Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Social History Adds Context to Our Families – An Example for My Coor Family

This week, I’m attended a virtual course with the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy called “Advanced Practices in Social History” coordinated by Gena Philibert-Ortega, MA, MAR. So far, it has been a wonderful experience learning about all of the sources one should consider when adding social context to our family history stories.

Social history can be a broad topic. It involves economics, sociology, women’s history, microhistory, and material culture. We want to go beyond the vital record dates. We want to fill in the details the lives of our ancestors and understand their lives within their community. They did not live in a vacuum. They interacted with family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, business people, teachers, law enforcement, court system, and others. Besides working, they played, went to church, shop for food, clothing, and other necessities, and socialized with friends and family. There is so much we can learn about our families by studying the community they were a part of.

But how do I do this when I don’t know any details about their lives; I don’t even have photographs. Through the records we do find, we can jumpstart our research into the social lives they lived. For example, my southern ancestors were mostly farmers, who ended up in North Texas. Perhaps I can ask what kind of farming occurred in North Texas? Let’s do a little research. I’ll start with a search in Google with “farming in North Texas.”

There is actually a website dedicated to farmers of North Texas called “Grow North Texas.”[1] Sure, this is mostly for current farmers. Their resources may be helpful in learning how to get started with farming and ranching.

Because I was getting current information, I added “history” to the search terms and got the Texas State Historical Association’s website.[2] This article on agriculture gives a history of farming first by Native Americans, then the Spanish, and finally the American period. It describes the type of farms, the crops they grew, and the equipment used to harvest the crops. There are details about the economy, difficulties with disease and pests, organizations that were formed to help the farmers. These organizations included the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, the Grange, Farmer’s Alliance, and Colored Farmer’s Alliance. Each of these organizations should be researched as well.

Regular genealogy sources such as land and tax records can be consulted. When did he purchase his farm? Did he end of selling it or losing it to back taxes? Court records might tell a part of the story, too.

Newspapers of the time period and location are another good resource. What were the farmers concerned about when your ancestor lived there? Was he a member of the local organization? Did they grow cotton and then had to change because of the boll weevil?

Texas A&M University Library has issues of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin. I searched on “boll weevil” and got an issue from 1904 that might be helpful.

Another wonderful site for Texas research on social history is The Portal to Texas History. It has a wonderful collection of newspapers and other items such as images of letters, maps, and photos.

Searching the Stephenville Empire, I found articles about my 3x-great-grandfather, James Madison Coor, relocating to Erath County, Texas from Mississippi. One portion of the paper described his decision to live at Kikers Mill.[3]

The land around Kikers Mill was described in the article. 


And lastly, the article about Mr. J. J. Durham, the father-in-law of James’ daughter, Irma, describes his farming success the previous years.


All of this information adds social context. To learn more about this community, I would read as many newspapers as I could until the time of Coor’s death to learn who his neighbors were and what activities were happening in Kikers Mill.



[1] Grow North Texas, https://grownorthtexas.org/.

[2] Henry C. Dethloff and Garry L. Nall, “Agriculture,” Handbook of Texas, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/agriculture.

[3] “Kikers Mill,” The Stephenville Empire, p. 3, col. 5 & 6, The Portal to Texas History (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth857623/m1/3/zoom/?resolution=3&lat=6102.286764599015&lon=2100.1872658549364).


Copyright © 2021 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Friday, January 15, 2021

10th Blogiversary!!


Ten years ago, I retired as instructor of train operators at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District. I now had a whole new life ahead of me. One of the first things I did was take a wonderful class at the California Genealogical Society given by Craig Siulinski where he taught us how to blog. Janice Sellers was also in the class and we support each other's writing.

On this blog I write about my maternal grandmother, Pansy Louise (Lancaster) Johnston's family. We called her Mam-ma (pronounced ma'am-ma), which was the same name my mother called her grandmother. It's one of many southern names for grandmothers.

This blog soon became too restricting. I wasn't able to write about my maternal grandfather's family, nor my father's side. Then there were my husband's ancestors to write about, too. So I started a second blog, My Trails Into the Past, where I do most of my blogging. However, when I have something to report on the research of my Mam-ma's family, I come here to share it.

In the past year, I have written 18 posts. Ten of those posts were part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging meme created by Amy Johnson Crow. I have been participating for four years and when the theme fits for a story of Mam-ma's ancestors, I post it here. Three of the posts were about African American research, as some of my ancestors were enslavers and I want to also document the enslaved people who worked their farms. The last five were miscellaneous posts about documents I found that helped tell the story of their lives.

This year, I am committed to write more, whether in this blog or just in general, so likely more posts will appear here. My last two posts are a result of homework from my Migrations class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). Perhaps I'll find more to write about when I take the Advanced Social History class in two weeks.


Copyright © 2021 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Using Railroad Maps and Timetables to Discover How Ebenezer Moved to Texas

Today’s lesson about railroads in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in the “Sea to Shining Sea: Researching Our Ancestors’ Migrations in America” course got me thinking how my Loveless ancestors traveled from Conway, Arkansas to Stephenville, Texas.

Ebenezer Loveless came to Texas sometime between 31 Dec 1904 when he sold land outside of Conway, Arkansas to his son, Thomas M. Loveless[1] and 12 Sep 1908, when he married Melissa M. Blount (nee Settle) in Erath County, Texas.[2]

Route to Texas
By this time, railroads crossed many parts of the United States. One could travel to almost any town by rail. Using a railroad map of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad, I can find the lines between Conway and Stephenville.

I used the map of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway Company found on Wikipedia.[3] Conway is not on the map but is located just north of Little Rock on the line along the Arkansas River. From Conway, he would have ridden to Little Rock. Changing trains at Little Rock, he would have traveled to Texarkana. He then changed trains again to ride to Fort Worth, Texas. From Fort Worth, he would have taken another train to Stephenville.

Louisiana & Arkansas Map from Wikipedia

Now, to be sure where this all worked and with which railroad company, I checked The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Porto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Cuba, 1905 Jan-Feb.[4] This guide, found on HathiTrust, gives timetables for all of the railroads and steam lines in the above countries.

Official Guide from HathiTrust

The Guide also has maps at the front showing these railroads and the branch lines. Here are the two cropped images showing Arkansas and Texas with our route.[5]

Official Guide p. 24

Official Guide, p. 23

Also, in the Guide are timetables with listings of stops on the lines and the times they stop. If Ebenezer got on in Conway, he had a choice to two trains, one in the morning and one in the evening. Our ancestors had much more choices for riding than we do today. Let’s say he wanted to take the morning train. He would leave on the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Co. train  no. 54 at 5:02 and arrive in Little Rock at 6:00 AM.[6]

Official Guide p. 780

He would have about an hour layover to catch the same company’s No. 5 to Texarkana and arrive at 11:40 AM.  Then as you can see at the bottom, he boards the Texas and Pacific Railway at 12:10 PM toward Fort Worth.[7]

Official Guide, p. 771

His last train would be Train No. 9 on the Fort Worth & Rio Grande Railway (Frisco System), leaving Fort Worth at 3:25 PM and arrived in Stephenville at 6:07 PM.[8]

Official Guide p. 723.

Conclusion
Using old railroad maps and timetables listed in Official Guides, I was able to determine how Ebenezer Loveless made the move from Conway, Arkansas to Stephenville, Texas in the early part of the 20th century.



[1] Faulkner County, Arkansas, Circuit Clerk records, Conway, Bk 29, p 89, Warranty Deed, E. Loveless to T.M. Loveless.

[2] Erath County, Texas, Marriages, Bk L, p. 42, 1908, E Loveless-Mrs. MM Blount; FHL film 1,026,028.

[3] “Louisiana and Arkansas Railway,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_and_Arkansas_Railway), 1903 system map of the L&A.

[4] The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Porto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Cuba, 1905 Jan-Feb, digital image, HathiTrust (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=chi.096493241&view=1up&seq=32).

[5] Ibid, p. 23 & 24.

[6] Ibid, p. 780.

[7] Ibid, p. 771.

[8] Ibid, p. 723.


Copyright © 2021 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Southern Migration: How John Coor’s Family Got from North Carolina to Mississippi Territory in 1811

This week I am taking the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy’s course “From Sea to Shining Sea: Researching Our Ancestor’s Migrations in America,” lead by Annette Burke Lyttle.[1]

I wanted to take this course to learn more about how my wandering ancestors got from one place to another, and perhaps try to figure out why they left or why they went where they went. Because most of them arrived to the new world on the east coast and I have ended up on the west coast, I’d say that all of my ancestors were migrators at some time in their history, though I have quite a few who were in Texas a few generations.

Migration Trails
We learned about trails the first day, so let’s start with what I learned about my Coor line. Daniel Coor died in 1807 in Sampson County, North Carolina. His wife, and son, John, entered his estate into probate in November of that year.[2]

John must have explored moving to Mississippi because he was there in 1810.[3] He and his family were in Lawrence County from 1813 through at least 1824.[4]

Here’s a map showing trails through the coastal southern states. The Fall Line Road leaves Fayetteville, North Carolina which is not far from Sampson County. Although the trail stops in Montgomery on this map, I’m sure there must have been a Native American trail to get them to Mississippi Territory.[5]

John Coor's Family traveling on the
Fall Line Road (red)

To get to Mississippi, John had to obtain a passport to travel through Indian Nations to the western country. Dated December 1811, the passport included himself, his mother, four sisters and two small children, and some Negroes. Included in the travels were John Keayhey [Kethley]’s family and William and Henry Toler.[6] John would marry John Kethley’s daughter, Ann, in 1816.

Transcript of passport

Having a route (and a map) from North Carolina to Mississippi helps bring more details to the story of the Coor family. If only we had a diary describing the journey. Next step is to see if another family left one.



[1] For more about what this class detailed, see https://slig.ugagenealogy.org/cpage.php?pt=608#course-1

[2] Sampson County, North Carolina, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Minutes, 1794-1824, Daniel Coore Estate, Nov. 1807, digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org); citing FHL film 19940, dig. film 8139513, images 328 & 330.

[3] Mississippi, Franklin Co, population schedule, digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Apr 2011), np., line 9, John Coor, citing Mississippi State and Territorial Censuses, 1792-1866, Microfilm V229.

[4] John Coor appeared in tax lists in Lawrence Co, from 1813 through 1824. Lawrence County, Mississippi, Territorial tax rolls 1813, Box 140, p 3, John Coor; "County Tax Rolls," 1820, p 4; 1822, p 5; 1824, p 6, John Coor, County tax rolls 1818-1830, Box 3696, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 8 Sep 2012); citing Mississippi State Archives, Jackson, Mississippi.

[5] “Fall Line Road,” FamilySearch Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Fall_Line_Road).

[6] Dorothy Williams Potter, Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770–1823, Indian, Spanish and other Land Passports for Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolina, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.,1990), p. 294; citing FHL microfilm 361879.


Copyright © 2021 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Best of 2020

In the past year, I wrote 17 posts on this blog. Most of my blog posts are published on the more general blog My Trails into the Past.  

The blog posts fell in three categories:

  • 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 11 posts
  • Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: 3 posts
  • Family Story: 3 posts

The five most-viewed posts were:

I don’t post as often here, as the theme of the blog is my maternal grandmother’s family, which limits on who I can write about. If I write about my maternal grandfather’s family, I do it at the other blog. I did manage to write eleven posts for the 52 Ancestors meme and that was pretty good.

I hope I can be as successful as this next year, adding to the stories of my grandmother’s ancestors.


Copyright © 2020 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

52 Ancestors-Week 48: Gratitude – Thankful for My Grandmother’s Interest in My Family Research

This is my third year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I cannot remember the year I started doing family research. It was after the birth of my children, so perhaps in the early 1990s. My daughters’ babysitter was a genealogist who visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City every year and was actually there when my second child was born. I must have expressed an interest because she took me to Sutro Library in San Francisco where she set me down at a microfilm machine to look at the 1920 Soundex roll for Ravalli County, Montana. When I found my paternal grandfather, William Cyril Hork in that census and then in the 1910 census, I was hooked and wanted to go to the Family History Library with the group the following year!

After my mother died in 1992, us six children made it a point to visit our maternal grandmother, Mam-ma, once a month. We took turns driving down to Pleasanton to take her to doctor’s appointments, shopping, or out to lunch. Other times, my sisters and I would go down together and she would have piles of stuff she was ready to get rid of. We would take turns going around the table selecting an item until all were gone. These were always great visits.

Mam-ma was very interested in the things I was learning about her family. She helped with the basic information about her parents and grandparents, and about my grandfather’s parents, the Johnstons. She got me in touch with her niece, Sandra, who lived in Texas, who was a big help with the Johnston side of the family.

The more I learned through my research, the more Mam-ma was interested in what stories I had to tell. We never found that Indian blood, and her Loveless family’s name was spelled lots of different ways, not just LOVELESS. We aren’t related to the Coors beer family (our Coor line is from early colonial times in the south). I never found that connection to Will Rogers either.

