June 4, 2014

We Find Aristocracy!

Posted in Family History tagged , , , at 6:27 am by 2rcarrol

From Virginia To Kentucky

And now, it is necessary to move to the far right of the family tree, where we begin with the Austins – Francis Austin (1788-1850) and Mary Polly Talman (1793-1858), to be exact. Both born in Virginia, they were married in Richmond in 1811, and soon after migrated to Kentucky with Polly’s father, James Talman. They had seven children – James Madison, George Philmore, Sara Jane, William Henry, Martha, Lucy, and Francis Marion. The 1930 census finds them living in Hartford, Ohio County, Kentucky; while the 1940 census shows them in Panther Creek, Daviess County, Kentucky; and in 1950, Francis died in Cleopatra, McLean County, Kentucky. Eight years later, Mary Polly died in Rumsey, McLean County, Kentucky, and apparently the Austins settled there, because Mary Polly’s great- granddaughter, my grandma, was born in Rumsey.

Their oldest son, James Madison Austin, married Eliza Jane Pitt, and this is where we find the longest, leafiest branch yet discovered on the family tree! Eliza’s father, Davis Pitt, might just be the blackest sheep in the family! Born in 1777, in Isle of Wight, Virginia, he married Winifred Phillips about 1795 in North Carolina, but in 1819 Winifred filed a lawsuit seeking a divorce after he deserted her and their son, Sterling, and ran off to an unknown destination with a certain Polly Strother, with whom he had been having an affair! Eleven years later, the 1830 census shows him in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, living with his new wife, Rachel Bates, to whom he was married in 1829. That same year, Eliza Jane was born, and two years later, they had another daughter named Mary. And yet, it is through the Pitt line, and other lines branching off it, that we can trace clear back to the tenth century!

Dukes and Duchesses – Oh My!

To find all the people who make up that part of our ancestry, take a look at the family tree. Here is just a brief summary. The Pitt line goes back to Thomas Pitt, born in 1573 in Bristol, England, and includes a ship’s captain, Henry Pitt, who lived in the 1600s.  The line of Davis Pitt’s mother, Mary Bagnall, goes back seven generations to William Bagnall, born in 1420 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, who was married to the Mistress of Navan in Ireland. His son, Ralph, was a knight, who died at 35, and his grandson, John, born in 1480, was Lord Mayor of London.

It is through Davis Pitt’s grandmother on his father’s side, Ann Wilkinson, that we can trace back the farthest. Her GGGgrandmother, Agnes Smythe, was the GGgranddaughter of Sir John Smythe, whose father and grandfather were also knights. They were descended from nine successive Lords of Carrington. The father of the first Lord Carrington was Viscount Hamo Lupus d’Avranches, born in 1047 in Normandy, France, who came to England and took the English name Smythe. He is the descendent of three earlier Viscounts d’Avranches; the first born in 963, was married to Thyra Ragnar Bjornsdottir of Denmark. In that line we also go back to Duke Richard “The Fearless” of Normandy and his wife, a former Princess of Norway; numerous other Counts and Countesses, and Ebles I, an Archbishop of Rheims. Wouldn’t it be fun to know some of the details of their lives? These lines go back even further, but frankly, I’m tired, and that’s enough nobility for now. Maybe sometime later I’ll research these lines and others that I haven’t even gone this far on, to see if there’s a king or queen in there somewhere!

The Austins and the Bracketts

Going back to Eliza Jane Pitt, where we started this detour into faraway places, lords and ladies, and various other noble ancestors, she and James Madison Austin were the parents of six boys and two girls. Their middle son was named Davis Francis, after his two grandfathers. Living nearby was the Brackett family, Burgess “Bird” and Celia (Lovelace) with their five daughter and two sons. The two youngest, Fannie and Lucy, caught the eye of Davis and his next older brother John, and brothers married sisters. They were always close.

Fannie and John suffered several tragedies. They lost their first son, Walter, at the age of 28 and his young wife, Ina Rickard, died a year later, leaving a small son and daughter, Estel (3) and Alma (1), to be raised by their grandparents. Fannie and John also lost their daughter, Trecie, at the age of 21 and a baby boy, Clarence, when he was only 18 months old.

Nila Jane Austin, my grandma, was the third of Davis and Lucy Austin’s seven children, born July 31, 1887, in Rumsey, Kentucky. She had four brothers—Alfred, who died before his second birthday, and Frank, were older, and Jessie and Hickman, younger. Her sister Mary was born a year after Nila, but lived only four months, and Donnah, her other sister, was the baby of the family. Nila finished eight grades of school, then stayed home to help her mother. She was 13 when Donnah was born and she took care of her most of the time, because her mother was not in good health, having developed a large umbilical hernia, and had to walk with a cane. The Austin family had moved to Sacramento, Kentucky, and owned two sections of farmland totaling about 120 acres. Nila was a sweet, pretty girl and as she grew older she started going to square dances, where young Willie McLaughlin was the fiddler.

Nila's grandpa Davis and John Austin (2)

Davis and John Austin – brothers who married Brackett sisters.








Nila's grandparents, Davis and Lucy, with Donna and Fannie, Lucy's sister

Fannie and Lucy in front, Donnah and Davis in back












Nla's family

Lucy and Davis in front, Nila, Frank, Hickman, Jess, and Donnah in back









Nila's family after Davis Austin died

Lucy Austin after her husband’s funeral, with Frank, Donnah, Nila, Jess, and Hickman behind

June 3, 2014

From Scotland They Came

Posted in Family History tagged , , , at 7:00 am by 2rcarrol

Fleeing the Famine?

