Sunday, January 29, 2012

Samuel Erskine Gray-interesting man!

This is the house that my great-grandfather, Samuel Erskine Gray, built in Edgewood Grove in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1912.  He and Charles S. Hernly developed Edgewood Grove in 1911. This picture of the house had fascinated me since I took it several years ago.  I want to visit the inside and yard of this house!  That may be one of my 2012 genealogical goals for the year!  I would like to learn more about the house such as how much it cost to build and what it is worth now.  At the time that Samuel lived there, the address was 317 Potomac Avenue.  From Terre Haute city directories it appears that Samuel lived in the house from 1912 to 1938.

Samuel was an interesting man.  To family, he was known as "Dad Gray".  

Samuel Erskine Gray was born  on the 10th of August 1861 in Lost Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana on the National Road, about five miles east of Terre Haute.  He was the seventh of twelve children born to David Erskine and Isabel Malone Gray.  According to one obituary, Samuel was only able to attend school about three months each year until he began operating a small store, saw mill and grist mill.  In 1885, Samuel married Cora Carpenter Ferrel, daughter of William and Mary Amanda Carpenter Ferrel.  Samuel was 24 years old and Cora was 17 years old when they married.  A year after their marriage, their first child, Gladys Lorene was born.  Sadly, she died when she was nine months old.  A year later (1888) my grandmother, Lotta Nye was born.  Three more children were born: Harry in 1891, Fred in 1893, and Bertha Marie in 1896.  In 1899, Cora died of peritonitis, leaving Samuel with four young children.

From an obituary: 

“He was one of the organizers of the Central Loan Association in May, 1895, and from that date had served as director, appraiser, and at the time of death as vice president of this association, now know as the Central Federal Saving and Loan Association…”. 
 I am not sure that this information is accurate as I have found another article (from 1972) that relates the history of the bank and that article states that Samuel E. Gray was vice president of the bank in 1936.

Samuel was listed as the Postmaster for Terre Haute, Indiana from 1901 to 1910.  In 1907, he married Julia Etta Ferguson.  By this time, Samuel’s children were ages 21, 18, 16 and 13.  Lotta had graduated from Westfield College in 1907, shortly after Samuel’s marriage to Etta.

Again, from an obituary:

“On June 11, 1910, the Standard Investment Company was formed for the purpose of buying and selling real estate in the city of Terre Haute and vicinity.  Mr. Gray was a heavy stockholder in this company and served as general manager, treasurer, director and also President, and took a very active part in the company during its life.”

“He was a charter member and the second president of the Terre Haute Real Estate Board, now the Terre Haute Board of Realtors, which was organized May 4, 1916, beginning his term of office Jan. 1, 1918.  He was president of the Indiana Real Estate Association for the year 1930.”

As stated earlier, it appears that Samuel owned the home he built in Edgewood Grove until 1938.  In 1921, Sam bought thirteen acres in Owen County, Indiana on Jordan Village Road.  His son Fred had bought property there in 1919.  Sam built a small cottage there with screened in porches on three sides.  Guests slept in hammocks on the porches.  "Graybrook Cottage" was used as the family's vacation and week-end get-away.  My Dad spent many summers there as a child.  Fred sold his farm to his father, Sam, in 1926.  In 1932, The Gray Land Corporation was incorporated.  Sam and Etta moved to the farm around 1935.  His dream to build a lake in the valley was realized when it became a WPA project.  The dam was finished in 1938, and lots were sold.  In 1940, Sam built his daughter Lotta (my grandmother) a cabin on the lot she had chosen.  The original cabin (and outhouse) is gone now, but it was used by the family until 1976, when a new cabin was built on the lot.  Today Sam's great-great-great grandchildren enjoy time at Lake Graybrook in the summers!  That is quite a legacy that he left!

Sam lived at Lake Graybrook until his death in 1953.  He was ninety one years old when he died.  He outlived four of his five children.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hannah Kennison, daughter of John Kennison

Last week I wrote about James A. Ferrel, whose parents were James and Hannah Kennison Ferrel.
I decided to renew my search to learn more about Hannah Kennison. This has been a difficult search because Hannah married James Ferrel in 1789, had four known children and then she died between 1795 and 1800. There are few records for women that early.  I have worked on this off and on over the years but have never found anything that was promising-just the names of John Kennison and Abraham Kennison in Jefferson County Kentucky tax lists during 1789, which is when Hannah and James married, also in Jefferson County, Kentucky. 

So with my renewed search I found a court record of John Kinnison of Jefferson County Kentucky in April 1788, appointing his friend Abraham Wells of Nelson County as his attorney.

John and Abraham Kennison were listed in the 1789 tax list for Jefferson County, Kentucky.

I searched for some census records and found the following:

1810 Jefferson County Kentucky Census:
John Kinnerson           1male under 10           1 female under 10
                                  1 male 16-25               2 females 16-25
                                   1 male over 45            1 female 26-44
                                                                      1 female over 45

This is the earliest census reading that I have found in Jefferson County for the name Kennison (or close versions to that).  

While searching the Family Search website, I came across Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979.  I searched for Kennison in Jefferson County and found the following:

Hannah Kennison married James Terral                   1789                parent: Jno. Kennison

Sarah Kennison married James Adams                    1791

Isaac Kennison married Ann Buniss                         1792

Jermious Kinnison married Elizabeth Cox                May 1796

Temperance Kennison married George Rice            8 Mar 1802

Amelia Kennison married John Plaster                     29 Jul 1802     parent: John Kennison

Nancy Kennison married Elijah Cochrane                15 Jun 1815    parent: John Kennison

This was a huge find!  The record gave Hannah’s father’s name!  Her father was John Kennison! (Notice that James Ferrel’s name was listed incorrectly-if I was only searching for James Ferrel I would never have found this record!).  My first assumption was that Amelia and Nancy were sisters to Hannah, since their father is also listed as John Kennison.  But I need to keep in mind that Hannah may have had a brother named John who could be the father of some of the above named.  For now I have them listed as sisters of Hannah, but more proof is needed.

John Plaster (married to Amelia Kennison) is listed in the 1810 and the 1820 census’ of Jefferson County, Kentucky.  It appears that he had about four sons and four daughters, based on those census readings.

Elijah and Nancy Kennison Cochran are listed in the 1850 Jefferson County, Kentucky census:

1850 Jefferson County, Kentucky Census:
Elijah Cochran         66  VA
Nancy                     49  KY
Nancy                     16  KY
Rice                        15  KY
Temperance Burk    27  KY

This census reading leads me to believe that Rice Cochran may have been named after George Rice, who married Temperance Kennison in 1802.  My guess is that the Temperance Burk listed in the census reading is a daughter of Elijah and Nancy Kennison Cochran.  This leads me to believe that Temperance Kennison Rice was probably also a sister to Hannah Kennison.  Temperance Rice is listed in the 1850 Jefferson County Kentucky census as age 63, born in Virginia, living alone.

Interestingly enough, I have also seen an undocumented listing of a marriage of Amelia Kennison Rice marrying John Plaster.  So there is the possibility that Amelia was married to a Rice before she married John Plaster.

I have not been able to locate any records on the other Kennison's listed in the above marriages.  That needs to be an on-going search.

I am quite happy to have learned what I have with this renewed search: Hannah Kennison's father was John Kennison, and she had two possible sisters-Amelia and Nancy.  It also appears that Temperance Kennison may have been a sister to Hannah. 

Hannah Kennison married James Ferrel in Jefferson County, Kentucky 3 August 1789 and they had four known children:

1)     Unknown male Ferrel who married Sophia Reagan.  They had one known child: John James Ferrel, born in 1822 in Indiana.
2)     Samuel Ferrel who married Eleanor Graham in 1824 in Vigo County, Indiana
3)     Andrew Ferrel who married Susannah Colyear in 1813 in Franklin County, Indiana.  Andrew is listed in the 1820 and 1830 census’ for Vigo County, Indiana and appears that he had five daughters
4)     James A. Ferrel, was born in 1795 in Lexington, Kentucky.  He married Martha Dickerson in 1814 in Butler County, Ohio.  They eventually settled in Vigo County Indiana and had thirteen known children. (these are my great-great-great-great grandparents)

It appears that Hannah died between 1795 and 1800.  It is not known where Hannah died.  James Ferrel remarried in July of 1800.  He married Rosanna Ray in Hamilton County, Ohio.  Hannah’s four children were all under the age of ten when she died, so Rosanna immediately became a step-mother to those four children.   James and Rosanna went on to have seven more children. The family was living in Vigo County Indiana by 1820.

I am fascinated by this family and will continue to look for more information on the Kennison family.  Hopefully, over time I will have some updates for this search!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

James A. Ferrel-Soldier, Reverend, Farmer, Husband, Father

I chose James Ferrel as my first of the year history for two reasons. One is that his picture is probably the oldest picture that I have of any of my ancestors.  And second, I am fascinated by the obituary that has been passed down through the family.  No one knows where it came from , but my guess is that it was written and published through the Methodist church.  Perhaps they had a publication that it was published in.  Since he died in 1864, it would have been a very old publication. 

