Monday, September 22, 2014

Fifty less one

Today is the 49th anniversary of my Grandpa Fulford's death. It is one of those monumental days for me that made such an impact I will always remember where and when I the heard the news.

I was just coming home from elementary school on my bike with a neighborhood friend riding on the front handlebars, which I had been told several times not to do. As we pulled into our driveway I saw my Dad in the carport and thought I was in big trouble. He didn't say anything about our daredevil bike tricks but only waited for me to pull up so he could give me the news that Papa Tink was dead.
Unloading fish with Tink 1959


Walton "Tink" Fulford was only 62 years old, younger than two of my siblings are today. He was born March 8, 1903 and died September 22, 1965 in Cortez, Florida

He looked much older than 62, but that is because he spent 50 years as a commercial fisherman, in the sun most days and working harder than anyone else. I've heard several older cousins say he always outworked younger men and was always either fishing or thinking about fishing. He was regarded as the most successful fisherman of his generation. He had three sons but at least another three that I know of who considered him a father. Some were related some weren't. There are few men who grew up in Cortez who didn't fish for him or claim that they had. I met one recently who told me he fished with Tink during the 1950s but my mother's cousin Blue shook his head and said "there are a lot of folks around today who say they fished with Tink but I never saw em on the boat."

He fished without benefit of GPS, electronic fish finders, mechanical rollers or spotter planes. Most of his years he fished with cotton nets which required constant repair and maintenance. I've found many newspaper articles telling about the tens of thousands of fish he brought to the dock.

I can remember being miles out in the Gulf of Mexico at night and he told us to put the nets out because he smelled Bluefish. None of the rest of us saw or smelled anything, but Tink seldom came home without a load of fish.

I was fortunate to be the youngest grandson, who was old enough to fish with him. Those who were younger never got the chance and those who were older thought it was work, not fun. For me, it was the best thing I could think of doing. He would take me out fishing but since I was the youngest, I got to sit up front and help him steer the boat. He sat up on the left side of the cabin, using his right foot to reach the steering wheel. I would sit on the other side of the cabin, with my left foot stretching to reach the wheel too. The other members of the crew slept in the cabin or hung out in the back.

When he died, after a summer of treatment for cancer, the day after his funeral, I distinctly remember a group of fishermen, headed up by my mother's cousin Gene Fulford, meeting on the dock of Fulford Fish and collecting money for his grave marker. My grandmother could have bought the marker, but this was something the men of the community wanted and needed to do.

The marker was engraved, "In loving memory by friends of Tink."



Friday, September 12, 2014

Ten to Life

Two years ago I wrote about the murder of a distant relative that happened in New Bern, North Carolina back in 1914. I found a newspaper article recently that tells what happened to the man who killed him.

This is from the Concord North Carolina Times, dated February 15, 1915.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Buried under a Cannon

Otway Burns was one of the most well known North Carolina veterans of the War of 1812. He wasn't a Soldier but a Pirate. Back then the US Navy only had a few ships so they enlisted anyone who had something that would float to harass the British Navy.

Otway Burns captained a merchant ship called the Snap Dragon that the owner had enlisted to be a Privateer, a legal Pirate flying the US Flag. He was credited with capturing and plundering several dozen British merchant ships.

The British Navy decided he had caused too many problems and sent a Man of War after him in 1814. While Otway was sick at home, the Snap Dragon was captured, most of the crew killed and the ship sent off to England.

One of my mother's cousins is a distant relative. He even has Ottway as a middle name. His great great great grandfather was Francis Burns, the brother of Otway. Somewhere along the way on his side of the family they misspelled the name and it stuck.

Otway Burns Grave
Otway Burns was born in 1775 in Swansboro, North Carolina and died on October 25, 1850 on Portsmouth Island. He is buried in the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, North Carolina just across the street from The Langdon House Bed and Breakfast where we have stayed several times. They put a cannon, supposedly from his old ship on top of his grave  in 1901.

The story is that the ship sunk 70 years earlier and somehow, someone who was not identified, found it and salvaged a cannon. I doubt the story is true, but it sounds good.

