Mary Ann James: Living Close to Home

#52Ancestors     Week 4: Close to Home

Many of my ancestors seemed to be born, to live and to die in the same locale.  As for the ancestors that lived in the 1800’s that was particularly true.  After all, many were farmers and toiled on their lands and could only socialize with close neighbors.  Travel was by wagon or horseback and the miles one could cover were limited.  For the most part, they just stayed put.  Smyth County, Virginia, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, was a place many of my ancestors lived their entire lives.  I have been researching the James family line and am starting with Mary Ann James, my second great-grandmother.  She lived her life in Smyth County around a town called Sugar Grove.

Smyth County VA Map 2 001 (2)
Here is where Smyth County is in the state of Virginia!


Mary Ann James was born 18 Jun 1838 in Sugar Grove, Smyth County, Virginia and was the first child of eight children of Thompson B James and Susannah J Porter.  The 1840 Census for Thompson B James listed the family living in Smyth County with 2 daughters, Mary Ann and her sister Frances Elizabeth.   The 1850 Census revealed that they lived on a small farm – certainly not rich folks!   The real estate value of their land was listed at $1500 in this census which would be about $42,000 in today’s value.  Compared to other farms in the area, this was a smaller farm leading me to believe that the James family were not as well off financially as some of their neighbors.

Smyth County, VA Map 001
Here is a closer view of Smyth County showing the Sugar Grove area.


In the 1850 census, Mary Ann was listed as 12 and Frances as 10 but there were now more siblings.  William Porter James was age 8, Louisa Freedom James was age 5 and James A James was just 2 years old.   There was another daughter named America Adaline James who was born 30 Oct of 1845 but died of unknown causes on 17 Feb of 1849 at just about 3 1/2 years old!  America died before she was listed in any census.  Susannah James also must have been pregnant when the census was taken as their seventh child, Oscar LeGrand James, was born on 1 Nov 1850.   No doubt that Mary Ann, being the oldest, was relied on for helping with the chores and taking care of her younger siblings.  It must have been quite sad for the family to lose little America Adaline at such a young age!

The last and eighth child, Susannah Columbia James, was born 2 Jan 1853.  But tragedy struck the family again in 1853 when Thompson, Mary Ann’s father, died on 24 Dec, Christmas Eve!  He was but 40 years old and died of “consumption” which was the common term at that time for tuberculosis.  He was most likely ill with the disease for a long period of time which would have put more responsibility for the rest of the family to run the farm.  Mary Ann was only 15 when her father passed.  Susannah was left with seven children to raise on her own and run the farm.

The next year brought more tragedy for Mary Ann’s family.  The baby Susannah Columbia died in September of 1854 at about one year and eight months old.  How sad for Susannah to have to bury another young child especially after losing her husband!  Susannah continued to work the farm with the help of her children for about 9 more years and then remarried to a William M James.

Mary Ann married Columbus Perry Ashlin on 18 Sep 1855.  Mary was 17 years old and Columbus was 25 at the time of marriage.  Columbus had been also born in Sugar Grove, Virginia like Mary Ann and was the son of Chesley Ashlin and Phoebe Byrd James, local farmers.  If you check last weeks blog, you will discover how Mary Ann and Columbus were related to each other!   Mary Ann and Columbus went on to have 12 children and lived in the same area around Sugar Grove all their lives.  Their first child was Susanna Virginia Ashlin, born in 1856, who married George Lyons, and were my paternal great-grandparents.  Columbus passed away in 1902 and Mary Ann passed on 20 Sep of 1921.  They are both buried in the Ashlin-Wilkinson Cemetery in Sugar Grove.

Mary Ann (James) Ashlin lived to age 83 and died in St. Clair, a small community outside of Sugar Grove.  She lived her whole life in the Sugar Grove area.  Although it appears that the first part of her life growing up had a lot of tragedy, she went on and made a good life with her husband Columbus.  However, they did not completely escape tragedy.  Three of their children, two sons and a daughter, died in infancy.  The rest of the children thrived and married and gave them many grandchildren!


  • Trimble, David B.; Montgomery and James of Southwest Virginia.  Austin, Texas, 1992, pg. 20.
  • Vogt, John and Kethley, T. William Jr.; Smyth County Marriages, 1832-1850. Iberian Press Publishing, Athens, Georgia, 1984, p. 27.
  • U.S. Federal Census 1840, Smyth, Virginia; Roll: 578; Rage: 396; FHL microfilm: 0029692.
  • U. S. Federal Census 1850, District 60, Smyth, Virginia; Roll: M432_976; Page: 227A; Image: 455.
  • Hockett, Thomas Jack & Hunt, Sheila Steele; Smyth County, Virginia Marriages, 1851-1891.  Hockett and Hunt Publishers, 1999, p. 90.
  • Register of Births for the Southern District of Virginia, 1856; FHL microfilm: 2,046,967.









A James Family Line with an Interesting Twist!

#52Ancestors  Week 3 – Long Line

Columbus and Mary ann grave 001

While thinking of which of the long lines of ancestors I would like to explore next, I decided to research more on the ” James” line.   The James family line is on my father’s side of the family and started mainly with Columbus Ashlin and his wife, Mary Ann James who are my second great-grandparents.  The curious thing about this couple is that they were actually cousins of a sort!

First, let’s look at the maternal line for Columbus.  Columbus Perry Ashlin, born 5 September 1830 in Sugar Grove, Smyth, Virginia, was the son of Chesley Harrison Ashlin and Phoebe Byrd James – Yes, his mother was a James!  Now Phoebe James was born in 1797 in Virginia to Spencer James and Frances Davis.   So, to review, Chesley and Phoebe were my third great-grandparents and Phoebe’s parents, Spencer James and Frances Davis James were the fourth great-grandparents.    And, just to add to the lineage, Spencer James’ parents, Samuel James and Mildred Taliaferro, are the fifth great-grandparents.  Here’s how is works out on the pedigree chart below.

Columbus pedigree 001

Now, let’s look at the paternal line for Columbus Ashlin’s wife, Mary Ann James.  Mary Ann, born 18 June 1838 in Smyth County, Virginia, was the daughter of Thompson B James and Susannah Porter who are my third greats.  Thompson B James was the son of Ezekial Beriel James and Frances Baker James.  Thompson James’s parents, Ezekial and Frances would be my fourth great-grandparents.  So far, so good.

Now it is getting a bit dicey as I discovered that Frances Baker James’ parents are Spencer James and Frances Davis – the same couple that are parents of Columbus Ashlin’s mother, Phoebe Byrd James.  Research proved that Phoebe Byrd James and Frances Baker James were indeed sisters and daughters of Spencer James and Frances Davis!  This is where the cousin relationship comes in for Columbus and Mary Ann.  Of Spencer and Frances’ daughters, the older daughter, Frances Baker, was born in 1791, married Ezekial James when she was but 16 years old.  Her sister, Phoebe, was born in 1797 and did not marry Chesley Ashlin until she was 25 years old.

