Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Gravestone Pics - George William Shawver & Elizabeth Matilda Legg

My great great grandfather moved to Iowa and later Nebraska in the late 1800's.  He likely wasn't there when his parents both died in 1900.  When he visited West Virginia in 1930, he took this photo of his parent's gravestone and it is in a photo album of photos taken during that trip back to West Virginia.

Neither one of these photos is all that cheerful.  I suspect that no one likes to see a picture of a gravestone unless you are interested in genealogy.  However, if you are interested in genealogy, there are two things missing as far as I am concerned.  Those two things are the maiden name of the woman and full dates on the gravestone.  Doesn't seem that important to most...but sometimes it is very difficult to figure out what the maiden name is for a particular ancestor.  Perhaps there wasn't a marriage record available, or no one had a Bible record.  It makes it so much easier to have the maiden name already on the stone.  This caused quite a discussion for my mother and I many years ago.  We decided that women should always have their maiden name on their gravestones because it not only acknowledges the family they were born into but also their own family history.  Plus it would make it so much easier on later generations.  So, when my mother passed away - her maiden name was on her gravestone.

This couple would be my 3rd great grandparents.  The handwriting on the photo is from my great grandmother, Florence Shawver Gage.  The typewritten description also comes from her.  She decided to redo some of her photo albums once upon a time, taught herself to type and typed up the descriptions.  You might call her an early "scrapbooker!"

George William Shawver was born 15 Nov 1824 at Mill Creek Mountain, Greenbrier Co., WV (It was still VA when he was born) and he died 9 Mar 1900 in Prosperity, Raleigh Co., WV.  He was married to Elizabeth Matilda Legg on 02 Nov 1848 in Fayette Co., WV (VA).  She was born 16 May 1830 in Leander, Fayette Co., VA (WV) and she died just a few weeks before her husband on 12 Feb 1900 in Prosperity, Raleigh Co., WV.  He was the son of Robert Shawver and Mary Jane Callison and she was the daughter of Thomas Henderson Legg and Elizabeth Nutter.

I don't know when the photo was taken, but I suspect it was around 1890 or so.  My younger relations have commented that he looks friendly enough but she looks rather sour.  Have to remind the younger generations that she probably didn't have many teeth left...and they probably had to sat there for a few minuted to take a photo.  She couldn't really hide behind the beard!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Kelley Maze and the Researcher Who Helped Me Find My Way!

John Ward Kelley & Melvina Robertson - My 3rd Great Grandparents

I have been doing genealogical research for over 20 years now.  Hard to believe that I have been doing it that long…but really I have been doing it most of my life.  I learned at an early age to ask a lot of questions and listen to the stories that many of my older relations enjoyed sharing.  There have been a lot of people who have helped me and taught me through the years.  I learned that one of those people passed away this past summer. 

I think that I met “Lucy” through another researcher.  I don’t think that she ever got online.  She was old school and did everything through letters and phone calls.  I learned so much through those phone calls.  She had grown up on the farm that my great great great grandfather was born on back at Sexton’s Creek, Clay Co., KY.  It is one of those amazing things about genealogy when the young and the old get together.  There is a mix of generations that shouldn’t fit.  Lucy’s father died when she was quite young and she lived with her grandparents, Francis Marion Kelly and Fannie Jane Sparks.  Francis Marion Kelly was the younger brother of my 3rd great grandfather, John Ward Kelly.  (Their parents, William Kelly and Ailey Allen were the parents of eleven children.)  So, I was talking with someone who had memories with her grandfather who was my 3rd great grandfather’s brother and lived on the home-place that William Kelly and Ailey Allen had lived on in Clay Co., KY.

It is my observation that there is a special kind of “crazy” for anyone who decides to dive in on families lines in Kentucky or West Virginia.  I know it occurs in other areas, but in my experience, these areas are some of the most difficult to get the information correct.  I am not only talking about names, dates, and places but connecting them to the correct families.  There are so many intermarriages, similar names and places.  I have some experience doing this…so I know what it is like to go down in that deep hole.  I have always tried to add siblings of my ancestors and once you go down that road, it has endless branches that seem to interconnect.  This is especially true if you are looking in a relatively small geographic area.  You might wonder why I characterize West Virginia and Kentucky in this category…mostly because I have gone into the maze many times and sometimes it is weeks before I get out.  Having said that, it was an enjoyable experience to get lost in that maze with someone like Lucy.  She knew the area, families and connections like no one else, mostly because she had lived there and could personally share the experience.

Lucy and I spent several years pursuing both independently and together the connection between Adoniram Allen and Ethan Allen.  We had both heard the story and wanted to find proof of the connection.  It was surprising when we both came to the same conclusion almost at the same time.  The connection wasn’t through Adoniram and Ethan’s father,s but rather through their mother’s.  They were sisters with the last name of Baker.

