#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Solo

Han Solo

Of course, the “solo” prompt reminded me of Han Solo, but as far as I can tell, we’re not related.

If you know me at all, you must realize that when Amy Johnson Crow announced the Week 27 prompt for her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, my first thought was Han Solo. However, I haven’t found any familial connection to the swashbuckling “Star Wars” pirate, so I had to figure out something else to write about.

I don’t see any family names or recall any place names that evoke the idea of solitude. I’m an only child, but most of my ancestors came from large families.

My paternal great-great-grandfather William F. Hahn seems to have been on his own before marrying Ary Loper in Milton, Santa Rosa, Florida, in 1873, but I don’t know enough about that time in his life or how he came to be in Florida with, apparently, no other family around him.

Then I thought about another great-great-grandfather. I have just one lone primary record for William A. Stephens, and it is there I found his full name written thus.

Going back to the beginning of this genealogical quest, I was looking for more on the parents of James William “Billie” Stevens, my maternal grandmother’s father. Billie died when my mother was very small. The way the story was passed down, is that he had been out drinking on New Year’s Eve, 1939, and instead of going home to face the wrath of his pious wife, he went to his daughter’s home. Willie’s husband, Hoyt, laid him down on my mother’s bed, and they took my mother, who was about 2 1/2 years old, into their room. They found him dead the next morning; the date on the death certificate is December 31, 1939.

The names of his parents on the death certificate are Bill Stevens and Mollie Reed.  The date of birth on Billie’s tombstone is October 5, 1884.  Various sources say Billie was born in Alabama. I started looking for him with his parents.

Billie Stevens Death Certificate

Billie Stevens’ death certificate yielded up a clue about his parents’ names.

That proved to be tough. Of course, the 1890 Census is no more, and to this day, I have not found Mary and Billie in the 1900 Census.

The only record I found was a marriage record for William A. Stephens and Miss Mary Reid. They were wed in Conecuh County, Alabama on July 26th, 1883, so the timing made sense with his birth.

Marriage record of William A. Stephens and Mary Reid

Marriage record of William A. Stephens and Mary Reid

I called my mom and asked if she’d ever heard mention of Billie’s family or Grandma Muterspaugh being from Conecuh County. No.

But it’s not that far from Escambia County, Florida, where Willie Stevens was born.

I was only looking at the marriage record index at that point, so I didn’t even realize that the marriage took place at the home of Nancy Reid until I looked at the original record later, but I started looking in Conecuh County for others Stephens and Reid families.

I found a Mary in the home of James T. and Nancy Russell Reid. They had profiles on FamilySearch, and while many of their other children had marriages and children listed, Mary did not, so there was nothing to disprove the theory. Later, I found DNA matches to the offspring of several of James and Nancy’s other children, so I’m confident on that front.

I have found no divorce record for William Stephens and Mary Reid; she married J.C. Gilmore in 1889 and Charles Muterspaugh, which whom she had one daughter, in 1891.

What became of her first husband William remains a mystery.

There were two William Stephens living in Conecuh County in 1880 according to the U.S. Census. One was born about 1860, the son of Benjamin and Mary Stephens. The other was born about 1865, the son of Melvina Stephens.

Research shows that Melvina’s maiden name was Chitty, and one of Mary’s sisters married a Chitty. Melvina’s husband, also named William, died in March 1864. Was William the younger really born before 1865 or did he have a different father but received the mother’s current name? In 1900, Melvina (listed as Elvina) and her son William (identified as divorced) are living with Melvina’s other son, John H. Stephens. The census record gives William’s middle initial as M and records a birthdate of February 1872. Perhaps it’s supposed to be 1862?

Benjamin and Mary’s son, I assume, is also listed in the 1900 Census, born in January 1860. Now his middle initial is clearly J. He has been married for 12 years and his oldest child was born in December 1888.

There’s no evidence to disprove or prove either of them as my William.

This is assuming that William wasn’t a newcomer to the area; I found William Steven and William Stephens of the right age living in Wilcox and Clarke Counties, respectively, in the 1880 U.S. Census.

