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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday's Obituary: Nancy L. (Gatlin) Page

Nashville Tennessean and Nashville American, 4 January 1911, page 4

   PAGE––Monday evening at 8:15 o'clock, January 2, 1911, at her residence, 50 washington street, Mrs. Nancy L., wife of the late John F. Page, aged 81 years.
   Funeral from the residence as above this (Wednesday) morning at 10:30 o'clock, January 4. Services conducted by Rev. John Derrett.
   Interment at Mt. Olivet cemetery.
   The following gentlemen are requested to serve as pallbearers: T. J. Duggon, Howard Threatt, James T. Evins, C. B. Harwood, Ben Turbeville and Willie Sullivan.
   Carriages from Wilkerson Company.

Nancy L. Gatlin was born on 8 July 1829 in Tennessee. She was the daughter of my 4th-great-grandparents John McNairy Gatlin and Margaret "Peggy" Gower. She married John F. Page on 24 February 1854 in Davidson County, Tennessee. They had seven children: Mark Albert Page (born 25 August 1856), Anna Lee Page (born 27 January 1858), John G. Page (born 16 August 1860), Robert E. Lee Page (born about 1864), Martha Adelia Page (born 19 March 1869), Mary Elizabeth Page (born 23 January 1871), and William James Page (born about 1873). Her husband John died on 6 May 1893. Nancy was predeceased by two of her children; her son Robert died on 11 November 1898 and her son William died on 4 March 1905. Nancy died on 2 January 1911.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Society Saturday: NSDU Memorial Service and Monument Rededication

Today I attended a memorial service for Civil War soldiers that was held by the Private Joseph Bessette Chapter, National Society Daughters of the Union 1861-1865. I am a member of the chapter. We placed flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers at the Old Newton Burial Ground, Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey.

After the service, we held a rededication of the Defenders of the Union monument in Newton, which was erected in 1895 by the citizens of Sussex County, New Jersey. We then toured the Hill Memorial Museum.

Friday, July 29, 2016


St. Olav. By Erik Christensen (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (]. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

July 29 is Olsok, the feast day of St. Olav. It commemorates the death of King Olav Haraldsson of Norway at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.

Olsok was a major feast day in the Nordic countries until the Protestant Reformation. It is recognized as a feast day by the Roman Catholic Church in Norway. The Lutheran Church of Norway recognizes Olsok in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Every year around Olsok, the St. Olav Festival is held in Trondheim. A service is held in Nidaros Cathedral at the beginning of the night, and there are prayers every hour. Entertainment and activities are provided at the Historical Market, and handicrafts are sold at stalls.

In the Faroe Islands, July 29 is Ólavsøka, a cultural and sports festival in honor of St. Olav's Day. The festival includes parades, music, Faroese chain dancing, rowing games, communal sports activities, sports competitions, and speeches.

Historical Market - Olavsfestdagene
Olsok: a Nordic celebration across beliefs and borders
St. Olav's Day

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Father's Baby Book

My grandmother Helen Martha Marie (Anderson) Gatlin recorded information about the first seven years of my father's life in a baby book. The book is full of treasures. I learned who attended my father's birthday parties and what gifts he received. My grandmother recorded my father's first reaction to his new baby sister. She wrote that at age 18 months, my father could carry the tune of a Swedish hymn, Tryggare kan ingen vara. She wrote about the trips that he took.

The baby book also includes a family tree. There are some mistakes, but the family tree provided an important clue about the identity of my 3rd-great-grandmother's father. Her name was Amanda Russell, but she was listed as Amanda Sawyer. This record helps me to make the case that James Sawyer was her father.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Uncle and Cousin Whose Trains Collided

At 7:48 AM on 15 September 1909, Passenger Train No. 4 and Freight Train No. 51 collided about one mile west of Pegram's Station, Cheatham County, Tennessee. My 2nd-great-grandfather's brother Jesse Tarkington was the engineer on Freight Train No. 51.  Joseph Greener Gower, my second cousin 4 times removed, was the engineer on Passenger Train No. 4. They were both killed in the accident. Although I am related to both men, as far as I know they are not related to each other.

