27 July 2011

Grandaddy Mack in Pictures

     The other week a new cousin found me online at wikitree and has been sending information to me about the Hyler / Huyler family. She sent me photos of the family Bible and confirmed that her side of the family remembered my Great-Grandfather, Vary "Mack" Huyler. A few days ago she emailed me a photo of Mack's mom, Ida. Today she snail-mailed me photos of Mack himself.

     These photos are very exciting! Mack didn't tell his daughter (my grandmother) about his family and we only know what we've found from research. Before, the only photos of him is from the late 1950s or later. Now I have two photos of him as a young man!

     I'm going to post one of the photos here to see if anyone can help me with it. Mack appears to be wearing some sort of ill-fitting military uniform. I'm estimating the photo is from the early/mid 1920s, so it's post WWI and pre CCC and WWII. Does anyone have any idea what this uniform is about? Perhaps a peace-time army uniform? National Guard? (BTW, he was from South Carolina)

Dora, Vary & Bea

22 July 2011


     I'm sorry McCurley family, but I can't get myself excited about researching you. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I just feel somewhat unattached to your branch of the family. Maybe it's that you last appear in my family in a girl born in 1859? Maybe you just seem too far removed from me? But you are my Great-Great-Great Grandmother's line - and I don't feel that disconnect with other 3x-Great Grandmothers. It's not that you're off in some random location - you're in Elbert County, Georgia, home to almost a quarter of my recent ancestors. It's not even that your records are difficult to find - I haven't even finished searching for your "easy" census records. It isn't that you're not exciting - you served in the civil war.  So what is it about you, McCurley family, that leaves me feeling so unattached?

18 July 2011

Will of Thomas Albea - Amanuensis Monday

     I had previously obtained an abstract of the will of my 5x-Great Grandfather, Thomas Albea, from the book Heritage of faith: the Calvert, Green and Alvey family histories, by James H Mosby (available on ancestry.com).  Now, thanks to the recent addition of North Carolina Probate Records on FamilySearch.org, I have a copy of the entire will.  I've transcribed it here and included the original image below.
*If you are an Albea family relative, please contact me at vrc84@yahoo.com*

In the name of God Amen. I Thomas Albea of the County of Iredell and State of North Carolina being weake + frail but of perfect sound mind and memory do publish this my Last will and Testament in the manner and form following to wit. First, I give and bequeath my soul into the hands of almighty God who gave it and my body to the Earth from which it was taken to be decently interred in the burying Ground of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Mount Bethel and my funeral expences to be paid out of the first monies which may come to the hands of my Executors from any portion of my Estate. I further direct that all my just debts be paid by my Executor, herein after named, and as touching my Worldly Estate with which it hath pleased God to bless me. I give and bequeath of it as follows: First, I give to my beloved son, Tilman Albea a negro Boy named Jerry, I give and bequeath to my beloved son Cyrus Albea the sum of four hundred dollars, I give to my beloved son Benjamin C Albea a ego Boy named Jack, I give to my beloved son Baker Albea a track of land Known as the Walton (?) beall (?) tract adjoining the lands of Alexander Baily, James Patterson + James B Goodby together with sixteen acres taken from my home plantation --?-- the aforementioned pice also a negro woman named Rachael + a small Girl named Hannah, a horse saddle, a Bride to the value of fifty dollars, I give and bequeath to my daughter Henrietta Ward five dollars, I give and bequeath to the heirs of my daughter Sarah Carolina Casten (of her body) one hundred + fifty dollars, I give to the heirs of the body of my Daughter Nancy Beggarly one hundred + fifty dollars, I give and bequeath to the heirs of the body of my Daughter Emeline Terrel a negro Girl named Calency. I further then give + bequeath my Daughter Emily Albea a negro Boy + Girl the boy named Amas and the girl named Mary and one Cow and Calf and bed furniture - I give + bequeath my nephew Thomas Campbellfive Dollars. I give to my nephew B--? Campbell twenty five Dollars, also to my nephew umphry Campbell five Dollars, I further de--? that the res__? of my Estate after paying the afore mentioned sums of money if any left be divided among six of my children to sit Baker Albea, Benjamin C. Albea, Emmaline Terrell, Nancy Beggarly + Sarah Caroline Carter and Emily Albea as follows: To Baker Albea one third of the whole sum and the remaning part equally devised among Benjamin C. Albea, Nancy Biggarly, Emmaline Terrell, Sarah C. Carten + Emily albea and lastly I desire Benjamin C. Albea, Baker Albea or Emily Albea when the sale of the Balance of my property shall take place to by a negro girl named Vera, I lastly appoint my beloved son Benjamin C. Albea + Baker Albea Executor of my last --? testament. In writing whereof I have hereto set my ahdn and seal in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred forty three 4th day of October.

