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)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Restoring our Grand Old Courthouse

"In 1873 during a session of the Circuit Court the courthouse burned almost to the ground. Many valuable county records were destroyed, but certain records were saved. In June of 1874 a contract for rebuilding the brick courthouse on the ruins of the old foundation and a part of the walls, was given to McCormack and Sweeney for $9000. The building is two stories high with the court and jury rooms above and the county offices on the first floor. Two iron stairways on the outside, over the front entrance, lead directly to the second floor. This courthouse still serves the county." (from 'History and Families - Brown County, Indiana 1837-1990')

In the past year our Archives has had more research requests on this topic. There are plans to have our old courthouse renovated and an addition added for more space for county offices. This is one of the types of research requests we receive occasionally. I'm glad that architects, contractors, and even county employees take an interest in preserving these grand old structures. They need maintenance and sometimes an overhaul - wood deteriorates, plaster falls, and bricks crack. Sometimes it takes a little more than an extra nail to hold it together. Our courthouse has been in use for 139 years and hopefully it will go on for many more years.

So I've put my volunteers to the task of collecting any and everything that we can find on the history of the courthouse. Our material has been scattered in books, county records, and photographs. For a good Archive to be useful it must not only gather data to preserve it, but sometimes we must put all this data together in a way so that it can be put to use by the average individual. That might include putting a file together, writing a synopsis, making a timeline (as in genealogy), or even publishing a book on the topic.

Of course, there have been problems with cost and public protests, but hopefully it will be successful in the following year. I don't want to get on my soapbox, but I believe that this grand old building needs to be preserved. I've seen the sadness of a once grand old structure fall into disrepair. We don't need to abandon it and build a new one. Many old courthouses are still in use today, so let's keep ours too.

Judge's Bench

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Mexican War and the Brown County Blues

Decoration Day Parade in 1900

When there was a dispute with Mexico over the boundary of the new state of Texas, Congress voted men and money to go and settle the United States’ claim that the southwest boundary of the new state was the Rio Grande River. On May 18, 1846 President James K. Polk called for troops to carry on a war with Mexico. As always men from Brown County responded to the call for men. Our boys fought in the famous battles of Palo Alto, Buena Vista, Vera Cruz, and Chapultepec. By September 14, 1847 General Winfield Scott entered Mexico City and the war was at an end. Not only was the boundary settled, but we gained California, New Mexico and other parts of the southwest.

The Brown County men that stepped forward to raise a company of soldiers were James Taggart Jr., Thomas M. Adams, Patterson C. Parker, Williamson Wise, and Charles Bolt. A meeting was held at Georgetown and Nashville to enlist volunteers. James Taggart was elected Captain, Thomas M. Adams was First Lieutenant, Patterson C. Parker was Second Lieutenant, and Williamson Wise was Third Lieutenant. The company was assigned to the Third Indiana Regiment. The Brown County boys had already bought bright bluejeans for uniforms and the company was known as the “Brown County Blues” throughout the war.

There’s a story told down through the years of the death of Captain James Taggart on the battlefield. Captain Taggart received a mortal wound from a carbine ball. Stephen Kennedy who was near him picked him up and carried his captain into a deep ravine and remained with him to hear his last words. “Tell my folks to meet me in the good world. Be a good soldier, Kennedy. Go on to your company.” Captain Taggart lies buried on the battlefield where he died a soldier’s death.

Old Settlers Reunion in 1891 - Many were Veterans

Roster of Company E - Officers.: James Taggart Jr., Thomas M. Adams, Patterson C. Parker, Williamson Wise, Charles Bolt, Aaron D. Hedge, James Arwine, Joshua Janklles, Mason Watts, Lazarus Robertson, William S. Roberts, Isaac Lamsel, George Admire, Elias Weddle, John Calvin, Benjamin R. Kelley, Joshua Brummett, William Hamblen, and Thomas S. Calvin.

Privates: Joseph G. Arter, Charles Adams, Joshua Brummet Jr., James Brown, Reese Brummett, Caleb Bidwell, John Bolt, Thomas I. Breedlove, James Burns, John Calvin, George Comingore, Benjamin Callahan, Hanson Chase, Harmonious Cooley, George W. David, George W. Davis, William Davis, Stephen Debord, Joseph Fox, Cornelius Followell, Stephen Fread, Frederick Fleener, John Followell, Lewis Followell, Richard Goforth, Elijah Graham, John Gibson, Harrison Graham, David Hamblen, William Hatchet, William Hoover, Simeon Hubbard, Levi Hatton, Elisha Henley, William Hughes, Ephraim Hurley, Joshua Jackson, James Jackson, Stephen Kennedy, John H. Kennedy, Daniel King, Doherty, Logston, Abraham Lawless, Richard Lucas, Brackenridge Mason, Robert Marshall, Mathew Mathis, Alfred McGuire, George McKinney, Silas Morety, Martin Percifield, Philip Pike, Zachariah Polley, Misinor, Percifield, Hiram Reynolds, Joseph Robertson, John Robertson, William Robertson, William H. Raper, Alex Sturgeon, John L. Sumana (or Summa), Daniel Schrougham, James Shelton, ‘Squire’ Stewart, Henry Sipes, Lewis Tull, James W. Taggart, Mathew Wise, Theodore Whitney, Lewis Waggoner, William E. Weddle, and John Wilkins.

Benjamin R. Kelley who served in the war named these additional soldiers in his Day Book: John Brummett, Abraham Lollar , Lawrence Robertson, John Surrey, Stephen Fore, and Charles Roatt. Names gleaned from other sources were: George W. Marshall, John S. Kephart, and William H. McCarty.

Some of the above names may have been repeated due to differences in spelling found. If anyone can add to this list please let us know so we can add their names to our list of Mexican War soldiers who served from Brown County or later moved to Brown County.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Historic 1913 Flood - Where Was Your Ancestor?

