Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Once you have gathered the information from your relatives concerning your family history, the detective work begins!

I would start my investigation with census records. In the United States there has been a census of citizens taken every ten years since 1790. Until 1850, the census listed the head of the household by name and included a tally of the members of the household by age, sex, and race.

In 1850, the census included all members of the household by name. It also included the age, sex, color, occupation, and birthplace of individuals. There was also other demographic information collected. This expanded information is very beneficial to genealogists.

In 1870 a 2 columns were added to indicate whether the mother and father of the individual were foreign born. This can help you take your search back an additional generation. In 1880, this was expanded to list the birthplace of the mother and father of the individual. Also, a column was added to list an individual’s relationship to the head of the household.

Most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire. In 1900, a lot of useful information was added to the census. First, the month and year of birth was added to the data that was collected. Also, mothers listed how many children they had had and how many were still living. Finally, a column was added to indicate what year immigrants came to the United States.

Right now the latest census you are able to access is the 1930 Census, this is due to privacy concerns.

It is now very easy to access census records in the United States. There are a number of services that allow you to search the census online. This makes your job a whole lot easier. When I started researching my family, I had to go to the library and hope they had a census index for the state I was researching. I would then go through the index looking for any conceivable spelling for the family names I was investigating. I would then have to record the location of the desired records, then go through microfiche records to find the actual census image. It was a tedious and time consuming process.

The rewards are satisfying, though. By utilizing census records I was able to add a great deal of information to my family tree.

Remember, when you are using census records (or any other records), there are abundant errors. I have seen a number of spelling errors on the various surnames in my tree. I have seen Whiting spelled as Whiteing, Harton spelled as Harten and Hartens, O’neal is spelled Neal, Finnell as Fennell, Callahan as Callihan. Furthermore, I have seen errors on the birthplace of parents and other family data. In one case, my great-grandmother Nellie Porter Whiting said she immigrated from Canada in 1880 on the 1900 census and in 1879 on the 1910 census.

I hope you find this information useful, I will continue to add “how to” entries on my blog. As always, I look forward to meeting my extended family and will help as much as I can. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I have found that studying my families story has been a great adventure. I hope you get the satisfaction I do from this endeavor.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


While researching my ancestor, Moses Fuqua, I found an article written about him in the Portmouth (Ohio) Times. The article was written by James Keyes on November 6, 1875. Mr. Keyes had actually known Moses. Reading this article puts a human face on an historical figure and gives me a real connection to my ancestor. I am including a transcript of this article below.

“I now propose to furnish you for publication the names and some of the principal incidents connected with the early pioneers of Greenup County, Kentucky

I now commence with the name


In examining the records of an old family bible a few years ago, in the possession of Mr. Weare, which was brought to this country by Mr. Fuqua, I find that Moses Fuqua was born in the year 1740, the wife in 1742. They were married in 1760. Then follows a long list of their children and their grand-children, but not having the record before me I cannot give their names or the date of their birth. Mr. Fuqua was a large landed proprietor and owned a considerable number of negro slaves, living near Lynchburg, Virginia. He served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War that came on shortly after he reached his majority. He was about the same age as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Marshall, James Monroe and other leading spirits who shone so conspicuously in the war that separated this country from the mother country.

He lived in Virginia until his children had arrived at man’s estate, and nearly all married and settled around him.

The central portion of Kentucky had been filling up with emigrants mostly from Virginia for some years and had been admitted into the Union as a State; but there was a strip of rich, alluvial bottom lands that had never been settled on account of the hostility of the north western Indians, who made it dangerous for boats to pass down the Ohio until the treaty of Greenville by General Wayne, in 1795. This opened up all the North Western Territory for settlement, including the northern part of Kentucky along the banks of the Ohio River. In 1797 or ’98 Mr. Fuqua sent his youngest son, Moses Fuqua, Jr., out to locate land in Kentucky for a home. Young Moses came out West and stopped at the house of John Collins, in Alexandria, till he would make his selections and secure his titles. He selected a beautiful piece of land comprising several hundred acres on the south bank of the Ohio, about two miles above the mouth of Tygart’s creek. When he returned home and reported what he had done preparations were immediately entered into for removing to the West. Removing to the West in those days was no easy task. Everything a man took with him had to be hauled in wagons over the Alleghany mountains where the roads were made over precipices and mountains almost impassible either for man or beast. However, the difficulties were overcome, and about the last year of the last century or the beginning of the present they reached their Western home.

