Monday, April 20, 2015

John Hurt-Ester Brick Wall Update

As some of you may know who attend my genealogy classes at Tri-County Community College in Peachtree, NC, I recently solved a long standing brick wall using Ancestry DNA newest tool -- "New Ancestor Discoveries."

After many years I finally nailed down my 4th great grandfather's wife as Ester daughter of Margaret McCarter born in South Carolina. Of that I had no doubt last week. (see previous post on this blog and on the Family Roots and Branches blog)

Even after uncovering my newest 5th great grandmother - Margaret McCarter - I still wasn't convinced who Ester Hurt's father was. You see Margaret McCarter had three husbands and children by all three. I almost immediately ruled out her first husband William Motley. The timeline I had established for John Hurt and Ester just didn't work for him to be the baby daddy.

Since the Ancestry DNA tool picked up on John Lynch Jr and his wife Elinor Henson, I thought I had maybe a path directly to John Lynch Jr's -- John Lynch Sr who was Margaret's second husband. But since he died in supposedly in 1781, I just wasn't feeling right with him either in the timeline. Besides according to one message I read, there is suppose to be a family bible that indicates there were only two sons by that short marriage. I also wasn't getting even a nibble or even a brown leaf (my term for a researched DNA match) on the Lynch family via any of my Ancestry autosomal DNA tests.

Once I made up my mind that husband #1 or #2 weren't going to work, that left husband #3, the best of the three -- Jesse Neville. I purposely stayed away from him until I could rule the other two out since he was the better genealogically and historically 5th great grandfather and father of Ester Hurt.

I used my private tree over the weekend to test my theory and relinked my test to that private tree (a method I like to use often).

I can now say with excellent certainly based on my strong circumstantial paper trail (mostly indirect evidence), and our Ancestry autosomal DNA testing (me and my father) that Jesse Neville (who is buried with Margaret in Walhalla, SC) born-5 Jul 1759 in Fauquier County, Colonial Virginia, and died on 4 Mar 1842 in Walhalla,  Oconee County, South Carolina, is the father of Ester, who is the wife of John Hurt -- my 4th great grandparents.

Grandfather Jesse served during the Ref War. From the DAR GRS database:

NEVILLE, JESSE  DAR Ancestor #: A082513
Birth:  7-5-1759    FAUQUIER CO VIRGINIA
Pension Number: *S21899
Service Source: *S21899
Service Description:

If you want to read a great testimony to service during the Rev War (short of wintering over at Valley Forge with my cousin George Washington), check out Jesse's Rev War pension abstract at the Southern Campaign American Revolution Pension Statements website (
Jesse's father Captain William Neville (my 6th great grandfather) is also a patriot listed in the DAR GRS.

William Neville apparently saw service in two wars. He is shown as an ensign in the Fauquier Co., VA Militia in 1762 at which time we were engaged in the French and Indian War. He was also a captain in the Revolutionary War stationed on the frontiers of Rutherford and Tryon Counties, NC. William never received a pension but references to his service can be found in a pay voucher at the NC State Archives and also in the pension records of his son, Yelverton (S4614), and in the pension of Thomas R. Musick (S16897).
NEVILLE, WILLIAM  Ancestor #: A082528
Birth: 1740    VIRGINIA
Service Source:


Service Description:
Some of his service is documented in the pension of a man who served under him -- Thomas R. Musick ( as follows:

"The said Thomas R. Musick further on his oath states that in the beginning of the year 1778, he went to Rutherford County in the State of North Carolina and volunteered as a private in a light horse company under the command of Captain William Neville and served in that company one year (being the period of his engagement) that after the expiration of this period of service in the [year] 1779, he the applicant took the place of one Hardin and again served as a private in the same company under the same commander for a further period of 3 months -- That the company commanded by Captain Neville was employed during the whole period of the applicants service as aforesaid in the protection of the frontier against the inroads of the Indians."

And now you can see why I was reluctant to jump first on Jesse until I had disproved the other two potential fathers.

Oh BTW - I am now part of the Jesse Neville Ancestry DNA circle, my 13th DNA circle. I will have more on Jesse and the Neville family soon. In the meantime, I need to get an American flag and Gayle and I have to make a road trip over to Walhalla. Wonder if he has a DAR marker?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ancestry's "New Ancestor Discoveries" feature Busted A Long Standing Hurt Family Brick Wall.

Well as most of you who read my Family Roots and Branches blog ( know recently I blasted the Ancestry DNA tool release of the "New Ancestor Discoveries" feature on this blog (see previous post at

After taking some time to sort through the debris field of this new tool and getting a few more of these matches on two of my DNA testers pages I can now say that there "may" still be "some" hope for this new tool after all. Honestly one good set of matches out of 15 still doesn't give me a real warm and fuzzy feeling.

While I am still not a fan of this network centric DNA tool concept (read into this that I want a chromosome browser tool), out of all the mess that was the opening week for this new "tool," including what I consider the promotion of this new feature that bordered on false advertising, I have actually used it to bust wide open a very long standing ancestral female brick wall line. So while the initial promotion still gets a failing grade, the new tool gets a qualified "C-."

