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52 Ancestors – #16 Howell Holley

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I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us: 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.

This is week 16, and my sixteenth post in the challenge.  This week, I’m reporting on Howell Holley.  Howell is my 4th great-grandfather.  I didn’t even know about Howell until a couple of weeks ago, when cousin Harry Short (Hi Harry!) sent me an email telling me he had figured out the father of our 3rd great-grandmother, Jane Harriette (Holley) Higginbotham.  It wasn’t until last week that I had time to sit and search out Howell and Wowza!!!  What an interesting character this man is!!

Before I go into the fascinating court documents about Howell that I have since found, I have to share with you how I think we blew a long believed family tale out of the water when cousin Harry found Howell.  MAYBE.

You see, I had always heard that my 3rd great-grandmother Jane was an Indian, and had been adopted by the Holley’s and raised as their own child.  I had found all the Dawes Packet’s from her granddaughter’s family trying to prove they had Indian blood, which was denied.

I decided to look through my DNA matches on and see if I could find any matches to Holley.  I found a 4th cousin match to a sister of Jane’s.

This is what a DNA match looks like on Ancestry if you both have the shared ancestor in your tree.

DNA Match to faye6746 - Holley McCoy Ancestors

DNA Match to faye6746 – Holley McCoy Ancestors

So, if Jane was adopted how do I match her sister Mary Ann’s descendant? Cousin Harry said he had this same match, and some others. I didn’t look for any others yet as I ran out of time that day, but I imagine unless all of their children were adopted and had the same Indian parents, the story about Jane is just not true unless Howell or Elizabeth was an Indian and the story got distorted over time. Who knows!  I know my DNA results do not show any Native American ancestry in them.

Court documents show Elizabeth filed for a divorce from Howell in 1848. Here is the abstract of the court documents:

In 1787, Elizabeth Holley married Howell Holley in Edgefield District, South Carolina. In 1827 or 1828, after forty years of marriage, Elizabeth charges that Howell began an illicit relationship with Nancy Hodge. She writes that it was then that he began to beat her “with various Instruments sometimes with his fists sometimes with a hickory at other times with a cowhide and very often threatened her life.” She claims that Howell left their domicile, taking Nancy with him to Georgia, and then to Alabama, and abandoning her and their nine children. Later, the couple reconciled, but in 1830 Howell again became violent and Elizabeth fled for her life. Elizabeth claims that Howell now lives with Nancy and their illegitimate offspring, six or seven in number. According to Elizabeth, Howell is old and senile; and he possesses a large estate, including a “valuable set of mills,” horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, “a large quantity of money,” and fifteen slaves, five men, four women, and six children. Elizabeth, too, is very old, and unable to support herself. She asks for a divorce and alimony. In his related answer, Howell denies all charges of violence against his wife and denies that Nancy Hodge lives in his house. He counter charges that Elizabeth was a difficult, dissatisfied, and jealous woman, who made his life unbearable.

This was reported by the Digital Library on American Slavery, which you can view here, Petition 20184802 Details.

What’s up with Howell?  Deserting his family, beating my great-grandmother Elizabeth, how dare he!  I think Elizabeth must have been very brave to bring the case against him in that day and time.

I’m not letting ole’ Nancy Hodge off the hook either, she has some explaining to do!

I’ve looked to see what Elizabeth’s maiden name is, and it’s different on every tree of course. I’ve seen McCoy, Hampton, Seaton, but I haven’t found a marriage record from 1787 in Edgefield, South Carolina for Elizabeth and Howell so that is on the ToDo List!

And, technically, I haven’t really found any definite piece of paper that says Jane is their daughter.  Just the DNA test, but it’s a good starting place. I think I will try to see about getting a copy of those court records from Tallapoosa, Alabama.  Maybe there are more details in there that might offer up some clues.  Wouldn’t it be great if it listed Howell and Elizabeth’s children by name!