Mr. Fuqua was then about sixty years of age, when he left a home in Virginia, surrounded with all the comforts of life, to begin a new home in the wilderness. But he brought a large force of willing slaves with him, so that it was but a small matter for him to subdue the froests, fence in extensive fields, plant orchards, build houses &c.

In 1810 the writer of this article first became acquainted with Mr. Fuqua, and saw the Fuqua farm. It had the appearance of an old homestead, such as was generally seen in that day throughout the older settled parts of Virginia. There were about two hundred acres of land cleared, under fence and in a high state of cultivation. There was a very large apple orchard, and two or three peach orchards, beside cherries, pears and other fruit in abundance, where we boys on the other side of the river used to go to get fruit of the different kinds when they were in season. He had quite a commodious brick residence, two stories high, in a large yard, surrounded by weeping willows, which in that day was considered indispensable as a shade tree, in every man’s yard who made any pretension to respectability or taste. There was also a large garden containing an acre or more, well filled with vegetables to satisfy the palate and flowers to please the eye. Mr. Fuqua had, in fact fulfilled the prediction made by Col. Humphrey, in a poem written at the close of the revolutionary war, wherein he describing the future greatness of the western country, he said “The wilderness must be made to blossom with the rose.”

Several of Mr. Fuqua’s children came and settled near him about the time. Josiah Morton, who married one of his daughters, settled below the mouth of Tygart’s Creek. John Mackoy, who married another daughter, settled opposite the mouth of Hale’s Creek. He likewise had two sons, who brought families to this country. One settled on Tygart, and the other on the Ohio opposite the mouth of Little Scioto. The young son, Moses Fuqua, Jr. married a daughter of Judge Collins, who lived in Alexandria. Mr. Fuqua had one young negro, named Charles, who was always in some mischief or other, such as killing young ducks and geese, destroying property of various kinds. He was whipped every time caught in his mischief, yet it seemed to do no good. He had a great propensity for hunting, and would steal a gun every opportunity and take to the woods to have a day’s hunt. As he was generally successful, and brought his game home with him, he was allowed to pass with impunity. They finally gave him a gun and ammunition and sent him a hunting. He supplied the family which was numerous, with all the wild game they could consume. In this way they not only made him useful, but what was better, they got clear of his mischievous tricks on the farm. Charles was an uncommonly intelligent negro. In the distribution of property he fell to the share of Moses Fuqua, Jr. In after years I have heard him relate his boyish pranks with great satisfaction.

It was the custom before meeting houses or school houses were built in this country, to hold meetings in the woods in the summer time, under the shade of the trees seated on logs, or on the ground, as might be most convenient. These meetings were largely attended, and people, both white and black, came from a very considerable distance to attend these outdoor meetings. Those who were religiously inclined would gather around the preacher’s stand and hear the preaching. Others, who were not so pious, would gather in groups just out of sight of the preacher’s group, and indulge in conversation. In these places I have heard Charles relate his boyish pranks and hunting stories, much to our satisfaction, and which we understood much better than the preaching.

In the spring of 1811 Mr. Fuqua, growing old, and being nearly blind, concluded to divide his property among his children and retire from the cares of active life and live among his children the balance of his days. His personal property was sold at public auction. William Price, who owned the ground on which Sciotoville now stands, was the auctioneer. Among the household effects sold was a pair of spoon moulds, or to speak more properly, a spoon mould.

Spoon moulds! Methinks I hear some person exclaim with astonishment. What have spoons to do with this history? Hold on, gentlemen, I will explain. Spoons have considerable to do with the times of which I am writing. Macauley, in one of his admirable essays, said that the world had never yet produced a complete and perfect historian. Only one-half of the history of the world had been written, the other half had never been touched. A true history of any nation should contain a full account of the people, their social habits, manners, disposition, domestic economy in all its departments, as well as the rise and fall of empires, and all the machinery of government, statesmanship, and the glorious deeds of great warriors.


