Friday, August 29, 2008

James Jefferson Frankum

Jeff Frankum was the fourth son and fifth child of William W. Frankum and Martha Goodman, born February 17, 1852, in Linden, Perry County, Tennessee. The Frankum family lived in and around central Tennessee from the time of William's and Martha's marriage in Maury County in March 1841 until sometime after Jeff's birth. At the time of the 1850 federal census the family resided in Lewis County and included children William, Samuel and Mary. In 1860 the family had shifted west to Douglas County, Missouri, and an additional two sons, Allen and Jeff, had been added. One last child, Robert, would be born in 1864.

It appears that when the Civil War erupted, the family returned to their original home in central Tennessee. Father William and eldest son William T. enlisted for service to the Confederacy and served in the 42nd Tennessee Infantry in 2nd Co. K, which was formed of men from Perry County. The next eldest son, Samuel, served the Union in the 6th Tennessee Cavalry, Company E. According to family tradition, which has not been disproved by official records, all three would die from the effects of wounds received. Even though family tradition holds that Jeff himself served in the war, no record of such service has been found for him or his brother Allen.

The first census post-war found the remaining members of the family in Hickman County, Tennessee, in 1870. Gone are father William and brother Samuel. Mother Martha is the head of household and sons William T., Allen, Jeff and Robert are living with her. Daughter Mary had married in 1865 in Lewis County to Edward "Ned" Pope and the couple moved to Lawrence County, Arkansas, sometime before 1880. Family tradition is that William T. would marry, but die shortly afterwards of the ongoing effects of wounds he had received in battle.

The 1870 census is the last record that has been found for mother Martha and eldest brother William T. One rumor that has passed down in the family is that Martha remarried to a man named Gardner, but to date no marriage record has been found and a search of census records in 1880 has yielded no information on what might have happened to Martha.

The Frankum family seems to have stayed put for a few more years. Allen married Rebecca Qualls in Perry County in February 1872. As mentioned in a previous sketch, Jeff would marry Sallie Busby in approximately 1873, but it is not clear where the marriage took place. Perhaps Sallie had ended up in Tennessee. Perhaps Jeff had begun his migration to Texas and had returned to Missouri and reconnected with Sallie there. Or perhaps Jeff had traveled as far as his sister's home and met Sallie in Arkansas.

However and whenever Jeff and Sallie met and decided to marry is a mystery, but in 1877 they were making their way to Bastrop County, Texas. They were already the parents of George Lee (who would make the journey with them) and Mary (who died in infancy, reportedly in Arkansas). Sallie was pregnant with son William Henry at the time of their journey to Texas. Jeff and Sallie would make a brief stop in Daingerfield, Texas, to await the birth of their son on October 9, 1877. During the stopover Jeff got a job splitting rails. They resumed their travel after the arrival of William Henry and arrived in Bastrop County when their son was three weeks old.

Jeff and Sallie may have been accompanied by Allen and Rebecca. Or perhaps they followed or were followed by Allen and Rebecca to Bastrop County. In any case, both families were residing in the Watterson Community of Bastrop County at the time of the 1880 federal census. Youngest brother Robert was also in Bastrop County, living with Allen and Rebecca. All three brothers appear on a list of those who ran accounts in the Charles Coffin Watterson Store between 1878 and 1906. Jeff served as a trustee of the Staten School in Watterson during the 1899-1900 school year.

Jeff and Sallie added five more children to their family while they lived in Bastrop County. Son Jim (James Jefferson Jr.) was born in March 1880 and son Jack Taylor would come along in April 1884. Daughter Martha Ann, born in May 1886, would live only a few months and lies at rest in the Old Red Rock Cemetery. Daughter Dora was added in April 1890 and finally son Charlie joined the family in January 1892.

Jeff Frankum, age 34, holding son Jack Taylor, age 2
Sarah, holding Martha Ann, age 5 months
George Lee standing at rear, age 12
William Henry, standing at right, age 9
Jim, front center, age 5
Photo taken between May and October 1886

Jeff reportedly had his share of the wanderlust that seems to have run rampant in the Frankum family. Jeff and Sallie moved to Fort Bend County, stayed one year, and then returned to Bastrop County. In 1908 they relocated to Brady, traveling in covered wagons. It is said that he wanted to return to Bastrop County, but Sallie had had enough of moving and refused. Jeff died on July 17, 1912, in San Saba and is supposed to be buried there, though it has not been determined where.

Left to right, Dora Frankum, Sallie and Jeff Frankum,
Allen Pope (Jeff's nephew) and Charlie Frankum
Notation on back indicates photo taken at Glen Flora, probably about 1908

Most of Jeff's family ultimately moved to the Wharton area of Texas. Daughter Dora married and remained in the vicinity of San Saba.

From the San Saba News, August 1, 1912, pg 3:
In Memory of J. J. Frankum
J. J. Frankum was born in Middle Tennessee, Feb. 17, 1852, died July 17, 1912, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. John Newlin, in San Saba. Deceased was married to Mrs. Sarah Sanders. Brother Frankum was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. He confessed his faith at the early age of twenty five at New Hope, Bastrop county, and has lived a devoted christian until the time of his death. To them was born eight children, three girls and five boys. One boy and two girls have preceded their father to the other shore. All the other children except two were with their mother in her sad bereavement to comfort her. It is sad to part with those we love but God in his infinite power and wisdom saw fit to call him home and we can only bow to his devine will and say “Not our will but thine be done.”
A Friend.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sarah Elizabeth Busby

One of my mystery ancestors is Sarah "Sallie" Elizabeth Busby. I think I know she is the daughter of Martin Busby and his wife Elizabeth, but there are some researchers who think she may have been adopted by Martin and Elizabeth and that we don't really know her true name. I disagree.

The first record found for Sallie is the 1850 census of Fulton County, Arkansas, where she is listed as a 2-year-old in the home of Martin Busby. (Several transcribers of this census have mistakenly listed her as a twin of Zachariah, born in May of 1850. All I can say is, go back and look at that census closer. Sallie is written in between Mary and Zachariah and is shown as 2 years old.)

My grandmother was confident when she told me that Sallie was a Busby born near Salem, Arkansas, and, on another occasion to another family researcher, she added that Sallie had a sister named Lane. In the 1850 household of Martin and Elizabeth Busby in Fulton County where Salem, Arkansas, is located, there is an older daughter named Delaney. These three pieces of confirmed data have convinced me that this is the correct family.

Martin and Elizabeth apparently died between 1850 and 1860. By 1860 the children are scattered across southern Missouri, living with various families who may have adopted them, fostered them or been relatives. Nothing has been proven in this regard as yet.

Sallie married for the first time at approximately age 15 to a man named Sanders or Saunders. She herself was unable to tell her grandchildren how old she was at the time of her first marriage. Mr. Sanders/Saunders was killed by marauders as he and Sallie were riding through the woods. One family story that has been passed down hints that there may have been a child of this marriage who was given up for adoption after the father was killed. No record of the marriage or of the possible child has been found.

Sallie was reportedly only about 17 when she married Jeff Frankum. No one has been able to explain to me how they met or came to be married. In 1860, Jeff and his family, originally from Tennessee, are living in Douglas County, Missouri, not far from where some of the Busby children were located with the families who fostered them. Did Jeff and Sallie know each other from that time period? The Frankum family is back in Tennesse by November of 1861. The family had returned to Tennessee at the onset of the Civil War and Jeff's father and older brothers fought in Tennessee regiments. In 1870 Jeff is still living in middle Tennessee with his mother and siblings. Did Sallie somehow come to be in Tennessee after the war? Or did Jeff go back to Missouri? Again, no marriage record has been found in Tennessee, Missouri or Arkansas, although my grandmother gave me a firm date of December 20, 1873, for the marriage. It is a puzzle that remains to be solved. (If, indeed, the marriage took place in 1873, then Sallie would have been 25 and not quite the child bride of 17. The only explanation that has been presented for this disparity is that Sallie's parents died when she was quite young and she never knew for sure when she was born. However, I find this hard to swallow as there were older brothers and sisters who should have known the facts.)

Sallie & Jeff Frankum

A dark rumor floats among some family members that the child that may have been born of Sallie's first marriage was given up for adoption because Jeff was unwilling to take on another man's child. I have always hoped that it was a rumor and speculation and not fact. One does not like to believe that one's great-great grandfather could be so biased and cruel against a small baby. And I find it hard to believe that Sallie would have willingly abandoned her baby. I would find it easier to believe that the child either died or was given up because Sallie was alone and unable to provide for it. Another puzzle to be solved.

