Posted in Ancestor Stories

A Long Line

So many times in genealogy research, we see a long line of males with the same given name.  First there is John, and then another John, and so many more John’s after that.  Add in a common surname and it’s enough to make your genealogy mind go crazy!  One thing you don’t normally see is when the female line of the family uses the same name time and time again.

On my maternal side, I have found that I come from a long line of women named Lydia/Lettie.  I had seen lines of more popular names like Elizabeth and Mary, but for some reason, this naming pattern really stuck with me.  If you look at traditional European naming patterns, the first daughter is usually named after the father’s mother and the second daughter is named after the mother’s mother.  This line kind of followed that pattern, but what do you do when both the paternal and maternal grandmother are named Lydia?

The line begins with my maternal 5x Great-Grandmother, Lettie Virginia Mantooth.  Lettie was born in 1796 in Shenandoah County, Virginia to Thomas Mantooth and Elizabeth Phariss.  She married William Hall and together they had seven children; Samuel, Hannah, Mary, Lydia, Herman, Thomas, and John Hall.  Lettie passed away in 1850 in Cocke County, Tennessee.

Lettie’s daughter, Lydia Hall (my 4x Great-Grandmother), was born in 1832 in Cocke County, Tennessee.  She married Solomon Price and together they had nine children; John, Lettie A, Sarah J, Nancy, Elizabeth, William, James, Mandie, and Solomon.  Lydia passed away in 1890 in Cocke County, Tennessee.

To make matters a bit more complicated, Lydia Hall’s mother-in-law was also named Lydia.  Lydia Messer was born in 1806 in Burke County, North Carolina to Christian Sargent Messer and Jane Barnett Freeman.  She married Richard “Big Dick” Price on February 11, 1825 in Haywood County, North Carolina and together they had five children; James Turner, Solomon, Sarah, Joseph, and William.  Lydia passed away in 1876 in North Carolina.

 

Now…back to Lydia Hall.  Her daughter, Lettie A. Price (my 3x Great Grandmother), was in January 1856 in Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee.  She married William Howard Henderson on February 24, 1884 in Cocke County and together they had five children; Lydia Jane, James, Delia, Amanda, and Winnie.  Lettie also had two other children with an unknown man; Ruben B and Abraham Benjamin.  Lettie passed away on May 1, 1899 in Cocke County, Tennessee.

Next in line is Lettie’s daughter, Lydia Jane Henderson (my half 3rd Great Aunt).  Lydia was born on March 20, 1888 in Cocke County, Tennessee.  She married Benjamin Lewis Ford on January 21, 1908 in Cocke County and together they had 13 children; Rufus, Martha, Lewis D, Pauline, David, Fanny, Lettie Ellen, Dolophos, James Ike, Creola, Mack, Laurie, and Carrie.  Both Benjamin and Lydia had children from previous relationships.  While they did raise these 13 children together, I am still working on who exactly belongs to who.  Lydia married for a second time to Joe Stokely Shelton on July 24, 1965 in Cocke County.  She passed away on June 25, 1977 in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey.

The last of the Lydia/Lettie line is Lydia Jane’s daughter, Lettie Ellen Ford (my half 1st cousin, 3x removed).  Lettie was born on October 10, 1914 in Cocke County, Tennessee.  I have not found a record of Lettie being married and her headstone shows her maiden name.  She did have one son, Nicholas Ford.  Lettie passed away on September 18, 1977 in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey.

I will admit that this line got a bit complicated when researching.  I had to work hard to keep all my Lydia and Lettie ancestors straight!  So, to recap, the line is Lettie Virginia Mantooth to Lydia Hall (who’s mother-in-law was Lydia Messer) to Lettie A. Price to Lydia Jane Henderson to Lettie Ellen Ford.  Hmm…maybe I should change my name to Lydia!

Posted in Ancestor Stories

Burchfield vs Henderson

Illegitimate children, by definition, are a challenge.  Especially when you are a genealogist and especially when all the parties involved have passed away.  Add in some surname swapping and changes in spelling and you may have an idea of my current challenge.  Really, my challenge for the last several years.

My 2x Great Grandfather, Abraham Benjamin Price, was born in 1878 in Cocke County, Tennessee.  Cocke County is located in East Tennessee, about 45 minutes east of Knoxville.  After the Civil War, like other counties in the area, it was a time of rebuilding.  The only problem is, Cocke county is located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  This meant that the county was isolated from not only it’s neighbors, but also from new industry.  Many who lived in the area struggled severely with making ends meet.

The perfect storm of no money and no opportunity lead many women in the county to either marry at a very young age, or do whatever they had to in order to provide for their family.  This lead men in the area, who may have lacked gentlemanly morals, to take advantage of these women. The environment in Cocke County caused an uptick in illegitimate children.  Either the mother’s of these children didn’t know who the father of their child was, or the father denied the child’s existence.

This should paint the picture of what life in Cocke County was when Abraham was born.  His mother, Lydia Price, was 20 years old and unmarried (according to census records) when Abraham’s bother, Ruben, was born.  Two years later, still unmarried, Lydia had Abraham.  In the 1880 census, Lydia, or Letty, is living with her mother (also named Lydia) along with her two sons.  Also living in the household is Letty’s sister, Nancy, who has what appears to be an illegitimate son also, Moses Price.

1880
1880 Census – Cocke County, Tennessee

Remember that census records can be deceiving. If you look at the 1880 census, both Letty and Nancy are listed as being children of Apollos Bryant.  This is not true.  Apollos is Lydia’s second husband with which she had no children.

marriage
Lydia Price’s marriage license with William Howard Henderson

In 1884, Letty married a man by the name of William Howard Henderson.  They had five children together; Lydia, James, Delia, Amanda, and Winnie.  Two of the children, Lydia and James, would flip back and forth between surnames.  On one document, they would be going by the surname Henderson, while on other documents, they would be listed as Burchfield.  To make matters more confusing, sometimes their surname would be spelled B-i-r-c-h-f-i-e-l-d or B-u-r-c-h-f-i-e-l-d.  It does appear that Delia and Winnie always went by the surname Henderson, while Amanda was the forgotten sibling that not too many knew about.

henderson amanda with husband phillip holderman
Amanda Henderson and her husband, Phillip Holderman

At this point, I was completely confused.  Why were all these children switching up their surnames whenever they felt like it?  Come to find out, William Howard Henderson was also illegitimate.  He did not know if he was really a Henderson or a Burchfield either!  With the research that I have done, it appears that his father was possibly John Henderson, who married Elizabeth Jane Birchfield.  If this is in fact true, things get even more complicated considering John’s parents are Thomas Birchfield and Polly Henderson.

I’ve tried to unravel this spiderweb of illegitimacy by looking into DNA.  I had a male cousin on this line take a yDNA test.  The result were mostly matches with men who had the surname of Burchfield.  So, at first glance, it appears that Abraham Benjamin Price should be Abraham Benjamin Burchfield. Could Abraham’s father have been William Howard Henderson?  This would mean that Letty would have had to “have relations” with William before they were married and when William was only 12 years old.  While this is a little difficult to wrap my head around, given the atmosphere of Cocke County, it certainly a possibility.

Another angle that I have been working has to do with a decedent of Abraham’s cousin, Moses Price.  Remember that  Moses is also illegitimate.  It does not appear that Abraham and Moses have the same father.  At one point, it was believed that Lydia’s second husband, Apollos Bryant, could be the father of both boys.  However both DNA and document research points to that not being true.

I could go on and on about more theory’s on the parentage of Abraham Benjamin Price, but that’s all I have right now…a theory.  Many DNA matches are in the same boat that I am, with no idea of how to piece together the Henderson/Birchfield family tree.  Even reaching out to some cousins have led to dead ends with communication being cut off after digging a little too deep.  Whatever happened back then is leading me on the greatest challenge of my genealogy career!

Posted in Genealogy 101

TVA Records

This week’s tip takes a look at Alford Sharp’s cemetery/burial records.

In 1933, the TVA was given the task to build Norris Dam (and lake) in what is now Anderson/Union County.  In order to do so, TVA had to move not only families who were living in the area, but also the graves of their family members.  Included in this “move” was many of the members of the Sharp family.

Many of the Sharp family members were buried in the town Loyston.  In order to visit the town now, you would need a boat and take it to the widest area of Norris Lake.  If you suspect you had a family member buried in this area, your best bet to find where they are located now is to look up the Tennesssee Valley Cemetery Relocaton Files on Ancestry.com

If you are able to find your ancestors in these documents, you should find anywhere from one to four pages.  These pages may include everything from your ancestor’s cause of death and death date to what type of coffin they were buried in and the contents of the coffin. Below you can see a copy of Alford Sharp’s relocation paper.

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60427

65+65+5

 

Posted in Ancestor Stories

Alford Sharp: Tennessee’s First Family

This week I am writing about Alford Sharp, who was a member of one of the first families of Tennessee.  The Sharps lived in Loy’s Crossroads in Union County, TN.   This area was flooded by TVA and is now at the bottom of Norris Lake.  Big Ridge State Park is the closest one can get to standing in the area of Sharp’s Chapel.

Alford Sharp was born to William “Station Bill” Sharp and Rachel Stiner on February 25, 1809 in Anderson County, Tennessee.  Alford grew up surrounded by family.  Not only was he one of sixteen children, but his father had seven siblings, making Alford’s extended family very large.  It is well documented that the Sharp families ran the same circles as the Loy and Graves families.  This is more than likely due to the fact that these families all emigrated from Germany and stayed together due to the sharing of language and customs.

