The Manhattan Project and the Oak Ridge Bus Tour

Y12_shift_change circa 1945

Shift change at the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge in 1945

Since moving to Knoxville, the Manhattan Project has become more than interest and moved into a “hobby”.   It has all the elements of a compelling story: WWII, scientific discovery, human drama, conspiracy and ethical decisions. In high school we were taught that “the bomb” brought the end of the war and in college we debated if that was really true based on the historical evidence. You can spend a lot of time in that arena of thought, but that isn’t what gets my history “spidey senses” going.

What gets me – is that the government took over a small, remote farming community in Tennessee, brought in over 70,000 people from around the country, who worked around the clock (most of them without a clue what they were working on) and took a theory of something never done before and made it happen.  They were able to create something so significant, that it changes the course of global relations, all in under 3 years – and they did in secret!

Letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt 2 Aug 1939

Letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt 2 Aug 1939

Very Short Timeline

  • 1934 – Fission produced by Enrico Fermi
  • 1938 Dec – Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discover fission in uranium.
  • 1939 Aug – Albert Einstein writes letter to Pres. Roosevelt expressing concern about the research in atomic energy and the potential for new types of bombs to be created. He gives recommendations about speeding up the experimental research. His last paragraph is a warning about Germany taking over the uranium mines in Czechoslovakia.
  • 1939 Oct – Pres. Roosevelt set up Uranium Committee.
  • 1939-1941 – Lots of research on feasibility of the bomb by scientists and the methods to produce plutonium.
  • 1941 Dec 7 – Pearl Harbor
  • 1942 Jan 19 – Pres. Roosevelt approves production of atomic weapon.
  • 1942 Sept 19 – Col. Leslie Groves head of the “Manhattan Engineering District” selects Oak Ridge as the site of the pilot plant.
  • 1942 Nov 25 – Los Alamos, New Mexico chosen as the “bomb laboratory” where scientists will work out their designs of the bomb.
  • 1943 Jan 16 – Hanford, Washington selected for plutonium production.
  • 1943 Nov 4 – Oak Ridge produces first plutonium.
  • 1944 Feb – Oak Ridge send 200 grams of uranium to Los Alamos for testing of bomb prototypes.
  • 1945 Feb – First plutonium sent to Los Alamos.
  • 1945 Aug 6 – Hiroshima bombed with uranium bomb “Little Boy.”
  • 1945 Aug 9 – Nagasaki bombed with implosion plutonium bomb “Fat Man.”

The Tour

So, you can actually take a tour of Oak Ridge which is still a Department of Energy facility. The American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge leads the bus tours with the cooperation of the DOE.  At the Oak Ridge National Lab (formerly X-10)  they do cutting edge research using things like the “Spallation Neutron Source” (don’t ask me what it does exactly) but it’s the most powerful one in the world and researchers from all over the world compete to be able to use the facilities. The Y-12 National Security Complex has a Visitors Center and small museum. And the last area of Oak Ridge is K-25, where they are completely demolishing the buildings to make the East Tennessee Technology Park Heritage Center.  There is quite a bit of security to get on campus and you are only taken to a few places, but what a unique opportunity to see where history like this happened.

Graphite Reactor - Where plutonium was first made successfully in 1943 (with maniquins to display how it would have looked)

Graphite Reactor – Where plutonium was first made successfully in 1943 (with mannequins to display how it would have looked)

Bethel Valley Church Strange sites like a church and graveyard serve as a reminder that used to be houses and farms from the communities that used to live here.  The parishoners are allowed to still bury their family here.

Bethel Valley Church
Strange sites like a church and graveyard serve as a reminder that there used to communities that lived here.  Property owners received a letter notifying them to vacate their businesses, homes and farms in just a few weeks with promise of reimbursement.  The former parishioners are allowed to still bury their family here.

K-25 Historical Sign

K-25 Historical Sign

Genealogy Impact – Many of the people who work at “the lab” today, or live in the area, have family that worked on the Manhattan Project. Oh the stories they tell!  In the town of Oak Ridge where the people lived (they were bused to the factory sites where they would go through security), there are still houses and community buildings that are used today. To get an idea of what it must have been like from the woman’s point of view, I encourage you to read Girls of the Atomic City by Denise Kiernan (one of my favorite books of 2014).





Posted in American Museum of Science and Energy Bus Tour, Knoxville Tennessee, Tennessee Genealogy, WWII | Tagged | Leave a comment

Alabama Memories: IGHR and the Kellum and McCrary Families

IGHR at Samford University June 2015

So where have I been all these weeks? In the first part of June, I was in Alabama finally attending the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s been a goal to do it and I finally was able to make it happen.  My friend Kathy joined me in taking “Research in the South” taught by J. Mark Lowe, Dr. Deborah Abbott, Linda Woodward Geiger and Michael Hait. The course focused on researching in the states to first settle the South: Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The class also spent much of the time on how to best approach your research in South e.g. migration patterns, settlement of the land, family connections and religious affiliations.  All things you would do in the North, but they take on a different tone in the South.  It really is the “soil” as Mark kept telling us. They were primarily farmers and they moved and made choices of where and how to live based on what they could grow on their land. The people who weren’t farmers were merchants and craftsman that supported the farm economy.

Picking cotton near Montgomery Alabama, 186-, Lakin, J.H. LOC

Picking cotton near Montgomery Alabama, 186-, Lakin, J.H. LOC

Dr. Abbott’s first lesson was on the records of slavery and how they can solve many genealogical problems for both the descendants of slaveholders and slaves. In fact it is the connections between the two that can help prove the ancestor.  It is the FAN principle in action. What kind of records will you find? Before 1865, most African-American people in the South were considered property.  They were bought and sold.  They were left as property in deeds and wills.  They were measured by their production and detailed records were kept about their financial worth. They were the “economy” and therefore they created records. It is a difficult and uncomfortable truth. Acknowledging it may help us all heal as we discover our relationships with one another. She also gave additional lectures on accessing manuscripts and what they can reveal that other “easier to get” to records will not.   All of the instructors gave us much to “mull and ponder” (a Lowe popular saying) and perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to sit down and write.

Holland Cemetery, Lawrence County, Alabama

Holland Cemetery, Lawrence County, Alabama

After the seminar, Kathy and I headed up to the northern part of Alabama where we could research our different lines.  We had one day to go to cemeteries together. Thank you Kathy for traipsing through who knows what in the Holland Cemetery! (Remember to wear closed shoes, long sleeve shirts and pants, a hat and insect repellent when going on cemetery excursions…luckily no ticks, snakes or chiggers were found in the search of graves!) We went to  Winston County, Alabama for Kathy’s cemetery to find graves for her Union ancestors.  Yes, in Winston County they where they were known as the “State of Winston” during the Civil War, because they fought on the side of the Union.

Lawrence County Alabama Archives

Lawrence County Archives, Alabama

And then I had one day to research at the Lawrence County Archives for documents for my Kellum, McCrary and Holland families. I have been doing a little research on and off with my southern line, but most of it was using sources I could find on line at Ancestry, Family Search etc. and some trips to Salt Lake and Washington D.C. Finally, I could look at the original records to see if they could fill in the gaps between censuses and give clues on who these people really were. What I knew:

  • Julia McCrary (1864-1895) was my 2nd great grand-mother.  She was born in Alabama and died in Texas.
  • Julia’s parents were Irvin P. McCrary and Mary Jane Kellum.
  • Irvin and Mary Jane McCrary had census records in Lawrence County, Alabama for 1850 and 1860.
  • Irvin and Mary Jane McCrary moved to Henderson County, Texas sometime after the Civil War.
  • Irvin McCrary died sometime before the 1880 census.
  • Mary Jane Kellum McCrary died sometime after 1880, but I haven’t been able to find out where/when yet.
  • Irvin’s parents were Matthew McCrary and Mary “Polly” Holland, who had also lived in Lawrence County, Alabama.
  • I had information on the McCrary and Holland Families from a book by Frances Bryant Corum that I had found at the DAR Library, but I needed to validate many of the facts.

One of my primary goals was to determine who Mary Jane Kellum’s parents were. I had a marriage record that gave her maiden name, but no records with the names of her parents. After a few hours at the archives, I did find a record that named Mary Jane Kellum’s father and everything that Dr. Abbott taught us was made crystal clear.  What did I find? The only record I could find that named Mary Jane Kellum’s father was a deed. A deed transferring ownership of the 14-year-old black slave girl Martha, from Thomas R. Kellum to his daughter Mary Jane Kellum McCrary in 1854.

Kellum and McCrary Deed 1854

Thomas R. Kellum and Mary Jane Kellum McCrary Deed 1854, Lawrence County Archives, Alabama

So, ironically the key to answering my genealogical quandary was dependent on a document of slavery, that proved my ancestors were slave owners. The Kellum’s were slave owners and the McCrary’s were slave owners.  Their prosperity and livelihood was dependent on the work and labor of the slaves they owned.  They created records because of it.  There are tax records, deeds, wills etc. all discussing their slaves.  These human beings had names – Tess, Sara, Martha, Fanny, Nancy, Lucinda, Rachael, Albert, Dave, Tilda, Jim, Noel, Ester, Charles, Maria, Matthias, Nelson, Patsy, Sophia, Terry, Rhoda, Adkins, Edmund, Peggy and Ann.

It is a strange feeling to read about something so abhorrent that it chills me. No, I am not responsible for my ancestor’s actions 150 years ago. However, I am responsible for writing about it and telling the whole story. I also want to find out what happened to these people after the Civil War.  Where did they go? What did they do?  What last names did they take?  What happened to Martha? She would have been 25 years old at the end of the Civil War. Did she go to Texas with the McCrary’s? Did she stay in Alabama? I will let you know what I find out.

Posted in Civil War, Slavery, Southern Ancestors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Objects of Love and Memory

The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn RaffelI have recently read a book of short essays called The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel.  The author reflects on objects around her home that have significance.  These are things she inherited from her mother who recently passed away, that were given to her by her grandparents and that she has collected as an adult.  She writes about her memories of the objects and what she was doing when she acquired them in various stages of her life.  I have thought how marvelous that her children will have this book to refer to when going they are going through her belongings when she dies.

Why do we hold on to certain objects and what memories to they possess? As we all attempt to declutter our own houses and deal with aging/deceased parents, what is kept and what is given away? To know what was important to our loved ones and why, makes the decision so much easier.  Would your children and descendants know what is important to you in your home and why you kept it?  Shouldn’t we write it down?

I have started to look around my house and see what I have collected in my 50+ years and to think seriously about what I would want my children to save when I am gone. Of course there are the photos of ancestors and treasures that I have inherited from the great-grandparents via my grandmother and my mother. There are very few items, when you consider that I have 30 direct ancestors from the previous 4 generations, most who died less than a hundred years ago.  I have said that I have come from ancestors that were “movers”, not “stayers” and with that comes a mentality of looking forward and not holding onto land, memories, stories or “things”.   So, true “antiques” are at a minimum, but I am working on documenting each one and what I know about their history.

Springer Spaniel and Books

But what about the things from my generation? I have tried to be thoughtful about what I kept from my own life when I packed and moved across the country, already thinking about what my children would potentially need to deal with when I go.  These are the things that aren’t necessarily old, but are attached to memories from my life.   My children will be lucky in one way; I do not collect nick knacks and hate things that require dusting regularly.  With that said, I hold on to the English Springer Spaniel statues that my grandmother brought back from at trip to England, because they remind me of her and seeing them on her fireplace mantel when I was growing up.  They are next to the old books that she gave me, some we bought together at an antique bookstore in downtown Los Angeles and a few from my great-grandparents.  (Dear children, if you are reading this…I promise to haunt you if you give away any of the old books on my shelves.)

Dad’s Tommy Bahama Shirt

Then there is one of my Dad’s Hawaiian shirts. When my dad died, my step mom had us all pick out one of his Hawaiian shirts to remember him by and to wear at his wake.  When I see this Tommy Bahama shirt, I picture him in it, cooking fish stew or some new recipe he was trying out from the Food Channel.  I cannot bear to part with it.

