Challenge – William Althauser (1846-1922)

Genealogy comes with many challenges, doesn’t it? There are research challenges like burned courthouse, ancestors dying intestate, reading particularly bad handwriting, and financing research trips, just to name of few. Then there are challenges that our ancestors faced like immigration, deaths of spouses and children, and war.

Another challenge that comes with the territory is reconciling family stories, newspaper reports, and other second hand information with historic documents like baptisms, immigration records, and death certificates. I came across this situation a couple of years ago when I first began to seriously research my German Althauser ancestors. I know that I have mentioned in other posts how much I love researching my German ancestry, particularly the Althausers, for a variety of reasons. At first, I think I was so drawn to them because they were such a mystery, and unlike most of my other ancestors, they immigrated in the 19th century (the majority of the others came in the 17th and 18th centuries).

This post covers multiple challenges: reconciling facts, researching in another country, and deciphering records in a foreign language. It also highlights the challenges faced by immigrants, especially since the immigrants highlighted here were a single mother and young children, none of whom spoke English.

Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee Article on William Althauser

When I began researching William, the only record I had was a short article written about William in Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee in the section on Robertson County. Goodspeed’s included a who’s who of each Tennessee County, so I was very fortunate to find William there. Here is the article:

William Althauser, foreman and book-keeper of a registered distillery, was born in 1847, in Baden, Germany, and is one of a family of five children born to Jacob and Anna (Krieg) Althauser. The father and mother were natives of Baden, Germany.

The father was a cooper by trade, and in connection did farming. He died about 1850. The mother was born in 1807, and came to North Carolina in 1852, locating in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she died in 1880.

The subject of this sketch was reared without a father’s care or training, being only three years old at his father’s death. He received his education in the schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of nineteen he commenced keeping books for S. N. Fowler, a distiller at Cincinnati, but after two years he engaged himself to Mr. Charles Nelson as book-keeper, and has proved so trusty and efficient that to compensate him for this he has been made foreman of the entire establishment, it being the largest distillery in the county.

September 25, 1873, he was married to Mary F. Swift, a native of Tennessee, born in 1847, and the daughter of Richard and Mary F. Swift. To Mr. and Mrs. Althauser have been born five children: Nathaniel L., Robert P., Anna M., William E. and James A. Garfield.

Mr. Althauser has control of the entire business, and looks carefully after the interests of his employer, and nothing is done unless under and by his personal supervision. He is a member of the German Lutheran Church, and his wife a member of the Baptist Church. In politics Mr. Althauser is a stanch Republican.

What a great starting point! At least I had some information about his background, parents’ names, and nativity as well as dates. What I was going to learn was that second hand information, especially when you don’t know where the information originated, is sometimes helpful but it can also be quite wrong.

1900 Census

I then turned to the census records. I knew to begin with the 1900 census because a.) he was alive and b.) that census year gives specific information about immigration. The 1900 census which listed William Althauser, his wife Mary, and their children William and James living in Robertson County, Tennessee. My family knew that he worked as the foreman for a large distillery in Robertson County, so in this case, the family story and his occupation on the census record aligned. In the census, William reported that he was born in Jan 1846 in Germany, both of his parents were born in Germany, and that he immigrated in 1851.

1900 census
1900 census

Goodspeed’s Article vs. 1900 Census Record

There are some major differences between the census and the article. When I first looked at these records, I assumed that William gave the information for both sources; now, I do not think this is correct.

Birth date: The article says 1847, and the census says January 1846. Not a very big difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Birth place: This wasn’t necessarily a difference, but the article narrowed the search to (what was at the time) the Grand Duchy of Baden rather than Germany as a whole.

Immigration: The census record gives his immigration year as 1851, but the article says his mother immigrated in 1852. I believe the article implies that William immigrated with his mother, but it is not very clear.

Death Certificate vs. Census vs. Article

My next step was to locate William Althauser’s death certificate. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has a list of early death certificates on the website, and not knowing exactly when William died, I checked each year until I found him in 1922. I then scrolled through the microfilm at the Archives until I found his death certificate. His son, Nathaniel, was the informant.

William Althauser’s death certificate

The death certificate gave me new information that I now had to compare with everything else I knew:

Birth date: Given as 25 January 1846, which matches the census record. So, here, the article in Goodspeed’s was likely incorrect.

Birth place: Given as Baden, Germany, which matched the Goodspeed’s article and was consistent with the census record.

Father: Nathaniel apparently did not know or could not remember the name of William’s father. According to the article, the father died in Germany when William was very small, so perhaps William did not speak very much about his father. Or perhaps Nathaniel wasn’t paying attention. The only name I had was Jacob from the article.

Mother: Nathaniel named Mary Krieg as William’s mother. This is different from the article, which states his mother was Anna Krieg. Luckily, the surnames matched, so I hoped that the surname was correct.

Passenger Lists vs. Death Certificate, Census, and Article

My next challenge was to find the immigration record. I was very worried about finding the passenger list because the earlier the passage, the harder it can be to find.

I knew that William came from Germany, he arrived in 1851 or 1852, he was likely traveling with his mother and some of his siblings, and that his mother was either Mary or Anna. The article stated she entered the country through North Carolina, which sounded odd to me, but I checked all passenger lists coming into New York, New Orleans, Massachusetts, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

Finally, I found a passenger group that seemed to best match my William and Mary/Anna.

Althauser family on the Helvetia manifest.

Immigration date: Ship Helvetia arrived in New York City harbor on 28 November 1853. 1853 is different than both 1851 and 1852, but it is close.

Immigration place: New York City, not North Carolina as stated in the article.

Place of origin: Baden, Germany, which is consistent with the census, article, and death certificate.

Mother: William’s mother’s first name is Anna, not Mary.

Mother’s age: Given as 44, which meant she was born about 1809. This is two years difference from the birth year given in the article.

William’s name and age: His name is actually Wilhelm in German, which is never referred to in documents created in America. He is 7 years old, which is consistent with the 1846 birth year.

Siblings: Here was another challenge. I couldn’t read several of William’s siblings’ names! I could read Anna, Pauline, and Wilhelm, but I struggled with his brothers’ names for a while. I later determined that the captain had written their names as Andre, Jacob, and Johann. However, there were five people who looked like they were Anna’s children, which was consistent with the article.

Naturalization Documents

For several years, I was stuck at this point. I knew when William immigrated, his mother’s name, his siblings’ names, and I found him living in Cincinnati in 1860 and 1870, before he moved to Tennessee. However, I was no closer to finding out more about William’s early life and his ancestry. It makes it quite difficult when you don’t know the hometown of the immigrant.

But, after some research, I finally located William’s naturalization documents! I was beside myself with happiness because not only did they tell me where William was born, but it included his personal statement. William stated that he believed he was already naturalized because he entered the U.S. as a small child. I was incredibly fortunate that William was under the impression that he was naturalized at this time because if he had realized his mistake earlier, the documents might not have been as detailed.

William Althauser naturalization application

Birth date: Given as 25 January 1846. Consistent with the death certificate, census record, and passenger list. At this point, I assumed the birth date was correct.

Birth place: Given as Opfingen, a small town in the Grand Duchy of Baden. This little bit of information sent my research in a very specific direction. Baden was also consistent with the passenger list, death certificate, article, and census record. This was also the piece of information I was most hoping to find!

Father: No name given, but he stated that his father died when he was three or four years old in Germany. His death in the Goodspeed’s article was given as 1850, and if William was three or four when his father died, this would be consistent.

Mother: No name given, but he stated that she, himself, and his siblings immigrated on the Helvetia in 1853 and arrived in New York City. This is all consistent with the passenger list and the Goodspeed’s article.

Requesting Records from Germany

Here was a brand new challenge for me: ordering records from Germany. Doing some initial research, I learned that in some German states, including Baden, citizens who wished to immigrate had to apply for permission. I hoped that the Althausers applied and that the documents had survived. The local archives is the Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemburg, and the website included some of the larger record groups for each small community. To my surprise, the permission to immigrate records were listed by each individual. It is actually quite fascinating. You can see all of the families who wanted to immigrate from that community during the 19th century. Here is the entry for the Althauser family:

It reads: Immigration of the widow of Jacob Althauser, Anna Althauser, born Krieg, with her children to North America to her siblings.

Names: Jacob and Anna Althauser. The names match the ones in the Goodspeed’s article as well as the name of the mother on the passenger list. Anna is called a widow and her birth name is Krieg, both of which are consistent with the article.

Immigration application year: 1853. This is consistent with the passenger list and William’s statement in his naturalization application.

I contacted the Archives and asked if they could supply me with copies of the permission to immigrate papers. They very graciously replied yes, and after I sent the fees, they sent me digitized copies of the records. I was very proud of myself for emailing them in German and deciphering the records request forms. I had no idea that the forthcoming records would be so detailed and informative!

Translating the Documents

I now had the documents! But I couldn’t read anything. Although I have a minor in German, at the time, I could only read German written in modern day lettering. In the 19th century, German was written in Kurrent, an old style of lettering. Below is an example of the alphabet written in Kurrent.

As you can see, it is quite difficult to read, especially when the letters are written close together. Some letters are quite difficult to tell apart, particularly e, c, m, and n. My other issue was that spelling could be a bit different in the 19th century, so it was very difficult for me to not only transcribe the letters but also translate them. I am not ashamed at all to admit that I contacted someone who specializes in translating German records to transcribe the records into modern day German. What I found out caused me to have conflicting emotions. Reading the words was so heartbreaking and sad, just to think what Anna and her children went through prior to immigration. I was also so excited because I was learning new information that no one in our family knew about.

The documents revealed that Jacob and Anna Althauser were quite poor, and she and the children were relying on money from the almshouse for support. Reasons for their poverty have been discussed in other posts, so I will not rehash those here. Jacob died on 9 July 1852 at the age of 44 and was buried two days later. Anna reported that her siblings wanted her to come to the United States (they had already immigrated), and they helped pay for her passage. At the end, both Anna and her daughter Pauline signed the document. (I was so surprised that they could both write! I later discovered that they both attended school.)

