Elisha Reavis ~“The Old Hermit of the Superstition Mountains”~ Pinal County, Arizona

Elisha Marcus Reavis, my maternal 2nd cousin, was born in 1827 in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois. He was the son of James A. and Mary (Harlan) Reavis. After the death of his parents when he was 6 years old, he and his siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle. Elisha attended college before going to California during the Gold Rush. He taught school briefly at El Monty and searched for gold along the San Gabriel River. He married Mary Y. Sexton in San Gabriel in 1862 and they had one daughter and her name was Louisa Maria Reavis.

Elisha went with other gold seekers to the Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona in 1863 but had little success. He returned to California but his wife refused to move to the rugged country in Arizona and preferred to live near her parents. After her death, their daughter went to St. Louis to live with some Reavis relatives.

Elisha returned to Arizona with his uncle who was appointed a judge on the territorial state Supreme Court by President Grant. Elisha worked as a US Marshall before starting a small ranch near Ft. McDowell, There he broke horses and mules, packed for the army during Indian campaigns before moving to a remote valley in 1874. It was on Iron Mountain and was high enough to be cool and beautiful in what became known as the Superstition Mountains. He was known as the “Hermit of the Superstitions” to Anglos, and the “White Devil” to the Apaches.

Elisha cultivated and irrigated about fifteen acres of land on the mountain. He had chickens, turkeys, hogs, burros, two horses and several dogs to care for. His team of horses pulled his disc and shear plow for his large fields. In 1895, He was seventy years old and was still making trips from his mountain valley farm to the small towns in the central Arizona Territory to sell his vegetables. The chores on his farm were enough to keep a young man busy, let alone a seventy-year-old man.

He hunted to supplement his diet with wild game. Early visitors to his place talked about the many antlers he had hanging around His home. He even had several bear skin rugs. These items certainly pointed to the fact he was quite a skillful hunter and tracker. Old pioneers all said Reavis had lived in these mountains for more than twenty years. The two decades Reavis spent living alone in the Superstitions made him a legend in his own time. He had been an outdoors man since the 1850s when he first moved to California from Illinois.

His acquaintance, James Dalabaugh, often checked in on Elisha at his ranch. Dalabaugh knew he wasn’t doing too well in the spring of 1896. It was on April 9th of that year when Dalabaugh was at the ranch with Reavis as he was preparing to make a trip to Mesa to buy seed potatoes. Dalabaugh later stopped by the Fraser Ranch just a few miles south on the 6th of May, almost one month later and found that Reavis had not been there.

Alarmed, he backtracked and found Elisha’s remains four miles south of his ranch on the trail. His mules were tied nearby and half starved. Reavis’ remains were scattered by wild animals. On May 7th, 1896, he was buried at a nearby Indian ruins where the soil was softer under a cairn of rocks. His grave was marked with a stone marker. He had died at the age of 68.

Many stories have been told of him, such as how he was a crack shot with a Winchester causing the Apaches to give him a wide berth after a fight in which he killed three of them. Also, how he faced a bear with a rifle that misfired. Even for the mid-1800s Reavis was quite the sight. With long, unkempt and unwashed matted hair and beard Reavis was the proverbial mountain-man poster child. Beaming small, piercing eyes he maintained a savage and even feral appearance even for the old west. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reavis was quite educated and kept a personal library at his ranch as he was an avid reader.

I have lived in Arizona for over 50 years and I have never heard this story nor knew that I was related to this man. I have lived within 4 miles of the Superstition Mountains for over 28 years! It really is a small world.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

The Tale of Arthur Taylor Friend

Arthur Taylor Friend is my 3rd cousin twice removed. He was born on May 9, 1886, in Dadeville, Dade County, Missouri, the sixth of nine children born to John Wesley Friend and Margaret Divine. He grew up on a farm that was very prosperous. His family grew Indian corn, oats and wheat and raised cows, sheep, hogs and chickens. They had about 1000 acres of land, and they were able to sell most of their crops every year.

