Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Polly Sparks - Sparks Cemetery, Leighton, Estill County, Kentucky

I'd like to share with you, the headstone of Mary Ann "Polly" (Hoover) Ingram Sparks....or at least I believe it's hers.  

During a previous visit, I dusted this stone with some dirt that was nearby and was able to make out the words "Polly Sparks."  The reason I believe this to be my 3g-aunt is that one daughter is buried next to her and another is buried at her feet.  Other surrounding graves are Polly's grandchildren.  The land the cemetery is located on once belonged to her son-in-law.

Obviously, unless a record of burials for this remote cemetery is discovered, this remains a mystery.  Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests it though.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Next Year, I Resolve To....Part 2

...still organize my files.

I'm determined that I am going to do this.  I know I say this all the time, but I'm actually going to do it this year.

One of the fun things about my genealogy hobby is I'm not only working on my adoptive family, but my birth family AND my husband's adoptive family.  He's not made the jump to find his birth family yet.  I don't know if he will.  I keep telling him that my experience with my birth family is not the norm.  We've been in touch since 1992 and have a wonderful relationship.

So, what is my major plan for organization, you ask?  I know that I will be all over the place, working on three families at once, but what I've decided to do is begin at the A's.  As I work on each family, I WILL document each and every fact I find.  I will print off each census, fact, etc I find and organize it - first with the main family the ancestor comes from, as far as I have it documented and then work my way down the line.

As the research is being done, I'm going to keep a running list of questions/brick walls/undocumented dates and places.  Hopefully, this discipline will help me keep on track and not need the genealogy ritalin I seem to need. 

I also WILL get to the Kentucky State Archives in the coming year.  I've made so many plans to go, but have always had to cancel my plans, even if I was only 60 miles away from them.  But, before I do, I have to have my list of questions/brick walls/undocumented dates and places.  If I walk in there unprepared, it will be a case of shiny object syndrome.  My eyes will glaze over, I'll start to shake and will only be able to stammer one or two names!

Lastly, I will seriously look into becoming a certified genealogist.  I have absolutely no idea what all is entailed, but after 20 some-odd years, I think it's about time.

What are your genealogy plans for the New Year?

Friday, December 24, 2010

May I Recommend -

Kathy Reed and her blog - Family Matters

Kathy stopped by and commented on a post of mine.  She suggested I stop by and read about her own crumbling of a brick wall.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and read other posts. 

Head over and tell her Jen sent you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ike was a Good Ole Rebel....

 (Title of this blog is based on the poem by
Major Innes Randolph, C.S.A - later put to music)

.... or, then again, maybe he wasn't.

Despite the stereotypes that people have of the Southern Appalachian mountains, there was actually a strong Union presence in some areas - except Scott County, Virginia.  I have quite a few ancestors who served in the various wars of the United States from the Revolutionary War forward.  In all those old veterans, I only have one Confederate - Isaac Hickam.

If the last name "Hickam" sounds familiar, perhaps you remember the 1999 movie, "October Sky" with Jake Gyllenhall.  It was based on the story of Homer Hickam, a cousin of mine.

Or perhaps you're thinking of Hickam Air Force Base, now part of the Pearl Harbor Complex, located near Honolulu, Hawaii.  The base was named after Lt. Col. Horace Meek Hickam.

My 3g-grandfather, Ike Hickam, was born on the family farm on October 20, 1842 in rural Scott County, Virginia, the son of George Hickam and Frances Dixon.  The family farm was located east of Gate City, just off present day Highway 58.

On June 26, 1861, Ike enrolled in Scott County to serve the newly formed Confederacy.  He was one of the 67 men that made up the Clinch Mountain Boomers.  Captain William James Smith was in command.  They traveled to Abingdon, Virginia, arriving on July 13.   The Clinch Mountain Boomers became known as Company H of the 48th Virginia Infantry.

Since he is my only Confederate, his papers are my only experience dealing with what's available for researchers of Confederate veterans.  I'm unsure if the few papers I have is the exception or the norm.

Something of interest, Ike is shown to have been in hospital in Winchester, Virginia, from June 27, 1863 until June 30, 1863.  The note on the hospital roll is that "Hickam is improving".  I don't know what happened or where he was wounded.  What is also of interest is the place his unit was headed at the time of his dismissal from the hospital.  Company H/48th Virginia Infantry found themselves assaulting Culp's Hill at Gettysburg.  Did Ike make it in time to join his company in the assault?  Unfortunately, I've not found anything to prove or disprove it.  I have to say, when my daughter and I visited Gettysburg in October, we spent some time at the crest of the hill.  It was easy to see the ghosts of both the offense and defense in that place.  It was quiet the day we visited with a bit of a chill in the air - completely opposite to the hell that was found on those holy acres.