Sallie at her spinning wheel

So, we are left with the mystery of how Jeff and Sallie met, what was the name of Sallie's first husband, was there a child of her first marriage and what happened to that child, and how did Jeff and Sallie decide to move to Texas? In 1877, Jeff and Sallie, with two children and one on the way (who was my great-grandfather William Henry and who was born during the move), headed to Bastrop County, Texas.

Sallie Frankum

The Frankums were folks who liked to move around and Jeff was no exception. From Bastrop County, Sallie would follow Jeff to San Saba County where he died in 1912. Sallie lived to be about 85 years old and died in Wharton County in 1932. She is buried in the Wharton City Cemetery near her son William Henry.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anderson Dunavan and Elizabeth Beauchamp

The Dunivans/Dunavans came to Vermillion County, Indiana, from Virginia. The spelling varies between the "i" and "a" and records are found under both spellings. Most of the family eventually settled on Dunavan. Anderson, the great-great grandfather who donated the land for Niccum Cemetery, was the eldest child of John and Frances (Hughes) Dunavan. They are buried a few miles away in the Hughes Cemetery, another pleasant and secluded country cemetery.

The Beauchamps moved to Ohio from Delaware and it was in Pike County, Ohio, that Elizabeth was born to Rev. David and Dorothy (Juvinal) Beauchamp. David was a minister with the Methodist Episcopal Church. The family moved to Vermillion County, Indiana, when Elizabeth was just a baby. David and Dorothy Beauchamp are also buried in the Hughes Cemetery, in an adjoining plot to Anderson Dunavan's parents.

Anderson Dunavan married Elizabeth Beauchamp in May of 1844 and the couple had eleven children, the youngest of which, Matilda Ellen, would marry Tilman Wilcoxen and move a branch of the Dunavan family to Texas.

Anderson and Elizabeth Dunavan
(photo obtained from Carolyn Wilcoxen)

Around the turn of the century, many counties published histories that included biographical sketches of prominent citizens. Anderson's life was commemorated in one of these county histories, Portrait and Biographical Album of Vermilion County, Illinois:

ANDERSON DUNAVAN. The labors of this honest, upright and well-to-do citizen have resulted in the possession of a well-regulated farm of 170 acres, on sections 1 and 6, in Georgetown Township. The greater part of this the proprietor cleared from the forest, and labored early and late for many years in order to bring it to its present condition. By the exercise of great industry, frugality and good management, he has accumulated sufficient means to protect him against want in his declining years, while his career as a citizen has been such as to establish him in the esteem and confidence of his neighbors.

The native place of our subject was in Mason County, now West Virginia, eight miles above Point Pleasant, on the Kanawha River. His parents were John and Frances (Hughes) Dunavan, the former a native of Culpeper County, Va., and the latter of the same place. The mother's people were of English stock, and early residents of Pennsylvania. Her grandfather served in the Revolutionary War, and was shot through the breast. He recovered, however, and lived to be nearly one hundred years old. He was provided for during his old age by a pension from the Government. He traced his ancestry to Ireland, where his forefathers were mostly linen weavers by trade.

The father of our subject, with the exception of the time spent as a soldier in the War of 1812, occupied himself in agricultural pursuits. He and his wife spent their last years in Indiana. They were the parents of eight children, seven of whom grew to mature years--three sons and four daughters. Anderson, our subject, was the eldest, and was born March 22, 1820. He lived in the Old Dominion until a lad of thirteen years, then emigrated with his parents to Indiana, they settling near the State line in Vermillion County, Ind. He remembers the time when there were but five houses between Eugene, Ind., and Danville, Ill. As soon as old enough, he was required to make himself useful about the new farm, following the breaking plow, learning to cut wheat with the cradle, and laboring in the primitive style, both in sowing and reaping the harvest. Upon reaching man's estate he was married, May 29, 1844, to Miss Elizabeth Beauchamp.

Mrs. Dunavan was born in Ohio, and removed with her parents to Perryville, Ind., in 1830. The newly wedded pair settled on a farm in Vermillion County, Ind., and Mr. Dunavan in due time purchased 166 acres of land. Later he sold this, and crossed the State line into Illinois, purchasing, in 1855, the farm which he now owns and occupies. Much of this was covered with timber, and he has cleared all but fifteen acres.

