Thankful Thanksgiving Day Thursday

As I sit here in my home this Thanksgiving, I want to thank my ancestors.  I have been exploring backwards for several years now and every time I discover a new gem or connect with a distant cousin, I am thankful for those that have gone before me.  I just wanted to write a short bit about a few.

 

I am thankful for my great-grandfather Peter Kersten for embarking across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life here in America.  He was 21-year-old, and in his native country of Germany, it was not the familial custom to acquire land from his parents, so he was left with little options.  He chose to come to the new land, America.  The year was 1893, it was known as the Progressive Era, a period of widespread social activism and political reform in the United States.  Support for prohibition was growing as was woman’s suffrage (source:  The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project).  The irony is Peter was a brewer by trade until Prohibition (1920-1933).  According to the 1930 US Census, he was an Elevator Operator.  The effect of prohibition was so profound that he had to change occupations.

Kersten Family

Kersten Family

I am also thankful for my grandfather, Lacy Luke Sublett, he was born in 1909, he was too young for World War I, but when the Second World War came along, he had incurred an injury to his leg that would keep him home.  This had to be difficult to see your other friends and neighbors go off to fight the Axis powers.  I consider him the family chameleon.  He was born in the country on a tobacco farm but made his way to the city of Lynchburg at a young age.  He started out on his own living in Lynchburg as a shipping clerk in 1921.  He married his first wife in 1931.  By 1934 he was working as a Life Insurance Agent for Provident Relief Association of Washington D.C.  He met and married my grandmother, Odelle.  They went on to have two children, my mom and my Aunt Carol.  He worked for a couple different Insurance Agencies until he went to work for Conner Produce Company.  He continued to work for them throughout the war.

Lacy and his daughters

Lacy and his daughters

Lastly, I am thankful for Margaret Agnes Kersten, my paternal grandmother, whom I have never had a chance to meet.  She was a first generation German-American growing up on the south side of Chicago.  Her and her brother during prohibition and she came of age during the roaring 1920’s.  I often wonder how she introduced Fred Whitehead to her parents.  He was a Georgia born, Army man who was working in Chicago at the Army Recruiting Offices when they met.  He had been born and raised Baptist and Margaret was a devout Catholic.  They married and went on to have three children.

Margaret and her Parents

Margaret and her Parents

Although I often write about dead people, I am most thankful for my family that is living in my life today.  My parents are both so warm and loving.  I am so very blessed to have the best siblings and sibling in-laws, nieces and nephews.  So, take the time today to let the “family” in your life how thankful you are for them.  I am thankful for mine.

 

Source:

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, retrieved 11/24/19 from https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/progressive-era.cfm

 

 

 

A biography of Leroy Hicks

Leroy Hicks was born to Blansford and Mary Polly Peters Hicks in 1806 in Amherst County, Virginia.  He is my 3rd great-grandfather.  Leroy was the oldest of 11 children born to Blansford and Mary.  Through research it looks like he stayed his entire life in Amherst.  Thomas Jefferson was the President of the United States in 1806.

Amherst County Virginia, was formed in 1761 from parts of Albemarle County.  The major crop raised in Amherst was tobacco.  The James River forms the eastern boundary.  The Appalachian mountains help form the western boundary.

On 4 February 1834, Leroy married Permelia Ware in Amherst County.  The couple went on to have 10 children.  Andrew Jackson was the President from 1829-1837.

Child Year of Birth
William 1834
Robert D 1836
James 1838
John Nicholas 1843
Margaret V 1844
Sarah Ann 1846
Robert L 1847
Charles W 1848
Lemuel Dabney 1849
Mary Ann Elizabeth 1854

 

The first thing that seems odd is that two children were named Robert.  This may not actually be the case, the Census takers didn’t always hear or write things correctly.  And, if you have that many children you might forget one or two.

According to the 1840 US Census, Leroy was living with his wife in Amherst County.  There were 6 total people.  The 1840 Census only broke individuals out by race, age and sex.  So we know that there were two boys under the age of 5 (Robert D and James), 1 boy between 5-10 (William), 1 male between 30-40 (Leroy), 1 female between 20-30 (Permelia), 1 free male person of color between 10-24.  I did look at the US Slave Schedules for 1850 and 1860, I did not find anything to indicate that he owned slaves.

In the 1850 census, we learn that Leroy’s family lives in the Eastern District of Amherst County.  The names are confirmed.  We also see that the value of Leroy’s real estate is $150 dollars.  His family also lives near his brothers Preston and Bluford.  During this time period the slavery debate was raging across the United States.

In the 1860 Census, Leroy’s family is still living in Amherst and Abraham Lincoln was elected President.    The value of his person estate is listed at $390 dollars, his eldest son is still living at the residence has a personal estate of $275 dollars.  We have the children’s name and ages.  I will have to look to see which of his sons if any went to fight in the Civil War.

Child Age
William 26
Robert D 24
James 20
John Nicholas 18
Margaret V 16
Sarah Ann 12
George S 10
Charles W 16
Lemuel Dabney 8
Mary Ann 6

 

In 1866, his wife of 32 years dies.  Leroy was 60 years old.

In the 1870 Census, Leroy and his family are living still living in Amherst County.  The value of his personal estate is listed as $100.  I wonder if the value is diminished because of the state of the Union or if he saw father time coming and gave his land and assets to his children.  Another interesting item on this census is that the census asks about the ability to read and write.  The census indicates that the three boys and the oldest girl living in the home cannot read or write.  The youngest daughter, Mary, age 14 is listed as attending school.

Leroy dies on 20 March 1871 in Amherst Virginia.  It is unknown where he is buried.  In June 2012, I went on a genealogical visit with my mom, aunt and sister to Amherst, Virginia.  We visited three Hicks cemeteries, but some stones were in rough shape.  I did not find his.

I usually like to add pictures to my stories but I didn’t have anything that fit.  So, instead I am going to put some pictures from the genealogical visit in 2012.  I was so blessed to have this time to learn from my Mom and Aunt.  Their stories give shape to the facts and figures of genealogy.

In from of Hicks Country Store

In from of Hicks Country Store

Formerly Hicks Property

Formerly Hicks Property

Mom and Carol

Mom and Carol

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Follow Up Friday DNA revisited

I know I haven’t written in some time.  A lot has been going on.  I was teaching a couple of online classes.  My dog, Junie passed away about 7 weeks ago after a long illness.  My niece got married.  So, a great number of factors have been keeping me away.  The biggest, is probably writers block.  I feel that I have done most of the stories that came easy.  I have to dig deeper as a writer and genealogist to get to some new ones.  I am working towards that.  But, that also means more researching and less writing.

While in Kentucky for the wedding, my mother surprised me by getting her DNA tested through Ancestry.  This was a wonderful surprise and led to many discussions during the wedding weekend with the family.  I had tested my own DNA with Ancestry several months prior.  Trying to explain the different DNA processes to others when I barely knew it myself was a challenge.  So, I came back from the trip and did some reading.  This is what I have learned as it pertains to my family.

 

First, the test that I did on my father is called a YDNA test (Family Tree DNA).  This test traces the Y-chromosome through the direct paternal line.  The reason for this was due to the fact that I have my major brick wall at the 6th great-grandfather of Samuel Whitehead.  This test only tests the Y chromosome, that is passed on through the males (in our case, Larry, Fred, Walter, George, etc.).  As a result it does not test the autosomal DNA like the Ancestry test.  The YDNA test investigates deep ancestry.  It is good for surname studies and looking at migration patterns of various Haplogroups.  It has not produced the smoking gun that I had hoped.  But, I have not given up on it yet.

Second, I tested myself with an autosomal DNA test.  This is the test that Ancestry does.  This is the test of the 22 pairs of autosomes.  These tests are used for recent ancestry, determining genetic cousins.  This test provides an admixture analysis also known as Biogeographical ancestry.  “An admixture analysis is a method of inferring someone’s geographical origins based on an analysis of their genetic ancestry (ISOGG Wiki).”  This is also the test that my mother had done.  The benefits of this genetic testing is that it tries to provide an estimate of one’s ethnicity.  This is very fun for the average person.  It is not as important for the dedicated genealogist, who is more concerned in validating connections.

Lastly, one needs to take these results with the grain of salt.  These tests are still new and the companies responsible for making these estimates are not as accurate as they will be.  By thinking of them as stepping-stones for future inquiries, you will not be unsatisfied.

 

As far as my family goes; this is what I know.

Paternally, I know I have German roots.  My father’s mother was 100% German.  The Whitehead name however has been thought to be English.  But, since I have not made a connection to Europe, it still alludes me.

Maternally, I know I have French roots.  My mother’s father’s name Sublett derives from a well-known Huguenot family, Soblet.  However, on the Moss side, I have not been able to get a connection to Europe.  The name however, lends itself to English and Welsh.

Krista   Betty  
Europe West 41% Europe West 36%
Ireland 13% Ireland 26%
Scandinavia 13% Scandinavia 22%
Great Britain 10% Great Britain 10%
Iberian Peninsula 10% Iberian Peninsula 4%
Italy/Greece 8% Italy/Greece <1%

 

The Scandinavia is the ethnicity that struck us the most, as we do not have any knowledge of having family in this region.  However, I have read recently, this is one of the areas that Ancestry has been criticized for.  According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy,

The Genetic Ethnicity Summary (of Ancestry) consistently overestimates the Central European and Scandinavian ancestral components for people whose ancestors were from the British Isles. The ancestral component from the British Isles is overestimated for people whose ancestors were from continental Europe. Overall, the European ancestry predictions tend to be inaccurate.

