Category Archives: Family connections

New Location for Crittenden Family Reunion

We have a new location for our reunion on September 1, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm. We will meet immediately after the First Families Reunion in Tahlequah. Our reunion will be on the Cherokee Heritage Center property in the Chapel. The chapel has tables, chairs, rest room, and is big enough to hold 30-40 people…..and is air conditioned! The heritage center closes at 5. Our start time is approximate based on when First Family Reunion concludes. We have access to the chapel as early as 1pm if needed.

I will be arriving in Oklahoma by August 20 and will post directions to the site for the reunion soon after that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Descendants of Moses Crittenden Reunion plus Moore and West Updates

After a winter of organizing and tying up myriad loose ends, my summer is devoted to collecting new info. I am not sure why I am undertaking that as I still have so much research from prior trips to finish scanning and attaching to files.

However, the time is right as I have the summer on the road while I vacate my rental in Portugal to allow the owners to take advantage of renting it out at higher summer rental rates. While inconvenient, it is allowing me time to follow up on research on my Moore, West and Crittenden families. Here are updates on my summer plans regarding these three branches of my family.

Crittenden Family Reunion

Location Update for Reunion – See bolded italics below.

Get together for all descendants of Moses Crittenden on September 1, 2019. We will meet immediately after the First Families Reunion on the Cherokee Heritage Center property in the Chapel. The chapel has tables, chairs, rest room, and is big enough to hold 30-40 people…..and is air conditioned! The Heritage Center closes at 5. We have access to the chapel as early as 1pm if needed.

Our start time of 3pm is approximate based on when the First Family Reunion concludes.  Any Crittendens are welcome, including descendants of Moses’ siblings, cousins, etc.

Bring photos, stories, questions so we can all share what we know and what questions we might still be trying to answer. I have some news to share about my drive through Georgia where I located the general area of land that William Crittenden and his family were living on before leaving Georgia for Arkansas in the 1830s. I will post more about that here when my summer of travel is over.

Descendants of William L West (born about 1803 in South Carolina)

By the 1840s William was in Alabama. A wide array of his great grandchildren, 2x and 3x great grandchildren, and other extended family, are on the hunt for his parents’ names and records of his earlier years in South Carolina. Three of us met in Greenville in June to comb through documents in the libraries of three different counties. And while we found some interesting information and possible leads, nothing that definitively tells us the names and origins of Williams’ parents and siblings. More about that trip will be posted here later this year.

Descendants of Nicholas Moore Senior (born about 1712 in St Mary’s County, Maryland)

I am very fortunate to have a well documented tree of my paternal line laid out in Timothy O’Rourke’s book, “Maryland Catholics on the Frontier: The Missouri and Texas Settlements”.

However, how did they get to Maryland? Was it via England or Ireland? Where do we really come from? I am hoping to find answers to these questions when I spend ten days in St Mary’s County, Maryland in September.

So Many Questions

I started my genealogy quest with a few questions. I answered those questions long ago. With each answer, I had three more questions. And so it continues…

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee History in Alabama, Family connections, Nicholas Moore Sr Family, Research, William L West Family

Sorry for the Absence

It has been way too long since I have posted. I spent a lot of time last year solving a mystery on my father’s side of my tree with great results. Meanwhile, I moved to Portugal last Fall. It took a while to get settled in and then I have been traveling in the states since June. I will be back in Portugal in October and settled in one place starting November 1 for the next several months.

My goal is to spend my winter getting organized about tracing one lead at a time. I will also be planning two genealogy trips for next year, June 2019 I want to spend some time in Maryland following up on Nicholas Moore, born in Maryland in about 1712. I will be on a quest to trace back from Nicholas and find where in Ireland my branch of the Moore family started their migration to America.

In August and September 2019 I will be in Oklahoma for the First Families of the Cherokee Nation annual reunion (first time attending). Then to Mena, Arkansas where my great grandfather Moses Crittenden lived in the mid-1800s. Next to Guntersville, Alabama to the West side of my mother’s family.  And then to South Carolina where I hope to be able to go further back in our lineage from William L West who was born in South Carolina and migrated to Alabama in the 1800s.

Anyone with info on the Moores in Baltimore or Wests in South Carolina, please contact me.

Over the summer I did manage to do some additional research on the time spent by my grandparents James Richard West and Eliza Crittenden West in Roswell New Mexico in the early 1900s. More court documents on my grandfather. Once I have  a little more information I will post an update on the life of my very interesting grandfather!

4 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research

James R West – Man of Many Complexities

Finding out more about James R West, my grandfather, was one of the reasons that I started my genealogy research. James married my Cherokee grandmother, Eliza Crittenden, in 1903. I knew only broad strokes about their life together.

They married in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1903. Sometime shortly after that they moved to Roswell, New Mexico where they lived until about 1917. I knew that James left the family in 1922 and, except for a one day visit to Tulsa in 1929, he never contacted my grandmother or his children again.

James R West

James R West

Since starting my research I have found out more about their life together, but I still have so many holes in their story.

Based on some correspondence with the Dawes Commission regarding my grandmother’s land selection, I had a feeling that James was not in the household during their last years in Roswell. In October of this year,  I finally made my way to Roswell to see what I could find.

IMG_0221

Chaves County Court House – Roswell

I started with the Historical Society and their very helpful volunteer. Janice found a newspaper article that led me to do some research in the property file archives at the Chaves County Recorders Office. I found many land transactions in which James was involved, ending with charges being filed against him regarding some of those transactions. This mirrored activity by James that I had found several years ago in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Pages of land transactions concluding with him being sanctioned by a judge.

So, I went back to the newspaper archives. I found two more interesting articles about charges being filed against James for various crimes. My next stop would have been the court house to find out more about these charges and their resolution, but sadly I had to depart Roswell and my travel plans could not be changed. The wonderful Historical Society volunteer is going to see what she can find at the court house.

This week I decided to conduct a more intensive newspaper search and was overwhelmed by what I found, coverage of multiple charges and trials involving James R West, including horse smuggling, jury tampering, and attempted murder!

Clearly, my research will continue. I know that I will find out more facts, and hopefully find the court records regarding these cases. However, will I ever know the story surrounding the facts? What led James, who appeared to have a successful livery business at the time, to his actions? How did it impact my grandma, Eliza?

JamesRichard.4thfromleft.Roswell.NM.ca.1912 (2017_08_30 07_25_36 UTC)

James R West – second from right in black hat

Some of James’ story can be attributed to the fact that much of Oklahoma and New Mexico were still the Wild West in the early 1900s. Yet, that is not enough of an explanation for me.

I fear I will always be left wondering about so many details and nuances of my grandparents’ lives. It is the search and the uncovering of surprises that keep me going. I know that there will always be something else to find out.

This trip also reminded me that there is nothing like feet on the ground when following your family’s story in many diverse locations.

Do any of you have family that resided in New Mexico in the early 1900s? I would love to hear your stories. Who knows, maybe yours cross mine somewhere in Roswell.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Research

The West Family Cherokee Connections

When I started this blog I was aware that one of my West ancestors, Rufus Morgan West Jr (my great grandfather’s nephew), had married a Cherokee woman, Ellen Fain, and that my grandfather’s brother, David West, had married Rufus’s widow. What I found on my November 2016 trip to Guntersville, Alabama is that my West family’s Cherokee connection is deeper and more complex that I knew.

My great grandfather’s brother, Rufus Morgan West, married Nancy Merrill (interchangeably spelled as Merrell) in Alabama in 1843.

Rufus West and Nancy Merrll Licensce from Archives Office in Guntersville, Marshall County, Alabama

Rufus West and Nancy Merrell Marry in Alabama

My time in Alabama was full of discoveries, many of which I will share in future posts. The major finding was how deep my family’s Cherokee connections are in my West lineage. When I started this quest into my family’s history, I had compartmentalized my family’s Cherokee heritage on my mother’s side in her mother’s Crittenden line, not her father’s West line. But, of course, as we all know, tracing family lines is much more complex than we think when we start.

One of the most intriguing explorations for me has been studying the history of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the 1800s and early 1900s and finding out how often my West and Crittenden families’ histories were a part of some of the key events of that time, in both pioneer and Cherokee history.

I would love to hear from any West, Ferguson, Pollston, Merrill (Merrell), Stephens or other families who were residing in Marshall County in the general Guntersville area in the 1800s.

For more information on Alabama’s Cherokee history:

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1087

History of Merrill Mountain:

history-of-merrill-mountain

 

2 Comments

Filed under Cherokee History in Alabama, Family connections

Descendants of Moses Crittenden -Where Are They?

Moses Crittenden, my great grandfather, had 17 children.

His children with Edith Quinton were:
James Washington Crittenden 1849–1922
Malinda Jane Crittenden 1850–1932
Clara Crittenden 1851–1881
William Crittenden 1852 –
Perry Crittenden 1854–
Martha Elizabeth Crittenden 1854–1892
Elizabeth Crittenden 1859–
Edith Elizabeth Crittenden 1861–1945

Great Aunt Edith Elizabeth Crittenden

His children with Margaret Howell were:
Mary Ann Crittenden 1868–1945
Palmira Vianna Crittenden 1871–1939
Sidney Crittenden 1873–1925
Nancy Alice Crittenden 1875–1941
Eliza Jane Crittenden 1876–1970 (my grandmother)

GrandmaElizaJaneCrittendenWest.ca.1950

Dora B Crittenden 1880–1968
Margaret Rebecca Crittenden 1882
Isaac Moses Crittenden 1888-1957

IsaacCrittenden

One child with Emily Crittenden Weaver:
Anthony Crittenden 1854-1909

I know there are hundreds of Moses Crittenden descendants. My hope is that eventually we will all  find each other online and share family stories, photos and missing genealogy facts.

Meantime, I will continue to post my discoveries about my grandparents’ ancestors; the Crittendens, the Wests, the Moores and the Cartmills.

With this post goes a big hug to all of my cousins out there, known and unknown.

 

21 Comments

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

The Crittenden Photo Hunt Continues

Thank you to those who helped identify some of the photos that I posted last month.

Here is an update on the new information that I have.

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver, her son

I am in agreement with the input that I have had from other Crittenden descendants that the woman pictured here is not Emily Crittenden. Any readers know who she might be? Joe Weaver, on the right, was Emily’s son and the father of Mary Weaver Crittenden and Lewis Weaver.

Emily Weaver Family 1.3.7.6.10.11 photos

Current consensus is that # 1 is Lewis (Bullet) Weaver. Number 3 is Anthony Crittenden, Lewis’ older brother and Moses Crittenden’s only child with Emily Crittenden. The Albertys are in photo number 7. I need to do more research on the Albertys. Number 11 may be Emily’s youngest son, Sam King who passed away at a young age.

Emily Weaver Family 8.5.9.12.4.2

Emily Weaver Crittenden and other Family Members

Top row, left to right: Rachel Woodall (one of Emily’s daughters), middle photo is an Alberty, top row right is Emily Crittenden Weaver. Bottom row, left to right: Possibly Rachel Woodall as a toddler, middle is an Alberty, on the right is Anthony Crittenden.

I will keep you posted when I get more clarification.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Crittenden Weaver Photos – Need Help Identifying

I have mentioned here before what a treasure family photos are to me. I was surprised and thrilled when I received a comment in this blog from another Crittenden relative that I did not know about. Our connection is through Moses Crittenden and his relationship with Emily Crittenden Weaver.  The biggest thrill was that she had photos to share!

She was very generous in immediately sending me scans of her photos and her best guesses as to who they are. Some are scans of photos that were taken of original photographs in a photo album. There are also some scans of treasured original tin types.

I am going to attach the scans in this post with our combined best info about who is actually in the photos. I am hoping that someone who reads this will be able to provide more information and/or add to our growing collection of photos.

Charlotte and Lottie Robbins.Emily Crittenden Weaver Daughters

Photos of Charlotte and Lottie Robbins. Daughters of Emily Crittenden Weaver.

Anyone have any other photos of Charlotte and Lottie?

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver, her son

Although this is identified as Emily, based on another photo that I have of her, I do not think that this is Emily Crittenden Weaver.

 

Ben and Mary Crittenden - Dave Crittenden

Ben and Mary Crittenden – Dave Crittenden

Emily Weaver Family 1.3.7.6.10.11 photos.jpg

Here are some thoughts as to who the people in these photos might be.

1.Maybe Ben Crittenden
3.Don’t know
6. David Crittenden
7. Don’t know
10. Mary and her sisters and David Crittenden
11. David Crittenden

Emily Weaver Family 8.5.9.12.4.2

More photos with needing identifying.

Top row left – Emily Crittenden Weaver possibly – I do not think so.
Top row middle – Do not know
Top row right – I have had this photo identified by two people as Emily Crittenden Weaver. If so, then I do not see the resemblance to the photo above, next to Joe Weaver, identified as Emily Weaver. I was told that might be Emily, but she looks nothing like the woman top row, right, in this photo.
Bottom row left – Possibly David Crittenden’s sister who was blinded when she was young.
Bottom row middle – Do not know
Bottom row right – Do not know

Hoping this is read by someone who can help us shed more light on these treasured photos, or add some photos of their own of anyone connected to Moses Crittenden and his descendants.

12 Comments

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Patience is the Key When Researching Family History

In Ireland researching my Moore family history from the 1600s I was reminded again that there are no shortcuts in discovering your genealogy and family history.

On my father’s side I am very fortunate to have an 850 page resource researched and written by a cousin, Timothy J. O’Rourke, in 1973.  “Maryland Catholics on the Frontier”, traces my Moore family lineage up the paternal line starting with Nicholas Moore born in Maryland in 1712. His father is listed as “possibly” William Moore.

This very complete and well documented history amazes me every time I go back to it. In 1973 there were no quick answers via the internet and digital images. The book represents years of on the ground research and document searches.

Since I started my quest to find more about my mother’s ancestors, Crittenden and West, I have also been able to add to my knowledge of the Moore family with online digitalized copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and other documents verifying the research already done.

Our family’s oral history tells me that our ancestors immigrated to the United States in the Maryland area from Ireland in the 1600s. Not finding any definitive information online I got it into my head that a visit to Dublin (I was going to be in Europe already) and the genealogy department of the National Library of Ireland might provide some clues.

I was blown away by the antiquities available to research in their manuscripts sections, land documents from the 1500s and 16oos and even earlier.

1622 Mortgage Ireland.JPG

!5th and 16th Century deeds.JPG

However, I quickly realized that I was trying to make a very difficult leap from Maryland back to Ireland without enough information. I had thought maybe studying manuscripts with Irish Moore genealogies from the 1600s would provide me the clues that I needed. I did indeed find some genealogies with similar family naming patterns but none that mentioned family members moving to the United States in the correct time period.

I found documents with given and family names that could be a match to my family, but without enough detail to make a connection.

It this one of my ancestors - 1675.JPG

I met with a genealogist in at the National Library. She reminded me of what I really already knew. I was trying to skip a step. If I could not find what I needed about my Maryland ancestors online I needed to start in Maryland, on the ground, visiting libraries, court houses, churches and scouring documents in person.

In my quests for more information in both my Crittenden and West lines I already knew that my key links, when I was stuck, were found by going to Oklahoma and Arkansas and spending weeks examining papers that I could only access in person. Hours, sometimes days, spent finding nothing only made the reward that much greater when I would find a key piece of the puzzle of my family’s history when I was least expecting. Often when I was on the last piece of paper after four to five hours in a library or court house I would find my great reward.

I am already scheduled to go to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the fall of 2016 for the next step in Crittenden and West research. I now know that what I need to schedule next is a trip to Maryland to immerse myself in the Moore history of the 1600s and early 1700s.

I am confident that by remembering that I have to go back one step at a time, and that skipping a generation can lead to false assumptions, I will find the next missing piece in the link from Maryland to Ireland for my Moore ancestors.

Once I find that link I will go back to Ireland and search once more through hand written Moore family trees and land documents, like the one below with its awesome seal. When I do, I hope to be able to piece together the story of my family in Ireland.

Look at this seal from the 1600s.JPG

 

4 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Land, Research

Cousin, 2nd Cousin, 3rd Cousin?

It is hard to believe that it has been almost one year since I posted on the blog. No excuses, just explanations. As sometimes happens with genealogy research, life got in the way. Especially at this stage of my research, when there does not seem to be any research or discovery that takes place in an hour, it is hard to carve out dedicated time.

I pull up a research question, spread out all of my supporting documentation, and just about the time my head  stops spinning and I think I see a thread, my time is up!

My son and I started a travel information site, https://www.milesgeek.com/, about two year ago. Wonderfully, about this time last year it started taking hold. As the content editor, suddenly my obligations to the site became daily and have steadily grown over this last year. At 70, I no longer seem to be able to do my genealogy research between the hours of midnight and 3am, which is how I progressed so quickly my first few years.

That being said I have been making some slow progress, making good connections both through my past blog posts and matching Ancestry DNA results I have found close and distant cousins over the past year.

Which leads me to my tip for today. I believe that I found this site through Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society. It is a calculator for figuring out ancestor relationships.

http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/cousincalculator.html

I sent the following to my sweet Cherokee cousin Susie who I connected with through this blog.

Us

Cousin match with Susie

Me and Your Dad

Cousin match with Susie's Dad.jpg

Susie’s response – “This is so cool!!”

I am planning an extensive genealogy trip to New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and, hopefully, Alabama for later this year. In the meantime I promise at least a monthly post until July, when I plan to start again with posting every two weeks at a minimum.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Family connections, Journal

Finding Family Photos – Always a Treasure

I was fortunate today to discover several family photos of my grandfather Ernest Patrick Moore and his siblings as adults.

I was on Ancestry.com trying to help someone trace their birth parents. This person did not find out he was adopted until well into his adulthood. So far, the only thing he has to go on is the fact that I am a DNA match with high probability that we are first cousins.  I will write more about this next week and how I am using DNA circles to try to find out how we are connected.

Back to family photos.  I noticed I had some new photo hints for my family tree that were not there a few days ago. For those of you who are not Ancestry.com users, the system alerts you when other members post photos that are most likely relevant to someone in your family tree.

In this case the hint was about my great Aunt – nun Sister Cassilda.  I have very fond memories of my great aunt and her sister – nun Sister Patricia.  They would come to Oakland California, every few years to visit with their brother, my grandfather Ernest Patrick Moore.

Moore family photos

Captioned on Ancestry as Moore Adult Children

I especially remember one trip when we all went to Fisherman’s Wharf for the day and they bought me and my sisters little figurines of girls made out of seashells, at least that is my childhood memory of how I acquired that souvenir that I still had when I got married. Seeing these photos of Sister Cassilda and Sister Patricia today was such an unexpected treat!

My next step will  be to contact the person who posted the photos and identify exactly how we are related.  Maybe they will have even more photos to share. I may also have some photos that they have not seen. Finding personal stories about how my family members lived and discovering photos of them are the two things that bring me the most joy in the building of my family tree.

1 Comment

Filed under Ancestry.com Findings, Family connections, Journal

Christmas and Family

Christmas is all about family for me. Tonight and tomorrow will be spent with my two boys, their spouses and my grandchildren.

This afternoon I am remembering Christmases past with family members who are no longer with me, my dad and my grandparents.

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

Maternal Grandmother Eliza Jane Critteden West wtih her Adult Children about 1952

Maternal Grandmother Eliza Jane Critteden West wtih her Adult Children about 1952

I am also thinking about my ancestors and wondering what their holidays were like. Last month I was blessed to stand on the beautiful land in Arkansas where my great grandfather Moses Crittenden, many of his relatives and other early Cherokee settlers, lived for much of the 19th century.

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

Standing looking out over where they lived I could feel the community and lives of my ancestors surrounding me. Today I can’t help but wonder about their family holiday traditions over almost 40 years on that land. I hope they can feel the love that I send out to them this day across time and space.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal, Land

Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes

The Dawes Census Cards are an excellent source for working through complicated family connections.

At Ancestry.com the census cards can be found in the data base under; Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 

This data set contains the citizenship enrollment cards, sometimes referred to as census cards, which were prepared by the Dawes Commission. Individuals were enrolled as citizens of tribes according to the following categories:
•By blood
•By marriage
•Newborns, by blood
•Minors, by blood
•Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians)
•Newborn freedmen
•Minor freedmen

The census cards list information about the enrollee, and sometimes also include information about other family members.

You will need to have done your homework before you search these cards. I have found when I try to look up someone using only their name, I do not get a good return. If you are prepared with the Dawes Census card number, or the Dawes Enrollment number, and tribe you should not have any problem. It is helpful to also know the category (options listed above), although that may be one of the pieces of information that you are trying to locate.

