Friday, October 30, 2015

Revisiting the Tragic Story of the James Lively Family

I have written about James Lively and his family before, but recently two contacts -- one through and another through the Robert Muir Family blog -- provided new information and new research avenues to pursue.

James Lively was born on 6 August 1867 at 112 Poker Row in the Old Monklands Parish of Lanarkshire, Scotland. His parents were James Lively, a collier, and Marion Sneddon. Young James' father died of scarlet fever when he was four years old.

By the time James was 13, he lived in Blantyre with his widowed mother and three siblings. He was already working as a miner in the coal pit. He married Elizabeth Brodie Muir, my second cousin twice removed, on 31 December 1891 in Blantyre. The last day of the year was popular day for marriages as New Year's Day was a holiday in the mines. Couples and their families had more time to celebrate before the new husband had to go back to work.

Dixon's Rows, Blantyre, Scotland; photograph courtesy of Auld Blantyre
James and Elizabeth had six children over the course of their marriage and the family lived in Dixon's Rows, housing for miner's owned by William Dixon, Ltd., William James Lively's employer. Their last home was on 114 Bardykes Road in the Barnhill area of Blantyre Parish.
  • Henrietta Cassels Lively, born 1892; died 11948; married Alexander Paterson
  • James Lively, born 1893; died 1894
  • James Lively, born 1896; died 1971; possible marriage information unknown
  • William Lively, born 1899; died 1918
  • John Sneddon Lively, born 1902; died 1983; possible marriage information unknown
  • Marion Sneddon Lively, born 1905; died 1982; married David Gibson

A Series of tragedies

James and Elizabeth lost their second child, son James, on 26 February 1894 to congestion of the lungs. He was just three months old. They named their next child James, too, after his paternal grandfather and father as was the custom at the time.

In the early morning hours of the night 23-24 June 1906, Elizabeth's husband, James, died of chest injuries after being accidentally knocked down and run over by two horses attached to a lorry in Glasgow Road. He was carried home and survived five hours. His wife was left a widow at the age of 32. She had five children ranging in age from 14 to a year old.

Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) died on 14 June 1910 at her sister's house of pulmonary phthisis, or tuberculosis. Her nephew, James Moore, died on the same day in the same house of accute broncho pneumonia. The hour of their deaths were recorded by the certifying physician as being at the same time. Elizabeth's occupation was listed as "pauper" on her death registration, so life cannot have been easy for she and her children after James died four years previously.

What happened to the children?

As soon as I learned those five children had been left orphaned at such young ages, I wanted to find out what happened to them; but I bumped up against the 100-year British privacy law. The 1911 census is the most recent census available to the public. I discovered two of the boys -- James and William -- lived with their paternal grandfather and his second wife in 1911. I was not able to find the rest of the children in that census.

Henrietta Cassels Lively
The oldest daughter, Henrietta Cassels Lively, married in 1912. I had no problem researching her family until I bumped into the same privacy law regarding the birth dates of possible children. The surname Paterson was quite common so I could only surmise Henrietta and Alexander had two children, those born earlier enough I could view their birth registrations on ScotlandsPeople and verify the names of their parents. My recent contact through Ancestry alerted me to another child and gave me the information about how she was related to her.

James Lively
James Lively remains my big outstanding mystery about this family. I now know through my contact via my Robert Muir Family blog that he and brothers, William and John Sneddon, were sent to England to work. I know from the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers Effects, 1901-1929, Henrietta (Lively) Paterson, James and John Sneddon Lively received William's back pay and a war gratuity after his death. James died sometime between October and December 1971 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England.

William Lively
I also found William Lively had gone to Blackburn, Lancashire, England, though at the time I had no idea why. He was drafted by the 1/4 East Yorkshire Regiment. William was killed in action in near Soissons, France, when his unit was decimated during the Third Battle of Aisne. His name was included on the Soissons Memorial but was not listed on the World War I memorial in Blantyre, which I think is a shame.

Soissons Memorial; photograph courtesy of the Commonwealth Graves

John Sneddon Lively
I had found a death index record for John Sneddon Lively. He died sometime between July and September 1983 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. I do not know if he married or the names of any possible children.

Marion Sneddon Lively
Since I wrote about the family of James and Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) Lively, I learned they had a daughter named Marion Sneddon Lively who was born in 1905. Yet I had not researched her any further. My blog contact told me Marion had been adopted and her name was changed to May Hawkins. Using several combinations of names on ScotlandsPeople, I was able to find her birth, death and marriage registrations as well as the Hawkins family in the 1911 census.

Marion had been adopted by John and Rachel Hawkins and was listed in the 1911 census as Mowin Lively.   She married David Gibson in 1928 and died 1982. Perhaps never leaving the town of her birth. I learned from my Ancestry contact that Marion Sneddon (Lively) Gibson raised her grand niece, Elizabeth Morrison, due to postnatal complications. So the family tragedies continued.

From Tragedy to Tragedy
Soissons Memorial
Killed During the Spring Offensive
Dixon's Rows: "A Most Miserable Type of House"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Could This Be Possible?

I have to tread very carefully in this post because all but three of the people on the chart below are still living.

JDP is my fourth cousin once removed. He died a few years ago and I was able to find an obituary which provided a good start tracing his children. Several were listed but it was unclear who their mother was. So I began searching for birth records. I learned that all of his children were born during his third marriage and that he had step-children.

Next, I searched to see how many times he had been married. From what records are currently publicly available, it appears he was married five times to four different women -- marrying his surviving spouse twice.

As I reviewed the list of wives, I noticed that two had the same initials and the same birth date. I came very close to merging them. However, they had different first names and both had been married a few times to different men. They were obviously different people. Perhaps TLB1* and TLB2* were twins? Could it be possible?

I found a birth record for TLB1* but could not find one for TLB2*. I entered her parents' names and looked for other children they may have had. I found two additional birth records -- for LCB and GLB. I did not find one for LWB. LWB was definitely a child of ALB and ML; they were the parents listed in his obituary. Three siblings were also listed: LCB, TLB2*, and GLB, but not TLB1*.

Chart illustrating source documents and which relationship(s) they prove

What do you think? Did my fourth cousin once removed marry twin sisters?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

52 Ancestors #43: The Wife Confusion

Ancestor Name: Walter Richard Jennings (1873-1919) and Laura Bessie (Ogden) Jennings (c1877-between 1907-1910)

After Dad had a massive cerebral hemorrhage in 2012, I brought home a large binder he had printed of research conducted by Logan Jennings to which Dad contributed.

Dad's photograph albums and offline genealogy files; personal collection

Dad spent seven months in a nursing and rehabilitation center learning to walk again and perform some tasks of daily living. When his therapists thought he had made as much progress as possible, Mom decided to move into an assisted living facility so she and Dad could continue to be together. My middle brother and his wife bore the brunt of cleaning out Mom and Dad's house and they saved all Dad's genealogy related files and papers.

I had an account on Ancestry, which I used to research my husband's family off and on -- mostly off as his father's parents were from what is now Lithuania and his mother's parents from Austria and Hungary. Using Family Tree Maker, I merged Dad's and my trees and then uploaded the new tree to and that was my starting point in 2013.

I first began with Logan Jennings' report and entered the information for which he had sources into my new tree. My plan was to go back through the tree, verify sources for the information using records now available electronically; create source citations for offline sources; and delete what wasn't sourced or annotate it as unverified. But I suffer from Genealogy Attention Deficit Disorder, and never finished those tasks.

From time to time someone contacts me about a shared Jennings ancestor, which causes me to go back through my Jennings line and research one family group or another. Recently it was a wonderful person who after chatting with me on the phone, sent me a chapter about the Jennings from the Miller-Duff and Related Families by Marian Miller-Duff.

Printout about Walter R Jennings from Logan Jennings' research; personal

As I worked through the pages of that chapter, I came to a brief entry for Walter R. Jennings, born 14 January 1873. He was the youngest son of Matthew Wilson Jennings and his first wife, Virginia "Jennie" Arinah Jeffries.

Initially, I entered the information about Walter from Logan's research (see above) -- a wife named Dolly Ogden and a son, Hollis. Somewhere in my research, Walter acquired another wife, Laura Bessie Ogen, daughter of Silas Ogden and Dollie Davis, and five children from both wives. A few weeks ago, I researched Walter and his family for at least a third time. It turns out Dolly doesn't appear to exist at all or Walter married her after all his children were born and no record of her seems to exist. Logan had gleaned the name Dolly Ogden from Jennings Family History Paper, by Cecil Pearl Jennings[1].

The death certificates for each of their five children listed Walter and Laura Bessie (Ogden) Jennings as parents.
  • Hollis Lee Jennings, born 23 November 1899; died 10 August 1984; married Elizabeth Denison Hawks
  • Dolly Dimple Jennings, born 17 February 1901; died 17 January 1952; married Raleigh Edward Templeton
  • Walter Richard Jennings, Jr., born 17 June 1903; died 7 April 1946; married Marjorie Josephine Houchens
  • Laura Bessie Jennings, born 4 August 1905; died 22 July 1999; married William Virgil Hall
  • Theda May Jennings, born 17 February 1907; died 12 January 1999; married Howard Montague Saunders
Screen shot of Walter Richard Jennings Family; courtesy of

This is why I do not believe our research is ever finished. Logan did an excellent job before much in the way of records were online. The 1900 census is the last record that can be found for Walter's wife, Laura. It also listed a son Hollis. In 1910 Walter appeared on the census as a widower with five children. Cecil Pearl's research added a wife named Dolly into the mix and others assumed she was the mother of the younger four children. However, conclusions we might have reached previously can be found to erroneous as new records sets, in this case the Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014, become available. These records proved Laura Bessie Ogden was the mother of all five children, or at least they thought she was and told the person who was listed as the informant on the death certificate such was the case. It is my best conclusion until there is evidence to the contrary.

This certainly isn't a big oops such as chopping out a large line from your tree as I've had to do my Riggin line, but it is in keeping with using all the October prompts to write about the research I've been doing on the descendants of John William Jennings, Jr. -- my own personal theme, if you will!

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Oops.

[1] Cecil Pearl (Turner) Jennings (1912-1996) was wife of James Grey Jennings, Sr., a first cousin of Walter Richard Jennings. She may have completed her research before the 1910 census was released.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Clashing with the Governor 1860s Style

Henry Holcombe Tucker was lawyer, Baptist minister, and educator -- president of Mercer University and chancellor of the University of Georgia. He was born in 1819, and died in 1889. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbian College, and was president of a large salt manufacturing company during the Civil War. He was considered by those who knew him to be an entertaining companion, profound theologian, and a well-informed man on all subjects. We have no known shared ancestors.

