Saturday, January 24, 2015

#52Ancestors: WK 4: GINGER, Dora Bell

** cross posted to Lass Chronicles **
Dora Bell Ginger
Dora Bell (Ginger) Cornstuble Langley Summerhill [1]

Family lore[2] says that Dora Bell GINGER (born 29 Dec 1860 in Illinois) was part of a wagon train with her parents John Ginger and Sarah (JOHNSON) Ginger. They came from Illinois through Missouri and intended to travel through Arkansas. The family stopped in a small town in Arkansas that had a sawmill. While there, they sought rest and work.

Dora Bell married John E. CORNSTUBLE (date unknown).  The newlyweds stayed in Arkansas while her parents went on. Her parents crossed a river (via ferry) never to be seen or heard from again. The wagon team that John and Sarah Ginger drove were spotted "going across a bridge" arousing the suspicion that John and Sarah were robbed and murdered for their wagon and team.

I haven't ever investigated this story. Where do I start? None of Dora Bell's children are still alive. All of this would have happened in the mid- to late-1870s.

Let's do a little digging...

I have a probable confirmation of Dora Bell Ginger and her family in Salem, Greene Co, AR in the 1870 census.

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1870
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1870 U.S. Census
In 1880, John P. Ginger et familia are in Clay, Dunklin Co, Missouri [3].

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1880
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1880 U.S. Census

In 1880, Dora and her husband John are also in Dunklin Co, Missouri -- specifically Buffalo.

Detail for John E. Cornstuble family in 1880
Detail of John E. Cornstable family in 1880 U.S. Census

In 1900 (I curse you fire of 1890!!), John P. Ginger, his wife, youngest son, and a boarder are enumerated in Lester, Craighead Co, Arkansas.

Detail John P. Ginger Family in 1900
Detail of John P. Ginger family in 1900 U.S. Census

In 1900, Dora and her new husband Bolivar SUMMERHILL, are enumerated in Bear Creek, Sevier Co, AR.

Detail for Bolivar Summerhill family in 1900
Detail of Bolivar Summerhill family in 1900 U.S. Census

Analyzing the data so far...

In comparing family lore to the census record, assuming I am looking at the right family, it's clear to me that John and Sarah were not robbed and murdered.  They also kept close to Dora Bell, at least for a short time. Or, perhaps, Dora Bell stayed close to them.

Also, tracing the movement of John and Sarah Ginger from Warren Co, IL (1850) to Greene Co, AR (1870) to Dunklin Co, MO (1880) to Craighead Co, AR (1900) then...

tracing the movement of Dora Bell and her three consecutive husbands (Cornstuble, Langley, and Summerhill) from IL (1860) to Greene Co, AR (1870) to Dunklin Co, MO to to Ouachita Co, AR (1894) to Sevier Co, AR (1900) to McCurtain Co, OK (1940)...

I notice that I really should hunt down Dora Bell's siblings.  I have a lot more research to do to confirm what I think.  Maybe in a few months, I can do a post on John P. Ginger.

The rest of Dora Bell's life...

Dora Bell and John Cornstuble have five children[3], including my second great grandmother: Mary Francis. John E. Cornstuble dies (date unknown). Dora Bell Ginger marries a man named LANGLEY and has another child, Curtis LANGLEY (born in Louisiana in Oct 1890). Sadly, the loss of the 1890 census has made finding this mysterious Langley nearly impossible.

Langley (the husband) dies. Dora Bell marries again to Henry Bolivar SUMMERHILL (in Nevada County, Arkansas on 11 Mar 1894).

Marriage License Summerhill-Cornstuble
Marriage License - H.B. Summerhill and D.B. Cornstuble

I find it interesting in the bond and license there was an effort made to change Dora Bell's name from Miss Dora B. Langley to Mrs. Dora B. Cornstuble. Why?

Detail of Summerhill-Cornstuble Marriage Bond
Detail of Bond of Marriage - Summerhill & Cornstuble

Henry and Dora Bell have five children[4]. I have been unable to find Henry and Dora Bell in the 1920 U.S. Census. Henry dies in 1929. In the 1930 U.S. Census, I find something odd.

Detail of Dora Summerall family in 1930
Detail of Dora Summerall family - 1930 U.S. Census

Is this my Dora? There is a Bessie (age 21) on the next page. If this is my Dora, who is Frank? I've searched repeatedly through every census, every letter, every scrap of information I have. There's no "Frank" in my records. No brother, son, nephew, son in law, etc. Is this really Ella Pahanie? Is this Curtis with the wrong age? Is this just a boy Dora "adopted" along the way and raised as her own? That's reaching, I know.

Dora Bell reappears in the 1940 census living with her son Harse, daughter Ella, and grandson Huston (maybe Houston) James. They are living in McCurtain Co, OK.  She dies 23 Aug 1957 in Glover, McCurtain Co, OK.

I still have questions. A lot of questions. Like all of my ancestors beyond my great grandparents, there's so much I don't know. I'm hoping to find that mysterious Langley. I'm hoping to find Dora Bell in the 1920 U.S. Census and confirm her in the 1930 U.S. Census.

[1] This photo is the only one I know of for Dora Bell Ginger. I found this via a defunct website once run by Aletha Summerhill Rogers.
[2] I have handwritten letters from Aletha McDonald to K. Brown and B. Summerhill. Also, I have an excerpt of a story from Aletha Summerhill Rogers' website that is now defunct.
[3] The Cornstuble children are:
Sarah Jane (25 Sep 1876  - 9 Jun 1922)
Henry Douglas (1879 - abt 1900)
Mary Francis (16 Mar 1881 - 5 Jun 1950)
Charles ( Aug 1883 - ? )
Sherman ( Oct 1887 - ? )
[4] The Summerhill children are:
Harse Lee ( 21 Oct 1895 -  )
Annie Pharilee ( 2 Sep 1898 - 6 Jan 1940 )
Ella Pahanie ( 18 Sep 1901 - 18 Apr 1982 )
Bessie ( 5 Nov 1904 - 18 Jun 1990 )
Willie Joanna ( 21 Nov 1907 - 21 Dec 1948 )

Optional Theme: Week 4, Closest to your birthday — Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

#52Ancestors: WK 3: STEVENS, Elizabeth Lou

** cross posted to Lass Chronicles **
Theme: Tough woman — Who is a tough, strong woman in your family tree? Or what woman has been tough to research?

I mentioned in my first post for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks that I have two brick walls: Sallie Lou Green and Mary Frances Cornstuble.

This week, I've picked Sallie's mother, Elizabeth Lou STEVENS as my focus for this week.  I have a feeling this is going to be a short post.

Bessie (as she preferred) is my 2nd great grandmother.  Family lore says Bessie was a redhead (as was her daughter Minnie), she and her husband (David Edwin GREEN) met in an orphanage, she had a passel of children, her daughter Anna Belle was lost in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, David deafened his own son, Joseph Clyde, with a slap or punch to the side of his head, and one of the daughters suffered from Bright's Disease.

I won't kid you. Bessie may always be a mystery.  There's a lot of family lore and no one to confirm or deny the accuracy of that information.  Public records can debunk some of the lore.

Anna Belle was lost in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane

I found Anna Belle in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census.  The 1900 census was enumerated in June of that year.  The hurricane hit Galveston on 8 Sep 1900.  Anna Belle's sister Ella was born Feb 1900.

Detail for David Green family in 1900
Detail of David Green family - 1900
The 1910 census clearly shows Anna Belle as 13 and living with her family in Juniper Creek, Calhoun, Florida.

Detail for David Green family in 1910
Detail of David Green family - 1910

Bessie had a passel of kids

If 13 kids makes a passel, this part of our family oral history is accurate.  Between 1897 and 1918, Bessie gave birth to eight daughters and five sons.  All of them lived to adulthood, as far as I have been able to confirm.

Clyde was deafened by his father

I have not found any proof that Joseph Clyde was deaf or partially deaf.  Even if I did, I doubt there would be evidence that his father was the cause.

Bessie and Minnie were redheads; one daughter had Bright's Disease

Sadly, there's no written record of what the women in the family looked like.  I can find some descriptions of men based on the WWI and WWII draft cards.

I have not had much luck tracking all of Bessie's children...the daughters in particular.  I can't confirm or debunk that one of the daughters suffered from Bright's Disease.

Love in an orphanage

Finally, the orphanage story.  It is possible Bessie was an orphan. It is possible David was given to an orphanage for a short time.  However, based on census records and the probable date that Bessie and David married, this orphanage story is probably just that...a story.

