Sunday, November 30, 2014

52 Ancestors #48: He Died a Long Way from Home

Ancestor Name: Joseph BARR (1897-1917)

Joseph Barr is an ancestor in a round about way, but I found his story so interesting and poignant I wanted to share it.

He was born on 4 January 1897 at the family home, which were workers' cottages at Blantyre Works in Blantyre Parish. His parents were Joseph and Isabella (Muir) Barr.[1] and Joseph worked as a laborer at the foundry. Joseph was the couple's middle child. He had an older brother named Hugh and his sister, Mary, was born in 1898. In 1901 the family lived at 74 McAlpine's Buildings and his father cut steel castings all day long in the hot factory.

Joseph's mother, Isabella, died in late 1905, leaving her husband with three children between the ages of 11 and 7. In 1910 Joseph's father married Christina Muir[1], who was his late wife's older sister. She had never been married, but had three children between the ages of 23 and 14. Those children were first cousins and step-siblings to Joseph and Isabella (Muir) Barr's children. Joseph and Christina also had a child three years before they married.

Glasgow Road in 1903; photograph courtesy of The Blantyre Project

In 1911 the blended family lived at 293 Glasgow Road and Joseph was still working at the steel works. Later that month, Christina's daughter, who was named Isabella Laird Muir, married Charles Findlay in the Barr home. Charles Findlay was the great grandson of my great great great grandparents, Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir.

Joseph Barr was likely conscripted into the 1/8 Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), which was part of the 156th Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division, some time in 1916 as he did not qualify for a Star medal at the end of the war. The division had been fighting the previous year in Gallipoli and had been evacuated to Egypt in January 1916. I believe Joseph Barr joined his battalion there. In Egypt and Palestine, the division fought in the battle of Romani and the three battles for Gaza before taking the city of Jerusalem.

On 24 October 1917 Private Joseph Barr used a British Army form to write a will. He was one of over 26,000 Scottish soldiers to do so. In it he left everything to his sister, Mary Barr, who lived at Burnside Cottage with her father and step-mother. Burnside Cottage in Springwell was also the home home of Joseph's step-sister and first cousin and her husband, Charles and Isabella Laird (Muir) Findlay.

Will of Private Joseph Barr, written in his own hand; image courtesy of

On 11 December 1917 Joseph Barr was either killed in action or died from wounds sustained in battle. (The documents are contradictory on this point.) He death occurred five days before the Armistice of Erzincan, which officially brought an end to the hostilities in the Middle Eastern theater.

My supposition is that Joseph died from wounds received in the Third Battle of Gaza, which was fought in October and November, culminating in the capture of Beersheba. If he was killed in action, it would have been been two days after the Ottoman Army surrendered Jerusalem. British General Allenby walked into the walled city on 11 December and reviewed the troops with much ceremony later in the day.

Joseph Barr was buried in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya, Egypt. His name is also engraved on the Blantyre War Memorial.

Blantyre War Memorial, High Blantyre; photograph courtesy of Scottish Mining Website

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

[1] I can find no connection between Isabella and Christina Muir to "my" Muir line.

Joseph Barr was born on 4 January 1897 in Blantyre to Joseph and Isabella (Muir) Barr. In 1915 he enlisted in the 1/8 Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and saw action in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Palestine. He was killed in action or died of wounds received in battle on 11 December 1917 in Palestine. He is buried in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt.

Other posts about ancestors who served in World War I.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving at the Duke Neurosciences ICU ward with Dad, I am reminded of happier times on this day. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Cherish your family, and don't forget to write those family stories down. Your children will thank you one day.

There is always a car that must be worked on. My nephew, brother, father, and
 husband. Thanksgiving 2001. 

Aunt Millie four months after suffering from a
cerebral hemorrhage. Thanksgiving, 2001. We lost her
in 2009.

Mom in "command central" -- the kitchen. Thanksgiving,
2002. We lost Mom this past September.

Lange siblings. Sitting, Ruth (Lange) Miller Meek;
standing Dorothy (Lange) Jennings and Herbert Paul Lange.
Thanksgiving, 2002. Sadly, none of them are with us and there
is a hole in our hearts.

We fried a turkey for the first time in 2004. The men were responsible!
Dad is explaining something important to my brother and husband.

My brother and his wife came up from Alabama. Dad and brother are engineers.
Can you tell by the hand motions? Thanksgiving, 2004.

We had a little snow in 2005 the night before Thanksgiving and my nephew
made a snowman.

We fried the turkey again in 2005; but I was too afraid to ask what the men
were up to that year. From left to right: my middle brother, Dad, my
husband, and oldest nephew.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Worldwide Genealogy: Planning a Genealogy Vacation

Today is the 25th so it's my day to contribute a post to Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration. I talk about the importance of planning your genealogy trip so that you get the most out of it. We visited Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the birth place of my husband's father, last month. It was a much more fruitful trip than the one we made in 2009 when I did no planning.

