Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#12 of 52...Donna Jane Thomason

I'm kicking off a four week series on the women ancestors in my family tree as part of my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  I'm a little late to say that this is for Women's History month seeing as how March is almost over with; but it is in the spirit of this special month that I am doing this.  I'm keeping this to women that have already passed.  I'm starting out with the most important female in my family tree, my Mama, Donna Jane Thomason.  You can see a photo of her here.

Donna Jane Thomason was born 15 May 1957 at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  I was born at the same hospital some 20 years later.  Jane, as she was called, was the second child of Berney Jack Thomason, SR and Shirley Lucille Ivey. Their children are:

Berney Jack Thomason, JR "Jackie" (1955-2003)
Donna Jane Thomason (1957-2006)
Janet Elaine Thomason (living)
Beverly June Thomason (living)
Julie Shirlene Thomason (living)

All of the children are called by their J names.  So it is Jackie, Jane, Janet, June and Julie.  say that five times fast!

Mama grew up in Newton County, Georgia.  She at one time lived out on Airport Road and another time near a Pecan Grove off Hwy 36.  She met my daddy, Kenneth Curran, at church, I believe it was and they were married 24 Jun 1975 (I think) in Rockdale County, Georgia.  The story is that they went to Newton County but they wouldn't do it because they knew my Granddaddy Jack and said no way.  They eloped; didn't tell anyone and just did it.  I have the dress she wore that day; it's blue with big red strawberries on it.  She was tiny; as I wore the thing when I was in the fourth grade.  Mama was only 5ft tall.  I'm 5ft 4in.  She was very thin back then.

My parents had two beautiful albeit smart-mouthed daughters.

1). Sarah Latisha Curran (living)
2). Amanda Jolene Curran (living)

Mama didn't finish high school, she got married.  She did get her GED though. Mama worked at varying jobs off and on when it was necessary but for the most part she was home with me and my sister.  She and daddy did work with the PTA once in a while and she volunteered one year for Girl Scouts. She also volunteered for a short time to do a church sponsored girls club. One year she home-schooled my sister.

Mama loved the Appalachian mountains especially in North Carolina around Cherokee.  She loved to camp.  She enjoyed dropping a line to fish.  She loved rainy days and nights.  She would sit on the front porch of the old house we rented with the tin roof and listen to the rain and thunder, watching the lightening.  Mama loved to delve into the fictional worlds of Romance Novels.  She was a voracious reader.   She liked telling ghost stories and theorizing on the existence of aliens (she believed they were real).  She played "make-believe" with me and my sister.  She taught us to use our imagination.

Late 2005 she was diagnosed with leukemia after many, many months of the doctor not taking her symptoms seriously.  Because she was a an obese woman he blamed all of her varying symptoms on her menstrual cycle and obesity.  When she was at Emory hospital she found out a guy she knew when she was young had written a book about his childhood.  I ordered the book and had it sent to her.  She loved reading it and called me up and told me, "he wrote about me."  She swore that the Jane in his book in Chapter 10 was her! It brought her great laughter to read that story.  The book is called, "Boyz in the Grove" by Rick Darby.

Mama lost her battle with leukemia on May 18, 2006; she had just turned 49 years old.

I miss her every single day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

#11 of 52...Robert Groom

Robert Groom is one of my husband's 4th great grandfathers and the father of my post last week.

The earliest record I found with Robert Groom is the 1841 England Census for Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.  Robert is listed as living with John Golding who is an Engineer.  Robert is age 15 and listed as being an Engineer Apprentice.  Along with Robert is another apprentice named John Mason.  Robert is shown to have been born in the same county, which is Staffordshire.  He would have been born about 1826 or thereabouts.  

Class: HO107; Piece: 1001; Book: 8; Civil Parish: Wolverhampton; County: Staffordshire; Enumeration District: 17; Folio: 14; Page: 20; Line: 16; GSU roll: 474628

I do not know Robert's parents nor have I been able to find his birth or baptismal record.  Without knowing for sure his parents it's difficult to ascertain if a record is his as Robert Groom is not exactly a unique name in England.

