Friday, February 21, 2014

Breck Watkins

Breck Watkins is my Great Grandfather who was born July 8, 1879 in Kentucky.  Have not found him in the 1900 census though I have a note that in that census he was doing Public Work in a Sawmill.  (Need to find out where I obtained that information.)  He would have been eleven years old and he was not listed with parents or within close range-I've checked all pages in that precinct.  In the 1940 Census, he reported that he went to the 8th grade in school.  Primary occupation through the records is farming.

In 1909 he married Mollie Jett and in 1910 they were living next door to his parents, Sherman and Millie Watkins.    On June 5, 1917, he completed the WWI Registration form and indicated that he was then living in Oakdale, Breathitt County, Kentucky with his wife and children.  Occupation was farming.

Their first child was named Gordon and he died young-not sure of year.  Per my Grandmother, he was the first born.  Then Golden was born  in 1912 and Grandma (Lillian) in 1914.   Both are in the 1920 Census.  They were still living close to Brecks parents. There were no more children til Breck, Jr. who was born in 1924.  So, by 1930, Breck and Mollie had lost one son and had three living children.

Based on what I've researched so far, he appeared to lead a normal life.  Then on July 19th in the year of  1944, his body was found on the railroad tracks- his head was mashed and his body severed. Delayed Death Certificate indicates that it was ruled an accident.  Rumors included murder and/or drunkenness.  At this point, I am interested in seeing what the newspapers had to say.  Haven't found any yet, but that is on my To Do List.....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Illegitimate Great Great Grandfather was raised by an Angel!

Today's tale involves my Great Great Grandfather-Sherman Watkins.  Sherman was the son of Emily Watkins and ?  He was born December 5, 1866.  He married Mildred Herrald and had 12 children with her-including my Great Grandfather.  He actually married 4 times so far-who knows, there may be more.  Had a few more children; total I have is 15-there is one set of twins.  But who was his father?

 In researching Sherman, I was not having much luck finding his father.  Fortunately, my Grandma was still alive when I was doing this research-plus this was prior to the computer age we have now.  So, to Grandma I went.  Now, you must understand that Grandma Spencer was the epitome of a sweet, Christian Woman.  She did not cuss-well, let me clarify this a bit.  Out of the blue, I would hear 'Sht' come out of her mouth.  Now, my first thought was, "God Bless you Grandma"- because she sneezed.  Or so I thought.....as I later learned, I do believe that was her curse word......but she 'daintified' it by leaving out the 'i'.  Anyway, when I asked her about Sherman, she got this little self-conscious, ashamed-yet excited look.  So, I knew something was up!  You have to understand that gossip was big during this time.  I blame it on the phones-8 to 10 party lines provides entertainment when televisions only provide two to three channels-on a good day.  So, Grandma was kind of excited to have something to share, yet her Christianity caused some guilt, but the gossip won-after all we were talking family, and so she spilled the beans .

My Great Great Grandfather was illegitimate!  Once that sunk in, I asked who the father was.  The answer was, that no one was really sure but the story went like this.  Emily Watkins, Sherman's mother, worked for the Crawford Family, a well to do family (-to whom I am also related-legitimately:)  Well, somehow or other, she got pregnant, (not sure how that happened as folks just didn't do those kind of things back then.  HA!) Apparently, marriage was not an option because the story is that the Crawfords gave her $300 and put her on a train to Magoffin county.  Believe she had some kinfolk there. She had Sherman there and, then at some point, came back to Breathitt County.

So, where does the Angel come in?  Well, when Emily and Sherman came back to Breathitt County, she soon married and raised Sherman with her new husband-Levi Angel.  So, you see, Sherman, while illegitimate, was raised by an Angel:)

Now, is there anything to support this?  The Crawford Family were prominent in Breathitt County and did live close to the Watkins.  In the 1880 Census, when Sherman was 14, he was living with Calloway Crawford.  Sherman named his son, Breck and living close was Breck Crawford.  Determining which Crawford may be a bit challenging as I am also related legitimately to the Crawfords as well.  DNA may help-and does indicate Crawford connections....but haven't found the specific Daddy yet.  Either way, he was raised by an Angel:)

To date, I am still looking for Sherman's Death Certificate.  And, until recently I was not sure of his death date.  But then, my ADGD kicked in!  (There are some advantages to having ADGD:)  I was at the Kentucky History Center one day and was skimming through the Breathitt County Genealogical Society's publications, The Record.  These publications have been out for several years now.  Since I'm related to a significant percentage of the Breathitt County population, I will skim through them to check on different family names.  So, one day I was just flipping through the pages when something caught my eye.  I was looking at 'Extracts from diary of Sam B. Watts, Baptist Minister, Breathitt County Kentucky' and there it was!  He had noted that Sherman Watkins passed away on Monday, 27 April 1936.   Nearly fell out of my chair!  Now I have a date!  Still looking for the elusive Death Certificate-but I do have a date!

