Wednesday, January 18, 2017

52 Ancestors #2 Newton LeGrande & Edward Scott Turnipseed

This week I am focusing on a family mystery that will probably never be solved. It involves two brothers on my mother's paternal line, Newton LeGrande Turnipseed & his older brother Edward Scott Turnipseed.

Edward Scott "E. S. or Scott" Turnipseed, circa 1900, Waxahachie, Ellis County, Texas
 Both were sons of Dr Felix Benjamin Turnipseed & Sarah M. Whitfield. They fell in the middle & had two older brothers (Daniel & Benjamin), an older sister (Margaret), a younger brother (Bookter) & a younger sister (Nettie). Newton was named for his maternal uncle, Newton LeGrande Whitfield, who was an AL State Representative. Their mother died sometime between 1870 & 1876. Their father was a doctor who served in the Civil War. After their mother's death, he moved the family to MS where he remarried Aurelia Gregory & had one more daughter before dying during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 in Grenada County, MS. In 1880, we find the two older brothers have married & started families of their own & the children of Felix Benjamin Turnipseed & Sarah M. Whitfield have scattered. Felix & Sarah's two daughters have died by the time of the 1880 Census. Newton & Edward are still unmarried & living in other households in Tallahatchie Co., MS; Edward with a cousin, R. B. Fedric, & Newton with the James & Nancy Quinn family. Bookter, the youngest brother is also missing & was never heard from or seen again in the historical record.

In early 1886, Newton & his brother Edward left MS & joined up with a wagon train that was coming through & headed west from Georgia. Newton met a young woman named Susan Elvira Dennington who was traveling with her family to Texas. The Turnipseeds & the Denningtons stopped in Ellis County, Texas where Newton married Susan on 28 Mar 1886. Edward Scott Turnipseed also found love in Ellis County, Texas. He married Ellen Emily Sims, daughter of Wilson Timlick Sims & Kate Thompson Smithers, on 10 March 1889.
Marriage license of Newton LeGrande Turnipseed & Susan Elvira Dennington
They farmed & started families each in their turn. Edward & Ellen had three sons: Benjamin Whitfield Turnipseed, Edward Wilson Turnipseed & Dixon Gillespie Turnipseed. Then in 1898, Edward's wife Ellen died while in Colorado. It is not known what she was doing in Colorado & she was buried there in Columbia Cemetery in Boulder, Boulder County, Colorado. Almost two years later, Edward remarried Mrs. Sarah A. Byars in Henderson Co., Texas on 13 March 1898. Both then inexplicably disappear from the historical record. The children of Edward & Ellen were then raised by their maternal grandparents.

Meanwhile, Newton & Susan are still farming & living in Ellis County, Texas with their five children; Vera, David, Pat, Sallie & Edna. They would have one more daughter (Ruth) in 1903 before their family was torn in two. By 1903, Newton & Susan have moved from Ellis County, Texas to Rhonesboro, Texas which is in Upshur County. They bought land there & continued farming. The marriage, however, was not a very harmonious one. Family stories tell that Newton had tried to harm Susan on more than one occasion. It was thought that he once poisoned the bucket of well water that sat on their front porch, intending that his wife should drink from it. Instead, his sons did when they came in from the hot fields that day & became very ill from it.

On the 1900 census, Newton is shown as a day laborer, meaning he probably hired out in addition to farming his own land. In 1904, he was tried in Upshur County Court & sentenced to five years in prison for the rape & incest of one of his own daughters. In those days, such behavior was rarely reported, let alone by one's own wife, but Susan possessed a very strong will & she did right by her children, most of whom were close to being grown & out on their own by then. She still had the youngest daughter still at home to raise, while the other two daughters were close to or already ready for marriage. Her two boys were both out working. Two years into Newton's sentence, he escaped from a work camp in Bowie County, Texas. He was never seen or heard from again. What may have happened to him afterwards is one of our greatest family mysteries. No one in the family has ever known the truth of what happened other than one day Susan received a letter from the prison about Newton's escape. It was said by her younger son Pat, who was my maternal grandfather, that he came home to find her crying over this letter. All she would tell him was that it was from the prison & concerned his father. He took it to mean that the old man (as he referred to him) had died, but I think what had Susan so distraught was that she knew he had escaped & she was worried that he would be coming after her for having him prosecuted & put in prison. Her worst fears never to came to pass however.