Moving now to the right side of the family tree, we’ll look first at my mother’s paternal line. Shattering my belief that my McLaughlins came from Ireland (and possibly from the High Kings of Ireland!), I have learned that the earliest two McLaughlin ancestors to be discovered hailed from Scotland! John ((1643-1705) and his son James (1668-1738) both began their lives in Scotland and died in Ireland, so it would seem likely that they emigrated sometime in the late 1600s. I don’t know anything else about them, including the names of their wives, although I’m sure they had them.

I can only suppose that they might have been part of a major influx of Scots into northern Ireland that occurred in the late 1690s, when tens of thousands of people, the majority of them Presbyterians, fled a famine in Scotland to come to Ulster. Of course, there was always some movement back and forth between Ireland and Scotland, so ancestors of the original John and James could possibly have have come from Ireland at some earlier time. They were followed by James’ son, John (1693-1763), and John’s son James (1718-1782). They tended to name their sons after their fathers, as you can see! Then James had a son, whom he named John, of course, (1743-1812) and John, along with his wife, Margaret Dickerson (1742-1825), and their 11 or 12 sons made the big jump, across the big pond, to Pennsylvania. He was the fifth generation down from the first John.

To make matters even more confusing, he named one of his sons John M McLaughlin, and that is the one through whom I trace my ancestry. John M, born 1782, married Sarah Sally Holt in Pennsylvania on April 27, 1803. Sally died in 1825 in Jefferson, Kentucky and John died 29 years later in Muhlenberg  County, Kentucky. At least, John M broke up the James/John monopoly by naming the son through whom I trace my line William.

Born in 1809 in Kentucky, William married Susannah Dame on February 1, 1831. Susannah was born in Virginia in 1812 and died in McLean County, Kentucky on July 22, 1897, outliving her husband by 26 years. Her father, George John Dame (1752-1809) was born in Hanover, Germany, where his family had fled because of religious persecution in England, and her mother, Margaret Mary Green (1765-1850) was born in Botetort County, Virginia. Together, William and Susanna raised a large family of 12 children: Sarah, Fatima Catherine, David, Octavia Jane, William Peter, Rufus Lincoln, Medora Ellen, John, Benjamin, Thomas, Susan and Sarilda.

Although I have been cautioned to take this with a grain of salt, there is an interesting note on a probable ancestor of Susanna, as documented by Wikipedia: “The parish registers of Church Minshull, in the county of Chester, state, “1649 Thomas Damme of Leighton. Buried the 20th of February, being of the age of Seven-score and fourteen” (154 years), signed by vicar T. Holford and wardens T. Kennerly and John Warburton.” Believe it if you like!

Thomas and Cansada

Coming near the end of William and Susanna’s brood, Thomas was my great-grandpa. His wife, my great-grandma, was named Sarah Cansada Vandiver, and until just recently I thought she was a dead-end. But I have finally found her father, William Vandiver (1828-1862) who died fighting in the Civil War when “Sadie” was just eight years old, and mother, Margaret Arnold, who was born in Glamorgan, Wales, in 1826. So, I have another drop of Welsh blood! Judging from his name, her father was Dutch, although he was born in Kentucky.

This is the line-up of McLaughlin men:  John – James – John – James – John – John M – William – Thomas – William. That goes back eleven generations from me.

Tom and Sadie were married on November 6, 1878, when they were both 19, and proceeded to have seven children, two boys and five girls. Cora and Bessie, were followed by Willie (William Clay), my grandpa, then Clemmie, Mollie, and Beulah, and six years later came Roscoe, the caboose. They were a good-looking family, as you will see from their pictures.

Thomas owned two hundred acres of good farmland near Sacramento, Kentucky, where they grew corn and hay to feed their livestock, and sorghum, which they made into syrup at their mill. Surplus syrup and cream from their cows was sold for income, and they also grew tobacco as a cash crop.

McLaughlin sorghum mill (2)

McLaughlin sorghum mill, with neighbors. Thomas is on the far left, and Cansada on the far right. That could be Willie or Roscoe feeding cane into the mill.

They didn’t have much education and didn’t see the need for it, except for Willie, who finished eight grades at the local school and then boarded in a larger town and attended two years of high school. The family was proud of “Brother,” as his siblings called him, but they were content to remain on the farm. When Roscoe’s oldest son, Freeman, also displayed a thirst for knowledge, his parents insisted he stay home and help with the farm work. He brought textbooks home from school and hid them, but if his mother found them she threw them in the fire. Eventually he left home to get his education, resulting in his being disinherited and estranged from his family.

Willie was also an accomplished fiddler, much in demand to play for the Saturday night square dances. It was probably at one of these dances that he met young Nila Austin.

Cansaida and Beulah

Cansada, when her children were grown.

Grandpa teenager

Willie McLaughlin, late teens.

George and Molly McLaughlin Brackett

Cansaida and Beulah (2)

Beulah McLaughlin


Roscoe McLaughlin in WWI uniform

June 2, 2014

The English Connection

Posted in Family History tagged , , , at 5:43 am by 2rcarrol

Orphan to Sea Captain

Richard Roberts, was born in Camden, New Jersey, on November 17, 1806. According to family lore, he was a twin, and by the time he was four years old, his father, mother, and grandmother had died, so at that tender age he and his twin were bound out as servants. He ran away from his master when he was 13 and became a ship’s cabin boy, eventually advancing over the years to become a ship’s captain. At some point he left the sea and started farming in Louisa County, Iowa.

