Friday, January 26, 2018

52 Ancestors 2018 Challenge #4 Invite to Dinner

Man, where to start! There are so many ancestors that I would love to invite to dinner if it were possible to do so. Certainly all of my brick wall ancestors like John Young Houston, Hugh McCoy, Newton LeGrande Turnipseed, Benjamin Green, etc. My dad's relatives from Mexico would be on the list as well as my paternal grandmother Beulah Mae Houston Kaufman whom I miss greatly & who has been gone 32 years now this month. I had a dream once many years ago. I was in the process of getting my temple endowments (I'm LDS btw for those who don't know) at the time & I dreamed that I was at a gigantic picnic in a huge meadow. It was a beautiful sunny summer day (minus the heat & insects of course!). Around me were all these relatives I had never met, but as I was talking to this one & that one, they would tell me their names & I would say "yes, I remember hearing about you", "yes, I have longed to meet you". Over & over, each one would tell me in this dream that they were aware of the family history work I was doing & they were proud of me because they knew they had not been forgotten. That very vivid (at the time) dream has stayed with me. Maybe that dream of years ago was the product of an overactive imagination or verification that our ancestors watch over us from beyond the veil & are aware of things on this side as the Church teaches. I won't know until my time on Earth is done, but I do know that I was called to be one of the record keepers in my family. The number one person I would want to see at dinner would be my grandmother, but if such a thing were possible as to invite all these relatives I have longed to meet to dinner, how could I choose just one? I'd want to invite them all to ask them all the questions about their lives that I have yearned to have the answers to all these years.

Friday, January 19, 2018

52 Ancestors 2018 Challenge #3 Longevity

This week's word is longevity. Again, the keyword of the week is up to everyone's own interpretation. My interpretation of this week's keyword is the longevity of my mother's family. I come from some very hardy, long lived & determined people on her side. For the sake of time, I will only mention a few of them. I will apologize in advance if this post seems to be a bit on the rambling side.

The oldest living person I have in my research is Elizabeth Austin Dennington. She was born in VA in 1764. She married William Dennington, son of Richard & Margaret Dennington in Bush River, Newberry Co., SC on 10 May 1790. William was of Irish descent & served as a Private in Nash's Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers during the War of 1812. They had nine children together: Sarah, Richard, Elizabeth, John, William Mary/Martha, Margaret & two children whose identities are unknown at the present time. William died in 1851 & Elizabeth went to live with her daughters until her death in 1873.

 Elizabeth is one of my ancestors whom I have very little on & someone that I wish I knew more about. I have no idea who her parents or family were. She was born in VA in 1764. According to pension papers she filed on her husband's War of 1812 service, she was married to William by a Rev Browne, but there was no longer any surviving documentation to support this. She & William had been given land as recompense for his service in the War of 1812, but at some point in time, that land had been sold. The pension papers state that she was now indigent & living with family. Since there was no written proof of her marriage, she was forced to obtain affidavits from several people who were acquainted with her. One of her daughters wrote a letter detailing her age, infirmity & destituteness. Another relative helped her navigate the legal system to secure what pension funds could be obtained to support her for the rest of her life. She died at the ripe old age of 109 in Oconee Co., SC on 12 Sept 1873. A notice of her death appeared in the local paper, but was not very forthcoming about who Elizabeth had been in life other than a wife & mother. Her husband William served during the War of 1812 in the same regiment as an Amon Austin who was from the same area where Elizabeth & William lived.

