28 April 2013

Military Monday--Thomas Gardner Bartlett

 Thomas Gardner Bartlett was a Civil War soldier who was organized as part of the 8th Virginia Cavalry, Company C. They called themselves the Grayson Cavalry after their home county of Grayson, Viriginia, and were mostly assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia.

8th VA Cavalry's operations were largely centralized around western Virginia and eastern Tennessee. They also participated in the Shenandoah Valley campaigns of 1864. Specifically they were a part of Jubal Early's campaign to sweep the Shenandoah Valley and remove the Union forces.

And, as an item of interest, Thomas got to do all of this--on a horse.

(Which is to say, I never knew that a cavalry meant being on horses until I looked it up in conjunction with this research.)

The documents in Thomas Bartlett's file reveal that he served throughout the war as a teamster.

He was away without leave from 26 June-15 September 1864, and was wounded on the 19th of September, as it appears, almost immediately following.

This document states that he was among Prisoners of War who were surrendered by General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. However, the National Park Service website says that his regiment had already cut through the Union lines and disbanded, and weren't surrendered at this time. The site also says that the 8th VA Cavalry participated in the Appomattox Campaign. I wonder if he had been previously captured and was then released with the surrender. I have no other documentation to clue me in as to when or where he was captured. But I do know that he survived the war and it was victory he and his family never forgot.

As you can see at the top of his headstone, he has a round emblem with a cross in the center. It's called the Southern Cross of Honor. It is a spin-off of the Confederate Medal of Honor, an official wartime medal for honorable military service to the Confederacy.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy created the Southern Cross of Honor specifically to mark the Confederate soldiers and veterans who served honorably in the Civil War. The symbol was later adopted by the U.S. Veteran's Administration, and may only be used on the headstones issued to Confederate veterans.

I am not sure if Thomas did something which brought his service some sort of special recognition, or if this symbol can simply be allotted to any veteran from the Confederacy. I would love to find out more. At any rate, he risked his life to protect his homeland, which I'm sure was always near to his heart because the Shenandoah Valley really isn't far from where his family was living, waiting and wondering if husband and father would come home alive.

Thanks to the good people at Fold3.com, I have these documents. They've helped me to form new questions for further research to know this man and the powerful history woven endlessly throughout his life.


Fold3.com is an excellent resource of military records who have done us all a great service by giving away Civil War records for the month of April.

I decided to take full advantage of the offer and downloaded probably close to 75 images for all of my Civil War veterans. Needless to say, I have quite a few men that fit that description.

One I have previously mentioned is John M. P. Clark. I was able to find all of the supporting documentation for his presence in the 61st Tennessee regiment, and as a Prisoner of War from the Battle of Vicksburg.

What was really nice to add to my information was his rank--a 2nd Lieutenant.

Included in the documents are several identical copies of several reports which give his status--whether absent, on furlough, sick, or present and accounted for. I've decided to include the items of greatest interest.

I can't really imagine what it would be like to go to war--let alone to have enemy officers forcing me to sign a paper to indicate my own surrender, after I've already suffered all manner of fatigue and starvation.

This last document was the last one included in his file. I don't know exactly what this meant for his military involvement, if it truly did end at this point in 1863. But it has been a real privilege to discover that I have a personal connection to someone who was a part of history like this.

I have veterans in my family from every major conflict the United States has ever fought. I look forward to exploring the documents I've gathered so far. I never imagined the rich story they could reveal about the lives and struggles of my ancestors. Names of battles and dates of conflict have never felt like such a part of me before, and I look forward to what else I can learn from studying these military records in-depth.


“We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living. 
“Yet there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets. … 
“I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.” 
Howard W. Hunter

Drop the Mic!

Today I did something a little different. I made a Dead End List, in which I wrote down all of my ancestors that have been dead ended for far too long. Then underneath each name, I wrote the greatest road block and the next step for each person. I was totally honest with myself and came up with a list of seven people, all women.

  • Mary McDaniel
  • Lillian Belle Bennett
  • Annie G. Rorer
  • Catherine Fenity
  • Sarah Ann Bartlett
  • Birdie M. Doyle
  • Lavina F. Loveless

The consensus for most of them was that I needed to start searching for marriage records, or do more research on children or siblings to find any missing information. So I went to Familysearch.org to search among the freebie records to see what I could find.

I discovered a marriage record for Mary's daughter Vestena, which brings me one step closer to finding her. Searches for her other children yielded no results for now.

Sarah Ann wasn't hard to find. Her marriage record to Thomas Gardner Bartlett appeared almost immediately, revealing that her maiden name is Wright. Included on the record were her parents Richard and Mary Wright, and her line continues to move.

But the victory of the day BY FAR was Birdie M. Doyle.

