Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cornelius W. White or Cornelius W. White?

While researching DNA matches I "met" Cornelius W. White, who married Rebecca D. Wilcox, my second cousin three times removed and great granddaughter of Matthew McMullin, Sr. (before 1765-about 1816).

My first questions were "where was Cornelius W. White born" and "who were his parents." Then I moved on to "you bigamist, you!" After hours of research I have determined there were two men named Cornelius W. White married to different women with different families, but Find A Grave and many, many public trees are incorrect, combining these two different men into one person.

Cornelius W. White (1840-1925) (Link requires an Ancestry subscription)

This Cornelius W. White has no known relationship to me. He was born on 1 November 1840 in Mercer County, Virginia (now West Virginia). His parents were Carling Ferguson White and Sarah F. Bailey. He married Zelphia R. Stewart on 5 November 1863 and had six known children:
  1. William W. White born 31 August 1864; died 4 November 1954; married 1) Annie Kate Knopp and 2) Nettie Beckett
  2. Lottie E. White born 13 April 1870; died 19 March 1950
  3. Leighton Albert White born 3 April 1873; died 6 December 1919; married Salena Taylor
  4. Joseph N. White born in 1876; died in 1951; married Bessie Estella Nirk
  5. George Emmet White born  23 October 1878; died in July 1972; married Jessie Melissa Lewis
  6. Winton Egbert White born 23 November 1882; died in 1946; married Edith Grace McTaggart
This Cornelius W. White died 2 November 1925 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and was interred at the Dr. Jesse Bennett Cemetery in Point Pleasant. 

West Virginia Death Certificate for Cornelius W. White; courtesy of the
West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History

Cornelius W. White (c1839-after 1907) (Link requires an Ancestry subscription)

This was "my" Cornelius W. White and he was much harder to research, of course! He was born about 1839 in Tazewell County, Virginia, according to his Civil War pension application to William G. White and Matilda (maiden name unknown). He married Rebecca D. Wilcox on 17 September 1860 in Scott County, Virginia. He joined the Confederate States Army on 12 March 1862 and served in Company A of the 48th Virginia Infantry Regiment until the end of the war.

Virginia Marriage Index for Cornelius W. White and Rebecca D. Wilcox;
courtesy of

Cornelius and Rebecca had eight known children:
  1. Badora "Dora" White born 15 May 1858; died 14 November 1936; married Alexander Mitchell Steffey
  2. William Augustus White born 9 August 1861; died 20 April 1924; married Nannie Magdalina Buchanan
  3. Robert E. White born 14 April 1866; died 23 June 1922; married Laura Daniel
  4. John A. White born 9 January 1868; died 8 April 1900
  5. Mary Etta (or Ellen) White born 28 April 1868; died 15 Dec 1931; married 1) Robert Thomas Aker and 2) Andrew Jackson Beverly
  6. Minerva M. "Tillie" White born 29 November 1875; died 23 October 1901; married Greenfield Taylor Dyer
  7. Fayette McMullin White born 3 October 1877; died 23 June 1961; married Jacka Charlotte Snider
  8. Lou Emma White born 1 September 1879; died 23 March 1912; married James Edward Overstreet
Cornelius' wife, Rebecca died on 18 June 1887 in Smyth County, Virginia, and was interred at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Groseclose, Virginia.

Cornelius applied for a pension[1] on 13 August 1907. He claimed he had lived in Virginia all of his life and in Smyth County for 28 years. He said he was 68 years old and had been partially paralyzed for four years. He died sometime after 1907 but I do not know when.

[1] A big thank you to member mikebrewer55, who added the pension application to his family tree.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

William McMullen Peterson (1898-1960): Missing Wife

William McMullen Peterson was my third cousin twice removed, the grandson of Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen, a U.S. Senator and territorial governor of what is now Washington Sate. He was born on 22 January 1898 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to William Jacob Peterson and Mary Fayetta McMullen. He was their second child. William's father was a merchant and owned his own home on South Liberty Street.

Ten years later when the 1910 census was enumerated, William's family continued to live on South Liberty Street but his father was working as a musician for a church organization. On 21 December 1916, his father suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died five days later on 26 December at home. William was 18 years old at the time of his father's death.

On 12 December 1917 William was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He was sent the next day to Receiving Company No. 1 at Camp Johnston, located near Jacksonville, Florida. Construction began on the camp in October and the first recruits arrived 19 November 1917. It became the largest of all the Army's Quartermaster mobilization and training camps by 1918. William remained at Camp Johnston until March 1918 when he was assigned to Supply Company 310, Quartermaster Corps. Three months later, he was sent to Europe where he remained until 16 July 1919. I know little about his overseas military service except he was assigned to the St. Nazaire Casual Company, which was a temporary administrative unit for Army personnel awaiting discharge. William returned to the U.S. on 16 July 1919 and was honorably discharged on 23 July.

By 1920 William's family had scattered. His oldest sister, Pauline, graduated from Salem College as a teacher and was likely living in El Paso, Colorado, working as a teacher. His widowed mother and youngest sister, Agnes, lived in Washington, DC. I have been unable to find William in the 1920 census.

On 24 August 1925, William married Mildred E. White in Petersburg, Virginia. She was the widow of John L. Casper, Jr. and the daughter of Emory Charles White and Lula Parrish. The marriage index record indicated William was divorced, hence the missing first wife. Who was she? When and where did they marry? When did they divorce?

Marriage index record from

William and Mildred's marriage lasted less than five years. By 1930, William had moved to California and owned a paint and wallpaper store. He had also married again to Marion Edna Liddell, daughter of Robert Liddell and Mary Caithness. She had previously been married to Earl F. Levitt and had a daughter. When the 1940 census was enumerated William worked for the City of Los Angeles as a license inspector.

William died on 18 May 1960 in Los Angeles County was was interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. His wife died 31 years later in San Luis Obispo County.

If readers know anything about William McMullen Peterson's first wife, please contact me. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen (1805-1880): Obituary

Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen was my first cousin four times removed, the nephew of my three times great grandmother, Mary (McMullin) Beard. He was born on 18 May 1805 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died from injuries sustained after being hit by a train on 8 November 1880 in Wytheville, Virginia. He served in the Virginia Senate from 1839-1849, U.S. House of Representatives from 1849 to 1857, as the second territorial governor of Washington Territory from 1857-1859, and in the Confederate House of Representatives from 1864 to 1865.

On 9 November 1880, the following article was published on page 3 of the Daily Dispatch, a Richmond, Virginia, newspaper:

As published in the Daily Dispatch on 8 November 1880; courtesy of the
Library of Congress' Chronicling America website

Accident to Governor McMullin
[Special telegram to the Dispatch]

WYTHEVILLE, VA -- November 8. -- Ex-Governor Fayette McMullin was struck by a train here tonight and seriously hurt. He attempted to cross the track in front of the engine, and was struck by the pilot and knocked down. His hip, it is thought, is broken. He also received some severe cuts and bruises about the face.

A day later, on 10 November 1880, his obituary was published in the same paper on page 2:

Death of Hon. Fayette McMullin

The accident to Hon. Fayette McMullin which was chronicled in our issue of yesterday resulted in his death the same day.

Mr. McMullin had been a public man in Virginia for perhaps fifty years. He served for many years as a member of one or the other branch of the State Legislature. He was rendered famous during that period by a newspaper controversy between him and the notorious William G. Brownlow, of Tennessee. But all of Brownlow's libels went for nothing with the unflinching friends of Mr. McMullin in "Little Tennessee," and he was not only continued in the General Assembly of Virginia as long as he desired to remain in that body, but when in 1849 (our elections were then held in May) he ran for the National House of Representatives he was easily elected. He served in that body until March, 1855, In May, 1857, he was appointed by President Buchanan Governor of the new Territory of Washington. Whilst there he committed what we suppose we may pronounce the greatest blunder of his life, as well as his most censurable act, in procuring a divorce from the wife of his youth.

After his return to Virginia, Governor McMullin became a candidate for the Confederate House of Representatives, and was elected to that body, serving until the close of the war. In 1868 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and aided in the nomination of Seymour and Blair. Since then he has been standing Independent candidate for Congress, but has always been beaten. His lat defeat he suffered on the 2nd instant, when he was distanced.

Governor McMullin was between seventy-five and eighty years of age at the time of his decease. He was a man of no cultivation, and was, we might add, but poorly qualified for the important legislative places to which he aspired and was elected. But he had a hold upon the honest yeomanry of Southwest Virginia which lasted until after the close of the late war between the States. There are still a good many devoted friends of the "Old Waggoner's" in his original congressional district who will say with Prince Hal, "We could have better spared a better man."

Governor McMullin was universally known throughout Virginia, and may friends will be pained to bear of his death. Peace to his ashes.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Video about the 314th Engineers During World War I

In 2015 I wrote a post about the World War I experiences of my first cousin twice removed, Alexander Hutchison entitled "An American's Experience During World War I." Alex served with the 314th Engineers, which were attached to the 89th Division. His parents, Alexander Hutchison and Janet "Jessie" Semple, had immigrated from Scotland; married in Streator, Illinois; returned to Scotland when Alex was three years old; and came back to the U.S. nine years later, settling in Novinger, Missouri.

Alex Hutchison was inducted into the U.S. Army on 2 April 1918, trained at Camp Funston in Kansas, was sent overseas on 12 June 1918, and was honorably discharged on 26 May 1919. During the war his division participated in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.

Recently, I was contacted by Susan Barrett Price. Her grandfather, Walter Price, also served with the 314th Engineers. Susan produced a video of his World War I experience and graciously allowed me to share it on my blog.

Thank you, Susan!

The book Susan mentioned in her video, American Armies and Battlefields in Europe may be downloaded from the Center of Military History (CMH). Other helpful CMH publications about World War I may be found here.

An American's Experience During World War I

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Halsey's Typhoon

Guest Author: John E. Jennings, my brother and amateur historian.

After discovering a distant cousin was killed during World War II when his ship went down during a typhoon, I asked my brother to write about the disaster that caused his death. Machinist Mate 1st Class Edward Henkel's name is included on the Walls of the Missing at the American Memorial Cemetery in Taguig City, Philippines.

Almighty Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

This old Royal Navy hymn was popularized in the days of sail, but was still readily on the lips of sailors in the closing stages of World War II, for even ships made of steel and powered by steam-turbines had to take heed of Mother Nature’s wrath. Case in point was the typhoon that struck the United States fleet in the Pacific on 18 December, 1944.

By that late stage of the war U.S. 3rd Fleet, commanded by Admiral William F. Halsey—known by the nickname “Bull” because of his single-minded devotion to attacking the enemy—was an all-conquering force, the most powerful armada ever assembled in history. The fleet consisted of 13 aircraft carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers and about 50 destroyers. They were supported by a Logistics Group (Task Force 30) of tankers, escort carriers and destroyers, ready to resupply the warships at sea so they could remain longer in the combat zone. Just two months before, Halsey’s fleet had destroyed virtually the entire Japanese Combined Fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. But, there was still plenty of fighting left. MacArthur’s army forces had just invaded Mindoro in the Philippines and Halsey’s carriers operated in support of the ground troops, flying attack missions against Japanese air bases in the northern Philippines. By mid-December, though, his ships were running low of fuel, so he took his fleet far to the east into the Philippine Sea, out of range of enemy aircraft, to rendezvous with TF 30 and refuel.

The rendezvous point lay in the typical path of typhoons for that time of year, but all hands were much more concerned about getting back to fighting the Japanese then they were about the potential for storms. Even as the weather started making up on the 17th, little heed was given to what seemed by all data available to be a rather small tropical disturbance. Typhoon Cobra, however, would fool the fleet’s meteorologists; it worked up from a disturbance to a full-fledged typhoon in short order and was so densely packed that it spun off few tell-tale signs. So as Halsey’s fleet steamed toward its refueling rendezvous, nobody realized they were sailing directly into the path of a fierce typhoon. By the early hours of the 18th, as the wind picked up to more than 30 knots, Halsey realized he was “confronted by serious storm conditions.” He cancelled the planned refueling at 0500 hours and ordered his fleet due south into what he thought would be the calmer southern quadrant of the storm. But his meteorologists had miscalculated the storm’s true position, so this course change brought his ships into the worst of the gathering storm. By 1000 the barometer plunged and winds gusted to more than 70 knots. Seas built into pyramid shaped mountains and slammed into the ships. At 1149 Halsey ordered all units to take the most comfortable course, giving up any semblance of fleet formation. Escort carrier Kwajalein hove to in order to reduce the pounding it was taking after rolling so severely she scooped up green water with her flight deck catwalks. On other carriers planes broke their lashings and crashed about the hangar deck, causing fires aboard light carriers Monterey and Cowpens. In total 146 aircraft were lost, either wrecked or heaved overboard.

Waves breaking over a Navy oiler during Typhoon Cobra, better known as
Halsey's Typhoon; courtesy of the National Archives and Records

But it was Task Force 30, the Logistics Group and easternmost of all the fleet units, that caught the worst of the storm. And the destroyers suffered the most. Hull was a smallish (1370 tons displacement) destroyer of an older design. She had been modified during the course of war, being fitted with over 500 tons of extra equipment and armament on her decks, which made her top heavy. Worse still she had several half empty fuel tanks, which can be dangerous in heavy seas because the ship’s center of gravity changes as the contents shift, a dynamic which tends to exaggerate rolls. Naval regulations at the time did not advise re-ballasting under such conditions, although it certainly would have helped stabilize the ship. Hull’s skipper, Lieutenant Commander J. A. Marks had experienced storms in the North Atlantic, but not a typhoon like the one now bearing down on his little ship. At 1100, with wind increasing to over 100 knots, the TF 30 commander (Captain Jasper. T. Acuff) ordered a course change to 140°. It proved a death knell for Hull. The ship failed to respond during the course change and ‘lay in irons’ with the northerly wind on her port beam. She was pounded by one, two and then three monstrous waves, rolling the ship over to 70° each time. Her whaleboat, depth charges and nearly everything on deck was carried off by the sea. Then a strong gust of 110 knot wind knocked her down and kept her pinned on her beam ends. The pilothouse flooded and sea poured into her inner spaces through the stacks. Hull sank shortly after noon, taking with her all but 62 out of a crew of 264.

Hull was not the only ship to go down on 18 December, 1944 in what has come to be known in naval
annals as “Halsey’s Typhoon.” Destroyers Monaghan and Spence also capsized and sank. Nine other
ships were damaged badly enough to need repairs. 790 men were lost. A board of inquiry placed
responsibility for the losses on Halsey, but assigned no negligence to the admiral, finding that his errors in judgment stemmed from a “commendable desire to meet military requirements.” It was also found that lack of suitable weather stations in the Western Pacific contributed to the ignorance of the fleet to the approaching storm. Within months the Fleet Weather Center was established on Guam and weather stations staffed at various other islands to keep track of tropical storms. Guidelines were put in place for destroyers to re-ballast half-empty fuel tanks and flood empty tanks in certain sea conditions.

