Thursday, January 22, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2 Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847

Dear Grandparents,
I'm currently re-reading James Michner's Texas. I was living in San Pedro, California when I first read Texas and never dreamed that I would some day live in Texas. Michner was famous for his meticulously researched sweeping historical epics that focused on specific areas. His books make reading area histories more enjoyable. Reading the chapters about the war between the United States and Mexico reminded me of my grandchildren's ancestor Robert Milner Echols who took part in that war.

Though many of General Echols' descendants have ended up in Texas, he was a Georgian, born 18 March 1798, about 4 miles outside of the town of Washington, Wilkes County. His parents, Milner and Susan (Sansom) Echols, were Virginians who migrated to Wilkes County about 1782. The family moved on to Walton County shortly after Robert's birth.  He married Mary "Polly" Melton, daughter of Jonathan and Tabitha (Stroud) Melton of neighboring Clarke County 8 February 1816.
Walton County, Georgia is shown in red  on this map from

Robert's long career of service to the state of Georgia began with his election as 2nd sergeant in Captain Abner Bradley's Company of the Clarke County Militia. He went on to serve over 20 years in the General Assembly of Georgia, first in the House 1824 -1829 and then in the Senate 1830-1844 where he spent several terms as President. He sought to take his experience to Washington, D. C. but was defeated by General Howell Cobb by the slim margin of two votes.

Robert Milner Echols 1798 - 1847
This would not be his last opportunity to serve. When the United States went to war against Mexico in 1846, Echols, a Brigadier in the Georgia Militia was asked to recruit a regiment. He was appointed Colonel in the 13th United States Regiment. After participating in the Battle of Vera Cruz, Robert was thrown from his horse during the victory parade at the National Bridge. He died of his injuries the next day, December 5, 1847.
"Battle between the Mexican and the allied invaders, at the National Bridge, near Vera Cruz
from an illustration in Harper's Weekly 22 February 1863
in the Library of Congress Digital Collection

Robert's  association with Georgia does not end at National Bridge. Though, he is initially interred there, the Georgia State Legislature passed a bill to have his body exhumed and transported home for reburial in Walton County. They followed his reburial with the creation of a new county along the Georgia - Florida border, taking parts of Clinch and Lowndes counties and naming it Echols County.

Robert and wife Polly Melton Echols were the parents of 12 children, all but one of whom lived to adulthood. Robert is my son-in-law's maternal 4th great grandfather.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Charles Shepard Newton Principal of the Manual Labor School at the Sisseton Agency in 1877

Dear Grandparents,

I am a week behind in starting Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2015 Challenge" but determined to make it to the end. Last year, I made a good start but got bogged down in my desire to make everything perfect and to tell each ancestor's entire story (of course, moving did not help). This year, I have decided to tell interesting stories about ancestors whether I know the entire life story or not. Here goes... first up my second great grandfather, Charles Shepard Newton.

Cousin Mary Newton and I have been researching the family and she reports her grandfather Leslie Charles Newton was taught a Sioux prayer as a child. I imagine that his father John Reuben Newton and my great grandmother Helen Brown (Newton) Cone learned the prayer as children when their father Charles Shepard Newton was the Principal of the Manual Labor School at the Sisseton Agency in the Dakota Territory beginning in 1877.

Unsigned letter to J. C. Smith, Commissioner of Indian Affairs
from "U. S. Ind. Agt" dated 23 June 1877 reporting the employment
of Mr. C. S. Newton of Worthington, Minna as principal
Manual Labor School, Sisseton Agency
(Family Search microfilm #1661559)

                                                                                                        Sisseton Agency Dak,
                                                                                                        June 1st, 1877
Hon. J. C. Smith
       Com. Indian Affairs

     I have the honor to report that Mr. C. S. Newton of Worthington, Minna, has been employed as principal of the Manual Labor School, vice Mr. A. H. Kimball, suspended. I respectfully request that the employment of Mr. Newton as Temporary Service at $800 per annum be approved, until such time as Mr. Kimball's discharge is approved. I shall recommend the permanent appointment of Mr. Newton, and submit his testimonials as to fitness and ability.
     Henry A. Linn, Agency Storekeeper was temporarily detailed to take charge of the school but his services are indispensable at the Agency.
     I deemed it highly important to maintain the school without any break and am able to report it in good working condition with about 40 pupils.

Very respectfully,
your obt servant

U. S. I Agent

A second letter reveals that Charles Shepard Newton began his service at the reservation 16 May 1877.

