I think we can all agree that the Bible is a good book, but if you had to name ONE part that gets skimmed over, what would it be? The “begats” obviously. The fact that someone begat someone else is vitally important to historians, but for those of us who like a good story, it’s a yawn.

Family history is the same way. When I go to the Ancestry website, I want to to know who these people were, what they were thinking, what their days were like. More often than not, I just get begats or milestones.

Take my great-great-grandmother, Mahala Hailey C. Davis for instance.

Mahalal

Read More From The History Files – Write it all Down

History Fun

History doesn’t just have to be about your own family, it can be about anything – famous generals, places, and even trees!

In Last In A Long Line of Rebels, Lou lives in a town named Zollicoffer. In reality, there’s no such town. There is, however, an “area” called Zollicoffer by the locals. There’s not a post office, or town square, but most people living outside Livingston, TN can point you there. The area was named for General Felix Zollicoffer, the first Confederate General killed in the western theatre, because it’s believed he camped nearby during the Civil War.

Felix

Read More From The History Files – Zollicoffer Is Real

History Fun

dar

Tomorrow is the 4th of July so I thought it was an appropriate time to mention that my ancestor was involved in the American Revolution. So, you’re welcome.

While American’s are eating 150 million hot-dogs, I’ll be sitting smugly under the fireworks and thinking about George Reed. According to my sister, who did all of this research to become a member of DAR, our 5th great grandfather on my father’s side supported the American Revolution by providing supplies. Sure, it’s not as exciting as riding through the countryside and yelling, “The British are coming!”, but still it was treasonous. If we had lost the war, he could have been hung. He wasn’t just putting himself in danger, but his family as well, and George had a BIG family.

According to Ancestry.com:

George Reed was born on December 23, 1719, in Rowan County, North Carolina, the child of William Eldad and Elizabeth. He married Abigail Phelps in 1757 in Rowan County, North Carolina. They had 14 children in 27 years. He died on November 17, 1784, in Rowan County, North Carolina, at the age of 64.

Think about our freedom this weekend, and the ones who went before to make it happen. Use the holiday to talk to your family and ask about your own family tree. You may just find an extra reason to celebrate.

 

 

wpsignature

 

 

 

LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS releases September 29, 2015. You can preorder here.

History Fun

I was thinking today about Bertie, the grandmother, in LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS. She seems to be a lot of people’s favorite character. Although she isn’t based at all on reality, my own grandmother, Granny Meadows, is quite the character herself. She’ll be 102 this August, and while her health is failing, she still manages to laugh every day.

AGneoma

A few years ago, the girls in the family took a trip to Asheville, NC to see the Biltmore Estate. After a long day of walking, we were resting in the hotel room when the conversation turned to dancing. Granny Meadows was a big fan of the Charleston, and said if we could find the music, she’d show us how it was done. She was a month shy of 97 at the time.

My brother posted it online, we watched it, them promptly forgot about it. Last year, my sister and I looked everywhere for it, finally remembered that we had a brother, and found it again on his Flickr account.

Now we can watch it anytime and remember how wonderful and fun our grandmother has always been. Talk to your grandparents, write down the names and dates of important events, label your photographs, and take video!

wpsignature

 

PS: The video of Granny Meadows is HERE.

 

History Fun

In my upcoming book, LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS, Bertie is not a big fan of Yankees. I hope she’s wrong about them since I’ll be heading to New York City next week. I’ve been a little worried about fittin’ in, but it turns out that I’m a descendant of a very prominent New Yorker!

According to my mother and her genealogy research, my great-grandfather was a fellow named William Layton Meadows. His grandmother was named Pauline Stewart. Pauline’s father was David Stewart, a direct descendent of Dr. John Stewart who married Elizabeth Alberti. Whew. Are you still with me? Okay, drum roll please….. Elizabeth Alberti is the grand-daughter of Pietro Cesare Alberti! Who is Pietro Cesare Alberti you ask?

Per Wikipedia: Pietro Cesare Alberti (1608–1655) was a Venetian immigrant to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, commonly regarded as the first Italian American. Alberti was the first of millions of Italian Americans who would later form part of American culture. June 2 commemorates “Pietro Alberti Day” in New York City. A small stone in Battery Park marks the spot of Pietro’s arrival. The Albertis farmed 100 acres in Brooklyn until Pietro and Judith were killed in an Indian raid in 1655.

albertiday

It’s a shame that I’ll be done with the Book Buzz  event and on my way home before June 2. I bet the Alberti Day fireworks are spectacular. Also, I’d like to look into that whole 100 acres in Brooklyn thing. You’d think the city could throw an acre or so to a descendent after letting poor Pietro get killed by Indians!

wpsignature

 

History Fun

In REBELS, Louise Duncan is only sixteen, but already engaged to Walter Mayhew.  Of course, it is the 1860’s.

According to my own family history, sixteen is the age when the young women begin to think about matrimony. Today’s story is about my great-aunt Bertha Angeline Lewis.  (Courtesy of Footprints of John Smith Lewis by Robert Earl Allen).

When Bertha was sixteen and her favorite beau, Oscar Davis was eighteen, they decided to run off and get married. Their plan was that on Sunday, while the family was at church, they’d go to Oscar’s sister’s house, Francis Webb and be married. Someone at church told Bertha’s parents what was happening and her father raced home to find her.

Bertha wrote,

“When Dad found me at the Webb’s he made me go home, talking to me all the way, even threatening to whip me. I told him to go on and whip, and you won’t ever do it again! He didn’t follow thru on his threat, but when we got home, Mother was coming. She was crying and holding one of the children, Jack, and he was crying too.

 

Oscar was man enough to come to the house and try to talk the parents into giving their approval, but Bertha’s dad said no. FINALLY, after hours of talking, he finally figured that they would do it anyway, and gave in.

 “Oscar got a hold of my hand and we ran up the road as hard as we could. We were married outside under an oak tree. This was June 8, 1919.”

The couple spent their honeymoon with Francis, and the next day, Oscar was afraid to go home for fear of what HIS dad would say. Eventually his father came to the house and told them they could come on home. Good thing, because it would be another six months before Bertha’s family would speak to them! Despite their rocky beginning, Bertha and Oscar went on to have four kids.

History Fun

Today I get to talk about an ancestor on my father’s side of the family. My mom is visiting and brought me three huge books that have been compiled by various family members. In REBELS, Lou knows almost nothing about her family history. I am so luck that my family has cared enough to research and document letters, conversation, etc.

John Smith Lewis is my great, great grandfather. One of his daughters, Nancy Jane, married a fellow named Jim High. Our story begins with Jim High’s father – William.

William High served in the Confederate Army and was tasked with bringing in a deserter. He went to the deserter’s last known address and was shot before he got to the porch! Good news, he found his deserter. Bad news, he died. According to family members, Jim High never got over his father’s murder. Years later, the deserters name was revealed to him, and Jim ALLEGEDLY confronted him. One Sunday night soon after, the deserter disappeared and was never found again. When friends and family asked Jim if he was involved, he answered, “A place was prepared for him and he is there – and that’s all I will ever say.”

The book has one more note about Nancy Jane and Jim. It says that ALLEGEDLY, Jim and a friend named Leander were caught and arrested for making illegal moonshine whiskey. Jim escaped jail, loaded his family and their belongings into a wagon and took off to Kentucky. Leander wasn’t so lucky and spent 3 years in prison.

Reading these books has been so interesting to me. What do you think our great, great, grandchildren will be reading about us? Is anyone else worried that we’re going to seem really boring after people like Jim High?

wpsignature

 

 

History Fun

In REBELS, Lou lives in a small town called Zollicoffer (named after General Felix Zollicoffer) and finds out that her great-great-great grandfather was a Confederate solider. I’d already written the first draft of the book when I found out that mine was too!

A couple of years ago, my family held a Halfacre reunion. After a fun afternoon of good food and conversation, we were preparing to leave when a young man walked up and asked if we were coming to the Andrew Halfacre memorial immediately following the reunion. (You remember Andrew, my great-great grandfather? He was the one who was accused of running around with numerous lewd women.) Turns out he was  was in the Civil War and served under Felix Zollicoffer himself! Obviously, we had to go.

My family climbed in the truck with my mom while my cousins who were visiting from Michigan said they’d meet us there. As we headed down the tiny back roads, down the gravel lane, through the yard and into the field behind some stranger’s house, I realized I REALLY, REALLY wanted my Yankee cousins to find us.

