That’s what I get for going unprepared

I write this blog post from the Talladega College Library. This was not my intention. We came to Talladega this weekend to visit Kalonji’s grandmother and I thought, great! I can go to the public library when we get to town and do some genealogy research on the McClellans! However, upon getting to the library, I saw that they were closed for the holiday weekend. Should have known.

So, I came down the road to Talladega College, a historically black college here in town, and ventured into their library. Luckily, they are open and allow public visitors. Unfortunately, all of their Talladega specific history information is in the Archives, which is closed on the weekends.

So, I’m in the computer lab and since I have a couple of hours to kill, I will do some random genealogy tasks. I wish I had thought to double check, but oh well, at least I can get a few things accomplished over the internet. Change of plans — the cemetery where some of the white McClellans are buried is only about a mile away. I am going to go walk the cemetery. Perhaps I can get some pictures of tombstones that may not already be online and potentially help someone out.

Update @ 10pm — This afternoon turned out well after all! I made my way to the cemetery. Oak Hill Cemetery, in Talladega, Alabama is a HUGE cemetery! I asked a couple of people where I may find out who had a burial plot location and of course being a Saturday, City Hall was not open. I even tried a local funeral home, but could find no one present. So, I decided to park near the section of the cemetery that looked like the oldest part and walk around.

After walking around for about 30 minutes, I found most of the graves I was looking for – the Willam Blount McClellan family section and the Plowman family section. Go back to a few of my recent posts and you’ll see who William Blount McClellan is and why I’m interested in him. Since my digital camera is currently out of commission (a little three year old I know inserted something into the slot where the memory card goes and thus I cannot put a memory card in it) so I bought a few throwaway cameras and had the pictures developed on CD. They came out for the most part okay, but there were some where I was not close enough to the tombstone to read the transcription in the photo.

Here is a picture of the McClellan family plot. Buried here are William Blount McClellan, his wife Martha T. Roby McClellan, sons Francis McClellan and W.W. McClellan, and a few others – maybe 2 infant graves, and then 2 other tombstones that I can’t remember and can’t make out in my pictures. I’m definitely going back with my digital camera next time we are here.

This is the family plot of Thomas Scales Plowman. His wife was a daughter of William Blount McClellan, Magnolia Vinton McClellan. Thomas was a congressman.

And, there were so many interesting headstones, like this one in the McMillan plot.

And, I took some other random photos, so I’ll be uploading images to FindaGrave pretty soon.

Can Kalonji get his Sons of Confederacy Membership? Maybe DNA can help!

I’ve never participated in a Carnival of Genealogy before, but I could not pass up the topic of this next round because it was extremely apropos.

The question: Do you have a family mystery that might be solved by DNA

The answer: yes, i think so! but, I’m not sure. I have some theories to test.

My husband want his Sons of the Confederacy membership. He is a McClellan from Talladega, Alabama. Here are the facts:

The Black McClellans

  • There is an oral history that his black McClellan family bears resemblance to the white McClellan families in the area. I need to double-check this with his paternal grandmother Frances, but that is what he tells me.
  • His great-grandfather is named Champ McClellan and was born about 1887 or so in Talladega, Alabama. Champ is Frances’ father.
  • Champ’s mother’s name was Fannie McClellan. Though the 1930 census says she is widowed, her death certificate shows that her mother’s name was Rebecca McClellan. Fannie married later in life after having two children, but the last names of both her children, Champ and his brother, was also McClellan, so this leads me to believe she either married an unknown McClellan, or she had her children out of wed-lock.
  • Champ was very light-skinned and his death certificate does not list his father. Census records list him as mulatto. Mama Frances says he was “bright” and very near white. She said her older sisters, his first two children, were also very “bright.” She said he never talked about his father, but she too wondered if his father was white.
  • I cannot say CONCLUSIVELY that I’ve found Fannie in any census prior to 1900, but my best guess based on Champ’s age is that she was born somewhere around 1860-1865. Her death certificate when she passed in 1953 says she was 77, but that would make her only 11 years older than Champ (who’s age is more accounted for than hers).
  • I did find a Fanny McClellan in the 1870 census, mulatto, listed as being 25 years old, thus born around 1855. Her age is not quite on par with what I think is Champ’s mother age, but I can’t rule her out either.
  • I have not found a Rebecca McClellan that even looks like a close match to be Champ’s grandmother.  Update on 11/3 – see the last bullet point in the White McClellan’s section.

