Saturday, July 31, 2010

A New Blog

I have begun a new blog called The JONES Surname. It is intended to focus on the JONES surname, its origins, history, and genealogy. For the history and genealogy folks it should help focus the discussion and provide more insight into the history of our surname and other Celtic surnames. I will continue to write my family's stories on this blog site for those who have enjoyed reading them.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Anyone with questions regarding the JONES surname or about doing genealogy please post. Would love to try and help.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My starting point

After successfully navigating the gauntlet of park benches that lined the walkway to the front of the Court House, you entered a long hallway. This was no ordinary hallway. The ceilings were 14-16 feet tall, the floor was marble, and you could barely make out the back exit being so far away. The hallway was lined with large white doors spaced irregularly down each side. Some doors had that milk-colored glass halfway at the top that would not let you see what was going on inside. Some doors had no glass at all, being all wood, but had one of those small, rectangular slanting windows that opened and closed by using a long metal rod that disappeared into the room behind. Some of the doors had large black letters, and some only had large black numbers painted on the outside window front. You sure had to know where you were going I thought! What struck me the most was that the hallway was empty of people. Occasionally you would pass someone leaving one door going to another, but compared to outside, this place was quiet.

Walking down the long, long, hallway, the last two doors on the left and right seemed always to be opened. Looking in to the right, you saw a large number of books stacked about the room in various metal contraptions that looked like flattened bookcases. Some stretched from floor to ceiling, and some stopped halfway up the wall. Some of these contraptions actually stood in the middle of the room with people walking around them. Each flattened metal shelf seem to contain a large book, often red in color, with large gold writing and numbers on the side. What mysteries did all these books contain?

The room on the left was somewhat different. It was lined floor to ceiling with narrow metal drawers. They were painted gray in color, each with a small rectangular label on the outside. In the room, there was one of those specialized ladders that had wheels and a platform at the top. This could be moved about and used to reach those drawers at the top. Inside each drawer were tightly packed, letter-sized records with names and dates written on the outside. What stories did these records tell?

Needless to say, a nine year old was easy to overlook. Most of those walking about must have thought I was certainly lost, or that I was waiting for an adult who was there checking some record. At any rate, I soon figured out that there were Deed Books, Marriage Records, Will Books, Tax Books, Military Records, Church Records, and Order Books. I was not sure what an Order Book was, but that understanding was yet to come.

Of course where do you start? I would take a book near the floor, which was much easier to manipulate, and open to a random page. The writing style was amazing to me...all the slanted, twisted letters with funny looking lines and squiggles. At places, it looked like some of my own doodling. Man I thought, I could get along with this guy.

It would take me several years before I could reach and lift the books higher up on the shelves. By that time it had become clear that an index was the secret key needed to open the stories and mysteries within all these books. Finding the index became my starting point.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beach Front Property

The world would never be the same after Christopher returned to Spain in 1492, having sailed the ocean blue. The new world powers that had a lot of beach front property recognized the need to build and maintain ships of all kind---trading ships, fishing ships, transport ships, and especially war ships. Thus began the first arms race.

Spain had a leg up on the others since they were willing to fund an adventure that bucked the going dogma of the day, that the earth was flat. Of course, Christopher thought he was actually going to Japan, known as the "Far East", by going West! Imagine that, heading the opposite direction you wanted to go and expecting to end up there. The French, Dutch, English, Swedish, and Russians certainly did not want to be left out of the colonizing business and started their own explorations using their own ships.

The French managed to slide down the St. Lawrence and name a bunch of settlements soon to be called Canada. They also managed to slip by the Spanish and settle a place at the mouth of the Mississippi called "New Orleans" after the "Old Orleans". The Dutch and Swedish focused their settlements along the upper coast of North America called "New Amsterdam" after the "Old Amsterdam". The English, fighting the Spanish all the way, split the difference between St. Augustine to the south, and New Amsterdam in the north, calling their new land "Virginia" after their unmarried, virgin queen, Elizabeth. Of course the Russians went down the other side of the Continent that didn't exist before Christopher stumbled into it, opening the doors to Alaska and the upper Pacific coast.

Besides "Gold" and "Glory", a major factor in driving this arms race, was "God"! Each country had settled into a religious warfare that sought to control the hearts and minds of those participating in this colony-building enterprise. Spain had become the defender of the Catholic faith and was rewarded by Pope Alexander VI who issued two international decrees (Papal Bulls) that all land west of a line running north-south through the Azores and Cape Verde islands would belong to Spain. [Somewhere between the 41st and 44th meridians west of Greenwich.] The land yet to be discovered lying east of this line would, of course, belong to another Catholic country, Portugal. These decrees were issued the 3rd and 4th of May, 1493, at request of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

The Protestants (English, Dutch, and some French) were left out in the cold, literally, since their only options were to explore northeast or northwest, freezing in the Arctic circle. Priests, ministers, pastors, elders, and all sorts of church leaders were involved in the planning and practice of this nation-building enterprise. This religious fervor would be a major driving force to many who were yet to come to these new lands. These forces continued to thrive even to the very building of our little town, Winchester, KY., Pop. 8,000.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

lost forever

You entered the front of the Clark County Court House from Main Street at ground level. Walking down a long hallway, without going up or down any steps, you exited the back of the court house from the second floor. First floor, second floor, boy you sure could get turned around in here. Getting lost was never a big problem for me. However, one of my biggest problems was not getting side tracked coming into the courthouse from Main Street.

Starting from the curb, there was an eight to ten foot wide sidewalk which stretched across the front. As you approached the entrance to the court house, which was centered in the middle of the block, there began a series of park benches which lined each side of a narrowing walkway. You had to go up several groups of steps to get to the very heavy front doors. In doing this you passed a gambit of folks who occupied the park benches which lined the walkway. There were whittlers, checker players, farmers, tobacco chewers, talkers of all kinds, and very few if any women. Of course I had to stop and watch the whittlers and checker players, but I was always a little afraid of the tobacco expectorate, for the spitters seemed to manage to hit a shoe or two of anyone standing too close.

To me, the most amazing activity was to watch someone roll their own cigarette. This was a real art and often the men who practiced this art, sat alone to demonstrate before all their own special techniques.

It began almost always from a sitting position by lightly patting your left shirt pocket with your right hand. I often wondered why you did this, because you already knew that the tobacco pouch and cigarette rolling paper was there, and besides you had already done this dance hundreds of time before. I guessed that it must have been to loosen up the ground tobacco that had some time to settle in the specialized tobacco pouch. Then reaching in the left pocket with your right hand, you withdrew the tan colored tobacco pouch which was bound tightly at the top by a yellow string. Using both hands you had to open the tightly bound top to just the right size opening. You then placed the pouch on your right thigh and withdrew, using your left hand, if you were good enough, only one rectangular sheet of bright white rolling tobacco paper. Now you were never quite certain that you could only draw out one sheet so you needed both hands free in order to separate any sheets that had gotten stuck. [static electricity would always cause a problem] Now, the most amazing part was that you held the paper on its bottom between your thumb and middle finger while your first finger pressed lightly down from the top. This would created a paper trough to receive the tobacco. With little attention paid to the tobacco pouch, you would take it from its resting place on your right thigh, bring it to the perfectly level rolling paper, and begin to sprinkle the tobacco onto the top of the paper trough. Now how much tobacco that got sprinkle was of course your personal choice. You then put the tobacco pouch to your mouth drawing the yellow string back to its very tight position. Most would then place the tobacco pouch back on their right thigh. However, if you were really good, holding perfectly level the white tobacco paper, filled with its row of tobacco, you place the tobacco pouch back in your left shirt pocket. Now the most important part was drawing the outer edge of the tobacco paper to your tongue, licking down the inside edge, while keeping the tobacco from spilling out the lower edge. Almost all would use both hands to do this part of the dance, but a few could do this using only one hand. Finally the cigarette would come together and be placed to the lips. A match would be struck, and the dance would be over. What skill, dexterity, and art I thought. What a dance, now, lost forever.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

second rate

The Clark County Court House was one of my favorite places to visit. It housed my families' records dating back to 1795 when Timothy Ewen (we pronounced it U-IN) was being taxed on 50 acres of land located on of all places, 4 mile creek! One thing I learned very quickly was that the words and spellings could vary remarkably even within the same record. In this "Land Book Second", he is listed as Timothy Euwin under the column "Owners Names". The next column was titled "County where lying" given as "Clarke". The next column was "water course" given as "4 mile". "Quantity of acres" followed showing "50". Then what followed were narrow columns for "first rate", "second rate", and "third rate" which I assumed referred to the quality of the land being taxed. The 50 acres of land that Timothy was being taxed was "second rate"! I laughed, we were considered second rate folks way back then. The last page of this record summarized the tax situation for Clark County in 1795. The summary stated:

Tax on 1249 Slaves
" 4958 Horses
" 16441 Cattle
" 31 Stud Horses
" 7 Oliances [assumed to be ordinary]
" 5 retail Stores
" 55,866 acres of 1st rate land
" --,-576 acres of 2nd [part damaged]
" 292,998 - Do- 3rd rate [Do used to mean ditto]

[an ordinary was a tavern or eating house serving regular meals]

So there you have it. The Clark County tax list of 1795! What were those two main events? Birth....Death. Well here is what happened between. Taxes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A New River

While the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Iroquois were fighting over this land they all seemed to want to claim, the colony of Virginia was trying to find its way around. Taking less than 32 years, they had settled the coastal areas and were wondering what was beyond the mountains to the west. Exploration to the head waters of the rivers that flowed to the Ocean [called The Tidewater] had only shown other mountains to the west, and only rivers that flowed to the eastern Atlantic coast. The Virginia Assembly in June 1641 encouraged individuals to undertake the discovery of a new river or unknown land with a river that would flow to the west. To the explorer this would mean reaching the other side of the mountains and perhaps being the first to discover a waterway to the long sought after route to China. The Assembly allowed those who discovered such a river to have exclusive right to the discovery for fourteen years. Their heirs, executors or administrators or assigns could enjoy all profit whatsoever. Wow, what a deal! You only had to get there first.

The first to get there and record their accomplishment were Edward Bland, merchant; Abraham Wood, Captain; Sackford Brewster, gentleman; and Elias Pennant, gentleman. Writing August 27, 1650, they describe the "...firft River in New Brittaine, which runneth Weft; being 120. Mile South-west, between 35. & 37 degrees, (a pleafant Country,)..." Imagine the excitement that this discovery produced, offering fame and wealth to those who could explore and settle this "new river". Now, for a genealogist, imagine the excitement this produced when you realized that two of these folks were family members!