I found Howell Holley listed on the 1850 Mortality Schedule in the Western Division of Chickasaw County, Mississippi.  He died in September 1849, after four months of consumption.  It states he was 84 years old, so that puts him being born around 1765.

1850 Mortality Sch Howell Holley

1850 Mortality Schedule Howell Holley

This is how I descend from Howell Holley:

susie to Howell Holley

Amanuensis Monday – Letters From The Past

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For the past two weeks, I have shared with you letters my great-grandmother Dona had written to New Orleans in search of the Boullemet family.  The first week, she inquired with the New Orleans Post Office as to their whereabouts.  The second week, the post office responded and so did a Boullemet. 

This week, I will share what I assume was a draft letter of what she had mailed to Mrs. Bartels, the daughter of Stephen Boullemet and Elizabeth Williams.

Letter 04 from Dona Higginbotham to Mrs. Bartel

Letter 04 from Dona Higginbotham to Mrs. Bartel


Texarkana, Ark.

Mrs. Bartel.

Dear Madam,

Your address, 3506 Camp Street; was given me by Mrs. N.B. Boullemet to whom I wrote for information concerning the family of Mr. Stephen Boullemet; and while she did not state positively that you were his daughter, at the same time she left that impression.

If you are his daughter, will you kindly advise me so that I may write you more freely about my father F.H. Williams, who is very old and feeble and whose life is nearing it’s close?

If I am mistaken in assuming that you are the Mrs. Bartel referred to please pardon me, and if possible you would tell me any believe   [note:  this is scratched through on original document]

Hoping to hear from you at an early date I am

Very Truly Yours –

Then I believe she received a reply from Mrs. Bartels.

Letter 05 to Dona from Mrs. A A Bartels

Letter 05 to Dona from Mrs. A A Bartels



New Orleans
Nov’ 22nd 1917

Mrs. R. F. Higginbotham

Dear Madam,

A few days since I received thro’ the widow of a relative, a letter written by you inquiring about the children of our Stephen Boullemet as his eldest daughter I am writing you. My three brothers have passed away, leaving but my sister and myself both widows. There is some mistake as regards names, my mother was Miss Watkins, not Williams, she had but one brother reaching manhood, whom she never saw after the civil war, he married secretly, a young woman employed and trusted by my parents; as his life had brought little but sorrow to his family there was little grief at his loss.

This is about all I can tell you, there is evidently some confusion.


(Mrs.) A.A. Bartels.

So, there you have it.

Mrs. Bartels writes back and deny’s that F.H. Williams is any kin. But, this doesn’t sit well with Dona, and she responds! Check back next Monday for the final two letters! These final letters, you will NOT want to miss! I bet I get my moxie from Dona!

52 Ancestors – #15 Hellen Mariah (Dennard) Ball

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I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us:52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.

This is week fifteen, and my fifteenth post in the challenge.  This week, I’m sharing information of my 3rd great-grandmother Hellen Mariah (Dennard) Ball.  Sadly, I don’t have a photo of her, and I don’t know very much about her.

Hellen was born on 16 Nov 1819 in Twiggs, Co., Georgia, the daughter of Kenady Dennard and Sarah (Spurlock) Dennard.

She married John Floyd Ball on 24 January 1837.  You can see her marriage record and census information I had for her on last week’s challenge post, 52 Ancestors – #14 John Floyd Ball.

I don’t know much more about Hellen, other than I do know where she is buried.  She is buried in the North Side Cemetery, in Lumpkin, Stewart Co., Georgia.

Hellen (Dennard) Ball Headstone

Hellen (Dennard) Ball Headstone

This is a short and sweet 52 Ancestor week just from a lack of knowledge about Hellen but I wanted to post about her since I posted about her husband last week.

We are moving right along in this challenge, I can’t believe this is week 15 already! Just 37 more to go!

Tombstone Tuesday – Leaving Rocks on Headstones

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When I went to Texarkana a couple of weeks ago, I went by some of my ancestor’s graves and replaced some flowers, and left some rocks.

Rev. Williams' Headstone

Rev. Williams’ Headstone

Yes, I said rocks.

I’m sure you are wondering why I would leave a rock.  Traditionally,  I believe it’s a Jewish custom to leave a rock when you visit a grave.  It means you remember the person you are leaving it for.  The way I understand it to work, anytime you think of a person who has passed away, you stop right there, and pick up a rock.  Then, the next time you visit their grave, you leave the rock.

Now, I’m not Jewish but I think it’s a great way for anyone, no matter the religion or ethnicity to leave a reminder that someone was there, and the person the rock was left for, isn’t forgotten.

In the picture above, you can see that the rock was painted and written on (I love you Pinterest), it says, “At Rest with God” and I thought this one was appropriate for Rev. Williams’ grave, my 2nd great-grandfather.  I also put the cross out there with the flowers on it.

I put flowers on the headstone of my great-grandparents, Rufus and Dona (Williams) Higginbotham.  I didn’t leave them a rock though because sadly I had forgotten the bag of rocks when I was putting the flowers on.

Rufus and Dona Higginbotham Headstone

Rufus and Dona Higginbotham Headstone

Next, over at East Memorial Gardens, I replaced the flowers on my grandfather and grandmother’s headstone.  I had already put this rock there sometime last year, and I was actually very pleased that it was still there, and the paint is holding up well and it still looks really good.  This rock says, “Until we meet again.”

Earl and Edna Higginbotham Headstone

Earl and Edna Higginbotham Headstone

Then at Harmony Grove, I put a rock on my great-grandparents headstone, Major and Mollie Harris. Everyone called them “Big Mama & Grandpa”, so that is what their rock says.

Major and Mollie Harris Headstone

Major and Mollie Harris Headstone

I also left one for Uncle Doc, Joseph William Harris.  His says, “Rest in Peace”.

Uncle Doc's Headstone

Uncle Doc’s Headstone

I couldn’t leave out my 2nd great-grandparents, James Ed and Martha Alice (Herring) Harris.  Their’s is just a painted rock with a bird on it.

Ed and Alice Harris Headstone

Ed and Alice Harris Headstone

How’s that for added flare to a headstone?

I think I’ll do more of these rocks and take them next time I go!

Thank you to Alix, for painting this set of rocks for me.

Amanuensis Monday – Letters from the Past

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Last week, on Amanuensis Monday – Letters from the Past, I shared a letter with you that my great-grandmother Dona (Williams) Higginbotham had written to the New Orleans Post Office making an inquiry into the whereabouts of the family of Elizabeth (Williams) Boullemet and her husband Stephen Boullemet.

This week, they replied!

Reply From New Orleans Post Office

Reply From New Orleans Post Office



United States Post Office
New Orleans, LA
November 10, 1917.

Respectfully returned to Inquiry from Mrs. R F Higginbotham, re Stepehen Boullimet or Miss Elizabeth Williams et ale.

Mrs. R F Higginbotham
R F D 3, Box 45
Texarkana, Ark.

In reference to your communication herewith, I beg leave to advise that our city directory shows the following: Mrs. S C Boullemet or Mrs. Nettie B Boullemet, 2695 St. Charles. Mrs. Libby Bartell, 2126 St. Thomas. Mrs. Ada Bartell, 2315 Banks St. Mrs Rusk’s name is not shown in directory.


She also received this letter, apparently around the same time according to the postmarks.

Letter From N B Boullemet

Letter From N B Boullemet



2625 Saint Charles Avenue
New Orleans

Mrs. R. F. Higginbotham

Dear Madam,

You letter of inquiry about Mr. Stephen Boullemet’s family was recv’d this afternoon – will mail your letter to Mrs. Bartels whose address is 3506 Camp Street.

Very Truly Yours,
N B Boullemet

Nov 15 – ’17

Well, now she has found them! Will Dona get the response and answers she hopes for? Has she found her father’s family?

Next week, I will share the next letter.

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