Monday, August 30, 2010

The Hricak Girls Save the Day

Researching my father's 20th c. immigrant family has been worlds apart from all other research I've done. Beyond the obvious differences of language and religion there is a very short trail in this country. And until the collapse of the Soviet Union I had no expectation that any relevant European archives or documents would ever be available to me.  Even now there are enormous obstacles.

Thus my goals are entirely different. I'm far more interested in making the connections to modern cousins here than in tracing lines back. Family stories, records and photographs are interesting on my mother's side. They are everything on my father's side. 

My grandfather came to this country after WWI. A sister in Chicago and brother in Binghamton had emigrated earlier from their Austro-Hungarian village of Berezova. He told his children about 4 cousins here - a maternal cousin and 3 paternal cousins in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles. There were visits with the Pennsylvania and Connecticut cousins and treasured postcards from the cousin in LA, a barber on Hollywood Boulevard, including pictures from the Tournament of Roses parade. This was exotic stuff in an industrial city like Binghamton. 

Anna & Helen Hricak
But cousin turned out to be a pretty vague term when we started putting together a family tree in the 1990s.  We had lost touch with the California family.  The NY, CT and PA families could all name grandparents and siblings back in Europe and none of them matched up to make the 4 men first cousins.  Visits with family in Europe have given us more information, but we still aren't sure how these men, who knew they were family were family. 

Once the internet and online databases were available I was able to find the California cousin in census and immigration records and tracked down one of his daughters. She'd heard similar stories about relatives in the U.S. growing up but was also unsure of the details.  As we spoke she remembered her father leaving once when she was a girl to go to Chicago.  She thought he might have visited family there and promised to find the pictures he brought home. She told me her father had spent some time in Chicago after leaving the Pennsylvania coal mines and learned to barber there. When my newfound (though still undefined) cousin sent me the pictures they were of my great-aunt's daughters - the Hricak girls all grow'd up. They are quite the glam shots given the snow covered ground, but perhaps they were angling for an invitation back to LA and movie stardom.

Mary & Helen Hricak
The visit probably took place in the 1930s.

It's no proof standard, but for the moment the best we can do to document a family relationship is record the stories and that each of us have photographs of the Hricak girls.

Anna & Helen Hricak and Mary & Helen Hricak,  Photographs, undated. Digital Images.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2004.

Amanuensis Monday: Glendale, TN Social News 1991

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another in a series of transcriptions of East Tennessee social news column clippings found in the papers of my grandmother and great-aunts.  This column appeared in 1991 according to a handwritten note in the margin, which corresponds with my memory of one of the events mentioned, a surprise party for Mary Kathryn McKenzie's 85th birthday.  It may have been published in the Greeneville Sun (Greene County, TN) in early July.  It appeared on page 9.  Though a relatively recent column, it reads as though it were written decades earlier.  Glendale is located in western Washington County not far from the Greene County line.  The article mentions locations in Cocke County (Centerview School), Greene County (Warrensburg), Washington County (Telford) and Lawrence County south of Nashville (Lawrenceburg and Ethridge).  Mrs. Davis was my 2nd cousin, once removed, and related to many of those named in the column.

Mrs. H. B. Davis

On Sunday, June 23, friends and relatives from all over gathered at Centerview School to honor Jane and Blaine Dawson on their 50th wedding anniversary. A large crowd gathered and wished them many more happy years together. A very nice reception of many delicious goodies and refreshments was enjoyed by everyone.

Among relatives from out-of-town were Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt Dawson from Ohio; Donald Dawson from Seattle, Washington; Mr. and Mrs. Tom Dawson from Sarasota, Florida; Ronald and Betty Dawson, and Jay and Libby from Johnson City; Jess Sherian and Tiana, Missy and Ronnie from Morristown; and Dr. and Mrs. Russel Zwingman, David and Teresa from Saginaw, Michigan.

June Sawyer and her mother, Rose Reese, spent several days in Doug and Vickie Taylor in Telford last week. While there they did some shopping and sight-seeing in the nearby towns.