Huntsville, TX Prison registry showing the work camps Newton LeGrande Turnipseed was
in & noting his escape from custody.
In 1914, Susan was remarried to her widowed brother-in-law Isaac David Stewart in Henderson Co., Texas. Her daughter Ruth continued to live with them before she left to marry Jack Harte. Their marriage was an abusive one. They divorced & she returned home to live with her mother. She later remarried Jesse Clyde Jones & spent the majority of the rest of her life with him in Ellis County. Susan lost her second husband to a heart attack while fishing in mid November 1931. She lived alone after that. Her favorite activies in her old age were gardening & crochet. Her favorite color was yellow. She was a opinionated hard shell Baptist who could be a hard taskmaster according to one niece. I think she was the way she was because of the time she was born in (just after the Civil War) & the hard life she lived.

Our family probably will never know what happened to Newton. I theorize that, with such a unique surname as Turnipseed, he knew it was better & easier to disappear if he changed it to something else & moved to somewhere where few if anyone knew him. He also knew he would not be welcome at home & that if he went back, Susan would be sure to alert the authorities; thus, sending him back to finish serving his prison term. At one point, Susan sent her sons out to look for him, but as far as she knew, neither ever found him. It was rumored that David may have found him living in ID where his older two brothers moved to finish raising their families. He would never tell anyone in the family for certain which was a great source of contention between him & his brother Pat.

You never know what you will find when you start looking into your family tree. Whatever my great grandfather may have been, I wish I knew the rest of his story, even if it is only for the sake of closure.

"Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Jan 2014), Felix B. Turnipseed and Sarah M. Whitfield, 04 May 1852.

"United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Jan 2014), E S. Turnipseed, Beat 3, Tallahatchie, Mississippi, United States; citing sheet 103B, family 0, NARA microfilm publication T9-0665

"United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Jan 2014), B. W. & N. L. Turnipseed, Beat 3, Tallahatchie, Mississippi, United States; citing sheet 107A, family 0, NARA microfilm publication T9-0665

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Jan 2014), Newton L. Turnipseed and Susan E. Dennington, 28 Mar 1886.

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Jan 2014), E. S. Turnipseed and Ella E. Sims, 10 Mar 1889.

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #18: William Riley McCoy

Riley & Betty Holland McCoy, my gg grandparents, late 1920's
William Riley McCoy was my great great grandfather on my mother's side of the family tree. I obviously never got the chance to know him since he died many years before I came along, but I did hear a few stories about him, the main ones being that he liked to chew tobacco & he could tell a good tale.

If you ever saw a group of old timers chewing the fat around the town square (you know the ones featured in movies) you could bet that would be the kind of place you would have found Riley as everyone called him. Riley was born in Fayette Co., AL on 9 July 1851 & was the first child of eleven of Hugh & Harriet Farquhar McCoy. His parents decided to move to Texas shortly after along with his maternal grandparents & others as part of a huge wagon train. They arrived in Burnet Co., Texas in 1852 & never left. Last week, I wrote that Burnet County was a rather undeveloped rural place at that time, but even today, it's still a small town where everybody knows everybody & people still say howdy when they pass you on the street (about the only thing that's changed probably is that it's more developed then it used to be).

Riley, like his father before him, was a farmer. On 22 Dec 1870, he married Martha/Mariah Elizabeth "Betty" Holland who was the daughter of long time Burnet County pioneers John Benjamin & Mary Covington Holland. Some weeks back I wrote about how the Hollands migrated to Texas in 1840 when Texas was still a republic. Betty's branch of the Holland family joined relatives here a little later than that, but arrived in time for Betty to be one of the first children born in Burnet County. Betty & Riley would raise ten children themselves (John, Nannie, "Molly" William, Lydia, Dora, Houston, Susie, Lewis & Tennie) & most of them would stay fairly close to home. 

Riley would often tell tales about the indians & the early days of Burnet Co to the younger generation. One story he told was about going with a group to capture Quanah Parker where the bullets flew fast & hot & how the lead melted together when bullets intercepted each other. I've heard it said you could never quite tell when he was pulling your leg. Unfortunately his stories were never written down & died with him in his sleep on 18 Sept 1940; the official cause of death being a coronary occlusion (my mother's side of the family has a medical history of heart problems). His wife Betty had died of a heart attack several years earlier in 1932 & he was living with relatives who found him the next morning.
Death certificate of William Riley McCoy
His passing was much lamented in the Burnet Bulletin where I had the chance to read about what a character he was. During a couple of trips to Burnet, I had the chance to go by the home where he died. A large family was living there at the time. I have also visited the cemetery where he & Betty were laid to rest side by side in Holland Cemetery which is on the old Holland land that once belonged to Betty's family. My mother, brother & I had the opportunity to take a picture the last time we were all there together sometime back around 2000. A doctor's widow owns the property now as far as I am aware & the family cemetery is still there on the property untouched. The cemetery is overgrown much of the time & most of the stone are now unreadable. Fortunately the ones we were looking for were still there for the finding. Many buried there were relatives of the Hollands or someone from the community. I don't think anyone was ever turned away. I hate to see the condition of the cemetery the way it is, but I don't live close to Burnet, so it's one of those things I have to accept & be thankful that I was able to pay my respects to the ancestors who are buried there. 