Brown County in the 1913 Flood

I just realized I’ve been putting myself through an education not realizing what was occurring. When I became Archivist for our little local historical society I found there is so much more to historical documentation than just birth, death, and marriage records. I think as genealogists we are constantly looking for that new type of documentation that we had never known about before. There is a world of documents that have been created by governments, churches, and organizations that are endless. Even in a small community such as mine, our Archives is full of stories, and data that can be used to fill out a story, about your ancestor. This event or story was a part of their life!

Just watching the nasty weather this evening occurring here in Indiana brought to mind this topic for a blog post. Earlier this month I did a story on the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Flood in Indiana. Doing research on the topic in our Archives and on-line I found gads of photos from all over the state. This brought to mind the term “historical context” again. Sometimes we get so involved in trying to find those dates that we forget that our ancestor lived during these historical events.

Martinsville in the 1913 Flood

I usually concentrate my research on Brown County, but my family lived in many parts of Indiana. The one photo that grabbed my attention was the flooding that occurred in Martinsville, Indiana. That date of 1913 stuck on my brain – Martinsville in the spring of 1913 – what happened then? It came back to me then. My 2nd great granduncle that I’ve been researching lived in Martinsville at that time. Wow, sudden realization, George Washington Brown was living in Martinsville in the 1910s (he died in 1915). He would have been 77 years old at the time of the flood. The homes and flooding in the photo is what his town looked like during that time period. Then I got to thinking, how did he handle this disaster especially at 77 years old? His wife, Rebecca Ann, would have been about 61 years old. They had living with them a grand daughter, Jessie Odetta, about age 8. They also had a son, George Washington Brown Jr. and his family living in the same town.

How did his family fare in the flood? Was he able to make it to his parents to see if they were okay? Many questions arise. What would be the next course of action if one wanted to check on these people at that time? Probably the next best thing would be to look at the old newspaper accounts. Our local newspaper had a pretty good story about the problems and heroic acts that occurred at the time in Brown County. This would be a great personal research project for any family historian. Look at major events that occurred during your ancestor’s lifetime. See if you can find someway to find the story, if not about your personal ancestor then maybe about the community they lived in or some of their neighbors. Okay, time for a research trip to Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

John Wiginton Back to South Carolina

A Pioneer Village Museum in Campbell County, Tennessee

I don’t like to jump back too far when filling in a timeline. Although it's tempting to jump back and see where he came from it's usually not as productive. It’s better to go back in increments when possible. Once you have enough to fill in gaps then you can jump back a little more in time. I believe I’ve collected quite a bit on John Wiginton, my 4th great grandfather, at least as far I can go for now in Tennessee. To find further information I’ll have to plan a research trip to Tennessee in the near future and visit all the counties that he resided in or that his daughters married in. So for now I’ll look at what I can find from the internet, local research libraries, and microfilm from the Family History library.

I've now started looking at John’s home before he went to Tennessee. From census records in 1850 and 1860 John stated that he was born in Georgia. If he was born about 1784 from calculations Georgia was Indian Territory at the time, but it’s not impossible for him to have been born there. Unfortunately there are no records for Georgia at that time period. If you look at census records for Jeremiah Wiginton, the younger man mentioned in the last blog then he was born in South Carolina. I've surmised that Jeremiah was most likely a younger brother or a nephew. He is found in several of the counties with John in Tennessee and seems to have followed John with almost every move. Jeremiah was born about 1800 so we can start looking there for my Wigintons, and at least there will be records in South Carolina for that time period. So far I have no other info pointing me toward South Carolina. Of John’s six children only one lived to be in the 1850 census and that was my 3rd great grandmother, Lucinda Tallent. She stated she was born in Tennessee.

So beginning this leg of my research on South Carolina I found there were some Wigintons living in the old Pendleton District of South Carolina, which just happens to lie on the Georgia border. So now I have a time gap to work on from the date of John’s birth in 1784 to 1812 when he was found on the Warren County, Tennessee tax list. John had two of his daughters in this time period. Melinda was born about 1806 and Rhoda was born about 1809. I’ve already done some research on these two daughters and have exchanged info with some of their descendents. This will be a big block of time of about 28 years to fill in for John Wiginton. I’ll do what I can to find more records in Tennessee, but I can also work backward to see what I can find in the old Pendleton District in South Carolina. First order of business is to study the record-keeping that was done in this area and get a sense of the history of the area.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Creating John Wiginton's Timeline

Polly's Marriage Record

Back from the research trip to Miller County, Missouri, it is now time to decide where to go from here. Not much was accomplished from that trip. John Wiginton’s final resting place and those of his younger children are still lost for now. We’ll put that on the back burner for a while. The best information that was found was the two marriages of his step-daughter, Polly Lawson. I already had the dates and the grooms’ names, but it was good to get those confirmed from the actual marriage records. An added bonus was that John had performed the marriages himself. That added a little more information to John’s resume as a Minister.

Now I go back and fill in his timeline with all the details I have acquired so far. Then I can look for information to fill in the gaps especially the larger gaps of time that he was unaccounted for. John Wiginton was born about 1784 in Georgia. There was a younger Wiginton, Jeremiah, which shows up in several places as John in Tennessee. So we can assume he is a younger brother, nephew, cousin, etc. Jeremiah was born about 1800 in South Carolina. So from the block of time from 1784 to 1800 John was in his youth turning about 16 in 1800. This time period he would be too young to have records created in his name. This we’ll keep in mind for further research – sometime between 1784 and 1800 his family moved from Georgia to South Carolina. Moving forward from here - John’s first child, Melinda, was born about 1806 so that would make John about 21 or 22. Age 21 was marrying age for men at that time in most states. So we need to look for a marriage to his unnamed wife during the decade surrounding 1806 in either Georgia or South Carolina. The next movement is to trace him back in the Federal census or tax records. The first time to find him would be in 1810 after his marriage and the birth of at least two of his daughters, Melinda and Rhoda. Rhoda was born about 1809. John had a lot of daughters from what I’ve found so far. Another reminder to self – look for the actual marriage records to see if John was involved in some way as a Minister, etc.

