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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Three Stories for Father's Day

Randy Seaver from Genea-Musing has again asked us to write about our father or grandfather for Father’s Day:

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

1)  Sunday, 18 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about our father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

2)  What are three things about your father (or significant male ancestor) that you vividly remember about him?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.

Last year I wrote about my father, William J. Hork here. This year I’ve decided to write about my maternal grandfather, Tom J. Johnston.

My grandfather liked his automobiles and both my grandfather and grandmother liked having their photos taken with their cars. We have lots of photos taken with them posing in front of an automobile.

There were always dogs in my grandparent’s home. My grandfather enjoyed having small dogs that would jump up into his lap. With one dog, Pierre, he taught to do tricks like dance on his hind legs and “sing” where it sounded like he was saying “I love Mama.” Their dogs were very spoiled and would get to lick the ice cream dishes each evening.

With Goober
My grandparents with Thunder


My grandfather was a carpenter and loved making furniture. My grandparent’s home was full of items he had made in his woodshop. Picture frames, tables, cabinets, and lamps were among some of the furniture he made. My mother had a magazine rack and a bench which housed an ironing board. 

Here is the magazine rack

He made the lamp, side table and coffee table

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Tribute to Your Mother

Randy Seaver of Genea-musing has a new challenge for us this week. For this week's mission we were challenged to:
1)  This is Mother's Day weekend, and I have been thinking about my mother - the family times, the hard times, the wonderful times.
2)  For SNGF this week, write a tribute to your mother.  It can be any length.  What do you remember about her, and what did you learn from her?
3)  Share your tribute or memories in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or other social media.  Please leave a comment on this post if you post something elsewhere.
My mother was an only child but dreamed of having a big family. She did. I am the oldest of six children born in the 50s and 60s. She was fun-loving and doted on her children. But I think a big family was a bit overwhelming to her as well. It was a lot to handle, even though she was a stay-at-home homemaker.

Lela Nell Johnston was born 21 August 1934 in Stephenville, Texas to Pansy Louise Lancaster and Tom J. Johnston, Jr. Perhaps her mother doted on her. Photos of Lela, as a child, showed her in pretty dresses and fancy hair-does. There are shots of them in matching dresses.

Teenage Love
My mother was popular in her first two years of high school at Acalanes High School. She held the office of Social Secretary as a Freshman . She also had lots of dates and kept track of them with a chart.

She met my father, William J. Hork, at the Walnut Festival where she was attending with other friends. They double-dated with one of Bill’s friends and went steady afterwards. They had a very traditional wedding at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church which was written up in the newspaper.

Growing up, I remember Mom as a great cook, who was able to stretch the food dollars. She read all the women’s magazines such as McCall’s, Women’s Day, Family Circle, and Cosmopolitan.  She got lots of recipes from them, as well as the newspaper. She made shopping lists from looking at the LoRay’s grocery store ads. When I was older, we shopped together, each with a shopping cart and list.

She also saved money by sewing clothes for me and  my three sisters. She even made matching clothes for us, including shirts for my brothers. The best outfit she made for me was a matching skirt and jacket which was the rage when I was in 8th grade.
The suit made by my mother
I remember when I was young that my mother would paint using oils. At our house in Pittsburg, there was a smaller house in the backyard where she had a little studio. But by the sixth child was born, I guess she didn’t have time for painting. She was artistic in other ways. She made many items out of used things such as bowls from 78 rpm records she baked over coffee cans and then spray painted  gold, or taking old metal platters and decopaging pictures cut from old calendars or magazines. One of her favorite activities was going “junking” at second-hand stores. Finding treasures she could re-use was a highlight. All of her children seemed to inherit the love of “junking” and having a bit of the creativity bug.

Although we didn’t go out much as a family, we did play games. We played card games, dice games, and board games. She taught us a game much like the game Scattergories. We just made our own grids and used a magazine to get letters for the game. We played gin rummy, double solitaire, liars dice, and Scrabble.

Advice Giving
When I married, I called often for advice. I valued her wisdom about how to deal with household chores because I hadn’t paid as much attention to those things before. But she died young and couldn’t be a resource on how to raise my children, nor did my children get a chance to know their grandmother.