Richard’s wife, Mariah Mary Fowler, was the daughter of Barzillai and Ann Fowler. I discovered that Barzillai is a biblical name (2 Samuel 19:31-39). Barzillai was the son of Hezekiah and Hannah Fowler, who named their son after Hezekiah’s father, who was also named Barzillai. Mariah Mary was the sixth of nine children, born on March 23, 1810.

Richard and Mariah Roberts had nine children of their own, large families being common in those days. Even though I don’t know a whole lot about them, the dates I have tell their own story. Three of their children died in infancy – two little girls, Ann (14 months) and Mary (8½ months), and their last baby, Elwood, who only lived nine days.

Three other sons died in their 20s. Charles was only 28 when, according to a family story, he and his wife Susan were killed in the Mountain Meadow Massacre. The Utah Territorial Militia, composed of Mormons, along with a few Paiute Indians they had conscripted, attacked a wagon train passing through Utah on its way to California, and killed everyone except 17 children who were younger than seven. Charles’ son Royal survived and was raised by his Uncle William. Two other sons, George (28) and Thomas (22), died fighting for the Union in the Civil War, leaving young wives to grieve for them.

Of Richard and Mariah’s remaining children, two (William Browning, and Margaret) lived to be 86, and I don’t know when their daughter Angeline died, but she was married at 16. Mariah died when she was 52. Women didn’t usually live very long after bearing and raising large families. Seven years later, Richard married Nancy Boone. He came to live in Coffeville, Kansas, near William, in his old age.

William Browning Roberts was drafted into the 18th Iowa Infantry and Artillary Division of the Union Army when he was 16 years old. He fought in Springfield, Missouri and three years later was discharged in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of his grandchildren remembers hearing him tell about scavenging for food during the war. Once, he and his fellow soldiers butchered a cow belonging to a widow and her children and she came after them with a butcher knife. Another time they reached a town after dark, fell asleep on the ground, and discovered in the morning that the ground they thought was rocky, was really under an apple tree and the “rocks” were apples, which they hungrily ate.

The Edens From England

Back in the mid-to-late 1700s, the family of John and Elizabeth Eden were living in a thatch-roofed cottage in the leafy, green village of Great Bourton, which was located in Oxfordshire, near its border with Warwickshire, in southern England. William, second of their six children, was born two days before the end of 1769. At the age of 23, he married Mary Taylor of Mollington1, a pretty little village nearby, where they raised their seven children. In the middle of their brood was John, named after his grandfather, who found his wife, Anne Brothers, in the village of Bishop’s Itchington2 in Warwickshire. He brought her to live in Mollington, however, where they raised their ten children, seven girls and three boys.

Great Bourton 2

A picture I found online of Great Bourton, Osfordshire

thatch roof cottage

This thatch roof cottage looks very similar to the poor-quality picture I have of Charles Eden’s cottage








Their oldest son Charles was apprenticed to be a shoemaker. He wed Jane Allen in 1844, and with their first baby, Betsy, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean aboard the ship Parkfield, landing safely in Quebec on May 13, 1846. Charles was 21 and Jane 19. I don’t what made them decide to leave their homeland; perhaps it was inspired by a couple of uncles, the brothers of Charles’ mother, who had gone to America a few years earlier, or perhaps a spirit of adventure or a lack of opportunity in the small village where he had grown up was the reason. According to an 1881 census, there were only three Edens still living in Mollington then.

As Charles and another man were carrying a large, heavy chest off the boat, the wharf broke beneath them and two of Charles’ fingers were smashed by the chest as they fell, a scar he bore the rest of his life. They crossed into the United States and continued west until they came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then just a small village. Learning that Charles was a shoemaker, several people tried various inducements to get him to stay there, but he kept going west, looking for farmland. When he reached Oshkosh, he declared his intention of becoming a citizen, which allowed him to buy land for $1.25 an acre.

The family stayed in Wisconsin for 12 years, and six more children were born there: Mary Jane, Emma, William, the twins, Alfred and Albert, and John, named after his grandfather. In the spring of 1858, the family built a covered wagon, bought a yoke of oxen to pull it, and set out to look for land in the new territory of Kansas, which had originally been intended for Indian resettlement. When they reached Iowa, however, tales of the still-ongoing violence between pro- and anti-slavery forces in Kansas, persuaded them to settle there instead.

Eden covered wagon

Eden covered wagon

Charles Eden family

The Charles Eden family with surviving adult children. In the front row is Betsy (oldest), Charles, Rose (youngest), Jane, and either Alfred or Albert (with the other twin seated behind Jane). In the back row is Mary Jane and the other brothers. I’m guessing that the three on the left are Charles, George and John, while the two on the right are William and Thomas.

Charles and Jane Eden

Charles and Jane Eden

Charles and Jane Eden 2

Charles and Jane Eden in later years










They built a sod house in Poweshiek County and managed the Elk Horn Inn until the next spring, when they moved to Johnson County, 12 miles west of Iowa City. After spending the summer taking contracts to break prairie with a team of seven yokes of oxen, they moved to Iowa City in the fall. Sometime during that sad and unsettled year, ten-year-old Emma died, and another little girl, Sarah, was born but lived only a short time.

