Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Making Connections in Southwest Virginia

One last blog post for 2014. This one is for my niece, Sonya, because she wanted to know.

Despite my absorption with researching ancestors—“the dead ones,” as my daughter once said—I cherish good times with the live ones. Sunday, December 21, 2014, a lovely day of sunshine and blue skies in Smyth County, Virginia, was a day of connecting with living family members.
In the morning, Myron and I drove to Rich Valley Presbyterian Church, one of my favorite places in Smyth County. Established in 1836, this red brick and white stucco church’s significance to my father’s side of the family goes back about 120 years. Usually when I go there, I wander through the cemetery, snap pictures of tombstones, and peer inside the sanctuary at its original dark oak woodwork and pews angled toward the pulpit front and center. 
Beautiful doors at RVPC.

Inside the sanctuary at RVPC.

But this day was the first time I had attended a worship service there.
Being the Sunday before Christmas, we sang old favorite carols—“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” the best. Two little girls sang a duet, lost their place and giggled, gathered their composure and sang on. A young mom told the children a story about Mary. The pastor preached that being favored (or chosen), as Mary was, results not because we are worthy, but we are worthy because we are favored, the same theme as my morning Advent reading.

After church, we stayed for a pitch-in dinner. The best part was meeting Pratt descendants: Greg Pratt and his daughter, Lauren Grace, named for Grayson Pratt; Champ Clark and his mother, a Pratt: Hal and Lynn Campbell and their sons, Will and Patrick. Hal is a mover and shaker at that church, not to mention Southern States cooperative in Marion, where my nephew-in-law, Andy, is the manager. The Pratt descendants compared notes on which Pratt we called 3rd great-grandfather or grandmother.
In the afternoon, we visited with my aunt Noby, who is recovering from a fall, and her son Garry. My brother from Connecticut and my sister and her husband from Missouri joined us. We have all commenced upon the area for the wedding of my brother’s granddaughter.
In the evening, the wedding of my grandniece, Brandi McCall and her groom, Allen Fry, took place at Emory & Henry College Chapel. Warm hugs for a frazzled but lovely mother of the bride, my niece Teri, and her ever calm and wryly smiling husband, Andy. I spotted sister of the bride, Cassie, at the end of a hallway sitting on the floor in her maid-of-honor dress, her high-heeled feet stretched out in front of her—typically Cassie. “These heels hurt my feet; I had to sit,” she said. Entering the sanctuary, we took seats with another niece and her family and my brother’s wife.
The groom stood tall in his Navy uniform, the bride smiled on the arm of her father, who handed her over to the groom. There were candle-lighting and vows; they kissed and strolled down the aisle, husband and wife. The bride came back for her paternal grandmother and pushed her in her wheelchair out of the sanctuary. It was all over in a hummingbird sighting! All that preparation and anxiety became history. The reception was a brief and sweet family reunion.
Wedding of Brandi and Allen.

Monday, December 22, 2014
I’m back on the trail of the “dead ones.” By mid-morning, the sun broke though the December sky laced with angel hair clouds. My husband and I drove through the valley on highway 42 snaking alongside the North Fork Holston, passing familiar cites: Tate Moore’s store (boarded up and empty), my parents’ first home after they married in 1940 (still occupied), the location of my dad’s service station, all in Broadford; Ralph Spencer’s store at Chatham Hill, now closed. Our destination: Ceres, Bethany Rd., and the Bethany United Methodist Church and cemetery. We found it! No problems!
Standing on the grounds of the church my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Waggoner, helped found in 1867,[1] I felt awestruck. It’s a plain building, erected in 1880, lacking the beauty and grace of Rich Valley Presbyterian, but nonetheless historically significant. The original church, Doak’s Chapel, built by Jacob Waggoner, Elias Repass, and Felix Buck, trustees, was replaced by this building. Stark white, two front doors, an evergreen tree next to one corner, an outhouse at the back, his and hers. 

Pulling my coat tightly around me against a cold, brisk wind, I ambled among tombstones in the cemetery. I was hoping to find the grave of Anna F. Harman Waggoner, but it was not to be. “Anna, are you here?” I whispered. Tears filled my eyes. (Why? I wonder.) Anna died so young, in 1871 at age 37 after giving birth to her ninth child. The earliest death date I could find on a tombstone was 1880. If she is there, her marker is unreadable or her grave is unmarked. I felt sure she was there, but where?
This seems to be the oldest section of the cemetery. Several unreadable tombstones dot this corner.

Later, in Marion inside the courthouse, I found a deed that helped answer a question, but also raised another one. Such was my on site research day!

[1] Bland County, Virginia, Deed Book 1: 296-97, Robert and Margaret Doak to Elias Repass, Felix Buck, and Jacob Waggoner, Trustees, 4 November 1867; County Clerk’s Office, Bland. Though the deed shows Jacob Waggoner among the original trustees of Doak’s Chapel, the history published by the Bethany UMC omits his name: “Bethany United Methodist Church, Ceres, Virginia, 1880-1980,” 100th Anniversary celebration pamphlet published by the church; digital copy sent to the author by the Bland County Historical Society, 2 July 2014.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

D. A. and America Troutman: More Children, 1880-1891

After the trauma of losing three children during 1879 and 1880, my great-grandparents Daniel and America Troutman’s next eleven years seem to have been somewhat better—in terms of more children to fill the house, anyway. About six weeks after the census taker visited their house on 2 June 1880,[1] America, or “Merky,” as she was called, gave birth on 14 July to her sixth child, a boy they named James Henry after Daniel’s father—the Henry part, anyway. This was the first of five more children that filled the emptiness left by the deaths of Clifton, Bessie, and Mary Ellen.
Two years later, on 27 September 1882, along came another boy they named Daniel Clark.[2] In January 1884, a tiny girl named Daisy Virginia was born,[3] and on 16 December 1886, my grandfather, blue-eyed Walter Clinton arrived—better know as Clint.[4] About four years later on 8 July 1891, just one month and two days before her 46th birthday, Merky gave birth to her last child a dark-haired boy named Lee Roy.[5] With all those children, I’m sure Merky’s life was beyond hectic.
Until 1887, Daniel seems to have farmed rented land,[6] perhaps never having enough money to buy his own farm.[7] During this time, they lived in Long Hollow, a section of Rich Valley.[8] Their Long Hollow house is probably the one that burned. The family story goes that when the house caught fire, Merky got herself and all the children out before flames engulfed everything. Apparently, Daniel was not home at the time. He quizzed Merky later about whether she had saved the photos, which she did not appreciate. Their lives were more important, she let him know in no uncertain terms: “There you stand with your behind as bare as a bird, and you want to know about picture albums!” Never one to mince words, Merky's temper was legendary. Daniel’s and Merky’s children told their children that their father sometimes sighed during her tirades and said, “If only I’d never crossed those mountains!”
America's parents, Nicholas and Sarah Pratt, perhaps because of the fire, decided to help. On 25 April 1887, they deeded 116 acres of land on the north side of Walker Mountain to America Troutman for the sum of $1.00.[9] On this land, Daniel and America built a new house and finished raising their children. Despite the deed being in America’s name, a 1998 topographical map of Smyth County showing the names of landowners, credits the land to D. A. Troutman. The husband, too often, gets the credit.
This is my map of Smyth County showing locations significant to the Daniel A. Troutman Family. As for distance, it's about 6 miles from Saltville to Broadford; 10 miles from Broadford to Chatham Hill; 12 miles from Chatham Hill to Ceres in Bland Co. (remember, that's where Jacob and Ann Waggoner lived); 9 miles from Chatham Hill to Marion. The Valley Rd. (610) was the road off which the Troutman's lived. Grandma Mary's family lived somewhere along the river in the vicinity of Broadford.

[1] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 158; entry for James H. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.

[2] “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www., accessed 2 December 2014), card for Daniel Clark Troutman, serial number 3142, Local Draft Board, Washington County, Virginia.

[3] 1900 U. S. census, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, Broadford Precinct, sheet 1-B, enumeration district [ED] 84, dwelling 13, family 13, Daisy Troutman; digital image ( : accessed 2 Dec. 2014); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1728.

[4] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book D1: 19; entry for Clinton Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Note: This book records the year of Clint’s birth as 1887, but all other records for him record the year as 1886. See also, “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www., accessed 2 December 2014), card for Clint Walter Troutman, serial number 261-61-A, Local Draft Board, Wayne County, Nebraska.

[5] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book D1: 47; entry for Lee Roy Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Note: Other records place Lee Roy’s birth in August instead of July of 1891: “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www., accessed 2 December 2014), card for Lee Roy Troutman, serial number 1426, Local Draft Board, Smyth County, Virginia.