If the person you are researching is not on the final rolls, you can use the following instructions, provided by Ancestry.com to try to locate them.
To locate an individual’s doubtful or rejected enrollment card, use the following steps:
1. Choose a tribal category, indicated as “doubtful” or “rejected”, from the browse table.
2. Choose an enrollment card number range.
3. Use the “next” and “previous” buttons on the image viewer to navigate yourself through the images.
4. Check the names listed on each image for the individual(s) you are looking for.

So, what can you find on these cards? If a person is mentioned on the card, even if it is not that person’s census card, they will still come up in your search.

I have been concentrating on one branch of my family, the descendants of my grandmother’s half-brother, Anthony Crittenden. One of my Crittenden cousins, Anthony’s great granddaughter, provided me with a search she had done on census card numbers for Anthony’s mother, Emily Crittenden Weaver. I started pulling up cards using those numbers.

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Why have I been concentrating on this branch of the family? Throughout the years there was a lot of intermarriage between families related through blood or marriage to my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.

My great grandfather died in 1899, before the interview process started for Dawes applicants. The Crittendens were a close knit family and a look at census data shows that many of the families often moved together from place to place. Through reading the interview packets of his relatives, I have been able to piece together a significant amount of information about locations and dates of moves from one place to another.

The Dawes application packets have a lot of information about spouses and children of the applicants. There is seldom any information about parents for applicants who are no longer minors. Siblings of adults are also seldom noted.  However, this information is often listed on the census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

The census data cards have been useful in putting together family connections, especially when trying to clarify details of two relatives with the same given and surnames born around the same year. The cards almost always list the mother and father of the applicant, along with spouses and children.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

The cards also have a lot of notes on them, including cross references to other census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Of course, the information I have found has led to many more research questions, and hours browsing through even more Dawes applications. More about that in a future blog!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Dawes Allotment, Family connections, Journal, Research, Uncategorized

Family Time

I am taking a break from posting an informational blog this week. I will be traveling to spend some time with mother, who will be 95 this May.  When I return I will be posting about my searches using the Dawes Enrollment cards.  I am finding them a useful tool in working through some of the complex family relationships that have been perplexing me.

I leave you this week with photos of the people who inspired my search through my family history, my mother and father

Joe and Nita Moore on their Wedding Day, July, 13, 1941

Joe and Nita Moore on their Wedding Day, July, 13, 1941

.

Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

Leave a comment

Filed under Family connections, Journal

Conflicting Data and Your Family Tree

I was not planning on writing about Conflicting Data in today’s post. In fact, I started this post yesterday and the topic was going to be information available in the Treaty of 1828 enrollment lists and related Muster Rolls of Cherokees.

As I started to record that information in my Ancestry family tree and write my article I realized that some of the information that I had recently collected did not coincide with the information that I had listed previously in my tree.

I feel pretty confident about my recorded Crittenden and West family information from about 1850 forward, as I have documentation from more than one source to back it up. Before 1850 there are less primary sources for data. Some of the secondary sources, like family histories, or books written based on early oral histories, provide conflicting data.

Crista Cowan, from Ancestry.com has a six part series on YouTube about accepted genealogical proof standards. There is also clear and detailed information offered on the Board for Certification of Genealogists web site, including a link to their book, “Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition (2014)”.

When I first started building my family tree I tried to only add connections for which I felt I had clear documentation. I found that as I added more family members and connections it grew harder to leave off people for whom I was still seeking information.

I have often wished that Ancestry had a check box for “still seeking documentation” or something along those lines. It would serve two purposes. It would be a warning to those looking at your tree that you still had some questions about the connection of that particular person to your family. It would also remind the owner of the tree that they still had more research to do.

Early in my research I would set aside the information for people for whom I was not 100% sure were a part of my family. However, what I found was that if I was following a long string of hints that was leading me from person to person, I soon lost my way if I had not started connecting the dots at the beginning.

It would be so helpful to be able to check that box that would warn you and others looking at your tree – this is a link that needs further documentation.

The further you go back in your tree that more complex this confusing data can be. The fact that given names were often used over and over again within families will leave your head spinning. You know that the person whose data you are looking at is related to you, but how?

This is a typical scenario. William has three sons, named William, James and Charles. His wife is named Margaret and his three daughters are Margaret, Eliza, and Lydia. All three of his sons name their first born sons William. Two of them marry a woman named Margaret and one of them marries a woman named Lydia. Each of their children names their first born son after their grandfather and their second and third sons after their father and then their favorite uncle.

Pretty soon you have four of five Williams married to Margarets all in the same generation. If the information that you are looking at is pre-1850 census data it can be difficult to be certain if you are looking at a record for your great grandfather, your 2 times great uncle, or the eldest son of your great grandfather’s elder brother. You get the picture.

This is when it is time to slow down and look at each fact one piece at a time and search for more clues. Sometimes a little searching provides some clarification. Sometimes you record information that you are not positive about and make a note about your doubts to remind yourself to follow-up later.

Having a Cherokee family with so many branches, the Crittendens, I am blessed with a wealth of information and also a fair amount of sometimes confusing details.

One of the projects I am working on is to read all of the Dawes enrollment packets of those related to me. I know that I will find information about migration patterns and family relations in the testimonies that I might not find elsewhere.

It is a daunting project. I have downloaded the names and enrollment card numbers for all 187 of them!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Dawes Allotment, Family connections, Journal, Research

Meeting My Crittenden Relatives

Yesterday was a memorable day on my family history trip. In Warner Oklahoma I met my second cousin, Bruce Crittenden, and his daughter Susie.

Me, Susie (Bruce's daughter), 2nd Cousin Bruce Crittenden

Me, Susie (Bruce’s daughter), 2nd Cousin Bruce Crittenden

Susie and I found each other online a couple of months ago when she wrote me a note after reading Cherokee Roots Blog. She introduced herself as Moses Crittenden’s great great granddaughter. As Moses was my great grandfather that meant that Susie’s father and I are second cousins.

Moments after meeting Bruce yesterday I could feel my eyes welling up as I had just met my first descendant of Moses Crittenden and the first blood relative of my extremely large Cherokee family outside of my mother’s immediate family.

This was the culmination of five years of research that started with a search for my grandmother’s Cherokee ancestors. I could have never guessed what an inspiring and surprising journey it would be.

After almost four weeks on the road in Oklahoma and Arkansas I took some time to go to the cemetery where Anthony Crittenden, my grandmother’s half-brother is buried. Being there with his grandson and great granddaughter added special meaning to this moment.

Great Uncle Anthony Crittenden's Headstone

Great Uncle Anthony Crittenden’s Headstone

I will be sharing more memories and discoveries from this trip over the next few weeks.

4 Comments

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Families – The Famous and the Infamous

When tracing your families’ roots you never know what you will uncover. In my search I have found both the famous and the infamous.