See how much fun researching can be?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hyrcannous Jett or is it Harkanus?.........52 Weeks, #3

     Hyrcannous Jett is my 3rd Great Grandfather.   He was born January 2, 1838 in the area that became Breathitt County, Kentucky.  He is the son of Newton Jett and Elizabeth Cloud Jett.  In the 1850 Census, Hercann was 12 years old and living with parents in Breathitt County, KY.  At the age of 18, on the 15th of February in 1856, he married Carolina McQuinn in Breathitt County.   They set up their home on land in Jett's Creek.  On the 8th of August 1864, Harcanus enlisted in the Confederate Army.  He served in Company B of the Three Forks Battalion.  He mustered in on the 17th of August in Booneville, Ky.  He served 6 months and mustered out on the 17th of July 1865 in Estill County, KY.   The Civil War Pension Index lists his name as Hyrcaunus.  In the 1870 Census, Harkanes was listed as a Farmer, had annual income of $3000 and still lived in Jetts Creek in Breathitt County, KY.  Breathitt County Court records indicate that Hyrcannous C. Jett was appointment Postmaster for Jetts Creek.  This was the 15th of July 1872.  The 1890 Veterans Schedule lists Arkanes Jett as having served 11 months and 13 days.  In the 1900 Breathitt County Census, Arkansas Jett is Crawford Precinct (formerly Jett's Creek).  Harkanis died 25 January, 1916.
     This is a brief overview of his life.  Why do I bring him up?  Well, even with all of these records, I still have no clue as to the 'correct/intended' spelling of his first name.  When I first started doing research, the internet was not yet the asset it is today.  Needless to say, finding him in the records was a challenge as a result of all the variations of his name.  One of my biggest breakthroughs came with Fold3, back when it was Footnote. With the filmstrip feature on this site, I was able to pull his Civil War records with all the various names. Needless to say, it was not spelled the same way twice.  But I had some additional variations to add to search list.
     For some unknown reason, Hyrannous' father, Newton, chose to give his children names that did not follow the trend.  Hyrcannous is the most unique; his siblings names ranged from Pocohontis and Tymandra to Nancy and Rachel.  Maybe they decided to slide away from the trend of  Stephen, John, Curtis, William...  Is it easier to locate our ancestors if they continue 'family' names or start a new trend?
    Based on the research I have done thus far, either way presents its own challenge, as I will share in another post on Curtis Jett.  So, stay tuned.....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elizabeth 'Betsy' Cloud Jett - Cherokee?

    Elizabeth 'Betsy' Cloud Jett is my 4th great Grandmother.  She married Newton Jett and estimated birth year is 1811.  Stories handed down indicate that she was at least 1/2 Cherokee.  I do not have any documentation to verify this at this time.  Parents are a question mark.  While I have been researching off and on for years, somehow the female lines have been overlooked-not intentionally but they are a tad more challenging.  Now that I'm getting more time, I hope, to tackle some of the bigger challenges, maybe I can solve this mystery.....or find someone who has solved it:)
    At this point, the information I have on her focuses on the census records.  She is listed in the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880.  3 of the four census records indicated birthplace as North Carolina.  The 1880 census lists it as South Carolina.  In the 1880 census she was living with her daughter, so this may be an error but needs to be considered.  That's it.  Well, she is mentioned in deeds but there is nothing related to parents, yet.
    Nothing in the above census records indicates a Cherokee connection.  Family lore seems to be the primary source.  In looking on Ancestry.com, I did come across some family trees that had notes indicating that a friend of a cousin had proven the connection.  There was no documentation for this, they seemed to be taking that note as fact.  While that would be nice, that doesn't make it so.  I contacted the one that seemed to provide the note.  She responded indicating that she did not have any documentation, but she would try to get in touch with cousin to see if we could get some.  It has been several months and I'm still waiting-who knows it may pop up:)
     A couple of months ago, I attended a workshop on Native Americans.  Anita Finger-Smith was the speaker and she was amazing!  Her husband is Cherokee and she works with the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina.  After the workshop, I contacted her and sent the information I had.  I included the note from the Ancestry family tree which did give a parent name of Nathney Lnu.
     A couple of weeks ago (my how time flies) I did receive a response from Ms. Finger-Smith.  Unfortunately she was not able to find any Clouds or Natheny/Nathney LNU's in the records-she checked both  East and West Cherokee Nations.  All she found was an application for a Hannah Jett who applied for recognition as a Cherokee.  She was applying on her maiden name as she indicated that her husband had no connection.  The application was rejected as there was no proof.
     So, I'm still with Betsy Jett born approximately 1811, parents unknown.  Am I done?  No.  Still lots of areas to explore.  Whether she is Cherokee or not I still need to find out what I can about her.
    One of the reasons I like the 52 week Challenge, is that it gives me a chance to review what information I have, see what I need and possibly where to look.  In this case not much, so there is a lot of work to be done.
    With my ADGD, I decided to check Ancestry again.  This time, I found a family tree which lists her parents as Absolum  Angel and Marthena Natheny Angel.   While there is no documentation stating what I want to see-proof of parents, there is something that makes it  interesting and gives me some hope. According to this tree, Betsy has a brother named Levi Angel.  Why is that interesting you ask?  Well, there is another family story that involves Levi.  The whole story is for another post, but the short version is my 2nd Great Grandfather was illegitimate and his mother, Emily Watkins, married a Levi Angel who raised my 2nd Great Grandfather!  So, as I share with folks, my illegitimate 2nd Great Grandfather was raised by an Angel:)
And the plot thickens......
     So, now I have another road to explore and, of course, there will be more to come as I explore this line in more detail.

Happy Hunting!


Friday, January 10, 2014

William Colston - Birth Year- 1875 or 1881...That is the question.....

     William is my husbands grandfather.  Per initial information, from husband, his grandfather died when a barn fell on him.  Tombstone states DOB as 12 January 1881.  Newspaper article and obit indicate he was 56 when he died on July 26, 1937.  Information on Death Certificate was provided by daughter and stated DOB as 12 January 1881.

     So far, I've not found a record of birth.  In looking at Census records, he was 51 in 1930, 42 in 1920, 30 in 1910, 22 in 1900; nothing for 1890 AND 4 in 1880 census.  RED FLAG-If he was born in 1881-how could he be 4 years old in 1880 census?   All surrounding information such as parents, wife, siblings and children match.  So no question of having wrong census records.

     In looking at the evidence:

1875                                                                                  1881
1880 Census                                                                    Newspaper Article
1900 Census                                                                    Obituary
1910 Census                                                                    Death Certificate
1920 Census                                                                    Tombstone
1930 Census                                                                    Find-a-Grave
WWI Draft Registration

    I'm very guilty of gathering information and then gathering more before processing it.  So, while gathering the information, that red flag kept popping up with the discrepancy in birth year.  Finally, I decided to tackle it once and for all (well ok at least til I find more information:)  Spreadsheets are really good for things like this.  I have my 'workbook' where I add the individual's data and create a timeline.  Not only does this point out things to consider in the timeline, it also gives me a chance to really look at the information.  When I plugged the above information in-it hit me that all the 1881 information seems to have come from later sources-further away from the actual event and not provided by the individual (William).  Census records were closer to event time-plus, if he was in the 1880 census as 4 years old either I had the wrong person or year of birth was wrong.  Luckily, the WWI Draft Registration was available and had been completed by the individual.  His DOB was listed as 1875.  Conclusion is that the preponderance of the evidence points to 1875 as birth year and later information (DC, Obit, Tombstone) are in error.

TAKE AWAYS:

*Spreadsheets are invaluable in outlining information, creating timelines as well as identifying gaps/discrepancies

*Analyzing each piece of information is important in defining value of that information.

*Sometimes it helps to stop gathering and start processing so you can make progress:)

*Double check everything-especially if your gut is acting up.  Guts have a way of alerting us to things we might not otherwise pay attention to:)  Just because something is recent, it doesn't mean it is always accurate.  We all make errors, and those that know me, know I made a lot of them!

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

James Riley Aldridge

James Riley Aldridge was born about 1830, census records indicate he was born in Kentucky.  Have not had any luck finding his parents as of yet.  He does show up in the 1860, 1870, 1880 Census, in Franklin County, KY;   His occupations were Mill Hand, Laborer and then farmer in 1880 census.  Haven't been able to find a death certificate.  After fiddling with this line for a few years, my husband, bless his heart, finally shared a story.  According to family legend, he was coming home with the tobacco money, was knocked in the head and thrown into the river.  Not had any luck so far finding a death record.  I have checked tax records available and he shows up in Franklin County through 1884.  In 1885 only his son George shows up.  They rented, so no land records.  I still have newspapers to check, court records (for possible death declaration etc) if that is the case.  Do have marriage information-but nothing really helpful.  So, I'm considering this a Brick wall at this point.

If I do have any success....will post.

P.S. It does help to proof read or I'd have a really, really old in-law:)

52 weeks + 52+ Ancestors = lots of blogs

Well, I started a blog in 2013 and then it kind of slipped-especially when Google was making all their changes.  Holidays are over, tis now 2014.  No excuses.  So, I'm going to pick up the challenge of at least 52 Blogs this year.

So, my next blog, which should follow this one, will focus on an Ancestor.  Genealogy blogger, Amy Johnson Crow, has initiated the challenge and I'm forwarding it on.  Her blog link is http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/posts/challenge-52-ancestors-in-52 weeks.  Who else is in on this challenge?