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More than 25 years ago, I started shaking my family tree to see what would fall out. I had no idea what I’d find, I was just curious to learn about my heritage. My curiosity was first aroused by an uncle bearing a Civil War-era rifle at a family reunion, by learning that a great-great-grandfather had fought at Vicksburg, and by my mom who brought some proverbial skeletons out of the closet that the old aunts refused to discuss with her. And though I did outgrow the delusion, as a kid I was naïve enough to think that the great River Thames in England was named after my family – we must have been famous!
When I first started this quest, it was all about names and dates and places, seeing how far back I could go. I’d write it all down, from information gleaned from the National Archives, Courthouse records, cemeteries, and libraries across the country. There was no Internet in those days, no digital images of records. Back then research meant hunching over a table in a library, poring through books and hoping they had indexes, or scrolling through roll after roll of microfilm, grasping for a twig.
Personal computers were just becoming mainstream, and I got my hands on one along with a genealogy program. I’d enter in all my information, and that was that. After a few years, I came to the realization that, without the source materials to back up all the information, my family tree was nothing more than fiction. I also wanted to be able to point to the documents and say, “Here’s the information that proves what I’m claiming.” And that way, it will all be there when I’m gone off to join the ancestors and someone among the living starts shaking the family tree again.
I’ve also come to want to bring my ancestors to life. In addition to recording names and dates and places, I’ve been adding things like church records, property records, and newspaper articles – things that provide a glimpse into what they were like and how they lived their lives…after all, they were living, breathing people. I often think about the mothers who suffered the tragedy of holding and comforting their dying children. Or the fathers who died young, leaving their wives and children to struggle on without them. Or the old folks surrounded and being cared for by children and grandchildren – and in most cases surrounded they were, because people didn’t move around as much back then. And for those that did move on, I think about the long journeys they made on foot and by wagon, arriving at their destination to begin hacking their new lives out of the wilderness. And I stop to consider all of my ancestors in the context of what was happening in the country – or the colonies as the case might be – at the time they were alive. That little exercise has had the side effect of making me a bit of an American history buff, which is something you could have never convinced me of if you were telling my 16 year old self.
I’m North and I’m South, both Rebel and Yank. So I cheer both sides on, albeit after the fact, and oddly, I don’t feel like a hypocrite. No senators, generals, doctors or other lofty careers, just farmers, preachers, teachers, coal miners, housewives, merchants, craftsmen. There were the Quakers, Episcopalians, Methodists, Southern Baptists, even Mormons. Something about those faiths drew my ancestors to their respective churches, so each of the denominations is all right by me – I’ve got all of them in me, and I guess that makes me rather non-denominational. Or at least open-minded. I’m a daughter of the American Revolution many times over, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to to sympathize with a Loyalist ancestor if I run across one.
Through the years, I’ve connected with long lost cousins from other branches of my tree. I was able to give another eternally-grateful cousin the identity of her great-great grandfather, who was a brother to my own. That was a huge thrill, and we’ve remained research pals on that particular branch. Through other Internet cousins, I’ve obtained photos of ancestors that I’d not otherwise have. I marvel at the beauty of the Internet for this type of research and history exchange. Consider all the boxes and Bibles that contain ancient photographs and vital family information that are stored in closets and attics. Before the digital revolution, chances were that those items would be passed down to someone in the next generation to be stored in some other closet or attic until it was time to pass them on again. Nowadays all it takes is one researcher to scan her box of photos and post them out on the Web, and what was often only a single copy of a photo of ggg-granddad in his Civil War uniform in someone’s attic can now be enjoyed by all of his descendants.
I do have to admit, however, that while the Internet has made the exchange of information and the research of archival material much easier – what with so many institutions now digitizing their materials and placing them online – I still truly enjoy meandering through cemeteries with a sentimental lump in my throat or finding a quiet corner in a dusty courthouse basement to pore over estate settlements and deed books.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that the traditional picture of a family tree, one trunk with limbs and branches, is rather simplistic. A family tree for a genealogist is really more like a banyan tree. Consider how the banyan spreads out over a large area and gets so broad and wide that the limbs themselves develop into their own trunks and roots. But it’s still all one single tree. That’s what a genealogist’s family tree really ends up looking like.