Thomas (his X mark) Albea

Alex + Bailey Turner
William Turner
Signed and sealed in presence of Umphrey Campbell.

Thomas Albea Will

16 July 2011

SNGF: Where are the Great-Great Grandparents From?

     Earlier this week the Genealogy Insider blog posted about genealogy in pie chart form. Randy picked up on this and made it this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.

     This is a pie chart that represents the birth places of my Great-Great Grandparents:

     Kinda boring huh? Yeah, my family pretty much settled and stayed there. Here's a list of my GG Grandparents:
  • George Robert Bob Craft Sr. Born on 4 Mar 1869 in , Elbert, Georgia. George Robert Bob died in Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, on 12 May 1935; he was 66.
  • Effie Verona Powell. Born in 1871 in , Elbert, Georgia. Effie Verona died in Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, on 24 Feb 1951; she was 80.
  • John H Evans. Born on 18 May 1879 in , Elbert, Georgia. John H died in Gaines, Elbert, Georgia, on 9 Jul 1911; he was 32.
  • Leila Frances Craft. Born on 24 Apr 1881 in , Elbert, Georgia. Leila Frances died in , Elbert, Georgia, on 24 Dec 1950; she was 69.
  • William Britt. Born abt 1825 in , Edgefield, South Carolina. William died in , Emanuel, Georgia, aft 1902; he was 77.
  • Amelia Rye Parish. Born in 1857 in , Edgefield, South Carolina. Amelia Rye died aft 1910; she was 53.
  • William "Bill" L Barfield. Born on 5 Jun 1872 in , Glascock, Georgia. William "Bill" L died on 22 Jul 1924; he was 52.
  • Susan Frances Boatright. Born on 2 Nov 1883 in , Emanuel, Georgia. Susan Frances died in , Emanuel, Georgia, on 5 Mar 1953; she was 69.
  • William Anderson Albea. Born on 15 Apr 1872 in , Lincoln, Georgia. William Anderson died in Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, on 3 Aug 1936; he was 64.
  • Nina Frances Sprouse. Born on 7 Mar 1878 in , Abbeville, South Carolina. Nina Frances died in , Greenwood, South Carolina, on 26 Oct 1962; she was 84.
  • William David Witt. Born on 26 Apr 1875 in , , South Carolina. William David died in Greenwood, Greenwood, South Carolina, on 18 Nov 1940; he was 65.
  • Frances Iola Quattlebaum. Born on 15 Mar 1879 in , , South Carolina. Frances Iola died in , Greenwood, South Carolina, on 1 Sep 1932; she was 53.
  • John Willis Hyler. Born on 23 Jun 1861 in , Lexington, South Carolina. John Willis died in , Richland, South Carolina, on 11 Apr 1949; he was 87.
  • Ida Leaphart. Born on 30 May 1863 in , Lexington, South Carolina. Ida died in Eau Claire, Richland, South Carolina, on 26 Jul 1952; she was 89.
  • Leverett Edley Waters. Born on 1 May 1881 in Marietta, Cobb, Georgia. Leverett Edley died in Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, on 23 Aug 1953; he was 72.
  • Louise Smith. Born on 14 Apr 1881 in , , Georgia. Louise died in , Greenville, South Carolina, on 30 Jul 1949; she was 68.

13 July 2011

Conversing with BillionGraves

     I posted earlier today about my 2nd Try with the BillionGraves.com Android app. This post was my immediate reaction to my experience. I had emailed BG with my feedback and have been emailing back and forth with them to clarify some issues.

