On This Day in 1836

On This Day in 1836 my 3rd great grandmother Sarah Ann Elvira Dollar was born.

Don’t you find the name “Dollar” to be a little strange? Well, her father was Ambrose Dollar, her grandfather was Reuben Dollar who came to America from Wales and fought in the Revolution, and her great grandfather was Edward Dolier – probably French Doh-lee-AY or Irish D’Olier. Either one of those makes more sense than Dollar.

Sarah Ann’s mother was Jemima Clearman, whose father was Jacob Van Clearman, whose father was John William Clearman from Germany.

Well, that’s just a crazy European mix, isn’t it?

Let’s go back to her dad’s side for just a moment. This is the transcription of the sworn statement of Dr. J.M. Dollar, the great grandson of Reuben Dollar.

betsy-ross-flag-usa-united-states-of-america-americaGause Texas, August 4th 1913
This is to certify that my great grandfather Reuben Dollar told me of fighting in the Revolutionary War when I was a boy. He came from Wales and fought in the war. He returned to Wales and was disinherited by his father for having fought against the British Crown. After which he returned to America and settled in Edgefield S.C. He died in Miss. in 1858 at the age of 113 years.
Signed J.M Dollar
State of Texas:
County Of Milam:
subscribed and sworn to before me this August 4th. 1913
J.R. Fraim, Notary Public, Milam co. Texas

I find these old records fascinating!!

Anyway, back to Sarah Ann…

pickensShe was the 6th born of 8 children, half boys, half girls. She was born March 11, 1836 in Pickens County, Alabama. Pickens County is right on the Mississippi border, and at some point between 1840 and 1850, the family moved west to Mississippi. At the age of 17, on October 6, 1853, she married William Lafayette Brown, Jr. in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Keep in mind, the above Patriot grandfather was still alive until 1858 and died in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, so he might have been living with them. If not living with Sarah Ann and her husband, at least with a nearby family member.

Sarah Ann gave birth to her first child at the age of 18, James Floyd Brown in 1854. He was followed by John Ambus Brown in 1857, Angeline Brown in 1859, William Harrison Brown in 1860,  Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown in 1862, Warren Brown in 1865, Franklin Carlton Brown in 1867, Charles Berry Brown in 1871, Pinkney Earlie Brown in 1874, and Martha Catherine Brown in 1877.

Do you notice anything strange about those birth dates?

Page 1When the Civil War broke out in 1861, her husband was about 25 years old. Yes, he went to fight for the Confederacy. As a matter of fact, he was a sniper who guarded Mississippi bridges in the area. At one point, he was captured by the Union. He escaped. He went back and allowed himself to be captured again to help others escape, which he/they did. After that, he had a bounty on his head for the rest of the war.

It doesn’t look like the war or the captures between 1861 and 1865 stopped him from visiting home at least a few times. Obviously he stopped by the house long enough for some hanky panky. The girl born in 1862 was my second great grandmother. Her birthday is the same day as mine, November 19.

One thing for sure, these people didn’t back down from a challenge! I look forward to doing more research on the Dollars and Clearmans very soon.

Sarah Ann died in Mississippi July 18, 1915 at the age of 79.

Happy birthday, Grandma Sarah Ann!!

brown william L and Sarah A at goodwater cemetery

This post brought to you by “On This Day,” a perpetual calendar for family genealogy.

Searching for Scandinavia

I finally did it! I had my DNA done for my ancestry quest. I knew most of it.

 Europe West 24%
 Scandinavia 21%
 Ireland/Scotland/Wales 20%
 Great Britain 14%
 Europe East 9%
 Iberian Peninsula 6%
Most of the family I’ve traced hail from England, Scotland, Ireland, and I assume a few snuck in there from France and Spain way back in the day, hence that small percentage from the Iberian Peninsula. But 21% Scandinavian?? I have no idea where that came from. Norway, Sweden, Denmark? No clue. Though “Viking Princess” suits me. 🙂
scandinavian woman
While I was searching, I ran across a new line I didn’t know I had. Apparently these folks were from Switzerland. Really? Where does that fit in?
swiss
A great great grandmother on my mother’s side was a Spencer, and a few generations before that, one of the Spencer wives was a Flournoy. I had never heard of these Flournoys and traced them back to their first entrance into the U.S. in the early 1700s.
My 8th great grandfather was Jean Jacques Fleurnois – in American – John James Flournoy. He came to Virginia in 1705 before sending for his family in 1717.
Name: Jacques Flournoy
Arrival Year: 1705
Arrival Place: Virginia
Source Publication Code: 613
Primary Immigrant: Flournoy, Jacques
Source Bibliography: BOCKSTRUCK, LLOYD DEWITT. “Naturalizations and Denizations in Colonial Virginia.” In National Genealogical Society Quarterly, vol. 73:2 (June 1985), pp. 109-116.
Page: 111
His son, my 7th great, John James Jr, was born in Geneva on 17 Nov 1686. He would have been about thirty years old when he arrived on the Virginia shores in 1717. He was son of Jacques Flournoy of Geneva and Julia Eyraud. He settled in Williamsburg where in 1720 he married Mary Elizabeth Williams, daughter of James Williams and widow of Orlando Jones. They set up house in Henrico County, VA and over the next nineteen years, they had about eleven children. Records say John James Jr. died in Henrico Co in 1739 at the age of 52.
He had a son named John born 1726 and died 1825, so the record below must have been his grandson and namesake. This would not be one of my direct ancestors but interesting none-the-less. The following is on file in the Archives Dept. State Library in Virginia.

Point of Fork, 18 Aug., 1783. I do certify that Jean Jacques Flournoy enlisted with me the first of Oct., 1782, in the Va. Contl. line, to serve three years, and was in actual service until the 22 of August following, at which time he died, and that he received only four months pay. Signed, Jacob Brown, Lieut. Quartermaster and Paymaster of the 1st Va. Regiment.

Thank you for your service, Sir, for our freedom, and for your ultimate sacrifice.

This an interesting web that will require more research.

Still haven’t found the Scandinavians!

Otto Frank Visits Anne Frank Museum 1960

I came across some old photos and have been inspired to write blogs about them. This one is a photo of Otto Frank upon his return to the attic where his family hid from the Nazis for two years. I can’t even imagine the emotions he felt upon seeing the place fifteen years later.

1960 otto frank visiting attic the only survivor

 

His daughter, Anne Frank, was born in Frankfurt, Germany on 12 June 1929. She was the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank, and she had a sister, Margot, who was three years older.

diaryIf you haven’t read The Diary of Anne Frank, I’ll shorten it for you.

Hitler came into power in the 1930s, and Otto thought his family would be safer in Amsterdam, away from the Nazis. All went well for a while, but in May of 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. The first step they took against the Jews was to force them to register with the ‘state,’ thereby identifying and isolating them. As a Jew, Otto Frank was no longer allowed to own his own business, and soon, teenage Margot was called up for  duty at a ‘work camp.’ Otto needed to protect his family, so they went into hiding in the attic of the family business. Friends took care of them while they were in hiding, and this is the place Anne wrote her diary.

Anne made the last entry in her diary on August 1, 1944, and on August 4th, the family’s hiding place was found out. Anne was now fifteen years old and had been in hiding for two years. Anne, Margot, and their mother were initially sent to a concentration camp in Holland, then moved to Auschwitz, and then they were split up and the girls moved to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Their mother, left behind at Auschwitz, took ill and died in January of 1945. Both of the girls caught typhoid in the deplorable conditions of the camp. Margot died in February and Anne died in March of 1945.

Otto was the only survivor. When he returned to Amsterdam, he was given Anne’s diary, which had been overlooked by the Nazis in the raid and held in keeping by a former employee who had help guard the family.

The diary was published in 1947 and has been translated into more than fifty languages. The hideaway in Amsterdam was eventually turned into a museum in 1960, and this is when Otto visited. The photo of his visit is very haunting.

Egocentric Genealogy

 

Me.-Center-of-the-Universe-T-ShirtsEgocentric: regarding the self as the center of all things.

As with most people tracing their ancestry, my research and conclusions always revolve around me. How far back? How many generations? Where did my family migrate to and when, and how did I get here?

