St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

History Made in Georgia with Revolutionary Grave Marking for a Black Patriot

The morning had the feel of another winter morning in Pike County, Georgia. The thermometer was hovering right at the freezing point, and there was a light mist in the air. People began to congregate and soon over 200 citizens were deep in the woods at a site just off of the old Mitchell Plantation in Zebulon. They were all there for a cause. They were all there to honor a true American Patriot from the American Revolution.

Austin Dabney (abt 1760-1830) was a slave. Austin Dabney was a great American, even though he didn't know it.

Dabney entered the Georgia Militia in the late 1770s as a substitute for his master. Dabney fought under Elijah Clarke and was wounded at the Battle of Kettle Creek in 1779. The Battle of Kettle Creek was one of the most significant battles (and wins) during colonists' fight for freedom in Georgia. The anniversary of Kettle Creek is February 14 and is celebrated each year by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Dabney, who is believed to be the only black man in the battle, was deeply wounded and taken home by a white militiaman by the name of Giles Harris. Harris and his family cared for Dabney during his recuperation and a bond was formed. A bond so strong that it would last for the rest of their lives. They became friends and Harris would later name children after Dabney.

Dabney remained close to the Harris family and eventually relocated with them to what is now Pike County, GA.

Dabney was honored on January 30, 2010, by the crowd assembled deep in the woods. While the grave dedication was sponsored primarily by the Sons of the American Revolution, the crowd consisted of Americans, black, white, Army, Navy, and history lovers, who came to learn more of this particular patriot.

Dabney was granted his freedom by the state of Georgia, received land for his service to America and received a federal pension. At his death, Dabney left his land and property to the Harris family. At the death of William Harris, he requested to be buried with his friend and mentor, Dabney Harris.

At the ceremony, a young black child was looking at the grave site, which is piled high with stones, and asked, "Where is he buried? Why is this such a big deal?" Well, my young friend, Austin Dabney is buried below those stones with his best friend. The marking of a true American Patriot's final resting spot is history. This marking and honoring of Austin Dabney is the first marking of a black Revolutionary Patriot in Georgia and one of only a handful in the Nation. This man knew the meaning of liberty and fought for it, alongside his American brothers. We thank Austin Dabney and all the patriots for believing in the American Cause and for the making of this country.

Dabney left no known blood descendants. Well, Americans, then and now, are proud he's part of American history and his story will continue to be told.

Did you know that it is estimated that close to 20,000 black men were part of the American forces in the Revolution?

Genealogy. It can bring the past to life. And what a phenomenal life Austin Dabney had. Wouldn't it be grand to spend time hearing of his life in his words?

Friday, January 22, 2010

All in the "Spin" of Things, Eh?

Guess it depends on the "spin", er, the twist, of words! This story is a great one, even though the ties to Reid are not real. This story is one that illustrates how stories can change over time. It is easy to imagine the "history revised" version being told by descendants who might be ashamed of the illustrious past of their ancestors. Just remember that the next time someone tells you they are related to royalty or they had 10 horsethieves in the family. Genealogy. The family stories can be amusing, but it's best done with the facts.

Go on and read this lore and just-- smile with the twist on the words.

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, was doing some personal work on her own family tree.

She discovered that Congressman Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory:

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription:
'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885,
escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times.
Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory .
His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable
equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.
Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government
service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad.
In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the
renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency.
In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function
held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing

NOW THAT's how it's done, Folks!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Volunteer to Help the Grim Reaper

Busy volunteers have been keeping me busy as we attempt to assist the Grim Reaper. No, we are not in the business of making death. Yes, we are in the business of genealogy finds.

A few days ago I suggested to one of the Rootsweb groups to which I belong that it would be cool if we could have a death index of old online newspapers for Allegheny County. Click here to read more on my moment of madness.

I've been so busy typing all the names that have come in that now my family is starting to make noises like they're hungry or something. Arrggghhh!

