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Category Archives: genealogy research

a tiny snapshot of Georgia history – and “Cousin John” Thrasher

“Cousin John” Thrasher – my 3rd Great Uncle

“Cousin John Thrasher” had the first mercantile store in what became Atlanta, Georgia.

There is a bronze plaque on The Federal Reserve Bank, Atlanta, Georgia, which reads as follows:

Site of First Mercantile Business, 1839, The General
Store of Johnson and Thrasher.  Home, 1842-45, of Mr.
and Mrs. Willis Carlisle and their daughter Julia
Carlisle (Withers) Atlanta’s First Baby born August 17,
1842.  First Presbyterian Church was built here in 1850
rebuilt 1877 and occupied until 1915.


In his Atlanta and Environs, Franklin Garrett, Historian of the Atlanta Historical Society, gives the following references to “Cousin John,” and the part he played in establishing the first settlement at the location of what is now the great City of Atlanta.


In 1839 “Cousin John” Thrasher started what is now Atlanta when he built the railroad construction settlement, which was called THRASHERVILLE, around the present site of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta.

As a young man of twenty-one, he was the successful bidder for the construction of a large embankment to enable the laying of railroad tracks for the future use of the Monroe Railroad near the site that was planned to become the southern end of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.  This major construction project extended from the Terminal Station to Foundry Street and required over two years to complete. (The World Congress Center is built over a portion of this project.)

John Thrasher went to this place in the wilderness to fulfill his contract.  He brought in many laborers, including many Irishmen, to do the work and rough shelters were built to house the workmen.  Other necessities for their living had to be provided; consequently, a commisary for this purpose became the first store in THRASHERVILLE (called Johnson & Thrasher), and John Thrasher became its first merchant.  As the building of the railroads and the laying of track progressed the settlement of THRASHERVILLE was referred to more and more as the TERMINUS until expansion led to the incorporation of MARTHASVILLE, on December 23, 1843.  It was re-incorporated as the Town of Atlanta in 1845, and again re-incorporated as the City of Atlanta in 1847.

Many narratives have been told why John Thrasher became familiarly known as “Cousin John” in early Atlanta history.  According to early census records of Marthasville and Atlanta, many of his relatives came to the area to assist him and to enjoy his generosity and success.  This friendly and gregarious entrepreneur was called “Cousin John” by so many kinsmen that other Atlantans began doing the same, and he became famous by that name over much of the South.  He represented Fulton County in the State Legislature for many years, and his beautiful Atlanta home was one of two residences used by General Hood as his headquarters during the final days of the Confederate defense of Atlanta.

MARTHASVILLE had about 2,000 inhabitants in 1845. The census of the town for that year listed two of his uncles and a number of cousins with large families.  By 1853, more of his relatives from Morgan, Newton and Henry Counties had arrived in Atlanta to live.  He was a friendly fellow who claimed kin with his relatives, and as a merchant with a business in town, in such association he naturally was called “Cousin John” or “Uncle John.”  He was an outstanding and colorful character and has been the subject of many articles which have appeared in historical collections and newspapers.



My Thrasher Lineage

Family is everything.  It defines you–the heart of your spirit, the heritage of your smile, not only the color of your eyes but how they see the world.  You are bound by kinship.  You add your own link to the chain, and that is where you strengthen or weaken what you have been blessed–or burdened–with.  That is where you use the indefinable quality that belongs to only you, the bit of uniqueness you pass on to your children for good or bad, the part of you that will always be separate from those who share your name, your blood, and your past.

- Deborah Smith [Blue Willow]

Birth:       ABT 1725/1730, Probably Virginia
Death:       1788/1790, North Carolina

Spouse:       Ruth (link to Isaac not proven) CLOUD
Birth:       Probably Virginia
Death:       Perhaps North Carolina
Father:       Isaac (Perhaps) CLOUD
Mother:       (Cloud, Isaac, wife of)

Children:       Joseph Cloud (-1810)
Mary (-1783)
Isaac Cloud (~1755-)
John (1758-1844)

1.1a Joseph Cloud THRASHER*
Death:       1810

Spouse:       Margaret (LEWIS??)

Children:       Margaret (-1802)
Cloud (-~1803)
Isaac (-1815)

Other Spouses Zenith “Zena” GREER

1.1b Joseph Cloud THRASHER* (See above)

Spouse:       Zenith “Zena” GREER

Children:       John

Other Spouses Margaret (LEWIS??)

Death:       1783

Spouse:       Daniel McCOLLUM
Birth:       about 1700, Scotland
Death:       April 1, 1779, Guilford County, North Carolina
Marr:       about 1765

Children:       William (1763-1833)
David (~1763-1833)
Isaac (1767-1848)
Jacob (1763-<1806)
Thrasher (>1770-1814)
Cloud (>1770-)

1.3 Isaac Cloud THRASHER
Birth:       ABT 1755/1760

Spouse:       Ruth BARTON
Birth:       about 1760
Father:       David BARTON (~1730-<1772)
Mother:       Ruth OLDHAM (~1734->1807)

1.4 John THRASHER Sr.
Birth:       April 16, 1758, North Carolina
Death:       June 5, 1844, Clark County, Georgia

Spouse:       Susan BARTON
Birth:       February 14, 1766, Virginia Or North Carolina
Death:       April 21, 1837, Clarke Or Oconee County, Georgia
Father:       David BARTON (~1730-<1772)
Mother:       Ruth OLDHAM (~1734->1807)
Marr:       April 16, 1782

Children:       Mary (1783-1788)
Ruth (1784-1858)
Barton (1788-1867)
Elizabeth (1790-1818)
Isaac (1793-1878)
David (1796-1882)
John (1798-1839)
Frances “Fanny” (1801-1879)
Susannah “Susan” (1802-1892)
Mary Oldham (1806-1871)

I descend from John Thrasher and Ruth Cloud through their son John Thrasher, Jr. and Susan Barton.

John Thrasher, Jr. and Susan Barton had a son – David Thrasher who married Mary “Polly” Hughey.  My ancestors.

Will of David Thrasher is on file in the records of Newton County, Georgia
Records Book 3, pp. 156-159

State of Georgia)
Newton County)

In the name of God!  Amen.  I, DAVID THRASHER of said State and County being of advanced age, but of sound and disposing mind and memory.  Knowing that I must shortly depart this life, deem it right and proper both as respects my family and myself that I should make a disposition of the property yet remaining in my hands with which I have been blessed by a kind Providence, I do, therefore make this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all others by me heretofore made.

First.  I desire and direct that my body be buried in a decent and Christian like manner, suitable to my circumstance and condition in life – to wit: My grave to be protected and fenced as that of my departed wife and the expenses of my burial and fixing of my grave to be paid by my daughter ELIZABETH SAMMONS, she having been paid by me to do so.  My soul I trust shall return to rest with God who gave it as I hope for Salvation through the merritts and work of Jesus Christ.

Second.  I desire and direct that all my just debts be paid by my executor herein after named and appointed.

Third.  It is my will and desire that the following heirs to my property shall not share in the remainder of which I am now possessed.  I having given them their full share and to some of them more than an equal share: to wit:  MARY O. SCOTT, ELIZABETH S. SAMMONS, FRANCES J. HARPER, LOUISA C. VANDERGRIFF my daughters and DAVID H. THRASHER, JOSEPH A. THRASHER, my sons, and the bodily heirs of my son, JAMES C. THRASHER.  My grandchildren all of whom shall not share as stated in the remainder of my property.

Fourth.  It is my will and desire that my other heirs: to wit: JOHN J. THRASHER, WILLIAM W. THRASHER and my grandchildren the bodily heirs of my daughter, MARTHA C. GREER, shall share and share alike in all my property of every kind of which I am possessed or may be possessed by my death, provided that my executor herein after named and appointed shall in the division of my remaining property charge to and collect from JOHN J. THRASHER six hundred dollars due Dec. 25, 1882 and ten per cent thereafter until paid.  Also the sum of six hundred dollars from my son WILLIAM W. THRASHER due December 25, 1882 and ten per cent thereafter until paid money loaned them by me for which I have their notes.  Also shall charge and collect from bodily heirs of THOMAS B. THRASHER my grandchildren the sum of two hundred dollars which I advanced to them, also charge and collect from the bodily heirs of ALBERT C. THRASHER, my grandchildren the sum of two hundred dollars advances to them by me.

Fifth.  I desire and direct that my Executor herein after named and appointed shall collect from my daughter MARY O. SCOTT and her husband or either of them the sum of four hundred and twenty dollars being a balance due me for land sold to JAMES SCOTT, the husband of my daughter, MARY O. SCOTT, with interest paid me by my other children per annum from October 1, 1878.  Also my Executor herein named and appointed shall collect from my daughter MARY O. SCOTT or her husband JAMES SCOTT the further sum of five hundred dollars advanced to them in a certain land trade or land sold to JAMES SCOTT, the husband of my daughter.  Said sum five hundred dollars due me or my estate on the 25th day of December 1882 and said executor shall charge and collect the rate of ten per cent per annum on said amount of five hundred dollars advanced to them after the 25th day of December 1882 if said amount is not paid by that time.

Sixth.  I desire and direct that if any of the heirs of Estate shall interfere, hinder, or contest this my last Will and Testament, my Executor shall not distribute to them their share and shall collect from them, if possible what may have been given them by me in person heretofore.

Seventh.  I hereby constitute and appoint my friends and neighbors

Executor of this my last Will and Testament.

This February 11, 1882.


Signed, sealed, declared and published by DAVID THRASHER as his last Will and Testament in the
Presence of the undersigned who subscribed our names hereto in the presence of each other.

This February 11, 1882.



Lizzie (and Borden ancestry)

If I had not had another commitment last night, I would have been at the Mosheim Mansion to see the performance about Lizzie Borden.  I am sure it was great fun!  The Asylum Ensemble of Texas presented “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe: The Lighter Side of Axe Murder.”

There will be another performance in November and if possible, I hope to see this show.  We are so fortunate to have businesses such as the Mosheim Mansion who give to the community in so many ways.

The Asylum Ensemble of  Texas is a group of local actors.  Its founders include Carol Hirshi (owner of the Mosheim Mansion), Griffin Darklighter and Brandi Atchley of Seguin along with Steve Zingraf of San Marcos.

Lizzie Borden and I share the same Borden ancestor: Richard Borden, born February 22, 1595 in Headcorn, England (died May 25, 1671 in Portsmouth, New Jersey) and Joane Fowle.  One of the earliest Borden ancestors I’ve researched is one Henry Borden who died 1370 in Headcorn, England.

The Bordens or Bourdens originally came to England from Normandy.

Lisbeth Borden Dies After Short Illness, Age 68 [67]

Lisbeth [sic: Lizbeth] A. Borden died this morning [in 1927]  at 306 French Street, where she had made her home for about 30 years.  She had been ill with pneumonia for about a week, although for some time she had been in failing health.

A member of one of the old Fall River families, having been the daughter of Andrew J. and Sarah Anthony [sic: Morse] Borden, she had lived here all of her life.  With her two maids, she lived a quiet retired life, paying occasional visits to out-of-town friends and receiving a few callers whose staunch friendship she valued highly.

Taking an intense pride in the surroundings in which she lived, she did much to improve the locality, purchasing adjoining property, that the same refined atmosphere might be maintained.  Greatly interested in nature, she was daily seen providing for the hundreds of birds that frequented the trees in her yard, taking care that the shallow box where they gathered with filled with crumbs, seeds and other foods that they favored.  She had miniature houses erected in her trees and, in these, frivolous squirrels made their homes.  Her figure as she visited with her wild callers, many of whom became so friendly that they never seemed to mind her approach, was a familiar one in that section.

Another pastime in which she greatly delighted was riding through the country roads and lanes.  She made frequent trips about town in her motor car, but was never so pleased as when winding through the shady country by-ways.

The death of Miss Borden recalls to many one of the most famous murder trials in the history of the state.  On the fourth of August, 1892, Andrew J. Borden and his wife, Abby D. Borden, were found murdered in their Second Street home.  After a preliminary investigation, Lisbeth Borden was arrested and formally charged with the murder of her father.  After a hearing in Fall River she was indicted by the grand jury and in November 1892 [June 1983], was tried and acquitted in new Bedford.

The trial attracted statewide interest.  No further arrests were ever made and the murder has remained an unsolved mystery since.  Following her acquittal, Miss Borden lived a rather retired life and devoted much of her time to private charities of which the public knew but little.

Gail Borden (inventor, architect, surveyor) is also in this Borden family.  If memory serves (although that isn’t a given these days!), Gail Borden also laid out the plans for Galveston, Texas.  Of course, what one most readily remembers about Gail Borden is his patent for condensed milk.


Plain folks.

Infamous folks.

Interesting folks.

We ALL  have these family stories and I find the research fascinating.

“woven into the life of our ancestors”

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.  For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?

- Marcus Tullius Cicero


Although genealogy can be used to justify privilege, it can also be used to impart values.  While in certain eras it has appeared to be the preserver of society’s elites, its universal application bespeaks the importance of origins for all humanity.  It can be used to divide, yet the myriad relationships it uncovers imply the interconnectedness of the human race.

- David Thackery, “Editor’s Note” [Communities of Kinship Antebellum Families and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier by Carolyn Earle Billingsley]

My ancestor, Susan Elizabeth “Susie” Glenn with her sisters (Mary Ellen, Ethel Mae, and Emma Jane) when they attended Cherokee Female Seminary at Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

They were the daughters of Jesse Edward Glenn (1848 – 1902) and Margaret Leann Cowan (1851-1895) and granddaughters of Henry Glenn (ca 1805 – before 1880) and Jennie Foreman (1816 – 1881).

Jennie Foreman’s Cherokee ancestor was Richard Bark “OO-YA-LU-GI ”  Foreman (ca 1779 – after 1843) and Julia Talley (died approximately 1816).

Register of Persons Who Wish Reservations under the Treaty of July 8, 1817

July 1817

#11 – Bark Forman – two in family – on the road from McNairs to Knoxville
No. of Reservation:  12

Richard Bark Foreman’s mother was Susie Gourd “Kah-tah-yah” /Gourd (Rattling-gourd), a full-blood Cherokee of the Paint Clan.  His father was John Anthony Foreman, a Scotsman (perhaps born in Scotland . . . and perhaps in Pennsylvania), who was a trader among the Indians.

11th March 1797


My instructions from the Honorable the Secretary of War require that I report to you the names of all persons residing in the Cherokee country not natives of the land.

For this purpose I have collected the following Schedule of their names & employments which I am induced to believe is tolerable accurate.

[Listed are names, nation, employments; among those include John Anthony Foreman.]

Anthony Foreman (no nationality listed), “Trader & idler”

The blanks in the “Nation” column are either Americans or unknown.  Those whose characters are noted in the third column I have represented according to the best information I have been able to receive.

I am very respectfully, Sir, . . .
Silas Dinsmoor

To His Excellency Governor Sevier

“[Human beings] look separate because you see them walking about separately.  But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment.  If we could see the past, then of course it would look different.  For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents.  If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, would look . . . like one single growing thing–rather like a very complicated tree.  Every individual would appear connected with every other.”

- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

flood damaged – but resurrected

My 4th Great-Grandfather John Sammon's Will - 1812

John Sammon, Sr. was born approximately 1750 and died 1812 in Greenville County, South Carolina.  John was the son of William Sammon, Sr. and Rebecca (Rebecca may have previously been married to an Ivey).

The quest never ends!

While searching through boxes and boxes of flood-damaged photos and materials, was surprised to discover a copy of this will.  Was also happy to find it!

My Dutch Ancestry

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Descendants of Harmen Coerton of Voorhuysen

Descendants of Hendrick Matthyse Smock

Genealogy research is a passion, I suppose.  An addictive passion.

There are  many nationalities coursing through my veins and I track one or another – often quite surprised with the results.

My 4th great-grandfather William Poland was of German lineage. He married Mary Swadley, daughter of Nicholas Swadley and Elizabeth Hevener.  The Swadley family lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia and Pendleton County, West Virginia before moving to Highland County, Ohio.

In William Poland’s will, he names twelve children. Those not mentioned are: Peter, Phebe and Elizabeth.

Eliza McBee could be Elizabeth.

Marion County Will Book C, pages 45-46

‘My sons & daughters intended & spoken of in this will are John, William, Nicholas, Katharine Newman, Nathaniel, Mary Evans, Eliza Magbee, Samuel, Henry, Mahala Stamin and Martin.  Matilda Troth in addition to what she has already received to have the sum of five dollars.’

PROPERTY:  Public Sale of the Real Estate of William Poland; Indianapolis January 26, 1856.  About 220 acres in Marion County.


Nicholas Swadley was the son of Marcus (Mark) Swadley and Catren (surname perhaps Maus).

There is a tradition that Mark accidentally shot a daughter while cleaning a gun and was so shocked that he is said to have never spoken again and died shortly thereafter.

Marcus (Mark) Swadley’s personal property was sold at public venue  September 15, 1772 [Augusta,Virginia  Will Book #6, page 10].

Final settlement of the estate was made March 18, 1772 [Augusta, Virginia  Will Book #6, page 10]
Mark’s wife’s name was Catren; there is a tradition that her last name was Maus (Mouse).  She may have later married John Clore, a widower.  They had no children and she outlived him.

my great-grandparents

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Woodlawn Cemetery, Claremore, Oklahoma

My Nixon Heritage

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Historical Marker at Squaw Creek Cemetery, Doss, Texas

Francis Marion “Frank” Nixon was born approximately 1769 in North Carolina and died 1864 in Franklin County, Arkansas.  He married Catherine Elliott February 24, 1798 in Madison County, Kentucky.

Frank chose a novel way of decorating his primitive cabin on Swan Creek, south of the present Athens in Limestone County Alabama.  He stuffed the entrails of a bear he had killed and draped these adornments in “graceful festoons around the inner walls of his house.  To relieve the monotony of these ornaments he interspersed them with nice pods of red pepper,” stated R. A. McClellan.

Frank Nixon was my Fourth Great-Grandfather.  I *think* that Frank Nixon’s parents were born in Ireland and he had a brother named Adam; however, I have no definite proof of that.

Catherine Elliott’s father was Samuel Elliott.

From the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions: “4:301 — Catherine Elliot Orphan of Samuel Elliot decd, 2, bound to Joshua Pain until she is 18, sd Master to comply with the Law in that Case.”

Almedia Nixon (daughter of Francis Marion Nixon and Catherine Elliott) married James B. Caldwell August 29, 1825 in Shelby County, Alabama.

Their son, Joshua Caldwell, was my great-great grandfather and he and Sarah Alexander’s son James Martin “Bud” Caldwell settled in New Mexico with his wife Martha Letitia Brown Caldwell.

And here I am – in Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas – with family scattered hither and yon!

Darling Belk – my 4th great-grandfather

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Darling Belk - "aged about 72 years" d June 30, 1835

My fourth great-grandfather, Darling Belk, is buried in the Old Antioch Cemetery in Union County, North Carolina.  This cemetery is also referred to as the “Belk Cemetery.”

Narcissus (“Nicey” in some census records) Belk was the daughter of Darling Belk and Agnes Nelson.  Narcissus was born December 29, 1793 in North Carolina.  She married Alfred  Brown.  The Brown family settled in Benton County, Arkansas where they are buried.

Alfred and Narcissus had a son named for his father and this Alfred (Alford) Brown (1826-1865) married Louisa Jane Centers and their daughter Martha Letitia Brown was my great-grandmother.

The Darling name was passed down through several generations of Belks and Browns and was generally shorted to “Darl.”

Alfred (Alford) Brown and his older brother Darling Brown are buried in Spring Creek Cemetery (as are other members of the Brown family) with the inscription on their tombstones:

“Killed in War March 14, 1865″

The Belk family was of English or Welsh lineage.  Darling Belk’s father John Belk was born about 1718 in England.

John Belk’s tombstone reads:
Born in England
1710 – 1788

John Belk is buried at the old cemetery of Antioch Church on the Trinity Road in Buford Township, Union County (formerly Mecklenburg County), North Carolina.

“We are the children of many sires, and every drop of blood in us in its turn … betrays its ancestor.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Brown Heritage

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Thanks to a Brown cousin, Lily Brown Taylor, I didn’t start from Zero when researching my Brown lineage.

Lily researched, compiled, and shared a great deal of Brown information with her family.  We (speaking of folks like me who are amateur researchers) owe a great deal to those who came before us and I am most grateful for the generosity of folks such as Lily (Brown research); Fran Laird (Williams research) and so many others.  Bless them!

Alex Haley said that “every time you see a little frog on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.”

This old photograph is of my great-grandparents: James Martin “Bud” Caldwell and Martha Letitia Brown Caldwell.  This is obviously a very early photograph of them; they are so young.

I’ve written in earlier posts about my Caldwell lineage.

I did not know my great-grandfather James Martin “Bud” Caldwell; he died before I was born (before my parents were even married).

However, I vaguely remember my great-grandmother, Martha Letitia Brown Caldwell.  In fact, after my birth, my parents and I lived in a small house behind her larger home on the Caldwell  property in Springer, New Mexico.

As a child, I remember visiting Martha Caldwell when we would come to Springer in the summers.  She always wore long dresses and generally had an apron covering her dress.  There were lovely items in her home (which were not to be touched by little fingers, of course).

She raised a family of three daughters (one daughter died as an infant) and six boys.  She had stamina (or grit), intelligence, a stern beauty, and endurance.  I wish I had known her better.  She died when I was thirteen years old and since we didn’t live near her, there were few visits.

Martha Letitia Brown Caldwell died in 1951 at age 91 and was still intellectually sharp and walking each day to retrieve her mail at the post office in Springer, New Mexico.

I came across a short article in the Colfax County Stockman, June 13, 1903 – Hall’s Peak Item – which indicates Martha was her Own Person.

Mrs. J. M. Caldwell and Miss Nichols, teacher at the Vanderitas school, were recently seen drinking in the beauties of Canada Bonita.  It is stated that to sustain them on their homeward journey they also partook of a draught of that ambrosia brewed by cook Woodruff at the mill camp.

Martha Brown Caldwell was the daughter of Alfred (or Alford as was sometimes written) Brown and Louisa Jane Centers.  Her father was born in 1826 in North Carolina and died in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.  He had returned home to see his wife and newborn son, Remington, when he was “waylaid by Union soldiers, fourteen of them, at a ford in a little creek.”  His family heard the fighting from their home.  Alfred never saw his son Remington.

Alfred/Alford Brown was the son of Alfred Brown, Sr. and Narcissus Belk and the grandson of Amos Brown and Elizabeth Brown (who was perhaps a cousin of Amos; I’ve not been able to trace her lineage).

Amos Brown served in the Revolutionary War:

Certificate No. 12625 in N.C. agency
Amos Brown, Macon County, N.C. agency
Private, Capt. Whitners County, Gen. Morgans Regt. in the Georgia Line for 7 1/2 months
paid at rate “25 per annum” to commence 4 March 1831
Certificate issued 15 May 18 (illegible) and sent to L. P. Casson, Pleasant Gardens, Georgia

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. ~ Alex Haley

our European ancestors

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Why do we want to know about ancestors?  I suppose it may be partly to learn how WE tick.  My Caldwell research will never end, I know – but I’ve found that the search is fascinating.

I just love this photograph of a beautiful young woman holding an umbrella.  Even if she had not married (briefly) into my Caldwell family, I still find the photograph so very intriguing.

If I had any ancestors in pre-historic Britain, there is information as to how they traveled.

How a prehistoric sat nav stopped our ancestors getting lost in Britain

Isosceles Triangle. An isosceles triangle has two congruent sides called legs and a third side called the base. The vertex angle is the angle is included by the legs. The other two angles are called the base angles. The base angles are congruent. The figure below depicts an isosceles triangle with all the parts labeled.

Great-Grandma was a Neanderthal

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With the help of a pinch of fossil bone dust, scientists have discovered that modern human beings interbred with Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago, and that 1 to 4 percent of the genes carried by non-African people are traceable to the much-caricatured, beetle-browed cavemen.

what if?

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If I could have seen the future, would my decisions have been different?

Would the decisions of my parents, grandparents, ancestors?

If my dad had not worked for New Mexico newspapers . . .

- would we have moved to Farmington, New Mexico during the 1950s oil and gas boom?

If there had not been an oil and gas boom in the Four Corners area

- would my husband – my then-future-husband have traveled from Louisiana to ‘make his  fortune’ (hah!)?

If my Jouett French Huguenot ancestors had been Catholic, would I be speaking French and living in France?

In a different body – with a similar soul?

If my Welsh Coslett ancestors had not sailed from Wales to the colonies, would I have known the actor Richard Burton before he was Richard Burton?

If my Glenn ancestor had not been kicked out of Ireland  (to Scotland . . . and then  Britain) for fighting over a barmaid – and then deported from Britain for fighting (just about everyone), would I have red hair and dance Irish jigs??

If my Scottish Foreman ancestor had not traded with the Indians, would he have not married two Cherokee women (both of the Paint Clan) and instead settled in Pennsylvania with his sister and family – would I then be a Yankee??

What if . . . my German ancestor, John Poland, had stayed in Germany?

What if . . . my ancestor, Marcus Swadley, had never left Germany with his wife Catherine Maus, and settled in West Virginia – his descendants scattering throughout the country?

What if my ancestor Nichodemas Keith had died in the Revolutionary War?

What if Richard Borden and Joanne Fowle had stayed in Headcorn, County, Kent, England?  What if Richard’s ancestors had stayed in Normandy?

What if?????

And where and who would I be?

If my Soldier Husband had gone back to Louisiana after his tour of service – rather than Farmington, New Mexico – would we have never married?  Never had the children we have?  The grandchildren we have?

Actually, I can’t imagine any other life than the one I now have and I am so grateful for every moment of it.  I’m especially grateful for my family – and these delightful beautiful grandchildren.

cousins - three years of age - Seguin, Texas - 1999

Recently, I’ve looked through some of the Grandchildren Photos and I’m thinking about  the decisions made by my forebears and my parents and my husband and me – and for the meandering roads all of us traveled that brought these special, lovely, delightful grandchildren  to my husband and me.

Two of these grandchildren had a fourteenth birthday a few weeks ago (a boy in Colorado and a girl in New York – born five days apart in 1996).

I remember the ‘older’ generation talking about how quickly kids grow up and how time seems to gather momentum the older we become.  I am now the ‘older’ generation and that is exactly how I feel.

The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily–perhaps not possibly–chronological. ~ Eudora Welty

the search never ends

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Grandparents:                   Elizabeth Clifford Sammon (1897-1985) and Berlin Caldwell (1883-1963)

G-Grandparents:              Robert Walker “Bob” Sammon (1861-1910) and Maria de los Santos Leal (1872-1905)

GG-Grandparents:           Robert W. Sammon (1837-1864) and Susan Elizabeth Thrasher (1838-)

GGG-Grandparents:        Mary B. Reins “Polly” Harrison (ca 1804-) and John Sammon Jr. (1782-1850)

4th G Grandparents:        Elizabeth “Betsy” Williams (1773-1846) and Clement King “Clem” Harrison (ca 1772-1805)

5th G Grandparents:        Barbara Walker (ca 1749-1819) and Matthew Jouett Williams (ca 1749-1818)

6th G Grandparents:         Thomas Walker (ca 1709-) and Elizabeth “Betty” Ellis (ca 1720-before 1798)

Note:  I have a double descent from Thomas Walker and Elizabeth “Betty” Ellis – sisters Barbara Walker who married Matthew Jouett Williams and Betty Walker who married John Sammon, Sr.

I’m not certain of the parents of Thomas Walker – I just keep searching . . .

Grandparents:                   Elizabeth Clifford Sammon (1897-1985) and Berlin Caldwell (1883-1963)

G-Grandparents:              Robert Walker “Bob” Sammon (1861-1910) and Maria de los Santos Leal (1872-1905)

2nd Grandparents:           Robert W. Sammon (1837-1864) and Susan Elizabeth Thrasher (1838-)

3rd G Grandparents:        John Sammon, Jr. (1782-1850) Mary B. Reins “Polly” Harrison  (ca 1804-)

4th G Grandparents:         Betty Walker (ca-1743-) and John Sammon, Sr. (ca1740-1812)

5th G Grandparents:        Thomas Walker (ca 1709-) and Elizabeth “Betty” Ellis (ca 1720-before 1798)

genealogy research

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To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain perpetually a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.

