Little Boy Lost

Last week I filled you in on the story of the YOCHUM family. While researching last week’s post I came across a little nugget of a story that I wanted to flesh out and bring to you this week. The theme this week is ‘lost’ and we’ll be talking about little Roney LITTRELL, a cousin-by-marriage to Nancy BEAR (the sister of Eliza Jane BEAR to whom we are genetically related according to my DNA). Dad’s family does have a Littrell line so it may be that in the future I discover we are blood related to this little boy in some way. In any case, it fit the theme and I found it interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of information so this post will have two halves- Roney LITTRELL who was lost around age 6 and another of my Dad’s lines, the CHAMBERS line which also had a boy that got lost. So grab your kleenex box and let’s get started.

Roney Littrell – A Life Barely Started

Roney LITTRELL was born about 1808 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Lincoln County is about an hour to hour and a half south of Nashville, Tennessee to give you some idea of geography. His parents were Jesse and Frances (SHELTON) LITTRELL. DNA says we are connected to Roney but, of course, it doesn’t say how and I have yet to figure that out. We have both BEARs and LITTRELLs in my Dad’s line and both of these lines, along with YOCHUMs, intermarried. When Roney was about 6 years old, he and his dad went out with a group of people to hunt Sweet Gum trees. Sweet Gums are hardwood trees native to Tennessee and are considered ornamental in some areas of the US. I found a wonderful blog that laid out exactly what Sweet Gums can be used for. Thriving Earth Farm and Development says that for humans (as opposed to animals for which Sweet Gums are also food), parts of the Sweet Gum tree are used medicinally. Hobby Farms has a short article about medicinal uses. Sweet Gums can also be used for making baskets, for firewood if they are dried well, and for building material (including “high quality millwork” in houses). Some have even talked about using the wood to make their own lures at Tackle Underground. Any gardeners in the house? If so, check out FutureFarming’s website. They give a list of things you can do with Sweet Gum in the garden. A blog that I love, Eat the Weeds, says the dried sap of the tree is the only edible part of the tree but it does make a fragrant, bitter chewing gum. The sap is also used to add flavor to smoking tobacco. Any other edible uses are in the form of medicine which Eat the Weeds does talk about in the linked blog post. If you’re interested in making medicine be sure to read comments on the linked Eat the Weeds blog post as there are a variety of ways to make the medicine. When Sweet Gum is discussed for it’s medicinal properties, the brand name Tamiflu has been mentioned so if you have a Sweet Gum tree you may want to check that out. You can go to your pharmacy and get Sweet Gum in the form of “Compound Tincture of Benzoin”. If you feel more comfortable with a scientific study on the medicinal properties of Sweet Gum, you can check out the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health study. By the way, do you want to know how to make the gum? I got you covered! Go to BushcraftUSA‘s website and start reading!

Now back to Roney and his dad. I can’t say for sure why Roney and Jesse were hunting Sweet Gum that day. It could have been any of the reasons listed above. In any case, there they were with this group. I don’t have details about how it all went down but this is how I imagine it. Roney grouped up with the other kids his age, as kids often do. At some point, Roney separated from the group. When Jesse went to find him or to check on him, he was gone. I can only imagine the aftermath. If Roney’s mom (they called her Frankey) wasn’t with the group then Jesse had to go home – without Roney – and tell her what happened. My heart breaks for both of them. The story goes that Jesse hunted for Roney for two years after that, wandering in and out of Indian encampments looking for his son. I can only imagine the aftermath of that group trip. I cannot find any information that indicates Jesse and Frankey ever found Roney.

Alexander John Chambers- In His Heart, A Sea Captain

Relying on the research of others (specifically that research done by William Davis CHAMBERS and posted at Chambers History: Trails of the Centuries website), I offer you the following stories. Alexander CHAMBERS was born in 1749 in Ireland to Samuel and Mary (THOMPSON) CHAMBERS. They were from a Scots-Irish family. When Alexander was 15 years old, his family made the voyage to America, settling in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Alexander loved the sea. So much so that when the family arrived, Samuel and Mary indentured Alexander to a man 80 miles inland to keep Alexander from becoming a sailor. The family arrived in 1765. At that time, Philadelphia was suffering from a Smallpox epidemic that had broken out the previous year and lasted into 1766. According to Revolutionary War Journal‘s website, in 1765 Philadelphia suffered epidemic outbreaks of Smallpox (from 1764-1766), Scarlet Fever and Smallpox in 1769, and Influenza from 1770-1771. They had some difficult years leading up to the Revolution. You can see previous and subsequent epidemic outbreaks on that website. It’s very interesting. Our Covid-19 crisis seems to have been their “normal” from about 1763-1783. It was about halfway through this Philadelphian pandemic period (about 1771) that Alexander became an adult. He left his indenture status and returned to Philadelphia to be with his parents. In 1771, Philadelphia was suffering back-to-back epidemics of Influenza and Whooping Cough. During these back-to-back epidemics, many people left Philadelphia in an effort to save themselves and their families. When Alexander arrived in Philadelphia to be with his parents he could not find them. They had left while he was indentured. William Davis CHAMBERS received a letter from a family member who indicated that Alexander’s parents left because of the epidemics. According to his grandson, Alexander made an initial search for his parents but didn’t find them. He searched the rest of his life for his parents and never found them. Alexander eventually moved to Kentucky and then Indiana. Throughout his life he continued the search for his parents and his grandson remembers his dad (Alexander’s son) making two long trips with Alexander in search of Alexander’s parents. I can only assume that they also looked for him and never found him.

Wandering the Woods and the City Streets

I’d love more time to research and write about these families but I’ve run out of time for this week’s blog post. I think my ancestors would understand if they knew that I have living people to care for this week and an old friend to mourn who passed away this week – far too soon in his life. The stories will wait. The living people I love need to be loved and cared for now, not later. Maybe next week we’ll have a longer story time, but this week we’re going to leave these lost boys where they are – wandering the woods and the city streets trying to find their way back. There are many in the world today who are lost. Pray for them. Squeeze your loved ones tight and don’t take your eyes off your littles. Life is too short and too precious.

Wishing you love, safety, and a life of never being lost.

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives genealogy blog

Fortunes Won, Fortunes Lost, and Fortunes Seized by the Gubbamint

This week’s theme is ‘fortune’. I don’t know about you but I love a good buried treasure story! I’ve been waiting a while to tell this story and now is the perfect time! Back in August of 2019 I told you about my DNA adventure with the BAIR/BEAR/BARE family. See this post:

Revisiting Sugar Creek: Stormy Nights, Buried Treasure, a Bushwhacker Murder, and a Family Mystery

In that post I briefly mentioned Henry and Elizabeth (YOCUM) SCHELL.

Elizabeth (YOCHUM) SCHELL, about 1885. Genetically, we are related to her but I don’t know how. I know that SCHELLs married BEARs, BEARs married BAKERs, and BAKERs married DRAKEs. That’s as close as I can get right now, but DNA (combined with genealogical research) says we are her family. I believe Elizabeth is the daughter of Jacob Levi and Sarah YOACHUM. Jacob Levi is said to have made the dies with which the family minted the YOCUM silver dollar. If you’re thinking Elizabeth is highly identifiable as Native American, you would be correct. Elizabeth’s mother is said to be full-blood Cherokee.

I mentioned that Henry was murdered by bushwhackers and I believe the murder was tied to a hidden treasure called “Yocum’s Silver Dollars”. I didn’t really go into much detail in that post because I didn’t feel I could bring you a good enough story about it at that time. I’ve since done some more research and it fits perfectly with this week’s theme so we’re going to unpack and dig into the legend of Yocum’s Silver Dollars!

The First Non-Indian Residents in Stone County, Missouri

There are so many YOCUM family stories online that it took me two days to locate and read through the stories about JUST the Stone and Taney County, Missouri YOCUMs. I’m still finding stories so I know I haven’t gotten them all. The abundance of information about this family is almost overwhelming. At the bottom of this post I will link to a crude bibliography I created so you know what information I looked at to get this post written. One of the links I found identified James YOACHUM as being the first non-Indian resident to live in Stone County, Missouri.

Some say the YOCUM family (then spelled YOACHUM) was in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri as far back as the 1790’s. I can neither confirm nor deny this information. I can say with some degree of confidence that James YOACHUM/YOCUM left Illinois shortly after the death of his first wife and moved to Taney County, Missouri by at least the very early 1800’s, some say after the War of 1812. He left his son with his brother Solomon (who went by Sol). In the spring, James would return to Illinois to see his son, Jacob, and then return home in the summer with provisions. By 1815, James had convinced Sol and Jacob to move to Missouri with him. Around 1818, the US Government signed the St. Mary’s Treaty with the Delaware Tribe which ordered the tribe to move to land west of the Mississippi. Two governors got together and declared the area around Taney County, Missouri to be Delaware Indian Reservation land so that’s where the tribe settled. This was the same land/same area that James YOACHUM lived on and farmed. James eventually married a Delaware Indian woman named Winonah. In 1825, the government’s Indian Sub-agent, John Campbell, got the YOCUMs evicted off the Delaware Reservation land by writing a letter to his superior stating that James YOCUM and other “outlaws” were distilling liquor and selling it to the Indians. Specifically, he had this to say about our YOCUM family:

“Solomon Yoachum has erected a distillery… and has made a quantity of peach brandy and has been selling it for some time in quantities to the Indians. There is a number of those outlaw characters all below him who are selling whiskey constantly to the Indians.”

The Yocum Silver Dollar (thelibrary.org), accessed on 3/4/2021.

The previous year, John Campbell- the Federal Indian sub-agent who had sole jurisdiction over the Delaware Indian Reservation land, had complained about “relations between whites and Indians” and said,

“I think it bad policy to permit traders to cultivate so much of the Indian soil and to keep such large stocks of horses and cattle in the neighborhood of the villages and they pay the Indians no rent and sell their corn at an extravagant price to them… Some of the traders are now clearing more land, those who have Indian families of children I think ought to be allowed to cultivate soil sufficient to support their children but nothing more.”

The Yocum Silver Dollar (thelibrary.org), accessed on 3/4/2021.

It was, however, seemingly acceptable to Sub-agent Campbell that the likes of John Jacob ASTOR had a monopoly on trade in the area via a trading post that “extended credit” to the Delaware people. ASTOR maintained quite the lucrative venture from 1823-1827. The YOACHUMs weren’t going to win this particular battle against the government. They were evicted from their land by the government and they moved just southwest of the reservation to the mouth of the Kings River where it empties into the White River.

The Silver Mine Enters the Story

The Delaware were later moved off this land to a different location and sometime before the Delaware Tribe left, James traded horse, blankets, and soap to the Delaware in exchange for a silver mine (or cave, depending on who is telling the story). Eventually, James was joined by both his brothers as well as his son. The three brothers built the first cabin across the valley from the mine entrance so they could guard it. Later they built James’ cabin directly in front of the mine entrance and made a secret mine entrance so they could access the mine from inside their home.

In the early 1800’s money, especially silver, was scarce. This is where the story diverges. Some say it was because of the scarcity of silver that YOACHUMs decided to make their own from the ore in the mine. Others tell a different story about how the YOACHUMs came into possession of the silver. In either case, it wasn’t illegal at that time to coin your own money and many did it. (Minting your own coins wasn’t illegal until 1862 when Congress got involved and started passing laws.) There are so many versions of the story and they all start to diverge right about this point in the story. Some people believe James’ son, Jacob Levi YOACHUM, was responsible for making the dies with which they struck the coins. Some believe the coins don’t exist at all. Several of the YOACHUMs were expert blacksmiths so it’s very possible that one or some or all of them did create some dies and use the dies to mint some silver coins.

YOCUM Silver Dollar dies/coins, Sprinkle Coins (treasurenet.com)

Again, the country as a whole was very short on physical money in the early 1800’s. The government had forced the limiting of the production of coins. President Jefferson had imposed a moratorium on production in 1806 and maintained that limitation until 1837. There was a great deal of private coinage in circulation during this time. Privately minted coins in circulation at the time bore the name of the creator of the coin and was generally accepted as money. There were no banks in Missouri at that time – not until 1837 would there be a bank in Missouri. Bartering was a normal way of life and if you minted your own coins, provided they met a certain standard, they were a very welcome way of paying for goods. YOCUM dollars were used by everyone in the area. No one objected to the YOCUM dollars until one day a group of 6 men went to Springfield, Missouri to the land office there because they’d been told that even though they’d been living on their land a long time, now they had to go pay a filing fee to the government land office and homestead their land if they wanted to keep it. So they arrived in Springfield with their Yocum dollars to pay up. When they presented their YOCUM dollars, the land agent objected to them and said they were counterfeit. The settlers refused to leave without title to their land. The land agent confiscated the coins and sent one to Washington, D.C. for assay and a judgment on the legitimacy of the coins. The coins assayed at almost pure silver – worth more than the federal silver dollars. The government ordered the confiscation of all Yocum Silver Dollars, ordered agents to locate the silver mine/cave then confiscate it and not homestead that land to anyone.

Sticking It to the Man…Twice

Some time after that, James and Winonah YOCUM were said to have been killed when the silver mine caved in while they were inside it. This was about 1846-1848. Around this time, a federal agent showed up looking for the YOCUMs’ silver dollars, the mine, and the minting equipment. He didn’t find any of it. The YOCUMs refused to tell him the location of any of it. If anyone else knew the location, they didn’t give it up either. YOCUMs advised the agent to leave the country and never come back. The agent left. However, 8 years later the same government agent showed up again with 8 more agents. The agents and the YOCUMs did eventually arrive at an agreement that the YOCUMs would not mint any more coins and the government agent would go away and never come back. This was, apparently, the only concession made by the YOCUMs. (Way to stick it to the man, Sol!) After the death of James and Winonah, Sol packed up his family and left for California to see if they could strike it rich in the California Gold Rush. The silver mine/cave has never been located. Sol was the last surviving YOCUM who knew the location of the silver mine or any remaining hidden caches of YOCUM silver dollars. After having a stroke, Sol gave his grandson William a map with the location of the silver mine on it but the grandson was never able to find the mine. William’s son, Joseph, took up the search in 1958 but was also unsuccessful. Joseph gave the map to Artie AYRES who owned the land where the cave/mine was supposedly located. Artie never found the mine/cave either. Artie did, however, write a book which is now so rare it sells for $100 if you can manage to find a copy to buy. Eventually the White River was dammed and Table Rock Lake was created which covered up the alleged location of the mine and the alleged location of hidden caches of YOCUM silver dollars (along with the hidden dies used to mint the coins).

Adapt and Overcome

That’s the basic story of the Yocum Silver Dollar that I believe to be truthful. There are a lot of background details and side stories that are missing though so I want to fill in a few holes in the story. For instance if you believe the government and their experts, there are no known silver mines in either Stone or Taney County, Missouri that actually produce silver and professional geologists have said there will never be a producing silver mine in this area due to the geography of the land. They say it isn’t possible. I’m not an expert so I can’t say one way or the other. I can only ask myself if anyone offering a story has a reason to mislead and then base the “believability” of a statement on the conclusion I come to. (I can say that as recently as this week, I’ve found the government and one of their agencies being less than truthful about the existence of something. So there’s that.) I will say, some stories mention a silver mine or silver cave that had solid silver walls. I excluded that detail because I don’t believe it to be true. All of this to say, you’re getting the details *I* believe to be true. You’ll have to make up your own mind for yourself.

I did find someone on a message forum who said they were family of the YOACHUMs. This person told the most believable story of all and said they got it straight from other members of the family. It makes the most sense to me of all the stories I’ve read so far. This person says the truth is there was no silver mine. That story was created and perpetuated to throw off the government and to explain how the (very impoverished) YOACHUM family came into so much silver when it was so hard to come by. The truth is they distilled whiskey and brandy and sold it to the Indians which was an illegal act at the time. The Indians received payments from the federal government because of the treaties and the government paid the Indians with…you guessed it, silver dollars. So when the Indians got their government money, the YOACHUMs (being the wise entrepreneurs they were) brought out the peach brandy and whiskey. The Native Americans paid for the alcohol with the government silver. Now, the government silver would have proved the YOACHUMs to be criminals so they melted down the silver, re-minted it with their brand, and then were able to use it. Yes, the YOACHUMs laundered money…in a 19th century kind of way. They illegally sold homemade liquor and then laundered the silver coins they received in exchange for goods. They likely laundered money in this same way for other illegal distillers in the area as well. They did what they had to do to survive. There was a severe economic downturn in 1837. They adapted and overcame.

If you’re still doubting the YOCUM silver dollars ever actually existed, perhaps it will sway you to know that at some point there was a witness who said they visited YOCUM’s blacksmith shop and reported seeing a barrel full of YOCUM silver dollars. Again, you have to make up your own mind based on the information you find and the bias of the people offering the information.

Missouri…The Show-Me State

Perhaps, like me, you’re wondering what the YOCUM silver dollars looked like. There are a multitude of descriptions. I’ll give them all to you and you can decide which you find most likely to be credible.

Description #1: “Same size as a Spanish Silver Dollar coin”. (per yoakumrendezvous.pdf)

Description #2: The silver dollars had ‘YOCUM’ on one side and were larger than the standard U.S. silver dollar. (Yocum Silver Dollar: Fact or Legend? (thelibrary.org))

Description #3: The YOCUM dollars were “crudely fashioned” and possibly only said “YOCUM Dollar”.

Silver Dollar City – Waterside Kennels Mysteries (dogmysteries.com)

Description #4: Each was roughly 2 inches in diameter and embossed with the YOCUM name.

Description #5: There is outlined a number ‘1’ in the center with ‘DOLLAR’ curved below the ‘1’. Also there are some very small letters at the bottom which are illegible. It looks like there are about 4 numbers or letters that are illegible.

Description #5: The coins had hand punched denticals on both sides resembling a half circle pattern of connecting shapes that go completely around the outer circumference on both sides. The dies were primitive and crudely lettered. The die rod ends opposite the devices show expansion from being hammered on. Obverse has ‘YOACHUM’ punched halfway curved around the top while the curved date of 1822 is at the bottom. There is a single central star in the middle of the coin with 8 stars going around the central star. Two other stars are located on either side and connect ‘YOACHUM’ with the ‘1822’ date. The lettering is crude, resembling a chisel impression and not that of a lettered punch. Reverse has ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ going around and having smaller lettering than the obverse. (Yoachum Dollar (or Yocum) information desparately saught. — Collectors Universe)

yoakumrendezvous.pdf (oldstagecoachstop.org)

Finders Keepers

There was one coin found in an old trunk in Kansas and it was reported to have been displayed at Missouri State Archives several years prior to 2017, according to Bob DERRYBERRY, the great-great-grandson of George YOCUM. Four coins were found under the floor of an old cabin that was being razed in 1923. There was allegedly 236 coins found in a metal box in South Branson, Missouri by a St. Louis, Missouri man. These 236 coins match up with Description #4 above.

J. R. BLUNK of Galena, Missouri, found YOCUM dies on 11 March 1983 while digging along the White River on property adjacent to the YOACHUM Settlement. The dies were buried and were preserved in a waxy substance that resembled animal fat. (More about this below.)

Final Details

Although most stories credit James YOACHUM with being the first YOCUM in the Stone and Taney County, Missouri areas and they say he owned the silver mine, the family story that I found most reliable says George W. YOCUM (nephew of James) was the one who minted all the YOCUM silver dollars, not James and his son Jacob. The family says George and his wife came to Missouri from Ohio in the 1820’s. Many YOCUMs came to the area from Illinois and Ohio and all settled along the White River. Later, some moved north to the James River west of Branson, Missouri. I cannot tell you which version is correct on this particular detail.

A side note, the James River in southern Missouri is said to have been named after James YOACHUM. As of today, I still have not found a Taney County, Missouri map of the right time period with James River on it but I did find this 1830 map showing where the Delaware tribal reservation land was.

You can locate this map at https://pps-west.com/product/finley-missouri-1830/.

A more interesting side note: on Underground Ozarks forums there’s a post which ties together a lot of Branson area locales. For instance, I had no idea (and never really thought about it) that Silver Dollar City took it’s name from the YOCUM silver dollar legend. In the 1980’s when Branson was still a small-town attraction, there was a small outdoor amphitheater called Lost Silver Mine Theater that told the story of the YOACHUM family and the lost silver mine. If you’re looking for a podcast to listen to, I recommend Episode 4 of Ozarks Haints and Hooch where one of the hosts discusses her time as an actress at the Lost Silver Mine theater in Branson West (which was then called Lakeview and not Branson West). Dogpatch and Li’l Abner both based their main characters off the YOACHUM family as well. In addition to all this, there used to be a Camp Yocum in the Galena, Stone County, Missouri area. It was a summer resort on the James River during the 1920’s.

Lost Silver Mine Theater Building; Steve Almquist photo. “Lost Silver Mine” Drama in Branson West – Page 2 – Underground Ozarks
Lost Silver Mine Theater signage; Steve Almquist photo; “Lost Silver Mine” Drama in Branson West – Page 2 – Underground Ozarks
Lost Silver Mine Theater stage cabin; Steve Almquist photo; “Lost Silver Mine” Drama in Branson West – Page 2 – Underground Ozarks
Lost Silver Mine Amphitheater; Steve Almquist photo; “Lost Silver Mine” Drama in Branson West – Page 2 – Underground Ozarks

Other interesting family facts:

  • As of 2009, YOCUM descendants still lived around the Shell Knob, Missouri area.
  • On the Above Top Secret forums, someone who once saw the maps that Sol passed down to William (the maps that ended up with Artie AYRES) suggests the silver mine/cave is actually in the Reeds Spring, Missouri or Galena, Missouri area rather than in the Branson, Missouri area. Oddly enough, this fits in with other details I’ve read that were more obscure. Even odder, this is where my 3rd great grandfather, Jehue BAKER, lived and is buried. Jehue’s mother was Mary BAIR/BEAR and is our connection to the YOCUM/YOACHAM and SCHELL/SHELL families.
  • In 2016, John R. BLUNK filed for a trademark on the YOACHUM silver dollar. (YOACHUM SILVER DOLLAR YOACHUM 1822 Trademark – Serial Number 86892222 :: Justia Trademarks)
YOACHUM SILVER DOLLAR YOACHUM 1822 Trademark – Serial Number 86892222 :: Justia Trademarks
  • For those of you interested in the Native American heritage, it is said that YOCUMs have Osage, Cherokee, and Delaware blood.

Final Thoughts

There is so much more I’d love to know about this family. I wouldn’t mind trying a sip of that peach brandy either. Unfortunately, I’ll have to settle for reading my copy of a magazine I just scored off eBay this past week – the November/December 1988 issue of Treasure Search magazine which carried the article about the “Yoachum Dies” being found. Sometimes you have to take what you can get.

I could not believe I found this on eBay at exactly the time I chose to write this story!! #Serendipity #TheAncestorsLoveMe
Pics on first page of the magazine story.
In case you wondered what Mr. Blunk looked like in 1988…reminds me of the BeeGees.
Restrikes from the found dies. I love that they did this. There used to be a coin minting company that did reproductions of these but they no longer do it and said they probably won’t do it again.

This week I hope you don’t have to settle for just “what you can get”. I wish you the best of the best and no being forced to settle. Make it a great week, friends. And if you do have to settle – just know that your turn for something perfect is coming. Make the best of it no matter what you get this week. Your attitude is the only thing you get to control.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives Genealogy blog

A Rose by Any Other Name?

“…a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” ~ Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare

“…[A] rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” – but would it really? Is Cherokee County, Oklahoma just like Cherokee County, Kansas or Cherokee County, Georgia? This week’s theme is “name’s the same”. In the past I’ve done this theme using first names. This week I wanted to do something different – taking a look at place names that are the same. Often, as immigrants moved westward they named a new place after an old place. I find that interesting so today we’re looking at same-place-names.

Cherokee County, Georgia

My mom’s BATES family started out in Georgia. I got to visit Cherokee County, Georgia a few years ago and was able to go to some of the places that played a part in the BATES family history. It looks amazingly like Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Rolling hills, lots of green trees and forests. It was a nice trip and a beautiful place.

Georgia near my 3rd great grandparents’ homeplace.

I could have chosen a better picture but the picture above is one that is special to me. I took it on my trip to Georgia. This was as close to my 3rd great grandparents’ homeplace as I could get that day.

The ancestors in my BATES line who lived in Cherokee County, Georgia were:

  • John C. and Mary Jane (MOBLEY) BATES (my 3rd great grandparents); John was born in Cherokee County, Georgia about 1818. John fought for the Confederacy during Civil War. He was a prisoner of war at Rock Island – the Yankee version of Andersonville Prison. Until recently, I thought he’d died as a prisoner of war at Rock Island. However, I discovered he was a part of a prisoner exchange. He managed to survive until his arrival in Savannah, South Carolina. There, he passed away. He was so close to home and yet so far away. I’m very proud of his service. I believe his family thought he died at Rock Island. He is recorded in the Murray County, Georgia books as having died as a prisoner of war.
John Bates
John BATES’ grave in South Carolina.
  • Jesse A. and Delila (ARENT) BATES (my 4th great grandparents); In 1832, Jesse was appointed postmaster of Hickory Flat, Cherokee County, Georgia in 1832. Jesse and Delila remained in Cherokee County, Georgia until their deaths. They are said to be buried at the Hickory Flat Cemetery but when I went I could not find their graves. After Jesse died, Delila married William JOHNSON:
Cherokee County, Georgia marriage record of Delila (ARENT) BATES and William S. JOHNSON.
  • John and Frances Lucinda “Fanny” (BURNETT) BATES (my 5th great grandparents); like Jesse and Delila, John and Fanny were supposed to be buried in Hickory Flat Cemetery. I was unable to locate their graves when I went there. Another researcher has documented other efforts to locate the graves and no one has succeeded. John BATES was a blacksmith. Fanny’s dad (John Harrison BURNETT) died in the winter of 1777/1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Which means he must have known and interacted with George WASHINGTON. What an amazing history. This is definitely going on the list of future stories to write.
  • Burwell Meadows and Elizabeth Ann “Eliza” (MANNING) MOBLEY (whose daughter, Mary MOBLEY, married into the BATES family; they are my 4th great grandparents). Reuben MANNING (father of Elizabeth MANNING MOBLEY above) wrote a deed that I especially love. The deed can be found in Henry County, Georgia, Deed Book F, p 186:

Reuben MANNING of the state of South Carolina, Chester District, sold to Burwell MOBLEY of Henry County on 12 October 1832 for the respect I have for Burwell MOBLEY and his three children which are my grandchildren: Mary Jane MOBLEY; Sarah H A MOBLEY and Joseph Manning MOBLEY, 101 1/4 acres, the east end of Lot #90 in District 12. Witnesses: William WOODWARD and Sarah WOODWARD. Recorded 11 Feb 1834.

Henry County, Georgia, Deed Book F, p 186.

“For the respect I have for Burwell MOBLEY and his three children”. That’s an amazing thing to write about a son-in-law. I love that!

  • Vashti (COLEMAN) MANNING (grandmother of Mary MOBLEY who married John BATES; my 5th great grandmother); I found a transcription of a letter to Vashti from her father-in-law, John WILLIAMSON. Vashti married It was an interesting read. I’d sure like to know the story behind it. You can see the letter here:
Letter written in 1831 to his daughter-in-law, Vashti Coleman Williamson
Transcription of a letter from John WILLIAMSON, Sr. to his daughter-in-law, Vashti (COLEMAN) MANNING WILLIAMSON.

So, as you can see – some interesting finds coming out of Cherokee County, Georgia. Georgia’s smelling pretty rosy to me!

Cherokee County, Kansas

We’re going to head west to Cherokee County, Kansas. Cherokee County, Kansas is still very green and has plenty of trees but it isn’t quite as hilly. Like it’s same-name in Georgia, it has lots of rural areas. This area of Kansas is rich in mining, though. In this single county, you can find my ancestors on both my dad’s and mom’s side, my husband’s ancestors from his dad’s side, and even the ancestors of my daughter-in-law and ex-son-in-law! Cherokee County, Kansas is a gold mine for me! Today though, I’m going to focus on my husband’s people for this area of Cherokee County, Kansas.

The one that I’m certain spent time in Cherokee County, Kansas is my husband’s great grandfather, George Benjamin PAGE. George mined in 1918. At that time, he was working in Baxter Springs, Cherokee County, Kansas at Pioneer Lead and Zinc Company. The photo below is George PAGE on his drill in Blue Goose Mine. His helper is Arie BRIGGS. The mine was located just across the state line in Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma but is a good example of what George did in the mines.

George PAGE on his drill with his helper Arie BRIGGS at Blue Goose Mine in Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Thanks to Gerald WILLIAMS for sharing the photo.

You can read more about George in one of my other posts:

Cherokee County, Oklahoma

It’s time to head south now to Oklahoma. Like the other two Cherokee County locations, Oklahoma has lots of rural areas and green trees. Like Georgia, it also has foothills. For this location, I’m going to focus on my Dad’s family. The following ancestors are known to have lived in Cherokee County, Oklahoma:

  • Joseph L. and Mary Elizabeth (LANE) LARKIN (my 3rd great grandparents); for a very short period between about 1906-1910, Joseph and some of his extended family lived in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. During this time they also appeared in the city directory of Tulsa. Based on all the evidence I have, I believed their permanent residence was in Cherokee County, Oklahoma but they worked in Tulsa for Tulsa Vitrified Brick and Tile Company. On the days they worked, they stayed in Tulsa and lived in a tent city near the brick plant. I believe they lived in a tent city because there is a wonderful article (well, wonderful for me- not so much for Joseph and his son William) that my sister-in-law found that talks about a fire where William lost money.
William Larkin 16 sep 1906 sun. Morning Tulsa Daily World OK -
The Morning Tulsa Daily World (Tulsa, OK), 16 September 1906.

You can find more of my posts about Joseph LARKIN or his wife, Mary Elizabeth LANE LARKIN, here:

  • William and Minerva Jane (UNDERWOOD) LARKIN (my 2nd great grandparents); this William is the William in the article above and I’m confident that his dad Joseph was living with him in the tent city in Tulsa. Listen, $55 doesn’t sound like much today but I looked it up online and his $55 in 1906 had the same purchasing power as $1,598.56 in today’s money! In addition to the money, they lost the majority of their possessions. This was a HUGE loss for the family. You can find more articles about William LARKIN here:
  • William Larkin: Farmer, Mine Owner, and Road Paver
  • Brick by Brick
  • Infant LARKIN (my 1st cousin 3 times removed); I include the infants because there is no one to remember them, so I will remember them. This baby belonged to Samuel Anglus and Frances (DEAN) LARKIN (my 2nd great granduncle and 2nd great grandaunt). The baby was born and died in 1917 while the family lived in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. The following year Frances was appointed Postmaster at McBride, Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Samuel owned a business in Hulbert, Cherokee County, Oklahoma. I imagine Samuel must have been quite a character and at some future point I hope to write his story. This article located on newspapers.com screams, “Write my story!”
SA Larkin Manslaughter
The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), 17 March 1934.

Coming Full Circle

We’ve finally come back around to our original question – is a rose [or a Cherokee County] by any other name really just as sweet? And to that, I would give you a slightly fuller version of Juliet’s line from Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Yes, it would. A Cherokee County is as lovely in Georgia as it is in Kansas and as it is in Oklahoma. You know, I still have at least 5 other Cherokee Counties in the US that I have not visited and to that I offer another of Juliet’s lines (although slightly modified), “O Cherokee, Cherokee, wherefore art thou, Cherokee…” to which I also respond- Alabama, Iowa, Texas, and North and South Carolina!! I’m ready to travel!

I love all three of these Cherokee Counties. Not just because these places helped sustain my ancestors and gave them a home but because they are each interesting and beautiful in their own way. Before I could afford to travel, I would pull out maps and daydream about all the places I might go some day. We have a beautiful country. I hope you are fortunate enough to be making some summer travel plans even if it’s close to home. Pull out your maps and DREAM BIG!

Wishing you the best summer travel plans,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives Genealogy blog

The Single Most Favorite Double in the World

1979 Doublemint twins ad from YouTube.

This week the theme is ‘multiples’. This theme was almost too broad for me to decide what to write about! After some debate I narrowed it down to two topics. After looking at the 2021 weekly topics list I felt the other story would fit into an October theme and this particular story for this week didn’t really fit anywhere else. So, this week we’re talking about multiple births. I’m going to look into something I’ve always wondered: how many sets of twins did my direct-line ancestors have? I’ll be going back as far as my 2nd great grandparents. I chose that as a stopping point so this blog doesn’t get too lengthy. Out of the 8 pairs of my 2nd great grandparents, 3 of the couples had twins.

Dad’s Family: Double Your Sentiment

90’s Doublemint twins ad.

In the 21st century the statistical probability of having twins is about 3%, or 3 in 100. That is a higher probability than previous generations. In my family (in that 2nd-great-grandparent generation) mixed sets of twins were more popular (mixed meaning a boy-girl set of twins versus same-sex twins). Out of my dad’s great grandmothers, he had one who had twins. Eliza Emoline BELL WILLIAMS (and her husband, Samuel Morris WILLIAMS) had a set of twins in 1900- two boys named Lorenzo Dall and William Sherman WILLIAMS. Neither baby survived. I’m guessing the babies are probably buried in Oakland Cemetery in Success, Texas County, Missouri since the family lived in that area and other family members are buried in that cemetery but I can’t say for certain where the babies were buried. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this family today because I’ve written about them quite a bit. You can find previous posts at:

Mom’s Family: Double Good

Early iteration of the Doublemint twins ads.

My 2nd great grandmother, Sarah C. DAVIS REITER, and her husband Nicholas Wilhelm REITER had a set of twins in 1864. My mom thinks Sarah’s twins were mixed – one boy and one girl. She can’t remember their names but is going to try to find that information for me. I’ve not found their names anywhere but if mom locates that information I’ll be sure to let you know. The babies did not survive. I don’t know where they’re buried but I’m sure it’s in Illinois, in the area of Perry, Pike County, Illinois since that’s where the family lived. This is another family I’ve written about quite a bit so I won’t spend a lot of time on them today. You can read more about Sarah and her family at:

My 2nd great grandmother, Druziller Mahala LATTY BULLOCK (and her husband James Mathaniel BULLOCK), also had a set of twins born in 1892. For this grandma though, both twins survived – one girl named Alice May and one boy named Oscar Morris.

1982 Wrigley’s Doublemint gum twins ad.

Alice May and Oscar Morris BULLOCK were born 17 April 1892 in Benton County, Arkansas. They remained in Benton County, Arkansas until after they married. Alice married Martin Rotramel when she was 17 years old. Together, Alice and Martin and had 8 children – and no twins. Here is Alice in her later years with her dog, Major. I love this photo.

Alice BULLOCK ROTRAMEL and her dog, Major.

Alice lived to be 92 years old! The last 52 years or so of her life she lived in Delaware County, Oklahoma. Alice passed away on 1 December 1984 in Jay, Delaware County, Oklahoma. She’s buried in Hillcrest Cemetery beside her husband in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas where her parents are buried.

Oscar Morris BULLOCK grew up with his family in Benton County, Arkansas. He served as a Private in the U.S. Army as evidence by the Army transport document below.

Army Passenger List.

I don’t fully understand that document. It looks like perhaps he was transported to a Veterinary Hospital. It would be interesting to know what he did in the Army. Oscar fought in World War I. I do know he arrived in New York in June of 1919 on his way to fight in France.

Army transport document.

According to military records, Oscar was serving with Veterinary Hospital #16 MR. as a Private V.C.. Oscar served in France in 1919. During that time, the final US deaths of the war happened and the Treaty of Versailles was drawn up. The treaty was signed the day after Oscar arrived back on US soil. Oscar shipped out from Marseille, France on the ship Taormina and arrived home at New York, USA on 27 June 1919.

Some researchers say that at age 27 Oscar married Stella BROWN. He lived in California at the time but the marriage certificate was in Arkansas. I haven’t done extensive research on this line so I can’t say what really happened. I know that in his obituary no children or wife were listed. Oscar passed away at 80 years of age. He died on 17 February 1973 in Fayetteville, Washington County, Arkansas. He was buried in the Fayetteville National Cemetery in Fayetteville, Washington County, Arkansas.

Doing the Numbers

So, let’s bring this all together. I looked at all my direct line ancestors from my parents up through all of my 2nd great grandparents. The only generation that included twins were my 2nd great grandparents’. Out of 8 sets of 2nd great grandparents, only 3 couples (2 on my mother’s side and 1 on my father’s side) had twins. The paternal set of twins passed away or were stillborn; their names were Lorenzo and William. One set of maternal twins also passed away or were stillborn and included one girl and one boy; I don’t know their names but they were given names. The final set of maternal twins (Alice and Oscar) lived to adulthood and at least one of them had their own offspring but did not have their own set of twins.

According to official statistics:

The gender chances of a fraternal twin pregnancy are; 25% chance that a mother will have two boys, 25% chance that a mother will have two girls, and 50% chance that a mother will have a boy and a girl. On the other hand, identical twins are always the same gender.

https://healthresearchfunding.org/24-interesting-fraternal-twins-gender-statistics/, accessed 28 Feb 2021.

So, according to Health Research Funding, Alice and Oscar were fraternal twins as were the DAVIS twins. Only the paternal twins- Lorenzo and William WILLIAMS- had a chance at being identical twins. I found that very interesting.

I was wondering about what my chances of having twins might have been in my childbearing years. Since 3 out of 8 couples in my 2nd great grandparents’ generation had twins, I felt like statistically I stood a better chance of having twins in my child bearing years. MedlinePlus.gov confirms it as does Washington State Twin Registry. Turns out, fraternal twins- especially if they occur on the mother’s side- are associated with an increased likelihood of twins being hereditary in families. I searched some more and I hit some good information:

A family history of identical twins does not necessarily make it more likely you’ll have multiples, although the offspring of male identical twins may be more likely to have their own identical twins. However, if you have fraternal twins (non-identical) in your family, your chances of conceiving twins rise. If there are fraternal twins on both the mother and father’s side, your odds for twins goes up even higher.

Lazarov S, Lazarov L, Lazarov N. Multiple pregnancy and birth: Twins, triplets and high-order multiples. OverviewTrakia J Sci. 2016;1:103-107. doi:10.15547/tjs.2016.01.015 

There are other factors that play a role as well. As it turns out, having children when you’re older increases your odds of having multiple births from one pregnancy. So I went back to my charts to check ages of the mothers. Eliza Emoline was 28 years old when she had Lorenzo and William. Sarah C. was 27 years old when she had her twins. Druziller Mahala was 34 years old when she had Alice and Oscar.

Final Thoughts

One last statistic about twins from Health Research Funding.

A woman named Mary Jonas, who died in 1899 had 15 sets of fraternal twins.

24 Interesting Fraternal Twins Gender Statistics – HRF (healthresearchfunding.org)

I found that tidbit interesting since two sets of the twins I talked about today were born during the 1890’s. I will spare you one last Doublemint commercial. Hopefully the song is now stuck in your head so I don’t have to suffer that fate alone now.

If you’d like to learn more about the BULLOCK family, you can find more of my posts at:

If you’re looking for more blogs to read later in the week, you can go to:

If you’re interested in joining me on this family history writing adventure, well…the more the merrier! You can join at Amy Johnson Crow’s website. There’s a Facebook page that goes along with the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. The only rules are the rules you make up for yourself on this writing adventure. Anything you get down in writing is more than you had before so get writing! Don’t miss out on Amy’s blog and podcast either. Both are very good.

Enjoy your week and make the most of it!

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives Genealogy blog

There’s Power in Numbers

I had totally intended to write about my Power family this week but it seemed everyone else was and I prefer to do something different. My thoughts went in a few different directions: “power in the blood” (i.e.- the life of one of my several Reverends) or “power in numbers” (i.e.- many offspring), etc. About the middle of the week though, something happened and I wrote about neither. I wrote nothing but emails…but I’m getting ahead of myself. About the middle of the week RootsTech conference started and of course, due to Covid it’s virtual. One of the few things I’ve been grateful that Covid changed…one of the few things Covid changed for the better…is a free and virtual conference! So I got busy with RootsTech and they have this amazing online tool this year where you can see who is at the conference that you’re related to so I started finding all these cousins and messaging them through the FamilySearch system and folks, that’s all the family history writing I’ve done this week! It’s been fun, though! A few have responded back and some I’ve asked to guest write or co-write some blog posts. We’ll see if anyone is willing to do that…fingers crossed, knock on wood, rub the lucky rabbit’s foot, pray-pray-pray!! I love guest writers on the blog and haven’t had one for a long time! Anyway…I decided to combine “power in the blood” and “power in numbers” and revamp them a little so that today I’m not telling the story of an ancestor so much as I’m telling the story of who I’ve been in touch with this week. I hope you’ll stick around and read this one and then come back next week for an ancestor story.

It’s funny how knowing that someone is related to you changes how you feel about them. It changes how much leeway you’ll give them and changes how you interact with them. Even if you don’t think it does…it does. There’s something about a blood connection that changes the way you think about and interact with someone initially. Now…after you get to know them that might change, but initially it seems to make a difference. Not only does it make you more open to introducing yourself to strangers, it’s an eye-opening, visual experience in genetics. It’s been very interesting to see which lines of my families have lots of researchers at the genealogy conference and which have seemingly no one at all. I’m not a statistics person but surely the number of researchers in a specific line makes a difference in which lines of the family get preserved (as far as information, stories, and pictures) and which don’t. I thought it would be interesting to let you see who/which family lines I’ve been in touch with so far.

Power in the Blood AND the Numbers

Dad’s Lines

  • Braxton DRAKE/Martha Patsy GREER line: 1 person.
  • Mordecai MITCHELL/Lucretia HUTCHISON: 5 people.
  • Jesse BAKER/Mary BAIR: 1person.
  • John HUBBARD/Nancy CHAMBERS: 1 person.
  • Levi HUBBARD/Nancy Indiana WHITE: 21 people!
  • John HUBBARD/Nancy WEDDLE: 2 people.
  • Josep LARKIN/Mary LANE: 1 person.
  • Bartlett UNDERWOOD/Minerva BRINSFIELD/BRINCEFIELD: 1 person.
  • James LANE/Nancy CONKWRIGHT/CONKRITE: 1 person.
  • John WEDDING/Mary McAfee/McAtee: 1 person.
  • John WILLIAMS/Nancy WALLS(?): 1 person.
  • John BELL Jr./Sarah HARDIN: 4 people
  • Hardy HARDIN/Tabitha ROBERTS: 1 person.

Mom’s Lines

  • John BATES/Mary MOBLEY: 1 person.
  • Charles G. SEELY/Synthia FOSTER: 3 people.
  • George SEELY/Elizabeth SHELLY: 3 people.
  • Frederick FOSTER/Mary BURNETT/PICKENS: 5 people.
  • John SEELY/Katherine BRINKER: 1 person.
  • James GIBSON/Lucinda DOW: 2 people.
  • Samuel GIBSON/Lucinda BELL PETTIT: 7 people!
  • Henry DOW/Rebecca WHITE: 1 person.
  • James GIBSON/Sarah PHILLIPS: 5 people.
  • John DOW/Harty ELLIS: 2 people.
  • Benjamin WHITE/Mary ELSTON/WALDROP: 6 people!
  • James BULLOCK/Cynthia DALE: 4 people.
  • James Squire DALE/Elizabeth SMITH: 3 people.
  • John LATTY/Martha Frances SCOTT: 4 people.
  • Edwin WALLS/Delilah UNKNOWN: 1 person.

Each person I contacted was only counted once. That’s 89 people I’ve connected with so far! Some people are connections for lines I struggle with so that’s very exciting. There are several people I’ve asked to guest write or co-write a blog post about their branch of the family (or about our common ancestor, either way). Some have already given me leads to resources I didn’t know existed for our family! The computer only shows me 300 relatives out of a whopping 45,000+ that are registered for the conference!!! I probably won’t even get through all 300 but I got as far as 5th cousins as of this evening. I’ve also learned how I connect to several professional genealogists I follow. Amy JOHNSON CROW, one of my favorite genealogists, is my 7th cousin through my mom’s FOSTER line. Thomas MacENTEE, another genealogist is my 10th cousin twice removed through my dad’s LARKIN line. Michele Simmons LEWIS, another genealogy friend, is my 11th cousin through my dad’s GREER line. Not all of my favorite genealogists have shown up on RootsTech and some have been no relationship at all. It’s been fun to find out though and I love this online tool.

This is certainly an exciting weekend. It’s been dampened a little by the fact that my computer has decided it no longer wants to live but I’m going tomorrow to get a new one so the adventure can continue! (By the way, I apologize if this post is unreadable or has lots of errors. I was fighting a dying computer that was randomly deleting entire paragraphs and other crazy things.) Over the remainder of the weekend I will likely begin looking up DNA matches to see if I can find any connections there. I hope you have a fun, exciting weekend. Do something for yourself!

Until next weekend,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Unusual Sources, Part 1

I LOVE unusual sources for family history! I love that moment when you find family history in a completely unexpected place – something that makes you want to do the happy dance and get online to tell all your geni friends what you just found and where so they can look up that resource too to see if they can hit a jackpot like you did. So to see that this was included as a theme for 2021’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks was a bonus for me. I’m going for gold and trying to post one unusual resource I’ve found for both my paternal and maternal families in part 1. In part 2, I will post unusual sources I’ve used for my husband’s paternal and maternal families. I love this topic so much I may do parts 3 and 4 where I post unusual sources for my grandsons’ parents who aren’t my biological children. Since I don’t have one specific family to introduce, I’ll just jump right in.

Dad’s family

It’s been difficult to determine which governmental record to pull out and show you for my Dad’s family. I really wanted to talk about my 3rd great grand uncle Theodore “Clay” LARKIN and the pardon he received in 1906 from the governor, but it would take some explanation to tell you why I used the Annual Report of the Attorney General to the Governor of the State of Ohio to write Clay’s story. I could tell you about my 2nd great grand uncle Willard “Red” Nelson DRAKE and show you the Ft. Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary inmate case file that was kept on Red. I could tell you about finding my Dad’s doctoral thesis paper online at a university library. I could even tell you about documents I used to help me unravel the occupational story of my 2nd great grandfather who worked for Tulsa Vitrified Brick and Tile Company in the old Greenwood section of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma or the documents crucial to fleshing out the story of my 3rd great grandfather who had a run-in with the short-lived Liberal Republican Party in 1870.

I could tell you all those things but instead, I’m going to tell you about some unusual records I found at the National Archives facility in Fort Worth, Texas. I was researching my great grandfather, Ralph LARKIN. Another researcher had posted a photo identification on Ancestry for Ralph and I wanted a copy of the identification plus the health records that went with it. I couldn’t get a response from the other researcher so I began to look around for who might hold records like that. I found out National Archives in Fort Worth held Bureau of Mine records for Oklahoma. That’s what prompted a trip to NARA in Fort Worth, Texas. You can read more about that trip here. I didn’t find the photo identification I wanted but I did find some other very unique records. One of those was a hand-drawn chart tracking medical checkups/conditions for various mine workers in the Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma area.

nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc 2
A hand-tabulated medical chart for a clinical study conducted by Dr. Frank V. MERIWETHER for Bureau of Mines’ Picher, Ottawa County, Oklahoma Clinic.
nara picher clinic ralph larkin doc
Close-up of Dr. MERIWETHER’s hand-tabulated chart showing entry for Ralph Larkin.

This one record was so unique and personal to my 2nd great-grandfather that it made the whole research portion of the trip worth going. Never underestimate the amount and type of information the government keeps on people. If you know how to find that information you will find some very unique and valuable records.

Bonus round for Dad’s family: While putting together this post, I learned that our John Bell Sr. was known for the suspicion that he was killed by the Bell Witch. Yes- THAT Bell witch. You can get a short synopsis of the Bell Witch legend at Wikipedia and then research it further from there. For whoever’s keeping count…that means I have witches/witch stories on both sides of my family!

Mom’s family

As with my Dad’s family, I could tell you about lots of unusual records I’ve found that tell me about my mom’s family history. School records hold a lot of data on a family with young children- families such as my grandparents’, Troy “Lum” and Jessie (RITER) BATES. Native American records hold a lot of valuable information you can’t find elsewhere and I treasure the records I’ve found for my 3rd great grandfather, Jefferson LATTY, and his mom Martha Frances “Fanny” (SCOTT) LATTY. I’ve even found the preacher’s license for my 3rd great-grandfather, Reverend Charles George SEELY, as well as receiving the church history records from the church he helped found and for which he was the first preacher. I’ve even found museum exhibits that gave me information about my REITER family history. I’m going to save all those records for another blog post because I want to tell you about one of the more interesting maps I’ve been able to use.

One resource that I’ve used from time to time are property maps. However, while recently searching for my mom’s family I found one that isn’t like any other property map I’ve found. It’s a “Settlement Map” for Franklin County, Virginia. Not only is it unusual, I was able to locate two lines of my mom’s family – the family of William TONEY (my 7th great-grandfather) and the family of Isaac BATES (my 6th great-grandfather). On the same map, I also located a line from my dad’s family – my 8th great-grandfather John GREER’s sons – along with a location named after my 7th great-grandfather Aquilla GREER)! Surprise!

Franklin County, Virginia Settlement Map

Encouragement

If you haven’t yet searched for maps online, I encourage you to look for them. There are so many interesting and unique maps online these days. Try searching for locations instead of people. One search term hint: try searching for a location plus the word map or a location plus a surname. Like this:

“Franklin County, Virginia” AND map

OR:

“Franklin County, Virginia” AND Toney

Using the quotation marks tells the search engine that every word inside the quotation marks must be found within a couple of words of each other instead of anywhere on the page in any combination. Adding the capitalized word ‘AND’ tells the computer that not only must it find the phrase in quotation marks, it must also find the other word on the same page. So for the first query, the search engine must find the phrase “Franklin County, Virginia” all together and your search results should only include pages that have that phrase PLUS the word ‘map’. Likewise on the second example except the word ‘Toney’ must be on the same page as “Franklin County, Virginia”. Learning to create better search terms helps you find information you would not otherwise find.

I’m wishing you all the best in your online searches this week! Try the examples above and see how it works for you. This will work on any search you do, not just genealogy searches. Try it out! If you find something wonderful- come back here and tell me about it!

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Valentines in the Catskills

The theme for week 6 is ‘valentine’. I vaguely remembered seeing the name Valentine when working on our family histories. It turns out my husband has a paternal 8th great-granduncle named Valentine Felter KELDER that will work perfectly for this week’s ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’ theme. My husband is related to Valentine through his paternal DEWITT line which is interesting because the DEWITT name unexpectedly (at least, unexpectedly for me) entered into Valentine’s story. The line of ascent is my husband’s great grandmother Lucille DEWITT WILLIAMS CULLOM to her father Milo, to Milo’s father Frances, to Frances’ father Richard, to Richard’s father John, to John’s father Peter, to Peter’s mother Maria KELLER DEWITT, to Maria’s father Jacob KELDER, and to Jacob’s parents Franz KELDER and Anna Barbara ADAM KELDER who are also the parents of Valentine Felter KELDER. Valentine apparently went by the name Felter, at least later in life. In this post though, I will refer to him as Valentine. His grandson who was his namesake also went by Felter and will be referenced later in the post.

Valentine Felter KELDER was born in 1720 in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York. Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York is located on the banks of the Hudson River. Dutchess County was only about 37 years old when Valentine was born there. Dutchess County was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York. (Wikipedia) Before being settled by the Dutch, this area of New York was home to the Native American Wappinger people – “an Eastern Algonquian-speaking tribe from New York and Connecticut”. (Wikipedia) The town of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York got it’s name both from Rhineland in Germany and also from a local man of influence named Wilhelmus BEEKMAN. Once the Dutch settled in the area, the next wave to inhabit the location were Germans from about 1715-1730. From 1730-1775 it was mostly New Englanders who settled in the area. The KELDER family were among the Germans who settled in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York but they were early immigrants, arriving in New York City in 1710. The KELDERs came from Germany- some say Hesse-Darmstadt and some say Darmstadt-Dieburg. I don’t know enough about German geography to say one way or the other nor do I have the documents to prove either argument. I do suspect though, based on the devotion of the family to the Dutch Reformed Church, that a few generations before Franz KELDER the family was probably living in the Netherlands. The surname KELDER is of Dutch origin and comes from the Middle Dutch word ‘kelder’ which means ‘cellar’. KELDER is considered an occupational surname stemming from the occupation of ‘keepers of the cellar’ or a ‘waiter in a cellar’, particularly in a wine cellar. KELLER (the surname of later generations of the family) is a related name to KELDER. (Ancestry)

Images from Wikipedia showing the exterior and interior of the Old Dutch Church.

How the KELDERs Ended Up in Rochester, Ulster County, New York

In 1731 Valentine’s father, Franz, was granted 300 acres of land by the trustees of Rochester, Ulster County, New York and the family moved there and established themselves. The land was located “northwest of the Kings Highway extending to the Marbletown line”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory. Marbletown is in Ulster County, New York.)

According to a variety of descriptions I found online, it appears that Franz KELDER’s 300 acres fell between the two black arrows. One description stated the property was bounded on one side by the Marbletown town line and on the other by the Rochester town line. All the property lies within Ulster County in New York and is at the edge of the Catskill Mountains.

Franz’s “homestead was located on Whitfield Road where the stone house on the Accord Speedway stands today”.

I believe this may be Franz KELDER’s stone house near Accord Speedway. There is another stone house nearby but it is slightly further from the speedway. Based on descriptions, I believe this one to be Franz KELDER’s home. Franz was Valentine and Jacob KELDER’s father.

According to the farmstead inventory, Franz also “operated a mill there”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory) We know this was a sawmill because the sawmill was given to Joseph KELDER (Franz’ grandson and Valentine’s son) in Valentine’s 1796 will. (See below.) Franz’ heirs inherited pieces of the property. The property now known as Arrowhead Farm became the property of Valentine and Christine KELDER. The property is now considered a Rochester “Historic Farmstead” and is part of the KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT Farm. The official Historic Farmstead Inventory describes the whole of the property (including Arrowhead Farm) as “a distinctive example of an 18th-century farmstead”. (Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory)

Valentine and Christine SCHMIDT KELDER

In 1741 in Ulster County, New York, Valentine married Christine SCHMIDT. Valentine and Christine had 9 known children together- 7 boys and 2 girls. Just as a side note, Valentine’s father-in-law was Valentine SCHMIDT. Valentine KELDER also had at least one grandson named after him. Generations of the KELDER/KELLER/KELLAR family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. My husband’s 8th great grandparents, Jacob and Barbara (HEIN) KELDER, along with Jacob’s brother Valentine and Valentine’s wife Christine, (and many other family members) were members of the Dutch Reformed Church in the various places they lived over the years in Ulster County, New York.

In 1796, Valentine wrote his will. It says he was in good health and of sound mind at the time so I’m not certain what prompted him to write the will other than for that time period, he was past what was considered an average lifespan. Wills are always interesting to look at in detail and I’d like to take a look at Valentine’s. In the research I’ve found, there is always a daughter listed as the first child of Valentine and Christine and her name was Mareitje. She isn’t mentioned in his will so perhaps she died prior to him passing away. I don’t know for sure since I haven’t found any information about her. It’s possible she wasn’t his child since in his will he refers to Joseph as his firstborn. As the recognized firstborn, Joseph received his father’s “fowling piece”. A fowling piece is a specific gun used for shooting birds and other small animals.

This is a fancy example of a fowling piece found at alamy.com.

Joseph also received the farm and woodland near Rochester, Ulster County, New York where he was then residing plus the house, barn, outhouses, sawmill, streams and “appurtenances” that went along with that property.

Many researchers list a son named Isaac that was supposedly the second-born son but he was not mentioned in Valentine’s will nor have I found information about him.

