a tree-rific journey into family history

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Rosie Morris: starting over in Conway County, Arkansas

Rosa Ann Morris, my wife’s great-great grandmother, was born in Georgia in the 1860s to Boston Morris (1832-1895) and Huldey Annie Sloan Morris (1842-1914). I use the phrase “in the 1860s” because her birth year is difficult to pin down. This is typical for ancestors born in times before birth certificates and Social Security records, but Grandma Rosie is especially troublesome.  The following sources suggest various birthdays and illustrate why so many family histories simply give someone’s birth as “about” or “around.”

1862 1930 census
1863 1870 census
Oct 1863 1900 census
1864 1880 census
1865 1910 census
1866 2nd marriage
1867 1920 census
1868 1940 census
Feb 1868 tombstone

Rosie Ann Morris married Ned Freeman on May 13, 1884. He is the father of her firstborn son and possibly her first two daughters. When Rosie Morris chose to join her parents and many of her siblings (Ella Morris Dooley, Francis E. Morris Morris, John B. Morris, Arenda P. Morris Dooley, and Robert Wheeler Morris) in settling at Center Ridge, Arkansas, oral tradition suggests Ned Freeman refused to leave Georgia. Forsaking her husband (possibly while pregnant with her third child), Rosie blazed a trail to Conway County, Arkansas. The families named their new home Morris Mountain. I initially was troubled that her sister, Francis Morris, had married a man named Robert Morris from the same small county in Georgia, but I later realized that these two sets of Morris families who intermarried and founded Morris Mountain both likely took their surname from the same slave-holding family.

Once in Arkansas, Rosa Ann Morris gave birth to her third child and later married Steward Clinkscale on May 15, 1896. Steward already had eight children from his first wife, and within a few years, their brood totaled 14 combined children. Unlike her parents and husband, Rosie was able to read and write. She and Steward were among the early members of Mt. Zion Methodist Church at the foot of Morris Mountain where she served as a stewardess. Rosie lived about 95 years and saw the birth of 20 known grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. She died January 21, 1958 and is interred at the Mt. Zion Methodist Church with three of her children. One can only imagine how different things would have been had she stayed in Georgia with Ned Freeman.

Below are pictures of Rose Anna Morris Clinkscale’s six children. I am still searching for one of Grandma Rosie herself!

Carrie B. Morris (1883-1954) married Thomas Andrew “Swilin” Dooley (1880-1978). Her name is pronounced “car,” not “care.”

James Paul Morris (1886-1965) married Alice Hawkins (1896-1988) and fathered four known children.

Myrtis Morris (1892-1926) married Dock Lee Clinkscale (1882-1931) and is my wife’s great-grandmother. She had six children and died from childbirth complications.

Classia Clinkscale (1898-1974) married Burnish B. Brockman (1895-1949) and had six children.

William Boston Clinkscale (1900-1980) married Ora Dean Gilreath-Dunbar (1907-1990).  Uncle Boss had four children.

Theodore Roosevelt Clinkscale (1902-1985) married Isabella Payne Johnson (1905-1997).


Trapped in Our Tree: a look back at two years of family history research

On September 24, I will complete two full years of my genealogical journey into my family tree as well as my wife’s heritage. The best part of my work has been the experiences I cannot measure: conversations with family, connections with other researchers, knowledge of local history, family artifacts, intriguing stories, solved and unsolved mysteries, seeing our ancestors in the context of a greater historical narrative,  etc. While I cannot quantify those experiences, below are some things I can measure.

People in tree: 9327

Marriages in tree: 2891

Most marriages: Sarah Bell Aitkens Abbey Reagan Long Casteel Land (1873-1921)

Space used: 19.7 GB

Earliest birthdate in tree: 1530 William Jollifee in Winterbourne, Dorset, England

Unique places in tree: 1454

Most popular county in tree: Conway County, Arkansas

Media (unique items attached to people such as pictures, documents, etc) in tree: 2788

Media not yet added to tee: 853

My ancestry: Dutch, English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Native American, Russian, Scottish, Welsh

Wife’s ancestry: African, Scottish

Most generations: I can trace my niece, Katherine (born 2012), to her 15x great grandfather, William Jolliffe (born 1530), for a total of 18 generations

Most incestuous: I have seen one branch (not direct relatives) that commits incest three consecutive generations in the 20th century.

