Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bessie Burden of Livermore, Kentucky

A word before I introduce my next subject..

Beginners in Genealogy quickly discover common ancestors for many people in the small communities of Western Kentucky. Families in this part of the country are intertwined, intermarried and jokingly will say, (but sometimes true) inbreed, in many ways and through many generations our roots run very deep indeed. While researching connected families to my own tree and families connected through marriage, its not uncommon to find that our small communities are the result of a small group of families that first came to this area for many reasons such as to settle on Revolutionary Land Grants and the promise of fertile land and land full of wild game to sustain a family. These early pioneers came by oxen carts and wagons with supplies, families and livestock through the Cumberland Gap. The rivers that surround the area provided food resources and alternative transportation for migration into the region using Flatboats from The Falls at Louisville. Early settlers came from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina migrating into Tennessee and Kentucky.  With that said, I am discovering the life of a woman who is a part of a family that is one of those "inter-connected" to my family.

I dedicate this Blog post to my niece Madison Case and my precious little baby angel nephew Lucas, who never lost his wings or suffered the burdens of this world. This is for you both...


Bessie F. "Mammie" Burden - Atherton - Rowen

I met Bessie's Great Grandson when he was 17 years old the winter of 1994. I had moved to Livermore after I divorced and was living with my sister and her family until I could get settled. 
One winter day while listen to local chatter on the home base CB radio of my brother-in-laws I heard this young man who sounded very near and very loud. I asked him who he was and in this big voice he said, "Well they call me Big D!" he quickly figured out where I was and told me we were neighbors and I lived next door to his Dad. At any rate to make a long story short, I made friends with this young man. He married my little sister and the rest is history. I could not ask for a better brother and he is loved dearly by the whole family. So, while preparing for this blog I wondered what interesting ancestor should we expose this time? I have been working on Dwayne;s (Big D) family tree for a number of years and I remembered Bessie. Aha! What a wonderful and colorful life the records tell me about Bessie. I contacted Dwayne's Mother and asked her if she would mind if I wrote about Bessie...
Bessie's Grand Daughter, Marilyn Smith Huckleberry gave me her blessings by telling me some quick memories of her Grandmother whom she called, "Mammie" 

"I called her Mammie, she was my second Mother. She had a hard life. I remember her freezing in the mornings and there was ice on the Kitchen walls where it was so cold. She would build fires in her coal stoves, she had one in every room."

Memories that first came to her mind of her Mammie do indeed describe a hard life and she understood Mammie had a hard life not just at the end but through-out her entire life. One thing about Mammie that I have learned by listening to her family talk about her and through pictures is that she knew how to make the best out of what little she had and enjoyed life.

Map of McLean County, Kentucky
Bessie Burden was born on the 30th of September 1908 in Livermore, Kentucky to Richard or Henry Ellis Burden and Ora Ann Taylor. 

To understand Bessie I studied the census records of her parents. Ora Taylor Burden and Ellis Burden worked very hard in Livermore all of their lives to care for their family.

Ora Taylor Burden, Ellis Burden and Grandson Melvin Howard
 Picture from the Linda Anderson Genealogy collection, Granddaughter of Melvin Howard.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mattie Moad

Chapter 2 - First comes Marriage

Jumping to 1887 Grandmother Mattie is now a 17 year old young lady. On April the 6th Mattie marries Nicholas H. Voyles born in Posey County, Indiana in 1866, who is 21 year old painter and is the son of a widow Jennie Green Voyles of Georgia (1826-1911) and his deceased Father was John Henry Voyles of Pickens, South Carolina (1821-1877).

Courting in the 1880's

Unfortunately, the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by fire and so we have a 20 year gap in information. What we do know is that Mattie and Nicholas had a son William George Voyles February 24, 1888. We also know according to court, marriage, death and burial records that Nicholas Voyles and Mattie Blackburn divorced in 1890. On December 11, 1890 Nicholas married Bertha Brigman then died at 27 years old, probably of consumption aka tuberculosis October 17, 1893 in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. 

Mattie is now a 21 year old divorcee with one son in a south western Indiana small town. On January 10, 1891, Grandma Mattie seals our fate by marrying our Grandfather Merritt Harrison Utley in Posey County, Indiana. Harrison was the son of a relocated farming family originally from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky both parents families were from the Paradise and Lewisport area after their families traveled west from the colonies after the Revolutionary War. James Perry Utley (1831-1899) and Susan Cobb McLain (1831-1913). Harrison, a widower was born in 1854 and was 37 years old. Mattie was his second wife after his first wife Mary Byrd died in childbirth in 1884. Harrison had a daughter named Grace who was born in 1882.
Now we have a blended family until Harrison and Mattie have two children William Perry Utley in 1892 and Ada Mae in 1895. Marriage was bliss perhaps until sometime after 1900 for the Utley family. We find Harrison and Mattie divorced due to record showing Mattie finds a new Beau...

Third times a charm?

On May 7, 1906 I found our subject in love again at 36 years old, perhaps third time is a charm for her...
Mattie marries Allison Voyles Sr. Allison's relation to Mattie's first husband Nicholas is unknown but at this time would not have made much fuss because remember Nicholas passed away in 1893. 
Allison was 28 years old, Mattie was 36, twice divorced and had 3 children. What makes this coupling interesting was they married May 7th 1906 and Mattie gave birth to a son, Allison Voyles Jr. October 29th 1906....Scandalous!
Sadly, Allison Sr. died December 31, 1908 at 30 years old of tuberculosis.

