Friday, October 19, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 42: Conflict

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

Our theme this week is "conflict" and I have had a hard time thinking up a story about conflict. It's hard to know if the move they made to another state was due to conflict with those left behind or just a chance to find a better life somewhere else. 

I do have a little snippet of a story told to me by my grandmother, Pansy Louise (Lancaster) Johnston.

When my mother, Lela Nell, was about two years old, my grandparents, Pansy Louise and Tom Johnston, separated for a short time. Pansy went to live with her aunt, Maggie Self. Maggie was her father, George Warren Lancaster’s sister, Margaret, who married Herbert Acklin Self around 1919. They lived in Fort Worth and never had children.

The story did not come with a reason for the separation. It didn’t last long because they were together the rest of my grandfather’s life, as far as I know.

My grandfather always seemed a little gruff to me. He barely tolerated us six kids. I could see how it might have been hard to live with him. It was about 1936, and perhaps the work and living situation was difficult during that time in the Depression.

I do have a photo of my mother, my grandmother, and Maggie Self. Lela looks about two years old, so this might have been taken during the short time they stayed with Maggie.
Pansy (Lancaster) Johnston, Maggie
(Lancaster) Self, and Lela Nell Johnston


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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 38: Unusual Source - My Grandfather's Wallet

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

My unusual source this week is my grandfather, Tom J Johnston’s wallet. My grandmother kept it just the way it was left when he died in 1973. I think she probably looked through it for any important papers and removed what money was there, but otherwise it was left the same.

What an interesting look at what he was doing in 1972-73. I scanned all of the cards and returned the items to the wallet. What I didn’t do was take a photo of the wallet before storing it away, so I don’t have one to show.

His wallet was stuffed with cards and photos. You would expect to see his driver’s license.



His 1944 Navy Discharge card was pretty worn. It must have either been removed often or has been in every wallet he has owned since he was discharged.


There was a 1966 Hilti Qualified Operator Card, authorizing him to operate power-assisted drive tools. He was a carpenter for Diablo Valley College, part of the Contra Costa County Community College District.


His 1970 California Fishing License was there with stamps to allow for fishing in 1972. He probably hadn’t gotten around to updating the stamp. He liked to fish at Clear Lake.



He gave $15.00 to Bay Area United Crusade in 1971.



He had his auto insurance from State Farm for a 1967 Dodge van and the 1964 Mercury sedan.



His staff card from Diablo Valley College.



His Carpenters Union No. 2046 card. On a side note, the union hall had no records for him.



I am so glad my grandmother gave me the wallet and that she had saved most of the items in it. It’s a glimpse into what activities he was involved in at the time of his death.

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 34: Non-population: Ag Schedules for N.H.O. Polly

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I’ve written about Nathan H.O. Polly, my four times great-grandfather, who was a circuit riding minister in Texas here and here.

He also owned land and farmed. He was enumerated in two agricultural censuses: 1870 in Kaufman County[1] and 1880 in Rockwall County.[2] Now Rockwall County was formed from Kaufman County, so he probably did not move, just the county name changed. I need to verify that!

1870 Agricultural Schedule
1870 Ag Sched - Kaufman Co, Texas for NHO Polly (see line 11)

I will discuss each of the columns here. I used a blank census sheet for the headings[3]:
He had 25 improved acres and an additional 260 that were not.
The cash value of land was $1300.
The cash value of the farm implements was $15.
The total value of wages paid during the year including value of board was $90.
The next columns are about livestock numbers as of June 1:
  • 22 horses
  • 0 asses and mules
  • 8 milk cows
  • 4 working oxen
  • 25 other cattle
  • 16 sheep
  • 100 swine
  • value of all livestock was $1700.

The next columns listed the product produced during the year:
  • 10 bushels of spring wheat
  • 0 winter wheat
  • 0 rye
  • 300 bushels of Indian corn
  • 100 bushels of oats
  • 0 barley
  • 8 bushels of buckwheat
  • 0 rice
  • 0 tobacco

There are supposed to be two pages, but the second page did not get filmed or Ancestry did not digitize them for this county. Additional columns included more products such as wool, cotton, peas and beans, potatoes, orchard products, dairy products, seeds, sugar, and bees, and then a grand total of the value of production.

