Thursday, August 30, 2007

Peeps Genealogy

What an interesting little video!

Related to President Zachary Taylor or Not?

There are a lot of family legends that have been handed down over the years through many of our lines. When I was growing up, I'd always heard that we were related to President Zachary Taylor through my great grandmother Laura Lucy Taylor Lantz. I must confess that when I first began to try to research the family history that I didn't quite know what I did now so my methodology was quite poor. "I knew" we were related to the President because I'd always heard it was so. [There was no concrete evidence--just the family tradition. I never for a moment doubted that we were related.] I was absolutely delighted to discover that Zachary's genealogy had been done so I began looking at the various compiled genealogies of the president. I never could figure out how Laura could possibly fit in. I decided someone must have left off a line on the tree or something. I filed it away to explore some other day.

I had developed more genealogy prowess and discrimination by the time I revisited this line. My first break on the line came through a query I placed online. I don't remember at this point if I had already discovered that Laura's father was Stephen Taylor of McLean County, Illinois at that point or not, but the gentleman who answered my query was able to tell me about Stephen and his brothers. As I began to explore Laura's immediate family, I discovered that one of Laura's brothers was named Zachary Taylor. So - we were related to Zachary Taylor, but it wasn't President Zachary Taylor.

Now . . . there is also a mystery regarding Stephen Taylor's father Stephen Taylor. This southeastern Ohio resident is said to have died in Detroit in 1814 during the War of 1812. I've found nothing to support this claim YET. (I haven't even found him on a list of troups.) There is a letter that was written by a lady in a historical society in that area to a relative from an earlier generation who was researching this. She claims that there was also a creek named after him in southeastern Ohio. I really need to take the time to work on that part of the legend because I'd certainly love to locate the creek. It's just been lower priority for me. I need to do further research on this line, but I need to make a trip to a repository with better southeastern Ohio records to do so. The counties of Washington, Athens, and Morgan are the ones that seem to bear the most significance for the family. They were in Ohio County, Virginia (now West Virginia) prior to this.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I would like to challenge everyone who is outraged with's recent actions to get on board FamilySearchIndexing's project and help index "the vault" in Salt Lake City. The sooner we get this done, the less dependent we become upon The Generations Network! I was motivated to do an extra 100 records tonight!

. . . and to reward my efforts, my very first batch gave me a chuckle on the very first record. In the city of Portland, Maine, there is a James Butler who is a butler by occupation!

. . . and in the next batch, I had my first person of Syrian descent!

Update: I was so motivated that I did 200 records in 1 hour 15 minutes!

Update again: AnceStories has a great post about's two-faced approach in the light of recent actions.

Update (8/29): They've removed the collection for now. Dear Myrtle also has a good post. I still don't like Ancestry's statement which said it is removed "for now." To me, that implies that they plan to put it back up later. If they are an ethical company, they won't put it back up. If they aren't an ethical company, I don't want to do business with them.

Update (8/30): Let me try to make it clear that I do not have a problem with paying for database access to collections although I think there are some that are overpriced when you compare these to what their competitors are charging. My objection is that they were stealing intellectual property.

Someone else was also more motivated to do FamilySearchIndexing!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Watching the Eagles

The academic year has begun again. I have quite a few football players in my classes so I'm watching them tonight on CSS. It's too hot to watch it live from the stadium! It's 3rd quarter, and they are leading 24-14. They are playing Virginia State. GO EAGLES!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Alton Brown Feasts on the Mississippi Asphalt - Part II

Last Saturday, I wrote on Alton Brown's food tour through Mississippi. He continues his journey tonight with the Soul Food Survivor episode of Feasting on Asphalt 2.

His first stop was at Doe's Eat Place in Greenville where he had their famous tamales. The restaurant even has a copy of the Delta Democrat Times article about Alton's visit on their site. This restaurant has earned all sorts of recognition in food circles recently.

His next stop on the "Tamale Trail" was Joe's White Front Cafe in Rosedale. The restaurant is famous for its tamales, but he tried one of the koolickles (kool-aid pickles). He said the sweetness was not overwhelming. The rest of his crew seemed to like it. Then he tried one of the corn husk tamales there. (The Greenville tamales used parchment instead of corn husks and double-tied them instead of single tying them.) There's also a very interesting oral history of how Joe's sister Barbara is carrying on the family tradition.

