Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day: it's deeper than you thought.

 St. Patrick's Day evokes a lot of cultural cliches - leprechauns, Kiss Me I'm Irish!, shamrocks, pots of gold, and those poor kids getting pinched at school because they didn't wear green. Oh, those poor, poor greenless children.

We all know that it celebrates St. Patrick (duh) and that it's been observed as a religious holiday in Ireland for over thousands of years. When the holiday came to America, commercialism had nothing to do with it. Quite the contrary: the first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in the streets of New York City by Irish soldiers serving in the British military in 1762. The parade was an expression of their Irish patriotism, something that made them feel closer to home. Their nostalgic celebration is positively endearing to a genealogical researcher like myself. 

A lot of people love to hate these kinds of holidays, citing them as Hallmark Holidays: commercial and devoid of any real meaning that once existed. Even though I agree that certain companies are dependent upon our enthusiasm to keep these holidays alive, we only have ourselves to blame! Frankly, there aren't enough nationwide celebrations! Thanks to our own festive nature, we have National Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day and Shark Week (or, the best week to watch Craig Ferguson.)

There's a holiday that never stuck out to me until this year: St. Patrick's Day. The Irish hardly care about this day at all, so why celebrate it? Because it's not an Irish holiday, per se: it's an American holiday. Our country has millions of descendants of Irish immigrants in our melting pot and St. Patrick's Day may be the one day a year that we pause to consider about our own nations of origin.

One of my coworkers has the opinion that Americans aren't necessarily Euro-UK-Asia-African-Oceanic "mutts". She said, even though we're not all cross-cultural mutts, we're all essentially Americans. I struggled with this thought at first, but then it made total sense. It's our diversity that makes us Americans! Our nation has a remarkable history, and perhaps as Americans we're actually citizens of Earth. This is something we should be proud of. Celebrating our diverse background should be a part of our individual patriotism.

For one day a year, even for a fleeting moment, we ponder our heritage and engage in the conversation of genealogy. We connect with each other subconsciously when we talk about heritage, Irish or not, and that's a uniquely American experience.

So lets have more conversations! Lets find more reasons to celebrate the cultures and the people that brought us here! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dickersons of Person County, NC

The General Store - November, 2009
Walter & Ombrice Dickerson with their two oldest of 14 children, Evelyn Dickerson (who later became Evelyn Dickerson Shotwell) and Roland Dickerson.

Henry & Eliza Dickerson

Eliza Snow Dickerson with her son, Walter Gray Dickerson and his two sons from his second marriage, Ted and Tim.

5 Generations! Top row: Evelyn Dickerson Shotwell, Bobby Shotwell (Evie Shotwell's son). Front row: Eliza Snow Dickerson, Walter Gray Dickerson, and little cutie Kimmie Shotwell, Bobby's daughter.

A 5 generation photo of the same group, plus Dewey Dickerson in the back, holding the guywire. From left to right: Evelyn Dickerson Shotwell, Walter Gray Dickerson, Eliza Snow Dickerson, Bobby Shotwell, and his little daughter, Kimmie.

Joseph A. Snow, or otherwise referred to as "Joe Snow", has one of my favorite names in mine & Brad's genealogy. Joe Snow. Isn't that great? That's an awesome name! When Margaret sent this photo to me, it got even better... That wise beard and knowing grin seems to say, "I'm getting the last laugh at you, Rae." Touche, Joe. Touche. I won't pick fights with people that can grow that kind of beard, Mr. Snow.

What a smile! I would LOVE to find the original film and see if there's any detail.

You know how some old black & white family photos can be both heartwarming and unsettling? This photo is such classic Southern Americana. A large family dressed in period clothing, children either mid-whine or smiling, sitting in front of a handmade, well-loved quilt. Both parents have had their share of sunshine in their cheeks. Top row, left to right: Berta May Dickerson (died at 17) and Walter Gray Dickerson. Bottom row, left to right: Lester Thomas Dickerson, Henry Davis Dickerson (the patriarch), Dewey Dickerson, Bettie Pearl Dickerson, Eliza Snow Dickerson, and Arch Bradsher Dickerson.
Click to see the full genealogy article.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eleanor Osborne Jewett - Heritage Photo Album

Eleanor Osborne Jewett Dwyer Buhl.
Staunch Democrat. Detroit Social Butterfly. Once referred to as a Great American Beauty
(by a newspaper!)

Here's the deal. My printer has decided it does not like to scan and in fact, it has ceased all scanning operations whatsoever. As I have a couple of priceless scrapbooks and photo albums on loan for my genealogy research, I decided these must be digitized! So I took photos. Of photos. Albums propped on pillows with a bedside light? Best way to do it if you gotta. If genealogy is as exciting to you as it is to me, you won't even notice the poor quality - you're used to it, eh? Poor excuse, I know...

