Saturday, September 2, 2017

Genealogy Vacation to Polk County Missouri and Nearby Areas

Searching for Ancestors and Their Secrets

A few months ago, we made a fact finding trip from California to Missouri to conduct genealogy research.  We also met up with some cousins, and friends that I have made through the years over the phone and online.


I met with my cousin Linda Ivy, face to face for the first time.  She and I both descend from Hartwell Johnson and his oldest son, Williamson Johnson.  We have been communicating for years through Facebook, Ancestry, and email.  We first met on Ancestry through our DNA.  We had a wonderful time together!

I also met with Mike and Mona Duby who are possible cousins from the Griffin side.  We had a ton of fun together too!

We all met at the Polk County Genealogical Society in Bolivar, MO, for the first time.  I also met Susan Sparks, the president of the society, face to face for the first time as well that same day. 


We  spent the day at the Society research center researching our ancestors.  During my visit to Missouri, I came away with some additional bits and pieces of family history to add to the files.  The folks at the Society are very helpful.  They have been assisting me with my research efforts from afar for several years.  Susan, has been especially helpful.


During this trip, I came away with the court records for the trial of my Great Grandfather, Virgil Eagleton Johnson and his cousin Loman Johnson.  I will not say at this time, what the trial what about.  Suffice it to say, that it wasn't for something that was frivolous. 


My Johnson line is one of the main reasons I named my blog, "Hell Raisers and Holy Rollers" although, I can't place all of the blame on them.  The Johnson Family were Baptist.  Back in the day, when they weren't being good Baptist, you can rest assured, they were raising some kind of hell.

I also came away with an obituary for the last one of Hartwell and Lydia's children to pass away.  In it, the person who preached at her funeral and wrote the obituary mentioned how close he was to the Johnson family.  He also mentioned the Johnson sons that he had fought with in the Civil war on the Confederate side.  Apparently, Leonard Johnson saved his life.  I will write about that and include the obituary at another time.

The Old Johnson Cemetery


We all met up in Morrisville, Cousin Linda, her husband Charles, Cousins Mike and Mona Duby, Lisa Ann (lives in area), and Frank and me. We proceeded to drive out to what used to be part of the old Johnson farm but now has a new owner.  It is my understanding that Hartwell's former farmland was split up and two different people own it now.  The owner that has the land with the cemetery on it, allows the Johnson descendants to visit it whenever they want to.  It is in the middle of a pasture.  The pasture was really overgrown, and we were a tad concerned that we might start a fire driving through it with our cars. Please see attached films of the caravan of cars.  Please note, we were the number two car in a caravan of four cars going there.  There are two other cars behind us.



Here are a couple of films showing us leaving the Cemetery with HJJR narrating.  That's me :-) 












Below are photos of gravestones taken in the Johnson Cemetery.  I would have taken more, but there were a lot of critters out there.  Charles and Frank cut down quite a bit of brush.  The cemetery is located in the middle of a pasture. 

 Hartwell's stone is flat on the ground and had been buried under over 100 years of dirt and debris.  That is probably why it is so well preserved.   The above photo was taken before it was cleaned.
 This photo was taken after Hartwell's stone was cleaned with water.
 Lydia's stone had been broken off of the base when a big storm came through.  We found it propped up against a log.
 These were the children of someone, but I wasn't able to make out the parent's names.




We finally found Hartwell Johnson's gravestone with the help of Lisa Ann.  I met Lisa on ancestry a few years ago on a message board and we have been in contact ever since.  She is writing a book about the area and is quite knowledgeable about the family history of various families in the area.

Above are some of the photos we took while at the Old Johnson Cemetery.  Some of the gravestones were difficult to read until they were cleaned.  I took jugs of water, gloves, and rags to clean some of them off with.

Below are several photos of historic and old buildings located in the town of Walnut Grove, MO.  My Great Grandfather, Virgil Eagleton Johnson was born in Walnut Grove.
                                                   










Hay!




Below are photos of the Brighton Post Office.  This is the very same Post Office that Hartwell Johnson used.  He sent and received many letters regarding his fight to obtain his pension from the War of 1812.  He conducted much of his business in Brighton as well, buying dry goods, etc.                                                    



We also visited many antique shops and a few historical sites while we were there.  Of course, we didn't have nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do.  I, at least will be back.  It reminds me of my hometown of Poplar, CA.  I love the people in Missouri.                                                                                                


                                                                    



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Evelyn Duvall Meek's Genealogy and Historical Books

Evelyn Duvall Meek


Evelyn is married to Walter Meek who is my Father's first cousin.  She has written several books about the places she has lived.  I would classify these books as Genealogy/Family History books.  As you read, you will find yourself caught up in the story.  Evelyn is a wonderful writer!

Evelyn's Woodville Story

Evelyn's Woodville story tells about how her family was struggling financially, often times not having enough to eat when they were living in Comanche, Oklahoma. She tells about their decision to move to California.  She also describes the trip from OK to CA and some of the experiences she had.  She tells the reader how her family moved into "Dewey Meek's Camp".  The Meek Camp was in the town of Woodville, CA.  It was a cotton laborer's settlement where people came and went depending on the work available in the fields.  Woodville is also where one of the Farm Labor Camps is located.

There are several other families mentioned in the book as well as the Duvall family.  This is a wonderful book that gives one a good idea of how the "Okies" had to live when they first came to California.

Evelyn's Poplar Story

From 1947 When we came to Poplar from Woodville to 1950


Evelyn's Poplar story describes the family's move from Woodville to Poplar.  She tells of living in a tent because they had to save money to buy the materials to build a house.  She talks about how life was in Poplar where many families were living in tents.  The reader learns about the bars and the churches in Poplar as well as the various families living there.  She mentions the Bunches, the Poseys, the Fred Smith family (my Grandma, Grandpa, Mother, Aunts and Uncles), the Kaisers, etc.  She describes the town and the culture of Poplar, CA to a tee.  This book is wonderful for anyone who has roots that go back to the central valley of California.                                              

                                              

Evelyn's Poplar and Boron Story

A True Story about the Duvall and Meek Families from 1950 to 1967

In the Poplar and Boron story, Evelyn tells the reader about how her Father finally got their house built and how excited she was about it. She tells about her rigid Christian upbringing, more about the people in Poplar, and having to work in the cotton fields.  She and Walter Meek got married and started having babies.  She talks about Ola Findley Meek and Wesley Meek (my Uncle).  Evelyn provides the reader with a lot of Poplar history and information about the families living there at that time as well as her own family.  She tells about the move to Boron, CA and what her life was like there while raising her children.  In this book she tells how my Mother and Father met and mentions my sister and me.  She describes my sister and me as...."They were beautiful, sweet little girls".
This is a great genealogy/history book!

                                                 





At this point and time, Evelyn and I are working with the LDS Family History Library-Donations, to donate her books so they will be available to everyone online for research.

I found these books to be invaluable.  While reading them, it took me right back to my childhood in Poplar, CA, how we lived and the people we knew.  Thank you cousin Evelyn!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Charles Paul Johnson

His Final Farewell-Entertaining as Usual

Uncle Charlie was the third child born to Lawrence Earl Johnson and Cora Lee Meek out of a family of five children.

Throughout his lifetime, he had several hobbies and interests.   He was a photographer, gold miner/panner (had his own claim), pot grower (always the entrepreneur), politician (ran for Mayor), genealogist, and these are just a few.  He was a fun loving guy who really enjoyed life and people.

He taught himself how to use a computer when he was in his late sixties.  He was very active on ancestry dot com, and responded to emails, etc. 

When he was dying from lung cancer, he had his sons, nieces and nephews drink a shot of whiskey to celebrate his life.  He also had one of his sons roll a joint for him.  He said he was going to smoke it but he wasn't in any shape to smoke anything.  He really wasn't a pot smoker but, I think he was wanting to use it for pain.

When he passed away, the family didn't have the funds to give him a funeral and burial.  My cousin Trish and I were trying to figure out how we could bury him.  We went shopping for caskets online, and did a lot of research.

He had already bought his burial plot in the cemetery up the street  next to Aunt Francis, his wife. 

I was thinking about using my van to transport him to the cemetery and my daughter was freaking out.  So then, I decided that I would rent a truck to transport him instead. 

Fortunately, his boys were able to come up with the funds to give their Father a funeral and burial.  So, in the end Trish and I didn't need to use any of our ideas.

While we were waiting for the people from the funeral home to come and get Uncle Charlie, we each took turns going into his bedroom to say goodbye.  His son Ed was running around looking for a crucifix for his dad.  Someone else put his favorite shot glass with him.
 

The attendees from the funeral home arrived after a while.  When they picked Uncle Charlie up to put him on the stretcher, the joint  that he never smoked fell out.  We all had a good laugh over that.  Uncle Charlie would have had a good laugh too if he were there.

Uncle Charlie was buried with the joint in one pocket and his favorite shot glass in the other pocket. The Crucifix is there somewhere too.  He would have gotten such a kick out of this!

We lost Uncle Charlie on January 11, 2013.  He had just turned 82 years old a couple of days before on January 9.

Good 'ole Uncle Charlie, always entertaining and good for a laugh.

