Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- How Many Degrees of Separation

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Find an ancestral line that stretches back to the time of the US Revolutionary War (1775-1783), about 240 years. Define your person-to-person connection (the person actually met the next person on the list) back to a historical figure from that time (doesn't have to be famous).

2) Tell us about it on your blog, in a note or comment on Facebook, or in a comment on this post.

My mother’s side of the family are the only ones who were here at the time of the American Revolution. Let’s follow up the Lancaster line from my grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster Johnston (Mam-ma).

She was born in 1913, and so would have known her great-grandfather, George Wilson Lancaster, who lived died in the same community in which she lived in 1919.  Pansy > George Warren > William Carl > George Wilson.

George Wilson Lancaster was born in 1839 in Missouri, so would have only known his father, Ellis Wilson Lancaster. His grandfather, Robert Lancaster died in 1840, but in Kentucky. George Wilson Lancaster > Ellis Wilson Lancaster

Ellis Lancaster was born in 1808 in Virginia and would have known his father, Robert, and possibly his grandfather, Nathaniel, who died in 1808 (as much as an infant would know their grandparent). Ellis > Robert > Nathaniel

Robert Lancaster was born 1784 and would have known his father, Nathaniel Lancaster, who did live in Virginia during the American Revolution. Robert > Nathaniel

I wonder if he had anything to do with the American Revolution and could I enter DAR using his service?  Something to check out!

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Sunday, November 19, 2017

On This Day -- 104th Birthday of Pansy Louise Lancaster Johnston

As I think about my grandmother on her birthday, I remember that she had been so active with sports after my grandfather died and after she retired from working.

She played tennis with friends and bowled in a league. Often when I visited she had tennis matches on the television. She attended many women's tennis matches held at the Oakland Coliseum.

I can't remember if I ever played with her. I was so busy with work at the time.

Here is a photo of her and her friend, Evelyn at a local tennis court in Pleasanton in 1985. She was 72 years old! I hope I'm still that fit.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Research Grief

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has another great meme this week. Our mission this week is to:
1)  The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months. 
2)  Please answer the question - "Which ancestor gives you the most researching grief?"
3)  Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post  your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.
My Answer 
My nemesis is Samuel Johnston, my 3x great-grandfather, who was born about 1816 in South Carolina and died before 1869 in Titus County, Texas.

I do have two census records for him: 1850 and 1860 in Yalobusha County, Mississippi, where he appeared with wife, Elizabeth, and children, Isabella, Reuben, Lovina/Laura, George W(ashington), Madison J, David, and Sarah A (1860 only).[1]  

I also have tax records in Yalobusha County and a voter registration in Titus County, Texas. Then he died. A courthouse fire prevents me for seeing any records before 1895.[2]

So what is my problem with Samuel?
I have no records of him before 1850. The first five children were born in Alabama but I haven’t found him in the 1840 census. Both Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth McCormack were born in South Carolina, but I have no idea which county. I haven’t found a marriage record for them either.

I have done some FAN (Friends, Associates, and Neighbor) research but haven’t found that connection back to Alabama or South Carolina.[3] I need to keep working at it. Likely a road trip is needed to some research on the ground in Mississippi in Yalobusha County and at the archives in Jackson.

This is clearly a stub end on my line.

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Yalobusha Co, Mississippi, pop. sched., North of the Yalabusha River, p 287b (stamped), dwelling/family 161, Samuel Johnson, digital image, ( : accessed 20 July 2013); citing NARA M432, roll 382. And 1860 U.S. census, Yalobusha Co, Mississippi, pop. sched., Oakland, p. 917, dwelling 1182, family 1276, Samuel Johnson, digital image, ( : accessed 23 Nov 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration M653, roll 594.
[2] “Titus County, Texas Genealogy,” FamilySearch (,_Texas_Genealogy : accessed 2 Sept 2017).
[3] FAN was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Your Ancestors, You and Technology

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has a new assignment for us.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Julie Goucher, on her Anglers Rest blog, has a long-running weekly blog theme called The Book Of Me.  One of her weekly prompts is about Technology.  We'll use that this week!

2)  For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - please address these issues:
  • What technology changes did your ancestors see?
  • What technology changes have you seen?
  • Did your family own one of those early changes? - such as television
  • Do you like or dislike technology?
  • What do you think has been the best technological change in your lifetime and historically?