Hazleton Historical Society and Museum

To find out why planning is so important and what we learned, click on over to my post at Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration to read my thoughts on this website.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

52 Ancestors #47: Killed in Action During the Spring Offensive

Ancestor Name: William LIVELY (1899-1918)

William Lively was the fourth child of James and Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) Lively. He was born on 24 March 1899 at 30 Park Street, Blantyre. When the 1901 census was enumerated, he and his brother, James, were living with their parents at 16 Park Street. After his father was killed in 1906, he, his mother, and brother lived with William's aunt, Martha (Brodie) Moore. After his mother died in 1910, he and his brother went to live with his maternal grandfather and step-grandmother, William and Mary (Campbell) Brodie.

By 1916 he was living in Darwen, Lancashire, England. We do not know why he moved there.

William was conscripted into the British Army and sent to the Infantry Base Depot camps on the French coast on 31 March 1918, likely the 40th Infantry Base Depot at the great complex of camps at Etaples as William's draft was penciled in to go to the 18th (Service) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. That unit was decimated on 9 April 1918 during the early days of the German spring offensive. Instead, William's draft was transferred into the 1/4 Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on 19 April 1918 as replacements. Little more than a month later, he was dead at the age of 19.

Craonne after the fighting; image courtesy of 1/4 Battalion, Alexandra,
Princess of Wales, Own Yorkshire Regiment website

The Third Battle Aisne began with a German attack on Allied positions at Chemin des Dames ridge. It was a surprise attack that started with an artillery bombardment, which inflicted heavy losses. The Germans followed with a poison gas drop. Caught completely off-guard and with their lines spread thin, the British did not stop the advance until the Germans were well across the Aisne river. They had smashed through eight Allied divisions and captured 50,000 soldiers.

William Lively's regiment had been moved into the battle line during the night of 26 May from reserve area at Beaurieux. They faced the German Seventh Army just north of Craonne. British officers protested this move, but were assured by the French, it was a quiet area.

From a report by the British Commander, Sir Douglas Haig:

"These divisions had been heavily engaged during the past month, three having been twice and one three times withdrawn from the battle line and again engaged after being reformed. They, therefore, had few experienced officers and men when they arrived in Champagne, and were again filled up by immature and half-trained lads fresh from home whose training had to be completed. In these circumstances the division could not be considered fit for heavy fighting for some time to come. Notwithstanding this they were ordered into the front line almost at once by the French Commander, who countered British objections by declaring that as the front was a quiet one, and as no attack was to be expected, it would be possible to continue the training of the troops, while in the line and that the French Divisions, urgently required elsewhere could thus be relieved."

Beginning at 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the regiment was heavily shelled and outflanked on both sides and by the end of the day's fighting had been decimated. William Lively was one of many soldiers killed in action that day. His body was never recovered but his name is inscribed on the War Memorial at Soissons in the Picard region of France. Posthumously, William was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

William Lively's named as engraved on the War Memorial in Soissons;
photograph courtesy of Find A Grave member Misty & Company

Unfortunately, most of William Lively's war records were lost in September 1940 when a German Luftwaffe bombing raid struck the War Office Repository in London. However, unit war diaries still exist. The 50th Division's war diary, which described the fighting the day William died is poignant:

"No less than 227 officers and 4,879 other ranks were killed, wounded or captured during the battle. Practically all those casualties occurring on the 27th, for after that date, the 50th Division became intermingled with other divisions, which were in a like condition; only a mere handful of the infantry remained."

His hometown of Blantyre, Scotland, has a war memorial with its World War I dead inscribed on it, but William's name is not among them.

*NOTE: The 150th Brigade of the 50th Division was comprised of three battalions: 1/4 Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment, 1/4 Battalion of Yorkshire Regiment, and the 1/5 Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. All of the battalions were positioned near Craonne above the Aisne river on 27 May 1918 and suffered the same fate. So the battle photo of Craonne after the fighting is relevant to this post even though William Lively did not serve in that battalion.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

