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dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, March 6th, 2011 11:31 am
He is descended from David Andrew Williams, and is my cousin by way of David's marriage to my great-great grandmother, Mary C Dunn.

And he has been burning the midnight oil, searching for Mary's kin. He found my blog entry with the photo of Bob Dunn and Mary during our recent record snowfall (when everyone was housebound), and ran with it.

He has some very intriguing thoughts about the possibility that Bob could have been Mary's brother.

And as with Mary, he can't find any parents for Bob either.

Maybe the two of us will, as he said in his very well-written and researched email, "figure it out one day."
dee_burris: (Default)
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 06:50 pm
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Far right: Doris Balding Williams
Far left: Her daughter, Judith Williams Neumann
Standing: Doris' granddaughter
Seated in middle: Doris' great-granddaughter

Photo taken in 1995.
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, February 14th, 2011 06:52 pm
I hauled out my big honking plastic file box tonight to get into my Balding/Chapin/Parrish hard file.

I needed to make sure I had scanned all the prints sent to me by another Parrish researcher and cousin who discovered my family tree on Rootsweb in 2009.

I had, and they will be in the next post.

But while I was in it, I found a document of dates of death for Baldings/Chapins/Parrishes written by my grandmother, Doris Balding Williams, probably shortly after the death of her brother, Gene, in 1980. She may have been transcribing her own mother's entries in her Bible.

Typewritten.

That was unusual for her. Pretty much everything I've seen written by Grandma was in her careful (and always legible) longhand.

What was not unusual was the editorial comment she made in her list of family members and dates of their deaths.

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Now, she had to know someone would find this.

And keep it.

And look at it, and laugh out loud...

See you on the other side, Grandma...
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, February 13th, 2011 09:18 pm
They called her Maggie.


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She was the next younger sister of Minnie Williams, and lived with her sister and brother-in-law until her marriage to James Webster Wells on 2 Jan 1885, at "the house of J H Shinn" in Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

She and James had five children I have documented.

Maggie Williams Wells died on 19 Jul 1922 in Benton Co., AR. She is buried next to her husband in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.
dee_burris: (Default)
Monday, January 24th, 2011 07:53 pm
One of my co-workers, whose family tree I am currently researching, asked me today how much my "hobby" costs me on an annual basis.

I hadn't really thought about it. So I ticked off the subscription services...

Thirty bucks a month for Ancestry (I have the international membership, so I can track my German ancestors, my son's Canadian ancestors, and now, my co-worker's Serbian ancestors - and I pay monthly just in case I need to stop...).

Eighty bucks a year for Footnote.

Fifty-six bucks a year for Genealogy Bank.

So, what? Five hundred dollars a year for subscription services.

Throw in the cemetery transcription books now and then, usually between twenty and fifty dollars a piece. But you only buy them once, and then you list yourself on Books We Own and do look-ups for other folks.

Add in some gasoline for the inevitable road trips. The cost of CDs on which I burn all sorts of stuff to send to cousins, known and just discovered.

What if all of that came up to $1,000 a year?

You gotta look at the pay-off...


I was "discovered" by three new cousins last week.

One I've already blogged about, here.

Another has been emailing me about her Gotts. Her Gotts (female) married into my Williamses (male) back in 1774 in Maryland. Then my Williamses went to Kentucky and the rest of her Gotts trekked on over to Tennessee.

I found some of her Tennessee Gotts for her on Find a Grave - she had never heard of it.

And I told her I had subscriptions where I could do some searching for her.

While I was searching tonight for any of her Tennessee Gotts who might have served in the Civil War, I found something on Footnote I have never seen before.

An amnesty document. Apparently, her direct ancestral Gotts were "all loyal to the Government of the United States, and have been so during the late rebellion..."

And their signatures are on the document.

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I may never find one of those again. My own Southern direct ancestral families were often divided in their loyalties during that "rebellion," and brother sometimes fought against brother.

And I would never have gone looking for it, much less found it, if she hadn't emailed me one day last week, and said, hey, I think we may be related...


My newly-found Chapin cousin sent me an email this past weekend that had eleventy million exclamation points in the subject line, so I knew the attachment was gonna be a good one.

And it was...three pages of genealogical treasure, handwritten by his grandfather, who was born in 1891. As a result of that, we have busted down a brick wall on the woman who is my cousin's second great grandmother, and my third.

How do you put a price on that?


Hobby? I guess you could call it that...

Obsession? Most likely.

What about a calling?

I don't really care what anyone labels it.

They *all* have stories.

And I am a storyteller.
dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, January 16th, 2011 01:49 pm
Can't reconcile these.

One has to be a cenotaph.

Josiah Hazen Shinn is buried beside his wife, Mildred Carleton Williams Shinn, in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR.

Isn't he?

I mean, I photographed their graves. Personally.

It wasn't an hallucination.

I can prove it.

The stone for the family plot...
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Josiah's marker, at the foot of his grave...
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Minnie's marker, at the foot of her grave...
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So what is this?

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It looks like a gravestone for Josiah Hazen Shinn to me.

In another cemetery.

A devoted husband and loving father. He has entered into the fullness of life. He lived a peaceful, constructive and an honorable life and such a life smiles at death. He lived no inglorious life and came to a peaceful and glorious death. He was the bough broken under the load of ripened fruit and such as he have passed into God's acre, the christian's home.

And the earth is mounded up behind the stone. There's a footstone there. Like a fairly recent grave.

Next to a retaining wall very similar to the one that surrounds the (former) Williams family plot in Oakland Cemetery, Russellville, AR. Where Katharine Leah Williams is buried. She was Minnie's niece.

And who is that little girl bearing flowers...
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, January 15th, 2011 07:58 am
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My great grandfather, Jo Desha Williams, owned the Williams Grocer Co. in Russellville for about 20 years.

By 1920, the family store had been sold, and Jo moved his family to Little Rock, where they remained until his death in 1950 and the death of his wife, Maxie Leah Meek in 1955.
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 12:58 pm
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I have no earthly idea who those guys were. It's another unlabeled photo courtesy of my great grandmother Maxie Williams.

I'll have to study photos of cars to date it, I guess. Obviously before great granddaddy went out of business.

Family stories for the reason about the demise of the family business in Russellville abound - many suggest he extended credit to too many folks.

I have to wonder if the 1906 fire had anything to do with it. He was way underinsured.
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 11:36 am
She is on my maternal side of the family.

I never knew her, as she died in 1932 - two and a half decades before I was born.

Mildred Carlton Williams was the daughter of Jacob Williams and Catharine C Mueller. (It was Catharine's family about whom I wrote on a Mystery Monday recently.)

She was a middle child, if that's what you call the fourth of eight kids.

Born on 30 Jul 1856 in Franklin Co., KY, she was the oldest daughter. Maybe that's why she "handled" so many family issues, beginning with her mother's death in 1876 in Kentucky.

That happens to oldest daughters. From what I know of Minnie (that's what they called her), she met all of her considerable challenges, and soldiered on...


Minnie was a bride of just over one year when her mother, Catharine (Mueller) Williams, died.

She had married Josiah Hazen Shinn on 7 Jan 1875, and had just marked her first wedding anniversary at the time of her mother's death on 14 Jan 1876. She was a new mother herself, having given birth to her first child four months earlier.

One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was that Minnie might have traded her light colored clothing in favor of mourning. There is a photo of Minnie with her husband and son, Roy, that was taken after 23 Oct 1885.

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In that photo, Minnie appears to be wearing mourning colors.

As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure of it. Grace Electra Shinn, Josiah and Minnie's firstborn, is not in the photo.

That's because Grace died on 23 Oct 1885, in Russellville, Pope Co., AR, of malarial fever. At that time of year, mosquito season should have been over in that part of the state. Had Grace had malaria since summer?

I just can't imagine having to watch my child die.
Josiah and Minnie only had two biological children of whom I am aware.

But they raised a whole bunch more.

When Minnie's mother died, the newlywed couple took four of Minnie's siblings into their home. They were responsible for five children, aged from birth to 14.

The 1880 census shows the family living in Bridgeport, Franklin Co., KY. The household now included Minnie and Josiah's newborn son, Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn. (By 1882, the whole clan had relocated to Pope Co., AR.)

The same census shows Minnie's father, Jacob Williams, living with his brother, Urban Valentine Williams, who was a phyisican in Bridgeport. In addition to providing for his brother, Dr. Williams' sister, Millie was living with them. (Millie Williams never married. She is buried in the family plot in Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky.)

I wondered about Jacob. Why had his children gone to live with his oldest daughter when his wife died?

Jacob Williams was only 54 years old when he became a widower. He was a blacksmith in Franklin County who fought in the Civil War.

Maybe he was ill. Perhaps blacksmithing wasn't fetching the income it previously had.

Or maybe he just couldn't raise the children after Catharine died.


I guess you could say Minnie's husband, Josiah Hazen Shinn, was a minor local celebrity of sorts.

A Google search on him brings up all sorts of results.