As a hobby – or for me you might call it an obsession – genealogy is great. My husband doesn’t understand it; he tells me when I’m in the thick of some research that I’m playing with dead people, and he can’t figure out why I spend my time in this endless pursuit while so many other demands are being made upon my time. But even with all the hustle and bustle of residing among the living, these particular family members wait patiently and quietly until I’ve got time for them and make no demands of me. There’s a certain serenity in that. I can’t help but think they know they’re not forgotten and that each of them in their turn will get lots of attention from me.
I worry about them even so, and they do tend to preoccupy my mind at times.
Perhaps some of them will come to me in my dreams and give me hints into their pasts. If they’ve been watching me – and sometimes I really feel like they are and that they’re up there cheering me on -they know I’m going to pepper them with questions when I finally meet them one day. But they’ll be ready and waiting for me with huge grins and smiling eyes, and I can’t wait to see their faces and get to know them.
As frustrating as the search can be sometimes, and as discouraging the occasional thought that sometimes it’s all just pointless and futile since so relatively few living folk really seem to be interested, I wonder why I do it, why I’m so drawn to those who went before me. I think it’s because each of my ancestors in their turn shaped the lives of the children they bore, and those children shaped the lives of their children, and so on. They’ve all played a part in making me who I am today. They’re in my bones. They are my blood.
What follows is a “Genealogical Proof Standard” I prepared for submitting a new Revolutionary War patriot ancestor to the Daughters of the American Revolution. A GPS is used when the documentation gathered does not clearly indicate the familial relationship the genealogist is trying to prove – like an attorney proving a case with circumstantial evidence.
Thing is, the proof is all here, it’s just that one has to view it as a whole to see it.
In Mecklenburg County, Virginia, there were multiple men named Samuel Holmes, all closely related to each other – one of them being my fifth great-grandfather from my paternal grandmother’s line, the second his uncle, the third his nephew, and the fourth his grandfather (my seventh great-grandfather). There was no readily available record that differentiated them, and my self-appointed task was to sort them out. The citations used are referenced at the end.
Sorting Out the Samuels
All events take place in Mecklenburg County, Virginia unless otherwise noted.
Various Mecklenburg County, Virginia records (hereinafter cited) show two Samuel Holmes, referred to in the records as Jr and Sr, during the period beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the very early 1800’s. This paper will identify the two Samuels and connect them to the appropriate spouses. This paper will also show that these two Samuels had a uncle-nephew relationship, rather than a father-son relationship that the use of Jr and Sr would indicate.
Revolutionary War Records of Mecklenburg County, Virginia shows three entries for Samuel Holmes: Samuel Holmes Jr, Samuel Holmes Sr, and Samuel Holmes1. The primary task of this research was to determine which of these entries belonged to the Samuel who died in 1804 and to the Samuel who died 1826.
The two Samuels are:
No. 1 – “Samuel-1804” – Samuel Holmes made his will 1802, recorded 10 Dec 18042. In it he names seven daughters, no sons, and no wife. The daughters are:
Martha (m Walter Leigh 17843) b. 1763 – estimated by marriage
Ann (m Josiah Hundley 17914) b. 1768 – May 13, Bible record5
Elizabeth (m John Warren 17926) b. 1771 – estimated by marriage date
Mary (m Marriott Warren 17947,8, m2 Robert Fox 18019) b. 1773-75 – estimated by 1820 census10, marriage
Sarah (m James Reekes 179611,12, m2 Thomas Jones 181513) b. 1775 – estimated by 1820 census14, marriage
Joyce (m Edward Goode 179815) b 1778 – estimated by 1850 census record16
Susannah (m Edward Baskervill 180017, m2 Richardson Farrar 181018) b. 1779 – estimated by marriage date
The detail provided for these daughters above will be relevant later.
No. 2 – “Samuel-1826” – Samuel Holmes made his will 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 182620. The Warren Family Bible record indicates he died the same day he made his will, and using the age given in that record, his calculated date of birth is 4 Apr 175321. In his will, he names the following family members:
Grandson Samuel H. Warren
Grandson Mariott W. Warren
Grandson Robert H. Warren
Granddaughter Ann C. Bugg
Granddaughter Jane Abernathy
Grandson David H. Abernathy
Martha Abbenathy was a witnesses to this will; she is Samuel’s daughter – Martha Holmes married Signal Abernathy (later records show he was incorrectly transcribed as Tignal) in 179622.