3)  Answer the questions, and share your work on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.

I have written several of Julie Goucher’s The Book of Me prompts, but had skipped this one. The meme seemed a bit overwhelming to me. So today I’ll focus on just my grandmother and myself.

My grandmother
My grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster, was born in 1913. She lived 99+ years and experienced a wide change in technology.

When she was born, on a farm in the rural part of Erath County, Texas, there was no electricity. Cooking was done on a wood stove. Oil lamps were used to light the house. The floors were swept with brooms. The ironing was done with cast irons that needed to be heated on the stove. Outside, horses drove the plows in the fields and  the wagons into town.

When they moved into town in the 1920s, they probably lived in houses with electricity. That didn’t mean they had all the modern appliances. Refrigerators were just iceboxes that were kept cool with ice. It was possible they owned a motor vehicle. Her dad was a mechanic and knew how to fix them. People came from all over to his house in his off hours so he could fix their cars and trucks.

My grandmother learned to sew as a young girl and her first sewing machine was a foot-operated treadmill. She sewed, mended, and altered clothes for a living, so might have purchased a used electric machine when she could. I remember her having a black Singer machine when I was young. I have only one photo taken indoors and the treadle machine can be seen in it.
Look carefully at the machine at the
right side of the photo
My grandparents had a television and was one of many who watched “I Love Lucy” each week. Soap operas were also a favorite of my grandmother.

I wish I knew whether they had a gramophone or later, a record player. I do know my grandmother loved Country & Western music and had an 8-track player in the 1970s. She might have advanced to cassettes when 8-track went out of fashion, but I doubt she ever owned CDs.

My brother bought her a computer and tried to teach her to use it, but it was a bit too much for her. She was in her late 80s or early 90s at this time.

Over time she had several small appliances in the kitchen: toaster, toaster oven, microwave, mixer, and blender. She was a great baker and every Christmas time she made many batches of cookies to hand out to family of friends. We’d get a plate with at least a dozen different kinds of cookies. It was a great treat when we each became adults and received our own plates of cookies.

Now, I have been around technology all my life. My parents had a television after they got married. Maybe it was a gift, but here’s a photo of me standing in front of it. We had a stereo where we could play LPs and music from the radio. We were, however, slow in getting a color television. I was in the eighth grade before I knew there was a color part to The Wizard of Oz.
Christmas 1955--Check out the television in the corner
I was the first in the family to get a computer. It was 1981 and we built it from scratch. It had two eight-inch disk drives and ran on CPM operating system. The daisy wheel printer cost $2500, but it was important to me to the printout resemble typewritten text. 

I have had computers ever since, but I’m not the type to get the newest gadget as soon as they come out. I’m more practical. I keep things until they are no long functional. The computer I’m using now is over six years old. I also still use my XP computer on occasion because it has software that only works on it. I was so late to get a smart phone and MP3 player. I have no GPS device in my car. I certainly can’t find a need for an electronic butler for the house.

I like technology when it can help me but I don’t want it to rule my life.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Friday, July 14, 2017

Blogger Recognition Award

Janice Sellers nominated my blog for the Blogger Recognition Award. Thank you very much!

This award also has some rules to follow:

Apparently there are a few “rules” for those who accept the award:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated me.
  • Write a post to show the award.
  • Write a brief story on how my blog started.
  • Share two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  • Nominate seven other bloggers for this award.
  • Comment on each of their blogs to let them know they have been nominated for this award and provide a link to this post.
I have thanked Janice here and will do so again personally.

How I Got Started
On January 15, 2011, I attended a class at the California Genealogical Society led by Craig Siulinski to learn all the ropes to start a blog. I had spoken with him previously about it and was rattling around an idea in my head before coming to the class. So I had an idea and a title, and with Craig's help in setting up a blog in Blogger, it got started. I am forever tied to Janice Sellers because our blogiversary is on the same day (and the same day as long-time blogger, Dick Eastman. I decided to write about my grandmother's ancestors and so called it "Mam-ma's Southern Family." Mam-ma was what us grandkids called her.

Advice For New Bloggers
Before you start the blog, come up with a few ideas. If you have a nice list of possible topics, you'll keep it going. Will you write about genealogy in general? Will you write about one particular family line? Will you share photos from old albums?

