Monday, May 13, 2013

Changes With Writing a True Book

I've taken a short break from writing the last week or so.  Just to think, mainly.  I've changed the format of the book now twice, and wondering if I need to change it again.

This is a hard book to write for the main reason I am a character in the story, but not the important character.  I am the narrator, yes.  But I feel I need to write about the changes I, as the author, went through in writing the book.

There were periods when I walked away from the story and thought I was crazy for even trying to take on this task.

Then there was a time when I suffered a major depression that lasted for months.  During that time, I thought a lot about my mother and the years she was sick, both physically and spiritually, when I was a child.  Had I inherited this?  My doctors thought it possible.

I remembered then, for maybe the first time, that my father had also been depressed.  Just in a different way.  He was the breadwinner, the workaholic, and also the alcoholic.  And I remember the times of his depression that I didn't recognize as depression.

Part of my family history caused my father's depression, his behavior that few people understood.  

The book, in its present state, is in my opinion 100 percent better than the first draft, which is usually the case with any first draft.  But as I get closer to the end now, the third edit, here I am wondering if I should have written about my journey through this book.  Is it important?

I don't see myself writing a memoir about my life.  This is the book, here and now.  What goes into it is THE book.

I may write my mother's family history book.  Not sure.  I feel I owe it to her.  It would be way different than this Dean book.  Her family history is so different, and the research has already been done by one of Mom's cousins years ago.  I've got the Leeds family back to the 1600s.  

However, today, I'm editing the Deans through the 1900s, telling my grandmother's story, my father and aunts and uncles.  Recent stuff.  I'm alive finally and part of the story.

How much do I tell of what I saw?  Who really wants to know?  Do I keep this clean and happy?  Is that what my family wants to read?

I knew I would get to this point.  This part is easier to edit because I don't need as much research into the timeline events.  I knew what was happening in the world and my own community.  I can paint those word pictures.  But then there's the hard part.

I always knew I'd reach this decision crossroad.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fan Chart Awesomeness

I am in love with the new, improved Family  

How awesome is the fan chart for my father?  

In the past, I've found, when I'm up against that brick wall, go to Family Search and try again.  This is how I found my 2nd Great Grandmother's ship passage from France to the U.S.  

I am a fan!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Am I Working On Wednesday?

Borrowing this blog post title from National Archives site.

Researching today, and past two days, transportation in Appalachia Kentucky in the 1880s.  Should finish this up today.

When an ancestor moves a significant distance, as my great grandfather John Dean did in 1885, it's natural to wonder how that ancestor got there.  Remember, no automobiles.  The choices:

  • Horse and wagon  
  • Horseback.
  • Train, steam engine
  • River, flat boats, barges, steamboats

The 1870's initiated a new era in Kentucky's transportation history. Closer markets, cheaper goods, and expanded shopping facilities combined to produce the "Age of Railroading." Between 1870 and 1900 railway mileage tripled. The Louisville & Nashville, Mobile & Ohio, Illinois Central, Cincinnati-Southern, Chesapeake & Ohio and Norfolk & Western plus a host of intrastate lines vied with each other in various regions of the state... No state highway system existed in Kentucky, and the counties had the responsibility for highway construction and maintenance. These roads, many of which were toll pikes, were so poor that residents traveled them only as a last resort; the era of better highways in Kentucky awaited the coming of the automobile.  
The railroad greatly altered the lifestyles of all but the most isolated Kentuckians by stimulating the industrial development of the state.~

I'm thinking the combination of riverboat and train, including a little walking in between, is how a lot of the people traveled in the 1880s.

John, age 20, was traveling from Orangeburg, Kentucky, the last home he lived in with his parents, to Casey County, Kentucky, 134 miles south.

What did he do there?  He married his first wife.

Fifteen years later, he married my Great Grandmother Nellie.  My Grandfather Frank was three years old by the time John got the divorce from Delila, his first wife.

And so started the life of my rogue Grandfather Frank Dean.

What I'm wondering today is, when John traveled to Casey County in 1885, did he ask to borrow the family horse and buggy from his father Elisha?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Free eBooks From Memoir Writer's Blog

Denis Ledoux's Memoir Writer's Blog is celebrating his new blog's look by giving away some good ebooks.  I just downloaded mine and will be reading tonight!  Get yours free before Friday midnight by clicking link below.

Free ebooks on Smashwords & a Giveaway
Posted by Denis Ledoux
Allow me introduce you to Have you used this terrific e-book distribution platform to your benefit yet? Whether you are an aspiring or experienced independent writer or simply an avid reader, you’ll find this website a terrific resource for purchasing affordable e-books or publishing your own new titles electronically.
Perhaps you didn’t know that here at The Memoir Network, we have seven available titles at Smashwords. What’s even better is that these titles are *FREE* for you until April 19. It’s our gift to you! But don’t worry if you’ve missed the free offer; these will still available after this offer at a small fee.
I love getting things free, especially books that inspire and help me write better.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From River Town to Appalachia and Back

Covered Bridge in Fleming County
Courtesy of

1880 Fleming County  

Elisha and Betsey have moved again, to Fleming County, the small town of Muses Mill, once again in Appalachia. As before, I still assume this move was because of the opportunity for better land.,_Kentucky

Mason County, where they'd moved from, though only one county away, isn't considered part of Appalachia, while Morgan and Fleming Counties both are.  I think I can safely say my Dean family was Appalachian, coming from Rockingham, Virginia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky.  During all of these moves, they would have traveled by horse and covered wagon, or ox or mule and wagon, transporting what meager possessions they were able to take with them.    

On the Muses Mill farm, John, now 18, is helping his father tend the fields.  His sister, Mary, is age 20 and still living at home.  Older brother James, 27, is now head of his own household, living either next-door or in a different dwelling on the same farm, with his wife Sarah and their two-year-old son, Elisha, most certainly named after his grandfather.

Not surprisingly, one of the Martin families lives next door to the Deans in Muses Mill.   B. William Martin, age 45, wife Jane, 38, and children, Rebecca, Nancy, and Mary.  I am obsessed with finding the Martin - Dean connection.  I know there's one there, and I'm betting it's Elisha's mother, Elizabeth. 

An additional family member, Leander Dean, is living with Elisha and Betsey now and is listed as their “son.” However, I found him on the 1850 Census for Maury County, Tennessee when he was two months old, living with his parents, Josiah and Siann Dean. I know this is the same Leander because Josiah and Siann are living next door to “Green” Dean, good old Greenberry who we've come across earlier.  

Both Green and Josiah were born in Maury County, and I'm wondering if Elisha was born there as well.  Are they brothers?  If they are, then Leander is Elisha's nephew, and I can see where he might be staying there in Muses Mill, maybe helping to work the farm.  I believe they are all related.

20 Years Later: Back in Mason County

Most of Kentucky's 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire, so I was unable to track the location of Elisha and Betsey and their family during this time.  At least for now.

Elisha is now 75 years old and widowed, though I don't know when Betsey died, and he lives back in Mason County, Magisterial District Eight, which is Orangeburg, again.  He's living with son, James, and daughter-in-law Sarah, or "Sadie, and they now have two more children, Sudie, age 12, and David, age 5. Elisha, who would now be 22, is not present in the home. I found him in 1910 in Chicago with his wife Agnes and three children, Daisy, Beatrice, and Violette.  He moved from Illinois to Madison, Indiana, later, where he died on September 18, 1958.

Elisha Edward Dean, Chicago, Illinois
1879 Kentucky -1958 Indiana
My 1st Cousin, Twice Removed

Also missing from the family now is John, my great grandfather, who I found moved to Cincinnati about this same time.  He probably wasn't cut out to be a farmer.

After 1900, there are no records for the senior Elisha, including death information. I assume he and Betsey are laid to rest in Orangeburg, or somewhere else in Mason County. 

Over the last year, I've met online some of the descendants of the grandson Elisha (pictured above), and we compare notes to try to climb farther up the family tree. 

I’ve also communicated with some Martins and Jenkins “cousins,” trying to solve some of the mysteries.

I see a Volume 2 possibly in my future. 

For now, though,  I’m ready to publish what I have managed to excavate out of a very large genealogical mountain.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Great Grandfather John: The Deans of Orangeburg

Elisha Dean, 1827, Tennessee m. Betsey Jenkins, 1824, North Carolina
John T. Dean, about 1865, Orangeburg Kentucky

In 1865, Elisha and Betsey moved from Appalachian Morgan County to Orangeburg, the birthplace of my Great Grandfather John Dean.

In June 2012, we visited this tiny town in Mason County, Kentucky, on a mission to find gravestones of my Dean ancestors.  Unfortunately, all we found were neglected, ancient spots in a dense woods and a few broken, unreadable stones.

While this sign points the way, there was no cemetery.  Where it had been was a neglected wasteland.

Orangeburg is 62.7 miles from Cincinnati, traveling Highway 52 East.  Looking at the map, there seems to be no other way to get there, after taking exit #71 off I-275-E, going towards New Richmond.  After reaching Maysville, the county seat, it’s only seven miles to Orangeburg, coming in on Highway 10.  

Maysville, the Big City

Maysville and Aberdeen separated by the Ohio River.
Kentucky Digital Library

Maysville is a River town, and on the opposite bank lies Aberdeen, Ohio. Two different bridges now connect the two towns, but there was no bridge until 1931.  Before that Ferries ran across the river between Aberdeen and Maysville.

The move from Morgan County to Orangeburg

This really is a little town

The trip from Morgan County to Maysville is 72 miles, and then to Orangeburg another seven miles, over the Orangeburg Road.  In 1865, those miles stretched more than double they do now.   What we can drive in just a little over an hour, took at least a day by horse and buggy, or stagecoach.  I doubt any of the Deans walked to Orangeburg.

Courtesty of Northern Kentucky Views

The 1870 Census shows John at age five and his brother James age 18 and Mary age 16.  James is farming with his father, and Mary is “at home,” meaning she is not in school and probably sharing the domestic duties with her mother and helping to run the house.  Not many schools existed at this point in history, and Kentucky was one of the slowest states in getting public schools up and running.  Some of this was due to misuse of funds.  The government allocated the money, but it was always spent on what was considered more important at the time.

The earliest schools were actually tuition based, meaning only the privileged children were eligible.  The early free public schools were the one-room type with the wood stove in the middle of the room.  Most kids attended barefoot. Even as late as the 1940s, and some even up until 1960s in Appalachia, the one-room schoolhouses still operated.

The census shows Elisha’s birth date as 1821, which is six years earlier than first stated.  He and Betsey were ages 44 and 41 when John was born.

1870 United States Federal Census about Elisha Dean
Name: Elisha Dean
Age in 1870: 49
Birth Year: abt 1821
Birthplace: Tennessee
Home in 1870: Orangeburg, Mason, Kentucky
Race: White
Gender: Male
Post Office: Orangeburg
Name Age
Elisha Dean 49
Elizabeth Dean 46
James Dean 18
Mary Dean 16
John Dean 5

I wonder if my great grandfather as a little boy enjoyed the river and the boats coming and going, like most boys his age.

