Tuesday, May 24, 2016

William Russell



Perhaps my most interesting ancestor is Major William Russell.  He was born about 1762 in North Carolina.  The Russells and the Bean(e) family were some of the first white settlers in Tennessee.  (Russell Bean was the first white child born in Tennessee.)  William Russell's cabin in Cowan, TN served as the county courthouse for a time of Franklin County, TN.  William served under General Andrew Jackson in the Creek Indian War and the War of 1812, as the leader of a "Company of Mounted Spies" and also as Jackson's chief of staff.  He was involved in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, leading a charge on the fortifications there.  Several sources say that Russell chose to settle in what is now Franklin County, AL after passing through the area on the way to the Battle of New Orleans.  It became known as Russell's Valley, and the town of Russellville is named for him.  I have a copy of a letter from Andrew Jackson commending his service and remembering "the Russells and the Beans".  One of the men who served under William Russell was none other than Davy Crockett, who mentions him and his son George in his autobiography.  Davy picked George Russell as one of his scouting party.  One of his other men disputed the choice of the young Russell, saying he didn't even have a beard.  Crockett replied that if beards were the measure of a man, he'd be better off with a billy goat.  George Russell is the basis for the character Georgie in the Disney TV series about Davy Crockett.

I had known about most of this for years, but a few years ago, a distant cousin Janelle Williams found out about a gun which was said to belong to William Russell.

Author: Jewel D. Scarborough Title: Southern Kith and Kin Page: p. 237
"The Burlesons, famous in Texas history, were not only friends and neighbors in Tennessee, but continued their friendship in North Alabama, where both families settled after leaving Tennessee. There is a story in the family that Rufus Burleson of Texas was baptized into the Baptist church by George Daniel Russell, grandson of Major William, and that as a token of his friendship presented his friend his grandfather's gun, used in the War of 1812. Though it was reported that the gun was given to the Baylor University Museum, or to the Archives at the Alamo, no record of it has been found."

She managed to track this down in the Alamo collection and went to see it.  This is how their records described it. Author: The Alamo Title: The Alamo Archives Publication: Location: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas 78299; Note: The Alamo 300 Alamo Plaza P.O. Box 2599 San Antonio, Texas 78299 Dr. Richard Bruce Winders Historian and Curator Tel: 210-225-4391 ext 27 [?] Fax: 210-229-1343 [?] E-Mail: bwinders@thealamo.org Page: the Long Barricks of the Alamo Archives adjacent to the Davy Crockett Room, Case #G-6 Text: 52 cal Peacemaker property description. Item Name: Percussion Rifle Caliber: .52 Barrel Length: 40" octagon O.A. Length: 56" to heel of butt Serial #: None Type Action: Single shot, side lock Alterations, Accessories: Wooden ramrod Sights: Blade front, open fixed rear Condition: Good Description: Inlaid silver plate inscription on barrel flat reads, "Maj. Russels, old gun. Presented by J.B. to Joseph Burlesson of Texas, 1839." Half-stock, brass patch box, iron ramrod thimbles. Double set trigger. All iron mounts. History: Old case card states, "Used in Texas Revolution, the Mexican War adn the War Between the States." No authenticating information found. Old case card lists as G-6. Remarks: None Donor: Unknown [handwritten: Joseph E. Burleson III]. Cased in the Long Barracks Case #G-6 The Alamo 300 Alamo Plaza P.O. Box 2599 San Antonio, Texas 78299 Dr. Richard Bruce Winders Historian and Curator Tel: 210-225-4391 ext 27 [?] Fax: 210-229-1343 [?] E-Mail: bwinders@thealamo.org

Last month, I was in Austin and I made a special trip over to the Alamo and arranged to see the gun.  I was able to talk to the curator, Dr. Winders, who pointed out features like the set trigger and where it had been converted from flintlock to percussion.  It is built in the style called a Pennsylvania Long Rifle, which was common in the east at the time.  (Rifles got shorter in the west when they were carried on horseback more often.)  Based on the style, Dr. Winders thought it was likely from around 1830 and not from the War of 1812.  (Major Russell died in 1825 which is not too much of a stretch from 1830.)  The rifle does have an inscription added in 1839 which names it as Major Russell's old gun.  Interestingly, the Bean family was known for including several gunsmiths so it could possibly be a Bean Rifle.  I was able to hold the rifle and examine it.  It was quite interesting to hold something that belonged to my 6th-great grandfather.

