The Resemblance Is There

On Wednesday I posted a montage of pictures and asked if anyone could see resemblance among them. I got two comments on the blog, plus I shared the picture with someone else that I know who is very good at looking at people and seeing similarities. Consensus: there are similarities and I’ve confirmed that I’m not making it up just because I want there to be :-)

The people in the picture are from L to R:

1) General William Blount McClellan
2) Champ McClellan, my husband Kalonji’s great-grandfather
3) Idora McClellan (the General’s daughter)
4) Frances McClellan, Champ’s daughter and Kalonji’s grandmother

I’ve posted before that I have suspicion that one of the General’s sons may have fathered Champ, and there were comments that Champ does favor the General.  My “offline” friend commented that she in particular saw great similarity in the shape of Frances’ face and the General’s face. 

So, more info to add as I work towards getting the DNA test. Unfortunately, we still have not had the kit done just due to trying to balance family expenses, but I have it as part of my 5 year plan to get it done and track down male McClellan descendants in order to see if one of them would be willing. 

I was inspired to do this initial post upon being contacted by a researcher who is doing thesis work on Idora.  She even sent me a picture of the Idlewild Plantation that was the home of the General and his family.  

I wonder if Champ was ever there?

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!

My DNA quest begins!

I have previously posted about my husband’s McClellan ancestry and how I wish to do DNA tests to see if there is any match with the white McClellans.  To this end, today, I finally ordered the DNA kit from FamilyTree DNA and the kit will be shipped by week’s end! I’m so excited. To test the proper male descendancy, we are going to test a cousin of my husband’s. I chose the Y25 marker test as a starter. It wasn’t too expensive (especially with the surname group discounts/coupons) and I figured it was a good starting point for the number of generations I’m looking at.  I’ll post more as my experience continues. Now, I need to really do some bona fide DNA genealogy testing research!

McClellans of Alabama & Arkansas

Over the past several weeks I’ve been in touch with the coordinator of the McClellan Family Tree DNA Project about our interest in testing some of Kalonji’s DNA lineage. During the course of our exchanges, I learned that he had the McClellan’s of Alabama and Arkansas book done by Bobbie Jones McLane, who is a great-grandchild of William Blount McClellan.

This book is absolutely wonderful! It is full of the research she compiled from family documents, records, etc. and I can’t wait to really delve into it.  She put it together in 1962. On the front cover is a picture of the Idlewilde Plantation in Talladega. I still need to find out where this was located. So.. I’ve got enough McClellan information to keep me  busy for the next year!

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!

The Tennessee State Archives

I have just returned from the Tennessee State Archives here in Nashville and had some great finds! I first went to the archives last weekend as I was able to steal away a few hours to go. My primary reason for going there was to do some research for my friend on her family tree as her family is from East Tennessee. I have been pleased to find death certificates and some family tree information for her and today, I even started looking for information relevant to me and Kalonji’s tree.

One thing I did find that is pertinent to Kalonji, is a list of all the cemetery transcriptions for the cemetery in Talladega where he has family buried. However, there are of course, family members missing from this list as some of his family’s stones were overgrown with thick trees, and then some don’t have headstones at all. In fact, I meant to post about this last month, but our last trip to Talladega, Kalonji started clearing away the area around their stones. The picture below is what it looks like right now, but before he started, you would not have known those stone were there the branches and leaves were so thick.


Also today, I came across a black newspaper that used to be published here in Nashville. I’ve been thinking of a project I could do to help with the genealogy cause for African-Americans in Davidson County — I’m thinking I might do some indexing of this paper.

And, in other genealogy news, I haven’t been doing all that much with my own family. I haven’t written away for more records lately, I’m waiting for the holidays to go by. The records I want are mostly birth/death certificates from places that don’t offer uncertified copies, so they will be a bit costly by the time they all add up.

Burst Bubbles

Yesterday in the mail I received some microfilmed newspaper from Talledga, AL that I ordered from the Alabama Dept of Archives. I was so excited! I ordered this particular time period in hopes of finding an obituary for Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Champ McClellan. He was a well-known preacher in Talladega and I just “knew” there would be a great write-up about him.

Well, my bubble got burst. He died in 1961. Talledaga is definitely “the south” and given the time period, I should not have been surprised. The newspaper only reported on the African-Americans in town on Wed & Thursdays. The paper had a column called “The Activities of the Colored Citizens of Talladega” specifically for that purpose. Champ’s information was there but it was all of three lines. I do learn from this however that Champ seems to have a middle name that I had not seen previously – started with the letter C. hmm…..

However, this has sparked my desire to begin indexing this newspaper as well — if only I didn’t have a full-time job!