Lucy had heard stories from her grandfather who told her that his father had traveled with his parents from the Clinch mountains by wagon out to Kentucky as a young man.  She was also the one who found documentation about the Hammer family traveling from Pennsylvania through the Cumberland Gap to Knob Creek, Washington Co., TN.  While we never found documented proof that our “Kinchen Kelly” and the one that came from Knob Creek were one and the same – we had pretty good circumstantial proof.  I hope that I can give someone else guidance that is as valuable as what Lucy gave me.  I haven’t been able to talk to my friend for some time because she hadn’t been well.  I will miss her and treasure the knowledge that she gave me and will try to pay it forward.  Writing this family reminds me that I need to dig back into this family.  I am sure is more info to add that wasn't available the last time I went researched the family!

This is the family of William Kelly and Ailey Allen that Lucy and I shared.

William Kelly b. 1818 TN d. 9 Jun 1899 Clay Co., KY
 m. Ailey Allen b. 12 Apr 1823 Clay Co., KY d. 05 Apr 1890 Clay Co., KY
  • Rachel Kelly b. 1842 d. aft 1880 m John R Banks m2 Granville Bishop
  • Susan Laura Jane Kelly b. 25 apr 1843 d. 26 Aug 1928 m. Granville Bishop (Yes it is the same one)
  • Drucilla Kelly b. 30 Oct 1845 d. 7 Oct 1884 m. Lunsford Banks
  • James Kelly b. 01 Oct 1847 d. 01 Oct 1923 m. Sarah Ann Bishop
  • John Ward Kelly b. 08 Aug 1849 d. 20 Feb 1910 m. Melvina Robertson m2 Laura
  • George W. Kelly b. Jun 1851 d. aft 1910 m. Elizabeth North
  • Joseph Matherly Kelley b. 16 May 1853 d. 4 Sept 1929 m. Drucilla Alice Morgan
  • Francis Marion Kelly b. 13 Nov 1855 d. 6 Dec 1939 m. Fannie Jane Sparks
  • Kinchen Kelley b. 30 Apr 1858 d. 1930 m. Julia A Sparks
  • Henry Kelly b. 1 May 1861 d. 1 May 1913 m. Nancy Napier
  • Jobe Kelly b. 20 Feb 1864 d. 14 Dec 1941 m. Martha Lucinda Edwards

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Happy Birthday Granddad Gage

It is hard to believe that it has been 28 years since my great grandfather died. I was so lucky that I had him until I was 23 years old.  It is funny because one of my dearest memories of him happened on a spring break back when I was probably about 6 or so.  My family had gone to the Oregon coast to see the ocean...and to visit Grandma and Grandpa Gage.  Somehow or another, I fell into a tidal pool and as was normal - it was cold and rainy during spring break.  I was taken back to my great grandparents home, dried off and changed clothes.  Then I sat on my Grandpa's lap, leaned against his chest and fell asleep.  I didn't know it at the time, but that was probably one of Granddad Gage's favorite things to do - have one of his many grandchildren on his lap.

One of his younger photos back in Iowa in the 1920's
Granddad Gage was born on 5 Apr 1892 in Esperance, NY to Orlando Gage and Edith Gallup.  He had had an older brother who had died as a toddler.  He had been in a walker and had scooted under a table and stood up.  He was killed by a nail poking through on the table.  (Granddad always reminded everyone of that when he saw a child in a walker.)  Orlando Gage had been a widower with another family before he married Edith Gallup. 
Granddad was the oldest of the four living children.  His name was Ora Silas, then the twins Pete & Phebe and his youngest sister, Alice.  In 1908, they lost their parents within 8 days of each other.  Their mother died of pneumonia and father had gotten sick and had died 8 days after their mother.  Granddad brought his siblings to Nebraska to live with their maternal Grandmother,  (Phebe Montanye Gallup) and then promptly left to off by himself and find a job at 15 years of age.  He worked as postman for a while, was in the army and then got work as a hired hand at a farm.  The story goes that he went up to a farmer who was advertising and asked what the pay was.  The farm said something like $5 a day...and Granddad replied that he was worth more than that.  Granddad said that he would work for him for two weeks and if the farmer didn't agree that he was worth $10 a day, he would move on with no pay.  After the first few days, the farmer didn't only agree he was worth the extra money, he paid him to make sure he kept him.  Granddad and Lou Brenner (the farmer) became lifelong friends.

Grandma Gage's 93rd birthday.  Granddad was 98.  This was the last time I saw him!  June, 1990
No one could accuse Granddad of being stupid or lazy.  While Granddad didn't have a lot of formal schooling, he was probably one of the better informed and well read people I have known.  I remember watching him read Herman Wouk's War & Remembrance in his early 90's.  He might have been reading with magnifying glasses, but he was reading it.  Part of that was an innate curiosity about life and a love of learning...perhaps part of was also being married to a schoolteacher.  The last time I saw Granddad Gage was my great grandmother's birthday in June of 1990.  They were still discussing what was going on in the world.  They were also still competing at answering the questions first while watching Jeopardy on TV.

 I have so many wonderful memories of Granddad.  It always reminds me how lucky I truly was.  When I think of a grandfather...I think of him, and he was my great grandfather.  Here are a few blogs that I have written about him through the years.

Grandpa Gage's School Picture 
Bib Overalls
They Lived their Faith
A Lifelong Love Story
A Job Well Done