Tennessee Mountains - Campbell County

The next event that he is involved in is the War of 1812. We know he got a land patent in Missouri because of his service in the war. So we need to find more info on his service – where and when he served. Finding this information we find a date of 1814-1815 where he enlisted in Capt. Ashabel Rains Company in Lincoln County, Tennessee. So now we have another gap in which to gather information. From the 1810 census to 1814 there are four years to fill in – what was the year he went to Tennessee. Finding a Tax List in Warren County, Tennessee John was found as a Poll Tax Payer in 1812. That narrows down that four year gap. So we continue on with finding other Tax Lists, Census records and his daughters’ marriages. When John went to Tennessee he seemed to stay in a 6 county area for a while: Blount, Warren, Rhea, Roane, McMinn, and Bledsoe. John was quite a restless young man it seems. At least all these counties seem to border each other or are very close together for traveling. Could John have been a traveling Minister during that time? That gives me another idea – look for church records. From his 77 years (age from the 1860 census), minus the first 21 years as a youth, I’ve been able to collect info to narrow down a lot of these time gaps covering at least 25 years. There are several 6 and 8 year time gaps that need to be worked on. Time to fill in that timeline and start working on those gaps.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

John Wiginton in Missouri

Old Courthouse at Tuscumbia

Reporting back from my research trip to Missouri. The trip was primarily made to help break down a brick wall on my 4th great grandfather, John Wiginton. My goal was to find the final resting place of John Wiginton and his second family. John was born in 1784 in Georgia from census records. I had traced him through several counties in Tennessee and he had served in the War of 1812 there. John seemed to be quite a restless man not staying in any one place very long during his time in Tennessee. In 1838 he married a second time to Elizabeth Lawson. Sometime in the 1840s they moved to Miller County, Missouri with Elizabeth’s parents, David and Mary Lawson. Elizabeth previously had one daughter, Polly Lawson, born in 1836. John and Elizabeth had another daughter together named Sarah in 1848. His stay in Miller County seems to have been the longest period of time that John had stayed in any one place. He was getting up in age - he was in his mid 60s when he had his last daughter. Also he had got a land patent, maybe he decided to settle down and make a home for his family. Hopefully this was a good sign to make the trip and find his final resting place.

New Courthouse at Tusbumbia

Sometime in the 1850s his wife, Elizabeth, died, leaving John with his stepdaughter, Polly, and his daughter, Sarah. Polly married two times, first to William Walker with which she had three children, John, Sarah, and Eliza Walker. It seems she must have taken over the role of the matriarch of the family. Her husband died before the 1860 census. She then remarried to Peter T. Coy in 1861. John Wiginton had performed the marriages of several couples during this time and had signed their marriage returns as a Minister including that of his stepdaughter, Polly. The next big event that happened was that Elizabeth Lawson’s father died. Her children were named in his Estate. Shortly after David Lawson's Estate was filed in 1867, John Wiginton sold his land a month later. That signaled a red flag. What was going on at that time that would cause these two events so closely together? Normally you would think when someone sells their land they are getting ready to move again. Did they move on to somewhere else? From reading about the history of Miller County there was a lot of ill-will and bad events going on in the county after the Civil War. After this set of events in 1867 John and his whole second family totally disappeared. I have used every thing I can think of to find them. I looked in Miller County for marriage records for the daughter, Sarah, and for the marriages of Polly’s children. There was nothing! I am back looking at that brick wall again. I will have to step back and see what other avenues I can take to find them.

Miller County Historical Society

Miller County totally awed me. My sister and I had combined our vacation trip with a research trip. We spent some time driving around the county to see the countryside. When we left the Interstate highway to look for the county seat, Tuscumbia, we entered another world. It was like driving through the back country of Tennessee again. I can see why John Wiginton had gone there – it was like his home away from home. We took off to find Tuscumbia and the courthouse and almost missed it. That is the smallest county seat I have ever been in. We saw only one church with a town cemetery, a big new courthouse, and their one and only small museum - no stores, no gas station, nothing else! We drove around to find where downtown was and couldn’t find it. We finally found an old run-down stone building that must have been their old courthouse. Around it sit several old abandoned storefronts. It seemed really sad – it looked like prosperity had hit this small town and moved elsewhere. It must have been a busy thriving town at one time. We drove down another country road and found that all the residents seemed to have moved down by the river, Osage River. It was a beautiful sight. Please, if you ever get to go to the home of your ancestor don’t pass it up, it is totally worth the trip no matter what you find. There is nothing like seeing where your ancestor lived.

Osage River at Tuscumbia

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Missouri Research Trip Ahead

One of Richard Guffey's sons, name unknown.

It's that time of the year again, getting ready for the next research trip. I decided to go to an entirely new place and have a new goal in mind. I usually try to trace an ancestor back to his home state and see what can be found on him or her there. This year I decided to track down the final resting place of a couple of great grandfathers who were of a restless nature. One is my 2nd great grandfather, Richard G. Guffey, my grandmother Millie Guffey-Conner's grandfather. Richard was married 2 times, first to my 2nd great grandmother, Eda Bell who died back in Wayne County, Kentucky. After Richard married a 2nd time he and part of the family moved to Macon County, Missouri. The children that went west with him were John D., Ephraim Hardin, Thomas M., James M., Charles, Van Buren, and Henry Clay Guffey. One of the sons photo is above. The older children stayed back in Kentucky. I've gathered lots of info on him and both his families. This time I just want to find where and when he died and where he is buried. The last place they lived was in Bevier, Missouri in the 1890s. His 2nd wife, Matilda Hughes-Guffey is buried at St. Charles so I want to go see if he is also buried there and get some photos. I also don't have a date of death for Richard and I want to tie up that loose end.