Mrs. Elizabeth Dennington, one hundred and nine years of age, died in Oconee County on the 2d instant. She was the mother of nine children, and at the time of her death was living with her youngest child who is sixty-six years old.  [Aiken Tribune (Aiken, South Carolina) Saturday, September 20, 1873 ; transcribed by Marla Zwakman]

Could Amon have been related to Elizabeth? I think it might be likely, but when I have tried to research what happened to him, I have not gotten very far, so maybe he did not survive the War of 1812. Maybe one day, I will get over this brick wall, but for now, the questions about Elizabeth remain just that. William & Elizabeth would go on to have a descendant who lived to be 98 years old. This ancestor, my great grandmother Susan Dennington Turnipseed Stewart would be born one hundred years before me & would die two years before my birth, but I was fortunate to hear several stories about her from cousins & my mother. Born during Reconstruction in the South, she had something of a hard life. She had six children by her first husband whom she was instrumental in sending to prison for incest. He was abusive & had made at least one attempt on her life, but his incarceration in Upshur Co., TX set in motion her being forced to sell their property & move back to Ellis County to raise their six children on her own. She lived through WWI & WWII as well as the Spanish-American War & the Great Depression. Her parents, two of her three brothers & her sister Martha died before 1920. She later remarried her widowed brother-in-law Isaac David Stewart, son of Alexander Irving Stewart & Melissa Jones Stewart. Her children married & had children & grandchildren of their own. Four of her six children (Pat, Edna, Ruth & Sallie) lived to close to or in their nineties, so apparently our family has some good genes.

Two other relatives that have lived to an advanced age were my aunts Tomasa Gauna de Quinteros & Maybelle Cook Ray. (I've written about both Tomasa & great grandmother Susan here before in other blog posts). Although Tomasa passed on a few years ago at the age of 96, both she & my great Aunt Maybelle (who will turn 96 this year & is our oldest Cook relative on my mother's side) have lead exceedingly long lives & seen much in their time. Both have been amazing women to me. Aunt Maybelle was injured by an old dead tree falling in her yard while crossing to roll up the windows in her truck in advance of a coming storm. She looked the worse for wear afterwards, but she's fiesty & keeps on kicking in spite of it all. I don't know if it's good genes, righteous living, luck or a healthy diet, but through it all, they endured & their perserverence in the face of everything they have seen & lived through, to me embodies the spirit of the word longevity.

Monday, January 8, 2018

52 Ancestors 2018 Challenge #2 Favorite Photo

My family has a ton of photos (my mother is a picture-phile who really LOVES photos. I wonder if they have Picture-holics Anonymous for that) between all the siblings & cousins & there are indeed many that I absolutely love, but I would have to say that my all time favorite photo hands down is the shot below.

Bevlie A Cook (on the right) & Volly M O'Hair,
Sunny Lane Racing Team
The above photo is of my maternal great grandfather Bevlie A. Cook who was my grandmother Vera's father. I wrote about Bevlie & this photo back during the original 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks challenge in 2014. You can read more about Bev here, but what I love about the photo is Volly's ruffled collar. It's just so frilly that it seems a bit much for a man to me (& yes, before you ask, Volly was married to Effie Cadwallendar Hutto besides being a reverend preaching the gospel of Christ so I don't think he swung that way). I seem to remember being told somewhere that the men had to come up with their own racing "uniforms" so I imagine their wives must have sewn these outfits. Both Volly & Bev were newly married in 1900. I don't know much about Volly other than he was married into a neighboring collateral family from the Sunny Lane community where so many were related by blood or marriage, but I do know that Bev did not make a career of bicycle racing which seemed to be a pastime that all the young men in that area took part in. The family story goes that he was gone off racing so much that his wife Dora McCoy Cook prayed that his bicycle would break down so that he would have to stay home with her & sure enough, in time, it happened. The Sunny Lane community has since pretty much disappeared from Burnet County nowadays & sadly there are now few alive who remember it.

52 Ancestors 2018 Challenge #1 Start

The new 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks challenge for 2018 will have a keyword each week to help jump start people's ideas for their blog posts. This week's word is start. The keywords are not about anything specific. It's just to get participants of the challenge thinking & then doing. The originator of the challenge, Amy Johnson Crow, stated on her blog that it could be about starting goals or how you got started in family history, etc. The keyword will mean something different to everyone depending upon how they interpret it, so here is my take on this week's word.