On Wednesday of last week several cousins gathered at the home of Mary Katherine McKensie (sic) in Warrensburg for an all day “get-together” for lots of “gab” and a sumptuous meal at noontime prepared by Mary Katherine and Susie, her helper. Those enjoying the day together were Shirley Sawyer, Ruby Holdway, Margaret Davis, Zora Moss, Hazel and Erma Jean Moore, Gertrude Denton, Rehle (sic) Holt, Flavia Sawyer from Morristown, and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Bryan from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, June 29, Ronnie and Barbara Davis, Suella Nease, Irene Hux, and I left for Lawrenceburg to be the guests of Tom and Mary Benson on their “Rainbow Farm” in Ethridge for their fourth annual “Blackberry Picking Frolic Fiesta.” They have 12 acres of 12-foot rows of the nicest tame blackberries for the picking.

Each year Tom and Mary invite 500 of their friends to bring their buckets and be their guests. At noon, a huge table laden with traditional picnic fare is spread with an array of cold ice drinks and blackberry cobbler with ice cream. The day is set aside for fun and visiting, while a corn mill is grinding meal and whole wheat flour for guests to take a bag home with them if they wish.

Besides the blackberries Tom raises tobacco, corn and has many fruit trees and grapes. We came home with nice buckets of blackberries to make jelly and blackberry cobbler pies and happy with our enjoyable weekend.

On June 9, Kandi Henderson, daughter or (sic) Rebecca White, celebrated her 11th birthday at the home of Terry and Rebecca White. Those helping her celebrate were Ina Runyan; Betty White, Jeff Thornton; Brandi Holt; Shirley Brihn; Kay, Dusty and Kriss Shoemaker; Goldie and Michelle Forner; Roger, Doris and Jeremy Thornton; Debbie Sutton; and Michael Paul Runyan; and Shawn Inman.

Geneva Smith spent Tuesday night with her mother, Selma Wisecarver.

Visiting Hazel Philips and her mother recently were Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Calfee, Evadine Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert T. Rines, Pat Livingston, Shelvie Gibson, and daughters.

Mr. and Mrs. Vodra Moore and Tim and dinner with Hazel and Erma Jean Moore one night last week.

Mary Katherine McKensie (sic) was surprised with a birthday party by her relatives at her home in Warrensburg on Sunday, June 23. Her birthday was June 22.

Pat and L.E. Livingston will celebrate their wedding anniversary on July 15.

Birthday greetings to Leigh Ann Samples on July 5 and also my great niece Brittany Sawyer; Alta Palmer, July 16; Nannie Dockery, July 19; Tommy Dawson, July 9; and Fred Davis, July 13.

Visiting Hazel Phillips and her mother Bea on Saturday were Gladys Thomas and Evadine Knight and Sherrie Samples.

Happy wedding anniversary to Rev. Roy Van Miller and Sherrie July 6. I hope you have many more.

Mr. and Mrs. Clay Fox have been visiting their son’s family, Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Fox and family, in South Carolina.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: A $13.50 Coffin

I'm not sure why this receipt moves me so.  Perhaps because I found it in a small box with a pocket watch and some letters my grandfather wrote home to his mother in the late 1920s when he was living in Oregon. It was clearly something his parents, Gee & Catherine Conway Sawyer considered important.

William Sawyer or Sawyers (it was spelled both ways) was my great-grandfather Gee Sawyers' older brother and the man who raised him after their father died.  William was born in 1840, never married but housed and cared for his younger brother, his widowed mother, his sister Barbary  and her children when she was widowed, and was named guardian of two nieces following another brother's death.  Gee Sawyer administered his estate and bought the coffin for his older brother.  The box holding this receipt was in a trunk in Gee's house in Warrensburg, TN until the house was sold following the death of his last child in 1997.

G. Sawyers to W. Robinson, receipt, 28 Oct 1898. Digital image. Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Story time, or Lies, Lies and more damned Lies

I'm having trouble bringing things into focus. Not the meaning of life (an interesting thought but absolutely beyond my scope) but the meaning of this blog.

I spent this summer posting transcriptions and photos. Quick and easy during a busy season. The posts prompted oohs and ahhs from family and kind bloggers, as well as contacts from cousins which is tremendously exciting (and yes, I'm getting back to you!). I haven't touched actual research in months, and haven't posted anything about my research (my ostensible goal) since June.