The next stop is going south down to Miller County, Missouri to find the final whereabouts of my 4th great grandfather, John Wigginton. He was quite the restless pioneer. He started out in Georgia, went into the Carolinas up to Tennessee, and finally ended up in Missouri (at least I think that was his last stop?). I've had plenty of internet cousins helping to track his down over the years. His last known residence was Equality Township, Miller County in the 1860s. This one will be a stretch, but I hope we can find something on him. He also was married a 2nd time to an Elizabeth Lawson. She died in the 1860s and him sometime afterward. John had land in this county, but I have yet to find out what happened to him after he sold his land in 1867. Both his daughters, Polly and Sarah, disappeared also shortly after this time. I found a marriage record for Polly to a William Walker. If I can find him or either of the daughters I will feel like I accomplished something.

So now I'm on the internet collecting maps and addresses of libraries and cemeteries I plan to visit. I want to make sure I can plan my visit around their hours. My sister and I want to spend some time in Hannibal, Missouri to see the sights and spend a few days like tourists. Hopefully if we can I would love to take a ride on a riverboat and dip our toes in the great Mississippi River.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Capt. James Booth in the Draper Manuscripts

James Booth's Letter 1777

A while back I order the Guidebook for the Draper Manuscripts to be donated by our Genealogy Society to our local library for their genealogy section. Of course, I wanted to look through it first to see if any of my ancestors were in it somewhere. I was excited to find that my 5th great grandfather was mentioned in it as having written a letter. I wrote down the notes of where I could get a copy of this letter. That's one thing I would be so excited to own especially if he had signed it himself. The Guidebook also told me how to quote my source so I had better do that correctly - Draper Manuscripts 4ZZ10.

James Booth and wife, Nancy Stalnaker, lived in Harrison County, Virginia (now W. Virginia) on Booth's Creek named for James Booth. He was a true pioneer and leader that helped to settle the wilds of this area. They had four children: Sarah who married Evan Thomas, Barsheba who married Alexander McClelland, John Booth who married Sarah Kinder (my 4th great grandparents), and James Booth Jr. who married Elizabeth Tucker. Sarah and John both settled in Indiana. Captain James Booth was killed by Indians on June 16, 1778. Little is know about the final whereabouts of his wife. James Booth's exploits as a pioneer are written about in several historical accounts of Harrison County, W. Virginia.

Below is a transcription of his letter as best as I could make out. If anyone can help me make out any of the words a little better let me know.

To Capt. Zedick Springer at Prickett’s Fort
Koon Fort 95
August the 2st, 1777
Sir, By Sertain and satisfactory just gone from the Uper Garrisons are lain tha on the 31st of last month a sertain Charles Grigsby wife and child was kild and skalpt, and one missing supposed to be captured. But to inform you more fully he was a living on the waters of Elk Creek and had moved home, went out in the morning after his cows and on his return found not his family and most every thing which convinst him the more Jakens and men. The men spied a company passed them about four miles and found her as above. The number is sckalpt to be 13 or 14. Our men intended to posse them 5 days in which return shall able to satisfy your men.
This from your friend and humble Svt.
James Booth

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lineage Society - Gathering my Sources

Manville Church, Jefferson County, Indiana

Okay, I started to fill out the application for Jefferson County First Families. It went pretty well on the first page. The first source to find was one to prove that Joel Ferguson came to Jefferson County at a certain date. The 1820 Federal Census had him living in Switzerland County in Craig Township which is just next door to Jefferson, but not quite what was needed. This part of Switzerland County was never a part of Jefferson County at this time. The next best document that could be used was Joel and Polly Ferguson's Land Entry which was dated March 23, 1825. Joel Ferguson and Polly Booth were married in Jefferson County on January 6, 1822 but I don't believe that could be used to prove residence. That's something I'll have to check on. Residency has to be proved for 1820 to be in the oldest category for First Families. So looks like 1825 will be the best date to use for Joel Ferguson's first settlement in Jefferson County.

The next problem that was encountered was what every novice genealogist learns sometimes too late. In my hurry to gather information on the Ferguson family 12 years ago I didn't write down the full information to "cite my source." This is a lesson I'm still learning. How much information does one need to fully cite a source? At the time it was gathered it was only to be used for my personal collection on my ancestry. Now a few years have passed these documents are going to be used for a different goal. Some of the sources can be filled in from on-line sources now. Then there are those that will require another trip back to Jefferson County to get those little bits of important information that were passed over the last time. Looks like there will be another trip back to Madison. Oh well, I love it down there anyway. I just needed an excuse to go back for a day of enjoyment.

I love to just walk down the streets of old Madison and see the old homes and watch the waters of the Ohio River go by. Then I will take a drive out to the countryside to see where my ancestors lived and maybe walk through some of their old cemeteries. It's funny how I feel at home there even though I have never lived there. Some of the sites are probably some of the same ones that Joel Ferguson saw. It gives me a chill sometimes to wonder what he was thinking when he looked on the great Ohio River the same way I like to stop and look at it. There I go daydreaming again.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Brown County Newspaper of 1900 - Found a Bag of Money


On Thursday evening, October 4, just as the sun was sinking in the western horizons, William Hobbs, son of the well known Benjamin Hobbs, whose home is about three miles south of Nashville in the vicinity of the noted Weed Patch Hill, was descending a steep hill on the old home farm with a heavy load of wood on his wagon, one wheel of which was “rough” locked, when his attention was called to pieces of decayed cloth and a peculiar stone which the wheel had unearthed, and upon closer examination $16.30 in old coins was found.

