Notes from the past…


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Illustrated Family Records from National Archive Pension Files

The New England Historic Genealogical Society puts out a weekly e-newsletter, and this very interesting item was in today’s edition:

Weekly Genealogist reader Jacob Sievers of Somerville, Massachusetts, emailed me with a link to a remarkable collection of 220 illustrated family records that are part of the National Archives’ Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application files. Beginning last July, the National Archives began to contribute tens of thousands of files to Wikimedia Commons, and these images are among them. These family records were submitted as part of the documentation required for a veteran or a veteran’s family member to receive a pension, and then became permanently attached to the veteran’s file.

I was fascinated by the beauty and variety of these records. I saw illustrated family records, birth, baptismal, and memorial certificates — in English and German, hand-drawn and pre-printed. I looked at examples from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. And I thought about the people whose names were listed so carefully on the certificates and I wondered if they understood when they mailed them away that they weren’t going to be getting them back. Perhaps for years afterward people thought wistfully about the family papers they’d sent to Washington. But sending them to Washington also had the positive effect of preserving them and making them widely available today.

Here’s one example (click to enlarge):

Lots of data for some lucky researcher!


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A birthday party notice… and the names of over 30 relatives!!!

My 3rd great-grandmother Serena Jane Brown died at age 99 1/2 in San Saba, Texas. She had moved there with her parents in the 1850′s and was actually the first child baptized at the newly created Baptist Church in 1857. When she died in 1942, she held the record for the longest continuous church membership in Texas. In short, Serena was a “big-wig”, a prominent citizen of San Saba.

So when her 99th birthday arrived, naturally it made the front page of the local newspaper.

This article (click on the image for larger view), from the 25 Dec 1941 edition of the San Saba News, contains the usual bio details, and it also contains names and locations of relatives. A lot of names of relatives: kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, even a half-sister! And also many long-time friends and neighbors who could also be of genealogical value.

I found this newspaper article at the Library of Congress Chronicling America website:

Search America’s historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.


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There it is!… or Jane is not your aunt or your wife, SHE IS YOUR MOTHER!!!

I was working on my Kennedy line last night. My 3GGF, Dr Nathan Blunt Kennedy was born in Sumter County, Alabama and moved to Hill County, Texas in about 1875. Nathan had six siblings and 2 of his brothers also became physicians. According to an old Hill County history book, Nathan’s sister Jane also married a physician, a man named Edward Tandy Easley.

Trouble is, that old book has been the absolute only reference to Jane Kennedy that I have been able to find. The earliest census record I have of the specific children of the Kennedy family is the 1850 enumeration, and she is not listed with her family. I have always thought she had probably married and moved out of the house before 1850.

I had searched and was however able to find quite a bit of data on Edward Tandy Easley. He was prominent in the early years of the American Medical Association and died in 1878 while helping victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to going to Memphis, he had practiced in Dallas, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas. I have census entries, his Civil War records, numerous references to him in medical journals of the time (again, Google Books!), even a tax listing from Dallas County, Texas.

And not one documented connection between Dr Edward Tandy Easley and Leah Jane Kennedy!

I had about decided that Jane Kennedy was one of those ancestors who simply vanishes. The one that you know shoulda been there, but wasn’t. And last night, I was just fixin’ to shut it down and go to bed….

But before I give it up for the night, one last search… A Google Books search… and…

THERE IT IS!!!

If you click on the first page, you will see a larger, readable page from Transactions of the State Medical Society of Arkansas, dated 1879:

Jane Kennedy didn’t marry Edward Tandy Easley… SHE GAVE BIRTH TO HIM!

Jane Kennedy married Tandy Walker Easley, also a physician, in 1840. Edward Tandy Easley was born of that union in 1842.

Well, I guess I gotta update my RootsMagic database. I wonder how difficult it is the change a woman’s husband into her son… Anybody got Bruce’s cell number?