#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Brick Wall

I have brick walls that I’m more focused on trying to break through, but I’ve written about them before.

Today, my focus will be on my 3rd great-grandfather on my dad’s side, John Ross Parker.

Going forward in time, my 2nd great-grandmother was Ellen Parker, who married John David Givens on the 28th of August, 1894. Her obituary, published on the 7th of March 1940 in the Foley Onlooker, in Baldwin County, Alabama, says she was born in Escambia County, Florida on 23 September 1873, and she died in Beulah, Escambia County, Florida, on 26 February 1940. John David Givens and Ellen E. Parker were married in Baldwin County, Alabama, on the 30th of August, 1894.

In the 1880 United States Census, I find Ellen Parker, aged 7, listed in the household of John Parker, age 34, in Baldwin County, Alabama. His wife is Caroline Parker (née Manning per a marriage record from Escambia County, Alabama, dated 19 April 1867).

Of course, Alabama and Florida marriage records from the 19th century are among those that are very vague about the bride and groom – no ages, birthdates, or parents’ names are included.

Some say John Ross Parker’s parents are William M. Parker and Elizabeth Hobbs. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but William M. Parker’s profile on FamilySearch has only two sources – the 1850 and 1860 Censuses. In 1850, William is living with adult Elizabeth and children Martha, Frances, Syndarilla, Greenberry, John, and Robert in Conecuh County, Alabama. In 1860, the family is in Baldwin County: William and Elizabeth, and children Frances J., Caroline M., John and Robert J. Living next door is a G. B. Parker who is likely Greenberry. In 1850, Syndarilla’s age is given as 8; in 1860, Caroline is listed as 16. This could be the same child, and likely this is the same family, but oh, why didn’t the enumerator include John’s middle initial? I’d like something a little more concrete that this John is John Ross.

On FamilySearch, the father of William M. Parker (1805-1888) is listed as William Parker (1757-1809). The senior William’s wife’s name is listed as Mary Freeman. No other children are attached to the family. No sources are attached to the parents.

Steps I could take to try to work through this brick wall:

Look for estate records, such as as a will or probate file, for John Ross Parker, to see if any siblings are named. Look for the same type of records for William M. Parker, to see if children are listed by their full names, if spouses are named, or if grandchildren are included.

Examine DNA matches. On Ancestry, Thrulines indicates there are several matches to John Ross Parker’s children. I could review shared matches, look for those same matches on other sites, and search for other Parker matches on MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch. Matches may have other sources attached to their family trees to help verify the information.

I have done some newspaper searches, primarily for death notices, but I could do deeper searchers for the Parker family in South Alabama and Northwest Florida.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Bearded

Last week’s topic, “bald” reminded me of my dad’s family. Bearded just reminds me of my dad, William D. “Bill” Hahn. He always came back from a three- or six-month naval voyage with a beard.

The first photo was taken in April 1971 at a submarine ball in Dunoon, Scotland. I was five years old at that time. My dad was 36.

When we first went to Scotland, he was on the USS Canopus submarine tender. When one of the radioman on USS James Madison had a family emergency or some such, daddy moved over to take his place, and he was on subs for his sea duties the rest of his time in the Navy.

Other subs he was on were the USS Woodrow Wilson and the USS Finback.

Daddy grew a beard again, for a while, later in life. I have a couple of pictures from church directories, and I’m sharing one of them here. I don’t have the specific year.

When he got older and his beard turned white, it really shows the nicotine from his smoking. If I could have changed one thing about my dad, it would have been that. I really believe it contributed to his death from cancer, and I have to wonder if the second-hand smoke stunted my growth. It was really his only bad habit, though.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Bald

This prompt (from Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project) instantly reminded me of my dad, Bill Hahn, and his dad, Charlie Hahn.

Most of my life growing up, my dad wore a crew cut. I recall it looking pretty sparse.

Bill and Zenova in Arcos Spain

This first photo is from Arcos, Spain, while my dad was stationed in Rota, so sometime between 1962 and 1965. Daddy was in his late 20s to early 30s. This photo is small, but the front line of his crew cut looks well back from his forehead to me.