 Nashville American, 16 September 1909, page 7

Nashville American, 16 September 1909, page 5

I found an article about the accident which includes photos of both men. (N. C. & St. L. Trains Together Head-On. Nashville American, 16 Sep 1909, pp. 5, 7, 15.) I am glad that I am now able to put faces with the names.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Madness Monday: State Hospital for Mental Diseases, Howard, Rhode Island

In 1930, Samuel A. Thomas, the son of my 3rd-great-grandfather's sister Catherine Bennett Winters, resided at the State Hospital for Mental Diseases, located in the unincorporated place Howard, in Cranston, Providence County, Rhode Island.

1930 United States census, Cranston, Providence County, Rhode Island, population schedule, enumeration district no. 4-197, sheet no. 22A. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002.

Samuel died on 11 May 1933 in Howard, Cranston, Rhode Island. He probably died at the State Hospital for Mental Diseases.

In 1869, the more than 417 acre William A. Howard farm in Cranston, Providence County, Rhode Island was purchased. The property was to be used for a state asylum for the insane and poor, a state workhouse, and a house of corrections. In 1870, eighteen wood-framed buildings were built, and in November, 118 patients were admitted to the asylum.

Music therapy began at the hospital in 1881, when twelve canaries and six cages were purchased and placed in the halls. In 1900, an orchestra was established; it included one patient musician. Another patient joined the orchestra in 1904. An organ was purchased in 1925. The same year, the hospital choir gave a concert at a local radio station.

Hydrotherapy began in 1927. Patients were given baths, wet sheet packs, salt glows, foot baths, needle sprays, fan douches, and rain douches. Hydrotherapy was most frequently used as a form of restraint; some patients received continuous baths.

Some patients did chores, such as housekeeping and farm labor. In 1930, Samuel A. Thomas did not do any work, but some of the other patients worked in the ward, laundry, dining room, or industries.

The State Hospital for Mental Diseases is now the Eleanor Slater Hospital.

Golden, Janet, and Schneider, Eric C. Custody and Control: The Rhode Island State Hospital for Mental Diseases, 1870, 1970. Rhode Island History 41(4), November 1982, pp. 113-125.
History- Rhode Island -Dept of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Church Record Sunday: Confirmation of Kari Boe

Immanuel Lutheran Parish (Synod), 5 m. N.E. of Watson, Minnesota. Ministerial Records, 1869-1908. Confirmations, 28 October 1888. U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875-1940 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

On 28 October 1888. my great-grandfather's sister Kari Boe was confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Parish, 5 miles northeast of Watson, Chippewa County, Minnesota.

In addition to the date of confirmation, the record gives the names of her parents (Jorgen Boe and Aaste Halvorsdatter), her place of birth (Rock Dell [Olmsted, Minnesota]), her date of birth (5 April 1874), and her date of baptism (5 August 1874).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Wedding of John Schneider and Paulina Gersbacher

My great-grandparents John Schneider and Paulina Gersbacher were married 114 years ago today. When I was taking the National Institute for Genealogical Studies class Research: Social History, one of the assignments was to write an account of an event in the life of my ancestors, and to try to find out what the weather was like on the day of the event. I wrote about the wedding of John Schneider and Paulina Gersbacher.

 July 23, 1902

John Schneider and Paulina Gersbacher were united in marriage today at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. The church, which is the largest Roman Catholic church in the area, is made of Grafton limestone and has a spire that is more than 200 feet high. The stained glass windows provided a lovely backdrop for the wedding mass.

The weather was fair but humid. Thankfully the waters of the Mississippi River, which had been approaching flood stage, had receded by four inches. The bride and groom are natives of Germany, as is typical of the congregation of Sts. Peter and Paul, and of a large portion this ethnic neighborhood, which is home to many European immigrants.

