Sharing Memories: A Genealogy Journey (Week 30) – We’re Having a Heat Wave!

This past week I joined the Google+ group and have connected with several genealogists, including Lorine McGinnis Schulze and her Olive Tree Genealogy blog. She has a writing prompt series she calls Sharing Memories: A Genealogy Journey and is now up to Week 30. I decided to join in this week on the topic of “We’re having a heat wave” and talk about the heat in my own childhood and youth.

One of my first memories of the heat was the summer of 1947 or 1948 in Gainesville, Texas. I have always loved to read and that summer mother let me go to the library by myself. From having been back to Gainesville on a research trip, I know we must have lived about a mile from the library, which was downtown on California Street. I don’t specifically remember the library – what I remember was the trip home. I had obviously gone to the library in the morning and stayed there a long time because when I returned home it was clearly afternoon and HOT! I know that specifically because I was barefoot [a typical condition for me during the summer] and the concrete paving was, as has frequently been observed, “hot enough to fry an egg.” In response to that unexpected hot concrete, I attempted to find as many patches of grass as possible and leap from one patch of grass to another as I crossed streets and sidewalks on my way home.

Another way the neighborhood children handled the heat that summer was with a metal washtub we filled with water from the outdoor faucet and we took turns sitting in it. We also got frequent drinks from that same outdoor faucet.

Sometime during the mid-1940s, Mother purchased what was, I’m sure, an inexpensive and heavy gray with blue stripes stoneware pitcher; during the summer she would occasionally make a pitcher of a mixture of really cold orange juice and lemonade and pour us a glass as a treat. I loved that pitcher and thanks to the Internet, I was able to find a picture of a similar one – wish I still had mother’s.

By the summer of 1949, we were back in Oklahoma City. That summer was a part of the huge polio scare that was so predominant during the summers. Every parent insisted their children come inside and rest during the heat of the afternoon. Our rented house had a large screened-in back porch and one of those inside afternoons it was so hot, even on the shaded and screened porch, that I had the screen door open and was lying with my head outside on the first step hoping for any any breath of air. We lived less than a block away from the old Blackhawk Swimming Pool; I remember walking by and watching people swimming, but I don’t remember swimming there myself that summer (although it’s possible I did since I love to swim).

We moved again the following year to a neighborhood that had a small park a few blocks away. It had a small wading pool and, although, I don’t remember being in it much, I did take my brother down there where he could play in the pool [he’s six years younger than I am and would have been about three to four at the time]. Water was definitely a factor in summer-time cooling strategies and it could be a real treat when someone’s parents would allow the neighborhood kids to play with the water hose with every kid getting a turn at both spraying and being sprayed.

Summer in Oklahoma generally means a dearth of rainfall. Because our rain is generally part of a thunderstorm, which is usually accompanied by lightning, it’s not wise to be playing outside during the rain, but following an occasional late afternoon rain, one of my favorite things to do was go outside barefoot and splash through the water still standing against the curbs. Even the rainwater could still have some warmness to it because the streets would be hot, but wet skin picks up breezes so nicely. I was always fascinated with the earthworms that were so prevalent following the rain. Of course, you could find worms if you went digging in the dirt, but after a rainfall, there would be hundreds of them crawling on sidewalks and driveways and in the grass – amazing!

I’ve seen pictures of old rotating fans, but I don’t remember having them during those years. We finally lived in a house that had a large window evaporative or swamp cooler by the time I was in my mid-teens. This was a large metal box affixed to an open window. It had fiber-type pads [they looked to me as if they were filled with straw] on the sides that we would hose down in the afternoon; there was also about an inch or so of water standing in the bottom of the metal box. There was a large metal ‘squirrel cage’ fan that turned through the water and blew water-cooled air through the window into the house. It definitely helped in reducing the house temperature but because it was coming through only one window, the portions of the house without direct access to that cooler air could remain quite warm. Sometimes during the nights, I would get so hot I would get up and go sleep on the floor in the dining room where the swamp cooler was located.

Another way I sometimes cooled off at night was to take my bedding outside and sleep in the backyard. As the morning approached and the temperatures grew cooler, it could be quite pleasant sleeping with light covers on – until the time dew began falling in the mornings and you’d wake up with damp covers.

