Let’s Get Political

Disclaimer: This isn’t quite a genealogy entry, but I have something to say, and this is my forum. It’s the best, easiest way to get out everything I am aching to say, and hopefully, it will be acknowledged by my representatives.


Dear Senators Tom Cotton, and John Boozman:

My name is Jillian Bogy. I was born in Stuttgart, and I have lived in Humphrey, Arkansas for all of my 32 years. I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two sons, ages 8 and 9. My husband is a volunteer firefighter and a farmer, and I am a stay-at-home-mom with a hobby I am hoping to develop into a career as a genealogist. I am a college graduate. I attended high school at the now defunct Humphrey High School, and I graduated 8th out of 28 individuals. Many of my classmates have went on to become professionals in their line of work. We are a close community, and that, I believe, is a result of the education system that was in place, prior to Gov. Huckabee’s school consolidations. Our town has only one stop light. We have one full-time police officer, and a part-time post office. There are less than 400 people living here. Our economy lies in farming and hunting, and if you don’t do either of those things, you most likely work in Stuttgart, which is the closest town to us.

When our youngest child started school, his brother was already attending school in Stuttgart as an Act 609 transfer. Sadly for us, the district we lived in during that time (Wabbaseka) was consolidated with Altheimer School District, which, in turn, was consolidated with Dollarway School District. We were 12 miles away from Stuttgart, and 38 miles away from Dollarway Elementary. First and foremost, the district was out of our way, and too far to amend our schedules around. However, all of those reasons were not enough to allow my son to attend Stuttgart with his brother. Act 560 of 2015 amended Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-1901 et seq. states that the school districts that have conflicts with the Public School Choice Act (PSCA) of 2015 due to active desegregation orders or active court-approved desegregation plans, and therefore are not subject to PSCA laws. Dollarway is one of those 16 school districts. I neglected to mention the race issue here. My husband is white, and I am biracial, Hispanic and white. The Dollarway district was, at that time, 92.2% black, with 94% low-income students. Stuttgart was 49.4% white, with 63% low-income. This immediately favored my son to attend Dollarway.   I had to fight incredibly hard – calling lawyers and the state board of education more times than I can count – to get my son released from the Dollarway district.

Now, you may ask, “What does that have to do with Betsy DeVos, since she is big in the favor of school choice?”

Well, consider this: what if that school district was 92.2% white, and a black student attempted to transfer into the district? Recall WHY the desegregation orders were made in the first place! This will, inevitably, happen throughout the country, I’m sure, but most likely in the south – your state. Central High is a dark shadow of Arkansas’ politics and a glimmer of overcoming oppression for minorities. With limited federal oversight regarding school choice, we leave the door open for school districts with strained racial tensions to become aggravated, leading to stricter, more complicated hurdles introduced for the singular goal of alienating a particular race. And then how does that work? The federal government’s newly passed laws allocating public funds for privatized schools contribute to a new wave of segregation. That will regress decades of growth for minorities and school districts that would have been long forgotten without segregation.

This brings me to my second point. My oldest son is exceptionally bright. He loves history, and science, and is physically active, playing baseball and basketball on city league teams for several years. He is, all around, well adjusted. But, although his love of knowledge grows daily, so do his struggles. In March 2015 by Amy Roller, MS, CCC-SLP, who was Stuttgart School District’s Speech Language Pathologist, evaluated and diagnosed him with the following: “Evaluation results indicate that Jon Tyler demonstrates a speech and language impairment consistent with State and Federal Guidelines in the area of expressive language.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, IDEA 2004, a “speech or language impairment” qualifies as a disability. Regulations: Part 300, A, 300.8, c:

   c:   Definitions of disability terms. The terms used in this definition of a child with a disability are defined as follows:(11) Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance

My son’s education was now directly died to the federal standards of IDEA. I studied this law front and back. I read Arkansas’ laws religiously. I made absolutely sure that I would know what the sections and subsections said and how they pertained to my son, to his specific situation. That March, the Initial Evaluation was considered, and it was determined that the data substantiated a diagnosis of disability. On page 2 of the documents supplied by the district, in the section “Options Considered and Reason Rejected,” it reads the following: The committee considered the option of placement in resource services. However, due to evaluation results and data collected, Jon Tyler does not qualify for resource services at this time. Jon Tyler does qualify for services in speech and language deficits which are believed to inhibit his progress in the area of written expression.”

      I gave consent for placement in special education and the development of an IEP. I also agreed to immediate implication of the action being proposed.
      That was finalized on 30 March 2015. The 2014-2015 school year ended about a month later. The first day of the new school year was August 17, 2015.
      I received an Interim Grade Report for Jon Tyler about a month later, on 11 September. His grades were: Language Arts, 91; Reading 2, 59; Science 2, E; Mathematics, 60; Social Studies, E.
     Upon meeting with this teacher, I implored concern that I had not seen an IEP for that semester. At that time, she was unaware of his diagnosis as well as the modifications that were specified by Ms. Roller, and his IEP team. The next day, I forwarded my copies of his diagnosis from Ms. Roller, and a copy of the “Consent for Action to be Taken Immediately,” dated nearly five months prior to that Interim grade cycle.
He resumed after-school tutoring, and I submitted a request for the IEP I assumed was already in place.