Edward Henkel (1923-1944): Killed During Typhoon Cobra

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Powhatan Perrow Jennings and Catherine Jewell Marriage Bond

During a trip to North Carolina from our temporary home in upstate New York, Pete and I stopped at the Amherst County Court House to photograph and transcribe documents about my Jennings ancestors. One of the gems we found was the marriage bond for the union of my two times great grandparents, Powhatan Perrow Jennings and Catherine Jewell.

Marriage bond between Powhatan Jennings and Terisha Jewell, Catherine
Jewell's brother; personal collection

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That we Powhatan Jennings and Terisha Jewell are held and firmly bound unto Littleton Waller Tazwell, Esq. Governor or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the just and full sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, current money of Virginia, to be paid to the said Governor and his successors, for the use of said Commonwealth; for the payment whereof, well and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, and each of us, and each of our heirs, executors, and administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents. Sealed with our seals, and dated this 23rd day of February 1836 and in the [illegible] year of the Commonwealth.

The condition of the above obligation is such, that whereas a marriage is shortly intended to be had and solemnized between the above bound Powhatan Jennings and Catherine Jewell of the county of Amherst. -- Now if there is no lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage, then this obligation to be void; otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

Powhatan Jennings (signed and sealed)
Terry Jewell (signed and sealed)

NOTE: Jennings researchers this marriage bond may be found on my Ancestry tree and the transcription may also be found there. If you do not have a subscription to Ancestry but would like a copy of this document, please leave a comment with your contact information on this post.

Thomas Jewell (after 1776-1833): Mystery Man
Powhatan Perrow Jennings (1812-1858): A Life Cut Short
DNA Discoveries: Jewell Progress

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lillie Paulina (Beard) Sherrod (1870-1938): World Traveler

Lillie Paulina (Beard) Sherrod grew up on a farm in Bedford County, Virginia, and trained as a nurse. After her parents died, she moved to Richmond, the capital of the commonwealth and worked as a private nurse. By 1920 shed lived in the household of John Mayo Sherrod as his caretaker. Mr. Sherrod suffered from Tabes dorsalis, which had afflicted him about 8 years before. The condition causes a loss of coordination and movement as a result of a syphilitic infection of the spinal cord. Lillie married her patient in 1922 according to Key and Allied Families by Mrs. Julian C. Lane.

Lillie buried her husband, John Mayo Sherrod, on 21 May 1927. Nine months later, she and her widowed sister, Elmira Lorena "Rena" (Beard) Sublette boarded the White Star Line's USS Calgaric in New York City for a three-week cruise. They returned to the metropolis on 27 February. I like to think of it as Lillie's test cruise for her big adventure in 1929 and this time she traveled alone.

On 20 December 1929, Lillie boarded the Red Star Line's SS Belgenland in New York City and embarked on an around-the-world cruise. She returned to New York on 1 May 1930.

Inside pages of the Belgenland's world cruise; courtesy of

How glorious the adventure could we have sailed that first voyage around the world with Magellan! But one of terrifying hardships, too; of crushing days of disappointment that would have dimmed much of that glory.

In this wonder age of today all the best that Magellan knew and saw -- and vastly more -- of the Seven Seas and lands and peoples of the earth may be experienced in supreme comfort and luxury by following the sun around the globe...World Cruise of the Belgenland, Red Star Liner de luxe, largest steamship ever to circle the globe.

This super-tour will be conducted by the International Mercantile Marine Company and the Travel Department of the American Express Company.

The uniting of these two vast organizations of proved efficiency and long experience in world travel assures the highest standards of tourist service.

Not only will living conditions aboard ship, as to convenience, cleanliness, entertainment and cuisine, be on par with the best in one's home life, but the American Express Travel Department, with offices in all ports visited on the cruise, will provide the very best service for land excursions, with highly experienced and trustworthy conductors in charge.

Just to look at the Belgenland, Red Star liner de luxe, is to inspire confidence and trust and the feeling that if one is to choose any ship for a home during a 133 days' sail around the globe, this is the ship!

One of the steadiest steamships afloat -- the kind that seasons mariners and travelers fondly dub "a good sea-boat" -- she is homelike to a degree, luxuriously appointed, immaculately kept.

Her decks are exceptionally broad, with generous space for open-air sports and pastimes. Splendid public rooms, staterooms with running hot and cold water (except a few rooms on the F deck) and beds in place of berths, one of the finest orchestras, exclusively a la carte dining-room service, without extra charge; excellent cuisine, directed by a famous European hotel chef, a superlative steward service, and a completely furnished laundry -- these are just a few of the Belganland's World Cruise advantages!

An oil burner, of 27,000 tons register, 697 feet long, 78 feet in breadth, having turbine engines and triple screws, the Belgenland is the eighth largest steamship in the world.

The itinerary included twenty-six ports of call, including:

Cuba: Havana
Panama: Colon and Balboa
USA (California): Los Angeles and San Francisco
Hawaii Island: Hilo and Honolulu
Japan (and Korea): Yokohama, Kobe and Inland Sea
China: Shanghai and Hong Kong
Philippines: Manila
Java: Batavia (now Jakarta)
Malay: Singapore
India: Diamond Harbour, Calcutta and Diamond Harbour
Ceylon: Colombo
India: Bombay
Egypt and Palestine: Port Sudan, Port Tewfik and Alexandria
Europe: Naples, Monaco, and Gibraltar

If Lillie left a journal or photograph album of her trip, I've not seen them, but Mr. Roland C. Fenner kept a log book of his 1927-1928 cruise, which included this photograph of transiting the Panama Canal. Ahead of the ship is one of the canal locks.

From the cruise log book of Roland C. Fenner; courtesy of Florida
International University


Lillie Paulina was my first cousin three times removed and the youngest child of Charles Edward Beard and Ann Elizabeth Key. She was born on 22 March 1870 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died on 22 July 1938 in Richmond, Virginia. She married John Mayo Sherrod on 22 July 1922. He was the son of Dr. John W. Sherrod and Louisa Tabitha Mayo, of Hamilton, North Carolina. Lillie was interred in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke, Virginia.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Rewriting the Biographical Sketch about John Riddell (1877-1975)

I first wrote the biographical sketch about John Riddell in 2014 for the multi-volume book I am writing about the descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869), my three times great grandfather. John Riddell was one of his great grandsons. (John Ridell >> John Ridell >> Martha Muir >> Robert Muir)

John was born on 26 April 1877 in the village of Kirkton, East Kilbride to John and Helen (Bain) Riddell.  He was their third child, but only his sister, Margaret, was still living at the time of his birth. She had been born in 1875 and in 1876 his mother had a premature baby girl who died the same day she was born. When John was 14 months old, his mother had David Riddell in 1878, but he died of tuberculosis at the age of four months. In 1879 a son, Robert Riddell, was born.

In 1881 the family remained of village East Kilbride where his father worked as an agricultural laborer. However, by 1885 the John's family had moved to Cambuslang Parish where his parents rented a house at 12 Silverbanks Row. When the 1891 census was enumerated the family lived in Vicarfield Terrace in the village of Cambuslang.

At the age of 13, John was already working in the coal mines. His father died in 1897 and by 1901 John, his mother, and brother, Robert, were living in the village of Bishopbriggs, in Cadder Parish. Also living with them was a 5 year-old granddaughter of John's mother, named Ellen. John and Robert were listed as being single. My assumption is Ellen was the illegitimate child of John's older sister Margaret, but I can find no registration record for the child's birth.

On 6 October 1904, John Riddell and his friend, Thomas Sorbie, boarded the Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia. They traveled in the steerage section and landed in New York on 18 October. Both John and Thomas were miners. John lived in Glenboig before leaving Scotland and Thomas had lived in Dalserf.  Thomas Sorbie's parents were John and Margaret (Hamilton) Sorbie. Interestingly, John Riddell's grand uncle, Thomas Muir's first wife was a Sorbie, Janet Sorbie (1844-1870). Perhaps Thomas Sorbie was a cousin of John's.

Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia; photograph courtesy of ClydeSite

When they arrived in New York, they told U.S. immigration officials their destination was Imperial, Pennsylvania. Imperial was in Allegheny County about 17 miles west of Pittsburgh. Underground was the northern tip of the Pittsburgh coal seam, the thickest and most extensive bed of coal in the Appalachian Basin.

During first decade of the 1900s, when John Riddell and Thomas Sorbie arrived in Imperial, mining companies were sinking new mines at a rapid pace. The growth of mining was so massive and so intertwined with coke production for the iron and steel industry that the era was called the "Golden Age of King Coal, Queen Coke, and Princess Steel." By 1910, however, the golden age was fading, new coke production technology used a lower quality of coal than that of the Pittsburgh seam, which greatly reduced demand.

Pittsburgh coal seam; map courtesy of Wikipedia

Regardless of the reasons why John Riddell left Imperial, he was not there when the 1910 U.S. federal census was enumerated and has not been found in any U.S. documentation after his arrival.

The Rest of the Story

And the rest of John's life remained a mystery until a few weeks ago when a DNA match provided his year and place of death.

It seems the United States didn't suit John for whatever reason and he likely returned to the United Kingdom aboard the Cunard Steamship Company's RMS Campania, arriving in Liverpool on 10 March 1906. He only stayed a few months before immigrating to New Zealand aboard the New Zealand Shipping Company's SS Tongariro, which departed London on 9 August 1906 bound for Wellington. The voyage would have taken 30 to 40 days.

In 1908 John's widowed mother, Helen (Bain) Riddell and brother Robert joined John in New Zealand.

In 1910, John married Amy Alberta Roberts, who was born in 1882 in Bolton, England, to Jessie Alberta Roberts. Amy's mother married John Linihin five years after her birth. In 1901 the Linihin family was enumerated in Farnworth, England, where Amy's step-father worked as a coal miner. They immigrated in 1905.

John's mother died in 1914 and Amy's mother in 1924. John's brother, Robert, died in 1961.

John and Amy lived their lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and had four children, though one was born stillborn in 1915. Amy died on 22 January 1957 and was interred at the Waikumete Cemetery in Glen Eden. John lived to be 98 years old and died on 13 August 1975. He was interred beside his wife.

The children:
  1. Jessie Bain Riddell born 13 May 1911 in Auckland; died 15 May 2011; married David William Storey in 1935.
  2. Margaret Alberta Riddell born 16 February 1918; died 15 January 2002; married George William Allan Laird in 1941.
  3. John "Jack" Victor Riddell born 18 Aug 1920; died 31 July 2015; married Lennox "Lyn" Blanche Jones.

A new DNA match provided enough clues to find my "lost" second cousin twice removed. And sometimes one more clue is just what you need to continue your research:

Family tree attached to my new DNA match; courtesy of

The tree attached to my new DNA match said John Riddell was born in April in East Kilbride, Scotland, and died in 1975 in Auckland, New Zealand. I had a John Riddell born in April 1877 in East Kilbride. Could they be the same person? I suspected they were as his daughter's middle name was Bain and that was his mother's maiden name. After hours of research, I know the end of John Riddell's story.

Now if I could just find John's missing sister, Margaret Riddell! She's the only one in the family who is still "lost." Margaret was born on 18 January 1875 in East Kilbride, Scotland, and was enumerated in the 1881 and 1891 census with her family. If anyone knows her story, please contact me.

John Riddell (1877-Unknown)

Descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869), Volume II: Descendants of John and Martha (Muir) Riddell

Thursday, August 2, 2018

52 Ancestors #31: Alice (Muir) Jennings (1906-1993): Grandma Jennings

Ancestor: Alice (Muir) Jennings, grandmother

Alice Muir was born on 16 March 1906 in Novinger, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin. She was their second and last child as her mother died of tuberculosis in 1909. Alice was born blind in her left eye, having a detached retina. In 1910 newly widowed Robert Muir lived in Nineveh, Missouri, with his two young children -- Henry and Alice. The children's paternal grandmother, Margaret (Semple) Muir and her youngest daughter, lived next door.

Alice's father remarried in 1911 and Alice and Henry were sent to live with their grandmother, Margaret Muir, while their father raised a new family in East St. Louis, Illinois, and he worked in nearby coal mines. Robert Muir moved his family to West Virginia some time before 1920 as one of his daughters was born there that year.

When the 1920 census was enumerated, Alice continued to live with her grandmother in Nineveh, but her brother had left and joined his father in West Virginia. Grandmother Muir died on 31 May 1920 three days after an operation. At the age of 14 Alice Muir was on her own. She lived for brief periods of time with various Muir aunts and uncles.

According to an article in the Troy Call, she attended the fifth annual Riggin family reunion held at her maternal grandmother, Clementine (Wells) Riggin Collins' home on 19 August 1921 in Troy, Illinois. Eventually, she made her way to West Virginia, and worked with a family as a maid/governess in War. There she met Marvin Edward Jennings, a clerk with the Norfolk & Western Railroad. They met at a silent movie. Alice was reading the movie to her employer's young son and Marvin and his friends sat behind Alice and mimicked her during the movie.

Marvin and Alice dated for a few months but eventually Alice moved back to East St. Louis. When she discovered she was pregnant, Marvin quit his job with the railroad, traveled to Illinois, and married her on 13 May 1924 in East St. Louis.

Alice Muir standing on the station platform of the East St. and Suburban
Railway, which was an electric commuter train, circa 1925; personal

Their daughter Pearl was born on 19 September 1924 but died a few months later on 30 December 1924. The coupled lived at 870 North 80th Street in East St. Louis, just a few houses away from a house her father owned. Her husband worked for the Illinois Central Railroad Company.

Marvin and Alice's oldest son was born in 1927. Alice, my grandmother, used to say after Uncle Marvin was born, she was unable to get pregnant and went to a doctor in St. Louis. He told her that her womb was twisted. So she went every week for 26 treatments, which apparently consisted of untwisting her womb a little bit at a time. Two months after her last treatment, she was pregnant. Their youngest son was born in 1931.

Marvin and Alice (Muir) Jennings with their sons; personal

When the Depression struck, Marvin Jennings lost his job with the railroad. He did odd jobs to make a little money but the family was on Relief for a period of time. In 1941, Marvin took a job with the federal government and the family moved to Washington, DC, where they lived for a year before buying a house in Arlington County, Virginia.

Marvin Jennings died in 1961. Alice was left with a mortgage and a $1,000 in the bank. She got a job as an accounting clerk with the U.S. Navy and worked on expense reports submitted by Naval officers. However, to get to work, she had to buy a car and learn to drive. My father, her youngest son, always said teaching her was quite an experience.

Alice sold the family home and lived in a series of apartments until she retired. She and Marvin had bought a fishing shack on a tidal creek of the Chesapeake Bay in Deale Beach, Maryland, just before his death. Her youngest son, winterized it and built an addition, and she retired there.  She also began wintering in Saint Petersburg, Florida. When her sons moved to North Carolina, building homes next door to each other, Alice bought a mobile home and had it placed on their property, living there until her death.

Alice (Muir) Jennings died on 14 December 1993 of a cerebrovascular accident in Pamilco County at Britt Haven Nursing Home, where she had been treated for two months prior to her death. She was interred beside her husband at National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Virginia.

Alice and her husband were active in the Odd Fellows and the Daughters of Rebekah lodge organizations and both held offices in their local chapters. After her retirement, Alice indulged her love of travel visiting Europe several times, the Middle East, Hawaii, and took several cruises.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Oldest," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Alice (Muir) Jennings, is Ancestor number 5 on my family tree:

5 Alice Muir was born on 16 March 1906 in Novinger, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin; died on 14 December 1993 in Alliance, North Carolina; married Marvin Edward Jennings on 13 May 1924 in East St. Louis, Illinois.

5.1 Pearl Marie Jennings born 19 September 1924 in East St. Louis, Missouri; died 30 December 1924 in East St. Louis.

5.2 Marvin Edward Jennings, Jr. born 23 July 1927 in East St. Louis, Missouri; married Rachel Mildred Lange, daughter of Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, on 5 April 1952 in Arlington County, Virginia.

2 Charles Theodore Jennings born 14 December 1931 in Centreville, Illinois; married Dorothy Ailein Lange, daughter of Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, on 15 November 1957 in Arlington County, Virginia.

'Alice Muir at train station,' personal collection
1910 Federal Census, Census Place: O'Fallon, Saint Clair, Illinois; Roll: T624_323; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0155; Image: 641; FHL microfilm: 1374336
1920 Federal Census, Census Place: Nineveh, Adair, Missouri; Roll: T-625_902; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 17; Image: 330
1930 Federal Census, Census Place: East St Louis, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: 557; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 61; Image: 55.0; FHL microfilm: 2340292
1940 Federal Census, Census Place: Signal Hill, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: T627_879; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 82-35
Global, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current, 1993 Alice Jennings
Riggin Family Reunion, Troy Weekly Call, 25 August 1929
Riggin Family Reunion, Edwardsville Intelligencer, 8 August 1948
Social News Notes, Troy Call, 19 August 1921
US, City Directories, 1822-1939, 1926 East St Louis, Illinois (Alice Jennings)
US, City Directories, 1822-1939, 1928 East St Louis, Illinois (Alice Jennings)
US, City Directories, 1822-1939, 1930 East St Louis, Illinois (Alice Jennings)
US, Illinois Marriage License,  No. H-11915
US, Illinois Marriage License 1924 Jennings, Marvin - Muir, Alice
US, Missouri Delayed or Special Certificate of Birth, No. 524307
US, North Carolina, Certificate of Death 060-482
US, North Carolina, Certificate of Death, Book 26, Page 181
US, North Carolina Death Index, 1908-2004, Deaths: 1993-96
US, Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume I, 1993 Arapahoe, North Carolina (Alice M Jennings)
US, Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume II, Alice M Jennings (St Petersburg, Florida)
US, Virginia, Find A Grave Index, 1607-2012, 1993 Alice M Jennings

Friday, July 27, 2018

52 Ancestors #30: Robert Muir (1875-1956): Union Mine Organizer?

Ancestor: Robert Muir, Great Grandfather
Haplogroup: Unknown

Robert Muir was born on 16 March 1875 in Swinhill in the parish of Dalserf, Scotland to James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. He was the couple's second child together but their oldest son had died the previous year. When the 1881 census was enumerated Robert lived with his mother at the farm of his maternal grandparents, Peter and Janet (Torrance) Semple. His father was not at the home when the census was taken.

Remains of Robert Muir's Sottish birth registration; personal collection

In June of 1887 James Muir immigrated to the United States. Margaret followed later that year with their living children.  They arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 30 September 1887 aboard the Allen Line's S/S Manitoban. The ship had sailed from Glasgow, Scotland, and made a brief stop in Ireland before reaching Philadelphia. Margaret, Robert, and his siblings likely took the train to Streator, Illinois, where James worked as a coal miner. Robert Muir became a naturalized United citizen on 10 October 1896 at the Livingston County Courthourse.

In 1900 he lived with his mother and two younger brothers in Reading, Illinois, where he worked as a coal miner beside his brother Peter. Each had been unemployed for six months during the previous year.

He and Ida Mae Riggin applied for a marriage license on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and were married shortly thereafter. They lived in Troy for about a year after their marriage; then moved to Novinger, Missouri, where they were living when Robert's cousin, Peter Muir, listed him as his contact when he arrived in the United States in 1903. They moved to O'Fallon, Illinois, just before Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir died in 1909. The couple had two children, Henry and Alice.

In 1910 Robert and his two young children lived in O'Fallon, Illinois, next door to his mother. I imagine she helped care for his children as they were not yet school aged.

On 26 September 1911 Robert married Elizabeth "Liz" Fausz in St. Louis. They both claimed to be over 18 years old and that was certainly the case with Robert, but Liz was only 17 and pregnant. When Robert was required to register for the World War I draft in 1918, the family lived in the Edgemont Station area of East St. Louis, Illinois. Robert's appearance was described as being of medium height and stout build with blue eyes and partially gray hair. He and Liz had four children together. All but Henrietta was born in Illinois.

Robert was not enumerated in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 U.S. federal census. However, he was listed in the East St. Louis city directories between 1924 and 1930. He owned a home on 436 North 80th Street.

His daughter, Alice, my grandmother, always said her father was a union organizer and traveled frequently to coal mines across the country trying to get the workers to unionize. She said he'd been blackballed from several mines, threatened and even shot at. I always thought these stories were fantasies of a young girl who didn't know her father very well. However, not finding him in so many census records makes me wonder.

Robert Muir applied for the new Social Security insurance program on 4 December 1936. At the time he submitted his application he lived in Iaeger, West Virginia, and worked for the Pocahontas Red Bird Mining Co.

Social Security application with Robert Muir's signature; personal

He divorced Liz some time before 1940. When he retired from mining, some time after 1942, he bought a small piece of property along a river in Van Buren County, Tennessee. On that property he lived in an abandoned bus.

Robert Muir's Coal Miner's Certificate from the West Virginia
Department of Mines; personal collection

He was hospitalized in September 1956 while in southwest Virginia visiting his family. He died on 23 September 1956 at the Clinch Valley Clinic Hospital in Richlands, Virginia, of a cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease. He was 81 years old at the time of his death and was interred at Iaeger Memorial Cemetery in Roderfield, West Virginia.

Robert Muir died without a will. His real and personal property was auctioned off in two separate sales on 11 October and 15 November 1956. When his estate was settled in 1957, each of his six children received $310.52.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Colorful," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Robert Muir, is Ancestor number 10 on my family tree:

10 Robert Muir born 16 March 1875 in Swinhill, Dalserf, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to James Muir and Margaret Semple; died on 23 September 1956 in Richlands, Virginia; married 1) Ida Mae Riggin, daughter of John Wesley Riggin and Clementine Wells, on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and 2) Elizabeth "Liz" Fausz, daughter of Peter Fausz and Margaret Dietrich, on 26 September 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri (divorced)

10.1 Henry "Jack" Muir born 29 May 1903 in Adair County, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin; died 24 May 1986 in Gretna, Louisiana; married 1) Mary Frances Canterberry, daughter of Howard Canterberry and Nancy Robertson on 3 July 1921 in Walls Creek, West Virginia, (divorced) 2) Armitar Ormmueth Alleman, daughter of Arrestide Alleman and Alice Istre, on 24 February 1930 in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, (divorced) 3) Eppa "Eppie" (Swan) Childs Swafford, daughter of William Henry Swan and Edna Sarah Norvell, before 1953, likely in Louisiana, and 4) Edith Mary (Davenport) Samples in May 1979 in St. Bernard Parish.

