Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FGS 2012 - Tuesday

From the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Birmingham, Alabama:

Just because this post has "Tuesday" in the title is no guarantee there will be a post here every day from FGS. Keeping up with blogging along with everything else going on at a conference is sometimes impossible - at least for me.

After a little research this morning in Morgan County, Alabama and an 80 mile drive from there to Birmingham, I arrived at the conference hotel about 1:00 and was pleased to get checked right into my room. The rest of the day was spent running into old friends and meeting new ones, picking up the registration packet and attending the FamilySearch Blogger Dinner.

Paul Nauta, Public Affairs Manager for FamilySearch
FamilySearch is offering a special early registration discount for RootsTech 2013 at FGS but you don't have to be in Birmingham to get in on the deal. From 8/28 - 9/1 (2012) RootsTech registration is available for $119 (a $100 savings). Just go to and enter the promotional code blog119 to get the reduced rate.

In other news:

FamilySearch recently added several Alabama record groups including Alabama County Marriages, 1809-1950, Alabama County Probate Records 1830-1976 and the Alabama State Census for 1855 & 1866.

FamilySearch's free online research help now includes over 500 courses, 66,000 wiki articles, live free research assistance for beginners and community Skype and Facebook groups.

Everyone in the genealogy community surely knows by now that the 1940 U. S. Census Community Indexing project was a huge success but the need for volunteer indexers didn't stop the day the 1940 census was completed. The new indexing focus is directed toward U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Records. The 1940 U. S. Census consisted of 3.5 million records with 132 million names. 165,000 volunteers completed the index in 4.5 months. In comparison, there are 200 million U. S. Immigration & Naturalization Records containing 500 million names. With only 50,000 volunteers currently working on that project it will take four years to complete. There is also a push to index 115 million Italian records containing 500 million names but that project only has 800 volunteers. At that rate, it will take 30 years to complete. The need for indexers continues to be great.

Speaking of the 1940 U. S. Census project, 434 societies participated in that effort by indexing 15.2 million records and arbitrating 6.6 million. The accuracy rate for indexers attached to those societies was 98%!

Plans for the future, in addition to digitizing more records every day, include making online records easier to use, adding functionality for alternative spelling and other user index correction capabilities and having more complementary projects with partners.


Thanks to FamilySearch for another enjoyable and informative evening.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Uncle Hartford and Uncle Doc Were Recording Artists

And. A few of their recordings are available at iTunes! Karl & HartyDoc Hopkins.

Maybe I should back up a little and start this story about 85 years ago.

Karl & Harty were Karl Davis and Hartford Taylor who both grew up in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. They starting singing together in the 1920s and formed a group called the Krazy Kats along with another Rockcastle Countian, Doc Hopkins. In the early 1930s all three moved to Chicago to pursue their music careers and became part of a musical act called the Cumberland Ridge Runners. Most of the musicians who were members of the Cumberland Ridge Runners also had separate recording contracts and performed individually (or in the case of Karl & Harty, as a duet) in addition to performing with the group as regulars on the WLS National Barn Dance.

Over the years the membership of the Cumberland Ridge Runners changed but at one time or another Linda Parker, Red Foley, Slim Miller, Shelby Jean Davis, Hugh Cross and Lula Belle were also part of the act. John Lair, who later returned to Rockcastle County and started the Renfro Valley Barn dance (which still operates today), was the announcer and manager of the group.

Hartford was my grandmother's brother. Doc was my grandfather's brother. I grew up hearing about their music careers and always thought it was interesting that both of my maternal grandparents had a singing brother. I never met Uncle Hartford. He died in 1963 at age 58. Uncle Doc visited Kentucky several times that I remember - the last time for a Hopkins family reunion in the 1970s. He died in 1988 less than a month before his 88th birthday.  

For more of Karl & Harty and Doc, see tay09tay90's YouTube Channel.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What's Your Ancestral Name Number?

I haven't played Randy Seaver's SNGF in months but since I took a peak at these numbers yesterday (after seeing posts by Julie Cahill Tarr and Judy Russell), it seemed like a good idea to take a closer look.

Here's my chart:

2nd great-grandparents
3rd great-grandparents
4th great-grandparents
5th great-grandparents
6th great-grandparents
7th great-grandparents
That works out to 15.9% found or 860 ancestors missing.

That one missing 2nd great-grandparent has bugged me for a long time. I have a name but I didn't count him because there is no proof that he is the father of my great-grandfather - just a family story that I've poked enough holes in to wonder if there is any truth to it. The good news is there's a Y-DNA test being processed as we speak that could provide some answers (or bring up more questions). Sixty of those other missing ancestors are because of this one.

The 860 missing ancestors multiply from 63 spots in my tree that are either blank or only a first name for a female. Of those 63 lines, four stop in Pennsylvania, four in New Jersey and one in Rhode Island. The trail for the remaining 54 runs cold in the south. A few of these people are brick walls but, the truth is, most of these "ends of lines" exist because I haven't done any significant work on them.

Another truth is that I would like to make some progress on those 3rd and 4th great-grandparents but I'm unlikely to ever get to many of those missing 5th, 6th or 7th greats. I've spent more time the past few years on filling in the details about the lives of the people already identified than trying to take their lines back another generation. And there is still plenty of work to do in that effort.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Newspapers: Eugene Taylor on Leave from Panama

Sometimes newspapers can answer a question you didn't even think to ask.
"Miss Emma Taylor came home from Stanford Saturday, to see her cousin, Eugene Taylor, who has been in Panama."
"Mrs. Fred Krueger was hostess at dinner Sunday in honor of her brother, Eugene Taylor.
Covers were laid for the following guest:
Mr. and Mrs. App Taylor, of Brodhead, Misses Emma Taylor and Risse McFerron, Messrs. Logue and Eugene Taylor, Mrs. Taylor and Mr. and Mrs. Krueger. All report an enjoyable time."
These two clips are from the 13 Sep 1918 edition of the Mt. Vernon Signal in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. As soon as I saw them, my mind went to the photo below. 

That is Eugene on the left and my grandmother, Emma, on the right. Next to Eugene is their Uncle Bob Taylor. The other man is unidentified but I wonder if he could be Eugene's brother-in-law, Fred Krueger. [He doesn't look like any of the Taylor men and, according to Fred's WWI draft registration, he was medium height but we'll probably never know for sure.]

Since Eugene spent his career in the U. S. Army, he was not home very often. This picture must have been taken that weekend in 1918 although not at the dinner his sister hosted on Sunday - Uncle Bob wasn't there. 

The other dinner party guests (in relation to Eugene) were:
Mr and Mrs. App Taylor - Eugene's uncle, App, and App's wife, Susie
Miss Rissie McFerron - Eugene's niece (daughter of hostess, Susie Taylor Krueger)
Logue Taylor - Eugene's brother, Logan
Mrs. Taylor - Eugene's mother, Mary Elizabeth Fletcher Taylor

Photo courtesy of Gayle Evans. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Samantha Rented Out Part of Her House

The first time I looked at this 1940 census record, I didn't see the other household living at my great-grandmother's address.

Samantha Hankins lived at 704 Broadway in Madisonville, Kentucky - the same house where her husband, Lee, died in 1929. Her nineteen year old grandson, Jewel, lived with her. Betty Kirkwood and her son, Ruby Earl, are listed as a separate household but their house number is also 704. It shows that Samantha owned the house, valued at $1,500, and Kirkwood paid $5 a month rent.

Samantha's son, John, died in 1923 and his wife, Gertie, died just two years later in 1925. Jewel and his older sister, Helen, were four and 11 years old when they went to live with their grandparents after their mother's death. Four years later, their grandfather died leaving Samantha as a 68 year old widow with two children and no apparent source of income. I've often wondered how she managed. Five dollars a month income still doesn't answer that question.

That's Lee and Samantha's house in the background of the above photo. The lady is their neighbors' daughter. The houses on West Broadway have since been renumbered. When I drove by in 2005 and took the photo below of the house, the number was 440.