However, recall that Spencer James and Frances Davis are my 4th greats according to Columbus’ lineage.  Now let’s look at Mary Ann’s pedigree and when we find her connection to Spencer and Frances, they are actually my 5th great-grandparents in her lineage!  So Spencer and Frances are my 4th AND my 5th great-grandparents!  This makes Spencer’s parents, Samuel James and Mildred Taliaferro my 5th AND my 6th greats depending on which pedigree chart you are following!  Take a look at Mary Ann’s pedigree chart!

Mary Ann's pedigree 001

So you see, researching the very long James lineage can and will be challenging!  I have to keep in mind that each person was one of my unique ancestors and look for their individual stories!  I will certainly have to minimize their dual relationships to myself and my family and focus more on researching their lives and telling their tales.  More to come in future posts as I share what I find on this long line of the James family!

If you would like to see what I have already written on the James Family Line, you can check out the following posts!

Can a Cemetery be Awesome? This one is!

A Soldier’s Story: Col. Waddy Thompson James

Portrait of a Strong Woman

Are We Related to Jesse and Frank James?

Favorite Photos- Grandma and Visitors!

#52Ancestors:  Week 2 –   Favorite Photo

I have but a few photos of my maternal grandmother, Alma Tusa Knihtila.  She was an immigrant from Finland coming to America with her older brother, Arne Tusa in 1909.  She was 22 years old.  Before Alma left Finland, her mother, Sanna Tusa, had a portrait taken of herself and her three daughters, Alma, Hilja and Hulda.  I was given this photo a couple years ago and was amazed as it was the first time I ever saw my grandmother as a young lady!  She was so very beautiful!  She did live across the alley from us while I was young but I don’t remember but little of her as she passed away when I was six years old in 1952.  She was only 65 years old then.

Grandma K with mother an 2 sisters 001
My Grandmother, Alma is seated on the right next to her mother, Sanna Puirola Tusa.  Behind Alma is her sister Hulda and sister Hilja is on the left.  Circa 1908

My next favorite photo of my grandmother Alma is one I found by accident in my mother’s old album, tucked in the back.  Here Alma is sitting on the left side of the bench and three of her Finnish lady friends have come for coffee and a chat dressed in their Sunday best complete with fancy hats!  My grandmother had the charge of babysitting that day her friends came and the girl on the blanket is me with my older brother, Arthur.  We all had to pose for the picture!

Knihtila, Alma, pic with friends visiting 001

This picture was taken around 1949.  There are a few things I do remember about my ever so kind grandma Alma.  She would take my brother and I regularly to the sauna and get us squeaky clean then buy us an Orange Crush soda from a big red Coca-Cola dispenser.  She went with us to the Finnish Lutheran Church on Sundays and made sure we went to Sunday School.  She had huge lilac bushes in front of her house and I used to pick bouquets for her and she would always act so surprised and pleased when I gave them to her.

She had a huge weaving loom in her barn where she would weave beautiful rugs from rags.  I would sit on the floor next to it while she ran the loom and I would wind strips of rags into balls.   My grandmother had soft brown eyes and very long hair that she would braid and then wind around her head.  At night, she would brush her hair out over and over.  I have other recollection of her but this picture of her and her friends is precious because it stirs old memories.  I can almost hear them chatting in Finnish and laughing together!

My grandmother was beautiful inside and out and I cherish her memory!  You can read more about this amazing person at Mother’s Day: My grandmother Alma

Thank you for visiting my site!



A Difficult Fresh Start for the Cole Families

#52Ancestors, Theme: Fresh Start

It is truly amazing to me what ordeals some of our ancestors had to survive to make a better life for themselves and their families – a “Fresh Start” – so to speak.   To travel to a new place to settle in the mid 1700’s was not an easy endeavor as my ancestral Cole families found out!  This is the story of a journey made by Cole families in 1771.

My sixth great-grandfather, Joseph Cole Jr, son of Joseph Cole Sr. and Freelove Cole, was about 21 years old in 1771, having been born 28 May 1750 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony.  He had recently married Remember Cole (an unforgettable name!) on 26 Nov of 1769 who was born in 1752 and was about 18 years old in 1771.  You probably noticed that her maiden name was the same as Joseph’s but they were actually from two different Cole families – families that were great friends and neighbors.

Joseph Cole Jr. came from a lineage tracing back to James Cole of London (ca1600), then Hugh Cole I, Hugh Cole II, Hugh Cole III and then Joseph Cole Sr, father of Joseph Jr.   On the other hand, Remember Cole’s lineage was from a Daniel Cole (b. ca1614, England, settling in Plymouth Colony in 1633), then Israel Cole I, Israel Cole II, and finally Israel Cole III who was the father of Remember Cole.  Remember Cole’s mother was Emary _____.  It can be confusing but just know that there were two unrelated Cole families that became related through intermarriages.

In the mid 1700s, Israel Cole II and his family, including Israel III’s family,  were found living in Poughkeepsie an New Paltz, Ulster County, New York Colony.  Not surprising is that the Joseph Cole Sr. family were also living there.  These two lines were joined by intermarriages of their children – one such marriage was Joseph Cole Jr and Remember Cole – newlywed in 1769.  Both of these Cole families had received several land grants in Washington County, Virginia – the part of Washington County that would eventually become Smyth County, Virginia in 1832.  One can only speculate why they wanted to move but here it was – their chance for a fresh start!

They decided to travel all together- two families of Coles with parents, grandparents, children and extended families- to their new land and they got together and made a plan for their journey.  Now if this would have been modern times, they could have driven, flew by plane, taken a train, etc. but this was 1771 and roads were poor or non-existent and overland travel was slow and treacherous in wagons and on horseback.  Danger of attacks by Native Americans or highway robbers was real.  The map below shows how far the trip really was from Ulster County, New York to Smyth Co., Virginia!

Cole family journey 001
What the Cole family journey would look like today!

Their grand plan was to jointly hire a boat and sail down the Hudson River to the Atlantic Ocean and sail south to Virginia.  After landing in Virginia, they would travel by river and overland to their destination.  A story regarding the migration of the Cole families to Virginia was carried down through the generations and told to a William Jones, who wrote it in a manuscript:  When Joseph Cole, Zachariah Cole and Sampson Cole with their wives were getting aboard the boat at New York to sail for Norfolk, Virginia together with several others, one of the party, Dorcas Cole, was very much alarmed by the sight of so much water.  She cried out, “We will be drowned, we will be drowned!!” (She was a Baptist) and her brother Eleazer Cole (who was a Methodist Minister), remarked to her, “Stick to your faith!  If you are born to be drowned, you will be and if not, you will not!  That was Baptist doctrine.