"Floods Threaten Missouri and Mississippi Valleys - Heavy Rains Continue in Tributary Territory." St. Louis Republic, 20 July 1902, page 1. Chronicling America.
"No Danger from High Water." St. Louis Republic, 23 July 1902, page 5. Chronicling America.
United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form. Soulard Neighborhood Historic District.
Wayman, Norbury L. History of St. Louis Neighborhoods: Soulard: Churches.
"The Weather." St. Louis Republic, 23 July 1902, page 14. Chronicling America.
"The Weather." St. Louis Republic, 24 July 1902, page 12. Chronicling America.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friend of Friends Friday: Runaway Slaves of Gaius Kibbe, Belleview, Tennessee

Nashville Republican, 4 July 1835, page 1

$100 REWARD.
RUNAWAY from Belleview Mouth of Blue Water, about the 1st of March last two negro men, JOHN and JESSY. John is twenty three or twenty-four years of age; five feet 10 or 11 inches high; complexion yellowish, when spoken to, is rather bold. Jesse is between forty and fifty years old; about six feet high, complexion very black; his forehead is very small, slopes back, and is bald. He speaks slowly, but very correctly. These Negroes were purchased of a Mr Farr formerly of Missouri. If they are not still lurking in the neighborhood, they are probably attempting to get to Illinois.
I will give $25 each for their apprehension within this State, so that I can get them, or $50 for each if apprehended out of this State, and secured in any jail to enable me to get them again. Any information as to these Runaways, may be sent to Messrs. J. R. & S. S. Henry, Belleview, or to me at Mobile, Ala.
                                                                      GAIUS KIBBE
    Belleview, June 23––3t cp                   Print. fee $3 00

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sub-Committee of Vigilance for the Neighborhood of Locust Creek, Louisa County, Virginia

Richmond Enquirer, v. 372 no. 28, 14 August 1840, page 3

At a meeting of a part of the sub-Committee of Vigilance for the neighborhood of Locust Creek, Louisa County, held at Locust Creek Tavern, on the 6th inst., Capt. Albert G. Bowles was called to the Chair, and Dr. Archibald Anderson requested to act as Secretary
––it was
    1. Resolved, That our confidence in the intelligence, honesty and patriotism of Martin Van Buren, President of the U.S., is still undiminished, and that every effort which is fair and honorable shall be made by us to secure his re-election.
    2. Resolved, That the manner in which the Honorable Richard M. Johnson has discharged the duties of Vice President of the U.S., recommends him to the support of the voters of the county of Louisa.
   3. Resolved, That the following names be added to the sub-Committee of Vigilance for the neighborhood: Thomas A. Hope, Lindsay Richardson, Robert Armstrong, George W. Gregory, Wm. J. Crowder, Garland Tate, Thompson Tate, George Strong, John R. Cheek, John Swift, Joseph Harris, John T. Smith, John Sims, David Sharp, David Sims, Elder James M. Bagby, John Longdon, Thomas Duke, Hardin Duke, Hardin L. Duke, Thomas C. Anderson, Andrew B. Armstrong, Robert Foster, C. W. Gentry, Robert Duncan, Dr. Wm. Meridith, James Johnson, Edmond Wash, Wm. Wilsher, David Armstrong, (F,) Wm. Gammon, Wm. W. Pulliam, Wm. Cockran, Wilson Laine, R. K. Bowles, William Crutchfield, William C. Lindsay, Jesse T. Bowles, John Moss, John A. Harris, Daniel Perkins, Robert Perkins, Robert S. Halsall, Rev. William J. Winston, Col. Thomas Loyal, John Shelton, Edmond Swift, John S. Smith, Matthew Loyd, Thomas Loyd, sr., Thomas Loyd, jr., Elkanah Brooks, John Atkisson, Samuel Hollins, John S. Woodson, Capt. Garland Anderson, Matthew Farrar, Garland Farrar, Dr. Wm. S. Fowler, James Brooks, Dudley Gibson, Robert Duggins, Simeon Foster, Robert Corker, William Foster, John Johnson, Thomas Saunders, Thomas Bourn, Jas. Duke, John Tate, James Hall, Wm. Lafaun, Wm. C. Thomas, John C. Hawkins, Chas. L. Cocke, John Grubbs, William Corker, John W. Jackson, Andrew Jackson, Jesse Prophet, Jas. E. Hardaman, Samuel Trenham, John Austin, Granville Timberlake, Chapman Gordon, Wm. Saunders, Thomas F. Armstrong, Hezagad Cosby, Wm. Adams, James Adams, Z. W. Perkins, Micajah Parrish, and James Sims.
  4. Resolved, That these proceedings be signed by the Chairman and Secretary, and a copy transmitted to the Editor of the Enquirer with a request that they be published in the Enquirer and Crisis.
                                                          ALBERT G. BOWLES, Chm'n.

In 1840, my 5th-great-grandfather Chapman Gordon became a member of the sub-Committee of Vigilance for the neighborhood of Locust Creek, Louisa County. The  sub-Committee of Vigilance was working to get President Martin Van Buren re-elected in the election of 1840.

Following the Panic of 1837, the United States experienced a depression. The Whigs blamed Van Buren, and called him "Martin Van Ruin". The men of Locust Creek disagreed; they saw Van Buren as intelligent, honest, and patriotic. They may also have supported Van Buren because, although he was personally opposed to slavery, he had promised to oppose its abolition in states where it existed. Unfortunately, Chapman Gordon owned slaves.

This resolution has given me more information about Chapman Gordon: his political views; his neighborhood in Louisa County, Virginia; the names of his associates in the community; and the name of the local tavern.

Source: Martin Van Buren

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday's Child: Frank Shargo

Pennsylvania Department of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Death certificate no. 33712, Frank Shargo, 1938. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

My aunt's younger brother, Frank Shargo, was born in 1938. He was the son of Karl Shargo and Olga Goldstein. He was only thirty-nine days old when he died on 9 April 1938 at the Philadelphia Hospital for Contagious Diseases, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born premature and had contracted mumps.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Franco-Prussian War

Franco-Prussian War map of 1870. Cambridge Modern History Atlas. Edited by A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, and Stanley Leathes. London: Cambridge University Press, 1912. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

The Franco-Prussian War began on 19 July 1870, when France declared war on Prussia. The German states united against France and raised an army of about 400,000 men.

The French won a skirmish in Saarbrucken on 2 August 1870. The first major battle took place at Wissembourg on 4 August 1870. The Germans were victorious. They also won battles at Spicheren on August 5-6, 1870 and at Wörth on 6 August 1870. On 16 August 1870, the Germans again defeated the French at Mars-la-Tour.

The largest battle of the war took place at Gravelotte on 18 August 1870. The German army lost more than 20,000 troops, and the French army lost more than 12,000 troops.

The French were defeated at the Battle of Sedan on 1 September 1870, and Napoleon III surrendered to the Germans the next day. The Siege of Paris began on 19 September 1870. The Armistice of Versailles ended the fighting on 28 January 1871, and the war ended when the Treaty of Frankfurt was signed on 10 May 1871.

My 2nd-great-grandfather's brother Joseph Gerspacher died in Rastatt, Baden on 3 August 1870. The cause of death was Kriegsfolgen (consequences of war). Rastatt was a main supply base for east of the Rhine River during the Franco-Prussian War.

CFB Baden Soellingen Remembered: Crossroad
Faller, Helmut. Familiengeschichte der Gemeinde Görwihl. Bad Säckingen : H. Faller, 2000.
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco Prussian War

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mappy Monday: Johnson's Minnesota and Dakota, 1862

Johnson's Minnesota and Dakota. Johnson, A. J., Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas with Descriptions, Geographical, Statistical, and Historical. A. J. Johnson & Ward, 1862. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

This map shows Minnesota and the Dakota Territory in 1862. Just a few years later, in 1866 and 1867, my Boe and Halvorson-Otterholt ancestors left Norway and settled in Dodge County, Minnesota.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Census Sunday: One Year Before Emigration

In 1865, my 3rd-great-grandparents Jorgen Pedersen Boe and Ingeborg Torsdatter Vatner lived on the Nistaas farm in Bø, Telemark, Norway. They had previously lived on the Bø farm, but Jorgen sold it to his brother Gregar. Jorgen's occupation was Husmand med Jord (tenant farmer with farm).

Telemark fylke, Bø prestegjeld, Statlig folketelling [Telemark County, Bø parish, Government census] 178 (RA/S-2231/E), 1865-1865, oppb: Riksarkivet.

Side 1 of the household's census enumeration, up close:

Side 2 of the household's census enumeration, up close:

The following year, the family left Norway and went to the United States.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sports Center Saturday: William J. Schneider, Wrestler

My great-grandfather's brother William J. Schneider was a wrestler. He participated in wrestling matches at the Standard Theater in St. Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 15 May 1908, page 16

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29 May 1908, page 12

William became a policeman and taught jiu jitsu and wrestling to the police force.

 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 13 November 1909, page 3

Friday, July 15, 2016

Battle of Château-Thierry

"Chateau Thierry, the turning point of the World War". Postcard depicting the World War I Battle of Château-Thierry. Postcard published by E.B.Remenson, Chicago, 1919. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

My first cousin three times removed Ferdinand Constand Schneider was killed in action on 15 July 1918 at the Battle of Château-Thierry (Aisne, Picardy, France) during World War I. I am posting this image in his memory.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chicago Fire of 1874

Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 July 1874, page 1

Nearly three years after the Great Chicago Fire, there was another fire in Chicago. It began in the area of Taylor, Twelfth, and Clark Streets and Fourth Avenue (known as the Cheyenne district), which contained many "houses of ill-fame".

Buildings were blown up to try to contain the fire, but this action created additional fire. People tossed their belongings onto the street to try to save them, and many of their possessions were stolen. The saloons near the burnt district were crowded (after what they went through, many people probably needed a drink!) Thousands of people gathered at Lake Park with their belongings.

As a cat lover, I was pleased to learn that a woman had managed to rescue her four cats (but I disagree with the Chicago Daily Tribune's characterization of the rescue as "a ludicrous incident"!)

Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 July 1874, p. 12

Forty-seven acres south of the Loop were burned, 20 people were killed, 812 buildings were destroyed, including the St. James Hotel, the Michigan Avenue Hotel, the Jones School, the Great Adelphi (Aiken's Theatre), the post office, the First Baptist Church, and the Kehilath Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue. The neighborhood's residents included middle-class African-Americans and Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia.

After the fire, the National Board of Fire Underwriters demanded that Chicago make changes in fire prevention and firefighting. Many fire insurance companies canceled their coverage of buildings in Chicago.

It was alleged that Nathan Isaacson, a Jewish immigrant, had set fire to his shanty and barn, which were located next to an oil factory. He was arrested and charged with arson, but was not convicted. He was probably the victim of prejudice.

Chicago Fire of 1874
The Fire. Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 July 1874, pp. 1-2, 7, 12.
The Second Chicago Fire - July 14, 1874. The Story of a House: Official Blog of Glessner House Museum.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

13 July 1809

On 13 July 1809, my 3rd-great-grandfather Fridolin Gerspacher (or Gersbacher) was born in Görwihl, Waldshut, Baden.

Faller, Helmut. Familiengeschichte der Gemeinde Görwihl. Bad Säckingen: H. Faller, 2000.

He was the last child of his parents Johann Gerspacher and Magdalena Bär. Magdalena died on the day of his birth.

Faller, Helmut. Familiengeschichte der Gemeinde Görwihl. Bad Säckingen: H. Faller, 2000.

Fridolin never knew his mother, but he knew her family. On 14 November 1839, he married his first cousin Maria Bär. Maria was the daughter of Jacob Bär, Magdalena's brother.

Staatsarchiv Freiburg L 10 Nr. 5712, Bild 88 Permalink: Standesbücher / 1810-1870 > Waldshut; Amtsgericht > Görwihl WT; Katholische Gemeinde: Heiratsbuch 1810-1869 / 1810-1869.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Talented Tuesday: Hugh Allen Binkley

Nashville Tennessean, 19 February 1956, page 1

My second cousin twice removed Hugh Allen Binkley played in a hillbilly band with Wayne Harbin, Bubba Roberts, and Kenneth Odum. They called themselves the Wampus Cats, and sometimes called themselves the Ramblers. They were going to perform at a chili supper at Harpeth Valley School on 18 February 1956, but their car went off the bridge over the Big Harpeth River in Davidson County, Tennessee. Hugh Binkley and Kenneth Odum did not survive.

Source: Belleview Boys Feared Drowned. Nashville Tennessean, 19 February 1956, pages 1, 6.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mappy Monday: Plan of a Mediaeval Manor

Shepherd, William R. Plan of a Mediaeval Manor. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1923. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

I have been attempting to transcribe the 1644 will of my 10th-great-grandfather John Woodley from Widdington, Essex, England. I thought it might be helpful to look at the terminology used for English manors. I came across this plan of a mediaeval manor.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday's Obituary: Sarah California (Russell) Ivy

