Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Life and Times of William A. Hoffman

This post is primarily for the enjoyment of the descendants of William A. Hoffman. The folks I have been in contact with are all in Washington and Oregon, although I know that there are others throughout the U.S.A.

For the descendants of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman, this 'William' is our Uncle William. He is the brother of Sylvester's father, John Hoffman. William A. and John were the only two sons of William Hoffman and Margaret Goforth.

William is listed in the 1850 census as 16 yrs, and the 1860 census as 26 yrs, so I have his birth year as 1834. He is the only child still at home in 1860. His sister Nancy 'Caroline' was 2 years younger, but she had married Charles F. Gano in 1855.

Illinois marriage records indicate that he married Anna Marie Adams on March 28, 1861. She was probably the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Adams, and according to the 1850 and 1860 census, William and Anna grew up near each other in southern Greene County. After the wedding, this young family seems to have continued to live near his parents on their land.

To this marriage were born at least 8 children. One died as an infant, and is buried near it's grandparents in Greene County. One daughter, Lucy, died at the age of 9 and is buried in the Farmers Branch/Keenan Cemetery in Texax, near the large stone of Mary Ann Fyke Hoffman, who was the wife of her cousin, Andrew Worth Hoffman.

In 1870, William was deeded his parents land in a 'deed of gift'. This is detailed in another post, so I will not give details here. After his mother's death in 1881, he sold the land and moved his family moved to Texas, near where his sister, Sarah Perry lived. This is when they lost the daughter Lucy.

Harriet Witt says in her letter (see previous post) that the family did not enjoy Texas, and moved to Missouri in 1883. A few months before this move, two of William and Anna's daughters were married in Dallas County - both on the same day, February 12, 1883.

Rosalee Hoffman married J.M.Calloway
Hattie Hoffman married William Henry Hudnut

The marriages were performed by Eli Witt, the brother of Preston Witt, who was the brother-in-law of William A. Hoffman.

We have no record of William A. or Anna after they moved to Missouri. The 1890 census does not exist, and we have not found them in the 1900 census. We also have no further record of the children Rosalee, Margaret, or Emma.

The three children we do have records of are William E., Hattie (Hudnut), and Charles. All three of these moved to Washington state around the year 1901.

I've already mentioned Hattie's marriage, but her brothers also have an interesting story. The two boys, William and Charles, married two sisters after moving to Missouri. In 1895, Charles married Alice Bennett, and about 4 years later, William married Maude Naomi Bennett. William and Maude had a daughter that was born in November 1900. Her name was Lillian, and if you were looking for the member of our family who lived to the oldest age, she is the one! She lived to be almost 109 years old! In her obituary, in the Seattle Times in October 2009, it says that "she came to Woodinville [Washington] on the train with her parents before she was 1 year of age".

I will have to continue with the descendants of William A. Hoffman and Anna Marie Adams in another post. There is one other point to make concerning their life. In the letter which was detailed in the last post, Harriett Witt says about William "I did not know brother, it had been so long since I saw him". It is believed that Harriett and her husband Preston moved to Texas in the early 1840s. If she did not make it back to Illinois, she never would have seen her youngest brother after he was 10 years old. He then showed up at her house in Kansas, in 1883. This was when he was almost 50 years old. If these assumptions are true, then it is no wonder that she did not recognize him as her brother!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Harriet Witt writes 'home' in 1884.

This letter was kept in the 'Gano' family for nearly 100 years, copied for Peggy Jean Oliver, and sent to me recently by her daughter. I appreciate so much those who have preceeded me in keeping these records! The letter was originally sent to Caroline (Hoffman) Gano, the sister of Harriet, both of them being the sisters of our g-g-grandfather John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman.

This letter will be of special interest to the descendants of William A. Hoffman, who was Harriet's youngest brother. She gives several hints concerning William and his family in this letter. My next post will give several details concering his life and his descendants.

Here is the letter:

Chetopa, Kansas
March 31, 1884

My dear sister and brother

It has been a good while since I heard from you but I hope this will find you all well and in good health. I am just recovering from a spell of fever. I am with my daughter in Kansas have been here one year next month. I did not stop and see sister Sallie as I came up for I was not well and I came straight through from my son who lives in southern Texas. I had a letter from him last week and he and family are well he is married and has four children. Brother William and family stopped and staid a few days here with us as he moved from Texas back to Missouri. They did not like Texas they had a good deal of sickness and one little girl died while they was there he had two daughters and two sons with him and two girls married living in Missouri. I did not know brother it had been so long since I saw him. I want you to write me and tell me their post office if you know where it is and where is sister Eliza Wright. I want to know her post office to. brother William came from near sister Sallie Perry's they were all well as he passed up last summer. Tell Harriet Skeen I remember her and would like to see you all. Where does Joe Maxwell live, I heard he lived in Kansas somewhere. Write and tell me his post office it might not be far from here. How are you all I hope to hear from you soon would like to see you all. My daughter and son in law are tolerable well, their little baby a boy nine months old has had lung fever but is better now they have buried several children but have only this one living. I think Kansas is beautiful country and I believe most anything will grow here. Fruits in abundance if the people will try to raise it and fine corn as grows anywhere. We had green apples to eat until two weeks ago. Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, siberian crabs all do well here. This past winter has been very cold here old settlers say the coldest ever known since they have been here. I will close as I have written all the news and hoping to hear from you accept our love and best wishes for all and write soon.
Your affectionate sister
Harriet A. Witt

As expained in an earlier post, Harriet Witt was Mrs. Preston Witt, the formerly Harriet Hoffman, the sister of John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman. She was a widow by 1884, and as indicated in her letter, she had lived with her son in southern Texas, and then moved to be with her daughter in Kansas. We know from other sources she had also lived with her sister Sarah (Sallie) Perry for a while.

Briefly, I want to elaborate on three other folks mentioned in the letter:
- 'sister Sallie' is Sarah (Hoffman) Perry who married Alexander Perry.
- 'Harriet Skeen' is a daughter of the authors sister, Mary (Hoffman) Skeen.
- 'Joe Maxwell' is a son of the authors sister, Mariah Jane (Hoffman) Maxwell-Davis. Joe is known in other historical documents as Flavious Josephus Maxwell or some other variation of these names.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Releases to Michael C. McMahon

As detailed in the previous few posts, the 120 acres in Greene County, Illinois was owned by the Hoffmans for a little over 40 years. After the death of William and Margaret Hoffman, their youngest son sold the land to Michael C. McMahon. This was in 1881.

In order for Michael C. McMahon to get a 'clear title' to the land, all of the requirements of the inheritance had to be verified. This was accomplished with papers that were delivered to Greene County by all of those who received a portion of the money. These were recorded in Greene County Courthouse from 1881 to 1888.

William A. Hoffman had four sisters who were still living in 1881, and each of them was given $100.00. Two other sisters and one brother had died, but had living descendants. These descendants divided appropriate portions of the money due them. Here is a list of those to whom we know money was given, along with spouses and where they lived at the time.

The sisters of William A. Hoffman:

Caroline Gano and husband Charles Gano of Greene County Illinois - July 1881.

Harriet Witt of Jackson County, Texas. Widow of Preston Witt - Sept 1881. I hope to write about Preston Witt at some point in the future.

Sarah Perry and her husband Alexander Perry of Dallas County Texas - Aug 1881.

Eliza (Louisa) Wright and her husband Franklin Wright of Moultie County Illinois - Aug 1881.

The nieces and nephews who shared a portion were:

Sole heir of Mary Skeen:
Harriet Skeen of Greene County Illinois - Aug 1881.

Heirs of John Hoffman:
Clinton Hoffman, widower, of Dallas County Texas - 1884
Andrew Worth Hoffman and wife Mary A (Molly) of Dallas County Texas - 1884
Eugenia Claud Myers and husband Douglas Myers of Dallas County Texas - 1884
It is known that John had several other children, but these were the only three who filed a statement concerning the inheritance money.

