Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How I Became a Genealogy Addict

William A. Trammell/Hunter (1842-1928) and Emaline Ray Trammell/Hunter(1846-1925)

As far as inspiration to do family research, the above, William A. Hunter, my great grandfather is the granddaddy of all the other genealogy inspirations I have had.

After my grandfather Frank Paris Hunter had died I heard for the first time that Frank often wondered what his real name was. He said his father was adopted.

I wished I had known that before he had died I would have pumped with questions. In the last years of his life he and I were buddies. We lived with him. He taught me to ride my bike and we talked about this and that…. No biggies.

After my oldest son Rocky was born I thought when he got older it would be nice if he knew his heritage; his ancestors… and what messes they got themselves into. Then when I really involved in research my son Adam was born so I had twice the enthusiasm.

I thought I would take the hardest first, my Hunter line, because as far as we knew it stopped with my great grandfather, the guy above.

I knew a few things already about William: He was born in Franklin, North Carolina; he was shot on Kennesaw Mountain during the Civil War; he died in Woodstock, Georgia; and was buried at Carmel Baptist Church just outside of Woodstock.

The first thing I did was went to Carmel Baptist Church and found his grave and wrote down the dates. While there, I wrote down other Hunters and Tysons buried there.

I went to the Kennesaw Mountain Museum. On a data base they had a listing of every CSA soldier that fought in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain – maybe Yankees too - in June 1864, William Hunter was not listed.

By the way, this research involved his wife Emaline Ray too, but at first William was my main target – at first, any research I did on Emaline’s Ray family was merely to shed more light on my Hunter research.

I asked around and researched genealogy research also. I found that census enumerating can give very good information. The Cobb County Library at the time was on Atlanta Street where the Old Post Office was, and currently is the Marietta Art Museum had a genealogy research room and censuses on microfilm.

I learned that Federal Censuses were taken every ten years, on years divided by ten, such as 1850, 1860, 1870, and so on. William was born in 1842. I needed to look at the Franklin, NC, census for 1850 and look for a Hunter family with an eight year old boy name William. NOT!

I soon found out that censuses are taken by counties, not cities, and I learned that Franklin was in Macon County. So, I got the 1850 Macon County, NC, microfilm threaded on their readers and slowly went through it…. I did this every morning after I got off work….. I am not sure I was slow because I didn’t want to miss anything or because I was tired.

There was no William Hunter, age 8, on the 1850 Macon County Census. There was only one Hunter family in Macon County at the time, Jason H. Hunter.

What I did next was a little unorthodox but it got results. I had a neighbor who worked for Bell South get me a telephone book of Franklin, NC. I sent each Hunter and Ray family that was listed an inquiry asking if they had any information about William Hunter who married Emaline Ray – and included a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). That was an expensive endeavor for a family trying to get by on a Postal employee’s pay, so I sent out 10 inquires a pay day.

Finally I received a letter on RAY’S NORTH CAROLNA HAMS letter head saying he didn’t know anything but his cousin William Hess Ray probably did. He said William did not have a phone so I probably didn’t have his address in Otto, North Carolina, just south of Franklin, almost at the Georgia state line.

I wrote William Hess Ray. He wrote me a short letter back. These aren’t the exact words, but he said something to the effect that my g-grandfather was named William Trammell and he after the Civil War he and his brother Van Trammell killed a man over a horse and fled. Van went to Arkansas and William went to Texas.

BONG!!!! I hit pay dirt. Over the years I sent William Hess Ray many letters asking for details, but I guess he figured he did his duty and told me the basics – then it was up to me to find the details. Which I did.

I went back to the library and got the same census microfilm and went through it looking for William A. Trammell. I found him in the Jacob B. Trammell household, age 8. Now we were on to something.

I went back to the Kennesaw Mountain Museum and found William A. Trammell, who fought for south in 139th NC Regiment, Company I – out of Macon County, NC.

And last but not least, I received a copy of the marriage log of William A. Trammell marrying Emaline Ray.

Later looking at estate papers of Jacob Trammell, I learned that Jacob was William’s grandfather and his mother Rebecca Trammell had died before 1850 and Jacob and his Indian wife Polly adopted William.

Further studying court records I found that the Jason H. Hunter was Jason Henderson Hunter and was a womanizer. He was brought up before court several times with women suing him for bastardy.

Also, studying it all, I found out Van, just about William’s same age, was his uncle, not his brother and his real name was Jacob Van Buren Trammell.

Then everything came together.

Just in the past few years did I learn about the killing: Van fought for the south. He and Bert Lambert was discussing politics in Lambert’s Cove and the discussion got heated. Bert fought for the north. And, simply, Van hit him with either his rifle butt or a big stick and killed him.

The sheriff had sufficient reason to believe Van did the killing but then William step forward and was Van’s alibi… William said he and Van were together that day, no place near Lambert’s Cove. Which was enough for the sheriff to release Van.

Then the sheriff found definite proof and had warrants for Van and William. They both, with their families quickly moved out of the county.

There are many details I found out while researching all this – for instance, Polly, the Indian grandmother, drowned in the Little Tennessee River near Franklin while attending her fish traps.

There are letters between Jason Henderson Hunter and William recognizing each as father and son… many years after the war.

Jason was a dashing war hero battling the Yankee iron-clad ships on the Mississippi.

By then I was addicted to family research. I continued to fine bizarre happenings with other ancestors and relatives…..

Well, I can’t find a point to shut-up, so it might as well be here.

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Blogger kenju said...

You were lucky that guy answered your letter!!

4:58 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I have had amazing luck in searching my roots - sometimes I think it is "Divine Luck".

5:21 AM  
Blogger Si's blog said...

Hey, nice work!

With a minimum of effort, found a lot of stuff about my Daugherty family. Including a Signer - John Hart. But would love to find out stuff about my Mother's family - German Pennsylvania coal community, Osceola Mills. Stines and Rumbergers. Guess I need to do what you did, go there and look.

4:53 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I have been very lucky too.... like I mentioned in the comment to Judy, "Divinely lucky".

I think sometime I'll do a post on how some genealogical stuff just fell into my lap from nowhere.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

I wrote a great comment about your finding me, and Blogger said I'd already posted it and ate the whole thing.

Suffice to say, like Greenville Pullen, we've been 'Found Variously' in our searches.

8:06 AM  
Blogger ET said...


All roads lead to Greenville (Pullen).
Speaking of Greenville, every time I think of him I think of his wife being the only person in their traveling party willing to submerge under water to loose the wheel or whatever caused it to stick.
Of course, I haven't heard the whole story.

9:10 AM  

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