Saturday, July 25, 2015

Finding Miss Mittie

My uncle Julian died three years ago and I did some research on his family. This turned up several questions that just recently were answered.

The family knew Julian's father, even though he died before Julian married my aunt, but didn't know anything about his father's parents. Julian's father was born when his father was very old so Julian never met his grandparents.

Julian Fraser Riddick
Julian's father, Julian Washington Riddick  was born in 1892 in Jackson County Florida and died in 1960 at the VA Hospital in Pinellas County Florida.

On the 1900 census I found him and his father, Julian Fraser Riddick, living in Grassy Point, Washington County Florida but there was no sign of a mother or the many siblings that I knew he had. His father was 55 years old at the time and listed as a Widowed School Teacher. The next record I found for his father was his death in 1903 at the Old Confederate Soldier's Home in Jacksonville, Florida.

There were three generations of Julian Riddicks so it's a little confusing but the first one was born in 1845 in Suffolk City, Virginia. He enlisted in Company A, Virginia 16th Infantry Regiment on April 17, 1862 at age 16. He was discharged the next year as a Private. The Confederate Government passed a Conscript Act then excluding those under age 18.

When he died in Jacksonville his death certificate was completed with information given by Elizabeth Winfrey Reddick from Greer, Florida who he married in 1872 and had been listed as his wife on the 1880 census. She even filed for a Civil War Pension as his widow in 1917.

So where was this Elizabeth in 1900? I finally found her and four children on the census but she listed herself as a widow three years before Julian Fraser died. Elizabeth eventually ended up in Manatee County Florida with several children, the same town as Julian and his father. When she died in 1925 she was buried in the Manasota Cemetery, where Julian's father was buried in 1960.

I figured there had to be a divorce as many times women would list themselves as a widow after their marriage broke up, out of convenience. I couldn't find a divorce record as those weren't being reported to Tallahassee at the time but found a marriage record for a J Reddick and Mittie Harrison dated November 26, 1888 in Jackson County Florida. I wasn't sure if this was Julian as there were many Riddicks in the area.

Another family member told me they heard Julian and Elizabeth broke up. He wasn't sure if they divorced, but he thought Julian married again and had several children with the 2nd wife. So was this Mittie Harrison the 2nd wife, and if so, where was she on the 1900 census and why wasn't she listed on the death certificate instead of Elizabeth?

The Dothan Eagle October 28, 1931
I found a Mittie Jane Harrison listed in Holmes County Florida, near Jackson and also found a record of her 2nd marriage on January 4, 1905 to James Newton Gay in Jackson County. It didn't take long after that to find records of her on subsequent censuses, her husband's death in 1917 and her death in 1931.

The unusual thing about her death is that it was reported on the front page of the Dothan, Alabama newspaper as a result of a terrible truck accident. She was killed instantly when her step-son lost control, after being hit by another vehicle and his truck turned over several times.

Julian's family knew he had a uncle named Grady Reddick, who was younger than his father but I couldn't find Grady or Mittie on the 1900 census. He wasn't living with his father and wasn't living with Elizabeth. I figured he was with Mittie but even now I can't find them on that census.

I decided to obtain Grady's death certificate from 1960 to see what it said about his parents. Thankfully, his wife knew more about the family than the rest of us and she listed his parents as Julian Riddick and Mittie. So this became the proof needed that Mittie Harrison was the grandmother rather than Elizabeth.

Julian Fraser Riddick had eleven children born between the two wives and the youngest, daughter Anna Verra grew up with Elizabeth, the first wife. So there are still some questions that I will have to save for another day.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Henry's Design Flaw

Augusta Franklin Wilson was my grandmother's brother. He was born on March 5, 1904 in Oneco, Florida and died at age 18 on January 18, 1923.

Manatee River Journal Jan 25, 1923

His father had a farm in Oneco, where he grew tomatoes other row crops. Manatee County Florida is still a major producer of tomatoes.


Frank was killed when his Dad's new Fordson tractor turned over on top of him. I have heard this story for years but only this week found a newspaper account of the event.


This is from the Manatee River Journal, dated January 25, 1923. Gasoline powered farm tractors had to be unusual in 1923, especially on small farms in rural parts of Florida.


Henry Ford only started selling the Fordson tractor in 1917. Like the Model T it soon took over the market from the smaller companies who had been there before.


Augusta Franklin Wilson
The Fordson tractor is recognizable in photos because it had a unusually large radiator on the front. This helped keep the 20 hp engine from overheating but also because the tractor had a reputation for the front end rearing up. The extra weight was supposed to prevent the type of accident that killed Frank.