Valentine’s next child, Elizabeth KELDER CRISPELL received the bed and bedding that belonged to her deceased mother Christine plus 10 pounds of lawful New York currency.

The next of Valentine’s children was Petrus but he had already died a few years prior to Valentine. Valentine left his 2 daughters and Jenny (Petrus’ widow and the mother of his girls) a piece of land known as “Callepriest” (I’m not sure this is the name of it- the handwriting was very difficult to read). This was a piece of land Valentine had bought from Jacob DEWITT and consisted of 40 acres near Rochester, Ulster County, New York. The land was situated between Marbletown, Ulster County, New York and Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Petrus’ two daughters were also to receive one milk cow each to be procured by their uncles- Joseph and William- and delivered to the girls immediately upon Valentine’s death.

The next child was Johannes Smith KELDER. Valentine left his son Johannes a farm and the lot of land where Johannes was then residing near Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Johannes was named the administrator of Valentine’s will. Johannes’ son Hendrick was given Valentine’s “negro man farmer”. Valentine indicated that after his debts were paid and the funeral was paid for and after everyone received their property, whatever remained of Valentine’s estate was to go to Johannes.

Next in line was Valentine’s son William. The way Valentine spoke of William and what he was leaving to William leads me to believe that he didn’t expect William to live much longer and, in fact, William did die about the same time Valentine did (about 1810). Nonetheless prior to his passing, Valentine left William the right to go freely in and out of land given to Jenny and to Joseph and to bring his oxen, horses, hays (?), and wagons in and out to cut and carry away firewood and timber for Williams own use. To Williams’ sons, Felter KELDER, Jr. and Petrus KELDER, Valentine left the farm where their father William was then living and they would receive it as Tenants in Common. Legally, this meant that Felter, Jr. and Petrus owned the property together and both had equal rights to the property. Neither could claim sole ownership of any particular piece of the property and when one of them died, their portion was passed to the deceased’s estate and not to the remaining ‘tenant in common’. Additionally, each was free to give or sell their portion of the property to someone else. There are other intricacies to tenancy in common but that’s the basic premise. (Legal Dictionary)

Many researchers list two remaining children – Henricus and Abraham- as being children of Valentine but he doesn’t name them in his will and I’ve found no information about them.

Valentine Felter KELDER’s mark- “FK”- on his will.

The People Who Helped Build Ulster County, New York

KELDERs and DEWITTs were influential in Ulster County, New York, and their properties have been well-preserved overall. If you’re interested in the KELDER, RIDER, or DEWITT families or their allied families, I highly recommend looking at the Town of Rochester Historic Farmstead Inventory papers I’ve linked to in this blog post. They are a goldmine! The papers give not only a history of the property but a genealogy and history of some of the families. I’ll link them here so you can find them easily:

The Arrowhead Farm & Domino Farm properties contain Whitfield Cemetery and Kelder Cemetery where many KELDER-DEWITT family members are buried. Domino Farm is the last operating dairy farm in Rochester, Ulster County, New York. Sadly, none of the original, complete buildings exist on these two farms but there are remnants of an early Dutch barn that survive inside of what was the hay barn in 2010. Many of the late 1800’s buildings do still exist and some are still in use such as the wagon house, granary, and a second hay barn. One photograph attached to the Domino Farm inventory indicates there is one building on that property that may have been in existence when Valentine KELDER died. It’s #5- Barn I.

Buildings located on “Domino Farm” section of the KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT Farm. Photo from the farmstead inventory.

KELDER Barn I:

KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT Barn I. The original barn was built about 1810. Sections of the original 1810 barn exist within this newer barn. Photo from the farmstead inventory.
KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT Barn I, different angle – from farmstead inventory.

Diagram of original 1810 Barn I:

Diagram of original 1810 Barn I.

The only building on the Arrowhead Farm section of the property that was identified as being old enough to have been in existence when Valentine was alive is the stone homestead which was built around 1760. See photo below.

1760 stone homestead on the Arrowhead Farm section of the KELDER-RIDER-DEWITT property – photo from farmstead inventory.

There is so much more to be said about the KELDER family but I’ll leave it at this for now. I’ve got a “future trip wish list” already started for the Catskills. One day we’ll get there. I hope that you’re using your “pandemic time” in a way that gives you hope for the future- like planning a trip you’d like to take one day. Today I’m wishing you hope and a bright and beautiful future.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

In the Kitchen

This week’s theme for 52 Ancestors is “in the kitchen”. I thought I could come up with a lot of photographs of my female ancestors in the kitchen. That’s where women spent a lot of time, right? Not as easy as it sounds. I found one photo of my great grandma Edith in the kitchen. One. That’s it. How is this possible?! I’m not so young that I can’t remember “dish lines” at my grandparents’ homes. You know, a big family meal and then who cleans up? Women. One washes, one rinses, one dries, one puts away…you get the picture. I remember that and yet I have no kitchen photographs. (By the way, I originally thought that was Edith’s mom with her in the picture but now I’m not so sure. Can anyone help me identify who is with Edith here?)

I spent so much of my life looking forward to the dishwasher years- a time when the kitchen cleans itself, in part a least. But I never gave a thought to what would be given up for the dishwasher years. Female companionship and conversation. Advice, warnings, sympathy, cooperation, teamwork. Time spent together that turned people into friends and loved ones. We gave up a lot for the dishwasher years. We lost time dedicated to teaching our young daughters about life.

Having a picture of Edith when she’s smiling makes me happy. By the time she met me she wasn’t smiling as much. I miss her very much. I think I’ll write more about this photo and maybe this topic in the future but today I have other responsibilities to take care of. So for now, I leave you in the capable hands of my paternal great grandmother Edith Cleo (HUBBARD) DRAKE.

Edith Cleo HUBBARD DRAKE on the left.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

How My Path Crossed with Ray Keeter’s

Yesterday I received a call and a message on my work phone from a woman I’ve never met. Only, I didn’t know I’d received a call or a message. Yesterday was crazy busy at school and then I stayed after school to work concessions at the basketball homecoming game so I didn’t get home until maybe 9:00 or 9:30. This morning I didn’t go in to work because I had a doctor appointment. So about 12:30-ish this afternoon I stepped into my office for the first time in almost 24 hours. As soon as I entered my office, my phone started ringing. I picked up the phone and found myself speaking to Elizabeth. She introduced herself and explained that she was looking for the Lisa Williams who was related to Ray Keeter. I told her I didn’t recognize the name but maybe if she told me a little of her story I might recognize who she was talking about. It turns out I didn’t recognize the name but I was touched because Elizabeth had a painting that had come out of her father’s office and she felt it needed to be returned to the painter’s family so they could love, enjoy, and care for it. Well…you guys know me. I was hooked! I told her I would help her find the family if I could. So at the end of the day when things were calm I took a few minutes and found a family member of Ray Keeter- his granddaughter, Lisa. Lisa took care of Ray in his final years- much respect to her! I liked her already! So I called the number I found for Lisa, not knowing if it was really her number or maybe disconnected, etc. As it turned out it was Lisa’s number and she called back within just a few minutes. I explained to her that Elizabeth had called me but I wasn’t the right Lisa and I believed she was the right Lisa. She confirmed she was Ray’s granddaughter so I connected her with Elizabeth. It was momentarily satisfying and fun to be a part of that adventure and I love the thought of Ray’s painting being returned to his family. However, the storyteller in me could not stop thinking about this. So this evening I contacted both Lisa and Elizabeth again and asked if I could tell the story of Elizabeth’s dad and of Lisa’s grandfather Ray.

I’m looking forward to their responses and I’m hoping they agree. Just a sneak peek at Ray Keeter, painter. Ray’s final job was Superintendent at the Nuyaka School System southwest of Beggs, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma. If you know me well, you know my dad was a Superintendent for many years in Oklahoma. The connections don’t stop there but I haven’t heard from Lisa about whether she wants to tell her grandfather’s story so I’ll stop there. You wouldn’t believe how many of these kinds of connections I’ve found with Ray in just a couple of hours. In any case, I’ll close here. When you get the chance to do a good deed this week, do it. Helping others helps you.

Until next time,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog