More on my Ambitious Goal

I have posted earlier how I would love to create a community genealogy site. Well, I started one – specifically, for Washington County,NC. What has been interesting though is I really feel I am getting a very deep sense of history for the county. As I’ve been doing the newspaper transcriptions, I have seen many names, some popping up more frequently than others. As I’m going through published resources and creating trees, it’s been really neat to see the families of these names I’ve seen come to life. Very cool.

I’m going to the state archives today. I am going to some more lookups for the MacNair/McNair family of Edgecombe County, NC as well as other tasks. Will post later.

Somerset Place

I have just learned some very interesting history of Washington County, North Carolina (a county where I am focusing part of my genealogy research).

I was looking at the 1860 slave schedules and found an entry for a Josiah Collins who owned 328 slaves and had 37 slave houses! This immediately piqued my interest and a quick search revealed that Collins owned Somerset Place, apparently, the third largest plantation in the state of North Carolina during the antebellum period.

Apparently, the site manager has done extensive research and written a couple of books about it. There is also an organization for slave descendants. I will have to keep my eye on this just in case I come across any slaves that may have been part of that plantation. The Official Website is at http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/somerset/somerset.htm.

A few resources for extra reading…
1. Generations of Somerset Place by Dorothy Spruill Redford
2. Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage – by Dorothy Spruill Redford
3. “Re-interpreting America’s History – African American History” by Kendra Hamilton
4. “Somerset Place – A Colossal Slave-Built Plantation” – by Bridgette A. Lacy

Genealogy Society Blogs

Randy has started a new blog for his genealogical society. I think this is such a wonderful idea and wish more societies would do so! I think it has fabulous potential for encouraging more online collaboration.

For my own genealogy, I am getting a bit discouraged with the Koonce family research. As I look through and document the wills and notices I’m reading, I see that there are very little and infrequent mentions of slave names. I am beginning to wonder if I’ll ever truly be able to connect my ancestors with any of theirs. However, I know I am only touching the tip of the iceberg with the county documents that are available, so I will continue to keep on looking.

Oh – and I love this!! I found out from a post on the Columbus Public Library blog that African-American Lives is having a casting call – they are soliciting applications for people to submit their genealogy research challenges as they are going to select a few (don’t remember how many) to have their genealogy researched as part of the next show. This is absolutely fabulous and I plan to apply. However, I’m a bit torn whether to submit Kalonji & I as a couple, or submit us separately? Hmm… will have to think about that one. However, I’d encourage people to submit. It’s great hearing the stories from the celebrities, but I know us “regular” people have good stories too! I hope this is made an ongoing series/process.

Various Genealogy Things

Over the past week, I have done various genealogy activities:

  • I indexed notices from three issues of the Free Press newspaper of Kinston (Lenoir County), North Carolina and four issues of the Roanoke Beacon Newspaper 0f Plymouth (Washington County), North Carolina. Found some very interesting notices too and decided to submit a few items from other parts of the state to some USGENWEB county pages, since I don’t include them in my database. Who knows whom it may help one day?
  • I worked on the family tree of my stepmother. After finding one of her elusive ancestors in a couple of census records (though, I still can’t find him in a couple more), I decided to call her aunt and ask a few questions. She gave me some great family stories.
  • I scanned in some certificates that I have in a pile from having ordered them, but not scanned or filed them. I still have many more, but I know I’ll slowly make my way through them.

Most of this activity has been focused during the past two days. During the week, I hadn’t really done too much b/c I’m trying to get a routine going with exercising and so I end up doing other things. I’m overall happy with how much I’ve gotten done this week.

Tonite, I am starting to put together the Koonce Family Tree. As I do this, I’m staring to question why I am interested in the one particular Koonce group that I am – there are so many! I’m going to have to write up my theory so I can document my reasoning/hypotheses. This is definitely going to be complicated.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to just get as much of these trees done as I can so that my next trip to the TN State Archives will be just as fruitful as my last trip!