To those who know early Virginia history, they know that Abraham Wood was the founder of Fort Henry (1646); and he was the first to open many doors to these western mountains. He arrived in Virginia at the young age of 8, and was 10 years of age in 1623 when the "Musters of The Inhabitants In Virginia" were recorded. His second wife was Margaret Jones, a widow who already had some Jones boys---Abraham, Richard, Peter, and William. These Jones boys had a lot to do with the naming and settlement of Petersburg, Virginia. Now, Elias Pennant seemed to be one of the backers [money lenders who were usually other family members] and he carried the same Jones blood that my Jones family carried from Wales. Both the Pennant and Jones families were descendants of Tudor Trevor, the founder of many Welsh and English surnames. But, that's another story.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Land of my future

The western European nations were yet to arrive in my neighborhood when three cultural groups, the Shawnee, the Cherokee, and Iroquois nations had their knock down, drag out. As early as 1673 it appeared that the Shawnee had defeated the Cherokee and occupied a major settlement called "Eskippakithiki". This settlement had a large ceremonial grounds and was located in none other than Clark County [now known as Indian Old Fields]! Located just north of the Kentucky River and just west of a knob known as "Pilot Knob", it would tell all those who planned to use the Warrior's Path, that they had to go through the Shawnee first. The Cherokee centered their nation in the Great Smokey Mountains and challenged anyone to take it from them. Now both these tribes had yet to face the powerful Iroquois nation; and for more than 60 years they had warfare along this Ohio Valley. Just prior to 1700, there seemed to be a decisive battle near the Falls of the Ohio where the Iroquois defeated both the Shawnee and Cherokee, leading to their claim to this "Dark and Bloody Ground". The Shawnee withdrew to their stronghold near Chillicothe in Ohio, and the Cherokee to their mountains in what was to become eastern Tennessee. The Iroquois had bigger fish to fry and wanted to push their growing empire further east. They chose to name this newly conquered land "Ken-Tah-The". In the Iroquois language this meant "the land of their future". To the English ear this became Kentucky. I guess they planned to come back to it when they had finished conquering the rest of the tribal groups that they saw as their enemies. Now when the western European nations finally got around to exploring this land, the Iroquois made it clear that they owned this land. At a meeting held at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 1744, their chief, Tachanoontia, is recorded to have said:

"All the world knows we conquered...the back of the great mountains in Virginia...As to what lies beyond the mountains, we conquered the nations residing there, and that land, if the Virginians ever get a good right to it, it must be by us."

Thus came the name "Ken-Tah-The", certainly the land of my future.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dark and Bloody Ground

Certainly not every one would agree with me that growing up in Winchester, Kentucky during the 1950s and early 1960s was anything special. Life happened, and it was not always good. My family had been here more than 150 years and well at the time, I could not wait to grow older one more year! One hundred and fifty years was a very, very, very, long time.

Where did it all begin, this land called Kentucky? "The Dark and Bloody Ground" it was called. At least this Daniel Boone-type expression was used to begin many stories. I now know that human existence began much before my family knew anything, well...., about anything.

The earliest humans were thought to arrive in my neighborhood around 10,000 BC. This Paleoindian period was even before the "Ice Age" which is felt to have begun around 8,000 BC. They were thought to be nomadic, big-game hunters and gatherers which certainly set the stage for Daniel Boone. I always thought that it must have been the combination of water, limestone formations, and summer heat, which produced the most important item of all, salt. Salt was necessary for life, and I suspect that all those woolly mammoths smelled the salt and "came a runnin".

By the late Archaie period (3,000 - 1,000 BC), settlements had become more permanent, but were generally considered base camps along the water and salt trails. A site in Clark County was discovered called the Stone site which contained scrapers, hammer-stones, and other tool making implements. Food processing was defined by circular pits and must have been the first cookout in Clark County!

Clark County continued to be occupied from this point forward with archaeological evidence from the Woodland periods; Early (1,000 BC - 200 BC), Middle (200 BC - 500AD), and the Late (400 AD - 1000 AD). It is generally believed that bows and arrows were introduced into the area at this time; and because of this, it provided one of the chief collections that many boys from Clark County had, i.e., the arrow head collection. Of course bows and arrows produced blood shed, and perhaps this was the reason for the name "Dark and Bloody ground". The final stage prior to any written history was known as the Mississippi period (900 AD - 1700 AD). By this time, life in what was to become Kentucky had become fully agricultural, and distinct villages and towns were being built. Of course you had to protect your village from others with bows and arrows and there is evidence that many villages were fortified. Kill or be killed. Man what a life!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A little ring

Turning onto Broadway or Washington eastward, the first street past the railroad tracks was Vine Street. Six more streets followed in a fairly symmetrical order forming a series of equal sized blocks. Let's see, there was Smith Avenue, Jackson Street, Park Avenue, Franklin Street, Ashland Avenue, and Johnson Street. On past Johnson Street, Broadway and Washington ran together forming the Irvine Road. It was generally believed that Washington Street became Irvine Road, but I knew that it was really the junction of Broadway and Washington forming a Y type intersection. Washington Street followed a higher ridge out of town as compared to Broadway because starting at Jackson Street, you had to climb a long stretch of Broadway to get to Ashland Avenue. Washington Street also had yellow lines painted down the middle which made it look much more official, whereas Broadway narrowed to a little country road before it sliced into Washington.