When the grave marker was dedicated in 1901 one of my distant relatives, Romulus Armistead Nunn gave the speech. He was the County Judge in New Bern, North Carolina and a local historian. He apparently wasn't convinced of the Cannon's provenance either as he said it was only purported to be from the Snap Dragon. Folks quickly forgot his comment and grave marker has become a popular tourist attraction in Beaufort.

I researched his family several years ago when someone told me my mother's cousin was a grandson of Otway Burns. I decided to check out the story and figure out if Otway had any descendants. I found the cousin descended from his brother, not Otway.

Otway became a very popular name for boys in North Carolina in the late 1800s and has carried on even today. There are also several towns and at least two US Navy ships named after him.

In the early 1900s there were several men who came forward claiming to be his grandsons. He had been married at least three times but on census records it was difficult to document the males who were in his household. There were two young males on the 1820 census but in 1830 there was only one. From the age on the 1830 and 1840 census, if this male was a son he would have to be from the first marriage.

Otway's first wife was Joanna Grant who he married in 1809 and divorced in 1814. I found this newspaper AD he took out, saying he was no longer responsible for her debts.

The story is that she had a son named Owen Burns, but because there were no census records with names at this time, it is difficult to prove this true. Joanna Burns died in 1837. Owen Burns was apparently born about 1810 and died in 1869 in Maryland. He served in the US Navy for about 20 years.

Otway Burns also had a daughter Harriett, who was born in 1827 to his 2nd wife Jane Hall. There were no males born to this marriage. Harriett Burns married Richard Cornelius Canaday who's father was my first cousin, several time removed. His father Richard Canaday was the gg uncle of my great grandmother Sallie Adams Fulford.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Punching the Ticket

This is a War of 1812 pay voucher for my ggg grandfather, Colonel Richard Whitehurst. It is dated May 24, 1814 and shows he was serving as a Private in the Carteret County Militia, commanded by Captain Joseph Fulford.

War of 1812 Pay Voucher
He was appointed Lt. Colonel in the North Carolina Militia on December 17, 1789 but when the militia was activated during the War of 1812 he served as a private.

The State called out the militia to defend the coast from British ships during the summer of 1813. They were stationed near the Beaufort, NC harbor.

The pay voucher has a black circle in the middle where it was punched out after being paid by the State Government. It was issued almost a year after the militia service and then paid in cash sometime after that.

Richard was born on July 12, 1766 in the Straits area of Carteret County, North Carolina and died on October 15, 1823. He was buried in a small family plot near his house, which was on the water.

Sometime in the 20th century the cemetery was bulldozed to build waterfront homes. In recent years his grave marker was found buried under three feet of dirt and was installed in the Whitehurst Family Cemetery at the end of Stewart Street. This cemetery was started by his son John Burgess Whitehurst in the mid 1800s. We were there five years ago and found his marker.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wanderings of Moses

I shared some maps of the homesteads my great grandfather Green settled in Taylor County Florida last week. This time I thought I would highlight homesteads of my great great grandfather Moses Wilson.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains records of the first land owner in many States so you can identify the homesteads and land purchases from the 1800s granted to early settlers.

My cousin Cindy, who lives in St. Petersburg says everyone who was born in that part of Florida is related to the Wilson family. Moses had at least 25 children by two wives, so she could be right. Moses, like his namesake, moved around for a while before he found his promised land.

Moses Wilson was born in North Carolina in 1813, moved to Alabama soon after it was opened up to settlement in the 1820s and then moved to Florida when the Civil War started.

1835 Alabama Homestead
In 1835 he obtained a 42 acre homestead in Montgomery County Alabama. It is near the Ramer community, west of Hwy 231. We drive that road several times every year going to Florida. His land is the dark orange box in each of the pictures.


I spent an afternoon in this rural area about five years ago, looking for a cemetery where several Wilson relatives were buried. At the time I thought Moses's father was buried there but now know he wasn't.
1837 Alabama Homestead

In 1837 Moses obtained a 40 acre homestead just south of the first parcel in Montgomery County.


He moved to Florida in 1861 and settled in what is now Pasco County. He originally bought land and lived adjacent to several children.


