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Category: Research Questions

Frank Chatman

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, and Research Questions

Bridge into Quicksand, Kentucky
Quicksand Bridge

Last week, I began a series on my father’s grandparents, all of whom (I believe) died before I was born, or at least before I had a chance to meet them. This week’s post is likely to be short, as I know next to nothing about my great-grandfather, Frank Chatman. I did not even discover that he was my great-grandfather until a couple of years ago. Thinking I had little chance of learning anything about my paternal grandmother’s family, I ordered her birth record. I knew she was born in Breathitt County, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure of the name of the community or town. The abstract on through the Kentucky Birth Index was puzzling. I had believed my grandmother’s maiden name was Campbell, but her birth name was Fay Trusty (Fay being her middle name, as I understood it), the same as her mother’s maiden name. I wondered if perhaps she was born out of wedlock and her parents married later. Finding her and her mother on the 1930 census in Middletown, Ohio with the last name Trusty and living in the home of my grandmother’s aunt and uncle seemed to confirm the suspicion. I knew I wouldn’t solve the mystery unless I ordered a copy of my grandmother’s birth record. It was surprisingly easy to obtain. I thought I would need to offer some sort of proof of our family relationship besides just saying she was my grandmother, but no such proof was necessary. I think that’s a little scary, even if it did make things convenient for me. When I received the record, imagine my shock to discover that Osa Campbell was not my grandmother’s father. Rather, her father was a man named Frank Chatman. His occupation was listed as convict, and his home the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

Of course, my first question was What did he do? The second was Did my grandmother know this man was her father? I found out later that the answer to the second question was yes, but not until after her mother and any other family members she could ask about it had passed away. The answer to the first is more complicated. I wrote to a state archivist asking for help, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in the case. She actually sent me a copy of the 1930 census (even though I already had it). This is her reply to my first query:

Our office has received your request for a criminal record involving Frank Chatman (Breathitt County, 1929).  I have searched our records and have found no entry for Frank Chatman in Breathitt County.  If this case could have taken place in another county, please let me know.

I apologize for any inconvenience.

I wrote that I had no idea where the crime took place. Here is her reply:

I have searched our records further (primarily our prison records) and found a couple entries for a Frank Chatman.  One was for a Frank Chatman (Chapman), whose crime occurred in Martin County, and another entry whose crime occurred in Pike County.  Both were for willful murder.  If one of these Frank Chatmans is your great-grandfather, I believe it would be the one from Pike County.  This occurred in 1921, when he was 15 years old, and his sentence was only for 5 years.  I believe the Frank Chatman that you found on the 1930 census was for the Martin County Chatman–he received a life sentence, and he was 42 when his crime occurred.  I have made copies of our prison record that I will send to you, but I will also try to locate the Pike County case–likely will not have a lot of info, though.  If I find it, I will certainly send it to you.

Hope this brings a bit of clarity.

The trouble with accepting either of these men as my great-grandfather is that the first is about the right age, but he shouldn’t have been in prison at the time of my grandmother’s birth—according to the record, he served five years, which means he should have been out of prison before my grandmother was born. Now if his case took some time to come to trial, it could make sense. How did he only get five years for murder? He was fifteen, but one would think his sentence would have been longer even so. The other one that the archivist says was 42 and which I found on the census introduces some confusion. The census says he was 27, which makes him also a fairly good fit for my great-grandfather despite what the archivist said. Both Pike and Martin counties are not far from Breathitt County, and either is a logical place of origin for my great-grandfather.

I think the only way I will find out the truth is to go to Kentucky and do some research in newspapers and libraries both in Breathitt County, where my grandmother was born, and through the prison archives. It seems somehow fitting that the name of the town in which my grandmother was born is Quicksand. The story inspired me to write a book that remains unedited in a file on my computer. I did find a fellow member with some intriguing information in her family tree. If  I win Who Do You Think You Are? sweepstakes, I know what case I’m going to put my professional genealogist on. I sure wish I was able to pursue this thread now, though.

Me on the Census

Posted in Genealogy 101, Genealogy and History, and Research Questions

Miriam started a meme, “Where Were You During the Censuses,” and I have decided to play. I have actually only appeared in three censuses (I think — we’ll see in about 50 years or so, won’t we?). I was born in 1971, so I should be on the 1980 Census as an eight-year-old living in Aurora, Arapahoe County, Colorado.

In 1990, I should be in Warner Robins, Houston County, Georgia as an eighteen-year-old resident in my parents’ home. I graduated from high school that June.

I remember the 2000 Census. I was excited because I was already into genealogy by that time, and I admit I wondered if anyone 100 years down the line would be reading my answers to the responses. I was living in Warner Robins, Houston County, Georgia with my then husband and my oldest daughter (who would have been six at the time), and would have been listed as a twenty-eight-year-old woman.

You know what? Despite the fact that I’ve moved a lot in my life, I don’t think I’ll be all that hard to find, should any descendants ever go looking.

