Monday, May 30, 2011

Saluting our World War II Veterans

While immersed in the Civil War, on this Memorial Day I want to especially recognize the three living members of our family who served during World War II. My thanks and admiration to each of you. We're blessed to have such a mother, grandmother and uncles with us.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday evening wrap up

A hodge podge day with hodge podge results.

I spent hours looking at admixture results for our DNA testing. For someone who literally dreams about maps, vectors and migration patterns (not normal I know, but I really don't have much control over my dreams) it's been fascinating. I've always seen traces of central Asia in my grandmother's face, a slight oriental cast to her eyes. While my father's family has been firmly planted in the shadows of the Carpathian Mountains as far back as we can trace them, that's no more than 200 years. It's clear from the DNA tests that somewhere in the previous 10,000 years or so his ancestors (MY ancestors) were tromping across Asia. While 75% of his DNA reads as European in the latest admixture test, 25% is a mix of Middle Eastern, Asian and North African. Forget finding Charlemagne. I'm hunting Ghengis Khan! And one note to my descendants - all that DNA you think might be Indian comes from your European Grandfather, NOT your Colonial American Grandmother.

Switching gears, I searched for Meredith information and found some information about a John & Thomas Meredith who were merchants in Easton, MD in the early 19th c. I would very much like rule these guys in or out as my John & Thomas Meredith but it's not clear yet.

Finally, I'm assembling some information on my grandmother Anna Pereksta's family for a new-found cousin and am, of course, obsessing over what I don't know or haven't well documented. He's more interested in what I do know and that's what I need to focus on. HOWEVER, during my one (ok, there were four of five) last check on FamilySearch I found a fascinating record.

I mentioned in an earlier post about the Perekstas that my aunt knew a family in Binghamton, NY where the first husband had been George Pereksta. He was a cousin of some sort, was working as a miner in Vermont when he was killed in a mining accident. I did not mention that his wife was named Susie and that they had a daughter Katherine before he died.

Today someone new, Katie Perkesta born 1905 in New York, showed up on my screen. Since I thought I'd found every possible Pereksta in the US after 1900 I was startled. Katie was enumerated in the 1905 New York State Census which can now be viewed. I viewed.


Katie was listed as the 5 month old daughter of Mike and Susie Pereksta both born in Austria (the Empire, not today's nation). Just as I was beginning to remember a Susie with daughter Katherine I saw Mike's occupation. Slate quarryman. The bells went off! That's awfully close to a miner. Then I looked up Granville on a map. It's awfully close to Vermont! I went back to my notes from my aunt and saw George, not Mike, staring up from the page.

From Google Maps
So it's not a perfect fit. But this Katie and Susie are the same ages as the women in the 1920 Binghamton census. And I know too well that first names are fluid in this population and memories are not perfect. I was asking specifically about Georges when my aunt told me this story - trying to figure out just who the George Pereksta was who travelled with my aunt Mary when she came to America.

I don't have an immigration record that fits for this Mike or Susie. It's not clear whether they were married in the United States or if Mike went back to Europe to marry. I don't know where Mike died. There were plenty of slate quarries in Vermont and NY and apparently many accidents and deaths. He likely died shortly after the 1905 census, since Susie's next daughter, who was reportedly not his child, was born about 1907/1908. Immigration, marriage, birth, death records - lots to do!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Whitaker Brothers, Bleeding Kansas and the Border Wars - Civil War Saturday

Benjamin Franklin Whitaker (1841-1932) and his brother Frederick Lucius Whitaker (1844-1915) were my husband's 3x great-uncles, younger brothers of his great great-grandfather Henry Lyman Whitaker (1838-1902). Born in Massachusetts and dying on the west coast, their lives spanned the continent. It is for these Whitakers that I've nicknamed my husband's paternal family the Westward Expansionists.

They were born in western Massachusetts, near Springfield, to Stephen Lyman Whitaker and his wife, Emaline Kentfield (Kantfield). Both parents were from deeply entrenched New England families. But after their father died in 1852, their mother moved her boys west - first to Illinois and then by 1858 to Pardee in Atchison County, Kansas Territory.

Atchison County is on the northern edge of the area known as Bleeding Kansas where free and slave state forces struggled over land and power in the years leading up to the Civil War. No documented deaths occurred there related to these struggles and the worst of the violence had abated when the Whitakers settled there. But it could not have escaped their notice that the Kansas-Missouri border was fraught with tension.

In 1860 the brothers were living with their mother and new stepfather, Joseph Trueax. Frank may have been elsewhere at the time of the census enumeration. He's listed as a gold seeker and I'm not sure there was much gold panning, mining or seeking in Kansas.

On 16 Jul 1861, six months after Kansas achieved statehood, the brothers enlisted in the Army at Fort Leavenworth. They are recorded as serving in Kansas's 10th Infantry Regiment, Company B. One regimental history states that the 10th was formed from the 3rd & 4th Regiments in 1862, however the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas, Vol. 1. - 1861-1865 lists the Whitakers on the Company B roster from enlistment. (Of note is another Whitaker from Atchison County also enlisted in Company B (as an officer) - David Whitaker/Whittaker. I know of no relationship between this Whitaker and my husband's family.)

The brothers spent the war close to home, chiefly in Kansas and Missouri. They took part in the Battle of Cane Hill, skirmished with Quantrill in 1863 and guarded the military prison across the Mississippi River in Alton, IL. Both were discharged after three years, mustering out on 19 August 1864 back at Fort Leavenworth. Frederick served as a private for the duration of his service, but his older brother Frank was promoted three times, ending his service as a First Sergeant. 

