Monday, October 15, 2018

Will of Thomas Merritt, 1853

There are 201 pages of the probate file for Thomas Merritt of Williamson County, Tennessee on Ancestry. I have a Thomas Merritt in my tree, but it turns out this is not his probate. I'm posting this to include it in the Slave Name Roll Project to help the descendants of the people included. 

In the inventory documents, the names of the people enslaved by Thomas are given on at least three different documents. Some of the names differ on those documents than on his will. Four years separate the Will and the Inventory Appraisal. I've transcribed the Will below.

Releasing - Adaline, Mary, Fanny, Prior, Jane, Peter, Jerry and William, Lucy, Annis, Minerva, Jim, Milly, Joanna, Charles, Mary, Daphny, Bob, Moses, Silas, Lewis, George and Jacob.

from Tennessee, Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 at

In the name of God, Amen
I, Thomas Merritt of the County of Williamson, in the State of Tennessee, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and making void all other wills by me heretofore made.
Item 1st It is my will and desire that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid, so soon after my death as possible, out of any monies that may be on hand, or may first come into the hands of my executrix, hereafter named.
Item 2nd, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Rebecca Merritt, for and during her natural life, the tract of land on which I live, containing about one hundred and eighty five acres; also all my slaves with their increase, also all my stock of horses, cattle, hogs & sheep, household and kitchen furniture, farming utensils of every kind, together with every other article or piece? of property, debts due me, chosen? in action or money which may be on hand at my death.
Item 3rd It is my will, that at the death of my said wife Rebecca that my said tract of land, together with all other property that may remain except my slaves, be sold, the land on a credit of one and two years, the other property on a credit of twelve months, and the preceeds thereof with any money that may be on hand, together with my slaves aforesaid with their increase, be equally divided among my children, or the heirs of such as may die, together with the children of my deceased son John A. Merritt, To wit Nancy Moon, Jane Johnston, Susan Johnston & Narcissa Johnston, Amanda Moulton, Henry J. Merritt, Bennett B. Merritt, Harvey M Meritt, and Rebecca, Susan, Mary, Frances & Sarah Merritt daughters of said deceased son John A. Merritt, each of which said children of my said deceased son will be entitled to the one fifth of a share of my estate after each of my children accounting for advancementws made by me to wit - 
To Nancy Moon the sum of three hundred & fifty seven dollars for negro, Adaline valued at $300, feather bed & furniture $30 & bedstead & bureau $27.00

To Jane Johnston negro girl Mary valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Susan Johnston negro boy Prior valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Narcissa Johnston negro girl Fanny valued at $400.00, bed and furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $450.00
To Amanda Moulton negro girl Jane valued at $500.00, Boy Ellick valued at $400.00 bed & furniture $30.00 & Bureau $20.00 making in all $950.00
To my deceased son John A. Merritt, and with which his children will be chargeable, one negro boy named Peter valued at $300.00. One feather bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $320.00
To Bennett B. Merritt one negro boy named Jerry valued at $300.00 One horse at $40.00 one feather bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $360.00
And to Harvey M Merritt one negro boy named William valued at $700.00 One horse at $40.00 & one bed & furniture at $20.00 making in all $760.00
And to Henry J. Merritt one hundred acres of land valued at $800.00 & one bed & furniture $20.00 making in all $820.00
Item 4th I nominate and appoint my wife Rebecca Merritt executrix to this my last will & testament, and it is my will and desire that no security be required of her for the execution thereof. 
In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix my seal this 6th day of October 1853.
Thomas Merritt
Signed, sealed & published in our presence, and we have subscribed our names hereto in the presence of the testator, and at his request and in the presence of each other Oct. 6th, 1853
J. M. E. Stewart
M. L Andrews

In this inventory appraisal, dated August 18, 1857, the names and ages of the enslaved are listed as:  "Lucy age 70 years, Annis 49, Minerva 27, Jim 10, Milly 7, Joanna 5, Charles 3, Mary 18 months, Daphny 20, Adeline 14, Bob 65, Jerry 10, Louis 29, Lee 14, George 12 and Jacob 55 years old". Also "two of the negroes at the iron works who have not as yet come into my possession Moses about 60 years, and Silas about 25 years old."

