52 Ancestors #4 – Rhoda Harmon Lineberry

Harmon, Rhoda LineberryMy great-grandmother, Rhoda Harmon Lineberry, was one of eleven known children and the fifth daughter of Thomas Benjamin Harmon and Delilah Davis born about 1843 probably in Grayson County, Virginia, although her marriage record states she was born in Carroll County [her father was born and died in Grayson County so it would be a reasonable assumption they were living there at the time of her birth].

We don’t know very much about Rhoda. We don’t know her birth date, just three censuses that indicate she was born about 1842 or 1843. There is a marriage record indicating she married George Alex Lineberry on February 26, 1867 in Carroll County, Virginia at the age of 21, which would place her birth in 1846. Since she was listed as 6 on the 1850 census and had two younger siblings, the 1843 date is probably reasonable. The census records also indicate that, like many women, Rhoda could read but not write.

George and his family had an iron forge they operated on Crooked Creek as well as farmed the land on the hills that overlooked the creek. My daughter and I took a trip back to Carroll County in May 2013 and walked part of the family’s land; it was a misty, overcast day, but I was able to take a zoomed-in picture of Crooked Creek below their farm land.IMG_0855 A death record indicates their first child, a daughter named Nancy, was born January 15, 1868 and died January 31, 1868, having lived sixteen days. By the 1870 census, George and Rhoda had a second child, son Leander Francis born in 1869. Four more children were born between 1870 and 1880: my grandfather, Jacob Wesley in 1871, Dillie Viola in 1873, Thomas Allen in 1875 and Piety Catherine in 1878. Another death record identifies an unnamed child was born and died September 8, 1872.

The next few years brought more children:  Callie Dora in 1881, Linnie Ann in 1883, and George Alexander in 1885 – ten children in all. The majority of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire so there is no record listing Rhoda with these children.

My grandfather, Jacob, left home about 1894 and moved to Missouri joining other Lineberry and Harmon relatives who had moved there sometime after the Civil War. His letters back home to his brother, Leander, indicated he had left home because their home was not a very happy place and left no doubt the cause of the unhappiness was his father, George. He did, on the other hand, mention his mother in very positive terms. Kay wrote a story of Jacob’s obvious love for his mother and his grief upon learning of her death in her blog, Such a Good Mother.

Records indicate Rhoda had inherited some land from her father and upon her death on January 31, 1896 at the age of 53, that property was divided among her children. My grandfather was the only one of her children who did not remain on the land. Rhoda was buried on the family land in what is known as the Alex Lineberry Cemetery between her husband, George, and his second wife, Amanda Thompson Lineberry, and surrounded by several of their children and their spouses. IMG_0842_________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors #2 – Jacob Lineberry’s 112th Anniversary

Although I hadn’t intended to write about my maternal grandfather, Jacob Lineberry, because my daughter, Kay, has written about him and I have included him obliquely in posts I’ve done, today would be his and Eva’s 112th wedding anniversary. So for the second in the series proposed by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small – 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, I will write about what we surmise about their marriage from a number of sources.

JacobJacob Lineberry was born in Carroll County, Virginia on May 12, 1871 to George Alex Lineberry and Rhoda Harmon Lineberry as their third child. His life was short; he died on October 31, 1915 when he was only 44 years old.

Jacob left Virginia in 1894 when he was about 23 to join others from his community who had moved earlier to Missouri in the area of Linn County. We discovered in 1998 that Jacob had written a number of letters back to Virginia over the years and about 50 of them had been kept by his older brother, Leander. My cousin, Billy Ray Lineberry, had received the original letters from his father, Leonard Lineberry, and he allowed Kay to make copies of them while we were on a family visit/research trip. These letters gave us a good bit of insight into his character, hopes, dreams, frustrations and hurts.

Carroll County, Virginia where Jacob grew up, specifically the area surrounding the town of Galax, is in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a beautiful country. What makes someone leave a beautiful country where you have family to support and encourage you? From Jacob’s letters we were able to discern several motivations. He was a young man who wanted some success in his life and farming on the side of a rocky mountain, however beautiful, wasn’t likely to offer much economic stability or bright future.  The hard life of a mountain farmer was compounded, according to his letters, by the harshness of his father. Here is a sample from his letter written April 12, 1896 [text is from a direct transcription of his letters] :

“Well Leander I can not tell you how sorry that I am about Thomas and Papa. It looks queer that the old gent cant get along with his children what does he expect to become of himself does he ever expect to die or not I would like to know; If he does where he will find himself. I lived in a racket and fuss all my life till I left Home I did not know how civilized people done. but I am trying to make my life happy now as possible but still I am not as happy as I would be if I was at home and could get along but know I could not and for that reason I will not come back home for a while. I would be ashamed for our relatives to know in this country how Papa does his children. … Leander try to be as a father amongst your children not a brute.

