Langley

Meissen – Saxony, Germany

While staying in Pirna, we made a day trip to Meissen just north of Dresden. Our destination was the Albrechtburg Castle, the first castle to be built in Germany for residential purposes. The original structure was a wooden fortress overlooking the Elbe River built in 929 by Heinrich the Fowler. The late-Gothic castle complex  was built between 1471 and 1524 on behalf of the two brothers, Ernest and Albert of Wettin, who jointly ruled Saxony. The new residence was to become a representative administration center and residential palace at the same time. It did not really serve defense purposes anymore, but was rather meant to be a palace – the first of its kind in German architectural history. The large main staircase to the south, which provides access to the upper floors used for stately purposes, is a masterpiece of stonemasonry with intricately curved steps winding up around an open eye in the centre. Its windows were originally open and allowed a variety of views between those walking on the stairs and spectators in the courtyard.  Meissen-The Cradle of Saxony Meissen porcelain was called “white gold” because of it’s high price. Meissen porcelain has been considered the finest by European aristoracy as well as decorative arts conoisseurs for over 250 years. Meissen was Europe’s first porcelain manufactory and continued producing in the castle for 153 years. In 1863, the manufacturing of porcelain was moved to another site in Meissen. Extensive restoration work was needed after the damage left by the factory. Reparations the French were made to pay to the Germans for the German-French war allowed partially for the funding of the restoration.  Through the use of interactive tablets, visitors get an informative lesson about how the castle was used during the centuries. It included a game for the kids to keep them entertained while learning.  Meissen Cathedral also known as the Church of St. John and St. Donatus, is a Gothic church situated adjacent to the Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen. The main hall of the church was built between 1260 and 1410, the twin steeples were added in 1909.  If you plan on being in Saxony make sure it’s on your sightseeing list. For more information go to Albrechtburg-Meissen. 

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The Duff Green Mansion in Vicksburg, Mississippi

I’m curious to find out how many of my ancestors fought in the Civil War and which side they chose. I’m a little tentative to find out, being from the south I expect to find quite a lot of confederate soldiers, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised (so far). I’ve found at least 3 ancestors who fought for the Union and one of them was James Lynn my great-great-grandfather. He was part of 131st Illinois Infantry that fought during  the 47 day siege of Vicksburg in 1863.  I already had a trip planned to Atlanta and on my way decided to stay the night in Vicksburg and tour the Vicksburg National Military Park. On a whim, I booked a room at the Duff Green Mansion near downtown Vicksburg just to get a tiny feel for life on the Mississippi. Duff Green Mansion during the Civil War. The residence was used as a hospital for both the Union and Confederate wounded. Duff Green Bed and Breakfast 2023 Duff Green moved to Vicksburg in 1847 and married Mary Lake in 1855. Prior to the Civil war he made a fortune as the owner of Duff Green & Co. Soon after his marriage, Green began building the mansion at the corner of Locust & First East Street. The two lots the mansion would be built on were given to Mary Lake Green by her parents, Mr. & Mrs. W.A. Lake. Before the Civil War, many social gatherings were enjoyed at the large home. The socialites of Vicksburgs, during this time, were avid followers of the royal family in England, and patterned their homes and social life after the British. Dinner at the mansion would include multiple course dinners, beginning late in the evening and lasting several hours. After the lengthy dinner, and after the gentleman escorted the women to the lady’s parlor , the men then gathered for a smoke in the men’s parlor. If only one could eavesdrop on the conversations in both parlors. Talk of war and business, politics and generals, sprinkled in with light hearted subjects of the day.  Occasionally, dances were held in the ballroom, with each young lady given a dance card. Social norms of the day required a young man to approach a young lady and ask to sign her dance card. It was frowned upon for her to decline the invitation, saving the young man’s dignity. I wonder if the lady wall-flowers were given the same consideration?  Duff & Mary enjoyed living in their new home only a short time before the Siege of Vicksburg. Following shelling from the river from gunboats, Duff made an arrangement for the residence to be used as a hospital, with the Union wounded strategically placed in the second floor to discourage enemy bombardment. Duff and Mary reluctantly abandoned their home, as did many others in Vicksburg, and sheltered in a makeshift cave carved out of the hillside near their home. While sheltering in a cave Mary gave birth to her son and named him William Siege.  The couple and the people of Vicksburg suffered through 47 days of heavy shelling until Pemberton and his confederate troops surrendered July 4, 1863.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPSw7Nih-tQ I stayed in the Dixie room, which was downstairs, ground level, it was originally the kitchen and staff quarters. During the Civil War, the kitchen was used as an operating room and became the site of many gruesome surgeries including amputations. According to local historians the pile of  severed arms and legs were as high as the ceiling. One would hope this is an exaggeration. Rumors of a ghost in the Dixie Room include claims of seeing a Confederate soldier, sitting near the fireplace, along with his amputated leg, staring blankly ahead.  The Dixie Room is one of several guest rooms anchored by a large sitting area. It is a lovely room, well appointed with a comfortable antique bed (not an antique mattress), bureau and wardrobe, along with modern amenities of television and wifi. There is a small sitting area near the fireplace. You can share it with the ghost if you dare.  I experienced nothing but a great night’s sleep in the room, it was quiet and comfortable. The next morning I was treated to a wonderful hot breakfast in the dining room upstairs, followed by a guided tour of the house.  I’m glad I decided to stay at Duff Green, it was so much better than a cookie cutter hotel room. I really was able to immerse myself in the history of the area and gained a better understanding of the disruption and hardships caused by the Civil War. If you love history, antiques, gardens and old homes you will love staying there too. 

