Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Postcard Bonanza Today!

Welcome to the Postcard Bonanza! I'm so glad you could stop by. Grab a cup of coffee and a danish (Sorry, you have to provide your own.  This is a virtual party after all!) and let's get started. 

I'm sharing a postcard my great grandmother Mattie Maddox Howard sent to her mother Martha Jane (Lett) Maddox.  It is all the more special because this is the only known handwriting sample of Mattie's that our family has.

Transcription of the above postcard:

Dear Mother

Ill write you a

few lines. We are
all well hop you
are well by now
I want you to
hurry up and come
out here and
stay with us
some. I will come
to see you when I
can. much Love to
you all  From,
Mattie H

Note the postcard is a birthday card, but the postmark shows that the card was sent in October of 1923.  Martha Jane’s birthday was in January.  Also, note that no mention of birthday wishes was made in the note. During this time of letter writing, the writer often used what they had on hand.  In this case, a birthday card served the purpose for Mattie to send a note to her mother.  

If you would like to join in the fun and link your postcard post here, use the "add your link" button at the bottom of this post. I'm looking forward to reading about your postcard(s).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Postcard Bonanza Tomorrow

Generated image

It is almost here!  Tomorrow is the day.

How does the Postcard Bonanza work? 
  • Post your vintage postcard on your blog.  In your post you might want to share a little bit about the postcard. (Hint:  Your post doesn't have to be written on the Aug 31st.  You can link back to a post previously written.) 
  • On Aug 31st  (tomorrow) visit the Postcard Bonanza here at Are You My Cousin?.  
  • Click the "add your link" button at the bottom of the post.  Follow the instructions and a link to your blog post will appear at the bottom of the Postcard Bonanza page.    
  • Enjoy following the links and reading other postcard blog posts.

Note: When you link to the Postcard Bonanza, be sure to use the URL address for that post.  This is known as a permalink.  If you are unsure how to find your permalink, go here.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Else Is In That Pension File?

I am following Cinamon's example over at (Mis)Adventures of a Genealogist. She has been in the process of analyzing her Luttrell ancestor's pension file.  In the process Cinamon noticed that many who provided affidavits on her ancestor's behalf provided information on their own lives as well.  She has listed out the names of the individuals in her most recent post.  Go check it out.  You might find your ancestor!

This has sent me back to read my own ancestor's pension file.  You may remember James Harward (~1760-1840), my GGGGG grandfather. Specifically I was looking for the names of individuals who testified for him or were mentioned in any other context.  Just what was their relationship to him?  Will I find James mentioned in their pension records? Land records?

[I have not posted on James recently, but you can read about him here.  As a young man he  served three tours in the Revolutionary War fighting with groups formed in Wake County, NC.  He applied for his pension in 1832 at the age of 72.]

Below I have listed the names of  the "other" individuals listed in James Harward's pension file filed in Aug 1832.  I have also included those names listed in his widow Rachel Harward's file  from 1856 as well.

Bartlett Allen Revolutionary War soldier from Wake County, NC

Issac Smith  Revolutionary War soldier from Wake County, NC

John Scott  Neighbor of James Harward

James Morries [Morris]  Neighbor of James Harward

Nelson Andrews 8 Jan 1828  Friend of James Harward

Rachel Belvin  Second wife of James Harward

George Harward  Son of James Harward; Resident of Chatham County, NC 1832

Allen Rogers Wake County Attorney

William Lewell Wake County Attorney

J H Kirkham  Attorney in Wake County 1856

G W F Davis Resident of Wake County 1856

E J W Hogue Resident of Wake County 1856

Iziekiah Goodwin Resident of Wake County 1856; Possible son-in-law of Rachel Belvin Harward

Willie Harred [Harward] Resident of Wake County 1856; Likely son of James Harward

If you find your ancestor among those listed, contact me.  I'm happy to share what I have.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The 1900 House

I have a confession.  Around here we like to watch those historical reality shows.  You know the ones where a family or individuals "go back in time" for three months.  The clothes they wear, the food they eat and even their leisure activities are authentic to the period in which they live.

