Monday, October 1, 2012

Mystery Monday: who is she?

  Top row right: who is she? I bet she's related to me but I don't know how. On the bottom row left to right are my aunt Jessie, aunt Roxy, Great grandfather William "Ross"well Sampson and Great Grandmother Clarissa. On the second row my grandfather, Norvel "Ray", John "Woodard" Sampson, Aunt Mary and then --oops someone was there for dinner that day, walked in and stood with the others or whatever. I wish I knew who she was.  She seems to have a sly eye looking at the camera. Why didn't someone show me this picture when they could explain it. Ah--the frustrations of the genealogy world.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Workday Wednesday: The package clerk

Grandpa Ray Sampson moved his family from the family farm in 1922 and into Terre Haute Indiana. He began a job at Hulman and Company as a package clerk. Hulman and Company was, and still is,a wholesale grocerer and famous for Clabber Girl Baking Powder. Grandpa worked on the 6th floor, the top floor. Always a hard worker, he also was a valuable friend. One particular young man was sent to work with Grandpa when he was home from college in the summers. Grandpa just knew his  name was Tony and  Tony looked up to and respected Grandpa. A few years into the job Tony graduated from college and his father and grandfather who happened to have started the business  died.  Tony was next in line. He never forgot Grandpa, though, someone who had been his friend in the unknown days.   It turned out that this boy's  name was Tony Hulman and he became the owner of the Indianapolis  500 .Each year tickets to the race came to Grandpa in the mail. When Grandpa died, heads turned to see a quiet man enter the funeral home  and stand in line carrying a bouquet of flowers. Tony  never forgot the man who was his friend when he was really noone.  Grandpa taught that  it matters how we treat anyone on the job as a  simple package clerk.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Funny: Tina gets married

Sarah Jane Benell was the sister of my great grandfather, Charles Benell who grew up in Clay County Indiana. I've been studying their line. So here goes : Aunt Sarah  married a man with the last name of Jones. They had a son named Charles (Charley) and a daughter named  Tina (Tiny).  Tiny married Oscar Butt May 29, 1918. And that is the story of how our family from then on had a Tiny Butt.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Mom and the "fellow Sampsons"

My Sampson heritage is actually a matrilineal one. My mother was a Sampson-- Stella Thelma Sampson and from there back as far as I can see  my direct line of Sampsons were all grandfathers: She was the daughter of Norvel Ray, who was the son of William Rosswell, son of Sanford Woodard, son of John , son of John . Mom brought up in conversation many times the oral history of the family as did my grandpa.  "They left Virginia in a wagon and came here to start life in Indiana"--always that was the main statement. I just wish I had asked more questions, wanted more detail, made a  picture in my mind like I'm trying to now. Grandpa had 2 daughters so the Sampson named stopped with him in our line. However, his brother  John Woodard Sampson, had a grandson named John Sampson and a great grandson named John Sampson.  Matrilineal Monday--the Sampson family, but a lot of boys sure made it easier to get everyone to fall in line.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shopping Saturday: Sanford's trip to town

 The oral stories of  Sanford Woodard Sampson, my 2nd great grandfather, have been reaching  my ear lately. Sanford was the son of John and Clarissa Sampson who came on the trip in 1836 to find Indiana. He was 16 when the trip started and 30 when he first settled in Clay County, purchasing land that spring. According to the Clay County History book by William Travis, Sanford went on to become a respected and successful citizen.  He brought the first grain thresher to the area, was a farmer, plasterer and mechanic. He married for the first time in 1856 to Mary Jane Akers and with her had 10 children. He became a widower twice and was married 3 times. He built two  two-story houses for the family as the first one burned down. He owned a Hambletonian horse.  He lived until 1907 and was survived by his 3rd wife and 5 of his children.  Not long before his death the children began squabbling about the money he would be leaving. According to Ron Sampson and his source: the man who as a young neighbor  boy  went to town with Sanford, Sanford asked the boy to hitch up the wagon and take him to town. When in town Sanford went various places paying final expenses, making purchases, even buying an entire wagon load of whiskey. When he was satisfied with his purchases he took the boy to a store and told him to buy whatever he wanted. The boy had a spending spree. They both had a great time and went home with little left. There was nothing left to squabble over.  The punishment by the children?  The date on his tombstone has never been added.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Grandma wrote it down!!

