Getting to Sierra Blanca

Take Interstate 10 southeast from El Paso to get to Sierra Blanca, the town where our mother was born and where she spent the first ten years of her life. It’s pretty much a straight-shot at a high speed, a legal 80 mph for a good stretch! (1) Unc…

Take Interstate 10 southeast from El Paso to get to Sierra Blanca, the town where our mother was born and where she spent the first ten years of her life.   It’s pretty much a straight-shot at a high speed, a legal 80 mph for a good stretch!  (1) Continue reading “Getting to Sierra Blanca”

Before El Paso, there was Fabens

In genealogy, you start with what you know, working backwards in time from your most recent ancestors. That’s what I’m doing with the migrating Williams Family. We know Mom and Dad met and married in El Paso, but before that, the family headed by …

In genealogy, you start with what you know, working backwards in time from your most recent ancestors.  That’s what I’m doing with the migrating Williams Family.  We know Mom and Dad met and married in El Paso, but before that, the family headed by Jess C. Williams aka Popsy resided in Fabens, Texas.  Elizabeth [Mom] was ten, Louise was eight, and Jerry was only two when Popsy purchased the Fabens Waterworks in 1931. (1)  They lived there until 1939, the year Mom graduated from high school, a period roughly commensurate with the Depression. 

Fabens lies between El Paso and Sierra Blanca, so Uncle Jerry and I stopped there on our way to see cousin Tom D.  Continue reading “Before El Paso, there was Fabens”

El Paso Places

Just after I landed in El Paso last month (but after lunch, of course), my aunt and uncle took me on sightseeing tour — sort of Homes-of-the-Stars, the Williams Family version.Our first stop was Awbrey Road in the Lower Valley. This house, 147 Aw…

Just after I landed in El Paso last month (but after lunch, of course), my aunt and uncle took me on sightseeing tour — sort of Homes-of-the-Stars, the Williams Family version.

Our first stop was Awbrey Road in the Lower Valley.  This house, 147 Awbrey, was where our grandparents, Jess and Amy Williams (better known to us as Mopsy and Popsy), lived when Mom and Dad met and married in 1944 and where oldest sister spent her first few months. (1) Continue reading “El Paso Places”

Our Grandfather’s Grandfather – Confederate Casualty

[Notes: This is an adapted version of my October ProGen (online study group) homework – a formal research report for a client. In this case, I’m my own client, writing a report to the Williams file. I omitted the middle chunk of the assignment, th…

[Notes:  This is an adapted version of my October ProGen (online study group) homework – a formal research report for a client.  In this case, I’m my own client, writing a report to the Williams file.  I omitted the middle chunk of the assignment, the detailed findings – the lists of sources searched, but I left in the footnotes. In fact, I may change this blog’s tagline to “It’s about the footnotes.”  One more caveat:  this research, analysis, and report took way more than ten hours!]

Williams Report #1

31 October 2010

For:  Research File

Subject: Participation of ancestor Jesse G. Williams in the Civil War Continue reading “Our Grandfather’s Grandfather – Confederate Casualty”

We Owe Her So Much

That’s what Tom D Ellison said to me as he swept his arm towards the boxes holding the files of his sister, Julia Mae. And, indeed, my recent trip to Texas was motivated by the knowledge that Tom is now the caretaker of Julia Mae’s work. They were…

That’s what Tom D Ellison said to me as he swept his arm towards the boxes holding the files of his sister, Julia Mae.  And, indeed, my recent trip to Texas  was motivated by the knowledge that Tom is now the caretaker of Julia Mae’s work.  They were Mom’s first cousins and we were fully aware that Julia Mae was the Williams family historian and that she worked tirelessly to create the Hudspeth County Museum.  I don’t remember meeting her as a child, and, unfortunately, this trip was too late by seven years.  

But I was ever so grateful for her collection of Williams family documents, pictures, and obituaries (it would have taken years to gather those alone!)  My new portable scanner was abuzz with activity.  I don’t know enough yet about Julia Mae from those with whom she worked on history projects, but I do have a few pictures to share – one is among my favorite trip finds.  Continue reading “We Owe Her So Much”

Evidence Analysis or “What did I know and when did I know it?”

