Explorations in Evansville: Part 1

Yesterday, we took three of my stepsons back home to Evansville after having had them for two months. Yesterday afternoon, Kalonji drove me to the area of town where he grew up.

Our first stop was to E. Cherry street. His grandmother, Betty Sanders, lived in the first house on the street – 652 E. Cherry Street. However, her house is no longer there, it is now the empty lot you see in the picture, to the left of the driveway. So, I took a few pictures and pasted them together. It’s not a great paste, but it gives the idea of what her corner looked like. The two houses next to where hers was are very similar in shape and appearance to what hers was according to Kalonji.

I Love the Tennesse State Archives!

This past week has been filled with a lot of fun hunting for relatives of my stepmother. Her family reunion was this past weekend and I connected with a few of her family members who are also into genealogy. Then, I had a chance to make a quick trip to the Tennessee State Archives and it was a VERY productive 45 minutes!

Some of what I gathered:

  • Abandoned Cemeteries of Stanly County – My stepmother is a Frye and last month, her cousin was able to find the mother of their earliest known ancestor. It turned out that the ancestor, Maggie Fry, is white. So, I’m researching her family, the Fry’s of Stanly County. In this book, I found information on the Fry family cemeteries there, but Maggie is not listed. However, other members of her family are listed. Additionally, another branch of the family, Crowell, is from this county. So, I’m beginning to track the white Crowell families in hopes of making a connection. Found some cemetery listings for Crowells.
  • Stanly County, North Carolina, Marriages – More Fry’s, Crowell’s and a couple of other surnames located. Found the marriage record of a relative of Maggie’s.
  • Kershaw County, South Carolina Cemetery Survey – two days ago, I found a post on the Ancestry Kershaw County board of someone who was willing to do lookups in this book. She provided me with information for some of the Reid’s in my stepmothers tree. So, I had to go look at the book myself after discovering TSLA had it. There are several family members listed in the book along with more clues to follow.
  • Rowan County Cemeteries – this was a multi-volume set, like 8 volumes or something like that! I only had about 5 minutes to look in it, but I struck gold! Tony’ Reid’s burial plot is listed and the book provides the names of his wife’s parents. His wife was Elizabeth “Bettie” Parker and her parents were Wiley and Lucinda Parker. Tony’s birth year as listed in the book is wrong, but that’s okay. I know from census records when he was born.
  • Marriages of Rowan County, North Carolina: 1868-1900 - Jackpot! Found out that Tony Reid and Bettie Parker were married November 15, 1871.
  • Rowan County: a Brief History – was interested in this as it had a few pages on the history of Gold Hill. Gold Hill was the community around the gold mines in Rowan County that were the first docmented gold mines in the US. Tony Reid lived in Gold Hill and in 1880 his occupation is miner and farmer, so I’m guessing he may have worked these mines.
  • Somebody Knows My Name – went back to this classic to get the marriages of Rowan County. Unfortunately, the book does not cover Cabarrus or Stanly counties. Located a couple of people of interest, but can’t be sure of anything yet.

Amazing day! Now, to start analyzing all of this…

Also, I created a database of books that I want to keep track of. I found I was having difficulty managing what books I wanted to make sure I kept note of for future lookups, where they may be located etc. Once I get it more developed, I’ll blog about it more in depth.

I’m Published!

Yesterday in the mail, the latest issue of the Washington County Genealogical Society Newsletter arrived and I am now officially published! This is the only society I am a member of so far, and I submitted an article for the newsletter about using Google Patents and they published it. Whippee!

Now, they made a point to make a call for family group sheets and genealogies, so I plan to next submit some of my family information for them. This is cool.

More Family History

This weekend was my stepmother’s family reunion and now that I’m genealogy obsessed, I approached it from a completely different perspective. Some of her ancestors have some interesting stories. In particular, they handed out information on the history of the Reid patriarch, Tony Reid. With the additional information, I was able to find Tony and his family in the 1910 and 1920 census.

Now, I’m working through additional details trying to verify the oral history. One fact in the oral history is that Tony had an uncle named Solomon Bean Shad who worked and earned enough to buy his freedom from his master, Mr. Bean. Shad was Tony’s father’s brother. In that 1870 census record that I suspected was Tony (despite he being listed with his mother’s last name of Crowell), I now do feel that it is him as on the same page, is Solomon Shad living in the household of a John Palmer. Living with Tony and his mother is an Eliza Parker.

