Saturday, May 30, 2009

Will the correct Samuel Hott please stand up?

I've been busy researching my HOTT family line since my revelation that the family name IS actually HOTT and not HOLT. In looking for the birth parents of my Great Grandmother Sarah Hott, I found her birth record at the WV Culture site showing her parents as Sam W. Hott and Mary M. Hott. If any seasoned genealogy researchers read this post, please give me your insight!

Now, I've not by any means exhausted all possible research areas, I've never left home on this one, but something just isn't right with some of the information I'm getting from other researchers. As I usually do, I reached out to see who else is researching the family to see what "cousins" I might turn up and to obviously view their research.. that's when the trouble started.

I had already found a marriage for Samuel William Hott age 24 and Mary Matilda Henderson age 21, the parents of my Sarah Hott. Here's the entry in the marriage register from the WV Culture site:

Because the marriage was in November and the 1870 census was taken in August I thought I would find him in his parents home for that census year - sure enough, he's there in the home of John and Caroline, listed as Samuel W. Hott age 23.
After looking at some of the other census for previous years I believed that I had found my correct Samuel William Hott in the home of John and Caroline Hott. I put these details in the post that I put on the message board.

I received a note from another researcher telling me that Mary Matilda Henderson was married to Samuel Walker Hott, the son of James and Harriett Saville Hott. And that John and Caroline didn't have a son named Samuel... this didn't seem to match the marriage record and the census information I had already found showing Samuel's middle name as William and finding him in the home of John and Caroline. So I decided to check into the census records further, looking for both Samuels and see what I could find.

Checking the household of James and Harriett I find no son named Samuel in 1870, nor can I find him elsewhere with any certainty - this doesn't mean anything yet.

In 1860 things get a bit interesting:
In the home of John and Caroline I find Samuel age 14,
In the home of James and Harriett I find a son named Walker age 15 - could this be Samuel Walker Hott? Possibly.

In 1850 in the home of John and Caroline I find Samuel age 6
In the home of James and Harriett I find Walker age 5.

Getting back to the other researcher with my obvious confusion on her info and explaining what I've found - she again tells me that I don't have the correct Samuel. She now mentions the Samuel William Hott and Mary Matilda Henderson are the correct parents - but again re-iterating that he is the son of James and Harriett. Now I'm not one to "question" others' work - typically just going out on my own to prove or disprove what I've been told should I find varying facts. I am of the belief that I do have the correct Samuel, the son of John and Caroline, but still need to dig deeper, yet I don't want to run off chasing the wrong man. I needed to find more proof.

I started to view some of the records submitted to various trees on Ancestry and then FamilySearch and found that other researchers are also listing Samuel Walker Hott, son of James and Harriett as the husband of Mary Matilda Henderson. Where in the world are they getting this information? The researcher that I've been in contact with hasn't provided me with any sources, but she did mention another researcher who is highly regarded with with the DAR (apparently we have a Revolutionary war soldier somewhere in the line - but that's another story). At this point I feel like everyone has taken this information and run with it, entering it in their trees and posting it on the web, no sources are listed for the info other than reference to two different books which I cannot get my hands on to see their sources.

Not living in the area where there may be further records, I'll need to venture out at some point and see what I can find and continue to collaborate with other researchers of this family until I get to a point where I'm comfortable with the information. This doesn't mean that the information from others is correct or incorrect necessarily and I'm not challenging someone else's work - I just need the proof, in front of my own eyes, where I can make it real... Is that so wrong?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When HOLT is HOTT and Don't force your research into one area

This is one of those "don't believe everything you hear" or "make sure you check other spellings" and "always check the surrounding areas" stories... lots of lessons learned for me on this one.

My Great Grandmother's name was Sallie Virginia HOLT, so I was told. When I began researching the family and went to Virginia to do some cemetery research I found her mother's headstone at our Anderson family plot. It said M. M. HOLT - at the time I had no idea who M.M. was, only that Sallie's maiden name was HOLT so of course it was a member of her family. I inquired at the church cemetery office to find out more about this person. No information was available, their records also listing the burial as M.M. But, they did tell me that my Grandmother, Edna Keener was the last owner of this family burial plot, having left the state she returned several empty to the church in exchange for perpetual care of the other burials. After this discussion with the church office, they promptly went to the M.M. HOLT stone and removed a HUGE bush from the location - I guess they figured that someone was paying attention to this family and assumed that I'd want such a large plant removed. A couple weeks later I received a phone call from a very upset man wanting to know why I had instructed the church to remove the bush from "MY Grandmother's grave?" Of course, I had done no such thing, that bush was clearly many years old and while the headstone was not visible because of it, I was sure that some loving family member had planted it long ago. I would not interfere with that.