When I first started researching the Crittenden branch of my family tree (my grandmother is Eliza Jane Crittenden), one of my cousins asked if had found out anything about those cousins of my grandmother who were shot by a sheriff in Wagoner, Oklahoma.

Of course, I started digging for information about these supposedly notorious cousins. It was easy to find the story – Dick and Zeke Crittenden shot to death by Belle Starr’s son in Wagoner, Oklahoma on October 24, 1895.

I was in the early stages of building my family tree so it wasn’t as easy to find out how, or if, they were really cousins. As Crittendens, we were probably related somehow, but how?

As I built the family tree, the connection came to light. Dick (Richard) and Zeke (Ezekial) were indeed cousins. They are my second cousins, once removed. They are the grandsons of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s brother, James Crittenden.

Dick and Zeke are half-brothers. Their father is Aaron Crittenden. As regular readers of my blog know, I am currently in Oklahoma on a genealogy fact finding trip. While here I went to the Hulbert Cemetery to pay my respects to my notorious Crittenden cousins of the wild west of the 1890s.

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

These brothers fill the roles of both famous and infamous.
The Famous
Dick Crittenden was a U.S. Deputy Marshal commissioned in the Western District of Fort Smith, Arkansas. On July 18, 1894, he and his brother, Deputy Marshal Zeke Crittenden, and Deputy Sequoyah Houston and posse tried to capture the Cook Gang.

They tracked Bill and Jim Cook, along with Cherokee Bill to the Fourteen Mile Creek in the Cherokee Nation, where there was a gun battle. Sequoyah Houston was killed and the posse fled, with the exception of Dick and Zeke Crittenden.

Jim Cook was wounded several times before the outlaws fled to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. According to the stories that I found the Crittendens caught up with Bill Cook in Fort Gibson but Cherokee Bill again escaped.

There is a photo in the Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Library with the following caption. “Shortly after his capture, Cherokee Bill posed with his captors at Wagoner, I.T. Left to right: (5)Zeke Crittenden, (4)Dick Crittenden, Bill, (2)Clint Scales, (1)Ike Rogers, and (3)Bill Smith.”

The Infamous
“Deputy U.S. marshal Ed Reed (Belle Starr’s son), living in Wagoner, was called on to deal with with two drunks who were shooting up the town on October 24th (or 25th), 1895. The two law-breakers were Dick and his brother Zeke Crittenden, former lawmen and survivors of the shootout at Fourteen Mile Creek in 1894. The two brothers had wounded a Wagoner resident named Burns in their drunken shooting spree.

One version of the story describes Reed encountering Zeke Crittenden on the street and telling him to surrender his gun. Zeke fired at Reed and was killed with return gunshots from Reed. Dick, at the other end of town, learned of his brothers death and rode to the scene of the shooting. Upon seeing Ed Reed, Dick opened fire. Reed returned fire, mortally wounding Dick Crittenden, who died the next morning. The brothers were buried under one headstone in a small cemetery near Hulbert, only a short distance from the site of the Half-way House on Fourteen Mile Creek.”
[Outlaws and Lawmen of the Cherokee Nation by Dee Cordry]

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

4 Comments

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Finding Gems for Further Research

Yesterday I came across an obituary for my grandmother’s half-sister’s husband. For those not engrossed in genealogy and the quest for information about their ancestors, that may seem like an obscure find not worth investigating.

I am going to use it as an example of how each piece of information is worth exploring for further hints. I have formatted the obituary in italics with my research notes interspersed throughout.

The Checotah Times Checotah, Oklahoma Friday May 1, 1925

The newspaper citation itself tells me that my some of my ancestors had connections to Checotah, Oklahoma.

W.B. Beck pioneer citizen of McIntosh County answers final summons Monday.

Following a long illness of only a few days duration, death claimed the life of W.B. Beck at his community home East of Checotah Monday afternoon.

The news of his death was a great shock, to the majority of our citizens as he appeared in good health the last time he was in the city about two weeks ago. Mr. Beck was one of the best known citizens of McIntosh and was indeed a pioneer in point of residence having located here in 1969. He was a lifelong Democrat and always took an active part in party affairs and held the honor of being McIntosh County’s first representative in Oklahoma legislature. He was a man who was a friend to his neighbors, never forgot a friend nor betrayed a trust.

I will be traveling from Fort Smith to Warner Oklahoma later this month. McIntosh County is just west of Warner. I now know that a stop in McIntosh County and a visit to the museum and court house there may provide some information and possibly photos about some of my ancestors.

William Billingsley Beck was born at Corinth Miss. January 26, 1847 and his early life was spent in that state. With his parents he moved to Texas in 1860 where he resided until the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in the cause of the Confederate Army and served until the close of the war.

Next is the first piece of information that mentions a blood relative, Malinda J. Crittenden, my grandmother’s half-sister. Malinda’s father is my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.

On September 6, 1866, he was united in marriage to Miss Malinda J. Crittenden at Dallas, Ark. He was married under the Cherokee law prior to 1875 thereby sharing the full citizenship with the Cherokee by blood and was the first white male to serve in the Cherokee Council, beinq elected to the body in 1898.

I did not know that my great Aunt Malinda was married in Dallas, Arkansas. A search on the internet provides a map showing Dallas as just south of Mena, Arkansas. On my genealogy trip later this month I am spending two days in Mena, Arkansas. My great grandfather Moses was granted a land patent in that area in 1860. While there I plan to go to see that land. I also plan to spend some time at the Polk County Court House in Mena researching what happened to the land when Moses left for Oklahoma.

I am hoping the local museum will have photos from that time period and may provide me with some context for what life was like for the first Cherokee families to arrive in Arkansas. This information about the marriage of my great aunt in Dallas, Arkansas provides more facts on which to base my research.

In 1868 he located near the present site of Westville, where he resided for nearly a year, when he moved to this county, which has been home.

The first week of my trip will be spent in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation Capital. Westville is a short drive from Tahlequah. I will search the museum in Westvilee for photos of my great Aunt Matilda or other members of her family.

Besides the wife, deceased leaves one daughter, Mrs. Eliza Caughran, and two sons, Tom and Carol to mourn his loss. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

This is the most important piece of information for me. A search for Eliza Beck Caughran at Ancestry.com provided me with a photo of her family. I also now know that there are grandchildren and great grandchildren, and probably great great grandchildren, some of whom are most likely still living. Someone posted the photos of Eliza Beck and of her family.

Edith Eliza Beck Coughran and her family

Edith Eliza Beck Coughran and her family

I can now search for current records that might lead me to identifying those living relatives. My hope is that someone in the family has photos of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden and other relatives. They may also know family stories passed down about the family’s early days in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

During his early manhood, Mr. Beck united with the Methodist church. He was also a member of the Checotah Lodge, I.O.O.F., and several other organizations.

The Methodist Church and the Checotah Lodge are two more places where I might find some historical records related to my family.

Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at Twin Grove Cemetery, in charge was Rev. E.A. Davis, pastor f the Methodist church” assisted by Rev. E.A. Spiller pastor of the Baptist church. The beautiful Masonic service was held at the Grove in charge of the local lodge. Internment occurred at the Twin Grove Cemetery East of Checotah.

I have added Twin Grove Cemetery to my list of cemeteries to visit on my trip.

Every piece of information that you discover, no matter how minor it may appear, is like a mine waiting to be searched for those gems that will illuminate details about your ancestors just waiting to be discovered.

18 Comments

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal, Research

Finding Family

In a post last month I mentioned meeting a Crittenden cousin through my blog site. That cousin is the great, great granddaughter of my great grandfather.

What a surprise it was to receive an email from a reader who had seen my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s name when reading the About Me tab on my blog. She told me that Moses was her great, great grandfather and that she had been researching that branch of her family tree for years.

I had been posting to my blog for a couple of weeks and only a few readers had found the site at that point. It still amazes me that one of the first readers of my blog would end up being a cousin that I did not know existed. She is my second cousin once removed as her father and I share a great grandparent, Moses Crittenden.

This connection is especially meaningful to me. In my blog “Finding the Unexpected”, I talked about a son that my great grandfather had when in a relationship with Emily Crittenden, who was his brother-in-law’s slave.

The relationship between Cherokee settlers and their slaves is a complex one. It is hard for me to accept that any of my ancestors had slaves living in their household. I know for some of these connections there were loving relationships that were defined by the expectations and culture of the times and not by the truths of the relationship itself.

For others they were relationships based on power and dominance. I have no context for the relationship between my great grandfather and Emily Crittenden. I do know that their son Anthony Crittenden was my grandmother’s half-brother and my mother’s uncle.

I knew less about Anthony than my grandmother’s other siblings and half-siblings because the only record I could find was his grave marker in Warner, Oklahoma. I had already decided to visit that cemetery when in Oklahoma next month and see if I could find information about his descendants and his life.

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

My connection with his great granddaughter has provided information about Anthony’s descendants that I thought I would be searching for over the next several years.

Most of Anthony’s family has lived in Warner Oklahoma for the past several generations. Many are buried in the same cemetery with Anthony. My newly found relative and her father, my second cousin, are currently living in Warner and I will meet them next month.

The greatest treasures to me in my online searches are photographs. I now have two additional photos of Anthony Crittenden, and one of his mother Emily Crittenden. My cousin emailed photos of the photos in her album. I will scan copies of the originals while in Oklahoma and add them to my online family tree at Ancestry.

You never know what surprises are waiting for you in your quest for finding family

1 Comment

Filed under Cherokee Roots, Family connections, Journal

Tracing my Grandfather – Who was James R. West?

I started this journey with very little information about my grandfather.

James R West

James R West

From my mother’s birth certificate I had his name listed as Jas R West. I knew that he had lived in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the time that he was married to my grandmother.

My mother remembered that he left the family when she was about two years old and that he came to visit her in Tulsa for one day when she was about nine years old.

James Richard West in Tulsa about 1929

James Richard West in Tulsa about 1929

The only other piece of information that I had to go on was that my mother had found out that he died in 1951. My recollection was that he died in San Jose, California. My sister thought it was Montery, California. With only this information to go on I started doing research on ancestry.com.

What I found was that there were many James Wests in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the years that my grandfather was with my grandmother, 1903 to 1922. A check of the 1920 census in Oklahoma showed my grandfather and grandmother and their four living children as being born in Oklahoma. It also stated that both my grandmother’s and grandfather’s parents were born in Oklahoma and that my grandfather was 44 years old.

Searching with that criteria I could not find a James R West that matched. I decided next to search on FindaGrave for cemeteries in Monterey County. I found internment records for a James R West at Garden of Memories Memorial Park, Salinas, Monterey County, California, USA (I also found that John Steinbeck was buried in this same cemetery).

Headstone James R West

Headstone James R West

Next I sent for a copy of the death certificate for that James West. The date of birth and death, plus location, made this seem like a match for my grandfather. However, the death certificate said he was born in Kentucky, while the 1920 census, one of the few records where I was sure I was looking at the correct James West, said he was born in Oklahoma.

That same census also said that my grandmother’s mother and father were born in Oklahoma and I knew that was incorrect. It also said that three of my mother’s siblings, that I knew were born in New Mexico, were born in Oklahoma. I surmised that the census taker had just put Oklahoma as the place of birth in every birth place related spot for this family.

James Richard West with Unknown Person Roswell New Mexico

James Richard West with Unknown Person Roswell New Mexico

ames Richard West, son James Edward West, Eliza Crittenden West around1905 in Roswell, New Mexico

James Richard West, son James Edward West, Eliza Crittenden West around 1905 in Roswell, New Mexico

So, I started looking for a James West born in Kentucky in 1875 whose father was named Dave West and whose mother’s first name was Sarah (information also on the death certificate). I searched and searched and found nothing that was a match.

I then changed tactics and started looking in the 1890 census for any West families, in the county where my grandmother lived before her marriage to my grandfather, that showed a James West about 24 years old.

I found a few, but none with a mother named Sarah and a father named Dave. I found none where James West was born in Kentucky. I did find a family. with a mother named Sarah and a father named Benjamin, where the eldest child was named David. On this census, James was born in Alabama but it was the correct year. I put this census in my records as a long shot possible match, but my best possibility so far.

Fast forward several months when I have all of my relevant census data for 1900 printed out and sitting in front of me. Evidence that I had the correct family was sitting right in front of me.

The census page for the family that I thought was a possible match for my grandfather in the 1890 census, no longer had the elder brother David on the census. However the family listed next to my grandmother’s family on her census page showed David West as the head of household. This David West was the correct age to be the elder brother of the Benjamin West household. David was now living in a separate household with a wife and children of his own.

This made me study both census pages more closely and I realized that both of the census pages were from the same neighborhood. At last I was 90% certain that I was looking at the correct James West and had found my grandfather’s family.

Now that I was on the right track, there were many discoveries over the next few months that confirmed beyond any doubt that this was the correct family.

The big lesson learned here? Those of us searching for our roots are always looking for the “official” documentation that proves the connections in our family tree. But the truth is, those official documents often have errors.

In this case both the 1920 census and my grandfather’s death certificate had conflicting information about my grandfather and much of the information in both of them was incorrect. How does this happen?

A tired census taker realizing the answer to most of the questions about place of birth for this family is Oklahoma, just writes that in every blank space. A woman, who has lived with someone for a few years and met when they were both in their 70s, provides the data for the death certificate to the best of her ability. An older brother gets listed as the father, a state that as near as I can tell this family never set foot in, is listed as the place of birth.

Records are a valuable source of information. But don’t forget to look at the big picture. When you look at the families living next door to your ancestors on the census what does it tell you? Does looking at the census page before and after your family’s shed any light on the mystery you are trying to solve.

Finding your family roots much more resembles solving a mystery than collecting data and organizing it.