Doyle is her married name, and she has been stuck like that for YEARS! And when I say years, I'm talking since 2008. I started to lose hope that I would ever get enough information to find her parents.

So I went after records for a her oldest son, James H Doyle. And lo and behold, this was the answer I was searching for.

James Howard Doyle appeared immediately in a set of birth records from West Virginia. 

Upon further inspection of the image, I saw first that his father's full name was included. And my heart skipped a beat. Could it be that--

YES! Birdie's full name was there too! 

Birdie May Price

Price. PRICE! Talk about a pearl of great price, you fink of a last name you!

So I set off straightaway to see if I could FINALLY get a marriage record to appear, and--

DOUBLE WHAMMY! She appears!

And wouldn't you know it, that explains a lot!

I was never going to find this marriage record without Birdie's maiden name. I never would have thought to substitute Dale or Dayl for Doyle. And fortune among fortunes, Birdie's parents are included in this record too!

So, after a LONG wait and a lot of patient perseverance, George and Mary Price have finally joined my family tree.

This kind of breakthrough requires celebration. Allow me to play you the song of my people...

27 April 2013


Playlists can be great tools for helping to maintain your focus when you have to spend a long time working out a mystery. Sometimes they can even inspire us and help us to keep going by reminding us why this work matters so much to us.

This blogger recently shared her playlist, comprised of songs that all have to do with family. I have a similar playlist of my own, and I thought I'd share some of it here. 

Acoustic #3--Goo Goo Dolls

When I'm Sixty-Four--The Beatles

The River of Dreams--Billy Joel

Look at Your Life Through Heaven's Eyes--Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Diary--Alicia Keys


Grandmother Song--Vienna Teng

Belated Promise Ring--Iron & Wine

Heal Over--KT Tunstall

Another One Bites the Dust--Queen

Hymn #101--Joe Pug

All These Things That I've Done--The Killers

Chasing Pirates--Norah Jones

Nancy (with the Beautiful Face)--Frank Sinatra

Put Your Records On--Corinne Bailey Rae

In Another Life--Vienna Teng

Better Dig Two--The Band Perry

Superwoman--Alicia Keys

My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee--Rob Gardner

Just a Girl--No Doubt

Landslide--Fleetwood Mac

I'm So Tired--The Beatles

Only the Good Die Young--Billy Joel

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot--Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A Little Less Conversation--Elvis Presley

Barton Hollow--The Civil Wars

Do You Remember When?--Jack Johnson

She's Electric--Oasis

Redemption Song--Bob Marley

Patience--Guns N' Roses

Generations--Children of Eden Soundtrack 
*This one is awesome if you ever need to memorize Adam's genealogy like I had to for a Pearl of Great Price class I had at Brigham Young University*

We are the Champions--Queen

We are Pilots--Shiny Toy Guns

Waiting--Norah Jones

Forever Love (Digame)--Anna Nalick

. . .

So what's on your playlist?

Good to Know

After the massive overhaul I did about a month or so ago, I seriously needed to know how to do this and couldn't figure it out.

Now I know. And in case you use Ancestry.com and you need to know how to merge duplicates, you will too.


26 April 2013


In genealogy work, we accumulate a lot of records and images. We spend a lot of time energy making sure they're organized and labeled (like I did here) which is only appropriate.

Just as important as organizing our data is actually LOOKING at it closely. More than once. In fact, combing through the documents we've already gathered for things we might have missed is one of the great habits that separates a novice from an experienced researcher.

Why do I say that? Because I just had a very novice moment after looking at this census record.

I have this census record duplicated and labelled twice--once for James Peter Doyle, and once for William Loveless. They were neighbors in Rockingham County, North Carolina because James married William's daughter Cora.

How beautiful right? Two families, one page from a census record. All is right in the world.

Except I missed not one, but TWO pieces of vital information on this page. How unlikely, especially since I should have been twice as likely to discover it.

You will notice that in William's household, there is an older couple. The census doesn't give me a name, but they are W and M Loveless for now, respectively 87 and 70 years old.

Do they look like parents to you? Because they sure look like parents to me!

I can't tell you how long I've had William at "Brick Wall" status--only to discover today that he wasn't a brick wall at all. I just didn't realize I already had the information.

James has a similar situation in which I missed some useful information from not reading carefully enough. His unmarried sister B. Doyle lives with him. While that doesn't seem like much, it's helpful in this case because I haven't had much luck with their family. I have their father's name (Peter), no mother's information, and up until now only James. To even have one sibling's first initial will help me confirm anything that might come my way in the future.

The longer I do genealogy, the more I realize that brick walls are less a reflection of a hard problem or my inexperience, and more reflect my own poor attention to detail and lack of motivation.

Break down those brick walls y'all. The discoveries are waiting--if they haven't already found you!

Surname Saturday-Wordle

Wordle.net is a fantastic way to display your surnames in a really creative way. I did two just now--one for mom and dad both.

Genealogy--Mom's surnames

Genealogy--Dad's surnames

These can be the inspiration for so many things--especially crafts. Put them on a t-shirt for a family reunion. Put them on a tote bag for your genealogy, or a binder cover for a research notebook. Put it in a frame and hang it on the wall.

I just had the great idea to get a large decorative mirror and either use stickers or those wall adhesives to stick it to the surface. Hang it over the mantle to really show off all your hard work.

Like this one from Ikea:

Who said that genealogy can't be fun and creative?

19 April 2013

One of my favorite famous people!

I love how J.K. Rowling's presence on Who Do You Think You Are? illustrates how you can literally have it all--money, fame, and even a personal history full of success--and still have a need to know where you came from.

The desire only fades when the answers are found.

Funeral Card Friday--Michael Alan Wagner

Funeral card for Michael Alan Wagner, my mother's step-brother

16 April 2013

John M. P. Clark revisited

John M. P. Clark
John M. P. Clark has been on my mind the past few days. I have discovered quite a bit about him through my research, but only just realized I have never published nor polished those findings.

John was born 20 August 1835 in Virginia, and his life was long and full of objects of interest. As a Mason, judge/magistrate, and a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives (1893-1895, 1901-1902) his life was one of public service. However, my interest in his life brings me to his experiences as a Civil War veteran.

John enlisted in the Confederate 61st Tennessee regiment, Company H out of Claiborne County, Tennessee. His unit was assigned to General John C. Vaughn's Brigade, and remained there throughout the rest of the war.

This regiment participated in the Seige of Vicksburg in Mississippi, and the skirmishes leading up that battle. The Union advanced on Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge, culminating in the capture of over 29,000 of the Confederate forces. As a last ditch effort, Lt. General John C. Pemberton headed his remaining into the fort at Vicksburg to avoid capture and defeat.

Pemberton, trying to please Jefferson Davis, who insisted that Vicksburg and Port Hudson must be held, and to please Johnston, who thought both places worthless militarily, had been caught in the middle, a victim of a convoluted command system and his own indecisiveness. Too dispirited to think clearly, he chose to back his bedraggled army into Vicksburg rather than evacuate the city and head north where he might have escaped to campaign again. When he chose to take his army into Vicksburg, Pemberton sealed the fate of his troops and the city he had been determined to defend.
— Vicksburg, The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi, Michael B. Ballard

John Clark on Civil War POW roster
As the events of the Vicksburg siege unfolded, it becomes a horrible story of war--fighting and bloodshed during the middle of summer in the American South, insufficient rations and starvation, disease and sickness, where all while his comrades and commanding officers are either beside him in prison, or being starved out within the fort itself. My ancestor John was captured on July 4th, 1863, in circumstances so awful that I cannot begin to imagine them. Even though he was liberated the next day, all of the hardship leading up to that moment made it undeniable torture.

What went through his mind during this experience? Was he afraid for his life? Did the hunger become so powerful that the thought no longer crossed his mind? Did he suffer from malaria, dysentery, or scurvy like so many others in his ranks? How did this experience change him?

How did his perception of himself change when he actually survived it?

The battle ended with Pemberton's surrender on July 4th, 1863. John's life was spared, largely because General Grant didn't anticipate any of the men so damaged from their experience to continue fighting against them. But the 61st Tennessee regiment was reorganized to become mounted infantry and fought in the Knoxville campaign, action in the Valley of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia where it was disbanded.

John M. P. Clark headstone
Knowing this history and putting it into a fuller perspective, I can appreciate the sacrifice and story that existed for this man beneath being a politician or a Freemason. The Civil War takes on a new dimension when your ancestors are a part of it. The economics and politics finder deeper context as a good man goes to war to defend his home and family--not to mention the land on which they sat. Anyone who assumes that the heartbeat of the Confederacy was pure racism simply doesn't know history well enough. They don't understand the pain these men endured during the Civil War, and how pointless slavery had to seem during starvation, or watching your home go up in flames.

John Clark lived a long life, dying at the age of 77. He married 3 times and had a small army of children.

He won some. He lost some. He was an average man who was forever changed by extraordinary circumstances that came to define him.

I hope I get to meet him some day.

11 April 2013

Those Places Thursday--The Hilltop House

As I mentioned on Twitter, my marriage preparations are taking up a lot of my time and attention. Most of what I have to do for now is all organizational--with some occasional success, which means it's 1) necessary, 2) unexciting, and 3) time-consuming. But as I cycle through the many preparations still to go, our itty bitty budget just didn't seem like it could include one more thing--especially not a honeymoon.

