Monday, May 13, 2013

Changes With Writing a True Book

I've taken a short break from writing the last week or so.  Just to think, mainly.  I've changed the format of the book now twice, and wondering if I need to change it again.

This is a hard book to write for the main reason I am a character in the story, but not the important character.  I am the narrator, yes.  But I feel I need to write about the changes I, as the author, went through in writing the book.

There were periods when I walked away from the story and thought I was crazy for even trying to take on this task.

Then there was a time when I suffered a major depression that lasted for months.  During that time, I thought a lot about my mother and the years she was sick, both physically and spiritually, when I was a child.  Had I inherited this?  My doctors thought it possible.

I remembered then, for maybe the first time, that my father had also been depressed.  Just in a different way.  He was the breadwinner, the workaholic, and also the alcoholic.  And I remember the times of his depression that I didn't recognize as depression.

Part of my family history caused my father's depression, his behavior that few people understood.  

The book, in its present state, is in my opinion 100 percent better than the first draft, which is usually the case with any first draft.  But as I get closer to the end now, the third edit, here I am wondering if I should have written about my journey through this book.  Is it important?

I don't see myself writing a memoir about my life.  This is the book, here and now.  What goes into it is THE book.

I may write my mother's family history book.  Not sure.  I feel I owe it to her.  It would be way different than this Dean book.  Her family history is so different, and the research has already been done by one of Mom's cousins years ago.  I've got the Leeds family back to the 1600s.  

However, today, I'm editing the Deans through the 1900s, telling my grandmother's story, my father and aunts and uncles.  Recent stuff.  I'm alive finally and part of the story.

How much do I tell of what I saw?  Who really wants to know?  Do I keep this clean and happy?  Is that what my family wants to read?

I knew I would get to this point.  This part is easier to edit because I don't need as much research into the timeline events.  I knew what was happening in the world and my own community.  I can paint those word pictures.  But then there's the hard part.

I always knew I'd reach this decision crossroad.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fan Chart Awesomeness

I am in love with the new, improved Family  

How awesome is the fan chart for my father?  

In the past, I've found, when I'm up against that brick wall, go to Family Search and try again.  This is how I found my 2nd Great Grandmother's ship passage from France to the U.S.  

I am a fan!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Am I Working On Wednesday?

Borrowing this blog post title from National Archives site.

Researching today, and past two days, transportation in Appalachia Kentucky in the 1880s.  Should finish this up today.

When an ancestor moves a significant distance, as my great grandfather John Dean did in 1885, it's natural to wonder how that ancestor got there.  Remember, no automobiles.  The choices:

  • Horse and wagon  
  • Horseback.
  • Train, steam engine
  • River, flat boats, barges, steamboats

The 1870's initiated a new era in Kentucky's transportation history. Closer markets, cheaper goods, and expanded shopping facilities combined to produce the "Age of Railroading." Between 1870 and 1900 railway mileage tripled. The Louisville & Nashville, Mobile & Ohio, Illinois Central, Cincinnati-Southern, Chesapeake & Ohio and Norfolk & Western plus a host of intrastate lines vied with each other in various regions of the state... No state highway system existed in Kentucky, and the counties had the responsibility for highway construction and maintenance. These roads, many of which were toll pikes, were so poor that residents traveled them only as a last resort; the era of better highways in Kentucky awaited the coming of the automobile.  
The railroad greatly altered the lifestyles of all but the most isolated Kentuckians by stimulating the industrial development of the state.~

I'm thinking the combination of riverboat and train, including a little walking in between, is how a lot of the people traveled in the 1880s.

John, age 20, was traveling from Orangeburg, Kentucky, the last home he lived in with his parents, to Casey County, Kentucky, 134 miles south.

What did he do there?  He married his first wife.

Fifteen years later, he married my Great Grandmother Nellie.  My Grandfather Frank was three years old by the time John got the divorce from Delila, his first wife.

And so started the life of my rogue Grandfather Frank Dean.

What I'm wondering today is, when John traveled to Casey County in 1885, did he ask to borrow the family horse and buggy from his father Elisha?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Free eBooks From Memoir Writer's Blog

Denis Ledoux's Memoir Writer's Blog is celebrating his new blog's look by giving away some good ebooks.  I just downloaded mine and will be reading tonight!  Get yours free before Friday midnight by clicking link below.

