[ Doug & Neely ]

Our Family

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More on the Mayes Family

13 March 2016

Big thanks to Sheila Tabor, who sent lots of great data about the Mayes family, starting with Sherrod "Sherwood" Mayes. He moved from Virginia to the Kentucky/Tennessee border in the late 1700s, and his great-granddaughter Mahala Mayes married John William Kelley to (eventually) become my great-great grandmother. It's wonderful to fill in some gaps in our database, and you can read much more about Sherrod here.

Birmingham Stories

17 August 2015

I spent last Saturday touring Birmingham with Dad, seeing the places of his childhood and hearing the stories that go along with them. There's the story about how William Douglas Millar was fired from the superintendent position he'd held for years, so the factory owner's son could take the job instead. There's the one about William Kelley Sr. losing a tooth as a boy, hit by a rock while on top of his house. I learned about Jack MacCaw and his Penny dog food company (which apparently lives on above Regions Field). And I learned some history that's thankfully left in the past: the Phillips 66 station with three doors down its side, labeled “Men”, “Women”, and “Colored”.

Farewell to Tingham

18 April 2014

We celebrate the life of Martha Louise Millar, who passed away 9 April 2014 in Montgomery, AL, aged 95 years. Known to the family as Tingham, she made up for having no children of her own by adopting all the rest. Her big house on the lake was always full of cousins and adventures, and she was always full of plans. She volunteered widely, served as a leader at church, and was always delighted to see young people—but made sure we stayed in line. She is survived by 42 grand-nieces and -nephews, along with many others who loved and admired her. Here's her obituary.

Farewell to Barbara

27 November 2013

We celebrate the life of Barbara Jo Cayley, who passed away 24 November 2013 in Thomasville, AL, aged 85 years. Barbara taught sixth-grade science, was a long-time member of the Thomasville Methodist Church, and made a killer potato casserole (her loathing of green vegetables was famous in the family). She is survived by her husband Edwin, along with descendants down to three great grandchildren, so far. You can learn more by reading her obituary.

Farewell to Isabel

9 August 2013

We celebrate the life of Isabel Bouldin Edmunds Gillespie, who passed away 1 August 2013 in Greensboro, NC, aged 91 years. Passionate about education and community, Isabel taught and volunteered throughout her life. She is survived by her husband Don and sister Nancy, along with many descendants. You can read her obituary in the Greensboro News & Record. And thanks for Becca Messman for sharing her beautiful eulogy.

And the letters.

16 April 2013

Alright, I've scanned and uploaded the collection of about 25 letters to and from Roscoe Stephenson Sr., shared with me by Kate Haemmel. All will appear on our What's New page for a few weeks, and are always available in our Documents database. Thanks again to those who saved these for the last century!

Hello, Bickhams!

10 February 2013

This month I had the happy surprise of hearing from my second cousin Jennifer Huggins Delgado, hailing from faraway Alaska. Jennifer helped catch me up on the recent history of the descendants of her grandmother Margaret Ford Bickham, none of whom I have known very well (though maybe we met once in the 80s). Hi y'all, and welcome! Jennifer also sent three great family photos—thanks!

Facebook Status, 1904

25 January 2013

Facebook barely existed in 2004, much less 1904. But if as a college man at that time Roscoe Bolar Stephenson had been able to update his status, he might have written about the Glee Club going to Buena Vista one night (“We would have had quite a time if we had seen the girls but they wouldn't allow us to talk to them anyway”); friends sick with measles, mumps, and smallpox; and student money troubles (“Five dollars don't go far, I'll tell you”). Roscoe's mother, Margaret, might have welcomed Facebook: “I hope you are well, you never say how you are.” These and other glimpses into the daily lives of Margaret, Roscoe, his father Oscar, and his younger sister Susan jump right out from a collection of Roscoe's letters recently forwarded to me by Kate Haemmel. They were kept for many years by her father, family historian Bill Haemmel. My heartfelt thanks go to both! Kate also sent a few dozen photos, which I'll post as soon as I can get my hands on a proper flatbed scanner.

Dispatches from Kentucky

25 August 2012

I had the pleasure this week of being contacted by Sheila Faye Kelley Tabor, who set right to work improving and updating our records of the Kelley family over the last two centuries. Sheila grew up on the family farm in Kentucky and knew many of the Kelleys who lived their lives there. She shares dates and data starting with William McKendrie Kelley, born 1819, all the way down to some young grand-nephews. Even better, she shares a wonderful collection of antique photos, depicting Kelleys as historic as Dr. James Kelley (born 1839) and Jack Kelley (born 1845). To see more of Sheila's work, you can browse the descendants of Jack Kelley—and don't forget the What's New page.

The Bouldin Baptismal Dress

29 June 2012

In 1897, Isabel Carter Bouldin was baptised in a long, lacy white gown. Her brother Thomas wore it three years later, and the gown has now been used for 22 baptisms spanning five generations. It's a delicate bit of beautiful cloth, boxed with needle and thread, and still in use. This spring Kay Gillespie worked out the full list of babies baptised in the gown, which shows quite an amazing history: Isabel Carter Bouldin, Thomas Vanderford Bouldin, Isabel Bouldin Edmunds, Nancy Barksdale Edmunds, Jane Briscoe Edmunds, Donald Edwin Gillespie, Jr., Walter Lewis Hannah, Jr., Martha Elizabeth Stephenson, Roscoe Bolar Stephenson, III, Thomas Edmunds Stephenson, Nancy Edmunds Hannah, Rebecca Kearfott Gillespie, Douglas Haynes Kelley, Jane Riley Stephenson, Kathryn Edmunds Gillespie, Roscoe Bolar Stephenson, IV, William Mendenhall Gillespie, Patrick Tyler Hannah, Sarah Bouldin Gillespie, Lewis Alexander Hannah, Jessie Crosswell Kelley, and Martha McCall Kelley.

Farewell to Walter

8 June 2012

We celebrate the life of Walter Lewis Hannah, who passed away 5 June 2012 in Greensboro, NC, aged 87 years. An attorney, Walter served as an officer of the North Carolina Bar Association as well as volunteering with national advisory groups. He also served as a scoutmaster and was a Kiwanian and Jaycee. Walter is survived by his wife Nancy as well as a number of siblings and descendants. You can read two obituaries for Walter in the Greensboro News & Record.

Farewell to Jane

3 June 2012

We celebrate the life of Jane Briscoe Edmunds Stephenson, who passed away 31 May 2012 in Covington, VA, aged 83 years. She lived in grace and style, always holding high expectations—for herself most of all. She was predeceased by one year and one day by her husband Roscoe, and is survived by two sisters and three generations of descendants.

Farewell to Rodney

12 April 2012

We celebrate the life of Rodney L. Ellefson, who passed away 7 April 2012 in Watertown, SD, aged 80 years. Rodney was a doctor of veterinary medicine and a generous contributor to this site. He served the U.S. Army in Panama during the Korean war, supported many community organizations, and enjoyed hunting and fishing. Rodney is survived by a large and growing family, many of whom are listed here as well as in Rodney's obituary.

Farewell to Potcha

7 December 2011

We celebrate the life of Theodore W. Ellefson, Sr., who passed away 6 December 2011 in Greenville, SC, aged 88 years. Lovingly known as “Potcha,” he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1944, serving our country's military for 30 years before retiring as Chief Warrant Officer and receiving the Air Force Commendation Medal. You can read his obituary in the Greenville News.

More Hayneses

7 August 2011

I just made the happy acquaintance of my fourth cousin Steve Lawsongatch, a relation through the Haynes family. Steve shared great data about the Hayneses, including a number of very old photos. Find them among the photos tagged “Haynes”, the descendants of John Douglas Haynes, or the ancestors of Elsworth Haynes.

Farewell to Rocky

5 June 2011

We celebrate the life of Justice Roscoe B. Stephenson, Jr., who passed away 30 May 2011 in Covington, VA, aged 89 years. He lived a tremendous life; I pray that in my own time on earth I might accomplish even a fraction as much and inspire even a fraction as many. The governor of Virginia ordered flags flown at half staff this week. Rocky's obituary was published by the Virginian Review (subscription required); you can also read about him on Wikipedia.

Elwood Who?

18 February 2010

A few of us have a new diversion. It's Elwood Haynes, born 1857, inventor of Stellite, stainless steel, and (sort of) the automobile — also possible relative to a lot of folks we know. Elwood displayed a keen interest in technical matters coupled with business acumen that was downright mediocre, a pair of traits that sounds eerily familiar to our family. He also seems to have shared the family looks. But was he actually a relative? We're chasing the Hayneses back through Massachussetts and hope to report back with a definite answer soon.

Engineering, Science, and Kelleys

9 August 2009

After a long time away from genealogical hobbies, spent tending my own young family and my fledgling scientific career, I've come back thinking about the Kelley family and its long relationship to science and engineering. There is my father, his father, and his father—all trained as engineers, as am I. There are my aunts the programmers and my grandmother the physics major (who married a Kelley, even if she wasn't born one). There is Tom Kelley Meador, who I've come to know this spring, an engineer through and through, as are most of his children. And there is my great-great-uncle Walter P. Kelley, a soil scientist and member of the National Academy of Science, to whom I feel connected not only by blood but by the quiet, sacred liturgies of scholarly study.

Is the Kelley tendency toward the hard sciences an affinity, an aptitude, or simply an accident? Whatever we make of the patterns, like this one, that appear in every family, they certainly become part of the family identity. And wouldn't it be interesting to meet the rural Kentucky farmers from whom all these engineers and scientists are descended? So often in these “modern” times we think of farming as just a simple job of strong backs and leathery hands, but it is easy now for me to imagine those Kelley farmers as engineers, studying the challenges of farm life and designing solutions, one by one.

