Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Little Detective Work

I didn't make any real resolutions for this year but in my mind I vowed to figure out more of my ancestry. The year is nearly half over and I'm still chipping away at that brick wall.

I'm so glad I have this blog to remind me--to remind me of those silent vows, of promises to keep, of avenues to follow. I was rereading some of my entries and found this from a couple of years back.

"Negro boy, Ben, age 14, sold to John Koonce by Abner Green - Jones Co, North Carolina , January 1814

Negro woman, Betty age 20 from George Mitchell to John Koonce - March 1808, North Carolina

Gorge and Hanah from John Koonce to son Isaac Koonce, Jones Co, NC December 1822

Elijah, age 20, sold to Isaac Koonce in Haywood Co TN (not Transcribed) 1829

Mariah, age 12 – to Isaac Koonce from Alfred Kennedy, Haywood Co, TN - August 1832."

I don't even remember receiving this information let alone writing about it. This was given to me by a relative of Isaac Koonce along with the receipt of the sale of Solomon. It is possible that this holds important clues to Amy, my great-great-great grandmother. Here is how I break it down.

Isaac Koonce came to Haywood County, Tennessee in 1828 with brother-in-law David Augustus Nunn. Along with David's brother John (Jack) Nunn and uncle Francis (Frank) Nunn, they settled into western Tennessee. All of the North Carolina natives came with slaves. Isaac only had a few. Two of them, George and Hannah, were gifts from his father John Koonce.

On the 1830 Haywood census, Isaac claimed six slaves--three males and three females. The three males were between the ages 10 to 23. Two of the females were of those ages with one being younger than 10. Looking at the information given me, I deduce that the two adult slaves were George and Hannah and that the child was probably their daughter. Also, Elijah was one of the male slaves.

On the 1840 census,Isaac Koonce still has 6 slaves, but only two males. One male is under 24 to 10. I thinks this is Solomon who he just bought in 1839. The other male is between 24 and 35. This is either Elijah or George. I speculate that it is George because he was a gift but I know this is just speculation. Something may have happened to one of the men and that is why he bought Solomon. Of the four female slaves, two are under 10, one is between 10 and 24, and one is between 24 and 35. Isaac bought 12-year old Mariah in 1832. Is she the one between 10 and 24? I deduce that the one between 24 and 35 is Hannah. The two under 10 are possibly her daughters.

Jumping to the 1850 census slave schedule, Isaac now owns eight slaves. One was a male, 23 years old. That would be the right age for Solomon. There was also a 38 year old male (George?), a 40 year old female(Hannah?), a 28 year old female(Mariah?), and an 18 year old female. I think that the 18-year old may be the elusive Amy, mother to Solomon’s first set of children. There were also a twelve, a nine and a two year old female slave. If the 18 year old female is Amy, then she could have been one of the slaves under 10 on the 1840 census. I don't think she is the 28 year old female because Amy's oldest daughter was born around 1849. Twenty-eight is kind of old during this time to bear your first child. The 2 year old female is probably Mosella.

On the 1860 slave schedule, Isaac now has twelve slaves. There is now only one male who has to be Solomon at 35 years old. The 48 year old woman is probably Hannah. Here comes the tricky part. There is a 32 yr. old female and a 22 yr. old female who is designated a mulatto, the only one of the slaves that is so. I know that the ages are usually inaccurate and change from census to census. Amy is definitely there. She has born at least two more children--James, my great great grandfather that correlates with one of the nine year old males on the census, and Solomon Jr. who correlates with the 6 year old male. The 12 year old female has to be Mosella. So which one is Amy? Is Mariah still there? Is she the 32 year old? Is Amy the 22 year old? One oral legend says she is part Cherokee. Could she be called mulatto because of this?

I do plan on going to Tennessee this summer. Haywood County is a must see stop now to see if there are any records that corroborate any of my conclusions.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another Mystery

I started using the new and improved Family Search. I am having lots of luck especially when it comes to viewing death certificates. Not 100% luck. More like 85 but that's a whole lot better than nothing.

So I'm trying to pin down the spelling of Susan Buck Brasfield Avery's first husband, my great great grandpa. I look up Uncle Howell's death certificate. He's Susan's son and he died in 1922. And what do I find but two death certificates for him. One says he was born in 1878 and died June 7, 1922. The other says he was born in 1872 (the more correct date) and that he died June 18. The first certificate says he was single and died in Maury City. The other says he was divorced and died in Dyersburg. One is witnessed by my great great great grandpa James Koonce and a Dr. Frost who said he attended him from June 4 to June 7. The other was witnessed by a Miss Davis and a Dr. Baird who attended him on June 18th when he died. On the first certificate his occupation is listed as farming. On the second, he is a laborer.

So now I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what is going on. Was my poor uncle a zombie? I'm kidding but what the heck happened? On the first certificate the doctor signed it on July 8, the date of his burial. That's one whole month after Howell supposedly died. The second certificate has him being buried in June. The exact date is scratched off. The only thing both are consistent about is that he is buried in Maury City. The first certificate lists the cemetery-Nunn which became New Cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried.

I doubt I will ever find out what happened but I will try. And after all that dubious info neither one lists his mother or father. And here I was thinking old uncle Howell may have been gay because he was so good looking and still living with his mom in 1920.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I love genealogy. I love the mysteries and the sleuthing. I love the rush I get when I find even the tiniest of thread in the patchwork which is my family tree. To me, it is an example of critical thinking at its best.

So why don't more people love it? To be specific, why don't more of my relatives love it? The reason I am complaining is because it would make my research yield so much more if there were more of my kinfolk researching.

I use ancestry.com as a base for most of my online research. After you find a record of one of your ancestors, there is a link to all the other people researching that particular person. It is so frustrating for me that whenever I click on that link, it rarely leads to anyone. I have found one person--ONE person--that was also researching a shared ancestor. It felt like I had discovered a new planet. In the other cases where there was another person looking for the same ancestor, I either knew more than they did or their information was incorrect.

Sometimes I send out queries to people whom I have deduced may be related to me. They rarely respond. I think some may suspect my motives but mostly I believe they're indifferent.

Maybe that is why it so exciting to me to find out that I have at least one cousin--Barbara-- that shares my love and thirst for knowledge when it comes to genealogy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Hammer Time

I don't even know what that means but I'm using it to mean time to research at my leisure.

I am taking the summer off once again to do some in depth research into my family. The goal is to go to Tennessee with my cousin Barbara. So I am watching the news with some trepidation. It is horrifying to watch the slow flooding of the area where my ancestors lived and some relatives still live. I am praying for them.

In the meantime, I will continue my armchair research. It's cheaper. I wanted to go to D.C. and look at the records at the archives but it was too pricey for just a couple of days. Instead I will send off for the civil war pension records of a John Alexander and a Sylvester Ames and hope they are my relatives. And I will also travel to Ft. Wayne and look at their records.