One day last month while using Facebook, I had a story appear in my sidebar about a UNC student named Amber Koonce. She is a current senior and was named by Glamour Magazine as one of their Top 10 College Women.
Me being as obsessed as I am, I had to start researching her family tree. Her parents, Donnie & Masherill, were graduates of UNC-Charlotte and thanks to the large collection of yearbooks from the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, I was able to find them easily. Tracing Donnie back further, I located his father and grandmother, Dora Koonce.
However, I am now stuck on Dora. I know she is from Jones County but I don’t know anything about her family. I have a speculation as to how she may fit in with the Koonces I already know about, but I need further documentation or, contact with Amber’s family to see if they can help fill the gap. The research will continue of course
From one UNC Koonce grad to another soon to be one (Amber will graduate in May 2012), I wish her the best of luck! Amber is quite accomplished and I know she has great things ahead of her.
I’m currently working on investigating more Koonce families of Dothan, AL. There has turned out to be quite a cluster of Koonce’s there and there are several other researchers seeking to learn if there are explicit connections. The four African-American family groups of particular interest right now are:
a) Elizabeth Koonce was born abt. 1842 in Dothan, AL. To date, I have primarily worked on the family of her son Eugene who migrated to nearby Seminole County, Georgia and Leon & Wayne counties in Florida.
b) Henry Koonce was born about August 1854, likely in Dothan, AL and died between 1910-1920. His wife was Elizabeth was from Jackson County, Florida. Henry& Lizzie were living in Jackson County by 1900 and their descendants populate that area, with a few branches migrating up to New Jersey.
c) Maliki Koonce – was born Oct 1879 in Alabama – it seems he too was from near Dothan, AL as in 1900 and 1910 he and wife Lizzie and their family are in Cowarts, a community just outside Dothan.
d) Clopton Koonce – born abt. 1854 in Alabama – descendants believe he and wife Sarah are from Gordon, AL, which is not too far away from Dothan. By 1900 were living in Jackson County, Florida.
The challenge is trying to find connections between these four families. Are Henry (b) and Clopton (d) related? Both have descendants named Hosea and Clopton has a son named Henry. Maliki (c) also has a son named Hosea. I am fascinated by this and the research continues!
Tonight while browsing the website of the Genealogical Society of Sarasota, I discovered they offer a wonderful resource online. They have taken a book they published in 1992 and made it available online – a comprehensive survey of cemeteries in the county. I immediately looked for any Koonces because I know there were plenty in Florida; I was not sure if any were in Sarasota County.
Turns out they did have one listing – Selver Koonce who is buried in Galilee Cemetery. His entry states he was born March 4, 1904 and died June 5, 1980.
A quick Ancestry search yielded a few records; a Google search found nothing; ditto with Mocavo.
I’m curious about Selver – I’d like to know if I can trace his family tree. The quickest route back would be to order his death certificate to see if parents are listed – that only costs $5 from the state. But then, I remembered that Google News Archive (which Google will no longer actively add to), had the Sarasota Journal newspaper from about 1952-1982 online. This is the perfect time period to check for an obit.
Sure enough, I found it by navigating directly to the issues for the month of June 1980.
The details found here will be a great start to my search. I will still order the death certificate, but this should help get me jump started. Google News Archive – I’ll miss the fact that you aren’t adding new papers, but it’s finds like these that show just how valuable the present existing content can be.
Over the past month I’ve added a couple of new lineages to the database.
1) Lineage of Cato Koonce – Cato was a former slave of Jones County, North Carolina. So far, I only know of one child of he and wife Matilda Cox – Noah Franklin Koonce (1860-1930) who settled in Lenoir County. Noah appears to have married twice – first to Louisa Jones and second to Henrietta. Between the two, he had at least 13 children.
2) Descendants of Retus Koonce (abt. 1811- ?) – Retus was a son of Daniel Koonce & Nancy Blackshear of Craven & Onslow counties in NC. Retus moved away from North Carolina to Sumter County, Alabama then to Yolushaba and Grenada counties in Mississippi. He and wife Drucilla McDaniel had at least 12 children. I started filling out this line in response to an inquiry on the Ancestry.com message boards on one of Retus’ grandsons - Hiriam M. Koonce.
Just found this at GenealogyBank.comMargaret was the daughter of Henry James Campbell. She married Jefferson Harrison Koonce (1908-1969). He is buried in Columbia Cemetery in Houston County, AL and I’ve not researched this family enough to find out her death date; though, it is possible she is still alive. If so, she’d be 102 years old.
Jefferson Harrison Koonce’s great-grandfather, John Fordham Koonce, left North Carolina and settled in Henry County, AL in 1819 and was a pioneer of that county.
Just a quick note that four tombstones from the graveyard of Capt. Michael Koonce have been added to the Jones County, NCGenWeb site. Koonce researcher Claude Thomas Hardison Jr. captured the photos and while he didn’t find headstones for the Captain, he found that of grandson Amos Simmons Koonce (1809-1882).
Not a “wordless post” but this is an interesting picture to share. From time to time I’ll run across Native American Koonce families, though I’ve not taken the time to fully research them. Hat tip to John Paul Koonce who sent me the following picture he found. This picture is Mah-nah-ee & Wah-zush Koonce, both Chippewa Indians. This picture, taken by photographer Frances Densmore, shows them seated in a wigwam at Grand Portage Reservation in Minnesota.
The photo is part of the image collection of the Minnesota Historical Society. More details are available here.
Well there’s a Koonce surname variation I’ve not seen before
While going through the old college yearbooks of Davidson College in North Carolina and came across the photo of Harry Gordon Goodykoontz, a 1927 graduate of the college.
Harry was from Bluefield, West Virginia and received a Bachelor of Arts in English. His page shows he participated heavily in school activities, including Track. I loved the statement that he has a way of “…dashing through the hearts of those who know him with the strange paradox of at the same time staying there.”
Harry was born December 13, 1906 and passed away June 20, 1998 . His obituary states that he was a native of Roanoke, Virginia and was a Professor of Christian Education at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for 25 years. Harry was an author as well.
He was the son of John F. & Nellie K. Goodykoontz. John worked as a Train Master for the railroad according to the family’s 1920 Bluefield, West Virginia census record . I haven’t done any investigation, but perhaps Harry is part of the Goodykoontz lineage descended from a “Gutenkunst” of Germany. Interesting for sure! Maybe at some point in the future I’ll explore the Goodykoontz family further.
Update: connect with Ancestry user PRICE1073 if you’re researching this family.
 Social Security Death Index provided by GenealogyBank.com
 1920 US Census. District 79, Bluefield, Mercer County, West Virginia. (Link access requires subscription).
This is an example of a tombstone gone wrong. The tombstone of William C. Koonce (1838- 1901) of Henry County, Alabama has his death date as July 31, 1901.
However, William’s obituary was printed in the Macon Telegraph newspaper on July 31, 1901 and the story reporting his death was dated as July 20th. The story reported that he died that same day. Thus, he died July 20th and not on the 31st.
My husband’s family is from Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana and from time to time I come across a mention of Koonce families in records there. This past weekend, while researching a Koonce family lineage of Henderson County,Kentucky, I finally made the connection in my database to who the Koonce families of Evansville were.
This photo is of Sgt. George Small Koonce (1889-1918) who died in World War I. This picture comes from his biographical sketch in the book, Sons of Men, Evansville’s War Record. George was the son of Joseph Lane Koonce (1853-1926) & Idella Ann Thrash Koonce (1864-1927).