The last page was one of the most important in the whole packet. It was a transcription of the church records that gave the births, death, marriage, occupation, and parents names of both Jacob and Anna as well as the births of all of their children!! I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

Anna’s children and their birth dates.

You can see Wilhelm at the bottom of the page. It reads Wilhelm was born on 11 January 1846.

Permission to Immigrate vs. Other Records

William’s birth date: January 11? William reported that his birth date was 25 January on his naturalization petition, and his son Nathaniel gave the same date on the death certificate. The church records, and the permission to immigrate papers, clearly state that he was born on January 11. Church records also show that he was baptized on 7 February. I am inclined to believe that the church records would be the most accurate, as it was not uncommon for people to report different dates for their birth date. But it seems strange that both William and Nathaniel would agree on the wrong date.

William’s parents: Finally, the mysteries surrounding William’s parents were solved. William’s parents were Jacob Althauser and Anna Krieg, which aligns with the Goodspeed’s article. Jacob died in 1852, not in 1850 as the article alleged. Interestingly, the article reported that the family immigrated in 1852, and that was the year of Jacob’s death. Whoever gave the information knew the essence of the story, but did not have all of the correct facts.

Parents’ birth dates: The permission documents also give the birth dates of Jacob and Anna. Jacob was born on 11 October 1807, and Anna was born on 8 February 1808. The article reported that Anna was born in 1807, which was close to her birthday, but Jacob was in fact born in 1807. Again, the article was very close, but not quite accurate.

Conclusions

Researching William Althauser was challenging for many reasons, which include:

1. Reconciling facts from a second or third hand account to facts from other records.

2. Searching for the birthplace of an immigrant.

3. Ordering records from a different country and attempting to transcribe/translate them.

This research journey has also exposed the challenges that faced the immigrants themselves, both before they left for the US, during the journey, and after they settled in the US.

I also learned a valuable lesson: continue to question records, especially if they were made in an unofficial capacity, like the Goodspeed’s article. Obviously, someone who knew William well supplied the information, but I don’t know if that person was in fact William. It is curious to me that William would state that his birth year was 1847 when he clearly reports it as 1846 in other records, that he immigrated in 1852 when he reported 1853 on his naturalization paperwork, that the family entered the US through North Carolina rather than New York City, and that his mother died in 1880 when she died in 1877. William, from what I could tell, was a very careful person, and I don’t believe he would give all of this incorrect information in the 1880s but report everything correctly (or most of it) in the 1910s.

This made me wonder if his wife, Mary, gave the information to Goodspeed’s. All the information about the present – name of his wife, their marriage date, her parents’ names, their children’s names, and their church attendance – was all correct. If Mary did supply the information, it would be reasonable that she knew the basic story but the exact dates and some locations were incorrect. These inconsistencies only helped fuel my search for the truth, and the end result was very exciting and satisfying.

I believe that the most challenging cases can turn out to be the most rewarding and even the most interesting.

First – My First Genealogy Experience and Discoveries

Happy New Year! I am very excited to start a second year of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I only hope that I don’t run out of ancestors or stories to tell! If anything, this project has showed me how much more research I need to do on all of my family members!

My “first” post is about my first foray into genealogy and my early discoveries that got me hooked on researching my family.

My fourth great grandparents, McCama and Margaret Robinson, had 8 children. Two died as children, one was killed in the Civil War and was unmarried, two daughters never married, and two other daughters married but never had children. This leaves only one son, Samuel, who married and had one child. Over the ensuing 115 years, each new generation produced only one child. So when I came along, I was the first girl born into the Robinson family since 1846!

This is both a fortunate and unfortunate situation. Fortunate because my parents inherited everything that belonged to the Robinson family, including the family Bible that Samuel gave to his wife Sallie on her birthday one year. Unfortunate because we don’t have any Robinson relatives on that side to the family! We have a few relatives on each of the wives’ sides, but that is it. This means we only have family stories told by my direct ancestors; nothing from brothers or sisters of any generation who might have had different stories, different opinions on family events, or different insights into the family in general.

But back to the fortunate. One of my favorite family heirlooms is the Robinson family Bible. It is quite large, heavy, with beautiful embossed leather. On the front, it is inscribed to Sallie C. Robinson for her birthday in 1875. Six generations of Robinsons are recorded in the Bible, but sadly, Samuel did not record his parents or Sallie’s. The only clue to their residence was a notation on the marriage page which said it took place at No. 63 Spruce Street in Nashville. I also have one newspaper article which announced Samuel and Sallie’s marriage. Luckily, it gave the name of her father, T.D. Cassetty, but it failed to give the name of her mother or anything about Samuel.

I knew about the existence of this Bible for many years, and no one in our family knew anything about Samuel or Sallie’s origins. So when I decided to begin researching our family, I started with Samuel and Sallie, my first brick walls.