Mom’s Beaded Spoons

These serving spoons are a gift from my mother.  She was glass artist and made jewelry among other crafty pursuits.  She went through a period where she decorated serving utensils with glass beads and gave them as wedding and house warming gifts.  I commissioned Mom to make numerous sets for me to give to give to friends who got married because they were beautiful and a way to support my mom’s business.  I couldn’t seem to find a full set of mine when I was taking pictures.  Wonder where they are?

My Rocking Chair

My Rocking Chair

This is my rocking chair from when I was a child.  It was part of an all white bedroom set that included a dresser, a bed frame and a rocking chair.  It is a miracle that I have this chair (I don’t have very much from my childhood, but that is another story).  Somehow my Dad and my step-mom had it and she painted it dark brown.  When I was married and started to have children, she sent it to me.  At least that is what I think it is from….

So what objects do you keep and what would you want your children to hang on to? Perhaps it is time to start taking pictures of them and writing why they are important to you.  Leave a little bit of yourself behind to remember.

Posted in Books, Genealogy General | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Civil War and Reconstruction Revisited

1st Colored Heavy Artillery Color Guard

1st Colored Heavy Artillery Color Guard

I was privileged to be able to attend events here in Knoxville this last weekend to celebrate the Sesquicentennial (150 years) of the ending of the Civil War.   The “Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee” events were all over the city to help people remember the Civil War’s significance in our history and how we still feel the impact of it today.   We think of the “glory” of the battles, the generals, the loss of family members, but we don’t spend as much time on what followed to address the issues that started the war.  “Reconstruction” has become a distasteful term and it was glossed over in my history books (or at least that is how I remember it) because of its failures and how difficult it was to implement.

I attended 3 events that all attempted to continue the discussion about Reconstruction.  Perhaps if we keep looking at it, we can truly accomplish the promised changes it was supposed to bring.

Remembering the Civil War by Dr. Caroline E. JanneyDr. Caroline E. Janney gave Thursday’s opening night’s lecture based on her book “Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation.” Her speech discussed three basic themes: 1) how Unionists and Confederates saw “Reconciliation”…it was not as friendly as it is depicted 2) the issue of slavery and how both sides saw it post war 3) the role of women in Civil War societies and how different it was in the south vs. the north (surprise…bigger role for women in the south.)

Friday was the official commemoration with local political officials, representatives of the Sesquicentennial Commission and the state historian.  Following that was a panel discussion of historians on “Reconstruction Tennessee.”  They covered the successes and failures of reconstruction and why.  The successes were the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th amendment which makes all people born in America citizens, and the 15th Amendment giving all men the right to vote.  Sadly the successes were overshadowed by racism, violence and the negative reputation of the “Northern Carpetbaggers.” The historians of the William Dunning School perpetuated the ugly image of Reconstruction, as did popular culture through such films as “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone with the Wind.”   We see “Reconstruction” continued with legal battles against segregation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how we will deal with racism today.

My final and favorite event was the Color Guard demonstration of the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery and the presentation of their transcribed military records to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.  This was momentous because the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery soldiers, who had served in Knoxville during the Civil War (and many settled here after the war), were not invited to the 1890 and 1895 Blue & Grey Reunions in Knoxville.  They had served their country with distinction and then were not allowed to attend the all white events to share in the camaraderie and remembrance.

African American Civil War Memorial (Picture taken by David in Flicker

African American Civil War Memorial (Picture by David on Flickr

The presentation was followed by a lecture by Dr. Frank Smith, Executive Director of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C.. Dr. Smith reminded the audience that there were over 200,000 black men that served as soldiers in the Civil War.  He told some wonderful stories about individuals who had escaped slavery in order to serve, including Michelle Obama’s ancestor.  Descendants of soldiers come into the museum seeking to know more about their ancestors and some even bring their own original documents. (Video) The Museum is one of the sponsors of the “Grand Review Victory Parade” on May 17th in Washington, D.C., where they are expecting that over 10,000 reenactors will march.  It’s important that Regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) participate, as they weren’t allowed to be there at the 1865 Grand Review celebrating the end of Civil War.  It’s time to see them march for their ancestors and be honored for their contribution.