Here’s a Puzzle for You

Posted in Research Questions

Two of my students posed a question to me because they know I’m a genealogist. They wanted to figure out how they are related. To retain their privacy, I am changing their names and identifying names of some of their relatives. Here is what I know:

  • Harold had twin children named Joyce and Michael.
  • Michael had a daughter Susan, who was my student Bill’s mother.
  • Joyce had a son named Jon, who married my student Sally’s paternal aunt, Lisa.

As far as I can figure, that means that Bill and Sally share cousins, but are only related by marriage. Bill’s second cousins, the children of Jon and Lisa, are Sally’s first cousins, as they are the children of her aunt.

Is there are way to express the relationship between Bill and Sally? I don’t have big prize money to offer, but if you like a challenge and feel like tackling this one, have at it. I can use your help in figuring this one out.

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Jewish Connections?

Posted in Research Questions

Forgive my recent lack of updates. School is back in session, and I found that once again, my genealogical interests had to take a back burner to career and family. Ever since I began teaching, I have found my summers to be a mad pursuit of my family tree, while the rest of the year keeps me too busy to do much research. I never totally stop or drop it altogether, but I just can’t devote as much time to it as I do during the summer. It was, for example, the summer after my first or second year teaching that I discovered I had some Scottish ancestry and devoted a lot of time and energy into uncovering different Scottish clans and celebrated all those famous ancestors I found in my tree.

I was spurred into new explorations by a comment I received from Glenn Hill on Penelope Who? — a post in which I explored the three most popular theories as to the family of origin of the wife of Captain Christopher Clark. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure I make this clear in the post I wrote, but I lean toward “Johnson” as her surname, though I admit to a curiosity about the large number of males with the given name “Bolling” in the family.

Glenn’s comment was really more of a question: had I any knowledge of Jewish connections in the family? He had heard Isabella Hart and Mark Anthony (my 8th great-grandparents, and his ancestors, too) were both Jewish. I had actually never heard this before, and I was intrigued. I teach at a Jewish high school and have a great deal of interest in Judaism as a result.

My first thought, of course, was skepticism, as I had not heard of a Jewish connection before, but I have also learned enough about genealogy to know that stories come from somewhere, and I check out new leads in the interest of being thorough. My first thought was to try Google. I did indeed find a reference (scroll down to Thomas Cooper) to Isabella Hart hailing from a Jewish trading family. The same website indicated that Mark Anthony was a Marrano. However, the website drew other conclusions about which I was skeptical — namely that Penelope was a “Bolling,” which seemed to me to be the least likely conclusion based on evidence available, excepting the preponderance of males named “Bolling” in the family in succeeding generations. Therefore, my second thought was to run it by a genealogist whom I trusted: Linda Sparks Starr. Linda is the webmaster of Colonial Virginia Connections, a site dedicated to researching the Clark/Moorman lines and allied families (including Anthony). I have learned to trust the conclusions of many contributors to her site, as they are usually more dedicated to finding evidence for conclusions than to fleshing out their family trees. Linda directed me to Arlene Anthony’s articles on her site.

Before I delve into Arlene’s conclusions, I want to back up and recount the “traditional” narrative regarding Mark Anthony’s background. There are several versions of this story that vary in the details, but this version is the one passed down into the Georgia line of the Anthony family. Marcus Antony was purportedly a merchant in Genoa, Italy. He moved to Holland in the 1600’s. When his son, later known as Mark Anthony, was old enough to leave home, it was Marcus Antony’s desire that he be educated in Italy. Apparently, Mark Anthony had other ideas and decided to run away to sea. His ship was waylaid by Barbary pirates, who kidnapped Mark Anthony and sold him into slavery in Algiers.

Mark Anthony was made to cut wood in a forest — and though I’ve never seen Algiers, I was rather under the impression it was skimpy on “forest” land. My conclusion is that either this bit of the story never happened or else it didn’t happen in Algiers. At any rate, Mark Anthony and his traveling companion, who had also been kidnapped, grabbed their moment and bashed in the head of either their guard or their master, depending on the version of the story, and escaped in a conveniently hidden boat. A British ship bound for Virginia found the two companions in their little boat and rescued them, selling them as indentured servants to pay for their voyage to America.

Nancy Vashti Anthony Jacob recounts a version of this story in her book Anthony Roots and Branches. I don’t have a copy of this book and haven’t been able to find one, but I am ever on the look out — I do know a couple of libraries within a two-hour drive from me have the book, but here we run into the fact that I have almost no time to do this sort of scouting around.

This story makes for a rollicking good read, but one must admit it sounds fanciful in the extreme. Arlene Anthony mentions in her narrative on Linda’s site that she, too had heard this tale and doubted its veracity. Arlene does not believe the family is of Italian origin, but hails from the Exeter or London Anthony clans.

I must admit to being more confused after reading Arlene’s narrative than I was before I started, and perhaps one day I’ll make a project of trying to figure it all out, but for right now, the most important information, at least to Mark Anthony descendants, is Arlene’s conclusion that the family “lived in the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium, Germany) from at least 1450 on, with several [branches of the family] emigrating to England.” Furthermore, Arlene believes that

[T]hey were probably from the Iberian countries prior to this, some possibly from Italy. They came to England for several reasons: religious … seeking freedom as evidenced in some very early wills … business … (they were part of a contract labor package negotiated by the Crown and a German company, formed to run the Royal Mint when it was consolidated into the Tower — I spent an afternoon with the Head Archivist and Librarian at the Tower of London, who was a wealth of information) and as businessmen, expanding their markets to England. The Anthony family became important about 1525 to the Royal family in several areas.

Arlene later discusses several individuals in the Anthony family who were involved in goldsmithery, quack medicine, and possibly alchemy. In an examination of the London Anthonys, Arlene found a Derrick Anthony, who was born in 1522 and apprenticed to a goldsmith at the age of 13. He travelled to Portugal, then the center of gold artisans, to learn filigree. He returned to England and was made Chief Engraver to the mint. His denization papers describe him as “dark, dirty, and Egyptian.” Arlene made enquiries, and according her findings, “the best authorities I can find tell me that this means he is either of Romany or Sephardic Jewish background.” By the way, the Roma people were commonly referred to as “gypsies,” and Sephardic Jews mostly came from the Iberian peninsula — many of them became Marranos during the Spanish Inquisition. This, then, may be the origin of Glenn’s information that Mark Anthony was a Marrano. As Arlene explains, many Marranos came to the Low Countries during the Spanish Inquisition (which fits with her dates), then later to England when Spain conquered the Lowlands.

The Exeter Anthony line begins with John Anthony, a wealthy merchant who owned the Red Lion, a galleon, among other ships. He was apparently a supporter of Oliver Cromwell. The bit I found most intriguing is that John Anthony’s son Edward, a famous goldsmith, apparently had a son named Mark, an apprenticed haberdasher, who went to Holland with his master, John Parker’s son, also named Mark (Parker). The goldsmithing connection is interesting. I have not read over Arlene’s notes to see if she made a definite connection between the Exeter Anthonys and the London Anthonys.

As I noted, however, Arlene has not pinpointed a definite connection from Mark Anthony to either the Exeter or London Anthonys, but does speculate that either family is most likely his family of origin. However, in reading of the London Anthonys, I was struck by Arlene’s description of several Anthony lines, all connected, involved in privateering. Also, Arlene found a book in her travels to London entitled Ebenezer, or the Tender Mercies of God, by William Oakley. In it, Oakley recounts being kidnapped off the coast of Land’s End, Cornwall by Corsairs and enslaved in Algeria. While in Algiers, Oakley met a man named John Anthony who was also enslaved. Along with several other men, William Oakley and John Anthony built a boat and managed to make it to Majorca. Sound familiar? This, of course, may be the origin of the pirate stories in Mark Anthony’s background. I should note that Mark’s sons (I am not sure if this is documented or not) were John and Joseph.

Arlene clearly believed that Mark “made up” the story about being kidnapped by pirates, but as you can see, it appears to have originated somewhere. In Arlene’s words, “But why all the fancy stories? Hiding something??? I don’t know, but I certainly want to know.”

Me too, Arlene.

I think it is certainly logical to assume that if Mark Anthony was a Marrano, he would hide his background, perhaps making up elaborate stories or even placing himself in events that happened to relatives, distant or close. As to his wife, Isabella Hart, aside from the fact that Hart is, indeed, the surname of some Jewish families and that Isabella’s mother was named Susannah Rush, also a Jewish given name and sometimes surname, it is not entirely improbable. Glenn is checking on her origins and has stated he will let me know his findings.

For now this will have to remain an intriguing research question — do I (and Glenn, and myriad other folks who descend from this line) have Jewish ancestry as recently as the 18th century?

I descend from Mark Anthony and Isabella Hart through two lines (my 4th great-grandparents were second cousins):

Dana Michelle Swier
+ Patti Jo Cunningham
++ Udell Oliver Cunningham
+++ Herman Cunningham
++++ Amos Blakey Cunningham
+++++ Mary Ann Penelope Anthony

As Mary Ann Penelope Anthony’s parents were second cousins, I will trace first her father, then her mother to Mark Anthony and Isabella Hart:

++++++ Matthew Jouett Williams Anthony
+++++++ Micajah Anthony
++++++++ Joseph Anthony (Jr.)
+++++++++ Joseph Anthony
++++++++++ Mark Anthony and Isabella Hart

++++++ Ann Blakey Roberts
+++++++ Elizabeth Blakey
++++++++ Agnes Anthony
+++++++++ Joseph Anthony
++++++++++ Mark Anthony and Isabella Hart

Johnson Franklin Cunningham: Will Executor Extraordinaire?

Posted in Research Questions

Johnson Franklin CunninghamJohnson Franklin Cunningham was born in Oglethorpe County, Georgia1 on October 17, 1823 and died in Denton County, Texas on January 9, 18992. He lived with his family in Oglethorpe County, Georgia until 1880, when he moved his family to Texas.

I do not have a copy of his will, and I’m not sure if he even made one. He does, however, make an appearance in the wills of several other people as a witness and executor. I found this curious. Why would so many people ask him to witness or execute their wills? Did he have legal training? If so, I don’t have any evidence of it. My grandfather Udell says that his grandfather, Amos Cunningham (Johnson Franklin’s son) told stories of his father being a minister (I haven’t found documentation). It makes sense that people might feel comfortable asking their minister to witness or execute their will.

William W. Power
12 Mar 1847
To my wife Martha Power during her natural life or widowhood, my whole and entire estate. At her death or marriage, my entire estate (except the negro slaves) to be sold, and after my daughter Anna G. Power is paid $100.00, then to be equally divided among all my children, viz, Elizabeth M., Anna G., Susan [or Samson?] P. and Mary W. Power. My negro slaves to be divided into as many equal lots as I have children at the time of my wife’s death; if my wife should marry, she shall have an equal share with my children in every respect. My Executor & Executrix may sell my tract of land on Brushy Creek and other tract on North River at the expiration of a lease to Mr. Cook for four years. Also the tract where I now live. My wife may give off portions of property as she can spare to my children as they marry or become of age. Executrix: my wife Martha Power. Executir: Willis Strickland. Signed: William W. Power. Witness: Richard B. Gholston, Francis Power, Johnson F. Cunningham. Rec’d 23 Sept 18483

Thomas J. Black
3 Nov 1854
All my land and property to be equally divided between my five children: Milla A. S. Black, Barbara W. Brown, Jonathon C. Black, Celia C. Black, and James W. Black. Executors: My friend John B. Moon and my brother John W. Black. Signed: Tho. Ja. Black. Witness: James S. Black, Thomas M. Anthony, Johnson F. Cunningham. Rec’d 7 May 1855.4

Mary Ann [Williams] Black
State of Georgia, Oglethorpe County I Mary Ann Black being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make, publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other wills by me before made.

Item 1st I give and bequeath unto Charles Filmore Sanders son of William J. Sanders my bed that I now sleep on and the furniture with it and one small chest known as my sugar chest, and one small round trunk.

Item 2nd I give and bequeath unto Eliza Eberhart a colored woman (that formerly belonged to me) all my wearing clothes, bandboxes and baskets and one small oven, one stone jar, one small boiler and all my earthenware – this I do for actual service she has rendered to me – besides other considerations.

Item 3rd I give and bequeath unto my son James S. Black all the balance of my estate ready money real or personal or mixed of what ever kind.

Item 4th I appoint my worthy friend Johnson F. Cunningham executor of this my last Will and Testament. In testimony where of, I have hereunto set my hand and seal. July 24th 1868. Mary Ann X [her mark] Black [seal]

Signed, Sealed and declared in presence of and in the presence of each other this July 24th 1868.

Gabriel Watson , J. G. Olive, J. F. Cunningham, State of Georgia

Personally appeared in Open Court Oglethorpe County Gabriel Watson + J Gibson Olive who were witnesses to the within will, after being duly sworn depose + say that they saw Mary Ann Black sign, seal, publish + declare with within to be her last Will + Testament, that at the time thereof she was of sound and disposing mind + memory and that she did it freely without compulsion + that they witnessed the same in the page 39 presence of the Testator at her special request + instance and in the presence of each other. So help us God. Sworn to + Subscribed in Open Court this 5th December 1870 J. G. Olive. G. Watson Georgia Court of Ordinary Oglethorpe County December Term 1870. The within last Will + Testament of Mary A. Black deceased of said county having been duly presented by the witnesses signing the above oath, the same having been duly proven in common form of law in Open Court at this Regular Term of the Court upon the oaths of Gabriel Watson + J. Gibson Olive the subscribing witnesses to said last Will + Testament the third one not doing so as he was named as executor. Ordered, That said Will be admitted to Record. This 5th December 1870 – Filed in Office 5th

Recorded this 6th day of Decr 1870.anuary 1871 – F. J. Robinson F J Robinson /s/ Ordinary O. C. Ordinary + Ex off Clk.5

John P. Tiller
Georgia, Oglethorpe County — I John P Tiller of said County and State being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make publish and declare this to be my last Will and testament hereby revoking all other wills by me made.

Item 1st I give and bequeath and devise unto my wife Martha Ann Tiller all of my estate of whatever kind or nature personal and mixed ready money and change in ?????? during of her natural life or widowhood to be kept for the support of her and my daughter that is not married until they do marry or while they stay with my wife Martha Ann Tiller; also my two sons William M Tiller and John W Tiller to live with my wife until they become of age.

Item 2nd My will is if my wife dies or marries before my youngest child Matta A Tiller becomes of age that my Executors keep my Estate together for the support of my children that is not of age until my youngest child Matta A Tiller becomes of age or marrys when either count happens my will is that there be an equal division of my estate among my children that I have by my wife Martha Ann Tiller.

Item 3rd I appoint my wife Martha Ann Tiller Executrix and my brother Thomas R Tiller Executor of this my last Will and Testament.

J. P. Tiller (Seal)

Signed Sealed published and declared in our presence in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator this June 11th 1863.

James S Black
J F Cunningham
George S Cunningham
David Graham

State of Georgia, Oglethorpe County — Personally appeared in open Court J F Cunningham and George S Cunningham two of the subscribing witnesses to the within will and after being duly sworn deposeth and saith that they saw John P Tiller sign seal publish and declare the within to be his last Will and Testament and at the time thereof he was of sound disposing mind and memory and that he did it freely without compulsion and that they signed the same as witnesses in the presence of said testator at his instance and request and in his presence and that they saw James S Black and David Graham sign the same as sitnesses in testators presence all of which is to the best of our knowledge and belief so help us god.

Johnson F Cunningham
George S Cunningham

Sworn to in open Court this 7th day of November 1866

E C Shackelford Ordinary

Court of Ordinary November term 1864
The last will and testament of John P Tiller late of Oglethorpe County deceased was exhibited in open Court by Martha Ann Tiller the executrix herein named and was in open Court at this regular term of the Court proven in Common form of law upon the oaths of Johnson F Cunningham and George S Cunningham two of the subscribing witnesses to the same. Ordered that said will be admitted to Record.

Recorded this 11th day of November 1864

E C Shackelford Ordinary6

Brinkley Smith
January 1, 1857/December 1857, Oglethorpe County, Georgia

I Brinkley Smith of said County and State being of sound and disposing mind and memory, make publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other wills by me made

Item 1st I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Alley wife of Jesse Hardman one hundred dollars

Item 2nd I give and bequeath unto my son Isham Smith five dollars

Item 3rd I give and bequeath unto my son Martin Smith’s Estate five dollars

Item 4th I give and bequeath unto my son Elisha Smith sixty dollars which he is now due me for the rent of my land and also give him the privileges of living on my land four years longer from the date of this will if he wishes to do so.

Item 5th I give and bequeath and desire unto my son John B. Smith and my four daughters their names are Nancy and Betsey and Sarah and Rebecca all the rest and residue of my estate of whatever kind or nature real personal and mixed. I give and bequeath the whole balance of my property to my said five children above named in this Item to be equally divided between these five — also that they have the privilege of living on my plantation if they can do so by agreement for their support — if they cannot agree to live together in this way that four of them have the privilege of selling the land for an equal division — their names are John B. Smith, Nancy and Betsey and Sarah — my will is that my daughter Rebecca have nothing to do with the agreement of selling the land that it be left wholly with the other four above named to decide whether they will sell or not — but my daughter Rebecca have an equal share with them in the division. I appoint my son John B. Smith Executor of this my last Will and testament.

Signed sealed published declared in our presence in the presence of each other & in the presence of the testator this 1st day of January 1857 — his mark

Brinkley X Smith {Seal}
Johnson F. Cunningham Rolly H. Mathews
Colerian Mathews7

Barbara Williams
Record of Wills November Term 1851 Georgia
Oglethorpe County

I Barbara Williams of said County being of sound and disposing mind and memory do publish and declare this to be my last will and testament, hereby Revoking all other wills by me made.

1st I give and bequeath unto to Mary Ann P. Anthony daughter of Matthew J. W. Anthony, one negro woman by the name of Louiza and her four children to wit: Charlotte, Elizabeth, Robert, and Henrietta and the future increase of the said female slaves to the
said Mary Ann and her heirs forever.

2nd I give and bequeath unto Mahuldah Anthony daughter of Thomas B. Anthony one negro woman by the name of Teresa and her four children to wit: Evaline, Lucy, Nathan, and Henry and the future increase of said female slaves to her and her heirs forever.

3rd I give and bequeath unto Rebecca Williams Huff, daughter of Barbara Huff, two choice cows and calves, Bed and bedsteads and bed clothing also to Mary Ann P. Anthony and Mahuldah each a bed bedstead and clothing for the same.

4th I give and bequeath and devise unto my friend Johnson F. Cunningham all the rest and residue of my estate of whatever kind or nature Real, personal, and mixed ready money and choser [?] in action. I give and bequeath the whole balance of my property to my said friend Johnson F. Cunningham to him and his heirs forever in fee simple and this I do as well out of Regard & friendship for him, as for actual services and kindness he has heretofore rendered to me and which I know he will continue to render in the future.

Another consideration for this bequest is that I have four old negroes that I have owned for many years. They have been faithful servants and they will have to be supported by the said Johnson F. Cunningham and I most earnestly request him to take care of them. Their names are Dave, Charles, Robbin, and Lucy. Also I desire my said friend Johnson F. Cunningham to treat With great and marked kindness a negro girl by the name of Josephene, and the said Johnson F. Cunningham is to pay annually or to ? ill the best manner, for the comfort and support of___? Barbara Huff my Niece, annually the sum of seventy dollars (70) during the natural lifetime of this said Barbara Huff free from all control contracts or interference of any kind of her present or any future husband.

5th I further order and direct that the negroes bequeathed unto Mary Ann P. Anthony and Mahuldah Anthony be kept and controlled (sic) by my said friend Johnson F. Cunningham until my said nieces marry or become of age when either event happens then and not till then the said Johnson F. Cunningham is to deliver the negroes bequeathed to the said Mary Ann P. Anthony and Mahulda. The yearly value in the meantime to be applied to the education, support, and maintenance of the said Mary Ann P. and Mahuldah Anthony.

