The Value of Pension Files (Google Hangout)

It’s been a while since my last Google Hangout.  I have had a lot going on lately; and other things had taken priority.  But….. I am ready to get back to it!

I will be hosting a Google Hangout session Tuesday, 8 Sept. 2016.  The hangout will begin at 8 pm Eastern time.  There is no cost for this.

During the session; I will discuss the value of pension files for genealogy research.  Pension files contain a wealth of genealogical data.  I will show some examples of pension files; and will point out some of the valuable information contained in them.  I will also try to answer some questions (as best I can); and will open the session up to discussion later.

All are invited to attend this free Google Hangout.  To attend a Google Hangout, you must have a Google/Gmail account.  I will be sharing video and audio; and at times will be sharing some things on my computer screen.

Please let me know if you wish to be attend this online Google Hangout.  I will post the link to the hangout on my Digginbones Genealogy Facebook group about 30 minutes prior to the hangout Tuesday evening.  If you are not a member of my Digginbones Genealogy Facebook group; you can join the group by simply clicking the link.

Please comment below if you plan on attending so that I can get some rough idea of how many viewers/participants will be attending this Hangout Session.

Please share this blog with your genealogy friends so that they can attend also.  I am looking forward to the discussion!


Posted by on September 4, 2015 in General Genealogy


Persistence Pays Off in Search of Holland Ancestor

A while back; I met a gentleman at the Allen County Library; who ended up asking for my assistance in trying to locate the parents of one of his ancestors.  Her name was Elizabeth Holland.  Elizabeth was born about 1808; in Tennessee; according to the 1850 Dekalb Co., AL census.  Based on the ages of the children; we knew George and Elizabeth had married “about” 1823 or 1824.  We also knew that George Shankle and family were living in Dekalb the time of the 1840 census.  Additionally; they were found living in Jackson Co., AL in 1830.

It is important to note that Jackson Co., AL borders the state of Tennessee.  Since we knew Elizabeth was born in Tennessee; and also that George was born in Tennessee; it seemed likely that they had married there prior to going to Alabama.  In searching the state wide marriages in Tennessee; a marriage record was never located.  Of course there were many counties in which the early marriage records did not survive.

Where to Begin?

Since the earliest record we had for George and Elizabeth was the 1830 Jackson Co., AL census; I first searched there for any other Shankle’s or Holland’s.  There were a couple of Shankle men nearby; who were of age to be brother’s of George.  So…..  I searched for more information about them.  If I could find the father of any one of them; I would likely find the father of George.

Since I was dealing with an uncommon surname (Shankle); I decided to search all early Tennessee records to see where any Shankle’s may have been prior to 1830.  Interestingly enough; I found a Geogre Shankle listed on the 1820 census in Franklin Co., TN.  This George was old enough to be the father of our George.  And…. he had a male child in the correct age category to be him.  Oh…….  and one more big clue!  Franklin Co., TN borders Jackson Co., AL!

Since this article is about finding the parents of Elizabeth Holland; I won’t explain all the Shankle details. However; with further research; we did determine that it was very likely that this older George Shankle (in Franklin Co., TN in 1820), was very likely the father of our George.

Back to Elizabeth Holland

In searching for clues regarding Elizabeth’s ancestors; I first checked to see if there were other Holland’s who were in Jackson Co., AL in 1830.  In fact; there were a few.  And….. one of them was only a few households away from George and Elizabeth Shankle!

This Holland man living near George and Elizabeth was William Holland.  He was 60-70 years old; placing him born between 1760 and 1770.  I must admit; my first thought was that he was likely the father of Elizabeth.  He was certainly old enough.  However; there was never any other evidence to indicate that he was Elizabeth’s father.  Of course that did not mean he wasn’t.

