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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.