Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Genealogy Tech: Online Vital Records

Genealogy Tech: Online Vital Records

Why search vital records online?
With the advent of the internet, family history has become a lot more accessible. Before the internet, all research had to be done by visiting libraries or archives or writing to parishes or historical societies to request copies or transcriptions of records. Now, with the click of your mouse, you have access to thousands of records online and are able to do much of your genealogical research from the comfort of your home. While not all vital records are online, more are being added each day.
What website do I use to search for vital records?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one central website that allows you to search all localities. There is a website, however, that lists different record collections available for different locations. That website is Cyndi’s List, and it can be a big help in your research. You can choose a certain area (England or New Hampshire, for example) and see a list of a number of sites that pertain to that area, including where to look for vital records (some of the sites it lists are free and some require payment). While the lists on this website are not totally inclusive, they can be a good place to start.
Are there other options to find vital records websites?
Another way to find records that are online is by doing a simple internet search. For example, when you type “Utah death certificates online” into a Google search, the top result is http://archives.utah.gov/research/indexes/20842.htm. On this site, you can view actual death certificates for individuals who died in Utah between 1904 and 1958. While not all states have posted actual certificates online, many have posted indexes and tell you how to order copies of the certificate(s) you want. This is true for other types of vital records as well – you might only be able to find a transcription online but oftentimes the actual certificate can be ordered.
Another place to search is the local historical society’s website or the GenWeb page for the locality you are interested in. The WorldGenWeb page can be found at http://www.worldgenweb.org/ and you can link to your specific locality there. These pages tell you which records are available online and oftentimes have transcriptions of records that are not online yet.
Here are some of our favorite vital records websites to get you started:
Family Search – This website contains records from all over the world. Much of their content is transcriptions of records but they have some images posted.
Ancestry  - While this website focuses mainly on the United States and the United Kingdom, they have records from many other countries.
American Ancestors – This website contains records from New England.

Sunday, February 19, 2012



The things that the commander told Levi troubled him as much as having to move. Old Bully was pushed hard to get home as soon as possible. Levi felt he was about to loose the place he called home and it would set him back for a long time. He had gone as far as he could go to hang on to what he and his family worked so hard for. Here it is in the early part of winter; no stability and nothing to look forward to. He was a couple of miles away from home when he suddenly stop old Bully, got off and dropped to his knees and begin to pray as he had never prayed before. Levi knew the Lord had provided for a long time and he would also guide him thru this situation.
He approached the cabin and heard the sound of livestock he hadn’t heard before. Somebody is here that doesn't  belong. He cautiously eased toward the cabin. There was a candle burning inside but there was no sounds. There was two horses tied up on the porch railing. Levi cocked the hammer on his flintlock musket and prepared to kick the door open. Then he heard a voice inside, “There is something outside.” Levi recognized the voice and shouted “Is that you, Wendell” ? “Yeah and you better be Levi”. The door flew open. Wendell , Harland and Levi embraced . The brothers had found where he lived. They had been traveling for nearly three months and they looked very frail. Ma Gretchen had fed them a good meal. The boys hardly knew their uncles and seemed somewhat distant. Levi tried to show hospitality but all that transpired that day was still hanging heavy on his mind. “Brothers, I am sure glad to see you but we all need to rest for there is a gospel meeting tomorrow afternoon up the hill. It is a good hour ride from here. We all need to go.
Levi was the first up the next morning. He hadn’t slept much at all. He went to the branch to wash off. He looked up the hill to see Gretchen coming. She could tell that things didn’t go well the day before. “Levi “ what is going to happen”? Cause I can tell things didn’t go well. Levi explained everything that had happened. “We are to stay here for now but my brothers must move on back a couple of miles.” “There is a lot of uncertainty as to what is going to take place around here and my brothers being here are only going to make things worse.”
They headed back to the cabin and by then everyone was up. Ma stoked up the fire and begin to cook some of the fatback Levi brought home. There was a good mess of eggs ready to be fried. Harland had brought about 20 pounds of the remaining wheat he and Wendell had been living off of the last few months. Herman got busy grinding some of it up to make bread. Ma sent Andrew to the branch to pick some water crest so she could pour hot grease on it. This made delicious greens. They all set down to a great Breakfast.