First photo courtesy of Sue London, Jewel's niece.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Newspapers: Car Scared Horse, Caused Buggy Accident

The things you can learn from old newspapers!  

From The Mt. Vernon Signal
Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky
24 Aug 1917
"About 4:30, Friday afternoon, a very bad accident occured on Dixie Highway. Misses Lena, Gracie and Emma Taylor were on their way home from the funeral of Mrs. Hariett Burdette, when Claude Griffin's car scared the horse, which they were driving, causing him to throw the girls under the buggy. The horse began to run and dragged the buggy a short distance. The buggy was torn to pieces but the girls were not seriously hurt. The horse was scratched up a little."
Emma Taylor was my grandmother. I don't believe she ever told us this story. My mother and my aunt don't remember hearing it either. 

Mamaw was two months from turning 17 years old at the time of this accident. Gracie was her older half-sister and Lena was her first cousin. Hariett (Ramsey) Burdette, whose funeral they had attended, was Gracie's aunt.

Chronicling America, Mt. Vernon Signal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ralph's Birthday

Ralph and his mother, Verda McCauley
Ralph Raymond McCauley was born 80 years ago today. 

Ralph was the youngest of my paternal grandparents' (John William McCauley and Verda Waller Hankins) 11 children and he lived a short 10 months and 22 days. This is the only picture I've found of him. It's from Aunt Liz's collection and the original has "Mama and Ralph" written on the back in her handwriting. A few have questioned that it could be Ralph because my grandmother looks too old to have a baby. Keep in mind that she was 47 years old when Ralph was born and already experiencing the chronic heart problems that caused her death in 1942. I'm sure Aunt Liz knew the baby was Ralph.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is this little girl's birthday.
This photo was taken about 1937.
That's all I'm saying. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Turns Out Aunt Lillie Didn't Marry Jack Young

Yes, I'm writing about my grandfather's sister, Lillie Vashti Lanier, again. Frankly, I'm fascinated by her for many reasons and her apparent five marriages aren't even at the top of that list. But this is not just another post about Lillie; it is also about how making assumptions without all of the available facts can send you down the wrong road. I knew better but that did not stop me.

I knew from Lillie's death certificate that she was buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta so when I was planning a trip there in the fall of 2010 I decided to visit her grave. I was surprised to learn from the cemetery office that Lillie and her last husband, James H. Dixon, were buried in a plot with J. W. and Mattielaine Young. There is a "Young" marker in the center of the plot with Lillie and James buried on one side and J. W. and Mattielaine on the other. J. W. died first in 1929, James next in 1951 then Mattielaine in 1967 and finally Lillie in 1987.

Who were these people? Why were Lillie and James buried with them?

Even though Lillie lived until 1987, I didn't know her. But I've corresponded and talked with a 2nd cousin, once removed who did. In my notes from various e-mail and phone conversations, I found mention of someone Lillie called "Mother Young." This Mattielaine Young had to be Mother Young then, right? 

Right. (I'm not going in the wrong direction, yet.)

Further contact with my cousin revealed that her aunt (and my 2nd cousin) remembered hearing that Lillie was once married to someone named Jack Young and "Mother Young" was, of course, his mother.

A check of the 1910 census in Fulton County, Georgia found James W. Young and his wife, Mattielene, living at 59 McDaniel Street in Atlanta. Living with them were three children: Jewell Young (daughter, age 12, born in Georgia), Jack Young (son, age 12, born in Georgia) and Roy Young (son, age 10, born in Georgia) and several boarders. There he was - Lillie's future husband, Jack Young!

James and Mattielene had only been married three months so, obviously, she was the children's step-mother. The record shows that Mattielene was the mother of three children, two living at that time. I wondered for a second where her two children were since they were probably too young to be on their own but that wasn't important. I'd found Jack Young. (This is where I started making that wrong turn.)