I first began actively researching my family history twenty-two years ago when my current husband & I got married; before that, I had only played around with it some during my first & second marriages. But even before that, I guess you could say I got my interest in my family history from my mother & her family. My mother is the second youngest of eight children (she even makes that distinction sound like something a Borg would be named by incorporating it into her e-mail address). One of her older sisters, Ruth, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when my mother was a teenager. Mom lived with her sister Ruth during her final year of high school in Dallas & took the missionary lessons which led to her being baptized in the summer of 1963. To me, this seemed like the first in a series of acts of non-conformity on my mother's part as she joined the church & then three years later, she married my father (without parental approval) in that church. Mom & Dad would take us to the library, but were always frustrated by the lack of available records at that time. One of the things Mom used to love to do when she was more physically able was to cemetery hop. She would take about five pictures of the same headstone. I used to think that was crazy, but with the advent of the cell phone, I find myself often doing the same thing (regardless of the subject).

My mother's family has always been close which is somewhat of a contradiction to how my father was raised as an only child by his mother (Dad's extended family was also a big one on both sides, but they didn't seem to be as close as my mother's family was). As a member of the Church, Aunt Ruth became interested in genealogy & in 1967, she & her second husband Ray & their children were sealed as a family for time & all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple (which is a big deal if you're a member of the Church). Back then, genealogy wasn't nearly as easy as it is in the age of the internet & I'm sure that Aunt Ruth spent hours & hours in libraries, courthouses, etc., & sending out records requests & letters to people with a possible family connection to us. One of my other aunts by marriage who lived in Washington State was also in to genealogy. Aunt Ruth compiled & assembled giant tomes of research for each sibling which I'm sure Aunt Nancy from Washington helped contribute to. Aunt Ruth has continued to research & refine these treasures for each of her children & on down. She has been the one who plans the annual family reunion each July & all the family has seemed to gravitate towards her during such events.

I should mention that my mother's oldest sister Dean also was a great one when it came to family history. Aunt Dean was the oldest of the eight; the first one married of all the siblings & the one with the most children with a grand total of eight kids of her own. She was always good about sending school pictures & such to my mother when we were all young. When her kids married, she took an interest in their mates & the grandchildren that followed. I believe a lot of the photos we received of the younger cousins (her grandchildren) came from her. She usually always wrote a cute little quote on the backs of her envelopes: smile before opening, open before reading, read before answering, answer before long! She kept a lot of the correspondence she received in a scrapbook & many family photos on her walls at home. She & her husband, Uncle WJ, would often come down to visit my maternal grandparents all the way from Oklahoma City. Aunt Dean & Uncle WJ had a long & happy marriage of fifty years before passing away in 1996 & 1997.

Looking back, it seems like it has fallen mostly to the women (we do have a few menfolk interested in family history) of the family to be the family historians. When I was a little girl, my mother would tell us kids about our heritage. (My father's paternal side of the family hails from Zacatecas, Mexico while his mother's family is from SC, AL & Central Texas. Mom's father's paternal family originally emigrated to the United States from Switzerland in 1750 & fought in the American Revolution. Mom's father's mother came from the South before moving west to Texas. Mom's mother's maternal & paternal side came from the same area of Texas, but before each came west, they followed the same migration patterns that Mom's father's family had taken). Mom impressed upon us that our heritage was something to be proud of because it was the one thing that could never be taken from us. The ones who came before laid the ground work for all of those of us who have come afterwards. I often wonder what they would make of life today with its modern day conveniences. While I've seen life as it was in the movies & read scores of books, etc., I don't know that I could have lived in their time. And they probably wouldn't know what to make of things in mine. I don't know how far I will get this year with the 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks challenge, but I hope you enjoy reading for as long as I can keep the posts coming.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New year, new 52 weeks/52 ancestors challenge

For the fourth year in a row, many in the genealogical community are participating in the 52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors challenge.  I participated the first year the challenge was instituted in 2014, but I was only able to keep up with the posts until week 20 that year, so I'm taking up the challenge again in 2018. In the four years that have passed, my father's paternal aunt Tomasa, as well as several cousins on my dad's side, have passed away. We lost two of my paternal family's Frank's this year: Frank M Quinteros & Francisco Aguirre. My mother's maternal family lost a cousin & her husband within a couple of weeks of each other. I had visited them over the years from time to time, but they are all gone to the great beyond now. To quote a popular film, they exist now only in my (& others') memory. Such is the purpose of genealogy: to remember those who have gone before.

