Sign Me Up For Dead Files, My Ancestor Is Still Here!

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I’m serious.  No, really.  I am.

I have recently secured top secret information that my 4th Great-Grandfather is haunting the residents of Jackson County, Florida, and is known as “The Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”.

Ok, it’s not really top secret, any google search for Francis Tyler Allen, aged 76, who died at the Battle of Marianna, in Jackson Co., Florida on the 27th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1864, will tell you that he was burned alive in a church by Union soldiers and that he still haunts the area.

I wrote a while back about my unusual attachment to the dead, I never dreamed when I wrote that a couple of years ago that I would actually, maybe, not really, but I should, call in some people to send gramps to the other side.

I mean, really, how can I leave him out there floating around in despair?

I’m sure you would really like some clarification of the actual events, and I will do my best to relay what I have found. First, here is my link to Frank Allen.

Lineage from Susie to Frank Allen

Lineage from Susie to Frank Allen

First, I had this bible record, of my 3rd great-grandfather, John James Triggs.  He was married to Nancy Allen, my 3rd great-grandmother and the daughter of Frank Allen.  In this bible record, recording the date of his wife’s birth, John Triggs writes, “Nancy Allen was born in Columbia County, Georgia September 21, 1821.  She was the daughter of Francis T. Allen and Jane Allen”

Then I found Frank’s headstone on Find A Grave.

Frank Allen Headstone

Frank Allen Headstone

 

So I thought, ‘Battle of Marianna? Let me just see what I can find out about that.’ Which led me to the website of “The West Florida War” by Dale A. Cox.  He states the following regarding Frank Allen:

Allen, Francis “Frank.” A senior deacon and Sunday School leader at the Greenwood Baptist Church, the 76-year-old Allen was the oldest man killed in the Battle of Marianna. His body was burned beyond recognition in St. Luke’s Church.

NO WAY!!!!!  I’m not going to lie, I cried.  What a horrible way to go.  My gramps must have suffered something horrible.  To further my pain in this situation, I ordered Dale’s book, “The Battle of Marianna, Florida” to which I found this account by Armstrong Purdee, an eight year old boy who watched the scene from horseback.

All of the soldiers were off their horses.  Orders were given to fire the church.  Three men, two with long poles, and one with what seemed to me to be a can, threw something up on the church and the other two having something on the end of their poles, seemed to rub it high as the poles would reach, after which something like twisted paper was lighted and placed to whatever was put on the church and it blazed up.  Men were shot down as they came out of the building.

Only Frank Allen didn’t run out of the building, he stayed inside.  Along with three other men, John Carter, Littleton Myrick, and Woodbury Nickels.

According to the West Florida News, on October 3, 1864, Frank and John Carter were “only recognized by articles on their persons, or the parts of their bodies not entirely consumed.”

How horrific!!!  There is greater detail of this battle and of the firing of the church inside Dale Cox’s book.  It’s an interesting read, but tragic for me.  My poor gramps.  What a hero!  The sacrifice he made that day, is the reason I am here today, and I will forever be grateful for that.  I’ve reached out to Dale Cox, and I hope I hear back from him.  I would love to know if Mr. Cox can shed more light on this whole situation for me, and give me more information on Frank.

Now let’s get to the root of this blog post, according to another one of Dale Cox’s books, “The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge“, Frank is still hanging around as the “Ghost of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church”.  Here’s a small clip from Dale’s very interesting book:

According to accounts given by several elderly members of the church in the 1980’s, St. Luke’s was said to be haunted by the shadowy figure of a Confederate soldier.  He supposedly frequented the lower levels of the church and could be seen there at night, drifting along and apparently oblivious to those who witnessed him.  The figure was invariably described as an “old man, with a long beard.”  He carried a musket and never spoke or otherwise recognized that he was appearing to the people in a time other than his own.

Of the two men found inside the ruins of the church (after the burning in 1864, John Carter age 22 and Frank Allen age 76), only Francis Allen would match the description of the elderly ghost.  At age 76, he was one of the oldest men to fight in the battle.  Since the ghost is described as an elderly man with a long beard, it seems likely that it represents Mr. Allen, although no photograph or portrait of him is known to survive.

Nooooooo.  Say it isn’t so.  Now I’m going to have to find Steve Di Schiavi and Amy Allen (Wait, what?  What if Frank is her ancestor too??) and see if they can put gramps to rest.  I don’t know how much I believe in all that ghost stuff for real, but if there is any chance my gramps is hanging around reliving the most horrible day of his life, and his death, that’s got to stop.

If this doesn’t work, who you gonna call?  Ghost Busters!!  Sorry, I had too.  I’m an 80’s girl and with the recent remake of the movie, which I LOVED, I just had to go there.

Either way, maybe next summer I’ll have an opportunity to take a road trip down to Jackson County, Florida and see if I can get gramps put to rest.  I would say after 152 years, it’s time he got a well deserved break.

