Koonce

My Friend is Also A Koonce Descendant

Last week, as a way to help a non-profit in which my sister is involved, I offered to do genealogy reports for two people if they donated $50 or more.  A deal I know! We created this wonderful ad to showcase the offer:

It then turned out that the 1st winner of one of my genealogy reports knows a good friend of mine. So, I’m talking to this friend of mine about it and he says “I should get you to do my family tree!!” Of course, I’m all over it.

Well, as I worked on his tree this weekend I discovered that he is also a Koonce descendant! It turns out he is the 5th great-grandson of a man named Killis Koonce. More details on my Koonce Surname Project blog. I just thought that was too cool.

 

A Possible Brick Wall Buster via the Digital Library on American Slavery?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Lisa Louise Cooke for the Family Tree Magazine monthly podcast! The theme of November’s episode is about busting through brick walls and Lisa interviewed me for a segment covering resources from the magazine’s 101 Best Websites list. Listen to Lisa, myself, and her other guests in the November 2015 episode to learn more about busting brick walls.

One resource I covered was the Digital Library on American Slavery. Covering the database was easy for me. As I stated during the podcast, it is one that is “near and dear to my heart” as it is a project out of UNC-Greensboro. I was raised in Greensboro so the city has a fond place in my heart. When this database first came out, I’d back then, found a record in it for whom I believe to be my family, but didn’t follow-up on obtaining the full petition until Sunday as I prepared for the podcast interview. I’m so happy I did follow-up too!

This image is excerpted from a North Carolina legislative petition (#21284706) addressed in the Jones County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in November 1847. Six white slaveholders, John S. Koonce and wife Susan, Isiah Wood and wife Elizabeth, Benjamin Brown, Asa Brown, Zachius Brown, Mary Brown, Orne Brown, and Isaac Brown (the last five being children in the care of Zachius Brown) appeared to request division of ownership of six slaves – they were requesting 1/8th share each. Obtaining that 1/8th share could have meant selling them and splitting the proceeds. The Digital Library on American Slavery provided the index, but through information on their page on “Obtaining Copies of Petitions,” I was able to get the full petition.

Well, the six slaves at hand here are James, Jonas, Mariah, Allen, Hannah, & Sarah (sometimes called Harriett).  I highlight three of these slaves’ names because they match names found among my own family!.  The reasons being as follows:

  • Independent of this record, I’d traced my Koonce line back to a former slave, James Koonce of Jones County.  From census records, I know James had two partners, Susan and then Isariah (sometimes appearing as Mariah in documents I’ve already located).
  • James’ mother was named Hannah.
  • From oral family history shared by a cousin of mine, Isariah/Mariah was probably just a Koonce by marriage, and may have been the offspring of a white Wood male family member. Given that this petition has both Koonce & Wood family members, it makes this an intriguing possibility for being tied into my family tree 
  • The name “Caff” appears next to Jonas’ name, and MY James’ first wife Susan was a “Craff” in documentation I have in my files. Could Caff/Craff be one and the same name?

I think I have already identified who John S. Koonce is (I’m thinking it is John Speight Koonce) and I found Isaiah & Elizabeth Wood in records as well. This is definitely something I need to research further! Perhaps this clue can lead me to busting my own brick wall! Research in action. 🙂

So, thanks to Lisa for the impetus I needed to finally request this record! And for my readers, be sure to check FamilyTree Magazine’s podcast page over the next few days to look for the November 2015 episode and hear the show!

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).

Photos with the Ancestors

During the July 4th weekend, I was so fortunate to be able to visit eastern NC again to visit my father’s hometown, Fort Barnwell and my maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plymouth, NC.

My visit to Fort Barnwell was my first time back since my paternal grandmother, Cora Lawhorn Koonce, passed away in 2006. So, I visited the Mitchell Family Cemetery where my Koonce family is buried and visited her graveside for the first time. Since Kaleya was with me, she had to take the requisite pictures with her family. She may not appreciate it now, but it is my hope that when she is older, she will be able to cherish the fact that she has visited the town where her grandfather grew up.

panorama view of Mitchell Cemetery

Kaleya with her 2nd great-grandparents, Josephine Holloway & Barfield Koonce

I also went to the Alum Springs Church cemetery so that I could take pictures of Cora’s side of the family – namely, my 4th great-grandmother’s headstone, Mima Gooding Kilpatrick.

My cemetery visits were short – I had only 30 minutes and then needed to head to the Kilpatrick Family Reunion, but I am so very glad that I had a chance to do this.

Just a couple of days prior, while driving on my way to the Outer Banks, I stopped in Plymouth, the hometown of my grandmother Alice McNair Robinson.  Her parents’ home, the home of Abraham & Mattie (Walker) McNair. The house, at 502 Wilson Street, is in very poor condition, but because it is there, I took Kaleya by and told her that her 2nd great-grandparents lived there.

in front of Abraham & Mattie’s home

I also took her around to the back porch b/c I have a photo of myself as a youngster on the back porch.

at the back porch

We then went over to the McNair Family Cemetery where Abraham & Mattie are buried, as well as our McNair ancestral couple, Rufus Tannahill & Mariah (Wimberly) McNair.

at Abraham & Mattie’s graveside

at the grave of Rufus & Mariah McNair

I told her there would be a quiz later – let’s see how long she remembers the details 🙂

Photos of my Grandfather!

I am completely ecstatic tonight! Over the weekend, my father visited his stepmother (whom he had not seen in over 20 years) and got some pictures of his father!  My grandfather, William Koonce Sr.,  passed away in 1976 when I was six months old, so I never knew him.  And, until tonight, I’d only seen about 3-4 pictures of him. So, I was so happy to see this pictures tonight!!!  This has absolutely made my week. 

Granddaddy & M

Granddaddy & M.

Isariah – I Know Your Lineage

Tonight, the 23andMe results have come back for a relative of mine – a gentleman for whom I am his 3rd cousin once removed.   At this point in time, his Relative Finder results are not back but his daughter and I spoke this evening about his results and we learned some interesting things!

Of particular interest for me was his mtDNA.  His maternal lineage is L3e2a1b. It is through this line that we are connected for he is the son of a female descendant of my 3rd great-grandmother, Isariah Wood.    Isariah is a paternal ancestor of mine, so I don’t have her mtDNA.  I am so pleased to know her lineage now!

However, this is a perfect example of needing a capacity as I described in an earlier post of being able to tag DNA sequences to specific individuals in a more shareable fashion than what we currently have with 23andMe.  Furthermore, tomorrow his Relative Finder matches should come in so I am particularly interested to see where we will match DNA.  Oh, the anticipation is killing me!  🙂

Note: Read my other blog posts on mine and my family’s 23andMe results.

 

Google News Archive Comes in Handy

Quick pointer to one of my other blogs for a post about the value of Google News Archive.  They may not be adding to their collection, but what is there sure is helpful!  Click on the image below to read it.

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!