A few years ago, I had trouble tracing past my maternal great grandmother. (Keep that maternal word in mind for a moment.) She lived in the back hills of Mississippi and didn’t leave a paperwork trail. No census. No education. No land grants. Her family lived on the same land since the 1830s, or maybe even before as there is a Choctaw Indian connection. Members of my family still live on the land today.

A few years ago I found her brother, whom we called Uncle Sug (as in Sugar), and the family opened up. He left a paper trail. I could trace him. I didn’t realize (or care) who he was in my childhood, but now, he became extremely important to my research. He married Aunt Zeffie in 1918. He was 18, she was 13. I imagine him marrying such a young girl because of his raging hormones. He was always a flirt, a sweet-talker, a ladies man, traits I’m sure he didn’t create in his sixties. He was probably always like that.

Okay, stay with me here. The reason I found him was he was listed on my paternal great grandmother’s obituary. Yep, here’s where my family tree stops forking. He was listed as her son-in-law. Aunt Zeffie was my grandfather’s sister. Uncle Sug was my grandmother’s uncle. (This is the point where I had to explain to my mother that her Uncle Sug was also her mother’s Uncle Sug. Welcome to Mississippi.)

Here’s where the egocentric part comes in

Upon finding that info, I always assumed Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie met because of my grandparents. I pictured them having cocktails at family gatherings, since my relationship with my grandparents was peppered with numerous family gatherings at their country house. I pondered if other members of the family questioned their attraction. Wouldn’t you wonder why your sister liked some distant relative? I wondered if anyone on either side disavowed their marriage.

This morning, my egocentric view swiftly collapsed into a smoldering pile all around my feet.

I found out Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie got married (as stated above) in 1918. Never before have I questioned the years, but my grandparents were both born in 1914. They were both four years old at the time of the wedding.

earl culpepper and ina burkePhoto: In my mind, these are not and have never been little kids. —>>>

The thought of my grandparents knowing each other as children blew my mind. I have always pictured marriage beginning with a young couple meeting in their teens and falling in love. Must be the romantic fairy tales pounded into my brain as a young girl. I can’t emotionally comprehend that more-often-than-not people simply married the best person they could find in their small town. My grandparents had known each other for fifteen years before they got married. Did they like each other the whole time, or did they settle for the best person available? I wish I could ask them, but they’ve long been dead.

My egocentric view of my grandparents being the cause of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie’s marriage is totally and completely wrong. As a matter of fact, since my grandparents probably met because of Uncle Sug and Aunt Zeffie, I think that makes me the product of my Uncle Sug’s 18-year-old testosterone. How strange… and a little creepy.

A to Z – Phantom Time Hypothesis

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history. Or maybe about the future?

P is for Phantom Time Hypothesis

 

 

 

crooked clockFor people like me who live in genealogy, world history, and ancestry, time is everything. Recorded dates and world events bring my research into focus. What if I’m wrong? What if the recorded dates are not the real dates?

gregory13In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar. He designed the passage of time from the previously used Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was calculated by the moon’s cycles, and it is said that it ran ten minutes too slow every year. Pope Gregory’s mathematicians and astrologers figured that since the time the Julian calendar began in 45 BC, the world had lost roughly ten days. He decided the Julian calendar would end Oct 4, 1582 and the Gregorian calendar would begin Oct 15, 1582. That should fix everything.

The discrepancy began when scholars refigured the Julian calendar and came to the conclusion that the calendar didn’t started as Pope Gregory had said in 45 BC. It was started with the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Pope Gregory’s calculations were either mistaken or intentional. No one knows. But according to these scholars, the Gregorian calendar should have actually been 1282.

If this is accurate, we are living in 1716.

This isn’t a problem with our current time. We are simply using a measurement of intervals, and if we all agree to it, then it’s fine.