Regardless, the main benefit of doing DNA testing on Ancestry is that you can link your genetic matches to your ancestry tree and that is a pretty cool feature.

 

So, I will continue to explore backwards

 

 

 

 

 

ISOGG Wiki retrieved on 9/30/16 from http://www.isogg.org/wiki

The Barn

 

Imagine for a minute you are going down an old country road with its twists and turns and in the distance you see an old barn.  What goes through your mind?  I will tell you what goes through mine.  I wonder what type of barn it is.  Is it a tobacco barn, used to store and dry tobacco?  Is it a livestock barn, used to shelter and house livestock?  Is it used to store tractors and other implements?  Barns were built to solve problems for the farmer and to serve a multitude of functions.

There is a show on television called Barnyard Builders we have been watching.  The premise is the restoration and re-purposing of old barns in America.  They look at the way the barn was built, what kind of lumber, what type of notches.  Every time I watch it, I can’t help but think of the barn at the Whitehead Homeplace.

When I did the genealogical trip in May 2015, we did go see the barn.  But since I hadn’t seen the show, I hadn’t really appreciated it as an artifact that it is.  If I had, I would have taken more pictures.  Maybe my cousin Sara will take some for me.  The inside has been reconfigured by the hunters that lease the property.  However, you can still see the original beams inside.  I am not sure when it was built, but I would have to imagine it was after the Civil War when he married Cena Ann and moved to the Home Place.

Stone and Wood Barn

Stone and Wood Barn

5-barn at the homeplace2

The barn at the home place is made from large hand cut stone and wood.   I believe it has a metal roof.  Cousin Sara told me earlier they were going to put a new roof on it this year.

The barn stored the horse and mules.  It is a short walk from the homeplace.  I just found George Wiley Whitehead’s Will online, and I now know the names of his live stock.  In his last will and testament he directed that Viz and Beck his mules to be sold, as well as Sallie, a Sorrel mare and Belle a Bay mare.

The Home Place

The Home Place

I think that our ancestors would be proud to know that this barn is still being cared for by the family some 150 years later.  Thanks Sara!

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Family Heirlooms

 

While exploring backwards, I have become the repository for some of our family’s heirlooms.  I could not be more proud.  However, in order to be a good custodian, you want to know the story behind the object or objects.

I have my great-grandfather Peter Kersten’s revolver.  It is a top-break Iver Johnson.  It is a very old gun.  I suspect he purchased it so after he arrived in the United States.   Peter immigrated in 1893.  The model that I have is probably from 1895.

Peter and his gun

Peter and his gun

As discussed previously, I am the custodian for the Whitehead Family Bible.  You can read about it here:  https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/the-bible/

I also have two books that my grandfather, Fred Whitehead had in school.  One that I received from my cousin Sara, and just recently, my sister, Kathy passed on the Fryes Higher Geography book.  Inside the book, it has my grandfather’s signature and a date of September 16, 1913.  That is over 100 years old that he was holding this book.  He used this textbook in high school.

Fred's textbook

Fred’s textbook


September 1913

September 1913

Most recently, my sister let me take home a portion of a tea set of two mugs and a sugar bowl.  It is unknown if there were more pieces at one time.  The history of the set as we know is that it came from my German Grandparents, Peter and Anna Kersten.  After inquiring with my paternal Aunts, neither of them knew anything about it.   I am stuck without a story.  You see, the set has images of the Cherbourg Swing Bridge that was created in 1885 in Cherbourg-Octeville, France.  This is on the English Channel.  Therefore, it is unknown how my great-grandparents come to have this piece.  I am left to wonder.  Maybe it was a house-warming gift from a family member.  Maybe they took a trip at one point after they were married; a honeymoon even.  Maybe Anna found it at a flea market or estate sale.  Who knows?

Anna Kersten's tea set

Anna Kersten’s tea set

I think I will try to my second cousin, 2x removed, Father Ron.  Maybe he can shed some insight.

Heirlooms.  You do not need to fill your house with everything they owned, but to share these priceless family artifacts with each other is what genealogy is all about.  Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

 

 

 

A Revolutionary Connection

One of the great things about genealogy and these National holidays is that I can put my family in the context of the times.  Therefore, this weekend as we celebrate the birth of our nation 240 years ago, I can marvel in the fact that I know that my ancestor Benjamin Sublett was a patriot fighting England for our Independence.