What I'm learning is that I'm as interested in what other bloggers are writing as in my own research. There are some wonderful minds, good writers and fascinating ideas in the blogosphere and it's downright exciting to read their blogs. My mind is spinning with a month's worth of thoughts, research successes, stories and pictures. I've missed the discussions on sources (gotta get the "Got Sources" badge onto here), discovered some blogs I adore and am suddenly puzzled about my purpose. I hadn't really expected this to be a dialog.

Let's see if I can trace my train of thought (often more a train wreck than actual progress) -
  • Several bloggers I enjoy post family stories, some absorbing, some funny, some tragic. They fall far outside what I've ever done. Tipper blogged about her Uncle Frank recently on her Blind Pig & The Acorn posting "Sinners and Saints". By the comments it's clear I am not alone in being moved by her story. I wrote last week about the memories Sharing a Slice of Life's prompts provoked.
  • James Tanner has been writing about the accuracy of family legends at Genealogy's Star. All the research I did for my first decade was verifying information handed down to me by my family. Not a source cited anywhere. Most has proved true - even information I seriously doubted. A few lines are clearly wrong. But my work focused on genealogy rather than family stories.
  • My own family has been surprised by some of my postings - startled by something they either didn't know or had long ago forgotten.
So is there any value in our specific stories? And does it matter if they are true or not?

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Patrick Q
Here's one - When Gone With the Wind was released in 1939 my aunt and her friends wanted to join the local Daughters of the Confederacy chapter. They planned a theme dance, likely dreaming of beaus, hoop skirts and sweeping staircases. My grandmother, Iva, squashed the plans. My aunt could join the DAR, but never the Daughters of the Confederacy. Their family were Union soldiers and supporters. My aunt, never one to dwell in gloom or to be apart from the crowd, convinced her friends that it would be far more fun do something else altogether. I don't remember if it was a fan club or some other exploit but no more was heard of the Daughters of the Confederacy or the dance. I was told this repeatedly during my own obsession with Rhett, Scarlett and Melanie.

It's a fun story, especially as told by my mother with flourishes and embellishments, but no more complete than the book or movie. It neglects the fact that Iva's father R.J. Williams, born in the mountains of southern Virginia, was from a staunchly Confederate family. That her husband's grandfather Porter Conway fought for the Confederacy and that his family had been slave owners for generations. That her Union soldier grandfather Samuel McAdams was from a slave owning family and his father, Thomas, was deemed a Confederate supporter by the Southern Claims Commission.

I admit to skepticism about that last fact. I wonder how much a Southern sympathizer a man could be whose four eldest sons volunteered in the Union Army and who maintained close ties with them. Perhaps a touch of local politics or neighbor's grudge? But even discarding the Southern Claims Commission, there's evidence of a family as divided as East Tennessee itself.

So, the story. Does it mean anything? Is it worth keeping in our family lore? When told properly it gives a clear picture of my aunt as a girl and illustrates more than a few family traits. It suggests Iva's family stories focused on the maternal rather than paternal lines and may point to a bias in her research.

It is probable that Iva did not know of her in-laws' involvement, though she should have known they were slave owners. Her sisters-in-law maintained complete ignorance about their family's Civil War experiences, suggesting no one had actually fought. At least they never heard tell of any such thing. No hint their grandfather had served in the Confederate Army. No war stories beyond what their father had seen as a child. Of course, there was no contact with one great-uncle's family.... some sort of falling out between the brothers when they were young men.

I learned that Porter Conway and his brother Joseph fought on opposing sides during the Civil War only after a cousin's persistent questions forced me to consider what might have caused the schism. It never occurred to me to look. Clearly I absorbed more of Iva's story and the aunts' wide-eyed ignorance than I realized.

So stories to come sometimes - along with whatever I have learned about them. They may point to blind spots. They may be true (not too likely in this crowd!). They probably will say quite a bit about who we think we are and more than I realize about who I want us to be. Maybe I'll tell you about my great-uncle Vasil who fire bombed the church.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Madness Monday: Remembering Proust and Mother

I am home again.  The garden is a mess, my desk is a disaster, the house - well, we're way beyond needing a little straightening or sprucing up.  Think gutted bathrooms and a dumpster to collect what I am determined to toss out.  Not heirlooms or family documents.  But endless, endless stuff.  If it was ugly when it was in my great-grandfather's house why is it in my basement?  How did I end up with five sets of dishes and evening gowns I will never wear?  Why do I have two drawers full of my mother's old purses?

