Monday, October 26, 2015

Texas State Genealogical Society 2015 Family History Conference

This week I am excited to be attending the Texas State Genealogical Society (TSGS) 2015 Family History Conference. This premier annual Texas genealogical event will begin this Friday, October 30 and run through Sunday, November 1, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Austin, 6121 North Interstate Highway 35, in Austin, Texas, and everyone is invited!

We are particularly pleased to welcome, not one, but two keynote speakers this year, J. Mark Lowe and Lisa Louise Cooke. The breadth and depth of knowledge they bring will provide a well rounded experience for every attendee.

In addition to a great lineup of speakers, I am looking forward to networking with other genealogists from throughout Texas.  At the banquet on Saturday night, I will begin my term as District 4 Representative to the TSGS Board.  District 4 is comprised of the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, and Walker.  I look forward to the opportunity to get to visit with these societies in the coming years of my term.

TSGS has divided the state into 20 districts.  Each of the District Representatives serves on the TSGS Board of Directors.

My plan is to serve as follows: 1) represent TSGS within my geographic district; 2) actively solicit membership in TSGS; 3) contact each society in the district to offer assistance and seek support; 4) serve as a resource for genealogical education programs in the district; 5) offer assistance with policies, procedures and programs to enhance services to the membership of each society.

District 4 of TSGS is comprised of the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, and Walker. 
If you live in District 4, please contact me and let me know if you are a member of a genealogy or historical society in the district.  I would like your help making arrangements for a visit to your society.  If you are not a member of a society, I can help you find a society that is close to you or that covers your ethnic research interests.

If you are a member of an ethnic, local, state or national genealogical society that is planning events in the district, please contact me and let me know so I can help you promote your events.  If you are going to be in Austin this weekend, please let me know so we can meet up at the TSGS Conference.

Check out the full schedule of sessions, workshops and other events!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Family Reunion Presentation- Life & Times of Silas Snow

Are you planning a family reunion?  Have you thought about having a presentation from a genealogist on one of your ancestors?  Your family will be intrigued to learn of the exploits of their ancestor.  A slide show with photographs, maps and original documents can illustrate the life of an ancestor and bring that person to life for your family to enjoy.

I have done several of these types of presentations recently and they all have been received very well. Here are a few of my slides from a recent presentation on the Life and Times of Silas Snow:

Silas Snow was born near Spay, Choctaw County, Mississippi in 1840 and died in Falls County, Texas in 1905.  He migrated to Texas with his slave owner between 1850 and 1860.  He registered to vote in Hamilton County, Texas in 1867.  He owned 173 acres in Coryell County and some of the land is still in the possession of one of his descendants.

Silas Snow has a substantial headstone in the Oak Grove Cemetery near Gatesville, Texas.  The inscription and the carving on the headstone are reflective of his faith in God and his belief in a family reunion in heaven.  The gravestone gives his exact dates of birth and death.  This gravestone photo was obtained from his FindaGrave Memorial.

Silas Snow married Mary Caroline Lothlen on March 5, 1872, in Coryell County, Texas. They had five children during their marriage: Radford Snow 1868-?; David H. Snow 1872-1945; Ollie Snow Mack Mayberry 1873-1947; Lula Snow Armstrong Comer 1876-1935; Mary E. Snow Wallace 1877-?  His wife Mary Caroline Lothlen passed away on April 8, 1879, in Coryell County, Texas, at the age of 27. They had been married 7 years.  She was buried in the Gatesville City Cemetery in Gatesville, Texas.

The family had oral history that Silas Snow was born in Spay, Mississippi.  I was able to find this 1895 map of Choctaw County, Missipppi that shows Spay located in the southern part of the county.

Silas may be the 10 year old unnamed slave of Eli Snow 1780-1851.  Eli Snow was the father of David Crockett Snow 1817-1877.  D.C. Snow married Nancy Barron 1817-1907.  D.C. and Nancy were married in 1838 in Choctaw County, Mississippi.  Many of the Snow and Barron family members migrated with their slaves from Choctaw County, Mississippi to Hamilton County, Texas in the 1850s.

 Silas Snow registered to vote in Hamilton County, Texas in 1867.  D.C. Snow was the only man named Snow who owned slaves in the 1860 slave schedule of Hamilton County, Texas and is also the only white man named Snow who registered to vote in 1867.  It appears that Silas Snow and Anthony Barron came to register at the same time as they are listed next to each other on the voter register.

The 1870 census neighborhood near the Leonville Post Office in Coryell County, Texas tells a tale of relationship between white and black families.  Jack P. Key was one of the largest property owners. He later becomes a Texas legislator.  The Barns family in the next household headed by Rose Barns and her oldest son, Jacob was one of the keys to unlocking the mystery of this neighborhood.  Jacob Barns is also know as Jake Barrens.  Jake told his life story to the WPA in a "Texas Slave Narrative." At the bottom of the page is John Loflin also known as John Lothlen or Lothlin.  In fact when you look at the page that follows you will see that his children were enumerated with the surname Lothlin.

Silas Snow was residing in the Lothlen household and he is enumerated on line 9 of the above census page.  His future wife, Mary C. Lothlen is on line 2.  We believe that the Lothlen family were the freed slaves of Dr. A.Y. Lothlen.  Silas Snow received 100 acres from Dr. A.Y. Lothlen in 1878.

The former slaves owned by the Snow and Barron families had to leave Hamilton County and search for work in nearby Coryell County.  The leaders of Coryell County followed the example of Judge Mayberry by encouraging the freed slaves to live in a "freedom settlement" called Lincolnville.  Read more about Lincolnville in this online newspaper article.  A Snow descendant owns a substantial portion of the land near the site of Lincolnville.

The white Murrell family have oral history that ties them to the black Snow family which has been documented in Coryell County history books.  The oral history is substantiated by the fact that they are living in close proximity in the 1870 census.  The Coryell county biography for Lemuel Murrell says that some of the Murrell slaves took the name Murrell and gave the slaves land near Ireland. 

While this was written up in a Coryell County History, it appears to be based on undocumented oral history. Silas Snow received 100 acres from Dr. A.Y. Lothlen in 1878 not Lemuel Murrell.  The land of Silas Snow was near the future site of Ireland in the Spencer Rice Survey.  Did the Murrell family help Silas Snow acquire this land from their former neighbor, Dr. A.Y. "Sandy" Lothlen?  Perhaps a copy of the deed from Lothlen to Snow would shed more light on this question.

This story also says that many of Lemuel's slaves stayed with him and took the name Murrell. However, in reviewing the five 1870 census pages which show the community near the Leonville Post Office, there are no black families named Murrell. Thomas Lothlen (Loflin) and Silas Snow are shown near the widow Murrell on page 1 and 2. The oral history leads me to believe that Silas Snow and the Lothlen family were working for the Murrells. Jake Barrens is on page 1 with his mother and siblings. The Barrens appear to be working for Jack Key which is substantiated by Jake Barrens slave narrative. 

On page 2 immediately next to Mary J. Murrell, the widow of Lemuel Murrell, are the black families headed by Daimon Eves and Dan McCowan. These may be the former Murrell slaves but more research is needed to substantiate that relationship. All of the families on page 3, 4 and 5 of the 1870 census for the Leonville Enumeration District are white. Mary J. Murrell is living next door to her brother, Hugh Baty 1824-1871 and they are both substantial land owners.

Another fact that supports a relationship between the Snow and the Murrell families is that one of the Snow descendants had pictures of members of the Murrell family that had been passed down in the family. However, it would appear that more research is needed to prove that Lemuel Murrell gave land to any of his slaves.

The slave narrative of Jake Barrens links him to the 1870 census neighborhood where Jack Keys was living.  The slave narrative of Jake Barrens is also posted to his FindaGrave Memorial which has more pictures and links to his very accomplished children.

The Tax Lists for Coryell county show Silas Snow owning the following lands:

1880- Abstract 865 in the S. Rice Survey containing 100 acres
1892- The land is still described as Abstract 865 in the S. Rice Survey but it is now 173 acres

The following record should be searched for an index book and page of the deed granting land to Silas Snow before 1880 for 100 acres and before 1892 for the 73 acres:

Grantee index v. L-Z 1854-1946
Family History Library United States & Canada Film 984403

By 1883 Silas Snow was one of the trustees of the Lincolnville School.  This document shows that the school trustees hired the brother-in-law of Silas Snow, Thomas J. Lothlen, as a teacher.  The other trustees are James Mayberry and Gus Wetherly.

This image from the Coryell county brand book shows that James "Big Jim" Mayberry recorded his mark and brand on April 13th 1867.  The registration record shows his name as "James Mayberry (Freedman)."  His mark was a swallow in each ear and there is a diagram of his brand which looks like a Y over an upside down T.  

This slideshow is an example of the kind of presentation that I can prepare for your family reunion. Thanks to Geri Hoover of San Antonio, Texas for inspiring and sponsoring this fascinating research project.

UPDATE: JUNE 5, 2016

The estate of Caleb Barron is very relevant to this article because it includes Anthony Barron in the inventory of slaves and is added here:


Submitted 15 Jun 2000 by Mary Love Berryman -

Copyright.  All rights reserved.

These slaves were listed in the Estate of Caleb Barron, who died 6 or 7 
July 1864, Hamilton Co, TX.  His Estate was in Smith Co., TX.  There 
was no will.  Elizabeth Barron, his wife, petitioned as administrator 
16 Jan 1865.

Caleb owned thirty four slaves, with names and values such as follows: 

Amanda, 11, $375 
Andrew, 6, $250
Anthony, 30, $800
Betsy, 2, $150
Ephraim, 40, $800
George, 32, $400
Jenny and child Calvin, 25, $600
John, (one eyed), 13, $300
Major, 40, $400
Moses, 3, $175
Moses, 25, $600
Patsey, 13, $500
Plum, 17, $600 
Siller & child, 29, $550
Vicey, 15, $600 

The total value of the slaves owned by Caleb, for the purpose of 
valuation of estate in the probation process was $15,550. Caleb 
Barron's total estate valuation of $26,897.78, the slaves' value 
accounted for the majority of his holdings (in excess of 57%).


John Barron's Home Page -
Descendants of CALEB Barron, Sr. -
Pat Childress -

Abstracts of the Smith County Probate Records, Smith County, Texas 
1846-1880, abstracted by Andrew L. Leath, published by the Jack T. 
Greer Memorial Trust Fund of The Smith County Historical 
Society/Historical Commission, Tyler, Texas - 1984

Monday, October 12, 2015

Italian Heritage-Our Nonnu Served in the Italian Military!

Italian Army Uniform circa 1900

If you have an Italian ancestor, you should look for his records of military service.  If you do not know his town of birth, but you know the province, military records can help you to locate the birthplace.  Military records can also give the name of his parents and a personal description.  The Family Search Wiki has a great article about how to access military records here:

 Military conscript records are kept by birth date at the provincial government archives.  The records for Siracusa were started circa 1890 and have entries for persons born in the 1870s until the dawn of the 20th century.  The LDS Church has microfilmed many of these records.  I ordered the Siracusa province microfilm for my great grandfather, Antonino Cimino in 1994 at the Reno, Nevada LDS Family History Center.  Today you can view microfilm online or at a Family History Center if it is a restricted microfilm.

I checked the microfilm number in the Family Search catalog to see if the records had been digitized and whether they are restricted.

Here is a sample for the 1878 record of my great grandfather in the military records for the Siracusa province:

The microfilm is entitled: Ruoli matricolari per nascite 1878. This translates to Conscription class for men born in the year 1878. The microfilm number is 1642308. This film is viewable in 2018 with additional restrictions. This item is available for viewing only at your local LDS family history center or at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. 

Here is the icon which tells you that the microfilm is available but that it is restricted to viewing only at a family history center:

I printed this image from the microfilm in 1994:

Here is the transcript that I made from the original Italian:

!MILITARY: 1893 Italian Army; First enrolled 6 Aug 1893.  He was called to the army and he joined 5 Dec 1898.  He served in the 38th Infantry Regiment.  He was the bugler for his regiment.  He served in that regiment until 1901.  In 1902 it appears that he was assigned to the 20th Infantry Regiment.
   The personal description includes the following: son of Sebastiano [Cimino] and Carmela Grasso. Born 23 December 1878 in Carlentini.  His height was 1.66 meters (5 ft., 5 inches).  His coloring was rosy(roseo).  His hair (capelli) was blond (biondi) and eyes (occhi) brown (castagni).  He had a sound set of teeth (dentatura).  His profession was farmer or peasant (contadino).  
SOURCE: LDS #1642308  Conscription class of 1878, Card #9751

Start by looking up the military records for the province where your ancestor lived in Italy.  You can  view the digital microfilm at your local Family History Center. Here is an excerpt from the Family Search Wiki which tells what is available and how to look it up in the Catalog:

As of 2018, the library has the following records. Click on the hyperlink to go directly to the catalog record for each Italian province that has digital microfilm for viewing at a family history center:

To find Italian military records in the Family History Library Catalog, check the Locality Search under:

I am available to consult with you on Italian military records as follows:

  • Search for and locate the digital microfilm for your ancestor,
  • Read and translate the Italian records, 
  • If no records have been microfilmed for your province, a letter can be sent to the provincial archives for you.

Please contact me in the contact box in the right hand column.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Genealogy Education Events Planned in Bay Area Houston

The Bay Area Genealogical Society (BAGS) is planning a series of educational events at a variety of venues in the Clear Lake area of Houston near the shores of Galveston Bay.

NEW! BAGS Members Only Working Sessions Scheduled To Begin

We are planning Members-Only Workshops and Round tables usually on the 3rd Saturdays of each month at University Baptist Church (UBC), 16106 Middlebrook Drive, Houston, TX 77059 . We have two adjacent rooms reserved.  The first room will be a Workshop for Beginners.  In the second room, we will have round table discussions for intermediate and advanced members.

Here is the plan:

The first 30 minutes of the Beginning Workshop will cover tips and techniques.  I will present the October 17th Beginner Tips session on "Getting Started with"  The presentation will explain the basics of how to build an ancestor profile and a family tree on

The Profile View on
On October 17, Nick Cimino will present 30 minutes on "Getting Started with".
This session is offered free to members of the Bay Area Genealogical Society. 
The next 90 minutes of the Beginner Workshop will be spent mentoring for specific member needs.  We have many experienced genealogists in our group who have offered to tutor those who are new to genealogy.

Round tables will be 4-6 people to give everyone a chance to talk.  The round tables will include:
1) Show & Tell, 2) British, 3) German, 4) Breaking Down Brick Walls, and 5) Review of the Billion Graves presentation from our last meeting,  

Here is the schedule of upcoming BAGS education events:

Saturday, October 17- Members Workshop & Round table from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in UBC-EB202 and EB203

Brandenburger Tor Blaue Stunde.jpg
The Brandenburg Gate- Come see Gus Hinds present German Genealogy Basics on November 7.

 Saturday Nov. 7  – from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Gustav Hinds will present German Genealogy Basics. Come learn how your ancestors migrated from German speaking countries to the U.S. The lecture will cover migration routes, trip documentation, immigration documentation, and strategies for finding your family.

This program is in the Community Room at the Freeman Library, 16616 Diana Lane, Houston.

Sunday, November 22 PBS Genealogy Roadshow- BAGS will have a table at this event from 8:00am to 6:00pm.  The Genealogy Roadshow is being filmed at  the Julia Ideson Bldg. (a.k.a. Houston Metro Research Center or old Houston Public Library) located at 550 McKinney St., Houston, TX 77002.      This should be fun just to see the genealogist stars of the show in action: Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco.

Saturday, January 23 Members Workshop & Round table from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in UBC-EB202 and EB203

Saturday, February 20 Members Workshop & Round table at 2:00pm to 4:00pm in UBC-EB202 and EB203

All of these events have been scheduled on Saturdays to accommodate our members who have full-time jobs.

If you are retired, you should consider attending our weekday sessions.

Beginning Genealogy Research
1st and 3rd Mondays each month starting September 2015 from 9:30 to 11:30am at the Alvin Senior Center located at 309 West Sealy, Alvin, TX 77511. Presented by BAGS member Oletia Teas.
For more information, call the center at 281-388-4298.

Please mark your calendar!

To learn about our schedule of speakers for our General Meetings on the last Friday night of each month or for more information about the Bay Area Genealogical Society, please go to our website: