Monday, December 26, 2016

Correspondence for Family History- An Essential Art

Family history correspondence has been one of the most useful things that I have done in my genealogical journey.  If you can find family members that have an interest in family history, it really pays to write them a query.  I wrote last week of my correspondence with my cousin, Margaret Arthur of Ocala, Florida and the discoveries related to photos in my family albums.

Aline Cavanagh Mayne 1902-1995, the saint of my family history.
My correspondence with my maternal grandfather's sister, Aline Mayne Cavanagh in the early 1990's is what made those discoveries possible.  I kept copies of the letters between Aline and myself and digitized them last week.  I am attempting to get rid of some of the paper I have accumulated but I have to admit to being a bit sentimental about these letters and may hang on to the originals a while longer.  My letters included accounts of some interesting events in my life that I had forgotten about.  For example here is a summary of my trip to Ottawa, Canada:

August 4, 1990
Dear Aline, 
This summer has been very busy for us. I went to Ottawa, Canada in the first part of July and was there for the Canada Day celebrations. The Queen was there and I watched her from less than ten feet away as she reviewed the troops in front of the Parliament Buildings. It was an emotional time because the Canadians are experiencing such strife due to the Quebec separatist movement. The Queen put out a plea for unity but I think it fell on deaf ears in Quebec.
Ottawa was a beautiful city. I rented a bicycle and explored the landmarks and the bike paths along the many waterways . While I was there I did some research on my wife's side of the family, the Fitzpatricks.
Turns out that they were American loyalists who emigrated to Canada after the Revolutionary war. They settled along the St. Lawrence River near a town called Cornwall. Her great grandfather moved to Colorado and homesteaded some land on the western slope of the Rockies and founded the town of Collbran, Colorado.
A useful tool that I used in my letter to Aline was the following survey form:
March 16, 1990
Please fill out as much as you can recall. Don't worry if you don't have answers. I would prefer that you just say that you don't know and return this sheet as soon as possible.
1. What were the names of your father's brothers and sisters?
2. What were the names of your mother's siblings?
3. Do you recall the names of your great grandparents?
4. Did your grandfather have a brother named Daniel?
5. If so was he married to a woman named Alice?
6. Please write down the names of any of your cousins?
7. How were these cousins related?
8. Please write down addresses for any living relatives.
9. Do you know where any of the relatives above are buried?
Her return letter which was dated one week after the date on my survey provided me with some very interesting family details:

Dear Nicholas,
It was good to hear from you.  I was so sorry to have lost contact with your mother [Jill Mayne 1935-2005] for so long.  I will be glad to help you find information on the Mayne family.  I can recall many things that might be helpful.
I never saw my grandparents Mayne who lived in Frederick, Maryland but I do remember when my father [Rev. Joseph Hanson Mayne 1849-1938] went to the funeral of his father [David Mayne 1921-1910].  I must have been 8 or 10 at the time [Aline was born in 1902].
However, we did visit my Uncle Frank and Aunt Fanny in Frederick after we came to Wilmington. [Aline and her husband, Elvin Cavanagh arrived in Wilmington, Delaware about 1931. Uncle Frank was also known as David Francis Mayne 1852-1941.  Aunt Fannie was also known as Fannie May Bopst 1859-1950.]
Frank had raised fruit and vegetables for the Baltimore market.  Had no children- collected rocking chairs, left most of his considerable fortune to the United Brethren church in Frederick.
Uncle Frank and Aunt Fannie Mayne on the porch of their house at 237 Dill Avenue, in Frederick, Maryland.  This picture was probably taken by Aline Mayne Cavanagh or her husband, Elvin Cavanagh in the 1930s.  They appear to be using part of their rocking chair collection.

This letter went on to provide me biographical information on her siblings and names and contact information for her nieces and nephews. Aline provided me with so many notes, letters, newspaper clippings, photographs and memories that I considered her a saint of our family history.  This extract from one of my letters to her explains the depth of my feelings for her:

October 15, 1990
Dear Aline:
Thanks for your letter of 10 October. The U.S. Mail is a wonderful thing but letter writing seems to be a lost art. I love to write now but resisted for so long. My computer has been an aid in that regard. I hope you don't mind the typed format. My genealogy instructor suggests that we write all our letters to relatives by hand. My hand can't keep up with my mind though. Not that I am lightning fast at the key board but I it is still much faster than hand written. My letter writing style says a lot about me as a person. I like to do everything the fastest and easiest way possible.
As far as your hand writing is concerned, I think you are too modest. The arthritis is not apparent to me. You have lovely handwriting, very readable. Do you correspond with others? I am sure they will agree with me. If it is uncomfortable for you to write at times you might consider sending me a tape recording. Do you have a cassette tape recorder? I will send you some tapes if you would like.
I have enclosed a copy of your father's list of church appointments. I don't recognize the names of all the churches or charges so if you could give me the names of the towns it would help me in tracking any records in the individual church archives. I think your father was a fascinating fellow and I would like to write his biography. The civil war stories would be very compelling if you can remember any more details. Despite all the trappings of progress, the American people are still very much the way they were. Instead of soldiers foraging for food in the countryside, it is the homeless foraging for food in city alleys.
I have enclosed a guideline on how to record your personal history. It says "oral" history but that is strictly optional. If you prefer to write it down that would be just as good. There are lots of questions on these sheets, so don't get overwhelmed. The main reason for so many questions is to show you that there are many interesting things that have happened in your life. I think you are a very unique and talented woman. God has blessed you with many gifts in your life. I ask that you share those by writing or recording your personal history.
Our church is celebrating All Saints Day by placing pictures of the saints in our lives on the altar. Our pastor spoke about her father who was an excellent example of service and devotion in her life. She asked me to speak last Sunday about the research I have been doing on our family history and to discuss one of our family saints. I immediately thought of your father and had resolved to talk about his long years of service to the church.
When I started to organize my thoughts about him and about my love of genealogy, I realized that the person I most wanted to recognize was you. I began looking through the accumulation of letters, notes and pictures that you had saved, and realized what a tremendous service you had done for the family in preserving those mementos of the past. Your pictures are on the altar now. After my talk I had one of the parishioners come up and say "hi, cousin". His name is Jim Wolfenden and he is a descendant of the Mayne family too! He talked about his brother attending some of the Mayne Family reunions in Frederick.
Well anyway, I hope you will consider writing down some of your memories. Even just a few pages would be appreciated.