The latest show that we've watched is The 1900 House.  Filmed back in 1999, an English family lived as a 1900 middle class London family would have lived.  This particular family moved into a Victorian home and for three months lived with gas lanterns, a fireplace and kitchen range for heat, and a "modern toilet" (for the period) located in a shed out back.  The show chronicles the family's journey to live without the technology and convenience of household appliances of today. Quite an interesting show to watch.

This would have been the time period my great great grandmothers would have been raising their families.  The majority of my ancestors at this time were still rural farmers and not living in large cities.  Life often revolved around the seasons of farming. Electricity and indoor plumbing were still a ways off.

The question begs to be asked.  Could I do it?  Could I be successful as a 1900 homemaker? I don't know, but I would not mind giving it a try. As long as it is temporary!

 Could you do it?

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Sneak Preview

With the Postcard Bonanza next week, I thought I would give a sneak peek at one of my postcards I discovered recently.  This is one of my favorite type of postcards.  I like the postcards depicting locations and landmarks.  I'm not really sure why.  Perhaps because they show where my ancestors went on their travels. 

This is a postcard of the Beaufort/Morehead City, NC bridge.  The view is east across the sound. Morehead City and Beaufort are historical coastal towns and a popular vacation spots for tourists on the NC coast. 

This particular card was sent to my grandmother Cecile White of Dobson, NC in 1935.  It is signed "Aunt Blanche".  Blanche is Blanche Holyfield , the sister of Cecile's mother Stella Holyfield White.

It is ironic that I found this card tucked in my grandmother's scrapbook this week.  Along with much of the NC coast, Morehead City is currently evacuating in advance of Hurricane Irene.  It is certainly my hope that everyone gets out safely and damage is kept to a minimum.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back To School

Today many students in our North Carolina head back to school.  That got me to thinking about using school records to tell our ancestors' stories. While not a record source I use regularly, school records can provide important information on our ancestors and those around them.

Yearbooks:  I first wrote the Cluster Springs High School yearbook here. The ads in the back provide a glimpse into the economy of the community.  While we may find photographs of our ancestors in a yearbook, you are also likely to find photographs of your collateral lines as well.  In smaller farming communities such as Cluster Springs, Va, families often lived close by each other.  Knowing surnames common to an area can prove useful in research as well.  When attempting to break through the genealogical brick wall, researching those around your ancestor can provide the clues you need.

Report Cards:  Report cards can tell us what type of student our ancestor was.  We can learn their strengths  and weaknesses.  In this example physiology and history were definitely not Aunt Elma's best subjects.

Now look at the bottom of this report card.  Her father B H Talbott [Boss Henry Talbott] has signed the card.  You can find  parent and/or guardian names listed on report cards as well as their signature.  Recognizing an ancestor's signature can be helpful when analyzing other documents relating to them.

Location of an ancestor can also be determined by their report card.  This report card shows that Elma Talbott was in South Boston [VA] in 1930-1931 at Lawson School.  Research on the school can help pinpoint an area close to where Elma lived.

Certificates:  Like report cards, certificates earned at school place your ancestor in a time and a place.

If you are fortunate to school records for your ancestor, I encourage you to pull them out and give them a second look.  Look beyond the grades and see who or what else you can find.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It Is Just A Week Away!

Generated image

The Postcard Bonanza  is just a week away!  I hope you will join us as we share vintage postcards of our ancestors.  Read about how to join the fun here.

Postmarked 1923, South Boston, VA

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Genealogy Quote

I found this quote and liked it.  Hope you like it, too.

Genealogy:  A hay stack full of needles.  It's the threads I need.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Genealogy Might Be To Blame

Genealogy might be to blame for...
  • the deterioration of my baking skills.   My ancestors seem to intrude into my thoughts when I am measuring ingredients.  (I have even suspected them of turning off the timer!)
Genealogy might be to blame for...
  • Spending a lot of time in the closet.  This statement needs a little clarification.  My genealogy office is a converted closet. It was actually converted to a craft closet first and then to a genealogy closet office. We just cannot seem to call it anything else.
Genealogy might be to blame for...
  • "Forgetting" how to spell my own name.  Sometimes I just look at my name as wonder is it one "t" or two.

What can you "blame" on genealogy?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Join Me For a Postcard Bonanza

Generated image

I have come to realize that I have a plethora ( I do love that word!)  of vintage postcards.  I did not intentionally start collecting postcards, it just sort of happened.  As family members shared our family history in the form of letters and postcards with me, the collection just sort of grew...and grew.  There is quite a variety among the postcards.  Some represent the personal correspondence of my ancestors and some postcards represent souvenirs they collected in their travels.  I have shared some of the postcards from my collection on my blog in the past, but I have decided it is time to be more intentional about sharing them.

So, I am having a (virtual) party.  A Postcard Bonanza Party to be exact. April 31st is the date. And you're invited.

How does it work? 
  • Post your vintage postcard on your blog.  In your post you might want to share a little bit about the postcard. (Hint:  Your post doesn't have to be written on the Aug 31st.  You can link back to a post previously written.) 
  • On Aug 31st visit the Postcard Bonanza here at Are You My Cousin?.  
  • Click the "add your link" button at the bottom of the post.  Follow the instructions and a link to your blog post will appear at the bottom of the Postcard Bonanza page.    
  • Enjoy following the links and reading other postcard blog posts.
Note: When you link to the Postcard Bonanza, be sure to use the URL address for that post.  This is known as a permalink.  If you are unsure how to find your permalink, go here.

That's it.  It is really quite easy.  Then enjoy visiting other bloggers' blogs who also link to the Postcard Bonanza.

I am really looking forward to seeing everyone's postcards.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brick Wall Still Firmly In Place

I had hoped the title for this post would be Brick Wall Comes Tumbling Down. It was just not to be.  The Haley brick wall still stands firm.

I am just back from a research trip to Charlotte Courthouse, Charlotte, VA.  Charlotte Courthouse is a beautiful historic town in southern Virginia.  The courthouse itself was designed by Thomas Jefferson and dates back to 1823.  I do love researching original records in county seats.  (Read about my first experience with this in Halifax County, VA here.)  My favorite part is perhaps when I walk through the door of the records room.  All those records just waiting for me to pull them off the shelf.  I walked into the records room today and just stopped.  I let my eyes wander over the records housed there.  I could not help but ask myself:

 What and how many answers would these records hold?

Then I got down to work.  Today I was continuing my research on the Haley family, specifically my GGGG grandfather Jesse Haley.  Haley families lived in both Halifax and Charlotte Counties.  I had my research plan that I designed based on my Halifax County, VA research trip back in June. I started with the marriage records, moved on to the Wills and probates and finally onto the court records. The records  did not seem to hold the answers I was seeking.  But that's okay.  Sometimes there is as much information in what is not found in the records as what is found.

So, back home I've come to re-analyze what I know and what I do not know about Jesse Haley.  I will revise my research plan and proceed to chip away again at my brick wall.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Richard Jefferson Singleton

The Haley family has suffered another loss. On Thursday, August 11, 2011,   Richard Jefferson Singleton passed away in  Lynchburg, VA.  He was 96 years old.

Richard "Dick" was the son of James M Singleton and Ivy Leah Haley and the grandson of William and Clara Haley. Like so many in the Haley family, he was born in the Clarkton area of Halifax County, VA and resided in VA most of his life.  Read more about him here.

His family is in our thoughts.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Dear Lady Has Departed

Dorothy Adams Haley
20 Oct 1917-11 Aug 2011

I only met her once.  We are related by marriage.  Yet, I felt a kinship to this southern lady.  Since her marriage to my great grandmother's youngest  brother Clyde Haley in 1937, Dorothy was an integral part of the  Haley family.  During my time with her, she shared stories about herself and my Haley ancestors no one else could possibly tell.  She shared herself.  She shared my heritage.  For that I am truly grateful.  Our family was all the better for having her in it. She will be missed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This Is The Post In Which I Ask For Help

I have begun researching my great-great grandmother Joanna White, wife of Thomas Jefferson White. They lived in Surry county, NC. I grew up hearing about Joanna, our"Irish grandmother". Oral history is vague and included the surnames Lyons and Barrett.  Oral history also tells that Joanna was a widow when she came to America.