Following the war both married and started families. Their lives following the war are full enough to demand another post. 

For further information see
Border Disputes and WarfareTerritorial Kansas Online, 1854-1861 (
Civil War, Kansas Historical Society/Kansapedia (
Watts, Dale E. How Bloody Was Bleeding Kansas?, Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains; Vol. 18 (2) (Summer 1995): pp. 116–129 (

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Places - Those Places Thursday

It has been a difficult week in Missouri. Even from across the state we've felt the waves of sorrow and pain radiating from Joplin. We've watched the skies all week, heard more sirens and prayed that no more lives would be lost.

I've thought of places. Places we've lived, places we've loved, places our families called home, places our families left - even fled. I've thought of what defines those places.

The lighthouse reaching out into our great lake or standing atop the rocky coast of our cape. The spires of colonial churches rising above the town. The brick townhomes. The clapboard farmhouses. Cherry blossoms, blue hydrangeas, daylilies. The ice cream stands we walked to after dinner - or our much loved St. Louis custard which requires a car trip. The cannons on beach still pointing out to the sound, still defending our shores more than 200 years after the minutemen raced down from their farms. The stone walls of Connecticut, the white fences of Cape Cod. A baseball stadium. A giant boulder left by a retreating glacier. A massive tree, up the path, with a rope swing waiting each summer. The drawbridges. The porches. The rivers running through the cities, towns and villages where we've lived. The mountains defining the views, the roads, even the lives. The sand dunes and grasses.

Some of these things will stand for centuries. Most will not.

Starina, the village where my great-grandmother was born, lies beneath the Starina Reservoir in Slovakia. A deliberate destruction for a presumed greater good. Some of the lands my family roamed in Tennessee lie beneath the Tennessee Valley Authority reservoirs. Rust belt and mill cities that sheltered my immigrant family have decayed, no longer industrial power houses. Tiny farm communities in the midwest have vanished, with only an old house, a barn, a silo marking where our ancestors lived and worked. Even those places that flourish have grown - often beyond recognition.

Such melancholy. Nothing is static. But I pray no more of our communities are blown to pieces this year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bob & Iva in the beginning - Wordless Wednesday

Bob & Iva Williams Sawyer, c. 1926

A photograph from the album of Mary Kathryn Sawyer McKenzie, Bob's sister. The photo, taken outside their home in Portland, Oregon, was mailed home to Bob's family in Tennessee.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Relatives at the Jehu S. Sawyer Funeral - 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.

I recently found two booklets from my great-grandfather Jehu Stokley (Gee) Sawyer's 1940 funeral services in the boxes of papers taken from his house in 1996 after the death of his last surviving child. The funeral was held 21 January, 1940 at the Warrensburg Baptist Church (Greene County, TN). He was buried later that day at Oak Grove Cemetery in Greeneville, TN. Included in one of the booklets was a list of relatives attending the services. 

Memorial Record  

Jehu Stokley Sawyer

Relatives Attending

Lillian & Herbert Haun
Clevel & Hardin Luttrell
Bob & Iva Sawyer
Emma & Selma Sawyer
Mary Kathryn & Winston Sawyer
Bur & Connie Haun
Paul Haun
William & Gerline Haun
Joan & Carolyn Sawyer
Lass Sawyer
Joe Sawyer
Lillie Sawyer Holdway
Julia Sawyer Jones
George Sawyer
Joe Sawyer
Bessie Holdway
Belvia White
Vina Fox
Bill Green
Gert, Reba, June, Clemmie & Kenneth S (awyer)
Marie & Margaret Sawyer
Claris, Zora, and J.C. Holdway
Alva Jones - Iva Sawyer
Gussie and Jerome Sawyer
Mary Sawyer & Ruth S. Campbell


This list was written in one hand at some point following the services and appears to have been drawn from the list of those signing the guest register. It is a subjective list, for there are relatives who signed the register who are not on this list, though they were more distant connections. The first entries - through Joan & Carolyn Sawyer are children and grandchildren. The remaining entries are children and grandchildren of Gee's brothers and sisters. 

My great-grandfather was apparently named for a neighbor and prosperous citizen of Cocke County, Jehu Stokely. To date there is no evidence of any direct relation to the Stokely family. Gee's name was written multiple ways during his life - J.S., Jehu or Jehue, John, Stokley or Stokely. And of course, Gee or G. I have used Stokely to this point as my preferred spelling, but having reviewed the funeral home booklets will change my records to Stokley.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thomas Meredith's 1853 Will, Part III - A Meredith Review

I have spent more than a few days analyzing and absorbing the information in my husband's 4x great-uncle Thomas Meredith (TM) will. He and his extended family have fascinated me for years, all the more after I read many of the letters he and his family exchanged during the 1830s and 1840s in the collection of his papers (MS1795) housed at the Maryland Historical Society.

The will confirmed, in spades, what the papers had suggested. TM and his wife had no children who survived to adulthood. He was extremely wealthy, generous to his family (mostly) and a devoted Catholic. Just for grins I calculated what the $50,000 that he is reported to have left Catholic organizations and charities would be worth today. According to calculators at Measuring his 1853 gifts to the Church roughly equal $19,000,000 in 2010. In addition, there were the more than $52,000 of named bequests to his wife and other heirs. He left a large estate and he spread his wealth around.

His will supported the information gathered from the TM papers. Those family members whose letters were saved, who were mentioned regularly in the correspondence, are generally the family members named in the will.

