Sunday, April 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Sports

This week, the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History prompt is "Week 15. Sports. Did you have a favorite sports team as a child? If so, which one and why. Did your parents follow the same teams? Do you still support the same teams?"

Growing up in Western Kentucky, there was only one professional sports team - The St. Louis Cardinals.  I was raised on that team.  In the days of three channel television and no sports networks, our house came to a stand-still when the Cardinals came on television.  Daddy even scheduled his beloved golf around those weekly games.

My aunt lived in St. Louis and her house was the half-way point to my grandparent's farm in Iowa.  We would stay at least the night and sometimes two as we traveled.  In order to get a bratty five year old out of their hair, Daddy would take me various places.  Sometimes, it would be the St. Louis Zoo, where I remember seeing Marlon Perkins during one visit.  Sometimes, it would be to Grant's Farm where Daddy looked the other way when I sneaked a sip of beer.  During one visit when I was much, much older (eight or nine, at least), my father took me to an entirely inappropriate tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Well, inappropriate for a nine year old in my mother's eyes.  I had a good time though!

However, my fondest memories are in Busch Memorial Stadium, the old Busch Stadium (and the only *real* stadium if you ask me).  Daddy and I'd go downtown and make our way to the stadium.  A Coke, hot dog and a bag of peanuts were in order.  Daddy was fond of telling the story of how, when I finished my peanuts, I told him I was ready to go.  I seem to remember them warming up and when they went to the dugout, I thought the game was over.  Either way, it made for a good story.

I don't remember the outcome of any of those games.  When my parents moved to Nashville, Daddy ended his forty year affair with the Cardinals and began rooting for the Atlanta Braves.  Well, he may not have ended it entirely.  I have it on good authority that Daddy still watched the Cards on the side.

I'll admit that I don't go out of my way to watch the Cardinals play anymore, but when I see them on television, I remember my daddy and warm summer afternoons.

Civil War Blog Challenge - Accepted!

Bill West of the blog "West in New England" has challenged all genealogy bloggers to post about their Civil War ancestors for the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the following four years of war.

Bill, I accept your challenge.  

My direct ancestors who fought during this time were:
  • Daniel Hoover - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • John Hoover - Union - 47th Kentucky Infantry (Daniel's son)
  • Henry Plowman - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • Richard Aldridge - Union - 8th Kentucky Infantry
  • Isaac Hickam - Confederate - 48th Virginia Infantry
Relatives who also fought?  Look at the rolls of the 8th Kentucky and the 47th Kentucky.

Over the next four years, I will be blogging about these men, their units and the battles they took part in.  I will walk where they walked, I will stand where they stood.  

And I will share it with you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Samuel Fox - An Analysis of a Life in Story and Fact

A bright, sunny March afternoon in the foothills of the Appalachians.

Six people, all related, wander the ridges of a familiar mountain in search of the grave of one man.

Two cousins, one documenting facts, one keeping the family stories.

While I'm not directly related to Samuel Fox, he and his descendants weave in and out of my family like narrow back-roads weave along the sides of Barnes Mountain.

I've seen Samuel Fox's name off and on for nearly 15 years as his family was one of the first I added to Estill County's KYGenWeb page when we started the project. Samuel looked into my eyes from 150 years in the past and I was hooked on this family.

What I offer you here is a bit of both - documented facts and family stories.  

In the Fox family, there is a story regarding the ancestor of this Samuel Fox, who was also named Samuel.  When I asked my cousin, Jakie, about this, she sent me the following as it had been passed down:  

"I'll tell you girls a story that my father told me as his father told it to him. Your grandpaSamuelwas born in England across the big sea. Samuel's family was very wealthy and, as a young lad, he used to go down to the docks to watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor. He was kidnapped by slave traders.  They knew his family was wealthybut they did not ask for ransom.  The ship pulled out of the harbor and headed for the United States. Samuel's captors rubbed  grease on him and made him lay in the sun day after day so he would not be easily noticed among the darker skinned slaves. He was treated badly and beaten after trying to escape.  The ship sailed on to the United States......This is your heritage."

