Craven Co. (NC)

Found a Cousin In An Old Yearbook

I love when I come across small gems.  One of my side projects is to index names from the North Carolina college yearbooks that the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has been actively adding online.  I do this to put them in a searchable database for the NCGenWeb Project.   Along the way, I find people of interest (including the father of a work colleague) and tonight I’ve found a cousin!

I won’t put her name on the photos but check it out.

Cousin in 1947.  From her yearbook photo I see that she has the characteristic “long hair” that ran in the family due to her great-grandmother being Native American with hair down her back (as described by a descendant that knew her).   I’ve not met my cousin whose pictures are below, but she lives only 4 hours away from me and I do hope I have the chance to meet her one day.

and in 2002.

She’s My Aunt Too!

I can’t believe I’m only getting around to posting this, but last week I had a great connection on my Koonce ancestry.  I was contacted by a distant cousin after she saw my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce, on my tree on Ancestry.com.  She sent me a message and we were able to speak the same night (I’ll refer to her as KM).  We were both so excited to find each other!

It turns out that she and I share ancestry from Isariah/Mariah Koonce (b. 1839  – 1919?) of Craven County, North Carolina.   I am descended from Isariah’s daughter Caroline, who was Barfield’s mom.  MK is descended from a sister of Caroline’s whom I never knew about — her name was Fannie.   MK had been home over the Thanksgiving holidays visiting her great-aunt Mary Koonce and Mary shared with her handwritten notes she’d done about the family tree.

Mary’s list is not quite in family tree format, but the names of my family members are on it. When I started telling MK how I’d come to verify that Caroline was Barfield’s mom – namely by working on information shared with me by a cousin that Barfield had a sister named Agnes, MK replied that yes, Agnes was on her great-aunt’s list!

Here’s a snapshot of Mary’s notes:

my Barfield is there, his mom Caroline, along with his sister Agnes  – and then Isariah is there too as the mother of Fannie.  It was so much to take in!

From MK, via her aunt, I learned that Isariah’s father was white and that the slave master had taught daughter Fannie to read and write.  There are other family stories as well that she shared, including some suspicion that even though Isariah married James Koonce, James may not have been Fannie & Caroline’s birth father.  What?? You mean I’m not a Koonce after all?  I can’t wait to further explore these areas of potential research with MK… utterly amazing!

MK also shared that Mary was married to Harvey Koonce, who was related to Barfield Koonce but she wasn’t sure how.  As  I looked back over my notes, I realized that Mary’s husband Harvey “Lamb” Koonce (1920-1982), is the brother of my grandfather, William Koonce Sr. – MK’s great-Aunt Mary is my great-aunt too!   Wow.  :-)

Headstone of my great-uncle, Harvey Koonce. Buried in Mitchell Cemetery, Craven County, North Carolina

I am very much looking forward to continual correspondence and research with MK – my newly found cousin.

CoAAG Carnival: Research Connections

The topic of the first Carnival of African-American Genelaogy prompts us all to consider our individual roles in slave research. Luckie, our gracious carnival host, provides four topic areas to choose from for this initial go-round.   I have chosen to blog about the following:

As a descendant of slaves, have you been able to work with or even meet other researchers who are descendants of slave owners?

To this question I would definitely have to yell a big resounding YES!  My Koonce ancestry is the line that in many ways to which I feel most connected and I’ve researched my family back to former slaves of Jones & Craven counties North Carolina.  Though I’ve not yet found my exact slaveowner, I have narrowed it down to a few potential candidates, both white Koonce men of Jones County.   I am so connected to my Koonce name that I decided this past year to start a surname-focused blog about Koonce families.  Well, since starting the project I have been able to connect with many different Koonce researchers & families, both black & white, and one of the highlights of this whole experience was the research trip I took to a nearby city with John Paul Koonce

Taneya Koonce & John Paul Koonce

John invited me to go with him and his wife to Fayetteville, TN in April 2009 (read more on my blog post about it) and we had a great time! John is a descendant in the white Koonce lineage of which my potential slaveowners likely belonged to and for years was active in all things Koonce-genealogy related – even publishing a newsletter for a brief period of time.  He’s still involved in Koonce genealogy matters and I look to him as a wonderful resource for information.   We have worked together to locate information on various Koonce families and though there’s not been a specific connection yet to my own Koonce family, I have enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

Additionally, I’ve had so many other encounters with white Koonce descendants and received nothing but the kindest words of encouragement and appreciation for all the efforts being made to help us understand the joint family history more thoroughly.  Slavery was not a pleasant time for our history, but hopefully, the more we all continue to make connections and bridge gaps in our collective knowledge of our ancestors.

Connections Like Wildfire

Just a quick post this time, but I’ve had so many connections come out the woodwork this week from sharing family tree information online it’s been crazy.

  • got an email from a possible cousin based on her husband’s lineage from former slaves on the Kemp P. Battle plantation in Edgecombe County, NC where my 4th great-grandparents were also slaves.  There may be a blood connection between the slaves, but we aren’t sure and so are beginning to work collaboratively on trying to figure it all out.  She found me based on a blog post I did after Robyn sent me some labor contract information
  • was contacted through Ancestry from a cousin who is descended from a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather,  Edward Kilpatrick of Craven County, NC.   I did not have any additional information for his sister Caroline, but through the cousin, I learned that she married a gentleman named Robert White and they moved to Pitt county.  More information to add to the family tree!
  • got a follow-up email related to my stepmother’s Frye ancestry.  We think we have linked her tentative 3rd great-grandfather Leonard Frye to a very large Frye family w/ ancestry going way back. more to do on that line…
  • through my genealogy site was contacted by a Koonce descendant. No relation to me, but since I collect Koonces I have part of his family tree on the site.  I will begin adding his branch to the tree later this weekend.  He is descended from Phillip H. Koonce of Shelby County, Texas.
  • was contacted by someone interested in the spouse of someone who’s tree I’ve been working on as the Picot family associated with Washington County, NC – one of my GenWeb projects.
  • my cousin emailed me tonight to call my great-uncle.  He is a brother of my maternal grandmother and is very interested in helping to figure out the origins of his Lawhorn surname.  I called him and he saw an obituary in a nearby city paper of a woman whose last name was Lawhorne and informed me as a possible lead.  He said his father told him that his father came from Georgia, but we are still working on that. It was great to talk to him too!

All of this has been in the last 4 days.  I have hardly had time to follow-up on all of these leads, but I hope to squeeze in some time this weekend.  I’ve got major projects due for school over the next couple of weeks and have a couple of activities planned on the weekend, so we’ll see.  I haven’t even watched the tonight or last week’s episodes of Faces of America yet!

Home Microfilm Digitization

I know I shouldn’t be shopping for me, but, an opportunity presented itself to me this afternoon and I could not say no.

Background: Last week I emailed a co-worker of mine who has years of photography experience to ask a question. I wanted to know how I could rig a set-up like this.

PhotoMicrofilm

so that I could capture my own digital images of the microfilm of old newspapers I’ve purchased in the past few years.  The picture you see is the setup that a gentleman named Joel Weintraub. Joel shared the details of this setup in the comments section of a blog post by Dick Eastman on the ST-Genie Microfilm Converter.  I’ve been interested in the type of converter Dick posted about for awhile now, but the cost has been greatly prohibitive for me ($1000+).  Over the past few years, I’ve been transcribing old newspaper issues and creating online indices/blogs for them for wider dissemination but b/c of the expense of digitizing them, I only have about 8 rolls total of microfilm.

When I shared this with my coworker, he offered another, cheaper suggestion — try  a gadget that converts slides & 35mm negatives to digital format.  Hmm.. I guess I am working with 35mm microfilm after all? He sent me several different types and I’d planned to do some further research until I could learn more about them.  Well, today, while at Bed, Bath & Beyond of all places, I just happened to see this device from VuPoint Solutions:

VuPoint Converter

VuPoint Converter

The converter offers two resolutions for image capture – 1800dpi and 3600dpi.  At 1800dpi, I can take more than 6400 images and store them on my 4GB SD card.  This resolution works okay from what I can tell, I’m not sure yet if I need to go up to 3600.

As you can see from the picture, it is designed to be used for slides and 35mm negatives, and that tray didn’t look like it would be too easy for microfilm to work well, but I bought it anyway just to experiment.  And, experiment I have. The microfilm is thin enough that it does slide around well in the slide tray.  So far, it seems the biggest problem I have is that the dimension of the image capture area is not quite big enough for each frame of microfilm.  So, I’m having to rotate the image and take two pictures for each frame.  I appreciate having the viewfinder, so I can at least see how it lays out on the screen, but I cannot see the detail of the newspaper issue.