      On 14 October 2015, I received a Student Progress Report on Jon Tyler’s IEP. Mind you, this is NOT his actual IEP. The progress report updated me on how he was doing in his speech and language services, helmed by Ms. Marci Jeter, MS/CCC, SLP. The report gave 5 objectives. The Measurable Annual Goal stated that “Jon Tyler will demonstrate improved expressive language skills by demonstrating mastery on 4 related objectives at 80% accuracy.” As of the date the report was produced, only 3 out of 5 objectives had been initiated. His progress on those three was at least 50% each. The dates specified for IEP progress reports are: 14 Oct; 18 Dec; 11 March; 26 May. 

      The Stuttgart School District Handbook states under “Learning Services” (page 33-34), that “Students who receive Special Education Services will be promoted/graduated based on successful completion of the individualized education plan (IEP).”
      If the goal is at least 80% accuracy, and he is at 69% at the March Progress Report, it is impossible to give him the same opportunities to attain his goals as his peers; how could he, when the determinations for promotion or retention are made substantially earlier than his IEP allows? In fact, denying him the same treatment would place the district under several violations of IDEA, as well as Section 504/ADA mandates, including the following:
      ● denying a student the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a benefit or service;
       ● providing an opportunity to participate or benefit that is unequal to that provided others;
        ● providing a benefit or service that is not as effective as that provided to others;
       ● providing lower quality benefits, services or programs than those provided to others; or
       ● providing different or separate benefits or services, unless it is necessary to provide benefits or service that are as effective as those provided to others.
      This violation is not only harmful to my son’s education, but for all of those who work so hard to teach him.
       I expressed concern in November over this same matter, and “the committee rejected making any changes to his IEP since he is making progress with his current modifications and accommodations in speech therapy.”
     If Jon Tyler successfully meeting the objectives set forth in his IEP determines his promotion or retention, as the handbook states, then he is being set up for failure.
      If he does not fall under the “Special Education” umbrella, I wanted to know why. The Arkansas Department of Education specified a Speech or Language Impairment as “a communication disorder … that adversely effects a child’s educational performance.” The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas, as well as the National Disability Rights Network, agree:
     “If it is determined that the student has a disability, the student is entitled to regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the individualized educational needs of the student. … A child with a disability is not qualified for special education services under IDEA unless the disability adversely affects education and the child needs special education and related services.”
On forms from the school, the terms “negative impact” and “adversely affects” have been used to describe Jon Tyler’s hindrance. In fact, on the 30 March conference, it was specified, “special education services appropriate.” With that consideration, and the school’s own terminology, Jon Tyler’s impairment certainly qualifies as a disability, and affords him the modifications, considerations, and adjustments that he was entitled to, placing him in that “Special Education” category that was stated in the district handbook.
     Speech qualifies as a “special education service,” which, by definition, is “special education” under IDEA/Section 504.
     With the preceding information, it’s not only unjust to hold Jon Tyler at an “odds-against-him” timetable, but it’s absolutely illegal.
I was lucky enough to know these laws, because I had the availability to study them. I am one of the few parents who have that option. But, if I had NOT, my son would have slipped through the cracks, just like so many others. Because of my insistence and diligence, further testing revealed that my son has dyslexia. Without knowing his rights, I would never have known how to approach his educators in a way that would contribute to his education, not just patch it with Band-Aid solutions. The IDEA law is imperative. It is a godsend for parents who know that something is going on, and that their child should be given the best education possible, with standards set on a national scale of recognition. If this law wasn’t on the books and the only options in my area were private charter schools with accelerated students and the best that public funds could buy, my son would be shuffled to the public school with bare-bones regulations regarding children with disabilities, physical or learning, due to minimal funds for therapists and qualified teachers. He may even be sent out of town twice a week for language therapy, to Pine Bluff, or Little Rock. Does that sound like the least restrictive environment to you?
Ms. DeVos may have some experience to her name. And perhaps her nomination hearing shined a spotlight right at her, showing us only the nervous, intimidated version. But when I research her history with regard to education, I don’t find much other than a record of bare-bones regulations schools and a few privatized charter schools with the best that public funds can buy. I see schools like Hope Academy, with the lowest of the low in academic ratings. I see a free-fall education labeled as a free-market education. I see children slipping through the cracks, and lost in the shuffle.
And I want more for our students than that. As parents, I think we can all agree that we want the absolute best for our children. Now imagine that ALL the state’s children are YOUR children. Imagine the heartache of your son crying as he attempts to read a grade level below him, to no avail. Picture your love, your daughter, being told she can’t go to the school where her friends go, where they have tablets for every student and interactive white boards, and state-of-the-art science labs. She can’t go, because, why? There’s no reason, they say, she just can’t. Deep down, you know it’s because she’s a different race, or because you don’t make enough money. You’re singled out and judged, you’re discriminated against, openly, but you have no one to hear your cry for help. After all, we wanted less federal oversight, more state’s rights. We asked for it. But now what do we do when we get THIS instead? Do you feel your heart break when you have to comfort your heartbroken daughter and send her to school where there is a dramatically high failure rate, and barely qualified teachers? Are you giving her the best possible education possible? No, you aren’t. Because our ability to provide the best for our children and the faith we have in schools that THEY will give their best to our children will be absolutely shattered under Betsy DeVos.
So this weekend, I would like you to look at your child and imagine giving them the worst when you know you could have given them a better chance in life. If you vote in favor of DeVos, that’s what you will be doing. You will be allowing segregation, discrimination, and money to infiltrate public schools in a way that we have been attempting to change for years upon years.
Imagine that deep depression that parents will feel, knowing that their only option is public school, and that simply isn’t good enough. It may provide enough to graduate, if you’re lucky. Realizing that, it should show you both just how hard you should be fighting for our education. And that’s why you should vote NO to Betsy DeVos.

Just In Case: A Letter From Your Ancestor

If you found this while researching your family history, this is my time-capsule for you. It’s straight from me to you, a letter from the year everything changed.

 

    I looked outside today and I saw the sky, as pure blue as ever, and the bright orb in the sky kissing the ground and turning the dew to diamonds on blades of grass. The birds sang, the neighborhood dogs ran loose and houses around me were just beginning to bustle with the activity of a new start. All looked well. The big ball we live on kept spinning on it’s axis, and by all appearances, nothing had changed in 24 hours.

     Alas, my dear descendant, we both know that was not the case. I’m freely assuming that you have some interest in U.S. history, or at least the interest in connecting national events to a timeline of life in your genealogy research. This is one of those times when it makes a very, very big difference. You see, yesterday was Election Day. Yesterday, we, as American citizens, put our faith into a system that very few of us fully understand. While we vote, another group also votes, and their votes can override ours quite easily. That group is called the Electoral College.

Take this explanation from The History Channel:

Notwithstanding the founders’ efforts, the electoral college system almost never functioned as they intended, but, as with so many constitutional provisions, the document prescribed only the system’s basic elements, leaving ample room for development. As the republic evolved, so did the electoral college system, and, by the late 19 century, the following range of constitutional, federal and state legal, and political elements of the contemporary system were in place.

The Constitution gives each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of its Senate membership (two for each state) and House of Representatives delegation (currently ranging from one to 52, depending on population). The 23rd Amendment provides an additional three electors to the District of Columbia. The number of electoral votes per state thus currently ranges from three (for seven states and D.C.) to 54 for California, the most populous state.

The total number of electors each state gets are adjusted following each decennial census in a process called reapportionment, which reallocates the number of Members of the House of Representatives to reflect changing rates of population growth (or decline) among the states. Thus, a state may gain or lose electors following reapportionment, but it always retains its two “senatorial” electors, and at least one more reflecting its House delegation.

The Electors: Ratifying the Voter’s Choice

Presidential electors in contemporary elections are expected, and, in many cases pledged, to vote for the candidates of the party that nominated them. While there is evidence that the founders assumed the electors would be independent actors, weighing the merits of competing presidential candidates, they have been regarded as agents of the public will since the first decade under the Constitution. They are expected to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the party that nominated them. Notwithstanding this expectation, individual electors have sometimes not honored their commitment, voting for a different candidate or candidates than the ones to whom they were pledged; they are known as “faithless” or “unfaithful” electors. In fact, the balance of opinion by constitutional scholars is that, once electors have been chosen, they remain constitutionally free agents, able to vote for any candidate who meets the requirements for President and Vice President. Faithless electors have, however, been few in number (in the 20 century, one each in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 2000), and have never influenced the outcome of a presidential election.

Now, according to a local television station, “The parties select their electors at their State Conventions. So, there are actually 12 potential electors. But, only six will cast their votes. There is no state law that requires the elector to vote for the winner of the popular vote, but, since the electors are vetted by the parties, there’s a reasonable assurance, the electors will toe the party line. … Republican Party rules require the electors pledge in writing that they’ll vote for the GOP nominee.” (KATV)

So, at the current moment, both of Arkansas’ senators are Republican; as are all of her four representatives. Therefore, they do as they pledged – they vote Republican.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. With 59,413,991 votes, she claimed popular victory over Donald Trump, who had 59,229,395.

However.

Regardless of that fact, Trump won the presidency with 276 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228. A candidate must have 270 electoral votes to win, so in essence, one could say that Arkansas’ SIX electoral votes pushed Trump to the White House.

Those six individuals, who were selected by the men voted in by every day citizens, effectively altered the face of the nation, and quite possibly, the world.

The Republican party in and of itself should be celebrating across the board today, with it’s presidential win, and grabbing the reins on both the Senate and the House. Not all of them seemed to be thrilled, though, and that should tell you something. Many are questioning just how well the Republican Cerberus will work. I am one of those skeptics.

I wrote you this letter to explain what happened in a way that your history book won’t. This is my voice, my thoughts, and you can take that for whatever it’s worth to you.

Personally, I am heartbroken over the outcome of this race, and let me tell you why. I am a moderate conservative. I don’t like political boxes, so you’ll rarely ever see my name with a consistent party label next to it, but, for the most part, I am a moderate conservative. A more specific definition on Wikipedia states that this particular faction “sometimes shares the economic views of other Republicans – e.g., balanced budgets, lower taxes, free trade, deregulation, welfare reform – and moderate Republicans differ in that some are for same-sex marriage and gay adoption, legal access to and even funding for abortion, gun control laws, more environmental regulation and anti-climate change measures, fewer restrictions on legal immigration, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and more relaxed enforcement of illegal immigration and support for ‘sanctuary cities,’ and for some, abolition of the death penalty, civil rights laws, embryonic stem cell research, in a few cases anti-war policies, supporting access to medical cannabis or any of the above.”

I have two sons. Two boys who are my entire world. One is almost 8, and the other just turned 9. I try my best to teach them dignity and humility, restraint and freedom, patriotism and patriotism with complaint, respect and how to earn respect, and kindness and equality, and when and how to recognize when they aren’t given the same in return. My mother is Mexican, my father is a hodge-podge of Welsh, Scotch, German, and Native American. I am half Mexican, and I have seen, more than once, with my own eyes, discrimination and hispaniphobia. I have family members that are part of the LBGT community, as well as some who are in interracial relationships. I grew up in a town with two school buildings – one where only whites could attend, and one for blacks. The old Rosenwald school was small, forgotten, and crumbling, but it stood as a reminder that it wasn’t that long ago where ‘separate but equal’ drew sharp division lines.

I have never met Mr. Trump, but believe me when I say that the media has been saturated to a point of gluttony with this election, and I’ve watched enough to see the kind of person Mr. Trump seems to be. I say ‘seems’ because, at his core, he appears to be a bit of a charlatan – an actor who can appease crowds to his benefit, and can inflame the establishment to enhance his appeal. I hope some of his antics were just an act, a skit before the show starts, but one can never be sure.

What I do know is this: I am sorry. I am sorry my generation didn’t vote more in this election. On my side of town, apparently, only 39 people voted. That’s not enough to change things, but still. I am sorry we didn’t see this coming. I am sorry our electorates ALLOWED this to happen. I am just…. sorry.

Mr. Trump has attacked Latinos with broad language and assumptions, like we’re all rapists, drug dealers, ‘bad,’ illegal, or looking for a meal ticket. He was even denounced by his own party for this, with one individual saying it was, “textbook racism.”

He has inconceivably assumed that all black people live in ‘the inner cities’ and he has a well-documented history of discriminating against blacks (just ask the U.S. Justice Department). Not enough to convince you? Try this: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to author John O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

He openly made fun of a disabled person – on stage, at the podium – and mocked him with hand movements and inappropriate speech patterns to mimic reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition affecting the joints. He did it for attention, he did it for laughs, whatever. He did it, period.

Women. Trump and women. Just google that. I’ll leave this one right there.

The heartbreaking thing is that my boys watched the news this morning, and I could see concern spread across their faces. “But he’s a bully,” said Jacob. “He made fun of that man, that man who was hurt, remember? He laughed at him and made faces at him in front of everyone! Bullying is bad, right?”

“Mom, what about Memaw,” Jon Tyler asked. “She’s Mexican, right? He said he’s building a wall, and that if you’re here illegally, you’ll go home. But Memaw is here legally, right?”

“Yes, baby. She was born in Altheimer, in the U.S.A. She’s fine.”

“But EVERYONE doesn’t know that! I saw on the news that some boys beat up a guy they thought was from Mexico, and he wasn’t, he just didn’t have anywhere to live. So they beat him up for Trump, and then Trump didn’t put them in jail or anything, he was happy they did it. So what if those guys think Memaw is illegal? Or you? Or our cousins or something?”

“And Mom, what happens to the women? The women who said he hugged them or kissed them when he wasn’t supposed to? You’re never supposed to do that, I’m not even supposed to elbow Jon Tyler if he doesn’t want to be touched. You tell us that our bodies are our bodies, and a woman’s body is her body, and no always means no, and that not saying no isn’t saying yes. Do those women have to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the man that made them cry?”

These are the questions I’m faced with as a mother, and it is right now, in this moment, that our country is changing. For the better, or for the worse, only time will tell. So if you read this in a hundred years, take comfort in knowing that I prayed for protection, and God’s grace to do my duty as a citizen and support my president, even if most of our nation didn’t want him, and even if my children fear him.

Heavy Undertaking of a Legacy

Once upon a time, a young woman, a mother, a wife, a friend, sister, aunt, etc., decided to take up the task of genealogy in honor of her late grandmother. That naive lady assumed it would be easy, in this modern day and age, and that the troublesome brick walls that her dear soul-twin complained about would magically be toppled down by something called ‘the Internet.’ Miraculous as that creation was, though, she kept finding her own brick – nay, CONCRETE – walls.

Why?! WHY can’t I just find a snippet, a PARAGRAPH, that mentions this man’s death?! A celebrated Civil War hero! A pillar of the community! A twice-elected Justice of the Peace! And the news of his death blows away in the wind?! And his mother!! Who THE HECK is she?! And that young girl living there?! UGHHH!! Okay. Perspective…. Let’s try another surname for a while, see if maybe I’m too close to this one to see it objectively….

Smooth sailing…. bingo! Record HIT! Yes!! Yes…. …. Waiiittttt a minute….. there are FIVE DIFFERENT JAMES LOWRIES in Galashiels at that time?! And James LAURIE?????? And James Lawrie? And JAMES LOWRY?! Oh, for the love of Pete!

This young woman, with her family tree’s branches once glowing with the glittering of flickering leaves in sunshine, has been knocked down not one branch, but several.

It’s so very easy for us to think that it will all come to us without much initiative, without thorough confirmation, and secondary sources. Reliability is imperative in the world of genealogy, and we all know how well we can rely on word-of-mouth (Indian princess, you say?), so I decided I wasn’t going to put much stock into what my grandmother thought she had figured out on our tree. Some of her information, the elements that were first-hand, were, of course, right on target. But some vital dates and names were skewed by what she’d been told, what little records she had access to miles and miles from the location she was researching, and hand-me-down assumptions that led to misinformation.

Knowing that, I decided I would correct it. My grandfather passed away in February of this year, and I wish I had recorded every story he ever told me. There was so much about his life I didn’t know, but there was also so much that I nearly pried out of him. I feel confident now, that I can write his story and tell it true, or as true as he led me to believe, anyway. But even in his later years, when I shared with him the things I had discovered in my research, some things even he didn’t know. He had no idea his grandfather had another family – a son, and grandchildren. He didn’t know that his grandmother also had another child, a daughter that was born out of wedlock, and essentially taken in under the cover of a long-lost niece with an extended vacation. For all the knowledge he had as seen through his eyes, the facts were occasionally patched with a more fascinating thread. And while those stories are titillating to rehearse in typical southern sass, they can distort the facts for future generations.

Now, don’t get me wrong, here – I am absolutely in favor of those familial tall-tales. Be it the story of my great-great-uncle finding a bag of money in an abandoned car and burying that stash in my great-grandfather’s front yard; or my great-grandfather hiding under the baseboards of his grandparents’ house while they entertained Jesse James during his trek through Rolla, Missouri – they should be carried down, kept alive through the mouths of descendants for decades to come. But they should not be taken as 100-percent fact. These tales are not fodder for primary or secondary sources. For all I know, the Jesse James story could have started off as the time my great grandfather and his brothers got stuck under the baseboards while playing out the part of the outlaw.

So, my grandmother had her stories. How her parents met, when they married, and where… but, alas, I’ve yet to discover a marriage certificate from them. By all accounts, it seems they never ACTUALLY married! Can you imagine the shock of finding that out about your parents? Wowza. That’s a mind-blower, right there!

So when you bear the heavy undertaking of genealogy from a loved one who passed the candle to you, use it as a rough timeline unless it’s accompanied by at least two primary sources. If it doesn’t have any confirmed evidence, it may get the ball rolling, at very least.

 

Happy hunting!!

Edward James Roberts

We all have that one. That ONE person in our tree that ropes us in, ties us up, and doesn’t loosen the lasso until we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of facts, census records, and questionable neighbors. We can become so wrapped up in a person that we forget the daily details of our own lives.

(“Supper? Oh, my goodness, honey, I’m sorry. Pizza. Yes, again. Third night’s a charm.”)

But what we take away from that person, what we learn, what we teach ourselves, it’s often completely worth it. Maybe it’s not the story you expected, or maybe it’s worse than you have always been told. But, all in all, it’s what makes us who we are today, so it’s hard not to appreciate their struggle, even if you are bitter about some of their decisions.

My suck-me-in ancestor is a man named Edward James Roberts. He would be my 3x great grandfather, and was the father of Robert Roberts – who you may know from past posts, was the husband of Eliza Lowrie.

Let me start this off with a warning: Edward-themed discussions mean I will ramble. So get comfortable.


Edward James Roberts

b. 6 April 1836, Wales     m. 5 June 1870, Hustisford, WI     d. 11 Feb 1894, Hemingford, NE

  • Born to Robert Roberts (source: Wisconsin Marriages, Pre-1907) and Elizabeth ________, in Wales. State/County unknown. Elizabeth was born in 1794, also in Wales (source: Cemetery Record, Hustisford, 1870 U.S. Census, 1880 U.S. Census). It is not known when Elizabeth immigrated, or what port she arrived at. Personally, I am of the opinion it was between 1863 and 1865. Though I have located a cemetery record with her information, it did not include her maiden name. A death record has yet to be found, as Wisconsin did not officially start keeping vital records until 1907. I have contacted the relevant historical society and requested their expertise for locating Dodge County, Wisconsin records prior to 1907.
  • Since it is unknown exactly where in Wales Edward immigrated from, it’s difficult to say whether he had siblings. Upon searching Wales, Parish Extracts, Births and Baptisms, I could only locate one Edward Roberts with a similar birth date who was born to a Robert Roberts and wife, Elizabeth. That record would place him as being born in Monmouthshire, and a child with four siblings (oldest brother, Robert, then Edward, then younger sister Jane, and brothers John, and Lewis, respectively). This family makeup shows them in Vaynor, Breconshire in the 1851 Wales Census.

The first family listed is that of Edward's. The address is 70 Field Street, Vaynor, Breconshire.

The first family listed is that of Edward’s. The address is 70 Field Street, Vaynor, Breconshire.

  • If you follow this particular family, you’ll see a partial group of them in the 1861 Census. However, Elizabeth is now a widow, obviously indicating that Robert died sometime between 1851 and 1861. I cannot validate or find a record yet that states when or where, but as he was a miner, I assume it was a casualty of the job. I expect that it occurred about 1856, since that is when Edward leaves home for America. My concerns are as follows: first, where is his older brother, Robert, and his sister, Jane? Jane probably married, and had started a family, but she did not live immediately close to her widowed mother and younger brothers, as she’s nowhere on the census page. Robert, I believe, has already immigrated to America, and is possibly living in Ohio. More on this later.
Family numbers 229 and 230 are in the home at Hafod Side, Llanwonno, Glamorgan, Wales.

Family numbers 229 and 230 are in the home at Hafod Side, Llanwonno, Glamorgan, Wales.

  • The reason I feel confident that this family at 229/230 is MY Elizabeth Roberts and sons, is the woman listed as a lodger. Gwenllian Williams, age 38, married, charwoman (housekeeper). Her husband is not found on this census, and she’s living with Elizabeth and her two sons, who both work in the mines. Where/who is her husband?
  • Edward immigrated to the USA five years prior to the 1861 Wales Census. In November 1856, he boarded the ship “Dreadnought” in Liverpool, England, and headed for the Port of New York. Looking at the Passenger list, one thinks that he traveled with a man named Daniel Williams, b. 1819, in Wales. Now, in 1819, Edward’s mother would have been 25 years old. I think that Daniel is her son from a previous marriage, and that Gwenllian Williams who we see in 1861 with Elizabeth in Wales is Daniel’s wife, which would make her Elizabeth’s daughter-in-law. Elizabeth would have been 42 when Edward was born, well past the typical age of marriage for that time period. Of course, this is all circumstantial until I can find paper proof, so I’ll just put a pin in this until I come across the right documentation.
  • Edward in America: He arrived in November, 1856. A book about Dodge County, Wisconsin that was published in 1880 states that Edward spent “10 months in Ohio, having made a trip through the South, before arriving in Clyman.” It is Clyman where we find him in the 1860 U.S. Census.
Family no. 7, Richard & Sarah Jarman, have Edward and a handful of other workers living with them and working on the farm.

Family no. 7, Richard & Sarah Jarman, have Edward and a handful of other workers living with them and working on the farm.

  • Richard and Sarah Jarman have a thriving farm (real estate valued at $8,000 in 1860 was a big deal) in Clyman, Wisconsin, and have four workers living with them. Now Richard was born in Wales, and incidentally, is roughly the same age as Daniel Williams. Could they have known one another, leading to Edward’s job on a large, prosperous farm?
  • 1861: Now, looking back, we know what this time period means. But then, no one could have imagined the hell that would ensue. Edward, with no family living near him, hundreds of miles from his mother and two younger brothers, and unmarried, did what most young men did. He enlisted. He signed up Oct. 1, 1861 in Milwaukee, WI for the Union Army. He was assigned to the 7th Wisconsin Indep’t Battery, Light Artillery. I can’t imagine the letters he would write home to his mother, or if he was even able to get word to her during that time. The 7th was a powerhouse of men dedicated to swooping in and setting up cannons as fast as possible. They were present for the Siege of Island No. 10, and numerous battles in Kentucky and Tennessee, as they tried to hold off Forrest’s Raid. Over a year into his service, Edward was probably feeling the wear of every other soldier who longed for home. On December 20, at Parker’s Crossroads, Tennessee, Edward and the 7th faced a battle with the Confederates, and as an early Christmas present, Edward was shot in his right foot. It would be a wound that changed the course of his life, and even of my life, today.
  • The Wisconsin Historical Society has the following information on the 7th: The 7th Wisconsin Light Artillery, also known as the “Badger State Flying Artillery,” was organized at Racine and mustered into service on October 4, 1861. From Racine it moved to St. Louis, Missouri, on March 15-16 and then to New Madrid, Missouri, on March 19-21, 1862. From Missouri the regiment moved through Tennessee and Mississippi. It participated in some smaller engagements, the Battle of Brice’s or Tishamingo Creek, and the repulse of Forrest’s attack on Memphis. The battery mustered out on July 6 and was honorably discharged in July 20, 1865. It lost 29 men during service. One officer and nine enlisted men were killed and 19 enlisted men died from disease.
  •  Edward was discharged in early October 1863. Three other men in the battery were shot at Parker’s Crossroads, and all three consequently died from their wounds within two weeks: Sgt. Minot J. Marsden, Sgt. Alfred Wallwork, Pvt. Orrin L. Clark.War Department Info from Homestead Application

Included in Edward’s Homestead application

Statement from War Department, Col. R.R. Livingston, Commanding Post St. Louis, MO

Statement from War Department, Col. R.R. Livingston, Commanding Post St. Louis, MO

  • Edward went from a hardworking farm laborer to permanently disabled. He filed for an invalid pension on Feb. 6, 1864, not long after he was discharged.

Edward Roberts' Pension Index

  • Unable to work as efficiently as he did prior to the war, he became a stonemason. He married Caroline Habel, born in Prussia, on June 5, 1870, the same day that the census was taken in Hustisford, Dodge County, WI. His mother, Elizabeth, is now in the USA, and a 12-year-old girl, born in Wales, named Elizabeth WILLIAMS.
House no. 195

House no. 195


For today, I leave you with this record and a question: who is Elizabeth Williams??

Leaning on My Brick Walls

I suppose bricks are destructible. I mean, you’d need something pretty strong to take it out, but there are such forces in the world. I’ve seen brick homes taken out by tornadoes, seen wrecking crews demolish entire structures with dynamite, and we all know Miley Cyrus is a fan of the wrecking ball. But what force could be strong enough to break through a genealogists’ brick wall? What could possibly chip away at it, weaken it; or, find the key to unlock the hidden door that was right in front of us all along? What, indeed.

I’ve been MIA for a bit, and this is unfortunate for my creative process, because it’s sometimes difficult to get back in the swing of things. We had a death in the family (86-year-old great uncle to my husband, and a man of a larger than life legacy), and with baseball season starting up (my oldest is in his third year of city league) and farming season kicking into full swing (my husband is cheating on me with a tractor!), things have snowballed into scheduled chaos.

But in these last few weeks, I’ve discovered the joy of Facebook’s genealogy groups – if you haven’t joined these, let me take a moment and urge you to do so now. Go on, open another tab, and go to your facebook page. Check out the group Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – RAOGK USA, Genealogy Chit Chat, and G A A (Genealogy Addicts Anonymous). Also, don’t forget to Like and Follow Lisa Louise Cook and the wonderful folks at Genealogy Gems Podcast. And, if you need more, Like the Who Do You Think You Are? page, and you’ll be able to check out some unaired bonus scenes from the most recent episodes (Sundays! TLC! YES!!!!).

I’ve also been running full force towards a brick wall, trying my best to charge at it and break it down. Needless to say, it has not worked. It is all centered around one individual: my 3x great grandmother, Fannie (Bearden) Clark. She married Robert Marion Clark sometime, somewhere (I assume around 1896, in either Cannon or Madison County, TN, Union or Webster County, KY; or in Missouri). She had my 2xGGM Bertha Mae Clark in Madison County, TN on 3 Aug 1898. They are found on the 1900 Census in Madison County. With them is her mother, Elvira Bearden, who is a widow. I assume Fannie dies not too long after that, since in 1902, Robert Marion Clark married Senthia/Sentha/Cynthia Tims/Tins/Tines in Madison County. She died on 10 May 1904, and in 1907, Robert marries her sister, Mary Elizabeth, this being his fourth marriage (first to Alice Adams in Webster County, KY on 15 Oct 1891.

I can find no marriage record for Robert and Fannie. No death record for her, either. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Big ol’ goose egg.

I’ve searched for weeks now, and under every variation I could imagine. I’ve looked through Kentucky records, Tennessee records, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas…. and found nothing. My great aunt says that Fannie was Native American, and that the reason my 2xGGM Bertha was sent to Arkansas was because her step mother thought she was a ‘savage’ or had ‘savage blood’ and essentially she sold her into indentured servitude to a family in Tuckerman. These puzzle pieces fit with the time and location, but I can find no proof of it. And that alone is enough to drive someone absolutely insane!

And so I am open to suggestions, friends. If she was, indeed, Native American, that may explain why I can’t locate a marriage license, but wouldn’t it be unusual to find her in the 1880 census, listed as ‘W’, with her father, Humphrey Bearden, and mother Elvira (District 5, Cannon County, Tennessee; siblings are also in the home)? Unless Humphrey married a woman who was Native American and she kind of assumed the race since she married a white man. I am clueless on researching Tennessee’s Native American records.

And to be honest, this brick wall that I’m leaning against feels just as solid as the first day I tried to knock it down.

Genealogy Hopscotch

Well, in my absence, my husband and I bought a home, renovated and revamped it, moved into it, and pretty much got paint on every piece of clothing I own. But, thank the Good Lord above, we are now in a much better, beautiful home, with much more room. I could not be happier with our new house. With all of that chaos, though, brought the typical “we must move the Wifi” dilemma. Of course, I wanted it moved with us, but I didn’t quite want to stop my digging long enough to pack up my office and all of my charts/maps that decorated my organized chaos of a wall. So, we did all of that in one day. Let me suggest one thing – never… ever… do that. I’m just now getting settled and finally finding things to put where I need them. I’m not quite happy with the set up yet, but it’s a work in progress, and there’s a saying among homeowners that goes something like, “Well, you have a 30-year mortgage, so you’ll have plenty of time!” Hopefully, I’ll get it all organized soon.

In the meantime, my husband’s ‘they tell us we’re related’ cousin contacted me and asked if I could find out just how in the world they were really kin to one another. Never one to refuse a challenge, I gathered my laptop, a notebook and pens, and took off over to their front porch, where his wife and I set up shop, talking all about the who’s and when’s involved in finding a link. About three hours later, we hit the jackpot when we determined that this gentleman is my husband’s first cousin, 3x removed. All of his life, he’d wondered, and now he knows. It felt nice to answer that question.

When I got home, I got to thinking about all of the surnames I’m into. The realistic thing to do would be to work on one at a time, but those who know me know that I am anything but logical. My mind skips and hops between time periods – who were my revolutionary patriots? War of 1812 vets? Mexican War? How about my Unions and Confederates? Wait, what about during the Industrial Revolution? Were any of my ancestors touched particularly by the battle of titans Andrew Carnagie and John D. Rockafeller? Then there’s WWI, the Depression, and then WWII, and Korea, oh my! I could go on for hours, spinning my wheels and digging myself deeply into records as thick as buckshot mud, and then, that afternoon, catch a rerun of “Sons of Liberty” and I’m back to the Revolution again.

So where does one find her footing? Do you guys leap from name to name like I tend to? From time to time? War to war? How do you stay focused if you happen to find a clue that perhaps you’ve been searching for, but for a name you aren’t looking into that week?

Maybe, just maybe, I can devise a system that will increase my productivity, and still allow me to have a ball researching. Certainly that exists, right? 🙂

Why We Dig

I find that it’s difficult to explain to NGNs (non-genealogy-nerds) the branches, the pedigrees, the generational terms that we’ve come to speak in. Often times, over this holiday season, I’ve found myself backtracking and explaining what 1x removed means, or the tree of relation to an ancestor I’ve recently discovered something about. I’ve even noticed some people’s eyes starting to glaze over and their attention shift, and by that point, I know I’ve lost them. So how does one keep focus when trying to share these little nuggets of wisdom? And one may ask why bother, if they aren’t interested?

Simple: when we were on the other side of the mountain, we weren’t interested either. We didn’t really pay much attention to the tales our grandparents told us as we were eager to ride our bikes or chase the daylight, and now, in the days of adulthood, we look back and wish, “Dang it, why didn’t I write that down?! WHYYYY didn’t I listen to my great-grandmother’s story of how she met my great-grandfather?!” My goal is to help my family know these stories, and to share my knowledge, and maybe give them another level of appreciation for their loved ones. For example, my mother-in-law did not know the extent of her father’s service in World War II, and after my seemingly endless digging, I was able to finally find proof of his overseas campaign service and of the medals he was awarded. He now has a page on the WWII memorial website, and after reading that, she was speechless for a while. Finally, she said, “I had no idea…. no wonder he never wanted to talk about it. This makes me understand him a bit more, and even more proud to be his daughter.”

Being able to help others like that brings me a level of pride, it makes me feel like I can connect them to a part of their past that they never knew existed. I love that feeling more than any pride I’ve had in any job I’ve ever held. It proves that genealogy is much more than a hobby for me – it’s a passion. And helping others like that? It’s why we dig.