Sunday, October 23, 2011

Looking for Lovelesses

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Not too long ago, I blogged about the Lovelace family reunion that's been going on in my family for 42 years. This weekend, I received this interesting photo of a Loveless family reunion from Cindy in California. She thought perhaps someone out there who stumbles across my blog may be able to put names to some of the people who have not yet been identified.

This reunion is thought to have taken place in 1916 in Indiana.

Cindy traces her family back to John Loveless who, from the info she has, was born in 1751 in New York who was born to George Lovelace from England. John married Rachel Van Hook and their family migrated to Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

If you recognize anyone in the photo, please let me know and I’ll pass the info along to Cindy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hanging with the Ghosts in Denmark

Last weekend I was in Amsterdam. This weekend I was in Denmark.

Denmark, Tennessee that is. Denmark is in Madison County which is just North of Haywood County.

I didn’t know a lot about Denmark but I have come to find out it’s a historically significant small town that is very active in preserving the history of West Tennessee through the efforts of The Big Black Creek Historical Association which also has a really great Web site.

In 2007 the organization began work to restore the Denmark Presbyterian Church and they are also hard at work restoring several cemeteries and historic homes.

We were in Denmark to check out their “cemetery walk.” This event, which seems to be timed pretty close to Halloween, features people who were buried in the cemetery popping up long enough to tell some interesting facts about their lives or the lives of the people in the area in the past.

Many times I have stood at the grave of someone buried more than 100 years ago and wished they could dig out and share a few details about their lives rather than having to spend hours going through old records.

Well at least for one afternoon in Denmark, that happens and I couldn't resist getting a few photos:

Also, before hanging out with the ghosts, we checked out the Denmark Presbyterian Church. A half million-dollar contract for restoration of the old church building was recently awarded and work to restore the church is about to begin. They have some great photos of the historic church on their Website and you can also check out their Facebook page.

Local historian, activist and president of the BBCHA, Bill King, who led the efforts involved in securing the funds to save the church has also published a really great book on the history of the area, “Big Black Creek, Volume 1” and he's currently working on the next volume. You can purchase his book here. If you are at all interested in the history of West Tennessee, this is a great book to have.

I bought one today and am about to head upstairs and start reading it. I hope none of those ghosts slipped into my car and are hiding under my bed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Protest in Amsterdam

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I was in Amsterdam this week and stumbled upon the “Occupy” protest in front of that city's Euronext stock exchange building. Regardless of a person’s political and social opinions, there is something exciting about being present at an event that you know will someday be part of history.

There was an intense energy among the crowd but it was honestly hard to tell who was protesting and who, like me, was observing the protesting. There were about 60 tents, several hundred people and hundreds of flyers, signs and handmade banners.

This being my first protest, I grabbed a few photos (you can click them if you want a larger view).

I can't remember protesting much other than my refusal to shop in a CVS drug store but watching all that protesting going down made me curious about my ancestors who may have been politically active so I looked back through my notes and ran across Bridgeman Joyner, my eighth great grandfather.

In October of 1677, Bridgeman and his brother Thomas Joyner Jr. were among 88 people from Isle of Wight County who signed a petition for the pardon of William West. I am not certain if they pitched tents or gathered anywhere to protest but Bridgeman was at least involved in a very interesting chapter in American History.

William West was a buddy of the Joyner brothers and they got very involved in trying to free him from prison.

William had been very active in Bacon's Rebellion, the uprising in 1676 in the Virginia Colony over the colonist’s anger at Virginia Governor William Berkeley for his friendly policies towards the Native Americans. The West family strongly opposed Governor Berkeley during Bacon's Rebellion, in part,  because Henry West, the family patriarch, had been murdered by Indians.

West led a rebel force to attack an English-loyal fort, but was captured on January 16, 1677. He was sentenced to death but before the verdict could be carried out, he escaped from prison. The petition for his reprieve was circulated in October of 1677.

Apparently their protest paid off and West was pardoned because in April 1708 he witnessed the will of Thomas Joyner Jr.

You can visit my Web site to find out more about the Joyner family.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Would You Like to Spend Eternity Being Mistaken for Your Husband’s Second Wife?

Headstone of B.F. and Mary Marbury in
the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County, TN
On my list of favorite headstones is one that can be found in the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County, TN. Until this week, I thought it was the headstone of my third great grandparents, Benjamin Franklin Marbury and his wife Margaret Yelverton.

