Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Oneys (and a Couple of Great Stories)

A few months ago I wrote a post on the Days--the ancestors of my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day, who was born on 5 November 1878 in White Oak, Magoffin County, Kentucky. Her father was James Thomas Day, and his parents were Andrew Jackson Day and Sarah Jane Oney. At the time I realized that I had listed the wrong parents for Sarah, but until last weekend I had never actually added all the corrected family info to my tree on Ancestry. 

Sarah's father was James Oney, born in 1818 in Virginia. Her mother was Rhoda Day, born in 1820 in Virginia. (Sarah and her husband, Andrew Jackson Day, were 1st cousins.) James and Rhoda married on 17 December 1837 in Tazewell County, Virginia, which had been formed from Russell County in 1799. In 1850 James and Rhoda were living in Tazewell County with their children--William, age 12; Sally (Sarah), age 10; Richard, age 8; Joseph, age 6; and Rufus, age 2. Daughters Rebecca and Lou Emma were born in Tazewell County in the early 1850's, but by the time son Creed Fulton was born in 1855, the family was living in Magoffin County, Kentucky. John Wesley was born in Magoffin County in 1858 and Mary in 1861.

I decided to take the Oney children--Sarah's brothers and sisters--one by one and document their birth, marriage, and death information.


The Children of James and Rhoda (Day) Oney


According to his headstone, William P. (Patton) Oney was born 17 December 1838. It is interesting to note that this date is exactly one year after the marriage of his parents--either an amazing coincidence or a made-up birth (or marriage) date. I'm also not sure of his place of birth, as I can't find James Oney on the 1840 census in Tazewell County. There are some Oneys there in 1840, but no James. On 8 August 1861 William married Perlina Allen in Magoffin County, Kentucky. 

Documenting William's service during the Civil War was somewhat confusing at first, but I think I have a better understanding after finding his records on Fold3 and doing a little research. I'm not a big Civil War scholar, although I did know that Kentucky held a special place as a border state during the Civil War. What I didn't know is that Kentucky actually declared its neutrality at the beginning of the war. However, by September of 1861 Kentucky's General Assembly passed a resolution, over the Governor's veto, ordering the withdrawal of Confederate forces, and by early 1862 the Union pretty much controlled Kentucky.

I thought this explained why, even though William was living in Kentucky in 1861, he enlisted in Caldwell's Battalion of Cavalry back in Tazewell County, Virginia, his childhood home. Interestingly, I also found a register of "...Persons subject to do military duty in the Ninth Congressional District, consisting of the Counties of ...Magoffin...Morgan..., State of Kentucky, enumerated during the month of October 1863," that listed William Oney. So, though he had served in the Confederate Army, he was considered "subject to military duty" for the Union. No wonder I was confused! 

We'll come back to the Civil War in a little bit, but now back to the children of James and Rhoda Oney.

Sources vary as to her age, but most family trees on Ancestry list the next child of James and Rhoda in order of birth as my ancestor, Sarah Jane Oney. Some trees list her birth date as 17 October 1840 which corresponds fairly well with her marriage age of 15 on her marriage date of 25 September 1855. On the 1860 census where she appears with her husband A.J., age 23, she is listed as age 18 (born 1842). Also on that census is son James T., my 2nd great-grandfather, age 4; and daughter Nancy, age 1. Sarah lists her birthplace as Virginia. Her marriage took place in Morgan County, Kentucky, and the 1860 census places the family in Magoffin County. Oney researchers give Sarah a death date of 16 March 1862; if her birth date is correct, she was 21 at the time of her death.

According to his headstone, Richard K. Oney was born 1 January 1843. He enlisted as a Private in Company A, 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, Confederate States of America, in West Liberty, Kentucky, on 21 October 1861 and was mustered out on 20 October 1862. And I'm back to confused again, because apparently there were Confederate units in Kentucky during this period, because Richard joined one. 

I assumed that Richard just enlisted for a year, as was typical, since his discharge date was one year from the date of his enlistment. However, after doing a little research I found out that the 5th Kentucky Infantry was actually organized in Prestonburg, Kentucky, on the same date as Richard's enlistment--21 October 1861--and was disbanded in Hazel Green, Kentucky, on the date of his discharge on 20 October 1862. Richard could have joined another regiment at this point, but I have found no evidence of further service.

Not long after his discharge, Richard married in Magoffin County on 18 December 1862 to Mary Margaret Collinsworth. They had one child, Mary Virginia, before Richard died on 16 January 1866.

The next of the children of James and Rhoda (Day) Oney was Joseph Day Oney, born 19 May 1845 in Tazewell County, Virginia. After the death of his brother, Richard, Joseph married Richard's widow, Mary Margaret, on 5 September 1866 in Magoffin County. They had four children together. Joseph died 2 December 1936, age 91.

Rufus Hickman Oney, "Hickey" on the 1860 census and "Hick" later in life, was born 3 February 1848 in Tazewell County, VA. He married Delpha Hammond on Christmas Day, 1866. They had three children. Rufus Hickman died in Morgan County KY on 14 April 1876.

Rebecca Oney has been given a birth date of 7 January 1850 and later censuses seem to uphold a date around 1849/50, although she is not listed on the 1850 census and on the 1860, her age is given as 7. Rebecca married John M. Collinsworth, brother of Mary Margaret, in about 1867. (The 1900 census says they had been married 33 years.) Rebecca and John had 10 children, and Rebecca died in 1931 in Magoffin County.

Okay, so here's one of the great stories, and it's a doozy. The next of James and Rhoda's children was Lou Emma Oney, born 1852 in Tazewell County. In 1871 she married William Preston Taulbee, a Morgan County teacher. Later, he became ordained as a Methodist minister. Together, they had five sons from 1872-1885. When I added Lou Emma and then her husband to my tree on Ancestry, I got over 20 hints--mostly to newspaper articles from all over the country. What in the world? 


