Archive for September, 2009

September 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: John and Jane Shook

John and Jane Shook, Shook Cemetery, Rabun Co., GA

John Jane
Nicholson Shook
Deadas | Alexander
William | Margaret
Mary | Martha
Caroline | Rebecca
Angeline | Fate
Sarah | John
Nancy | Mack
Elizabeth | Manda Ree

Taken at Shook Cemetery, Rabun Co., GA. The original stones still mark the burial sites. One of the stones near the large, new stone has some writing scratched into it, but we were unable to decipher it.

John Shook’s death date, at least, is recorded in court minutes. During the January Term, 1888, of the Court of Ordinary, Rabun Co., GA, Alexander A. Shook brought evidence that “on the 9th day of January 1888 John Shook of Said county departed this life”. The heirs at law of the deceased “are fourteen in number” and were listed as Alexander A. Shook, Rebecka Elliot, Mary Smith, Elizabeth Eller, John Shook, Nancy Singleton, Sara Crag, Margaret King, Amanda Baker, Martha Baker, William Shook, John Shook, Jr., James Shook, and Demarious Tanner.1

As Jane wasn’t mentioned as an heir in the above minutes, she had most likely predeceased her husband. She was still living in 1880 when she and John were enumerated on the 1880 US Census in the household of their son-in-law and daughter, Albert and Sarah Cragg. Also enumerated was nine-year old Dorah Smith, listed as Albert’s “nice”;2 she was possibly the daughter of Sarah’s sister, Mary.

Additional information on Jane’s date of death may be contained in the records created by the probate of her husband’s estate.

1. Minutes, Court of Ordinary, Rabun Co., 1887 – 1898: 13. Probate Judge’s Office, County Courthouse, Clayton, Georgia.
2. Albert Cragg household, 1880 U.S. Census, Rabun County, Georgia, population schedule, Tallulah District No. 509, Enumeration District 172, Supervisor’s District 1, sheet 9, dwelling 74, family 75. Taken from: and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration micropublication T9, roll 162.

September 20, 2009

OBCGS Annual Workshop A Rousing Success

Yesterday, I was priviliged to be able to attend the Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society‘s annual Fall workshop. This year’s speakers were archivists and librarians from Western North Carolina colleges and universities, with one speaker who holds an archivist position at both a college and a private high school. Each shared information on his or her institute’s genealogical and historical holdings, particularly within the Special Collections. The speakers and their respective school were as follows:

1. Dr. Karen Paar, Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, Madison Co., NC
2. Dr. Helen Wykle, University of North Carolina, Asheville, Asheville, Buncombe Co., NC
3. Kathy Staley, Appalachian State University, Boone, Watauga Co., NC
4. Diana R. Sanderson, Warren Wilson College and Asheville School, Asheville
5. George Frizzell, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, Jackson Co., NC

The collections described were remarkable; I will be making future posts on each institute.

The workshop itself was well-organized, and well-attended by a good group of researchers. It was held in the current OBCGS library, located on 128 Bingham Road in Asheville. Topics for next year’s workshop are now being considered, and I look forward to attending it next September.

September 11, 2009

Barbara McRae and Teresita Press

I am a huge fan of working with original rather than derivative versions of records, but every once in a while, a published work comes along that is of such a caliber as to make it not only a necessary addition to the home library, but a highly functional one.

Such is the case with Macon County, NC in the 1850 Census: A Snapshot in Time compiled by Barbara McRae and published by Teresita Press, a small, private press founded by McRae that specializes in the publication of genealogical and historical information, particularly in record transcriptions.

A Snapshot in Time includes a transcription of not only the free population schedule from the 1850 US Census, but also includes transcriptions of each of the other schedules for this census, including mortality, agriculture, industry, and slave. The free population and agriculture production schedules are intermingled so that on each page one may find the household as it was enumerated in the free population schedule at the top of the page, and running along the bottom (on that page or within a few pages), one could see the same household’s farming output, if any were made for that household. The whole is fully indexed and bound in a tight spiral binding.

The best part of A Snapshot in Time isn’t its completeness or the well-organized index; the best part of this work is in its accuracy. Inevitably, in any derivation, errors creep in, most notably due to misreading the scribe’s handwriting. This work is no exception; however, the errors are so minimal as to be overlooked. When one compares this book to microfilmed versions of the 1850 US Census for Macon County, one will inevitably find the names transcribed correctly, and when one thumbs through the index, one can be reasonably certain of its completeness.

Such accuracy is the hallmark of a professional of McRae’s caliber. A long-time editor of The Franklin Press, Macon County’s paper of record, McRae also writes a long-standing column for the paper called Know Your County, which focuses on the area’s historicity. McRae cut her genealogical teeth with the column, and moved on to Records of Old Macon County, North Carolina, 1829-1850, a wonderful abstract of Macon County’s earliest deed books that has been reprinted by Clearfield Company, a division of Genealogical Publishing Company.

McRae has, alone and with the help of others, compiled derivations of other important early records for Macon County, many available through Teresita Press. Researchers of the old Macon County area are fortunate to have such resources to use as a supplement to the original official records.

September 7, 2009

Aunt Andy’s Cobbler

My father’s sister, Andrea, was known for her kind heart and effervescent love of life. Few knew of her wicked skills at the Canasta table, and even fewer were allowed the recipe for the wonderful fruit cobblers she baked. Cancer claimed Andy just a few short years ago, at much too young of an age, but each time I make this recipe, I remember her warm-hearted goodness.

Just as a warning: this is one of those pinch of this mountain recipes with largely inexact measurements and cooking times.


1 stick butter, slightly softened (one stick equals 1/2 cup)
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 cans of fruit in heavy syrup (berries or peaches are the best)
fresh whipped cream sweetened with a little sugar

Pour the fruit into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan (glass is best). In a bowl, mix the butter, flour and sugar together with a fork until all is incorporated; you should have very small clumps (smaller than peas), but the butter should not melt. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven until the center is no longer doughy, about half an hour to 45 minutes. If the top is browning too fast, either turn the oven down a bit or cover the pan loosely with tin foil (being sure the foil is not touching the cobbler).

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with freshly whipped cream and enjoy.

Notes on the ingredients:
1. Butter is an absolute must; margarine or shortening must never be used.
2. Home canned fruit is best, if you don’t have fresh. Prepare fresh fruit by cooking it on the stove with a little water and sugar (to taste) before making the cobbler.
3. Do not ruin my Aunt Andy’s cobbler by topping it with store-bought substitutes, like Cool Whip or ReadyWhip. If you’re going to have a dessert this good, then suck it up and use real, heavy whipping cream that you’ve made yourself.

September 6, 2009

A Sunday Walk Around the Blogs

The Augusta Chronicle Goldmine from Begin with Craft. Online newspaper research for the area near August, GA.

Tombstone Tuesday: Highlands, NC by Elizabeth Powell Crowe, a well-known genealogical author, includes a link to the Highlands Memorial Cemetery survey housed on my Macon Co., NC genealogy web site. How nifty! The survey was done by my cousins, Leah and Glenda, and Leah’s friend and research buddy, Maxi.

The Will of Milas Thompson-1889; Rabun County, GA from My Papa’s Book. Interestingly enough, I drove through the old Thompson property not too long ago.

September 5, 2009

Junior and Senior in Records

I recently had the opportunity to work on the Ledford family of Clay County, North Carolina, while reconstructing land records for a client.1 One of the problems I encountered was the fact that every family unit seemed to have at least one male named Jason. In an eight-tract (i.e. land lot) area over about twenty years, I handled records for at least four different Jason Ledfords: Jason D. Ledford, “Big Jason” Ledford, and two distinctly different Jason W. Ledfords (who lived on adjacent tracts).2

Sorting through these Jasons is problematic, but it also brings up an interesting point. When this land was first granted by the state of North Carolina in Cherokee County, North Carolina (from which Clay County was formed in 1861), the two eldest Jason Ledfords were designated in the deed index as Jason Ledford, Jr. (later known as “Big Jason” Ledford) and Jason Ledford, Sr. (who later went by Jason D. Ledford).