Good luck in continuing to solve the mysteries in your family trees.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research

Tracing my Cherokee Roots – Getting Started

My Cherokee roots pass down from my grandmother, Eliza Jane Crittenden West. My grandmother did not share her family history or her childhood with us. As I research her life and the history of the times, I have a better understanding of why she found it hard to discuss.

I decided in the 1990s, many years after my grandmother had passed away, that I would trace my grandmother’s roots and the story of her and her family.

While visiting Cherokee, North Carolina during that period I purchased a book, “Cherokee Roots, Volume 2: Western Cherokee Rolls” by Bob Blankenship, that listed my grandmother’s Dawes number and a Dawes number for my mother’s eldest brother James West.

This was before the days of digital files on the internet. I wrote to a few places trying to find more information about my grandmother and the Dawes Rolls and did not receive any responses.

In 2009 I made a promise to myself that I would finally commit to doing the research needed to learn more about my grandmother and her family. Although there was not as much information online as there is now, there were many more resources available than in the 1990s.

My first search for information led me to the web site for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, where I had found my one piece of information many years before. Based on recommendations in their genealogy section I purchased a book from their online book store, “History of the Cherokee Indians” by Emmet Starr.

Emmet Starr’s book has a section titled, Old Families and Their Genealogy. In that section I found many Crittendens listed as descendants of the Downing family. Once I determined that my great grandfather was Moses Crittenden, this genealogy section allowed me to trace his lineage back to Major Downing.

Eliza Jane Crittenden

Eliza Jane Crittenden

I then started looking for more information on Moses Crittenden in my original book, “Cherokee Roots, Volume 2: Western Cherokee Rolls”. In addition to listing the names on the Dawes Rolls, the book includes the 1851 Old Settler Roll, 1852 Drennen Roll and the 1909 Guion Miller West Roll.

I found my great grandfather and his family listed in the 1851 Old Settler Roll. This gave me the first bit of information about my family’s migration from North Carolina. This roll lists the names of Cherokees who were already residing in Oklahoma when the main body of the Cherokees arrived in the winter of 1839 as a result of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. So now I knew that my Crittenden ancestors migrated some time before 1839.

These pieces of information were the first roots for building my Ancestry family tree.

5 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research

Home is Where Your Second Cousin Thrice Removed Lives

I have mentioned before that my mother’s father left the family when she was about two years old.  Trying to find out more about him and his family was part of my genealogy quest as mother knew nothing but his first and last name.

My mother had about a half dozen photos of her parents early life which she passed on to me when I started researching our history. My goal was to find out more about who my grandfather was and to research my grandmother’s Cherokee ancestry for my mother’s 90th birthday. While searching on ancestry.com I came across a photo someone captioned as Grandma Brewer on Ancestry. Grandma Brewer’s parents appeared to be the same as my grandfather’s parents.

I wrote the person who posted the photo and she wrote back saying I should call someone named John from whom she got the photo and provided me with his phone number. I looked up the area code location and saw that he lived in the area where my grandmother was raised and where she lived for a while with my grandfather.

Something told me this was going to be a big breakthrough and I anxiously dialed the number. Through this call I met my cousin John who is the grandson of my grandfather’s sister. We formed an instant connection and have exchanged hundreds of emails in the past three years.

Sally West Brewer and Eliza Crittenden West, Our Grandmothers

Sally West Brewer and Eliza Crittenden West, Our Grandmothers

Last October I went to Tahlequah Oklahoma to continue research on my grandmother’s Cherokee heritage and met with John on the first day of my trip. During my time in Oklahoma John’s cousin (and mine) hosted a huge family barbecue where I met more than a dozen relatives I never knew I had. They shared many family stories/legends about my grandfather, known to them as Uncle Jim. Most had only seen him once or twice but had numerous family tales as he was a somewhat notorious character.

The info I have found on my grandmother and grandfather is a source for many future stories. However, I wanted to share two small tidbits that are were so meaningful to both my cousin John and me.

In our email conversations John told me that he had inherited a rolling pin from his grandmother when she died. It is the rolling pin she used to make numerous pies and cookies at large family dinners which were held every Sunday until she died and attended by all of John’s aunts, uncles and cousins. On this rolling pin an aunt had tied a note, “carved for your grandma on her 10th birthday by her then 15 year old brother Jim, her favorite brother”. Jim was my grandfather.

Me and cousin John with Rolling Pin

Me and cousin John with Rolling Pin

The second very emotional connection was that John asked if he could see a photo of my grandfather when he was young. I said I had only a few photos from that time that I had not looked at in a while but I would go through them and see what I could find. In those photos was an old oval photo of my grandmother with another young woman. On the back my mother had written, “mother with Aunt Sally”. This photo was of my grandmother and John’s grandmother as very young women. They would have been sisters in law. I scanned and sent the photo to John who called me in tears saying he had no photos of his grandmother as a young woman.

Me and cousin John with our Grandmothers

Me and cousin John with our Grandmothers

This family journey has been astounding and I have found amazing things. Including the fact that my grandmother, who we were always told had “some Cherokee blood”, was raised as a Cherokee and never stepped foot out of Indian Territory until she married my grandfather in 1903. Her father was an Old Settler who migrated to Arkansas and then Oklahoma under the New Echota treaty.

The facts I have gathered are interesting. However, what is most meaningful is the connections that I am making.  I saw a cartoon on Facebook a while back.  The caption was “Home is Where Your Second Cousin Thrice Removed Lives”.

After my trip to Oklahoma, and meeting John and other extended family members, a piece of my heart is there.  I am looking forward to returning in a couple of months and making more memories.  Watch in the next couple of weeks for a post about a cousin I just met through my blog site.  She is one of my Crittenden cousins and I cannot wait to meet her in person.

3 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Journal

Finding the Unexpected

About a year into my research on Moses Crittenden I had a good overview of the basics. He was born in Georgia in 1825. He died in Wagoner, Oklahoma in 1899.

He had been married to Eda Quinton and together they had eight children. After Eda died Moses married Margaret Howell, my great grandmother, and they had nine children, including my grandmother Eliza Jane Crittenden.

The basic information makes a great foundation for research. For me, what I am always searching for is the story of their lives. What is the context of the time in which they lived? Who were they as people? And each photo that I find is like a treasure.

One lesson I have learned in my years of family research is that when you think you have the facts part completed, there is usually a surprise around the corner. Previous marriages and families that you never knew about or finding that the family that raised the person, while having the same last name, was actually their aunt and uncle and not their parents, are a few examples.

While at the Cherokee Family Research Center within the Cherokee Heritage Center at Tahlequah, Oklahoma I came across a family genealogy on the Crittendens.  It had been researched a few decades earlier and was a great find for looking into extended family and family connections.  There are many branches of the Crittendens so I was delighted to find a detailed chronology of my grandfather Moses’ life.  Included were details on the Old Settler Roll, the 1880 Cherokee Roll and other information that I had not yet located.

