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 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.


  1. It is to bad you don't want to hear from your cousins or are to busy. I've tried several times. I'm Victor Preston Castle My grandfather was Henry Preston Castle son of James Castle, which you have his first name as Preston. Ida castle Elam is my aunt.
    I was down in West Liberty when the old home place was still standing and Virgil told me how to get there and were the Castle cemetery was up the hill behind it. Me and my wife cleared off the stones and set other up so we could take pictures of them and get the dates off of them.
    Hopefully to get better dates.
    cousin Virgil was the only one I new to contact since my dad had passed away. All of his sibling were born in Morgan Twp West or South West of West Liberty.
    Victor P Castle
    217 967 5936 or email

  2. PS: Aunt Ida was still living I think and so was her daughter Dolly,whom could have given me names. Then Virgil was the one taking care of the cemetery up till he fell down from the barn loft which left him in not to good of shape.
    He and Nettie were such great hosts. He and my dad were about the same age and told me a lot about my grandfather Henry Preston Castle and how every one liked him,unlike some of his brothers.

  3. Irene was my great Aunt. Catherine was my grandmother. She is in the back row on the left. I am so excited to read your blog.

  4. Also Lola Catherine's great granddaughter is a teacher. Macey is our youngest and is a Special Education teacher outside of Atlanta in Newton county.