He married Myrtle Montgomery (1891-1964) on April 11, 1906, when he was 19 years old and Myrtle was just 15. They had four children, one son, two daughters and one child who died at birth. They made their home on a cattle ranch outside the town of Morgan. In 1912, he moved his family to Mansfield, Missouri where he pioneered the Mansfield Mining District. He was also Vice President and general manager of A.T. Friend Mining Co. He owned the town drug store as well as many other businesses and properties in the county. He was a member of the Fuson Camp # 611 and The Woodsmen of the World. He was a very wealthy young man, but he was also very arrogant.

It is said that he had a very bad temper and a big ego. Although most people just avoided him because he “owned the town”, there were some men who had no problem attempting to put him in his place. Many men were fired from their jobs in the mines for “disrespecting” him. The following account is from the Mansfield Missouri Newspaper account dated July 4, 1918.

The trouble began on the morning of June 10, 1918, when Arthur and a man named Chester Crain got into an argument. According to the story the two men had several previous “difficulties” over the months leading up to this day. That evening the two men, once again encountered each other on the town square in front of the O H Garage. After the altercation Arthur attempted to leave, heading north. Suddenly shots rang out, 5 in all from a .38 calibre revolver as Chester began to chase him. Arthur began to run through a vacant lot between Reynolds Garage and the Nugget, and then back again to the sidewalk on Commercial Street where he collapsed. One bullet had entered his Lumbar vertebra and another one entered his right arm about 3 inches from his shoulder. He was quickly picked up by some of the men on the square and carried to his home. Drs. J.A. Fuson and R.M. Rogers were called to attend him but his wounds were beyond medical skill. He died about a half-hour later. He was 32 years old.

Chester was taken into custody and sent to the county jail in nearby Hartville. He was released on a $10,000 bond two day later. The bond was put up by several local businessmen and others in the community. He had over 20 prominent persons volunteer as signers on the bond raising it to $200,000! Chester pled self-defense which was backed up by several witnesses. He stated that Arthur accosted him and threatened his life with a gun and Chester was just defending himself. He was eventually declared not guilty and was released.

Arthur’s funeral was a lavish one and was attended by hundreds of people. One person in attendance said that there were 2 types of people who attended the funeral. The first were those who were just making sure he was dead and those who loved his parents. Such a sad commentary of one person’s life. He was buried in the Friend Cemetery in Bona, Dade County, Missouri.

Myrtle his wife, sold everything they had, and she married Paul McCallister. The family moved to Visalia, Tulare County, California where she died in 1964 at the age of 68.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Stuck in the MIDDLE ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #26

Stuck In The Middle

I recently reconnected with a cousin, “Alice” that I haven’t seen in about 28 years. She was so excited to hear about all of the Family History I have written about and the Genealogy research I have done. During our conversation, she told me that she really didn’t know much about her maternal Grandfather’s side of the family. I told her I would see what I could find.

I started researching and within 3 days I received an email from a cousin of Alice’s. “Jessie,” told me that her maternal Grandmother was Alice’s Grandfathers sister. We exchanged photos and information. I was able to get the two cousins in touch with each other. It was a great feeling.

That is until about 2 weeks later when I went to look at Jessie’s family tree. Shesad-emoji had not changed any of the erroneous information she had posted in her tree. You see, Alices Grandfather “Sam” was married to my Aunt Leola, my Dad’s sister. They were married in 1924 and they had two children, Charles in 1925 and Irene in 1930, Leola died in 1932 from Typhoid Fever. Sam then married Lea in about 1935 and they had two sons. In Jessie’s tree, she only had Sam married to Lea and they had 4 children, those of Leola’s as well as Leas.

Leola Belle HughesWhen I contacted her about it I was told that “I can’t correct that! No one in the family knows that Uncle Sam had been married more than once. It would be a big scandal!” So she was leaving her tree as it was. I can only hope that she changes her mind about this in the future. Now both “Alice” and “Jessie” are at odds because of the wrong information and feel like I have been “placed in the middle” trying to smooth the situation out. However, I did tell them to talk to each other before they contact me. I haven’t heard from “Jessie” since then.

I guess I have a hard time with anyone wanting to purposely keep the wrong information in their tree. No matter what the reason. To me, Truth is Truth whether you like it or not. I also don’t understand how this situation could be a scandal. I think it is a great disservice to future generations to not know the whole truth.

