Category Archives: Genealogy

What’s In A Name?

Actions speak louder than words. At least that is what my daddy used to say. He grew up dirt poor in rural Kentucky and farmed land with his own daddy. Parts of the land owned by my paternal ancestors stayed within our family for generations. In fact names also stayed in the family. Let me explain. My oldest son’s name is Luke William. My dad’s name was William Randall. My grandfather’s name was Willie. Willie’s daddy was William Farr. In fact the name William goes all the way back to William Whitnell who was a preacher. He was born in 1796 in North Carolina and fought as a young teenager in the War of 1812. His actions helped save our country and make it what it is today. The land he owned was his payment for his military service and is where this cemetery lies.
About two weeks ago, 10 men got together and cleaned our old family cemetery. It is with delight I saw cemetery stones I had never seen before. This blog post is dedicated to all you genealogy buffs out there. Keep on searching and at some point you just might find your gold mine. These people represent a part of me. Seeing these stones and this cemetery being cleaned up was one of the best gifts I could have ever imagined. There are so many folks I could thank for helping me to locate and clean this place up. I send you warm wishes with this blog! If you are interested in more photos you may go to my dedicated facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfWhitnellJenkins

When You Think You Have Heard It All…..

1940 CENSUS brings together cousins. Roy (my step-dad) and Melda met for the first time after extensive research was done to find relatives from the past.


Recently I shared a heartwarming story about my WWII VET step-dad Roy and his celebration of his 90th birthday ( http://wp.me/p2rYD1-o8 ). Roy grew up very poor and his parents divorced while he was a boy. Roy never knew when his real dad had passed away. One day he asked me if I could find this information out because of the release of the 1940 census. I was able to give Roy his father’s death date and burial location, but the biggest surprise was that we found out he had a half-brother, and a half-sister he did not know about. When you think you have heard it all life throws you a few new curve balls! We were fortunate to contact them both. In fact a reunion is planned for them to meet. I hope they hurry. No one is getting any younger!
I had recently flown home from Montgomery, Alabama 3000 miles to Seattle after witnessing a tender-hearted visit between my step-dad Roy and his cousin Melda. She was also researching her family tree that included Roy. She decided to drive to Montgomery, Alabama for a delightful visit while I was in town. Melda and I found each other through our mutual research.

Roy and Melda discuss their family roots with photo albums as their respective spouses look on. Genealogy work has confirmed their family lines all the way back to Germany.


Melda reminded me in an email of how special this experience was for her. Upon returning home Melda spoke with her elderly mother about meeting Roy: ” I couldn’t help but stare at Roy’s striking ice blue eyes. When I mentioned it to my mother, she said my grandfather had eyes like that.”
While Melda and Roy are second cousins, Melda’s father who has passed away as well as Roy led interesting work lives in the history of Alabama. Melda’s father was a Superintendent of Education during the changing times in Alabama Public Schools serving the children in Alabama. During that same time period, Roy was working as the Director of Veteran Affairs serving our Veterans. Today I give tribute to both men in their work and their lives.

Roy meeting with Governor George Wallace while he served the Veterans of the Military.

Incidental Finding

This document Identifys my three times great grandfather Whit Jenkins in court to obtain a guardian.  Right above his court appearance was a little girl only Identified as a BILL OF SALE.

This document Identifys my three times great grandfather Whit Jenkins in court to obtain a guardian. Right above his court appearance was a little girl only Identified as a BILL OF SALE.

Few human practices bring more rage in my mind then what slavery did to humanity before the civil war ended it. When I was beginning my genealogy work to understand my family, I found my 12-year-old orphaned three times great-grandfather Whit Jenkins obtaining a guardian in 1808. I was so excited about this information. Yet I found an incidental finding right above his name that has haunted me over the last several months. If you look at the document you will see an eight years old girl who had just been sold. She was in court and identified by a bill of sale.
These two children just because of their color and the times that they lived in would lead different lives. Later Whit lived in Kentucky which was a divided state in regards to slavery. Some families in Kentucky would have a union and confederate soldier in the same household. It was horrible times. I just wonder if Whit and this little girl’s eyes met in that court house. Their innocent eyes only glancing for a moment yet both forever changed by the court’s decisions that day. Whatever may have happened when Whit was twelve years old, I am convinced he influenced his own family immensely. My three times great-grandfather made sure three of his sons were union soldiers. Indeed I find this in my documents of my family line. May we never forget what Martin Luther King, Jr Day is all about and be reminded there was a BILL OF SALE in Tennessee of a little girl who was just as important as my three times great grandpa.