Not only should one look at the value for person to get an idea of what type of farming he did, the other people on the page should be looked at and compared against your ancestor. On Polly’s page, only two other farms had paid laborers. The value of the land was comparable to those with the same acreage, but the value of his livestock was on the upper end. He had a lot of horses sheep, and swine, but not a lot of cattle. He was the only who grew spring wheat. Actually corn was the biggest crop in the area.

1880 Agricultural Schedule
1880 Ag Schedule, Rockwall Co Texas for Nathan Polly, see line no. 9
This schedule has all of the columns on the same page, in different sections. Nathan Polly is line 9 on all of the sections.  The columns listed below that had values:
  • Nathan was the owner of the property
  • 80 acres were improved
  • 40 acres were meadows or pastures
  • Value of farm land, fences and buildings was $1600
  • Value of farm machinery and implements was $100
  • Value of livestock was $400
  • Value of all farm production was $500
  • He had 7 horses, 5 milk cows, 4 other, 7 swine, 5 barnyard poultry,
  • Butter production during 1879 was 150 pounds
  • Egg production was 100 dozen.
  • He had 5 acres in peaches, with 200 trees (hard to read-very dark), and a 3 digit number for the amount of bushels (also very dark), with the total value of production as another 3 digit number that is hard to read. When I lightened up that section, it looks like 5 acres, 200 trees, 300 bushels and $200 production. 

cropped area at bottom of 1880 Ag Schedule
In comparing to others on the page, only one other person had an orchard crop. His farm production was on the lower end, which can be explained that his acreage was also on the low end. This land might actually be different land than he had ten years previously. I need to look at land records for both Kaufman and Rockwall counties. But that will have to wait until I can head to a Family History Center, as the images are locked.



[1] 1870 U.S. census, Kaufman, Texas, non-population schedule, p. 7, dwelling line 11, N.H.O. Polly, digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Aug 2018), citing NARA M593, roll 10.
[2] 1880 U.S. census, Rockwall, Texas, non-population schedule, p. 17, line 9, Nathan Polly, digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Aug 2018), citing NARA T1134, roll 38.
[3] http://www.coronagensoc.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/1850-1880agricultureschedules_headings27jan2011.pdf

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 33: Family Legends

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

When I first started researching my family I was told about all kinds of possible relatives
  • We’re related to Will Rogers.
  • We’re related to the Coors family
  • We have Native American roots, possibly Cherokee

It’s funny, that all of these “legends” are on my maternal grandmother’s family. As I worked through the research, one generation at a time, I have disproved these legends.

Rogers Angle. We do have Rodger/Roger ancestors. Eliza A. Rodgers married Ebenezer Loveless on 19 March 1871 in Chattooga County, Georgia. They later moved to Faulkner County, Arkansas. Eliza’s parents might be David Rodgers and Rebecca Waddell. They might have had nine children, all born in South Carolina. I suppose it is still possible that an ancestor of Will Rogers and an ancestor of Eliza Rodgers might be the same. But see below.

Coors Angle. Now the Coors family came from the Rhine area of Germany and arrived in the U.S. in 1868[1] and my Coor family has been in the United States since the early 1700s. There is likely no relationship.

Native American Angle. I haven’t found any reference to Native American roots either. All of my paper research points to our ancestors as being Caucasian. The DNA evidence points to the same. It’s funny how the stories get past down. I’ve had second and third cousins say they heard the same story.

When I look at a biography of Will Rogers, I read he was part Cherokee Indian, born in Oklahoma. It is possible these two stories have merged. If we’re related to Will Rogers, we must also be part Cherokee. But reviewing Will Rogers’ line, his father, Clement Vann Rogers, and grandfather, Robert Rogers, Jr. were living in Georgia and moved to Oklahoma before the removal of Cherokees.[2] Our Rodgers line was living in South Carolina and were not moved to Oklahoma.

My grandmother’s ancestry shows her family has been here a long time, since before the American Revolution. However, they were mostly poor farmers. Perhaps this wishful thinking elevated their standing, at least in their minds and stories.


[1] “Adolph Coors,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolph_Coors.
[2] “Clement V. Rogers,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_V._Rogers.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 30: Colorful – Earliest Color Photo in the Johnston Family

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I found some color photos of my Johnston line taken in 1946 and I think they might be the earliest ones I have in color. They were living in Walnut Creek, California, about this time so they might have been taken there.

Many surplus Army Jeeps were purchased and I guess my grandfather, Tom Johnston, bought one, too. This one is painted yellow!

In the first photo is my grandmother (Mam-ma), Pansy “Joni” Johnston, my mother, Lela Nell, and my grandfather, Tom Johnston.

