Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At Road's End, Catholics in the Northern Neck

Palmer Hall today.
Catholics living in remote parts of the United States in the early decades of the 19th century often went to great lengths to practice their faith. For my husband's Meredith and Palmer ancestors living in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties, maintaining their Catholic faith involved traveling to Maryland by steamer or arranging for a priest to come to them, as Thomas Meredith did in 1830. 
I am anxious to go to Baltimore this spring to make my Easter but if I go when Brother Thomas goes I shall not be able to stay so long and must give up the pleasure of his company and protection. Please be so kind as to tell me when would be the best time for me to come and make my Easter. (M. M. Palmer at Clifton to Thomas Meredith, Baltimore, 9 March 1949.)
Since it was far easier to travel by water to Baltimore or Norfolk than by road to Richmond they journeyed to Baltimore to celebrate religious holidays, marriages and christenings when they could. But from at least 1830 the family celebrated Mass at home whenever a priest was able to visit.

The Confession chair at Clifton
After the Civil War John A. Palmer took over the family home at Clifton and raised a large family. According to his family, priests would come from Baltimore or Fredericksburg and celebrate Mass in one of the large parlors. Confession would be heard with the priest sitting in one of the wing chairs. Though there were only a few Catholic families in the area, Palmer began lobbying for a church to be built in Kilmarnock. On August 1, 1885 Palmer and his wife deeded land near the town to Bishop Keane of Richmond for five dollars (Lancaster County (VA) Deed Book 45:473). A small frame church was built and the mission parish of Saint Francis de Sales was opened. Priests continued to travel by steamer, staying at Clifton, but celebrating Mass in the new church. No resident priest lived there until after 1915.

Copy of 1885 Deed
In 1956 a new church was constructed next door and the first building became a parish hall. Palmer Hall, as it is known today, was restored several years ago. St. Francis de Sales remains a small parish in numbers, but covering much of the land of the Northern Neck. It has established its own mission church, St. Pauls Catholic Church 35 miles away in Hague, VA.

My husband's family is enormously proud of their efforts to maintain and promote their faith at Clifton since 1840 despite the distances involved. His great-grandmother, John Palmer's sister, kept her copy of the deed with her most treasured family papers.

View Catholic Churchs c. 1840 in a larger map

Written for the 109th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

For further information see
St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church
The Catholic Church in Virginia (New River Notes)
The Museum of Virginia Catholic History and Diocesan Archives

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

McAdams Graves - Tombstone Tuesday

In July I spent several days in Washington County researching and visiting some cemeteries. I especially wanted to find the McAdams graves at Fairview where my McAdams 3rd great-grandparents and Isabella Bryson McAdams Hale, my 4th great-grandmother, are buried.

Our family's McAdams Family Record includes a note at the end indicating ten members of the family are there.
Memorandum made by Thomas McAdams in 1913:
Hugh Morrison McAdams, William P. McA, Isabella Hale, Hugh McA, (S. B. Sr son), Ann S. McA, Chalmer S. McA, Cynthia S McA, Thomas C. McA, Ralph E. H. McA, Charlie's baby (Martha).
The above are the McAdams' graves as they come in the cemtery at Fairview, Washington County.
I assumed it would be relatively (pun intended) simple to find the row of McAdams graves. Indeed, it wasn't all that difficult. Fairview is a small cemetery about four miles northwest of Jonesborough. But most of the gravestones have vanished. Only the markers for my McAdams grandparents and that of their infant granddaughter remain. Without their grandson Thomas McAdams' 1913 note I would have had no idea who else was buried there.

Detail of Cynthia S. McAdams Marker
In Loving Memory 
of Cynthia s. McAdams
April 30, 1817
Oct. 20, 1874
Thomas C. McAdams marker
In Loving Memory
Thomas C. McAdams
Born Dec. 5, 1806
Jan. 1, 1881
The markers were almost impossible to read, but I was able to make out the names and dates for Thomas and Cynthia. The baby's marker at the end of the row was more difficult, and I did not get a good picture of it, but the first letter of the name is "M" and the last name is McAdams. 

The other McAdams family members, with information from the family record,  buried here are (from right to left in the above photo or south to north at the cemetery) 
  • Martha McAdams, infant daughter of Charles A.H. McAdams and Alice Nave McAdams and granddaughter of Thomas C. McAdams. Marker standing.
  • Ralph Emerson H. McAdams, 16 Jun 1881- 15 Jan 1882, infant son of Robert Newton McAdams and Maggie Good McAdams and grandson of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • Thomas C. McAdams. Marker standing. 
  • Cynthia S. McAdams. Marker standing.
  • Chalmers Stephenson McAdams, 16 Feb 1853 - 14 Dec 1873, son of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • Ann Shaw (Duncan) McAdams, 6 Feb 1813 - 7 Jul 1861, sister-in-law of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • Hugh S. McAdams, dates unknown, son of Ann Shaw McAdams and nephew of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • Isabella Bryson McAdams Hale, 14 Sept 1776 - 1 Jun 1855, mother of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • William Plummer McAdams, 14 Mar 1843 - 18 Apr 1844, son of Thomas C. McAdams.
  • Hugh Morrison McAdams, 30 Nov. 1838 - 14 Jul 1840, son of Thomas C. McAdams.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Robert Hampton Deed, 1807 - 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.