As a curious aside, several items in the Alamo collection were donated by an English collector, none other than Phil Collins.  I went in his shop across the street that had a diorama of the Alamo and watched a sound and light presentation narrated by Phil.

It is unknown who Russell's parents were, or the name of his wife (possibly a Bean).  (This is not helped because there were several William Russells at the time who were active in the army.)




Major Russell is buried near Russellville in Denton Hollow Cemetery.  (This link has a picture of his original grave and the military marker added later.)


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Two Love Stories for Valentine's Day

As it is Valentine's Day I thought I would share a couple of love stories I ran across.  The first is from my own ancestry and was preserved by Nellie Grant Miller Sublett in the 1960's.

 My grandmother, Sophia Hendricks [Hinrichs originally] was born in Germany over 100 years ago [1836]. Her mother died when she was a little girl.  Her father married again soon after – a good woman in a way but she had never had any children of her own and didn’t understand that little girls in order to develop properly physically, mentally and spiritually should have lots of love and understanding.  All little Sophie’s new mother knew how to teach were obedience, manners and work, without the magic wand of love.  So little Sophie grew to girlhood missing her own mother’s love and close contact she had with her father before the new wife came into the picture.  Her three brothers, all older than she, married young. Sophie, a lovely blonde of about eighteen [born 12-28-1836], was invited to an evening of entertainment with lots of fun and dancing at a neighbor’s home two miles distance.  Sophie dressed for the party with unusual care.  One of her friends had enthusiastically confided that there was a handsome sailor that had stopped in the town with his company and that several of the sailors had been invited to the party.  She told her parents not to worry if she wasn’t at home by midnight; she was spending the night with a friend.
     The party was it’s height of gaiety with music and dancing.  The girls were vying with one another in showing the sailors a good time.  But Sophie was disappointed there was no sign of the tall handsome sailor her friend had spoken of.  The music stopped.  The merry makers were getting ready for refreshments.  The door opened and a tall, dark sailor entered the room.  The young lady who had invited the handsome strange began introducing him to her friends.  When Sophie was presented it seemed as if her heart was running away.  This was the man she had dreamed of meeting, and the sailor, well he lost no time in asking her for the next dance.  She didn’t have to spend the night with her friend, the sailor escorted her home.  This was the beginning of a beautiful courtship that climaxed with a wedding in a few short months. 
         The wedding took place in the little church [1858] where Sophie’s people had worshipped.  William Thomas August Rump [August Christian Wilhelm Rump] that was the sailor’s name and Sophie Hendricks now man and wife moved into a little home and like many other newlyweds before them began building dreams for the future.  Grandpappie (many years later we were taught to call him) was out of the navy now and began working at the carpenter’s trade.  Ten years pass . . . they were now the proud parents of three lovely children.  Joanna Louise, age nine years, who later became our mother, Frederic, age six years, and August, age three years.  They were beginning to realize a long cherished dream.  They were coming to America.  

August and Sophie Rump

And this story is not directly related to my family, but I ran across it when perusing the neighbors of the Rumps in 1870 Huntsville.  Just a few pages later on the census, I found Samuel Fordyce, a banker.  When I looked up his name, I found this story.

Samuel Fordyce was a Union officer who resigned from the army due to sickness.  Somehow he befriended a Confederate Captain Charles Mastin in Huntsville, who invited him to recover at his father's plantation.  There he met and fell in love with Sue Chaddick, who helped conceal him from capture.   Fordyce stayed in Huntsville, founded a bank, and became quite wealthy in the railroad industry.  He moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1873 and helped establish that town as a health resort.

I thought it was neat to run across a bona fide story of a Union officer who fell in love with a southern girl during the Civil War.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The bustling city of Huntsville in 1870

In researching the Rump(h) family, I noticed that lived in the city of Huntsville, Alabama in 1870, before moving to a farm in the nearby community of Big Cove by 1880.  This is of interest to me for a couple of reasons.  First, I work in Huntsville and live in a suburban area within a couple of miles of where they lived in Big Cove.  I was pretty surprised to find that my ancestors had lived so close to my current home before moving to my hometown of Tuscumbia.  Second, almost all of my ancestors were farmers, with several rural preachers scattered in.  Some of them were bona fide pioneers who rubbed shoulders with Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.  I have run across few living in an actual city, especially in the 1800's.

As I scanned their census neighbors for clues, I was surprised by how cosmopolitan 1870 Huntsville was in terms of the origin of its citizens.  Living here, I get a bit of a sense of how it was back then from historic buildings and old pictures and so forth.  I imagined a sleepy cotton town with a lot of families who had been here since the town's settlement in the early 1800's, or other people resettled from adjoining states.  But the census shows people from many states and countries.  Just the page that lists the Rumps and the two adjoining pages list several German families, and individuals from Ireland and France, as well as families from Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, in addition to the expected people from Alabama, Tennessee and other nearby states.  This area contained a mixture of whites and blacks, often in the same household, where the recently-freed blacks were working as cooks, nurses, or farm hands.

The list of professions is quite interesting, too.  Within a few pages we see: dry goods merchant, coach maker, general laborer, barkeeper (Apparently 18-year olds could have this job.), stone mason, dining room servant, many cooks, dress makers, a saddler, a confectioner (Mmmm!), several cotton merchants, a furniture merchant, hotel keepers, wash women, a minister, a music teacher, a life insurance agent, a printer (with apprentice and a pressman), seamstresses, a banker, an architect, an "editor and advocate", and a Daguerrian artist (photographer).  So it seems Huntsville had a surprisingly lively economy back then.


People in wagons outside a clothing store in Huntsville, Alabama, c. 1863-1865.
Credit: Alabama Dept. of Archives and History
They were living next to another German family named Otto.  Interestingly, they named their son born this same year Otto.  It seems likely he was named for this family.  Perhaps they even knew each other previously and that is the reason the Rumps came to Huntsville.  I am hoping I can track down this family's descendants and see if they know anything about how their family came to America.

The library had an 1870 city directory.  The Rumps had not yet arrived in America, but it has several of their neighbors.  A lot of them lived on the same block in 1860 as boarders, so perhaps it is the same place the Rumps lived.  (The census does not list street addresses.)  The location was the East side of Washington Street, between Clinton and Randolph, just off the courthouse square.  I went by there to snap some pictures and was told the current buildings date to the early 1900's.  Hopefully, I can find some historic pictures of that neighborhood from the late 1800's.
Washington St. today, with buildings from the early 1900's.

 

The wandering mariner, part 2

Joanna RUMP Miller
Lizzie RUMP Miller
Previously, I discussed the family stories about how August Christian Wilhelm Rump and his family came to America.  Census and ship registry records are consistent with the family stories, although I haven't been able to verify the story about him accidentally shooting the captain.  The Rump family moved to my hometown of Tuscumbia, and some of their descendants have lived in the area ever since.  However, a missing piece of the story involves what they did between their arrival in America in 1867-68 and their relocation to Tuscumbia.

Leroy and Lizzie RUMP Miller.
The family shows up in the 1870 census in the city of Huntsville, Alabama (where I now live), where August was working as a carpenter.  By 1880 they are farming nearby in Big Cove, then a small farming community.  (Coincidentally, they lived within a couple of miles of where I now live in the suburbs of Huntsville.)  I know they were in Tuscumbia by 1884 because they have a child buried there.

Children of Leroy and Lizzie Miller
listed in the family Bible.
I had the good fortune to run across some other Rump descendants on Ancestry.com, and it turns out some of their family still lives in Big Cove (aka Hampton Cove or Owens Cross Roads).  Through them, I was able to learn more about the Rump family.  The Rumps' oldest daughter, Joanna Louise, married a farmer named William Leroy "Lee" Miller, who owned land in Big Cove.  They had 8 children together.  In 1897, on her deathbed, Joanna reportedly asked her sister Elizabeth ("Lizzie") to take care of her children.  Lee Miller and Eliazabeth Rump married in 1898 and had 6 children.  The Miller descendants have their own stories that confirm some of the Coburn family stories.  It is exciting to make a connection with relatives that have been separated for generations and still have family stories in common.