I might be a little strange but I believe the unexpected in a Family Tree is what makes it more interesting. All the twists and turns, the surprises, the rebels, and the saints give my tree character.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s Your Sign #3 ~ Revolutionary War James River Batteau Boats

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

Ruckers James River Batteau historicalmarker2 2

My 1st cousins 7x removed, Anthony and Benjamin Rucker, invented these boats in 1774. The Batteau was used by the Continental Army. Batteau was used to move troops, munitions, and supplies on the shallow inland rivers during the Revolutionary War. They were a carefully built craft as they were often mentioned as being built by a boat builder or “ship’s carpenter.” This evidence infers that the crafts known as “James River Batteaus” were strong, shallow-drafted vessels. They were a valuable military asset and were considered a major loss if captured by the enemy. These boats were used until around 1850.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~Part 3

Benjamin Cleveland signIn the fall of 1780, Benjamin led 350 Heroes to their most famous moment of the Revolution, the Battle of King’s Mountain, when he learned that British Colonel Patrick Ferguson intended to march into North Carolina.


Mounted columns of Carolinians and Virginians came from the west over the mountains in the snow that totally covered their feet and ankles in response to the threat. These “over-mountain” men had established their settlements and their homes in remote regions far and independent from the Royal authority in the eastern colonies’ years before the first sounds of war were heard. Though the American Revolution had been raging for five years, these men had until now been unthreatened by the war, but Ferguson’s invasion of the South Carolina upcountry changed their perspective.

In his own campaign, Ferguson had succeeded in recruiting several thousand Carolinians who were loyal to the British. With them, he started to hunt down and punish the “rebels” who continued to resist Royal authority. During the summer of 1780, Ferguson marched and counter-marched through the Carolina country as the over-mountain men swept eastward and engaged him or his detachment in fierce little actions of sometimes confused guerrilla warfare.


In September Benjamin and his 350 Bulldogs had joined Colonel William Campbell,Benjamin Cleveland Statue Cleveland TN Colonel Isaac Shelby, Colonel John Sevier, and other militia leaders at Quaker Meadows near Catawba River. Since there were so many officers of equal rank it was agreed that command should rest with the board of colonels. Colonel Campbell was elected officer of the day to execute the board’s decisions. Benjamin was to be one of the principal officers in the conflict. Most of the united forces of 1600 were afoot, but approximately 700 were mounted on the fastest horses and overtook Ferguson at King’s Mountain.


These mounted troops were divided into three divisions under Benjamin, Colonel Campbell, and Colonel Lacey, each division would storm the mountain from a different direction. Lacey from the west, Campbell from the center, and Benjamin from the east.


Kings Mountain Battle-SignJust before the beginning of the battle, Benjamin addressed his troops in which Dr. David Ramsay called “plain unvarnished language”. It showed Benjamin’s good sense and knowledge of human nature. This speech inspired the courage and patriotism of the over-mountain men. Inspired to win at all cost, the men hid behind rocks and trees and fired at the British. They were repelled, but they rallied and came back to fight, and the over-mountain men had better luck in the second attempt. Benjamin, with a sword in hand, rode to the front of his column and led the ascent, yelling for his men to follow him. Ferguson’s troops poured continuous gunfire into the advancing line and during the shooting Roebuck, Benjamin’s beloved warhorse was shot out from under him. Grabbing his flintlock pistols, he dismounted and ran ahead of his men until another horse was brought to him from the rear. Benjamin weighed 300 pounds so he always had 2 horses with him, so one could rest while the other carried his large frame.


By then, the patriots were ascending the mountain from all sides. Unceasing gunfire Benjamin Cleveland Statueand the roar of the men shouting and the officers yelling words of encouragement to their troops. Eventually, the British line wavered and broke in confusion. Ferguson, who had fought desperately, ran for liberty but was shot with at least a dozen bullets. His troops immediately surrendered to the patriots. Ferguson’s gray charger ran away but was quickly caught and presented to Benjamin to compensate for his loss of Roebuck.



When it was all over 225 Loyalists had been slain, 163 were wounded and 716 had been taken prisoner, The patriots had lost only 28 men and 62 had been wounded. On their way to prison, many of the captured were brutally beaten and some were even hacked to death with swords. About a week later and 50 miles from King’s Mountain, a committee of Whig colonels appointed themselves as judge and jury of the Loyalists. 36 Tories were found guilty of breaking into homes. Killing the inhabitants and burning houses. Benjamin was instrumental in the immediate execution by hanging of 9 of the convicted 36 men.


It is said that The Battle of Kings Mountain was the turning point of the war. To Benjamin Cleveland Statue Wilkesboro NCthose who fought alongside Benjamin, he was considered the supreme hero whose spirit of adventure and self-reliance, quickness of thought, and rapidity of action in times of emergency and danger contributed greatly to the American victory.



Next week in part 4 I will cover Benjamin’s life after the war.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Handed Down ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #24

Francisca and LorenzaWhen my Father-in-law first told me these two stories about his Grandmother Francisca Vega Martinez (sitting) and her sister Lorenza Vega Lozano (standing) I thought “that’s pretty interesting”. Maybe a little far-fetched but that is how oral histories can be. When told from generation to generation some details can be lost, and others can be added. This is verbatim (I recorded it).

Eutimio Martinez (1874-1947) lived in Southern Texas in the early texas map1890s. When he was a young man, he decided it was time for him to find a wife, so he went into town to find one. None of the girls there were what he was looking for, so he got on his horse and headed south towards Mexico. After a couple of days of riding, he found a wagon heading north with several people in it. He took special notice of a beautiful young girl named Francisca Vega (1876-1956) who was traveling alone. He hitched a ride with the wagon heading back north. After talking with the girl for a while he decided that she was the one. No one knows how or why this happened but Eutimio ended up killing all of the people in the wagon and kidnapping Francisca. He then took her back to town and married her.

I started thinking if the kidnapping of Francisca and the murders of those on the wagon were true, why would she stay with him all those years and have children with him? Why didn’t her parents come and rescue her and why would in later years her sister come and live with them? My Father-in-law also told me that Francisca’s sister Lorenza (1874-1958) rode with Pancho Villa. Could either of these stories be true? These are valid questions.  As I was transcribing the tapes from my interviews with my Father-in-law, I decided to do a little research.  First, I Googled their names…nothing.  Then I typed in kidnappings in the 1880s in Texas…nothing, then in Mexico, again nothing. After a few more inquiries I decided to take a different approach.

Pancho VillaI decided to start with Lorenza and see what I could find. I looked up Pancho Villa and The Mexican Revolution. I discovered that Pancho Villa did indeed have women who rode with him between 1910 and 1920. Some of them fought alongside the men and were called Soldaderas, others were “persuaded” to come along, and others followed their husbands who went to fight.  One of the practices of Pancho Villa was to ride into a town and ask the citizens to “donate” to the cause of the Revolution. He would then gather up all able-bodied men and “encouraged” them to join his army. He then would “invite” some of the young women to come along to help cook and care for the soldiers when they were injured. Most of the wives and children of the men who followed Pancho went along because they really didn’t have much choice. I believe this is the case with Lorenza.

 While looking into the Mexican Revolution I found that back in the 1800’s up until 1930 married women and single women living in Mexico had different rights under the law.  Single women had the same rights as a man. They could come and go as they pleased, work, attend church, and even own property. Married women were the property of their husbands. They could do nothing without the permission of their husband. This could explain why no one came to get Francisca after she and Eutimio got married. Regardless of how she became his wife, she was now his property and they accepted it.

I have still not found any evidence that the stories above are true, but they would be considered Oral Traditions and therefore I added them to my husbands’ Family Trees. They add “color” and excitement to the family history.    



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Hometown Tuesday ~ Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee

hometown tuesdayThe Tennessee General Assembly formed Claiborne County in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Counties and it was named for William C.C. Claiborne, who was Tennessee’s first congressional representative. The most important historic feature of Claiborne County is the Cumberland Gap, located south of where the states of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky meet. Native Americans called this natural gateway to the north and west the “Warrior’s Path.” In 1750 Dr. Thomas Walker claimed discovery of the gap and named it Cumberland Gap in honor of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II and Queen Caroline. Daniel Boone led thirty men through the gap and opened a road west to settlement in 1775.

The first settlement was in the Powell Valley along the Clinch River. Shortly afterward, settlements were established at Sycamore Creek and Fort Butler. In 1801 the town of Tazewell was laid out as the county seat. The town received a post office in 1804, and James Graham served as the first postmaster. The county court met three times in the homes of John Hunt and Elisha Walling before a small frame courthouse was erected in 1804 on land belonging to John Hunt Sr., probably the first settler in the area and the first sheriff of the County. A jail was constructed at the same time as the courthouse, and a second jail was TazewellTN Home 1812built in 1819. Luke Bower, one of the first Watauga settlers, was the first attorney and the first merchant was William Graham, a native of Ireland. Graham had extensive real estate holdings, and around 1800 he completed a stone residence known as the Graham-Kivett house. (photo) Other historic buildings include the Parkey house, also thought to have been built by Graham, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War and survived the great fire of 1862. A frontier church at Springdale on Little Sycamore Creek was erected by Drew Harrell and the Reverend Tidence Lane sometime around 1796.


Tazewell did not have a church building until 1815, but settlers probably worshipped in open-air assemblies and in homes prior to that time. William Graham, a Presbyterian, erected the first church building, which was used by all denominations. In 1844 the Baptists and Methodists both erected buildings on Russell and Church streets, respectively.

Tazewell, Claiborne County, and the Cumberland Gap figured prominently in the Civil War strategy of both the North and the South.  The town changed hands four times. Although no major battles were fought in the county, there were several bloody skirmishes. On November 11, 1862, at the height of the Civil War, Confederate troops occupied Tazewell as part of the greater struggle for the strategic Cumberland Gap. When the Confederates evacuated the town in November of that year, a fire followed, destroying much of Tazewell including some twenty buildings including the courthouse, a large hotel, and several brick storehouses.

My paternal Great Grandfather, Hamilton Hayes was born in Tazewell, Hamilton Hayes picTennessee, on December 15, 1856, almost 6 years before the town was burned. He was the 4th child born to George W. Hayes (1817-1898) and Elizabeth Coffey (1821-1883). Within a year of the fire, his family moved to Grainger County Tennessee. Then in 1860, after the death of his slightly older sister Mary, the family moved to Rockcastle, Kentucky. Ten years later his family once again moved, this time to Mount Pleasant, Cass County, Missouri. Here he met and married Elvira Register (1861-1936) on March 16, 1979. They had 9 children, 4 sons, and 5 daughters. Hamilton was a farmer. In 1906 he passed away at the age of 52, in Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Part 1

An image of the american revolutionWhen you think about those who rose to the occasion of fighting for our countries freedom we tend to think of that patriot as a morally upstanding person. You can envision all the heroic deeds that they did were for unselfish reasons. You may also believe that the person was raised in an honorable home, being taught right from wrong. Well, this is the life of my 1st cousin 6x removed, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland who was none of these things. His life was so diverse I decided to have this first part of the blog be about his life before the Revolutionary War. Part 2 will cover all he did during the War and Part 3 will cover his post-war exploits.

Benjamin Cleveland was born May 26, 1738, to John (1695-1778) and Elizabeth (Coffey) (1705-1772) Cleveland. He was raised in Orange County, Virginia, about seven miles from where he was born on the mouth of Blue Run, in Prince William County. Benjamin’s father, John owned six hundred acres of land in Orange County in 1734. Cleveland’s Run was about a mile northeast of Barboursville in Orange County, and it was named for Benjamin’s family

Benjamin and 8 his brothers were considered “a reckless lot” by all who knew them in Orange County and Benjamin was the worse of them all. All of the boys were considered “immoral”. He alone exhibited raw courage that few boys his age possessed. Even the drunken rowdies who were bent on destruction could not intimidate him. It is no surprise that he would earn the nickname “Terror of the Tories” during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin grew to be 6 feet tall and weighed close to 300 pounds. He was a man who gave in easily to many debaucheries. This had him in trouble throughout his youth.

You could always find Benjamin playing cards in the local tavern. He never lost a handTavern c. 1750 gambling because his strategy was to first accuse the other player of cheating, then he would strike the man causing him to fall down and then take all of the money. Not one opponent ever challenged him trying to get the money back because of his size and overbearing presence. He also frequented the racetrack, losing his money betting on the races and he and his brothers never left the track without starting or participating in a fight or two. Although he could be good-natured, he was also considered reckless, hot-tempered, and determined. He also did a lot of carousing and drinking,

Benjamin had no use for school. He did attend long enough to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. He did, however, have an excellent mind and a natural intellect. He was a quick thinker and had the ability to think through a problem with a positive outcome.

