28 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Yadkin Valley History & Genealogy Fair & Conference

The 6th annual Yadkin Valley History and Genealogy Fair & Conference is scheduled to take place on 13 August 2011. The event will be held at the Viticulture and Enology Building at Surry Community College, Main Campus, in Dobson, North Carolina.


23 June 2011

When Birth Certificate Information is Incorrect

In a recent post, I mentioned that I'd discovered some rather startling information pertaining to my maternal line. By talking to two of my cousins, I found out that my maternal grandfather is not the person I'd believed him to be. Even though William C. Kendall is listed as the father on my mother's birth certificate, he was not actually her father.

Her real father's name was Woodrow L. Land. Since both of my maternal grandparents are dead (as is William C. Kendall), I don't really have a lot of options in terms of trying to obtain some kind of proof. As a genealogy enthusiast, I consider it important to be able to add some type of documentation to my research in order to back up this claim.

While I do not have anything in writing, I do have a photograph of my maternal grandmother and grandfather together. It was taken approximately one year before my mother was born.

Through my conversations with my two cousins, I have learned about the circumstances surrounding my mother's birth. Only one of those conversations actually qualifies as first-hand knowledge because this particular cousin was present at the time of these occurrences. I have made note of our conversations simply for the purpose of adding first-hand knowledge to my family tree for this change in circumstances.

I'm still working on trying to come up with some additional verification.

21 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Highland Scots in North Carolina

North Carolina was the most popular colony for Highland Scots to migrate to during the 1700's, according to the North Carolina History Project. What made North Carolina so attractive to these Highlanders?

In part, their intense immigration was likely due to the ten-year tax exemption they were granted by royal governor (and Scottish immigrant) Gabriel Johnston in 1739. In addition, Johnston offered Scottish immigrants other perks for choosing to settle in North Carolina, including land grants in the Upper Cape Fear region.

During this time in Scotland, Highlanders were being evicted from their land or paying rapidly increasing rent monies on their property. Between the land grants and the promised decade of living tax free, many Scots saw their move to the North Carolina colony as the only option left available to them.

Some of the most important eighteenth century Highland Scots in North Carolina:

James Campbell
Flora McDonald
Hugh McRae

James Campbell is known for establishing three Presbyterian churches in Cumberland County. Flora McDonald's claim to fame is that she helped to save the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland, 1745. Hugh McRae was a Gaelic poet.

In the eighteenth century, Highland Scots in the colonies spoke Gaelic exclusively. After the Civil War, the number of North Carolina Scots speaking Gaelic drastically declined, and by the mid-twentieth century, the language had all but completely disappeared.

The most prevalent Scottish surnames in North Carolina today are: Campbell, Clark, Bain, Black, Darrach, McLeod, McNeill, McPhearson, McAllister, Morrison, Patterson, Ross, and Stewart.


19 June 2011

What You See Isn't Always What You Get

I've written previously about my maternal grandfather, William C. Kendall. Because his name is listed on my mother's birth certificate as the father, I have always assumed it to be true. After all, birth certificates are generally considered to be reliable records for genealogy research, right?

I've known for a long time that there were some skeletons in my mother's closet. I learned that all was not what it appeared when I was just a teenager, but I never realized the extent of the secrets until recently. Despite what I've learned, I'm certain there are still more secrets about which I have no idea. But, one thing at a time.

I have a strict policy about not mentioning the names of individuals who are still living, so this post isn't going to be completely revealing. I'm writing about this simply because I hope this information might be helpful to someone else who has encountered this particular kind of problem while conducting research. Think about it. What do you do when you suddenly find out that one of the names listed on a birth certificate was an out-and-out lie?

I recently met a very dear lady who just happens to be my second cousin. While talking to her, I learned the true identity of my maternal grandfather: Woodrow L. Land. It's kind of weird, actually. I felt a certain sense of shock upon hearing this news, yet at the same time it was like I'd just had a nagging suspicion confirmed. The only thing I lack now is "evidence" of it all. To be honest, I'm not sure how I'll ever go about proving this since both of my maternal grandparents are dead.

To the best of my knowledge, no evidence exists that might help me to prove the identity of my grandfather. I have the word of two very reliable sources (relatives) who were present at pertinent times in my grandparents' history. That's certainly good enough for me, on a personal level, but is it good enough for my official family tree?

Everything I've read over the years has taught me that a genealogist is ALWAYS supposed to be able to verify information that she puts in her family history. It isn't generally accepted for people to simply put names in their trees without being able to back up their claims for the simple reason that anyone could do that easily enough (I could put Benjamin Franklin down as one of my great great grandfathers, but adding his name to my tree doesn't make it so).

In essence, it doesn't mean anything to other researchers to simply have names without resources. It does, however, mean something to me, in this instance, so I guess I'll have to choose to create the "Land" part of my maternal line without any hard evidence (at least for the time being). All I can do at this time is add notations to indicate that I have spoken with two of my relatives who have verified the information. I'll have to research to see if that is considered to be an acceptable genealogy practice. Either way, it is what it is.