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Genealogy on the Road – Old Success, Missouri

Lots of people go on road trips. They might drive to a scenic area and picnic, go to the lake or park. Normal-people stuff. Right? Ruby and I love to go on road trips together. Ruby is my first cousin on my mama’s side (gotta read that with a southern twang). We enjoy going on genealogy research road trips together. For fun. As genealogists, our road trips are a bit different. We don’t go to the usual tourist areas. Instead, we will take the back roads, we might have a picnic but it will be in a cemetery, Spending the day at courthouse archives, cemeteries and trudging through cow pastures to find a long-forgotten gravesite, is our idea of entertainment. Not “normal-people” stuff.     Destination: Texas County, Missouri Research Subjects: William Scyler Langley and Myrtle Odessa Stogsdill Langley our grandparents. We wanted to go to Texas County, Missouri as it was home to many of our ancestors for several decades.  Determining our research goals. We began by determining our research goals individually and collaboratively.One of my goals was to document and visit the property of our family members, another was to locate my Great Grandmother Adeline Winn Stogsdill’s burial plot. One of Ruby’s goals was to see and take photos of our 3rd great-grandparents Joseph and Julia Langley’s graves. Number one on both of our lists was to visit and learn more about the old town that our great-great-grandfather, William Braz Langley, helped establish in the late 1890s to early 1900s. Old Success, Missouri. Tag Team Researching Ruby and I are a good research team. Ruby never met a stranger and she will talk to anyone. ANYONE. But me, not so much, I prefer to stand back, watch and listen. My contribution is planning the trip and research priorities, then together we document and organize our discoveries.   We used online tools to plan and organize. To plan the trip, I plotted out the places we wanted to visit on a Google Drive map which allowed Ruby and I to collaborate. We also used the Marco Polo app to make it even easier to plan. Lots more fun than just texting or talking on the phone. Google Drive has so many tools that you can use to organize your genealogy and collaborate and there are many YouTube video tutorials on the subject. Check it out! Research Tip: Search Facebook for a local group focusing on your area of research interest. Through a Facebook group, Ruby found a gentleman that knew a lot about Old Success and was even compiling a book on the old town. He agreed to take us on a personal tour of the area and share his expertise with us. I’m so glad she reached out to him or we would have never known where the old townsite was located. We worked our plans around his schedule as we did not want to miss talking with him. Get a room. While she was making arrangements to meet him, I found a fabulous Air BnB called the Swedish Country Hideaway near Rolla, Missouri. If you need a place to stay in the Rolla or the Ft. Leonard Wood area we highly recommend staying at the Swedish Country Hideaway. We used it as our home base for our daily research outings.   Use common sense when booking an Air BnB. I read all the reviews and the “about me” page about the Swedish Country Hideaway before I made any reservations and made sure we would feel and be safe. We were very safe and felt at home during our visit and will definitely stay there again when we are back in the area. Goal setting is done, now what? My goal of finding where my Great Grandmother Stogsdill was buried, was most likely to be found at the Genealogical Society. She is probably buried in an unmarked grave, as there is no photo of a marker on Find a Grave. If we can locate her grave, we would like to place a headstone in her memory. Based on our goals we decided that the Texas County Genealogical Society was a priority as well as the Texas County Recorder of Deeds at the Texas County Courthouse in downtown Houston.  Research Tip: Always call ahead to local archives and courthouses. However, by calling ahead we discovered that we could only visit the Genealogical Society Friday morning from 10-12. I’m so glad Ruby called ahead because the Society had not updated their Facebook page on the days they were open and we would have missed visiting the Society. We adjusted our schedule to be able to visit the society. So after a few tweaks, we had our plan. Thursday: Drive to Houston, Missouri Texas County Public Library Check-in at the Swedish Country Hideaway Friday: Recorder of Deeds at the courthouse at 8 am Texas County Genealogical Society at 10 am until 12. Lunch Back to the Recorder of Deeds until closing. Saturday: 9 am Meet Rick to go on our tour of the Old Success townsite and visit the cemeteries nearby. Sunday: Depending on what we find at the courthouse on Friday we would spend Sunday visiting the areas where our relatives owned property and cemeteries we’ve located on Find A Grave. We had a plan and headed off to Missouri Part Two coming soon! 