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday's Faces from the Past - Miss Canon City, Colorado

Not her official title, of course, but there is no name on this photograph. The picture itself measures about 2" x 4", the brown decorative cardstock frame about 3-1/2" x 6". There were flaps that fold from top and bottom to close, but they've torn off. The picture comes out easily from corner tabs. The photographer's logo is "Affleck, Canon City, Colo." which was easy to trace. In 1930, James Melvin Affleck was a photographer who lived with his wife Grace in Lincoln Park, Fremont County, Colorado. 

The collection of old photos I have once belonged to someone in the Negley family - either my Great Grandma Sadie McGrath or her sister Alice Negley, or maybe their brothers, Bill and Cal, or even their parents Josiah & Sarah. Several pictures were identified as family, and others with names were friends who also lived around Harvard, Stockham or Eldorado, Nebraska. Miss Canon City doesn't seem to fit with any family in my tree. I would guess this pretty lady and/or her parents were friends of the Negley family and likely lived near them at some point in time.

My guess is she is in her twenties and the photo was taken in the 1920's putting her birth within a few years of 1900. She would be a generation younger than Sadie and Alice. Maybe she is a daughter of a close friend. 

I tried uploading the photo to Google Images hoping there was another one somewhere on the internet, but no match was found. So, now I'm hoping someone who reads this post recognizes this woman and will tell me about her. I'm interested in learning who she is, and will be glad to return this photo to her family. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Menke Brothers With US Patents

Two brothers of my Great Grandpa Albert Menke were issued US Patents for their inventions over 100 years ago. One of them I learned about from this clipping in the Columbus Journal, March 17, 1886.

Henry Menke Jr  was 24 years old when he filed an application dated November 14, 1885 for a Revolving Fan. Click on the link to see his full application with sketches which I found at Google Patents (even though his name was terribly transcribed).

United States Patent No. 337,600 issued March 9, 1886

"My invention relates to revolving fans adapted for use on dining or library tables, or at other places, for driving away flying insects, and for briskly circulating the air for cooling persons near the machine; and the invention has for its object to provide a simple, inexpensive, and effective devise of this character. "

A distant cousin had told me about George Edward Menke inventing a corn sheller he called the "Little GEM". That was not the patent I found for him online. His application was filed July 29, 1911 for a a railroad Loading Device. Again, you can find the application and sketches at that link. 

United States Patented No. 1,021,696 issued March 26, 1912 

"An object of the invention is to provide a loading device, particularly adaptable for use in connection with railway engines, to load the tenders thereof when the engines pass beneath the device. My invention embodies among other features, a structure which when used in connection with railway engines to load the tenders thereof, will be automatically operated by the engine when the same passes beneath the device to fill the tender of the engine with coal or other material, used to operate the engine."

How much of an impact either of these inventions had on their industries, I couldn't say without a lot of research which I don't have the time to do. But I might look closer now at old fans in antique stores. I do know that neither man became famous for their invention, nor got rich from it. Still, it's kind of cool. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Newspaper Clippings - Rock Creek, Nebraska, 1910

I've been living life lately and my blog has been somewhat of a low priority. Not apologizing, but I will try to keep posting things I have of family history value. Winter will be here before long and I'll be home more.

This little bit of news is from Rock Creek in Saunders County, Nebraska. Transcribed as it was, it looks like they tried to correct their error in the last few paragraphs and have some lines turned around. The death of Nancy Bennett is relevant to one of  my Smith families.  Nancy was the daughter of my Fourth Great Grandparents Jonathan and Rachel Smith.

From the Wahoo Democrat, Wahoo, Nebraska, January 27, 1910


Wm. Bennett, who at the present is making his home in Lincoln, where Mrs. Bennett is under the care of a physician, came up Tuesday to attend the funeral of his mother.
Word was received Monday of the death of Mrs. Nancy Bennett. Mrs. B. had made her home, since the death of her husband, with her daughter, Mrs. G. S. Lambert. Last fall she went to spend the winter with her daughter, Mrs. C. J. Haggerman, who lives in McCool, York county, where 

