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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kith and Kin

When the Days and Castles first came to Oklahoma, they lived between Davenport and Chandler. I think it was in the early 1980's that we took my grandmother back there to visit one Sunday. We drove around roads that she remembered from 70 years before. We learned that many of the same families still lived on these farms, and how did we know that? Because my grandmother would point out the home of a family she remembered, and sure enough, the name on the mailbox would be the one she said. 

In my last post I shared a map my grandmother drew in her 80's showing the homes of families she remembered from her early years in Kentucky. The summer after she turned 10 she and her family moved to Oklahoma, and she never returned. She drew that map 75 years after she left Kentucky in 1907. Now, I could probably draw a map of the neighborhoods I lived in before I was 10, but I have lived here ever since, so I have 60 years worth of memories to draw on. If I had left Red Fork at the age of 10, I wonder how much I would remember now.

I thought it might be fun to find these Kentucky families on the 1900 census and try to determine where they lived and what connection they might have had to the Castle family. Why did my grandmother remember them? And just for curiosity's sake, was her map correct?

It complicates things a little that the names of the communities around West Liberty seem to have changed. Some of them have disappeared altogether. The communities that I remember my grandmother talking about were Caney, Cannel City, Stacy Fork, and of course, the town of West Liberty. On my grandmother's application for a delayed birth certificate from Kentucky, she said that she was born near Caney. The one-room school she attended was in Stacy Fork. Since he was postmaster, for a time the area around Grandpa Castle's house was known as Castle, KY. The name I never heard was Panama, the area around the little G.D. Castle family cemetery. It must have been a usage that came about after my grandmother left Kentucky.

G.D. Castle postmaster appointment showing p.o. name as Castle, KY

Starting with the cluster around Stacy Fork in the left-hand corner of the map:

I know how my grandmother knew the Ratliffs. Dora Castle, daughter of James H. and Elizabeth Nickell Castle, was married to Wheeler Ratliff. They first appear in the 1910 census in Walnut Grove, Morgan County, also known as Precinct 7, Caney. They are buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Stacy Fork. No wonder this is so confusing! 

How about the Webbs? This was a hard one, but I figured it out. Geneva Haney Alexander was a friend of the Castles who lived in Tulsa but had moved there in her teens from Morgan County. Geneva was born in 1902 in Stacy Fork. Her parents were Jariel D. and Martha Lou Webb Haney. Jariel and Martha are enumerated on the 1900 census in Caney. Geneva, her husband Jess, her parents, and her brother Cecil are all buried at Memorial Park in Tulsa.

Geneva Haney (seated) with my grandmother

Lykins was and is a very popular name in Morgan County. On the 1900 census there are over 35 heads of households with the last name Lykins, just in Morgan County. According to Ancestry, in 1880 and 1920 more people with the surname Lykins lived in Kentucky than in any other state. Eliza, daughter of William and Nancy Wells Castle, married Clay Lykins, but I can't determine from which of these families he comes.

Haney is another popular name in Morgan County. My grandmother listed four different Haney families on her map. My grandmother apparently knew some of these Haney families as relatives and perhaps others as the families of classmates. There were several Haneys in the photograph I have of her classmates at Stacy Fork School. The Castles were also related to the Haneys through marriage. Rachel Sargent Castle's father, John Sargent, died very young. His wife, Rachel's mother, Anna Bays Sargent, remarried to James Haney in 1841. Of the seven children that lived with her on various censuses, she was the mother of at least three: Miriam, Elizabeth, and George Washington Haney. 

Stacy Fork School, about 1902

I found the Gulletts, Quicksells, Nickells, Combses, and Whiteakers all listed on the 1900 census in Morgan County, River, District 0074. Starting on page 26 of that enumeration are the Castles and Gulletts. Heads of households on that page are John Gullett, Mason Gullett, George T. Castle, and Goldman D. Castle. Mason Gullett's son, Asa, married Lutie Day, the first cousin of my grandmother's mother, Sarah Florida Day Castle. 