The one thing his papers do show is Ike decided that he didn't much care for war on March 12, 1864 and left.  He wasn't on the rolls from then until December 31, 1864 when he was dropped from the rolls. 

According to family stories, Ike had become a Union sympathizer.  After leaving his post, he settled briefly in Powell Valley, Tennessee before making his way to Garrard County, Kentucky.  His mother had died in 1847 when Ike was only 5.  His father remarried and there was quite a bit of discord between Ike and his step-mother as Ike grew.  Again, according to family stories, there are hints at violence within the family and that's the true cause of his moving away.

Ike met and married Nancy Pointer in Garrard County in 1869.  Their growing family is found on the Garrard County censuses for 1870 and 1880.  They moved just across the county border into Madison County where they and four of their unmarried children lived out the rest of their days.  Interestingly, they lived in the steep hills of western Madison County; however, when they died, they were buried in the large cemetery in Richmond, rather than one of the smaller one near their home.

Isaac Hickam
Nancy Jean (Pointer) Hickam

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back in My Day, We Walked Uphill in the Snow...


This is one of my favorite photos of my daddy and his sisters.  Grandma didn't put a date on this, but from the age of Daddy, it looks to have been taken about 1926.  In case you couldn't tell, the little guy in front is my daddy - William Kenneth Elam, born in Lerna, IL in 1921.  His sister, Doris, is on the left and his sister, Dorothea, is on the right.  This was taken in Vienna, IL.

Next Year, I Resolve to....

... organize my files.

Alright, now that you've stopped laughing, continue reading.

For anyone who's worked on genealogy even the least amount of time knows what a funny statement this is.  You know, in genealogy, there is so much to do.  It's much more than find names and dates.  As we do this maddening hobby of ours, we become hand-writing experts, paralegals, map specialists, minor (or major) historians, land/title experts just to name a few.

I look at the various stacks of research papers and record books I have in my genealogy office.  Then I look up at the gallery of my ancestors' photos I have on my wall behind my monitor.  They gaze down at me disapprovingly, as if to say, "We're not going to share what we know until you clean this mess up!"

I've recently come into possession of well over 200 photos from my adoptive father's side of the family.  I need to scan those, but whenever I get ready to do this, I think, "Well, I'd want to upload those to the website...but I don't have this person entered on the website yet."  So, I'll go to enter them, then I end up going over census reports on the internet...then I see an ad to click here....and I end up playing something on Pogo.com.  Is there such a thing as genealogy ritalin?

Do I start with the families that I don't have much information on?  Do I start with the three-inch file I have on my Hoover family?  Do I just just build a bonfire and chuck everything into it?  No, don't worry, that was just a bad joke.

And while we're talking about ancestors withholding information - I'm so ready for a break in some of my brick walls.  There are so many that just seem to have sprung up from the mountains in Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.  I feel as if I'm whittling away at the bricks with a plastic spoon.

Anyway, enough of my blathering - I have files to organize!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog Carol - Christmas Time's A-Comin'

Footnotemaven challenged the Geneabloggers to join in on a chorus or two of blogging carols.  In the spirit of the season, I thought I'd share one of my favorite Christmas songs with you.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

Snow flake's a-fallin'
My old heart's a-callin'
Tall pine's a-hummin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

White candle's burnin'
My old heart's a-yearnin'
For the folks at home when
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

Holly's in the window
Home where the wind blows
The cane foam's a-runnin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear Genealogy Santa....

It's me, Jen.  How are you?  I am fine.  I had surgery about a month ago, so I haven't been able to update my blog.  I hope that everyone at the North Pole is doing ok.  I bet it's really busy up there.

I've been pretty good this year.  I've done alot of photography cataloging of cemeteries and working with Find-A-Grave.  I even was tapped as a special teacher at a middle school for one day.  I taught about how you can find history in non-traditional ways.  Those kids were great!  They're going to send me their projects once done.  By the way, if you get their letters, I recommend they all get what they want.  Not a lump of coal in the bunch!

