30 September 2013

A Biography Disguised as a Pension Record

     I have been meaning, for years, to put together an application for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  I had one line that I was going to pursue, but upon seeing the pension application that his children submitted, I had some doubts as to his service.  Since then, I've decided to pursue an alternative ancestor: John Cash.

     John Cash applied for a pension in 1832, when he was 75 years old.  Thanks to this pension application, I know about his military service: dates, locations, jobs, etc.  But what really surprised me was the amount of information that I learned about the rest of John's life.

     John's application is mainly about his service, but does also detail where he lived and when he moved.  I now know that John and family lived in Amherst and Bedford Counties, Virginia, and moved to Elbert County, Georgia, in 1802.  But where the really good stuff comes in is actually after his death, when his wife and then his children apply to continue the pension for themselves.

     Take this portion of his wife, Lucy's, application for example:

     The document gives the date of John and Lucy's marriage, "as well as remembered," her birth date, and her husband's birth date.  The very next page states that these dates were recorded in a family Bible, but that it was lost in a house fire in December of 1831.  However, Lucy does remember that she and John were married by a traveling minister in the home of Charles Rore and that the marriage was not recorded with the government.

     As the documents go on (73 pages!), this lack of legally recorded marriage becomes a problem.  The family Bible was the only recording of the the couple's marriage and the children's births.  Government recorded vital records just aren't available for this time. Eventually, Lucy does receive a pension, but it's unclear if the children ever received benefits.

     Probably the most interesting document is one regarding the burning of the Cash family home.  The document itself is not dated, but other documents in the file state the the house burned in December of 1831.  The family was petitioning the community of McDonough, Georgia for charitable donations to support the elderly couple and their unmarried daughters.  The petition is followed by a list of those in the community who donated a dollar or so each to help the family.

     I am a bit concerned that this pension application, which mentions John and Lucy's children, does not mention their son and my ancestor, Moses Cash.  However, Moses is listed as one of John's children in his will.  

     When I started organizing documents for this line, I also realized that I was missing some pretty basic documents.  What do you mean I don't have death certificates for my 3x Great Grandmother and 2x Great Grandfather?  I'd simply never needed them to confirm the family line and hadn't ordered them.  I've started to do so now, and hopefully I won't procrastinate too much longer and can work on my DAR application.

27 September 2013

Troy L Partain, 1931-2013

     My Uncle, Troy Partain, passed away Wednesday night.  The following obituary appeared in the Gwinnett Daily Post today:
"STONE MOUNTAIN Troy Partain Troy L. Partain, age 82, of Stone Mountain (Gwinnett County), Ga., died Thursday evening, September 25, 2013. His funeral will be Saturday, September 28, 2013, at 2 pm in the Bill Head Funeral Home, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, with Dr. Robert Woodall officiating. Burial will follow in Eternal Hills Memory Gardens, Snellville with Air Force Military Honors. Born in Anderson, SC., Troy was a retired trainer for General Motors and a 11 year veteran of the U. S. Air Force. He was a member of Lilburn First Baptist Church. Survived by his wife of 52 years, June Craft Partain of Stone Mountain, daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Bill Williams of Lexington, NC., son, James Partain of Stone Mountain, grandchildren, Joshua (Tiffany) Williams, Andrea Williams, Danielle Partain, Alex Partain, sister, Shirley Royston of Royston, Ga., and loving and faithful canine companion, Kasey. The family would like to extend a special thanks to Crossroads Hospice for their care to Troy. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Crossroads Hospice, suite 500, 1957 Lakeside Pkw., Tucker, Ga., 30084. Condolences may be left at www.billheadfuneralhome.com. The family will receive friends Saturday from 12 noon until 2 pm at the Bill Head Funeral Home and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel. 770-564-2726."

24 September 2013

Walking in Their Footsteps

     I wrote the other day about my trip to Chickamauga and what I learned about what my ancestors experienced there.  I then created a video to summarize everything and, hopefully, make it entertaining.  For family: the two ancestors mentioned in the video are the paternal Great-Grandfathers of Betty Huyler Albea.

