Sunday, February 23, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 7: "Favorite Discovery" - William Hudson and Elizabeth Cheek

Asking a genealogist to write about a "favorite discovery" is a lot like asking a musician to name their favorite song - there are far too many to choose from! The subjects of Week 7's theme are definitely among my favorite discoveries, but I chose this particular couple because 1) it took me forever to find them and I am very proud of the fact that I eventually did, and 2) hopefully describing how I found them will help someone else to break down a brick wall.

Joseph P. Hudson, my great-grandfather.
For many years my 3rd-great-grandfather, Vincent Hudson (1805-1880), was a total brick wall. I had heard several family members (including my grandmother, who was born Edna Josephine Hudson) say that the Hudson family was Native American. For a long time I assumed that this was the reason for the brick wall, and didn't devote a whole lot of time to breaking it down. But when mine and my father's DNA results came back, it showed that my father only had about 1% Native American DNA. If the stories about Mamaw Edna's father, Joseph Hudson, being half Native American were true, the percentage should have been much higher. I was able to track down a cousin of my father's who had the Hudson surname, and extracted the most likely Y-DNA group numbers from his DNA results. The Y-DNA revealed that our Hudson line originated in Northern Europe, meaning that if the 1% of Native American DNA in my father's results did indeed originate from the Hudson side, it had to have been from one of the wives' lines and not from the Hudson line itself.

I started looking into records pertaining to Vincent Hudson. I finally found the names of his parents on the record of his second marriage, to Hester Rupel: "William and Elizabeth Hudson". As you can imagine, the name Hudson is a fairly common one, so there were many Williams and Elizabeths who were potential candidates for Vincent's parents.

I realized at this point that I would probably never be able go back any further than William and Elizabeth using traditional research methods, so I turned to DNA results to help me fill in the blanks. After painstakingly searching through dozens of matches with the surname of Hudson in their trees, I found that many of those matches descended from David Hudson (1728 -1811) and Keziah Plunkett Hudson (1732-1807). David and Keziah's family had already been well-researched and well-documented, so it was easy to find that they did indeed have a son named William Hudson, who married Elizabeth Cheek. In all of the published information that I found about David and Keziah's family, there was no mention of William and Elizabeth after their marriage.

I added David and Keziah as William Hudson's parents in my tree, so that the Ancestry algorithms could work their magic and hopefully reveal more matches that descended from this couple. It worked, and I soon found matches that descended from ancestors of this couple as well. It was solid evidence, but not yet conclusive.

When Ancestry came out with their ThruLines feature, it made finding other descendants of David and Keziah (as well as their ancestors) much easier. But when I saw one day that I had a Potential Ancestor hint on ThruLines to William Cheek and Elizabeth Lindel Cheek, it confirmed my theory, as far as I was concerned. All of the published research that I had found on David Hudson's family had never mentioned the name of Elizabeth Cheek Hudson's father. The fact that a William Cheek had turned up in my potential ancestors, with DNA matches descending from four of his other children, could not be a coincidence. 

This DNA evidence, combined with the traditional research, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the William and Elizabeth Hudson who were recorded as Vincent Hudson's parents on his second marriage record were William Hudson, son of David and Keziah Plunkett, and Elizabeth Cheek, daughter of William Cheek and Elizabeth Lindel.

~ ~ ~

My descent from David and Keziah Plunkett Hudson is as follows:

David Hudson 1728-1811
5th great-grandfather

William Hudson 1750-1811
Son of David Hudson

Vincent Hudson 1805-1880
Son of William Hudson

Joseph Patterson Hudson 1839-1914
Son of Vincent Hudson

Joseph P. Hudson 1881-1954
Son of Joseph Patterson Hudson

Edna Josephine Hudson 1921-2011
Daughter of Joseph P. Hudson

Joseph Wayne Kessinger 1958-
Son of Edna Josephine Hudson

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Joseph Wayne Kessinger

Saturday, February 22, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 6: "Same Name" - Allie Violet Kessinger Clay

Allie Violet Kessinger
I couldn't think of a more perfect perfect person to feature for the "same name" theme than my Aunt Allie, who is the person that I am named after. The story goes that my parents were originally going to name me Allie, but when they told Aunt Allie of their plans she said "Don't name her Allie. Name her Allison, and call her Allie. That way she will have a 'grown up' name when she is older."

Aunt Allie was actually my great-aunt: my paternal grandfather's oldest sister. Allie Violet Kessinger was born on Monday, January 1, 1900, to Clifton Kessinger and Ella May Lovejoy Kessinger. She often remarked that she was born "on the first day of the week, the first day of the month, the first day of the year, and the first day of the century." She was actually the second of Clifton and Ella's 15 children, as her older sister, Virgie Violet, had passed away about a year and a half earlier at age 2 months.

