Koonce & Koonce Expedition – Part II

Back in 2009, I wrote about a day of Koonce-hunting in Lincoln County, TN with my buddy John P. Koonce. Yesterday, we were able to continue the adventure and an adventure it was indeed!!!

John was joined by his nephew Dan and the primary purpose of our trip was to look for the Grills-Koonce cemetery in Fayetteville. John has made several trips to look for it with no success.  We had it’s location based on a map produced by the Lincoln County Genealogical Society, but the cemetery is not visible from the road and would require some investigation. As we traveled down to Fayetteville, I looked the cemetery up in Find-A-Grave and was able to find GPS coordinates.  

satellite map


We traveled down Koonce Lane again (we did last time). However, because we had GPS coordinates and now have the great technology of Google Maps, I could see there was a side lane we could travel down in order to try and get closer to the cemetery, Stable Lane. We’d not done this back in 2009. But alas, we went down the lane and fencing creates a barrier to going on the property. Plus, there was so much growth, we couldn’t see much and even try and visually see a cemetery.

view down Stable Lane

And while there was a house at the end of the road, the gate was closed so that was a bummer. So, we turned around and decided to ask some of the neighbors if they knew anything about the cemetery. The first lady we spoke to had not been living on the street for long, but she gave us a recommendation for a family to go speak to. As were were back in the car heading to this family, we saw someone pulling onto Stable Lane – we were so excited! We thought it was perhaps the people who lived in the house.

So, we followed the truck down the lane. They saw us and stopped and upon talking to them, we discovered they were not the owners, but were there to look for the Grills-Koonce Cemetery also. Not only that, they were Grills themselves and had ancestors buried in the cemetery! How funny! A set of Koonces and a set of Grills looking for the Grills-Koonce cemetery at the exact same time! It was too much! 

Well, the homeowner at the end of the lane saw us there and came down. Her family has lived on the property for 70 years and she knew of the cemetery; had seen it herself before. She pointed in the general direction of it, but advised us to go speak to the person who owns the land on which the cemetery is situated, for permission to enter. Fortunately, the cemetery land owner lived down the street. 

going over the map for the cemetery

So, off our caravan went to go knock on the door of the cemetery land owner. Fortunately for us, she was home and even better, she offered to drive us right to the cemetery. And let me tell you, even with her directions for where to drive once we would have entered the land, there was NO WAY we’d have ever found it on our own. The picture below shows the height of the foliage as we drove through to the cemetery. 

the foliage we drove through to reach the cemetery

I approach the cemetery. See how high those plants are!

Once we arrived at the cemetery, we could definitely see how it has been left untended. Many graves were just about completely overgrown, and only a few were above ground enough to read. While we found headstones for Grills family members, we didn’t see any with Koonce, but we know at least two Koonces are buried there – Napoleon Polk Koonce and wife Elizabeth Brown Koonce – exact relationship to John & Dan still unknown. This means we have research to do.

But our new buddies, the Grills, found headstones for their family!

Grills family members

Afterwards, we had to take a group photo. Note – cemetery hunting is hard, sweaty work :-)

Grills & Koonces after visiting the Grills-Koonce cemetery

We were all excited to finally get to this cemetery.  The owner told us that the last time someone asked about it was about 15 years ago, but we have now been there! The Grills plan to come back and do some work to help get it cleared up and hopefully find some of the headstones currently covered. What a great time!

John, Dan and I also stopped at two other cemeteries while in town.  We visited the Kelso-Koonce-McCartney-McGee Cemetery again and Stewarts Cemetery. Lots of pictures were taken of Koonce headstones and I’ll be working on adding them to the Surname Project files. I’ve already added the interments we know about to Find-A-Grave (I tried to post pics to BillionGraves also, but the GPS signal was too weak).

Veteran’s Weekend Trip to the Nashville National Cemetery

This Veteran’s day I did not have a chance to blog about any veterans in my family, so I decided to honor the holiday differently.  I visited the Nashville National Cemetery yesterday and took pictures using the BillionGraves app.

In two hours I was able to take more than 800 photos – amazing.  Now, my work is done – the images are uploaded to the site and others are already transcribing them.  This is why I love BillionGraves – it is just too easy to be a contributor.  I even had the kids helping again :-)

Kaleya clears leaves in preparation for Jihad's photo-taking

Kaleya takes a picture

I wish I could share the map of the cemetery too and where I took pictures, but I had to add it to the BillionGraves database and it has not yet been added to the website.  However, here is a snapshot of my dashboard as of the end of the day today.  My next goal will be to hit 2000 pictures before the year is out.

My BillionGraves Dashboard as of 11/13/11


It Starts Young

While at Walgreens the other night, my six-year old sees cameras and says

Mommy, can I get my own camera so I can use it when we go to the cemetery?

