A to Z – E is for Elizabeth “Elly” Hays

a2z-h-smallA to Z Blog Challenge

E is for Elizabeth “Elly” Hays

Elly was born in North Carolina in 1774 to Nicholas Hays and Ally Steele. It’s been very difficult finding a paper trail of her young years. The first I’ve found is her marriage certificate 20 Dec 1790 to James Rodgers Jr, which is signed by her brother Samuel Hays. This is in Greene, Tennessee. All of the family records bounce back and forth between Tennessee and North Carolina, so I suspect the state border was blurred at that time.

Once she married, the paper trail becomes clearer.

She gave birth to Elizabeth in 1791, Hays in 1793, a female who is listed in James’s will as “my deceased daughter” in 1794, Absolom in 1796, Margaret Peggy in 1797, Susannah in 1799, Harvey in 1800, Martha Ellen “Ellie” in 1801, Polly in 1806, Napoleon Bonapart in 1808, and Andrew Jackson in 1810, and finally, Lavenia in 1819.

clarke-in-alabamaIn 1811, the family, yes, all thirteen of them (Lavenia wasn’t born yet), moved by wagon from Tennessee to Clarke County, Alabama. At the time, Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory as Alabama did not become a state until 1819. The area was a wild frontier, filled with the Creek Indians who were causing all the mischief and death they could to keep the white man from encroaching on their land. This was also a few months before the War of 1812 began. In the south, the war was between the Americans and the Indians, who were armed by the British.

The family suffered through serious harassment by the Creek Indians. Their livestock was raided and it is reported their home was burned to the ground. This was at the time both of her older sons, Hays and Absolom, were off serving in the Mississippi Militia and were not home to help.

When the boys were discharged in 1818, Elly packed her family and moved west to Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to the land of the gentle Choctaw Indians.

Following her husband’s death in Mississippi in 1826, Elly moved back to Alabama and lived with her eldest daughter, Elizabeth.

An abstract of her husband’s will is as follows:

WILL OF JAMES RODGERS

Copiah County, Mississippi, August 7, 1826 – Page 180

Orphans Court.

In the name of God Amen, I James Rodgers, doth find myself weak and infirm in bodily health, though strong in recollections and understanding doth therefore recommend my soul to God, my body to the Grave and my worldly effects to be deposed as follows–

 To my dearly beloved wife Elly Rodgers

 My oldest daughter Elizabeth Matlock

 My Eldest son Hays Rodgers

 William H. Wilson, the husband of my daughter and deceased, I give $1.00,

 My son Abslum Rodgers

 My daughter Peggy Rodgers

 My daughter Susanah Rodgers

 My daughter Ellie Kirk

 My son Harvey Rodgers

 My daughter Lavina Rodgers

 My daughter Polly Hendricks

 My son Bonapart Rodgers

 My son Jackson Rodgers

Lastly I, constitute and appoint my son Hays Rodgers and John Deaton, Executors.

 

 

Elly died in Grove Hill, Clarke County, Alabama in 1839.

The exact date of her death is unknown. Her burial place is unknown.

Elly is my 5th great grandmother.

41n6zHpRqRLI wrote a book about her called “Elly Hays.”

It’s available at Amazon. Click here. 

On This Day in 1828

On This Day in 1828, my 3rd great grandpa Jeremiah William Crane Jr was born.

He was born March 17 to Jeremiah William Crane Sr and Mary “Polly” Weldon in Alabama. He was the last of eight children who were born between 1798 and 1828. And, yes, they were celebrating St Patrick’s day around the world on that day. Places like New York and Boston were already hosting parades.

But, I stray from the story…

ted-states-1812-05-1812-06.pngDuring the turn of the century in Alabama, the Creek Indians were in the middle of a civil war, as well as fighting off the white men who were encroaching on Indian territory. The War of 1812 in the North was a fight between the British and the Americans, battling over waterways and trade routes. The War of 1812 in the South was between the Americans trying to expand their newly formed nation and the Indians who were armed by the British. The Mississippi Militia was formed across the Mississippi Territory to battle the Indians. At the time the Mississippi Territory encompassed all of Mississippi and Alabama. Alabama didn’t become a state until 1819.

In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed and was the first step in the removal of the Indians from the area. The American government began selling parcels of land quickly to get the area settled, and people soon began moving west from Alabama into Mississippi. At the time of the treaty, Jeremiah was only two, but his family had certainly witnessed great war and great change before he came along. His father had actually enlisted and served in Carson’s Regiment in the Mississippi Militia in 1814, but he only served for two months.