Allie married William Henry Clay on May 6, 1922. The family photo that was taken on their wedding day is the only known photo of the entire family. Unfortunately Clifton and Ella's 14th child, Juanita Ruth, passed away a few days after the wedding due to injuries sustained in a fire.

The Kessinger Family on May 6, 1922: Allie Violet Kessinger's wedding day.
Allie and William went on to have one child: William Harold Clay. William Harold had 6 children, who in turn had numerous children and grandchildren.

Allie passed away on December 4, 1994: less than a month shy of her 95th birthday. She left behind a legacy of being a strong woman who was afraid of nothing, who fiercely loved her family, and of being someone who could always be looked up to.

It would take ages to write down all of the stories that I have heard about Aunt Allie, but I will recount my favorite one here. Aunt Allie, William Harold, and a few others had gone camping out in the woods. Aunt Allie was already on the verge of being "elderly" at this point, but she was an avid outdoorswoman who loved to go camping and hunting. Long after everyone had gone to sleep, a commotion was heard outside their tents. When they looked outside, they saw Aunt Allie in a long flannel nightgown, swatting a bear on the behind with a broom. William Harold looked on in shock and alarm and finally said "Mom, get away from that bear! He's going to eat you!" Aunt Allie calmly replied, "He's not going to eat me, but he'll eat all of our food if I don't chase him out of here." And she finally did get the bear to leave, without having taken any of their food.

If any of Allie's grandchildren have stories that they would like to share, please let me know and I will add them here!

Friday, February 7, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 5: "So Far Away" - George Schofield and Mary Dotson

In last week's #52Ancestors post, I told you about the grandparents and great-grandparents that I had close to home; in one case, they were right next door! Most of my ancestors stayed within a 200-mile radius of my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia after immigrating to the US, but the subjects of this week's "So Far Away" themed post ended up living 2,245 miles (yes, you read that right: two thousand, two hundred forty-five miles) from Charleston: Baker City, Oregon.

George and Mary Schofield, C. 1893.
Taken in Stanberry, MO.
George Elliot Schofield and Mary Frances Dotson Schofield, my third-great-grandparents, were pioneers who traveled the famous Oregon Trail in search of owning their own land and building a new life. George and Mary are what I like to call "recently acquired ancestors," meaning that I only recently found out that I am descended from them. The story of how I found that their son, Joseph Elliot Schofield, was my Grandma Quinn's father was the topic of my very first blog post, and my inspiration for founding the Rooted Heritage Genealogy blog.

George was born on 10 October 1837 in Green County, Tennessee, to Daniel and Elizabeth Olinger Schofield. Not many details or records survive from George's childhood and young adult years, but we pick up the trail again in Laclede County, Missouri on 14 September 1871, when George married Mary Frances Dotson, daughter of James Monroe Dotson and Mary Polly Sims. Mary was born on 20 July 1853 in Tennessee, but her family was living in Laclede Co., MO before her 7th birthday.

When we next hear of the Schofield family in the 1880 census, they are living in Wise County, Texas. This means that they would have made a trip of about 525 miles southwest, through the entire length of Oklahoma and into northern Texas, taking approximately 2-3 weeks. They now have 4 children: James and Martha, who were born in Missouri, and Eugenia and George Jr., who were born in Texas.

Traditional route of the Oregon Trail.
It is impossible to know exactly where they were in 1890 due to the lack of 1890 census records, but when we see them again in the 1900 census they are living on their homestead in the Macham district of Malheur County, Oregon. We cannot know exactly when they made the move to Oregon or how long it took them to get there, but the birthplaces of their children provide us with some clues. In 1900 the children living with George and Mary were George Jr., 20, born in Texas; Ruth, 15, and Joseph, 14, born in Arkansas; Oliver, 10, and Florence, 7, born in Colorado, and finally Gilbert, 2, born in Oregon. This would mean that they had to be in Arkansas by 1885, in Colorado by 1890, and in Oregon by 1898. The most difficult part of the journey would undoubtedly have been the part between Colorado and Oregon, since this is where they would have had to cross the rough terrain of the Rocky Mountains. The good news is that the Schofield family would have been one of the last to use the original trail, so by the time they made the trip there were well-built roads and frequent stopping points for most of the journey.

Homestead house of George and Mary Schofield in Oregon,
with several of their descendants in the yard.
On 25 November 1902, the track of land in Malheur County, Oregon was officially patented to George Schofield by the United States Government. It would appear that they did not stay there long, however. In 1910 the Schofields were living in Wallowa County, Oregon, and in 1920 they had finally settled in Baker City, Oregon. George passed away on 16 January 1920, and Mary followed nearly five years later on Christmas Eve of 1924.

I've only known that George and Mary are my ancestors for about two and a half years, so unfortunately I never got to hear stories from older relatives about the many adventures of Grandpa George and Grandma Mary, and why they always seemed to have a bit of wanderlust in their blood. Why did they move so frequently? Were they trying to acquire land that was less expensive, or more fertile? Did they like the excitement of picking up and starting over again? Could they just never find a place that felt like home? We may never know for sure. However, I think it's safe to say for them, the journey was always more exciting than the destination.

~ ~ ~

My descent from George and Mary Dotson Schofield is as follows:

George E. Schofield 1837-1920
3rd great-grandfather

Joseph Elliot Schofield 1887-1951
Son of George E. Schofield

Clara May Schofield 1906-1989
Daughter of Joseph Elliot Schofield

Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn 1939-1986
Son of Clara May Schofield

Lora M. Quinn 1961-
Daughter of Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn

Allison Quinn Kessinger
You are the daughter of Lora M. Quinn

Saturday, February 1, 2020

2020 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 4: "Close to Home" - My Grandparents and Great-Grandparents

Amy Johnson Crow, the creator of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, is always saying something along the lines of "Don't forget to write about yourself! You are a part of your family history!" So this week's post is partly about me, but it is mostly about the members of my family tree that were close to my home: my paternal grandparents, Harold and Edna Hudson Kessinger; my maternal grandparents, Charles and Phyllis Hunt Holmes; and my mother's maternal grandparents, Zack and Madge Moore Hunt.

Harold and Edna Kessinger
You couldn't get closer to home than my paternal grandparents - in fact, they lived right next door! My grandfather, Harold Kessinger, spent most of his career as a life insurance salesman with Life of Virginia Insurance Company, and my grandmother, Edna Hudson Kessinger, was a homemaker. By the time I came along, Papaw had long since retired. They sang Southern gospel music as The Co-Pilot Quartet with my mom and dad, and were active in our church. Having my grandparents so very close to home was a great blessing (with only a few challenges that any family would face). I have many wonderful memories of Sunday dinners, playing outside, summer trips, and holidays with them. And as much as we like to joke that having them right next door made us like the Barone family from the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond, I realize as an adult that I was blessed to spend so much time with them. Many people never even get to meet their grandparents, so when you look at it from that perspective, it truly was a blessing. They passed away only six months apart from one another - Mamaw Edna in December of 2011, and Papaw Harold in June of 2012.

Charles and Phyllis Holmes
My mother's parents, Charles and Phyllis Hunt Holmes, lived only about ten miles away, in the neighboring town of Elkview. Mom's "original father" (as I always called him), Arthur Ray "Jack" Quinn, passed away before I was born; but as Monna (a name of my own invention for my grandmother) married Papaw Chuck before I was born, he has always been my grandfather as far as I am concerned. Papaw was a civil engineer for the State of West Virginia and later with Majeski and Masters Engineering Firm, his most famous project being the famous New River Gorge Bridge. Monna also had a long career with the State of West Virginia, her last position being Deputy Transportation Secretary. Despite their active work schedules, they always made time to spend time with us. I have many wonderful memories of everything from family reunions to ball games to camping with them. They moved to Florida last year, but they still come home frequently to see us and their church family, among whom they have several dear friends. I often joke that they have a more active social life than I do.

Zack and Madge Hunt.
I was also blessed to know one set of great-grandparents - my mother's maternal grandparents, Ernest Zacharias "Zack" and Madaline Eva "Madge" Moore Hunt. They lived about eight miles away, in the neighboring town of Belle. The house that they lived in was built by my great-grandfather for my great-grandmother. I can still remember the day that Papaw told us the story; he said that he asked Mamaw to marry him, and then asked when they would get married. She said she wanted to get married on the 4th of July, because "it sounded like a long way away." That very day, Papaw went home, got ahold of some lumber, and started building a house next door to where he lived with his father. Stories like this only scratch the surface of the wonderful memories that I have with them. Papaw Zack worked for Dupont for most of his career, and was an operating engineer. He was also the long-time pastor of United Christian Church in Belle. Mamaw was a homemaker, and a caretaker of just about anyone who needed caring for. Papaw and I were a lot alike, and were very close. We went on all sorts of adventures together, and had the best discussions. He passed away in September of 2008, and his passing was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. Mamaw lived another nine years, and passed away in March of 2017.

The small glimpse that I have given of all of my grandparents barely touches the surface of the blessings that having them so close to home gave me. I know so many of my students who have lost one or both of their parents; so for me to have had not only both of my parents, but all my grandparents and a set of great-grandparents was an incredible blessing indeed. I plan to write more about all of them throughout the course of this year.


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