The problem comes when you look at events that take place prior to 1582. What if something is known to have happened in 700 AD? Was it really 400 AD? The Phantom Time Hypothesis states 644 AD to 911 AD never actually existed. Archaeological evidence of that time is scarce. Our only knowledge of that time is from historians. All scholars of the time were controlled by the Holy Roman Church. Church records are filled with discrepancies and many documents from that time are known to be forged. Why would anyone forge them? Was it the church? If the Gregorian calendar is wrong, what does that say for the people who lived and events that occurred between 644 and 911 AD. What about the Carolingian Dynasty and King Charlemagne? Did they exist before what we know from history books, or were they products of fiction like King Arthur?

romanesque-architecture-pisa-cathedralThe one thing I find interesting is that Romanesque architecture was big in Europe in the tenth century, like this photo of Piza Cathedral in Italy. Why would that be so when the Romans were long gone by the fifth century? Unless, of course, they weren’t. Dumb calendar.

A to Z – Okatibbee Creek

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

O is for Okatibbee Creek. I’ve written about Okatibbee Creek (pronounced oh-kuh-TIB-be) many times as it is the title of a book in my bibliography, but Okatibbee Creek was and is a real place with real people and real history. Here’s one of the stories.

 

 

Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly

She was just a name in my family tree. Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly. My third great grandmother. 1828-1898. I visited her grave at Bethel Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 2012, and my husband asked, “Now, who is this again?” We sat at the foot of her grave and I told him her story.

She lost her husband, Rice Carpenter, in the Civil War in 1862. How sad to lose the one you love, but hey, it’s war, people die. After he died, she remarried in 1864.

The 1870 census said she married William Jolly and was living with his children, her children, and three children they had together. It was a house-full! But at least their three children were proof they must have liked each other, right? That’s good. So, who was this William Jolly? I looked at his 1860 census. In 1860, he was living with his wife Harriet, their four children, and a woman named Nancy Carpenter who was 69 years of age.

Carpenter? Nancy Carpenter? The only Nancy Carpenter I know is Rice’s mother. Why was Mary Ann’s mother-in-law living with her future husband in 1860?? Were they neighbors? Was Nancy the cleaning lady? I clicked on Nancy Carpenter and saw her relationship to the “head of house” was listed as “mother-in-law.” She was William’s mother-in-law? What??

So, I went back and looked at Rice’s family, and sure enough, his sister Harriet was married to William. Rice died in the war 31 Dec 1862 and Harriet died a month later of typhoid on 30 Jan 1863. Their spouses, Mary Ann and William, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, married in 1864. Well of course they did. They had known each other for many years, hadn’t they?

The more I looked at the Rodgers and Carpenter families, the more I was amazed by the sheer number of family members they lost to war and typhoid. At the time of my research, I remember counting SEVENTEEN, but I’m sure there were many more I missed. I couldn’t wrap my head around that kind of heartache and quickly became impressed with Mary Ann’s strength. Not only was she raising her children alone before she married William, but her brother and sister-in-law died (within days of each other, also of typhoid) and she was raising their five kids. She owned a general store that was probably losing money and customers by the day. The Confederate dollar was shrinking with inflation. There were no men to harvest the farms. Food was short. Hope was shrinking. In October, her father died of typhoid, then her husband in December, in February her infant son died, followed by her mother a month later. How would you react if you lost two or three family members this year? You would probably need Prozac. How would you respond if you lost a dozen? I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed. Seventeen in one year? I can’t even fathom that.

51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_This is our heritage. These are the strong women we come from. We are the living proof of their strength. We are the survivors. I dug deep down in my heart and soul to tell her story, a story she would be proud of. I wanted her to know that she didn’t endure all of that heartache in vain. I am here. I am her legacy. Her story has been written down to help us realize our own strength. We are the products of our ancestors fortitude and integrity. We are the children our grandmothers fought so hard for, and I want Mary Ann to be as proud of me as I am of her.

*********************************

Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. Okatibbee Creek  was the bronze medal winner in literary fiction in the 2013 eLit Book Awards. It was also named as honorable mention in historical fiction at the 2013 Midwest Book Festival.

Lori’s books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

FREE Kindle just for you!

I, John Culpepper” is FREE on Kindle through 4/19. Grab a copy and relax with a good book this weekend. Click here – “I, John Culpepper” at Amazon.

Below is the blurb and a snippet from the book.

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_I, John Culpepper

John Culpepper was born into a privileged childhood, surrounded by abundant wealth, vast land holdings, and stately English manors. As he grew, he was expected to follow family tradition—attend law school and serve in Parliament, following which he would retire to a quiet life as a country gentleman.

John, however, had different desires. He longed to captain a mighty ship, to hear the snap of the sails, to taste the salty spray on his lips. To follow his dreams, John would have to risk being disinherited by his unyielding father. He would have to defy family convention. He would ultimately be forced to choose between the woman he loved and his mistress—the sea.

I, John Culpepper is a work of historical fiction based on the life of the 17th-century man historians refer to as John Culpepper the Merchant. He is believed to be the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. He was my 10th great-grandfather.

***********************************************

Here’s a snippet from the day John was born. The photo is the replicas of the ships mentioned in the scene. These replicas were built in the late 1900s and are currently docked on the James River in the Jamestown settlement where the original ships were heading. Road trip! Let’s go!

***********************************************

susan constant, discovery, goodspeed replicas on the chesapeake1606, Blackwall, London

“Master Culpepper! Master Culpepper!” the servant boy shouted over the bells clanging from the church steeple. He pulled the scratchy scarf tightly around his neck to ward off the chill as he pushed his way through the masses gathered on the foggy banks of the Thames.

The crowd had been gathering on the wharf for nearly two days to witness the departure of the ships, and they were prepared for a spectacle unlike any they had seen before. When the tide came in, the three ships carrying one hundred forty passengers and sailors would depart England on an exciting adventure. The air smelled of salt and tar and sweat. This was a remarkable place, a magical place, where the preparations were as exciting at the coming voyage. The anticipation in the air was nearly as thick as the fog.

The boy stopped for a moment as a wooden cask was rolled across the cobblestone in front of him. He watched as workers carefully rolled the barrel up the tilted gangplank. He remained frozen in the middle of the bustling crowd, staring at the ship. He had never seen anything so majestic in all his twelve years, and his jaw dropped at her sheer size. She was an enormous castle-like structure, at least eighty feet in length, her belly bulging at the side where the last of the cargo was being loaded in. Crates and boxes were continually being carried up the gangplank, where they disappeared into the ship’s dark interior. The deck above the cargo area was much narrower and the boy imagined that’s where the sailors would remain during the voyage, climbing masts and hoisting sails. Circling the spiderweb of hemp ropes and yardarms, seagulls cawed as if singing along with the rhythmical clanging of a nearby metal object. The boy scanned the scene for the source of the sound and noticed a blind beggar sitting on the cobblestone near the bow of the ship, tapping a stick on a metal bowl.

Behind the ship floated a second ship, nearly as large as the first, and behind that loomed a third. Each hosted its own cast of sailors, supplies, vagrants, and gangplanks. As wavelets gently raised and lowered the vessels, moans of protest arose from the taut ropes, and the weathered wood creaked with each stomp of a sailor’s boot. Nearby, two mangy hounds barked and growled over some fish scraps, bringing the boy’s attention back to his task at hand. Remembering why he had come, he yelled, “Master Culpepper!” He spun around and around looking for the man, weaving between horses, carts, trunks, and sailors shouting commands. He darted in and out of the crowd, making sure he didn’t bump into any wealthy gentlemen, recognizable by their long cloaks adorned with colorful silk threads.

In April, King James had created the Virginia Company, which would finance sailings to Virginia and Plymouth with the aim of settling colonies and profiting from the land’s abundant natural resources. The aristocracy funded the expeditions with the expectation of making an exorbitant profit. The three ships embarking from Blackwall on this day would sail to Virginia and bring back riches. There were rumors of gold, silver, and gems merely washing up on the shore for the taking. If nothing else, there was surely timber to be harvested. The trees in England had long been felled and the rising price of timber would certainly bring the investors a hefty return.

After they finished loading supplies and the morning fog had dissipated, the ships would raise their sails and ride the tide down the Thames. They would enter the English Channel and cross the great ocean and return by summertime.

The boy bobbed in and out of the crowd, searching for his master.

“Who are you searching for, lad?” a man in a ruffled collar asked.

“Master Culpepper,” the boy replied, removing his hat and revealing his dirty blond hair, which was sticking this way and that like a wheat field in a mighty windstorm. He twisted the wool hat in his hands.

“Johannes or Tom?”

