Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Men in the Wood Pile

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a busy street scene that offers any number of interpretations. However, the men in the bottom right corner looking at a pile of stuff inspired me to take another look at this photo:

Unknowns in album of Velma Davis Woodring perhaps Jake Hockman or Paul Hockman

The photo is in a scrapbook that belonged to my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring. I assumed these were friends and that the photo was taken probably between 1921 and 1928. But who were these men? What was this place? It might have been some place in Harrisonburg where Velma was studying at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University - Go DUKES!), or it might have been a building in her hometown of Shenandoah, Virginia.

And was this place under construction? Undergoing demolition? Or was it a storage place? Where are the doors? And what is that thing under the tarp? At first I thought it was a small cannon, but that makes no sense. Is it a spool? A speaker? A handle to that thing behind it?

Eh ~ never mind. Back to my original question: Who were these men? The one on the left seemed familiar, and then it came to me. He looks like a younger version of this man on the right:
Wysong and Jacob P. Hockman about 1927
Frank Wysong and Jacob Hockman
scanned from Shenandoah: A History of Our Town
and Its People
The bow tie, the tilt of the hat, the air of authority. If my suspicions are correct, the man in the wood pile was Jacob Hockman, the neighbor and good friend of my great-grandparents Walter and Mary Frances Jollett Davis. The families lived on the same side of Sixth Street in Shenandoah, Virginia. Their daughters were best friends.

Jacob “Jake” Hockman and his wife Attie started the Home Fuel and Supply Co, Inc. in 1918 dealing in both building supplies and coal.

In 1927 Jake Hockman was featured in the Shenandoah Magazine as part of a series on local businessmen. He was praised for his business philosophy which was to provide “proven material that must stand the test of time and wear.”

The Hockmans started small but over the years Jake expanded his business to include a warehouse, lumber house, lumber yard, and coal yard. Its location with the railroad on one side and highway on the other made it easy to supply local contractors with cement, plaster, lime, paint, varnish, and, of course, lumber and coal. As the magazine noted, Jake “spared no effort to make it a progressive and successful business, and, in so doing, he has gained the confidence and approval of those who have known him.”

The building and STUFF look more like a salvage yard than a one-stop-shop for fresh building supplies, but there is a kinship in the two.

Probably one of Jake’s best customers was my great grandfather Walter Davis. He was a carpenter and house builder who built not only his own home on Sixth Street but also many of the houses in Shenandoah, quite a few of them right there on Sixth Street. 

I have thought maybe the man on the right of the first photo was Walter. The hat is his style. 

Walter Davis and his car
Walter Davis and his car

However, most of the photos of Walter Davis are from the late 1920s when he was in his late 50s-early 60s.

With that realization, I am now doubting that the other man is Jake Hockman. Perhaps it is his son Paul who in 1930 was the manager of the coal and lumber yard.

The bottom line - I’m back to where I started. Who were these men? What was this place?

See how others were inspired at Sepia Saturday.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

52 Ancestors: Favorite Photos - (not) Lucy Frazier

The theme for this week’s 52 Ancestors challenge is favorite photo. While this photo of Nancy Frances Shiflett Morris is NOT REALLY my favorite, 

Nancy Frances Shiflett Morris
Nancy Frances Shiflett Morris
photo courtesy of Olen Morris
it is the one photo that might possibly reveal what the subject of this week’s post might have looked like. Nancy Frances was a granddaughter of Lucy Frazier, wife of last week’s subject, John Frazier. Did Lucy have that wide mouth and thin lips like Nancy Frances? Did she have a wide forehead too? Did she need glasses? There is no way to know exactly which parts of Lucy’s DNA shook out into Nancy Frances, but when I try to visualize my 4X great-grandmother, I have no choice but to see her granddaughter.

Lucy’s appearance is just one of a million things I do not know about her. When and where was she born? When did she die? Who were her parents? Did she dote on her children? Was she a good cook? Lucy appeared by name in only one census: 1850 Greene County, Virginia. 

from 1850 Greene County, VA Federal Census

At that time she was a widow and head of household. She claimed to be 72, putting her year of birth at about 1778. She was born in Virginia. She could neither read nor write. The value of her property was $150. In her household were one son and one grandson. Since she did not appear in the 1860 census, she probably died after 1850 and before 1860.

A marriage record confirms that Lucy Shiflett (or Shiplett as spelled in a transcription) and John Frazier married 20 January 1811 in Albemarle County, Virginia. But was this a first, second, or even third marriage for Lucy?

There are two reasons to think Lucy had been married before. First, her oldest child Leland was born about 1805, at least five years ahead of that marriage record. While family researchers are accustomed to errors in dates as well as errors in ancestors’ judgment, there is the matter of the second reason to suspect Lucy had married previously. Son Leland throughout his life flip-flopped going by the names Leland Frazier and Leland Shiflett.

My theory is that “Shiflett” was a first husband and father of Leland. But who was Lucy before then? I believe she was Lucy Hardin. Why? Because Leland’s middle name was Hardin. He was known as Leland Hardin Shiflett OR Leland Hardin Frazier, depending on how he introduced himself on any given day.

There is no evidence to support my theory, but I am not alone in my thinking. Family trees on also show Lucy with the maiden name Hardin. Some even name a father:  Isaac Hardin. Most offer no documentation. Those that offer “proof” point to documentation that actually negates the argument that the Lucy who married John Frazier was daughter of Isaac Hardin of Albemarle County.

Marriage record for Lucy Hardin and William Scott
A red flag went up when I saw that some researchers say Lucy was married to William Scott, but I recognized that it was possible she had been married 3 times. A marriage record confirms that Lucy Hardin married William Scott in 1808 in Albemarle County. It had to have been a short marriage though for her to then marry someone named Shiflett and then John Frazier in 1811.

Scouting around the internet further, I found a will for Isaac Hardin. He spelled out his desires for which children got what. To his daughter “Lucinda Scott” he left all the slaves that he had already loaned her, and he further stipulated that at her death, the slaves and their increase should be divided among Lucy’s heirs. The problem with this will, however, is that it is dated 1820. Obviously a different Lucy Hardin. By 1820, Lucy had been married to John Frazier 9 years and had 7 little Fraziers to care for, and not a slave in sight.

The Fraziers:
John FRAZIER (ca 1770 - before 1850 Greene Co, VA) and LUCY SHIFLETT (ca 1778 - before 1860 Greene Co, VA)
  1. Leland Hardin Shiflett/Frazier (ca 1805 - about 1892 Greene Co, VA) & m1) Ann Smith Mallory (1806 - 1833 Orange Co, VA) ; m2) America Mallory (1810 - 1854 Greene Co, VA) ; m3) Artemissa Shiflett (1813 - 1890 Greene Co, VA)
  2. Nancy Elizabeth Frazier (14 Feb 1811 Albemarle Co, VA - 22 Jan 1895 Rockingham Co, VA) & Burton Shiflett (1814 Orange Co, VA - 6 Sep 1860 Greene Co, VA) m. 1 Dec 1834 Albemarle Co, VA
  3. Keziah Frazier (1812 Albemarle Co, VA - 8 Oct 1855 Greene Co, VA) & Lively Morris (1812 - ca 1890 Greene Co, VA) m. 27 Nov 1838 Greene Co, VA
  4. Michael “Miley” Frazier (1814 - before 1910 Albemarle Co, VA) & Virenda Jane Shiflett (1821 Orange Co, VA - before 1900 Greene Co, VA) m. 14 Jul 1844 Greene Co, VA
  5. John Harris Frazier (1815 - after 1880) & Mary J. Morris (1817 - before 1860) m. 5 Apr 1836 Albemarle Co, VA
  6. William Thomas Frazier (1817 - 16 Dec 1860 Page Co, VA) & Ardena Morris (26 Jan 1817 Orange Co, VA - after 1880 Page Co, VA) m. 1 Jan 1841 Greene Co, VA
  7. Shadrack Frazier (1820 - after 1880 Page Co, VA) & Naomi Deane (1828 - 24 Oct 1860 Page Co, VA) m. 13 Sep 1847 Albemarle Co, VA
  8. Susan Frances Frazier (1824 Albemarle Co, VA - 1880 Page Co, VA) & Pleasant Morris (1823 - 1865 Page Co, VA) m. 2 Dec 1845 Greene Co, VA
  9. Merry / Murrey Walker Frazier (1827 Albemarle Co, VA - Aug 1887 Greene Co, VA) & Mariah Keaton (1845 Albemarle Co, VA - May 1890 Greene Co, VA) m. 31 Oct 1881 Greene Co, VA

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

52 Ancestors: START with Frazier

Amy Johnson Crow has presented another challenge for 2018 – to research and write about 1 ancestor each week, 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. This year she has included a weekly theme or prompt. Week 1 is appropriately titled “START.” So let’s START with one of my lines that has been neglected for quite some time: Frazier.

My oldest known Frazier is my 4X great-grandfather John Frazier of Albemarle and Greene counties in Virginia. Census records suggest he was born in Virginia about 1770 and died before 1850. So far Frazier researchers have not been able to pin down any specifics on those important dates, nor have they been able to prove conclusively, absolutely, without doubt and once and for all who his parents were and from where the Fraziers of Virginia came.

Like many folks, I enjoy checking the family trees on Ancestry and FamilySearch to see what others have found in their research. I use the information and MISinformation for clues. Genealogy nerds will find the Frazier research to be very amusing. In reality, though, it is not funny because innocent novices will be fooled into taking the family trees as gospel.
Sample of Frazier Trees on Ancestry

Take for example the trees naming John Frazier’s parents as Thomas Frazier and Agnes Johnston. According to those “family historians” (and I use that term loosely), John Frazier was from Inverness, Scotland and was naturalized in 1807 in South Carolina where he worked as a merchant. The father Thomas was supposedly born in either the Netherlands or Scott County, Virginia. He married Agnes Johnston in 1770 in Guilford, North Carolina and then married her again in 1799 in Patrick County, Virginia. Makes perfect sense – Thomas and Agnes were so in love, they married twice. And they were so in love, they took a honeymoon trip to Scotland were little baby John was born before zipping back home to North Carolina or Virginia or South Carolina or wherever. Yeah, that’s a good story. Totally believable – NOT!

Or maybe other researchers got it right when they claimed John was son of Thomas N. Frazier and Sarah Joyce. These researchers follow Thomas’s line back to Robert Frazier of Ireland who sailed from home to Philadelphia and then on to Orange County, Virginia where he took the Oath of Allegiance in 1740. He married Clara Frances Graham and together they had 9 or more children. Sons Thomas, William, and Micajah left enough paper trail to place them in the geographic vicinity that makes sense, Orange and Albemarle Counties, but eventually they all moved to Campbell County. Micajah went on to Amherst County. Some of them wound up in Kentucky and Missouri. Therefore, there are still many question marks with this family constellation even though it feels like we are close to determining the STARTing point for my Fraziers.

One Frazier cousin whose research I admire is Kevin who grew up in Page County surrounded by his Frazier family who could trace their roots to John Frazier of Greene County without question. Like me, Kevin cannot push back further with any certainty, but he has the good sense to post his tree with parents “unknown.” 

Kevin’s family lore includes a story that the early Fraziers came to Virginia from debtor’s prison in England. They supposedly participated in Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 before moving westward into Orange County.

If that story is true, it puts our family here in Virginia well ahead of the big influx of Scotch-Irish around 1730 when Governor Gooch was freely doling out land in the Shenandoah Valley.

Reconstructed Irish farm at Frontier Culture Museum
Staunton, Augusta Co, VA
(image from flickr under Creative Commons license)
It is certainly possible that our John Frazier descends from one of those early Scotch-Irish settlers. There is a will for a John Frazier in Rockingham County dated 1788, not Kevin’s and my John Frazier but maybe a relative. Since he was a man with land, farm equipment, clothing, and rifles to divide among his heirs, he was not a young man, but likely born in the early 1700s. He mentioned a wife Jennet but no children. He named brothers Joseph, George, and William, and a sister Mary Galloway. Maybe our John was son of one of them.

An 1809 will in nearby Augusta County offers another possible link. In this one, John Frazier apparently did not marry or did not have children because he left his sizeable plantation and mansion to a brother James and to 2 nephews named Samuel Frazier and John W. Frazier. I have never seen MY John Frazier with a middle initial, so this is probably a different John Frazier.  

This is not to say I believe John’s father was also named John. The vast number of Frazier trees say his father was Thomas, and although the research is very shaky, Thomas is a good bet as suggested by the many descendants named Thomas.

John Frazier was such a common name that efforts to push back another generation have been difficult, even for the most astute and dedicated researcher. Maybe one of these days a family bible or colonial record will surface like the Rosetta Stone to reveal the history of the Fraziers in Virginia.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.