Before I went to the archives in Nashville, I purchased an Ancestry.com subscription and searched the census records. I knew I was looking for a Samuel and Sallie Robinson in Nashville. As they were married in 1869, I began with the 1870 census. I found a “Sam and Sallie Robison” aged 34 and 28 respectively, living in a very large household. It included T.D. Cassetty, a magistrate, his wife Matilda, their five children, four borders, and five domestic servants. At first, I remember being really discouraged. By 1870, Samuel should have been 38 and Sallie 29, and Robinson was spelled incorrectly. Did I have the right people? The names and ages were close but not perfect. After reaching out to a fellow Cassetty researcher, I learned that ages were often wildly incorrect and names depended on what the census taker heard. That was my first lesson: historical records are not always perfect.

1870 Census

After I got over my initial hesitation, I couldn’t believe my luck! Not only did I find Sam and Sallie, but they were living in the same house as T.D. Cassetty, who was named as Sallie’s father in the marriage announcement. I was pretty sure that I found Sallie’s parents, but more information about them would take more research.

Ecstatic, I then searched the 1880 census for Sallie and Samuel. I found them living in Nashville with their 7 year old son in the house of a dry goods merchant. I later learned that Samuel never bought property; instead he moved from place to place, always renting.

The census records also told me something none of my family knew: Samuel Robinson was a printer. This was a huge discovery because my father and grandfather both owned printing companies, but neither of them knew that families members were involved in printing in the 19th century!

Sadly, Sallie died in 1886 and Samuel in 1891, so my census research could not go any farther into the future. At the time, Samuel remained a brick wall, but I did find Sallie living with her parents in the 1850-1860 censuses.

Another major research first came soon after: my first visit to the archives. I spent a day at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which was only 30 minutes from my house, trying to find as much information about Samuel, Sallie, and the Cassettys as I could. The TSLA staff were so kind and helpful, that by the end, I had more information than I knew what to do with. I remember struggling to make the microfilm machines work, using the reference guides to find newspapers and death records, and pouring over the records to located their names. That day I found:

Death notices for Samuel, Sallie, and Sallie’s parents

Sallie Robinson’s death notice. It gives the names of her parents, T. D. and Matilda Cassetty.

City death records for Samuel, Sallie, and Sallie’s parents

Samuel Robinson death record.
Sallie Robinson death record.

Nashville City Directories that gave their addresses during their residence in Nashville.

I remember going home that night just so excited about what I had found out about the Robinsons. After that, I was completely hooked. I had to know more and more! To this day, the Robinsons hold a special place in my heart as the first part of my family that I researched. I was so inspired by my research that I later used Samuel’s grandmother, Ann Dixon, as the focus of my Master’s thesis. I think it is fair to say that genealogy changed my life and set me on my current career path. So cheers to a new year, and I hope I experience many more “firsts” in the year to come.

Resolution – 2018 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Final Post

The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge was so much fun! Every week, I looked forward to researching and writing about my ancestors (even if I was behind and couldn’t post immediately). Sometimes, it is quite a struggle to maintain a long-term project like this one, so I am quite proud of myself that I saw it through until the end.

I have been researching my family for about 11 years now, and even though I have traveled all over the U.S. and even England to research, writing these posts has exposed all the work that still needs to be done! That is such a great feeling because it means that I will have fun working on my family, and now my husband’s family, for many years to come.

My resolution for 2019 is to travel to a new state and conduct research on a side of the family that I have never worked on before apart from census records and what I could find on Ancestry. This may not be very realistic, but I think I should at least make an effort to try! One of the places I would most like to go is Cincinnati to work on the Althauser family. I don’t know if there will be many records, but many of them are buried there, and I would at least like to see their graves. I would also like to travel south into Washington and Morgan County, Ohio in search of the McKelveys and Prestons.

My other resolution is to continue writing posts for this challenge. I just hope that I have enough material to make each one about a different ancestor! But I intend to try! This has been a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Nice – Matilda Apple Cassetty

Matilda Apple Cassetty is one of my ancestors with whom I am quite fascinated, and yet I can’t really say why that is. Possibly, it is because I know so little about her, despite the fact that I know an overwhelming amount about her husband and her son-in-law (both are also my ancestors). One of the few things that I know about her falls into the “nice” category, and that event I will of course expound upon in this post. But I also want to use this post as an opportunity to lay out what I know about her, what I wish I knew, and my theories as to her parentage.

Ancestry and Parentage

Matilda Apple was born about 1823 in either Jackson or Smith County, Tennessee. Jackson County suffered several courthouse fires, which is also incredibly frustrating for a genealogist, but much of Smith County’s records are in tact. This is what makes determining Matilda’s parents so difficult. I do know that she was married by the 1840 census to Thomas D. Cassetty, and they began their married life in Jackson County. The first census shows that Matilda is the young woman between 14 and 19 living in the household with T. D., who is between the ages of 20 and 29. Matilda must have married by the age of 17, if not slightly younger. No children were recorded in the house, indicating that they were likely newly married.

1840 Census, Jackson County, TN. Shows T.D. Cassetty and wife Matilda soon after their marriage.

The marriage records for both Jackson and Smith County begin late, so as far as I know, no record of marriage for T.D. and Matilda exists. However, I know that they were married from other sources like newspaper articles. Three of Matilda and T. D.’s children’s deaths were recorded by death certificates, and all three children give Matilda’s maiden name as Apple, as does a Who’s Who article about their son William Martin Cassetty. He was most likely the supplier of the information, and it is reasonable that he knew his mother’s maiden name.

So I know Matilda’s maiden name, approximate birth year and place of birth, but who are her parents? There were several Apple families living in the Jackson/Smith/Putnam County region of Tennessee during the 1830s-1850s, and all of them could trace their lineage back to Daniel Apple and Barbara Spoon. Several of their sons, including David Apple, George Washington Apple, and Daniel Apple Jr., migrated to Jackson and Smith County, Tennessee. All three brothers can be seen on the 1830 census in Tennessee:

David Apple

Males: 2 under 5, 1 5-9, 2 10-14, 2 15-19, 2 40-49 (one must be David)

Females: 1 under 5, 2 5-9, 2 10-14, 1 15-19, 1 20-29 (2nd wife Mary Thackson)

George Washington Apple

Males: 2 5-9, 1 10-14, 1 15-19, 1 30-39 (G.W. Apple)

Females: 2 under 5, 1 5-9, 1 10-14, 1 30-39 (wife Mary McDonald)

Daniel Apple Jr.

Males: 1 under 5, 3 5-9, 1 10-14, 1 30-39 (Daniel Apple Jr.)

Females: 3 15-19, 1 40-49

In 1830, Matilda was 7 years old and would be noted in the Females 5-9 column. Of the three brothers, only David and George have daughters between the age of 5-9. I can therefore eliminated Daniel Jr. as Matilda’s father.

George Washington Apple’s two daughters under 5 are undoubtedly Celina (born 1828) and Barbara (born 1830) who are recorded with their parents in the 1850 census in Jackson County. I don’t know for a fact that the other two females aren’t Matilda, but it seems likely they are not based on information from other family members. The older daughter is likely Elizabeth Apple who married a Holford, and the other is Eliza Jane who married George Ridley Holleman. It seems all the females in this household have been accounted for.

That leaves the household of David Apple. David had three sons with his first wife: Milton (born 1805), Anthony (born 1808), and Madison (born 1815) and at least two unknown daughters who were under 10 in the 1820 census. He married for a second time to Mary Thackson after the 1820 census, with whom he had at least 6 children 1830 and after, as well as one son, Jackson Carroll Apple (a Tennessee Senator whose parents are named in the Biographical Dictionary) born in 1825. This leaves several sons and at least 6 daughters in the 1830 census unaccounted for (the other children appear in the 1850 census). The two oldest are likely the two daughters found in the 1820 census. One of the unknown daughters of David and his second wife was a daughter between the ages of 5 and 9, the correct age for Matilda.

There are two other documents that I have found that support the idea that Matilda was a very close relative of David Apple and likely of Anthony Apple, David’s middle son by his first wife: 2 deeds between them and Matilda’s husband, T.D. Cassetty.

On 15 December 1842, Anthony Apple sold to T. D. Cassetty of Jackson County 50 acres of land in Smith County that also touched Anthony’s land. It would make sense that a young T.D. might purchase land from one of his wife’s relatives, especially early in the marriage.

The second document was a deed of trust written on 30 September 1843 and was made between Thomas D. Cassetty and David Apple. It reads:

I have this day bargained sold and by these presents do convey unto David Apple of the County of Putnam the following property to wit three feather beds steads & furniture one Beauro one press one folding leaf table one dressing table two trunks one clock house hold & kitchen furniture one shot gun two cows & calves one yoke of oxen one horse one mares saddle also one tract of land in district No 16 in Smith County lying on both sides of the Walton Road …to have and to hold to the agoresaid David Apple and his heirs forever Now this deed is made to secure tohe said Apple in the payment of two debts for which he is security for the undersigned one to the Bank of Tennessee for seventy two dollars one to the Academy at Gainsboro for two hundrend and seven dollars. Now if the undersigned shall well and truly pay said sums of money to the said Apple on or before the first day October 1844 then this deed shall be void and of no effect or otherwise the same shall remain in full force and virtue….

Thos D. Cassetty

It is very probable that T.D. approached his father-in-law to be a security for his debts, especially if T.D. couldn’t repay the debts, all of his possessions would go to the father-in-law who would be inclined to return them. Deeds of trust were often made between close family members who wouldn’t take advantage of the ones who owed money.

To me, this is pretty compelling evidence that Anthony was Matilda’s older half brother and David Apple was Matilda’s father.

Two other small pieces of evidence also indicate that David Apple and Mary Thackson Apple were Matilda’s parents. The oldest child, Sarah (my ancestor), was named for T.D.’s mother Sarah, but the second child, Mary, was likely named for Matilda’s mother. If Mary was indeed her mother’s name, then Mary Thackson Apple is a perfect candidate. Even more telling is the fact that T.D. and Matilda named their oldest son David, indicating that either Matilda’s father was David Apple.

1850 Census showing T.D., Matilda, and their oldest children.

The deeds, census records, deeds, and naming patterns all seem to point to David and Mary Thackson as the parents of Matilda Apple.

As a side note, Matilda’s Apple family was of German extraction. Both Matilda’s grandparents, Daniel Apple and Barbara Loffel (Spoon) were from German families. Daniel Apple’s father was an immigrant from the small town of Usenborn, Wetteraukreis, Hessen, Germany, northeast of Frankfurt. He was naturalized with his father and brother in Alsace Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania in 1761.

Nice

Now it is time to tell about the one story I know of Matilda and why it was “nice.”

Matilda and T.D. Cassetty had eight children: Sarah or Sallie, Mary, David, John, William Martin, James Tecumpsah, Sidney, and Olepta. In 1856, T.D. moved the family to Nashville, where he was a successful Justice of the Peace for many years. He was well-known in the city, was often in the newspaper, and was very involved in fraternal societies including the Sons of Temperance (even though that did not dissuade him from occasional public intoxication). The family lived in a very nice house on Spruce Street, employed servants, and allowed Tennessee senators and congressmen to board periodically with them.

1860 Census, showing T.D., Matilda, and their children living in Nashville.

In 1869, the oldest daughter, Sallie, married Samuel D. Robinson, a typographer and Civil War veteran who knew her father through the Sons of Temperance. Sallie and Samuel might have also met through another means. In 1870, Edward “Ned” Apple was living with Matilda, T.D., Sallie, and her new husband Samuel in Nashville. Ned was the son of George Washington Apple, Jr., the son of George Washington Apple, Sr., that would make GW Jr. Matilda’s first cousin and Ned her first cousin once removed. Presumably, Ned had been sent to live with his cousins in Nashville so that he could attend the Tennessee School for the Blind, which was run by Samuel Robinson’s sister, Elizabeth Sturdivant, and brother-in-law, John M. Sturdivant. It is not clear how long Ned had been living with the Cassettys. If he had been sent prior to 1870, somehow the Blind School connection might have been how Sallie and Samuel met.

1870 Census, showing T.D., Matilda, some of their children, cousin Ned, boarders, and their domestic servants.

Eventually, Samuel and Sallie moved out of her parents’ home. Sallie gave birth to only one child, a son, Thomas, in 1873. She died of a stomach tumor in 1886.

Death notice of Sallie Cassetty Robinson.

Thomas’s father, Samuel, only lived until 1891, when he suddenly died of pneumonia. Thomas was only 18 years old, no longer a child, but as he had just finished high school, it would have benefited him greatly if his father had lived longer to help him with work. To make matters more difficult, Samuel never purchased property in Nashville. Instead, he, Sallie, and Thomas moved frequently and rented apartments. So when he died, Thomas had no income and no ability to pay rent.

This is when his widowed grandmother, Matilda, swept in and took care of him. She offered for him to live with her at her home on Line Street, and his uncle William offered him a job as a clerk at the Cassetty Oil Company. Matilda, who had lost her husband a couple of years earlier, was probably glad to have her grandson live with her. Her kindness probably made a big impression on Thomas.

Cassetty residences in Nashville in 1893, the year Matilda died.

Sadly, Matilda did not live long after Samuel’s death. She died of a heart attack on 13 October 1893 and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville next to T.D. and several of her children.

Record of Matilda’s death in Nashville.

 

Matilda’s death notice.

Though I know very little about her personal life, Matilda must have had a kind heart, particularly when it came to her relatives. She brought her blind cousin into her home so that he could attend a prestigious school for the blind in Tennessee. She also took in her grandson who had lost both parents and the only grandfather he ever knew (T.D.) within the space of five years. I truly believe that without help from his grandmother and uncle, Thomas would have had a very different, and certainly more difficult, life.

Naughty – Adultery and Scandal

I could place quite a few ancestors in the “naughty” category, but for this post I am going to highlight two of them who were particularly naughty: Cornelius Daugherty and his eventual wife, Mary Lynch.

I know very little about either Cornelius or Mary’s backgrounds. Cornelius was likely a part of the Daugherty family who migrated from Ireland to Augusta County, Virginia and eventually moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. He was born between 1790 and 1799 and died between the 1840 and 1850 census. I know nothing about Mary Lynch’s parentage. She was born about 1804 in either Virginia or Tennessee and died between the 1870 and 1880 census.

The first, and by far most interesting, record I have of Cornelius and Mary is a legislative petition submitted by Margaret S. Hamilton Daugherty, Cornelius’s first wife. Cornelius and Margaret were married before 1827, when she applied to the Tennessee legislature to obtain a divorce from Cornelius. In the petition, Margaret accused Cornelius not only of being a habitual drunk, but also of having an extramarital affair with a woman named Mary Lynch. Her petition contained the signatures of 13 men who supported her claims. Poor Margaret!

