Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blackberry Wine-Good for What Ails Ya!

Southern Ladies Willing To Whip Up Some Blackberry Winepparently, our ancestors put a lot of stock in the medicinal properties of Blueberry wine.
I found this article in ...
The Daily Chattanooga Rebel (Griffin, Georgia) Sat, Jul 2, 1864 First Edition Page 2

We are informed that there are many ladies through the country, who would willingly manufacture Blackberry wine and cordial for Hospital use, if the government would supply them with the necessary quantity of sugar with which to do it.  The matter is worthy of the immediate attention of the proper authorities.  The berries are now plenty but will not last long.  A little energy displayed at this time in distributing sugar, would probably result in supplying our hospitals with a sufficiency of these much needed articles.

Lip Smackin' Blackberry Wine

I ran across this Lip Smackin' Blackberry Wine recipe in...
Weekly Raleigh Register (Raleigh, North Carolina) Wed, Jul 22, 1857 Page 4

Blackberry Wine.
--The Columbus Sun Says: There is no wine equal to the blackberry wine when properly made, either in flavor or for medicinal purposes, and every person who can conveniently do so, should manufacture enough for their own use every year, as it is invaluable in sickness as a tonic, and nothing is a better remedy for bowel diseases.  We, therefore, give the receipt for making it, and having tried it ourself, we speak advisedly upon the subject:
"Measure your berries and bruise them; to every gallon adding one quart of boiling water.  Let mixture stand twenty-four hours, stirring occasionally; then strain off the liquor into a cask, to gallon adding two pounds of sugar; cork it tight and let it stand till the following October, and you will have wine ready for use, without further straining or boiling, that will make lips smack as they never smacked under similar influence before."

I think at the very least, one may not be feeling any pain, so to speak, after they drink the blackberry wine. Apparently, it is good for many ailments. such as diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and to help prevent heart disease.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Y-DNA Adventures

My experience has been that finding out the results of any kind of DNA testing is a wonderful and fun adventure.  Y-DNA is different in that only males can be tested.  Women do not inherit their Father's Y-dna.  It is only passed down in a pattern such as this...son-> father-> father's father-> father's father's father-> etc., much like the family surname is passed down.

I am involved in three Y-DNA projects even though "I'm just girl".  In my case, I talked three male cousins that carry the family surname for each line into donating their spit and cheek scrapings to the cause. 

The Johnson/Johnston/Johnstone DNA Project

The first Y-DNA project I got involved in was the J/J/J surname project.  Since my Father was deceased and all of his brothers were also, I ask my first cousin, John Johnson if he would be a participant.  

As you might imagine, with a name like Johnson, the genealogy can become complicated because there are so many of them in the world.  Then, we had Johnsons marrying Johnsons.  My Johnsons helped us out quite a bit by appearing in court, and before judges and juries, for various misdeeds and crimes.  While they were appearing in court, etc., they were being written about in the newspapers.  They left quite a paper trail!  But still, we were only able to trace back to my 4th Great Grandfather, Hartwell Johnson 1782-1873, born in Virginia, died in Missouri, and then we hit a brick wall.

Since we have participated in the Johnson Y-DNA project, we have joined a small group within the project where our DNA matches those participants more closely than other Johnsons in other groups.  Each member has to submit a pedigree going back as far as they can.  John, my cousin, matches someone within the group that has a pedigree going back to Richard Johnson b. abt. 1730 VA, d. 1769 Johnston Co. NC, who was the son of Silvanus Johnson b. abt. 1676-1701 Essex Co. VA.  We know there is a connection, we just don't know how we are connected yet.  We are working on some promising leads in probate records, etc.

If anyone would be interested in testing in the J/J/J Y-DNA project, please see the links below.

Smith Official DNA & One Name Study Project 

The second Y-DNA project that I got involved in was Smith surname project. 

One would think that having a name like Johnson would be enough, but Daddy had to marry my Mama, who was a Smith. 

We have only been able to document back to my 2nd Great grandfather, Thomas H Smith, born 1820 in Tennessee.  It has been rumored that he died ca. 1860 in Arkansas, but there is no proof.

THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:
THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:

THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:
The Smith Y-DNA project is not as well organized as the Johnson Y-DNA project, in that it is not broken down into as small as groups.  I asked my cousin Kenneth Smith to participate in the project.  He is not my first cousin, but is the son of my Grandfather's first cousin.  It doesn't really matter as long as the Smith Y-DNA was carried down from son-> father-> father's father-> father's father's father-> etc.

