Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Banjoes Are Calling Me....

Last week I experienced a flurry of genealogy activity.
The week before while noodling around on the interweb I found a library in Lynchburg, VA that has a wealth of genealogical information.
It's called the Jones Memorial Library.
They specialize in local history and genealogy.
Among their holdings are a large amount of local newspaper obituaries.

So I started poking around and came up with quite a few of my ancestors who had been brick walls for me.
I sent away for 8 obituaries at a cost of $80($10 per)......oh how I wish I knew someone locally who could have copied these documents for me cheaper!
This documenting family can get expensive ya know......

Anyway, they arrived very quickly via 1st class mail last week into my hot little hands.

All of the obits were informative and 1 answered a question my brother and I had talked about when he was here for the graduation, as we reminisced about long dead relatives.

The folks in question here are my maternal grandfather's family(my mother's father's side of the family) and/or folks who married into this family.
They lived in the central part of Virginia.  Yes, my mother's mother's family back during the depression was The Waltons, only a little further south....

My grandfather, Wirt Ross Harper, was the oldest son of Robert William Harper and Jennie Vie Tucker Harper of Campbell County, VA.  Wirt had 5 brothers and 2 sisters(in chronological order they were Ollie, Wirt, Royal, Lillie Vie, Robert, Raymond, Ernest and Tucker).
They were all born between 1907 and 1924.
Unfortunately I don't have a group photograph of all of this family.

The most important information I gained from finding these obit listings online was it narrowed down some folks death dates to within a few days for me, even if I didn't send for the obit itself, which also listed the day of the actual death and not just the day it was published in the newspaper.

One of the brothers I had the least information on was Royal.  He died when I was 4 so I don't remember him at all. His obit pegged his birth year(as it gave his age at his death....he was 49).
It also told me that he had been a veteran(as he died in a veteran's hospital), he had been married(listed his widows name, including maiden name), and where he was buried.
What it didn't mention was also telling surviving children, meaning he was childless when he passed. 
I went to put his information into my family tree on Ancestry and found a new piece of info. there-the application for a veteran's grave marker filled out by his widow in 1963.  This confirmed the military service too.

Now I have done an exhaustive search on Find A Grave for this family line over the past year, and I have never turned up a memorial/known burial plot for Royal in any of the cemeteries my other Harpers are known to be planted in. 
The obit gave me that he was buried in Smith Cemetery, which I assumed to be near Brookneal, VA, where most of this family group lived.
But a search on F.A.G. came up with no such cemetery.

A few days later I found the Campbell County Historical Societies Website.  They have a Project to find the "Lost Cemeteries" in the county and I found the Smith Family Cemetery listed as one of these MIA burying grounds listed there.
I also went onto F.A.G.(aka Find A Grave) and put up a memorial for Royal there and requested a photo from a local volunteer.  I did explain in a note with the request about the issue with where the cemetery was located.  There are 75 local photo volunteers and I am hoping one of them has a clue where this cemetery is or can ask someone locally they know, where to find it.
Cross your fingers for me!

This week's free time has been spent tracking down whether my mother's side of the family dearly departed are listed on F.A.G. or not, and if so, to request that their memorials be transferred to my care so I can link them all up and post more details or photos of them on the site.  So far I have 14 Baker/Vassar/Tucker/Harper/Foster/ ancestors under my wing now.  
I am having a devil of a time getting my grandparents out from the grasp of one F.A.G. contributor.  He does NOT respond to emails or his public messages or memorial suggestions/edits.  I've been trying to get these grands for months now and I will turn this over to the admin on the site very soon.  I suspect the contributor may be dead or infirmed and no longer active.  Why else would he ignore me?  If it comes down to a pissing contest, they are MY grandparents and not mother was an only child so besides my brother, I am the closest living relative, and F.A.G. gives precedence to the closet relative for ancestors within 4 generations.

I would like to take a trip down to Virginia this summer to do some genealogical research at the Campbell Co. Historical Society/Public Library.  I see that they have TONS of research available on site to comb through.  I am at the stage of the game now that online census reports and such have been exhausted and I need official certificates and wills books and old newspaper microfiche now to continue the search.  Plus I'd love to go visit some graveyards in the area too and pay my respects.

I heard that one of my mother's cousin's wife is the unofficial Baker/Vassar family historian in that area, who has photos and such that I don't have and might have some written down stories.  I'd love to get together with her, as well as the cousin of my mother on her father's side who still lives in the area for additional information on the Harper/Tucker lines.

Maybe I'll take #2 Son on a roadtrip once school is out in just over a week.  He can help with the driving now and be my legs when mine wear out.  Oh, I KNOW the thought of spending time with me, a library and cemeteries will thrill him to no end......but if I keep him full of pizza and crap and let him sleep to 2pm, he might not complain too much.  lol

Anybody out there live in South Central VA((Farmville, Lynchburg, Appomattox areas) and want a house guest sometime next month?? 8-)



  1. I have a "cousin" that collects information for free and then sells it on disc. I will not give him my gggrandparents photo/portrait, the only one that exists. I will, however, copy to discs and give them away! He can afford to compile the material and give them away or sell for less than $15.

    For years, everyone has wondered where my gggrandfather was buried. I own a letter my mother wrote, telling exactly the location. However, everyone else had the information, just never looked at the location until I pointed it out. My cousin's widow has two file cabinets full of genealogy that my cousin, actually Mama's cousin, researched and compiled. She adamantly refuses to give anyone even a clue! Genealogy "ownership" is so complicated. I had been grooming a relationship with her but let that fall by the wayside. RATS

    Seeing your relatives, the Waltons, reminded me--I do believe I am somehow related to Andy Griffith. My ancestors were from the same little area, AND the ears and facial bones are the same. The looks are uncanny. I have some first cousins on Mama's side that look still like him. Thankfully, the ears were not passed on to my mother. I won't press the

    Do you ever find any stories that were scandalous back when it happened? I know you told one story.

  2. So did your people come from Manteo Island, NC like Andy's?
    You should let me trace your ancestry back past your 3 x great grands.

    I have found many cases of bastardy(including the court cases of my sis in-laws ancestors, a murder/suicide, bigamy, founding fathers of towns, a governor, rev. war soldiers, mysterious death and running from the law, a brush with infamy too, as well as the requisite slave owning that comes with early American life both in the North and South.
    Nothing really wild yet. I fear my people were mostly boring, hardworking dirt farmers. lol

  3. One of my female relatives three generations back, I think, ran away with her three small daughter and took up with some guy. She and her daughters were killed when she could not control a runaway wagon. Mine were boring too, but every once in awhile, something scandalous appears. My gggrandfather was sought far and wide when the Civil War ended. He had to leave the state and went to AR. We thought so. However, he died, was buried and his wife and sons left.

  4. Wow. The plot thickens. Hope your son will accept the bribe. I know I would! Can't say no to free pizza for a few hours' worth of work.

  5. Cool and interesting stuff!!! But you need a cheaper hobby... like sewing!


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