5 Alice Muir born 16 March 1906 in Novinger, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin; died 14 December 1993 in Pamlico County, North Carolina; married Marvin Edward Jennings, son of Charles Edward Jennings and Effie Beard, on 13 May 1924.

10.3 Robert Muir, Jr. born 7 January 1912 in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 22 February 1959 in Welch, West Virginia; married 1) Sadie Viola Cline, daughter of John Estil Cline and Maude Rasnake, on 1 November 1930 in Russell County, Virginia, (divorced) and 2) a woman named Carrie after 1949.

10.4 Verna Muir born 3 July 1917 in Illinois to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 18 April 2010 in Ravenswood, West Virginia; married Franz "Frank" Burglechner, son of Unknown Burglechner and Maria "Mary" Miller, before 1935.

10.5 Henrietta Muir born 14 January 1920 in Tralee, West Virginia to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 23 February 2008 in Eglin, Illinois.

10.6 Margaret Elizabeth Muir born 26 September 1924 in East St. Louis, Illinois, to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 14 June 1988 in Richlands, Virginia; married Cecil Roy Hess, son of Charles Robert Hess and Jessie Mae Fitzgerald, on 24 October 1942 in Buchanan County, Virginia (divorced).

'Remains of Robert Muir's Scottish Birth Registration,' personal collection
'Robert Muir's Coal Miner's Certificate,' personal collection
'Social Security Application,' personal collection
1881 Scotland Census, 03/04/1881 Semple, Peter (Census 1881 638/02 002/00 018)
1900 US Federal Census, Census Place: Reading, Livingston, Illinois; Roll: 318; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0114; FHL microfilm number: 1240318
1910 US Federal Census, Census Place: O'Fallon, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: T624_323; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0155; Image: 641; FHL microfilm: 1374336
Alice (Muir) Jennings' Genealogy Notebook, page 4, 8
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1875 Muir, Robert (Statutory Births 638/02 0037)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1924 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1926 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1928 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1930 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, Illinois, Livingston County Court, Naturalization Application, 10 Oct 1896
US, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002, 1911 Muir, Robert - Fausz, Elizabeth
US, Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800-1963, 1887 Muir, Robert
US, Social Security Application, Number: 235-10-9644
US, Social Security Card, Number 235-10-9644, State: West Virginia
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator, Settlement of and with C. C. Greer, Administrator, 27 Jun 1957
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator, Goods and Chattels Sale, 11 Oct 1956
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator Estate Sale, 11 Nov 1956
US, Virginia, Death Certificate 1956, Muir, Robert, No. 22810
US, West Virginia, Department of Mines, Coal Miner's Certificate No. 93665
US, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, State: Illinois; County: St. Clair; Roll: 1614579; Draft Board: 1

Thursday, July 19, 2018

52 Ancestors #29: James Muir (1848-1926): Scoundrel

Ancestor Name: James Muir, great great grandfather
Haplogroup: Unknown

James Muir was likely the twelfth child of Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir. No parish church record exists for his birth. His birthday, 13 June, is listed on his death certificate and in my Grandmother's genealogy notebook. The birth year is more confusing. My Grandmother believed it was 1847. James' second wife believed it was 1845. I have settled on 1848. The closest record to his birth is the 1851 Scotland Census. That census was enumerated on the night of 30-31 March, which would make James Muir 2 years old, and that is his age as recorded on the census. He would turn three in June, hence 1848 as his year of birth.

When the 1851 Scotland census was enumerated, he was living with several siblings in Kirkton village, but his parents were not at home the night the census was taken. It is likely his mother had died by this time. We know she died before 1856.

Ten years later, James was living at 2 Birkenshaw in Larkhall with his father and several siblings. He was 13 and already working full-time in the coal mines. His father was no longer working in the mines but his older brothers still living at home were also miners. I have been unable to definitively locate James Muir in the 1871 census.

He married Margaret Semple on 4 Jul 1873 in Swinhill, Dalserf, Lanarkshire. She was the single mother of a young girl named Janet "Jessie" Semple. Margaret was pregnant with their first child at the time of their marriage, and that child was born on 4 October 1873. Their first son was named Robert Muir, after his paternal grandfather. Sadly, little Robert died on 25 January 1874 of hydrocephalus, which is the build up of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. It is commonly called "water on the brain."

Parish church in Dalserf; photograph commissioned by me and taken by
Andrew Scorgie in 2013

My great grandfather also named Robert Muir was born on 16 March 1875. After my great grandfather, six more children were born in Scotland:
  • Peter Semple Muir (14 February 1877 -- 23 March 1877)
  • Peter Semple Muir (5 July 1878 -- 8 September 1878)
  • Peter Muir (12 July 1879 -- 23 July 1879)
  • Henrietta Brown Muir (29 July 1882 -- 9 January 1884)
  • Margaret "Maggie" Muir (6 May 1884 -- 29 August 1966)
  • Peter Semple Muir (3 February 1886 -- 30 October 1947)
Peter Semple was Margaret's father's name and naming a child in his honor was obviously important to her.

On 27 May 1887 James boarded the Anchor Line steamship Ethiopia in Glasgow and sailed to the United States. He arrived in New York City on the 6th of June and traveled to Streator, Illinois. Because the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, I do not know if he had relatives or friends who had already immigrated and settled in Streator or if he saw advertisements for Streator at the train station. 

James' wife, Margaret, and the living children followed him to Illinois, arriving in the U.S. on 30 September 1887. Margaret's daughter, Jessie, also traveled with her mother and half-siblings.  Margaret and James had two more children in Illinois: Alexander Muir (13 May 1889 -- 6 May 1957) and Jane "Janie" Muir (29 November 1894 -- 23 January 1990).

In 1900 James was living in Mystic, Iowa, a lodger at the home of Mrs. Margaret Greenbank. Appanoose was described as "one continuous mining camp" when James arrived. He claimed he was divorced. His wife, Margaret (Semple) Muir, however, was living in Reading, Illinois. According to her census records, she still believed she was married.

James married Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 in Princeton, Missouri. Princeton is in Mercer County, Missouri, which borders Iowa. I am left wondering after looking at the map, if Mercer County was a "Gretna Green" county, meaning it was possible to get a quickie marriage. Or perhaps county officials didn't look too closely at your documentation. I've found no evidence that James Muir actually divorced his first wife, nor can I find any evidence that Margaret Greenbank was divorced from her husband, Thomas, who was still alive, though living in the Mount Pleasant Hospital for the Insane.

Proximity of Appanoose County to Mercer County; image courtesy of

I have not found James in the 1910 census. When the 1915 Iowa state census was taken, James claimed he had lived in Iowa since 1895. If that is true, then he left his first wife when their youngest child was barely a year old. In 1920 he lived in Nineveh, Missouri, and was a boarder in the home of Mrs. Ida Logsdon. Her home was very close to the home James' first wife and the home of their daughter, Maggie, and her husband, Robert Caswell.

The 1925 Iowa state census indicated James was still married and back in Mystic, Iowa, and lived with his second wife. At the time two of Margaret's sons by her first husband also lived in the home as well as 11-year-old Robert H. Muir, who was listed as a grandson. I believe he was actually the son of Ethel Greenbank, one of Margaret's daughters by her first husband. James Muir did have a grandson named Robert Muir, Jr. He was born in 1912 so it is possible he was living with his grandfather in 1925 though I do not know why this would be.

James Muir died on 18 March 1926 at his home in Mystic of arteo-sclerosis and chronic bronchitis at the ripe old age of 81. He was miner, retired from the Egypt Coal Company. He was interred in Highland Cemetery in Mystic on 20 March 1926. His second wife was the informant listed on the death certificate. She is also buried in Highland Cemetery.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Music," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, James Muir, is Ancestor number 20 on my family tree:

20 James Muir born 13 June 1848 in East Kilbride, Scotland; died 18 March 1926 in Mystic, Iowa; married 1) Margaret Semple, daughter of Peter Semple and Janet Torrance, on 4 July 1873 in Dalserf, Scotland, and 2) Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank, daughter of William Keir McIntosh and Christian Brown and wife of Thomas Greenbank, on 9 January 1913 in Princeton, Missouri. Interred at Highland Cemetery in Mystic, Iowa.

20.1 Robert Muir born 4 October 1873 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 25 January 1874 in Dalserf.

10 Robert Muir born 16 March 1875 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 September 1956 in Richlands, Virginia; married 1) Ida Mae Riggin, daughter of John Wesley Riggin and Clementine Wells, on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and 2) Elizabeth Fausz, daughter of Peter Fausz and Margaret Dietrich on 26 September 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri (divorced between 1930 and 1940).

20.2 Peter Semple Muir born 14 February 1877 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 March 1877 in Dalserf.

20.3 Peter Semple Muir born 5 July 1878 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 8 September 1878 in Lesmahagow, Scotland

20.4 Peter Muir born 12 July 1879 in Lesmahagow, Scotland; died 23 July 1879 in Lesmahagow.

20.5 Henrietta Brown Muir born 29 July 1882 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 9 January 1884 in Dalserf.

20.6 Margaret "Maggie" Muir born 6 May 1884 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 29 August 1966 likely in Vermilion County, Illinois; married Robert Caswell, son of John Caswell and Elizabeth Russell, on 3 August 1902 in St. Joseph, Michigan.

20.7 Peter Semple Muir born 3 February 1886 in Dalserf, Scotlankd; died 30 October 1947 in Detroit, Michigan; married Mame Zebio, daughter of Louis Zebio and Mary Frey, on 1 July 1908, according to my grandmother's genealogy notebook.

20.8 Alexander Muir born 13 May 1889 in Streator, Illinois; died 6 May 1957 in Seattle, Washington; married Bertha I. Cloren, daughter of John Patrick Cloren and Janet Ann Milnes on 13 June 1914 in Adair County, Missouri.

20.9 Jane "Janie" Muir born 29 November 1894 in Reading, Illinois; died 23 January 1990 in Centralia, Washington; married Herbert Bartist Beck, son of John B. Beck and Christina Beyerle, on 20 Jun 1912, according to my grandmother's genealogy notebook.

Margaret Semple had a daughter, whose father is unknown, before she marred James Muir. Jessie was raised as part of the Muir family.

20.10 Janet "Jessie" Semple born 25 November 1871 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 February 1942 in Adair County, Missouri; married Alexander Hutchison, son of Alexander Hutchison and Lilias Ewings, on 2 January 1889 in Streator, Illinois.



Alice (Muir) Jennings Genealogy Notebook, undated, personal collection
'Dalserf Parish Church,' personal collection
'Iowa and Missouri Counties' map, FamilySearch
1851 Scotland Census, Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 15; Page: 17; Line: 2; Roll: CSSCT1851_152
1851 Scotland Census, 30/03/1851 Muir, Elisabeth (Census 1851 643/00 015/00 016)
1861 Scotland Census, Parish: Dalserf; ED: 6; Page: 34; Line: 18; Roll: CSSCT1861_95
1861 Scotland Census, 07/04/1861 Muir, Robert (Census 1861 638/01 006/00 034)
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa; Roll: 416; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 1240416
1920 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Nineveh, Adair, Missouri; Roll: T625_902; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 17; Image 329
Global, Find A Grave, 144021172
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1873 Muir, James (father)
Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910, 1873 Muir, James - Semple, Margaret
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1873 Muir, James - Semple, Margaret (Statutory Marriages 638/02 0011)
U.S., Iowa Gazetteer, Appanoose County, page 93
U.S., Iowa Select Deaths and Burials, 1850-1990, 4-1537
U.S., Iowa Census Collection, 1836-1925, 1925 Muir, James
U.S., Iowa Census Collection, 1836-1925, Card No. A239
U.S., Iowa, Certificate of Death, 1926, Muir, James, 4-1537
U.S., Missouri Marriage License, 1913, Muir, James - Greenbank, Margaret, 4850
U.S., Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002, License No. 4850
U.S., New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1857, Year 1887, Muir, James
U.S., Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960, Muir, James (father)

Friday, July 13, 2018

52 Ancestors #28: Robert Muir (c1800-1869): Coal Hewer

Ancestor: Robert Muir
DNA Haplogroup: Unknown

Robert Muir was born about 1800 in Ireland; and, according to his death registration, his father's name was James Moore.  From other records, we know Robert Muir was not Catholic so this may be his baptismal record. Much more research needs to be accomplished to prove it is correct.

Possible baptismal record from Roots Ireland

Robert came to Scotland sometime before 1828 when he married Henrietta Brown on 28 January in Avondale parish, Lanarkshire. Robert and Henrietta had 13 known children, eight of which lived to marry and have children of their own. Two of their children, Henrietta and James emigrated from Scotland to other countries after marrying. Henrietta, her husband and children went to Australia and were early settlers of Bundaberg, Queensland. James Muir, his wife and family settled in the United States and lived in several coal “patches” in Illinois and Missouri. At this time, not much is known about Robert and Henrietta's first-born child and first son, William Muir.

In 1854 the Registration of Births Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act was enacted. The law required compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages at the local parish registrar beginning on 1 January 1855.  Previously, families recorded these significant events at the established Church of Scotland or at their Roman Catholic parish. Many of these pre-1855 records have been lost over time, as they were not required to be sent to any type central repository. This has made tracing Robert Muir and his family somewhat challenging. 

Lanark county, or Lanarkshire, is the area of Scotland in which Robert Muir settled. It was in the central lowlands and was traditionally the most populous shire in the country. From the mid-18th century to the early 20th century Lanarkshire benefited from its rich seams of coal. So it’s no surprise the Muirs were mostly miners. Robert’s occupation is only mentioned in four records: on his daughters’ 1830 and 1834 birth registration entries, he is listed as “coal hewer” and “coal cutter;” "coal cutter" again on the 1841 census, and on the 1861 census, his occupation is “formerly coal miner.”

Coal Mining

Coal had been mined in Scotland since 1210 when monks at Prestongrange were granted the right to quarry it. During Reformation the mines passed out of control of the church and were owned by landowners. The Act of 1606 bound all miners to the mines and gave coal masters the right to “apprehend all vagabonds and sturdy beggars to be put to labor.” In 1641 the restrictions were extended to those who worked at the surface of the mine. The Act of 1775 freed miners after a period of 3 to 10 years. Four years later, the Emancipation Act was enacted and declared miners free of servitude.  In 1842 the Mines Act prohibited children under 10 and women from working in the mines.

Children were mostly educated in schools run by the established Church of Scotland. However, by 1847 the Free Church claimed over 44,000 children were being taught in their schools. Education did not become compulsory for children aged 5 to 13, however, until 1872.  Robert and Henrietta’s children could not read or write and signed legal documents by making their mark. Most of their children received at least some education and were literate.

1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Scotland, from the Statistical
Account of Lanarkshire published in 1841

Robert Muir and his family lived in Avondale, Glassford, East Kilbride and Larkhall parishes -- all in Lanark county. The family moved to East Kilbride by 1837 and eight of Robert's youngest children were born there. The town is located about 8 miles southeast of Glasgow in the Scottish Lowlands.

East Kilbride

The earliest evidence of habitation are ancient graves near a local river and Roman coins and footwear have also been found. The town takes its name from St. Bride, an Irish saint, who founded a monastery for nuns and monks in Kildare, Ireland.

In 1836, about 960 people lived in the town and most of them were considered very poor. Rev. Henry Moncrief, one of the contributors to the Statistical Account of Lanarkshire, which was published in 1841, wrote that:

"A considerable portion of the people are very poor. This is particularly the case in the village of Kilbride where there is a number of weavers, but no regular manufactory to keep the people in employment. In the rural parts, the population are generally comfortable, industrious, contented, and influenced by the religious habits of their forefathers. There are many persons in the villages of excellent character, both intellectually, morally, and religiously. Poaching in game, it is to be feared, used to be prevalent, but is not so now."

The average wage for a general laborer was about 10 to 12 shillings a week. Men who worked in East Kilbride's many limestone quarries may have earned a little more. Sixteen pecks of potatoes cost 16 shillings in 1840.

According to Rev. Moncrief, there was a parish library and a subscription library. There were three district parochial schools in the parish and a "very excellent school in Maxwellton, supported by the liberality of Sir William Maxwell. In all the schools, ordinary branches are taught. Some of the modern improvements have been introduced, with great advantage, into Sir William Maxwell's school."

The parish also had a savings' bank, which was connected with the Glasgow National Security Savings Bank. There were 19 inns and public houses, which Rev. Moncrief thought "prejudicial to the morals of the people."

East Kilbride Old Parish Church; photograph
courtesy of the Scottish War Memorials Project

The original parish church had been built on the site of a pre-Christian well. The current church was built in 1774 near the original site. It was the church in which Robert and Henrietta's children were baptized. 

On 30 Mar 1851 when the census was enumerated, Robert and Henrietta’s children were living in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, but their parents were not in the home at the time. It is possible Henrietta was sick, perhaps she never fully recovered from Nathaniel’s birth, and was in a hospital. This is merely supposition on my part.

Robert and Henrietta's daughter, Jean Muir, who was born in 1837 died on 19 August 1856. Her death registration indicated that her mother was deceased. Henrietta's youngest son, Nathaniel, had been born in December 1850; so Henrietta died sometime between December 1850 and 19 August 1856.

Robert Muir was enumerated as a widower in 1861 in the parish of Dalserf and had formerly been a coal miner. Six of his children lived with him. His daughter Henrietta worked as a servant and the five sons living with him worked in the coal mines, even Nathaniel who was 10 years old at the time the household was enumerated.

Robert Muir died on 20 April 1869 in Stonhouse, Scotland, of heart palpitations and chronic bronchitis. His son registered his death with the civil authorities and stated that his father's name was James Muir and his mother's name was unknown.

Which Robert Muir?

Another Robert Muir was born about 1801-1803 in Ayrshire, Scotland. Many, many public trees indicate that Robert Muir is the same person who married Henrietta Brown. I do not agree. Though records are scarce, the 1841 and 1861 census are consistent. The 1841 census stated Robert Muir was foreign born, which included England or Ireland. The 1861 census indicated he was born in Ireland. I believe this misidentification has occurred because there a photograph of the Robert Muir, born in Ayrshire, exists.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Travel," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Robert Muir, is Ancestor number 40 on my family tree:

40 Robert Muir was born in Ireland about 1800 to James Muir and an unknown woman; died 20 April 1869 in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland; married Henrietta Brown on 26 January 1828 in Avondale, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

40.1 William Muir, born about 1826 (no more is known about this child at this time)

40.2 Elizabeth Muir born about 1829 at Avondale, Lanarkshire; died 27 October 1863 at Dalton, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire. She married Matthew Cassels on 15 December 1851 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.3 Martha Muir born 2 September 1830 at Glassford, Lanarkshire; died 6 June 1876 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She married John Riddell on7 August 1852 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.4 Jean Muir born 8 April 1834 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1837.

40.5 Henrietta Muir born 29 January 1836 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1841.

40.6 Jean Muir born 8 October 1837 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 19 August 1856 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.7 Robert Orr Muir born 1 October 1839 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 8 July 1917 at Bathgate, Linlithgow, Scotland. He married twice: 1) to Jane Paton Loudon on or before 1863 and 2) to Mary Watson Shaw on 23 June 1871 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire.

40.8 Henrietta Muir born 21 May 1841 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 1 September 1929 at Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. She married James Williamson on 27 September 1861 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. They immigrated to Australia on 6 May 1885 aboard the cargo ship S/S Waroonga.

40.9 Thomas Muir born 25 November 1842 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 5 May 1901 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married twice: 1) to Janet Sorbie on 6 November 1863 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Isabella Moore on 4 October 1870 at Glassford, Lanarkshire.

40.10 James Muir born on 2 August 1844; likely died before 1847 or 1848.

40.11 John Muir born 28 June 1846 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 2 June 1932 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married Lillas Weir 6 October 1865 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire.

20 James Muir born on 13 June 1847 or 1848; died on 18 March 1926 at Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa, USA. He married twice: 1) to Margaret Semple on 4 July 1873 at Dalserf, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Margaret “Maggie” (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 at Princeton, Mercer, Missouri, USA. He immigrated to the U.S. on 6 June 1887 aboard the steamship Ethiopia.

40.12 Nathaniel Muir likely born sometime in December 1850; died 23 February 1923 at Whitburn, West Lothian (was Linlithgow previous to 1921). He married twice: 1) Janet Shaw 1 May 1870 at Avondale, Lanarkshire, and 2) Christina Ure on 29 May 1899 at Bathgate, Linlithgow.

1841 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Moore, Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 4; Page: 10; Line: 1149; Year: 1841(accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Statistical Account of Lanarkshire1841 (accessed 6 Apr 2014)
1851 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Elizabeth Muir, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 13; Page: 8; Line: 3; Roll: CSSCT1851_152 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1861 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Muir, Dalserf, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: Dalserf: ED; 6; Page: 34; Line: 13; Roll CSSCT1861_95 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
Brown, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 644/01 0210 0036 Glasgow)
East Kilbride Old Parish Church, Gazetteer for Scotland, ScotlandsPlaces (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Ireland, Church Baptisms, Donegal Ancestry, 1799 Muir, Robert
Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911, 1911 Moore, James
Questions, Questions, Questions, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Robert Muir (c1800-1869), Robert Muir Family (accessed 9 Jul 2018
Robert Muir's Parents! Yes? Maybe? No., Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 26/01/1828 Muir, Robert (O.P.R. Marriages 621/00 0040 0232 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 08/04/1834, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 621/00 0040 0088 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 14/02/1836, Muir, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0085 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 05/11/1837, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0096 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 22/08/1844 Muir, James (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0124 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 13/12/1851 Muir, Elizabeth (O.P.R. Marriages 643/00 0030 0220 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1834  Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1837 Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1844 James Muir
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1854-2013, 1856 Muir, Jane (Statutory Deaths 643/00 0038)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1863 Cassels, Elizabeth (Statutory Deaths 627/00 0073)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1869, Muir, Robert (Statutory Deaths 656/00 0018)

The Robert Muir Family Blog
I am writing a multi-volume book about the descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869) and his wife, Henrietta Brown. Volumes I and II may be downloaded from the above link.