Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lost In Sherrod Research

Haven't written a blog since August.  Unbelievable how fast time passes while life continues outside of this genealogy journey that I love so much.  Not to say I didn't fit a piece in here and there. Passion will always rule if you go with the flow.

The Sherrod branch of my family has dominated a piece here, an hour there and a minute of thought here and there.  Colonel Benjamin Sherrod was recorded in my third great grandfather, Silas Sherrod's US Claim to the United States requesting payment for blacksmith services provided to the Union Troops that came through Town Creek, Alabama during the Civil War needing repairs for their horses.  Having limited material he was creative in meeting their needs according to his account in the claim.  In addition to the services needed, they took supplies from an enslaved family for provisions as a hog, cattle and flour.  Obviously, the troops told Silas Sherrod that the US government would reimburse him.  He followed the process but it was his word only with the support of his previous owner, Walter Sherrod.  Silas' claim was denied since he could not afford to send witnesses to Washington, DC to testify for him.  So oh well he moved on and dealt with life.

The key information on this part of my journey was Silas naming in the claim that he was own by Benjamin Sherrod then Walter Sherrod before freedom.  It was exciting to finally find the owning family on this journey that might move the research back in time.  Hunting around finding that Col. Benjamin Sherrod own in some records 300 and in other 700 slaves scattered around five plantations. Oh my, this blew my mind but I proceeded to find some record of these human enslaved peoples' names and sure enough in his Will of 1846, he named about 300.  It was challenging reading the copy of the will acquired from the Lawrence County Archives in Moulton, Alabama.  The task was more involved than originally thought for first you record the names of slaves, then you determine who in Col. Benjamin Sherrod's family inherited them.  Last you try to determine which plantation they lived on and go from there.  Emotionally, the process was deeper than expected and the progress was slowed by trying to read writing from 167 years ago.  The deed is done along with tracking the descendants of Col. Benjamin Sherrod.  Sure enough his son, Samuel Watkins Sherrod inherited the plantation in Town Creek, Alabama in 1847 upon Benjamin's death.  However, Samuel died in 1848 and his son Walter inherited the plantation along with the enslaved people.  This is what my third great grandfather stated in in US Claim of 1871.  I have at least two more steps to take 1) Sharing the slaves that I've pulled from the records with other Sherrod researchers.  2) Securing a copy of Samuel's will for it my also list slave names.

Oh, what a journey and what a help others could be if they would consider the impact of slavery in their family that affected  other families.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 28 Saunders/Sanders Part I

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 28 – Saunders Part I

The 1850 Lawrence County, Alabama Slave Census, 8th District enumerated by J. B. Speaks, Assistant Marshal recorded James E. Saunders as owning forty-one slaves.  The question challenge for my research journey is whether a branch of my family was own by the Saunders family in Lawrence or Colbert Counties in northwest Alabama.  Interesting enough is that most of my family branches that lived in that area carried the surnames of slave owners in the area.

The challenge of the journey is to reconstruct the African-American family with the Saunders/Sanders surname that is connected to our known family. 

1.     First there is Alex Saunders, known by a cousin that lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for years.  Alex and my living cousin were both born in Lawrence/Colbert county Alabama, recognized that they were cousins and yet didn’t know how they were related. 

2.     The first step was to learn as much about Alex Saunders as possible.  Alex Saunders died according Ohio Death Records, 1938-2007, on 15 Aug 1972 in Daniel Drake Memorial Hospital in Cincinnati at the age of 80.  WWII draft registration card 1942 recorded his birthdate as 20 April 1893 in Courtland, Alabama, his work place as Cincinnati Milling Machine Co.  Person who will know your address is his sister, Alice Bullock, 250 St. Peters Street, Cincinnati.

a.     Result in reconstructing the Alex Saunders’s family:
                                                                 i.     Alex Saunders and Alice Bullock are siblings
                                                                ii.     Alex was born in Lawrence Co., AL in 1893.  Note: Making progress.
                                                              iii.     1935, 1936, US City Directory 1821-1989, Alex Saunders is living at 2738 Hoff St. Cincinnati.  Later in 1942 WWII Draft Record, his address was 3096 Gilbert Ave. same city.  Nick Saunders had the same address prior to 1938 when he is living with his wife, Ruth.  No relationship defined for Nick although he is working at the same company as Alex.
                                                              iv.     In the 1958 City Directory, Alex is living at 530 W. Liberty with a spouse, Mattie.
                                                                v.     24 May 1923 one Alex Saunders married Mattie Lee in Jefferson County, AL.
                                                              vi.     1942 Draft Register Card stated his race was Negro, Height 5’ 9””, weight 163, eyes Brown, hair Black, complexion Dark Brown, Wears glasses.
Note:  Records found revealed a fair amount of information about Alex.  Sometimes the name was Saunders while other times it was Sanders.  Other than marriage records in Jefferson County, most linked back to Lawrence County Alabama. 

3.     Second steps led me to his younger years and here are some of the results.
a.     1929 Atlanta City Directory, Alex and Mattie are listed living at 65 Richmond St. SE and he is listed as a labor.  Not definite yet could be my Alex.
b.     1910 US Census Courtland Lawrence County, on 15 April lived Alic Sanders, age 49 with his wife Jennie, age 49 and their children: Ilmer 20, George 14, Alice 12 and a nephew, Emett Johnson 16.  Jennie had 9 children living of 10 she gave birth.
c.      Next to these Sanders was Ellen Bynum 38 a widower.  Interesting for we have a Bynum family connection.
d.      1900 US Census Town Creek, Lawrence Co., Township 4, Range 8.  Bingo – definitely the area where my family lived during that period.  Father: Alexander Sanders, born 1853 AL Mother: Virginia
Children:  Willie, son, 18; Laura, daughter 16; Salinah, daughter, 11; Alexander, son, 10; Ilmer, son, 8; Allace (?Alice), daughter 8; George, son 8 and Harris Saunders 32 Boarder.  Living next door was Elles Bynum and Eliza.

Summary: Jennie/Virginia Sherrod married Alex Saunders (1) in Lawrence County, AL on 17 Dec 1879.  Virginia is a sister of my second great grandmother that married Henry Carroll/Cal in 1882.  Now I know the Alex Saunders connection to our family and have another path of the journey to explore.  I’ve accounted for eight of the nine children living in 1900 and now need to see how Nicolas Saunders fit in with Alex.

Oh, what an ongoing journey and loving every bit of it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 27 - Henry Carroll/Cal Jr.

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 27 – Henry Carroll/Cal Jr.

Henry Carroll was born on the 24 September 1894 in Town Creek, Alabama and appears to be the seventh son of Henry Carroll/Cal and Celia Sherrod.  The date of birth changes depending on the documents found.  I’ve decided to use the military records for his birth.  The Carroll/Cal line is designated like this for in the early records, the last name is recorded as Carroll and evolves to Cal. 

Henry, along with his brothers, Dallas, Charles, John, Robert and Earnest worked on their father, Henry Carroll/Cal Sr.’s farm and registered for the World War I draft as required by the government around June 1917.  Henry Jr. appears to be the only brother the records show enlisted in the army on 12 December 1917.  The army was still segregated under the command of President Wilson.  Henry became a Private in Company A, Unit 308 SV, BN in the military and served throughout the war receiving an Honorable discharge on 25 July 1919.  Verbal history from his niece, Dorothy is that he peeled potatoes and performed prepping work for the cook and was stationed in France.  I’m still looking for records that would support  Co. A, Unit 308.

Henry Jr. had a child named Henry Jr. that was born in 1913 before he entered the military.  The Alabama Death Index shows that child died 13 June 1914 at 18 months old in Lawrence County, Alabama.  The record also lists the child’s mother as unknown, which is rather puzzling.  On 5 June 1917, when Henry Jr. registered for World War I draft he is listed as farming and being single living in Colbert County, Alabama.  This was on land his father, Henry Carroll/Cal Sr. own.

Henry Jr. married Georgia Bell Hampton on 6 April 1924 in Lawrence County, Alabama.  The US Census records for Town Creek, Lawrence County, Alabama show he lived in Town Creek in 1930 and 1940 with his wife, Georgia Belle Hampton. Georgia Belle’s nickname was “Sugarbabe”.  Henry Jr. and Sugarbabe had one son, Lennis (1903-2003).  This appears to be before they married in 1924.  Lennis Cal had a son, Lennis Cal Jr., born 17 March 1955 and died 21 Nov 1976 at about twenty-one years old.

Georgia Belle applied for the application for a military headstone and received it after his death in 1959.    Henry Jr. died on the 11 June 1985 and is buried in the Cal Family Cemetery in Colbert County, Alabama.  So while I’ve never known my great uncle, Henry Carroll/Cal Jr., he participated in World War I and made a contribution to World War I.  He also had what my cousin calls an “outside child” Emmett Cal.  Emmitt was born in December 1913 in Alabama and I’ve yet to find out his mother’s name.  Emmitt married in 1938 and lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee most of his life.  He had at less one son, Emmitt Jr.  Following Henry Jr.’s descendants open doors to the Cal Family in Chattanooga, specifically John Henry Cal and his wife, Hannah Napier both born in Town Creek, Alabama that relocated to Chattanooga.  Always, wondered if there is a connection.  They lived with Emmitt according to the Chattanooga Directory so who knows.  Hopefully, it will lead to solving the mystery.

There is much to be discovered about family on this family journey.

Friday, July 4, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 26 - Wiley Woodard (1)

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 26 – Wiley Woodard (1)

Wiley Woodard (I) was born about 1784 in Brunswick County, Virginia.  He was a black man, perhaps a slave or born as a free man of color.  The story of finding him was amazing to me.  Back in the day, the only way to research was writing down what was known based on interviews of family members about various branches. Knowing about my grandfather, John Henry Woodard, led me to finding his father, Wiley Woodard (2) and mother, Josephine Martin.  They married in Meriwether County, Georgia on 18 July 1868.  Documentation was found in John Henry Woodard’s West Virginia’s death certificate for 15 January 1932 and in the 1900 US Census for Meriwether County in the small town of Odessadale Georgia, leading me to Wiley Woodard (2) was born in Virginia about April 1825. 

The challenge was moving back in time to Wiley Woodard’s (2) parents.  The trial was finding information without “proper documentation” for Georgia didn’t begin recording deaths until later than what was needed.  You see it appeared Wiley (2) died about 1905-09 for he was not found in the 1910 census and his wife; Josephine was listed as a widow in that record.  While researching at the Georgia Archives standing in line to make copies, a red book was on a shelf above the copier.  It caught my attention and was titled 1860 Georgia Census Index.  I moved with the strong feeling that it needed to be check out while my thought was why do you need to look at that book, blacks where slaves then and weren’t listed until the 1870 Census.  Going with the flow, I reach for the book and while still standing in line, looked for any Woodard listings.  Sure enough, I found one listing for “Wiley Woodard” and quickly left the line and to pull the film for review on the microfiche machine.  I found Wiley Woodard (I) listed as a black man and the path of my journey changed.  He lived in Milledgeville, Georgia and additional records showed he was a free person of color born in Brunswick County, Virginia that worked as a brick mason and his sponsor (required at that time for any free person of color) was Thomas Crowder, also born in Brunswick County, Virginia.  Wiley (1) was listed 1837-1845 in the Baldwin County Free Persons of Color Registers and in the 1850-1860 US Census.

Further research found that James Woodward, 1793-1839 of Norfolk, Virginia, a cabinetmaker emancipated his slaves.  The question became was Wiley (1) one of the emancipated slaves?   Thomas Crowder, Wiley I’s sponsor owned slaves and included Lucy with children, Wilson, Milton, Sally and Wiley among them.  When Thomas died his friend H. J. Malone managed Thomas’ estate and purchased these slaves.  H. J. died within a couple of years of the purchase and had a son, Chris Malone and Amanda Malone.  Amanda was married to man named Gilbert and they lived in Meriwether County.  Perhaps it is all a coincidence or mayhap it tells a story.

There are additional hints that lead me to claiming Wiley Woodard (I) and while I don’t tie him to Wiley Woodard 2, I do believe the ancestors speak on the journey.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 25 - Hannah Woodard Rosser

52-Ancestors 52-Weeks Week 25 – Hannah Woodard Rosser

This morning while having coffee on my cousin’s front porch in Pennsylvania very near where I was born, a sound was heard all around.  The sound took me back to the days when we would hear the call of the coalmines several times a day.  I knew this noise that could be heard all over the area and there was another tone when there was an accident in the mines.  People would rush to the closest mine entrance to find out what was going on and whether anyone, particularly any family members where injured.  You could smell and hear the anxiety of wives, mothers, sisters and children while they waited to hear the news. 

You see I’m from a coalmining family on both my maternal and paternal side.  The Watkins, Bailey, Woodard and some of the Carroll/Cal had their roots from Virginia, Georgia and Alabama.  Some followed the coalmining industry after leaving the plantations or farms.  So far in my research, it appears working in the mines was by choice rather than forced labor to provide for their families.  This week I’m thinking about Hannah Woodard, my grandfather’s older sister.  Hannah was born in Meriwether County, Georgia and sometime after having her first child, Josie Woodard (Sep 1892), she married Henry Rosser in 1894.

Henry and Hannah where living in the Saint Marks area of Georgia farming.  For some reason after they had two sons, William  (1895) and James (1897) in Georgia, they moved to Etowah County Alabama and are listed in the 1910 US Census.  Henry worked in the Alabama mines.  Etowah is a beautiful area where some of the stately homes reflect the elegance of the old south.    I wonder about the mines in the area particularly when Hannah and Henry Rosser along with their two sons lived in the area.  Henry Rosser, their youngest son was born in 7 June 1906.  Hannah’s oldest daughter, Josie remained in Meriwether County with her grandparents, Wiley and Josephine Woodard.  Henry Rosser Sr. died of a heart attack after the family moved to Jefferson County, Alabama on 24 July 1918.  The children with the exception of Henry Rosser who was twelve years were all grown.  Hannah was left in the small town of Sayre, a small coalmining town that is now one of the dead towns of Alabama with her youngest son.
It must have been a very difficult time for Hannah and her family.  Her younger brother, John Henry Woodard lived in Sayre with his wife Susie Mae Young and oldest children, Ruth and Mary Catherine.   Somewhere in the area she met Andrew (A.J.) Moore, a coal miner who was born in Alabama after Henry died.  Hannah and A.J. married in Alabama and followed the coalmining industry from Alabama to West Virginia and on to Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Branches of the family settled along the way in Logan, and Fairmont, West Virginia with some continuing migrating to Pittsburgh and Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Henry Rosser/Ross shared many memories about his mother, Hannah and his stepfather, A.J.  It took many years for the various branches to reconnect for we lost family ties along the migration path.  What a delight to be in touch with various family members through social media.