Heirs of Mariah Jane Davis:
These folks require a little explanation. Mariah Jane Hoffman had married John Maxwell in 1837, but this marriage ended, possibly the earliest known divorce in our family history. Mariah then married William Davis in 1852. She died before 1870, so that her children are referred to as the 'heirs of Mariah Jane Davis' in the original Hoffman/Huffman Deed. All of her known children (4) were from the first marriage. So each of these children should have gotten $25.00 [1/4 of the $100.00 due to Mariah]. One of these, Narcissa, had 6 children prior to about 1875 and she also died before 1881. This meant that her 6 children split Narcissa's portion of the inheritance, $4.20 [1/6 of $25.00]. So here are the folks we know identified themselves as heirs of Mariah:

Nancy (Maxwell) Stoler and her husband Frederick Stoler of Marion County Kansas - 1882 (some evidence indicates this was Marion County Missouri)
Flavious Josephus Maxwell and his sister Zerriah Ann Maxwell of McPherson County Kansas.
Heirs of Narcissa (Maxwell) Ashford
William and Mary Ashford [probably brother/sister] of Greene County Illinois - 1886.
Kate Ashford - Kate co-signed the release with her cousin Clinton Hoffman listed above. Other sources indicate that the other three heirs of Naricissa were Hiram B. Ashford, Arthur Bruce Ashford, and Joseph Ashford.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Clinton Hoffman 'Inherits' 33 dollars!

Ok, we don't know for sure it was $33.00. And I'm sure the attorney took at least a couple dollars to file the proper papers!

Let me explain.

S. C. Hoffman had already moved to Texas before this 'inheritance' happened. Before he left home in Illinois, his mother had died in about 1875 and his father died in 1877. He was 18 years old at this time. He and his older brother, Andrew Worth Hoffman, went to Texas and are found living with the James Kennedy family in Dallas County in the 1880 census (going by their middle names). He also had one younger sister, Eugenia, who was 'adopted' by her Aunt Sarah Perry's family after their parents died. The Perry family lived near the Kennedys and Eugenia Hoffman is found with them in the 1880 census as a 15 year old niece.

By 1881 all three of these children had married folks that were part of the close-knit Baptist community in the Farmers Branch area, just north of Dallas. All three signed papers saying that they were the children of John Hoffman, and that they had received their portion of this inheritance. (see the Sept 23 post)

Here is the paper filed on behalf of our g-grandfather...

Clinton Hoffman
To release Deed Filed Nov. 30th [1888] at 4 o’clock PM
Michael C. McMahon

Know all men by these presents that Clinton Hoffman widower of the county Dallas and State Texas for and in consideration of one dollar and for other good and valuable considerations the receipt whereof is hereby confessed do hereby grant . . . and quit claim unto Michael C McMahon of the county of Greene and the State of Illinois all the right . . . whatsoever I may have as one of the heirs at law of John Hoffman deceased by virtue of a certain Deed of William Hoffman to William A Hoffman bearing the date the 11th day of June AD 1870 and recorded in the recorders office in Greene County Illinois in Book SS at page 383 in and to the described real estate situated in the County of Greene and State of Illinois to wit the north half of the north east quarter and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section one (1) in Township nine(9) north Range Twelve (12) west 3rd PM in Greene County Illinois and I hereby acknowledge the receipt of my portion of the money directed in said Deed to be paid to John Hoffman now deceased. Witness my hand and seal this 15 day of July AD 1884.
Clinton Hoffman (seal

I don't quite understand why the document says 'one dollar'. There were at least 10 other similar documents filed by other folks who also received a portion of this inheritance. Some of the papers say 'one dollar', and some of them specify the exact amount the person was paid. Maybe our family attorney could answer that question (Tim?).

What we do know is that there were only three heirs of John Hoffman who filed papers related to this land, so it seems that they must have been paid $33.33 each (one third of the hundred dollars that was to go to John Hoffman). It is possible that there were other heirs with whom this $100.00 was shared, but no other living children of John and Jane have been identified in 1880 or later.

As I said before, there are other important details which confirm that this is 'our' Clinton Hoffman. He was married to Carrie Perry in 1880, using the name Sylvester Clinton Hoffman in the Dallas marriage register. She died in 1881 after having one daughter. Thus, when he states that he is a widower, living in Dallas, these details fit the other historical documents and family history as passed down through our family and the Perry family.

To a family historian, these types of papers are a true gold mine. The next post will list several of the other folks who claimed a portion of the money paid by William A. Hoffman in compliance with his inheritance.

Monday, October 11, 2010

William A. and Ann Maria Huffman sell the 'Family Farm'.

William had inherited this land as William A 'Hoffman', but he used the 'Huffman' name when selling it. See the Sept 13 post for more discussion about the spelling of names.

We don't know why he sold the land. As part of the requirements of his inheritance, he owed $700.00 to his siblings and their descendants. This might have been a factor. After selling the land his family moved to Texas, so they may have just wanted to move. (This family only stayed in Texas a couple of years, then moved to Missouri, and at least three of the children moved to the Seattle, Washington area in about 1900. I hope to detail how/what is known about this family in a future post.)

Whatever the reason, the land was sold in the same year as his Mother died, 1881. (His Father had died in 1871). The Deed of is dated July 29, and was filed in the courthouse on July 30, 1881.

William A. Huffman
To:: Warranty Deed
Michael C. McMahon

This Indenture made the Twenty Ninth day of July in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty One Between William A Huffman and Ann Maria Huffman, his wife of the County of Greene and State of Illinois party of the first part and Michael C. McMahon in the County of Greene and the State of Illinois party of the second part. Witnesseth that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of Three Thousand Dollars in hand paid . . .

It looks like William and Ann Maria came out 'OK' on the sale of this land. It had been purchased for $150.00 by his Father in the late 1830s. After paying the obligations to his family, he would have still had $2300.00 from the sale. The Deed does not mention the money that was required to be paid to the other members of the family, but it is obvious that these payments had to be documented in order for Mr. McMahon to gain a clear title to this land.

In the next post I will share the document in which our g-grandfather inherited his portion of this inheritance.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Section One, Township 9 North, Range 12 West

It has become obvious that I need to back up and tell a little more about the chunk of land that is referenced in the Deed which is detailed in the previous post.

This land is in Greene County, Illinois. It was the location of our Hoffman Clan for much of the 1800s. The reason it is SO important to our family history, is that there are many historical documents related to it. Without these, we would have to guess about the path that was followed by this branch of our family.

William Hoffman purchased this land from the U.S. government as part of a westward expansion program of the early 1800s. The sale price for land in Illinois was $1.25 per acre. He first bought 40 acres, then about 4 years later bought 80 acres. The total purchases being $150.00. These were adjacent properties, both being in the northeast quarter of Section One, T9N, R12W. This land was farmed by three generations of our family: William and Margaret, their children, and several grandchildren. There were distant cousins in the area until just a few years ago, but this land was sold in 1881 to another family.

The drawing is a close up of the shape of this land. One section of land is 1 mile x 1 mile, 640 acres. The Hoffman land was 1/2 mile across the top border and 1/2 mile down the east side.

In the next few posts (and the previous post), I will detail some of the important documents related to this land and our family.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Will of William and Margaret Hoffman

These were the grandparents of S. C. Hoffman, my great-grandfather. They lived most of their lives in Greene County, Illinois, on land about 5 miles southeast of Carrollton. William was the son of Benjamin Hoffman, and Margaret's maiden name was Margaret Goforth.

This document is not actually a Will, but it accomplishes most of what a Will would. I will use a series of posts to show why this document is SO important to tracing our Hoffman roots. A copy can still be found in the Court House in Carrollton, Illinois.

Deed Book S S of Greene County Illinois p. 383-384

Filed June 13, 1870

This indenture made the eleventh day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and seventy, between William Hoffman and Margaret Hoffman his wife, party of the first part, and William A. Hoffman party of the second part.... the following described parcel of land...: the north half of the northeast quarter and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section one township nine north of range twelve Greene County State of Illinois.