Jakie gave me the lineage on these early Fox generations as follows:

Samuel Fox was born in England about 1775.  He married Catherine "Katy" Sizemore in North Carolina.  They were the parents of William, George, Mearinda, Johnny and Martha.

William married Catherine Briggs, likely in Tennessee.  They were the parents of Malinda, Samuel (our subject here), John, Elmyra and William R.

Our Samuel was born 14 June 1821 in Grainger County, Tennessee.  The family migrated to Estill County, settling into the hills and hollows of present-day southeastern Estill County.  He died 11 April 1865 in Estill County, Kentucky.  He married Rutha Barnes and they had four children that survived childhood:  William, George Washington, Diana/Dinah and Marshall Boone.

Samuel was 42 years old when he enlisted as private in Co. E47th regiment of Kentucky Infantry Volunteers on 17 August 1863.  Samuel was a farmer by trade.  He stood only 5' 6" tall and had a fair complexion with light hair.  

Getting word from family was difficult during the war, especially when few in this area could read or write more than their name.  Another family story was passed down:

"Rutha had not heard from Samuel for a long time and was worried, afraid something had happened to him. There was a woman that lived not far from Rutha who could tell fortunes.  Rutha, sick with worrywent to see her, wanting to know if Samuel was still alive. She was told he was still alive and would be coming home soonbut would not live long after he got home. 'Samuel will be brought home by a man riding a white horse and when your husband dies you will marry that man on the white horse.'  Rutha ran home crying and upsetsaying she would never marry again.  Several weeks later Samuel was brought home by a man on a white horse.  He was wounded and sick and had to be helped down from his horse.  Samuel didn't live long after he returned home. He died April 11, 1865.  The man on the white horse was Evan Hunt and he and Rutha married September 19, 1873."

And now the facts/documentation:

Samuel and Rutha (Barnes) Fox were married 02 November 1848 by William Park.  This is recorded in Estill County Marriage Book A, Page 170.

They appear on the 1850 Estill County Census, Series M432, Roll 198, Page 59A.  They are recorded in Dwelling 178, Family 178.

On the census, we find Samuel, age 29, born in Tennessee and working as a laborer.  Rutha is there, age 18 and born in Kentucky.  Their eldest son, William, is listed as 6/12 (6 months) and born in Kentucky. This family was visited on 22 August 1850.  If the birth date given for William is true, he was born about February 1850.

The growing family also appear on the 1860 Estill County Census, Series M635, Roll 365, Page 116.  They are recorded as Dwelling 770, Family 770 and were visited on 27 July 1860.

Samuel is listed as 39 years old and born in Tennessee.  He's again listed as a laborer with the value of his real estate owned as 50 and his personal estate as 30.  Rutha is there as well, listed as 28 years old and born in Kentucky.  The family has grown now to included the four children listed above:
  1. William, age 10, born in Kentucky and attending school
  2. George W., age 6, born in Kentucky and attending school
  3. Dianah, age 3, born in Kentucky
  4. Marshall, age 2/12, born in Kentucky
Diana's birth was recorded as May 1856 on the rolls.  This can be found on the Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records 1852 - 1910 microfilm.  These can be found at the Kentucky State Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky - Rolls 994027 - 994058 for the entire state.  While her brother, George, was born in 1854, I wasn't able to find him on the rolls.

With regards to Samuel's military records, I found where he had signed up for the draft, at age 42, on 1 July 1863 in Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky.  This was found on in the Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War); Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865.  Interestingly, there is another  Samuel Fox listed on the same page as signing up for the draft in neighboring Madison County.  

