Friday, January 29, 2016

The Vanishing Mr. Hopkins

Richard Joseph Hopkins was born in 1897 in San Francisco, California. According to one of his marriage records, his parents were James Francis Hopkins and Philomena Cecelia Gleason. His father served on two different occasions in the U.S. Army as a musician. His mother's parents had immigrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Ireland sometime before Philomena's birth.

In 1900 Richard and his family lived at 226 -- 23rd Street, which borders the current day Warm Water Cove Park and dead ends at the San Francisco Bay. His father continued to work as a musician. By 1910 Richard's parents had divorced and his mother was married to Charles Hensley, who rented a farm in Cloverdale, California.

On 20 July 1916 Richard enlisted in the 1st U.S. Engineer Battalion. He achieved the rank of sergeant and, like his father, was a musician in the battalion's band. After the United States entered World War I, the battalion was expanded to regimental size and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, participating in the Lorraine and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Engineer units were in charge of repairing the devastation of war to expedite troop movements, providing clean water, constructing or removing barbed wire, and launching gas attacks. Richard was discharged from the Army on 29 January 1920, likely at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky.

Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, Kentucky; image courtesy of Louisville
Historical Society

By 1924 Richard had relocated to Virginia and he married Annie Zeola (Brewer) Hamilton on 20 March 1924 in Fredericksburg. She was the daughter of Joel Alexander and Nancy Elvira (Shipwich) Brewer and had previously been married to a William Hamilton. Their marriage record indicated Richard had also been previously married but I have found no evidence of a first wife.

On 16 January 1928 Richard was admitted to one of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soliders in Hampton, Virginia. His physical description was listed as 5 feet 9-3/4 inches tall with a ruddy complexion and brown eyes and hair. His suffered from an acute gonorrheal infection of the urethra. According to his record he was still married although I imagine his illness did not sit too well with his wife, Zeola, which may have been why he listed his mother as his nearest relative.

National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hampton, Virginia;
postcard courtesy of the Library of Virginia

He was discharged on 1 May 1928 but readmitted on 27 August 1929. By that time he was likely divorced as Zeola had married Frank Gindhart sometime before the 1930 census was enumerated and she was living in Ohio. Richard was discharged from his second stay in the soldiers' home on 8 May 1930.

He married Josephine Nelson Walker on 11 November 1933 in Charlottesville. She was my third cousin once removed and granddaughter of Alexander Miller and Ann Marie Jennings. It was her first marriage but it didn't last long. Josephine received a vinculo divorce decree, or total divorce, from the Corporation Court in Charlottesville on 14 January 1937. She accused Richard of desertion and abandonment and though he contested the case, she prevailed. She had been 16 years old at the time of her marriage, 20 years younger than Richard. Josephine went on to marry two more times before she died in 1973.

Richard Hopkins and Josephine Walker divorce decree; courtesy of

For a long time that divorce record was the last trace of Richard Joseph Hopkins I could find. Now, I believe he lived in Sharon, Pennsylvania, with a woman named Myrtle when the 1940 census was enumerated. Sharon is located 75 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and began as a coal mining town. By the time Richard and Myrtle lived there it had transitioned to steel making and other heavy industry.

While not 100 percent positive this is the correct Richard J. Hopkins, his age is correct; California was listed as his place of birth and his occupation was listed as musician, which are also correct. However, there is a woman named Charlotte Vaughn living in the home, too. She was 98 years old and her relationship was listed as mother. At first I thought she was Richard's mother-in-law, however Myrtle is 36 years, which meant Charlotte would have been 62 years old at the time of her birth.

State Street, Sharon, Pennsylvania; postcard courtesy of Family Old Photos

The best possibility for a death date is a U.S. Social Security Death Index record for a Richard Hopkins, who died in Nov 1968. He applied for Social Security insurance in Pennsylvania and his last benefit check was sent to Olean, New York. I could order his original application using a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request through the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, as he has not been dead for 75 years, his parents' names would redacted from the document. So not any help in proving this is "my" Richard Joseph Hopkins.

Any other thoughts on where or how to find Richard?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Died of Sickness During the Civil War

John William Jennings, Jr., my great great grand uncle, and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Vernon, lived in Amherst County, Virginia, and had eleven known children. Eight of those children were sons and four were old enough to serve in the Confederate States Army (CSA) during the Civil War. Their oldest son, James, served with the Virginia Powhatan Light Artillery Battery. Leroy, served in the 19th Virginia Infantry [1]. Abner enlisted in the 58th Virginia Infantry, and Matthew served with Mosby's Rangers.