Your posts don't have to be long. It's okay to either write long posts once a week, or write short ones more often. Get a calendar and plan out some of your posts. That will help keep you to a schedule.

Here are Seven Blogs I Enjoy Reading:

Jacqi Stevens                            A Family Trapestry
Michelle Ganus Taggart           A Southern Sleuth
True Lewis                               Notes To Myself
Gena Philibert-Ortega              Gena's Genealogy
Diane MacLean Boumenot      One Rhode Island Family
Pat O'Donnell Kuhn                 Touching Family History
Mary Kircher Roddy                Searching For Stories

Hope you enjoy them, too!

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

On this Day – Death of Tom J Johnston, Jr., July 11, 1973

My maternal grandfather, Tom J. Johnston, Jr. passed away on  11 July 1973.  He was only sixty years old. He died of cor pulmonale due to advanced pulmonary emphysema.[1] He had been a life-long smoker.

He was survived by his wife, Pansy L. Johnston, his daughter, Lela Nell Hork, his sisters, Beryl Russell and Mildred Bay, and six grandchildren.[2]

Tom had been a member of the Carpenter’s Union and worked at Diablo Valley Community College.

His funeral was held at Oak Park Hills Chapel in Walnut Creek and he was buried at Oakmont Memorial Cemetery in Lafayette.[3]

His was the first funeral I attended. I was 19. At the funeral home, the casket was open when we got there and I was surprised by how peaceful he looked. I had been a bit afraid of him because he always sounded so gruff when he spoke. Though, when he spoke to his dogs, he was very sweet.

Today, I thought I’d share a few photos of Tom and his dogs.

[1] State of California, Dept of Health Services, Certificate of Death, Contra Costa County, #73-087531, Tom J Johnston Jr, 1973.
[2] “Tom Johnston,” obituary, Contra Costa Times, Friday July 13, 1973, p 26.
[3] Memorial Card of Tom Johnston, Oak Park Hills Chapel, 13 July 1973, Gorrell Family Archives.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- What Ancestor Had the Most Children?

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has our weekly challenge lined up:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

1)  The Family History Hound listed 20 Questions about your Ancestor, and I'm going to use some of them in the next few months. 

2)  Please answer the question - "What ancestor had the most children?  How many?"

3)  Write your own blog post, make a comment on this post, or post  your answer on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a link to your answer in comments on this post.

My story

On my father’s side of the family, I have two ancestors who had ten children: Johann Anton Hork & Julia Ann Sievert (my great-grandparents) and John Gleeson & Margaret Tierney (my 2x great-grandparents).

On my mother’s side of the family,  I have several families with ten or more children: James Loveless & Linna Hughes had twelve children in South Carolina. Their son, Jesse Loveless & wife, Elizabeth Nixon had ten children. Jesse’s son, Ebenezer Loveless and wife, Eliza A. Rodgers had eleven children. James Madison Coor & Melissa Ann Welch had ten children in Mississippi.

But the most were Reuben M. Johnston & Olivia Jane Jones, who had thirteen children, all born in Comanche Co, Texas:
  • Rufus Arthur, b. 9 Oct 1880
  • Malissie Pearl Dode, b. 1 Jul 1882
  • Robert Lee, b. 26 Feb 1884
  • Thomas Newton, b. 25 Jul 1885
  • Florence Ellen, b. 17 Mar 1887
  • Ruby Hardy, b. 22 Aug 1888
  • Edna Mae, b. 26 Oct 1891
  • Woodie Andrew, b. Oct 1892
  • Lillie Estelle Nina, 12 Dec 1894
  • Fannie Bertha, b. 24 Jul 1896
  • Oral Dotterage “Pig”, b. 16 Dec 1898
  • Loyce Smith, b. 21 Sep 1902
  • Lloyd Strickland “Nig”, b. 7 Feb 1904

Reuben also had four additional children with first wife, Catharine Skull:
  • Samuel M, b. Feb 1870
  • Martha Mattie “Sis”, b. 1872
  • Lola D, b. 28 Mar 1874
  • Ocia Catherine, b. 27 Nov 1877
I do have another couple with sixteen children: Dempsey Welch & Elizabeth Rebecca Young. However, I didn’t do the research. and I don’t feel confident enough to include them. I only have birth dates for seven of the children.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family