The Search Continues

So… if I could not find evidence of William being Elizabeth’s father; I decided I needed to search for potential siblings of Elizabeth.  Since George and Elizabeth were living in Dekalb Co., AL in 1840; and Elizabeth was still in Dekalb Co. in 1850 (her husband had died before 1850); I decided to search for other Holland’s there in 1840 and 1850.  None were found there in 1840.  However; at the time of the 1850 census; there were a couple of Holland households there.  One was headed by a Mary Holland; who was apparently widowed.  She was born about 1808 in Tennessee.  The other household was headed by a “Hughey” Holland; who was born about 1802 in Tennessee.  Hughey and Mary were in the same district as Elizabeth Holland Shankle.  Also of importance; was the fact that this Hughey Holland (as well as the widow, Mary Holland) was born in Tennessee. Additionally; Hughey was of an age to be a brother or cousin of Elizabeth Holland.

What Next?

Since I felt Hughey was a good lead; I decided I should try to track him back to Tennessee.  If he was a brother or cousin of Elizabeth; finding where in Tennessee he had come from could be very important and helpful

Now…. I suspected that “Hughey” was almost certainly a nickname for Hugh.  In searching Tennessee records; I found a Hugh Holland listed on the 1837 tax list in Roane Co., TN.  This was most interesting; because the Shankle family had also been there in earlier years.

Having found Hugh in Roane Co., TN; I knew I needed to comb scour the early Roane Co. records for other clues.  Various records showed this Holland family was in Roane Co. as early as 1803.

Now We’re Getting Somewhere!

Feeling more confident that Elizabeth had probably been born in Roane County; I starting taking a serious look at each of the Holland men who were there prior to Elizabeth’s birth (about 1808).  There were really only 2 possibilities.  There was a William Holland; who appeared in early records there; as well as a Peter Holland. Peter stood out!  Elizabeth and George had named one of their oldest sons Peter!  Now this is interesting!

I now needed to know more about Peter.  I found his marriage in Roane Co., TN.  He had married Polly Lea there in 1807.  This could work.  After all; Elizabeth was born about 1808.  She may have been their first child.

So…. I continued to search for Peter.  I found him on the 1820 census of Lincoln Co., TN.  Looking at my map; I realize that Lincoln Co., TN borders Franklin Co., TN.  Remember; Franklin Co., TN is where I found the elder George Shankle in 1820!  And…. both of these counties border Jackson Co., AL; where George and Elizabeth first appear on a census.

More Clues in Lincoln County

Since I had found Peter in Lincoln County; I knew I needed to search records there.  I was hoping to find a will, deed, or something naming his children.  I found none of those.  However; I did find another clue in a Lincoln Co., TN Heritage book.  This book included an article about William Holland.  In reading the article; I quickly realized this was the same William who ended up in Jackson Co., AL; and was living near Elizabeth and George in 1830.

According to this article; William had a son, Peter; who was in Lincoln Co. in 1820 (the same Peter I had found there; who had come from Roane Co.).  However; the article stated that this Peter was born in 1798.  Of course Elizabeth was born about 10 years after that.  The math didn’t work.  Understanding that articles like this often contain errors; I decided I should look further into it.  Although the article claimed that this Peter was born in 1798; he was listed as 26-44 years old in 1820.  That would place him born prior to 1794.  The article also stated that he was in Pope Co., IL by 1830.  So…. I looked for myself.  Sure enough; Peter Holland was in Pope Co., IL in 1830.  His age was 40-49!  This would place him born prior to 1790.  The; I found him in Hardin Co., IL in 1850.  Hardin had been created in 1839, from part of Pope Co.

At the time of the 1850 census; Peter was listed as 62 years old.  This placed his birth as about 1787 or 1788. So…. it became clear to me that the birth year of 1798 in the article was a mistake.  This fellow is definitely old enough to be the same Peter who married Polly Lea in Roane Co., TN in 1807; then moved to Lincoln Co., TN before 1820.


Since I now have very strong evidence that this Peter was the father of Elizabeth; I knew I need to search records in Hardin Co., IL.  Since Peter was 62 years old at the time of the 1850 Hardin Co. census; he likely would have died there.

