Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mildred's Memoir

Nora Mildred Roberts Smith
I recently acquired photocopies of a short "memoir" written by a Kirkpatrick cousin, Nora Mildred Roberts Smith. I met her a few times when I was very young, but I don't really remember her other than that I found her name kind of neat - she went by Mildred. It was a very different name and it was fun to say; it sounded quite regal! I will let Mildred introduce herself in her own words:

My name is Nora Mildred Roberts Smith. At the time of this writing [1977] I am seventy years old, and the only living descendant of the Roberts/Kirkpatrick family.

Columbus Benton Roberts (1862-1939)

My mother was Nora Mason Kirkpatrick and my father was Columbus Benton Roberts. They were married April 18, 1886. At that time my mother was 19 years old, and my father was four years older, 23. They were married in Gainesville, Texas. During the next ten years six children were born - Effie, Wayne, Lyndon Kirk, Cleo Inez survived, with William Martin and Leta only living one day.

The Roberts girls with their mother: Wayne, Effie, Mother (Nora), Mildred, Inez
Lyndon Kirk died of blood poisoning and lockjaw at the age of ten. He died at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, January 1, 1905. This was a very tragic time for my parents for Lyndon was the only boy, and according to their reports, was the 'apple of their life.'

The story of Lyndon's death came down through my branch of the family as well - though with a few additional details. My grandmother, Edna Claire Kirkpatrick Mott (Lyndon and Mildred's first cousin), was very close to Lyndon.  According to my grandmother the circumstances were even more tragic as the blood-poisoning came about through Lyndon burning himself with a new cap pistol he had received on Christmas morning which resulted in his death six days later on New Year's Eve. My grandmother always got a very alarmed look on her face if I was playing with 'caps' and would usually take them away from me.

Lyndon's gravestone reads: "O how much of love and joy is buried with our darling boy." Let's continue on with cousin Mildred's writing:

Two years after his death, I was born, February 10, 1907, in Bridgeport, Texas. The entire clan of Kirkpatricks were living in Bridgeport, Texas. My grandfather and grandmother [William Henry Kirkpatrick (1840-1908) and Mackarina Bridges Hunt Kirkpatrick (1841-1921)] my Aunt Lillian, Aunt Willie, Uncle Louis and their husbands and wife, and children.

My grandfather died when I was an infant, so I did not get to know him, but I did know my grandmother, in fact I was a favorite of hers, for in her words I 'was the only one who would listen to her!' 

Mackarina Bridges Hunt Kirkpatrick (1841-1921)

I will try to tell one or two of the stories she told me of her youth, and of the civil war days that she and my grandfather experienced.

As my grandmother told me, when the war between the states broke out, she was young (I think she said seventeen) [she was actually 20] and living on a plantation in Tennessee. They had a number of slaves (I don't know how many) and she said her mother - my great grandmother [Penelope E. Bridges Hunt (1813-1873)] would give the slaves supplies each day. My grandfather [William Henry Kirkpatrick] lived on a plantation also, with slaves, and they [the two plantations] were near enough for my grandfather to visit (and 'court,' as she said) my grandmother.

My grandfather's father [Anderson Kirkpatrick (1808-1887)] raised blooded horses on his plantation, and my grandfather owned a very fine horse, a jumper, on which he rode to visit my grandmother. He was a little young to enlist at the beginning of the war, but before it was over he was in it. [In fact, William Henry Kirkpatrick signed up almost immediately with Company K of the 18th Tennessee Infantry.]

Their respective plantations were raided, occupied, and finally burned by the Union soldiers. My grandmother said [the Hunts] fled to a small place on the edge of their property, and there they stayed until the end of the war. They managed to salvage some of the family silver, and they hid it from the soldiers under the hens' nests in a chicken coop. The Union soldiers would come by fairly often, and they would take whatever suited them. They were always foraging for food, and my grandmother said they had one hen left. The soldiers decided they would catch that hen. My grandmother's sister became very indignant, and she decided they would not catch their only hen, so she picked up a broom and chased the soldier that was chasing the hen, and every time he would bend over, she would swat him with the broom! My grandmother would chuckle then, and so would end that tale.

Another time, my grandfather came on a hurried visit to my grandmother. As the soldiers did come by frequently, they sent her younger sister to the top of the hill nearby to watch out for them. My grandfather's parents had suffered the same fate as the Hunts and their horses had been confiscated by the Union army, with the exception of my grandfather's horse. During this visit, my grandmother's sister [the lookout] ran to tell them the soldiers were coming, and my grandfather ran out of the house and jumped on his horse. The soldiers were in sight, and they spotted him and gave chase. My grandfather, knowing the area so well, jumped his horse over fences that they had to take down to get by - he was able to elude them and rode to safety.

And another time he was not so lucky, for he was captured and put in a prison camp. [William Henry Kirkpatrick was captured at the fall of Fort Donelson in February 1862.] However, while in prison, his father came to see him. When they shook hands, his father [Anderson Kirkpatrick] pressed a bill into his palm. With this money my grandfather was able to get different clothes, and one day they were marching in line, and he managed to step over the barrier. He then made his way to the railway station, bought a ticket and boarded the train for home. He had quite a scare however, for the C. O. [of the prison camp] boarded the train, and sat in the same coach with him. He was very afraid he would be detected. [The escape occurred June 20, 1862.]

A letter home from W. H. Kirkpatrick mailed from Prison Camp (May 1862)

Other tales I know concern [the Kirkpatricks'] life in Texas. After they arrived in Valley View in covered wagon, Mama said Grandpa Kirk built their first cabin (her words). Grandma Mack was pregnant, and that their only son, [Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick (1873-1951)] was born shortly afterward. Mama said very hard birth, due in fact to long wagon ride. They came from Arkansas where Grandpa had operated a General Store and ferry on a river.

