All My Ancestors

25 January 2008

Dinner with 4

This version of the Carnival of Genealogy asks which 4 ancestors I would invite for dinner, whether we would meet in my time or theirs, and what I would tell them. I can’t hope for my version to be as clever as The Genealogue’s conversation over pizza rolls, but I’ve chosen 4 of my ancestors that I have some questions for. We’ll meet in “my” time and it probably won’t be all that enjoyable an event for them as I plan to quiz them hard!

Jonathan Osborne (c 1771 NC-1826 NC) 3rd great-grandfather
Jonathan’s father Christopher is my brickwall–the family brickwall for over 50 years. I just want to know where he came from and why he didn’t leave deeper tracks. :-) My theory is that if I talk to Jonathan rather than his father Christopher I can find out more about the succeeding generation as well as the preceding one–conservation of resources, don’t y’know? Christopher

I want to know if Jonathan’s brother Christopher had children in his first marriage. I want to know why this Christopher’s mother-in-law, Mary Stutts Furr, disinherited her daughter, Catherine, his wife–did it have anything to do with Christopher’s first marriage or that in 1818 he moved to Alabama with other families to start Valley Creek Presbyterian Church in Dallas County, Alabama?


I want to know if Jonathan and Christopher had another sibling born after their father’s death in 1789–their father says something in his will about his belief that his wife might be pregnant. I also want to know who all his sisters married–there are names like Brown and Smith and Polk among Jonathan’s brothers-in-law and I want to know first names, marriage dates, and where this tribe ended up. Not too much to ask, do you think?

Delilah Jackson Landrum (1780 SC-1870 TX)4th great-grandmother
I’ve written about Delilah before. I first wanted to know here when I read my great Aunt Marge’s memoirs. She was writing about going to a youth camp where there were racial tensions. She was very much for accepting everyone, regardless of color or creed. She was discussing this with her father and he tells her, “You are very much like my Grandmother Delilah.” I found that statement fascinating because as far as I knew, her father, born and reared in Texas, did not have contact with his Grandmother Delilah who lived in Tennessee. On the other hand, she did spend her later years in East Texas with her youngest daughter, so perhaps he did know her. I love her self-possession when she refused to join the frenzy at the revival as I wrote about here. I have lots of questions about her Jackson family back in South Carolina, and I particularly want to know about the “Dutch fan” that her father left her in his 1817 Union County, South Carolina, will.

William Green Ball (1806 NYC-1881 IA) 4th great-grandfather

WGBDr. Ball is chosen as another bridge between generations. I definitely want to know more about his father–even though he was a young boy when his father died, he must know about his origins, and those of his mother. His parents were married in Baltimore, I think, in 1797, and then his father was a shipwright in New York City. After the death of his father, his mother and family moved to Clark County, Indiana and then some went on to Delaware County, Ohio. His sisters married well–one married twice, first to the district attorney and state congressman, and then to another attorney who was a national congressman. What was the basis of these sorts of alliances? And I also want to know what kind of medical training Dr. Ball went through–I believe he did that while he was living in Indiana, but who was his mentor and how did he come to that profession?

What can Dr. Ball tell me about his wife’s family? Why did they move from Tennessee to Indiana? Who was the minister, John M. Dickey, who appeared on so many of their records? How did his being an abolitionist fit in with their own beliefs?

It was Dr. Ball and his wife who reared their granddaughter Martha Jane after her father was killed enroute to “the West” and then her mother died shortly thereafter. How did they learn of their sons’ deaths? What were the circumstances under which those two sons were moving? Did Dr.and Mrs. Ball plan to join them in the west?

And, finally, what was the impetus for this man to move from New York City to Indiana to Missouri to Iowa to Kansas to Arkansas and then back to Iowa?

Sarah Ann Davis Anderton (1841 AL-1915 OK) Great-great grandmother
I don’t know very much about my Anderton and Davis lines from Alabama. There were about a zillion Anderton families in Marshall County and most of them were named John or James. I believe I have the right line back to a James Anderton, b. Virginia about 1760. This is not work I’ve done myself, but I believe it’s probably correct.

I don’t even have all of Sarah Ann and her husband James’ children all documented. Some of the older daughters stayed in Alabama when they came to Oklahoma after the Civil War. I always have questions about what makes a family move that far to an area that must be unfamiliar to them, not to mention what would possess them to move to the Oklahoma panhandle, aka “No Man’s Land.” Their granddaughter, my grandmother, told me that they did logging back in Alabama–they floated the logs down the river. That kind of work was certainly not a big draw here in Oklahoma. I suppose it was the opening of the land that drew them. They were still in Alabama on the 1900 census, but by 1910, they had “proved up” on their land in Beaver County, Oklahoma. I have their homestead files and they worked hard.

I found this picture of them in a county history, she’s on the left and he’s on the right. One reason she is dear to me is that she doesn’t appear to be “dainty.” :-) And doesn’t he look like the stereotypical Civil War vet?


Sarah Ann is buried out in Blue Mound Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma.Sarah's tombstone

My grandmother told me she really wanted to go back to Alabama but she died before that could happen. Her husband James got his Civil War pension here in Oklahoma– he’d served in the artillery back in Alabama. He was approved and apparently went back to Alabama. Years ago, I sent for his death certificate only to be told that it could not be located. Then a few years ago, I was at Samford Institute in Birmingham, Alabama with some friends. The husband of that group was going out to do some research and I told him if her ran across a tombstone for James Anderton, to be sure to let me know. Amazingly enough, he did. He’s been my genealogical hero ever since. James evidently died in March 1918 and he’s buried in Cochran Cemetery.

Anyway, I have lots of questions for Sarah. Her mother’s maiden name was Campbell–another name I haven’t pursued due to the overwhelming amount of info and my lack of familiarity with records in that part of the country. Her father left all of his 1868 estate, 1450 acres, to his youngest son, Joseph Montgomery Davis, with the proviso that he care for the oldest son, William B. Davis. What were the circumstances that required this sort of care? The will did not stand and the estate was eventually equally divided among the widow and 8 children, including Sarah.

So those are the folks I want to interview, two from the maternal and two from the paternal. I want them to know how much I’ve enjoyed learning more about them and how much I honor their lives and their sacrifices. It’s not surprising that I’ve already written about some of these folks–their lives and times are the targets of some of my greatest curiosity.

I don’t know yet what we’ll have to eat, but I’ll definitely cook. I’ll bet those grandmothers could use the rest.


11 January 2008

Where were they in 1908?

This is another prompt of a sort that is making the rounds of genealogical blogs. It has to do with placing our families 100 years ago. See Lisa’s 100 Years in America that started it all. See the end of the comments of her post for additional blog posts.

Here’s a photo of part of my family that must have been taken about 1908.

Cromwell Family at Poarch

Someone in my family identified the people in this photo–making allowances for corrections based on gender and age, I believe the people in this photo are, from the left, Eula Price Cromwell, Lillian Cromwell, Lida Lee Anderton (child, and my grandmother), Grace Cromwell Anderton (my great-grandmother), Daniel Webster Cromwell (my gggrandfather), Gordon B. “Jack” Cromwell, Martha Jane Ball Cromwell (my gggrandmother).

My grandmother was born in January of 1906 and this photo of her looks like she’s about 2 1/2. Uncle “Jack,” the other child in the photo, was supposedly born in March 1898–he certainly doesn’t look age 10, though I did find him listed as attending Poarch School in 1908. Grannie might be a bit older, but I thought this was an interesting picture of a century ago. I believe it was taken outside their home in the Poarch Community, Beckham County, Oklahoma. Statehood was in November 1907, so this is also just after Oklahoma became a state. The Daniel Cromwell family is enumerated in 1910 as living in the Poarch Community, Beckham County, Oklahoma. I know they were in this area by 1904 because they have a son, Burton, buried in the Poarch Cemetery in that county who died in April of that year.

It looks like Great-great Grandfather Daniel is holding a crutch. I know he had what was probably rheumatoid arthritis. I also found this blurb in the newspaper from the time that confirms his ailments:

from the Carter Express, (23 December 1910) “Mr. Cromwell is reported to be suffering very much yet. Being a cripple already with rheumatism we fear that this accident will go hard with him.”

They didn’t mince words in those days, did they?

And if you have relatives in Beckham County, let me recommend their USGenWeb page–it has lots of excellent transcriptions of early newspapers and county history. It provided lots of data for filling in between “just the facts” of dates, places and times.


16 November 2007

Happy Birthday, Oklahoma

Today is the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood. She entered the Union 16 November 1907.

That’s a pretty young state. At work, where we do lots of research for folks with ancestors in Oklahoma or Indian Territory, we spend a lot of time explaining that there just aren’t birth or death records for their family members. Vital records were supposed to be kept as statehood began, but the reality is that such records really aren’t reliable until the mid 1930s.

I usually consider myself a Texan–my dad’s family was there before statehood–the Coopers came from Tennessee in 1841–and I was born there, which makes me a 6th generation Texan. But, as I always say, I’ve lived in Oklahoma much longer than I lived in Texas.

My mother’s family was here in Oklahoma Territory before statehood, but as noted, statehood for Oklahoma is much more recent. My mother’s mother was born in what was eventually Beckham County, prior to statehood, in 1906. They had come from Alabama to file on land available south of present day Elk City, down around Mangum. Granddad was born out in Dewey County just as Oklahoma turned a year old–in 1908. His grandparents had come from Russia in 1874 to near McPherson, Kansas, and then came south to Woods County, Oklahoma Territory when that land opened for settlement.