[6] 1880 U.S. census, 84th District, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 84, p. 2 (penned), dwelling 32, family 32, D. A. Troutman; digital image, ( : accessed 14 August 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390. This census says occupation is “Tenant.”

[7] A search of Smyth County deeds at the courthouse in Marion, Virginia, revealed no records for him.

[8] James Henry’s 1880 birth record states that he was born in Long Hollow.

[9] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 17, p. 202, Nicholas H. Pratt and Sarah Pratt to America A. Troutman, Smyth County Courthouse, Marion, Virginia.

© 2014, Z. T. Noble.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sorting the Troutman Names: A Little Background

A little background on my paternal great-grandfather Daniel A. Troutman’s people and the place where they lived in North Carolina:*

The Piedmont, a relatively flat area between the western mountains and the eastern coastal region of North Carolina was a fine place for many early Scots-Irish and German settlers who began arriving in the mid-18th century. Attracted by fertile farm ground, abundant game, and plenty of water, Johann Melchior A Trautmann (24 Apr. 1729, Gross Gumpen, Hesse, German – before 9 Nov. 1778, Rowan Co., NC) was one of these early setters arriving about 1770. With his wife, Anna Elizabeth Heist (abt 1730 in Germany – bet 1790 and 1810 in Iredell Co. NC), and family, he first settled in Rowan County.

Melchior and Anna had four known children:

       i.         John Adam1 Troutman (28 Oct 1752, Upper Milford Township, Northampton, PA – before Mar 1797, Iredell Co., NC); married Anna Eva Kennert (abt 1775 – bet 1810-1820, Lincoln Co., NC) between 1775-1776 in Rowan County.
     ii.         Maria Catherine1 Troutman (2 Aug 1755, upper Milford Township, Northampton, PA – unknown).
    iii.         Anna Elizabeth1 Troutman (27 Sep 1761, upper Milford Township, Northampton, PA – unknown).
    iv.         John (or Johann) Jacob1 Troutman (2 Mar 1767, upper Milford Township, Northampton, PA – 18 July 1846, Iredell Co., NC); married Margaret Fesperman (1771 – 1840, Iredell Co., NC) about 1795 in Iredell Co., NC.

After Melchior’s death, Anna moved to Iredell County with her youngest son Jacob, age eleven. As an adult, Jacob began purchasing land in the vicinity of the present town of Troutman. In the mid-1850s, two of his grandsons, Sidney and Jacob Troutman, sons of John Jacob, opened a wagon making shop and created a lively business at a crossroads that became known as Troutman’s. The name stuck.

Descendants of the first Jacob Troutman call him “Jacob, the Pioneer.” Born 2 March 1767 in Upper Milford Township, Northampton, Pennsylvania on 2 March 1767 to Johann Melchior Troutman and Anna Elizabeth Heist, Jacob was the first generation born in America of German immigrants. He died 18 July 1846 and is buried in the Troutman Family Cemetery near Troutman, North Carolina.

1.   Jacob1 Troutman married Margaret Fesperman (1771-1840) about 1795; they had eight known children:

       i.         Henry2 Troutman, born 12 December 1797, near the present day town of Troutman, Iredell County; married Margaret Elizabeth Leonard (25 July 1802 – 19 Dec. 1874), 29 May 1821; died 29 July 1876, all in Iredell County. Henry was a farmer and a sheriff of Iredell County.
     ii.         John Jacob2 Troutman, born 2 Apr. 1799 and died before Dec. 1831; married about 1820 to Anne Woolford (2 Apr. 1805 – 9 May 1875), all in Iredell County, NC.
    iii.         Daniel Troutman, born about 1804 in Iredell County; died between 1850 and 1860, Crawford Co. Missouri; married about 1824 to Anna Leonard (b. about 1803).
    iv.         William2 Troutman, born about 1806 and died after June 1880; married about 1826 to Caroline Hoover (4 Jan. 1807 – abt. 1836) in Iredell County; second married Oct. 1837 to Malinda Jane Cowan (24 Feb. 1818 – 1 Nov. 1863), Iredell County; third married 9 November 1864 to Elizabeth Ann (born about 1827 in TN) in Knox, TN.
     v.         Anna2 Troutman, born about 1808, Iredell County, and died after June 1850; married Jacob Holshouser.
    vi.         Adam2 Troutman, born about 1812 and died 8 June 1852; married about 1830 to Margaret Hoover (6 Aug. 1810 – bet. 1861 and 1865), all in Iredell County.
  vii.         John Jefferson2 Troutman, born 27 June 1815 and died between 1880 and 1900; married about 1849 to Isabella Elizabeth Waugh (born about 1827), all in Iredell County.
 viii.         Absalum2 Troutman, born about 1817, died after June 1860; married about 1834 to Elizabeth “Betsy” McKee (born about 1816), all in Iredell County.