Brain “Teasers” from the Grave

Ancestors Almost a year ago, I was at an appointment with my neurosurgeon discussing among other things the possibilities of my brain tumor recurring and what I could do now to help my memory issues. I told him I am not interested in puzzles in the conventional way you think of them or sodoku. He laughed and said, “Well just find something you like that works for you and your brain.” It was shortly after that I became interested in genealogy. I found out so much information that I was starting to write it down to keep up with it. After a month or so of working on my ancestors, I began helping others. I felt like I was putting together real life puzzles.
In the months that have passed by, I realized that when you discover your past, it may make you emotional. You might find out something you did not expect. It is not always for the good either! Here are some of the examples of some of my discoveries from my own ancestors or other folks I assisted with their own research. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Oh, I mean those that are still alive. Better yet, I will not mention any names…..You will see why in a minute…Thank you also to those who taught me alot about research..YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE..THANK YOU FOR HELPING MY BRAIN!!!
1. It was found in one family that an ancestor( an uncle back from the civil war-time) was considered a hero in the south because he killed several Yankees for retribution for losing all his confederate soldier brothers in the war. He kept the buttons off their outfits as souvenirs. After awhile it was said his mother told him to leave the state he was living in because the law was after him. He did move away, but drowned in a river a few years later.
2. Another uncle who was 68 years old (why is it always uncles?) married a woman who was 12 years old. He had grown children and grandchildren older than his 12-year-old wife. This happened in the late 1800’s. They had at least four children together.
3. Another male “family” member was shot dead in the early 1900’s by two women that were sisters. Another find was a young ancestor who was shot dead accidently by his childhood friend.
4. A very rich and wise ancestor who owned much land and was well-known as a “banker” for the town he helped to develop in the late 1700’s hated one of his daughter’s husband. The husband allowed his daughter to die while she was in labor with their child when he could have tried to get her help. He chose not to. My research found a news clipping ad he paid for calling this man every name in the book and making sure this husband knew exactly where he stood with his father-in-law. Can you imagine taking an ad in the paper in this century?
5. A family member finds out she had an uncle she never knew existed. A person also had photos of a great-grandmother and never knew her name. This is found out from find a grave and other information like death records, or census records that identify other children in the household.
6. A family member found out he has a sister living that was 20 years younger than him with the use of the 1940 census and great detective work.
7. A family member finds out they had an ancestor on the Ship The Tennessee at Pearl Harbor when Japan invaded Hawaii.
8. Family members find out their parents are double cousins or worse yet that their parents were sister and brother.
9. A family member finds out their ancestor was a NAZI in WWII.
10. Last but not least, a family member finds out they are related to Conway Twitty, or better yet possibly Napoleon from a DNA match.

Genealogy is not only for HUMANS!

The Love of the English Springer goes way back in our family.

The Love of the English Springer goes way back in our family.

Thirteen years ago when my husband brought our dog Linus home, we knew there was just something about him. My husband was really drawn to him immediately. After I began my genealogy studies I think I began to realize why my husband liked English Springers so much. We found out Dan’s grandpa Russell raised English Springers. My husband states he knew nothing of this until I produced a photo of his grandfather with a litter of them! Maybe that explains our Love of our English Springer! The apple did not fall far from the TREE or maybe this is poetry in motion. Only God can explain such mysteries. Imagine my husband’s surprise when he looked at this photo.

Genealogy on Tour: A Unique Perspective

As a military brat in the ARMY,  I never lived near my extended family for very long. It came with the territory when I was born. Dad was a Command Sargent Major and where ever the government said for him to go we went. When he retired though it was indeed a sad affair for myself.  I remember leaving Hawaii and looking out the back window of our VW waving goodbye to my best friends Ricky and Sandy.  They waved back looking just as sad as my sister and I.  Perhaps it was in this lifestyle of moving alot, I learned a different perspective of life.

Introspection was indeed another matter.  I had never been one to reexamine myself inwardly as much.  I seemed to define myself through my parents as a child growing up which I believe is natural.  However,  when I thought about how my parents defined themselves things became abit more dicey.  For example, my mother is German/Swiss, but she had no idea past her grandmother of her family heritage.  My Dad’s family roots were abit more defined but with many loopholes in his Irish/English heritage.  My husband’s dad and mom both seemed like they knew very little details also.  So in steps me with all the new fangled technology,  www.ancestry.com , library card, and cemeteries and SHAZAM a genealogist novice I have become!

