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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Right Under Your Nose, or at Least, Your Fingertips!

Dickey Family about 1909
In Back: Cyprian
In Front l to r: Burnie, Jennie, Audrey, Marion, and my grandmother Alys

THANK YOU, Lisa Louise Cooke!

I woke up a little early to noodle around with my genealogy, and saw I had a new Genealogy Gems podcast to listen to (episode 197). As I made the coffee, I was listening to Lisa talk about how she had found the exact marriage date for her great-grandparents, a fact that had eluded her for several years. She had searched in depth, found nothing, and set it aside. She finished the segment by encouraging listeners to try again on a tough problem.

Well, I too had a set of great-grandparents with a mystery marriage. I actually had the date, but I had never been able to find the civil record. I had come to the private conclusion that perhaps a marriage hadn't even taken place...

I was wrong. Following Lisa's advice, I sat down with my coffee and loaded up FamilySearch. I typed in "Marion Dickey" and "Sarah Jane Reck", and clicked on marriages, with the dates from 1890-1900. I didn't specify a location.
Screenshot of FamilySearch showing my great-grandparents' marriage
I was dumbstruck. I had spent a good chunk of 1994 mailing (with stamps) letters (on paper) to nearly a dozen counties where I thought the marriage could have occurred. This couple lived in both western Ohio and eastern Indiana so I concentrated in that area. I included a SASE (you kids even know what that is?) to ensure a reply, and I kept all those. I saw the above record came from Randolph County, Indiana, and I was curious as to whether or not I had tried that one.  Guess what?
"We're sorry. We have no idea what you are talking about."
I had given them the exact date. The exact woman's name. The correct man's surname with what would be a matching middle initial. Seriously?

So, 22 years after receiving word that my great-grandparents were not in the index in Randolph County, Indiana, I present to you their marriage record:
Francis M. Dickey married Jennie Reck on April 3rd, 1896 in Randolph County, Indiana, courtesy of
I found this record in less than one minute, drinking coffee, before 7 a.m. on a work day. How sweet is that? Thanks again to Lisa Louise Cooke for her great podcasts and encouragements!

P.S.: I love this record because my dad told me that Marion (his grandfather) was named after the Revolutionary War figure Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. I have seen NO records that show his first name being Francis, until today.

I'm doing the happy dance! Now, go looking for something YOU had given up on.

Monday, October 31, 2016

All's Quiet On the Blogging Front; or, How Much Can One Genealogist Actually Accumulate? Don't Ask.

I haven't been posting much lately, but happily not for lack of genealogy. I've been in overdrive on several projects, and want to share a few with you.
Gravestone of my 5th great-grandmother Elizabeth Hill Grinter; part of my ongoing digital organization project

The Great Software Changeover

It was announced late last year that the Family Tree Maker software that I have used in some form or another for 20 years was no longer going to be supported. Like many others, I was at first unhappy with this sea change that was being forced upon me. I decided, upon the recommendation of many bloggers and podcasters, to switch to RootsMagic. Rootsmagic had the business savvy to offer a good deal to new users when Ancestry made their announcement.

My software stayed in the box for several months until I decided how I was going to handle things. I'll admit, I had been entering stuff in Family Tree Maker (FTM) willy-nilly for years. Sourceless, unsubstantiated stuff. I'll even admit to having just a few "Ancestry Family Tree" sources in there. Just a few though! With over 17,000 people in my database, I needed to make some changes.

I finally decided that I was going to do my own form of the Genealogy Do-Over begun two years ago by Thomas MacEntee, creator of the excellent Geneabloggers community.  Rather than throw everything out the window as he suggests, I decided to start with a clean slate. Not import data over from FTM, even though RootsMagic made that incredibly easy for us converts, but rather start with me. Type in my name. And source EVERYTHING.

Do you have ANY idea how tedious this was at first?

I was bogged down in the beginning with the learning curve of the new software. Once I grew accustomed to it, things sped up considerably. But now the task of proving every. Single. Thing. How did I know my own birthday? My parents' wedding day? Could I prove my grandparents were really my grandparents? For someone working mainly in the 1700s, these seemed so...almost trivial? Of course I know when my parents got married. I am fortunate enough to still be able to ask them. But that is not exactly proof.

So, I have been gathering birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records. Censuses. Probate. One eye-opener for me was realizing that all the documents I had linked to in Ancestry needed to be downloaded. I had not actually saved the documents themselves, only links to them.

RootsMagic promises that by the end of 2016, I will be able to sync my data in their program with my Ancestry family tree. When that happens, I will add a second RootsMagic database where I import it ALL. Until then, I am quietly chipping away at what I am calling my Fact Tree.