From The History of the Shinn Family, written by Josiah and published in 1903, this sketch, which presumably would be a self-portait of sorts (pages 252-254):

Josiah Hazen Shinn, eldest child of Josiah Carlock and Elizabeth Frances (Gilpin) Shinn, was born at Russellville, Ark., 3/29/1849; learned to read at his father's knee in his third year; to Louisville, Ky., in 1854; entered school there in his sixth year, being placed in the third grade; to Cincinnati in 1859; passed through the intermediate and high school grades of the schools of that city; graduated at the Ohio Normal School in 1869; admitted to the bar at Cincinnati 1872, but never practiced; he was examined for admission by Stanley Matthews, afterwards Associate Justice of the U. S. at Washington; Judge Hoadley, T. D. Lincoln and Henry Snow; taught school for eighteen years in Ohio, Kentucky and Arkansas; married, 1/7/1875, at Bridgeport, Franklin County, Ky., Mildred Carlton, daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Mueller) Williams.

Mr. Shinn moved to Arkansas in 1882; institute instructor for five years under W. E. Thompson; State Superintendent; President State Teachers' Association 1887; Chief Clerk in office of Secretary of State under Elias B. Moore and Ben. B. Chism 1885-1890; State Superintendent of Public Instruction 1890-1894; received the highest vote cast for any man on the state ticket; established the first State Normal Schools in Arkansas while in this office; organized the Southern Educational Association at Moorehead City, N. C., in 1891, and was elected its first President; re-elected at Chattanooga, Tenn, in 1892; Vice-President National Educational Association 1892; placed specially by the Legislature of Arkansas in charge of the Arkansas Educational Exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition 1893; appointed Judge in the Liberal Arts Department of the World's Fair by the U. S. Commission 1893; to the Russian Empire in 1894-1895, where he was presented to Emperer Nicholas I, at the Anitchkoff Palace.

Writer for the Little Rock Gazette and Democrat; editor and publisher for ten years of the Arkansas Teacher and Southern School Journal"; established the first Chautauquas in Arkansas at Springdale, Mammoth Spring and Fort Smith in 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901; lecturer 1896 and 1897 in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri; President of Springdale College 1898-1901; was appointed to the Accounts Division, Indian Office, Department of Interior, Washington, D. C., 1901; to the Indian Warehouse, Chicago, Ill., 1902.

Mr. Shinn has published the following books and pamphlets: "The Public School and the College, 1891; "The South in Public Education," 1891; Vassar College, Pamphlet, 1891; "Illustrated Arkansas," 1892; "History of the American People," 1893; "History of Education in Arkansas," published by the U. S. Government, 1899; "Russia at the World's Fair," in English and Russian, 1894, This was republished by Russian governmental officials. "History of Arkansas," for schools, 1895; "Primary History of the United States," 1899; "History of the Russian Empire," for Libraries, in preparation. Registrar of the S. A. R. for Arkansas, 1892-3-4. Member of the American Institute, 1894; Honorary Member of the Pennsylvania and West Virginia Historical Societies, 1894; Member of the Imperial Russian Geographical and Historical Societies, 1894; Member of the Christian Church, a good speaker and a Democrat.

Minnie also got her due in the book, on page 254, at the end of the entry about Josiah. I was glad to see that, and it suggested to me that Josiah looked at her as a true partner.

Mildred Carlton Shinn, also a member of the Christian Church, was prominent in Church and social circles in Little Rock, and other parts of Arkansas; is a woman of strong convictions, and her influence has always been given to the suppression of liquor selling and other forms of vice; progressive in religious matters, she always favored advanced methods for the propagation of the Gospel at home and abroad; a member of the C. W. B. M. of her own church, and of the W. C. T. U. wherever she has resided; of the Society for the Rescue of Fallen Women at Little Rock; of the Co-Operative Club for the betterment of all classes, in which she took an active interest in Social Science and Economics. At the death of her mother, in 1876, she undertook to rear four of her brothers and sisters; Margaret Williams, now the wife of James W. Wells, Bentonville, Ark; Mattie Williams, for eight years clerk in the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Little Rock, Ark., and still so employed; Jo Desha Williams, now a successful merchant at Russellville, Ark., and Julian Otis Williams, now and for ten years past a compositor on the Little Rock Gazette and Democrat, Little Rock, Ark.

Through all this labor she found time for every good work of the neighborhood and exerted a good influence over the moral and intellectual status of every place in which she lived. Her own house was always in order, and she always found time to aid every good work with her preserce, her means and her whole soul. Two busier people have rarely ever been united as happily as these, and their silver wedding, 1/7/1900, was a milestone in their lives which showed them the appreciation others had for them. Four hundred silver presents from all parts of the United States made the event one never to be forgotten.

I'd like to have known the woman described in Josiah's book. I wondered if her effort to suppress "liquor selling" ever took her to a saloon? There were plenty of watering holes and stills in Arkansas.

But I've never found an old news article suggesting that she teamed up with Carrie Nation, so maybe she found other ways to express her "stong convictions."

Guess I'll find out on the other side...
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 07:38 pm
My maternal grandfather...