On the river near Maysville
Courtesy of North Kentucky Views

 I know hardly anything about my great grandfather, no family stories or facts.  I don’t remember Grandma ever saying anything about her father-in-law.

Was he a heavy drinker like his son, my grandfather Frank?  What kind of man was he?

I think I can answer that question in Chapter 7, at least as far as his character as a husband and father are concerned.

And then I wonder about Elisha, John’s father.  I like to think of Elisha as a decent guy.  I know he was a farmer, meaning he did not work in the coal mines like many Kentucky mountain men. I know a lot of farmers here in my little community in Tennessee, and they're well respected.

 I don’t think Elisha was a sharecropper because the family owned farm land in 1850, in Morgan County.

I guess, like so many farmers in that time period, Elisha was in search of better land.  A better place to make a home for his family.  First the family left Tennessee for Kentucky, and now he moves to another farm quite a distance away for those times.

I wonder if he bought land in Orangeburg and had to build a cabin on it, or if there was a dwelling already on the land.

I sure wish I had an ancestor still living who knew the answers to my questions, who could show me pictures of the people and places I write about.  But I have to simply use my imagination along with the facts I dig up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Betsey Jenkins Dean

Solomon Jenkins, 1796, & Laney Ellis, 1799, North Carolina
Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins, 1824, North Carolina
Married Elisha Dean about 1850

It took me a long time to find Betsey. I’d been searching for Betsey “Judkins,” the name my great grandfather, John Dean, gave on his marriage license for his mother.  When every search led to Betsey Jenkins, I had to give up for a while.  This was just too hard.

 To make it worse, I had knee surgery with the attendant pain drugs and rehab for seven weeks. My body doesn’t handle drugs like it used to, and I really slipped into a depression. The book just sat there for two whole months.

I finally got over the surgery, and when the drugs were out of my system, I returned to work, writing just a little each day, and soon I found the link that pulled Betsey's family together, and I learned she was really Betsey Jenkins Dean.

I feel like I know Betsey well now, having lived with her for nearly a year, tracing her family as far back as I can, and reading many early accounts of life for these 1700-1800s pioneers, especially in this part of the country, Pennsylvania to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Kentucky. I can’t find adequate words to describe the impact this reading has had on me.

I wanted to know about the journey Betsey’s family took from North Carolina to Tennessee and on to Kentucky, and I found an account that gave me a whole new perspective on my ancestors' lives.

An essay of what it might have been like for a wife and mother 200 years ago, what might have gone on in her mind:

Johnny is decided. I reckon I have but one choice and it ain't an easy one."He says we have no choice, that we have to move on west and that now is the time to do it. There is land waiting in Tennessee he says, land that can be ours. He says any citizen of North Carolina now has a right to what ain't taken. He says there is nothin here for us anymore, and I am reckoning that is right too. But my heart is twisting in the inside of me and that is so as well.
I got three babies buried out back there to leave behind…"And taint no sense dwellin' on it. I know good and well could be none of us gonna make it, and for sure, if we stayed here neither there ain't no guarantee ...whole families I watched wiped out by first one thing and then the other. Caint vouch that the natives won't get us, nor a sickness, nor bad water, nor a piece of bad blood waiting to ambush us on the trail. Cain't vouch that river won't get us, have heard about that river and the places in it. Cain't vouch how long what supplies we have will last, nor for sure we can get more. Caint vouch for nothin much at all, 'cept Johnny is right.
Ain't nothin much for us here, gettin less and less all the time, and what of our babies make it, if any of em do, well they will have a better chance for it. They may can own their own land this way, get by easier in the world once that place is settled in. Maybe they can have things someday me and Johnny never dreamed of. But it shorely is a high price to pay. It shorely is.
And I reckon I'll follow Johnny even if my heart is twisting and bleedin' inside of me to where I don't know how I am gonna keep on keepin on. Johnny is decided and I reckon he is right. ~ Pioneer Migration from North Carolina to Tennessee By Jan Philpot,

These early settlers either walked or went by horse and wagon, likely crossing the Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap

The Jenkins Family in Wilkes County

Betsey’s family history goes back a long, long way, on her mother’s side. Possibly all the way back to Wales, but I haven’t verified that yet. Her parents, Solomon Jenkins and Laney Ellis were both born in North Carolina and lived in Wilkes County, where I presume Betsey was born.

Wilkes County, formed in 1777, sprawls over the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Wilkes County in the upper left corner, #1777, close to the Tennessee State Line

An 18-year-old Solomon Jenkins, Betsey's father,  is described on the Army Register of Enlistments during the War of 1812 as a five-foot, eight-inch tall boy with grey eyes, light colored hair, and a fair complexion.

North Carolina Census, 1790-1890
CollectionName: Solomon Jenkin
State: NC
County: Warren County Regiment
Township: Seventh Company
Year: 1812
Database: NC 1812-1814
Muster Rolls Jenkins Sololmon |3rd Regt. |7th Co. |Detached From The Warren Regt   

Since his birth place is stated on the above document as Richmond County North Carolina, I searched and found the first tax list after the establishment of Richmond County, where a “William Jenkins, 260” is listed.  I can't imagine that is two hundred sixty dollars.  Maybe acres, or the lot number of his land.

Then an Census record shows William Jenkins in 1795, a year before Solomon’s approximated birth, in Richmond County.

Possibly William is the father of Solomon. I can’t verify this, but genealogy is like good wine. The longer it sits and ages, the more answers are revealed, making it a fine vintage.

Continuing my research, I found Solomon in the 1840 Census in Capt. Wellborn’s District in Wilkes County. Evidently, districts were named after their army captains.

