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!
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
I have hit several brick walls in my genealogy research, however, Henry Pesterfield I is my most obstinate brick wall. Family lore tells us that he came from Hanover, Germany and anglicized his name when he came into the U.S. There is no mention of what the original may have been. My research goals are to determine when Henry immigrated to the U.S. and from where, and what his last name truly was. Eventually, I hope it leads to his parents’ identity. What’s in a name? I’ve seen variations of the name as Besterfield, Besterfelt, Besterfeld, Bristerfield, Pesterfield, Pistorfield, Pasterfield, and maybe even Percifield, and Percival. So far I have found no mention of a Pesterfield or any variation of the name listed on any online immigration records. So perhaps the rumor of the name change is correct, I just don’t have any idea what the original name would have been. I have tried the various spellings on databases at Ancestry, Family Search and My Heritage. Nothing found so far. The earliest record I’ve been able to find is in 1793 where a Henry BESTERFELT purchased property in Wythe County, VA. Henry purchased the property from the Custards of Wilkes County, North Carolina. I’m wondering if there might be a family connection or it was simply a business deal. Yet another spelling is found, Henry PESTORFIELD in the Wythe County, Virginia tax lists for the years 1793-1796 and 1798-1800. Listed above him on the list are John, Jeremiah, Peter and William Percifield. Which leads me to wonder if they are related and the name was recorded as to how it sounded to the tax collector. Maybe, maybe not. Quick and Dirty Trees I plan on making experimental (aka quick and dirty) family trees on the Percifield’s to see if they connect somewhere. I found Henry BISTERFELD in an estate inventory of Peter Spengler Sr. 8 Dec. 1801. Henry Pesterfelt shows up in an 1802 land survey for James Wilson as a neighboring landholder, also named are neighbors Groseclose and Davis. Areas mentioned are Rich or Ricks Valley, Walkers Mountain and Staggerhill. The reason the name Groseclose is significant to me is that I have several DNA matches with the Groseclose surname and since they were neighbors I’m exploring their family tree for possible clues. Recently I went on a heritage trip to Bland and Wythe County, Virginia to the area where Henry was on the tax list. The Groseclose family is still living in the area. Ceres, Bland County, Virginia – formerly in Wythe County. Walker Mountain View Crossroads near Ceres Colorful drive through Ceres Migration from Virginia to Tennessee Henry Sr. moved from Virginia to Tennessee. On June 13, 1809, he purchased land in Blount County, Tennessee. . The landowners surrounding his land were named in the document; Morris Baker, Daniel Bonine (Henry Sr.’s grandson John Pesterfield married Aquilla Bonine in 1826 in Blount County), Luke Hall, Peter Key, Alexander Stewart, G. Miser. Will of Henry Pesterfield Sr. dated December 1838. Michael Miser was one of Henry Sr.’s estate executors along with Matthew Whittenbarger. The witnesses to his will were William Henderson Sr., Hiram Jones, and Matthew Whittenbarger. So, I plan to build Q&D trees for Michael and George Miser, Matthew Whittenbarger, Hiram Jones, William Henderson, and Daniel Bonine to see if there are any family connections. Here are a few pictures from Miser Station where the Pesterfields lived and the Shady Grove Cemetery where they are buried. Old Store at Miser Station, Blount County, Tennessee Crossroads of Miser Station & Miser School Road Breckill-Johnston House Est. 1849 in Miser Station Wythe County, VA Will Books 1, James L. Douthat, Malita Murphy, Roberta D. Hatcher, Signal Mountain, Tennessee : Mountain Press, 1986,c1984, https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE12203433, familysearch.org Page 300 #186 John and Elizabeth Custard of Wilkes County, NC to Henry Besterfelt. Elizabeth relinquishes dower to 192 acres sold to him. “1800 Tax List & Abstract of Deeds 1796-1800 of Wythe County, VA” Page 300, #186, Lawton Public Library, Lawton, Oklahoma Land Office Grants No. 51, 1802-1803, p. 520 (Reel 117).Part of the index to the recorded copies of grants issued by the Virginia Land Office. Archives at the Library of Virginia.
