Monday, May 31, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: McAdams Family Record, page 1

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is the first page of the McAdams Family Record I scanned and posted separately.  It details the family of Thomas C. McAdams (1806-1881) of Washington County, Tennessee.  Better minds than mine can decide if it's an original (derivative), secondary or full of baloney source.  And before anyone asks, yes they really did have 11 children - all boys.


(Maternal)       (John Stephenson,     May 27, 1779
                     (Elizabeth Cloyd,      October 15, 1781

(Paternal)       (Hugh McAdams       August 22, 1772
                     (Isabella Bryson         September 14, 1776

(Parents)         (Thomas C. McAdams, Sr.     December 5, 1806
                     (Cynthia Stephenson,       April 30, 1817

                     Matthew J. McAdams,     August 15, 1835
                     John C. McAdams,      December 30, 1836
                     Hugh M. McAdams,     November, 30, 1838
                     David B. McAdams,     February 3, 1841
                     William P. McAdams,     March 14, 1843
                     Samuel B. McAdams, Jr.     February 3, 1845
                     R. N. McAdams,          December 3, 1847
                     Jas. H. McAdams,        February 14, 1850
                     Chalmers S. McAdams,     February 16, 1853
                     Thomas C. McAdams, Jr.     August 29, 1855
                     C. A. H. McAdams,     April 5, 1858


Hugh M. McAdams,              July 14, 1840
William P. McAdams,            April 11, 1844
Matthew J. McAdams,           June 19, 1863
David B. McAdams,              January 21, 1871
Chalmers S. McAdams,         December 14, 1873
Cynthia S. McAdams,            October 20, 1874
Thomas C. McAdams, Sr.      January 1, 1881
Ralph E. McAdams,               June 16, 1882
    "     "        "         born     Jan 15, 1882

(This information copied from family record by R. N. McAdams, July 21st, 1878).

It is clear the last three deaths listed were added after R.N. McAdams copied the record from his father's family record.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    A New Recipe

    We define ourselves by race, by ethnicity, and some of us, by our religions. I am far more interested in tracing my religious lineage than the others. My son is getting married soon, and joyful as that is, the planning has prompted more reflection on the role of faith and church in our lives and the choices we've made. I chose to change churches after I married, as my parents did before me.

    John Newmark wrote about about religion and genealogy recently at TransylvanianDutch. I agree with him. I am wholly Roman Catholic (holy? alas, no); wholly American. I am not the sum of an ancestral equation or even sprouted from ancestral roots. Way too hybrid for that. If there is a metaphor, perhaps its a recipe - something new (and yummy) created out of a cup of this, a pinch of that. I may have to change the name of this blog... Nolichucky Soup?

    That said, my passion is researching those ingredients - or roots - or equations. Only in adulthood did I match Carpatho-Rusyn, Scots-Irish, English and German ethnic labels to my Greek Catholic, Presbyterian and Baptist grandparents and ancestors. (I suppose the Germans were Lutherans at one point, but by the time they landed in Tennessee they were somewhat casual Baptists.) Many of the family stories revolved around their churches. Certainly their lives did. We visited their churches as regularly as we visited their homes.

    My husband's family is of English and German ancestry, centuries removed from their immigrant forebearers. They might label themselves as Marylander or western rancher, if pressed. The German heritage is still mentioned over beer. But they, too, define themselves by their church.

    Perhaps the religious labels are so strong because each of us came from "mixed" marriages of Catholic and Protestant; marriages not universally celebrated by our parents' families. Perhaps it's because our families did have real roots in their respective Churches. My Baptists have been Baptists since the Great Awakening, preaching and building churches as they moved with the frontier - defining their communities by their churches. My husband's Roman Catholics maintained their faith despite more than a century of oppression in this country and full-blown war in England before that. My Greek Catholics clung to their traditional church when they came to this country, fighting numerous court cases against the Roman Catholic Church (and each other) to worship with their married clergy in this country, as they had in Europe. They finally broke their ties to Rome in 1938. Each family devoted as much, if not more, energy to their religious identity as to their political, racial or ethnic identity.