Obviously they still had work to do on fixing the problem. If they had ambulances at the time, I'm sure some Ambulance Chaser would have sued Ford for negligence.


Frank was buried in the Major Adams Cemetery next to his younger brother Freddie who had died thirteen years earlier.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Era G

Dinah and her dog Nicky aboard the Era G
I have looked at this picture many times and but recently noticed the name of the boat and realized what it meant.

The "Era G" was a boat owned by my uncle Alton Green in the late 1950s to mid 1960s. We have some old home movies from trips to visit him and show us riding in the boat.

Alton was living in Jacksonville, Florida at the time and on his 5th marriage.

We called her Aunt Dinah but I didn't find out until a year or so ago that her given name was Era.

Dinah and Alton
Era Dinah Dorough was born in 1903 in Tallassee, Alabama and died in 1998 in Catawba County, North Carolina. She and Alton were married twice and divorced twice. Neither one ever had any children.

When she died Dinah was living with her sister Rubye's family because she had been sick. When Alton died in 1976, he had been living with my Dad after he came down with cancer. Both Dinah and Alton are buried next to their sibling.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Spy School

I have a couple nephews who dreamed of being a Spy when they were younger, maybe they still do. It made it easy to find birthday and Christmas presents they would appreciate for several years.

I wrote a story a while back about a distant cousin, Emeline Pigott, who was a famous Confederate Spy in North Carolina.

I found this receipt in the estate file for my ggg grandfather, Thomas Fulford. It shows his daughter Susan was going to a school, taught by the future Confederate Spy in 1858.


Susan Fulford was born on August 15, 1850 to Thomas and Susannah Whitehurst Fulford in Carteret County, North Carolina. her brother David was my gg grandfather. Her father died when she was four so her oldest brother was her legal guardian until she married and had to keep receipts like this of the expenses he paid.

Susan Fulford married Russel Willis on January 16, 1873 and they had nine children. She died September 29, 1924, living in the Marshallberg community, after falling and breaking her hip. This was five years after her former teacher. Susan and her husband are buried in the Victoria Cemetery.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Grandfather's Champion Oak

Nathan Adams was my gggg grandfather. In genealogy speak, that is my fourth great grandfather. His great granddaughter, Sallie Adams, was my great grandmother.

Nathan Adam's Will -1820
Nathan Adams lived on the bank of the Newport River in Carteret County, North Carolina. I have been researching the family for a while, trying to find out what happened to his grandson, William H. Adams, who was Sallie's father.

Nathan Adams was born in 1760 in Carteret County and lived in what is now Morehead City. During the Revolutionary War he served at Fort Hancock on Cape Lookout in Captain Tillman's Company.

He first acquired land in 1783 when he leased 32 acres from his wife's step father Absalom Shepard. He continued to acquire land for farming and owned over 600 acres when he died.

All of it was near the Newport river and on Bogue Sound. He wrote his will on September 9, 1820 and it distributed his personal property and a Beaufort, NC town lot among his wife and seven daughters. In 1819 he had divided his farm and plantation house among his four sons.

When Nathan Adams died in 1830 he was buried in the family cemetery on the river. There is no marker for him now but at one time there were a number of wooden markers on the older graves. During the Depression, the WPA sent workers out to compile census records of graves in cemeteries. They did a census of Carteret County cemeteries in 1937 but missed this one, no doubt because it was small and on private property.

Nathan Adam's Will - 1820
Nathan Adam's oldest son Elijah Adams (1788-1854) was the father of William H. Adams and received  half of a 50 acre plot on the Newport river which was split with his brother Jesse.

William H. Adams was shown living with his father Elijah up through the 1850 census in the Bogue Sound area and after he died with his mother in the newly incorporated Carolina City, North Carolina. On October 4, 1868 he married Hope Jane Foreman and they were shown living in Newport on the 1870 census.

William H Adams doesn't appear on the 1880 census and his wife Hope is listed as a widow. She remarried a couple years later to Samuel Garner and moved to Perico Island in Manatee County, Florida. I assume William Adams died before 1880 in Newport but haven't found any records to prove it.

I was looking for him in the the Carteret County Wills and Probate records recently, page by page, since there is no index, and came across information about his grandfather Nathan and his land holdings. In checking the location of the properties I found that 175 years after he died he was recognized for having a Champion Live Oak tree on his farm.