Henry Holcombe Tucker, image courtesy of the Baptist
Encyclopedia, 1891

A few months after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, Henry became an agent, or fundraiser, for the Georgia Hospital and Relief Association. The goal of the association was to provide Georgia soldiers with the medical care and related supplies they might need. The association may or may not have been known to Georgia governor, Joseph E. Brown, who issued a proclamation related to the health needs of Georgia soldiers. Henry Tucker took issue with this proclamation, let the governor know, and proceeded to ask for two favors.

A political clash 1860s style!

First page of a letter from Henry Tucker to Governor Brown; image courtesy of
from the Georgia, Civil War Correspondence, 1847-1865, collection

August 6, 1861

His Excellency Joseph E. Brown

Governor and Dear Sir,

I have just seen your Excellency's proclamation stating that you have placed at the disposal of an association in Richmond, funds sufficient for the establishment of a hospital there for the benefit of our sick and wounded.

Your excellency may not be aware that the "Georgia Hospital and Relief Association," whose chief bureau is at Augusta, who inaugurated this hospital movement and with whom the gentlemen in Richmond are cooperating; is now sending agents to every county in the state to solicit funds and other supplies in aid of this enterprise. I am one of the agents and in five days have collected subscriptions to the amount of $9,000. We have some six or eight other agents who may have been equally or more successful. We are expecting to raise by voluntary contribution a sum not less than $100,000, which we are sure will be none too much. Indeed, more could be judiciously expended. We have 25,000 men in the field. Certainly an average expense of $4 each for medicine and nurses and such comforts generally as we think our defending ought to have, would not be a very high sum. We are also collecting immense [illegible] of clothing, medicines, delicacies in the way of diet for the sick, hospital furniture, beds, pillows, blankets, etc., which are for wounded from our depot in Augusta to our depot in Virginia to be distributed as occasion may require.

But your Excellency must perceive then the statement in your recent proclamation that you have furnished funds sufficient for this enterprise will entirely estop our further success in the collection of funds. We are sure that such was not your Excellency's intention and we should be glad to have a statement from your Excellency to that effect. Otherwise, we must call in our agents and these voluntary offerings prompted by the benevolence and patriotism of the people themselves must come to and end. Not only so, but we think our soldiers will suffer for want of such aid as we could send for we are quite sure that there can be no sum subject to the executive disposal which would be at all adequate to the demands of the occasion.

Your Excellency's proclamation also states that boxes, etc., if sent to the Quarter Master General at Atlanta will be forwarded free of expense. We have a great many boxes and are daily receiving more. May we not ask that goods forwarded to us and by us to Virginia shall also go at public's expense?

If your Excellency is disposed to say to us "go on -- collect what you can -- and your freight shall be at public expense" will you be kind enough to telegraph to the undersigned at Augusta to that effect at as early an hour as possible. And if consistent with your Excellency's views, we should be glad to see a publication in the newspapers setting forth Your Excellency's sanctions to our proceedings.

With highest respect and esteem,

H. H. Tucker
General Agent for the State

Dear Brother Brown,

You will remember me, Professor Tucker of Mercer University.

Henry's letter must have been effective. Soon after Governor Brown asked the legislature to appropriate $200,000 for the care and comfort of wounded Georgia soldiers and directed the Georgia Hospital & Relief Associate to have charge of the money.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

He Owned a Company and Planes

This is another story about the recent research I've done into the descendants of my great great uncle, John William Jennings, Jr., thanks to a contact with someone through, who sent me a copy of a chapter about the Jennings family from the book, Miller-Duff and Related Families by Marian Miller-Duff. I have spent several weeks verifying the information in the chapter and extending the research to include later generations. Along the way, I "met" Henry Lee Jennings, my third cousin once removed.

Henry was born on 14 July 1901 in Texas to Edward Henry Jennings and Cora Jane Jennings, who were first cousins. Harry had married a woman named Bernadine Olive some time before 1928. She was born in Missouri on 7 October 1903 but I do not know who her parents were. Henry worked as a salesman for Dixie Waxpaper Company and Bernadine worked as a stenographer at bank. They did not have children.

By 1940 Henry and Bernadine owned Mi-T-Fine Food Company, a food manufacturing operation. She worked there as the assistant manager. They lived at 702 North Hampton Road, which was valued at $6,850.

702 North Hampton Road; photograph courtesy of Google Maps

The couple eventually moved to 1362 Zang Boulevard, which is now Old Zang Boulevard and is just off South Riverfront Boulevard. That street runs beside the Trinity River.

In 1953 Henry and Bernadine visited State of Tamaulipas, Mexico, twice. They returned to Texas from Tampico on 25 February in a Ryan Navion private jet piloted by Henry. On 1 July they returned from La Pesca, a resort town on the Gulf of Mexico -- again, in the same plane piloted by Henry. It was at least the second plane he owned.

The Navion is a single-engine, unpressurized, retractable gear, 4-seat aircraft. It was originally built by North American Aviation and later by Ryan Aeronautical Corporation and Tubular Steel Corporation. It was designed to take advantage of the expected postwar boom in civil aviation. The Navion was designed along similar lines as the P-51 Mustang, one of the best fighter aircraft during World War II.

Restored 1947 Navion; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

From the scattered documents about Henry and Bernadine's life together, it seems they were quite successful and enjoyed the fruits of that success. Henry died 19 November 1975 in Dade County, Florida. He lived on Marathon Key at the time of his death. Bernadine lived another 26 years. I plan on ordering her original social application in order to hopefully learn her maiden name. According to the Missouri Birth Records, 1851-1910, 16 white female births were recorded for 7 October 1903; two of them without first names. So this is another research route to follow.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

52 Ancestors #42: Mayor of Downey, California

Ancestor Name: Richard Marchand Jennings, Sr. (1912-1998)

I don't really get too emotionally invested in the ancestors I didn't know. After all, I never knew they existed until I discovered them in a document somewhere. We may have shared certain common genes, but they certainly weren't part of the me that was shaped by environment or the love I received from "family." I live by the words of a by-marriage ancestor, who was herself adopted, Edith Mary Madeline Ternes (whose birth name was Freda Isobel Watson):

"If any family tree is shaken hard enough, I am sure it will produce stories of heroes and horse thieves. Lives to be proud of, lives to imitate and some to regret. Your family tree will no doubt be the same, so I think it wise to remember that we are totally responsible for ourselves and our lives but we owe no debt to the past."

Recently, as I was researching the descendants of John William Jennings, Jr., an older brother of my great great grandfather, I stumbled upon the obituary for Richard Marchand Jennings, Sr., who was a former two-term mayor of Downey, California. The obituary went on to list several civic organizations with which the former mayor was involved. If I'm not proud of Richard Marchand Jennings, I can certainly admire his ethos of community service.

Welcome to Downey sign; image courtesy of Dying Downey

The official City of Downey, California, website describes the city:

"We are home to to where the Apollo space program began its journey to the stars. Downey is where you can find the world's oldest McDonalds restaurant and the site of the first Taco Bell eatery. This is the city where pop recording artists, 'The Carpenters,' were inspired with many hit records." Downey is located in southeast Los Angeles county about 13 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

1955 map of Downey, California; image courtesy of the
Downey Historical Society

Richard Marchand Jennings was the second of three children of Archie Herbert Jennings and Stella (or Estella) Marchand. He was born on 3 August 1912 in Van Nuys, California. By 1930 the family lived in Longmont, Colorado, and his father worked as a foreman of a boiler room at a sugar factory.

By 1940, Richard had married Mildred Wadsworth and lived in Boulder, Colorado. He worked as a technician conducting experimental investigations. Their only known son, Richard Marchand Jennings, Jr., was born the next year. By 1952 Richard, Sr., and family moved to Whittier, California, and he worked for Standard Oil. By 1961 they lived in Downey, which is nine miles from Whittier. Their son married Virginia Martell that year and the couple had three children before divorcing in 1971. Sadly both Richard, Sr., and Mildred outlived their son, who died in 1973.

Richard served two terms as mayor from 1974-1975 and 1977-1978. Richard and Mildred remained in Downey the rest of their lives. She died in 1995 and Richard, Sr., died on 16 November 1998. Both were interred at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. Their son and granddaughter were also buried there.

I learned Richard Marchand Jennings, Sr., had been a former mayor of Downey from the California Genealogy & History information on Rootsweb where his obituary was posted:

Former mayor Richard M. Jennings mourned

Downey -- Services were held 21 November at the Church of Latter Day Saints for Richard M. Jennings, a 30-year resident of Downey and former two-term mayor of the city.

He was born in Van Nuys 3 August 1912 and died 16 November.

Survivors include grandchildren Debra, Richard and Robert Jennings and six great grandchildren.

He served the community through service clubs and committees for more than 30 years, and was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Downey Elks and Downey Rotary. He was a five-year trustee and six-year audit chairman for the Elks; a member of the Department of Public Social Services Commission; a member and former chairman of the Cerritos Corridor Diversion Project; a member of the Los Angeles County Sanitation Commission; a member and former chairman of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority; a member of the Downey School District Vocational Education Advisory Committee; a member of the Downey Community Hospital Long Range Planning Committee; director of the Second Century Foundation; director of the Barbara Dawson School for the Handicapped; founding member of the American Society of Photogrammetry; and a licensed land surveyor in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Alaska.

Bishop Robert A. Douglas of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints officiated. Burial followed at Rose Hills Memorial Park. Arrangement were by the Miller-Mies Mortuary of Downey.

Published in the Downey Eagle on 27 November 1998.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Proud.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

British Surrender at Saratoga

Today marks the 238th anniversary of British General John Burgoyne's surrender to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York, turning the tide of the Revolutionary War in the American's favor.

Surrender of General Burgoyne by John Trumbull; image courtesy of the
Architect of the Capitol

General Burgoyne left Canada in the summer of 1777 and planned to march his troops to Albany, New York, where his army would meet other British troops and cut off New England from the rest of the colonies. The hope was without the fervor of New England, the war would sputter out and end. However, American troops dug in on the highlands above the Hudson River near Saratoga. Their objective was to stall Burgoyne's progress.

