Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding Castellaws and Cobbs at the National Archives

Pennsylvania Ave. Entrance to the National Archives

Since moving to Washington, D.C., a research trip to the National Archives has been at the top of my list of things I wanted to do. A recent Saturday morning with nothing planned gave me a great opportunity to check it out. I only had time that day for a few quick searches in their Civil War database but, in a matter of minutes, I found some family. As is usually the case when researching Haywood County, the Castellaws rose quickly to the surface.

The National Archives was formed in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt. Until then, individual agencies kept their own records and most were disorganized and had been damaged due to improper archiving.

The archives is housed in a beautiful building which I am fortunate enough to pass each day on my way to work.

In addition to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the bill of Rights, according to their website, there are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.

In other words, a lot for a fan of genealogy to explore.

I'm official.

For me, it was fun just going through the process of getting registered to be able to enter the research area. The National Archive has produced a great video about using the facility.

One of the first documents I found includes three individuals who each show up in my genealogy and represent both sides of my family. From the “Unfiled Papers and Slips Belonging in Confederate Compiled Service Records” I located archive # 2133276.

Unfiled Civil War Document #2133276
State of Tennessee
Haywood County
Personally appeared before me Thomas J. Castellaw and made oath in due form of law that George W. D. Castellaw is his son about 18 years old was taken from my house as a conscript by ? John H. Hicks men under guard by them and in a very few days was captured in Ripley Lauderdale County by Col. Wolfe command
Sworn to before this 10th March 1864 me John H. Cobb Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Haywood
Signature: Thomas J. Castellaw
John Hardy “Jacky” Cobb, the Justice of the Peace and one of the original settlers of Haywood Co., TN, wrote this legal document for Thomas Jefferson Castellaw.

Jacky and his wife, Harriet Castellaw Cobb are of particular interest to me because their son William Thomas Cobb is my maternal third great-grandfather while their daughter, Mourning Adeline Cobb Watridge is my paternal second great-grandmother. That makes them both my third and fourth great grandparents.

For the record:
Jacky and Harriet’s son, William Thomas Cobb, was the father of Mary Etta Cobb Brantley who was the mother of Willie Day Brantley who was the mother of Virginia Brantley Lovelace who was the mother of Shirley Lovelace Williams who is my mother.

Jacky and Harriet’s daughter Mourning Adeline Cobb Watridge was the mother of Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw who was the mother of Elizabeth Castellaw Williams who was the mother of Bob Williams who is my father.
My second great-grandfather, Henry Brantley described Jacky Cobb to his grandson, L.A. Cobb when he said:
"I remember your grandfather as being short in stature. His physique was of the roly-poly type. I remember him driving up to sales in a two wheel ox cart."

Cobb, Joe H. (1983). Nicholas Cobb Descendants, Neighbors and Relatives. Nashville: M. L. W. Publishing Company
T.J. Castellaw, who initiated the document, was the brother of Jacky’s wife, Harriett, and my third great-grandfather on the other side of my family.

Tom and Harriett Castellaw were the only two siblings of John Dawson and Zilpha Spruill Castellaw.

John Castellaw is said to have led many wagon trains from Bertie County, NC to Haywood County, TN in the early 1830s, finally settling in the area with his wife and adult children in 1834.

Thomas Jefferson Castellaw Jr. with wife Nancy Johnson
and his son Bob Castellaw with wife Zula Zera Watridge

Eventually, T. J. had seven children with two wives. His oldest son with his second wife was Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, Jr., my second great-grandfather.

The document I found at the National Archives shows that, T.J.’s son, George W. D. Castellaw, was 18 and at his parents home near the current location of Holly Grove Baptist Church when he was forced into Civil War service by “John Hick’s men.” In just a few days he was captured by "Col. Wolfe's command" and, I assume, became a prisoner of war.

The document doesn’t indicate if George had returned home at the time this document was written but I do know he had made it back to Haywood County by Nov. 25, 1866 when he married Mary Emily Watridge.

It does give me more to add to the list of things to find out.

At the end of his life, T.J. suffered from what some thought was Parkinson’s Disease and lived with George and Mary which is mentioned in his obit:
T.J. Castellaw Obituary
"Brother T.J. Castellaw. Sr. died the 23rd December 1878 at the residence of his son, G. W. Castellaw, near Jones Station. T. J. Castellaw Sr. died in the 71st year of his age. He was born in Bertie County, North Carolina on the 15th September 1808. He moved to Haywood County, Tennessee while young. He married Mary Cole at age of thirty-one years. He professed religion about 1839 and joined Zion. He was a sufferer for many years before died."
Although no headstone remains, it's likely T. J. was buried in the Castellaw Family Cemetery on Poplar Corner Rd.

I have one additional connection to George and Mary Castellaw.

The 1900 census indicates their nephew, 12-year-old Willie Williams, was living in their home.

Will Williams with wife Eva and a grandchild.

Willie grew up to be Will Williams, my paternal great-grandfather. However, no one in my family is aware of many details of Will’s childhood so the reasons he was not living with his parents is unknown.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

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