He crossed the Helena bridge and went into Arkansas. He'll be finishing up in Memphis, so I guess this is it for the Mississippi foods.

This episode will air multiple times this week.

Carnival of Genealogy #30

It's here. There are a couple of new-to-me bloggers so I look forward to exploring their blogs. The next carnival will be hosted by GeneaBlogie and the topic will be Confirm or Debunk: Family Myths, Legends, and Lore. (The full call is at the bottom of the Carnival.) Now I just have to decide which story to tell! LOL

NARA Fee Increases . . .

They are going up in October, but there is good news -- they aren't quite as high as the original proposals!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chair for Booklovers

I love this chair and stool that Kimbooktu blogged. I just wish she'd given links to where one can purchase them! I want to know how much they cost!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An Odd Marriage . . .

baseball and knitting. I actually can't imagine trying to knit, cross stitch, embroider, or crochet in a ballpark while watching a game. What happens when you drop a needle, your scissors, your hook, etc.? On the other hand that project might be just the thing to catch the homerun or foul ball hit into the stands.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Would You Want Christmas to Always Be on a Monday?

Or New Year's Eve to be on a non-specified day of the week? Or your birthday to always be celebrated on the same day of the week? Under a new proposal, that's what would happen. Leap year day would be celebrated on a non-specified day of the week between June and July every 4 years. February would have 30 days. The number of days in March, May, and August would be reduced to 30. New Year's day would always fall on a Sunday. (Thanks to LaDonna Gardner for pointing out this interesting proposal.)

I just hope that it isn't adopted. I love picking out new calendars. I'd get tired of the same pictures year after year. Under this proposal, my birthday would always be on a Saturday. How boring! Can you imagine the amount of computer programming that it would take to accommodate such a proposal? I don't think it will be implemented by 2012 for that very reason alone. I hope it's never implemented.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Martin V. Thornton - Mother's Pension

I received this much-awaited file in today's mail, but I'm left asking one big question. Is Agnes the mother of James M. Thornton? Why am I now questioning this conclusion that has seemed correct for so long? It's because in the pension file, there is sworn testimony that Agnes lost 3 sons in the Union Army and a 4th son en route to join the Union Army. The exact statement is:

She had two sons who was married in the Union army and they died while in the service. She lost three sons in the Union army and one was killed by the rebels trying to get to the Union army and he left a helpless family . . .

I know that I will need to gather additional evidence to prove James M.'s relationship as son to Richard and Agnes because this file greatly weakens support for this statement, but I still believe it to be true. Maybe it is only because I want to believe that I haven't been barking up the wrong tree all these years, but I believe that she (and her neighbors) lied to get a pension. Why? Because there are no additional Thorntons in the 1st Alabama Cavalry (or its preceding Tennessee regiment) that could be the 3rd deceased Thornton. There is also no mention made of Adaline, wife of Martin Aldridge, believed to be James M.'s older sister who was also living. Elizabeth, who was born about 1830 is also not mentioned. It is possible that she died between 1850 and 1860 or that she married and moved away.

The only living children of Richard and Agnes listed in the pension (from an 1873 document) are:

Daughter Catherine, age 48, who married Isaac Johnson. She is said to be poor and residing in Fayette County. [This is the one we know as Cassy who was born about 1828 according to census records.]

Daughter Martha, age 40. She is said to have never married, crippled, residing in Walker County, and "begging." [Census records say she was born about 1833.]

Daughter Eppy, age 38. She is said to have married an old man Rutledge, having not lived with Agnes for 23 years. She is very poor and residing in Walker County. [Census records indicate Eppy as born about 1838.]

We are still left to wonder about the Susan Thornton (age 16) and the Richard Thornton (age 8 months) living in Agnes' household in 1870. (She is listed as Susannah in 1860.) Neither of these individuals is addressed in the pension.