From the Portsmouth Times, Portsmouth, Ohio, Saturday, November 13, 1875.

SKETCHES of the Early Settlers of Greenup County, Ky.


”[Continued from last week.]

In the close of my last I quoted Macauley as to what constituted a historian. To illustrate his meaning, he said when such a historian did arise as he described, we would not have to read Hume for one-half of King James the Fourth, and look into the “Fortunes of Nigel,” a romance, for the other half.

The writing of these sketches is not so much to give an account of the individuals spoken of as to give a picture of the times in which they lived. Mr. Fuqua, knowing the wants and necessities of a new country, had brought a mould to run pewter spoons in. That was before iron and other cheap spoons had been invented, and every family used pewter spoons as well as pewter plates, dishes, basins and nearly every other thing used on the table. As I said before, Mr. Price bid off the spoon moulds, and when he brought them home there was great rejoicing in the neighborhood. Spoons were getting to be a very scarce article among the families, and as most of them lived upon mush and milk, without spoons it was rather a difficult thing to make a square meal. When we, the writer of this article, came to this country, we had a full set of pewter spoons, so that we could all eat at once, but in a short time some had had the handle broken in two, some had been melted in hot fat, and some were lost, and we were very glad to get a chance to renew our set of spoons. Mr. Price would not lend his spoon moulds, but gave every person in the neighborhood leave to come to his house and remould their pewter spoons, Mr. Price furnishing ladle and fire. These may seem like trifling matters to speak of at this distant day, but they were very important matters at the time they transpired.

I now return to Mr. Fuqua. Having sold of his personal property, divided his slaves and landed estate among his children, he gave up all the cares of life and lived among his children the remainder of his days. The homestead, where he lived, he gave to a Mr. Cook, a wealthy Virginian who married his oldest daughter, and was living near Lynchburg, in Virginia. Mr. Cook gave it to his daughter Nancy, who had married Thomas B. King, who came and took possession of the property in the spring of 1812. The marriage of Thomas B. King with Nancy Cook was of a very romantic character, which will be treated of at some length in an article by itself.

The Fuquas and all their connections belonged to what was called the first families of Virginia. They were well educated, refined and cultured in their manners and deportment. They were hospitable and kind to their neighbors, whether rich or poor. They were very tenacious of their old Virginia manners and customs. Some of their ways seemed curious to us who had never been used to the refined manners practiced by these Virginians of the old school. We were sometimes placed in an awkward predicament, particularly when invited to eat at their tables. Everything had to be done according to certain forms, which were very familiar to them, but very awkward for us who had never been much used to such things. They were very fond of their ancient customs, and in their social intercourse with one another were somewhat exclusive, but not in such a manner as to give the least offense to those outsiders who had business to transact with them, or visited their houses. This exclusiveness manifested itself more by marrying among blood relations than any other way. It was quite common for relatives, such as first cousins and others more distant, to marry among one another, although there were exceptions to this rule. But, in fact, they could not help it, for they formed an almost entire community of their own. Situate in a bend of the Ohio, almost entirely cut off from any communication with the outside world, except by the worst of roads, it is not to be wondered at if they should, as the children grew up, form attachments that ripened into marriage. Another peculiarity of the Fuqua family was their adhesion to family names.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010


For those of you who are new to the world of genealogy, today’s post is a quick start guide to creating your family tree.

To dig into one’s family history is a truly rewarding enterprise. When you explore the corridors of the past, you enter a fascinating world. You are acting as a detective, digging up information and presenting the facts. Then, as you dig deeper, you uncover very real and human stories. Finally, you place these stories and facts into a historical narrative that brings your family to life.

The first step to take when beginning your family tree is to interview your relatives. The best source of information you have about your family is your family! Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone else you can think of who might know something. You want to find out who is who in your family. Get full names, nicknames, names of siblings, birthdays, wedding dates, death dates, where they lived, where they are buried, and where their parents came from. Then ask them if they know any stories about the family, find out if there are any rumors about who the family is related to. While doing your interviews, you might just find a relative who is already working on your family history!

The information you get from your relatives should provide a good starting point. Even if all the information is not accurate, it should be enough to get you going. Take good notes and try to develop a system to organize your data.