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He died on Mr. Lenhart’s Porch

While researching the death of Eli Langley, who died while a prisoner of war at Andersonville Prison in 1864, I came across his widow’s Rachel McCoy Langley pension application files 1. One hundred and six pages of pension records-a genealogist’s jackpot!2 But this post isn’t about Eli, it’s about Rachel’s second husband, Andrew Hutchison. After the death of Eli, Rachel had a child (William Langley), fathered by Eli’s brother Braz Langley. I have found no record of their every marrying. Rachel went on to marry her second husband, our mystery man, Andrew Hutchison in 1870. It is unknown who his parents were. There are a lot of Hutchisons in Union County, Tennessee as well as McCoys, Langleys, and Loys that all intermarried and created family lines that resemble a plate of spaghetti. Not much is known about Andrew and it seems that his death was a bit of a mystery as well. So what happened to Andrew?  Thanks to military pension records we have insight into the life and death of Andrew Hutchison. In order to receive her widow’s pension benefits, Rachel gave a deposition regarding her second husband’s death. In her deposition, she states: “On July or August 1875, my husband who was working for a neighbor called Stooksbury left my home in this neighborhood on a Monday night to go work for Lewis Stooksbury. I heard no more of him until the following Thursday morning when I heard that he was dead.” “I heard no more of him until…I heard that he was dead.” For almost three days she was unaware of her husband’s demise. Further, she states: “What I know of his death was told me by others and principally by the miller Mr. Lenhart.” Mr. Lenhart in his deposition stated that a man driving Mr. Stooksbury wagon came to the mill. The man was sick and “he had him put to bed. During the night the man went out to the porch and that’s where he died”. He did not recognize the man but did recognize Stooksbury’s wagon.  He had two negros dig the grave and the unknown man was put in a dry-goods box and buried as soon as possible. Witnesses say that owing to the fear surrounding cholera, those who died during this period were buried quickly without ceremony or record. It was noted, by the pension board interviewer, that Mr. Lenhart, a wealthy man, was irritated that he had to “pay” for the unknown man’s burial and was never repaid by the family. Fortunately, before he was buried a neighbor of Andrew’s saw his body on the front porch and recognized him. Otherwise, there would have been no legal witness as to his identification.  His deposition is on record in her widow’s pension application. Throughout the records, witnesses maintained that Andrew Hutchison died from cholera, which was rampant in the area. Mr. Stooksbury, his employer, lost a family member to cholera the same week. It is likely that Andrew contracted cholera when he picked up the grain to take to the mill. After the burial, Mr. Stooksbury retrieved his wagon along with the clothing and boots of Andrew. He held onto the effects for a while for unknown reasons, perhaps out of fear of spreading the disease, eventually returning them to the widow. The Langley’s, McCoy’s, Hutchison’s lived in the area known as Loys Crossroads, Racoon Valley and Warwick’s Crossroads in Union County, Tennessee. The area is now mostly under the waters of Lake Norris at Big Ridge State Park. A few of the cemeteries remain, such as the Langley Cemetery. I’ll be searching for the parents of Andrew Hutchison and as there are many Hutchisons in Union County, Tennessee it may take more than a lifetime, it’s quite a tangled web. National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Index to Pension Applications Files of Remarried Widows Based on Service in the Civil War and Later wars in the Regular Army after the Civil War; NAI Number: 2588478; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 – 2007; Record Group Number: 15; Series Number: M1785; Roll Number: 4 [↩]Page 6 – Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861 – ca. 1910Web addresshttps://www.fold3.com/image/295539311?xid=1945 [↩]

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Are you a taphophile?