The census records before 1850 don’t list all the members of the household by name and birth date, but only the head of household’s name and how many people in separate age groups live in the home, including how many slaves. I was happy that Solomon had no slaves, just nine white children of various ages.

My next find was an interesting one involving Laney. She is mentioned in the will of her father, Willis Ellis, who died after Laney got married and became a Jenkins. She is referred to as “Lany Genkens.” Obviously the spelling is a little off there.

The will is dated January 28, 1851, and recorded in Wilkes County. According to this document, Willis left his sons Thomas and Carter Ellis, and daughter Lany Genkens one dollar each, so they probably received their part of the estate before his death. Nothing is mentioned about his other children. Could be that Thomas, Carter and Laney were the only ones who’d gotten married and left home.

The Jenkins of Morgan County, Kentucky

I didn't know Betsey's family moved to Morgan County when I wrote the first draft of the book.  I only knew they were from North Carolina.  Then I read online where researchers on several Wilkes County forums posted that Solomon and Laney came to Morgan County from Wilkes County between 1846 and 1849 and remained in Morgan County until they died.

The Jenkins family is first mentioned in the 1850 Census for Morgan County, just like the Deans, and of course Betsey is living with Pleasant Martin's family on that census, next door to the Deans, and 10 years later on the 1860 census living with the Deans, as covered in an earlier chapter.  Or as they say, the rest is history.  And in this case it really is.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Murder in the Mystery Family

The Martins and the Dean Families
Who Are These Martins?

Eastern Kentucky and the Civil War

1850 United States Federal Census for Morgan County, Kentucky

Family Number: 365
Household Members:

Pleas Martin 38 (”Pleasant”)
Martha Martin 36
John Martin 16
William Martin 13
George Martin 11
Nancy Martin 10
Lucinda Martin 8
Elizabeth Martin 5
Angeline Martin 1
Elizabeth Jenkins 24 (Betsey, my 2nd Great Grandmother)

I'm still uncertain of the relationship between the Martins and the Dean.  They appear, in online records, to travel together.  Pleasant Martin was born in Tennessee, as was my 2nd great grandfather Elisha and his brother Daniel Dean, who later became a Martin.  I'm still questioning whether Elisha's mother, Elizabeth Dean, was married to a Martin before she became a Dean.

During this time period we're looking at, a well known fact is that families moved together to new cities and states. Most of the information people got back then was by word of mouth, and hearing of a better place to live and raise your crops and your family, they’d pack up their meager belongings and set out on foot or wagon for that lush green meadow others talked about.  Kentucky in the early 1800s was one such place.

The Martin family could have just been neighbors of Elizabeth Dean and her family in 1850, and Betsey may have been a maid or nanny for the Martins. Pleasant and his wife had seven children that year of the census and clearly could have used some domestic help.

Researching Pleasant Martin revealed, first of all, that the name “Pleasant” was not as unique as I’d thought. There were quite a few Pleasants in the records.

The next bit of information that surfaced for my ancestors' neighbor was that he was murdered in 1863 by the “Rebels,” he and a fellow named Reason Grayson, as told in a letter I found online.

A Civil War Letter from Henry Hurst to his brother William

Mt. Sterling, Kentucky October 7, 1863 Dear Brother: I received your letter yesterday and it gave me great pleasure to hear that you were well. I have not heard from father since Daniel wrote you; but I suppose he is on the mend. There has been a terrible crime committed here and I will tell you about it. The Rebels ran into Camargo and caught Pleasant Martin, Asbury Nickell, a son of Spaniard Nickell, Charles Little, a son of Phillip Little, Reason Grayson and Robert Nickell. They took them to Sycamore bridge near Ticktown and lined them up and told them they were going to parole them. They had them cross their hands on their breasts, telling them they were about to administer the oath; but instead they placed their guns against them and fired. All were killed dead except Robert Nickell who was shot near the right nipple, the bullet came out about five inches lower in the back. He fell off into the creek and they fired three more shots at him, one bullet struck his arm. He played off dead and they left him. As soon as they left he managed to get to a man's house who came and let us know. We took him to Mt. Sterling and then chased the Rebels to James Gibbs' on the dry ridge, there they scattered and we lost them. I think Nickells will get well, the Dr. says he is now out of danger. This same crowd after the killing at the bridge reached the home of Jacob Stephens, they took his pocket book with about $30.00 and shot him dead in his own home. They then went on and caught that man, Jenkins, who was shot so often. The treatment they gave him was much worse than death. They took all privileges from him that was allowed a man by nature and told him that if that did not kill him they would come back and finish the job. You wanted to know if Salyers and I had completed our job of enrolling. We have done all we can do without an armed force to assist us. We finished all except some of the Sandy territory when the Rebels got after us and captured our papers that we had finished and we had to do all the work over. We started in again and have about the same amount done as before; but they ran us out. We have made application three times for men to aid us; but they have not arrivfed. We are ready any time we can get protection. I want to complete this work as soon as possible for my time will soon be out, then I intend to go to some other country. I have of my present enlistment one month and five days yet to serve. Cockerell has offered me a 1st Lieutenants place in his Company which might be better than working with the Home Guards. Your Brother, H.C. Hurst

This was posted on  Ancestry  by laryssabeth on 7 Jun 2007.

The above letter not only tells the story of Pleasant Martin and others being caught by Confederate soldiers, it also gives us a look at what the war was actually like where our Dean ancestors lived.

Kentucky, trying to remain impartial in the war, had both Union and Confederate fighters. Obviously, we see Morgan County was Yankee territory, if the Southern Rebels captured Pleasant and these other fellows.

