Tuesday, April 29, 2014

JP Johnson interview

I recently e-mailed J.P. Johnson-Volunteer & coordinator of the Muhlenberg county KYGenWeb project.

I have been a fan of the website (sorry JP for calling it a blog) every since I started researching my family tree.  I had tons of questions for him & he was awesome enough to answer me.

Me:  What inspired you to get into genealogy?
J.P.:  I started doing my own family's genealogy in 2001. My friend David had been doing his genealogy for several years and he said I should start my own. Sometime around that time I volunteered to do the Muhlenberg County website for the organization KYGenWeb which is a part of the USGenWeb which is a group of volunteer amateur genealogists who maintain websites for each county of every state. I think there is also WorldGenWeb too, but I'm not sure.
Me:Did your family come from Muhlenberg County?
J.P.: I was born in Muhlenberg County and lived there until I left for college in 1994. My family still lives there. My Dad's family was from Butler County and Ohio County Kentucky but my Mom's family has been in Muhlenberg since the early 1800s. The Noffsingers (my grandfather's family) is considered a pioneer family.
Me:Are you a genealogist?
J.P.:I am an amateur genealogist. I do not have my certification. But I consider myself a genealogist. At the library where I work, I get to work some in the Kentucky Room which is mostly Kentucky history and genealogy.
Me:What advice do you give to new bloggers?
J.P.: I don't consider the website a blog. It's just a website. I do have a blog where I talk about books, politics and just whatever else interests me, but I haven't been updating it regularly. My advice is to find your voice and blog about what interests you and your audience will find you. Start out doing it for yourself, don't worry about who is reading it and eventually you'll find that people are reading it.
Me:How do you have records available on your site that haven't even made it to Ancestry.com or Familysearch.org?
J.P.As for the records, like I said, I work at a library but I also have access to the special collections and newspaper microfilm at the University of Kentucky, so if something appears on the website that isn't on either Ancestry or Familysearch, it probably came from my library or UK. Everything I have on African Americans in early Muhlenberg comes from Deeds that UK has on microfilm in their special collections or in the example of the first African American marriage book, I copied that directly from the courthouse in Greenville.  But then also, people contribute information too, and that's always a big help.


Alney McLean-was he my 4 times great grandfather

My 3 times great grandfather, Alney is a huge brick wall for me.

On his death certificate, it states that his father was Lee McLean & his mother was Harriett Silvey Hayden.

I can not find a Lee McLean, but I did run across the name Alney McLean.
Alney McLean started as the surveyor & played a significant part in laying out the town Greenville, where he died.  
He also was a captain in the War of 1812. Which is why McLean County was named after him.

He & his wife Tabitha married & had 10 children.  They did live in Muhlenberg & he did own slaves.  Unfortunately, the slave schedule doesn't name his slaves.

What are the odds that my ancestor was named after a complete stranger?

I know that being named after a president was common back then, but he wasn't president.  He was a judge until his death & he was elected to congress twice, but why would Harriett name her son after him?  If it were just the first names that they share, I probably wouldn't guess he was his father, but I wonder why my ancestor has his first & last name

Also, did they call Alney McLean Lee?  

If there are ancestors of Alney McLean out there, who may have knowledge of his slaves, I could really use some help.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

35 ancestors

I've recently started following an awesome blog called No story to small by Amy Johnson Crowe.

She came up with the brilliant idea to feature a different ancestor every week & start a challenge for others to do the same thing.

Why didn't I think of that?  And why didn't I see this 4 months ago?

Unfortunately for me, the challenge is well underway. As a matter of fact, they are 16 ancestors in.  

So I had an epiphany (if you know me, then you know I am famous for them) I may have missed the challenge, but I can hopefully do something similar.  I love the idea & I wish I'd come up with it myself.  Why not focus on one person every week. BRILLIANT! That's pretty much what I do anyway.  I just had not put a title to it yet.

Thanks a lot Amy!

1790=Mulatto 2014=biracial

If you are like me, the term mulatto was not one taught in a high school history class.  
I first started to notice the terminology searching through early census records.  I had to look it up because I'd never heard anyone called that before.