You know while I was at home that Papa was always mad and acted as though he would rather that I was in some other country and I tryed to do as he wanted me to. and I think I can make a living any where that I try to stay.  If I live I expect to get married some time and if I die soon I hope I will be in peace with the heavenly Father and will have money enough to put me away. Try to live this way your self Leander and wish Papa would try and do better.  you and Thomas and the rest of the children feels near to me though you may be far away and still be near. I dont like to hear of any of your being mistreated I hope Papa will try and be as a man.  If he only knew my thoughts and would listen to me he surely would be better.

… I was afraid when mother died that the children could not get along with Papa.  try and have them treated as good as possible. Oh: home without Mother is stilled, a vacant place without Mother which can never be filled.  the children will wander from place to place and no place will feel like home to them.   I wish the children could stay together in peace at home. Ask Papa to treat them kindly and look out for that Great day coming by and by and be ready to meet his God in peace and all of you do the same.”

And from June 22, 1897: “and Papa how is he getting along. Is he so wicked now as he was.  I hope he will get to trying to do better though I must pick the mote out of my own eye before any one else’s. I wish him happiness and success.”

Jacob worked as a farm laborer amongst his Linn County, Missouri relatives and neighbors but also began working as a carpenter. In a letter home written in February 1898, he told of working as a carpenter in Omaha, Nebraska. From the details he provided, he was helping to build the exhibits for The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, which was a world’s fair to be held in Omaha from June 1 to November 1 of 1898. [The picture of Jacob above was taken in Omaha so would have been of him when he was about 28.]

Throughout his letters, Jacob asked about the girls back home – presumably girls he had dated. The two he mentioned the most were Cora B. and Laura Melton. During the eight years from the time he left Virginia until he married Eva in 1902, there was only one mention of a girl, but in comparison to the girls back home, she didn’t seem to measure up. Here are a few examples from his letters of comments regarding girls:

I would to be there and see you all. but my girl is so attractive. But not so much as I thought Cora B was but that was foolishness of me. Of course she was a good girl but there is others better.” [Sept 9, 1895] “I have not heard from any girl in Va for a year or more but I never write, very much, I wrote some time ago to Laura Melton and have not had any ans from her. I would like very much to hear from her.” [Jan 1896] “Tell Laura Melton to write to me. I have not got any ans from my last letter to her and my girl Mollie Bowers. Do you ever see her. Is she as sweet as ever. Tell me of her.” [undated letter]  “I am just the same yet as I was when in Va. I don’t expect to marry soon. I have no girl that I depend on as a friend at all. I may have to come back to Va to get me a girl. There is no girls that beat them anywhere.” [June 22, 1897] “Do you ever on my old Cora girl or any of them. I wonder if she has forgotten me yet.” [February 1898]

Jacob moved to Carterville sometime between September and October of 1898. In a letter to Leander written on the 23rd of October, he said he was working in underground mines but didn’t expect to stay there but until spring. He didn’t get away that soon and in a letter to Leander written in January 1900, he once again mentioned his girlfriend from Virginia: “has all my girls married.  do you ever hear of my Cora girl and how is she getting along.”

None of the letters that have survived have a mention of any girls he may have dated while in Carterville. About as close as he came to suggesting there might have been girls in his life was as quoted above, “I don’t expect to marry soon. I have no girl that I depend on as a friend …” and only the references to the girls back home in Virginia lend any clue that he might have a desire to marry and have a home and family. Perhaps his view of marriage based on his early home life didn’t encourage him to take such a step.

In a November 28, 1900 letter, he told Leander he was still in Carterville though he had been trying to leave. He had some interest in some mines as well as a piece of equipment that was being rented out for use in the mines and a part of his desire to leave was due to the promise of free land in Oklahoma. The dates for the next land lottery was not yet set and he was awaiting that time before leaving. On an undated envelope [1901], Jacob wrote that he was anxious to leave for Oklahoma Territory and a letter dated October 23, 1901 was written from Hobart, Indian Territory and stated he had left Missouri two months earlier. In that letter, he indicated he couldn’t stop writing and wrote up and down the sides of the letter and even wrote on the outside of the envelope after it was sealed. He said he wanted to tell Leander everything he could think of; however, there is no mention of any girls or women in his life and this is only little more than two months before his marriage.

Since Jacob married Eva Keithley on January 11, 1902 and she was from Carterville, it seems an obvious assumption they met there. Eva was born January 7, 1883 so she was twelve years younger than Jacob. When he arrived in Carterville in 1898, she would have been fifteen and only eighteen when he moved away in August 1901 compared to his age of thirty. A newspaper announcement of her impending wedding evidences the fact she was still residing in Carterville after Jacob moved:

My grandmother's 1902 marriage announcement.

My grandmother’s 1902 marriage announcement.

In a letter written December 29, 1901, Jacob finally mentioned a female in his life: “I would surely be glad to see all of you but I cannot afford it as I spend too much money now going from place to place as it is time for me to come to a stop. Well I forgot to tell you that wife would be down in a short time as she is in Mo but I expect her here in a short time and we will try housekeeping for the first time to ourselves but I hope we will not starve, but I am anxious to get me a claim here” This is the only mention of Eva in any of his letters and it only mentions her in passing and without a name. Perhaps, that is evidence that there are some missing letters in which he at least mentioned her by name, but considering we have about fifty of his letters, I suspect we have a fairly good sampling of the things he wrote about.

As I mentioned when I wrote about Eva, she must have gotten pregnant in late August just days before Jacob moved away; every letter to his brother indicated he expected to not return to Missouri. With this information and little else to go on, I suspect Eva was left to track him down in order to let him know of her condition. From the off-hand way in which he mentioned her in his letter, I also suspect the marriage was more the result of a sense of duty and responsibility than of an undying love or emotional attachment to her, although referring to her as wife rather than Eva is likely an indication he was at peace with the decision to marry and was already thinking of her in that role as he prepared a place for her and their future child.

Jacob apparently either met Eva in Mangum, Oklahoma or joined her on the train at Hobart and accompanied her to Mangum so they could be married [Mangum is the county seat of Greer County, the next county to the west of Kiowa County, which is where Hobart is located. It is possible since Hobart was only about four months old there was no place yet established to get licenses to marry.]Jacob and Eva's marriageIn a letter written fifteen days after his marriage, he still mentioned nothing of his wife or his marriage. He mentioned he had bought a house and reflected on the probability that had he married several years ago in Virginia he would likely have had a nice house by now.

Following his marriage, Jacob still wrote to his brother mostly about work, money, weather, education and spiritual matters as well as asking about his family back home, although in July 1903, in response to learning of the death of one of his brother’s sons, he wrote, “I realize it to be a Sad affair to loose one of our loved ones. I was always fond of children but never knew the real love and sympathy for a child as I now do. Our little boy taken very sick last night and has been sick all day but seems to be some better now. though I have been very uneasy about him. I think it is his teeth and hope he will be well in afew days, the only thing that we can do is to be in Peace with the Father.”

Finally, in July 1906 he again mentioned something about his family, “I am getting very anxious to come back home and see you all once more I will try and come this fall if I possibly can as I am not fixed to come now as I was afew yrs ago. but I kept neglecting and putting off and now I have a wife and babys to leave.  If I come I will bring our boy with me did I tell you we had another boy he’s about 4 months old and a fine big boy.” And then in another paragraph, “our oldest boy is 4 yrs and has been going school this summer he thinks it is a big trick.”

One last mention of his family in his September 1914 letter, “our eldest boy has been sick for some time with Typhoid Fever but is well now, or at least I hope so as he had two back sets that kept him down for weeks, which caused me to loose about two months work I had just traded for a stock of goods when he took sick and had to dispose of them as the stock was at another Town, this is the first sickness that we have ever had in our family but we will have to bear our burdens as they come.”

Although it is hard to discern much about their relationship from the few mentions he made of his wife and even of their children in his letters, it would appear that, though the marriage was not likely a planned event, Jacob made a commitment to Eva and to their children – seven of them all told. In a time period where many photos made the people appear to be sad or angry, all the pictures we have of Eva during the time of her marriage to Jacob show her smiling and that seems to me to be a tribute to any man.

To read my daughter’s stories about Jacob, see Lineberry Legacy, Jacob and Eva, and Hallows Eve 1915.

52 Ancestors #1 Eva Keithley

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog has issued a challenge to write an ancestor’s story once a week for 52 weeks. Since that seemed to be a way to honor my word of the year – intentional – and my interest in family history, I decided to participate.

Although I knew almost all my aunts and uncles, I never knew any ancestors: my maternal grandfather died in 1915, my maternal grandmother in 1922, my paternal grandmother in 1938 and my paternal grandfather in 1942 (although he likely had met me, I have no recollection of him since I was not quite 2 when he died).

Fortunately, my daughter chose to become our family historian and to learn everything she could about her ancestors. Without Kay’s interest, I may never have even heard my grandparents’ names, let alone know anything about their lives.

My grandmother, Eva Keithley Lineberry Fox, died five days after her 39th birthday – 18 1/2 years before I was born. Because her younger children, ages 7 to 14, were dispersed from Oklahoma to Virginia to live with various paternal relatives and because my mother was the youngest child, I do not recall ever seeing anything belonging to Eva – even a photo of her.

Eva was the second child of Joseph Henry Keithley and Martha Ann Conn*, born January 7, 1883 in Fairview, Fulton County, Illinois. Her sister, Violet Belle, was born two years earlier in 1881 in Fairview, and her brother, Leo Henry, was born in Fairview in 1884. [One other sister, Mabel Amy, was born in 1889 in Missouri. Because Martha Keithley apparently died shortly after the birth of Mabel and because Joseph’s business as a grocer did not allow him to both work and care for his young children, the three older children were given to relatives to care for and Mabel was given to a local family to adopt; this family moved to Wisconsin and Mabel had no contact with her birth family until she was a teenager.] 1899 eva keithley_edited-1

Sometime between 1884 when Leo was born and 1889 when Mabel was born, Joseph and his family moved to Carterville, Missouri, which is in Jasper County. Kay received a photo of Eva taken about 1898 when she was about 15.

The 1900 census shows Eva living with her father, step-mother, brother and two half-siblings as well as a great uncle, and next door to her sister, Violet, newly married to Thomas Newton Todd:

1900 census

Jacob had also been living in Carterville at the time of the 1900 census; he was a boarder in a home about three blocks from Eva’s home.

1900 census Jacob

In 1992 we received copies of about 50 letters Jacob had written to his brother in Virginia from 1894 until his death in 1915. Those letters indicated Jacob had left Carterville in August 1901 to go to Oklahoma to see if he could get some of the land being offered in land runs. In January 1902, Eva married Jacob Wesley Lineberry in Mangum, Oklahoma, apparently at the Greer County courthouse.

When we found the marriage record for Jacob, we noted the date of January 11, 1902 was just five months before the birth of their first child, William Siebert Lineberry on May 12, 1902. On a research trip to Jasper County, a review of newspapers for Carterville mentioned the town held a huge three day party in August 1901 hosted by the mine companies in the area. Past and present miners had been invited to come stay at the small community lake’s recreation area and to camp on the grounds and Jacob had been affiliated with the mines. There was camping, picnicking, bands and dancing and games for three days. The combination of the community’s party atmosphere along with Jacob’s impending departure likely resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.

On the same trip to Jasper County, we found a newspaper notice of Eva’s impending marriage. The article indicated Eva worked as a night operator for the telephone company. With a 21st century mindset, it is difficult to imagine how an 18 year old in 1902 would have coped with a pregnancy when the soon-to-be father had moved away, particularly to the more uncivilized parts of our country that had yet to become a part of the United States. We have evidence that Jacob wrote letters, so perhaps he had written to Eva once he arrived at his next residence thus giving her a way to contact him by mail to let him know of the pregnancy. It’s also possible she knew enough of his location to be able to use her telephone access to get word to him.

However she managed to contact him, they agreed to marry and Eva set out alone and five months pregnant, presumably riding by train from Joplin through Indian Territory to Hobart, Oklahoma in the middle of the winter; the railroad and depot for Hobart had only been recently completed. At this time in our history, decent women found it difficult if not impossible to enter dining establishments without a man to accompany them. This would mean Eva likely had to take enough food with her to sustain her for the trip. In January a couple of years ago my brother, sister-in-law, daughter and I drove a route similar to the one the train she rode would have taken; the view out her windows would have been mostly a barren flat expanse of nothing. As I looked out my car window, I wondered if she were terrified or excited, filled with hope or near despair  or a combination of all those emotions.

After their marriage in Mangum, Jacob and Eva returned to the town of Hobart, a town that was non-existent until August 6, 1901 when the lots were drawn. Jacob had missed the deadline to file in El Reno for the lot drawing but arrived in Hobart shortly after the town was established and where his carpentry skills were in demand to build everything. Jacob purchased a lot and built and prepared a small house to bring Eva home to.

Willie, their first born, was one of the first babies born in the town of Hobart. Their first daughter, Bernita, arrived in May 1904. 1912 File0015They sold their property in Hobart about 1905 and moved to a town first known as Greeley, then Capitol Hill and then the Capitol Hill area of Oklahoma City. They had five more children in that community: Johnnie in 1906, Leonard in 1908, Joseph (Joe) in 1910, George in 1912, and my mother, Virginia, in 1914.

Sometime around 1913 Jacob bought a feed store with a partner in Cushing, Oklahoma and was living and working there a good bit of the time while Eva and the children remained at their home in Capitol Hill. His letters to his brother indicated he was unhappy with the way his partner did business and was hoping to sell the business there and return to his family. Late in 1914, Willie got typhoid fever and Jacob left Cushing and returned to their home to help Eva take care of Willie and the others. After Willie recovered, Jacob returned to Cushing still with the intent of selling the business. In 1915, Jacob developed typhoid fever and on October 31, 1915, he died leaving Eva a widow with seven children.

James Edward Fox was a man who had worked with Jacob. On December 5, 1916, Eva married Mr. Fox. Following their marriage in Washington County, Oklahoma, they established a home in Oilton, Oklahoma. Once again, Eva was pregnant and their daughter June Evelyn Fox was born in June 1917, followed by the birth of Arthur Ronald Fox in 1919.

In December 1921 when Eva was near term in her tenth pregnancy, she and James had a huge quarrel. My mother ran to hide in a closet but she heard their argument. She said her mother shouted at Mr. Fox and said, “I hate you, and I hope I die and I hope this baby dies.” Shortly after that Eva went into labor and during the delivery process, she had a stroke and went into a coma. Albert Edward Fox was born December 21, 1921. He soon developed pneumonia and died on January 1, 1922. Eva never awoke from the coma and died on January 12, 1922.