As it turns out and now Ancestry has admitted in some of their material these "New Ancestor Discoveries" are not necessarily "new ancestors" in your chart after all.

From one of their question mark menu's:

Possible New Ancestors & Relatives
Once you've taken your AncestryDNA test and received your results, keep an eye out for "New Ancestor Discoveries" on your results page. To find these new potential ancestors and relatives, we compare your DNA to that of other AncestryDNA members who have already built their family trees. And, New Ancestor Discoveries can happen all the time as more people use AncestryDNA. Clicking on the photo of your potential new ancestor or relative will lead you on the path to discovering amazing new details of your family story as you determine how they may fit into your family tree.
My fellow genetic genealogy blogger Roberta over at DNAeXplained has had a similar experience and her results are noted at this link:
So let's back up and look at what I got from my father's DNA testing page and this "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches tool.
Initially, there were only two of these "new ancestor discoveries" presented (which is what I based my initial criticism on -- Berryman Isom Jones and his wife Licenia Watkins. I crawled, dug around the net, banged my head against the wall, searched, analyzed, researched, banged my head against the wall again, and no matter how I cut it neither a crowbar or dynamite was going to fit this couple any where as ancestors in my tree. There was already at that possible generation indicated for these potential ancestors to much proven via existing DNA testing and a great supporting paper trail for these folks to even remotely fit.
A couple of days later, after much criticism Ancestry dropped their little bomb shell on their blog written by the man who did the introductory video to this new feature Mr. Kenny Freestone. I call this the dirty little truth revealed -- "these may not be ancestors" at all. Duh, hey Kenny, ya think?
You can read his post at, but let me pick a couple of the more notable passages.
"Last week we announced an exciting new AncestryDNA feature called “New Ancestor Discoveries.” The response to this feature launch has been very interesting to watch—we’ve received lots of feedback breathless with praise because we “proved” a relationship, and some feedback that dismisses the feature because it does not “prove” relationships. As we consider feedback from both of these extreme positions, it seems appropriate to explain more clearly what this feature is and is not."
Well it least I did not say "it does not “prove” relationships." I said it doesn't prove ancestors as you claimed in your promotional material including the video introducing this feature.
Still quoting from Mr. Freestone's blog post (italics/bold text are my doing).
What is a New Ancestor Discovery?
  • What it is: A New Ancestor Discovery is a suggestion that points you to a potential new ancestor or relative—someone that may not be in your family tree previously. This beta launch is our first step toward an entirely new way to make discoveries, and a way to expand how we do family history.
  • What it isn’t: This is not proof, or a guarantee, of a new ancestor. They’re called New Ancestor Discoveries, and many may be your actual ancestors. Some will be other relatives that fit somewhere on your family tree, and some will be people that you may not be directly related to.
  • It’s a starting point to further research. We’ll show you a New Ancestor Discovery if you share significant amounts of DNA with multiple members of a DNA Circle—which means you might also be related to the ancestor that the DNA Circle is built around. These hints can be a great starting point for your research and help you connect to other family members you didn’t know you had.
You know I wish you would have said that from the very beginning Mr. Freestone. It would have saved me and many others hours of research trying to figure out how to get those people in our family trees. So promotion of this new tool still gets an "F."
Now for the silver lining in all this. My father's DNA page has since picked up three more of these "new ancestor discoveries" people. The original couple and one of my dad's new ones still has not panned out to date.
But one couple did! Up front I will tell you that if I had not done some paper trail research on my one known ancestor (John Hurt) several years ago in the South Carolina state archives, this match might have gone unnoticed as well. No records available at Ancestry helped me uncover this until now missing wife of John Hurt, my 4th great grandmother. The initial research done in South Carolina made all the difference in the world. So with this DNA circle match and the paper research, it all ultimately let me knock down a long standing female ancestral brick wall.

The description given for John Lynch was my first good clue on where to look in my tree to see where he might fit.

"John Lynch was born on January 24, 1780, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was married in March 1806 in his hometown. He died on March 5, 1863, in Gainesville, Texas, having lived a long life of 83 years."

Given the range of relationship that the others in DNA circle had to him, I only had one line that runs through Spartanburg SC. I knew that we had to be dealing with a family associated with my John Hurt, a paternal 4th great grandfather. As it turns out these people above weren't ancestors, but in fact this Jhn Lynch was a 4th great grand uncle and his wife.

Once I opened up one of the trees to a match in the circle and I saw who John Lynch's mother was, alarm bells started to ring. I had seen that name before in the research I had done in South Carolina. That name was Margaret McCarter. As it turns out based on DNA testing and the paper trail she is my 5th great grandmother and her second husband - John Lynch is my 5th great grandfather.

Here is some of the info provided by the paper trail.