The opening battle began on 19 September 1777 and became known as The Battle of Freeman's Farm. John Freeman was a loyalist, who abandoned his farm and went north to join Burgoyne. These are the fields where the opening battle took place:

These fields once belonged to John Freeman and were where the opening
battle of Saratoga, which became known as the Battle of Freeman's Farm;
personal collection

General Burgoyne won a tactical victory but took high casualties, thanks in part to Daniel Morgan and his troop of riflemen, specially selected from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for their marksman skill. During the battle, they picked off the officers of British units. In the month-long period between the opening engagement and Burgoyne's surrender, the British general received no reinforcements while Gates' army outnumbered the British by several thousand troops. In addition a continual stream of militia streamed in during the battles.

John Neilson's restored house which was taken over by American troops
during the Battle of Saratoga; personal collection

American Revolutionary War re-enactors encamp on John Neilson's farm;
personal collection

General Burgoyne had a decision to make after the initial battle. He could continue to attack or retreat. Believing retreat to be dishonorable, he decided to attack. Again, Burgoyne had decisions to make, stay near the Hudson River, or move inland into highlands. He had to make this decision with little information about his enemy. General Gates on the other hand, received consistent intelligence about the British from deserters and had intercepted some British communications.

The Battle of Bermis Heights began on 7 October 1777 with a British reconnaissance of the American left flank. Gates had placed Morgan's riflemen on the far left of his line with American General Enoch Poor's men firing on the British. The battle began in the afternoon. Morgan's men swept aside the opposition and continued to break up British attempts to move west. On the other side of Gates' line, the British were routed. The battle lasted little more than an hour. Burgoyne lost over 400 men, several officers and most of his field artillery.

"These [rebel riflemen]... hovered upon the flanks in small detachments, and were very expert in securing themselves, and in shifting the ground... many placed themselves in high trees in the rear of their own line, and there was seldom a minute's interval in any part of our line without officers being taken off by a single shot." -- General John Burgoyne, State of Expedition, 1777, after he surrendered.

Chatfield Farm where American and British pickets exchanged fire before
the Battle of Bermis Heights; personal collection

Revolutionary War artillery piece which changed hands many times during
the Battle of Saratoga; personal collection

General Burgoyne retreated under the cover of darkness a few miles north near present day Schulyerville. By 13 October he was surrounded at Saratoga Springs and he surrendered on 17 October. Burgoyne returned to England and never held another military command.

Today, 238 years ago, the British learned the Americans would fight effectively. One British officer said:

"The courage and obstinacy with which the Americans fought were the astonishment of everyone, and we now became fully convinced that they are not that contemptible enemy we had hitherto imagined them, incapable of standing a regular engagement, and that they would only fight behind strong and powerful works."

The battles around Saratoga were pivotal. The victory led the French to openly side with Americans, providing crucial assistance throughout the remainder of the war.

In a case of pure serendipity, my husband and I visited the Saratoga National Historic Park and toured the battlefield on 20 September 2015 during the 238th anniversary celebration at the park. Our visit was enriched by the British and American re-enactors, who gave several talks about Army life and the battle. The photographs in this post were taken during that visit.

Morgan memorial tablet; personal collection

Saratoga 1777
Here Morgan reluctant to destroy so noble a foe was forced by patriotic necessity to defeat and slay the gentle and gallant Fraser.

To commemorate the magnanimity of Morgan's heroic nature and his stern sense of duty to his country, this tablet is here inscribed by Virginia Neville Taylor, great granddaughter of Gen. Daniel Morgan.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aboard the USS North Carolina (ACR-12)

Recently, I contacted an member, who had several obituaries attached to his family tree  which were written about the descendants of Leroy P. Jennings, my great grandfather's first cousin. We emailed back and forth and have spoken by telephone, sharing our information about the Jennings family.

His grandfather was James Henly Jennings, the oldest son of Leroy and his second wife, Sarah Ellen Clements, and Leroy's first child born in Texas. James was born on 12 October 1886 in Lorena, Texas, and married Mary Hanna Tellaro on 14 May 1909. The newspaper article about the marriage stated James was a prominent rice planter from Lissie and Mary was a daughter of Italian immigrants who settled in Chesterville. The next year James was still growing rice on a farm he rented in Lissie but in 1911, he and Mary had moved to Houston where James worked for Dickson Car Wheel Company.

When James registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917, he continued to work for Dickson Car Wheel Company as a wheel moulder and he and Mary had two children. He claimed an exemption from the draft due to his dependents. The government must not have agreed, however, because when his father's obituary was published in 1919, James was in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS North Carolina. When the 1920 census was enumerated James and his family were back in Houston. So I know he served on the ship for some period of time between 5 June 1917 and 12 January 1920.

Official U.S. Navy photograph of the USS North Carolina (ACR-12); courtesy
of NavSource

The USS North Carolina (ACR-12) was a Tennessee-class armored cruised built in 1905 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company. She was launched on 6 October 1906 by Rebekah Glenn, a daughter of the governor of North Carolina, and commissioned on 7 May 1908. During World War I, she became the first ship to launch a plane by catapult while underway.

Using a catapult to launch a sea plane in 1916; photograph courtesy of

I contacted the curator of the USS Battleship North Carolina (BB-55) archive and asked about the World War I service of her predecessor, the armored cruiser ACR-12. She told me the following information about the ship's service:

When the U.S. entered the war, the USS North Carolina (ACR-12) was assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force and began escorting ships across the Atlantic in July 1917. Her home port was New York City. She made nine trips across the Atlantic Ocean, covering 60,000 miles and safely escorting 61 troop transport ships to the French coast. From December 1918 to July 1919 she ferried the American Expeditionary Forces home from Europe. Overall, she brought nearly 9,000 men home.

