Tag Archives: Reynolds

Thriller Thursday – I Have an Unusual Attachment to the Dead!

Come save me Amy Allen!

If you don’t know who Amy Allen is, let me enlighten you.

The Dead Files

Amy is on a television show that I watch on a regular basis, The Dead Files, for the genealogy aspect of it.

Ok, ok, I admit I like to see what ghosts Amy encounters, they definitely add to the spooky aspect of the show.

You see, Amy is a medium.  She can talk to dead people!

What’s cool about this show is she goes to the property at night when no one else is around and does a walk through.  Meanwhile, her partner Steve Di Schiavi does all the leg work to see what history he can find out about the property, who lived there, what happened to them, what happened in the area around the property, etc. etc.  He keeps it secret from Amy, and at the end of the show they come together, and he presents his “evidence” and Amy relates her walk through, and usually she has sketches done by sketch artists.  They have never once differed on what they dig up. Her sketches usually look like a photo Steve has dug up.

You see, Steve is a former NYPD Detective.  He’s got mad skills!  Any genealogist or family historian can learn tips from Steve on digging up the past by watching this show. It shows him going all over town, doing research and interviewing people.

The other night I was watching the show, and Amy enters a property and she looks at the camera and says, “Whoah!!  Someone living here has an unusual attachment to the Dead!”

I immediately jumped out of my recliner and ran to the driveway to see if the film crew was out in my yard.  I was sorely disappointed.

I think if Amy had shown up to my house, she would have no doubt said the same thing about my property. The antiques that have been handed down to me that fill my home, the photos of ancestors lining my walls, the stacks of wills, probates, marriage licenses, and endless charts of this family line or that one, would all be a dead (excuse the pun) giveaway of my unusual attachment to the dead.

Do I want the dead lined up at the end of my bed as I sleep at night?  Well, goodness no! Not unless they want to tell me what FHW’s real name is and why he had a falling out with the family, or unless they want to tell me where John D. Parks came from and who his parents were.  Were my Robertson Ancestors of Cherokee blood?  Is Jane Holley Higginbotham a native american as family legend has told us?  Where is HWM??

I guess this show makes a very good case that everyone has a story waiting to be told. Apparently, even after they’re dead!  So they next time you see a chair slide across the room, don’t get scared!  Maybe one of your Ancestor’s is trying to tell you something!

As for me, I’ll keep on with my unusual attachment to the dead.  I still have ancestor’s to find.

Just think of the discoveries a genealogist could make if they had their own medium and detective!

Tombstone Tuesday – John Marion Key

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All day today I have been working on my husband’s genealogy, so I thought I would share the headstone of his great-grandfather, John Marion Key.  This is who my husband, John Marion Reynolds, was named after.

John Marion Key Headstone

John Marion Key Headstone

John Marion Key is buried in the Sardis Cemetery in Pine Grove, Dallas Co., Arkansas.

Those Places Thursday – Ice Storm on the Compound

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It’s been a long while since I did a post about the compound and the recent ice storm was really beautiful to look at so I thought I would share some of the pictures we took around here.  Some of these photos were taken by my brother, John Higginbotham, some by me, and Knucklehead, yes Knucklehead took the ones of the chicken coop.

Please enjoy this brief video of our compound and surrounding area.

A big thanks to brother John for putting the video together for me.

Wordless Wednesday – Our 2013 Christmas Card

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You know I can’t go wordless!

I meant to post this around Christmas time, but things got hectic and I just didn’t.  But here it is now, our 2013 Christmas card – you know the cliche – better late than never.

2013 Christmas Card

I mailed out almost 100 christmas cards, and there were still several people I wanted to send one to, but I didn’t order any more as we mailed them out late anyway. So, if you didn’t get one – please forgive and save this one!

Category: Christmas | Tags: ,

Christmas Past to Christmas Present

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As I was decorating the house the other day for the Christmas holidays, for some reason I started thinking about what my ancestors would have been doing at Christmas time during the civil war.

Christmas Decorations 2013

I’m sure they didn’t string fancy garlands or lights and probably not every one put up a Christmas tree as the European custom of having a tree was just becoming popular.  If they did decorate a tree, I’m sure the decorations would have been handmade usually of stringed sugared fruits, ribbons, popcorn, pine cones, colored paper, silver foil and spun glass ornaments.

As I looked around guiltily at all of my decorations, I wondered did they decorate their houses? Did they sit with their families around a fire and sing songs?  Did they trade gifts and visit neighbors?