The eleven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Dunavan are recorded as follows: James H, died when a promising youth of eighteen years; John A. married Miss Rebecca Mossberger, is the father of four children, and resides in Douglas County; Mary J. married Samuel Hines, and died leaving three children; Harriet J. died at the age of two years; Charles W., who remains at the homestead, married Miss Anna J. Howard, and is the father of one child; David A., also at home, married Miss Mary Williams, and has three children; Anderson J. married Miss Caroline Cravens, and is the father of three children; Edward H. married Miss Holder, and lives at the homestead; Edmund H. died when three months old; Lottie married Frank Breesley, and is the mother of two children, they live in this township; Tilder E. is the wife of Tillman Wilcox (sic).

James H. Dunavan during the Civil War enlisted in an Indiana Regiment, and died of the measles at home. Mrs. Dunavan is a member in good standing of the Christian Church, and a lady greatly respected in her community. Mr. Dunavan votes the straight Democratic ticket, and has served as School Director in this district several years. He may properly be classed as a representative citizen of Georgetown Township--one who has assisted materially in maintaining its reputation as a community of law-abiding and intelligent people.

In addition to providing the land for the Niccum Cemetery, Anderson and Elizabeth helped create Lowe's Chapel Methodist Church on a parcel of their farmland, as well as the Butternut School to the north of their home. Elizabeth died in 1898 and Anderson in 1907. They are buried in Niccum Cemetery at the highest point of the little cemetery. Many of their descendants remain in the area.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Niccum Cemetery

In 1892, great-great grandparents Anderson and Elizabeth Dunivan officially deeded the land where, in 1853, the Niccum Cemetery had been established in McKendree Township, Illinois, near the Union Corner Church. Niccum Cemetery had originally been intended to be larger, with additional land to have been donated by the Niccum family in return for having it named in their honor. For some reason the additional land was never donated and the cemetery that bears the Niccum name consists of only the land that was donated by the Dunivans.

Niccum Cemetery is one of my favorite cemeteries and I wrote about my visit there over on Woolgathering about two years ago. I hear the cemetery has been closed for future burials now. When we were there I snapped about 500 pictures of tombstones over two visits in an attempt to photo-document the marked burials. Almost everyone buried in Niccum Cemetery is a descendant of Anderson and Elizabeth Dunivan, or is a member of a family that married into the Dunivan family and I did not want to miss getting a photo of the stone of any relative on what might be the only time I had the opportunity to visit the cemetery.

Road to Niccum Cemetery (graves can be seen in the distance)

It is said Niccum Cemetery is haunted and it recently got a little bit of national exposure when a team from Psychic Kids visited for a show they were doing about a local psychic teenager who claims to be in communication with a hostile spirit there.

The entrance to Niccum Cemetery

Most everybody that knows me well knows that I have had a few psychic experiences myself in cemeteries, so when we visited we were half-hoping, half-apprehensive that something might happen. What we found was a most peaceful country cemetery in the middle of a vast corn field and we never felt anything in the least bit unusual or uncomfortable while we went about the business of ensuring we did not miss getting photos of every stone.

A Dunavan cousin who lives in the area told me that many people have reported having unusual things happen in the cemetery, including the feeling that something or somebody was trying to get in their car or of having their hair pulled. Maybe we did not arouse any spirit's mischievious or hostile behavior due to my being a member of the family. Or perhaps because we were there on a respectful mission. In any event, I found myself feeling very peaceful and welcome there.

Looking upward from the bottom of the cemetery.

During a recent phone conversation with another Dunavan cousin who lives in the area, he pointed out that I am related to just about every person buried in that cemetery, with the exception of the Zinn family. The Zinns, it seems, were the original owners of the land and when they sold it, they were granted the right to be buried there. It's a funny coincidence that one of the first contacts I had after loading all the graves into FindaGrave was a descendant of the Zinns. Some of the stones for the Zinn family had been missing at the time of our visit and I had assumed they had been lost over time. It turned out that they were being restored and were reinstated at the cemetery shortly after our visit.

A gnarled tree stands guard over Niccum Cemetery.

I always enjoy visits to the final resting places of my ancestors, but some cemeteries are special. Niccum Cemetery is one of those special places, as is the Old Red Rock Cemetery in Bastrop County, Texas, and Blackfoot Cemetery in Pike County, Indiana. When I visit a cemetery where considerable family is buried, I always feel a special sense of welcome. I'm convinced the ancestors know I'm there and appreciate that I've made the trip to pay my respects.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lucinda Ellen Niccum Wilcoxen

Lucinda "Lucy" Ellen Niccum was the daughter of William and Maria (Smith) Niccum. Lucy's father married three times to three sisters. All but one of his children was born to his second marriage, with one son being born in his first marriage. In addition to the older half-brother/half-cousin, Lucy was the middle sister of six girls and two younger brothers. In one of those peculiar coincidental events, Lucy Wilcoxen died exactly one year to the day after her husband's death.