I am assuming that she obtained her divorce. As early marriage records of Overton County are missing due to a courthouse fire, I do not know if Cornelius and Mary made their relationship legal or not. In 1830 and 1840, Cornelius headed households where he was the male between 30 and 39 and 40 and 49 respectively, and Mary was the female between 20 and 29 and 30 and 39. The unnamed children in the household in 1830 and 1840 may have been Cornelius’s children from his marriage with Margaret (I don’t know if they had children or not), children that Cornelius and Mary had while Cornelius was still married to Margaret, and/or children Cornelius and Mary had after their marriage or in their ensuing relationship.

Mary Daugherty and her daughters in the 1850 census.

By the 1850 census, Cornelius had died possibly due to his hard living lifestyle, and Mary Lynch, listed as Mary Daugherty, aged 57, was living with five other girls. I assume they were all her daughters: Lucinda (24), Emily (16), Mary (13), Martha (13), and Vianah (10) Daugherty. I do know for a fact that both Mary and Martha were the daughters of Cornelius and Mary, and they parents are both named on each of the daughters’ death certificates. Emily and Vianah are also close in age to Mary and Martha, so I am assuming that their parents are also Cornelius and Mary. Lucinda, though 8 years older than Emily, also shared the last name Daugherty, and she was born in 1838, more than 10 years after the divorce petition of Margaret Daugherty. Lucinda, therefore, was likely not a child of Margaret’s. As the family used the surname Daugherty, I am assuming that after Cornelius’s divorce from Margaret, he and Mary Lynch were in fact legally married.

Mary Jane Daugherty Williams’s parents listed on her death certificate.

Sadly, I have not found out what happened to Cornelius’s daughters Emily or Vianah, but both Mary and Martha (my ancestor) married, had children, and lived long lives. Lucinda seemed to go the way of her mother. She also had an extramarital relationship in her early 20s which produced a son, John. The father is still unknown. In the 1870 census, she is recorded living with her mother, Mary, in Overton County. Mary disappears from records after this time.

I would say that Cornelius and Mary were definitely naughty considering the lives they led and they way they went about beginning their family!

Winter – A Snow-Covered House in Ohio

My 4th great grandparents, Washington Preston (the subject of my bearded post) and his wife Rachel (Jordan) Preston, lived in a big, beautiful house in Marietta, Ohio, which they purchased as early as 1881. As I have not been to Marietta myself, I do not know if the house is still standing, but I certainly hope it is!

I have a few pictures of just the house, as well as others taken of family members with the house in the background. In fact, the photograph I used for the bearded post is of Washington, but you can see the house behind him. Two of the photographs of just the house show it in the wintertime. The ground is blanketed with snow, and the roof clearly shows that snow had settled there as well. Below is my favorite of the two photographs:

Washington and Rachel Preston house in Marietta, Ohio.

Doesn’t it look just like a postcard? Snow-covered trees, a shoveled walkway, and snow a foot or so deep.

Although I do not know what the house looked like on the inside, the photo of the exterior of the house provides some clues as to what life was like for the family living here. The house sat back off the road, surrounded by trees with a large lawn in the front and back of the house. The backyard had at least one swing which could be viewed from the two story wrap around porch.

The house was at least two full stories, and it possibly contained an attic and a basement. The house had at least four large rooms on each floor and a large downstairs and upstairs hallway. The home was heated with probably four fireplaces. Two chimneys can be seen rising from the roof, and at least 2 fireplaces, one on the first story and one on the second story, would be attached to each chimney.

This large house was perfect for the family reunions that Washington and Rachel held periodically. Their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would travel from as far away as Nashville by train to visit with each other. These visits were often documented with family snapshots. This picture of the house is likely from one of the visits to the grandparents’ house.

When Rachel Preston died in 1912, the house passed to her unmarried daughters, Dr. Anna Preston and Nora Preston. The sisters lived in the house until their deaths. After that time, I am not sure what happened to the property. That is something for me to find out when I go to Ohio for research!

Whether the house is still standing or if it is no longer there, I am very grateful that I have this beautiful snapshot of my ancestors’ house on a snowy, Ohio day.

Next to Last – William J. Kimbell

This was a difficult post because it took some searching in my tree to figure out who or what might fit! I finally found that my 3rd great grandfather, William J. Kimbell, was the next to last child born to his parents, Robert Kimbell and Sarah Hinton. This is maybe not the most creative interpretation of this prompt, but it works!

Parents and Siblings

Robert Kimbell was born about 1794 in North Carolina, and when he married Sarah Hinton, daughter of Thomas Hinton and Rachel Hightower, on 8 February 1824, he was living in Clarke County, Georgia.

The first census in which I have found Robert and his family is 1840 when they were living in Cherokee County, Alabama. The census lists a man between 40 and 49, which must be Robert who was about 46 years old at the time, as well as a woman between 30 and 39, which must be Sarah aged about 35. There is also an unidentified male between 30 and 39 living in the household, possible a brother of either Robert or Sarah.

Also living in the house were 8 children 14 years or younger.

