This ‘N That

  • I got a good laugh when I read Read Michael John Neill’s post 10 Signs You Have Genealogy OCD
  • Being without air conditioning for 24 hours plus, reminded me that I grew up without air conditioning and lived in the South for quite a few of those years. (Go here for the full story of my lack of air conditioning).







My Southern Roots

As usual I am a day late with Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but I thought I’d play along anyway.

One of the tasks was to make a pie chart with the birthplaces of our 16 great-great grandparents.

So here is mine:

All but one of my great great grandparents were born in the south, most of them in South Carolina. One of them, Francis A. Young, was born in Mexico, probably in an area that became a US territory.

Making the chart was fun and you can make one also here at Kid Zone.


One Mystery Solved

I have a few lines in my ancestry that I can only go back a few generations. On my paternal side, one is the McGraw line, where I can only go back to my great grandfather, Christopher Malachi McGraw (1852-1933).  His death certificate states that his father is R. McGraw and his mother is unknown. I do know that his mother’s name is Betsy, as I found her in the 1870 census in Fish Dam, Union, South Carolina, with her children. Malachi’s wife was Mary E. Johns (1852-?). With the Johns I can go back one more generation to her parents, Daniel Johns (1825-1862) and Emily( 1830-?)

May Agnes Young (1866-1938)

My maternal side is very well researched, except for my great grandmother, May (Mary) Agnes Young’s (1866-1938) heritage.  I have know that her father was Francis A.Young (1833-1904) and her mother was Mary (1846-?) for quite awhile. When I visited my uncle last year, he has some of my great uncle Jim Cook’s (1891-1970) genealogy papers.  Uncle Jim was doing genealogy in the 1960’s when I knew him. I was in high school and college at this time and did not pay too much attention to what he was saying about the family at that time. I sure wished I had. But anyway, his papers said that he thought Francis’ father was William H. Junge. To date I have not found a connection. In these papers he said that Mary was Mary C. Harrison. At the time I could not find proof of that.

But then a couple of weeks ago, I had remembered a Genealogy Tip of the Day that advised to check out Family Search every few weeks. So I searched and found her in “District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950.”  It states that Francis A. Young and Mary C. Harrison, married on 12 Mar 1866.  That was so exciting to confirm that her maiden name was Harrison and to get their marriage date.  In Uncle Jim’s paper he alluded that she was related to President Harrison.  I then found her in the 1860 & 1850 census living with her parents Robert H. Harrison(1814-?) and Margaret (1822-?).  At this point I am guessing Margaret’s maiden name as Williams, as a William Williams, age 57 was living with them in 1850. I may be wrong but it is a place to explore in the meantime.

Yesterday was the Bay County Genealogical Society board meeting and some of us went out to lunch afterwards. I was telling them about my discovery and how excited I was and they all sat there and nodded understanding my excitement.  It sure is nice to belong to a group that understand what you are doing and why.  I sure wish other counties had as good of a web site as ours.




Happy Fourth of July Weekend

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776

And while you are celebrating this weekend remember to say a little thank-you to the men and women who serve in our armed forces.


I have been trying to learn about DNA and using it as a tool in genealogical research. I enrolled at and sent them my DNA sample. In return they genotype my DNA. What that means is that they test and determine which genetic variants I possess.  Once the testing had been done I received the results on line. At Part of the results concerned health issues and showed me what health risks I had inherited which was interesting.

But the part I am enjoying the most is the relative finder.  I have been conversing with a few new cousins and trying to find out how we are related. Some of them are so organized in how they share information and some are new like me.

It has gotten me back into research. I started working on the Ligon line. My most recent Ligon ancestor was Sarah Ligon (1776- ?), my 4th great grandmother.  She was married to John Cook (1780-1830). The Ligon line is well researched and it connections are traced back to the 13th century. On, the 998 page book entitlled, “The Ligon Family and Connections,” by William D. Ligon, published in 1947 is available, and I have been reading through it the last few days and adding information to my family tree. Of course as usually the case, Sarah’s line is not as well documented as some others.

But, the book is full of early Virginia history,  The immigrant and patriarch of the family in America was Colonel Thomas Ligon (1624-1676) of Madresfield, Worcestershire, England. He was a grandson of a second son and had little chance of inheriting much. At age 16 he  came to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1641, with is near kinsman, Sir William Berkeley, Royal Governor of Virginia. In the various records of the counties of Virginia, in reference to Colonel Thomas Ligon and his descendants, the name Ligon is spelled Lygon, Lyggon, Liggon, Liggan, Liggin, Ligon, and Leagan.

He married Mary Harris, the daughter of Capt. Thomas Harris, and they were the parents of 7 children. He was a member of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown,  where he was a member of “ye Committee for private Causes.”  He was a justice for Charles City County 1 August 1657,  a militia colonel, and county surveyor from 1667 to his death in 1675.

The Story Tellers: We Are The Chosen Ones

My feelings are that in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were, by our genes.

Those who have gone before cry out to us. Tell our story! So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us!” How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference, and saying I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. (For we without them cannot be made perfect.)

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

By: Della M. Cummings Wright ~ Rewritten by her granddaughter, Della JoAnn McGinnis Johnson ~ Edited and reworded by: Tom Dunn

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally call Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in the service of our country. One of those brave men was my great, great grandfather, Daniel Johns (1825 − 1862). He died while serving in the South Carolina Infantry, Co. B 18 Reg’t C , during the Civil War, leaving behind a wife and four small children.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Happy Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and today is the Kentucky Derby. What do they have in common? Both are linked in my mind as a remembrance of my mother, Nancy Sain McGraw (1924 − 1987).  I consciously was not aware of my mother’s love affair with horses until I was in high school and we moved to an apartment near Hollywood Park in Inglewood. California. I then began to notice the section of the paper folded in half to the handicaps of the horses. This was the early 1960s and the jockeys of that time, such as Eddie Arcaro and Bill Shoemaker, became household names. At that time you could attend the last few races of the day for free, which we often did. I learned racetrack lingo. And of course when the Kentucky Derby was broadcast on TV my mother was glued to the set and was vocal about her favorite horse.

From my uncle I have learned that my grandmother, Jessie Cook Sain ( 1901 − 1997), was also an aficionado of the horses, but in my mind horse racing and my mother are intertwined. One of my best memories of my mother and horse racing is after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  In the summer of 1986,  my sister, mom and I took a road trip to Del Mar.  We spent the day at the track, laughing and having a good time. We got back to LA after dark, after finding an Italian restaurant on the way home.

So I watched the Kentucky Derby today and enjoyed the race. My mother would have know everything about each horse and jockey. I knew nothing. But I envisioned her urging her horse forward,  and I did get excited when Animal Kingdom came up and ran away with the race.

Again, Happy Mother’s Day.


Civil War Anniversary

Bill West of West in New England  put out a Americans in the Civil War Challenge. As tomorrow is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I thought it would be a way to honor my ancestors that fought for what they thought was right.  Rick and I have been watching the PBS special “The Civil War”, a film by Ken Burns, and it really brings the horrors of the war home and makes me appreciate even more what those ancestors who lived at that time went through.


Elisha Reynolds Sain and his wife Sarah Lawrence Sain were moving with their eleven children in a caravan from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Arkansas at the outbreak of the war. When they reached Jackson, MS all the able-bodied men were enlisted.  Elisha served as a blacksmith, making horseshoes and nails, in the army of General Nathan Bedford Forest, Company G, 1st Mississippi State Troops. His records showed he joined on August 18, 1864 and he was 47 years old. His son, William H. Sain served inCompany F, 43rd Mississippi Infantry. After the war, the family continued on to Arkansas, stopping at Hober Springs for at least a year before settling in Nashville, AR.


