Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Davises of Tompkinsville, Kentucky

First, obviously, I took some time off from writing this blog, but I didn’t realize it had been 6 months! I never intended for it to be that long, but this summer was just to nice to be indoors working on anything. Then, my sister, Cindy, and I made a genealogy trip back out to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in October. And now, here we are and it’s almost 2015! Procrastination may have played a part in this delay, too. So, now it’s time to get back to work on this blog.

Charles P Davis
Sarah Percy Davis
The Davis family is one that I really never heard much about while growing up. I remember my grandma, Edna Shepherd Happekotte mentioning “Grandpa Davis” [pictured on the left] occasionally, but not much more than just mentioning…. or maybe I just wasn’t listening very carefully. Grandpa Davis was Charles P Davis who was born in Tennessee probably DeKalb County and later lived in Tompkinsville, Kentucky and for a long time in  LaGrange, Missouri. Monroe County, Kentucky is located in south central Kentucky and is situated on the Kentucky-Tennessee line. Tompkinsville is the county seat and that was the home of our Davis branch of the family. My mother’s notes mentioned Pumpkinville and we found my great grandma Mary Davis Shepherd’s obituary that said she was born in Pumpkinville! That’s close enough sounding to Tompkinsville that I believe they are one in the same.

Charles married Sarah Jane Percy [pictured on the right above] in Clay Co., Tennessee on October 27, 1878. They moved to Tompkinsville by December of 1881 because that is when and where their first child, Daniel, was born. They didn’t have to move far because Clay County, Tennessee borders Monroe County, Kentucky on the south. Their second child, Mary Elizabeth [my great grandmother], was born in Tompkinsville on October 7, 1882. By 1886, the family had moved to Linneus, Linn Co., Missouri because their third child, George William was born there on January 11, 1886. A fourth child, Charles Lee, was born on February 22, 1888 in Gregory, Clark Co., Missouri. I have no primary source confirmation of that as of yet. Charles Lee was a little more than two years old when he died on October 12, 1890. Their last child, Lillie Belle, was born in LaGrange, Lewis Co., Missouri on February 15, 1899. Her grandson, Keith Jones, has been a treasure trove of information and stories about her, about her husband Cornell (Jack) Allen, and about Charles Davis. I have so enjoyed listening to his stories. We are sharing information about the Davis family. We know that Charles’ father was Henry Lee Davis [more about him in a future blog], but tracing back to Henry Lee’s father is proving to be a challenge.

Sarah Jane Percy Davis died on January 16, 1923 in LaGrange. She was just six days shy of her sixty-first birthday when she passed. Charles survived about thirteen more years. He was still in LaGrange according to the 1930 US Federal Census, but sometime after that he moved in with relatives in Quincy, Illinois which is just a few miles south of LaGrange. I suspect the relatives he was living with would have been his daughter, Mary Davis Shepherd, who was living in Quincy. Charles died at the state hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois on August 24, 1936. He had been there for eight months. I have yet to find out why he was there.

Charles had worked for the railroad most of his life. Keith Jones told me that is probably why they moved from Kentucky to Missouri. It would also explain why they moved often.

Oh, and if you look on the map of Monroe County above, you will find a town called Bugtussle! For those of you who remember the show “The Beverly Hillbillies”, you may recognize the name. It was the hometown of the Clampetts! Well, so far, I haven’t found any Clampetts in our background, but if I do, you may never find out!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

William Henry Shepherd

First, I must return briefly to the “brick wall” named James Lewis Jenkins. In the March 11 post about him, I had mentioned the belief that James Lewis Jenkins could be the brother of George W Jenkins. They had been born in 1806 and 1809,respectively. If they were brothers then their parents would have been William Norris and Priscilla Hoskins Jenkins. As I mentioned, this is purely conjecture on my part. Since then, I have developed another scenario. William Norris Jenkins had a brother, George W Jenkins (born-1780). It is very possible that this could be the father of James Lewis Jenkins. This “brick wall” is becoming thicker!

I have made a contact with a woman in Quincy whose ancestors were George W Jenkins and Martha Cravens. She also has a friend who lives in Lewis County and knows quite a bit about the Jenkins/Cravens lines. Perhaps, I can meet her the next time we are in Quincy to do some genealogy. Also, we need to get back to the Lewis County Historical Society and see if there is something there we missed the first time. Another possibility is the library at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri; they may have old newspapers from the area or other sources to check. James Lewis Jenkins died in 1861; it would be great to find an obituary that could possibly list his place of birth and/or parents!

So, I continue to search for a way over, around, or through this brick wall! I’ll keep you posted.

William H Shepherd

What I know about my second great grandfather is pretty sketchy so far. Much of what I have on William is unconfirmed so should not be used on other genealogies, except as clues.   William was born in Hunnewell (Honeywell), Shelby County, Missouri on October 19, 1845. His parents were John S and Mary J Tompkins Sheppard. All of this in unconfirmed as it was on the online tree of his granddaughter but it was not cited. I had a phone conversation with her, but did not get any confirmation of the information. She had been ill and I think was suffering from some early dementia. She also indicated that she would be moving to a nursing home in the near future. Attempts to contact her son on Facebook and by mail went unanswered. That was very disappointing as I’m willing to bet his mother did have some sources that could have been shared.

William married Nancy “Nannie” A Jenkins on April 16, 1866. This was after he had served in the Civil War as a private in Co. B of the 69th Regiment of the Missouri Militia. William and Nancy had six children: Edward, Jennie Irene, Robert Elmer (my great grandfather), Pearl, Mary E., and William P. I believe the last two children died very young. On one census, William was listed as a blacksmith; in a Lewis County Journal article about his wife, he was listed as a cooper. William died on Dec 17, 1925 and is buried at Riverview Cemetery in LaGrange, Missouri along side of his wife.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nancy "Nannie" Jenkins Shepherd

Nancy was my second great grandmother and the mother of Robert E Shepherd, my maternal great grandfather. She was born June 21, 1846 in La Grange, Lewis County, Missouri and lived there her entire life. Her parents were James L Jenkins and Nancy Ann Tuley. James had been one of the early pioneers of LaGrange and, as I mentioned in the last post, he had been on the first town council there back in 1854. Nancy married William H Shepherd on April 16, 1866 in LaGrange. They had been married for 59 years when he passed away in 1925. Nancy had been a member of the First Baptist Church in LaGrange for 64 years.

Nancy and William’s family included William P, Edward, Jennie Irene,  Mary Elizabeth, Robert Elmore (my great grandfather), Charles H., and Pearl Mabel.

Because Nancy was one of LaGrange’s oldest residents, she was honored at the planting of a centennial tree in LaGrange on Friday, April 4, 1930. She placed the first shovel of dirt around the tree. On Saturday, her children came and got her for a visit to Quincy with family for a few days. She was staying at the home of her son, Robert. Sadly, on Wednesday, April 9, 1930, Nannie died at her son’s home.

There were family stories that she was part Cherokee, but I have never been able to determine that. I just don’t know much about her life in LaGrange. However, from reading one article published about her in a local newspaper and from her obituary,  she was a loyal member of her church having been a member for so long and she seemed to be very devoted to her family and they to her.

I can’t help but wonder what she must have thought about all of the changes in the world that she would have witnessed such as the inventions of electricity, automobiles, trains, and airplanes to name but a few. She would have been 16 years old when the Civil War began; so she probably had some remembrances of it. She would have remembered the Spanish-American War and World War I. It would have been amazing to have been able to talk to her about all of this!
The photo above is a four-generation photo. Standing are my grandmother, Edna Shepherd Happekotte and my great grandfather, Robert E Shepherd. The child is my mother, Patricia Happekotte Schell and holding her is my second great grandmother, Nancy Jenkins Shepherd. 

The photo below, I believe, is Nancy. The back of the photo says South Park [in Quincy, IL] and the date is May 1, 1927

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

James Lewis Jenkins- LaGrange Pioneer

This ancestors has proven to be one of the most elusive. I’m sure it is not because he chose to be secretive but rather that back in his days, there were few official records kept. I have never been able to find an actual birth date. The only data I have for his birth is that which was reported on censuses and that can be, at times, untrustworthy. Back in the 1800s when censuses were taken, the census taker was not required to get the information from the people who actually lived in the household. Imagine a census taker on horseback out in the countryside coming to a house and no one being available to give information. He could have gotten it from nearby neighbors who probably didn’t know an actual birth year or where their neighbors were actually born. Or the census taker may may gotten the information from an older child who happened to be at home and may not have been accurate. By getting the information in these ways, the census taker would not have to make another trip back to get the information…. no telephones remember! There were all kinds of problems with those earlier censuses, so genealogists do not generally use them as proof but as good clues. When that is all you have to go on, then that is what you must use until you can locate more substantial proof. So that is where I am with James. According to census information, he was born in about 1806 in Kentucky. I have more than one census that agrees with that, so I feel somewhat comfortable that its accuracy is pretty close.
    I have also not been able to determine just where in Kentucky he was born. At this point, I strongly feel it was Bullitt County. On the map of Kentucky, you can see Bullitt County just south of Louisville. I found a history of Lewis County that had some biographies. There were three short biographies of William N, James, and George W Jenkins. This was not the James who is the subject of this writing because this James had been born in 1849. All three of these men had been born in Nelson County, Kentucky. Nelson County, as you can see on the map, is right next to Bullitt County. All three of these men are the sons of George W Jenkins, Sr. who I believe was born in Bullitt County in 1809. This is purely conjecture at this point, but I am thinking that James Lewis Jenkins and George W Jenkins, Sr. were brothers. Their birth years of 1806 and 1809 strongly suggest that possibility. That would make the three Jenkins men who were in the Lewis County history book nephews of the subject of this writing. And it might explain why all three men came to Lewis County with their widowed mother, Martha Cravens Jenkins. As I mentioned, this is all supposition at this point until I can find some proof of the possible relationship between James L and George W Jenkins, Sr. And, I might add, this is the real fun in genealogy…….. trying to find this proof! It is especially challenging when you are dealing with a time in which few birth, death, and marriage records were kept by counties. Hopefully, I will be able to report some progress in this quest in the future.

Back to James and his life, at least, what I do know. I have a land patent for some land he bought in Marion County, Missouri, which is just south of Lewis County. This happened in 1833, so I know he is in Missouri by that time. He married Nancy A Tuley on 2 July 1835 in Lewis County. Their children were daughters Mary J, Francis P, and Nancy A. They had two sons, John W and James L. The daughter named Nancy A would become known as “Nannie” Jenkins and would eventually marry William Shepherd, the parents of my great grandfather, Robert E Shepherd. In an article in a newspaper after Nannie Jenkins Shepherd died, she said her father, James L Jenkins was a tanner by trade in LaGrange. He also operated a cooper shop and owned the only undertaking business in town. That’s quite a collections of trades! He built the first brick house in LaGrange at the corner of Third and Jackson Streets. The

town of LaGrange was officially organized in 1854 and James served on the first town council.

Another interesting sidelight about James was his “disappearance” in 1850. James was on the 1840 and 1860 census in LaGrange. However, he is not listed with his family on the 1850 census there. At first, I thought the obvious…that he had died, but this was before I had located the 1860 census and found him in LaGrange. So, where was he in 1850? I did some more searching and found a James S Jenkins in Grass Valley, California. What’s going on in California in 1850? ……  think Gold Rush! James is living in a household with two other miners and he is listed as a miner. Just because it says James S and not James L on this census, I strongly believe this is our James because he is the right age and it lists Kentucky as the birth place. And this would explain his absence on the 1850 census in LaGrange. I have searched for proof of James being there and have come up empty so far. I wrote to a library out in that area but they could find nothing. I also have found nothing in Quincy newspapers about people who may have gone out West at this time, but I’ll keep looking.