Then I started thinking like a genealogist.

Going to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia is one of the few family traditions we have. My grandmother used to take my mother and the bunch to the Hilltop House, and my mother has done the same with us more than once. That was some of the best food I have in my memory.

The view from the Hilltop House grounds. I use to swing on these  as a kid

Then it hit me.

Why don't we do our honeymoon in Harper's Ferry? What better way to get a nice little getaway, and continue one of our only family traditions at the same time?

We can't stay at the Hilltop House because it is out of commission indefinitely, but there are plenty of other places to stay there close.

I'm excited!

09 April 2013

Wordless Wednesday--The Keatts Brothers


Every genealogist comes to a point where they recognize that genealogical data, although useful, is totally unappealing in its raw form. The data needs to gain a face and a voice through personal historical narrative before people will start to care about it.

My purpose for this blog was to try to create something more story oriented, and it isn't easy. Historical narratives are extremely hard to create until you get off your buns and actually start digging through... well, history.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm going back to school for this one.

So if I have to get a crash course in history to make my family history come alive, I know exactly who I need to help me.


Thank you John Green!

For the Crash Course videos on U.S. history, click here

For World History, click here

Kindness-Tombstone Tuesday

Remember this place? 

It was a recent jackpot with my lovely ancestors Stephen Bartlett and Emma McKenzie Bartlett. Well, there's a round two to this jackpot!

The pages on FindaGrave.com had links to the pages for George Washington McKenzie, Rebecca Lundy McKenzie, their son James P. McKenzie, and his wife Margaret Williams McKenzie.

That is, until I made a photo request for the four of them, and some kind soul actually went to the cemetery and took the photos for me!

George Washington McKenzie and Rebecca Lundy McKenzie headstone

James P. McKenzie headstone. Note the Southern Cross of Honor

Margaret Williams McKenzie headstone

I love you Anonymous! You make life awesome!

Here a Lundy, there a Lundy

 While searching through Google Books, I found a genealogy which provides amazing detail and biographical sketches for the ancestors of Rebecca Lundy. The Lundy Family and their Generations of Whatsoever Surname by William C. Armstrong is an invaluable resource for anyone who claims kinship to the Lundy family. This genealogy takes the history of this family to the documented reaches of the 1670's, beginning with the first Lundy in the United States, Richard Lundy I.

Richard Lundy I came to the New World from Axminster, Devon county in England. After passing through New England, he became one of the original settlers of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Along with William Penn, he belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers. He was an Elder according to the order of this religion, and many of his descendants continued in that faith for generations.

His descendants continued in Bucks County until they made their way to New Jersey. His descendants (including my ancestors Richard II and Richard III) are buried in the Hardwick Society of Friends Cemetery with their families.

Richard III's sons begin to break away from the traditions of their fathers in notable ways. His son Samuel Lundy is well-documented to have been a participant in the Revolutionary War, despite his Quaker roots. My ancestor John Lundy marries Rebecca Silverthorn and breaks away from the family group to settle in the recently-formed Grayson County, Virginia.

I love how the Census from 1820 fully reflects that the county (formed in 1793) is only 27 years old. It's little more than blank pages with hand-drawn columns on it.

John Lundy of the 1820 Census of Grayson County, Virginia

John Lundy of the 1830 Census of Grayson County, Virginia

John's son Aaron Lundy spends his whole life in Grayson County with his wife Mahala Seagur, a fact documented by a long string of census records.

Aaron Lundy on the 1850 census for Grayson County, Virginia--page one

Aaron Lundy on the 1850 census for Grayson County, Virginia--page two
Aaron Lundy on the 1860 census for Grayson County, Virginia

Aaron Lundy on the 1870 census for Grayson County, Virginia--page 1

Aaron Lundy on the 1870 census for Grayson County, Virginia--page 2

I have no burial information for John or Aaron, and would be intensely interested if someone happens to have any.

Aaron's descendants, and Armstrong's book, come to nice close with the beginnings of the McKenzie lines in my family. Aaron's daughter Rebecca marries George Washington McKenzie, of whom I have previously written.

This post has gone on long enough, but I do have some new headstone photos I scored from a very nice anonymous citizen from that part of Virginia. I am also planning to do some supplemental research on the Quakers to get a greater idea of who my ancestors were and what they believed. What was so important about their faith that they traveled across an ocean for the sake of being able to keep it?

I can't say enough good things about Armstrong's work. He goes into much greater detail than I need to here. This post is only meant to give the scope of his work, and how I've been able to substantiate every detail he has written with primary resources from several different states. If you have any relation to this family, and are looking for someone up until about 1905, this resource is for you.