Taken from SPARTANBURG COUNTY/DISTRICT SOUTH CAROLINA DEED ABSTRACTS BOOKS A - T 1785 - 1827 ( 1752 - 1827) by Albert Bruce Pruitt.
BOOK K p. 344 Jun. 26, 1806

Margaret MCCARTER (Spartanburgh) to son-in-law John HURT (same); for love and affection give a Negro girl Nutty (or Mutty). Witness Alexander MCCARTER, Mary MCCARTER, and James VERNON. Signed Margaret MCCARTER's mark. Wit. oath Jun. 27, 1806 James VERNON, Alexander MCCARTER, and Mary MCCARTER to Isham FOSTER. Rec. Jul. 7, 1806

BOOK L p. 290 - 292 May 6, 1808
John HURT (Spartanburgh) to James VERNON (same); for $100 sold 50 ac on N fork of branch of Tygar R; border: S - Alexander MCCARTER, E - James VERNON, and N - line mentioned below; part of 160 ac grant to John ORR but presently owned by John HURT; except land between "head of pond" and a line to N fork of Tygar R. Witness William PERRIN, Andrew VERNON, and Moses RICHARDSON. Signed John HURT. Wit. oath May 7, 1808 William PERRIN to Isham FOSTER. Rec. Jun. 24, 1808 Dower renounced Ester HURT to Isham FOSTER May 7, 1808.

BOOK L p. 309 Jan. 12, 1808
Margaret MCCARTER (Spartanburgh) to Mary MCCARTER (Greenville Dist.); for $1 sold a Negro girl Fanny Witness William PERRIN and John HURT. Signed Margaret MCCARTER's mark. Wit. oath Jul. 4, 1808 John HURT to Danl WILBANKS. Rec. Aug. 8, 1808

BOOK N p. 98 - 99 Nov. 28, 1811
John HURT (Spartanburgh) to Andrew B. FLEMING (same); for $10 sold 140 ac on N side of S branch of N Tygar R; part of grant to John ORR; border: W - Alxr. MCCARTER, E & N - J JORDAN, and S - J VERNON. Witness Joseph HURT, Henry HUTCHESON, and James VERNON. Signed John HURT. Wit. oath Mar. 15, 1814 Henry HUTCHESON to John CHAPMAN. Rec. Apr. 6, 1812. Dower renounced Nov. 28, 1811 Ester HURT to Michl MILLER. BOOK N p. 157 - 159 Oct. 22, 1811
Once all the pieces were put into place, this pretty much was a slam dunk. So when you look at these "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches on your Ancestry DNA test page, do not look at them as ancestors only, but broaden that a bit to aunts/uncles or even close cousins. Pay attention to the others in the circle and see how they are related and that may help you place them on your family tree.

Bottom line, thank you Ancestry for helping me bust through a major brick wall. Now help me figure out who the other 13 "New Ancestor Discoveries" matches are!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ancestry Tree Used to Present Ancestry DNA Results - New Way of Looking at Genetic Genealogy

To my immediate family, extended cousins and genealogy friends,

Over the last three years I have been extensively involved in combining my genealogy research of over 37 years with the results of the various DNA testing that me and my various family members have utilized. There were several goals for doing this all this DNA testing.

1.      The initial goal of this testing was to use the various DNA tests taken by me and members of my immediate family to verify and strengthen the well-researched and sourced ancestral paper trails in my family history research genealogy / project.

2.      Use Autosomal DNA testing to possibly discover, document, and extend dead end (brick wall) lines in my family research.

3.      Use Autosomal DNA testing to possibly undercover and prove some female ancestral lines that have been difficult to work.

4.      Use Autosomal DNA testing to uncover potential NPEs (non-parent expected) lines or ancestral lines mistakenly identified during paper trail research.

5.      Attempt to extend my existing Van Horn family surname line back using autosomal DNA testing to my immigrant ancestor – Christian Barentsen Vanhorn – who was previous identified and proven using Y-DNA testing with FTDNA.

6.      Conduct some lineal DNA research on various lines of descendent from a colonial ancestor Nichols Martiau. I am a proud member and the national registrar for the Nicholas Martiau Descendent Association.

One of the biggest problems associated with these test has been how to present this data in a consumer style format to family, friends and even help my genealogy students work on their research and DNA presentation results. Also discover a way to best explain to a layman what these test results mean and how they can relate their test results to the DNA tests they are managing.

Over three years of working out various angles, ideas, false starts, spread sheets, computer apps, browser plug-ins, using two different genealogy programs (TMG and Legacy) to document results, and numerous other chart, graphs, printouts, programs, etc.; and even having Ancestry resetting all our DNA test results last year which caused me to have to start all over, I have finally settled on what I think is a relatively simple method of display of these DNA results using the KISS method.

So what follows is my first attempt at presenting our family DNA test results has just been released on my Autosomal DNA Ancestry public tree at

Now for some explanations of who is involved in this project and what you are seeing on that ancestor chart.

The autosomal DNA results reflected in my tree involves me, both my parents, and a first cousin 1x removed on my dad's side of the family. I manage all these tests from within my Ancestry account. Since all the participants are still living, only my identity will be made public.

Initially, I documented each of the new Ancestry DNA circles presented to me and inserted them into the ancestor chart using the same graphics that Ancestry uses:

The results of that task yielded 10 Ancestor DNA circles. These are my highest confidence matches. Once I laid them into the chart I used the following graphic to reflect the path of that DNA (and thus proof of descent) from me to those matches using the following symbol:

 I then carefully documented each of the leaf matches that I had (at this point that number is 38 leaf matches). Each of my leaf matches trees was closely scrutinized and their ancestral trail documented in my notes. This resulted in a pair (sometimes only one due to multiple marriages) ofwhat is known as Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) that I and each of my matches share. These MRCA matches were then document in the tree using the following graphic:

I also have an ongoing project of looking at my non-leaf matches in an attempt to make whatever connection that may be there. In some cases my matches may not have built out their DNA tree as far as mine, but I may have in my database additional information that could help them extend their tree to a most recent common ancestor that we share. Higher confidence matches that represent closer matches, have been easier to do. In one case, I even assisted a cousin, who was adopted in discovering his biological parents. I call these matches “researched matches” and they have been some of the most rewarding, but time consuming research for me to do

These researched matches have been indicated in the chart using this icon graphic:\

Next I added in the leaf matches of both my parents. And yes, they had matches (usually deeper in time) than I did. Their MRCA leaf matches are indicated by the first icon graphic below. I have also laid in some of their “researched matches” as well using this graphic, but neither their or my researched matches are near completion. These are the graphics I used for MRCA matches and "researched matches" for both of them.

Finally I have worked on my cousin’s matches. Like me and my parents above I have a set of graphics for her MRCA and researched matches using the graphics below.

While this is still an ongoing project with more DNA match data that needs to be analyzed, documented and displayed, I feel like this new method of sharing what has been found looks pretty sound and I wanted to share it with my family and friends. Some of you are probably scratching their heads about now wondering what all these new wonderful and weird graphics on the tree represent.

In addition to working on my tree, I am also working on my wife’s tree/DNA testing as well and will be publishing that information as soon as the initial data is ready for display.

Stay tuned here for additional information as it becomes available and I hope to publish additional information and refinements in this methodology soon on this and our other family of genealogy blogs.

Cousin Larry

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

True birth location for my Van Horn immigrant

This one has been battered around for literally decades. Early family histories and a series of article published in The American Genealogist, had Christian Barentsen Van Horn (this is one version of his name) as Hoorn, Holland. Then things shifted to another location. Now we have this from Van Horn cousin Del Van Horn, was has pursued this to a final resolution listed below. Thank you cousin Del for taking the time and energy to get this information as we say in the Navy -- "squared away."

Sent to me via a FAG correction from Del.

"Christian Barentsz was born 1625/1626 in an area of East Friesland today known as Horum that is located in the German District of Friesland on the northeast corner of the East Friesland peninsula.  There is a town called Horumersiel that is probably the closest we can come to locating the original Hooren.

"The mix-up was a result of originally using a translation of the marriage register instead of the actual scanned record which changed some of the punctuation that resulted in mis-identifying Hooren as the one in North Holland and not the one in East Friesland.

"Christian Barentsz marriage register of 1647 states he was from "Hooren in Oostland" which was identified back in the 1960s by Mr. Simon Hart (Chief Archivist for Amsterdam) as "Horum, Niedersachsen".

"I have a scanned copy of the original marriage register as well as a copy of Mr. Simon Harts book with all of his notarial document notes (complements of Mr. Cor Snabel in Amsterdam) if anyone is interested.

"Bottom line - Christian Barentsz was not originally from Holland but rather from East Frisia which at the time was part of the County of Oldenberg which in turn was part of the Holy Roman Empire."

Again thank you Del.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Profile: John Redus - Texas Cattle Trail Driver

Will share this bit of Redus history for the younger members of our Redus family. The Redus family was deeply involved in the cattle business in Texas. Here is one account from Sally McLemore-Redus, wife of John Redus, courtesy of the old Trail Drivers of Texas book.

JOHN REDUS (Trail Drivers of Texas page 811-813)

Mrs. Sallie McLamore Redus

John Redus was born in Athens, Alabama, December 25, 1833, and moved to Mississippi when a boy. He lived there until he was about twenty-two years old, when his health failed and he got in with a party coming to Texas. His father furnished him with a buggy and negro driver, and on the way he was so sick he had to be helped in and out of the buggy. When they reached Austin, there was a big crowd from San Antonio to hear General Sam Houston speak, and he met up with some people from his home town, Aberdeen, Mississippi.

My father and some others from Mississippi had bought land and settled on Hondo Creek, ten milers west of Castroville, then the county seat of Medina county. I don't know how he ever found us, but he did, and came right out and joined us. This being a stock country, he soon got in with the stock men, and his health improved so rapidly that he decided to stay and go into the stock business. His father sent money with which to buy land and cattle, and he purchased land from the Adams brothers, who had a big ranch on the Hondo, thirteen miles south of us.

John Redus was soon joined in his undertaking by his brothers, William and George Redus, and they started business on a small scale. I was the first girl Mr. Redus got acquainted with in Medina county and naturally we had to be sweethearts, and on December 11, 1859, my twentieth birthday, we were married, and the next day we went to our new home as happy as any couple could be, although I knew I did not have a neighbor nearer than four miles. The Indians came in every light moon and stole horses, killed a man occasionally, and were very troublesome, but all went well with us.

John Redus and Sallie McLemore-Redus
We were prosperous until the Civil War came on, and all the white men joined the army, and the negroes and I had to go back to my father's place near the German settlements. When the war was over the men came home and we went back to our ranch and began anew. The men had to be out on the range for weeks at a time to round up the stock, which had had but little attention during the period of the war, only our nephew, Tallie Burnett, and the negro boys would go once a week to put out salt and look around. But all hands had to hustle.

The Indians were bad for a long time, and we always had to keep guns handy, although luckily we never had to use them. Notwithstanding these troublous times, we prospered. Mr. Redus would buy more cattle every year and locate more land, and finally he bought the Adams brothers' land when they went west to get larger holdings. About this time the drives to Kansas started. Mr. Redus was one of the first to engage in trail driving and one of the last to stop. He was successful for awhile, but got to speculating, buying remnants of herds wintered in Kansas, and when the great panic of 1873 came on, and so many banks failed, he had to sell for less than he gave, and we went broke.

I made one trip with Mr. Redus to Kansas, taking along my baby boy, Robert. I have always regretted that I did not go every year, for I could have gone if I had known it. At that time the railroad came only as far as Luling, and we had to go there by stage from San Antonio. In looking back it seems a long time, and many changes are noticeable, but really I believe we had better times and were happier then than now. Everybody was your friend, and were glad to entertain you.

In reading the first volume of the old Trail Drivers' book I find many familiar names, people I knew personally, and many who did business with my husband, but most of them have passed on, and some, like us, had lost everything they had accumulated. Mr. Redus died July 25, 1895, of the same disease he had left Mississippi to escape lung trouble. I am now eighty-two years old, am in good health, keep house and do all my work. I have written this by request of my friend, Mr. W. B. Hardeman.

The landscape picture below is a mural in a local Castroville restaurant of the John Redus ranch and stagecoach stop. I originally saw this picture in George Redus "Redus in America" history, and I had my dad go out to C-ville and take a fresh picture for me. Hope you enjoy this bit of Redus family history.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Found my Great Great Aunt Mary Pamelia Van Horn - Finally!

You know it is interesting when you sit down and look over old genealogy records and stuff you have accumulated over the years after not touching them for awhile. Sometimes what wasn't obvious back in the day you first got them jumps off the page on a second or subsequent look.

Case in point, for years I have been looking for anything on Thaddeus Damascus Van Horn's oldest daughter from his first marriage to Mary Ann Faust - Mary Pamelia Van Horn.

The first major record I received as a genealogist came from my aunts Helen and Elizabeth and it was the Sketch of an Old Citizen, The Life and Times of TD Van Horn published in the New Orleans States newspaper sometime around 1890 (never have been able to locate it). See article via the link on this blog at In this article typed abd passed on to me by my aunts it stated: "Mary Pamela, wife of Issac R. Harley of New York" as a child from his first marriage.

One of the earliest records I searched for and found was TD's 1905 obituary in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The first part of the article appears below.

It is in the second part of that obit that was below the fold that holds the clue to solving the mystery of aunt Mary Pamelia. I wish I had a nickel for every time I have seen this obit but didn't pay close attention to the children's list below.

Mrs. D. Harby of Winnsboro, S.C. Who is that? Well that folks is Aunt Mary Pamelia. Not sure about the D. since her husband is Isaac Randolph Harby, but there is now no doubt that this is her. Not sure if my aunts mistyped the Harby into Harley or if the reporter for the Daily States heard it wrong, but I know I have finally found my great great aunt Mary P.

One of the first records I uncovered now that I have her married name straight was her Find-A-Grave (FAG) memorial (54068297). She is buried with her husband in the Saint Johns Episcopal Church cemetery yard in Winnsboro, Fairfield County, South Carolina (tombstone pic below thanks to Herman Ruple Durr, thanks buddy).

Mary Pamelia and Isaac Randolph had four children as follows:

Alice Eugenia Harby b. 21 Jan 1867, d. Dec 1871 (FAG memorial 54068295)
Gertrude H. Harby b. Nov 1867, d. 21 Jul 1952 (married Henry Bascom Refo)
Maude Eulalie Harby b. Feb 1871 d. Mar 1871 (FAG memorial 54108945)
Charles Henry Harby b. 19 Sep 1876 d. 1 Jun 1969 (married Laura Edith Smith)

I found this picture in a 1920s NC newspaper of him thanks to a good search at GenealogyBank.

Charles Henry Harby 1926

At this point I do not have any children for Gertrude H. and Henry Bascom Refo. Charles Henry and Laura Edith Smith had one child that survived to majority age, a daughter named Gertrude Maude Harby who married Thomas Bernard Autrey. This North Carolina couple had two sons: Thomas Bernard Autrey Jr who married Helen Margot Rhodes, and Harby Penn Autrey who married Mary Margaret Grimes.

If you are an Autrey family member from around Charlotte, we are probably related and I have some goodies for you if you contact me at the email address in the masthead.