This deed, copied from the Washington County (TN) Registrar of Deeds Office, involves Robert Hampton, a son of another Robert Hampton. The elder Hampton purchased 200 acres of land in 1786. His will, dated 29 March 1796, named five sons and his wife Mary. The younger Robert sold what appears to be his share of the land in this deed. That he was selling 1/4 of the original land suggests one of the brothers may have died before marrying, his share reverting to the surviving brothers. The deed also helps to narrow the younger Robert's birth date. His father appeared on the 1790 tax list with 200 acres and one white poll tax indicating all the sons were under 16 in 1790 and that Robert was of age on 20 Sept 1807 when he executed this deed. Robert was the third named son in the will so his birth most likely occurred between 1778 and 1786. 

The younger Robert's family was closely associated with my 4th great-grandmother Rachel Hampton Mulkey's family.

Robert Hampton
Jesse Witt
This Indenture made The Twentyeth day of September Eight Teen hundred and Seven Between Robert Hamton of the one part and Jesse Witt of the other part bouth of the County of Washington and State of Tennessee Witness that the said Robart Hamton is aforesaid for and on consideration of the sum of three Hundred Dollars to ____ in hand paid the receipt of Which is hereby acknowledged hath bargained and sold and by these present doth Bargain and sell unto the said Jess Witt his heirs and assigns a certain parcel of land situate and Lying In the Hars Shew and County afforesaid taken out of the original Deed of Robart Hamton deciesed as followeth begining on the bank of the River at a Lynn thence south forty degrees west forty poles to a hicory and Sourwood on a ridge thence South forty poles to a stake In the River thence Down __d River to the Begining corner for complement fifty acres more or less to have and to hold said Jesse Witt his heirs and assigns for Ever all and singular the profits and Every thing apertaining to the said primises hereby granted in fee simple and __ the sd Robart Hamton as aforesaid hath full power & lawful and absolute athority to grant and convey the same to said Jesse Witt and that the said primises Now and are forever hereafter Shall be free and clear of all Incumbrances whatever and to bind ___ myself my heirs executors administrators to warent and defend for Ever all Claims arising against the afforesaid primises to Jesse Witt his heirs and assigns forever In Witness Whereof I the sd Robart Hamton have here unto set my hand and seal
the day and year above written
In the Present of Witness                        his
__terlined and Sined                   
Robert X Hampton  {Seal}
Nathan Shipley                                        mark
John Parkison X
Wm X  Nelson X

Spelling and punctuation, or the lack thereof, have been maintained though line breaks have been changed. The deed refers to the land being in the Hars Shew or Horseshoe. The Nolichucky River makes almost a full circle north of Erwin at what is today known as Bumpas Cove, but was once known as the Horseshoe.

The Horseshoe

  • Loraine Rae, Washington County, Tennessee Deeds 1775-1800 (Greenville, SC: Southern  Historical Press, Inc. 1991), p. 70, citing Washington County Deed Book 3:37-38. 
  • Goldene Fillers Burgner, Washington County, Tennessee Wills 1777-1872 (Southern Historical Press, 1983, Easley, SC), p. 6. 
  • Javan Micheal DeLoach, "Washington County 1790 List of Taxables Washington County, TN," database, USGenWeb Archives ( : accessed 29 Aug 2011), entry for Robert Hampton.
  • Washington, TN, Deed Books, 10: 66, Robert Hampton to Jesse Witt, 20 Sept 1807; Registrar of Deeds, Jonesborough.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Results Are In

Last Saturday, after seeing multiple posts of the same information on my blog reader, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, I asked readers to vote on how they preferred to access blog posts.

The results clearly show that my readers (at least those who voted) are not relying on Twitter or Facebook to follow my posts. Most prefer the RSS feed to read the blogs they follow. None voted for Twitter and only 2.5% voted for Facebook.

Poll results from
The newest entry in the platform wars fared well. Twenty percent of readers would like to see Nolichucky Roots posts shared on Google+. Almost as many (17.5%) expressed no preference.

As a result of this information I will begin to share more posts on Google+ and move away from Networked Blogs (just as soon as I figure out how to extricate myself from the service). I may share some posts on Facebook, but they will no longer be automated.  Since it appears neither I, nor my readers, are heavy Twitter users who would be frustrated by repetitive posts I may continue announcing posts there. I have had personal requests from two readers I treasure to use Twitter to share posts. Frankly, if some of you wanted the posts delivered by paper airplane or carrier pigeon, I'd try to oblige.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and preferences. I've no desire to make it more difficult for anyone to find material they want to read, but nor do I see the benefit of broadcasting every post via every platform. I would surely feel differently were I marketing my services, using these platforms for professional networking or had monetized this blog. But since none of those situations apply, I need please only myself - and you.