I feel it's too much of a coincidence that the Martins live one farm over from the Deans, and one of the Dean residents ends up changing his name to Martin, and a girl who ends up being my 2nd great grandmother lives with the Martins.  The fact that they all appear to come from the same place before settling in Morgan County, Kentucky, is also a factor.

Too much of a coincidence is all I can think. The research continues as the book goes on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Elisha Dean: The Civil War

James Dean (1780-1862) m. Elizabeth Dean
 3rd Great  Grandparents
Elisha Dean (1825-?)  m. Sarah Elizabeth (Betsy) Jenkins
 2nd Great Grandparents

Kentucky's Role in the Civil War.

In 1860, when the census people came around, Elizabeth’s supposed son Daniel Dean, now goes by the last name Martin.  Looks like Daniel had a different father than Elisha, meaning their mother, Elizabeth was married first to a Martin and then to a Dean, before she gave birth to Elisha.

…or she was not married to a Martin, and Daniel is somebody else’s son?

An exhaustive search for Daniel Martin’s father has turned up nothing.  And more people than me are looking for him.  None of the other Martin or Dean family trees have a father for Daniel, but his mother is listed as Elizabeth Martin-Dean.  I don’t think anyone knows Elizabeth’s maiden name. Still the Shady Lady.

I went back to the 1850 census and looked at every name on the page, and I was surprised to find two Martin families living in the next two houses after Elizabeth Dean and her two sons.  The dwelling  numbers run consecutively 364, 365, and 366.

Number 365 is the home of Pleasant Martin, born in Tennessee in 1812.  One of the residents in his home is not a Martin.  She is Elizabeth Jenkins, age 26, born in North Carolina.

 Elizabeth Jenkins becomes my 2nd great grandmother.

Are these Martins related to Daniel Dean Martin, who lives in Elizabeth’s house, a half-brother of my 2nd great grandfather Elisha?

Why was he listed  as a Dean in 1850?

You have to study a lot of records, especially the census, to understand how many mistakes are made on these old documents.  Many times the census takers “assumed” facts on their own.  Sometimes families claimed children who might be just related to them, a niece or nephew perhaps, who was living with them at the time.  Anything was possible.


Aside from Daniel Dean turning into a Martin, the 1860 Census lists new residents in the Dean home.

  • Mary L. Martin, age 7, born in Kentucky, who I believe is the daughter of Daniel.
  • Elizabeth Jenkins, now age 30, born in North Carolina.  She has moved from the Martin household to live with the Deans.
  • James N. Jenkins, age nine, who is Elizabeth Jenkins’ son.  

Little nine-year-old James N. Jenkins becomes James Newton Dean, after his mother marries my 2nd Great Grandfather Elisha, and he remained Elisha’s son until his death on July 26, 1927 in Kankakee, Illinois.

James Newton Dean, Great Grand Uncle

Elizabeth did not age much in 10 years, from one census to the next.  She was 26 in 1850 and is now only 30, in 1860.   Census records don’t always add up right, and a lot of people did not know their actual birth dates.  They were born at home.  Many didn’t have birth certificates.

The Martin families are no longer next-door neighbors in 1860, though they remain in Division 2, Morgan County. Was Daniel related to them?  Was it merely coincidence that he had the same last name as the people in the next two houses?  Maybe it was.  No research has turned up any connection with them, but I've never given up on finding Daniel's real father.


On October 3, 1863, the Civil War has been going on for two years, and Elisha, age 40, is drafted in Morgan County, Kentucky.  I wonder if he and Elizabeth Jenkins were married before he left for duty, and her son James was given the Dean name.

3rd from top, Elisha’s draft record, Kentucky 9th Congressional Distsrict, Sub-District No. 6

Kentucky was a neutral state in the war, or at least they’re said to be, but hot sentiments ran deep both for Confederates and the Union.  “Brother against brother,” is a familiar description of Kentucky.

Kentucky was one of the "border states" in the Civil War, both geographically and politically. It was situated on the dividing line between the northern and southern regions of the United States. And it was one of only a few slave states that opted to stay in the Union. Though the Commonwealth was officially neutral, its citizens were deeply divided over the issues that caused the Civil War, and over the war itself -- a division symbolized by the fact that both Civil War presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were Kentucky native sons.~

I haven’t found a record I could validate for Elisha fighting in any of the battles, but I uncovered some possibilities, one being an Elisha Dean in Clinch’s Light Artillery Regiment in Georgia, which was definitely fighting for the Confederacy.  The birth dates and state of origin are not listed for the men, so it’s hard to know if this is a serious possibility.

Despite Elisha being from Kentucky,  he may have ended up in a heavy Confederate State, regardless of  his personal sentiments or loyalty.  He might have been fighting for Dixie.

This same Elisha Dean, fighting for Georgia, was taken prisoner of war.

Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 about Elisha Dean
Name: Elisha Dean
Side: Confederate
Roll: M598_114
Roll Title:  Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865

This POW Elisha, was in the 80th Cavalry, captured at Waynesboro on December 4, 1864, and released on June 10, 1865.

Another interesting fact is that Cincinnati came across the Ohio River in raids on some of the Kentucky counties, one being Morgan County, where the Deans lived, and where Elisha was drafted.  The Yankees took these Kentucky prisoners  back to Cincinnati and housed them in basements of buildings.  Sub-District Number 6 was one of those units captured in a raid on Morgan County, though I can’t find Elisha’s name on the list of prisoners.

Was he shipped off to Georgia?  Was he defending Morgan County in some capacity?  Questions I still want to answer.