James A. Ferrel was born 4 April 1795 in Lexington Kentucky to James and Hannah Kinnison Ferrel.  It appears that he was the youngest of their four children.  His father later married Rosanna Ray and they had seven children.  James A. Ferrel served in the War of 1812.  He enlisted in Butler County, Ohio in December of 1813 and was discharged 1 February 1814 as a teamster under Jenkins in either the Kentucky or Ohio Militia. Later that year, in Butler County Ohio on the 15th of August in 1814, James married Martha “Patsy” Dickerson, daughter of Walter and Penelope Heaton Dickerson.

The first three of James and Martha’s children were born in Ohio.  Eleanor was born in 1815, Mary was born in 1817 and Elizabeth was born in 1818, all in Butler County, Ohio.  Before 1820, the family, along with James’ father and siblings, had moved to Vigo County, Indiana.  The fourth child, James, was born in 1820 in Vigo County, Indiana.  The family of James Ferrel is listed in the 1820 Vigo County Indiana census, showing one son under age ten and three daughters under age ten.

The next two children of James and Martha are recorded as having been born in Butler County, Ohio, indicating that the family had moved back there after 1820.  Martha Ann was born in 1822 and Walter Dickerson Ferrel was born in 1824, both in Butler County, Ohio.  The History of Vigo County states that “Walter was born in Ohio where his parents resided until 1825, when they returned to Vigo county”.

Upon the family’s return to Vigo County, Indiana, daughter Nancy was born in 1826, and daughter Sarah Ann “Polly” was born in 1828. 
A piece from "When Terre Haute Was Young"-a series of articles from the Terre Haute Tribune by A.R. Markle, Volume I about taxes showed that "James Ferrill, Jr. had 127 acres just east of Riley and a horse;" (1828). 

According to family tradition passed down, James was a Methodist preacher who traveled around on horseback.  From Methodist records found, this seems to be accurate.  James Ferrel Jr. is listed as attending the 2nd Quarterly Meeting Conference for Carlisle Circuit held at the house of John Jackson on the 31st day of January 1829. 

James was listed in the 1830 Vigo County Indiana Census with two sons and six daughters.  James’ brothers, William and George are listed as living close by the family.

The next ten years brought more children: Cynthia Ann was born in 1830, but sadly she died in 1833, the same year that Rose Ann was born. Daniel Dickerson was born in 1836, and Lurina “Lou” was born in 1839.

James was listed as present at the Terre Haute Circuit held at Pleasant Hill Schoolhouse April 22nd 1837 and at the Terre Haute Circuit held at Herringtons neighborhood, September 16th, 1837.

James is listed as present at the Terre Haute Circuit held at Pleasant Hill Schoolhouse in February 1838 and at the Camp Ground on the 28th of July 1838.  He was listed as present for Terre Haute Circuit on the 6th day of October 1838.  James’ son Daniel died in October of 1838.

In the Minutes of the fourth quarterly Conference of Terre Haute Circuit held at Mount Pleasant Meetinghouse on the 28th of September 1839 James Ferrel was “severally examined, approved and their license renewed except George W. Creel his license were not renewed.....except H. D. Lee who was released by his Consent. JAMES FERREL was appointed Circuit Steward in place of H.D. Lee........Infants Baptised: Lovina Ferrel...”

The 1840 Vigo County Indiana Census shows two sons and five daughters with the family.  In 1843 William Henry Harrison Clay Ferrel (my great-great grandfather) was born, the last child of James and Martha Ferrel.

James was listed as present at the Terre Haute Circuit held in the house of Samuel Hull on the 26th day of June 1841 and at the
quarterly meeting conference for Terre Haute circuit Indiana conference held in the Union meetinghouse Otter Creek on the 4th of September 1841. Minutes of the first quarterly meeting conference held at Bethel meetinghouse December 28th, 1841 state that James Ferrel’s license was approved and renewed, and James Ferrel was released from his Stewardship.

The 1850 Riley Township, Vigo County Indiana Census shows James and Martha (listed with the surname “Feurl”) with children Rose Ann, Lurina and William.  James is listed as a farmer.  In 1851, daughters Nancy and Elizabeth died, daughter Martha Ann died in 1857, and then in 1859, daughter Eleanor died.  All four daughters were married when they died.  Three of the daughters left young children.

In 1860, James and Martha are still listed in Riley Township and James is listed as a farmer.  Lurina (listed as “Norma”) and William are living with them, as is granddaughter Martha Sanders.