Photograph by Gianluca [Miche].

Friday, August 26, 2011

Slaves Named in Edward Turner Estate Inventory - Friend of Friends Friday

This is the part of a series of transcriptions and abstracts of records involving slaves that I copied at the Library of Virginia during my summer research marathon. Edward Turner, my 5th great-grandfather, died in Fauquier County shortly before this inventory of his estate was conducted in January 1805. Because the inventory is several pages long I have extracted and transcribed here only the information regarding the twelve slaves he held. Turner's estate was not settled until 1817, following the death of his widow. The 1817 sale of the slaves she held is transcribed here.

Turner's Inventory 

In obedience to an order of Fauquier Court to us the subscribers being first sworn have appraised the Estate of Edward Turner deceased the 24th day of January 1805 as follows Viz Turner slave inventory 1805


Reuben 120 " "
David 110 " "
Lillan 50 " "
Milly and Child Esther 95 " "
Jessee 50 " "
Cage 50 " "
Lewis 35 " "
Luce 25 " "
George 35 " "
Isaac 25 " "
Winny 70 " "

[Inventory of remaining personal property follows]

Given under our hands
Reuben Murray
Thos Priest
George Glasscock
Hezekiah Glasscock
At a Court held for Fauquier County the 28th day of January 1805
This Inventory and appraisment of the Estate of Edward Turner deceased was retunred and ordered to be recorded.
Test  L Brooke CC

Source: Fauquier, VA, Wills, Will Book 4:49, Edward Turner Inventory; Library of Virginia, Reel 32

Thursday, August 25, 2011

For one to be named later...

Names matter.

Strange, coming from one who went by "Nolichucky" for a time. But it is a source of comfort to me that my name is one shared by my great-aunt and Rusyn cousins. My husband's middle name is a family name he shares with his mother and great-grandmother. My own children have first names that have appeared for generations in my father's Eastern European family and middle names taken from family surnames.

In a few months our family will welcome its newest member. Baby Clark's parents have an abundance of family names to choose from should they wish - Biblical names, lyrical names, and (as was made clear in this post) truly awful names. There are dozens of surnames that are also candidates for given names. After all these years of researching we've even resorted to using surplus names for our pets (my mother-in-law was none too amused).

But there are a few (in addition to Nargalsharezzer) that I hope they'll avoid...

  • Cansada (my husband's 2nd great-grandmother) - An amazing woman, well worth emulating, but that name! Actually when you add in her surnames it's pretty impressive. Cansada Jones Stokes Sneed Caulk Sweely. Just rolls off the tongue.
  • Clevel (my great-aunt) - Not so unusual to me because I grew up knowing her, but try to find another Clevel. Anywhere. 
  • Cuthbert Fenwick (my husband's 7th great-grandfather) - What can you say thay? 
  • Eleven (my husband's 4th great-uncle) - You're guessing he was number eleven. He was. Number twelve was named Elisha. 
  • Hardena Sophronia (my husband's 3rd great-aunt) - This was probably considered a lovely name in the 19th century. 
  • Melchior (my husband's 5th great-grandfather) - Terrific if the kid grows up to be a Magi, but tough to live with otherwise.
  • Orrick Cromwell (son of Philomen Cromwell) (my husband's 3rd & 4th great-grandfathers) - Even if they could get past the first names, Cromwell is a non-starter in a Catholic family. 
  • Reverdy (my husband's 2nd great-uncle) - I actually like this one in the abstract. Makes me think of dreams and pastors. All good things. But not in the real world. 
  • Talitha Rosetta (my husband's great-grandmother) - See Hardena above. She went by Rosa. Smart woman.
  • Ulysses Dakota (my 2nd great-uncle) - Wildly romantic. Greek heroes, generals, the wild west, Indians. He went by Dakota, and was much loved by his family. But he in no way matched the promise of the name. It's too much to saddle anyone with. 
My husband's family wins the first name contest. But I get the prize when we pull out the surnames... Pereksta, Tegza, Popp, Perehenic. There's a reason Eastern Europeans use patronyms! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Totuskey Creek - Wordless Wednesday

Totuskey Creek, in Richmond County, Virginia, is where James Meredith and his uncle Joseph Meredith had a store in the 1830s. It is where Margaret Meredith, my husband's 2x great-grandmother lived after her father and step-mother died.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nargalsharezzer Palmer (really) Deed - Amanuensis Monday

This deed introduces the leader of our family "all-name" team - my husband's 5th great-grandfather Nargalsharezzer Palmer. His is one name that has not been passed down through the generations!