Monday, May 26, 2014

52 Ancestors #20: James Monroe Lindsey

James Monroe Lindsey & wife, Mary Sarah Ann Little Lindsey
 Today is Memorial Day & while my family on both sides has many veterans & a tradition of service to our country, today I would like to honor one veteran in particular: my paternal third great grandfather, James Monroe Lindsey.

James was the third child of twenty-four siblings born to William  Lindsey & first wife, Eliza Lewis. He was born on 30 Dec 1829 in Newton Co., GA. He had beautiful bright blue eyes & brown hair as a young man. He was of Scottish descent & spoke with a brogue. When he was about fourteen years old, James' father moved their family from Georgia to Coosa Co., AL. The family lived through much sadness with the deaths of loved ones, but also much joy.

When he was nineteen, James married Mary Sarah Ann Little in Rockford, Coosa Co., AL on 11 Oct 1849. They acquired 1,060 acres of land & moved to Hillsboro (present day Helena) after the birth of their second child Roxie, who was my paternal great great grandmother. (I have written about Roxie in a previous post: As was the custom then, they lived in a two room log cabin with a separate kitchen structure along the Cahaba River & Buzzard Creek.

Civil War was declared in April 1861, but James did not rush to go off to war like so many other men did. It has been said he did not hold with slavery & was a very tolerant man, a man who was  ready & willing to get along with his neighbor without judgment or prejudice if given the opportunity. However, a year after the birth of his fifth child, Susan, James enlisted for service as a private in Company D, 10th AL infantry. Although there were a few instances when he was out sick or injured, James served until the end of the war & was present at Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on 9 Apr 1865. He was paroled at Burkesville Junction between 14-17 April 1865 & began the long walk home on foot. It took him more than three months to make the journey home & by the time he finally arrived, his family had given up hope of his return. But his memories of those days of war never dimmed, as evidenced by letters he wrote home which the Lindsey family preserved.

His letters gave a sobering personal account of the lack of food, clothing and extreme conditions endured by the soldiers and repeatedly illnesses, writing once, “Girls, I need some socks. I hate to tell you my condition about clothing and rations. I would like to write something that would interest you … but if I were to tell you all I know, it would break your heart.”

After the Battle of Spotsylvania, VA, on May 12, 1864, he wrote, “Never have I seen so much blood. They killed so many of our men that the trenches fill up (sic) and we had to pick up their bodies and stack them behind the trenches. The rain through the trenches ran red with blood. On this same day, Jeb Stuart died.”

While he was gone, his wife Sarah & his children did their best to survive & eke out a living on the farm. They were often robbed of food & livestock & what they were able to keep, they were forced to hide. They experienced constant fear, as did so many others, of the "enemy". It was Roxie's job as a child of seven years of age to ring a bell to alert the neighbors when Union soldiers were known to be in the area. James was able to make it home once while ill, but was not able to stay with the family because the Home Guard was busy searching for deserters. Sarah & the children carried food & water & cared for him as best they could while he convalesced in the woods. He recovered & returned to his post & eventually the war ended.

After the war, several of his family members joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (better known as the Mormons). Although he never converted, he was always kind to the missionaries who came to visit. A few of his relatives moved west to Utah. Some stayed behind in AL & some moved on to Texas & Oklahoma. James & Sarah chose to go to Texas where their daughter Roxie & son William Jasper Lindsey (also known as Billy) lived. They continued to farm in Milam Co., Texas for a time.