Early in history, (1790 until about 1930) If a slave owner raped or carried on a relationship with a slave & the product of that interaction was a child=the child was considered to be mulatto.

If a slave & a Indian had a child together=that child was considered a mulatto.

The term was not a popular one with black people.

It wasn't like being lighter put you in a better place back then.  Being lighter meant you weren't excepted by either group.  The act of passing for white became popular.  

To make matters worse, the practice of skin bleaching also became just as popular.  An act that continue even today.

Since I started researching my tree, I've always had a fascination with how fair my mother's family was.  (My great grandmother Probie & my grandmother Bessie clearly were not just black women. Both woman reflect clear white or Indian features, but had parents that were classified as black.)

The use of mulatto faded in the 1930 & today the term biracial is all that you will hear. 

Mixing races is the norm now, but at one time, it was almost a sin.  Everything that I've read speaks about the negativity of this term & it's use.  However, similar to other terms used to classify black people, we were forced to use it. Certain census records recorded only 3 races: white, black or mulatto. There was not in between.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Central city: a town with so many names

Central City didn't start out with that name.

Charles S Morehead owned a steam powered gristmill on the land that would become Central City.  

When I first read that, I wondered what a gristmill was.  I found out that back then grinding corn & flour was done with a horse powered mill to turn it into grain. 

Morehead's horse mill was incorporated around 1870.

However, 3 years later it was renamed after another landowner, John Stroud.  At that point it was known as Stroud City.

With the rapid growth of the railways & coal back then, Stroud City grew quickly.
The Central coal & iron company had the most impact on their town at the time, which is why it was ultimately known as Central City.

Still just another small town, but the largest city in Muhlenberg county.

Measuring a total of just over 5 miles, Central City is what is known as a 4th class city in Kentucky.  Which means over 3,000, but less than 8,000 people reside there.

Only a little over a mile from South Carrollton, I see how both sides of my Wickliffe family ended up here. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who were the other children?

My three times great grandparents, Alney & Laura Wickliffe had 6 children, but only 5 were living in 1900.

My two times great grandfather, James, was the oldest-born in 1863.  5 years later, my great, great aunt Dinah was born.  Charles, the youngest wasn't born until 1886.  

The only other child I can find affiliated with them, was a son born in July of 1876.  He died within 2 days of his birth & the death certificate does not state why.  

I can't find birth or death records for any other children.  

Who was the other child?

I assume he/she would have been born before Charles/1886. (The 1900 census does not mention any other children other than Charles, but that's where I found the info that they had 6 children, 5 living.)

Unfortunately, the 1880 census is torn & I can't make out any other names other than the one's I am already aware of.

I wonder if there is another 1880 census or tax record that I could look at that may tell me more?????????

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Henry Wickliffe-Insane or sick

Henry was the older brother of my Great Grandmother Odie.

Although Henry lived with my great grandmother Lou most of his life, he did spend a few years in Indiana (I think I found him in Warrick, IN in 1920.)& also spent some time in Illinois.

Where did Henry live in Illinois?  

Anna state hospital for the Insane

Yes, a mental institution.  

When I first saw his name on the 1920 census record in a mental institution, my first thought was:

Was he mentally ill?

I did a little research on the ancestry.com message board & I found out that it wasn't just the mentally ill that stayed here.  If a patient had cardiac or stroke related issues, they may have been sent here too.  

It's still makes me curious about why he never married or had children.  

Was he mentally ill?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How I knocked down my first brick wall

Familysearch.org is a secret I found only a short time ago.

I had been trying to find the maiden name of my two times great grandmother Lou.

First, I had no clue what her real name was.  Grandma Lou is all my mother had ever known.  
All of the records I had come across & those given to me by family members never mention any other name other than Lou Wickliffe.

I posted a message on the ancestry.com message board.  (Something I rarely do, but I was trying everything I'd learned to do to knock down a brick wall.)  Someone actually responded to me & asked me if I had tried finding my great, great grandparents marriage record on familysearch.  I had never even heard of the site.  

Long story short, 

Ancesty.com has a great video collection on YouTube.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All about me

This is one of my first professional pictures.

This week's Wednesday's child is none other than........


I've done hours & hours of research on the family I know & family I've never met, but I've never blogged about the author of this blog.......ME.

