Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Snubbed by the Royal Family

All this coverage for the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton got me curious about my Marbury ancestors who I knew had some “royal blood” in their ancestry line.

Could I actually be related to “Wilkate, their royal highnesses” somehow? Should I be flying to London for the wedding this week? Did my invitation get lost in the royal mail?

In case you were curious, I checked and you can still fly coach
to London this week for $871.60 but there were only three tickets left.

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l to r: Guy and Virginia Brantley Lovelace with son Bobby, Hardy Marbury, Cordelia
Brantley Jacocks, Betty Brantley Sullivan, Lena Booth Marbury, Willie and Allie Marbury Brantley
Photo taken in the mid 1930s.
My great grandmother, Allie Marbury (second from the end on the right), the mother of my mother’s mother (the girl holding the baby) was born, lived and died in Haywood County, TN as did her father, Hardy Joyner Marbury, and his father, Benjamin Franklin Marbury and his father, Robert Green Marbury. Counting my grandmother, that would be five generations who all lived and died there in Haywood County.

But where is the royal connection I am sure you are wondering?

Stay with me here. It can get a little confusing. I am not a professional genealogist so if you are using this to find a kidney donor, you need to look elsewhere.

Robert Green Marbury’s father was John Marbury whose father was Leonard Marbury whose father was Francis Marbury whose father was Leonard Marbury whose father was Frances Marbury whose father was also Francis Marbury (who first arrived in the new land) whose father was Euscbius Marbury whose mother was Elizabeth Cave whose father was Henry Cave whose mother was Margaret Throckmorton whose mother was Lady Vaux whose mother was Elizabeth Fitzhugh whose mother was Alice Neville whose father was Richard Neville whose mother was Joan de Beaufort whose father was John “of Gaunt” Beaufort, Duke of Lancaster.
l to r: King Edward III, John Beaufort, Katherine Swynford
Joan de Beaufort, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Charles
That makes John Beaufort my 21st great grandfather if I am counting right. 

He was the third surviving son of King Edward III.

The children from his first marriage included Kings Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. His other legitimate descendants included his daughters Queen Philippa of Portugal, wife of John I of Portugal and mother of King Edward of Portugal, and Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter, mother of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter.

The Duke met my 21st great grandmother Katherine Swynford and she became his mistress and had four children with him. Eventually, she was also appointed official governess to his two daughters by his first wife.

After the Duke’s second wife died, he and Katherine married in 1396 and the Beaufort children, three sons and a daughter, were legitimized by royal and papal decrees.

In addition to me, descendants of this marriage included Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and eventually Cardinal; Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, grandmother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III; John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, the great-grandfather of King Henry VII; and Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots, from whom are descended, beginning in 1437, all subsequent sovereigns of Scotland, and successively, from 1603 on, the sovereigns England, of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the United Kingdom to the present day.

Anya Seton's "Katherine" is a historical novel that tells the story of the love affair between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. In 2003, "Katherine" was ranked 95 in the BBC's Big Read survey of Britain's best-loved novels and is commonly regarded as a prime example of historical fiction.

So anyway, if you boil it down, Prince William and I are like 21st cousins, a million times removed…or something like that.
St. Paul's Cathedral
One other interesting note…John of Gaunt was buried beside his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster, in the nave of "old" St. Paul's Cathedral in an alabaster tomb and this is the site of the church where Cousin William's mother and father were married…the “new” St. Paul’s Cathedral (If you can call 300 years old, new).

Even though they are family, I am afraid I’ll have to miss the wedding although if the past few days is any indication, I am sure I will hear about it. I could always watch the royal wedding procession on Google earth, download a 3D App which features a 3D view of Westminster Abby, watch a streaming version of the wedding on YouTube, or preorder the $11.99 album on itunes that will feature all of the live music from the royal wedding, including performances by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, Band of Welsh Guards and the readings and vows in the ceremony. Really.

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Allie Marbury Brantley in the late 1970s
My own closest connection to royal family, Allie Marbury, died on Thursday, November 30, 1995 at the age of 97 and was buried next to her husband, William Day Brantley, at Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County, TN. You can read more about her and my Marbury ancestors on HaywoodCountyLine.com.

Is it my imagination or does she actually look a little like Queen Elizabeth?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lovelaces are P. to P. Winners in Tennessee

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It’s planting time here in Midtown Memphis. My farm is about 9’ x 3' and last weekend Alex, Olivia and I got the zinnias and the sunflowers planted. Anytime I work in the dirt, I start thinking about my grandparents, Guy and Virginia Lovelace. Back in the early 1940s, they actually won awards for their hard work on their farm as part of the Commercial Appeal’s Plant to Prosper program.

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In 1944, they won in the tenant division for Haywood County, TN as “the farm family making the best record in following a live-at-home program, diversified farming, soil conservation and farm and home improvement.”

It’s no secret cotton was king in the South as people moved into towns like those in Haywood County and began planting it as their only crop. But after the Civil War, farmers who had a lot of land and didn’t have a big family to work it usually engaged entire families of “tenant” farmers to live on and work their land.

As the agricultural economy plummeted in the early 1930s during the depression, tenant farmers were among those who suffered most.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act, which launched May 12, 1933 restricted agricultural production in the New Deal era by paying landowners not to plant part of their land and to kill off excess livestock. The purpose was to reduce crop surplus and raise the prices of crops that were harvested.

The landowners received compensation for what they would have normally gotten and they were legally required to pay the tenant farmers a portion of the money. Much of the time, however, the farmers kept the money and did not pass it down to the poor families who worked their land.

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Description of The Plant to Prosper program
taken from 1944 brochure.
The "Plant to Prosper" program was created by “The Commercial Appeal” to help small farmers improve their economic status and reward them for using the excess land in a positive way.

There were several years my grandparents won awards from the Plant to Prosper program.

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In 1946 they were the Tennessee tenant winners and were photographed for a newspaper article in their home.

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As part of their prize, they were invited to attend a luncheon at the Claridge and a dinner at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis. My mother, the little girl in the photo, remembers it was the first place she saw a cherry in the middle of a grapefruit.

When I was a kid living in the newly developed Parkway Village neighborhood of Memphis in the '60s, my grandfather would come and pick me up and take me downtown to feed the squirrels in the Court Square Park on Main Street or check out the lobby of the Peabody. So I know he didn’t need much to talk him into attending the award ceremony in Memphis back in 1944. If he had needed any persuading, Mr. Walter Durham, the director of the Plant to Prosper Bureau, was just the man to do it.

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“As a County Winner in the Plant to Prosper Contest, you are somebody in your community. The very fact that you won proves that you are a leader --- that you want to “go places” as a farmer…”
 I am pretty sure my grandfather enjoyed reading that.

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According to this article, my grandparents had recently purchased their farm from my grandfather’s brother, Homer Lovelace and it was 51.4 acres.

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“He diversified his crops so well that he had 14 different cash income sources. The family of four spent $150 for food while producing over $650 worth of food consumed on the farm. The Lovelace brothers are members of the Farm Bureau and their wives are Home demonstration Club members.” Update: My mom tells me this particular article was about something other than the Plan to Prosper prize but she isn't certain what.
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You can actually spot my grandparents and my mother in this photo from the front page of The Commercial Appeal from Wednesday, December 20, 1944. It’s interesting to me that these are farmers from all over the region yet they are dressed like executives at an insurance conference. Not a pair of Wranglers or a John Deere cap in site.

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They were on a winning streak and also in 1944 won two stars from the Farm Security Administration for 135 eggs per hen in a 12-month period.

To this day, when I crack open a cantaloupe or a watermelon and get a whiff of it’s smell or taste a fresh tomato, I think about my grandparents house and farm and all the great things they created there.

Eventually, they raised five children on their farm and in later years, my grandfather also became a carpenter and my grandmother tried her hand at being a beautician and finally, for many years, a teacher's aide in Brownsville, TN. But they always had freshly-grown vegetables and even sold or gave away the surplus.

Hopefully, a little of that has rubbed off on me and we'll have a bumper crop of zinnias this year.

For more about Guy and Virginia Lovelace, visit the Lovelace Family page on HaywoodCountyLine.com.

Friday, April 15, 2011

CVS Killed my Grandma

Midtowners make the best protest signs...although I doubt CVS hurt her grandma.
In 1912, a group of Memphis Methodists selected the corner of Cooper and Union Avenue to put their church. It took 11 years but a large sanctuary was finally completed in 1923.

In 2011, I watched it get knocked down to make room for a new CVS and it took about a week.

I thought “they” would save it so, while all the protests were going on, I barely paid attention.

Now, despite all the work to save the historic building, especially by Memphis Heritage, it’s gone.

Too late to save the historic church but I have made a personal decision to never shop at CVS. Ever. I am sure CVS is worried.

Another historic site that was under the threat of destruction several years ago and one that is connected to my fifth great grandparents, Thomas Hill and Mary Kerr Dougan, is Bell’s Mill in North Carolina.

Martha McFarland McGee Bell was a close friend of Mary Kerr Dougan and the whole Dougan family. When he died, Thomas was even buried in the same cemetery where Martha Bell would eventually be buried.

During the Revolution, Martha was the wife of Captain William Bell, who owned Bell’s Mill, located near Muddy Creek in Randolph County, NC.

Martha Bell eventually became a symbol in North Carolina for the unrecognized contributions of Colonial women during the American Revolution. While her actual role as a spy in the Revolutionary War has been debated, it has been proven that Bell’s Mill was the location of several battles with the British and Cornwallis himself included references in his notes and letters.

Martha Bell's Commemorative Marker
Bell even ended up with her own historic marker located in the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, along a walking path behind the Visitor Center.

One of Bell’s ancestors wrote a great blog entry explaining more about her:
"Among the other tales of Cornwallis's two-day occupation of Bell's Mill: Martha had hidden her cash under a rock and had to slip out to the yard to get it right from under the noses of the Redcoats camped there. When the Redcoats were trying to raid her cellar and steal her cider, Martha threw herself in front of the cellar door and dared them to come through her. When a soldier uttered something profane in her presence as he rode by on his horse, she wished for the horse to throw him and break his neck—and he did so only a few minutes later."
Photo by Gary Strader - A portion of the wall at Bell's Mill.
In 2005, cameraman Stewart Pittman blogged about Bell’s Mill, Martha and the efforts to keep it from ending up at the bottom of a man-made lake:
“While Captain Bell was off fighting redcoats, Martha ran the Mill. In 1781, after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Lord Cornwallis himself rendezvoused with troops there for a two-day rest. During their hostile bivouac, feisty Mary approached Cornwallis, and inquired as to whether he intended to burn her mill (as was his habit). Before he could answer, Martha proclaimed she would burn it first to deprive him the satisfaction! Quite ballsy for a woman in the 18th Century, but I suppose fierce patriotism knows no gender. Cornwallis left the mill unmolested that day. It stood for many more years before being lost to history. Only recently had it been uncovered, the hand-stacked stone wall remains unearthed by bulldozers clearing the way for the soon-to-be-formed Lake Randleman.”
The dam that created the lake that covers Bell's Mill.
Eventually, despite protests from local history buffs like Gary Strader, who originally drew attention to the Bell’s Mill discovery, the government won and Randleman Dam created a wall upstream from the site of Bell’s Mill that created Randleman Lake which is a water-source for many Piedmont region cities.

While it’s sad to see a historic site under water, it is nice that it’s not sitting underneath a horrible CVS Pharmacy.

You can find out more about the Dougan Family on my site here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yours in Peace, S.N. Brantley

Mule Day 2011
For some reason the Civil War keeps popping up everywhere I go. There were lots of people in Civil War garb at Mule Day last weekend, I stole (borrowed) a magazine called "Civil War Times" out of a coworkers in box (sorry Jen) and tonight I happened to stumble across the old Ken Burns documentary called The Civil War on PBS. It could be because this is the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the war. Apparently, 150 year celebrations are called "Sesquicentennials." I can’t even say that so I am very glad I am not in charge of the marketing plan.

Being from the south, I have many Civil War soldiers on every branch of family tree. And, since the war only started 150 years ago, I am only a few generations removed from them.

Henry Day Brantley in the late 1860s
A family of soldiers that I found particularly interesting were the brothers of my third great grandfather, Henry Day Brantley who was born in 1848. Three of Henry’s brothers were soldiers in the war and not all on the same side. Brother literally against brother.

Oldest brother Daniel enlisted in the Union army on January 3, 1863 and fought in the Company G Indiana 52nd Infantry. He died September 7, 1864 and is buried in Alexandria National Cemetery in Louisiana (section b, site 1027) Source

Julius enlisted in the Confederate army seven month after his older brother on July 10, 1863 and was a member of the 12th Tennessee Calvary, C.S.A. He died in service only five months later on Dec 18, 1863 in Ft. Pillow, TN. Source: "Coming Like Hell!" by Waldon Loving
Henry's brother Solomon Normon enlisted in the Confederate army on October 1, 1863 and was a member of the 7th Tennessee Calvary, Company L. which he referred to as, “Forrest’s command.” Solomon was discharged in Gainesville, Alabama in May 1865.

While researching these ancestors, I discovered the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaire.

In order to record Civil War veterans' experiences, in 1914, Dr. Gus Dyer, Tennessee State Archivist, developed a questionnaire and contacted all known living Tennessee Civil War veterans, asking them to return the questionnaires to Nashville.

My third great uncle Solomon received a survey and filled it out in 1922 when he was 75.

It gives a very interesting look both at the war and at his life near Haywood County, TN during that time.

Just a portion of Solomon’s comments illustrate the importance of honor that existed in the south in the years after the war as well as included the names of some well known soldiers.

“I will relate to you the battle of Tishamingo Creek, Miss. May 15 1864 as I saw it. Gen. Sturgess with 8,000 men black and white came down from Memphis, Tenn. to find Gen. Forrest and his men and when Sturgess found Forrest and got him stirred up we went on them like a nest of hornets. Forrest had 3000 men. Sturgess and his men had formed a line on top of a hill in the woods. Forrests men when given orders to charge had to cross a field in open view of the enemy and we kept going and the enemy was so excited that they was shooting too high and cannon balls and bombs was flying over our heads singing like bumble bees…

We captured all of the artillery medical wagons and ambulance and forage wagons. We run them all the way from the field of battle to Ripley, Miss. A distance of 60 miles…

I was detailed to guard a Federal doctor that we captured, but have forgotten his name. I know he had a very fine gold watch which I could have taken but wouldn't do it and if he is living I would like for him to write me. As I know he recollects the incident that happened to him later on. I never robbed a prisoner under no circumstances as I never thought it was right. Hoping this may be of some benefit to you in the near future, I beg to remain,

Sincerely yours in Peace,

S.N. Brantley
Halls, Tenn. Rt. 2 
P.S. Please publish this letter in the Lauderdale Co, Enterprise at Ripley, Tenn.”

It’s interesting that Solomon signed his letter, “yours in peace.”

I would love to find a photo of Solomon or his brothers. The children of Solomon and his wife, Nancy A. Abernathy were Augustus, Emmett A., Alsia, William L., Emma Clay, and Raymond. In the 1910 census, they were living in District 7, Lauderdale, TN.

In 1923, Solomon was still alive and age 75 when he filled out the Civil War Questionnaire.

I do not know when he died or what happened to his children but finding more about all three of these brothers is on my list.

You can read his answers to the Tennessee Civil War questionnaire here or find more about the Brantley family of Haywood County here.