They're not candids, they're portraits. Stunning portraits. This is one big long picture parade, guys. If you see two in a row of the same photo, it's because one is a larger or more detailed photo. Also, because Blogspot isn't err, terribly photo friendly, you will need to click on any given photo for its full effect.

Left to Right: Mary Wendell Jewett, Eleanor Osborne Jewett, Mary Williamson Visscher
Left to Right: Gertrude Osforne Jewett, Diane Dwyer, Eleanor Osborne Jewett, Harry Mulford Jewett. I simply adore seeing Harry Mulford Jewett, or "Hal" (we're pretty tight) in family photos and aged. Always exceedingly calm. His expression was difficult to capture because his eyes are an extremely light, placid, translucent blue. Eleanor seems to say, "take the photo while the baby is still, mister!"

An attempt to capture Harry Mulford Jewett. I don't think I noticed quite how substantial his ears were until now. It doesn't detract from his dapper yet familiar charm, though.

I understand this charmed maternal pose well. It's easy to get caught up in that little person that is your very life and soul. Mary Wendell Jewett, Eleanor Osborne Jewett. Gorgeous dress! Slightly creepy bangs on Eleanor. Tres Victorian!

Same photo, close-up.

Mary Wendell Jewett Bridal Portrait close-up. Do wedding gowns get more elegant and feminine than this?
Larger photo, a heavenly cloud of train wrapping around her like a divine pastry. A photo that could melt in your mouth or at least make you sigh. Let's see, how else can I tell you how much I love this portrait?
Eleanor Visscher Wendell. She knows what you're up to over there. And I think she disapproves. Shame, shame. No, I'm unfair! It could be that eyebrow, lifted in suspicion (which I inherited) but I think it's her choker that makes her look so intense.

John Henry Wendell, looking prophetically into the distance. I'm inclined to think this is his "golf clap" expression.

How does the quote from Swingers go? Oh, that's right. You're so money. Well lookatcha, H.M. Jewett with your cars and your foxhunting uniform. All he needs is a monacle and a proper moustache. A curly one. Like Moneybags from Monopoly (or whatever his name is.) If you've never seen Swingers, the movie, you probably think this caption is completely inappropriate and disrespectful. Quite the contrary! Watch Swingers. You'll see, mon ami. It's a compliment of the highest order.
Another shot of a photo above, Harry Mulford Jewett.
Gertrude Osforne Jewett. You just know that the Osborne in Eleanor Jewett's name is derivative of this, but why change the F to a B, I wonder? I don't quite know if I've ever seen a photo of an older woman wearing sheer lace sleeves before, but I like the warm grin and her understated Flapper style.
An aged Mary Wendell Jewett. It's settled: she is obviously the source of the Alton women's slow outward aging process. My mother has been mistaken for my sister, so I'm in a good class of genes here.

It doesn't feel right to exclude Eleanor's husband here. John Vincent Dwyer. I haven't included the Dwyer side in this post intentionally: that's for some other time. And I should also add, his forehead isn't really as large as it appears! It's just the angle at which I took the photo. Of his photo. That's my nose! That is my nose precisely!

And now for the Genealogy candy! Make sure you click on these photos - the text is very clear.
The Wendell - Jewett Genealogy written in Eleanor Osborne Jewett's hand.

Left side, same page, detail.Right side, same page, detail.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Coming Soon!

Be on the lookout for new posts coming soon:

-The Dickerson line from Person County, NC

-New photos of Harry Mulford Jewett

-A startling & random, yet awesome discovery about my Great Grandmother Eleanor Osborne Jewett Dwyer!

I also want to put together a list of questions that young people can ask their relatives to get the ball rolling. That's right - how to have more "good ole days" conversations! As if it's difficult!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Lunsford Family

I kept hitting dead end after dead end for Brad's grandmother's line... until last night! I knew it would just take a little time to find the root that leads back hundreds of years. I couldn't find the *end* of this line!

One of Brad's relatives is "Aunt Sister", Mamie Starkes Potter.* Using Google, I typed in her name. There was only a single match. And it happened to be
that one exciting puzzle piece that opened up the rich heritage of this line. Take a look at what I found:
"From Mrs. Mamie Starkes Potter, Lake Charles, Louisiana - My father, R.L. Starkes, of Lodge 156, Palestine, Texas, desires to express his sincere thanks to the General Secretary and Treasurer Phillips and to the entire Brotherhood for the payment of his insurance because of his having reached seventy ---. He-"

It's an excerpt from a periodical published by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen (volumes 92-93). Whoever owns the copy this was taken from didn't want the entire volumes to be published online, I suppose, but I'm glad that they allow relevant snippets.