Joe & Leonard at Eva's Grave Albert and Eva were buried in the same plot at Highland Cemetery in Oilton, Oklahoma. The picture to the right is of two of her sons, Joe and Leonard, standing on either side of her tombstone.

*My daughter and I have written other blogs on our attempt to adequately identify Eva’s mother – including being confident of her last name.  Here are links to other blogs regarding Martha Ann Conn: a blogging challenge in which I wrote about Martha as our brick wall and three blogs written by Kay: Matrilineal Line for Saturday Night Fun ; What’s Martha’s Maiden Name; and The Conn Case.

Can Read, Can’t Write?

Everything I’ve ever known about education – curriculum – is that children begin to learn to read and write simultaneously from their very first days in elementary or grammar school. In transcribing information about my ancestors into my genealogy database, I’ve noted and wondered about those who recorded they could read but not write.

Beginning in 1850 and running through the 1880 census, one of the question sections was whether the person enumerated could read and/or write as well as if they had attended school within the past year.  Again, because of the current educational requirements, I would have expected every person between certain ages to have been checked for attending school and being able to read and write. However, that is not the case at all.

For example, in the 1870 census below, my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Farquhar Welch Jackson is shown by a slash mark (in the far right column) that she cannot write. The column just to the left of the slash mark indicates she could read. Her second husband, James Jackson, can both read and write. Her four children from her first marriage are all checked as having attended school within the year; Jane (18) and James (16) can both read and while Isabel (14) can read but not write and my great-grandfather Thomas (12) appears to have slashes indicating he can neither read nor write (later censuses indicated he could both read and write as was the case with the remaining children). educationParticularly intriguing to me is that sometimes even within the same family not all children had attended school within the past year. Sometimes it might be the youngest, say an eight-year-old, who hadn’t attended school within the year but those up to perhaps 18 had attended. With the current education system having had kindergartens for more than my lifetime and a requirement to begin school by age five or six, depending on where one’s birth date falls, I always wonder what family story might explain educational disparity within one family.

The 1940 census, which became available a little over a year ago, identifies the highest education level achieved for everyone within the household. This also sheds light on one’s family heritage. For example, I’ve known most of my life that my mother was orphaned before she turned eight and was sent to her father’s extended family in Carroll County, Virginia, where she did not attend school from 1922 until 1929, although due to her having attended school in Oilton, Oklahoma prior to that move, she was already able to read and write.

In reviewing my direct and indirect family lines by way of the 1940 census, I could see that the majority of the people in that Virginia community had between zero years of education and, perhaps, four to six, with an occasional exception.

Seeing these education levels sheds light on a major theme my grandfather, Jacob Lineberry who was from Carroll County, wrote in letters written around the turn of the 20th century to his brother still living in Virginia; for example, “… [I] hope people they will go to school and try and get an education. I find a man without education is like a horse without harness.” And again when he asked about his youngest brother, “Does Alex go to school I surely wish Papa would send him to school and let him get an education. It is a poor thing to start a boy out now without an education he will be doomed for hard work all his life And the hardest of the work.” In a later letter he said, ” I hope the little Brothers and Sisters will get a good education I think is worth more than a Father can give to a child. if Papa had given me a good education I would thank him for a thousand times but we was raised up like kins that is not sent to school. I hope he will try and send the other children to school if he will spend any money on them that is the only way and Leander try and send your children to school. I have tried enough of the world to know what a man needs.”

My mother apparently caught enough of her father’s attitude toward education that when she returned to Oklahoma, after a 7-year lapse in schooling while in Virginia, she began school in the third grade at age 15. As her teachers saw she was grasping concepts, they advanced her through the grades and within a year she was in the sixth grade. She continued with school until the tenth grade when lack of money to buy books and materials forced her to drop out.

Today, as I was reading some transcriptions of full newspapers from Lamar County, Alabama, which is a community in which I have had indirect family living, I noted the following article from the November 26, 1880 issue of The Vernon Clipper[1], which may shed some light on how it might happen that someone could read but not write.education

The first thing to notice is that the ad specifies the school is for both male and female students. From today’s perspective, we would never think about making sure to specify that girls were to be included in this educational opportunity. Second is that the school is not scheduled to open until November. With our schools opening in late August or perhaps the first days of September, it seems particularly odd to begin a school year in November. I would suppose the demands of crops and farm life established the optimal time for education.

Although this school’s divisions into Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and High School would not translate into anything comparable to grades within our education system, I would suspect Primary might be grades 1 and 2 and possibly 3; Intermediate might be grades 3, 4 and 5, with Grammar being what we might refer to as Middle School. The first educational thing I noted was that writing was not taught at all in the Primary grades; it was not begun until the Intermediate grades.