A companion photo to the one posted previously,
also made approximately 1904 in Union Corner,
Danville Township, Illinois
Parker and Lucy Wilcoxen with their
children and grand-children
(photo obtained from Carolyn Wilcoxen)

The Danville Press, May 11, 1918

Died on First Anniversary of the Death of Her Husband, Parker Wilcoxen, Prominent Farmer.
Mrs. Lucy Ellen Wilcoxen, for many years a resident of the Union Corner neighborhood, and widow of the late Parker K. Wilcoxen, a prominent farmer of this county, is dead at her home following a lingering illness from a complication of disease, of which dropsy and paralysis were the most severe.The death of Mrs. Wilcoxen, while not unexpected by her wide circle of friends, came as a distinct shock to all, for she was one of the most beloved women in the neighborhood in which she lived. Mrs. Wilcoxen had been practically an invalid for the last several months. She passed away at 7 o'clock yesterday morning, May 10, 1918.

Mrs. Wilcoxen's demise occurred on the first anniversary of the death of her husband, Parker K. Wilcoxen, who passed away at the family home on rural route No. 6 one year ago yesterday. Her health had been bad prior to the death of the husband, but since then, she had gradually grown weaker and for the last several weeks her death had been almost hourly expected.

Mrs. Wilcoxen was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Niccum, and was born on the Silas Sandusky farm, near Indianola, on December 14, 1844. Her father was a tenant on this farm for many years, and the deceased resided there until her marriage to Parker Wilcoxen, when she removed to a farm near Gessie. Mrs. Wilcoxen is survived by four sons and a daughter. They are Tilman Wilcoxen, of Glen Flora, Tex., Edward Wilcoxen, of Danville; Oscar and John Wilcoxen, who reside at home, and Mrs. Jane Hess, who also resides on the homeplace. Mrs. Phoebe Hines, of Gessie, Indiana, is a sister of the deceased,and Gilbert Niccum, of Kansas, is a brother.

Funeral services for Mrs. Wilcoxen will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:30o'clock from the United Brethern church at Union Corner, of which the deceasedwas an active and faithful member. The pastor of the church will officiate,and the burial will be in the Niccum Cemetery.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's In a Name?

Before I proceed with a post on Lucinda Ellen Niccum, I thought I would comment on naming conventions.

One of the techniques that we genealogists use is the study of the names that keep reappearing in family lines. Depending on the ethnic origin of the people in question, you can sometimes follow an established pattern for the ways that parents named their children to help you determine relationships.

For instance, one of the common patterns goes something like this:

1st son named for the father's father
2nd son named for the mother's father
3rd son named for the father
4th son named for the father's oldest brother
5th son named for the father's 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother

1st daughter named for the mother's mother
2nd daughter named for the father's mother
3rd daughter named for the mother
4th daughter named for the mother's oldest sister
5th daughter named for the mother's 2nd oldest sister or father's oldest sister

Of course this is only a rough rule of thumb and the traditions do vary from culture to culture. Sometimes you will find that the parents follow the pattern religiously for a few of their children and then come up with a name from out in left field and you can never figure out where they found it. But, sometimes you get lucky and it helps you narrow down which children belong to which parents when there are multiple folks in the county by the same name. Or, you can end up with a real mess when everybody in a family uses the traditional naming conventions and you have a half dozen John Masons running around of the approximate same age. This is what we genealogists call fun.

I myself am named for my mother's mother Lucy, which falls right into the pattern. At the time I was born, however, another Lucy was very much in the limelight with a popular television show. As a result, Mother did not want me called Lucy. She came up with the alternative Lucinda, which accomplished paying tribute to her mother and keeping me from being associated with a dingy redhead. Then she promptly nicknamed me Cindy so I wouldn't be nicknamed Lucy anyway.

When my brother came along, they chose David because they just liked the name. Considering my grandfathers were Arthur and Horace, it was probably better they did not follow tradition but went their own way. Not that there's anything wrong with those names, but I don't think little brother would make a good Arthur or Horace. They did, however, give him my father's middle name, so they did make some concession to tradition.