These are just a few of the family names I’m researching.

The active research comes and goes – but the interest is always there.

Human beings look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would look like one single growing thing–rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other.
- C. S. Lewis

“Found a Yankee in my family tree; will trade for horse thief or other black sheep.”

Note:  in my family, I had southern Confederates and northern Yankees.  In the Revolutionary War, I had family members on both sides (some still in England).

Family is family.

family history

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BTF (before the flood), I had a first edition of John Salmon “Rip” Ford’s book; however, I am thankful to have ANY edition of Ford’s memoirs.

Ford was the son of William Ford (17895-1866) and Harriet Salmon (1791-1845).

Like so many surnames, there were various spellings and Harriet’s father George Salmon was the brother of my ancestor John Sammon.

Rip’s grandfather was John Ford and his grandmother was Ann (surname perhaps Hiller).  John Ford was born in Maryland and died in Greensville County, Virginia.  Note:  my research is certainly not written in stone and I have had difficulty tracing the Ford lineage.

John Salmon Ford was called “Rip” because, as a Texas Ranger, one of his duties was to inform families of the deaths of their loved ones who were killed while doing their duty as Texas Rangers.  He writes “Rest in Peace” at the beginning of each letter informing the family of a death.  This was eventually shortened to “RIP” – and this became his sobriquet.

At the beginning of Ford’s book, he writes a STATEMENT OF PURPOSE ‘by the author’ -

When a man assumes to place the matters connected with his career in life before the public, he is actuated by some motive.  The real motives including the writer to tell his story are as follows: he has been an humble actor in the transaction of many affairs that happened in Texas from 1836 to almost the present date and believes that a large majority of the residents of this State are but little acquainted with the incidents which have given her people a reputation for gallantry in war and considerable insight in the management of public affairs; he knows that many men displayed a notable spirit of patriotism in the service of a noble State, and, feeling that they have been forgotten, he wants to offer something that will aid his fellow citizens to do justice to their memories and thus aid in arriving at the truth of history.

His main purpose will be to write the truth, to do injustice to no person, and to let the action of men be the facts by which we may judge them.  The itching which some writers seem to feel to place themselves forward on all occasions will be avoided.  The writer will not endeavor to become the hero upon all extraordinary events and to let the book speak of himself alone.



One of Rip Ford’s traits is quite recognizable (humor intended) in my maternal lineage:

“He possessed the capacity to get into fights with the boys, to fall in love with the girls, and to take a hand in the deviltry set on foot by his playmates.  The old ladies of his neighborhood looked upon him as a sort of prodigy, and predicted he would be killed for his general ‘cussedness’ before reaching the age of maturity, or hanged for some infernal mischief  he might commit.”

John Salmon "Rip" Ford - 1858

John Salmon "Rip" Ford - 1865

Will of Matthew Wynne

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My Sammon family is related to just about everyone in Greenville County, South Carolina – I think!

My ancestor, John Sammon, Sr., [ son of William Sammon] had a sister – Susannah “Sucky” who married Matthew Wynne.  His will below:



In the name of God Amen, I Matthew Wynne of the State and Dist. afores’d being in my perfect Health and of a sound mind & memory and calling to mind the Mortality of my body & that it’s appointed for all men to die. for the better Settling of my Temporal affairs, Revoking & Disannulling all other Will or Wills before made by me I do make this my Last Will & Testament in the maner & form following Viz –

Item — I lend to my loving Wife Susanna Wynne during her life the land and Plantation whereon I now live together with Stock of every kind household & Kitchen furniture & plantation utensils, also four negroes Dick Silla, Jane & Ann, and after her death the above mentioned Negroes & increase if any to be divided between my five children follows–Sucky, Franky, Patsy and Minor Wynne and Robert Wynne to them their heirs and assigns forever and the land mentioned at my wifes death to be sold and the money arising from the sale thereof divided between all my children viz, William Wynne, John Wynne, Thos. Wynne, Polly Todd, Matthew Wynne, Betsy-Ana Smith, Richard Wynne, Sloman Wynne, Clemons Wynne, Sucky Wynne, Frankie Wynne, Patsy Wynne, Minor Wynne, & Robert Wynne, equally.

Item – I give to my son William Wynne one negro boy named Charles, to him and his heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my son John Wynne one negro boy named Daniel to him his heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my Daughter Polly Todd, one negro girl named Lucy to her her heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my son Matthew Wynne one negro boy named Balais to him his heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my daughter Betsy A. Smith one negro girl named Judy to her her heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my son Richard Wynne one negro girl named Harriot to him his heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my son Sloman Wynne one negro boy named William to him his heirs and assigns forever.
Item – I give to my son Clemons Wynne one negro man named Pleasant to him his heirs and assigns forever.