When I was really little, I liked to rub his head after he’d get a hair cut. I think I liked it for the same reason I liked to pet the velvet collar on my my mom’s coat – it was fuzzy.

After my dad retired in 1982, he let his hair – what was left of it, grow out a little. He has it combed back in my wedding photos from 1992. (The uniform is a little snug, but I insisted!)

Note: My mom and I designed my dress, and she made it!

My pre-wedding bride photo with my mom and dad, 1992.

Daddy came by his hair loss genetically, I think. I came across a photo of his dad and uncle showing their shiny heads.

I don’t remember exactly what Charlie – Papa to us grandkids – said about his baldness, but it had something to do with it was because he was so smart. (Fish was also brain food, he would say.)

As I am getting older (and following a couple of health issues), I find my hair is thinner than it used to be. I hope I don’t end up looking like the Hahn boys!

Brothers Charles Theodore and Daniel Yancey Hahn. (If anyone knows who the child is, please let me know.)

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Pets

Most of my life, I’ve had some kind of pet. One of my earliest memories is of a cat walking across the floor in front of me when I was maybe two or three years old. My mother told that we had a cat and she had kittens, and she “got mean” – which probably means that she was scared I was going to hurt the babies and hissed or swatted at me. My dad never particularly liked cats, so they got rid of the cat and her kittens.

The next pet I remember was when I was in about third grade, we got a black cat named Midnight. She was an outstanding cat. She would let me dress her up in doll clothes and push her down the street in my pram. I wish I had a picture of that! She would walk on a leash, and we’d take her camping with her. Once, she was on the dashboard of the camper and a service station attendant was cleaning the windshield. She moved and he jumped! He thought she was a stuffed animal until she moved.

We still had Midnight when my dad brought home my one and only dog, a beagle mix that I named, of course, Snoopy. Midnight thought he was her personal toy. He’d go toddling through the house, and she’d wait for him and pounce. She never hurt him, and he never seemed to mind. He would go camping with us, too. What a sight I must have been, walking a dog and a cat on leashes at the same time. Snoopy occasionally suffered from motion sickness, as did I. My dad tied a piece of rope on the back bumper, so that it just touched the ground, and he told me it would help. Make of it what you will, but it seemed to work for both me and my dog.

When we were living in Charleston, one day we found a young possum in the garbage can. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may recall that my Pap-pa’s dog used to tree possums, and Pap-pa would sometimes go and get the possum and bring it home and put it in the trash can to scare the youngster. We loved to tease Pap-pa that I didn’t have to go get the possum; Snoopy brought it home and put it in the trash can for me.

One time, we were all the back yard in Pensacola, when I saw Snoopy looking at something in a slightly wooded area. It was a baby blue jay. Being creative, I named him (or her, but I’ll just say him) Jay Blue. We fed him hamburger meat and bread softened in milk until he was old enough to release. Our plan was to take him to my grandparents’ home in Midway, which was a bit more rural back then, in the early 1970s. Sadly, the cat we had at the time (I don’t think it was Midnight; it might have been Duchess), reached her paw through the cage and injured him, and he died before he could return home to the wild.

Duchess could never sheath her claws. My dad would get mad, because I would get scratched while we were playing. I never cared, but he was protective. She was a beautiful cat, white with a few multi-colored spots, so I guess she was technically a calico. I wrote a song for her once. The lyrics were in a notebook that got stolen at school, but I remember a little bit of it. “Purple iris to match your gray spots, orange roses to match your ears, something something, kitten, you are so dear.”

Anyway, my parents took Duchess away to the farm. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but there really was a farm in Walnut Hill, belonging to my Uncle Zeb Allison. I’m told she would sit in his lap and he would pet her and she had a good life.

Somewhere along the way, we had another baby blue jay called, again very creatively, Jay Blue Two. He survived, and was released in Midway. My grandparents said that, for a long time, he would come back to the house regularly to visit.

I also had, for a very brief time, a hog-nosed snake and later, a glass snake (which is a type of lizard). We caught them in the yard, but let them go after a few days because it’s more complicated to feed snakes.