The Warren children (including Ann Courtney Warren Bugg, married to John J. Bugg23) were the children of Lucinda Holmes who married William Warren in 179824 (see also records for DAR Ancestor A121576, children of John’s son William). Jane Abernathy above was also the daughter of Lucinda and William, and she married her cousin David H. Abernathy in 1824 (her brother Samuel H. Warren was surety)25. The conclusion that the Warren children were the children of Lucinda and William is based upon the marriages of Lucinda and Martha, Samuel’s will, and the marriage records of Ann C. Warren and Jane Warren; Ann’s marriage record includes consent by Samuel Holmes, naming him as grandfather and guardian of Ann.
Sam I Am
This portion of the analysis will begin to demonstrate that Samuel-1804 was “Sr” and that Samuel-1826 was “Jr”.
The progenitor of the Holmes family in first Lunenburg County and then Mecklenburg County (formed from Lunenburg in 1765) was Samuel Holmes (hereinafter Samuel-1766) who married Anne (last name unknown, possibly Pennington). He made his will in 1762 (Lunenburg), which was recorded in 1766 (Mecklenburg)26. In his will he names:
Son Isaac b 16 Nov 1727 Bristol Parish, VA27
Daughter Mary Lark b 29 Nov 1724 Bristol Parish, VA28
Son Samuel b 27 May 1731 Bristol Parish, VA29
Granddaughter Elizabeth Pool
Son William (DAR Ancestor A057149)
Since Samuel-1766 died in 1766, he was eliminated as a possible candidate for the Samuels listed in Revolutionary War Records.
Samuel-1766’s son Isaac made his will 21 Aug 1772, recorded 11 Dec 177230. In it he names:
Son Isaac (DAR Ancestor A056993)
Daughters Sarah, Anne, Rebecca, Lucy, Frances, Faitha, Mary, Elizabeth and Martha
Isaac’s wife Lucy was the daughter of John Ballard, as proven by Ballard’s 1787 will31.
Samuel-1766’s son William’s will was made 180932, recorded 181333. He names his wife Sarah, sons Pennington, Samuel (hereinafter Samuel-X), Isaac, and Edward, and daughters Betsy, Mary, Sarah Ann.
An early task was to determine if Samuel-X could be one of the Samuels listed in Revolutionary War Records. Personal property tax records first show Samuel-X in his father’s household in 179434,35; since males in a home were taxable once they reached age 16, this would indicate that Samuel-X was born about 1778, thereby eliminating him from Revolutionary War service.
The tax records from 1782 through 1805 for all Holmes households were abstracted and then analyzed to determine if a differentiation between the two Samuels could be made36. Entries for Samuel Sr never show a Holmes male listed in his tax records, which aligns with Samuel-1804’s will naming only daughters.
Samuel Jr, however, shows in 1793 his son Isaac (born ca. 1777); 1794 shows Isaac and another son Edward (born ca. 1778); and 1799 shows a son Robert (born ca. 1783).
At this juncture, using tax records alone, it can be determined that Samuel Sr is Samuel-1804 and that Samuel Jr is Samuel-1826. This is based upon Samuel-1826’s son Isaac who survives to have heirs, as Samuel-1826’s will indicates, though Isaac predeceases his father37.
In the tax records, the Samuels are almost always referred to as Jr and Sr, but as we can see by eliminating Samuel-1766 and Samuel-X and reviewing the sons named in wills and tax records, the suffixes were used to differentiate Samuel the elder from Samuel the younger, rather than noting a father-son relationship. And by monitoring the sons named on the tax records, we know that Samuel-1804 had no sons and Samuel-1826 had three sons who did not survive him.
In order to provide additional evidence for the identification of the two Samuels, further analysis of records was needed, and sorting out the spouses held the key.
Marriage, Death and Taxes
In 1775, Samuel Holmes married Prudence Courtney, widow of Clack Courtney (d. by 1771) and daughter of George Clack (or Clark)38. Prudence married Clack Courtney in 1756 at Brunswick County, Virginia39. Therefore, Prudence was born, say, 1735. As early as 1771, guardian accounts indicate that Samuel Holmes Jr is the legal guardian of the children Anne Clack Courtney, John Courtney, Susannah Courtney, and Clack Courtney, Jr., and later, Sampson Courtney.40 The guardian accounts show that the children are paying Samuel Holmes Jr for their board, clothing, etc., from their father’s estate. Referring to personal property tax records, John Courtney is residing with Samuel Jr in 1787, and Sampson Courtney is residing with Samuel Jr in 1788. It is a reasonable assumption that it was Samuel Holmes Jr who married the widow Courtney.
That said, giving consideration to the possibility that Samuel-1826 is Samuel Jr, this marriage can be bothersome when calculating the age difference between Prudence and Samuel Jr. Since Samuel was born in 1753 and Prudence married in 1756, the difference in their ages could be estimated at 17 years or more. In order to alleviate the doubt this age difference causes, especially since Prudence is the older party, consideration was given to the possibility that Prudence married to Samuel-1804, and a search for Samuel-1804’s wife was made.
In 1782, Drury Malone made his will, recorded the same year, and in it he named his eldest daughter Martha Holmes, among other children41. The Albemarle Parish Register (Surry and Sussex counties, Virginia) shows Pattie born to Drury Malone and Martha his wife on 27 March 174142. Drury’s bequest to Martha was for four slaves, namely Selah, Bob, Anica and Edey, until her death and then to her heirs43.
In order to determine which of the Samuels Martha married, I reviewed the personal property tax records, which until 1801 named slaves falling within certain age groups. Of all the Holmes males in the records from 1782 onward, only Samuel Sr has slaves by the names given in Drury’s will. (Note: The entire 1782 and 1791 records were reviewed three times, but no Samuel Sr or Samuel was found, only Samuel Jr.)
Furthermore, in his 1802 will, Samuel-1804 directs his executors to sell the slaves Hannah, Harry, Mima, Hinton and Isham; the 1800 property tax record for Samuel (no suffix) shows two of these slaves, Hannah and Isham; it should be noted that not all slaves were taxed, only those within a certain age ranges. The 1800 record for Samuel Jr shows no slaves by these names.
This researcher felt it was necessary to also consider that Prudence may have been a previous wife of Samuel-1804 and that Martha was married to him after he was married to Prudence but before her father made his will, with further consideration that perhaps not all the daughters in Samuel-1804’s will were Martha’s. Closer examination of the inherited slaves was made, and due consideration was given to Martha’s daughters ages based upon their marriages and any located census records that would show ages. The tax records indicate that the daughters were taking possession of the slaves beginning in 1792; at this date, Ann (married to Josiah “Cyer” Hundley) has Edey. As the daughters marry, one can observe the slaves’ relocations by viewing the tax record abstract44.
Then, referring to the list of Samuel-1804’s daughters above, note that the birth dates shown for Martha, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Susannah are the latest possible, since the marriage records do not indicate consent was required for them and therefore they must have been at least age 21. We can observe slaves in the households of Ann, Elizabeth, Mary, and Sarah and Susannah. Since the daughters who receive slaves were born beginning in 1768 and ending about 1779, and Martha is still living in 1782 when Drury Malone made his will leaving four named slaves to her and at her death to her daughters, we can conclude that the Samuel who was married to Martha was not previously married to Prudence. It is important to remember than Prudence was widowed by 1771 and did not remarry until 1775; she could not have been the mother of Samuel-1804’s daughters.
It should be noted that from 1782 through 1796, there are only two Samuel Holmes listed in the tax records, and the third Samuel is our Samuel-X, who has been previously herein proven too young to qualify as 1) a Revolutionary War participant and 2) a candidate for spouse of Prudence.
In Samuel-1826’s will, he frees slaves by the names of Roger, Stephen, Cesar, Frank, Ephraim, Phill, and Lizzy. While 26 years have passed between the 1800 tax record and Samuel’s will, note that the 1800 tax record does show slaves by the names of Frank and Cesar in Samuel Jr’s record. Both of these slaves have appeared in Samuel Jr’s property since 1782, and in the valuation of his estate, Cesar is listed as having no value, so he must be quite old in 1826. All the slaves regardless of age are listed by name in the 1826 valuation of the estate, and four of them do appear in the 1800 tax record: Watt, Frank, Caesar, and Lucy.
