Koonce

A Koonce & Koonce Expedition

Today I took my first “real” genealogy field trip! I met fellow Koonce researcher John & his wife Nancy today and we ventured down to Lincoln County, TN to do some cemetery searching and hopping.  I am absolutely exhausted this evening, but it was a great day.

John has been doing Koonce research for many years now and I contacted him a few months ago after learning about the Koonce to Koonce newsletter – he and some other Koonce researchers published it for about 4 years in the 90s.  He happened to be in town this weekend and it worked out that I could go with them down to Fayetteville, TN where John had helped secure a new headstone for Revolutionary War Soldier, Phillip Koonce.   We spent in all about 6 hours in town and thought it was raining off and on, we still were able to do quite a bit.  John was able to share with me information that he’d learned from previous discussions and time spent with a Fayetteville native, Robert Allen Gray.  The Koonce families of this county are not related to me.  They do descend from the same ancestors as the Koonce families I have as candidate slaveholders of my families, but since I’ve developed an interest in Koonces all over, it almost makes no difference to me 🙂

Stewarts Cemetery —  When we arrived, the first cemetery we went to was Stewart’s Cemetery.  This is a pretty large cemetery and we saw several Koonce’s buried there.  There was one corner of the cemetery that Robert Allen had told John had slaves and we saw a few headstones. Unfortunately, I did not remember to put my camera card in the camera so the pictures I took are on my camera’s internal memory and I don’ t know where my transfer cord is.  I took a picture of a couple of Koonce family members and saw the headstones of a few others.

Kelso-Koonce-McCartney-McGee. Cemetery – We then went over to the Kelso-Koonce-McCartney-McGee Cemetery where Phillip Koonce is buried. John described how about 7 years ago, Robert Allen took him here and showed him a piece of a wall.  They knew there must be a cemetery there, but it was completey overgrown.  John and Robert started searching through the brush and found headstones and from there, the work was begun to clear it. There is now an open space where you can see about 50 markers and the area is kept up by a local resident.  John ordered a govt headstone for Phillip and a nearby church had a refuneralization of sorts when it was placed.   Though they don’t know for sure Phillip is there, his wife and daughter’s headstones are there and there was an empty spot in between – likely spot for him to be.

From Fayetteville Trip
From Fayetteville Trip

Koonce Lane — then, we went down the road to Koonce Lane in search of the Grills-Koonce cemetery.

From Fayetteville Trip

This was a gravel road for the most part and along the way we passed this big pink house.  This used to the the home of Robert Manley Koonce, a descendant of Phillip and the home and land remained in the Koonce family until the 1950s.

From Fayetteville Trip

We kept driving a ways, but never found the cemetery; though from a map John had, we knew it was pretty far off the road.  The rain kept us from really investigating further.

Lunch @ Marvin’s Family Restaurant – Then, we went back to town to have lunch with another Koonce descendant, a Mr. Frank Kelso and his wife Landess. Turns out that Mr. Kelso had quite a distinguished Naval career before retiring ; he is the former Chief of Naval Operations, the highest-ranking office in the Navy, and a 4-star Naval Admiral.  He and his wife bought us all lunch and we spent some time talking about the Koonce family history.  Frank’s grandmother was the daughter of Robert Manley Koonce.  Frank then told us that the Lincoln County Genealogical Society, which we’d passed on the way into town, was open on Sunday afternoons, so we planned to stop there before we left.

Rose Hill Cemetery – after lunch, Frank and Landess took us over to Rose Hill Cemetery and showed us where his great-grandfather was buried.   The rain began to pick-up again, so we didn’t take too many photos, but I got a few of the headstones.  It was at this point that we said our goodbyes to Frank and Landess – they were so nice!

