Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Connections and a New Mystery

Earlier I posted about Dock Braswell and his father's petition to get him out of jail.  I had just posted this petition because it was in one of the Crawford County folders at the Georgia Archives.  While I knew that J.G. Braswell's daughter Virginia had married a family connection (Emanuel Horne), I hadn't paid much attention to Dock. 

Today I learned that Fannie Hause (or House) and Dock Braswell married in 1898, in Houston County.  They are tenuously connected in that Fannie is the granddaughter of John and Margaret Moore of Houston County and Emanuel Horne's sister Carrie married one of the Moores' grandsons, although of a different line.   In the 1900 census, Fannie and her daughter Bessie, age 2, are living with Fannie's parents Charles and Sarah Hause in Houston County.  Fannie is listed as married.

The mystery, however, is Dock himself.  Because of Virginia, I had already done some research on J.G. (Jacob Green) Braswell.  According to the census, he had two sons - Jacob Green and Isaac Luther.  However, his obituary only lists one surviving son "J.J. Braswell".   Both his sons appear to have gone by their middle names.  J.G. Braswell himself is seen as J.G., as Green, and as Pope.  His obituary confirms the nickname Pope.  As such, it is easy to imagine him nicknaming a son Dock as opposed to actually giving him that name.   Isaac Luther is documented as having married in 1894 and is living with that wife in the 1900 census, eliminating him as the possible "Dock" unless he was a bigamist, unlikely in a small community like that.   Green is living with his father in 1900 and is listed as single.   If J.G. was truthful in naming Dock as his son in his affidavit, then it would seem likely that Green is that son. 

I have not been able to find any Dock Braswell (with various spellings) in the census who would fit as either J.G.'s son or Fannie's husband.   I also have not found a Green Braswell of an appropriate age in the census after 1900.   It does seem unusual that a nickname would have been used on both the court record and the marriage record but never on the census.  Because of this anomaly, I think more work will need to be done on Dock, but for now I am tentatively hypothesizing that he is J.G.'s son Green.  

Pope Braswell's obituary does have one small fact that might provide some evidence - he is listed as having a daughter Fannie, but there is no other evidence of such a daughter in the household.  I wonder if this was actually a reference to a daughter-in-law?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Crawford County Records at the Georgia Archives

I have been surprised at how few researchers know that the Georgia State Archives hold 14 boxes of unfilmed original Crawford County records.  These are an absolute goldmine.  The record group  is mis-leadingly named as "Probate Court - Miscellaneous Records of the Inferior Court".  The miscellaneous part is right and there are in fact many probate records, but there is much more besides.  The vast majority of the records are 19th century although there are a very few that are early 20th century. 

There is in fact a basic finding aid for the records (click on the link that says "view inventory").  It only gives the name of the primary person in the file, but it is a whole lot better than nothing.  If you do go there, I strongly encourage you to look at any folder with a family name, since many other people appear in these records who are not indexed. 

So what all is in here?  Well, there are wills that do not appear in the will books in the Knoxville Courthouse.  There are requests for administration (often naming the heirs) as well as inventories and returns.  Typical probate records in fact.  There are also many bonds, both for guardianship and for jobs, particularly for constable.  There are records involving committing people to the State insane asylum.  These not only list the reasons but they were also required to notify the three closest adult relatives - and they are named.   There are judgments against people for various offensives, normally minor "disturbance of the peace" type records.   There are various cases brought for other reasons.  For instance, one of the files was a man bringing a suit against his brother-in-law, accusing him of bigamy. 

To see these records, you have to fill out a request at the desk.  You will be taken back to the manuscript room, which operates under some very tight but sensible rules.  You can take notes on the records or photograph them.   Not all manuscripts can be photographed, but these have been determined to be old enough to not contain current privacy-related information.

I strongly, strongly encourage anyone doing Crawford County research to look into these records.  I have found some real gold there, including proof of parentage for several of my ancestors.  Don't assume that you can find the same information on line or at the courthouse in Knoxville; this stuff is unique. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Valerie's father

Valerie Henson was born on 20 November 1918, probably in Grayson County, TX.  Her biggest mystery is her father.  Was it John Henson (the man who raised her) or Vernon Waits (the man married to her mother when she was born)?

Unusually, the Texas birth certificate data base does not have a record for Valerie, even though they do have one for her sister (or half-sister) Willie Waits and her half-sister (or step-sister) Lollie Henson, both born in Grayson County the year before.   The first public record for her is in the 1920 census, in the household of her grandfather Robert Murphy in Grayson County, Tx.  Her mother Carrie (listed as widowed) and sister Willie also appear in that census, all of them with the surname Waits.  Carrie may have actually been divorced rather than widowed, since there is evidence that Vernon Waits was still alive in 1930, although he is not confirmed as the same man. 

