A to Z – G is for GW Spencer

a2z-h-smallA to Z Blog Challenge

G is for George Washington Spencer

GW was my 3rd great grandfather. He was a Confederate soldier in 1862, but in the 1860 census, he was listed as a school teacher.

He was born in June of 1829 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Rev. William Saladin Spencer and Martha Didama Gross. He was the 10th of 11 children, with only 1 girl in the bunch. His father died in 1841 when GW was only 12 years old.

geo wash spencerIn 1858, he married Nancy Virginia “Jenny” Holdcroft in Kemper, Mississippi, and the union produced 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys. They made their home in Newton County, MS.

There was no organized education at the time, so communities usually gathered money and asked someone to educate their children. GW stepped up to the challenge for a moment.

When the war began, he enlisted 1 Mar 1862 with Co. B 35th MS Infantry. He was sick most of the war due to a leg infection and was medically discharged 10 Jan 1864. The family story is that his wife went by horse and wagon to pick him up from a Confederate hospital.

Following the war, he didn’t go back to teaching. He is listed on census records as a farmer until his death 22 Jul 1901. He is buried with his wife in unmarked graves at Hickory Cemetery in Newton County, Mississippi.

Searching for Scandinavia

I finally did it! I had my DNA done for my ancestry quest. I knew most of it.

 Europe West 24%
 Scandinavia 21%
 Ireland/Scotland/Wales 20%
 Great Britain 14%
 Europe East 9%
 Iberian Peninsula 6%
Most of the family I’ve traced hail from England, Scotland, Ireland, and I assume a few snuck in there from France and Spain way back in the day, hence that small percentage from the Iberian Peninsula. But 21% Scandinavian?? I have no idea where that came from. Norway, Sweden, Denmark? No clue. Though “Viking Princess” suits me. 🙂
scandinavian woman
While I was searching, I ran across a new line I didn’t know I had. Apparently these folks were from Switzerland. Really? Where does that fit in?
swiss
A great great grandmother on my mother’s side was a Spencer, and a few generations before that, one of the Spencer wives was a Flournoy. I had never heard of these Flournoys and traced them back to their first entrance into the U.S. in the early 1700s.
My 8th great grandfather was Jean Jacques Fleurnois – in American – John James Flournoy. He came to Virginia in 1705 before sending for his family in 1717.
Name: Jacques Flournoy
Arrival Year: 1705
Arrival Place: Virginia
Source Publication Code: 613
Primary Immigrant: Flournoy, Jacques
Source Bibliography: BOCKSTRUCK, LLOYD DEWITT. “Naturalizations and Denizations in Colonial Virginia.” In National Genealogical Society Quarterly, vol. 73:2 (June 1985), pp. 109-116.
Page: 111
His son, my 7th great, John James Jr, was born in Geneva on 17 Nov 1686. He would have been about thirty years old when he arrived on the Virginia shores in 1717. He was son of Jacques Flournoy of Geneva and Julia Eyraud. He settled in Williamsburg where in 1720 he married Mary Elizabeth Williams, daughter of James Williams and widow of Orlando Jones. They set up house in Henrico County, VA and over the next nineteen years, they had about eleven children. Records say John James Jr. died in Henrico Co in 1739 at the age of 52.
He had a son named John born 1726 and died 1825, so the record below must have been his grandson and namesake. This would not be one of my direct ancestors but interesting none-the-less. The following is on file in the Archives Dept. State Library in Virginia.

Point of Fork, 18 Aug., 1783. I do certify that Jean Jacques Flournoy enlisted with me the first of Oct., 1782, in the Va. Contl. line, to serve three years, and was in actual service until the 22 of August following, at which time he died, and that he received only four months pay. Signed, Jacob Brown, Lieut. Quartermaster and Paymaster of the 1st Va. Regiment.

Thank you for your service, Sir, for our freedom, and for your ultimate sacrifice.

This an interesting web that will require more research.

Still haven’t found the Scandinavians!

52 Ancestors #35 School Days with George Washington Spencer

52ancestors-2015

This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s challenge is “School Days.”

geo wash spencer

My 3rd great grand-father became a Confederate soldier in 1862, but in 1860, he was listed on the U.S. Census as a school teacher in Newton County, Mississippi.

church of rev william saladin spencerGeorge Washington Spencer was born in Alabama in June 1829, the son of preacher William Saladin Spencer and his wife Martha Didama Gross. GW grew up around the Shake Rag Church (photo) in Tuscaloosa, AL as one of eleven children. His last sibling was born in 1835, his father died in 1841, and his mother died in 1867 all in Alabama, but at some point GW moved west to Mississippi. At the age of 29 in 1858, he married Nancy Virginia “Jenny” Holdcroft, and in 1859, they had their first child, my 2nd great grand-mother Nancy Didama Spencer. (She was followed by six siblings.)

The Spencers made their home in Newton County, MS, and with a wife and a baby at home, GW needed a job, so he became a school teacher. There was no organized education at the time, so communities and churches usually gathered up some money and asked someone to educated their children. Teachers were generally left to their own devices to create a curriculum, and classrooms usually held children of all ages in one room. But the good news is that twelve-year-old children at the time were educated with books we would consider college level today. GW spent his days with the local kids, expanding the minds of the next generation.

Then the war began.

He enlisted 1 Mar 1862 at Scooba, Mississippi with Co.B 35th Mississippi Infantry. According to family members, he was sick most of the war from a leg infection and was medically discharged 10 Jan 1864. Rosters show him in Confederate hospitals in Jackson, Marion, and Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi. The passed-down family story is that his wife went by horse and wagon to pick him up from a Confederate hospital to bring him home. This was just before General Sherman’s march from Vicksburg to Meridian in Feb 1864.

Following the war, he is listed on all census records as a farmer until his death 22 Jul 1901. His career in education was a short-lived one.

GW and his wife Jenny are buried in unmarked graves at Hickory Cemetery, Newton County, Mississippi.

(photos courtesy of my cousin M. Baucum)

52 Ancestors #32 – 32

52ancestors-2015

This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s theme is “32.”

For those of you don’t do genealogy, you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 2nd great-grandparents, and 32 3rd great-grandparents. The family tree grows exponentially.

This generation of 32 people in my past have been on my mind a lot lately due to the feeding frenzy of liberals trying to erase the history of the Confederacy. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Confederate flag, but I understand that hate groups have adopted it and it may no longer represent the South throughout the rest of the United States. Perhaps it is time for a discussion about where it should and should not be flown.

I do, however, have a problem with the hatred that these history-erasing people, including some of my very own friends, are spewing and the way vandals are destroying flags, graves, statues, and monuments. You’ll see why in a moment. I’ve decided to not write about only one of my 32 grandmas and grandpas, but all of them.

Jeremiah William Crane, born 1828 Alabama

Sarah Frances Grimes, born 1824 Alabama

Amos Windham Mercer, born 1799 South Carolina

Amanda Merron, born 1829 Florida

Archibald White, born 1808 North Carolina

Elizabeth B Farrish, born 1824 Alabama

Leonard H Morrow, born 1812 Tennessee

Silvia Truss, born 1814 North Carolina

Robert Theodore Pickett, born 1836 Mississippi

Lucy Ann Rackley, born 1834 Alabama

William Thomas Fisher, born 1819 Alabama*

Elizabeth Ann Butler, born 1834 North Carolina

Green Keene, born 1834 South Carolina

Sarah Tabitha unknown, born 1833 Alabama

William Lafayette Brown, born 1836 Mississippi*

Sarah Ann Elvira Dollar, born 1836 Alabama

Rev. Joseph M. Culpepper, born 1822 Georgia**

Nancy Yarbrough, born 1822 Georgia

William Henry Blanks II, born 1800 Georgia

Nancy Narcissus Young, born 1800 North Carolina

Rice Benjamin Carpenter, born 1828 Alabama**

Mary Ann Rodgers, born 1828 Mississippi

George Washington Spencer, born 1829 Alabama*

Nancy Virginia “Ginny” Holdcroft, born 1839 Mississippi

James C Howington, born 1823 North Carolina*

Amelia Ann Elizabeth Smith, born 1827 Alabama

Of the six missing names; two were in Dublin, Ireland, their son (my 2nd great) arrived on the shores of Florida in 1861; two were Choctaw Indians in the Choctaw Territory of Mississippi but I don’t know their names; and the final two are unaccounted for as I have not been able to trace them, but their daughter (my 2nd great), was born in Alabama in 1848, so they certainly lived in the South.

Notice anything?? Yes, 26 (28 if you count the Choctaws, 30 if you count the folks living in Alabama) of my 32 3rd great-grandparents were born in the Confederate States, and EVERY ONE of my 16 2nd greats lived there also. From the records I have: six of the men above fought with the Confederacy (noted by *) – two died in battle (noted by **). Three of my 2nd greats (sons of the above) fought with the Confederacy, not to mention the countless brothers and other sons who served and sometimes died. Mary Ann Rodgers named above lost three brothers, three brothers-in-law, and her husband.