John Merrell and his wife Elizabeth Stone Merrell had been in Arkansas for about 1ten or eleven  years when war broke out. They lived with their five children in a log house north of Nashville on what is now the Chapel Hill road. Some of their grown children stayed in Tennessee when they moved. A son, William E. Merrell, was killed on April 25, 1864, while serving in the Confederate army.


John E. Cook and his wife, Cornelia E. Christopher Sain were living in Columbia County Arkansas on the outbreak of the war. They had been married for a little less than one year, having married on May 18, 186o. In the 1860 census they were living with his mother and his evelen sibling and his occupation is listed as a lawyer.  He entered the Confederate States Army (Ouachita Rangers) at Caney, AR on June 1, 1861, the day after his first child, Joe E. Cook, was born.  On April 3, 1862, at DeVall’s Bluff, AR he was elected Lt.Colonel of Smead’s AR Volunteers.


I am not sure where Francis was on the outbreak of the war. But he marries Mary C. (maybe Harrison, according to great uncle Jim, but I have found no proof of this) around 1864 in Washington D.C. In the 1870 census his occupation was listed as a clerk for the Interior Department.

McGraw Family

I do not know where  R. and Betsy McGraw and their family were at the outbreak of the war. Family lore has them in the Atlanta area when Sherman came through.

Johns Family

Daniel Johns and his wife Emily and their four children lived in Union County South Carolina at the outbreak of the war.  Daniel Johns died on  Feb, 10 1862 while serving with 18th regiment. His widow, Emily Johns made an affidavit on May 13,1862 that she was his lawful wife and was the lawful heir. She received his due pay of $14.66.

Jenkins Family

John Ballad Jenkins and his wife Caroline Matilda Rhudy Jenkins were living in the Rome, Georgia area at the outbreak of the war.  In “A History of Rome and Floyd County, Volume I,” by George Magruder Battey, Jr., 1922, on page. 198 there is a description of the Sherman invaded the town on Oct. 29 . And on Nov. 10, they began to leave by burning the places of military value.  and the last of them left on , Nov. 11, 1864.  The 40 men left behind organized a patrol force for the protection of their homes. and included among them was John B. Jenkins.


David Crawford and his wife Sarah were living in Cass County, Georgia at the outbreak of the war. 1864 brought rampant devastation to the county. It witness the full fury of the Union Force’s Atlanta Campaign.  The county seat, Cassville  was destroyed.


More about Joe. E. Cook

As I mentioned last post, I came across some information about my great grandfather, Joe. E. Cook, at Genealogy Bank web site showing his feisty nature. The second article was published in the St. Louis Republic on 06 October 1896.  And the headline read “Carved by an Attorney.”

Of course that headline piqued my interest. The article was about an incident between my great grandfather and W.W. Shuptrine, a prominent grocery merchant in Texarkana, Arkansas. My great grandfather was hired by the creditors of J.W. Hart & Co. and Mr. Shuptrine was the son-in-law of Mr. Hart.  Mr. Shuptrine attacked my great grandfather with an ax handle and knocked him down twice.  My great grandfather got back up on his feet and drew his knife and slashed/ stabbed Mr. Shuptrine about a dozen times. One thrust of his knife came close to the jugular vein and three others made a mess of Mr. Shuptrine’s face and scalp.   The article stated that Mr. Shuptine was near death and my great granfather had been arrested and was out on bond pending  whether Mr. Shuptrine lived.

I never found a follow up article, but my great grandfather continued to practice law until he died in 1913.

From the two articles it is apparent that Joe E. Cook carried a knife. Did he wear at his waist sheathed in leather or did he have it hidden in his boot? I do not know but I scanned this site for what was available at the time.

Of course all the news about Joe E. Cook was not so sensational. In this same newspaper on 08 October 1889, he is mentioned as the defense lawyer  for Ed Spear, who was charged with the murder of H. M. Heldier .  The case was one of the most sensational of that time frame in southwest Arkansas. The paper described my grandfather as “one of the ablest and perhaps the most eloquent criminal lawyers in Western Arkansas.”


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