Benjamin was born to Pierre Louis Soblet and his wife Marte Martain on 23 April 1733 in Goochland, Virginia.  Benjamin is my fifth great-grandfather.  Benjamin was the sixth child born in this union.  His parents were Huguenots.  They fled France to Virginia in 1700.

Benjamin grew up with five brothers and a sister.  Both his parents were deceased prior to the Revolution.  Benjamin married Elizabeth Molly Jordan when he was 29 years old (24 June 1762).  Together they had nine children.

Benjamin was part of a variety of Regiments during the Revolutionary war, including the 5th and 11th Regiment.  According to a Sons of the American Revolution Membership application, Benjamin was first a Private and then a corporal in Captain James Grey’s Company of Foot; he was a Corporal of Major Stephenson’s Company.  He enlisted on 6 December 1776 and was discharged on 9 December 1779.  Benjamin has the distinction of having served under General George Washington at Valley Forge (source: Valley Forge Muster Roll).  He was discharged as a Sergeant (Cameron, 2008).

Muster Roll

Muster Roll

On 20 June 1783, Benjamin received a land grant (200 acres of land) as payment for his service to his country.  It was this land grant that moved the family to Kentucky (Kentucky Secretary of State, 2016).  Benjamin was fifty years old.  It is somewhat unclear exactly when the family moved to Kentucky.  It appears to be between 1788 and 1800. As his youngest daughter Mary Scott Sublett was born in Charlotte, Virginia on 12 February 1788 and his wife died in Kentucky in 1800.  I will have to look at deed records to get a more precise time.

Military Land Grant

Military Land Grant

Benjamin died around 1815-1816* and is buried in Highland Cemetery, Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky.  He was 82 years old.

*There seems to be some confusion on his date of death.  The marker indicates 1809; however, there seems to be information that there was a will dated 19 May 1815 where he bequeathed his property to his son Benjamin Branch Sublett.  His will was probated February 1816 (Source: Allen, 2008).

Benjamin Sublett Tombstone

Benjamin Sublett Tombstone

Sources:

Valley Forge Muster Roll, Retrieved on 3 of July, 2016 at     http://valleyforgemusterroll.org/muster.asp?id=VA33806

Allen, Cameron, The Sublett (Soblet) Family of Manakintown, King William Parish Virginia, 45th Anniversary Edition, 2008.

Kentucky Secretary of State, Military Register and Land Records, retrieved on July 4, 2016 at http://apps.sos.ky.gov/land/military/revwar/Revdetail.asp?Type=v&warrant=0899.0

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards!  Happy 4th of July!

Photo Friday

Hi everyone!

Today I am going to share a handful of my favorite pictures.  Some you may have seen, and some probably not.  Photographs are terrific because they are a moment in time.  In the early days of photography, it was expensive and only really used for special occasions.  Fast-forward to today, where we each carry a camera in our pocket.  Nevertheless, I always enjoy looking at photographs.  There is always so much to learn from a picture.  Maybe that is why they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

This is probably one of my top 5  pictures that I have found on my genealogical adventures.  I mean how darling is this?  What proud parents Walter and May would have been to dress them up and get this picture taken.  The year has to be about 1905 or so as Martha was the last born and is little girl in the foreground.  If we assume it was 1905, then the boys George Stevens, Walter Joe and Fred Augustus would have been 9, 7, 4 respectfully.

whitehead family portrait

This next picture is of Lacy Luke Sublett and his wife Virginia Odelle Moss Sublett,, my grandparents.  I love this picture because it shows a funny side of them.  My grandfather died when I was only 11 years old, but I remember him being a fun silly guy.  He could wiggle his ears.  I tried often to do the same, but failed.  I think this picture they are going out for a Halloween party or something else.  It makes me smile.

1-Lacy and Odelle 001

Lacy and Odelle

 

You can see the blonde hair in this black and white picture.  These sisters were born 2 years apart, on the very same day, it must have been hard not having a birthday all to yourself, but this picture is precious as it shows them as sisters and as friends.  My mom and her sister Carol are still close.  I do love the bond between sisters.  I cannot be certain what the year is; but if I was to guess I would say it was 1944.  What do you think Mom? Carol?

Carol and Betty

Carol and Betty

 

Last but not least.  This is my all time favorite.  This is my Aunt Viv and her best friend Lucy fishing.  If you look closely, they are fishing with cane poles and there are two good-looking fish on the line.  What makes this picture awesome is that they are still friends and in touch 60 years later.  Oh, and you probably noticed the religious habit they are both wearing.  I think the white color means they are a Novice in The Order.  Viv, can you let us know?  Regardless, I love this picture because it shows us the beginning of their bond, although they were not born sisters, they became sisters through their faith.

Lucy and Viv

Lucy and Viv

Thanks for reading.  I will keep exploring backwards.  Until next time.