Thursday, November 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Finding a Genealogical Jewel

b. Feb. 1830 in Scott Co., Virginia - d. circa 1913 in Cooke Co., Texas

Louisa was my paternal 3rd great grandmother, wife of Jesse B. Wallen. She was responsible for raising the younger 7 of her son William's 9 children, with the help of the two oldest, Jesse Uriah and my great grandfather Oliver Morton Wallen, after their mother died. Louisa, "Grandma Wallen", is mentioned regularly in Oliver's diary. Their home had been in Wabd, Rockcastle Co., Kentucky from the early to mid 1850s until 1905 when most of them packed up and headed for Texas. By that time nearly all the children were either grown or had died of Consumption. All 9 siblings eventually perished from that disease (as had their mother) and Louisa would outlive them all with the exception of Jesse U. who died in 1917.

For nearly 15 years I'd tried to prove the parents of Louisa. My dad's first cousin and my closest cohort in genealogical research, Charlie Wallen, never let go of the belief that Louisa was the daughter of David and Rachel Rogers Tyree. I went along with him on that assumption for nearly 10 years until I started digging up new clues that pointed to Louisa as being the oldest child of David and Rachel's son William and his first wife Lucy Osborne. The clues were all over the place but I couldn't convince Charlie. Anyone can read more about those clues here and here at my other blog "Genealojournal" where I tend to muse about things yet unproven. There were more clues too that I discovered in Oliver's diary since writing those notes. None of them said what I needed to know...not quite.

I was obsessed with knowing the truth about Louisa's parentage and I had exhausted all my resources short of making a trip to Scott Co., Virginia or hiring a researcher there. Then, a little over a week ago I was browsing the Rockcastle County newspaper, the Mt. Vernon Signal, and I had decided to do a search on the name of the tiny town of Wabd to see if anything interesting might surface. Now, over the years, I'd done many a search in this newspaper on the surname Wallen, including all the variations in spelling. Many years ago the Signal had been transcribed from microfilm and posted to a genealogy web site by a dedicated genealogist, Cindy Crawford, to whom I will always be humbly grateful. I copied and pasted Cindy's entire transcription to my computer's hard drive (hundreds of pages) and I've been over it dozens of times with a fine toothed comb. In other words, I didn't really expect to find anything monumental on this day, I was just browsing and enjoying reading about all the people of the county that I had come to know over the years.

And suddenly, there it was! Just a dozen little words. My proof. The genealogical jewel that became my gift. I immediately got writer's block..that is, after I spazzed out and danced and babbled and sobbed for a few hours. It was so big I couldn't write about it..I couldn't write about anything. I always thought I'd find the proof of Louisa's ancestry by using my skills. But this wasn't skill at all. It was simply a gift, the perfect gift.

Yesterday I came across this quote by Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings in his comments to Martin Hollick's post "Genealogical Gimme":

"...the record that provides direct evidence of a relationship or fact, might better be called a "genealogy gem" or "genealogy jewel." Often, these are hard to find and, when they are published and made known, then they become a "genealogy gimme." or "genealogy gift."

For whatever reason, this little excerpt gave me what I needed to help me write about my new discovery.

So, what were those few special words I found in the Mt. Vernon Signal?

Well, under the title "WABD" - dated Friday, August 12, 1904, were the words: "Mrs. Louisa Wallen, of Wabd, is visiting her sister, Mrs. John Sowder".  

I froze when I saw it. My heart stopped...and then my mouth flew open..and then I did all that heebee jeebee stuff they call "happy dancing". Every Tyree researcher of this particular Tyree lineage knows who Mrs. John Sowder was. She was Elizabeth Tyree Wallen Sowder, daughter of William and Lucy Osborne Tyree! What a jewel, what a gift! I had been interpreting the clues right all along!

I  just wish cousin Charlie was still alive so I could have the pleasure of saying  (respectfully of course) "I told you Charlie!"

And I still can't get this newspaper article to come up using "Wallen" as a search word!



  1. Lisa, what a great find, wonderful story of your persevering for years and happy conclusion. I believe Charlie is looking down with a happy smile.

  2. I believe he is too Barbara. In fact, I would be surprised if he gave me that clue himself. ;-D

  3. Lisa, he sent the clue, he knew now, he has been visiting with Louisa, you know it is true!

    This one gets the infamous WAHHOOOOOO from Carol!

    Are you still happy dancing?? I would be! LOL


  4. I'm so thrilled for you, Lisa. One of my favorite words is serendipity. This is why. No rhyme or reason as to why something lands in your lap, but there it is. Enjoy.

  5. A definate "woo-hoo!!" moment.
    :-) Theresa

  6. Great story! It sounds like you are still just as excited as you were when you found this last week. I suspect you will be enjoying this one for a long, long time. Old newspapers are a gold mine.