2 girls between 10 – 14

1 boy between 10-14

2 boys 5-9

2 boys under 5

1 girl under 5

From the 1850 census, I can determine who some of these children are:

Thomas Kimbell, born 1840, and John Kimbell, born 1838, were likely the two boys under 5.

Elizabeth Kimbell, born 1845, was likely the girl under 5.

Henry Kimbell, born 1833, and Robert Kimbell, born 1832, were likely the two boys between 5 and 9.

That leaves 3 children unaccounted for: 2 girls and 1 boys between 10 and 14 years old. I have seen some compelling evidence than an Ann Kimbell who married Joseph Weaver in Chattooga County, GA in 1842 is one of those 2 girls. The Kimbell family was living in Chattooga County by that time, and Ann and her husband moved to Cherokee, AL where they lived their entire lives, a place where Robert Kimbell and his family lived in 1840. She died in 1914, and her death certificate (which I do not have) might shed some light on her parents.

I have seen other researchers put forth a Melissa Sue Kimbell as the other daughter, which is definitely a possibility. Melissa Kimbell married Joseph DeLawne (Delong) in Chattooga County in 1847.

The other boy is still a mystery.

Birth and Early Life

Robert and Sarah’s last two children, William J. and Joseph, were born in 1843 and 1846 respectively. My ancestor is William J., the next to last child. He was born on 6 May 1843 in Chattooga County, Georgia. In the 1850 census he was seven years old and living in Chattooga County with his parents Robert and Sarah, and siblings Robert, Henry, Elizabeth, John, Thomas, and Joseph. His father was a farmer but owned no land, or at least no value was attributed to his land. (I need to do some more research here).

1850 Census showing William J. Kimbell as the next to last child.

10 years later, William is still living at home with both parents as well as his older sister Elizabeth and younger brother Joseph. He was recorded as 17 years old and a farmer. His father’s land was valued at $1,200, and William was likely helping his father farm that property. This is the last census in which Robert Kimbell appears, indicating that he died between 1860 and 1870.

Civil War and Marriage

William enlisted as a Corporal in the Confederate Army, 6th Regiment Georgia Calvary, Company H, in 1862. He served from his enlistment date until the Confederate surrender at Greensboro, North Carolina in 1865 and was discharged in May. According to his wife, he was never taken prisoner. Some of this information came from his widow’s pension application which was made in 1910.

Three months after his discharge, William married Martha Caroline Murphy in 28 August 1865 near Summerville, Chattooga County, Georgia. She was the daughter of Jeremiah Murphy and Jane Dorsett. The couple continued to live with William’s widowed mother, Sarah, now aged 63, his older sister Elizabeth, and her son John. Elizabeth was unmarried, and John’s father is still not known. William and Martha’s oldest child, Alice, was born in 1866, and she was enumerated with them as their only living child.

1880 Census

1880 Census

The 1880 census shows that William and Martha are living in their home with only their children. William’s mother Sarah is no longer there, and his sister Elizabeth and nephew John are enumerated in a separate dwelling next door. By this time, William and Martha have five children: Elizabeth (recorded as Alice in 1870), Joseph F., Ulenna, James A., and John L.

Death and Issues with Date

William’s tombstone shows that he died on 28 February 1882, but I am now questioning whether that date is correct. On the 1900 census, Martha was living in Chattooga County, widowed, with several of her children: James, John, William, and Lula. William was born in October 1882, which could still be possible if his father died in February 1882, but Lula was born in March 1887! She is listed as Martha’s daughter, and Martha only married one time. It was also reported to the census taker that Martha had 12 children, although only 7 were living at the time. Lula, along with the other children named on the census records, make up 7 exactly.

The date, 18-2, is difficult to read in Martha’s pension application.

In Martha’s Confederate widow’s pension application, she stated that her husband died in 18-2. The 3rd number is very difficult to read. It seems that it was interpreted as an 8, but, based on Lula’s birth, it has to be a 9. It would only make sense that their daughter Lula was born in 1887 if her father died in 1892 and not 1882. Lula died in 1963, and hopefully her death certificate lists her parents’ names. If William is listed as her father, than his death date is certainly incorrect on his tombstone.

William Kimbell’s tombstone in Lyerly, Georgia.

It is possible that Lula is Martha’s daughter but not William’s. William does not appear in tax records after 1882, which is consistent with the 1882 death date. At that time, he was only 39, so there is no reason why he wouldn’t be paying taxes. This supports the theory that Lula was not William’s daughter, but perhaps a daughter from another relationship but not a second marriage. That would have been quite the scandal!

After William’s death, Martha applied for a widow’s pension, for which she was approved, but did not receive the money. After her death in 1922, her son, John, also attempted to get the $105 owed by the state of Georgia. It is her pension application that contains so much useful information, including their marriage date and William’s death date.

The Lesson

Writing about William J. Kimbell has taught me another valuable lesson: tombstones are not always correct, especially if they were put up years after someone’s death, which was the case for William. It seems that the death year is possibly incorrect, yet this is the date that is found on everyone’s family tree, including my own. It seems that the death certificate of Martha’s daughter, Lula, might shed some truthfulness on this situation.