Off the top of my head, eight to ten of these families were in America during the Revolution, fighting for freedom – the freedom to say and do as you please. You have the freedom to be “offended” by the Confederate flag. It was given to you by MY ancestors who have been struggling since the 1600s to build a great country, even before it was a country.

Here’s where I have a problem. You don’t have the freedom nor the “right” to desecrate Confederate graves, statues, monuments, Confederate cemeteries, or the flags within their boundaries, and you certainly don’t have the freedom to take away my heritage. You will never accomplish that. You will never change how I feel about the men who fought in the Confederate Army. They are AMERICAN soldiers. They will always have my deepest respect for being willing to die for what they believed in, whether you agree with their cause or not. My heritage will not be erased. It will not disappear. Do you want to know why? Because I will fight to keep it alive in my family, my community, my descendants, and my heart. I will fight with the same veracity shown by my grandparents when they fought for their freedom. After all, their blood runs in my veins, too.

7872_561759593863541_1656188250_n

 

On This Day in 1909

On This Day in 1909, John Francis Burke, passed away. He was 62 years old. He was my great great grandfather.

1847 Ireland

imagesI can’t post a photo to go with this story. The images are too horrific.

In 1847, the great famine in Ireland was in full swing. Food prices had skyrocketed and those who needed food the most, couldn’t afford any. The summer’s crop of potatoes survived, but the crop was inadequate to feed the masses because everyone was afraid to plant. The British Relief Association raised money throughout America and Europe to send assistance. Soup kitchens opened, and people actually collapse and died of starvation trying to get to them. People poured onto ships bound for Canada and America. One shipwreck in April, killed 250 emigrants. In May, one sailed to Canada and was the cause of a typhus epidemic. When all was said and done, between 1845 and 1852, one million people died of starvation and another one million emigrated from Ireland.

This was the atmosphere John Francis Burke was born into. He was born in Dublin on February 27, 1847. One can imagine that his parents were very resourceful, perhaps with the negative connotations of that trait: stingy, tight-fisted, and ungenerous. They spent years struggling to feed their children, and when the potato blight was over, they probably didn’t break the cycle of struggle, just in case it should happen again.

merchant ship replicaNot much is known about his parents or his childhood. A family member told me his sibling had the same names as his children, so I expect there was a Patrick, Robert, Emmett, Nina, Virginia, Kathleen, David, and/or an Edmond somewhere in the bunch. When he was a young lad of 15, he snuck down to the shipyard and stowed away on an American-bound ship. After they set sail, the captain found him en route and told him the ship couldn’t take him back home. He replied to the captain, “If I wanted to go home, I wouldn’t have stowed away.” We don’t know the relationship or lack of one he had with his parents and siblings, but we can imagine his mother searching for her fifteen-year-old son and being heartbroken. I don’t know if he ever contacted his family after leaving Dublin.

The ship dropped him off in Miami, Florida in 1862. Yes, 1862, during the middle of the Civil War. Confederate War Records show a couple men with similar names that could be him serving in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The 1870 census shows a couple names that could be him: one in Florida and one in Alabama. He finally shows up in the 1880 census as being a “ditcher” and living with his new in-laws, the Spencer family.

On December 10, 1879, at the age of 32, he married Nancy Didama Spencer in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Over the next fourteen years, they had six children: John Patrick 1880, Robert Emmett 1883, George Washington 1886, Nina Virginia 1889, Kathlene L 1892, and David Edmond 1894. These children prove John and Nancy must have liked each other a little bit, but a new snag appears in 1900.

burke JP Burke Sr headstone 2The 1900 census shows Nancy living at home with all the children and listed as a “widow.” I didn’t understand this because John’s headstone clearly says he died in 1909. Finally a cousin told me Nancy did not believe in divorce, but she and John lived in the same house and did not speak to each other for the last fifteen years of their marriage. This also explains why they are buried in different rows at the cemetery. From a psychological standpoint, I wonder if he left Dublin because of his father’s personality and then became just like the man, causing his wife to dislike him. What could someone do that was so bad to tell a census taker he was dead? After John’s death August 18, 1909, the 1910 census shows Nancy as a widow with five children still at home. John is laid to rest at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Duffee, Mississippi, among children and grandchildren.

On a lighter note, I know his son John Patrick “Pat” (my great grandfather) was a fiddle player on the weekends at barn dances. I wonder if Pat learned to play from his father. Playing the fiddle is such an Irish thing to do, don’t you think?

Brought to you by On This Day available at Amazon.

My Grandmah – the Doctah

In the early 1900s, my great grandmother, Nancy Didama Spencer Burke (Grandma Damie) was a doctor. She rode around the back hills of Newton County, Mississippi, taking care of the sick. She didn’t ride in a car. She rode side-saddle, and a woman doctor was a rare thing.

Many moons ago, women were the caretakers and caregivers, but at some point the medical power was given over to men. Gaining that power back was a hard door to open.

T909228_08It was opened by Elizabeth Blackwell (pictured left) in the mid-1800s. Miss Blackwell was born in England, but raised in America. A dying female friend told her she would have suffered far less if her physician had been a woman. This statement encouraged Elizabeth to pursue a career in medicine. She was told she would never become a doctor, because there was no schooling available for a woman, but that didn’t stop her from applying to every medical school in the country. Finally, as a joke, she was voted into Geneva Medical College in New York. I can only imagine the ridicule she received at the all-male school. But she showed them. She graduated first in her class in 1849 and later studied surgery, midwifery, and obstetrics. One can imagine she had very few patients and no camaraderie, but she persevered. Keep in mind this was 100 years before women even got the right to vote. She was a strong and intelligent woman.

She paved the path for many women in the field of medicine – even Grandma Damie.

October Ancestry Challenge – John Francis Burke

oct ancestry challenge-001The October Ancestry Challenge 2013 23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

Ancestor #16 – John Francis Burke, my 2nd great grandfather from Dublin, Ireland.

Family stories say he stowed away alone on an America-bound ship when he was 15 years old. The captain found him en route and told him he could not be taken back. He told the captain, “If I wanted to go back, I wouldn’t have stowed away.” So, they dropped him off in Miami in 1862, in the beginning of the Civil War.

There are a few John Burkes in Confederate military records and census records from 1862 to 1870, but I don’t know which one, if any, is him. There is one in particular in the 1870 census listed as a farmhand in Alabama that I am leaning toward, but I’m not sure.

The next record of him was his marriage in 1879 to Nancy Didama Spencer of Mississippi, daughter of my Ancestor #5 George Washington Spencer. He is shown living with her family in the 1880 census and is listed as a “ditcher.” The record said he was 30 years old, making his birth about 1850, making him only 12 years old when he ran away from home. I wish I could figure out the truth, which may require a trip to Dublin.

burke JP Burke Sr headstoneHe and “Grandma Damie” had six children between 1880 to 1894. There are no other records of him. Strangely, Damie is listed as a widow in the 1900 census, though John Francis did not die until 1909. Family members tell me Damie did not believe in divorce, and Damie and John spent the last ten years of their marriage under the same roof, but not speaking. When Damie spoke to the census-taker, she said she was a widow. I don’t know what he did to make her so angry, but it must have been a doozey. This explains why they are not buried next to each other at the cemetery. I always wondered why they are in different rows.

On a side note: One of their children was John Patrick Burke who married Mary Elizabeth Howington. I think Mary Elizabeth Howington’s mother was a Choctaw Indian, but I’m still trying to prove that fact. Anyway, John Patrick Burke’s mother, Grandma Damie, was a doctor and rode around the community side-saddle taking care of the sick. My mother told me a story about a grandmother who was a “medicine woman” who knew every plant and tree and how it could be used to heal people. She told me it was my other grandmother who was a Choctaw Indian, but I believe she got the women confused, and she was speaking of Grandma Damie as the doctor, but the other grandma was the Indian.

Family members told me John Francis left home because he was angry with his father. I don’t know who his parents were, but if I ever venture into Dublin, Ireland records, I should be able to find him because his children were named after his siblings. His children were John Patrick “Pat”, Robert Emmett “Bob”, George Washington (Probably won’t find a sibling with that name. That was his father-in-law’s name), Nina Virginia, Kathlene L, and David Edmund.

I don’t know what kind of childhood his son (my great grandpa), John Patrick “Pat” Burke, had as he died four years before I was born, but I do know he played fiddle every Saturday night at the community barn dances. A cousin has his fiddle and the family pump organ stored away. Being a professional musician, I would give anything to get my hands on those. I wonder where my great grandfather learned to play fiddle. It’s such an Irish thing to do, don’t you think? Perhaps his father taught him. Hmmm.

tattooI’m not sure I will ever find my Irish ancestors, and I feel sorry for John Francis’s mother, never knowing what happened to her rebellious fifteen-year-old son. John Burke could have pulled that name out of the sky or it could have been Bourke or O’Byrne or something. Either way, here’s a toast to my grandfather, John Francis Burke. For without his braveness at the tender age of fifteen, I would not be here.