I’ll continue my quest to discover William’s origins. If you have information that could help, please leave a comment below.

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Image shows a handshake between a purple hand and a green hand.I think a lot of people today don’t really understand what compromise means.

Merriam-Webster has two definitions for the noun….

1a : settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
1b : something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
2 : a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial a compromise of principles

…. and one for the verb.

1a : to come to agreement by mutual concession

I’ve always considered that when you compromise, you give a little and you get a little.

This time we’ll eat at the restaurant you like, next time we’ll eat at the restaurant I like. I named the last kitten; you can name this one. I like the purple sheets best, and you prefer the grey ones; we can both be satisfied with ice blue.

The first time I realized that some people don’t understand what compromise means was about 25 or so years ago. My husband’s friend was engaged, so we would do couple things – out to dinner or a movie – and once I was talking to this girl and it became clear that she expected to always get her way in everything. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but I said, “Sometimes you have to compromise.”

To which she replied, “I’ve always compromised before. I’m not doing it anymore.”

So many problems with this.

First, some background. She had dated my husband’s friend years earlier and dumped him with one of those, “You’re too nice” kind of back-handed compliments. She would, from what I was told, regularly call him to check and in and let him know how happy she was with whatever guy she was dating or married to at that point.

Here’s how they got back together, shortly after Tim and I got married: She called and begged for a safe place to stay because, she claimed, husband-number-whatever was abusive. Tim’s friend said he’d let her stay for a few days, which turned into weeks, during which time husband-number-whatever became a regular visitor to play games and hang out. Next thing you know, Tim’s friend and this woman were engaged. (Husband-number-whatever was going to give her away at the wedding.)

So, yeah, she was clearly messed up. And to her, compromise meant giving in. If he wanted wallpaper design A and she wanted wallpaper design B, well, it had to be B, because she wasn’t going to “compromise” anymore.

I feel like now, the whole country is like this. No one wants to compromise anymore.

It’s my way or the highway.

If you’re not for me, you’re against me.

Obviously, sometimes compromise is more complicated than picking a color you can both live with. Sometimes it’s giving a little and getting a little. Sometimes, it’s looking at what you’re each trying to accomplish and meeting in the middle.

The problems with some of the legislation that has made its way through Congress over the past twelve years is that neither party wants to make sensible compromise. They won’t even consider working together to find positive solutions to benefit the American people. One side considers it a loss, and an affront to their dignity, if they make any concessions at all. The other side is always completely wrong in their eyes.

That attitude has trickled down to the American people. Or maybe it trickled up to Congress over the past 25 years.

Our elected leaders are supposed to be smarter than a messed up female looking for her next ex-husband (yeah, it didn’t last). They’re supposed to set an example that their constituents can be proud of and emulate. Instead, they play games with American lives and livelihoods, behaving as though it’s their team against the other, and the team that doesn’t win is a big fat loser.

But aren’t we all supposed to be on the same team? Team America?

A win for the team is a win for 328 million people who call this great nation home, and a loss is a nail in the coffin of democracy, equality, and kindness.

Remember the old question, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Getting along means compromising. It means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand their position and believes. It means you don’t always get everything you want, but you get enough to make a difference.

What a world we could have, what lives we could live, what happiness we could experience if we were all willing to meet in the middle.



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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Middle

Here we are at week 26 of 2020, and smack dab in the middle of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. Appropriately, this week’s prompt is “middle” and it’s got me thinking about middle names.

One of my cousins on my dad’s side has her mom’s maiden name as her middle name. Growing up, I thought it was unusual, but it’s something I’ve seen quite often since starting my family tree research.

Family tree showing George Rouse Lindsey and his parents, John B.W. Lindsey and Margaret Rouse.

Family tree showing George Rouse Lindsey and his parents, John B.W. Lindsey and Margaret Rouse.