The next time we locate Robert is in 1851 England Census where he is with his wife Mary and sons James and Samuel.  Also living with Robert is a Robert Emery, Margaret and Mary Ann as well as Joseph Cotterell and Ellen.
Class: HO107; Piece: 2021; Folio: 130; Page: 13; GSU roll: 87425-87426

Robert and Mary have the following known children:
1). James Groom (1843-1915)
2). Samuel Groom (1849-   )
3). John Groom (1859-1933)

I can't seem to locate Robert and Mary Groom or their boys again until 1880.  We know that they immigrate to the United States, but I have not found exactly when. In this census they are in St. Clair County, Illinois living near their sons John and James. I do not see Samuel nearby.  Robert is a mining engineer.  He lists his birthplace as England, his father's as Wales and his mother's as England.
Here they are in the 1880 census. 
Year: 1880; Census Place: West Belleville, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: 247; Family History Film: 1254247; Page:304B; Enumeration District: 045; Image: 0279
By the 1900 Census both Robert and Mary are passed.  I've not located their death records or where they are buried yet.  I find it fascinating that Robert was an apprentice, which implies that the position of engineer at a mine is skilled labor and not manual labor as one usually thinks of all things mine related. (All of us that are ignorant of the facts, that is).

Monday, March 16, 2015

What about all the Grandmothers?

As I do more and more genealogy research I have notice that it's difficult to find much information for our average Grandmothers.  I'm not talking about the extraordinary ones that have done amazing things that you can find evident in newspapers, letters, and archives.  I'm talking about your regular grandmother that gave birth to 12 children with the same husband and lived on a farm and handled all that difficult work. The grandmother that lost babies in infancy and went on to have more babies.  Where's the evidence of her life?

We know she was there because she is the mother of her children.  We know she lived because of her gravestone that tells us she was born and that she died.  What records exist for her?  We  might find her name in a birth registry or christening, if the county or church kept the records.  We can find her name when she married, if we can figure out her maiden name and her husband wasn't named John Smith and her name wasn't Mary.

The deeds and wills aren't as likely for her.  She didn't have to register for a draft for a war, so no information is there for that.  We can't know if she was tall or short or slender or what color her eyes were or what color her hair was. She's on the census, and for that we are happy.

With our grandfathers we can find so much detail about his life; who he was.  It's not as easy for our grandmothers.  I hope to begin next week with a series of the ordinary and extraordinary women in my family tree.  Some will have very little detail but we will know she was not insignificant; because without her there would not be a me.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

#10 of 52...James Groom

I've recently discovered this interesting ancestor of my husband.  His name is James Groom and he is a third great grandfather, from his paternal side.

James Groom was born 14 November 1843 in Bilston, Staffordshire, England to Robert and Mary Groom. He was baptized 26 Nov 1843 at St. Leonard's Bilston, Stafford, England.

The Groom Family listed in the 1851 England Census for Bilston.
Ancestry.com. 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.HO107; Piece: 2021; Folio: 130; Page: 13; GSU roll: 87425-87426
Above you can locate James and his parents a well as a brother Samuel.  Of course it would be my luck that we cannot see what James's father Robert's occupation is.  Of the entire page, it is my luck that a big ole ink mark completely covers that information.

The Groom family immigrated from England to St. Clair County, Illinois sometime after the 1851 England Census and before 1863 when James was counted in the Civil War Draft Register. I've not located the family in the 1860 census as of yet.  I've searched both England and Illinois.  I will have to do a more thorough search in Illinois.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General's Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); ARC Identifier: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 1 of 6
As we can see from the above register from St. Clair County, Illinois, he is listed as James Groom, age 20, white, occupation is Engineer, single and born in England.

James marries Hannah Tate 10 Dec 1864 in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois.  He is 21 years old and she is 19 years old.   Together they have the following known children:

1). William Groom (1865-1939)
2). John Groom (1871-1835)
3). Richard Groom (1872-    )
4). Samuel Groom (1874-1942) **my husband's 2nd Great Grandfather
5). Issac Groom (1876-1952)
6). Rachel Groom (1877-1933)
7). Alexander Groom (1880-1946)
8). Thomas Groom (1883-1951)
9). Elizabeth Groom (1886-1940)
10.) Ann Groom (1887-1925)

I am missing the census record for James and Hannah for 1870, but I have located them in 1880 still in St Clair County, IL.

Year: 1880; Census Place: West Belleville, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: 247; Family History Film: 1254247; Page:305C; Enumeration District: 045; Image: 0280

James and Hannah (often listed as just Anna) are enumerated.  Above James is Mary A...this is his mother and his father is on the page prior.  Next door, below James and Anna is a Robert Tate.  I'm surmising that this could possibly be Anna's father, but I have not delved into that research as of yet.  It is a great clue though that I can further investigate.  James is listed as being a Coal Miner.

I was unaware of coal mining in St. Clair County until I started doing the research into this side of my husband's family.  I discovered that the Groom family were all involved in Coal mining.  It is my understanding that the Groom family started out as miners and engineers operating the elevators into the mines and ended up in the early 20th century owning a mine! In fact James's brother John become president of the Groom Mine Company in the 1920's.