From Fayetteville Trip

Lincoln County Genealogical Society — I couldn’t believe our luck that the Society held regular hours on Sunday afternoon. We stopped in and the staff helped us locate a burial list for the Grilles-Koonce cemetery we never found; as well as a list of people buried at Stewart’s Cemetery and the cemetery where Phillip Koonce is at.  They also had a research binder that used to belong to another Koonce researcher, Alice Koonce of Refugio, TX and in the front of the binder was John’s old business card w/ his own handwriting on it. That was a coincidence.  They also had a family file folder with obituaries and other notes on various Koonce family members.  We made a few photocopies and then headed back out.  The society has an online prescence, so I’ll be sure to be making future contact with them again.

After lunch we went back to Phillip Koonce’s grave and that is when I actually took some of the pictures of that plot. Then, we headed back to Nashville. It takes about an 90 minutes to make the drive so it was not a bad trip.  I had a great time getting to speak with John & Nancy and talk shop about the Koonce families. Being on the actual land where these people lived and being at their gravesites makes them so much more real to me now.   I hope to have a chance to make a trip back; I’d love to learn more in the future.

From Fayetteville Trip

Thanks John, Nancy, Frank & Landess – I had a great day! However, I am now thoroughly exhausted, I’m not sure I’m completely over my cold 🙂

Happy Anniversary to My Parents and Step-Parents

The month of March brings wedding anniversaries for all of my parents. 🙂

March 17th is the anniversary date for my mother and step-father.  This year marks their 14th wedding anniversary.  

March 25th marked the anniversary date for my father and stepmother.  This year marks their 20th wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary!

I was not present at my mother’s wedding, but for my father’s wedding me, my aunt and my grandmother were all dressed alike for the wedding.  We wore pink dresses with ruffles, pearls, had white handbags and white shoes.  I still rememer going shopping for my dress and a few years later, my aunt even wore my dress to an event she attended.  I was 13 years old.  I rediscovered the picture in my email files earlier this month and originally planned to post it yesterday, the actual anniversary date of daddy’s wedding but I was busy studying.  

From My Digital Scrapbook Layouts

Credits: Quick page template designed by Mandy

Wordless Wednesday: E.B. Koonce Mortuary

Postcard image sent to me by John P. Koonce of E.B. Koonce Morturary in St. Louis, Missouri.   The mortuary was owned by Ernest Benjamin Koonce and his wife Virginia from what I have been able to determine via some quick research.  This African-American Koonce family is not related to me, but as I’m now on a mission to collect Koonce families,  they will be added to my database.

Wordless Wednesday: Basketball

My father in 1970 – point guard for the Newbold High School basketball team in Dover, North Carolina. Picture taken from his yearbook. 

daddy_bball

Research tip for me: consult newspapers from the time period to see if his performance was mentioned 🙂

Search Enhancements At GenealogyBank

I really need to go to bed, but I just had to post this!

I was sneaking a peek in GenealogyBank.com tonight and noticed that they have made some enhancements to their search interface for the Historical Newspapers Collection.   When you go to the search screen, you are shown several new search options that were not there last time I searched about a month ago.  I don’t see an announcement on the GenealogyBank blog though. (update 2/18/09 — today, they made a blog post about it)

The first new item on the search screen is the option to search the *updated content* that is added to the database.  GB often adds new pages and I’d written to them several months ago that it would be nice to be able to search the new additions only.  I was told that it was coming, and now it’s here.  At the time of this post, the options for searching just the updated content allow you to select things added since Feb 2009, since Jan 2009, or since Dec 2008.

genealogybank

They have also added a graphic map of the United States with blue dots to represent locations where they have newspaper content.   While it’s not my dream vision of seeing a Google Maps ultra-mashup of all the online digitized newspapers online, it is a nice view to get a sense for where they have coverage and where they don’t.  I wish all providers of historical newspapers would do something similar.   Beneath the graphic is a list of all the states and you can select which states to limit your search to.  Previously, you could only select one state at at time; now you can select multiple states.

If you haven’t searched GenealogyBank in awhile, you should revisit it.  If you are not a subscriber,  try out the one-month trial.  (No affiliation, just a very happy customer).