My husband’s great-grandfather George Rouse Lindsey has his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. George’s brother John has his grandmother’s maiden name – Breckenridge. That grandmother’s full name was Letitia Preston Breckenridge Lindsey; Preston was her grandmother’s maiden name. An unusual middle name isn’t always a family surname, but it can be helpful when it is.

My paternal grandfather, Dewey Hoyt Cook, always went by his middle name. Once when he was in the hospital, I thought they’d lost him or he’d died because I asked for Hoyt Cook, and they said he wasn’t there. He was “booked” under his first name, of course. Two of his brothers, Arthur Harvey and Harold Hilton also went by their middle names.

Hiram, Ruby, Hurley, Bonnie, and Hoyt Cook.

Hiram, Ruby, Hurley, Bonnie, and Hoyt Cook.

My dad went by his first name, but all four of his brothers were called by their middle names, by the family at least.

My mother gave me very unusual first and middle names. It’ll be great for anyone researching our branch of the family in a hundred years. I quickly tired of my first name, though. People mispronounced it or “misheard” it as a more common name. Between 9th and 10th grade, we moved (again – we were a Navy family), and I decided – new school, new name. I started going by my middle name, Auriette, unaware it was pretty much a family tradition to do that. I still get some mispronunciation, but more often people will say, “Huh?” if they don’t get it, instead of just guessing at what it must be. People I work with laugh because when someone asks my name on the phone, I automatically start spelling it after I say it.

One last middle name story, from my early days of genealogy. Those of you with experience will get this right off. My mother had a great-uncle named Cleve. “Not Clive?” I asked. No, she told me, C-L-E-V-E. I was running into a lot of Pittmans named Cleve when I ran across a new document that showed me Cleve – or rather Cleveland – was his middle name. His first name, it turns out, was Grover.

“This is great!” I thought. How many people would name their kids Grover Cleveland — Oh. Yeah. Lots.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Unexpected

One unexpected discovery in my family history research was learning that my great-great grandfather John Cook was illegitimate. I’m not sure if I would have figured it out on my own.

My cousin Pat Lowe, who started working on the Cook family history decades ago, added that tidbit to the information available on the relevant FamilySearch profiles.

When I first looked at the U.S. Census records listing John and his mother Frances and his grandfather George, I thought perhaps George had taken a much younger wife and was John’s father. In those days, the census didn’t ask for the relationships of people in the household.

Pat learned from the older generation that Frances was George’s daughter. She never married but she had eight children, all allegedly by the same father.

George Cook was a veteran of the War of 1812. According to a discharge document, he was born in South Carolina. He settled in Georgia and married the widow Rebecca Jane Johnson Sizemore when he was about 45 years old. They had nine children. Jane had two children from her first marriage.

George and Frances shared a home in Marion County, Georgia.

I wonder what he thought of Frances’ love affair. I wonder how the community reacted, and what they knew. Did her lover provide for his illicit family?

Death of John Cook

The shootout that killed Frances’ son John Cook made the newspaper across the state.

I know that John Cook came to a bad end, killed in a gunfight. According to an article published in the Marion County Patriot, John’s son was drinking with some other fellows, and John “came up and called him off.” The other fellows started shooting. Tom and Frank Kemp were later found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

John’s son John Cyle was hit three times. He survived that night, but he would die by the gun 19 years later. The Columbus Ledger reported  he got into an argument over moonshine whiskey.

Frances’ oldest son, William Thomas Cook, and her oldest daughter, Nancy Georgiann Cook, both ended up moving to Texas.  Frances’ youngest daughter Fannie died in Alabama in 1972. It’s not clear what became of the other five children.

I hope that someday I’ll find DNA matches or some other evidence that will help me uncover the truth behind the family mystery and identify Frances’ paramour.

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Links for Getting Started with DNA

On June 13, 2020, I gave my presentation on “Getting Started with DNA” for the first time to the Baldwin County Genealogical Society. Here are the links related to the presentation.