Not having any way to know what my ancestors did, I started thinking about my husband’s ancestors.  Then I remembered that we had a copy of my (now ex) husband’s great-grandfather, A.J. Smith’s diary that he wrote during the civil war.  My (now ex) father-in-law, Al Reynolds has the original diary in his possession.

This is A.J. at about the time he enlisted as a Pvt. in Co. K, 20th Regiment Arkansas Infantry, CSA on March 6, 1862 in Lafayette Co., Arkansas.

AJ Smith

So, I pulled the diary up and looked for dates around Christmas time and this is what he wrote (the year is 1863 from farther up in the diary):

“Dec 24th Ark troops and some others to the amount of 500 are parolled for exchange and put on the steamer New York and go to the Fortress Monroe and ly over till the evening of the 25th. On the night of the 25th ly in the mouth of James River.  On the morning of the 26th sail to City Point and wait for the Confederate Boat from Richmond till the morning of the 28th.”

We know from his diary and muster rolls that he was taken prisoner at Big Black on May 16, 1863 and imprisoned at Fort Delaware and then later at Point Lookout, where the parole he mentioned above took place.

I went back into the living room at this point and sat and looked at my tree.  A.J. was not sitting in a warm house around a tree with his family during the Christmas of 1863. However, I imagine being paroled from prison after seven months, was a pretty good Christmas gift.  I imagine he was sitting on that steamer on Christmas eve, glad to be on his way to freedom and thinking very much of his family at home, but was he even thinking about it being Christmas as he didn’t mention that in the diary?

I found a picture of the New York steamer, which you can view here.  I can’t imagine being stuffed in there with 499 other parolees.  I wonder what he was fed?  I’m sure it wasn’t anything like the meal we will eat on Christmas eve.  In fact, he was probably lucky if he got anything at all.

In doing a bit of research, I came across this entry, written in a diary on Christmas day 1863, by Sergeant John L. Hoster of Co. A., 148th NY, who was serving an extended period of non-combat duty in the Fort Norfolk, Virginia area.  He wrote:

“Cool but pleasant. Corpl. Spaid, Dick Bachman, the orderly and I had a splendid Christmas dinner today, consisting of roast goose, mashed potatoes, good gravy, bread and butter. The goose was bought in market yesterday by F. Spaid for $1.25, stuffed with crackers and oysters and roasted by Mrs. Duncan. We had it served up on a fine large platter, borrowed, bought or stolen for the occasion. Had a fine supper on the remains. Flag of truce ship, New York, came here today and took away a few prisoners to City Point. A schooner also came today with several new pontoons which were unloaded at the dock.”

Wait, what?

This dude is chomping down on a goose, from a platter probably stolen from some southern lady, while poor A.J. was getting taken away to City Point. Sgt. Hoster’s good fortune didn’t last long as it was only a matter of time before his own goose was cooked and the next Christmas he was sitting in a Confederate prison eating sweet potato soup and meal dumplings.

I am happy to report though that Sgt. Hoster did eventually return home to his family, as did A.J.

I don’t know what any of my ancestors were up to during the civil war at Christmas time. Of the eight great-grandfathers that I had during that time period, four of them fought during the war between the states.  One was shot in his head and survived, but suffered greatly for the rest of his life.

So, this Christmas I will remember what my ancestors, and my husband’s ancestors sacrificed so that we could end up here together, living a life of luxury compared to what A.J. was going through during 1863.  I’m thankful, and I don’t take it for granted and I know my husband doesn’t either.

My son, Pvt. Cole is currently at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma completing his AIT training.  We get the privilege of Skyping. If you don’t know what that is, it’s where you both log on to Skype either on a phone or computer and we can chat while a webcam sends video, to the person on the other end. This is what my screen looks like when we are talking.

Skyping with Justin

I can only imagine that A.J.’s mother would have wished for a letter or some word that A.J. was still alive and was being released and would be on his way home soon.  He had already been sent home once deathly ill to recover at his parents house, only to then be later captured.

His father, Robert Burnett Smith was off fighting in an Alabama regiment and so I imagine his mother, Sarah Yates Smith lived in constant fear for her husband and son. She also had, two other sons fighting; John Calvin Smith and Joel Benjamin Smith.  She wasn’t lucky like I am to be able to sit here at my computer and see a smiling face from hundreds of miles away, with just a few clicks on a phone.

Have you thought about what your ancestors were doing during Christmas way back when, and how drastically different it is from what we do now at Christmas time?

I’m thinking maybe we should cook a goose in honor of A.J. this Christmas and share that story with the kids! 🙂

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