At this point, I think it is important to say that there are many options available to organize and present your family tree. You can always do it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Family histories have been maintained like this for centuries. If this does not appeal to you, you can maintain your family tree on your computer. There are many software products available to save and present your information. I have been using a product called “Family Tree Maker” for almost 20 years. It is a complete package and I have been happy with it.

I have a lot of data on the surnames I have listed on this blog and I am willing to share my genealogical information with anyone who can use it. If you have any questions about genealogy or you need information that we share, please ask and I will do my best to address all inquires.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Some years after my mother joined the DAR, my sister joined. Talking to my mother later, she found it was unusual that my sister’s application added one more generation to get to the same ancestor. She never looked much further into it. I picked up our family history some time later and found that our common ancestor, Moses Fuqua Sr., had 10 children. One of his daughters, Nancy, was born in 1766. She married Josiah Morton in 1790. They followed her father to Kentucky when he migrated. They had a son, Richard Woodson Morton, who was born about 1798. He married Hannah Bingham in 1820 and had their first son James in about 1821.

Moses’ 5th son was also named Moses, and he was born in 1798. He was sent out ahead of the family to scout Moses’ land in Kentucky. He stayed in a tavern in Alexandria, Ohio owned by John Collins. He fell in love with John’s Daughter, Cynthia Ann, and married her on 23 December, 1800. They had a daughter, Cynthia Jane, who was born in about 1822. Cynthia Jane married James Morton (the son of Richard Woodson Morton and Hannah Bingham).
This means that Moses Fuqua, Sr.’s granddaughter (Cynthia Jane) married his great-grandson (James Morton)!

In my study of my family’s history, I have found that it is very common for the same group of families to be closely associated over a few generations.This happens for a number of reasons. First, in rural areas the number of families in a given location is small. Therefore, when families have a large number of children, it is likely that there will be multiple marriages between families. Furthermore, many of the people that migrated west from Virginia believed in maintaining social position. These families came from the landed class and believed in staying within their own station. This reduces the number of options one has to find a suitable mate. It is inevitable that there will be some marriages between distant (and not so distant) cousins.

These close relationships between families can make tracing your roots a much simpler task. I have used the existence of related families living in close proximity to help in verification. This becomes a valuable tool the farther you go back in your history. Sometimes the connection you need will be found in legal documents of other families. Many of these will provide the only proof of connection between generations. Remember, birth certificates are a fairly recent innovation!

For those interested, here are the surnames I am researching in my family tree: Whiting, Steele, Harton, O’neal, Porter, Shawan, Fischer, Callihan, Ayres, Foster, Andrews, Finnell, Sleet, Roberts, Pratt, Morton, Fuqua, Bingham, Woodson, and Backus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome to my World!

I inherited my love of genealogy from my mother. My mother used to talk about the stories she heard growing up, where she was told that her family had ties to the Mayflower. She traced her history with the assistance of her mother and found that she was descended from Captain Moses Fuqua who served in the Revolutionary War. This permitted her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also able to discover that Moses Fuqua’s wife Judith Woodson came from a family that arrived in Jamestown in 1619. She was never able to confirm the connection to anyone associated with the Mayflower.

Over the last 25 years, I have picked up my family history numerous times and have been intrigued by the stories I have found. One of the first things I discovered when I researched our history is that there are people who are more interested in collecting names than facts. I have seen tenuous connections made just to get another generation added to a family tree. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time verifying the information that was passed on to me.

I have expanded the research my mother did and opened many new family lines. One of the connections I found was the Bingham family line. Hannah Bingham married Dr. Richard Woodson Morton (grandson of Moses Fuqua) in 1820. Hannah is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Myles Standish, Captain of the Mayflower Company. This proves the accuracy of one of the rules of genealogy; get as much information from living relatives as possible. It may lead you to real connections.

The name of this blog comes from a story about the sons of Dr. John Woodson. In April of 1644, Dr. John Woodson was killed during an Indian attack on his plantation. His wife Sarah hid their 2 sons, one (Robert) under a washtub and the other (John) in a hole used to store potatoes. Ever since, descendents of John have been referred to as “Potato Hole” and Robert as “Washtub” Woodsons.

I am starting this blog to share the story of my family and my quest to find it.