Monday, February 28, 2011

Women's History - Anna's Story

Peasants from Wikimedia Commons
My entry for Jasia's 103rd Carnival of Genealogy is a composite of recent posts about my grandmother, Anna Pereksta (1895-1982). Her story is not uncommon. She was part of the wave of peasants who left Europe for the factories and mines of the United States. The photo is actually from Finland, but accurately depicts the life she left.

She lived all but eighteen years of her life in Binghamton, NY, but it is impossible to think of her as entirely American. She grew up a 19th century peasant on easternmost edge of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She died late in the 20th century, having seen men walk on the moon from her living room couch.

You can read her story on these pages.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In search of Rachel's Hamptons, Part 2 - Surname Saturday

Descendants of Rachel HAMPTON

Many generations of family records have named my 4th great-grandmother as Rachel Hampton. I have never been able to firmly tie her to a specific Hampton family. Part 1 of this series covered family legend about her parentage and my concerns with those legends.

Rachel's and her husband Isaac had at least eleven children. Records of the Buffalo Ridge Church suggest there may also have been a pair of twin girls, Manervy and Matildy who died in June 1839.

Birth dates for Philip and Robert Hampton have been handed down in their families. In the 1930s reference was made to a Bible record for Philip's family in a DAR application. Examining early Mulkey DAR applications is one of my to-dos for this spring. Birth dates for the other children are estimated based on census records and family tradition of birth order. All the male children are named in either their father's will or Jesse's will, written in 1848. Sarah, Lucinda and Rachel appear with their parents in the 1850 census. Elizabeth and Nancy's households are enumerated next to their parents in the 1850 census.

As to Rachel's grandchildren, there were very likely other children born who died in childhood and do not appear here. Philip's family includes an infant death, supporting the possibility the information came from a family or Bible Record. The other families are based on census records and some correspondence with researchers.

Should anyone have have further information or questions about any of Rachel's family PLEASE contact me through the email or Facebook links in the right column.

First Generation

First Generation

1.  Rachel HAMPTON was born about 1795 in Tennessee and died after 1880.

Rachel married Isaac MULKEY, son of Jonathan MULKEY and Sarah, between 1808 and 1809 in Washington, Tennesee, USA. Isaac was born on 17 May 1788 in Tennessee and died in 1855 in Washington County, TN at age 67.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          M     i.     Philip MULKEY was born on 14 Jan 1810 in Washington County, TN, died before 1 Oct 1883 in St. Clair, Hawkins , TN, and was buried in St. Clair, Hawkins , TN.
  +          F     ii.     Mary "Polly" MULKEY was born in 1811 in Washington County, TN and died before 1845, probably in Barren County, Kentucky.
  +          M     iii.     Jesse MULKEY was born in 1812 in Washington County, TN and died in 1848 at age 36.
  +          F     iv.     Elizabeth MULKEY was born about 1817 in Washington County, TN and died after 1880 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     v.     Nancy MULKEY was born in 1818 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     vi.     Sarah MULKEY was born about 1818 in Washington County, TN and died before Jul 1865 in Tennessee.
               F     vii.     Lucinda MULKEY was born in 1823 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     viii.     Robert Hampton MULKEY was born on 5 Nov 1824 in Washington County, TN and died on 20 Aug 1889 in  Kentucky at age 64.
              M     ix.     Howard MULKEY was born in 1827 in Washington County, TN and died after 1848.
  +          M     x.     Hiram D. MULKEY was born in 1829 in Washington County, TN and died on 1 Apr 1872 in Washington County, TN at age 43.
              F     xi.     Rachel MULKEY was born in 1833 in Washington County, TN.

Second Generation

Second Generation (Children)

2.  Philip MULKEY was born on 14 Jan 1810 in Washington County, TN, died before 1 Oct 1883 in St. Clair, Hawkins , TN, and was buried in St. Clair, Hawkins , TN.

Philip married Ann DUNCAN a daughter of James and Sarah Duncan on 2 Jun 1831 in Washington County, TN. Ann was born on 23 Oct 1809 in Washington County, TN and died on 12 Dec 1849 in Washington County, TN at age 40.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          M     i.     Isaac Martin MULKEY was born in 1834 in Washington County, TN, died on 10 Sep 1885 at age 51, and was buried in Girard Cemetery, Girard, Macoupin, Illinois.
  +          M     ii.     James Duncan MULKEY was born in Aug 1836 in Washington County, TN and died in 1909 in Johnson City, Washington County, TN at age 73.
  +          F     iii.     Rachel MULKEY was born on 15 Sep 1839 in Washington County, TN, died on 22 Apr 1906 in Johnson City, Washington County, TN at age 66, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Johnson City, TN.
  +          M     iv.     John Robert MULKEY was born in 1842 in Washington County, TN and died about 1843 in Washington County, TN about age 1.
  +          F     v.     Anna Eliza MULKEY was born in 1844 in Washington County, TN and died in 1879 in Johnson City, Washington County, TN at age 35.
  +          F     vi.     Elizabeth MULKEY was born in 1846 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     vii.     Sarah MULKEY was born in 1832 in Washington County, TN and died after 1880 in Tennessee.

Philip next married Matilda SMITH in 1852. Matilda died in 1862.

Philip next married Mary Jane HOPPER on 10 Aug 1865 in Washington County, TN.

The child from this marriage was:
  +          F     i.     Mary J MULKEY was born in 1867 in Hawkins County, TN.

3.  Mary "Polly" MULKEY was born in 1811 in Washington County, TN and died before 1845, perhaps  in Barren County, Kentucky.

Mary married Mark W HALE. Mark was a son of Thomas and Elizabeth Hale. He was born about 1810 in Tennessee and died in Kentucky.

Known children from this marriage were:
  +          M     i.     Albert HALE was born about 1829 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     ii.     Nelson HALE was born about 1832 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     iii.     James H HALE was born about 1833 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     iv.     Isaac M HALE was born about 1835 in Washington County, TN.

4.  Jesse MULKEY was born in 1812 in Washington County, TN and died in 1848 at age 36.

Jesse married a daughter of Isaac Riggs.

His child was:
  +          F     i.     Sarah Elizabeth MULKEY was born in Washington County, TN.

5.  Elizabeth MULKEY was born about 1817 in Washington County, TN and died after 1880.

Elizabeth married John William PURCELL on 25 Mar 1836 in Washington County, TN. John was born about 1814 in Tennessee, United States and died after 1880.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          F     i.     Rachel E PURCELL was born on 23 Apr 1837 in Jonesboro, Washington, Tennessee.
  +          F     ii.     Eliza I PURCELL was born in 1840 in Jonesboro, Washington, Tennessee.
  +          F     iii.     Hannah M PURCELL was born in 1842 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     iv.     Sarah E PURCELL was born in 1844 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     v.     Hiram H PURCELL was born in 1846 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     vi.     Issac Mulkey PURCELL was born on 25 Oct 1847 in Jonesboro, Washington, Tennessee.
  +          M     vii.     Joseph William PURCELL was born on 18 Mar 1851 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     viii.     Jesse M PURCELL was born in Jun 1854 in Washington County, TN.

6.  Nancy MULKEY was born in 1818 in Washington County, TN.

Nancy married Isaac BAILS a son of David and Rachel Bales or Beals on 20 Oct 1836 in Washington County, TN.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          F     i.     Rachel Ann BALES was born in 1839 in Washington County, TN.  
  +          F     ii.     Mary E BALES was born in 1841 in Washington County, TN.  
  +          F     iii.     Lucinda BALES was born in 1842 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     iv.     Sarah E BALES was born in 1844 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     v.     Nancy E BALES was born in 1846 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     vi.     Isaac Martin BALES was born in in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     vii.     Matilda BALES was born in 1854 in Tennessee.
  +          F     viii.     Amanda J BALES was born in 1857 in Tennessee.
  +          M     ix.     William N BALES was born in 1858 in Tennessee.

7.  Sarah MULKEY was born about 1818 in Washington County, TN and died before Jul 1865 in Tennessee, United States.

Sarah married William DEPEW a son of Isaac Depew on 21 Jul 1853 in Washington County, TN.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          M     i.     Isaac J DEPEW was born about 1855 in Tennessee.
  +          M     ii.     James M DEPEW was born in 1859 in Tennessee.

9.  Robert Hampton MULKEY was born on 5 Nov 1824 in Washington County, TN and died on 20 Aug 1889 in Kentucky at age 64.

Robert married Elizabeth CARUTHERS a daughter of Samuel and Sarah Caruthers on 29 Dec 1845 in Jonesborough, Washington County, TN. Elizabeth was born about 1827 in Tennessee and died after 1880 in Kentucky.

Known children from this marriage were:
  +          F     i.     Mary Elizabeth MULKEY was born in Jan 1847 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     ii.     Martha A MULKEY was born about 1848 in Washington County, TN.
  +          M     iii.     Montgomery MULKEY was born about 1855 in Tennessee.
  +          F     iv.     Sarah Jane MULKEY was born about 1861 in Tennessee.

11.  Hiram D. MULKEY was born in 1829 in Washington County, TN and died on 1 Apr 1872 in Washington County, TN at age 43.

Hiram married Amanda FERGUSON a daughter of John and Jane Ferguson on 16 Feb 1854 in Washington County, TN. Amanda was born in 1829 in Tennessee and died in 1875 in Washington County, TN at age 46.

Children from this marriage were:
  +          M     i.     James B MULKEY was born in 1856 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     ii.     Sarah F MULKEY was born about 1858 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     iii.     Margaret MULKEY was born in 1861 in Washington County, TN.
  +          F     iv.     Cornelia V MULKEY was born in 1868 in Washington County, TN.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

411 W. Maple St. - Those Places Thursday

In 1911 my grandmother Iva Williams, who was visiting her uncle in Spencer, NC, sent this off in the morning post to her mother in Johnson City, TN telling her she would be home the next day. Not today's instant communication, to be sure, but pretty fast.

The picture on the front of the card is of the Williams' house in Johnson City - 411 W. Maple Street. After Iva's parents died her older brother Argil and his family lived there. I have vague memories of visiting his widow, my great-aunt Mae there in the 1960s. Aunt Mae died in 1971 and the house was sold out of the family. My parents took the picture below about 1990 on a hunting history trip.

411 W. Maple St., Johnson City, TN c. 1990

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Study in Contrasts - Wordless Wednesday

Flora McAdams and Reese Jackson Williams with their daughter Iva, c. 1918. 
Taken in Washington County, TN. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

"too late to catch the fast train..." - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

My grandfather Bob Sawyer wrote this letter from Portland, Oregon to his mother Catherine Conway Sawyer at home in east Tennessee in the spring of 1927. Bob and his wife, Iva had married in 1925 and had their first child the previous summer.

May 8, 1927

Dear Mother,

I thought of writing you so you would get it for Mother's Day, but I decided I would rather it on that day. I know it will be late in getting there, but you will know I was thinking of you anyway. I dont want you to think that I only think of you when I write, for I think of you every day. The older I get the more I love you, and Papa and all the family. Now that we have a Baby of our own I can see how much you have loved all of us. I can also get some idea of how much trouble we all gave you. I am afraid some of us have caused you more trouble than we are worth.

I am glad Iva will get to bring Joan home this summer. I am crazy for all of you to see her. I know you will all love her too death almost. I guess I will get so lonesome this summer while they are away. I wish it was possible for me to come with them. I will bring them back again some day when we can all come together. I can not get off from work now, and would not have the money if I could.

I am going to take a weeks vacation about July if nothing happens. I have been out here for three years now and haven't had any vacation and when I work all on the inside you really need one.

Iva leaves here the 23 of this month only two weeks more. I hope she get along alright. She will get to Knoxville too late to catch the fast train out of there, and will go on to Johnson City on the local train. Why don't you go over to Mohawk and get on the train and ride up as far as Greeneville with her, then you could stay all night with Clevel. She will go on to J_ City and stay up there for about a week to get rested from the long hard trip before she can come down home. I know you will want to see them so you can go up on the train with them. Write and tell us if you can do this. I hope you come back with Iva and Joan this fall.

Much love from your son, Robert.

Iva's parents, R.J. & Flora Williams, lived in Johnson City. Bob's sister, Clevel Luttrell lived in Greeneville, TN. Catherine did meet the train in Mohawk. She rode with Iva and the baby all the way to Johnson City and then caught a train back to Mohawk. Bob ended up moving back to Tennessee soon after this. He wired his family he had found work and arranged the move home. Iva and their child did not return to Portland but stayed in Tennessee until he arrived. Her daughters told the story that when the telegram from Bob arrived that he was coming home his mother was in the chicken coop collecting eggs. The hens scattered and the eggs went flying as she flung up her arms in celebration.

Iva's trip was lengthy. She traveled from Portland through Denver, St. Louis, and Memphis before arriving at Knoxville to catch the local train home. The local went through Morristown, where they would soon live, Mohawk, Mosheim, Greeneville, Limestone, Jonesboro before stopping at Johnson City.  I wish I knew how many days the trip took, but I'm sure she was more than ready to be home with her family when she finally arrived.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Legendary Foursome - Sports Saturday

My grandfather Bob Sawyer played golf. Regularly. Like clockwork. On Wednesdays. He and three friends had a foursome that played weekly for more than 50 years. By the time this photo was published in the local paper Granddaddy, who had macular degeneration, was nearly blind. He still managed to don his golf togs and tee up. Muscle memory and the kindest of friends, I suppose. 