Does all this matter? I think so and I will say it has been tons of fun.  I feel like I have a better take on history. I also believe in some way (mind you maybe this part is a fantasy) that the WORLD could be a better place if we understood each other better and realize we all were at one point intersecting from the same plane.  For example, this story is about the evolution of a woman and really a picture of why womens’ rights were so important: https://alesiablogs.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/pioneer-woman/

Here also are photos I came across from my research that have much meaning to me as they made the past come to life for me.  I usually like to tell you what kind of camera was used with my photography but I did not take these.  I can only say they were very old ones! Enjoy:

A photo found from a google search I did. A lady had put an annoucement on a research site that she had a photo of my husband’s grandpa (right) and her grandpa. It was an amazing find as no one had ever seen this photo before.  circa 1920.

Cousins from my father’s side. circa 1930’s.

Late 1800’s Photo. My 90 year old step dad’s grandpa

My maternal grandma second on the right. circa 1920’s.

My husband’s great uncle. circa 1900~

My husband’s Maternal side. Photo taken circa ~ 1910.

Pioneer Woman

In this photo behind me lived the pioneer woman in rural Kentucky.  Read her true story.

Jen Nova (Jennie) Jenkins was born in rural western Kentucky November 26, 1882.  Jennie was my great, great aunt and a pioneer woman who was the embodiment of the “gentle woman” as told to me by her great granddaughter Joyce Hankins Candela. Women for centuries were seen as second class citizens and most men considered them as property.  This led to extremely difficult lives for women of this era.

Jennie was born to a mentally fragile woman by the name of Sarah Blankenship.  Sarah was not married to Jennie’s assumed father whose surname was Calvert.  The Calverts were some of the founding settlers to the United States migrating to Kentucky.

Homelife for Jennie was unstable.  Her mother Sarah borrowed money to put food on the table to feed the family. James Jones ( J J) Jenkins an elderly man who had accumulated quite a bit of wealth gave her a loan.  At the high watershed of his wealth according to census records he owned 2000 acres. When he demanded repayment, Sarah could not.  For reasons not completely understood by all,  Sarah chose to give her ten year old daughter Jennie away as a servant to him as payment.  J J Jenkins agreed to this.  The outstanding loan was for $100.

J J Jenkins was a widower with five living grown children.  This was an easy way for him to get a servant.  After all he had been a slave owner in the past.  In 1892 at the age of ten,  Jennie began keeping house which included cooking, laundry, and taking care of  J J and his grown children.  Jennie was a mere child doing servant work with no respect.

When Jennie moved in with J J  in his familial  homestead, they lived in a log cabin.  The cabin set back 200 yards from an old graveyard that would come to hold the Jenkins’ ancestors including  J J ‘s  parents, brothers, his first wife, and many more.  The cemetery was above a creek bed in separating the cabin from the dead.

The unobtrusiveness of this cabin gave the illusion of easy maintenance.  It was nothing of the kind.  In this rustic log home, a tall stack of wood by the fireplace accented one wall.  It was expected Jennie would keep the home warm, gather the crops, cook the meals and sew clothes.  At one point,  J J forced Jennie to cut her long auburn hair off so it did not impede her duties.  Jennie’s  granddaughter Joyce states her grandmother held onto the three foot long ponytail in case she would need to sell it to a wig maker.  She was keeping it as security for the future, however, by the time Joyce married Jennie gave it to her granddaughter as a gift.  The faded ponytail is cherished to this day. 

 By 1894, it became apparent to Jennie that J J wanted more from her.  Eventually at the age of 12 on September 20, 1894 the two legally married.  However, the legal age for marriage was 14 so J J wrote she was 15 years old.  Jennie may have not understood the forms since she was did not read at this time.  J J stated he was 68.

Marriage certificate documenting ages of couple.

By the 1900 census, Jennie and J J were living without any of his previous children. The census indicates Jennie had taught herself to read and write by then.  The census also indicated how big the Jenkins ownership of land was with  family members owning surrounding land  on their own farms. The census seems to indicate Whitnell Jenkins property being divided up between his living children.  There were Calverts living next door which could have possibly been grandparents to Jennie. Thomas Jenkins the youngest son of J J was near by on his farm and then there was Polly Jenkins the widow of J J’s oldest brother George on her homestead and Sara Hobby his daughter on another. The older brother was near Lewis Jenkins.  Grandchildren were living near by with the surname Masons and then my own line my great grandpa William Farr Jenkins, a nephew to J J living on a farm with his huge family.  Numerous family members were continuing to live off Whitnell Jenkins original homestead earned from the War of 1812. 

