sons. They had at least one grandson named Chapman Gordon; he was born about 1757 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia and was the son of Charles Gordon and Mary (Boswell) Herndon. In 1770, the family moved to North Carolina. Chapman Gordon is not a very common name, so it seems likely that this Chapman Gordon is related to mine (they may be first cousins).

I found additional census enumerations for my Chapman Gordon in 1840, 1830, and 1810. I believe that I have found the right person because he is in the right area, is the right age, and in 1810, his household included one free white female under 10 and two free white females 10 through 15 (I know my Chapman Gordon had three daughters, and these girls seem to be about the right age). There is an older woman in the household in each of these census enumerations as well; perhaps she was Chapman Gordon's mother.

Chapman Gordon was in Goodwin's Co., 33rd (Mayo's) Virginia Militia in 1807, and was also in the War of 1812. His widow Mary applied for a War of 1812 widow's pension, but was rejected because of the date of her marriage (she did not quality under the act).

 Chapman Gordon's will, proven 10 September 1855 in Louisa County, Virginia

Register of Marriages, Goochland County, Virginia, 1817. Chapman Gordon was security and witness for the marriage of his daughter Eliza and Jacob D. Mayo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Declaration of the Rights of Genealogists

At NGS 2104, the Declaration of the Rights of Genealogists was announced by Jordan Jones, president of the National Genealogical Society and a sponsoring member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee. It is a statement which advocates open access to federal, state, and local public records (such as birth, marriage, and death records). More information is available on Upfront with NGS. Many people signed the declaration at NGS 2014. It may also be signed online at

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Nora, Estella, and Hugh Milam

This tombstone for the Milam family is actually the same as the one for William J. and Myrtle E. Schneider. The inscription for the Schneiders is on one side, and the inscription for the Milams is on the other side. They are buried in Sunset Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Affton, St. Louis County, Missouri. Nora E. Milam was Myrtle's mother, and Estella and Hugh were Myrtle's siblings. Mytrle's husband William J. Schneider was my great-grandfather's brother.

Nora E. (Eaton) Milam
born 14 June 1874, Illinois
died 12 July 1967

Estella L. Milam
born 8 September 1903, Missouri
died 15 June 1983

Hugh W. Milam
born 19 September 1901
died August 1969

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day, I am posting this picture of my mother and me, taken when I was 6 months old.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

NGS 2014: Day 4

Today was the final day of the NGS 2014 conference. I began the day with Barbara Vines Little's session "A Treasure Trove of Rarely Used Records". Processioning records and road orders were among the sources that she talked about. I then attended Vic Dunn's session "Colonial Migrations in and Out of the Shenandoah Valley." He gave us specific information about every county in the Shenandoah Valley. That level of detail is very helpful! I I then went to the New England Historic Genealogical Society luncheon, where David Allen Lambert spoke about researching Confederate veterans after the Civil War. After lunch, I attended Donald W. Moore's session "Seventeenth Century Virginia Ancestors: A Research Case Study". My final session of the conference was Ann K. Blomquist's session "Virginia Colonial Parish Records". I need to get her book Southam Parish Land Processioning, 1747-1784: Goochland, Cumberland, Powhatan Counties. She had a copy with her and I saw the surname Mayo in the index more than once. I will definitely need to try to locate parish register records for my ancestors. Finally, I attended the National Genealogical Society annual meeting, and then headed back to my hotel. It has been a very educational and productive week. I plan to attend NGS 2015 in St. Charles, Missouri.

Friday, May 9, 2014

NGS 2014: Day 3

I started off Day 3 of NGS with Craig Roberts Scott's 8:00 session on the Virginia militia. I had not realized that by law, every able-bodied man had to be in the Virginia militia (although some people, such as those who did not believe in fighting, might choose not to show up). At 9:30 I heard A. B. Pruitt speak about land grants in Tennessee. I have many Tennessee ancestors, so this session was very relevant to my research. Ernest Thode's 11:00 session on online historic German newspapers was very relevant for me as well, because I am 1/4 German. Until I learned about this session, I had not realized that these newspapers were available online. It was very exciting news for me! I then attended the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History luncheon, where Michael Leclerc spoke about researching Benjamin Franklin's family. At 2:30 I attended Elizabeth Shown Mills' session "Problem Solving in the Problem-Riddled Carolina Backcountry". She demonstrated how contextual knowledge can help us to analyze the information in documents, and talked about research principles. At 4:00, I attended Patricia O'Brien Shawker's session "Marylanders Migrating South." My Greer ancestors migrated from Maryland to Virginia and then to North Carolina. In the evening, I went to the NGS banquet. It was another long day, but very educational!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NGS 2014: Day 2

