Monday, November 29, 2010

100th Edition of COG - There's One in Every Family - The Baby Daddy Ancestor Who Skipped Town!

Submitted for the 100th Edition of Carnival of Genealogy - Topic "There's One in Every Family

Grandpa Sherman, you sure have led me on a merry chase!  When I first caught the genealogy bug in 1993, I asked my maternal grandmother about her family.  She told me a story about her mother’s father, Sherman Banks that had my eyes rolling.  It seems that Sherman had courted her grandmother, Sarah Eva Talley in Wabash County, Illinois in the early 1890’s, they married (maybe), had a daughter (her mother Charlotta Ruth Banks) and due to hard times he left for California to earn his fortune.  He was supposed to send for them once he was settled and making money.  According to Grandma, Sherman did quite well, became rich and even became the mayor of Los Angeles!  Now I am quite a skeptic (I get that from my father’s side of the family), but I loved my grandmother dearly and didn’t want to hurt her feelings so went along with the story.  Evidently unknown things happened and they were never able to join him and all contact with him was lost.  He and Sarah Eva divorced and she went on to marry Frank Bruce and have four more daughters in southern Illinois.  Sherman was never heard from again.

This was pre-Internet days when I first heard this story, but I was able to track Sherman to Los Angeles using census records.  His beautiful daughter Charlotta was born in 1895 and I don’t know when or why he left Illinois, but I suspect it was to escape the binds of marriage and fatherhood. 
Charlotta Ruth Banks Age 9

I found Sherman in Los Angeles living in a hotel in 1900 at age 29 working as a motorman.  In 1910 he was living with his wife Katherine and her family, and listed his occupation as policeman.  His marriage was listed as his first marriage which I was beginning to believe was true.  His former love interest Sarah Eva who had married (remarried?) Frank Bruce listed her marital status on the 1910 Randolph County, Illinois census as her second marriage.  I have never been able to find a marriage record in southern Illinois for Sherman and Sarah Eva.  Additionally, when I requested Charlotta’s birth record it listed her father’s name as Banks and her mother’s name as Talley, not her married name.  All the other entries on the page listed the mothers’ married names, then their maiden names.  My grandmother was a very proper woman who was always concerned about what other people would think and she would be mortified with me for telling this story; she would also vehemently deny every word of it.  When I discovered this information I was not about to break the news to her that her mother was born on the wrong side of the blanket!

Charlotta Ruth Banks Birth Record
Sherman was also found in the 1920 and 1930 census in Los Angeles still working in the humble, but noble profession of policeman – a far cry from mayor of Los Angeles!  In recent years I have found him in numerous Los Angeles City Directories listed as a Republican.  Just this year I was finally able to find his death date (12 Apr 1947) and ordered his death certificate.  I now know where he was buried (Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale, CA) and have requested a picture of his headstone through Find-A-Grave.  It appears that he and his wife never had any children.  How sad that he left his only child thousands of miles away in Illinois and never knew her and that she never knew him or what happened to him.  In 2005 my grandmother died and I flew home for her funeral.  I helped my mother and aunt clean out her apartment and among the many mementos she had saved, carefully stored in a small envelope, I was so excited to find this yellowed, torn and frayed note from Sherman to Sarah Eva which says:

                Mt. Carmel, Ill.  Sep. 12, 1891.  Miss Eva Talley, Kind friend I am coming up tonight and I will let you know so that you will look for me.  Yours respectfully, Sherman.

This broke my heart…. this note was the only thing my great-grandmother ever had of her father, no pictures, no mementos, no letters from him, only this short note to her mother and it had been kept all these years, first by her mother, then by her, and finally by her daughter.  Now it is in my hands.  Does this prove without a doubt that he was her father…  Do I believe without a doubt he was her father….yes.  Oh, Grandpa Sherman, what you missed out on!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - I'm Thankful for.......

I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my pets, that I can still get up every morning, and all of those that came before and paved the way for all of us. Thank you, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Surprise Grandfather - Gilbert Hayse

Ancestors can just pop up where you least expect them.   While on my annual visit to see my parents this summer, I asked my father to take me to the usual family cemeteries to take pictures of the ancestor stones I may have missed in the past.  Dad is pretty good about visiting these cemeteries to make sure that our family member headstones are kept up and he was in a talkative mood and told me some stories I had never heard as we drove around.  I also pointed out to him in one cemetery his great-great grandparents' stones and he was not even aware that they were his great-great-grandparents!

Family Farm in Bonnie, IL
As we left that cemetery he continued talking as we drove along the back country roads and showed me the sights including his old home site in Bonnie, Illinois which I was very familiar with - it was built by my great-grandfather Otis Green Wilson.   He then pulled into a small cemetery I had never seen before called Cubb Prairie Cemetery.   I thought I had heard of all the cemeteries in Jefferson County so I was pretty surprised.  We got out and walked around and I noticed a few stones with some familiar names, but they didn't really ring too many bells so I took a few pictures and we left.  When I got home to Florida I uploaded all the pictures I had taken and have gradually over the past few months been sorting and processing what I had taken last summer.