Then I found out this, about R.L. Starkes, from the Library of Congress:
(Click to enbiggen)

From the Palestine Daily Herald, August 2, 1910. Aren't you encouraged to write more letters to the editor? This is the second one in Karen's line so far! It doesn't mention his family relations but I was able to find R.L. Starkes' genealogy from someone related to them! Here is the link:

R.L. Starkes & Sarah "Sallye" P. Lunsford, from the Curtis/Fitzgerald Family Tree Website.

You can keep on clicking on the fathers to get all the way back to a cannibal! But I'll get to that in just a minute. Mamie & Sally Starkes great grandfather, Rev. Uriah Williamson Lunsford, married a gal names Sarah Ansofee Funderburk. I guess Ansofee is meant to sound like "Anne-Sophie", probably. anyhow, here is a website with some really fascinating trivia about the Reverend and here's an excerpt about his wife:

The Lunsfords located about 2 1/2 miles from Brushy Creek. Sarah’s eyesight was impaired and, though totally blind, we are told that she knitted, sewed, spun, and oared for her children: four boys and five girls.

Onto the cannibal!
Sir Thomas Lunsford. "Knight, child-eater, and he who fears neither God nor man."
Of course he wasn't really a cannibal, but I'm sure there are nursury rhymes written about him:

"Because of his history of violence and the attacks on his character over the years, he and his troops, the Roundheads, were said to be cannibals and child-eaters, and Puritans taught their children to fear his very name. Although he was an excellent soldier and gentleman, he was painted as an ogre who “roasted babies and stewed sucklings.” -This paragraph is from a very interesting website all about Sir Thomas. (link)

From Wikipedia:

Sir Thomas Lunsford (c. 1611 – 1656) was a Royalist colonel in the English Civil War. Lunsford committed a murderous assault upon Sir Thomas Pelham in 1633 and was outlawed for failing to appear to receive judgment in 1637. He was pardoned in 1639 and joined Charles I's army. He was made lieutenant of the Tower in 1641. He was removed on petition from the Commons; knighted in 1641; made prisoner during the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 and released in 1644. He went to Virginia in 1649, where he died in 1656.

Random Trivia:
-there is a Sir Thomas Lunsford Drive in Williamsburg, Virginia. It's in a very nice suburban neighborhood - very "white picket fence" kind of place.
- Sir Thomas Pelham, whom he "murderously assaulted" was actually his cousin and neighbor.
- The Pelhams and the Lunsfords' dispute started when one of Pelham's dogs accidentally wandered onto Lunsford property. One of Lunsford's sons shot the dog.
- Aside from child-eater and suckling-roaster, he was also called a debauched creature, a swaggering ruffian, a "reckless, notorious swashbuckler", and a "man of decayed and desperate fortune". Are the British always so colorful with their abuse? (Answer: Yes. This is consistent with Henry Higgins and Simon Cowell.)
-There are distant relations to the Boleyn family
(patriarchs on left, matriarchs on right, direct descendents in bold)

Sallye Starkes & Mamie Starkes Potter, sisters
R.L. Starkes / Sarah "Sallie" P. Lunsford
Rev. Uriah Williamson Lunsford / Sarah Ansofee Funderburk
Peter Williamson Lunsford / Philitia Dicy Davis
Moses Lunsford / Mary Fox
Isaac Lunsford / Lucy Fauntleroy
Swanson Lunsford / Elizabeth Bassett
John Lunsford / Elizabeth Jenner
Sir Thomas Lunsford / Mary or Anne Hudson

UPDATE 2/1/2010: I've reached the end here - at the year 970 with the approximate birth of Ingram de Lundresford in Sussex, England.

Other sources:

Sir Thomas Lunsford Wikipedia Entry
Comprehensive Timeline of Sir Thomas, from Google
Southern Roots - A Great Reference
British Civil Wars, Commonwealth
Old Whyly
Sir Thomas Lunsford Regiment of Foote, a reenactment troupe
Rev. Uriah Williamson Lunsford & Sarah Ansofee Funderburk

*Here's a tip for other genealogists = using parenthesis on a google search will find only exact matches, which is important when you're dealing with proper nouns. For example, if you type in the name "Faser", Google will know to omit its matches for Fraser, Frasier, and faster.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Daniel Gooch's Will

I always find it somewhat entertaining whenever "Negroes" are part of an ancestral will. It's such a stark sign of the times, when a human being was considered the property of another. I've seen this on many a will while researching Brad's Person county (NC) side as well as researching my own. This is one of Brad's ancestor's, via the Buchanan line. After the will, look for the ancestral diagram (it's my own unique, simplistic design.)