6th I appoint the said Johnson F. Cunningham Executor of this my last will and testament.

signed sealed published
and declared in our presence
in the presence of each other &
in the presents [sic] of the testator.
this 5th day of November 1850. her
Benj. F. Hardeman Barbara x Williams
Rolly H. Mathews Mark
Abel Eberhart
David Graham
Recorded 11 Nov 18518

These are all the wills I know about. If I discover others, I will update this post.

1Johnson Franklin Cunningham said that he was born in Georgia on each census, but his actual place of birth has not been verified.

2Some family members have given Johnson Franklin Cunningham’s death date as January 9, 1896, but his grave marker says January 9, 1899. I’m not sure which is correct, as I don’t have a vital record in my possession.

3Madison County Will Book B, Will Abstracts, page 43

4Madison County Will Book B, Will Abstracts, page 855Oglethorpe County Will Book E, Part 1, pp. 38-39, Georgia Archives Drawer 46, Box 11, Transcribed by Michael M. Black

6Oglethorpe County Will Book D, page 522, Transcribed by Wayne D. Tiller

7Oglethorpe County Will Book D, page 364, Transcribed by Jeannie Smith Zadach

8Transcribed by Jerry Mathews Palmer, unknown source

Huff Family Mystery

Posted in Research Questions

Yours truly finally subscribed to I fought it for a long time because the main reason for subscribing is access to census records, which are available in some libraries and other various places for free. I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t have to pay for access to them. However, the subscription price is less than $13 per month. I realized that I would spend a lot more than that in transportation to the nearest place that has census records, not mention the time it would take to travel to such places. allows me to access actual census record scans from 1790 to 1930. After thinking about it, I decided’s subscription price was a deal. I am not going to make this post a plug for, but I must admit the wealth of information I uncovered has made the subscription price well worth it. Who knows when, as a mother of three and full-time teacher, I might get a chance to hunt through the microfilm at the National Archives in Morrow? Plus I get access to all the censuses for every state, which not all libraries have. Enough raving about how happy I am with

I have uncovered a Huff family mystery. My husband’s family has lived in Tennessee for generations. My husband was born in Nashville. He was able to provide me with enough information to go on about his grandparents, but knew little about his great-grandparents, William Martin Huff and his wife Sallie (whose maiden name I do not know). I located them with Steve’s grandfather Ben Martin Huff on the 1930 census and the 1920 census. I had trouble going further back. I found a record for a Willie M. Huff in the household of his step-father Lee Roy (or Roy Lee) Huff in 1900, but I couldn’t be sure it was the same person, despite the fact that both William Martin and Willie M. lived in Williamson County, which was rural and much more sparsely populated than it is today, probably thanks in part to the Saturn (automobile) headquarters located there. I found a few candidates for William Martin Huff on the 1910 census, but they were fairly far from Williamson County. He was most likely not living with his parents anymore, but I do not think he was married yet, either.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated trying to learn anything about this line and felt I had hit a brick wall until my husband told me he was sure his grandfather had an aunt named Verda. You can tell my husband’s not a genealogist, having neglected to share this crucial bit of information with me until now, knowing I had been trying to find information about the Huff line for some time. Verda is not such a common name. I felt confident I could locate her on the 1900 or 1910 census, as I had narrowed down the family’s origins to Williamson County.

Sure enough, I found Verda in the home of Lee Huff in 1910. She was 11 years old, so she most likely had been born in 1898 or 1899. Her mother was listed as Mary F. Huff. Steve told me her married name was Fulghum. I found her Social Security Death Index record, which listed her birthdate as May 1, 1898. Furthermore, her last residence was Thompson’s Station, Williamson County, Tennessee. Steve concurred with me that we could be reasonably confident this was his aunt Verda. I searched the 1900 census for her father. I noticed no Verda listed in his home, but there was a Eula born in April 1898. I believe this must be Verda and the name Eula is either a misinterpretation of the writing on my part, a transcription error on the census-taker’s part, or perhaps she was called by her middle name either in this census or in later ones. The Social Security Death Index was no help here, as she is listed as Verda H. Fulghum. The “H” could refer to a middle name or her maiden name.

Lee Roy Huff is listed as L.R. Huff in the 1920 census, with a wife Mary. The children all have the same names as on the 1910 census, with the addition of Louise, who had not yet been born in 1910. Going back to the 1900 census, Lee Roy’s name is indecipherable because the census-taker wrote something over the top of it, but it looks like it could say “Roy Lee.” His wife’s name was Mary. I found a WWI Draft Registration Card for Lee Roy Huff that listed his wife’s name as Mary Frances or Mary Francis (it’s hard to see if that’s an “e” or “i”). The birthdate is some two years off from that given in the census, but as I joked with Steve, his family had a habit of changing vital information about themselves depending on what year they were asked that makes tracking them infuriating.

Armed with this information, I believe that Willie M. Huff is William Martin Huff, step-son to Roy Lee or Lee Roy Huff on the 1900 census. William Martin Huff was born in June 1890. Depending on when the census was taken in 1890, he may have appeared on the census. His parents were most likely married by the time the census was taken, and with some detective work, I may have been able to find out who William Martin Huff’s father was. Unfortunately, the 1890 census was almost completely destroyed in a fire in the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. in March 1896.