When I wasn’t allowed to have larger pets Snoopy went to live with my grandparents in Midway. Once, I’m told, he got really sick and my Mam-ma babied him and kept him alive, because she didn’t want to have to tell me that he died. There, he chased the only cat that he ever chased, which was my cousins’ cat Ebony. No other cat would run from him, but she did, so, he chased her.

Kali Malicious with her two favorite toys, Caterpillar and Piggy.

I often had minnows that I would catch with a small net down at Mam-ma and Pap-pa’s house. Mam-ma would give me an old brown jar that coffee creamer came in (perhaps Cremora brand, but I’m not positive), and I would keep them in the jar and sometimes release them before I came home, and sometimes I would bring them home and keep them in a fish bowl. I had one that tried to escape and landed on the floor flopping around. As I finally got hold of him, he kind of wrenched himself, and when I put him back in the water he was bent. After that, I called him Boomerang. I took him to the vet, who said that fish have a balance line of some kind, and that was probably out of whack. He was bent for the rest of his life, although he did get a little better over time.

There was a tiny black crab I named Apache Tear. Another minnow called Barracuda the Killer Fish, because everything else in the tank with him died (I’m not sure if I still had Apache Tear at the time, but I know I had some sort of little shrimp and at least one other fish).

We had more birds, and mice, and many more cats. I wish I had more photos, and the ones I do have still need to be scanned.

But, I can show you the two cats I have now – Kali Malicious and Pippin. I cannot imagine my life without my little furry babies.

Pippin, sacked out with Ducky.
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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: DNA

DNA holds the key to identifying my 3x great-grandfather. I continually watch webinars, and I’m grateful to have received a scholarship for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) DNA intensive in June. I have my uncle’s Y-DNA (currently waiting for the results of the Big Y upgrade), and atDNA from my great-aunt, who is two generations closer to the mystery man. I am quite sure the answer is hiding in my shared matches, and I just have to use the right analysis for the answer to become clear.

Mostly I have used DNA to confirm my document-based genealogy. The first time I used DNA to confirm a theory was with my great-grandfather, Billie Stevens’ mother‘s family. I had a marriage record for couple with the right names, albeit spelled differently than they were on Billie’s death certificate. I found a likely Reid family group in the FamilySearch tree that all was filled out with spouses except for daughter Mary, who was the right age to be my great-great grandmother. I was confident, and yet, there could have been another couple with the same names. Then, eureka! I found a cousin match who descended from Mary Reid’s sister. Since then, I’ve found several matches from that Reid family. One mystery solved.

More recently, I found a cousin match that leads back to a Chitty family that I had suspected was Mary’s husband William Stevens’ maternal family. I’m still not 100% sure, because we know how Southern families intermingle, and I’m still nervous that I could be missing another connection, but it seems very likely that this is correct.

What I’d really love to do is take a class in extracting DNA from objects. Things like my daddy’s old hat, or a postage stamp, or even a tooth (my daddy morbidly kept some of his teeth when he had them all pulled). I know there are companies that will do that now, but the pricing is out of reach for me.

I’ll close with my wish list for DNA matches:

  • Use your biological birth surname, if you know it, on your profile.
  • Attach your DNA to yourself in a family tree.
  • Fill in as much of the family tree as you can; if your ancestor has died, be sure to include a death date OR simply check the box that they’re deceased, so their name will show up to your matches.
  • Go to your profile page and fill in some information. 23andMe has a place to list surnames and locations. Write a short biography that tells where you are in your research. Include a link to your blog or family tree (if it’s not on the DNA website). Consider including some kind of contact information.
  • Provide login information to a trusted family member, so if/when you pass on, someone can sign in and check messages and/or update your family tree. (I have told my husband, if I die before him, he is to go immediately to my FamilySearch profile and make me dead.)
  • While you’re living, check your messages. I get email notifications from some of the companies, but for some reason MyHeritage won’t send me notifications. I’ve checked my settings, and I can’t figure out why. So, don’t assume you’ll be notified if there’s a message in your inbox. Then please respond. Maybe you don’t how you’re related to your match, but if they care enough to contact you, maybe you can help each other.
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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Should Be a Movie

The first story this prompt brought to mind was that of a first cousin, four times removed on my dad’s side of the family.