Jo Duffie Williams, age 6 months
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, December 25th, 2010 10:23 pm
Southern Standard, 18 Apr 1929
A Beloved woman of De Gray Dies.
Mrs. Mary C. Williams, one of the oldest and most beloved citizens of DeGray departed this life at the home of her only daughter, Mrs. Julia Herrington, on Tuesday, April 9th. She was 80 years, three months and 3 days old at the time of her death. She had been a member of the Baptist church at DeGray 62 years. She lived a Christian life. She was the mother of three children, Julia Ann Callaway, Ned Williams and Willie Williams. She was a kind and loving mother and dutiful wife. Mrs. Williams was married to A. M. Callaway in 1866 and in 1878 she was married to D. A. Williams. She has gone but not forgotten. She has been blind for the past seven years and hasn't been out of the house in two years.


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DeGray Baptist Church Cemetery, Clark Co., AR
dee_burris: (Default)
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 11:23 am
No matter how "busy" I get with other lines of descent in the family tree, I always come back to her.

Even some of her historic "facts" are open to debate, as far as I am concerned. I made myself a little chronology of what I know about Mary.

Date of Birth: 5 Jan 1849
Source information for this date includes her death certificate, census records, obituary, gravestone, and family lore

Place of Birth: Georgia
Source information for this location includes census records, her death certificate and family lore

Parents: Unknown
I cannot find a single document that gives the identity of Mary's parents. For almost two months, I chased little girls named Mary Dunn across the United States of America, and never found her. However, I can tell you the parentage and location of just about every other Mary Dunn my g-g-grandmother's age.

And there's a story there - something that was a closely guarded secret. Since she was underage to contract for marriage, Mary's first marriage record had this to say about her parents:

...Mary C Dunn aged 17 years...her having no father and the consent of her mother made her home with another family in their presents (sic) was the sight (sic) for porfomace (sic)...

Her death certificate, for which her son Rubin Ned was the informant, was equally tantilizing for its seemingly deliberate omission of her parents' identities. On it, Ned said Mary's father's name was Mr. Dunn. He did not know what her mother's name was.

I don't believe that.

Religion: Baptist, member of Bethel Union (later DeGray) Baptist Church, DeGray, Clark County, AR
Source information for this includes Conference Meeting minutes of Bethel Union Baptist Church, DeGray, Clark County, AR and her obituary.

Date of Marriage: 8 Sep 1866 to Allen Mason Lowery Callaway, in Clark County, AR
Source information for this marriage includes the marriage bond and license, and her obituary

Date of Marriage: 13 Jul 1878 to David Andrew Williams, in Clark County, AR
Source information for this marriage includes the marriage bond and license, and her obituary

Children: Marriage 1: Julia Ann Callaway, born 19 Jun 1873, in Clark County, AR
Marriage 2: Rubin Ned Williams, born 14 Nov 1881, in Clark County, AR; and
William Andrew Williams, born 13 Nov 1882 in Clark County, AR
Source information for children includes census records, Mary's obituary, her children's obituaries, and family lore

Date of Death: 9 Apr 1929 in DeGray, Clark Co., AR
Source information for this date includes her death certificate, obituary, gravestone and family lore

Cause of Death: Noxemia, i.e., insufficient oxygen in the blood
Source information derived from her death certificate

Burial: DeGray Baptist Church Cemetery, DeGray, Clark County, AR
Source information for this location includes her death certificate and gravestone.

Family lore about Mary is about as sketchy as historic documents. There's a photo of Mary and a man I have been told was Bob Dunn, who came to see her from Texas. I don't know if the photo was taken while she was married to Mace Callaway or David Williams. She certainly doesn't look as old as she was in another undated photo of her with her daughter and adult grandson.

And Dunn - aha! A family member?

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Brother, cousin, father? I chased Robert/Bob Dunns around the country in census records. I have no idea which, if any, is him in the sub-folders I have on Robert Dunn. I can't put the two together in any context, even though I feel sure he was related to her. He just doesn't look old enough (to me) to be her father.

My paternal grandmother, who was Mary's granddaughter, always told me and other members of the family that Mary was her "Indian grandmother." Several in our family did not believe that.

A few months ago, we laid that one to rest when one of my aunts took a mtDNA test. Grandma was right. If, as my father and I suspect, Mary was illegitimate and a man named Dunn was her father, then she may have been half native.

And if she was born in Georgia, it doesn't necessarily mean she was Cherokee. There were a multitude of native tribes whose homeland was Georgia.

So I stand, once more, in front of her photo, and ask her to give me a sign.
dee_burris: (Default)
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 06:10 pm
It was a friend of my son's, looking over my shoulder one afternoon, who asked the questions.

Why were there so many sections to the old marriage licenses? And what was a marriage bond? Did people really have to post a cash bond to get married back then?

I used my 2X great grandmother's second as an example.


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There were four parts to a marriage record in 1878 in Arkansas - the bond, the license, the certificate of marriage, and the certificate of record.

The bond required a principal and his security - the principal's back-up if he had to pay the $100 and couldn't. ($100 in 1878 had the same buying power as $2190.75 does today.)

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The bond was required in the event it was later found that one or both parties could not legally contract for marriage. It was a penal bond, essentially a punishment for lying.

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If, for example, one or the other parties was underage, was married to someone else, or had been coerced, the marriage could be set aside.

And someone had to pay the piper, as it were...
dee_burris: (Default)
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 07:36 pm
As I have researched the people in my family tree, my heart has gone out to quite a few of them. But probably none more so than David Andrew Williams.

I am not even related to him by blood. He was the second (and final) husband of my g-g-grandmother, Mary C Dunn.

I'm not going to pretend David was an angel. There's a fair amount of evidence that he wasn't.

But whether you call it fate, destiny, karma, or just plain bad luck, it seems to me that the deck was stacked against him. I have to wonder how much of it came from Momma, since my impression of her (*not* confirmed by anyone or any document) was that she was an iron willed woman who ran roughshod over anyone she could, and wrote her own version of family history to suit her own sense of self-righteous importance.

David was born in Hardin County, TN to Wright Williams and Lucinda H Clem on 28 Sep 1845. He was the middle kid of three, having an older brother, William H, and younger sister, Lucinda, who was born on 24 Apr 1847.

His dad died in 1847 - I don't know whether it was before or after Lucinda Jr was born. But Lucinda Sr did not remain a widow for long.

In 1848, she hitched her wagon to Lorenzo Hitchcock, a self-made man and a widower 23 years her senior. By 1860, they moved to Clark County, AR from Hardin County, TN., and Lorenzo continued his trade of metal work, employing his wife's oldest son in his shop. Several of Lucinda's family members, including her parents and younger brother, James Mason Clem, lived in nearby Hot Spring County.

By 1870, the clan moved to Arkadelphia, the largest town in and county seat of Clark County. Additionally, provision was made for Lucinda's sons to also have homes, conveniently located next door to Momma and step-dad, as both William and David were married.

It was not David Andrew Williams' first marriage.


On 24 Apr 1865, tragedy struck Lucinda Hitchcock's extended family, as it had so many other families of the era. Her brother, James Mason Clem, died of disease at the end of his Civil War service in Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR. He left a widow, Delilah (Gibbs) Clem, and at least four minor children. (James and Delilah had eight children together before his death.)

Obviously, Lucinda's widowed sister-in-law needed some help. Now who would be a suitable husband for her?

Enter David Andrew Williams.

In 1867, 22 year-old David Andrew Williams married his maternal aunt, 42 year-old Delilah (Gibbs) Clem, and became an instant father to his cousins, the oldest of whom was two years younger than he was.

I am not customarily a person who gets squicky about the family tree stuff. I blithely enter all those marriages of cousins, usually muttering under my breath the reminder that in those days, statistics showed people rarely married people farther than a five mile radius from home, and that was likely to be kin.

But this one just had ick written all over it for me.

And it may well have for David, too. He and Aunt Delilah were married long enough for her to bear him a son, William Wright Clem Williams, born 16 Dec 1867 in Hot Spring County, AR.

She sued him for divorce in Hot Spring County Court, which was granted 11 Mar 1869, on the grounds of "violence and drunkenness." Delilah had custody of their son.

I don't know about violence, but I think I mighta gotten drunk, too.

Why do I see Momma's hand in this, from the marriage all the way to the name of the grandchild?


Violence and drunkenness aside, it was a really fast courtship for David and wife #2, Martha L Dunn. She and David married on 27 Jun 1869 in Clark County, and by the June 1870 census, they had a one year-old daughter, Marietta Williams.

That was a weird census to puzzle through. Aside from David and his brother William living in the two houses next to their mother, the census showed David and William living together, and their wives, Martha and Sallie, living next to them with Marietta.

I finally got some help from one of David's direct descendants.

Martha Williams had consumption. She may have been quarantined in one of the houses, with Sallie Williams going back and forth.

Martha Dunn Williams died on 2 Nov 1876 of tuberculosis. Marietta either escaped the illness, or was treated successfully.

In any event, David Andrew Williams was now a widower with a six year-old daughter.


I don't know how David met my g-g-grandmother. All the records show that they lived in two different townships, and had two completely different lifestyles.

Mary Callaway was Baptist, David's family was Methodist. Mary was country - David was a city boy. (In the 1870 census, he did say he was a farmer, which was another oddity...I cannot figure out where in Arkadelphia *town* he was doing any farming.)

They did have one thing in common. Each of them had been widowed - David in 1876, and Mary in 1877 - and each had a young daughter.

They married on 13 Jul 1878 in Clark County. The 1880 census shows them living in Greenville Township in Clark County, and David is a famer. Both their daughters, Marietta Williams and Julia Ann Callaway, are listed in the household, as well as a 17 year-old farmhand named Cicero Smith.

They added two sons to their family - Ruben Ned Williams, born 14 Nov 1881, and William Andrew Williams, born 13 Nov 1882.

It looked like things were turning around for David Andrew Williams.


In 1884, David was slowly struck with some sort of creeping paralysis. According to his obituary, it began in his hands.

Reading the obit, it sounds to me like polio. But apparently, no one else got it. Maybe ALS?

Here is the obituary, published in the Southern Standard on 10 Feb 1888.

Williams, David Andrew, was born in Hardin Co. Tenn. Sept 28,1845. He was married to Mary C. Callaway July 13, 1878. His affliction was paralysis. In 1884 it began in his hands and gradually diffused itself through his whole system. His long affliction and the peculiarity of his case might have been much profit to the medical fraternity had it watched the stages of his disease. His affliction was four years and five months standing. His flesh all virtually perished away. The last two years of his illness he was entirely helpless. In the year 1855 he professed religion and joined the Methodist Church, and died in peace January 23, 1888 aged 43 years, 4 months and 15 days. He was the son of Mrs. Lucinda Hitchcock.

Okay, say I am perseverating, but I see Momma in this one, too.

Where is any mention of his kids? Or his step-daughter, who lived in the home until her marriage in 1891?

He had *four* kids, all living at the time of his death.

His wife gets a mention, but his mother wraps it up.

And...his mother carted his earthly remains over two townships to bury him in the Methodist cemetery, rather than lay him to rest 1/2 mile down the road from his home, where his widow and one of his sons, along with grandchildren, later would be buried.

In those days, traveling that distance for a burial wasn't easy.


My g-g-grandmother was 39 and a widow for the second time. She died 41 years later, still the widow of David Andrew Williams.

Maybe she didn't want to risk becoming a widow again.

Or maybe, she didn't want to risk another mother-in-law from hell...


Looking forward to meeting you on the other side, David.
dee_burris: (Default)
Saturday, December 4th, 2010 07:30 pm
When my mother died a few years ago, I inherited a multiple leaf dining table from her. It had been my grandma's table and had been in her dining room as long as I could remember.

Grandma and I had a shared love of plants and gardening. When she died, my mother, my sisters and I, and our cousins gathered at her house to divide up the things that had not already been promised to a specific person. I asked for, and was gladly given, her gardening hand tools. Everyone else looked at me like I had lost what was left of my mind - after all, there were Oriental rugs, solid silver flatware, gold rimmed china, and solid wood pieces of furniture, ornately carved, still up for grabs. Why would I pick a bunch of hand trowels, shears and those weird looking wire hands when I could choose my share of that other stuff? (The wire hands are just neater than snuff - they have a crook at the end of each of them for hanging on your clothesline after you've stretched your wet gloves to dry over their wire fingers.)

My mother took the table, and for several years afterward, she dropped both end leaves, stored the two center leaves, and used the table as a sort of telephone desk in a corner of her dining room. She already had a large table with matching chairs in there.

And now I have the table. In Grandma's house, I remember it always being covered with a tablecloth, and candlebra in the middle of it. Around here, that would last as long as it took for me to leave the room. Four cats would make hash of that. So at my house, the table sits nude in the kitchen, with the end leaves dropped and the center leaves in.

At Grandma's house, you knew you had "arrived," and had stepped over the threshold from child to young adult when you were allowed to eat your meal at the table in the dining room, instead of the kids' table in the kitchen.

I was talking the other night with a woman who knew my mother and was friends with her since they both had been in their early teens. I asked her if she remembered the table. She did.

She said one of the first times she recalled eating at the table was at my mother's 14th birthday dinner in 1951. She was pretty sure Grandma had gotten the table for her brand new dining room in her brand new home in 1949.

Over the years, it has acquired some scars. Some are deeper than others, and I can feel them through the soft cloth I use to apply lemon oil to it every couple of weeks. Grandma probably would wince slightly at some of them, but I think overall, she knew that the journey through life brings with it the scars of experience.

Here in my own kitchen, I sit at the table and contemplate the journey as I suspect my grandmother also did on occasion. There is a feeling of groundedness in that old wood that provides a sense of connection, not only with Grandma, but with an ancient life force and spirit that imparts wisdom along the way.
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Saturday, December 4th, 2010 08:50 am
What a pleasant surprise to wake and find that Jenny had given my blog the Ancestor Approved award.

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Thank you, Jenny.

The award comes with a couple of requests:
1. List ten things that you have learned about your ancestors that surprised, humbled, or enlightened you.
2. Pass the award to ten other genealogy bloggers.

What I've learned:
1. My Burrises did not move from Arkansas county to county in the 1840s and 1850s, as I thought they did - the county lines moved. Lesson: the rotating census maps are my friend.
2. One of my paternal great-great grandfathers had a second family about a half mile down the road from the family compound in Pope County, AR.
3. Corollary to #2 - you almost never have the whole story with the "official" family oral history. Be open to those contacts and questions from other people seeking their roots.
4. My Callaways are *not* descendants of Daniel Boone. Not.
5. The story about great Grandma Maxie (Meek) Williams beating the Yankee solider over the head with a buggy whip as she was taking the cotton to market is not true. Grandma Maxie wasn't even a gleam in her daddy's eye during the Civil War, and she didn't grow up on a cotton farm, or marry into one. And my cotton growing ancestors did not take the cotton to market in buggies - they didn't even own buggies as far as I can tell.
6. The probable cause of Cedric Hazen Williams' reputation as a misfit and ne'er-do-well was most likely due to a brain injury he suffered as an 11 year old boy, when a wagon rolled over his head.
7. My branch of the Chapins, although descended from Deacon Samuel Chapin, did not remain in Massachusetts, and were not wealthy all their lives. They were, however, highly skilled wood workers who made fine cabinetry.
8. Great-great Grandma Mary (Dunn) Callaway Williams was Indian, as we had been told by my grandmother. DNA testing recently sought by one of my aunts has confirmed that. We do not know what tribe Mary's mother came from.
9. The Burrises did not own slaves, as I would have expected. The Callaways did, and increased the number of slaves they owned when Jonathan Owsley Callaway married Emily Hemphill, whose father, John brought many slaves with him to Clark Co., AR from South Carolina about 1818.
10. The innate curiosity of "reporting" runs in my family, and comes to me from my Baldings.

I'd like to present the Ancestor Approved award to these bloggers:
My Ancestors and Me
Nolichucky Roots
Our Georgia Roots
Little Bytes of Life
The Turning of Generations
Slowly Bring Driven Mad by the Ancestors
AncesTree Sprite
Hanging from the Family Tree
Tangled Trees
From Little Acorns
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Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 10:14 pm
Born on 9 Jul 1907, in Pulaski County, AR to Victor Claude and Hattie Belle (Chapin) Balding, the third of seven children, she lived in Little Rock all her life. She died here on 18 Jan 1998, and refused to go until her last grandchild arrived by plane from New York.

She was my maternal grandmother.


Grandma Dee, we called her.

She loved making things with her hands. She began to sew as a young girl, and added gardening to her crafting. She had a green thumb that just didn't quit, although as she aged and hired a gardener to do the heavy lifting, she had to content herself with following him around, and in later years, sitting on the terrace or a chair in the front driveway, giving instruction in the way only she could.


Grandma married Jo Duffie Williams on Halloween in 1926. They eloped.

That's why it was so funny to find this among her papers after her death. It's the *official* Marriage Service of the Presbyterian Church.

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Look closely. They eloped.

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That's why Rev Hay Watson Smith penned the word not into the text...were not united by me in the bonds of marriage...

I had to laugh.

That juxtaposition of what you were supposed to do as opposed to what you wanted to do was so like her, and made her so unique.


Grandma was a young bride during the Great Depression. Those years shaped her financial world view for the rest of her life. She was an economist in every sense of the word. But when she cut loose with some money, she bought quality.

She and my grandfather lived in a small rental home not far from her parents while they saved money to build their home in central Little Rock. They moved into it in 1949, when my mother, their youngest child, was 12.

They built it for cash. It never had a mortgage on it as long as my grandmother lived there. When my grandfather died, he left her financially secure, and she enlisted the help of her banker to stay that way.

When I was grown, and moved back to Arkansas, I'd go to see her.

Arkansas summers can be brutal. Grandma would rise in the morning, get her bath and dress and go downstairs where she stayed for the rest of the day, with the windows open. She rarely ran the air conditioning until the summer drought crashed into the brutal and unrelenting heat of August. She kept the windows open and fans going.

I teased her about that - she could well afford to run her AC. "How do you think," she would ask me indignantly, "that we made it through the Great Depression?"

She said the same thing about the paper towels. I'd go into the kitchen and see a paper towel spread out to dry on the counter next to the sink. When I reminded her paper towels were about 79 cents a roll, she'd roll her eyes and tell me there was nothing wrong with that one, she had dried her hands on it. It wasn't soiled, it was damp.

It was perfectly suitable for continued use.