Bessie's story (or lack thereof) proves to me the importance of accurately and deliberately passing down family history.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#52Ancestors: WK 2: ADAMS, Welcome Calfy

** cross posted to Lass Chronicles **
Welcome Calfy (this is based on his WWI registration) Adams was born 20 Jun 1875 in Arkansas to Zachary Taylor Adams and Dora Adams, née Calloway.  He was the second of seven (possibly nine) children.

Some Context within American History
In 1875, Ulyssess S. Grant was President of the United States.  Henry Wilson was Vice President (although he would died 22 Nov 1875).

1 Mar 1875, Congress passed the Civil Right Act -- prohibiting racial discrimination in public accommodations and jury duty. In 1883, the Supreme Court rules the Act unconstitutional.

4 Jun 1875, Harvard and Tufts play the first game of college football (this is a disputed fact).

9 Nov 1875, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and the hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne associated with them are deemed hostile to the United States by Indian Inspector E.C. Watkins. This is part of the what some call The Black Hills War.

He married Mary Frances Cornstuble in 1896 in Ouachita County Arkansas.

Detail of marriage record for W.C. Adams and M.F. Cornstuble

They had six children, their eldest being my great-grandfather: Benjamin Franklin ADAMS, Sr.  Their youngest, Opal Dora ADAMS was born in 1918.  In 1918, based on Welcome's WWI draft card, he and Mary Frances were living in Garvin, McCurtain Co, Oklahoma.
ADAMS, Welcome Calfy | WWI Draft Card
WWI Draft Card for Welcome Calfy Adams
This is where my research falls apart.  Or my level of patience drops into the basement.  Welcome, Mary Frances, and their six children disappear from the public record.  I can't find them in the 1920 census. I can't find them in city directories. I can't find marriage licenses, divorce decrees, land, probate, birth records, death records...not a single piece of public record.

I have three running theories.

Theory One: Timber Camps
While discussing my disappearing relatives with a fellow genealogy geek, Jen pasted a bit of McCurtain County History:

Between 1910 and 1921 the Choctaw Lumber Company laid tracks for the Texas, Oklahoma and Eastern Railroad from Valliant, Oklahoma to DeQueen, Arkansas. McCurtain County

You will notice in the screenshot of Welcome's WWI draft card, he worked for M.D. Morphew.  Welcome's son, Robert, also worked for M.D. Morphew.

I hunted down M.D. Morphew via his son's Texas Death Certificate (thank you State of Texas for having these records digitized!), the 1920 Census, and the WWI draft card collection on Ancestry.

Turns out, M.D. Morphew worked for the Pioneer Coal & Timber Co.  He also started his own timber company, The McCurtain Timber Co.  Neither of these discoveries leads me anywhere.  At least, I haven't had this information long enough (since last night) to develop a research strategy that produces more than Google Books results and a lot of dead ends.

Theory Two: Misspelled and/or Mistranscribed Names (a chronic problem for Welcome)
In 1880, he is enumerated as Welcome (zoom, is my friend!) but transcribed as William. I added Welcome (with the reason being transcription error).
Detail for Jack Adams Family
1880 Census - Welcome Adams
In 1900, he is enumerated as Welcome but transcribed as Welsome.
Detail for Welcome Adams Family
1900 Census - Welcome Adams
In 1930, he is enumerated as Welcome and transcribed as Welcome, but someone has added the variant: Weleom
Detail of Welcome Adams in 1930 Census
1930 Census - Welcome Adams
In 1940, he is enumerated as Welcom and transcribed as Welcom, but I added Welcome as a variant.
Detail for David Adams Family
1940 Census - Welcome Adams
If Welcome, his wife, and his children are misspelled and/or mistranscribe, none of my normal variations are working.  I do know that Ben F. ADAMS would probably have been in a military hospital or base recovering from his injuries during WWI.  I will be requesting his military records soon.

Theory Three: The Mothership. You think I kid.
This is my current reigning theory. I'm pretty sure Welcome, Mary Frances, and all of their children are aliens. In 1920, they decided they needed a little intergalactic vacation. Maybe they knew about the coming depression? The dust bowl? Sadly, they were ordered back to Earth...and they are back in the public record (mostly) from 1930 forward. Yep. I'm frustrated. Again.

What else do I know?  At some point between 1918 and 1930, Mary Frances and Welcome divorced (the 1930 census lists him as divorced). In 1940, he is listed as widowed. Did he remarry? Mary Frances died in 1950.  On 5 Mar 1955, Welcome, a retired carpenter, died in Tulare County California.