The caption reads, "The legendary foursome flips for partners on the first tee at The Country Club, just as they have been doing for the last 50-odd years. From left are Bob Sawyer, Marion Roberts, Blair Reams and George Morris. W.C. Hale was on vacation and Morris gladly filled in. The average age of the this group is 72, and they play every Wednesday."

Granddaddy must have skewed the average some. He was 82 when the picture appeared in the paper. 

Source: Citizen Tribune (Morristown, TN), 18 Aug 1980, p. B-6. Digital Image. From author's personal files. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Tech - Follow Friday

In the spirit of the post-RootsTech love fest (and I did love it), I offer Family Search's new Family Tech site for your Follow Friday consideration. It's full of tips, overviews and tutorials designed for family historians and genealogists. I've spent far too much time this week browsing the various pages!

Clean design (though one of the columns was showing up off kilter in my Safari browser this morning), strong graphics, crisp writing and an RSS feed should you prefer to follow it through a reader make it a pleasure to use. James Tanner of Genealogy's Star was involved in the planning and wrote about the introduction recently. It's a great site that I'll be visiting regularly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sawyer Guardian (1892) - Amanuensis Monday


To Wm Sawyers   , A Citizen of Greene County:
     Whereas, It appearing to the County Court of said County that   Laney & Riller Sawyers      minors, and the Court being satisfied as to your right to the Guardianship of said minors, and you having given bond and qualified according to the law, and the Court having ordered that Letters of Guardianship be issued to you,
      You, are therefore, authorized to take into your possession, for the use and benefit of said ward , the profits of the lands, tenements, and hereditments belonging to them, and also the goods, chattels, and other personal estate of the said wards  ; to bring such suits or actions in relations thereto as may be deemed necessary; to return to the next Court after the date hereof a statement on oath of all the estate which shall have come into your hands or possession; to exhibit annually an account of the profits and disbursements thereof; to return a new list of the estate of said ward   two years from the date hereof; to renew your bond as such, and to faithfully perform all the duties required of you by thereof; to deliver and pay to the person lawfully authorized to receive the same, the residue of said estate, including the profits arising therefrom. Herein fail not.
      Witness, W. D. GOOD, Clerk of said Court, at office, this   3  day of    Oct     , 189 2  , and    117 year of American Independence.

                                                                                  W. D. Good              , Clerk.

Notes:  William Sawyer(s) was my gg-uncle, an older brother of my ggrandfather Jehu Stokely (Gee) Sawyers. Delaney or Laney (b. 1878) and Rilla or Riller (b. 1882) were daughters of another brother, Jacob C. (Jake) Sawyer(s) and his wife Sarah Fox. Other family receipts and records suggest Jake died in 1887. No other proof of death has been found. This receipt was part of the papers taken from Gee Sawyer's home in 1997 when the house was sold following the death of Gee's last child. William died in 1898.

Source: Wm. Sawyers Guardianship, Court Order, 3 October 1892. Digital image. Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Anna's Story - Memories and Reflections

My posts about my grandmother Anna Pereksta sparked some memories and conversation this week. Her children recalled new stories. I reflected on her significance in our lives. 

Her sons remembered her as honest, loving and hard working - a woman who held the family close. She loved her flowers. She was the first one awake in the house on Baxter Street, stoking the coal oven that heated the house before heading out to work for hours in her garden. It was, in memory, enormous - with fruit trees, chickens and full of vegetables and her flowers. I checked on Google Earth. It was a city lot, narrow but deeper than others in the neighborhood. The house is smaller than the surrounding houses. 

In the fall she would go out to the forests and pick wild mushrooms. She would string them to dry in the attic, then make a delectable mushroom soup for Christmas. She also made a caraway seed soup that is not a treasured memory for one of her children. 

Their memories reinforced what a profoundly sheltered life she led. My grandparents never owned a car. They rarely, if ever, went out to dinner. Her daughter wrote about the years after my grandfather died. 
On Sunday's we would take her out to dinner & an afternoon ride which she totally enjoyed. The first few times she got upset because she said she could feed us for a month on what we spent, but then she started enjoying herself too. She had never been to a restaurant where men were drinking.
The first time we took her to one she cringed & said "What will people think of me being in a beer joint" I told her not to worry, she was with us & not talking to men.
She had, if provoked, a temper. Her visiting father, something of a dandy, turned up his nose at her husband's work clothes. She all but showed him the door, telling him in the clearest terms that if he was sleeping in their house and eating their food she would not listen to any criticisms of her husband's attire.

My memories of Baba, as we called her, are of a quiet, gentle woman whose hands were almost always busy in the garden, the kitchen or crocheting. She seemed exotic to my 1960s, East Coast suburban eyes.

Her hair fell past her waist. She braided and put it up each morning in an era when women had short, chic hairstyles. She spoke English with a foreign accent, never completely fluent or comfortable with the language. At home I heard my mother's fading southern accent, a hint of Brooklyn, or a long New England vowel, but words flew with constant chatter, lively debate. Baba's house in Binghamton had a fenced yard, a cuckoo clock chirping the hours, crocheted lace and doilies everywhere. We had Danish teak furniture and yards that flowed from one to another. Her kitchen smelled of cabbage, onions and kolbasa. Our kitchen smelled of Betty Crocker and pancakes on the weekend. Her church was full of gold, incense, centuries-old chants and hymns in a language I did not understand. We worshipped at an Episcopalian church (a compromise for my Greek Catholic father and Southern Baptist mother), our New England pastor speaking with a suede baritone and upright dignity.

Still, many children in the New York city suburb I called home had nonnis and bubbes who spoke fractured English and had warm kitchens full of old world smells. Many of us had first-generation American parents bewildered by our tie-dyed, politicized rants. Looking back, it was not her ethnicity that made her different.

Several readers commented about her journey, leaving home and starting a new life in America. And this hints at what I so admire about her, why she is one of my personal heroines. I don't consider her brave or courageous for leaving a life that bordered on destitute and going to one with far greater promise. It was a heartbreaking choice - she surely knew she would not see her mother again. But she travelled with her father and was going to her sisters. The path had been cleared for her. She went. But once there, she held out for even more.

The first thing I heard about my grandfather, Baba's husband, was that he never drank and never raised a hand in anger. Growing up the phrases washed over me. But their significance grew as I read more about life in their immigrant community, travelled some in Eastern Europe, and spoke more with my father and aunt.

There were few choices available to women in that community. Marriage was expected. Single women lived with their families. I examined the 1920 census for Binghamton's First Ward where Baba lived. There were 1561 women enumerated as married, widowed or single born between 1890 and 1900. Twenty percent were single. Only 45 of the women, less than three percent, were single, born in Europe and living as boarders in households. Baba was included in that number, even though she was living with her sister at that time. The number of women actually living apart from their families was lower.

The only socially acceptable way to have one's own home, to have children, was to marry. But marriage was not easy. Men's drinking and beating wives were accepted parts of the culture. I have no idea what kind of marriage my grandmother witnessed growing up beyond the fact that her father would be gone for years at a time. But abuse surrounded her in Binghamton. On Baxter Street, where she lived after her marriage, the men on both sides of their home and across the street drank heavily, beat their wives and children.

Baba did not marry, despite considerable pressure from her family. She conformed in every other way to her community. But she would not marry. Eventually, she moved into a boarding house and lived as independently as a woman of her background could live. She still would not marry.

And then, suddenly, she did. She married a man she barely knew, thirteen years older than she, already balding and with a little bit of a paunch. A warm man who sang and danced, worked hard every day of his life and never raised a hand in anger. Do I believe she fell head over heels in love that day? No. Did she grill him about his beliefs and extract promises about his behavior before she would marry him? Hard to imagine, but perhaps. She surely spoke with friends who knew him and his family. His cousin had been her priest at St. Michael's before moving to Indiana a few years earlier. That may have influenced her. Some how, some way she believed that she could trust him and she married him - immediately.

There is one other reason that I adored and admired her - beyond the normal grandmother stuff of good food and hugs. She was a devoutly faithful woman and very much wanted her children to marry and live within her community and church. My mother's mother, a staunch Southern Baptist, shared those beliefs. Both my grandmothers were disappointed when my parents married. Both were disappointed their grandchildren were being raised in a different faith and far from their homes.

Despite that I never felt a moment of anything other than warm acceptance from Baba. She lived her faith, took us to church, showed us how she lived without ever suggesting, hinting or expressing in any way that our lives were wanting. She and my mother were not close - the cultural gap was too broad for intimacy. But there was not a whiff of criticism or judgement. Rather there was considerable respect and fondness. Baba was who she was and she allowed us to be who we were. It was a stark contrast to our relationship with my maternal grandmother.

My grandmother Anna was a most conservative and traditional woman. My aunt's story about their Sunday drives and dinners amuses and amazes me. Not the stuff of a risk taker or rebel. I am grateful beyond all words that her family helped her make the journey from a dirt floor hut in Europe to a factory in New York; that she was determined to marry wisely and resolute or stubborn enough to withstand the pressures to marry where she could not trust; and that she was brave enough to marry when she thought she could trust. She was beautiful, loyal and strong in the ways that mattered. She is the pivot point of my story. Far beyond the simple genetics of my existence, I owe the quality of my life to her.

My first child, my only daughter, carries her name.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Alternate Realities

    This has been a surreal day.

    I've spent it at home, snug in my robe and slippers scanning 19th c. receipts, watching RootsTech presentations streamed live from Salt Lake City and the fall of a government streamed live from Cairo.

    It is beyond my ability to process.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    A Tennessee chair - Treasure Chest Thursday

    I've no idea how old this chair is - only that it's OLD. It was one of eight at my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer's house in Warrensburg, TN. I don't know whether Gee built them late in the 19th c. (though I've never heard stories of him ever building furniture) or they were handed down to the Sawyers from another family (Gee's father-in-law made some of their furniture and may have made these chairs). I do know that according to Gee's children the chairs were always there - which makes this one at least 120 years old. We split the set up after the last Sawyer child died in 1997. I have a pair.

    Much as I love it, it's not that useful to us today. It stand only 3 feet tall and the seat is a scant 15 inches from the ground - far too small to be anything more than a child's chair in our far from petite family. We have shoes that are bigger than the chair's legs. And given how large some of the Sawyers were, it's hard to see how it withstood Gee's rowdy brood.

    But withstand it did. Today it serves to catch bags, books and laundry. Someday perhaps we'll perch a grandchild or two on our east Tennessee chairs and let them listen as we tell lies.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Isaac Mulkey's Will (1849) - Amanuensis Monday

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

    Isaac Mulkey's Will.

    I Isaac Mulkey do make and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking and making void all other wills by me at any other time made.
    First - I direct that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be paid as soon after my death as possible out of any moneys that I may die possessed or may first come into the hands of my Executor.
    Secondly. I direct that all my property including my Stock household and Kitchen furniture farming utensils books and all other  property not named in this will be given to my loveing companion for the support of her and any of my children that are single and laboring under bodily affliction to belong to my wife during her widowhood but should she marry it is to be given up to such of my single children as may be inable to make a living by their own exertions and at the death of the last of them included in this second direction I direct that it go into the hands of those that support them while they lived and my Executor is hereby directed to give up the property to my widdow Rachel Mulky as soon as he enters on his Executorship.
    Lastly. I do herby nominate and appoint my two sons Philip Mulkey and Robt H Mulkey my Executors to Carry this will into effect.
              Witness my hand and Seal 25th August 1849
                                                                                                Isaac Mulkey [seal]
    Signed Sealed and published in our presence and we have subscribed our names hereto in the presence of the Testator this 25th August 1849.
                                                                                                R. S. Ferguson
                                                                                                John Murray
    The foregoing Will was proven in open Court at October Term 1855 by R. S. Ferguson and John Murray the subscribing witnesses thereto and orderd to be recorded.
                                                                                                Henry Hoss, Clk.


    Notes: Isaac Mulkey was my gggg grandfather. When his will was written his eldest son Philip was 39 years old. His son Robert was 24 years old. 

    Witness John Murray was Mulkey's brother-in-law. R.S. Ferguson's relationship is unknown, however he may be related to Amanda Ferguson who married Mulkey's son Hiram and/or to Alexander Ferguson who married his granddaughter Sarah Mulkey. 

    It is unclear which children Isaac was referring to in his will as disabled. He had 3 males, aged 10 to 15, in his household in the 1840 census and 3 younger females, one under 10 and two aged 15 to 20 in addition to his wife. 

    In 1850 Isaac was enumerated in Washington County with his wife Rachel and four of his children still living with him - Sarah (aged 32), Lucinda (aged 27), Hiram (aged 21) and Rachel (aged 17). Robert H Mulkey was one of the males listed in the 1840 census, as was Hiram. The third may have been a son Howard who does not appear in any subsequent census listings but was named in his brother Jesse's will. The younger females' ages roughly correspond to the ages of the daughters in the 1850 census (Sarah is older than she should be if the 1840 census listing is correct). 

    Sarah may have married a Mr. Depew or she may have died. She does not appear in the household in subsequent census listings. Hiram married Amanda Ferguson. Both he and his wife died in the 1870s leaving young children. Lucinda survived her father and was enumerated in the 1860 census living with her mother, younger sister Rachel and Rachel's husband, Joseph Campbell. Lucinda does not appear in subsequent census records. Isaac's widow Rachel Mulkey was enumerated in the 1870 and 1880 census listings in the household of her son-in-law Joseph Campbell. He and his wife Rachel do not appear to have had children, but adopted a son. 

    Source: Washington County, Tennessee, Wills, 1: 565, Isaac Mulkey; Tennessee State Library and Archives roll #169.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Anna's Story - Family life and later years

    My grandmother Anna Pereksta emigrated to the United States in 1913 when she was eighteen years old. Almost ten years later she married Stefan Papp (Stephen Popp). You can read about her early life here.

    Anna with her husband and first two children
    Once they were married Stefan moved into Mrs. Dunda's boarding house in Binghamton, NY to live with Anna. She stopped working at Endicott-Johnson and they began their family. Their first child was born in December, 1923. The next year they bought their first home, a small house on Baxter Street. Two more children were born there. Anna stayed home, raising the children, tending her garden and keeping some chickens. Her life revolved around her family and her church. Binghamton's First Ward, where they lived, was a melting pot of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. Many languages and dialects were spoken in the homes and shops. People worshiped in their own churches, shopped in ethnic grocery stores, and socialized in ethnic social groups. With her sisters living nearby and her church only a few blocks away Anna was settled deep in an American immigrant community. Her parents, living in Príslop, both died in the 1930s. Half the Pereksta children settled in the United States; half had remained in Europe. In 1934 Anna became a citizen of the United States.
    Citizenship certificate, 1934
    Anna was a small woman, physically fragile, but with a strong will and work ethic. She was usually the disciplinarian, with little patience for backtalk or dawdling. In 1935 she had her first heart attack, forcing her older children to shoulder much of the housework during her year of recuperation. Even so, care was taken that the children would not be injured cooking meals. They would prepare food to be cooked, but a neighbor would come in the evening to light the stove or their father would cook once he got home. Anna continued to have heart problems for the remainder of her life, suffering multiple heart attacks over the years. She retained her will and work ethic.

    Anna and her family c. 1946
    About 1941 she and her husband bought a duplex on Cleveland Avenue. They lived in the north side of the house and rented out the south side. There was a large yard where she established her gardens. Anna did superb crocheting and needlework, decorating their home and sewing and maintaining the vestments at St. Michael's. She sewed her children's clothes until they insisted on store bought rather than home made clothes. In 1942, with her children growing up and feeling at loose ends, she briefly returned to work at EJs but stopped when her husband, fearing for her health, objected. Their oldest son went off to war but blessedly survived unharmed. Their daughter and younger son grew up and finished their schooling. When the younger son was accepted into college Anna gave him a small cache of money she'd saved to help him on his way and even did the laundry he mailed home so he'd not have to spend money on laundromats.

    Family Dinner in the early 1950s
    In 1948 her husband Stefan died suddenly while working - still a leather cutter at EJs. Her brother died the same year. Anna was 53 years old. She never remarried but remained in the house on Cleveland Avenue living much as she had before - devoted to her family, her church and her friends. Her daughter and son-in-law lived with her until 1956 when they bought their own home several blocks away. They saw her almost every day, first helping her maintain the house and garden, then caring for it and her as her health failed. Her sisters both died in the 1960s. Anna traveled twice to the west coast to visit her son and grandchildren - the flights a dramatic change from her journey across the ocean aboard the Amerika.

    Reunion in 1977
    Anna and her daughter had stayed in touch with her family in Europe, writing letters and sending packages back and forth. In 1977, sixty-four years after she left Príslop, she was able to meet the son of her younger sister Nacia who had remained in Europe. Her nephew and his wife came to the United States from Czechoslovakia to visit, though they were not allowed to bring their children. Her children and grandchildren had integrated into American life just as her nieces and nephews in Europe adapted to life under Soviet domination. In the picture Anna is standing on the left and her nephew from Europe and his wife are standing on the right.

    Anna died of heart failure on 19 October 1982. She'd said she would never die in the winter. In the mountains where she grew up, and the Southern Tier of New York where she lived most of her life, a family might wait months for the ground to thaw before they could bury their dead. She was buried next to her husband in St. Michael's Cemetery on a hill overlooking her church and Binghamton.

    You can read some final memories and thoughts about Anna here.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Anna's Story - The first years

    Delayed Birth Certificate
    My grandmother Anna Pereksta was born 10 March 1895 in the remote Carpathian mountain village of Príslop, then located in Zemplén County, Hungary. Today Príslop is in the far northeastern corner of Slovakia about 8 kilometers as the crow flies from the Polish border. It was a very small, almost entirely Greek Catholic village with a population of only 159 people in 1914.

    Anna was the sixth of eight children born to Ivan Pereksta and his wife, Olena Sidor (Hocko). When she was a young child her father, older brothers and sisters went to the United States to work. Her father would be gone several years at a time, returning home for a year or two and then returning to U.S. for work. Her mother worked their small plot of land. Food was sometimes scarce. Their home was shared with their farm animals. Little formal education was available.

    Hungarian passport
    Life could also be challenging in the U.S. for the emigres. Anna's eldest sister, married with a child and expecting a second, was unhappy in the U.S. and returned to Príslop. However, after several months of working in the fields, she opted to return to the U.S. When Anna turned 18 she emigrated to the United States arriving at Ellis Island aboard the Amerika with her father on 13 July 1913. They were held overnight until her sister Susanna arrived from Binghamton, NY. She never returned to Europe, never saw her mother, younger sister or two brothers again.

    Anna lived with her sister Sue in Binghamton and then, following Sue's marriage in 1914, with her sister and brother-in-law. She went to work as a stitcher at an Endicott-Johnson (EJ) shoe factory and remained there until her marriage almost a decade later. In the early 1920s, as her sister's family grew, she moved to live with one of her Sedor cousins (her mother's nephews). She and her cousin George Sedor were both ill for a considerable time and recuperated at a sanitarium in Saranac Lake (which is where, I believe, the above picture was taken). By the end of 1922 she had moved to her friend Mrs. Dunda's boarding house. Mr. Dunda was a leather cutter at EJs. His wife took in boarders to bring in extra money.

    Anna had been unwilling to marry, prizing her independence. But in the winter of 1923, when she was 27 years old, she met Stefan Papp (Stephen Popp), a 40 year old leather cutter working at EJs. They met on the street while she was walking with a friend who was from the same village Stefan had emigrated from two years earlier. He could not take his eyes off her and showed up at Mrs. Dunda's door the next evening. Anna, wet and bedraggled from trudging home in the snow, was sitting by the stove when he arrived. He asked her to a movie the following Saturday and, with her friend emphatically nodding yes, Anna agreed. He asked her to marry him that Saturday, explaining that he was ready to marry and raise a family. She was more than a little dumbstruck, but Mrs. Dunda and her sisters encouraged her to agree and she did. It may be the only impulsive move she ever made, but it was a good decision.

    Church Marriage Record
    His cousin was a priest in Indiana and Stefan suggested they go there to marry, but Anna wanted to be married in Binghamton where her family and friends were. After a whirlwind courtship they married on 17 Feb 1923 at St. Michael's Greek Catholic Church only a few weeks after they met.

    Anna's story is continued here.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Four Sawyer Boys, 1904 - Wordless Wednesday

    The four eldest sons of my great-grandparents Gee and Catherine Conway Sawyer: (clockwise from top) William Herbert Sawyer (19 August 1895 - 27 March 1923), James Philip Sawyer (27 August 1901 - 9 April 1931), John Conway Sawyer (11 January 1904 - 19 October 1989) and Robert Porter Sawyer (20 July 1898 - 11 September 1985).

    Four Sawyer Sons, Photograph, undated. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1986.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Genea-Resolutions Update

    One month in to 2011 and I'm already off track. This is far from unexpected. I have a long and rich history of starting projects but moving onto something more interesting once the novelty wears off (usually around day three). But I am actually fairly pleased with my efforts in January.

    I began 2011 with my first hard drive failure in many years - and the first since I started digitizing the piles of photographs and papers that are threatening to force us out of the house. It was unpleasant and ate up almost two weeks, but all has been restored. Given an actual excuse I'll take it.

    I still managed to accomplish a few things. Here's how things stand.

    Organizing Research goals -
    • I am almost finished clearing the room that will become my workroom for processing the family papers. The papers themselves have been collected and are waiting to move in. Obviously no boxes got processed. I get a C on this.  
    • The website is closer to going live. I've completed the design, the Home Page, the geographical overviews, family page introductions and some individual pages. Given the limits on computer time this month I'm giving myself a solid A.
    • No updating on the pedigree file. An F here, but I can live with it given the circumstances. 
    Blog goals -
    • I missed the biographical sketch. An F, but again, I'll forgive myself this.
    • I published a Hampton brickwall post. An A.
    • Posted at least a couple photos or transcriptions each week. Another A.
    • Blog reading. It's hard to stop at 30 minutes of reading when there are so many wonderful things to read. I managed to keep to the schedule most days, but there were a couple that simply got away from me. Of course, if you average in the days I was pretty much offline I did beautifully! I earned a B here. 
    Research goals -
    • I aced this. Of course, my goal was to stop doing research. Done. I get an A.
    Not too bad. We'll see how I do in February without a built in excuse!