James Lide Coker (maternal side)

Born on this date in 1837, James Lide Coker, my 5th cousin, 4x removed.

Photo found at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12291661/james-lide-coker

He was the founder of Sonoco Products Company (not to be confused with Sunoco) and Coker University (which was Welsh Neck High School, then the Coker College for Women, now Coker University).

“He was able to hire so many people that were in desperate straits after the war that he just uplifted the progress of everybody, black and white, urban or rural. He also was a leader in racial and social progress,” Dr. Will Joslin (his great-grandson) said.

Click the video below (no sense in recreating the wheel, there are many websites and videos about him.)

Read more at

https://archives.library.sc.edu/repositories/3/resources/40

https://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/coker-james-lide-sr/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lide_Coker

Founded in 1899, Sonoco Products Company is a United States-based international provider of diversified consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and packaging supply chain services and the world’s largest producer of composite cans, tubes, and cores. Wikipedia
Stock price: SON (NYSE) $60.71 +0.07 (+0.12%)
Dec 30, 4:00 PM EST – Disclaimer
Headquarters: Hartsville, SC
Subsidiaries: Sonoco ThermoSafe, MORE
CEO: R. Howard Coker (Feb 2020–)
Number of employees: 21,000 (2017)
Revenue: 5.237 billion USD (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)
Founder: James Lide Coker
Founded: May 10, 1899

New Hints, More Family

Having a full-time job means I spend a lot of time away from my family tree. More time than I like. But, in a way, it is a good thing. When looking at your family tree day in and day out, it can be frustrating, making you feel stuck and getting nowhere.

I have also had people tell me that they do not like the subscriptions to the big databases because they have taken all records that they have to give. But, this is not true. Remember, the big databases add new records all the time, meaning new hints are bound to occur. For instance, Family Search added about 180 new records from different countries, including the U.S. just last month. Find My Past updated titles and added new titles. Ancestry also updates and adds records regularly, lately adding about 40-50 collections. Chronicling America, one of my favorite newspaper databases, does the same thing. They’ve added and updated 100s of records. MyHeritage is doing the same, adding billions of records each year.

The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true for taking a break from your research or at least move it in a different direction. During my recent vacation, I hopped on Ancestry and learned that I had some new hints on one of my proverbial brick walls, my 7th great-grandmother. Low and behold, it was her will! That will listed her children and grandchildren! That hint led me to her father and his will! I have been able to add her mother and siblings, expanding that whole line.

You can also take a break by moving in a different direction. For instance, a lot of people tend to focus solely on their direct line. By not researching sideways; brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., you are missing out on a full picture of your direct ancestor. You can then develop a more detailed picture of their lives. When I first started out, I did this exact thing. I concentrated only on my direct lines. By adding their siblings and their children, I’ve been able to expand my tree so much.

You do not need to stop researching to take a break. I like to review some of the sources I have attached to an ancestor. With experience, I’ve learned more about reading records. I review older sources and often find some information I have overlooked or apply what I have learned to that older source.

Remember, not all family records are online. Archives, libraries, and local family history societies may be able to help. Write to a few and see what they have. They are very helpful and sometimes will assist you for free.

You can also look into an ancestor’s social history. The history around your ancestor can add context to the world your ancestors lived in.  The internet, including YouTube is full of how-to videos with research tips you haven’t tried yet or a record collection you haven’t heard of.

Do not let that brick wall stop you! Take a break, go a different route and get a fresh outlook for when you return.

If you need someone to take a look at a brick wall you have, give me a shout. I am happy to dig around and give you a fresh angle to search.

Timothy Tynes Frees 81 Slaves

On this date in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. However, before that, the Manumission Act was enacted in Virginia in 1782 allowing slaveholders to set slaves free in their wills.

My 1st cousin, 8x removed did just that.

Timothy Tynes was one of the richest men in the county of Isle of Wight, Virginia. His father, Robert Tynes, had accumulated a fortune in lands and business transactions. He built a plantation home in 1750 that still stands today. When Robert died in 1794, he left “all my whole Estate both real and Personal” to Timothy, his sole surviving son.

Timothy never married; he lived with some of his many slaves in the house that his father had built, just outside the town of Smithfield, from where he managed his many inherited plantations. His parents and his brothers and sisters pre-deceased him. When he died, his nieces and nephews expected Robert’s great wealth to be distributed among them.

Timothy, however, had other ideas. Upon his death in 1802, his will freed every one of his 81 slaves by name and gave most of the land to them. A niece, Sarah Tynes Purdie, received one plantation, and a cousin’s son was left some land; the rest of Robert’s descendants got nothing at all.

Photo taken by Hope Stanley (whose husband Charles is a descendant of Robert and Mary Tynes) in February 2000, at a time when the home was for sale and visitors allowed.

Timothy Tynes’s will gives special treatment to a slave named Beck (Rebecca) and her children, suggesting that these may have been Timothy’s own offspring. Beck’s son John inherits an entire river plantation. Timothy also singles out slaves named Sukey, Prince, Tim, Sam, Dick Unge, and Little Charles, for bequests of land or money. The rest of the freed slaves are to share a large tract of land of which Dick Unge has been given 100 acres.

These families flourished, building homesteads, farming, and working the water in the community. Today, there are many descendants of the Tynes families in Isle of Wight County.

You can view pictures of the Tynes Plantation at https://tinyurl.com/TynesPlantation.

A lot of my information comes from

Copyright © 1998-2007 T. Mark James. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION NOTICE
Permission is granted to make and distribute
copies of this work, provided that:
(1) such copying and distribution are performed completely
free of charge or other consideration, and that
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(3) this Permission Notice appears on all copies.

Also see, https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/046-0002/

and

https://www.historicisleofwight.com/the-african-american-experience-in-isle-of-wight-county.html

“Hidden In A Letter” Mystery Solved

Last weekend, I wrote the blog, Hidden In A Letter, in which I was trying to connect the Ohio Stephanz’s to the Kansas Stephanz’s. Little did I know the mystery man was right in front of me the whole time.

I was confusing my generations a bit, but it was the same family nonetheless. I was also so focused on the fact that MY Stephanz was in Kansas that I was not seeing the facts staring me right in the face! It took two other people seeing my conundrum to help me put the puzzle pieces in the right place.

Back one generation of the Kansas family is my third great-grandfather, Matijas Štefanc married to Marija Fugina. I did not have much information on him except that he was born on 17 Sep 1845 in Stari Trg ob Kolpi, Slovenia, and that his son was also Matijas Štefanc who immigrated to Kansas. It turns out that my third great-grandfather was living a double life. Newspaper articles helped me figure out the secrets.

Matijas Štefanc married Marija Fugina in June 1866 at the Parish Church of St. Jozef in Stari Trg ob Kolpi, Slovenia. In 1867, their son Matijas was born at #10 in Dolenji Radenci, Slovenia. According to a newspaper article, the two separated around 1869 and Marija immigrated to Kansas to be with family.

Another article states that Matijas left his wife and son in Slovenia around 1865 (it was 1869) and came to America. In 1872, he met and married Clara Latour in Toledo, Ohio. They had three children together. They also had an adopted son who went back to his birth name sometime after 1911.

In 1892, the son, Matijas, travels from Slovenia and visits his father. This is when it became apparent that ‘ole Matijas had a second family and was still married! He makes it legal and divorces his first wife (I have not found a record of the divorce) and remarries Clara in October of 1892. Eight years later, Clara died. A month after her death, he remarried Marija on 15 October 1900 who immigrated here on 26 June 1900. She died in 1904 of tuberculosis.

Yes, he married both wives twice!

Now I have two more 2nd great-grand aunts and a 2nd great-grand uncle giving me numerous cousins! My 1st cousin 1x removed (my mom’s first cousin who is four years younger than me) will be meeting one of those descendants soon! They both have the same 2nd great-grandfather in Matijas (1845) but two different 2nd great-grandmothers.

In the letter, my great-grandfather, Matijas (1894), mentions he’s staying with Alice. I believe this Alice is his first cousin, Matija’s and Clara’s daughter’s daughter.

Look at all these cousins! And I haven’t even traced the bottom two lines!

And, I owe it all to a letter my great-grandfather wrote to his sister in 1916.

As always, there is more to the story, so I’ll keep digging.

Do you have ancestors you want to find out more about? Contact me. I’ll be running a holiday special soon. I also have gift certificates to purchase for that hard-to-buy person on your Christmas list.

Hidden In A Letter

Five years ago, I blogged about my great-grandfather, Mathias Paul Stephanz, Jr. (Stephanz Family). In it, I posted a letter he wrote to his sister, Mary.

~~~

The postmark and what he wrote on his letter says “Detroit, Mich”.  I can only assume he was visiting.  In his letter, he refers to his adventures in “Toledo”.  He starts it with what must be her nickname, (written as he wrote with punctuation and spelling.)

“Dear Squib,

I got your letter all ok.  I spent the 4th in Toledo and went to Toledo Beach sure had a good time.  I am going to tell you something that I don’t want the old folks to know.  I think I’ll marry in Toledo.  I’ve got the girl at last I believe and I found her myself too.  Her name is Bessie Jacobs.  Tell you how I met her Elizabeth’s old friend Frances (can’t read last name) has been trying to land me “ha ha” the old fossil she got me to come over and meet her cousin from Detroit and this little girl happened to be there too and she didn’t introduce us but I made up my mind that I didn’t need any and the funny part of it Bessie told me later that she had her mind made up to know me too but Frances kept on her tail so much that I couldn’t talk to her alone until the next day.  She is a telephone operator and I’ve got the job taking her home when I am there now there’s another fellow but his name will be mud before I’m done.  Sis, you can talk about fast work, but listen to this I met about 2 o’clock Monday and Wed night about 12 I proposed (she would not give me a final answer yet) She didn’t know me well enough yet but I think my chances are good.  I wish you or Leah could come here on a visit and meet her  I wonder if she is a big as Joe’s girl she weighs 103 pounds and reaches about to my arm pit and she wears glasses but she can look nicer in them than any girl I ever saw she 19 years old and she can cook and do housework too she’s not a fancy cook but she can put up a meal so I should worry. I’ll think I’ll move to Toledo and go living Alice’s husband is trying to land me a job there and I can be making 100 (word looks like “bones”) in a short time and I know I’ll like it better he’s got 2 uncles that are engineers too so it will all be in the family and I can save more money there too.  What’s the matter with the King (Joe’s nickname maybe?)  I thought he was going to be a candy maker he better try something where he can learn to be something so he won’t be a common laborer when he is my age  I wish you all would move to Toledo you could all get jobs here easy enough and we could all have a dandy time better than in KC I believe.  Well sis I guess I told you all I could so I will close now hoping to hear from you soon and tell all my friends hello for me Leah and Joe too (Leah must have been Joe’s sister, Lizzie- maybe a nickname) Tell that King to get a job dam quick and tell the Belgian hello too I almost forgot her.  

                                                                           With Love,  Mat

P. S. I repeat I would like picture of the bunch as soon as possible. ” 

~~~~~~~~~

A few days ago, my 1st cousin, 1x removed (my mom’s 1st cousin) instant messaged me asking. “The Ohio connection is still a mystery, right?” She found a person on Facebook that lives about 20 minutes from her who has a maiden name of Stephanz and has connections to Toldeo, Ohio. I had to refer back to this letter to re-familiarize myself with the details.

So, with her name and the names of her uncles and her half-siblings, I decided to create an Ohio Stephanz family tree to see what I could find. Sure enough, I was able to build her tree. I was able to trace it back to another Mathias Stephanz, born in Austria. The kicker is that he was born the same month and year as my great-grandfather and he married a Clara. However, this Clara’s last name was Latour. About a month later, he married Marie (maiden name unknown) in Wyandotte, Kansas! This has to be our Kansas connection! But, I need proof.

And why did he marry again only a month after Clara died? Well, see this article for the reason.