Which brings me to my second big project of late:

Digital Organization

There has been much talk of this lately in genealogy blogs. I purchased Drew Smith's excellent book, "Organize Your Genealogy" which came out this summer. This isn't strictly about digital organization but goes into it and was the catalyst for much discussion.

I had already followed the framework for my digital files suggested by Lisa Louise Cook in her free genealogy podcast, Family History: Genealogy Made Easy. It makes sense to me, and I have been able to find any file I need without racking my brain.

My digital organization project has included setting up a consistent naming system for my files. To maintain this consistency, I had to write myself an Evernote note with templates on how I name everything. I have used this so many times!

Now I have (most) of my existing digital files organized, I have to attack the files and binders full of 26 years or more of my old-school paper research.  I love having the ability to pull up documents from anywhere on any device via Google drive and Evernote. I want to be able to do that with all my papers. Oh, and don't forget the photos. Sigh.

Ongoing Research

Finally, I have been continuing to do some onsite research for my Hilyard line. Most recently my cousin and I visited the Allen County Public Library. The last time I was there was 1997. I honestly didn't recognize the place. One librarian said they had a complete makeover about 10 years ago. We were there all day (and part of the evening as they had Midnight Madness going on) and I doubt if we even scratched the surface of what they have.
My 15 minutes of fame: a book I donated in 1997!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Writing a Research Report; or the Story of How We Didn't Really Find Out Anything, Part Two

We only spent a short while at the Allen County Museum as time was running short. I wish we had more time to really look it over. One exhibit we did stop to look at was this:

An original Conestoga wagon; perhaps the Hilyards used a similar one on their trip from Pennsylvania to Ohio

Informational placard

Once we were home, I recorded all the information in my research report as follows:

  1. LAND RECORDS--Abstract Records: if you have the physical description of property, you can follow all the transactions for it on one page. Jeremiah Sr.'s land is found under
           NE Quarter, Section 22, Township 3 South, Range 5 East
a. The deed I had without a source was from the State of Ohio to Jeremiah Hillyard. This is found in Book 60, p. 195. The deed is dated 30 Mar 1850, but was not recorded until 12 Feb 1890. WHY THEN?
b. The next transaction for the land was from the Adminstrator of Jeremiah Hilyard (Jr., though it doesn't specify this) to John Hilyard dated 28 Feb 1878, recorded 11 Mar 1878.
Detail: Joseph Brenneman was the administrator of Jeremiah Hilyard Jr. Joseph was married to Jeremiah Jr.'s sister Nancy. Jeremiah Jr. was entitled to 1/7 of the land, which seems to have never been probated. Jeremiah Jr.'s administrator sold the estate's undivided share to John Hilyard so he could proceed with Jr.'s probate.
c. Noah Hilyard and wife Lorena granted a quit claim deed to John Hilyard for his 1/7 part of the land. Deed dated 2 Jan 1878, recorded 4 Mar 1878.
d. Next, the Auditor of Allen County granted the land to John Hilyard, deed dated 5 Aug 1879, recorded 6 Aug 1879.
Detail: the property had delinquent taxes, interest, and penalties for 1874, simple taxes for 1875, and is listed for taxation under the name Jerry Hillyard (38 acres). The land was advertised for sale. Peter Remlinger bid $15.87 (the amount due on the property), and paid this to the treasurer. More than two years elapsed and the land was not redeemed by Remlinger. John Hilyard produced the certificate of sale duly assigned to him along with a survey of the land. The auditor of Allen County granted the land to John Hilyard on 5 Aug 1879.
e. Sidney Hilyard (widow of John) deeded a quit claim to John's children Phoebe Baumgardner, Laura Bowers, Ira Hilyard, John M. Hilyard, and Clarence C. Hilyard. Deed dated 14 Feb 1914, recorded 28 Apr 1914.
  1. PROBATE RECORDS--We felt a double check of Jeremiah Jr. probate packet was needed. It ordered Jeremiah Sr.'s land to be sold to get Jr.'s 1/7 interest in it subject to the dower of Mary Neeley (Sr.'s widow). Dates on outside of packet note where all items are recorded.
**We found as we worked that a timeline would be useful. I outlined the bare bones of what we knew and we added to it over the day.
  • 1850--Jeremiah Sr. purchased land
  • 1850--Jeremiah Jr. born
  • 1855--Jeremiah Sr. died
  • 1856--Mary Ann married Samuel Neeley
  • 1878--Jeremiah Jr. died before Feb. 28th, 1878
  • 1888--Mary Ann died
The original scribbled timeline

Tidied-up timeline written on the drive home

Now, what did all this mean:
ANALYSIS:  When Jeremiah Hilyard Sr. died, his estate was inherited in 7 equal parts. His heirs would be: son Thomas, daughter Nancy Brenneman, son David, son John, son Jeremiah Jr., son Noah, and son Ephraim. Widow Mary Ann had her dower right. There has been NO RECORD of the estate found so far other than what is shown in the these land transactions. We have examined the General Index of Estates, Administrators Bonds, and Guardianships, and have found nothing for Jeremiah Sr.
Now, with my original goal in mind, what did we learn?
CONCLUSION: There is still insufficient evidence to prove Jeremiah Hilyard Sr. is the father of Thomas Hilyard.
Insert sad trumpet sound: wah wah.  But that isn't the end of the project. We had to look over what we had found, pulling out names and dates, facts, figures, and brainstorm what else we could check into. The last section of my report is this list:
  1. Delinquent tax sale should be advertised in newspaper: FOUND! But property was advertised in 1865??
  2. Research the tax records
  3. Find original land records from State of Ohio
  4. Research all the references on Jeremiah Jr.'s estate packet
  5. Are there any records of Mary Ann and her sons' time in Michigan?
  6. Make a new timeline with as much information as possible: STARTED
  7. Are there divorce records for Samuel and Mary Ann?
  8. Scour probate records. Possibly not indexed??
  9. Find info on Samuel Neeley; who are his parents, what happened to him?  FOUND: Parents Thomas and Mary Neeley. Thomas died in 1847; Mary died in 1874. She left Samuel $1 in her will dated 1866.
  10. Find John Hilyard's survey of land from 1879 land transaction
  11. Who is Peter Remlinger? FOUND: He lived in Milan, Ohio (near Lake Erie) but had a sister, Mrs. William Hedrick, in Delphos (Allen County). Born 1840 in France, died 1897 in Milan, Ohio. Living in Wyandot County, Ohio in 1860. Maybe Huron County, Ohio in 1880.

As you can see from the final section, we have already started working on the further steps, and that they have led to even more questions.

I hope you can see the value in writing out something like this report to help solidify and clarity what you have, what you find, and what your next steps should be.

Blog reader Laura Mattingly submitted her thoughts on the poem on Jeremiah and Mary Ann Hilyard's gravestone from the previous post:

"Forever Father and Mother dear
  you are not dead but sleeping here."

Looking at this along with the photo, I propose the first word might be "Farewell" instead of "Forever".

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Writing a Research Report; or the Story of How We Didn't Really Find Out Anything, Part One

Poem from Jeremiah and Mary Ann Hilyard's gravestone, digitally enhanced; what do you think it says?

Last month I met with a local registrar from the Daughters of the American Revolution, a service organization made up of women who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. I have about a dozen ancestors I could use to sign up, but I want to join under my ancestor Thomas Hilyard, who is not currently listed as one of their patriots. To do this, I have to show he served in the Revolution. This isn't a problem; I showed her my documentation and she said that part would be easy.
Then comes the hard part. To qualify, I have to prove each link in my line from me back to Thomas; proof that one generation came from the previous one. From me, that is seven generations back.

Base of Jeremiah and Mary Ann Hilyard's gravestone

With birth and death records, I was easily able to go back four generations. Then a little snag. Or maybe a large one, as it turns out. I needed to prove that Thomas Hilyard (of the Civil War) was indeed the son of Jeremiah and Mary Ann (Valentine) Hilyard. I know he is. But my personal conviction doesn't withstand the scrutiny of the DAR.

Jeremiah Hilyard gravestone full-length

So, how could I prove it? No birth or death records exist from that far back. No obviously available will. A trip to Allen County, Ohio was in order. I called my cousin and partner-in-genealogy-crime and we set a date. Allen County, Ohio is a three hour drive for me, so we were able to plan a day trip, but organization was important to make best use of our time. I decided to use a more formal format and create a research report.

I know it might sound pretty stuffy to make a report, but I can tell you from experience, it is a great way to get organized and stay focused. I have looked back on reports I wrote from 10 or more years ago, and can't believe how much of the content I had forgotten. I thanked my younger self for taking the time to write.

I'll show you the sections of the report here, with some commentary on my thought process.

GOAL:  Prove Jeremiah Hilyard is the father of Thomas Hilyard.
1850 Census Allen County, Ohio; unfortunately it does not specify relationships.

This is important to maintaining focus. When you get started looking at an index for your ancestor, and all of a sudden see another familiar name, you have to remind yourself of your goal. Stay focused!!

In the next section, I tried to identify all the facts I already had going into the trip. This is to keep from duplicating efforts I've already made, and to show me where there are gaps that I might be able to fill in with my research.

  1. Jeremiah Hilyard married Mary Ann Valentine on March 14, 1839, in Fairfield County, Ohio. 
  2. Jeremiah Hilyard is in the 1840 Federal Census for Fairfield County, Ohio.
  3. Jeremiah and Mary Ann Hilyard are in the 1850 census for Allen County, Ohio with a child living with them named Thomas of the right age to be mine.
  4. Jeremiah Hilyard died in 1855.
  5. Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard married Samuel Neely in 1856.
  6. Samuel and Mary Ann Neely are in the 1860 census in Allen County, Ohio. There is a "T" Hillard of the correct age in the household.
  7. I had a deed for Jeremiah Hilyard purchasing land in Allen County from the State of Ohio in 1850 but it has no source information on it.
It isn't much. Three census records, two marriage records, and an unsourced deed. No wonder the DAR would scoff at that!

Next, what did we want to accomplish on the trip? Time was limited so we needed to make sure to visit the most important places first. Paramount was a trip to the courthouse, so that was stop number 1. There, we needed to check land records, to see if there was any record of Jeremiah's land being divided among his heirs after his death. Also, I needed a source for the deed that I already had. In addition, we wanted to see the probate records "in person". We were fortunate in that Allen County, Ohio probate records are available online at But it's nice to see the originals, and just make sure we weren't missing something.

Before any trip, you need to do some homework. Learn as much about the area and facilities as you can before you go. For this trip, I checked out Allen County's local government site, got their business hours, and made sure they weren't closed the day we planned to go. While googling, I found several pages relating to Allen County genealogy. Browsing through these, I found reference to the Allen County Museum, which included a research library. I was able to email the librarian from their website and let her know we were planning to visit and what families we were interested in. She wrote back, informing me they had family files on all my surnames of interest, and looked forward to seeing us.

Lastly, time permitting, I wanted to visit the Allentown Cemetery and obtain some better photographs of headstones, and pay my respects. So, this was how the itinerary looked:

PLAN: Travel to Allen County, Ohio to research the family
  1. Land records
  2. Probate records
  3. Allen County Museum for family files
  4. Allentown Cemetery to obtain better photos of stones
We were off!

First stop was the County Recorders office, where the staff was most helpful. We were allowed to search the computerized indices and pull books without asking for permission.

We easily located the source of the deed I had in my records already, obtaining the book and page number.  From this deed, I had the physical description of the property. With this, you can look up the property in what are called Tract Books, and follow the chain from one property owner to the next for any given piece of land. This can be very helpful!

Abstract Record Book 30, Amanda Township Tract Book

In a nutshell, the land Jeremiah Hilyard Sr. purchased from the state of Ohio eventually passed down to his son John, then to John's children in 1914. Importantly, we found two references to the property describing an "undivided 1/7 share" in it. This would indicate that when Jeremiah died, he had seven heirs, plus his widow who had  her dower right. This follows with what I knew, that Jeremiah had seven children who survived to adulthood. 

But the problem still existed: why was there never any probate record to show this division of his property?  Grrr. We checked and doubled checked every index to probate records we could find. All references to Jeremiah Hilyard were actually to the son of our subject, Jeremiah Jr. Even though he left no will, he had a neat and tidy, properly administered probate following his untimely death at age 27.

As for looking over probate at the courthouse, we asked and were permitted to see Jeremiah Jr.'s estate packet. I had all the information from it, but again, it's meaningful to me to handle these old documents.

Our work at the courthouse was done, so we moved on to the Allen County Museum's library. What an enticing rat's nest! There was a main reading room that looked like a proper library, but in the back--oh my! Shelves, filing cabinets, no seeming rhyme or reason to anything, and a librarian that could lay her hands on anything in there without having to consult a computer or book of any kind.  As wonderful as it was, we found nothing new there either. The Hilyard folder was full of old correspondence that had my name all over it. I had written to a researcher in the early 1990s, and all of her old files had found their way to this spot. Reunited with my own letters, over 20 years later.

Next time, what we found and where do we go from there.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Hell, Turn Him Loose!": the story of Daniel Boone McIntyre; or, Blogs as Cousin Bait

I got the idea of blogging from a podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. She has, among others, a series of 45 free podcasts called "Family History: Genealogy Made Easy." It's a great series for beginners and experienced genealogists alike. Specifically, episodes 38-42 discuss how to start a family history blog.

There are lots of reasons to blog. For me, I like to write, and this is a way I can scratch that itch in a life that doesn't allow time for longer projects. I can pick a topic and have a post in an hour or two. I mostly do it for myself, but it's also "cousin bait."

And I finally caught one.

You know who you are. My post on my Civil War ancestor Ansel Wilson reeled you in.

"Cousin bait" means putting your information out online, hoping it will catch the eye of an as yet unknown relative. I'm not sure how many descendants Ansel Wilson has, but with 12 of his 15 children living to adulthood, there's got to be a passel. The information and artifacts of a family don't usually all go to one person. Things get spread out, passed down, forgotten, rediscovered. You have to find the cousins to uncover the cool stuff.

Let's take Ansel Wilson. I started doing genealogy seriously in the 1990s; you know, when you had to write letters. On paper. I honestly can't remember how I came across the name of Hoyt Wilson.  He shared my passion for family history and also loved to tell a good story. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years before I tried to make contact with him. However, I got in touch with his widow.  My mom and I took a trip to Kentucky to meet her and visit the area our family came from. Hoyt had no children, and he directed that his research go to another interested cousin (and with his widow's help, I was able to track that cousin down as well). In the intervening 30 years, I'm sure this sweet lady has passed away too, and I am so glad I got in touch with her and got to meet her.

She shared this photo with me:

Left Bill Wilson, right Hoyt Wilson; taken at Hoyt's home in Beaver Dam, Kentucky

On the left is Bill Wilson, Hoyt Wilson is on the right; they were first cousins. Between them sit the clock, Bible, and knife of their grandfather (my great-great grandfather) Ansel Wilson. The original photo isn't the clearest. I sure wish I could zoom in on those items!

Clock, knife and Bible of Ansel Wilson
I never got to see these items in person. I'm not even sure who owns them now. But at least by getting in touch with Hoyt's family, I got to "see" them.

So, that was the old school way. Write to one cousin, see what they have. Share your stuff. That leads you to the next cousin. It was really exciting to get big packets in the mail with pedigree charts, stories, and pictures.

Now, we've got nearly instant access to people. If we can find them. Enter the blog. 

I wrote my post about Ansel Wilson in 2014. It took a year and a half, but finally a cousin stumbled across it and got in touch. I started dusting off all my old letters and photos to share with her. Meanwhile, she pointed me to her ancestor on He was Ansel's son, John W. Wilson:

John W. Wilson, son of Ansel and Cinderella McInyre Wilson
my great-great uncle
Dark hair, blue eyes, and a moustache that just won't quit!

Now, this man led a full life. You should check out his FamilySearch page to read his short bio under "Life Sketch." You will need to create a free account (and if you haven't already, why not?) to view it. Once on the site, go to the Family Tree menu, click on Find, and you can locate him under the ID number KWZS-TC9. This was my first experience seeing what personal info was on Family Search. I'd only looked at it to view records before.  Now I have a photo and bio of my great-great uncle.

In digging out my files for this cousin, I ran across a letter that Hoyt Wilson had written to yet another cousin, packed with old stories. I know I read this letter 25 years ago, but it had totally slipped my mind.  In it was a story about Daniel Boone McIntyre. He was Ansel's brother-in-law (his wife Cinderella's brother). I'd been able to find "Boone" as he was usually called in census records up to 1880, but that was about it. I'd always kind of wondered about him, but he didn't seem to have a family of his own to trace down so I let it go. I'd like to let Hoyt tell you the story that he set down on paper in 1983, in his own words, with an honest-to-goodness TYPEWRITER, errors and all. [I have inserted a few paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.]