The road traversed by Hobbs was through “new” ground, which was very fertile and mellow, the wheel which was locked tearing up the soil for a depth of about eight inches. The money was unearthed near an old decayed log, and the stone above mentioned was embedded near, if not just over the coin. On the stone was some peculiar marks which, in the opinion of many, proves that it was used to mark the place where the money was buried.

William was in town Saturday exhibiting the money, thirteen dollars and thirty cents of which was pennies, bearing dates from 1830 to 1880. The remaining three dollars was in silver half-dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels, and half dimes. The oldest of these was a half dime which bore a date of 1838. The money had evidently been buried years ago in the shot sack and the stone used to mark its resting place. By whom or when it was buried is, of course, not known, but it is probable that some of the stave makers, who several years ago worked the timber in that section hid it. William said he spent about an hour in clawing the money out and did not leave until he was sure he had it all.
(Brown County Democrat, Oct. 11, 1900, page 1)

The half dime was a silver coin valued at five cents, formerly minted in the United States. Some consider the denomination to be the first coin minted by the United States Mint under the Coinage Act of 1792. The introduction of the copper-nickel five-cent pieces made the silver coins of the same denomination redundant, and they were discontinued in 1873.
(from Wikipedia)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Peter Kinder's Will - Confusing information

I've been working on this Kinder family off and on for several years now. I don't quite know what to make of Peter Kinder's Will. First, here's a little background. Peter Kinder and wife, Dolly See, left southwestern Pennsylvania somewhere in the 1780-1790s. They arrived in Shelby County, Kentucky where they settled for a time. There, several of their children were married, one being my 4th great grandmother, Sarah "Sally" Kinder who married John Booth. After this time period Peter and some of his children moved on to Montgomery County, Indiana which is where he died and left a Will. Some of his children especially the daughters moved to other places. Sarah Kinder-Booth and her family ended up in Jefferson County, Indiana.

There is a lot of discussion on the web about the history of the family, but it is rare that someone produces any documentation to back their assumptions. The transcription of his Will is below, but before we get to that the names of his children and their marriages are listed next to help understand the names in the Will. Many of the dates (birth and marriage) are unknown.
Sarah "Sally" Kinder to John Booth in 1793 in Shelby County, Kentucky
Mary Kinder married John Barr - date and place unknown
Margaret Kinder to Peter Smock on Aug. 5, 1802 in Shelby County, KY
Martha "Patsy" Kinder to Elijah W. Meddock on April 1806 in Shelby County, KY
John Kinder to Jane Millone on Nov. 11, 1808 in Shelby County, KY
Peter Kinder Jr.
George Kinder to Milly Johnson - dates and place unknown
Jacob Kinder to Nancy Shepard on Jan. 16, 1816 in Shelby County, KY
Nancy Kinder to Jesse Hicks on Feb. 3, 1816 in Shelby County, KY

Now, the Will itself is confusing as it is unclear if some of the children are deceased by this time.
January the Twenty-Third 1817, Montgomery County, Indiana - Book A, page 4
In the name of God amen. I Peter Kinder . . . do make constitute and order this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form as follows, viz:
First, That my dear wife, Dolly Kinder have one horse saddle and bridle, two cows, a bed and household furniture and that to one third of my Estate be made up to her.
Secondly, I will that my son Jacob Kinder have twenty-five dollars and no more levied out of my Estate for his benefit and no more.
Thirdly, I will that the children of my decd. son, Peter Kinder, have one dollar and no more.
Fourthly, I will that my grand daughter, Peggy Mettick, daughter of Patsy Mettick have one dollar and no more - levied out of my Estate for her benefit.
Fifthly, I will that the children of my deceased son, George Kinder, Polly Barr, Sally Booth, Peggy Smock and Nancy Hicks have one third of my Estate when my widow's part is taken out.
Sixthly, I will that my son, John Kinder, have the balance of my Estate after the above legatees are paid of and my body buried in a Christian like manner.

Mt. Pleasant Church, Shelby Township, Jefferson Co., IN - area where Sally Booth's descendents live.

The Fifth group seems to be of the rest of the children. It's unclear which children are deceased except George and Nancy. George is stated as being deceased and his Will is on record in Jefferson and Shelby counties in 1813. Nancy and her family settled in Putnam County, Indiana and she lived until about 1900. There were two John Barr's in Kentucky in this same area as the Kinders so I'm not sure which family to follow to find the daughter, Polly Kinder. There was also two Peter Smocks, but neither one seems to have had a wife named Peggy. I know a little more about my 4th great grandmother, Sarah Kinder-Booth, but I still do not have a time of death for her. The only way to tell which children have died by this time is to try to track each one down to see where they went and when they died. That has been a very difficult job to work on, especially the daughters.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Southview/Oak Hill Cemetery in the News in 1926

(View from Southview/Oak Hill Cemetery looking towards town)

While researching another subject I came across an old newspaper article mentioning our beloved old cemetery in Nashville, Indiana. I thought it of interest to many who champion the cause of restoring our oldest cemeteries. You can also see more photos taken of the cemetery stones in the past years on our Facebook page: (sorry I couldn't get the link to work)

OAK HILL CEMETERY, in the northwest part of Nashville, is one of the oldest cemeteries in this part of the state, and over two hundred bodies are resting there. Some whose names inscribed on the monument are weather beaten so that is is nearly impossible to know who is resting there, and at some graves the marker or monument has fallen over. It is noticed too, that some of the graves cannot be located for the weeds and underbrush that has grown around them. The road is in such condition that the casket containing the body must be carried to the cemetery and the relatives and friends are compelled to walk. Scarcely a family in Nashville or in this county who have not a relative or a friend buried in this cemetery. A few hours’ work with several men would make Oak Hill a beautiful cemetery. (Brown County Democrat article of June 10, 1926)

Thanks to our Township Trustee for keeping it mowed now. One of the many interesting stones in the cemetery is featured below:

Notie Calvin, Daughter of T. D. & Linda Calvin, Born Sept. 28, 1880, Died Dec. 23, 1892

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lineage Society - Hooray! The Gold Nugget

Hooray! I finally got a break on my grandfather's records. I had tried everything to find one piece of documentation that held all my grandfather's information. The death certificate was blank with no parents listed. The marriage application gave the mother's wrong last name. No birth record could be found for him in any county where he lived. His obituary gave his mother's wrong first name. So I had wracked my brain - what other piece of documentation could I get that would give me the information that I needed? Suddenly it occurred to me - his social security application! That would be the one piece of paper that he would have had to fill out himself. That would be the one government document that would still be available to obtain with just a little effort.