On July 15, 1851, Alford married Elizabeth Loy in Union County, Tennessee.  They had eight children: Nancy (m. Ruben Bledsoe), Jacob L (m. Sally Plyes), Caswell C. (m. Elizabeth Oaks), William (m. Nancy Condry), Jane (m. John Pleasant Oakes), Parly (m. Caswell Wilson), Rachel Irene (m. Elias Carroll), and Alfred B (m. Nancy Gentry).

Alford Sharp was said to be an outstanding member of his community.  Not only did he serve as Justice of the Peace, but was even granted guardianship of his cousin’s children.  According to the early tax records of the state of Tennessee, Alford owned 70 acres of land worth $520 and one slave worth $500 in 1837.  When Alford passed away on December 20, 1876, his will listed five pages worth of personal property that had to be inventoried and divided between his heirs.

Alford was buried in Sharp’s Cemetery in Union County, Tennessee.  In 1935, when TVA planned to flood the area to build Norris Dam, Alford’s grave, along with many others were moved to different cemeteries.  I’ll talk more on this with “Tuesday’s Tips”.

 

Alford’s lineage is as follows:

Alford Sharp – Elizabeth Loy

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Rachel Irene Sharp – Elias S Carroll

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Susan Jane Carroll – Abraham Benjamin Price

 

Posted in Ancestor Stories

Show Me the Money

For today’s “Throwback Thursday”, I am sharing some of the documents found when Eve Weidner attempted to get her husband’s (John Miller) Revolutionary War pension.  If you notice in the first document, it states that Eve is 100 years and 6 months old.  It seems that Eve was a go-getter late in life.  The second document shows where Eve and John’s children (Lewis Miller, Jacob Miller, Isaac Miller, Nancy Loy, Elizabeth Graves, and Rachel Cox) appeared in court to support Eve’s claim.

There is no documentation that show if Eve received John’s pension or not.  It seems that there wasn’t very much evidence of his service which made it an issue for Eve to obtain his pension.

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Posted in Ancestor Stories

Eve Weidner: Revolutionary Woman

The first “Spotlight Sunday” belongs to Eve Weidner.  She was an adventurous woman who seemed not to be afraid of anything.

Eve (or Eva) Weidner was born to Ludwig (Lewis) Weidner and Barbary Boyer on January 31st, 1751 in Lincoln County, North Carolina.  While little is known about her mother, Ludwig was of German descent and held his German traditions close to his heart.  Growing up, the Weidner’s were known revolutionaries living in a county full of loyalists.  This more than likely made growing up challenging for Eve.  This is why the Weidner family started moving towards western North Carolina and the Tennessee border.

Records for Eve become a bit scarce until she marries John “Raccoon” Miller on March 1st, 1776 in Haywood County, North Carolina.  The Millers would move on to Hawkins County, Tennessee and eventually settle in Union County, Tennessee.  Once settled, Eve and John would have seven children: John, Nancy, Isaac, Lewis, Jacob, Elizabeth, and Rachel.

If legend is true, John Miller seems to be a lot like Eve’s father, Ludwig.  They were both revolutionaries and participated in battles with local militia.  One of the most notorious stories of Eve is when she was left at home with the children while John was off on one of his excursions.  The story says that the family dogs started barking and going crazy while Eve and the children were inside.  Living in known Indian Territory, Eve immediately had the children hide while she grabbed a shotgun.  Eve then went outside to defend her home against the said Indians.  While not much is known about the actual encounter, I think it’s safe to say that the Indians probably thought twice before messing with Eve again.

Eve passed away on August 12th, 1853 in Union County, Tennessee.  She was 102 years old.  Just a few years earlier, Eve had attempted to get John’s pension from when he fought in the Revolutionary War.  I’ll post more about that on “Throwback Thursday”, but I will tell you that people thought that a woman her age (near 100) attempting to get her dead husband’s pension was crazy!

Just a few years ago, a local Daughter’s of the American Revolutionary chapter in Knoxville, Tennessee, recognized Eve for her efforts and support during the Revolutionary War by giving her a new headstone.  A picture of the new headstone is attached.

If you’re still trying to figure out how Eve Weidner Miller is related to you…here is her lineage:

Eve Weidner – John “Raccoon” Miller
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Nancy Miller – John “Fisher” Loy
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Elizabeth Loy – Alford Sharp
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Rachel Irene Sharp – Elias S Carroll
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Susan (Susie) Jane Carroll – Abraham (Abe) Benjamin Price

Check back on Tuesday for “Tuesday’s Tips” where I’ll give some research tips that I learned while researching Eve Weidner.