Out-of-state research roadtrips: three- Haywood County, Tennessee, Lincoln County, Tennessee, Tate County, Mississippi

Workshops/fairs attended: four

Books printed for people: six

Ways I spent money: gas, travel meals, printing, subscription, Family Tree Maker software, Arkansas Death Certificates, an obituary from Nashville, workshops, and probably other ways I do not care to recall

Blog posts: 20

Popular first names:

Sam/Samuel/Sammie/Samantha- 70

Rose/Rosa/Rosie/Rosetta- 73

Charles/Charlie- 74

Tom/Thomas/Tommy- 87

Anne/Anna/Annie- 79

Henry/Henrietta- 83

Martha/ Mattie- 83

Elizabeth/Eliza/Beth/Lizzie- 88

George/Georgia- 101

Robert/Bob/Bobby/Roberta/Robbie- 119

Mary- 206

John/Jonathan/Johan/Johnny- 221

James/Jamie/Jamison- 237

William/Bill/Billy/Will/Willie- 296

The past two years can best be summarized as follows: I’ve climbed high into my tree, and I can’t get down!

Fifty Cents and some Animal Skins: a look at the land of Landess

John Henry Landess, my great-great-great-great grandfather, was born of Dutch extraction on November 18, 1799 in Kentucky. He was one of eight children born to the union of Henry and Gracie Landess. In the 1820s, John Henry Landess bought an acre of land near Bellville, Tennessee for 50 cents and opened a tannery business. He also started the first cemetery in the area.  Apparently he knew his animal hides well because by 1850, his property was valued at $28,000. By his death on September 11, 1876, his land totaled more than 600 acres. Some combination of hard work and good circumstance led to this vast expansion and success. His accumulation of land is significant for someone who started with only one acre and whose surname is just one letter away from Landless.

John Henry Landess married Mary Hurst Stone (1815-1891) on April 5, 1831 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. A native of Virginia, Mary Landess bore 11 children: Earline Bobo, Sarah Landess, Sallie L. Landess, Martha A. Terry, Fannie Elizabeth Holman, Mary Goodrich, John Henry Landess, Susan K. Landess, William James Landess, Ella J. Landess, and Charlie S. Landess. One son, William Landess (1852-1932) married Ida Mae Boone (1856-1949), a descendant of Daniel Boone’s brother. I descended from one of John Henry Landess and Mary Hurst Stone’s daughters: Fannie Elizabeth Landess Holman (1843-1923). You can read about her son in another post here.

I went to Lincoln County, Tennessee earlier this year to see the towns where many of my maternal ancestors settled. For the Landess branch, I drove to the Bellville community. I followed a map to the area where Landess Cemetery sits, but I did not find the exact spot. (Luckily, I found some Landess family grave pictures on The land where John Henry Landess settled appeared untouched by time. As I traveled through the rural countryside, I saw hills, fields, creeks, spring blooms, and even horseback riding. I feel a sense of pride knowing that I went over the same land where my great-great-great-great grandparents lived, made their home, worked, raised a family, toiled, died, and created a legacy.

My 4x-great grandfather, John Henry Landess (1799-1876), is interred at Landess Cemetery outside Bellville, Tennessee.

My 4x-great grandmother, Mary Hurst Stone Landess (1815-1891), is interred at Landess Cemetery outside Bellville, Tennessee.

Lincoln County, Tennessee is an important county for many of my maternal branches: Holman, Landess, Feeney, and Woods. This March, I was fortunate to travel there with my aging grandmother so she could see the city where her father was born. I hope to return someday.

Motivational or Humorous Genealogy Quotations: taken from the internet

Genealogy may be hours and hours of laborious work, migraine headaches, and the never-ending searching of old, elusive documents, but it is also a lot of fun! Today’s post includes a few motivational and/or humorous genealogy quotations. (Like most quotations you find online, the authorship may be wrongfully attributed, but the words are still good.)

A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots.

Any family tree produces some lemons, some nuts, sap, and a few bad apples.

“Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us. —Van Wyck Brooks

“Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.” — Mark Twain

“We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors’ wisdom.”–Maya Angelou

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage – to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.” — Alex Haley, Roots

“I don’t know who my grandfather was, I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” — Abraham Lincoln

You live as long as you are remembered. — Russian proverb

“He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning.” —Old English proverb

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” — George Bernard Shaw

“There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.” — Helen Keller

Help! I’ve climbed into my family tree, and I can’t get down!

“Some people trace their heritage in hopes of making a famous person into their relative. I do mine in hopes of making my relatives famous.”– Me

Even with so many records now online, I suppose most genealogists still try to plan family vacations around a courthouse or cemetery visit. Too bad none of my ancestors came from Disney World.

I have seen wasps, bees, dogs, snakes, ticks, and a man with a gun. No ghosts yet…

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