16 June 2011

Paul Jennins Frazier, 1922-1945

While this post is a few days late, I felt it only right to pay tribute to our World War II veterans in honor of the 67th anniversary of D-Day.

Paul Jennins Frazier was married to Pattie Hooker (my first cousin 1x removed). He and Pattie were high school sweethearts and married in 1939. The couple had three children; two of them were born by the time Paul was shipped overseas to serve as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He was killed in action 28 February 1945 in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The American Battle Monuments Commission lists Paul Jennins Frazier as Missing in Action or Buried at Sea. His name can be found on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his dedicated service to his country.

14 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Peel Family History

I've been steadily researching James H. Peel for a while now. I've visited the Surry County Register of Deeds office and found nothing but the license for his marriage to my 1st great grandmother, Anna (or Ana) Catharine Bennett.

I'm a sucker for a good story any time, but I'm especially interested in family histories. While researching James H., I found some information about the "founding father" of the Peel family. Apparently, whether you spell it Peal, Peel, Peele, or Pehl, all Americans with some variation of this name in their lineage can claim descent from one English immigrant: Lawrence Peele.

Lawrence Peele was a 19-year-old who was hired by the London Company in 1620 to settle in the Virginia Colony along with 799 others. He managed to survive the various calamities that befell many of the other settlers and started a family that would span many generations. Though the writers of the website I've discovered (The First Peele Family in America) have found no mention of Lawrence's wife, they did find evidence of his son (Robert, born 1635).

Some of the historical information that is relayed on the site was obtained from a book written by Jonathan Peel (1799-1879), The Peels, A Family Sketch.

The First Peelle Family in America is a website worth visiting, especially if you happen to be interested in the Peel family (any spelling of that name qualifies). The authors of the site (Horace and Marvin Peelle) have compiled some very detailed data about the history of the Peels since their arrival in Virginia. In fact, Horace is writing a book entitled The First Peelle Family in America. Visitors to the site can view an outline of his book, which also charts the progress that has been made on each section to date.

I confess that I haven't finished exploring The First Peelle Family in America website, but I'm looking forward to learning more about the research these individuals have compiled. I'm planning to submit an inquiry about James H. Peel, so we'll see if I get lucky.

07 June 2011

Tar Heel Tuesday - Surry County Genealogical Society & "the Siamese twins"

The Surry County Genealogical Association is going to meet on Monday, 13 June 2011 @ 7:00pm EST. The meeting is scheduled to take place in The Teaching Auditorium at Surry Community College (in Dobson, NC).

What I found the most interesting about this announced meeting is the primary listed topic: "the Siamese twins Eng and Chang Bunker". Intrigued, I did a little research and found an article posted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill library about these twins.

Eng and Chang Bunker were born in 1811 in Siam (now Thailand). They were connected at the chest and lived relatively normal lives until they were teenagers. As teens, they acquired agents (Robert Hunter and Abel Coffin) and began traveling the world, delivering lectures and demonstrations (of what, exactly, I have no idea). Because of this massive amount of publicity, these two brothers became immensely popular; so much so that during the 1830's the term "Siamese twins" became universally associated with conjoined (or connected) twins in general.

Eng and Chang eventually settled in North Carolina, where they adopted the name "Bunker" and married two sisters (Adelaide and Sarah Yates) from Wilkes County. The sisters were not conjoined (nor were they twins). The couples both married in 1843 and produced 21 children between them.

Eng and Chang died in January 1874 at the age of 63. Chang passed away first from a blood clot in the brain; two and a half hours later, Eng also passed away. Eng's demise was attributed to shock caused by the death of his brother.


02 June 2011

James H. Peel

James H. Peel was my 2nd great grandfather. While I've found many notes about his middle name (it is widely believed that it was "Harrison"), I have yet to find any type of official documentation to confirm that. 

I find it interesting that I haven't been able to find much information about his parents. In fact, I'm not 100% sure that the names I have on record are correct. To the best of my knowledge, his parents' names were Jesse and Priscilla, but the only documentation I have to reflect this is James H.'s marriage license, and frankly his father's name is difficult to read. In fact, the longer I stare at that marriage license, the more convinced I become that "Jesse" is not the name listed (this whole process becomes a bit maddening after a while).

Based on the information I have, he was born 15 October 1808 in North Carolina (probably Surry County). He was married to two different women (not at the same time, of course). Wife number one: Mary Polly Gillaspy (or Gillespie). Wife number two: Ana Catharine Bennett (my 2nd great grandmother).

If the information I have is accurate, James and Mary had 7 children; James and Ana Catharine also had 7.

James and Mary's children: Hillary, Sarah, Alexander, Elizabeth, Eli, Martha, Minerva.

James and Ana Catharine's children: James, Eliza, George, Rosa, Susan, Lucy, Mary Jane.

James H. Peel has long been on my genealogy "to-do" list, but I haven't done nearly as much research on him as I would like. His name has recently been pushed up my list a bit simply because I have a fellow genealogy enthusiast inquiring about him. I always like to help other people by providing them with any information I happen to have, and the sheer lack of data that I have about this man has me intrigued.