Hork Family 1978
It’s been sad having my mother gone, but the artistic trait lives on in my daughters: one is a fine artist and the other a fine actor.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday – WWII Draft Card for “Tom Junior Johnston”

Not all records can be found online and this draft card for my grandfather, Tom J Johnston, is no exception. Tom was born in 1912 and was part of the group of men born between 1897 and 1927 who registered for the draft.[1] There were men born before 1897 who also registered for the draft and their cards can be found online at and These cards are often referred to as the “Old Man’s Draft.”

So how did I get this card? I ordered the records from the National Archives in St. Louis. Information about how to order is here. There is a special form you fill out for the registrant you’re seeking and when the archives personnel find the record, you’ll receive a letter with an invoice to order the copies. The Registration Card is $7.00 and the Classification Record (including the Registration Card) is $27.[2]

Draft Card[3]
The date of the registration was October 16, 1940 at Stephenville, Texas. Most of the information on the card was typed except for Tom’s signature on the front and the registrar’s check marks and signature on the back. The information on the card was what I expected, except the Jr. that is usually at the end of his name was written out as “Junior” for his middle name. Tom’s father’s name was Thomas Newton Johnston. My grandfather has always written his name as Tom J Johnston, Jr.

At the time of the registration, he was living in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas and his address was Box 627. A telephone number was listed as 192. He was 28 years old and stated his birthdate as Oct. 7, 1912. This was the date we always celebrated his birthday. He said he was born in Gustine, Texas (which is in Comanche County). The person who would know his address was his wife, Mrs. Pansy Louise Johnston, who lived at the same address. At this time, he was working for himself, doing woodworking. He signed the card “Tom Johnston Jr.”

The description on the back of the card had check marks for white, brown eyes, blonde hair, and light complexion. He was 5 ft. 10 inches tall and weighed 182 pounds.

Registration Certificate from Tom Johnston's Wallet
Registration Certificate[4]
I have the contents of my grandfather’s wallet from when he died. One of the documents was a very worn card entitled “Registration Certificate.” This card was to certify that he had registered with the Selective Service and was to carry the card with him at all times. The information is the same as the card above and was likely filled out at the same time.

Classification Record[5]
This classification record came to me in several sections. This gives a history of the draft registration process for Tom. His serial number was 1738. The following dates were recorded:
  • date of volunteering for induction: 3-8-44,
  • date questionnaire mailed: 5-26-41,
  • date questionnaire returned: 5-28-41
  • classification III: A
  • date appeared for physical:
  • date classified: 5-24-41, 1-6-44, 1-23-44
  • date of order for induction: 3-9-44
  • time fixed for transp to induction sta: 3-24-44, 1:30 pm
  • final disposition at induction sta & date: acc, 3-25-44
  • remarks: medical survey: 7-11-44

The inserted page was the listings of classification with dates in the following columns:
  • Classification: IIIA, 1-A, 1-C, 1-C
  • col 32: 7-7-42
  • col 33: 7-11-42

U.S. Navy

Tom was inducted in the United States Navy and did leave for duty on 25 March 1944. He served the entire three and half months in Farragut, Idaho, where he received a medical discharge.[6] This discharge card was also in his wallet.

Discharge Card from Tom's wallet

[1] “Selective Service Records,” National Archives at St. Louis, : accessed 16 April 2017)
[2] ibid
[3] World War II Draft Registration Records, Selective Service Records, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, Ser. No. 1738, order no. 1870, Tom Junior Johnston, Erath Co, Texas.
[4] Selective Service Registration Card, 16 October 1940, privately held by Lisa Gorrell, [address for private use], Martinez, CA 94553. Draft Card. Passed on to me by Pansy Johnston, wife of Tom J Johnston
[5] World War II Draft Registration Records, Selective Service Records, National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, Classification Record, Erath Co TX, p. 59, order no. 1870, Tom Junior Johnston.
[6] "Certificate of Discharge,'" Tom Johnston Jr., U.S. Navy, National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Lunch With a Fearless Female

Randy Seaver of Genea-musing has an assignment for us this week:

1) This is March, the month for Fearless Females posts, started by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog - see her Fearless Females blogging prompts for 2017 at

2) Answer this question for March 16 (I've changed it a bit): If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead), or any famous female, who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you talk about?

3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

I participated in this blogging meme back in 2012 and wrote specifically about my great-great grandmother, Martha J. Coor.  Click here to see the post. I still wish I could ask her the question.

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

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday – Deed: Mary Lancaster to Lancaster Heirs

I’ve been in Salt Lake City this week conducting some research at the Family History Library where I have been viewing microfilmed images of deed records for Shelby County, Kentucky, where my five times great-grandfather, Robert Lancaster died.

I had previously concentrated on the estate records for Robert and wondered why there weren’t any records mentioning his wife, Mary. I have no vital information about this wife at all, so had no idea if she was still alive.

However, I found in the deed records a deed recorded on 26 October 1840 between 
“Mary Lancaster widow of R. Lancaster of Shelby County Kentucky of the one part and Ellis Lancaster, John Lancaster, Creath Neill & Lenis Ann his wife, Robert N Myers & Mary E his wife, William Lancaster, Josiah Lancaster & Eliza Jane Lancaster of the other part.”[1]
The people listed as the “second part” were Robert’s children: Ellis, John, Lenis Ann, Mary E, William, Josiah, and Eliza Jane.

It went on to state that 
“Robert Lancaster departed this life intestate (meaning without a will) leaving considerable real and personal estate to one third of which the said Mary as his widow is entitled during her natural life.”
Mary was not the mother of the above children. She was Robert’s third wife, though I have not found the marriage record yet.

So the parties of the second part have 
“agreed to pay the said Mary Lancaster $2800 in cash and give her a negro girl named Teresa about fifteen or sixteen years old & also to give to said Mary the household furniture which the said Mary owned at the time of her intermarriage with the said Robert.”
 This Teresa was not listed in the slave inventory of the estate.[2]

First part of the deed Mary Lancaster to Lancaster Heirs
Shelby Co KY Deeds, Bk G2, p. 231
Mary Lancaster  then relinquished and quit claimed her interest and claim to the estate of Robert Lancaster. The deed went on to describe the estate as a tract of land in Shelby County on Bullskin containing three hundred and thirty one acres and on which Robert resided at the time of his death, eleven slaves, his stock of cattle, hogs and sheep, housing and kitchen furniture, farming utensils, bonds, notes, cash, all and every other species of real personal or mixed.

She signed the deed with a mark, indicating that either she could not write or was too infirmed to write.

So this deed indicated that Mary Lancaster was living at the time of Robert’s death. It explained why I never saw anything about the widow in Robert Lancaster’s estate records and why she hadn’t become the administratrix of the estate. Was this buyout an indication of how Robert’s children thought of Robert’s current wife? Or had the wife asked for the buyout? Unfortunately the deed didn’t answer that question.

[1] Shelby County, Kentucky Deeds, Bk G2, p. 231-32, Lancaster to Lancaster heirs; FHL film 259241.
[2] Shelby County, Kentucky Probate, Bk 14, p 64, Inventory of Robert Lancaster’s Estate; digital images, FamilySearch ( : 22 Sep 2016); citing FHL film 259254, item 3.

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

On This Day – The Birth of Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly, January 27, 1820

My maternal fourth great-grandfather, Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly is one of my brick walls. I have written a little about him before when I wrote about his wife, Lydia in this post. I know a little about his life but not who his parents were.

His tombstone photo shows a birth date of January 27, 1820.[1] According to the Find-a-Grave memorial for him, he was a “medical doctor, a Judge, a farmer and a gospel minister.”  That’s a lot of occupations. Let’s look at what I know from records I have found.

In 1850, he was listed as a “C. Bap. Minister” living in Dallas County, Texas.[2] The “C” might stand for Christian. The Bap. is probably for “Baptist” and the minister is clear. From most of the records I have found on him, he was a minister.

In 1860, he and his family were living in Montague County, Texas. The occupation on the census was listed as “M.D.”[3] I can see where the creator of the Find of Grave memorial might think that he was a medical doctor. This M.D. could also mean master of divinity. 

1860 U.S. census, Montague County, Texas for H.O. Polly
In 1870, he and his family were living in Kaufman County, Texas. Here his occupation was listed in the census as Minister Gospel.[4] Clearly he was still a minister.

In 1880, the sixty-one-year-old Nathan Polly was listed as a farmer.[5]

The next available census was 1900 and he was listed as a minister and he reported he had zero months not employed which would indicate that he was still working as a minister.[6]

He passed away 2 November 1902 and was buried in Rockwall County, Texas at the Rockwall Memorial Park.[7]  A search of the death indexes on FamilySearch resulted in zero returns.