Anyway, here's my list:
  • A genealogy peon - I really need one of these!  I've got so much data entry to do.  I'm trying to source all my information.  I know we're supposed to do that when we're doing data entry, but...well...you know I'm really bad about that.  I've also got alot of pictures with my adoptive family.  I need to scan them and identify them.  I don't know who most of these are!
  • A genealogy program that is perfect - There are so many out there.  You'd think that there'd be one that is a combo of all the best points and none of the bad.  Could you get Research and Development on this?  I'd be glad to beta test it before you put it into distribution.  Shoot me an email and we'll talk.
  • A battering ram - I've got so many brick walls right now.  I sit and look at them and know that the answers are out there somewhere.  I just need a few chinks in the bricks.  If possible, I would like it to be purple with blingly decorations.  Hey!  A girl's gotta be stylish!
  • Last, but certainly not least, bring all my brick wall ancestors to me for one night of conversation.  I know that's a pretty stiff request, but you're Genealogy Santa!  There are so many things I have to ask them.  I know this conflicts with the battering ram, but I'd really like both.  I'd also like the chance to ask about daily life, military life, feuds, etc. 
I'll make sure that I'll have milk and cookies out for you.  They'll be next to the tree in the den.  I figure that will be easier since that tree is closer to my computers and scanner. 

Love and have a safe trip,


PS - I'll have reindeer chow out as well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rootstelevision.com - There's Always Something On

In the Geneablogger's group I belong to on Facebook, there's a different challenge every week.  This week's challenge was to go Rootstelevision.com and browse through the videos there.  I've never been to this site before, but what a treasure!  There are so many videos on such a variety of subjects.

I've written on the subject of serendipity before.  There have been so many times that either by coincidence or fate I've found clues or actual evidence about my family.  In fact, it happened so often that I even found a book about it - "Psychic Roots - Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy" by Henry Z Jones.

As I visited Rootstelevision.com, one of the videos was an older English lady talking about her own odd experience.  I thought I'd look for more so I typed in "psychic roots".  What did I find, but a five part interview with Hank Jones!  As I listened to the third part of the interview, I heard him talking about something that happened to me!  As many times as I've heard others tell their stories, it still gives me a smile to know that the Old Ones reach out to everyone.  They may not do it constantly, but when they do want to be found, they'll give us hints.

If there's a subject dealing with genealogy, Rootwebtelevision.com has it!  Check it out today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Searching the DAR

This week's challenge was to visit the Daughters of the American Revolution's site.  Explore, search, look for the Patriot that's in your own line.

I've got several Revolutionary War veterans in my line.  Nicholas Houk, Major Jonathan Tipton, John McQueen, George Proctor and others, but how did I miss this site?

First, with the regards to the past actions of the DAR, no, I don't agree with positions they've taken.  However, if we are going to be honest, how many groups, organizations, etc. have spotless reputations?  What was acceptable even fifty years ago is abhorrent today.  I'm not making any excuses or anyone, but am being realistic.

As for this challenge, I was excited to give it a try.

Let's look at Nicholas Houk.  From the research I've done, Nicholas was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The family had migrated down through Virginia and settled in North Carolina for a while before moving again to Kentucky.  Nicholas and some of his family rest in the Hiatt Cemetery that's located in the Renfro Valley area of Rockcastle County, Kentucky.  According to his headstone, he served as a private on the North Carolina line.

I went to the online search section of the DAR site - http://www.dar.org/library/online_research.cfm - and put Nicholas' name in.  I found that he is listed with the surname of Houck, not Houk.  The only birth date information I'd seen was 1740 on his headstone.  The information on the website showed Nov 1738.  That's something interesting that I'll need to check into.  I also found an exact death date - 6 Aug 1840.  I don't recall seeing that before either.

The next thing I found was his pension number - SR5257.  I also saw where Nicholas was pensioned, but his wife's request had been denied as she wasn't able to prove the marriage.

As you see on the marker, the only information on his service was "NC Line".  I didn't know where he enlisted, but found Burke County, NC listed.  I knew they'd lived in that area of North Carolina, but never knew time lines.  I also was able to find the name of one of his commanding officers.

The last thing I found were 10 applications to the DAR under Nicholas' lineage.  Each one had an abbreviated lineage for each applicant, with the applicant's name withheld. I'm definitely going back to throughly investigate each one.  Perhaps I can find some holes in the brick walls in this family.