Finding the McSherrys mentioned both in the will and in his papers drove me to some fast online research that suggested Dr. McSherry was a cousin of TM's wife. Since McSherry referred to both TM's wife and nephew James (Thomas James Meredith) as cousins this suggests McSherry may have been related to James' as yet unidentified mother. I love clues!

There were a couple nieces named in the will (Elizabeth Kirk and Ann B. Purcell) who did not appear in his papers. I believe they are daughters of TM's sister Frances Meredith Pullen, one of his sisters I know very little about. Many researchers name her as the Fanny Pullen who married William Garland Yerby in Richmond County, VA. This Fanny Pullen was still alive during the time covered by TM's papers and when he wrote his will. If this Fanny Pullen was TM's sister the fact that she was not mentioned in either his papers or will suggests they were not on good terms. The fact that her daughters were named in the will could also suggest that TM's sister died before his will was written. There are several Richmond County Chancery Court cases I plan to review this summer that I hope will clarify whether the wife of William Garland was also TM's sister.

Finally, and much to my disappointment, the will did nothing to illuminate the life of TM's nephew Thomas W. Meredith, the only known surviving child of John Meredith NOT named as an heir. Thomas is my remaining Meredith mystery - at least for this generation of the family. But that, I think is another post.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Abe Lincking

by Matthew Brady/National Archives
We've been playing a game at home as I dig deeper and deeper into Civil War histories and our families' experiences. It's one of those Six Degrees things - how close can we get to Civil War historical figures or events?

Our favorite subject - The Great Emancipator himself.

  • Richard Mather, husband of my 5x great-aunt Mary Turner, was the evil man who forced the Lincolns from their Kentucky home in 1811. Shades of Snidely Whiplash! The truth is rather more complicated (see this National Parks brochure) but the end result was the Lincolns moved to Indiana in 1816.
  • William Clark(e), one of my husband's 4x great-grandfathers, lived near (and was most likely the tenant of) Zachariah Peters, an attorney in Springfield, Illinois. Peters was one of thirteen men who ran for the State General Assembly in 1832. Abraham Lincoln was another of the candidates. Both lost, but Lincoln (277 votes) did far better than Peters (4 votes). Peters was also the attorney for Clark(e)'s estate when he died a short time later. See this page for more details on the election.
  • Samuel Clark, my husband's 3x great-grandfather claimed to have heard Lincoln speak during his election campaigns. He may well have as a teenager in Sangamon County during the 1832 or '34 General Assembly election campaigns. He certainly did not hear the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates (as has been alleged) unless he came from central Iowa to catch one. 
  • I have Todd ancestors who ought to be related to Mary Todd Lincoln. Truly, they should. Yet they resist. 
  • Stephen Shelton, another of my husband's 4x great-grandfathers, owned a slave Phebe Bartlett when he moved to Illinois around 1825. Bartlett had a daughter, Mariah Bartlett Vance, who worked for the Lincolns in Springfield throughout the 1850s until they left for Washington, DC. See this story for more information.
  • Both Mordecai Lincoln (Abe's great uncle) and Andrew Johnson (Abe's VP and successor) lived in Greene County, TN where my grandfather was born and raised. The only problem is that Johnson died 23 years before he was born and Lincoln 42 years before he was born. It's kind of a stretch. 
My husband was already clearly ahead when he delivered the final blow the other night. How I had never heard this story I don't know. Actually, as I write this, I had heard the story. But neither of us had made the "linck" before.
  • He was a Pinkerton's security guard during college in the 1970s and once guarded Allan Pinkerton's elderly great-granddaughter when she attended the races at Saratoga. Allan Pinkerton was Lincoln's bodyguard. 
The winner.

But I get points for the best villain.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thomas Meredith's 1853 Will, Part II - A cast of thousands

On Monday I posted a transcription of Thomas Meredith's will which was far lengthier and more detailed than other wills I have transcribed. The will named 35 different individuals - most as heirs, witnesses or executors. I have developed an index that gives a brief overview of each person's relationship to Meredith and other germane information.

Further information about many of the people named in this will can be found in this blog's posts tagged "Meredith" and in an article at WeRelate about the Meredith papers at the Maryland Historical Society.