The index is being hosted on the USGenWeb Archives in Pennsylvania. Click here for the fastest way to check out to see if your family is there yet. It's a work in progress and is being very well received by genealogy and history buffs.

Today, my volunteer time has paid off. One of the group who has been busy reading the old newspapers sent in her death stuff and, viola, there is a cousin of mine.

This death notice was really cool. Ok, maybe just interesting to others.

Elizabeth STURGEON who died in 1916 died of heart failure. No big deal there.

What was the "aha" moment was when and where---

She died while sitting at the bedside of her husband who had been in the hospital for several weeks for stomach trouble. She was there at the hospital to take him home.

Guess the Grim Reaper took her home instead.

The take home message is volunteer to help others. You just never know how helping the news of the Grim Reaper can make you stop and smile.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bitten Again

Now, I've done it. I've been bitten again by the volunteer genealogy bug.

One of the groups that I lurk and contribute to had recently alerted everyone of some new newspaper archives to search online. After many hours of looking, which were accompanied by massive eye strain and few nuggets of gold, I realized that I couldn't be the only family searcher who had invested in massive quantities of Visine. Those old newspapers sure can be hard on the eyes!

I wondered aloud to the list to see if anyone was interested in taking the names of the dead found on the pages they had searched and making an index. I even volunteered to compile the list if the information was sent to me.

This thought has caught on like wild fire. Now, my box is full of lists of different dates and loads of names. I've made a spreadsheet and now, I just type and type.

Me and my big idea. It could be of value to seekers of the past and I hope I find some nuggets too. Sigh.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Volunteer Shots in Hopewell Cemetery

Deciding to brave the cold freezing temperatures this morning, I ventured out to do a bit of genealogy volunteer work. After checking the email which had come in during the bitter cold (as opposed to just freezing cold) for a volunteer to go to Hopewell Cemetery in Tyrone, GA, for a photo, I bundled up and thought, "Hey, why not? It's downright balmy here at 25 degrees today."

Have I done everything?
Found the map to the cemetery. Check.
Looked online for a way to contact the cemetery- no such luck. No problem as it is a sunny day.

I easily found the cemetery next to the government building for the town of Tyrone. Since the way into the cemetery was through the official town driveway, I thought that this would be easy. I assumed the cemetery belonged to the town. As it was a weekday, I strolled in and asked about the cemetery records and a plot map.

Well, it seems the cemetery is not owned by the city. It's owned by the Hopewell UM Church which is several miles away. Huh? Ok. They used to be here. Makes sense.

I got the number to the church and called. Cemetery records? Hmmm. Why, they think the town of Tyrone has them. It was suggested I call back on Monday morning when the church secretary is in. Ok, will do.

As long as I am here, I might as well look around. Crunching around on the morning frost, the cemetery appears peaceful. There are even numerous graves of Confederate Soldiers to see. You just have to admire about those young men who were willing to fight for their way of life so long ago.

While strolling around and waiting for the sun to start to warm me up, I found it. Yes, the family plot for which I was searching. There looks to be three people buried here- a man, a woman and a child. The man and woman have their headstone, but the child's is blank.

Who was this child?

After coming home and grabbing some hot coccoa, I started looking online. The GA Death Index holds the clue.

The child appears to be Thomas A GOSNELL who died at the age of 2 months on January 6, 1942, in Fayette County.

There also appears to be some spots in the plot which have no markers at all.

Perhaps I'll have more to share soon. In the meantime, giving someone else a genealogy gift is quite satisfying on a cold day-- or any day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Dancing in Celebration of 62 Years

Picture the scene. It's early in the morning in Charleston, SC. A light fog is evident at Middleton Place Gardens. Look closely and see two men fishing in one of the ponds.

One man is older and the other looks like a nervous young man. What did they discuss? How long did they sit there on that bank and just get to know one another?

I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know the significance of the day and that time together.