I know a little about Welcome's life.  I know where he lived during the censuses of 1880, 1900, 1910, 1930, and 1940.  I know where he lived and how he earned a living in 1918 via his World War I draft card.

When did Mary and Welcome divorce? Why?
Where is Welcome in 1920? Why can't I find him? Why can't I find ANY of this family in 1920?
Why was he named Welcome Calfy? Was "Welcome" a common name in the 1870s? What about Calfy? Was it a family name?

Other questions that can't ever be answered also plague me.  Questions about his personality, his opinions, his aspirations.  These are always the questions that plague me when I research my family tree.  So much is lost when each generation dies out without any personal record.

Optional Theme: Week 2, King — January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cataloging the Family Archives

I've decided on a genealogy project for the year: cataloging the items in my very own family archive. I have been ignoring every scrap of paper, every photograph, every card, letter, and newspaper clipping.  See, I don't know where to start on the piles of possible information I have.  Not knowing has lead to pretending that information isn't just inches away.

This year, however, I have a plan.  I'm cataloging it.  See, I'm a librarian. I'm also just nerdy enough to get a kick out of cataloging a personal collection -- I do it for my books, why not the family archive?

Here's the stumper.  How much metadata is too much?  Is there such a thing? What is important metadata? Should I have a schema that I follow? If you haven't noticed, this is the librarian in me.

I've decided on the Dublin Core schema.  Wikipedia states, "The Dublin Core Schema is a small set of vocabulary terms that can be used to describe web resources (video, images, web pages, etc.), as well as physical resources such as books or CDs, and objects like artworks." Originally, Dublin Core had 15 elements -- it has since expanded for refinement.

Original 15 Dublin Core Elements

I picked Dublin Core because it's simple, there's a set vocabulary for some of the elements (e.g. Type or Format), and I'm willing to learn this for personal and professional reasons.  Next, I will be using LibraryThing for the actual cataloging.  This is what I already use for my books.  It's flexible enough to handle a family archive for genealogy.  The plan is to stick to the fields that LibraryThing already uses (e.g. Title, Creator, etc) and supplement the remaining elements in the Tags field.

Something I haven't decided on is scanning the items.  Ideally, I could skip the scanning until there was a need for a digital copy of an item.  Then again, some items may need scanning because they are fragile.  I think the scanning will probably be done on an "as needed" basis.

My goal for this project is to ultimately know what I have in my collection of items I pulled after my grandmother's death.  Hopefully, this cataloging can continue on to the rest of the genealogy items I have gotten from family.

Friday, January 2, 2015

#52Ancestors: WK 1: Fresh Start: The Adams Family

** cross posted to Lass Chronicles **
Ok. I admit it. I snap my fingers when I research the Adams Family branch of my tree. Yes, I am adorkable.

I've decided to participate in the 52 Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow as a means of maybe moving forward in my genealogy research. If nothing else, this challenge will give me a fresh start on years and years of research that doesn't seem to go anywhere.  Impulsively, I decided to focus my attention on the Adams branch.  There are a grand total of 44 people with the surname "Adams" in my tree. Oops. That's ok, though. Really, I'm focusing on the people that my grandmother came from.

7 Gen Fan Chart

I'm glad I picked this branch. There are two very big brick walls in this branch:  Sallie Lou Green and Mary Frances Cornstubble. Maybe with a focused study, I can finally break through these walls.

It's funny. Just looking at the tree on Ancestry, to remind myself of the people in this branch, shows me there are a lot more hints (hello, little shaking leaves!) than there use to be. I have to rein in my tendency to start wherever looks the most interesting.  This is another fresh start.  I need to learn to be a little more methodical in my research.  Time will tell!  No matter what, I'm sure I'll have lots of geeky fun!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

52 Ancestors in 2015

There is an internet meme-ish thing going around in the genealogy community: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - 2015 Edition.  Simply put, you focus each week on a new ancestor.  The person(s) that started the challenge post a theme for each week.  January's themes are:

Week 1, Fresh start — Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?

Week 2, King — January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Week 3, Tough woman — Who is a tough, strong woman in your family tree? Or what woman has been tough to research?

Week 4, Closest to your birthday — Not too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year)

Week 5, Plowing through — We will likely be plowing through a lot of snow by this time. What ancestor had a lot of struggles to plow through? Or take it more literally… It’s up to you.

Of course, the challenge is about learning more about our ancestors, not following a theme perfectly.

How about it Adams Family? Want to conquer the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge?