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Are You My Cousin?: July 2012

Are You My Cousin?

Discovering My Ancestors -- One Cousin at a Time

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I tell the stories of my ancestors’ lives. Whether they lived 20 years ago or 200 years ago, they each have a story to tell. Some ancestors tell their stories willingly. Others must have their stories carefully teased from the records. Sometimes the stories are sad. Sometimes the stories are happy. Sometimes the stories are just funny. Regardless, my ancestors’ stories shaped their lives and the lives of those that followed. Come and share in the tales!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Travel Tuesday - Boston

Look where we have been!

Ogunquit, ME

Boston.  Concord.  Salem.  Ogunquit, Maine.

View form Fort Sewell in Marblehead, MA

Mac and Cheese at Quincy Market in Boston

Visiting New England is always a treat for this southern girl. Beautiful weather and low(er) humidity equals good hair days!

No genealogy here, but I did soak in a lot of history.

Statue of Paul Revere 
(I had fun playing with the settings on my phone's camera.)

And treats!

Cannoli from the North End in Boston


Monday, July 30, 2012

A Step Up?

Marblehead, MA Harbor

Walking along the historic streets (and cemeteries) in New England towns such as Concord and Salem, Massachusetts is a treat for someone who loves history.

I have no ancestors from New England, but I am still fascinated by those who walked these streets 400 years in the past.

Walking through these towns with teens has a way of keeping my genealogy and history interests in perspective.

I was admiring a lovely old building in Salem, MA when DD informed me the building was a home for "Aged Women".

DD: "Just for you, Mom."  (She said with a grin.)

Me: "What!"

DD: "Well, it's a step up from when we dropped  you off in the cemetery this morning!"

Ouch! That hurt!  :)


Monday, July 23, 2012

Jonah Graduates Junior High

I found this graduation announcement tucked in among various letters and postcards of my great grandmother Esther Richardson Talbott.


Having recently connected with an Elliott cousin, I discovered that Esther and her mother Harriet Elliott Richardson interacted frequently with the Elliott side of the family.  I have also been gaining a new understanding and perspective of the people and places mentioned in the Esther and Harriett's letters.

Here is one such example:

Jonah Elliott was the son of Elias Elie Elliott and Novella King Owen. He was born in 1904 and in 1922 he celebrated his graduation from Buffalo Springs Junior High School. 

Graduation invitations have not changed much since 1922.  They still consist of a printed invitation with a signature card.  Jonah's signature card is a thin piece of paper.  I would like to think that this is Jonah's original signature - something all genealogists and family historians seek out.  

Likely (hopefully!) it is Jonah's signature.

But I'm a mom of teenagers.  

I cannot imagine that 18 year boys liked sitting down to fill out invitations anymore then than now.  Jonah's signature might be his mother Novella's handwriting.

What do you think?

Jonah's handwriting or his mother's?

I love the size of the Jonah's graduation class!  Six!  No room to hide from the teacher here.


Friday, July 20, 2012

A Great Read!

I love to read.

I come from a family who likes to read.

My great grandmother (Winnie Haley Carr) used to churn butter with one hand and hold a book in the other!  While I haven't churned butter while reading, I have stirred a pot.....

This summer I picked up a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (This book is the summer reading book for East Carolina University.)  It is an extraordinary story of a woman whose cells were taken during a medical procedure without her knowledge in 1951. These cells became known as the Hela cells and became the basis for many medical research advances including the polio vaccine, gene mapping and even cloning.

The science is fascinating. The issues of medical ethics, rascism and family dynamics gave me much to ponder.  Sometimes the reading was difficult.  Life for Henrietta and that of her family was never easy.

I think the most intriguing aspect of the book is that it appealed to me as a genealogist.  Rebecca Skloot used many of the same genealogical research techniques I as genealogist use in order to uncover the story of Henrietta and that of her family.  She interviewed experts in the medical field.  She interviewed members of Henrietta's family including her extended family.  She researched the time and place where Henrietta grew up. She visited the Lack home place in Clover, VA.

She was persistent.  Because of her persistence, Henrietta's story is known.

While not a "genealogy" book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  has a place in my genealogy library.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel Tuesday - The National Zoo

Tiger, National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C.

Another popular place visited by my family is the National Zoo in Washington, DC.  These vintage postcards are from a vacation in the 1950's, but could just as easily be from today.  The National Zoo was a favorite destination for my family a few years ago!

Elephant, National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Accident or Something More Sinister?

Answering a recent query on has led to some remarkable discoveries in my Elliott family line.  My new found information also brought clarity to some of the letters and postcards  written to and from Harriett Elliott Richardson - my GG grandmother.

For instance, this letter from Cynthia  (Elliott) Barnett of Cluster Springs, VA to her sister Harriett (Elliott) Richardson of Mecklenburg County, VA:

First page of letter from Cynthia Barnett to Harriet Richardson

In the 31 Jan 1913 letter Cynthia (she signed her name Sis) tells her sister that "Sam was killed". Cynthia states there are questions surrounding the circumstances of Sam's death and if it was indeed an accident or actually murder. He is buried at Black Walnut Baptist Church and Elie was the only family member able to travel quickly enough to attend.

I had read this letter before, but had no reference point in which to place the people mentioned.   After corresponding these past few weeks with a Barnett/Elliott descendant, I can share Cynthia's full story of Sam.

Sam was Sam Barnett of Cluster Springs, VA.  He was the husband of Cynthia Elliott and brother-in-law of Harriett Richardson.  Sam supposedly died when he was hit by a train and he was found on the train tracks.  Suspicions abounded and an inquest was held. One of the questions addressed involved whether Sam was killed at the train tracks by the train or elsewhere and them moved to the train tracks. Sam was a sheriff's deputy who had broken up a number of stills in the county.  Apparently that made him a few enemies.  John Talbott testified that just prior to the incident he had seen Sam and he was intoxicated, but too much so.  Shortly thereafter, John Talbott testified he heard the accident.  The inquest proved inconclusive at least in the minds of many.  Cynthia was left with no real closure in the incident.

Elie who was the only family to travel to the funeral was Elie Elias Elliott, Cynthia and Harriet's brother.  Until  now I had thought Elie was a woman and not a man. Lesson learned.  One should never make assumptions in genealogy.

Did you notice the name of the person testifying at the inquest - John Talbott?  One of my GGG grandfathers.

Was Sam's death the result of an accident or something more sinister? What do you think?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oral History Is So Much Fun!

Me (Lisa), Grandmom, and Aunt Nancy
Oral history is so much fun to collect. Stories about people and clues to your ancestors can be gleaned that are cannot be found in the "official" records.

In search of more family stories led me on another visit to my paternal grandmother.  While she may not want me to tell you her age, let's just say she's 90 (cough!) +.

I have interviewed my grandmother a number of times.  Each time more memories seem to emerge and new details around old stories come to light.

So, what did I learn?

  • Important clues to the possible identities in an "unknown" photograph.
  • More about the relationship and close interactions between my Elliott (Barnett) and Talbott ancestors. 
  • Information and clues about my GG grandfather's (Will Haley's) brother John  Haley. 
  • Young cousins can earn enough money worming tobacco to pay for gas money to go see their first airplane!
  • Four generations spending time together is worth all the travel!
As I sort through and evaluate all the new clues I gained, I will keep you updated on my Halifax County, VA ancestors.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel Tuesday - Vintage Grandfather Mountain Postcard

Mile High Swinging Bridge on
Grandfather Mountain-
Western North Carolina
This vintage postcard from the 1950's depicts the mile high swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina.  It is till a popular tourist attraction today.

Ahh... the cool of the mountains would be refreshing on these 100 degree summer days!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Did John Seagroves Lie?

Did John Seagroves lie on his Revolutionary War pension application?


Maybe not.

John Seagroves (Seagraves) of Surry County (and Granville County, NC before that) was closely associated with John White of Surry County.  (John White was my GGGG grandfather.)  A fellow genealogist (Hi, Jack!) and I have found ourselves researching John Seagroves to hopefully learn more about our John White.  As often happens, we have found some inconsistencies John Seagroves' story.

In 1818, John Seagroves applied for his Revolutionary War pension.  He served in the Revolutionary War for 2 years in the 6th NC Regiment out of Granville County, NC.  In his application, John stated that he was essentially destitute and had incurred debts.  John stated he was a hatter and unable to perform that work due to an unnamed infirmity.

Here is where things get a little tricky.

1814 - John Seagroves was living in Surry County, NC close to William Tucker.
1817 - John Seagroves applied for a land grant in Surry County, NC of 300 acres adjoining Ezekiel Wilmoth and William Tucker and William Smith on or near Little Fishing River.
1818 - John Seagroves applied for his Revolutionary War pension and testified he was destitute.
1819 (Feb 5) - John was awarded a military pension of $8 per month to be paid in arrears from Sep 1818.
1819  (Dec) - The land grant is issued to John Seagroves.  A note on the back indicates John Seagroves paid for the land in full.  Unfortunately, the price per acre of land is not listed on the document.

Did John have money hidden away to pay for the land?  After all, he testified a year earlier that he was destitute and unable to work.

By Dec of 1819, John would have collected about $144 from his pension. Would this have been enough to take care of his debts and pay for his land as well?

Quite possibly.   If this is the case, then John Seagroves did not lie on his pension application.  He likely started the land grant process and the pension application process in hopes of obtaining the money to purchase the land.

John Seagroves continued to live on the land until his death on 26 Jan 1833. John Seagroves left his land to John White, my GGGG grandfather.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th Of July!

Happy 4th Of July!!!!!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Travel Tuesday - The Great Smoky Mountains

Swinging Bridge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Summer is here.  The 100+ degree temperatures leave no doubt about the season of year.  Besides warmer temperatures, summer also ushers in the season of vacations.  Just where did my ancestors and family members vacation?  Turns out they went a lot of places and collected a lot of postcards. (Lucky me!)

These 100 degree days also leave one longing for the cooler temperatures of the NC  mountains.  The mountains were a popular spot for the vacationers in my family.

The Smoky Mountain National Park straddles the NC and TN border close to Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC.  The Smoky Mountains continues to be a popular vacation spot.  With gorgeous scenery, hiking, wildlife viewing,... there is something for everyone.
Fairy Cave - Tuckaleechee Caverns - "In The Smokies"

These postcards are from the 1950's.  I love the colors from the older postcards.

Stopped for Inspection by Native Black Bears, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I have seen a bear in the Smoky National Park, fortunately, not this close.  The black bear I saw was up in a tree.  Once he started down, all the tourists left!  

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