As I'm sure most people feel at some point, I wasn't all that fond of my name when I was young. I really liked another family name, Amanda, but that was a name in my father's line and I guess it didn't appeal to my mother. The name was still available when my cousin came along a few years later, so she got to inherit that particular honor. I found out years later that they almost named me April, another name I like very much, but that was turned down for fear I would be nicknamed "Ape" when I got to school. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned to appreciate my old-fashioned name, not only for its beauty but for the fact that there aren't that many Lucindas running around.

But getting back to Lucinda Ellen Niccum. Family legend gave her name as Lucy Ellen Niccum and everything I found for a long time verified that fact. But one day, in my early days of chasing census records, I found Lucy with her parents and made a startling discovery. In 1850 she is listed as Lucinda E. I can remember clearly sitting in the Texas State Library, looking at that microfilm screen and discovering that I shared a name with a great-great-grandmother. It felt like an electric connection had tied me into the past in a twinkling of an eye.

I am happy that I was named for my grandmother, a truly special woman. I am also happy that I share a name with another ancestress in my father's line. It makes me feel like I am tied to both of these women in a special way.

Where they got my middle name, I haven't a clue.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Parker Kelley Wilcoxen

Parker Kelley Wilcoxen was the only son of Nathan Baker Wilcoxen and Rutha Wilcoxen. Nathan and Rutha were cousins who married on June 3, 1830, in Columbiana County, Ohio. Their son was born January 30, 1835, near Galapolis, Ohio, and was probably named for his uncle, Nathan's brother Parker. His middle name Kelley most likely came from his mother's side of the family where there are connections to an Ohio Kelly family. The family was still living in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1850, but by 1860 had relocated to a farm near Gessie, Indiana, in the county of Vermillion. Nathan and Rutha also had three daughters, Aletha, Rebecca and Christina.

Parker married Lucinda Ellen Niccum on July 16, 1863, in Vermilion County, Illinois, which adjoins Vermillion County, Indiana, on the state line. The Niccum family lived on the Illinois side of the line, while the Wilcoxen family lived on the Indiana side. The families would remain in the area, crossing back and forth across the state line, leaving a trail of records in two states.

Parker & Lucy Wilcoxen, center front,with children
Tilman, front left and Edward, front right
standing, left to right, Oscar, Jane and John
photograph taken
about 1904/1905
in Union Corner, Danville Township, Illinois
(photo obtained from Carolyn Wilcoxen)

Census records and Parker's obituary report that Parker was a farmer. Parker and Lucy had 11 children, but only the 5 shown in the picture above would live to see adulthood. Four of their children remained in the Danville area. Tilman moved his family to Wharton County, Texas, in an effort to alleviate his rheumatism (according to family legend) and founded the Texas branch of Wilcoxens. Tilman and Matilda Wilcoxen returned to the place of their birth to attend the funeral of Parker in 1917:

The Danville Press, May 12, 1917
Mr. and Mrs. Tilman Wilcoxen of El Campo, Texas, have arrived to attend the funeral of the former's father, Parker Wilcoxen, who died at his home near the Union Corners church Thursday afternoon at the age of eighty-two years. Funeral services will be held at the residence at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon with the pastor of the Union Corners church officiating, and burial will be made in the Niccum cemetery.

Parker's obituary has a few discrepancies with the known facts, though this is quite common when obituaries are written under stress and quite often by someone other than immediate family:

The Danville Press, May 11, 1917
Parker K. Wilcoxen, Resident of Vermilion County Nearly Eighty Years Passed Away.

Parker K. Wilcoxen, a resident of Vermilion county nearly eighty years, and one of the oldest and most prominent farmers in this section of the state, is dead. Mr. Wilcoxen, who had resided in the Union Corners neighborhood, about eight miles southeast of Danville, practically all of his life, passed away yesterday afternoon, May 10, 1917. His death occurred at 4:30 o'clock, following an illness of about two weeks duration from a complication of diseases. His demise, which was hastened by organic heart trouble, while not wholly unexpected by the members of his immediate family and his wide circle of friends, came as a great shock to those who knew him.