The 1860 census would be the last census in which James appears. He died in 1861 and, ironically, on the 1860 census, his profession is listed as undertaker!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mary Davis of "Pumpkinville"

I must admit that I know very little of my maternal great grandmother Mary E Davis Shepherd except from what I have been told. I was only about 4 years old when she died; so, unfortunately,  I have no personal memories of her. Mary was born on October 7, 1882 in Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Kentucky to parents Charles Perry Davis and Sarah Jane Percy. At one time we had been told that she was born in Pumpkinville, Kentucky. This always sounded somewhat suspicious to me. When I started digging into her genealogy, I found that she was from Tompkinsville, which to someone, may have sounded like Pumpkinville! Her obituary in the Quincy newspapers actually did say Pumpkinville!

Her family moved to Linneus, Linn  County, Missouri sometime between 1882 and 1886. I was told by Mary’s great nephew, Keith Jones, that they had moved from Kentucky to Missouri due to Charles getting a job with the railroad. They were in Gregory, Clark County, Missouri by 1888 where Mary’s brother Charles Lee was born. By 1899, the family was located in LaGrange, Lewis County, Missouri; this is where Mary’s sister, Lillie Belle, was born.

Mary’s siblings were Dan L. born December 11, 1880 in Tompkinsville; George William born January 11, 1886 in Linneus, Missouri; Charles Lee born February 22, 1888 in Gregory, Missouri; and Lillie Belle born February 15, 1899 in LaGrange, Missouri. Charles Lee only lived to age 2. 

Mary and Robert E Shepherd were married on August 27, 1902 in LaGrange, Missouri. They had a total of seven children. This came as a big surprise to my sister, Cindy, and me when we visited Marks Cemetery in LaGrange, Missouri. We were looking for the tombstones of Mary’s parents and her grandmother, Margaret Percy. We successfully found them, but we also found a tombstone nearby with four children’s names. They turned out to be children of Mary and Robert Shepherd who had all died very young. They were Norma Estelle (1909-1913), Mildred (1908), Robert Russell (1919), and Mary Elma (1920). I remember my grandma talking about Norma, but I had never heard of the other four. So, this was quite a find for us. 

In the picture below, from left to right, Mabel, Edna, Mary, Robert, and Charles

Mom had written down many remembrances of her Grandma Mary. Keith Jones also told me that he knew her as Aunt Molly which I had never heard before. She was a great cook; mom remembered her making noodles and they would be hanging all over the place to dry. She had a small pig when they lived on 22nd Street in Quincy; it would follow grandma around the yard like a pet. Grandma also had a pig collection that was handed down to my grandma and then mom. Unfortunately, it was lost in mom’s house fire in 1985. Grandma always had a big garden and she raised turkeys when they lived on Oak Street in Quincy. She had a grape arbor in the back yard and always made grape jelly. From the garden, she would sell some of the produce, but anything left over was canned. Mary and husband, Robert, had worked in a button factory in Muscatine, Iowa but I am not sure when that occurred. 

 In the picture below, from left to right, is Mary and children Mabel, Charles, and Edna
In LaGrange around 1920

My great grandparents were extremely kind and generous. They took in a foster child named Russell Mansperger during the time of the Great Depression. I am not certain when they took him in or why, but he was with them in the 1930 census at the age of 10. He continued to live with them until tragedy struck when Russell drowned in the municipal pool when he was 20.

One funny story I learned about great grandma was she always called her husband, Robert,  “Dad”. When asked why, she said she wasn’t sleeping with a grandpa! From the sounds of it, great grandma was quite the kidder! Mom said in her notes that great grandma “had a little bit of the devil dancing in those beautiful eyes”. One time when the grandkids were out playing, she called out to them and asked if they wanted some hot chocolate. Of course, they all said yes. When they came inside and finished the hot chocolate, grandma asked everyone if they liked it. “YES!” was the reply. Then she started laughing and told them she had made it with goat’s milk! I’m glad I wasn’t around!

After the tragedy of losing four children very young  and losing their foster child, she seems to have been a very strong person. It’s amazing to me that she was able to maintain such a wonderful sense of humor. I only wish I had been able to know her.