Just a few weeks ago, for some reason I was looking at my father's ancestry, in particular his 3x great-grandfather Gilbert Hayes (Hayse) and bells started going off in my head!!!  I opened up my photo program and sure enough, there was a picture of his headstone in Cubb Prairie Cemetery.  My mouth just fell open in shock that I had been standing there in front of that grave and didn't even realize who that was!  I have researched every cemetery in Jefferson County using the local genealogical society website and somehow have missed that.  It just goes to show that you  never know what you will find!

Now for a little background history - Gilbert Hayes born about 1783 North Carolina, married to Frances A. (unknown), came to Jefferson County, Ill from Rutherford County, TN with his wife and family sometime between 1840 and 1850.  His son John, was the father of my civil war great-great-grandfather George Washington Hayes who I discussed in a previous post.  Gilbert Hayse died 15 May 1854.  I can't wait to go back to Illinois next summer and take another look at that cemetery!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Thank You to All My Veteran Ancestors

I have quite a number of military ancestors from World War II all the way back to the Revolutionary War.  This is my thank you to them for making it possible for me to be born and live in this great country of ours.  I salute you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday's Child - Samuel & Josephene Hayes

My great-great grandparents George Washington and Margaret (Howard) Hayes were the proud parents of nine children, but sadly as often happened in those times, only three lived to adulthood.  Brutus, Bristol, Dollie and Ollie all born between 1866 and and 1872 died as infants and if there are headstones they have not been found.  Samuel died at age 2 and Josephene at age 6.  It is unknown how these six children died, and as parents of the twenty-first century we can only imagine the grief and horror of losing six children so young and tragically.  They are buried at South Hickory Hill Cemetery in Jefferson County, IL.

Samuel Carey Hayes (Son of George W. & Margaret)

Josephene Hayes (Daughter of George W. & Margaret)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - George Washington Hayes

George W. & Margaret (Howard) Hayes - South Hickory Hill Cemetery, Jefferson County, IL

Monday, November 8, 2010

Military Monday - George Washington Hayes - My Civil War Gr-Gr Grandfather

George Washington Hayes
Born 4 Jul 1841 Rutherford County, TN
Died 14 Oct 1927 Jefferson County, IL
Parents - John and Rebecca (Mathis) Hayes

George W. Hayes 1861

My 2nd Great grandfather enlisted as a Private in the 15th Illinois Cavalry on 10 Dec 1861 at the age of twenty, under the service of Col. Bacon, Company E, Capt. Hutchins.  In the spring of 1862, they moved with the army from Cairo up the Tennessee river to Fort Henry and later participated in the battle of Shiloh. In the spring of 1863, the companies were organized as the 15th regiment and during the following year did post duty and severe scouting. By expiration of term of service it was mustered out Aug. 25, 1864, and the recruits who were enlisted in 1862, were consolidated with the 10th Ill. cavalry.  They fought in the following battles:

5 Feb 1862 at Fort Henry, TN.
4 Jun 1862 at Hickman, KY.
29 Jul 1862 at Anthony's Lane, TN.
10 Apr 1863 at Greenville, MS.
23 Jan 1864 at Vicksburg, MS.
Fought on 21 Mar 1864.
Fought on 12 Apr 1864.
14 Apr 1864 at Helena, AR.
24 Jul 1864 at Atlanta, GA.
6 Aug 1864.
19 Oct 1864 at Trenton, AR.²

George mustered out on 26 Jan 1865 at Brownsville, Arkansas.  He was referred to as Big George although I am not sure why; his pension papers state that at enlistment he was 5' 6'' tall with light complexion, blue eyes and dark hair.  His occupation was farmer.  This picture was taken at the end of his service:

"Big" George Hayes 1865

After returning home to Spring Garden, Jefferson County, IL, he married Margaret Howard on 24 Oct 1865.  They had nine children, but sadly only three lived to adulthood, Lillie Dora (my great grandmother), Willie Arthur and Charles.  They later lived in the new town of Bonnie, IL, four miles southeast of Spring Garden, which was created when a rail depot was built there and George donated some of the land for the new town to be built.³ 

When George died on 27 Oct 1927 he was receiving $72 month in pension for his Civil War service.  In 1920 at age 79, "Declaration for Pension" papers filed state he suffered from "very poor eyesight, can hardly see his way, must be led most of the time if he gets away from the house.  Unable to dress or undress himself, requires aid in eating and dressing.  Very hard of hearing, can only hear loud sounds.  Very feeble.  Totally unable to do any kind of physical labor, bothered much with rheumatism."  When he died he was the last Civil War Veteran residing in Bonnie.

George Washington Hayes 1920's

¹ The Union Army, Vol 3.

²Historical Data Systems, comp.. American Civil War Regiments [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.
Original data: Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from the following list of works. Copyright 1997-2000
Historical Data Systems, Inc.
PO Box 35
Duxbury, MA 023.
³Personal family history and Wikipedia,,_Illinois

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