So many more things to research, but I enjoy looking. I also have another contact who is researching african-american crowell’s from Cabarrus County and I found a post of his on Afrigeneas that mentions that the white Reid’s of the county opened a gold mine. Further research there reveals that it was the first documented gold find in the US. In 1880, Tony’s occupation is listed as Miner – he must have worked in that mine!

I need to add these resources to my “get” list:

1. Golden promise in the Piedmont : the story of John Reed’s mine – by Richard F. Knapp
2. Gold mining in North Carolina – by Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass
3. Reed Mine Guidebook – by Linda Funk
4. The first gold rush: [a master plan for Reed Gold Mine] – by US National Park Service

Tony Reid/Reed and his mother Winnie Crowell

Another story from my stepmother’s family — One of their ancestors was Tony Reid/Reed. I first learned his name when I received the death certificate for my stepmother’s grandmother, Daisy Fyre. It stated that her father’s name was Tony Reid, but that the mother was unknown.

When I spoke to my stepmother’s aunt, she told me a story about Tony that matched information also received from my step-uncle the other day. The story about Tony is that he saw his wife to be and asked his master to buy her. He worked seven years in order to “make” enough money so they could get her.

Information from my step-uncle from a cousin of his is that Tony was a slave of Miles Reid. Tony’s mother was named Winnie Crowell and she was sold to Miles Reid. This was in a town called “Tucker” in Stanly County. Winnie also had a son named Ambros that was sold to a plantation in Georgia and she begged her master, Miles Reid to keep Tony. Tony lived from about 1834-1926. Tony and his wife, Betty Paker, had 13 children.

So, before I received this information, I had not found Tony in any census records. Turns out, I had not been looking in the right place.

  • With the names of Crowell and Reid, I began to do some general internet searching for any relationship between these names. I found out that a white woman named Ann Reid had married a white man named Jennings Crowell and they lived in Stanly county. Good to know about.
  • 1870 Census – since I had not located Tony, I decided to look for his mother. A census search quickly found her! In Cabarrus County, NC (Concord) are living a 50 year old Winnie Crowell and a 30 year old Tonney Crowell. I began to suspect this was them as there were no other Winnie Crowell’s to be found. Living with them is a 14 year old girl named Eliza Palmer. Is this Tony’s wife to be? The age difference is about 15 years.
  • 1880 Census – 41 year old Tony Reid and 24 year old wife Elizabeth are living in a township called Reed Misenheimer’s in Cabarrus County, NC. So, his wife is about 15 years younger! I do believe the Eliza Palmer living with them is his wife to be. At this point, they have 4 children – 7 year old daughter Frances L., 5 year old son John W., a 5 year old daughter whose name is hard to read, and a 3 year old daughter, Hattie. Tony’s occupation is listed as a miner and a farmer and it is noted that he cannot right.

    Now, interestingly enough, the next household is headed by a black 40 year old man named Amos Melcher? He is married to 33 year old wife Adeline H. They have 7 kids – 15 year old son Thompson, 13 year old daughter Georgianna, 12 year old daughter Dora, 10 year old son Horace, 8 year old son Buckie, 7 year old daughter Mary E., and a 4 year old daughter whose name I can’t read. Right next to them is a woman named Weensy/Wenny Crowell, age 55 and listed as Mother. She is in a household to herself, so whose mother is she? Amos’? If so, that would be Tony’s brother! Is Georgianna so named because he spent time in Georgia? Questions to further investigate!

  • 1870 again – so, I go back to 1870 now that I have the name Amos to see how close he is to Tony & Winnie. I found him, but he is not living near Winnie and Tony.
  • 1900 Census - Found Tony & Bettie! He’s enumerated as “Loney” in Ancestry’s database.

Stay tuned…

Scippio Motley

One of my stepmother’s ancestors was Scippio Motley. His wife’s name was Jane Johnson Motley. Scippio or “Sip” was her great-grandfather.

Last month, I spoke with one of her aunts who told me the story about how Sip died. She informed me that Sip and Jane had several beautiful girls and the family lived in a wooden hut in Kershaw County, South Carolina. There was apparently a local white man who wanted one of Sip’s girls, which of course, Sip was against. When the girl was about 14, the man came around to the house to get her and Sip shot and killed him. After this happened, he had to go on the run, so he fled the home and lived in the woods for the next three or four weeks. While in the woods, he contracted pneumonia, so came home one evening to recuperate, get warm, etc. It seems other local white men in the area were watching for him, so that night when he came home, they came to the house and shot and killed him in front of the fireplace. According to my step-aunt this happened about 1910.

So, I have been working to collect documentation about Sip and his family. So far, I only have two census records:

  • 1880 census record – shows Sip age 20 and Jane age 20 with two children, Elliot who is 2 and McKnight who is an infant, born in January of 1880.
  • 1870 census record - for Sip’s mother, Margaret, who is 55, with three others in her house – a 13 year old Daniel, 9 year old Lucy and 12 year old Delia. Family information has Margaret as Sip’s mother, so is Daniel = Sip? Not sure? But, in 1880, Margaret lives three doors away from Sip and Jane.
  • Sip’s daughter Pearl is my stepmother’s grandmother, and from her 1930 census record, a brother named Vernon is listed as living with her and her family.
  • Then, when I talked to my stepmother’s aunt, she told me that Pearl also had a brother named Frank.

I have not found Sip & Jane in 1900 or 1910 yet. I found a possible match for Jane in the 1900 census – living in the right county, about the right age, but this Jane is listed as having three children – an 18 year old daughter named Daisy, a 12 year old son Clarence and an 8 year old son Frank. The issue here is that there are several children missing if this is her, including Pearl?

This is going to take more work!

15 Days

Since my last post. Wow. Haven’t gone for that long of a stretch in awhile. Well, I haven’t exactly been focusing much on any genealogy these past couple of weeks. We went to Alabama a couple of weekends ago to visit Kalonji’s family and since we’ve come back, I’ve redirected my attention to my first love – cross-stitching.

However, I have a family reunion coming up this weekend – my stepmother’s family has this reunion every two years. I’ve been working on her genealogy off and on and her brother has been doing some lookups lately, so the remainder of this week, I’ll be focusing on their tree.

Interesting tree too! They actually have stories of their slave ancestors! I’ll share them later on…

More about Dred

Since my last post, I’ve been spending the week looking for more information about Dred Wimberly, and doing some further analysis of the information that I do have. I posted that I think he is the brother to my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah Wimberly. My connection is circumstantial at best, but let me share why I think this and I’ve love to hear any feedback from anyone who may be reading. Am I making too much of this?

Here is a list of reasons for my theory on why I think he is the son of Allen & Della and why I suspect Mariah to be his sister and also their child.

  • The 1930 census record for Dred’s family, has him living with his sister, Annie E. Wimberly, who was born about 1867. In 1870, Dred lives two doors away from Allen & Della and Allen & Della have a daughter named Annie who was born about 1867. In the 1870 census for Tarboro, Edgecombe County, the only Annie Wimberly is this daughter of Allen & Della’s. The fact that Annie is Dred’s sister is further confirmed by an article in the Raleigh, NC News & Observer from 1937 that I obtained from the University of North Carolina this week. (I’ve ordered his death certificate and expect it this week…)
  • Dred named two of his children Allen & Della. He also had kids named Lucy, Frank & Annie. Allen & Della also had children named Lucy, Frank & Annie (Dred’s siblings)
  • In 1880, Dred lives two doors away from Allen & Della again.
  • Mariah also lives two doors away from Allen & Della in both the 1870 and 1880 census records and she is of age to be their daughter given that I know from the book, Somebody Knows My Name, that Allen & Della got “married” about 1841/1842.
  • Both Mariah & Dred have a son named Andrew.
  • Mariah had two children named Louisa and Joseph – Allen & Della had two children named Louisa and Joseph (would have been her siblings)

So – that’s what I’ve gathered so far. Mariah died in 1910, and I’ve not been able to locate any death certificate for her. I also checked the newspaper for the city where she was living and did not find any notice. But, I have hand-searched the census for all of Edgecombe County in 1870 and the way the proximity of the three families (Rufus & Mariah, Allen & Della, Dred and his family), all make sense.

Now, apparently, Dred has a history which resonates with me as I received my library degree from the University of North Carolina. There seems to be a story from him and from the son and grandson of Kemp P. Battle (former president of the University of North Carolina), that during the time period when UNC was closed and they were seeking more appropriations to re-open the university, that Dred gave the deciding vote for the appropriations, thus the school was able to re-open. However, it seems that Dred’s account, and Kemp’s son’s and grandson’s account conflict with NC records and the history of the University that Kemp wrote. The documented records have the appropriations being decided and voted upon during a time when Dred was not in office. I will definitely be researching this further!

But, in the meantime, I continue to collect all that I can find about Dred. And, there have located several items:

  • UNC Clipping File – the North Carolina Collection at UNC had a few newspaper articles about him that they sent to me.
  • Battle Book – the TN State Archives has the published family history of the Battle Family. It is a two-volume set written by one of Kemp’s sons. In this book there is a picture of Dred.
  • Dred’s gravesite – Just last year in Rocky Mount, NC, his headstone was found as there was a clean-up going on of the cemetery where he is buried. This article in the Rocky Mount Telegraph reports on it, and there is a picture of Dred’s daughter, Della’s, headstone.
  • In 1967, a state historical marker was made and put up in front of Dred’s home for his role on the NC General Assembly and State Senate and his positive voting record for education. You can see it by going here and doing a search for Dred Wimberly.
  • Hall of Fame – and, the Tarboro Daily Southerner just ran a story this march that indicates Dred was inaugurated into their local Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Biographical Profiles – and, I have two biographical profiles of Dred. One is from the NC Dictionary of Biography that I was able to get as Vanderbilt has this full-text online and one from the book Ninety Bits of North Carolina Biography that I ordered and was delivered to me just yesterday.

I’ve been a busy bee haven’t I? But, I now will proceed with ordering certificates for Dred’s suspected family members and ordering microfilm of the newspapers of the county during his time in the General Assembly and State Senate to see what else I can find!

Overwhelmed!

I am so overwhelmed right now! The feeling I am experiencing is absolutely incredible. Why am I feeling so?

Today I received in the mail a book that I’d ordered. The book is “Echoes of Edgecombe County: 1860-1940″ by Monika S. Fleming. I ordered the book because one set of my ancestors, Rufus Tannahill McNair and Maria Wimberly McNair were from Edgecombe County. I have been interested in trying to find out more about their possible slaveowners (which I have posted about before). Well, part of my theory is that Maria’s parents were Allen Wimberly & Della Battle.

In this book by Ms. Fleming, pg. 92 has a picture of a Dred Wimberly, born around 1848 and was a former slave of the James S. Battle Family/Battle Plantation. This is the same plantation that Allen Wimberly was part of.

After seeing this entry, I went back and reviewed my notes that I have on the Wimberly family and I can say that based on what I have, I am of the opinion that Dred is the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah. I have a major training session at work tomorrow that I have to prepare for, so I can’t research this as much as I normally would have tonight, but I cannot wait to get back to this! Based on some quick Google searching, I have found many other leads for resources I need to secure to keep learning more about Dred. This is so cool.

I think that I would like to formally write up how I’ve come to these conclusions and the research I’ve done and get it professionally examined.

Cold Calls

I’ve done a little reading online about how to go about the process of making cold calls to relatives in search of genealogy information. Yesterday, I finally worked up the nerve to call serveral relatives of mine on the McNair side and I am so glad that I did! I spoke to four McNairs all living in my grandmother’s hometown of Plymouth and they are all aged 75 or older.

It was an amazing experience for me. I learned some of the history of how the McNair family reuntion got started. I learned the circumstances surrounding my great-grandfather’s death and who found him. I learned more about some great-uncles of mine that I’d never met. All in all – I spent about three hours on the phone with the relatives and am very glad that I made contact.

I definitely plan to keep the relationship open too. It is so important to capture their memories and their knowledge and I’m so glad to have had this opportunity to further enrich my family tree. So now, I have work to do in following up with each of them. I plan to mail them some of the information I’ve gathered to use as a springboard for further conversations. Wish me luck!