From the Pharris/Farris family:
I'm still trying to figure out how I am related to the Pharrises. My 2nd great-grandmother, Elzina Huff, was born on the Dry Fork of Martin's Creek in Jackson County, Tennessee, in 1826. I have never been able to document the names of her parents, although a lot of trees say they were William Huff and Susannah Toney. The Pharrises were close neighbors, so I have long suspected that Elzina (or her husband, Stephen Roberts, also of undocumented parentage) were somehow connected to this family of Pharrises. Since I also have lots of Embry DNA cousins, I had considered that Elzina might be the daughter of James Pharris, whose mother was an Embry.
To make things even more complicated, I may also have a Farris ancestor. I say "may," because this is another relationship I can't document. However, much research into the puzzle of my great-grandfather, J. A. (Joseph) Wheat, has convinced me that he was the son of Henry Clay Wheat and Caroline Farris. Caroline was the granddaughter of Champion Farris, an early resident of Russell County, Virginia, and Tennessee. Since I had never been able to discover if these Farrises were related to the Jackson County Pharrises, I had decided it was much more likely that my ancestry went back somehow to the Pharrises that were neighbors to my Elzina.
Then I got a message on Ancestry this summer from a DNA match who is a Pharris descendant. We had corresponded years ago when we were both new to DNA. She wondered if I had considered the possibility that my DNA connection to her was through Champion Farris. She had found a reference to Champion Farris that indicated he was in Smith County, Tennessee, the parent county of Jackson County, in 1800-1805; she had some y-DNA results for a Pharris descendant that indicated he also matched some Farrises; and she drew my attention to one of my Ancestry Thru-Lines that indicated that the mother of William Huff was a Pharris.
This cousin communication definitely gave me several lines of inquiry to consider.
From the Simmons family:
I regularly hear from my Simmons cousin, Sam Casey. This time he shared a newspaper article from the Troy (AL) Messenger, dated July 6, 1921, that he had found on Ancestry. It read, in part, "T.B. Floyd, 67, youngest son of George Floyd, was in Troy...[and] gave the following sketch. His grandfathers, Luke Simmonds and William Floyd, came to Pike in the Pioneer days, when Indians were still in this section. They had been neighbors in the Carolinas, the state line coming between their residences. Simmons lived in North Carolina and Floyd in South Carolina. Their residences were almost on the line. When they moved to Pike [Co.] some of the children intermarried."
|T.B. Floyd article in Troy Messenger|
Originally shared to Ancestry by W. Tucker
Sam added, "For this to be accurate, one of Luke Simmons' daughters would have to have married a son of William Floyd. I don't have the Floyds in my data and don't know which daughter this would have been."
So, again, I did a little research. I found Thomas B. Floyd, born 1855, with his father George and mother Patience on the 1860 census in Pike County. I concluded that Patience must have been a child of Luke Simmons (and therefore a sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Simmons) that I didn't have in my tree. The 1860 census stated that she was 35 so must have been born in 1825, although with her first daughter born in 1838, that didn't seem reasonable. In my list of Luke's children I had a big gap between Jemima, born 1816, and Eliza, born 1827, so there was plenty of room in there for Patience, even if her birth date was earlier than 1825. It turns out I had room for several children in that gap!
|Floyd family on 1860 census, Pike Co. AL|
When I emailed Sam with the info, he sent back the transcription of the family page from Luke Simmons' Bible with children: Elizabeth, born 1812; Jemima, born 1815; Susannah, born 1817; Patience and Nancy (twins), born 1821; Leonard M., born 1823; Rebekah, born 1825, and Elizur, born 1827. Apparently, when Sam had shared the Bible entries (years ago!), I had never entered the names in my tree. [Maybe because I wasn't sure of the dates? The copyright on the Bible is 1827, so all these birth dates, except maybe for Eliza's, were entered after the fact.]
Because of Sam's email, I was able to add four siblings of my 2nd great-grandmother to my tree.