On page 28 are three families that I know my grandmother knew. First on the page was Massoline Nickell with her six children. She was the widow of Kelsey Nickell, who was the brother of George Turner Castle's first wife, Frances. Halfway down on the page was the family of William H. and Nancy Wells Castle (my grandmother listed all their names on her map; see below). Two houses down from the Castles was Napoleon "Uncle Boney" Haney. He was married to Miriam Haney, daughter of James Haney and Anna Bays.

On page 29 were Combs and Quicksell families, and on page 31 was the family of Alex Whiteaker. Under his name my grandmother listed three of his children. The first name, which looks like Bob, has to be some nickname for his oldest daughter, Mary Belle. Then comes J.D. (James) and Myrtle. James Whiteaker really did go by J.D.; as such he signed as informant on his father's death certificate.

William and Nancy Wells Castle family

On the right of my grandmother's map at the end of Castle Branch she lists all the children of William and Nancy Castle. Again, it's neat to know that they were known as Will and Nan. John Seymour Castle, who apparently went by Seymour, married Rosa Katherine (Kate) Oney. My grandmother listed their two children, (John) Boyd and Edna. Elizabeth (Elizie on the 1880 census) married first in 1892 to G.W. Lee, and then in 1906 to Alonzo Daugherty. She was already married and living on her own before my grandmother was born, which is probably why she is missing from my grandmother's list of Will and Kate's children. The next two children were Eliza, who married Clay Lykins, and (Goldman) Davidson, named for his grandfather, who died by age 25. (George) Barnes Castle married "Lula" Oney, and apparently set up housekeeping very close to his mother and dad. The two youngest were (Rachel) Florida and Effie. Florida's son, Mearl McGuire, and Effie both corresponded with my grandmother in her later years. 

I'm not sure Malone was called Malone when my grandmother lived in Kentucky. It is another small community lying outside of West Liberty. The census does not call it Malone until 1940, and only about 15 families were enumerated in that district in that year. Since my grandmother corresponded with Mearl McGuire, who lived in Malone, she may have used that name on her map because it corresponded to the area where the McGuires had lived when she was young. She lists five families there: the Walshes, DeBords, McGuires, Wells, and Bays.

In 1900 the John Debord family was enumerated in the same district with the families above: Morgan County, River, District 0074. John Debord (spelled in various censuses as Deborde, DeBorde, Deboard, Debard, etc.) was married to Calah Wells. Calah was the sister of Nancy Wells, who was married to William H. Castle (Nan and Will), but that is not her only connection to my grandmother's family. The father and mother of Nancy and Calah were James Wells and his wife Carrie Ann Day. Carrie Ann was the sister of Andrew Jackson Day who was the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day, wife of George Turner Castle. Whew! Is that convoluted enough for you??

I haven't figured out how or if the Walshes were related to the Castles, but they did live in the same area as the Debord and Wells families. In fact, according to Findagrave, John Walsh and his wife Mary, James Wells and his wife Carrie Ann Day, and John DeBorde and his wife Calah Wells are all buried in the DeBorde Cemetery in (wait for it) Malone

The Bays families in Malone were no doubt descended from the brothers of Anna Bays Sargent Haney. My grandmother would probably have known the degree of relationship, but the Bays families in 1900 were too far downstream for me to determine how they were related to Anna.

Caney, Stacy Fork, and Malone are all described by Wikipedia as lying along Highway 191 south of West Liberty, so if you want to read my grandmother's map oriented properly, West Liberty would be rotated to the top of the map.

If you compare my grandmother's map to this 1999 map of Morgan County, it might not match perfectly, but you can sure get an idea of these little communities in relation to each other. Traveling south on 191 from West Liberty, you might first see these little "branches," DeBoard Branch, Castle Branch, and Haney Branch. Just before DeBoard Branch to the east is the community of Malone. Look west between the Castle and Haney Branches and you will see Panama. Just south of Haney Branch on Hwy. 844 you will see Stacy Fork. To the east of Stacy Fork is the Walnut Grove Church. Further south on 191 are Caney and Cannel City.

Some of these families had known each other forever. On this one page of the 1870 census, long before my grandmother was born in 1897, I found these names on Page 1 of the Morgan County, Caney, enumeration: Anna (Bays) Haney, Goldman Castle (and wife Rachel, daughter of Anna), Alex Whiteaker, and John Haney (father of Jerial, grandfather of Geneva Haney Alexander). No wonder they stayed in my grandmother's thoughts for 80 years.

1870 Morgan County Census

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Castle Cousins

My grandmother, Fannie Castle, moved to Oklahoma in the summer of 1907. She was 10 years old. Much to the regret of my brother and me, she never got to return to Kentucky. Life moved on in Oklahoma, she met and married my grandfather, had twin boys, taught school for 43 years, raised my brother and me after our mother died, and helped raise her great-grandson, my son Jason. But she never forgot Kentucky. I mean, really, she didn't. She had an amazing memory.

In her 70's and 80's she began writing about her life in Kentucky. I have handwritten descriptions of her Castle grandparents' house and farm and even a map she drew of the area she remembered from her childhood. As many of us do as we get older, she became nostalgic for old places and old friends. She took out a subscription to her hometown Kentucky newspaper, The Licking Valley Courier, and she began to write to the cousins who still lived back there.

My grandmother's map of her home in Kentucky,
drawn about 75 years after she left there

She was so excited to get letters from them, and I guess that is why I remember them as well. I read their letters and saw the photos of their children and grandchildren. She heard from Virgil and Nettie Castle, Effie Castle Walters, Hattie Day Egelston, Mearl McGuire, Ida Frances Castle Elam, and even more often from Ida's daughter, Irene Downing. Nowadays they would all be Facebook friends, but back then they wrote long newsy letters and sent real photographs. 

I knew the names of all these people, but it might be surprising to find out that I didn't know exactly how they were related to my grandmother. Since meeting Virgil Castle's granddaughter, Jeneen, I have decided that I need to do a little research and document the connections between all these Castle cousins.

All of the connections go back to my grandmother's grandparents, Goldman Davidson Castle and his wife, Rachel Sargent Castle. They married September 1, 1844, and had at least seven documented children over 24 years. They were: William Henderson Castle, born 1846; James Harvey Castle, born 1852; John Castle, born 1854; Lilburn Castle, born 1857; Sarah Francis (later known as Aunt Sis) Castle, born 1862; George Turner Castle, my great-grandfather, born 1863; and Nancy Anne Castle, born 1868.

The 1850 census of Pulaski County shows one child of Goldman and Rachel Castle, William, age 4. The 1860 census of Morgan County enumerates children William, 14; James, 8; John, 4; and Lilburn, 1. Morgan County death records show that John and Lilburn both died in October of 1861 from scarlet fever. The 1870 census of Morgan County shows children, James, 17; Frances, 9; George, 7; and Anne, 2. In 1880 Sarah F., age 18; George T., age 16; and Nancy A., age 11, were still living at home.

1870 Morgan County census

William H. Castle married Nancy Jane Wells in Morgan County on November 3, 1867. Census records from 1870, 1880, and 1900 document these children: John Seymour, Elizabeth Ann, Lou Rittie, Eliza, Goldman Davidson, George Barnes, Rachel Florida, and Effie Lee. Some other family trees show another son, James Mize. William Henderson Castle and George Turner Castle were brothers. That means that Effie, with whom my grandmother had a long and affectionate correspondence, was her first cousin. Rachel Florida would also have been my grandmother's first cousin. Her son Mearl McGuire wrote to my grandmother. They would have been first cousins, once removed.

Effie Castle Walters

Mearl McGuire

James Harvey Castle married Elizabeth Nickell (sister of George Turner Castle's first wife, Frances.) Their children were Lula Catherine, Preston, John Smith, Lonis Sterling, Dora Alice, Caledonia, Ida Frances, Nora, Betty, Essa Mae, Goldman, Cleveland and Hendricks (twins). Caledonia died at age 16; Nora, Betty, and Goldman died young; and the twins died as infants. James, Elizabeth, and their children, Caledonia, Nora, and Goldman, are all buried in the Castle plot we recently visited.