Item- my will is the above mentioned Robert Wynne come in Co. Heir with the above Sucky, Frankie, Patsy, and Miner, if it should not be well understood by the above interlined, Rob’t & five, I desire that my debts be paid by the profits of my estate and lastly I nominate and appoint my Wife and two Sons John Wynne and Thos. Wynne to execute this my last Will and Testament in witness whereof I hereto set my hand and Seal this 8th day of July 1810.
Signed Sealed and Acknowledged in presence of: Test
Matthew Wynne (l.S.)

J. H. Joyce
Nimrod Underwood
Tho. B. Williams
E. B. Benson

Recorded in Will Book A – page 203
Apt. 8 – File No. 504

Probated December 3, 1810
D. Goodlett, O.G.D.

Who do you think you are?

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Who do you think you are?

Genealogy research is interesting (at least for me) and one finds out some very surprising things.  NBC is helping with genealogy research for several well-known personalities and I’m sure that this series will pique some interest in searching for one’s roots.  Think of Roots by Alex Haley . . .

As Sarah Jessica Parker learns about her family from various genealogical researchers, she exclaims “WOW!” more times than I could count.  That is how anyone who is researching their heritage feels when a new and surprising fact is unearthed.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Elwell ancestors (Samuel Elwell and Esther Dutch) were living in Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials.  It was amazing all the information professionals dug up about Parker’s ancestors.

Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (a brief account about Parker’s ancestor Osmond Dutch):

“Anthony Day, aged about forty years, deposed that he heard John Meagus threaten Osmond Dutch that if he came into the stage any more to fetch cods more than his own share, he would make his heels fly higher than his head, and would throw him over the stage head.  Sworn Sept. 26 , 1664, before Samuel Symonds.”

My Barton Ancestry

My Barton Ancestry:

Quite likely my Barton family descends from a David Barton, who, with his brother Abraham came to America from England in 1672.  Abraham settled first in Maryland, and subsequently in New England.  David settled on the James River, Virginia, and his descendants continued to live in northern Virginia.  The ancestors of the Keyes/Kees/Keys family were early settlers of Virginia of Revolutionary stock.  [However, this supposition is difficult regarding the dates of a Thomas Barton, who is undoubtedly my first known American ancestor . . . the search continues!  Hoping a Barton researcher happens upon this Aimless site!]


I. – THOMAS BARTON and Unknown Wife

II – THOMAS BARTON, JR. and wife, Grace (perhaps surname is Drummond)

III – THOMAS BARTON II and wife Mary Willoughby

IV. – DAVID BARTON and wife Ruth Oldham

V. – SUSAN BARTON and husband John Thrasher

VI. – DAVID THRASHER and wife Mary “Polly” Hughey

VII. – ELIZABETH SUSAN THRASHER and husband Robert W. Sammon

VIII. – ROBERT WALKER SAMMON, SR. and wife Maria de los Santos Leal

EVERYONE seems to have Texas connections.  In my Barton family is one CONWAY OLDHAM BARTON, son of Conway Oldham Barton, Sr. who was born in South Carolina and lived in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Conway Oldham Barton, Jr., son of Conway Oldham Barton, Sr., from North Carolina, and his wife, Martha Cox, from South Carolina, was born June 7, 1856 on his father’s plantation in Milam County, Texas, near Calvert, which consisted of three leagues of land with 157 slaves, He had three brothers: Lemuel, John Harold, and Frank, all of whom served in the Confederate States army.
Page 103 {neglected to note the source . . . shame on me . . .}
Said Conway Oldham Barton was educated in a private school at Port Sullivan, Texas Military Academy at Austin, and University of Virginia, 1876-77, taking a course in law, and began to practice at Cameron, Milam County, Texas, and married Mary Blanche Crow, who died in 1882, and had two daughters by her, Manda Galen, who married Felix E. Smith, and Ann Caroline, who died in 1924.
His second wife was Carrie Moshen of Buda, Illinois, whom he married at Las Animas, Colorado, on January 4, 1887. Six children came to this marriage: Raymond O., born at Granada, Colorado, August 22, 1889; Percy O., born Pauls Valley, Indian Territory, February 11, 1897, and the other four children died in infancy. Raymond O. graduated from West Point, and is now stationed with the rank of Colonel at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Conway Oldham Barton moved from Granada, Colorado, to Wellington, Collingsworth County, Texas, where he was elected and served a term as county judge in said county in 1892. In 1895 he came to Pauls Valley, Indian Territory, where he practiced law until the establishment of the United States Court at Ada in 1902, when he removed to Ada and continued the practice of law until his death. In 1910 he was appointed county judge of Pontotoc County to fill out an unexpired term. In the general election that year he was elected to said office and served that full term. He was mayor of Ada in 1906-08.
As a devoted husband and father, he was appreciated and so remembered.
—R. L. Williams


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