Descendants of Riley & Betty Holland McCoy-Holland Cemetery, Burnet Co., TX
"Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 May 2014), R W Mccoy and M E Holland, 22 Dec 1870; citing p. 92, Burnet, Texas; FHL microfilm 978759.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 May 2014), William Riley Mccoy, 18 Sep 1940; citing certificate number 40632, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2138005.

52 Ancestors #17: James Robert "Jim" McCoy

James Robert McCoy, age 21
This post is super late because last weekend was spent celebrating my husb-
and's & my 17th wedding anniversary. Before I knew it, time slipped away. For-
give me, it happens to all of us!

If there was ever anyone who was the epitome of the cowboys of yesteryear, it was my great great grand uncle Jim. He was born in Burnet Co., Texas on 9 Aug 1862 to Hugh & Harriet Farquhar McCoy. The McCoy family originally migrated from Fayette Co., AL to Burnet Co., Texas in 1852 & in those days, the county was only sparsely populated & indians roamed the countryside.  The McCoys had eleven children & Jim was their sixth child & fifth son. He left home at the tender age of 15 (apparently kids grew up quicker then) to follow the great cattle drives of the 1880's, where you spent weeks on end in the saddle looking at the rear ends of cattle.

When Jim wasn't riding herd, he was fortunate enough to see the famous geysers of Yellowstone before it ever became a national park. He swam the salty waters of the Great Salt Lake in Utah & spent some exciting time in Dodge City. He spent the famous killing winter of 1886 & 1887 that inspired the painting "Waiting for a Chinook" by Montana artist Charles H. Russell in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The severe blizzards that winter decimated cattle & Jim eventually arrived with more to replenish the herds.

Jim worked as a foreman on many ranches in Northern Montana before settling in as cow boss on Colen Hunter's YT Ranch south of Havre in Hill Co., MT. He found himself a wife to take his name when he married Wilomena "Mina" Dowen, daughter of Nicholas & Elizabeth Harrison Dowen, on 2 Nov 1896 in Fort Benton, Choteau Co., MT. The Dowens were new arrivals to Fort Benton from Michigan. Their home on the YT was the first in the county to have a wooden floor instead of the usual dirt variety. They had one daughter Elizabeth in 1907 who became a teacher & married Warren Grover Murphy in 1941 & eventually moved to AR.

Marriage license of Jim & Mina Dowen McCoy
Like many of his contemporaries, he was a man of few words, but he was known to tell a good yarn or two (perhaps he got this from my ggrandfather William Riley McCoy who was known to be a master story teller back in Burnet County) when he got the urge. He never grew a full beard, (saying a lot of facial hair tended to be too warm & house too many varmints) but did sport a long handle bar mustache. He preferred striped pants held up by suspenders & perhaps because he was a stock inspector for the State of Montana, he carried his nickel-plated Colt low on his right hip long after most cowboys had long since forsaken the practice of going about armed.

His position as stock inspector took him all over Montana. He & Mina eventually bought a house in Chinook & settled down even further, with Jim serving as Blaine County Treasurer in his twilight years. His wife Mina died in 1935. A true cowboy until the end, Jim rode horseback until shortly before his death. He was nearly eighty years of age when he died on 23 Feb 1943 with his daughter Elizabeth at his side. Jim was inducted posthumously into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. His pistol, gun belt & many personal effects are on display at the Blaine County Museum in Chinook, Montana.

"Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 May 2014), James R. Mccoy and Mina Dowen, 02 Nov 1896; citing p 382, cn 310, Ft. Benton, Choteau, Montana; FHL microfilm 1902873.
James McCoy obituary found in The Havre Daily News, Thursday, February 25, 1943
Photo credit to

Saturday, April 26, 2014

52 Ancestors #16: Sam B. Houston

General Sam Houston on the left, Uncle Sam Houston on the right
 This week's post is kind of a tale of two Sams: General Sam Houston of Texas fame & my Uncle Sam Houston who lived in Cameron, Milam Co., Texas. My paternal great uncle Hubert Houston who was a nephew of my great grand uncle Sam always used to claim that our Houstons were related to General Sam Houston. My problem was that Uncle Hubert only shared his basic Houston research with my branch of the family & never shared his supporting documentation of any link between us & the General. I have never found any concrete evidence of a link between our two Houston families, although I do have a suspicion they are related. I just don't know how.