After he understood me, and realized that we were cousins, he went on to tell me about Grandma M.M. HOLT, her first name being Mary. She was from West Virginia, had been married there - although he did not know her husbands name nor her maiden name - and shortly after his death (sometime around 1900) she had taken her children to Fairfax County to live. All these years (it's been about 8 since I spoke to him) I searched for this mysterious Mary HOLT in the census records in West Virginia and in Fairfax county. I found her residing with another family member along the way, but could not find this family to my satisfaction. As I usually do, I turned to the message boards on Ancestry for any leads that someone might be able to provide. Every year I would put a post on the HOLT surname message board, never getting much response... this year was different. Another researcher came back to me stating that the spelling of my HOLT name would make it difficult, because it was probably part of the HOTT family of WV.

Okay, my father knew his Grandmother for many years. Sallie Virginia HOLT (if that's her REAL name) died in 1956. She had always been known as a Holt to him, why would I expect to find her under a different name? Turns out I didn't. I couldn't find a Sallie HOTT either. After getting the information from Ancestry message boards, I went back to my favorite WV Vital Records site and checked for a HOTT birth on Sallies birthdate.... Did you know that Sallie is a nickname for Sarah? Voila! I found Sallie (actually Sarah) HOTT, born on the exact date that I knew her birthdate to be. This had to be my Sallie! After verifying that she was indeed a member of the HOTT family, I went back to the census records on Ancestry and found her family (verified by known siblings of hers) in the census in WV. I then set out to find her mother in Fairfax... no beans. So I turned my attention to all of Virginia and found her in Fauquier County. This made sense because Sallie's son Leonard was born in Fauquier. Mary was listed as a widow, so the death of her husband was correct prior to 1900, but because I had listened to my new cousin, I had forced my search into a box and not looked in the surrounding area for Mary.

I still have not found a death record for Mary's husband Samuel, but at least now I know that I'm on the right track and that the family name was actually HOTT, not HOLT as it had become by the many mispellings over the years. Sallie's mother could not read or write, combine this with the script writing of the name - someone forgets to cross both t's and a new name is born. My 2nd Great Grandmother is buried in Fairfax County with an incorrect surname on her headstone - too bad I can't just submit a correction for that.

Wordless Wednesday

Another photo of the Leeming Sisters
Far left is Edith and center bottom is Dorothy
with cousins Marie and Hazel Leeming
see Dorothy and Edith all grown up on last week's post

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Thank you Randy for another fun filled Saturday Night! Tonight's Genealogy Fun is about your inspiration to do Genealogy. The specific question asked is this: What event or person inspired you to start your genealogy research?

This is part of a post that I did back in November, when I didn't have any readers so I figure no one would mind the re-post.

Did you know that we're related to....

Ok, we've all got some weird family story that has supposedly been passed down for generations - mine just happens to be that one of our relatives was "BORN on the Mayflower" - mmmm talk about making a child's mind race! Come to think of it, this very well could be the genealogy bug that bit me, way back when I was like 10 years old! Grandma told me this story and it stuck with me... one of my relatives was born on the Mayflower. Come to find out we weren't pilgrims - not that I can prove anyway - I've not found a connection in my line (yet :-). Some of my family certainly were among the "settlers in the new world" - they were indentured servants with a 10 year debt to the person who paid their passage, not pilgrims! Like Randy, a death was the catalyst for my research beginning, when Grandma died in 1995 I just HAD to know where she came from.

Off to chase down another mystery!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Sad Ending... May's Story

It's early November 1933, May and Leonard are living in Washington DC with 8 children, one a newborn son named Richard, born October 24th. May is ill, not recovering from the birth as she has in the past. She is taken to Georgetown University Hospital, where on November 9, 1933 she passes away from post partum infection.