Although my typical fashion choice for home during the summers was shorts, a date night would mean a full skirt with starched net slips under them and often more than one of them to achieve the necessary fullness of the skirt. One night the young man I was dating and I went to the drive-in with another couple. We were in the back seat and I was probably wearing three of those underskirts plus a light blue cotton skirt with matching short-sleeve blouse. I stood the heat as long as I could, but I finally decided fashion was definitely subservient to comfort and I reached under my skirt and pulled off the underskirts and piled them on the floorboard. In those years of ingrained modesty, that was a bold move. My date, a young man with a great sense of humor from the deep south [Laurel, Mississippi],  thought it was quite funny but still allowed me to maintain both my dignity and my reputation.

All in all, I have to say, central heat and air is a definite improvement and an amenity I do not wish to forego – ever!

My Heritage Pie and Bar Charts – Great-Great-Grandparents

I was busy in research mode on Saturday and didn’t take the time to look at Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun but decided to give another aspect [I find the research part fun] of genealogy fun  a try this morning. Although we have spent much time [and distance] searching for my mother’s mother’s grandparents, we have been totally unsuccessful in locating any information. Here are the names and dates of what we now know of the births, marriages [listed for each couple under the great-great-grandmothers’ information]  and deaths of my great-great-grandparents:

16. William Jabez Willis was born about 1805 in South Carolina, possibly the Spartanburg vicinity. He died in Fayette County, Alabama about April 1855.

17. Amy Edith Collins was born February 14, 1826 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She married my great-grandfather after the death of his wife (her sister) in Fayette County, Alabama in about 1850. She lived as a widow for around 50 years and died in Fayette County, Alabama sometime between the 1900 and 1910 censuses.

18. John Buckner was born about 1832 in Franklin County, Tennessee. He lived in both Blount County and Fayette County, Alabama before enlisting in the 41st Alabama Infantry for the Civil War. He died in Charleston, Bradley, Tennessee.

19. Nancy M. Foster was born in Alabama, perhaps Blount County, July 2, 1838. She and my great-grandfather married February 1, 1855 in Blount County, Alabama. She also lived in Fayette County, Alabama and Holly Springs, Marshall, Mississippi before moving to Wise County, Texas where she was living at the time of her death December 18, 1917.

20. Robert Welch was born September 3, 1833 in South Carolina and died about December of 1861 in Fayette County, Alabama.

21. Sarah A. Farquhar was about 1833 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and died before 1910, likely still living in Fayette County, Alabama where I last found her on a census.

22. Asa L. Sanford was born August 7, 1825 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and died March 24, 1907 April 24, 1907 in Moore’s Bridge, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

23. Martha Ann Jean was born February 1826 in Tennessee. She was the second wife of my great-grandfather, having married him on April 30, 1850 in Lincoln County, Tennessee, following the death of his first wife (her sister) a few months before. Martha Ann died October 20, 1911 in Moore’s Bridge, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

24. Jacob P. Lineberry was born about 1811 in Grayson County, Virginia and died May 13, 1887 in Carroll County, Virginia.

25. Piety Thomas Smith was born December 9, 1810 in Granville County, North Carolina. She married my great-great-grandfather on November 4, 1833 in Grayson County, Virginia and died in Carroll County, Virginia on October 25, 1885.

26. Thomas Harmon was born about 1819 in Carroll County, Virginia and died October 17, 1897 also in Carroll County, Virginia.

27. Delilah Davis was born about 1818 in Grayson County, Virginia. She and my great-great-grandfather were married August 15, 1838 in Carroll County, Virginia. Delilah died on November 5, 1888 in Hillsville, Carroll, Virginia.

28. Enoch M. Keithley was born April 5, 1831 in Missouri. He lived in Illinois and Wisconsin before enlisting in the Civil War in 1862. He died at Pittsburg Landing, Hardin, Tennessee from illness during the Battle at Shiloh about May 8, 1862.

29. Amy Turner was born May 15, 1835 in Sharonville, Hamilton, Ohio. She and my great-great-grandfather were married on August 29, 1852 in New Diggins, Lafayette, Wisconsin. She  died in Lewistown, Fulton, Illinois on May 16, 1912.

30 and 31 are unknown. My great-grandmother [maiden name Conn] was born in Ohio, married in Chicago, Cook, Illinois and died in either Missouri or Kansas and what we have found so far would indicate Ohio or Pennsylvania as possible locations for her parents’ births.