One of the books I grabbed off the shelves was titled “Early Newspaper Clippings of Hardin County, Illinois (From Uncle George Lavender’s Scrapbooks)”.  In the Foreword of the book; the author states that most of the material is from “Scrap-books” of Uncle George Lavender.  The author also states that most of the newspapers and county records are non-existent.  These items were apparently clipped out of newspapers and such many years earlier, by “Uncle George Lavender”.

I looked at the index of the book.  Although there were no “Holland”‘s listed in the index; there were “Hollen”‘s listed.  Among them was a Peter Hollen.  He was listed on page 176 of this book.  So…. I go to page 176. This item was from Hardin County Circuit Court, Aug. term, 1853.  This is a suit filed by one of the heirs of Peter “Hollen”; with the defendants being other heirs of Peter.  Among those heirs of Peter was “George Shankle and Elizabeth, his wife”!!!

Need I say More?

This was quite a journey.  However; persistence does indeed pay off!  Although I had already gathered strong “evidence” that Peter Holland was the father of Elizabeth; I now have the document which proves it.  In fact; I also have the names of Peter’s other children; thanks to “Uncle George Lavender”!


Posted by on July 8, 2015 in General Genealogy


Benjamin Flowers

Okay….. I know!  It’s been a long time since I have posted anything in my blog.  This post may not interest a lot of folks.  However; I recently carried on an email conversation (several emails) regarding an ancestor of mine.  His name was Benjamin Flowers.  Benjamin married Sarah Wilbourn Page.  He was born in Buckingham Co., VA; but lived almost all of his adult life in Overton Co., TN.

The email discussion I had was regarding who his father was.  The other party believes that he was a son of an Anthony Flowers; who also resided in Overton (and Pickett) Co., TN.  2 different records provide Anthony’s approximate birth year.  Based on those 2 records; Anthony was born 1773-1775.

Since I absolutely disagree that Anthony was the father; I decided about a week ago to lay out all of the evidence regarding Benjamin’s birth year.  Based on the “all” of the evidence of Benjamin’s birth year; he simply cannot be a child of Anthony.

Since I wanted to get my evidence out in a place where it can be discovered by other descendants; I decided I might as well put in here.  So….. here it is.

Facts About Flowers (Mostly Regarding Benjamin Flowers)

Time to clear the air.  When was Benjamin Flowers born?  What are the facts!

Who was Benjamin Flowers?  Who was his father?  Who were his siblings?  I will try to answer some of these questions based on facts and evidence.

When was Benjamin born?

In determining Benjamin’s birth year; “all” records should be considered.  It cannot be based solely on one census record.  Here are the facts according to the census records for Benjamin…

1820 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed as 26-44 years old.  This place Benjamin born 1776-1794.

1830 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed as 40-49 years old.  This places Benjamin’s birth 1781-1790.

1840 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is again listed as 40-49 years old.  This places his birth 1791-1800.

1850 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed as being 57 years old.  This places his birth about 1793.

1860 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed at the age of 72 years.  This places his birth about 1788.

1870 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed as 82 years old.  This places his birth about 1788.

1880 Overton Co., TN – Benjamin is listed as being 93 years of age.  This places his birth about 1787.

SInce the 1820 census leaves an 18 year gap as a possibility; it is not of much help.  So…. let’s consider the 1830 – 1880 census records.  This gives us 6 census records to consider.  Two of those (1840 and 1850) would indicate that Benjamin was born after 1790. Specifically; one of those would lead us to believe Benjamin was born about 1793.  However; the other 4 census records (1830, 1860, 1870 and 1880) place Benjamin’s birth year as 1787-1788.

An analysis of the census records seems to provide strong evidence that Benjamin was likely born prior to 1790.

More Evidence of Benjamin’s Birth Year

Benjamin is buried in the Flowers Cemetery in Overton Co., TN.  His tombstone gives a birth date of 22 April 1788.  His death date (per the tombstone) was 21 April 1883.  This provides another piece of evidence which place Benjamin’s birth at 1788.