From these census records, it is clear that he listed his occupation as a minister. He was definitely also a farmer, at least in a minor way. More research is needed to determine if he was ever a judge or a doctor.

Future research needed
  • Check out this website: for mentions of NHO Polly. There are bios, obituaries, and a photo of him.
  • Look for land records in Montague, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties.
  • Look for records that might name Nathaniel Polly as a judge or justice of the peace in Montague, Dallas, Rockwall, or Kaufman counties.
  • Check out trees on and the FamilySearch Family Tree for possible ties to Nathaniel’s parents.

[1] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 9 Sep 2011), Memorial# 30074063, Rockwall Memorial Park, Rockwall TX, Dr. Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly.
[2] 1850 U.S. census, Dallas Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 93 (stamped), dwelling 305, family 314, Nathan H. O. Polly, digital images, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M432, roll 910.
[3] 1860 U.S. census, Montague Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 76b (stamped), dwelling 721, family 743, H. O. Polley, digital image, ( accessed 21 Dec 2010); citing NARA M653, roll 1301.
[4] 1870 U.S. census, Kaufman Co, Texas, pop. sched., p. 31, dwelling 372, family 386, N.H.O. Polly, digital image, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA M593, roll 1594.
[5] 1880 U.S. census, Rockwall Co, Texas, pop. sched., District 30, enumeration district (ED) 30, p. 600 (stamped), dwelling 183, family 184, Nathan Polly, digital image, ( : accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA T9, roll 1324.
[6] 1900 U.S. census, Dallas Co, Texas, pop. sched., ED 143, sheet sht 2a, p. 179 (stamped), dwelling 32, family 32, N.H.O. Polly, digital image, ( accessed 21 Dec 2010), citing NARA T623, roll 1626.
[7] Find A Grave, database with images ( : 9 Sep 2011), Memorial# 30074063, Rockwall Memorial Park, Rockwall TX, Dr. Nathaniel H. Osborne Polly.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On This Day - Birth of George Warren Lancaster - January 19, 1893

One hundred and twenty-three years ago, my maternal great-grandfather, George Warren Lancaster was born, 19 January 1893.[1] His parents were William Carlton Lancaster and Martha Jane Coor. George was the eldest of six children.

His delayed birth certificate, dated  6 July 1942 and signed by his father, William C Lancaster, stated he was born in Victor, Erath County, Texas. According to The Handbook of Texas, Victor was settled shortly after the Civil War and was located in western Erath County on Farm Road 2156 a mile south of Desdemona. During the 1890s there were general stores and a post office that was later discontinued in 1907.[2]

Here is a satellite map of the area today. All that is left is the Victor Cemetery which is located at the corner of roads 2156 and 357. As you can see, it is clearly farming country and George’s father, William was a farmer.

Victor was in the area of Roads 2156 & 357.

According to his World War I Draft card, he stated he was tall of medium build and had dark brown hair and eyes.[3] In fact, he still had dark brown hair when he died at the age of 71.[4]

He worked as a farmer in the early part of his life and later worked as an auto mechanic. My grandmother stated, “he was good with cars and would work on them on Sundays after church when big groups of people would come with food and their cars to be worked on.  He later worked with Ford Motor Co in Stephenville.”[5] His obituary stated he had been the shop foreman for the old Reid Sales Company.[6]

[1] Erath County, Texas, Births, Volume 11, p 250, delayed birth record for George Warren Lancaster, 1893; FHL film 1428139.
[2] “Victor, Texas,” The Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association,
[3] "WW I Draft Registration," database and images, ( : accessed 28 Jul 2008), George Warren Lancaster.
[4] Letter from Pearl Weatherly to Pansy L. Johnston, 15 Nov 1964, describing how he looked at the viewing.
[5] Interview of Pansy L. Johnston, daughter of George Warren Lancaster, by Lisa S. Gorrell, 3 June 1995.
[6] “Warren Lancaster,” obituary, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, 13 Nov 1964, p 4.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy Blogiversary & Happy 100th Blog Post!

Today is a big milestone.

This is the 100th blog post I have written and the 6th anniversary of the beginning of this blog.

