Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Closing out 2013

To those already welcoming 2014, may you have a Happy New Year. For those still to celebrate this evening, may it be safe, festive and fun. See you in 2014.
Photo by Patrick Jones - National Botanic Garden, DC
Photo by Patrick Jones - National Botanic Garden, DC

Tennessee Supreme Court Decision in Rankin v State

It's amusing how one can find more information after stopping to look for it. I had ended my search for information on the US Supreme Court case Rankin vs State of Tennessee, but after running a simple search to make sure I had the right facts on Samuel E. Rankin, I turned up a Report of Cases Argued and Determined at the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1867 via Google Books (see source).

The full decision runs about 15 pages. I'm looking for a way to embed a PDF so I don't have to copy & paste huge images into a blog post.

It is useful to have the full picture, from the Circuit Court to Tennessee Supreme Court and on up to the US Supreme Court in this case. There's enough information for a book based on just this case & the incidents leading up to it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Supreme Court Case File of Rankin v State

Today I made a visit to the National Archives in DC to find and examine the case file in Rankin vs State of Tennessee (see the Timeline in case of Captain John Thornhill, posted on 3 November 2013). I am still amazed that one can go to the Archives and touch actual historical documents from over 140 years ago. Doing this brings my search for information on the case to a close. I plan to write an article on the case for the Tennessee Genealogical Society Magazine sometime in 2014, as this is useful history for other Jefferson County researchers.
The case was appealed to the US Supreme Court by Samuel E. Rankin (a bio on Rankin can be found here), who was courtmartialed then later charged and acquitted for the murder of Captain John Thornhill. The Supreme Court received the case in its December 1867 term (15 February 1868), and issued its ruling on 10 April 1871 as part of the December 1870 term.

The transcript of the case looks like it survived a fire. It consists of 84 pages handwritten on legal size paper. There are also a few other loose letters written by Samuel Rankin asking for a status update on the disposition of the case.
The transcript confirmed that my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Jones appeared as a witness for the state, and that he was compensated $17.20 for 10 days and 180 miles. Sarah Jane Thornhill Ryan, aunt to both John Thornhill and Joseph Thomas Jones, also appeared as a witness in the case.

There's a lot more in this file, and on the disposition of the case, which I'll cover in a subsequent post.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

From Kentucky to Texas

This week I have been writing about Robert Wheatley's Texas land grant and warranty deed. With this post I'll cover the family's journey with the family from Warren County, Kentucky to Mullin, Mills County, Texas through available census records. Unless additional information becomes available on Robert, this post will also bring my research on him to a close.

Kentucky Years
I previously wrote about Robert Wheatley in my August 2012 post titled "Thomas Whitley and some on his parents." Robert Jackson Wheatley was born on 28 June 1838 in Warren County, Kentucky, and was the fourth child of Richard Wheatley and Nancy Philips. Robert's birth date is sourced from his gravestone in Mills County, Texas.

In the 1850 US Census, Robert appears in the household of Richard and Nancy Wheatley.
Robert married Melissa Catherine Grinstead on 14 September 1860 in Warren County. In the 1860 US Census, taken on 1 August 1860, Robert was living as a farm hand in the household of William McMurry in Warren County. The Grinstead family were neighbors of the Wheatley family. Melissa is living next door to Richard & Nancy Wheatley in the 1860 US Census.
Robert and Melissa had at least one child, my 2nd-great-grandfather, Thomas Whitley. He was born on 5 August 1861. Melissa died sometime prior to 1864. In the 1870 Census, Robert and Thomas were living in the household of Richard Wheatley in Smiths Grove, Warren County, Kentucky.

Robert married his second wife, Martha T. Hays, on 21 March 1872 in Warren County. The family appears in Smiths Grove, Warren County in the 1880 US Census. Robert and Martha had at least three children, two daughters survived past childhood: Laverna V. Wheatley and Donna Mary Wheatley.

The Move to Texas
Based on the Texas land grant, we know Robert & family had arrived in Mills County, Texas by December 1888. Their location between the years 1880 and 1888 are currently unknown. I've included a snapshot from Google Maps below to show one potential route of their journey from Smiths Grove, Warren County, Kentucky to Mullin, Mills County, Texas.
The journey likely took the family through Tennessee and Arkansas to Texas, but it is also possible they traveled through Missouri and Oklahoma to Texas.

By 1900, Robert & family are listed in the US Census in Mills County, Texas.
In the 1910 US Census, Robert's daughter Laverna is listed in the household as married to Joseph B. Renfro (Mills County Commissioner).
Martha Hays Wheatley died on 30 August 1916. By the 1920 US Census, Robert had retired from farming, and was now living in the household of Joseph and Laverna Renfro.

Robert Jackson Wheatley died on 12 January 1922 in Mullin, Mills County, Texas. He is buried in Oakview Cemetery. A photo from Findgrave showing his gravestone is below.
Source: Findagrave.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

Texas Land Grant for Robert Jackson Wheatley, Part 3

Yesterday, I posted the first two parts of the Texas Land Grant filed by my 3rd-great-grandfather Robert Jackson Wheatley (see Part 1 and Part 2). FamilySearch has digital copies of the Texas, Mills County Clerk Records from 1841 to 1985. In the Land Records for Mills County, I was able to find the warranty deed corresponding to the land grant & referencing Robert's preemption survey. A copy of the final pages from the land grant showing a survey of the land from 21 December 1892, along with the warranty deed from 1893.
Warranty Deed from 15 May 1893
Source: FamilySearch, Texas, Mills County Land Records

Friday Photo - 4 Years Ago

The photo below is from four years ago, 27 December 2009, when the 14-0 Colts played the Jets. Coach Caldwell pulled the starters in the 3rd Quarter when the Colts were up 5, the Jets came back and won the game. The Colts went on to make it to the Super Bowl that season, losing to the New Orleans Saints, 31-17.
Photo by Patrick Jones - 27 Dec 2009, Colts v Jets

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Texas Land Grant for Robert Jackson Wheatley, Part 2

Continuing with the remainder of Robert Jackson Wheatley's Texas Land Grant (see Part 1 and original PDF located at http://www.glo.texas.gov/ncu/SCANDOCS/archives_webfiles/arcmaps/webfiles/landgrants/PDFs/5/4/8/548124.pdf). This part includes the field notes from 1890 and the proof of settlement under the Homestead Act from 17 June 1892.
Source: Texas General Land Office, File 2034

Texas Land Grant for Robert Jackson Wheatley, Part 1

In August 2012 I wrote about the parents of my 2nd-great-grandfather, Thomas Whitley. I had meant to return to the story of Robert Jackson Wheatley, my 3rd-great-grandfather. I knew he had left Warren County, Kentucky for Mills County, Texas, sometime after the 1880 US Census and before the 1900 US Census. Today I found Robert's Texas Land Grant. I'm posting the document in two parts.

The land grant file (source: Texas General Land Office website) states that on 8 December 1888, the family occupied 160 acres of public land 8 miles northwest of Goldthwaite, Mills County, Texas, along Browns Creek (a tributary of the Pecan Bayou). The land was part of the Travis Preemption, and includes a field survey conducted on the land in May 1889. The document is a great find and I am thankful that it has been scanned and made freely available online.
Source: Texas General Land Office

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morn

Another image from the Library of Congress Digital Collection, titled "Christmas Morn". Ours is not snow-filled today. Hope yours is a happy one.
Source: Library of Congress Digital Collection

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

This is from the Library of Congress Digital Collection, titled "Christmas Eve". Have a Merry Christmas!
Source: Library of Congress Digital Collection

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Looking Back on 2013, Looking Ahead

I had intended this to be a "Travel Tuesday" post, but as I write this I am preparing for another set of meetings away from home. 2013 has been a banner year, a milestone in miles flown, cities visited, experiences collected and memories made. I started the year with a late January visit to Los Angeles, where I'll be concluding my travel for 2013.

In between visits to LA, I rode a train to New Jersey, made my first visits to Dubai and Ethiopia, attended Rootstech, took the family to the beach, made my first trip to Beijing and Geneva, another set of meetings in LA, Durban, a layover in Dubai, a visit to South Carolina, attended my college athletic Hall of Fame induction in Indiana, transited Amsterdam, and had meetings Bali and Buenos Aires. Whew! 2014 is shaping up to be a major year as well, with meetings already scheduled in LA, Singapore, London, LA, and perhaps my first visits to Moscow and Istanbul, along with certain surprises and locations to be determined.

2013 marked the loss of loved ones - my Gumpy and our cat Boomer. They're both remembered and continue to be in our lives.

I am very lucky to do what I do, often surrounded by wonderful colleagues, fascinating people, in amazing places. It's not all easy either, to do this, there are trade offs of lost family time and sleep, missed experiences in exchange for others. Reentry into "normal life" can be difficult, only to be interrupted by more travel. I wouldn't trade this though.

I look ahead to the coming year excited about the possibilities.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Photo - The Bridge

Photo by Patrick Jones - Seoul, Oct 2009
The photo above is a bridge over the Cheonggyecheon stream & river walk in downtown Seoul, Republic of Korea. I took this photo in October 2009 during an evening break from meetings. The photo has appeared in some of my presentations this year to depict how our teams function as a bridge between different communities, connecting people of diverse stakeholder groups. This also shows how cities can preserve their environment and make use of a space that contributes to a healthy, sustainable ecosystem.

If you're interested in seeing what the river walk looks like, see this video of a morning walk.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Marriage License for Joseph Jones & Amanda Irwin

Last November I wrote a post on the wives of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Thomas Jones. In that post, I listed Joseph's second marriage to Amanda L. Cooper Irwin. From the FamilySearch database, Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950, is a copy of the marriage license for Joseph and Amanda, signed 18 August 1891 in Blount County, Tennessee.
Source: FamilySearch [link]
The next image in the set included a more decorative version of the marriage license, see below:
Their marriage did not last, and the divorce was finalized on 20 April 1897.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A reminder to back up your files

Yesterday's winter storm proved more than the usual annoyance, as it knocked out our power and led to a morning basement flood. Fortunately we were ok, various stacks of genealogy files were placed on shelves away from the water, no electronics were damaged (the house still stands), but this served as a reminder to properly save important files and records.

One of my tasks during the Christmas break will be to scan & file away more documents. The opportunity to thoroughly clean out the basement is a blessing too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Working Backward Through the Records

Last Friday, working backward through the Mexican Civil Registration files for Hermosillo, Sonora, I stumbled across a death record for my 2nd-great-grandfather, Manuel Portillo. For the longest time, I had his name but little other records to go on. Earlier in November I found the baptism record for my great-grandmother, Manuela Portillo, showing Manuel Portillo and Teresa Diaz as parents.

Other than these records, and a potential find in the 1899 Tucson City Directory, I had little to go on for Manuel. But working backward through 1841 images in the Defunciones 1900-1916 (death records) for Hermosillo proved to be quite useful.

On 6 October 1903, Manuel and Teresa lost a 10 month old son, Ramon Portillo, in Hermosillo. I knew from the 1940 US Census that Teresa had 10 children, so this was the first record of a child of theirs who did not make the journey to America.
Source: FamilySearch, Defunciones, 1900-1916, image 360 of 1841
Another important find has provided me with the names of my 3rd & 4th-great-grandmothers - the death record for Manuel Portillo's mother Maria Bernal lists her mother's name as Manuela Calles. Maria passed on 18 April 1903. She was born about 1841. From my rough translation of Maria's death record, permission was granted to place her in the family vault of Manuel Flores in Hermosillo. There's more work to be done to understand how the Portillo, Bernal, Calles and Flores families are connected, but it's great to have these additional names as I explore this side of the tree.
Source: FamilySearch, Defunciones, 1900-1916, image 326 of 1841
One more image for this post, is from the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I don't know if this is what the family vault looks like in Hermosillo. This is helping me picture a final resting place for Manuel and Maria.
Photo by Patrick Jones, Buenos Aires, AR