"Mel, I can't seem to bring this letter to a close, as some three incidents that really did happen during the Civil War--incidents that are true--that I should like to tell you about. These true Civil War episodes may not be of interest to you, but they have always meant a lot to me. The first incident has to do with our grandmother Wilson's brother, Boone McIntyre--an own uncle to your father and my father. I believe I mentioned this particular incident to your sister, Beth, in one of my letters a few years ago. But I want to tell the same story to you, probably, with a bit more detail than I set forth in my letter to Beth. 
"Boone McIntyre, (Uncle Boone, shall we call him), was a foreman in a sugar refinery in Louisiana at the outbreak of the Civil War. As the war wore on--men were beginning to be needed to replenish the ranks of the Confederate Army. Consequently, Uncle Boone, was drafted into the Confederate Army, much to his dislike and patriotic belief. So, in due course of time, and at the right opportune moment, Uncle Boone took leave from the Confederates (deserted, so to speak), and traveling more-or-less incognito--made his way back to grandmother Wilson's little cabin on that old flat rock on the bank of Caney Creek at Olaton, Kentucky. Finally, the Confederates noticed that he was missing from the ranks--and knowing that he was from Kentucky, decided that he had gone A.W.O.L. A Confederate Captain with three men under his authority, were ordered to make the trip to Kentucky, in an attempt to locate and apprehend Uncle Boone, and return him back to Louisiana to be tried before a Military Court.  
"The Confederate Captain and his men through some means of direction--and, in due course of time, made their way to Olaton, Kentucky, (probably, with some help from the Confederate Intelligence in Ohio County), converged on grandmother Wilson's humble little cabin on that old flat rock on the banks of Caney. It was near the close of the day, and "darkness was beginning to set in--grandmother said, and the Confederates made their way into the house--showing some degree of politeness". They made no attempt to molest or harm grandmother in any possible way, but did demand that she cook their supper. If you remember when you were here--the old Dutch oven or skillet that we now have in our kitchen, is the very Dutch skillet in which grandmother Wilson prepared the supper for these Confederate soldiers. I can remember my dad telling me just what she cooked for these men for supper. Fried corn pone, fried potatoes, fried side meat, and eggs.
"While grandmother was preparing their supper, the Confederate Captain picked little Billie (William E. Wilson, our fathers' brother), up and was trotting Billie on his knee. No doubt the Captain was also a family man. Little Billie was approximately two and a half years old, and could do some bit of talking. Now, what happened here was, at which time Uncle Boone arrived at grandmother's house--they took his Confederate uniform--pulled a board loose from the floor, and hid his uniform under the floor. They also put some bed clothes and few other fairly valuable items up in the old loft or attic above the main living floor. But grandmother, and Uncle Boone, when they were concealing the uniform and bed clothes had not the least idea that Little Billie was observing just what was going on. So, consequently, while the Captain was trotting little Billie on his knee--Billie suddenly had a real bright thought. Gesturing his little thumb--down toward the floor--Billie said, "soldier clothes down there", and with his thumb pointing upward toward the loft, "bed clothes up there". 
"Grandmother said "that her heart nearly came right up in her throat.  She was scared almost to death. One of the Confederate soldiers jumped up--whipped out his pistol, and said to the Captain, "did you hear what the kid said?" The Captain assured him that he did, and told the soldier to put his pistol away. But the soldier, perhaps, thought that their pray--Uncle Boone--might be just outside the door, and could come in shooting. So, quite a little scuffle went on between the Captain and his subordinate--causing the pistol to discharge and the bullet imbedded in the old mantle above the fire place. Grandmother, then, was really scared.
"The Captain finally quieted the man down, and they then proceeded to have their supper. After they had eaten--they began to explore. Lifting up the board in the floor, they, of course, found Uncle Boone's Confederate uniform. The Captain quizzed grandmother as to where Uncle Boone might be found. She replied "that she had not the least idea as to his whereabouts". The Captain knew, of course, that they were on the right trail, and reasoned that Uncle Boone surely was not too far away. So, bright and early the next morning, the Confederates started making a fairly wide circling sweep of the countryside. Uncle Tom Daniel (Capt. Tom), our father's half Uncle was hiding Uncle Boone out at his house. Uncle Boone was staying in a cave down under the hill from Uncle Tom's house. 
"It was in the summer time, and tobacco crops were up about waist high. Uncle Boone was helping Uncle Tom to work his tobacco patch. The Confederates suddenly surprised both Uncle Tom and Uncle Boone by seeing them in the tobacco patch. Uncle Tom saw the Confederates first and told Uncle Boone to make a run for the cave. Uncle Boone started running through the tobacco--whereupon, the Confederates opened fire with their rifles, and cut down several tobacco plants all around Uncle Boone as he ran for the cave. The Confederates rushed in quickly, and captured Uncle Boone hiding in the cave below the house. 
"Uncle Boone was taken back to Louisiana--where he was tried before a Confederate Military Court, and was sentenced to be executed for desertion. The Captain, and his three firing squad men, took Uncle Boone out to the designated spot of execution--whereupon the Captain, "asked Uncle Boone if there was any last minute request--or anything he would like to say before his execution?" Somehow, through all this ordeal, Uncle Boone had managed to conceal on his person--an old "tintype" picture of a woman and two relatively small children. I am led to believe that this picture of the woman and two children was that, of some of the McIntyre family from way back. Of course, Uncle Boone had never been married. He was strictly an old bachelor. Anyway, Uncle Boone produced this picture--handed it to the Captain, and said, "This is a picture of my wife and two children--back in Kentucky whom I haven't seen for over two years. I just want to ask this favor of you, Captain, to promise me that you will have this picture returned back to my wife with the message that she and the children were the last thoughts on my mind." The Captain took the picture--"Uncle Boone said". And studied it intensely for quite a long time. He pushed his hat back, scratched his head momentarily, handed the picture back to Uncle Boone--then turned to his firing squad, and said, "Hell! Turn him loose. He's human just like the rest of us." 
"So, I guess there's a little soft spot in the hearts of many men. Uncle Boone was convinced to the day of his death, that this picture was the only thing that saved him from the firing squad. After his release by the Captain, Uncle Boone faded away into the countryside, and eventually with some degree of caution, made his way back to Olaton, Kentucky, where he weathered out the rest of the war with grandmother Wilson--there in her little cabin on that old flat rock on the banks of Caney. Now, wasn't that quite a twist? After the Confederates went to all that trouble making their way to Kentucky to apprehend Uncle Boone, taking him back to Louisiana to be executed, and with that little spark of love in the Captain's heart for a human being, turned him loose. I have often wondered just what kind of a report the Captain, and his firing squad made to their ranking superiors. Probably, faked some kind of a report, or turned in a signed document indicating that the execution had been carried out according to orders." 

This letter was dated February 7, 1983, and signed "Your old Kentucky Cousin, Hoyt".

This letter got me digging around trying to verify any parts of it. I was able to find Daniel B. McEntire, age 26, in the 1st Louisiana Cavalry. He was reported as "home sick" in the summer of 1862, having left his unit at Russellville, Kentucky. This is when "Little Billie" would have been 2 1/2. It could be him, but he laters appears as "present" on the muster rolls from the fall of 1862 to July 1863. Then oddly, he doesn't have any other muster roll cards until a Roll of Prisoners of War, surrended to the North on May 26, 1865 and paroled on June 4, 1865. I'm not sure this is the right Uncle Boone, but it kind of fits.

Boone McIntyre was living with his mother in the 1870 census in Kentucky. In 1880 he is listed as a laborer in a household of, as far as I know, unrelated people, still in Kentucky. That's the last I can find of him.

I shared this letter with my new cousin, and was rewarded with one more bit of memorabilia.  I present to you the Dutch skillet that Cinderella McIntyre Wilson prepared dinner in to served the four Confederates in her cabin that hot summer night.

And along with that, a much better version of the picture I have of Cinderella:

I love the little earrings. I wasn't able to see those in my copy. This story makes it a little easier to imagine Cinderella in her little cabin by the creek, with (at that time) three small children. Her husband was away fighting for the Union, but she lived in a state where Union and Confederate both flourished.  I can see her cooking in that pot trying to keep her cool with four soldiers looking for her brother.

I can't wait to see what cousin I hook next!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Details of Thomas Hilyard's Revolutionary War Service

In my last post, I explained how I discovered that my 5th great-grandfather Thomas Hilyard served during the Revolutionary War in the Pennsylvania militia. Today, I'm going to give all the details and documents I have to support this. (Hint: this one might be a bit dry. Try pretending you're on Genealogy Roadshow.)

I first found a reference to Mary Hilyard in the "Journal of the Forty-Eighth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" available online at Google Books. This is a snippet of the page:
Mary Hilyard seeks pension, above book page 40
My cousin Deidre and I traveled to the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania over Spring Break 2016. Although the referenced "documents" do not exist, the "petition" referred to does. We were allowed to view this.

This is the box containing Mary Hilyard's petition for pension with identifying information
And the petition itself:
Page 1 of Petition

Page 2 of Petition

Outside of Petition
We already had all of the text of this document, but it was neat to handle the real thing.

Next, we wanted to see the originals of the ledgers recording what Mary Hilyard received as her pension.  Those were located on microfilm on these two rolls:
Mary Hilyard pension ledger microfilm side view
Mary Hilyard pension ledger microfilm top view
And the ledger images themselves:
Ledger entry for "Mary Hilard" from 1839-1845, screenshot of microfilmed image
There are two other entries:
Ledger entry for "Mary Hillard" from October 1839
Ledger entry for "Mary Hilard" for 1846-1847, the year she died
Again, no new info for us here, but we just had to see it for ourselves.

Finally, on to the uncharted territory. We had the index card showing "Thomas Hillert" served in the Revolutionary War:
Index cards for Pennsylvania soldiers available free online
Using the information on this card, the excellent librarians at the Pennsylvania Archives helped us navigate finding aids. Battalion numbers changed over time, adding to the confusion. This card indicates "N.D." which means the list he is found on is undated.  It is found on a roll containing the years 1777-1780.
Microfilm box source information for next two images
Full page of Pennsylvania 8th Batallion Captain Frederick Ziegler's Company, 1st Class, including "Thomas Hillert"
Close-up of Thomas Hillert's name

The next film:
Microfilm box source for next five images
This is the "Return of Jacob Brands Company, Militia Captain of the Lower part of Manor Township, in the County of Lancaster, and State of Pensylvania, May the first 1781 with names and sirnames as follows:"
Militia roll Lower Manor Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1 May 1781
4th Battalion 2nd Company 1st Class

Close-up of previous image showing Thomas Hilliart

The roll for the following year, 1782: "A True and exact List of the names of each and every Male white person, Inhabiting or Residing, within my District, in the Second Company, of the fourth Battalion of Lancaster County, Militia, between the Age of Eighteen, and Fifty-three Years. Taken for the Year 1782."
Militia roll Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1782
4th Battalion 2nd Company 1st Class
Right-hand edge of the above image

Close-up of First Class showing Thomas Hyliard
This seems to be the last year (1782) that Thomas served on the Lancaster County militia. The following documents show him listed as not attending from 1783-1785.

Microfilm box source for next six images
"A Return of the none attendents of the Seventh Company and Ninth Battalion of Lancaster County Millitia commanded by Col. Fredrick Zigler for the Year 1783". Note that Md stands for Muster Day and Fd stands for Field Day.

Roll of "none attendents" of 7th Company 9th Battalion Lancaster County, Pennsylvania militia 1783

Close-up of previous image showing Thomas Hillgert
Next we have "A True and Exact List of the Names of Each and Every male white person inhabiting within my District in the Seventh Company of the Ninth Battalion of Lancaster County, Millitians, who refused to attent the Mustering place, and being being between the Age of Eighteen and fifty three years, Taken for the year 1784"

Roll of men who refused to attend mustering Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Militia 1784

Close-up of previous image showing Thomas Hylliard
The final list appears to have been made in the Spring of 1784, the same year as the previous one, but it was attested the following year on 12 May 1785. It is "A Return of the none Attendens of the Seventh Company in the Ninth Battalion of Lancaster County Millitia Commanded by Colonel Frederick Ziegler in order of Sevarel of Classes as follows."

Roll of none attendants Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1784-1785

Close-up of previous image showing Thomas Hyliard
These are all of the documents I have been able to find regarding the Revolutionary War service of Thomas Hilyard, who served in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Militia. In my next post I hope to share some of the activities of this militia.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Just Ask Google; or, How I Discovered Thomas Hilyard Served During the American Revolution

When I got back into genealogy in late 2014, I was astounded at the amount of records that had gone online during my hiatus. Sure, all the subscription sites are great, but not one of them told me that Thomas Hilyard had fought in the Revolution.

You know who knew about his service? Google.

I am convinced that Google knows darn near everything, short of a few maiden names I'm missing, if I just ask it the right questions.

At this point, I would ask you to read (or re-read to refresh your memory) my post from November 2014 so that the rest of this makes sense.

Go now. I'll wait.

Now we can proceed. So I left that hanging, and never did the follow-up post. Long story short, I'm glad I didn't book a plane ticket to the Pennsylvania Archives, at least solely for that reference. Short story long, I put up a request for someone going to the Archives to look up these references to Mary Hilyard's pension for me. A wonderful lady obliged, and within a few weeks she emailed me the images. Drumroll please....
Pension ledger entry for Mary Hilyard
Yes, I was a bit underwhelmed too. There were some other images, but all basically with the same information. Nothing about Thomas or his service. I had to put this project on the back burner for a bit.

Fast forward to Spring Break 2016. I took a trip with a cousin to Pennsylvania (and other places) to look into the Hilyards. We spent one day at the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg. The librarians there are top-notch, very knowledgeable and ready to help.

Our first goal was to find the petition and papers that Mary Hilyard filed with the State House of Representatives proving her right to a pension. That would have been the mother lode. It would have had proof of marriage (including her unknown maiden name), description of Thomas the Elder's service, and who knows what else. I knew that such records existed at the federal level; I'd found something similar on another person. But no matter how much we begged and pleaded, the librarians held firm that records such as these simply were not preserved. We finally relented and moved on.

We knew that Thomas did serve, so how could we find out when and where? The super librarians asked if I had checked their website's index of Revolutionary War service cards. I actually had, but didn't know if I had the right person.  This is what I had copied:
Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card for Thomas Hillert
from the Pennsylvania Archives ARIAS website

Thomas Hillert? I've seen the name spelled every possible way. In this time frame Hilgert was common. Hillert just didn't feel right. But, it was Lancaster County, and I know Thomas Hilyard had spent at least a few years in that area.

The excellent librarians explained how we could look at the original records that had generated these index cards on microfilm. We paged through lots of old handwriting until we found this:
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Militia Rolls 1777-1780 8th Batallion
Click image to enlarge

And the pertinent section here:
Thomas Hillert listed in Capt. Ziegler's Company, 8th Batallion 1st Class
Click image to enlarge
We went on to find Thomas in every roll we could. He appears consistently from the above (undated but around 1777) roster through 1785, at which time he moved across the state. I was finally convinced we had the right man through the various spellings of Hilyard, combined with the fact that a man associated closely with him, Conrad Hillegas, was in that same battalion. 

In reading about the Pennsylvania militia structure, it was confusing to say the least. If you would like a fairly concise explanation, I recommend the Pennsylvania Archives version.  If you are a military historian or glutton for punishment, dig into this article on the Journal of the American Revolution's website.

The highlights are these:
  • all white men between the ages of 18 and 53 capable of bearing arms were required to serve two months of milita duty on a rotating basis
  • militia might be used to support the Continental troops
  • some militia performed frontier duty, reinforcing the outlying Pennsylvania counties
  • others performed guard duty at supply depots and prisoner of war camps
As far as I can tell, Thomas Hilyard has not been submitted to the Daughters of the American Revolution as a patriot. I think I will make this a goal of mine, to get him qualified and see if I can join up.