I do not know who Nargal's parents were, or who his wife or wives were beyond his widow Jane. She was named in his 1769 will. Also mentioned in his will is this land which he describes as "beginning at the head of the middle cove running up the branch to a large persimmon, a corner to Robert Palmer". He is closely associated with the Palmers on the adjoining properties and is first named in the 1748 will of Isaac Palmer, who refers to him as his cousin, leaves him half his estate, and appoints him executor. William James, who's land adjoins this piece of property, named a daughter Winifred Palmer in his 1758 will. At least two of Nargal's sons named daughters Winnie or Winnefred James Palmer. Robert Palmer, who's land is also mentioned was married to another of William James' daughters.

This deed, found during my recent stint at the Library of Virginia, does not solve any of the Nargal mysteries (including why he was given such a dreadful name). But it does place him squarely in the midst of many of the families he is believed to have been closely related to. It is also one of the most densely written deeds I've worked with - almost unreadable in terms of verbage. I have chosen to share it in smaller print fully expecting that few will read it unless it directly relates to their research. Names and significant points have been indicated with font changes. I have attempted to match the original spelling.

One final point of interest - the indenture specifies the purchase price for the land as 125 pounds, but the memorandum at the end records a payment of 115 pounds.

Lunsford }
to            } Deed
Palmer   }

This Indenture made the Seventh Day of November in the Twenty third year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the faith and in the year of our Lord one thousand Seven Hundred and fifty  Between Moses Lunsford of Wicomoco Parish in Northumberland County and Colony of Virginia of the one Part and Nargalsharezzer Palmer of the same Parish and County and Colony of the other Part Witnesseth that the said Moses Lunsford for and in Consideration of one hundred and Twenty five pounds Currant Money in hand Paid the Receipt where of the said Moses Lunsford doth Acknowledge Hath demised granted Sold promised released Enfeossed (sp?) and Confirmed and by these Presents doeth Demise Grant Bargain Sell Remise Release Enfeosse (sp?) and Confirm unto Nargalsharezzer Palmer his Heirs Executors Administrators or assigns one hundred and Eighty Six acres of Land Situate Lying and being on Great Wicomoco River side in the aforesaid Parish County and Colony and is Bounded as followeth beginning for the bounds of the Said Land at a Water Oak on the Bank by the River Side -- Joyning Mr George Paynes Land thence Southerly along a line of marked trees to a Cedar Post Joyning Mr. George Paynes and William Jameses Land thence along a line of Marked trees Joyning William Jameses Southwest to a Dogwood at the head of the Cool Spring Branch Joyning William Palmers Land a Corner tree thence along a line of marked Trees Northerly to a Corner Post by the -- Road Joyning the above Said William Palmer and Robert Palmers Land thence Northeastily down along a path to a Pissimin tree Joyning Robert Palmers Land thence along a line of Marked trees Northeast to a Corner Ash in Robert

(next page)
Palmers Spring Branch Joyning the said Moses Lunsfords Land thence down the Branch to the Creek thence down the Creek to the River thence down the Above said River to the Place begun Including by Estimation one hundred and Eighty Six acres of Land with all woods Underwoods trees timber trees waters Meadows Pastures feedings Marshes as also fensing houses orchards Gardens and backsides to the Said one hundred and Eighty Six acres of Land --
Belonging or any wayes Appertaining or therewith used occupied or enjoyed together with all Right Priviledges advantages appertinances to the Same or any wise appertaining and the Reversion and Reversions remainder or Remainders Rents Issues Profitts thereof To have and to hold the said one hundred and Eighty Six acres of Land be the Same more or Less and Premises and Every Part and Parcell of them hereby Granted Bargained and Sold or Mentioned or -- intended  to be Bargained Granted and Sold and Every Part and Parcell thereof with the appurtances unto the said Nargalshrezzer Palmer his heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns for Ever to the only Proper use and behooss (sp?) of him the said Nargalsharezzer Palmer his heirs Executors Administrators and assigns for Ever and _____ and Paying the Quitrents for the Same of right Accustomed and the Said Moses Lunsford for him Self his heirs Executors and Administrators that at thte time of the Ensealing and Delivery of these Presents hath on him Self good Right - and Lawfull Power and authority to Grant and Convey the said one hundred and Eighty Six acres of Land and Premisses in manner and form aforesaid and that the said Nargalsharezzer Palmer his heirs Executors Administrators or assigns shall or may from time to time and at all times hereafter hold occupy Possess and Enjoy the Same and Every Part thereof without the Least hindrance and Missistation (sp?) of him the Said Moses Lunsford or his heirs Executors Administrators or any other Person or Persons whatsover Claming from or by under him free and Clear and freely and Clearly Acquitted Exonorated and Discharged of and from and from all manner of Joynheres Dowers Gifts Grants Bargains