    So, when I research our families, I study their churches as much as any other part of their lives. I get my thrills from the itinerant preacher and missionary priest, the merchant who sent his nephews and nieces to Catholic schools, a long ago Salem witch (alleged) or a hint of Jewish ancestry.

    Further reading:  Two brief articles outlining the separation of some Carpatho-Rusyn immigrant churches in America from Rome can be found below.  For far more detail see John Slivka's 1978 work Historical mirror, sources of the Rusin and Hungarian Greek Rite Catholics in the United States of America, 1884-1963

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Teeter Tottering through Genealogy

    I've been thinking about labels and about how we choose to identify ourselves.  I read a mesmerizing series in the LA Times by Mike Mozingo about racial and family identity.  Luckie Daniels prods me to examine my own attitudes about almost everything, but especially about self identity at Our Georgia Roots.  My own research has come up against a racial divide with significant evidence of mixed race ancestry provoking disturbing responses from other researchers.  And Martin Hollick sparked more thought with his post The Pandora's Box of Genealogy.  What do we do with information that troubles or disturbs other members of our family?  Do we become keepers of secrets as well as of records?

    How we define ourselves changes with each generation.  In my family, ethnicity has been a complex issue. My father's family came from an area where borders and rulers changed so frequently during the 20th century that it seems tidal.  Political turmoil dictated that family ties were interrupted for decades, languages and the role of the church were forcibly changed.   Meanwhile, first and second generation Americans and Canadians defined an ethnicity as Carpatho-Rusyn that had been referred to as Lemko, Ruthenian, Rusnak or Rusin by earlier generations.  Discussions of the ethnicity can become heated.  Are my cousins today in Slovakia or the Ukraine Carpatho-Rusyn?  Many here say yes.  Many of them said no.  And it seems to me they have the right to say just that.  Their lives were transformed by the fall of the Soviet Union and are being redefined by their developing nations and nationalities.  If they chose to focus on that and not on their grandparents and great-grandparents lives, so be it.  Their own children and grandchildren may feel differently.  But surely they have the right to define themselves.  

    Can adoptees choose which family they belong genealogically?  I think so.  Genealogy is far more than genetics.  Not all adoptees long for information about their families of origin.  One adoptee I know has a pat but pointed response to those questioning why he doesn't seek out his biological parents, "Why look for trouble?  Healthy families don't give their children away."  Harsh, perhaps, but heartfelt.  Is he hiding his adoption?  Not at all.  It's out there for all the world to see.  Would I look?  Absolutely, but it's not my life.  

    How do we research people or issues that cause pain to the living?  I may be darkly fascinated by the raging alcoholics littering our family trees but not everyone is.  For some the stories are reminders of their own lives and not something they want to reflect on or share.  And they shouldn't have to.  Do I record the stories?  Yes, and I share them with anyone who expresses interest.  Do I publish them?  No.

    Recent DNA testing has provided some unexpected results and I am torn as to how to proceed.  As a woman, none of the tests are mine.  I am dependent on others.  One result in a family I am researching has a haplogroup B which is clearly African, something that supports several 19th c. census listings of mulatto.  Rather than provoking discussion or interest, the topic has simply disappeared.  I haven't forced the issue, and maybe everyone else is doing the same, but I wonder how far should one push others to examine topics they may not want to examine?  Another test for surname group showed no matches to that surname, but several matches to another surname.  The cousin tested has stopped responding to my emails.  I want to explain that it's great information, that it could indicate a name change, an adoption just as easily as an illegitimate or adulterous birth.  Whatever happened may have been generations ago.  But it could have happened very recently.  He's not interested in pursuing any further testing.  And, reluctantly, I think I have to move away from this project.   