Amherst County Historic Marker; photograph courtesy of Way Marking

Abner's war was to be a tragically short war. He was born on 1 May 1844. When the census was enumerated in 1850 Abner lived with his parents and siblings on his parents' farm. The farm was valued at $1,200. It certainly was not the largest farm in the county, but I believe his family was comfortable. The family continued to prosper during the 1850s and in 1860 John Jennings' farm was valued at nearly $10,000. But the country was divided over the "peculiar institution" of slavery and attitudes were hardening on both sides.

On 15 August 1861, 17-year-old Abner Jennings traveled to western part of Amherst county and enlisted in Company I of the 58th Virginia Infantry regiment. When he enlisted at Millner's store, he was made a 4th sergeant. The company entered service on 24 September 1861 and was called Amherst Johnson Guards or Long Mountain Boys. Captain William A. Higginbotham, a prominent farmer in the county, commanded the company. Colonel Edmund Goode, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), command the entire regiment. He had served in the First Battle of Manassas earlier in 1861.[2]

As the ten companies of the regiment gathered in Staunton, many of the men were exposed to childhood diseases such as measles and mumps for the first time. Several fell ill. First Sergeant Edward J. Garrett of Company A wrote about falling ill to his wife: "...I was quite unwell and was going to a private house. I have been closely confined ever since and will have to sit up longer in writing to you than I have since Saturday. I suppose I have Measles simptoms but I have not broke out yet. I do suffer greatly with cough, Headach and pain about my eyes. Sometimes I am perspiring freely and in one minute it is all I can do to keep off a chill and my back & Legs pain me greatly..."

Map of the area where the 58th Virginia Infantry operated during
1861-62; image courtesy of Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation

On 20 October 1861 General Henry R. Jackson, commanding the Confederate forces on the Monterey Line in the Blue Ridge mountains and Shenandoah valley requested reinforcements. The 58th Virginia Infantry, though decimated by sickness and with barely 400 effective soldiers, were sent west to Highland County to support General Jackson. By the end of the month, the regiment had crossed the steep mountains and were camped in tents on along Strait Creek. Lt. Septimus Williams described the camp in a letter to his wife: "...we are quartered here between four large mountains, all in sight and not a mile off. It is considered an important point, as the road from Beverly intersects the Petersburg road leading to Monterey at this place, and all other roads leading into the valley are guarded by our troops except this..."

The weather was cold and sickness continue to ravage the regiment. Eventually they built a winter camp with cabins in a sugar orchard about seven miles west of Monterey on the south branch of the Potomac. The land was mountainous and rocky. They men appreciated the lack of mud. The health of the regiment began to improve after Christmas though it had lost 48 soldiers in 1861 to disease.

A Confederate winter camp in Virginia during the Civil War; courtesy
of Virginia Places

On 28 February 1862 seven companies of the 58th Virginia Infantry were ordered to Huntersville while the remaining three companies were sent to General Johnson on Alleghany Mountain, which is on current day border of Virginia and West Virginia. The weather was bitterly cold. Eventually, the regiment was reunited on Allegheny Mountain in the spring of 1862.

It is likely Abner Jennings was one of many soldiers felled by disease while on the mountain. He last appeared in the regiment's muster rolls in February and died of pneumonia at General Hospital No. 2 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Abner was a month short of his 18th birthday.

[1]I have written extensively about the 19th Virginia Infantry. To read those posts, click on War Stories.

[2]This battle is also known as the First Battle of Bull Run. The U.S. military named battles after a prominent body of water near where the battle occurred. The Confederates tended to name battles after nearby towns.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Worldwide Genealogy: Researching Eastern European Ancestors

My mother's father was born in what is now Zamosty, Ukraine. In 1888, the time of Gustav Lange's birth, Zamosty was part of the Volhynia region of Tsarist Russia. His family apparently moved to Lutsk when he was a young boy as his father died there about 1905.

Zmosty, Ukraine; courtesy of Google Maps

Mom's mother was born in Alberta, Canada, in 1894, though my Schalin great grandparents had immigrated for religious reasons from the Tutschin area of the Volhynia region the year previously. Both of my mother's parents considered themselves German but we have no idea from where in Germany the Lange and Schalin families originated.

Late in 2015 I was contacted by two different people who were related to "my" Lange family. Well, I believe it's obvious I need to stop putting off learning how to research Eastern European ancestors so that is my genealogy goal for 2016. If you have any tips or pointers, please pass them along. Thank you.

Today is my day to contribute my bi-monthly post to Worldwide Genealogy -- a Genealogical Collaboration. I hope you will click over to my post and read more details about my recent Lange contacts and why this line has been such a brick wall for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Tragic Lives of Walter and Marie Hudson

Walter Duvall Hudson was born 29 February 1904 in Amherst County, Virginia, to Benjamin Shelton and Emma Littleton (Dawson) Hudson. He was the fifth of nine known children and my second cousin once removed. He was the grandson of my great grand aunt, Willie Ann Jennings. By 1930 he had moved to Covington, Virginia, and married Marie Iva Layne. They lived at 304 Hazle Street, a home they rented for $7 a month. Walter worked in a paper mill and Marie worked as a bookkeeper in a newspaper office.

On 17 April 1931 Marie died at the C&O Hospital in Clifton Forge of eclampsia, Eclampsia is a disorder which occurs when women are pregnant and includes sometimes violent seizures. Today, many women survive eclampsia, but when Marie was pregnant it was nearly always fatal. If you are a fan of the PBS hit miniseries, Downton Abbey, you will remember this is how the youngest daughter of the Earl of Grantham died. In addition to his wife, Walter lost the twin sons she had been carrying. The two unnamed boys and Marie were interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Covington.

Walter married again on 15 February 1937. His second wife was Hattie Mae Morris, daughter of John Andrew and Le Anna Morris. Walter continued to live at the Hazle Street address and work in the paper mill. Their marriage was destined to a short one.

Walter died the day after Christmas in 1938 at the C&O Hospital in Clifton Forge. He died of a carbuncle on his lip which had become infected. Penicillin had been discovered in 1928 but a way to mass produce it and make the antibiotic readily available for use in treating infections did not occur until 1940. In Walter's lifetime infection was a dreaded event. Walter was interred with his first wife and twin sons.

Headstone of Walter Hudson, his first wife Marie Iva (Layne) and unnamed
stillborn twin sons. Photograph courtesy of Find a Grave volunteer
j stockwell

Hattie Mae (Morris) Hudson died in 1994 at the age of 91. I can find no evidence that she ever married again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Like Brothers Marrying Sisters, but Not Quite

Like siblings, double-first cousins have the same four grandparents. I, myself, have double-first cousins as my father and his brother married sisters. If double-first cousins marry siblings, genetically, it is the same as one set of siblings marrying another set of siblings. And that's what happened in this line of my family tree.

Alma Virginia Drinkard[1] and Vera Virginia Drinkard were one of many sets of double-first cousins in my family tree. However, unlike all the the others, they married brothers.

Brothers married double-first cousins; graph created using Powerpoint

Frank Edward and Alma Virginia (Drinkard) Jennings

Frank Edward Jennings was my second cousin twice removed. He was born on 10 January 1892 in Amherst County, Virginia, to Henry Beasley Jennings, Sr. and Nancy "Nannie" Goode Parks. His father was a farmer. By 1910 Frank's father had sold his farm in Amherst and purchased a new farm in Appomattox County. 18-year-old Frank worked on his father's farm.

Henry Beasley Jennings, Sr., father of Frank Edward and Horace Strubbe
Jennings; courtesy of members higgins162 and jeanrathbone57

He married Alma Virginia Drinkard on 27 November 1915[2]. Alma was the daughter of William Henry and Lizzie (Stone) Drinkard. She grew up in Stonewall, Virginia, on her father's farm. Several Drinkard relatives lived nearby.

Frank and Alma lived in Stonewall until sometime before 1920 where Frank worked on his own farm. When the 1920 census was enumerated Frank and his family lived on 2208 Fifth Street in Lynchburg and Frank worked as a salesman for a lumber yard. By 1930 the family was back in Appomattox County and Frank again owned a farm. Perhaps he lost that farm during the Depression because in 1940, the family lived in Bedford, Virginia, and Frank worked as the foreman for a large farming operation. 

He died on 8 August 1946 in Bedford County, of acute coronary thrombosis and was interred in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. He was 54 years old at the time of his death. Alma moved to Lynchburg after Frank's death and worked as a seamstress to support herself. She died on 23 May 1987 at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond of cardio-respitory arrest, though her usual place of residence was still Lynchburg. She was interred beside her husband. She was 96 years old at the time of her death and had been a widow for 41 years.

Frank and Alma had three children during the course of their marriage. However, one child still lives so I will not list them in this post.

Horace Strubbe and Vera Virginia (Drinkard) Jennings

Horace Strubbe Jennings was born on 12 March 1896 in Amherst County to Henry Beasley Jennings, Sr., and Nancy "Nannie" Goode Parks. He was the youngest of nine children. By the time Horace was required to register for the World War I draft, he lived in Lynchburg and worked for Franklin Cairo Co. as a traveling salesman in Mississippi.

Nancy "Nannie" Goode (Parks) Jennings, mother of Frank Edward and Horace
Strubbe Jennings; courtesy of member higgins162 and jeanrathbone57

He married Vera Virginia Drinkard on 17 January 1920[2]. She was the daughter of Thomas Austin and Lucy Annis (Stone) Drinkard). Like her cousin, Alma, she grew up on her father's farm in Stonewall. The couple made their home at 1014 Clay Street in Lynchburg and Horace worked as a traveling salesman for C. H. Beasley & Brothers, Inc., a wholesale grocer. The company was owned by Charles Henry Beasley, a first cousin of Horace's. Charles' mother was Mary Susan Jennings, a sister of Horace's father.

Horace continued to work for his cousin's company until sometime between 1923 and 1930. By 1930 He and Alma had moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. They lived at 501 East Kingston Avenue and Horace was the secretary-treasurer of the Palmetto Brick Sales Co. He moved to Kendrick Brick & Tile Co. and then became Vice President of Boren Clay Products, a company still operating today.

In the mid 1950s Horace and Vera bought a second home in Mount Holly, North Carolina, along the Catawba River. Mount Holly is about 16 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Horace died on 8 November 1974 at Huntersville Hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, of respiratory failure as a result of tuberculosis from which he suffered for three months. He was interred in Sharon Memorial Park. Vera died on 28 January 1978 in Charlotte and was buried beside her husband.

Horace and Vera had two children during the course of their marriage. Some of those children are still living so I will not list information about them in this post.

[1] Many other public trees list Alma's middle name as Vera. However, the only time her full maiden name was listed was on her daughter's death certificate. All other records list her name as Alma V. Drinkard or Alma V. Jennings.

[2]This information comes from a fellow Jennings researcher, Logan Jennings, and Miller-Duff and Related Families by Marian Miller Duff. I have found no source documents for either marriage.

Friday, January 15, 2016

From the Army to the Ministry?

Often when I am researching a family group -- father, mother, and children -- things fall into place as they should. They are listed in the records you expect for their age, time and place. Every once in a while, however, for one child's life my research may lead to more questions than answers.

Such was the case with Edward S. Dawson, my first cousin twice removed and son of Dudley Dawson and Willie Ann Jennings, who was my great grandfather's half-sister. Edward was born on 22 June 1885 in Amherst County, Virginia, according to his World War I and World War II draft cards. His California death index and Veterans Grave Site records indicate he was born a month later.

By the time Edward was 15 years old, his family had moved to a farm in Bedford County. Willie Ann (Jennings) Dawson died in 1903 when Edward was 18. Four years later, his father married again and moved to Lynchburg.

Edward enlisted in the U.S. Army on 18 January 1909 in Amherst County. It was a fairly unusual thing for a young man to do as the Army at that time was quite small -- only about 200,000 men with approximately 80,000 in National Guard units. His military experience did not last much more than a year as he was discharged on 17 February 1910 at Fort Baynard in Santa Clara, New Mexico, due to some sort of disability.

Fort Baynard, New Mexico, circa 1915; photograph courtesy of USGenWeb

Edward made his way to Danville, Virginia, by April where he was enumerated boarding with Able Ruse and another young person. All three men worked for the Salvation Army. When he registered for the World War I draft registration on 12 September 1918, he lived in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and was an out of work waiter. The only reason I believe this record is correct is that his birth date and place are correct. He listed a son named William as his nearest relative. I believe this William was the William E. Dawson who lived with his aunt and uncle, Benjamin and Emma (Dawson) Hudson in 1920. William was born about 1918 in Virginia so it is likely that his father, Edward went to Pennsylvania after the death of his wife.

I am not entirely sure where Edward was in 1920 or what his occupation may have been. The best possible census record revealed he lived in Washington, District of Columbia, as a boarder in the home of a Baptist minister. The census record also indicated Edward was an evangelical minister and that he was widowed. What gives me pause is whoever spoke to the enumerator said Edward's father was born in Ireland and his mother in England and that she spoke French. None of this is correct and I have been unable to find any trace of who his deceased wife may have been or when and where they married.

Salvation Army workers distributing Christmas baskets in Chicago circa
1903; photograph courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

In 1930 Edward lived at 100 Merle Avenue in Hempstead, New York, in a home he rented for $60. The census record is now correct as to the birth locations of his parents. He had married again to a woman named Anna Bell, who is 24 years younger than Edward. They had a four-year-old son named George, who was born in New Jersey. Edward worked as a clergyman with a missionary organization. This fact leads me to be believe the 1920 census document is for "my" Edward.

I can find no trace of Edward in the 1940 census. In 1942, when Edward may have registered for the World War II draft, he lived in Philadelphia and worked at a snack shop on the corner of 12th and Market Streets. He listed William E. Dawson as the person who would always know where he was. Again, his birth date and location were correct. So I have no idea what happened to his wife, Anna Bell, or his son, George. And I do not have any idea who this William was. Is he the son from Edward's first marriage?

Edward's appearance was described on three military records. While the first two sound like the same person, the third does not really:
  • Army Register of Enlistments, 1910: 5'9" tall, brown eyes, black hair with a ruddy complexion
  • World War I Draft Registration, 1918: Tall, medium build, brown eyes, dark hair
  • World War II Draft Registration, 1942: 5'5" tall, 140 pounds, gray eyes, red hair with a ruddy complexion
I know nothing more about Edward's life until he died 11 July 1965 in San Francisco. He was interred in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

Edward S. Dawson's Headstone with the possibly incorrect month of
birth; photograph courtesy of Find A Grave member Marvin & Samme
Temple via Tom Brocher

Because he moved around so much, I simply have no idea where to look for additional records. My analysis to date of the records I have found which I believe to be related to Edward looks like this:

Analysis of records found for Edward S. Dawson

My questions are:

  • Are all the records I have discovered for the same person or am I tracing portions of the lives of two men named Edward S. Dawson?
  • Who was his first wife?
  • Who was William Dawson, son? Is he the same person as William E. Dawson?
  • What happened to Edward's second wife, Anna Bell, and their son named George?
  • Where was Edward when the 1940 census was enumerated?
  • Why did he leave the ministry?
  • What was he doing in California where he died?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Three Sons Born in One Year...Really?

I have written before about my husband's grandparents. They were all immigrants from eastern Europe. His paternal grandparents considered themselves Lithuanian and his maternal grandparents considered themselves German. However, when great grandfather, Leopold Fishthaler, left to come to the U.S., he lived in the portion of the Austro-Hungarian empire that is now Hungary. When his wife left eight years later, she lived in what is now Novi Sad, Serbia.

I would find a tidbit about each family group about once every five or ten years; learn a little more and that would be it.  Currently, I have eleven possibilities for the spelling of the maiden name of my husband's paternal grandmother, Cecelia. I have settled on Klimasansluski, because her original Social Security application is the only document I have in her own handwriting. Cecelia had as many as thirteen children, including more than one set of twins, according to my oldest sister-in-law. I have been able to find nine to date.

According to the documents I've found, all three of the oldest of Cecelia's sons -- John Joseph, Francis Adam, and Joseph Dagutis -- were born in 1904!

John Joseph's Social Security Applications and Claims Index record, indicated he was born on 27 July 1904 and spelled his surname as Degutis, which is the more common spelling.

Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 for John
Joseph Degutis; courtesy

Francis "Frank" Adam Dagutis was born on 1 August 1904.

Frank Dagutis' original application for a Social Security account; personal

And Joseph Dagutis was born on 3 October 1904.

The application for a headstone completed by Ceceilia Dagutis for her
son, Joseph; courtesy of

It is clear none or some of these records are correct. My thinking at this time is that Frank must have known his own birthday and his birth date is most likely correct. My assumption is Cecelia misremembered Joseph's birth date forty-three years later or got confused during a time of grief. I am also discounting John's birth date as family lore says he ran into a bit of legal trouble when working in a drug store and disappeared for several years. If that is true, changing one's date of birth would be within the realm of possibility. Recently, I discovered an article in the 1925 Daily News that would indicate family lore about an illegal abortion was true.

Mount Carmel Daily News, 21 Feb 1925; courtesy of

According to the 1920 census, 18-year-old John Dagutis worked as a clerk in a drug store. He married Mary Bernadetta (or Bridget) O'Donnell on 21 June 1925. I believe the Peter O'Donnell mentioned in the article is her brother.

After this article, I have not been able to find another record for John Joseph Degutis until his death in 1998.

What do you think about all these 1904 births?

The Onion Layers that Were Cecelia Dagutis

Monday, January 11, 2016

Georgia Salt Manufacturing Company

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. He was also one of the first people in the State of Georgia to foresee a potential for a salt famine during the Civil War.

Salt had been made since ancient times by boiling brine, or saltwater. The first salt mine was not sunk until 1869. One of the major saltworks during the Civil War was located in Saltville, Virginia, which is a town in Washington and Smyth counties, located near large inland salt marshes.

Typical inland salt marsh; photograph by Gary P. Fleming; courtesy of the
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Large furnaces, or boiling facilities were located in Saltville and the principal salt states of the South produced 2,365,000 bushels of salt during the Civil War. It sounds like a lot of salt, but it simply wasn't enough. Insufficient production and the Union blockade of Southern ports made salt and other basic foods extremely expensive. As the war went on, the Union army attacked salt production wherever it found them, from Virginia to Texas. Speculation was rife and several salt manufacturing companies were created during the war, including the Georgia Salt Manufacturing Company, Henry Holcombe Tucker's company. The company was incorporated in 1862:

Georgia General Assembly, House of Representatives Journal

Monday, November 24, 1862

Mr. Bigham, of Troup, ...reported a bill to incorporate a mining company known and designated as the Georgia Salt Manufacturing Company....

By 1863 the company had a contract with the Saltville, Virginia, furnaces for salt, which was to be sent to Georgia. However, the war had so disrupted transportation that it required special legislation and legislative negotiations with railroad companies to get the salt moving.

Boiling brine at the saltworks in Saltville, Virginia, during the Civil War;
image courtesy of VirginiaPlaces

(No. 55)

Report of the Joint Committee on Transportation

Resolved, That the Governor is hereby requested to appoint a commissioner to repair to Richmond with plenary powers, to confer with the President and other officers of the Confederate Government upon subjects touching the providing of supplies for Rail Roads and the regulation of transportation thereon.


Your Committee are informed that there are now at Saltville, Virginia, awaiting shipment to Georgia, as much as 40,000 bushels of salt, the product of the furnaces erected and worked under the contract made by the Hon. John W. Lewis, under the direction of the Planter's Salt Company and the Georgia Salt Company, and that the manufacture of salt for supply in Georgia is daily progressing at that place. The Governor has set apart a train to be sent from Western and Atlantic R. Road to Saltville, to transport the salt to Georgia and carry needful supplies for their furnaces. As the rate of daily production is large, say 1,500 bushels per day, further arrangements so soon as practicable will probably be found necessary. We are informed that some negotiations are pending with intermediate R. Roads, on the subject of transportation. Without proposing to act disrespectfully to the committee on salt supply, we unanimously recommend the following resolutions:

Resolved, That we approve the action of the Governor, in relation to sending a special train, with a good engine and cars to Saltville, for the transportation of salt made under the contract of John W. Lewis and the Planters' Salt Manufacturing Company, and the Georgia Salt Company for supply to Georgia and of taking useful supplies to the furnace making the same. He is further authorized and requested to make all such contracts and arrangement with R. R. companies, as he may deem proper to facilitate transportation and to procure and send other engine, train or trains, as he may deem the exigencies of the work demand, having due regard for other calls for transportation.

Henry Holcombe Tucker wrote several letters to Georgia Governor, Joseph E. Brown, during the Civil War. He was involved with a hospital association, recommended several men to appointed positions, and had strong feelings about taxes. In 1864 he wrote another letter to the governor and was pretty fired up about the Army taking his salt company employees away to serve in the war.

Henry Tucker's letter to Governor Joseph E. Brown regarding
his salt company employees

April 16, 1863

Penfield, Georgia, January 23, 1864

To His Excellency Joseph E. Brown:

A few days ago Your Excellency was pleased to give me a note to the Secretary of War, requesting exemption from military service of the employees of the Salt Company.

Since then all said employees have been enrolled in State service. I am satisfied that the officer had no right to enroll them. I fear we shall be perpetually annoyed if not actually broken up by the interference of petty officials unless we have some prompt means of getting rid of them.

I therefore beg that Your Excellency will order a paper of exemption from State service to be prepared for each of my men and forward the same to me by mail. The following are the names: William A. Overton, Walter A. Overton, Thomas R. Thornton, Barnet Phillips, William A. Beagley, J. J. West, H. F. Mitchell, and ________ Lunsford [?].

I will see that the blank in Lunsford's name is properly filled. Not presuming to dictate, but simply to same time and trouble I have written some papers enclosed herewith, which if Your Excellency will sign, all will be right.

I have the honor to be Your Humble Servant

H. H. Tucker

Present, Georgia Salt Manufacturing Company

I have been unable to discover to date what happened to the company after the war, but this has surely been one of the more interesting side "journeys" I've taken as a family historian. Reading History of Salt by Mark Kurlansky several years ago certainly helped guide my research.

Clashing with the Governor 1860s Style

Friday, January 8, 2016

Farm Hand, Fisherman and Arsonist

Norman David Crain was born on 13 July 1899 in Cornland, Illinois, to David and Beatrice Elnora "Nora" (Turley) Crain. They had been married three years and Norman was their second child. The young family lived on a farm David Crain owned in 1900. David's mother lived with them.

Ten years later David Crain had died and Nora moved with her young boys to East Sharon Township, Illinois. She didn't work and, according to the census, she lived off her own income. By 1918 Norman's brother, Eugene, had married and had a young son. In 1920 Norman lived in Vandalia, Illinois, with his mother and a woman named May, who was listed as Nora's daughter-in-law. Norman worked as a laborer at a paper mill.

In 1921 Nora married Asa Greer and Norman apparently struck out on his own and life got just a little bit interesting. On 27 July 1931 Norman was fishing along the banks of the Kaskaskia river. Nearby two families were having a Sunday afternoon picnic, enjoying the fine weather. Two young girls stepped into the river to go wading. Suddenly they disappeared. One of the fathers plunged into the river and was able to save one girl. Twenty minutes later, Norman recovered the other girl's body.

In 1937 Norman Crain and two other men were indicted on arson charges and bound over for trial. Bail was set at $2,500 for each man. Norman posted bail and was released from jail until his trial. In a signed confession Norman and his accomplice stated that prominent Vandalia farmer, John Howell, bribed them to torch one of his houses. Howell denied the accusation. The two men had failed in two attempts when neighbors rushed to the scene of the fire and doused the flames. For their third attempt Howell supposedly provided gasoline to sprinkle in the attic. This time they were successful. Charges were dropped against the two alleged arsonists after a jury found John Howell not guilty.

24 November 1937 Decatur Review; courtesy of

In 1940 Norman lived with a woman enumerated in the census as his wife named Frances Crain and worked as a laborer for the Works Progress Administration. Frances was born Fannie Wilburn Woods on 12 April 1888 in Giles County, Virginia. She had married Roy Edward Tinsley in 1908 and they had three daughters before moving to Ohio and then to Illinois, following construction work where Roy operated a crane. Sometime after 1933 he abandoned his family, leaving for work one day and never returning.

In 1958 Norman's brother, committed suicide. It was believed he was despondent over the death of his wife a few month's before following a long illness. Eugene left a large estate of over $100,000 and apparently changed his will not long before his death. In it he left everything to his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Norman and his mother, Nora, filed suit seeking to overturn the will. They claimed that Eugene was not of a sound mind when he changed the will. Their lawsuit did not prevail.

Norman suffered a heart attack while shopping at Montgomery Ward in Pana, Illinois, on 22 December 1960. He was declared dead on arrival when the ambulance arrived at the local hospital. His mother survived him and made clear in his obituary that he had never married.

Norman David Crain obituary; courtesy of
member loisbranch

Norman and Frances did not remain together and Frances eventually moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, to be near one of her daughters. She died in 1972. I am not related to anyone in this story, but am connected in a slight way to Fannie Wilburn (Woods) Tinsley. Her husband, and the father of her three children, had married my second cousin twice removed, Connie A Padgett, in 1899. They had a daughter named Annie before Roy Edward Tinsley disappeared.

The Padgett family. Connie is standing in the back row fourth from the
left; courtesy of

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Benjamin Jennings and the Eastern State Hospital

Benjamin T. Jennings was born on 20 February 1853 in Powhatan County, Virginia, to Benjamin and Julia Ann (Faudree) Jennings. He was the great grandson of Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815), Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) patriot and my Jennings brick wall. Benjamin T. was the oldest of eleven children and his father was a farmer.

In 1870 Benjamin was enumerated twice. On 25 July, he lived at home and attended school. On 5 August, he was at The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane or Disordered Minds, in Williamsburg. It was established in 1773 and was the first mental hospital established in the colonies.