They stayed put in Iowa City for the next ten years, as Charles Jr., George Washington, Thomas, and Rose were born. After some more moving around, Charles bought a farm in Lone Tree, Iowa, in 1870. Jane died at 78, but Charles lived there for the next 55 years. Three days shy of his 100th birthday, he suddenly took ill and died, so instead of a big celebration, there was a funeral. At that point, Charles and Jane had 209 descendents: 12 children, 66 grandchildren, 98 great-grandchildren and 33 great-great-grandchildren!

Excerpt from a book about the history of Iowa and the Eden family, written in 1956: “No history of Johnson County, Iowa, could be written without taking into account the influence of Charles Eden, Sr., in molding the character of its people, shaping their policy and promoting their interest in lines of progress, good order, morals, and religious development. In his character there was an unusual combination of qualities. To the world, the church, his neighbors and his friends, he was a tower of strength to his family, all of that, and a world of tenderness besides.”

At some point after moving to Ohio, when Mary Jane was a teenager, Charles indentured her out as a servant to one of his neighbors in order to get money to buy some land. Apparently that was not an uncommon practice in those days. Her master, however, was not a trustworthy man and got her pregnant, so Mary Jane ran away and came home to have her baby, whom she named Robert. It was two years later that William Roberts came home from the Civil War and married her, providing her baby with a name. How I wish I knew if they had known each other before!

William and Mary Jane (Eden) Roberts

William always said that Mary Jane was “the purtiest thing I ever laid eyes on!” They started off their marriage with little 18-month-old Robert, Mary Jane’s baby, and also took in William’s nephew Royal, whose parents had been killed in the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Royal was probably 14 or 15. The proper nine months after William and Mary’s wedding, little Robert had a new sister, Mary Ettie Serilda. Before his fourth birthday, he had a new brother, too – George Thomas, likely named after his two uncles who had died in the Civil War. Two years later Margaret Angeline joined the family.

Roberts family

The Roberts Family. Back row, left-right: William Winfield, Jessie Lucretia, Samuel Herbert “Bert,” Lillie Edith, John Henry. Middle row, left-right: Charles Richard, Margaret Angeline, George Thomas, Mary Ettie, Robert M, Mariah Helen “Ella.” Front row: William Browning (father), Hazel Beulah, Mary Jane (mother).

I’m not exactly sure what William did during those years in Iowa – probably farming. But sometime after Margaret was born in August, 1870, William and Mary Jane decided to move to Kansas and obtain a homestead. The Homestead Act passed by President Lincoln in 1862 allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of public land and, provided they built a house, planted crops, and lived there for five years, they could file for a deed to the land. The Act was amended to allow soldiers who had served in the Union Army for two years to get a deed to their land in just one year. Early settlers in Kansas were challenged by drought, scarce natural resources, and economic cycles that threatened their survival, and winters were especially hard.

But the Roberts family, homesteading around Ottawa, Kansas, continued to flourish and grow, with Mariah Helen “Ella” (1872), little Alice Ann who only lived three weeks (1874), Lillie Edith (1875), Charles Richard “Dick” – named after his two grandfathers (1877), William Winfield “Win” (1879), Jessie Lucretia (1881), Samuel Herbert “Bert” (1883), John Henry (1886), and the baby, Hazel Beulah (1891). Just think of having a baby every couple of years for 27 years! Before little John Henry was born, the older girls decided the “passed on” baby clothes were not fit for another baby, so they begged $5.00 from their father to buy material and made a new layette for him – and no doubt Hazel got to use it too.

Earliest Adventist Forebears

The “unknown story” of this tale is “when, where, and how” did their family become Seventh-day Adventists? Was it while they were still in Iowa, or after they reached Kansas? There was a group of Adventist believers in Waukon at that time, a town about 100 miles north of Iowa City, but that was quite a distance for those days. At any rate, we know that William eventually became a colporteur soon after Hazel was born, and was dedicated to sharing the Adventist message by selling Bibles and religious books.

It was about ten years earlier that George King, a young man who believed the Lord had called him to be a preacher, but who didn’t seem to have the aptitude for it, was encouraged to go into people’s homes and “preach” to them in their living rooms, offering them tracts and books. He made a success at this work and was able to support himself by selling books. This was the beginning of the colporteur ministry, and William B Roberts was one of the early colporteurs in Kansas.

When the Kansas Conference celebrated its centennial a rather humorous story was told in the historical play they put on. In 1910, an old gentleman (he would have been 64) with white hair and beard came driving his wagon, pulled by a gray horse, up to a farmhouse. He introduced himself to the farmer who was about to go in to eat supper.

“Good evening, friend. My name’s Roberts.”

“C. C. Dick’s my name. Glad to meet you,” answered the farmer.

Mr. Roberts told the farmer he was a “Bible man” and asked if he might spend the night there. The neighborly Mr. Dick called his son, Everett, to unhitch his horse and invited Brother Roberts to sit on the porch and cool off till supper was ready.

“How much do you know about the Bible, sir? Do you read it much?” asked Mr. Dick.

“Oh, yes, indeed, every day,” answered Mr. Roberts. “That’s why I’m selling Bibles and books to help explain it.”

“Can’t you let it explain itself?” challenged the farmer.

“That’s exactly what it does. This book,” (pulling his prospectus out of his jacket pocket) “directs us to the Scripture, not to what some man thinks,” answered Mr. Roberts.

“I take it, then, that you go to church faithfully every week?” asked Mr. Dick.

“Yes sir, I do! Of course!” insisted Mr. Roberts.

Fixing him with a steely eye, Mr. Dick exclaimed in triumph, “Then why to you go to church on Sunday?”

Startled, Mr. Roberts exclaimed, “Who said I go to church on Sunday? I go on the Sabbath.”

Mr. Dick, incredulous, leaned forward. “You mean the seventh-day Sabbath?”

“Yes sir, I’m a Sabbath-keeper! Are you?”  With happy smiles the two embraced and clapped each other on the back, thus illustrating the argumentative and triumphal style of Adventist evangelism in those days.

William told the story of how he had worn out one horse, Old John, and thought he’d have to quit his work because he couldn’t afford a new one, but the “canvassing agent” for Kansas told him not to give up. He was anxious to get the local believers more tied in with the work the colporteurs were doing, so he persuaded the Shaffer church members to donate money to buy a new horse and buggy, which the Kansas Conference then allowed  Brother Roberts to use. The new horse was named “Shaffer” in honor of the church which bought him!

Like other pioneer Adventists, William was convinced that Jesus was coming back to this earth very soon, and he wanted to use all his money to share the Gospel so everyone could hear the good news. He often said he didn’t want to have even one thin dime in his pocket when Jesus came. Of course, this meant the family lived in a near-poverty state, which some of the children did not appreciate. Perhaps that is why only four of them, as far as I can determine – Ettie, Ella, Jessie, and John, remained members of the church after leaving home. Bert and his wife, Cora, were stage actors for some time. Tom fell off a wagon when he was older and was paralyzed.

Roberts men and father (2)

William Browning Roberts and his six sons: Bert, Tom, Dick and Bob on the back row, with Win and John in front

Mary Jane, daughters

Mary Jane Eden Roberts and her six daughters: Ella, Ettie, Lillie and Mag in back, with Jessie and Hazel in front











The Adventist church in Ottawa built the first church school in Kansas, and of course William was very much interested in it. It had one room for the younger children, and another for those more advanced, where Bible and bookkeeping were taught, along with the regular subjects. There was beginning to be a lot of talk about needing to build a college to serve the midwest, as the college at Battle Creek, Michigan was so far away, and at the 1889 Kansas campmeeting in Ottawa, attended by Elder W W Prescott, the General Conference education secretary, and Mrs. Ellen G White, a formal discussion ensued. Three options were suggested – a college just for their conference, two colleges for the midwest area – one in the north and one in the south, or one strong school to serve all the conferences.

Elder Prescott pointed out that it would be very difficult to produce enough well-qualified teachers for three, or even two schools. Then Mrs. White mentioned the ongoing expenses of maintaining a good school. William was quick to speak up, making a motion that they build one strong college, to be located in Ottawa, where there was already a church school. There were a number of loud voices of assent. Then conference president expressed sympathy, but suggested they should think about the brethren in  other conferences.

“Kansas is centrally located,” called someone.

“There are many things to consider,” responded the conference president, “so perhaps we should leave it to the brethren at the General Conference to make the decision.”

Reluctantly, William withdrew his motion. The Ottawa members were disappointed when it was later decided to build the college at Lincoln, Nebraska, but they rallied to do their part in raising funds. Meantime, William’s daughter Jessie went off to Battle Creek College and then came back to take nurse’s training at Kansas Sanitarium in Wichita.

William’s father, Richard, and his second wife, Nancy (Boone), came to live near William and Mary Jane in their later years. Richard bought a farm near Coffeeville, Kansas. For many years, the family held a big Roberts Reunion. Several times it was held in Wichita at my grandparents’ place, and I remember being there for one of them – bounties of good food coming out of the kitchen and dozens of cousins overrunning the yard.

roberts reunion

One of many Roberts Family Reunions

kansas campmeeting

Part of the McBroom family at Kansas Campmeeting in Ottawa. Can you imagine keeping those lovely white dresses clean on a hot, dirty campground? Campmeeting was like a summer vacation for the Adventist church members – a chance to go camping, visit with other families, and listen to inspirational speakers. Daddy told us about going to campmeeting in a covered wagon filled with hay to sleep on. That’s Mary Jane and son John sitting back by the tents.


1Mollington dates back at least to 1014 or 1015, when it was a manor estate belonging to King AEthelred. By 1086 it had passed to William d’Evreux, kinsman of William the Conqueror. At that time it lay across the intersection of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Northhamptonshire. In 1895, it was entirely in Oxfordshire. . The manor passed to various other families until in 1662 it came into the hand of Ambrose Holbech and his family held it until 1950m when it was broken up. There were three other small estates in Mollington, owned by the de Berefords, Woodhulls, and Grevilles. Agriculture was the main occupation. Never more than a large village, at its peak in 1841 the population was 385, and in 1961 had declined to 167.

2It’s name is derived from the River Itchen, and the Bishops of Lichfield, who were formerly the local landowners.


Looking at the Ancestors

Posted in Family History tagged , , , , at 3:03 am by 2rcarrol

For many years, I have been interested in learning about my ancestors – those without whom I wouldn’t be here – those whose genes may have affected me in unrealized ways. My parents told my brother and me many stories about their families and childhood when we were little, and since then I’ve asked them lots of questions. Assuming at least a few of my descendents will someday feel a similar interest, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned.