TheGeneticGenealogist.com: Shared CM Project

Irish-Genealogy-Toolkit.com: Family History Chart

International Society of Genetic Genealogy: Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart

MyHeritage Webinar on AutoClusters

WEAR-TV: Article I wrote comparing several DNA tests. Click on the chart at the top for an expanded view.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments. I probably will not answer immediately, but WordPress will send me a notice and as soon as I see that, I’ll respond.

Some links are affiliate links for which I will earn a small reward if used to purchase a product. This does not affect the price you pay.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Handed Down

This week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge prompt is a fun one: “Handed Down.”

It brings so many thoughts to mind. My mom says I got my stubbornness “handed down” from my dad. (I think I got some of it from her, too.) My cousin has the family Bible handed down from our Great-Grandma Stevens. It has some good information she shared with me. The little stove my grandmother, Willie Stevens Cook, got from Santa as a child was handed down to my mom, and eventually it will come to me. My mother and her parents handed down to me a love of reading and learning.

Of course, all my many ancestors handed down to me little snippets of their DNA, and in some cases, it’s helping me sort stories that were handed down from the facts on paper.

Set of "Book of Knowledge" Encyclopedias

Set of “Book of Knowledge” Encyclopedias

My mom’s dad, Hoyt Cook – we called him Pap-pa – always said that his mother, Dollie Allison – Grandma Cook – was part Native American. Although, when I was growing up a long time ago, we still said Indian. I remember asking him about it once and saying Creek, and him saying, “No, Cree.” I looked that up in my encyclopedia when I got home and it said that was a Canadian tribe. A couple of years ago, before his sister, my Great-Great Aunt Bonnie (or Great-Grandaunt, if you prefer) said it was Creek.

All that went right along with the story that the Allisons were made to leave Georgia and go to the reservation in Oklahoma.

Only, when I started doing this genealogy research, the Allisons went from Georgia to Oklahoma in around 1904, and I don’t think the government was forcibly moving Native Americans around at that time. Some of the Allisons stayed. Dollie’s mother, I’m told, was injured and died on the way in a train wreck in Mississippi (near Tupelo, I believe). No one can find any information on that train wreck. I say no one, meaning me very recently, and for years my second cousin once removed Pat Lowe, who started her research when at least some of Dollie’s generation were still alive to answer questions)

Dollie’s father died in Oklahoma, possibly of a broken heart. His siblings stayed. His children went back to Georgia, and then several of them moved to Florida.

Pat Lowe has told me that in all her decades of research, she never found anything to connect the family to any Native Americans.

Now, let’s talk about that DNA.

I tested first with 23andMe, and the initial results said I was .7% Native American. That’s now down to .5%. They create a timeline for all your ethnicities, and that one says, “You most likely had a fourth-great-grandparent, fifth-great-grandparent, sixth-great-grandparent, or seventh-great- (or greater) grandparent who was 100% Native American. This person was likely born between 1690 and 1780.”

Dollie wouldn’t have been half-Native American, or even a quarter, but at least maybe there’s something to the stories.

23andMe says my mom has 1% (one whole percent!) of Native American blood. Her timeline analysis says, “You most likely had a fourth-great-grandparent,” etc., etc., “likely born between 1670 and 1760.”

Well, that doesn’t make sense. It should be the same ancestor as me, right?

Looking on the other side, my dad’s brother has .2% – so maybe that threw off my timeline.

Checking the analysis at MyHeritage:

Me – 0% Native American
Mom – 1% Indigenous Amazonian (huh?)
Aunt Bonnie (who isn’t on 23andMe) – 2.9% Mesoamerican and Chilean (double huh?)

I’ve heard (meaning I read on a blog or two) that some people with known and documented Native American heritage end up showing a South or Central American result on MyHeritage.

So, I’m going with, there may be something to the stories that were handed down. They just got a little mixed up in the retelling.



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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Wedding

This is a story of three weddings, inspired by this week’s topic in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge.

The first one took place on May 20th, 1933. It was a Saturday, and school teachers Hoyt Cook and Willie Stevens had the day off. It gave them time to drive four counties over to get married. You see, they were getting married in secret. At that time, in Escambia County, Florida, women teachers who got married couldn’t teach for the first year.