Free ebooks on Smashwords & a Giveaway
Posted by Denis Ledoux
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Perhaps you didn’t know that here at The Memoir Network, we have seven available titles at Smashwords. What’s even better is that these titles are *FREE* for you until April 19. It’s our gift to you! But don’t worry if you’ve missed the free offer; these will still available after this offer at a small fee.
I love getting things free, especially books that inspire and help me write better.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From River Town to Appalachia and Back

Covered Bridge in Fleming County
Courtesy of

1880 Fleming County  

Elisha and Betsey have moved again, to Fleming County, the small town of Muses Mill, once again in Appalachia. As before, I still assume this move was because of the opportunity for better land.,_Kentucky

Mason County, where they'd moved from, though only one county away, isn't considered part of Appalachia, while Morgan and Fleming Counties both are.  I think I can safely say my Dean family was Appalachian, coming from Rockingham, Virginia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky.  During all of these moves, they would have traveled by horse and covered wagon, or ox or mule and wagon, transporting what meager possessions they were able to take with them.    

On the Muses Mill farm, John, now 18, is helping his father tend the fields.  His sister, Mary, is age 20 and still living at home.  Older brother James, 27, is now head of his own household, living either next-door or in a different dwelling on the same farm, with his wife Sarah and their two-year-old son, Elisha, most certainly named after his grandfather.

Not surprisingly, one of the Martin families lives next door to the Deans in Muses Mill.   B. William Martin, age 45, wife Jane, 38, and children, Rebecca, Nancy, and Mary.  I am obsessed with finding the Martin - Dean connection.  I know there's one there, and I'm betting it's Elisha's mother, Elizabeth. 

An additional family member, Leander Dean, is living with Elisha and Betsey now and is listed as their “son.” However, I found him on the 1850 Census for Maury County, Tennessee when he was two months old, living with his parents, Josiah and Siann Dean. I know this is the same Leander because Josiah and Siann are living next door to “Green” Dean, good old Greenberry who we've come across earlier.  

Both Green and Josiah were born in Maury County, and I'm wondering if Elisha was born there as well.  Are they brothers?  If they are, then Leander is Elisha's nephew, and I can see where he might be staying there in Muses Mill, maybe helping to work the farm.  I believe they are all related.

20 Years Later: Back in Mason County

Most of Kentucky's 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire, so I was unable to track the location of Elisha and Betsey and their family during this time.  At least for now.

Elisha is now 75 years old and widowed, though I don't know when Betsey died, and he lives back in Mason County, Magisterial District Eight, which is Orangeburg, again.  He's living with son, James, and daughter-in-law Sarah, or "Sadie, and they now have two more children, Sudie, age 12, and David, age 5. Elisha, who would now be 22, is not present in the home. I found him in 1910 in Chicago with his wife Agnes and three children, Daisy, Beatrice, and Violette.  He moved from Illinois to Madison, Indiana, later, where he died on September 18, 1958.

Elisha Edward Dean, Chicago, Illinois
1879 Kentucky -1958 Indiana
My 1st Cousin, Twice Removed

Also missing from the family now is John, my great grandfather, who I found moved to Cincinnati about this same time.  He probably wasn't cut out to be a farmer.

After 1900, there are no records for the senior Elisha, including death information. I assume he and Betsey are laid to rest in Orangeburg, or somewhere else in Mason County. 

Over the last year, I've met online some of the descendants of the grandson Elisha (pictured above), and we compare notes to try to climb farther up the family tree. 

I’ve also communicated with some Martins and Jenkins “cousins,” trying to solve some of the mysteries.

I see a Volume 2 possibly in my future. 

For now, though,  I’m ready to publish what I have managed to excavate out of a very large genealogical mountain.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Great Grandfather John: The Deans of Orangeburg

Elisha Dean, 1827, Tennessee m. Betsey Jenkins, 1824, North Carolina
John T. Dean, about 1865, Orangeburg Kentucky

In 1865, Elisha and Betsey moved from Appalachian Morgan County to Orangeburg, the birthplace of my Great Grandfather John Dean.

In June 2012, we visited this tiny town in Mason County, Kentucky, on a mission to find gravestones of my Dean ancestors.  Unfortunately, all we found were neglected, ancient spots in a dense woods and a few broken, unreadable stones.

While this sign points the way, there was no cemetery.  Where it had been was a neglected wasteland.

Orangeburg is 62.7 miles from Cincinnati, traveling Highway 52 East.  Looking at the map, there seems to be no other way to get there, after taking exit #71 off I-275-E, going towards New Richmond.  After reaching Maysville, the county seat, it’s only seven miles to Orangeburg, coming in on Highway 10.  