William Preston Taulbee


William Preston Taulbee was an ambitious man. In 1878 and 1882 he was elected to the office of Magoffin County Clerk. In 1884 he made a run for a much more prestigious job; he beat his Republican opponent to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was re-elected to the office in 1886. It's remarkable enough that we have a member of Congress in our family tree, but what happened next put him in the history books--and newspapers.

In December 1887 the Washington Post reported a story about a Representative being found in a "compromising position" with a clerk from the Patent Office. No names were named, but later, an article by Charles E. Kincaid appeared in the Louisville Times with the titillating title, "Kentucky's Silver-Tongued Taulbee Caught in Flagrante, or Thereabouts, with Brown-Haired Miss Dodge, Also of Kentucky." (Both Taulbee and Dodge denied the affair.) Thus began a feud of several years between Taulbee and Kincaid, that would lead to a shocking event the evidence of which still remains in the Capitol today.

Taulbee had already decided not to run for re-election in 1888 but to buy a house in Washington, D.C. and remain there to work as a lobbyist. For some reason, of all the journalists who reported on the scandal, Taulbee focused on Kincaid, the Washington reporter for the Louisville Times, whom he saw often in the Capitol, and upon every occasion of their meeting found some way to humiliate Kincaid. Things came to a head on 28 February 1890 with a scuffle outside the entrance to the House of Representatives. The House doorkeepers had to separate Taulbee and Kincaid. This time Taulbee warned Kincaid that he had better arm himself for their next meeting.

Kincaid went home and got a revolver, and the next meeting was not long in coming. That very afternoon Taulbee and Kincaid met again on a set of marble stairs that led to the basement restaurant in the Capitol. Apparently without waiting for a remark from Taulbee this time, Kincaid raised his revolver and shot Taulbee in the face. The blood drips from the wound stained the marble staircase, even though Capitol janitors were quick to clean it up, and the bloodstains remain there to this day.


Photo from Kentucky Explorer Magazine


Taulbee actually was expected to live, but an abscess surrounding the bullet, which still remained in his skull, caused his death on March 11. Kincaid was released on bail and went home to Kentucky until his trial a year later in March 1891. Several witnesses, including Kincaid, described Taulbee's harassment of the journalist, and amazingly, Kincaid was acquitted by reason of self-defense. 

Lou Emma raised her five sons, with the older boys helping financially. All of the boys had distinguished careers, several of them in the military and two of them as physicians. They always considered that Kincaid had gotten away with murder and described him as a frustrated office-seeker. Lou Emma apparently believed--or forgave--her husband, because she is buried beside him in the Taulbee Cemetery in Morgan County. Kincaid died at the age of 51, still working as a journalist. Miss Dodge, who had lost her job at the Patent Office after the scandal, found another job in the Pension Office, married well--twice--and died at the age of 89. (For more details see "William Taulbee: A Stain on the Capitol" in the blog, The Downfall Dictionary by Dirk Langeveld. It was very helpful to me in writing this post.)

Creed Fulton Oney was born on the 4th of July, 1855. He was the first of James and Rhoda's children to be born in Kentucky. He married Nancy Emma Ball on 13 May 1880. I have written about C. F. Oney before in the blog post, "The News from Oklahoma." With a group of other Methodist ministers, he bought townsites in Davenport, Oklahoma, and encouraged Kentuckians like my 2nd great-grandparents, J.T. and Nancy E. Day, to settle there, so I guess he is the reason I am sitting here in Oklahoma tonight writing this post.

John Wesley Oney was born 9 April 1858 in Magoffin County. His first wife was Annie Sprague, who died. He then married Loduska "Lowie" Whitt. He had children with both wives, but a discrepancy in dates makes me hesitant to list the number of children that belonged to each wife. John W. died in 1935 and is buried in the Gullett Cemetery in White Oak, next to his second wife. 

The baby of the family was Mary F. Oney, who was born 7 January 1861 in Magoffin County. She married David C. Williams on 8 July 1879. I was able to find her marriage license on Family Search. It is a little hard to read, but the witnesses to the marriage were two of her brothers-in-law, John Collinsworth and William Taulbee. It looks like she might have been married at the home of her uncle, Joseph Oney. 


James Oney and the Civil War


The other interesting story concerns James Oney and his changing allegiances during the Civil War. Going strictly by the existing documents in chronological order, this is what happened.

James appears on a Company Muster Roll for the 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, C.S.A., the same unit that his son Richard joined, dated November 23, 1861. Two other dates on the muster roll document are a little confusing. Under "Enlisted" the date is 25 October 1861 in Prestonburg, and under "Remarks" it says that he was "Sworn into service at West Liberty October 21." Remember that at this point Kentucky had taken sides in the conflict, and not the side that James took. At least until he got caught.

The next document is dated 17 February 1862. This is my best attempt at transcribing the document. 




Know all men by these presents that I James Oney of Magoffin County in the state of Kentucky owe the United States of America the sum of one thousand dollars to be levied of my goods and chattels lands and tenements.

The __________ of this obligation is such that whereas the said obliger having formerly enlisted in the rebel army of the so called Confederate States of America and now desirous to renounce all allegiance to said so called government and having taken an oath to support the constitution government and laws of the United States of America and to support maintain __________ the same against all enemies and opposers whomsoever.

Now if the said obliger shall faithfully keep said oath and shall hereafter and ever refrain from aiding the said rebel government in any action or influence? -- and if the said obliger shall remain a true and loyal citizen of the United States of America and shall ever aid her against any and all enemies by word act and influence then this obligation shall be void and of no effect otherwise? to be and remain in full force and __________ in law.

Given under my hand and seal at Camp Buel this 17th day of February A.D. 1862
                                                                                              James Oney (signature)               SEAL

I hereby become surety for the above named obliger for the performance of the conditions of the foregoing bond as witness my hand and seal at Camp Buel this 17th day of February A.D. 1862.
Albert L.A. Sheldon? (signature)                                  Name unreadable (signature)     SEAL

And here's the oath.

I James Oney of Magoffin County Ky do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the government of the United States of America that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability support the constitution and laws thereof that I will aid and defend her in all my acts words and deeds influence against all her enemies and opposers whomsoever more especially against the so called Confederate States of America so help me God!

Camp Buell Paintsville Ky
Feb 17 1862
James Oney (signature)

But that wasn't the end of it. The next document in chronological order was dated 24 May 1863. 

James Oney
Pvt Co A. 5 Regt. Ky. Inf
Appears on a Muster Roll
of prisoners of war confined by the Provost Marshal at Louisa, Ky. 
Roll dated Louisa, Ky., May 31, 1863.

Where captured or arrested  Morgan Co Ky
When captured or arrested  May 24 1863
By whom captured or arrested  Capt Patrick 14 Ky.
When confined  May 24 1863
Charges  Being a Rebel officer
Remarks: Released May 28, 1863, by military commission on giving bonds and security of $1000, and taking oath of allegiance

The exact same document exists for James's son, Richard. Apparently, James cannot learn his lesson, and it makes me wonder if he was on the 1860's equivalent of a "watch list." In fact, the 14th Kentucky, the unit that arrested him, was charged with protecting eastern Kentucky and the border with Virginia from Confederate forces, so they would be on the lookout for those who continued to encourage pro-Confederate views. I also wonder at that strikeout of the word "deeds" in his oath, replaced with the word "influence." Maybe James Oney was arrested not because of a deed he had committed but because of the influence he had wielded with his family and neighbors.

Some interesting facts about Kentucky in the Civil War:

Kentucky provided about 35,000 soldiers to the Confederate Army.
Over 75,000 Kentuckians joined the Union Army.
Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky.
Magoffin County was formed in 1860 from portions of Floyd, Johnson, and Morgan counties. It was named for Beriah Magoffin, who was Governor of Kentucky from 1859 to 1862. Even as he sympathized with the South, he maintained the neutrality of the state of Kentucky through the first couple of years of the war. He was the Governor that vetoed the removal of Confederate troops from the state.

The Oney Cemetery Near White Oak, Kentucky


I've mentioned serendipity before in this blog. It's amazing how often I'm working on something genealogical and something else pops up that relates to the thing I'm researching. About the time that I was adding the Oney ancestors to my family tree and starting to work on this post, I was cleaning out a tote bag and found a printout of a message board post that I had found in 2012. It was a list of people buried in the Oney Cemetery near White Oak, Kentucky. At the time I printed it off I'm sure I knew very few people on the list, but after working on this blog post, I know who most of them are.

Oney Cemetery (photo contributed to Findagrave by Roger Sprague)


The message was in reply to a question about the Oney Cemetery and had been written by an Oney descendant named Scott Chafin in the year 2000. Scott's list includes some graves that are not on the Findagrave listing for the Oney Cemetery and omits others. A visit to the Oney Cemetery is definitely in order for my vacation next summer. Here are the graves that Scott documented. (His words are in italics; my notes follow in parentheses in regular font.)

I believe "Annie Oney" is nee Annie Sprague, daughter of Ambrose D. Sprague and Sarah Bloomer. She married John Wesley Oney, son of James Oney and Rhoda Day Oney (my ggg-grandparents).

The "Elisha Oney" is probably son of William Oney and Sarah Brown, married Elizabeth Whitt. (Elisha is James Oney's brother.)

"Elizabeth Oney" probably his wife.

"Rebecca Amyx" is nee Rebecca Oney. She was married to Preston Amyx at the Elisha Oney residence. (This Rebecca is the daughter of Elisha Oney, not the Rebecca listed above as the daughter of James and Rhoda Oney.)

"Rhoda Harper" is nee Rhoda Ellen Oney; married Lafayette Harper. (Rhoda was the daughter of William Patton Oney.)

"Richard K. Oney" ... was a son of James and Rhoda Day Oney and married to Mary Margaret Collinsworth. After his death, she married his next-youngest brother, Joseph Day Oney.

"Rhoda Day" is probably Rhoda Day Oney, wife of James Oney, but without dates I'm not 100% certain. It was unusual for a married woman to be buried under her maiden name, but as I know she's buried there, it's probably her. (I have seen a photograph of a headstone at the Oney Cemetery that shows the names of both James Oney and his wife, Rhoda Day Oney. I wonder if that headstone did not exist in 2000 when Scott Chafin wrote this message board post.)

"Boney Oney" is probably Napoleon "Bonapart" Oney. (Son of Elisha Oney.) Married to Mary Oney, only child of Richard K. Oney and Mary Margaret Collinsworth.

"Sarah Day" is nee Sarah J. Oney, daughter of James Oney and Sarah Day Oney, married Andrew Jackson Day. (My 3rd great-grandmother)

Scott omitted the grave of James Oney. He has the aforementioned headstone shared with his wife Rhoda and a military headstone engraved with his unit, "Co A, 5 KY Inf, CSA."


Contributed to Findagrave by Roger Sprague


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monrovia Testerman Update

Back in July I wrote a post about Salina Monrovia Testerman, the half-sister of my grandmother's half-sister, Cora. (Secret Sister) Of course, Monrovia was not a secret. It was just that none of us knew about her. An Ancestry hint, found by my cousin Linda, led us to discover records that gave us the outline of Monrovia's life. However, it's the conversations I've recently had with three of Monrovia's granddaughters that have filled in the details and answered the questions we had.

It all started with an email that said, "My name is Julia. I am a Testerman and I have lots of info. Please call me." So I did, and we had a delightful 3-hour conversation over two nights. Julia did have lots of info, and she was able to flesh out the bare outline of her ancestors' lives that I had found in historical records. A subsequent phone conversation with Julia's cousin Helen and emails from another cousin, Kathryn, added more details to the story.


  • Yes, Mary Frances Nickell, Julia's great-grandmother, was married before she married George Turner Castle, my great-grandfather. Her first husband's name was Silas Monroe Testerman, and he did die tragically before the birth of his daughter and namesake, Salina Monrovia Testerman.
  • Silas Monroe was pretty amazing. He was only 27 when he died, but he had accomplished a lot in his short life. He was a schoolteacher. He was a Mason and helped organize the Grange (in Morgan County, I presume); he kept a journal of his travels (which I hope to read); he played the violin and the dulcimer; he held a long-standing record as a high jumper; and on his way to school one morning he saved the life of a drowning man but lost his own life in the attempt.
  • On the subject of names: Helen told me that in the years following the drowning a lot of new parents named their sons Monroe. All three cousins told me that their grandmother was emphatic in her preference to be called Monrovia. 
  • Kathryn's mother told her that Monrovia was in the wagon with her mother and her new husband, George Castle, when Monrovia jumped down and ran back to her Testerman grandparents, "crying that she did not want to leave them." She was 8. She apparently stayed with them until she married Alonzo Jones in 1898. Those are the kinds of details I love and the kind of thing we wouldn't know from the historical record. It seems that both of our families were lucky that our grandmothers passed down their childhood memories.
  • I mentioned to Julia that my grandmother told me that when Grandpa Castle died, her cousin John Smith Castle went to Hazel Green to get Cora, who was going to school at Hazel Green Academy. She said, "Oh, my goodness! Both Monrovia and Alonzo graduated from Hazel Green Academy!" Here's another scrap of memory that has more significance now that I know that Cora was following in her older sister's footsteps. (I just realized while writing this that John Smith Castle, who was the son of James Harvey Castle and his wife Elizabeth Nickell, was Cora's first cousin on both her father's and her mother's side.)
  • Monrovia and Alonzo had 9 children: Carl; Bernice; Clarice; Estella (who preferred to be called Estelle); Mary Catherine (named for her great-grandmother, Mary Catherine "Kitty" Brooks Nickell); Vernon; Wendell; Virginia; and Alfred. Helen is the daughter of Bernice, the second of Monrovia's children; Julia's father was Vernon, child number 6; and Kathryn's mother was the next to youngest, Virginia.
  • Mary Catherine was the only child that did not reach adulthood. She died of diphtheria; Monrovia also caught it but survived. Alonzo went to town and got the diphtheria vaccine and vaccinated the rest of the children. 
  • Finally, the answer to this question: Did Monrovia and Cora visit each other as adults? Yes! Kathryn has photos of the two of them together when they were older. The two sisters were close. When I asked this question of Julia, she told me I needed to talk to her cousin Helen, because Helen was actually born in Herington, Kansas, where Cora and Fred Jones lived. Fred had gotten Helen's father a job with the railroad in Herington, and the family moved there. Helen lived there until she was 7. 
  • Monrovia lived to be 96. In her later years she moved to live with her daughter, Bernice, in Nampa, Idaho. She had a small mobile home in Bernice's back yard. Helen remembers her as a sweet-tempered person, although Julia remembers her as also being "straight-laced." 
  • In 1976 Carl, Bernice, Clarice, Vernon, and Julia went on a road trip to visit every place that the Testermans had lived, including Herington, Kansas, and Morgan County, Kentucky. Helen has a picture of her mother, Bernice, with our mutual cousin Ralph Jones from that trip.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Julia, Helen, and Kathryn. Their memories and their obvious love of their family have made me feel as if I have also met their parents; their grandmother, Monrovia; and their great-grandfather, Silas Monroe. 

One more goose-pimply coincidence: How did Julia find me? She is in the habit of doing genealogy research at the McClung Library in Knoxville, Tennessee, near where she lives. A fellow genealogy researcher there suggested she look at my blog because he knew that she was a Testerman. How did he find my blog? He researches the Reeds, another of my ancestral families. I'm so glad he shared his find with Julia!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Day Data

November 5 was the birthday of my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day Castle. To the older Castle cousins, and I consider myself among that number, she is the central figure of our childhoods. To my oldest Castle cousin she was the great influence and inspiration because "she could do anything!" She built houses and sidewalks, plucked chickens and milked cows, worked many jobs to support her family, taught Sunday School, led the PTA, welcomed her children and grandchildren to visit every Sunday and even live with her when they needed to, and lived by herself in her old age when she was almost completely deaf and blind. I've been writing a lot lately about our Castle heritage, so today I thought I would turn to the ancestors of Big Mom--the Days.




Sarah Florida Day was born on November 5, 1878, in Magoffin County, Kentucky, to James Thomas Day and Nancy Emily (Reed) Day. The first census on which she appears is the 1880 census of Johnsons Fork, Magoffin County. She appears as "Sariah," age 1, along with her father, mother, and sister Ida, age 3. The next document in which she appears records her marriage as Florida Day to George T. Castle on January 2, 1896. 

Her father, James Thomas Day, was born December 1st, 1856. I'm a little bit amazed that I have recently found a record of his birth on Ancestry. The columns in the birth register read: Date of Birth, Name of Child, Sex, Alive or Dead, Place of Birth, Father of Child or Owner of the Child, Maiden Name of Mother, Color of Child (White, Mulatto, or Black), Residence of Parents, and Remarks. Wow, that tells you right there that we are talking about a different century, and I haven't even told you about the Remarks column yet.


Kentucky Birth Record for James Thomas Day

The record for "James Thos. Day" says that he was a male, born in White Oak, to parents A.J. Day and Sarah Jane Oney, and his parents resided in Morgan County, as did all the parents of the children registered on this page. I even know from this record the name of the midwife who attended his birth: Elizabeth Whitt. Isn't that amazing? I was pretty sure that's what I was looking at when I saw a woman's name under Remarks for each birth. Some of them were repeated many times. Then I noticed that the first listing under Remarks on that page said, "Sarah Hampton Mid Wife." Scrolling back, I found Elizabeth Whitt's name on the previous page with the initials "M.W." after her name. Think of all the women who served in that capacity over the centuries and never got any credit. At least these women did.

It has been easy to document J.T. Day's life in existing records. In 1860 he appears on the census of Magoffin County with his parents, A.J. and Sarah, and a little sister, Nancy, age 1. By the 1870 census his mother Sarah had died, and James T., age 14, is listed with father A.J., stepmother Catherine, sister Nancy, brother John R., and half-siblings, Mary and Sanford. (Records vary on John's date of birth, but on the 1900 census it is reported as April 1861. If so, Sarah was his mother.) James lost his mother at the age of 5, but he honored her memory by naming his second daughter Sarah, and that name has passed down through the Castle/Day family. 

On April 13, 1876, James T. Day married Nancy E. Reed in Salyersville, Magoffin County. They went on to celebrate 55 years of marriage (their 50th was written up in the Tulsa papers) and had eight children: Ida; Sarah Florida; Zedda; Mary Emma; Cassa B. (the only boy, who died at the age of 4); Margaret; Minta; and Retta Lee. 


50th Wedding Anniversary, as reported in the Tulsa paper

James Thomas, beloved by his wife, children, and grandchildren, died on November 28, 1931, just shy of his 75th birthday. I have always been touched (and somewhat horrified) by the following photograph. Of course, the family was only taking part in a tradition followed by most everybody, attending the body of a deceased loved one, but just look at their faces. You can tell how devastated they are. 


I believe the girls are in order left to right by their ages:
(L to R) Ida, Florida, Zedda, Emma, Margaret, Minta, Retta Lee

All the records exist that make it possible for me to take the Day family back another generation. A.J. Day seemed to prefer the name Jackson in his early life or his initials later, but his death certificate gives his full name as Andrew Jackson Day. He first appears on the 1850 census at age 12, which would mean he was born around 1837/38, right at the end of Jackson's presidency. 

A.J. Day married Sarah J. Oney on September 20, 1855. Just now in carefully looking at their marriage records, I have discovered a mistake in parentage that has been in my tree for quite some time. The marriage register reads:

"Married by me at the House of James Oney on the 20th day of Sept. 1855 Mr. Jackson Day to Miss Sarah Oney he aged 18 yrs born in Grayson Co. Va. she born in Tazewell Co. Va aged 15 years single present James Oney & Harvey Whitt Given under my hand this 20th day of Sept. 1855. Wm. Lykins MB Church"




For years I have shown the father of Sarah as William Oney from Floyd County KY who had a daughter named Sarah on the 1850 census. That Sarah wasn't actually even the right age to be our Sarah. However, with the added information in the marriage register that Sarah was from Tazewell County, Virginia, and that her wedding took place at the house of James Oney (usually the father of the bride), I searched for James Oney in Tazewell Co. in 1850. 

James Oney was already in my tree with a connection to the Days. His wife was Rhoda Day, and they had a daughter Sally the right age to be Sarah. In 1860 James and Rhoda were living in Magoffin County KY, and they had a son named Creed F. Oney. If you read my post about the Days in Davenport, you will remember that I thought that James T. Day and family came to Davenport because of their connection to a minister named Creed F. Oney. At the time I thought they were cousins, but it looks like the connection was even deeper. Creed was James T. Day's uncle. Another connection seems to cement the deal. The other witness at the wedding--Harvey Whitt--was also originally from Tazewell County and his mother was Elizabeth Whitt, Sarah's midwife at the birth of her son James.

Sarah died at age 21 on March 15, 1862. A.J. Day remarried to Catherine Jane Reed on November 24, 1864, in Magoffin County. A.J. and Jane had three children of their own: Mary Margaret, Sanford Jackson, and Andrew K. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 the families of Mary and Andrew K., including A.J. and Jane, moved to Ohio. Andrew Jackson Day died in Warren County, Ohio, on December 16, 1921. His death certificate says he was born in North Carolina on May 3, 1835, and his father's name was Thomas Day. 

Aunt Emma wrote on the back of this picture:
"A.J. Day with 2nd wife"
A.J. and Catherine J. Day headstone
Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio

Jackson Day, age 12, appears on the 1850 census of Morgan County, Kentucky, along with father Thomas P., age 46; mother (?) Margarett, age 34; Anice, 15; Itera, 7; John, 4; Clarinda, 2; Cale (female, apparently Cahala), age 1. Daughter Carrie A., age 18, was already married to James Wells. A lot of trees on Ancestry identify mother Margarett as Margaret "Nancy" McGrady--the Nancy because daughter Carrie's death register entry says that her parents were Thomas and Nancy Day. I have not found any documents that prove that Margaret and Nancy were the same person. Thomas's marriage in Grayson County, Virginia, on December 9, 1830, was listed in Early American Marriages, Virginia to 1850 , but his spouse is not named, at least not on Ancestry.

By the 1860 census Thomas P. Day's family had scattered. Fractured would be more like it. We talk about blended families now; we've got nothing on the 1800's when so many families were destroyed and rebuilt by the deaths of parents, especially mothers. Apparently, sometime not long after the 1850 census was taken, Margaret died. On March 8, 1852, Thomas remarried to Mrs. Mary Stacy--herself a widow. Thomas P. Day's household on the 1860 census looks like this: Thomas P. Day, age 59; Mary Day, age 45; Mary J. Peyton, age 3; Lucinda Peyton, age 1. What? What happened to Thomas's kids, and who are Mary and Lucinda? 

Well, on August 4, 1851, Anice (spelled Annis) married Alfred Davis. Jackson married Sarah in 1855. On April 10, 1857, Itera/Itura married John Haney. Clarinda, age 14, is living with them on the 1860 census. John, age 16, is living with Carrie and her husband. On the 1870 census both Clarinda, age 24, and Cahala, age 21, are living with Carrie and James Wells. Some of this might just be empty nest stuff, but do you get the feeling that Thomas's kids don't like their stepmother Mary?

Mary is too old to have been the mother of Mary J. and Lucinda, and besides, their name would be Stacy, not Peyton. Going back to the 1850 census I found Mary, living with her husband, George Stacy. Their only daughter is Elizabeth. Elizabeth married Benjamin F. Peyton in 1856 and died of "fever" in 1859 at the age of 17, leaving behind two daughters, Mary J. and Lucinda. Mystery solved. 

Thomas P. is living and listed on the 1870 census at age 66. "Keeping house" for him is Lurinda, age 48. I literally have no clue who she is. None of his daughters would be that old. Another wife? One more clue comes from the death certificate of Thomas's daughter, Annis. She died in 1921 at the age of 85. The death certificate says her father was Tom Day, and her mother was Nancy McGradia. I'm not deciphering that from somebody's handwriting; it is typed on the document. At least I know where the name Nancy McGrady came from. 


Death certificate of Annis Day Williams

"McGradia" is listed as a surname only twice on Ancestry--one might have been McGradie, and the other is our Nancy. I've found a couple of women on Findagrave with the first name of McGradia, but not one person with that surname.

Much of what I have learned about Thomas Day's parents comes from a biography of Joseph Day published in Carroll 1765-1815: The Settlements: A History of the First Fifty Years of Carroll County, Virginia by John Perry Alderman and posted by a kind Ancestry member with the cute username of cmyroots. Joseph Day was probably the son of Joseph and Susanna Day, who were listed as taxpayers in Montgomery County, Virginia, by 1782. Some users on Ancestry give Susanna's maiden name as Huston.

Their son Joseph was born in Pennsylvania about 1776 and married Rhoda Cock in 1796. The couple moved around some, living on a couple of tracts of land deeded to them by Rhoda's father, Andrew, and buying others. They also had ten children, according to Joseph's will: Robert, Penelope, Thomas, May, Theodota, Andrew, Rebecca, Joseph Day Jr., Rhoda (who married James Oney), and Hannah. The Carroll County book says this about Thomas: "Thomas Day married Nancy McGrady in Grayson on December 9, 1830; he did not live long in the county and many of his descendants are to be found in Kentucky." 

Rhoda Cock died August 16, 1827. Joseph remarried a couple of years later to a much younger woman, Rebecca Dunn. (He was 54; she was 18.) They are found on the 1850 census in Carroll County. He is listed as 74, she as 38. Also enumerated with them are Rebecca's daughter Louisa from her first marriage, and their seven children: Lorenzo, Malissa, Peter, Commodore, James, Lucy, and John. Joseph died at about age 80; his youngest child was 8.

After reading about Grandpa Day's parents and grandparents, it makes me appreciate his 55-year devotion to Grandma Day even more!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Secret Sister

I think the Castle readers of this blog will be interested in this post, but I also think our experience with this new "relative" could be helpful to anyone doing family research.

My cousin Linda recently texted me this question: "Was Cora's mother's name Mary Lesterman?" and then followed it up seconds later with a second text: "Never mind -- I remember it was Frances Nickell -- brain lapse."

Cora was the half-sister of the eight Castle siblings who were children of George Turner Castle and Sarah Florida Day. Cora was the daughter of G.T. Castle with his first wife, Frances Nickell. Cora's parents married in Morgan County, Kentucky, on 17 October 1884, and Cora was born on 10 October 1890. Her mother passed away on 10 April 1893, and Cora was subsequently raised by her Castle grandparents. Her father remarried to Florida Day on 2 January 1896.

The Castle and Nickell families were connected by more than just this marriage. Frances's sister, Elizabeth, was married to G.T. Castle's brother, James. The graves of James, Elizabeth, and some of their children (including Caledonia and her foot) are located with those of James and George's parents, Goldman and Rachel (Sargent) Castle, in Panama, Morgan County, Kentucky. You can read about our discovery of the graves here. That's why we were so sure that George T. Castle's first wife's name was Frances Nickell. That's all my grandmother ever called her.

Family of James H. and Elizabeth (Nickell) Castle

Which brings us back to Mary Lesterman. Linda had gotten a hint on Ancestry.com (Kentucky, County Marriages, 1783-1965) that George Castle had married Mary F. Lesterman (or in another index--Mary Flesterman) on 17 October 1884. We had both disregarded the hint because it was the wrong name, but what Linda had noticed was that it was the same date. That made me take a look at the original record of the marriage.

Hint #1: I've seen this hint over and over in genealogy self-help books, and I try to look at the original record if it's available online, but I don't always if I'm in a hurry. Make a vow right now: Always look at the original record if you have access to it.

The handwritten record made it obvious that the bride's name was not Flesterman; it was Mary F. Lesterman or maybe even Testerman. But what the index didn't show, and the original marriage register did, was the place of marriage: the home of J.W. Nickell. James Wilson Nickell was the father of Frances and Elizabeth Nickell. It began to be more and more probable that Frances Nickell was the same person as Mary F. Lesterman/Testerman.

Marriage record of Mary F. Nickell and S.M. Testerman

Hint #2: Usually my hint would be "Don't assume two people with similar names are the same person," but in this case, If dates or other details match up, don't assume that two people with similar names are not the same person.

My next step was to search the Ancestry records for a Frances Nickell who married a Testerman in Morgan County, Kentucky. Sure enough, Mary F. Nickell, age 17, married S.M. Testerman, age 27, on 4 February 1876. Sadly, Silas M. Testerman died 19 May 1876. Again, checking the original record supplied information the index didn't show. Poor Silas drowned. And apparently--and here's the thing that has surprised Linda and me--Mary Frances was pregnant.

Death record for Silas M. Testerman

Hint #3: Check all the census records you can find for the relative you are researching. If I hadn't, I might never have noticed that Mary Frances had a child.

The next census in which Mary Frances would have appeared was the 1880. On the 1880 Morgan County census I found Mary Testerman, age 22, widowed, with daughter Salina M., age 3. Kentucky birth records show that Salina was born 17 November 1876.

Unfortunately, as most genealogists learn to their chagrin, the 1890 census mostly does not exist, due to a fire in 1921 at the Commerce Department Building where the records were stored. By 1900 Mary Frances was dead, and George Castle was remarried. The 1900 census shows that his family consisted of himself, wife Florida, and children Cora, Fannie, and Forrest. (Goldman and Rachel Castle, the next family on the census, also claim Cora, calling her "step daughter." Of course, she was really their grandchild.)

So, what happened to Salina?

Hint #4: Pay attention to Ancestry resource tips.

When you look at a source for an individual on Ancestry, Suggested Resources appear to the right of the page. I think they must be sources that are attached to the same individual by other Ancestry users. They are often extremely valuable when other records for an individual (census, birth, marriage, death) are difficult to find for some reason. (Beware; sometimes they are wrong. That's what makes me think they are selected by Ancestry users--sometimes in error.) In the case of Salina M. Testerman, they were very helpful--because Salina did not always go by the same first name.

When I look at Salina M. Testerman's 1880 census record, records for the following names appear in Suggested Resources: Salina Testerman, Monrovia Jones, Selina M. Jones, Monrovia Testerman, and Salina M. Testerman. Of course, I had to click on all the resources to determine if they all referred to the same woman. Apparently, they do.

Having not seen Silas M. Testerman's middle name on any primary source, I wasn't sure what it was until I found an entry on Findagrave for Silas Monroe Testerman. It looks like Mary Frances gave her baby a name that honored her father: Salina Monrovia. Monrovia Jones is enumerated on the 1900 census in Morgan County, Kentucky, with husband Alonzo H. Jones, whom she had married in 1898, and son Carl M. Jones, age 1. In 1910 the Jones family, with several more children, are living in Missouri; in 1920, 1930, and 1940 they are living in Kansas.

According to Findagrave, Alonzo and Monrovia are buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Chanute, Kansas. Alonzo died in 1952; apparently, Monrovia moved to Idaho to live with one of her children, because the Social Security Death Index shows that a Monrovia S. Jones (with the same birth date as Salina M. Testerman) died in Nampa, Idaho, in 1971. They must have returned her body to Kansas for burial beside her husband.

Which is the weird thing. Cora Castle also married a Jones and lived and died in Kansas. I think Cora met her husband, Fred L. Jones, after the Castle family moved to Davenport, because Fred was born in Arkansas. They are listed on the 1910 census in Chandler, Oklahoma, with their son Ralph, who was just a baby. I can't find them on the 1920 census, but on the 1930 census they are living in Herington, Kansas, where they are both buried.


Cora Castle, Herington KS, 1940's

Chanute and Herington are about two and a half hours away from each other. Did Cora and her half-sister, Monrovia, visit each other as adults? Considering that he lived in another state, we saw our Jones cousin, Ralph, often. My grandmother told me stories about Cora, who was 7 years older than she was. She never mentioned that Cora had a half-sister, as far as I can remember, but Salina Monrovia had already married in 1900 when my grandmother was just 3, and by the time the Castle family settled in Davenport, Oklahoma, Salina Monrovia was in Missouri.

I have recently had a DNA match with a Jones cousin, the son of Ralph's brother, Lavelle. I have messaged him to ask about Monrovia, but I haven't heard back from him. If he has anything to add to the story, I will let you know.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Revolution Road Trip: Jacob Castle and Shenandoah

Finally--Shenandoah National Park! I had been anticipating this since I realized that Jacob Castle owned land not far from the park. Tim and I had visited Castlewood, Virginia, on a previous trip (see Genealogy on the Road: Castlewood Virginia), but Castle's Woods was not the first place Jacob lived in Virginia.

On Ancestry.com I had found an entry for Jacob Castle under "Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records 1639-1850." Although the original land transaction was recorded in the Augusta County court records, the Ancestry entry comes from "Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800." Compiled by Lyman Chalkley and originally published in 1912, the Chronicles contain abstracts of Augusta County court records from 1745 to 1800 and is available online. (The University of Virginia urges caution when using these records; don't assume that just because a piece of information is not in the Chronicles that it doesn't exist.)

One of the entries that mentioned Jacob Castle was a land record dated 17th May 1752. In its entirety it says: " Edward Watts and Elizabeth, of Culpeper, to John Magret, 125 acres. Mouth of Hawksbill of Shanando; 200 acres sold by Jacob Stover to Jacob Castle; Castle sold 75 acres to Jacob Coger, 26th June, 1740, and 125 acres to Elizabeth Downs, present wife of Edward Whats. 33d [3rd?] September, 1742." In other words, Jacob Castle bought 200 acres from Jacob Stover (more about him later) before 26 June 1740; he sold 75 acres to Jacob Coger in 1740 and the remaining 125 acres to Elizabeth Downs (later Watts) in 1742. The land was located at the "mouth of Hawksbill of Shanando."


Jacob Stover is a well-known name in the history of this part of Virginia. He was born in Switzerland in 1688 and emigrated to Pennsylvania with a group of fellow Mennonites, possibly in 1702. He first bought land in Pennsylvania, not long before marrying Sarah Boone, the aunt of Daniel Boone, on 15 March 1714. In 1729 he first visited the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and in 1730 received two grants of land, 5000 acres each, from the Virginia Council.

