Tag Archives: Hooks

Treasure Chest Thursday – Notes from the Past

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Since I started this journey in 2007, I have wished and wished that I would have asked my grandmother Mary Ball Parks about her family.

Many times, I have said to myself or whoever is listening to the fool things I say, “Just send me a clue, a sign, anything!”

But, haven’t we all??  It is the biggest regret of almost every family historian and genealogist I know.  Everyone wishes they could ask just one more question. We all know that its impossible to ask anymore questions so I ask for signs or clues.

Well, I got a sign! Well, not a sign, but a note and that’s even better!

Jealous?

Ok, not yet, but you will be.

I went to visit my cousin Karen Ball Cowan and she was kind enough to drag out all of the family memorabilia that her mother and father had saved and let me bring it home to scan. Well among all the stuff, was todays Treasure Chest Thursday topic.

Karen had a note that my 2nd great-grandmother, Venetia Smith Ball had written.  Full of her family history! She mentions the Balls, the Hooks, the Roberts and talks about her husband. So many people she mentions!

Woot! Woot!

So, check this out and be jealous!

Venetia Smith Ball's Notes Side 1

Venetia Smith Ball’s Notes Side 1. Digital Image 2013, by Susie Reynolds. Original held by Karen Ball Cowan of Texarkana, Texas.

Venetia Smith Ball's Notes Side 2

Venetia Smith Ball’s notes Side 2. Digital Image, 2013 by Susie Reynolds. Original Image held by Karen Ball Cowan of Texarkana, Texas.

I kid, I kid (as Knucklehead would say), don’t be jealous.  Just search out your cousins and see what they have.  If they aren’t interested in genealogy, they may not even know what they have and you might just find a treasure like I did!

Who wouldn’t like to get a note from the past?  Now I got clues for more digging!

Happy treasure hunting!

Susie

Rev. Francis Hereford Williams – Part II

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I’m back with Part II of my discovery of the Rev. Francis Hereford Williams.  If you missed Part I, that’s ok.  You can find it here.

At this point in my research, what I know about Rev. Williams is that he was born in St. Louis in 1843, and that he is indeed the father of my Dona Williams Higginbotham.

What I don’t know is his date of death, Mildred’s (his wife) date of death or where they are buried.

I knew from information gathered that Dona and her husband Rufus were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.  After a little research I discovered that Minnie and her husband Charles Hooks were buried in Hillcrest Cemetery  and so I headed out to get pictures of both of their headstones, and I was hoping that around one of their graves, I would come across Rev. Williams and Mildred’s headstone.

Rufus F. and Dona A. Higginbotham Headstone

Here is Dona and Rufus’ headstone, which looks to be in a plot of about six graves, but theirs is the only headstone in the plot and I didn’t find Rev. Williams’ or Mildred’s headstone anywhere else in Woodlawn.  If it was once there, it is gone now.

So I headed over to Hillcrest and I found Minnie’s headstone beside her husbands, Charles A. Hooks.

Minnie W Hooks Headstone  Charles A Hooks Headstone

The office had no record of Rev. Williams or his wife Sarah Mildred Martin Williams as being buried in this cemetery and of course, there was no other headstone around Minnie and Charles’.

But wait, what is that on Minnie’s headstone?

A Daughters of the American Revolution symbol!

Booyah!!

When I got home I got on the computer straight away.  started looking up DAR applications for Minnie, and Booyah!!  Found it! Paid for it, downloaded it, and prayed the whole time it was loading up on my computer for death dates for Rev. Williams and Sarah Mildred Martin Williams.

In her application which was dated the 9th of January, 1914, this is how her parents were listed:
Minnie Williams Hooks DAR app parents FHW SMMW

She states:  “I am the daughter of Francis H. Williams born 1843, died ____ and his 2nd wife Sarah M. Martin born 1856, died ______ married 1877.”

Wait.

What?

His 2nd wife??

Who’s the first?

And where are the death dates dad burn it?!?!?!

At this point I can only surmise that when Minnie filled out the application in 1914 they were both still alive.   I couldn’t find Rev. Williams on the 1920 census, but I did find his wife Mildred, widowed and living with the Yarbrough family as a roomer.

1920 Census Mildred Wiliams

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one.  I know that there are some Yarbrough’s in the family on the Higginbotham side so I can see that this could happen.  I’m just not sure why she wasn’t living with either Dona or Minnie.  They were all alive at this time.  I’ll probably never know the answer to this one.

During this time, I made a visit to my Aunt Jane who was in declining health and we chatted and visited and I showed her what all I had discovered and she was very interested but her memory was failing her and she couldn’t help much with information.  She did tell me she had some boxes with some stuff in them that I could have, and so Uncle Charlie (Starks) dug them out and gave them to me and I hit the mother lode!

What I thought at first to be a lot of Higginbotham photos and such, ended up being a lot of stuff from the Williams.    It was in this stuff that I discovered that Rev. Williams, was a minister, that he had probably been in the war between the states and that he had been in the Austin Confederate Home following the war between the states.

See this box?

Williams box of lettersIt was full of letters to the Williams family.   There were quite a few letters in here from Charles to Minnie when he was away at school and working in a pharmacy.  There were letters from some of Mildred’s Dial cousins in Louisiana.