William Lively was born on 24 Mar 1899 at 20 Park Street, which was in Dixon's Rows, miners housing in Blantyre, to James and Elizabeth Muir (Brodie) Lively. He was their youngest child. In 1901 his older sister, Henrietta Cassels Lively, was a patient at the Middle Ward Hospital in Dalziel Parish. When William was seven years old his father was killed when he was knocked down and run over by two horses attached to a lorry. The family was promptly evicted from from Dixon's Row's. Four years later, William's mother died of tuberculosis. She was listed as a pauper when she died. William and his brother, James, went to live with their maternal grandfather and step-grandmother at 3 Dixon Street, which was in Dixon's Rows. They were living there when the 1911 census was enumerated on 2 April. He was conscripted, likely in 1916, in the East Yorkshire Regiment at Blackburn, Lancashire, England. It is a mystery how he came to be there. He was listed as living in Darwen, England, but born in Blantyre. He served with the 1/4 Battalion of the regiment, which was assigned to the 150th Brigade, 50th Division. They landed in France in April 1915 and participated in most of the major battles on the Western Front. He was killed in action on 27 May 1918 during the Third Battle of Aisne. His body was never recovered. His name is engraved on the Soissons Memorial in Soisson, Picard, France. His life and that of his family was so filled with tragedy, I was saddened to discover that his name is not listed on the Blantyre War Memorial. At least he was remembered somewhere. I will be adding details about his life to the Lives of the First World One website.

Family History Writing Challenge Week #2 Recap: Places
Dixon's Rows: "A Miserable Type of House"

To read other posts about World War I, click here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What Happened to This Marriage?

Harry Lee Jennings was my father's uncle, a son of Charles Edward and Nancy "Nannie" Jane (Johnson) Jennings.  He was born on 29 June 1886 in Amherst County, Virginia. His mother died in 1892 when little Harry was 6 years old. After his father remarried in 1895, the family moved to Roanoke.

By 1910 Harry was a boarder in the home of John and Nannie Adams and worked as a shipping clerk at a wholesale shoe store. He was married to Nancy "Nannie" Gay Clayton, had a daughter named Leta Elane, who was likely named after Harry's sister, Leta Vernon Jennings. He worked as a salesman for the Brand Shoe Company.  Harry and Nannie had a second daughter in 1916 named Edna May.

Brand Shoe Company advertising card; source unknown

When Harry registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917 he was described as being of medium height and build with blue eyes and dark hair. The registration form indicated he wasn't bald! He was still working for the Brand Shoe Company and had served for two years as a Private in the State Guard.

In 1919 Harry was a stock clerk for the same shoe company. He continued doing similar work for the next 10 years, however, no place of employment was listed in the 1929 Roanoke city directory. The next year Harry was a department foreman working for People's Ice & Storage Company. According to the 1930 census he was likely worked in the shipping department. And, most importantly, he was still living with his wife and daughters in a home they owned valued at $4,000.

Brand Shoe Company; courtesy of Roanoke: A City of Enterprise,
Energy and Progress
published for the Roanoke Booster Club in 1922

That soon changed. 1933 is the last city directory that included Harry and Nannie as a couple. When the 1940 census was enumerated Harry was living in San Francisco at the Hotel Idalia and worked as a newspaper vendor. He indicated he had lived in Salinas, California, in 1935. When he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, he lived on 280 O'Farrell Street in San Francisco and worked for the Call-Bulletin on Howard Street. He indicated he was married to Nannie and she lived in Roanoke, Virginia.

The 200 block of O'Farrell Street location of the Hotel Idalia and the Call-
Bulletin; courtesy of Google Maps

Harry Lee Jennings died on 22 October 1945 and was buried at Olivet Memorial Park in Colma, California. He died at San Francisco Hospital and had been at the hospital six days suffering from bronchogenic carcinoma, or lung cancer.

So were Harry and Nannie simply trendsetters: a happily married East Coast-West Coast couple? Or was something else going on?

I think something else.

In the 1936 Roanoke city directory, Nannie was listed as Jennings, Nannie G (wid Harry L). She continued to list herself as a widow in every city directory thereafter. When the 1940 census was enumerated, however, she said she was married. She rented her home for $33 a month and lived with her youngest daughter, Edna, who worked as a cashier at theater at a salary of $720.

I'll admit I don't have the best mathematical mind, but living in a rented home that rented for less than $400 a year seems like a come down from a house valued at $4,000. Did the family suffer a financial reversal?

Nannie died on 15 Nov 1958 and was buried in Evergreen Burial Park.

What do you think happened?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Roanoke Cemeteries

I recently found a book about Roanoke, Virginia, Roanoke: A City of Enterprise, Energy and Progress, on the Library of Congress' digital holdings which included aerial photographs taken of Evergreen Burial Park and Fair View Cemetery where many of my Jennings ancestors were interred.

Evergreen Burial Park

Fair View Cemetery

The idea for this post came from

Monday, November 17, 2014

Clem Bray's Orchestra

Clement Elliott Bray, Jr. was born on 27 Jul 1896 in Brooklyn, New York, to Clement Elliott and Benna Bray. His father was a newspaperman and his mother taught piano.

