Category Archives: Genealogy

Genealogy Posts

Tennessee Traveling: DAY THREE


We took a small detour heading to Knoxville from Nashville and went to McMinnville (apparently we are in “Ville” ville.  Lots of …villes.)

McMinnville is where two of my Union Soldier ancestors were captured 3 October 1863 by the Confederate army.  They were James Wylie McCoy, my Grandmother’s paternal Grandfather and James Alexander Lowery, my Grandfathers maternal Grandfather.  So, in other words, the grandson of James Lowery married the granddaughter of James McCoy

I mistakenly told my cousin, that there were three but it was only two. The third Civil War ancestor was Charles Lovett but he did not serve with the two James, nor was he captured.  Charles Lovett’s daughter, Charlotte, married James McCoy.

Read about the two James’s Capture and Humiliation at McMinnville.  It was a one day affair and they were paroled.

Crossing Time Zones

About halfway between Crossville and Knoxville along I-40 the time zone changes from Central Time to Eastern Time.  My iPhone and the Garmin updated automatically.  My Dad’s watch needed setting AHEAD one hour; but I was driving.  So… I told him I would fix it tomorrow.  He does not know this, but I will do nothing to fix it. Heartless, you say?  Tomorrow it will be fixed, and no one will do a thing to the watch. How can this be, you say?   Tomorrow we “Fall off” Daylight Saving Time and his watch would have needed to be set BACK one hour.  So I do not have to do anything except wait.

A big thanks goes to Bill Hicks for letting me know we were going to cross the time zone.  I would not have the fun with my dad if not for his fun reminder.

Dinner with the Stills (Hey not my immediate family for a change!)

It was a great treat to see my Uncle Ross and his family…my cousins. Seeing how good they all look and hearing how well they are all doing, it was obvious who got all the good genes.  It was not us.

Chelsea, we missed meeting you and your and your husband.  If you ever make it to Colorado, please visit.  Megan would love to meet you I am sure.

They live near Knoxville, which I had not realized, nor that it was  along I-40, on the way to Greeneville.  Once they clued me in, we had to stop and I am glad we did.  Christi made us a great dinner, mom told a lot of stories and she even let my Uncle Ross tell a few as well.

He mentioned that my grandmother told him a story about three McCoy brothers coming from Ireland who separated upon arrival, never to meet again.  This is an interested new tidbit to work with, thanks Uncle Ross.

I have traced (with the help and work of other McCoy researchers) the McCoy line back to a William McCoy, born about 1763, in or near what is now Greene County, Tennessee.  Or so it is believed as I have not found a record to verify this.  If Uncle Ross’s story is correct, then his father is likely one of the Irish born McCoys. William did marry Lydia Harty in 1794, in Greene County.  Greene County was formed in 1783 from Washington County, North Carolina, so a record for William is likely in North Carolina.  Work to be done! This area was once part of the Lost State of Franklin and Tennessee became a state in 1796.

So tomorrow, we wake up and head for Greeneville.  On Monday, my Uncle Ross and Aunt Maggie will join us in Greeneville for the week. While I will lament, not having grown up with my cousins, I am very much going to enjoy this week of meeting and getting to know many close and distant relatives and discovering more of the Stills family story.

But tonight it is Sleepville.

Good Night.

Tennessee Traveling: DAY TWO

Stayed up too late tonight.  Had to do the Ghost Stories on Wikitree’s Google Hangout.

I had a nice dinner with Mom and Dad. The spaghetti at Sal’s was the best.  I missed lunch so either I was hungry or this was the best spaghetti I have had in quite some time.  And it was close by the hotel.

I missed lunch because I was at the Tennessee State Library and Archives today.  I made a peanut butter sandwich but forgot to bring it along.  The good news is that I found some stuff, the bad news is that it was not much and it came late in the day so I could not delve into more records.

[Enter the TSLA] : “Hello sir.  Welcome to the TSLA.  Have you been here before?”

[Me] :”No, it is my first time, I am looking forward to it.”

[TSLA]: “Oh, that’s great, where are you coming from?”

[Me]: “Colorado’

[TSLA]: “Oh, did you bring any ‘Pot’ ?”

[Me]: “Excuse me?!

[TSLA]: “Did you bring any ‘Pot’ ?”

[Me]: “Uh..No!’

(Thanks Colorado!, it appears we now have an unfortunate new reputation to deal with…The Mile “High” State has new meaning.)

I started with a newspaper search for the death of Smith Alexander Stills‘s mother Martha Smith.  This is probably my number one search priority.  I have a lot of circumstantial evidence that she is his mother but I have no direct documentation.   Martha died in Aug of 1881.  I found the Greeneville Herald had issues from abt 1879 to 1886.  Perfect right?!   Well they had July 1881 and they had September 1881.  But no August 1881!!  Ahhh….. a genealogists nightmare.

I found some info in the Will books but no new revelations.  I turned to the Land Deeds.  This is new for me and it was a bit more productive.  I turned up some nice info to fill in details but no new ancestors or new source info to support dates or locations.  But this came late in the day and I could not continue further.   I hope I can make it back to the TSLA again someday.   Once again proving that Genealogy is a game of patience  won in small increments.

Apparently cold air from the Arctic is passing through tonight and early tomorrow.  We head for Knoxville to see my cousin Jonathan and his family.   This trip must have been ordained because I did not know that Jonathan lived in Knoxville.  I had last seen him in Florida after he married his lovely wife Christi.  He has since had two great kids I have never met and one is now married!  So I will get to see him and his family and his parents, my Uncle Ross and Aunt Elizabeth.   Ross and Elizabeth are planning on joining us in Greeneville where my Dad and Ross were born.

Call me the Tennessee Time Traveler

So get this.  As I travel, tomorrow, Saturday Nov 1st, I will leave Nashville in the Central Time Zone and cross into the Eastern Time Zone by the time I get to Knoxville.  So I will need to set my clock ahead one hour.  But…when I get up the next day, Sunday, Nov 2nd, I have to set my clock BACK one hour since we are falling off Daylight Saving Time.  Tonight I Facetimed my wife, one hour behind me. Tomorrow I will Facetime her two hours behind me.  Sunday we will set our clocks back one hour.   If I talked to her at 7pm (CDT) today and talk to her again twenty four hours later on Sunday, it will be 7pm where I am (EST).  I will have traveled ahead one hour to set the clock back one hour.   Dr. Who ain’t got nothin on me….

Midnight, its tomorrow already.  Good night!

Tennessee Traveling: DAY ONE

Unnnghh…going to sleep now.  Long day.  Got up at 7:30am and took Dad to LabCorp for a blood draw, then to Denver International Airport to start our trip to Greeneville, Tennessee to see where my Dad grew up, meet my Uncle and his family, meet several new cousins and work in some Genealogy.  Yes, Mom came along too.

2.5 hour flight that went smooth.  We had help through the airports for Dad and Mom, found our baggage, found the rental car.   A Ford Expedition!  Maybe a little to big for them to climb in and out of but we wanted the space for adding cousins and other family as passengers.  30 Minutes to the Hotel.  Oh, Great… the GPS does not have the Tennessee map loaded only the lower southern states, but then why Colorado?  Switching to Siri. Wow is Nashville busy at 5PM!  Lots of traffic.  Found the Hotel, unpacked.  Started the 3 hour download of the Tenn. Map to the Garmin. Back in the SUV and off to Wal-mart for supplies for Mom and Dad.  Siri is going nuts!  Twice.  Get off the Hwy, make a U-Turn and get back on the Hwy going the same direction!  Why!!!.  Get some Dinner, TGI Fridays…eh.  Find Wal-mart. Grab supplies and pick up a Step Stool to help Dad get in the car with his bad hips.  Mom seems to be a little Monkey getting in the car, I’m impressed!  She is doing so well even though we know the Cancer is coming back.

Back at the Marriott Residence INN in Brentwood.  Reorganize stuff for tomorrow.   Going to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Turn off light.

Wish me good luck and good night!

Where are we Related?

Having played Genealogy for many years now, I have long since realized that we are all related. If you think about it, genetically speaking, the farther you go back in your family tree the more likely we are to find a connection. In the USA, if you have a Colonial Ancestor, your odds of connecting with another person who also has a Colonial Ancestor increases dramatically. I have found connections to Puritan ancestors of the Great Migration, many presidential ancestors, and 3 and 4 th cousins online and distant cousins here in Evergreen. It is a lot of fun and so, I say, ” I wonder WHERE we are related, not if we are related.”

I have been part of the Global Family Reunion project on Wikitree. If you care to learn more about the guy who started the ball rolling, visit AJ Jacobs website.

My Middle Namesake: Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon, Surgeon, War of 1812

The War of 1812 reportedly began the 18 of June 1812. “Reportedly” because I am waiting to attend a program at the Local Historical Society entitled “What Year Did the War of 1812 Start?” This overlooked war has a few surprises for folks when looked into, such as the birth of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key.

My primary interest war right now, however, is because of Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon, my 4th great grandfather.  I discovered him (like most of my ancestors) through family history research (genealogy).  He was unknown to my family until I discovered him.  As my mother’s mother’s father’s mother’s father’s father,  I hardly knew him, however we share a common middle name – Lee.

My daughter, Megan Lee Stills, shares our middle name.  My wife and I gave her that name after much compromise and discussion.  I wanted to name her Michael Lee Stills, Jr. but Tracey was having none of that!  Besides, she wanted to give our daughter an Irish name in honor of her heritage.  I saw the name Megan after watching some movie credits and we quickly settled on Megan Lee Stills.  Yes, we have great family naming traditions. On the night of her birth we briefly considered Megan Noel Stills because she was born on Christmas Eve but Megan Lee Stills was enough Irish for Tracey and Megan and I get to share the initials MLS.  My mother is also MLS, middle name Louise however.

I received the middle name Lee after my Mother’s brother,  Nelson Lee Culp or Uncle Bud as I knew him. Interestingly, Nelson was their mother’s maiden name and follows a common naming tradition of using the mother’s maiden name as a child’s first name.  For example, Kal-el known to many as Superman was given the name Clark Kent, his surname  from his adopting father Jonathan Kent and Clark from his mother Martha Clark. But where did Uncle Bud get his middle name?

Thus far, searching the family tree,  I have found no other relatives in this family line with the middle name of Lee until we reach Dr. Sheldon.  Uncle Bud’s mother, my Grandmother was Hazel Evangeline Nelson and Dr. Sheldon was her Great Grandfather. Unfortunately this does not support a tradition of sharing of the middle name Lee. So, like the War of 1812 he has a few surprises when looked into.

Dr. Sheldon moved to Warsaw, NY with his wife in 1908, not long after when the town of Warsaw was established.  He was the town’s first Physician and first Post Master, he also served as Justice of the Peace, and Town Clerk where he processed many Revolutionary War Pensions for his fellow citizens who served. He started a Drug Store and helped start a Library.  Some how he found time to father thirteen children and be very active in his local Presbyterian Church as a Mason and serving as the Society Clerk.

Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon served as a Surgeon and Surgeon’s Mate during the War of 1812.  What that meant, I hope to learn at the Historial Society’s program. Much of what I have uncovered can be found in the book, “History of the town of Warsaw, New York, from its first settlement to the present time; (1869).” He was 29 during the war and already had fathered eight children.  Three would die by the time the war started. He accomplished a lot during his short but remarkable life and it is no wonder why the town of Warsaw considered him a “popular” man.  Ironically, he himself died at the young age of 45 in 1828 from an unknown illness.