Based upon analysis of gathered records, the following conclusions can be made:
Samuel-1804 = Samuel Holmes 1731-1804 = Samuel Holmes m. Martha Malone = Samuel Holmes Sr in Revolutionary War Records
Samuel-1826 = Samuel Holmes 1753-1826 = Samuel Holmes m. Prudence (Clark) Courtney = Samuel Holmes Jr in Revolutionary War Records
Lastly, since Samuel-1804-Sr served the cause by providing supplies and since Samuel-1826-Jr served in a military capacity, it is a strong probability that the “orphaned” Samuel Holmes in Revolutionary War Records was Samuel-1826-Jr.
1 Elliott, Katherine B., Revolutionary War Records, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1964), 80.
2 Will of Samuel Holmes, Jr, dated 4 May 1802, proved 10 Dec 1804, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 5: 202-203, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, transcription held by compiler.
3 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., reprinted 1984), 80.
4 Ibid., 68.
5 Birth record of Ann Holmes; Ann Hundley, widow’s pension application file W7844, for service of Josiah Hundley; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service; Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, compiled 1800–ca. 1912; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; digital images, “Revolutionary War Pensions,” fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com: accessed 26 March 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M804, catalog ID 300022.
6 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 129.
7 Ibid., 129.
8 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project, Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills, http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/Ws/MecklenburgW_p57.gif, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
9 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc. reprinted 1983), 48.
10 1820 United States Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg County, Virginia; Page: 160; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 308. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
11 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 105
12 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills, http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/Rs/Mecklenburg_p37.gif, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
13 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 9.
14 1820 United States Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg County, Virginia; Page: 144A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 277. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
15 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 51.
16 1850 United States Census; Census Place: Regiment 98, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M432_960; Page: 73B; Image: 15. Ancestry.com, downloaded 26 Mar 2013.
17 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 13
18 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills, http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/w0ixhome.htm, accessed 26 Mar 2013.
19 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 46.
20 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 1826, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 11: 118-119, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, photograph and transcription held by compiler.
21 Sheppard, Susan Bracey and Carol Bracey Corker, Family Records, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (South Hill, VA: Prestwould Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution), 156.
22 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 7.
23Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1962), 27.
24 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 129.
25 Prestwould Chapter, DAR, Marriage Records 1811-1853, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 9.
26 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated Sep 1762, recorded 9 Jul 1766, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 1: 18, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, image and transcription held by compiler.
27 Chamberlayne, Churchill Gibson (transcriber), The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789 (Richmond, VA: Chamberlayne, 1898), 314.
28 Ibid., 314.
29 Ibid., 315.
30 Will of Isaac Holmes, dated 21 Aug 1772, recorded 11 Dec 1772, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 1: 144-145, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, image and transcription held by compiler.
31 Elliott, Katherine B., Early Wills 1765-1799, Mecklenburg County, Virginia (Easley SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1963, 1983), 12.
32 Will of William Holmes, dated 17 Feb 1809, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 7: 337-338, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, transcription held by compiler.
33 Spears, Jo Lee and Kerry Kirk, transcribers, “Wills Index Transcription Project 1765-1948,” VAGenWeb Mecklenburg County Project Mecklenburg County, Virginia Cross Index to Wills, http://www.vagenweb.org/mecklenburg/willindex/w0ixhome.htm, accessed 16 Mar 2013.
34 Binns Genealogy Tax List Club, Mecklenburg County Personal Property Tax Records, 1782-1805, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013, images held by compiler. NOTE: Sample images provided are intended to be examples only; the complete data has been abstracted by this researcher.
35 Thames-Simmons, Rebecca, Abstract of Holmes Tax Records for Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 1782-1805, personal and non-published, source records examined at Binns Genealogy Tax Club, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013.
37 Will of Samuel Holmes, dated 16 Sep 1826, proved 16 Oct 1826, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, Will Book 11: 118-119, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, photograph and transcription held by compiler.
38 Elliott, Katherine B., Marriage Records 1765-1810, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 65.
39 Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, editor, “Brunswick County Marriages,” The William and Mary Quarterly (Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1912), Vol. 20: 195.
40 Guardian Accounts, 1766-1793, County Clerk’s Office, Courthouse, Boydton, Virginia, pp. 87-90, 92-93, 96, 98-99, 103-104, 139, images held by compiler.
41 Elliott, Katherine B., Early Wills 1765-1799, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 59.
42 Richards, Gertrude R. B., Ph.D., transcriber, Register of Albemarle Parish Surry and Sussex Counties 1739-1778 (Virginia: The National Society Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1958, reprinted by Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC 1984), 40.