I guess the school district leaders thought that a new bride would get pregnant right away, and they also had rules about new mothers not being allowed to teach until after their child’s first birthday.

I don’t understand why Hoyt and Willie couldn’t get married publicly just a few weeks before school was out. I mean, if she did get pregnant right away, she certainly wouldn’t have been showing before the last day of classes.

But that’s the way the story was told to my mother and to me. They got married in secret so Mam-ma could finish the school year.

Hoyt and Willie Cook

Hoyt and Willie Cook

They drove over to the courthouse in Bonifay, in Holmes County. Today, according to Google Maps, the trip would take two hours and 18 minutes via U.S. 90. I’m not sure how long it would have taken them then, on the fairly new Old Spanish Trail highway. I’m sure the traffic wouldn’t have been as heavy as it is today.

They drove to the courthouse and told the clerk they wanted to get married. Pap-pa, the story goes, pulled out a $20 bill to pay the fee, but it was early in the day, and the clerk couldn’t make change. Mam-ma had some smaller bills, and she never let Pap-pa forget that she paid for the wedding.

On the way back to Pensacola, they stopped for a picnic, getting a drink and washing up at a nearby creek. Once they were on their way again, they looked over in time to see a dead cow lying in the same creek – upriver, too.

They had no ill effects, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it. Mam-ma didn’t stay home from school in the fall, either; she drove across the state line and taught in Alabama. And she didn’t get pregnant until three years later – but that’s another story.

The next wedding is their daughter’s – my mother’s.

Zenova Cook’s road to the aisle was a little rocky. She agreed to marry my dad, then he went off to sea in the Navy. While he was out of town, his sister – according to mama – talked her into going on a double date with her. Her date shared a car with another boy – they were both cadets in flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola – and he could only get the car that night if he found a date for his friend.

So, mama went out with Tommy. And she liked him, even though he was Catholic and a Yankee. Daddy came home for a visit, and mama was supposed to give daddy his ring back, but she didn’t, and Tommy didn’t like that (of course). One thing and another, and she ended up breaking up with Tommy and calling off the wedding with daddy.

Bill and Zenova Wedding Postponed - 20 April 1956 - Pensacola JournalLucky for me, she and daddy patched things up and a few months later, they were married, in a gown she made herself.

It was supposed to be the first marriage in the still-fairly-new Brentwood Methodist Church. Her family had been charter members of the church. (It’s owned by a different denomination now, but a table in the entryway bears the plaque saying it was donated by her grandmother, Mollie Stevens.) All these many years later my mother still

Bill Hahn and Zenova Cook - August 11 1956

Bill Hahn and Zenova Cook – August 11 1956

harbors the grudge that a couple passing through – who didn’t even go to their church – stopped by the week before my mother’s wedding – the very week before! – and asked the preacher to marry them. (Gee, if she hadn’t broken up with daddy, she would have beat that other couple by four months.)

She wasn’t happy with the wedding photographer, either. He missed some of the important shots, and she’s pretty sure he was drunk. (Sadly, her wedding album is missing, and she thinks it was in some things that were stolen during a burglary. We got this copy from her cousin’s collection.)

Other than the photographer issue, I think everything else went well with their wedding, and she and my dad celebrated their 50th anniversary a few months before he passed away from cancer.

The final wedding story is mine. I met my husband on either Wednesday or Thursday night at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. Long story short (Ha!), by Monday morning, I knew I’d found my soulmate. We got married on May 16, 1992, in a dress my mother made. She said mine was a lot harder than hers, but it was exactly what I wanted. This photo is actually from a few weeks later, at a reception we had for his extended family in Missouri, but it shows off the train nicely. (It could have been just a little bit longer.)

Tim and Auriette

Tim and Auriette

I had a few things go wrong that day. My bouquet didn’t have the long trailing part that I wanted, but mama used a few of the flowers we’d bought for decorating the church and fixed it up. The person who was supposed to start the video camera in the back of the church showed up late, and there was some confusion over who was supposed to start the other video camera in the choir loft, and it didn’t get turned on at all.  The marriage stuck, 28 years and counting, and that’s the important thing.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Uncertain

I am uncertain about the identity of my great-great-great grandfather Silcox.