Because of me.  I maintain I am the least sentimental person I know.  I routinely ignore or forget birthdays and anniversaries, my own included.   Never kept baby books or locks of hair.  No wedding pictures on display - though I may make an exception for the latest bride and groom.  I am cynical and acerbic.

And, I am delusional.  I'm a family historian, for heaven's sake!  It is virtually impossible to let go of what belonged to my family - especially Mother.  If she loved it it is here (unless I got lucky and my sister took it).  These aren't things of any value - no Chanel purses or bone china.   They were simply hers - or things she kept of those she loved.

Funny story about Mother - and me.  She read.  I read.  We read.  Vision problems have severely restricted my reading and I have managed over the years since she died to give away hundreds, if not thousands, of books.  Yet every shelf and many other surfaces are still piled high with books - including a two volume edition of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.

In one of my last conversations with Mother (and the irony of this has not escaped me) she literally begged me to keep the Proust and read it since she had not been able to finish it.  Clutched hand, tears and all.  I offered to cremate it with her, but she was beyond humor at that point.  So here it sits - her bookmark still there on page 561 of Within a Budding Grove.  I adored her, but I will never be able to read it.  I've thought of tearing out leaves and making origami cranes or paper chains to decorate our Christmas tree.  I might decoupage a dresser or table.  My children assure me that it will be cremated with me if I don't manage to push it out the door before I die.  We will probably go up in smoke together, which is fine with me.  Good company.  But the rest of it - time to let go.

Amanuensis Monday: Morristown TN Social News, 1946, Part 3

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is the final part of a transcription of selections from the “Society News and Personal Notes” column from the Morristown (TN) Gazette and Mail, Friday, May 24, 1946, page 3.  I have not transcribed the Daily Calendar, announcements of Evangelistic Services, Community Club meeting, Singing Convention meeting, the schedule for commencement at Morristown College and an announcement of Summer School that were listed in the column. 


     Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Robertson of the Springvale road entertained with a birthday dinner on Sunday honoring their little son Billy, Mrs. T. E. Robertson, and Robereson (sic) Mathes.  Covers were laid for the hosts, honorees, T. E. Robertson, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carson of Talbott, Mr. and Mrs. Hearl Robertson, Mrs. Ellis Goan and son Walter Johnson, Wayyne (sic) Johnson and Frank Robertson of Weatherford, Tex.  During the afternoon, many family photographs were taken.  Hearl Robertson, one of the guests has just received his discharge from the service.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Follow Friday: Sharing a Slice of Life

I'm beginning to come back to earth and about to head home after a glorious, joyous set of weddings. One very happy nephew and niece are honeymooning on a tropical beach, and more importantly (to me), a very happy son and daughter are settling in to life before heading off in the autumn to Italy - and a beach. Their wedding pictures include many of us in full wedding regalia wiggling our bare toes in the sand - on a beach. And as I finally have a chance to check out my geneablogger world, to see what's been happening while I've been on autopilot, I am writing this on my last day in a cottage nestled in the dunes - above that same beach.

So it was quite a kick this morning to start dipping into the blogs and find Carol's beach reverie at Reflections From the Fence which led me to Sharing a Slice of Life. Most of what I've done here has been a family history variety of what Lisa so perfectly labeled 'show and tell' - especially this summer of weddings.  And that is my goal.  But texasblu's prompts open the memory floodgates and the most amazing images and snippets flow by.  I may not post each week, but I can't imagine a better way to start or finish my day than sipping something appropriate to the hour and letting the memories she prompts wash over me.  Well, maybe not the Bug prompt.  Don't want that washing over me - ever.

But beaches - those memories will flow forever.  I grew up on a New England beach, honeymooned on Virginia Beach (it is for lovers - until the hurricane warnings are posted and the Navy sails out to sea), watched my daughter take her first steps on a South Carolina beach (still littered with debris from another hurricane), dragged my children back to New England every summer to rocky and sandy beaches, watched them grow up (and marry!) on a Michigan beach where I sit now contemplating my return to a beachless home.  We will be back next summer, will walk a mile south of town and see this, and know we are still creating new memories.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Cobbler's forms

These shoe forms belonged to my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer.  He was a farmer and cobbler in Greene County, Tennessee.  His own family of 10 children kept his cobbling skills sharp, but he also bartered with his neighbors - exchanging shoes for milling, weaving and other services. 

Today the forms decorate a bookcase and act as a paperweight.

Cobbler's shoe forms, date unknown. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Selma Sawyer

Hallie Selma Sawyer

Aunt Selma was the fourth daughter and fourth child of Jehu Stokely (Gee) Sawyer and Catherine Conway.  She lived most of her life at the family home in Warrensburg, TN.  She was the family historian and one of the larger personalities in a family of large personalities.  Many of the photos I post come from her photo albums.    

Selma Sawyer, Photograph, c. 1918. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1997.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Morristown TN Social News, 1946, Part 2

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is part two (of three) of a transcription of selections from the “Society News and Personal Notes” column from the Morristown (TN) Gazette and Mail, Friday, May 24, 1946, page 3.  I have not transcribed the Daily Calendar, announcements of Evangelistic Services, Community Club meeting, Singing Convention meeting, the schedule for commencement at Morristown College and an announcement of Summer School that were listed in the column. 

Miss Mary Hickey, who will retire this year after serving for many years as teacher of the first grade in Rose School, was honored with a beautifully planned luncheon, on Thursday at one o’clock given by the staff of Rose at Mrs. Hayter’s, West Main.

The table was centered with a low arrangement of bright spring flowers and a delicious turkey menu was served to the honoree and the following teachers:  Misses Katty Gray, Edith Reese, Margaret Woods, Gladys Templin, Mary Nance, Reine Hale, Mesdames Lois Bales and Willie Kate Riggs.

On Wednesday afternoon, the mothers and pupils of he first grade at Rose tendered a picnic honoring Miss Hickey at the home of Mrs. Wilbur Noe in Lyn-Mar Hill.  Little Donna Noe is a member of this class.  The beautiful home and lawn provided an ideal setting for the congenial group.  Before adjournment, Miss Hickey was presented with a lovely gift as a tribute from her devoted pupils.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Greeting me each morning

This coaster, sitting beside my keyboard, holds my coffee each morning.  It has also held more than a few glasses of wine, sodas and smoothies.  It's made from the printer's plate for my grandparents' wedding announcements in 1925.  

It reads (in mirror image):

Mr. and Mrs. Reese Jackson Williams
announce the marriage of their daugher
Mr. Robert Porter Sawyer
on Thursday October the first
nineteen hundred and twenty-five
Portland Oregon

Coaster made from printer's plate, 1926. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Hricak Girls

Cousins Helen, Anna and Mary Hricak
Chicago, c. 1916

Helen, Anna and Mary Hricak, Photograph, c. 1916. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2007.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Morristown TN Social News, 1946, Part 1

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch for providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is part one (of three) of a transcription of selections from the “Society News and Personal Notes” column from the Morristown (TN) Gazette and Mail, Friday, May 24, 1946, page 3.  I have not transcribed announcements of the Daily Calendar, Evangelistic Services, Community Club meeting, Singing Convention meeting, the schedule for commencement at Morristown College and an announcement of Summer School that were listed in the column. 

– Society News and Person Notes –

Telephone 173
Note: News items for this column  should be telephoned in by 9:30 a. m. to insure publication same day.  All communications mailed in should be addressed “Social Editor,” Gazette and Mail, and signed.


