Monday, October 31, 2016

Killed by Al Capone's Hitman

Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Charles H. Skalay was born on 3 May 1904 in Bainbridge Township, Michigan, to Gustav Skalay (born Skale) and Mary Schultz. Charles was the grandson of Anna Eleonore (Schalin) Skale. By 1910 Charles and his family lived at 1121 Lavette Avenue in Benton Harbor. His father worked on a construction gang building sidewalks and his mother worked on their small fruit farm. On 21 November 1919, Charles' mother died giving birth to a premature baby girl leaving his father, Gustav, with eight small children.[1] Charles dropped out of school to help his father around the house.

When the 1920 census was enumerated, Charles, his father, and siblings lived on a fruit farm in Benton Township, which was owned by his father. Charles was 16 years old. According to Chriss Lyon, author of A Killing in Capone's Playground, Charles started working as a driver for the Yellow Cab Company in 1923. He joined the St. Joseph Police Department and changed the spelling of his surname to Skelly, which was more Americanized than Skalay.[2] He moved to an apartment on State Street in downtown St. Joseph. After the St. Joseph Fire Department became a paid department instead of staffed only with volunteers, Charles took the newly created Assistant Fire Chief position, beginning work on 6 March 1928. Charles returned to the St. Joseph Police Department in June 1929 as a motorcycle officer. The department had recently been expanded due to ever-increasing crime brought about by the illegal production of alcohol during Prohibition. Berrien County had also become a popular retreat for several members of the Chicago mafia.

On the evening of 14 December 1929 the worlds of Charles H. Skalay and Berrien County's reputation as Al Capone's Playground collided in terrible fashion.

The headlines of the Extra edition published by the News-Palladium on the
morning of 16 December 1929; image courtesy of

Charles H. Skalay was shot multiple times and died from those wounds while on traffic duty. His murderer was a hitman for Al Capone known as Fred "Killer" Burke. He was also one of the shooters during the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.

Fred "Killer" Burke; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Burke was arrested at a small farm house on 26 March 1931 in Sullivan County, Missouri. Police learned of his location from a tip by a resident who read detective magazines. Missouri Governor Henry Caufield, signed the extradition orders a two days later, releasing Burke to officers from the Berrien County Sheriff's Department. Though Burke was wanted for murder in several jurisdictions, Berrien County was the first to have made a formal application to the governor.

Fred Burke pled guilty to the second degree murder of patrolman Charles Skalay and was sentenced to life in prison by the circuit court judge who tried the case. He served his sentence in Marquette State Penitentiary until he died of a massive heart attack on 10 July 1940.

From the Berrien County Sheriff's Office website, which was excerpted by Chriss Lyon:

"Berrien County hasn't forgotten the impact of Fred "Killer" Burke and Officer Charles Skelly both played in its history. The arsenal of weaponry found at the Burke residence, specifically the Thompson submachine guns, have become the ever-popular topic of magazine articles and television documentaries including the 2004 episode of History Detectives on PBS, and a 2012 documentary on the National Geographic Channel called 'Valentine's Day Massacre.'

Not far from where Officer Skelly lost his life stands the Berrien County Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Monument. Presently on the monument are the names of 15 fallen officers, including that of Officer Charles Skelly. His body was laid to rest in Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor, while his name is etched into the history of Berrien County and the entire nation."

Charles H. Skalay (memorial on the Officer Down Memorial website)

I will be telling the story of Charles H. Skalay's murder in more detail in future blog posts.

[1] The premature baby girl was named Helen Skalay. She died on 6 December 1919 at the Michigan Children's Home Association; she was 15 days old.

[2] The family's surname was actually Skale. Skalay was the phonetic spelling which the family adopted when they immigrated to Michigan.

DNA Discoveries: Finding Anna Eleonore (Schalin) Skale (or Skalay)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Finding "Speedy" -- My Sister-in-Law's Maternal Grandmother

After I took over our family history research from my father, I became curious about the ancestry of my sisters-in-law. One sent me the birth dates and locations for her parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles, which she got from her father. After entering that information into my family tree, I was able to do some online research and got this far:

My sister-in-law's pedigree chart after I had researched the information given
to me about her parents; image courtesy of and edited by me

The difficulties with her father's ancestors were easy to explain as his grandparents were immigrants from parts of Europe difficult to research online. What was troubling was my inability to learn anything about the parents of her grandmother, Jessie "Donna" Speedy (McKloshum) Monnier. The only records I had were the 1940 U.S. federal census and her Find A Grave memorial.

I decided to research Donna, who I affectionately call Speedy again to see if I would learn anything new. Neither record included her maiden name, but the census record indicated her father was born in Australia and her mother in Scotland. Helpful information later when verifying I had the correct records, but of no immediate help. Donna had four children so my next step was to review what I knew about them. And an obituary held a big clue. Donna's maiden name was listed as McGlashin, not McKloshum, as I had previously entered into my database. Close but not entirely correct. Donna's maiden name was actually McGlashan.

With the correct maiden, I quickly found several records, the first being a marriage index for a William J. J. Mcglashan and Mary Elen M. Speedie.[1] With these names I quickly found more census records, passenger lists, and birth registrations. However, I was chasing the wrong Mary Speedie/Speedy, which I should realized when I saw her birth city on her passenger manifest. Communicating with a DNA match with a private tree quickly got me sorted out.
A few days of research on ScotlandsPeople and the New South Wales Registry, my sister-in-law's pedigree chart looks a bit better.

My sister-in-law's pedigree hart after figuring out the correct spelling of her
maternal grandmother's maiden name; image courtesy of and
edited by me

I believe I'll have better luck processing her DNA test results now.

A huge shout-out to the wife of my sister-in-law's DNA match, who shared her private tree with me. 

[1] Helen and Ellen were often interchangeable in Scotland during this period.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Slave of James O. Taylor

James O. Taylor was born in 1825 in Virginia. He married my sister-in-law's four times great aunt, Mary Ann Z. Tucker, and died on 10 September 1860 in Terrell County, Georgia. He wrote his will on 20 August 1860 less than a month before he died.

State of Georgia
Terrell County

In the name of God, amen. I James O. Taylor of said State and County knowing that I must shortly depart this life I deem it right and proper both as regards my family and myself that I should make a disposition of the property with which a kind Provider has blessed me, therefore make this my last will and testament hereby revoking all others heretofore made by me.

Item the first. I desire and direct that all my just debts be paid without delay by my Executors herein after appointed.

Item the second. I give and bequeath and devise to my beloved wife, Mary Z., all my property both real and personal including everything which I may be possessed of during her lifetime provided she does not marry and if she marries she can keep it all by her and her husband giving bond with good security for the forthcoming of said property at her death to be disposed of as herein directed. Never [illegible] she can [illegible] said property or a sufficiency of it so far as her own comfort and necessity may require.

Item the third. I devise and direct that my negro boy WILLIE, about ten years old, be sold by my Executors after my wife, Mary Ann's death and equally divided between Martha M. Tucker and Lucy A. Tucker[1].

Item the forth. I desire and direct that Elijah Tucker[2], son of John H. Tucker, have fifty dollars out of my estate.

Item the fifth. I desire and direct that if my wife should have a child or children by a future husband then and in that case said child or children shall come in and share as follows --

Will of James O. Taylor; image courtesy of

Item the sixth. I desire and direct that after my wife, Mary Ann Z., breech or on failure of her and her future husband giving bond and security as required in the second Item that then all my property then remaining be sold by my Executors and divided and divided as follows: I desire and direct that Jesse Tucker and John Tucker sons of Thomas Tucker and my sister Frances Morris Samuel Morris Johnston Morris Robert Morris William Morris and such children as my wife Mary Ann Z. may have by any future husband, shall share thus, the said Jesse Tucker and John Tucker shall have two thirds of said estate and my sister Frances Morris six youngest children as above named to have one third of my estate to be equally divided amongst said youngest six children provided my wife has no children but if she has child or children then they come in and receive and equal share with said Jesse and John and my sister Frances Morris six children as aforesaid the said six children standing as one heir or legatee.