So I got it two weeks ago. After I opened it I did my own little happy dance right there in the post office parking lot. I was elated all week. It gave his full name as George Allen Dunn, address R.R. 4, Nashville, Ind., age 38, born Oct. 28, 1898 in Boone County, Ind. His father's name was George M. Dunn and his mother was Rose E. Ferguson. It was signed in his own handwriting (I recognized his handwriting) on June 4, 1937. It looked like two people had filled it out because some of it was printed and some of it was in cursive, but I know he had to have had direct imput on this document.

I didn't know that Social Security dated back that far - 1937. I'll keep this information for future use. I may be able to use it again for another ancestor's records. Now I can proceed forward on my application for Jefferson County First Families membership. This document was well worth the wait. Time to get back to my notebook to see which piece of documentation I'm going to have to look for next. One note, I received another copy of the same document a week later. Looks like they were making sure it got sent out.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Off to See the Wizards [of Genealogy]!

Hopefully we'll get to meet some new attendees from those of you that are going to the Indiana Genealogical Society's Annual Conference this Saturday, April 27. I try to attend every year hoping that the great genealogy wizards that be are going to bestow some new knowledge on me. Maybe as in the Wizard of Oz they will give us some great gift of wisdom to help us become better researchers. This year it is close to my home of Brown County, Indiana so I am really excited to go. This year's featured speaker is D. Joshua Taylor from the NBC television series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" I always look forward to hearing from a new speaker, a new perspective.

I have heard a few comments from those that have decided not to attend. To them I always respond that "you can never stop learning." Some of the titles could be presented a little more interestly, and many times that has helped me pick which session to attend. If a session title sounds particularly interesting I almost always pick that one. I've even attended sessions that I didn't think I would ever use just so I could further my own education.

So my collegues and I hope to see you there. If you happen to be driving down to Bloomington by way of Brown County be sure to enjoy our beautiful scenery and our little historic town of Nashville.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lineage Society - More Document Problems

George A. Dunn and oldest child, Lucille ca. 1923

Another round of problems have surfaced with grandfather's records. For years I've tried to find a birth record for him. He was supposedly born in Hamilton County, Indiana on October 20, 1898. The neighboring counties were also checked: Boone and Tipton. The Dunn family was known to have lived in northwestern Hamilton County between Sheridan and Cicero so it was wise to check those two counties. If a doctor attended the birth he could have come from either of those areas too. The problem also came up with another one of his siblings so I'm assuming it was a home birth with no doctor attending.

Okay, so I don't have a birth record. What other records would be good to give a birth date and parents' names. There is the marriage record and the death record; these would be the next best alternatives. Going to get a copy of grandpa's death record was another big let down. It did give his birthdate so that would help. The problem was that the parents information was left blank. I thought in modern day America all information was required to be filled in on a death record. Grandpa died in 1978 in Bartholomew County. Isn't it required to have all this information on a death record?

The next record to try for was Grandpa's marriage record. He would have filled that in himself, and surely he would know who his parents were. So I made the trip to Johnson County, Indiana. On the marriage application it read George Allen Dunn to Goldie Edith Roberts. The birthdate was there. Okay, that's another piece of evidence for the birthdate. Reading on down Grandpa gave his father's name as George M. Dunn. Okay, that was right. Then he gave his mother as Rosa Woods. What! I well knew her last name was Ferguson. Where did he get Woods? I guess he could have been a little nervous before the nuptials and all of a sudden forgot his mother's name. Was it possible that the bride-to-be filled in the information and she just got it wrong. Grandpa, you're not helping!

Goldie Dunn and baby son, Vonda ca. 1923

Next let's try the obituary. Someone in the family most likely gave that information so maybe all the information I need will be there. So I trucked on over to the Johnson County library to look at newspaper microfilm. Looking for that ONE piece of information that I need maybe the obituary will be it. Reading on down the obituary it gave his birthdate and a birthplace, Boone County. Well, that will help. At last, a birthplace is stated in writing. Now for the parents - the father was stated as Mose Dunn. Mose was George M. Dunn's nickname, that will do. And, I do have his father's correct name on the marriage record. The mother's name was stated as Loretta Ferguson. Now what! Where did the name, Loretta, come from? Why is it so hard to find his mother's correct name? I've never came across so many errors and ommissions on any one person as Grandpa Dunn's records. You would think it would be harder to get information before the 1900s. I guess I'll have to treat this one the same way as Rose Etta Ferguson's records. I'll have to use all these records and try to explain the discrepancies on my application for the First Families of Jefferson County.