Leonard is alone with 8 children - 3 of them are not his, but from May's first marriage. Their father, Clarence Keener is dead.

Edna, the oldest, is 9 years old. She must step up to care for her siblings - a nearly impossible task for someone her age. Difficult decisions are made, and two of the youngest children will go to live with other family members.

The baby Richard (so I've been told by other Kidwell family members) goes to live with May's mother and her sister Marie helps to raise him. Carr (or Carl) goes to live with Leonard's brother's in-laws, members of the Poates family. The six remaining children stayed with Leonard.

Leonard seemingly immersed in his sorrow for May, writes notes and poems about missing someone who has gone away. I have hundreds of hand written pages of notes, poetry and songs that he scribbled during the years that followed her death. Too many to read in fact. What a difficult time it was for him, having lost his love. I'm sure he was deeply depressed, and wondered how they would get through it.

May was buried in Fairfax County, Virginia at the Flint Hill Cemetery. I've written before about the difficult time I had finding her headstone. Leonard loved to garden, and I'd bet that the now very large blooming bush that grows on her gravesite was planted by him. May's family didn't care for Leonard which is possibly why she wasn't buried in the Anderson family plot at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church cemetery. I'm sure there was much discussion about this.

Leonard and the children went on with their lives. His mother Sallie came to live with the family and remained with Leonard until her death in 1956. Leonard died in August 1978 at the age of 82 in the VA hospital in Martinsburg West Virginia.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

August 1966
Leeming Sisters - Dorothy and Edith

Monday, May 11, 2009

May's Story - Her Parents - Silas Kidwell and Bertie Horsman

I wanted to take a break from May's story and share a bit about her parents tonight. Silas and Bertie were married on May 21st 1902 in Fairfax County at Falls Church. Here is a wedding photo of the couple. I posted one photo of her Bertie on the farm with two of her sons here. The letter her sister wrote described a hard farm life and a mother who was "nearly work to death and run to death". In doing some research at the Virginia Room at the Fairfax County Library near their home, I found many news clippings about fair ribbons awarded to her father Silas Kidwell for his peaches, rye, corn and cabbage. A few years ago I met some of his nieces and nephews at a Kidwell funeral I attended and they remembered Silas well, referring to him as "Uncle Bun" and said he had the best peaches around, having about 2200 peach trees on his farm. I also found advertisements for public auctions of dairy cows on the family farm - as many as 30 at at time. Obviously they were serious farmers. The couple had 12-13 children during their marriage and Silas died in a Washington D.C. hospital in 1935 after having an appendicitis operation. Bertie died in 1950.

When I met May's brother Marshall he shared this photo of his father, with his truck loaded up with peaches in bushel baskets, headed to the farmer's market in Washington DC. Also in the photo are two of May's brothers, one of them is Marshall and the other is possibly Leon.
Come back by later this week and read the final installment of May's Story!

Friday, May 8, 2009

May & Leonard... and lots 'o kids!

In May's story we left off where she had gone to DC to be with Leonard. It was December 1928 when she received the letter from her sister Marie. I am now at the point where I began this story, the death of May's first husband, Clarence Keener on January 6th, 1929.

After Clarence's death, May and Leonard married on January 16th. As I mentioned previously, at this point May was already pregnant with her 4th child, Virginia. Below is their marriage certificate.

Already having three children from her first husband, all born in close succession of each other, May and Leonard had several more. Here are all the children born to May

Edna Keener b. Feb 11, 1924; d. Jan 17, 1995
Pauline Keener b. Jun 1, 1926; d. Jun 26, 1980
Russell Keener b. Oct 1, 1927; d. Jun 4, 1991
Virginia Anderson b. May 1, 1929
Charles Anderson b. Apr 27, 1930; d. Jun 13, 1987
Carr W. Anderson b. Aug 6th, 1932;
Twin Baby Anderson b. Aug 6th, 1932; died during or shortly after birth
Richard Anderson b. Oct 24, 1933

Can you imagine having 8 children in the span of 9 years? What a woman she must've been! I know that most if not all of the Anderson children were born at home in DC where the family lived for some time.

This is a photo of May, it says she was age 30 at the time of the photograph, this would be sometime in 1930.