Persons named in the will

Bayzand, Wm. H Witness to will. Listed as a Justice of the Peace in Matchett's Baltimore Directory for 1853-54.
Hickman, N Register of Wills. Listed as Nathaniel Hickman in Matchett's Baltimore Directory for 1853-54.
J. Robert Witness to will. With Henry, below, was a member of the firm Israel Fielder & Sons, listed as conveyancers in Mattchett's Baltimore Directory for 1856-57. A conveyancer was an attorney specializing in property sales and transfers.
W. Henry See Robert (above).
Henry Heir. Son of Henry F. (below).
Henry F. Father of two heirs (above and below). Proprietor of the Eutaw House Hotel where Meredith and his wife lived for almost 20 years. Jackson began managing the hotel in 1846. See Scharf's “History of Baltimore City and County...”
Lucy M. Heir. Daughter of Henry F. (above).
Jenkins, Michael Courtney Executor of will. An attorney in Baltimore. The Jenkins' were a prominent Catholic family in Maryland. May be related to TM's sister-in-law Ann Spalding Jenkins.
Kelly, James Neighbor of Lancaster/Northumberland County VA Merediths who was leasing the slave Jim Sanders from Meredith. Not a known relation, but possible related by marriage to TM's niece Margaret Palmer (below) through her late husband, James Armistead Palmer.
Kennedy, William Executor of will. Listed as president of Mount Vernon Co. (a cotton mill) in Matchett's Baltimore Directory for 1853-54. Kennedy was another Baltimore merchant.
Kenrick, Francis Patrick Heir. Archbishop of Baltimore from 1851 to 1863. See Wikipedia article.
Kirk, Elizabeth Her unnamed children were heirs. Niece of TM and sister of William Pullen. Pullen was the son of TM's sister Frances Meredith Pullen Yerby. She is presumed to have died before the will was written.
McCrorken, Rosanna Heir. Maid to TM's wife Maria Meredith. Not found in 1850 census using index.
Richard Heir. Son of Richard Jr. MD (below)
Richard, Jr. MD Father of an heir (above). Prominent Baltimore Physician. His Aunt Susan McSherry married John Piet, son of TM's sister-in-law Margaret Meredith from her first marriage. He wrote a letter dated 21 Mar 1843 from Martinsburg, Virginia sending “sincere regards to Cousin M. (Maria?) and Cousin __ James”. Online trees (sourced) state that Anastasia Lilly (this Richard's mother) and Mary Lilly (mother of TMs wife Maria Spalding Meredith) were sisters. This suggests that the mother of James (Thomas J. Meredith, below) may have been related to McSherry since there is no known relationship through the Meredith family.
Menzies, Margaret Louisa Heir. Nee Ghequiere. Great great niece of TM. Granddaughter of his brother William Meredith and his wife, the widow Margaret Piet, who was also the mother-in-law of Dr. McSherry (above).
Maria M. Heir. Nee Spalding. Wife of TM. Died in 1877.
Thomas Testator. Identified as TM throughout this article.
Thomas J (1815-1855) Heir. Nephew of TM and eldest son of John Meredith and his unknown first wife. Half-brother to William V (below) and Margaret Palmer (below). A Baltimore merchant, he left a widow and three young children when he was killed in a train wreck.
William V. (1832-1884) Heir. Nephew of TM. Youngest son of John Meredith and his last wife Ann Steptoe Brent. Half-brother to Thomas J. (above) and Margaret Palmer (below). Catholic priest.
Murray, John Heir. Leased a farm belonging to TM located in "Peter", Baltimore County. Neither the land nor Murray have been researched at this point. Not yet identified in any census. 
John T. (1846-1929) Heir. Great nephew of TM and son of Margaret M. (below).
Margaret M. (1823-1889) Heir. Nee Meredith. Niece of TM and daughter of John Meredith and his wife Ann Currell Lee Towell. Half sister of William V. Meredith and Thomas J. Meredith (above).
Maria (1844-1931) Heir. Great niece of TM and daughter of Margaret M (above).
Purcell, Ann B Heir. A niece of TM. Not yet defined but (based on indexes of Richmond County Chancery Court Records) believed to be a daughter of Francis Frizzel Meredith Pullen/Pullin Yerby. This would make her a sister to James Pullen/Pullin and Elizabeth Kirk.
Sanders, Jim A bequest. A slave working at James Kelly's plantation near Kilmarnock.
Caroline M. Heir. Daughter of below.
E. T. I., Lt.  Father of an heir (above). May be the Lt. Eliakim P. Scammon (1816-1894) of the Army Engineers stationed in Baltimore in 1836 who became a Union Army Brigadier General during the Civil War. Further research needed.
Shearman, Joseph W. Heir. Nephew of TM. Only child of his sister Caroline Meredith Shearman. His education at Georgetown College was paid for by TM.
Spencer, Joseph H Business partner of TM & his nephew in Meredith & Spencer. He appears in the 1850 census aged 26, born in Maryland living with three Spencer females (Ancestry Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Baltimore Ward 18, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M432_287; Page: 16B; Image: 37). Probably an heir to Edward Spencer, an earlier partner of TM.
Ward, Charles Heir. Servant at the Eutaw House where TM lived for many years. He is enumerated as a 30 year old black male, born in Maryland, living at the Eutaw House in the 1850 census.
Ellyson Husband of Heir (below). Brother-in-law and probably cousin of TM. Also a merchant who dealt with TM and his nephew James during the 1840s.
Hannah Heir. Sister of TM and wife of Ellyson.
Maria Heir. Great niece of TM and daughter of Ellyson & Hannah Yerby.
Virginia Heir. Great niece of TM and daughter of Ellyson & Hannah Yerby.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lilburn George Williams - (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Lilburn George Williams, b. 1851, Smyth County, Virginia
Back of Lilburn George Williams photograph

George Williams was a son of Granville and Sally James Williams of Smyth County, Virginia. A family record gives his birthdate as 8 Jan 1851. He was an elder brother of my great grandfather R.J. Williams and settled in West Virginia. He was not listed as surviving his brother R.J. in R.J.'s 1840 obituary. 

I would love to correspond with anyone related to or researching this George Williams.

Lilburn George Williams,  Photograph, undated. Digital Image.  Privately held by Susan Popp Clark [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1853 Will of Thomas Meredith - 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.

I recently found the 1853 will of one of my favorite in-laws, my husband's ggg-great-uncle Thomas Meredith, on FamilySearch. Each time I find another trace of Uncle Thomas I am more and more impressed. This is by far the most detailed will I have come across in our families. So detailed that my notes and comments on it and its cast of thousands (only slightly exaggerated) will be another post.

     Be it Known, that I, Thomas Meredith of the City of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, being in feeble health, but of sound disposing mind, memory and understanding, considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof, do make and publish this as my last Will and Testament, in manner following, that is to say; ~
     I order and direct all my just debts and funeral expenses to be fully satisfied and paid out of my Estate.
     I give and bequeath to my beloved Wife, Maria M. Meredith, her executors, administrators and assigns, ninety nine Shares of Stock in the Commercial and Farmers Bank of Baltimore, (full paid) also two Shares of Stock in the Baltimore and Ohio rail road Company, also nine thousand dollars of the Government Loan of the United States of America, redeemable in Eighteen hundred and sixty eight, also five hundred dollars of the Loan of The Trustees of The Catholic Cathedral Church of Baltimore, also fifty Shares of Stock in the Merchants Bank of Baltimore, also one hundred Shares of Stock in The National Fire Insurance Company, upon which Seven dollars per Share has been paid; also Two thousand Dollars of The Baltimore and Ohio Rail road Company's free Bonds; also three hundred dollars of The Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road company's Bonds, subject to taxes, also, Six thousand one hundred and forty eight dollars and fifty cents of the six percent Stock or loan of the Corporation or City of Baltimore, also the sum of six thousand dollars, in Cash, also, my negro man Jim or Jim Sanders, as he calls himself, now hired to James Kelly, Esquire, of Kilmarnock, Virginia, also, all and entire of my furniture and plate and Library of Books of every description, also my wearing apparel, and I likewise give to my said beloved wife, Five hundred dollars for special pious purposes.
     I give and bequeath to my sister Hannah Yerby, wife of Ellyson Yerby, now living in the City of Richmond, in the State of Virginia, her executors, administrators and assigns, six thousand dollars of the six percent Stock of the State of Virginia.
     I give to my Niece Margaret M. Palmer of Northumberland County Virginia; two thousand dollars. I give to her daughter, Maria Palmer, two thousand dollars, and I give to John T. Palmer, (son of said Margaret M. Palmer.) the sum of two thousand dollars, which two last named amounts or sums may be used in whole or in part, to educate said children, or may be invested for them under the direction of their mother, as may be thought best, upon taking good advice of friends.
     I give to my nephew William V. Meredith the sum of one thousand dollars. - I give to my nephew Joseph W. Shearman, the sum of one thousand, five hundred dollars.
     I give to Maria Yerby and Virginia Yerby (daughters of my said Sister Hannah Yerby) the sum of one thousand dollars, apiece.
     I give the sum of two thousand dollars to the children of Elizabeth Kirk, sister of my Nephew, William Pullen, to be equally divided between said children share and share alike.
     I give to the most Reverend ArchBishop, Francis Patrick Kenrick, the sum of Five hundred dollars, I give to Richard McSherry, (young son of Doctor Richard McSherry Junior,) the sum of five hundred dollars, I give to Caroline M. Scammon, ~ (young daughter of Lieutenant E. T. I. Scammon, United States Engineers.) the sum of five hundred dollars, - I give to Lucy M. Jackson, (young daughter of Henry F. Jackson, proprietor of the Eutaw House) the sum of two hundred dollars, - I give to Henry Jackson, (son of the above named Henry F. Jackson) the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars. I give to Rosanna McCrorken, my Wife's maid, two hundred dollars. I give to Charles Ward, Colored Servant, who has waited on myself and Wife, faithfully for many years, the sum of one hundred Dollars.
     I give to John Murray of Peter, the sum of one thousand five hundred ~ dollars, and also all claim I may have, to the live Stock and farming utensils and implements, on the Farm now occupied by him, belonging to me.
     It is my will and desire the portion of my Estate above devised to my dear Wife, shall first be paid and secured to her, and that she be supplied with money out of my Estate by my Executors herinafter named, or the surviving or acting one of them, for her current expenses, at the rate of two thousand dollars per annum, from the time of my decease, until her share of my estate shall be secured to her; the legacies to my relations to be paid next, and then the other small legacies.
     I give and bequeath to my Nephew, Thomas J. Meredith, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, all my interest at the time of my decease, in the business and property of the old firm or concern of Meredith and Company, my said Nephew Thomas J. Meredith, being the ~ partner in that firm, and I hereby authorize him, if necessary, to make use of the name of the said firm in collecting all debts and accounts due to the said firm, and I also give to my said nephew, Thomas J. Meredith, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, all my interest in the firms of Mummey and Meredith, Meredith and Spencer, and any other firm or firms, I have been a member of, except the present existing firm of Meredith Spencer & Company.
     I have as my Capital in the business of Meredith, Spencer and Company, ~ Eight thousand Dollars, and being unable from feeble health to give personal attention to the business, and with the intention of keeping myself as disconnected as possible from it, so as to get out of business at any time I might see proper, It was agreed that the other partners in the said firm of Meredith Spencer & Company, should pay me interest on said Capital of Eight thousand dollars, and allow me a stipulated small sum for my share of the profits, the interest and profits aforesaid to be paid to me quarterly in Cash, on the first day of April, July, October and January, which agreement has been fully and duly complied with. - so that when I withdraw from the said firm of Meredith, Spencer and Company, or at my decease, I shall have no further claim upon the profits of said firm, but only the claim for my capital, and the Interest on it until paid, and in consideration of the small share of the profits which it was agreed I should receive, the other partners, namely, Thomas J. Meredith and Joseph H. Spencer, should take the business and pay all expenses, losses etc; releasing me, my heirs, executors and administrators, from all obligation to attend in any manner or way whatever to the settlement of the business of said firm, and from the expenses of the collecting and settling up said business, and from all losses by bad debts or otherwise, howsoever, and my Estate from all liability whatever, for or on account of the business of the said firm. Now I desire and therefore I request that my capital and interest on it shall be paid to my executors herinafter named or the surviver or acting one of them, as fast as possible after my decease, and that the whole shall be paid in two years or sooner if practicable, at the rate of not less than four thousand dollars per annum from the time of my death.
     It is my desire, therefore I do order and direct, that Mr. John Murray of Peter, be continued on my Farm in Baltimore County, for two years from the time of my decease, upon the same terms he now has it, namely, one half of the clear profits of each year to be retained by him, as his compensation, and the other half paid to my Executors, or the surviver, or acting one of them, to be by them or the surviver, or acting one of them, paid over to my dear Wife, for her own use and benefit, or used by her in charities for the poor. The Statement of profits of said Farm to be made by said John Murray of Peter, which statements shall be conclusive without ~ further examination, and the settlements made accordingly. At the expiration of the said two years, it is my will and intention, and therefore I do order and direct, that my said farm in Baltimore County, and my warehouse and lot of ground and premises on the North side of Baltimore Street in the City of Baltimore, and the two small ~ dwellings in the rear, shall be sold together, at the sametime with my farm, and I do hereby fully authorize and empower my Executors hereinafter named, or the surviver or acting one of them, to sell the said farm, and the said Warehouse and lot of ground and premises on the North side of Baltimore Street in the City of Baltimore aforesaid, and the two small dwellings in the rear of said Warehouse, either at public or private Sale, and upon receipt of the purchase money to make, execute and deliver, in due form of law, to the purchasor or ~ purchasers thereof, his, her or their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, one or more good and sufficient deed or deeds of Conveyance and assignment or assignments therefor.
     All the rest, residue and remainder of my Estate, (after the payment of every specific legacy and bequest herinbefore made by this my Will, ) I dispose of in the manner following, that is to say,
     I give the sum of six thousand dollars (part of said residue) to my said wife, Maria M. Meredith.
     I give the sum of one thousand dollars, (part of said residue) to Margaret Louisa Menzies.
     I give the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars (part of said residue) to my Niece, Ann B. Purcell, if she is living at my death, if she is not living, then I give the said one thousand five hundred dollars to her children, to be equally divided between them.
     And the Balance or remainder of the said rest and residue of my Estate, - I dispose of as follows: that is to say, twenty five percent thereof, I give to the Trustees of Saint Charles College, twenty five per cent thereof, I give to the Protectors of Saint Mary's Orphaline Female School in the City of Baltimore, twenty per cent thereof I give to my said wife, Maria M. Meredith, Fifteen percent thereof, I give to the Saint Vincent of Paul's Benevolent Association and the remaining fifteen per cent thereof, I give to The Trustees of the Orphans' Home in Baltimore County
     It is my wish to spare my dear Wife, all trouble and care about the settlement and distribution of my Estate, and I therefore hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my friends William Kennedy and Michael Courtney Jenkins, to be the Executors of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made and declaring this to be my only one.
     In Testimony Whereof, I the said Thomas Meredith, have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my Seal this Sixteenth day of August in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty three.
                                                                Tho. Meredith (seal)
Signed, sealed, published and declared by Thomas Meredith, the Testator, to be his last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence, at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names, as Witnesses. ~
Wm. H. Bayzand, J. Robert Israel, W. Henry Israel
Baltimore City, Ss: on the 27th day of December 1853, came William H. Bayzand, John Robert Israel and William Henry Israel, the tree subscribing Witnesses to the aforegoing last Will and testament of Thomas Meredith late of said City deceased, and made Oath on the Holy Evangely of Almighty God that they did see the Testator sign and seal this will that they heard him publish pronounce and declare the same to be his last will and testament, that at the time of his doing he was to the best of their apprehensions of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and that they subscribed their names as witnesses to this will in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other.
Sworn to in Open Court,
Test: N. Hickman Register of Wills for Baltimore City
 "Maryland Probate Records", digital images, FamilySearch, ( accessed 9 May 2011), Thomas Meredith will dated 16 Aug 1853, Baltimore Will books, Nov 1853 to Nov 1883, Liber N.H. 26, pp 57-61.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The world's oldest 3rd grader!

This one had me puzzled beyond all words. Well obviously not, since I'm about to put quite a few words to it - but flummoxed. 

This "report card" is from a box of papers that contained letters and items belonging to my great-grandparents Gee and Catherine Conway Sawyer. I've glanced at it dozens of times, seen their daughter Clevel's name, public schools and moved right on.  I did wonder why only Clevel's report card was in that box, but having found report cards for other Sawyer children elsewhere, assumed it had been misplaced by one of the earlier Keepers of the Sawyer Stuff (perhaps I should start adding KSS after my name). Recently however, having scanned the original, I decided to add some metadata to the digital file. In mental scanning mode, I noted the 3d grade, the 1909 date and Cocke County, Tennessee.  And then - FINALLY - I stopped. 

Aunt Clevel was born in 1891. What ever was she still doing in 3rd grade eighteen years later? Her family lived in Greene County. What was she doing going to school in Cocke County? Why did they have a her listed as a him? And then - FINALLY - I looked. 

It's embarrassing how much I assume without actually thinking. It is NOT a report card. I'm certain you noticed this right away. It IS Clevel's teaching certificate, authorizing her to teach third grade across the Nolichucky River in Cocke County. Wonder of wonders she shows up on the 1910 census listed as a teacher! The school principal may have been surprised if he was expecting a Mr. Sawyer and a 5' nothing bird of young woman marched in with her certificate. But not as surprised as he would have been if she'd been waving a third grade report card.

The joys of being an ADD researcher....

Primary School Teaching Certificate for Clevel Sawyer, 1 Jul 1909; digital image. Privately held by Susan Clark. 1996. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jim Sanders - Friend of Friends Friday

I am in the process of researching the will of Thomas Meredith, a Baltimore merchant and banker who died in 1853. Included in the will is one bequest of a slave to his wife, Maria Meredith.
from FamilySearch

I give and bequeath to my beloved Wife, Maria M. Meredith, her executors, administrators and assigns ... my negro man Jim or Jim Sanders, as he calls himself, now hired to James Kelly, Esquire, of Kilmarnock, Virginia, also, all and entire of my furniture.... 

This is almost certainly the slave Jim referred to in Meredith's papers at the Maryland Historical Society as having been leased to James Kelly in 1840 for $40 per year. I have not found an 1840 census record for Meredith, but his papers and city directories indicate he lived in the city of Baltimore at the time. In 1850 he and his wife are enumerated in Baltimore, but he does not appear as a slave owner in the 1850 Slave Census. Jim Sanders may have been listed in Virginia as owned by James Kelly. Kelly lists 36 slaves in the census. Ten are men aged 24 to 54, old enough to have been leased to Kelly in 1840.

I suspect that Jim Sanders was born and spent his entire life to 1853 near Kilmarnock, Virginia. Meredith was born nearby and much of his family remained there. Meredith himself lived his entire adult life in Baltimore working as a merchant and banker and living at the Eutaw House hotel for at least 20 years. His will makes mention of the hotel staff that served him. The only slaves he owned appear to have been bequests from his family. Sanders was the only slave Meredith owned at his death and all evidence suggests he was leased for income rather than used as a personal servant.

      1850 U.S. census, Baltimore County, MD, population schedule, Baltimore Ward 14, p. 469A, dwelling 973, family 1141, Thomas Meredith; digital image, (www.; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 285. 
      1850 U.S. census, Northumberland County, VA, slave schedule, District 7, James Kelly; digital image, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432.
      James Kelly (Kilmarnock, VA) to Thomas Meredith, Letter, 10 Oct 1840; privately held by Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD.
The letter is part of the Thomas Meredith Papers (MHS1795) and is found in Box 2, Folder 1. 
      "Maryland Probate Records", digital images, FamilySearch, ( accessed 9 May 2011), Thomas Meredith will dated 16 Aug 1853, Baltimore Will books, Nov 1853 to Nov 1883, Liber N.H. 26, pp 57-61.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Family Record - Treasure Chest Thursday

Documentation can get pretty interesting when one is dealing with 19th c. Eastern European records. One is looking for records kept in lands pummeled by Hitler, communism, Stalin (an entirely different issue from communism) and other plagues; for records written in multiple languages - Latin, Church Slavonic, Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Rusyn dialects that are fast vanishing - if not vanished.

I've been overjoyed (and overwhelmed) by the Slovak church registers appearing on FamilySearch. Decoding the images is slow, but I have made some progress on my grandmother's Pereksta and Sidor families. My grandfather Stefan Popp's family however is far more difficult. His home now lies in the Ukraine. There is not even a hint that any of those records will be available outside the country in my lifetime. I am ever grateful for the notebooks, letters and the records he kept. I cannot read all of them. But slowly I am working out a strategy for analyzing and preserving them.

Stefan wrote a family record of his, his wife's and their own family in a pocket calendar that I have. It's written in what I have been told is a Rusyn/Ukrainian dialect. My translations are not exact, but I believe they communicate the basic information.  This first part is record of his parents' family.

Family Record for Ivan Papp and Maria Tegza

My Daddy and Mama

Ivan Papp was born in Drahov on December 9 in the year 1846. He died in 1909 on December 7. He lived 64 years minus 2 days.

Mama Marya Tegza was born in Berezov in the year 1857. She died July 6 in the year 1920. She lived 63 years.

Their children
Vasily, Ivan, Elana, Anca, Stefan, Marika, (second page begins) Mikula, Marika, Hafya, Luka, Mikula and Petra.

Marika, Mikula and Petra died as children.

Marika Papp Hricak died February 21 in the year 1942.

Luka Popp died September 25 in the year 1944.

Stefan Popp died 9-8-48.

Notes -

My family's name is most often spelled Papp or Pap in European records. It was not changed at Ellis Island. It was changed when my my grandfather, his brother and cousins grew tired of hearing it pronounced as "pap".  All the family in America opted to spell the name as close to the phonetic pronunciation as possible. Thus in the United States we are Popps. 

My great-grandparents reused the names Marika and Mikula after the older children bearing those names died. I have been told both by my aunt and by cousins in the Ukraine that the record accurately gives the children's birth order. 

Three of the Popp children, Marika Popp Hricak, Luka and Stefan settled in America. 

The last entry recording Stefan's own death was obviously written by someone else. I believe his daughter made the entry. 

"Popp-Pereksta Family Record." (MS. Binghamton, NY, 1930-1982), p. 1-2; Digital Images.  Privately held by Susan Popp Clark, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2008.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Archie Sawyer & Sally Killion - What I was told

From Flickr by hubertk

Growing up I was told my great-great grandparents Archie & Sally Killion Sawyer had come over the mountains from the Carolinas to Cocke County after the Revolutionary War.  They had nine children - James, Linnie, Andrew, Barbary, William B, Elizabeth, Crawford, Jake and my great-grandfather, Jehu (or Gee). Most of the children remained in Cocke or Greene counties, but James settled in North Carolina, had twins and a son Leroy. Linnie moved away after the Civil War and contact was lost with her family. I was told that Archie died January 2, 1881 and was buried at Joseph's Chapel in Cocke County. We were kin to the Killions and Killians in the area and to the Sawyers over the mountains in Madison County, NC.

That was it. The sum total of our knowledge.

My aunt dug into census records in the 1970s and reported that Archie had been born in South Carolina around 1795 and that Sally was born around 1810 in North Carolina. Once I began researching in the 1980s the census records provoked as many questions as they answered.  The 1880 census enumerated Sally (listed as Sarah) living in Greene County with her son William. She and her daughter were both listed as widowed. Given that I believed Archie died in 1881 this was surprising.

1880 Greene County TN census listing for Sarah Sawyers
I wondered if he had left the family (giving him LOTS of credit for an 85 year old man) and searched the census records for Cocke, Greene, Jefferson, Sevier Counties in Tennessee and Madison and Buncombe Counties in North Carolina. He was not to be found.

On my next trip back to Tennessee I went to Joseph's Chapel to see Archie's grave. (Did I take a camera?  I was young. I had diaper bags, juice boxes, Cheerios, even toddlers. No camera.) Once I found the tombstone I was surprised to find it read Sarah Killion, wife of Archibald Sawyer with the dates 23 September 1812 - 2 January 1881. That's according to my notes. Will I swear to the spelling? Not a chance. I'm not even sure if it read Sarah or Sally - Archibald or Archie. (Remember, I was really, really young.) What I will swear to is that it was NOT Archie's grave, but his wife's. There was no marker for Archie. Given the 1880 census record I feel confident that Archie died sometime before the 1880 census and was probably buried at Joseph's Chapel. 

Guess what's on my agenda this summer?


I was wrong in stating I did not have a camera! Photograph of Sarah's gravestone is here.

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Tennessee, Greene, District 4, enumeration district (ED) 46, p. 65C, dwelling 162, family 162; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1258.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Completing the Picture

One of the great joys in my genealogical life is that my husband's family is so very different from my own. Between us we've got a great chunk of the American story covered. He brings Pilgrims, a hint of Salem witchcraft, Palatine Germans, Calverts, Cavaliers, Cowboys and Conestoga Wagons. I bring the Scots-Irish, a hint of the Alamo, a couple more Palatine Germans, less august Tidewater settlers, some Quakers, Baptists and the whole Ellis Island thing. We each can claim contorted connections to Lincoln and Washington. We even have a few moments where our relatives are neighbors - literally - in Virginia. We don't make it all the way to the west coast (at least not until recently), but plenty of cousins did. It's fun stuff for me to play with how we fit into the big picture.  It'd be a pretty bare picture without him.

Why do I mention all of this today? Let me count the reasons...

By jessica.diamond

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Before she was Mother - Wordless Wednesday

Carolyn Sawyer, undated but likely taken in the late 1930s.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jehu S. Sawyer Eulogy - 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.

I recently found two booklets from my great-grandfather Jehu Stokely Sawyer's funeral services in the boxes of papers taken from his house in 1996 after the death of his last surviving child. I shall be transcribing some of the information over the next few weeks.

Slipped in one of the books at the "Sermon Notes" page was a typed copy of the pastor's remarks. 

I come today to join this great host of neighbors and friends in paying a tribute of respect to Mr. J. S. Sawyer and share with his good family their sorrow in this sad hour. And, as I do it, down in my heart I feel that my place is down there in the family pew. In all my ministry in this section there has never been a family that has so endeared themselves to me, and the death of this good man not only causes grief among us but casts a gloom over this entire section where he was so favorably known. What a distinct loss. How the young and old, rich and poor, white and black, good and bad shall miss his pleasant smile, words of wisdom and helpful acts.
There is one verse of Scripture which sums up the life of Mr. Sawyer. It is in the book of Acts, II:24 - "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and faith".
That can be truthfully said about "Uncle Gee". He was a good man in his home. No wife ever had a more faithful and provident husband, no child ever had a more loyal and devoted father. About this family we can say: "Behold, how they loved on another". He was a good neighbor and useful citizen. The night was never too dark, the weather was never too hot or cold, the distance was never considered when the cry of distress or occasion of need was heard by "Uncle Gee". He went, went always, went anywhere, went anytime that he could be of help to others. How sorely this community shall miss his tender touch. He was, however, his best as a Christian and good member of the Warrensburg church. All through his life he has been regular in attendance, liberal with his money and wise in his council. Never shall I forget when the church was remodeled and rooms added some lumber was needed to finish the floors. Mr. Sawyer wnet [sic] to his woods, cut down the best tree he had, saying - "God has been good to me and I want His Church to have the best I have". He laid up little wealth in this world but he was rich toward God and in friendships.
While we mourn his going we may be assured that his happy spirit has entered that sphere where no sickness, sorrow and death can come. May all of us resolve today to meet him in that happy world.
January 2I. I940. [sic]

Notes -

One of our family's favorite comments about Gee was made by one of his friends when he was a younger man. The comment went that the Baptist church would never want for pastors as long as Catherine Sawyer fed them and Gee filled the coffers. Gee was notorious for going off to church and inviting any and everyone back home for supper. The church was just across his fields and Catherine and her daughters rarely attended the services. Instead they got to work in the kitchen looking out the window towards the church, knowing Gee would soon drag home as many as he could. It wasn't unusual to have 20 to 30 people for Sunday supper. Those were merry meals.

Doughty-Stevens Company (Greeneville, TN). "Jehu S. Sawyer Memorial Books." Digital Images. Privately held by Susan Clark. 1996.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Mary month of May

My mother-in-law and her older sister celebrating May 1st about 1924. They were preparing to decorate an altar in their home in Frederick, Maryland to honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Hood College is in the background.