Thursday, December 30, 2010

Genealogy Goals - New Year 2011

COG 101: My genealogy research/writing plan for 2011

This may be the first time in my entire life to have actually written down goals for the upcoming year. Good intentions and thoughts about them don't seem to "get 'er done". I have been working on four lists: Genealogy, Business, Household, and Personal. Below are 5 goals for genealogy that I hope to accomplish in 2011.

1) Write an updated article on my Townsend lineage for the Townsend Society of America Genealogical Journal before the first quarter deadline which is mid January. The last TSA Journal that came out had some misinformation on my lineage and it was also extremely scanty. I'm pretty sure it was the same information I originally submitted to them over a dozen years ago when I first joined the TSA. This doesn't need to be a lengthy article so it shouldn't take much time.

2) Finish transcribing my great grandfather's diary. Oliver Morton Wallen wrote a daily diary that ended with his death in 1907 at the age of 37 years. The first few pages are a summary of his early childhood and then it continues as a daily journal. Over the years, Oliver filled up four  composition books. I have completely finished transcribing three of those books and I made an every-name index for two of them. I need to finish the index for the third book and transcribe and index the fourth. It tends to take me a while because for every new name or place, I go off in all directions gathering information, and that's OK by me because I have made some significant discoveries by doing that. The completion of this project has been put on hold for 3 years and I have several near and distant relatives that are eager to get their hands on the finished product.

3) Gather information on living relatives. I have been great at gathering all the pertinent data on the dead but I have many living relatives who's marriage dates and places are missing or their children's dates of birth and middle names are missing, and so on. I am sometimes met with those who are reluctant to give out that information and I have to explain that I am not doing it because I am nosy. We all know how that goes.

4) In 16 years I have accumulated a rather large genealogy library. By far the largest of my goals is to inventory my personal library and make a catalog of the books, CDs, and other reference materials I have and that I sometimes forget I have. I have many rare and out of print county histories, plat maps, surname genealogies, etc. For some counties I have up to a dozen books. This will be a time consuming effort.

5) Set up a daily/weekly/monthly schedule for organizing my genealogy data both on my computer and off, including scanning of documents and photos. This is just a schedule, not the actual organization of all my "junk". The actual organization and all it entails is an ongoing, never-ending process. I do not expect it to be a "finished" effort, but rather a habit formed. (Note to God: Please help me, I can't do this by myself!)

Just thinking about #4 and #5 makes me wonder where I am going to find time for the rest of my life and those other three lists! However, I remember a time, just about four years ago, when I was effortlessly organized....our house/yard, our business records, and my personal (social/spiritual) life, all organized! And it was all because I was following the prompts of the "Fly Lady" ( What a complete idiot I was for letting myself fall off THAT wagon! To accomplish even half of my goals I will need to become a Fly Baby once again. I can do this!

(Written for the 101st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy)


Monday, December 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: The Will of James Mitchel 1797

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

James Mitchel of Letterkenny Township in Franklin Co., Pennsylvania was my maternal sixth great grandfather. He was married to Martha Sharp, daughter of William and Mary Sharp. He had at least two sons in the Revolutionary War; James Jr. and John. It is from his daughter Margaret, who married James Anderson, that I descend. I estimate his birth to be between 1730 and 1735, based on the birth of some of his children.

Will of James Mitchel

"MITCHEL, James, Letterkenny Tp. Dated Apr. 29, 1796.  Proved Mar. 30, 1797.  Son James 325 lbs.; Son John 325 lbs. to be paid out of the last payments now to become due from Abraham and Peter Keefers for the land which I sold to said Abraham Keefer.  To my daus., viz:  Elizabeth now the wife of Robert McConnel, Margaret now the wife James Anderson and Sarah now the wife of John Cochran, each the sum of 50 lbs.  Son Jesse 50 lbs.; grandson James, son of the aforesaid Jesse, 50 lbs.; son Nathaniel, 50 lbs.; grandson James, son of aforesaid Nathaniel, 50 lbs.; son Joseph 50 lbs.; grandson James Patterson, son of my son Joseph, 50 lbs.; daughter-in-law-Margaret,  wife of my son Joseph; grand dau. Elizabeth, dau. of my son Jesse.  Exrs.:  Jesse, Nathaniel and Joseph.  Wit.:  John McConnel, Robert McConnel, James McConnel."

Source: Frances Strong Helman "Your Family Tree" August 1957, Vol. VII, #4, pg. 94.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Struck By Lightning, Twice!

Growing up, my parents always told us kids how dad was struck twice by lightning, once as a child and once after we lived in Florida. We always marveled at that story. How could that be? Struck by lightning twice and no marks?

Well, the other day when I drove my friend to her doctor's appointment, I waited in the car like I usually do with something to read. This time I'd taken my binder full of copies I'd made of letters written during the great depression by my paternal great grandmother Sarah to her son, my granduncle Hobart Wallen. I had read through these letters once before but I didn't remember this one short paragraph she'd written on August 7, 1932.....

"Last Tues. there was an electrical storm & lightening struck their house and shocked Bobby, he didn't get over it till next day. It damaged the house so much that it took a carpenter about all day to fix it."

Excerpt from letter written by Sarah Davis Wallen/Livesay
to her son Hobart Wallen 7 Aug. 1932

I was tickled pink, to say the least, and when my friend came out to the car I was still giggling over it. What a great thing to find this story told just days after the incident happened! Of course my dad was never hit directly by least I don't think he was!

Note: The scan of my great grandmother's letter was actually two scans stitched together by my brand new early Christmas present, my Flip-Pal Scanner. This was my first try, minutes after opening the package. What a snap! I love my new toy!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Jesse Tyree: Murder of a "Lunatic"

JESSE TYREE 1847 - 1885

Eastern Kentucky Asylum for the Insane - Photo by Waller Overton Bullock, 1898
Jesse Tyree was the younger brother of my third great grandmother, Louisa Tyree Wallen. He was born in Scott Co., Virginia to William and Lucy Osborne Tyree and was 17 years younger than Louisa who married when he was about 2 years old. Jesse's mother died when he was about 4 and the family relocated to Rockcastle Co., Kentucky. When Jesse was about 18 he married Melinda V. Byrd, daughter of James A. and Margaret Kelly Byrd. Together they had three children: James, Florence and Willie.

It is not yet known exactly what happened to Jesse's father William Tyree. William married for the second time to the widow Martha Kilgore Francisco and had one daughter, Ellen, by her and when Martha died he married another widow in 1865, Margaret Castle Yanders. In 1870 Margaret is found living in Pulaski Co., Kentucky under her previous married name and with the children from her first marriage. Also in her household is her newest offspring, Nannie Tyree. At the same time Jesse is found living in Missouri with his wife, two children, his half sister Ellen and a young girl of some relation, Louisa Tyree, who had been living with the family as early as 1860.

Jesse and his family must have returned home from Missouri shortly after 1870 because half sister Ellen married John Watts in Rockcastle Co. in 1875, however, by 1880 Jesse shows up in the Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum in Lexington, Kentucky, listed as an epileptic. They list his previous occupation as "Teacher". His wife and children (by now there was a third child) were all living in Tennessee, each in a separate household but within close proximity of each other.

Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum
In mid December 1885 Jesse was murdered at the asylum by an attendant, Arthur W. Platt, who was trying to force him to come to dinner. When Jesse refused these attempts Platt pulled a loaded gun from his pocket and shot Jesse through the heart. One version of the story says Jesse was pleading piteously for his life. According to one article, 40 inmates witnessed the killing (it is more likely they only heard the gunshot from another room) and apparently some of them came after Platt. Platt briefly alerted another attendant of the incident, packed a valise and fled. He managed to elude arrest for ten years and decided to return home to England where he had family. Platt changed his name to Edward R. Taylor and lived in England for three more years before he decided he liked it better in America. He committed a small crime in order to get arrested and after he was incarcerated he informed Scotland Yard of his warrant in America. Arrangements were made and Platt was finally brought back for trial and was given a light sentence of 4 years in prison. Platt insisted the whole incident was an accident and there were no witnesses still alive to contest his story and even if they had been alive it was doubtful their testimony could be used in court.

After 4 years Platt was given his freedom to resume a normal life. I found no less than 20 newspaper articles on this murder and trial in 6 different Newspapers: Hazelgreen Herald, Morning Herald, New York Times, Mt. Vernon Signal, Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital, and the Omaha World Herald. There is also a lengthy and detailed account entitled "Murder of Jesse Tyree" at, contributed by Pam Brinegar.

Jesse Tyree is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery of what is now called the Eastern State Hospital.

The many names of Eastern State Hospital:

Fayette Hospital (1817-1822)
Lunatic Asylum (1822-1844)
The Kentucky Lunatic Asylum (1844-1849)
Lunatic Asylum of Kentucky (1850-1852)
The Lunatic Asylum (1850-1852)
The Eastern Lunatic Asylum (1852-1855)
The Eastern Lunatic Asylum of Kentucky (1855-1858)
The Kentucky Eastern Lunatic Asylum (1858-1864)
Eastern Lunatic Asylum (1864-1867)
The Kentucky Eastern Lunatic Asylum (1867-1873)
The First Kentucky Lunatic Asylum (1873-1876)
Eastern Kentucky Lunatic Asylum (1876-1894)
Eastern Kentucky Asylum for the Insane (1894-1912)
Eastern State Hospital (since 1912)