James with his wife Sarah & daughter Jerome.
His sons James Robert, Joseph Samuel & Sylvester
stand behind him. The date & place of the photo are unknown. 
On 5 Mar 1910, Sarah Little Lindsey passed away in Buckholts, Milam Co., Texas. She was laid to rest at the Little River Cemetery in Cameron, Milam Co., Texas. After 61 years of marriage, James was inconsolable. He moved with Billy to Upshur Co., Texas where he lived for two more years before joining Sarah in death on 9 Jan 1912. Billy arranged to have his father's body carried back to Milam County on the train where he was interred beside his wife at the Little River Cemetery.

Memorial Day was instituted just after the Civil War as a Day of Remembrance, mostly for those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom; but I like to think of today as not only a day to remember those who have paid with their lives in the service of our country, but also a day to remember those who have sacrificed their time with their families to go wherever our country may send them. Most of my family's service men & women have been fortunate enough to return safely home to their families after their time of service ended, but there are a few who were not so lucky. Daniel Tallouzi, Finis Kennedy, Gordon Ross Hill, John Morgan Turnipseed, we remember you & your sacrifice today & always. If you are a veteran, a simple thank you for all you, your families & your comrades have done for our country is inadequate, but heart felt.

"Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957," index, FamilySearch   ( : accessed 26 May 2014), James Lindsey and Sarah Ann Little, 11 Oct 1849; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 1290263.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2014), James Lindsey, 11 Jan 1912; citing certificate number 2796, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2050599.

52 Ancestors #19: Minnie Nell Houston

Last known photo of Minnie
Nell Houston, date & age
unknown. This photo was
used on the headstone of
her gravesite.
Once again, I am behind in my blogging in the 52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors challenge for 2014. I could make excuses (& I did have some very valid ones for being behind), but I will spare you that.

This week's blog is about my paternal great aunt Minnie Nell Houston. Minnie Nell's life on this earth was brief. She never had the opport-
unity to marry or start a family. Minnie was the last child of nine born to my paternal great grandparents Luther Henderson Houston & Della Green Houston (Schostag) on 29 Nov 1931 in Buckholtz, Milam Co., Texas. She spent most of her life in Milam County & my father, who was just over two years of age when she died, claims to have memories of her picking him up & swinging him high in the air.

Minnie Nell was approaching her sixteenth birthday when tragedy struck & she was diagnosed with carcinoma-
tosis, which is a condition in which multiple carcinomas spread & develop from a primary source. My father said (& I am assuming that he was told this) that it was cancer of the stomach. Peritoneal carcinomatosis (the only thing I could compare this to when I googled) develops in the abdominal cavity & is a rare type of cancer that is advanced & affects the thin layer of tissue surrounding the organs of the abdominal cavity. It develops when other cancers, like colon cancer, rectal & pancreatic cancers spread & are also present. By the time cancer has spread to the peritoneum, the cancer is at an advanced late stage.

Today, doctors would treat this with surgery & aggress-
ive chemotherapy treatment, but back in 1948, such treatment options were not available. Even today, the disease is most often terminal because surgery & chemo options have limited success rates. Back then, there was nothing that could be done & people were told to put their affairs in order. My father says that Minnie Nell's battle with the disease lasted three months before the end came for her. Minnie Nell died on 25 Jan 1948 at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Galveston Co., Texas. I hope, for her sake, after reading of the symptoms of the disease, that she did not suffer overmuch. She was laid to rest with other Houston relatives at North Elm Cemetery in Cameron, Milam Co., Texas on 25 Jan 1948.

I can imagine that the death of her youngest child was a hard thing to bear for my great grandmother Della. My father remembers that she kept a memorial paper doll cut out of Minnie Nell that was lacquered & stood up on a little stand on a table in her living room. In one photo I have of Della & her second husband Ed Schostag, a copy of the portrait that appears here & on her headstone is shown in the background on the wall behind them. Minnie Nell may have gone before her time, but she is not forgotten. I close with her obituary:

Obituary of Minnie Nell Houston
"Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1935," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2014), 005035193 > image 2710 of 3619; citing State Registrar Office, Austin.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2014), Minnie Nell Houston, 25 Jan 1948; citing certificate number 1942, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2218829.
Obituary, The Waco News Tribune, 29 Jan 1948, pg 14, Minnie Nell Houston