Sunday, October 15, 2017

Leander R. Alford Dead

This obituary actually holds little information about the deceased. It gives his age but not his birth date or place or his parents. It does not give his education or occupation. We know he left a wife but not her name.

The obituary mentions an “only brother”. There were seven children of Seaborn John Alford and Mary Catherine Felder. Leander had four brothers. I believe the obituary meant that B. S. [Barnabas Seaborn] Alford was the only living brother.

Leander Raiford Alford
1832 MS – 1911 MS
s/o Seaborn John Alford

McComb, Miss. Sept. 4. – The remains of Leander R. Alford, one of this county’s oldest and most respected citizens who died at his home near Johnston Station Friday evening at the advanced age of 78 years, was brought here Saturday and interred in the City cemetery. He leaves an aged wife and daughter, Mrs. J. W. Kinnebrew, of New Orleans, whose husband, until his retirement a few years ago, was one of the oldest passenger conductors on the I. C. railroad, also two sons, Robert Alford, for many years a freight conductor, and Hon. J. M. Alford, a promising young lawyer of Tylertown. Deceased also left an only brother, B. S. Alford of this place, father of J. B. Alford, of the firm of Denman & Alford, Rev. L. E. Alford, a Methodist preacher and Norman Alford, assistant cashier of the first National Bank.

Leander R. Alford Dead. (Jackson, MS: Jackson Daily News, 4 Sept. 1911) 3; digital image, accessed 4 Sept. 2017.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Top 10 Surnames

Family Tree Maker is the program I use to organize my genealogy information. Using this program I can print out various reports on the data I input. The information below came from the Surname Report, sorted by surname count.

                                    Total   Male    Female            Earliest           Most Recent
ALFORD                           377     221     154                 1645               1995

RITTER                            350     210     139                 1710               1967

BRUMFIELD                      348     198     150                 1720               1954

FORTENBERRY                  334     194     138                 1772               1979

SMITH                              243     121     121                 1756               1993

WOLF                              199      113     85                   1694               1911

BROWN                           154      87       64                   1730               2011

ELLZEY                           117      66       51                   1796               1980

MARK                              100      58       42                   1812               1979

OTT                                  95      56       38                   1666               1919

Note: The number of males + females does not always = total. There are many infants or children who died young and no first name or sex was recorded.

It is interesting that the common surnames Brown & Smith are not #1 & #2 on this list. It is precisely because they are so common that it makes it harder to claim an individual. If I find Adolphus Ott in rural LA in the mid 1850s I can be confident he is mine because that is an unusual name. But it is much harder to find the correct John Brown at the same time and place because there are many with that name.

Follow the links connected to each Surname to my website for more information on each family.

All of these surnames are on my father's side of the family tree. My mother's family is much smaller.

What are your Top Surnames?

Related Posts:

Friday, October 6, 2017

Various Branches of my Tree Met in 1868

Our research usually finds our family members in isolation. In a census record we might find relatives in neighboring homes. A birth or marriage record might show more than one generation. When I came across this newspaper article it did not stand out because of the meeting it described but because many of those who attended come from various branches of my family tree. Fathers and sons, and brothers who were interested in agriculture came together. Men from various branches of my tree, men whose lives I have traced came together. They sat together, shared their thoughts and perhaps sipped coffee. It is not surprising that they spent time together. They were neighbors. They intermarried. They had much in common. And now I have evidence that they did get together.

“A meeting of many citizens was held at the residence of Dr. J. J. Alford…22 July 1868 for people interested in pomology [the science of growing fruit] and horticulture.” People from Washington parish, LA and neighboring counties in MS were welcome to join the meeting. They planned to meet monthly to discuss pomology and horticulture.

A list of attendees was included and several are members of our family tree. Several others are most likely family members but I cannot definitely connect them at this time.

Note: I have added family information after the names of attendees. This was not included in the newspaper.

Dr. J. J. Alford             1830-1914; son of Edwin Barksdale Alford

Ira. P. Alford                1822-1901; son of Edwin Barksdale Alford

Edwin Alford               1792-1901; son of Jacob; m Martha Smith, d/o Wyatt

B. F. Ellzey                  1827-1904; Benjamin Franklin Ellzey; son of John

J. S. Ellzey                   1829-1874; John Ellzey; s/o John; m. Saryntha Smith, d/o  Wyatt

G. C. Fortenberry        1805-1884; Gasua Chapman Fortenberry; son of William J.

W. F. Fortenberry        1840-1906; William Franklin Fortenberry; son of Gasua

Wyatt Smith                1809-1844; son of Jeremiah; m. Euseba Fortenberry, d/o Gasua

T. J. Tynes                   1823-1900; Tyra Jennings Tynes; m Harriet Alford, dau. of Edwin B.

[Edwin Barksdale Alford & Wyatt Smith are two of my 3rd great grandfathers.]

A second newspaper article, written the following year is evidence that the group continued to meet. “We are glad to see our native farmers and planters are striving to change the old ways for new, where it is found that the old ways wear out the land, or are circuitous or slow, and that the new improve the land and bring the cultivator with rapidity to abundant enjoyment of its fruits.” The second article mentions Dr. J. J. Alford but does not list all the members of the group.

  • Agricultural Meeting, Osyka. (New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Times, 8 August 1868) 3; digital image, Genealogy Bank: accessed September 2017. 
  • Agricultural Progress. (New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Times, 5 December 1869) 2; digital image, Genealogy Bank: accessed September 2017.

          Are you related to these families? Let's talk.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Walter Thomas Ott, Pioneer, Farmer & Mason

I get excited when I find an old local history book that mentions someone from my family tree. I like reading the family details and the language of the reports. This cousin was not just a farmer. He "devoted his entire life to agricultural pursuits". 

Walter Thomas Ott

2 Apr 1850 LA – 29 Jan 1948 LA
Son of Charles Ott & Margaret Tate
My 1st cousin 4x removed

Walter Thomas Ott, a farmer residing at Mount Hermon, Washington parish, and one of the pioneer settlers of this section of the state, was born April 2, 1850, at the place which is still his home. His father, Charles Ott, a native of South Carolina, devoted his entire life to agricultural pursuits and prior to the Civil War was the owner of a large number of slaves. He died in 1867, at the age of sixty-nine years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Margaret Tate, was a native of Virginia and died when her son Walter was quite young. Her father was a captain in the French army and her grandfather was one of the bodyguards of George Washington.

            Walter T. Ott acquired his education in the schools of Washington parish but put aside his textbooks at an early age to assist in the cultivation of the home farm, to which he gave his attention until twenty-seven years of age. He then began farming on his own account and has always continued to cultivate the soil, producing substantial crops as the result of his close application and untiring industry.

            Mr. Ott was married to Leah Dicy McGehee, who was born in Washington parish, December 25, 1855, and died in 1913, at the age of fifty-eight years. They had a family of seven children, namely: McGehee Walter; Mary Edith; Harvey D., who is deceased; John M.; Angus; George H.; and Nellie.

            Mr. Ott is fond of music, getting great delight from the art. He is a member of the Methodist church and since 1872 has been a loyal exemplar of the teachings of the Masonic fraternity. His has been a well spent life and he is widely known throughout Washington parish, where he has many friends, most of whom call him “Uncle Walt.” His genial disposition and kindly spirit have gained him the good will, the confidence, and high regard of all who know him.

Source: Williamson, Frederick W. and George T. Goodman, Eastern Louisiana, A History of the Watershed of the Ouachita River and the Florida Parishes (LA: The Historical Record Assoc., undated) 786-7; digital image; Genealogy Gophers ( accessed Aug. 2017).