Monday, April 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Duncan's and Toss In A Baldwin Too.

I find myself sitting at my desk with three of my ancestor's folders in front of me and trying to put the pieces together. I have to admit that for the first half of my life I was hooked on European history and could care less about American history. I liked it; it was okay but European, the Tudor period, and the intrigue! And sadly, I do know more about Medieval England than I do the Colonies and the States. Or that "was" the case. At the time I didn't know my connections to the War and too, I remember being able to quote that I had ancestors in the Civil War but I still had no investment in it even if I was proud of this fact. Now the investment is there. And maybe at the time, the Civil War, to me, was too recent of history. Until I started to sink into the thrilling world of family genealogist that is. Now, I have the investment and over the past five years I have had a gaining curiosity about the history of the States. This is solely because of my ancestry. I would never have known a thing about Manakin, Virginia, had I not found I am a descendent of William Witt. He is on the Huguenot Society webpage as unproven as a first settler there. I have always been interested in the Revolutionary War but politics, I have to say, bore me to death and that is always a big part of a War. I never tested well in my History classes. Dates, names and places, eh, okay, they are important but I always wanted to know about the people, not just the famous but Joe Smith that no one knew. My thirst for knowledge these days is unquenched. And it is broadening. Two years ago finding the Unit my ancestor in was enough, now I want to learn about that Unit. And, a tiny confession here, I missed the first part of Geneabloggers Blog Talk Radio this past Friday evening so I was listening to the podcast of it today at work and I think I might have gone a little fan girl crazy listening to Angela Walton-Raji. She has such enthusiasm in her voice and her knowledge bank is amazing, when she talks about her specialty topics she promotes that enthusiasm and I will say that sitting at my desk was very hard to do, I wanted to get right home and dive into some research. Thank you, Angela, and I look forward to hearing more of your talks.

Also, yesterday, I sat in on Michael Hait's webinar about Researching Your Civil Was Ancestor's and he mentioned a couple scenarios' I might have. One, an ancestor that may have fought for both army's and two, Jane Edwards Duncan was on the 1890 Veteran's Schedule Census and her deceased husband, George Washington Duncan was a Confederate Soldier. In this webinar it was mentioned that usually this Schedule was mainly listing Union and on some occasions Confederate's were found on this Schedule. In this case, lucky me!

So now I am revisiting these three men to take another more educated look at them.

So, these folders. I have a father and son: George Washington Duncan (father) and William Franklin Duncan (son). And then there is Hugh Wilson Baldwin. George and William were born in North Carolina. The family moved to Tennessee (Washington County in 1860) and it looks like William stayed in Tennessee when the family went back to North Carolina. William was 18 on the 1860 Census in Washington County, Tennessee, and Hugh Wilson Baldwin lived in Tennessee (Bradley County), I am unsure yet where he was born.  
So let's start with George and William. In the Civil War Questionnaire that I have for William, he stated George had fought in the Mexican War. I haven't started to research that yet but he said nothing about the Civil War which surprises me. Then comes the confusion about George. I overlooked his service several times because the age of George Duncan was 29 and he couldn't be that young. But then milling through the records at Footnote, I came across his service record and sure enough it was my George Washington Duncan as that file was holding the documentation of his wife applying for his pension. George died in the war of illness in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have yet to find out where he is buried. So either a clerical error was made in his age or that was what he told them. He would have been approximately 39 when he mustered in. The next thing.. George fought for the Confederate Army 29th North Carolina Regiment and William fought for the Union Army 4th Regiment Tennessee Calvary. I am left thinking about these two men and what kind of relationship they might have had. They were both in Washington County Tennessee when the 1860 US Census was taken. What made George go back to North Carolina and muster in? He ended up fighting and dying in Tennessee. And what made William decided to be a Federal serviceman? His Civil War Questionnaire gave no clues to either his relationship with his father or the choices he made. The only thing I see is that he did not mention George being in the Civil War.