But the second edit continues.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Shady Lady

Early 1800s Methodist Camp Meeting in the Colonies, when my 3rd great grandmother
 was in her 20s
I've been searching for any info on Elizabeth Dean, my 3rd Great Grandmother for two years.  She has stayed at the top of the Dean Family Tree as the earliest ancestor so far, born in 1785, in Virginia.

I did some research on Virginia in the 1700s and early 1800s to add a little local flavor to Elizabeth's story, especially since I have no photos of her or her gravestone.  

Rolling a "Hogs-Head" barrel  of tobacco to the pier.  Growing tobacco in Virginia
became so popular as a money-maker, depleting the soil eventually,
so early settlers torn their houses down and moved farther inland
 to continue growing  their tobacco in its space.

What information I do have on Elizabeth begins with the 1850 census for Morgan County, Kentucky, where she is a 65-year-old farmer who owns $1,000 worth of real estate and has two sons, Elisha Dean, age 24, and Daniel Dean, age 35. Elizabeth says she was born in Virginia and both sons were born in Tennessee.

 Daniel's last name would change over the next 10 years, adding even more problems in figuring out these early Dean ancestors.  Elisha Dean proves indeed to be my 2nd great grandfather.

There are several other solid brick walls concerning these early Dean ancestors I am trying to break through, while still editing the rest of the book's chapters.

No mention of a husband for Elizabeth was made on the 1850 census.

Is she the widow of a Dean husband, or did she not marry, and Dean is her own surname?

I have turned up nothing over the past several years to answer that question.  No marriage record, no parents listed anywhere.

Until this week, when one of my several-times removed Dean cousins also researching the family added a husband for Elizabeth.  James Dean, born 1870 in Pennsylvania, died in 1862 in Rockingham, Virginia.

Elisha was born in 1824.  His father was still alive?

Something about this just doesn't ring true for me, but I added James next to Elizabeth up there on the top of the Dean tree.  And there he will stay until proven a mistake.

James Dean (abt 1780 - 1862), m. Elizabeth Dean (abt 1875 - before 1870)
Elisha Dean, abt 1826 - ? 
Daniel Dean, abt 1815 - ? 
And now I continue editing the other chapters and leave this first chapter as it is above.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Five Life Lessons

Lynn, our fearless leader of the Family History Writing Challenge this month, and owner of The Armchair Genealogist,  gave us a challenge today that I readily accept.

"Write about these 5 life lessons that you have identified in, your family history research."

Sitting on a stranger's tombstone in Old St. Joseph's Cemetery, looking up
a date on my laptop.  

1.  First, Above all, Never Give Up.  

I've learned that I can achieve a lot more than I thought, including some things I thought were impossible,  if  I  just stick with it.   

2.  Procrastination is Not an Option.  

I've made myself be accountable, and that's been hard for this wanna-be Scarlet O'Hara, "I'll think about it tomorrow."

3.  Don't Judge Anyone Whose Path You've Never Walked.  

My ancestors who appear from the documented facts to have done things I might not approve of did what they had to do, what they needed to do, or chose to do, at the time.  My family is not perfect.  Whose is?

4.  I am a Descendant of Strong and Brave People.

My ancestors definitely got out of their comfort zones to make a better life  for themselves and their families.  The made the hard choices.  They took chances.  The explored new paths.  Have I done that in my own life?  Yes, I have.  Maybe it's because of those whose blood I share.  That makes me proud.

5.  Gratitude.
What You Don't Like Sometimes Makes You Stronger.  There was a time when I blamed my family for my less-than-perfect childhood.  As I've gone back over these early memories, the hurts, the insecurities, the scary things, the unfairness, I realize I survived.  I was loved.  I was blessed to have people who took care of me when the times were tough.  

I had some Awesome Role Models! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Thousand Miles Away

From the Mt. Auburn Years

A Thousand Miles Away

After we’d sold our house on Sander Street to the University, we moved to Mt. Auburn, 123 Inwood Place, about a mile from our old house.

In 1957, the little white houses on Inwood Place stood neat and proud down the left side of the narrow street. On the right side, was the Children’s Convalescent Home with its jail-like metal fence to keep the pale, sickly kids from escaping onto our street.

Several years ago, Gary and I drove to Inwood Place  to get a photo for my albums, and this is what we saw.

123 Inwood Place, over 40 years later

I was shocked that the street and its houses had deteriorated to this degree.  Driving to the end of the street toward Inwood Park, the place began appearing like a war-torn foreign village.

When we’d first moved here, I remember thinking of one of my favorite fifties’ tunes “A Thousand Miles Away,” and that’s how I felt, so far away from my old home and my childhood friends, all the kids in my class at St. George School.

I was still a child when we moved. It didn’t take long for me to turn into a street-savvy teenager here in this new neighborhood.

I remember having the daylights scared out of me on one of my first walks through the park on my way home from school when a tall boy with a blond crewcut, looking about 18, stepped out in front of me on the path and put his hand on my shoulder.

The path through the park led down from Hollister Street into a hollow and then back up to the baseball field and steps leading up to Inwood Place.  My attacker must have been lurking in some of the bushes.

It didn’t take me but a second to do what I’d been taught: I screamed at the top of my lungs, aimed my knee toward his groin, and took off running for all I was worth.

As I was sprinting up the hill, a troop of Brownies with their leader were walking down the path. I didn’t pause to explain why I’d just screamed. I never slowed down one bit. I just flew by them and ran across the baseball field and up the steps and didn’t stop until I was inside my front door.

I wasn’t the only one who’d gotten in trouble crossing through the park. My new friend, Jackie, up the street from us on Inwood Place, had a man expose himself to her as she was walking the path. Even my father got jumped late one night in the same spot and came home minus his wallet and with a bloody nose.

Life had moved up a notch on the danger scale with our move from Sander Street.

Nice as our little street looked, one street over, behind our back yards, was Glencoe Place and tenement houses occupied by poor families, and a little grocery store where my mother shopped on credit.

Rats come up from there, through our back yards. One big one made its way into our kitchen bread drawer, and when my mom went to open it one morning to make toast, the ugly rodent jumped out.

Mom made my father nail the drawer shut, never to be opened again, the entire time we lived there.

My new teenage friends in Mt. Auburn hung out at Dunbar’s Drugstore, across the street from Christ Hospital.  We drank cherry Cokes and real chocolate malts at the soda fountain and hung out on the corner by the mailbox.  The guys in the crowd had their own hot rod club, the “Dragon Wagons.” We girls were the “Dragonettes.” I am not kidding.

Yes, the boys wore black leather jackets and sported duck-tail hair styles. The girls wore jeans and big, white, man-size shirts  Girls were still required to wear dresses or skirts in school and at church, but we lived in Levi’s at all other times.

One Saturday afternoon my friend Jackie and I were drinking our Cokes at Dunbar’s, when two little girls came in, one older than the other. The biggest girl looked to be about 9 or 10, the little one about 5 or 6. The oldest girl helped the small one onto a red leather stool, ordered her a chocolate malt and pushed a quarter across the counter.

The small girl nearly inhaled the malt, and the older girl helped her down, took her hand and started to leave.  Then the older girl fell to the floor.

Jackie and I and the clerk rushed to the fainted girl, and before we could do anything, she opened her eyes and began to sit up.

In spite of our trying to keep her from moving, she said she and her sister had to get home, and she tried to stand up. Obviously she was still weak, and Jackie, a robust girl, well developed for her age, scooped the girl off the floor, and I took the smaller girl’s hand. The older girl directed us to one of the narrow, red-brick tenement houses on Glencoe Place.

When we arrived at their apartment, there no one was home. The place was shocking. Bare mattresses on the floor, an empty whiskey bottle on the stove and a pizza box dangerously close to the stove’s burners. Trash overflowing from a garbage bin onto the floor.

Jackie asked where the girls’ mother was, and the older girl said she didn’t know, nor had her mother been home in several days. Pretty soon we learned the girls had not eaten since they finished the pizza their mother left for them.  The older girl  held onto a quarter for an emergency and finally took her little sister to get the malt.  Jackie and I later cried, but not then.  Not in front of this amazing big sister.

We didn’t want to leave these girls, but we weren't sure what we should do.

Then Jackie said, “I know what to do. Come on.”

We told the girls to stay put, and we’d be back.

Then we ran to Jackie’s house and told her father, but he would not allow us to go back. He said it was a dangerous situation, and someone might come home and find us there and cause trouble. Instead, he went himself, after making a phone call to someone, probably the police or some public agency.

He made sure the girls were taken somewhere to be cared for.

We never saw them again, but I’ve never forgotten them, or the horrible conditions they’d been living in, with no food and no supervision. It was the first time I’d seen that side of life. We were poor, but we lived like rich people compared to how some of the people on the next street lived.

Glencoe Place in 2008, after a remodel.   Inwood Place started where the street sign is posted on the right and then curves to the left and runs behind the tenement houses. =

The fall after we moved to Sander Street, on October 4, 1957, the Russians sent Sputnik up into the earth’s orbit.  A bitter pill for America to swallow.   I turned 15 and had my first date and my first broken heart.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

West 8th Street Years

Me and cousin Terry, obviously collecting beer bottles,
 while  I played tight-rope walker!  Not sure whose house
this was, not Sander Street.  Likely Aunt Clara's or
Aunt Dot's on West 8th.

While things could be crazy at my house when I was a kid, I was and still am thankful for my Dad's family, the Deans, who always picked up the pieces and put my life back together and gave me some wonderful memories.    I remember both of my aunts living on West 8th Street during most of my childhood, one on one side and the other right across the street. 

Aunt Clara and Uncle Ray's house on the left
Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill's on the right

I stayed a while at one house and then carried my bag across the street to spend time at the other house.  Aunt Dot taught me how to cook and iron shirts.  Uncle Bill wore white dress shirts to work every day, and they had to be ironed, so she set the ironing board up in the living room and I got to getting those white shirts ironed and hung on hangers.  I didn't realize it was work.

Then across the street at Aunt Clara's I also cooked.  She taught me how to make chili for the first time.  She sewed on the old treadle sewing machine she inherited from Grandma, and she liked to take in her own clothes to fit me.  She taught me how to apply make up and style my hair.  

I played with my younger cousins and did some junior babysitting too.

Aunt Clara with baby Tommy, her first child.

A few years later, Tommy on the far right.  From left, Billy, Ruthie, and Marylou.
Billy and Marylou were Aunt Dot's first two children.  Ruthie was Tommy's
younger sister.

1950s Dean Cousins:  
From Left:  Cathy, Marylou, Susan, Ruthie with arm around little sister Jeanie, Linda, and Billy.
Cathy and Linda are Uncle Norb's children, and so is Terry, pictured above with me
Aunt Dot's Susan is new to this photo

An early photo of Uncle Ray, Aunt Clara's husband
with Grandma in the background

Aunt Dot holding Susan, to right Marylou and Billy
Party at our house on Sander Street
My First Communion -- Uncle Ray in foreground with
hand on my sister Donna's head

Especially fun in my Dean family were the parties.  Oh, how the Deans liked to party.  Besides celebrating every Catholic traditional milestone with table loads of food and buckets of cold soft drinks, commercial sized cans of potato chips and pretzels, and the ever popular beer, they also celebrated New Years in grand style.

This is an early photo of a Dean Party.  From left: Uncle Ray and Aunt Clara,
Aunt Janice and Uncle "Junior," either dating or newlyweds, Aunt Dot
holding baby-pobably Billy, Grandma with my laid-back father's arm around her and
his other hand on his beer.  Foreground left Marylou, right looks like Ruthie?

This had to be taken in Grandma's attic apartment on McMillan Avenue.  Look at the tiny windows.
And I think Uncle Junior is wearing his army shirt.  I can barely see a patch on one arm.  If so, he
and Aunt Janice are still dating.

 Someone said something funny!  Grandma with Marylou and Ruthie on lap,
Aunt Dot with probably baby Billy, Aunt Clara and Uncle Ray laughing,
Uncle Junior and Aunt Janice, definitely still dating, and Tommy in front.

And I love this one!
Grandma, Aunt Clara, Uncle Ray, and Aunt Dot!

How to Write Interesting Family Histories

Found this gem a while back and pinned it to my Pinterest "Family History" board .  Decided to take a closer look at it today, and, as my Dad used to say, "Katie, bar the door."

Meaning, this is an awesome find!

Just reading the sample gave me more information on structuring my book, and then how to make it a lot more interesting to read, than almost anything I've read to date...and I've read more books than I can count.

Click on the book to go to the site where you can download a to download the HTML sample, as it is longer than the Kindle, though I purchased the book as a Kindle.

I have to holler when I find something that makes me happy, or something that's just plain good and affordable.  So here it is.

Now back to writing my, now, more "interesting" family history.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Selling Sander Street

St. George and surrounding area (collection of Kevin Grace, Archives and Rare Books) University of Cincinnati.  Used with Permission

Our house was in the block behind the church

In November 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower won re-election against Democrat challenger Adlai Stevenson. The following spring, I was walking a mile farther back and forth to school at St. George because we had moved to Mt. Auburn.

The 1950s saw a lot of changes, and one of those was our street being sold to the University of Cincinnati for construction of a new female dormitory, Sander Hall.

I haven’t been able to find the exact dates of the transactions that caused Sander Street to be sold and demolished, but it was in the mid-’50s. 

In a weird twist of fate, after building the 27-story dormitory, it was demolished in recent years, making national news for being one of the newest buildings in American history to be imploded. It was like Sander Street disappearing all over again.  

You can watch it fall here

I wish I knew how much Dad and Uncle Norb, and the other residents on our street were paid for their homes, but I don’t remember ever hearing the figures.
The city directory tells me that Uncle Norb and Aunt Vera had moved by 1956 to Glendora Street. I don’t remember them moving, which surprises me. I’ve remembered so much. Why wouldn’t I recall my cousins and Aunt and Uncle moving out of the Sander Street House?
I really don’t remember us moving either, just that it was in 1957, because I remember walking from our new home at 123 Inwood Place, through Inwood Park, crossing Vine Street, walking up Hollister Street to McMillan Avenue, and then on up to Calhoun Street, to St. George when I was in the eighth grade, which would have been 1957.  The weather was warm, so it would have been spring.
I also remember missing my Sander Street friends, especially Joanie Leminck, who obviously had to move as well, but I always imagined them still living on the old street long after we’d moved.
Leaving the home we had lived in the longest at that point marked the change from child to young adult for me. It signaled my coming of age, and rather quickly at that. Inwood Place was no Sander Street.

I’d lived on a street that, in the 1950s, children played outside until dark and were safe, few people owned cars and you could skate or ride your bike in middle of the street.
The neighbors all knew each other and congregated outside on the stoops in the evenings. You danced and played outside in your bathing suit in the summer rain. The church and school were a block away as was the corner grocery, the “dime store” (think today’s dollar stores), the local saloon, the library, and the “show,” the neighborhood theater, which is now Bogart's, on Short Vine.

A time where boredom was practically unheard of for kids.

I walked to my Grandma's apartment from Sander Street, and learned to take the city bus downtown by myself.  One year I decided to take ballet classes and rode the bus downtown to the Harris Rosedale School of Dance on Fifth Street.  

I can’t say my childhood was all bad, though some parts were. 

At some point, a kid has to grow up and begin counting the good things and chalking the bad things up as experiences that make you who are today: My experiences made me strong and capable, with a motto that everyone makes mistakes, including our parents. You just have to realize they always did the best they could, and then you have to go out and make a good life for yourself.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Korea. People Didn't Care

Been reading up on the Korean War and the communism fear of the 1950s, because my Uncle Frank "Junior" was in that war.  I've been told it was one of the most bloody wars yet.  Hard to imagine, remembering Vietnam.  But I just read that nearly 5 million people died, more than half of them civilians.

Also noted on  that the "... rate of civilian casualties was higher than World War II’s and Vietnam’s. Almost 40,000 Americans died in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded."

Corporal Frank E. Dean, U.S. Army, Korea

Uncle "Junior" was Grandma's youngest, and I remember her worrying about him, just like she worried about her two older sons, my Dad and Uncle Norb, when they served in WWII.  

I was worried about Uncle Junior.  I was also worried about "the bomb" the adults kept talking about coming for us from Russia.  It was a scary time for a kid who didn't understand everything on the nightly news.  

I watched a YouTube today by a Korean War vet describing the Homecoming, who said when he came home, people in the U.S. really weren't interested in hearing about the war.  It was five years since WWII, and Korea was a different war that didn't get all the same publicity or interest.  

I found that sad.

But then, I find war sad, period.  Still, I'm proud of my Dean family heritage of helping protect our country.  And I thank God they all returned home in one piece.