Friday, June 26, 2015

The Roberts Family, Christmas Day 1915

I’m so thankful that my maternal Roberts family was fond of taking photographs, especially group photos on holidays. I was looking through digitized copies of my mom’s photos this morning and came across this one taken of the Roberts family on December 25, 1915, on the front steps of the Big House (Known locally as the J.T. Roberts house. Click on the photo for a larger view). Luckily, my mom wrote their names on the back. I would have been able to pick out a few of the people, like my grandmother Leona, most of her sisters, her brother Leland, and her parents, because I knew them (except for her parents, of course) when I was growing up.

The numbers in the list below correspond to the numbers in the photograph:

4th row: 1-Edmund Pendleton (my cousin on my dad’s side) and wife 2-Stella (Roberts) Pendleton, 3-Kathleen (Roberts) Winn (for whom I named my daughter) and husband 4-Abial Winn, 5-Mary (Converse) Roberts and husband 6-John Young Roberts.
3rd row: 7-Maie Dell (Roberts) Covington, 8-Margaret Roberts (later Graham).
2nd row: 9-Henry L. Covington, Jr. (husband of Maie Dell Roberts), 10-Leona Roberts (later Redles, my grandmother), 11-Dinah Roberts (later Parramore, on my dad's side), 12-Edwina Roberts, 13-W. Leland Roberts.
1st row: 14-Henry L. Covington III (son of Maie Dell Roberts and Henry Covington Jr.), 15-John Taylor Roberts holding babies 16-William Edmund Pendleton (son of Stella Roberts and Edmund Pendleton) and 17-John Roberts Covington (son of Maie Dell Roberts and Henry Covington Jr.), 18-Kathleen Winn (later Knight, daughter of Kathleen Roberts and Abial Winn), 19-baby Mary Young Roberts (later Oliver, daughter of John Young Roberts and Mary Converse), 20-Kate (Catherine Young) Roberts, and 21-John Winn (son of Kathleen Roberts and Abial Winn).

Compare this photo to the ones I posted previously: The Roberts Family Circa 1900 and The J. T. Roberts Family—A Group Photo ca. 1936 and see how much this family grew. What a difference a few decades make!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Parramore Boys Drown, August 4, 1900

A while ago, on one of my many visits to Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta, Georgia, I visited the graves of my paternal 2nd great grandparents, Susan Dasher and Noah Parramore. While there, I photographed all of the headstones on the Parramore lot

The Noah and Susan Dasher Parramore family plot in Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Georgia

I was intrigued by the headstone for two young Parramore boys—Frank and Herman, sons of John and Martha Parramore. They have one headstone divided into two parts. The dates on the headstones are hard to read, but it appears they died the same day in 1900, and it looks like they are buried in the same grave. 

Double headstone for Frank and Herman Parramore who drowned on August 4, 1900

Later, my Parramore/Roberts cousin Lilla Kate told me Frank and Herman drowned together, and our uncle John Young Roberts, who was just a boy at the time, rushed to town to bring the sad news about his young friends. Lilla Kate said the incident was written up in the Valdosta newspaper, so I headed to the library to look it up on microfilm.
The article in The Valdosta Times is dated Tuesday, August 7, 1900, and titled, “A Double Drowning Saturday, The Sad Death of Little Frank and Herman Parramore.” On Saturday afternoon, August 4, twelve-year-old Frank and ten-year-old Herman were with a group of boys and girls headed to the branch on my paternal great grandfather A. S. Pendleton’s property north of town for a swim. Then several of the boys, including ten-year-old John Young Roberts (son of my maternal great grandparents John T. Roberts and Catherine Young), Frank and Herman Parramore, and ten-year-old Fred and twelve-year-old Albert Pendleton (sons of A. S. Pendleton and Susan Parramore; Albert was my grandfather) and some other boys decided to go to Pine Park. (Pine Park was the fair grounds at the time.) They wanted to swim in the pond there that had been used for diving horses the previous year. 

Location of Pine Park in Valdosta, northeast of the current location of Valdosta State University (Map from Google maps. Boundaries for Pine Park from Streetcars in Valdosta)

A wire had been strung across the pond, and the boys used it to hold themselves up in the water. When Frank, Herman, and Fred were holding onto the wire, it broke. Fred was able to get to shore, but Frank and Herman slipped underwater. Neither one of them could swim.
Some workmen nearby heard the screams of the group of boys and ran over. One of the men dived in to look for Frank and Herman. They had been under water about ten minutes by the time they were brought out. Men from the Edgewood Dairy hurried over and helped with resuscitation, but Frank and Herman could not be revived. They were wrapped in a sheet and loaded on a wagon from the dairy to be taken to town.
In the meantime, John Young Roberts jumped on his pony and rode to town to bring the sad news. He “was so excited that he could hardly talk,” so the family hoped what he told them wasn’t true. Frank and Herman’s father John and Dr. Ben Burton immediately headed for the pond but met the wagon carrying the boys on the way. The newspaper article said, “the grief stricken father stood mute and motionless over them. His frame shook with emotion, but the great grief which had come so unfairly upon him was too deep for tears.” Dr. Burton pronounced Frank and Herman dead, and their bodies were taken to the Parramore home on Central Avenue.
The funeral for Frank and Herman was held on Sunday, August 5, at four o’clock in the afternoon, and their two coffins were put in the same grave. The funeral procession was one of the largest “ever seen here and deep sorrow was felt by all.” The article noted that their mother Martha had had a premonition “of a great bereavement” some time before her sons drowned. She had already lost two children in the month of August (Susie in 1896 and Thompson in 1898). She had told a friend that she dreaded to see that month come. Now, two more of her children had died in August.
I can’t imagine the sorrow and pain in losing a child. John and Martha Parramore lost four children within a four-year time period.


Monday, May 18, 2015

More Writing About Doc Holliday

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about the book my dad and Susan (Susie) McKey Thomas wrote, In Search of the Hollidays: The story of Doc Holliday and His Holliday and McKey Families. (Susie is Doc’s cousin.) Not long after my post, author Victoria Wilcox contacted me. She’s written a trilogy about Doc Holliday, Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday.
Since then, we’ve corresponded a few times, and I’ve attended her talks about Doc here in Valdosta at the Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum. I’m very impressed with the amount of research she's done about Doc.
Victoria will be in Valdosta this coming Saturday, May 23, 2015, to talk about volumes 2 and 3 of her trilogy. I’m looking forward to it. Here’s a blurb from the Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum’s newsletter (used with permission).

Blurb about Victoria Wilcox's upcoming talk about Doc Holliday in Valdosta, Georgia
(used with permission of the Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum)

I’ve read the 1st volume, Inheritance. (I have both hard copy and ebook.) I could hardly put it down once I got started, and it was great to read about Doc’s early life in my home town! I could hear the southern accents in the dialog and see the scenes in the vivid descriptions. Most of all, I’m enjoying getting to know the man behind the legend.
I’ve started reading the 2nd volume, Gone West, in ebook format. The 3rd and last volume, The Last Decision, is just being released this month, May 2015. I’ll be getting hard copies of these as well. Must have them autographed!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Spanish-American War Veterans in Sunset Hill Cemetery

I love perusing the shelves in the genealogy room of my local library. I find things I probably wouldn’t have thought to look for (unless I needed them, of course). During one of my perusals, I came across a document titled Spanish-American War Veterans Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Georgia, Tombstone Inscriptions and Newspaper Accounts of Deaths.* I learned there's a plot in the cemetery where some of the veterans are buried. It's located in Section E106, Block 32 in Sunset Hill Cemetery and was bought in 1933 by the J. O. Varnedoe Camp #14 U.S.W.V. Many other Spanish-American War veterans are buried on family plots throughout the cemetery. Information about the veterans in the document was gleaned from newspapers, cemetery records, city directories, and surviving family members.

The Spanish-American War veterans plot at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta, Georgia

The Spanish-American War veterans listed in the document include soldiers who volunteered during the war with Spain in 1898, soldiers who stayed in the service, and soldiers who enlisted to keep the peace in Cuba and Puerto Rico after the peace treaty was signed on December 10, 1898, and approved by the U.S. Senate on February 6, 1899.
After the war, the William F. McKinley Camp was formed in Valdosta by a group of veterans. The name was changed in 1927 to J. O. Varnedoe Camp #14 to honor Major Varnedoe after his death.