Nathan Adam's Oak
In 2005 a local conservation group, the Carteret County Tree Awareness Group started a campaign to locate and identify the Champion Live Oak tree for the county.  They publicized the effort in the newspaper and TV and had over 50 trees nominated. The group then went out to look at all the trees, measured and estimated ages.

The winning tree, determined to be the largest and oldest was found on the former property of Nathan Adams, in the middle of the Adams Family Farm Cemetery.The cemetery is located on Crab Point Loop in Morehead City, North Carolina. At the time of the award a gggg granddaughter of Nathan Adams still owned the land around the cemetery.

The tree is estimated to be 310 years old with a date of planting in 1705. It is located very close to the bluff of the Newport River and it has survived an estimated 100 hurricanes over the last 300 years.  

The Champion Live Oak for North Carolina is located in Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, NC. It is estimated to be 470 years old.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wild Ponies of Shackleford Banks

Sheckleford Banks
My wife and I have been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina several times on vacation and also for me to visit some dead relatives in the area.

One of the unique places is the Shackelford Banks, a barrier island just offshore from Beaufort, North Carolina. It is currently populated only by wild ponies.

The original owner of the property was John Shackleford who acquired it in 1713. The Island was always sparsely populated, mostly by fisherman who lived there to be closer to the fish. The last community, Diamond City, was disbanded in 1902.

My Fulford family ancestors owned land on the coast facing the Island.
Thomas Fulford grave marker

The story of the ponies on Shackleford Banks is that they can be traced to Spanish explorers who somehow got off the ships as they passed the coast and swam to shore.

I don't know how they got there but there have been wild ponies on the Island for several centuries.

In the 1800s folks from the mainland would hold round ups to collect horses, they could then use on their farms and plantations.

I found this inventory record in the estate file of my gg grandfather Colonel Thomas Fulford.

Thomas Fulford died on April 20, 1854 and is buried in the Fulford cemetery on Piper Lane in Gloucester, NC.

NC Estate Files - Thomas Fulford
Stephen F. Fulford, his oldest son, was handling the estate and acting as guardian to three minor siblings. He had to provide regular accounting of expenses and inventories of assets.

One of the items he listed in May 1861 was three ponies on the Core Banks, valued at $526.93.

Thomas Fulford's estate inventory listed him as the owner of a 200 acre tract of land on Shackleford Banks.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summer Vacation Post Card

Like many folks in the South in the 1970s, my grandpa Green had a picture of Martin Luther King on his living room wall. His actually had been there for several more years than those that were sold after the 1968 murder in Memphis.

I have often thought about the photo and just recently came across it in a box that contained old letters, rental house journals and other papers. When he died in 1973 I guess my Dad packed them all up and they stayed out of sight until my sister found them a couple years ago.

This week as I was reading the old letters I found the photo. It supposedly was taken in 1957 and shows MLK sitting next to several men who were supposed to be members of the Communist Party in America,


The post card was produced by the "American Opinion" organization in Belmont, Massachusetts. It is known today as the John Birch Society.

I'm not sure how my grandpa got it because as far as I know there wasn't a local branch of the John Birch Society in Perry, Florida. He read the news and undoubtedly saw it advertised somewhere and sent off  for it, or one of his friends gave it to him.

Looking at this card today and especially considering he had it up on his wall for five years after King was murdered it would be easy to criticize him. When you consider he was born 15 years after the end of the Civil War and both his parents lost family members in the war, I can at least understand how he came to have such deep opinions about integration. I have other family members who feel the same way and don't have an excuse for it.

Abner W. Berry was born in Texas and died in June 1987 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina at the age of 85, after suffering a stroke. He had been a community organizer for the Communist party in Harlem in 1934.

Aubrey W. Williams was born in Alabama and died on March 15, 1965 of stomach cancer, in Washington, DC. He had worked for the WPA during the New Deal and later became head of the Southern Conference Education Fund. In the 1950s he became a target of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security investigating Communist Party membership.

Myles Horton was born in Savannah, Tennessee and died in January 19, 1990 at the age of 84. He founded the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee in 1932. The post card calls it a Training School for Communist.

The school did serve as a training ground in a way. Rosa Parks visited it shortly before her decision to refuse to give up her seat on the bus. She credited the school for giving her courage. The school was integrated which was illegal when it was started in Tennessee.

Horton was also investigated by the Senate for Communist Party affiliation and denied being a member. One of his friends, a communist organizer, testified before the Senate that Horton was not a member but agreed to have a communist party member work at the school to recruit the students for membership. The school was shut down in February 1960 by the Tennessee Supreme Court based on the fact that integrated classes were still a violation of State law.