Contributing to Genealogy Newsletters

So far, the only genealogy society that I am a member of is the Washington County Genealogy Society of North Carolina. This is the county that my maternal grandmother is from. I have been a member for a little over a year now and have enjoyed the ability to network with other genealogists there.

As I was working on the newspaper indexing, I came across a blurb that caught my interest and it prompted me to suggest an article for their quarterly newsletter. I wrote a short article about how patents can be a neat glimpse into the life of a person. A quick online search yielded few other posts or information about the genealogical merits of patents, but I did find a post by one of my fellow genealogy bloggers about a patent he found for one of his ancestors.

In fact, I did some searching in RootsWeb for another Plymouth, NC resident that had a patent and sent it to the person who was responsible for the gedcom. He was very kind and appreciated that I had sent it to him, as he had not been aware of it. I’ll wait until it is officially published before posting it here, but I expect it to be out in the next three months!

Interlibrary Loan

ILL is so cool. I should know, I’m a librarian :-)

Today, our branch library received the book that I’d requested through Interlibrary Loan – The History and Genealogy of Jones County, North Carolina. I’d ordered this book as the Koonce family I’m researching is of Jones County. This book is so cool! The way the family information is presented is in the same format as the Heritage books series. Then, following the family profiles, Ms. Harriett has created an index of people and clarifies the family relationships – we’re talking thousands of people. In the Introduction of the book, she mentions that she gathered all this data in the course of doing her own personal research.

I am about to really look more closely at it, but I know I’ll be making many photocopies this weekend from it – there is just so much information in it. If not for immediate use now, for future reference later.

More on the Holloways

In today’s mail I received another Social Security Administration Form OAC-790 that I’d ordered. This was for the sister of my great-grandmother Josephine, as I’ve been trying to fully verify their parents. I have posted before how I found early census records that led me to further confirm Josephine’s parents, but I’d like to take this post to fully document my sources so far for her parents.

I am a fairly certain the Hargett above is a mistake, and yes, the form did have the Tom crosse out just as it’s shown. With this information(minus Dizzer’s OAC-790 which I just received), when I searched in the 1880 census, I looked in Wayne County, North Carolina (see previous post) for a family that had a 20 something year old Polly and a man named Thomas/Tom or David or James. The only family that I found that matched was one that had a Thomas as a head. Perhaps Thomas’ middle name was James? In any case, this does lead me to believe that he went by Thomas(Tom) and Polly Hood was definitely her mom’s maiden name and I feel more comfortable having the 1880 census information as part of my tree.

Is Priscilla a nickname for Polly? Josephine had a sister named Priscilla, so I’m also thinking their mother must have been a Priscilla “Polly” Hood?

Josephine had two other sisters that I know reached adulthood – Louise and Lilla Mae. I plan to follow-up by looking for these additional resources:

- Lilla Mae’s Death Certificate
- Lilla Mae’s SS-5/OAC-790
- Louise’s Death Certificate
- Louise’s SS-5/OAC-790

The problem is, I have to find out when they died!

Audio @ Ancestry

I have just read over on the Ancestry Blog that Ancestry has added the ability to add audio to your family tree. I tried it out and it is the coolest thing! Maybe I can convince some of my family members to do it and record some audio clips! You have to go try it out. :-)

In other genealogy news, I have two new acquisitions to my genealogy book collection.

I got Mills’ book because I need to learn how to standardize my citations, and I got the BCG book b/c I do want to learn how to write good family histories and I like the examples it provides. I’ve added them to my LibraryThing catalog. I see that 228 people in LibraryThing have the Mills book and 112 have the BCG book. Cool.

Ta ta for now… I’m off to do more research on this McNair family.

The Search Continues

I have been completely obsessed the past few days! But, I have to say, I am rather happy with where I stand with my searches thus far and I have more information to help me build up the family trees of the Wimberly and McNair families.

On Saturday night, I discovered the existence of a book written by a cousin to Robert Diggs Wimberly. The book is called Recollections of a Lifetime, and it was written in 1902 by Mary Katherine Killebrew. The book was republished in the 70′s by a person from this area of TN, so there was a copy of it at the Nashville Public Library. Mary Katherine’s father was Robert Diggs Wimberly’s brother. Robert was born in TN, so, their father had moved here in the late 1700′s and Robert moved to NC (where his father was from). Mary Katherine’s father stayed here, thus, she grew up in TN. The information in the book confirmed relationships for me, so I was very pleased to find them. I know now Robert’s family tree fairly well on his father’s side. I now need to start working in earnest on his mother’s side. I have put up the tree so far (I still have a lot of people to add) on my site.

Then, two nights ago, as I was searching for more information about the McNair’s, I found a book online in Ancestry.com written in 1928 called McNair, McNear, and McNeir Genealogies. It has 5 generations worth of the McNair family I’m researching! This book confirmed the grandfather of the McNair I was most interested in, Augustus Harvey McNair, and it had a ton of additional information about the family. Fascinating!

So, I do believe thoroughly understanding each one’s tree will help me once I get back into the county records. For example, I had a false lead earlier this week but now that I know the family tree, things are more clear.

Augustus’s brother, Hugh, reports having 7 slaves in the 1860 census. On the slave schedule, slaves numbers 5,6 and 7 had names next to them. One of the names was R Tannahill and there is a note that this person is from Virginia. I was beginning to get excited when I saw this b/c my ancestor is Rufus Tannahill! and, the age of the slave was about ten years off, but I was willing to accept it as him anyway. However, as I reflected more on the list, I realized that R Tannahill was indeed the slaveowner – it just happens that this slave was with Hugh McNair during the census. Slaves #6 and 7 on that list also have other slaveowner names other than Hugh. Each slavowner listed R Tannahill of Virginia, EB McNair of NC and another McNair of Virginia, are all family members of Hugh’s – R Tannahill is his nephew, Robert Tannahill (who in 1860 lived in Petersburg, Virginia), E B McNair is Hugh’s mother. I’m not sure who the third one is.
Alas, of course it was not going to be that easy!

But, as I look at the 1860 slave schedule for Robert Wimberly, I notice right away that he is enumerated right after Augustus’ brother, E.D. McNair and their brother, Ralph McNair. So, I plan to really focus more on these two McNair brothers as I move forward. If Rufus was with one of them, and if Mariah was with Robert Wimberly, the proximity of the white McNair/Wimberly’s might be meaningful!

More to come as I find it.

Further support for my suspicion

As I am building the tree for Robert Diggs Wimberly (the person whom I suspect owned my ancestor Maria), I am coming across a few more clues that I think lend support to my theory.

Before starting his tree, I had the following items to lead me to believe he may have been her slave owner:

  • Maria and her husband Rufus live right next to him in the 1870 census, which indicates that Robert had a real estate value of $17,000. One of the things I learned in Beth Wilson’s lecture was that with this amount of real estate value, it tended to indicate the person owned slaves.
  • There are only two other white Wimberly’s families in Edgecombe County, NC from 1850-1870 and they are the families of Robert’s sons, George & Joseph. His son George also has a large real estate value ($15,000).
  • The 1850 and 1860 slave schedules show that between them, Robert and his son George owned around 80 slaves. They were the only Wimberly slaveholders in the county.
  • I have a hypothesis that Maria’s father’s was Allen Wimberly (I could do a separate list for that, which I probably should), but Allen was married to a Della Battle as demonstrated by county cohabitation records and the Battle Plantation was near the Wimberly lands. I still have to do research of land and property to better understand this.

I think this is itself is already compelling, but I wanted to find out if I could actually find more information to support my hypothesis. Over the weekend, I’ve learned:

  • Rufus & Mariah had sons named Barnes and Sterling. Sterling is a Wimberly family name – Robert’s brother was named George Sterling Wimberly, and their mother had a brother named Sterling. Barnes appears to also be a family name as I now know that a relative of Robert’s mother married a Barnes who later would live on the Wimberly property in Edgecombe County. I do not yet know this exact relationship.

I can’t wait to see what else I discover and I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the available county records (another tip from Beth – scour all the available county records you can get your hands on.)