I assume things in the area calmed down a bit by the time Jeremiah became a man. I don’t have an official record of his marriage, but he was married to Sarah Frances Grimes, who was about four years his senior. They had their first child, a daughter whom they named Francis, in Alabama in 1847. Jeremiah was 18.

The whole family moved across the border into Mississippi during the next year, and this is where Jeremiah and Sarah’s second daughter, Emily, was born in 1848. Their third child was a son, George William Crane, in 1850, and all were residents of Clarke County, Mississippi in the 1850 census.

In 1852, they had my 2nd great grandfather Andrew Jackson “Jack” Crane, and in 1856, a daughter, Jerry Elizabeth.

After the birth of Jerry Elizabeth, there are no further records of Jeremiah.

The 1860 census shows Sarah living alone with the children- Francis, Emily, GW, Jack, and Jerry, but there is no husband listed. Above and below their names on the census are many of Jeremiah’s brothers with wives and families, and Jeremiah’s parents. They are all listed as farmers. Next to Sarah’s name, the occupation space is blank.

I don’t know what happened to Jeremiah, but he died somewhere between the ages of 28 and 32. The 1860 census states his wife was now 36 and his children were between the ages of 4 and 13.

Whatever happened to him, I hope he’s resting in peace.

Happy birthday, Grandpa Jeremiah William Crane!

forgetmenots

This post is brought to you by On This Day: A Perpetual Calendar for Family Genealogy

On This Day in 1836

On This Day in 1836 my 3rd great grandmother Sarah Ann Elvira Dollar was born.

Don’t you find the name “Dollar” to be a little strange? Well, her father was Ambrose Dollar, her grandfather was Reuben Dollar who came to America from Wales and fought in the Revolution, and her great grandfather was Edward Dolier – probably French Doh-lee-AY or Irish D’Olier. Either one of those makes more sense than Dollar.

Sarah Ann’s mother was Jemima Clearman, whose father was Jacob Van Clearman, whose father was John William Clearman from Germany.

Well, that’s just a crazy European mix, isn’t it?

Let’s go back to her dad’s side for just a moment. This is the transcription of the sworn statement of Dr. J.M. Dollar, the great grandson of Reuben Dollar.

betsy-ross-flag-usa-united-states-of-america-americaGause Texas, August 4th 1913
This is to certify that my great grandfather Reuben Dollar told me of fighting in the Revolutionary War when I was a boy. He came from Wales and fought in the war. He returned to Wales and was disinherited by his father for having fought against the British Crown. After which he returned to America and settled in Edgefield S.C. He died in Miss. in 1858 at the age of 113 years.
Signed J.M Dollar
State of Texas:
County Of Milam:
subscribed and sworn to before me this August 4th. 1913
J.R. Fraim, Notary Public, Milam co. Texas

I find these old records fascinating!!

Anyway, back to Sarah Ann…

pickensShe was the 6th born of 8 children, half boys, half girls. She was born March 11, 1836 in Pickens County, Alabama. Pickens County is right on the Mississippi border, and at some point between 1840 and 1850, the family moved west to Mississippi. At the age of 17, on October 6, 1853, she married William Lafayette Brown, Jr. in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Keep in mind, the above Patriot grandfather was still alive until 1858 and died in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, so he might have been living with them. If not living with Sarah Ann and her husband, at least with a nearby family member.

Sarah Ann gave birth to her first child at the age of 18, James Floyd Brown in 1854. He was followed by John Ambus Brown in 1857, Angeline Brown in 1859, William Harrison Brown in 1860,  Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown in 1862, Warren Brown in 1865, Franklin Carlton Brown in 1867, Charles Berry Brown in 1871, Pinkney Earlie Brown in 1874, and Martha Catherine Brown in 1877.

Do you notice anything strange about those birth dates?

Page 1When the Civil War broke out in 1861, her husband was about 25 years old. Yes, he went to fight for the Confederacy. As a matter of fact, he was a sniper who guarded Mississippi bridges in the area. At one point, he was captured by the Union. He escaped. He went back and allowed himself to be captured again to help others escape, which he/they did. After that, he had a bounty on his head for the rest of the war.

It doesn’t look like the war or the captures between 1861 and 1865 stopped him from visiting home at least a few times. Obviously he stopped by the house long enough for some hanky panky. The girl born in 1862 was my second great grandmother. Her birthday is the same day as mine, November 19.

One thing for sure, these people didn’t back down from a challenge! I look forward to doing more research on the Dollars and Clearmans very soon.

Sarah Ann died in Mississippi July 18, 1915 at the age of 79.

Happy birthday, Grandma Sarah Ann!!

brown william L and Sarah A at goodwater cemetery

This post brought to you by “On This Day,” a perpetual calendar for family genealogy.

Earthquakes in Tennessee??

Not only earthquakes, but huge 6.8 to 8.8 earthquakes!! They happened back in December of 1811 and January of 1812, but they could happen again.

new madridThe New Madrid Seismic Zone, (shown here compliments of Encyclopedia Brittanica) is six times larger than the San Andreas fault zone in California. It lies centered in New Madrid, Missouri, and the last time it shook it’s ugly head was two hundred years ago. It’s waaaay overdue!! Back in 1811/12, there were over 2000 earthquakes and aftershocks that shook the midwest. They were felt as far away as NY, Boston, and Washington D.C. President James Madison felt them at the White House.

No other quakes have produced so much damage in the history of the world. The Mississippi River ran backwards, crevasses opened up in the land, and missing people were assumed swallowed by the earth. It created two waterfalls in Mississippi.

The prediction for the future?? Some say an earthquake this size will split the United States in two. Some say we haven’t seen any activity from the New Madrid fault for two hundred years, so why worry about it now?

41n6zHpRqRL._UY250_My book Elly Hays opens with Tecumseh’s prediction for the quake, and the quake is the cause for the family moving from Tennessee to the Mississippi Territory. The story isn’t about the 1811/12 quakes, but they are the reason the story happened. Elly Hays is based on a true story and is the tale of my 5th great grandmother Elizabeth Hays Rodgers. It is the epic clash between a fearless warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.

Elly Hays is on SALE for only $0.99 at Amazon on Kindle April 1-5!

 

 

Samuel Dawson Grimes – oldest citizen of the county at 110?

My 4th great grandfather was Samuel Dawson Grimes. The line from me to him is my father Andy Crane, my grandfather Frank Crane, my great Amos Crane, my 2nd great Jack Crane, and my 3rd greats Jeremiah Crane and Sarah Frances Grimes.

I haven’t researched my Crane side very much, and certainly haven’t ventured into the wives on that side of the family, but today I found something pretty interesting.

Grandpa Grimes was born around 1757 in North Carolina. There are a few records indicating he participated in the American Revolution, but I haven’t been able to verify that (yet). He married Darcass Wall in 1788 and the two had seven children. At some point, the family moved to Brundidge, Pike County, Alabama, where he died in 1857.

brundidge_al

Since I don’t know his exact birth date, I find the following interesting. It’s from Find A Grave.

A newspaper article from the Troy Independent American, published on 22 April 1857, as transcribed by Susie K. Senn in her book “Newspaper Abstracts from Pike County, Alabama 1855-1861”:

The Oldest Man in Pike – Samuel D. Grimes, aged 110 years, and the oldest citizen of this county, died a few days since at his residence. Mr. Grimes enjoyed almost uninterrupted health up to a year or so before his death. For a great part of his life he was a member of the Baptist Church, and died as he lived, an honest, upright citizen and Christian. 

110??? Wow! That’s pretty considerable for the times.

I also found his probate records – all thirty hard-to-read handwritten pages. He seemed to be in debt to various local gentlemen, including the local merchant for the purchase of a pair of shoes, a handkerchief, five yards of cotton, and eight yards of calico for $3.45, which was used to “spruce up” his negro woman. His indebtedness was just over $1100.00, and his belongings were auctioned off for $98.00, most being bought by his grown children including his rifle for $1.30. There must have also been a sizable amount of land, as the debtors were paid and there was still plenty to leave to his children and his twenty grandchildren.

The 1840 census shows two adults in his household who couldn’t read or write. It also shows one slave, whom I assume is the “negro woman” mentioned above.

The 1850 census mentions that he is currently 93 years old, living with his daughter, so I think when he died in 1857 he was only 100, but the reporter from the Troy Independent American wasn’t very good at “cipherin’.”

union springsGrandpa Grimes is laid to rest in Union Spring Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Brundidge, Pike County, Alabama, where the 2010 census says the population is just over 2000 people, 33% living below the poverty line. I can imagine how small and poor it was in the 1800s when Grandpa Grimes lived there.