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Family Tree Maker to Retire

The genealogy community is all a buzz due to the announcement two days ago by Ancestry.com that they would be retiring and no longer supporting their software program, Family Tree Maker.  As a FTM user, this news was very upsetting to me. I have spent many hours of my life building my family tree online with Ancestry.com, using FTM. You can view their announcement at their blog site, http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/08/ancestry-to-retire-family-tree-maker-software/.

Since the announcement, I have calmed down and the initial panic has worn off.  I have decided to sit this out for a while before I make any major changes to the way I do my genealogy work.  After all, we have until January of 2017.  I know other family tree software companies will use this time of panic to make sweet offers for the panicked masses of FTM users to switch to their products, which is tempting I admit. But for now, I will wait it out and see what else happens or comes about.

First though, I have to say to Ancestry.com that your timing on this deal is pretty crappy.  You won’t be offering FTM for sale after Dec 31, 2015 and you announced this on Dec 8, 2015.  Seventeen days before Christmas.  I’m sure most people, like myself, are already budgeted to the max.  I bought the program and downloaded it to my laptop, without ever getting the setup disk.  So of course I would like to now buy the disk so that if my laptop crashes, I can at least add the program back to a new computer.  That would be $79 I wasn’t expecting to spend with such short notice, right in the middle of the holiday season.  My children thank you.  They will now have to believe again in Santa Claus if they want their stocking filled up.

The reason I use the FTM program is because I need to print my work out, run reports, see cousin relations, etc. I also use the program, to catch errors, and make mass changes at once.  Here is an example of a report I always use when researching.  I keep this right in front of me when working on a line, this way I know all the players and dates for reference.

Me to John Floyd Ball

The main reason I will sit this out before switching to another software program is the tree sync feature that FTM offered with Ancestry.com.  I spend many hours working on my family tree.  Sometimes I work from Ancestry.com, and sometimes I work directly in the software, offline.  When I go back online, FTM automatically syncs my data from the software to my tree online.  That means, any changes I made on Ancestry.com is downloaded and updated to my software program, and any changes I made in the program is uploaded to Ancestry.com and my tree there is updated.  This means I do not have to do double the work, and my tree is exactly the same in both locations, online and offline.

At this point if I switch to another software program, any changes I make to my tree, will have to be manually made in two places.  In the program, and on my ancestry.com tree. In the past, before I used FTM tree sync, this meant I would get on a roll, working away on Ancestry.com and not even really remember what all I had changed, and then have to remember to make the same changes in the software program. Inevitably, this meant I would forget to make one or two of the changes and then my data is comprised and not correct, and doesn’t match in both places.

And yes, I know I can just do my work on Ancestry.com and then extract a gedcom, upload in my program and then they match.  I don’t want to go through that every time I make changes.  I want a program to sync with Ancestry.com.  Hopefully, one of the other programs will step up and make the sync with Ancestry.com a possibility, and if they do, that is who I will switch to.

The other major problem with them discontinuing the program, is all the reporting that the software program has, that Ancestry.com does not have.  I use these reports daily, in one way or another, and ancestry.com only offers reports that you have to pay to get.  I’m definitely not paying them to print out a copy of the work I have done myself. Never will that happen.  In fact, if they would just add the reporting abilities to their website, then I would be more than happy to do most of my work online on their website and then back up my tree to my computer any time I make changes.

This announcement two days once again fostered my fear of what will happen to my family tree when I am gone?  How do I keep my work up to date, all together, less confusing and easily accessible to my descendants or any family members that are interested? What if the one way I have decided to keep my information becomes obsolete and all my work is lost before another family member becomes interested?

I know for a fact, all this paper work I have lying around, will probably just get trashed when I am gone.  My kids are not going to look at all the data I have collected in these binders and boxes.  My hope was to get all this information, photos, maps, letters, diaries and etc, integrated into my tree, easily accessible on the computer and then maybe someone would be interested if it was all easily searchable and organized all together.  I know, I know, you are laughing at me right now.  No family historian ever really accomplishes this.  But I had planned to die trying.  LOL!

So, my new goal for 2016 will be to come up with a plan for all my work, and figure out the best way to save all this for future generations so that it doesn’t end up in the dump when I die, or better yet, die out with an obsolete computer program.

In a way, I guess this is a big thank you to Ancestry.com for waking me up enough to realize that my work will not survive solely in a computer program, with reports lying around in binders.

Throwback Thursday – Chairs From The Past

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This picture of my Dad and I, as you can see, goes way back.  The chair he is in, has been in the barn for the past decade or so, along with its mate.

Me and Dad

Me and Dad

I realize you can only see the back of the chair, but it’s the only picture I could find of the chair actually being used.

Every time I mowed my yard and put the mower up, there sat the chairs.  One of them held the grease gun for the mower, and it just happens to be the only picture I have of it before we took it apart.  You can see the left over mess the grease gun left.  I just couldn’t stand seeing them in the barn, especially when I could use a couple of good chairs.

Old Chair

Old Chair

So I drug them from the barn to the house and Phillip and I spent part of Valentine’s Day taking them apart. Then a few days later I recovered the cushions, with the help of Phillip’s upholstery gun. Man I loved that thing.  I wanted to staple everything.  Even my finger got stapled once.