43 Curci, Jane, “Drury Malone, Jr’s Mecklenburg Co VA Will 1782,” 12 Jun 2012 post to Malone Message Board, http://www.genforum.com, http://genforum.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?drury::malone::4370.html, accessed 12 Mar 2013.
44 Thames-Simmons, Rebecca, Abstract of Holmes Tax Records for Mecklenburg County, Virginia, 1782-1805, personal and non-published, source records examined at Binns Genealogy Tax Club, http://www.binnsgenealogy.com, accessed various dates 2012-2013.
Richard McLemore (1798-1881) of Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, married Nancy Perry Hill. Richard is credited for founding the town of Meridian. Richard and Nancy were my gggg-grandparents.
I have been following the AMC series, Hell on Wheels – a gritty, moody western about a group of characters whose commonality lies in the building of the Union Pacific railroad in 1865 – hence the name of the show. It’s finished its second season.
The main character is Cullen Bohannan, who left his home in Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, at the end of the war, and who is on the lam for the revenge killing of Union soldiers who killed his wife and son (he was away fighting for the Confederacy). When the show first mentioned Bohannon being from Meridian, in the first episode of the first season, I thought, that’s pretty cool, my ancestor founded that town. Bohannon finds work as a supervisor on the railroad construction, working for Thomas C. Durant, who was a real historical figure and key to the building of the railroad.
During a scene in season 2, episode 8, Bohannon is dining with Durant and two other female characters. During the meal, Durant asks Bohannon if he knows Leonidas Tate of Meridian. Bohannon tells him that Leo was his wife’s father. (I thought, I’ll have to look up Tate on Ancestry to see if he was a real person too.) Some conversation about it being a small world, then Durant asks Bohannon if he knows the Richard McLemore’s! And Bohannon responds, “My grandfather laid the first spur to Lauderdale County,” implying that he most certainly does know him and the family.
That’s when my jaw dropped, to hear the name of an unfamous ancestor in a television show. I played it over 3 times.
Yesterday I flew from sunny Fort Myers to chilly Baltimore. Both destinations were for business; I live in the Chicago suburbs. About an hour into the flight, I put down my Kindle and grabbed the airline’s magazine from the pocket in front of me (sorry, I don’t remember the name of it, but I was flying Southwest) to see the general flight path. Looked like I’d be flying pretty much right on top of Raleigh, NC. Hey, if I got lucky I might be able to spot Fayetteville.
Then I got to thinking, odds would be pretty slim of actually finding it. So I went back to reading (current book: The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell).
See, Fayetteville is my ancestral Thames home (and everyone associated with them) during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The area they were originally from is actually Gray’s Creek, which is south of Fayetteville proper. The original 100 acres that my 7th great-grandfather Thomas Thames purchased in 1748 (from his son in law Robert Dunn) lies along the Cape Fear River. The east end of his property was on the west bank of the river, from what I’ve been able to discern by piecing together old deeds and maps. The property lies between Nash Road and the river, and the old Thames family cemetery is located there. It’s said that the original Quaker meeting house Thomas built – yes, Grandad Tom was a Quaker – was located on that property, but it’s not been proven.
Anyway, I’d know how to spot it because I’ve looked at it enough times using Google Maps and Google Earth. Maps fascinate me; I love ’em. I like deciphering old deeds to draw the property boundaries (you know, chains and rods and all that), then seeing if I can pick out the property on a satellite map. If the boundaries haven’t changed much over time, it can be quite easy, especially with an irregular-shaped piece of property.
On occasion I’d glance out the window (I love the window seat – I bet a lot of people who are into maps are also into window seats). Noticing a long ribbon of smooth flowing river – not many big or sharp bends – I wondered if it might be the Cape Fear. Back to the book. After a few minutes, I looked again and spotted a big, sweeping bend in the river, just like the bend the Cape Fear makes just below Fayetteville – it’s kind of like the right hand side of a drawn valentine heart. So I took a closer look at where the property would be in the bend and yes! there it was, right where it should be!
I was confident I was soaring over my ancestral home. I felt lucky I hadn’t sat on the other side of the plane, and that I’d taken another look just when I did. I felt great. I felt like I was home. I watched it until it slipped from view.