Based on a 25 February 1914 article in the Cumberland Evening Times, Clement was a classically trained musician, who performed along with his mother at the Second Annual Concert of the G Clef Club:

"The club was assisted by Miss Ernestine Wittig, Mrs. A. K. Rarig, Miss Beatrice Holmes, Mr. Clement E. Bray, Jr., Mrs. Clement E. Bray and a string quintette, composed of Dr. S. Lua Sykes, Mr. Clarence Spitnas, Mr. Russell Paupe, Mr. Lloyd Rawlings and Mr. Robert Colony. The work of this quintette was most excellent and was a most enjoyable part of the program." During Part I of the concert, Clement played two violin solos -- "Inconstancy" written by Chadwick and "The Elephant and Chimpanzee," an arrangement by Lyons.

"Inconstancy" was written in 1910 by George Whitefield Chadwick. It is in the first set of Four Choruses. In that chorus Chadwick set the text "Sigh no More Ladies" from Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing to music he composed.

Fascinating, isn't it? But I digress...

Clement married Della Virginia Jennings, my third cousin once removed on 21 May 1918 in Lynchburgh, Virginia. Her father had killed her mother and them himself in Toledo, Ohio, five years before. At the time of their marriage, Clement was an orchestra leader and his band played at several venues throughout the mid-Atlantic states. By 1920 Clem and Della were living in Easton, Maryland, on 19 Glenmore Avenue, not far from his parents. His occupation was listed as bookkeeper, which surprised me greatly. I have often wondered if Della wanted a less nomadic life, or if work had merely dried up for the time being.

On 23 March 1923, Clem was in Cumberland, Maryland, presenting Cliff Hosken's Orchestra at the Great Easter Festival and Bazaar at the State Armory.

As published in the Cumberland Evening Times

On 11 July 1924, Clem and his orchestra were in Garrett, Maryland, making their second appearance at the Old Trails Inn. They were fresh off B. F. Keith's vaudeville in New York City.

In 1925 Clem and Della were living at 324 South Water in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

On 22 November 1927 Clem was back in Cumberland, Maryland, directing an orchestra that performed at the Police and Fireman's Annual Dance. He was described as a well known orchestra leader.

In 1927 he and Della were living in Fairmont, West Virginia on 609 Jamison and Clem was the leader of the Fairmont Theatre orchestra.

On 22 December 1928, Clem and the Fairmont Theatre orchestra participated in the historic inaugural broadcast of WMMN radio station. According to the Fairmont Times, "Robin Hood of this city sent a wire from far Hot Springs, Arkansas, announcing unequaled receptivity and asking that Clem Bray and his Fairmont Theatre Orchestra play 'Hail West Virginia'."

But perhaps trouble was brewing already in 1929. The city directory listed Clem Bray as still living in Fairmont, West Virginia, but for the first time Della was not listed. And in 1931 Clem was living in Tampa, Florida, with a new wife named Inez R.

A little digging revealed that Inez R was in fact Ruhamer Inez Bosserman. She was the daughter of Walker Greenleaf and Helen (Burruss) Bosserman and was born in Fairmont, West Virginia. At the time she must have met Clem, she was married to Clarence R Kuner.

Article and photograph of Clem Bray
published in the Harrisburgh Telegraph

In 1934 Clem and Ruhamer were living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he managed Club Lido and led their in-house orchestra. In 1935 they were living in Baltimore and in 1940, they were living in Washington, DC, with a daughter named Jo Clare Bray, who I believe but have not yet proved was actually the daughter of Clarence and Ruhamer Kuner.

A photograph that was published in the Harrisburg Telegraph; Ruhamer
is on the far left

In 1930 Clem and Ruhamer received a copyright for "Living in the World of Tomorrow." He also wrote "Ruhamer," which the Harrisburg Telegraph described as "distinctive."

I lost track of Clem in Ruhamer after 1940. And so I have yet another mystery on my hands. But I wonder if this is my Clem:

As published in the Upper Des Moines Algona

If so, he was performing, along with his Jolly Lumber Jacks at Iowa's Wonder Show Place in Cedar Lake, Iowa, on 25 May 1973!

I would so like to find the sheet music for his songs, but as yet have been unable to find them. Any suggestions?

Finding Della...Again (The Power of Offline Records)
Yet More Woe for Della (Your Family Tree, Autumn 2014)
Wordless Wednesday: I'm Published!
Finding Della (The Power of Social Media)
I'm Published
Murder-Suicide in Toledo

Sunday, November 16, 2014

52 Ancestors #46: Lost an Election to Abraham Lincoln

Ancestor Name: Harry Riggin (1793-1875)

I've written about my four times great grand uncle, Harry Riggin, before. Researching his life helped me break through a long-time brick wall: who was his father.  Today, I'd like to concentrate on one small incident in his life.

Harry Riggin in 1874; image purchased by me from Historic MapWorks. Unfortunately,
this image may not be used by others unless purchased.

In 1838 Harry Riggin lost an election to Abraham Lincoln for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly.  I discovered this fact when I read James T. Hickey's article, Three R's in Lincoln's Education: Rogers, Riggin, and Rankin, which appeared on pages 195-207 of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Volume 52, Number 1, Lincoln Sesquicentennial (Spring 1959).