Jacob’s first born, Henry, was my great-grandfather Daniel’s father.

2.   Henry2 Troutman and Margaret Elizabeth Leonard had eleven known children. The naming of these children rather fascinates me. The oldest, Jacob, of course was named for his paternal grandfather. Henry Martin was named for his father. Robert Leonard was named for Henry’s wife’s family. Daniel Absolum was named for two of his father’s brothers. Adam and John were named for Henry’s brothers, but where they got Burette and Carmi is a mystery. A man named Theophilis Falls who lived in the area must have been such an much admired friend that Henry and Elizabeth named a son for him. As for the girls, Margaret Elizabeth, of course, was named for her mother, Anne maybe for her great-grandmother; the others are anyone’s guess. Levina seems to have been a popular name at the time, for poring over census records of that era, I’ve noticed it often.

       i.         Jacob3 Troutman (20 Dec. 1821 – 1 July 1891) first married Elizabeth Clodfelter (7 June 1827 – 24 Jan 1863) about 1847; second married Sarah Susannah Collins (2 May 1840 – 26 Jan. 1909) 11 Nov. 1863; all in Iredell County near the present town of Troutman.
     ii.         Ester (or Easter) Levina3 Troutman (7 Sep 1823 – 1865) first married John Thomas; second married Fielding Kyles, all in Iredell County.
    iii.         Henry Martin3 Troutman (14 Dec 1825 – 28 Nov 1904) first married Katherine Clodefelter (1 Mar 1827 – 19 May 1865) about 1846; second married Ellen Jane Sumroe (5 Dec 1830 – 9 May 1888) on 23 Aug 1876, all in Iredell County.
    iv.         Robert Leonard3 Troutman (22 Dec 1827 – 1918); first married Margaret Kestler ( 23 Oct 1833 – 7 Nov 1877) about 1854; second married Margaret Luticia Reynolds (Oct 1849 - ?) on 27 Nov 1879, all in Iredell County.
     v.         Margaret Elizabeth2 Troutman (28 May 1830 – Feb 1836), Iredell County.
    vi.         John Burette3 Troutman (26 Dec 1833, Iredell Co. – 24 Aug 1864, Reams Station, Petersburg, VA); married Sarah Anne Waugh (19 Dec 1835 – 31 Jan 1897) about 1857, other than John’s place of death, other events took place in Iredell County, NC.
  vii.         Daniel Absolum3 Troutman (20 July 1835, Iredell Co – 21 Mar 1918, Smyth Co., VA); married America A. Pratt (10 Sep 1845 – 4 Jan 1929, both in Smyth Co., VA) on 3 Feb 1869, Chatham Hill, Rich Valley, VA. (This one is my great-grandfather!)
 viii.         Anne Melissa3 Troutman (18 Oct 1837 – 9 Nov 1845, both in Iredell Co.)
    ix.         Adam Carmi3 Troutman (17 Feb 1841 – 13 Dec 1911); first married Barbara Lavinia Collins (7 Mar 1845 – 10 July 1895); second married Laura Christine Josey (19 Apr 1863- 1 May 1932); all in Iredell County.
     x.         Sarah Jane3 Troutman (6 July 1843 – 11 May 1896); married Samuel Leander Tays (27 May 1828 – 17 Jun 1895), date unknown; all in Iredell Co.
    xi.         Theophilis Falls3 Troutman (13 Apr 1849 – 26 Oct 1935) married Charlotte Teresa Ann Bustle (10 Feb 1851 – 8 Jul 1923) on 26 Dec 1971, all in Iredell Co.

*This information can be found in Descending Jacob’s Ladder, compiled and edited by Thomas L. Troutman. The children of Jacob Troutman are all named in his will, and a transcription of the record of the division of the estate, from Deed Book X, page 495, Iredell County, NC, is published in the book on pages 47 and 48. Also, I have a copy of this deed in my possession.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Daniel A. and America Troutman: First Eleven Years of Marriage

In 1869, Grandpa Clint’s father, Daniel Absolum Troutman, was a newcomer to Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia. The story goes that he drove a herd of horses from Iredell County, North Carolina, to sell in Virginia, probably in 1868. Now that’s a long way across a difficult mountainous terrain to drive horses, but that’s the story. By this time, Daniel was 33 years old and had been through three years of the horrors Civil War battlefields, not to mention a Yankee prison, so maybe the difficulties seemed minor.

In Virginia, he met and apparently fell in love with America Ann Pratt, the 23-year-old daughter of Nicholas and Sarah (Thomas) Pratt, long time residents of the valley. Family lore says he wrote to his parents that she was the “Flower of the Valley of Virginia.” Daniel and America were married at Chatham Hill on 3 February 1869.[1]

After they married, the family story goes, Daniel took America by horse and buggy to North Carolina to meet his parents. When they arrived at the Troutman home place, he drove the buggy around the house whooping and hollering to announce their arrival. His family members ran outside and joined in the merriment, shouting their greetings to the groom and his bride. America was taken aback by the outburst and the lack of dignity.

She was unhappy in North Carolina, so Daniel took her back to the valley of her birth where their first child, a daughter they named Laura Estelle, was born in February 1870.[2] They called her Stelle. Less than two years later, a little boy, John William, was born on 23 December 1871. They called him Bud.[3] The third child was another boy, Clifton P., born 22 June 1874.[4] Child number four was a girl named Sarah Bessie J., born 10 January 1877.[5] Next came Mary Ellen 12 November 1878.[6]

The next year, tragedy struck twice. Five-year-old Clifton and baby Mary Ellen fell ill and died of flux, a common name for dysentery. Mary Ellen succumbed on 15 September 1879[7] and thirteen days later, Clifton died.[8] If that wasn’t tragedy enough, the following spring, Bessie fell ill with diphtheria and died on 6 April 1880.[9] Daniel and America had been through more than their share of sadness.

The 1880 census taken that summer lists D. A. (age 41), America A. (age33), Stella (age 10), and John W. (age 7). They can all read and write. Daniel’s occupation was “Tenant,” which probably means tenant farmer. Sadly and starkly absent from the list are three names: Clifton, Bessie, and Mary Ellen.[10]
Dates of birth and death on this tombstone differ from birth and death records at the Smyth County Courthouse. In the text, I have used the dates found in court house records, which evidence shows to be more accurate. This new tombstone was added in the 1950s by James Henry Troutman, a brother born after these three children died.

[1] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Marriages, Book 1: 30, D. A. Troutman and America A. Pratt, 3 Feb. 1869.
[2] 1900 U. S. census, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, Broadford Precinct, p. 119 (stamped), enumeration district [ED] 84, sheet 10-A, dwelling 166, family 167, Estella Worley, digital image ( : accessed 10 August 2014); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1728. This census tells the month and year of Estella’s birth, and place as Virginia; the exact day is uncertain. Apparently, Daniel and America apparently never reported Estella’s birth at the courthouse, for it is not recorded in Smyth County. Negative searches also resulted online of Virginia Births and Christenings, 1853-1917, on Family Search and of Smyth County Virginia Births on Ancestry. An online search of records from Washington and Bland Counties was also negative.
[3] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 62, No Name Troutman (male), Dec. 1871. This birth was reported by N. H. Pratt, the baby’s maternal grandfather.
[4] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 112, entry for Clifton P. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[5] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 133, entry for S. B. J. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[6] Smyth County, Virginia, “Register of Births, Book 1”: 141, entry for Mary Ellen Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[7] Smyth County, Virginia, “Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896”: 141, entry for Mary E. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Records conflict regarding Mary’s cause of death. The courthouse record states, flux; the Mortality Schedule states dysentery, which is crossed out, and above it is written Hydrocephalus.
[8] Smyth County, Virginia, “Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896”: 52, entry for Clifton P. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[9] “U. S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885,” database image, ( : accessed 24 February 2014), Bessie Troutman, April 1880. Also, Smyth County, Virginia, Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896: 54, entry for Sarah B. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Also, “Virginia Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917,” database ( : accessed 24 February 2014), Sarah B. Troutman, 6 April 1880. On the mortality schedule, diphtheria is crossed out and above it is written dysentery; the Smyth County Death Book states cause of death as diphtheria.; the index does not state a cause of death.
[10] 1880 U.S. census, 84th District, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 84, p. 2 (penned), dwelling 32, family 32, D. A. Troutman; digital image, ( : accessed 14 August 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390.

© 2014, Z. T. Noble