James H. Castle family, 1890's?

Ida Frances Castle Elam and her daughter Irene corresponded with my grandmother. Ida would also have been my grandmother's first cousin. 

Ida Castle Elam (1st row, far left) and her children
Irene is 2nd row on the right

Her sister Lula Catherine would have been almost 15 years older than my grandmother and died in 1966, long before my grandmother began corresponding with her cousins. However, I recently saw a picture of her posted on Family Search and was amazed at how much she resembled my grandmother!

Lula Catherine Castle Lewis

Fannie Castle Smith

John Smith Castle, son of James and Elizabeth, and brother of Ida and Lula, married Bytha Engle. Their son Virgil and his wife Hettie also corresponded with my grandmother. John Smith would have been my grandmother's first cousin, so Virgil was her first cousin, once removed, although I noticed that Hettie called her "Aunt Fannie," as most everybody did. Jeneen is Virgil's granddaughter, so that makes Jeneen and me third cousins, once removed. Just today I became Facebook friends with another of Virgil's granddaughters, Kathy. 

Another of my grandmother's correspondents was Hattie Day Egelston. Until I did this research, I assumed she was a cousin on the Day side, which she is, but she is also a Castle. Her mother was Nancy Anne, George Turner Castle's youngest sister. On her father's side she was related to my great-grandmother, Sarah Florida Day. She is what my grandmother proudly called a "double cousin." She would have been another first cousin on the Castle side; I'm not even going to try to figure what she was on the Day side. She wrote often about her sister Edna, who would also have been my grandmother's double cousin.

Hattie Day Egelston
Edna Day Long and husband

My grandmother was so proud of her Castle ancestry. Her dad had been a county court clerk in Morgan County, a job with prestige, and her grandfather Castle had been postmaster. Nothing was more important to her than family, and her correspondence with her cousins meant so much to her. I believe it did to them, as well. She would be so proud to know that we are still making connections with our Castle cousins.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Linda and Becky's Excellent Adventure, Part 2: The Castles

We got up on Sunday morning with plans to find a popular breakfast buffet in Berea. It was not to be. My car wouldn't start. We called Triple A and waited about an hour for someone to come jump the car. He suggested we drive for a while to build up the battery, so we headed out of town. I can't imagine that the buffet in Berea would have been any better than the brunch buffet we found in Winchester, Kentucky. I think it's the best fried chicken I've ever had. The car started just fine after we rolled our full selves out of the restaurant.

After about an hour and a half through fairly scenic highway, we arrived in West Liberty. Now you have to give me a break here, because I was never the driver when we visited West Liberty before. I was a little lost, and it didn't help that there was a major tornado there in 2012, and a lot of the town doesn't look the same. After wandering around a while, I finally found the road out of town and then the turn on Centerville Road to the cemetery.

Linda was thrilled to see the same sign that thrilled my brother and me--the one that says "Day Branch Road." 

Again, I knew that "our" cemetery was up a hill off of this dead end road. I just couldn't find the right place. I had the right hill in my mind's eye, but there were at least three hills that could have been it. (I wrote about our first attempt to find the cemetery in the post, "My Old Kentucky Home." Our successful second attempt was described in the post, "Genealogy on the Road: West Liberty, Kentucky.") We drove until I knew I had passed the place I was looking for, and I turned around and drove back up the road. At the exact moment that we drove by a house, a man and woman walked out of it and started to get into their car. 

I stopped the car, and Linda leaned out to shout, "Could we ask you a question?" We all got out of our cars and met in the driveway. Linda asked, "Would you happen to know where the Castle cemetery is?" The woman replied, "I think I do. I'm a Castle." In two previous trips to West Liberty, my brother and I had never met a Castle. A lot of people we talked to remembered Virgil Castle, but he had passed away long before. On our first trip we talked to Linville Castle on the phone, but I had heard that he had since passed away. We had no idea that any Castles were still living in West Liberty, and here was one standing in front of us! What were the chances that at the exact moment we passed her mother's house, our cousin Jeneen would be getting into her car??

Becky, Linda Castle Hess, Jeneen Castle Roach

Jeneen and her husband Tommy were helping her mother move that day. We visited for a few minutes, trying to find our family connections. (Our common ancestors, we determined, were Goldman Davidson and Rachel Sargent Castle. My great-grandfather, George Turner Castle, and Jeneen's 2nd great-grandfather, James Harvey Castle, were brothers. Virgil Castle was Jeneen's grandfather.) Tommy took our picture, we exchanged addresses and emails, and then we followed Jeneen and Tommy up the road, so that Jeneen could point out her window at the right road to the cemetery. 

We turned the car up the road, and I thought almost right away that this was the wrong road. It was only the width of the car but still far more accessible than the path to the cemetery that I remembered. Still, we kept driving to the top, where we found an abandoned house. Now I knew it was the wrong road. 

We got out of the car and looked around, just to be sure, surprising a cute little family of deer that seemed almost tame. I was positive we were in the wrong place, so we got back in the car. It wouldn't start. We were down a country road, up a hill where no-one lived, and we were stuck. But we didn't even have time to panic, because a car drove up behind us, honking its horn. It was Jeneen and Tommy to the rescue! She had realized it was the wrong road and had come back to tell us. 

We now had help but still didn't know how we were going to get the car started. We eliminated ideas one by one: no jumper cables; a car couldn't get close enough to jump us anyway; automatic, so we couldn't just put it in neutral and back down; the closest Triple A serviceman was a couple of hours away. Tommy and Jeneen's friend John came up on his four-wheeler, and he had tools. Of course, I couldn't have a battery that was easy to get out, but the guys finally removed it. Our only option was to drive back into West Liberty and buy a new battery, which we did. 

Now this might sound like a bad thing, but having car trouble turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We got to spend a lot more time with Jeneen and talked a lot more about the Castles; we learned things, and so did she. She wasn't even certain who was buried in the little Castle cemetery plot on the hill. Four of the headstones were for her 3rd great-grandparents, Goldman Davidson Castle and Rachel Sargent Castle, and her 2nd great-grandparents, James Harvey Castle and Elizabeth Nickell Castle. She didn't even know about Donia's foot! (See "Genealogy on the Road: West Liberty, Kentucky").

In turn, she pointed out the original home place of her grandparents, Virgil and Net Castle, and her mother's home on original Castle land. 

Eventually we said our good-byes again, and Jeneen pointed us to the right road to the cemetery. "Path" is a better word. We had to park the car on Centerville Road and walk up the hill to look for the headstones. They were not easy to find. Linda and I peered through the little pine forest in several places before we finally saw the stones. Of course, the little family plot was more overgrown than the last time I was there, and Linda spent several minutes cutting thorny vines away from the fallen stones while I cleared moss from Grandma Castle's marker. The shade of the tall trees surrounding the plot made it hard to even take photos of the stones, but we did the best we could.

We finally left West Liberty and started our 12-hour drive home to Oklahoma. We were glad to see this sign on our way out of town. 

Today had definitely been an excellent adventure.

The Castle coincidences don't end there. I came home and looked through a box of my grandmother's things, looking for a map she had drawn of the West Liberty area 75 years after she lived there.  I've known about the map since before the last time my brother and I were there, but I don't know why I keep forgetting to take it with me to Kentucky. I found the map, but I also found a letter to my grandmother from Virgil Castle's wife, Net, dated March 8, 1982. Virgil had been sick, and Net had been doing a lot of the farm work. Then she wrote this: "Aunt Fannie, watch in the next week's paper (The Licking Valley Courier, to which my grandmother subscribed). My granddaughter's picture will be in the paper. She won 2 big trophies for speech making and her picture is in the paper. She is a real smart little girl. She is 12 years old." Guess who she was talking about? Jeneen!