Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jesse Brown - Still a Mystery!



Every summer my friend and I like to take our annual drive down south to our neighboring Jackson County. They are reputed to grow the best melons in the state. Their soil is very fertile and sandy being mostly bottom land where White River runs through it. There are a few hills in the north and west side of the county though. Every time we drive southerly through this area I think of my third great grand parents, Jesse and Polly (Porter) Brown. This area from my best guess is where they first settled when they came to Indiana from Floyd County, Kentucky. They eventually ended up in northern Brown County in the hilly country - like their home state. Why did they move again? They came from the hills of Kentucky. Maybe they didn’t like the marshy bottom land of Jackson County for a home.

Jesse Brown’s origins, born 1805, are still a mystery to me. Of course, the Brown surname is one of the more difficult names to research. There were so many Browns living in Floyd County at that time. As you come back to Indiana to do research for the Browns in Jackson County the numbers decrease quite a bit. That still doesn’t make it much easier, but at least you narrow down the families you need to research.

There were two other Brown families living here at the time though. A Thomas Brown family living in the same area apparently has been well researched and most don’t think my Jesse is any relation to them. There was a John Brown family in the area for a shorter amount of time that seems promising. This John Brown left a few documents during his time here, but still no connection to my Jesse Brown has yet to be proven. If Jesse Brown owned land in Jackson County that would’ve helped, but he didn’t. There are a few small details that could go toward being small scraps of evidence to connect them.


John Griner & Lucy Brown Griner (Jesse Brown's Grand Daughter)

After John Brown died in 1837 a woman named Lucy shows up in the 1840 census living alone in the same location. Probably it was his wife, but also she could have come here mid census with an entirely different family. Jesse Brown’s oldest son, named his daughter, Lucy. John Brown died with his land going to Probate Court, but the only other persons named in it were his heirs, no names, and a son named John A. Brown Jr. He apparently had more children because they show up in the 1830 census. There are several females with the Brown surname married in Jackson County that had no ties to the Thomas Brown family. There are so many little pieces of information that have been collected that it’s unsure if they even tie in. Sometimes it gets more confusing when you try to use other’s research. You have to actually prove their research before you can even try to find a tie to your family.

It seems there has to be more documentation out there somewhere to be found. I haven’t researched this family in a few years. Maybe more records have become available. You also never know that maybe a few years ago, I might have missed something important being inexperienced. Also, since a few more years have passed I’ve learned a lot more about where to find the records. It’s about time to refresh myself on this case and pay another trip to Jackson County. I’ll have to stop by the local vegetable market and get another one of those good melons!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Decoration Day as Mom Used to Call It!


L to R: Holcomb - Georgia, Morphew - Tennessee, Vonda Dunn - Indiana, Gave - ?, Bytner - Michigan

Growing up my mother's family always celebrated Decoration Day in a big way. She was a Kentuckian and family was everything to them. She and her sisters would get on the phone the first thing and order flowers to be put on all her family members graves, we were in Indiana at the time. Then the sisters would all get together and make the trip down south to see the graves and visit. Always a big meal ensued during the visit which would bring together long seen cousins. It was a big event that we all looked forward to every year. My mom and her sisters didn't have a lot of money, but they always seemed to have enough for those flowers. Sometimes they chipped in together, sometimes they would buy artificial ones and decorate them theirselves depending on what the money situation was that year, but they never missed a single year that I can remember. many of these great family traditions are gone now. These memories still linger and that's probably why I look forward to my yearly visit to Kentucky to see my cousins. It's not on Memorial Day anymore, but I never fail to visit one or two of the cemeteries and remininsce. My dad's family also celebrated Decoration Day every year the same way. My dad being a 'guy' just didn't get into like the women in the family.

This Memorial Day I spent the morning a little differently at a local Program Honoring our Veterans. A friend asked me to go because he was speaking. It was a great day watching the Honor Guard, my friend the speaker tell his stories of service, listen to the bagpipes, and listening to final taps. It was truly a moving experience. Not one person left with a dry eye and without a sense of great respect for these veterans and the ones that were lost. My friend is a Vietnam Vet and this was the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. My brother, Richard, served there also and I have never thanked him for his service. I'm going to correct that today.

My dad, Vonda, was in WW2 and served in the Phillipines. I'm putting a photo above of my dad and some of the men that he was in Basic Training with. He took the time to write on the back of it their names and the state that they hailed from. I may never meet these men, but if anyone knows these veterans and I would tell them also, Thank you for Serving Your Country. If anyone knows these men I would like to know whatever happened to them. I'm afraid I don't know their full names, but they may remember my dad. Let me know if anyone has any information on them. If you notice in the foreground they had a pet bear.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Keeping Interest in a Genealogy Society.


Program - On the Trail of Henry Cross, Stonecarver

It has been up to me as President to keep our members interested in coming to our meetings, not to mention attracting new members. Our Society had grown stale and our meetings were humdrum. Yes, we had interesting speakers and of late more modern topics to present. That only goes so far, at least in my opinion. If I belong to a Club or Society I want to do fun things and share my accomplishments. I’m sorry to say we’ve lost some of our older members the past couple of years, but hopefully we’ve lost the old order of being a humdrum society. I want my genealogy buddies to enjoy being in a club, to enjoy doing the type of things that I do, and to learn and do new hands-on techniques.

Of course, there is always going to be one or two members that don’t like change. Then I also have to think of those that are not able to go out and do more active things like cemetery hopping. So I, as President, have to learn to balance all these different personalities and physical types. So we give them a mix of different types of programs. A couple of years ago I started taking our meetings out into the county in different locations so that maybe we could draw in new members. It also let the locals get an idea what our Society was about. Every on-location meeting was very well attended, so much better than our stay-at-home meetings.

So last year we instituted a new Summer-on-the-Road series of programs/activities. It was a big hit. We’re going to do that again this year, but with an overall theme – Summer of Cemeteries. Once the idea was presented among our members we’ve had multiple questions and comments. We’re still in the planning stages, but we plan to go up to October as long as the weather holds. We’ll have a sit down portion for the older folks with a short program or talk. Then we’re off to our local cemetery for some fun. In June we’ll have our Annual Picnic with a visit to Greenlawn Cemetery. In September or October we plan to visit the Deckard Cemetery. Plans for the other months in between haven't been set yet.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Ohio Migrations to Brown County


Otho H. Roberts and Rebecca Pittman-Roberts

There's always something I've wondered about, but there hasn't been much written on the story. Why was there such a mass migration, or at least it seems so, of Ohio natives to Brown County, Indiana? Our county started out at a very early time in our state's history becoming a county in 1836. During that time a great influx of pioneers came in from the southern states such as Kentucky and Tennessee. There seemed to be a still period afterwards where these pioneers settled down, started a new government, created communities, and developed their land into something that could sustain their families. Then the Civil War came and went and Brown County citizens lended their support. Then all of a sudden another mass migration followed from eastern Ohio counties. What triggered this new mass migration? I know there are histories of that time talking about migration routes and stories of individual families that moved here. That still doesn't answer the question, "Why?"

Doing a search on Google there are a lot of short references to the Ohio migrations in the late 19th century. There are stories of migration routes such as the National Road and the Ohio River. Is there anything else written on the subject about why and what triggered this sudden migration. At least is seems like it all occurred within a short time span. By the end of the 1800s Brown County's native population seemed to be split almost entirely down the middle with half from Kentucky who came in the early 1800s and the other half from Ohio who came in the late 1800s. It seems to me that this would be a good story to tell. Nearly all of the Ohio immigrants came from the eastern counties of Brown, Belmont, Monroe, Washington, and Noble Counties. These counties that are along the Ohio River it's not too hard to imagine that the Ohio River was the main route of transport. But then why would they get off in Indiana and head straight for little, hilly Brown County? Some stories say that Brown County looked more like their old home with the hills and valleys. The terrain can be rough though and farming mainly contained in the more fertile valley soils. Some of my family names that came from these regions are Pittman, Roberts, Reeves, Truex, Skinner, Hoover, and Clark. This doesn't count all the Ohio natives that these families married into and lived next to. They all seemed to move together in a mass. Possibly studying old newspaper accounts would be helpful too.

If anyone can recommend a good historical account of this migration period please post your comment.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Double Enumeration on the Census?



What can you do with a double enumeration? The first thing you need to do is determine if it is actually a double enumeration. Double enumerations are rare, but they do happen. Actually I’ve come across several. What are some of the reasons a family may be enumerated more than once? First thing you look at is the date the enumeration took place. The family could have been enumerated in the two places during the time that they moved from one place to another. I’ve seen where it seems that the enumerator might have made a trip around an area and he might have even crossed over a path that he took the enumeration before. Then there is the instance where the family has a lot of other family in the area and they gave the information to the enumerator even though the family lived in another location. So they were enumerated in their home town and also in their new location even though they may not have moved for some time.

Let’s look at my Reeves family. This is the first enumeration of the Abel Reeves family. They were enumerated on August 11, 1870 by W. B. Creekmore.
1870 Whitley County, Kentucky – Louden Precinct, Meadow Creek, page 2.
Abel Reeves age 35
Martha J. age 30
Anderson age 7
C. C. age 4
G. W. age 2

The second enumeration was done on August 15, 1870 by W. B. Creekmore.
1870 Whitley County, Kentucky – Louden Precinct, Meadow Creek, page 14.
Abel Reeves age 34
Jane age 34
Doctor age 7
Richard age 3
George age 1

Both families were counted by the same man only on different days. How do you know that they aren’t two different families? They had the same amount of people in their family and the ages were very close. The only difference seems to be some of their names. Studying the area of Whitley County one can see that the Reeves family is not a plentiful family line here, and the name Abel is very unusual. Martha J. could be the Jane in the second count. The infant G. W. could be George in the second count and more than likely is George Washington, a very popular name in those days.



Studying the family’s neighbors more closely also gives some clues. In the first enumeration their neighbors are a John Reeves age 35, probably a brother. On down the page is a G. W. Reeves age 60, possibly their father. In the second enumeration the neighbors are different, but there is a clue here as well. Knowing the Abel Reeves family history his wife’s maiden name was found to be Hill from their marriage record. The neighbors on this page shows two other families, one is a John Hill age 64 which is more than likely Martha Jane’s father. The other is a William Hill age 44 possibly a brother. So comparing all this information it appears that the information given on one of the Abel Reeves families was by someone outside their immediate family. There is also the possibility that they might have moved in this short time span of four days, or were in the process of moving.

We can study the family further. Finding the correct names for the children it is found that the Reeves family liked to name their children after famous historical figures or important community members. The children’s’ names were: Anderson Barton Reeves, Christopher Columbus Reeves, and George Washington Reeves. The later children were John S. Reeves, William M. Reeves, and Doctor S. Calvin Reeves. I’m currently trying to find out who the later children were named after. The last child’s name was actually Doctor, it wasn’t a title. He could have been named after a family doctor that might have delivered the Reeves children. Can you think of other reasons a family might have been counted twice?


Anderson B. Reeves

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ordering Military Records May be Daunting


Local Brown County WW1 Veterans: Hershel Moberly - front 3rd from left, back row - Dan Lucas, Ben Morris, Charles Swift

We recently held one of our Genealogical Society meetings at our local Veterans Services building. When I called to ask if we could hold our meeting there we got a quick and positive response back that we were very welcome, and they would also like to attend the meeting. Our local Veterans Service officer, I’ll call him Mr. H, receives a lot of requests for genealogical help on Veteran ancestors. Mr. H. doesn’t know how to help them when it comes to doing genealogy, but he is of immense help when it comes to maneuvering through government bureaucracy. They are experts at handling requests for service records, pension records, and veterans’ benefits. The two former items are what we genealogists work with the most when it comes to doing research on our veteran family member.

Many of us that use the internet everyday have become experts at finding these records ourselves. There are those, although, that are still not completely internet savvy to do it themselves. That’s where we need an expert to help us wade through all the paperwork that is required to get those records. I, myself have ordered half a dozen pension files and service records on many of my family members that served their country.

All the while I am still trying to connect the paperwork back to each individual to prove my lineage to these soldiers. I’ll name some of the ones here that I have found in my family lines that were in service for their country.

Revolutionary War: Lawrence Conner, Edward Pedigo/Peregoy, John Booth, Peter Kinder
War of 1812: John Wiginton, William Roberts
Civil War: George Monroe Dunn, Claborn Brown, Eli Brown

These are just the ones in my straight line back that I have gotten records for. I have also collected the records for lateral lines such as brothers to my maternal lines. These records have been invaluable in helping to find new information on my family that could not be found anywhere else. If you have trouble finding these records on your own please pay a visit to your local veterans services, they can help.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Freeman Orchard Homestead Research


Freeman Homestead 1947 (Frank Hohenberger photo)

One of the types of jobs we do at the Brown County Historical Society Archives is to help homeowners do research on their old houses or land. It’s not typically genealogical research, but you apply the same principles and methods. The only difference being is that you have different types of documentation to look for to determine the age of the aged structure or names of the first land owners. Most of my helpers are acquainted with where to start, but one of my hens (as we like to call each other) has very good skills in land/house research.

We were approached recently by a couple that had fallen in love with an old homestead that used to be part of the Freeman Orchard. They had visited us earlier this summer and tried to buy the house, but were outbid in the Estate sale. Fortunately for them the bidder turned around later and put it up for sale again. This time they lucked out and got their dream home. If you want to do research on your old home and don’t know where to begin then one of the best places to try first is your local historical society. If they don’t have info on your individual house then at least they can show you how to get started. I was able to give this couple one of our county’s “Interim Report” that was published by the Historic Landmarks Foundation. These should be available in most counties in Indiana. It is a detailed list of all the old homesteads and other historic structures with a brief description and an age of the structure. This book is a good starting point to see if your home is on this list.

There are a lot of sources out there that anyone can start with to do their own research. The first and easiest is to do whatever research you can on the internet. You can follow some of the examples that my lead researcher found. First there were a couple of mentions in two different stories, then a digital image of the house was found, and finally she mentions an on-line County database that anyone can access.

Reference Links:
1. A Google books search found a “1908 State Geologist Report” that mentions two orchards in Brown County, one being Freeman Orchard in its heyday.
2. An article in an on-line version of “Our Brown County” mentions Freeman Orchard.
3. The Lilly library in Bloomington, Indiana has on-line digital images of Frank Hohenberger’s photos from the early part of the 1900s, one of those was the old homestead on Freeman Orchard in 1947.

There is a database that is accessible on-line from our county government where you can access Property Cards of the land and homes in Brown County. I’m sure a lot of counties probably have these on-line now to be accessible by the public. This is the gist of the report my volunteer found. “The property record card states that the current dwelling was built in 1948, it is my opinion that the original structure was largely gutted and rebuilt at that time, leaving very little of the original structure, thus giving the effective construction date of the dwelling a 1948 date. The dwelling was reconstructed to maintain the same appearance. Need to do some research at the County office building regarding the construction.” As you can see there are more records that can be accessed on-site at the county level. I e-mailed our couple and gave them some more places they could look into. I also told them to examine their house to see if any of the original house structural items seem to be part of the original wood structure. Here are a few of other items that can be looked into for further research at the County level.
Abstract of Title
Property Card
Deed Records
Building Permit Records
Tax Duplicate Books


View from Freeman Ridge towards Bean Blossom (Frank Hohenberger photo)