Sunday’s in the Country

My mom and my Aunt Carol were southern city slickers.  They grew up in the city limits of Lynchburg in the 1950’s.  Their parents however were not raised in the same way.  In fact, my grandfather, Lacy Sublett, grew up on a farm in rural Campbell County.  Naruna was and still is just a dot on a map.  A place to get gas on a country road.  A country drive to sing songs and read billboards, like Burma Shave.

burmashave1

Their grandfather John Thomas Sublett was a tobacco farmer.  I have written about him specifically here.  https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/john-thomas-sublett/

My mother recently gave me some old photos.  Several of the images were from the Sunday’s they would spend in the country at their grandparent’s home.  Their cousins would be there also.  I ask my mother and aunt for their memories of going to the country here is some of what they said.

 

Carol:

On most Sundays, we went to the country, granny and grandpa Sublett house in Naurna. It had a chicken coop, smoke house for curing hams, not cigarettes, a big wheel to sharpen knives, out house, a water hand pump on the back porch, which we all drank from, same ladle. We read Burma Shave signs on the way down.  We also held our arms out the window, letting the wind blow, and sing. Cars didn’t have any air conditioning.

They also had a clay tennis court, big deal during those days. We would play with these little rubber dolls, about 3-inches tall. We would play under a big tree that had moss under it. Would play for hours. My aunts, uncles, and cousins would be there. The adults would hand churn ice cream. It was delicious.

 

My mom wrote back: well, I just remember singing ‘Naruna, Naruna, we’re going to Naruna!’  So, that means that we were happy to go. Played with cars under a big tree that had lots of green moss underneath so guess we made roads, etc.  Slopped the hogs.  All the adults sat around in a circle and talked.  They had a cherry tree, I can remember eating so many, and grandpa said they would give me a stomachache but I never had one.  I loved climbing the mimosa tree because the branches were easy to climb and it wasn’t too high from the ground.  Loved stopping by Jack’s Place in Rustburg either going on coming home.  Loved their hot dogs with chili.

 

My Aunt Carol then wrote that my mother had tried to killer in the cherry tree.  “Betty Lou almost kind me in the cherry tree. My brown sweater got caught on a branch and I was choking and Betty calmly went in and told the adults who came and rescued me.” My mother corrected her stating it was a mimosa tree but Carol still thinks it was the Cherry tree. By the way, my mom never discounted the tale of the attempted murder!  Sisters!

If you find yourself with pictures that you do not want, just send them to me.  I will put them to good use.

 

Here are some pictures from that time-period.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards!

lacy_sublett_john_thomas_on ground with girls

I love how the men are down on the blankets with the children

adults in chairs on farm

Visiting on a Sunday afternoon

adults in front of jtsublett

Notice how the men and women are in different circles and they used every type of chair imaginable.

mom_carol_larry_narshella

Cousins

Photo Friday

New Year and new resolve to write more often.  My Aunt Carol recently sent me a package with several family pictures and some genealogy information that she had.  Thank you!!!  Some of the pictures I had seen before but many I have not.  We are going to talk about some of my favorites from this package.

The first one is a photograph at Christmas with mom (upper right) and Carol’s (upper left) cousins on their dad’s side.  Nashella (lower right) and Larry are the children of Lacy’s sister Mae.  Patricia (lower left).  One of the two girls had to show off her dolly.

mom_carol_cousins_christmas.jpg

The second photo I wanted to share is one of my favorites.  It depicts three Sublett siblings and their spouses.  From left to right: Odelle and Lacy Sublett, Mae and Carrington Burruss and Claudia and Harry Foster.  Annie is not pictured.  She moved away while the three other Sublett Siblings stayed in the Lynchburg area.  I do not know where the picture was taken.  It was definitely taken in the country, not Lynchburg.  Maybe Mom and Carol can tell.  I like this picture because it looks like they all have on their Sunday best.

sublett siblings and spouses

Sublett Siblings

This next picture is the earliest picture I think I have seen with my grandmother, Odelle and her mother Carrie Lou Hicks Moss.  My grandmother was born in October of 1916 in Petersburg, Virginia.  This was Carrie’s third pregnancy.  She had two children earlier, both whom died.  So, when I look at this picture of this mother holding onto her child like she is, I see a woman holding on and not wanting to let go.  It has to be the worse thing in the world to lose a child.  I recently had a close friend that had to go through this.  But this picture is one of hope also.  Carrie went on to have three more children after my grandmother was born.

carrie hicks moss and little odelle 1918

Carrie Lou and Virginia Odelle

 

To conclude my Photo Friday, I am including two pictures of unknown children.  This is a reminder to all of us that we must label the back of our pictures with an archival pen, so future generations will know who they are!   Look at how cute they are.  I wish I knew who they were.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Claudia and the Foster Farm

keyacre farm logo

During my 2012 trip to Virginia, one of the remarkable things I got to do was to visit one of my families working farm.  You must understand that I was born north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  I have been to my Great-Grandfather’s homeplace.  However, they are raising timber now and not animals.  Joan Foster, she was the wife of my first cousin, once removed, still was operating Keyacre Farm.  The farm had been in the Foster family for at least a century.  Joan and her husband, Charles T. Foster changed the crops and livestock to be more progressive.  The original farmhouse remained upright, albeit not habitable.  It was this farmhouse that gave me the inspiration for this post.  My great-aunt Claudia Sublett married into the Foster family and the farm.

foster farm2

When I start to look at an ancestor to write about, I typically start with the US Census records.  It is here that you find a lot of semi-factual information.  I say semi-factual, because Census records typically are full of errors.  Sometimes the error was from the census taker.  He or she tended to spell names phonetically.  Sometimes the error was from the person giving the information.  Regardless, you have to take this information with the grain of salt.  It is more exciting to write about an ancestor that is not as far removed and you have first-hand accounts.  That is the case for Claudia Sublett.  My mother and Aunt have been able to help flush out the stories within the facts.

Foster home unknown yearold foster house with ivy

Claudia Sublett was the first child born to John Thomas Sublett and Georgia Kate Sublett.  Claudia was born on 5 October 1902 in Campbell County Virginia.  Her father was a farmer.  Her mother Georgia kept house.

In the 1910 Census, the family is living in Falling River, Campbell County.  Claudia lives with her parents, her sister Annie and her brother Lacy.

In the 1920 Census, the family is still in Falling River, Campbell County.  Claudia lives with her parents, her siblings Annie, Lacy and Mae.  Also living in the home was her grandfather George Bland Sublett, he was 74 years old.  Claudia’s youngest sibling Clarice “Pete” was born when she was 17 years old.

At some point, Claudia marries Harry Fran Foster.  It seems likely that Claudia and Harry got married around 1922 or 1923.  I haven’t been able to find a marriage certificate.

If you look at the 1930 US Census, one of the questions asked was “age at marriage,” It was listed as 20 years old, Claudia would have been 20 in October of 1922. When Claudia married, she moved into the big farm house located at 1838 Hat Creek, Road, Brookneal.  Harry had taken over the store and the farm.

Claudia and her husband Harry are living together when the 1930 Census is taken.  They are living in Falling River, Campbell County. Also living with them is her mother-in-law and father-in- law, her sister-in-law, Myrtie Baker, and 9 year old niece, Eleanor Baker.  Her husband’s occupation is listed as a merchant.  We do know from family history that this was the big farm house located in Brookneal.  My mother tells me that they ran a grocery store.  They are also listed as having a farm; however the Farm Schedules have for the most part been lost.

By the 1940 Census, Claudia is living with her husband Harry, their two sons (Charles and Anthony) in Falling River, Campbell County.  Also listed in the home is her mother-in-law, Eula Foster, her sister-in-law, Myrtie Baker, and 18 year old niece, Eleanor Baker.   Her husband’s occupation is listed as a merchant, retail grocery.  They also have a farm in this census.