(next page)
Sales Leases Morgages Judgements Executions and Ext__ts and from all other Troubles whatsoever Committed and done by him the Said Moses Lunsford his heirs Executors Administrators or any other Person or Persons Claiming from or under him and Shall and will warrent and forever Defend the said Promises unto him the Said Nargalsharezzer Palmer his heir Executors Administrators or assigns for Ever and will from time to time and at all times hereafter at and upon the Reasonable request Cost and Charge of him the Said Nargalsharezzer Palmer his heirs Executors Administrators or assigns delivery Suffor and acknowledge or couse to be made done Served and acknowledged all or any other Deed Conveyance or Conveyances assurance or assurances in the Law Whatsoever for the more Perfect and Sure making of the Said Premisses unto the Said Nargalsharezzer Palmer his heirs Executors Administrators or assigns as his Councill in the Law Shall be in that behalf reasoned devised Advised tendered and Required In Witness whereof the Part first Mentioned above to this Present Indenture hath set his hand and fixed his Seale the Day and year first above Writton.
Signed Sealed an' Delivered }
    In the Presence of             }                  Moses Lunsford {L:S}
Moses Oldham --}  Rodam Lunsford}
Wm Coppedge --}  Thomas James --}
William Harding}   John Palmer ---- }
                                William Palmer }
December the 10th 1750
Memorandum That Quiet and Peaceable Possession and Seizeon of the within Mentioned one hundred and Eighty Six acres of land and Premisses was this Day Given and Delivered by the Within named Moses Lunsford first Part of this Indenture unto Nargalsarezzer Palmer of the other Partie to this Indenture by the Delivery of  ___ and ___ upon the said Land in the Presence of Thomas James, John Palmer and William Palmer
Then Received of Nargalsharezzer Palmer one hundred and fifteen Pounds Current Money being full satisfaction for the Within mentioned Land and Premises as Witness my hand this 12 Day of November 1750,
Thomas James - }                               Moses Lunsford
William Palmer}  John Palmer
At a Court held for Northumberland County the 10th Day of December 1750
This Deed from Moses Lunsford to Nargalsharezzer Palmer and Livery and Seisen and Receipt Endorsed was acknowledged by the said Lunsford and ordered to be Recorded,
                                                           Teste, Thos Jones Junr C C

Source: Northumberland, VA, Record Books, No. 1:183, Lunsford to Palmer Deed, 7 Nov 1750; Library of Virginia Reel #6.                      

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pick a Platform

I have been alternately pleased with and overwhelmed by the entry of Google+ into the social media platform competition. I am the veriest novice when it comes to the whole issue. In my real life I don't do platforms. The shoes are ridiculous and perilous for one who is literally off-balance. Physical platforms are off the ground and inherently risky. Political platforms, stating it as gently as I can, are written by manipulative sociopaths to appeal to those below the lowest common denominator (2012 is going to be a very long year). 

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by ShawnMichael

But though platform adverse, I have experimented with different social media platforms. Facebook has been a delightful place to connect informally with other family history researchers, genealogists and bloggers. I rarely use Twitter, but when there's a conference I wish I was attending or a popular uprising in Cairo, it can't be beat.

I post this blog to both because several readers have mentioned their preference for receiving blog posts via Twitter feeds or on Facebook through NetworkedBlogs. Though I strongly prefer blog reading through an RSS aggregator like Google Reader, I aim to please.

And now there's Google+.

I haven't posted my blog there before today. It seems excessive to post the same material three times over. I am not marketing myself in any commercial sense. I am simply trying to make the material I write available to those who are interested in the format that is most convenient. I am finding the redundancy a little depressing. Must one post everything on every platform? It seems like virtual littering.

So, in an effort to discern the preferences of you, my loyal reader, I've devised this brief poll. Please vote and let me know your 'druthers. Voting will remain open through August 25th. I will share the results next week.

Thank you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The House on Maupin Row - Those Places Thursday

I wrote recently about being contacted by families living in homes where my great-grandparents lived over a century ago. One of the homes is in Johnson City, TN where my grandmother Iva Williams Sawyer grew up. The homeowners were wondering if Iva's father had built the house and I thought it entirely possible. R.J. Williams was a skilled carpenter and cabinet maker. We knew the family was living in the house by the 1910 census. City records showed the house was built in 1907, though the homeowners were told that date was not the date of construction, but of when the home was remodeled and electricity added. I wondered if R.J. had done an extensive addition in 1907 to the house, adding a second story and two story addition.

R.J. and Flora Williams family, c. 1904

One of our family treasures is a photograph of the family in front of their home taken about 1904 when Iva, clutching a doll on the steps, was in her moppet phase. Her brothers Argil and Earl are standing on the porch. Brother Guy is to the right of the stairs. Her father is seated on the porch. Her mother is standing near the window in front of the house. This home is far smaller than the Maple Street house and after looking at the picture of that house, I don't think the buildings are they same. It is still possible that R.J. was involved in the construction, interior finishes or remodeling of the Maple Street house, but it is not the house the family was living in when the photograph was taken. 

The 1900 census lists the family living on Maupin Row in the First Ward. R.J. owned the home, free of mortgage. I believe this is the house in the photograph. Maupin Row is not found on modern maps, nor could I find it in the 1910 census. However I located many other streets in the same district on Google Maps. Maupin Row was listed near the pins in the top left area of the map. Whatever remains of the house is buried beneath parking lots or highways.