“Johannes Culpepper, sir.”

“I saw him down by the front ship—the Discovery—only moments ago. He was standing right on the dock.”

“Thank you.”

The boy nodded, replaced his cap, and shoved through the workers and onlookers toward the front ship. As he passed the first ship, he looked at the name written on her side and sounded out the letters. He couldn’t make any sense of the words Susan Constant, but when he reached the second ship, he could read God…speed. He wondered if the Godspeed was true to her name. If he were to sail, he would rather sail on the Godspeed and get there faster. From what he understood, it was a two-month voyage if the weather was bonny, maybe four months if the ship ran into rough seas.

He had once spent a morning in a small fishing boat and instantly became green with sickness that lasted for days. He didn’t think he would be able to survive the time it would take to sail to Virginia. He gawked at the bow of the Godspeed as he ran past, witnessing a young lad about his age. The sailor dripped with sweat, even in the chill of the damp morning air, as he coiled ropes and folded sails. What a great adventure it would be to sail to Virginia, but alas, the boy would never get to do such amazing things. He was a servant, a gift from His Majesty King James I to Johannes Culpepper. He would always be a servant, but perhaps someday he would be fortunate enough to serve the king. Even though Master Culpepper was good to him, he wished to someday live at court and be somebody. At least he had the slimmest of chances. His sister had been placed in the kitchen of some castle in Wales. She would never be anything more than a scullery maid. Women would never hold a place in society. They were not welcomed on this voyage, either.

He hopped up and down, unsuccessfully trying to look over the crowd. “Master Culpepper!” he called.

A man turned and pointed. “Culpepper is right over there, son.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The boy sprinted in the general direction, and when he pushed through a couple workers conversing on the dock, he saw him.

“Master Culpepper!”

The boy ran up behind Johannes Culpepper and patted the back of his master’s arm, hopping up and down. “Master Culpepper!”

Johannes turned and looked down at the boy, his square jaw set and his blue-gray eyes burrowing into the lad. “What is it, boy? Why are you making such a commotion?”

The boy panted, out of breath from running. “Master Culpepper, m’lady is havin’ the baby, sir!”

Johannes’s face turned red as he glanced around the crowd to see if anyone was eavesdropping. When he saw no one was, he folded his arms across his chest and stroked his beard. “You came all this way to tell me that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good, boy. You run along home now.”

The boy didn’t move. How could his master not be excited about this news? Did he not want to return home and see his wife and child? Was there anything the boy could say to convince the man to accompany him back to the house?

“Go on. Run along.” Johannes waved the boy off with a flip of his ringed fingers and abruptly turned his back.

“Yes, sir.” The lad backed up, keeping his eyes on his master, wondering what he would tell the governess when he returned home without his master in tow. He had ridden nearly four hours to get to Blackwall this morning, most of it in the dark as the sun had not even risen when he left. He would have a four-hour return trip to think of something. He turned and walked back in the direction from which he had come.

*******************************

Get your copy by clicking HERE.

A to Z – Decoration Day

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge. I’m participating by writing blogs about history.

D is for Decoration Day.

I should get two points for that. 🙂

 

 

 

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayIn 1868 following the American Civil War, the head of a Union veterans organization established Decoration Day as a time to decorate the graves of those killed in the war. However, this was certainly not a new idea, as those in the South had been doing this in family graveyards for years, well before the war. Families would gather on a Sunday in early summer at the cemetery grounds for a religious service and a picnic and place flowers on the graves of their loved ones.

There is another claim that black Americans actually invented the celebration/commemoration in Charleston, South Carolina at the close of the war in 1865, when 10,000 men, black and white, proclaimed to the world what the war was really about and celebrated the end of the war and freedom from slavery.

By the 20th century, the conflicting traditions merged to become one – Memorial Day.

Towns in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi, and Illinois have all claimed the creation of Memorial Day, and if that isn’t confusing enough, in 1966, President Johnson signed a proclamation declaring Waterloo, NY as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Seems to me they’re all about 100 years too late, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. The 89th Congress recognized that the observance of Memorial Day happened 100 years prior to the presidential proclamation.