The second photo has Pansy, Lela Nell, and Pansy’s father, Warren Lancaster.


I need to dig through the box of negatives to see if I can find these to do a new scan. I believe I scanned these from the prints. I corrected the color some in Photoshop because they were a little washed out. Maybe there will be more gems in the negatives!

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - The Date Your Grandmother Was Born

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has another great challenge tonight:
1)  What day of the week was your Grandmother born (either one)? Tell us how you found out.
2)  What event was a headline in the newspapers on that date?  Tell us how you found out.
3) What has happened in recorded history on your Grandmother's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.
4)  What famous people have been born on your Grandmother's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them. 
5)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.
Day of the Week 
My grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster, was born on Wednesday, November 19, 1913 in Erath County, Texas to George Warren Lancaster and Lela Ann Loveless. I found out the day of the week by searching November 1913 in Wikipedia.

Headlines 
For headlines, I typed in the date into the search box at Newspaper.com:

A headline from the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, a paper in Honolulu, was “Huerta’s Hold in Mexico Weakens.” There were also images from Mexico City.

In Texas, where she was born, an Austin Statesman headline was “Grand Jury Reviews fatality of Strike.” A Southern Pacific engineer was killed by a striker.

To get a headline from her hometown paper, I turned to the Portal of Texas History where they have the digital newspapers from Erath County. The Stephenville Empire was a weekly paper, so the nearest one to her birth was November 21, 1913.

One headline was “George Knight Will Lick Your Stamps,” a story about the postmaster’s offer of his staff to lick the stamps for the holidays. Another headline stated “Births Reported” which had the births divided by boys and girls. At the bottom of the list was a girl for G.W. Lancaster, which was my grandmother!

Events
Events that happened on the November 19 (HistoryNet.com):
1620: Pilgrims sight Cape Cod
1861: Julia Ward Howe writes “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
1863: Abraham Lincoln delivers the “Gettysburg Address”
1897: The Great “City Fire” in London breaks out
1969: Apollo 12 touches down on the moon

Famous Births
Famous persons born on November 19 (HistoryNet.com):
1600: Charles 1, King of England and Ireland
1797: Sojourner Truth
1831: James Garfield, 20th President of the U.S.
1917: Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India (1967-1977, 1978-1984)
1936: Dick Cavett, TV talk show host

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 24: Father’s Day: Life of Thomas Newton Johnston

I am 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’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

My great-grandfather was Thomas Newton Johnston, born 25 July 1885 in Comanche Co, Texas to Reuben Mach Johnston and Olivia Jane Jones.[1] He was the fourth child of thirteen.

He married Nell L. Hutson, the daughter of Peter H. Hutson and Sarah H. Selman, on 6 June 1907 in Comanche Co, Texas. They had six children, five who lived to adulthood. Unfortunately, Nell died young in 1919 at the age of 31.[2]

Thomas started out a farmer, renting a general farm.[3] Later, he worked as a salesman at a lumberyard.[4]

He married Zilpha E. Burford on 12 Dec 1931 in Stephenville, Erath Co, Texas.[5] This was the only “grandmother” my mother knew.

Tom died 20 February 1951 at the age of 65. He did make a trip out to California to visit his son, Tom Jr. Unfortunately, he died before I was born.

"Daddy Tom" with my mother, Lela and her cousin, Sarilyn


[1] For birthdate: Tombstone photo for Thomas N. Johnston, West End Cemetery, Stephenville, Texas. For parent’s names: Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate, digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org), Erath Co, No. 7051, Thomas Newton Johnston, 1951; citing FHL film 1845915.
[2] "Mrs. Tom Johnson Dead," Comanche Chief, 18 Jul 1919.
[3] Texas, Comanche Co, 1900 U.S. census, pop. sched, Justice Precinct 3 (part of), ED 7, sheet 1a, p. 168a, dwelling 8, family 8, Thomas N. Johnston, digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 Nov 2011), NARA T623, roll 1541.
[4] Texas, Comanche Co, 1920 U.S. census, Comanche, ED 70, sht 7a, p. 47 (stamped), dwelling 136, family 138, Thos N. Johnson household, digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com).
[5] "Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1977," digital Images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org), 1931, Erath Co, Marriage Record Bk R, p. 150, T.N. Johnston to Mrs. Zilpha E. Burford; citing FHL 4820400.

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