1883 Florida Homestead
In 1883 he obtained an 80 acre homestead just south of Dade City, Florida. It is near Hwy 301, which they call Old Lakeland Highway on the map. If you follow that highway south you would pass close to the property my parents lived on in Manatee County.


Moses died on April 17, 1896 and I think he was buried in the Dade City Cemetery, just north of his property. There is no marker for him, but several of his children are buried there. There are many old graves with illegible markers. The cemetery was originally called Oak Grove Cemetery, named for the nearby Baptist Church, where he was a member.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Moving to the Sandhill

It is always interesting to find the land where your ancestor lived. Using the mapping features of web pages makes it very easy today to do it from the comfort of your home.

In this particular case I had found the property several years ago in person but just didn't know it at the time.

My Great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Green moved to Taylor County Florida in the 1860s when he was only  a few years old. In 1888 he obtained a 40 acre homestead in the Shady Grove area, in the north part of the County. It was fortunate that he did so, since my grandmother Ila Rowell lived close by and I am sure that proximity led to her meeting my grandfather, Millard Fillmore Green. After my grandparents got married they lived in Shady Grove until about 1910.
Andrew's 1888 land in Shady Grove

I had written about this land before because of the water feature. There is a large lake called Adrew's Lake on the property. I wondered if he named it because it was on his property. A Rowell cousin who lives nearby thinks it was named for a subsequent landowner. I'm still looking for a map from the turn of the century to see if it shows a name. This maps shows his 40 acre homestead in the orange box.


In 1903 Andrew Green moved near his father in law, James Henderson Hogan. He obtained a 121 acre homestead in the southern part of Taylor county, where the present day county road 422 runs.
Andrew's 1903 Homestead

It is also just north of the Sandhill Cemetery. I've driven this desolate timber company property area twice trying to find the cemetery because my great grandmother Rebecca Hogan Green was buried there. On the 2nd try, three years after the first one, I found the cemetery.

I didn't realize until now that my great grandparent's property was just north of the cemetery. This map shows their property in two the dark boxes.

I don't know what the land looked like in 1903, but assume it had virgin timber on it and was good farmland since many families moved down there about the same time. They named the area Sandhill so there was some signs of the current state. Today it is mostly clear cut or with new pine trees planted to be harvested by the next generation and the sandy soil doesn't look like it would grow much, other than pine trees.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stepmother for a time

My dad's mother died when he was three years old so he didn't have many memories of her. Soon after his mother died his father found a woman to live in the house and help take care of his five sons. She was called a housekeeper but the unusual thing about the arrangement is that she brought three boys of her own. So for at least five years there were eight boys under age 15 living with the two adults.
Sarah Holden with boys abt 1916
Front row Floyd & Clyde Green & Riley Holden 

Sarah Jane Dean Holden was born July 31, 1883 in Brooks County Georgia to Mitchell and Cordelia Murdock Dean. She died March 17, 1973 in Flora City, Florida and was buried in the Hills of Rest Cemetery.


She married Riley George Holden on May 5, 1898 in Hamilton County, Florida and they moved to Taylor County soon afterwards. They had three sons, Charles Jackson Holden born in 1905, George Alston Holden born in 1909 and Riley George Holden, Jr. born in 1912.

Sarah and Riley split up about 1915 and he married Olive Lucille Beasley Bass of Jefferson County Florida in 1929.

Sarah Holden never married again and moved to Citrus County Florida about 1928. Two of her sons ended up there too. She died just a few months before my grandfather in 1973. I'm not sure if they stayed in touch over the fifty years after they lived together. I don't recall my dad ever visiting with her or the Holden family in the Taylor County area.


Riley Holden, Jr. Clyde Green & George Holden abt 1920
The youngest son, Riley George Holden Jr. was just a couple months older than my dad so they were in the same grade in school. His mother moved to Citrus County when he was in high school.


Riley Jr. joined the Navy after high school and served on Submarines. Shortly before he died in 2011 he was honored as the oldest member of the "Holland Club" the US Navy Submarine Veterans organization for those men with over 50 years designated as qualified submariners.