The Limestone County Archives will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, for Presidents' Day. We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 The Friends of the Archives will meet at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Limestone County Archives to discuss ongoing projects, plans, and opportunities to get involved with the Archives' work of preserving and sharing Limestone County history. Please plan to join us!


There are few countries where family history is more popular than the United States. This is in spite of the fact that American genealogists face brickwalls not found in many other countries. Here are seven brickwalls American researchers will likely encounter.
1. Immigration. Discovering an immigrant’s place of origin is one of the biggest challenges in American genealogy, particularly colonial immigrants and nineteenth-century Irish immigrants.
2. Record loss. Courthouse fires, wars, floods, and earthquakes have wreaked havoc on American historical documents.
3. Maiden names. Unlike other European countries, where women did not lose their maiden names at marriage, in the United States they did. The result is lack of knowledge of many women’s maiden names.
4. Migration. Individuals who constantly moved westward can be difficult to place in birth families.
5. Slavery. The lack of surnames and documentation on black slaves makes reconstructing their families very difficult.
6. Frontier. Few records were kept in pioneer areas, particularly regarding intermarriages between Europeans and American Indians.
7. Religious freedom. Religious freedom in the United States blocked the formation of an established church. In contrast to European nations, where priests and ministers faithfully recorded the majority of parishioners baptisms, marriages, and burials, these records are often absent in American research.


Due to building maintenance, the center will be closed this Wednesday night, Feb. 23.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Posted: 08 Feb 2012 11:05 PM PST
“When you see all this kind of stuff, it’s really confusing,” said Ron Tanner of the mistakes and redundancies in new.FamilySearch. “How do I fix this mess?”
FamilySearch is working on a product called Family Tree that will allow anyone to fix anything.
“it’s scary,” said Tanner, “[but] that’s the only way to fix it. We’ve got to open it.” Tanner presented “The Future of FamilySearch Family Tree” at last week’s RootsTech.
FamilySearch is going to take new.FamilySearch.org and move it to www.familysearch.org and open it up to everyone, including the general public. You’ll want to get your new FamilySearch summary values right because that is what FamilySearch is going to bring over to Family Tree, said Tanner.
The FamilySearch Family Tree
The pedigree/butterfly view
“Our goal in the Family Tree is to document the genealogy of mankind, accurately,” said Tanner, “and preserve it for generations to come. That is our goal.”
To accomplish this, Family Tree will have changeability, accountability, recoverability. The system will track the who, what, and when of changes. And it makes it easier to revert back to good data than it is to create bad data. Changeability, accountability, recoverability. It will have discussions and notifications to encourage collaboration and to make recoverability more timely.
Additionally, the system has a new, easier to enter source reference feature. The system allows you to reuse source references many times. In the future they will provide a button on records. When viewing a record you can click the button to connect the record to a person in your tree.
In the future we’ll allow you to upload scanned images. And we’ll preserve them.
There will be two ways to contribute tree information to FamilySearch. One will be contributing your GEDCOM files. This was called Pedigree Resource Ffile, but FamilySearch is trying to call it Contributed Pedigrees. It will be different than PRF because an upload replaces your previous file. It will be searchable and viewable by others just like PRF. And FamilySearch is going to preserve it, just like they preserve the tree.
The other way to contribute, is adding your tree information right into Family Tree, working together.
FamilySearch put a copy of Ancestral File and parts of Pedigree Resource File into new FamilySearch, but they are going to take them back out. Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File are available under www.familysearch.org Trees.
“When are you going live with this monstrosity, beautiful, wonderful, thing?, Tanner asked rhetorically. FamilySearch’s intentions are to offer it to everyone before the end of this year. He didn’t say “the year.” He said, “this year.”

Monday, February 6, 2012


United States Federal Census

The first census taken in 1790 included the following states:
Connecticut, Maine (part of Massachusetts), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.
The census was burned for the following states during the War of 1812:
Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia.

Information found in the 1790 census is as follows:
Columns - left to right
1.  Head of Family.
2.  Free White Males 16 & Up including heads of families.
3.  Free White Males Under 16.
4.  Free White Females including heads of family.
5.  All other free persons except Indians not taxed..
6.  Slaves.

The 1800 census included the new city of the District of Columbia.  The census for the following states was destroyed:
Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia.

The 1800 census contains the following information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Head of Family.
2.  Free White Males Under age 10.
3.  Free White Males age 10 – 16.
4.  Free White Males age 16 – 26.
5.  Free White Males age 26 – 45.
6.  Free White Males 45 and over.
7. Free White Females under 10.
8.  Free White Females 10 – 16.
9.  Free White Females 16 – 26.
10.  Free White Females 26 – 45.
11.  Free White Females 45 and over.
12.  All others free persons.
13.  Slaves.

The census taken in 1810 included one new state:  Louisiana
 States with no 1810 census (lost or destroyed): District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey.
The information in the 1810 and 1800 census are the same.

The census taken in 1820 included these new states:  Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Ohio.

The 1820 Census contains the following information:
Columns – left to right
1.  Head of Family.
2.  Free White Males under 10.
3.  Free White Males 10 – 16.
4.  Free White Males 16 – 18.
5.  Free White Males 16 – 26.
6.  Free White Males 26 – 45.
7.  Free White Males 45 and up.
8.  Free White Females under 10.
9.  Free White Females 10 – 16.
10.  Free White Females 16 – 26.
11.  Free White Females 26 – 45.
12.  Free White Females 45 and over.
13.  Foreigners not naturalized.
14.  Number of persons engaged in agriculture.
15.  Number of persons engaged in commerce.
16.  Number of persons engaged in manufactures.
17.  Slaves – males under 14.
18.  Slaves – males over 14 - 26.
19.  Slaves – males over 26 - 45.
21.  Slaves – females 45 and upwards.
22.  Free colored persons – males under 14.
23.  Free colored person – males 14 – 26.
24.  Free colored persons – males 26 – 45.
25.  Free colored persons – males 45 and upwards.
26.  Free colored persons – females under 14.
27.  Free colored persons – females 14 – 26.
28.  Free colored persons – females 26 – 45.
29.  Free colored persons – females 45 and upwards.
30.  All other persons except Indians not taxed.

The 1830 census included four new states:  Alabama, Arkansas Territory, Florida and Missouri.

The 1830 census contains the following information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Head of Family.
2.  Free White Males under age 5.
3.  Free White Males 5 – 10.
4.  Free White Males 10 – 15.
5.  Free White Males 15 – 20.
6.  Free White Males 20 – 30.
7.  Free White Males 30 – 40.
8.  Free White Males 40 – 50.
9.  Free White Males 50 – 60.
10.  Free White Males 60 – 70.
11.  Free White Males 70—80.
12.  Free White Males 80 – 90.
13.  Free White Males 90 – 100.
14.  Free White Males 100 and over.
15.  Free White Females under age 5.
16.  Free White Females 5 – 10.
17.  Free White Females 10 – 15.
18.  Free White Females 15 – 20.
19.  Free White Females 20 – 30.
20.  Free White Females 30 – 40.
21.  Free White Females 40 – 50.
22.  Free White Females 50 – 60.
23.  Free White Females 60 – 70.
24.  Free White Females 70 – 80.
25.  Free White Females 80 – 90.
26.  Free White Females 90 – 100.
27.  Free White Females 100 and over.
There is a slave schedule and information on persons who are handicapped.  Not every state used this information.

The 1840 census included two new states:  Iowa Territory and Wisconsin Territory.

Information contained in the 1840 census is the same as the 1830 census until column 28.
Column - left to right
28.  Free Colored Males under 10.
29.  Free Colored Males 10 – 24.
30.  Free Colored Males 24 – 36.
31.  Free Colored Males 36 – 55.
32.  Free Colored Males 55 – 100.
33.  Free Colored Males 100 and over.
34.  Free Colored Females under 10.
35.  Free Colored Females 10 – 24.
36.  Free Colored Females 24 – 36.
37.  Free Colored Females 36 – 55.
38.  Free Colored Females 55 – 100.
39.  Free Colored Females 100 and over.

The 1850 census included these new states: California, Minnesota Territory, New Mexico Territory, Oregon Territory, Texas Territory, and Utah Territory.

The 1850 census contains the following information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Dwelling houses numbered in the order of visitation.
2.  Families numbered in the order of visitation.
3.  The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June, 1850, was in this family.
4.  Age.
5.  Sex.
6.  Color – White, Black or Mulatto.
7.  Profession, occupation or trade of each male person over 15 years of age.
8.  Value of real estate owned.
9.  Place of birth, naming state, territory or country.
10.  Married within the year.
11.  Attended school within the year.
12.  Persons over 20 years of age who cannot read or write.
13.  Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic, or convict.

The 1860 census included these new states:   Dakota Territory, Kansas, Nebraska Territory, Washington.

The information in the 1860 census is the same as the 1850 census, except for the real estate section which is divided 2 parts:
8.  Value of real estate.
9.   Value of personal estate.

The 1870 census included these new states:  Arizona Territory, Colorado Territory, Idaho Territory, Montana Territory, Nevada, West Virginia, and Wyoming Territory.

The 1870 census contains the following information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Dwelling houses numbered in the order of visitation.
2.  Families numbered in the order of visitation.
3.  The name of every person whose place of abode on the first day of June, 1870, was in this family.
4.  Age.
5.  Sex.
6.  Color – White, Black, Mulatto.
7.  Profession, occupation or trade of each person, male or female.
8.  Value of real estate.
9.  Value of personal estate.
10.  Place of birth, naming state or territory of U.S., or the country if of foreign birth.
11.  Father of foreign birth.
12.  Mother of foreign birth.
13.  If born within the year, state the month.
14.  If married within the year, state the month.
15.  Attended school within the year.
16.  Cannot read.
17.  Cannot write.
18.  Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic.
19.  Male citizens of 21 years of age and upwards.
20.  Male citizens of 21 years of age and upwards who’s right to vote is denied or abridged on other grounds than rebellion or other crime.

No new states added.

 The 1880 census contains the following information:
Columns left – right
1.  Dwelling houses numbered in order of visitation.
2.  Families numbered in order of visitation.
3.  The name of each person whose place of abode on first day of June 1880, was in this family.
4.  Color, White – W, Black – B, Mulatto – M, Chinese – C, Indian – I.
5.  Sex, Male – M, Female – F.
6.  Age at last birthday prior to June 1, 1880.  If under one year, give months in fractions, thus 4/12.
7.  If born within the census year, give the month.
8.  Relationship of this person to the head of this family, whether wife, son, daughter, servant, boarder, or other.
9.  Single.
10.  Married.
11.  Widowed – W, Divorced – D.
12.  Married during census year.
13.  Profession, occupation or trade of each person male or female.
14.  Number of months this person has been unemployed during the census year.
15.  Is the person on the day of the enumerator’s visit sick or temporarily disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties?  If so, what is the sickness or disability.
16.  Blind.
17.  Deaf and dumb.
18.  Idiotic.
19.  Insane.
20.  Maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled.
21.  Attended school within the census year.
22.  Cannot read.
23.  Cannot write.
24.  Place of birth of this person naming State or Territory of the United States or the country if foreign born.
25.  Place of birth of father of this person naming State or Territory of the United States or the Country if foreign born.
26.  Place of birth of mother of this person naming State or Territory of the United States or Country if foreign born.

During 1921, there was a fire in the Commerce Department where the 1890 census was held.  The fire was brought under control, but the sprinkler system went off and the census got wet.   Rather than trying to salvage and dry what they could, the census was left to sit overnight in the water.  It was destroyed and thrown away!  Only bits and pieces of it remain:
Alabama – Perry County; District of Columbia – various streets; Georgia – Muscogee County; Illinois – McDonough County, Mound Township; Minnesota – Wright County, Rockford; New Jersey – Hudson County, Jersey City; New York – Westchester County, Eastchester and Suffolk County, Brookhaven Township; North Carolina – Gaston County, South Point and Rice Bend Township, Cleveland County, Township No. 2;
Ohio – Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Clinton County, Wayne Township; South Dakota – Union County, Jefferson Township; Texas – Ellis County, S.P. No. 6, Mountain Peak, Ovila Precinct, Hood County, Precinct No. 5, Rusk County, Precinct No. 6 and J.P. No. 7, Trinity County, Trinity Town and Precinct No. 2, Kaufman County, Kaufman.

A few more states and territories were added:  Alaska, Hawaii Territory, Indian Territory, Military and Naval Forces, Oklahoma.

The 1900 census contains the following information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Number of dwelling house in order of visitation.
2.  Number of family in the order of visitation.
3.  Name of each person whose place of abode on June 1, 1900 was in this family.
4.  Relationship of each person to the head of the family.
5.  Color of race.
6.  Sex.
7. Month and year of birth.
8.  Age at last birthday.
9.  Whether single, married, widowed or divorced.
10.  Number of years married.
11.  Mother of how many children.
12.  Number of these children living.
13.  Place of birth of this person.
14.  Place of birth of father of this person.
15.  Place of birth of mother of this person.
16.  Year of immigration to the United States.
17.  Number of years in the United States.
18.  Naturalization.
19.  Occupation.
20.  Months not employed.
21.  Attended school (in months)
22.  Can read
23.  Can write
24.  Can speak English
25. Owned or rented
26.  Owned free or mortgaged
27.  Farm or house
28.  Number of farm schedule (?)

Only one new state was added to the census – Puerto Rico.

The1910 census contains the following information:
Columns – left to right
1.  Number of dwelling house in order of visitation.
2.  Number of family in order of visitation.
3.  Name of each person whose place of abode on April 15,1910, was in this family.
4.  Relationship of this person to the head of the family.
5.  Sex.
6.  Color or Race.
7.  Age at last birthday.
8.  Whether single, married, widowed or divorced.
9.  Number of years of present marriage.
10.  Number of children born.
11.  Number now living.
12.  Place of birth of this person.
13.  Place of birth of father of this person.
14.  Place of birth of mother of this person.
15.  Year of immigration to the United States.
16.  Whether naturalized or alien.
17.  Whether able to speak English; or if not, give language spoken.
18.  Trade or profession or particular kind of work done by this person.
19.  Industry, business or establishment in which this person works.
20.  Whether an employer, employee or working on own account.
21.  Whether out of work on April 15, 1910.
22.  Number of weeks out of work during the year 1909.
23.  Whether able to read.
24.  Whether able to write.
25.  Attended school any time since September 1, 1909.
26.  Owned or rented.
27.  Owned free or mortgaged.
28.  Farm or house.
29.  Number of farm schedule.
30.  Whether a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.
31.  Whether blind (both eyes).
32.  Whether deaf and dumb.

New states and territories added: American Samoa, Guam, Panama Canal Zone, Virgin Islands.

The 1920 census contains the following Information:
Columns left – to right
1.  Street, Avenue, Road etc.
2.  House number or farm etc.
3.  Number of dwelling house in order of visitation
4.  Number of family in order of visitation
5.  Name of each person whose place of abode on January 1, 1920 was in this family. Enter surname first, then the given name and middle initial, if any.   Include every person living on January 1, 1920.  Omit children born since January 1, 1920.
6.  Relationship of this person to head of family.
7.  Home owned or rented.
8.  If owned, free or mortgaged.
9.  Sex.
10.  Color or race.
11.  Age at last birthday.
12.  Single, married, widowed or divorced.
13.  Year of immigration to the United States.
14.  Naturalized or alien.
15.  If naturalized, year of naturalization.
16.  Attended school at any time since September 1, 1919.
17.  Whether able to read.
18.  Whether able to write.
19.  Place of birth.
20.  Mother tongue.
21.  Place of birth of father.
22.  Mother tongue.
23.  Place of birth of mother.
24.  Mother tongue.
25.  Whether able to speak English.
26.  Trade, profession or particular type of work done.
27.  Industry, business or establishment in which at work.
28.  Employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account.
29.  Number of farm schedule.

Consular Service was added to census.