New Cushions

New Cushions

Next, I used his sander, and sanded the chairs really good, and then spray painted them with a combined paint/primer spray paint i bought from Lowe’s.  Cause I don’t have time for multiple paintings.  By the way, I used 2 1/2 cans for these two chairs.

Chairs being painted

Chairs being painted

Then I made patterns out of the old pieces of leather Phillip took off of the top parts of the chairs with freezer paper.  Ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper to the new fabric, and then cut them out and it worked perfect.  Then I added some shiny brads to the back to add a little detail.

Adding details to the chairs

Adding details to the chairs

Please ignore laundry day going on in the back ground.  Phillip then screwed the cushions back on, and here they are.  My redone chairs that hold special memories for me.

Finished Chairs

Finished Chairs

How is this for a before and an after?

Before and After

Before and After

All in all, I am so pleased.  I saved some family heirlooms from the barn, and added new life to them.

I also got to spend Valentine’s day with a great guy.

Thank you Phillip for helping me.

Remembering Gary Higginbotham

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I feel like I can finally write about Gary, and what his loss means to me, so here goes.

Gary Higginbotham

Gary Higginbotham

I wish I could say that I had known Gary my whole life but that’s just not how it was. My parents, both born and raised in Texarkana, moved away to the Little Rock area before I was ever born. I didn’t have the privilege of growing up around my paternal grandparents, or any of my aunts, uncles, or even any of the many cousins I didn’t even know about. I didn’t even know another Higginbotham relative existed outside of my immediate family unit, until 2011.

I met Gary for the first time on the 23rd day of May, 2011 when a desire to know more about my family became a mission of sorts. Cousin Nedra Turney took me to meet Gary and Bessie. We had an instant connection and Gary filled a gap in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. After that first meeting, we spent hours, and if you know Gary at all, you know I truly mean hours, chatting on the phone. These chats almost always pertained to his love of his family. I learned about my grandparents from him. I learned about his parents, his children and his grandchildren. He had a passion for his family, unlike any I have ever seen before.

Gary and Bessie

Gary and Bessie

His love for Bessie, was evident and strong. I admired his devotion to her. He told me one time, “Every morning Bessie and I get up and have coffee together and sit and talk. Sometimes we talk for a long time, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes I just enjoy her presence before we even start our day. She’s my everything and there isn’t one thing I will ever want to do or will do if Bessie isn’t included.” He was devoted to her and loved her immensely, and it showed.

Gary and Bessie

Gary and Bessie

The day of Gary’s funeral Bessie, who just happens to be the strongest woman I have ever known, told me, “When I first met Gary, I didn’t know how to love. I was bitter. I thought all men were mean and I didn’t even know how to hug my own children because that isn’t how I was raised. Gary taught me to love. His endless hugs, and kind words, and his constant loving affection towards me, taught me how to love. ”

What a true testament to the character of Gary. He also taught me what love was and what was missing from my life, just by how he treated Bessie. I see the same in my father towards my mother. Gary and Bessie were married 46 years, and my parents have been married for 50 years, just this past September. What strong, wonderful Higginbotham men.

I learned many things from Gary. I would come for visits and we would drive all over town and he would point out all the places that were dear to his heart, and they were always centered around his family, past or present. I heard the stories of his childhood, his youth, and his adulthood. We laughed and always had a good time when we were together.

I know how much he loved his children and grandchildren. I already knew his youngest son Milton, but he wanted me to meet his son’s Gary Jr., and Mike so bad. He would call me up and say, “When are you going to Crossett with me? Mike is coming in town can you come? Don’t wait until my funeral to meet my boys!” Sadly, that is just what happened. Gary’s health seemed to decline and he never really felt like he could get far from home. I’m sure Gary knows that even though I met them at his funeral, we will stay in touch and never lose track of the family again, because that was important to him.

In the short time that I knew Gary, he taught me what true love means. He opened his heart and his home to me and treated me like a daughter. I will never forget the wonderful times I spent with him and they will fill my heart forever more. He was like a father to me, and I will always love him dearly. He was my buddy, through and through and I will always be grateful for the time I was given with him.

The best way to honor Gary is to love your family. Show them what love is, and let nothing get in the way. If you love someone, don’t waste time. Show them. Treat them like Gary treated Bessie. Life can go in an instant. Do you want to leave people wondering how much you loved them? I can guarantee you one thing; no one around Gary could ever doubt that he didn’t love him or her. He showed them, and he told them.

What I wouldn’t give for one his teddy bear hugs right now!

Rest in peace, Gary. I miss you.

Category: Memoriam

RIP – Gary Higginbotham

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Oh boy, this is a hard one to write.  My Dad’s first cousin Gary Higginbotham passed away last night from a heart attack.  I don’t even have the words right now to describe what Gary meant to me.   He was my buddy, and I loved him so dearly.  My heart will have an empty hole in it forever more.

Please pray for Bessie his wife, and their children and grandchildren.  It will be tough days ahead.

Bessie and Gary Higginbotham

Bessie and Gary Higginbotham

Remember our deal, Gary, and I’ll see you when I see you.

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