Then, I had another idea come to me. I do my best thinking in the morning it seems while I'm driving to work or cleaning house. What other documents could I find that would give me the information I needed? I need a document that Grandpa would have filled out himself. I need a document that requires complete information - a government document of some sort. Then it came to me - a document I have ordered only one time before, but it solved another big genealogy problem. I had gotten this document for another grandparent in the past that had a mysterious past and it helped to solve the mystery. I looked on-line. How can I order a Deceased Person's Social Security Application (form SSA-711)? I looked on and got my Grandpa's social security death information. The link on Ancestry did not lead me directly to a place where I could order the application. So I clicked on Google and did the search. Now I just have to wait. I'm a little excited - please Grandpa I hope you got this one right! It may take a few weeks, but I need this document so I can wait patiently. I'll let you known how it turns out, keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lineage Society - Document Discrepancies

Rose Etta Ferguson-Dunn

I finally took a day to go collect documents for my immediate family. I started early on a Wednesday morning and set my trip meter on my car. I was curious as I started out my day as to how many miles I would end up driving for the day. I covered a four county area of Brown, Johnson, Shelby, and Bartholomew in central Indiana. From my checklist of 40 documents to collect I already had most of them from previous years of doing research on my Ferguson family. The only ones I still needed to get were for my immediate family. I still needed my father’s birth certificate, two of my grandparents’ death certificates, and one great grandmother’s death certificate. The reason I had never gotten hers is that I had seen the information a few years back and it was incorrect. So now I need to decide if I can use this as a form of proof for something else – maybe her birthdate or proof of a burial place.

Here is my dilemma. Rose Etta Dunn’s documentation has been sketchy at best. According to her obituary in Johnson County she “was born at Madison in 1865 and had moved to Johnson county nearly twenty years ago living for fifteen years in and near Trafalgar.” It named her children one of which was my grandfather, George Dunn, of Johnson County. There were no other details about her husband, her other residences, or her parents. From that I had to find out who her husband was and where were they married. I did have some information from her other children about her husband and where they lived before coming to Johnson County. There was no marriage record for her in Johnson or Jefferson Counties. So the next thing to do was to get her death certificate.

Her death record gave sketchy information.
Age 64, spouse George Dunn, died August 4, 1928, buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin. Her father was David Ferguson and the mother was unknown. By this time I had found that her father was John B. Ferguson from her marriage record so the last name was correct but not the first. She did have an uncle by that name though.

For her marriage record I had previously written to Hamilton County Library’s Genealogist to see if they had any info on this family. They very graciously mailed me a huge envelope filled with goodies on my family. One of these was Rose Etta Ferguson
S and George Dunn’s marriage record. Their marriage record (application) stated his name was George M. Dunn of Sheridan and gave his full information. For Rose Etta hers said her name was Rosette Furguson, she was 26, and of Sheridan also. Her father’s name was John B. Furguson and her mother was Lida Lowell. George and Rosette were married on Feb. 18, 1892. Another page was from another marriage book that showed the marriage license information. This page was very enlightening. I had never been able to connect Rose Etta back to Jefferson County with any parents in the census until I got this one. At the top of the page it read George M. Dunn to Lusetta Ferguson. At the bottom they both signed their names as G. M. Dunn and Rosette Ferguson. That was a shock, no wonder I couldn’t find her. Did she change her name? Did she just not like the name Lusetta and prefer to be called Rosetta? The name Rose Etta or Rosetta is the name she had gone by all her life except for the time she lived in Jefferson County. So now I ponder what her full name was – was it Rose Lusetta Ferguson – maybe Etta was short for Lusetta? Or maybe she just didn’t like Lusetta and just started using Rosetta instead.

George and Rosetta's Marriage Record

These two marriage documents were the best proof to link her to her parents back in Jefferson County. So now the question is what do I do with her death certificate? Do I use it and attach an explanation with my First Families application? Should I not even include it so I won’t confuse the application people? Would it be best to include all her documents and explain the discrepancies. Would this help to improve my overall application for First Families? That would probably be the best route to go, but I’ll have some thinking to do. By the way at the end of my day I had logged over 119 miles- yikes!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lineage Society - Records Survey

George A. Dunn (left) holding Lucille, Smyser boy, George's wife, Goldie holding Vonda, and other Smyser children - Trafalgar, Indiana.

I'm going to use this blog as a journal to detail my journey to become a member of a local lineage society, "Jefferson County, Indiana First Families." Last blog post I gave an overview of what I wanted to do. Now I'm going to get started by surveying what records I already have and what records I still need to get. I found an old 3 ring binder that I wasn't using and put in some tab dividers - one for each generation of ancestor. They start with me, then my father, Vonda, then third is my grandfather, George Allen Dunn, fourth is my great grandmother, Rose Etta Ferguson, fifth is her father and my ggreat grandfather, John B. Ferguson, and finally his father, Joel Ferguson. I thought about adding another tab for John B. Ferguson's wife, Lydia Ann Lovell, and her father Jonathan Lovell. Jonathan came to Jefferson County about the same time as Joel Ferguson. I still may do that later on. For now I'm going to concentrate on the Ferguson line.

Next, I made a checklist of what documents I need to get together. I'll need a birth and a death record of some sort for each person. Then finally I'll need to get land documents to prove where and when Joel Ferguson first settled in Jefferson County. Birth and death records are relatively easy to get for the later generations. My father recently passed so I have a death record for him. My grandfather's death record can be gotten from the county he died in so that will be my next task. As for a birth record for dad, I don't have that one either so I'll have to get that one. My grandfather, George, doesn't have a birth record because I had already tried to find that years ago. He was born in Hamilton County and they had no record for his birth. I had already checked in the neighboring counties, Boone and Tipton, and found none there either. I can probably use his death record as an alternate record of his birthdate.

The next generation, Rose Etta Ferguson was born in 1864 before Indiana required Births to be recorded so I'll have to come up with an alternate source such as her death record or marriage application. I already have both of those. The same goes for John B. Ferguson. He was born in 1817, so I can probably use his death record to get his birthdate from. As for Joel Ferguson he died in 1869 so that puts both and birth and death records before the Indiana requirement. So I'll have to use alternate forms of documentation for his dates also.

Next, I'll have to get together land records for Joel Ferguson which I had already done a few years back. I started to gather all the documents I have and pulled them from my files. They'll go in the 3 ring binder. I also put the checklist in the very front of the binder so I can check off what records that I have already put in the binder. The ones I still need to find will be on the checklist unmarked until I get them. Alternate documentation can be gotten from burial/cemetery records, obituaries, census records, marriage records, etc. I can make a note of that on my checklist as I go. I know in the early years of my genealogy research I was a little lax at documenting my sources. I'll need to make sure I have a source noted on the documents I already have. Time to get to work.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lineage Society - Ferguson line

John B. Ferguson - Olive Branch Cemetery

Well, I've finally succumbed! I always looked upon Lineage Societies as a waste of my time. I saw no benefit in it to me as a genealogist. Now I'm going to go through the application process for the main purpose of getting my family published at least in the local Genealogy Society. I have one family line that I can say is one of my more favorite familys to do research on. My Ferguson line from Jefferson County, Indiana was one of my real research ventures and I learned a lot in the process. I also think that going through this application process, compiling my records, and putting together my presentation will be another good learning experience. It will be a good test to see if I have been doing my documentation the way it should be done. I already have most of my records together when I did the research on my Ferguson a few years ago. Now when I start reviewing all my records I'll soon be able to tell if I really am prepared or if I'll have to start over.

The Jefferson County Genealogical Society offers a program called "The First Families Program" for those who want to prove that their ancestors was one of the early settlers to that county. They have three options and the first of which I'm going to try for is 'Frontier Family. I have shared with other Ferguson researchers my research on the Fergusons over the years. I have most of my documentation already collected on the earliest ancestors in that line. Now all I have to do is go back and get together records on my later ones such as my father and his father; something I had neglected to do in my great hurry to see how far back I could go. My line of ascent past my dad goes as such: my grandfather - George Dunn, my greatgrandmother - Rose Etta Ferguson, my gg grandfather - John B. Ferguson, my ggg grandfather - Joel Ferguson.

Joel Ferguson was born abt. 1772 in Virginia, died Sept. 21, 1869 in Jefferson Co., Indiana and is buried in the Demaree Cemetery. He came to Jefferson County via Shelby County, Kentucky abt. 1815. I need to prove that Joel Ferguson was in Jefferson County by 1820 - that will be the thing I need to prove. He is in Switzerland County, Indiana in the 1820 census. All I need to find out is if that part of Switzerland County later became a part of Jefferson County. Joel Ferguson first married in 1815 to Peggy Hannis, a widow of Charles Rogers. Then by 1816 they were supposedly in Switzerland County when their son, James was born. Joel hadn't purchased any land so I don't have a deed to fall back on. Peggy died sometime around 1820-21. On January 6, 1822 Joel Ferguson married a second time to Mary Ann 'Polly' Booth. They had nine children. It was with this second marriage that Joel and Polly got their land grant.

Unfortunately that is too late to use as proof of residence before 1820. The second option that the "First Families Program" offers is the category 'Founding Family' which you only need to prove residency by 1860. at the very least I will try for that one with the intent on going all the way back to 1820. This is going to be a lot of work, but it might be fun! You can check on the program at their website:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Investigating an Incorrect Obituary - George M. Dunn

George Monroe Dunn

An obituary is only as correct as the information that was reported by a third party. If you ever have to write an obituary please don't forget every member of the family even if you don't particularly like the person. What you put in writing will be there for an eternity. With the recent passing of my father an incorrect obituary was printed in one of our local newspapers. The paper did print a correct one a few days later, but that first information that was put out is still in everyone's mind that first read it. It named me and my sister as stepdaughters to our father, when in reality we were both adopted by both our parents. Also, his wife of 50 years was completely omitted. This is especially harmful for genealogists - we need the correct information. Maybe in 20 years or more when we are both gone, someone will find this obituary and wonder "who was his wife?" Then they'll have to go through all the trouble to look for a marriage record. Then they'll see the marriage date and wonder again "how did these girls become stepdaughters to this man?"

This problem also came about a few years ago when I found my great-grandfather's obit.
“January 9, 1933 - Noblesville Daily Courier.
ANOTHER CIVIL WAR VETERAN DIED SUNDAY - George M. Dunn, one of the last civil war veterans of Hamilton county, died Sunday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Hatfield, in Cicero., with whom he had been living for several months, at the age of eighty-seven . . . He served three years in the civil war . . . his death leaves less than thirty-five of these veterans still living in the county . . . The deceased spent most of his early life in the vicinity of Boxleytown. His wife died many years ago. He is survived by the following children: Mrs. Mary Hatfield, Mrs. Maggie Scott Miller both of Cicero, Mrs. Josephine Adair of Riverside, Calif.; Fred Dunn, of Maywood, Calif.; and Charles Dunn, of Indianapolis.”

I had heard stories from family members that George had outlived three wives. So here it was - his obit, great grandpa George had been married before and here were the names of his other children. I know I had the right family from all the other evidence I had collected. I relayed all this information to my father and he said he remembered having an uncle Charles. Dad used to go visit him in the summers when he maintained a vegetable stand at the old Farmer’s Market in Indianapolis. But I don’t know why his family back in Johnson county had been left out of the obituary like they were never a part of George’s life. The obit never named the other wife that he had survived either.

There were clues here, but a lot of work had to be done to fill in all the holes. There were birth records to be found on all the children - whose names were given as their parents? There were marriage records to be collected - maybe they would help fill in some of the gaps? Where were these other people buried, where did they live, did any of them keep in contact with their half brothers and sisters? Then there would be questions that would probably never be answered such as why were all the other children and other wives omitted? This one took a while to investigate, but at least the few clues that it left gave me something to start on. Omissions are the hardest to find and correct. So if you find yourself in a position to create an obituary please make it correct to the best of your ability.