Week 11 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Lucky or Blessed

I don’t recall anyone in my family named Lucky or, for that matter, anyone that was particularly lucky.  However, I can think of dozens of people who were and are hard-working, honest, salt-of-the-earth folks.

I was fortunate enough to have loving and supportive parents who always believed in and encouraged me.  I have sisters that are funny, compassionate, selfless people who are always willing to help someone in need.  I was blessed to have an older brother who had an amazing sense of humor, he was buried wearing Groucho Marx glasses because he just had to make us laugh one last time.  He had an imagination and talent for innovation that wouldn’t quit and a love for “his girls” that was all encompassing.

I “inherited” children and grandchildren when I married my husband and couldn’t love them more.  They’ve given me such joy over the last 22 years.  The many strands that make up the fabric of my family, both past and present, create a tapestry of love and blessings.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Over the 40+ years that I have been researching my family I have been what some might call lucky, I prefer to think of it as working hard, asking questions, and a good instinct for where to look for  information.  I have innumerable treasures that have been entrusted to my care by family all over the U. S.  My belief is that if you love the people you are researching, that love is rewarded.

Whether through luck, fate, chance, odds, or divine intervention, I’ve found long lost family and family we never knew existed.  The most special discovery of all was that of my cousin, MJ and her Daddy, George.

George Hooker Deer
James Coleman Black

Through DNA testing I discovered the older brother we never knew my Daddy had.  What a wonderful discovery that was! How exciting it was to see pictures of my Uncle George and see my Daddy smiling back at me.  I only wish I’d found him sooner but we believe that Uncle George was waiting to greet his little brother when Daddy passed away a month after making this joyous discovery.

So, while some may think that successful genealogy research consists of luck, I believe it really comes down to love, patience, and being blessed.


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 10 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Strong Woman – My Momma

“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It is nearly impossible to choose one woman in my family to write about when you are referring to a strong woman.  I come from many women of strength and courage.

My Momma, was raised by her widowed mother in the 1930s.  Her childhood shaped her in many ways but one of the things that stands out most in my mind is her will.  I’ve seen Momma literally “will” things to happen where her family was involved.  Momma was a single mother of three in the 50s, this created a bond, a dynamic between her and her three oldest children that went deeper than any other relationship I’ve ever witnessed.  I was her baby and as such, I got away with more than the older kids.  When I was about 12, she and Daddy went to Hawaii, when I was 39 Momma passed away and we discovered the letters she had written to each of us.  Even in death, Momma found a way to make sure her babies knew we were loved and in her typical style, she had also given each of us instructions as to what she expected for and from us.

She loved her children with her whole heart and wanted us to have better lives than she had.  It was important to her that we be children as long as possible because “adult life” came way too soon.  She made sure we got to sleep late in Summer, read every chance we got, play and just be kids.  Momma was determined that each of us would be able to stand on our own feet if anything happened to her and that we knew and believed that we could do anything or be anything we wanted, we just had to work for it.  She often said that she thought she might have gone a little overboard in the self-confidence area where my brother and I were concerned.  No matter what was going on in her life, her children and grandchildren were her treasures on earth and the most dangerous thing anyone could do was to hurt one of her babies.

I remember always knowing that Momma was there for me, no matter what I needed or what was going on in my life.  She was a literal “force to be reckoned with” when it came to her family.  Momma’s children respected her and loved her and we each knew that we were her greatest pleasure in her earthly life.  Momma prayed over us daily and she believed, without a doubt that God would always take care of us because He had promised her He would.  She was a fierce defender of each of us and the foundation upon which we have built our lives.

While I could have chosen any  number of women in my family to write about this week, there was never really another choice.  Momma was the anchor in our lives, the calm in the storm, the sweetness of love in it’s purest form, a mother’s love for her children.


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 9 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Where There’s A Will, There’s A Codicil

     “Where there’s a will, there are 500 relatives…..”

The Will of Giles Driver, Jr. offers a window into the dynamic of his family. Giles is very detailed in how he disposes of his estate, in some cases right down to the penny. He was specific regarding the circumstances surrounding who received what and the conditions that had to be met to receive the inheritance.  Two notes here – this is not an exact transcription as far as spelling and there are a few words that I couldn’t make out, thus the blanks. Where you see bold text, I have added information for clarification.

