Tombstone Tuesday: Unknown West grave May 25th, 2010
When I was lost in Kentucky many moons ago, I found this gravesite. At first I was excited because I was just going to Johnsville Cemetery for my Taylor relatives. Little did I know I had really opened up a waterfall of relatives. I know better now. Any cemetery in Bracken County, Kentucky is littered with my kin.
This however, isn’t one of them. Let me give you a quick look at my line leading up to the West line.
Me > Mom > Grandma Taylor > Lula Applegate > Elizabeth Susan West > Isaiah West and Zeroah Rachael Black?
Why do I put the question mark at the end of Zeroah’s name. Well, that’s because her name is cause for debate among the few that are actually researching this line. I haven’t communicated with any of them, because quite frankly I don’t think they are part of my line. I’ll probably reach out more once I have all my ducks in a row so to speak. I’m pretty confident about this line though, because I researched it myself, it didn’t come from my copy of the family tree. I have the death records of everyone except for Elizabeth’s parents. In all of the children’s death records it shows their mother listed as a weird Z name and the surname Black. So that’s why I have that in my family file. A quick search on Ancestry will bring up a half dozen trees with Isaiah West married to Zerelda Jane McClanahan. They say this because there is a Kentucky Marriage Record on file for the two.
Needless to say that’s enough for some. I get that Zerelda or any Z name is uncommon so this is probably as close as you can get. This record is one of the only (if not the only) marriage records for a West in the database. I’m still hesitant though. My couple started having children in 1866 that I know of. I don’t know if there were any infant deaths yet. I also have their marriage as being estimated for 1862. Which makes sense to me. For their ages and the children start time. The marriage record however, lists the marriage date as May 2, 1852. That’s 10 years off my target date. Is it still possible, yeah it is but I don’t think so. I’m going to err on the side of caution on this one.
Where does this tombstone come in then you ask? Well when I found this tombstone on that ill fated trip, I assumed at the time that it was my couple. Why I don’t know, I just did. The delight wore off once I uploaded my pictures and started attaching the pictures to my file. This was definitely not my couple. In the years leading up to this post though, I’ve run across this couple in census records. I’m pretty sure all these yahoos I mentioned will end up in my tree. It’s another case of the William Moores and William Mayses for me. Eventually I’ll prove they were cousins or something. It’s just the way my research becomes full circle. It’s why I never deleted this picture. I just have it sitting in my Tombstone folder marked as Unknown West.
Maybe later today I will research the West family again, now that I’ve typed this up I find I want to get my ducks in a row when it comes to this family. Hm..
Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging theme I got from GeneaBloggers. To participate in Tombstone Tuesday simply create a post which includes an image of a gravestone of one or more ancestors and it may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor.
Madness Monday: Back Away… May 24th, 2010
Sometimes, you just need to back away from your family file. Well I do at least. I found myself this week re-thinking EVERYTHING that involved my research and my blog. I’ve already done the irreversible step of clearing out my Mom’s side of the tree on my website. Which I’ll never regret, because keeping it around was just wrong when I wasn’t sure of the validity of it all.
I’ve read enough on blogs in the last month or so to make me sweat about all things I think I know. It’s been a crazy, educational couple of months. In the end, I deleted everything but my Original Family File and then I made a copy of my Random Number RootsMagic file and plopped it into Family Tree Maker. No more files for me. These three are it. The Original file is now relegated to back up status, even though I back up the other two regularly.
So here I sit, with a clean start on both my website and my family file. Technically I’m not starting completely over though. I still have all those names in my file to contend with. I just won’t add them to the website unless I have them thoroughly and well sourced. Which brings me to my next decision.
I went through all the trouble of having to clean out my website database. This is so my Ref ID #’s on the website and in FTM/RootsMagic will be the same. I couldn’t change an already existing ID # in the website, which I understand completely. So I’m starting over with that in every since of the word. The decision I made though, is I’m going to go ahead and add my Random Relative Project relatives as I finish them. If I don’t feel comfortable adding them to the site yet on what I have, I won’t. Since I know so much more about things on the TNG software though, it doesn’t make sense to save them for later when it’s just as easy to add them now, and then link them in when I get there. It doesn’t harm anything really.
So that’s where I’m at. By the way, I put eighty million categories on this post because they all fit, and I’m obsessed with categories. Maybe I just need to put up a Kathleen is Category Crazy category for days like today… or maybe I just need to leave it as Family File Hijinks and Madness Monday. Here I go again.
Madness Monday is a daily blogging theme I got from GeneaBloggers. To participate in Madness Monday simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor who may have suffered from some form of mental illness or an ancestor who drives you “mad” because you have trouble locating them or locating more information about them.
Another Mays Family Drama May 20th, 2010
I’ve posted twice already (01, 02) about trying to figure out about William and Anna Mays’ children. I’d link you to the main site, but I cleared it out so I could sync the ID numbers with my “Random Relative Project“. The last I researched this family, I was trying to figure out where some of the children came from and where the others went. I’m pretty sure the last I looked Anna Z Mays was up in the air because I couldn’t figure out who she married, and then I found someone matching her age, but with her younger sister’s name (Ellen). So I was thoroughly confused.
Today, I was trying to log in one of my Random Relatives in the 1880 census and low and behold, I was back to Anna Mays’ household in 1880. They were living almost next door to my Random Relative. So I decided to let myself get distracted and I was finally going to track down those grandchildren living with Anna.
The first one, James, was fairly easy because I noticed that I had Rebecca listed as having a son. I have him listed as James H Mays, born Oct 1864. I have his death certificate so his birthdate and parents are correct. Well, as correct as they’ll ever get. So he fits. Easy as pie.