Born a week late, my parents had no idea how special their first child would be.  

I loved Barbie, my cat & anything sour when I was a kid.

My parents would eventually marry other people & when it was all said & done, I have 7 siblings-5 sisters & 2 brothers.

Looking at this photo, I don't see the Wickliffe in me (especially not the hair), but I know it's there.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Aunt Pal

It wasn't until I started researching my family tree that I found out her real name was Audrey.

The only member of my mother's family that I knew going up (besides her siblings), was Aunt Pal.

When I was 15, we moved across the street from Aunt Pal & Uncle Eddie.  

She was the first person to show me a picture of my grandmother.  (It's a picture of Grandma holding Uncle Lonnie.  I remember ever detail about that picture.  I also remember thinking how white my Grandmother looked.)  

She had birds in a cage in her family room & I loved going over to poke at the cage.

She also still had Barbie's so as a little kid, going to her house was cool.  
She once let me borrow the book Gone with the wind.  
When she gave it to me, she told me that it had been in our family for years & not to lose it. 
(Of course, at 16, I lost it.)

Hiawathe Crowe, her first husband, another surprise to me.  

Uncle Eddie is the only uncle I've ever known about, but my mother told me he was not Carl's (her son) dad.Hiawathe & Aunt Pal married on August 29, 1934.  I'm really not sure when they divorced, but he is back living his mother in the 1940 census. Also, she & Uncle Eddie were married April fool's day in 1947.

Speaking of the 1940 census, I wonder where I can Aunt Pal?  

I found Carl with my great grandparents in Muhlenberg, but she isn't mentioned.I can't find her in Indianapolis until 1947 when she married Uncle Eddie.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The other Harrison Wickliffe

Since I started tracing my family tree, I've run into the duplicate name issue.

Of course, my great grandfather was my first experience with this.

Harrison Wickliffe was a popular name in Kentucky in the 1800's.  I've found 3:
  • The oldest was born around 1815 in Danville, KY (in the heart of Kentucky).  He married Casina Wickliffe & they had 3 sons (Rowan, Joseph & Beatty) and a daughter (Florence).
  • Rowan, (a teacher I recently found out through census record), married Sarah Alice Wickliffe & their first son was named Harrison.
  • My great grandfather didn't name his first son (my grandfather) after himself.  
    • He must have been named after his grandfather/my great grandmother Probia's father Alfred Collins.
I've have to be careful saving records because of the names of course, but the similar locations & birthdays.

7 things I learned about South Carrollton, KY

The best part about searching family tree is finding out about where they came from.  
Learning about Muhlenberg county Kentucky has really been an adventure.  Here are a few things I've learned so far.

  1. South Carrollton currently only has about 185 people living there now.  (Only 5 of them are black.)  At one time, there were at almost 1, 000.
  2. One of the first mining accident was the one that killed my great uncle Leslie Gatton.  (See my previous post about the Moody mine explosion.)
  3. Originally, the town was called Old Randolph farm.  Later it was changed to Carrollton, KY (after the first postmasters grandson-Carroll McGowan).  The south was added on to distinguish it from Carroll county, KY.
  4. S.C. is the smallest town in Muhlenberg.  The whole town is less than a quarter of a mile.
  5. It has a 0% unemployment rate, however, the average salary is less than $19,000.
  6. Due to it's close proximity to Bowling Green, KY & Evansville,IN, at one point, it was considered be a prime river boat stop.
  7. Even though the Green river flows in S.C, one of the reasons for the declining population was the water shortage.
Looking for more info on Muhlenberg county? coggle.it link on the right.

I can't wait to visit.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Alfred & Bessie's boys

My uncles when they were babies.

Of my 4 uncles, I have only had the opportunity to spend time with one, my Uncle Dennis.  

The oldest,  Uncle Bernard (Gene) died in 1999.  
As far as I know, he lived in Minneapolis until he passed.

I don't know if he ever got married or had any children.

This picture was taken in my grandparents backyard.  

My grandparents house at 917 N. Tremont no longer stands, but this photo was most likely taken shortly after they moved there.
As far as when this photo was taken, I would assume before 1957. 

Anyone know when?

The city looked a lot different back then.