The White McClellans

  • The white McClellan family in the area are the family and descendants of General William Blount McClellan.
  • General McClellan was a large slaveholder – in 1860 he had 15 slave houses and real estate value of $15,000.
  • General McClellan served during the Civil War and was a Confederate soldier.
  • General William Blount McClellan had sixteen children, including a son named Augustus R. McClellan, born in 1842, did in 1875.
  • Augustus R. McClellan lives next to the above mentioned Fanny from the 1870 census – she lives right next door.
  • Augusts McClellan’s census record for 1870 shows a 2 year old son named Champness (thus born about 1868). I have so far found no further information about Champness McClellan.
  • With the assistance of a lady whose husband is also a McClellan descendant, she pointed me towards this 1880 census of the General William B. McClellan household in which there is a 45 year old black woman named Rebecca with a 14 year old daughter named  Fanny. Also, in the house is an 8 year old black boy named Chap (could be a mistake for Champ).  Could this be Kalonji’s Fanny & Rebecca? Is that Chap a brother of Fanny’s?

All this combined really leads me to believe that I have a plausible theory, that Kalonji’s great-grandfather Champ was fathered by one of these white McClellan men.  Kalonji occasionally grows red hairs (as does his father) and the white McClellan’s are of Scottish descent. Of course, this may not be the case, but our first set of DNA tests that we will do will be to try and solve this.

With help from above-mentioned researcher, I am constructing the white McClellan family tree.  If I can find a son of a son of a son, etc. on down the line to test (or two), it would help me either way. If a yDNA lineage test shows a match, then we know it to be true! If the test does not show a match, at this point, my next plausible suspect is a member of the Plowman family.   Three of Willam B.’s daughters married three Plowman brothers – so with Plowman’s in the household…  Of course, that may not yield a match either. But, we are certainly going to try!

I’m confident I can track down someone, the challenge will be to see if any of them have done a yDNA test or would be willing to do one. Some may not be willing to do it as they may not want the association, but really – we know this kind of situation happened all the time! I hope I can find someone who is willing.So, that is my objective. I look forward to taking this on over the next year and seeing what we can find out!

Using DabbleDB to Keep Track of Sources

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile, but I wanted to share how I manage a problem that I was encountering. Towards the beginning of the year, I began to realize I needed a way to keep track of the published resources (mostly books), that I was using in my research. I didn’t want to lose track of them just in case I needed to refer back to them. Fortunately, I live near the Tennessee State Library & Archives, but even researching their catalog began to be cumbersome as I was needing to do this each time I prepared to visit.

So, I turned to DabbleDB. I first came across DabbleD about 18 months ago I think, and given my preference for web 2.0 tools, the idea of an online database management system was highly appealing to me. At first, I felt limited, but then they opened it up so that you could have a free database as long as you had your information in the public domain. Fine by me.

So, I began to create my database and the current result is a database of all the books I consult, or want to make sure I consult, as I do my genealogy research. The fields I created are for tracking the county a resource covers, what topics it covers, which libraries hold it (not an exhaustive list, but some of my usual suspects), and a citation field so I can create bibliographies.

Then, I have an online link to my reports and then the list can be exported to PDF. Some examples:

  • Let’s say I am about to go to the Tennessee State Library& Archives – I can use my database to create a list of books that they hold so I can have quick referral.
  • Or, what if I get an email from a fellow researcher that wants to know what resources I’m familiar with for Washington County, North Carolina. I can provide them a link to my bibliography. The PDF version is quite nice too.

So far, this is working out very well! Anytime I make a trip to a library, I document the books I’ve consulted in my database. Anytime I’m doing a web search and I find a book that I am interested in, I put it in my database.

What you don’t see in those lists either is my link to Worldcat.org. Having a link in the database directly to the record helps me quickly check for other places to look. Also, Worldcat has an easy link to grab a properly formatted citation for any resource in the catalog so I capture that citation in case I need a formal printed list. Excellent resources and I highly recommend them for keeping track of your materials. If you’re interested in seeing my other reports, I have a link to my overall database in my blogroll list on the side of this blog – “Taneya’s Genealogy Books Database.”

I next need to create a way to track journal articles as I’m starting to use more of these as well. Look for that enhancement in a later post.

I have a new role!

I was browsing TNGenWeb one day, and decided to look and see which counties were up for adoption. Since I live in Nashville and so close to the state archives, I thought being a county coordinator and further relying on the resources of the archives, would be an excellent way for me to give back to the genealogical community of Tennessee.