Trying various spellings, I then looked for John McQueen and George Proctor.  I didn't find any applications under their names.  I was slightly surprised there wasn't one for John as it seems most of East Kentucky is descended through him!  As for George Proctor, the link between him and the Rockcastle County Kentucky Proctors is tentative still.  We know it's there, but we just can't quite prove it yet.

As for my final test, Major Jonathan yielded the most applicants.  Unfortunately, only two of them were through my line.  Again, his birth and death dates are listed.  All three wives are there.  His commanding officers are as well.  I found that he'd enlisted in Washington County, North Carolina.  Now, that's something new.  What in the world was he doing all the way in that part of the state when all knowledge of him at that time was along the Appalachians, especially in the northeast tip of present-day Tennessee!  As with all other things genealogical, it seems that answers always give you more questions.

I will be spending more time at this site.  I suggest that if you have a Revolutionary War Veteran in your line, you do as well.  You never know what...or who you are going to find!

Monday, July 12, 2010


As genealogists in the “Internet Age”, we have many different tools we can use from the comfort of our home.

Patents and Trademarks are an interesting area of research that can bring surprises about your ancestors.

In the GeneaBlog group, there are many different topics thrown out there to give genealogists/bloggers ideas.  This week, in the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy series, the challenge was given to visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site (http://www.uspto.gov/) or Google Patent Search (http://www.google.com/patents?hl=en).  The exercise during this series isn’t so much to do research, but to become aware of what’s out there.

Well, I found what was out there.  Patent 1214144 exactly.  My grandfather, William Birdle Elam, filed an application on May 1, 1916.  The official patent was granted on Jan. 30, 1917 for “new and useful Improvements in Steering Devices for Automobiles.”  Exactly what this was flew in one ear and other the other, but I thought this was interesting.

How many times have we seen something and thought, “I could have figure out how to do that”?  Take a look at these sites – maybe your ancestor did already.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Follow Friday - The Family Tree Writer

I've been doing genealogy "officially" since 1990.  Nothing should surprise me, right?  Pffft!

One day, a few months ago, I was wandering around on the internet.  That's no surprise.  I followed a link, then followed one from that one, and so on and so on.  Somehow I found myself at The Family Tree Writer's blog.  I think it may have been one of the daily themed blog events hosted by GeneaBloggers.  Anywho, I read this post and thought I'd help her out with a little information on this beautiful child's death.

She and I have chatted off and on since.  Well, imagine my surprise when I finally took the time to look through her tag cloud and found "Breniman".  Mind you, "Brenneman" was my 4th g-grandmother's maiden name.  I shot her an email and lo and behold....we're cousins!

Sherry's a great person and I can't wait to compare notes with her.  She's a founding member of Sumner County (Kansas) Historical and Genealogical Society and they are hosting Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies on June 19th, 2010. 

Stop by her blog and get to know her!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do They Really Help Us?

Have you felt "guided"  to a place while doing genealogy research?  I've had this happen several times.

Yeah, I'm sounding all (insert mystical music here) weird, but it's happened several times.  Do the people we research help us in some way?  Sometimes its just a pull to a certain area.  Sometimes, it's the hair on the back of my neck standing up.  It's unexplainable, but....well, it's true.  A friend of mine once said that she'd never knew anyone who could find a cemetery like me.

Telephone Insulator
There was a time we were driving with her mom.  I was in the backseat and yelled "Stop" as we were going up a hill in Clark County, Kentucky.  When I got out of the car, there it was - several, several unmarked graves.  We returned the next day to investigate it more.  There were only two marked graves.  As we wandered around, I found an old telephone insulator on the ground.  As I went to pick it up, I saw that it was resting on a grave.  The grave of William Aldridge.  I stood and looked.  And wondered.  My 2g-grandfather had a brother named William B. Aldridge.  I've been searching for more information on this generation of Aldridges in Clark County.  They don't seem to be connected to the rest of the Aldridges in that county.  Is this the William B. Aldridge I've been looking for?  Why was the insulator found right on his grave?  I'd walked past it a couple of times.  Then, the insulation caught my attention.   Was it  serendipity?  Was it just a coincidence?  What caused this insulator to be on this particular grave?  In the cemetery that only had 2 marked graves....  I have no idea, but it happened.

If you Google "Serendipity Genealogy", there are hundreds of stories like mine.