she passed away Monday, the 24th. The remains were brought here Tuesday. The funeral will be held at Mt. Zion church Wednesday and the remains laid to rest beside her departed husband.
Grant Mills, a brother of J. W. Mills, of this precinct, was found dead in a hotel in Omaha Friday morning.
George and Sadie Ethel of Green, were visiting friends and relatives on the Creek Monday and Tuesday.
D. L. Beaman arrived Thursday for an extended visit with his brothers, I. K. Beaman and J. O. Beaman.
O. L. Bennett and Walter Stewart attended the auction sale of hardware and implements at Valparaiso Saturday.
J. O. Beaman, J. H. Vanlandingham and Grace Beaman attended the funeral of Dr. R. D. Bush at Wahoo on Thursday.
Miss Ina Larson, teacher in district 40 spent Sunday with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Lamson, [sic] near Raymond.
Have you seen the comet?
J. J. Wondra transacted business at Wahoo Thursday.
Miss Grace Hodge of Stella, is visiting her friend, Miss Edna Nelson.
Mr. and Mrs. D. F. Bennett and daughter of Lincoln, were visiting on the 
Miss Ina Lamson teacher in district [sic] the creek Saturday and Sunday.
Inez and Eva Stewart helped Everett Beaman to celebrate his 11th birthday Tuesday evening.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

My DAR Line to Patriot John Adair Sr

As "Entry-taker" for the county of Sullivan in North Carolina, John Adair Sr, collected fees for land claims. In 1782, when the British were a serious threat, money was needed for ammunition and equipment for the local militia and John Adair Sr was approached for aid. His response is reported to have been, "I have no authority by law to make that disposition of this money. It belongs to the impoverished treasury of North Carolina, and I dare not appropriate a cent of it to any purpose. But, if the country is overrun by the British, liberty is gone. Let the money go too. Take it. If the enemy, by its use, is driven from the country, I trust that country to justify and vindicate my conduct. Take it." 1

Because of this act, the DAR recognizes John Adair Sr as a Patriot in the American Revolution. Several women through the years have proved their descendancy from him. But in early 2017, his line was marked as having problems on the DAR website, so proof of the connections of each generation through the line was required. Acceptable documents to do that are birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as pension applications, obituaries, cemetery records, Bible records, land records, published genealogies, etc.

My maternal Grandpa Stan Bell is the fourth Great Grandson of John Adair Sr. I collected all the necessary papers to prove my line of descent to John Adair Sr through his son John Adair Jr (who is also a Patriot) and submitted it to DAR. I was excited to see it was recently approved. Why file supplemental applications when I'm already a member of the DAR? For one reason, as a way of honoring my Grandparents and their heritage. For another, I enjoy the research involved to prove the lineage, and each line that is proved helps potential members join DAR. Any female direct (blood) descendant of a Patriot is eligible for membership in the DAR. It's less of a challenge to provide the required proof when a potential member can connect with a previously verified member somewhere along the line.

My lineage to John Adair Sr is outlined below. His line is not marked as having problems now. Documentation proving lineage to one of the descendants printed in bold below is all that would be required. For more information, go to

Cicero Bell (1869-1944) married first to Mittie Ramsey (1783-1900). They had two children who survived to adulthood - 
     Frank  (1892-1954) married Chloe Davis
     George Oren  (1894-1988) married Viola Noon 
Cicero married second to Allie Lucinda Spann (1871-1958) and they had four sons - 
     Benjamin Arthur  (1901-1983) married Marie Dieckman 
     Edward Francis  (1903-1985) married Thelma Rogers 
     James Stanley  (1907-1970) married Violet McGrath - my Grandparents
     Virgil Hartwell  (1909-2005) married Helen Curtin 

Martha Evelyn Bell (1842-1928) had three children - 
     John W (1874-1938)  married Elizabeth Gee Irwin 
     Laura  (1879-1973) married Carson Alcorn 

John Silas Bell (1814-1878) married to Rutha Simpson (1822-1907), they had seven children -    
     Martha Evelyn
     Ira Garner (1844-1935) married Martha E Simpson
     Mary Elizabeth (1846-1922) married John W Stringer 
     Elisha (1848-1933) married Rebecca A McFarland 
     Saphronia  (1850-by 1887) 
     Emily  (1854-after 1887) 
     Ursula Jane (1856-1890) married Henry Reynolds (at least one of her descendants has also proven this line in the DAR)