Maysville, the Big City

Maysville and Aberdeen separated by the Ohio River.
Kentucky Digital Library

Maysville is a River town, and on the opposite bank lies Aberdeen, Ohio. Two different bridges now connect the two towns, but there was no bridge until 1931.  Before that Ferries ran across the river between Aberdeen and Maysville.

The move from Morgan County to Orangeburg

This really is a little town

The trip from Morgan County to Maysville is 72 miles, and then to Orangeburg another seven miles, over the Orangeburg Road.  In 1865, those miles stretched more than double they do now.   What we can drive in just a little over an hour, took at least a day by horse and buggy, or stagecoach.  I doubt any of the Deans walked to Orangeburg.

Courtesty of Northern Kentucky Views

The 1870 Census shows John at age five and his brother James age 18 and Mary age 16.  James is farming with his father, and Mary is “at home,” meaning she is not in school and probably sharing the domestic duties with her mother and helping to run the house.  Not many schools existed at this point in history, and Kentucky was one of the slowest states in getting public schools up and running.  Some of this was due to misuse of funds.  The government allocated the money, but it was always spent on what was considered more important at the time.

The earliest schools were actually tuition based, meaning only the privileged children were eligible.  The early free public schools were the one-room type with the wood stove in the middle of the room.  Most kids attended barefoot. Even as late as the 1940s, and some even up until 1960s in Appalachia, the one-room schoolhouses still operated.

The census shows Elisha’s birth date as 1821, which is six years earlier than first stated.  He and Betsey were ages 44 and 41 when John was born.

1870 United States Federal Census about Elisha Dean
Name: Elisha Dean
Age in 1870: 49
Birth Year: abt 1821
Birthplace: Tennessee
Home in 1870: Orangeburg, Mason, Kentucky
Race: White
Gender: Male
Post Office: Orangeburg
Name Age
Elisha Dean 49
Elizabeth Dean 46
James Dean 18
Mary Dean 16
John Dean 5

I wonder if my great grandfather as a little boy enjoyed the river and the boats coming and going, like most boys his age.

On the river near Maysville
Courtesy of North Kentucky Views

 I know hardly anything about my great grandfather, no family stories or facts.  I don’t remember Grandma ever saying anything about her father-in-law.

Was he a heavy drinker like his son, my grandfather Frank?  What kind of man was he?

I think I can answer that question in Chapter 7, at least as far as his character as a husband and father are concerned.

And then I wonder about Elisha, John’s father.  I like to think of Elisha as a decent guy.  I know he was a farmer, meaning he did not work in the coal mines like many Kentucky mountain men. I know a lot of farmers here in my little community in Tennessee, and they're well respected.

 I don’t think Elisha was a sharecropper because the family owned farm land in 1850, in Morgan County.

I guess, like so many farmers in that time period, Elisha was in search of better land.  A better place to make a home for his family.  First the family left Tennessee for Kentucky, and now he moves to another farm quite a distance away for those times.

I wonder if he bought land in Orangeburg and had to build a cabin on it, or if there was a dwelling already on the land.

I sure wish I had an ancestor still living who knew the answers to my questions, who could show me pictures of the people and places I write about.  But I have to simply use my imagination along with the facts I dig up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Betsey Jenkins Dean

Solomon Jenkins, 1796, & Laney Ellis, 1799, North Carolina
Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins, 1824, North Carolina
Married Elisha Dean about 1850

It took me a long time to find Betsey. I’d been searching for Betsey “Judkins,” the name my great grandfather, John Dean, gave on his marriage license for his mother.  When every search led to Betsey Jenkins, I had to give up for a while.  This was just too hard.

 To make it worse, I had knee surgery with the attendant pain drugs and rehab for seven weeks. My body doesn’t handle drugs like it used to, and I really slipped into a depression. The book just sat there for two whole months.

I finally got over the surgery, and when the drugs were out of my system, I returned to work, writing just a little each day, and soon I found the link that pulled Betsey's family together, and I learned she was really Betsey Jenkins Dean.

I feel like I know Betsey well now, having lived with her for nearly a year, tracing her family as far back as I can, and reading many early accounts of life for these 1700-1800s pioneers, especially in this part of the country, Pennsylvania to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Kentucky. I can’t find adequate words to describe the impact this reading has had on me.

I wanted to know about the journey Betsey’s family took from North Carolina to Tennessee and on to Kentucky, and I found an account that gave me a whole new perspective on my ancestors' lives.

An essay of what it might have been like for a wife and mother 200 years ago, what might have gone on in her mind:

Johnny is decided. I reckon I have but one choice and it ain't an easy one."He says we have no choice, that we have to move on west and that now is the time to do it. There is land waiting in Tennessee he says, land that can be ours. He says any citizen of North Carolina now has a right to what ain't taken. He says there is nothin here for us anymore, and I am reckoning that is right too. But my heart is twisting in the inside of me and that is so as well.
I got three babies buried out back there to leave behind…"And taint no sense dwellin' on it. I know good and well could be none of us gonna make it, and for sure, if we stayed here neither there ain't no guarantee ...whole families I watched wiped out by first one thing and then the other. Caint vouch that the natives won't get us, nor a sickness, nor bad water, nor a piece of bad blood waiting to ambush us on the trail. Cain't vouch that river won't get us, have heard about that river and the places in it. Cain't vouch how long what supplies we have will last, nor for sure we can get more. Caint vouch for nothin much at all, 'cept Johnny is right.
Ain't nothin much for us here, gettin less and less all the time, and what of our babies make it, if any of em do, well they will have a better chance for it. They may can own their own land this way, get by easier in the world once that place is settled in. Maybe they can have things someday me and Johnny never dreamed of. But it shorely is a high price to pay. It shorely is.
And I reckon I'll follow Johnny even if my heart is twisting and bleedin' inside of me to where I don't know how I am gonna keep on keepin on. Johnny is decided and I reckon he is right. ~ Pioneer Migration from North Carolina to Tennessee By Jan Philpot,

These early settlers either walked or went by horse and wagon, likely crossing the Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap

The Jenkins Family in Wilkes County

Betsey’s family history goes back a long, long way, on her mother’s side. Possibly all the way back to Wales, but I haven’t verified that yet. Her parents, Solomon Jenkins and Laney Ellis were both born in North Carolina and lived in Wilkes County, where I presume Betsey was born.

Wilkes County, formed in 1777, sprawls over the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Wilkes County in the upper left corner, #1777, close to the Tennessee State Line

An 18-year-old Solomon Jenkins, Betsey's father,  is described on the Army Register of Enlistments during the War of 1812 as a five-foot, eight-inch tall boy with grey eyes, light colored hair, and a fair complexion.

North Carolina Census, 1790-1890
CollectionName: Solomon Jenkin
State: NC
County: Warren County Regiment
Township: Seventh Company
Year: 1812
Database: NC 1812-1814
Muster Rolls Jenkins Sololmon |3rd Regt. |7th Co. |Detached From The Warren Regt   

Since his birth place is stated on the above document as Richmond County North Carolina, I searched and found the first tax list after the establishment of Richmond County, where a “William Jenkins, 260” is listed.  I can't imagine that is two hundred sixty dollars.  Maybe acres, or the lot number of his land.

Then an Census record shows William Jenkins in 1795, a year before Solomon’s approximated birth, in Richmond County.

Possibly William is the father of Solomon. I can’t verify this, but genealogy is like good wine. The longer it sits and ages, the more answers are revealed, making it a fine vintage.

Continuing my research, I found Solomon in the 1840 Census in Capt. Wellborn’s District in Wilkes County. Evidently, districts were named after their army captains.

The census records before 1850 don’t list all the members of the household by name and birth date, but only the head of household’s name and how many people in separate age groups live in the home, including how many slaves. I was happy that Solomon had no slaves, just nine white children of various ages.

My next find was an interesting one involving Laney. She is mentioned in the will of her father, Willis Ellis, who died after Laney got married and became a Jenkins. She is referred to as “Lany Genkens.” Obviously the spelling is a little off there.

The will is dated January 28, 1851, and recorded in Wilkes County. According to this document, Willis left his sons Thomas and Carter Ellis, and daughter Lany Genkens one dollar each, so they probably received their part of the estate before his death. Nothing is mentioned about his other children. Could be that Thomas, Carter and Laney were the only ones who’d gotten married and left home.

The Jenkins of Morgan County, Kentucky

I didn't know Betsey's family moved to Morgan County when I wrote the first draft of the book.  I only knew they were from North Carolina.  Then I read online where researchers on several Wilkes County forums posted that Solomon and Laney came to Morgan County from Wilkes County between 1846 and 1849 and remained in Morgan County until they died.

The Jenkins family is first mentioned in the 1850 Census for Morgan County, just like the Deans, and of course Betsey is living with Pleasant Martin's family on that census, next door to the Deans, and 10 years later on the 1860 census living with the Deans, as covered in an earlier chapter.  Or as they say, the rest is history.  And in this case it really is.