USS North Carolina (BB-55) archives include muster rolls for March and September 1919. James Henly Jennings did not appear on those rolls. However, they do not have rolls for July 1919, so it is possible he was onboard at that time.  In July 1919, the archive curator told me she was detached from the transport force and ordered to the Pacific. She went into reduced commission at Bremerton, Washington.  In July 1920 she was renamed Charlotte (CA-12) so that her name could be used for a new battleship. She was decommissioned in 1921.

10 October 2015 Update: One of my fellow Jennings researchers discovered that it was not James Henly Jennings who served on the USS North Carolina, but rather his brother, Leroy Carrington Jennings, Sr. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1917 to 1919. He played in the ship's band. The source of the confusion was his father's obituary, which was published in the Tulia Herald on 4 July 1919. The paragraph that confused me:

"He is survived by his widow and 17 children and all except three were at his bedside when the end came. They are as follows: O. W. [Oscar William] Jennings, Peoria, Ariz.; Mrs. M. E. [Minnie Etta] Henry, Broaddus, Texas; E. W. [Edgar Willis] Jennings, Lufkin, Texas; H. L. [Harry Lee] Jennings, Ontario, Cal.; C. M. [Charles Marion] Jennings, Palestine, Texas; Mrs. R. B. [Rosa Bell] Key, Tulia, Texas; A. H. [Archie Herbert] Jennings, Louisville, Colo.; Mrs. E. H. [Cora Jane, married to cousin, Edward Henry] Jennings, Jacksonville, Texas; J. H. [James Henly] Jennings, United States cruiser North Carolina; Mrs. H. L. [Hilda Lillian] Stevens, H. M. [Henry Meriwether] Jennings, Jennie, Clarence, Bernardine, Lucille, and Leona Jennings, all of this city."

What I didn't catch was that son, Leroy Carrington Jennings, Sr., was omitted from the list of survivors. Since they are in age order, he should have been listed between James Henly and Hilda Lillian. Leroy, or Roy as he was called, was the one serving on the USS North Carolina. James Henly Jennings lived in Houston and worked for the Dickson Car Wheel Company as a wheel moulder during the war. He had a wife and two children at the time he registered for the World War I draft.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

52 Ancestors #41: Did An Affair Lead to Murder?

Ancestory Name: Harold Elmo Vaden (1894-1928) and Virginia Lee Foster (1901-unknown)

Another story I learned while researching the descendants of John William Jennings, Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth "Eliza" Ann Vernon, was the story of my third cousin once removed, Virginia Lee Foster. She was born about 1901 in Staunton, Virginia, to Leroy Winfield and Ann Elizabeth "Annie Eliza" (Henson) Foster. She was their middle child, though her younger brother died before his first birthday. Her father worked as a shipping clerk. By 1909 Leroy had moved his family to Lynchburg and was working as a grocer.

Virginia spent the rest of her childhood in Lynchburg and married Harold "Harry" Elmo Vaden there on 14 May 1918. Virginia was 17 years old and Harry was 23. He worked as a traveling salesman for C. H. Beasley & Brothers, which was owned by Virginia's mother's half-brother, Charles Henry Beasley. Virginia and Harry had three children between 1920 and 1926. Vaden was born in Pittsylvania County and by 1928 he and his family lived in Gretna, Virginia, a small town in the county.

On 15 February 1928 the former mayer of Gretna, Dennis E. Webb, shot and killed Harry Vaden. There was an all-day court proceeding on 3 March in Chatham in which Mr. Webb's case was bound over for grand jury action. Witness testimony was contradictory. Two state witnesses testified that Webb shot first but one, who admitted being a friend of Webb's, believed Vaden fired the first shot.

Greensboro Daily News, 4 March 1928; courtesy
of the North Carolina State Archives

Harry Vaden's brother testified, as well, and it was during his testimony that the motive was revealed. According to an article in the Greensboro Daily News, R. C. Vaden stated, "that his brother had told him that he had received an anonymous letter informing him that his wife had been seen riding at night with Webb." Vaden's testimony continued, "his brother told him he went to see Webb, taxed him with the situation, whereupon Webb entered a denial, agreeing, however, to leave Gretna for good."

Another man testified that just before the shooting, Vaden approached Webb saying, "I thought I told you to leave town a week ago." Seconds later, Vaden was dead.

An earlier article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about Vaden's funeral had this to say about the fatal incident:

"Webb will plead self-defense, insisting that as Vaden fired the first shot he, Webb grasped the pistol thereby causing the shot intended for Webb to strike the walk, and that Webb then opened fire on Vaden. The Commonwealth will attempt to prove that Vaden did not fire until he was down from a shot from Webb's pistol, though it is generally thought Vaden, after getting out of his car when he saw Webb on the sidewalk, approached Webb with pistol in hand."

The first murder trial resulted in a hung jury. During the second trial, Dennis E. Webb was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary in Richmond. His attorney's appealed the verdict and in March 1929 the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals granted a writ of error and agreed to hear the appeal. His appeal was apparently denied in 1930.