He loved hunting and spent most from his early years roaming the surrounding Plantationwilderness securing furs and skins. In 1758 he married Mary Graves (1740-1800) daughter of Joseph (1715-1774) and Sarah (Crank) Graves. She was a great influence on him, trying to steer him in a moral direction. During the early years of his marriage, Benjamin fathered three children. However, only two of them, his sons Absalom and John, were by Mary. A daughter named Jemima was born by another woman. The newlyweds had to settle on Joseph Graves’s plantation because Benjamin’s “habits and pursuits” had prevented his accumulating any property of his own. On the other hand, Benjamin’s father-in-law “had a good living consisting of a tolerably good plantation and plenty of other good property.” During the harvest season, Benjamin invited his neighbors to help on Joseph’s plantation, rewarding them with plenty of liquor and fiddle music. The day’s work usually ended in debauchery.

In 1769, Benjamin moved his family, his father-in-law’s family, and his brother Robert to the newly opened backcountry of North Carolina settling near Mulberry Fields in Wilkes County.  He tried his hand at being a farmer, however, he didn’t like it. He moved his family to the northern bank of the Yadkin River and built a new plantation that he called “Round About”. He called it this because the land it was on was a horseshoe-shaped piece of land which was situated in a loop of the Yadkin River that ran “roundabout” his place. He soon focused his attention back to hunting and exploring the wilderness once again collecting pelts and furs. He would then take them to Salem and Salisbury to sell them. He also loved hunting deer at night.

His neighbor was Daniel Boone who was a fellow hunter and horse breaker. He toldDaniel Boone Benjamin many stories about the Kentucky country and the wonders of the long hunt. In the summer of 1772, along with 4 “long hunters”, he set out to hunt and to explore the Kentucky wilderness. The party was seized and robbed by a band of Cherokees. The Indians took everything, leaving the tattered band to find its way back through miles of wilderness. Cleveland was a fighter and a man of action. Delaying only long enough to regain his strength and to select a party of riflemen, he boldly returned to the Cherokee country, retrieved his horses, and returned in triumph to the Upper Yadkin, his reputation as an Indian fighter solidly established.

Upon returning from the hunt Benjamin began making friends and influencing people through his new vocation of surviving. Although he had in the past was by trade a house carpenter and builder, he discovered that surveyors were in great demand in North Carolina as people moved in and claimed the land. He also served as a tax collector for the part of Surry County that eventually became Wilkes County. Because of his connections with the residents due to his surveying, he was chosen to serve as the areas’ first representative in the legislature in 1778 and then the State Senate in 1779.

Part 2 of this blog will continue next Sunday with Benjamin’s astounding feats, both heroic and disgusting, during the Revolutionary War.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.



















































































Hometown Tuesday ~ Yorktown, York County, Pennsylvania

hometown tuesday“In September of 1733, the Lutherans took steps for the organization of a congregation, the first one of this denomination west of the Susquehanna,” wrote historian George Powell in Gibson’s 1886 History of York County. York City, Pennsylvania history began sometime before 1741 when two surveyors laid out a town on the banks of the Codorus Creek That town would become York. Baltzer Spengler and Ulrich Whisler are given credit for forming the first town west of the Susquehanna River. Both were surveyors with the William Penn family, the family that gave the state its name. “In 1744 the first log church was built in York, on the spot where the Christ Church stands.” The first roads constructed in 1739, was an old Indian trail from Wrightsville to Maryland and Virginia was called the Monocacy Road. It was the first road laid out in the present limits of York County, according to Gibson. The Quakers of Warrington and Newberry were responsible for the first road from the north into York. By 1777, most of the area residents were of either German or Scot-Irish descent.

In September of 1777 the Continental Congress, under threat of the advancing British,York_Meeting 1760 moved the location of the colonies’ central government from Philadelphia to Lancaster. Since the State of Pennsylvania’s Government was also located in Lancaster, officials decided that a move across the Susquehanna would separate the two sufficiently and the Continental Congress set up shop in the Town of York. It was in York that the Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, and signed the French Treaty of Alliance. All of these events occurred in the nine months York remained Capital of the United States – until June 27, 1778. That is where The City of York made history for the United States.

800px-Golden_Plow_York_PAThe city has been called an “architectural museum,” because the downtown features numerous well-preserved historic structures, such as the 1741 Golden Plough Tavern, the 1751 General Horatio Gates House, and the 1766 York Meetinghouse.


Unlike most of Pennsylvania, York has a humid subtropical climate, it is located in the northernmost periphery of the classification zone. It is characterized by warm to hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters.

My 5x Great Grandfather, Martin Finter, was born in York on February 10, 1740. His parents had immigrated to York from Baden, Germany. He married Elizabeth Rothgab in 1770. The newlyweds moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and had one daughter. Martin served one year in the Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War.  Martin died in 1833 at the age of 93.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.






Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Secrets Kept

mom & bro 1943One of the best parts about Genealogy is finding the truth about your ancestors. This includes the family that is close to you. Growing up my parents were very tight-lipped about their pasts. My sister and I weren’t raised around family so, we didn’t have anyone we could talk to in order to find out information on them. When we did live near family I was aged 12 to 14 and the last thing I was thinking about was my parents’ past.

Mom & Dad ML 1948

My dad, Douglas Hughes was born on August 18, 1915, and my mother, Emmajane Smith, was born on April 25, 1919. They didn’t get married until December 13, 1948. So, a lot of living happened before they tied the knot. My dad died on June 24, 1974, when I was 19 years old. The only information I knew for a fact was that my brother, who was 18 years older than I, was not my dad’s son. This, of course, means my mother had been married before.

Dad, Mildred 2 and LolaAfter my dad died my mother told us that my dad had been married once before and he had two daughters. These girls and their mom died of scarlet fever. She then confessed that she had been married twice before. Her first husband had died of a heart attack in 1937. The second one was killed in a house explosion in 1948. She had been left a widow twice. She said she had wished them dead and they died! She refused to answer any more questions so we finally gave up asking. My mother died on June 16, 1999. This is when I started my Genealogy journey.

Over the next few years, I was able to piece together some of the missing pieces. I found a photo of my dad and his wife Mildred and their daughter Lola. My mother had written their names on the back of the photo. I found some very interesting things about my dad and his life, all of which were nothing like my mother had told us. These stories I will keep till another time.

Mom & Earl ML aged 17 1936

I found my mother’s marriage license to her first husband online. She and Earl Wilson got married on September 4, 1936. My brother, Gordon arrived 8 months later. I searched the newspapers for obits for Earl but I couldn’t find one. I searched for a death certificate but none was to be found. I got desperate and looked for divorce papers, no luck there either. I did find Earl in the 1940 Census along with a new wife, 2 more kids, and my brother! I then traced him down and found he died in 1980.


Mom & lierman ml

Next, she married George Lierman on July 19, 1940. Again I tried to find information about him and the house explosion. Believe it or not, I found a newspaper article about it dated May 17, 1948. Apparently, he tried to light a stove and it started a fire. So there was some truth in her story. What was left out was that in May 1947 George had married a woman named Georgia and she had 2 boys. So sometime before then my mother and he had to have gotten a divorce.

Nellie 1 obit 2


Now to my dilemma. Have you ever had a newspaper clipping or document that you believe you had read all there was written in it? Well, that happened to me. I found an obituary for my mother’s stepmother who died on February 4, 1948. I had read through it several times however, a couple of years ago I discovered something I had overlooked. As was the custom of the day the surviving stepchildren for Nellie Smith were listed. The two stepsons were listed as Raymond Eugene Smith and John Pleasant Smith Jr. Then came the two stepdaughters listed as Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. It had never dawned on me that Mrs. Cook was my mother. I can’t find any marriage documents for them. I even searched the surrounding states because my parents had gotten married in Arkansas. I also tried all the variations of the “nickname” Ike.

So it appears that my mother was married 4 times not 3. She was also never a widow until my dad passed away. All of my mothers’ family who may have known about her and her life have passed away. I have run out of ideas as to how I can find more information about the married to Ike. Any suggestions?


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.