"The precinct poll books for the elections in August, 1834, 1836 and 1838, when Lincoln was a candidate for the legislature, give some idea how the family voted. In the election of August, 1834, Lincoln received 174 votes in the precinct. Harry Riggin voted for Lincoln...In the election of August 1, 1836, Lincoln received 150 votes in the precinct. In that year, Harry Riggin did not [vote for Lincoln]. In the August 6, 1838, election, Harry Riggin was also a candidate for the legislature. Strangely enough, he did not vote either for himself or for Lincoln, but cast all his seven votes for other candidates in the legislative contest."

What? Harry Riggin had seven votes? What did that mean?

I started researching the Illinois state constitution to better understand the election process. I learned the first constitution in 1818 was compiled mostly from provisions taken from the constitutions of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, and put virtually unlimited power in the hands of the General Assembly. It was not modified until 1848.

So what did the 1818 Illinois constitution say about the election process?


Sec. 1. The legislative authority of this State, shall be vested in a General Assembly which shall consist in a Senate and House of Representatives, both to be elected by the people. 

Sec. 2. The first election for Senators and Representatives, shall commence on the third Thursday of September next, and continue for that and the two succeeding days; and the next election shall be held on the first Monday in August, one thousand eight hundred and twenty; and forever after, elections shall be held once in two years, on the first Monday of August, in each and every county, at such places as may be provided by law.

Article II. Section II. Image of original handwritten Constitution course
of the Illinois Digital Archives

So that explains why the elections referenced in Hickey's article were held in early August. But what about those seven votes?

Sec. 27. In all elections, all white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State for six months next preceding the election, shall enjoy the right of an elector; but no person shall be entitled to vote except in the county or district in which he shall actually reside at the time of the election.

Article II. Section 27. (see above for source information)

I admit I still don't understand the process, but it's clear, Illinois legislative members were not elected by popular vote but rather some sort of an electoral system.

In 1838 when Harry Riggin lost the election to Abraham Lincoln, there were 17 candidates for the Sangamon County seat in the House of Representatives. The top seven were elected. Lincoln received the most votes of any candidate.

This document serves as certification of Lincoln's election in 1838 (see
above for source information)

Harry Riggin was later appointed to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1842 as the representative from Menard County, which was formed from the northwest corner of Sangamon County.

From the 6 May 1842 Sangamo Journal; courtesy of the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Harry Riggin was born on 2 September 1793 in Tennessee, likely Sevier County, to James and Mary (Howard) Riggin. His father was a minister with the Methodist church and rode the preaching circuit for many years before settling down to farming to raise money with which to raise his family. Harry and his brother, James, migrated to Illinois in 1818 and together with another brother, John, founded the town of Troy. Harry married Miriam Lee Rogers on 2 March 1820 in Madison County. He left Madison County with his in-laws and settled in Sangamon County, and lived in a town that became known as Athens. This area of Sangamon later became Menard County. Harry Riggin was a prominent citizen of the county and served as its first representative in the Illinois General Assembly. He and his wife had four children. Harry died 23 March 1875 and was buried at Indian Point Cemetery.

Confusion and the Proof Standard
Wordless Wednesday: The Founding of Troy

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Great Jennens Case

Two wealthy men named Robert Jennens died in London in 1725. They both had sons named William Jennens. One William died in 1803 and the other William in 1798. The latter William died unmarried and intestate.

And left one of the largest fortunes in all of England, which created considerable interest in the United Kingdom and her current and former colonies.

To this day there are Jennings descendants who believe they could claim a portion of that fortune. Others were more skeptical. In fact, one of my grand aunts was contacted by an attorney, who told her she was entitled to millions from a "lost inheritance in England" and wanted her to sign something before her death in 1959. She never would.

Who got the money and what relationship to the decedent did they claim? By 1821 Lady Mary Andover had became the administrator of the estate and received most of the personal property. She claimed to be the grand daughter of William Jennens' aunt Ann, daughter of Humphrey Jennens. Lord Curzon, later made Earl Howe, received the bulk of the real property, including Acton Hall. Earl Howe claimed to be the great great grandson of William Jennens' uncle, Charles, also a son of Humphrey Jennens. That would make Humphrey the grandfather of the William, the richest common in the country.

Acton Hall; drawing from The Great Jennens Case

But were they really? Or were they actually related to the William Jennens, who died in 1803?

The Great Jennens Case: Being an Epitome of the History of the Jennens Family, which was compiled by Messrs. Harrison & Wills on behalf of the Jennens family, certainly didn't think they were the rightful heirs. In their 1879 book, they made a compelling case, citing baptismal records, burial records, marriage records, manuscripts and wills to prove that Lady Andover and Lord Howe should not have received anything from William Jennens estate.