Will of Giles Driver, Jr
Click to Enlarge

Pike County, Georgia – Record of Wills, Volume C-D, 1844-1912, Page 492

19 July 1869

In the name of God Amen.  I Giles Driver of said State and County being of advanced age and knowing that I myself must shortly depart from this life, deem it right and proper, both as respects myself and family, that I should make a disposition of the property with which a kind Providence has blessed me. I therefore make this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and annulling all others made by me heretofore.

Item 1st – I desire that my body be buried in a decent and Christian like manner, suitable to my circumstance and condition, but nothing unnecessary about it. My soul I hope and trust shall return to rest with God who gave it, as I hope for eternal Salvation through the blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Item 2nd – I desire and direct that all my just debts be paid by my Executors hereinafter named.

Item 3rd – I have given to my daughter Sarah R who intermarried with Charles B Hubble one thousand and thirty five dollars in cash, she leaving no child at her death my wish is for said Hubble to have no more interest in my estate whatever.

Item 4th – My wish and desire is for my youngest son Charles G to have one hundred dollars extra and more than the balance of my children this difference is made because he has not received his due proportion of education.

Item 5th – I give and bequeath to my wife, Mary, all the property that she was possessed of at the time of our marriage, to do with as she may think proper at her death. I also desire that three hundred dollars be laid out in hand of which she is to have full control during her natural life or widowhood but at her death or marriage for the lands to return to my estate and to be equally divided among my children or their children as the case may then be.

At this point in the will is a note “See Marriage Contract”. The placement is such that I don’t know if he is referring to his third wife, Mary M Carson, or to his son, Julius W, who is the subject of Item 6.

Item 6th – I throw (?) this restriction and qualification around the property or effects that may fall to my son Julius W, that is, it is not to be subject to any of his debts or contracts now made or hereafter made, but he is to use it for his support and benefit and that of his family and at his death to be equally divided among his children but his present wife and the Serepta Ann Rebecca Reeves wife neither of them is to have any interest in my estate or its increase whatever at the death of my son Julius W Driver I make this difference because he is divorced from the Reeves wife and I understand that the father of his present wife Sarah E Hogan intends to make a similar will.

Item 7th – My will and desire is for my Grandson Giles L Driver and my grand daughter Sarah F Driver (children of Julius W Driver and his 1st wife, Frances Jane Ussery) each to have one hundred dollars to be retained in the hands of my executors until these children become of age or marry. These amounts to be retained out of the portion falling to their Father.

Item 8th  – If any of my children die before or after me and have a child or children such child or children to draw their parents interest in my estate under this will.

Item 9th – I hereby put this condition and qualification upon the property or its effects that may be received by each of my children (to wit) if any of them die and leave no living or posthumous child then the property or its effects falling to such child to return to my estate and to be equally divided among all my children or their children as the case may there be in the manner herein specified for division observing the restrictions and qualifications in this will

Item 10th – My wish and desire is that each of my children that have not had a bed bedstead and furniture to have one after paying off all my just debts for each child to draw an equal share of my estate both real and personal, not counting (?) any old debts against any of them, observing the restrictions, qualifications and differences in this will

Item 11th – I have given my two sons Julius W and Robert P each a mule and each mule valued at one hundred and forty one dollars, sixty six cents, each of them have an extra cow which must be valued. I also paid Doyal & Nunnally fifty eight dollars for Julius ___ for cotton, twenty one dollars _____ due for that Thirty seven dollars these amounts I want counted against them without interest

Item 12th – I constitute and appoint my two sons Alonzo C Driver and James L Driver my lawful

Executors to this my last Will and Testament this 19 July 1869

Giles added a codicil that included the following –

First – Whereas I have understood that my son Julius W Driver intends to claim some property that he was in possession of at the time when he broke up house keeping and separated from his second wife Serepta Ann Rebecca Reeves and whereas I feel satisfied that I have fully compensated him for said property. Now if he claims said property and continues to contend for it then I want the five hundred dollars that I handed him when he started out to California counted against him without interest but if he relinquishes his claim to said property I want the will to be carried out without this codicil so far as he is concerned