So just going back and revisiting a record or two opened up a line of descendent from old TD Van Horn that had been a mystery to me for a number of years. Keep that lesson in mind and it may help you down the road someday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Genealogy Family Profile: Friedrich Paul Schmidt and Auguste Leitsch

Private Friedrich Paul Schmidt, CSA and Auguste Leitsch


Meet Private Friedrich Paul Schmidt, CSA and Auguste Leitsch. They are  my 1st Great Grandparents (Photo from family collection of Larry Van Horn)

Friedrich Paul Schmidt, commonly called "Paul," son of Friedrich Gottlob Schmidt and Wilhelmine Chrisitiane Ullrich (their Genealogy Family Profile is on this blog at, was born February 22, 1837, in Frankenhausen, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and died December 26, 1921, at Smithville. He was buried in Brushy Creek Cemetery, behind St. Mary's Catholic Church at String Prairie, Bastrop County, Texas (Find-A-Grave #37358914).

Paul was nine years old when his parents immigrated to Texas and must have found the journey quite an adventure in spite of the hardships travelers faced in those days. He grew up in Seguin and probably received his schooling there. Other than being listed in the 1850 census with his parents, his name does not appear in the public records of Seguin during this period of his life. It is interesting to note he is listed as "Powell" on the 1850 census, indicating the way "Paul" was pronounced.

After the family moved to Comal County, Paul appears on the tax rolls in 1860 when his father and he were jointly taxed for 37 cows and 150 acres of land. On August 30, 1860, he registered a mark and brand in New Braunfels (page 420 #55).

On February 23, 1861, Comal County voted 239 to 86 for Secession from the United States. Later that same year, Paul enlisted in Henry McCullough's Regiment of Cavalry, serving about 12 months (His military page in my Hall of Heroes appears here).

In August 1862 Paul enlisted in Company K, 3rd Regiment, Texas Infantry under Captain Julius Bose and was enrolled at Camp Terry on the Colorado, eight miles south of Austin and two miles above the mouth of Onion Creek. He remained with this unit until he was paroled on September 2, 1865 at New Braunfels.

The company's activities during the war can be traced through the letters of Captain Bose and other news items printed in the Neu-Branfelser Zeitung throughout the war. The unit was temporarily stationed at San Antonio at Camp Herbet until early 1863, when they marched to Fort brown on the Rio Grande. The journey took five months.

In late June they moved through Columbus on their way to Galveston or some other point on the Texas coast. By December 1863, the regiment had been ordered to West Texas and was located at Camp Lubbock. Captain Bose letters record some of their activities, but mentioned no engagements up to this point.

On May 6, 1864, from Camp near Camden, Arkansas, Captain Bose reported on the Battle of Jenkins Ferry, which his unit had participated in April. The company had been assigned to Scurry's Brigade at Shreveport and were ordered to go to Camden, then held by Federal troops under General Steele. Arriving near Camden, they found the enemy had fled. During the night, the Confederate troops built pontoons they used to cross the Ouachita River. The solders were ordered to take a blanket, 40 cartridges, and rations for two days, but were unable to bake enough cornbread for two days with the utensils they had with them. Bose said their wagons did not arrive till well into the night.

They followed the enemy to Princeton and had stopped to rest when a storm blew up, soaking them. The next 17 miles to the Sabine Bottom - where the battle was in progress - was marched in a constant rain, frequently wading in hip-deep water. Some of the men lost their shoes in the mire. The men formed a battle line at 400 yards from the enemy lines, which opened fire. With a "Texas Yell," the 2000 rebels charged, only to find themselves confronted by 7000 enemy. Scurry attempted to turn his men back in the face of such odds, but "our regiment saw its advantageous position and charged forward thereby earning the praise of the entire brigade..." Of the Comal County company, one was killed and four received flesh wounds. Their next destination was Little Rock.

In December 1864, Captain Bose wrote from Camp between Shreveport and Minden, Louisiana, detailing the hardships they had faced due to rain and cold. The company had received a box of clothing and medicine sent by the people of New Braunfels for which they were most grateful, promising to participate in the first round dance at the end of the war. "There also were special packages for Sarasin, Stoetzner, Heimer, Gass, Nehls, Metz, Wesch, Schmidt, Pfeiffer, Boerner, Kraetzer, Rauch, Donsbach, Friesenhahn, Butz, Fromme, and me."

The war continued into the following year, but on April 9, Lee surrendered at Appomattox to Grant, and on April 26, Johnston surrendered to Sherman. By May 26, the last Confederate troops had surrendered, and as stated above, on September 2, 1865, Paul Schmidt received his parole at New Braunfels, as did other soldiers and officers of the Confederate Army. The men were probably glad to get back to a normal life.

In 1914 Paul was granted a pension (#28887) by the State of Texas for his service and he continued to draw the pension until he died.

Paul Schmidt after the civil war (Photo from the family collection of Larry Van Horn)

After the war, Paul returned home and engaged in farming. On December 31, 1866, he was married to Miss Auguste Leitsch by the Reverend August Schuchard, pastor of what is now the First Protestant Church (Church of Christ) in New Braunfels. The marriage was recorded in the church and county records. The old church record books are still held by the church, but a four volume, indexed, typewritten transcript entitled Kirchenuch der Protestantischen Gemeinde Neu Braunfels, Texas is deposited in the University of Texas Archives in Austin. The transcript was made in 1938 and 1939 as part of the WPA historical records work project.

Auguste Leitsch and came to Texas with her parents about 1852. She died at Rosanky on January 9, 1930, and is buried beside her husband (Find-A-Grave Memorial #37358910).
We know very little about Andreas Leitsch, the father of Auguste Leitsch-Schmidt, and nothing at all about his relatives. He married Justine Ludwig, probably about 1848. Auguste Leitsch is their only known child, was born December 10, 1849 according to her death certificate, in Tegwitz (or Tegnitz), probably in Sachsen-Altenburg.
Tradition says that Andreas became ill and died soon after their arrival in 1852. No passenger list has been found nor has the name of the ship been determined. His widow, with her daughter, made their way to New Braunfels where on September 11, 1853, she married Michael Heimer, a widower with two small children. Robert Heimer, a grandson of Michael's first marriage said that Michael had immigrated on the same ship as the Leitsch family, and that his first wife died at Victoria, as did Andreas Leitsch. Both died of yellow fever.
In census records and in church records, both Michael and his second wife are listed as natives of Saxe-Altenburg. Michael's oldest child, however, was not born in the same village as Auguste Leitsch was. A search of place names in Germany showed only one town with a name similiar to "Tegwitz" listed in Mullers Grosses Deutsche Ortsbuch (1958 edition). The town, actually a small village, is Tegkwitz with 531 people, near Altenburg in present Bezirke Leipzig, Germany (former East Germany), located 3 km from Kostitz and 6 km from Grossroda, which are also listed as villages near Altenburg.
Altenburg itself was a market town from as early as the 1125-1165 period. It lies about 40 km south of Leipzig in the Central Uplands. Through this area ran the historic frontier between the Germans and the Slavs, established by Charles the Great, King of the Franks from 771 to 814. In the 12th century, the region was ruled by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony. The portion surrounding Altenburg later became known as Sachsen-Altenburg, taking its name from the principal city.
An examination of the church records of central Europe (incomplete) that are recorded on microfiche as of October 1976 in the LDS Stake Library revealed no Leitsch entries, but there were numerous entries for the spellings Leisch, Leish and Leich (however, none in Tegkwitz). It is possible the spelling in the Texas records is incorrect, but since "Leitsch" is used in both the church and the county records here, that is the one followed in this account.
Not very much is known about Justine Ludwig, Andreas Leitsch's widow. She is known as "Gustine" on the county marriage records and as "Auguste" on the 1860 census. She was born about 1826 in Saxe-Altenburg, the town not given. She seems to have died between 1870 and 1880 as she is not listed on the 1880 census. No marked grave has been located. Ludwig is not an uncommon surname in Germany and there were in fact several families of this name who immigrated to Texas.
Auguste Leitsch probably grew up in Comal County as her stepfather is listed in the tax rolls beginning in 1853, and on subsequent censuses through 1880. According to Robert Heimer, Michael brought a ranch at Crane's Mill, now the community of Canyon Dam. The tax rolls during the 1880s show he owned 275 acres in the M. Bosque survey and 320 acres of school land.
Michael Heimer was granted citzendship in the District Court at New Braunfels, in the fall of 1858, on the affidavits of John Heilmann and georg Friedrich Kunz, who said they had known him for five years past during which time he had been aresident of the United States of AMerica. Michael renounced his allegiance to every foreign prince, particularly to the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, of whom he had been a subject.
In the 1860 census, Michael was listed as a farmer with $800 worth of real estate and $630 worth of personal estate. His eldest son was listed as a wagoner. Robert Heimer said that Michael had been a tailor in the old country, but he appears to have remained a farmer the rest of his life in Texas. His exact date of death is not known, bit it may have occurred about 1888, the last year he appears on the tax rolls. He was not listed in the 1900 census.
According to the 1920 Federal Population Census Schedule, neither Paul or Augusta were naturalized citizens.

By 1869 Friedrich Paul Schmidt was taxed for 10 horses, 24 cows and 80 sheep. He also paid a poll tax that year, but was not taxed for land. As previously shown, he and his young family were living with his parents in 1870, and it was during that same year that his father transferred 150 acres of the E. Dale survey to Paul. This portion of land probably included the house.

Paul and Auguste continued to live near New Braunfels until about 1878 when they bought 160 acres in Guadalupe County. They sold this land in 1882 (Deed Book U-447), but purchased 100 acres from Philip Alston on December 28, 1883 out of the Patrick Lynch League in Guadalupe County on the Sandies Creek about 25 miles from the town of Gonzales (Deed Book 1-350).

On November 27, 1882, Paul Schmidt, a resident of Guadalupe County registered a brand and mark (p 163).

The land on the Sandies Creek was sold on November 20, 1889 (Deed Book 6-48), but they continued to live in the county until after 1893 when Paul was assessed taxes on a wagon, six horses, 10 cows and seven hogs. He paid a poll tax, but was not taxed for land.

On July 20, 1896, Paul bought 150 acres of land in Bastrop County in the S.H. Reid survey, about 24 miles south of the town of Bastrop, near present String Prairie (Bastrop County Deed Book 35, page 353). Here he farmed and taught school. He paid taxes on the land in 1897 and 1898, and still owned the land when he died in 1921, when it was listed in his inventory as community property, 150 acres, part of the R.H. Reid survey and valued at $1500.00.

He had a written will on December 7, 1908, and it was probated on November 18, 1922. It was recorded in Minute Book N, page 466, Bastrop County, Texas estate #1478.

According to the 1920 Federal Census Population Schedule, neither Paul or Augusta were naturalized citizens.

Paul and Auguste had 11 known children listed below:

1. Frank Schmidt
Birth 29 Oct 1867 Comal County, Texas, United States.
Marriage       1896 Emma Elizabeth Griffin (b. 17 Jul 1867, d. 13 Feb 1954), daughter of George Little Griffin and Amanda Jane Summers
Death 22 Oct 1937 Houston, Harris County, Texas, United States.
Burial 24 Oct 1937 Brookside Memorial Park, Houston, Harris County, Texas, United States.

2. William Schmidt
Birth 12 Nov 1870 Comal County, Texas, United States.
Marriage       1907 Emma --?-- (b. 1886)
Death 26 Mar 1961 Austin, Travis County, Texas, United States.

3. Charles H. Schmidt
Birth 12 Sep 1872 Comal County, Texas, United States.
Death 27 Feb 1959 Austin, Travis County, Texas, United States.
Burial 1 Mar 1959 Austin Memorial Park, Austin, Travis County, Texas, United States.

4. Emilie Schmidt
Birth 25 Dec 1873 Comal County, Texas, United States.
Marriage circa __ ___ 1894 Ferdinand Joseph Seideman (b. 17 Jan 1870, d. 27 Oct 1948), son of Peter Seideman and Jennie V. Hosziager
Death 2 Apr 1948 Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, United States.
Burial 3 Apr 1948 Rose Hill Cemtery, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, United States.

5. Albert George Schmidt
Birth 1 Jan 1876 Comal County, Texas, United States.
Marriage __ ___ 1901 Matilda Margaret Behring (b. 4 Oct 1885, d. 22 Aug 1956), daughter of August Behring
Marriage __ ___ 1918 Emelia Caroline Grohman (b. 1 Aug 1884, d. 30 Dec 1961), daughter of Frank August Grohman Sr. and Mary Anna Meuth; Texas, United States.
Death 13 Apr 1944 509 Pleasanton Road, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.
Burial 15 Apr 1944 Mission Burial Park, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.

6. Max Emil Schmidt
Birth 25 Oct 1879 Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Marriage 15 Apr 1902 Mary Emma Grohman (b. 23 Jan 1883, d. 20 Oct 1974), daughter of Frank August Grohman Sr. and Mary Anna Meuth; Bastrop County, Texas, United States.
Death 2 Mar 1932 San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.
Burial 4 Mar 1932 San Fernando Cemetery #2, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.

*7. Henry James Schmidt (This is my maternal grandfather)
Birth  16 Dec 1882 Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Marriage 16 Feb 1904 Lillian Margaret Grohman (b. 1 Jul 1886, d. 14 Jul 1911), daughter of Frank August Grohman Sr. and Mary Anna Meuth; Bastrop County, Texas, United States.
*Marriage 17 Nov 1914 Hattie Grohman (b. 16 Dec 1885, d. 30 Jul 1962), daughter of Charles Grohman and Sarah Frances Smith; Justice of the Peace, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States. (This is my maternal grandmother)
Death 18 Nov 1949 San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.
Burial 19 Nov 1949 San Fernando Cemetery #3, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.

8. Louisa P. Schmidt
Birth 21 Apr 1885 Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Marriage 29 Jul 1907 Frank Zimmerman (b. 23 Jan 1876, d. 17 Jun 1965), son of George Zimmerman and Augusta --?--; Bastrop County, Texas, United States.
Death 31 Dec 1979 
Burial     Jan 1980 Hollywood Cemetery, Houston, Harris County, Texas, United States.

9. Catherine Schmidt
Birth 9 Feb 1888 Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Marriage 3 Nov 1907 Frank Kunshick (b. 12 Jan 1880, d. 26 Mar 1958), son of Joseph Kunshick and Theresa Schmidt; Bastrop County, Texas, United States.
Death 20 Feb 1962 Austin, Travis County, Texas, United States.
Burial 22 Feb 1962 Austin Memorial Park, Austin, Travis County, Texas, United States.

10. Augusta Mary Schmidt
Birth 15 Apr 1892 Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Marriage 17 Feb 1914 Edward Paul Meuth (b. 19 Jun 1893, d. 1 Oct 1972), son of Andrew Edward Meuth and Anna Bruger; Bastrop County, Texas, United States.
Death 23 Aug 1962 Brazoria County, Texas, United States.
Burial  25 Aug 1962 Greenlawn Memorial Park, Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, Texas, United States.

11. Edward Schmidt
Birth 5 Sep 1892 Guadalupe County, Texas, United States.
Death 21 Mar 1987 San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.
Marriage  Edna Williams
Divorce   Edna Williams