 I am intrigued by Joanna.  I have not done immigrant research and am looking forward to learning more about my great great grandmother and this area of research.  My long range goal is to trace Joanna's family back into Ireland.

Joanna Lyons White
b. 25 July 1852
m. 20 Sep 1874
d. 6 Jun 1910

While I held the oral history in the back of my mind, I searched the records for clues to exactly who Joanna was and exactly where did she come from.  Would facts found in the records support the family's oral history?

I started with the traditional records including the census records,  the marriage records and death records.  Right away, what I found caught me off guard.  Joanna (sometimes spelled Jonah) was not born in Ireland.  Census records give three locations for her place of birth: NC, VA, and D.C.  Following Joanna back  through the census records, finds her in the home of William Richard Wilmoth and Joanna Wilmoth in 1860 and 1870.  Joanna Wilmoth (the elder) was born in Ireland.  Later census records show both of Joanna's (the younger) parents were born in Ireland.  WR Wilmoth was born in NC. Because Joanna (the younger) was living in the home of WR Wilmoth, many researchers assumed that she was his daughter.

Here's where the story gets even more interesting.....

I came across the marriage registration for Joanna (the younger) and Thomas J. White in Surry County, NC in 1874.  Immediately, the first thing I noticed was Joanna's name.  She is listed in the marriage registration as Joanna Lyons.  Next, Thomas's parents are correctly listed in the record as Joseph and Temperance White.  Joanna's mother is listed as Joanna Wilmoth.  Joanna's father is listed as Unknown.  WR Wilmoth was still very much alive in 1874 and still married to Joanna's mother, the elder Joanna. It would appear that Joanna may well have been William Richard's step-daughter.  (There are records where the younger Joanna appears as Joanna Wilmoth. Using death records and census records I have been able to confirm that Joanna Lyons and Joanna Wilmoth (the younger) are the same woman.)

And this is the point where I get "stuck".  Where do I go from here?

  • Was Lyons Joanna's birth name or was she married prior to Thomas White as some researcher think?  I have not found evidence of a prior marriage in the records.
  • The elder Joanna appears to be the immigrating ancestor from Ireland.  I am not sure of her surname before her marriage to WR Wilmoth, though oral history tells of a young widow named Joanna Barrett crossing the Atlantic. She would have come to America before her daughter's birth in Jul 1852. 
  • Because one of the possible birth places for the younger Joanna is D.C.,  what type of records might I find pertaining to Irish immigrants in that area. in the early 1850's?  

So....if you are  a cousin or Surry County researcher who knows more of the story, I would really like to hear from you.  If you are a fellow researcher, I'm open to your suggestions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Special Photograph

This is a photograph I found in Cecile White's scrapbook.  I had never seen it, and was thrilled to have and to share it.  This is my great grandmother Stella Holyfield White holding her daughter Violet White on her lap.  To the left is my grandmother Cecile and to the right is her brother Jasper.  I see the faces of my cousins in this photograph.

One of the special things about this photograph is seeing Jasper.  Thomas "Jasper" White was the oldest child of Stella and James Abe White to live to adulthood. Unfortunately, he died in an automobile accident at the age of 19 in 1935.  This is only the second photograph I have discovered of him and I am happy to share it with my cousins.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sometimes There Is No Figuring It Out

I have recently been reading my grandmother Cecile White Howard's scrapbook that she started in 1932.  I found this photograph of the electric chair in the Dobson, NC jail pasted in among the postcards and candy wrappers she saved.  The question here is "Why?".  Why would my grandmother put this particular photo in her scrapbook?  To my knowledge, no ancestor ever sat in this chair. (I know you were thinking that!)

White family cousins,  do you know why this photograph is in Cecile's scrapbook?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Scrapbooking is Not a "New" Hobby

Scrapbooking became a very popular hobby a number of years ago.  I admit to making my share of scrapbooks when my children were little. Craft stores began to dedicate whole sections to this new hobby. I collected the craft store coupons to purchase papers, stickers and other embellishments used in the design of my pages.  I got together with friends to socialize and create our scrapbook pages.

Since I began my genealogy journey, I have become the repository of many of our family's photos and mementos.  Among these items are five scrapbooks dating from the 1940's back to the 1920's and various baby books.