I’m a taphophile and a tombstone tourist. It’s a hazard of being a genealogist.  It’s not as creepy as it sounds. It just means I like to visit graveyards and cemeteries. As a genealogist, one of my ideas of fun is visiting cemeteries and graveyards. Not in a weird ghost hunting way (although I do enjoy a good ghost story or two), but instead, a way of learning about the history of an area and its citizens. The only remnant of some old towns or settlements is the cemetery. If we take the time to stop and look, the history of the place is there, set in stone. It’s amazing when I find a graveyard in the middle of nowhere and realize that once there was a bustling community nearby. It sparks all kinds of questions, which can prove useful as it can create great leads in genealogy research.   There is a lot of information in a cemetery if you take the time to “listen” to the residents. The stones have something to say. The gravestone of Carney Parsons and his family speak of tragedy. They all died on the same day, October 12, 1906. The family gravesite consists of Carney, his wife Minnie and his children Edward, Jessie, and Franklin. Carney Parsons was my 1st cousin 3x removed. The grave is marked by a more recent type stone, the graves were originally unmarked. The Parsons’ lived in Licking, Missouri and were well liked in the community. Carney previously worked as railroad tie maker in Miller County and decided to move his family back there to live. He sold his farm and crops to Jodie Hamilton and packed up his family and set off on the road that led out of Licking.  Hamilton was unhappy with the agreement they had made and accosted the family on their way out of town. After arguing, Hamilton pulled out his shotgun and discharged both barrels hitting Carney in the leg, then beat him with the gun barrel. Minnie Parsons came to the aid of her husband and Hamilton beat her and her children to death. The oldest child was 11, the youngest only 1 year old.  Hamilton loaded them into the wagon and hid them in the woods. Unbelievably after the murders, he went to a revival meeting at the local schoolhouse. After the revival, he returned to the wagon, loaded up the bodies and went down to Pine Creek nearby where he dumped the bodies. Men fishing in the creek found two of the bodies. The rest of the bodies were found after a search of the area. Hamilton was arrested after he was found leading the Parsons’ mule through town with his girlfriend Mae Thompson riding it. A raving lunatic After his arrest, the sheriff told reporters that Hamilton was a raving lunatic and had attempted suicide by stabbing himself with a knitting needle and by beating his head against the wall. Rumors of a lynching spurred the sheriff to transfer Hamilton to a jail near the Arkansas line. Hamilton was tried and found guilty after a short trial and sentenced to death. When it was time for Hamilton’s hanging, a stockade was built around the gallows.  It did not stop onlookers from climbing nearby trees for a better look. They had to hang him twice! The local newspaper “The Houston Herald” reported the hanging in the 27 December 1906 issue. “Hamilton added a few more remarks and then stepped upon the trap; he stood perfectly still and immovable while his arms and legs were being tied, seemingly without fear or tremble. The black-cap was adjusted at 11 o’clock, and Sheriff Wood shook hands with him saying “Goodbye, Jodia, may the Lord have mercy on your soul.” Sheriff Wood then sprung the trap at 11:02 and then occurred the feature that caused a groan of horror to arise from the crown. The knot slipped and the man’s body fell to the ground. He was injured but not unconscious. Another knot was tied by Sheriff Bay of Shannon County, and the condemned man was carried back to the scaffold. The noose was again adjusted and two minutes later the trap was sprung the second time by Sheriff Wood. This was 11:04 and in just 11½ minutes the young man was pronounced dead by the attending physicians.     The Cantrell Cemetery in Licking Missouri is the burial place for the Carney family. For more information click on the following links. Bittersweet Magazine Find A Grave – Parsons Family Find A Grave – Jodie Hamilton

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