Day 2 of NGS 2014 was also long and busy, but very educational and enjoyable. I spent the earlier part of the morning learning about land records. At 8:00 I attended Barbara Vines Little's session on the records of the Virginia Land Office, and at 9:00 I attended Vic Dunn's session on the records of the Northern Neck Proprietary. At 11:00 I heard Nathan W. Murphy speak about colonial ancestors who came to America as indentured servants. I then attended the Palatines to America luncheon, where Victor T. Jones spoke about the founding and early days of New Bern, North Carolina and the Swiss and Palatine immigrants who settled there. At 2:30, I heard Greg Crawford speak about the Augusta County, Virginia chancery court records and the stories they told. It was fascinating to learn that these court records could contain information about events that happened 50 or more years earlier. At 4:00, I attended Rebecca A. Ebert's session on Frederick County, Virginia and its history and settlers. I found more books I needed in the Exhibit Hall. I finished off the day with the Virginia Genealogical Society host society event "Land for the Taking" at 6:00. The entertaining one-hour presentation was given by the character of Robert Lucas, a surveyor in 1774 Virginia.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NGS 2014: Day 1

Today was the first day of the National Genealogical Society's 2014 Family History Conference. And what a busy day it was for me! In the opening session, Sandra Gioia Treadway, Librarian of Virginia and State Archivist, talked about the Library of Virginia and its modernization. I then went to the Exhibit Hall and found many books that I needed to add to my collection. At 11:00, I heard Eric Grundset speak about the challenges of researching early Virginia ancestors and possible ways to break through those brick walls. I then attended the Virginia Genealogical Society luncheon. Conley L. Edwards shared some of the experiences he had had working with genealogists over the years. At 2:30 PM, I heard Kathy Huber speak about the records of the Southern Historical Society. She mentioned some of the articles that were published in the Southern Historical Society's papers. One was on Rock Island Prison. My 3rd-great-grandfather's brother John G. Gatlin was imprisoned there. I will have to track down that article. At 4:00, I heard Nathan W. Murphy speak about colonial ancestors who arrived as transported convicts. With all the black sheep in my family, I would not be at all surprised to find out that one or more of my ancestors arrived as a transported convict. I then visited the tables of some Virginia genealogical and historical societies. Some of them, such as the Augusta County Genealogical Society and the Goochland County Historical Society, focus on areas where my ancestors lived. Finally, I headed to the Library of Virginia. The library had special late hours and was open until 9:00 PM. I found an indenture for an apprenticeship for a Chapman Gordon who may be my ancestor. I found an estate appraisal for Andrew Corn; I wonder if he was the father of my ancestor Elizabeth Corn. I also found my ancestor William Isbell's estate inventory, an account of guardianship for my Mayo ancestors (my 5th-great-grandfather was guardian of his children with my 5th-great-grandmother Ann Isbell, because they had received bequests from William Isbell, their maternal grandfather). I found my ancestor Edward Lucas' will and estate appraisal. I found deeds for land transactions involving my ancestors Russell Blakely and Abel Gower. It was a long but very productive day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Librarians' Day and FamilySearch NGS Media/Blogger Dinner

Today I attended the Librarians' Day pre-conference program, sponsored by ProQuest, at the Library of Virginia. Leslie Anderson, reference librarian, Special Collections, Alexandria Library, spoke about the creation of the Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865. Louise Jones, Director of Special Collections and Library at Kentucky Historical Society, spoke about the creation of finding aids and facilitating access to archival collections. William Forsyth, Director of Product Management, ProQuest, spoke about resources for researching the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I, and also mentioned some of's new offerings, such as Quaker records. We heard about the free African-American genealogy resource AfriGeneas. Jason Harrison, research consultant, FamilySearch, spoke about the FamilySearch Wiki. Renee Savits, project coordinator, spoke about the Civil War 150 Legacy Project; original sources relating to the Civil War, such as letters and manuscripts, are identified, located, and digitized.

This evening I attended the FamilySearch NGS Media/Blogger Dinner. We heard that indexed obituaries will be available on FamilySearch; more information on the project is available at A new indexing program is coming soon; it will include enhanced project selection and the ability to join multiple indexing groups. A worldwide indexing event will take place between Sunday, July 20, 6:00 PM (MDT) and Monday, July 21, 6:00 PM (MDT). FamilySearch's free Civil War records were also mentioned.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Library of Virginia

Today I visited the Library of Virginia in Richmond. I came prepared with information about documents that I wanted to find, and I was able to locate most of the items that I was looking for. The biggest find for me was the 1855 Louisa County, Virginia will of Chapman Gordon. It mentioned the heirs of his deceased daughter Eliza Mayo (my 4th-great-grandmother). Now I have actual evidence of her father's identity! I also found Goochland County, Virginia marriage register entries for Jacob D. Mayo and Eliza Gordon (Chapman Gordon was listed in the Security and Witnesses column), Stephen Mayo and Ann Isbell (my 5th-great grandparents, and Jacob D. Mayo's parents), and other members of the Gordon and Mayo families. I found the Frederick County, Virginia will of Rebecca Lucas (my 7th-great-grandfather's sister), the Fluvanna County, Virginia estate administration of my 6th-great-grandfather James Mayo (Stephen Mayo's father), and Augusta County, Virginia wills and deeds for members of the Hardgrave family.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In Virginia!