I began the blog on January 15, 2011, through a blog writing class I took at California Genealogical Society, taught by Craig Siulinski. It was something I wanted to do but wasn’t really sure what I would focus on. I finally settled on writing about my grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster’s family and this was my first post.

In the beginning it was hard to get started. I learned from the Geneabloggers website, that there were blogging memes I could use and I have done that off and on, especially at the beginning. But I finally learned that what worked best was to write about my discoveries as I researched my grandmother’s family.

So what have I written in six years?

I discovered I have only written four posts specifically about my grandmother:

She was included in other posts:
6 Generations of My Maternal Lineand many of the posts labeled “Johnston Family.”

I have written about many of her ancestors and collateral lines:
  • Coor Family
  • Welch Family
  • Lancaster Family
  • Nixon Family
  • Polly Family
  • Loveless Family
  • Rogers Family

Just click on the labels at the right to see these posts.

The Loveless and Lancaster families have the most posts, 51 for Lancaster and 25 for Loveless.
Of course this is all based on the labels I put when I wrote the posts. In the beginning it was difficult to determine what labels I wanted. I have worked through that, trying to label a post with as many subjects that I might like to sort later in time.

In the past year, since my grandmother died, I have focused more heavily on research and the discussion of what I have learned. I am currently working on Robert Lancaster’s estate in Shelby County, Kentucky and the Lancaster families who lived in Erath County, Texas from newspaper accounts. There will be a continuation of both series in the future.

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

On This Day – Birth of Elizabeth Rebecca Young on 8 January 1804

Elizabeth Rebecca Young was born 8 Jan 1804[1] to unknown parents. According to the 1850 census in Copiah County, Mississippi, Elizabeth was born in Georgia.[2] She married Dempsey Welch on 21 January 1821 in Clarke County, Alabama.[3]  Their daughter, Melissa Ann Welch, was my fourth-great-grandmother, who married James Madison Coor.

1821 Marriage of Dempsey Welch & Elizabeth Young, Clarke Co AL

I have thirteen children born to the couple with six of them dying as young children and seven living to adulthood. This information came from the book Welch Family compiled by Mary Helen Sims. As I review the page about Dempsey and Elizabeth, it does give the name of her mother as "Elizabeth Young, daughter of Col. James Welch, brother of A. Dempsey" Welch. The information might have come from a Family Bible.  

Elizabeth died 1 Jul 1852 in Copiah County, Mississippi and was buried at the Welch Plantation Cemetery. The tombstones were read and the information published in a book in 1954.[4] There are photos of her tombstone and Dempsey’s tombstone on the Welch Cemetery page of the MS GenWeb Project website.[5] Her birthdate and death date can be clearly read from the photo.

The Find a Grave memorial has the death date as Jan 21, 1862 but there are no photos of the tombstone at her memorial.[6] I can see from the photo at the MS GenWeb site that someone might interpret 1862 from the image. It looks like the stone had been broken once. Also, from the 1860 census I found Dempsey living only with a man named William Smith.[7]

It is obvious I need to add to my to-do list finding Elizabeth Rebecca Young’s parents. The first place might be to look for her where Dempsey Welch’s family lived in Georgia.  The second place would be FamilySearch Family Tree and Ancestry Member Trees to see if someone else has possible parents for her.

[1] Mississippi Genealogical Society, editor, Cemetery & Bible Records Vol 1 (Mississippi: n.p., 1954.), 44, Welch.
[2] 1850 U.S. census, Copiah County, Mississippi, pop. sched., p. 268b, dwelling 898, family 898, Dempsey Welch,  digital images,  ( : accessed 21 Mar 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration M432, roll 371.
[3] Alabama, Clarke County, Marriages, , "Marriage Record, Volume A, 1814-1834," p. 111, 1821, Welch-Young; FHL film 1290227.
[4] Mississippi Genealogical Society, editor, Cemetery & Bible Records Vol 1 (Mississippi: n.p., 1954.), 44, Welch.
[6] Find A Grave, database with images ( : ), Memorial# 17312910, Welch Plantation Cemetery, Copiah Co MS, Elizabeth Rebecca Young Welch.
[7]1860 U.S. census, Copiah Co, Mississippi, pop. sched, p. 161 (933 in corner), dwelling 1121, family 1130, Dempsey Welch, digital image, ( : accessed 21 Mar 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration, M653, roll 580.

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