     I should state that I'm not trying to be negative or bring down BillionGraves.com. I'm simply frustrated. I think they've got a great idea, but it has just yet to work properly for me. 

     I emailed BillonGraves and told them that I'd tried to create two cemeteries and failed, as well as that I'd had problems with GPS using their devise, while I had no problems using three other GPS apps on the phone.  I'm going to paraphrase their response and condense it a bit.

  • Creating A Cemetery
    • This appears to be an issue with the user interface not being user intuitive and me not being able to figure it out. Some folks might say, "of course that's what you're supposed to do," but this doesn't make sense to me. 
    • Here's a photo of the phone when you're creating a cemetery:
    • So the last question is: "Are you in the cemetery?" The only apparent answer is "no." So I didn't click that button and went ahead and saved the cemetery, which gave a "success!" response. 
    • But apparently when I didn't select anything I was saying no - which I thought might happen, but what else was I supposed to do? There's not a "yes" button. And why did it say "success?" 
    • Apparently, "This is a bug in the program that we currently fixing" and "In order to create a cemetery, just make sure that you answer yes to the question: Are you in the cemetery?" 
    • To which I replied: There is not a "yes" button and sent them the above photo. So they said: "I apologize for the confusion, I will let the developer know about it. I think we could easily program two buttons in. Make the button so it shows "Yes" with green light showing [click on no]. It should read before you save it: Are you in the cemetery? Yes"
      • What I get from this: They are still rushing the app. First they rushed it without a feature to create cemeteries. Now they have a confusing app with known bugs that was released as an "update." They need to take their time and test the apps before release. There are tons of folks willing to be Beta testers who won't fuss when it doesn't work since it's a Beta test.
  • GPS Issues
    • They said that "the Android you are using is on our approved list, so it has been tested multiple times for compatibility with BillionGraves." 
    • However, "after researching your Android phone, I've discovered that it is known for GPS problems. The problem seems to lie in the programming rather than the hardware. However, I will be informing our Android developer of the problems you've been having so we can find a solution for you." 
    • So I recommended that they move the Samsung Epic G4 to the "maybe works" list, to which they replied: "our approved listed comes from Android"
      • What I get from this: BillionGraves themselves haven't actually tested the Android app, but is relying on Android to do so. Do I expect BG to honestly track down all these different phones and test them themselves? No. Do I think Android actually sent folks out to cemeteries to test the app? Doubtful. Do I expect BG to find and utilize volunteer Beta testers to do so? Yes. Because obviously, relying on Android isn't working out.
     Anyone else pick up on a theme here? Beta Test! If this app had been released as "beta," "early release," or "testing," I'd have no issues with the problems I've been having. Bugs happen. However, when a company makes a big announcement that a new product is available I expect it to work. 

BillionGraves.com: 2nd Try

If you haven't already, read my previous post, "A Disappointing Day with BillionGraves."

     I received a tweet from BillionGraves.com yesterday, letting me know that their Android app had been updated to include the "add a cemetery" function. I wasn't planning on trying it out today, but my other plans fell through, so I was able to use my mom's phone (I don't have an android or iphone) to test the app again. Unfortunately, my results weren't much better than last time.

     First, I decided to try something I hadn't last time: go to a cemetery already listed in their database and upload a photo. I went to Shadowlawn Cemetery, only a few minutes from my house to try this out. It's hot out (93°), so we parked in the shade and approached the closest grave. Here's how that went:

"Signal Strength: Very Bad." Hmm... let me give it a second so it can find us. Waiting, waiting... Let me check, yeah, the other GPS driven apps know exactly where I am... Let me move away from the trees. Waiting, waiting... "Signal Strength: Very Good." Ok, great. It took a few minutes, but now I'm good to take some pictures. Click, click, click. Twelve Graves later: "Error!""Signal Strength: Very Bad." What?! I moved five feet! 
     I waited around a bit more, but never got my signal back. Oh well, whatever. I really wanted to create a cemetery anyway. So we drove down a little access road and past a pond into East Shadowlawn. Yes, according to the ladies in the cemetery office, these are two different cemeteries, though they almost touch. And this one wasn't in the BillionGraves database. My Uncle Wayne is buried in this one, so I headed over to his grave.

