McNair

Results from my State Archives Visit

Okay – here is a summary of what I retrieved today at the TN State Archives. Today I focused on Edgecombe County, NC where I am most heavily researching my McNair, Wimberly and Tannahill surnames as I look for possible slave owners.

1. I have a few counties photocopied from Somebody Knows My Name, but went today to look for the records of cohabitation for Jones County, North Carolina. I need to order the CD so that I can have my own copy. Unfortunately, Jones County is not included. However, I did go ahead and photocopy Nash County. I learned yesterday that Rocky Mount,NC is split in the middle of town, between Edgecombe County and Nash County. I have had family in Rocky Mount, and so I decided I should have this county as well. Good thing too – I found another Wimberly!

2. From the book, Heritage of Lenoir County, I photocopied the entry for Richard H. Koonce & Eliza King. Richard is the son of Wiley Benjamen Koonce. I still am not sure how Wiley fits into the family tree for the white Koonce family I am specifically tracking, but I figure I will get there eventually. Good to have it for later reference.

3. Abstracts 0f Wills, Edgecombe County by David B. Gammon – This was wonderful! It is a four-volume set that covers wills from 1732-1910. I photocopied almost every will that had a mention of any McNair, Wimberly, or Tannahill person. I see now that there were two I missed, so I’m making a note to get those when I go back. I also photocopied the indexes of volumes 3 & 4. I plan to make them PDFs and put them online so that others will know if the person of interest is at least mentioned. I’ll go back another time to get the indexes for Volumes 1-2.

4. Marriages of Early Edgecombe County 1733-1868 – Another great book. The authors have compiled early marriage bans, marriages as proved by county wills, as published in newspapers, and other various sources. I photocopied every page that had a reference to a Wimberly, McNair or Tannahill. I also copied the indexes from this book as well.

5. Tombstone & Census Records of Early Edgecombe County – This is a compilation of cemeteries throughout Edgecombe County. Again – I photocopied every reference to a McNair, Tannahill or Wimberly that I could find. I do see that I skipped one, so I’ll have to go back to get it.

Overall, a wonderful morning. I think however, that I am going to now have to create formal trees to track everyone I want!

My Famous Relative


I finally found him! Growing up, we’d always heard from my maternal grandmother that we were related to Charles Barkley. She would tell me how he would sometimes go to the family reunion too. I’ve never been clear about exactly how we were related until tonight though – but I got it! We share descent from Rufus McNair – my 3G Grandfather and his 2G grandfather. (Charles’ father was named Rufus Barkley). So, that makes me his third cousin once removed. Hey Charles – maybe I’ll see you at a family reunion!

In other genealogy news I have the following updates!

  • While attending my grandmother’s funeral, I was able to take pictures of several of my relatives’ headstones in the cemetery. I hope to go back this fall and take more.
  • With the help of a woman who has been researching her family ancestry for more than twelve years, I may have found my first evidence of an ancestor being sold as a slave. I have been corresponding with her to try and follow her same logic in understanding all the clues, so I expect to post more about that later.
  • My mother and stepfather were visiting family this week (I’m helping him do his family genealogy too) and I received a shipment of pictures today. Including a picture of my mother’s paternal grandmother whom I had no idea what she looked like until today!
  • I am on a quest for the perfect program to create good quality lineage charts! I just purchased RootsMagic and so far I like their charting options a lot. I bought it in combination with GenSmarts to see if that helps me assess different avenues for my research.
  • I am starting the process of really cleaning my online site and standardizing the way I collect data. I’ve been so gung-ho on collecting information that I have just kind of thrown it all up! Well, the librarian in me is starting to bring me to my senses and I must get it all cleaned up.

Happy hunting!

In Memorium

to my uncle “June” – 1932-2006

My family found out today that we have lost a family member – one of my grandmother’s brothers – Abraham Lincoln McNair, Jr. Uncle June had been out of touch with the family for years. We knew that he was living in the New York area but had not been able to find him. In part inspired by my recent activities in researching the family, my mother began to look for him again in earnest. Well, we found out we were about a month weeks too late. The police department in the area that we had a last known address for him informed us that he died on February 9th.

I have only one memory of Uncle June from when I was about 8 years old or so and we were visiting my grandmother. He was prone to seizures and while we were visiting her, he had a seizure in the living room. My mother was particularly close to Uncle June and has told me many stories about him. We are devastated to think that he died alone in the hospital with no family around, but I understand that is how he lived his life. My grandmother does not know and we probably will not tell her. She has Alzheimer’s and is in a home and this is now her third brother to pass (of four). This is why it is so important to know about family. If we had not continued to search for him, we may have never known what happened.

I hate titles

I really must change this blog template — I hate having to assign titles to my posts…

This weekend I went to the public library to check out their genealogy collection. There was one book in particular that I wanted to look at but the information in it was not as useful as I hoped. However, I do have a sense now of their holdings so I’ll probably plan to go back sometime next month to look at microfilm of census records. While I can access them online, I need to use the actual records b/c there are some family members that I will need to scroll through pages and pages to find as I’m not having any luck in Ancestry. (Ancestry takes a long time to view records page by page).

While at the library I picked up a copy of a genealogy book for African-Americans. Can’t think of the name right now, but though from 1999 it is pretty informative. On the research end, I continue to make progress! I have found someone to take pictures of relative tombstones in NY and also someone to take pictures in North Carolina. I am deeply appreciative when people can help like this! I am doing my best to give back as well.

Over the weekend I worked more on Kalonji’s maternal line — oh my goodness — I found so much information! This part of his family has been in the Evansville, IN area for at least the last 60 years or so. I found a database of obituaries from the Evansville area papers that a funeral director created as a personal project years ago. It was put online in the mid 1990’s and I just couldn’t believe how much information I was able to find out from it. This is exactly the kind of project I’d love to be able to do one day (yeah right! like I ever have time). But, I was very impressed with it. I also learned from Kalonji’s mother that she has an ancestor who was a slave and she heard stories of how this woman had lost toes from the cold and working out in the fields. I too have a maternal ancestor who was a slave and lost toes due to cold. I was surprised to hear this same thing again but from Kalonji’s family.

And, a note about my side of the family — my 3G grandfather Rufus, had 13 children. Between them all, these 13 children had about 70+ children. Can you imagine being one of Rufus’ grandchildren and having like 70 COUSINS!!!! How would you keep up with each other? And, the wild part is that they all had to know each other — they grew up in the same town and lived in close proximity. That is just so crazy to me. I have a total of 8 first cousins. Goes to show how we as a society are having fewer and fewer children these days.

Military Gravesites

Yesterday and today, Calverton National Cemetery emailed me pictures of some of my relative’s gravesites. Several of the men in my family served in the military and at least four that I know of so far are buried in military cemeteries. I attended the funeral of my maternal grandfather Herman so I remember his. Two of Herman’s brothers are also buried in the same cemetery as he. Then, my maternal grandmother has a brother who is also buried in the same cemetery as well. In addition, I have a distant cousin who died in 1959 who is in Long Island National Cemetery. I think their headstone pictures are beautiful. I like knowing exactly where they are and knowing that I will be able to pass that on to the younger generations in the family.

Also, I was able to find a book that has a listing of cemeteries in Washington County, NC where my maternal grandmother is from. There is a library that is sending me the photocopied pages of the book. I am so excited. The librarian informed me that there are three McNair cemeteries in Washington County with a total of around 100 people. One of the cemeteries is named the Rufus McNair cemetery – Hello! Rufus McNair is my 3rd Great Grandfather – this has to be his cemetery!

What is up with Barfield Koonce?

I am having the hardest time learning much about the very line whose name I have! Barfield is the furthest back I can go and I thought that once I received his death certificate, I would surely get his parents names. No such luck. It came in the mail today and both fields are “unknown.” Barfield was my great-grandfather and he died in 1953. I did learn that he died of a fall that occurred a few days before his death and he struck his back. Official designation: Fracture of the cervical spine. My father’s other grandfather also died of injuries as a result of a fall.

I also got Barfield’s wife’s death certificate. Josephine Holloway Koonce died in 1977. I was hoping for her father’s name on her death certificate, but that was blank too. It had her mother’s name on there which confirmed the name I had from her obituary. I am having trouble locating Josephine’s family as well, but will keep investigating.

And, on my mother’s side of the family, a cousin sent me the printed family tree from the McNair Family Reunion. The McNairs are based for the most part in Plymouth, NC and let me tell you — I think I am related to every McNair in that area – there are so many of them! The farthest back we go so far is to Rufus (b. 1824) and Mariah. They had 12 children at least and then each of those children had tons of children. Too many McNairs! Kaleya is a 6th generation descendant of Rufus & Mariah McNair – they are her 4G grandparents. 6 GENERATIONS! That is amazing to me. But, this is great information to have because it confirms that all those McNairs I’ve been seeing in the census records are indeed relatives. The quest to get as many birth/death certificates as possible seems neverending…. As of tonite, there are 142 individuals in Rufus’ descendant chart and I’ve only put in about 50% of his grandchildren.

Here is her relationship to him: