Monday, January 28, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: I'D LIKE TO MEET Mary Jo

Amy Johnson Crow challenges us to remember our ancestors and their families through this task: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I completed ’52 Ancestors’ in 2014 & here I go again. This post is in response to that challenge. The topic for this week is ‘I’D LIKE TO MEET.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: I’D LIKE TO MEET


Mary Josephine Mullane Coyle

My Great Grandmother
1867 Ireland – 1927 Bronx, NY
52 Ancestors in 52 WeeksDaughter of Daniel & Brigid (English) Mullane
Married 1895 NY City to Michael Coyle



I’D LIKE TO MEET Mary Jo. She died just three months before my mother was born. Over time I have uncovered many facts about her life. I know she was born in Ireland and came here in 1885. I know when she was married and the names & birthdays of her seven children. But I’d like to know more than mere facts.

I would cover my table with the Irish linen tablecloth and set it with the delicate china plates and tea cups, all of which I inherited from her daughter. I'd brew some Irish tea; I'd lean in and look into her eyes and ask her what it was like to pack her trunk and say good-bye to her brothers, sisters and her parents when she left Ireland. Was she excited about the adventure or was she desperate to find a job opportunity? Did it cross her mind that she would not return to that beautiful green country for many years? 

I’d pour us another cup of tea and I’d ask her about meeting Michael Coyle. Her youngest daughter told me that Mary Jo & Michael were living in the same boarding house and they met on a staircase where it was love at first sight. What was the courtship like? What was it like to get married in New York with her family far across the ocean?

I’d ask her what it was like to be the mother of seven children in New York City in the early 1900s. Her mother was across the ocean. She could not even pick up a phone and call her mother to ask how to handle potty training or how to get her children to sleep through the night. Who did she turn to when she had questions about childbirth and child rearing? Her cousin, who had from Ireland with her had no children. What was motherhood like at that time? What were her fears for her children and her joys? I’m sure it was both different and the same as my days of child rearing. I’d like to hear about the times Mary Jo thought were most precious. What was my grandmother, her oldest child, like as a child, a teenager and as a young woman?

I’D LIKE TO MEET Mary Jo to learn more about her life between the facts and I’d like to tell her about my life. I am now older than she ever became. I can tell her how joyous it is to be a grandmother, something she never achieved. It would be nice to sit and sip tea and share some Irish brown bread and talk about life. 


This china once belonged to Marion Coyle McCall. 
It was a gift from her sisters when she married James J. McCall in 1931.


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Friday, January 25, 2019

Keith Alford's 1st Birthday, 1943 MS

This delightful newspaper article about a little boy's first birthday is packed with genealogy information. It gives information on his parents, grandparents and a great grandmother.




Keith Alford, young son of Captain and Mrs. P. K. Alford, will be on year old Tuesday, January 26, and in celebration of the event, his mother invited members of the immediate family to visit with them for the day Sunday. All enjoyed a delicious dinner together at this time. The dinner was served at the home of Keith’s great grandmother, Mrs. Sam Woodruff, at the Woodruff home where Mrs. Alford and son have an apartment. Guests for the event, in addition to Keith’s mother, his grandmother, Mrs. Vera Dodds, and great grandmother, Mrs. Woodruff, were Mr. and Mrs. George H. Alford of Progress, paternal grandparents, and Mrs. Mildred Ellzey, aunt of the little boy.

Young Keith was born after his father, Captain Percy K. Alford, left the United States for service with the Marine Corps for duty across the seas. Captain Alford has not yet had the privilege of seeing his fine young son.

Source: Keith Alford Has Family Celebration for His First Birthday. (McComb, MS: Enterprise-Journal, 26 Jan 1943) 3; digital image, Newspapers.com: accessed December 2018. 





Monday, January 21, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: UNUSUAL NAME, Appollonia

Amy Johnson Crow challenges us to remember our ancestors and their families through this task: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  I completed '52 Ancestors' in 2014 & here I go again. This post is in response to that challenge. The topic for this week is ‘UNUSUAL NAME’.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: UNUSUAL NAME


Appollonia Dick Wolf

My 5thGreat Grandmother
14 August 1738, born at Sea – c 1791 PA
Daughter of Johan Adam Dick & Anna Ottilla Knack
Wife of Johann Jonas Wolf





I am intrigued with my 5thgreat grandmother, beginning with her unusual name and the fact that she was born at sea while her parents were crossing the Atlantic from Germany to Pennsylvania. They were onboard the ship, Rob & Alice, with their daughter, Elisabeth Margretha Dick, 6 years old; Maria Christina Dick, 4 years old; and Maria Juliana Dick, 2 years old, when the new daughter was born. They arrived in Philadelphia on 11 September 1738.[i]

Appollonia married Johann Jonas Wolf. They lived in the Berwick Township. He served in the Revolutionary War, as a second Lieutenant in the 5thCompany, 8thBattalion of the York County Militia.[ii]

The couple had ten children.

Jacob Wolf b 1762 PA
Appollonia Wolf b 1763 PA
John Wolf b 1767 PA
Catherine Wolf b 1770 PA
Adam Wolf b 1773 PA
Johan Jonas Wolf b 1775 PA
Christianna Wolf b 1776 PA
John Frederick Wolf b 779 PA
Maria Elizabeth Wolf b 1782 PA
Andrew Wolf b 1787 PA

 They are buried in Emanuel Reformed Church Cemetery, Abbottstown, Adams, PA.

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[i]Wolfe, J. Arthur. Jonas Wolf of Berwick Township, York County, Pennsylvania: A History and Genealogy of a Colonial Ancestor and Some of His Descendants. Privately Published: 1987. Copy of book owned by York County Heritage Trust, 250 East Market Street, York, Pennsylvania.
[ii]Young, Henry James. Genealogical Reports for the Historical Society of York County, evidences of the Wolf Families of York County before the year 1950. Volume XX. The Historical Society of York County, 1938. . Copy of book owned by York County Heritage Trust, 250 East Market Street, York, Pennsylvania.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

Obituary: Mittie Fortenberry Simmons, 1940 MS

Mittie Fortenberry Simmons
15 July 1894 MS – 24 August 1940 MS

Daughter of William Jackson Fortenberry & Canolia A.  Simmons
Wife of Ora L. Simmons

Photograph from Find A Grave
Memorial #165881938


Last Rites for Mittie Simmons

47-Year-Old Wife of Ora L. Simmons Died at Hazelhurst Home. Mrs. Mittie Fortenberry Simmons and daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Jack Fortenberry, of the Silver Springs community, died at her home in Hazelhurst on Saturday, August 24, after an extended illness.

Funeral services were conducted by the Rev. J. B. Cain, of Hazelhurst, and the Rev. A. E. Pardue, of the Magnolia Baptist church, in the Baptist church of Hazelhurst. Internment followed in the Magnolia cemetery. 

Besides her husband, Mrs. Simmons is survived by two daughters, Mitzie Lee and Pattie, and two sons, Ora, Jr. and Andrew Glen; four sisters, Mrs. Lelia Denman, Franklinton, La.; Mrs. Myrtis Dodds, Meadville; Mrs. Sara Steinbrenner, Atlanta, Ga., and Mrs. Wanzie Tuttle, Birmingham, Ala.; five brothers, Furman, Glenn, Sheldon Fortenberry, of Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Andrew Fortenberry of Morgan City, La.; Victor Fortenberry, Washington, D. C.; and Lane Fortenberry of Detroit, Mich.; one sister-in-law, Mrs. E. J. Simmons, of Magnolia; and a brother-in-law, Hansford L. Simmons of McComb. 


Source: Last Rites for Mittie Simmons (McComb, MS: McComb Daily Journal, 27 Aug 1940) 1; digital image, Newspapers.com: accessed July 2018.






Monday, January 14, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: CHALLENGE

Amy Johnson Crow challenges us to remember our ancestors and their families through this task: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  I completed '52 Ancestors' in 2014 & here I go again. This post is in response to that challenge. The topic for this week is ‘CHALLENGE.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: CHALLENGE





Researching the surname BROWN is a CHALLENGE. I believe I can go into any library, select a genealogy reference book off a shelf and find Brown in the index. The name is too common. 

The problem is I must find the Browns who connect to my family. I have added 159 Browns to my Family Tree Maker program. They are spread over time, beginning in 1730 to today. They are spread over several states: North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio and New York. They have been farmers, mechanics, millwrights, soldiers and more.

Therefore, it is difficult to eliminate Browns who do not connect. I need to read through all those reference books & look at the details before I can find thecorrectBrowns. 

If there is a unique Brown who went his own, who started a branch of the family in a different state, it is likely I will not find him. 

Researching for Brown, my maiden name, is definitely a CHALLENGE.


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Thursday, January 10, 2019

1936 Alford Family Reunion, Mississippi

This newspaper clipping was a great find. The report of this family reunion gives information on several family members.

Alfords Meet in Reunion at Camp Ground.
Topisaw Scene of Festival as Descendants of Famous Family Reunite.




Aug. 17 (Special) – Needham E. Alford of Holmesville [Needham Edwin Alford, 1845-1937], a man who has four sons in the ministry and who lacks only two months of being 91 years of age, was guest of honor at the Alford family reunion here.

In 1881 B. S. [Barnabas Seaborn] Alford (father of L. E. [Lucius Edwin] Alford of Port Gibson, Miss.), his brother, Leander Alford, and their father, S. J. [Seaborn John] Alford, joined in building a frame tent that the families might be represented at the first meeting after the Civil War. This cabin has been kept on this spot for fifty-five years as a place of reunions, and Mr. and Mrs. Norman Alford brought the 1936 reunion about.

Mr. Needham Alford’s sons in the ministry are J. M. [Joseph Martin] and J. A. [Jason Abraham] Alford of the Louisiana Conference, L. F. [Louis Flemon] Alford of the Mississippi Conference, and C. W. [Caldwell Wellman] Alford of the Florida Conference.

At the reunion 

·     N. N. [Needham Nugent] Alford, a son of S. J. [Seaborn John] Alford and a half brother of the B. S. [Barnabas Seaborn] Alford, was present, with one son, Percy Alford;
·     Also Charley Edna Lewis, daughter of Emma Alford Lewis [daughter of Seaborn John Alford];
·     Robert S. Alford and wife of McComb,
·     J. M. [Joseph Martin] Alford, wife and two children of Tylertown;

Also the following descendants of B. S. Alford:
·     James B. Alford [James Barney Alford b c 1871 MS] and wife, 
·     L. W. [Lewis Wesley Alford, b c 1875] Alford and wife,
·     Norman Alford [b c 1880] and wife and sons, Mason and George, all of McComb;
·     Luke E. Alford [Lucius Edwin Alford b c 1873] of Port Gibson;
·     Dr. C. B. Alford, wife and son, L. E. Alford of Columbia;
·     Mr. and Mrs. D. M. Hayes of New Orleans (Mrs. Hayes being the youngest child and only daughter of B. S. Alford). [Carrie Mabel (Alford) Hayes b c 1886]

In commenting on this joyous reunion, L. E. [Lucius Edwin] Alford said, “The best of good things to eat spread on the dining room table added much to the joy of the occasion and showed that the depression was a thing of the past.”

My notes are in green. I changed the format of the article to list the names.

Source: Alfords Meet in Reunion at Camp Ground. (McComb, MS: Enterprise-Journal, 17 Aug. 1936) 1; digital image, Newspapers.com: accessed September 2018.




Monday, January 7, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: FIRST Birthday of the Century

Amy Johnson Crow challenges us to remember our ancestors and their families through this task: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  I completed '52 Ancestors' in 2014 & here I go again. This post is in response to that challenge. The topic for the first week is ‘FIRST’.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: First Birthday of the Century

Mary Polly Spurlock Brown

My 3rdGreat Grandmother
1 January 1800 GA – 12 January 1888 MS

Mary is appropriate to be FIRST in this challenge because she was born on the FIRST day of 1800; the FIRST day of the new year and the FIRST day of a new century. She is the FIRST name on the Family Calendar that I make each year. 

I know very little about her. I have never been able to uncover the names of her parents or siblings. I only know her in relation to her husband, Edward Stewart Brown and their five children. Here is their story.




Edward Stewart Brown was born 26 July 1806 in Liberty County, Georgia. He was the son of Moses Brown and Sarah (Robertson) Brown and the grandson of Edward and Jemimiah Brown. By the time he was six years old his father had moved the family from Georgia, through the Creek Nation’s Territory to Marion County, Mississippi.
            When he was a boy he inherited a portion of his maternal grandmother’s estate. Then he inherited a portion of his maternal uncle’s estate. Unfortunately there are not details of the contents of those estates. 
            About 1835 Edward married Mary Polly Spurlock who was born 1 January 1800 in Oglethorpe, Georgia. Together they lived in Amite County, Mississippi where, in 1836, Mary gave birth to three children. On 26 January 1836 she gave birth to her first child, Allen Moses Brown. On 15 December 1836 she gave birth to twin girls, Martha M. Brown and Mary Magdelene Brown. They would later have two more children.
            Edward purchased 153.39 acres of land along Robinson Creek on 10 November 1840.[i]He was able to purchase the land because of the Cash Entry Act of 24 April 1820.[ii]

The Cash Entry Act of April 24,1820 (3 stat. 566) allowed the outright purchase of federal land. It also reduced the minimum size of the tract from 160 to 80 acres (647,000 to 324,000 m²). Additionally, the act required a down payment of $100 and reduced the price from $1.65 to $1.25 per acre.[iii]

The certificate for the land patent was signed by President Martin Van Buren.[iv]The certificate describes the location of the land.

For the East – half of the North East quarter and the West half of the South East quarter of Section seventeen in Township three of Range five East, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Washington, Mississippi, containing one hundred and fifty three acres and thirty nine hundredths of an acre according to the official plat of the survey of the said Lands, returned to the General Land Office by the Surveyor General which said tract has been purchased by Edward Stewart Brown.[v]

At the same time Edward purchased 118.33 acres, located in section nine of Washington, Amite, Mississippi.[vi]Looking at a map shows Edward’s plots of land are near each other. Drawing a diagonal line from southwest to northeast would connect the four plots. Today State Highway 569 comes close to those properties. [vii]
In 1845 and 1853 Edward S. Brown was in the Mississippi Census. In 1845 there were seven males and four females in the family and in 1853 there were three males and four females in the family.[viii]The 1850 U. S. Census details the members of this family in Amite County. Edward was a 46-year-old farmer whose real estate was valued at $720. Mary was 47 years old. By that time Edward and Mary had five children who were all living at home: Allen Moses Brown, Mary Magdelene Brown, Martha M. Brown, Adeline Julia (Brown) Westmoreland and James Pascal Brown.[ix]
            Edward S. Brown died 7 May 1856 in Mississippi. In 1860 his widow, Mary was still in Amite County. Both her sons were with her. Allen Moses Brown and his wife, Emmaline, were both living there. Mary was shown as the head of the household with the real estate valued at $2,000 and her personal estate was valued at $9,000. Allen was a planter whose personal estate was valued at $600.[x]
Tragically, Mary outlived her children. In 1862 James was killed in the Civil War.[xi]Adeline Julia (Brown) Westmoreland died 8 August 1864. Allen Moses Brown died between 1870 and 1880. [It is unknown when twins, Mary and Martha, died.] Where Mary lived after 1860 is unknown. Mary died 12 January 1888 in Osyka, Pike, Mississippi.[xii]







[i]Boyd, Gregory A. Family Maps of Amite County, Mississippi. Deluxe. Norman, Oklahoma: Arphax Publishing Co., 2006.
[ii]US Dep. Of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Certificate #4522, Accession MS0440.055, 10 November 1840; glorecords,blm.gov; Edward S. Brown in Amite Co., MS.
[iii]US Dep. Of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Certificate #4522, Accession MS0440.055, 10 November 1840; glorecords,blm.gov; Edward S. Brown in Amite Co., MS.
[iv]US Dep. Of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Certificate #4522, Accession MS0440.055, 10 November 1840; glorecords,blm.gov; Edward S. Brown in Amite Co., MS.
[v]US Dep. Of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Certificate #4522, Accession MS0440.055, 10 November 1840; glorecords,blm.gov; Edward S. Brown in Amite Co., MS.
[vi]US Dep. Of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; Certificate #4523, Accession MS0440.056, 10 November 1840; glorecords,blm.gov; Edward S. Brown in Amite Co., MS.
[vii]Boyd, Gregory A. Family Maps of Amite County, Mississippi. Deluxe. Norman, Oklahoma: Arphax Publishing Co., 2006.
[viii]MS State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792 - 1866, microfilm V229.1; ancestry.com; Edward S Brown in Amite Co 1845 & 1853.
[ix]1850 US Census, MS, Amite Co; Roll M432-368.  Line 30. E S Brown family.
[x]1860 US Census, MS, Amite, Liberty; M653-577, National Archives. Mary Brown and children. 
[xi]Bradshaw, Jim. ‘Battle of Baton Rouge’, KnowLA, Encyclopedia of Louisiana; knowla.org.
[xii]Criminger, Adrianne Fortenberry, The Fortenberry Families of Southern Mississippi(Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1984).

Friday, January 4, 2019

Never Underestimate a Library

Photo from the Rappahannock Library

I love libraries. You never know what treasures you will find in libraries until you go inside. Of course, I often use online resources for genealogy and history research but when I can hold a book in my hand and discover what I need in its pages, I am extra happy.

I live in New York State but am often in Virginia. Why? Two reasons: our two little grandsons live in Virginia. [Of course, I visit our daughter and son-in-law too. Ha!] I try to lend a hand when I am there. I sometimes drive our older grandson to Preschool.  While he is learning I go to a nearby library.


The library is small and quiet. It is a perfect place for me to spread out my notebooks and laptop on a wooden table and dive into writing my most recent genealogy book, ‘Our Brown Roots’. Before I know it, it is time for me to go pick up our grandson and hear about his day’s activities.

Now it is time for a true confession. At first, I was just using the library as a quiet place to write. Then I thought: I wonder if there are any books on Virginia’s early history here? Several branches of my ancestors lived in the Virginia Colony. Of course there were books!



Here are three books that taught me about the early history and gave me details on everyday life in the Virginia Colony. These books gave me terrific details for my book in progress. 


·     Andrews, Matthew Page. Virginia, the Old Dominion; Volume I (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, 1949).
·     Billings, Warren M. The Old Dominion in the seventeenth Century: A Documental History of Virginia, 1601 – 1689(Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1975).
·     Torpey, Dorothy M. Hallowed Heritage: The Life of Virginia(Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1961).


Then I saw a section of the library called ‘Special Collection’. I found more great books including these:


·     Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants(Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1982).
·     Smith, Annie Laurie Wright. The Quit Rents of Virginia, 1704(Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1980). 
·     Torrence, Clayton. Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800 (Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1981).


The Quit Rents of Virginia definitely includes my ancestor, John Alford, 1645 VA – 1710 VA, who was in New Kent, Virginia in 1704 where he had 240 acres of land. The other two books include my surnames in their index. I photocopied several pages and will investigate those carefully.

Next time I am in Virginia I will explore the Rappahannock Library again and I’m sure I will find more treasures. Remember,


Never Underestimate a Library!