If Intermediate grades didn’t begin until, say, the fourth grade, that might explain why Isabel could read but not write at the age of 14 and perhaps why, if Sarah had only gone to school for the first two or three grades, that as an adult she might read but not write. It doesn’t, however, explain why Thomas might not have been able to either read or write at the age of 12, although there is some sort of mark on the census for him that makes it difficult to interpret what may be present in those boxes.

Additionally, note there is a fee for education versus the publicly funded education that has been available for everyone throughout my lifetime. Many families enumerated in these early censuses had as many as twelve or thirteen children and income was very limited. My great-grandfather J.F. Willis was a part-time minister. We found the minutes from one of his churches listing his salary for four separate years [it was unclear if these were annual salaries or monthly salaries, although most church budgets were annualized]:


The fee scale for the school was monthly and graduated based on education level. With J.F.’s income for the time period in mind and the fact he had seven children, his possible fees for one school year might have been 2 Primary students [$1.50 x 8 months each student] $24.00; 2 Intermediate students [$2.00 x 8 months each student] $32.00; 2 Grammar students [$2.50 x 8 months each student] $40.00; and one High School student [$3.00 for 8 months] $24.00. The annual cost for educating his children would have been $120.00 a year.

From this review, I now know children didn’t necessarily begin school at five or six and they didn’t learn to write at the same time they learned to read, all of which provides some insight into the education levels within my historical family.


[1] http://www.newspaperabstracts.com/link.php?action=detail&id=17809

Why Analyze Genealogical Data?

Genealogy is a constant learning process. In the beginning stages, the question may be, who were my great-grandparents. Learning a name and where they lived fills in an empty spot on a family tree and for many that is sufficient. But once a name on a tree is not enough and you decide to look for documentation to track where they lived and worked, bore their children and are buried, the need for careful examination and evaluation of what you find becomes important.

Yesterday, as I was trying to clear up a death date – to which of the multiple Leanders did it belong [I had the same birth/death dates for two Leanders – one in Linn County, Missouri and one in Carroll County, Virginia]. Although the Virginia death date came from the family Bible, it was beginning to look as if it were the one in error]. In this process, I came across a perfect illustration of why it’s important to analyze the data from the documents you find. Although the search began with Leander Lineberry, eventually the bigger question of the moment became who were the parents of Robert J. (R.J.) Lineberry.

I started with information from the 1900 census for Linn County, Missouri for Leander Lineberry, which showed him with a second wife [first wife, Prissilla Coulson Lineberry, had died in 1893].

1900 Mary Harmon

This record shows that he and his wife, Mary, have been married for six years and that she is the mother of one child born/one child living. She is recorded as 52 years old, which would mean she was over 45 when a child of that marriage would have been born; however, there is no child enumerated within the household. The most logical interpretation for this information would be that her child had been born in a previous relationship, but at this point only a guess.

I found the marriage record for Leander and Mary, which verified what I had already learned from other family records – that his second wife was Mary Harmon:

Marriage License Leander Lineberry-Mary Harman

The 1850 census for the Harmon family shows both Mary ‘Polly’ Harmon and her sister Elizabeth still living at home in Carroll County, Virginia with their widowed father, Patrick, my third great-grandfather:

1850 Mary Harmon

When I looked at the 1880 census for Mary Harmon, I found her living with her sister, Elizabeth Harmon and her husband, Joseph H. Lineberry, and their children.

1880 census mary harman robert lineberry

By the 1880 census, relationships within a family unit are listed; the relationships are listed as to how they are related to the head of household. Typically, a census lists the core family as a unit before listing any other people living in the household. Since that is not the case here, it is cause for wondering why. The core family would appear to be Joseph and Elizabeth and two children, Patrick L. and Harriet A. with Mary Harmon as a sister-in-law living with them. The insertion of Robert Lineberry below Mary as a son of the core family is a little unusual and the main reason for further consideration. The 1870 census for Mary sheds a little light on the situation.

1870 census mary harman robert harmon

Joseph and Elizabeth are shown on the previous page, which I have not copied; at the top of the second page are three of their children – Wilburn, Alverdo and Patrick. In the next household [this enumerator seemed to place the household numbers at the bottom of a family unit rather than at the top], Mary Harmon is enumerated with her son, Robert Harmon. Since Harmon is Mary’s maiden name, it leads to a possibility of his birth being outside of a marital relationship [it would not be unheard of for her to have married someone with her same surname]. This listing does seem to support the interpretation from the 1880 census that the listing of Robert underneath the name of Mary rather than underneath the core Lineberry family was not an accident. It does not, however, address the name change from Harmon to Lineberry and whether this was an enumerator choice or reflected some surname shift.

Checking with Ancestry.com family trees for Robert Harmon Lineberry does not show anything for the Harmon name, but does for Robert Lineberry. Every tree shows him as a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Harmon Lineberry. If one stopped at the 1880 census and the listing of him as a son of the head of household without considering his placement on the census form, that would be the conclusion.