     Sgt. L. E. Bacon received his discharge at Fort Bragg, N. C., recently, after twenty-five and a half months’ service with the U. S. Army Signal Corps.
     Mrs. Jack White of Whitesburg was a visitor in Morristown yesterday.
     Miss Stella Smith was the guest of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bless Smith of White Pine, Wednesday.
     Mrs. James Bunch has received word that her husband, Sgt. James T. Bunch, Jr., has arrived in the states after spending seventeen months in India.  Mrs. Bunch and little daughter, Brenda Sue have resided with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rich, during the absence of Sgt. Bunch.
     Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Marsh of Marshall, N. C., were visitors in this city Wednesday.
     Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cooper, Mrs. Kyle Everhart and daughters Betty Jean and Margaret Ann of Mohawk were visitors in Morristown Thursday.
     Mrs. and Mrs. Keith Burgner and Miss Helen Anderson returned Wednesday evening from Newark, Ohio were they were delightfully entertained for the past week as the guests of Dr. and Mrs. W. H. Bennett, formerly of Morristown.
     Mrs. Roy Range of Detroit, Mich., formerly of this city, is the guest of friends and relatives in Morristown.
     Friends of Guy Garrett will be interested to learn that he is much improved following an illness of several weeks.
     Misses Hermina Dickerson and Jennie Lea Helton will attend the graduation exercises at Sullins College in Bristol this week.  While there they will be the guest of Miss Jane Fagg who is a member of the graduating class.
     Lt. and Mrs. W. H. Garrett and little daughter, Tina of Albupuerque (sic), N. M., remain the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Garrett.
     Mrs. R. W. Johnson and son,
     Mrs. C. C. Cross, Mrs. L. W.
     Mrs. Robert Doggett and daughter, Jane of Nashville will arrive Sunday by motor to spend several days with her mother, Mrs. B. C. Weesner, before leaving for Lynchburg where they will be joined by Miss Roberta Doggett, student at Ranlolph-Macon (sic).  The three will continue to Washington City, touring the valley of Virginia en route.
     Mr. and Mrs. Everett Bowers and Mr. and Mrs. Herman Lovegrove enjoyed a delightful outing in the Smoky Mountain park near Gatlinburg on Sunday.
     Johnny were visitors in Knoxville yesterday.
     Nabers and Miss Mayme Williams composed a motor party to Greeneville and Tusculum yesterday.


Note:  The final two entries appear to be continuations of previous entries that were cut off.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Gee's Powder Horn

My great-grandfather Gee Sawyer used this powder horn as a young man after the Civil War in Cocke County, Tennessee.  I don't know if it was his father's before him, but I do know my grandfather used it growing up across the Nolichucky River in Greene County, close to Davy Crockett's old stomping grounds.

It belongs to my son now, though I am the caretaker.  He, too, used it as a boy, though on imaginary adventures.

Powder horn, 19th century. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1993.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Gee Sawyer & some of his girls


This photograph of Jehu Stokely (Gee) Sawyer (1855-1940) was taken in the late 1930s in front of his house in Warrensburg, TN.  His daughters Clevel Luttrell, Mary Kathryn Sawyer and Emma Sawyer are in the picture as well as a man I cannot identify.  He may be Hardin Luttrell (Clevel's husband). 

Jehu S. Sawyer & family, Photograph, c. 1938. Digital Image.  Privately held by Nolichucky Roots [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 1999.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Madness Monday: Smith or Jones?

There are some family lines I've avoided researching.  Take my husband's 3x great-grandfather, Joseph Jones.  Please (a nod to Henny Youngman).

Joseph Jones was born in 1821 (probably in TN) and was (probably) living in Jackson County, TN when he married Elizabeth Sneed on 29 Dec. 1840.  They moved to Crittenden County, KY before 1844 and to Montgomery County, IL in 1850.  Elizabeth died there in 1886.  Joseph remarried in 1887 and died in Montgomery County on 16 Dec 1898.

I did track down some other Joneses (imagine!) living in Montgomery County, IL at the same time he lived there and who seem to have followed a similar migration path of TN>KY>IL.  But so did tens of thousands of others - many of them named Jones.  I moved on to more promising areas of research.

However, when I was able to spend several days researching in Springfield, IL I included Joseph on my list of people to research.  It was a fruitful trip though I found nothing helpful on Joseph until I noticed another late 19th c. marriage license included parents' names on the reverse side.  I requested the film for his second marriage and crossed my fingers.  I had a brief flash of excitement when I saw the spaces filled out - a very brief flash.  There were his parents' names - John Jones and Patsy Smith.

Sigh.  I am actually quite interested in Joseph.  His daughter Cansada wrote to one of her granddaughters that her father's father was Haitian.  Cansada, who outlived four husbands, had at least one husband who was listed as mulatto in  Civil War records.  Descriptions of her father and brother suggest they could have been mixed race.  But I don't have the energy to track down a Jones - especially one who married a Smith.  I leave that to younger, better minds than mine.  Or until I have a good week in Jackson County, TN.