Veterans buried in the Spanish-American War veterans plot are:

Allen Anderson
Andrew J. Anderson
John E. Cato
Frank B. Dawson
William B. Foster
Oscar S. Langford and his wife Janie Futch
James K. McNeal
Edward Newcomer
Joseph P Shearer

Veterans buried on family plots are:

Bentley B. Barfield
Charles Wesley Barnes
Hugh N. Beville
William T. Braswell
Reppard B. Caswell
George F. Connell
John S. Crumbley
James Warren Harper
Charles I. Harrell (husband of my great aunt Gertrude Pendleton)
Lucian Clive Holtzendorff
Augustus J. Ingram
Patrick John Linahan
Clayton McLaney
Charles Robert Minors
Henry Sims Morgan
John Cleveland Morgan
Charles L. Moseley
Roscoe Rouse
Andrew J. Sweat
Harry M. Ulmer
J. O. Varnedoe
Edward Armlain Vaught Sr.
Denny Hermon Vocke
Charter Hill Wilkinson
William Penn Yarbrough
William R. Youles

(Cemetery interactive map for burial locations

A granite monument to honor the Spanish American War veterans was erected in 1949 on the Ashley Street side of the “old” courthouse. (I say “old” courthouse, because a new courthouse was built in recent years further north on Ashley Street.)
U.S. troops occupied Cuba as part of the Spanish-American War from 1898 to 1902. My maternal grandfather William Liming Redles, who was a U.S. Marine, was sent to Cuba in September 1906 as part the Second Occupation of Cuba, also known as the Army of Cuban Pacification. He was in command of a small post in the interior of the island. In a report he tells of the stress he and his men were under, because they were “surrounded by insurrectos.” He returned to the U.S. in December 1907.

My maternal grandfather William Liming Redles in his uniform.
I don't know when this was taken.


*Spanish-American War Veterans Buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Georgia, Tombstone Inscriptions and Newspaper Accounts of Deaths. Compiled by Mrs. Joseph A. DeGange, Chapter Genealogical Records Committee Chairman, General James Jackson Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1995 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Silas Weeks, A Casualty of the Revolutionary War

In my post last year about my maternal 6th great grandmother Zillar Hunter, I wrote about the death of her husband Silas Weeks on May 22, 1778, during the American Revolution, and I said I didn't know if he was killed in the war or if he died of disease or wounds. The card record for him lists his death date beside "Casualties" (see below). I still don't know for sure how he died. In my search for information, I came across a write-up on a family tree that said he probably died at Valley Forge, General George Washington’s encampment. I believe this is the likely scenario.

The Revolutionary War card index record for Silas Weeks (from

Silas joined Donoho's Company of the 6th North Carolina regiment in 1777 and served under Col. Gideon Lamb.[1] During the time Silas was with them, this regiment fought in Pennsylvania in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. (I won't go into a description of the battles, but the links in the footnotes have more information.)
The battle of Brandywine took place on September 11, 1777. In an effort to stop the British advance on Philadelphia, the capital of the colonies, General Washington chose Chadds Ford on the Brandywine River as his defense. Outmaneuvered by the British led by General Howe, the Americans were defeated. They retreated to Chester, Pennsylvania, and the British finally took Philadelphia, on September 26, 1777.[2]
On October 2, 1777, General Washington came up with a plan to attack General Howe’s 9,000 troops stationed at Germantown (now a part of Philadelphia). The battle took place on October 4, but because of “bad luck and poor timing,” the Americans were again defeated. They retreated to Whitemarsh where they stayed for six weeks before leaving that December for Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on the Schuylkill River to spend the winter.[3]

Locations of Brandywine, Germantown, and Valley Forge (from Google Maps)
Click on the image for a larger view.

Silas survived these two battles, but camp conditions at Valley Forge were deplorable. Not only did the troops endure the harsh winter, but disease was rampant and there was very little to eat. Death was all around, and the men were demoralized and desperate. Some deserted. The weather improved a little by February, and by March, food and supplies finally started coming in. In April 1778, the American troops were turned into “a fighting force” by Baron von Steuben. The Americans learned of the French alliance in May 1778 which meant military and financial support would be forthcoming. I hope Silas was able to feel the renewed strength of the Army. He may have been too sick to be much aware of it. He was dead by the time the Americans left Valley Forge in June 1778, ready to fight and heading for the Delaware River to cross into New Jersey.[4] 
I believe Silas probably died of disease. I don’t think he could have languished from December to May with a wound in the terrible camp conditions. I didn’t find him in a search of the muster roll on the Valley Forge Legacy website. The website says many records have been lost over time, so what they have isn’t complete.[5]
Silas, like countless others, gave his life in the fight for American freedom. He aided in that struggle, but he never knew that the Americans were victorious in their fight.