Cause I walked up and saw this –

And this –

And this guy –

My cousins arrived just in time to hear the commander say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, a pledge to the Confederate flag, and to hear a quick history about The War of Northern Aggression which was not about slavery but about the greedy North trying to tax the South to death. Also, Abraham Lincoln beat his wife.

My sweet cousin, Amy, leaned over and whispered, “This is like something out of a MOVIE.”

Amy was a trooper but I’m pretty sure she lip-synched through the Confederate flag pledge.

In REBELS, Lou finds a diary that shows her ancestors changing stance on the War. I’ll keep looking for Andrew’s! Maybe I’ll find that it was his guilt for fighting for the Confederacy that drove him into the arms of all those women.

wpsignature

 

History Fun

Letters are a wonderful resource if you’re interested in your family history. In REBELS, Lou finds a letter in an old family bible. In my life, my mom has several letters that family members have  shared. The one below is from my great-uncle James Meadows. He’d just learned that a sister had died and in it he reminisces about being a young boy and spending time with his brother-in-law, Hick.

Hick and I go back a long ways. I worked for him on the farm when I was a teenager and among other things we raised a tobacco crop. I was told that I would get $10.00 a month and room and board. I got the room and board but I never did see the $10.00. And I had to sleep in the same room with his mother.

Hick’s mother was a nice old Lady. She liked me, we got along real good, but her and Ermon did not get along very good. When Hick was making Moonshine, someone pulled a raid on his [stash], just like it was the law. But the only thing that they took was the worm. He was so sure that he knew who did it. So we pulled a raid of our own, and we took his worm and all of his whisky. When we were there in ’83 Hick said, “You know, I think we got the wrong guy.” I was only about fifteen. I got a quart of good whisky out of the deal. 

Uncle Jimmy

Good to know there was a time where you could pay 15 year olds to raid illegal moonshine operations with the stolen whiskey!

Uncle Jimmy is a real character and in our family, that’s saying a lot. He’s pictured above with his second wife, but it’s his 3rd that really rocked my world. We’ll have to save that for another post!

wpsignature

 

History Fun

Some folks begin a study of their history and wonder if they’ll find anything bad. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever find anything good! The story this week is terrible by 2015 standards, but it’s positively scandalous for the 1800’s. Andrew Halfacre vs Rhoda Anderson Ancestry.com provides a lot of documentation, and most of it is of the BORN, and DIED kind. My mother and my Aunt Gay have done a great job researching a little deeper, which is how they found the divorce petition of Rhoda and Andrew Halfacre. From the official court petition we learn these juicy tidbits:

CHANCERY, 1876. THE BILL OF COMPLAINT OF RHODA HALFACRE AGAINST ANDREW HALFACRE, John P. Murray and William Lamburt, all of Jackson Co. TN. 31 Oct. 1874. . . . she and defendant Andrew Halfacre were married in Jackson Co. TN upwards of twenty years, the exact time not known, but she thinks it about 24-5 years ago that she was married to said Andrew Halfacre . . . She charges that her said husband about the year 18[blank] was guilty of divers lewd acts of adultery with one Nancy Petty, sometimes called Nancy Simon, with whom he left the county and stayed several months . . . Some time afterward, about the year 1861, her said husband was guilty of adultery with a lewd woman by the name of Em Reeves and then or thereabouts with another lewd woman by the name of Liz Putty and with divers other lewd women whose names [are] not known to complainant. Two others of which she remembers now as Betha Denson and Nance Smith . . . Complainant charges [further adultery at this time]. Complainant further charges that several years ago said Andrew Halfacre beat and abused her very badly on three different occasions . . . [He has threatened to kill her] . . . Her said husband was nearly always drunk when he abused her as aforesaid . . .

So basically my great, great grandfather was a murderous drunk who ran around with lewd women, of which there were many! It’s a good think for Nancy Petty/Smith and Betha Denson that they were born before social media. Rhoda doesn’t seem like she’d be above posting details on Facebook. Rhoda also asked for custody of their five children, but it was all for naught. The divorce never happened and they actually went on to have two more kids! So either Andrew straightened up or Rhoda couldn’t bring herself to leave the no-good cheater. With what I’ve read about my family so far, I’m going to guess it was that second one. In REBELS, Lou finds out some bad stuff about her own family history, but also some GOOD. I’ll keep looking! wpsignature

History Fun