Item the seventh. I desire and direct that if my wife Mary Ann Z. should marry and fail to give bond and security as required in the second Item, the the heirs or legatees which I have willed my property to shall give bond and security to my said wife to furnish her with such an amount or property or money as she may choose as will make her reasonably comfortable during her life. All the said legatees to furnish her with equal in proportions to what they receive from said estate.

Item the eighth. I desire and direct that if either Jesse Tucker or John Tucker should die without [illegible] or a wife then the property shall be divided amongst the other legatees in proportion as I have willed my estate.

Item the ninth. I hereby constitute and appoint my beloved wife Mary Ann Z. Execturix and my worthy friend Jesse Tucker John Tucker and Samuel Morris Executors of this my last will and testament and if the said Samuel Morris should die before executing this will then I hereby appoint the next oldest of his brothers which may then be living this 20th day of August 1860.

James O. Taylor

Signed sealed declared published by James O. Taylor as his last will and testament in the presence of us the said scribers who subscribed our names hereto in the presence of said Testator at his special insistence and request and of each other this August 20th 1860.

R. C. Martin
Chas. E. Hayner
Samuel Denton [illegible initials]

Recorded 15th day of October 1860.

[illegible signature]
Ordinary Terrell County

[1] Martha M. Tucker (born about 1847) and Lucy Ann Tucker (1850-1888)were sisters of James' wife, Mary Ann Z. Tucker. 
[2] Elijah Washington Tucker (1857-1936), nephew of James O. Taylor.

Slave Name Roll Project

Monday, October 24, 2016

DNA Discoveries: Who Was Ernestine "Stina"?

In the ongoing, never-ending quest to learn more about my mother's ancestors, she graciously provided a sample for DNA testing less than a year before her death in 2014. When the results were available, the only matches she had that were not very distant cousins were her three children. Since her death, six of my eleven maternal first cousins have tested and another million people have had their DNA at Ancestry. So Mom's match list continues to grow.

Many of my maternal relatives share several matches with people who had a woman named Ernstine "Stina" (Seler) Beich in their family trees. Stina was married to Carl August Beich (1846-1927). Both had been born in what is now Poland and consistently listed their place of birth as Poland or Russia (the borders were ever changing). They considered themselves to be German. Stina or her husband must be related to my Mother and other Lange-Schalin relatives. So I gathered all the information from source documents I could find.

Carl August Beich and Ernestine "Stina" (Zander) Beich;
courtesy of Ancestry member racarroll1

I believe Ernestine to be the youngest child of Johann Gottfried Zander and his wife Anna Susanna Wilde. They were my three times great grandparents as I descend from their daughter Juliane Zander (about 1835-1906), who married Gottlieb Schalin. 

Willamette Valley Death Records; courtesy of

Ernestine was born in 1846, married and had eight children before she and her family immigrated to Canada in 1893. Carl August Beich and two of the older children, Gustav and Pauline, arrived in Baltimore on 3 June aboard the S/S Weimar. The ship's previous port of call was Bremen, Germany. Stina followed on 10 October aboard the S/S Stubbenhuk.[1] With her were her children, Edward, Adolf, Rudolf, and Hulda. Only two children remained in Russia, their oldest daughter, Amalie "Mollie," who had recently married Heinrich "Henry" Konkel, and their son Julius, who was 11 years old.

Carl Beich returned to Russia in 1899 and returned aboard the S/S Tave with their son Julius, daughter Mollie, her husband, and their three oldest children. They arrived in New York City on 27 April 1899. When the 1900 census was enumerated, Stina, Carl, and their four youngest children lived in Caledonia Township, Wisconsin, where Carl owned a farm. Their son, Julius, also worked on the family farm.

On 17 November 1908 Rudolf, homesteaded land in Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada. Two years before, he had homesteaded another piece of land but abandoned it because the land "wasn't was good represented to me." By 1916 Stina and Carl lived in Bruderheim. None of their children lived with them and Carl's occupation was listed as retired farmer.

Declaration of Abandonment for Rudolf Beich; courtesy of

Stina and Carl traveled to Salem, Oregon, several times in their later years to visit their children who lived there. Perhaps it was on a similar trip that Ernstine (Zander) Beich died as her death occurred on 20 August 1917 in Salem. She was interred in the Lee Mission Cemetery.

Carl continued to live in Bruderheim and traveled to see his children in Wisconsin. He died on 11 October 1927 in Merrimac, Wisconsin and was interred in St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery.

Their children:
  1. Amalie "Mollie" Beich born 1871; died 25 October 1945; married Heinrich "Henry" Rudolf Konkel
  2. Gustav Beich born 1874; died 1964; married Anna Behnke
  3. Pauline Beich born about 1877; died 1908
  4. Eduard or Edward Beich born about 1881; died before 1900
  5. Julius Beich born 31 December 1882; died 4 March 1959; married Ida A. Messer
  6. Adolf or Adolph Beich born 12 January 1886; died September 1962; married Grace Staudenmayer
  7. Rudolf or Rudolph Beich born 20 February 1887; 23 March 1972; married Anna Krause
  8. Hulda Beich born 18 December 1891; died 19 June 1973; married 1) Charles Edward Haughey and 2) Samuel Edward Alexander
Solving Stina's correct surname and her parents connected my Mother, siblings, cousins, and me to nine new cousins!

[1] Some of my Schalin family and their fellow church members immigrated to Canada on the S/S Stubbenhuk the same year.

Friday, October 21, 2016

More Cross-Grained Woman Stories

I first introduced you to Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart, a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) patriot, last week. Today, I'd like to relate a few more stories about Nancy during the war, which I found in a book entitled Historical Collections of Georgia by Rev. George White and published in 1855.

"The compiler of this work, during a visit to Elbert, was introduced to Mrs. Wyche, a lady far advanced in years, who was on terms of intimacy with Mrs. Hart. From her he received many anecdotes, among which are the following:

On one occasion, when information as to what was transpiring on the 'Carolina side of the river was anxiously desired by the troups on the Georgia side, no one could be induced to cross the river to obtain it. Nancy promptly offered to discharge the perilous duty. Alone, the dauntless heroine made her way to the Savannah River; but finding no mode of transport across, she procured a few logs, and , tying them together with a grape-vine, constructed a raft, upon which she crossed, obtained the desired intelligence, returned, and communicated it to the George troops.

Replica of the Hart cabin with chimney stones from the original cabin;
image courtesy of New Georgia Encyclopedia

On another occasion, having met a Tory on the road, and entering into conversation with him, so as to divert his attention, she seized his gun, and declared that unless he immediately took up the line of march for a fort not far distant, she would shoot him. The dastard was so intimidated, that he actually walked before the brave woman, who delivered him to the commander of the American fort.

Nancy, with several other women and a number of small children, were once left in a fort, the men having gone some distance, probably for provisions, when the fort was attacked by a party of Tories and savages. At this critical period, when fear had seized the women and children, to such an extent as to produce an exhibition of indescribable confusion, Mrs. Hart called into action all the energies of her nature. In the fort there was one cannon, and our heroine, after endeavoring in vain to place it in a position so that its fire could reach the enemy, looked about for aid, and discovered a young man hid under a cow-hide; she immediately drew him from his retreat, and threatened him with immediate death unless he instantly assisted her with the cannon. The young man, who well knew that Nancy would carry her threats into execution unless he obeyed, gave her his assistance, and she fired the cannon, which so frightened the enemy that they took to their heels.

Once more, when Augusta was in possession of the British, the American troops in Wilkes, then under the command of Colonel Elijah Clarke, were very anxious to know something of the intentions of the British. Nancy assumed the garments of a man, pushed on to Augusta, went boldly into the British camp, pretending to be crazy, and by this means was enabled to obtain much useful information, which she hastened to lay before the commander, Colonel Clarke.

Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart (1747-1840: A Cross-Grained Woman

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tragedy Strikes Daughters of Sara Woodfin

Sara Ellen (or Ella) Woodfin was born on 29 August 1902 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, to George Allen Woodfin and Nancy "Nannie" Waddell Dillon. Her father worked in the mechanical shops for a railroad. She married Carlos Scott Blankenship on 25 November 1919 in Chester, Virginia. He was a carpenter who had been born in Christian, West Virginia. During the course of their marriage, they had nine known children.

On 30 May 1940 Carlos abandoned his family and on 29 March 1943 the Chesterfield Circuit Court granted Sara an absolute divorce. Sara married again on 30 September of that same year and died on 14 November 1994 in Chesterfield County.

Two of her daughters experienced great tragedy in their lives.

Virginia Fay Blankenship was the eldest child of Carlos and Sara. She was born on 4 November 1921 in Chesterfield County. She married Ralph Vincent (or Vinson) Lewis in 1940. They were married about a year when Ralph and his brother, Ed, Ed's wife, and Ralph and Ed's mother were traveling in their car when it was struck by a speeding vehicle. Ralph was taken to Petersburg Hospital where he clung to life for five or six hours before succumbing to his injuries. Virginia and Ralph had a daughter and Virginia was pregnant with their second child when Ralph was killed.

On 10 June 1944 Virginia married Ernest Frank Mackey, a sailor in the U.S. Navy. If possible, this marriage was shorter than Virginia's first. On 27 June 1946 Virginia was granted an absolute divorce because Ernest had deserted the marriage the day after the wedding ceremony!

Ernest Frank Mackey and Virginia Fay Blankenship divorce decree; courtesy

A younger sister of Virginia's married Maxie Chaltain Martin on 2 January 1949 in Chesterfield County. They were married 10 years when Maxie went duck hunting with three other men on 25 November 1959. Their boat disappeared and Maxie's body was discovered the next day.

Death certificate of Maxie Chaltain Martin; courtesy of

I am frequently struck how often one family group will experience a cluster of tragedies.

Monday, October 17, 2016

DNA Discoveries: Finding Anna Eleonore (Schalin) Skale (or Skalay)

I first learned about Eleonore Schalin in a book by Lucille (Fillenberg) Effa entitled Our Schalin Family, 1770-2003. She was the youngest of eight known children of Johann "Samuel" Schalin and Anna Dorothea Rosno or Rosnian, who were my three times great grandparents. Eleonore was born in Maliniec, Kolo, Wilkopolskie, Poland on 9 February 1844. She married Gottlieb Skale in 1860 in Zhytomyr, Zhytomyr, Ukraine.

The Master Pedigree Database maintained by the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE), included information about that marriage and three known children:
  1. Anna Justine Skale born 4 June 1866
  2. Gustav Skale born 1 Sepember 1879 in Kostopil, Rivne, Ukraine (in the colony of Maschtscha/Marzelinhof)
  3. Henriette Skale born 3 January 1885 in Kostophil, Rivne, Ukraine (in the colony of Maschtscha/Marzelinhof)
What I learned through one of Mom's DNA matches was there was at least one other child: William (probably born Wilhelm) E. Skale.

Eleonore (Schalin) Skale in family tree of a DNA match; image courtesy of

After a lot of research, I was able to prove that Eleonore Schalin and Anna Lenore Schalin were the same person. 

Eleonore (Schalin) Skale first appeared in U.S. records as Annie Skaley and lived with her son William E. Skaley and his family at 1135 Broadway in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Annie said she immigrated in 1900 and had two children who were still living. (This is the only bit of information that gives me pause.) She died on 23 March 1913 of organic heart failure at her son's home and was interred at Crystal Springs Cemetery in the same city. Her daughter, Henriette (Skale/Skaley) Hoffman was the informant on her death certificate. 

1910 U.S. Federal Census for the William E. Skaley family, including his
mother; image courtesy of

I have not found the passenger manifests for Anna Eleonore (Schalin) Skaley or her children Anna Justine, Gustav, or Henriette. In fact I have found no trace of Anna Justine except for her entry in the SGGEE master pedigree database. Perhaps she died young. I believe Gottleib Skale was likely deceased when his wife immigrated to the U.S. 

Gottlieb and Anna Eleonore (Schalin) Skale's children:
  1. Anna Justine Skale
  2. Gustav Skale (also known as Gustav Skalay or Skaley) born 1 Septement 1879 in Kostopil, Rivne, Ukraine; died 19 March 1939 in Benton Harbor; married 1) Mary Schultz about 1902 and 2) Bertha (Krause) Schonert on 31 March 1923 in St. Joseph, Michigan. He and Mary had eight known children.
  3. Wilhelm Skale (also known as William E. Skalay) born 17 May 1882; died 30 Jun 1959 in St. Joseph; married Paulina Tober on 5 May 1903 in Bainbridge, Michigan. They had eight known children.
  4. Henriette Skale (also known as Henrietta "Hattie" Skalay) born 3 Jan 1885 in Kostopil, Rivne, Ukraine; died on an unknown date[1]; married Rudolph Leopold Hoffman on 23 December 1905 in St. Joseph. They had eight known children. Leopold died in 1960 and I suspect Henrietta married again and was interred with that husband, which may explain why there is no death date for her on Leopold's headstone. She filed a life claim in November 1960 with the Social Security Administration a few months after her husband died and listed her birth date as 1 January 1887, which is different than the date listed in the SGGEE database. 
The death certificates for Gustav and Wilhelm/William list some version of Schalin as their mother's maiden name. Neither informant knew the name of their father, which I believe supports my theory that he died when they were young and still living in what was then Russia. However, both of their marriage registrations listed Gottlieb Skale (or some version) as their father.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Meningitis Epidemic Kills Soldier

Charlie H. Chandler was born on 4 November 1883 in Owsley County, Kentucky, to William F. Chandler and Lavina "Vinnie" Baker. He first appeared in documents when the 1900 census was enumerated living with his parents and six siblings on the family farm which his father owned in the Cow Creek precinct of the county. His mother had eleven children by that time and eight were still living. In 1910 Charlie was 26 years old and continued to live with his parents and siblings on the family farm. He worked on other farms as a laborer.

In late 1911 he marred Nellie Banks, the daughter of Lansford "Lance" Banks and Harriet Delither Hunter, and my cousin's husband's first cousin twice removed. On 4 January 1912 Charlie enlisted in the U.S. He was described in the enlistment register as being 5 foot 9-1/2 inches tall with brown hair and eyes. He was assigned to Company L, 4th Infantry. Eight months after he enlisted his wife, Nellie, had their only child, Oma Mae Chandler born on 17 August 1912.

Trouble with Mexico caused the regiment to be stationed at the border. On 1 January 1914 they were transferred to Galveston and assigned to 5th Brigade, 2nd Division which had been in Galveston for nearly a year. On 24 April 1914 Charlie's regiment boarded USAT Sumter bound for Veracruz, Mexico. They arrived on 28 April and relieved Navy occupation forces. The soldiers camped at Los Cocos Station.

Charlie, and perhaps his entire regiment was back in Galveston by late 1914. He died on 4 December at the Port of Embarkation Hospital of cerebrospinal meningitis. According to his death certificate it was an epidemic among the Army soldiers. A history of the Public Health Service in Texas confirmed there had been a meningitis epidemic in the city during the war.

Charlie H. Chandler Death Certificate; courtesy of

Meningitis may be caused by bacteria or a virus, but I have to wonder if Galveston was a healthy place. "The city built its first sewer in 1899 with a central pumping station that pushed the sewage across the bayous. There it was forced through filter beds nearly five miles outside of town. The heavy matter stayed in the beds until workmen with rakes removed it. The remaining sewage was filtered through various layers and the final effluent entered Buffalo Bayou via an open canal." Six years later, in 1915, the year after Charlie died, the sewer "filters were only processing half the city's waste and the system was not working properly."[1] That sounded like a breeding ground for bacteria!

Charlie's widow applied for a military pension on 24 December 1914. She continued to receive it until she married again. Beginning on 18 August 1917 Charlie's mother received his pension and on 11 July 1921 his daughter Oma Mae got the pension. I wonder if Charlie ever had the opportunity to meet her.

[1] Margaret Swet Henson (preparer). History of Galveston Resource Utilization, publication GBNEP-39, January 1993.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart (1747-1840): A "Cross-Grained" Woman

Thomas Rice, my seven times great grandfather, was "an early adventurer into Virginia," likely arriving in 1679. His daughter, Susannah Rice, married Thomas Hart in 1719. They had at least two children:  Keziah Ann Hart, who married William Gooch, and is an ancestor of Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, author of Everyone has a Story; and Benjamin Hart, who married Nancy Ann Morgan.

Benjamin was born in 1732 in Hanover County, Virginia, and migrated south was a young man. He married Nancy Ann Morgan in 1760 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Thomas Morgan and Rebecca Alexander.

Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart; courtesy of Ancestry
member robertfhalejr

Benjamin Hart moved his family to Georgia between 1763 and 1776. They lived near a creek in what is now Elbert County. It acquired the name War Woman's Creek during the Revolutionary War because of the heroic deeds of Nancy Hart, who was known among the Native Americans of that area as War Woman.[1]

The book, Historical Collections of Georgia, by Rev. George White and published in 1855,  included a sketch of Nancy and described several of her exploits. I'd like to share one, which was first published in the Yorkville Pioneer:

"Nancy Hart and her husband settled before the Revolutionary War a few miles above a ford in the Broad River, in Elbert County, Georgia. An apple orchard still remains on this spot.

In altitude Mrs. Hart was a Patagonian, and remarkably well-limbed and muscular. In a word she was 'lofty and sour.' Marked by nature with prominent features, circumstances and accident added, perhaps, not a little to peculiarities. She was horribly cross-eyed, as well as cross-grained; but, nevertheless, she was sharp-shooter. Nothing was more common than to see her in full pursuit of a bounding stag. The huge antlers that hung around cabin, or upheld her trusty gun, gave proof of her skill in gunnery; and the white comb, drained of its honey and hung up for ornament, testified to her powers in bee-finding.

Many can testify to her magical art in the mazes of cookery -- being able to get up a pumpkin in as many forms as there are days in the week. She was extensively known and employed for her profound knowledge in the management of all ailments.

But she was most remarkable for her military feats. She professed high-toned ideas of liberty. Not even the marriage knot could restrain her on that subject. Like the 'wife of Bath,' she received over her tongue-scourged husband

The reins of absolute command,
With all the government of house and land,
And empire o'er his tongue, and o'er his hand.

The clouds of war gathered, and burst with a dreadful explosion in this State. Nancy's spirit rose with the tempest. She declared and proved herself a friend to her country, ready 'to do or die.'

All accused of Whiggism had to hide or swing. The lily-livered Mr. Hart was not the last to seek safety in the cane-brake with his neighbors. They kept up a prowling, skulking kind of life, occasionally sallying forth in a sort of predatory style. The Tories at length however, gave Mrs. Hart a call, and in true soldier manner ordered a repast. Nancy soon had the necessary materials for a good feast spread before them. The smoking venison, the hasty[sic] hoe-cake, and the fresh honeycomb, were sufficient to have provoked the appetite of a gorged epicure! They simultaneously stacked their arms and seated themselves, when, quick as thought, the dauntless Nancy seized one of the guns, cocked it, and with a blazing oath declared she would blow out the brains of the first mortal that offered to rise, or taste a mouthful! They all knew her character too well to imagine that she would say one thing and do another.

An engraving from Historical Collections of Georgia by Rev. George White

'Go,' said she to one of her sons, 'and tell the Whigs that I have taken six base Tories.' They sat still, each expecting to be offered up, with doggedly mean countenances, bearing the marks of disappointed revenge, shame, and unappeased hunger.

Whether the incongruity between Nancy's eyes caused each to imagine himself her immediate object, or whether her commanding attitude, stern and ferocious fixture of countenance, overawed them; or the powerful idea of their non-soldierlike conduct unnerved them; or the certainty of death, it is not easy to determine. They were soon relived, and dealt with according to the rules of the times.

This heroine lived to see her country free. She, however, found game and bees decreasing, and the country becoming old so fast, that she sold out her possessions, in spite of remonstrances of her husband, and was 'among the first' of the pioneers who paved the way to the wilds of the West."

To be continued...

[1] From a page from an unknown book shared by Ancestry member bfdowden7292. It should also be noted that Benjamin Hart is an approved Patriot and a plaque marks his grave, placed their by the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter.

The Rice Family: Lost at Sea

Friday, October 7, 2016

Belfast Barman Missing in Canada

John Riddell was born on 8 August 1893 in Coatbridge, Scotland, to Oswald Dykes Riddell and Annie Cowie. He was their only son. At the time of his birth, his father worked as a coachman. In 1901 the entire family was missing from the census except a sister who was in service in Derberyshire, England, and another sister, who was a patient at the local fever hospital.

By 1911 his father, Oswald, had started a restaurant and all his children worked there as wait staff.

John married Mary Lothin Forsyth on 22 February 1916 in Dunfermline. At the time of his marriage, John served as a private in the 2/6 battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. He also sold spirits in Dunfermline. They had two sons, Oswald Dykes in 1916 and David Forsyth Riddell in 1921.

But then something odd happened to John's marriage and to that of his parents. In 1921 his mother, Annie, lived in Belfast, Ireland. Two years later, John immigrated to Canada. However, the passenger manifest listed his residence as 10 Parkend Street, Belfast, the home of his mother, and he was a bar tender. So some time soon after his youngest son was born, John abandoned his family.

At the time Annie and John lived in Belfast it was a rapidly growing city which offered lots of jobs. Social and cultural life in the city was a diverse as could be imagined. Many people still spent Sundays attending religious services but for many others, it was just another day to drink. Public drunkenness was a common sight on Belfast streets and the local pub was a focal point of working class communities. One local clergyman noted Belfast was a city "soaked in liquor."

John boarded the S/S Marburn on 7 April 1923 in Belfast and arrived in Quebec on 13 April. According to the same passenger manifest, he was headed to his sister's house at 746 De L'epee Avenue in Montreal. The next year, John's mother also immigrated to Canada. I have been unable to find a trace of either John or his mother after they arrived Canada.

John Riddell's Ocean Arrivals Form; courtesy of

His father, Oswald Dykes, died in 1935 in Scotland and his death registration said he was a widower at the time of this death. John's wife, Mary, died in 1970 in Scotland and never remarried.

What happened to these family groups is a mystery I keep picking at from time to time. How I wish the 1921 UK census were available!

Another Riddell Conundrum