It will be difficult to find out who William Martin Huff’s father was, but perhaps not impossible. Birth records for the state of Tennessee in this time period may be available from state archives. It is possible my letter to Steve’s grandmother will be a fruitful source of information, but as Steve seemed to be unaware his great-grandfather was adopted by his step-father (and hence, may not have been born a Huff), I’m not sure the information was common knowledge to his grandfather’s wife. Steve’s grandfather was also an only child, so there are no brothers or sisters or cousins to assist me in getting to the bottom of this mystery.

I do, however, find it intriguing that the name “Martin” seems to be popular in the Huff family for generations back. Tantalizingly, there is a Leroy Huff listed as son of Samuel Martin Huff in the 1880 census, Williamson County. The age of Leroy corresponds to that of Lee Roy Huff as given in other censuses. Samuel Martin Huff also had an older son named T. William Huff.

I am speculating about two things. Perhaps William Martin Huff was not adopted by Lee Roy Huff. I made that leap based on the fact that their last names were similar. What if Lee Roy Huff was his uncle and married his mother after the death of his father? It is not unheard of. If his father were T. William, it could be the genesis of his name, William Martin — William for his father, Martin for his grandfather, Samuel Martin. Unfortunately, I can’t find a marriage record or birth record at that corroborates this theory, and the theory that he took his step-father’s name is just as likely.

Penelope Who?

Posted in Research Questions

I have a long-standing mystery on my hands. As I noted in my post showing my relationship to Mark Twain, I descend from the Clark family, Quakers who emigrated to Virginia via Barbados. Christopher Clark was born in 1681 in Nansemond County, Virginia, following his family’s immigration. His wife was named Penelope, but aside from this fact, we know very little about who she was. There are three main theories as to her birth family, but none have been proven conclusively using primary sources.

The most accepted theory is that Penelope was Penelope Johnson, daughter of Edward Johnson and Elizabeth Walker. There is only one recorded transcription in St. Peter’s Parish’s register listing the name Penelope:

Penelope Daughter of Edw’d Johnson Eliz. Na– ye 4 day of Agost & bapt. Ye 17 of ye instant, 1684.

This Penelope is of the right age and in the right location to be Mrs. Christopher Clark. One early source for Penelope as a Johnson is the work of Lorand V. Johnson, a doctor whose interest in genealogy led him to trace his family history to the 1300’s in Scotland. Unfortunately, there may be holes in Dr. Johnson’s research. For example, there is scant proof that Penelope’s father, Edward, was the son of Dr. Arthur Johnston as reported by Dr. Johnson. Acceptance of Edward Johnson as a son of Arthur Johnston hinges primarily upon a letter by Elizabeth Forbes Johnston Keith, who is proven to be Arthur Johnston’s niece, daughter of his brother William Johnston. Elizabeth wrote a letter to Mary Harris, a Quaker missionary, before the 1686 meeting in which she referred to “my cousin Edward Johnston,” who would be accompanying Ann Keith to Virginia. Researchers have sifted through Johnston family records in search of another Edward who could be the cousin Elizabeth refers to no avail. Edward could not have been Elizabeth’s second cousin, as her grandfather had no siblings. Thus, Edward must have been her first cousin. However, this is not conclusive proof of Edward’s connection to the Johnstons of Caskieben.

The second theory is that Penelope was Penelope Bolling, daughter of Major John Bolling and Mary Kennon. So far, researchers have been unable to locate a Penelope who could be the daugther of John and Mary Bolling in records. Strong circumstantial evidence for this theory is that the given name “Bolling” for sons was prominent in the Clark/Anthony allied families for generations.

  1. Bolling Clark, son of Christopher Clark and Penelope, 1720-1813
  2. Bolling Clark, son of Bolling Clark and Winifred Buford, dates unknown
  3. Bolling Clark, son of Micajah Clark and Judith Lewis Adams, 1751-1818
  4. Bolling Anthony, son of Joseph Anthony and Elizabeth Clark, 1769-1827
  5. Bolling Blakey, son of Churchill Blakey and Agnes Anthony, abt. 1793-?

There may be many more Bollings in the family that I have not found as my focus has been on my direct lineage. The preponderance of Bollings in the family suggests some strong connection between the Bolling and Clark families. It need not be relation, but it should be noted that the name Bolling as a given name is certainly rare enough that it is safe to say our first Bolling Clark was named for someone with the surname Bolling. To many, it makes sense that this is his mother’s maiden name. The absence of a Penelope Bolling in Bolling family records and official records is troubling. If Penelope is connected to the Bollings, she would descend from Pocahontas.