William A. Hoffman (the youngest son) was to inherit the land with the condition that he would ... on the death of the said William and Margaret ... the sum of one hundred dollars to each of the following named persons to wit: John Hoffman, Harriett Witt, Sarah Perry, Eliza Wright, Carolina Gano. Also the like sum of one hundred dollars to the heirs at law of Mary Skeen, and the like sum of one hundred dollars to the heirs of Mariah Jane Davis...

William and Margaret were to retain possession of the land during their 'natural life', after which the son was to proceed with the payments and inherit the land. The reason this is such an important document, is the way in which the son disposed of the land.

After both of the parents died (William in 1871 and Margaret in 1881) William A. Hoffman sold the land to Michael C. McMahon for three thousand dollars. The tricky part was that the 'one hundred dollars' had to be paid to each of his brothers and sisters, or - in 3 cases - their descendants, because theses three children had died before their parents. This had to be done before Mr. McMahon could get a clear title, and these payments had to be documented at the Greene county courthouse.

It took about 7 years for all of this to happen - remember there were no telephones, or email. It was possible to send a letter, but it could only travel as fast a horse!

In my next post I will show what information is in these documents and give an example of one of them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hoffman or Huffman

My Aunt Bonnie tells a story about her father, our Grandpa Joe. When he was trying to gather his family (such as, when he was ready to leave church or a party) he would say to his wife, Versie "Come on Huffman" and he would say to Bonnie "Come on little Huffman".

Although our branch of the family used 'Hoffman' throughout the 1900s, it isn't hard to imagine that Joe had heard this phrase as a youngster, because we now know that his father definitely used the 'Huffman' spelling as a child.

Anyone who has spent much time looking at history knows that spelling just was not that important in the past. Most of our family names have several variations. It is important to keep in mind that spelling differences are usually meaningless. For example, Roe and Rowe could be the same family. Beesly and Beasley could be the same family. Bagley and Bagly could be the same family. Many times these differences were just the way the official happened to spell it. The census taker might spell it one way one year, and ten years later use another variation.

Our ancestor, Hans Henrich Hoffman, spelled his name exactly this way when he signed the book in Philadelphia upon his arrival to America in 1734. By 1747, when he began buying land in Virginia, he is known as Henry Huffman, and this is the way it remained the rest of his life.

By the mid 1800s the family's name is again spelled both ways. William bought land in Greene County, Illinois as William Hoffman in the late 1830s, and is listed as such in 1840. The Huffman spelling is again used in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census. When William and Margaret gave their land to the youngest son, William A. Hoffman, the 'Hoffman' spelling was use, but when William A. sold the land he used the name William A Huffman. The graves of William and Margaret have the Hoffman spelling. So you can see that during the mid 1800s, we may find either spelling at any given time. There is even one census in the early 1800s in which the spelling is 'Hoofman'.

The family in which our S. C. Hoffman grew up, used both Hoffman and Huffman. But after the move to Texas in the late 1800s, the only variation we find is Hoffman.

In this blog we will generally use the modern day spellings for our family names. In cases where a specific historical document is referenced, the variation in the document may be used.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DNA Testing - The problems with it!

Any time a scientific method is used in evidence (whether in court or in family history or when-ever), it is important to consider its 'weaknesses'. Many researchers are not willing to do this, but I've always felt it is important.

DNA has three major weaknesses.

The first weakness of DNA testing is that all men in a direct relationship have the same DNA. For example, let's assume that several generations from now there is a Norton descendant who thinks he descends from Marc Norton. He could end up with a perfect match with another descendant, but he also would get a perfect match from a descendant of Ned, or Uncle Hub, or even a more distant 'Uncle'. DNA tells us that we are from a particular 'clan', but we still need to have historical documents to show us the exact relationships.

The second weakness of DNA is that once in a while there is a match with a family of a different surname. This could be random chance, since there are billions of people on this planet! More likely is that the two folks share common ancestors before surnames were ever used! Between 500-1000 years ago, surnames were first used by Europeans. It was even more recently than that in some cultures. There are obviously many people who share common ancestors from the pre-surname era, but have totally different surnames. I actually have a fairly good match with a man named Fishback (translated from German as Fish-Creek). His family and ours came from the same area of westcentral Germany at about the same time in the early 1700s. We almost certainly have a common ancestors. There is just no way to say who or when.

The third weakness of DNA is that sometimes there is no match when it seems that there should be. This is usually because of what is called a 'non-paternal' event. Some non-paternal events may have negative connotations. Examples of these would be rape or infidelity. Because we may never know the details of such a situation, or the reasons for such an occurrence, it may be better to leave it alone. Some examples of non-paternal events can be viewed in a much more positive light. Two examples of this would be adoption or step-family situations. If any of these situations are 'known' by future generations, there are no surprises, but as we all know 'family secrets' are very common, sometimes for good reason. It turns out that even if the odds of such an occurrence are low, when several generations are involved, it becomes quite likely that some sort of 'non-paternal' event may occur. If the historical documentation is good enough, even if the DNA does not match, it could be the correct family.

Since the Y-chromosome is what is tested in this type of analysis, every generation in the line of folks tested must be men. There are types of testing in which women can be involved, but because of the surname tradition in America, it is difficult to find a long line of women for whom the 'paper trail' exists. This means that there is no easy way to use DNA to verify our connection to families such as the Beasleys, Roes, Fosters, Woods, Hudsons. All of these lines are important to us, we just have to use traditional family history methods to verify the relationships.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

DNA Results - The Long Version

Let me first state that I do not feel that our genes or DNA connections are of any significance. The only reason I work on family history is because I enjoy it, and I certainly hope others will do the same. I love all of my current family. The relationships I have with cousins, nieces, nephews, siblings, or any 'in-laws' are all SOOOOOO importance to me, whether we share DNA or not!

The reason DNA testing is important is that it can scientifically verify whether the 'paper trail' we have found is correct or not.

We now have proof that goes back three centuries. Hans Heinrich Hoffman's 300th birthday will be in 2012, and Ebenezer Norton's 300th birthday will be in 2015. We have DNA confirmatiion that these men and their wives were our g,g...grandparents.

We do not have any DNA from these folks, so how does this DNA thing work? Here is my best effort at an explanation:

Most of human DNA gets all mixed up because we get half from our mother and half from our father. But the copies of the Y-chromasomes are passed down with no changes from father to son, although rare mutations do happen. Because this Y-chromasome does not change much, men who share the same male ancestors also share exact copies of his Y-chromasome. My Y-chromasome is the same as Joe Hoffman, is the same as Harold Wayne Hoffman, is the same as the father of Sylvester Hoffman, is the same as the g-g-g-grandfather of Sylvester, etc.

If we can find a very distant cousin who descends from a known common ancestor, we can verify this relationship with DNA testing.

This is exactly what we've done in both the Norton and Hoffman families.

For our Hoffman family, there is a man named Lee Hoffman, who lives in Montgomery County, Kentucky. He has traced his ancestry to the same family as we have (Hans Heinrich and Margaret [Huettenhen] Hoffman). After DNA testing, he and I ended up with a 36/37 match for our Y-DNA. The odds of this happening are difficult to calculate, but they are astronomical. Imagine two people, each sitting down with dice and rolling matching numbers 36 out of 37 times. In the case of our DNA, the laboratory measures 37 different locations on the Y-chromasome. One of the 37 markers obviously had a minor mutation. In fact, the one marker that mutated in this case, is a spot that has a fairly high mutation rate. So when considering the 15 generations that separate Lee and I, it might be expected to have at least one marker off by one. (From me to Hans Heinrich is 8 generations, and from Hans Heinrich down to Lee is 7 generations).

Since I know a little bit about laboratory testing, I was actually somewhat suspicious of how accurate these results would be. After looking into it, I can confidently say that it is amazingly precise. It is much like counting the links of a short chain, between about 10 and 25 links at each 'location' along the Y-chromasome. The way that these links are 'counted' is as nearly perfect as any testing can be.

