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