This was my neighborhood. Looking down from the air (by satellite now) it must have seemed like a ladder leaning against the earth with each rung being one of the streets. Each block was usually cut in half by a fence row which separated the blocks right down the middle. This produced two sides, each house facing the street which named it, ours being 25 Vine Street. I often thought that our street must have been named after the large number of grape vines that grew along the fences. There was also honey suckle, mulberry, wild strawberry, milk weed, black berry, red roses producing thorn bushes, and lots and lots of poison ivy! Mam maw and pap paw lived on Jackson Street, two blocks further up Broadway. It was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the cinnamon toast and coffee. It was just a chain I often thought. A chain that ran through pap paw and mam maw, to dad and mom, to me.

A little ring
Encompasses our lives
And many generations
Link the rings of theirs,
Thus forming a chain
That is without end.


Monday, July 19, 2010

No more Dragons

My dad, mom, older brother and I made up my childhood home at 25 Vine Street. We moved there even before my mind could remember, which I believe was around 1954. This was before color T.V., air conditioners, rotary phones, and imagine this, even before computers, cell phones, i-pods, and blogs! Wow! How in the world did we survive growing up with such deprivation.

You could get to 25 Vine Street from Main Street in two ways. One was to take a right onto East Broadway, and the other was to take a right onto Washington Street. Either way, you would have to cross the railroad tracks before you would come to Vine Street. Just before you would reach the tracks on Broadway you would have to pass the Winchester Stock Yards. For me, this was an amazing place, full of cows, pigs, sheep, bulls, and horses. For most every one else, it was a place of smells that you would try to avoid at all cost!

Now if you came from town using Washington Street, you passed over the tracks using the viaduct. This was another architectural wonder that arched over two sets of tracks. It was constructed using some form of cement that contained tiny pebbles, compacted so tightly that you had to work very hard to get any pebble loose. At the top of the arch, the road narrowed to exactly two car widths, making it appear very, very narrow. The side walk only passed on the left side coming from Main to Vine Street. A concrete barrier blocked you from falling into the gully below. The arch was always a fun place to stand when a train passed underneath. I only remember watching diesel engines pass with their three circular exhausts fuming, leaving the air wavy and hot. They made a solid, continuous, almost humming sound. Not like the black dragons, those steam engines who's chug, chug, chug seemed to move everything around them. The smells changed from that of burning coal, to that of burning diesel, although what followed the diesel engines remained the same, miles and miles of coal cars. Watching these diesels pass, I often felt a little sad. Where did all the dragons go?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

part of my imagination

Moving on up Main Street, well you actually went down a ways to Broadway, you came to the midpoint of town. If you stood in the middle of the street under the stop light, you would in effect become a compass. Facing up Main, would be north, and everything from this point foreword was North Main. Raising your right arm and pointing, you would go east, with East Broadway on one side, and West Broadway on the left. Now your back side would be facing south, and all that behind you (pardon the pun) would be South Main. This point was also about the lowest in town and my dad would say that there was once a stream running through this part of town that brought water to the town. I guess this is why things seemed to start from here. A spring or water source of some kind was always needed to start a settlement, and I figured this must have been the place. It must have run from the high part of town, that side that had all the steps, and followed the street called High Street around and down to Broadway. I would have to walk up High Street to get to Hickman Street School and there was a place where a small creek seemed to run right out of the street. This must be it I often thought, the water of life!

Now North Main street was still the middle of town, and in this section was the two movie theaters, (Town Hall, and Leed's Theater), the pool hall, and Begley's Drug Store. About halfway down you started walking up to Washington Street. Leed's Theater was the main hangout during the summer because you could go to the movies free on Wednesday afternoon. Of course you had to have a movie pass which could be obtained at just about any downtown store. My favorite store was Begley's Drug Store because you could get a cone of chocolate ice cream, and pick up your free movie pass. Leed's Theater was almost directly across the street from Begley's and there were two painted, parallel yellow lines, of all places crossing in the street. You could walk across the street between these two lines and the cars were suppose to stop. I was not always sure that I liked to test that assumption.

Washington Street was at the crest of a hill. If you turned right, you would head toward my neck of the woods. Continuing on up Main you would come to the rail road end of town. L & N (Louisville and Nashville railroad) was the first set of tracks. There were a number of ware houses between, and you came to the next set of tracks, the C. & O. (not sure what this stood for). You then started up an incline which took you out of town. I can actually remember when steam engines ran right past my childhood home. I would chase the puffing, smoking, snorting, back cloud producing, monster along our neighbor's fence line. I would wave at the engineer who seemed to be sitting half way out his window, pulling the chain that set the whistle screaming, spitting its white smoke! Four pulls, seem to be the warning to the oncoming cars that would be coming up East Broadway from Main. When I was through running, my bare feet would be black from the soot. Man I thought, what a life, riding a big black monster all day. Trains have been part of my imagination ever since.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ringing the bell

Moving on up Main Street, leaving the church district, you would come to Lexington Avenue. On the right corner stood a very unusual three story structure called the Opera House. Imagine, Opera in Winchester! At nine years of age, I did not know what Opera really was but I figured that it must have been something special since they built such an elaborate building to house it. This building had been turned into a factory making clothes so I knew that I would not ever be able to see this Opera. On the left hand corner stood another impressive structure called the Brown Proctor Hotel. It took up the whole corner rising three stories and was the first building in Winchester to have an elevator. The elevator was one of those that had a sliding metal door which looked like a chain linked fence opening and closing.

Once past Lexington Avenue, you came to the center of town. Stores for clothes, furniture, jewelry, and all the stuff that made a town...well a town. The right side of the street, heading up Main Street from the south, was 8 to 12 steps higher than the left side. Funny I thought, not really knowing why one side of the street had to be higher than the other. The steps were not those little sissy steps either, but those big steps that ran the entire length of the street up to Broadway. Half way down the block you came to the courthouse.

To me, the courthouse was the most beautiful, most spectacular, most wonderful building in Winchester. It occupied the entire central square rising to a bell tower that had a clock face on four sides. Just imagine, being able to tell time no matter from which direction you came! It would light at night, leaving a soft glow into the night's darkness. Besides that, you could tell the time after dark. Painted completely white and facing east, it had a special dignity about it especially as the morning sun would reflect off the white brick. This place housed all the records that became so important to me as a budding genealogist.

Now just past the courthouse you could turn onto a u-shaped street that enclosed the court yard. Coming around this street, the post office was on the right, then the newspaper office [called the Winchester Sun], then the fire station, police station, county jail, and lawyer offices. A busy place it was. You ended up back on Main Street where People's Bank on one corner competed with Winchester Bank directly across the street.

It was many years later that my dad showed me a brass plaque hidden under an archway in a side entrance to the courthouse. It listed those who had fought in the Revolutionary War and had moved and lived in Clark County. Nicholas Jones was on this list, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!

I knew that there was something special about this place. Now if the night was just quiet enough, and the air just dry enough, I could hear the bell chime midnight from my childhood bed. Nicholas, was that you ringing the bell?

Friday, July 16, 2010

One of 8,000

Heading into town from Boonesborough in the 1950s you crossed the Kentucky River using a very narrow, metal bridge, which looked to me much liked one of my toy erector sets. Heading up Boonesborough road you would wind and twist and climb until things leveled off past the reservoir, soon reaching a rectangular green sign which stated: "Welcome to Winchester", on the top line, and "Pop. 8,000" on the bottom line. Welcome to Winchester had a sort of musical ring to it, and I would try to make up songs using the words. Wow I thought, I was one of these 8,000!

Boonesborough road would end, and you had to turn right or left onto Main Street. Where you had to turn, there was a large, red bricked, Catholic Church on the corner. Catholics and my Protestant world did not seem to talk much. The Catholics had their own school, and apparently their own world, for I did not meet a Catholic my own age until high school.

Turning left onto Main Street, just a half block down on the left was a very large, Gothic style Methodist church. Immediately turning right onto Hickman street you would climb a short hill to the crest where the largest Christian Church stood. I got to know this building fairly well since it was were the "boys of 84", that is, boy scout troop 84 met for many years. Now directly across the street stood Hickman Street School where my mam maw, aunts, uncles, dad, and I all attended. Not at the same time of course, for Hickman Street had been there a very long time!

Now moving on down main street, just another half block you came to the large, brown stoned Presbyterian Church which set a little back from the road. An alley moved up the side where you reach the back of Hickman Street School and the parking lot of the largest Baptist Church in Winchester known as Central Baptist Church.

Let's see now, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Christian all within spitting distance to one another. At the time, I would have been around 9 years of age, I did not realize how this represented pioneer Kentucky! Folks from Maryland wanted their religious freedom. (Mostly Catholics). Folks from Pennsylvania(those Scots-Irish) wanted their religious freedom (mostly Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist). Folks from Virginia who were being run out of town by the established Church of England wanted their religious freedom. (Mostly Baptist). Folks from North Carolina had already claimed all the land south of the Kentucky River. Moving north, here we all were! Living and building this little town, including a lot of churches. Wow I thought, "Welcome to Winchester", "Pop. 8000".

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Up the river, without a paddle

Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark were the big names surrounding my childhood. Boone was the first to blaze a new trail into this part of my world bringing his family and those of many others into a frontier settlement called Boonesborough. George Rogers was the dashing, military leader who spent most of his time in the "other" settlement called Harrodsburg . [Clark is credited with almost single handily saving this frontier by bringing gun power from Virginia just in time.] The Harrodsburg's group was primarily from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Clark County, Kentucky was named after George Rogers Clark, and the high school I attended was named George Rogers Clark! Boone's Creek, Boone's station, Boonesborough road, Boone's Creek Baptist Church, and to many other land marks to name were titled after this fairly large Boone clan.

Interesting to me, was the fact that Daniel Boone was employed by a gentlemen from North Carolina name Richard Henderson. This North Carolina supreme court judge, had the grandiose plan to start his own country. Before Boone was ever hired, Henderson had made an agreement (treaty) with the Cherokee Indians to buy 200,000 acres of land in the heart of this new country. This new country was to contain all the land south of the Kentucky River and be called Transylvania. This left the land north of the Kentucky River unclaimed. Clark County is the land just north of Boonesborough, and the Kentucky River, being one of the earliest settlement areas of the state. Some miles to the east, "up river", the Red River flows into the north side of the Kentucky (where my Ewen side settled). A creek called "four mile creek", because it was four miles "up river" from Boonesborough, flowed into the north side of the Kentucky. It is here that my Jones side first settled. It would take almost 150 years before my Jones side decided to move into the county seat named Winchester, where I grew up! You could sort of say that both my Jones side and Ewen side started "up the river without a paddle"! Unknown to me at the time (my childhood), my great grandmother on the Jones side was Ellen Dorcas Henderson, but that is another story.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Louder Than Words

It became evident to me at a early age that the women of our family were the keepers of our family stories. They were the "safety deposit box" that held the history, events, life stories, and even the skeletons that had made us...well us! On the other hand, the males of the family shared very little.

Grandad Ewen was a soft spoken man. You could see in his eyes that he loved deeply. He would have to have learned how rearing a large family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. I do not remember a single family story that he shared with me growing up, but the hugs he gave freely and unconditionally.

I also do not remember a single family story that pap paw Jones shared with me growing up. But, this fact had a reason. He could not talk! Before I was old enough to remember him walking, talking, hugging, and gesturing with his hands, he had a stroke. The stroke left him paralyzed on his right side. His right arm was flexed at the elbow and his right hand was fixed in an awkward stiff looking position which would not seem to move. His right leg did not work either! To me he could make sounds, but I could not really understand the words he tried to express. I would stand beside his chair and often wonder what it would be like to live in a body that only half worked.

His days were spent sitting in "pap paws chair". It was a tan colored, leather chair with a side table. His crutches leaned against the wall on the left side of his chair which he would use to get to the bathroom and move to the large queen size bed to his right. He was also blind in his right eye, but that is another story. I would stand before him patting his left leg because he could not feel much in his right leg, and it was my way of letting him know I was there and saying hello. He would reach out with his left hand and pat me on the hand or arms, and I would do most, well all of the talking. Dad and I would come ever so often to cut pap paws hair. I would sit and watch dad move about the chair with scissors, razor, and comb as he would clip here, and clip there, and cut pap paws beautiful white hair. I was assigned the task of sweeping up around the chair after all was done. Dad and pap paw seem to talk well although I could not seem to understand most of what pap paw would say. But dad seemed to understand, and they would carry on a conversation that fill the very quite house with verbal music. Pap paw would laugh.

In all those 17 years I never saw pap paw appear mad, upset, angry, depressed, or even sad. I never heard him complain. What a man I thought, to live in a body that only half worked. It was his life that spoke to me, louder than any words.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Blue Racer

Our families' yearly get-togethers were very loud happenings. The Jones side was usually a few decibels louder than the Ewen side, but on occasion the Ewen side could "keep up with the Joneses!" The most amazing difference to observe was that the Jones side spoke with their hands. Pointing, gesturing, flying like a bird, chopping wood, you name it, it could be done by hand. I often wondered if this was because all the Jones children were red-headed. Childhood was hard enough, let alone facing "carrot-top" jokes most of the time. The Ewen side was much less dramatic, all being dark skinned, blown eyed, and black headed. Laughing, catching up on life events, and talking were part of both family adventures.

Junior and J.C. , the two oldest Ewen boys, would generally lead the discussions on the Ewen side. At some point, it would get around to talking about their childhood during the depression. Growing up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky would certainly provide a location stocked with Daniel Boone type experiences. My favorite was snake stories! Junior and J.C. like to kill snakes. They would use my grand dad Ewen's single shot, shot-gun and blast away. They would tell of the day that they shot between 20 and 25 snakes from a tree. Of course I knew that snakes did not have arms and legs, and certainly could not climb trees. Snakes moved along the ground and could not move along tree branches. Now at some point my mother, being the middle child of 9 surviving children, would volunteer her Blue Racer Story.

It begins near the garden where a barefoot, skinny, jet-black haired, pretty little girl, with hazel-green eyes, played. [ I always took it that mother was probably less than 9 years of age.] The garden was some 10 to 15 yards from the house, and contained the usual corn, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. She suddenly came face to face with a large, dark blue colored snake, called a Blue Racer! The snake was reared-up, twisting and writhing, forming what must have been a most terrifying Daniel Boone type experience. In a split second, my mom had turned and high tailed to the house, setting a new Slade record for the 100 yard dash. She bounded the porch skipping the three stairs, opened the screen door, just making the safety of the house. Pulling shut the screen door behind her, she turned and saw the Blue Racer slam into the screen door. Boy-o-boy, that snake chased me all the way from the garden.

Now of course, just as I didn't believe that snakes could climb trees, I did not believe that snakes would case people. I thought that mother's childhood imagination could certainly match my own. This story became know as the Blue Racer story. My bother (18 months older) and I would see that frequently this story would come up during our own family get together so we could make comments like : "did you get that snake's licence plate number?", "did the snake blow its horn?", "if a motor cycle cop was watching he would have given you both speeding tickets!" We would generate a number of good family laughs , but mother would not back down from her story.

It was one family get together, after computers and the Internet were up and running, that my brother decided to google Blue Racers. To my surprise, the printout stated that Blue Racers were a unique snake, very aggressive, often rising up and chasing its victim! Thus the name Blue Racer! Man - o - man! All this time my mother's story was true. The article was read before everyone, and it was mom who got to laugh while she watched me eat crow. I thought it was never to late to learn something new, and that a childhood memory of a bare foot little girl growing up in eastern Kentucky should not be questioned. Especially if it had to do with snakes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where's the map?

"Where' the map?" came the question.

"What map?" was asked.

"The map that tell us where we're going!" came the answer.

"Where are we going?" came the question.

"It's on the map that has all those places, names, and things" was answered.

"Then where's the map that has all those things?" was asked.

"It's where we want to go." came the answer.

"Then where do we want to go?" was asked.

"It's on the map!" was yelled.

"Where's the map?" yelled louder.

Over the years, I found myself in libraries, courthouses, graveyards, old houses, battlefields, hillsides, churches, castles, archives, museums and too numerous other places to name. Many times I would get so excited, spend hours rummaging around, looking here and looking there. Getting sidetracked was part of the adventure. This was the fun of it. However, there were many times after leaving I suddenly realized that I did not get the information I really needed. I may never come this way again.

It became evident (like the typing paper in the three ring notebook) that I needed to ask myself what it was I hoped to gain. What information was it I really needed. Basically what's the point or goal of this visit. I needed a map! A plan of action! Before going into a library, I would write down just what it was I was hoping to gain by my visit here. This would often be on an index card placed in my pocket. Before I left, I would check the index card to see if my answer was yes, I've got it. Or oops, I need to get back on target. Over the years tree climbing, this saved many hours of frustration. Where's the map?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Main Events

The human experience that we all share whatever race, creed, culture, language, and family, are the two main events. For the genealogist, we document these events as the date of birth, and the date of death! For every ancestor we want to find and record these events. The birth event is usually a joyous time, celebrating a new life and a new family member. The death event is usually a sad one where we are asked to say goodbye. As far as I know, these two events are recognized in every culture since the dawn of our existence. [Except maybe for the Masai of East Africa who will leave the human body where it drops, for they believe that the spirit is the person, not the body! Being a physician in East Africa for a brief period, I observed this to be case, i.e., no death event, only a happening!]

It has been most interesting to me that it is the death event that seems to garner the most attention and leave the most lasting monuments. For us from Wales (the Jones surname is Welsh) the earliest human burial is found in the limestone caves that position themselves along the southern coast of present day Wales! [When this burial took place, the cave was thought to be some 70 miles from the waters edge due to the land bridge that existed at this time.] "The Red Lady of Paviland" it was called when the grave was first discovered in 1823. Ironically, this lady turned out to be a young male estimated to be about 21 years of age. His body had been covered with red ochre. Ocher is an earthy red or yellow and often impure form of iron ore used as a pigment, thus the "Red Lady"! Grave goods made out of bone, antler, and ivory were placed in the grave, and a perforated sea-shell necklace was place around the neck. The grave has been carbon dated to 24,000 BC and is actually felt to be older! Can you imagine what it took to string a sea-shell necklace some 24,000 years ago? Birth. Death. We apparently have been at it for many years! For the genealogist, the documentation of these two main events will be one focus of our tree climbing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Three Ring Notebook

The problem with asking so many questions is that you have to do something with the answers. How do I remember them? For that fact, do I want to remember them? For the true genealogist, documentation becomes a major activity or a major frustration depending on how good you are at keeping score. Having a very large family has its advantage, especially at Christmas time, but it also adds to the task of recording the families' history! When I started writing things down, there were no computers, very few cameras, and even fewer folks who had an interest in helping. Let's see, where to begin?

I thought the first place would be to build a family tree. Hum...I would be number 1, my folks number 2, my grandparents number 3,, no, there would be 4 grandparents, then 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, then 32, 64, 128, 264.... man - o - man, what a mess. It would certainly be easier to forget the whole thing. Somehow I could not let it drop. It must have been that infection everyone who does genealogy recognizes : "The sicker you get, the more to like it." At any rate, I began by drawing lines on a blank sheet of typing paper turned side ways. One straight line, a branch to two straight lines, branch to four straight lines,... etc. etc., ... It did not take long before I taped a second sheet to the first, drawing lines and branches, taping more sheets to this. I then asked myself, what did I know? I started adding the names to the lines on the pages one by one. It soon became clear that I really did not know a whole lot! Some names, very few dates, and very little about their lives. Who were they really?
Wow, I had a lot to learn. I folded my taped what? A notebook I thought! I will put everything together in a notebook. Typing paper turned on its side does not fit a three ring notebook! Oh man! I will have to start over with larger pieces of paper! I started to laugh, a little better planning would be needed in the future for my three ring notebook. As I write this blog, I now have in my genealogy library more than 250 three ring notebooks!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sworn to Secrecy

My Jones side of the family was not as large as the Ewen side. My father being only one of seven brothers and sisters instead of 12! Our Jones Family get together was always at Thanksgiving where my grandmother Jones (we called "mam maw") seemed to cook everything. To me, the biggest difference between the time spent was that I was only one of three grandchildren usually at mam maws compared to 8 -12 grandchildren usually at granny Ewens. Also, mam maw and pap paw only lived two blocks from my childhood home which made it a frequent stop on my busy summer days.

Mam maw was one of a kind. She always seemed to be doing something. Cooking, baking, ironing, cleaning, washing, making lye soap were all in her game plan. I often spent time following her (or trying to keep up with her) and I knew that the kitchen was her domain. Many mornings I would sit on my knees, elbows on the kitchen table, and my head resting in the palms of hands. She would move about her kitchen opening this drawer, getting this spice from the shelf, checking something cooking on the large gas stove, and flip cornbread cooking in the black iron skillet. This was our time, and as she darted about she would tell me family stories.

Our routine usually started when she place what I thought was the most beautiful coffee cup I had ever seen before me on the kitchen table. She would then swear me to secrecy stating that if I told anyone that she allowed me to drink coffee she would be in big trouble. (especially from my parents) Of course, this made it even more exciting as I thought I was getting away with something illegal. She would place the coffee pot on the stove, light a match, and "poof" a blue flame would appear at the base of the pot. The pot was a silver color with a black handle. It had a funny shaped lid with a glass cone where you could watch the water pop and spray as the coffee percolated (my first physics lesson). She would then slice home made bread and slap tons of butter and cinnamon on the top and slide our special bread into the bottom of the oven she called "the toaster". When all was done, she would take 2-3 teaspoons of coffee, place it in my cup, fill the rest with milk, and sit opposite me telling family stories. (This was the only time I can remember seeing her sit!) We would start on the cinnamon toast and my questions began: Where did we come from? Who was pap paw's father, who was pap pap's father's, father, who was... you get the picture. As far back as she knew, the earliest Jones was called W.C.. W.C., I thought, what kind of name was this? She did not know what the W. or C. stood for, but he was buried at the mouth of Red River, and he loved to play cards and the fiddle. It would take me more than 20 years before I found this family cemetery and learn that the W.C. stood for William Carter Jones. Anyone for coffee? But, I will have to swear you to secrecy! Oh yes, I still have the coffee cup sitting on the mantel of my study.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

True Tree Climbing

My second encounter with tree climbing literally involved trees and climbing! It began with a newspaper article published in the Sunday Herald Leader (our Lexington, KY newspaper) dated 8th of January, 1955. It was written from Stanton, KY by George Billings, Jr. It began:

"Two miles north of here in the fertile Red River valley is a farm that has never been sold.
The first white settler in this section reared his family on the land which has been handed
down from one generation to the next since those early years, to where the present owner
is an 82 year old widow with one daughter, who in turn has no children, indicating the end
of the 'hand-me-down' line."

Wow! I thought, land that had never been sold! Let's see. Kentucky became a state in 1792. Before that it was a county of Virginia, and before that it was ruled by the British Empire. When do I start counting? The story went own to tell that it was more than 500 acres, much of in river bottom land and rolling pasture.

This article had been past around our Ewen family "get-to-gathers" for several years before I had a chance to read it. According to the family records, Timothy Ewen was one of the first white setters in this section of the country. The story was that this elder Ewen came from England to North Carolina, from there to Virginia and then on into what is now Kentucky.

What caught my eye in this article was the following:

"Encircled with three strands of barbed wire, the final resting place is protected by towering white pine trees, some as high as 80 feet, and a nest of black wasps that demonstrated their dislike for us on a recent visit." This family grave yard was supposed to be about a hundred yards form the house, high on the banks of Red River.

Could this be true? A family graveyard where my great-great-great grandfather would be buried! I was determined to find out.

Being roughly 11 years old at the time, I did not have a lot of options. I was able to convince my uncle Charlie to drive me from our Winchester, KY home, to where this land was thought to be located. He had just purchased a 1957 Chevy, and he was more than willing to take me for a spin. We had a rough idea where Red River was, and there was supposed to be a Ewen branch of the Red River. We had a copy of the newspaper article and so off we went into the mountains of Powell County. After some time we found a branch of the Red River at the base of a high ridge with a row of very tall pine trees! That had to be it I thought. We stopped the car, moved across the creek, and climbed up the side of the ridge to the line of pine trees. Just on the inside of the ridge several headstones could be seen. What a deal! Moving back brush and some vines the first headstone read, John Riley Ewen!

This was my first cemetery as a genealogist! I did not know enough to record all my findings, but I soon learned. Standing there before the headstones, I felt proud. I wanted to thank these folks for surviving, for plowing the land, and building the homes, and having children!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

50 Years of Genealogy

Hello All. This is my first attempt at blogging. So here goes. I have been tree climbing (doing genealogy) for more than 50 years. How this came to be is certainly a long story, but one I hope will be of interest to those who share such an infection. The past seems to rise in my mind, and since childhood, my imagination has painted many pictures of my families' stories. As one author once said:

"Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms fill the brain;
They who live in history only, seem to walk the earth again."

My families' stories are now many. They started one Christmas long ago playing hide-and-seek at my granny Ewen's. My mother's family was large (mother being one of 12!), and I had more than 30 1st cousins. We would gather every Christmas day and the children were pretty much left up to their own designs while the "adults" ate. Hide-and-seek was used to occupy much of our time, and a large bedroom closet was my target. Spreading the cloths and boxes, I sought the perfect hiding place only to be surprised by a large picture of a man looking out at me. He had a round face, receding hairline, and mustache. Who in the world I thought. Besides this picture was what appeared to be saddlebags. Wow I thought, saddlebags in granny Ewen's closet! (John Wayne and Roy Rogers were big at the time). I raised the side and found a pouch of various size bottles, some with corks, some with cloth plugs, and some just empty. What in the world? There were suppose to be guns, and stirrups, and whips; but little bottles? This certainly puzzled me and I gave up my hiding spot to investigate this finding further. Granny Ewen said that the saddlebags belong to my greatgrandfather Ewen who was a doctor in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The bottles were his medicine that he used to help people. His name was George Washington Ewen, and he was buried at Nada. Wow!, a horse riding doctor. I had to find out more. It is now more than 50 years since this hide-and-seek game. I have that picture, along with his wife's picture over my fireplace as I write this. The saddlebags have been lost, but by sharing this, they may be remembered. The story begins.