To add to my excitement about the new search options, I also found something of great interest to me.  In my last post, I shared how this week has been all about my Koonce research.   A lot has happened this past week with that.  Well, as I often do, I did a keyword search for a city of interest for blog fodder, and one of my results was a slave runaway advertisement that I’d seen before and blogged about previously.  I’d selected to search new content only, so even though this was something I’d seen before, I knew that often ads were run in multiple issues.  I decided to take a look at this particular issue of  the New Bern Sentinel and as I was browsing the pages, I came across this marriage announcement

kooncedavid_marriage

Source: “Marriage: David Nunn & Alice Koonce.” New Bern Sentinel 6 Sept. 1823. GenealogyBank. 16 Feb. 2009 <http://www.genealogybank.com>.

This is the marriage notice of David Nunn and Alice Koonce who married in Jones County, North Carolina in 1823.  I am quite happy to see this! I have Alice Koonce & David Nunn in my “other” Koonce gedcom collection.  I added David & Alice after *meeting* Jennifer, another African-American Koonce researcher who is descended from a slave David sold to his brother-in-law Isaac, named Solomon.   Isaac, as part of some of the pioneer families migrating from North Carolina, moved to Tennessee, bringing Solomon with him and that is where Jennifer’s family is from.  She’s got a wonderful website and blog with more details.  In any case, I just happened to browse the pages and I see a notice of David & Alice’s wedding.   Up until now, I’d only had secondary sources for their marriage.   I can’t believe I have yet another Koonce-related discovery and I wasn’t even searching for it!

I Proclaim This My Koonce Week

This past week or so has been especially rewarding for me – asI’ve had a cluster of activity around my Koonce surname.

In these past several days I’ve spoken to the daughter of my great-aunt that recently passed away, spoken to two Koonce descendants who also have ties to Lenoir & Craven counties in NC; and gotten permission from a third Koonce researcher to post the issues of the Koonce to Koonce newsletter online.

To top it off, today after doing some searching at Newspaper Archive.com, my mother found mention of my grandfather’s (William Koonce Sr.)  fatal car accident in a story that was picked up by the Associated Press on New Year’s fatalities from the new year of 1976.  I’ve blogged before about my experience reading court records involving his accident, and to read his name in the newspaper brought those same feelings back again- it truly feels like going back in time.  It is just one sentence, but it is a powerful sentence for me.  I’ve not yet found a newspaper obituary for my grandfather, so this is the closest I’ve come yet.

In the Syracuse Herald-Journal newspaper of Syracuse, New York, there is an article that was published January 2, 1976 titled “Hoodlums, Accidents, Fire Mar Holiday Spirit” and here is my grandfather listed among the fatalities

kooncewilliam_apstory

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

Does it get any better than discovering there is (well, in my case, was) a genalogical society for your surname?  

koonce2koonce

This is an excerpt from the front page of the Koonce To Koonce newsletter of the Koonce Genealogical Society.  I learned of the newsletter last month I think from a random internet search, and then discovered that the Tennessee State Archives has several issues.  At this point, I have not looked to see how many issues were done total, but I will find out.  Koonce’s (from my slaveowners families in Eastern NC) were some of the early settlers in Tennessee and Nashville, so I’m not surprised that TSLA would have these.  I spent quite a bit of time browsing through the issues and I photocopied two issues for beginners. Believe me, I’m going to photooopy them all eventually.   While most of the information is for the white Koonce lines, I was still fascinated.  

When I got home, I showed the newsletter to Kaleya to see if she would recognize the pattern of  the name Koonce.  I taught her that the words on my name badge for work say “Taneya Koonce”, so she looked at it and thought it also said Taneya Koonce.  Well, close enough for me! I was just happy that she recognzied the word Koonce out of context of my name badge 🙂

A Brick Wall Shattered!

In my last post, I expressed overjoyed delight at having learned that Ancestry had a new database of original death certificates from North Carolina that covers 1909-1975; a huge deal for me because I guesstimate that at least 70% of my personal family tree research is NC based.  True to form for me, I spent hours last night playing around in the database and found all kinds of information – not only for my own tree, but some others I’m working on as well.

As I was getting ready to retire for the evening, I remembered that I also needed to do search that has proven elusive for me. However, I was too tired to pursue it, so put it off for today. Good thing! My excitement at what I found would have probably kept me from going to sleep!

In February last year, I posted about my experience in trying to determine who the parents are of my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce.  I had a chain of information that led me to believe a Caroline Koonce was his mother.  So, since that time, I’ve had her as his mother in my gedcom, but I’ve never felt 100% certain I had it right.  Well, tonight I know that it is right and it is because of the new database of death certificates.

To recap what I knew about Barfield:

  • In census records, I never find him with parents. Only with grandparents James & Isariah Koonce (sp?) in 1880 when he was a teenager.
  • In search of more about Barfield, I spoke to my great-aunt, one of his daughters about him.  She did not know who his parents were, but knew that he had a brother named Richard. I also spoke to the wife of one of Barfield’s sons as far as names and details go, she was able to tell me that Barfield had a sister named Agnes. Who were this Richard & Agnes? They were not with Barfield in the 1900 census and by 1910 Barfield had started his own family.
  • I was then able to locate a death certificate for a Richard Koonce that was about the right age to be a brother to Barfield and I knew from hand-searching the census was the only black Richard Koonce in the two counties most likely (Craven & Lenoir counties). His death certificate said his mother’s name was Caroline Koonce and his father’s name was Mike Davis.
  • Because I knew from the 1880 census that James Koonce, Barfield’s grandfather, had a daughter named Caroline, I connected the dots and “placed” Barfield as her son in my gedcom. This would have to do for now until I had more information.

Every now and then, I’d try looking for Barfield’s sister Agnes, but did not get any results.  As I look back over things now, with more preserverance (like looking at the households of EVERY black Caroline or Agnes in the counties) I may have found it, but I just had not gotten around to doing that. With the death certificates,  I got excited b/c it turns out that searching the database also searches maiden names and parent names and includes them by default in your search results. So, if i were to type in Caroline Koonce, I would get her record and then the records of any death certificates she was named on. Sweet.

What I did today:

  1. I began by searching the death certificates for “carol* koonce” and no other limits.  I got 8 results. A couple of them were white Koonce’s that I know of as I’ve been tracking the white Koonce families as well.  The last result was for a black man named Solomon West (1906-1960).  I decided to take a look.
  2. Solomon’s death certificate lists his mother as Caroline Koonce and father as George West. The excitement begins..
  3. Since Solomon was born in 1906, I look for him in 1910.  I find him with parents George C. & Caroline West along with three siblings — an older sister named AGNES, an older sister named Luvenia and a younger sister named Jannie. The excitement continues — here is an Agnes who had a mother named Caroline Koonce, same as I’d suspected for Barfield!  Also, from census mortality schedules, I knew that James Koonce had a daughter named Jane that died at 8 years of age. So, it would make sense for Caroline to name a daughter after her deceased sister.
  4. I tracked George & Caroline through the 1920 and 1930 census and see that by 1930 George is a widow; Caroline was there in 1920, so she died between 1920 and 1930.
  5. Now that I was looking for a Caroline West, I decided to check my staple NC death database first – the database that Ancestry has based on an index of death records only.  Found a Caroline West that died in 1928, but according to the index, she was born in 1890.  This does not match what I knew of Solomon’s mother from the census records, which place her closer to the birth year of when James’ daughter Caroline was born.  It is worth noting that Craven County, NC, where Caroline West died, has their index of births, deaths & marriages online going back to the early 1900s, but Caroline West was not present in that index.
  6. Back to the death certificates database I go. Two seconds later, I found her – Caroline West died August 12, 1928.  Her husband is listed as George West. Her age is listed as 38. But, this obviously is not right given census records so I can discount the age. Parents of Caroline are – JAMES & ISARIAH KOONCE! The same couple where Barfield in enumerated as grandson in 1900.

I tell you, I could hardly be any happier than to finally know that I’ve documented Barfield’s mother.  Think this meets the genealogy proof standard?

I’m still not sure about his father – whether or not Mike Davis (Richard’s father) is his or not. This opens all kind of new research avenues for me now — Caroline had several other children so there are many more people to research.  If I’m lucky enough, maybe I’ll find someone who remembers more.

Thank you Ancestry for this database! Now, you need to get to work on Tennessee’s 🙂

A Koonce Connection

Back in January, I received an email from Jennifer. Jennifer is another African-American Koonce descendant and she found my blog through some internet searching. She blogged about this on her own blog, But Now I’m Found.

I was quite happy to hear from another black Koonce descendant! Her ancestry goes back to a slave named Solomon Koonce, who was the slave of an Isaac Koonce from Jones County, North Carolina – the exact same county my Koonce ancestry goes back to. Isaac Koonce moved to Haywood County, Tennessee around 1827 with his wife Rachel and his sister, Alice and her husband, David Nunn. Jennifer even has a bill of sale for Solomon.

Since “meeting” Jennifer and learning her ancestry, I’ve been interested in trying to figure out the exact relationship of her Isaac Koonce to the white Koonce family I’m tracking. Right now, I have a couple of possible slaveholder candidates for who may have owned my ancestors, James Koonce and/or his mother Hannah Koonce. Right now, one of my top families is that of John Council Bryan Koonce.

In 1870, my 3rd great-grandfather James Koonce is living in Township 4 of Craven County, NC, which is just across the county line from Beaver Creek, Jones County, where JCB Koonce was the only slaveholder in that region of the county. However, at this point, I cannot definitely rule out a few of his cousins as possible slaveholders – I need to look more closely at the ages of their slaves in the 1850 & 1860 slave census records.

But, after some investigation, I have finally tied Ii think) Jennifer’s slaveowner Isaac, to the larger Koonce family of the area. If the lineages of others I have found online and compared are to be trusted, Isaac Koonce & JCB Koonce were 2nd cousins. If anyone is interested in seeing the whole descendancy view from their shared great-grandfather, George Koonce, you can see that here.

I’m so glad to have made this connection! Here’s to hoping that Jennifer and I continue to make more progress. I’ve already informed her I may be crashing her Koonce family reunion! 🙂 Family or not, I feel connected already.

Update: Since I mentioned that I needed to look at the ages of slaves in the 1860 and 1850 census records, I just decided to go ahead and do that. It looks like I may be focusing on the wrong Koonce cluster.

I start with knowing that my James Koonce was born around 1840. In 1870 he also has a woman living with him, Hannah, that is 70 years old that I think may be his mother or grandmother so she would have been born around 1800. When I look at the 1860 slave census for a Koonce slaveholder with a male slave around 20 years old and a female slave around 60 years old, only one comes up with slaves that correspond to both — Calvin Koonce, born around 1805. When I look in the 1850 slave census for a Koonce slaveholder with a male slave around 10 years old and a female slave around 50 years old, only one comes up again – the same Calvin Koonce. From my work on the genealogy of the white Koonce’s I know exactly who he is. He was a 1st cousin to JCB Koonce. His wife was named Amanda and he even had a daughter named Caroline – same name as a daughter of James. While in 1850 Calvin’s home was in a different region of the county, Cypress Creek, in 1860 his home is listed as Beaver Creek (again, this is JUST across the county line from where my father’s family is from). Hmm….. this is getting quite interesting. Why haven’t I looked at this before! I really must get moving on ordering the Koonce estate files for Calvin and JCB. I’ve known about them for at least a year now, just haven’t gotten around to making the request.