Regarding the tombstone of Benjamin; I received a letter from Jana Humphrey of Oak Ridge, TN in 2004.  In this letter; she stated that her grandfather put up the gravestones for Benjamin, Sarah, David and Rebecca in the 1930’s.  Because these stones were not place until many years after the death of Benjamin; we cannot completely rely on the dates given on his stone.  However; it is yet another piece of evidence that we should consider.

Tallying up Score

In considering the census records from 1830 through 1880; and including the tombstone of Benjamin; we now have 2 records which would indicate that Benjamin was born after 1790.  We have 5 records that indicate Benjamin was born prior to 1790.

More Evidence Placing Benjamin’s Birth in the 1780’s

There are 2 other pieces of evidence which can be considered in determining Benjamin’s birth.  In a book titled “Our Wonderful Overton County Heritage”; written by George Allen Knight; and published in 1972; is an article regarding “The Hatcher House” (page 112).  In part; George Allen Knight says “Mr. Hatcher came to the Upper Cumberland from Buckingham, Virginia (Buckingham County, Virginia) with James Henry Clark and Benjamin Flowers in 1804.  All three men built log cabins at first, lived in them, and planned the homes in which they would eventually live.”

In considering the evidence of this article; Benjamin is clearly being referred to as a man who came to the area in 1804.  This would indicate that he was likely above the age of 18 at that time.  Very possibly he could have been a little older than that.  Doing the math; if he was as young as 18 in 1804; this would place his birth about 1786 (or before).

Although books can certainly contain errors; it is certainly another piece of evidence to consider in determining when Benjamin was born.

One more piece of evidence is found in Overton County Deed Book “B”; on page 258.  On 20 Jan. of 1811; Benjamin witnessed a deed between Joseph Crawford and Anthony Flowers.  In the same deed book; on page 256; Benjamin also witnessed a deed between Joseph Crawford and Jesse Crawford on 29 Jan. 1811.  Although it is possible that he could have witnessed a deed as young as 18 years old; it was not common.  Typically; someone witnessing a deed would have been over the age of 21.  Doing the math; this would indicate that Benjamin was born 1790 or prior to that.

Benjamin’s Father

There are many folks who believe that Benjamin was the son of a James Flowers.  As proven in the Revolutionary war pension file of Roland Flowers; James was the father of Roland (died in Fentress Co., TN); and of Anthony Flowers (lived in Overton Co., TN).  Anthony gave a deposition on behalf of Roland’s widow, to aid her in obtaining her widow’s pension.  He states that he was a brother of Roland.  Also in the pension file; Roland states that his father was James Flowers.

Most people believe that Benjamin was a brother of Anthony and Roland.  I include myself among that group; but use the evidence to support that.  A small handful of people believe that Benjamin was a son of Anthony.  However; the match doesn’t add up.  In the pension file of Rowland Flowers; Anthony gives a deposition in 1834.  He states that he is “about 61” years of age.  This places his birth about 1773.  The Overton Co., TN census gives his age as 75.  This places his birth about 1775.  Given a birth year between 1773 and 1775; it does not make sense that Benjamin could be his son.

We do know that Benjamin was certainly connected to Anthony.  He did witness the deed for him in 1811.  It seems very likely that he was a younger brother of Rowland and Anthony.

Thomas Flowers of Overton County

Listed on the same census page as Benjamin in 1830 was a Thomas Flowers.  There are a small handful of folks that also list him as a child of Anthony Flowers.  Once again; the match doesn’t work!  At the time of the 1830 census; Thomas is shown to be 40-49 years old; placing his birth 1781-1790.  The 1840 Overton County census lists him as 50-59 years old; again placing his birth 1781-1790.  At the time of the 1850 Overton County census; Thomas is listed as 65 years old; placing his birth about 1785.

Since Anthony was born 1773-1775; it certainly does not make sense that Thomas could be his child.  Additionally; Thomas married Nancy Krunk on 25 Nov. 1813, in Knox Co., TN.  Anthony was in Overton County no later than 1811.  Why would one of his children go to Knox County to get married; only to return to Overton?  It is more likely that Thomas was already living in Knox County prior to his marriage in 1813; and came to Overton County later.

