Archive for September, 2007

Tomorrow I’m off to the state library to do a little research before they pack up most of the genealogy collection and put it in off-site storage. The Lorenzo de Zavala building is being renovated.

Here is the architect’s rendering of the new reading room. It looks like they will need to tear out the interior of the room as it is now, including the floor that divides the first and second floors. I have no idea how long this will take but am prepared for a long wait. I know, boo hoo, I’m spoiled rotten. Very few people have the luxury of a collection like this. If you live in Dallas or Houston, then maybe you have some idea…but then again, we have stuff like Travis’ letter from the Alamo.

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Campbell Ambrose JordanI’ve heard it said that Granny’s father, Campbell Ambrose Jordan (pronounced Jurden), was a mountain man, resourceful and a hard worker. As a young man he went to live with his mother’s family for a time, possibly in the vicinity of present day Kansas. There is a tantalizing note in a spiral notebook left by my grandmother, “per Cam’s memoirs.” If I had one wish, it would be to find someone with a copy of such memoirs.

Cam’s father was James Jordan from Georgia. He was the product of unknown parentage, a foundling, the soul survivor of an Indian attack on a wagon train. The little red headed, blue eyed infant was adopted. It is not known if Jordan was his birth name or if it was the name of his adopted family.

Cam’s mother, Martha Bull, was Indian. The little spiral notebook notes, “She  must have been born about 1820 because she remembered when the stars fell (November 10-12, 1833). She had dark hair, dark eyes and might have had an accent, reportedly calling her husband “Jeem.” The children remembered her telling them to be proud of their native ancestry because they were kin to the great chief Sitting Bull. Some believed that she was not Indian but French. To further complicate matters, Aunt Jip returned from a trip back east and told everyone she had visited the Bull plantation. She said they were descended from the English Bulls. This seemed even less likely.

Jim and Martha’s children were a mixed bag of his fair complexion and her dark complexion. Even today, older family members refer to the “dark Jordans” and the “light Jordans.” The two oldest boys, Jim and Bob, died while serving in the Confederate Army. Cam returned from his stay with Martha’s family with the intention of enlisting but the war had ended. After Cam, there were two younger brothers, Tom and Dan. There were four girls: Ann, Mary, Susie and Rebecca.

After returning to Arkansas, Cam courted and wed Alice Martha Taylor and they settled on a farm. He built a nice little log cabin with a puncheon floor, a luxury in those days. Their first two children, Nick and Emma, were native born Arkansans. After a few years, Cam got the idea to move to Texas. Their land in Arkansas was wooded and hilly and the men wore themselves out clearing it for farming. The word was Texas had lots of good, clear farmland available. So preparations were made to move the family to Texas. As the time to leave neared, Alice did not want to leave her home. She sat on the porch in her rocking chair as the wagon was loaded. Cam left her a horse and wagon and told her that when she was ready, she could come on. Then Cam, the kids and all their belongings drove away. She sat for awhile absorbing every last detail of her home. After a bit, she put the rocking chair in the back of the wagon and took off after her family heading to Texas. 

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Griffin Lewis Taylor was born in Virginia about 1815 or 1816.  Elizabeth Wardlaw was born in South Carolina about 1822. They married in Greene County, Alabama on November 24, 1841. At the time, Greene County was the home of Elizabeth’s family. By 1849, Lewis and Elizabeth had relocated to Lafayette County, Arkansas. Most of Elizabeth’s family, the Wardlaws, moved to Bradley County, Arkansas. There is more about them on the Bradley County ARGenWeb. A notable exception was Elizabeth’s brother, Addison Wardlaw, who settled in Ellis County, Texas.

Lewis and Elizabeth had four (known) children: Alice Martha born 19 Sep 1849, Emma born about 1852, Griffin Lewis born 02 Aug 1854 and Charles Dillard born about 1857. The birth dates for Alice Martha and Griffin Lewis are from their gravestones. The 1860 federal census records the place of birth for all four children as Arkansas.

The young family must have done well for themselves in Lafayette County, Arkansas. The 1850 federal census for LaGrange Township lists Lewis’ occupation as farmer. The 1860 federal census for Roane Township lists his occupation as overseer.

I put Elizabeth’s death at about 1861, sometime between the 1860 census and Lewis’ marriage to Emeline Munnelly 18 May 1862.

So far, the 1862 Lafayette County tax roll is where the document trail ends for Lewis. The next mention of the Taylors come in 1865 when Emeline Taylor is listed on the tax rolls. I don’t know if we can ever know the circumstances of his death or when and where he was buried. It is quite possible that the story is true and he died in Texas. He had two brothers-in-law in Texas, one in Ellis County and one in Falls County. Both are not so far from Waco, the seat of McLennan County. I’m still looking.

By the 1870 census:

Emma’s husband, J. M. (Jim) Forbes living with 4 month old Cora T.  (Taylor) and Susanna Forbes, 56 in Lafayette County. (Emma died young, either in childbirth with Cora or in the 4 months between the birth and the census date.) The next family is E. N. Taylor, 32, female, born in Tennessee and Munerly N., 11.

Twenty year old Alice is married and living with Cameron (sic) Jordan in Bradley County. They have no children but she must have been pregnant with Uncle Nick by this time.

Fifteen year old Lewis is living with John and Jane Wardlaw, his mother’s brother, in Bradley County.

Twelve year old Charles is living with Nick and Mary Jarrott, his mother’s sister, in Bradley County.

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Among the many family stories I remember from my childhood is that of my great-grandmother’s maternal grandparents. I think it stuck because it sounds as if it came from a screenplay: settlers moving west, family drama, death, heroism and horses. Family stories are often dismissed as something someone made up to kill time or entertain the children. There are some in the family who regularly voice that opinion. I think we view the world (including the past however inappropriate) through the lens of our own experience. Everyone loves “Lonesome Dove” but it is fiction after all, right?

Granny’s mother, Alice Martha Taylor, came from a well-to-do Arkansas family. It was reported that she claimed she was seventeen years old before she buttoned her own dress. She had a nanny to take care of her. She also claimed that she attended a finishing school in New Orleans as a young woman. Such was her station in life.

Alice’s father was Griffin Lewis Taylor from Virginia. He was the son of Richard Taylor, an early settler of Lunenburg, Kentucky. His family was purported to be of English descent, the same family that produced the former president Zachary Taylor.

Alice’s mother was Elizabeth Wardlaw. She was the daughter of William Wardlaw and a Miss Douglas. It was a large family with several daughters. The girls married men with names like Hargraves, Hickman and Jarrett.

Lewis and Elizabeth raised their family on a plantation with slaves. Alice was not an only child, she had a little brother. Unfortunately their mom, Elizabeth died leaving the children motherless. Lewis soon remarried. The step-mother was reported to be unpleasant. She and Alice did not get along at all. For this reason, Lewis decided to take the children with him on a trip to Waco, Texas. He wanted to purchase land there. He also took with him a significant amount of cash, a combination of his own funds and others’, and one of the slaves.

The trip was made on horseback and at some point, Lewis suddenly died in Texas. The cause of his death was lost to time. Making a cross country trip on horseback was fraught with danger. He could have been caught in the open during a storm and become sick. He could have been the victim of contaminated water. He could have crossed paths with the wrong people. Whatever happened, the man accompanying him took the children and the money and made his way back to their home in Arkansas. They travelled at night to avoid trouble as Texas was not the place for a black man with a bag of money and two white kids. They eventually arrived home safely.

My grandmother said that Alice and her husband-to-be, Cam met after the war. He had been away, had come of age and was off to join the army when the war ended, but that’s another story.

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pathophysiology keeping me up at night

Can’t sleep…can’t think…can’t function…exam today. I am in pathoverload. The first exam predisposes to a particular sort of stress induced psychosis. Can’t even come up with eye candy for ww. Here’s an amusing link. adopt a microbe

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Alice and Granny

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I recently upgraded from Family Tree Maker 2005 to FTM 2008. Surprise! The new version is a major resource hog but what a stinky, muddy, goody-rooting hog it is.

Buzz abounds of its upgraded search capabilities enabling you to search various websites within the same window. Yawn, I can’t get excited about a “new” way to web search. Still the same info out there folks. One window, three windows, it’s still the same stuff. However, I finally got what I have been wanting for years, the ability to search the database by place name. 

My approach to research reflects my approach to life. You gotta get out there and present yourself in order to reap the benefits. I *like* going to courthouses, walking around in cemeteries and rooting around at the library.  Sometimes you meet interesting people. Sometimes you experience that lovely serendipity that doesn’t usually happen when you are sitting in front of a monitor. Place is important and you can’t get the feel sitting in the back room with the cat in your face.

The problem is that after ten years of accumulating data, it becomes difficult to remember all the surnames for which you should be looking when you plan a trip. Nothing is more disheartening than coming home and realizing that you have to go back because you missed something. FTM 2008 has a place view that shows a list of place names on the left, a map in the center and a list of individual names associated with that place name on the right. The list of individuals is expandable so you can view specific events. Woo hoo, a great trip planning tool!

One drawback is the old version did not have separate fields for place name and description, the new version does. After converting my existing file, I had to edit the place names list to move descriptive info to the new field. Tiresome if you have a big file. Fortunately the software identifies the unrecognized place names for you making it a little easier.

Another view to love is the family view. Everything you need is on one page: index of individuals on the left, family tree upper middle, family group sheet lower middle and individual info on the right. Good thing because it bogs down my computer and switching views requires a wait.

The publisher seems to know about the problems. Service pack one came out on September 7, just a few days after receiving the software. Service pack two is planned for October. I still get mysterious shut downs and error reporting messages that I end up cancelling because I just want to get on with it. I guess I will have to dig deep, upgrade my RAM and add FTM to my list of software that needs regular updating but hey, hogs can’t be fun to have around all the time.


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Most people’s response to hearing about my family history/research/library obsession is to yawn. I consider the long hours spent searching and transcribing a tribute to the lives of those who lived at a time when life was much harder and more interesting.

Edwards County Memories – pages I originally put together as an assignment for an html class I took in 1998

Macedonia Cemetery – contains the graves of my great-great-great-grandparents and some of their children and grandchildren

Nolan Cemetery – where my great-great-grandparents and some of their children and grandchildren are buried

Travis County, Texas School Census of 1854 – a transcription I did last year for the Austin Genealogical Society which seems to have disappeared from their website

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mile marker 2005

This photo of Linus and Lucy was taken two years ago. They are munchkins. They came to me in the autumn of 2004 after living the first two years of their lives in a bedroom. It took a few months for them to adapt to their new surroundings. It was great watching them discover a whole world of new things. I call this photo “yang and yin kitties.”  It fits their personalities. They still do their best relating when you are horizontal, preferably on the bed.

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in the beginning

When I was little no one told me how chaotic and beautiful life can be. For some reason it often only appears so upon reflection. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly endless moments of misery and boredom knit themselves together into a fascinating story. Such is the magic of time and perspective.

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