     First I created the cemetery. The function for this is a bit hidden: you go to the Cemeteries page and scroll all the way to the bottom, past numerous "nearby" cemeteries. It took me a minute to figure it out, but after only a minute "Success!" So, I head over to my uncles grave:
Oh, he's right on the edge near the trees, wonder if I can get a signal? "Signal Strength: Very Bad." Wave the phone around... hold still for two minutes... walk in a six foot range for three minutes... Go far away and stand in the open. "Signal Strength: Very Good / Shadowlawn Cemetery." No, we're at East Shadowlawn! Search for the cemetery I just created... it's not there. Recreate the cemetery - maybe I made a mistake? Nope, still not there. Grr!
     Ok, maybe it's confused by it's proximity to the other Shadowlawn? I didn't really have anything else to do - lets go to some more cemeteries. We stopped at the Gwinnett Memorial Gardens, also already in the BillionGraves database.
"Bad Signal,""Bad Signal"... "Very Good Signal". Ok, that wasn't so long of a wait this time and it knows which cemetery I'm at. Click! Next grave... "Bad Signal". Seriously?!? I took two steps left! Waiting, waiting... Waiting waiting.... Waited over 5 minutes, no signal.
     Now at this point, I didn't figure I was going to be able to create a cemetery, but I wanted to give it one more try. I went out to the cemetery that I'd been to when I first tried out the BillionGraves app: White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Duluth.
Create the cemetery. "Success!" Walk over to my grandparent's graves. "Bad Signal," Bad Signal"... "Very Good Signal / Garner Cemetery." Nope, that's not the right cemetery. According to the map in the BG app, that cemetery is about 15 miles away. I give up!
     After arriving home I checked the website to see if the two cemeteries I'd created would show up there. Nope. Also, there seems to be a time delay on profile updates. Although the photos I'd taken were on the website immediately under "my photos," it took over three hours for three hours for them to be credited on my dashboard as "images uploaded." Also, it took a while for the photos to show up on the cemetery page. There seems to be a multi-hour time lag for the website to update.

     At this point, I want to give up on this app. On the other hand, I want this app to work. It has a lot of potential, despite its issues: being able to create cemeteries and connect with GPS devices. Heck, maybe it's just this particular phone? However, the Samsung Epic G4 is on the list of good phones on BG's blog. Regardless, if it's a problem with the phone, please let me know! Otherwise there are some issues with the app that need to be fixed for this website to worthwhile for me.

     I emailed BillionGraves with some feedback today and did receive a response. I'll write another post about that tonight.

12 July 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Craft

     My Great-Great Grandparents, George and Effie (Powell) Craft are buried at the Cokesbury Methodist Church. It's located just inside Hart County, walking distance from the Elbert County line.

     A few other Craft family relatives a buried here as well, including George and Effie's infant grandson, Bennie England Craft Jr.  I walked the entire cemetery, however I could not find the boy's grave. I suspect that he might be buried in the lefthand side of his grandparent's plot. Bennie was a casualty of the 1928 flu epidemic that ravaged the country and sickened his entire immediate family.  

George & Effie Craft

10 July 2011

Updates and Armstrong DNA

     Yesterday I started exploring 23andMe's updated Relative Finder. They had made a few updates and completely changed the look of the page.  I personally think that the new features make Relative Finder easier to navigate and assist in finding relationships.

     They incorporated a feature from ftDNA: the ability to assign relationships and notes. In my opinion, 23andMe's version is superior to ftDNA. It doesn't require your match to confirm the relationship like at ftDNA and you can add notes all on the same pop-up page.

     At the same time, a new match and I made a connection. I saw on her profile that her surnames included Armstrong, Boyd and Sprouse. These names are all in my tree on the same line. We were quickly able to confirm that we were 4th cousins, our family line having split with the children of William W Sprouse and his wife, Nancy Armstrong.

     That same evening, I checked for new matches at ftDNA. I usually look first at the matches who have uploaded family tree. Amazingly, I saw my Armstrong family show up again. This time, our line split at the children of Samuel Armstrong and Mary Boyd.

     What are the odds of making two connections from two different companies on the same family line in one day? I need to recommend that they both upload their information to Gedmatch.com where they'll be able to connect with another Armstrong match I've made there.

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

05 July 2011

Civil War Profile: Daniel E Rich

     The following is a profile of one of my Civil War ancestors. What was their life like before, during and after the war? Where did their sympathies lie? How did they feel about the war?


     In 1860, Daniel E Rich was living in Emanuel County, Georgia with his wife, Unicy, and three children: Marthin V, Emily and Andrew J (I think Emily was not their child, but perhaps a grandchild). The couple had a number of other children who had already left home, including my 4x-Great Grandmother, Demaris.

     Daniel's occupation was listed as a blacksmith with real estate valued at $600 and personal estate valued at $1,375. I'm sure that Daniel was also running a farm of some kind. Perhaps only large enough to feed his family or perhaps larger.

      In 1861, Daniel was 62, too old for service in the war. His sons, Stephen and Andrew, however, weren't. They both enlisted in the Georgia 54th Infantry Regiment, Company C.

CC License: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW
     It appears that G-G-G-G-G Grandfather Rich stayed home during the war. And it was just his luck that he was right in the way of Sherman's March To The Sea. As the map here shows, Sherman and his fellow Union men marched right through Swainsboro, GA and the rest of the County.

     Sherman's march could be devastating for those in his path. In fact, Daniel filed a claim with the Southern Claims Commission to report his own losses. I wasn't previously familiar with the Southern Claims Commission, but after reading up on it, I realized that I might have a Northern Loyalist in my very Southern family tree.

     Daniel filed a report on 18 Aug 1871 for compensation of goods "taken" by the Union Army in September of 1964 by General Sherman. He reported that hogs, cows, meat and crops were taken, at a value of $256.50. In order to receive compensation, Daniel would need to prove that he always supported the Union and never once offered support to the Confederacy. He would do this by producing witnesses, which he included in his claim.

    Daniel signed his name to this document, declaring his past, present and future loyalty to the Union. But I have to wonder: how honest is this? How easy would it be to claim this and get your friendly neighbors to back you by witnessing their claim? Seeing that the claim was denied, I wonder at it even more.

     Or, was Daniel truly loyal? Yes, his sons fought for the South, but many families were divided by the Civil War. I'll likely never really know, but it's very possible he was a Northern Loyalist.

     And then, on 15 Aug 1864, Daniel's wife, Unicy, died (according to a listing on FindAGrave). Daniel was going to spend the end of the war as a single, elderly man, likely looking after the families of his soldiering sons.

     In 1870, Daniel was living alone, but next door to his oldest son, Joseph/Job. Only two listings down is his son Andrew. His land is still valued at $600, but his personal property is worth only $225. His occupation is "works in farm." At his age I'm guessing he's not doing a whole lot manual labor. Perhaps grandsons from next door help him run things?

     According to his headstone, Daniel lived until 1886 and the age of 87. I like to image that he spent the rest of his years surrounded by his very large family. I also wonder how an avowed Northern Loyalist spent his remaining years in a state that would come to vilify "those damn Yankees" and romanticize their soldiers in "The War of Northern Aggression."

04 July 2011

N W Hyler Injured at Sharpsburg - Amanuensis Monday

     This was part of an article published 1 Oct 1862 in the Charleston Courier, Charleston, SC, as part of a series on the Battle of Sharpsburg. Included in this list of casualties is my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Nathan Washington Hyler of Lexington County, South Carolina.