The problem was, while working on the Yelverton line, I couldn’t get the birth date of Margaret or “Mary” as I assumed she must have been called, since that was written on the tombstone, to correspond with the dates on any of the U.S. censuses in which she was included. Also, on, the dates of 1847 – 1918 are used for Margaret on many other family trees.

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A section of the 1860 census which includes the Samuel Yelverton family.
A look at the census of 1860, shows Margaret Yelverton, the daughter of Samuel Yelverton is seven. That would mean the year of her birth was 1853, not 1847 which is written on the tombstone. That’s a pretty big mistake to make on either the census or the headstone.

I could find nothing else online or in any books to help me so I figured I was stuck.

Then, I remembered that about a year ago I visited with a cousin, Janet, who is also from the Marbury line. Janet had some of the research and notebooks from her late aunt, Alice Marbury Cobb who was into ancestry long before the internet made it a lot easier. Thankfully, I took photos of some of some of Aunt Alice’s notes and I still had them.

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From the notes of Alice Marbury Cobb
And there I found the solution to my problem. At some point, Aunt Alice figured it out and made a note in one of her notebooks. Maggie Yelverton was actually Benjamin’s first wife while the “Mary” with whom he is buried was his second wife.

Of course, this answer created even more questions so I tried sorting through the history a little more.

The Yelvertons

Maggie Yelverton was born in Haywood County, TN in 1853 to Sam Yelverton and Ann M. Forrest who I already knew really screw up my family tree by being first cousins.

Sam’s uncle and Ann’s father, Samuel Forrest, had moved to Haywood County, TN from Wayne County, NC and by 1850 was 55 and living there with his wife, Zilpha Sherrod Forrest who was 56, their daughter, Ann M. and their nephew Sam Yelverton.

Ten years later, in the 1860 census of Haywood County, Sam and Ann had married and had the first five of what would be a family of eleven children. Maggie, the second to oldest was seven at the time. The Yelverton’s were very successful farmers and Samuel listed the value of his real estate as $3,200 and property as $3,200. At this time, Sam Yelverton owned four slaves, two females who were age 15, one female who was eight and a little boy who was four.

The family’s farm was next to Ann’s parents (Sam’s maternal aunt and uncle AND in-laws) who listed the value of their personal property at $10,660 and had five houses for slaves so they were quite prosperous for the time and area of the country.

Only eight years later, on September 20, 1868, Maggie, then 15, married Benjamin Franklin Marbury in Haywood County.

The Marburys

The Marbury lineage decends back through the generations from Alfred the Great and a few of the kings and queens of Scotland and England to Francis Marbury who immigrated to Maryland from England about 1680.

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The people in these tintype photos, provided by Janet Marbury Lewis,
are unidentified but are thought to have been passed down from Robert Green Marbury.
I wonder if any of them could be Benjamin Franklin Marbury,
Maggie Yelverton or Mary Wilkins. 
Ben’s father, Robert Green Marbury had moved with his family as an infant from North Carolina, first to middle Tennessee, and then, in the 1810s to Haywood County. He became a well-respected minister in the Primitive Baptist Church and conducted hundreds of the marriages and funerals that took place in the area in the mid-1800s in Haywood County.

It appears Robert may have actually adopted Ben from a family member or took responsibility for him and his siblings when their parents could not. In a court document from November 5, 1860, Robert Marbury, who was 51, became the “sole guardian” of John L. Marbury (age 19) Robert Marbury (age 15), Ben F. Marbury (age 11), Joseph Marbury (age nine) and Rush W. Marbury (age six).

For some reason, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, another third great grandfather but on my paternal side, became the guardian of Pleasant H. Marbury (age 17) who was a brother of the other children.

Ben and Maggie Marbury

By the time of his marriage in 1868 to 15-year-old Maggie, Ben was 19.

While it would seem Ben was too young to fight in the Civil War which had just ended four years before his marriage, there was a B.F. Marbury who fought in the 11th regiment and a Benjamin Marbury who fought in the 16th regiment and both were from Tennessee so it's certain possible Ben was in the war at a very young age.

Ben and Maggie's first baby died just a week or so after birth.

After that, their family grew quickly and they added a new child almost every year. Wylie was born in 1871, Hardy (who would be the father of my great grandmother, Allie Marbury Brantley) in 1872, Rush in 1874, Robert in 1876, John in 1877, and Robert in 1879.