    In all cases I am recording the information.  But at this point I am not sharing it unless it is clear the person is ready to hear what I have to share.  It's a balancing act, weighing respect for the living with my research into the past - and I don't always feel well-balanced.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Follow Friday: More than name studies

    Two of my favorite websites share name study research done by meticulous researchers. Each is far, far more than a name study. Both include hundreds (or thousands) of abstracted deeds and legal records sorted by location that provide information about neighbors and extended family links. Both websites can be easily searched using Google or the find feature on your web browser.

    Mary Ann Dobson, aka The Genealogy Bug, has posted her Duncan Research Files, which include a massive collection of abstracted records she has collected over decades of Duncan family research. Included is a 1991 revision of her book Some Duncan Families of Eastern Tennessee before 1800. For those researching in East Tennessee it's one-stop shopping - especially since there were several large Duncan families living there. Their marriages, land records and estates link them to dozens, if not hundreds of other families. Her notes, sources and website organization are superb and her work covers far more than East Tennessee. She has Duncan files for every state except Hawaii. Wonderful, generous work.

    Carl Lawson, administrator for the Lawson Surname DNA Project, has organized his Lawson research into beautifully laid out timelines for 45 Virginia counties, emphasizing Colonial and Early Federal records. The Lancaster County Timeline, for example, includes hundreds of abstracts from 1648-1847. A quick search yields 8 references to Merediths and 7 references to Conways. There are also timelines for three North Carolina counties. Lawson, too, gives clear source information. I've found the timeline presentation so useful that I've adopted his timeline organization for my personal research log adding columns for source information and notes. Another generous researcher.

    Hats off to Dobson and Lawson for sharing the fruits of their labors.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Madness Monday: Skip to my Lu(ria)

    There is something ironic about the fact that having finally begun blogging about the multi-generational "American" families I research, I am presently focusing on my Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry.   Which very naturally brings me to Madness Monday.

    My recent baptismal record finds prompted some questions from my father regarding immigration records.  I have found multiple records for the members of his family who travelled back and forth from Europe to U.S., found the single immigration records for his parents, uncle and aunts who stayed in the U.S., found them all except for his aunt Sue, Suzanna Pereksta (left).   Buoyed by my recent success I decided to try once more.

    I went back to and Steve Morse's brilliant One Step search pages.  I was able to narrow the search date to 1911 since both the 1920 census and family records gave this as her arrival year.  Using every wildcard I could think of I finally found her as "Susie Perexta" in the Hamburg Passenger Lists leaving Feb. 1, 1911 on the Accrington.  Eureka!  All I needed to do was find the manifest for the Accrington arriving in the States and work through it until I found her.  Several hours and pointless searches later I finally read through the entire Hamburg List record and realized the Accrington didn't go to the United States in February, 1911.  It went to England.  I am frequently my own worst enemy.

    Take two (actually take three on this project) involved far broader wildcard searches.  In the end she appeared in the Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 database - arriving in Philadelphia from Liverpool on Feb. 22, 1911 aboard the Haverford, indexed as "Luria Peresla" heading to her brother in Berwick, PA.   Far be it from me to criticize the indexers, but really - Luria?  Fortunately allows annotations.

    So she's been "found" and I can now prove, conclusively, that the aunt my father grew up seeing every week of his childhood (if not more often), the aunt who housed my grandmother when she arrived in the United States, the aunt whose name I share, actually came to America.  There's a bit of madness for you!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Books, books and more books

    I know it's not really mine, or even my family's, but my favorite treasure right now is an amazing library on the other side of my keyboard.   I love, love, love Google Books.  It's such a gold mine for genealogy.  Knowing that they are constantly adding new material, I try to search 3 or 4 times a year for information on my toughest projects.  This time I found gold.  

    I have been researching the family of Edward Turner (d. 1805, Fauquier County, Virginia) for more than 20 years.  His daughter Sarah married Joseph Conway in 1788 shortly before they moved to Tennessee.   I've learned a lot about Edward, but I still don't know who his parents were or where he was born.  Virginia and Maryland are littered with Turners and at least three Edwards were in Fauquier at the same time.  I believe he is linked to a Northumberland County Turner family but haven't found absolute proof.  Ironically, I knew more about his daughters because they had the good sense to marry men with somewhat unique names before he died and his estate settlement papers referred to both their husbands and the locations where they were living.

    Dreams of DNA testing filled my head but I couldn't tell if any of the Turner men already tested were descended from my Edward.  I needed to learn more about the sons.  They've proven elusive.  Estate records name John, William, James, Edward, Lewis, Sarah, Mary and Ann.  A possible fourth daughter, Elizabeth, died in Kentucky about the same time as Edward.  The records showed that William was in the Natchez Territory, Sarah in Tennessee and Mary in Kentucky.  The inference was the others were in Virginia, but there was very little trace of them there.  Hints of other family migration to Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi have proven impossible to confirm.

    Until I headed to Google books and searched for "edward turner fauquier".   There, in Alexander K. Marshall's Decisions of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky (Cincinnati: Henry W. Derby, 1848) was a case, John Turner et al., Executors, John Debell, Executor, that proved that Edward's son James and an unnamed brother/executor had moved to Fleming County, KY where James had died.  The other brother had remained in Virginia.   John & Lewis were named executors in the law suit so one of them ended up in Kentucky and the other in Virginia.   Even better is the fact that a known descendant of James Turner has been tested and his DNA matches the Northumberland County Turners.   My own legal thriller - complete with forensics!  The book, by the way, was digitized this past January.  

    I kept looking and found a nugget on son Edward in a biography of his previously unknown (to me) son W.H. Turner of Campbell County, KY in a late 19th c. book, Kentucky: a history of the State.... by William Henry Perrin (F.A. Battey, 1887).    He, too, had left Virginia for Fleming County before moving to Campbell County late in his life.    

    So now I know where four of Edward's sons went from Fauquier County.  James and Edward went to Kentucky along with their sister Mary.   Lewis appears in the 1820 Fleming County Census so he's presumably the one named in the appeal living in Kentucky.  John stayed in Virginia (though I still find little evidence of him).   Only William, who headed south along the Natchez Trace remains unaccounted for.   Not the mother lode, but enough to keep me digging.  

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Madness Monday: Just ‘Cause it’s in a Book Don’t Make It So

    When I began researching my husband’s Northern Neck family I referred to several published genealogies.  His family claimed ties to the Lees of Virginia through their paternal grandmother, and I admit I was skeptical.  There aren’t many more well documented families and none of the books I examined supported the stories they gave me.  Turns out they were right and books were wrong.

    Published genealogies are helpful in outlining complicated relationships or suggesting avenues for research.  But they are also obstacles when, as will happen, they contain erroneous information or assumptions.   The family information was that paternal great-grandmother Margaret Meredith’s mother was a Lee and that her father was Thomas Lee of Lancaster County, Virginia.  But two of the most respected (deservedly so) genealogies contained information contradicting that family information. 

    One, Chester Horton Brent’s The Descendants of Hugh Brent (Rutland, Vt: The Tuttle Pub. Co., Inc, 1936) had Margaret as the daughter of John Meredith and Ann Steptoe Brent (p. 134) and cited an 1834 Lancaster County suit naming Ann Brent as Meredith’s widow and Margaret as his daughter.  Seemingly strong evidence.  Several years of  sporadic and fruitless research went into finding a Lee connection through Ann Brent.  The second, Edmund Jennings Lee’s Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892 : biographical and genealogical sketches of the descendants of Colonel Richard Lee… (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1974) listed a Thomas Lee in the Cobbs Hall Line (p. 568)
    "Thomas5, the only son of Charles Lee4 (Charles3, Charles2, Richard1) and Joannah Morgan, his wife, is said to have married and left a son Thomas6, who was born in 1795 and died in 1851 ; was married, in 1818, to Margaret Ormand, and had five children: James Ormond, Elizabeth, Ann, Elizabeth Ormand, and Sarah Ann Lee7."
    Lee is clear that his information on Thomas is not confirmed, but as further research pointed to this Thomas Lee as the grandfather of Margaret Meredith this entry caused me considerable concern. 