When the first observance in 1868 was planned, it is said May 30 was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any civil war battle. The White House, in typical form, says it was chosen “as an optimal date for flowers to be in bloom.” Seriously, why do we elect these people??

The earliest observances mixed religion and nationalism together to provided a way for people to make sense of their history in terms of sacrifice for a better nation. I wish people today would understand and honor that instead of trying to erase it, but that’s a-whole-nother blog. To properly honor Memorial Day, you raise your flag to the top of the staff, then lower it to half staff until noon, when you raise it again. Memorial Day is about death, sacrifice, and rebirth. Perhaps we should commemorate it more than once per year.

Just in case you go on Jeopardy: The longest continually running Memorial Day Parade has been held every year since 1868 in Ironton, Ohio.

 

in memory

 

52 Ancestors #36 Working for a Living

52ancestors-2015

This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s prompt is Workin’ for a Living.

I have at least six nurses, one doctor, two cops, a seamstress, a school teacher, and a bunch of farmers in my family, but the one that comes to mind is my 2nd great grandfather, the treasurer of Lauderdale County, Mississippi 1904-1907, Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene.

plaque in Lauderdale Co Court House in MeridianTGL Keene was born 20 Apr 1859. It took me years to find information about his family and I had to piece it together through other family names, but the 1860 census shows TGL living with his father Green, his mother Sarah, his aunt Elizabeth (dad’s sister), his other aunt Catherine (dad’s other sister) and his seventy-year-old grandpa Gilbert Keene. TGL’s older siblings include John, Martha, Minerva Ellen, and Mary. TGL was the baby at only a year or so old.

Sometime before the 1870 census, his mom and dad died. The 1870 census shows Minerva Ellen, Mary, and TGL (now 11) living with their 50-year-old aunt Elizabeth. Not only are his parents noticeably absent, but grandpa isn’t listed either.

The 1880 census shows TGL at the age of 21 living with his eldest sister Martha and her husband Charles Pierce and their children and working as an assistant on their farm. I assume old aunt Elizabeth was dead by this time. This poor boy just keeps losing the adults in his life.

In Aug 1890, TGL married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown, and over the next ten years, they had seven children, one being my great grandmother Eula Ouida Keene Pickett, whom I loved dearly. Too bad she never spoke to me of her family. All of TGL’s children survived him except for a boy who died as an infant.

Records show TGL worked in the county system since at least 1900, becoming the county treasurer 1904-1907, and the marble plaque above still stands in the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Meridian, Mississippi. In 1910, TGL was listed on the census as a Justice of the Peace. In 1918, he returned to his roots and is listed in the Mississippi census as a farmer. Upon his death in 1921 at the age of 62, he was a member of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

TGL Keene death certStrangely, with all of his public service, there are very few records of him, and his parents are not listed on his death certificate. Perhaps the Keene family never spoke of those who came before. Or perhaps, TGL was a private man. How could his wife and his grown children not know the names of his parents to list on the certificate? His wife outlived him by five years, and they are both buried at Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery in the Bonita Community, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

t g l keene headstone

 

Saturday Snippet of An Orphan’s Heart

AOH%20cover_webThe second book in the Okatibbee Creek Series is the tale of one of the orphans lost in the shuffle in Okatibbee Creek, Martha Ellen Rodgers Meek, simply known as Ellen. In An Orphan’s Heart, nine-year-old Ellen’s family has been decimated by the civil war and a typhoid epidemic that swept through the county. She and her siblings are now forced to live with other family members, and Ellen finds herself longing for the love of her mother. She is relocated from Mississippi to Alabama, and upon reaching maturity, she decides to go back to Mississippi. Things are certainly not the same as they were in her childhood. She eventually travels to the great plains of Texas to visit her brothers, and immediately upon her arrival, she meets the man of her dreams and plans for a bright future – but has everything torn from her in a shattering turn of events.

An Orphan’s Heart is based on a true story. The names are real. The events are real. The story is told in first person, present tense. The photo at the bottom of this page is the real Martha Ellen Rodgers Meek, taken sometime around 1880.

Below is a snippet of when Ellen met handsome Sam Meek. The electricity was evident from the first moment.