The following story was related by Nellie Grant Miller Sublett in the 1960's.

    I have wished many times that in my wonderful talks with Grandmother [Sophie Hendricks Rump] I had asked her more about the trip and time spent on the ocean.  This much I do remember in the talks we had – they left their native Germany with sad hearts but with high hopes and dreams of America. 
     They were on the ocean many weeks and witnessed storms and sea sickness.  They settled in the state of New York and Grandfather began work as a carpenter.  The first year after they arrived another daughter was born.  They named her Elizabeth [born 1859].  Then Grandfather grew restless and they began making plans to journey further south. But before they could start, little Elizabeth became suddenly ill and when they left [New York] they left behind a baby’s newly made grave. 
     Traveling farther south each year they finally reached Alabama.  When Joanna was about seventeen years of age [born 2-16-1860] they reached Big Cove and lived there several years.  In the mean time they had been blessed with five more children; Johnny who died when he was fourteen, Otto died when he was eight, little Sophie died at the age of six, Annie Elizabeth [born 1872] who later became our stepmother was next to the youngest of the children, William Thomas being the youngest and at the time of this writing [1960’s] is living in Birmingham [Alabama] at the age of eighty years.

Lizzie and Joanna Rump.





Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Family Tree DNA

If you have done the Ancestry DNA test, you can transfer it to FamilyTreeDNA for a reduced price.  The transfer is actually free but you have to pay $39, or sign 4 other people up to unlock all the matches (It will show you your 20 closest but the functionality is limited.)  Anyway, I have had great success with the Ancestry DNA tests and I am looking forward to finding some matches on FTDNA as well.  I am one referral away from unlocking my Dad's test (Each person tested is a separate charge.) so if you have done the Ancestry test and have not used FTDNA, I'd appreciate it if you would use my referral link to do your transfer.  (You don't have to pay anything.)  Thanks in advance!

UPDATE: No referral links needed at this time. But I will need some shortly...

Family Tree offers a couple of specialized tests: Y-DNA (for males only) which strictly comes from your paternal line, and mitochondrial DNA (anyone), which comes from your maternal line only.  But their autosomal ("regular DNA") test is the same one Ancestry uses.


The wandering mariner

Ernest Paul Coburn (1895-1973)
 Myrtle Esther Rumph (1898-1971)
with my grandmother,
Flossie Coburn(1918-2002)
My great grandfather, Ernest Paul Coburn was a representative in the Alabama House for many years.  The Coburn (originally spelled Cockburn) family has maintained a tradition of military and public service for many generations, going back to Scottish settlers in the 1700's.  His wife's family are more recent arrivals from Germany and have an interesting and sometimes enigmatic history of their own.  (This is a very interesting family for me to research, since all my other immigrant ancestors that I have found so far arrived in the 1600's and 1700's, and almost all came from the British Isles.)

Fred and Ella Myhan Rumph
Paul Coburn's wife was Myrtle Esther Rumph, the son of Fred Rumph who arrived from Germany as a child.  Fred's parents were named August Christian Wilhelm Rump(h) and Sophie Hendrix.  August and Sophie are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in my hometown of Tuscumbia.  I did not know these people, but my grandmother and her siblings remembered Fred Rumph's generation, and had stories about August and Sophie.  However, these stories were not always consistent...
Fred Rumph 

August and Sophie Rump
in their later years
According to the story, August was a crewman or guard  on a ship.  Depending on who told the story, the captain was either stealing something, or testing the guards, and August shot and killed him, not knowing who it was.  Fearing for his life, he abandoned ship in America and wrote for his family to join him, which they did.