Agnes' poverty was emphasized in all the statements from acquaintances. Her son Martin is said to have been the only source of income for the family from 1857 up to the time of his death. His main employers were said to be Moses L. Johnson and David Studdard. It was stated that Richard Thornton became disabled with palsy around 1 April 1857, that after Martin enlisted in the army that Richard also developed chronic diarrhea, and that he died 2 November 1862. [This date varies slightly in some documents, but this seems to be the most prominent date for his death.] Multiple persons stated that Richard and Agnes never owned their own land. In his sworn statement, Moses L. Johnson states that "since the soldier's death, the claimant has subsisted mostly by begging." Richard's physician, who was deceased by the time of the claim, was Jeremiah Manasco.

The big breakthough is that we learn Agnes' maiden name and the location of her marriage to Richard. Agnes was a Barnum. One document states that they were married in the house of John Barnum in Franklin County, Georgia 16 May 1817 by John Waumack, Justice of the Peace. In another place, Agnes says she thinks the year was 1820.

We also learn what the "V" in Martin V. Thornton was. His full name was Martin Van Buren Thornton, and he had always been called "Van."

Something that was interesting was a statement that Agnes had resided within one mile of her present residence for 25 years. She was presently living 8 miles south of Kansas (in Walker County) near the Fayette County line. Other documents state that the little house in which she resided was owned by Moses L. Johnson. In 1868 her address was Dublin P.O. in Fayette County; in 1873 it was Kansas P.O. in Walker County.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Louisa May Alcott

Can one tell a cause of death from a painting? Some physicians believe that Louisa May Alcott did not die the way that we have been led to believe--through "mercury poisoning" or "artist angst." Instead, they believe she had lupus.

Conference Advice

I love genealogical conferences. The national conference that I attend most often is National Genealogical Society's Conference in the States. The main reason for this is because it usually works with my college professor's schedule best. The conferences usually begin on Wednesday and run through Saturday. There are preconferences available on Tuesday. During each time slot, attendees have a choice of about seven or eight presentations. Over the years, I've learned which speakers I really enjoy hearing and which are a "waste of time."

Now I offer some Advice for Conference Attendees:

If at all possible, stay in the hotel attached to the convention center. [In Pittsburgh, the distance between the hotel where I stayed at the convention center certainly seemed much further than advertised.]

Update: This looks like something I'd enjoy doing.

Do your research on food ahead of time or ask the locals. [I ate best in Nashville where I was most familiar with the location having lived there at one time and having attended many conferences at that convention center. I also ate well in Boston where I'd spent a lot of time ahead of the conference researching what was available and good.]

Take breaks when you need them. [Just because there is a session offered five or six times a day doesn't mean you have to attend them all. I usually pick a session to attend each time slot but if I am getting tired, I try to decide which upcoming session I'm least excited about attending and skip it.]

If you plan to spend a lot of time in the exhibit hall, take an extra suitcase with you. [You'll need it to lug back all of those purchases you just can't live without.]

Volunteer. [It's a great way to meet others. I usually volunteer for the Association of Professional Genealogists' booth. It also keeps me away (at least for an hour or two) from the exhibits where I spend more money than I need to spend!]

Meet your neighbors. [When you go into a session, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You might just find you are cousins. I've actually done this a couple of times. I've also met persons with whom I've corresponded and persons who reside near me.]

Plan your day the night before. [You'll be less stressed if you make some decisions about what you intend to attend the night before. If you are attending with friends and are both having trouble deciding which sessions to attend, plan together. You may be able to cover two sessions that you are both interested in attending at the same time slot. You can then compare notes that evening.]

The BCG Skillbuilding Track is always good. [If you are having trouble making a selection from the choices at a time slot, you'll never go wrong by selecting this one.]

If you plan to do research at a local facility, remember everyone else is doing the same thing. [In Richmond, the Library of Virginia limited microfilm machine use to one hour at a time. If the facility is open evening hours during the week, it will be crowded. You won't get nearly as much research done as you plan with a packed house. You'll get more accomplished at a research facility a little more distant from the conference site before or after conference than you will at one near the location.]

Be a tourist. [Find what the city has to offer and visit some interesting things. I just touched a tip of what's available in Boston last fall, but I certainly have a much better idea of some things I want to see when I head back to Boston for a library conference next summer. I plan to spend part of each day researching and part of each day sightseeing.]

