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!  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'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, 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 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.