Second – In lieu of the one hundred dollars mentioned in the fourth Item of my will to my youngest Charles G my wish is to alter it to Two hundred and twenty five dollars

Third – I also want my son James L to have two hundred and twenty five dollars These last two Items they are to have before there is any division made

Fourth – I want my wife Mary M Carson to have the bedstead and mattress that we lie on in lieu of her bedstead that she sold when she came here

Fifth – There is due from A C Driver Two hundred and twenty five dollars for his mare without interest

Sixth – My wish and desire is for the portion falling to my daughter Synthia E Pryor for her and her husband to have the use and benefits of the proceeds of the property but her present or future husband not to be allowed to trade off any of the property neither to be subject to any of his debts or contracts now or hereafter made the said property is to be exclusively for my daughter Synthia E and her children

Seventh – This I think will make my children as near equal as I can fix it


Whispers from the Past……

Week 8 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Heirloom – Baby Days


A few years ago I came across an item I didn’t even realize I had.  Forty-plus years of research will do that to you.  I found my Momma’s Baby Book.  Mary Ruth Grantham was born 11 Apr 1927, she would have been 91 this year.

I was so excited to find this little treasure.  I never in a million years would have thought it existed.  Inside the worn cover I found such treasures.

Her first word was Daddy when she was six months old.  Her daddy died a few months before her fourth birthday.  My favorite entry for her First Words were “Blates like a sheep at 10 months”.  Her daddy raised award winning sheep and all her life she missed him.  Momma had an older sister, Norma and one of my favorite pictures is of them together.  Momma was such a little butterball.  She always had the sweetest smile.

Norma Louise & Mary Ruth Grantham

My grandma was an interesting woman.  She was widowed at the age of 28 with two little girls.  She raised them through the Great Depression with the help of her family.  I’ve often wondered how those events shaped her as a mother.  I never would have dreamed she would have kept a record of my Momma’s milestones as a baby but I was even more surprised to find a tracing of Momma’s hand.





Whispers from the Past…..

Week 7 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Valentine – The Key to My Heart

My husband gave me the first of many heart shaped pieces of jewelry 22 years ago.  A simple sterling heart necklace that I wore constantly until about a year ago.  I finally retired it to my jewelry box when the chain had quite literally sawed through the bail.  Through the years, that little heart has entertained my grandbabies and my “Three Little Es”, great-nephews and great-niece, Eli, Ean, and Eliza.

My granddaughter has tried to talk me out of that little heart for more years than I can remember.  I can’t count the times she’s told me that she wanted my heart ‘neckalass’.  Of course Grandpa and Grandma have bought her several heart ‘neckalasses’ over the years but she still wants mine.  My babies have played with that little heart, they’ve teethed on it, they’ve held it while they sleep.

I reluctantly replaced it with another heart, this one has a tiny key-hole and key.  Naturally, the kiddos, especially the two youngest, want to try to fit the key in the lock.  Whether a design flaw or by intent, that key doesn’t fit.  Kids being kids, they don’t give up and they always ask, “Why doesn’t the key fit?”  I tell them, “Only the one who holds my heart can fit the key into the lock.”

Children are amazing little creatures, I love watching their minds work and figure things out.

The 3 Little Es – Eli, Ean & Eliza

Before long, Eliza discovered a way to fit the key into the lock and soon they all had figured it out.  While the little heart and key are symbols of the love shared by me and my husband and by my babies and me, it was brought home to me this Valentine’s Day how much we as adults influence and impress children.

Valentine’s Day, a small box appeared on my desk.  It’s appropriate that the box had a “lock” on it and that inside was this simple message from the “Three Little Es” –  “You Hold The Key To My Heart”…..