Thankfully for me, the Cole families did survive this perilous journey and Joseph Cole Sr. and Freelove Cole, my seventh great-grandparents, settled in the area of the south fork of the Holston River.  Their son, Joseph Cole Jr. and Remember Cole, my sixth great-grandparents,  also settled in that area and raised their family.   Joseph Cole Sr. established a grist mill, called Loves Mill which was still in operation in 1962.   Cole family members in Washington and Smyth Counties are well documented in historical and legal records.  They had large families who farmed their lands, operated grist mills, defended their nation and made valuable contributions to their neighbors and their state.  Their dead are buried in almost every cemetery.  The St. Clair Bottom Primitive Baptist Church has many graves marked with Cole names.  The Coles had indeed made a fresh start and thrived in their new land!

You can read more about the Cole ancestors in another post here: Tribute to Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. – Revolutionary War Ancestor

(Sources upon request)

A Centenarian in the Family: James Marshall Burch

I would like to share the story I discovered about the oldest ancestor I found so far.  James Marshall Burch was the son of Stephen Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel, my third great-grandparents, who I wrote about in the last post, and James lived to 102!  James was my third great-uncle.   Now I was amazed to find an ancestor who lived so long and knew I had to find our more of his story!

James Marshall Burch was born on 14 February of 1831 – our present Valentine’s Day- in Amherst County, Virginia and died 25 February of 1933 at 102 years and 11 days old according to his death certificate.  He married Bettie Elizabeth Coleman on 31 May 1865 in Amherst County, VA.   However, his marriage license listed him as 24 in 1865.  Now wait– that would make him 92 years old at death in 1933.  Clearly, I needed more research.  Going through records I found on James, there were several conflicting facts about his age.  The 1900 U. S. Census recorded him as age 60 making his birth as 1840, not 1831.  Then the 1860 Census recorded him as 26 making his DOB about 1834!

The mystery was solved when I found his three page application for pension documents that was completed in his own handwriting in 1908 and stored in the Library of Virginia.  In a sworn statement, he listed his age as 77 which would make him 102 in 1933 at the time of his death!  The document was witnessed by two comrades from his unit and signed by his physician.  The oath was administered by the Amherst County Circuit Court judge making the affidavit irrefutable proof of his actual age of 77 in 1908.  So he really did live to 102!

Horse drawn trolley VA 001His wife, Bettie Elizabeth Coleman was the daughter of Hugh Nelson Coleman and Mary J Christian.  Bettie was born 15 Mar 1850 in Amherst County VA and when she married 34 year old James Marshall Burch, she was 15 years old.  James worked at various places throughout their marriage including the N&W Railway, the Southern Railway (15 years) and the C&O Railroad (9 years).  He once worked for the Lynchburg Transit Company as a driver for the first horse drawn Trolley.  A picture of a horse drawn trolley is above but that is not James – just an example of an interesting occupation!

Before he married, the Civil War had begun in 1861 and James Marshall enlisted with his older brother, Fielding Burch and younger brother, Milton Burch, in Company G, 51st Virginia Regiment, CSA, under Captain Henley and General Gabriel C Wharton.  The three brothers along with their brother-in-law, George Moon (who was married to their sister Caroline) all enlisted on the same day, 29 Jun 1861, hoping to stay together.   James was in 25 engagements and wounded five times and was captured and escaped several times during his tour of duty.  He participated in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign, Virginia Valley Campaign, Battle of Richmond, Petersburg, eastern Tennessee and the Battle of Manassas.   He applied for his pension in 1908 at age 77 and was proud of his service.  He attended all the Confederate functions and received a lot of attention.  He was a member of the Garland-Rhodes Camp and served as dignitary in post-war celebrations for years receiving military honors at his death.  He was presented an elaborate and ornate walking cane by the U. S. Ambassador from Mexico.  When James passed away, he was buried in his Confederate uniform as he wished.

Burch, James M, with Cmdr Wood, picture 001
James M Burch (left) with R. G. Wood, Garland/Rhodes Camp, Commander, in front of Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg VA

James and Bettie had six daughters and one son, John Henry Burch, Sr, born in 1874 in Amherst County VA and died 1947.  The six daughters were Virginia Elizabeth Burch (1866-1945), Lillie Belle Burch (1871-1936), Mary Sue Burch (1876-?), Laura Burch (1878-1963), Carrie Levinia Burch (1884-1984), and Katie Lelia Burch (1885-1982).  The 1900 city directory for Lynchburg had the family listed as renting at 114 Withers Street and James working for the City of Lynchburg.    By 1920, Bettie, 70, was living with her daughter Carrie Burch Costan and her daughter’s family on Floyd Street and James Marshall, 86, was living next door with another daughter and family, Katie Burch Kersey.

Burch, Bettie Coleman, death cert, 1924, Lynchburg VA (James M) 001Bettie Burch, his wife, died 19 March 1924 at the home of her daughter, Carrie Lavinia Burch Costan, 1301 Floyd Street, Lynchburg.  Bettie had been an invalid for six years and her death at age 74 was due pulmonary tuberculosis.  She was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and operated a guest house in Big Island, VA.  One family story claims she once set her pillow on fire from smoking her petit pipe in bed!

James lived with his daughter  Carrie Costan at 1301 Floyd St during his last years and had an upstairs room.  Family story has it that “he was an early riser and demanded a big breakfast of eggs, pork and fried potatoes.  He made noise until someone would get up and fix his breakfast.  Lunches were served promptly at twelve noon and dinner precisely at five o’clock.  He enjoyed a snort each night before bedtime.  His grandson, ‘little John’ (John Percy Burch), would sneak a bottle of booze to his room.  His granddaughter, Kalypso, who lived there said he could ‘really spin a yarn.’   She recalls his telling that he was beside General Thomas C ‘Stonewall’ Jackson when the general was shot.  Once while hunting in Bedford County, James Marshall was late or dinner.  A search party was organized and found him ‘lost’ in the woods.  He would never admit to being lost but was grateful for their efforts to bring him home.  She said that reporters often tried to trick him about his age to see if they could catch him in a lie.  They always got the same number regardless of the manner in which the question was posed.”

Kalypso, his granddaughter, also revealed that her grandfather would “walk downtown and ride the trolley home using his pass.  He would often sit in front of Schewel’s at 11th and Main Streets and watch the women.  When he returned home he would exclaim at the shortness of the lady’s dresses bearing their feet.”  James was a member of the College Hill Baptist Church and affiliated with Fairview Christian Church where he was baptized at age 100 years.

Burch, James M, pic with son, gson ggson 001.jpg
Four Generations: Left to Right: James Marshall Burch at age 100; his son John Henry Burch Sr., 56; John Henry’s son, John Henry (Percy) Burch Jr, 30; and his son John Percy Burch Jr., age 5 (circa 1931)

This wonderful character named James Marshall Burch died at the home on Floyd Street on 25 February 1933 at age 102.  The cause of death was listed as senility.  He was laid to rest in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg next to his wife Bettie.