I did find what are called “delayed birth certificates” for each of my maternal grandparents. They had filed them in the 1950s while they still lived in South Dakota. They had to have affidavits from other family members and they filled out the forms themselves–another type of interesting vital record–a birth certificate form completed by the person.

The Oklahoma Genealogical Society‘s First Families of the Twin Territories has seen a flurry of activity with people documenting and submitting their lineage from a family member who was in Oklahoma or Indian Territory prior to statehood on 16 November 1907. I submitted one side of the family early on–I only had to document back to my grandmother and that was easy. I need to get the other side done. For a while, I was stumped on finding a marriage record for my granddad’s parents, but that was finally located in Zoar Mennonite church records in Goltry.

So happy birthday, Oklahoma, and congratulations to my ancestors who braved the wind and the drought and the dust to come to settle this grand land.

No Comments »

25 April 2007

On a somewhat lighter note . . . if you’re not a chicken

One of the purposes of posting the stories from one’s families is to generate even more. And I’m thrilled to say that has happened.

Months after posting the pictures of my 4th great-grandparents I heard from a woman who had the wagon train story as part of her family lore. Her husband’s ancestor evidently purchased one of Dr. Ball’s farms in Iowa and they had handed down the story of Martha Jane’s rescue.

And after I posted the story of my great-grandmother’s suicide, I heard from my Cousin Kitty, whose mother Katie was one of my grandmother’s little sisters, who’d told Kitty a story about my grandmother’s mother-in-law. Neither Kitty nor I know the amount of truth in the story, as Kitty notes. But here’s the story she tells:

I just read your blog. My mother told me this story of your great-grand mother. My mom was only 11 when she died so I don’t know how accurate this is and may be you have been told this one too. When your grand parents were first married or just before:

Your great grand mother Unruh offered Lide (as a gift) as many chickens as she could kill and clean in a time period – don’t remember for sure but think it was a couple of hours. Thinking Lide was a “prissy” city girl her new mother-in-law was surprised when her chicken population was quite diminished at the end of the day.

For what it is worth that is the story I was told.

I don’t know why great-grandmother Matilda would have thought my grandmother Lida wouldn’t have known how to dress chickens. She was an oldest child of 12 children, was a “hired girl” in a neighborhood family, and her family, ironically enough, lived in a chicken coop–trust me, they were not city folk. They were poorer than church mice.

But the point is this is a story I’d never heard because the suicide overshadowed everthing. I laughed when I heard the story because I remembered the morning in South Dakota when I was probably about 10 or 11 when Grannie dragged me out of bed one morning to help her dress 10 chickens. She had 9 cleaned and dressed by the time I had 1 done. I guess I made a small contribution–I mainly remember the camaraderie and the lessons–we dressed them outside, going inside to heat the galvanized buckets of water and to singe off the pin feathers on her huge old O’Keefe & Merritt range.

But there was never any doubt in my family as to who was the master of the chicken and I guess she knew it at at early age.

No Comments »

18 January 2007

Two Grandmothers, a Father-in-Law, and Robert E. Lee

Today is the birth date of both of my grandmothers and my father-in-law.

As a kid, I always thought it was kind of neat that my grandmothers had the same birthday. They were not born the same year–Grandmother Osborne, my paternal grandmother, was born in 1894 near Cleburne, in Johnson County, Texas. Granny Unruh, my maternal grandmother, was born in 1906 in Oklahoma Territory in Beckham County, 1 year before Oklahoma became a state. January 19 is also the birth date of Robert E. Lee, and with a couple of grandfathers who were Confederate soldiers, her middle name was declared to be Lee in his honor. (Today was his 200th, and Gran always called him “Bobby Lee.”) Both of Grandmother Osborne’s grandfathers were Confederate soldiers as well. Her paternal grandfather and 3 of his brothers all died in the Civil War–it’s a heartbreaking story. I hoped to name a daughter Rachel after her but alas, 2 boys.

And, as it happens, the man who is my father-in-law, though I never got to meet him, was born the same day as my maternal grandmother–January 19, 1906. He was born in Texas on the same day Granny Unruh was born in Oklahoma Territory. My mother-in-law, who is now 90, used to refer to my grandparents as the “old folks.” His name was Thomas Jeptha, though he always went by T.J., and when he had to give a full name, he used Thomas Jefferson. Pick a name, any name. I think he was a bit of a character.

Guess it’s all relative.


30 July 2006

Cowgirls…from Cousin Kitty

Filed under: Anderton Family, Cousin Kitty by allmyanc

Here’s a response I got from my first cousin once removed, Kitty, about the “My Granny’s Sisters” post with the photo of my great-aunts on the horse at Knott’s Berry Farm. Kitty had the good fortune to grow up in California around the majority of my Gran’s sisters, and, of course, her mom Katie was one of them. Kitty has great stories from her life on the west coast and I’ve decided, with her permission, to just transfer some of her emails to the blog since one of the goals is to record the stories. Thanks so much for sharing your part of the family story, Kitty.


I was just visiting your blog and went to find the picture of the Girls. There is no date but my guess is that it was some time before Aunt Dude moved to Denver. As far as the horse – the last time I visited Knott’s Berry Farm was 1990 and he was still there! The “Farm” was sold to in the early 1980′s and many things have changed. The Canning Kitchen where the famous Jams and Jellies were made is gone and there is a roller coaster. The chickens for the dinners used to be brought in live every morning and prepared from the plucking to the frying right on the spot. That area is a parking lot. I hadn’t thought of it until this very minute – that must be why Mrs. Knott’s chicken dinners were so good – they were fresh!

In Ghost Town at Knotts is a one room school house (all the buildings were original – Mr. Knott would have them moved to the Farm from where ever?) On the Black Board the lessons were written. Aunt Lois was the one that did the writing long after she had left the Knott Kitchen. Mrs. Knott would call her every now and then to come re-do the board when it got smudged. I never quite got why they didn’t just have her put it on in paint. But as a kid you can bet that all my friends knew that my Aunt was the one who wrote on that board.

Many Sundays we – Aunt Inie, Mom, and all the girls would gather in the Beauty Shop and at least one of us would get a hair-do from the HEAD OPERATOR at Elois’ Beauty Shop. If there was a letter from Aunt Lide, or Dude it was read out loud and we were entertained by stories of their growing-up in Oklahoma & Texas.

I guess being an Okie and living in California was not a good image. When my parents went to get a marriage license and my mother put down the state of her birth as Oklahoma my father was surprised because she had told him she was from Texas. It became a family joke – Mom was an Okie from Texas. On one occasion it turned out not to be so funny. One of my father’s hobbies was deep sea fishing and once for vacation we drove down to Mexico where my father and brother spent the week going out on the sports fishing boat every day and us girls shopped and played in the ocean. On the way home Mom was riding in the back seat. When we stopped to cross back over the border the officer asked my father where he was born and then looked in the back seat and asked Mom where she was born. Her answer of Oklahoma made us all laugh and she had to get out of the car and explain. I guess he thought we were trying to sneak her in to the US. That was our last trip to Mexico – she refused to ever go back.

Thanks for being my blog


1 Comment »

14 July 2006

My Granny’s Sisters

Filed under: Anderton Family by allmyanc

I love this picture.

Knotts Berry Farm

I can remember seeing it at my grandmother’s house in South Dakota and not really “getting it.” What were 4 grown women doing dressed in cowboy hats on a bucking horse? (I led a fairly sheltered life, what can I say? –not to mention being a tad judgmental about what I didn’t understand.)

It’s a picture of her 4 sisters. Gran was the oldest of her family and she lived in South Dakota, moving there about 1951 from the Oklahoma panhandle. Three of her sisters lived in California, and many of her brothers. I can now see that their “migration” to the west coast was part of the many many folks who went from this part of the country to California–not exactly Okies in the John Steinbeck sense, but definitely heading west from the Depression-ridden Great Plains.

So I didn’t get to know her family very well. I can remember going to visit and being visited by some of her brothers who stayed in Texas–Uncle Rusty lived in Amarillo, Uncle Bill lived in Stinnett, and Uncle Jerry lived in Sunray (I think that was the name of the little company town). And, of course, I knew Uncle Velcie fairly well because he also lived in South Dakota.

My Gran would tell me stories about her siblings, and I think being the letter writer she was, she probably kept in pretty close touch with her sisters in California. She would tell me about them and about their kids–I got to meet some of them through the years when they went to visit “Aunt Lida.”

I knew that Auntie Lois lived in Buena Park. Truthfully, that didn’t mean much to me because I had never been anywhere west of the Texas Panhandle. I also knew she was what we then called a “beauty operator,” and that she had worked baking pies at some place called Knott’s Berry Farm. And that she “did” Mrs. Knott’s hair.

I don’t know the occasion of this picture, but it sure looks like they were having fun. And from what I’ve learned about the Anderton sibs, I think they probably were. In the history of Knott’s Berry Farm, there’s mention of this “Ghost Town” being developed so folks would have something to do while waiting to eat Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken dinner.

The only one still living is Katie, who is the one furtherest right. Auntie Lois is at the front, then Vi, known as Dude, Inez, and then Katie. Aunt Dude lived in Denver most of the time I knew her–I don’t know if she was visiting at this time or if she was then also living in California.

And then there’s the part of me that doesn’t want to think about the poor horse. It brings to mind other slightly bizarre stories about real stuffed animals–Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger and Sorrow the dog in Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire.

Or am I still just a tad judgmental?

No Comments »