Then I have Hugh Wilson Baldwin.. My man of two armies. Maybe. I am not yet convinced. First there is the Confederate service record in Co. A, 62nd Tennessee Mounted Infantry (Rowan's Regiment). He was 19 and enrolled in Sweet Water Tennessee, Bradley County. In this he became a prisoner of war at the Battle of Vicksburg and signed a document stating he would not take up arms against the United States of America again. This is dated July 8th, 1863. I have his pension file and it states he enrolled at age 23 the 3rd day of February, 1864 at Charleston, in Co. I 10th regiment of Tennessee Calvary Volunteers. The ages have me a bit hung up and there is no mention of his Confederate service in this file but this file is full of information given by his wife Deborah Louise Cowden Duncan and his friends in affidavits about his failing health once home after the war was over. He died when he was 40. Only one thing will prove any of this for me and that would be finding his signature. I have his signature on the Vicksburg Prisoner of War document. He was already deceased by the time this Pension application was started so I don't have his signature there. I found some documentation on Footnote but no signature there either. So that will be a project finding some other legal document he would have signed.

And then a funny coincidence. See the Captain's signature on Hugh's Prisoner of War document below? I about fell off my chair at first thinking my William Duncan signed the same document that Hugh W. did. Wouldn't that be something!? This William Duncan was of an Illinois unit and my William Duncan signs a very bold "William F. Duncan" on every document I have found with his signature. It is always a full signature. That would have been a great family story because of the future. William Franklin Duncan's son, David Washington Duncan, married Hugh Wilson Baldwin's daughter, Carrie Anne Baldwin.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 9: Sounds

Do you know that sound? Listen. You hear fingers dipping into a bowl of cellophane wrapped candies to take one. Like peppermints or mixed hard candies. Listen again, do you hear it now? That distinctive sound of the wrappings rubbing against each other and crinkling? Whenever I hear that sound, say if a candy dish is out at work, the first thing that comes into my mind is wondering if that is Grandma Willie in the candy dish. Then I smile. She was the sweetest woman. She was my Grandmother's step Mother and my Grandmother took care of her until she died. She was the second wife of Edward Alexander Cummings Fender and she worked with my Great-Grandfather at Tasty Bread Company in Akron Ohio. After my Great-Grandmother passed away, he married Willie. She is Willie Clay Moore Fender of Tennessee. I am not sure what brought her to Ohio. She was almost completely blind by her old age I remember. She had to hold her phone book up to her nose to read it and it took her a while to decipher. She always smiled, she always wore an apron and even though she couldn't see, my Great-Grandfathers picture never left her bedside table.

Summer traffic. My Grandmother lived on West Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio. It was a three story house with an apartment on each level and I would seriously love a place like that today. It was a big apartment. The front section of the house was the living room with double doors that opened to a front porch that was the entire width of the house. My sister and I played out there countless hours. The next section back was a formal dining room with bay windows along one wall with a window seat and the length of it was covered with potted plants. Through a swinging door on the left side of the dining room you came into the dinette "room". The inside wall of this room was glass door cabinets were all the china and serving dishes were. And, my grandmothers soft boiled egg cups. Something I still have today and cherish. Through that room then you stepped into the kitchen. On the right hand side of the dining room was the doorway to the hall that went to the back of the house on the right side. Down this hall were two bedrooms and a bathroom in between. The hallway had a huge linen closet. And old wood trim. Delicious! It smelled like old wood, you know that old house smell that I am talking about?  Sometimes when the traffic is busy like it was on West Exchange Street, i will hear a horn blow or some traffic sound that triggers my memory and brings me back to this place.  Every time I go back, it seems to be back into my Grandmother's world.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 3: Cars

I didn't get my license until I was 19. I was a very young wife. Married at 16, living in Germany as an Army wife by 17 so I never did get my license before I went overseas. One of the Army wives that I made friends with taught me how to drive a stick shift Volkswagen station wagon while I was there. I am so glad we did not get caught! I remember one day I let the car get a little out of control, then got nervous and we went driving through this small German town and many buildings are right on the street in Europe. It went into a curve and we both screamed, I was going a tiny bit too fast compared to the driving space I had. I managed to slow down and do clutch/gear shifting without hitting a building or pedestrian!! Needless to say I pulled over when we came out of village and asked Ruth to drive again. She gratefully took the drivers seat. I can laugh about it now and we probably laughed about it then.