From the Wheat family:
Actually, this information did not come from a cousin. I got an email from Lee F. who wanted to share information he had received as a result of a purchase of Confederate documents. I am not even certain how he got my email address, but the information he shared helped me add a previously unknown spouse and children to a 3rd great-uncle on my family tree.
His email read, in part, "A few years ago I bought off ebay some Confederate notes from an old gentleman named John Wheat. He told me the notes came from Robert Wheat and his 2nd wife of Wheatland, Titus County, TX...He said Samuel Wheat was Robert's father and Samuel Wheat founded Wheatland, TX. Samuel was ex-military before coming to TX. Robert was in charge of the home guard during the war. Robert's wife had died. His new wife was the widow of the officer in charge of the regular military in Titus County. Anyway after the war the family moved to Sherman, TX..."
I set about trying to corroborate the information that came from this unexpected source. First, I do have a 3rd great-uncle named Robert Wheat (1819-1901) that served with the Confederacy in the Civil War. I have been to his grave in Grayson County, TX. As a matter of fact, he is the brother of the above-mentioned Henry Clay Wheat. Their father was not Samuel Wheat, but Samuel's brother William.
Next, I tried to find out what I could about Wheatland, TX. I remembered that years ago I read about a community in Texas that had been named for my Wheat family, but I didn't remember where I had read that information. Google to the rescue--although I didn't have much luck at first. There were two communities named Wheatland--one in Dallas County and one in Tarrant County. So I tried Titus County--but neither the Wikipedia entry nor the Handbook of Texas Online mentioned a town named Wheatland in the county. Then I tried "Wheat family Titus County TX," and I found this article about Wheatville, a community founded by William Wheat, that previously existed in the area now occupied by Naples, TX. (The creation of Morris County in 1875 meant that by the time Wheatville ceased to exist in the late 1870's, it was in Morris, not Titus, County.)
The article, prepared by Glenda Brown Scarborough, corroborated many of the statements made by John Wheat. Others, such as the name of the community and its founder, were almost right but not completely accurate. From that article: "Wheatville was indeed the true beginning of present-day Naples, Texas. It received its name from the William Wheat family sometime before 1852." On September 12, 1860, R.S. (Robert) Wheat was living in Mount Pleasant, the county seat of Titus County, with his first wife, Elizabeth (Finn), and their children. Elizabeth must have died not long after. Robert fought as a Confederate in the Civil War with the 33rd Cavalry, Duff's Partisan Rangers.
Sometime after the war Robert married Mary E. (Corprew) Sheppard, the widow of W.B. Sheppard. According to the Wheatville article, "W.B. Sheppard was Captain of the Titus Rangers, a unit organized in Wheatville during the Civil War...W.B. Sheppard died or was perhaps killed in the war and his widow later married R.S. Wheat. R.S. Wheat was a widower and a member of the family from which the town received its name. The couple and their families later moved to Grayson County, Texas." The 1870 and 1880 censuses show Robert and Mary and various children living in Grayson County. The 1870 census included a daughter named Mary Sheppard and the first of Robert and Mary's children, James, who was 3. Two more of their children were listed on the 1880 census, ages 8 and 6.
|Robert S. Wheat family on 1870 census, Grayson Co. TX|
with step-daughter Mary Sheppard
Before receiving this summer's surprising email from Lee F., I was not aware that Robert S. Wheat had a second wife and a second set of children. Using the information I learned in the Wheatville article, I found the marriage of Mary E. Corprew to Williamson B. Sheppard on January 15, 1885, in Chambers County, Alabama. I had always wondered who Mary Sheppard was and how she was connected to Robert Wheat's family.
Robert's end was rather sad. The 1900 census shows Robert, age 81, living at the North Texas Hospital for the Insane in Kaufman, Texas. His "insanity" may have been no more than senile dementia, but I can't help wondering how he was treated at the hospital. He died in 1901 and is buried in the Hall Cemetery in Howe, Grayson County, Texas, along with his wife Mary, who had died in 1897, and many other Wheats.
|Robert S. Wheat grave in Hall Cemetery, Howe, TX|
Originally shared on Ancestry by Jan Elaine Biard Thomas
From the Walker family:
Not exactly my family, although my last name was Walker for over 30 years. No, this is my son's ancestry. Several years ago I bought him a DNA test, and this summer he got an email from a Walker cousin, Jimmy. He has a very ambitious goal--to document all the branches of Walkers that descend from Thomas Walker and Marian Sara Jeffries of Fairfield County, South Carolina, and he wanted to know on what branch my son fit.
I had taken my son's Walker ancestry back several generations, and I was able to add a couple more. With the information Jimmy had already collected, he was able to take my son's ancestry back to Thomas and Marian.
In the process of searching for Jimmy's tree on Ancestry, I also discovered that he and I share a little DNA, as well! We think the connection might be with our Reynolds ancestors. On my side my Reynolds ancestor was Priscilla, who was married to Zachariah Wheat. They were the parents of William and Samuel, mentioned above.
This summer I also got emails or Ancestry messages from:
A professional genealogist helping a descendant of my 4th great-grandfather, Benjamin Bell and his wife, Elizabeth Ledbetter. I referred her to my blog post, "Laying Out the Facts." She promised to share anything they discover.
A cousin from my Day/Reed/Patrick side, asking about the Scots heritage of our Patrick ancestors. She still lives in the Chandler/Davenport area, where my grandmother grew up. Contact with her may lead to meeting some of our other remaining cousins who live there.
A first cousin of my dad's on the Smith side, who offered to share some old photos. He shared a story that I also researched. My grandfather grew up in Oologah, Oklahoma, the birthplace of Will Rogers. When I was a kid, I remember being told that the older Smith boys ran around with him. As I grew older and did more genealogy and read more history, I tended to doubt the story. Will Rogers grew up on a big ranch, attended school in Missouri and then a military academy, and quit school in 10th grade. I just wondered where he would have met any of the Smith boys.
However, my cousin had a variation on that story that I'm sure is true and maybe the origin of the Will Rogers story that my family told. He shared that "Johnny Yokim, a cousin to Will Rogers, was a buddy of Dad's [his father was Albert Smith, my grandfather's brother] and both attended a one-room Indian school. There is a good story here about riding horses to school and they both had six-shooters in their holsters."
Albert was born in 1889, so I tried looking for a John Yokim born about the same time. There are so many ways to spell that name that I didn't have much luck narrowing it down. So I thought of a different way to go about it. I searched Ancestry for Will Rogers' family tree, then searched for John Yokim. Sure enough, Will Rogers' sister May (Mary), was married to Matthew John Yocum, and they had a son named John, born 1893.
So we do have a connection to Will Rogers' family, if not the man himself! And the Smith boys were in Wild West shows too.
|Albert and one of the other Smith boys (?)|
in Wild West show
Shared by John Smith
The moral of this story: It pays to put your name out there in the genealogy community. Sometimes you reap some unexpected rewards. Check your Ancestry account, answer an email, check out a blog you've been meaning to read (or catch up on.)
Just a couple more summer things before I wind this post up.
I've always been interested in diseases and their prevention since my dad introduced me to a book called Microbe Hunters by Paul DeKruif when I was a teenager. So this summer I have been listening to a podcast called "This Podcast Will Kill You." In each episode the two female podcasters describe a disease, its history, how it operates, and how it's treated. It's been fascinating. In the episode on hookworms, poison dew was mentioned, and I remembered that my grandmother would never let me walk barefoot in dew because I might get some unspecified disease. I still feel guilty when I walk on wet grass barefoot.
Well, guess what? The unspecified disease is hookworm infection, because hookworms are right there on the ground/in the grass (but only where infected animals or people have pooped) and they can burrow through any bare feet that get close enough. Hookworms were especially prevalent in the South for many reasons and while not fatal, the anemia that resulted from hookworm infection was debilitating. John D. Rockefeller started an education and sanitation campaign in the early 1900's to reduce the incidence of the disease, and it must have made quite an impression on my grandmother. Now that I know why, it's made a big impression on me. I'm going to wear my shoes outside from now on.
The other thing that happened this summer is that this blog passed 100,000 page views. Thanks for reading!