Charles Shepard Newton circa 1902 Mapleton, Utah
Who was this 35 year old, married father of three young children who was willing to take a position on a Reservation in the Dakota territory less than a year and a couple of hundred miles removed from Custer's Last Stand? A story for another day.


Genealogy Goals for 2015

Dear Grandparents,
Here we are at the beginning of 2015 so I thought I should let you know about the genealogical puzzles I hope to solve and the projects I am determined to complete next year. Focusing on the lines of each of my grandparents, I am creating a "Top Ten List" a la David Letterman. Beginning with my paternal Cone and Allen lines then moving on to my maternal Werst and Colby lines.
Elizabeth Jane Jones Gibson 1821 -1895
(Photograph from family Bible in
 possession  of third great granddaughter)
  • Number 10: Identify the parents of the Lydia Hayes who is said to have been born 2 February 1771 in New London, Connecticut and married Ira Cone. She had two children who survived to adulthood: Lyman Cone born 18 April 1799 in Laurens, Otsego County, New York, and my 3rd great grandfather Naaman Cone who was born 11 September 1801 probably in the same community. Was Lydia's family Quaker? Ira became a leader of the Quakers in Otsego County.
  • Number 9: Complete application for the Mayflower Society for Stephen Hopkins. Naaman Cone's wife was Joanna Warner, her mother Rhoda Hopkins is a direct descendant.
  • Number 8: Find proof that Ira Cone is the son of Elijah and Elizabeth (Stuart) Cone. Family records have him born 22 May 1768 in East Haddam or Millington, Connecticut. Compare the Y-DNA results of my brother with those of proven descendants of Daniel Cone.
  • Number 7: 5th great grandfather Salmon Champion has a rejected Revolutionary War Pension application. Included in the papers are a detailed recounting of the when, where and with whom he served. Prove him as a DAR Patriot. 
  • Number 6: 3rd great grandfather William Freeman Allen is supposed to be the son of Elijah Marshall Allen born about 1780 in New Jersey according to a family pedigree chart created in the early 20th century. I need to find records in New Jersey pertaining to this family who settled in Hector, New York before 1830.
  • Number 5: Another 5th great grandfather, Richard Hunnewell, also served in the Revolutionary War. In fact, he was involved in the Sons of Liberty and part of the Boston Tea Party. For some reason, a Richard Hunnewell of Charleston, West Virginia is supposed to have been the participant in the tea party. I am working to prove that it was our Richard, who was living in the Charleston section of Boston. Prove him as a DAR Patriot
  • Number 4: My 2nd great grandfather Simpson Barnes married Angelina Burgoyne 15 November 1848 in Hillsdale, Michigan. He was born in New York 10 February 1825. Who were his parents?
  • Number 3: Angelina's parents were Wesley Burgoyne and Sarah Herron. Family lore would like to connect Wesley with General Burgoyne of Revolutionary fame. Family lore failed to remember that General Burgoyne was an English peer who returned to England after his loss in America. It is unlikely that Wesley is one of his descendants.
  • Number 2: Who are the parents of the William Henry Colby who married Fannie Hutchinson Hunnewell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. These illusive 3rd great grandparents have frustrated family researchers for three generations.
  • Number 1: Who are the parents of the Elizabeth Jane Jones who was born 2 May 1821 in Tennessee and married Newsom Gibson 29 December 1840 in Davidson County, TN? Recent DNA results on my maternal line have revealed that Elizabeth's mother or grandmother was Native American. There have been no stories on this side of the family about a "Cherokee Princess" in the linage. 
This is an ambitious list of goals for me and I hope that in publishing them here, it will help me keep my research focused. Of course, these are just the goals for my family tree. Then, there are also the Kelly, Propes, Black, and Haas family lines that I am researching. There are also your interesting stories to share here. As always, any serendipitous hints you provide are most welcome.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Pausing to Remember Pearl Harbor

Dear Grandparents,

Last year I wrote about the radio announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor had interrupted a day late birthday lunch celebration for my grandfather Charles Newton Cone, following church that first Sunday in December 1941. I've often wondered if the family understood at the time, that they would never forget where they had been when they heard the news.

A large portion of the world was already at war. Japan had attacked China, Germany had attacked Poland. Did my family understand that the world had been altered irreparably that day. My grandmother Hazel Allen Cone's nephew Phelps Wilson Long was killed little more than two years later at Bougainville, My father Charles Newton Cone, Jr. enlisted in the Navy at age 16, immediately after graduating from Grant High School in 1944. My mother worked as a welder in the Willamette Shipyard in Portland during the summer and high school vacations. Her step-father Kenneth Branchflower enlisted in the Army at age 37 and served in the European Theater of Operations.

It was not until, my daughter Amanda and I made the pilgrimage to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor a couple of years ago that I realized the we had a probable cousin who had perished at Pearl Harbor, Captain Franklin Van Valkenburg, U. S. Navy.

A 1909 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Franklin was a native of Minneapolis, and a career Naval Officer. He had assumed command of the USS Arizona in February 1941. He died on the bridge of his ship, desperately trying to get her underway.

USS Arizona in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor
from the Library of Congress  Collection
I am traveling without my cousin determination chart, but it seems that Captain Van Valkenburg and our family are both descended from Lambert Van Valkenburgh, an early Dutch settler in Manhattan.

We will always remember the sacrifices made at Pearl Harbor and during the rest of World War II.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Saluting Those Ancestors who were part of the First Thanksgiving

Dear Grandparents,
     Pausing to give thanks is a bit easier for me today. We're not having our Thanksgiving meal until Saturday when my sister Peg and her husband Hugh can join us. So I have a bit more time than if I were cooking today. That time has allowed me to think of those of you who were involved with the first Thanksgiving.
     When asked about my Mayflower ancestors, I usually name four: William Bradford, William Brewster, Edward Doty and Stephen Hopkins. That is really unfair to the other family members who traveled on the Mayflower.
      William Brewster's wife Mary and two of their children, Love and Wrestling, also made the voyage on the Mayflower. She was about 51 when she made the trip and lived another seven years.
I am descended from two of their children, but not Love and Wrestling. My 9th great-grandfather Jonathan arrived in Plymouth 9 November 1621 in "Fortune" while my 10th great-grandmother Patience arrived 10 July 1623 in "Ann" with her sister Fear. All were William and Mary's children left behind in Leiden for the Mayflower voyage.
     Stephen Hopkins was also accompanied on the Mayflower by his wife and several children. I am descended from his son Giles, by his first wife. Stephen and second wife Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins had a son Oceanus born during the voyage.
     William Bradford's wife Dorothy May traveled with him. They had been married 17 December 1613 in Amsterdam. While William was on an exploratory mission ashore, Dorothy slipped on the icy deck of the Mayflower and fell into the frigid waters of Plymouth Harbor. The date was 7 December 1620, just 10 days short of their 7th wedding anniversary.
Provincetown, MA memorial to Pilgrims who died at sea
or on board the Mayflower in Cap Cod Harbor Nov./Dec. 1620
So I would be more correct in stating that I have seven ancestors who arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower. I promise, I will not slight you again. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Remembering Theodore Clarke and Phelps Long this Memorial Day

Dear Grandparents,
Last fall I wrote a post listing the family members who had served our country. Today as we begin to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, I want to write about two family members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My 2nd great uncle, Theodore William Clarke, served with the First Nebraska Infantry fighting for the Union during the Civil War. He was an unlikely soldier and most of what we know about him comes from the more than forty letters he wrote home to his mother Lydia Hornell Clarke and sister Mary Elizabeth Clarke Newton. The letters have been carefully preserved and handed down through the generations.

Theodore or "Trit" as he was nicknamed by the family was an unlikely soldier. Born about 1838 in Michigan, he was working for the telegraph company laying wire across Missouri and the Nebraska Territory when the war broke out. On July 15, 1860 he writes home stating, "I am in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. We are engaged in the construction of the Pacific Telegraph running from Saint Louis to San Francisco in California... We're going along the Missouri River as far as Omaha City and then across to Fort Kearney... which is as far as we shall get before cold weather sets in." He is anxious for his little sister Molly, my 2nd great grandmother, to understand where he is and write August 5, 1860 from near Nebraska City, "It is about 60 miles from here to Omaha City and 180 from there to Ft. Kearney. By allowing about 5 miles for every working day you can look on your map and see anytime where I am."

Theodore William Clarke
from tintype in my possession
Though he is busy with work he is not undecided about who should win the Presidential Elections of 1860. Writing September 21, 1860 he states, "Why Lincoln's the man of course and if the territories and Kansas and Nebraska had a voice in the coming election Douglas would hear a noise that would make him stuff his ears with cotton and send him to visit with his mother for the next four years at least."

Trit stays with Western Union and they complete the line to Ft. Kearney, he learns to become a proficient telegraph operator and feels that he is making good money doing so. However, the situation changes when word of the secession of the southern states reaches the Nebraska Territory. He enlists as a 'fifer' or musician with the First Nebraska Infantry explaining to his mother on July 16, 1861, "I can never have it said that I who have no one dependent on me and nothing but my life to loose stood back in this hour of our country's peril and remained an inactive spectator."

His words turned out to be prophetic. Theodore spent more than 18 months with the First Nebraska, surviving the Battles of Ft. Donelson, and Shiloh before dying January 7, 1863 in Van Buren, Missouri.
Like the majority of the Union casualties, Theodore died not of wounds but of disease probably of something like pneumonia.
Battle of Fort Donelson fought February 14 through 16, 1862.
Picture created by Kurz & Allison 1887
I wish I could report that family members can visit Theodore's tombstone and place flowers their each memorial day in remembrance of his sacrifice. Unfortunately, his final resting place is unknown. When ever I visit Arlington National Cemetery, I like to imagine that our Trit is one of the 'unknowns' honored there.

My cousin Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. gave his life not in a national catastrophe but in a global conflagration. The 1940 Federal Census finds Phelps as a 16 year old, living with his family and attending high school.
His father Phelps and mother Martha Allen Long were running the family department store in Tallahassee, Florida. Little sister Shirley was in the sixth grade. An older cousin Lindsay Pappy also lived in the home.

1940 U. S. census, Leon County, Tallahassee, Ward 2, Florida, population schedule,
Page 2, penned, lines 31-36, house number 1016, Thomasville Rd., digital images ( accessed 24 May 2014);
citing National Archives microfilm roll: T627_597; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 38:3.
After High School, Phelps went off to the University of Florida in Gainesville and joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Probably no one anticipated the changes that would effect the family and nation in the next couple of years.

Phelps is fourth from the right in the bottom row of the  University of Florida
Seminole Yearbook image from
The first year following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not go well for American forces. Many young men like Phelps felt an urgency to do their part for the war effort. Phelps enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to New River, North Carolina for training.
Private Phelps W. Long, Jr.
copy of photograph in possession of his sister. Used with permission.
Phelps' unit was eventually sent to the South Pacific to take part in the battle for Bougainville, a strategic island that had been held by the Japanese since 1942. His unit, the 3rd Marine Division was given the task to take the hilly area around the Japanese field artillery. One of the most difficult positions to take was an area called "Helzappoppin Ridge". The Marines attacked there on December 12th. It wasn't until the 18th that coordinated attacks allowed the American troops to capture and control the ridge. Phelps was killed on the 16th.

His death left a huge hole in his tight knit family. My grandmother Hazel Allen Cone (his mother's sister) said that his mother never recovered from his loss. She died a mere five years later at age 47. Talking with his sister Shirley Long Collins last month is Tallahassee, she said that her father never got over Phelps death either. I could see the sadness over of the loss of her brother that remains with Shirley to this day. Phelps' parents paid to have their son's remains returned to Florida for burial.

Hopefully, we will all take time among the picnics, boat rides, cookouts and other festivities to remember those whose sacrifices have secured our country and way of life.

Cecily Cone Kelly

P. S. For family members - Phelps W. Long was my paternal grandmother's nephew and my father's first cousin. Theodore Clarke is on my paternal side, the brother of my 2nd great grandmother.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Colby Allyn Kelly Propes!

Dear Grandparents,
Today we are celebrating our daughter Colby's 31st birthday. I'm home sick and didn't want to expose her little ones, Cooper and Cassidy to the crud. I baked her favorite angel food cake, and sent it with Ed over to her house. I thought I would also share the story of her birth.

In 1983, Ed was a Lieutenant Commander in the U. S. Navy, who had returned to his Alma Mater the United States Naval Academy, and was teaching in the Mechanical Engineering Department. As it is again this year, it was Commissioning Week, a week of parades, celebrations, dances and, of course, graduation and commissioning.

As a Surface Warfare Officer, Ed was invited to attend a reception honoring the midshipmen who had chosen Surface Line for their initial duty assignments. Then Captain (later rear admiral) Tom and Mar Beth Paulsen were hosting the midshipmen, their families, surface officers stationed at the academy and their wives at their quarters in the yard. I was very pregnant but not due for three weeks so being a 'dutiful' Navy wife I found a lovely silk frock designed carefully by Omar the Tent Maker, very flat comfortable shoes and hauled my bulk to the Paulsen's.

Anyone who has known Mar Beth, will remember how beautifully she decorated her homes. Lovely antiques, seemingly priceless oriental carpets.... I was afraid to sit anywhere for fear that I would never be able to get up again without several officers or midshipman having to come to my rescue. I think Mar Beth was a little nervous too! She seemed to follow me around continuing to ask if I was alright. I just knew she was terrified that I would sit on something and break it or worse yet my water would break and ruin one of those lovely rugs. Admittedly, I was looking at things through pregnancy paranoia. You know how self aware you can be when you are nine months pregnant.

Naval Academy Midshipmen celebrating their graduation and commissioning.
Image from wikipedia
Tired of making trips to the ladies room, and feeling my feet swell in the heat. I persuaded Ed to take me home, assuring him that the Paulsens would only be relieved at our departure. Squeezing into our 1972 super beetle Volkswagen, where I could hardly reach to depress the clutch now that I had to have the seat back so far to accommodate my girth, we headed for home. Stopping to rent a VHS of the "Blues Brothers" for what we anticipated would be a short evening followed by a night of tossing and turning. We sat down on our well worn sofa to watch the movie, me with my feet elevated on the antique Japanese hibachi we used for a coffee table.

Elwood and Jake Blues and the Bluesmobile
image from wikipedia
Now any of you who have watched "Blues Brothers" starring Dan Aykrod and John Belushi know that this is a very funny movie. I did not watch too many scenes before a hearty belly laugh broke my water! A quick call to our obstetrician and we were on our way to Anne Arundel General Hospital at that time located in old town Annapolis.

I was prepped and wheeled into the operating room for my already agreed upon second c-section. It was twenty minutes to midnight on May 21st. The doctor looked at me and asked whether I wanted our baby to be born on the 21st or 22nd. Figuring it was better for them to take their time with the surgery I chose the 22nd.  Baby girl Kelly arrived at 12:19 am.

Notice I said Baby girl Kelly. Ed and I had picked Colby Allen Kelly as the name for a boy. Colby and Allen were the maiden names of my grandmothers who had lobbied long and hard for great grand children and unfortunately not lived to see them. We had left selecting another girls name for after graduation. Remember, we thought we had three more weeks to decide. An exhausted and exhilarated Ed, went home to care for Amanda, summon the relatives, and we decided to wait to name our new baby girl.

Outside forces have a way of butting into life when least expected. While the nurse was examining me three days later, an image Al Schaufelberger, one of Ed's company mates at USNA flashed on the television screen across the room. The sound was muted during the examination so I did not hear what had been said. I called Ed and suggested he look at the television. Much to our sorrow and dismay, the news was very bad.
Lieutenant Commander Albert Schaufelberger, the senior U. S. Naval representative at the U. S. Military Group, El Salvador had been assassinated.
LCDR Schaulfelberger meets the press just days
before his assassination. Photograph from wikipedia
Al had lived is the same neighborhood in Chula Vista, California and we had seen him as Navy schedules allowed. He made a great abalone Parmesan. His death came as quite a shock. As Ed was the only one of his company mates stationed at the Naval Academy at the time, Navy Public Affairs asked him to make comments about Al to the local newspapers and television stations. This even included being interviewed on our front lawn after Colby was brought home.

Back to baby girl Kelly... things got to be so hectic, that we never had the time to hash out different names for our new baby. Finally, the woman in charge of name registration appeared demanding to know, "What are you going to name this critter?" So Colby it was... with a concession to Ed of changing Allen to Allyn which he thought sounded more feminine.  Oh, and critter stuck too, as a nickname with a similar change to a 'y' in "Crytter".
On left, Cecily, Colby in arms of maternal grandmother Betty Werst Cone
 coming home from the hospital to 230 Chatham Lane, Annapolis.
On right, Ed and big sister Amanda holding newborn Colby.
Photographs from my personal collection.
Seven years later our paths were to cross with the Paulsen's again. Ed took command of USS Thorn DD-988 in Charleston, South Carolina. Thorn was attached to Cruiser Destroyer Group 2 commanded by none other than Rear Admiral Paulsen. I like to think that they did not associate the sophisticated Commanding Officer's wife with the very pregnant junior officer's wife they had met in Annapolis. I always thought if my water had broken at the Paulsen's Ed would have had to leave the Navy.

Rear Admiral Thomas D. Paulsen, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2
attending wreath laying ceremony at a Polish memorial. 27 Jun 1990
Online Public Access for the National Archives
Admiral Paulsen is next to the man in the red shirt.
I think you would be very proud of your grand daughter, as she is a very special Crytter.
Love, Cecily

P. S. We'll also be remembering Al this Memorial Day.