Note: Or at least I was uncertain when I wrote this. When you get to the bottom, you’ll find I’ve added an update.

I’m uncertain about a lot of things the farther I get back in my family history research. I know who all my great-great grandparents are, and I am confident in my assessment of their place on my family tree. I’m sure about who some of my great-great-great grandparents are.

Great-Great-Great Grandpa Silcox, I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know:

My dad’s mother was Malzie Elizabeth Silcox, born in 1919 to Annie Olive Givens. Most of the records say she was born in Alabama, but there’s a Register for Births in Baldwin County that gives her place of birth as Muscogee, Florida.

Malzie Silcox Hahn Portrait

Malzie Silcox Hahn

Her parents were Henry David Silcox, known as Dave, and Annie Olive Givens. Annie was Dave’s second wife; she was 17 when Malzie was born. He had just turned 34.

Dave Silcox, 1940

Dave Silcox, 1940

Dave was the son of William Hampton Silcox and Dorithea Duck. Dave’s daughters confirmed for me, in person, that Hampton was their grandfather’s middle name. Some family trees list it as Henry. His wife, they say, was called “Drathy.”

William H. Silcox grave

William H. Silcox grave in Enon, Escambia, Florida.

Doratha Duck Silcox headstone

Doratha Duck Silcox’s headstone in Enon, Escambia, Florida.

I have the 1900 Census listing “David H. Silcox” as the 15-year-old son of “William and Dorathy.”

All good so far.

But, who are William Hampton Silcox’s parents?

His death certificate gives his father’s name as “Jno Silcox” with mother’s name unknown. The informant was “James Gullege.” James Gulledge was the husband of William and Drathy’s daughter Mary Anna. We have no way of knowing whether he had ever met his wife’s grandparents or if he was just trying his best to remember what he’d heard.

William Hampton Silcox was born – according to the 1900 Census – in October 1845. His tombstone gives a birthdate of 22 October 1844, but the stone itself is much newer than his wife’s, next to it. It’s a military service-related stone, and until I find the record of its order, I have no way of knowing who supplied that information.

There’s a William Silcox of the right age in the 1850 Census. He’s living with 50-year-old “Mrs. Silcox” (Thanks a lot, Mr. Census Taker). There are four other children in the home, Jessie, age 20; Martha, 18; Benjamin, 14; and Burnetta, 9. They were living in Santa Rosa County, Florida.

In 1860, we find what appears to be the same family living in Walton County, Florida. “Sarah Sylcox” – age 66 now – is the head of household. The three other people in the household are William, age 15; Bernette Moores, 18; and William Moores, age 23.

In both 1850 and 1860, the apparent mother’s place of birth is South Carolina, and William’s place of birth is Florida.

In 1880, we find “Henry Silcox” and his wife “Doratha” living in Escambia County, Florida. All the children are right for William Hampton Silcox. His birthplace is given as Florida; his parents’ birthplaces are left blank.

In 1900, William and Dorathy are living in Baldwin County, Alabama, with their younger children. Again, his birthplace is given as Florida, and parents’ birthplaces are marked unknown.

It’s not until 1910 that a U.S. Census gives a place of birth for William’s parents. It’s South Carolina for both.

The 1900 Census does offer a couple of clues about possible family relationships. On the same page, we find John W. Silcox, born 1847. He’s the right age to be William’s brother, but there’s no mention of a John in those two previous census records. Is John a cousin? Or do I have the wrong parents?

Also on the same page of the 1900 Census, we have Noah Silcox, born in 1875. Without doing my own research, I look at the FamilySearch family tree and see Noah as the son of John W., who is the son of David, who is the son of Wade Warren Silcox.

Recently, someone came along on FamilySearch and listed Wade Warren Silcox as the father of William Hampton Silcox.

Wade has just two sources attached to his profile – an 1840 Census, which shows him living in Escambia County, of the Florida territory. There appear to be six males and three females in the household.

The other source is an index card indicating that Private Wade W. Silcocks was a member of Kelly’s Company, Florida Volunteers (Mexican War).

According to this FamilySearch profile – again, not researched by me – Wade was married to Mary Sarah “Sally” Pitts, and they had these children (not counting William): David, born 1823; John, 1826; Jesse, 1830; Benjamin, 1836; and Martha Patricia, 1838.

Could Mary Sarah Pitts be the Sarah Sylcox?According to the 1840 census, the oldest woman in the household was between 20 and 30, which would have put Sarah between 30 and 40 in 1850, and between 40 and 50 and 1860. So the ages don’t add up, but we know those census form ages can vary quite a bit from reality.

The ages of Jessie and Benjamin in the 1850 Census are right to be Wade’s children, as listed in this unresearched profile. There’s a discrepancy with Martha’s age. If Martha Patricia was born in 1838, she would have been 12 in 1850, not 18. And where’s Burnetta?

So, I’m uncertain who William H. Silcox’s parents are. His mother appears to be a woman named Sarah, but are Mary Sarah Pitts and Sarah Sylcox the same woman?

It’s possible a couple of good DNA matches could shed some light on this except that it’s very possible that all these Silcoxes are related in any case. There are also intermarriages amongst the small population of Northwest Florida and South Alabama in the 1800s that would make confirmation difficult.

If you’re reading this because you’re researching the Silcox family, I would love to hear from you! Please leave a message below.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a challenge created by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow to encourage family historians to write about their own history, their discoveries, and their brick walls. It’s open to anyone who wants to participate.


While going through the profiles on FamilySearch to write this post, I messaged a woman who had made some changes. I never hold out much hope. Oftentimes, the person never responds, or if they do, they don’t remember why they happened to be on that profile that day and made that particular change. This time, I hit the jackpot. She has some connections to the Silcox family in her tree and has been including them in her research for more than three decades. She emailed me detailed Family Group Sheets that include an amazing array of sources. So, I am uncertain no more! Well, on this particular family anyway.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Tombstone

This week’s #52Ancestors prompt is “Tombstone.” I decided to share several of my favorites.

Stevens Cemetery Plot, Clopton Cemetery Pensacola

Stevens Cemetery Plot, Clopton Cemetery, Pensacola










These are probably the first graves I ever visited. My great-grandmother, Mollie Elizabeth (really Mary Elizabeth) Pittman Stevens died when I was about a year and a half old, and I came home to Pensacola with my mom for her funeral. I don’t really remember this but I know it. Over the years, I went with my mom and/or my maternal grandmother to the Stevens plot at Clopton Cemetery many times to clean up the plot. Also buried here are Mollie’s husband, James W. (Billie) Stevens; her brother Thomas E. Pittman, who never married; and Mollie’s youngest daughter Nellie Mae Stevens Nobles, who died during her first pregnancy.  The Stevens line is one of my brick walls; I know Billie’s father’s name was William A. Stevens (or Stephens, which is how it’s spelled on his parents’ marriage record), but I can’t figure out who his parents are.

Arminta Alice Stephens Cooper - Cooper Cemetery, Baldwin County, Alabama

Arminta Alice Stephens Cooper – Cooper Cemetery, Baldwin County, Alabama

My first genealogical field trip took me to several graveyards in Baldwin County, Alabama. I photographed my 3x Great-Grandmother Arminta, wife of John J. Cooper, is buried at the Old Cooper Cemetery (on Old Cooper Cemetery Road). How nice of them to put her maiden name on the marker – except that it’s wrong. During my research, I found that Arminta’s mother married Daniel McKenzie when Arminta was about 3 or 4 years old. I don’t know that he ever formally adopted her, but he was clearly the father of her heart, because her own was gone so early in her life. Her birth name, found on other records, was Stephens. Arminta is one of my brick walls. I know who her mother was, and I have identified her father’s family to a certain extent, but I have never found his name.  I would like to know if these Stephens are related to my other Stevens!