After Louis's birth, they moved to Gainesville, where Grandpa bought and operated a two story "hotel." They served meals, too, And both Mammaw and Willie (her sister) acted as waitresses. That is where Mammaw met Daddy. Mammaw did not tell many tales. I think she wanted to forget some of them!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hietanen Reunion, June 2014

The 2014 Reunion of the Hietanen Family is scheduled for June 21. All descendants of Matti Uhmusberg Hietanen and Liisa Kristina Herttua Hietanen and their families are encouraged to attend. The gathering will begin at Concord Woods Nature Park, 11211 Spear Road, Concord Township, Ohio 44077. No end time has been scheduled, so that'll be pretty casual. Everyone should bring a dish for his or her immediate family and a dish to share.

I'll be attending this reunion. I'm really excited to meet family members I've never met, especially those who I've only corresponded with. And I'm looking forward to seeing family members who I haven't seen in a long time. See you in June!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'll Get to Scotland Afore Ye

Andrew Campbell & Mary Gemmell Campbell
One of my first blogs on here was about my Campbell ancestors and how I'd been unable to go back any further than my great-great grandfather Andrew Campbell who immigrated to the United States about 1870.

But thanks to a distant cousin, the Scottish census, and some superbly detailed record keeping in Scotland, I've been able to push back two more generations and fill in some interesting details, too.

The journey back begins with my great-great grandfather's baptism record showing his birth date of September 27, 1845 (which I knew from family records and his grave marker in Newcastle, Texas). The baptism certificate gives Andrew's father's name as John (which I had not known) and most importantly lists his mother's maiden name, Helen Ramage, which I had not known at all.

Baptism record of Andrew Campbell (October 19, 1845)

The baptism record also gives Andrew's place of birth as Clackmannan, which is also new information, though Clackmannan is very close to Dunfermline, which is where family stories said we were from. With the names of Andrew's parents, one finds their marriage took place January 13, 1845. And with that it is fairly easy to find the family in the Scotland census, which offers a wealth of information.

In  the 1851 Scotland Census John Camble [sic], age 26, and his wife Helen, age 28, were living at 110 Store Row at Forth Iron Works in Carnock. John was a coal miner. In 1851 they had three children: Andrew, age 5 (my great-great grandfather); Margaret, age 4; and Janet, age 2.

In the 1861 Scotland Census the family is living at 83 Blair Row in Carnock. The children are listed as Andrew, age 15; Margaret, age 13; and several new children: John, age 9; William, age 7; Alexander, age 2; and Thomas, who is two months old.

Birth Record of Alexander Campbell (1858)

You may have noted that the youngest child listed in the 1851 census, Janet, is missing. Alas, she is listed in the death registry for January 1859.  A final child, Catherine Campbell, was born to John and Helen in 1865.

My great-great grandfather Andrew was 22 when he married my great-great grandmother Mary Gemmell in 1867. Both list their residences as Blair Row in Oakley.  The certificate also gives me the names of Mary Gemmell's parents (my 3rd great grandparents), James Gemmell, a labourer, and Jean Stewart.

Marriage record of Andrew Campbell & Mary Gemmell (1867)

Now comes a bit of a surprise. According to the marriage record above, they were married on October 7, 1867. But in Mary Gemmell Campbell's obituary from March 15, 1930, we find a marriage date of October 16, 1866. Regarding the discrepancy between the date of the 7th versus the 16th all I can assume is the child that wrote the obit failed to recall the anniversary correctly. The mistake in the year is more interesting, and I suspect the couple pushed the date back a year as their first child, Jean Campbell [Hardy], was born March 21, 1868 - less than six months after the actual marriage date.

Jean Campbell Hardy was a prominent resident of Newcastle, Texas (where this obituary ran). She had married Samuel Hardy who had in fact named the town and developed and financed several of the coal mines in the area. I am not sure if even Aunt Jean knew she had been conceived three months before her parents wed (I doubt it), but it is more than good reason for a fudging of the dates.

Andrew and Mary had two children in Scotland before they emigrated to the United States in 1870. Jean was the first (born March 21, 1868), and I just found a birth record for their second child, John Campbell, born July 30, 1869, in Carnock. You can read more about the thirteen Campbell children  in this earlier post.

Catherine Campbell, the youngest of John Campbell and Helen Ramage's children, married John Forsyth on December 31, 1886. They went on to have at least seven children. According to the 1891 Scotland census, her father was living with them, age 66. Helen Ramage Campbell seems to have died before 1891 - but I can't find a source thus far.

My great-great-great grandfather John Cambell died of pneumonia a few months after appearing in the above census on November 16, 1891, aged 67. I'm sure his life as a coal miner contributed a bit, too, to his death. He was living in Dunfermline, County of Fife, when he died.

John Campbell Death Record (1891)

His death certificate (above) survives, and thanks to the superb Scottish record keeping, allows me to push back the Campbells one more generation still. The death information includes the names of his parents, (my 4th great grandparents) Andrew Campbell (another coal miner) and Janet Allan. I believe I have found their marriage record, too, showing they married May 13, 1820, in Dunfermline, County Fife, Scotland.

I am deeply indebted to Alex Johnston. He is a first cousin, twice removed of the John Forsyth that married my great-great-great aunt, Catherine Campbell. He supplied me with much of the information above. In exchange I was pleased to give him a good deal of information on what happened to my Campbell ancestors that came to the United States in 1870.