Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Connections in American History

Genealogy is a time-consuming opportunity to view history from a perch not exploited in high-school and university courses. Over the years that I've been digging into the past of my own and other families, I've found story after story that would never have been important enough to be included in those dreary texts we all experienced in US History classes, and yet were fascinating in their own way.

My mother's family has long known their connection to the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Around 1637 when he was about 40, the patriarch of the Towne family in the New World came to these shores with a family consisting of three girls ranging in age from three to seventeen, and three boys, six to thirteen. Over the next fifty years or so, those children built their homes, lives and families in eastern Massachusetts. The middle son, Edmund Towne, was my 6th great-grandfather. In 1692, three of the sisters were charged with witchcraft in Salem. Two, Rebecca and Mary were charged, convicted and executed. A third, Sarah, who was born in Massachusetts after the family arrived on these shores, was charged, but never convicted, and after a time in jail, was released and given a bit of money for her troubles. A motion picture named Three Sovereigns for Sarah was made of her story, with my sixth great aunt, Sarah Towne Cloyce, played by Vanessa Redgrave.

My mother dug and dug through her family history, hoping to find someone who had participated in the American Revolution so that my sister would be eligible to join the DAR. She never came up with one, and I suspect my sister was relieved.

In researching my Dad's family history, I found an ancestor, one Josiah Rawson, in my paternal grandmother's lineage who fought in the Revolution, so I told my sister she would be eligible if she wanted. She wasn't interested, verifying my suspicions.

When you dig into family history, you sometimes get on a roll, and that happened to me. Mr Rawson's lineage is pretty well documented and within a few more days, I determined that not only was I eligible to become a Son of the Revolution,  I was eligible to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society because of two ancestors. Rawson's wife was the second great granddaughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens Alden.  Many of us had to read Longfellow's "The Courtship of Miles Standish" in high school in which John Alden was prompted to suggest Priscilla marry Miles and her response included, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"

Now I'll get to the point I started to make originally. John and Priscilla Alden's son John became a well-known sea captain and businessman. Because of a rather convoluted series of circumstances, he was charged with witchcraft in Salem, but later exonerated, primarily because nobody would speak against him.

So, in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, my 8th great uncle on my father's side had the opportunity to meet three of my 6th great aunts on my mother's side in one of the low points in American justice.  I'd like to think they did.  I also am glad that Priscilla was more interested in John Alden than Miles Standish.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

James Victor Andrew

James Victor Andrew
April 28, 1839 - April 17, 1907

James Andrew was born on April 28, 1839 in Elbert County, Georgia to Burley and Catherine Stinchcomb Andrew, and died April  17, 1907 in Statham, Jackson County, GA just 11 days shy of his 68th birthday.

In 1860, James, age 21,  lived in Elberton, Elbert County, Georgia, with his parents, Burley and C (Catherine) Andrew, and a sister, F. Andrew, age 18. James is identified as a mechanic.

On October 26 1860, he married  Lucy Jane Burton who had probably been born about 1838 in Elbert County, Georgia, to Peter W. and Pulutha J. Gaulding Burton.  On May 12, 1862, they gave birth to daughter Saphronia J. Andrew who only lived until July 9, 1864.  On Jun 21, 1868, Lucy died.

On September 20, 1868, James married Susan A. Glenn in Oconee County, Georgia., who had been born on  May 4 1837.

In 1870,  James V. Andrews 32, Susan 32, Frank 13, Cora 9, Mary 4, were enumerated in Oglethorpe County, Georgia where James ran a grist mill.  Frank, Cora and Mary were born before their James and Susan were married, most likely the latter two were children of James' first wife, Lucy, but where does Frank fall in?  

In 1880, James V. and Susan A. Andrews lived in District 237, Oglethorpe County, Georgia, with children Cora F. 19, Mary C. 14, Thomas J. 12, Mattie C. 8, Addie L. 6, Minnie M 4,  James L. 2, and an M.F. Glenn 23.   Whether M. F. Glenn is a son of Susan from a former marriage, a much younger brother, or a more distant relative, I have yet to be able to determine, but I'll go so far as to guess that he may have been the Frank who was counted as part of the family ten years earlier.    James was identified as a miller and a farmer.  Susan died Jun 16, 1902 at the age of 65.