Did William help me find him?  I believe so.  Is he *my* William?  I can't help but believe it is.  Obviously, more research needs to be done, but, regardless, this is yet another episode in the wonderful, frustrating hobby we all have.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Love Where One Doesn't Expect to Find It

As I've written in the past, Daniel and Dianah McQueen Hoover were my 4th g-grandparents.  They were married in Gallatin County, Kentucky in 1826.  After thirteen years in Indiana, they moved their family to Estill County, Kentucky.  They lived in a remote area of the county in a hollow on Barnes Mountain.  The family cemetery is located just up the hill from that hollow.  The family that now lives on the land not only cares for that cemetery, but also has rebuilt a cabin on its original site using logs that Daniel had cut over 170 years ago.  This cabin is perhaps 30 feet from the spring that Dianah drew water from.

They made their life here.  Daniel became involved in the logging industry that was taking hold in the county in addition to farming.  Their family grew, married and lived close to them.

Then came the Civil War.  Many in the county enlisted at Estill Springs in the 8th Kentucky Infantry.  In spite of his age, Daniel was one of them.  His headstone gives his year of birth as 1806, but on censuses, we see his year of birth being anywhere from 1800 - 1806.  The cousins that I am in contact with don't know where this date comes from, but we'll go with 1806 as it's not uncommon for ages to be listed wrong on censuses.  I've got one ancestor who aged fifteen years between one ten year census, and then only aged six year on the next one.

Unfortunately for Daniel, most of his Civil War experience was spent in hospitals.  On the regiment's first march from Lebanon, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky, he developed a "fever".  While the rest of his group moved south toward Nashville, Daniel was possibly diagnosed with measles.  He later joined his unit, but ended up in hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.  He spent several months there before he was discharged.  His body had been broken from rheumatoid arthritis, heart problems and a hernia.  He was not able to work again.

While he was in hospital, he and Dianah exchanged letters.  Thanks to the Estill County Historical & Genealogical Society, I have a copy of two of them:

Nashville Dec 13th 1862

Dear Dianah

I take my pen in hand to write to you.  I am well all but rumatic pains.  I received a letter from Uriah yesterday and is the first that I have got since last august and think very hard because you dont write ofterner than you do.  I want you to take care of evry thing the best you can for I will not be able to work any more and think that I will get home by new year and if Uriah want to stay on the place the same way he was let him stay and when I come home I will attend to the rest of the business.  I sent you a letter the other day in the care of Mr Wakefield and I answered Uriah yesterday.  I want you to get my pistol from Uriah and keep it closely consealed until I get home.  our rement had a fight with the rebels the other day   we lost three men killed  8 wounded and five taken prisner  the rebel lost we dont know the pay rollers   out men I was acquainted but one man that was killed and that was pleas smith  none of our home boy got hurt.  as soon as the captains books come from Louisville  I think I will get my discharge.

Dicy for gods sake keep John from volenteering and tell him I am away to try and stay at home and take care of you  I would of come home to of seen all of you but could not come without deserting.  so good by for the present and write soon.

Daniel Hoover

And her reply:

Estill Co. Ky. Dec the 29th 1862

My dear husband

I make use of the present opportunity of wrighting you a few lines in answer to yor kind letters.  I received two letters from you the last one dated the 7th of Dec   it gives me great satisfaction to hear from you & to hear that you was as well (as) you are and that there was a prospect of my seeing you again soon.   I glory in the sentiment of your not wanting to come home without you can do it honorably but I do know that there is nothing on this Earth that would give me more satisfaction than to see you at home with an honorable discharge and our country in peace once more

We are all well at this time but Littleton Horn   he has been verry sick for several days   I am as well as comon myself   you said you wanted to know how I was off for meat   I have plenty to do me   I killed 2 hogs  verry good ones the 24th of this month and it is a plenty to do me    I have all the cattle that you left here and they are in verry good fix

I will now tell you about Bill Ingraham   him and two of the stamper boys joined the Sesesh army and was gone some time and their Capt give a false alarm one day & Bill fainted dead enough & they had like not to have brought him too   his capt sent him home   the two stamper boys got sick and they come back

I was down at Shoog Jo Scrivners to day and he gave me fifty dollars that you sent by Capt Wilson to me   I will take good care of it till you come    I have got the $30.00 you sent me by Houard just as you sent it