I found James and Mattielaine in 1920 - still in Atlanta but now at 31 South Gordon Street. James's son, Roy, was living with them but Jack and Jewel were not. I didn't find Jack (with or without Lillie) anywhere in 1920. Oh well, at least I knew that they had once been married and, regardless of what happened to Jack, Lillie remained close to his step-mother for the rest of her life

I recently found Lillie and James Dixon in the 1940 census and learned that they lived in New Orleans in 1935. I started searching for her again in 1930 and this time I found her. In New Orleans. With yet another name. That left 1920 as the only census record missing so I took another look at what I "knew" about Jack Young. 

This time I checked the 1900 census and was surprised to find J. W. Young with his first wife, Maude, and their son, Roy, living at the same 59 McDaniel Street address where James and Mattielaine lived in 1910. But where were Jack and Jewel? 

Uh, oh. Those two living children of Mattielaine's in 1910 started looking more interesting. What if they were just incorrectly listed with their step-father's name in 1910? Why didn't that occur to me two years ago? 

Finding Mattielaine's previous married name was fairly easy - thanks to marriage records at Georgia's Virtual Vault. J. W. Young married Mrs. M. Smith on 26 Dec 1909 in Fulton County. It didn't take long to find William A. and Mattieline Smith in the 1900 census. They lived in a boarding house at 25 Houston Street in Atlanta with two children: Jasper D. Smith (son, age 1, born Jun 1898 in Georgia) and Jewel M. Smith (daughter, age 1, born Jun 1898 in Georgia). Of course, I'm making assumptions again - their relationships were all "boarder" - but those are the children in the Young household with Mattielaine in 1910. (William was a physician, odd that they lived in a boarding house. Wonder what the story is there?)

So. Lillie didn't marry Jack Young because he didn't exist. She married Jasper D. Smith who went by the nickname Jack. (I have more questions for my 2nd cousin but haven't been able to get in touch yet.)

With the correct name, I was sure I'd find Jasper and Lillie in 1920 but they are still hiding from me.

Jasper might not even be living by 1920. Lillie had one child who died very young. It's possible the child's father also died around the same time. If Jasper was the father of Lillie's child and they both died, that would certainly explain the bond that held Lillie and Mattielaine together through all of those years and Lillie's later marriages. 

But I'm trying to stop making so many assumptions. I'll just keep looking.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maybe Aunt Lillie Enjoyed Weddings

She was married five times. At least.

A couple of weeks ago, I said my grandfather's sister, Lillie Vashti Lanier, was married at least four times and that I hadn't found her in 1920 or 1930 census records. When I threw that "at least" in there it wasn't so much because I believed she'd been married more. It was just because there are gaps in her life that I don't know anything about so I couldn't be sure four was it.

After learning from the 1940 census that Lillie was living in New Orleans in 1935, I took a closer look at the 1930 census. And I finally found her. With a new surname.

Lillie Manning lived at 2418 Amelia Street in New Orleans. As luck would have it, a couple of relatives were living with her - that's the only way I knew this was my Lillie. Her older sister, Hettie McRae (listed as Hattie MacRae), and Hettie's son, Jack White, were listed as roomer and lodger. Lillie and Hettie were both widows. All three were working: Lillie as a cashier in a hotel, Hettie for Crystaline Company and Jack as a sign painter.

I'm still looking for Lillie in 1920 but the current list of her husbands looks like this:

1. Jesse Walls: Lillie and Jesse were married in Fulton County, Georgia on 26 Feb 1910. According to the 1910 census, they lived in Atlanta, Georgia at 9 Carroll Pl. Her mother (Nancy Jane Lanier), sister (Sallie Belle Dial) and niece (Dorothy Dial) lived with them. 

2. Jack Young: Jack requires a post all his own (coming soon), mostly to explain how I went wrong with him. 

3. Mr. Roberts: Lillie's last name was Roberts at the time of her mother's death according to the obituary published in the LaGrange Reporter in LaGrange, Georgia on 14 Oct 1926. 

4. Mr. Manning: Lillie's last name was Manning in the 1930 census. Mr. Manning was apparently deceased.

5. James Henry Dixon: Lillie married James in 1935 and he was her last husband. Well, at least, Dixon was her last name when she died in 1987 (36 years have his death) and she's buried beside him. 

I really wish I'd known Aunt Lillie.