Their position was Lady Andover and Lord Howe were ancestors of the William Jennens, who died 1803. But the William Jennens, who died with all the money in 1798 was the grandson of Robert Jennens, not Humphrey Jennens.

Are you confused yet? I certainly was when I first read this old book until I started building the family tree. (If you are an member, you may find it here.)

Partial Jennens family tree showing the two Roberts
and two Williams. John Jennings (d 1653) was the son
of William Jennens, son of Robert Jennens of Shottle

The genealogy that is not in dispute is the Jennens family is of very ancient origin. Presumed to be of Danish extraction, a captain came to England with Canute, King of Denmark. He was given land as a reward for his services to Canute's father. Little more is known about the family until the reign of Henry the VIII. A Robert Jennens appeared in court and was presumably a favorite of the king. In 1545 Henry VIII promoted him to act as chief deerstalker and ranger and sent him to Shottle in the parish in Duffield in Derbyshire. He married Ellen Beard and had a son named William, who went to Birmingham, and married Joanna Elliott. They had a son named John, who became the great ironmonger of Birmingham. He married twice...and created all the problems.

John Jennens Birmingham Town House, 1653;
drawing from The Great Jennens Case

John's first wife was Mary Jennens, a cousin. They had one son also named John, who I call John Jennens II. John then married Joyce Weaman, whose father William, was a noted solicitor. The compilers of the The Great Jennens Case believe the William Jennens who left the great fortune descends from John and Mary Jennens' son, John II.

John Jennens, the ironmonger of Birmingham's will showed definite partiality to the children of his second wife, Joyce Weamon. His will was prepared by Joyce's father. Perhaps something nefarious was going on or perhaps not. After John Jennens II married Jane Ambrose, he left the country for 28 years. Perhaps his father thought he was dead. We just don't know.

But if you are game, have some spare cash for attorneys fees, and can prove your ancestor is John Jennens II through his son Roger, you may have a case!

John Jennens II and Jane Ambrose had four children:

  • Jane Jennens, died unmarried in 1663
  • William Jennens, line was known in 1879 to be extinct
  • Robert Jennens, born on 9 July 1644 at Mobourne Mill; entered at Middle Temple in 1649; married Jane Truelock at Aldworth in Berkshire in 1669; had issue: one son, Robert and one daughter, Martha, who died in infancy. Son Robert born in 1672; married Anne Guidott in 1700; had issue: one child only, the late William Jennens of Acton Place, Suffolk, who died in 1798 a bachelor and intestate
  • Roger Jennens, his descendants are the alleged true legal claimants
Descendants of Roger Jennens, alleged true claimants to the fortune of
William Jennens; from The Great Jennens Case

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Confederate War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

I am one of many contributors to the Memorial Day Foundation's War Memorial Registry.  I do have one bone to pick with the organization, however. They do not accept memorials commemorating those who died in the armed services of the Confederate States of America. I found that amazing since Decoration Day, the forerunner to Memorial Day, observed Civil War dead from the Union and Confederacy.

So I am posting one of the photographs I took at Arlington National Cemetery of the Confederate Memorial that was not accepted by the foundation.

Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

There's a lot to the memorial. It was sculpted in the Baroque style by Moses Ezekiel in Rome, Italy. The memorial consists of a bronze statue atop a bronze plinth, which stands on a granite base. The base consists of a rectangular lower base and a taller upper base in the shape of a nearly-square Maltese cross, which together are about 3-feet high. The two elements which makes up the base are of polished Woodstock granite from Maryland, while the plinth above the base is made of bronze. At 32 feet in height, the Confederate Memorial is among the tallest of the memorials and monuments at Arlington National Cemetery.

The topmost portion of the memorial consists of a larger-than-life figure of a woman representing the South. The orientation of the figure and its face is toward the south, in part to honor the Confederacy but also so that the sun may shine on the face and figure at all times (which is symbolic of being favored). The figure's head is crowned with an olive wreath, which is both sacred to Minerva and a symbol of peace. The figure's left hand extends a laurel wreath toward the south in acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the South's men in arms and as a symbol of the past. The figure holds a pruning hook in its right hand, which in turn rests on a plow. This represents peace and reconciliation as well as the hope that the labor of the South will lead to new glory.

The figure stands on a round pedestal decorated with palm branches and four cinerary urns. Low relief numbers on the urns refer to the four years of the Civil War. Beneath the round pedestal is a round plinth in the form of a wreath of wheat. Below the plinth is a round base on which is inscribed: "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks." It is a partial quotation from Isaiah 2:4.

Below the base is a frieze of 14 inwardly inclined shields, each of which depicts the coat of arms of one of the 13 Confederate states and Maryland. Below the frieze is a cylindrical mount on which are 32 life-size figures, each provide additional meaning to the memorial.