For items in the paper, such as advertisements, I’m pretty much okay with the quality.  Here is an example of an ad from G.S. Waters & Sons of Newbern, Craven County, North Carolina for their buggy business.

waters

The newspaper article text is another story.  The quality I’ve captured so far is not good enough for posting the actual image, but it is good enough for me to read, transcribe and enter into my databases.  Here is an article from the August 3, 1912 issue of the Kinston Free Press about a man named Henry T. King from Greenville that mentions his work to write a history of Pitt county.

king

Yes, the process will probably be tedious, for after capturing the images, I then need to collate the images into newspaper issues, but I rather like working hands on with the images.  If I were to send the roll out for digitization by a commercial entity, it would cost me anywhere from $70-$100 per roll and ultimately, that probably does save me time in the long run.  However, I’m not in this for volume, but rather to enjoy the experience and reading through these old newspapers, so we’ll see how I adjust over time.  This particular converter was $100 and the SD card was $40.

I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow and thank my coworker for providing me with this suggestion!  If you’ve used one of these, I’d love to hear your experience.

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!

True Inspiration!

A couple of days ago, I discovered a new genealogy blog – Robyn’s blog, Reclaiming Kin.  I found her through Randy’s “Best Of the Genea-Blogs” post from Sunday.  Well, yesterday she posted on using court records for research and her experience of looking at records in Edgecomebe County, NC inspired my Tombstone Tuesday post of the gravesite of Kemp Plummer Battle, a resident of Edgecombe County whom owned some of my ancestors.

Well, last night Robyn emailed me stating that she had information to share regarding Kemp.  We spoke on the phone last night and it turned out that she had a great discovery!  The name Kemp P. Battle sounded familiar to her, so she went through some of her files and sent me a wonderful document.

Last year, while visiting the North Carolina State Archives, she’d transcribed some labor contract records from the Freedmen’s Bureau (M1909, Roll #56) which included some records of former slaves of Kemp’s.  The labor contracts were for work in the two years following the Civil War and Robyn explained that some were very formal, others were very casual.  In some cases, family clusters were maintained.

Among the transcription was my 4th great-grandfather, Allen Wimberly! Here is the list she provided:

Joe Battle, Henderson Dorsey, Jason Spicer, Jim Lawrence, York Lawrence, Jim McNear, Allan Wimberly, Alfred Wimberly, Joe Wimberly, Haywood Battle, Lewis Battle, Redding Battle, Norfolk Battle, Isabella Battle, Hardy Battle, Orph Battle, Jason Battle, Sarah Battle, Jerry Battle, Norfleet Dancy, & Illiad Dancey.

In addition to my own Allen Wimberly, some of these names I have seen previously in census records and county cohabitation records. I am not sure how they may connect with my own family, but I certainly need to continue to put these pieces together.  I also note the name “Jim McNear” which may be a variant of my McNair surname — Allen’s daughter Mariah married Rufus McNair; and Rufus I suspect to be a slave of Dr. Augustus Harvey McNair.

I am very excited about this and during the course of our conversation, Robyn stressed the need to take advantage of local Family History Centers for access to records. While I’ve known I need to do this, I have not managed to follow-through with actually ordering any records.  There are two locations in my county and they both are about 45 minutes away from me, but I’m going to have to just go!  So, one of them is open the 3rd Saturday of each month, so I hereby resolve to take a field trip this Saturday to go and place an order for at least two films.

Here is my 1st list of film to work through.  It may take me several months since I will probably order only two at a time, but at least I have some identified right?

Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Original wills Ausley, Joseph – Bryan, Thoma Film #1548856
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Original wills Killibrew, John I. – Middleton, S. O. Film #1571217
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Estate records 1748-1917 Barnes, Archelaus – Battle, Joe Film #2069673
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County):  Estate records 1748-1917 Battle, John – Bell, Bythel Film #2069674
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Estate records 1748-1917 Law, William – Mayberry, Charles Film #2070395
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County):  Estate records 1748-1917 Williams, Henry – Winstead, Richard Film #2070963
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Index to wills 1779-1964 Film #386902
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Wills 1760-1842 Film #19228
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Wills 1778-1868 Film #19238 Items 1-3
Pre-1914 cemetery inscription survey, Columbus Co. (NC) Film #882937 Item 11
Pre-1914 cemetery inscription survey, Martin Co. (NC) Film #882938 Item 25
Civil actions concerning slaves and free persons of color (Craven County, North Carolina), 1775-1885 No Film # in record
Craven County, North Carolina, pre-Civil War slave related papers, including petitions for freedom, 1775-1861 Film 2299351 Item 2

This will be quite intersting. Thank you Robyn for an exciting discovery and for inspiration!

Saturday Night Fun This Week

I’m feeling all inspired again with my genealogy blogging! I’ve gotten some great thoughts from reading others’ blogs. For this post, I’m taking Randy up on his last Saturday Night Fun quest, Where Were They in 1909?

The task was as follows:

1) Which of your ancestors were alive in 1909?

2) Tell us where your ancestral families were living in 1909. What country, state, county, city/town, etc. Who was in the family at the time? Use the 1910 census as “close enough.”

3) Have you found each of these families in the 1910 census?

Here is a brief synopsis of my ancesestral families and what they were up to in1909. To keep it simple, I’m going to go three generations back to my great-grandparents.

Barfield & Josephine (Holloway) Koonce – my father’s paternal grandparents were both alive and living in Craven County, North Carolina.  The family was from this area.  In 1909 they had been married for about six years and had two children, son Hampton and daughter Minnie.  The third child that appears in their 1910 census record would not be born until early in 1910.

William Lawhorn Jr. – In 1909, my father’s maternal grandfather was not yet born! He was born August of 1910, so his parents, Sam & Cora (Cox) Lawhorn were close to his arrival as their 3rd child.  His parents were also living in Craven County, NC and I have located them in the 1910 census. His future wife, Pearlie Kilpatrick, was not born until 1912.  I’ve found her too in 1910.

Lewis “Christopher Columbus” Robinson & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson – my mother’s paternal grandparents have thus far eluded me in the 1910 census.  I periodically search for them, but I’m not sure where to look for them! They were both from the Columbus County area of North Carolina, but by 1920 they’d moved to New York.  I do not know for certain when they were married, but their oldest child, Ethel,  was born in 1908 in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina.   Their next child was not born for another 5 years. I have located a man that fits his description (age, race, state of birth) in the 1910 census living in Trenton, NY as a hired man, but I’m not sure if this is really him or not.  If it is him, I suspect perhaps Lucinda may have been living with family with their young daughter? In any case, I’ve still got some searching to do.

Abraham Lincoln McNair– In 1909, my mother’s maternal grandfather was a 13 year-old boy living  in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina with his father and five siblings.  His mom, Gracy (Bullock) McNair seems to have passed by 1909 and soon after, his father would remarry.  His future wife, Martha Jane Walker, was 12 years old, living in the same town, with her own parents, Anthony Walker and Martha Jane Baker and 4 other siblings.  I have located both of them in the 1910 census.

So, of my 8 great-grandparents, only two were not yet born in 1909.  I obviously have work to do tracking Lewis & Lucinda down in 1910.  Very interesting to reflect on this.  Thanks Randy!

My Own Valentine

In honor of Valentine’s day, let me share my own Valentine, my ancestor and 2nd-great-grandfather, Valentine Lawhorn. 

Valentine Lawhorn was born about 1830 in North Carolina, and by the 1870 census, lived in Craven County, North Carolina.  I have not yet uncovered any information about who his parents may have been, and even trying to figure out potential slaveowners has been to date a challenge in my research.  I’ve not been able to locate any white Lawhorn families in the area, though I have seen a few McLawhorns. 

Valentine was married to Harriet (born about 1843) and as far as I can tell, they had 5 children.   For this side of my family, we do have an early Bible with listings of births, deaths, and marriages and there is one reference to Valentine in the bible – for his son Wright who was a preacher

lawhornbible

Valentine’s son Samuel Becton Lawhorn is my direct ancestor, the father of my grandfather, William Hew Lawhorn. 

Valentine passed away some time before 1900 as by then, his wife Harriet is listed as a widow and lives with her son Wright. I have no information about where Valentine may be buried either, but one day I hope to learn more about this family. 

Valentine’s name continues to be passed along in the family; his son Samuel named a son Valentine and my great-uncle named gave one of his sons the middle name of Valentine.