My working theory for this (even though I haven't found irrefutable documented proof) is based on more than just family resemblance. Our family has always taken particular notice that General Sam & Uncle Sam look very much alike, but there is also the fact that Sam had two brothers named Luther Henderson Houston (my paternal great grandfather) & Charles Culberson Houston. I don't remember where I heard it, but somewhere over the years, I either heard or deduced I heard that Luther got his middle name Henderson from his father John Young Houston's sister Elizabeth who married Hollie Middleton Henderson. I had nothing to base on where Charley may have gotten his middle name Culberson from until I happened to be doing some research on General Sam many years ago.

General Sam Houston descends from John & Margaret Cunningham Houston of Ireland through one of their sons, Robert, who married Margaret or Mary Dunlap Davidson. John & Margaret Cunningham Houston had another son, John, who married Mary Ross (supposedly, some of the data is a little sketchy this far back).  John & Mary Ross Houston had a son named James, who is by tradition or supposition, married to Mary Hughey. James & Mary had a son named John Y. whom many are unclear on exactly who he married for certain (& no, no one ever comments on what the middle initial Y stands for, although Mary & James did have a younger son in their family named Young Gresham Houston). Most agree that he married someone named Elizabeth or Betsey (same difference, right?), but there is a disagreement on what her last name was. I have documented proof that my paternal third great grandfather John Young Houston (who I call Sr to distinguish him from the other John Young Houstons who came after & were named for him) was married to Elizabeth  "Betsey" Rodgers on 25 Nov 1809 in Morgan Co., GA where James & Mary Hughey (& John Young Houston Sr.) lived. (See My ancestor has been said to have been the son of John & Mary Young Houston. John Y. Houston, son of James & Mary Hughey Houston, is supposed to have married Elizabeth Maddox a year earlier on 25 Nov 1808 in Clarke Co., GA (however, I don't have documentation of this). Clarke is two counties northeast of Morgan County, GA & was probably where the bride lived, the premise being here that couples sometimes got married in the bride's county of residence.

James & Mary Hughey Houston also had a daughter named Mary who married Isaac Culberson. (This would make General Sam her uncle. I heard once from a cousin, Debra Nell Houston, that she had heard this claim of Uncle Hubert's also & although she did not now recall the exact relationship, she thought that General Sam was also supposed to have been an uncle many times removed of ours). If there is a connection between our family & General Sam's, is this where Charley, like Luther, got his middle name from?

Our Houstons  & General Sam's ancestry started out in SC from Ireland; they then migrated to GA & AL before settling for good in Texas. General Sam was reportedly very well known for siring children out of wedlock with many women, but although, our mutual relatives followed the same migratory patterns, I do not believe our female relatives were anywhere nearby in the same time period to have fallen victim to his "charms of persuasion", so where is the connection that would explain why our families seem to resemble each other? As far as I know, there is no documented proof of one that I have ever run across where I could say without a doubt in my mind that there actually was one.

Back to Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam was born the eighth of nine children to John Young (Jr) & Roxie Lindsey Houston on 29 Sept 1895 in Maysfield, Milam Co., TX. He farmed & lived his entire life in Milam County, Texas. He married Mary Price, daughter of a neighbor Moses Wright Price & Nannie Elizabeth Richards, on 26 Aug 1915 in Milam County, Texas. Mary taught school for a number of years in the community where they lived. They were blessed with no children of their own, but when the children of James William & Anna Pearl Turnbow Reynolds were orphaned after their parents' deaths, Sam & his older brother Will Houston, split the children into two groups with each brother taking charge, adopting, & raising the orphaned Reynolds children as their own.

The children Sam & Mary took in were Mary Faye & Edna Mae Reynolds. They also adopted & raised as their son, a boy named Douglas. I am not very clear on whether he was one of the Reynolds children or not. The information I have says he was, but I have a note that he may also have been a Woodson; in which case, I do not know who his biological parents were before Sam & Mary adopted him. Douglas died in a tragic plane crash during college while on his way home for a visit  in 1946. Mary Faye & Edna found good husbands, married & stayed close to home.