Estelle “Bess” Elizabeth Ferrel, granddaughter to James and Martha, wrote in a letter that James Ferrel “...died Jan. 10, 1864.  The war was on at this time and he wanted to see his son, so he went down South and they had a visit together and that was the last, for he died soon after." [the "son" is William HH Ferrel, who was serving in the Civil War at the time].

James was sixty-nine when he died.

From an obituary handed down (source unknown):

FERRIL-James Ferrel was born April 4, 1795 near Lexington, KY.

At the age of two years his parents removed to Warren co., O. where he was married by Rev. J.  Sirange to Miss Martha Dickerson, Aug. 16, 1814, and where he resided till 1820.  The same year he removed to Vigo co., Ia, and was instrumental in causing to be held the first religious meeting in the county.  He was a classleader six years, and was then licensed to exhort, and continued to act as a faithful Christian in both these capacities till his death, Jan. 10, 1864.  During his sickness he was heard to say that he never expected to die, but that he expected the breath would leave his body and he would exchange worlds; that he was at peace with his God and that his only desire to live was to see how this rebellion terminated, and to see his two sons who are in the army.  He had great confidence that the Lord was with him and that he would die in grace, for which he had so long prayed.  His loss is not only felt as a parent and citizen, but as a Christian and patriot, and will long be remembered and revered as such.
                                              JNO. CASMEL"(name unclear)

James and Martha are buried at Dickerson Cemetery in Terre Haute, Indiana.  James and Martha had thirteen children; six of the children died before James.  Martha died in 1877, at age seventy-nine. 

Another resolution

I have decided to try to write brief histories about different ancestors for my blog.  My purpose is self-serving.  By writing these stories I am forced to re-check my research, and possibly find new information in the process.  And then too, there is always the off-chance that a descendant/family member will come across the blog and be able to offer more information!  My first attempt will be published today!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another New Year

I just looked at my blogging over the past year...only 3 posts.  That is disgraceful!  And what is funny, is that after about 17 years of doing genealogy, I still spend about an hour a day working on genealogy!  So, it's not as if I am slacking off there!  I really am going to try to do better.

Looking over the past year, there were some good finds, good contacts made and, in general, I have felt quite good about how my research has been going.  One of the best things that I did in 2011 is to go to my first genealogy workshop.  It was held in Springfield, Illinois (in September, I believe) and was a day put on by  It was very affordable and since Springfield is only about 90 miles away, I took the opportunity and drove myself there.  Yes, I attended it all by myself!  And I had a great time!  It was interesting...I have used for years and there was still much for me to learn, or at least, review. I also enjoyed visiting the different vendors set up there.  The day was well worth my effort.  I will be watching for more workshops to attend.  I just wish that I had a genealogy friend to share it all with!

I also contacted GenSmarts to see about getting it on my computer.  I had purchased it a number of years ago and when I got my new computer two years ago, I forgot to have it put on.  The people I contacted were extremely helpful and I had no problem getting it back on. 

Now I am thinking about this new year and what I would like to accomplish in genealogy terms.

Today I updated to RootsMagic 5, so I will be spending some time exploring that, seeing what is new and different.  I also installed Personal Historian and will see if I find it helpful or not.

I make it a habit to check at least every other day, both to check the Recent Activity and to check on Hints.  Both have been invaluable to my researching.  I also plan to start using GenSmart to help with my research.

One of my goals for 2012 is to edit my Sources in RootsMagic.  When I began doing genealogy, I was not as good about how I listed sources as I would have liked and now I find myself constantly correcting them when I am entering information.  A couple of things that I am working on with that is editing duplicate sources and editing how I listed places.  Early on I would list a source as Peoria, Peoria Co., IL".  Now that drives me crazy.  I want it all spelled out as: "Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois".  So that is going to take some time to get it all corrected.

I also want to keep up better with checking my Problem List in RootsMagic.  I spent a lot of time working on correcting all of it last year, so I want to periodically check it and not let the list get too overwhelming again.

I know that these goals sound like kind of mindless maintenance tasks (and they are to some extent), but I try to be mindful of when someday (hopefully in the far, far distant) someone else will be taking over my database.  I want it to be in good working order!

I had lunch with a friend several weeks ago who was enthusiastically encouraging me to publish some of my family history in order to give it to the appropriate local libraries.  That is playing around in the back of my mind.

Meanwhile, I am going to try hard to keep better track of what I am doing and writing more about my genealogical activities in this blog.  I know that I often get good ideas from other when I read other blogs and hopefully, I can help someone else also!