     Check out the video:

My Physical Self

Week 3 of the Book of Me, Written by You blog prompt series.

     At the very basic level, my physical self is determined by my genes. Sure, I can dye my hair or lose/gain weight, but the building blocks begin with my DNA.  One of the neat side benefits of 23andMe's DNA testing for genealogy, is the geneotype results (what my DNA says I should look like).   So how do my geneotype results compare to my phenotypes (what I actually look like)?

Hair Color:
- Genotype: "Typical odds of having red hair" and "Typical odds of having blond hair (vs. brown hair)."
- Phenotype: White-Blond as a baby, now a light or golden brown with blond sun-streaks. Sometimes a red tint in the sun.

Hair Curl:
- Genotype: "slightly curlier hair on average" and "Typical amount of hair curl."
- Phenotype: Shirley temple curls as a toddler, now only slightly wavy if left to dry on its own.

Eye Color:
- Genotype: "72% chance of blue eyes; 27% chance of green eyes; 1% chance of brown eyes."
- Phenotype: Light Blue, though they can appear green if I'm wearing green.

- Genotype: "Typical amount of freckling" and "Typical number of freckles and moles."
- Phenotype: Sparsely freckled all over. I assume that's "typical."

- Genotype: "Subjects averaged 0.3 - 0.7 centimeters taller than typical height" and "Subjects averaged 0.4 cm (0.16 in) taller than typical."
- Phenotype: I'm 5'4.5".  I consider myself just under average height and on the tall side of short.

- Genotype: "Typical BMI" and "On average, BMI is 0.19 units lower than typical for adults (1-2 pounds, depending on height)" and "Decreasing calorie intake and increasing physical activity through walking is associated with weight loss."
- Phenotype: I was thin as a child, a little heavy before puberty, skinny after puberty and then got heavy  after starting college.  About a year ago I started county calories and walking for exercise and I've since lost 75 pounds.  Yay!

     So overall, it seems like my genes dictated my physical appearance when I was young, but things changed as I got older.  And of course, some things are more effected by the environment than my genes.  I have a scar on my right hand between my knuckles from a car accident and one on my right knee from a fall.  I had braces in 3rd grade, which attempted to straighten my teeth (but I didn't keep them long enough for them to really help).

22 September 2013

150 Years After Chickamauga

     Two days later my calves are still killing me, but it was worth it.  My mom and I spent Thursday and Friday trekking across the fields and hills of the Chickamauga Battlefield during their 150th Anniversary event.  What an experience!

     We'd visited Chickamauga last spring, but didn't give ourselves enough time and didn't really get a good grasp of what occurred there.  This time, we spent a full two days exploring the park and I now have a much better understanding of the battle and what my ancestors would have experience.

     We started day one by watching the short video presentation at the visitor's center.  It provided a quick overview of the battle that helped get our day started.  We then went on a double decker tour bus ride, which helped us get our bearings on where the Confederate and Union forces were and how the battle proceeded.

     Armed with a better understanding of the battle, we then went in search of the monuments that honored our ancestors.   Chickamauga is covered with over 700 monuments and plaques.  To help visitors find specific ones, there is a map in the visitor's center.  We spent about an hour driving the park and visiting markers, though we weren't able to find all of them.

     Next, we took advantage of the ranger lead programs being offered during the anniversary event.  Every two hours, park visitors would meet at a designated point (detailed on a map) and then set out with park rangers for a talk on a certain aspect of the battle.  I'd say that between 300 and 500 people attended each talk.  We were split up between three or four rangers who each spoke on the same topic, but from a different perspective.

     I have to say that after the first talk I was a little intimidated.  It was very... military.  Lots of "Stewart moved to the right" and "Rosecrans ordered Harker left."  Um - who?  But after a while it became easier to keep up, especially once we had attended a few talks (which built on each other).  What also helped were the battle maps I had printed out from CivilWar.org.  I'd left them in the car the first day, but made sure to bring them the second day.  That way, when one of the rangers mentioned a general, I could consult my map.