I was in Knoxville, Tennessee recently conducting research into several of my family lines. One family in particular-the Pesterfield’s, my most stubborn brick wall. Read more about my Pesterfield line here. I’m stuck on Henry Pesterfield born ca. 1790, so I’m trying to research all of Henry Pesterfield’s descendants to try to break down my brick wall. After looking online for local archives, cemeteries, and courthouses, I planned a research trip to Knoxville. I also gathered as much information online beforehand about where my ancestors were buried and plotted them out on a google map. Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville I went to the Old Gray Cemetery in downtown Knoxville. Old Gray is a beautiful cemetery in a park-like setting. Very inviting even if you aren’t a taphophile. I found the grave of my cousins, John Marshall Pesterfield, and James Pesterfield there. John Marshall’s stone is very worn and difficult to read. It has a beautiful weeping willow at the top, signifying perpetual mourning or grief and a cryptic triangle with the letters LPF. I’m still researching to find out what this means if you have any clues I’d like to hear them! I found a record of the inscription at the archives. It reads, John Marshall son of John & EO Pesterfield September 21, 1829-November 3, 1862 Aged 33 years, 1 month and 13 days. Sleep on my son and take thy rest for death stands ready a the door, his soul in bliss is now above, his friend on earth bereft! Records show that John Marshall had been a marshall in Loudon, Tennesee1and at the time of his death a marshal in Knoxville, Tennessee.2 Family Feud On July 29,1862, he married Margaret Shetterly. 3 Less than one month later in August, John Marshall was accidentally shot when a gun dropped by a soldier getting off the train discharged and shot him in the ankle. The wound became infected and he died from complications the following November. Obviously, his family was heartbroken and they blamed and resented the new wife. To make matters worse, she was named the executor of his estate. A lawsuit was filed against her by his father John Pesterfield.4 According to court documents, John Pesterfield (John Marshall’s father) claims that Margaret deserted John Marshall after he was shot and did not return until after John Marshall died on November 3, 1862. He further claims she only returned to be the administrator of his estate and gain his assets. Court documents can reveal a lot of family secrets. And this one did not disappoint! The court documents revealed that: John Marshall and his new wife lived with his parents. His mother and sister took care of him, not his wife. In return, he furnished their home with various items, a feather bed, a mattress, a clock, two calico comforters, five split cane chairs, picture frame, bureau, clothing, the family Bible, blacksmith tools and various other household items. Evidently, Margaret thought that everything should be hers, despite the briefness of their marriage, and sent a deputy to get it. And the fight was on! Depositions given during the trial give us a glimpse of some of the family dynamics. All of the adult children lived with the parents and their wages were pooled to support the family as a whole. A big area of contention was the blacksmithing tools. According to a deposition given by his father, the blacksmithing tools were bought by John Marshall for his brother James to use. The sister, Catherine, further states in her deposition, that James had a drinking problem and John Marshall bought the tools in the hope that James would work in the family blacksmith shop and quit drinking. It took 6 years for the courts to decide how to divide up the assets of the estate. I’ll keep the outcome short and sweet, the wife received only the items that John Marshall had given to her during their brief marriage, the household items were to be kept by the parents. Each paid half of the court costs and the legal conflict ended. The emotional conflict, surely, lasted much longer. Recorded in the stones The gravestones of the brothers leave a record of lives cut short. John Marshall died at age 33 years, 1 month and 13 days and James died at 33 years, 1 month and 20 days. Such short lives, but tragically, not unheard of during this period of history.5 End of the line As for the rest of the John Pesterfield family, none besides John Marshall married and there were no descendants. Sister Catherine was the last surviving member of the family and was the executor of her brother William’s probate in 1900.6 Catherine lived the last several years of her life in the Mount Rest Home7 and died sometime after 1905. John Pesterfield, the father, was the brother of my great-great-great-grandfather David Pesterfield. The East Tennessee History Center Be sure to visit The East Tennessee Historical Society’s website it has a wealth of information for the researcher. If you are planning a research trip to Tennessee a visit to the East Tennessee History Center in downtown Knoxville is a must. It houses the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Museum of East Tennessee History, the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection and the Knox County Archives. Be sure to allow several days of research, you’ll need it! Newspapers.com – Loudon Free Press – 18 Nov 1853, Page 3. Williams´ Knoxville Directory, City Guide, and Business Mirror, 1859, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989, Knoxville, Tennessee, Ancestry.com. “Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-15208-40928-89?cc=1619127 ), 004646471 > image 2281 of 3007; county courthouses, Tennessee. John Pesterfield vs. Margaret A. Pesterfield Adm of J.M. Pesterfield, Knox County Chancery Court Record # 1383, Knox County Archives, Knoxville, Tennessee. The Graves of Old Gray Cemetery, Transcribed by Robert A. McGinnis, 2007, page 39, Knox County Archives, Knoxville, Tennessee. Administrators Executors and Guardians Bonds, 1859-1905,7 Jul 1900, Knox, Tennessee, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Provo, UT, USA Knoxville, Tennessee, City Directory, 1905, 2011,Ancestry.com.