Uncle Charlie as a young man










Uncle Charlie as a Biker
Uncle Charlie-right and Ed-left at the Claim
We miss you Uncle Charlie!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Family Skeletons

We have plenty of skeletons that are not too well hidden, so....
My family skeleton's will be making too much noise if they start dancing, there are so many! Especially the Johnsons!😈😉 Oh, and the Smiths! 😉 Oh, and the .... 😉
 

Civil War Battle of Port Hudson

From Port Hudson---Battle Expected

Intelligence, reliable and of the greatest importance, has been received from the front.  Preparations are being made by Banks' army which point unmistakably to an early advance.  Seventeen Mortar boats and sloops of war, and the Mississippi gunboat Essex, are now anchored at Baton Rouge.  Banks' force is thirty thousand.  Ambulances and litters are being prepared.  It is the opinion of the Military at this point that we will be attacked within a few days.  The utmost confidence prevails among boyh officers and men of our ability to defeat the enemy.  The report that our pickets have been driven in is unfounded, but an immediate advance is anticipated.  The latest information confirms the dissatisfaction in the Abolition ranks.  It is reported that Banks is opposed to the attack, but has orders from the War department. 

Battle of Port Hudson: Conflict & Dates:

The Battle of Port Hudson lasted from May 22, to July 9, 1863 during the American Civil War. 
The Union was under the command of Major General Nathaniel Banks with about 30,000 men.
The Confederate soldiers were under the command of Major General Franklin Gardner with about 7,500 men.

Taken From:

http://pth.thehardyparty.com/soldiers.htm


Confederate Soldiers Who Served at Port Hudson
(Includes Soldiers from AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, TN, TX, and Staff/Misc. Units)

 



The Siege

The siege period was a progressively miserable period for the Confederate soldiers inside the fortress.  They had no source of outside supply, and food, ammunition, and other essentials were consumed rapidly.  As the siege went on, they ate the horses, mules, dogs, and even the rats to survive.  They were subjected to constant bombardment by Union artillery ringing the garrison, and from Farragut's ships on the river.  Many were killed or wounded by sniper fire from Union troops, who were approaching ever closer to their lines by digging trenches, or "saps".  In spite of these hardships, they held out and kept the Federals at bay.  With little chance of rescue by other Confederate forces, their situation was ultimately hopeless.
The Union troops also suffered greatly during the trench warfare of the siege.  Most were unaccustomed to the summer heat of Louisiana, and a large number of these men became ill and died, or were disabled.  Over 4,000 Union soldiers were hospitalized due to sunstroke or disease during the fight for Port Hudson.  They were also subjected to constant sniper fire from the Confederate sharpshooters, which took a terrible toll.  Morale was low among the troops.  Many of Bank's regiments were made up of men who enlisted for only nine months, but they were held over until Port Hudson surrendered, causing much dissention in those regiments.



General Banks planned another all-out attack for July 11.  On June 15 he had called for a thousand volunteers to form a storming party, known as the "forlorn hope", which would serve as the spearhead for the coming assault.  The approximately 1000 volunteers had been pulled from their regiments and formed into a unit, to train for their coming assault.  Union soldiers had dug tunnels under the Confederate fortifications and planted large mines which were to be exploded at the beginning of the assault, giving the storming party an avenue to rush into the fortress.  But Vicksburg, under siege since May 22nd, fell on July 4th.   Banks received the news on the 7th, and the Confederates quickly were told by shouts from Union soldiers.  But General Gardner wanted to see proof.  When Banks showed him the dispatches from Vicksburg, he agreed to surrender.  The 48 day siege, the longest in American history, was over.  Banks agreed to parole the Confederate enlisted men, but sent the officers to prison.  Of the prisoners, 5,593 were paroled and some 500 sick and wounded were retained in the hospitals.  General Gardner reported his casualties as 200 killed, between 300 and 400 wounded, and about 200 died from sickness.  Only about 2,500 men were fit for duty at the time of the surrender.

The battle was over and the Mississippi River was in the hands of the Union, and the Confederacy was cut in half.


Both my 2nd Great Grandfather Francis Marion Meek and his brother, James Monroe Meek fought in the battle of Port Hudson, were captured and paroled.



Francis Marion Meek


Francis Marion Meek was my paternal Grandmother, Cora Meek's Grandfather. 
Francis M Meek military record.
Record of Release as prisoner captured at Port Hudson



James Monroe Meek (Francis'  brother) was born April 5, 1839 in Carroll County, Arkansas.  He was still single when he became a private in Co. E, Hill's Regiment, Arkansas Infantry (which later became Co. E, 16th Regiment, Arkansas Infantry). He was captured and released on parole at Port Hudson, Louisiana in July, 1863.  He died on May 9, 1864 of Civil War wounds. 

Mrs. Ona Twilleager recalls her grandmother, Mary Meek Parker, saying that one of her brothers “was shot through the tongue and couldn’t eat; they finally got him home and tried to feed him soup.”  This was apparently James.  He was buried in the (Meek) family cemetery, Carroll County, Arkansas.            
As documented by Larry J Gage, Houston, Texas