Nashville Tennesseean, 2 October 1928, page 5

   IVY––At 1 a. m., Oct. 1, 1928, at her home near Linton, Tenn., Mrs. Sarah California Ivy, widow of the late J. F. Ivy, age 84 years. Survived by one daughter, Miss Miriam Ivy, and two brothers, Mills and Skelt Russell, of Linton, Tenn. Funeral from the residence this (Tuesday) morning, Oct. 2, 1928, at 10 o'clock, services conducted by Elder R. B. Cawthorn. Interment Russell family cemetery. The following friends are requested to serve as pallbearers: Dr. J. N. Smith, Bert Travis, Will Ivy, J. A., Will and Hooper Linton. Wiles Bros. and Cotton Funeral Home, 129 Eighth Ave., S, in charge. Phone 6-0019.

Sarah California "Callie" Russell was born in Tennessee on 13 September 1844. She was the daughter of of my 4th-great-grandmother's brother James Russell and Miriam Hill. She married James F. Ivy on 27 January 1876 in Williamson County, Tennessee. Their daughter Miriam was born in May 1887. Her husband died on 19 July 1925. Callie died on 1 October 1928.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sympathy Saturday: Executor's Notice, Estate of Sven T. Anderson

My 2nd-great-grandfather's brother Sven T. Anderson (born Sven Troedsson) died on 6 October 1914 in Burdick, Morris County, Kansas. His widow, Hannah (Abramson) Anderson, was the executor of his will. The following notice was published in the Council Grove Republican (Council Grove, Kansas), on 13 November, 20 November, 27 November, and 4 December 1914.

Council Grove Republican, 20 November 1914, page 10

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friend of Friends Friday: Saundy, Slave of Andrew Estave

Virginia Gazette, 6  July 1776, page 7

RUN  away from the Vineyard, a little below Williamsburg, a negro man named SAUNDY, 5 feet 6 Inches high, about 27 Years old, knock kneed ; had on, when he went away, a dark red Newmarket Coat. I have been informed he is lurking about Williamsburg. Whoever brings him to me shall have 15s. reward, besides what the law allows.
                                                                               tt       ANDREW ESTAVE

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Those Places Thursday: Tennessee State Penitentiary

The Tennessee State Penitentiary opened on 1 January 1831. The original facility was located on Church Street in Nashville, Tennessee. It was built to house 200 prisoners, but it was enlarged several times. During the Civil War, the penitentiary was seized by the Union, and it was used to house political prisoners and people accused of sedition.

Convicts were leased to businesses. They mined coal and laid railroad tracks.

A new prison was designed based on the New York State Penitentiary at Auburn, New York. On 12 February 1898, the new facility opened. It was located on Cockrill Bend in Nashville. Although it was built to house 800 prisoners, more than 1,400 prisoners were bought there on opening day. The original facility was demolished, and portions of it were reused when outbuildings were constructed at the new prison.

The penitentiary was closed in 1992. A new penitentiary, the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, had opened in Nashville in 1989.

My 2nd-great-grandfather James William Tarkington and his brothers George Washington Tarkington and Thomas Tarkington worked as guards at the penitentiary, and my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Tarkington worked as a watchman.

Directory of Nashville, Edgefield, and Adjacent Towns in Tennessee, for 1877. Compiled by T. M. Haddock. Nashville: Tavel, Eastman & Howell. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Nashville City Directory, Vol. 24, 1888. Nashville: Marshall & Bruce. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Lewis, Yoshie, and Allison, Brian. Tennessee State Penitentiary. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
Tennessee State Prison

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wedding Wednesday: George Washington Tarkington and Susan E. Post

Daily American, 19 January 1878, page 4

On 16 January 1878, George Washington Tarkington married Susan E. Post in Davidson County, Tennessee. They were married by J. B. Cox, J. P.

Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 July 2015), G W Tarkington and S E Post, 16 Jan 1878; citing Davidson, Tennessee, United States, Marriage, p. 88, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville and county clerk offices from various counties; FHL microfilm 200,297.

George was the son of my 3rd-great-grandparents Joseph Tarkington and Amanda Russell. Susan was the daughter of Ferdinand Post and Sarah Elsesser.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Olive Branch Petition

Second Continental Congress. Olive Branch Petition. Scan of original in Library of Congress. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

On 5 July 1775, the Olive Branch Petition was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. The petition affirmed the loyalty of the Thirteen Colonies to Great Britain, and requested that "such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majesty's Colonies, may be repealed." Thomas Jefferson drafted the original version of the Olive Branch Petition, but most of it was rewritten by John Dickinson. The petition was an attempt to avoid a war between Great Britain and the colonies.

Richard Penn and Arthur Lee brought the petition to London on 8 July 1775. However, King George would not see them, and would not look at  the petition. King George's rejection made the colonists realize that they had two choices: to submit completely to the King, or to fight for independence.

Olive Branch Petition (Wikipedia)
Olive Branch Petition (Wikisource)

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4

In honor of July 4, I present some July 4 events from the past. Perhaps my Tennessee ancestors participated in or witnessed these events.

Nashville Whig, 4 July 1815, page 1

Nashville Whig, 4 July 1821, page 3

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sunday's Obituary: Mills Louis Russell

Nashville Tennessean, 18 January 1930, page 5

   RUSSELL––Mills Louis Russell, son of Andrew Jackson Russell and Miriam Hill Russell, born Aug. 13, 1856, died at his home near Linton, January 17, 1930, at 10'30 o'clock. Survived by his wife, Mrs. Bettie Russell; one daughter, Mrs. Barney Beasley of Hillsboro, one brother, S. H. Russell of Linton, three grandchildren and eleven nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be conducted at the home by Rev. Andy T. Ritchie, Sr., Saturday, January 18, 1930, at 2 p.m. Burial in the family cemetery. Active pallbearers: John Beasley, Seth Knight, Skelt and Mills Russell, Russell Beasley. Honorary pallbearers: J. B. Martin, John M. Hooper, Mac Allison, Judge Joe F. Mayes, J. A. Linton, W. W. Joslin, W. P. Hicks, J. B. Griggsby and Dan H. Hillman.

Mills Louis Russell was the son of my 4th-great-grandmother's brother James Russell and Miriam Hill. The obituary incorrectly states that his father's name was Andrew Jackson Russell. James Russell's father was Andrew Russell; perhaps his middle name was Jackson.

Mills married Ollie Elizabeth "Bettie" Butts on 31 December 1882 in Williamson County, Tennessee. Their daughter Medora "Dora" Russell was born on 3 October 1883. She married William Barnett "Barney" Beasley on 24 February 1909 in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Assassination of James A. Garfield

Engraving of James A. Garfield's assassination. A. Berghaus and C. Upham. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 16 July 1881. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.

On 2 July 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. Guiteau had wanted Garfield to appoint him to the position of consul in Paris, but he did not receive the position. He shot Garfield in the back and in the arm. Garfield died on 19 September 1881.

My great-grandmother's brother Garfield Graham may have been named after President Garfield. He was born on  26 May 1881 or 1882 in Quebec, Canada (probably in Montreal). His birth year is recorded as 1881 in the family Bible, but the record may have been made long after his birth, or copied from an earlier family Bible. His World War I and World War II draft cards, his Social Security application, and his death certificate all give his birth year as 1882.

Garfield's parents James Graham and Catherine Elizabeth Winters were American citizens who were living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Perhaps they still felt patriotic and that influenced their choice of name. I have wondered if there might be something more, though. Perhaps there was a reason that they particularly liked President Garfield. Maybe they could relate to his background. When James Garfield first left home, he got a job managing the mules that pulled a canal boat. Catherine Elizabeth Winters' father John Bennet Winters probably worked on the first enlargement of the Erie Canal. Although I have not conclusively identified James Graham's family of origin, the family that I suspect was his spent some time living in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio. They were living there at the time of the 1860 United States census. James Garfield was from Ohio. He had been a state senator and served until 1861. Perhaps James Graham's family had liked him. Maybe Garfield Graham's name is yet another clue that suggests I have identified the right family of origin for James Graham.

James A. Garfield

Friday, July 1, 2016

Canada Day

Dominion Day, Parliament Square, Ottawa, Ontario. Canada Historical Postcards [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: Mary Martin Postcards (, Perryville, MD, USA. 

 July 1 is Canada Day. Canada was united after the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called British North America Act, 1867) was enacted on 1 July 1867.The holiday was established on 15 May 1879 and was originally called Dominion Day. On 27 October 1982, the name was officially changed to Canada Day. (Source: Canada Day)