Davy Crockett Connected to Buncombe County

Last week I was working at the Old Buncombe County Genealogical Library (OBCGS)  and was surprised to have a call from John Le at our local television station WLOS asking about the relationship between Elizabeth Patton and Davy Crockett. We made a few phone calls to our local experts and found the right books with the story. He was researching background information because a portrait of her was being auctioned and he wanted to know more about her relationship with Crockett. Continue reading

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Gravestone Gravity, cont.

rathe_holton_met05asdf  Picture by Joanne Rathe, Boston Globe

Well, I starting reading about the restoration of gravestones so I could learn more about the process since we may be doing this for one of our ancestors this year. There is a lot of information on this topic, but if you need to preserve a stone, be careful and talk to several experts before hiring someone or conducting the work yourself. Continue reading

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Gravestone Gravity

We went to a cemetery a couple of weeks ago to look at an ancestor’s stone to make a plan to install a second stone – for his wife. We have known that she was buried there for many years, even though she has no gravestone. We measured his stone, copied every word and took lots of pictures. We wanted to get the new stone to match as close as possible.


What I wondered was how deep is a stone buried in the ground – it must be several feet. So then I wondered does the stone continue to be buried over the years? This ancestor died in 1857. I know in my garden, stones around a tree get buried in a couple of years and I have to dig them up and re-position them. Could this mean the gravestone has continued to be buried a little bit each year over the last 157 years – is that what happens?

I looked it up on the Internet to see how deep a gravestone has to be buried, but didn’t find an exact answer.  I need to do some more research and report back because I wanted to get this posted on Halloween night so I’m out of time.

Happy Candy Passing!

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Quilts Can Preserve Family History

On a whim, I went to the Asheville Quilt Show put on by the Asheville Quilt Guild last weekend. I just loved all the creativity displayed there, but I was overwhelmed with the thought of making any quilt, especially those abstract designs, until I found the “Art” categories.

IMG_2527 There was “Pictorial”, “Naturescape/Landscape” and “Special Quilt Technologies”. I instantly thought of all the family pictures I have and wondered if there was one or two that I could transfer to cloth to become a new heirloom.



Continue reading

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Where Did They Come From?

While I was doing some research a few days ago, I found a most interesting interactive map on the New York Times website that shows the movement of people in and out of each of the 50 states between 1900 and 2012.

When I looked at North Carolina, I was interested to learn that there are twice as many people living in NC who were born in New York than those who were born in South Carolina! When I lived in Asheville, in the mountains, we called local New Yorkers “Half Backs” because they usually moved from New York to Florida and up to NC to escape the summer heat – thus, they moved half way back!

Thinking about this phenomena in today’s community, I wondered what migration trends people witnessed in the 1700s and 1800s. Maybe they had pet names for those trends, too. Some of our family moved further south from the NC mountains for Georgia, Alabama and Texas seeking new land to farm and mining for gold. Maybe there was a “Georgia Gold Rush”? So I Googled it and found out one did exist and started in 1828, around the time my people went south in the early 1830s! In fact, there was so much gold being mined in GA that the state government held a “Gold Lottery of 1832″ which awarded land to settlers – in 40 acres plots – that was previously held by the Cherokee. The federal government even got into the act by building a branch mint in Dahlonega, GA. That town was said to have supported 15,000 miners at the height of the gold rush.

Our cousins still live in northwest Georgia, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, and when researching their ancestors’ land deeds they found the earliest ancestor did in fact own a gold mine – one they set up and mined themselves. Apparently there were many such personal mines in the area so it was competitive. They didn’t get rich because it was hard work to get the gold out of the granite, but they were happy with the extra income.

Now I am even more inquisitive about family migration – there were usually good reasons to move, and those reasons will add generously to the ancestor’s stories. I really must go to north Georgia to explore the area. I’ve heard the Pine Mountain Gold Mine and Museum in Villa Rica, GA is a good example of the mines that sprang up in the 1830s. I want to get a feel for the gold fever that my ancestors felt!


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Family Picnics

We had our family picnic yesterday (14 June 2014) in Asheville on Lake Julian. We started having them again on the second Saturday of June because that was the habit for most summers since the 1920’s.

Our common ancestor is Benjamin Hawkins who came to the western North Carolina mountains when the counties were being formed. He settled in just before the very first U.S. census was taken following the Revolutionary War. Benjamin was living in Rutherford County at the time of that first census (in 1790). Two years later, in 1792, Buncombe County was formed out of Rutherford and Burke Counties, so he next appears in Buncombe County in the U.S. Census of 1800.  Continue reading

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My Thrift Store Families

I was in a thrift store last year looking for some sewing patterns and found an envelope marked $5.00. Inside were some pictures of people from the early 1900’s that looked like they were related. In fact, several of the pictures were marked with names and one or two had dates written on them. Continue reading

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A Disposing Mind

Today I was talking to another researcher about a will that he transcribed for me and he said he figured out one of the words he just couldn’t decipher earlier.  He recently found the word – disposing – in several other wills he was working on. Here is how it was used in a sentence:

“I, Benjamin Hawkins of the county of Buncombe in the state of North Carolina being distressed in body but of sound and disposing mind and memory….” Continue reading

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The Launch

So this is my new blog focusing on genealogy, history and all things ancestral. I want to share ideas on research techniques, preserving family artifacts and breaking down brick walls. Located in western North Carolina, I conduct research on families and their descendants who settled these mountains. They are resilient, hardworking and talented people who live here and I find it endlessly interesting to read about their lives. In this blog I will describe new resources, unusual research techniques and first hand experiences working in genealogy

Note – my friend Jay Maveety let me know that there are new records on familysearch.org in the North Carolina section. You’ll find new listings under Civil Action Records, County Marriages, Estate Files and Freedmans’ Bureau Records all updated in March, April and May of this year. Continue reading

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