A younger August and Sophie Rump 
Now here is where family lore meets historical documentation.  In 1870 and 1880, the Rumps are found in Madison County, Alabama.  By 1900, they are living in Colbert County, where some of their descendants live to this day.  The 1900 census relates that August (A.C.W.) and Sophie (listed as Josie) arrived in this country separately in 1866 and 1867.  In 1870, August lists his profession as carpenter, which is certainly a useful job on a ship.  So these things are at least consistent with the story.  (Note for future research--their neighbors in 1870 come from a surprisingly diverse set of places, including New York, Germany, and Ireland.)

One final piece of the puzzle is found in the New York Passenger lists.  In 18 July, 1868, we find Sophie Rumpff, a 30 year-old from Oberhammelwarden, with her children John (8), Fred (5), and Auguste (2) arriving in New York on the ship America from Bremen and Southampton as second class passengers.   My Sophie's children at the time were Joanna (8), Fred (5), and August (10 months).  I believe this is the same family, but they erroneously recorded Johanna as John, perhaps due to difficulty understanding the accent, or transcribing a form improperly.  The ages match except August is off by a year, but that could be an error in his birthdate as later stated.


As an aside, they must have moved from the New York (in 1868) to Huntsville (in 1870) pretty quickly.  What would make an immigrant family, likely with language difficulties, move so far?  Did they have family or other connections in Alabama?  Was there a known German community in Huntsville?  Was more land available in the south?  This is soon after the Civil War--one would think that the Southern economy hadn't recovered much, but perhaps men (especially carpenters) were needed to help rebuild.  Or maybe land was cheaper here without a supply of free labor.  (One of my uncles thought that perhaps the whole immigrant story was made up to avoid being labeled a Yankee in Reconstruction-era Alabama.)


S.S. Weser
There are still further records to be found, however.  An August Rump, born 1831 in Leesum and living in Oberhammelwarden, is found on the Bremen sailor's registry on several occasions as a crewman on the Schwan and the Weser.  These ships traded with England, and at least once came to America.   Even better, he is listed as a ship's carpenter.  While the name August Rump is not that unusual, the birthplace being the small village listed in Sophie's arrival papers really cinches it and ties together the story.  One more detail of note, he was a sailor for the North German Lloyd company (still in business today as Hapag Lloyd AG), which owned the steamer America that Sophie arrived on.

This is not the end of the story, however.  In the next installment, I will tell even more of my discoveries about this immigrant family.
Rump Family. 

A Revolutionary War Ancestor and an Interesting Connection

Thanks to Ancestry DNA (referral link for 10% off here), I extended my McDougal line on my Paden side to the Vawter family, and to a Revolutionary War veteran with the great name of Allegany Vawter (1757-1843), sometimes spelled creatively as Alleygane Magwier.  (Hey, spelling was flexible back then!)  He was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, where he volunteered for service in the Revolution and was appointed orderly sergeant.  He served under Generals Gates and Lincoln.  According to his biography at findagrave.com (an amazing crowdsourced resource for genealogy), he was at the battles of Williamsburg (I can't find any information on this one), Hampton, and the decisive battle of Yorktown.  Afterwards he moved to Georgia and then Tennessee, where he lived for many years.  His pension papers are pretty long, I am going to have to try to transcribe what he said.  I did find quite an interesting person in his list of character references--Col. James K. Polk!  The future president lived in Columbia, Tennessee, in the same county as Allegany.
James K. Polk.  This is the first
photograph of a U.S. President.

Allegany McGuire married Sarah Holiday, giving one of his sons the even more amazing name of Holiday McGuire.

CHILDREN of ALLEGANY and SARAH are:
(1) Rhoda McGuire was born 16 Nov 1785; married John Lewis Vawter; died 28 Aug 1824 in Maury County, Tennessee.
(2) Mourning McGuire was born 20 Aug 1787.
(3) Nancy McGuire was born 3 Jun 1789.
(4) Cynthia McGuire was born 9 Feb 1791; married first, Richard Johnston Vawter and second, John Ray.
(5) Holiday McGuire was born 29 Dec 1792.
(6) Matilda McGuire was born 8 Oct 1794.

Looks like sisters Rhoda and Cynthia married brothers, a fairly common occurrence in the rural and frontier regions.