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.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hurricane Arthur

Hurricane Arthur, the fast developing Cat 2 storm with 100 mph winds, made landfall last night at Cape Lookout, North Carolina. This barrier island off the coast of Beaufort, NC has become one of our favorite places since we first visited in 2003.

It is only inhabited by fishermen who rent cabins by the night or setup tents on the beach and volunteers who man the Cape Lookout Lighthouse for the National Park Service. Being a Cape Lookout Lighthouse Keeper Volunteer is still on our bucket list.

All the people on the island were evacuated before the storm so as I write, there is no word on any damage. The 150 year old Cape Lookout Lighthouse is made of brick and has taken the force of stronger winds without a problem. The old houses, part of a former fishing village that was taken over by the government, walkways over the dunes and other wood structures on the island may not have fared as well.

The land for the Lighthouse was donated to the Government in 1805 by one of my gg grandfather's Joseph Fulford and his brother in law, Elijah Pigott.

We will be in the area later this month and hope to go out to the island.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mother Seth

My great great Grandmother, Versanoy Smith Rowell has it on her grave marker, "Mother Seth," I'm not sure what it means. Her father's name was Seth and she named her son, my great Grandfather Seth.

I can't find any records that list her name as Seth, other than the grave marker.

Versanoy Smith was born in June 1836 in Thomas County, Georgia to Seth Dykes and Eleanor Ann Adams Smith. She married Joseph Ruell Rowell on January 9, 1851 in Jefferson County Florida.

She filed for a Civil War Widow's Pension after her husband died so there are several documents with her signature, always shown as Versanoy.

A coincidence is that my gg grandfather on the other side of the family, James Henderson Hogan was the Chairman of the Taylor County Commissioners in 1900 and signed an affidavit supporting her pension application.This was five years before his grandson Millard Fillmore Green married her granddaughter Ila Rowell.

When the State didn't process the application as quickly as she thought reasonable, she sent several letters to Florida Attorney General David Lang, a former Confederate Army General.

She also had the County Judge and County Court Clerk write letters on her behalf. I am sure she would have gone to see the General in person if needed. Her tenacity to do whatever necessary, prompting the government to action, definitely got passed down to later generations in her family.

Versanoy died sometime between 1910 and 1920 in Shady Grove, Taylor County Florida. She was buried in the Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

There weren't written records of deaths kept at this time in most parts of rural Florida so there is no certificate to explain why her name is Mother Seth on the marker.
I've never found an old bible for the Rowell family but maybe one will turn up one day and explain the name.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Looking for Bill Ireland

Doing family history research usually means looking for traces of an ancestor's life in old records, census, land, wills, etc. In this case I have been looking for someone and I really didn't know who he was.

I mentioned Bill Ireland in another story, about the net camp my Grandpa Tink Fulford had near his house. Tink let several fishermen live in it when they needed a place.

Bill Ireland
Bill Ireland was one of them, but has been a mystery as to where he came from, where he went and how he ended up befriended by Tink.

He was old enough to be Tink's father and maybe he was originally a friend of Tink's father and that is why Tink looked out for him.

My research uncovered a distant family connection. He was the fist cousin of the wife of the first cousin several times removed of Tink's mother Sallie Adams Fulford. I doubt that either Sallie or Tink knew of this at the time. He was from the same area of North Carolina as Tink's parents and had been fishing in Cortez since Tink was an infant, so maybe that familiarity had made Tink want to look out for him.

Twice over about 15 years Tink took off on road trips to find Ireland when he needed help and either move him back to Cortez or set him up fishing somewhere else where.

When you consider that Tink rarely drove a car or truck the stories of him taking off to look for Bill Ireland intrigued me. I can remember only one time being in a car with my grandpa driving. He always let his wife Edith drive. On that occasion we were going to St. Petersburg to visit relatives. He got behind the wheel and I was sitting shotgun. When grandma got out to the car she said under her breath "well I never" but got in the back seat without a fuss. She did have to point out the push buttons on the dash for the Dodge's transmission before he could back out of the driveway.

William Dill Ireland was born February 2, 1872 on Portsmouth Island in Carteret County, North Carolina to John Elze and Nancy Jane Simmons Ireland. He died while a patient at the State Hospital in Arcadia, Florida on July 15, 1957.

The first record I found of him in Florida was on the 1910 Census when he was living in Cortez, Florida. He was listed as single and living with several other single fishermen in one of the buildings on the waterfront that were used to store fish nets and provide shelter for single men. The buildings were called net camps but the cotton nets were usually kept outside on wooden frame structures called net spreads, to let them dry out. They didn't keep the nets inside for long or rats would make a home in them and tear them up.
Death Certificate

In 1918 Ireland registered for the WWI draft while in Cortez and listed his closest relative as his brother, David S. Ireland of Gum Neck, Terrell County, NC. He was in Cortez on the 1920 Census but moved away in 1933. He got into a confrontation with Major Hall, another single fisherman who lived in a net camp, over a woman. Ireland shot his rifle towards Hall's net camp. No one was hurt and no charges were filed but Ireland decided to leave.

On the 1935 Florida Census he was living in Sebastian, Florida, on the Atlantic coast. On the 1940 Census he was in Punta Rassa, near Fort Myers in Lee County Florida on the Gulf coast.

This photo, taken in the early 1930s shows the building out over the water that was Ireland's net camp. He built the camp in the late 1920s. I don't know if one of the men in the photo is him but you can see them mending holes in the nets, which was a daily job. Ireland sold the camp to my mother's cousin Grey Fulford in 1933 who moved it to the shore, renovated and lived in it until he died in 1988. It is still there on the waterfront in Cortez.
Ireland's Fish Camp

Sometime around 1939 my mother, who was in high school at the time, made a trip with Tink to find Ireland south of Sebastian, in Fort Pierce, Florida. Tink heard he wasn't doing well over there and wanted to bring him closer to home. They brought Ireland to Cortez in the old truck, and then Tink took him to Punta Rassa and set him up with a job at a friend's Fish house.
Mary Frances, looking for Bill Ireland in Ft. Pierce

In the late 40s Tink heard that Ireland was sick and went down to Punta Rassa and brought him back to Cortez again. He lived in the net camp in front of Tink's house and fished in Cortez until about 1955 when he was too sick to stay alone and went to the hospital.

Both my mother and her cousin Doris Adams Green have fond memories of Ireland. Doris wrote in her book, "Fog's Comin In" that he would make fish hooks for her out of straight pins and gather snails for bait from the net spread pilings, so she could fish on the waterfront. My mother said he was considered part of the family.

My uncle Ralph and my mother's cousin Blue Fulford were younger and didn't know Ireland until he came back to Cortez in the late 1940s. He was just an old man to them at that time and they never knew where he came from or how he ended up in Cortez. Ralph said when Ireland was living in Tink's net camp in front of the family house he would cook most of his own meals on a small propane stove. He often invited Ralph to eat lunch with him and was a pretty good cook.

Marker on grave
Ireland had a small fishing boat, the size of a skiff, with a 9 hp air cooled engine that he fished by himself. He used a gill net, fishing for mullet in The Kitchen near Cortez and Sarasota Bay. Blue ended up with the boat after Ireland died. It was Blue's first boat after fishing with Tink since he was 10. He told the story of catching 3-400 lbs of mullet once in The Kitchen which was all the small boat could hold. When he got back to the dock, Tink was standing there with some visitors. Tink pointed to the fish and said, see that's my nephew Blue, he comes in every morning with a load like that.

As far as I know Bill Ireland never married or had children of his own. By the time he died in 1957 he was the last of his family and was buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia.