Researcher Allen Wheatley has taken hundreds of cemetery pictures and shares them on his personal website at

One of the cemeteries he’s photographed is Mt. Olivet in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas.  There are several Koonce family members buried in the cemetery and I now know how they are all connected.  Just these past few months I’ve been corresponding with one of the descendants of Rufus Argyle Koonce (1887-1952) the patriarch of one  family branch buried in the cemetery.

Headstone: Rufus Argyle Koonce

There is another cluster of Koonce’s buried in the cemetery though too – family members of Wayland Hoyt Koonce (1891-1982).

Headstone: Wayland Hoyt Koonce

Given the two families, I would have thought they were closely related. Turns out, Wayland & Rufus were quite distant cousins; Wayland was Rufus’ 3rd cousin once removed.  Their common ancestors are George Koonce & Susannah “Letty” Franks of  Craven County, NC.   I wonder if Rufus & Wayland knew each other?


Delmo Koonce Cafe

On December 14, 2009, in African Americans, Business, by taneya

Very early on in my Koonce project, I began searching the full-text newspaper resource of the Library of Congress, their Chronicling America collection.  One of the hits that I would often get was to a cafe in Washington D.C. called Delmo Koonce Cafe.  I was not able to learn more about the cafe however, but occasionally, I’ll revisit it and see if I can learn more.   This last time I searched, I found some new information!

I learned from another newspaper blurb that the cafe was owned by J.S. Koonce.  Since the advertisements I’ve seen have been in a black newspaper, the Colored American, I figured that the cafe was for blacks.  This is the article I found from 1900 that names the owner.


“Untitled.” Colored American [Washington, D.C.] 9 June 1900: 2. Library of Congress: Chronicling America. Web. <>

I did another Google search for Delmo Cafe and this time I got a new hit.  My very own alma mater, Emory University, has an online collection called the Emory Women Writers Resource Project.  In that collection, I found online a brochure from a convention held by the National Federation of Afro-American Women in June 1896.  The brochure has an advertisement from the Delmo Cafe and I was able to learn more about them.

1896 Brochure of the NFAAM Convention. Emory Women Writers Resource Project.

1896 Brochure of the NFAAM Convention. Emory Women Writers Resource Project.

Information in the brochure states that the cafe was operated by J.S. & L.L. Koonce and they offered baked goods.  The shop was located at 1905 7th St., N.W.   Not surprisingly, this is just down the street from the historically black school, Howard University.

I also found another newspaper mention of them looking for a colored ice cream maker.  The address now, in 1900, is now at 1606 M. St. NW, which is now much further away from Howard.


“Untitled.” Colored American [Washington, D.C.] 5 June 1900: 2. Library of Congress: Chronicling America. Web. <>

Armed with the name & the location at two different points in time, I then set off to search the census records.  Lo & behold, look who I find in the 1900 census of Washington, D.C. residing at 1606 M . St. NW!

1900 US Census, Washington D.C., District 40, Page 7

1900 US Census, Washington D.C., District 40, Page 7

26 year-old Jessie S. Koonce, born in November 1873 and his 18 year-old niece Estale who was born in January 1882.  Both were born in Alabama with Jessie enumerated as “Confectioner” and Estale enumerated as “Waitress.”  This is great! I wonder if I’ll be able to find out even more about them.   Is there a connection with the Koonce families that I already know about in Alabama?  Only time will tell.


Yesterday,  I learned from a fellow family history researcher of the passing of Tunisia Koonce.

Prior to yesterday, I did not know how Tunisia connected into the Koonce line, but with the news of her passing, I did explore it further.  Tunisia Abdullah Koonce died Wednesday, October 7, 2009 of breast cancer.  She was only 38  years old and leaves to mourn husband George Koonce, daughter Jayla and son George 3rd.

This is a picture of the family that I found on a webpage she’d dedicated to her husband back in 2007.

When I learned who her husband was, I realized that I knew him! Well, now *knew*, but a few months ago, upon learning about George I’d tried to contact him.   George is a former football player and now is Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaulkee, but I never heard back from him.  I would later learn that at the time I sent my email, he was in the process of transferring to his current position, so it is possible he never received it.

George’s ancestry also goes back to  Jones County, North Carolina like my own Koonce family.  He is the grandson of Sudie Koonce (1912-2008), a native of Pollocksville, NC and the son of George Earl Koonce Sr.  I do not know who Sudie’s parents are at this point but I will further this research over the next few weeks.   My thoughts are with the family during these sorrowful times.


(oops! Looks like the theme is actually Black Sheep Sunday, not Monday! I’ll get it right next time.)

Have you ever been pardoned by the President?  Phillip O. Koonce was

Washington, Nov. 3 – The President today granted pardons to three prisoners and refused them in the cases of two others convicted of violating the Federal statutes.  The fortunate others are: Belle Freeland, convicted of counterfeiting in Illinois and sentenced in March last to three years imprisonment in Joilet penitentiary; Clarence Woodruff, convicted in the District of Columbia of assault and sentenced in March last to 304? das in jail, and P.O.  Koonce, convicted in Idaho of embezzling a letter from the United States mail and sentenced to twelve months in the Boise penitentiary.  Woodruff was pardoned because subsequent evidence <…> his offense, and Koonce because he is a very young man and was made the tool of an older man.  In endorsing Belle Freeland’s application for pardon and denying that of her husband, S.J. Freeland, convicted of the same offensee and given a similar sentence, the President says:

Granted as to Belle Freeland.  On the facts presented in this case I am not clear that these convicts should be pardoned on the merits, but aside from any other consideration, I have determined to pardon Belle Freeland, the wife and mother, on account of the child born to her in prison and now less than three months old.

