52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Back to School

It’s week 35 and it’s the end of August and time for Back to School.  Of course, here in the Atlanta area they have the crazy practice of starting school super-early.  School started in Fulton County, where we live, the first Monday in August!  So, kids and teachers have been back pretty much a month now and are coming up on their first day off – Labor Day.

When I think about Back to School and my ancestors, there are so many people that I think of.  I come from a long line of teachers in every direction.  Some were young women who taught in country schools for a time until they got married.  Others made a career out of teaching.  Others taught school to supplement their income at different points in their lives.  There were some who helped to establish schools.  And many, many who just went to school.

wren-0025-f-v01But, this week, I want to introduce you to Mildred WrenYou’ve already seen a picture of her and the rest of her family when I talked about her little sister Marion Wren.  Mildred was the eldest of the four children of Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson Wren.  Sam and Pearl were married on 21 February 1900 in Laneburg, Nevada County, Arkansas.  Mildred was born nine months and three days after that on 24 November 1900!  After Mildred came her sisters, Norvelle and Marion, followed up by her little brother Hudson, my grandfather.

The Wren kids all went to school out in the country.  I don’t remember a lot of stories about being in school.  Based on Mildred’s 1912 report card, I get the impression that she made her way through, but wasn’t that excited about it.

wren-docs-0002-f-v01She studied Arithmetic, Grammar, Geography, Reading, Spelling, and Physiology.  She was also graded on Deportment, which, not surprisingly, she excelled.  Her grades overall, however, were nothing to write home about.

In the fall, she had a lot of half-days where she missed school, probably to help out on the farm, since she would have been almost twelve years old.

At the end of the 1914 school year, Mildred had completed what was required to get her Pupil’s Certificate for completing the course of study of the Common Schools of the State of Arkansas.  That would mean that she had completed the 8th grade.  Her 8th grade teacher, who signed her certificate was Glen D. Suttonwren-docs-0345-f-v01Glen, as it turns out, was both a career teacher and a the wife of Mildred’s cousin.  Glen Sutton was born in 1893 in Sutton, Nevada County, Arkansas.  She married James Edgar “Edgar” Wren, Mildred’s cousin, in 1915, just the year after Mildred finished her class.  Glen taught school for thirty years, herself, according to notes that Mildred made.

wren-0574-f-v00-Midred-Henry-1918Before too long, Mildred met a dashing young guy, Henry Whitten.  They fell in love and married.  The two of them were made for each other.  Both always had a twinkle in their eye and some kind of mischief in mind.  They married in 1920 and were together until Henry’s death in 1979.  When they first married, they had a house out in the country.  Later on, after Mildred’s parents and sister had moved closer into the town of Prescott, Henry built a house for them across the highway from her parents.  They were always a close family.

 

I’ve always loved how Mildred worked so hard to record memories.  She has notebooks wren-0192-f-v02and notebooks of the lives of her family – uncles, aunts, cousins, and all of their children.  She kept scrapbooks of all of the cousins’ children, though she and Henry never had any of their own.  She had lists of all of her family’s birthdays, anniversaries, and dates of death, along with the same thing for her friends.

She made notes on her photos to capture the moment as well.  For example, in 1934, she made a note on the picture above that she made the dress she is wearing as well as Henry’s overalls that he’s wearing.  Mildred and Henry never had money to speak of, so the made do – making what they needed, raising a fabulous garden, and raising cattle on their farm.

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In 1965, Mildred and Henry went to Glen & Edgar Wren’s Golden Wedding reception, held at the home of another cousin, Willard Wren.  Yes, that Glen.  Glen Sutton Wren.  Mildred’s 8th grade teacher.   Glen & Edgar even went on to have a daughter named Mildred Wren.

But, back to school.  Early in their marriage, Mildred and Henry, like many young people starting out in their lives and their married lives, took up school teaching in the country.  Mildred and Henry both were licensed teachers for both primary and high school through the late 1920s at least.  They taught school in little country schools – Holly Springs and Thomasville, in particular.  I wish I had the years for these pictures and a list of the students, but all I have is the place.  It looks like one is Thomasville in 1923 – a girl is holding a basketball that says THS 1923.

But, you know, I came a long a long time after Mildred and Henry taught school.  By my time, they were already getting on in years.  But the twinkle and the mischief were still there.  I am sure that we will get to a story about Henry’s magic tree at some point, or about how they named the calves each season, or about all of the amazing vegetables we ate when we visited.  I remember them being so proud of their nieces, my mom and aunt, and being so proud of the next generation – my two cousins, my brother, and me.  I remember Mildred and Norvelle taking the bus from Prescott, Arkansas to Jackson, Tennessee for commencement when my Mom graduated from Lambuth College.  I remember that even when she was in the nursing home, not feeling well at all, she still had a smile and a twinkle and wanted to hear all about how you were doing rather than say how well she was not doing.

So, back to school.  Time to head back.  You never know.  You may find yourself cousin to your 8th grade teacher, find out she named her daughter for you, and end up going to her Golden Wedding reception!  Just keep a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye and mischief in your heart along the way.

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Non-Population

Week 34.  The theme this week is “Non-Population.”

For all of you who are not spending your life deep in the census, let’s start with a short bit of background.  The U.S. Constitution provides that an enumeration of all residents in the United States be taken every ten years.  That brief sentence on its own seems to cause a lot of consternation today.  I think that perhaps it has in the past, too.

So, every ten years, since 1790, people have gone out to count every resident of these United States.  Each census has collected somewhat different data.   The early censuses listed the head of each household and the number of people living there – male, female, free, slave, grouped by age category.  Starting in 1850, the census began to enumerate and list every member of the household, along with basic information about that person – name, age, gender, marital status, place of birth, etc.  Beyond that, other questions have been asked in each census.

The list of individuals is known as the Population Schedule of the census.  In addition to the Population Schedule, census takers have collected other Non-Population data primary about agriculture, manufacturing and industry, and mortality.  The National Archives has a nice article about what to expect in each of these Non-Population Schedules here.

This week, let me introduce you to Otway Licepious Bailey.  Is that a great name, or what?  Most of what I find about Otway starts in a short biography in “History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties”, published in 1895, and from his obituary, published in the Edmond Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma, 15 Oct 1814.

 

 

Uncle Otway was born 25 March 1831 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  While he was still a child, Otway and his parents, Francis Baker Bailey and Evalina Belmont Hill Bailey, moved to Arkansas.  They were in Pope County, Arkansas by 1837.  (I hope I can one day prove that they were in Arkansas in 1836 before statehood.  But that’s a task for a different day.)

Francis B. Bailey, Otway (and Hume, my great-great-grandfather)’s father, was a farmer in Pope County.  If we look in the 1850 Agricultural Schedule of the Census at Ancestry, we find …. that Ancestry shows no Agricultural Schedule for Arkansas survives.

It seems like the Non-Population Schedules were not preserved with as much care as the more critical Population Schedule.  However!  Family Search provides the actual films of the census books.  Digging in the Family History Library catalog, I was able to find partial sections of the Non-Population Schedules for Arkansas mixed in on a film with partial Mortality Schedules.  Don’t give up if you don’t find your person in the index.  In this case, I was able to find Francis listed as Francis P Bailey (as he was in the Population Schedule, with the correct family).

 

 

It looks like Francis was not what you would call the giant plantation owner.  The Agricultural Schedule says that he owned 160 acres, of which only 12 were improved (cleared for cultivation), worth just $280.  He had 3 cows, 2 oxen, and 25 swine.  And in the year preceding the census, he produced 300 bushels of Indian corn, 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 300 lbs. of butter.

Two of Otway’s older brothers headed to Texas during the days of the Republic of Texas, receiving their headright of land there by 1840.  Otway was too young to go with them, but he followed close behind.  Otway and Amanda Colvin married 8 Dec 1853 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas and they headed to Texas.  By 1856, they were living in Austin, but moved north to Dallas by the next year.

In the 1860 Census, in the Population Schedule, we find them in Farmers Branch, Texas.  Otway lists his occupation as blacksmith with $800 worth of real estate and $1000 worth of personal estate.  My hunch was that he also worked as a farmer on a relatively small piece of land.  In that area, it seemed like everyone had a farm.

So, I tried to find them in the 1850 Manufacturing and 1850 Agricultural Schedules of the Census.  No luck.  When I read the finding aid (see the link above) from the National Archives, it noted that neither farms nor manufacturing businesses that made less than $500 were typically enumerated.  Well, if he’s doing both, there’s no surprise that neither his farm nor his shop is listed.

During the Civil War, Otway’s gunsmithing abilities were put to use in the Confederate Armory in Lancaster, Texas.  His biography places him in a pretty prominent position there.  If that were true, it would be really pretty cool.  Lancaster pistols from the Confederacy are very, very sought-after by collectors.  But researching the Armory, it appears that while he may well have worked there, he was not in charge of the Armory.  However, based on his wealth after the war, he may have had some sort of prominent role there, just not one that shows up as the head of the Armory.  It does appear that he was very much involved in making the famous pistols.

After the Civil War, we find Otway and his family back in the Dallas area by the time of the 1870 census.  This time, he is listed with an occupation of Gunsmith with real estate valued at $21000 and personal property valued at $800.  That value of $21000 in real estate suggests owning land to me.  But, when we search both the Agricultural and Manufacturing schedules, Otway isn’t there.  And the 1870 Industry Schedule for Texas does not appear to be available.

In 1880, Otway and his family have moved a bit west, to Tarrant County, Texas.  This time, Otway is listed as a farmer and machinist.  And we find him in both the Manufacturing and the Agricultural Schedules.  In the Manufacturing Schedule, he owns a machine shop that employs 12 people, all of whom work 10 hours per day all year round.  The Agricultural Schedule shows that he owns 80 acres of tillable land and 180 of unimproved land, worth $3500.  He has 4 horses, 9 milch cows, and 10 other cows.  Five calves were born this year.  They made 700 lbs of butter on the farm.  He has 25 acres under tillage for Indian corn, yielding 300 bushels, 7 acres of oats yielding 100 bushels, 25 acres of wheat, yielding 260 bushels.  He has  an orchard with 30 bearing apple trees and 240 peach trees.

 

 

So, what’s the net?  Well, we do find out a bit more about Otway and his family’s life through the Non-Population Schedules.  We did not uncover a lot by way of lineage details, but we can tell more about his and his family’s life.

The fact that there are a lot of gaps in the Non-Population Schedules, and many are outright missing or partial or misfiled, means that you will have to search harder for this information.  And in the end it may not be there.  When you do find them, you find a lot of color to your ancestors’ lives. But isn’t that they way it always is in genealogy?

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Family Legend

It’s Week 33 and the theme is Family Legend.

Every family has at least one legend, one story that has been passed down without any sort of substantiation.  Folks just take them for granted and accept them as the gospel truth.

For example, nearly every family has three brothers who immigrated to the Colonies together. One went south, one went west, and one stayed along the east coast.  Almost never true.  Nearly every family has an “Indian Princess” in there somewhere (we certainly do, a couple of times).   There’s even less likelihood for there to be even a germ of truth or drop of native blood in that one.

But, here’s one that I actually tried to figure out whether or not it could be true.

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Lida Cason Higgs and Will Higgs – Wedding Photo

Meet Lida Cason Higgs.  This is her wedding photo, taken with her new husband, John William “Will” Higgs.  They were married in 1889 in Arkadelphia, Clark County, Arkansas.

Lida was a strong, strong woman.  But she came from a strong, strong family.  Her parents had gone to Africa as missionaries in 1856.  Her father served as a Chaplain and then a Captain of Infantry in the Civil War.  Her mother kept the family while her husband was away at war and while they moved across Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas serving churches and working to evangelize the Native Americans in west and central Texas.

Lida and Will and their children moved to southeast Oklahoma shortly after statehood, where Will worked in the newspaper business.  When he died at a relatively early age, leaving young children at home, Lida picked up and did what she needed to.  She taught school and continued the work at the newspaper.  When her son’s wife died shortly after the birth of her first child, Lida stepped in to help raise that little boy and to travel west with her son as he pursued work.  She just kept on through lots of difficult circumstances.

But what of the legend.  First, you need to know that Lida’s actual given name was Eliza Johnson Cason.  Where in the world did that come from?  No one in the family was named Johnson, much less Eliza.  In fact, this part of the family has had a long tradition of Betties.  Well, in Lida’s father’s Bible, there was a notation that Lida was named for the woman who nursed her father back to health after he lost his arm in the Battle of Bean’s Station in the Civil War.

Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason
Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason, Baptist missionary and preacher, Captain, 41st Alabama Infantry, CSA

That sounds like it needs a little background.  Lida Cason Higgs’ father was Rev. Jeremiah H. Cason.  J.H. Cason was born in 1832 in Wilson County, Tennessee.  He answered the call to preach when he was just nineteen years old.  He and his wife Bettie Cooper Cason were part of the first supply of missionaries that the Baptist church sent to the Yoruba Country in Africa.

After his return, he served churches in Tennessee and Mississippi.  When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a Chaplain.  After a short time, he resigned and then reenlisted in the Infantry, quickly rising to become Captain of Co. C, 41st Alabama Infantry, a part of Gracie’s Brigade.

In December, 1863, J.H. Cason was indeed a part of the Battle of Bean’s Station in east Tennessee.  And he lost his arm in this battle due to a bullet wound.  His left arm was amputated above the elbow, but he survived and lived another fifty years.  Jere Cason died in 1915 in Royse City, Texas.

So, if the notes in the Bible detailing how and where Jere lost his arm were right, could there be some truth to the idea that Eliza Johnson nursed Jere back to health?  I am not sure how certain we can be, but here’s what I have found.

The Battle of Bean’s Station took place near the town of Bean’s Station in Grainger County, Tennessee on 14 December 1863.   On a hunch, I took a look in the census for that area in 1860, as close as we can get to the date of the battle.

Sure enough, according to the Census, Larkin Johnson lives near the site of the battle and he has an unmarried 26-year-old woman, presumably his daughter, named Eliza, living in his household.  Looking backward, we find the same family in place in 1850 as well.

By looking at the estate records for Grainger County, we find that Larkin died in 1865.  In 1870, we find Eliza, still unmarried living in the household of a William Johnson who is a few years her junior.  The 1860 Census lists a William (presumably a younger brother) in the house then, too.  So it looks like Eliza is living with her younger brother and his family.  Both she and he show up on the Agricultural Schedule of the 1870 census as farm owners, presumably from the (missing) distribution of their father’s property.

In 1880, we again find Eliza, still unmarried, listed as sister-in-law to John G. Brown.  His wife is Elizabeth and there is an Elizabeth Johnson in the family in 1860.

What does all of this tell us?  Well, it can tell us that this family really is a family.  It can tell us that Eliza Johnson really lived, lived adjacent to the battlefield at the right time.  Can it tell us that she served as a battlefield nurse?  No.  Can it tell us that she tended J.H. Cason after he was wounded?  No.  Can it give us circumstantial evidence that this legend could be true?  Absolutely!  The story talks about a person that we likely have found.  And one thing I have found to be true.  When Jeremiah H. Cason wrote something down or said something, it was by-golly the gospel truth.  So, in true Mythbusters style, I would call this family legend proved “Probably True”.

Now, if I can only find those three brothers and where they went….

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Youngest

The theme for week 32 in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Youngest.

Let me introduce you to my mother’s father’s youngest sister, Marion Wren.

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In this picture, Marion is the smiling bundle of excitement on the floor in the middle of the picture.  She looks like a happy little child, doesn’t she?

Marion Wren was born 5 Jun 1904 in Sutton, Nevada County, Arkansas.  She was the third child and third daughter of Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson Wren.  Her two older sisters, Mildred and Norvelle Wren, adored her and talked about her often.

Look closely at the picture.  It looks like Pearl is pregnant.  That would be the soon to be born Henry Hudson Wren, my grandfather.  He was born 18 July 1906 in Sutton.

Little Marion’s story is short and sad.  The family lived out in the country and had fires for heat in the house.  One day in November, after her little brother, Hudson, was born, Marion was playing with the baby in his crib.  She was just two years old herself.

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I guess the crib must have been near one of the fires or stoves.  As Norvelle and Mildred told it, little Marion was leaning over the crib and her little skirt brushed through the fire, caught fire, and she was burned to death.  She died 24 Nov 1906 and was buried at Harmony Church Cemetery in Nevada County, Arkansas.

Even though she had a short life, over eighty years later, her sisters still talked about her smile.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Oldest

So, it’s the first week of August, 2018.  This blog has been neglected for far too long.

I am going to try to jump into the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, even though this is week 31.  The idea of this is to write about an ancestor each week throughout the year.  Amy Johnson Crow (http://amyjohnsoncrow.com) helps by providing a bit of a prompt each week about what to write about.  That way, this isn’t just a dry listing of birth, marriage, death and random facts.

This is Week 31 and the prompt for the week is “Oldest”.

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Rolling pin handed down through the Bailey family

I’ve been hugely blessed to be the current keeper of many family artifacts.  I think the oldest artifact that’s tied to my family history is this rolling pin.  Legend has it that it was carved from a single piece of apple wood in 1760.

It comes down through my Council line into my Bailey line, and ultimately to me.  I received it from my cousin, Michael Bailey.  His father, Norman Bailey, was the brother of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson.  Susan received it from her father, Charles Council Bailey.  Charles received it from his mother, Sarah Louise Council Bailey.

There’s where things start to get a little sketchy.  Sarah Louise Council bailey-0214-f-v00-Sarah Council Baileywas born 29 Jan 1837 in Alabama, according to family records dating from the mid- to late-1800s.  I can find her in Madison County, Alabama in 1850 in the home of her parents, Uriah Allison Council and Louisa Anna Green.

In 1858, Sarah married John Oliver Brewer in Arkansas.  How she got to Arkansas is something I have not yet really got a handle on.  Her father died in 1851.  So, between 1850 and 1858, she ended up in Arkansas, either with or without her mother.

Sarah and John had two children, a son and a daughter.  The daughter, Mary Angeline Brewer, died as an infant.  The son, Phillip Dodridge Brewer, went on to be instrumental in the creation of the Supreme Court of the new state of Oklahoma.

John enlisted with the Union Army in northwestern Arkansas, but died in hospital in Fayetteville within months.  This left Sarah a young widow with a young son.

In 1867, Sarah married Hume Field Bailey, a widower with children of his own.  Sarah and Hume had six children of their own, with Charles Council Bailey being the eldest.

But, what about the Councils?  As far as I can tell, Uriah Allison Council’s parents were Isaac Council, born 1785 in North Carolina, and Susan Allison Moore, born 1786 in North Carolina.  They were married in 1806 in Roane County, Tennessee.  Eventually, they moved down the mountain ridge from East Tennessee to northern Alabama.  I assume that the rolling pin made that same trip.

And the rolling pin?  Well, this is a family of practical people.  What would you usually do with a solid wood rolling pin that was two hundred years old?  My grandmother made biscuits with it every day I was at her house, that’s what!  I think that’s what Sarah Louise Council and all of those Councils before would have wanted.  They don’t want to sit on the mantel and be admired.  These ancestors want to be active parts of our lives.    I’m hoping that this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project will help bring more of them into our daily lives.