However, assembling information on a family line is a process that, over time, gives a lot of variables – from that list of variables, I now know Robert Harmon went by R. J. Lineberry. a 1900 census listing for R. J. Lineberry provides additional insight to help clarify who he was:

1900 R.J. Lineberry census

This record shows R. J. living in a presumably unrelated household, listed as a servant but [not shown in this image] also working as a saw mill hand. He is listed as 35 and widowed; I have not yet discovered a marriage record to account for the widowed status. Here is the more telling piece of the puzzle: both he and his mother were listed as born in Virginia but he doesn’t know the birth location of his father, which would not be the case if Joseph Lineberry were that father.

Still with the name of Robert J. Lineberry, two years later, there is a marriage record for him and Mary J. Briggs.

Robert J. Lineberry marriage

I found a FindAGrave record for R. J. Lineberry showing his death in April 1909. The 1910 census record gives credence to that death:

1910 census mary harman mary briggs lineberry widows

This 1910 record supports several items of interpretation even though it is an enumerator mess – please note the head of household is listed as Mary Lineberry [who only picked up the name of Lineberry in her 1896 marriage so not pertinent to the 1865/66 birth of her now known to be only child]; this Mary is widowed and 64, while her mother-in-law is also Mary Lineberry who is widowed and only 24. Additionally, Robert is listed as a female born in about 1907 – Robert was, in fact, a male child who died in 1909 while there was another male child, Theodore, who was born in 1909 but is not listed. That misinformation notwithstanding, we can now see that Robert’s mother was not Elizabeth Harmon Lineberry, but was Mary Harmon Lineberry – she, once again is listed as having had one child, this time deceased, while Mary Briggs Lineberry is the mother of four children, one of whom is deceased [Robert, the who is the one listed as living].

The FindAGrave record for Mary L. Lineberry opened new questions. It listed her as the spouse of R. J. Lineberry rather than the Leander of the marriage license and 1900 census. It also illustrates another reason to not take records at face value – if I had, I would have believed this death/burial record to be for another Mary L. Lineberry. Upon a review of the details, this Mary Lineberry’s birth is listed as 6 January 1845 while her spouse, R. J. Lineberry, has a birth date of 16 November 1866 – he would have been 19 years younger than his wife (not impossible but certainly unusual); additionally, the 1910 record for R.J.’s wife, Mary, would show her to have been quite young at the time of her marriage – perhaps 15. Since Mary Harmon was approximately 19 years old at the time of the birth of her son Robert J. Harmon-Lineberry, I had to wonder if  this was perhaps a mis-linking by the FindAGrave memorial creator. I emailed him with my questions and a request for any supportive details he might be able to provide in order to determine if this record was my Mary Harmon Lineberry or another Mary Lineberry. He responded by saying he couldn’t determine why he had them linked since this memorial was Mary L. and R.J.’s wife was M. J. He said he would look into it and get back with me. After several emails back and forth his conclusion is that R.J. was, in fact, the son of Mary L. Lineberry rather than her spouse. He also contacted his sister who provided a brief obituary for Mary L. Lineberry, a transcription [or summary] is below:

June 24, 1921
Died, Mrs L. Lineberry died rural home near St. Catherine age 76. Services at Wyandotte Chapel Husband and son preceded her some years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Griffin had cared for her for a number of years.  This came from the Marceline Mirror-Journal 1920–1924. [The date listed is the date of publication – her death date was 21 June 1921.]

A marriage record for Beulah Lineberry, the child listed in the 1910 census] shows her mother as Mary Griffin who had to give permission for her underage daughter to marry, which record, combined with the obituary, tells me Mary Briggs Lineberry Griffin continued to provide a home for her mother-in-law until her death in 1921.

Although I still do not know when, why or how Robert Harmon changed his surname to Lineberry, I believe it is clear from the record that he did. I also believe that since Elizabeth Harmon Lineberry was not his mother, it is not likely that Joseph Lineberry was his father [though such complicated relationships are not unheard of] – the 1900 census record stating he did not know the birth location of his father is also supportive of the interpretation that Joseph was not his father. I have not searched for any possible legal name change papers, but it is highly probable that due to being raised in the home of his aunt and uncle, Joseph and Elizabeth Lineberry, and to avoid the difficult issue of illegitimacy, and going to school with his cousins that the name merely evolved over time. It is also clear that his relationship with his mother remained over that same period of time, in spite of a name change.

Without taking the time to analyze as broad a spectrum of the paper trail as is feasible, the names and relationships on a family tree are likely to contain a relatively large degree of misinformation and error. To utilize an expression most of us heard when we were growing up – “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” Genealogy or filling in names on your family tree is a great illustration of that family adage.

My Family – 100 Years Ago – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver in this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has given us this mission:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 January 1913 – 100 years ago.

2)  List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.