Note: If you would like to know more about the USCT in the Civil War there is a lecture by Hari Jones on the Civil War Trust website.

Also, Tennessee is not forgetting Reconstruction either – Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation has published a driving tour brochure with over 100 locations in Tennessee that played a role in Reconstruction.  History is alive and well…it gives you hope!

Posted in Civil War, Knoxville Tennessee, Tennessee Genealogy, Tennessee Genealogy Records | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jennie Gammon Part II – What happens to the Gammon Family after the Civil War?

General Lee surrender to Gen. Grant - Library of Congress

General Lee surrenders to General Grant – Library of Congress

The war was a life altering experience for the Gammon Family, as it had been for everyone in the country. After 9 months in the prisoner of war camp in Indianapolis, George is released in a prisoner exchange in February of 1865.  He wastes no time hooking back up with a unit of the Tennessee army.  On their way to Virginia, they find out that Lee has surrendered at Appomattox on April 9th. George makes his way back to Jonesboro, Tennessee and joins his brother Hammy at their uncle’s house. George and Hammy are finally able to return to Knoxville in June of 1865. George writes in his memoir “We met your grandfather, Aunt Jennie and old Billy at the depot and went home.  As we walked down Gay Street with our ragged clothes, we were recognized by a few and jeered by some.”1   Soon after George had to go to Chattanooga to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, a step that all Confederates were required to do to begin the process of uniting the country.

Baker_Abner Tombstone Knoxville TN

Abner Baker’s tombstone in front of his former home in Knoxville, TN. Do look at the inscription!

Unfortunately, efforts of reconciliation for Knoxville residents were not easy.  The effects of civil war on the populace brought out the worst in people as they settled scores from before and during the war.  They were also dealing with the deaths of family members, the loss of property and fear of what life be like after the war.   It was in this atmosphere that two ex soldiers, Confederate Abner Baker (a college friend of George) and Unionist William Hall, got in a fight and Hall was shot and killed by Baker.  A mob formed and took Baker from jail and lynched him. There is still arguments today about who was at fault and the motivations 2, but the end result was that ex Confederate soldiers did not feel safe in Knoxville and many left the city, including George and Hammy.  George moved to Memphis and stayed with Col. Robert Fain Looney (an extended family member), until the early part of 1869.  Joseph “Hammy” Gammon moved to London, Kentucky and stayed there until he died in 1873.

Nathan Gammon appears to have remained in Knoxville and applied for amnesty directly to his old Tennessee friend, President Andrew Johnson, in late July of 1865.  His world had literally turned upside down in just 5 years.  In 1860, he had been a clerk of the District Court of the United States, with a large family and moderate wealth. He is indicted for treason by a Grand Jury in 1864 related to his service in the Court of the Confederacy.  At the end of the war, he is obliged to appeal to the President for a special pardon, so as to be able to do any type of business and provide for his family.  It is not surprising that he died within a few years on June 14, 1869.

Nathan Gammon Amnesty Letter 27 Jul 1865 - Accessed on

Nathan Gammon Amnesty Letter to President Johnson on 27 Jul 1865 – Accessed on

I haven’t been able to find the family in the 1870 census or the 1869 city directory, but according to the Pritchett book, Jennie, George and their mother Mary were living in Knoxville in reduced circumstances.  The next available city directory is not until 1876, but there I found George working as a bookkeeper.  George eventually marries, owns his own insurance company and is elected to local political offices.  Jennie is listed in the 1882 city directory working as a teacher at the Bell House School.  Knoxville started the free public school system in 1871 and in 1876 a teacher’s salary was $44.05 per month.3   Jennie is the principle of the school by 1888 and continues in that role through 1892.  She returns to being a teacher in 1893 and seems to retire by 1899.  Through the years the family is able to recover financially and build a new life with respect from their community.  Jennie never marries and lives with her mother Mary, her brother and his family for most of her life. Mary dies in 1895 and George dies in 1915.