According to the Family Search Wiki on Virginia Land and Property, "Land grants from this office were given in two ways--to those who brought persons to Virginia (headright grants) or to persons who paid money into the treasury (purchases). Headright grants were issued from about 1618 to 1732. A person was given a patent for a certain number of acres (usually 50 per person) for himself, his wife, servants, slaves, or any other passengers for whom he provided passage." Part of the colorful story surrounding Jacob Stover is that, in the absence of enough people to secure the 10,000 acres he requested, he submitted names for all of his livestock.

It appears that Jacob Stover and Jacob Castle were also friends. When Jacob Stover died in 1741, Jacob Castle was named guardian of Jacob's son, Abraham, who was under the age of 21. For a more complete picture of the peopling of the Shenandoah Valley by Jacob Stover and others, see The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, published in 1907, by John Walter Wayland, available online.

As usual, I learned a lot after I returned home from our trip. Before the trip I had googled "Hawksbill" and "Shenandoah," guessing that the word "Shanando" was a different, older spelling of that lovely word. I found that there was a Hawksbill Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, and not only that, but the highest point of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park was Hawksbill Mountain. There was a great map of Shenandoah National Park and surrounding areas on the Park website. Perhaps from the viewpoint of Hawksbill Mountain, we could see the mouth of the Hawksbill or the point at which it flows into the Shenandoah River, and we could pinpoint the approximate location of the land that Jacob Castle owned.


We entered the park at the northernmost entrance and stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center for our first photos of the valley. I was expecting beauty, but the view of valley and mountains exceeded my expectations.










Why, oh why, did Jacob Castle leave this beautiful place? The gorgeous views may not have impressed the pioneers; we love the mountains because we are on vacation, and we don't have to climb them or go around them to get where we are going. However, as the pioneers found out, the Shenandoah Valley was prime farmland. Some families have lived here and farmed here since the 1700's. We decided it was because our Jacob wasn't a farmer; he was an adventurer.

Shenandoah National Park runs the length of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and you can drive it from end to end in 6 to 8 hours. Between the length of the drive and my brother's fear of heights, we didn't make it to Hawksbill Mountain. As Tim pointed out, Couldn't we see Jacob Castle's land from the valley just as well as from the mountain? So we drove back out the north end of the park and headed through the Shenandoah Valley, which was just as beautiful with its views of the Blue Ridge Mountains on one side and the Shenandoah Mountains on the other.

We were nearing the end of the mountain ranges when we suddenly crossed a bridge with a sign that said Hawksbill Creek. I shrieked, and the intrepid Tim again tried to find a way we could get to our destination without losing our lives in a fiery collision with an 18-wheeler. We were really in luck this time. Tim realized that the creek went under the bridge and came out on the other side in the town of Luray. In fact, there was a whole park that ran alongside the creek.







I don't know how far we were from "the mouth of Hawksbill of Shanando," but it was good enough for us. We were standing on the same creek that ran through the land of our ancestor, Jacob Castle.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Revolution Road Trip: Presidential Places

The last leg of our road trip was taking us to Jacob Castle's land in the Shenandoah Valley, but first we were going to visit a place that I have wanted to see for many years. Over the years I have sponsored three student trips to Washington, D.C., and as part of those trips I've been to Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Mount Vernon (twice), but somehow those trips never included Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Now I was finally going to get to see it.

Our early morning began with breakfast at the Woodlands Hotel right outside the gates of Colonial Williamsburg. The hotel was full of student groups and brought back memories of my previous trips. My predominant feeling was relief that other people were responsible for the teenagers milling around the lobby and dining room! We hit the Colonial Williamsburg gift shop just as soon as it opened--I bought my very own Shut the Box--and we were on our way to Monticello.

By the time we got to Monticello it was 11:00 a.m., and the Michie Tavern was opening for business. In all the years I have heard about Monticello, I had not heard about the Michie Tavern, which has its own history. The tavern was built by William Michie in 1777 and had been a local meeting place for years before Michie petitioned in 1784 for permission to operate an "ordinary."

Dictionary.com defines an ordinary as "(in a restaurant or inn) a complete meal in which all courses are included at one fixed price," which is exactly what the Michie Tavern serves in its buffet of typical Southern lunch fare: fried chicken, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, peach cobbler, and more. The food was delicious, and the building was beautiful.

Michie Tavern

It's even more amazing when you discover that the Michie Tavern has not always been in this location. After the inn closed around the time of the Civil War, it was a residence for the Michies and others. In 1927 it was purchased by a local businesswoman who had an idea for a museum and had the building moved 17 miles to its present location a half-mile from Monticello.

After lunch we headed down the road to Monticello. What I have always admired about Thomas Jefferson is his wide-ranging and inventive mind, so my favorite parts of Monticello showed his ingenious side. I was very interested in the 7-day clock just inside the front door and how they had to cut a hole in the floor to make room for Saturday in the basement. I also liked the imaginative arrangement of his alcove bed and the closet above it.

Monticello

Jefferson's tomb through the fence

Our next stop was an unexpected pleasure. Until my brother told me, I didn't know that Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, was so close to Monticello. It is a beautiful house in a beautiful setting. I've always admired Dolley and have learned to admire James Madison, "the father of the Constitution." The combined intellect of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) never ceases to amaze me.

Montpelier
View from the front porch
Madison's tomb and family cemetery

Tim and I discussed how many Presidential graves we have visited. He beats me by a bunch, but I now have visited the resting places of George Washington (Mount Vernon), Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), James Madison (Montpelier), Andrew Jackson (The Hermitage), William Howard Taft (Arlington National Cemetery), Woodrow Wilson (Washington National Cathedral), and John F. Kennedy (Arlington National Cemetery.) At least I think I have seen Taft's and Wilson's, since I have been to Arlington and the National Cathedral twice each.

Our final family-related stops would come the next day but for the evening we were staying in a cute little cabin on a lake, part of a resort time-share my brother and his wife have. I could have stayed there for a week and enjoyed the view from the living room windows.