My grandmother Stella Sampson kept diaries from years 1933 until a few days before her death, May of 1988.  I just finished reading and taking notes for the 2nd time on book 1933--1937 and I am exhausted. I am tired after I read one weeks worth of what Grandma did. Housewife was her title. That included, by her daily writings, washing on the wringer washer and hanging out to dry for her household and at least 3  other extended family households and ironing. She each day took Grandpa to work and her daughters to school and picked them up. She made mince pie and huckleberry pie, noodles, strangled chickens and fried them. At lunch people from the family who worked at the nearby Quaker Maid factory came to her house for lunch. She was either cutting a dress out, sewing a dress together, or putting on the finishing touches. That was done the same day she worked on the current quilt pattern. She made jelly out of   even the tiniest serviceberries, and put more goose feathers into the mattress.  She attended ladies aid, visited friends and provided a place for relatives to spend the night. And she wrote it all down! I'm thankful she did.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Cattle buyer

John Stuart Downing(1820-1910), my 2nd great grandfather, and father of Grandma Clarissa Sampson, was a cattle buyer. Recently I ran across notes in the Clay County Historical Society written by his granddaughter Helen Rupert Jones as told to her by her mother Mary Emma Downing Rupert.  The following is a synopsis of what she told of John's life as a cattle buyer.
When John was still a boy, he learned that he was good at judging the quality of hogs and cattle and that he could make more money doing that than raising the animals himself. He eventually became the chief buyer of the Ralston Brothers meat packing business. On his buying trips he "traveled by horseback, wore long leather leggings which came up to his waist and tied his cattle whip around his waist." He carried large amounts of money and learned to outsmart those who would try to steal it. One time his wife awoke to find out their home had been chloroformed so thieves could find the money. Fortunately, John had not picked the money up yet for his trip. Another time the Ralston brothers brought a large amount to give him for buying the next day and spent the night. They warned him to protect the money during the night. John uncovered a hole in the wall above where the Ralstons were sleeping and said if it was taken it was on their watch and he was going to sleep. Interesting and exciting occupation! Workday Wednesday: John Stuart Downing, the cattle buyer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cousins Day

Today is Cousins Day and I keep finding them.I am blessed.  Being an only child, they've especially been important to me. I grew up knowing 3 first cousins, a few second cousins and many more farther down the line.My mother's parents visited a lot and they introduced me to them. I still find cousins I didn't know I had.  When I meet one, I enjoy getting to know them and finding out if we have the same grandparent or great parent, etc. Especially I enjoy sharing stories. After I was grown and married I met my father and then 7 first cousins through his brother. How great is that?  Genealogy, though,  has led to me finding even more cousins. In 2001 I met Wendy (of Jollett, etc.) We found out we were both related through the Jollett line of our family. I have enjoyed our on line friendship and our sharing of information. Cousins and friends are both valuable to me. Cousins, though,  have  family stories  that blend with mine  and that is priceless. Genealogy and cousins go hand in hand. I am blessed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mystery Monday-Mysteries Come, Mysteries Go

Mysteries Come, Mysteries go.  Before 2001, I had an unsolved mystery with the Sampson family. My 3rd great grandparents, John and Clarissa Jollett Sampson were known to me,  as was the handed down story that they had traveled from Orange County,  Virginia in 1836 settle in Indiana. Their life before that trip was a mystery to me. What brought light to this mystery was a chain of events. First, we purchased our first computer. Second, after learning to use it, I began browsing genealogy sites. Third, and most important, I connected with Wendy Jollett. Her loose ends with Clarissa Jollett Sampson and Clarissa's brother James Jollett connected with my loose ends of the Orange County, Virginia story. I learned that my line of Sampsons and the Jolletts were close.  They were close by marriage (3 daughters--Clarissa, Sarah and Drada) married Sampson boys (John, William and George). They were close in distance. In fact, when land was divided up and sold to 3 of the Sampson boys by the parents John and Lucy, son William received land "where James Jollett now lives". The Jollett and Sampson men were witnesses together and signed road orders together. Mystery solved. Other mysteries remain. How did the Jolletts and Sampsons become so close--by showing up in the same area at the same time? Through some shirt tail kin?  Where did they come from ? Mysteries go; mysteries come.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Funny--Stop the Train!!!

     My Great Aunt Jessie Sampson Remington was outspoken and funny at the same time. Aunt Jessie  used metaphors before anyone knew what they were.  Once when relatives were wandering the park trying to find the family's shelter, she shouted "You're in the right church, but the wrong pew!". Aunt Jessie was at her finest, though, the day of the train ride.
     Aunt Jessie had a ticket to leave for Houston Texas the day after my grandfather's funeral.  Mom asked my then to be husband, Ray,  and me to take her to the train station.  When the train sat for boarding  noone stood  to take Aunt Jessie's ticket or to carry on her suitcase. Aunt Jessie declared "on, I go". My fiance said he would carry the suitcase.  A few minutes later, to my shock, the train took off with Ray who needed to go east to be back on duty at Ft. Meade Maryland the next morning,  and who had  my mom's car keys in his pocket, was now headed west, not east.  Feeling helpless, but wanting to help, ran the fastest I could beside the moving train , shouting "no, stop, stop, he shouldn't be on there!!!" According to Ray's account Aunt Jessie began shouting  statements on the train  like "I'm having a heart attack"; "There are no gentlemen who work on this train!!"  "Stop this train"!. The train attendant and Aunt Jessie had a heated discussion as the attendant said a train this big could not be stopped at whim. Ray was on for the ride.  Outside, I stared down the track and saw the long passenger train slowly come to a stop.  Ray walked off.
       We arrived back to Mom's house.  "Well, did you get Aunt Jessie off ok?", she asked. "Yep, she's on her way, we replied, but it was not as easy as you might think."  Funny Friday--The Stop the Train story comes up often, and always brings tears of laughter as we remember Aunt Jessie.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Traveling Thursday--Traveling in a Ford II

    My Grandma and Grandpa Sampson started traveling July 9, 10 and 11,  1927.  They traveled that first time in their 1921 Ford II with my mother, Thelma,  8, and my Aunt Lucile, 2,  from Terre Haute, Indiana  and slept in their tent in Okawawville Illinois (That's the name Grandma wrote down, but I've never seen or heard of it)  From that time on summer vacations were spent with the 4 of them visiting the 48 states of of the Union.  They slept in a tent by the road. They ate what they picked up to eat at the local stores.  They looked in on places they could not afford rather than pay the fee. They waded in the ocean, stood at the mouth of the Mississippi, shot pictures  dwarfed beside California's Great Sequoias,  and everything in between. The 2 daughters were to each keep a journal. My mother, nearly 6 years the elder,  took journal keeping seriously. Her sister?  Not so much. She displayed her usual sense of humor, such as "You should have seen Thelma's face!" When the relatives heard the family was leaving again for vacation each year , they would shout alarms: "What if someone dies while you're gone? But strong they were and would not be undone by "what ifs".  Traveling they went.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Workday Wednesday--Are we what we do?

Are we what we do for a living?  We can debate that but it certainly is part of us.  Thank heavens, though for occupations when we're finding our ancestors.  Take my ancestry, for instance.  There were several William and Sarah couples  sitting on  the tree, even William and Sarahs naming a son William
who grew up to marry a Sarah, and  a William  Sampson having a daughter Sarah Sampson who married a William Sampson.  Trouble is--which are which?  Wendy, of Jollett etc. has done a great job of describing the agony of trying to separate these people.  She refers to the two hardest to separate as William the miller and William the wheelwright. Occupations listed in the census help identify, help tag who we're talking about. Since it was the main way to tell them apart,  I set about finding out just what it was these two Williams did for a living.
     How did William the miller spend his day? He performed an important service, for he saved people the hard work of grinding grain by hand. He ground it with a gristmill.  Gears turned a mill grinding the corn into meal. He spent the daily grind grinding grain and keeping his millstones sharp.
     William the wheelwright spent his day making wheels for wagons and carriages. The roads were rough and the wheels had to be strong.  He had to be sure they were perfectly round. He would get iron from a blacksmith, heat it and form it around the wooden wheel. Then he would pour water on it to shrink it onto the wheel.
     Are we what we do?  Yes, right along with our name, it is part of  our identity.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling Tuesday--Visiting the Frontier

     About a year ago, my husband and I set out to see the frontier land where John and Lucy first settled. We stayed in Culpeper Virginia and traveled to surrounding county seats. I can't explain it really, but I loved the aura of being  where they lived. The area  has changed, but not all of it. In Stanardsville, there is a Lafayette Inn which opened in 1840 and served as a hospital during the civil war, a stagecoach stop and still today houses a restaurant. Nearby is Dicey's cottage which  housed the slaves for the Inn. The town has a very historical feel. What impressed me the most was that the Sampson pioneers  settled at the foot of the mountains. And the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains are still there! This was especially impressive to me because I live in flat Indiana.  I kept thinking while I was there--did they see the mountains as beautiful or as a barrier to the lands beyond?
     It was hard to pinpoint where they lived  exactly because the deed of the land they purchased gave this description of the land: "One hundred and fifty three acres more or less situate in Orange County and bounded; Beginning at two Gums & two white Oaks East side of Swamp on BENJA(MIN) POWELLs line. North eighty six degrees West one hundred and forty one pole to a Beach, Sycamore and Dogwood South side of the River, South seventy six degrees one hundred and fourteen poles to a parcel of Oaks N.E. side of the Road, North forty nine degrees one hundred and twenty pole two white and Spanish Oaks on a Ridge in WINSLOWs and PICKETTs lines.North forty degrees West one hundred and forty one pole to 2 white Oaks and 2 Dogwoods on West side of above mentioned Swamp to the beginning, containing One hundred  and fifty three acres and all houses orchards Profits and appurtenances to the land belonging."

     Afterthoughts--was it a crime to cut down a tree that was a boundary? Also, evidently surveyors were the ones who knew their tree names the best :)
Visiting the frontier--so glad I went.

Possible Sighting of Lucy?

   Possible sighting of Lucy Sampson? About a month ago I stumbled upon an ancestral tree of an Isaac Gregory. Isaac was married to John and Lucy's daughter, Lucy Sampson.  It showed a Louisa Ann Ralls marrying a John Sampson in Overwhartan Parrish, Stafford Virginia. I contacted the person with the tree  and have been studying the Ralls family. Louisa was the daughter of Captain John Ralls and Margaret Williams.  Louisa's brother received bounty land from his military service in western Virginia. The name Louisa and Lucy seem to be interchangeable sometimes. John and Lucy's daughter is called Lucy sometimes and Louisa in a census. Lucy (John Sr.'s wife), and John named their first child Lucy or Louisa and their son John and wife Clarissa named their first child Louisa.  Possible sighting of Lucy? I keep looking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I really didn't mean to cause a problem.

      I really didn't mean to cause a problem.  Last week I drove  to the Clay County  Indiana  Historical Society to do some family research. As I was researching, the volunteer asked  who I was looking for and she would help. "Clarissa Sampson who died in 1884", I replied. Now we were both  looking.  "Here she is!" she said. I had to say that yes it was a Clarissa Sampson and I was related to her but it was my 3rd great grandmother and I was looking for a 2nd great aunt.   We both looked a while longer. Again she exclaimed she had found her! I said that  that Clarissa Sampson was  my first great grandmother. I was  looking for the Clarissa Sampson who was my 2nd great aunt and the daughter of my 3rd great grandmother--born in 1822, died in 1884. "That can't be", she exclaimed! "If she's your 3rd great grandmother's daughter then her name can't be Sampson  if she's been married." I then set out to explain  that Aunt Clarissa had been married, married twice, first to Jacob Rodenbarger, and secondly 1 year before she died to her cousin Franklin Sampson who came out to Indiana from Virginia and married her!  So Clarissa went back to being Clarissa Sampson. The volunteer sat down. I really didn't mean to cause a problem.

Mystery Monday

     So who was Lucy? She's a mystery and I've been looking for her pre Orange County Life for a long time. I don't know her maiden name for sure or where she and John came from. I know she has passed, but I continue looking. She was the wife of John Sampson of Orange County. I've never seen a marriage record for them that I'm sure was them. My cousin Wendy first brought her to my attention. Looking through censuses she saw a Lucy Sampson living next to other family members and asked "Who is this? Later we found the record of the sale of land to William, John and Elijah. While her husband died around 1828, Lucy is alive in the census of 1850, listed as born in Virginia, 87 years old and living with her are Thornton Gregory, her 30 year old grandson and granddaughter Ophelia Beasley  and her husband James. We know her best, though, that her descendants were fighting in court over deceased son Elijah's 3rd of the land. He had moved to Tennessee a long time ago and died there but his descendants took Lucy to court over the land. This was not resolved until 1857, after Lucy  died. Next post: a possible sighting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sentimental Sunday--Who made the noodles?

     I remember Sundays being a day of having relatives in after church or going to their house. And always, there were noodles--noodles stretched out, rolled flat, floured so they  completely dusted the person making them, and carefully picked up to be put in the steaming broth. Always there were noodles. We just didn't know for sure who would be fixing them. If it was at Aunt Virginia Benell's there would be cooked egg yolks with them and the noodles would be yellower than ours.  If  at our house, they were thinner and whiter, no egg yolks included,  and always there were mashed potatoes to put them on. Once Grandma said to me as she stood powdered white by the noodle flour--don't you want to learn to do this? "Aaaaaa--not right now Grandma, not right now." I  never did take the time and the art of noodle making in our family has gone on  by. Now we don't say "Who made the noodles?" but instead "sure wish we had some".
On the geneablogger site I am using memory prompts are available for each day. I will try to post some of these in addition to family information.  Today the prompt is Sentimental Sunday.

John and Lucy

So what do we know about this John and Lucy? We know that 1787 was the first time a John Sampson was listed in the rolls in that area and there continued to be one for over 40 years.  In 1794 he purchased 153 acres of land from Presley Thornton  of Caroline County for 30 pounds and 15 shillings. This land is in the area later to be named Greene County when Orange County is divided, shaded by the Blue Ridge Mountains,  close to Stanardsville. On June 22, 1797 this land was sold to Elijah, William and John Sampson for 5 shillings and divided between them. The sale is signed by John and Lucy Sampson.  Why did they sell what seems to be the only land they own to their sons?  Perhaps John Sr is not well ( He seems to have died by 1828)  or perhaps because Elijah is wanting to move to Tennessee and they want to keep him home. We don't know.  At any rate, son John Jr. seems likely to be my direct ancestor. More to come.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I am happy to be starting this blog to share about my family that I've been researching for quite a while. The family of John and Lucy Sampson came to Orange County Virginia near 1785, raised a family, and some left for Indiana around 1836.  In the process more families and surnames interwined and created a fun group to track! Some of those other names are Jollett, Bent, Beasley, Gregory, Downing.  If you know about or are related to this group, I'd love to converse with you! More to come!