Uncle Sam died of a coronary occlusion at the age of 70 in Cameron, Milam Co., TX on 6 Apr 1966. He was laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cameron. His wife Mary survived him by 12 years & was also laid to rest there in 1978. Below is a photo of Sam & Mary that was shared with me by my cousin Donna Fuller Delamar. I do not know the time or place, but it is obvious that they were attending someone's funeral (perhaps Douglas'?). Whatever the connection, I hope to one day be able to break down this brick wall.

Sam & Mary Price Houston

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2014), Sam Houston and Mary Price, 26 Aug 1915; citing Milam, Texas, , reference ; FHL microfilm 981393.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2014), Sam B Houston, 06 Apr 1966; citing certificate number 25955, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2117976.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

52 Ancestors #15: Viola Houston Otts Colbert

William Andrew Otts & Viola Houston
Otts, date & place taken unknown
This week's post is about a great aunt I never had the opportunity to know, but whose life I am able to relate to. Viola Houston was born into a large family on 24 Jan 1891 in Maysfield, Milam County, Texas. She was the seventh of nine children & third daughter of John Young Houston & Roxie Jane Lindsey Houston. She survived the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 that claimed four of her family members. She was married to the love of her life at a time in her life when others would have considered her an old maid (age 35). She married William Andrew Otts, son of James & Susannah Russell Otts of Marak, Texas, on 22 Oct 1926 in Cameron, Milam County, Texas. She may have expected to live out her life here, but such was not to be.

Just four short years after their marriage, Andrew was taken from "Ola" when he developed nephritis (an infection that shuts down a person's kidney so that they can no longer adequately filter proteins which allows for the build up of toxins) & died on 19 Oct 1930 in Marak, Milam Co., Texas. He was laid to rest with other Otts family members at Marak Cemetery. They had no children together, although it is unknown whether the fact that they had no children was due to age or what I like to refer to as the "Houston curse" in which many of the female relatives of the Houston family line seem to be barren for whatever reason.

From photos that have been passed down to me by a cousin, Donna Fuller Delamar, it was easy to see that Andrew & Ola were much in love & I'm sure his death must have been a burden that was hard to bear for her. Five years later, she married Ernest Sproull Colbert, son of Henry C. & Lola/Lula Brown Colbert. Ernest was an oil field developer & he had been married before to Lily Mae Walton. They (Ernest & Lily) were married in about 1918 in Walters, Cotton Co., OK & had five children together, four boys & one girl, before Lily's death in 1934. Ernest moved his family to Texas where he met & married Ola & she became step-mother to his children.  The 1940 census shows their family living in Wichita Co., Texas which is quite a long ways from Milam County. Ernest's oldest son Floyd worked in the oil fields also. They eventually moved to Marlin in neighboring Falls Co., Texas & Ernest retired in 1952.

Viola "Ola" Houston Otts Colbert
Ola & Ernest had no children together. She was widowed a second time when Ernest died seven years later in 1959. She died a year later of a pulmonary embolism on the anniversary of his death (11 Mar 1960) in Marlin, Falls Co., Texas. She was laid to rest beside Ernest at Hillcrest Cemetery. Ola seemed to me to have been a nurturing mother type so I can relate that her life may not have gone quite as she had planned. A photo of her that was shared with me by Donna Fuller Delamar seems to reinforce this. I don't know when or where it was taken, but she seems a little sad. Most of the Houston relatives I have known or seen pictures of all look very alike & in her appearance here in this photo, I can definitely see the family resemblance. She's looking down & I wonder if this might not have been taken at a cemetery. Compared to the earlier photo, she seems to have lost weight. Whatever life dealt her, she was able to find happiness & a family of her own in the end.

"Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973," index,  FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), William Andrew Otts and Viola Houston, 22 Oct 1926; citing Milam Co., Texas, , reference Vol.18 P543; FHL microfilm 1481550.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), William Andrew Otts, 19 Oct 1930; citing certificate number 49905, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2135427.
"United States Census, 1940," index and images,  FamilySearch   ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Ernest Colbert, Wichita Falls, Justice Precinct 1, Wichita, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 243-28, sheet 9A, family 212, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 4163.
"Texas, Deaths and Burials, 1903-1973," index,  FamilySearch  ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Ernest Sprull Colbert, 11 Mar 1959; citing , reference 9544; FHL microfilm 1846233.
"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images,  FamilySearch   ( : accessed 18 Apr 2014), Viola Houston Colbert, 11 Mar 1960; citing certificate number 16240, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2116166.