Source: “Pardoned by the President.” The Sun [New York, NY] 4 Nov. 1894. Chronicling America. Web. <>

Phillip would have been about 20 years old at this time.  He was the son of Kehlin S. Koonce, born around 1842 in North Carolina.  I have yet not been able to determine who Kehlin’s parents were.  The family lived in Surry County, NC in 1880 and migrated to Idaho to Blaine, Camas & Washington counties.


In my last post about Jeffrey Wayne Koonce,  I pondered the question of trying to figure out which white families his family may have been associated.   Jeffrey’s ancestors, Henry Koonce & Elizabeth Ellis were from Alabama and migrated to Malone, Jackson County, Florida.  I knew there some white Koonce families near there in Alabama and I’ve revisited my database to figure out whom.

This is a map of the area which I’m about to discuss:

John Franklin Koonce (1801-1859) was a pioneer of Henry County, Alabama having moved there in 1819.  He and wife Susan (from Georgia) would have 8 children and become established citizens in the community.  Their sons Jefferson S. Koonce & William C. Koonce became rather prominent as well.  William in fact was a druggist up in Abbeville (see it at the top of the map?).

I checked the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules for Henry County.  In 1850, John F. Koonce owned 24 slaves and Thomas Battle Koonce , his 3rd cousin, owned 33 slaves.  In 1860, I only found Thomas with the slaves.  When I checked black families in the area in 1870 and 1880, I saw many that were born in Georgia.  This is not surprising given that Susan’s family was from Georgia.

The descendants of John Fordham Koonce, as well as their likely former slave families,  then spread out to Cottonwood, Cowarts, Gordon, & Columbia, Alabama.

I’ve not found a specific association yet, but Jeffrey Wayne’s ancestors were in Jackson County by 1900, near the Malone area later on in the early 1900s.  Also, Henry & Elizabeth had a son named Jefferson Koonce, also – same as the family who lived around 30-45 miles away.   I am beginning to think there may be some association here.

Additionally, a niece of Jeffrey’s has informed me that their oral history passed down through the generations states that their ancestor Henry was actually white. In the 1900 and 1910 census, he is enumerated as black and mulatto respectively.  She sent me a picture of Henry’s son Sidney (Jeffrey’s grandfather) and you can definitely tell that Sidney is of mixed heritage.  She also informed me that the family tradition states that at some point, Henry changed the spelling of his name from Koontz to Koonce.

All of this provides more research clues, so more to come as I have time.


In my last entry I posted about fallen Vietnam Veteran Jeffrey Wayne Koonce.  His brief bio was sent to me by J.P. Koonce and as a first step to finding out more about him, I decided look for an obit.  I posted on the Union County, NJ forum for newspaper suggestions and was directed to a website New Jersey has set up for a state memorial of Vietnam Veterans.

On the memorial page, is this picture of Jeffrey Wayne

On his memorial page his siblings are named and that was enough for me to find out more about his family and trace his Koonce line back three more generations to his great-parents Henry Koonce & Elizabeth Ellis of Jackson County, Florida.  Henry was born about 1854 in Alabama.  Geographically, Jackson County is near Houston County, Alabama where I know offhand there were several white Koonce families.  Is there an association between Jeffrey Wayne’s ancestors and these other Koonce families?  Perhaps time will tell.

To see the descendants of Henry & Elizabeth as I have gathered to date,  click here. Remember that the names are hyperlinks to their individual pages.


Jeffrey Wayne Koonce

On September 19, 2009, in Non-Database Persons, Research Task, by taneya

Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Koonce is a Vietnam Veteran who died while missing in action.  He was born May 23, 1947 and died November 19, 1967 at age 20.  He served with the 2nd battalion of the 503rd infantry, Company C.  Jeffrey had only joined the army in June of 1967 and reported his hometown as Union, New Jersey.   Jeffrey’s body was recovered and he is buried in Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.

Tombstone: Jeffrey Wayne Koonce. Digital image. FindAGrave. 20 Feb. 2007. Web.


Research task: I would love to locate a newspaper article or obituary for his death.

Tagged with:


On March 6, 2009, in Site Features, by taneya

Welcome to the Koonce Genealogy site.  I am starting this site to keep progress on my Koonce genealogy research. I am interested in all Koonces and will be growing this resource over time.  There have been many Koonce researchers before me and I hope this information helps Koonce researchers that will come after me. :-)

The impetus for the site began once I found out about the Koonce to Koonce newsletters published from 1994-1997 by the Koonce Genealogical Society.   After contacting the editor, John P. Koonce, he gave me permission to post them online.  With that permission, I started devising a plan to get the newsletters online.

Please be patient however, I don’t expect to fully gear up with this site until Summer 2009.   Meanwhile, please feel free to check out my slowly growing database of Koonce families.