Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Evening the score!

John Goolman Davidson was my 5th great-grandfather.
I have no idea where the name "Goolman" came from, but nearly everyone and everything references this as a middle name.

It has not been proven whether he was born here or in Ireland, but he resided his entire life in the state of  Virginia.  He and Mr. Bailey built the Davidson-Bailey Fort near what is now Bluefield College, Tazewell Co., Virginia.  It is likely that he traveled down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, along with thousands of other Scots-Irish.

John  was a cooper -- a barrel and firkin maker by trade.  He was apparently quite successful at his trade, for he had nearly $800 on his person when he was killed.
Firkin, which held 112 English hundredweight.

Apparently John had an enemy.  A man by the name of Mr. Rice had stolen a hog from him, and the case ended up in court.  He was ordered to pay John Davidson $8 for the hog, plus forty lashes save one, which did not go over well with Mr. Rice.  On a low scale, the equivalent would be near $200 today.

Mr. Rice vowed he would get revenge.

And, he did.

John had some business to take care of Rockbridge Co., Virginia, where he had formerly lived.  He collected money that was due him in the amount of $800 and headed for home.  Heading through Rocky Gap, he passed by a family on his way to Rockbridge County, but the same family did not see him return.

People soon went to look for him.  First, they found his hatband.  Then, they found where he had fed his horses.

Then, they found him.

His body was found at the base of a tree, where the blade of a hatchet had been struck into a white oak tree.  A gun rested on the hatchet.  Underneath those items was a fresh carving that said;

John's nude body was in bad condition and was buried there on the spot where it was found.  It was determined he died 
8 Mar 1793,
and a report was made to the governor.  It included several other massacres and captures, included that of Virginia "Jenny" Wiley.

 Several years later, a brass stirrup was found, it being recognized as belonging to John Goolman Davidson.

I love to visit the lands where my ancestors lived, and this one was no different.  So, I began to look for clues that would take me to the place where this tragedy occurred.  At the time, the only accounts I had were from 1933.

Mr. Kerry and our four children were taking a trip through the southern states, and I mentioned that I would like to swing through that part of Virginia and perhaps look around the area.  I stopped at the Kegley Room of Wytheville College, Wytheville, Wythe Co., Virginia.  It is a wonderful resource for southwestern Virginia, and the people were as helpful as any I would find.

One of the librarians and I spent quite a bit of time pouring over old maps from the area.  But remember, the directions I had were from 1933!

Finally, he said that it wasn't likely I was going to find the area on one of their maps, but perhaps some of the locals could help me.  He pointed us in the directions he felt good about, told us to be careful, and off we went.

We pulled up to a General Store.  I knew what was coming.  My people are from the south, but my husband and children are not.  So, I told them to sit still until I returned.  (Let me point out that I love my southern roots, but they must not be rushed.  You have to win people over, especially if you appear to be "foreign".

After some small talk about the garden, the hound dog on the front porch, asking about everyone's Mama, I finally asked them about John Goolman Davidson.  I had heard there may be a DAR headstone for him, and I would like to know if they had seen it.

"Law, honey!  My brother runs over it with his pick-up truck ever mornin' on his way to work!  It's just right up the road a piece."

Good grief.
This poor man gets robbed.
He gets killed by Indians (presumably hired by "Rice")
Then, he gets run over by a pick-up truck every morning.

The kids were hanging out the windows, and Kerry was just hoping I was still alive.  I directed him 'up the road a piece', and off we went.

We found it.
Can you see how close is it to the road?  
A pick-up truck actually drove past when I was taking this photo, and I had to swing my hips in to keep from getting clobbered.

And, the date we stood at this stone was 8 Mar 1993.  
That was not planned.
Not at all.

After a few moments, Kerry took the kids back to the van to allow me some time alone there at the stone.  It's on the border of West Virginia/Virginia, but it would have been Virginia at the time.

I looked at the hills...the same hills he would have seen just before he died.
I looked at the sky...the same sky he was looking at when he died.
I looked at the creek meandering through this small valley...perhaps coursing its way in the same path two hundred years earlier.
I looked at the trees...perhaps not the very same trees he saw.  
But, maybe some of them were.

So again, I have walked not just where ancestors lived and were buried, but where they actually died.

And, I saw what they saw.

Some backup sources:

Johnston, David E., A History of the Middle New River Settlements, 1906.

Rice, Patricia, Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, 1968.

Schreiner-Yantis, Netti, Archives of the Pioneers of Tazewell Co., VA, pp 302-310

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Standing where Levi stood

My mother's great-grandfather's name was Levi Wheeler Cline, who lived most of his life in Elliott Co., Kentucky.  Though my mother was only two years old when he died, she can still recount the stories her father told of growing up with Levi and his wife, Alcie [Ailsey, Alice], who had died four years earlier.
There are three men named Levi Wheeler Cline in the area of Elliott Co., Kentucky.  Whether this is our Levi or not is not yet determined.

Several years ago, my sisters and I, along with our Aunt Betty, decided to visit the cemetery where Levi and Alcie are buried, and to see if there were any tombstones we had missed.  We had been to the same cemetery years earlier, but parts of it were overgrown.

I discovered the tombstone of my mother's grandmother, who died just eight years after her young husband, Richard Stephens, leaving four young boys.  Her parents, Levi and Alcie would end up raising those boys, plus another one she had when she remarried.

This picture of Richard Stephens and Ida Mae Cline was taken through the glass, and still hangs in my aunt and uncle's home.

Levi's stone is there, but I couldn't find Alcie's anywhere.  Notice the Masonic symbol on his gravestone.

So, on this trip I took with my sisters and my aunt, I decided it might be good to see if his house was still remaining.  We were certainly close to the property, and my aunt believed if we went in a certain direction we may just happen upon it.

It involved driving across a field

And, across that field came two men in a pick-up truck, complete with deer hooves on the back window and shotguns.

"Whatchall doing down here?"

My sisters froze.  My aunt stayed quiet.

In my best Kentucky twang, I told them were were looking for my Mama's family, and asked what their Mama's name was.

After a bit more talking, they took us over a hill to a run-down house that they declared was indeed Levi Wheeler Cline's house that he had built with his own hands.

I was standing on property that belonged to my great-grandfather that he had built with his own hands.  Try to look past the condition of it now, and look at what type of home it would have been then.

I am just fascinated at the work it took to saw those logs and chink them against winter's chill.

One of the "good ol' boys" asked if I would like to go inside.  Sure!!  Then, he went back to the pick-up truck, reached under the seat, grabbed a pistol, and said, "Come on!"

Okay, now wait a minute.  If you're getting your pistol, I'm getting mine.  He said to me not to worry, that it was just for copperheads.  That's fine.  Here's my camera.

He came back out with a brick that was from his hand-built fireplace!!!

I feel very strongly about being able to stand where our ancestors stood, looking at the same hills and skies that they did.  The trees were probably not the same ones, but everything else was, including the cemetery.

Become proficient in land records, so you can do the same!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Tiniest Level of Research - A Local Historical Society

I recently spent part of a Sunday afternoon at a local historical society near to where I live.
The Butler Museum is located in the small town of Butler, Richland Co., Ohio.  It is located just 14 miles south of Mansfield, the largest city in Richland County, and the county seat.

A friend of ours has been elected Vice-President of the Historical Society, and began telling me of all of the items that are available in this tiny society.  So, even though I have absolutely no relatives in this part of the state, I knew I just had to look.  It took us less than fifteen minutes to drive there.

Let me take you on a tour of some things I found.

Books!!! Clerk's Account Books, Criminal Dockets, and a few others that are behind glass, and very fragile.  We did find the keys and opened up a few.

A resident of the town had a huge bank collection.  Here is a beehive all the way from the Beehive State of Utah.  It was made in Ogden.  Now, how in the world did it find its place here in central Ohio?

I would have loved to look through the collection of old Bibles in the glass case.  

These books are historical records from Butler Village.  They are old, dating back to the early 1900's.

In the basement is this beautifully preserved Chrysler.  The Weekly Car Dealership has been there for years, and was a place my father would go to for his car purchase.  This car is just sitting there gleaming.

And, right beside that beautiful Chrysler is a wagon and a carriage, in perfect condition.

The above photos are among several ledgers from the Clerk's Fund Account.  They are filled with names of residents of the Village.

In the back room of the basement, there are plastic airtight containers with dozens of collections similar to the above.  Look at the one marked "Floyd Wise Diaries".  I don't even know who Floyd Wise is.  But, this container was filled with his diaries.

One of the famous residents of this area was Cyrus "Cy" Gatton.  Rick Sowash did a wonderful one-man rendition of his life.  Here he is, pictured with his wife Mary.

Dr. Betty Reed was a prominent physician in this community, and came from a long line of doctors.  She was also a wonderful genealogist, and visited us at the Family History Center often.  A special display greets you when you first enter the building, honoring this great woman.

There is also a container in the basement housing some of her records.  Have you ever looked for physician's records in your areas of research?

I didn't get this book out of the cabinet, but when I return I want to know just what kind of licenses were recorded in this volume.

There is a cumulative list of all of those old books behind the glass doors.

I don't know why a Mansfield Directory from 1908-09 would be in this town 14 miles to the south.

A very interesting display caught my eye on the first floor.  The Mt. Sinai Evangelical Church has several pages of subscriptions, which include names and amounts.  I'm going to have to find out more about subscriptions.

The newspaper collection fascinated me!  Some of them date back to 1860!!  That's before the Civil War began.  The ones I saw are in archival boxes in between archival sheets for their protection.

Little baby Frances, age 6 months, is all decked out in a beautiful little gown.  It was housed in a beautiful album, and names were on the back of nearly every photo I looked at.

This may be a bit difficult to read, but it a photo of the parents of Cyrus "Cy" Gatton, who is mentioned above.

The photos were found in this beautiful album.  The cover is like a hard plastic, and unfortunately detaches from the album.  But, they have kept it all together.

Wow!  This is a panoramic photograph from the neighboring town of Bellville.  I believe it was dated 1909.  It shows the gazebo in the background, as well as several buildings that are still standing.  There are hundreds of citizens in the photo.

I love looking through school records.  I was even asked to be an instructor for on school records.  Have you seen it?

These are old history books of Richland County.

I knew the above would be a gold mine when I saw the tattered edges.  It's a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1929 for Mansfield!  Again, I don't know how it found its home here.

Little wooden replicas of all of the schools that were in the area!!!  

Did I mention how much I love school records?

Now, why would I be so excited about a tiny historical society in an area that I have no relatives in?  Because these little societies exist everywhere.  
We are all familiar with the big internet sites that help us fill in so many blanks.
We are also familiar with state libraries and archives where we can glean through books and microfilms.

But, don't leave out the tiny places where you just might find information unavailable anywhere else.  I'm unsure if the above books also have copies in other places.  And, since this is not an ancestral area for me, I probably won't look.  

But, you can bet that I will be digging into historical societies like this when I am on my next genealogy trip!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Today I am grateful for parents that taught me preparedness.
My parents instilled something in me from the time I was just a little girl, just as it had been instilled in them by their parents. The lesson was to be prepared.
They taught me skills that could be beneficial to me in case of a crisis. And, a crisis could be anything -- from a power outage, to an attack, to a truck strike, to unemployment, to just about anything.
Let me tell you some things they taught me:
1. Both of them taught me how to cook over an open fire, both outside and in a fireplace. It takes some skill to cook in cast iron and not burn everything on the outside, leaving it raw on the inside.
Malabar Farm hosts a Thanksgiving meal each year that the participants cook themselves over open fires.  I am stirring a kettle of potato soup with sausage and kale.
2. Mom taught me how to survive in the woods if I ever became lost. She taught me what I could eat, what to stay away from, and even how to build a shelter.
Kerry and I went hiking on Backbone Mountain in Maryland a few years ago.

Once, when we were in the holler behind her parents' house, she was showing me these things, and issued a warning; that if I were to ever begin smelling something like a cucumber or a very, very still. Why? Because a copperhead may be near by.
I laughed at her.
Until a couple of years later when we were walking. I smelled a cucumber like it had just been cut. I turned around to say something to her and she motioned to be still. She pointed her head to the right, and there indeed was a copperhead, coiled. Read to strike.
Mom always had a walking stick and a few rocks in her pocket. Without moving, she reached in for a rock, flicked it, and totally decapitated that snake.
I died. I never laughed at her again.
3. Both mom and dad taught me how to shoot. They set up targets and wouldn't let me go until I had satisfied them. Later, when I got my CCW, I blew away the center of the targets. The instructor and other students said, "Dang! Who taught you how to shoot?" My Kentucky mama.
4. They always had a big garden, Jack-in-the-Beanstalk style. When everyone else's gardens would be drying up and failing, their's flourished. Mom planted leftover smelt (fish) in the corn and bean hills one year, and every doggone cat in the neighborhood was in that garden!

Mom always wore her bonnets in the garden or when working in her flowers.  
They hang in my house today.
5. They preserved everything they grew. I spent my childhood snapping beans, peeling apples, cutting corn, making ketchup, apple butter, applesauce, etc. Someone once asked me if I was afraid to eat something canned. Are you kidding me? I knew what went in the jar!
6. To be prepared to evacuate. A 72-hour kit wasn't really called that when I was young, but we had something to keep us going in a catastrophe. Depending on the government to help us was not ever mentioned, and was absolutely not an option. Take care of your own self.
7. Cook from scratch. Look at what you have on the shelf and make something out of it. Don't go running for convenience foods that has unidentifiable stuff in it.
8. Learn how to hide. My parents stuffed me up into a fireplace when a rash of tornadoes came barreling through our part of Ohio. They pulled the dining room table up close and stayed underneath it while I was in a safer place in the sturdy fireplace well. We had no basement.
9. Keep kerosene lamps filled with oil to spare. Keep wicks. Don't use scented candles, for the odors will all mix together and give you a headache. Mom always turned all of the lights out on Christmas eve, just having the tree lights and kerosene lamps on. I still do it to this day.
10. Be prepared to help your neighbor. They might not have been taught as well as you have.
And so, I still do these things. I don't can as much as I used to, but I can recall Kerry and the kids and I looking at over 800 jars of food we had put up as a family. Everyone had their part.
I thank my parents for teaching me these "old-fashioned" ways, for they learned from their parents, who learned from their parents...