I only know details on a few of May's children's lives and will share those in my next post - The finale of May's Story.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


In the words of Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog: "COOL X2"
Greta recently mentioned my blog in a post showcasing many of the blogs she reads regularly. And, for the second time this week I've been given a blog award. This time it's the Friendly Blogger Award 2009 - Thank you Greta for thinking of me (as "friendly" :-)!

I am to pass this award along to 7 other "Friendly Bloggers" which wasn't an easy task. Most bloggers I've "met" are very friendly - but some have really reached out to me, helped me along the way, or go out of their way to help others.

Randy at Genea-Musings
June at Art Freebies
Tabby at Crooked Heart Art
Kate at The Kathryn Wheel
Harriet at Genealogy Fun
Lorine at Ask Olive Tree Genealogy
Amy at We Tree

One Lovely Blog Award

Harriet over at Genealogy Fun has passed this award on to me saying that she enjoys reading my stories.

Thanks so much Harriet!

I guess the "rules" are that I must pass this along to seven other bloggers who have a "Lovely Blog".
Thank you again Harriet!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May & Leonard.. the story continues

Leaving off with May having "run off" with "THAT Anderson", I now would like to share a letter that I found from her sister.

When my Grandmother Edna Keener passed away in 1995, my Father took possession of her many papers and such. It was also around this time that I took a keen interest in our family history. Through my entire life, I never once heard my Grandmother mention her mother. This could be because by the time I was old enough to actually listen (or care) she was no longer living near us - I saw her only twice while I was an "adult". I was so anxious to know more about her family. One afternoon I was at my parents home and my folks pulled out the box of Grandma's things. Among the many items was a small bible. I had heard from other genealogists that many a fact can be gleaned from a bible so I immediately picked it up and began thumbing through the pages.

That's when it happened, a letter fell from between the pages, written in pencil, the paper browned from the passing of time, it's ruled lines barely visible - but a letter no less from my Great Grandaunt, Marie Kidwell to her sister May Kidwell, my Great Grandmother.

The letter, gave me images of a hard farm life. But also highlighted a family issue that I didn't quite know anything about, nor understood. At the time this letter was written May was with a man that her family didn't approve of, living in another town and apparently her family wasn't exactly sure where.. read on.

I've copied the letter verbatim below. All grammer & spelling errors left in tact. The photograph I've included here is of May's mother Bertie/Birdie Horsman Kidwell and two of her sons, Leon b. 1920 & Marshall b. Aug 27, 1918.

Vienna, VA
Dec 1, 1928
My Dear Sister I will write to you to let you hear from me and all. Well are all well hoping you all the same. Why havent you wrote to us. How is dear little Edna, Pauline, and Russell. I would love to see them come home so I can see them. you ought to come home you would hear some sad news. little Gladys and Ethel are sick. have you still got that coat + dress you said you had for me.
Mamma is cutting up hog fat and you know that is a job. pappa killed 8 hogs mamma is nearly work to death and run to death mamma said she love to see you and the children. we would have wrote to you long ago but we didn't know your address. she said it is a long time do with out seeing one of her children she said when Edna grows up and turn her back on you. you will feel like mamma does about you. Mamma said she is sorry she didn't have that money because she had done bought her a new stove and didn't have any lima beans this year to make any money. If she had it she would send it to you. If you don't want to see her or not.

Dear brother was here to see you but we couldn't find you. Mamma said Mrs Anderson knew where you was. but we don't know when you'll see him again. he said he would love to see you and the children we ask Mrs Anderson but she wouldn't tell her. Mamma said if you give her your right address she will come and see you when she come in town.Kiss Edna + Pauline for her and also Russell

Earnest Kidwell wife is dead Little Earnest. her name Mabel Jinkins. he has a little baby girl

Well good by
From Marie and Mother

Reading this letter even today gives me chills. The way she speaks of May turning her back on her mother, and the fact that they've asked Mrs. Anderson where May is, but she won't tell them. Needless to say, this letter confirmed my previous suspicions, that May had already left Fairfax, her husband (who died in January after this letter was written) and her family, and gone to be with Leonard in Washington D.C. It's a very sad thing that there was such a divide between these two families, and the story of May isn't over yet.... to be continued.

To see the previous posts about May and her story, go to the labels list on the right and choose "May's Story"