According to Samuel's muster rolls, he enlisted in Co. E, 47th Kentucky Infantry on 17 Aug 1863.  He was mustered into service on 5 October 1863 in Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky, joining for the period of 1 year.  His attendance, per these rolls, is as follows:

  1. Enlistment / October 31, 1863 - Present
  2. November / December 1863 - Present
  3. January / February 1864 - Present
  4. March / April 1864 - Absent from March 18"/64, Recovering from sickness in Estill County, Kentucky
  5. May / June 1864 - Present
  6. July / August 1864 - Present
  7. September / October 1864 - Not available
  8. November / December 1864 - Not available
  9. Muster-out roll - 
Samuel appears on the Muster Out roll dated 26 December 1864.  He mustered out in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky.  According to the documentation, he was last paid up to 31 August 1864. 

After this, according to the family story, he was brought home by the man on the white horse.

Now, this brings us forward to that warm March day.  We found the cemetery and walked from the truck.  There were only five marked graves.  This is what we found.

Samuel Fox's headstone / John Reece Cemetery / Leighton, Estill County, Kentucky.

Rest in peace, Samuel.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Genealogy Adventures - continued

We'd already been to two cemeteries, up and down a ridge and down a holler.  Where would our genealogy adventures take us?  We were headed to a cemetery further into the mountains.

To set the scene for you, Jakie's husband was driving the truck with the cousin we'd "kidnapped."  In the back of the club cab, was Jakie, my birth mom and myself.  As we approached the main road, our cousin's wife (who's a cousin as well, but we won't talk about that) was coming home.  We told her where we were headed and she agreed to meet us there after she put groceries away.

As we discussed where this cemetery was located, I kept thinking, "I know where this is."  We reached the end of the road and made our way to the gravel, one lane road that led to our destination.  As we headed down yet another ridge, I said out loud, "I've been here.  I know where we're going."  Jakie looked at me in amazement.  "You have?"  "Yes.  This is the Sparks Cemetery.  Just further down the road is where I took the picture of the old Reece house. And just beyond that is the cave with the spring in it."

We made our way over the creek and up the hill to where the old barn was.  Our cousin told of working the level spots on the ridge just to our right when he was a boy using a horse and plow.  We stopped the truck and, indeed, this time "Just over there" proved to be...just over there.  Our cousin's wife arrived and off we went.

 We made our way to what appeared to be a small cemetery in a grove of trees.  There were only five markers, but what markers they were.  We were standing in the John Reece Cemetery!  I knew about this cemetery, but had never been to it.  Yes folks, there are a few cemeteries on Barnes Mountain that I've not been to.  We found Jakie's ancestor, Samuel Fox, who served with the 47th Kentucky Infantry during the Civil War.  We found David Reece, another Civil War veteran, along with his son, John Reece.  Making our way through vinca minor covered ground, we were careful not to step on (or in) any of the sunken graves.  We found a Sarah Plowman and in the back, we found the fifth marked grave.  It was dated 1858!  As the six of us stood in various areas, the calls of "Here's another one." rang back and forth.  As we counted and estimated, the numbers grew.  There were at least ten rows of between ten and fifteen graves across.  The length of the graves ranged in size of a baby to an adult.  It was a sobering time, there among the vines and flowers.  To realize that there were relatives and friends that were only known to each other around us made each of us walk with a softer step and reflect on these people who were neighbors, families and friends.

Jakie's husband was asking about the location of the former oil fields that were on the top of the mountain.  A friend of mine and I'd found them years before and I told him that I could direct him there.  Once again, we piled into the truck, minus our cousins/guides.  We drove to the oil field ruins and, as I write this, I'm reminded that I need to take pictures of them the next time I go up there.  You can see foundations as well as old pumps.  As we made our way back to Irvine, we discussed the Granny Richardson School that had been located there, before it was moved to the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

As we came off the mountain, Virgil realized that he had three hungry women in the truck that he needed to feed quickly!  We spent the the last hours of our day at a local restaurant with the best "home-cooked" food that could be found.

Too quickly did their truck return us to the motel I was staying in.  Where had the day gone?  Like so many things, the fun times, the times one anticipates, the day had passed too quickly.