The final theory is that Penelope was Penelope Massie, a descendant of Sir Anthony Ashley. His daughter Ann Ashley married Sir John Cooper. They were the parents of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the Earl of Shaftsbury. All of the Massie lines connect to this line. Tradition in the Moorman family (Christopher Clark’s mother was Sallie Ann or Sarah Moorman and his daughter Rachel married Thomas Moorman) says that there were three Massie women who descend not from Anthony Ashley-Cooper’s direct line, but from those of his sister. One woman, Sarah, married William Johnson, who was the father of Benjamin Johnson. He married Agnes Clark, the daughter of Christopher and Penelope. A second Massie married a Moorman. The third Massie woman was said to be Penelope. Johnson tradition holds that Benjamin Johnson married his first cousin, which Agnes would be if her mother was a Massie and sister to Sarah Massie. The name Penelope does seem to occur throughout the Massie family, despite the fact that researchers have said no Penelope Massies could be found in Virginia records. Sarah Penelope Massie was born in 1672 to Peter Massie and Penelope Ashley-Cooper (said to the the illegitimate daughter of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, First Earl of Shaftsbury. However, as the Johnson and Massie lines appear to be related, it stands to reason that Penelope could likewise have been a Johnson. No information I could find relates that Peter Massie and Penelope Ashley-Cooper had a daughter named Penelope.

The problem is that many records from Colonial Virginia have been lost. In the words of Linda Starr, researcher into the Clark/Moorman lines,

Almost twenty years ago when I became interested in genealogy, I rather quickly backed my mother-in-law’s line to Breckinridge County, Kentucky. The Archives there located a pedigree chart in their surname file, taking the Clark line back to Virginia. Although it was bare-boned, showing names but few dates and even fewer county names, it did go back to Christopher and Penelope Clark, Charles and Elizabeth Moorman and Robert and Mourning Adams. For Penelope’s surname, the compiler appended a brief note: “either Massie, Bolling or Johnson.” And that’s where we still are due to the destruction of relevant records. Some members of this group lean toward her being a Bolling, others are firmly convinced she was kin to Lord Shaftsbury, and still others think she was a Johnson.

Researchers at Colonial Virginia Connections, who rely on “primary and ‘good’ secondary sources” and are required to “cite their sources” seem to feel that Penelope is most likely a Johnson, although, as we have seen, researcher Linda Starr admits that “we have no documentary proof for any of these [lines].”

One thing we do have in our favor is the propensity in these families to name children after relatives. The name Penelope occurs again (the first two are Penelope ? Clark’s granddaughters):

  • Penelope Clark, daughter of Micajah Clark and Judith Lewis Adams, 1747-?
  • Penelope Anthony, daughter of Joseph Anthony and Elizabeth Clark, 1748-1822
  • Penelope Blakey, daughter of Churchill Blakey and Agnes Anthony (Penelope’s granddaughter), abt. 1803-?
  • Mary Ann Penelope Anthony, daughter of Matthew Jouett Williams Anthony and Ann Blakey Roberts, 1835-1917

If we can, as researcher Heather Olsen noted, find a family with a number of Penelopes in it, we may be able to connect that family to our Penelope.

Mary Ann Penelope Anthony descends from Christopher Clark and Penelope ? through three lines:

Christopher Clark (1681-1754) and Penelope (presumably 1684-1760)

+ Micajah Clark (1718-1808) m. Judith Lewis Adams (1716-?)

++ Elizabeth Ann Clark (1754-after 1810) m. Joseph Anthony (1750-1810)

+++ Micajah Anthony (1782-abt. 1850) m. Rebecca Williams (1782-1832)

++++ Matthew Jouett Williams Anthony (1808-1868) m. Ann Blakey Roberts (1810-1873)

+++++ Mary Ann Penelope Anthony (1835-1917)

+ Elizabeth Clark (1721-1825) m. Joseph Anthony (1713-1785)

++ Joseph Anthony (1750-1810) m. Elizabeth Ann Clark (1754-after 1810)

+++ Micajah Anthony (1782-abt. 1850) m. Rebecca Williams (1782-1832)

++++ Matthew Jouett Williams Anthony (1808-1868) m. Ann Blakey Roberts (1810-1873)

+++++ Mary Ann Penelope Anthony (1835-1917)

++ Agnes Anthony (1761-?) m. Churchill Blakey (1760-1837)

+++ Elizabeth Blakey (1788-?) m. Thomas Roberts (1785-?)

++++ Ann Blakey Roberts (1810-1873) m. Matthew Jouett Williams Anthony (1808-1868)

+++++ Mary Ann Penelope Anthony (1835-1917).

Mary Ann Penelope Anthony is my great-great-great grandmother and is picture below in the middle of the bottom row.


I think all three lineages for Penelope are equally interesting and would be proud to claim any one of them. I just wish I knew which one to claim! Chances are I never will.

Huff Family History

Posted in Research Questions

I have been receiving many queries via Google for the “Huff family history.” I am a Huff by marriage, and I am afraid I know very little about my husband’s lineage. I am happy to confer with anyone who has information about the family, as living family members, to date, have not been able to provide much information, either.

The Huffs into which I married are from Nashville, Tennessee. My husband is Steven Eric Huff, son of Bobby Richard Huff and Margaret Lovene Lane. My father-in-law’s parents were Ben Martin Huff, who died in Spring Hill, Maury County, Tennessee in 1994, and Frances Milred Bolton, who was born in Hart County, Kentucky. My husband believes his great-grandfather to have been Will Martin Huff. At any rate, the name Martin does seem to be popular in his branch of the Huff family.

If any visitors querying “Huff family history” see a connection, I would like to hear from you.

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