In 1909 our Mattie Blackburn Voyles Utley Voyles is now a twice divorced and once widowed 38 year old woman with 4 children. By this time the older children are grown and working to help support their family. 

1908 Evansville, Indiana Young boy basket weaving.

Mattie Moad/Mode is made

In the 1910 Federal Census for Pigeon Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana we find a family at #12 Mayhugh Street in Evansville. Mr. Hardin Mode, 23 years old, his wife Mattie 39 years old, William Utley 17, Ada Utley 16 years old and Allison Voyles 3 years old. Hardin's occupation is listed as odd jobs, William works as a dobber at a mattress factory and Ada works as a spool-er at a wool mill.

In 1915 on November 2nd, little Allison Voyles Jr. dies from Typhoid Fever.
Mattie's Pa Jack Blackburn passed away earlier in the year August 28th.
Moving forward Mattie loses her Ma, Charlotty Duckworth Blackburn and her eldest son William George Voyles in February of 1922. 

Fast forward to 1926. November 20th. Mattie is 56 years old. We now find a marriage record for Mattie and John Henry Schisler. Mr. Schisler passed away in 1941, which is strange because we find Mattie Schissler (Spelling difference on record), claiming to be a widow, claiming to be 50 years old and living with her 36 year old married daughter Ada Young and Granddaughter Martha Young.
Note* Ada may have been married but was living separate from her husband and other child.

So, finally Mattie settles into her retired life without a husband even though records state she is a widow and so she claims the rest of her life. Yes, she was widowed at one point by poor Allison Voyles Sr. was she ever really divorced from any of her husbands? Was she even really married to Hardin Moad? Did she even know? I would not tell this story had the Voyles family researchers insisted on me putting Mattie's business out there. She was infamous for her time. Was she a lush making her difficult to live with? Probably. A bad house keeper? The living now will never know. Was she beautiful? Probably. We don't have any pictures of Mattie. We know she did not always tell the truth.

Mattie Moad was our Grandmother, she was married as she claimed by record 5 times. Regardless, I'm sure her life was not an easy one. A lesson we could learn from her is the grass isn't always greener on the other side and there is no prince in shining armor that will rescue us from our common lives.

Mattie Moad died in the wee hours of the morning July 25, 1932 in her sleep in Evansville at the home of her daughter Ada Young on West Alabama Street. For a genealogist her grave marker is just short of saying Jane Doe. Nothing indicates who she really was...Just a little girl from a small town in South Western Indiana looking for a better life. 
1870 Child with a book

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mattie Moad - Chapter 1

Mattie Moad

Chapter 1

Martha “Mattie” Blackburn is born to Black Township, Posey County, Indiana farmer William Jackson Blackburn (1843-1915) and his wife Charlotte Duckworth Blackburn (1846-1922) on the 15th of September 1870. 

Charlotte affectionately called Charlotty, in official birth returns for her children, was the daughter of Green Duckworth also of Posey County. She had been born, raised and raised her (7) seven children during the civil war and post-civil war era. From 1865-1881 Charlotty was birthing babies! William Jackson Blackburn had deep roots in Posey County as well. The census records confirm close, large family bonds within the community. Known as Jack Blackburn he served in the Union, 25th Indiana Infantry, Company A, as a Corporal and at the end of the War had promoted to Sergeant. 

The area of Posey County at that time was rural and primitive even for those days of the 1840’s through 1870’s. Black Township encompasses Mt. Vernon reaching to the river borders and Solitude at its northern border.

Families were large by nature and out of necessity to manage labor for their farms. The farms were not generally large scale money making operations such as today. The farms were raised just to feed the family. The rural farming poor. They were the civil war veterans who were the descendants of Revolutionary War Veterans who moved west to claim their land grants in Kentucky and Indiana. Many were immigrants escaping the escalating conflicts such as the Scotch-Irish and severe poverty of Great Britain (Ireland and England) and Germany as seen in this family tree.
Southern Indiana was growing rapidly in post-civil war and many newly freed slaves migrated to the Evansville area just in time for the manufacturing boom.

Black Township School, Posey County, Indiana - Sketch by Anne Doane

As a young farm girl from Southern Indiana, Mattie probably did have a good grasp on socially acceptable behavior, Jack was a preacher and Mattie had the benefit of learning Christianity to guide her through her daily life. Church was probably a luxury only to be enjoyed by those who could travel to services and did not have daily choirs to tend to just to keep the family surviving on a small family farm. 
Daily life consisted of choirs, taking care of younger siblings, if you were able, you could go to church, if you were within walking distance, you might be lucky enough to have a school house to learn how to read and write. 
Your parents decided when you were ready to marry and keep house on your own. Mattie was luckier than most girls she stayed at home until she turned 17 years old…

Chapter 2 posting soon!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Life & Times of Mattie Moad (1870-1932)

The Life & Times of Mattie Moad…(1870 – 1932)

Who was this woman who dared to marry 5 husbands, a widow once, 3 divorces and died living apart from her last husband? 

This was the Edwardian period…The time of the Great Depression in the bustling, factory driven, river town Evansville, Indiana.

Mattie has left her ancestors trying to put the pieces of her shattered life together to discover just who she was.
 Researching for years and sifting through records and interviewing family members she has remained forever elusive. 

There are some clues to her life and the vital records and historical social records do tell a story. So, let me enlighten my kinsmen on just what I have discovered about the infamous Grandma Mattie Moad.

Coming soon April 2017 currently being written…