When I got stateside again. I took my drivers test and my first car was a used Plymouth Volare. It was in perfect condition and it had all the bells and whistles. Pin stripping, maroon velour seats, electric everything. This was in 1979. The car was hawt. The day I got my drivers license in the mail I finally got to drive my car! That solo drive I still remember to this day, over 30 years later. I felt like a big shot, I felt so cool and I felt so free! I was so excited but had nowhere to go, so I went to the store to buy milk I didn't need, haha. Anything to be Queen of the road for 15 minutes!

And a silly story about cars. One that has come up in family laugh fests for a great many years. My parents were members of the Porsche Club of America when I was a child. There were races year round, places to go, big gatherings. I remember we went to Boston for one Club event when I was about 10 years old. This race was before that and was local, at Watkins Glen here in Western NY. My mother handed over the camera to me with a full roll of film and told me to take picture of cars. So off my sister and I went. Did we take pictures of the cars on the track? No. The shiny Porsche's being shown off? Nope. So time passes, my mother picks up this set of pictures and we get home and I am all excited for her to see my work. She starts looking through the pictures and the look on her face was classic and I mean classic! Yes, in my excitement of being a budding "non" photographer I took pictures of the cars in the parking lot. Station wagons, and the old family cars of the day. Not one spiffy race car type. She looked at me and at least was kind. She told me I did a great job but maybe next time I could get a few pictures of the race cars. I expect she still has that set of pictures somewhere. I will have to go through them sometime.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 12: Movies

Period History movies are me.  Good or bad, I love them.  Braveheart, my favorite.  Rob Roy, another favorite.  Both of those movies I went to the theater to see over and over again just so I could see Scotland on the big screen.  To this day I still watch them often.  Rob Roy is my go to "put in DVR, lay in bed and fall asleep 10 minutes later" movie.  Dangerous Beauty, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age and The Other Boleyn Girl; even Somersby and it wasn't a great movie!  Patriot is another one!  I can go on and on.  

Anything that takes me back... love 'em.    The shocker of all.  Transformers.  I know!  Insane, right?  I didn't even want to see it but I went with my friend because he wanted to go see it and I remember I had a migraine and when the fighter plane went sideways between buildings of the City I thought for sure I would be sick right there.  But when we walked out of that movie, I had a new favorite movie and I have no idea why!!  I used to vaccuum up Transformer pieces when my son was a child.  I had no bond with Transformers other than the damage of my foot when I stepped on pieces.  It is not the greatest movie ever but it is on my top 5 list.  Sad, isn't it?  Haha.

I do miss Drive-In theaters.  They are gone from my area and I think they were one of the best things going.  It is a shame how some things fade out of style then disappear. A summer night at the drive in was a great place to be.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 7: Toys

I am of the Barbie Generation. My daughter had the better Barbie stuff when campers and houses came along. For us it was shiny vinyl black "closet" cases. I have mentioned this memory before but my Grandmother, Elizabeth Fender Duncan, totally rocked as a Grandmother and would indulge us, and insist, that we put on a Barbie fashion show for her. At Christmas Santa would bring us Barbie clothes. She made a few things for us and knit a few things for us and religiously on our trips to Ohio there would be a fashion show put on for the family to show off all the new clothing our Barbie's and Skippers had. My sister and I would be so excited and my Grandmother would have us describe the clothing and enunciate. She was a stickler for proper speech and would encourage us to be descriptive in our presentation of each outfit. She made it fun and it helped me in my College writing down the line. I look at a sentence and wonder if I have described enough. She would applaud and expect us to take our bows for our performance. I love that woman with all of my heart. I miss her so much, she was my safety zone.

The only other toy I can remember being "it" for me was hula hoops. I could do anything in one of those things during my young teen years. Walk to the mail box, run, just anything!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 6: Radio and Television

Radio and Television.

I am a product of the 60's and 70's when it came to watching television. I loved the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family. The Brady Bunch was a Friday night ritual in our house.  I loved Bobby Sherman just as much as Marcia did. Now that I am over 50 (barely) I can still be caught watching them if they happen to be on the TV when I surf by them. There, my most embarrassing secret. E V E R ! ! !

For radio, I am going to talk about old shows that I had never heard of until I was living in Germany and Armed Forces Radio was the only entertainment I had aside from my stereo that blew out Peter Frampton, Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie, Genesis and Electric Light Orchestra. I was 17 and would have considered these shows from the "olden days" and they were for me. Fibber McGee and Molly was one, the other was the Twilight Zone. I did not grow up with radio programming really. My parents listened to the Beatles and Herb Albert and the Tijuana brass. They were a hip 1960's couple.  We didn't listen to radio "shows". Rock and Roll radio stations were the rage for me. Today I have internet radio and can listen to 80's and 90's Alternative and I am a happy camper. Still I look back on those radio shows with fondness. Once I got past the oldness of them I couldn't wait until the nights they came on to sit and listen and too, it gave me a taste of life with just radios and no television. Today I can appreciate that "step back".

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 5: Food

Page 2
Strange but true, there is a recipe in my family with unknown origin (to me) that is called "Page 2". It was on Page 2 of some handwritten cookbook/spiral notebook and called "Page 2". Crazy, I know!! It is a very 60's recipe and I believe that is were it dates from. I remember eating it when I was 8. It is something I wouldn't think of eating today and I remember I might have made it once or twice early in my career as a wife and mother.
It is a basic casserole type of recipe and goes like this:

Make a pot of mashed potatoes.
Brown ground beef and chopped onions; drain.
Add a can of green beans and a can of corn; stir.
Add two cans of Campbell's tomato soup; stir.
Salt and pepper.
Pour into a casserole.
Drop big spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes onto the mixture.
Sprinkle with paprika for color.
Bake until mixture is hot and bubbly. (probably 350 degrees, 30-40 minutes)

Voila.. Page 2.

It isn't bad, I remember liking it and when my cousin's came to visit us in Rochester from Akron, Ohio, my Mother said, "What should we have for dinner?" and my sister and I were all serious in jumping up and down crying out, "Page 2! Page 2!" like we were introducing our cousins to the bestest thing on the planet. I think it was just the excitement of the cousins coming to our place in the world and we wanted them to have what we thought were the best things in our life. Thinking about it makes me laugh now. For many years it was a star in our family. Probably because it was easy to make, no thinking and the leftovers were delish. My mother could whip it together and be done with it. Maybe I should make it again to see if it holds the same appeal as it did when I was a child. Maybe, I am not a fan of high sodium or canned vegetables and tomato soup goes with grilled cheese sandwiches! (another favorite food) I do remember it makes awesome leftovers! And I think I will poll my son and daughter and see if they remember it.

Today, one of my most favorite foods is basil pesto. I love it, it is easy to put together, I don't need a recipe, it just happens in my food processor and it freezes well. Sauté a bit of chicken, veggies on hand (broccoli, zucchini, anything like that), throw in some cooked pasta and stir in pesto until it looks like you want it to look when you eat it and eat! Mm. 

An old memory, Swenson's Drive In, in Akron Ohio. Once we got to Akron and settled in, my Mom was like a homing pigeon to Swenson's and we would drive there and park, the food brought to us on a tray and we would eat in the car. My sister and I thought it was such a novelty and my mother felt like she had come home. She was unhappy in her marriage to my biological father ("Dad" is reserved for my wonderful step-father who has passed away) and I think going home to Akron and something like that Drive-In food joint was a normalcy she needed and she enjoyed sharing it with my sister and I. I can say this now that I can think back and see her with an adult's perspective, this place helped her in some way. The familiar. Home.