29 October 2013

Black and White

This is who he was on paper...

Death certificate for Willis Idle Greene

This is who he was in real life...

Willis Idle Greene

Willis Idle Greene and Laura Clark Greene

18 October 2013

Mother and Daughter

If your research takes you to Nova Scotia, Canada--especially if you're looking for records from Halifax, you NEED to be familiar with novascotiagenealogy.com. Their collections are free to view, and the information they have has helped me to fill in an additional three generations that I didn't have before.

Their collection of online death certificates is impressive. Included among those records are Ethel May Pinheiro and her mother Rose.

Ethel May Pinheiro Ince--Death certificate

Rose D. Pinheiro--Death Certificate

They both were buried in Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've attempted to find their information in the indexes for this cemetery online, but I haven't found them. The compilers of that index say, however, that their indexes are incomplete and anyone with new information should contact them. I'll start with FindAGrave.com and track down the other indexes as I have time.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Upon investigating Rose's information, I not only discovered that Grenada is an island just north of South America, but that her father's last name may or may not be spelled incorrectly. A brief look into FamilySearch revealed that Delless and some alternative spellings of it do not appear. But the name Dallas is present and relatively common. I've made a note of the spelling variants for my own research.

Sadly, many of my ancestors from these island nations appear to go cold with the information I have. From what I've been able to gather, FamilySearch is the best resource to view the records from the Caribbean. There are a few other resources that I haven't figured out how to access or use as of yet, but my experience level as of right now has taken me as far as I can go.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be focusing on gathering history from the last living members of my mother's family. The best thing I can do for this exotic foreign research is to table it for now. When I return to it, I should be able to give it new attention with fresh eyes and new questions. Hopefully that'll be enough to discover the next steps, if any, I can take to go further back in my grandmother's history.

09 October 2013

Richard C. Keatts and the Witch of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

When you are looking for information in a newspaper, it's really important not to just search for your direct-line ancestors. Look for their siblings, their other children, their spouses, anyone that also has a connection to them. Otherwise, you could miss some rare gems of personal history.

Richard C. Keatts is one of my ancestors from the American South. He was born in Virginia in 1828, married a woman named Susan Bennett, and had many children by her. Their children were named Mary, Susan, Charles, James, Sarah, Martha, Richard, Henrietta, John, and Emma. If you hearken back to my post on the diphtheria epidemic of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, you'll notice that most of his children don't make it to adulthood.

One of his children, Emma, was born after the outbreak. And it was in looking for her, Emma Virter Keatts, that I actually found this story in The Danville Register. It was published on 10 December 1968, and is available online at Newspapers.com:

Richard C. Keatts in The Danville Register, 10 December 1968

Juby Towler, a descendant of Emma Virter Keatts, wrote a genealogy by the title of From the Fruit of the Garden. Although it is commonly known among Toler/Towler researchers, it includes many stories associated with my Keatts family. I've never been able to find a copy of this book, but just recently I discovered my great aunt Shirley has a copy. I'll be going to see her in December to do interviews and research with her, so I'm terribly excited. Be on the lookout for the outpouring of Keatts family history when the time comes!

Provided below is a transcription of the story I've included above. Just in time for Halloween, in my opinion:

One such story concerning witches, deserves mention to demonstrate the strong belief held by many in witches as late as the turn of the century.
Towler relates the story passed on by Virter Keatts, later to marry a Towler, who lived with her father Dick Keatts, a blacksmith,about five miles north of Chatham in 1899.
Keatts that spring found his farm implements breaking under the slightest strain; his cow went prematurely dry; his hogs got sick and his chickens stopped egg production.
Keatts was sure that a witch had cast a spell on the family, especially after "a quack horse doctor" applied some unsuccessful treatment, Towler writes.
The doctor's diagnosis consisted on splitting the cows' tails and boring holes in the animal's horns, after which he reported to Keatts the cow had hollow horns and a hollow tail.
His treatment involved placing crushed jimpsin leaves on the split cow tail and binding it like a sore finger. Then, after managing to get a few drops of milk from the cow, he squirted the milk into the tiny holes bored into the cow's horns.
Treatment for the other animals found the doctor taking dust from the chicken house floor and mixing it with corn meal and water to feed the chickens "some of their own grit." And he applied axle grease to the backs of Keatts' hogs.
The chickens still failed to produce eggs, the cow went completely dry and died, but the hogs got well. But the horse began to have fits.
Analyzing these results the doctor told Keatts, "some witch had cast a spell on the Keatts" Towler recounted.
To find the witch, the doctor told Keatts to kill the horse, cut out its heart and immediately place it on an open fire--an act, the doctor said, that would bring out the witch who would ask the Keatts to lend her something. However, the doctor warned Keatts he must not lend the witch any item for which she asked, no matter how insignificant.
Keatts killed the horse, placed the heart on an open fire and an old woman in the area, known as "Old Lillie," was seen moving down the old court house road to the Keatts house.
After arriving at the Keatts place, she immediately asked to borrow flour for some biscuits--which was refused as were her requests for a bit of thread, some dried peppers and a straight pin.
After the last bit of the horse's heart burned away, Old Lillie left and Dick Keatts' animals returned to normal and his problems ended.
Towler writes that Virter Keatts said rather playfully on the day she died that she had forgotten to observe an omen that was said to bring good luck.
At dinner that day--New Year's Day--she had forgotten to serve the traditional meal of black-eyed peas and hog-jowls. She died before midnight.