I'm already planning my next trip.

Over the River and Through the Woods....

As an adoptee who has met her birth family, I believe that fuels my sense of home and family in Eastern Kentucky.  Before you fuss at me, let me stress that my adoptive family was wonderful.  I had parents that loved me and an older sister who gave me wonderful advice, whether I wanted it or not; however, finding my birth family and learning about them has given me a sense of belonging that I never knew was missing until 1992 when I met the woman that gave birth to me.

I'll warn you now, this article is going to be a long one.  I usually don't write this much, but this was such a special day, I want to share it with you.

It was this sense of home and hearth that let me up Barnes Mountain once again in March, 2011.  As many of you know, I taught a history class in Estill County for a day in October, 2010.  Part of their assignment was to write a play based on the letters between my 4th g-grandparents during the Civil War.  At the Estill County Reading Celebration on March 18, 2011, a county-wide program was held at Estill County Middle School and this play was presented four times that afternoon.  Although I was only able to attend one of them, the kids did a great job.  

As wonderful as Friday afternoon was, the real treat was going to be Saturday.  Saturday, my birth mother, my cousin, Jakie, her husband and I were going up the mountain.  Jakie was going to show me an old family cemetery and then we were headed to the Hoover Cemetery.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sky was clear and it was warm for the middle of March.  As we drove up the mountain, she told stories I'd never heard before.  We stopped at our first cemetery.  With a swing around the gate, we were hiking up the hill.  Now used for logging, the road followed the ridge.  We made our way to the small, fenced cemetery.  Sunken graves were everywhere with only four marked with the familiar field stones.  The majority of these sunken areas spoke of families who made the hike we just made, only to commit a tiny pine box to ground consecrated with a mother's tears.  A few limbs had come down in the cemetery from the hard winter this area had.  We threw those over the fence with talk about coming back to clean it up further.  As we made our way back to the truck, Jakie pointed out various areas on neighboring ridges and told us who lived where.

We made our way to the Hoover Cemetery and heard more stories.  As we walked around the cemetery, we talked about our family members buried there, either in marked or unmarked graves.  We also talked about the cabin that was on a cousins' property, somewhere in the "holler" below the cemetery.  I'd met with these cousins several years ago.  As with all things in genealogy, it's a bit confusing as I am cousins with both the husband and the wife.  She showed me pictures of this cabin that, as the family story went, was dismantled with the better logs salvaged and rebuilt.  She also showed me pictures of the spring my 4th g-grandmother drew water from.  With regards to the cabin, as the story went, the logs that were used in this cabin were originally hewn by our ancestor, Daniel Hoover, sometime between 1840 and 1860.  It can be pinned down to that time frame because the Hoover family had come to Estill County by June 1, 1840 and Daniel enlisted in the 8th Kentucky Regiment in 1861.  When he returned from service in 1863, he was unable to work.  We stopped by our cousins' house (who lives next to the cemetery) on the way to the cemetery, but no one was home.  While wandering around the cemetery, we saw a truck return to the house.

After we left the cemetery, we stopped again at our cousins' house.  He was outside and we asked if we could go to see the cabin and the spring.  Now, let me preface this and describe where we're headed.  The one and a half lane road that leads to this cemetery runs along a ridge with steep slopes on either side.  After winding a bit along the ridge, the area flattens out somewhat.  This is where their house and the family cemetery is.  When I talked to this cousin years ago, I was told the cabin and spring were just "down the hill."  

