Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COG 116 - Women's History Month: Levina Newby

The Carnival of Genealogy (COG) traditionally honors women in March each year in conjunction with National Women's History Month. The submissions for this month's COG are to start with a photograph of a woman in our family tree and we are to tell either the story of the photo and/or a biography of the woman pictured. I have chosen to tell the story of the photo of my maternal 3rd great grandmother, Levina (Leonard) Newby along with a very short biography. My thanks to Jasia of CREATIVEGENE for hosting this Carnival!

Levina has been one of my brick walls for many, many years. I'd spent hundreds of hours chasing what I thought was the most likely lineage and I thought I had it. I really thought her father was Nathaniel Leonard. Then I got her death certificate and on the back the clerk had typed that her father was "David" and her mother "unknown". Baahh!

Levina (Leonard) Newby 1823-1889
Early in January this year I found a query about this same Leonard family on RootsWeb.com from 2002. I immediately wrote, hoping the woman still had the same e-mail address. I received a reply within 24 hours. My new found cousin Kathy was a descendant of Jacob and Levina through their youngest child Carrie. I was a descendant through their oldest child, John. To my delight, Kathy told me another cousin had given her photographs, not only of Kathy's ancestor Carrie, and her family, but another photo of Carrie's and John's mother Levina! Kathy would send it via e-mail. I was afraid to believe it; I felt like I was holding my breath! Then the e-mail arrived and there was my lovely 3rd great grandmother Levina, looking back at me! The photo was in amazing condition. I couldn't take my eyes off Levina's face, such an interesting, sweet face! Levina and Jacob were Quakers and I thought her dress style reflected that. I was in a euphoria over this photo for quite some time and I will be forever grateful to Kathy for passing it along.

It turned out that the work Kathy had done on Levina's lineage was exactly like mine. Kathy too had concluded that Levina was the daughter of Nathaniel Leonard. I am hoping to get to the courthouse in Newcastle, Indiana to view the original death certificate myself before I make any decisions about starting over completely. It wouldn't be the first time a clerk had made a mistake. However, if the clerk's entry is correct, it's back to a fairly bleak looking drawing board!

Jacob and Levina were married in 1841 in Hancock Co., Indiana and lived the rest of their lives in the neighboring county of Henry. They were the parents of 7 children: John Alby., Elizabeth A., Strother E., Loren Yancy, Leonidas Perry, Frank, and Carrie Elmonta. They are both buried in the old section of Glen Cove Cemetery in Knightstown, Indiana. Her name is spelled LEVINA on the stone, but other records spell it Lavina, Lavinia, etc. In an earlier blog post I wrote about the "miracle" of finding their tombstones when I visited that cemetery back in 1998: Sentimental Sunday: Beyond Serendipity. This unexpected gift of Levina's photograph adds a new dimension to that story!

Written for the 116th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.



  1. Most interesting eyes she has, eh? I hope you are able to get another step backwards soon! Thanks for posting.

  2. Great photo, her eyes are quite something. Good luck on the rest of her story and research.

  3. Yes..the eyes! Since you both brought them up, I am going to say that I think, between her petite face, her ears, and her unusual eyes, she looks exactly what I imagine an aged pixie would look like! She is the second of my maternal grandmothers that look petite, and, at almost 5'10" and a size 10 shoe, I am anything but!

  4. Amazing photograph. And it sounds like she wants her story told - at least that's how I think of it when serendipity leads me where I need to go.

  5. Me too Nan! And I'm counting on that for any additional help I need in tracking her family down. Sometimes good research skills and available records are all it takes, but sometimes we need that extra "edge".

  6. Wonderful post. What a lucky day when you found an old query with an email that still works.

  7. Photos like this one are priceless -- unexpected treasures. Also, I really like how you work, always ready to go back to the drawing board-- and I hope that "extra edge" is in your future.

  8. It seems like Levina's not the challenge: her parents are! Maybe they're not ready for you to find them yet. Maybe they will help you along when they are. (That's sometimes my take on finding our ancestors.) How wonderful that you found an old rootsweb post AND received a response when you wrote. What a blessing to have a photograph! I think Levina is very beautiful. You just have to wonder what happens to those eyes when she smiles or laughs. She's probably even more beautiful!