Before documenting my Texan discoveries, I’m backing up to set the stage. Below is a list of sources in hand before I departed; they are in the format I used for my September ProGen (online study group) evidence analysis homework. (1) Bear with me…

Before documenting my Texan discoveries,  I’m backing up to set the stage.  Below is a list of sources in hand before I departed; they are in the format I used for my September ProGen (online study group) evidence analysis homework.  (1)  

Bear with me for the brief genealogical introduction.  You might even enjoy it!

Continue reading “Evidence Analysis or “What did I know and when did I know it?””

Speechless

I’m rendered speechless at the moment. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that I’m trying to maintain a story-telling blog. I threw myself into genealogical education in the last ten months – completing the trifecta of SLIG, Samfo…

I’m rendered speechless at the moment.  And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing except that I’m trying to maintain a story-telling blog.

I threw myself into genealogical education in the last ten months – completing the trifecta of SLIG, Samford, and NIGR in one year.  And in the last two weeks, did the same with on-site research – spending part of one week in western Pennsylvania researching Dad’s line and then spending most of last week in the El Paso, Texas, area researching Mom’s family.  To put it mildly, the combined trips were a study in contrasts. Continue reading “Speechless”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom’s birthday celebrations didn’t typically reach epic proportions like Dad’s. For one thing, her October 4th birthday didn’t lend itself to leisurely summer reunions. And Dad didn’t organize us in quite the same way that Mom quarterbacked his bi…

Mom’s birthday celebrations didn’t typically reach epic proportions like Dad’s.  For one thing, her October 4th birthday didn’t lend itself to leisurely summer reunions.  And Dad didn’t organize us in quite the same way that Mom quarterbacked his birthday every July.  But that seemed to be OK with her. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

I’ll take Potpourri (for $100)

[with apologies to Art Fleming and Alex Trebek] This post is a collection of news briefs on Williams family research – our mother’s paternal line. The first is titled:The Envelope, Please!Sometimes genealogical activity is not focused and purposef…

[with apologies to Art Fleming and Alex Trebek]

This post is a collection of news briefs on Williams family research – our mother’s paternal line. The first is titled:

The Envelope, Please!

Sometimes genealogical activity is not focused and purposeful.  It’s very easy to go off on a  web-based tangent when the harder work is overwhelming. In my study group, we’ve called it “chasing rabbits.”  

Not too long ago, for some reason, I “googled” Charles McBride, husband of Dora Williams, our 2nd great aunt.  And up popped a 2008 Williams Family forum post by David McBride, asking if anyone had information on a Charles McBride who married a Dora Williams.  I quickly pulled my Williams file and retrieved notes sent to mom, Elizabeth Williams Ruffner, by Melvin McBride, a cousin who resided in South Carolina.  Apparently, they had talked, probably on the phone, and his note was sent after that conversation.  I do not recall any other communication between the two of them and I don’t remember any Christmas cards from the McBrides (and, in our family, you know every Christmas card correspondent, but that’s a different story.)

Here’s the document and the note that accompanied it.  It’s the only scrap of evidence I have (so far) related to the death of Jesse G. Williams in 1864:

Melvin_mcbride_to_elizabeth_williams_ruffner_p1Melvin_mcbride_to_elizabeth_williams_ruffner_p2

I scanned the documents and sent them to David.  His grandfather’s name was Melvin McBride but we’re not sure if my Melvin is the same person as his Melvin.  There are a few discrepancies and it would be helpful to know when the note was written.  It’s not dated nor do I have the envelope. I’ve had the notes for years, probably decades.  It’s possible that Mom tossed the envelope or it’s possible that I thought it unimportant and tossed it myself.  (One thing we can be sure of is that, if Dad had given me the document, the neatly slit envelope would still be attached.)  I have learned from past misdeeds, though.  I save postmarked envelopes and strive to date anything I write.

[I may be carrying that to extremes — my daughter’s boyfriend did ask, “why does your mom date my birthday cards?” Answer – because you never know when it might be important.]

The note from Melvin refers to Tom D, a cousin of both Mom and Melvin.  I talked to Tom D, still residing in Sierra Blanca, Texas, for the first time not too long ago and we began an exchange of information.  He has lots of pictures and documents, some of which were gathered by his sister, Julia Mae.   Hopefully, I’ll be travelling to Texas to meet Tom in the next few months.  We’ll be able to get the Melvin McBrides sorted out and a whole lot more.

Baltimore, Arkansas

When I attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in June, the very first evening I found myself sitting next to Gloria from Hempstead County, Arkansas.  That’s where brothers Jesse G. Williams and James M. Williams lived side-by-side in 1860 — just before the Civil War.  Since then, she has retrieved wonderfully helpful documents from the Arkansas State Archives, including James’ death certificate, obituary, his service record, township maps and a deed in which James sold land to Jesse.  It was a huge boost that gives me many future avenues of research.

I was able to help her, too.  She has a Baltimore line and I retrieved death certificates and a birth record for her from the Maryland State Archives.  The cemetery where her ancestors are buried is less than 15 minutes from my house.  So next I’ll be heading there to take some pictures.

It’s not unusual to meet someone in the genealogical community who is willing help with local research and retrieval.   But to establish a Hempstead County-Baltimore City/County mutual exchange on Day 1 of Samford is a story worth mentioning.

James and Jesse had a sister Named Emily

I keep my eye on the Ancestry.com feature that lets you know when another subscriber is saving records for someone that you’ve researched.  I recently got in touch with Pat, of Minnesota, who is also working on James M. Williams.  She is the descendant of Emily, sister of James and Jesse.   Emily was living next door to Jesse in 1860 – in the household of James.  Pat  (nicely) corrected my speculation that Delilah, listed in the 1850 census as a 13 year old was a cousin of James, Jesse, and Emily.  Pat says the census age is wrong and that Delilah  was actually their grandmother.  New grist for the to-do list….

That’s two maxims for today – never rely on one piece of evidence and never throw away a postmarked envelope.

I was happy to share with Pat this last bit of news.

The Original Land Patent issued to Burgess Williams

At the National Institute of Genealogical Research at the National Archives in DC in July, I delved more deeply into public land states (we don’t live in one), and for the first time, realized that Burgess Williams, the father of Jesse and James, obtained his Alabama property directly from the federal government in 1851.  He paid cash so his land entry file was not one of the genealogically juicy ones that accumulate in a credit sale but the file did contain the most important document of all.  Burgess was issued a final certificate in 1850 proving that all sale conditions had been met.  Had he turned it in to the land office, he would have received his original patent dated 1851.  But he never went back to the Sparta (AL) land office to pick it up; he died in 1852 and may have even moved to Arkansas shortly before then.  In those situations, the patent was later returned to the General Land Office (later the Bureau of Land Management) in Washington.  Burgess didn’t pick up his patent so 159 years later, I held it in his stead. Here’s a picture of the document and a duplicate of the certificate that entitled him to the patent:  

Burgess_williams_final_certificateBurgess_williams_patent

Thanks to Claire Bettag for her assistance sorting out the certificate and patent.

Longhorn Lineage

Most people learn of my football loyalties within the first ten minutes of even a casual conversation. It’s near impossible to grow up in western Pennsylvania during the 1970s without developing very specific leanings. Even fleeting personnel issu…

Most people learn of my football loyalties within the first ten minutes of even a casual conversation.  It’s near impossible to grow up in western Pennsylvania during the 1970s without developing very specific leanings.  Even fleeting personnel issues (ahem) don’t alter football heritage.  But we can also lay claim to a strong maternal football lineage – of the Texan variety.

Mom was born in Sierra Blanca, Texas, but the family moved to nearby Fabens in 1932 and that’s where she attended high school. It’s about as far west as you can get in Texas. Safe to say that football was a social focal point.   And I’ve got the memorabilia to prove it.

Continue reading “Longhorn Lineage”