Just "down the hill" evidently doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.  We started down what appeared to be a run for water down the hill.  What we found out from our guide was this was the original road to get out of the hollow.  It was hard to imagine a wagon or a sled being drawn by horses making it's way either up or down this thing!  With coon dogs baying at us, we made our way down this 35 - 45 degree slope.  The chickens that were running wild ran off as we jumped across a small stream that was making it's way down the hill.  As we got to the bottom of the hill and entered the hollow, the small stream became a creek that we had to jump over again.  Asking our cousin if we were close, we were told "Just over there." with a vague wave of the hand.  We moved in and out of brush, holding limbs/branches and unhooking ourselves from the various briars.  Another "Are we there yet??"  Another wave of the hand and "Just over there."  More limbs and thicker brush and sharper briars.  Another "Are we there yet??"  Another wave of the hand and "Just over there."  Ducking under limbs, watching for snakes on a warm day, looking up at the ridges on either side of the hollow, but this time, soaking in where we were.  

Suddenly, there it was.  Through the brush and trees we could faintly see a structure on the side of the hill. I started to get this tingling sensation in my hands and arms.  My heart beat a bit faster.  In my minds eye, I could see the ghosts of my family in this place.  Dianah was in the front washing clothes in a kettle on a blazing fire.  Daniel was working with his crops in a clearing or perhaps headed up the ridge to work as a logger.  I looked around as if I expected to see physical evidence of my imagination.

We made our way to the cabin and my breath was taken away.  From what our cousin had told us, when the cabin was dismantled it originally had been just a few yards from where it now stood, closer to the spring.  But to see these logs, to run our hands over wood that our ancestor had possibly run his hands over 160 years ago.  There was a connection there.  There had to be.  

Now, there was one last thing to be done here.  I wanted to visit the spring.  We asked our cousin about it.  We were met with another wave of the arm and another "Just over there."  Jakie and I looked at each other, laughed and we followed him through the woods again.

"Just below that biggest tree" we carefully made our way to the spring.  It was steep and the ground was muddy.  Over time, people had placed stones around and over it in attempts to keep it clean.  We could see that spring was still running as it had for hundreds of years.  

Thanking our cousin for leading us here, we began to make our way back to the truck.  Once we got there, we discussed the location of a cemetery where another of Jakie's ancestors was buried.  Our cousin offered to take us there.  We all piled in the truck again and off we went for our next genealogy adventure.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Spring Has Sprung

In Week 14 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, we're writing about Spring. What was spring like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  ~Robin Williams

And no one knows how to party like Marshall County, Kentucky, on the first Monday of April.  Regardless of what the winter had brought, regardless of how cold it had been, children of Marshall County knew that April would bring Tater Day!  That's right, folks.  An homage to the lowly sweet potato sprout and a old-fashioned "trade day", the first Monday of April became a local holiday.  Schools were closed and a parade was planned.  There were rides to ride at the park in Benton and Hutchins Bar-Be-Que to eat.  I'm sure there were my dreaded clowns there, but, in the euphoria of corn dogs and funnel cakes, I don't remember seeing them there.

Unfortunately, I only remember going a few times.  My parents would usually take this opportunity to work on our garden.  We owned not only the lot our house was on, but also the lot across the street.  Without a house there, it was ours to play on.  Daddy had built a two story playhouse that was originally used in the Calvert City Christmas Parade in 1969 as Santa's Workshop.  The front half of the lot was more like a park.  We had a fire pit, benches, flowers, a tire swing on a limb of the old mulberry tree.  The back 1/2 of this lot was a garden.  And it was this garden that was the bane of my existence!  Green beans, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, grapes.  It was this garden that, later in the year, would prevent me from getting to sleep late.  But it was also this garden, that in a short few weeks, would bring strawberries.  Wonderful, luscious, plump strawberries, which brought homemade / home canned strawberry jam and stewed strawberries.  And those brought warm cornbread and homemade shortcake.

We worked all through the summer and fall from that garden.  Spring producing plants would be replaced by summer and then fall ones.  The canners were in full gear with jams, preserves, vegetables, pickles as well as frozen.  All those cans ended up in the pantry in our basement.  And the efforts of that spring, summer and fall helped feed us through the winter.  

Until it was Spring again.  And Spring brought thoughts of Tater Day, rides and corn dogs, but the realization of helping in the garden and mowing the yard.