The next grandchild, Willis, aged 2 was a little bit trickier. My mistake was assuming that because because they are listed with the Mays surname that they were children of one of Anna’s sons. For some reason I forgot that the Mays girls had quite a few illegitimate children. My next step was going to the Kentucky Birth Records, 1852-1910. It was spacey record keeping and the records are even spacier, but it was worth a shot.
You may not be able to see it because of the size but that shows Willis Maise born 22 Aug 1878. Parents are Jacson Conn and Anna Z Maise. Maise/Maize is a very common spelling for the Mays family of Kentucky in the old records. If this was just an index I probably wouldn’t even have looked through this as I’m becoming very careful about my sources (My momma would be proud! I should tell her ^.^) This has images to back things up though, so I can confirm details instead of relying on a transcriber who sometimes gets things wrong. I know how tough that job is so you won’t see me complaining!
Wow, okay, that wasn’t so bad either. Though the Conn last name brought me up short because Anna’s little sister Ellen married Hansford Conn in 1878. That doesn’t surprise me though because the Mays clan married like that a lot. Several siblings ended up marrying siblings. If that makes sense.
My next step was trying to find a Jackson Conn in Elliott County in the 1870 and 1880 census. Just to see if there was one close. Another tip I had was that the father’s birthplace was given as Virginia.
There was exactly one Jackson Conn living anywhere in Elliott County in 1870… and he was married. Yikes. Let’s look at 1880.
Still married in 1880, but looks like a different wife. I’m starting to think there’s a scandal here. Of course it’s nothing I can prove and who says the name was written correctly. So we’ll have to see where that takes us, but I at least feel safe in listing Willis as the son of Anna Z Mays. Now I just have to figure out the other two grand children. I’m going to “assume” for now (because I’m not researching them today), that at least the 8 month baby girl’s mother is another of the girls who is living with their mother. We just have to figure out which one. I’ll have to see if that year’s birth pages made it online.
The Mystery of Henry May 4th, 2010
There is always one person in your family file who frustrates you. Sometimes it’s because they show up out of nowhere. Or maybe they disappeared. How these mysteries are ever solved I don’t know. I usually just walk away from it for awhile and try again later with a clear brain. Sometimes it works, most times I have to lather, rinse, and repeat a few times.
One of those people in my family is Mr. Henry C Mays. He showed up in the household of John and Celia Mays in 1900. He’s listed as their son. When my Mom was researching this family, she was always suspicious about him. She thought maybe he was actually Nancy’s son but her parents were raising him. Who knows what the real story is. There isn’t much to verify that available to me right now. Especially since Henry was born in or around 1885. Well before Kentucky started regulating birth records in 1911.
Henry is still there in 1910, still listed as John and Celia’s son. So I’m going to go for broke and assume that he is their son. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a death record for him to verify this. There is a Henry Mays living in Rowan County, Kentucky in 1920 but I can’t be sure that is him and the family is gone again in 1930. 1920 is when John, Celia, and William Harmon moved to Ohio. Nancy married and stayed in Kentucky though. So Henry could have ended up anywhere. Eventually I hope to find him. I’ll keep trying until I find out where he went.
The even crazier part is we asked my Grandmother about William Harmon Mays’ family before she passed away. No one was even aware that William had a sister, let alone another brother somewhere. Who knows what we could have found out if my mother’s father had lived longer, but we may never know what happened to the Mays family. They seemed to have scattered and not spoken of each other.
Identifying and Un-Identifying People March 18th, 2010
As I’m sure you’re all familiar with, it’s a big triumph to find pictures of your ancestors. I’m very rich indeed with priceless photographs. I have hundreds and hundreds… and hundreds of photographs to scan and identify. I’m not complaining, really I’m not. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel. I love finding photos like this:
Photos like this just make me want to dig in and figure out who is who! I see Lewis and Jennie (holding my Grandpa Moore!), William and Llewellyn… Then there are those other pleasant folks. Now who the heck are they! I don’t know. I do recognize that couple. They are in my hundreds upon hundreds of photos. Not all of them of course, but they are in a great deal more than a lot of other people. So they have to be important, right? Then it struck me. Mr. Mystery there has a resemblance to Lewis Thorward. So I start thinking to myself, Lewis had a brother! That’s right! It’s got to be him. Let me check my file and see.
Alright, so maybe it’s not Lewis Thorward‘s brother, Frank, after all. Frank didn’t have a daughter and I’m almost sure that’s why the girl is in the photo. Wait a second… Lewis had a sister who had one daughter! Maybe it’s his sister and her family!
Gosh darn it! Another negative identification. Vivian Plume would be into her 30′s by the time this picture was taken.
Not only did they take the photo once, there are more than one of the same people. To you this means nothing but they wanted to do another one, just in case. To me, this is finding this photo again a few months after I scanned the first one. Which once again has distracted me from my Great Scanning Project. Which has been underway for well over 2 years now, if not more. I can’t just put them in the ‘Scanned’ box and leave it this time. I have to have SOME resolution. Even if I’ll never be 100% sure. Then it struck me that in Llewellyn‘s journal, she mentions her Aunt Agnes an awful lot.
So I check out Agnes Love‘s family. Sure enough, she had a daughter who seems to be about the right age. I can’t be sure because I am never good at judging children ages. She’s close though! Not to mention the boys are old enough to have their own families or maybe stayed behind during a family trip. Agnes and her husband were living in Suffern, New York around the time of these pictures. To me, this is the conclusion that will allow me to go back to scanning. Even if I have taken an hour out of my time, not only to research but to type this blog post too. I’m nothing if not easily distracted folks.
There is good news though. Eventually someone, and I’m not saying who (Great Grandma Llewellyn)..
Someone started labeling the back of the photos. Now for the other 764.75 pictures that aren’t labeled? I should figure those out by the time my Great Grandchildren are moaning the fact that I never take any pictures.