Aline responded with a nice long letter about growing up in the various parsonages where her father served as a United Brethren minister.  One of her most vivid memories was of the Dayton flood:

... We lived at Lockington [Ohio] at the time of the famous Dayton flood.  Fortunately we lived high above the river so we were not affected by it as we watched houses and trees etc. float down the river. David [her brother] was in Dayton working at National Cash Register Company earning money for college.  He found refuge on the top of the Railway Depot. Canned goods i.e. tomatoes, applesauce, etc. floated by so the folks grabbed them and lived on them until the water subsided.

I hope these little excerpts will inspire you to write down some of your own memories and share them with your family.  When your memory is exhausted, start writing letters or emails to your family members and genealogical cousins to explore their collection of family memories and heirlooms.  Scan your old letters and photos and attach them to ancestor profiles in your online family trees.

If you would like to read the entire series of letters between me and Aline, you can download a copy at this hyperlink.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Finding a Maiden Name: Clues in Family Archives

The clues that we find in oral histories, notes on pictures and family bible records are essential pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that we call family history. Your family members whether they are immediate family or distant cousins have been archiving bits of information such as papers, heirlooms and photographs for centuries.  You must do your best to find these clues.

Family historians must collect, archive and catalog all of these pieces of evidence and compare them with other genealogical records to piece together the puzzle.   Writing up the story at every phase of the process is essential for a genealogist whether they are a professional or a hobbyist.

Write down the stories that you heard about your ancestors.  Then interview or send a written query to everyone you can find that is related to that ancestor through kinship or association. Share the stories with your family and anyone else who is willing to preserve them whether it be an individual, a library, an archive or a website.

Aline Mayne Cavanagh 1902-1995
This picture was taken in front of the Methodist Country Home in Wilmington, Delaware in 1990.

My grandfather's sister, Aline Mayne Cavanagh, shared her family photo and letter collection with me in 1990.  She allowed me to take it home to Reno, Nevada, make copies and return it to her by mail.  

Ann Bamford Nevin 1804-1879 and her grand daughter, Anna Elizabeth Banford Mayne 1860-1938. The girl is Aline's mother and the old lady also known as "Grandma Nevin" is her great grandmother who apparently was visiting her daughter's family near Cincinnati from her home in Schuyler County, Missouri. Taken at J.P. Ball's Photographic Gallery, on 4th St. between Main & Walnut Streets, Cincinnati, Ohio about 1867. Date is estimated based on an estimate of Anna E. Banford's age at 7.  It would be interesting to see if Mr. Ball was listed in the Cincinnati City Directory around that time.
One of the pictures was labeled Aunt Margaret Bryant, Grandma Nevin's sister.   Another was labeled Will Banford, Billaire.  I was able to discover the maiden name of both Grandma Nevin and her sister, Aunt Margaret Bryant, by sharing these photos with a Bamford descendant who I discovered was a distant cousin, Margaret Arthur of Ocala, Florida.

Margaret Bamford Bryans 1817-1887
Taken by Brown, 1222 Market Street, Wheeling, West Virginia. Labeled as Aunt Margaret Bryant, Grandma Nevin's sister. This photo was in the collection of Aline Mayne Cavanagh, my grand aunt and was copied in 1990.

Ms. Arthur had the proof that her ancestor, Margaret Bryans (also known as Bryant and Bryan) was born a Bamford in the Ramult Townland of County Fermanagh.  Here is the story in her own words:

"Bless the gods of genealogy! I despaired of ever seeing a photo of my ggg-grandmother! She has the same jaw as that of her daughter, Mary. And Will! The resemblance is remarkable!
 I believe that the young man is William of Bohattan, b. 1840--he looks to be about 25 in the photo, doesn't he?--son of William of Ramult, b. 1805, Margaret's brother.
Bellaire is in Belmont County, Ohio, just across the river from Wheeling, where his father settled. William's brother, Charles Fitzgerald Bamford, also settled in Bellaire and had a huge family.
Yeah, searching my Irish roots, I started with my mom's memories of her gg-mother, Mary Bryans Wiedebusche She believed she came from Ireland about 1850. Well, my initial searches found her born in Canada, along with a slew of brothers and sisters. Then I went looking for information about Mary's parents, where they came from and how and when they got to Canada.
Turns out Mom had Mary Bryans's MOTHER's Bible! There wasn't much in there (turns out Margaret Bamford couldn't write), and it leaves me with an irritating mystery. But it gave me the townland where Margaret was born--Ramult. Census fragments from 1821 of Ramult, in Fermanagh, show the entire Bamford family.
The Bible gave only three birth and death dates, those of William I Bryans, Margret Bryans, and a daughter, Maggie Brynes.
When I found Joseph Bamford in Belmont County, Ohio, I also found his brother, William, across the river in Wheeling, WV. I realized then that this was why William Bryans uprooted his family from Canada in 1865 and relocated to Moundsville.  If you go to the 1850 census of Belmont County, you will find living with Joseph one Thomas Navin with his wife Ann and a 4-year-old Magdalina, born in Ireland."
The fact that a picture of Grandma Nevin's sister was passed down in our family labeled Aunt Margaret Bryant and the fact that Margaret Bryant's maiden name was Bamford, helps us to conclude that Grandma Nevin was the Ann Bamford who is enumerated in the 1821 census of the Townland of Ramult.  

1821 Census Record of Ramult Townland, County Fermanagh
Family of Alexander and Jane Bamford is listed.
Several of these children settled in Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia.

Margaret Arthur helped to establish that the picture of Will Bamford of Bellaire, Ohio was a nephew of Grandma Nevin or Niven as it is spelled on her gravestone.

Will Bamford, Bellaire, Ohio - Estimated Date 1865
This photo was in the collection of Aline Mayne Cavanagh, my grand aunt. She allowed me to borrow it and make a copy in 1990. The back was marked: "Will Banford, Billaire" [sic] She resided in Wilmington, Delaware until her death in 1995. The original is in the possession of one of her descendants, hopefully.

The other piece that helps to support the connection between the Bamfords and the Nevins is the 1850 census record which shows them living together in the household of Joseph Bamford in Belmont County, Ohio.  

1850 Census Pultney Township, Belmont County, Ohio showing the family of Thomas and Ann Nevin residing with Ann's brother, Joseph Bamford.  Joseph Bamford is listed on the bottom of the preceding page.

Margaret Arthur had questioned the connection because the September 1850 census record shows Magdalina as age 4 which conflicts with the May 1850 passenger list for the Wolfville which shows Magdalina as "inft" which is presumably an abbreviation for infant.  If you look at the 1860 census of the Nevins in Schuyler County, Missouri you will see that Magdalina is listed as 14 which would coincide with the age of 4 in the 1850 census.  So it appears that the age of Magdalina on the passenger list was inaccurate.  One mystery that remains is the location of the other daughters in the 1850 census.

Passenger List of the Ship Wolfville arriving in New York harbor 23 May 1850. Passengers include Thomas Nevin and his wife, "Annie" nee Ann Bamford and their daughters, Jane, Mary, Margaret and Magdaline.

The story that has emerged by assembling all of these puzzles pieces tells of the process of chain migration from Ulster.  A large extended family of Bamfords and Nevins all immigrated from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.  Their descendants are now scattered across Ireland, the U.K.,  the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Free Live SCGS Webinar Series Announced!

2017 SCGS Jamboree Extension Series Webinars Announced!

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) proudly announced the 2017 schedule for their highly acclaimed Jamboree Extension Series Webinar program. I am pleased to be offering the second session on January 7, 2017, 10:00 AM PST entitled Chain Migration from Ulster and One Name Studies.

SCGS offers educational webinars twice a month to an international online audience of genealogists and family historians.

Whether you are a budding genealogist or a professional, the webinars offer a wide range of topics to build your skills. The Jamboree Extension Series has helped to fulfill the SCGS mission to “foster interest in family history and genealogy… and provide instruction in accepted and effective research techniques” since 2011.

Registration is Now Open!

Click here to view the schedule and register for as many FREE LIVE webinars as you’d like. Following your registration, a confirmation e-mail will provide you with the link to attend the webinar.

All live broadcasts of webinars are free to attend. Webinars are offered the first Saturday (10:00 am Pacific time) and third Wednesday (6:00 pm Pacific time) of each month. You can attend on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

SCGS members don’t have to worry about missing a webinar!  Members have 24/7 access to well over 140 archived webinars and selected Jamboree sessions to view at their convenience behind the member wall at Visit their membership page for more information on this and other membership benefits.

Download the 2017 Jamboree Extension Series Webinar flyer and share with family and genealogy friends.

Register Today!

Jamboree Extension Series Webinars| Southern California Genealogy Society
| 818-843-7247 | |

Monday, December 5, 2016

Texas Institute of Genealogical Research #TIGR2017

Texas State Genealogical Society (TxSGS) is thrilled to announce the launch of the first ever week-long genealogy institute focused solely on Texas records–TIGR, the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research!
This intensive educational experience focuses on Texas records and research spanning early Spanish exploration and colonization through the Texas Republic and beyond.

Program, Venue & Registration

Full program and registration details are coming soon.
To see the Institute web page and sign up for the TxSGS email list go to:


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Holidays to My Cousins!

I happen to have been blessed with a healthy helping of first cousins!  Here is a list of names:

Paternal cousins: John, Mike, Paul, Tim, Mary, and Toni Cimino; Mary Lynn and Larry Hancock; Rhonda and Aleen Burns. (10)

Maternal cousins: Christine, Steven, and Lesley Watson; Stacey Vroman Gray; Anna and Sarah Johnson; Terri and Gale Richter. (8)

Rainy days and holidays remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with lots of kids running wild.

I have a few pictures with my cousins around the holidays and in winter garb.  I share some of them here as a Christmas present to all of my cousins and their numerous descendants that are scattered far and wide across the North American continent.

Genealogists also know that we have thousands of cousins when we start to count all of the descendants of our ancestors.  I also wish all of my more distant relatives a Merry Christmas!

There is no rhyme or reason to the order. I wish I had more pictures of my cousins so maybe they could send me a few!

These pictures bring back many happy memories.  Merry Christmas Cousins!

Mike, John and Nick Cimino about 1955

Vicky and Nick Cimino and Christine and Steven Watson about 1959; In the backyard of our house on Carmela Way, Sacramento

I found this picture of Rhonda Burns in a box of photos that I got from my mom.  It looks like a graduation picture and it is inscribed to Uncle Dick and family- Love Rhonda
My christening with Steve and Christine
The rest of the folks facing the camera left to right are Bruce Watson, Joan Mayne Watson, Richard J. Cimino, the minister, Jill Mayne Cimino, Helen Stewart Mayne and Donna Mayne.  The woman in the dark dress is unknown.
This picture of Terri Richter was dated December, 29, 1987 and was taken at her home in Fresno.  Our grandmother, Elaine Kelly wrote on the back: "I made the jacket to go over dress.  I think Eiko bought it for Terry and she was cold.- EK"

This picture of Stacey Vroman Gray was taken in May 1985 in Statesboro, Georgia.
It shows that she has a flair for the dramatic!
Gale Richter is 11 years old in this picture which was taken at Homan Elementary School in Fresno.

Our grandmother, Elaine Kelly, with Stacey and Lesley at the wedding of Jack Kelly and Eiko Richter.