In the name of God Amen.  I Daniel Gooch of the County of Granville and
State of North Carolina, Being weak in Body, but in perfect mind and
memory, thanks be to God do make and ordain this my last will and
testament, in manner an form following viz.

First of all, I recommend my soul to god, who first gave it and my body
to the Earth to be buried in Christian Burial at the discretion of my
Executor hereinafter named

As to my Worldly goods which god has blessed me with, I give and devise
in the following manner.

1st I will that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid

2nd I will to my daughter Hannah Gooch and to my Daughter Nancy Gooch,
one hundred acres of land out of the tract whereon I now reside
including my Dwelling house Kitchen and other Houses. Beginning at the
place on the River called the Cat Hole, thence to the Gate near the
apple orchard thence to run beyond the using Spring so as to take in
thence to corner in the Field opposite to the fence below the North
Gate from the house thence e along said fence through the woods so as
to mark the compliment to Lemuel Goodwin line, thence along Goodwin’s
line to the River and thence down the River to he Beginning. Also I
will to them one yoke of oxen and one cart. But in case the should
marry or die the land to be equally divided amongst my children namely
my son Samuel Gooch, Joseph Gooch, James Gooch, Thomas Gooch, Jane
Clements, William Gooch Hannah Gooch, Amos Gooch, Dudley S. Gooch,
Daniel T. Gooch, Nancy Gooch to them their heirs administrators &c

and to my daughter Rachel Howard wife of Thomas Howard, the part or lot
of said land which may fall to her, the same to be the sole right of
the said Rachael Howard, during her Natural life and at her death the
said lot which may fall to her to be equally divided amongst the
children of the said Rachel Howard then living and the legal
representative of such as may have died each child of said Rachel to
have one share, but the lot of land or her part, in no wise to be
subject to the debts or incumberances of said Thomas Howard but to be
and remain the sole and undivided property of the said Rachel and her
children as aforesaid. Also at their death or marriage the yoke of
oxen and cart to be sold and the money arising from such sale to be
equally divided among my children in the same way and to the same as
herein expressed.

3rd I will that the balance of my lands and all my negroes o be
valued and lotted into twelve lots each, equally divided amongst my
children namely my son Samuel Gooch, Joseph Gooch, James Gooch, Thomas
Gooch, Jane Clements, William Gooch Hannah Gooch, Amos Gooch, Dudley S.
Gooch, Daniel T. Gooch, Nancy Gooch to them their heirs administrators &c

4th I will that all my household and kitchen furniture and stock of all
kind, farming utensils and property of all kind to be sold on twelve
month credit and the money arising from such sale to be equally divide
amongst my children as above named and below expressed

5th I will to my daughter Rachael Howard wife of Thomas Howard one
twelfth part of the balance of my lands and negroes the Lots which she
may draw or fall to her also one twelfth part of the money arising from
the sale of my stock and other property. The lot of land and the lot
of negroes and the increase of said lot of negroes if any and the
twelfth part of the money arising from such sale of property the same
to be the sole right of the said Rachael Howard during her natural
life and at her death the said lot of land and lot of negroes and the
increase of said negroes if any and the money as above mentioned to be
equally divided amongst the children of the said Rachel Howard then
living and the legal representatives of such as may have died each
child of said Rachael to have one share but the lot of land and he lot
of negros their increase if any and money in no wise to be subject to
the debts or incumbrances of said Thomas Howard but to be and remain
the sole and individual property of the said Rachel and her children as

6th I will to by daughter Hannah Gooch one hundred dollars in cash to
be paid out of my estate by my executors and one horse her choice out
of my stock of horses.

7th I will to my daughter Nancy Gooch one hundred dollars in cash to be
paid out of my estate by my executors and one horse her choice of my
stock of horses

Lastly I nominate constitute and appoint my sons Joseph Gooch, James
Gooch, William Gooch, Amos Gooch, Dudley S. Gooch and Daniel T. Gooch
executors to this my last will and testament. . In witness whereof I
have hereunto set my hand and seal the 23rd day of September AD 1837

Daniel Gooch (his mark) (seal)

Signed in presence of
Jas. A. Russell
Joseph House
Samuel Rogers

State of North Carolina
Granville county
November Court AD 1837
The execution of the last will and testament of Daniel Gooch decd. Was
duly proven an oath in open court by Joseph House and Samuel Rodgers
two of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded at
eh same time came forward James Gooch and Amos Gooch named as Executors
in said will and duly qualified as such Witness James M. Wiggins clk.

Ancestral Diagram (patriarchs on left, matriarchs on right, direct descendant in bold)

Halle S. Dickerson
David Bradford Dickerson / Rachel Alton
David Dickerson / Karen Faser
Charles Dewey Dickerson / Ruth Chandler
Dewey Dickerson / Bessie Ola Buchanan
Grover Cleveland Buchanan / Gertie Mae Young
John Buchanan / Fluvanah Rachel Slaughter
Jacob Glover Slaughter / Elizabeth Parham Howard
Thomas Howard / Rachael Gooch
Daniel Gooch / Nancy Sneed

N.B. Critchfield

Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, Today.

My great-great-great Grandfather (should all of those g's be capitalized?) on my Mom's side is N.B. Critchfield, a G.O.P. elephant of many colors. He was born July 20, 1838. Here is a list of his titles:

-Baptist Reverend at Turkeyfoot Baptist Church (and others)
-Trustee of the Western Pennsylvania Classical & Scientific Institute at Mt. Pleasant*
-Unofficial yet devoted Historian of Mount Pleasant, PA
-Public School Principal
-Public School Superintendent
-Secretary of Agriculture, Pennsylvania
-Senator, 36th district, Pennsylvania
-Superintendent and Chaplain with the US Christian Commission during the Civil War

The Institute / 'Westmoreland College'
From a School pamphlet dated 1895
Matthew Critchfield points to the Critchfield name.
Photograph by K. R. Overholt Critchfield, c. 6-20-1999

The "Critchfield Bell" (and I'm assuming this - and I'll tell you why) was the school bell at the Western Pennsylvania Classical and Scientific Institute. The inscription on the bell reads:

Cast by A. Fulton and son, Co.
Pittsburgh, PA A.D. 1877
Western Penna. Classical and Scientific Institute
Mount Pleasant, PA
Cast in 1842 - recast in 1877
Ordered by N.B. Critchfield, Treas
August, 1877

The school is no longer in operation after merging with Bucknell University at Lewisburg, however, says Rodney Sturtz, previous director of West Overton Museum, the bell's adopted home "The Western PA Classical and Scientific Institute was the school H. C. Frick went to -- to study business, writing and 'arts.' It was a major 'college' in its day; very exclusive."

N.B. Critchfield is mentioned in an annual report of the United States Christian Commission. I'm sure it's worth mentioning, although I'm not quite sure what these stations were quite designed for ... I'll have to update this one soon...
Probably none of these gentlemen are my ancestor, but we can pretend. This photo was taken at a Field station of the Christian Commission during the Civil War.

Field stations and work in the army of the Cumberland for 1864 Bridgeport Alabama: This station, mentioned in the last resort as a set up and superintended by Rev. R.D. Douglass, was last in the charge of Rev. N.B. Critchfield, - when Mr. Douglass, following the 11th Corps, went to Lookout Valley. Our usual station work of hospital distribution, chapel services, reading and writing room, was very satisfactorily continued here. On the assignment of Mr. Critchfield to active work at the front, where he was afterwards appointed chaplain of 28th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Sergeant Clough, a disable Ohio soldier, was detailed to our service, and was placed in charge of the station.

Also of note was his involvement with the case of the Umberger tragedy, the murder of a friend of his. It's far too much to copy & paste.

Notably, N.B. was a speaker at The Delegations of Farmers and Old Soldiers, a tribute to veterans of the Civil War on September 15, 1896. The guest of honor was Major William McKinley, who spoke about economics, our nation's debt of gratitude toward veterans, and patriotism. After the event, Major McKinley was a shoo-in for Republican voters. He became the 25th President of the United States the next year.

McKinley Election Poster

Reverend N.B. Critchfield served his community through the ministry of Turkeyfoot Baptist Church, also known as Jersey Baptist. It's an adorable wee little chapel. This humble place was the first church in Somerset county and the oldest baptist church west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was dedicated in 1775, just one year prior to America's Independence.

Turkeyfoot/ Jersey Baptist Church

Oddly enough, the burial place of this prominent face in Pennsylvania history is unknown.

Patrick Wallner's Facebook Genealogical Accounts via "Bird" Critchfield
United States Christian Commission: Fourth Annual Report, January 1, 1866 Supplementary Report, page 207-207
McKinley Speaks Twice! New York Times Article
History of Mount Pleasant PA
The Umberger Tragedy
The Critchfield Bell

*The institute is located in Westmorland County USA, named for a British county in which several of my ancestors were Dukes & Duchesses. It's a little coincidence but I love those 'Aha!' moments when things seem to come full circle.