Burch, Jame Marshall, grave, 1933, Lynchburg VA 001             Burch, Bettie C, grave, 1924, Lynchburg VA 001

Burch, James Marshal, death cert, 1933, Lynchburg VA 001


  • Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940, Salt Lake City, Utah, FamilySearch 2013; Marriage Register 2, p. 79; FHL film: 30311.
  • Find A Grave:; Memorials # 99421947 and 99422043.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M653_1332; Page: 252; FHL film: 805332.
  • Year: 1900; Census Place: Lynchburg Ward 1, Lynchburg City, Virginia; Page: 22; Enumeration District: 0078; FHL film: 1241734.
  • Year: 1920; Census Place: Lynchburg Ward 3, Lynchburg (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T625_1896; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 14.
  • The Family of James Marshall Burch of Lynchburg, VA”  Information about James Marshall Burch; (On-line User tree of Donald-W-Stokes-Forest)
  • Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA, Confederate Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows: Collection #: CP-2_062; Roll: 62; Roll Description: Amelia County (surnames L-W) to Amherst County (surnames A-J).
  • Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014, database online. Death Date: 25 Feb 1933, Death Place: Lynchburg, Virginia USA, Registration Date: 27 Feb 1933, James Marshall Burch..
  • Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014.
  • Family Tree Maker Obituary dated 21 Mar 1924 for Mrs. James M. Burch.
  • U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. (Lynchburg, Virginia, City Directory, 1900)
  • Historical Data Systems, comp. U. S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2011.
  • NARA M324: Compiled service record of Confederate Soldiers from Virginia Units, 1861.




The Burch Family of Amherst County VA

Since I had been focusing on the Phillips family lately, I decided to research more into the related Burch Family lineage.  Nancy Jane Burch was married to Oscar F Phillips ad they were my second great-grandparents.  Nancy was the daughter of Stephen A Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel, my third greats!  Researching this Burch family was a challenge and I still am left with questions!  You can read more about the Phillips family here: A Family of Phillips! 

Stephen Burch was born about 1786 in Fauquier County, Virginia and was the son of Leonard Burch and Monokey Guy Webster – yes, her name was “Monokey” according to many of the records.  Her mother’s maiden name was Mary Guy so that is where the “Guy” came in.   Stephen’s father, Leonard, was listed in the Fauquier County tax list in 1788 as was Leonard’s father, John Burch Sr and two of Leonard’s brothers named John Burch Jr and Francis Burch.   More on them will be coming in another post.  After about 1796, Leonard Burch moved his family, including 10 year old Stephen, to Amherst County, Virginia.  By 1801, all the Burch brothers lived in Amherst County.  It was quite a long move as shown by the two maps of the counties!

Fauquier Co VA 001      Amherst Co VA 001

I found that Stephen had at least two sisters named Ann and Nancy and one brother named Simeon.  Ann died about age 4.  Stephen and his brother Simeon were sometimes confused with each other in some family histories but Simeon was born in 1790, 4 years after Stephen.  Solving the mystery of the name of Stephen’s wife was another challenge as some records stated that her name was Elizabeth Miller and not McDaniel.   Census records just listed her as “Betsey Burch” with Betsey being a common nickname for Elizabeth.

There is a marriage record for Stephen Burch and Eliza Miller in 1813 in Amherst VA but this is probably not our Stephen Burch.   Evidence that Elizabeth’s birth name was McDaniel comes from several sources including the death certificate of their son, James Marshall Burch, which names his parents as Stephen Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel.  In the Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, the death record for Stephen listed him as married to “Elizabeth McDaniel.”  Finally, John McDaniel and Margaret Rucker McDaniel, likely Elizabeth’s parents, were neighbors of the Burch family according to the 1850 Agricultural Census so it is likely that Stephen knew Elizabeth as a neighbor and married her.

Stephen and Betsey Burch had about 15 children that they raised in Amherst County, Virginia.  I was able to find information on most of them.  One son died at age 22 years of typhoid fever and another son died at age 20 of brain fever.  One daughter, Soluda, was classified on the 1850 Census as an “idiot” as she must have had some type of mental disability.  I found out that census enumerators used the term “idiot” for “a person the development of whose mental faculties were arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity.”  For us, in a more enlightened age, a number of known disabilities would have fallen in this category, including Down’s Syndrome.  Soluda was born in 1830, never married, and lived to 1890.  It is not known where she lived after her parents died.

There are census records for Stephen Burch from 1820 to 1840, but the most information about the family comes from the later census of 1850.  In 1850 the entire family was living in the household of a man named Madison Davis, age 40, who was a dentist and owned a large farm.   It appears that Stephen and his sons worked the farm for Davis.  Madison may have been related somehow to the Burch family.  Also the Agricultural Census of 1850 listed Stephan as also owning a small farm of  his own but he was less well off that most of his 40 some neighbors as the farm was only worth about $200 and about $7 worth of farm implements.  He also owned one horse, one milk cow, and nine swine and his farm produce 10 bushels of wheat and 200 bushels of Indian corn.  He owned no slaves.

Ten years later, in 1860, things did not improve much and 74 year old Stephen was still a farmer but owned no real estate and must have rented a farm and his personal estate was only $150 value.   Worse yet, his wife, Betsey Burch, died in 1860 of unknown causes.  He now had one horse, two milk cows, three other cattle, two swine for a total livestock value of $100.  He also produced 35 bushels of wheat, 125 bushels of Indian corn, 25 bushels of oats, and 350 pounds of tobacco.  The next year brought more woes to the widower Stephen as the Civil War began and his sons and sons-in-laws were of age to join the fight.

Three of Stephen’s sons enlisted the same day, 29 June 1861, in Company G of the Virginia 51st Infantry Regiment to fight for the Confederacy.  Most likely the three brothers, James Marshall Burch, Fielding Burch and Milton Burch wanted to stay together.   Their brother-in-law, George Washington Moon, who married Caroline Burch, also joined the 51st.   Their sister Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie) Burch had married Benjamin S Phillips (who was the son of my 2nd great-grandfather, Capt. Benjamin Phillips)  and Ben enlisted in Co. H of the Virginia Artillery.  Benjamin either died in battle or as a result of war injuries, disease or other causes, shortly after 1861 leaving Lizzie a widow.

James Marshall was engaged in 25 engagements and wounded five times and Fielding lost the use of his left hand.   Milton was discharged in January 1865 after being disabled.  The 51st Virginia saw duty in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign, Virginia Valley Campaign, Richmond, Petersburg, eastern Tennessee, and the Battle of Manassas.  From what I found, “on March 2, 1865, the battered, depleted and severely outnumbered 51st Virginia and the rest of Wharton’s division was overwhelmed by Sheridan’s Federal Cavalry under Gen. George Custer at Waynesboro, VA.  The majority of the regiment was captured and sent to Fort Delaware or Elmira NY as prisoners (until the war was over).”

The Burch family was truly involved in the Civil War and the War certainly changed the lives of all of them!  After the war, Stephen Burch was missed in the 1870 Census although he was still living.  He died 10 Dec 1875 in Pedlar and Elon, Amherst County, VA at age 89.  According to Find A Grave, the body of Stephen has been lost or destroyed and believed to be buried at the Clarence Davis Cemetery on the Davis Farm.  This must be the farm that Stephen managed for Madison Davis in 1850.  It is very possible that Betsey McDaniel Burch may be buried in the same cemetery.  Find A Grave information:

Capture.PNG clarence Davis cemetery

In the next post, I hope to write more on the Burch family including the children of Stephen and Betsey.   There are some very interesting stories to be told!


  • Huffman, Jon E. The John and Nancy (Burch) Nichols Family, published online, 2008; Pages: 1-7.
  • Year 1850; Census Place: Eastern, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M432_933; Page: 89B; Image: 180.
  • Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Eastern District, Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 1; Page: 176; Line: 18; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M653_1332; Page: 252; FHL film: 805332.
  • Census Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 5; Page: 9; Line: 10; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • The Family of James Marshall Burch of Lynchburg, VA: Information About James Marshall Burch; User Trees.
  • Historical Data Systems comp. U. S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.
  • Find A Grave,; citing George Washington Moon; Memorial 88518360.
  • NARA M324.  Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers from Virginia Units, 1861.
  • Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2011;  Also: FHL film 2,056,972.
  • Virginia Marriages 1785-1940, database, FamilySearch.

Phillips Family: Brothers and Sisters

In the last post, I wrote what I have found on the “mysterious” Captain Benjamin Allen Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey, my 3rd great grandparents.  You can see their story here: The Mysterious Captain Phillips

I had been unable to find parentage for either of them and decided to research their children in case I could find some clues to the mystery.   This was in vain.  However, what I did find were some interesting stories that were just begging to be told.  After all, every one of the ancestors I find has a story, some more revealing and colorful than others, but stories to be told after all.  These are some stories I found about my 3rd great aunts and uncles!

The first child of Capt Benjamin Phillips and Mary Cazey was Maria Ann Phillips who was born in 1811 in Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia.  I did know that Benjamin and Mary were married in 1811 also and Maria’s birthplace tells me their residence at that particular time although they were married in Henrico County VA. Phillips, Maria, marr, 1834, Lynchburg VA 001 Luckily, I found a marriage announcement from the Lynchburg Virginian newspaper from Monday, June 16 1834 (page 3) revealing that Maria had married James William Oliver!  James was a plasterer by trade and they lived in the Lynchburg area.  I found a record of eight children for the couple but the marriage years must have had some rough times as two of their daughters died quite young.  Amanda Oliver died at age 12 and Mary E Oliver died at age 10 – both from unknown causes.   Harriet Oliver, born 1835, did not have a death date or other information so may have also died young.  Their son Benjamin died at about 15 or 16 years old.  Other children were Richard Monroe Oliver, William H Oliver, James M Oliver and Frances Indianna Oliver.  Maria’s husband, James, passed in 1878 and Maria passed in 1880 at the home of her daughter Frances.

Phillips, Eliz Akers, grave, 1842, Lynchburg VA 001Elizabeth Ann Phillips was the second child of Capt Benjamin and Mary Phillips and was born in 1815.  Elizabeth married Peter Garrett Akers on 29 June 1836 and they had two known children, Charles Edward Akers and Elizabeth C Akers.  Sadly, this marriage did not escape tragedy either!  The year after her daughter was born, Elizabeth herself passed away on 15 March 1842 at the young age of 27!  She died after a painful illness of eight months at her father’s residence.  Elizabeth was buried in the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg VA.

Benjamin and Mary Phillips’ third child was also a daughter, Mary Catherine, born in August of 1819 in Lynchburg.  She married a trader named Francis Smithson and they had at least one son named Darius.  However, it seems things did not go well for Mary Catherine!  When she was 50 years old, it was noted on the 1870 Census for the family that she was classified as “insane!”  Now this could be a generalized term applied for many disorders.  It was also noted that she could not read or write.   Ten years later, I found Mary Catherine as widowed and in 1900, she lived with her sister Caroline Phillips Ford and was 80 years old.  None of the other census records noted any insanity for Mary and she died in 1905 at age 84.

The first son of Benjamin and Mary was their 4th child, Benjamin S Phillips, who was born in 1820 or 1822.  This son married Sarah Elizabeth Burch, who was also called “Lizzie Burch.”  They were married on 27 Jan 1859, just before the Civil War.  Now the Phillips family in interrelated with the Burch family so Benjamin S and Lizzie may have been cousins.  Interesting that Ben was 37 and Lizzie was 22 at the time of marriage – a difference of 15 years!  When the Civil War began, Ben enlisted in the Confederate Army and served in the 1st Regiment of the Virginia Artillery, Company H.  I found one son of theirs named Henry Clay Phillips.  All I could discover about his death was that Benjamin died after 1861 which makes me wonder if his death had anything to do with his service during the War.

Frances J Phillips was another daughter of Capt Benjamin and Mary and was born in 1830.  There may have been another unnamed son born before her but this is not verified.  Frances married Edward J Taylor in 1850 and they lived in Lynchburg also.  Little is found about Frances except that in 1880 she was a widow and living with a cousin in Powellton, Brunswick County, VA.  She died 9 July 1885 in Lynchburg at about age 55.

Phillips, Caroline, picture 001Although it was difficult to find a lot of information of the above siblings, I struck a bonus with the next daughter, Caroline Agnes L Phillips!  Caroline was born in January of 1831 and married Simeon Walter Ford on 14 Dec 1849 in Lynchburg when she was 18 years old.  Simeon Ford, according to the 1880 census, was a Yard Master for the Railroad.  I found eight children of Caroline and Simeon Ford including: John Ford (1853-?); Ella Ford (1853-1904, possible twin of John); Anna Alice Ford (1855-1893); James Ford (1856-1870); Alpheus Marcellus Augustus Ford ( 1856-1870, possible twin with James); Thomas Ford (1859-?); Mary Lillian Ford (1860-1941); and Simeon Walter Ford, Jr. (1862-1941).  This last son, Simeon Jr.,  married a first cousin, Nannie Belle Phillips, the daughter of Oscar F Phillips, Caroline’s brother and I wrote their story in another blog.  You can check it out here: Simeon and Nannie Belle Ford – A Surprising Couple!

One surprise on the 1880 Census for Elon, Amherst County VA where they lived (near Lynchburg) is that Caroline and Simeon had an adopted son who was five years old in 1880 and named Blucher Ford.  Blucher died in 1899 at age 24 of unknown causes.  Phillips, Caroline Ford, obit, 1904, Mad Hts, VA 001Caroline Ford died as a widow on 26 Feb 1904 at age 65 and she died at home after an illness of two months.  According to her obit, Caroline “bore her sufferings with Christian resignation and fortitude.”  Her son, Alpheus, arranged her burial and paid $40 for her casket and another $10 for 2 hacks (?) for a total of $50 which he paid in cash.  That was a good deal of money for that era!

Ford, Alpheus & Susie St Claire , picture 001
Son of Caroline Phillips and Simeon Ford

Son of Caroline and Simeon, Alpheus Marcellus Augustus Ford,  will be remembered for his unusual name and was quite a character.  He married a Susie St. Claire and they had about 6 children.  Alpheus died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1937.   Without going too far into researching collateral ancestors, I did find some interesting  things about a couple of Alpheus and Susie’s children.

Ford, Ralph, picture 001One of their sons named Ralph Michael Ford died at age 48 and the cause of death was a sub-dura hematoma due to a fracture of the left temperal bone. According to the death certificate, his death was ruled a homicide as the injury was sustained in a fist fight!  He died at age 48 in 1950.  That had to be quite a fight!  I did search for newspaper articles or other information on his death but have not found anything as yet.



Ford, Simeon W Jr in WWI Uniform 001Another son of Alpheus and Susie was named Simeon W Ford after his grandfather and he served in WWI.  I was lucky to happen upon a picture of him in his WWI uniform!

Of course there are more stories of the Fords that will have to wait for another day.

Going back to the children of Capt Benjamin Phillips and Mary Cazey, their last child was my second great-grandfather, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips.  Oscar was born in 1832 and married Nancy Jane Burch, the daughter of Stephen Burch and Elizabeth Miller McDaniel.   I have written a post of their history and  you can find their family story here: A Family of Phillips!  

All in all this was quite an interesting family!


  • Virginia, Marriages 1785-1940.  Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013; FHL film 32235; Page: 50 & 56.
  • Find A Grave for Elizabeth A Phillips Akers; Memorial # 98257231;
  • Year: 1870; Census Place: Lynchburg, Henry Ward, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: M593_1638; Page: 490A; FHL film 553137.
  • Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940; Indexing Project (batch) number: M86877-9; System Origin: Virginia-EASy; Source film number: 32268; reference number: Page 11-5.
  • National Park Service.  U. S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2007.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1353; Page: 199A; Enumeration District: 018.
  • Diuguid’s Note of deceased for bural of Caroline A Ford; Diuguid Funeral Home, Lynchburg, Virginia.
  • Virginia Department of Health; Richmond Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014.

The Mysterious Captain Phillips

Phillips, Capt Ben, picture 001
Capt Benjamin Allen Phillips

Some times researching ancestors can be quite challenging as is the case for my third great-grandparents, Captain Benjamin Allen Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey!  They were the parents of Oscar Fitzallen Phillips who married Nancy Burch.  Oscar and Nancy’s daughter Cora Virginia Phillips and her husband, William Domman Swanson were my grandmother Cammie Swanson Lyons’ parents.  Cammie Swanson and Clarence Lyons were, of course, my father’s parents.  So I was able to go back all these generations from my father up to Captain Phillips and Mary Cazey but then the mystery began!

The story of Capt. Benjamin Phillips starts with his birth in 1777 in Henrico County, Virginia – born during the Revolutionary War.  I was able to calculate his birth year from his age on the 1860 Federal Census where he was listed as age 83.  Find A Grave also listed his birth as 1777.  However, who were his parents?  Here I hit a brick wall.  Oh yes there were some leads from Ancestry trees but none could be proved – no sources or evidence.  No wills or deeds were found as yet.  Sometimes one can research the wife or children or siblings to get clues of parentage but after researching the Mary Nicholas Cazey and their children, I was still unable to identify any parents of Capt. Benjamin!  Of course, without knowing the parents, I couldn’t find any siblings either.

Mary Nicholas Cazey was born about 1795 probably in Henrico County also but her parents are also a mystery!  Some Ancestry trees claim her father as James Singleton Kazey but upon investigation, I found that James Kazey did have a daughter Mary but his will named his daughter as Mary Martin, not Phillips.   No sources or proofs were documented in the Ancestry trees either.  So I have two mysteries to solve so I can identify any fourth great-grandparents in these two lines.

Luckily, the marriage of Benjamin Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey is well documented!  They were married on 4 Feb 1811 in Henrico County, Virginia.  Mary Cazey was just 16 years old at the time and Benjamin was about 34 years old, over twice her age.  A man named Joseph Palmer, surety, attested to the ages of both and Mary’s residence.    Also in 1811, their first child, Maria Ann Phillips, was born.

Soon after the marriage and the birth of Maria, Benjamin enlisted or was inducted into the U. S. Army and served during the War of 1812 where he rose to the rank of Captain.  Now finding his military records was another problem!  Clearly I have some serious digging to do as I am unable to find military records for him as yet!  Another mystery!  It is possible that he served until about 1814 or so as their second child, Elizabeth A Phillips was born in 1815.   Elizabeth died at age 27 in 1842 of unknown causes.

The third child was also a daughter, Mary Catherine Phillips, born 1819.   I also found a record of a son born in 1821 and died in 1837 at age 16 – another mystery as this son was unnamed!  Another son, Benjamin S Phillips was born in 1822, daughters Frances J Phillips in 1828 and Caroline Agnes Phillips in 1831 and the last child, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips in 1832 (my 2nd great-grandfather- see his story on A Family of Phillips!).

By 1830, the Phillips family was living in Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia with 9 persons in the household which included a female slave over age 55.  In 1840 there were 11 people in the household.  One was an employed free “colored” female between the ages of 24 and 35 and 2 others were young slaves – a male and a female both under 10.  Possibly they were the children of the free female employee.

The 1850 census give a glimpse of the Phillips family as it lists the names, ages and relationships for the first time in the census forms.  Benjamin Phillips is age 67 and is a carpenter by trade and Mary, his wife, is 52.  If her age is correct in this record, perhaps she was born in 1798 but this doesn’t seem likely as she would have been only 13 at the time of marriage, not 16.   Son, Benjamin S, age 26, is a “plaisterer” or plasterer and Oscar, 18, is a “moulder” (molder in an iron factory).  Frances J, 20, also lives at home.

Cazey. Mary Phillips, funeral, 1857, newspaper 001On the 17 May 1857, Mary Nicholas Cazey Phillips passed away of unknown causes.  Son Benjamin helped to arrange the funeral and burial.  The funeral notice and obituary was published in a local paper.


Phillips, Mary N Cazey, Obit, 1857 VA 001

According to the burial record for Mary, her son Benjamin made a cash down payment of $10 for the services and then a final payment of the another $10.  The Diuguid Funeral Home in Lynchburg has a record of her burial.  During my research, I found several of my ancestors used the services of this funeral home including my great-grandfather, William Domman Swanson.

Phillips, Mary N Cazey, bural record 001
Mary’s record is the third entry down.

After his wife’s death, Capt. Benjamin lived with his grandson, Robert Taylor, in 1860.  Robert Taylor was the son of Benjamin and Mary’s daughter Frances who married Edward Taylor.  Robert was 28 and a moulder in an iron factory and his wife Catherine was 22 and daughter Sallie was one year old.  They lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County which was near Lynchburg.

001Three years later, on 11 Mar 1863, Capt. Benjamin died in the home of his grandson, O. T. Phillips, in Amherst County VA.   I still haven’t determined which of Benjamin’s sons had a son named O. T. Phillips.  Capt. Benjamin was 86 years old and still working as a carpenter at the time of his passing.   It was noted that he was a War of 1812 veteran.  He was buried in the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg City where his wife was also buried.

Phillips, Capt Ben, grave, 1863, Lynchburg VA 001
Grave of Capt. Benjamin Allen Phillips
Cazey, Mary N Phillips, grave, 1857, Lynchburg VA 001 (2)
Grave of Mary N Phillips, Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg VA

That’s the story so far of my mysterious Captain Phillips and Mary Cazey!  I did find some interesting stories of their children to share in the next blog so check in again!


  • 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Ben A Phillips; Eastern District, Campbell, Virginia; Sheet: 35; Family: 277; Line: 3; Image: 238.
  • Dodd, Jordan R., et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850.  Bountiful, UT, USA; Precision Indexing Publishers; also: Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry .com Operations Inc. 1999.
  • Pollack, Michael E.; Marriage Bonds of Henrico County, Virginia, 1782-1853.  Baltimore MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co. 1984, p. 127.
  • Year: 1830; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Series: 19; Roll: 194; Page: 342; FHL film: 0029673.
  • Year; 1840; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: 553; Rage: 41; Image: 716; FHL film: 0029684.
  • Year: 1850; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: M432_938; Page: 74A; Image: 151.
  • Find A Grave for Mary N Phillips, Memorial # 160388487;
  • Find A Grave for CPT Benjamin A Phillips, Memorial # 160388530;


Sophie’s Story

Week 22 of #52Ancestors:   At the Cemetery

This week I am going to switch gears and delve into a story of one little girl, Sophie Katherine Pawlak, from my husband’s family.  Sophie was the sister to Charles Pawlak, my husband’s father.  In order to tell her story,  I need to start  with her parents who bravely traveled to America from Poland, Stephan (Szczepan) Pawlak and Blanche (Bronislawa) Nowicka.

Stephan (Szczepan) Pawlak was born 10 Nov 1877 in Radlowek, Kries Inowroclaw-Zacod, Poland in the sixth hour of the evening  and his birth was recorded 17 Nov of 1877.  His parents were Stellmacher Michael Pawlak and Catherina Sprzacakowska.  “Stellmacher” was a title meaning coachmaker or carpenter.  Stephan had three brothers, Andrew (Andrzej) Pawlak, John (Jan) Pawlak and Frank (Franciszek) Pawlak and he had one sister, Joanna Pawlak.

Bronislawa (Blanche) Nowicka was born 29 Aug 1883 in Koscielec, Kries Inowroclaw-Zachod, Poland in the tenth hour in the morning and her birth was recorded 29 August 1883.  Her father, Michael Nowicki, was titled “Kutscher” meaning “Coachdriver” and her mother was Thecla Zielinska.

Pawlak, Thecla Nowicka, pic 001
Nowicki, Michal, father of Bronislawa Pawlak 001
Michael Nowicki

Blanche, as she was known in the U. S., was the youngest of 8 or 9 children.  Her brothers were Stanislaw (Stanley), Wladyslaw (Walter), Wictor (Victor) and sisters were Maryanna, Stanislawa, Leonora, Anastazya, and possibly Eleanora Apollina (may be same person as Leonora).  A brother, Franiscus (Francis) died of debility at 13 days old in 1878.  Sadly, Blanche’s mother and father both died when Blanche was not quite 4 years old.  Her mother, Thecla, died 18 May 1887 at age 35 of typhus in Koscielec, Poland.  About 3 weeks later, her father, Michael Nowicki,  died 10 June 1887 at age 50 of intestinal inflammation.  Blanche was raised by one of her older sisters.

On 8 July 1904, Stephan Pawlak and Bronislawa (Blanche) Nowicka married in Koscielec, Poland at the Catholic Church.  According to family stories, Stephan could speak four languages – Polish, German, French and English- and was inducted into the German Army because of his value as a translator.  However, Stephan and Blanche decided to travel to America under the pretense of taking a honeymoon (they did not plan to return to Poland).  They departed from Bremen, Germany on 1905 on the ship “Gera” with the destination of Milwaukee, WI.  Stephan was 27, listed as a joiner (carpenter) and from the province of Poznan.  He was carrying more than $50 and traveling with his wife, Bronislawa Pawlak, age 21, according to immigration records.  Blanche later talked about the ship cracking and creaking and she was pregnant with their first child.

Pawlak, Stephan, pass list, 1905, Gera 001
Passenger list from “Gera” 1905

They arrived on 26 January 1905 at the port of Baltimore, Maryland and traveled for 2 days to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to settle at 484 Bartlett Street.  Stanley, their first child was born on April 1, 1905.  Later came Edward in 1906,  Joseph in 1908, Clara in 1909, all born at 557 Bartlett Street.  All of them were baptized at St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church.

Pawlak, Stephan, picture, Becher ST home, Milw 001
2332 Becher St., Milwaukee WI

The family moved to 864 Becher Street (address changes later to 2332 Becher St. by City of Milwaukee) sometime between 1910 and 1913 where Sigmund was born in 1913 and Zofia Kataryzyna (Sophie Katherine) was born in 1914.  Their last child, Charles Daniel Michael (Karol Michal) was born in 1916 and was my husband’s father.  They were baptized at St. Adelbert’s Catholic Church.

This story is about Sophie.  Sophie Katherine Pawlak was born just before the end of the year on 29 December 1914, the sixth child of the seven children of Stephen and Blanche Pawlak.

Pawlak, Sofia, Baptism, 1915, St Adelbert, Milw
Baptism of Sophia Catherina at St. Adelbert’s Catholic Church, Milwaukee WI (in Latin)

In the early spring of 1917, Blanche became very ill and was unable to care for the children.  She had to leave the family for an extended period of time to seek treatment for possibly tuberculosis or a nervous breakdown.  It was, unfortunately, common for a person with TB to enter a sanitarium for an extended period of time for treatment in the early 1900s.  Stephan had to continue working as well as the oldest son, Stanley, to support the family.  The rest of the children – Edward, Joseph, Clara, Sigmund, Sophie and Charles- was placed in the Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children in the Town of Wauwatosa (near Milwaukee).  This home provided temporary care for dependent children and orphans in Milwaukee County.  The children were placed in the home 10 April 1917 and when they arrived at the home, the boys and girls were separated.  Sophie was two years old and Charles just one year old.  Their father visited them as much as he could. Milw Co. Home for Dependent Children, Pawlak 001

Tragedy struck when Sophie contracted pneumonia in September 1917 and just 5 months and 12 days after arriving at the Home for Dependent Children, Sophie dies.  She was just 2 years, 8 months and 25 days old, a short life.  How heartbroken her mother must have been to not be with Sophie at this time!  The cause of death was listed as double migrative lobar pneumonia and convulsions due to toxemia.  Her parents and the other children went to her funeral at St. Adelbert Catholic Church and Sophie was buried in St. Adelbert’s Cemetery in Milwaukee, near Howard and 13th Street in the children’s section.   Over the years, her brothers and nephews made wooden crosses to mark her grave and added plaques to the crosses with her name and dates of her birth and death.  A new wooden cross was added from time to time.   She was not forgotten by the family.

However, a permanent marker was never purchased for her for some reason- until now.  My husband decided that Sophie must never be forgotten and since the last white cross was slowly becoming worn and delapitated, it was way past time for a new stone.  We purchased a marble grave marker with help from 2 cousins and it is now a permanent memorial for Sophie.  After 102 years, Sophie finally has her stone marker that will last long after those who remember her are gone.  Rest in peace little Sophie although you had a short life, you have been and are loved by many for a very long time!


(If you wish information on the numerous sources I used for this post, please contact me.)

Tribute to Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. – Revolutionary War Ancestor

Week 21 of #52Ancestors:  MilitaryCole, Joseph Jr, grave, 1826, Smyth VA 001

Last week’s post explored John Thomas who was the father of Thomas Jefferson Thomas who married Freelove Cole and they became my 5th great-grandparents.  This week I would like to write about Freelove Cole’s parents especially because Freelove’s father, Joseph Cole Jr, had served in the military.   He was in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War and was made Captain.  This Patriot ancestor fought in the famous Battle of Kings Mountain as a member of the Washington County, Virginia Militia and is registered with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as Ancestor #: A024196.

Joseph Cole Jr, also called Joseph Cole II, was born the 28th of May 1750 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony according to the Massachusetts Town vital records.  When Joseph was born his father, Joseph Cole I (Sr), was 34 and his mother, Freelove Mason (Cole), was 29.  Joseph had at least eight known siblings including  Elizabeth Cole Hopkins, Joanna Cole, Hugh Cole, Urania Cole Round, Sampson Cole, Zacheus Cole, Lydia Cole Robinson and John Cole.  It must have made for a very busy family!

Cole, Joseph Jr, signature 001
Signature of Joseph Cole Jr on Religious Petition.

Joseph Cole married Remember Cole on 26 November 1769 in the Colony of New York and she was the daughter of Israel Cole III and Emary _____ and born in 1752 in Ulster Co. , New York Colony OR in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Colony.   Some sources may list her mother as Remember Burgess but according to Mayflower Ancestor books, her mother was Emary ___.  Remember Cole also came from a large family with at least eight siblings including Thomas, Rufus, Eunice, Phillip, Mary and three other Coles.

Now you may be wondering why Remember was also a Cole – no, they were not related- she did have the same surname as Joseph but she came from a different Cole family!  Remember’s ancestors started with Daniel Cole, father of Israel I Cole, then down the line to Israel II and Israel III who was the father of Remember Cole.   (This Cole family also intermarried with the James family, making them our ancestors also!)  Joseph Cole Jr.’s ancestors started with a James Cole who was born in London ca1600 and immigrated to the American Colonies and was father of Hugh Cole I, then the line of Hugh Cole II and Hugh III and Joseph Cole Sr., father of Joseph Jr.

These two unrelated Cole families (descendants of James Cole and Daniel Cole) must have been great friends and companions as they embarked on a great journey together from Ulster Co., New York Colony to Washington Co., Virginia where they had received land grants in about 1773 or later.  More on that journey in a later post.

Joseph Jr and Remember Cole had three children together.  The first born was John William Cole who was born on 25 Dec 1771, Christmas Day, in Ulster, New York.  John William Cole was married twice and died in 1847 in Smyth Co., VA.  The second child of Joseph and Remember was Phillip King Cole and his birth year was 1773 in Ulster, Ulster Co., New York.  It that is the correct birth year, he may have been a twin to his sister, Freelove Cole, as the records indicate Freelove was born the same year on 24 Dec, Christmas Eve.  If so, that would have been three birthdays to celebrate during Christmas time!  Phillip King Cole married Rebecca English and they moved to Tennessee where Phillip died in 1860.  Freelove Cole is our direct ancestor and she and her mother, Remember Cole, are our lineage to Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  If you want to read more about Freelove Cole, my 5th Great-grandmother, see here: Searching for “FREELOVE”

Sadly, Remember Cole, wife of Joseph Jr, died young in 1776 in Washington County, Virginia at about 24 years old, leaving three young children.  This was just after the migration of the Cole families from New York to Virginia.  Joseph Jr and Remember settled on the South Fork of the Holston River in Washington County (later Smyth Co.), VA.  If you recall, their daughter Freelove Cole married Thomas Jefferson Thomas.  My Thomas ancestors also lived on the South Fork of the Holston River. Holston River 001 See my last post here: Where did you come from, John Thomas?    We don’t know the cause of death for Remember but she was buried in the Church Cemetery of the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church  in what is now Chilhowie, Virginia.

Joseph Jr. Cole remarried in 1777 to Margaret Leeper and they had five children together including Andrew Cole, James “Squire” Cole, Remember Cole, Urania Cole and Samuel Cole.  Margaret Leeper was born 1750-52 in Augusta County, VA and lived to age 75 or 76, dying in 1826.  She was also buried in the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Joseph Cole Jr. did join the Virginia Militia and on 1780 participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.  During the American Revolution, the Patriot irregulars under Col. William Campbell defeated the Tories under Maj. Patrick Ferguson.  Maj. Ferguson’s Tory force of mostly American Loyalists was the west wing of General Lord Cornwallis’ North Carolina invasion force.  One thousand American frontiersmen under Col. Campbell of Virginia gathered in the back country to pursue Ferguson who positioned his forces on King’s Mountain.  The Patriots charged multiple times displaying lethal marksmanship against the enemy.  “Ferguson led a suicidal charge down the mountain and was cut down in a hail of bullets.  The Tories suffered 157 men killed, 163 wounded and 698 captured while Campbell’s force suffered just 28 killed and 60 wounded.”  It was a decisive and much needed victory for the Patriots.  A monument was erected on the battle site with names of the officers.  Capt. Joseph Cole is the third name from the top of the monument.

Cole, Joseph Jr, monument, King's Mt, 1880 001

prim Baptist church cemetery 001
St. Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. died 6 Sep 1826 in Washington (Smyth) Co., Virginia and was buried in Saint Clair Bottom Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.  His tombstone was recorded by Redmond Cole about 1926 but since that time, his tombstone had been destroyed or was missing.  A grave marker for Joseph was placed in the cemetery by a Dennis Stewart in 2005 and a memorial service was held to honor Joseph and his service to his country.  In a later year, a memorial service was also held for Hugh Cole, brother to Joseph, in this cemetery.  Joseph Cole Jr is also listed in the U. S. Veterans’ Gravesites, 1775-2006.

On this Memorial Day week, it is only fitting to remember those, ancestors or not, that fought for our freedom and served for our country.  Thank you to all!



  •; Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  • Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.
  • The Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. IV [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc.
  • Find A Grave, database and images; citing Margaret Leeper Cole, Find A Grave Memorial No. 45526825.
  • Wikitree, citing Capt. Joseph Cole Jr.
  • Memorial for Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. with links to family at Find A Grave: Memorial #47513323.
  • National Cemetery Administration.  U. S. Veteran’s Gravesites, ca 1775-2006 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2006.
  • Editors; Battle of King’s Mountain;