Steve, Christine, Lesley and Stacey, Christmas 1973
Christmas 1955 at the Kelly residence, Parkside Court, Sacramento
This is one of my favorite pictures inspired by our hilarious grandfather, George Kelly.
He is the horse and my dad is the rider.  Grandma Elaine is petting Goldie, the cocker spaniel.
Left to right: Elaine, Christine, Nick, Jill, Jack, George and Dick

Monday, November 28, 2016

Newspapers Reveal the Character of Our Ancestors

Some of the advances of technology for which I am the most thankful are online newspaper websites. I use these sites regularly for both client and personal research. Newspaper sites that I have been using extensively include Genealogy Bank, and the Portal to Texas History. Here is an example of an article that I discovered on last year:

The Journal-Advance (Gentry, Arkansas) · Thu, Apr 11, 1935 · Page 2;; Downloaded on Feb 1, 2015
The discovery of this article in an Arkansas newspaper is an object lesson in widening your search strategies.  The subject of this article is my great grandfather, Joseph Hanson Mayne who was born in Frederick County, Maryland but lived most of his life working as a United Brethren pastor in the vicinity of Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. His son, Virgil B. Mayne was also a pastor and served for a while at the Congregational church in Gentry, Arkansas. If I had limited my search to Ohio, I might never have found this article.

It was common for newspaper editors to search for articles from other newspapers to fill their pages. The Journal-Advance editor had the added bonus here that the story was connected to a local man of note.  The arrival of the new Congregational minister was trumpeted in this depression era newspaper.

The editor of the Journal-Advance accurately described the full article as long and interesting.  This newspaper article is very revealing of the family history and the character of my maternal great grandfather. I publish the full article here in the hope that you will find some amusement in this story of the walking feats of an octogenarian:

Columbus Sunday Dispatch, Sunday, April 7, 1935 p. 1 with photo. Westerville Minister Walks 13 Miles In Record Time--Reverend Mayne Firmly Refuses Offers of Obliging Motorists. By Hugh Fullerton    
   The Rev. Joseph Hanson Mayne, Saturday morning established a new all-time, All-American record for retired ministers, 86 years old and upward, by walking 13 miles from Westerville to the Dispatch office, in the remarkable time of four hours, 30 minutes.         Dr. Mayne set out to establish the record for which Dr. George Scott, professor emeritus of Otterbein college, essayed to make at the same age.  Dr. Scott failed in his attempt because before he reached Alum creek a large and ferocious dog ripped the seat from his pants and stopped the adventure.      
   The Rev. Mr. Mayne escaped such a fate, and by firmly refusing the offers of a dozen or more motorists who mistook him for a hitch-hiker, reached his destination and delivered this account to the city editor of the Dispatch without mishap.  
   Dr. Mayne preached the sermon at the United Brethren church in Westerville Sunday. Having spaded two gardens in a week besides attending to the grocery store on Summit street which he has operated since his retirement from the pulpit, he decided to show the modern generation how to walk.  Leaving the grocery at 6:30 a.m., he reached The Dispatch office at 11 a.m., making his record official.  
   Dr. Mayne retired, after half a century in the ministry, having presided at a dozen churches from Newport, Ky., to northern Ohio.  He preached in many churches in and around Dayton, was a student at Heidelberg college, and a graduate of Bonebrake.
   He was born on a farm near Frederick, Md., and was one of 11 children. His boyhood was spent on the farm at the peak of excitement over slavery.  He was a young man when the war between the states came, and the farm near Frederick seemed the center of that war, three great battles, Gettysburg, Antietam and Monocracy (sic).  For two days, he remembers, he with brothers and sisters listened anxiously while the roar of cannon shook the air and earth at Gettysburg.  
   He came to Ohio when he was 17 years old.  A friend from his own section of Maryland, had promised to get him a job in the quarries at Marietta, where he was employed.  Reaching Marietta he could not find a trace of his friend or a trace of a job, so he decided to push farther west.  
   He had an uncle, bearing the same name as his own, living near Dayton, and he started there.  When he reached the crossing of the Little Miami railroad near Lebanon his money was exhausted, and he commenced, without realizing it, training for Saturday's walk.  
   He walked to Dayton and started in a general direction toward his uncle's farm.  He was plodding along the dirt road when he met a road wagon, upon the seat of which a man was sitting.  The man shouted:  Whoa!  Are you a Mayne? You walk like a Mayne.  
   It was his uncle.  He went to the uncle's farm, but soon found a job with a neighboring farmer and went to work.  Always studious and inclined to religion he attended Heidelberg college, then taught school and studied for the ministry.  Graduated from Union Biblical (now Bonebrake) with the highest standing in his class, he began his career as a minister.   
   In spite of his advanced years, Mr. Mayne takes a keen interest in public affairs, conducts his little grocery, spades and plants his own and another garden, and loves outdoor exercise, especially walking.  His memory is still keen as ever and he has won some fame as a pulpit orator and and as a lecturer.  

NOTE:  Bonebrake Seminary is now United Theological Seminary (UTS), Dayton, OH.  For further information contact: The Center for the Study of Evangelical United Brethren History, UTS, 1810 Harvard Blvd., Dayton, OH 45406, (513) 278-5817

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hidden Heirlooms in my Closet

One of my often repeated bits of advice is to look for family history clues in your own closet.  One way to achieve that is digitize what you have in your family heirloom collection.  I recently discovered that I had my mom's original birth and marriage certificates in an envelope that I saved from her personal belongings.  What amazed me is that I do not ever recall seeing her original hospital birth certificate.

My mother's birth certificate from Franklin Hospital San Francisco
The little footprints are the cutest!  The family history part of the certificate is very informative.  I have all of this information from oral history and other documents but it is fun to see it all recorded so thoroughly.

Mom had stuffed several other documents in the same envelope.  It is interesting to compare the hospital certificate with the information recorded by the State of California.

State Issued Birth Certificate

The most striking thing is that my grandfather's occupation is clearly stated as Mortician for N. Gray & Company.  The other notable fact that I found a bit odd was that the birth certificate recorded that silver nitrate had been put into the baby's eyes.  Apparently this was a requirement of California law that physicians put the silver nitrate solution in the baby's eyes and record it on the birth certificate.
Receipt for the State Issued Birth Certificate
Mom even saved the receipt for the birth certificate which she requested in 2001. This is actually interesting to note and it gives her residence address at that date.

Divorce Final Judgement
Mom also saved her divorce decree in the same envelope with her two birth certificates.  She went back to her maiden name, Jill Anna Mayne after the divorce.
Stamp of the Clerk of the Superior Court

Based on the date, she probably gathered all of these documents together to file for Social Security when she reached age 66 in 2001.  It is always helpful to scan both sides of documents and photographs because the backs often contain useful information.

My new commitment is to scan, photograph and preserve all of these documents and heirlooms that I have acquired over the course of my 27 years of family history research.  It is a bit daunting for me but is better than seeing it all thrown out after I am gone.  I advise you to do the same. Preserve the information hidden in your closets for the future generations and to share with your family today!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Alleged Election Outrages in Texas

On the eve of one of America’s most historic elections, you may have thought that the title of this blog post had something to do with current events.  Many political pundits are outraged by the level of vitriol between the two candidates vying in tomorrow’s election.  The Reconstruction Era of American history provides documentation of many election events that will make the 2016 election seem tame by comparison.

The old Texas Capitol (1853-1881) was the setting for historic drama when African-Americans, most of them recently freed from slavery, took office as leaders of the Lone Star State. All images of the legislators and delegates, State Preservation Board. Capitol photo from the Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives.

I was inspired to “drill deeper” in my Texas Research by a presentation by Tim Pinnick at the Annual Conference of the Texas StateGenealogical Society in Dallas, Texas on Friday, October 28, 2016.  Mr. Pinnick gave a talk entitled “Maximizing Your Reach: African American Research in University Libraries.”  I had been thinking about visiting the local university libraries for years but finally got around to it this last week.  I spent several days at Texas State University (TSU) visiting their Main Library, the Law Library and the History Department.  The Houston chapter of the Afro- American Historical and Genealogical Society has a page which describes the resources of these libraries at their research link.

In 1889, Congress published a book entitled Testimony on the Alleged Election Outrages in Texas that summarized the investigation of alleged violence and harassment of certain citizens which accompanied the 1886 election in Washington County, Texas.[1]  The Congressional publication includes testimony taken in Federal District Court, Austin, Texas, in August 1887 in U.S. v. Lafayette Kirk et al. (p. 691-769).  My research has been focused on the “et al” portion of the case.  The other man that was charged in this case is the “Mysterious Bob Sloan” who is the subject of one of my top ten blog posts featured in the right hand column of this blog.  Much of the testimony focuses on Bob Sloan and his actions and motivations for turning his allegiance from the Republicans to the Democrats.  The TSU Law Library staff provided me with an index to the witnesses in the testimony from their Proquest Congressional documents database.

The entire book has been made accessible digitally on the Portal to Texas History and is keyword searchable.  The current state of Optical Character Recognition software being what it is you may also find an index helpful.  The list of witnesses includes a variety of actors in the tragic drama that occurred in Washington County in 1886.  If you are interested in Washington County history, you will see a “Who’s Who Listing” of many well known names and some that are more obscure like Bob Sloan. Unfortunately, even though Bob Sloan’s name appears in the testimony on numerous pages he did not provide any direct testimony.

The petitioners in the Congressional investigation were Stephen A. Hackworth, James L. Moore, and Carl Schutze.  Their petition referred to intimidation and lynchings that created a reign of terror in Washington county:
Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones, three colored Republicans, were arrested upon pretended and malicious charges of crime, and, while in the custody of the civil authorities of said county, were, on the 2d day of December ultimo[1886], surrendered by said civil authorities into the hands of large numbers of armed and disguised men—known as Ku-Klux—who wantonly and cruelly hung them to death; that this outrage was committed while the friends of these men were preparing to have their cases fully heard and investigated by habeas corpus proceedings, and the civil authorities of said county, together with their leading political friends, well knowing that reasonable and adequate evidence would be obtained at such trial which would expose and make public their political crimes and outrages, ordered and instigated, as your petitioners verily believe, the death of said Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones; that John Ireland, governor of said State, has failed and refused to make any effort whatever to have arrested and brought to trial the lawless men who committed this outrage, although the facts were made known to him and he was earnestly requested to take prompt action therein.
There is currently no known historical marker devoted to the lives of Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder and Stewart Jones.  By using the keyword functionality of the Portal to Texas History, you can find dozens of references to the surname “Felder” in the Election Outrages book. I chose the name “Felder” as it would have fewer matches than “Jones.” Here is a description of what happened to Shadrach Felder and eight other men from page 38-40 in the testimony of Felix Kinlaw, an African American who worked as an election official in 1886.  Mr. Kinlaw was one of the eight African American men who were arrested on election day, November 2, 1886:

Q. How many of you were arrested and put in jail ?-A. Eight of us. Q. Who were they?-A. Shad Felder, John Glass, Stephen Jackson, Ephraim Jones, Felix Kinlaw [the witness], Andy Hayes, and William Davis. Q. All colored men?—A. Yes, sir; all colored. Q. What were they charged with? A. I could not tell you what they put us in there for. Q. You had not done anything, had you?—A. Hadn’t done a thing, sir. Q. How long did you stay there in jail?—A. We staid there four weeks and two days, I think it was. Q. What became of Shad Felder ?-A. They killed him...Q. Who else did they take out and hang?--A. They took out Alfred Jones...Q. Was he related to Stewart Jones?--A. No, sir; he was my father-in-law. Q. This Alfred Jones, was?--A. Yes, sir.
The FindaGrave Memorial for Shad Felder cites a Dallas Morning News article about his death:
In the early morning hours, a mob of 20-60 men overpowered the jailer and took three prisoners from the jail: Shed [sic] Felder, 45; Alfred Jones, 60; and T.H. Jones, 40. The men had been charged with the shooting murder of D. Bolton in November. The bodies of the men were found later that morning hanging from a pecan tree about a mile from the jail on Independence Road. ("Three Negros Hanged at Brenham", The Dallas Morning News, December 03, 1886)
Burial place: Unknown; Virtual Cemetery info created by: M. L.;  Record added: Sep 05, 2006; Find A Grave Memorial# 15629719

The 1880 census provides us a little more information on a young man named Shadrack Felder who may be related to the Shadrack Felder aged 45 described in the newspaper article:

Shadrack Felder  in the 1880 United States Federal Census[2]:
Name:                                   Shadrack Felder
Age:                                       15
Birth Year:                           abt 1865
Birthplace:                          Texas
Home in 1880:                   Precinct 1, Washington, Texas
Race:                                     Black
Gender:                               Male
Relation to Head of House:          Son
Marital Status:                   NA
Father's name:                  Guy Felder
Father's Birthplace:         South Carolina
Mother's name:                               Harrite Felder
Mother's Birthplace:       Georgia
Occupation:        Laborer
 Household Members:
Name    Age
Guy Felder                        55
Harrite Felder                   38
Patience Felder                 22
Mary Felder                      17
Shadrack Felder                15
Martha Felder                     8
Wiley Felder                       7
Julia Felder                         6
Lucy Felder                        4
Sharlotte Felder                  2
Jack Pink                           18
Clara Pink                         16

If these folks are related to Shadrack Felder, it appears that Mr. Felder would have many survivors and those survivors may have descendants that might be interested in his story.

The following persons that provided “Testimony on the Alleged Election Outrages in Texas” in August 1887 were indexed by Congressional Proquest as witnesses in order of appearance. I hope this information is helpful to Washington County researchers.  The testimony includes many personal details about these individuals.  Even though the subject of the report is a very sensitive subject, the genealogical facts that it contains may open the door to reconciliation and reunion with the ancestors and the descendants of everyone involved in the case.

Certainly we can look at the facts of this case and realize that the politicians of the 21st century are “trustworthy, loyal, courteous and kind” when compared to Texas politicians of the 19th century.


BOOKER, Marshal, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 4.

SPANN, C. P., former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 7.

JONES, T. M., teacher and election official, Brenham, Texas, p. 14.

NICHOLSON, J. M., planter and election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 22.

PENNINGTON, Lewis P., former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 31.

KINLAW, Felix, former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 39.

HAYS, Andy, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 47.

SHAW, William M., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 50.

BROWN, E. B., former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 56.

MAYO, G. A., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 63.

WILLIAMS, W. L., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 66.

SCOTT, A. G., minister, Washington County, Texas, p. 69, 109.

BUSTER, W. S., resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 77, 607.

BROWN, G. W., Republican candidate for County commissioner, Washington County, Texas, p. 86, 108.

NEWMAN, Frank M., Democratic voter, Washington County, Texas, p. 90, 97, 610.

BAUER, Charles, former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 100, 627.

POTTER, O. B., resident, Brenham, Texas; native of Ohio, p. 110, 612.

BLOUNT, W. H., farmer, Washington County, Texas; former candidate for Texas legislature, p. 126.

HOFFMAN, Joseph, assessor, Washington County, Texas, p. 130, 144, 615.

HACKWORTH, William W., resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 143.

HACKWORTH, Riggs P., justice of peace, Brenham, Texas, p. 145, 190, 608.

FRICKE, Paul, former candidate for sheriff, Washington County, Texas, p. 156,621.

JODON, Florent D., attorney, Brenham, Texas, p. 167, 635, 681.

SCHUTZE, Carl, attorney and journalist, Brenham, Texas; editor, Texas Staats Zeitung, p. 195.

HACKWORTH Stephen A., presiding judge, Washington County, Texas, p. 215, 658.

KIRK, Lafayette, judge, Washington County, Texas, p. 246.

CAWSE, William, former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 303.

WRIGHT, Robert, former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 310.

VERNON, John A., justice of peace, Washington County, Texas, p. 317, 604.

AWBREY, Benjamin Y., former election official, Washington County, Texas, p. 329.

IRELAND, John, Governor, Texas, p. 335.

ROBERTS, J. H., secretary, citizens group opposed to Republicans, Washington County, Texas, p. 348.

LEWIS, Hugh M., County clerk, Washington County, Texas, p. 362.

MULLER. Henry bookstore proprietor; editor. Texas Volksbote. p. 380.657.

SEARCY, W. W., attorney; chairman, Washington County Democratic Executive Committee, p. 391.

ENGELKE, F. A., president, First National Bank, Brenham, Texas, p. 402.

REICHARDT, E., proprietor, furniture store, Brenham, Texas, p. 405.

HAYNES, Harry, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 409.

FISCHER, Frederick, farmer and butcher, Brenham, Texas, p. 427.

PERRY, William, superintendent, cotton press, Brenham, Texas, p. 433.

ELDRIDGE, Boling, resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 440.

FISHER, Hermann, merchant and saloon proprietor, Brenham, Texas, p. 447.

TRISTRAM, Joseph, druggist, Brenham, Texas, p. 455.

HOFFMAN, Rinehardt, merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 465.

LEHMANN, Bernhardt, saloon proprietor, Brenham, Texas, p. 468.

CURRY, E. P., attorney, Brenham, Texas; former People's Party candidate for magistrate, p. 471.

HODDE, Henry, merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 486.

THOMPSON, William, cotton dealer, Brenham, Texas, p. 489, 555.

HOPKINS, Gus, cartman, Brenham, Texas, p. 492.

HUNT, Algie, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 499.

LEVIN, John, editor and publisher, Brenham Banner, p. 502

MOORE, James L., merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 506.

ROBERTSON, B. F., planter, Washington County, Texas, p. 528.

ROUSE, E., mechanic, Brenham, Texas, p. 541.

WESSON, J. M., attorney; captain, militia, Grimes County, Texas, p. 545.

ROGERS, B. S., County attorney, Washington County, Texas, p. 548.

BRYAN, Lewis R., attorney, Brenham, Texas, p. 558.

GIDDINGS, De Witt C., former U.S. Representative, Texas, p. 582.

DEVER, N. E., sheriff, Washington County, Texas, p. 623.

SLATER, James E., telegraph operator, Brenham, Texas, p. 628,657.

HART, D. H., Clerk, Federal District and Federal Circuit Courts, Western Texas, p. 641.

DURFEE, Edward D., Railroad agent, Burton, Texas, p. 649.

WILSON, Robert, resident, Washington County, Texas, p. 651.

TOLAND, Elijah J resident, Washington County, Texas, p. 658.

MOORE, Robert J., member, Texas legislature, p. 668.

SWEARINGEN, J. T., p. 687.

To learn more about reasons for the congressional hearing on the “Alleged Election Outrages in Texas,” I recommend that you read the full text of the petition:


February 4, 1889.—Ordered to lie on the table and be printed.


Mr. Evarts, from the Committee on Privileges and Elections, sub-
[To accompany Senate resolutions of January 26, 1887, and February 2d, 1888.]

The Committee on Privileges and Elections respectfully reports that it has inquired into the circumstances and events referred to in the resolutions of the Senate passed January 26, 1887, and presents to the Senate the testimony taken before the committee and the conclusions upon such testimony to which it has come. The resolutions referred to the committee are as follows:

Whereas Stephen A. Hackworth, a native citizen of the United States and of the State of Texas ; James L. Moore, a native of Alabama, and now for twenty years a citizen of Texas; and Carl Schutze, a native of Germany, for thirty years a resident of the United States and now a naturalized citizen thereof, have presented their petition to the Senate, wherein they allege that they have been driven from their homes in Washington County, Texas, and compelled to abandon their property at a great sacrifice, and that armed and lawless bands of ruffians have taken possession of and destroyed certain ballot-boxes in said county at a late election therein for county officers and member of Congress, and have murdered three citizens of said county, and overthrown republican government therein, and committed other outrages and crimes, all of which have been done in order that the majority of the voters therein may be deprived of their lawful and constitutional right of suffrage, and that the minority may unlawfully usurp and exercise control in said county, and that the constituted authorities of said county and State refuse all remedy for said outrages and crimes: 

Be it Resolved, That the Committee on Privileges and Elections be, and it is hereby, instructed to inquire into all the circumstances of, and connected with, the said alleged events, and that it report as soon as may be; and that said committee have power to send for persons and papers, to employ a stenographer, and to act by any subcommittee, and that any such subcommittee shall, for the purposes of such investigation, be a committee of the Senate to all intents and purposes. Resolved, That the necessary expenses of said committee in said investigation be paid out of the appropriation for the miscellaneous items of the contingent fund of the Senate, upon vouchers to be approved by the chairman thereof.

The petition to Congress upon which the resolutions of the Senate were based states with perspicuity and conciseness the history of the transactions in Washington County, Tex., out of which the grievances of which the petitioners complain arose, and which constitute the public grounds upon which their appeal is made to Congress to investigate these transactions, and take such action as in its wisdom may seem appropriate to its jurisdiction and duty in the premises.



The petition reads as follows:


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States :
Your petitioners, Stephen A. Hackworth, James L. Moore, and Carl Schutze, respectfully state—
That they are citizens of Brenham, Washington County, Texas, but that they are now refugees from their homes in consequence of political persecutions.
That they are law-abiding citizens and are not charged with the commission of any crime whatever against the laws of said State, and they possess the confidence and esteem of all law-abiding citizens who know them.

That, having in vain appealed for protection for their lives and property and for the security and property of their families to the local and State authorities of said county and State, they have now no other recourse except to appeal to yon in the earnest hope that there may somewhere exist sufficient power to protect a citizen of the United States in his own country.
Your petitioner, Stephen A. Hackworth, is a native-born citizen of said Washington County, Texas; has resided a greater part of his life in said city of Brenham ; is now forty-seven years of age; is by occupation a dealer in real estate ; and from 1870 to 1882 held several civil positions in said county; owned real citato and personal property in said city of Brenham to the value of $4,000; was comfortably situated, the income from his business securing an assured support for himself and family.

Your petitioner, James L. Moore, is a native of the State of Alabama, but has been a citizen of said Washington County, Tex., since 1866; is now forty-five years of age, and by occupation a merchant ; and from 1876 to 1882, held the office of district clerk, and from 1882 to 1884 held the office of sheriff of said county; owned real and personal property in said city of Brenham to the value of $6,000 ; was comfortably situated and earning a comfortable living for himself and family.
Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was born in Germany, but was many years ago naturalized, and has resided in the United States during the past thirty years, and has been a citizen of said Washington County since 1871; is now thirty-five years of age and un-married ; is by profession a lawyer, and from 1877 to 1880 hold the office of district attorney of said county and State; was, until recently, editor of a German Republican newspaper, published at the said city of Brenham, known as the Staats Zeitung ; was comfortably situated, owning personal property to the value of $3,000 ; the income from his profession and paper earning him a competent support.

Your petitioners are white citizens of the United States, and dared to believe and maintain the right to be Republicans in politics. For this, their only crime, your petitioners are now exiles from their homes, having been compelled to leave under serious threats of assassination, and abandon their property or accept for it such prices as were proffered them.

Your petitioner, S. A. Hackworth, was obliged to sell his homestead for $1,150, being less than one-half its real value. Your petitioner, James L. Moore, was obliged to sell his homestead for $2,000, being less than one-half its real value.

Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was compelled to remove his paper to Galveston, Tex., thereby destroying its patronage and support, and preventing him from obtaining even one-tenth of its real value.

Your petitioners would further state, that at an election held on the 2d day of November last, for the election of county and State officers and member of Congress from the ninth Congressional district of Texas (of which said Congressional district said Washington county forms a part), a perfect reign of terror existed in said county caused by armed bands of white ruffians, who, by violence and by the destruction of ballot-boxes at Graball, Flewellens, and Lott's Store election precincts, prevented the free and fair expression of suffrage by the citizens of said county, whereby men in whose interest these crimes were committed were declared elected who were not in fact elected, and by the most shameless and unblushing frauds the election was made a farce. That every effort made by your petitioners and by other peaceable, law-abiding citizens to obtain lawful and peaceable redress for wrongs, and security for their lives and property, by appeal to the local and State authorities of said county and State, has been prevented by the wanton and cruel murder of important witnesses, and by the further fact that a body of State troops, ostensibly ordered to said county by the State authorities to preserve law and order, in fact acted in open concert with the lawless men who had committed the election outrages, and were then actually engaged in terrorizing the county preparatory to the commission of other outrages, afterwards perpetrated by them.

Your petitioners further state that, since the said 2d day of November last, no protection has existed in said county for the lives and property of citizens who are Republicans in politics; that one-half or more of the white citizens of said county are Republicans in politics, and, together with the colored citizens who are Republicans, have at least 2,000 majority votes over and above the citizens of said county who are Democrats in politics, and also own more than one-half of the real estate and personal property of said county; that said citizens are peaceable and law-abiding, and have never resorted to unlawful acts or measures to secure political ascendancy or to re dress their many grievances; that if said citizens should collect in sufficient numbers to secure protection to the lives of proscribed Republicans, such an assemblage would be declared to be a "negro insurrection " by the civil authorities, and would furnish a desirable pretext to said civil authorities and their armed bands of ruffians to call for and obtain from the State authorities sufficient re-enforcement of State troops to suppress the so-called "negro insurrection."

Your petitioners further declare that in pursuance of such repressive policy, and to prevent Republicans from securing their political rights and privileges in said county, Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones, three colored Republicans, were arrested upon pretended and malicious charges of crime, and, while in the custody of the civil authorities of said county, were, on the 2d day of December ultimo, surrendered by said civil authorities into the hands of large numbers of armed and disguised men—known as Ku-Klux—who wantonly and cruelly hung them to death; that this outrage was committed while the friends of these men were preparing to have their cases fully heard and investigated by habeas corpus proceedings, and the civil authorities of said county, together with their leading political friends, well knowing that reasonable and adequate evidence would be obtained at such trial which would expose and make public their political crimes and outrages, ordered and instigated, as your petitioners verily believe, the death of said Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones; that John Ireland, governor of said State, has failed and refused to make any effort whatever to have arrested and brought to trial the lawless men who committed this outrage, although the facts were made known to him and he was earnestly requested to take prompt action therein.

And your petitioners further declare that prompt action upon the part of the civil authorities of said county and State, together with the earnest protest of Democratic political leaders of said county and State, against the lawless acts of said bands of armed ruffians would have, at any time since the said 2d day of November last, restored the supremacy of law and order and secured ample protection to the lives and property of all citizens of said county and State; but, as already stated, no effort or protest has been made by either the said civil authorities or the leading Democratic politicians to prevent the commission of such crimes by said lawless bands of armed ruffians. 

And your petitioners further declare that there exists no republican government in said Washington County ; that large numbers of citizens who are Republicans in politics have been terrorized and compelled to leave said county, through open threats of runnier and violence made by said lawless bands of armed ruffians, who are acting under orders of said civil authorities and loading Democratic politicians of said county and State ; that the lives and property of other citizens of said county, who are unable and unwilling to leave said county, are now in great peril, and in their behalf your petitioners humbly and earnestly appeal to you for their relief and protection. 

And your petitioners further declare that the commission of such crimes and outrages is resorted to in other sections of said State, to prevent citizens who are Republicans in politics from making organized efforts to secure representation in the local and State and Federal governments, and the dangers attending such organized efforts is so well known and understood that in many sections of said State Republicans have disbanded their political organizations and abandoned all hope of securing such representation.

And your petitioners further state that, on the 4th day of December ultimo they were informed by a prominent member of the Democratic executive committee of said county, who was acting for, and in behalf, and with the full knowledge and consent of said Democratic executive committee and civil authorities, that if they would leave the county at once their lives would be spared, but if they refused to do so their lives would be sacrificed; and your petitioners being without hope, worn out by persecutions, and at the complete mercy of armed ruffians who were then collecting and preparing to murder them, and well knowing that their lives would be sacrificed unless they did not comply with the demands of leading Democrats, had thus to abandon their homes and become exiles.

And your petitioner Stephen A. Hackworth was, on the 16th day of December ultimo, escorted to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway depot at said city of Brenham by members of the Democratic executive committee of said county, also by a number of friends who went with him to protect him from being murdered by armed bands of ruffians who had collected in said city of Brenham, on the 5th and 6th of December ultimo, for the purpose of murdering him if he refused to obey the demands of the said Democratic executive committee requiring him to leave said county, and as the train bore him away from the depot said lawless bands of armed ruffians rent the air with several prolonged and exultant yells of triumph.

And your petitioner S. A. Hackworth further states that no time was given him to remove his family from said city of Brenham ; and knowing it to be unsafe for him to remain in Texas, he came to Washington, D. C., where he is now temporarily residing.

Your petitioner James L. Moore was permitted to remain until the 12th of December ultimo, to enable him to dispose of his property, and on said date he, with his family, left Brenham for Los Angeles, Cal., where he and his family now reside.

Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was compelled to leave Brenham on said 6th of December ultimo, but returned to Brenham on the 13th of December ultimo, for the purpose of removing his paper, the Staats Zeitung, to Galveston, Tex., and on said 13th day of December was, while leaving the depot at Brenham for Galveston, attacked by armed ruffians, who fired two pistol shots, and also threw a heavy stone at him through the car window, but he escaped unhurt, and is now in Galveston, Tex.

And your petitioners further say that they are unable within the limits of this petition to state all the facts and set forth the long lists of cruel crimes committed upon helpless citizens of said county because they dared to exercise their political rights as Republicans to obtain representation in the local, Stare, and Federal governments of the country ; and your petitioners are prepared, and stand ready when called upon to do so, to establish by conclusive evidence the truth of all facts herein sot forth and submitted.

And your petitioners hereby respectfully submit all matters herein stated and complained of to your honorable body for your careful consideration, and such action as you may deem necessary to cure the evils herein stated, and thereby secure to all citizens of the United States their rights under a republican form of government in fact as well as in name. As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Stephen A. Hackworth.
James L. Moore.
Carl Schutze.

By the written authority and request of Messrs. James L. Moore and Carl Schutze, I have signed their names to the above and foregoing petition, this the 6th day of January, 1887.

[1] United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Privileges and Elections. Testimony on the alleged election outrages in Texas, book, 1889; Washington D.C.. ( accessed November 7, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Star of the Republic Museum.
[2] Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 1, Washington, Texas; Roll: 1331; Family History Film: 1255331; Page: 48D; Enumeration District: 141; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line].