John Hoover is marryed   Enoch Wakefield marryed them

I will close for this time   you must wright to me as often as you can  I have wrote 3 or 4 letter to you that you have not said any thing about    you must not conclude I have forgotten you because you dont get my letters    I never expect to forget you while this old boddy of mine has life enough to know any thing

nothing more but remain your loving wife

Dianah Hoover

To Daniel Hoover

The title of this entry is "Love Where One Doesn't Expect to Find It".  If you read those two letters,  you will understand why.  Here is a couple that had been married thirty-six years at this time.  They had six children that lived to adulthood.  They were well into being grandparents as most children had at least three children by this time.  They lived in the backwoods of Kentucky.  But if you read between the lines, you see a husband who is concerned because he hasn't heard from his wife.  And you see a wife reassuring him.  And you see those last lines of her letter: "I never expect to forget you while this old boddy of mine has life enough to know any thing  nothing more but remain your loving wife"

And you see why they hold a special place in my heart.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Serendipity, Genealogy and Question Marks above My Head

ser·en·dip·i·ty - noun - 1.  an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident

How many of us have made a discovery that we shouldn't have been able to make?  A discovery that seems we were guided to?

I seem to have a gift for it.  I'm not sure why.  I was not raised by my birth parents.  I didn't know my way around that area of Kentucky when I first started going there.  But somehow, time after time, I found things - cemeteries, graves, pieces of information - that I should not have been able to find.

Mind you, this was before the days of Google and GoogleMaps.  The best I had were some modern maps and a rough (make that jagged) idea where this branch of the family lived.  "Up on Barnes Mountain, but don't go there alone.  It's rough up there.  Never go alone."

I went up for a research trip.  On this particular day, all of my birth family was busy with other things so I decided to go to Estill County to do some research.  When I got there, the courthouse was closed!  The library was closed!!  They always were open Saturday mornings!  What was going on and why was there carnival music playing and clowns in Irvine??  It was their annual Mountain Mushroom Festival, a yearly celebration of the morel mushroom and Estill County's Appalachian culture.  I could hear fiddle music and then realized there were booths set up and rides going.

I sat in the library parking lot both cursing my luck and celebrating it.  I love small town celebrations, but I wanted to research.  As I sat there, trying to avoid looking at the clowns, I looked to the south.  To the mountains on the other side of the Kentucky River.  To Barnes Mountain and home.  "Don't go there alone.  Never go alone."  The words rang in my head, but the quickest way to get me to do something has always been to tell me not to.  I looked at the mountains, drank from my Diet Sundrop, smoked another cigarette and continued to avoid direct eye contact with the clown that was getting dangerously close to my car.  That was it.  I knew what I was going to do.

I was looking for Daniel Hoover.  For some reason, he was not listed in the cemetery book that had been published for the county in the 80's.  He died in 1901 and he wasn't listed in the cemetery that bore his last name.  And I was determined to find him.   His wife was listed so he had to be there.  But...where was it?  All I knew was that it was near the New Bethel Church on Barnes Mountain.

As the clown got closer to my car, I started it up and sped away, waving in triumph.  I'm sure whoever was under that makeup and wig was a very nice person and wouldn't think of murdering me in my sleep, but I wasn't taking chances.

I crossed the river and made my way towards the mountains.It was a beautiful spring day, that last Saturday in April.  As I drove the narrow roads that took me along the river and up the mountain, the people who were in their yards looked at me curiously.  A few waved and I waved back.  Once I crested the mountain, the views were beautiful as you can see here.  This picture was taken all those years ago.  Lost as a goose, I drove so slow that I had to wave people around me.  I was soaking up this experience.  This was where this branch of the family had lived since 1840.  This was the area they carved a life out of the mountain.

I saw an old, rusted sign on the left.  Slowing down even more to read it, it said "New Bethel Church."  I turned on this road and then went up to the old church.  I could see a small cemetery behind the church, but this wasn't it.   I was to find out later that most that are buried there are family.  I wanted to get out and walk around, but I was on a mission.  I had to find Daniel!

When I drove down the hill from the church, I sat at the small road.  Left or right.  Which way do I go?  Left would put me back on the main road.  Right.  I had no idea where it would take me.  "Don't go there alone.  Never go alone."  Right!  I will go right!  I drove past another church, then a small, but neat farm.  There were about twenty people in the yard.  They all waved.  I smiled and waved as well.  Then....there it was.  A small street sign next to a pull off.

I parked the car and grabbed my camera!  This was it!  Knowing that family cemeteries were generally near a homeplace on a hill...and this cemetery was on a small ridge with the land on either side sloping down...This....was....it!  I walked to the center, glancing to the left and right.  McQueen, Arvin, Chamberlain, Fox.  I knew these names as well as I knew my own.