The National Genealogical Society's 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia is this week. I spent the day driving from New Jersey to Richmond. I stopped at the Virginia Welcome Center in Fredericksburg on the way down; it has a nice little exhibit on George Washington at the front of the building.

I plan to spend tomorrow at the Library of Virginia; it should be a productive day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pandemic Influenza Storybook

The April 30, 2014 issue of the Weekly Genealogist, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, contains an article on the influenza pandemic of 1918. Several links were included at the end of the article. One of them was of particular interest to me.

The Pandemic Influenza Storybook contains accounts (first-person and by family and friends) of the influenza pandemics of 1918 and 1957. The stories deal with courage, loss, and survival. As they see how real families were affected, readers will gain a better understanding of what people went through during the pandemics.

Stories may still be submitted. I have submitted the story of my great-grandfather's sister Marie (Schneider) Illig, who died in 1918 of bronchopneumonia due to influenza.

Friday, May 2, 2014

52 Ancestors: #17 Christian Christophersen Roch, Sorenskriver (Magistrate) of Øvre Telemark, Norway

My 8th- and 9th-great-grandfather Christian Christophersen Roch was born about 1631 in Jutland, Denmark. In 1662 he was appointed sorenskriver (magistrate) of Øvre Telemark, Norway.

Rian, Øystein. Da embetsmenn og kjøpmenn gjorde revolusjon i Telemark. Samfunn og mennesker på 1600-tallet. Skrifter Telemark distriktshøgskole nr. 122. Bø: Telemark distriktshøgskole, 1987. Page 20. Available from

On 24 February 1664, Christian married. According to a short biographical article on, Christian married Ædel (Adele) Tykesdatter in 1664. The entry for Christian on the Ættesoga - familieband til Kviteseid Web site states that his wife was Adele (or Ædel) Tykjesdotter. However, according to the Seljord, Telemark parish register, Christian's wife was Dorothea Taargiulsdatter.

Telemark county, Seljord, Parish register (official) nr. I 1 (1654-1686), Chronological list 1664, page 43.

I have not found another marriage record for Christian. I found his wife Adele's death/burial record in the Seljord parish registers; she died on 29 May 1707.

I recently ordered the book "Rokkerova" : ei ættesogu fraa Telemarki, by Kjetil A. Flatin and Tov Flatin (Skien: Norig, 1917) from This book contains information on Christian Christophersen Roch and his family. Hopefully when the book arrives, there will be more information that will help me to figure out how many times he was married and who the mothers of his children were (especially his youngest daughter Hilleborg, my 7th- and 8th-great-grandmother). The article on states that he had fifteen children and that three of them were illegitimate.

The article also states that Christian had a reputation for being a difficult man who exploited his position and held several farms; he lived in Øverland, but also held Øvre Klomset, Aase, and Bjørge. Øystein Rian writes about a 1683 law that allowed the military to help collect unpaid taxes.

Rian, Øystein. Da embetsmenn og kjøpmenn gjorde revolusjon i Telemark. Samfunn og mennesker på 1600-tallet. Skrifter Telemark distriktshøgskole nr. 122. Bø: Telemark distriktshøgskole, 1987. Page 35. Available from

According to, Christian was deposed in 1683, and Ættesoga - familieband til Kviteseid states that he was sorenskriver from 1662 to 1683. Rian states that he was deposed in 1688.

Rian, Øystein. Da embetsmenn og kjøpmenn gjorde revolusjon i Telemark. Samfunn og mennesker på 1600-tallet. Skrifter Telemark distriktshøgskole nr. 122. Bø: Telemark distriktshøgskole, 1987. Page 21. Available from

Christian died in Seljord, Telemark, Norway on 23 January 1708.

Telemark county, Seljord, Parish register (official) nr. I 2 (1689-1713), Death and burial records 1708, page 326.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Digitized New Brunswick, New Jersey Newspapers

Four more years have been added to the New Brunswick Free Public Library's digitized newspaper database. The New Brunswick Daily Times (1871-1916) and the Daily Home News (1887, 1889, 1903-1918) are available at Additional information about the digitized newspapers can be found at