Because the Y-chromasome is passed down through men, only men can participate in Y-DNA testing. But women can benefit from the knowledge. Ruth's brother Dan was just recently notified of his results. Our reasearch showed that our Nortons descend from a family in Guilford, Connecticut in the late 1600s. Two other descendants of this family have had DNA testing, so we hoped for a match. Dan matched one man 23/25 and the other man 35/37. These matches are not perfect, but are very, very good. The coordinater of the Norton DNA Project immediately knew which family we came from, even before we told him!

In the left hand column of this blog, I will link to the two DNA projects mentioned above. I would love to get a DNA verification of other branches of our family. I know there are Stout men and Bagley men who could contribute to this. If anyone knows of someone who would be willing to participate, please let me know. It is a very simple thing. You just rub the inside of your cheek with a swab they send you in the mail, and send it back to them. Then wait to see if you hit the lottery numbers right or not! There is a cost, but if you are interested it is well worth it.

Like all forms of 'evidence', there are some problems with DNA testing, I will cover these in the next post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DNA - The Short Version

Taking a break from 'Family Sketches' in order to share DNA news.

This is the short version of our DNA story. If you are interested in more detail, the next post will have much more detail.

DNA testing has verified the Hoffman branch of our family tree back to Virginia in the early 1700s. It has also verified the Norton family back to Connecticut before the American Revolution, verifying that Ebenezer Norton (born in 1715 in Durham, CT) is the 4th great grandfather of George Marcus Norton.

I am hoping that these success stories will spur at least one Stout and one Bagley man to also contribute to the database. Maybe there are others?

The 'paper' trail for both the Hoffman and Norton lines is very strong, but there is always a possibility of a mistake along the way, especially when tracking back six or eight generations. DNA testing creates virtual certainty that these are the 'clans' we descend from. We may be able to do the same thing with the other surnames in our family.

If you are interested in the science behind DNA testing, please stayed tuned in, I will write an extended article next.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mom's Two Uncles who died in the Civil War

Our 'Grandma Roe' was Sally Foster. Her father, Andrew Boyd Foster, was detailed in an earlier post. Andrew had two brothers who died in the Civil War. In 'Family Sketches', written by their father, Thomas Boyd Foster, the service records of 5 of his sons are detailed. In this post, I will summarize what he says about his two oldest sons, William Mason Foster, and Samuel Cowan Foster - our Uncles.

First I want to comment on the names. 'Family Sketches' is the only source for their full names, but it is obviously a very reliable, written by their father. Samuel was given the first and last name of his maternal grandfather, Samuel Cowan. William was given the first name of his paternal grandfather, William Foster. He did not have an ancestor with the name Mason, but the Mason family was very close to the Foster family. I have found several cases where middle names were adopted out of respect for a close friend or close family, so this is probably the source of this middle name.

William was the first son of Thomas Boyd Foster and Eleanor Cowan. He was born on March 15, 1838 in Bolivar, Jackson County, Alabama. He entered the Confederate States Army early in the war. His father says that he had broken his thigh as a boy, was lame due to the injury, and could have avoided service because of it. He saw his younger brothers going, and thought he might be of some help to them, so his generosity carried him into battle. The story goes "When killed he was talking to a friend. A bullet struck a tree and glanced and struck him in the breast, and killed him instantly". This was in June 1864 near New Hope Church, Georgia. His Masonic emblems, his watch and his razor were sent home. Almost 30 years later his father wrote "I still have them and as long as I live, will shave with that razor".

Samuel was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Foster. He was born on August 11, 1839. His father wrote that he loved books. He goes on to say he "carried his books in camps, studied while fighting for his rights; professed religion as a boy, and died happy". One day before his brother (William) was killed, the two young men had been in battle together. Samuel received a minor wound, as a bullet passed through the tendon just below his knee, but not breaking any bones. It disabled him enough that he was carried to the hospital. From the description, it seems that the wound must have gotten infected, as his leg was amputated, and he died. Samuel was cared for in the hospital camp by a young woman, a distant relative, who is described only as "the daughter of John Swope". The words of Thomas seem to breath appreciation toward this young lady.

In 'Family Sketches', Thomas describes many troubles caused by the Civil War, the loss of these two oldest sons must have overshadowed all other trials.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Family Sketches - Part 3 - The Death of Our G-G..Grandmother

It is a difficult decision to write this article. Some things are better left behind. The tenderness with which Thomas writes about the loss of his wife is remarkable, and he must have wanted to communicate this to his descendants. Thomas Boyd Foster and Eleanor Susan Cowan had married on April 6 1837 in Bolivar, Jackson County, Alabama. She was pregnant with her 11th child in the early spring of 1854. Here are the events, exactly as Thomas wrote it in January 1893:

"In 1853 but little of importance remembered save work, work. I had to have timber cut and put upon the bank of the river. Money had to be raised for the Pogue land. And I could sell fuel to the steam boats ..... The year 1854 rolls on. The darkest period of my life. In the early part of the year I was at home but little. Had been out attending to the duties of my office. [County Surveyor] Returned home. Had several plats and certificates to make; was engaged in this work. My wife, not feeling well, laid down on a small bed by me. She called my name two or three times in quick succession. I turned toward her. She was going into a spasm. These spasms continued until sometime in the night. She was relieved. Expected to be confined soon after. [give birth] The time came. The spasms returned on the 27th of March 1854, her babe was born. The mother was a corpse. Tongue cannot tell; thoughts, inexperienced cannot imagine. Words, when spoken advisedly, fall from the lips meaningless. Time heals many sorrows. The grave alone can cover these. Nearly half a century has elapsed. The Savior said "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know herafter". The knowing time is at hand. This may be wrong. Father forgive. The next summer after the death of my wife I took my children to the mountain for health."

His normal writing style was not in the short sentences of this paragraph. He obviously remembered Eleanor with a very special love.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Family Sketches - Part 2


Sprinkled throughout the 46 pages of "Family Sketches" are several items which reveal the most important beliefs of Thomas. Some of these are just side notes concerning cousins, but in a couple of spots he intentionally writes about ideas he hopes his descendants will embrace.

He felt that he was too old and weak to work, but he could still write, so this was a way he could contribute. He elaborates, giving one of the reasons for his effort: "I have long held, unwaveringly, that every member of the human family should be employed in doing something good and profitable".

His hard work and education served him well eventually, but when speaking of his young marriage while financially broke: "We enjoyed life to the full extent. Honest poverty coupled with hard labor is no disgrace. He that will frown upon you and forsake you because you are poor, is unworthy of your confidence".

Speaking of one very successful family, he says "we conclude that in constituting a family, great care should be taken in the choice of material, or there is great danger of building on the sand, the structure worthless and the builder dishonored".

When speaking of his long career as a County Surveyor: "During this time, my business made it necessary for me to visit the homes of, and associate with, all classes of people. I am proud of the great kindness shown me. I was at home when among the wealthiest, and made myself equally so when with the poorest."

Concerning his father's brother: "Uncle Joseph [Foster] was not prosperous. He loved to hunt and fish better than he loved to grub and plow."

Later he tells of living with his sister's family (Prucence, who was married to John E. Caperton). During this time he spent his "Saturdays usually squirrel hunting. I was a good squirreler, and Caperton had a good rifle".

I conclude from these two stories, that he believed in moderation in his recreational hobbies.

Five of his sons fought in the Civil War. Speaking of this service he said "I disdained the epithet of Rebel, but was for Southern rights. I was unwilling to bear the contempt and injustice heaped upon the Southern people. My sons were of proper age for soldiers. They volunteered. It was not in my heart to oppose. They went; my prayers went with them. Preferring an honorable death to an ignominious life."

His loyalty to the South was life-long. He was straightforward when telling of the family of his sister Prudence. Three of her sons were killed in the War. After sharing a few details, Thomas said "Here was a family of noble sons murdered while contending for their rights".

Thomas was very active in the protestant religion known as the "Cumberland Presbyterian Church". He complimented numerous relatives on their commitment to this church.

And in conclusion he says about his life "When I review my life and take into consideration my inconsistencies, I am ashamed of it. Now in old age my hope is in the atonement made by the Blessed Redeemer, and I heartily recommend the Christian religion to all who may read these sketches."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew Broderick on NBC Ancestry Show

I was watching the new show "Who do you think you are?" tonite. Matthew Broderick, the well known actor was tracing his previously unknown ancestry. He discovered that his g-g-grandfather, Robert Martindale, was killed in the battle of Peachtree Creek [Georgia] on July 20, 1864 in the Civil War.

On Jan 14th of this year I wrote a post about Andrew Boyd Foster, our g-g-grandfather. He was captured near Peachtree Creek, in July 1864, just a few days before this battle.

Just thought it was an interesting connection.

It was obvious that Matthew and I had similar feelings, when thinking about details of our ancestor's lives, which we previously never knew. It is thrilling and sobering, all at the same time!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Family Sketches Part I


So begins 46 pages in which Thomas tells of his life and times.

The drawing is on page one, possibly a self portrait?

I feel obligated to remind us how we are related to the Fosters. My Grandma Bagley was the daughter of Sallie (Foster) Roe. Her father was Andrew Boyd Foster, and his father was Thomas Boyd Foster. So, Thomas was the Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather of Colter Glenn, the newest member of our branch.

In the small book he entitled "Family Sketches", Thomas starts by telling of his ancestry, of which he did not know much. He thought his father's parents came from "the Emerald Isle" [Ireland], and his mother's parents came from "that old and historic country designated on the map of the world as Scotland". At this time it looks like thier families were from these two locals, but at least a couple of the grandparents were born in America, possible the children of immigrants.

Both sets of his grandparents had settled in Virginia "long before the war of the revolution."

His father, William Foster, was born on July 30, 1774 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. His mother, Sally B. Boyd, was born on February 12, 1779. In William's Will he refers to his wife as "Sarah". I have written elsewhere that 'Sallie' or 'Sally' was a common nickname for the given name 'Sarah'. I have to wonder if this was the original 'Grandma Sally' in our family!?

His parents were married on June 28, 1804 and had a farm for a few years in Wythe County Virginia. This is where Thomas was born. When he was five years old they left Virginia with two wagons and a carriage, on the way their new home in Tennessee. In 1815, this had to be a trip of at least 400 miles, as it is 350 miles on todays highways.

His father became quite ill on the journey, so much so that the mother was reluctant to have the wagons unloaded until it was determined if he would die or not. For if he died, she intended to return to Virginia! He recovered and they stayed in Tennessee.

78 years after the trip, Thomas recalled one incident with vivid detail, I will quote it here:

"near the end of our journey, through the overkindness of Cousin William Foster, who was driving one of the teams, I was permitted to ride what was then known as the off-wheel horse, that is the horse on the right at the rear of the team. While going down a slant in the road I fell from the horse. A negro woman sitting in the front part of the wagon, seeing me fall, jumped out over the horse from which I had fallen. This frightened the team, and they turned suddenly to the left. This saved me from being crushed. One wheel passed over one of my legs. I had to be hauled to our new home."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Caperton Cemetery - Follow-Up

I should have realized that the stone of Thomas Boyd Foster looked 'out-of-place'. It is in the oldest part of the Caperton Cemetery. All of the other stones in this section are deteriorating, broken, or unreadable. He died 115 years ago, but his headstone has barely weathered. After the last post, I found a picture of the original stone on another web site. It looks like it is in the same spot, but a totally different stone, simple, weathered and worn. It seems that the new stone must have been placed recently. The birth and death dates of the two stones match, but the new stone has much more detail. At this time we do not know who placed the new stone. Maybe it could provide a link to distant cousins in the future. I am attempting to contact the manager of the other website, so hopefully we will know more soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A visit to Caperton Cemetery

I am excited to now use several posts to tell of my Mothers ancestry, much of which had been lost to our family during the 1900s.

I recently visited my son and his wife in Tennessee. As part of this visit, I was able to visit Caperton Cemetery in Jackson County, Alabama. This is the burial site of our ancestors Samuel and Susan (Caperton) Cowan and Thomas Boyd Foster.

Thomas married Eleanor Cowan, the daughter of Samuel and Susan. Eleanor became our g..grandmother. It seems likely that she was also buried in this spot, but there is no stone, so it is possible that she was buried in some other family plot, as she did die a few years before her parents. After Eleanor died while giving birth to her 11th child, Thomas married Sarah "Sallie" Mason. She is also buried in this cemetery. From other sources, we believe that the Mason family had a close relationship with the Fosters. Sarah also died relatively young, after bearing three children.

As time has progressed, the stones of Samuel and Susan have been broken and are in the process of disintegration. The "SAMU" are the only letters or numbers that are ledgible on Samuel's stone. Susan's inscription is mostly clear, but will not be for long. The stone of Thomas Boyd Foster is very clear and is in the attatched picture.

This stone is of particular interest as it contains a motto of the Freemasons "In Hoc Signo Vinces". Translated "In This Sign Victory". Along with the words is a carving of a cross with a crown hanging over it. This symbol honors his leadership in the Freemasons, for which there are several historical records as verification. Thomas was born in 1810 and died in 1895. He was born in Virginia. His family moved to Tennessee when he was still a boy. After he was grown, he settle in Jackson County Alabama.

Other than spending time with my son and his lovely wife, the most exciting part of the trip was obtaining a copy of the short autobiography of Thomas Boyd Foster. I will share several sections of it over the next few posts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1929 Eastview Wrestling Team - Part 2

After reading the last post, I thought it might be worthwhile to list the names of all the guys in the picture. These names come from a letter from my father, and I'm sure he was given the names by his mother or father, who both knew all of these families. I'm not real confident of the spellings, but I would be surprised if any of the names were totally incorrect. Would love to correct any information if evidence of a mistake can be shown.

Back row, standing, starting with the right side of the picture:
Coach G. S. Sanders
Paul Higginbotham
Clyde Prigmore
Dave Wallock

Middle Row:
Sonny Warlick
Ernie Stout
Joe Hoffman
Foy Stout
Terrill Beasley

Front Row:
Clifton Potter
Otis Beasley
Bill McKissack
Herber Lock

It would thrill me if some of the descendants of these young men could enjoy this picture!

Friday, March 5, 2010

1929 Eastview Wrestling Team

Anyone who knows our family well, knows that there is a long love of wrestling. As kids, our Grandpa Joe always grabbed us and put an 'arm drag' on us as soon as we walked in the door (any excuse for a hug, I think). For him, any kind of wrestling was OK - at his fire station the only thing I ever remember on the TV was 'profesional wrestling'.

The picture is of the 1929 Eastview High Wrestling team. In the center of the picture are Ernie Stout, Joe Hoffman, and Foy Stout. The coach of this team was G.S.Sanders, they called him 'Doc Sanders', obviously in the jacket and vest. Amazingly he attended the 50th class reunion of these boys, I believe it was in 1982. According to my notes, there are two other relatives in the picture. Otis Beasley is sitting on the floor in front of Ernie (Ernie is the muscular wrestler in front of the coach). Terrill Beasley is the small boy standing in front of the fireplace on the right side of the picture. These two boys were our Grandpa Joe's cousins (they were the sons of our Uncle Jim Beasley, the brother of Lillie Beasley). I haven't been able to find out much about how good this 'team' was. We do know that the two Stout brothers were future nation champions, and I don't think there were too many 165 pounders tougher than Joe Hoffman in 1929, so my guess is they did pretty good as a team.

There is a funny story that may fit well here. When the rumors began about Joe and Versie spending time together, Jim Beasley told James Stout that he shouldn't let his daughter "go with Joe Hoffman, he's no good". When James Stout asked why he thought Joe was no good, he said "Joe runs with my boys, and my boys are no good, so Joe must be no good"!

These were probably the sentiments of a frustrated father of teenagers, because as far as we know all of these kids turned out to be fine men.

In a later blog I will have more details concerning the wrestling careers of the Stout brothers, but I think the next few posts will concern my Mother's side of the family.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Elijah Stout - Part 2

In 1834, Elijah Stout applied for a pension for his service in the Revolutionary War. The application had to be submitted through an appearance in court, where his testimony was then sent in by an officer of the court. The government required evidence that he actually served in this war if he was to be eligible for a pension. These papers are stored at the National Archives (Pension File #8751). In the previous post, it is shown why we know that this is our Elijah Stout.

Here is some of what he said in his application:

"..he entered the army of the United States the day after the battle of Princeton, as a private, and was in service this time one month and was a resident at that time of Hunterdon Co, New Jersey... He entered the service again after the above service as a volunteer in a company the officers of which he has forgotten. The major of his company was Cornelious Stout, the Colonel was Chambers, the company's rendezvous was at Ringgold's Tavern in Hunterdon and marched from there to Old Raritan River some 17 miles from Brunswick as near as he can now remember. He was on service this time one month and 4 days. He was in no battle. He again entered the service of the United States in perhaps the summer afterwards, volunteering as a private in a company raised in the same county...the company marched to Golders Creek at the houses of William and Rogers Larison in Hopewell he thinks. He was on service this time one month..."

The testimony goes on to list a total of 7 or 8 periods of service, specifically mentioning Hunterdon, Elizabethtown, Springfield, Monmouth, Peterson's Mountain, Steel's Gap, Scotch Plains, and Trenton. He was once a substitute in place of Roger Grant. You can see from this account what may be already known, the Revolutionary War army was not terribly organized. Soldiers commonly came and went on their own timetable, and companies of soldiers were organized and disbanded on many occasions.

The application says that he was born in Hunterdon County New Jersey in March 1761. He moved to Fayette Co, Kentucky "about the time of St. Clairs Defeat" [1791] and has lived there ever since, except a short time in Woodford Co. He lived in the same neighborhood as Col. H. Beard, Joseph Beard, and William Atchison.

The papers also include statements from George G. Boone and Samuel Taul. These men said that they knew Elijah and believed him to be a soldier of the Revolution.

On August 13, 1838, Anna re-applied for her pension as Elijah's widow. She was 72 years old, and said that her and Elijah were married in Amwell Co, New Jersey on November 19, 1783 (there is no Amwell County, but there is an East Amwell Township, in Hunterdon County, N.J.). These papers say that Elijah died on May 27, 1838.

A special "Thank You" to Carrie Hoffman for the sketch of a typical soldier of the Revolution!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Elijah Stout - Revolutionary War Soldier, Part 1

Elijah Stout was the Great Great Grandfather of our Grandpa Stout (James A. Stout). Elijah's wife, my G-G-G-G-Grandmother was Anna Stout. We know all of this because of a specific date: August 14 1819.

This is the date listed in the records of our Grandpa Stout as the birthday of his grandfather, John L. Stout. It is also the birthday of Eljah Stout's grandson John Stout, recorded in the family Bible from the 1830s. These must be the same person. The picture is of the 'Marriage' page from this Bible. The Bible pages were submitted by Anna in order to get her portion of Elijah's pension after he died in 1838.

There are several other records that show these connections, but even if we didn't have any other records, the birthdate alone is proof beyond any reasonable doubt!

We do not know how Grandpa Stout knew his grandfather's birthday but we know that he knew it before anyone in our family made the link to Elijah. The copy of his records (which I have) were copied in 1952. The link to Elijah was found in 1964 by our Uncle Riley (George Riley Stout). Through the help of a distant cousin, Riley learned about the Revolutionary War Application of Elijah Stout and his wife Anna There we find the birth, marriage, and death records of several members of the Stout family. I will list these here:

-- Elijah Stout was married to Anna Stout November 19, 1783
-- Judiah Stout was married July 16, 1817
-- Harrison Lock was married to Rebecca Mosby(?) on February 14, 1828

-- Judiah Stout, oldest son of Elijah Stout was born January 19, 1799
-- Benjamin Proll(?) Stout was born July 25, 1801
-- Rebecca Hanes(?) granddaughter of Elijah Stout was born on Feb 14, 1807
-- John Stout son of Judiah Stout was born on August 14, 1819
-- Elijah Stout second son of Judiah Stout was born on Dec 28, 1822
-- Marion Stout 1st daughter of Judiah Stout was born Sept 5, 1824
-- Judiah Stout 4th son of Judiah and Delilah Stout was born Aug 4, 1828
-- Rebecca Stout was born June 23, 1830
-- Elise Pain(?) was born November 6, 1831

-- Rebecca Stout died December 1830 [must be the 6 month old daughter]
-- Judiah Stout died April 1835 [must be the 6 year old son, born 1828]
-- Benjamin P Stout died May 22, 1803 [must be the toddler born 1801]

These entries are hand written on Bible pages, which were submitted to the government in order to verify that Anna really was the widow of Elijah, so that she would continue to get her share of his pension after he died.

With just a little analysis, it is clear that Elijah and Anna's oldest son Judiah (and his wife Delilah) had as their oldest son John Stout, born August 14, 1819. It has since been learned that his full name was John Lewis Stout. Several other relationships are evident from the Bible pages, but some are unclear. I am confident that many of these relationships can be clarified with a little more research.

In the next post, we will share some of what Elijah said about his Revolutionary War service in his original pension application.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Archie Stout - Hero

James Archie Stout was the son of James and Nora Bell Stout, born in Greer County on July 8, 1903 (some records say 1904?). He was the oldest son, taking his father's first name, but then being known as 'Archie' his whole life. He was the brother of our 'Nanny', Versie (Stout) Hoffman. The picture is of Archie when he was about 10 years old.

His 'little brothers' seem to have been more well known, probably due to their wrestling achievements. Because of this I was particularly excited to find this story about Archie. It is another example of the character of this family!


From: Haskell Pruett, Supt., Brinkman Oklahoma 1921
To: The State Dept of Education.

I want to tell you the story of a brave hero I have in my school. I think he should have a medal from some Hero fund. If you can help me get it for him I would certainly appreciate it.

At the opening of school, November 14 [1921], the school board hired a janitor who knew very little about operating our steam heating plant. On the second morning of school our three story building was so filed with smoke that I marched the three hundred pupils outside. The janitor had left the furnace room. We were all on the outside expecting to see the flames burst forth at any minute. Being in the open country, we had no chance of saving our building. The furnace and fuel rooms are underneath the stage in the auditorium which is in the basement. There is no outside entrance and only a small stairway beside the stage leading to the furnace room. The room is very small and the coal is close to the furnace.

While we were thus standing outside, one of my eighteen year old boys, Archie Stout, went into the building without my knowing it. He waded through the terrible smoke and heat into the furnace room, and found, by feeling, that the janitor had built up a fire with the damper cut off. He turned on the damper and the draft caused the school grounds to be covered with soot. When Archie rushed out of the building his face was blistered and his eye lashes were burned off. He told what he had done. Some of the other boys then went into the furnace room and found that he had acted just in time to save the building. The coal and wooden walls were heated almost to a flame by the flames coming back from the open door of the furnace which the janitor had left when he ran out. No one doubts that we would now be without a school building were it not for the bravery of Archie Stout.

This letter was published in the 1922 'Oklahoma Teacher'. Other than the main point of Archie's actions, it has a couple of other noteworthy details. School did not start in Greer County until mid-November. This was because of the cotton harvest, which was underway each year during the month of October. The farmers needed all of their children to pick cotton full time during those weeks, so the schools had to adjust. The other amazing thing is that Eastview had 300 students in 1921. When the 'dust bowl' hit in the 1930s, the schools of Greer County began losing students. Eastview closed in 1949 due to lack of students, with the farm kids being sent to Mangum or Brinkman.

My firefighter wife, Ruth Ann, wants me to be sure to say how dangerous Archie's actions were. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wounded Warrier

We have no photograph of John J. Lemaster (the father of our Grandma Stout - the lady in the white blouse in the center of the back row). This picture is the adult children of Sarah Jane Barker and John J. Lemaster, taken in 1907. Quite a good looking group, I think!

But we do have a fairly good 'picture' of what John went through while fighting in the Civil War. John was a Private in the 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, fighting for the Confederate States. He enlisted at Licking Station, Kentucky for a period of 3 years, on Sept 30, 1862. He is found on several muster role cards, then is listed as "Absent, wounded at Dallas [Georgia], May 28, has not returned from the hospital".

He did return to this unit, but found it impossible to continue and requested to be discharged. This is the letter he wrote to his commanding officer on March 10, 1865, from Graniteville, South Carolina:

Col George Wm Brent, A.A.G.
Col, I respectfully ask to be ordered before a medical examining board for retirement for the following reasons. I received two gunshot wounds in the engagement near Dallas, GA on the 28th May 1864 - One shot entering the left breast, passing through the left lung, and out below the left shoulder blade. The other entering just below the left shoulder blade, passing around and lodging in the left side. Said wounds are yet painful and hinder me unable to perform the duties of a soldier. I wish to avail myself of an opportunity of going to school that is now afforded me if I were retired. I have the honor to respectfully subscribe myself:
Your Servant
John J Lemaster
Co D 5th Ky regt
Mnted Infty

The 'Certificate of Disability' was issued on March 28, 1865. This was 12 days before Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia - the end of the Civil War.

John J. Lemaster went on to live 21 more years, but died at the relatively young age of 43. Family lore says that he died of pneumonia that was caused by the wounds. He and his wife, Sarah Jane Barker had the large family pictured above, but both died in the mid 1880s, before all of the children were grown.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I thought it might be nice to define the nicknames we use to refer to the past generation or two. This will cover the Bagley, Roe, Hoffman, and Stout lines.

Since we don't want to have to constantly refer to these folks by their full names, we will use the following nicknames:

Here are the folks we knew:
Grandpa Bagley = Horace Thurston Bagley, the father of Grandma Sally
Grandma Bagley = Pauline (Roe) Bagley, the mother of Grandma Sally
Grandpa Joe = Joseph Weldon Bailey Hoffman, the father of Grandpa Glenn
Nanny = Versie Mae (Stout) Hoffman, the mother of Grandpa Glenn

The next generation:
Granny Bagley = Myrtle Estacia Wood, the mother of Grandpa Bagley
Grandpa Stout = James Alexancder Stout, the father of Nanny
Grandma Stout = Nora Bell (Lemaster) Stout, the mother of Nanny

These were the folks who were known to my generation. There were 5 folks from this generation who were gone before 1960:
Lige Bagley = Elijah Benjamin Bagley, father of Grandpa Bagley
C. L. Roe = Charles L. Roe, the father of Grandma Bagley
Grandma Roe = Sally P. (Foster) Roe, the mother of Grandma Bagley
S. C. Hoffman = Sylvester Clinton Hoffman, the father of Grandpa Joe
Grandma Hoffman= Lillie (Beasley) Hoffman, the mother of Grandpa Joe

This all assumes you know Grandpa Glenn and Grandma Sally. If not, email me and I will fill you in. I hope this works!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thomas Benton Stout - Follow-up

The picture is our Thomas Benton Stout with five of his sons; "Riley, Marion, Willie, Johnie, and James", taken in 1917 in Clovis, New Mexico.

This is just a short note concerning the name of our g-g-grandfather. See the Jan 19 post for details concerning his family, etc.

This is one of the few posts that will be pure speculation! But I hope it is informative and maybe a little fun.

In the mid 1800s, there was a very popular fad of naming children after famous celebrities, mostly political or military folks.

So, where did our Thomas Benton Stout get his name?

I believe it was from the Missouri Senator, Thomas H. Benton.

Thomas H. Benton was elected as one of two senators from the then brand-new state of Missouri in 1820. He served for 30 years, until 1850, the year our Thomas was born. He led a colorful life, with famous fights and an unpopular stand against slavery late in life bringing him notoriety.

Instead of re-writing his life story, I will link to his Wikipedia page for those who are interested:

He is the subject of several books, two of which were written by future presidents. Teddy Roosevelt published a biography in 1887, and Benton is one of the Senators profiled in John F. Kennedy's book, 'Profiles in Courage'.

Can we be sure that our Thomas Benton Stout was named after Thomas H. Benton? No. But until someone comes up with a better idea, this is what I will lean toward. It seems likely that parents would name a son after a man in whom they saw qualities which the family admired. Thomas H. Benton would fit the bill. We know the Stouts were men and women who stood strong for the values they deemed important, and the fact that John Lewis Stout (the father of our T.B.Stout) enlisted in the Union Army in Missouri shows that he must have been an abolishionist.

I hope that was fun, and even if it is wrong, it tells us a lot about the times in which these folks lived!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas Benton Stout

Believe it or not, there were at least 3 men named Thomas Benton Stout in the United States in the 1800s. We know this is 'ours' because of a hand written ledger copied from James Alexander Stout's records in 1952, in which the birth and death dates match this stone.

This grave is found in the Hollene Cemetery, near Clovis, New Mexico.

Thomas was the son of John Lewis Stout and Amanda C. Carroll. At the time of this writing, it is believed that John is the only man in our ancestry who was a Union soldier in the Civil War. He seems to have died shortly after the start of the war, from illness, on Oct 16, 1861. In most wars before 1900, illness WAS the most common cause of death! He died when Thomas was 11 years old. I hope to have more about John and Amanda and their family in another article.

The first record of Thomas is the 1850 census when he was 3 months old. He had three grandparents nearby. His maternal grandmother, Dorothy Carroll, was living with John and Amanda. His father's parents were living next door, listed as Jude and Delila Stout. These families were in Moniteau County, Missouri. In 1860 he was 10 years old, with his parents and 7 siblings. In the 1870 census we are not sure where he was, but he married Mary Jane Kelsey in 1873 in Morgan County Missouri. Mary Jane was the daughter of Samuel and Rose Ann Kelsey (sometimes spelled Kelsay). Samuel had apparently died when Mary Jane was young, as her and her mother had weddings just 3 days apart - her mother's second marriage and Mary Jane's first:

Rose Ann Kelsay m. Alexander Hamilton (not the famous one) June 5, 1873

Mary Jane Kelsay m. Thomas B. Stout June 8, 1873

Thomas and Mary Jane had their first child, named Rosa Jane, in Missouri. The rest of their 16 children were born in Texas. That's right SIXTEEN. This is the largest in our known family, all born to Mary Jane Kelsey Stout! The first child born in 1874, and the last in 1897. We know that Thomas and Mary Jane lived in Collin and Denton County Texas. They are found in Greer County Oklahoma in 1900, so they must have moved there about the same time as son James.

As was true of almost all of our ancestors, Thomas is listed as a 'farmer' in all census records. We have not researched how much land he had, but the 1910 census does tell us he owned his home.

Our 'Grandpa Stout' - James Alexander Stout was the 4th child and the oldest son in this family.

As the children of Thomas and Mary Jane grew up, some of them moved to New Mexico. Mary Jane died in 1915. Thomas is not found in the 1920 census, but he must have either gone to visit family, or moved to be near them in New Mexico, where he died in 1925.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Andrew Boyd Foster

Andrew was the grandfather of our Grandma Bagley:

Thomas Boyd Foster married Eleanor Cowan in 1837. Their first 5 children were sons: William, Samuel, Thomas, Andrew, and Hugh. All 5 of these boys fought in the Civil War. Our Andrew Boyd Foster is #4 on this list. The family's sacrifices for the Confederacy cannot be overstated. The two oldest sons died in the war. The third son was shot in the ankle, resulting in his foot being amputated, and living with a wooden extension for many years. Andrew and Hugh were both captured and in prisoner of war camps, and it certainly appears that these imprisonments were very tough on them.

As was a common custom, Andrew's middle name came from his Grandmother Sarah "Sally" Ann Boyd (could she have been the original 'Grandma Sally'?)

Here are the summarized Civil War records of Andrew Boyd Foster:

He enlisted at Caperton's Ferry, Alabama under Capt. George Cowan, probably his uncle, on June 12, 1862, just about a month before his 21st birthday. After this he is listed on the role cards until Feb 21, 1864 when he was able to take a short furlough. On his return to service he re-enlisted "for the war". In July of that year, he is "missing and presumed to have been captured", which in fact, he was. Later records show that he was captured near Marietta, Georgia on July 15, 1864. He then was held at Louisville, Kentucky and Camp Chase, Ohio before being transfered to City Point, Virginia in March of 1865 where he was held until the end of the war.

After the war he married Nancy Brewer in Jackson County Alabama, where they had three daughters before moving to Texas. The third of these was our Sally Pauline Foster, mentioned in the last post.[there is a published book which says that her name was Sally 'Brown' Foster, and unfortunately it has been widely quoted, but in the census records her middle initial is consistently listed as "P", so this matches our family memories]

The couple settled in Comanche County in west-cental Texas, near the town of Sipe Springs. Here they aquired land and livestock, and had 6 more children. The Comanche Newspaper had a section that told of "Sipe Springs Doings", and on June 10, 1882 it said:

"The sheep interest is getting to be quite an important one...Mr A.B.Foster and Bro own about a thousand..."

It is a mystery as to which brother this could be, although it seems most likely that is was Hugh, who did move to Sipe Springs in the early 1880s.

Andrew worked as Deputy Sheriff for two years and was then elected Sheriff in 1891 and 1893, for two years each time. Although we cannot know much about him at this distant time, we do know he had enough respect in the community to be elected Sheriff after serving as Deputy, and then re-elected for a second term - the office of Sheriff being one of the most important public positions in the late 19th century West. (just watch any 'Gunsmoke' episode if you don't believe me) For religion, he was raised in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and this denomination was very active in his home in Texas, to which he seems to have remained faithful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Andrew Boyd Foster

This is the start of a short series.  Our ancestors have very few gravestones of any significance, but there are a few, and this will be a good way to introduce some of these folks.  This is the first of a few posts on Tombstone Tuesday.

This picture is from the Sipe Springs Cemetery in Texas.  Andrew was the grandfather of our Grandma Bagley.  The family went like this:  Andrew Foster and his wife, Nance Brewer, had a daughter Sallie Pauline Foster.  She married Charles Roe, and they had Pauline Roe, our Grandma Bagley.  So you see that our Grandma Bagley, and Grandma Sally were both named after Andrew's daughter!

In family history we often find facts or stories of ancestors acting in ways that seem in conflict with our values.  This can be disturbing at times, but it can also open our minds.  Not necessarily to agree with them, but to understand why they may have acted in such a way.  You will see a Confederate flag next to his stone, commemorating his service for the South in the Civil War. Today we know how wrong slavery is, and it doesn't seem reasonable that good people could fight in support of such a cause, but both the North and the South felt that they were on the 'right' side at the time. There were certainly good men fighting on both sides. Andrew's family made amazing sacrifices in this fight. In the next post we will explore some of these as well as what else we know of Andrew Boyd Foster.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Two Men Named David LeRoy Hoffman

This is a picture of David LeRoy Hoffman, the oldest brother of our 'Grandpa Joe'. Roy - as he was known - was born in 1904 and was a sailor in the Navy from about 1928 until he died of Leukemia in 1932. He was on the U.S.S. Colorado and traveled around the Pacific, to Hawaii, through the Panama Canal, and was on this ship when the movie "Shipmates" was filmed in 1931.

Today's story is about a discovery I made today concerning the origins of Roy's name.

There is much evidence that Roy's father, Sylvester Clinton Hoffman (usually referred to by us as S.C.) was born and raised near Springfield, Illinois, actually in the nearby farm land of Greene County. What I didn't know until today is that Roy was probably named after his Uncle David LeRoy.

In Greene County there was an 1860's school ledger** with these students:

1863 - John Hoffman age 7 ; David Hoffman age 9 ; Andrew Hoffman age 12
1865 - Sylvester Hoffman 6 ; Harriet Skeen 16 ; Jennie Witt 17 ;Henry Perry 17
1868 - Clinton Hoffman 10 ; Leroy Hoffman 14 ; Flora Hoffman 14.

The three boys listed for 1863 are also seen in the 1860 census as the older brothers of our S.C. The 1865 Sylvester must be the Clinton in 1868, our S.C. What I had not noticed is that David in 1863 must be Leroy in 1868. All researchers had thought he was "David J" because that is what the writing in the 1870 census had looked like. But with the 'Leroy' information, it is actually easy to tell that the "J" is really an "L".

This brother disappears after the 1870 census, and is believed to have died while S.C. was a teenager. So we must conclude that S.C named his oldest son, the man in the picture, after his lost brother, David Leroy Hoffman.


** Transcribed by Mabel Gano, a cousin, in the 1970s. Not known if this ledger still exists.

Monday, January 4, 2010

FarmVille in 1783

I noticed folks on Facebook playing a game - FarmVille. So I thought it might be fun to see what real FarmVille items were worth in 1783, the year that Henry Hoffman's Will was filed. He, and his wife Margaret, were our 'immigrant' ancestor who lived in Culpeper County Virginia. His estate was detailed on October 1, 1783 in the Will Book at the County Courthouse. So here is a partial list of his inventory:

One Red Cow - $3.75
One Old Cow - 3.50
Two Steer Yearlings - 3.00
One Large Heifer - 3.80
Thirty Eight Head of Hogs - 16.00
Twelve Head of Sheep - 4.50
Sixty Seven Bushels of Rye - 9.00
Forty Bushels of Wheat - 8.00
One Womans Saddle - 4.50
Seven old Hogsheads - 1.20 (yes these are actual hogsheads!)
One Large Pot - 1.30
Four Hoes - 0.60 (reminds me of a Tiger Woods joke)
Old Corn, Forty Five Barrels - 31.00
Tobacco - 4.75
Two Axes - 0.75
One pair of Sheep Shears - 0.20
Sixteen Geese - 1.75
Six Chairs - 0.60
Although he did a lot of farming, he was also a weaver by trade:
One Loom - 1.70
One Harness Loom and gear - 0.50
One old pair of Wool cards - 0.15 (these held yarn or thread)
One pair of Cotton cards - 0.60
Fifteen Stays and Harnesses 5.90 (these were used for making women's dresses)

The values were actaully listed in British Pounds, which I converted to Dollars at 1.6 dollars per Pound.

You could have bought a saddle for about $5.00. That sounds really cheap, except that you could only get three or four dollars for a cow. Enjoy your FarmVille game, and remember many of ancestors truly relied on the farm for their survival, and thankfully most of them were very good at it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My First Post.....

If you are reading this, you have probably been invited to view this blog. Obviously, there are many branches of our family tree, so some families will interest you more than others. I think you will find many of the items interesting, even if the folks involved aren't your direct family. Some of the families which will be detailed are the Stout, Lemaster, Hoffman, Bagley, Roe, Foster, Beasley, Wood, Norton, and Pease.

Whether you were born into, adopted into, or married into this family you are now a part of the story.  My main hope for this blog is to help us all feel closer to each other, and maybe better understand our role in this story.

Let me know if you have any suggestions!

So, if you are wondering 'Who were our Ancestors, Really?', here is an example. It is a picture of Sylvestor and Lillie Hoffman, taken in about 1903. This was about 5 years before their son, our 'Grandpa Joe" was born!

Lastly, you can leave comments or questions on the articles anytime you would like.  If you are interested in contributing articles, just let me know.  You may not consider youself an expert, but if you think about it, you likely will have some story, family recipe, old family picture, or maybe you have a old keepsake you could photograph and share with the rest of us!