Daniel Hoover
Then, there he was.  Not only did he have one headstone, he had two!  One at his head, one at his feet.  Both of them were military.  One was his original stone that was placed in 1905.  The other was a newer stone that had not been battered yet by time.

And there was Dianah.  She slept next to him with a hand carved stone.  I sat there between my 4th g-grandparents.  On that land that once was theirs. Their son, John, my 3g-grandfather was within sight.  More names were read - Tudor, Gray, Plowman.  Suddenly, all those people that were just names and dates were real.

Were Daniel and Dianah helping their lost grandchild come back to them?  I don't know.  I don't know how I drove straight to that cemetery when I'd never been there before.  I don't know how I walked straight to his grave when he wasn't listed in the cemetery book.

Was it my imagination or was there suddenly a cold area surrounding me when it was easily 80 degrees.  I don't know.  All I know is I was back where I belonged.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some Thoughts on Ancestry.com's New Marketing Ploy

You know the ones I'm talking about.  "I put my grandfather's name in and a leaf popped up."

What concerns me about this is the "about the same" syndrome.  How many times have we been researching John Jones and we find three.  They are all born about the same time in nearly the same area....or not even the same area.  They all married someone named Mary.  Since they nearly share a birthday, all live in Virginia and all are married to Mary, they HAVE to be the same person.  So that person imports and merges all the information into their tree.  We all know that once something hits the 'net, it never goes away.  That one assumption, that one innocent mistake has now the possibility to propagate over and over until it is believed as fact.  You contact the people with the incorrect information and they refuse to correct it, even if you have proof to support you.  People beginning to research their family have to remember to question everything and don't accept anything on face value.

On the other hand, Ancestry.com is great for finding records and making connections.  I found emigration records of my adoptive 3g-grandparents when they came from Germany to the US in 1888.  The search ability is a dream compared to the old days of sitting in front of a cranky (ha!  get it?) microfilm machine and squinting.  I found several cousins easily and was able to share information almost immediately.

So, is Ancestry.com a blessing or the Devil?  I suppose it depends on if it's your ancestors that someone has attached incorrect information to.

Tombstone Tuesday - Daniel Hoover

Daniel Hoover
Daniel Hoover was a determined man.  At the approximate age of 55, he took up the gun and enlisted in the Civil War.  On  September 23, 1861, he enlisted with the 8th Kentucky Infantry USA.  During the march from Lebanon, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky, he developed a "fever".  In his war record, the diagnosis given as possibly measles.  He stayed in Louisville for a few weeks before he traveled to his unit.  Shortly after this, he was sent to hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.  The rest of his unit proceeded south - Stones River, Shellmound, Chattanooga.

Daniel was finally sent home in 1863, but he was never the same.  Testimonies in his pension file tell of a man that was once "stout and strong".  They tell of a man who could work hard all day.  And they tell of a man who, at the time, became occasionally bed bound and unable to work at all.  With rheumatoid arthritis and heart diseases, Daniel died in horrible pain in 1901.  He was 96.

Daniel was my 4th g-grandfather.  He is buried in the middle of the Hoover Cemetery atop Barnes Mountain in Estill County, Kentucky.  This cemetery is a special place.  It is so quiet that you can hear the wind blow.  The silence is occasionally broken by the cows lowing just across the fence or dogs barking on the next ridge.  In this place, I am surrounded by five generations of my family.  And in this place of memories, I am home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Goes Around...

...comes back around.

It's been some times since I've written anything here.  I promise you that it's not been for lack of wanting to.  I somehow couldn't find the time.  I've been working so hard on the database portion of the site that I neglected this part of it.  Well, that's going to change.

So, Jen...what have you been up to?  I'm glad you asked!  Unfortunately, it hasn't been work.  That's slowed down quite a bit, but that's the transitory way of the telecom business.  Hopefully, it will pick back up soon.  Things are trickling through, but I'm ready (and my wallet's ready) for the faucet to turn on.  On the other hand, that's given me time to work on this site and another one that I'm working on.

My daughter and I recently went away for the weekend to our beloved mountains.  There was quite a bit of snow.  It was gorgeous.  We had beautiful weather and a great time.  After the past year, it was a minor respite, but it was much needed.

That said, I'm recharged and ready to get out to do legwork (canework?) on research.  I'm hoping to be about to take a few days and do some cemetery photography and get to the Archives in Frankfort.

That said, take a look around the site!