So, I chose Blount County and sent an email asking to be the new county coordinator. I heard back yesterday and I am now the one! I will spend the next few weeks familiarizing myself with the content of the site and the rules and regs of being a county coordinator, but I am so excited! My first task? Redesign the site.

Though the USGenWeb sites are EXCELLENT repositories of information, I have been on so many that I think could have a site update. Blount County, TN is no exception. So, I have done a mock-up for a new design that will rely less heavily on the traditional vertical presentation of information that is commonly used. Here is what I have come up with and it is based in large part on the design of Warren County, North Carolina.

GenealogyBank

I love historical newspapers and I find that you can learn a tremendous amount about the cultural context of a given community by reading through their newspapers. I have ordered old newspapers for a few communities of personal interest and some of my side projects involve indexing them (see links on sidebar).

I was pleased to get a message in my email inbox this past week about an online conference call this weekend that Sharon Seargeant is hosting about the use of newspapers as sources of information. I’ve not yet participated in any genealogy related conference calls/webcasts, so this should be an interesting experience. I very much look forward to any tips that may be offered. More information about the call can be found here.

In related newspaper news, I read on Eastman’s blog today that Genealogy Bank has added new content. I’ve kept my eye on Genealogy Bank for awhile now, but never subscribed. Today however, I decided to go ahead and do a one month subscription. I can’t wait to delve into all the offerings, but something immediately jumped out at me and I am going to email Genealogy Bank.

I do however have a recommendation for them (and any other site that indexes newspapers, Ancestry included) that I think would make these sources immediately more useful. Google Map the location of the newspapers! While there may be times that I am familiar enough with a region to know the nearest major town that I could possibly check for information, I do not know this all the time. A list of paper titles even if it includes the town name does not always make it easy for me to pick a paper. If I could type in the town name in Google Maps and see little red balloons for each paper that is geographically close, that approach would be MUCH more useful to me!

That said, I still cannot wait to get in and play around with Genealogy Bank! Just now I was doing some searching and located this ad from the October 17, 1829 issue of the North Carolina Sentinel. This is an advertisement for a runaway slave named Tom Whitfield from a man named Henry B. Mitchell. The ad states that Tom used to belong to Warre Kilpatrick – a man whom I suspect my own ancestor, Silas Kilpatrick, may have belonged to (or at the least, I suspect Warre to be part of that family). They could have known each other….

I’ve Been Referenced!

After my previous post on the maps from HistoricMapWorks, Mr. Hillenbrand of the Upstate NY Genealogy Blog, he wrote me and said he’d blogged about me! How cool. Thanks much!

Actually, using the blog as my research log was the primary reason that I started it. I do enjoy the advantage of having everything online and searcheable, and some of what I’ve posted has led distant relatives to find me. I also make use of the blog for writing brief sketches, stories, etc. from time to time about family members and find it a much more digestable way of publishing than thinking about the seemingly insurmountable task of writing a formal book. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Alice has two birthdays

   My maternal grandmother, Alice Elizabeth McNair Robinson (the one perched on the car) has two birthdays. Officially, we celebrate it today, October 22nd.  However, her mother always told her she was born October 16th.  I obtained a copy of her birth certificate last year and guess what? It has October 16th too! I’m not sure how the family came to celebrate her birthday on the 22nd, but we always knew that she has two birthdays.  A similar situation also exists for her brother Fred – his birth certificate says one day, but the family celebrates it a different day. What was going on :-)

Today, my grandmother is  83 years old.  She is the only girl surviving to adulthood of Abraham Lincoln McNair Sr. and Martha Jane “Mattie” Walker. Alice was born in Tarboro, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, but grew up in neighboring Plymouth, Washington County.  Apparently, the family was temporarily living in Tarboro when she was born, then afterwards, they moved back to Plymouth.  Alice had four children, and married Herman Robinson on September 22, 1950 in New York, NY.   The story of how they met is a fun one, but I’ll reserve that for a later post :-)

My grandmother Alice is the reason I am as interested in my family history as much as I am. One day about 10 years ago, I interviewed her and over the course of several hours she gave me so many details about the family tree that I still find myself trying to document some of the things she told me about and I often refer to those notes. What I need to do however is type them all up so I have them electronically too, just in case something happens to them.  But, Alice knows her family. My mother says they could go anywhere and she would know family there.  It was always important to Alice for her to know the goings on of the family. It is my goal to be like her in that respect.