Here are some pictures of the Williams’ that I found in the boxes as well:

Dona, Mildred, and Minnie Williams

Dona is on the left, Mildred in the middle and Minnie on the right.

FH and Mildred WilliamsRev. Williams, I believe this is either Earl or Milton Higginbotham in the middle but not sure which one, and Mildred Williams on the right.

Earl Higginbotham 1901

This is my grandfather Earl Higginbotham in 1901, this photo was in the box and what I love so much about this picture is that Rev. Williams wrote on the back of the photo: “Twinkle to his old Granddad”.  I found that to be so sweet and it really just touched me.

FH WilliamsRev. Williams again.  I wish I could tell more about this picture and where he was.  It’s really blurry though.

F H WilliamsEarl had written on the back of this photo, Grandfather Williams.  It was so faded that you can barely make out his facial features.  I wish I could see his eyes.

Mildred Martin Williams

Mildred Martin Williams.  What a very regal picture.  I have such beautiful ancestors!!

Minnie Williams Hooks

Minnie Williams Hooks.  What a beautiful picture.

Dona HigginbothamDona Higginbotham.  This picture did not come from this box, Gary Higginbotham gave me this picture, but I didn’t want to leave her out because there wasn’t one of her in the box.  I love this picture though.

Booyah!!  What a great discovery of pictures and letters!  How lucky am I that Aunt Jane remembered them, and that Uncle Charlie got them out and gave them to me.  I will be forever grateful, from the bottom of my heart and I can’t say it enough.

So, at this point of my journey, I still had no death for Rev. Williams, but I have it down to being between 1914, the date of Minnie’s DAR application and 1920 when Mildred appears on the census as a widow.  A very thorough search of all Texarkana cemeteries has left me dry as well.

I’m already working on Part III of this series and I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of this story because I still have the good parts to get to.

Booyah!

Ok, sorry.  I just always have to do it one more time.

Don’t forget to come back on the 16th specifically, I have good things in store for you my special friends and family!

Susie

Rev. Francis Hereford Williams – Part I

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For some time now, like two years to be exact, I have been working on one dead-end after another with my 2nd great-grandfather, the Rev. Francis Hereford Williams.

I’m going to take you on a little journey of discovery as to how I found out about him, and his story as it unfolded to me.  Well, sort of.  He’s still a mystery to some extent.

Rev. Francis Hereford Williams

This is him.  I would not even know who he was if cousin Nedra Harris Turney hadn’t saved a letter that my grandfather, Earl Higginbotham was going to burn because she wanted the stamp.  This was the contents of that letter.

Ben MartinI know you are wondering what that letter had to do with him right?  I mean she is asking about Ben Martin in it, not Francis Hereford Williams.  Now, that is a find in itself, but that’s a different story for another time.  It was the piece of paper that was enclosed with this letter that was really the most important.  I would like to point out first though, that I find it really comforting that my great-grandmother, Dona Higginbotham was trying to find out about her ancestors with this letter.  FROM 1913!!  How lucky am I that Nedra saved this letter??  Because this little jewel that was inside was a great find.  I’d like to hug Dona’s neck for this one! Oh, and Nedra’s too.

Ben Martin Descendants

There he is, Francis Hereford Williams listed as the father of Dona’s sister, Minnie Elizabeth Williams Hooks!  Ancestors listed all the way back to 1787!

Booyah!!!

Of course, I haven’t proved all that, but thank you Dona for saving it with the letter.   Thank you Bepaw (Earl) for not burning it and giving it to Nedra, and thank you Nedra for saving stamps and getting the letter from Bepaw (Earl), and thank you ….. just kidding.  I could go on and on but that is all.  Amen.

Now, I know you want to ask me how that list proves Minnie is Dona’s sister, and that Francis Hereford Williams is actually Dona’s father.  Well, it doesn’t.   Right.  I know.  Just when you think you have a lead, you still can’t prove the relation.

The problem was on the 1880 census, Francis and Mildred were listed along with Minnie.  Dona wasn’t born yet.  She would have been listed on the 1890 census, but we don’t have a 1890 census and by the time the 1900 census rolled around, Dona was already married to Rufus Higginbotham.

All was not lost though.  After months and months of trying to prove this relation and coming up dry, my Dad’s first cousin, Gary Higginbotham came through for me.  He found his father Milton Higginbotham’s baby book.  Milton was my grandfather Earl’s brother.

Milton Higginbotham's Baby Book
Milton Higginbotham's Baby Book

Booyah, Baby!!  I do have a census report for Rufus, Dona, Earl and Milton all living together as a big happy family, so I finally tied them all together.

On my next post I will give you a run down of how I then started putting pieces together of Frances Hereford Williams in the war between the states, and as a minister.  Then, I’ll move on to the really juicy stuff.  Family scandals and such.  Yeah, I know a minister involved in a family scandal?  Not really, but I do believe he changed his name to Francis Hereford Williams, from possibly Watkins.

Why do I think so you ask?  Well, you will just have to stick around and find out.

Booyah!

I just wanted to say that one more time.

Oh, and be sure you do keep coming back, I have my one year blogging anniversary coming up on the 16th and I’m going to have a big surprise for you!

Booyah!

Ok, I’ll stop now.

Really.

Susie

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