Birth locations of my great-great-grandparents:

South Carolina – 3
Alabama – 3
Tennessee – 2
Virginia – 3
North Carolina – 1
Missouri – 1
Ohio – 1
Pennsylvania [guess] – 1

I thought it might be interesting to see what changes migratory patterns caused. Death locations of my great-great-grandparents were [two totally unknown]:

Alabama – 6
Tennessee – 2 [Civil War Casualties]
Virginia – 4
Texas – 1
Illinois – 1

The Joy of the Hunt

It’s a good thing I enjoy solving puzzles and tracking down minute details because that is clearly what it takes to answer questions of family history and lineage. There are any number of difficulties or crazinesses in historical records that can stymie a search. Problems as seemingly insignificant as spelling and penmanship; or use of first names, middle names and nicknames in censuses from one year to the next; or moving from location to location; or misrepresented birth dates/ages can make the search more difficult.

I’ve been searching for information on my great-grandmother’s brother, William Rufus Buckner, off and on for a couple of years. I’ve had a particularly difficult time finding information on him even though I’d discovered him early on in Wise County, Texas in the 1910 census. Because Ancestry.com searches broadly in terms of surnames, ages and locations, you can sometimes find records you wouldn’t otherwise pick up. On the other hand, because it’s so broad you often have too many to take the time to look through. Heritage Quest searches way too specifically [not even an option for a wildcard] and there is no way to account for those flukes in spelling, age or location other than in specific searches, many of which you could not even hazard a guess.

What I had learned about William Rufus Buckner during the past couple of years from multiple sources was:

He was born in about 1858 as the second child of John and Nancy M. Foster Buckner [as to the search for verification as to who Nancy was, see previous blogs on Surname Saturday – Buckner nee Foster and Follow Up Buckner nee Foster.

1860 census for John & Nancy Buckner and Mary, William and Sarah

His father had joined Company I of the 41stAlabama Infantry and died in Tennessee as a result of illness. Some men have 12 and more status cards in their files while John only has five, one of which is made out for James, but since the information is generally the same as that for John, the archival people have filed it with John. Even the cards have differing information on them; two (one Jno, usual abbreviation for John, and one Jas) indicate he died September 18, 1862 while one (John) states September 12, 1862, although all three have the location as Charleston, Tennessee. A transcription of a card that is not visible on Footnote is available at the Alabama Department of Archives and History website shows Nancy filed for a widow’s pension. There was a similar notation on the card for John’s brother, Jesse W. Buckner, that John Buckner, father, had filed a claim (which had been mailed to Blount County). BH Williams was the probate judge for Fayette County at the time, presumably a copy of the documentation would have been at the courthouse had it not burned. I had hoped to see application papers when we visited, but nothing was available, apparently both claims for monetary support were denied, perhaps because both deaths were from illness rather than battle injuries.At the time of the 1866 Alabama Census, he and his mother and three siblings [Mary Jane, Sarah and Medora] lived in the vicinity of his grandparents [Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster]; uncle, Anthony Edward Foster; future brother-in-law, James Franklin Willis; and long-time neighbor Joshua Watson and his family. A website listing Fayette County marriages listed a marriage for Nancy Buckner to Joshua Watson in 1868 and cemetery records confirmed the death of his wife Phoebe in 1867. The 1870 census listed Joshua and Nancy and four Buckner children plus their first child, John B. Watson. As usual, there was a dilemma with that record. Mary Jane, who would have been a 14-year-old female at the time, was listed as M.J., a 12-year-old male, but since Mary Jane married two years later in the home of Joshua Watson, there did seem to be a connection between them.

1870 Census, Joshua & Nancy Watson with John B. Watson, M.J., R., S.M. & Nedora Buckner

I had a difficult time finding any record on the family for quite some time, but eventually found a census record for Holly Springs, Mississippi that showed Joshua and Nancy and their son, John B. Watson, plus three additional Watson children born after June of 1870. Mary Jane had married James Franklin Willis by that time, but the remaining Buckner children were also there in Holly Springs having been listed by the census enumerator as Rufus Watson, Sarah Watson and Dora Watson, which was why I’d been unable to locate them. I’d been unable to locate Nancy because the enumerator had listed her age as 60 instead of 42.

1880 Census - Joshua & Nancy, Rufus, Sarah, Dora, John, Etta, Walter and Daugherty Watson

With the discovery of a marriage record for William R. Buckner and Martha Ann Holliman for 1892 I was then able to track him to Wise County, Texas in 1910 with two children, Grover C. and Lona Belle.

1910 Census - William R. & Martha A. Buckner with Grover C. and Lona B. Buckner in Wise County, Texas.

So far, the listings for William Rufus had been: William Buckner for the 1860 census; R. Buckner for the 1870 census and Rufus Watson for the 1880 census. The 1910 census was for William R. Buckner with a wife named Martha A. Buckner who had been married 17 years [corresponding to the 1892 marriage record] and had two children. The bad news for that is that it makes the searching more difficult; the good news is I picked up both first and middle names for him in the process.

After many searches, I finally located a 1930 census for Rufus in Oklahoma where he was living with a son I didn’t know about – Vester. This listing was for Rufus R. Buckner. This son’s age would put his birth at about 1888, which was four years before the marriage of Rufus and Martha Ann, which led me to a further search of Fayette County marriages.

1930 Census - Vester Buckner with his family, father-in-law, and father, Rufus R. Buckner in Tillman County, Oklahoma.

I, of course, now had a time frame for the death of Martha Ann – before 1930. I searched for and found an earlier marriage between Rufus Buckner and A. J. Collins that took place in 1883 in Fayette County, Alabama. The fact that Rufus married again by 1892 would indicate A. J. died before that time and that Vester was the child of Rufus and A.J. I found no other records for Vester Buckner. However, by tracking the children in that 1930 record, I found other records that added the initials G. S. to Vester’s name – I thought Vester could be short for Sylvester but I found nothing to support that. With the 1890 census being burned, the 1900 census for Rufus would certainly be a help in adding to what I knew about him.

Last month I found evidence of some Buckner burials in the Frederick Cemetery in Frederick, Oklahoma; unfortunately, when I sought to find them on the transcription of that cemetery, all names from Br to the Cs were missing. I sent an email to the website administrator who said she was a new administrator but would ask the previous administrator. That person looked and was surprised to find my observation to be correct and he supplied me with an Excel spreadsheet of the missing people where I found not only the Buckner people I was looking for, but I found that elusive Rufus Buckner listed as well. Although I didn’t find his wife, Martha, I was a little suspicious that a Mary Ann Buckner who died in 1929 [before the 1930 census] and buried near him might be worth a closer look. My daughter, Kay, and I took a trip to Wise County, Texas and over to Tillman County, Oklahoma in April to see what records and burials we might find. We found the headstone for Rufus to be a double headstone with his wife, Mary Ann – back to that confusing use of nicknames. Apparently any number of females with names beginning with ‘M’ went by Mary, while those whose name was actually Mary often went by Polly or Molly [or Pollie or Mollie].

Rufus and Mary Buckner headstone

Yesterday I decided to return to the Heritage Quest site and search for the first name of William in both Oklahoma and Texas. Obviously there were going to be a lot of Williams in Texas – too many to look at as well as the possibility of having to search for Wm, Rufus or a combination of initials. I set limiters of an age range and being born in Alabama and hoped the census enumerators had been reasonably accurate for a change. I began by selecting Williams who lived in Wise County, Texas and found a William R. Ruckner. I was rewarded with a correct hit on that one. Even though Ancestry.com searches broadly, it would never have tried a substitution of Ruckner for Buckner, even though they rhyme.

This record provided verification that the 1930 census relationship with Vester was a correct one because the 1900 census listed a son born about 1888 – Guy S. Buckner [further research found Guy Sylvester Buckner in the California death index], along with Grover C. and Lone B. Buckner [close enough for the spelling capacity and/or penmanship of the census enumerators]. There was also a bonus of another son I hadn’t yet discovered, John H. Buckner, born about 1884 – a whole new thread to pull.

1900 Census - William R. & Martha A. Ruckner and John H., Guy S., Grover C. and Lone B.

Although that record gave me new information and corroboration, it also created more questions. For example, to the question “Mother of how many children,” Martha Ann answered 5 and noted that all 5 were still living. Based on marriage records, only two of the four listed children should be Martha’s and since the marriage record listed her under her maiden name it is not likely she had three children from a previous marriage who weren’t living with her. On the other hand, since A. J. died when her sons were quite young and Martha would have been their mother for eight years, she may well have responded to the question in terms of caretaking. However, it’s more difficult to wipe away their response as to the length of their marriage – 18 years instead of the 8 expected from their marriage record. Based on what I’ve seen of enumerator’s accuracy in census records, perhaps Martha or Rufus replied eight years to the question, but since the oldest child was sixteen, the enumerator decided he must have not heard the whole answer and filled in logically with eighteen. Fortunately, I have the 1910 census that indicates their marriage was  of 17 years’ duration rather than the 28 I might have expected if I hadn’t had the 1892 marriage record along with the 1910 listing of years of marriage.

After yesterday’s find of the 1900 record I have a new child I was unaware of to research. Additionally, any way I look at it, I’m still missing a fifth child who was alive at least as long as 1900, one most likely born between 1885 and 1891. Fortunately, I really enjoy the hunt itself, so back to work.