     During each talk, the rangers would walk us for what seemed like miles!  But that was part of the experience.  During one talk, we walked the same path that Longstreet's Corps did - the same path my my ancestors walked during the battle.  I can't imagine doing all of that walking, and then having to march up numerous hills and then fight for your life.  Walking the battlefield, combined with the information provided by the rangers, was an experience that really helped me connect with my ancestors.

     Another part of the 150th Anniversary event, was the National Park Service's emphasis on social media.  Each ranger lead talk was recorded and photographed.  Some of the content immediately went on Facebook and YouTube, while more has been added over the last few days.  I've found a few photos of myself on the Chickamauga Facebook page.

     If you have the chance to attend a similar event, I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity.

08 September 2013

Baby "A" (Book of Me, Week 2)

     It was the mid 80's and technology wasn't what it is today.  When my mom was about five months pregnant with me, she went to her doctor to complain that she wasn't going to make it through and that she was out of room.  The doctor, not taking her complaints very seriously, was shocked by an ultrasound that revealed a second baby.  Congrats, it's twins!

     When my sister and I hit our due date, the doctor decided to induce (he was going on vacation and wanted to be there for the delivery).  Due to our heart rates dropping during contractions, we were dramatically brought into the world via c-section. The doctors grabbed me first, rescuing me from where my sister had wedged my head into my mom's pelvic bone. Thus, at 10:04 a.m. on a memorable Friday morning, I became "Baby A," a middle child by the difference of one minute.

     My sister and I took after or dad in coloring: blond and blue eyed.  I was 18.5 inches long and weighed 5 pounds, 14.5 ounces, while my sister was a little bigger.  Mom could tell us apart easily by the shape of our heads (dented due to the afore mentioned pelvic bone).  Even today, she's the only one who can tell us apart in our baby photos.  For those who couldn't deduce the minute differences in two babies' head shapes, we could also be told apart by birthmarks.  I had four! Strawberry marks on my wrist, behind my ear and on the font of my shoulder, and a brown spot behind my knee.  Today, I still have the mark on my shoulder and leg.

     We all left the hospital after a week and were quite a handful - literally.  If it takes a village to raise a baby, what does it take to raise twins?  A lot of help from family for the first few weeks at least.  Everyone wanted to meet "the twins" and to this day, when meeting older relatives that I don't really know, we get referred to as "Ruby's twins" or "Kenny's twins."  I guess our birth was pretty memorable.


     I would like to end this post with a sort of *asterisk.  Most of what I've written above comes to me second hand.  Aside from some of the facts available on my birth certificate, I don't know what I've written.  I was there for my birth, but I certainly don't remember it.  I have, however, had numerous conversation with my mom about my birth story.  And still, I got some facts wrong.  While writing this, I ask my mom some questions and she correct a few of my "memories."  Subsequently, I'm just writing down what someone else told me.  Since this is a genealogy blog, I thought it important to clarify that just about any of the above could have been wrong.

04 September 2013

First Visit to National Archives at Atlanta

     Today I visited the National Archives at Atlanta for the first time.  I've gone to the Georgia Archive a number of times, which is right next door.  My visit today was for a specific purpose: to look at microfilm containing Indian Wars Service Index Cards.  I'd looked online at NARA's website to learn that they had this microfilm, and was hoping they might have other records to help my search.  I want to find out what my ancestor Wiley Powell had been up to.

     For those of you who might be interested in visiting the Archive, here's the setup: You enter the main doors and are immediately greeted by the security desk.  You'll sign in and receive a visitors badge, then go through a metal detector and have your purse searched.  The security guard then points you across the lobby of the building to the records room.  The only thing is, once you get to the research room, you've passed the lockers.  I had to ask about them, then go back towards the entrance.  They are kind of hidden; when you first enter, you have to make a sort of U-turn to your right.

     Once inside the research room, you sign in again.  On your left, there is an office (shown in the photo below) where the binders with the microfilm indexes are located.  I must have looked a little confused, because the woman at the desk asked if I needed help.  I showed her the Indian War Pension Index Card I already had and gave her the microfilm number I'd found online for the Indian War Service Record Index Card microfilm I was looking for.  She then looked up the location of the microfilm for me, and showed me how the numbering system worked.

