Thomas Jefferson Walling (1811-1902) was born in White County, Tennessee to John Walling, Sr and Ann Chisum. In 1832, he married his first wife, Nancy Ann Price, they had nine children. TJ and Nancy migrated through Mississippi and Arkansas before settling in Nacogdoches, Texas near his brothers, John and Jesse, in 1836. It was there that T J took the Oath of Allegiance to the Texas Republic and took part in the Texas Revolution with Captain Peck’s regiment.
In 1841 TJ claimed land near Henderson, Texas in Rusk County and he and Nancy built a one room log cabin measuring 20 by 19 feet, about 10 miles Northeast of Henderson, Texas. The cabin was built from hand-hewn pine timber joined at the corners by square notches and typical of many pioneer farm homes in the area. It is the only such structure known to survive from the era of the Republic of Texas in Rusk County.
When Nancy passed away in 1854, TJ married Eleanor Stone Hardy in 1855. They continued to live in the little cabin until 1859 when they moved to Hill County, Texas to the Walling Bend Community near his brother, Colonel Jesse Walling, who had fought with General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.
TJ and Eleanor had four children including my great-grandmother, Nancy Ella who was born at Prairie Valley. The family migrated across Texas, Eleanor died in 1899 at Edna Hill in Erath County and Thomas Jefferson dying in Merkel, Northwest of Abilene, in 1902.
The house and 307 acres surrounding it were sold in 1859 to John Henderson. A contract made by Harrison’s widow in 1867 states that the house is the home built by TJ Walling and the entire contents of the house are listed in an inventory.
In 1982, the little cabin was discovered in the woods near Henderson and thankfully it was rescued. The Rusk County Historical had it dismantled and it was reconstructed at the Depot Museum in Henderson, Texas. Today the cabin stands furnished as it was during the life of Thomas Jefferson Walling and his family. The dedication ceremony and erection of a historical marker were attended by many of the descendants of T J Walling.
T.J. Walling Log Cabin
“In 1841 Thomas Jefferson Walling I811-1902) and his wife Nancy (Price) erected this one-room log cabin. Typical of many pioneer farm homes in this area, it was built of hand-hewn timbers joined at the corners by square notches.
Walling was a veteran of the Cordova Rebellion and Indian Wars, 1838-1839, and lived here with his family until 1859. The Walling log cabin was moved from its original site (10 Mi. N E) to this location in 1982.”
My daddy’s family has been a mystery throughout the 40 plus years I’ve been researching.
Mary Rebecca Smith, my great-great-grandmother, was born on Halloween, 1849 in Georgia. June 1869, she married John W Black in Grimes County, Texas, three sons and three daughters were born to their union. John passed away in March of 1884 leaving the 35 year old Mary with six small children from four months to 13 years of age.
One would think that the young mother would have remarried, but as census records bear out, that was not the case. In 1900 I found Mary and her two youngest children, Wayne and Fannie, living with her oldest daughter, Mary Alice, her husband, John M Machen, and their family. June of 1911, Mary was committed to the Austin State Lunatic Asylum in Austin, Texas by her son-in-law, W T Higgins.
For 19 years, 5 months, and 13 days, this was her home, this is where she died.
I was able to obtain her commitment papers and her patient file a few years ago. It was heartbreaking to read that the condition for which she was committed could have been easily treated with Vitamin B-12.
I’ve often wondered if she simply became overwhelmed with life after losing her husband.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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
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.
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
When I first read about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, I thought, “Wow, what a great idea, for someone else.” After all, my projects are bigger than that.
I was still thinking about it a couple of days later and hadn’t deleted the email from my Inbox. It kept nagging at me. I got to thinking about how it might be fun.
So, here we are. I may be the only person in the world that ever reads this, hopefully not. I may not make it through 52 weeks, hopefully so. However it turns out, I’m going to give it a whirl and just maybe I’ll make some new discoveries along the way.
Briefly, the challenge is – “To develop the habit of writing/recording our family history discoveries and getting them into a format that can be shared. The data that we’ve accumulated in our genealogy software and in our binders and folders doesn’t do a whole lot of good just sitting there. We need to do something with it.
Blog. Write in a journal. Send an email to your cousins. Create a scrapbook page. Make a copy of a photo and write (in pencil) on the back. Make a video.”
Each week you’re given a different prompt or assignment and it’s up to you what you do with it.
The prompt for Week 1 is – Start. Forty-two years ago I began this crazy journey of researching my family. Many people know this started with a school project when I was 14. The genealogy bug bit and boy did it bite hard. I recently had a fellow researcher tell me how nice it was to meet someone so consumed with researching their family. Hmm, I wonder if there is a genealogy detox group?
The thing is, I don’t just enjoy researching my family, I enjoy researching your family, and his, and hers, etc. Seriously, if I get bored or frustrated with whatever branch of my tree I’m currently working on, I have a “Miscellaneous Tree” that I play with. It contains people my husband or I grew up with, Historical figures, people I just wonder about. Yeah, I know, I’m ‘consumed’.
If I had to point my finger at one relative and say, “This person is why I do this.”, I couldn’t. I would have to say it is because of three amazing women, My Momma, my MamMaw, and my great-aunt, Ruth. She was my paternal grandfather’s only sister. I never knew my Grandpa Bill, he died when my Momma was four, so he always was a mystery to me. Anyway, Aunt Ruth would come see my MamMaw every once in a while and it seemed like she and her daughter always got here about 10 pm. My Momma and I would go over to see Aunt Ruth and Bernice and visit until the wee hours of the morning. I would get to miss school because Momma always thought what I could learn from those visits was far more important than anything I would have learned in a classroom.
Aunt Ruth and my MamMaw, gave the foundation that I’ve built on for these 42 years. My Momma was my cheerleader. No matter how small my discovery might be, she was always excited. As my collection of information has grown to Titanic proportions, I often think back to a small red folder. In the early 1960s, Aunt Ruth wrote down what she knew of her family. For years, Momma guarded that folder as one of her most prized possessions and reminded me that I better make sure it got back to her. Whenever I would question a piece of research or need to verify the path I was on, I referred to that folder. For well over 20 years, I thought the red folder was lost. MamMaw and Aunt Ruth had both passed, Momma had gotten ill and lots of things were thrown away when she passed. From time to time it would cross my mind and I’d wish I could look at it one more time. Christmas 2017 brought a wonderful surprise. My oldest sister presented me with that little red folder. She had put it away years before when Momma was ill and had come across it recently. It was time for me to have it, she felt.
People ask me why I love genealogy, after all, they’re just a bunch of dead people. I guess the best answer I can give is that while many of the people in my research are indeed dead, who they were and how they lived had a hand in who I am today. Oh yeah, the added bonus is that in 42 years, I’ve “met” hundreds of cousins that I otherwise would never have known.