Mary "Polly" Adair (abt 1795-1873) married first to David Bell (1794-1818), they had four children -  
     Barbara (1813-1887) married Green Lee Alley 
     John Silas 
     Elizabeth (1816-1883) 
     William (1818-?) married Nancy McGowen
Mary married second to Garner Parmley (1801-1874), their children were -
     Miles R

John Adair Jr (1754-1843) his wife's name is presumed to be Mary, her last name is unknown. They had at least these three children - 
     Barbara Adair (1793-?) married Robert Parmley 
     John Adair III (1794-1878 ) married Sarah Cooper 
     Mary "Polly" 

John Adair Sr (1732-1827) married Eleanor Crawford (1734-1827)  in Ireland. The known children of John and Eleanor are 
     John Adair Jr 
     Mary (about 1750-?) married Robert Christian 

1 "The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century:...", by James Gettys McGready Ramsey, 1853


Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Transcription Challenge

Kennebec County, Maine Deed #00220532-2
On September 11, 1816, in Kennebec County, Maine Libbeus Simmons sold 80.5 acres to Robert H. Gardiner and Reuel Williams of Augusta for $165.85. Some key words aren't clear to me in that mess, so I'm not sure if this was paid in one lump sum or five equal payments. It states this was where Libbeus lived which I've always heard was "twenty five mile pond near Unity".  In 1816 Libbeus Sr would have been about 67 years old, he died nineteen years later in 1835. Three years after this deed, Libbeus Sr sells another 80 acres of the twenty five mile plantation to Lebbeus Jr. They are my Fifth and Fourth Great Grandfathers.

The description of the land reads "a certain lot of land in said twenty five mile pond plantation being lot numbered twenty on a plan of the gore lying between the Ballard line and the east end of the fifteen mile lots east of Kennebec River..."  Kennebec county is in the southern part of Maine, Augusta is the county seat as well as the state capital. The Kennebec River runs north and south through Augusta and approximately 10 miles west of Unity, which is about 30 miles northeast of Augusta. 

The two assignments written on the right-hand side are: 
On April 15, 1817  Reuel Williams sells his share to Robert Hallowell Gardiner
On March 1, 1827  Robert H Gardiner sells to James Parker, who in 1813 married the youngest daughter of Libbeus Simmons Sr.

Kennebec County has deeds available online. This was very difficult to read, but I've transcribed as much of it as I can.

Know all men by these presents that <I, Libbeus Simmons of the
five mile pond plantation in the county of Kennebec yeoman>
in consideration of <one hundred sixty five dollars and eighty five cents paid by Robert
H. Gardiner of Gardiner and Reuel Williams of Augusta in said county ?>
(the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge) do hereby give, grant
sell, and convey unto the said <Gardiner and Williams a certain lot of land in said twenty
five mile pond plantation being lot numbered twenty on a plan of the gore lying
between the Ballard line and the east end of the fifteen mile lots east of Kennebec
River made by Charley Hayden esq. Surveyor containing eighty acres and one half
more or less on which I now live>

To have and to hold the <aforegranted premises to the said Gardiner & Williams their>
heirs and assigns, to <their> use and <behoof> forever. And <I>
do covenant with the said <Gardiner and Williams their> heirs and assigns
that <I am> lawfully seized in fee of the <aforegranted premises> that they are free of all
incumbrances that <I> have good right to sell and convey the same to
the said <Gardiner and Williams> and that <I> will warrant and defend the same <premises>
to the said <Gardiner and Williams their> heirs and assigns, forever agains the lawful claims and
demands of <all> persons.

Provided nevertheless <that if the said Simmons his heirs, executors, or administrators ?
to the said Gardiner & Williams their heirs executors administrators or assigns the sum of one
hundred sixty five dollars and eighty five cents in five equal annual payments with
interest accordig to his five promisary notes therefore then this deed avail ?
five notes bearing even date with these presents given by the said Simmons to the
said Gardiner and Williams promising to pay the same sum & interest at the time aforesaid
? shall all be void otherwise shall remain in full force.>

In Witness whereof, <I> the said <Libbeus Simmons>
have hereunto set my hand and seal this tenth day of September in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixteen.
Signed sealed and delivered in presence of us <Libbeus Simmons Daniel Whitmore>
<Kennebec> ss, <Sept. 11, 1816>  Then the above named
<Libbeus Simmons>
acknowledged <the above> instrument by     subscribed to be <his>
deed before me
<Daniel Whitmore>  Justice of Peace

<KENNEBEC> ss. Received <Sept. 16, 1816> entered and comopared with the original, by
<John Hovey, Registrar>

Written on the right side:

Know all men that I Reuel Williams within named in consideration of eighty two dollars ninety cents paid me by Robert Hallowell Gardiner within named the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, do hereby sell transfer assign & set over to him the said Gardiner, all my right title & interest I demand in and ? the premises within described - To have and to hold the same to sd Gardiner his heirs and assigns forever in the same region? as he & I held the same favor to this transfer. To have and to hold the same to said Gardiner his heirs and assigns forever. In witness whereof I the said Williams have herein set my hand & seal this thirty first day of December whereas A. D. 1816
Done in presence of Fred McAllen, Reuel Williams  {seal} Kennebec ? April 15th 1817 personally appeared Reuel Williams Esq and acknowledged the foregoing assignment, by him figured to be his free act and deed before me Fred K. Allen, Jus Peace - Kennebec
Rec'd Apl 9, 1817 entered and compared with the original by Jno Hovey Reg

Second assignment

Know all men by these presents that I Robert Hallowell Gardiner of Gardiner in the County of Kennebec Esquire in consideration of one hundred and twelve dollars 16 cents to me paid by James Parker of Troy in said county yeoman the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge do hereby transfer assign and make over to sd James Parker the written mortgage deed granting him thereby all the right title and interest I have in and to the same both as original joint ? with Reuel Williams by within named and as assignee of said Williams, To have and to hold the same to the said Parker his heirs and assigns forever. In witness whereof I the said Robert Hallowell Gardiner have herein ?set my? hand and seal this 1st day of March? A. D. 1827. Robert H Gardiner  {seal}  signed sealed and delivered in free ?  Henry B. Haskew Kennebec J. Peace, April 9th 1827 Xcrossed outX

then the above named Robt H Gardiner personally appeared and acknowledged the foregoing assignment his free act or deed before me Soloman Adams Justice of Peace Kennebec Jr Rec'd April 9, 1827 entered and compared with the original by John Hovey, Reg

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

C L Mann at Two Points in Time

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, from

During World War I, men born between September 11, 1872 and September 12, 1900 were required to register for the draft on September 12, 1918.  When he was 40 years old, married and had 10 children at home, my Great Grandfather Clarence L Mann completed this requirement.  

He was living and farming in Ellis, Gage County, Nebraska then. My Great Grandma Cora Mabel Mann was his nearest relative. I can imagine how she felt about the idea that he might have to go to war. 

Most of the 1917-1918 draft registrations I've seen are signed with the registrants full name, as if maybe they were instructed to do so. It's a nice way to get that information if it's not known. And signatures are such personal things and wonderful to have!  Great Grandpa's handwriting is very nice.

His description is medium height with slender build, blue eyes and brown hair and no obvious physical disqualifications. He signed up at the Local Board for Jefferson County, when his address was Ellis, Gage County. It may be that his land was actually just across the county line in Jefferson county.

On April 27, 1942, the fourth round of registration for World War II was conducted.  Men who were between 45 and 65 years old were legally required to register for the draft. Notice the top line below - "Men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897". Clarence was born in June of 1878.

World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 from
Twenty-five years after that first draft, now living at 626 W Mary Street in Beatrice, he states "no regular employment". At 63 years old, I assume this means he is retired. His hair has gone gray, his eyes still blue, he stood 5 ft, 7 inches tall and weighed 140 lbs. What caused the scar on the base of his left thumb? 

My Great Grandpa Mann and Great Grandpa Menke both registered on April 27, 1942 at probably the same place in Beatrice. They shared two grandchildren in 1942 - my dad and his sister. I'm sure both families were relieved that neither man was sent off to either war. These draft registration cards are interesting and give an idea of what their lives were like at two particular points in time. 

UPDATE 7/26/18: I've learned now from Clarence's youngest daughter that the scar on his thumb was likely from butchering. Also that he worked until he was 73 years old and may have been off work at this time due to an eye injury he got while working for the Gage County bridge crew. The settlement from his injury helped him buy the last house he owned.