There were other connections. In the letter, he mentions Alice and that her husband’s uncles are engineers, “keeping it all in the family.” The Toledo Mathias’ sons work with the railroad. And, his daughter Francis had a daughter named Alice. She is only a couple of years younger than the Kansas Mathias. Could this be the Alice he was staying with when he wrote the letter?

We now know that Mathias and Marie had a son before he came to the states, according to the news article. What was his name? We know Marie came to Kansas after they separated, did she bring her son?

How is the Ohio Mathias Stephanz connected to the Kansas Mathias Stephanz?

That, my friends, is the million-dollar question. I am hoping by blogging this story, someone connected will contact me. I also hope my cousin’s meeting with the Ohio Stephanz baker will shed some light.

Stay tuned.

Sometimes, It’s the Answers You Don’t Find

Photo by Matt Walsh on Unsplash

Sometimes it is the answers you do not find. A couple of months ago, I received an email from a man in the UK looking for an old friend who he heard had passed away here in America. At first, I didn’t answer thinking it was one of those scams, “You’ve inherited $5000 lbs from Uncle Larry.” In addition, I research family history, not long lost friends. However, he wrote again and his story piqued my interest.

His friend was a psychiatric nurse in the UK and used to travel to America through his work. This friend also changed his surname, maybe by deed poll, from his birth surname to his adopted surname. Tragically he died while in America, his friend heard, by being hit by a train or hit by train shrapnel.

“TH” (alias for the person who contacted me) thought the incident was bizarre and had contacted his friend’s brother, but the brother wouldn’t discuss anything with him, further adding to the mystery. The brother traveled from England to America to take care of the details when he died, but “TH” doesn’t believe the body was brought back to the UK. With only an approximate birth year to go on, I looked through all my resources, newspapers.com, etc., and found no mention of this friend or incident. Without knowing where his friend died, it was fruitless. “TH” continued his research from his end and wrote me again a few weeks later.

“TH” had found out that his friend had died in New Jersey. Thanks to “Reclaim the Records“, he was able to find the death index. That in turn gave him the exact birth and death of his friend. With that information, I found his friend’s birth parents and confirmed that the record pertained to the right person. “TH” was close to the information he provided but forgot that our date formats are different than theirs.

I still could not find a newspaper article on the incident. Curious about the name change, I wrote the National Archives of the United Kingdom to search their deed polls. A “Remote Enquiries Duty Officer” emailed me right back and explained that he could not find a deed poll entry for a name change for “TH’s” friend. The gentleman also explained that “Changes of name by deed poll are only recorded officially if a fee is paid to have the deed enrolled in court – not many people do this and so there is often no official record other than the original deed poll issued to the person themselves.”

With further research, I found he was issued his social security number in Arkansas in 1988, but could find no further records. Next, I wrote the New Jersey State Library and the researcher was very kind. She had access to the Morristown Daily Record from 1995. She tried several different searches to see if she could find an obituary or article about either the train accident or an obituary for him but did not come across anything. Doing a general search for “train accident”, “hit by a train”, or “train” for June 6, 1995, and broadly for June 1995 did not have any results. She also did a general search in NJ Newspapers via NewsBank as well and did not find anything either.

I then heard back from the New Jersey History and Genealogy Center. They too searched different newspapers from 1995 and could find nothing on the friend or any mention of a train accident or similar. Could it be that this isn’t how he died? Unfortunately, because “TH” is not a relative, he cannot obtain a copy of the death certificate.

I built a family tree in my Ancestry account and found their biological parents, but no hits so far.

Now I have two questions, 1) Did he really die by train? 2) Why won’t his brother share the specifics with “TH”?

The hunt continues…

This was out of my realm, but very interesting for me as I love mysteries and researching. Investigative Genetic Genealogy is the popular way to solve crimes now due to DNA and it is very intriguing. However, not only can it be used to solve crimes but, I believe it can solve family history mysteries and help adopted parents or children, etc.

But for able to get into this part of genealogy, I need more practice in the genetic part and Reverse Genealogy. I hope to broaden my research skills and do just that!

Wish me luck!

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