Dr. Mae Cooper

Dr. Mae Cooper

I used to watch “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” never realizing that I had pioneering women doctors in my own family, although neither are direct ancestors. One of them was Dr. Mae Draper Cooper. She was one of Arminta Coopers’s daughters-in-law. I’ve found just a few brief mentions of her in Baldwin County newspapers, but no details about her practice or where she learned medicine, which I would dearly love to know.

Each week, genealogist Amy Johnson Crow provides a prompt intended to inspire others to write about and share their family history. #52Ancestors is open to anyone who needs or wants a little push to share their genealogical findings, and you can join in at any time.

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#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Travel

I traveled a lot growing up. I was born in Spain, lived in Seattle and San Diego, started school in Scotland (aged 4). While living in the UK, my grandmothers flew over and we spent 30 days touring Europe. I attended at least seven elementary schools. Two junior highs and two high schools. My parents bought a travel trailer, later a motorhome, later a bigger motorhome, and we went to Good Sam campouts and “Good Samborees” all the time. My mom reminds me of the time when I was little and she said, “Look at the mountain,” or whatever it was, and I said, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”

Bill and Auriette Hahn in Mexico (1966)

Bill and Auriette Hahn in Mexico (1966)


As an adult, my mom and I drove Interstate 10 from Florida to Las Angeles, because I wanted to attend the 10th Anniversary Star Wars Convention. Driving was cheaper than flying and she didn’t want me to go all that way alone. I was 21. On the way, we crossed the border into Juárez, and we stopped at a tourist trap that advertised for miles. (“You must see The Thing!” the billboard exclaimed, and so of course, I couldn’t pass it by.) We drove through Saguaro National Park and I took pictures of every cactus we passed. No more, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”

Doing family history research makes me realize how easy we had it on all our travels. I can’t imagine leaving the old country, sailing for weeks on a ship, and landing in a strange new place. I’d seen pictures and film of the Grand Canyon before mom and I stopped there on our 1987 trip. They couldn’t do it justice, but I had an idea. What must those early travelers have thought to see it for the first time?

Most of my family settled in the South. The road from the Carolinas through Georgia to Florida and Alabama would have been long and hard. When they arrived to homestead on their land grant, they had to cut down trees, clear stumps and rocks, build a house from the ground up.

One of the late arrivals to Florida were my great-grandparents Arthur Thomas Cook and Dorcas Elizabeth Allison. The Allisons had traveled by train from Georgia to Oklahoma. The story is that their mother, Delila Bruce Cook, was killed in a train wreck on the way. Their father S. John Allison died soon after, from grief. Dollie would have been about 14 at the time. Her brother James Frank Allison about 16. The children – at least the older ones – returned to Georgia. Dollie married Arthur, and they moved to Escambia County, Florida, about 300 miles southwest of their home in Marion County, Georgia. I’m not sure how they got down here – by wagon or train or stagecoach.

Zenova and Auriette Hahn arriving in New Mexico (1966)

Zenova and Auriette Hahn arriving in New Mexico (1966)

A great-great grandfather on another line – Origen Thompson – may have driven a stagecoach. The 1880 Census shows his profession as “teamster” and his sister-in-law Georgiana Hammond Thompson’s father ran a stagecoach station in Stockton, Alabama. I never imagined stagecoaches in the South; to me that’s an Old West image from cowboy movies.

When I was one year old, my mom, dad, and I traveled west by Mustang, of the Ford variety. Interstate 10 didn’t exist then — at least not all the way. Mom says we took Highway 98 – well known to me as a scenic route here in Florida – all the way to California, then drove up the coast to Seattle. We crossed into Mexico and stopped at souvenir shops and saw the redwood forest covered in snow, a journey of days and convenience that would, just a couple of generations earlier, been a months-long effort of danger and determination.

Auriette Hahn in the Ford Mustang looking at snow. (1966)

Auriette Hahn in the Ford Mustang looking at snow. (1966)

This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

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