The family finally added a girl with the birth of Frances Catherine “Rosa” Marbury in 1884.

Unfortunately, that same year, whether of complications from childbirth or from a disease of some kind, Maggie died. She was only 31 and had given birth to eight children.

Ben married Mary Wilkins on March 4, 1884. She was a 34-year-old woman who lived with her parents and a house full of brothers and sisters in Haywood County, TN.

The marriage would be short-lived however as Ben himself died at some point in 1884. According to family stories, he was killed by a train while walking down tracks between Jones Station and Allen’s Station in Haywood Co., TN after having too much to drink.

What happened next? Did Mary continue to live on Ben's farm and raise his children? One could assume so since when she died in 1918 she was burried next to him.

There is certainly a lot more to research regarding this story but I do have one other photo that relates for now:

Photo from Betsy Sullivan Wadell

Allie Marbury Brantley with daughter, Virginia (my grandmother)
visiting Allie's aunt, Catherine Rosa Marbury Thomas, around 1936.
This photograph is of my grandmother Virginia Lovelace, who was Ben and Maggie’s great granddaughter, visiting her great aunt who was the last child of Ben and Maggie: Francis Catherine “Rosa” Marbury. My mother remembers her as being a large woman so I assume she is the older lady directly behind my grandmother. Aunt Rosa lived until 1956.

You can visit their pages on to find out more about the Marbury and Yelverton families.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

History of the Church in the Grove of Holly Trees

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Children of Holly Grove Baptist Church, early 1940s
I found this photo of a group of kids at Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County, TN in the early 1940s at my parents house a few weeks ago. It's really hard to identify people but I am pretty certain I spotted my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams (1915 - 1998), and her son, Jesse Earl Williams (1934 - 1997) in the upper left corner.

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Likely Elizabeth Williams and Jesse Earl Williams

My dad was born in 1939 so it's possible he was too young to be in the photo. If you see anyone you recognize, send an email and let me know and I'll note them here.

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Photo from Sandra Smith

The original Holly Grove School in the late 1940s
and the same spot today.

House in the distance of the old photo was the home of my
great grandparents, Bob and Zula Watridge Castellaw.
Holly Grove Baptist Church has a very interesting history and one that is very much part of my own personal genealogy.

On the second Sunday in October 1885, 38 people who were former members of Zion Baptist Church in Haywood County, TN met in the Holly Grove School building to start a church for people in that community.

The closest church previously, had been Zion Baptist Church and it was a number of miles away so it was decided a church in the area of what is now Poplar Corner and Dr. Hess Rd. would greatly serve that growing community.

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Thomas Jefferson Castellaw Jr. and Nancy Marianna John Castellaw

The land for the school in which the group met was donated around 1880 by my third great grandmother, Nancy Marianna Johnson Castellaw (1844 - 1921). She had married my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson "Tom" Castellaw, Jr. (1841 - 1879) shortly after the Civil War ended.

After donating the land and seeing the schoolhouse built, her daughter, Jennie Jacocks Castellaw (1866 - 1946), became the school's first teacher.

According to stories from the community, the one room school house had been built in a cluster of holly trees, so it was named the Holly Grove School. However, many of the members from Zion Baptist Church who built the school and then began the church were from Bertie County, NC and there had been a Holly Grove Baptist Church in that community.

George Williams
, the pastor of Zion and my third great grandfather had been a pastor of Holly Grove Baptist Church in North Carolina before he moved to Haywood County to be the pastor of Zion in 1838. Perhaps the name was a nod to the groups mutual heritage in North Carolina.

In the Baptist denomination, the church to which you are a member has your "letter of membership." The minutes of a Zion Baptist church business meeting held on September 27, 1885 included a list of the members of Zion Baptist Church who would be "moving their letter" to the new church which would meet at the Holly Grove School until they could find land and build a new church building.

Zion Baptist Church Minutes - September 27, 1885
Brother John Ambrose Thomas presented a list of names of the members of the church petitioning letters of dismissal for the puspose of organizing a church at Holly Grove, where upon, Brother Joshua Jones, in order to save the clerk from writing so many letters, moved that the names of the brethren and sisters who would be going into the organization of the church at Holly Grove be dropped from our roll book and the following brethern and sisters went into the organization. Adjourn.

Note: The clerk also saved time by only writing initials into the minutes rather than complete names. Thankfully, Martha Jones researched and completed the names for her book, "A Journey Into Yesteryears." Those in my ancestry line are bolded and noted."
James Williams Castellaw - brother of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, Jr.
John Ambrose Thomas
James Henderson Carvan
Joshua A. Jones
George W. Castellaw - brother of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, Jr.
Dr. George Rayner Thomas
Jeremiah Fletcher Castellaw - brother of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, Jr.
James Bembery Booth
Albert Cicero Booth
William "Will" E. Williams - brother of my second great grandfather, George Dempsey Williams
Media Mathias White
William Price Outlaw
Moses "Mose" E. Lockard
James William Castellaw Jr. - brother of my third great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, Jr.
Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Hughes
John George Livingood
Thomas Lemuel "Tommy" Rawls
Mary Caldonia White Carvin
Jane Woods Jones
Mary Aurelia Blaydes Castellaw - wife of Jeremiah Fletcher Castellaw
Mary Catherine Rawls Shaw
Nancy Marianna Johnson Castellaw - my third great grandmother
Catharine Pearcy Booth
Lucy Albina Castellaw - daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Fletcher
Lizze Holland
Mary Jennie Castellaw - daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Nancy M. Johnson Castellaw, my third great grandparents
Mary E. Watridge - Wife of Dorsey Watridge who was a brother to my ancestors James F. Watridge and Daniel W. Watridge
S. E. Hall
Alice Evelyn Castellaw - daughter of James W. Castellaw who was my third great grandfather's half brother
Rebecca "Reba" Manie Williams - sister of my third great grandfather, George Williams
Ada P. Booth Stewart
Elizabeth Thomas
Rebecca Caroline White
Amanda Crowder Williams - wife of Edward Williams who was a brother to my third great grandfather, George D. Williams
Catherine E. "Katie" Williams - sister of my third great grandfather, George D. Williams
Next to the school was a plot of land that was determined to be the perfect place for a church. It was donated for that purpose by Dorsey H. Watridge (1840 - 1890) who was the brother of two of my direct ancestors: my third great grandfather, Daniel W. Watridge (1835 - unknown) AND another third great grandfather, James F. Watridge (1823 - 1875).

Dorsey donated the land and was active in the church which met in the school house. He was ordained a deacon in May 1885.

Dorsey would never get to actually attend a service in the church for which he donated the land since he died of malaria two years before the church was completed.

In September 1890, Andrew Jackson Outlaw and Simeon Amherst Cobb were two of the Zion Church members who wrote the obituary for Dorsey Watridge who had been an important part of the early years of the church.
D. H. Watridge Obituary
Brother deacon D. H. Watridge died at his residence of malarial fever seven miles northeast of Brownsville on the 12th day of September 1890. He was born in Haywood County, TN on the 18th day of July 1840. He professed religion and was baptized into the fellowship of this church by the Rev. Josiah Daws in September, 1854. He was ordained a deacon of this church the first Sunday in May 1885. He was a devoted husband and affectionate and idolized father, a true friend and a good neighbor and citizen. He left a wife and seven children to mourn his loss.
He was buried in the Zion Baptist Church cemetery.

In 1892, the first church building where the members of Holly Grove Baptist Church was completed.

Another important part of the church property, the cemetery, was begun on February 29, 1900 when Jeremiah Fletcher Castellaw (1847 - 1915) donated the plot of land west of the church. Jeremiah was the brother of Tom Castellaw, referenced above. A while back, I wrote a blog entry about Jeremiah's move to Texas with his family and then their return to Haywood County.

According to local legend, the first person to be buried in the new cemetery was a black vagrant who had been found dead near the railroad tracks at Jones. Since he could not be identified, it was suggested that he be buried in the newly formed cemetery.

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Holly Grove Baptist Church in 2011.
In 1948, the old wood church was torn down and a brick building was built. In the years since, many additions and remodels have taken place and the church is still a significant part of the community. Now, 126 years after that first group began meeting in the school house in the grove of holly trees, many of their ancestors are still meeting there each Sunday for church.

You can visit my Web site, to find out more about the Castellaw, Williams, and Watridge families.

Sources: A Journey Into Yesteryears by Martha Jones, A History of Holly Grove Baptist Church and Holly Grove Baptist Church 125th Anniversary Program