     Unfortunately, as I had expected, there weren't any more records that would help me with this search.  The worker pretty much told me that, for the most part, all they really had were indexes and I would need to send to DC for the actual records.

     The service record card didn't provide me with much more information than I already had from the pension card.  Finding my ancestor's card in this film did confirm the time period of his service (though not the exact date) since the microfilm was titled "Index To Compiled Service Records Of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During The Cherokee Disturbances And Removal In Organizations From The State Of Georgia."  At this point I can be pretty much certain that Wiley Powell served in the Georgia Militia during the Trail of Tears. 

     Based on what I've found, I have requested a copy of Wiley Powell's compiled service record.  Hopefully there will be some valuable information included in those records - heck, hopefully those records exist.  If they don't, I'll order the pension records (which cost more).

     In the photo below, you can see most of the research room. In the back left is the entrance, with the office to the right.  Along the right wall is the microfilm, and a bank of computers is on the left.  Not shown are the microfilm readers, which were behind me when I took the photo.  The microfilm readers (I think there were four or five of them) are all electric and hooked up to computers and printers.  

02 September 2013

Favorite Records: Maps

     I've always loved maps - who doesn't?  They're fun and entertaining, as well as an essential tool for genealogy.  And there are so many to choose from!

     Contemporary are your basic starting point, especially when you plotting out ancestral locations and planning to visit them.  There are many online options, the most popular being:

     But really, the most useful maps are those contemporary to the lives of our ancestors.  Here are some great collections:
  • David Rumsey Historical Map Collection - There are so many maps on this site, as well as a multitude of ways to view them.  You can just look at the overall collection of maps, or find and view them with tools such as MapRank Search, Google Earth, Second Life, and more.  There's a ton going on here, so take some time and explore. 
  • Sanborn (Fire Insurance) Maps - 
    These maps are mostly of cities and towns, providing detailed information about the streets and buildings.  You'll need a ProQuest password to access these maps on the official Sanborn website, but you can also probably find the maps you're looking for through another portal.  Just Google "Sanborn Maps" and the location you're looking for (ex. Georgia) and you'll probably find what you're looking for.  For example, the Digital Library of Georgia provides access to Georgia maps.  
  • Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library - Part of the University of Georgia Libraries, this digital collection includes over 1,000 old and rare maps.  
  • USGS Historical Map Collection - These are topographical maps, which include designations for some structures such as churches and cemeteries.  You'll need to download the maps to view them.
  • Old Maps Online - This site provides an easy way to search for old maps housed on other websites.
  • Atlas of Historical County Boundaries - 
    This site contains files can be downloaded to your computer and used with Google Earth to allow you to view historical counties.  You can also their online viewer to see political boundary changes by state or for the whole country.
  • Genealogy Inc - View a progression of county boundaries, one state at a time, using this website.
  • American Memory Map Collection - This is a website for the Library of Congress' digital map collection. You can search maps or browse by category.  A lot of the maps have been moved to another LoC site, but if so, the links are included.
  • Real Life! - Not all historic maps can be found online.  I've found some amazing maps housed at libraries, archives and book stores.  They can be found in their original form, as copies, in books and on microfilm.  
    And these maps can be fun and helpful just as they are... but what about creating a really interactive experience? 
  • HistoryPin - This site allows you to upload old photos or view those uploaded by others, "pinned" in the location they were taken.  You can even arrange your photos onto a Google Maps "Street View," so that it can be viewed as if you were standing on the street and holding up the photo.  It's not a perfect system, but it pretty neat.
  • Uencounter.me - This site allows you to place pins on a map, called "encounters," and create personal maps (collections of pins).  You can add photos and information for each pin to explain its significance. 
  • Flickr - A photo sharing site, Flickr allows you to add your photos to a map.  There's the double benefit of having your photos stored online, as well as being able to organize them on the map
  • Google Earth - Just for your desktop, you can do so much with this program.  I love to plot the locations where my ancestors lived with pins shaped like houses, churches, etc, then take the maps that I've found else where and overlay them.  I learned how to do this from Lisa Louise Cook's class at a Family History Expo.


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