When I asked my mother about her Aunt Claudia, this is what she said “She was the oldest sister.  Did lots of housework and did canning and had lots of African violets.  She and Harry were the richest of the family.  She drove a pink Thunderbird car.  They owned a grocery store and farmed with their two sons, Tony and Charles.  We use to play a lot of croquet when we went to see them.  Stayed at their house some summers and got so bored and homesick.”

During our genealogical trip to Virginia in 2012, we went to see the farm where Claudia raised her sons.  Claudia passed away in 2000.  The property, known as Keyacre Farm, was transferred to Charles Foster and his wife Joan.  Charles was an airplane pilot and farmer, however he passed away before my visit.  Together Joan and Charles kept the farm going.  According to Joan Shrader Foster’s obituary, they raised registered Angus Cattle.

 

 

While preparing for this piece, I conducted a general google search of Keyacre Farm.  The Foster’s farm was put on the market following Joan’s death in 2015. Here is an excerpt from the advertisement:

Beautiful working farm (157 acres) has been in the same family for well over 100 years.  3,100±SF, 2-story home place (needs renovation), large metal shop with office, shop & bath with attached shed, large metal feed barn with feed/hay storage area, cattle working area, and shop, 3 silos, metal hay storage building, milking barn, windmill.  Farm has long state road frontage, rolling terrain, good mix of pasture/crop land.  Feed tanks, cattle working gates, corrals and concrete feed bunkers (Farm Auction Guide, 2018).

keyacre farm action flier

The Keyacre Farm is also listed on the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services list of Century Farms (VDACS, 2018).

Until later, I will keep exploring backwards.

 

 

Sources:

Farm Auction Guide, retrieved 5/24/18 at https://www.farmauctionguide.com/index.php/virginia-auctions/absolute-1547-acre-keyacre-farm-s-300640.html

Henderson Funeral, retrieved 5/24/18 at http://hendersonfuneral.net/obituaries/joan-s-foster/92/

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, retrieved 5/24/18 http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/conservation-century-farms-campbell.shtml

 

 

William J. Sublett

William J. Sublett was my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was the third child born to Matthew and Frances (Key) Sublett about 1808 in Campbell County, Virginia.  Notice I do not have an exact date of birth.  This date is extrapolated from US Census records.  I started this post a while ago, then I realized that I had merged different ancestors together.  This is a common error in ancestry especially when the names are similar and born in similar places.

It appears William J. Sublett was married three times.  His first wife was Frances Jennings on 1 June 1834.  We do not know much about her.

William and Frances had a son, Matthew D. Sublett, in 1835.  Maybe Frances dies in childbirth, because William then marries Sarah Hamersley 25 July 1836.  We know these facts because these marriage records have been published.  Sarah and William have two sons and a daughter.  James W. born 1838, George Bland born 1847 and Melinda F. born 1849.

Matthew and George both go to fight in the Civil War.

Matthew was listed as a substitute on the Civil War Muster Rolls  with the 18th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, Company G.  Matthew tragically dies at the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) on 30 Aug 1862.  This means he went in the place of more wealthy draftees.   I will detail his entire story at a later date.  This is very interesting because on the Whitehead side of my family, I have a relative that was not in the Revolutionary war because he was the wealthy one.

George Bland also served in the Civil War. You can read about him here: https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/george-bland-sublett/

Returning to William J. Sublett, he lived a long life.

The 1850 Census is the first US Census with names.  This makes things much easier for the genealogist!  William and Sarah are living in the Northern District of Dinwiddie County with their children Matthew, James, George and Melinda.  William is listed as an overseer.  I presume this means he worked on a plantation as a supervisor over the slave labor.  This is hard to come to grips even 10 years after starting my genealogy journey.  I understand it was a profession of the era in which he was born.  But, I still get a little uneasy writing about it.  But, I am also a believer that we learn from our mistakes.  My father taught me that.

