Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Current Adventures: Finding Old Documents and Tombstones

Besides the trip to Harman land, which I wrote about last week, additional exciting happenings occurred on my recent vacation.

Just to remind you, a while back, I wrote about meeting my third cousin on the Troutman/Pratt side, Hal Campbell, who showed me the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church’s session minutes dating back to 1836. He let me copy a few pages relating to the Troutman history. Since then, Hal and I have talked several times about the importance of those minutes to genealogists and family historians. Not long after seeing the minutes, I learned (on good old Facebook) that the Smyth-Bland Regional Library was digitizing many historical documents from Smyth County.[1] Immediately, I contacted the person on that project and told her about the session minutes.  She was definitely interested.

Finally, on Wednesday of my recent trip, I met with Hal, got the session minutes and took them to the library. Now the ball is in the library’s court to get the records digitized and indexed. I can hardly wait!

But that’s not all. Hal produced a bonus document. He had found a ledger for a country store in Rich Valley owned by F. G. Buchanan dating back to 1905-06. Entries were arranged alphabetically, so I quickly found names from my Troutman and the Waggoner families.

Dated Dec. 4, 1904 - Dec. 29, 1906, this shows Mrs. Troutman's purchases; this was most likely America Troutman. The only other "Mrs. Troutman" would have been John W. Troutman's wife, Jennie, America's daughter-in-law.
Dated Sept. 3, 1902 - Dec. 31, 1903, Eli Waggoner's purchases and payments. Eli was my paternal grandmother, Mary Waggoner's father.
May 6 - Oct 4, 1905, Emory Waggoner's purchases and payments.

1905-06, Gordon Waggoner's purchases and payments.

1906-07, Mrs. Waggoner's purchases and payments. This would be Rachel Waggoner, wife of Eli and mother of Emory and Gordon--and my grandmother Mary. Notice that  my Mary's name is associated with two of the purchases. Looks as if Rachel sent Mary to the store for her. I'm sorry that this one is blurry. Didn't get it focused well.
Another one of the goals for this trip was to see the cemetery where Andrew Hayes was buried, so that's what we did the next day, Thursday, July 9. We met Shannon, owner of the land on which the Shannon Cemetery rests. Matching names are a coincidence--one of many odd and uncanny happenings in Shannon's experience. She had ghost stories to tell. 

With the baaing of penned sheep in the background, we hiked across a foot bridge and through a steep pasture shared by Shannon's Lipizzan horses. At the top of the hill we found the cemetery. Although it was as full of brambles as the Harman Cemetery from Tuesday's outing, Shannon had cleared a path to Andrew Hayes' grave. Sad to say, in a winter storm, a tree had fallen on it and broken off another chunk. Shannon still hopes to find the first missing broken piece and repair the whole thing.
Shannon's Lipizzans, looking down the hill at them.
A cleared portion of Shannon Cemetery. Andrew and Martha Hayes tombstone is third from left.
View going back to the house, across the bridge. Sheep are under the pink roof.
Shannon and I are a bit windblown. Shannon is a wonder woman. She built the bridge; she's remodeling the house; she takes care of the horses and the sheep; she mows the pasture, she's going to clear the cemetery; not to mention that she has two children and a husband. And, she researches family history. ( I don't know why she mows the pasture when she has sheep and horses to eat it.)
Last but not least, on Thursday evening, Myron and I had a relaxing meal at Cracker Barrel in Abingdon with Find A Grave friend, Barry L. Seitz--talking about cemeteries and such. Didn't get a picture of Barry's Santa beard.

[1] To explore Smyth-Bland Regional Library's digital collection, go to and click on S-B Digital Collection, top of left column.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Current Adventures: Walking Where My Ancestors Walked

Once in a while, I feel the need to digress from the past and write about current activities. This is one of those times. I've been on a research adventure.

One of the great benefits of writing this blog has been the wonderful people who have contacted me with additional information or questions regarding my blog entries. Last January, the lovely and gracious Tina Kiehn of The Quarter Way Inn, Nebo, Virginia, messaged me that she thought she lived on the property of my Harman ancestors.

Then when I wrote about Andy Hayes, my Find A Grave friend, Barry L. Seitz, contacted me that Andy's memorial,  complete with photo of the tombstone, had just been added to the web site--the day before I posted my blog! How spooky is that! Immediately, I contacted Shannon Simpson, the person who created the memorial.

Another person who has helped me with my Waggoner research is Ann Beardshall of the Bland County Historical Society. And a recent contact is Kitt Slusser Edwards, an enthusiastic Harman researcher and distant cousin who invited me to join a Facebook group, The Descendants of Heinrich Adam Harman, which has been immensely interesting.

My travel goal this week has been to meet these wonderful people.  My long-suffering husband agreed to tag along. First we met Ann at the old jail in Bland where the historical society has its office. Ann has written several books about places and events in Bland County, and I bought one, The Lynching of Ivy Jackson, February 5, 1885--nothing to do with my family, but so interesting. Ann showed us the dark and hard looking cells of the jail, tiny cells with two metal bunks and a toilet, barely room to turn around. As far as I know, none of my ancestors spent time there, but you never know. We talked for about two hours.
Bland County Historial Society and form jail in Bland, Virginia. (Photo by ZTN)

At The Quarter Way Inn, Tina and Bret met us with open arms. What a thrill to be on the grounds where my great-great-grandmother, Anna Harman, played as a girl; where her father, Henry Harman, also played and worked, where he brought his wife, Fanny Brown, where he raised his family, and lived his life; and where Anna's grandfather, Mathias Harman, also lived and died at age 32 from injuries in 1802 when his horse ran between two trees somewhere on this land. The land was in the Harman name for well over 100 years.

Land formerly owned by 4x great-grandfather, Mathias Harman (1769-1802) and his son Henry Harman (1797-1878). House built about 1900, not the original, of course. (Photo by ZTN)

This ancient tree, however, has seen many generations of the Harman family come and go. (Photo by ZTN)
Tina showed me the deeds she had copied from court house records of Mathias Harman's land grant, transfer of the land to his children, and a plat map showing the division of the property after Mathias' grandson, Hezekiah Harman died. We pored over the plat sketch. The next day I went to the court house and got copies for myself.

Plat map showing the division of the property formerly owned by Hezekiah Harmon, Anna's brother and son of Henry, 1924. The Quarter Way Inn is located in the portion slightly above and right of middle along the curved road where it says "house." Tap to see larger image.
An additional treat at the Quarter Way Inn was that we were joined by two Harman cousins, 5th cousin, Kitt Slusser, and her mother Cathy Light, 4th cousin once removed.
Myron and I with Harman cousins, Cathy and Kitt. (Photo by Tina Keihn)
Tina became our tour guide around the property, which included a trip to the much overgrown Harman Cemetery. We really couldn't see much, but we hacked our way into it enough to find a few tombstones. A clean up crew needs to be organized. 
Tina opens the gate to the cemetery.
Tina hacks a path for us through the blackberries.
We found one!
This one we cleared enough to read.
And that was only the first day of our adventure.