So far, we haven't gotten a very good result as far as finding out anymore about our Smith line. Currently, Kenneth has only tested up to 37 markers.  Perhaps, we will get a better result when he tests for 67 markers.

If anyone is interested in testing for the Y-DNA Smith surname project, please check out the links below.  You don't have to be related to me, but you may want to find out more about your own Smith line. 

The Meek/Meeks Y-DNA Surname Project

The third and last (so far), Y-DNA project, I have involved myself in is the Meek/Meeks surname project.

My Dad's Mother was a Meek.  I was curious about the Meek line and it was kind of scrambled.  There were two Meek families in Arkansas at the same time. 

I asked my cousin Walter Meek who is my Father's first cousin to participate and he agreed.  So far, his results have confirmed that the group we thought we belonged is correct. 

We are still looking for more Meek/Meeks males to participate.  If you are interested, and are curious about your Meek family, please feel free to check out the links below.

I am very grateful to all of my male cousins that have participated in these Y-DNA projects.  They are not interested in the results as much as I am, but are willing to help the cause as far as furthering the genealogical research. Thank you John, Kenneth, and Walter!

THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:
THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:
THE Smith One Name and DNA project for Smith, Schmidt, Smyth, Smythe, Smidt and all variations, for all locations. - See more at:

Smith Official DNA & One Name Study Project
Smith Official DNA Project
Smith Official DNA & One Name Study Project
Smith Official DNA & One Name Study Project
Smith Official DNA & One Name Study Project

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fighting "Okies"

When the Okies came to California, they had it tough.  There is no doubt about it.  I'm not sure when signs like this first appeared.  I am sure it was probably after California residents were witness to an influx of migrant farm workers from Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, etc.  The term "Okie" was coined to describe the new residents.

According to the definition of Okie is...

a term used to refer to a migrant farm worker from Oklahoma or nearby states, especially one who moved westward during the Great Depression.
Usage  In historical contexts, Okie is usually used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting, implying that the migrant worker is homeless, poor, ignorant, and uneducated.

I found this letter to the editor written in 1944.
The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Thu, Mar 23, 1944 Page 24

Fighting 'Okies' 
Editor of The Bee--Sir:  I read in the want ad section that Emory L. Cauble had a six room home to rent, but specified he did not want to rent to "Okies."
Well, I do not get what he means by that.  Does he think he is better than an "Okie"?  After all, the boys they call "Okies", are fighting right next to the boys from California and doing a hell of a good job.         A SOLDIER
Fresno Air Base

The Okies were tough people.  They had to scramble to find work and crude shelter in an unwelcoming environment.  Did they survive?  Hell yeah!  They were Okies....Fighting Okies.  They did better than survive, they hung in there and began to thrive.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Moonshine and Prairie Dogs

For some reason, I have this fascination with the prohibition era.  I think it is because I know that some of my ancestors and Grandparents were moonshiners.

I ran across an interesting story when I was researching prohibition in an Oklahoma paper printed in 1921.  The story is about moonshine and prairie dogs. 

Prairie dogs are a type of squirrel.  They build complex tunnels that include separate areas for sleeping, going to the toilet, and even a separate area to be used for a nursery.  They live in large colonies and feed on grasses, roots, and seeds.   They tend to be very social little creatures.  They have a complex communication system that include different pitched barking sounds.  Prairie dogs got their name from settlers crossing the plains.  The settlers thought they sounded like dogs barking.

 Check out this article I found.
The El Reno Daily Democrat (El Reno, Okla.), Vol. 31, No. 5, Ed. 1 Wednesday, April 20, 1921
Prairie Dogs Soused  (By United Press)

Cheyenne, Wyo., April 20.--Wyoming prairie dogs are the latest victims of illegal booze traffic.  When a sheriff's posse visited the country west of Cheyenne recently in search of moonshine stills, members of the band saw staggering prairie dogs, unable to find the "front door" to their holes.  Investigation showed that several pints of whisky had been "cached" in various prairie dog holes and had been broken with the consequences of a spree in dog town.

These particular prairie dogs mentioned in the article above apparently, washed their grasses, roots, and seeds down with moonshine. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Easter Story

Easter in Poplar, CA
I remember as a child growing up in Poplar, CA that Easter involved coloring eggs, getting a new dress (usually made by my Mother), and an empty Easter basket with fake grass to go in it.

 We always celebrated at my Grandma and Grandpa Smith's house.  Their house at that time consisted of two rooms.  The front room which was used for their bedroom, living room, entertaining and dining.  Then there was the kitchen which was used for cooking, as a bedroom and for dining. 

Grandma and Grandpa had six children and ultimately had 30 grandchildren.  In the photo below, from left to right, is me (Helen), my Mother (Rosie Mae), and a bunch of my Clay cousins (Roseann, John Wesley, Monty Ray, and Gerald Lee).

We were standing in front of Uncle Don and Aunt Betty's trailer which was parked on Grandma and Grandpa's property.  Aunt Betty and Uncle Don had 3 girls for most of the time the grand kids were growing up, and then they had an oops, which was number 4.

Another thing I remember about Easter is that there was always a lot of cousins around.  One Easter, I guess we couldn't afford to buy the egg coloring kit.  Grandma had some purple food coloring, so all of our Easter eggs were colored purple.  We had the eggs because my Grandma had chickens.  Grandma used to sell some of the eggs that she got from her chickens, but at Easter time, she
would save some for us.

My Mom used to tell a story about how I came home from Kindergarten and asked if we had any eggs I could have to take to school for the poor kids.  My Mom laughed, and said, "Helen, you are one of the poor kids".  I guess I didn't realize how poor we were because we had eggs.

We were poor, but we had plenty of food even if sometimes it might have been mostly beans and potatoes.  Pinto beans and potatoes....two of my favorite foods to this day. 

I always looked forward to a new Easter dress, a new empty Easter basket, coloring eggs, going to church, waiting for the Easter Bunny to hide the eggs, hunting the eggs with all of my cousins, and having a big dinner.

We would usually have ham, mashed potatoes, pea salad, banana pudding, pies, and cakes for dinner.  Sometimes, we might have fried chicken and other vegetable dishes too.  Much of the food would have been raised by us and would have been considered "organic" by today's standards.  We were eating organic before organic was cool, out of necessity.  Lol

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Christ will come again.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

James Alfred Moses Meek

James Alfred Moses Meek
was born July 4, 1882 in Atascosa, Texas to Martha Favors Meek and Francis Marion Meek.  He was my Great Grandpa from my Dad's side.

James married Martha Leona Baze on October 11, 1902, in Durant, Oklahoma, when he was 20 years old.  They had one son and five daughters together.  See below, marriage photo of James and Martha.  When I first saw this photo, I saw my Father's (Lawrence Johnson, aka John) eyes,  My Dad looked very much like his Grandfather Meek with the same coloring.  Unfortunately, My Dad, John never got to meet his Grandpa because he passed away before he was born.
Their son, Martin Henry "Wesley" was born on January 7, 1904.  Their daughter daughter Avis was born in 1905 and passed away in 1906. Their daughter, Anna Mae "Annie" was born on October 17, 1905.  Their daughter Cora Lee (my Grandmother) was born on June 13, 1910.  Their daughter Martha Emily "Janie" was born on April 22, 1914.  Their daughter Lucille "Lucy" was born on July 2, 1918.  All of the children were born in Greer County, Oklahoma.

As you can see, James and his family lived in Greer County, Oklahoma for many years.  I found a couple of newspaper articles to indicate that he was active in his community and that the family received visitors from out of town.

Sometime after Sept 1918 when James submitted his registration for the military and the end of 1919, the family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma.

Please see copy of military registration below and another photo of him sitting down.  It provides a physical description of him.  He was of medium height and weight with brown eyes and black hair.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Uncle was a Turkey Thief!...or Just a Turkey?

Geez Uncle Harve!

Yes, my Johnson line definitely has some of the more interesting and wilder characters!  That is why I don't understand why Uncle Harve and his buddy didn't try to catch a wild turkey instead of one that was penned up.  Knowing Uncle Harve, he may have been drinking the Wild Turkey before he stole the turkey.

I was doing research on my family and ran across this article.  The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Tue, Sep 5, 1944 Page 27

Uninvited Deputies Interrupt Turkey Dinner, Arrest Two

Visalia (Tulare Co) Sept. 5 --Deputy Sheriffs Ross Cochran and L. K. Robinson invited themselves to a turkey dinner near Cullen and arrested M. C. Bryson, 53, and Harve Johnson, 36, on charges of stealing the fowl from the Bishop ranch in that area.  The men were lodged in the county jail and charged with petit theft.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

My Faver/Favor/Favors Line

The Faver Family
The surname Faver has undergone many changes in spelling.   The most common spelling in France seems to have been Favre or Faure, which are used interchangeably.  

Dionne, in his "Origins des Familles," says that the family name was adopted because of residence in Faure or Favre, a commune of Ardennes.  Many particularly ancient surnames developed in a similar manner, since it was almost inevitable that an individual or family, particularly of the property owning class, would be known by the area in which he or they lived.  And the surname Faure or Favre (now Faver) belongs in this category.  It is as well, one of the most ancient of French surnames.  

The Faver Clan's contributions to our country have been numerous, spanning more than two hundred fifty years since our Faver ancestors left France to come to a new land filled with challenges, hardships, and opportunities.  Our heritage has been one of which its descendants can be proud, and one which needs to be recorded for future generations.
The above is from the book "Favor and Kindred 1748-1990" written by Alma Yarbrough Carroll

John Faver

participated in the "Battle of Kettle Creek."  The battle either took place on John's property or was very near it. John Favor was my 5th Great Grandfather on my Father's side. He was born in Virginia in 1748 and married Mary Bolton in Virginia.  He came to Wilkes County, Georgia from South Carolina, with a wife and a 2 year old son.  He most likely traveled the Colonial Roads from Virginia to South Carolina to Georgia.  According to early maps and records, John settled in the Derbyshire District of Wilkes County about 8 miles west of Washington, Georgia. 

John was a patriot in the Revolutionary War. 

"Although the fighting of British and Patriots at Kettle Creek, February, 1779, was hardly more than a desperate hand-to-hand skirmish, its importance in determining the outcome of the American Revolution has been long overlooked.  It was in this Skirmish that Georgia was saved from complete capitulation to the British.  Savannah had been taken and Augusta, also.  Original Wilkes was the only part of Georgia which stood free.  The victory at Kettle Creek turned the tide in favor of the Patriots, rescuing Georgia and the South from British domination." -- (The Importance of the Battle of Kettle Creek by Janet H. Standard)Page 193, Roster of Revolutionary Soldiers in Georgia, compiled by Mrs. Howrd H. McCall, 1942, states "John Faver of Virginia served at the Battle of Kettle Creek and was granted land for his service in 1784.  He married in Virginia, Mary Bolton."
In the Soldiers at Kettle Creek -- Wilkes Dracoons listing compiled by Robert M. Willingham, Fr., John Faver, Christopher Irvine, Capt., and Laurence Bankston are included.  Kettle Creek Heroes, listed by Miss Eliza Frances Andrews and her sister, Met Andrews (Mrs. T. M.) Green, for the "Washington Forum" include John Faver.  (pages 48,50)The map pictured below was found in the estate papers of John Faver, Jr.  The map shows Kettle Creek land granted to John Faver, Sr. in Wilkes Coounty, Georgia in 1785.  This is where John Faver Sr.'s plantation was located

  I will write more later on John Faver and other Faver family members.  Many of them are well documented and there is a lot of history. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Legacy of Slave Holders

Wow!  I had no Clue Before!

I knew so little about our family background before getting into genealogy and having my DNA tested.  I knew the surnames of my Mom, Dad and Grandparents on either side and where they were all born.  I knew that they migrated from Oklahoma to California about 1940-41 and that they lived the life of poor Okies.

I always thought that my family would have been too poor to have any slaves.  I don't think my grandparents or parents knew very much beyond their own lives.  They were struggling to survive.

They worked in the fields picking cotton, hoeing cotton, picking fruit, or whatever else kind of field work they could get.  My Dad worked in the Orange shed in the winter and eventually, he made boxes for table grapes later.

When I found the first record that one of my ancestors owned slaves, I was in shock!  I had a physical reaction feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Then, I felt numb not believing it was possible.

Why did I have this kind of reaction?  As I mentioned, I just didn't think that my ancestors would have had the resources to have been slave owners because we had lived in extreme poverty.  Another reason is because I felt and knew that slavery was wrong.  I feel very strongly about it.

Am I at fault because some of my ancestors owned slaves?  No, but I still feel horrible about it.  Can I change anything?  No, I can't change anything about the past.  I do feel a burning desire to learn more about the slaves.  Who they were, what their names were, how they were treated, and what happened to some of them after emancipation, and where they are buried.

We can always do something about the here and now....