In December of 1925, Jennie is in a car accident with her family on Christmas Eve and dies the next day of complications. The articles about the car accident and her obituary all mention how much Jennie was admired and loved by former students.  I bet she was a tough teacher, but loyal and loving…just as she was with her family.

Note:  I relied heavily on Margaret Gammon Pritchett’s book, The Gammons of East Tennessee, to help fill in the gaps when records were missing.  She mentions in her introduction that she was left many letters and first hand accounts of the Civil War from her father’s family. This is a reminder (again) of how important it is to document our family’s history, as this might be the only way for their story to be told and heard by following generations.  Thank you Ms. Pritchett for taking the time to write it all down!

1 Margaret Gammon Pritchett, The Gammons of East Tennessee (Jacksonville: M.G. Pritchett, 1992), 101.

2 Amy McRary, “Ex-Confederate Abner Baker was hanged by mob,” (Knoxville) News Sentinel, 12 Apr 2015, p. 8E, cols. 1-5.

3 Knoxville City Schools, A history of the Knoxville public schools. (Knoxville: Knoxville Public Schools, 1952).

Other Records used:

  • Census and slave schedules –
  • Nathan Gammon’s Confederate amnesty request –
  • Obituaries – Gammon Family File, McClung Collection, Knoxville, TN
  • Knoxville City Directories – McClung Collection, Knoxville, TN
  • Jennie’s Death Certificate –
  • National Park Service Civil War Soldiers Database
  • Library of Congress Digital Collection – Photographs from the Civil War
  • McKenzie, Robert Tracy. Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Posted in Civil War, Knoxville Tennessee, Southern Ancestors, Tennessee Genealogy, Tennessee Genealogy Records | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Jane (Jennie) Letitia Gammon (1834-1925) – Heroic Daughter, Nurse to Confederate Soldiers and Educator

Jennie Gammon (1834-1925)

Jennie Gammon (1834-1925)

I was first intrigued by Jennie, when I saw her name on the notable persons list at Old Gray’s cemetery with the description “Helping nurse the wounded, CSA”.  We don’t often know the stories of the women who lived through the Civil War and I was curious about what I could find out about her.

Early Years

Jennie was one of 6 children born to Mary Hamilton and Nathan Gammon in Jonesboro, Tennessee. The family already had deep roots in the area; Nathan’s grandfather Richard Gammon signed the Tennessee State Constitution in 1796. Nathan moved his family to Knoxville in the 1850’s where he was a merchant responsible for transporting goods from the Tennessee River to the interior.  When the railroad came to town, he served as the first freight agent.  He later became Clerk for the District Court of the United States (Court of the Confederacy in 1861-1863).  It is reported that Jennie helped her father with transcribing documents for the court. The family owned 5 slaves (3 adult males and 2 children), according to the slave schedules of 1850 and 1860.

Civil War

Jennie would have been 26 years old when the Civil War started.  Her three brothers William, Joseph Hamilton (Hammy) and George joined the Confederate Army.  At first this would have been a heady, high-spirited, patriotic time when the Confederate Army was in control of Knoxville, but it must have quickly became more stressful as the tides of war turned.  William was wounded in the arm and unable to stay in the army.  He was released from service in the spring of 1863.  It appears that Hammy served the Confederate cause until the war ended in 1865. He must have had some perilous experiences as suggested from family letters that tell of his near escapes from capture. Unfortunately, George was not so lucky and he was taken prisoner by the Union Army in the summer of 1864 and taken to Camp Morton in Indianapolis.

Camp Morton Indianapolis 1862-1865 (Library of Congress)

Camp Morton Indianapolis 1862-1865 (Library of Congress)

In September 1864, William traveled to Indiana to see George at the Confederate prisoner of war camp.  He was unable to see him in person, but left him gifts and money from the family.  Afterwards, William went north to New York and New Jersey.  It is not clear from his letters if he was there on family or military business.  And then he disappears…….  His father, Nathan, looked for him after the war, but without success. The family assumed that he was murdered. (I have some very un-genealogically supported theories on this one….but perhaps I have read too many mystery/conspiracy books.)