Dinwiddie County

By the 1860 Census, William and his family moved to Campbell County.  The Census indicates he lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County.  His real estate is listed as $970, and his personal estate is listed as $435.  He is listed as a farmer.  He lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County, Virginia with his wife, Sarah, his son George B, his daughter Melinda F.  Also residing in the home is a black male, age 60.  He is not listed as a slave.  His name is listed as Lewis Cobb.  This is important due to the time in which it occurred.  It looks like William had earned enough money to make it on his own.

Campbell County

 

In the 1870 Census, William is living with his wife Sarah.  Also living with them is George Bland (my second great-grandfather), back from the war with his wife, Timotheus Jane Bailey and their two young daughters, Ida and Emma.  The most interesting notation is a young black boy, aged 10 years old living with the family and listed as a nurse on the census.  What does that even mean?  The family is listed as living in the Eastern Division of Campbell County, Virginia.  The listed real estate value is $350 and the Personal Estate is $200.  The value of his real estate had diminished by $600, over 71%.  I believe this is a result of the ravages the Civil War had on the economy.

His second wife, Sarah, dies 11 July 1878.  Two months later William marries again.

At 69 years old, he marries for the third time to Mary Elizabeth Moore on 15 September 1878.  His wife was 45 years his junior.  According to the 1880 US Census.  William, his wife Elizabeth are living in Falling River, Campbell County.  Elizabeth’s younger brother Thomas, 18 was also living there.  Also living in the home was a cook and the cook’s two young sons.  This census does not ask any financial information.

The 1880 Census is the last place I find William Sublett.  He would have been 72, so it is likely he died before the 1890 Census.  I have not found his grave at this point.  But I will keep looking.  It is interesting the life story you can build just by looking at census records and putting them in the context of history.

I will continue to do work on my ancestors.

Until later I will be exploring backwards!

Friday Photos

I hope your holiday season is going well.  I know it has been a while… One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get back on track with my blog.

 

Recently my cousin Andy posted several pictures on Facebook that I had never seen before.  I thought I would talk about a few of them since I hadn’t written in a while.  I have actually been working on a post of my 3rd Great-Grandfather William Sublett.  Midway through my post, I realized that I had merged two different William Sublett’s into one person.  This happens from time to time.  I will have to untangle that web, so I will get back to that after Christmas.  For now, let’s focus on some pictures.  They are much easier and so much more fun.

Sublett Sisters

The first picture is of my grandfather’s sisters.  He was the only boy and 4 sisters.  From left to right, Mae, Claudia and Pete.  According to my Aunt Carol, they all called him Brother.

Say Cheese!

 

I love this picture of my siblings and my grandparents.  We all have our cheesy grins.  I am smiling ear to ear with my two front teeth missing and my younger brother Joe is looking at me.  Look at his hair, he was such a toe-head.  From the looks of the picture, it was probably 1973 or so.

This next picture is of my mom’s sister Carol, her husband Jack and my cousins Andy and Leigh Ann.  The odd thing, is when I remember my two cousins, this is the image that come to mind.  Not the exact image, but their likeness in this picture.  This age if you will.  I believe as we got older, the trips to see each other came less often.  I am so glad that I have been able to reconnect with them both over the last couple years.

Johnson Family

This is still one of my favorite pictures of my grandparents.  Look at Lacy squeezing his wife.  He loved her so much.  That tree is fantastic, look at the ornaments and the tinsel hanging.  This could have been their first Christmas as empty-nesters.  My parents had married earlier that spring.

Lacy loving Odelle

Remember, keep taking pictures but take the time to print them so they will not be lost on old technology.  If you have some old photos, please feel free to send them to me.  I scan them all so we will have them in both technologies!

 

May the blessings of the Christmas Season be yours!

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

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

 

 

 

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