Monday, October 23, 2017

Signature of Uncle Benjamin

I took a photo of the document that Sandi Vaught and I found in Orange County, Virginia in September to share with Elaine.  It is a copy of the marriage bond that Uncle Benjamin signed when he was about to marry Mary/Polly Bickers.  I decided to put the copy on this blog just to make it easy to find.  

Benjamin is very special to my research as he seems to have acted as a father to my 3-gr-grandfather in their lifetimes.  Benjamin's will leaves much of what he has to his NEPHEW Thomas R. Hawkins.  Benjamin and Mary/Polly Bickers Hawkins did not have children of their own.  When Polly's father Nicholas Bickers died he left her only $1.  Not because he didn't love her.  But because she had no children of her own and she was rich while his other children were poor.  I love Nicholas for having left that will!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cabell County Morrison and Hensley family

I wrote on this map while reading Carey Eldridge's annotated Census of Cabell County for 1850.  Patrick Henry Sr., John Hensley, Samuel Hensley, and James Morrison who married Frances Thacker as well as Ralph Smith who married Viola Morrison were all living in this same area.  This area of land is just south of Barboursville and quite close to Martha.  However, it the farms go south towards Salt Rock from Martha.  By 1850 the land on which Solomon Hensley lived fell into Wayne County (formed from Cabell in 1842.  Bird Hensley's land was just a bit farther south from this area shown on this map after he moved back from Illinois with his family just before the census of 1850.

Dennis Hensley who descends from Samuel Hensley (Oldest male in Solomon's home in the census of 1850) told me that ....hmmmm can not find that information this morning.  I'll try to give Dennis a call to find out what he told me.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Underground Railroad

I spent this weekend in Richmond, Indiana attending the Ohio River National Freedom Corridor Regional Underground Railroad Conference at Earlham College.  I go home feeling as if my life has been enriched by all that I have seen and heard.

Friday was spent with a small group touring the best historical sites in the area.  In the morning we visited the Wayne County Historical Museum.  Oh, my.  It is an exceptional museum.  Richmond had the good fortune to have attracted men who made a great deal of money in the 1800s making such things as farm equipment and lawn mowers.  A lady married into one of the families only to find out that her husband was bi-polar.  He was institutionalized in Cincinnati for much of his life.  This woman loved to travel and did just that.  She bought treasures that she brought home with her.  The museum is full of her treasures as well as many examples of articles made and/or used in the Richmond area.  There is even a real Egyptian mummy.  There is a wonderful story that a man who had been president of the Fisher-Price company and is now retired heard of the need to display the mummy in an appropriate way.  He told his wife of the need.  It turns out that she is an Egyptian expert and the two of them took on the job.  They have volunteered to develop an Egyptian room that is quite amazing.

Here are a few photos of some of my favorite things in the museum:

The afternoon was spent visiting the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City.  When Levi and Catharine were living there, the town was called Newport.  Our guide told us many stories of the many black men, women and children who passed through this house on their way from Slavery to Freedom.  Two of the particularly interesting things in the house were an indoor spring-fed well that is in the basement kitchen of the house and several locations in the house that may have been used to hide the freedom seekers.  It is believed that the house was never searched.

In the upstairs bedroom that is believed to have been used by Levi's mother, there is a pewter bowl.  It is said that the bowl belonged to Tristan and Dionysis Coffin.  Levi and I share this couple as ancestors.  They are my 9th-gr-grandparents.  Of course, I had to have a photo of this antique!

Today was spent listening to speakers who shared research and stories about both abolitionists and freedom seekers.  The talks were wonderful!  I will try to capture some of the stories when I am not so tired.

I will also tell about having my passport stamped.

But I have to tell the one more event that took place at the end of the event!  We were treated to the premier of a new movie called All or Nothin'

4:30 pm     Exclusive Screening of World Premiere Film     All or Nothin'  
Loose Lecture Hall

The Ohio River National Freedom Corridor is proud to present a screening of  feature film ALL OR NOTHIN’ by director Charles K. Campbell.   The film offers a rare glimpse of the Underground Railroad.   Campbell challenges the traditional view that whites were the leaders and saviors while blacks their helpless nameless benefactors, when in reality they very often worked together as equals.

ALL OR NOTHIN’ dramatizes the remarkable journey of 28 enslaved Americans from Boone County, Kentucky through 4 states and 2 countries. Historians, librarians, and educators who have researched this event and similar escapes of the era have provided undeniable evidence that free and enslaved blacks, as well as white men and women were integral to the success of the Underground Railroad.  ALL OR NOTHIN’ is a dramatization of their partnership to assist freedom seekers escape bondage.

Meet writer and director Charles K. Campbell and his production team and hear how this story came to light and life on the big screen.

The film length is approximately 90 minutes.  We anticipate concluding the session at approximately 6;30 pm. 

The information about this movie is taken from the site:

The movie is well done!  It absolutely captured my imagination and brought the underground railroad in to perspective for me.  Below are a few of my personal photographs.  Much to my delight several of the actors watched the movie for the first time with our audience.  A wonderful event!  Some of the photos did not turn out, so I didn't get photos of all of the actors.  And the very close up of a most attractive actor is because he was sitting next to me and the photo was thus VERY close up.

The last photo is of Charles K. Campbell who is the filmmaker.

Monday, September 18, 2017

H2 Morrison family

This is actually the second part to the post that I wrote last night that is just below this post on the blog (scroll down and read that post first). I am trying to get in my head where each of the families lived during the Revolution or just before or after that time period.  In the below blog post I established where Patrick Morrison and William Witcher were living thanks to information from Ed Griffith and Travis Morrison.

Ed and I looked at the following book yesterday:

Property Lines from the Old Survey Books Pittsylvania County, Virginia 1746 to 1840.  (I looked this morning and this book is available from the Va-NC Piedmont Genealogical Society website):

We believe that the plat shown on page 12 I of that book is land that is said to belong to William Witcher and is the land William Witcher mentions in his will when he leaves it to his daughter, Rachel and mentions Rachel's husband by name as William Morrison and says that "it is the land on which they now live".  Why do we believe this to be the land?   Several other deeds mention that Harmon Kook/Cook's land is bounded by Morrison.  And on this plat, Harmon Kook is next door neighbor.   Ed and I believe that there is another deed as well in which Morrison is named as neighbor.  But if I look for those deeds tonight, I won't finish this post.

Ed found a land grant (on Library of Virginia website) from the Commonwealth of Virginia dated 1782 in which William Witcher is being granted land that is 115 acres and is on the Pigg River and Harping Creek.  This plat of land is 115 acres.  The land is described in the land grant as adjoining William Witcher's own land.  My best guess of where this land is located is shown on the map below Somewhere on the map bounded in part by Harpen Creek and also bounded by the Pigg River.  I'll reread Ed's land grant document to see if I can be more specific:


I believe that Harping Creek is most likely Harpen Creek on this map.  The other marker that makes me think this is the right place is that Sandy Level is found on the map in the right spot to be Sandy Level on this map....slightly northwest from the land that was granted to William Witcher and that William and Rachel Witcher Morrison were living on at William Witcher's death.

Ok, now that we have this land's general proximity, let me show you a map that compares where each of the three families were living:

The red marker isn't perfect for the land on which William and Rachel Witcher Morrison were living on.  But it is close enough to get the idea.  Rachel's parents lived at about the place where the rectangle with 635 on it is located.  If William was the son of Patrick Morrison his parents were living or had recently moved (need to look that up) about the spot where the 794 rectangle is located.  I definitely call this pretty close proximity.  I think that this is evidence that stacks up to swing the scales toward the opinion that William Morrison who married Rachel Witcher is the same man as William Morrison who is the son of Patrick Morrison.  I have a bit of mulling and pondering to do still, but this is a very good first step!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

H2 Morrison

This weekend was a homecoming event with a small part of our H2 DNA group.  We met at Smith Mountain Lake to do research on this family's Morrison group who lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia during the Revolutionary War.  Luan explained to me that the family only lived in this area for about 10 years before, during and after the Revolution.  I think that the consensus of opinion this weekend was that they were in Amherst County before moving to Pittsylvania.  Then many of the family members had moved out of the area by the late 1700s and early 1800s on to what is now TN and WV.

There is some evidence pointing to the possibility that my 4-gr-grandmother,  Elizabeth Hensley connected to this family line.  The old researchers in Cabell County said that Elizabeth had maiden name Morrison.  And definitely she and her husband, Solomon, were in Pittsylvania County when their first son was born c.1810.

It was a great weekend with lots of research done by everyone in the group!  But more importantly it gave us a lot of time to talk and share ideas of theories of how our group fits together.  We know through DNA that our Morrison lines are matches who have a common ancestor somewhere in time.  My own DNA participant who carries the surname Morrison and matches the H2 lines is a man who now lives in Cabell County, WV where I live now.