Well, she definitely gets engaged when we go to the cemetery,  often asking to be in at least one picture and demanding me to take pictures of any headstone with flowers because they are “pretty.”

Just last weekend we were at the Nashville National Cemetery and asked me to take a picture of her with a headstone.

Kaleya at the cemetery - she specifically asked to take a picture.

Love it! She is a budding genealogist!  Some of my other posts with the kids w/ me at the cemetery:

Kaleya In the Cemetery

Over the holiday weekend,  I made DH take me to two local cemeteries so I could take a few pictures for Find-A-Grave.  We didn’t stay long – about an hour combined, but during that time I got many pictures for uploading.  Perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience was how involved Kaleya (who will soon be 6) got in the process!  She and/or Jihad have been to the cemetery with me before, but this was the first time she declared that she was going to take pictures too.   It was by chance because I asked her to hold my phone while I got my digital camera ready and off she went with the phone while I used the camera!

She had a ball.  From getting in close to take good pictures….

to brushing leaves off the headstones so that the names could be “read” (or in her case since she’s still learning to read.. “seen”)

she was such a great helper and enjoyed it.

Now, of course she still has a thing or two to learn about taking pictures :-)  Comments heard in the cemetery,

“Mommy — my shadow got in that one!”

or – “Ha, ha! my fingers were in the way!”

But, she did quite often get pictures that were excellent.

She’s definitely going back with me next time I go :-)  I was truly amazed.

Scribd Joins the Genealogy Bandwagon

Well now!  Here’s  another example of how much penetration genealogy is getting.   As I was uploading a document to Scribd.com, I saw that they have now added a designation under their Research category for genealogy!  That was not there a few weeks ago when I last uploaded a document and needless to say I am quite pleased to see it there.  I was getting tired of having to use History as the category of choice.   Of course it would help if they spelled genealogy correctly, but it’s a start right??  :-)

To explore all documents assigned to the Genealogy category – visit their browsing interface.   The browse page also suggests that this category is new as there are only 2 pages of documents so far; other categories such as History have over 200 pages to browse.  Check it out.  Upload your documents.  Help their Genealogy collection grow!

P.S. — What was I uploading? An index to a 1960s book of gravestone records for the Duplin County, NCGenWeb project.  I’m helping the new county coordinator rebuild the site and thought this would be of help for county researchers.

Update on NCGenWeb

Thanks everyone who commented on the NCGenWeb redesign and all of my other crazy activities.  Over the past couple of days I’ve continued to work on NCGenWeb “stuff” and am quite excited by all that is developing.   As I take the time to futher explore more of the county sites, I am finding information & connections that I did not even know was avaialable.

For example, I was speaking with the State Coordinator, Diane, who is also the County Coordinator for Craven County – that is the county my father is from.  In reviewing the cemetery photos she has posted to the site, I saw that she had my father’s family cemetery there, Mitchell Cemetery.  My father’s parents, along with many of his aunts & uncles and cousins are all buried there and I was ecstatic to see it.  I last visited the cemetery in 2006 when my grandmother died and while I’d taken pictures, I did not get everyone.  A couple of years ago, a FindAGrave volunteer posted photos in the cemetery, but it was nice to see Mitchell represented on the Craven site as well.

I was also corresponding with the County Coordinator for Henderson county on some technical matters and as I was reviewing that site, I noticed in the surname list the name Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick.   One of my ancestors, Silas Kilpatrick, is said by family tradition to have come from Black Mountain, NC, which is in a county next to Henderson.  We know that Silas was a slave within the white Kilpatrick family, but I had not yet had time to investigate any Kilpatrick associations on that side of the state, and since I was told Black Mountain, I would have likely focused on it’s county instead of the neighbor county.  Well, Kathy informed me that there is a white Silas Kirkpatrick  listed in the 1835 Poll Book, residing in Crabtree precinct of Haywood County NC which is not too far from Black Mountain! This is great and gives me another lead for my family research.

In addition, I posted on the NCGenWeb News blog about the Randolph County Coordinator setting up an RSS feed for the county site.  He already Twitters on behalf of the project so this is yet another avenue for further promoting the information available.   Also, I am helping two county coordinators better understand WordPress as an option for redesigning their county sites.

Exciting time in NC indeed!

A Little Piece of History

Very near to where I live right now is an old house with a historic marker out front. Next door is an old cemetery with some beautiful tombstones.  I’ve been driving by this house for months, always curious what the marker says and who is in the cemetery.  So, yesterday, Kalonji and I finally stopped.


I did not take a picture of the main house, but as we drove around the house, we realized that yes, someone did live there and yes, we were probably trespassing! I felt so bad. But,  then I thought – they must get people doing that every now and then…   The cemetery next door was in fact the DeMoss family cemetery. I took some pictures just in case it was not on FindAGrave, but to my delight the whole cemetery was there.  There are several obelisks, one of which is Abraham DeMoss (1779 – 1849) himself


I noticed that many of the men were masons, and only a few feet from the house is a Mason Lodge that I learned was built in 1855.  I’m sure the DeMoss family was involved in it’s founding.

Some Google searching revealed several sites with some information about the family – the Bellevue Harpeth Historical Association has recently restored Abraham’s father’s log cabin house and are working on a publication about the DeMoss family.  One tidbit about this family that I am particularly interested in was that I read that Abraham was killed in his dining room just after the Civil War by a former slave.  I must learn more about this….

McClellan Cemetery

Last weekend we went to Talladega and I took pictures at the cemetery where Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Champ McClellan is buried.  The cemetery is across the street from the house that Champ’s mother lived in and where Kalonji’s uncle currently lives at now, just off McClellan street.  The cemetery, McClellan Cemetery, had no entries in FindAGrave, so I’ve gradually over the past week added pictures of what I took to the FindAGrave site. I did not get every headstone, but I’ll continue when we next go back.

Contributing to FindAGrave is a great way to give back! If ever at cemetery take a couple of extra pictures, someone may be looking for that gravesite!

This must be the week of the Merrys!

This must really be the week of the Merrys because I had another great find today!  I received a notice in my email today that the Nashville Public Library posted an online index to a listing of more than 19,000 names of people buried in the Old Nashville Cemetery. The listings are drawn from a series of internment books held by the Metro Nashville Archives, 1846-1949. So, I decide to take a look and guess what I find – more Merrys.

It is difficult to be precisely sure of all the exact relationships, but I think it lists another four children of Nelson & his wife Mary, in addition to his mother.  Also, there are some other Merrys that I think may be related as they are buried in Nelson’s plot. I am confused though on precise locations, because, I have been to Nelson’s grave and it is not in the Old Cemetery, but it is listed in this database. I may have to call the Metro Archives or go see the books in person to understand more about locations.  Mt. Ararat, where Nelson is buried, does have an affiliation with the City Cemetery, but I think there is an issue with naming.  But to summarize who is listed in this database…

  • Clancy Cousins – died at age 18, 11 Mar 1850. States that she is free colored female, and sister of Nelson Merry, who is also noted as free. Her cause of death was Fever. It is correct that Nelson was free.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 14 Jan 1851. States that he is the son on “N. Merry” and died of Croope. Now, this could be either Nelson’s son, or a son of his brother, Napoleon.
  • Merry, infant girl – died 6 Oct 1854. States that she is the “daughter of Nelson Merry” who is a free colored man.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 12 Jan 1857. States that he is the son of “Ann Merry” who is a free colored woman. This may or may not be Nelson’s son. His wife Mary’s middle name was Ann, so it could be that her middle name was used in this instance, or the infant’s mother could be a different person all together.
  • Merry, Mrs. Sidney – died 26 Jun 1873. The only note on this one is box paid on Nelson Merry’s lot. This is Nelson’s mother!  From census records, I know that Sidney lived with Nelson in 1870, but she was no longer there in 1880. In the 1870 census, she is listed as being 80 years old, but in the 1850 census she is also listed as being 80. So, given the 1850 census date, I had already estimated her year of birth to be about 1770. This cemetery listing matches that and if she died in 1873, that would make her just around 100 years old! I can’t wait to go search for an obituary.

Now, these dates may be actually burial dates and not dates of death – I need to check that in the source books. But, in addition to these whom I think the relationship is clear, there are others:

  • Two infant children of a Jas. Hoss (or Sloss) that are on the lot paid by “N. Merry”
  • A 100 year old woman named Angeline Thomas that is on the lot paid by “N. Merry.” Her date is 24 Jan 1872.
  • A 29 year old man named William King who is listed with Sidney Merry and is also in “box paid by Nelson G. Merry”
  • An infant boy listed as the son of George Merry, who is listed as free colored man.
  • An infant boy listed as the son of a Francis Merry
  • Merry, Mary – died in 1855. The listing just says “Nelson Merry’s lot.”  She was 10 years old. I’m not sure who she is because in 1850, Nelson & Mary are only listed with one child, John Wesley Merry.

All of this gives me reason to really go back and research other Merrys in I can find them. How intriguing!  Now, the fun is not over. I decided to visit the website of the city cemetery and was happy to see that they are very involved in genealogical causes. They have posted a list of people buried in the cemetery whose descendants have contacted the cemetery, and they have a volunteer looking up obituaries of people buried there and they are providing links to those obits. Very progressive! If only more cemeteries would do this!