1900 CENSUS documents the Jenkins Family nearby each other. page 1.

 

1900 CENSUS continued.

 

1900 CENSUS continued.

Before the 1910 census, J J and Jennie had four children with three surviving.  As J J ages he became more dependent upon Jennie.  In fact as told to me by Tom Jenkins one of only two living grandson’s of J J’s in an apparent attempt to look younger,  he dyed his gray hair black.  After dyeing his hair, he went to work in the coal mines and while sweating, the dye ran into his eyes causing blindness.  

J J succumbed on Sept 24th 1909 after 15 years of marriage.  Jennie had just turned 27.  She could finally give her real age. 

When J J died , Jennie was left with no means of support.  Perhaps Kentucky State laws did not protect wives yet. For whatever reason, Jennie was on her own. One family member did send her son Leman  off to boarding school and he received a high school degree.  Jennie’s daughters weren’t afforded the same luxury.  After Leman returned from school, he decided to move to St. Louis, Missouri and eventually Jennie joined him with his sisters Clara and Ruby.  Jennie owned nothing yet she was now FREE from the oppressive life she led. She never complained.

Left to Right Ruby Mae, Clara Mae, and Alvin Clinton Hankins

Jennie’s journey allowed her freedom to help herself and take care of her children as she wished.  Being in an environment now of her own making even led her to teach herself to read.  When reminiscing about her grandmother, Joyce said, “She never owned a thing, yet seemed to own the world with all the love she shared with me.  I will never forget as a little girl Jennie sitting on a glider rocker singing while I laid my head on grandma’s lap.” 

Jennie died on her 84th birthday of a heart attack.  She was about to have a party utilizing her first old age pension check when suddenly she began experiencing chest discomfort.  She asked to be taken to the hospital and died within hours of arriving.  Joyce states grandma was a bit of a superstitious woman and would not have wanted to die in her own bed as she would not have liked the family to have had that memory of her.  An amazing pioneer woman again never thinking of herself.

Jennie Jenkins

This author would like to thank the contributions to this story:  Joyce Hankins Candela, Tom Jenkins, Shelia Hart, Diana Hazelbaker, and Peggy Gilkey .  In my research, I talk to many hoping to get the most honest picture of a subject.  It is my hope and wish that I have done this with great aunt Jennie’s legacy. I would caution the reader as you make commentary in your mind of Jennie and J. J. that you remember the culture of their times. Please feel free to comment on this post and we will see you all on my next installment.

 

I looked death in the eyes and I could not help her.

 

Finding myself through writing.

Finding myself through writing.

DAY ONE OF BLOGGING:
In my quest to understand my life, I had decided recently to discover my past. I have spent the last 4 months looking at my family and our roots. I had seen history being played out in the lives of so many of my dead relatives. It’s been a moving experience and has compelled me to tell the story of the dead. I began thinking about blogging about my genealogy discoveries , but certainly did not want to bore folks. So today I begin this journey, but it was not easy to get to this point. Recently I had an experience that influenced me beyond measure to create this blog and get rolling with it.
On May 1st, I had to go to the pharmacy as I usually do almost every two weeks for the past year.. Because of this, I had developed a nice relationship with my pharmacist. She was always busy, however, she made the time to say a kind word to you. She wanted to take a minute with you trying to understand where you were in your life and with your health. She knew I had fought a hard fight with an infection that riddled my body very weak last year. She saw me through a rough year as my pharmacist. That meant something to me. This particular afternoon, she looked so tired and run down so I just picked up my medicine and walked away from the counter. For some reason, I decided to look around at her as she went back to counting someone else’s pills and she must have felt my presence looking upon her. I saw death in her eyes and knew it, but walked off.
I know your thinking how can I say this? I don’t know really how I can, but I knew it. I gave her a quick glance of acknowledgement and a small smile and that was the last time I saw her. I then forgot about the feeling I had until 11 days later when I made my usual by monthly trip into the pharmacy. There was a note up on the counter explaining that she had died suddenly on May 3rd less than 48 hours after our eyes met for the last time. In the process of assimilating this information, I thought back on that brief encounter of our eyes meeting for a split second where I thought she looked like she was dying. I felt ashamed and guilty.. Why could I not have done something? After all I am a nurse and have been trained to help others with their health issues also.
In the days that have followed her untimely death, I learned more about this lovely woman. She sang in her Lutheran church choir. She also always tried to give a helping hand to those that did not have enough. She even paid for her patients’ meds when they did not have enough money, Her story made me think it needed to be told. In fact a lot of life stories need to be told. She made me realize this.