Rodney's Research

30 June 2007

This month I have been pleased to become acquainted with Uncle Rodney “Doc” Ellefson, who was kind enough to write, sharing quite a lot of genealogical knowledge. Rodney has been as far as Norway researching the family, and it turns out he was the source of the information we found about the Schüürmanns (see Stories from Germany, below). Now he's given us similar information about the Ellefsons and their roots in Voss, Norway. For a good summary, see the ancestors of Lewis Ellefson.

In terms of numbers of people, Rodney has given us an even larger amount of information about the many descendants of Lewis Ellefson—his nine children, 34 grandchildren, their children, their spouses, and so on. Here's a summary of what I've posted so far, which will grow as I find time to post more. Enjoy!

South Carolina Roots

11 June 2007

While vacationing at Litchfield Beach, we managed to post quite a bit of new information about the Ellefson, Schurman, and McCall families. We've learned about ancestors of Alice Schurman as far back as the early 18th century. We've also posted a few dozen photos: Ellefsons, McCalls, Trippes, and more. The easiest place to see all we've done recently—at least for the next month—is the What's New page. Don't forget that you won't see information about living people unless you log in, and please do make corrections as you see mistakes.

Stories from Germany

3 June 2007

This weekend we've found some information in Patcha's house about his mother's roots in Simonswolde, Germany. One vivid story emerges right away: After Klaas Dirks Schüürmann lost his wife and Tielke Martens Klingenberg lost her husband, they married in 1863, turning their two families into one. But that wasn't all, because in 1878 Klaas's son Ede Klaassen Schüürmann married Tielke's daughter Grietje Martens Rademacher, and so the families became even closer!

Newly upgraded!

4 February 2007

This weekend I've upgraded to the newest version of the databasing software that runs our site. Some of the improvements:

Enjoy the site, and give me a yell if you have questions!

Studying the Scruggs line

4 October 2006

It's official… Scruggs is now the most common surname in our database. As I write, they number 291 in all, with at least nine men who bore the name Gross Scruggs. Another measure of their magnitude: Elizabeth Kieth Scruggs married William Chilton and bore eleven sons and no daughters. (Supposing you have eleven children, chance that all are male: 1 in 2048!) This wealth of information is coming from Scruggs Genealogy, compiled by Ethel Hastings Scruggs Dunklin and published 1912, a photocopy of which found its way to Mom and Dad's house.

"How to" pages

30 July 2006

Spent some time today starting a collection of How to pages for the site, which will always be available in the box at left. The collection will grow as I have time to improve it and have ideas of what information would be most useful. Hope it helps! If you have an idea or a question that needs answering, by all means send an email!

The Edmunds Ancestry

4 June 2006

The newest folks in our database are ancestors of the three sisters Isabel, Nancy, and Jane Edmunds. They've come from a beautifully-arranged, circular chart by an unknown author that goes back in all directions to the 1600s and before. You can quickly see a summary containing nearly all of the new entries.

Do you know these people?

11 May 2006

A few of our photos show ancestors and cousins whose names we don't know. Recognize anybody? If you can help, click "Edit Photo" or just email us.

And now, photos!

29 April 2006

And so at last our collection of old family photos is coming online. Some are silly, some are quite old, and some show practically the whole family. Enjoy them! If you see errors or know more names than I do, please edit them. Got photos of your own that should be archived? Add them.

Stephensons galore

28 March 2006

After many, many hours, all the basic information from The Stephenson Family of Highland County, Virginia, and Related Families by William G. Haemmel is here. You can start with William and Sarah, who came from Ireland about 1732, and see a great many of their descendants—maybe you're one! Also here are related families and descendants of the female Stephensons, including Herrings, Crawfords, Gwins, McNultys, Alexanders, and more.

Truth stranger than fiction

21 March 2006

As I spend more time poring over the names, dates, and stories of our family, touchstones begin to emerge, strange and glowing facts that I never before imagined. For instance, my great, great uncle Adam Stephenson married Eva C. Campbell on 20 Sep 1905. A hundred years previous, in 1806, his great, great, uncle Adam Stephenson married Eva C. Campbell. Wow. And I do have at least one cousin (by marriage) born in Russia!

The wealth of Howard

20 February 2006

Many of my free moments these days—which are few since Miss Jessie came along!—are spent in the gradual process of exploring and absorbing the five large books and binders that my cousin Howard Hammond has graciously loaned me. After decades of genealogical research, he has amassed an amazing amount of information, some small fraction of which is already beginning to appear here. My deep gratitude goes out to Howard and also to my great uncle Bill Haemmel, who authored one of the books Howard loaned me.