Friday, January 11, 2019

52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks 2019 Challenge #2 Challenge

This week's word is challenge which is an interesting theme because it can be viewed from so many POV. We all have challenges that affect our lives in our own ways & I don't think time, whether it's the current day or the past, changes things too much. The past year has been a challenge & as the months have passed, things have continued to be a challenge for us. But I am reminded of two ancestors, women (& they are not the only ones whose lives could have been seen as challenging) who had to deal with not having a man in their life to help them from day to day. One was my maternal great grandmother Susan Elvira Dennington Turnipseed Stewart whom I have written about before who sent her husband away to prison & was left behind to finish raising their children by herself. Another was my maternal third great grandmother Mary Ann Covington Holland. I don't believe that I have written about her before so I will do so today.

Mary Ann Covington was the daughter of David Covington & Rachel McIntyre. She was born on 19 May 1824 in Rutherford County, NC. She married John Benjamin Holland who was a son of John Rickman Holland & Elizabeth Walker. They were married in 1843 & migrated to Texas in 1846 where they took up land & settled in Burnet County, Texas. Burnet County was a wild & lawless part of the Texas Hill Country then. Their third & fourth children (daughters Harriet & Mariah, my gg greatmother) were among the first white children to be born in the area. I was able to find several land transactions among the ecords of the Burnet County Courthouse during my last visit to Burnet in 2017, including a bill of sale for teenage slave girl that Mary Ann owned which surprised me greatly at the time because I thought the Holland family had left that way of life far behind them in GA. Indians roamed the territory killing settlers from time to time & generally running amok, until one day in the summer of 1856, they came upon Mary's husband John & killed him. He was laid to rest in the family burial ground on their homestead where they still rest together today, but this left Mary all alone with several children still left to raise. It would be a challenge in any era to have your husband & sole supporter die & leave you with all the work of raising children & running a farm, but it must have been even more so back then. Mary managed to do it all on her own somehow & lived to the ripe old age of 96. She died in Burnet County on 22 February 1921. I would have liked to ask her what life was like back then. There is only one known photograph of Mary which makes me laugh. I'd like to think that she's where I inherited my bad hair days from. I don't know when the picture was taken or how old she was, but all joking aside, she looks like she was possessed of a great amount of determination (if not a determinedly grumpy looking disposition). I'm sure some of the things she lived through were not easy on her, but without her determination, I would not be here & I'm grateful to be of her line.

52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks 2019 Challenge #1 First

It is a new year & a new 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks challenge. This week's key word is First. As before, the key words are not intended to be specific. They are just to get you going. This post will be short as I have already written about this particular ancestor before in years past. The word first brought to my mind an ancestor whom I loved very much in this life who was gone long before I was ready to give her up. She was my paternal grandmother & her name was Beulah Mae Houston. She was the first ancestor I can think of in my family who was married multiple times (in her case, she holds the record for it with a record number of six different spouses. You can read more about her if you're so inclined by clicking here. We will see how far I get on this year's challenge. The first year I participated, I made it to June. Last year, life got in the way for us & I only made it four weeks due to circumstances beyond my control. Again, new year, new challenge!

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.