Parker K. Wilcoxen was a native of Ohio, and was born in that state 82 years, 3 months and 11 days ago. He was a son of one of the oldest settlers in Ohio, who removed to this state and settled in the then unbroken wilderness eight miles southeast of Danville when the decedent was about two years of age. For eighty years the decedent resided on the place where his death occurred.
[This conflicts with the 1850 census records which indicate the family was still living in Gallia County, Ohio. Parker is shown on that 1850 census record as 15 years old.]

Besides the aged widow Mr. Wilcoxen is survived by five children. Nine children were born to him, but four of them preceded him in death. [Information passed down in the family indicates two additional children who died as infants.] The surviving children are Tilman Wilcoxen, who resides in Texas, and Edward, John and Oscar Wilcoxen and Mrs. Melinda Hess, who reside in the neighborhood of Union Corners.

Funeral services for Mr. Wilcoxen will be held from the last home Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock. The pastor of the Union Corners church will officiate and the body of the aged man will be laid to rest in the Niccum cemetery.

Two years ago I made the journey to Vermillion County, Indiana, and Vermilion County, Illinois, and visited the graves of Parker and Lucinda Wilcoxen in the picturesque Niccum cemetery.


Monday, August 4, 2008

In the Beginning

I've often wondered how it is that some genealogists decide to focus on one line almost exclusively. I've benefited from the research of these devotees of "one name studies", but I don't understand them.

How does one decide to concentrate on half of their family and ignore the other half? Well, maybe there are reasons sometimes. Maybe you have a bad relationship with your mother's family and a good relationship with your father's. Maybe your parents split up when you were young and nothing is known about your father's family. There are all sorts of personal reasons that might lead you to have an aversion to a particular branch of your family.

But it would never have worked for me. Every time I capture a previously unknown ancestor, there is a thrill of victory. Aha, I have you!

Every time I slam into a brick wall, there is a momentary flash of defeat, followed by an increased determination to keep digging until I find them.

I've captured a lot. I use Family Tree Maker software to keep track of all the extended family I've laid claim to. At present I have more than 11,000 individuals in my database that are related to me. I continually seek to add more, beating myself against those brick walls until I feel something start to give and then throwing myself at them again and again until I break through.

I've been at it some 40 years and the brick walls are getting harder. But I'm getting better and better at turning the right corners and opening the right books and phrasing the right Google search.

There are some really interesting characters in my family. I'm a little unsure where to start. I will be posting small items, like obituaries. I will be posting large items, like detailed time lines. I will post anecdotes passed on by great aunts and uncles. I will share items that have been shared with me by cousins I know only by email. I will post puzzles I'm pondering. I will post lots of pictures.

New genealogists are urged to set a goal to find their "sixteen", meaning the names and vital statistics of their sixteen great-great-grandparents. It's a manageable goal and a good place to start. My sixteen are:

Parker Kelley Wilcoxen and Lucinda Ellen Niccum
Anderson Dunivan and Elizabeth Beauchamp
James Jefferson Frankum and Sarah Elizabeth Busby
Gabriel Moore Lentz and Amanda Horton Lentz (cousins)
Adolphus Lycurgus Henry Hodge and Mary Frances Huddleston
Joseph Sheppard Mobley and Mary Caroline Morgan
John Mason and Mary Harworth
Albert McAfee and Johney Elizabeth Underwood

In these sixteen individuals, we already have traveled north to Indiana and Illinois, east to Ohio and West Virginia, south to South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama and west to Texas and Kansas. They include preachers, teachers, weavers, farmers, and doctors. They are the generation who lived through the Civil War, with family members fighting for the Confederacy and for the Union and in the Indian Wars that followed shortly afterward. You will find both the righteous and the wicked here.

Their descendants are scattered coast to coast. And only my brother and I stand at the tip of the inverted pyramid and share the mingled blood of them all. Pretty awesome concept. We share each of them with hundreds of cousins. But only the two of us can claim them all.

They are mine. Allow me to introduce them to you. One by one.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Our Founding Fathers and Mothers

While I've mentioned my genealogy pursuits many times over on Woolgathering, it was always my intention for Woolgathering to be a journal and not a history venue.

Building Blocks is dedicated to genealogy. It is my intention to present here biographical sketches of my forefathers and foremothers, the foundation upon which my family is built. The more I find out about them, the more they have become real people and not just dates and locations on a sheet of paper or computer screen.

Many of my ancestors were average people with average lives. Some were scoundrels. All of them were unique. I want them to be remembered for the people they were, warts and all. Every one of them contributed something to the person I am.

I am their legacy.