My grandparents, Zed Hamp and Mellie Jane Welch Willis were living in New Salem Precinct, Itawamba County, Mississippi April 23, 1910 when the census enumerator listed them. Their children at the time were Franklin (7), Thomas (6) [my daddy], John (4), Earnest (3) and Ruthy (1 yr 8 months). Mellie would have been early in her pregnancy with the next son, Rufus Rex who was born in December 25, 1910. They were family number 155 while family number 158 was Mellie’s brother, James W. Welch, and his wife, Pearlie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Brazzie.

On a visit to the library in Fulton, Itawamba, Mississippi in 2002, we found a 1912 listing of school students and all but Ruth were listed as students in Township 10, Range 9 of Itawamba County. This would have been two to three miles north of New Salem where they were for the 1910 census (Township 11, Range 9). I found an old Itawamba map that shows the township/range on it; I copied just that section to have some idea of where that was.1912 Township 10, Range 9 Itawamba County

By the time of the 1920 census they were just south of the New Salem location in Smithville, Monroe, Mississippi, which might indicate they were somewhere within a 25 to 30 mile straight line  in eastern Mississippi. However, another child, Lee Roy, was born May 17, 1913 and his birth location was Fayette County, Alabama, which was the marriage location as well as the birth location for the first three of their children (the first daughter died in infancy). Whether they had moved back to Alabama for a brief time between 1912 and May 1913 or whether Mellie had delivered a baby on a visit there is not known, although we did find a quit claim deed for 40 acres of land in Township 10, Range 9 that was conveyed in May 1919, which would indicate they were most likely living there from 1912 through 1919.1919 May Quit Claim Deed

Zed Hamp’s father and my great-grandfather, James Franklin Willis was born and died in Fayette County, Alabama. J.F.’s wife had died about 1883  and his mother sometime between the 1900 and 1910 censuses but he lived until 1926. On a trip to Fayette County in 2010, a second cousin, Charles Burns, drove us along Old Gin Road and pointed out locations where JF had lived. The land was totally overgrown with no homes anywhere along Old Gin Road. At the end of the road, we made a right turn onto Ballenger Road and Charles drove us by the last home location for JF when he lived with his son John William. We do have a photo of that home taken in 1961.

John Willis Home ca 1961

Although J.F.’s wife and my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner Willis, had died sometime after 1883, and her father died during the Civil War, her mother lived until 1917. Nancy Foster Buckner Watkins Saling moved to Wise County, Texas sometime around the middle of the 1890s where she married for the third time in 1897. According to a Civil War pension file dated December 1913, Nancy had resided in Decatur, Texas for 20 years. On a trip to Wise County in 2011, we drove through areas we had found records about her and visited Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur, Texas where she is buried.


My paternal grandmother Mellie’s parents, William Thomas and Mary Monroe ‘Molly’ Sanford Welch were living in Fulton, Itawamba, Mississippi at the time of the 1910 census. Also enumerated in the family home were Jessie Ellis (21), Lovie (16), Essie (15) and Myrtie (11). We do not have any photos of their home. Today would have been their  134th wedding anniversary, having married January 5, 1879 in Fayette County, Alabama at the home of his brother, James Alexander ‘Bud’ Welch. Mellie’s grandparents were both deceased prior to 1913 (in 1907 and 1911).

My mother’s parents, Jacob Wesley and Eva Keithley Lineberry were living in the Capitol Hill area of Oklahoma City. There are city directories for almost every year available on ancestry.com and the majority of them show them living at 318 Avenue D, which is approximately the 300 block of SW 26th Street in Oklahoma City. In 1908 he was a carpenter, 1910 a dairyman, 1913 working in feed and coal – from letters he wrote to his brother, he was actually working in feed and coal in Cushing, Oklahoma and only managing to come visit his family in Oklahoma City periodically.

1913 OKC Directory Listing

The children living in the home on Avenue D would have been Willie (11), Bernita (9), Johnnie (7), Leonard (5), Joe (3) and George (1); my mother would not be born for another year. We were sent a photo of their home by a distant relative who found it in a box of photos in Galax, Virginia, which is where Jacob was from – he had presumably sent it to his sister.

Eva, 3 kids & other woman OKCThe woman on the left is unidentified but the woman on the right is Eva and the children are Bernita, Johnnie and Leonard in Eva’s arms; the picture would have been taken about 1909.

Jacob’s father, George Alex Lineberry, had remarried in 1896 after the death of Jacob’s mother. George (67) and Amanda (37) and their five living children were enumerated the 1910 census in Sulphur Springs, Carroll, Virginia. He was a farmer in the Blue Ridge mountains and we do not have any pictures of his home.

1910 Census Clip

Eva’s parents were both deceased prior to 1913; her mother sometime around 1890 and her father in 1911. Her father was living in Joplin, Jasper, Missouri at the time of his death. Her paternal grandmother died in Lewiston, Fulton, Illinois in May 1912 and we have no information on her maternal grandparents.

None of the residences of my grandparents and great-grandparents still exist and I’ve never seen any of them; in fact all but Zed Hamp died before I was born and he died when I was one year old.