[1] Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War. Database online; Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution. Reprinted for Clearfield Company, Inc. by Genealogical Publishing Col, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 2000, 2003. Originally published by The North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, Durham, 1932, pp. 85, 91.

[2] "History of the Battle of the Brandywine." Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015.

[3] "The Battle of Germantown." The Philadelphia Campaign 1777.  Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015; "Whitemarsh." Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015; "What Happened at Valley Forge." Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015.

[4] "What Happened at Valley Forge." Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015.

[5] Valley Forge Legacy. The Muster Roll Project. Electronic document,, accessed February 9, 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

John Devane, Jr. - Revolutionary War Soldier

While researching my maternal 4th great grandmother Ann Davis for a 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post last year, I came across a Revolutionary War pension record for her husband, my 4th great grandfather John Devane, Jr. I not only learned from these records where he served and what he did but that he was held prisoner for a short while by the British.
John and his brother James were living in New Hanover County, North Carolina, when they enlisted as minutemen in November 1775. John was almost 20 years old, and James was 18. They both served six months in a company commanded by their father John Devane, Sr. that was attached to a regiment under the command of Col. Lillington.

New Hanover County, North Carolina as of 1760 (map from

While serving this tour, they marched from Black River Chapel to Wilmington. From there they went northwest to Rockfish west of Fayetteville (then called Cross Creek) in Cumberland County. They then marched back south to Elizabethtown in Bladen County and boated down the Cape Fear River until they reached the Black River. They went up the Black River to its junction with Bear Branch where they disembarked and marched to Long Creek bridge. They were ordered to Moores Creek bridge and then to Corbett’s ferry. They got as far as Colvins Creek and were ordered back to Moores Creek bridge where the battle took place against the British on February 27, 1776. John was part of a reconnoitering party during the battle.

Some of the locations John Devane went before the battle of Moores Creek bridge
(Google maps. Labels added)

The location of Moores Creek Battlefield, southwest of Currie, North Carolina (Google Earth)

After a few days’ furlough, the regiment marched to Wilmington and patrolled up and down the Cape Fear River in the vicinity of Wilmington until the end of their six-month tour. John and James were discharged in June 1776. Shortly after, they joined up again in New Hanover under Captain Thomas Devane (probably their uncle). They marched to Wilmington and stayed until they were discharged after serving one month in the Fall of 1776.
John entered the service again the following year in the Fall of 1777 as a 1st Lieutenant with a company under the command of Captain Ellis stationed at Fort Johnston. As part of his duties, he was sometimes sent out to obtain additional troops. He had served at the fort for three years when he was taken prisoner by the British in July 1780.

Location of Fort Johnston in Southport, North Carolina, southwest of Wilmington (Google Earth)

A British ship had arrived outside of Fort Johnston disguised as an American ship—it was flying the American flag. The commander came on shore and had dinner at the fort. He invited John to go back to his ship with him. Once on board, John realized his mistake. The British took his commission (a document signed by the governor stating his rank) and the cockade from his hat. They let him go after a few days and sent him back to shore. He made his way to Wilmington but was turned away.
John contracted small pox while on the ship, so fearing it would spread among them, the people of Wilmington wouldn’t let him stay in town. James Devane testified that John was sent to Halfway Bluff on Long Creek. Francis Davis said that John was sent to Oak Island. John’s father had a slave named Frank go to him to nurse him back to health. He recovered a short time later and returned home.
Francis Davis said in his testimony that in 1781, John served as a captain of a company of New Hanover cavalry. However, James said John served as a private in a New Hanover cavalry commanded by William Wright and marched over the counties of Hanover and Duplin. Both Francis and James agree on the time frame of this service of about three months. (Keep in mind that these testimonies were given many decades after the events happened.)
After the war ended, John married Ann Davis in 1785, and by the 1790 census, they were living in Bladen County, North Carolina. They had seven children. John died of a fever in Wilmington in June 1802, six months before his 47th birthday. 
Piecing together John's military service during the American Revolution was eye opening. Instead of just a name in my family tree, John Devane became a young, flesh and blood soldier fighting for American Independence against the British.



"Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900," digital images, (, entry for John Devane and Ann Julan Devane, Pension Number W3961.

"Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900," digital images, (, entry for Francis Davis, Pension Number S8290.

"Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900," digital images, (, entry for James Devane, Pension Number S8317.