The younger man was about to be married that afternoon, January 14, 1948, to his beloved. The older man was her father. Together they sat for hours. Time passed quickly. It has been reported that the time passed so quickly that the two men had to hurry back to town to get dressed in order to make it to the church on time. It has been reported they were in such a hurry that the young man had to borrow a tie from the older man to wear.

Ah, young love. The love between the two who were married that day lasted. It lasted through years of separation thanks to Uncle Sam, through the loss of a child, through the agony and despair of cancer, and through death.

The two young lovers have been gone for many a year now. They were taken much too soon, but their legacy in their children still lives. And it lives strong.

The motto of the two? God, Family and Country.

Their love? My treasure.

I saw them both dancing in heaven on the night my youngest child was born. It was such a comfort to be for them both to beam happily as they danced for the grandchild who would never meet them. Tears? You bet, but it provides my desire to learn more of my family's genealogy and to pass it on to my children.

If you are blessed to have older family members still dancing, be sure to get to really know them. Their love may become your treasure as well.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

And the Photo Nominee is.......

Yesterday, I showcased a very old photo of which a copy had been mailed to me about seven years ago. The photo was found in the scrapbook of the Andrew FIFE (1790-1878) family. The scrapbook had been started by one of the descendants of Sara FIFE (1817- abt 1855) and Andrew YOUNG (abt 1815-aft 1862) of Chartiers, Allegheny, PA.

Read the post here. Who is the subject listed only as Mrs. Nana Henry?

I also asked the question on the mail list for those who research in Allegheny County, PA about the photographer who was listed on the photo. As a reminder, it was Purviance with an address of Fifth and Wood Sts.

After consulting the census records, I determined the photographer was William T Purviance who had a studio in Pittsburgh from about 1857-1867. A kind soul on the mail list further defined Purviance for me. He traced the addresses of his studios by checking the old directories which are posted online (Thanks Rich!). By comparing the addresses to the one on the photo, the date of the photo placed it as being taken in 1865 or 1866.

Ahh. Now it was time to revisit the vitals on my genealogy program. It just can't be who I wanted it to be due to death dates before 1865.

The most likely candidate for Mrs. Nana HENRY (and most probable) is.......

Zebiah MIDDLESWARTH (1797-1872), daughter of Moses MIDDLESWARTH (1757-1842) and Elizabeth CLARK (1764-1852.)

Zebiah married William HENRY (1789-1848) on January 1, 1824 in Allegheny Co.

William was the son of John HENRY (1750-1838) of Lower St Clair, Allegheny, PA.

William and Zebiah are both buried in the Bethany Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Bridgeville, Allegheny, PA, with the MIDDLESWARTH family.

So, Nana- we suspect we know who you are and we remember you.

Genealogy- what a kick!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Early Photo of Mrs. Nana Henry

Mrs. "Nana" Henry. Who was she and when was this taken?

This photo was sent to me by a descendant of Andrew FIFE (1790-1878) who married Sara HENRY d. 1817, daughter of John HENRY (1750-1838) and Margaret McMILLAN (1762-1849). My cousin who sent it thought it to be Margaret, but I don't think so.

The hands certainly don't look like hands of an 80 year old woman who survived in early Pittsburgh. While the outfit certainly suggests a really old Mrs. Henry, I have to learn more to decide who the suspects really are.

Would love any suggestions from those who know old photos!

Update: Found a William T Purviance b. 1831 who was a photographer in Pittsburgh in 1860. Don't know how long he was there---

Update 2: Wm Purviance is listed as an AMBROTYPIST in the late 1850s. By 1862, he is listed as a photographer in tax records in Pittsburgh. He has moved on to Philadelphia before 1870. The last legal mention him in Pittsburgh is in the 1865 Tax Records. So the time frame to identify Mrs. Nana Henry has been narrowed to between 1859-1865. Hmmm. I think there are only a couple of great genealogy candidates for this!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Remember to Give Credit

I've been chatting with a distant (aren't they all?) cousin over the last few days. It's really gotten me energized to dig more into the family. From time to time, we must all go back and review the data and look around to see if anything new has been posted.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I found my hard long research from several years ago, along with photos that I think I'm the only one to have, copied word for word on Find a Grave.

Think, fellow genealogy researchers, of others' research when posting their information online. Be sure to give them the credit for their words and pictures!

I quickly emailed the contributor of the information taken from my site and asked her to correct the entry. I just want the credit, and of course, the way for other cousins to find me.

The contributor quickly emailed back and profusely apologized. I figured they just didn't think when they copied and pasted the information and pictures.

Use it. Just use it properly by giving credit where the credit is due. Or better yet-- contact the owner of the site to see how the work should be credited, or if you should just use one line with a link to the site of the original information.

Oh - the contributor was kind enough to go back and edit the entries showing the source of the information posted. One chore down for this really cold day!

Monday, January 04, 2010

And the Gift Keeps On Coming

I sort of fell into genealogy about 15 years ago and admittedly have a strong addiction. Just ask my family- close or distant blood!

I've been working with a gent for about four years now on my blood. He's been a real gem in my quest to learn, and to learn more about my blood. Click here to read a previous post on my buddy.

Well, today, he offered another gift. Oops, I should back up a few months.

My buddy and I have been searching for the proof that his blood runs in my veins. Finally, we found a living breathing male with the correct surname in both our families who were willing to take the DNA test. This would tell the tale.

The tale, or rather fact, of the matter is to our knowledge we share not one itty bitty drop of blood.

He has finally decided he didn't need to run the online tree of the family, so today, he offered it to me. I accepted. In a day or so, the newly owned tree will be available on ancestry for all to see. Of course, it's been there the whole time. It's just now going to be updated by a common gene seeker.

As for my buddy? He's gained a place in my heart and I will continue to refer to him as my "kinda cousin." After all, he's the one who was able to lead me in the right direction in my personal quest of Wall Street John.

Thanks, Bill, for the gifts of knowledge, time, and friendship. I look forward to continuing our "kinda cousin" relationship.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Start the New Year on Fire!

Tis the new year and time to revisit some old stumbling blocks to see what new information has been placed online.

Since the beginning of the new year, I've been deep into genealogy.

On one of the groups on which I lurk and comment, the big news right before Christmas was the addition of some more old newspapers from Pittsburgh. So, I've been searching the Pittsburgh Press through Google Archives just to see what I can find.

Every now and then, shouts of glee have bubbled right out of my mouth. So far, I have been able to view some new (or rather, old) obits of my family. I found my great grandma's obit. The obit itself wasn't new as a copy of it had been placed in the family Bible. What was new was the newspaper it came from and the date it was published. I also found the obit of some cousins and of my great grandma's sister.

Feeling like I'm on fire on this extremely cold winter day, I even found a fire. The fire was at the James RITCHIE Lumber Yard in Mt. Washington, Allegheny, PA on April 17, 1909. The fire was reported to be" one of the most spectacular ever seen in Pittsburg" with flames almost 20 feet high. Although an engine (fire) house was adjacent to the property, lack of water pressure made it impossible to fight. The home of James RITCHIE was also adjacent to the property. It was badly scorched and smoking.

By the way, James (1840-1922) was married to a cousin of mine, Anna Elizabeth NEELY (1842-1912) and both are buried in my "family cemetery" known as the St Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, PA. James was born in Ireland but spent most of his life in Allegheny Co, PA. After marrying Anna in 1861, he mustered into the Union Army and served in Co. K of the 49th Regiment, PA Volunteers.

It was cool to see both his obit and the article of the fire. I also have sent them on to his great grandson. I suspect I'll hear from him soon. After all, it's been some time since we were to talk all day in the cold. Click here to read more of our last visit.

Guess I'll stop looking for fires and just use some hand warmers.