I was most interested in an entry listed as taking place about 1853.  The notation was short:

Met Emily Crittenden b. 1838 I.T.  d. 1908 OK.

I was perplexed about why the author of the document would think it worth mentioning that in 1853 Moses met his relative Emily.  Then I read the footnote stating that Emily Crittenden was a slave and belonged to Elijah Phillips and Sidney (Moses’ sister) Crittenden Phillips.  The only other information was that she was buried in Proctor Cemetery in Adair County, Oklahoma.

Those of you less naïve than me may have already figured out that “met” was the language of the times for “had sexual relations with”.  It was not until I read another note about the birth of Anthony Crittenden that I figured this out.

Anthony Crittenden

Anthony Crittenden

Anthony Crittenden (son of Moses and Emily) was born in Polk County, Arkansas about 1854 and died April 9, 1909. He is buried at Bennett Cemetery in Warner, Oklahoma.  I was very lucky to find a photo of Anthony in a family tree on Ancestry.com  He is one of only three Crittendens from this generation of whom I have a photo.

He applied as Cherokee by blood before the Dawes commission but was denied since he had been a slave of Elijah Phillips and was enrolled as freedman through his mother Emily (Crittenden) Weaver.  I am as interested in finding out more about Anthony and his descendants as I am all of my grandmother’s siblings and half siblings.  Anthony and Emily are two of the people I hope to find out more about on my next trip to Oklahoma.  I will definitely pay my respects to both by visiting the cemeteries where they are buried.

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Finding another great uncle that I did not know that I had is but one of many surprises I have found on this journey.  What are some of the surprises that you have encountered?

2 Comments

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research

Family Mystery Solved – What Happened to Uncle Frank?

One of the interesting and frustrating things about genealogy is thinking that you have a clear picture of facts, then you find one more source of information and things you thought you knew are proven to be false. That is the case with my grandfather’s older brother Frank.

When I started searching for my grandfather’s family there was a lot of trial and error, travels down the wrong trails,  and moments of thinking I would never find who my grandfather James West’s parents were. Then, several things came together to prove that I at last had the correct family.

As many of you know there are often families with almost identical family member names, living in the same state, that can add much confusion to your search.

I did, however, at last have the correct family. My grandfather met and married my grandmother in Oklahoma. His family migrated there from Alabama sometime between 1880 and the late 1890s. Once I had identified the correct family in Oklahoma living in the same neighborhood as my grandmother, I was able to work backward and find an 1880 census for my grandfather West’s family in Alabama.

That census showed my great grandfather Ben West, great grandmother Sarah West and their four children, listed as follows.
Frank West – 17 years old – son
David West – 11 years old – son
James R West – 5 years old – son
Sarah West – 4 months old – daughter

The 1900 census in Oklahoma has son David living in his own household and, nearby, Ben and Sarah living with children James R and Sarah. I wondered what happened to the eldest son Frank? I could not find Frank West in Oklahoma nor in Alabama.

Through my online genealogy research I was fortunate to meet my grandfather’s sister’s grandson and develop an active relationship of exchanging what information we had about the West family. My cousin said he had been told as a child that the eldest brother Frank had started to Oklahoma in a covered wagon but had never completed the journey and the family never knew his fate.

We talked about how much we would like to find out what happened to him on his way to Oklahoma and wondered if that would ever be possible. Fast forward about a year and a half and I made the discovery that our great grandmother, Frank’s mother, had been married previously to a man named Pleasant Frank Johnson, something we had not known. I recently found the marriage certificate for that first marriage. I also found the 1870 census for the West family in Alabama fairly recently.

Much to my surprise, Frank is listed as William Johnson age 7, along with his sister Molly Catherine Johnson. So the reason I could never find a record of Frank West in Alabama after 1880 is that 1880 is the only time he was listed as West and not Johnson on a census. Whether the family did not give his name as Johnson, or the census taker just did not write it down, I don’t know.

This week a search for Frank Johnson in Alabama turned up the following astounding information!

Frank Johnson lived with his married sister Mollie Catherine and is listed in her household in 1900, 1920 and 1930. He died in 1932 one year after her and is buried in Alabama.

Cousin John and I no longer have to worry about our poor great uncle Frank and what happened to him in that covered wagon on the way to Oklahoma. He lived with family in Alabama until his death at age 59.

I wonder how some of our family lore gets started. In that 1870 census where I discovered that Frank and Mollie Johnson were the children of my great grandmother’s first marriage, there is also a 5 month old Arthur, son of my great grandparents, on the census. Arthur never appears again, so apparently died in Alabama sometime before his 10th birthday.

I think somehow a brother’s death in Alabama and Frank’s staying behind in Alabama when the family moved, over the years, combined into one brother who died on the way to Oklahoma.

Have you solved any family mysteries in your search for your roots?

Leave a comment

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Uncategorized

Census Data Once Again Provides Answers

Today was one of those genealogy days where I ended up going down a trail that was not my original destination.  I was on Ancestry.com and got an alert that there was a military record associated with one of the people in my tree.  It was my great grandmother’s first husband, Pleasant Frank Johnson.

I was a few years into my research before I realized that my great grandmother, Sarah Johnson West, had a first husband.  I had information verifying that Sarah Johnson had married my great grandfather Benjamin Franklin West in 1865, at age 22, and they had four children together one of which was my maternal grandfather.

In spite of much searching I could never find any parents for my great grandmother Sarah.  There were several Sarah Johnsons to be found in the census records from the 1800s.  However, something always proved them not to be my Sarah Johnson.  Then one day I saw a record of a Sarah Ferguson marrying a Pleasant Frank Johnson at age 13 in 1856.  He died in 1862.  Looking over census records I found that living in the house with my great grandparents were the children Catherine Johnson and Frank Johnson.  These were the children from my great grandmother’s first marriage and at last I knew I was tracking the correct Sarah Johnson.  It was then easy to find her parents, who were Horatio Ferguson and Sarah Barton.

All of which brings me back to today and finding a military record for Pleasant Frank Johnson.  It got me thinking about not having parents listed for him in my tree. I hadn’t pursued looking for them as he was my great grandmother’s first husband and not related by blood.  However, as long as I was entering info for him I decided to look again.  The military record showed that he was born in Alabama and I went to http://www.familysearch.org to see if I could find census data for his earlier years before he married Sarah.  It is always worth rechecking previous research as new records are being added regularly.  Sure enough I located an 1840 census showing his mother and children on the same census page as Horatio Ferguson and his family.

The 1850 census has Pleasant Frank Johnson (16), his mother Hannah and his brother James (18) living in the same neighborhood as eight year old Sarah Ferguson and her family.  In 1860 Sarah and Frank Johnson are married and living next door to his mother Hannah Johnson and a few houses down from Sarah’s father, Horatio Ferguson, and his family.

I love it when finally all of the data you have triangulates and you are positive beyond doubt that you have connected the right people!  So many people with the same names, so much data, so many doubts as to whether you have made the right connections.  Having it all come together is always rewarding.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research