By 1910, James's wife Anna has passed away.  James is still working as a hoisting engineer at the coal mine.
James passes away 14 January 1915

Here is a transcription of his obituary from the Belleville News Democrat, January 14, 1915.
                         James Groom, 71 years old, a pioneer resident of St. Clair County, died at his 
                    home, 2021 West Main street, at 12:40 o'clock Thursday afternoon.  He was 
                    born in England, November 14, 1843, and came to St. Clair County and settled
                    in Belleville when 12 years of age. 
                         He leaves three daughters, Mrs. James White, Mrs Dominick Kempf and Mrs.
                    Sedley Phillips; seven sons, William, John, Isaac, Alexander, Thomas and Samuel, in
                    Belleville; Richard, in California; twenty seven grandchildren and three great-grand-
                    children.  He also leaves one brother, John Groom, in Belleville. 

According to this account, his family immigrated around 1855, I will need to investigate further.   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#9 of 52...Two for One Special! Conrad Flach and Barbara Nieder

This past week I have been looking at a set of my husband's 3rd Great Grandparents.  Today I'm looking at Conrad Flach and Barbara Nieder.

Conrad Flach was born about 1826 in Prussia (according to Census records).  I have not pinned down his death date.

Barbara Nieder was born about 1825, also in Prussia (again according to Census records). Her date of death has not been located either.

We don't know much about Conrad and Barbara before they arrived in the United States from Prussia, but I did manage to locate when and where they arrived.

Conrad arrived 13 Nov 1854 aboard the ship Moses Taylor.  The ship arrived at the port of New Orleans, LA.  It had departed from Le Havre, France.  Below is the top portion of the ship manifest as well as Conrad's listing.

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902; Series: M259; Roll #: 40

Here's Conrad on the list.

Conrad Flach, age 28, male;
 Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902; Series: M259; Roll #: 40
There isn't much juicy information on this document so far.  We have Conrad's name and his age on 13 Nov 1854, giving us the approximate birth year of 1826.  But as I looked at all the names on the list guess what I found!

Barbara Nieder, age 27 and Christine Nieder age 13
Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902
; Series: M259; Roll #: 40

Looky there!  Barbara Nieder is on the same ship!  But who is this Christine listed with her?  And what is that written on that column?  Dos that say helped?  Or something else?  It appears that Barbara Nieder was on the same ship as Conrad Flach leaving from Le Hever, France and arriving in New Orleans! But again, who is Christine?  Is she Barbara's sister? Cousin? Daughter? It is possible as there is 16 years between their ages and having a child at 16 is not unheard of.

Conrad Flach and Barbara Nieder get married in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois 22 Aug 1856; just under two years from their arrival to the US.

The couple have the following known children:

1). Henry Flach (1859-1926)
2). Adam Flach (1862-1906)
3). Elizabeth Flach (1865-1942) **This is Cody's 2nd Great Grandmother.  She married George Schaal.

I have searched for the couple (Conrad and Barbara) in 1860 but have not located them.  I was hoping to find Christine with them and try to determine her relationship to Barbara, but have not had any luck with it.

I located Conrad on a list of Civil War Draft Registrations dated 1 July 1863.  He was living in Belleville, IL his age was 39 and his occupation was Mason.

1870 Federal Census finds the couple still living in Belleville, IL with the three children listed and Conrad is listed as being a Stone Mason.

1880 Federal Census they are still in Belleville, IL and only Elizabeth (Lizzie) is at home.  Again Conrad's occupation is Stone Mason.

1891 City Directory lists only Conrad Flach with no mention of Barbara so may be able to surmise that she has passed.  However you can see two Adam Flachs (so not sure which one is Conrad's son), Miss Elizabeth Flach, housekeeper and living on S. Charles, and Henry Flach, heater.  The very interesting thing is that Conrad is listed as living at 411 S. Church; Cody's family has been living on Church Street since at least this date.  His grandmother is living on Church Street today.  It's not the same number, but very close.  That home has been in their family for decades.

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
This family is fascinating to me.  I wonder if Conrad and Barbara knew each other in Prussia or did they meet on that ship?  What was each ones motivation to move to the United States?  Who was Christine?  I have many questions about this family.  I wish we had photos or drawings of them.  I wish I had photos for all of our ancestors that had any taken.

I'll continue to search for their death records.  I have found a Conrad Flach listed in a City Directory for 1906, but I am not sure if it's the same Conrad Flach.  It has him listed as working for the Stoveworks and he'd be 80 years old.  So I'm not quite sure that would be right.

I'll also keep searching to see if I can find out who Christine was and anything possible about their life in Prussia; such as parents and such.