With today’s tools it’s so much easier to find information that took a great deal of effort even just a dozen years ago. So I can borrow not only from my own family’s storehouse of memories, but also from those of complete strangers who are related in some way. Scientists tell us that every time we remember an event, we change it slightly. And everyone remembers things from just a little different perspective. So what follows is, if not the truth, at least a reasonable facsimile. I hope it will be entertaining!

Westward Ho!

Like all who came to live in America, my forebears had the spirit of adventure, the restless, pioneer spirit that pushed them ever westward, across the Atlantic Ocean, to the seaboard states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, on to the rich midwesterm soil of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, and Kansas, and finally all the way to the west coast.

From Ireland to the Shores of America

Let’s begin the story on the far left branch of the ancestral tree. In Ballyclare, County Antrim, North Ireland, a young man named Robert McBroom, born in 1766, decided to leave his home and family and sail to America. Other McBrooms have told me that “all” McBrooms originally came from a small area of southern Scotland, around the parish of Kirkcudsbright (it means “Chapel of Cuthbert”) at the mouth of the River Dee. So I am guessing that Robert’s family may have gone to Ireland to serve as landlords for English estate owners, as so many Scotsmen did.

Whether his voyage was an adventure or a necessity, I don’t know, but upon arrival in Pennsylvania not long after the Revolutionary War, he met a young woman named Elizabeth Catherine “Katy” Kinzer. Their child, named Robert, was born in Dutch Creek Fork, Washington County, Pennsylvania on April 3, 1795. Records do not make clear that they were married, and indeed, in 1798 he married a Nancy Agnes Jamison, with whom he had a large family, including another son named Robert. The original immigrant Robert, my 3g-grandfather, died in 1853 in Brooke County, West Virginia.

It is through that first son that I trace my ancestry. When Robert was in his late teens, together with George Kinzer (probably a cousin or uncle), he decided to push west. Perhaps, if he was really an illegitimate child, this was an effort to escape his past. They first settled in Pickaway County, Ohio, but when he was 20 he moved on to Hocking County and came to Laurel Township.1 Here, a year later, on August 15, 1816, he married Nancy Vincent Cantwell.

The Beckwiths – From Yorkshire, England

Now it is necessary to go back and pick up another strand of my ancestry. Matthew Beckwith, born around 1610 in Yorkshire, England and married to Elizabeth Mary Lynde, arrived in New London, Connecticut, in time for the birth of their son, John in 1665. John married Prudence Manwaring around 1688, and their son, Jonathan, born two years later, married Elizabeth Waller on February 11, 1712. In 1721, Jonathan and Elizabeth welcomed a son whom they named Nehemiah. All of this occurred in New London, but it seems that Nehemiah got “itchy feet” which took him to Dorchester, Maryland, where he met and married Mary Thomas in 1748. There they had a daughter, Mary Beckwith, who married Josiah Cantwell in 1791.

Josiah Cantwell, Land Speculator

Josiah’s parents were Edward Cuthbert Cantwell (1737-1767) and Mary Vincent Cantwell, (1740-1831), who were married in Baltimore, June 11, 1761. Josiah’s grandfather John Cantwell (1708-1778) married Mary Birchfield (1716-1744) and her grandfather came over from Wales, so I can claim a drop of Welsh blood! It is even possible that some of these ancestors living in Baltimore might have been Catholics. Josiah, himself, was born July 25, 1758, and he became a successful land speculator.

Successful land speculation meant finding the land first! He staked out claims, usually at no cost, to hundreds of acres of uncleared lands, and then protected his claims by riding horseback from Maryland to Ohio. He was a woodsman who knew good land when he saw it, and he laid claim to it in every state through which he passed. He is described as “a woodsman, tough, brave, and honest.” Part of his land holdings included Laurel Township in Ohio.

Back to the McBrooms

Josiah and Mary’s daughter, Nancy, had spent her girlhood in the settled, civilized comfort of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But perhaps she was traveling with her father on one of his rounds, or maybe he had moved to Ohio, or he had decided the new settler Robert McBroom would make a good son-in-law and he persuaded her to come out and meet him.

Whatever the case, Robert and Nancy, my great-great grandparents, were married, and Josiah gave Mary a square mile of land in Laurel Township for a wedding present. This land included the area known today as Cantwell Cliffs. It is the most northerly of the six parks that make up the Hocking Hills State Park on Route 374, turning west off Route 33 at Rockbridge, Ohio. These caverns, caves, and rocky cliffs, amazing stone formations, were formed by erosion through the centuries. The Mingo and Shawnee Indians found refuge from their enemies here until driven out by the English in 1774.

Nancy found pioneer life in the wilderness primitive and crude, and it was a big adjustment. When she had to ride horseback through the trackless forests to deliver messages to the men who were clearing the land, she said she feared the wild hogs even more than the bears and wild cats! She bore 15 children to Robert, 13 of whom grew to adulthood. In order of their birth they were named: Joseph Cantwell, John Kinser, Malachi Vincent, Elizabeth Hewitt, Robert Mortimer, Hester Ann, James Gilruth (who died young), Minerva Priscilla, Edward Cuthbert, William Henry, Greenbury Stewart, Lewis Asbury, Mary Margaret, Nancy Jane, and Lucy, who died in infancy.

“When each child came of age, he or she was given the choice of any horse on the farm or forty acres of land. Most of them took the horses, and continued west to Indiana, Iowa, Montana and California. Their descendents are now scattered over most of the western states, and include professionals, teachers, farmers, lawyers, doctors, a few musicians, and every trade, from janitor to bishop!”

The first school in Laurel Township was held in their log cabin. The first school house was built in 1829; Robert was the first teacher and taught for many years. Many of his descendents, including my Aunt Thelma McBroom, became teachers as well. Robert was a staunch Democrat, and in the first election, held in the log schoolhouse, he was elected Justice of the Peace, an office he held for 30 years.

Robert and Nancy were Methodists, and the first Methodist sermon was preached in their cabin. Nancy enjoyed entertaining the Methodist circuit riders. Two of them, Rev. R Jones Greenbury and Rev. Francis Asbury, made the McBroom cabin their headquarters, and two of the McBroom’s sons were named after them. Later, two of their grandsons became ministers.

I am indebted to Ruth Brown, a descendent of the McBroom family and a genealogist, for much of this information. She describes the McBroom farm, which was largely self-sufficient, money being a scarce commodity in those days. “In the springtime the country abounded with a variety of game animals, including bear, deer, squirrel, rabbits, pheasant, wild turkeys, and quail.” Nancy built a pen to trap the turkeys when they were migrating in the fall, scattering corn to lure them into the pen, so they had plenty of turkeys for the holidays. ”

“In the spring the country abounded with many kinds of berries, including raspberries, dewberries, blackberries, and huckleberries. During the summer the woods were full of wild grapes and paw-paws [or custard apples]. After the first heavy frost in the fall, they could gather many kinds of indigenous nuts, including walnuts, beechnuts, butternuts, several varieties of hickory nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Each year sufficient corn and wheat would be raised to furnish enough flour and cornmeal for a full year.”

They had cows and hogs, which they would butcher each fall and cure the meat in a smokehouse. “In addition, a great hollow mound of earth was built to store a supply of cabbages, turnips, beets, and other vegetables grown during the summer season.” And they had over 100 maple trees that provided syrup and sugar every spring. A cave on the McBroom farm contained saltpeter for gunpowder.

The McBroom family has several cemetaries. Nancy, who died on July 26, 1880, and Robert who died a year later on September 23, are buried in the northeast corner of a family graveyard near the cliffs. Their final resting places are marked with small sandstone headstones from which time has long since erased the inscriptions. But rubbings show that Robert’s says “Died the Death of the Just” and Nancy’s says “Her Charity is Remembered.

Younger Robert McBroom

Younger Robert McBroom

Robert McBroom

Robert McBroom, the Patriarch


James Carroll

James Carroll, Eliza’s Father








And On To Grandpa McBroom

Robert and Nancy McBroom’s third son, Malachi Vincent (note that Vincent is carried on from his mother and grandmother), born December 19, 1819, was my great-grandpa. On October 16, 1842, he married Eliza Ann Carroll, the daughter of James and Rachel Carroll, who was also born in Hocking County on July 27, 1825. (I don’t think that’s where I got my name – my dad said he named me after a friend of his who died). Apparently, Malachi, who must have chosen the 40 acres when he came of age, and Eliza Ann didn’t stray far from home, as they were buried in the same McBroom family cemetery as Malachi’s parents. Malachi died July 10, 1899 and Eliza Ann died July 17, 1897. But before that they raised a big family of ten children: James R, Wesley Morris, Elizabeth Rachel, Nancy Jane, Lewis Asbury, Mary Margaret, Joseph Darius, Greenbury Vincent, Hester Rowena, and Laura E. And their seventh son, Joseph Darius, born August 25, 1858,was my grandpa!

I wish I knew more about Grandpa’s early years. I know he taught school for a few years. As a romantic, I’m imagining a youthful sweetheart who either died or left him and broke his heart. Whatever the story is, it wasn’t until he was 30 that he and his first cousin (their mothers were sisters), Mary Edna Hastings (1870-1903), crossed the state line into Kentucky to get married in 1888. A few years later, they moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he bought land and started farming.

Again, I’m guessing, but perhaps Edna, as she was called, was not in good health, because it was not until ten years later, in 1898, when Joe was 40, that their first daughter, Agnes Maye, was born. Edna’s niece, Norah Hastings, came out to live with them and help her. Five years later tragedy struck, and Edna died giving birth to twins, who also did not survive.

Joe, a widower, began urgently looking for a new wife to take care of him and his little daughter. Agnes. As a member of the Board of the Kansas Sanitarium (an Adventist institution), his most fruitful area of search was among the student nurses. It was there he found young Jessie Roberts. And here our story must pause, as we move a little to the right on the family tree, to unwind the strands of Jessie’s family tree, beginning with the family of her father.


1The township government is a local unit of government, originally rural in application. They are geographic and political subdivisions of a county. The most common form of township government has an elected board of trustees or supervisors. Some additional offices, such as Clerk or Constable, may also be elected – Wikipedia

March 2, 2011

Cellular Memory

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:35 am by 2rcarrol

I’ve read a few books about the theory that our cells contain memories that can be passed on to our children, through egg and sperm, and also by organ transplants. People who have had heart transplants, especially if they are of a sensitive nature, are surprised to discover new likes, cravings, and automatic habits, that apparently accompanied their new hearts.

Just a couple of examples: a woman who had never drunk alcoholic beverages, felt a strong urge to stop at liquor stores or bars she passed after receiving a new heart. On investigation, she learned that her donor had been an alcoholic.

On a trip, a husband and wife were having an argument when they were hit head-on and the man was killed. His organs were donated, and some time later a young man who had received his heart contacted the wife and asked to meet her. He told her that a certain word he had never heard of before, “copacetic,” kept coming into his mind since he had received his new heart, and he wondered if she had any explanation. She told him that when she and her husband made up after an argument, he always said, “Everything’s copacetic now.” 

These stories, and many others like them, could hardly be coincidence. Besides the genetic traits that are passed on to our children, could our very cells, egg and sperm, which begin their lives pass on some of our memories as well.

I’m currently reading a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Summer of the Great-Grandmother, in which she tells about caring for her mother the summer she died. She also shares many stories about her mother’s ancestors, going back to great-great-grandparents and even further, and how they have made her who she is today.

So, with this introduction, I’d like to spend a little while exploring what I know about my roots and how they may have played a role in the person I’ve become. Although I’ve traced my genealogy back to six pairs of my great-great-grandparents, I don’t know too many details beyond my grandparents.

Paternal Grandparents - Joe & Jessie McBroom

So far I haven’t discovered anyone famous. I come from more common stock. Daddy’s sister and his father, along with many other ancestors, were school teachers. And his ancestry also included quite a few Baptist, circuit-riding preachers. A dry sense of humor seemed to prevail in Daddy’s family, along with out-going personalities. 

Maternal Grandparents - Willie & Nila McLaughlin

Mom’s father and his family had a reserved, somewhat melancholy streak. Grandpa McLaughlin showed a determined ambition that set him apart from the rest of his family. He moved to a larger town in order to get two more years of schooling beyond 8th grade, and at the age of 16 decided to become a carpenter, rather than a farmer, and built his parents a house that was still standing a hundred years later. He moved to Indiana, and late in life to California, instead of settling in the area around Sacramento, KY, with the rest of his family. In his younger days he was a fiddler and played for dances. One of Mom’s brothers played the violin, and the other played guitar. Together, they enjoyed singing the old ballads.

Mom’s mother was sweet but shy. She also came from a farming family, but one which grew a greater variety of vegetables and fruits than most of their neighbors. Many in their family embraced an emotional, somewhat superstitious kind of religion. It was on her side, too, that there were a few alcoholics.

I find a good many of these inherited characteristics in myself.  From my dad’s side, I certainly inherited the sense of humor. I enjoy jokes and like to tease. I think I also have a bit of Daddy’s more laid-back personality, although I feel an internal tug-of-war with Mom’s (and Grandpa McLaughlin’s) more ambition-driven characters. I am also more introverted, like Mom and Grandpa, rather than outgoing like Daddy, although having been married nearly 55 years to an extrovert has had its influence on me as well. My love of music must surely come from Mom and Grandpa, as well as my dad, who also loved music. And I have to fight a tendency to addictions that probably came from Grandma McLaughlin’s side of the family. 

I don’t know about actual cellular memories, but I do feel my strongest connection with Grandpa McLauglin and his Irish roots. I am fascinated by Irish history.

From all of this, I come to the conclusion that we are not all created equal, but are the products of our genetic, and perhaps cellular, influences. I’ve read research that suggests that successful and highly educated people usually come from successful, highly educated ancestors; ordinary people usually have families that are ordinary, and criminals and crooks usually come from that kind of family. Of course, different types of  families are raised in different environments, too. Occasionally, people rise above their backgrounds, but it is likely that they have inherited an extra portion of ambition and stamina from some ancestor. And this leads to the conclusion that we should be careful about judging others.

February 24, 2011

Skeletons in the Closet

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:50 am by 2rcarrol

Personally, I think it’s kind of interesting to find a few skeletons in my closet – especially if I haven’t discovered any famous ancestors to claim! I’m aware of three skeletons so far.

On my dad’s paternal side of the family, we’ve only been able to trace back to an illegitimate son born in Pennsylvania. He was named Robert McBroom after his father, apparently, but the mother, Miss Kinser, seems to have been unmarried. Presumably to leave the stigma behind, he and George Kinser (cousin? uncle?) moved to moved to Ohio near what is known today as Cantwell Cliffs in the outskirts of Chilicothe. There he married Nancy Cantwell and they had a large, prosperous farm, bore 15 children, and were leaders in the community.

Another possible skeleton on my dad’s maternal side of the family is the rumor that his grandmother was pregnant before she got married (and not by her husband). But as it’s only a rumor, I’m not sure.

The third family skeleton is on my mom’s maternal side. Her mother’s father, Davis Austin, was likely named after his maternal grandfather, Davis Pitt, another colorful character. After marrying a Winifred Phillips in North Carolina in 1795, he deserted her and their son and run off with a certain Polly Strother. Winifred sought a divorce in 1827. Later a census showed him to be in Kentucky and maried to yet another woman named Rachel. He had a daughter named Eliza Jane, but it is unkown if her mother was Polly Strothers, Rachel, or someone else. She was born after the marriage to Rachel, but it was less than nine months, so perhaps it was a shotgun marriage.

I’d love to hear stories about other family skeletons – or famous ancestors.

How to Trace Your Family the Easy Way

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:48 am by 2rcarrol

I didn’t have the spare money to pay for all the records on http://www.ancestry.com/ or http://www.genealogy.com/ so I used the message boards to find other people who had done the research. I just asked questions about the grandparents or great-grandparents I already knew, and got lots of interesting responses. I even discovered some second-cousins in Tennessee, one of whom had researched back farther on my mother’s side than I’ve been able to find in my other lines. I’ve been able to trace back to six of my eight sets of great-great grandparents. Someday, if I have time and money, I’d like to see what else I could find using the records.