If you didn't enjoy a speaker on one topic, you might still enjoy them on others. [At the very first national conference I attended, I heard one speaker that really seemed to know very little about her topic as far as I was concerned. I decided that I'd never attend another session by this person. Then at a conference a couple of years later, I heard some people talking about what a wonderful presentation they'd just attended. It turned out this was the same speaker on a different topic. I tried her session on that topic at another conference later and decided that I might try other presentations by her. I made three presentations at FGS in Boston. The first session went poorly by my estimation. My computer had overheated. I had to call a friend to bring her computer so I could do my session. I had a lot to cover. I was feeling rushed and was a little nervous (even though I teach classes five days a week). I sped through my presentation. The other two went much better in my estimation. I was more relaxed and was able to engage the listener more because I was relaxed. By the way, I don't recommend purchasing the recordings of these sessions from because two rely heavily on captured screen shots, and the other was more or less a demonstration of using a couple of software packages. This third one was one where I filled in at almost the last minute. The session had been advertised, and the presenter was unable to attend. I now wonder if my experience with the presenter who wasn't very knowledgeable on a topic might have been a result of having been called upon late to fill in for something that wasn't in her area of expertise.]

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Alton Brown Feasts on the Mississippi Asphalt

I watched Feasting on Asphalt tonight with Alton Brown. In tonight's episode (Fry Me a River), he started out in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He made his way to Natchez where he found some homemade donuts at a drive-thru and some fried catfish and spaghetti at Club 101 during the Blues Fest. From there, he took a short drive on the Natchez Trace, explaining the history of the its use. Then he stopped in Lorman at the Old Country Store where he had the all-you-can-eat buffet for $5.95. He raved about the fried chicken there. From there it was on to Vicksburg for a stop at the Biedenharn Candy Company museum where where Coca-Cola got its start. He explained the chemistry involved in making the drink. He then took a ride thru the Delta and ended up in Greeneville at Jim's Cafe where he feasted on pancakes. In the preview for the next episode, I spotted one of those Kool-Aid pickles that gained notoriety earlier this year when the New York Times ran an article on them.

Arrival: Widow's and Children's Pension Files for Henry M. Thornton

Henry M. Thornton is the brother of my great great grandfather James M. Thornton.

I ordered the pension file on June 2, 2007. It arrived today. That's a little over 2 months from order to receipt. (Genealogists like to compare how quickly the National Archives fills requests.) Now, here's what I've learned from the file.

I now have another documented date of marriage for Henry M. Thornton and Mary Hocutt. This one actually provides the location of the marriage. It was 3 Jan 1861 at the home of Mary's father Robert in Walker County, Alabama by A. J. Files.

I also have documented dates of births for the children. There is one discrepancy on a date inside the file, but there is only one instance where the date differs in the file. That is on the date of daughter Roxanna's birth. The one instance of difference is where it is being reported by her brother at a much later date. He gives an 1862 date instead of 1861. Roxanna Thornton was born 26 Oct 1861 and John Henry Anderson Thornton was born 16 Oct 1863. Mahala Jeffreys was the midwife present at the births of both children. After the death of their mother, Elijah A. Jeffreys was appointed as their guardian. That document also mentions J. L. Roby and M. L. Johnson. [Moses L. Johnson is the second husband of Mary Hocutt Thornton, marrying on 12 Dec 1869. (Bynum, Don. Fayette County, Alabama, Marriage Book 1, 19 June 1866-20 August 1879) He is said to have had 3 wives, all named Mary. Mary Hocutt Thornton is supposed to be the 2nd of the three.] The pension states that the widow's last payment was 4 Sep 1869 which probably was the last payment before her remarriage.

I have a date of death for Henry's widow Mary. We knew that she died prior to 1874, but we did not have a date. She died 3 Feb 1872 according to most documents in the file and 1 Feb 1872 according to another.

James M. Thornton, my great-great grandfather, witnessed one of the documents in the file, along with Moses L. Johnson. The document was a change in local attorneys handling the pension.

Now, I'm just waiting on the pension file of Martin V. Thornton to arrive. Since it was given to his mother, I'm hoping it will resolve some of the mysteries surrounding her.

Various documents indicate that Henry's family resided in Winston County, at Holly Grove in Walker County, and at Dublin in Fayette County over the years.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Tonight's local newscast is being partly broadcast from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of a telethon that begins at 7 p.m. One of the "Live at Five" anchors is at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg where the temperature is between 97 and 98 according to the handheld instrument she had in hand. The chief meteorologist for the station is atop Clingmans Dome in the park which has apparently at least tied a record high of 72. The temperature (depending on where the clouds are at the time) has been between 69.4 and 72 during the broadcast. I'm tempted to get in my car and drive to the cooler temperatures, but a lot of other folks probably have the same idea. 70 degree temperature sounds wonderful to me!

Update: The telethon has been very educational. If you wish to donate to Friends of the Smokies, you can do so through their web site. The park does not have an admission fee so it relies on fund-raisers such as this and the little donation boxes throughout the park to make improvements. The last segment was just talking about how they have to airlift some of the materials to renovate the shelters on the trails. They've raised $178,161 as of 7:45 p.m. and want to raise $200,000 by 8:00 p.m. Of course, they'll take donations any time!

Update 2: They did it. The last total was over $203,000 before the telethon was over. They are still taking calls. This figure breaks last year's record of over $202,000.

Awaiting Delivery

Don't you just love sitting at home waiting on deliveries? I'm waiting on this.

Update: I had just finished posting this when I heard a truck. If I'd known blogging the wait is all it took for it to arrive, I would have started blogging earlier!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Monkey At Large

I've been following the story about the monkey who opened his cage and escaped at the Tupelo Buffalo Park in Tupelo, Mississippi. You can find out the latest at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's web site; however, for more entertaining updates, read Marshall Ramsey's blog. (His first post on the topic was July 31.) There is a reward being offered for his safe return which includes a case of bananas. You can read about the reward through either of the highlighted sources above.

Top 10 Country Songs

Terry has asked for folks to submit lists of the top 10 country songs that everyone needs to be able to sing, hum, etc. It's really hard to limit such a list to only 10. Maybe we should just make her learn the top 500. Country music is a genre where the songs reflect life experiences.

#10 - God Bless the USA as sung by Lee Greenwood

#9 - Country Roads as sung by John Denver

#8 - Coal Miner's Daughter as sung by Loretta Lynn

#7 - Chattahoochie as sung by Alan Jackson

#6 - Mountain Music as sung by Alabama

#5 - Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain as sung by Willie Nelson

#4 - Coat of Many Colors as sung by Dolly Parton

#3 - Smoky Mountain Rain as sung by Ronnie Millsap

#2 - Stand by Your Man as sung by Tammy Wynette

and the #1 Country song of all time: Rocky Top as sung (and picked) by the Osborne Brothers. Yes, folks, it's almost . . . FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE! GO VOLS!

Green Tomatoes

Amy is blogging about green tomatoes. If she were in the south, she'd be getting out the cornmeal and frying pan for some "fried green 'maters." Tyler has a few more ingredients than a typical southern cook would use, but you get the idea!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Interesting Headstone

You just never know what you will Google. In this case, it was a most interesting tombstone in Natchez, Mississippi for Louise the Unfortunate. It's a very interesting story too! It was posted by blogger Deep Fried Kudzu.

29th Carnival of Genealogy

. . . is posted at footnoteMaven. This edition's theme is moral and legal dilemmas in genealogy.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fred Thompson on Rebecca Nurse

I followed a link from Instapundit to read Fred Thompson's thoughts on judges. It's not every day you see a politician citing genealogical information. I was quite impressed that he knew that Judge Southwick is a descendant of Rebecca Nurse. I just kind of laughed when I read that opening sentence:

You’ve probably never heard of Rebecca Nurse, but bear with me for a moment.

I, of course, knew Rebecca's story, as well as many of the other "Salem witches." (I use the quote marks because, as we all know, not all of those in the 1692 witch trials were from Salem.)

I agree with Fred's thoughts on Judge Southwick's nomination. It's time to put partisan politics behind us.