It was a shame she didn’t live long enough to see the people we’re supposedly related to through Relative Finder, like Harper Lee (my 6th cousin, 2x removed), Merle Haggard (7th cousin, 1x removed), and Richard Nixon (7th cousin, 2x removed). Well, maybe not the last one, as she was a long-time Democrat. She might have liked being related to President Lyndon Johnson as 8th cousins, 1x removed.

She also took a DNA test for me, starting first with the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) because that was all there was and then we upgraded to the autosomal DNA (atDNA) test. The mtDNA test hasn’t revealed any revelations yet, but I’m so glad to have secured it.

I have much gratitude for the interest Mam-ma took in our family research. My only regret is not writing about her family. Someday, when I do get a book written, it will definitely be dedicated to her, for her support and encouragement in my work.

Copyright © 2020 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Putting Names to the Enslaved from Jemima (Porter) Coor’s Estate in Copiah Co, Mississippi

Saying the names of the enslaved brings them to life. As I find these people in my ancestor’s records, I shall bring them to the light and say their names. They are an important part of the history of my ancestor’s lives and their livelihood.

I am currently studying the life of Jemima Porter who married Daniel Coor around 1784 in North Carolina.[1] Fast forward, she died sometime before 18 February 1839, when George Madison Barnes began settling her estate. He, with sureties Samuel T. Scott and W. K. Perkins, posted the bond of twenty thousand dollars, which indicates an estate of large value.[2] 

Bond, George M. Barnes, Jemima Coor Estate

On the same day, the following men were ordered to appraise her estate: Edwin R. Brown, Moses Norman, Chas. J. Hendry, Andrew J. Cassity and Samuel H Aby. Aby, Brown, and Norman swore and signed the authorization for the appraisal.[3]

E. R. Brown, P. H. Aby, and MD Norman performed the appraisal and issued the following list of the personal property appraised 25 March 1839. This amounted to eight enslaved people owned by Jemima Coor:

Alvin                   $1000

Edmond               $1050
Emmet                 $  500

Robert                  $  800

Henry                   $  400

Clary & child       $1050

Sally                      $  900

Eliza                      $  800

Total      $6900[4]

Appraisal of Personal Property Jemima Coor Estate

On the same day, these enslaved people were sold on credit of twelve months to the following family members:

Joseph Cooper purchased a negro boy Alvin for $1090; another named Robert for $600, and a third, named Edmond for $1000; total $2690.

William Barnes purchased a negro girl named Sally for $1032, another named Eliza for $1160, and a boy Emmit for $600; a total of $2812.

Mrs. C. Revell purchased a negro boy named Henry, a girl named Clary and child for $1637.[5]

Sale of Personal Property, Jemima Coor Estate

The eight enslaved people are fully accounted for in the above sale. Joseph Cooper is believed to be the husband of Jemima’s daughter Mary. William Barnes is believed to be the husband of Jemima’s daughter, Ann. It is also possible that he was the brother of the administrator, George M. Barnes. Mrs. C. Revel was Jemima’s daughter, who married Eldridge S. Revill on 3 February 1820 in Lawrence Co, Mississippi.[6]

Because family members purchased these enslaved people, it might be possible to trace forward in time to discover their whereabouts.

However, if I cannot find them in later records, at least I have put a name to eight of the people who were responsible for the success of Jemima’s estate. 

Alvin. Edmund. Emmet. Robert. Henry. Clary with child. Sally. Eliza.

May your descendants find you!



[1] More research is needed, but likely married in Wayne Co, NC. From 1810 census, she was born between 1761 & 1770.

[2] Bond of George Madison Barnes, Estate of Jemima Coor, Copiah Co, Mississippi, probate, loose papers, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Q6-WYFD), image 825-26.

[3] Warrant of Appraisement, Estate of Jemima Coor, Copiah Co, MS, probate, loose papers, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Q6-WYFD), image 827-28.

[4] A list of personal property of appraisement, Estate of Jemima Coor, Copiah Co, Mississippi, probate, loose papers, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Q6-WYFD), image 829-30.

[5] A list of personal property sold, Estate of Jemima Coor, Copiah Co, Mississippi, probate, loose papers, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Q6-WYFD), image 836-37.

[6] Lawrence Co, Mississippi, Marriage Records, 1, 1818-1828: 36, Revill-Coor, FHL microfilm 905,518, item 2.


Copyright © 2020 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.