As a young bride, Sarah Jane Hall John’s farm near the Jacksonville area was attacked by Native Americans. Her story is told in a book called “A Narrative of the Life and Sufferings of Mrs. Jane Johns: Who Was Barbarously Wounded and Scalped by Seminole Indians in East Florida.”

Sarah Jane Hall was the daughter of John Hall and Mary Silcox. Mary was the sister of my 3rd Great-Grandfather Wade Warren Silcox. The author credits a third sibling, Lucretia Silcox Carter with sharing details of Sarah’s early life and birth in the wake of another Native American attack.

Sarah grew up, and in January 1936, she married William Johns. A few months later, they found themselves face to face with another group of Native Americans. According to the book, John survived long enough to get to the house, but the Indians burst through the door and shot him again. Sarah was shot in the arm and neck, scalped, and set on fire. The published account says she waited until the attackers left the home, then used her own blood to put out the fire. She crawled to a nearby pond and waited there in the water for several hours, until her father-in-law and other men arrived.

The book was published in 1837, as a way of raising money to help poor Sarah, who had lost everything that day.

I grew up hearing stories that my mom’s side of the family had a Creek Indian ancestor. While I do have a smidge of indigenous blood, per my DNA results, that ancestor is much further back than I was led to believe in my childhood. Still, the stories I was told, as wrong as they might have been, instilled in me a measure of compassion and anger on behalf of the Native Americans who were forced from their homes and lands, their forests razed, their wild food sources slaughtered.

The film I’d like to see would not only tell the story of Sarah and the other European pioneers in Florida, but would also showcase the victimization of the Seminoles. We’ve seen so many films about the Wild West, but in the first half of the 19th century, the South was also wild and untamed, filled with danger and conflicts that have not yet been explored by filmmakers.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Solitude

This prompt reminded me of my Great Granduncle Tom Pittman.

Isaac Pittman and his wife Elizabeth (née Thompson) had four living children when Thomas Edward Pittman was born, as recorded in his sister’s Bible, on 18 January 1894. The family lived in Baldwin County, Alabama, not far from Pensacola, Florida, where the newspaper reported unseasonably warm winter that week.

The older children were 11-year-old Mary Elizabeth, called Mollie (my great-grandmother); 8-year-old Grover Cleveland, called Cleve; 6-year-old Nancy Charity, and 4-year-old Medrick.

I can’t be sure what Isaac Pittman was doing for a living when Tom was born. In 1880, the newlywed was living with his wife in the household of her father, Origen Thompson, and both men worked as teamsters. By 1890, the Census lists Isaac as a farmer in his own household.

The family would add three more children in the coming years, Ruthia, in 1899, who died as a young child; Isaac Junior, born 1896, who was killed in a farming accident, age 15; and Charlie, born in 1901. All the children who lived to adulthood, except Tom, would marry and have families.

The 1900 Census does not indicate whether the children were in school. The enumerator recorded Thomas’ birthdate as January 1893 and gives his age as 7 years old. Did the census taker make a mistake, or did Mollie, writing it into her Bible?

By 1910, Isaac Pittman had died. His widow lived in the Holman and Gateswood area of Baldwin County with four of her boys, Medrick, Tom, Isaac Jr., and Charlie. Mollie, Nancy, and Cleve had all married and had homes of their own. Medrick and Tom are listed as farmers, Isaac as a laborer.

Ten years later, the Census shows Medrick, Tom, and Charlie are still living with their mother. They’ve moved now to Muscogee, in Escambia County, Florida. Medrick and Charlie worked at the tar plant, and Tom worked at the saw mill. Later that year, Medrick married Margaret Oglesby.

In April 1921, Charlie married Ada Jackson. Eight months later, they had a baby, Robert Lee Jackson. Robert died a week later, and his mother followed in February 1922.

Mosella Elizabeth Thompson Pittman died in 1924.

The following year Charlie Pittman and his sister Mollie’s husband Billie Stephens were arrested and charged after a drunk-driving crash in Pensacola. Charlie re-married in 1933, to Genevieve Manning.

I can’t find Tom in the 1930 or 1940 Census. In 1950, he is living alone and doing odd jobs to make a living.

My mother said Tom was going with a girl once, and they might even have been engaged. Then she got sick. According to my mother, the girl got well, but Tom said he didn’t want to marry a sickly woman and broke it off.