The 1930 census contains the following Information:
Columns - left to right
1.  Street, avenue, road etc.
2.  House number (in cities and towns)
3.  Number of dwelling house in order of visitation
4.  Number of family in order if visitation
5.  Name of each person whose place of abode on April 1, 1930 was in this family.   Enter surname first, then the given name and middle initial if any.  Include every person living on April 1, 1930.  Omit children born since April 1, 1930
6.  Relationship of this person to head of family.
7.  Home owned or rented.
8.  Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented.
9.  Radio set.
10.  Does this family live on a farm.
11.  Sex.
12.  Color or race.
13.  Age at last birthday.
14.  Marital condition.
15.  Age at first marriage.
16.  Attended school or college any time since September 1, 1929.
17.  Whether able to read and write.
18.  Place of birth of person.
19.  Place of birth of father.
20.  Place of birth of mother.
21.  Language spoken at home before coming to the United States.
22.  Year of immigration to the United States.
23.  Naturalization.
24.  Whether able to speak English.
Code A,B,C, for office use only
25.  Trade, profession or particular kind of work.
26.  Industry or business.
Code D
27.  Class of worker.
28.  Whether actually at work yesterday or the last regular working day.
29.  If not, line number of Unemployment Schedule.
30.  Whether veteran of U. S. military or naval forces.
31.  What war or expedition.
32.  Number of farm schedule.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Submitted by Gary Compton

The soldiers from Fort Hampton arrived one day with bad news. Mr. Simms and his family were told they would have to move because it had been determined that the Chickasaw Boundary was being violated by him and other settlers that had moved in the Elk River area . The orders stated they must leave within the next two days. This was a great blow to Levi as well to his family. Gretchen was not feeling well and was sick almost every day. Levi was very worried about her. He could not figure out her illness.
Levi paid a visit to the local land office trying to figure out what he needed to do to maintain ownership to this land. The Land was part of Mississippi territory and it was determined the he needed to move back East for about three miles. Here it was in the early part of winter with no shelter and no place to go.
Levi’s next step was to go and talk to the post commander at Fort Hampton. He knew that abandoning his homestead in the dead of winter would place his whole family in danger of freezing or starving to death. Levi arrived at the fort late that same day. Guards halted him at the fort entrance. He was commanded to state his name, where he was from and the purpose of his visit. One of the guards went to the commander's quarters and shortly returned with a message. “ The commander is busy getting his daily report from the field officers and it may be an hour or so before he would be able to see you”. This didn't set well with Levi because he needed to head back to his family as soon as he could. One of the soldiers recognized Levi and offered him some fatback and coffee. Levi accepted the offer and they begin to talk. The soldier found out Levi was from the same part of the country as he. Soon they found out they both knew some of the same people from back East. This put Levi at ease. The Colonial came out to meet Levi with a good hardy handshake. He invited him into his office and closed the door. “What can I do for you Mr. Simms ?” he asked. Levi explained his dilemma, expressing his concerns for his wife and children. The Commander begin to explain what was about to happen in the area where he was homesteading. “ The Government is in the process of purchasing the land from the Chickasaw and Cherokee Nations. The Indians have already been moved across the river and it is just a matter of time before it is all settled. Then, all this land will go up for sale. You will have to purchase it or lose it." Levi explained he had already invested a lot in making it livable. 
The Commander thought for a few minutes and realized he had a great asset in Levi. “Mr. Simms, Would you consider working for the Government?” Levi didn’t know what to say. “The only thing I ever done was farm and trap”.  The commander said, "Well, I need someone that knows that area where you are living."  Levi thought hard.  "Well, I would be obliged to take your offer but that don’t help me and my family right now cause I got to move somewhere and don’t have a place to go."  The commander told Levi to go back to his homestead and "don’t move until you hear from me. I have some details to try and work out. Here is a letter that allows you to stay there in case one of my patrols try making you move."  The Colonial summoned an officer to escort Mr. Simms to the quartermaster. He also give the officer a paper with this list. With a hand shake ,they departed. The quartermaster looked surprised when he saw what was written on the paper. He begin to pull out wool blankets ( four to be exact); Two slabs of salt fatback, one heavy parka and a dozen pairs of foot wraps. The officer handed the items to Levi. Levi said, “these things are nice and are needed but I have no means to pay you so I can’t accept.” The officer told Levi, “ If the commander sees fit to give this to you, you need to take it with you because I never seen the colonial this generous before”.  Reluctantly, Levi took the goods and loaded them on Old Bully, thanked the officer and rode away.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Things were shaping up for winter.
Next morning everyone was up early. The air was cool and they all knew winter was not far away. Ducks and geese filled the sky. They were heading south for the winter. (All Levi could see was good food going to waste). The boys were already taking the meat down from where it hung. Pa a few weeks earlier, built a table and a log smoke house. He knew this day would come when they needed a place to prepare and store the meat. Taking the axe, he begin to cut the meat up into smaller pieces. The Shoulders, Hams, Ribs, Neck, Loins, the hides all were saved. They carefully rubbed it all down with salt and hung it up in the smoke house. Pa built a small fire in a pit he had dug inside, placing piles of leaves on the fire to create lots of smoke. He would keep the fire going for six days and nights. this insured the meat would be preserved. Ma cooked out small batches of bear grease and poured it into the clay jugs that Levi traded for when he went to Mooresville. All the meat preparation took all day. everyone was tired and retired at sundown.
The cool weather causes fur bearing animals to get thicker pelts. This made them more valuable for trade. Levi made more snares and trapping became very busy. He would stretch the hides over hand hued boards and hang them up in the top of the barn to let dry. The furs could be sold for money or traded for other goods. This was everyone’s source of income during this time. The Simms family was totally self sufficient, but it was evident, there was desires for more modern things that would make their lives easier.-----To get ahead, even back then, was the American dream.
The boys at this time were busy clearing land. It was early November and they had cleared about eight acres preparing for the spring planting. They had no means to remove the larger stumps so they worked around them. Ten acres of cleared land at this time was considered large especially in frontier country.
Every thing was going well for the Simms and prosperity was just around the corner. The fur trade was doing well his livestock collection was increasing and the family was healthy and all was working hard to make things at it’s best.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Ma picked up a piece of railing while charging at the Bear, screaming to the top of her lungs. The bear reared on it’s hind legs preparing for a fight. Ma Gretchen never checked up getting closer and closer. The Bear begin to bristle. It dropping the meat and Begin showing his teeth. Ma took a swing hitting the bear right square in the nose. The bear was stunned momentarily but showed no signs of leaving. She whacked him across the back this time. he went down seeming to be paralyzed in his back legs. By this time Herman had made it up to them, he was screaming "Ma Get Back". By now Ma Gretchen was saying things that no child should hear. The Bear apparently realizing he had met his match, wobbled off into the Brush, letting out a low rumble. Ma and Herman stood there waiting to see if he would come back.-------- After things settled down a bit Ma fell to her knees crying. She only now became frightened about what had happened.
Herman consoled her the best he could. He really didn't know what to say but he blurted out "Ma, the bear didn't have a chance, he didn’t' have a chance. You whipped him fare and square. He aint coming back because he is ah hurting too bad. A short time later they both heard the sound of a gun shot coming from down in the bottom. A minute or so later they heard the second shot. Herman knew then Pa had killed something cause that second shot was to finish him off.
Ma had finally collected herself. she realized the bear left their supper alone. She picked up the hind quarter and wiped it off, hanging it back up in the cabin. Herman hung around the cabin with Ma until Pa and Andrew arrived. They had killed a monster elk.
Herman couldn’t wait to tell Pa and Brother what him and Ma experienced.
Pa got excited at the possibility of killing a bear so he took off with his loaded musket. If he could find and kill it, they would have some much needed Bear Grease for cooking and other things; bear is good eating too.
Levi didn't go far until he ran up on the bear. The bear was still in a bad mood but couldn’t get around very well. One shot finished him off. So back to camp to get Old Bully and drag the bear home. When Old Bully got close to that bear, Levi knew things might get out of hand . Bully went into the attack mode. He whirled around and about tenderized the bear with his hind feet before Levi could settle him down.

Old Bully reluctantly drug the bear down the hill to the cabin. They strung up their game by the hind legs removing the entrails and skinned them out. Levi fed and watered Old Bully and tied him out next to the carcass. He was their guard for the night. They would let the meat chill out over night before cutting it up then would salt it down. They washed up in the branch and carried a jug of water from the spring to the cabin. everyone set down for a great meal.---- Silence came over everyone when Pa begin to offer thanks . "Lord, we all know you been watching over us and I want to thank you for your protection . We thank you for this land where we live and the abundance you provide for us. We pray that you will continue to guide us thru this life. I thank you for the joy we have with each other. Bless this food and always remind us to give you the thanks for everything you give us. Continue to watch over Gretchen, Herman and Andrew. Oh yes , thank you for "Old Bully" and keep him safe too. AMEN"

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Submitted by Gary Compton
Traveling at night, there is not much to see. The moon and stars, the sounds of Owls, slow chirping Crickets an occasional sound of varmints fighting . Levi realized that he had a good friend "old Bully". Bully could sense danger and this set Levi at ease. Levi's thoughts soon turned to the gold they had found. He decided that tomorrow he would go and kill a elk and salt the meat down for winter food. Then scratch in the branch for more Gold.
He arrived at the cabin just before day break. There was a light blanket of frost on the ground and it was right at freezing. Before he could let everyone know he was home, Andrew was already up and met him at the door.  Andrew seemed to always have something to tell Pa when arriving from away.This time Herman had stepped on a large thorn and it went completely thru his foot. Andrew stated "Me and mama pulled it out and made Herman wash it out in the Branch".
Levi had seen people die from this . His concerns were great. He had sulfur ointment that he had made up for wounds and sores. This mixture was a combination of Sulfur and animal fat. Levi grew up knowing that this was a cure-all that Mama always used on him and his brothers. He told Andrew to go wake up Herman and get him over to the candle light. Herman wasn’t to happy about being disturbed this early in the morning but he knew that papa would be mad if he didn't do as he was told. Levi looked at the foot and felt Herman's head to see if he had a fever---he didn't feel hot. The foot was swollen and red. Levi knew that infection was about to set in.
Son. this is going to hurt but I need to get this ointment into the wound so you won't get sick. Herman was the tough one and told papa "do what you got to do"
Levi fashioned him a stick about the size of the thorn and coated it with the ointment. He thrust it into the wound and worked it around. Herman gritted his teeth trying not to show any pain. He finally gave in to big tears running down his face. Papa pulled the stick out being finished.
By this time, it was beginning to get good daylight. Andrew took old Bully to the Barn, removed his saddle and bridle, and fed him. Levi was tired and needed a nap. He laid down on his straw bed and slept until mid morning. He woke up to the smell of Venison frying. Ma Gretchen was up going at it cooking breakfast; Salt Venison, and fried Buckwheat bread.
Ma could get anyone moving with her cooking. The first one up was Herman. He was walking on the heel of his sore foot and everyone could tell he was doing OK. Levi walked down to the branch to wash his face. Andrew was right behind him. Pa, He said, “What you gona do today“. Levi told him the plans he had thought up on the way home. Andrew was all excited exclaiming he had been watching a big bull elk next to where he and Herman had cleared the land. Andrew wanted to go with him so he could spot the Elk. Levi told Him, "after breakfast, you saddle up Old Bully and get my Musket" .
Andrew couldn't resist telling Herman what he was about to do. Herman didn’t share his excitement because He knew he wouldn’t be able to go. Levi made him feel better by giving him a piece of Taffy Candy then telling him he needed to soak that foot in the branch occasionally and while he was at it, look for some more of that Gold. Ma didn't thank much of the idea but she kept her thoughts to herself. So they all eat their fill. Levi gave Ma a big old hug . Herman would be close enough to the cabin that Ma could keep an eye on him. She told Levi don't let Andrew out of your sight. He nodded and they left leading old Bully.  Herman went hopping down to the branch.

Ma got busy fixing a special treat for all, Venison Porridge, now this consisted of chopped up salt venison, Pulverized Buckwheat, fresh ground basal , chopped up wild onions, a small piece of Indian Turnip, lightly crushed chestnuts and seasoned with some Ground Sassafras leaves. Then she made a large piece of bread consisting of Ground Buckwheat and wild barley , venison stock, salt and water. The day was going well as she walked down to the branch to check on Herman. Herman had found more pieces of gold. The sun was bright and warm as she sat watching him. He was not having a care in the world. Involved in what he was doing. Ma begin to wonder where all their efforts would wind up. She begin to thank about her sisters back east and tears begin to fall realizing she may never see them again. They were so far away. . Her thoughts were quickly interrupted when she heard a commotion in the cabin. Out the door came a huge black Bear with what appeared to be a hind quarter of deer in it’s mouth.