These two men were not father and son. Instead, they were designated as “Jr.” (meaning younger) and “Sr.” (meaning elder) by the recording clerk to differentiate between them in the records each created. We only know this because we verified this information against other records. If we hadn’t studied land records over a large span of time and correlated them with federal census records, then we might have assumed that the Jr. and Sr. designations meant father and son.

Assumptions of this sort can be dangerous when reconstructing a lineage. People often assign relationships to others in legal documents that had different meanings in the past than they do today. The term brother could refer to an actual brother, or it could be a brother-in-law or a spiritual brother (one who professes the same faith as the party in question). A son-in-law named as such could actually be a daughter’s husband, or it could be a stepson or grandchild. Efforts should always be made to determine the legal and biological relationships of the people involved before definitively applying a modern relationship indicator.

1. This research was performed at the request of Bobby E. Ledford, whose ancestors resided in Clay Co., NC.
2. There were other Jason Ledfords in the area at the same time, at least some of whom were directly related to the four Jason Ledfords mentioned. The narrow focus of the described research largely eliminated these other Jason Ledfords from the study’s purvue.

September 4, 2009

Nanny and Dad, 1945

Stella Martin Watson with son, Varney Watson, circa 1945

Stella Martin Watson with son, Varney, circa 1945

This picture is a poignant reminder of the loss of my grandfather, Thad J. Watson, Sr. (“Daddy Thad”), who died in August 1944 just a few months before my father’s birth later that year. My grandmother, whom we called Nanny, is wearing Daddy Thad’s wings on her left shirt pocket, and I believe the insignia on her left sleeve was also once part of my grandfather’s uniform.

Note: This post created in response to GeneaBloggers’ Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #35: Share a photo that conjures mixed emotions in you. Explain why this is the case as you detail the who/what/when/where/why of the subject matter.

September 3, 2009

The Curious Manner of Lazarus Tilly’s Will

A friend of mine asked me to look into the Tilly family of Rabun County, Georgia a few weeks ago. While doing so, I ran across the last will and testament of Lazarus Tilly, which was written November 30, 1839 and proven in court during the March Term, 1841, in Rabun County.1 In his will, Lazarus named his wife, Sarah, and children Alfred Tilly, Elizabeth Millender, Polly Calwell, Margaret Owens, Lewis Tilly, John Tilly, and Nancy Holcombe.

In and of itself the will does not seem strange, but further research into contemporary court records illuminates an oddity: two of the named children were deceased at the time Lazarus wrote his will.

Continue Reading

September 2, 2009

State of NC and Payne vs. Dills

I ran across this interesting tidbit a few weeks ago while indexing Superior Court Minutes 1869 – 1872 (Macon Co., NC). From page 46:

Warrant Issued 7th day April 1870 Returned 7th April 1870 with the defendant [J. M. Dills] arrested by W. A. Shepherd. She [Mary E. Payne] come up on evidence of the prosecuter that the said child was born in the State of Georgia where its mother was at the time domiciled.

The child’s name is not mentioned, and repeated attempts to find Mary Payne in the 1870 US Census in both Macon County and nearby Rabun Co., GA, have proved fruitless.

Continue Reading

September 1, 2009

OBCGS Workshop, September 19, 2009

The Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society will hold its annual genealogical workshop on Saturday, September 19, 2009, at its library in Asheville, NC. This year’s program is “Holdings of Interest to Genealogists in Area College and University Libraries”. The libraries covered will be those of Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, UNC-Asheville, Mars Hill College, and Warren Wilson College.

The workshop will be from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with registration from 8:30 to 9:00. The cost is $10.00, which does not include lunch. Pre-registration is encouraged. For more information, see September Genealogy Workshop.