Eastern State Hospital, as the facility is now named as it looked in the 19th
century; image courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

On the 1870 census document, Benjamin was listed as insane. The column about his right to vote being denied or abridged on other grounds than rebellion or crime was also checked even though he was not yet 21 years of age.

In 1880, Benjamin was back in Powhatan County. His occupation was listed as farmer and he lived at home with his parents and some of his siblings. He was also enumerated that year in the supplemental schedule for defective, dependent and delinquent classes. He had mania and had first exhibited symptoms of mental illness at the age of 14. He'd had two previous episodes and his present one had lasted six months. He occasionally needed to be restrained with handcuffs!

His mother died in 1883 and his father in 1892. Apparently, his siblings were unable to cope with Benjamin's illness because he was back at the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg in 1900 where he remained an "inmate," or patient until his death on 9 February 1916 of appendicitis. His death certificate indicated he had been committed almost 16 years previously.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Confusing Life of Elspeth Jennings

Elspeth Jennings was born on 31 October 1895 in Norfolk, Virginia, to Edward Winston and Annie M. (Porter) Jennings. Her father worked with sheet metal at the Norfolk Naval Base. She was the second of two children, a granddaughter of Daniel Rose Jennings, who fought in the Civil War, and my third cousin once removed.

On 13 February 1913 Elspeth married Job Palmer Manning, Jr., son of Job Palmer and Ada (Cocke) Manning, Sr. He had been born on 18 June 1897 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and worked as a routing clerk for a railroad. The couple had three children. Elspeth was granted a divorce on 26 June 1920 for desertion. The decree stated there were three minor children. However, I have only been able to find two of them. Mystery No. 1.

The decree listed Job Palmer Manning, Jr., as a non-resident, which meant he no longer lived in Virginia. I have been unable to find a trace of him after the divorce. Mystery No. 2.

Divorce decree between Job Palmer Manning, Jr., and Elspeth Jennings;
courtesy of

Elspeth's father died four months before her divorce was granted. His death certificate indicated he was married at the time of his death but his son was the informant. I have been unable to find a record of Annie (Porter) Jennings' death or any record after 1922, when she was listed in a Norfolk city directory as a widow. Mystery No. 3.

Snippet of Annie (Porter) Jennings' life story; courtesy of

Sometime before 4 September 1930, I assume Elspeth married Alfred "Fred" Brodix Simmons as she had twin daughters in Evanston, Illinois, yet I have been unable to find her in the 1930 census. The person I believe to be her husband, Alfred B. Simmons was enumerated in Los Angeles, California, as living at the Palmer Hotel with a wife named Floy, who was born in Illinois. This Alfred B. Simmons has the correct year of birth, correct birth state, correct birth state for his parents, and a correct occupation. Mystery No. 4.

Snippet of Alfred Brodix Simmons life story; courtesy of

Alfred Brodix Simmons was a interesting man in his own right. He was born on 9 Mar 1895 to Henry "Harry" Taylor and Caroline "Carrie" (Brodix) Simmons in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a mariner employed by China Mail aboard the S/S China. Starting in 1917, he lived in San Francisco and worked for his brothers's import export business. He made several trips to Japan, China, Hong Kong, French Indonesia, and India during that time.

Alfred Brodix Simmons' 1917 and 1920 passport photographs; courtesy of

After Alfred and Elspeth married they moved to Danville, Indiana, where he worked as an organizer in the insurance industry -- whatever that is. Elspeth traveled to Australia in 1939 to help her oldest daughter and two granddaughters move back to the United States after her husband was killed piloting a transport plane. By 1942 Alfred and Elspeth lived in Philadelphia and he worked for Empire Ordnance. They moved to Atlanta, Georgia, by 1950. He was the president of Simmons Pump. Five years later, he worked as a salesman at Ethridge & Vannerman Realty.

Alfred died on 21 August 1967 in Fulton County, Georgia; he was 72 years old. Elspeth (Jennings) Manning Palmer died on 4 February 1973 in Baldwin County, Georgia; she was 77 years old.

So my mysteries for Elspeth are as follows:
  1. What was the name of the third child she had with Job Palmer Manning, Jr.? There is no missing sibling in the obituaries of two of Elspeth's daughters.
  2. What happened to Job Palmer Manning, Jr., after his 1920 divorce? And where was he living at the time of the divorce?
  3. What happened to Elspeth's mother, Annie (Porter) Jennings after 1922? Did she remarry? 
  4. Was Alfred married to a woman named Floy months before he and Elspeth's twins were born? When did Alfred and Elspeth marry?
Inquiring minds want to know!