Luan shared a theory with me that make the two of us connect through William Morrison who married Rachel Witcher.  With her theory, Luan descends from William and his first wife who remains unknown at this time.  This same William Morrison is Ed Griffith's ancestor with wife Rachel Witcher(William Morrison is the ancestor of the Morrison family lines in Cabell County, WV).  According to Luan's theory, William may possibly also have descendants in Tennessee as well.

So on this last day of the homecoming, Luan and I sat out to find the grave of William Witcher, the father of Rachel Witcher and the father-in-law of William Morrison.  Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to have asked Ed Griffith how to locate this grave ahead of time.  Nor was I smart enough to have Ed's phone number handy.  All we knew for sure were the coordinates and the fact that the findagrave information wasn't right.  So I put the coordinates into Google maps and found a general location.  And we headed out.  After a few wrong turns, we ended up beginning to ask people standing in their driveways.  Finally one man became very excited and told us that we were on William Witcher's land, but that he didn't have a clue about his grave.  We decided that it was enough to be standing on his land.  The location was beautiful!  This area is wonderful!

Here are a couple of photos that Luan took that give one an idea of how lovely the area is.

The first is just a particularly lovely photo that could be almost anywhere in Pittsylvania County.

The second is actually taken by Luan while we were standing on the land that had been owned by William Witcher.  We were only about a mile or less from the spot where he and his family lived and where he is buried.  Luan took this photo while we were on the road and it looks towards Smith Mountain in the background.


To get back to the area, one follows route 40 (Gretna Road) west from mid Pittsylvania County until 635 turns to the left.  I certainly took Luan a much harder way to get to the area using my map.  It is only a short distance (perhaps a mile but less than two miles) from the intersection of 40 and 635 shown on the map below.

Luan and I were on the road labelled 635 on the above map when we talked to the man who said that the land that we were on had been Witcher land.  I would guess that we were pretty close to the box with the 635 in it.  The land was lovely.  

Travis drove us on Friday to the area on which Patrick Morrison lived. This land is on the south side of 40 on the map below (40 and Gretna Road are two names for the same road....this happens a lot in Pittsylvania County).   When we followed Travis, we were driving west on 40 (W. Gretna Rd.).  We crossed Fryingpan Creek and then turned into the land on the left side of the road.  Travis had a man locate Patrick's land on a modern day map and it was bordered by Fryingpan Creek and Highway 40.  So it sits right in that corner on the south side of 40 and the west side of Fryingpan Creek.

The below map is to show the proximity of the land of Patrick Morrison with the land of William Witcher.  

So if I have this correct, the lands of Patrick Morrison and William Witcher would have been about where the 635 is on the map below for William Witcher and just west of where the 794 is on the south side of 40 for Patrick Morrison.

Next, I want to add the land on which the Goad family was living in Pittsylvania County.  The Goads were intermarried with the Morrisons who moved to TN.  But we also have Goads here in Cabell County and I feel sure that they are the same family line.  In order to add this land to the maps, I am using the book that I bought from the 

Virginia-North Carolina Piedmont Genealogical Society

This books is available at the following site:

The book is Property Lines from the Survey Books Pittsylvania County, Virginia 1746 to 1840 by Roger C. Dodson

The Goad property lines are shown on page 13-I of the book. 

As best as I can figure, John Goad bought land in Pittsylvania  15 Nov 1750.   It was 400 acres on the north Fork of the Frying Pan Creek.  From looking at above book and comparing information to a modern map, my computations make it seem as if he was next door neighbor to the land that we looked at for Patrick Morrison:

So while Patrick would have lived in the area bounded on East by Fryinpan Creek and on the north by route 40,  John Goad lived sort of where Luster road is on this map.  I believe that his waterway likely was the fork shown crossing Berryville Rd and flowing into Fryingpan Creek to the east.  John Goad Jr. buys his land on Cedar Creek which is not shown on this map.

Last but not least, I am interested in where the land is located that William Witcher left to his daughter Rachel saying that it was the land on which Rachel and William Morrison now live.  When I showed the map to Ed Griffith, he immediately recognized the neighbor to the east as Harmon Kook/Cook.  Rachel and William sell it to Harmon when the leave Pittsylvania County for Cabell County.  William Witcher bought this piece of land 10 January1782.  It is 115 acres on the Pigg River and Harping Creek.  I believe Harping Creek to be called Harpen Creek on the below map:

When Rachel and William sell this piece of land to Harmon Kook/Cook in preparation for move to Cabell County, it is described as by Pigg River as it meanders Harmon Cook Senior lines and William Parers lines is also described as being on the south side of Pigg River.  The survey book locates it in this general area as shown on above map.  If you will notice the funny small road marked 888 on this map at the very top, it will help place this farm in relation to those of the Witchers and Morrisons. Sorry the below map did not turn out better.  I will try to work on something that is better when I have time  

And also as I have time, I would like to try to locate where the Hensley's and the Fosters were living as well.  I believe it to be in this same area.  