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)

Saturday Snippet of Elly Hays

elly cover_webElly Hays is based on real people and real events. She was my 5th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Hays Rodgers. I wrote about her granddaughter in Okatibbee Creek and about her great-granddaughter in An Orphan’s Heart, but I began to wonder where the strength of these women came from, so I backed up in the family tree and found Elly. She lived in the Mississippi Territory, today known as Alabama, in the early 1800s – through a most frightening time when the South was the unsettled frontier and the Creek Indians fought against the Americans for the rights to the land. Not only is this her story, but we also get to see it through the eyes of the Creek warrior, Tafv (pronounced TAH-fuh.)

Elly Hays is told in alternating chapters of Elly’s point of view and Tafv’s point of view, and from the first few chapters, you can sense their will be an epic clash between a warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.

Below is a snippet of the first meeting between Elly and Tafv’s brother Eto.

*******

She angrily plopped down on a rock and yanked dirty stockings from the basket. She dunked them in the water and began scrubbing them hard enough to put holes in them. She could feel her ears buzzing and her shortness of breath and realized she needed to calm down. She stopped scrubbing, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath through her nose, trying to slow her heart. She concentrated on releasing the tension in her shoulders and the knot in her stomach. She felt guilty for losing her temper with her husband, but frustration was taking over her life. Every day brought new problems—life-and-death problems. Her mounting anger was overriding her fear of the Indians and her love for her husband.

She opened her eyes when she heard him clear his throat behind her, and she turned to apologize for her harsh tone of voice. But when she saw the black eyes looking back at her that did not belong to James, she stopped and gasped. They belonged to an Indian, sitting tall on a brown and white painted horse. She hadn’t heard him approach. She jumped to her feet, wondering where she could run.

The Indian was bare-chested, wearing only tan animal hide pants and moccasins. His hair was short, shaved on the sides and sticking up higher on top. Most of the Indians she had seen had this same haircut. His face was covered with lines of red and black paint, and he wore a headband tied around his head with strips of animal fur hanging on either side of his face. His headband was not adorned with any feathers. This was not the same Indian she had seen before.

He stared at her for a long time and did not move. She glanced across the swift creek to the left and right, but there was nowhere to run. She would never be able to outrun a horse. Her heart beat wildly as beads of sweat broke out on her brow. She remained frozen.

“I came to warn you,” the Indian said in a monotone.

Elly was surprised by his English.

He sat motionless, waiting for her response.

She finally blurted out, “Warn me about what? That you want us to leave? We already got that warning.” She could feel her temper escalating again. All of the tension she had felt the last few months, all of the worry for her children, all of the stress of building a new life, was about to explode in this Indian’s face.

“Yes, I’m here to warn you that you need to leave, but not for the reason you are thinking.” He looked down at the reins in his hands, as if trying to gather his thoughts and find the correct words. “My brother and I were the ones who killed your animals.”

Elly threw a wet stocking on the ground. She hadn’t realized she was still holding it, and it had dripped down her blue linen skirt, causing the front of her dress to become dark in color. “You? You did that? How am I supposed to feed my children?” she raised her voice, her temper becoming stronger than her fear.

“This is the least of your worries. When your husband chased us away, my brother’s boy fell from his horse and snapped his neck.” His eyes carried a tint of sadness. “The boy is dead.”

Elly felt her heart soften for a young boy she didn’t even know. Her anger began to subside, as if it were being washed away by the babbling creek beside her. “I’m…I’m very sorry to hear that,” she stammered, wringing her wet hands together.

“You must understand, my brother is the great warrior of our village. He has vowed revenge on your husband and your family for the death of his son.”

Elly’s eyes widened as the Indian continued.

“He told our Great Chief your husband killed his son, and the Great Chief has given him permission to slaughter your family.”

Elly was shocked by the revelation and quickly shook her head. “No. My…my husband would never kill a boy. He’s never killed anyone, for any reason.”

“Our great warrior does not know this.”

“Please tell him. Tell him my husband didn’t kill his son.” She took a step forward as she begged.

The Indian shook his head and looked at her with compassion. “I cannot tell him anything. I can only warn you. You must leave now…before it’s too late.”

Elly placed her hand over her mouth as tears stung her eyes. Her body began to tremble, and she turned her face toward the creek so the Indian would not see her cry. After a moment, she composed herself, wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, and turned back toward the Indian, but he was gone. She looked left and right through the trees, but it seemed he had simply vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

************

3booksElly Hays is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

Elly Hays received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival, it was on the short list of “50 self-published books worth reading 2013/14” at Indie Author Land, and the cover was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. It is the third book of the Okatibbee Creek Series, following Okatibbee Creek and An Orphan’s Heart.