    Proving that Margaret was not the daughter of Ann Steptoe Brent and was the granddaughter of Thomas Lee was easy once I found the suit for final division of Thomas Lee’s estate abstracted in Virginia Land Causes: Lancaster County 1795-1848; Northampton County  1731-1868 by Stratton Nottingham (Baltimore: Heritage Books, 1991), p. 17.
    "Robert T. Dunaway, Guardian & c; vs.
    Suit for Division.
    Henry C. LAWSON, et ux, et als.
     Bill of complaint --- Humbly complaining; ... Robert T. Dunaway, guardian and next friend of Eliza & John TOWILL, That Thomas LEE died about 1809 or 1810, intestate, and possessed of considerable land and personal estate, leaving a widow and three children, namely John, Margaret and Ann;  Margaret intermarried with Henry C. LAWSON and Ann intermarried with Thomas TOWILL.  That by an order of the County Court of Lancaster ... divided the said real estate of the said Thomas LEE among his heirs as follows: To the widow 113 ¾ acres; to John LEE 75 ½ acres; to Henry C. LAWSON, in right of his wife who was Margaret LEE, 71 ½ acres; to Thomas TOWILL, in right of his wife who was Ann LEE, 71 ½ acres, and to LAWSON & TOWELL 7 ½ acres jointly being woodland  John LEE died under the age of 21 years, without issue and intestate; Thomas TOWILL is also dead, and the widow of Thomas LEE has also long since died; Ann TOWILL, who was Ann LEE,  the widow of Thomas TOWILL, intermarried with John MEREDITH, she the said Ann MEREDITH, who was Ann LEE, is also dead and left four children by her first marriage, namely Charles, Ann, Eliza  and John TOWILL, and two by her last marriage, namely Margaret and Thomas MEREDITH…"
    "21 April 1834"

    Scanned copies of the original documents are now available online through the Lancaster Chancery Court records of the Library of Virginia. 

    This information clearly shows that Brent was in error assuming Margaret was the daughter of Ann Steptoe Brent based on the 1834 dower case.  It was reasonable, but wrong.  Of course, because Brent’s work has been used so extensively over the years, it’s an error that lives on in many online genealogies. 

    Nothing so definitive has turned up to prove that this Thomas Lee was the son of Charles and Joannah Morgan Lee cited by Edmund Jennings Lee and in other Lee genealogies.  However, a timeline of Lees appearing in Lancaster County records between 1789 and 1800 coupled with Charles Lee’s will probated in 1792 and the 1834 final estate division of Thomas Lee’s estate supports the thesis. 

    1789 Lancaster County Tax List  (scanned images posted online by Binns Genealogy)         
    Charles Lee, owns 300 acres.  
    Hancock Lee, owns 400 acres
    Thomas Lee, owns 30 acres

    1792 Probate of Charles Lee’s will (quoted in Lee of Virginia, p. 565)
    Divides land between widow and son, Thomas 

    1797 Lancaster County Tax List (scanned images posted online by Binns Genealogy)
    Johannah Lee owns 150 acres
    Thomas Lee owns two tracts, 30 acres and 150 acres

    1800 Lancaster County Personal Property Tax List   (scanned images posted online by Binns Genealogy)
    Johannah Lee 0 white tithes, 5 black tithes, 7 young blacks, 1 horse 
    Thomas Lee 1 white tithe, 2 black tithes, 6 young blacks,  2 horses

    1810 U.S. Census ( database entry for Tho Lee, Lancaster, Lancaster, Virginia)         
    Thomas Lee Household of 5 with 20 slaves

    1834 Lancaster County Chancery Court Case (scanned images posted online at the Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory website)
    Final division of Thomas Lee’s estate refers to 339 ¾ acres of property

    This supports my belief that Thomas Lee inherited 150 acres of land upon his father Charles Lee’s death and another 150 acres and 12 slaves upon the death of his mother, Joannah Morgan Lee after 1800.  I do not know the source of the additional 9¾ acres he held at death, but don’t feel this hinders my assumptions regarding Thomas and his parentage.

    So who is the Thomas Lee who married a Margaret Ormand referred to in Lee of Virginia?  I don’t know.  I’ve had no luck finding sources supporting his existence.  If he was born in 1795, he would have been a minor when Thomas died around 1810 and ought to have been included in the original estate division referred to in the 1834 Chancery Court case.  He was not.  The elder Thomas Lee was married in 1780, so perhaps he was older and had already received property from his father.  It’s a mystery.

    But I am comfortable stating that Charles Lee and Joannah Morgan had a son Thomas who was the father of Ann Currell Lee Towell Meredith and the grandfather of Margaret Meredith.  The irony is that I’m relying on Edmund Lee’s work and that of other genealogists for the trail back to Richard the Immigrant – until someone proves them wrong.  

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    On a Mission

    I've been housekeeping - sorting through some of the  old photo albums I've inherited.  I've no idea who some of them belonged to, probably great-aunts or cousins long gone from this world.

    Most of the photos are not labeled and I only recognize a very few people.  But one album contains pictures that must have been sent by Baptist missionaries in Manila around 1915 - next to photos of friends and neighbors on picnics, grannies rocking on porches and young men looking a bit like Clyde Barrow - or Warren Beatty.

    It's a strange juxtaposition until I remember how fiercely devoted those aunts and grandmothers were to the missions.  My feelings can be described as ambivalent, at best.  But they set great store in their missionaries, recorded their names with pride, kept and shared the letters mailed home and treasured the photographs.

    Today, to my modern and more than jaundiced eye the photographs seem manipulative and exploitative, but no more so, I suppose than those we see on the news - or YouTube.  So why are they so disturbing to me?  Freud would have a field day.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Sentimental Sunday: Things go round

    I've been thinking about circles, of patterns and connections, of details that connect people in the different families I've researched over the years.  Little things that absolutely fascinate me for no reason other than they hint at the community of our past, rather than the individuality.  

    So here's a list of quirky facts.  It's not comprehensive - just the favorites that astonish or delight me.

    Shoes.  We all wear them but I have shoemakers on both sides of my family.  My father's immigrant parents worked in a shoe factory in upstate New York.   My grandfather, a state policeman in Europe, spent the last half of his life as a leather cutter.   One of my Tennessee great-grandfathers was a cobbler.  I have two of the shoe molds he used on a bookshelf with family photos.  My cousin uses his cobbler's bench in her living room as a coffee table.

    Mountains and rivers.  I come from mountain people on both sides of my family - one family from the Carpathian Mountains and one from the Smokies.  And both my grandfather's grew up next to rivers - the Nolichucky in Tennessee and the Rika in today's Ukraine.  Toss in the Rappahannock river in my husband's family background and there's a theme developing.

    Virginia's Northern Neck.  My Conway and Turner ancestors lived there.  So did my husband's Palmer, Meredith and Lee ancestors.  Some of them were 17th century neighbors, witnessing documents or suing one another.

    Booze and alcoholism.  The gift that keeps on giving.  Both my husband and I have raging alcoholics in our background - some of them almost legendary.  It would be hard to say who gets the prize - my uncle who firebombed the church or his uncle who rode almost naked into town chased by imaginary ghosts.

    Kansas.  Somehow we keep cycling through this state.  My Tennessee great-grandmother lived there for 3 years as child when her father claimed a Civil War land grant.  Her brothers were born there before her parents quit and went back home.  My husband's great-grandfather homesteaded there before moving on to Wyoming in the early 20th century.  His grandfather was born there.  And our daughter was born there when my husband accepted a job in Wichita.  Like our family before, we moved on, but I have a soft spot for the state where we started lives together.

    Avery.  At one time I thought my husband and I were Avery cousins - umpteenth times removed.  (I now believe we aren't, that my 4th great grandmother was the second wife rather than the Avery first wife of my gggggrandfather.)  And our children both went to Avery Elementary School.  I know there are probably tens of thousands of Avery descendants, but it still amazes me.