Univ of TN Knoxville 1903 (Library of Congress)

Univ of TN Knoxville 1903 (Library of Congress)

Meanwhile, Knoxville was occupied by the Union Army by the fall of 1863 and the Union sympathizers had their revenge on the Confederate supporters.  According to family stories (I haven’t been able to get a copy of “Reminisces” presented to the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1899 which might confirm these), Jennie was small but a “veritable storehouse of energy.” She protected her family from angry mobs and went to court with her father when he was arrested for treason for his role as Clerk for Court of the Confederacy.  She fed and nursed Confederate Soldiers that were at the temporary hospital at the University of Tennessee.  She even received a bullet wound in her leg by a stray “minnie” and refused to be seen by a Union doctor.  She sounds like a spitfire!

More about Jennie’s life after the Civil War in Part II

Posted in Civil War, Tennessee Genealogy, Tennessee Genealogy Records, Women Ancestors | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Genealogy Conferences and Seminars – Preparing in Advance for the Trip

It’s that time of year when there are many upcoming genealogy conferences and seminars. It has me thinking about all the things I need to do ahead of time to make sure I make the most of the time I am there.

Luggage - Saturday Evening Post 1933 pg 892  Flicker Commons

Luggage – Saturday Evening Post 1933 pg 892
Flicker Commons


  • Registration for the event – register for the event, meals and any special activities.
  • Hotel reservations – make reservations well in advance to ensure I get a room and see if any of my genealogy buddies want to join me!
  • Packing – sometimes this is the hardest part
    • Clothes – What will the weather be like? If you are attending the Northwest Genealogical Conference in Washington…layers are always recommended! Also with air-conditioning, a light weight sweater is good to stick in your bag.  Do I need to dress up for any evening functions? I will be sure to pack my go-to black pants that pack well and work for multiple types of occasions.
    • Will I need a computer or not? Will my iPad be sufficient?
    • Will I be doing any research when I am there? Bring research plan and documents I need to reference (preferably on my computer)
    • Conference staples – bag, water bottle, protein bars, pens, notebook and whatever must-have’s I need. Lately it’s been peach gummies.
    • Pack camera or will my phone be enough?
  • Restaurant reservations – I am a foodie, so I do research on restaurants in the area and make reservations in advance, especially if they are popular.

Conference Schedule:

  • First pass at the schedule – I do a quick review of the schedule to see the overall design of the conference so that I know if there are particular tracks that I want to focus on.
  • Selection of classes – I print out the schedule and make my selections based on 1) my educational goals for the year 2) speakers I just can’t miss and 3) classes I may not have a chance to take in the near future. This year I trying to fill in some gaps I have regarding land records and how to use DNA results to help my research.  There are so many good speakers at the NwGC, attendees are going to have tough choices to make!
  • At the conference – I reserve the right to make a different choice on classes when I get to the conference.

Genealogy Research in the Area:

  • Do I have any ancestors that lived in the area? This is great chance to go to libraries, genealogy societies and archives in the area.
    • I determine the best location to get the most information I can, especially if I am on a time limit.
    • Confirm days and times they are open. Do I need to make an appointment?
    • Develop a detailed research plan well in advance. I have paid dearly in the past by not having a comprehensive plan and I have to return to Texas because of it. It was a very expensive lesson. Do this!

      Current Research Log (Modified from Thomas MacEntee's)

      My Current Knoxville TN Research Log (Modified from Thomas MacEntee’s)

    • Are there any cemeteries, houses, sites where significant events took place for my ancestors? I will create a strategy to get to as many as I can and map them with addresses, directions and any identifying markers about the place.
Seattle - Space Needle, Ferry, Pike Place Market anyone?

Seattle – Space Needle, Ferry, Pike Place Market anyone?


  • What are the historical and “must see” sites in the area? – Review “top ten” sightseeing websites to determine if I can manage the time to go see some of them.

I am sure I have forgotten something, so please let me know if there is something I should add!

Posted in Genealogy General | Tagged , | Leave a comment