**************

The inside of the house is as charming as the outside. A blazing fire warms the room, and the air smells of freshly made coffee. Mollie introduces me to their daughters: Minnie, who is five, and Willie Jo, who is two. What cute little girls! Judging by their nightdresses, they were about to go to bed. They both run up and wrap their arms around my neck as I bend down to say hello.

“Aunt Ellen, how long did it take you to get here?” Minnie asks.

“A couple of days. I traveled on three different trains.”

“Did you bring us any presents?” Willie Jo asks.

I laugh. I didn’t even consider doing so, but I pull two pieces of candy from my bag and they’re happy with that.

I’m so wrapped up in the little girls, I don’t even notice him sitting quietly at the table.

“Ellen, I’d like to introduce you to my brother. This is Sam Meek.”

The man rises from the table to greet me, and I’m immediately taken aback by his rugged good looks and warm smile. Our eyes meet and lock. Suddenly I feel as if I’m drowning in a pool of green—the richest green of a mountainside, the darkest green of the deepest water. Everyone and everything else disappears.

He offers me his hand as I rise from the floor. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

“And you, sir.” I take his hand and feel electricity flow through every vein in my body. I pull my hand away, and just as quickly regret the action. I wish to feel that sensation again, but there is no way to touch him again now. I glance down and admire his tan forearm, half covered by his rolled-up sleeve. “I am very sorry about the loss of your mother,” I offer as I try to compose myself.

He doesn’t respond for a moment, and stares deeply into my eyes. “Thank you. It’s very sad for all of us.” He doesn’t pull his eyes away.

Mollie brings some coffee to the table, breaking the spell Sam Meek has created, and she motions for us to have a seat.

“Would you like something to eat?” she asks.

“No, thank you.” I shake my head, finding it hard to look away from the exquisite creature in front of me.

“Sam?”

“No, I’m fine, but thank you,” he says, not breaking our gaze. “I’ll have to get to sleep in a little bit. I’m exhausted.”

I sink into the chair but have no idea if I’m actually sitting. The thought of him leaving the room is disheartening, and I’m surprised a man I just met is having this kind of effect on me.

“So, how was your trip?” He turns toward his coffee cup as Mollie fills it.

“It was amazing. When I was younger, I traveled through a small town in Alabama that had a train station. I was so enchanted by the women in their fancy hats coming and going, I vowed to myself I would someday travel on a train to a distant place.” I smile. “And here I am.”

“Sounds nice.” He takes a sip of his coffee, watching me over the brim of his steaming cup. His voice sounds like silk.

I watch the way he sips. I watch his strong, callused hands place the cup back down on the table. I watch his tongue lick a stray drop from his lips. I watch his tanned throat as he swallows.

“Did you sleep on the train or did you stop somewhere?”

“I spent the night in Mobile and New Orleans, but the rest of the trip was on a sleeper train that had bunks. The rocking motion of the train was actually very soothing.” I sip the strong, bitter coffee, then glance at him as I place the cup back on the table.

“Well, I’m glad you had a good journey.” He stands. “I’m sorry to interrupt our coffee and conversation, but I really need to get some sleep. I can hardly keep my eyes open. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow with the funeral and all.” He grabs his hat from the side table. “Relatives have been coming into town all day.” He nods to me. “It was a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. I’d love to speak with you more about your journey, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

“Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Meek.” His movements are like a stallion running through a field, like an eagle catching its prey, like a…

“Please, call me Sam.” He grins, showing the slightest dimple under his dark stubble. His eyes sparkle in the firelight.

I nod and smile. I can’t stop staring at him.

He bids a good evening to Mollie and Willie, and just as instantly as he appeared, he is gone.

My heart is pounding in my ears. My palms are sweating. I can’t seem to catch my breath. I wish I could follow him. I look down at my coffee cup and shake my head. When I look up, Mollie and Willie are both staring at me, and I blush.

************

James daughter Martha Ellen Rodgers MeekAn Orphan’s Heart is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

An Orphan’s Heart was a finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Awards. The cover was also named a top-ten finalist in the 2013 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. It was also awarded a Five-Star Review at Readers’ Favorite. It is the second book in the Okatibbee Creek Series. The first book is Okatibbee Creek. The third is Elly Hays.