John Henson appears in that same census, also in Grayson County,  and he is legitimately widowed, with his wife Eva Manley Henson having died of pneumonia in October 1918.  He had 5 children at home, ages 12 to 2 1/2.  He also had a housekeeper living with him.

John and Carrie married about 1921, meaning that he became the father-figure in Valerie's life from the time that she was 2 or 3 years old.  However, I have not been able to find Valerie or Willie in the 1930 census.   John and Carrie are living in Bryan County, OK.  Four  of John's children from his first marriage, as well as two children they had had together, are living with them, but not the two Waits girls.  Neither have I managed to find them elsewhere in the census, either as Waits or Henson.

Valerie married Alfred Carender and they had a son Walter Edgar born about 1937.  They are living with John and Carrie Henson in 1940.  Valerie is listed as married, but she was apparently in the process of getting divorced, since she remarried later that year.   Her sister Willie married Alfred's brother Leslie.

Valerie's tombstone gives her name as Valerie Henson Rust and her obituary lists her parents as John Henson and Carrie Murphy Henson.  It is fairly apparent that she considered John Henson her father.  Since her children were born in Oklahoma, it is not possible to see what name was used on their birth certificates.  Her sister Willie lived in Texas and has her maiden name as Henson on one child's birth record, but as Waits on the other two. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Alia Rose

My nephew recently became a father to a little girl who represents the newest branch of our extended family tree and who is my father's first great-grandchild.   Talking to her parents, we got into a discussion of ethnicity and it occurred to us that this child is quintessentially American, a mixture of heritages that is pretty well unique to this continent, even if not to this country. 

Her paternal grandfather was an immigrant from Venezuela, although he did not stay in the U.S.  That makes her father a first generation American on that side.  On the other hand, her mother's family and her father's maternal family can claim lineages back to the 17th century colonies.  One line even extends back to Jamestown.  That makes her both a descendent of a very new arrival and of some of the very first Europeans in this nation.  As far as we know, she is not descended from those later arrivals, the Pilgrims, but she did have ancestors in early New England (1632).

Her ancestry is largely European, with a huge chunk of British (English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh) and Spanish/Portuguese, and lesser amounts of other European nations, including France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.  She probably has some American Indian (Cherokee) but that is not proven yet and it is likely that she has some South American Indian too, through her father.   She has a tiny percentage of Jewish blood.  Among her ancestors were also African slaves as well as free persons of color, thriving in the old south despite the difficulties facing them.

Her ancestors or their siblings fought in every major war the U.S. has been in, from the Revolution forward.  They also fought against the U.S. in several Confederate states.  These predecessors weren't for the most part famous or prominent people, just farmers, workers and craftsmen, with a few teachers or professors thrown into the mix.  They came over - not legally per se since there were no legal requirements at the time - to get land and to find opportunity.  They worked hard and sometimes they prospered.  Occasionally the bigger financial crises brought them down again, often leading them to abandon where they were and to move on.  They were an integral part of that restless movement first south and then west that stole the land from those who had traditionally occupied it but also turned it into what it is today.

  In modern America, she will be considered white and may choose to call herself hispanic.   But the reality is that she is a vast mixture of the many peoples that make up this country.  She's a little American mutt and we're very proud of it. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nancy Whitaker Horne

I notice that my posts are very male heavy, so today will redress the balance a little bit.  Nancy Whitaker (spelled many creative ways) was born about 1806 in South Carolina.  Nothing is known so far about her parentage or her early life before her marriage to Nathan Horn on 21 July 1821, in Wilkinson County, GA.    Having married so young, she was still fairly young when left a widow in 1840, with 7 or 8 children.  Of those children, Nancy (possibly a stepdaughter) and Sarah were already married.   The 1840 census gives the possibility of two sons older than Columbus, but if so they have disappeared from the records by the 1850 census.   There were 5 children still at home at that time.  Nancy's level of education is unknown, but she was able to at least sign her name on documents, rather than leave her mark. 

On Nathan's death, Nancy was made temporary administrator of the estate, and provided an inventory of the property on 16 December 1840.  Shortly thereafter, William D. Melton was appointed as the permanent administrator and he returned a valuation of the goods in January 1841, giving a total value of $509.75.  This did not include any of the property but did include promissory notes for money owed Nathan from Martin Hill, Gilford Grant, John Jermony, Sherod Horne, and George F. Mathews.  Most of the notes had been due in 1838-1839, possibly a further indicator of the troubled financial times.   An estate sale was held in 1841, netting $105.18.  At this sale, Nancy purchased a walnut writing desk, a shovel and tongs, a pot rack and coffee mill, a lot of jars, jugs and bottles, 2 barrels and 1 bell (pail?), a saddle and bridle, 3 raw hides, 15 head of hogs and 2 yearlings.  The other purchasers were William D. Melton, Uriah Melton, B. Stovall, S. Rutherford, G. Grant, E. Mathews and I (or J) Davis.

There is one curious circumstance of Nancy's life after Nathan died.   He died shortly after the panic of 1837 and the subsequent bank collapse and consequently, had significant debts. Tax records from 1840 show him defaulting on the taxes for 488 acres in district 7, and newspaper reports indicate that 202 acres were seized to cover taxes.    Court records as the estate was probated indicate that his land was to be sold to pay his debts, with the specific plots given.  In fact, probate records show payment for someone to go and sell the land in Cherokee county.

Nancy is not mentioned in the 1840's tax records, either paying or defaulting.  In 1851, she is shown paying taxes on 100 Acres in Crawford County, Section 73, district 2.   In 1856, however, she is paying taxes on 304 acres in Crawford County, as well as land in Union, Cobb, Coweta, Cherokee and Walker counties.  Comparison of the plot designators indicate that all of these (except for the land in Crawford and Coweta Counties) are plots allegedly owned by Nathan and sold after his death.  This is not all the land he had, but all this land originally belonged to him.   In 1857, she has apparently gotten rid of some of the land but she is still paying taxes on land in Union and Cherokee. She is also now paying tax on the property they originally had in Pulaski county as well.

The increase in property in Crawford County is not necessarily surprising.  If Nancy was successfully running the farm (and she had several boys to help with that) and times improved, she might well have managed to purchase land.  But how did she get the land back that had been "sold"?  And if it wasn't sold, why didn't she pay taxes (or get penalized for defaulting on taxes) between 1840 and 1856?  Next step is to check out the non-burned courthouses for the land records, to see if they show any clues for what was going on here.

Nancy disappears from the records after the 1860 census.  It is possible that she married, but considering her age, probably slightly more probable that she died. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Washington William Buchanan Horne

According to his wife's confederate pension application, Washington W. B. Horne was born in September 1835 in Crawford County, GA.  His parents were Nathan Horne and Nancy Whitaker.  He lost his father quite young, having just turned 5 when Nathan died.  The family apparently went through some tough financial times for a period, with debts showing up in various records.  However, by 1857, his mother had restored their finances sufficiently that she was paying taxes on their Crawford County land as well as land in several other counties.   Wash and his sister Mary may have been twins, since they show as the same age in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.  However, since these censuses were done on the same date, it is also possible that one of them is 10-11 months older than the other, with a birthday shortly after the census.  Mary disappears after the 1860 census.  There are indications, including Mary Ann's pension application, that he was originally just known as William Buchanan Horne and that the Washington was a later addition.  He also appears in one census as "Buck". 

Washington enlisted in Savannah on 3 May 1862, in the 57th GA infantry regisment, along with his future wife Mary Ann's brother James.  He received a $50 bounty for doing so.   James died in Tennessee in December 1862.  Washington continued with the army to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they remained until surrenduring on 4 July 1863.  Washington was among those paroled and sent home until they could be exchanged.

Shortly afterwards, on 8 September 1863, Washington and Mary Ann Morris were married.  The date is from Mary Ann's pension application, but it is unclear where they married since they do not appear in the Crawford County marriage books.  The 57th GA was apparently exchanged by October 1863, when they were reassigned first to Savannah, then in February 1864 to guard duty at Andersonville.  In May of that year they were sent to join the confederate forces defending against the Union advance into Georgia.  Washington was wounded and lost an arm at some point in July, possibly at the battle of Peachtree Creek, where the 57th suffered heavy casualties.  He returned to Crawford county at that time and stayed there.

Both before and after the war, Washington served as a constable for Crawford County and worked as a farmer.  He and Mary Ann apparently had 7 children, 4 of whom were still alive in 1900.   The known children were:

  -- James Washington Horne, 1867-1933.  Married Ada Julia Barfield and remained in Crawford County.
  -- John Horne, b abt 1870.  Probably died before 1880.
  -- Emanuel E. Horne, b 1874, died after 1940.  He married Virginia Braswell.  E.E. had a troubled life.  He was arrested at least once for robbing Moses Wade and was not with his wife in the 1920 census.  In 1910 and 1940 he was in the state asylum in Milledgeville.  He was released at least once when the court decided that he was not in fact insane, but apparently was later sent back.  He was living with his family in Macon in 1930.
   -- Jerry Horne, 1877-1957.
   -- Carrie Frances Horne,  1880-1960.  She married James Edward Wade and remained in Crawford County.

In 1880, Washington was confined to the State Insane Asylum, where he died 4 years later.  He is buried in Crawford County.  Mary Ann remained in Crawford county and is buried next to her husband.