Grandma had more than her fair share of health problems all her life. She had tuberculosis when my mother was about 4 years old, and spent time in the TB sanitorium at Booneville in Logan County. Once she told me the smell of cooked cabbage reminded her of Booneville for the rest of her life.

Later, she had a thyroidectomy. As was the custom in the 1950s and 60s, she had a complete hysterectomy.

It wasn't until after my grandfather died in 1970 that she began to have heart problems. Before she died, she had two major heart surgeries - by-passes each time.

Those took a lot out of her, but I never heard her complain about them, or the radical mastectomies she had exactly one year apart when she was in her 70s.

She even managed to joke about that. She called herself the titless wonder.


One Saturday morning, I was putzing around the cottage when she called.

Are you doing anything special today?

Not particularly, why? Do you need me to take you somewhere?

Well, yes. I'd like to go to Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions.

Now, I was intrigued. What did my 87 year-old grandmother need from a lingerie shop?

Titties.

She explained.

Her breast prostheses were heavy and hot. But more than that, these are 20 year old titties, they are too perky, and they look ridiculous on an 80 year old body. I need something with some sag in it.

The socks she had been rolling up to put in her bra when she went out in public weren't cutting it, and the Barbara Graves saleswoman said she could fix her right up.

So off we went. After we purchased her new titties, we went to her favorite place for lunch.

Wendy's. She always had the same thing, with a Frosty for dessert.

And then surreptiously raked all the unused condiment packets off the table into her purse before we left.

How do you think we made it through the Great Depression?


After she died, my sisters, cousins and I gathered at her home to divide the household furnishings and personal contents not covered by her will, and pack the house up for sale.

We divided up the rooms and got to work.

I had her bedroom, one of three on the second floor. We had devised a loose system of organization, and it was working well for me until I opened the bottom drawer of one of her bureaus.

Stacked neatly inside were probably at least a dozen Russell Stover candy boxes. At first, I thought they were probably empties she couldn't bear to part with (remember the Great Depression...), but when I picked a couple of them up, they were heavy.

Holy shit, I thought...how much chocolate could one old woman eat? I took the top off.

And discovered her music cassette tapes. Each box contained a different genre of music.

All these years, we had wracked our brains on her birthday and Christmas, trying to figure out what to get the woman who had everything.

And she was storing her music tapes in Russell Stover candy boxes.


One category of "things" that started stacking up real fast in those three days was papers. All kinds of papers. We designated a place in the den to locate those. Stuff like battered shoeboxes and dog-eared, coffee stained manila envelopes full of papers, some handwritten and some typed on what you can tell was one of the original manual typewriters. Loose photos, wedding invitations, baptismal announcements, and obituaries and funeral notices. Newspaper articles, touting the feats and accomplishments of various ones of my forebears. None with the name of the newspaper or the date, though - we were not so famous as to rate headlines where that information might have survived the shears.

Other than for historic purposes, we collectively did not figure anyone would have interest in the warranty and operating instructions for the first electric percolator Papa bought for Grandma, and which had long since bit the dust.

It was easy to cull through all that - but not quick. At times, there'd be four or five of us, sitting cross legged on the floor in the den, looking through all that and we would find ourselves reading those instructions - out loud, to each other.

And at the end, we consolidated quite a bit of it.

I don't remember who first asked, "So what are we going to do with this stuff?"

All heads swiveled in my direction.

I adopted my best rendition of the left-eyebrow-arched-oh-no-you-don't look, and said, "I don't think so."

The cottage has the least amount of space of any of our dwellings. And I am not the oldest grandchild, I am third. Why me?

The out of state cousins immediately began to talk about shipping costs. They had all flown in for the funeral and the week after, and had no way to wag packing boxes back with them on the plane(s) - at least not without considerable expense.

Everyone turned and looked at me.

So I got all of that - and the family photo album and dictionary.

Yeah, a family dictionary. (We couldn't find a family Bible, but it didn't tear any of us up.) But we had a family dictionary - a Webster's unabridged with a ribbon marker from decades ago that sat on a little lectern in the den. Papa kept it there along with a little magnifying glass. A kid had to stand on a stool so Papa could show her the dictionary.

And there was a lot of family information in all those papers.

And so began my journey into my family's past.

I believe Grandma would approve.


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Doris B Williams in her garden, 1972


See you on the other side, Grandma.
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Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 05:20 pm
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Doris (Balding) Williams, 1907-1998 and her sister, Vera (Balding)King, 1910-1999
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Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 05:16 pm
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Left to right: Hattie (Chapin) Balding, Jo Carleton "Buddy" Williams, Sue (Keene) Williams, Russell Ellington "Linky" Balding, Judith Ann (Williams) Burris Neumann, Jo Duffie Williams, Lucille Balding.

Sadly, only one of those folks is still alive.