02 October 2013


Newspapers.com is a great way to find lots of goodies. While everything I found about James Nance was pretty accidental, what I found on the Keatts brothers was not. I've known for some time that they had digital copies of The Danville Register and The Bee, so when I got the change to have a free trial I couldn't say no.

Obituary for Albert C. Keatts, The Bee, 11 Nov 1961

Emma Virter Keatts Towler, The Bee, 4 Jan 1939

Leffie M. Keatts burial announcement, The Bell, 27 Mar 1954

Roy Elmer Keatts, The Danville Register, 14 Aug 1966

While none of these people are my direct line ancestors, they're all siblings to my ancestor Richard C. Keatts. More on him later... There's a story about a witch named "Old Lillie"...

01 October 2013

Tuesday's Tip: That Sweet Trick with the Enumeration Map

My husband is one of my greatest allies when it comes to doing genealogy. He is an amazing researcher with a very clear vision of what he needs to do to overcome a problem. He comes up with solutions many times that I didn't even know existed. A good example is how he found Muriel Ince Michaels on the 1921 Canadian census.

I had the copy of the 1911 census where her family is living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lester Ince and Ethel Pinheiro are living with Ethel's parents, Charles Pinheiro and Rose Dallas. Note how it says Charles is from Barbados.

Lester Ince and Ethel Pinheiro on the 1911 Halifax, NS Canadian Census

I had been filling in all sorts of gaps around this family using Nova Scotia Historical and Vital Statistics, and had the marriage record for Lester and Ethel. Because of that record, I was able to get the proper spelling of her maiden name. With that name in tow, a list of records pop out.

I find the records for their children: Ernest, Garnet, and Lester. I find out that Lester dies of bronchitis. I'm able to look through the Canadian census records again, this time for Charles and Rose. Their 1891 entry appears:

Charles Pinheiro and family on the 1891 Halifax, NS Canadian census

But I'm not satisfied. I need the confirmation that Muriel actually belongs to this family. Because she's born in 1913, I know she'll appear on the 1921 Canadian census. When my husband comes home and finds me sitting on the couch typing furiously on the computer, he doesn't have to ask what I'm doing. He already knows.

When I brief him that I'm still working on the Canadian lines of my research, he offers to search through the census for me to find the page I want. I have no doubt of his abilities. I've seen him work.

I leave him to go and do the dishes. By the time I come back, he's announcing, "I found it."

Ethel Pinheiro Ince appears without her husband on the 1921 Halifax, NS Canadian Census, with two more children

My eyes dart to find their name. Two more children's names appear... Muriel and William!

I look at him in pure awe. He's used to it. He gives me this look which can only be described as I'm Sort of a Big Deal.

"How did you do that?" I demanded to know. He showed me this:

1911 Halifax, Nova Scotia enumeration district map

This map shows all of the census enumeration districts for the city of Halifax. On the 1911 census my ancestors are living on Gerrish Lane in Ward 5. If you look at the top of the 1911 census, it says Ward 5.

So, when he went to Ancestry.ca and started looking through the census records, he went to the city of Halifax, scrolled directly to Ward 5, and started looking. He got about 4 pages in to one of the first sections he looked at before he found them.

So, to anyone trying trying to work up the mental capacity to dig through the 1921 census, there is an easier way. 

Pay attention to the enumeration information on the census records you already have. Look up a map if you want to see it in front of you. Narrow your search down to a section of the census and look through it that way. Take a lesson from my husband and save yourself a lot of unnecessary work. It will leave you feeling much better in the end.