My ancestors' scrapbooks have taught me a few things:

Scrapbooking is not a new hobby, and it was not just for women.

This is my Uncle Ernest Carr's scrapbook from the time he was in the navy during WWII. Ernest enlisted in the navy in 1937 and went on to spend his career in the navy. He was primarily in the Pacific arena during the war. It is an absolutely fascinating read.  Ernest included a log of the ships on which he was stationed.  He included photos of the ports he visited and the people he met.  About those people he met....some were females.  (I do not leave this scrapbook out for general viewing.)

Scrapbookers in my family used what they had on hand.

Is this not part of the fun and essence of scrapbooking?  Using what you have to represent the memory?  This is the scrapbook of Elton Carr (Ernest's sister).  She did not have a formal scrapbook, so she used an old book and just pasted over the pages.  I first wrote about Elton's book here.

A Scrapbook is where you learn about what was important to your ancestor.

As genealogists, we rely on the records our ancestors generated as part of life to track them through time and through relationships.  Most of these records such as wills, censuses, and court cases were official and legal documents.  A scrapbook is a personal record of your ancestor where the reader can learn what was important to that person.  Who was important to that person.  Scrapbooks also record your ancestors' feelings. The sense of pride my grandmother had in her basketball skills was evident in the fact she saved newspaper articles of her games.

I encourage you as a researcher to read your ancestors's scrapbooks.  Read the words they wrote.  Read between the lines to the words they did not write.  Pair the scrapbook with oral history and learn who your ancestor was beyond the official records.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Do you ever get specific impressions of  what your ancestors were like as people?  What their personalities were like?  Were they generally happy people?  Were they honorable? Were sorrow and pain a constant companion?

I get a lot of my impressions about my ancestors from the photographs they left behind.  I think we all do.  I expect that's the reason for the saying  "a picture speaks a thousand words".

That's a picture of my great grandmother Esther Richardson (left), her mother Hattie Elliott Richardson (center) and Esther's best friend Nannie Lee Farson (right).  As in this photo, Esther is almost always smiling in her photographs.  I believe she was generally a very happy person.

This is a portrait of my great-great grandmother Joanna White, wife of Thomas Jefferson White. This is the only photograph I have seen of Joanna and I know little of her life other than the basics. (Don't worry White family cousins, Joanna is high on my list of upcoming research projects.) She looks so stern and has a worried look in her eyes.  Is this how she saw life in general?  Was worry a constant companion?  Perhaps or perhaps not.  She could have been up with a sick child the night before her portrait was taken.

This is a photograph of Martha Jane (Lett) Maddox obviously taken in her later years.  She was only in her mid-60's when this photograph was taken.  My initial impression of her in this photograph is that she was a stern, no nonsense type of woman who lived a hard life.  That may be true to a degree.  She certainly knew the sorrow of losing a spouse and children during her lifetime.  But this is a case where my impression of her just from the photograph is likely not an accurate portrayal.  From her grandson's journal I learned Martha Jane was a woman who taught a young boy how to fish.  Fishing became a life long hobby for my grandfather. From an interview an elderly cousin, I learned how much Martha Jane loved her grandchildren.  It was only her poor health that prevented her from taking in her daughter Mattie's young children when Mattie died.

Here you have a few of my thoughts for a Thursday morning.  I'm off to try to see how the facts support (or not) my impressions of other ancestors.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - One Grandfather, One Doll, One Bandaid

Here is what happens when you fall asleep with young children (i.e. me) in the house.  Do so at your own risk.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm rather late in joining the fun on charting the country of birth for my ancestors (specifically my great-great grandparents).  Oh, well...better late than never.  I was very excited to put the birthplace of my great-great grandparents on a pie chart.  I had seen others in the blogging world posting fun multicolored charts depicting ancestors born in various locations.  So with great anticipation, I started creating mine pie chart. seems my ancestors have been here a while.  Next I decided to chart my great-great grandparents by the state where they were born.  (I really wanted to add some color to this chart!)

A little more color.  Still, as you can see, my ancestors stayed pretty close to home.  I do admit research is made a little easier when the ancestors did not travel far.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...