     Killed and wounded of the 15th Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, at the battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862:
     Killed - Lieut. Smith, Co. B; G. O. Hartman, Co I; Thomas Co. G; T. Hill, Co. K; A. T. Maccammon, Co A.
     Wounded - W H. Bailey, neck; Sergeant Freeman, shoulder; J. S. Bailey, thumb; D. T. Kaufman, arm; Wm. Nance, Co. H, arm; J. F. Huhn, Co I, neck; J. Bloom, arm amputated; W. W. Bull, Co. K, hand; S. W. Levin, Co. A, serious; J. T. Morehead, Co. F, back; W. Crumpton, leg; John Ervin, Co. C, shoulder; Lieut. Charles Fisher, Co. D, knee, serious, amputation; Wm. Claxton, shoulder; R. S. Parrot, thigh; Samuel Hornsby, Co. D, arm and leg, serious; Wm. Gerau, Co. K, arm, excision shoulder joint; N. W. Hyler, Co. C, leg; J. S. Rich, Co. K, leg; Wm Price, Co. K; R. F. Deane, Co. K, leg; Lee Bagley, Co. E, thigh; T. J. Young, Co. B, shoulder; Jesse Crawford, amputation, leg; J. H. Fulman, Co. I, hand; Levi Wheeler, Co. I, leg; S. G. Linley, Co. I, arm; Wm. Dillard, Co. B, arm; P. H. Craps, Co. C, shoulder; C. L. D. Reardon, amputation arm; Wm. Kennedy, Co. B, back; D. J. Fulmer, Co. I, arm, serious; A. Medlock, Co. K, foot."

NW Hyler Civil War injury

03 July 2011

The Hyler Family Bible

     I was recently contacted by a new cousin by marriage, who found my Hyler / Leaphart family on WikiTree.com. Her husband's Grandmother was the sister of my Great-Grandfather Vary "Mack" Huyler, who were the children of John Hyler and Ida Leaphart.

     She first contacted me for access to my wikitree pages and offered up a marriage date for John and Ida. I'm afraid to say I almost didn't reply. I don't know why - this is a family that's been difficult to research. But thank goodness I did contact her! I asked if her family ever heard anything about my Great-Grandfather, who always claimed to have left home at 16 and never looked back. Sure enough, she had. Actually, she had his record in the Hyler family Bible. Would I like to see it? Why yes, yes I would.

     She reported that the Bible was delicate, so she wasn't able to scan it, but she was able to photograph it for me. She sent me two pages: the marriage record for John and Ida, and a list of their children. She's also going to send a photo of the cover of the Bible and the title page.

     Based on the consistency of the writing, I'm guessing that the information wasn't recorded as the events occurred, but rather all at once some time later. Regardless, it was likely written by Ida, who would be the best person to get the information correct.

     And my Great-Grandfather? He's second from last on the list of children and appears as "Vary Velt America Hyler" opposed to the "Vary Americus Huyler" he presented himself as later in life.

Hyler family bible 001

Hyler family bible 002

02 July 2011

SNGF: My Genealogical Bucket List

     Over at Genea-Musings, Randy posted his Genealogical Bucket List and challenged everyone else to do the same.  There are so many things I want/need to do for my research, but I'll try to narrow it down in order of importance for my current research strategies.

  1. Visit the South Carolina State Archive. This archive is only a few hundred miles away in next-door South Carolina, but I haven't been able to get in a visit.  And when I finally do get there, I'll need a few weeks! More than half of my Great-Great Grandparents are from South Carolina and I've about exhausted current online records. 
  2. Find and DNA test multiple Albea family cousins. I've started an Albea / Alby Surname DNA group, but so far only have one sample: my uncle. I'd like to find a few cousins who can trance their ancestry back to different Albea generations. This was a difficult line to trace and if I can test cousins back through the generations, I'll be able to confirm my research - and maybe find out where in Europe the Albea family comes from.
  3. Visit the Family History Library. I don't think I need to explain this one - I just need the money to do it. I've considered buying into one of the research trips organized by genealogy companies or societies to save money.
  4. Attend all of the national genealogical conferences. I don't want, or necessarily need, to do this all in one year. However, I do want to attend conferences such as NGS, FGS, RootsTech, etc. 
  5. Work in/Volunteer in a library or archive. I'd love to be able to help others with their research.
  6. Pass my passion along to a family member. I hope that when I'm gone my research will find a home with someone else - and not end up in the trash.


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