Saturday, July 27, 2013

SNGF: 100 Words on My Most Interesting Ancestor

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seavers of geneamusings is to write a short 100 word story using the phrase "...the most interesting ancestor I have ..." in 100 words and then share it.

Here's my offering:

Robert Henry Collins is my most interesting ancestor...and my obsession! Born on 6 August 1849 in Benton County, MO to Henry W. Collins and his second wife, Susannah Bartshe, Robert was an only child with 14 step-siblings and another 14 double-step-siblings (children of his mother’s other two husbands). He married Rebecca Jane Campbell in 1872, with whom he had 5 children before she died in April 1882. Then he vanished. From newspapers I know he traveled widely in the West, living in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, occasionally returning to Missouri. He committed suicide in my great-grandmother’s smokehouse in 1924, age 75.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

High hopes for a Brookshire Breakthrough!

I have been doing family history research for well over 45 years, beginning with helping my grandmother help someone else write a history of our part of the Boone family. My mother and I were working on her lines back in the mid 1970s. My mother's mother was a BROOKSHIRE, and try as I might, I haven't been able to connect our line of Brookshires to either of the two brothers from whom supposedly all U.S. Brookshires descend. There have been several well-researched books written on the Brookshires in the U.S., but those authors have either ignored our line or stuck them in the "uncategorized" section. It's been very frustrating. I cannot begin to count how many hours I've spent searching for and reading early records of east Tennessee and southwest Virginia trying to find my 3-great and 4-great grandfathers.
I've researched all of my great-great-grandfather's children and their lines. While Henry Clay Brookshire was married three times and had three wives and 6 sons, only 3 of those sons lived to adulthood and only one had a son who lived to adulthood and had a son. I did track that male Brookshire down, but he was totally disinterested in his family history and was outraged when I asked him to do DNA testing.
So a couple of weeks ago I went back to my Brookshire genealogy and stepped back another generation to Henry Clay Brookshire's brothers, sons of William L. Brookshire. William and Sarah (VARNELL) Brookshire had at least 10 children, 6 of whom were sons. I had identified a number of male Brookshire descendants of these men over the years, but have never been able to actually "find" any of them in real life. So I started looking again and amazingly found a son of a son of a son of James Houston Brookshire, the eldest child of William and Sarah.
Even better, I discovered that this 4th cousin of mine is on Facebook.
After messaging back and forth a few times, I told my new favorite 4th cousin about the sale that FTDNA is running on DNA testing and he agreed to YDNA testing. I am SO hoping his DNA will tell us which of the brothers we descend from, although the BROOKSHIRE group at FTDNA apparently only has 10 test results.
Hope springs eternal.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

SNGF: The Rivers of our Ancestors

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver of Geneamusings is a particularly fun one for me, as a geographer.

This week, your Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission is to make a map using the National Atlas map (at the downstream course of a river that one of your ancestors may have traveled on.  What does it tell you?  What did you learn?  Did they live at other places on that river, or downstream of that river?  

Tell us about it in a blog post of your own (please show us the map you created - use an image snipping tool or take a screen shot), or make a comment here on this post, or write a Facebook status or a Google+ stream post.  

As I commented on Randy's blog post about the Streamer maps yesterday, I have some tangential ancestors in my SWICEGOOD line who went out to the California goldfields to get rich in 1850. According to one source,

“William Crutsinger and a company of sixteen left Knoxville April 3, 1850, on the riverboat Ellen White to make the cross-country journey from Independence to California. The group was made up primarily of men from the upper counties of East Tennessee.They reached the gold fields by the middle of August 1850 where their presence was reported August 23 by J. S. Wall of Kingsport who had arrived by sea about a month before. No account of their crossing has been discovered.” [1]

I’ve tried in the past to figure out what route that riverboat might have taken, but have not been successful. Streamer shows me that the Tennessee River, which flows through Knoxville, flows into the Ohio River at Paducah, KY, which then joins the Mississippi River at Cairo, IL. A riverboat could then chug upstream on the Mississippi to St. Louis, connecting to the Missouri River to near Independence.
Quite a trip!

[1] Durham, Walter T. Volunteer Forthy-Niners, Tennesseans and the California Gold Rush. Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville and London, 1997, page 105.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fraternal/Social Organizations: What were our ancestors up to?

One of the things I do for the Seattle Genealogical Society (SGS) is attempt to raise a little money by posting some of our extra books (duplicates and books that don't fit into our library collection on Ebay.

I brought another box home from SGS the other day and started working through it. Last night I came across this amazing book. It's relatively large (10.5" x 12.5") in format, but only contains about 60 pages. It's a hardback and the decorative strip on the front is embroidery, with every centimeter of that strip covered with thread.

The only text and only black-and-white pages are the title page and what would normally be the table of contents. In this case, it's a list of attendees and invitees to a single event--the 43rd annual Ranch Meeting of the Conquistadores del Cielo in September 1980 at the A Bar A ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. Most of the book's 60 pages are covered with color photos of wealthy men connected to the aerospace industry in some way having a good time. They're shown arriving on their private planes, dining, golfing, playing tennis, skeet shooting, fishing, ..... you get the idea.

As it turns out, the Conquistadores del Cielo--the Conquerors of the Sky--is a very exclusive fraternity (at least in 1980 they were all men; hopefully it's been integrated by now) of the most prominent leaders in the global aviation industry, including heads of the largest airlines and aircraft/power plant manufacturers. They've been meeting since 1938, and are apparently still active. The affiliations are not listed for the members, but the invited guests for the 1980 ranch meeting included executives from Eastern Airlines, General Dynamics Corp., British Caledonian Airlines, Douglas Aircraft Corp., Hughes Aircraft Corp., Rockwell International, American Airlines, United Technologies, Boeing, Canadair, Pratt & Whitney, Gulfstream, and TigerAir. There are apparently multiple levels of membership, as some are listed as "ranch members" and some as "fiesta members", plus a few (3) life members. Officers and Directors are listed. The only names I recognize are T. A. Wilson, former chairman of Boeing, Bob Crandall, chairman of American Airlines, and Neil Armstrong, astronaut. I'm sure aerospace enthusiasts would recognize many more names. If you're interested, they're all included in our eBay listing here.

Posting this book got me thinking. What organizations did my ancestors belong to? What role did these organizations play in their lives? How can I find out what groups they affiliated with? I do have a couple of membership cards in my ephermera collection. I've got my great-grandfather Brookshire's membership certificate in Blendville Lodge 573, Independent Order of Oddfellows, from 1913. And I've got a small red membership/dues card for my great-great-grandfather Collins from the Communist Party in Galata, MT, showing dues paid through 1913. Unfortunately, I've had no luck learning more about the latter, but it sure is intriguing. I know from newspaper accounts that my maternal grandmother was active in several "social clubs" in Weaubleau, MO, in the 1920s and 1930s, but they don't seem to have been formally chartered organizations. To fill out my ancestors' FAN clubs (friends-associates-neighbors) it certainly would be nice to know what social clubs they belonged to. Anybody have any ideas about how to find membership lists for such groups? If so, please post a comment.