In a strange twist, Webb was eventually pardoned. According to a 10 November 1933 article in the Greensboro Daily News, "He is among the state penitentiary inmates who volunteered to see what would happen to them if they allowed themselves to be bitten by mosquitoes transported from St. Louis and believed to be infected with the encephalitis germ. He is one of 10 convicts who were chosen for the test and having made their contribution to science Governor Pollard will grant all of them conditional pardons."

Greensboro Daily News, 10 November 1933; courtesy
of the North Carolina State Archives

So what happened to Harry Vaden's widow?

In 1930 she was a boarder in Washington, DC, at the home of Frank and Mary Hodge and worked as a stenographer for the United States government. Her children remained in Lynchburg and lived with their maternal grandparents. In 1940 her widowed mother, youngest child, and two boarders lived with her in a house she rented for $60. She worked as a bookkeeper. Her marital status was listed as married and her surname as Schalfer but there is no sign of Mr. Schalfer in the home. And that is the last record about Virginia Lee (Foster) Vaden Schalfer I have been able to find.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Colorful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and Its Frederick Mine

Some of you may remember reading Electrocuted in the Frederick Mine about the untimely death of my second cousin twice removed, James Richardson, in 1921. Today I'd like to tell you a little bit about the mine itself and the company that owned it.

The Frederick Mine was owned by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) and was the company's most productive mine. The company was a large steel manufacturer and had been owned and controlled by John D. Rockefeller since 1903. The company produced 53 percent of the coal mined in Colorado and owned 23 mines in several counties including Las Animas where the Frederick Mine was located near the town of Trinidad. The mine was surrounded by expansive bituminous coal fields and several other mines. Bituminous coal was used in the production of steel. Coal from the mine was moved by rail to CF&I-owned steel factories in Pueblo, Colorado, just one example of the vertical integration Rockefeller practiced in his business operations.

Access to the Frederick Mine; photograph courtesy of Bessemer Historical

James, his father, step-mother and siblings immigrated from Scotland in 1906. They traveled to Trinidad because a friend of James' father had immigrated there previously. Most of the labor force at the Frederick Mine were immigrants. The history of labor relations between the miners and CF&I was volatile. During the strike of 1913-14 the governor of Colorado called out the National Guard to quell the miners, who were evicted from their homes. They lived in tent cities erected by the union. During one skirmish between the Guard and the striking miners, the camp burned and 15 women and children were killed. This incident has come to be known as the Ludlow Massacre. It turned public opinion against the coal industry and John D. Rockefeller.

Remains of the tent city after the fire; photograph courtesy of the Library
of Congress

Rockefeller was singled out during the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations extensive investigative hearings. Perhaps as a result, he introduced the Colorado Industrial Plan in 1915. The plan included an internal system of worker representation and some guarantees for fairness at work and in the company towns.

Segundo, Colorado, where James Richardson lived from at least 1910 to 1917 served as an example of the promises made under the 1915 plan. It offered ample housing and included a YMCA center for additional educational opportunities for the children of miners.

Demand for coal had already begun to decline and after a major fire in 1929, CF&I left Segundo. Several administration buildings at the CF&I steel factory in Pueblo were purchased by the Steelworks Center of the West to house their Steelworks Museum and Archives, which include the archives of CF&I.

And so went the rise and fall of the Frederick Mine and the company towns that housed its workers -- an end of era.

Electrocuted in the Frederick Mine

Sunday, October 4, 2015

52 Ancestors #40: Gone to Texas

Ancestor Name: Leroy P. Jennings (1841-1919)

I wrote a little bit about Leroy (Peter or Powhatan) Jennings a few weeks ago in my post, Three Brothers Married Three Sisters. Leroy was a first cousin of my great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings. He was born on 23 November 1841 to John William Jennings, Jr., and Elizabeth "Eliza" Ann Vernon in Appomattox County, Virginia. By the age of 9, his father had moved the family to Amherst County. Leroy was a Civil War veteran, who served in the 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment and was wounded several times. During the well known charge of Pickett's brigade, he was wounded and taken prisoner. Shortly before General Robert E. Lee surrendered, he was wounded for the last time and returned to Amherst County. He married Isabella M. White on 10 August 1865. They had eleven known children before Isabella died in 1883. (Those children are listed in my previous post.)

Muster roll for Leroy P. Jennings after Gettysburg;
courtesy of

The next year, Leroy married Sarah Ellen Clements, daughter of James P. Clements and Eliza Jane Allen, on 29 October 1884. Sarah was born and raised in Amherst County. Soon after their marriage, they and several children from Leroy's first marriage, moved to Texas, where the couple had ten children, though one child had died by 1910:
  • James Henly Jennings, born 1886, died 1981, married Mary Hanna Tellaro
  • Leroy Carrington Jennings, born 1888, died 1931, married Alafair "Fairie" Elizabeth Stevens
  • Hilda Lillian Jennings, born 1890, died 1977, married 1) Eldridge Gibbens Stevens, brother of Alafair Stevens, and 2) William Elmer Graham
  • Henry Meriwether Jennings, born 1893, died 1986, married Jennye Lynn Condray
  • Jennie Eliza Jennings, born 1895, died 1977, never married
  • Clarence Jennings, born 1897, died 1980, married 1) Jestine Hunt and 2) Mattie Ladonia "Donie" Webb
  • Bernadine Jennings, born 1899, died 1976, married Lee Summerfield Henry
  • Lucille Jennings, born 1901, died 1987, married 1) Porter Preston Pollard and 2) Angelo Fortuna
  • Leona Velma Jennings, born 1904, died 2003, married Vedder Burdett Watson*
Leroy's younger brother George also moved to Texas sometime before the turn of the century and an uncle, Pleasant Jefferson Jennings, had removed to Walker County, Texas, by 1850. I have been unable to find a 1900 census record for Leroy's family. In 1910, the family lived in Cherokee County off Jacksonville public road on a truck farm he owned free and clear. His sons Henry and Clarence helped with the farm work.

Leroy P. Jennings; photo courtesy of
member buffalo4me

Sometime before Leroy's death on 18 May 1919, he moved his family to Wood County, Texas. He was interred at Cedars Memorial Gardens in Mineola. His widow remained on the family dairy farm until some time before 1930 when she moved to the town of Mineola with her daughter Jennie, who never married. Sarah died on 27 December 1951 and is buried along side her husband.

Leroy P. Jennings veteran headstone; photograph courtesy of Find A Grave
volunteer Cherie J.

Find a Grave volunteer, Zoe, shared Leroy's obituary, which was published in The Tulia Herald on 4 July 1919:

"L. P. Jennings, who died here May 18, was born in Appomattox County, Virginia, November 23, 1841.

He united with the Baptist Church when quite a young man. He fought four years in the Civil War and was wounded five times. He was first married to Isabell M. White on August 10, 1865. To that union, 11 children were born. Two died in infancy and one daughter at the age of 24 years. The first wife died April 12, 1883.

He was married to Miss Sarah E. Clements October 29, 1884 in Amherst, VA and moved to Texas that same year. To this union, ten children were born. Nine are living and were able to be present during his last hours.

The funeral services were held at the residence by Revs. Mr. Gill and Power, after which he was laid to rest in the Mineola Cemetery. The floral tributes were many and beautiful.

He is survived by his widow and 17 children all except three were at his bedside when the end came. They are as follows O. W. [Oscar William] Jennings, Peoria, Ariz.; Mrs. M. E. [Minnie Etta] Henry, Broaddus, Texas; E. W. [Edgar Willis] Jennings, Lufkin, Texas; H. L. [Harry Lee] Jennings, Ontario, Cal.; C. M. [Charles Marion] Jennings, Palestine, Texas; Mrs. R. B. [Rosa Bell] Key, Tulia, Texas; A. H. [Archie Herbert] Jennings, Louisville, Colo.; Mrs. E. H. [Cora Jane] Jennings, Jacksonville, Texas; J. H. [James Henly] Jennings, United States cruiser North Carolina; Mrs. H. L. [Hilda Lillian] Stevens, H. M. [Henry Meriwether] Jennings, Jennie, Clarence, Bernardine, Lucille, and Leona Jennings, all of this city. Several grandchildren.

Mr. Jennings was a member of the Ninth [sic] Virginia Regiment. He enlisted in 1861 in Co. S [sic], 19th Virginia Hunting Brigade, Pickett's Division, Longstreet's Corps. His company was organized at Buffalo Springs, Amherst County, Virginia in the spring of 1861, with Richard Taliferro as captain. From there, he went on to Charlottesville, and on to Centreville, and the Battle of Bull Run was the first he participated in. This was his first fight of the Civil War. Next was the Battle of Williamsburg May 1862, then the Seven Pines. The next fight he was in was the seven days fight around Richmond on July 27. He was at Gaines Mill and in that battle was wounded in the left hip. After being wounded, he was sent home, where he remained for some time. As soon as he sufficiently recovered he went back into the war and his next battle was at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862. He was also in the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the next battle he participated in was the battle that everyone remembers, the bloody fight of three days at Gettysburg. In this battle, Mr. Jennings was wounded in the right chest. He does not remember how long he lay wounded in the field but a long time. He was taken to the hospital where he remained about ten days, and, having been taken prisoner, was carried from there to Baltimore where he stayed for three months. Mr. Jennings came near dying from the wound, the bullet having been cut out of his back.

When he recovered so that he could travel, he was paroled and sent to his home. Mr. Jennings should never have gone back as a prisoner of war, but he did. He joined his command at Gordonsville, and his next fight was the Wilderness. He was there when Grant tried to blow up the Confederates at Petersburg but instead of getting the Confederates he got his own soldiers. He was in the battle of Five Forks and was wounded in the left foot and went home and was home just a few days when Lee surrendered."

I will be writing a more detailed post about Leroy Jennings' Civil War service in the future but the basics of his war service from 19th Virginia Infantry by Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., and Herbert A. Thomas, Jr., are as follows:

Jennings, Leroy P.: age 19, farmer, enlisted at Buffalo Springs on 2 April 1861; promoted from private to 3rd corporal by August 1863; promoted from 3rd corporal to 2nd corporal by October 1863; present until wounded at Gaines Mill on 27 June 1863; returned and was wounded in action and taken prisoner at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863; gun shot wound in right lung; paroled at General Hospital West's Building, Baltimore, Maryland, on  25 September 1863; returned to duty in February 1864; present through August 1864.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme October Birthday or Anniversary.

*Much of the information that has been published about Leroy P. Jennings ancestors and descendants originally came from Leona (Jennings) Watson.