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 6 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Favorite Name – Weltha Josephine Owen Driver

“A name, of course is like a piece of clothing, isn’t it?  It gives you an impression right away.”  James Salter

Weltha Josephine Owen Driver

I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Weltha Josephine Owen Driver.  She was born 30 Sep 1851 in Alabama and passed away 17 Sep 1932 in Graham, Texas, 30 years before I was born.  Wealthy, as she was know to her family, was the oldest daughter of Albert Owen and Martha Collinsworth.

She appears in the census as “Wittly”, “Wilsy”, “Weltha” and “Wealthy”.  She was married to John Allen Driver on March 22, 1869 in the tiny community of Etoile in Nacogdoches County, Texas at the home of her parents.

I always thought she had the most interesting name, I mean who names their daughter Wealthy and why?  There are 229 names that mean Wealthy however, I could never find the meaning of the name Wealthy.  Eventually I did find out that her great-grandmother was named Wealthy so finally I knew “why”.

In 1875, Weltha, John and their sons, Albert and Henry migrated from Long Creek, near Weatherford, Texas to Young County. While laying in supplies for the trip, John saw some dress material in a store in Weatherford and bought a length for Weltha.

She was so proud of the new dress she made from that material, and even more pleased because John had taken the time to pick it out for her. Shortly after they began the trip to their new home, little Henry became ill and John and Weltha would take turn about carrying him as they walked along side the wagon. One night after making camp it began to rain. Weltha wanted to keep the cool air off Henry so she drew the wagon sheet up tight and hung her new dress up to block any air from coming in. In the morning, Weltha was heartbroken to find that during the night the cow had chewed her new dress.

I have often wondered if being named Wealthy or the incident with the cow influenced her personality.  She was very “frugal”.  Even though they were “well off” for the time, she would wear a dress until it was so worn out her daughter-in-law would intentionally get it hung in the washer ringer and would then tear the dress apart so Wealthy would have to start wearing a new dress.


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 5 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – In the Census – Wiley Green Boman & How He Got His Name

Back Row: Minerva Boman, George Riddle, Ida Boman, Mattie Boman Front Row: Violet Boman. Rob Boman, Louis Boman with Walter Boman, Elizabeth Riddle Boman with Wiley Boman, Cora Boman – Julie had already passed, Mary, Elbert, Celeste, and Bessie had not been born. Photo would be between August 1903 and early 1904. Prior to their move to Texas from Alabama.

Since 1996, I’ve theorized about why my husband’s Uncle Wiley had the middle name Green.  Was it a family name?   Maybe it was a place name?  If it was a family name, whose family was it from?  For years, we played this guessing game and never got any closer to solving this little mystery.

Part of the problem with Uncle Wiley’s name was that the Boman family was a little difficult to track down.  One reason is because there was no consistency in the spelling of the names and they kept moving back and forth across the Alabama/Tennessee border.  My husband thinks they were probably moonshiners, but that’s another story.

This past fall, I was talking to Uncle Wiley’s daughter-in-law and she told me that she had always heard he was named after a neighbor.  I have to say that I had seriously dropped the ball in this case.  I know that you always need to take a look at the other people on the census, well, I hadn’t done that.   Sure enough, in the 1900 Marshall County, Alabama Census, there was Uncle Wiley and his family lived next door to Green Butler and his family, including a son named Wiley in the Kennamer Community.

While I haven’t figured out if there is any connection, other than being neighbors, between Green and Wylie Butler and Uncle Wylie Green Boman, I did notice a few things.

  • Green Butler was born 28 Mar 1867 in Alabama and had a younger brother named, Wylie
  • Louis Jackson Boman, Uncle Wylie’s father, was born 22 Oct 1864 in Alabama
  • In 1870 they were both living in Jackson County, Alabama, Green in Woodville, Louis in Scottsboro – 30 miles apart
  • In 1880, Green Butler is living in Woodville, Jackson, Alabama with his widowed mother, younger brother, Wylie, and other siblings
  • Louis Jackson Boman and family are MIA – UPDATE a cousin found Louis and his siblings living in Kennamer, Marshall, Texas.  His mother, Mary, had remarried to Alexander Parker and the Boman children are also listed under the name Parker
  • 1887 – Robert Washington Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
  • 1889 – Minerva Jane Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
  • 1890 – Julie Boman is born and died in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
  • 1892 – Mattie Elizabeth Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
  • 1893 – Cora Elizabeth Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
  • 1900 is where I found the two families living as neighbors in the Kennamer Community
  • In 1910, Green Butler is still living in Woodville, Jackson, Alabama, his son, Wylie Butler is married and living in Kennamer, Marshall, Alabama
  • Louis Jackson Boman and family, including, 7 year old Uncle Wiley, are now living in Wood County, Texas near the Kennamer family that they migrated to Texas with

Oh yeah, did I mention that Green Butler married Delilah Kennamer after his first wife died?

So while the mystery of why Uncle Wylie Boman’s middle name was Green is solved, it has left me with a laundry list of new questions surrounding him and his family.


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 4 – 52 Ancestor Challenge – Invite to Dinner

Around my house, dinner is the noon or mid-day meal.  While what you call a particular mealtime isn’t overly important, in this instance it is.

It seems like every Sunday after church, every birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many times in between, all of our family would gather at Momma’s house for dinner.  Some weeks Momma fried chickens other times it was roast.  There was always mashed potatoes and gravy and sometimes she would fix “Pineapple Salad” which consisted of a lettuce leaf with a slice of pineapple on it and a dollop of miracle whip in the hole of the pineapple ring.  I always told her she was messing up three good things by combining them and fortunately she didn’t make me eat it.  There was always sweet tea to drink, she fixed it in an old crock pitcher that belonged to her grandma.  When Momma died, her oldest grandson said that he wished he could have one more glass of Grandma’s sweet tea.

My older sister, Becky, and I both liked the chicken’s liver and each time Momma fried chicken, she and I would have to share it.  My oldest nephew, Tom, and I would pull the pully-bone or wishbone, as some people call it and every time, he would get the short end. This was always a guaranteed argument because it meant he would get married first and I am eight years older than him.  Most weeks we’d have homemade banana puddin’ for dessert.  Momma never made it pretty, but it was certainly delicious.  To this day my niece will only eat it while it’s still hot because that was how Grandma fixed it.  Other times she would fix chocolate puddin’ and before she beat the meringue into it, she’d always take a bowl out for my daddy because he didn’t like “calf slobbers”.

Bubba’s 22nd Birthday

We were a big and boisterous group, often there were 15 of us and we’d pull the table apart and add the extra leaves and then everyone would squeeze in.  It always seemed like everyone was talking at once yet we knew what was going on in each conversation. Momma didn’t believe that children should be seen and not heard.

After everyone was full and the kitchen was cleaned up, Momma and Daddy would go into the living room and take a nap  in their chairs.  The grandkids would head outside to run and play.   The adults would congregate in the dining room and play board games like Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble.  There was always a lot of laughing and joking and often we would end up in hysterics because Momma and Daddy would be in the next room trying to out snore each other.

Times were so much simpler, kids played outside, the adults sat around and visited and played games, no one was glued to their cell phone or computer.

I would love to be able to go back for just one Sunday afternoon.

Banana Puddin’

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs Flour
  • 2 Cups of Milk
  • 2 Egg Yolks – beaten
  • Butter
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Bananas & Vanilla Wafers


  • Whisk sugar and flour together
  • Stir in milk until smooth
  • Stir in beaten egg yolks
  • Add butter – about the size of an extra-large egg
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened
  • Stir in a splash of vanilla extract
  • In a large bowl alternate layers of vanilla wafers and sliced bananas (we prefer more cookies than bananas
  • Pour hot puddin’ over the cookies and bananas (Momma always poked a large spoon down through them to mix the puddin’ in good, like I said, it’s not a pretty dessert

Double or triple recipe as needed

Add 3 Tbs of Cocoa powder if you prefer Chocolate Puddin’, Momma would make meringue (calf slobbers) out of the egg whites and then beat it into the chocolate puddin’


Whispers from the Past…..

Week 3 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Longevity – A Long & Winding Road

Definition of Longevity

1  a : a long duration of individual life

    b : length of life

2 : long continuance : permanence, durability 

At some time during the 1980s, I was visiting with a cousin by phone.  Madolyn was somewhat of a legend, a living History and Genealogy of the Williamson and Burnet County, Texas areas.  She could pull info out of her memory like you would a computer.  It turned out that Madolyn had rescued dozens of documents that were scheduled to be destroyed.

During the course of our conversation, Madolyn told me that she had several marriage licenses that I would be interested in.  She named off some aunts and uncles and then mentioned my great-great-grandparents, Eb Smith and Sarah Jane Carroll.  Naturally I wanted copies and asked if I paid for the copies, would she be able to make and  send them to me. she would send them to me.

When the mail arrived a couple of days later, I was excited to see an envelope from Madolyn.  I had never once imagined what I would find in that package.  There, among the original marriage licenses of several of my maternal great-great-aunts and uncles, was the handwritten license of Eb & Sarah Jane Smith and a note from Madolyn saying, “I kept this safe until I found the right person to give it to.”

Eb & Sarah Smith

On December 20, 1860, Ebenezer Smith married Sarah Jane Carroll, he was 20, she was 16.  They were married for 26 years before she passed away.  They had 17 children including a three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets, who were born in 1876.  Sarah was preceded in death by seven of her children.

I can’t imagine how difficult their lives were.  I’ve often heard people say that “things were different back then” or that “death was just a part of living”.

At 157 years old, this document is the oldest original document I possess.  To say it is prized, is an understatement.  To me, this simple, piece of paper symbolizes a family, a father born in 1840, a mother born in 1844, a joining together in 1860 that resulted in a family that lived, loved, and died with their youngest daughter in 1967.  How many families can claim to have spanned 127 years within the original family unit?

When I think of Sarah and Eb, I always think of how this family treasure came into my hands.  From a courthouse in 1860 to a lover of History in the 1900s to a woman who had gazed at the faces of her great-great-grandparents while listening to their granddaughter, my grandmother, tell about their lives.  I look at this simple piece of paper and I am reminded of the countless number who have come before me and those who are yet to be born.  They are why I travel the road I do, they are why I am who I am. #52ancestors

That which is not written is lost forever…..

Whispers from the Past…..

Week 2 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Favorite Photo

Sarah Jane Carroll 1844-1885

When I saw what the prompt was for week two, I had a small panic attack. “How in the world am I going to choose a favorite photo?”

Now, normally that might not be a big deal but, having recently added several thousand photos to my collection….. well, you get the problem.

Fortunately, a cousin made this decision fairly easy for me. Recently I received a message asking if I knew who was in a picture she’d come across while scanning lots of family photos to share.  I hate to say that I forgot to answer her, but I did. We were out of town and when we got home first one thing and then another came up. Two weeks later she reminded me about the picture and I determined to stop right then and figure this out. I knew the woman looked familiar but I had never seen this particular photo.

After asking some questions about where she found the photo and if there was anything on the back, the light came on. I immediately pulled up a picture along with the one she was inquiring about and started doing semi transparent overlays.  Perfect match.

Nancy Boultinghouse Carroll Letter
Murder of Daniel Carroll

Sarah Jane Carroll, my maternal great-great-grandmother, was born in 1844 in Scott County, Arkansas to Nancy Boultinghouse and Daniel Carroll, she was the oldest of their four children.  When Sarah Jane was only six, her daddy was murdered in Scott County. She, her momma, and siblings, moved to Williamson County, Texas, following her grandfather and other family members.  At the early age of 16, Sarah Jane married Ebenezer Smith and they had 17 children including three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets. It should come as no surprise that she passed away at the age of 41 when her youngest daughter, Louise, was only two.

For over 55 years, I’ve known her face, I always thought that she had such a serene look about her.  Her portrait and that of her husband, Eb, hung in my grandmother’s home until they were passed to me. It was such a pleasant surprise to find that 50 years after her death, we could finally see her face as she looked shortly before she died.

I had often wondered if after giving birth to 17 children and burying seven of them, she would look old beyond her years, somehow haggard.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the serenity of her youth was still present in her eyes. #52ancestors

Whispers from the Past…..