In 1900, James V. and Susan F. Andrew lived in Glade, Oglethorpe County, Georgia with children Cora F., age 40, Addie L., 25, and William H. Andrew, 10 years.  James was identified as a farmer.

On June 16, 1902, Susan Andrew died and was buried in Glade United Methodist Cemetery, Point Peter, Oglethorpe Count, Georgia

On January 18, 1904, James married Mattie Durden.

On February 21, 1905, James and Mattie's son Andrew died  and was buried in Statham Cemetery, Statham, Barrow County, Georgia.  Mattie died three days later on February 24, 1905 and is also buried in Statham Cemetery.

At some point, probably circa 1906, James married Sarah Pearlee Darby, the daughter of  Julius and Nancy Hamilton Darby, and the widow of  George Lumpkin Hardman.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Col Theilan

A friend in Tennessee made an off-the-cuff comment about a Garfield cheese that sent me into a tangential thought process in which I allow one thought to morph into a series of seemingly disconnected thoughts. Here's where my mind went this morning.

1908 - 18 December, Bernard Thielan was born in North Dakota to Michael Henry Thielan and Janette Thielan

1910 - they lived in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota

1915 - they lived in Clinton, Iowa and said they were Catholic. Michael said that his father was born in Germany and his mother was born in Iowa.. Janette said that both of her parents were born in Ireland

1920 - they lived in Clinton, Iowa

1921 - Bernard Thielan was an altar boy at his church

1930 - Bernard was a cadet at West Point

1932 - Cadet Thielan graduated from West Point and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army

1940 - Lieutenant Bernard Thielan and his wife Mary Sandro Thielan were stationed back at West Point after a tour of duty in Hawaii. Their annual income was $2,416.00.

1945 - 8 September, Col Bernard Thielan, flew from Japan to Washington DC and hand-carried and delivered the signed Japanese surrender documents to President Truman.

1945 - 15 December, LtCol Thielan testified before Congress as a witness to events prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor

1948 - LtCol Bernard Thielan and another officer, both from the US Legation in Budapest, Hungary, were arrested by the Soviet Army and held incommunicado for two days until they were seen by a US Military Police Officer who immediately and successfully demanded their release.

1949 - Dec 1, Bernard Thielan  who gave his address as 2841 Beechwood Circle, Arlington, Virginia, flew from London to New Your City via Pan American Airlines flight 101/30. The neighborhood where he lived is today a very sought-after address with some homes selling in the millions.

1951 - 17 January, Bernard sent a telegram to Rev Martin Thielan (probably his brother Henry Martin Thielan) telling that he'd been promoted to Colonel, that he was leaving immediately for SHAPE Hq in Paris, and that Mary was staying behind. 

1953 - 24 April, Bernard is the Commander of AROTC at Princeton University

1954 - Bernard and Mary lived in Princeton, NJ, where he served as the Chairman of the Princeton University Department of Military Science

1957-1958 - Bernard and Mary bought land in Meriden, NH and built a brick house with a hipped roof, ostensibly as their retirement home.

1958 - Bernard authored a mystery novel, “Open Season.”

1959 - Bernard released his second novel, “A Charm of Finches,” in which the protagonist is a retired naval officer with an interest in birds who gets caught up in a spy thriller. In one part of the story, he gets involved in a car chase driving a sports car.

1959 or 1960 - Bernard purchased a Sunbeam Alpine Tiger, a British sports car that had been upgraded ALA Carrol Shelby with a 260 cubic inch Ford V-8, thus endearing himself to this sports car-loving teenager. He once told me that the car was fun, but too torquey for many NH back roads, causing him to spin out on some curves. To my knowledge, he never did crash it.

Late 1950's or very early 1960's - Bernard became the General Manager for the Meriden Bird Club.

1960-61 - Bernard was one of the Supervisors of the Checklist for the town of Plainfield

At some point between 1961 and 1967, Bernard and Mary moved from Meriden, most likely back to the midwest where they were both born and where Bernard was to die relatively young. I suspect that they may have experienced a closed-in feeling in New Hampshire where the woods come right up to the edge of the roads and a vista of more than a half mile is considered rare.  I lived in the midwest for a number of years and always felt a bit hemmed in when I'd visit family in Meriden, NH.

In 1967, 1 October, Bernard passed away in Harlan, Shelby County, Iowa and was buried in the cemetery at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY

On 2000, 5 August, Mary died in Floyd, Floyd County, Virginia and was buried with her husband at West Point.

Now I suppose you are asking how in the world did an expatriot Yankee down in Georgia take the mention of smoked cheese and turn it into a treatise on an Army officer who once lived in Meriden, NH. That brick house with a hipped roof that Bernard and Mary built in Meriden in the 1950's now belongs to one of the Taylor brothers where he and his wife, maiden name Garfield, make fine smoked cheeses.

One more diversion - I grew up with the Taylor brothers, Steve and David, and knew their father well.  But the Taylor Brothers of Meriden who make maple syrup and cheeses and not those two, but rather Steve's sons.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What a Find

As I dig into the genealogy of folks interred in the Statham City Cemetery, I am constantly coming up with little surprises, at least they are surprises to me.  It may well be that the families of the people in the stories all know the tales, but to me they are yarns that must be shared.

Let's start with a name that appears on a rather impressive tombstone in a somewhat older part of the cemetery: Grandmother Sallie Darby, wife of J.V. Andrew, 1846-1927.  She shares the stone, not with her husband, but with this person: Granddaughter Ruth May, daughter of J.J. and Pearl Horton.

That presents a bit of a mystery.  I looked to see if she and J.V. Andrew had a child named Pearl.  They did not.  Then I checked to see who J.J. Horton had married and found that in June of 1901, he had married Pearl Hardeman in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  There was a match there, but how did Sallie fit in?  I ran a search on Pearl Hardeman and found that she was the daughter of George Lumpkin Hardeman and Sarah Pearlee Darby Hardeman.  Could Sarah Darby Hardeman be the Sallie Darby who married J.V. Andrew?

George Hardeman had died on July 10th, 1885 and Sallie and J. V. were married on July 4, 1906, so it is plausible that I am talking about the same woman.

By now, I'd pretty much exhausted the normal on-line data sources, but then I read that the University of Georgia had provided access to a database consisting of digitally stored copies of Athens newspapers from 1827 to 1922, so I ran a query on the name George Lumpkin Hardeman.

For an amateur genealogist to find what I dug up is somewhat akin to a modern day gold panner washing off an 8 oz nugget.

George Lumpkin Hardeman had been murdered, apparently in full sight of his wife, and also that of the wife of the man accused of his murder, one Eldredge Crawford Whitehead.  My sense of Tangential Genealogy now began to lead me down a completely new path.  I had to find the rest of the story in the archives.  In his first trial, Mr Whitehead was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  His attorney immediately filed an appeal and some 14 months later, Mr Whitehead was found not guilty and was set free.

Hold up!  That isn't all.  A few years later, on July 2, 1890, his brother Jesse was charged with attempting to assassinate a Mr Ware.  He was convicted, sentenced to ten months in prison.  On appeal, he was again convicted, and this time sentenced to eight months in prison.  On a second appeal, the case ended in a mistrial, so a new trial was called for.  On October 22, 1897, over seven years after the incident, he was found not guilty and released, a free man.  He had apparently been allowed to be free on bail, because in the years between being charged and finally being exonerated, he and his wife had two children.

I wish I'd found out these morsels of Georgia history a year or so earlier, for the great-grandson of Jesse Whitehead, one John Whitehead, was an Athens area minister who preached my mother-in-law's funeral, and perhaps even closer, was once the husband of my wife's sister, Becky.  Alas, John died this past December, so I'll never be able to ask him what he knew of these two stories.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tangential Genealogy

Call it Tangential Genealogy (as I do) or simply wasting time (as others might), but admit it is interesting, educational, and full of surprises.

One morning while my wife enjoyed a well-earned late sleep, I delved into a genealogical project I've been working on for over a year. In my local (Statham, Georgia) cemetery rest the remains of one Sallie Pearlee Darby Hardeman Andrew, born in 1846, perhaps on September 27th or January 29th, to Julius and Nancy Hamilton Darby in Clarke County, Georgia.

Miss Darby married a George Lumpkin Hardeman on December 4, 1867 and it was in looking for his history that took me off on my latest tanget. Mr Hardeman died at age 39 in 1885 and was buried in the Bethabara Cemetery along US 78 in Oconee County, Georgia, which is about 6 miles due south of Statham where his widow was buried.

George was born in 1845 to Lumpkin Gower and Martha Lester Hardman in Georgia. Note that here the spelling of the name has changed. Lumpkin's father, Samuel Hardman was born on March 28, 1777 in Henry County, Virginia to Uriah and Fanny Chandler Hardman. It was in looking for more information on Uriah that my route detoured even more. In 1752, Uriah's father, a John Hardman, sold Uriah 100 acres of land, apparently in preparation for marriage. In 1778, Uriah sold the land to Jesse Willingham, his brother-in-law, and moved to Wilkes County, NC where he bought 60 acres. In 1782, he sold the 60 acres to a nephew and moved to Georgia.

In 1785 Uriah received a Georgia headright grant of 448 acres on Goosepond Creek in what is now Oglethorpe County. In 1790, he sold 200 acreas of the land and moved to South Carolina, where he lived until at least February of 1799 when he moved back to Georgia and settled on "The forks of Clouds Creek" near the present day town of Crawford, Georgia."  At least one family historian, Jim Hardman, a distant nephew of Uriah, believes he may have been buried in the Clouds Creek Baptist Church cemetery, for while there is no marked grave for him, there are records of the church that mention his children, and, in a grove of trees beside the church, there are a number of graves marked only with field stones.

The name Clouds Creek caught my attention, so I let my keyboard take me to see what I else could find.  The website for Clouds Creek Baptist Church has a pictorial of Howard's Covered Bridge which is nearby.  Covered bridges are of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons.  I spent many summer afternoons in a pool beneath one in my old hometown, and, a distant ancestor of mine, one Ithial Town (1784-1844) patented a form of wooden truss bridge in 1820 which became known as Town's Lattice Truss.    In the church's website, there is a photograph of a sign erected by the Georgia Historical Society that says the bridge was constructed using the Town lattice design.   Not only was I tickled to see that my ancestor's design was used, I was delighted to see that the name Town had been capitalized, keeping his name intact.  There are other such bridges, including one here in Georgia, that spell the name without a capital.

Now you can see why I call it Tangential Genealogy.  I started out looking for the family history of Sallie Darby, then moved on to her first husband's family, then to a church that a member of that family may or may not have attended, and finally to a Georgia covered bridge that was built using the design of a Connecticut architect who could trace his lineage back to my seventh great grandfather who came to these shores from England in about 1640.

Oh, one more tangent.  The sign on Howard's Covered Bridge does contain an error, if only minor.  It says that the trusses are fastened together with trunnels, or wooden pegs.  The devices used are called tree nails (nails made from trees) or treenails, pronounced trunnels, much in the same way gun wales of a boat are pronounced gunnels.  Blame the English for that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sophronia E. Statham Robertson

In researching the names of people interred in the Statham (Georgia) City Cemetery, I have relied on information available on-line or at the various Georgia libraries, particularly those in Statham, Winder and Athens.

The grave stone says:

FEB 8, 1851
JUNE 13, 1909

The book, Barrow County, Georgia Cemeteries, compiled in 2000 by the East Georgia Genealogical Society, omits her name Statham, possibly because the researcher figured it indicated the town, not her maiden name.

I believe her to be Sophronia E. Statham who married William C. Robertson sometime between 1870 and 1873.  The evidence I've gathered is far from proof, but it presents a reasonably strong case.  The variations in spelling may be accurate, the result of limited education on the part of the people conducting the census,  or they may be interpretations of LDS researchers.

In the Census of 1860, there is a Siphronia Stateham, age 8, living with John and Emely Stateham, presumably her parents, in Jackson County, Georgia.

In the Census of 1870, there is Safrom Statem, age 19, living with MJ & Emily Statem, Jefferson, Jackson County, Georgia.  Although inadvisable in genealogy, I'm making an assumption that the initial J is for John.

In the Census of 1880, John and Emily Statham were listed in the Santa Fe District of Jackson County, Georgia, but Sophronia is not included in the family.  On another page in that census, Surphrona Robertson, age 29, is listed as the wife of William Robertson, age 33, in Santa Fe District, Jackson County, Georgia, along with children Cora age 7,  John age 5,  Marion age 3, and Emily age 1.  

Given Cora's age of 7 years in 1880, she would have been born about 1873.  Because Sophronia was living at home in the 1870 Census, I've guessed that she and William Robertson were married between 1870 and 1873.  Georgia's Virtual Vault displays a marriage certificate for W.C. Roberts and S.E. Stateham dated 9 Feb 1871.  

As an added bit of information, I think that John and Emily Statham are the Mr. and Mrs M.J.C. Statham who, according to a brief history posted on the Internet by the town of Statham, owned a combination country store and post office.  They would no doubt be the same M.J.C. Stathams who are credited with founding the town and donating land for the First Methodist Church that is now where the Statham City Cemetery lies.   If what I've postulated is valid, the Statham's claim of being founded by a native of England is probably inaccurate, because in 1850 and 1880, Mr. Statham reported to the census taker that both he and his father were born in Georgia.  There is also evidence that the M in MJC Statham's name is for Memory and that he is the son of Anderson and Charlotte Moore Statham who were both born in Georgia.

In a written history, Georgia Marriages 1808-1967, there is a John Statehano marrying Emaline Booth on 17 October 1847.  The marriage certificate available on Georgia's Virtual Vault showing that MJC Stateham and Emaline Booth were married on 14 October, 1847.  As it is common for modern day researchers to read old time handwriting inaccurately, and of course, once it's put into print, it becomes gospel, but I believe that these two are, in fact, John and Emily Statham who are buried in Booth Memorial Park, a short distance from Statham.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Digging up a Cemetery

In November of 2010, I attended a local ceremony on Veterans Day.  On my way home, I stopped at a local cemetery just to look around and perhaps pay some respect to those who'd given every last measure in service of their country.  I came across a grave marked for 1st Lt Emmett J. Hale, and I compared it to the list that had been part of the program that I'd attended earlier.  The only Hale on it was someone named Aimed Hale.

When I got home, I did a quick search on line and found the story of Emmett Hale.  He was a B-26 bomber pilot assigned as a test pilot at Huntsville Arsenal in Alabama and on June 27, 1944, had taken off with a full load of 500 lb bombs that were to be dropped on various targets on the proving grounds.   As the aircraft was climbing past 3000' an engine failed, Lt Hale attempted to set it down on a highway, but banks on both side of the road wouldn't allow room for the big plane to land safely, so he headed for a cotton field.  When it was apparent that he could drop some of his ordnance without endangering those on the ground, he dropped one of the 500 pounders.   It was too late, though, and the aircraft crashed in flames and exploded on impact, killing Lt Hale, the bombardier and the flight engineer.

I looked at the list from the morning's ceremony over and over, compared it to the list that was in the day's paper and came to the conclusion that those who had made up the list for the ceremony had made an error in the name they had listed.  I even came up with a possible scenario that could have ended with an inaccurate name.  I think the person who put the names on the list got them over the telephone and misunderstood the pronunciation of the name Emmet.  Aimed.  Emmett.  Accurate or not, it is a plausible explanation.

I sent a note to the organization responsible and, hopefully, next November, they'll have the name right.   It would be a shame to have a young man give his life for his country and the recognition go to someone else.

Anyway, that started me on a mission.  I decided I'd make a list of each person interred in that cemetery, with photos of their markers, and, if possible, some genealogical information on each.  It is a small cemetery, comparatively speaking, and is within a mile or so of my home.  I've taken digital photographs now and begun my research, both on line and at local libraries.  Around ten years ago there was a book published that lists the people buried there at the time and I've used it as a base.  I've found and corrected a couple of errors and a number of omissions, but the errors are inconsequential, and the omissions are mostly of folks who were buried after research for the book was finished.