Now, my grandmother has Alzheimers , so the memories she’s able to share come and go, but I am so glad I did have that opportunity years ago.  This picture was taken in the mid 1950′s in New York.  The little boy is my uncle Stanley and we are not sure who the other woman is. That is a mystery for another day….

Map of Sangamon County, Illinois

While catching up on some of my blog reading this afternoon, I came across a post on the Upstate NY Genealogy Blog where Mr. Hillenbrand explains that maps from HistoricMapWorks.com are now part of Ancestry as long as you have a subscription. Well, I do, so I decided to take a look. I’ve only glanced at this site prior to now and because I’ve been working on MC’s genealogy, I decided to see what was available for Illinois, and I found something of interest!

Click here to see it larger. But, this is an excerpt from a 1914 map of Sangamon County. This particular section is the southern part of the county. There in the middle, near the line that is the border between Section 28 and 27 are MC’s family.

In Section 28 is B. Galligan is Bartholomew “Bart” Galligan, her 3rd great-grandfather (he also had some land in Section 29, but that is not shown in my excerpt). In Section 27, very near to him are Joseph Faith and Mary A. Faith – her 2nd great-grandparents. Mary A. Faith (nee Galligan) is Bart’s daughter, and Joseph is her husband. On the other side of the Faith’s is an area called Andrew. In his notes of family history, MC’s grandfather noted that his father and uncle, Clancys, operated a grocery store in Andrew. While I knew they operated a grocery store from their census records, I had not yet looked up where Andrew was – well, now I know! Joseph & Mary’s daughter, Anna Marie, would marry Patrick Clancy Sr. Since I don’t see any Clancy names on the map, my guess is that they lived on the Faith property. This is quite interesting.

Union City High School – 1972 Yearbook

One day while in a goodwill store last year, I came across a 1972 yearbook from Union City High School in Union City, Obion County, Tennessee. This yearbook belonged to one of the students as it has all kinds of signatures, etc. So, I bought it because the genealogist in me wanted to submit the information from it somewhere some day. However, I’d done nothing with it. So, last month, Randy had a post where he put up some information from a yearbook that had been given to him and it inspired me.

So, I will begin a series of articles posting content from the yearbook and I’ll be submitting the URLs to the Obion County, TN USGENWEB pages so others can find it too hopefully.

1972 Senior Class (click on last name to see picture)

Next post — Senior class officers….

Looking for John & Delia Clancy

Another entry on behalf of my friend MC for her family genealogy. Until yesterday, I had not been able to locate her 2nd great grandparents, John & Delia Clancy in any census records. Her grandfather’s written account that she gave me yesterday, provided me with the clues that I needed to find them. First of all, I had John’s name as Patrick (which may have been another one of his names), but using John would turn out to be productive.

The clue her grandfather mentioned that helped was that his father, Patrick Clancy born abt. 1869 had played sandlot baseball with Honus Wagner and that the family lived in Pittsburgh during this time. Though I had searched Pittsburgh a little, I still hadn’t located them, so I turned to look at Honus. Who is this Honus Wagner? Some searching revealed that Honus “Hans” Wagner was the son of Pete and Katheryn Wagner and grew up in the Chartiers neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He was born around 1874, so was the perfect age to be playmates with Patrick.

So, I begin to search for Honus and I find him. Pete & Kathryn Wagner are living in Chartiers with their children, Peter, Louis, Bertha, Elizabeth and Henry. Hmm.. no Honus – but a little more searching revealed that he was born John Peter Wagner. So, the Peter is him (right age – although, since he is listed as being 12 years old in 1880, this would make him several years older than his official information.

Now, I search Chartiers for the Clancys and find John & Bridget Clancy (Delia is a nickname for Bridget) are living in Chartiers with their family – inlcuding MC’s grandfather’s father, Patrick. I’m then able to further track the family through two more census given some additional information her grandfather provided – including that the family moved to TN, where I’ve located them in 1900. In 1910, she still has relatives in TN, but I’ve not yet found John & Delia in 1910 or later. Will have to get her to go back to her grandfather :-)

But,  in doing this, I’ve learned quite a bit about Honus; apparently he is considered one of the best, if not the best, all around players in the  history of the sport, and one of the first five players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His trading card is the most valuable card ever, having recently been sold for more than $2million dollars by Wayne Gretzky.

History in context, this is why I love  doing genealogical research. I could have cared less about history while I was in school, but through genealogy it becomes much more real.