When I did a google on route 40 to see if it is historically much as it would have been in the 1700s I found the following information 

With the frequent use of the road by John Hickey and his wagons, it soon became known as Hickey's Road, and kept that name for many years. By 1751, the road became so important that it was used as a reference point for land entries and surveys. Hickey's Road is shown on a map dated 27 April 1767, a plan of the division line between Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties, by John Donelson, Surveyor. The road crossed Pittsylvania County from east to west in a slightly northeast-southwest direction, and on 26 June 1794, the Pittsylvania Court used Hickey's Road as the dividing line for militia districts. The militia in the South District became the first regiment, and the militia in the North District, the second. A U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey map, surveyed in 1924, shows Hickey's Road west of Chatham.  I just didn't want to loose this small piece of information.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

One more story about spending time with my mother-in-law

I explained in a previous post that my mother-in-law has a bit of dementia.  However I spent last Saturday and Sunday afternoons with her and she was very well.  I had lots of fun hearing some of her stories.  I started pulling up photos and asking her to identify the people in the photo.  One of the photos that I pulled up is above.   I have since had another genealogy buddy, Josie Bishop,  identify the ladies in the photo.  

I asked my mother-in-law who they were.  She wasn't sure....not surprising since it turned out that they were Moses women (her husband was a Moses and she may have only met some of these women once or twice if at all). And definitely she would never have met them when they were this young as it is possible that her husband had not even been born at the time of the photo.   After a minute she said: "well the one on the right is Sarah!"  I looked and then looked again and then said:  "You are right!  That is Sarah!"  It turns out that the lady on the far right is Lida Fitzgerald Moses (the wife of A.L. Moses) who was my husband's grandmother.  I never knew her as an young woman.  But I am telling you that my middle daughter, Sarah, is her spittin' image!  And the small child in the front of the photo is a dead ringer for my niece, Meredith!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey in the coal fields of WV

I had been chatting with Patty Ament about her mother's memory of having walked through the tunnel from Twin Branch to school.  It struck a chord with me because I remember hearing my mother-in-law's story about the same thing.  Yesterday my mother-in-law had a very good day and we spent the afternoon talking about her years in the coal fields.  I asked her about the tunnel.  She said that there was a tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey.  It was a long way to go around the mountain to get from one town to the other.  The tunnel made the walk MUCH shorter!  So she would put her ear down to the train tracks to listen for a train, and if she didn't hear one, she would walk through the tunnel.  Here is what I wrote yesterday after chatting with Sue about the tunnel:
So I asked her about the tunnel today while I sat with her.  She was very lucid, so I believe that her memory on this is OK.  She said that there were two tunnels.  One was between Twin Branch and Davey.  The other was between Twin Branch and Maryville.  She used the tunnel between Twin Branch and Davey quite often.  She said that when she was growing up, the mine that was owned by Fordson Coal Company was called the Twin Branch Mine.  It was good work….plenty of work and the miners prospered.  They would go to Davey to spend their money and there was a row of stores in Davey including several women’s ready wear stores.  So Davey was the “big town” while Twin Branch was more of a place where people lived and worked.  She thought that perhaps Davey had 5000 people….we can probably look that up.  Sue’s family lived in Twin Branch.  Her grandmother whom she loved very much lived in Davey right along the railroad tracks.  Sue said that there was a road along the tracks and then houses all along the road across the road from the tracks.
Sue used the tunnel to visit her grandmother.  She also said that she used the tunnel on the way home from her afterschool job.  She was a babysitter and cook at a very early age for a man who was an electrician in the mine.  She would go home with his kids and watch them until he got home from work and have dinner on the table when he arrived.  
Sue said that sometime in her teenage years the union went on strike at the Twin Branch Mine.  The owners just shut the mine down permanently and the work was gone as well as the money.  I will try to blog this this week…..if you have anything to add, I am happy to add your remembrances.  I will look for a map and photos to add to the post.  marsha