1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Johnson City, Washington, TN, enumeration district (ED) 149, p. 9A, dwelling 148, family 166, Reese J. Williams; digital images, ( : accessed 16 Aug 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1604.

1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Johnson City, Washington, TN, enumeration district (ED) 0202, p. 7B, dwelling 110, family 111, Reese J. Williams; digital images, ( : accessed 16 Aug 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 1524.

Williams Family, RJ and Flora. Photograph. c. 1904. Digital image. Privately held by Susan Clark, St. Louis, MO. 1980.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Margaret Meredith Palmer - Tombstone Tuesday

Mrs. M. Palmer
Wife of
Jas. A. Palmer
Margaret Meredith Palmer lies in the small graveyard at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Kilmarnock, Virginia. The land the church and graveyard are on was originally part of Clifton plantation, the Palmer home.

Palmer Hall, the original church at St. Francis de Sales.
Her son John A. Palmer and his family are buried near her under a series of large markers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Margaret Lee's Petition for Freedom, 1795 - A Friend of Friends Friday

On my summer travels I was able to spend two days reviewing late 18th and early 19th century court records in Washington County, TN. Much of the material was dry and of little use, but there were enough fascinating papers to keep me motivated.

One case struck me immediately - to the point where I photographed both documents in the file and started some quick research on the spot. It has haunted me since. One of the few blessings of my decision to publish all possible slave records from my family is that this is NOT a case related to my family. I'm sure as I work through the records I will find other especially tragic and troubling records. But none could be more explicit or horrifying than the case of Margaret Lee who in 1795 begged the Superior Court of Law in Washington County for her freedom.

The court records are owned by the Archives of Appalachia and I do not have permission to publish the photographs or a full transcription of the documents. Fortunately Loren Schweninger's The Southern Debate Over Slavery: Petitions to Southern county courts, 1775-1867 (University of Illinois Press, 2008) includes Margaret Lee's petition on pages 59-60 and is available on Google Books. It is embedded below.

Briefly, Margaret Lee's petition states that she was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Thomas and Descinda Lee (her mother's name could also be read as Lucinda) who "altho' of a Black hue, had the Happiness to be born free people" and that in about 1774 she was kidnapped from the town docks by Samuel Latin, chained, and thrown into the hold of a ship he commanded. She was taken to Maryland where Latin enslaved her. When she attempted to make the case that she was freeborn, Latin sold her to George Johnson who in turn sold her to Francis Hawkins who in turn sold her Dutch Boyles of Frederick County, Maryland who in turn sold her to Samuel Gammons of Sullivan County, Tennessee. During her 20 years of slavery Margaret Lee bore at least two children, Abraham and Maria, who are named in her petition and in the order to Samuel Gammons to appear before the Court.

It's not difficult to deduce that Margaret Lee was anything but compliant. Nor that the consequences to her demands for freedom had been repeated sales to new slaveowners. Her 1795 petition was dated September 18th. The order to Samuel Gammons to appear before the Superior Court of Law in Jonesborough on the third Tuesday of March, 1796 was dated the third Tuesday of September, 1795. There are no further records, which to me is the most horrible element of the case. Samuel Gammons does not appear in any Tennessee records that I could find. A free Margaret, Abraham or Maria Lee do not appear in any Tennessee census or United States census that I could find.

I've tried to find records that support Margaret Lee's story. A Thomas Lee appears as the head of family in the 1790 U.S. census living in Salem, Massachusetts. He and the other two members of his family are listed as "all other free persons" rather than white. He does not appear in 1800. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society's American Ancestors site contains records that could belong to Thomas Lee, but I no longer belong and could not access them. I could find no record of a Samuel Latin, though a Samuel Litton appears as in Harford County, Maryland records. A Francis Hawkins appears on the same 1783 tax list. A George Johnson and a Francis Hawkins appear in Queen Anne County, Maryland records, but these are such common names. A Francis Hawkins is also found in Charles County Records. I found no record of a Dutch Boyles in Frederick County, but suspect he was from one of the German speaking families settling the area at the time. Even as I speculate this, I found no record of him in my book of Frederick County Lutheran marriages. A number of people enumerated as Beall in the 1790 census are slave owners, as is a Daniel Boyle.

It would be easy to obsess over the tragedy of Margaret Lee. I've already spent days thinking about her, admiring her courage and hoping against all reasonable hope that she found freedom. I can only pray she found peace.

Source: Washington District, Territory South of the Ohio, Superior Court of Law and Equity, 1785-1811, 3:117, Lee Margaret in behalf of herself and her two children, Maria and Abraham (freedom),1795; Archives of Appalachia, Johnson City, TN.

The Southern Debate Over Slavery: Petitions to Southern county courts, 1775-1867 (University of Illinois Press, 2008)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Sawyer Homeplace

This painting of my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer's home was painted by a friend of the family, Wanda Samples, probably about 1970. It hung in the house until Gee's last child, Mary Kathryn McKenzie, died in 1996. I was recently able to give it to the current owners of the home.

Samples, Wanda. Painting of Sawyer Homeplace. c. 1970. Digital image. Privately held by homeowner, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Warrensburg, TN. 2011.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Slaves named in Sarah Porter's Will (1833) - 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 am continuing to process the documents acquired during my recent travels. This is a transcription of the will of Sarah Turner Conway Porter (10 Jun 1774 - 9 Jan 1834), my 4th great-grandmother. She was born in Fauquier County, VA and died in Jefferson County, TN.  I found a photocopy of the will at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library. It was part of their Ancestor File for my 4th great-grandfather and Sarah's first husband, Joseph Conway. The will includes bequests of slaves to her heirs.

Though no source information was included in the file regarding the filing date or location of the original will I have been told it was filed in Jefferson County, TN. There was a lawsuit resulting from the will that ended up being heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1840.

Sarah Porters Will

The last Will and Testament of Sarah Porter of Jefferson County, East Tennessee. Considering the uncertainty of this mortal life and being of Sound mind and memory ____ __ almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in ____ and Terms Following: That is to say, First. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sarah Hogain, the Mahoggany sideboard and one dozen gilt Windsor chairs. Item I give and bequeath all the balance of my property both real and personal, that I die possessed of, ( Consisting of four negroes, Viz., Charlotte, Abraham, Ann and Warner household and kitchen furniture, farming utensils stock of all kind, Waggons gears & Horses and Lands ) to be divided into four equal fourth shares and shares alike. First to my daughter Sarah Hogain and her heirs I give on share. Secondly to my son William Turner Conway and his heirs I give one other share. Thirdly I give one other share to my son James Christopher Conway and his heirs Fourthly, I give to my grandson Joseph Porter Conway ___. the fourth and last shares. But in case my said Granson Joseph Porters Conway should depart this life before he becomes of lawful age or before he has a lawful heir of his own body then and in that case the above devised share to my grandson Joseph Porter Conway should decend to his full blooded sisters and brothers, and lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my esteemed friends Major William Conway and William C. Hogain Esq of Green County and Peters Beckers and Charles T. P Jarnagin of Jefferson County, East Tennessee my lawful executors of this my last Will and Testament ___ing and annulling all former Wills by me made Testifying and Confirming this and none other to be my last Will and Testament. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this the      day of June in the year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and thirty three.
                              Sarah Porter {Seal}    
   Signed Sealed published and declared by the above
   hand Sarah Porters to be her last Will and Testament
   in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence
   have subscribed our Names as Witnesses Hereunto
    Eleventh line from the bottom on the first page interlined before signed
John W. Haill
William Haill
Abraham {his X mark} Dawson

Notes - The lawsuit I referred to above states that Sarah Porter died in 1835. The information I've had handed down to me gives a date of 9 January 1834. I have not researched her death date and have no supporting documentation for the date I've used. 

The photocopied will shows no date for Sarah Porter's signature beyond June, 1833. 

Major William Conway was the nephew of Sarah's first husband, Joseph Conway. William Conway Hogain was the husband of Sarah's daughter as well as her first husband's grand-nephew. Charles Jarnigan was Sarah's grandson (through his mother Elizabeth Maree Conway, who died before her mother) and party to the subsequent lawsuit. There is no known relationship to Peter Beckers. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Serendipitous Results

When I started blogging last year I'd no idea who, if anyone, would be reading what I posted. Blogging was the first step in addressing the issue of what happens to Mom's stuff when Mom is off to greener pastures - be they eternal or the result of wanderlust. My goal was to share the stuff, most of which has been entirely private, with present and future family historians.

I'm blessed/cursed to be the family archivist. I have vital records, letters, diaries and photographs of my immigrant grandparents; boxes of papers and photo albums hauled up from my great-grandfather's house in 1996; crates of my grandmother's letters, photographs, research notes, grocery lists, bills, and newspaper clippings. There are a couple bags of research and photographs from my mother and aunt. This summer I've added digital copies of my husband's great-grandmother's papers to the mix. It's overwhelming. Who would be interested in this?

Well, it turns out people are!

GeneaBloggers LOVE reading each other's work. I suspect many of us have few people in our daily lives who are fascinated by the details of what we do. This was unexpected, but has been great fun.

Cousins have contacted me after reading the blog - especially on my father's side of the family. This has been a joy. It's the reason I began. Nothing beats connecting with family members interested in family history.

I've not had as much luck connecting with cousins in the more established American families I research, but I have been amazed by who has contacted me about those lines. I expected interest in the blog to be limited to family historians, but, with the power of Google, other researchers are finding posts of interest. I've had a wonderful exchange with a gentleman researching the history of his high school, a school where my great-uncle coached (more on that in a later post).

Three people researching house histories have emailed me. One man is researching a family home in the area where Thomas James Meredith's son settled. He kindly told me my Meredith posts have been helpful (hallelujah!!). Given how besotted I am with the family, this pleased me more than I can express. He's confirmed that the Thomas Meredith in Gloucester County is the son and generously offered to share some documents and photographs. I do love those Merediths!