Thomas Edward Pittman died on August 3rd, 1964.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Begins with a Vowel

I decided to pick a surname that begins with a vowel, and looking through the first few generations of my family tree, I find only one, Allison.

My maternal grandfather’s mother was born Dorcas Elizabeth Allison. She was called Dollie. She was born in Marion County, Georgia, in 1890. She married Arthur Cook in 1906, when she was 15 years old. By the time my grandfather was born, in 1990, they were living on a farm in Walnut Hill, Florida.

Dollie’s father was S. John Allison. He was a farmer, born in Georgia in November 1867.

John’s parents were Francis Randolph Allison, another farmer, and Dorcas Elizabeth Woodall. The couple married in Schley County, Georgia, in 1861. By the 1870 Census, they had set up housekeeping in Marion County.

Henry Allison (line 9) and son Francis R. (line 12) in the 1850 Census.

Francis’s father was Henry Leonidas Allison, born 18 June 1807 in Columbia, Georgia. He later moved to Marion County, too.

Henry L.’s father is said to be Alexander H. Allison (1789-1853). A newspaper clipping attached to Henry L.’s FamilySearch profile shows Henry applying for letters of administration for the estate of Alexander H. Allison, but it’s published in November 1836. This will require searching court records to straighten out.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Light a Candle

This prompt reminds me of my mother. She’s a collector, like her mother before her, and just as I am today. One of the things my mother collected was candle holders.

I don’t have a picture of the collection. I know where a lot of the pieces are; they’re in the back bedroom on shelves behind the door. There’s a lot of stuff stored in that room right now, and I’m not sure I could even get to it to take a picture.

My mom Zenova with her Christmas elephant in 2009.
My mom Zenova with her Christmas elephant in 2009.

For years, I would give her a candle holder, or a matching pair, for Christmas or birthday, along with an elephant. That’s her other major collection.

My mom started collections for me, too. Giraffes, dolls – one from each country we visited – and spoons, when I was little. As I got older, I wanted horses. For a while, I collected shot glasses (some of those – and one of my porcelain horses – got broken when a shelf collapsed in my room). When I got married, my mom said she was going to start giving me a Santa figurine every Christmas; I told her I wanted reindeer instead.

My grandmother’s collections included combs (the first piece in that set was one she found on the sidewalk), flyswatters, pitchers, and nails (the largest was a railroad spike). Because she was a teacher, she received rulers with advertising on them. Students gave coffee mugs and salt & pepper shakers. When I would stay with her, mam-ma would pay for cleaning services to dust and/or wash some of these collectibles. There was good spending money to be had!

If I had the money, I’d build a museum to display all these collections. I think people would find them interesting, and every day would be a walk down memory lane.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Membership

This has been one of the tougher prompts for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project. I’ve already written about some of my memberships and my parents’.

The next organizations that come to mind are the ones I remember my maternal grandparents talking about. Hoyt and Willie Cook were always on the go. They were retired teachers and attended monthly meetings where they could catch up with other educators they’d worked with. For a while they were in a square dancing group. They were also active in the Good Sam camping club and charter members of the Conquistadors chapter in Pensacola. I think some of the same people were their fellow members in two or more of these organizations. I’m pretty sure I remember square dancing at some Good Sam event or other.

I believe my grandparents were also members of AAA. It makes sense because they traveled a lot, and AAA provided discounts and free maps in the days before GPS. I seem to recall them attending presentations on different destinations around the world. They weren’t really world travelers; Mam-ma visited us in Scotland when my dad was stationed there, but I think that was the only time either one of them ventured from North America. Still, they enjoyed learning about other places, and Pap-pa was a talker; he loved any chance to meet with people and visit.

Something I didn’t realize until I saw the symbol on his grave marker was that my Pap-pa was a Freemason. He and Mam-ma are actually buried in the Masonic area at Bayview Memorial Park. Sometimes you don’t even know the questions to ask until it is too late.

Dewey Hoyt Cook's marker at Bayview Cemetery in Pensacola.
Dewey Hoyt Cook’s marker at Bayview Cemetery in Pensacola.
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