The figures stand on an irregular octagonal base. The following inscription is located around the base:

To our dead heroes
the United Daughters of the Confederacy 
Victrix causa diis
Placuit sed victa caton

Not for fame or reward
Not for place or rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Sacrificed all
Dared all -- and died

Randolph Harrison McKim

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Blog: On Patton's Flank

My youngest brother, the amateur World War II historian, volunteered to write about our ancestor, Gen. Wade Hampton Haislip, in honor of Veteran's Day this year.

“My flanks are something for the enemy to worry about, not me.  Before he finds out where my flanks are, I’ll be cutting the bastard’s throat.” 
--Lieutenant-General George S. Patton, Jr.

Such bold remarks make for great reading in history books and helped to create the legendary image of Patton that we know and love today.  But, someone on the ground had to be the bearer of the risk that Patton assumed by ignoring his flanks.  Quite often in the summer of 1944 that risk fell to the men of US XV Corps.  Commanded by Major-General Wade H. Haislip—one of Patton’s favorites—XV Corps entered the Normandy campaign in July, just a few weeks after the D-Day landings.  Haislip’s headquarters was subordinate to Patton’s Third US Army.  Combat operations began shortly after the American breakout from St. Lo when the formations of XV Corps passed through the Pontaubault bridgehead and spearheaded the celebrated drive east, which brought Patton’s forces into the rear of the German armies opposing the Normandy beachhead.  Haislip’s troops raced 75 miles to Le Mans in just three days.  No wonder he was a favorite of Patton’s, he followed his boss’s instruction to fill “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”  

At this point the Allied leadership saw a chance to trap a large German force by closing on the town of Falaise from north and south.  XV Corps was directed to wheel north from Le Mans and meet a Canadian army at Falaise.  Haislip led his men northward—without flank protection—to cut the enemy’s throat.  They reached Argentan, 15 miles from Falaise, before being slowed by an onrush of Germans forces desperately fleeing the closing jaws of a pincer.  Here Haislip was ordered to halt by Patton’s superior, Lieutenant-General Omar N. Bradley.  Bradley was more conservative than Patton or Haislip and was not of the mind to risk the loss of Haislip’s corps by venturing deeper into the enemy zone.  Patton itched to move forward again, famously asking “shall we continue and drive the British into the sea for another Dunkirk?”  Bradley would latter describe his logic to stop at Argentan as preferring a “solid shoulder at Argentan to a broken neck at Falaise.”

Normandy campaign map, showing XV Corps' sweep into the German
rear; image courtesy of the United States Military Academy

Haislip and XV Corps found themselves on Patton’s flank again in early September—and again found it to be an unenviable position that attracted a lot of attention from the enemy.  The German high command considered the danger posed by Patton’s army and its drive across Northern France to be the most threatening of all the Allied advances.  As Patton directed XV Corps to close up to the Moselle River in the Charmes-Epinal area, the Germans were gathering a panzer army in the same sector for an attack on Patton’s flank.  The showdown took place at Dompaire in a battle that lasted three days.  It proved an unequal fight, however.  A Free French force attached to Haislip’s corps defended the town of Dompaire and virtually destroyed an entire panzer brigade that had run headlong into a gauntlet of anti-tank guns sited on the hills around the town.

Generals Patton (left) and Haislip (right); photograph courtesy of

Patton has rightly gone down in history as one of the great American generals of World War II.  His dashing maneuvers often transformed the operational situation of the campaign in Western Europe, as his envelopment of the Germans in Normandy demonstrated.  But Patton’s daring thrusts often exposed his flanks to counter-attack.  The fact that Haislip and the troops of XV Corps were able to control Patton’s exposed flanks, in large measure, enabled Patton’s success.

Commander, Seventh Army

Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #45: Veteran of the Spanish American War

Ancestor Name: Edmund Lenwood WOMACK (1875-1937)

Edmund Lenwood Womack is my grand uncle by marriage. He married my paternal grandfather's half-sister, Leta Vernon Jennings, on 15 September 1906 in Roanoke, Virginia. They married four months after Leta's step-mother, Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings, died.

Edmund was a conductor on the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio (CC&O) Railway for over 30 years, but that's a story for another day.

Before his marriage, Edmund served his country in the Spanish-American War. His regiment mustered for the war with Spain on 21 May 1898 at a strength of 1,021 officers and men. The 2nd Virginia Volunteers Infantry was commanded by Col. James C. Baker and stationed at Camp Lee, Virginia, which was in Richmond, Virginia, at the state fairgrounds. At the time the state fair was held at what is now 2500 West Broad Street.

The Virginia regiments left Camp Lee by 6 June 1898 and were transferred to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida. The camp had been established just a few weeks earlier and was the assembly point for Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's Seventh Corp, which was soon to be designated the Occupation Army for Cuba.  It was located about three miles north of Jacksonville near Panama Park.

General layout of Camp Cuba Libre, Camp Wells, and Camp
Springfield; image courtesy of Otis Historical Archives,
National Museum of Health and Medicine

Camp Cuba Libre soon became home to more than 30,000 men. Supplies were so short they had to eat with their fingers off roofing shingles. Medical necessities were so slow in arriving, Fitzhugh Lee turned to the Red Cross for support.

Most of the soldiers spent time drilling and at target practice. They were preparing to to invade and occupy Havana, but that became unnecessary with the victory at Santiago. Elements of the Seventh Corps were sent to Cuba as an occupation force, but the 2nd Virginia Volunteers Infantry was not among them. The regiment was mustered out of the Army on 11 December 1898. The U.S. occupied Cuba until 1902.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Edmund Lenwood Womack was born on 10 November 1875 in Christiansburg, Virginia, to Jesse and Elizabeth (Pedigo) Womack. There is a discrepancy regarding Edmund's birth date. (His birth index record says 10 November 1875; his headstone, 1878; and his WWI draft card say 4 December 1878. However, I do not believe the 1878 date is correct as his younger brother was born on 18 August 1878.) At the age of 22, he volunteered to fight in the Spanish-American War. After the war he started working for a railroad as a brakeman and lived in Roanoke with his married sister's family. On 15 September 1906 Edmund married Leta Vernon Jennings in Roanoke. By 1918 when he registered for the World War I draft, he and Leta were living in Erwin, Tennessee, and he was a conductor on the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio railway, which was headquartered in Erwin. They remained in Erwin the remainder of their married lives and had five known children with four living to adulthood. Edmund was killed in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the southern terminus of the CC&O on 22 October 1937. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Erwin. His wife lived until 1959 and is buried beside her husband.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Commander, Seventh Army

Today I would like to write about another recently discovered illustrious veteran ancestor, Wade Hampton Haislip, a four-star Army general who served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army from 1949 to 1951. My brother will be writing a guest blog about General Haislip's World War II service, which I will post on Veterans' Day.

Gen. Wade Hampton Haislip; photograph courtesy of

Gen. Haislip is a by-marriage ancestor, who married my fourth cousin once removed Alice Jennings Shepherd on 14 July 1932.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1912. By January 1913 he was stationed at Fort Meade in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The fort had been established in 1878 as a cavalry fort to protect settlers and the goldmines in Deadwood.

The officers' line at Fort Meade, South Dakota

He was transferred to Fort Crockett in Galvaston, Texas, by April of that same year. It had been established in the late 1890s as a coastal artillery fortification. In 1914 he served in Vera Cruz, Mexico after the Tampico Affair. He returned to Fort Crockett after that assignment and remained there until July 1915 when he was stationed briefly at Fort Sheridan in Illinois. But he was quickly back in Texas next stationed at Fort Sam Houston in September 1915. He served at the fort with Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower and is credited with introducing Ike to Mamie Doud, who became Ike's wife.

He was promoted to major in June 1918. He served with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I serving on the general staff of V Corps, as division machine gun officer with the 3rd Division, and on the general staff with the U.S. Forces in Germany.

During World War II, he organized the 85th Infantry Division and served as its commanding officer until February 1943 when he took command of XV Corps. He later became commander of Seventh Army and served in that capacity until the end of the war.

After World War II he was appointed as Army Vice Chief of Staff for administration. He retired from active service in 1951.

He died on 23 December 1971 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His wife died in 1987 and is buried beside him.

As published in The Washington Post

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Spanish-American War Memorial

I recently discovered my grand uncle served in the Spanish-American War.  The idea for this post came from

Spanish-American War monument at Arlington National Cemetery

The Spanish-American War Memorial consists of a column of gray granite 54 feet high quarried in Barre, Vermont. Atop the column is a bronze eagle with outstretched wings, facing west. The eagle is mounted on a granite globe, which was quarried in Quincy, Massachusetts. A band decorated with 13 starts (representing the original Thirteen Colonies) is carved in high relief on the globe. The globe stands on a square base. The base stands atop a Corinthian capital which crowns the column.

The column rests upon a tall plinth with a square cross-section. Around the top of the plinth are bronze starts 5 inches across. There are 11 stars on each of the four sides, for a total of 44 stars. A bronze tablet affixed to the front (west face) of the memorial contains the following language:

To the soldiers and sailors of the United States who gave up their lives for their country in the war of 1898-99 with Spain this monument is dedicated in sorrow, gratitude, and pride by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the name of all the women of the nation. 1902.

The plinth stands on a larger square base, which sits atop a foundation set in the earth. On each corner of the foundation is a polished black granite sphere 18 inches in diameter.