Two people actually live in homes that belonged to great-grandparents. They found the blog by googling their addresses or the previous owners' (aka my g-grandfathers') names. Both are restoring the homes (to my delight) and have appreciated pictures and information about the houses and families that lived there. I've learned about present day adventures and had the chance to visit with the family living in my Sawyer family's homestead. I'd not been back since my last great-aunt died in 1996. It was beyond wonderful to see another family making the home their own. I even found an old painting of the house tucked in my archives (basement) and returned it to Tennessee. Far better it should hang there than gather dust and who knows what else in my "archives".

Not at all what I expected when I began this project, but these experiences have heartened and encouraged me to keep on digitizing and blogging. Now, back to work. Only a few thousand items left to scan or transcribe...

I mentioned that GeneaBloggers love reading one another's work. That this work also inspires and motivates us is not always so clear. I was catching up on back reading and saw once more a grand series of posts last month by Heather Wilkinson Rojo on her Nutfield Genealogy blog. She spent a week blogging about the joys of unexpected results in her Serendipity posts. I read them at the time and loved them. I have to think they inspired the theme and title of this post, though I was slow to recognize it. Belated hat tip to Heather!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Out for a Stroll - (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

l to r - Annette Clark, Jerry Clark, Iva Sawyer, Bob Sawyer

This picture of my grandparents (on the right) and their friends has always amused me. It was taken in 1925, shortly after they were married in Portland, OR.  They seem awfully dolled up for a picnic or park outing, yet the setting seems to indicate that's exactly where they were.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Selling the Meredith Land - 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 am beginning to process the documents copied at the Library of Virginia during my recent travels. This deed documents the 1838 sale of the land my husband's 3rd great-grandfather, John Meredith, willed to his eldest son, Thomas James Meredith in 1834.

       This Indenture made the 17th July 1838 between Thomas J. Meredith of the County of Richmond of the one part and George W. Flowers of the county of Lancaster of the other part each of the state of Virginia: witnesseth that the said Thomas J. Meredith for and in consideration of the sum of Three thousand five hundred dollars to him by the said George W. Flowers agreed to be paid hath granted bargained and sold and by these presents doth grant bargain sell and convey unto the said George W. Flowers his heirs and assigns a certain tract or parcel of Land containing one hundred and seventy four acres or the same more or less lying and being in the County of Lancaster and on Dymers Creek and being the same tract of Land devised by the last will and testament of John Meredith decd: to the said Thomas James Meredith --
   To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land with the appurtenances thereto belonging from and after the first day of January next To him the said George W. Flowers his heirs and assigns forever: and the said Thomas James Meredith for himself and his heirs exors & admons doth hereby convenant and agree to and with the said George W. Flowers his heirs and assigns that he said Thomas J. Meredith and his heirs the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances unto the said George W. Flowers his heirs and assigns against him the said Thomas J. Meredith and his heirs and against all persons whomsoever shall and & will by these presents forever warrant and defend. In witness whereof the said Thomas J. Meredith hath hereto set his hand & affixed his seal the day and year above written --
signed sealed and delivered }           Thomas J. Meredith {Seal}
in presence of                     }
Ro: T. Dunaway
B. M. Walker
James E. Waddey
          The grave yard  on the premises hereby conveyed is excepted & reserved to the said Thomas J Meredith his heirs and assigns forever say one fourth of an acre.
witness                                              Geo: W. Flowers
Ro: T. Dunaway
          At a Court held for the County of Lancaster on the 16th day of September 1839. This deed from Thomas J. Meredith to George W. Flowers was proved by the oaths of Ro: T. Dunaway, Benjamin M. Walker & James E. Waddey witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.
                                                                  Benjamin M. Walker cl

Notes ~ This deed narrows the locations possible for John Meredith's land, land he had inherited from his father, William Meredith. His home was referred to as Plum Hill in an obituary appearing in a Richmond newspaper. No such name exists in the area today, but Place-names of the Northern Neck of Virginia by Mary Ruth Miller (Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library 1983) mentions Plum Tree Swamp as a marsh, located in Northumberland or Lancaster Counties in the vicinity of Fleets Bay. The deed's mention of Dymers Creek supports a Fleets Bay location. Dymer Creek is located in Lancaster County and separates Fleets Bay Neck and Poplar Neck before it empties into the Bay. 

The mention of a graveyard intrigues me. My assumption is that William and Caty Yerby Meredith (John's parents), John, at least one of his three wives, and other Meredith siblings were buried there. I've found no other mention of a Meredith graveyard before this. The map above does indicate two cemeteries that are not visible on Google Earth. 

     Lancaster, VA, Deed Book 39:78, Thomas J. Meredith to George W. Flowers, 17 Jul 1838. Library of Virginia Film #13. Digital image. 
     Map from the Virginia Department of Health's Shoreline Sanitary Survey for Indian, Dymer and Tabbs Creek, dated 11 June 2011. ( Accessed 31 Jul 2011.)