Because Thomas was living near Benjamin in 1830; it seems likely that he is closely connected.  Having been born about 1785; he is certainly of age to be a brother to Benjamin.

Since we already know Benjamin is connected to Anthony and Rowland (Benjamin witnessed 1811 deed for Anthony); it also seems likely that Benjamin was a brother of Anthony and Rowland.

In Conclusion

In conclusion; the Revolutionary War pension file of Rowland Flowers proves that Anthony was his brother.  Other evidence suggests that Benjamin and Thomas were also likely brothers.

Given the fact that Rowland was born in 1764; Anthony 1773-1775; and Benjamin and Thomas during the 1780’s; there is reason to believe that all four of these Flowers men may not share the same mother.  However; they certainly seem to share the same father.

I would invite anyone to share their own opinions.  However; in doing so; please provide your evidence (as I have done) to support your own theories.


Posted by on July 1, 2015 in General Genealogy


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Contest Winner

And the winner is……   Cherry K.  Cherry has won the latest contest.  She will receive 4 hours of research to be done by myself; utilizing the vast amount of resources available at the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Keep your eyes out for the next contest.  I will be giving away more free research in the near future.


Posted by on February 16, 2015 in General Genealogy


New Facebook Group

Several days ago I created a new Facebook group; which I hope you will all join.  The group is called Digginbones Genealogy.  The direct link to the group is .  Once there, you can click the “Join” button to become a member of the group.

I plan to use this group as a way to keep folks updated on upcoming online presentations that I plan on continuing to do using Google Hangouts; to get ideas for upcoming presentation/discussion topics, and more.  Although many of you are friends of mine on Facebook; creating the group makes it easier for me to notify everyone of upcoming presentations and such.  Because it is a Facebook Group, members of the group will receive a Facebook notification when I post to the group.  Although we all miss posts in our Facebook news feed; we almost always see our Facebook notifications.

Just today, I posted a question on the Facebook group inquiring about what specific Genealogy Topics you all might want me to do a presentation/discussion on.  I hope to get some good ideas from you all.

We had a great presentation and discussion in the Google Hangout on Saturday, January the 10th.  I did a presentation on the uses of Google Docs/Drive for Genealogy purposes.  There seemed to be a lot of interest; and were many questions.  I know of at least a couple of you who attended the hangout who have since begun using Google Docs/Drive.  I was very glad to find that out.

Hope everyone will join my new Facebook group.  And…. please be sure to share my blog address as well as the address of the new Facebook Group with all of your genealogy friends!

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in General Genealogy


Time for Another Google Hangout Presentation/Discussion

As with most folks; I have been occupied the past few weeks with various holiday functions and such.  Our Christmas was awesome! We enjoyed several family gatherings, with great food and family.  Now; it’s time to get back to work.  Since the temperature here in Indiana has dropped drastically; and we have potential for snow overnight tonight; I will likely stay home the next several days; and get what work I can done from here.  Temperature here is currently 4; with a wind chill of -14!

Now that things are starting to settle down some; I want to do another Google Hangout session.  I have done the previous hangouts on Sunday evenings.  However; there were some people who wanted to attend; but could not do so because of Church.  So…..  I am going to try a different day and time.  This Saturday morning Jan, 10, 2015) at 11 am Eastern Time; I will host a Google Hangout presentation and discussion on the uses of Google Drive (also known as Google Docs) for Genealogy,

I have been using Google Docs/Drive for several years now.  It can be a very valuable tool for creating and storing genealogy documents. I will demonstrate some of the uses; and will allow for questions and discussions.  As with previous Hangout Sessions I have done; this will be very informal.  I will spend a few minutes demonstrating some of the uses of Google Docs/Drive; and will open things up for questions and discussion.

You must have a Google/Gmail account to use Google Hangouts.  A webcam is needed if you wish to be seen.  However; a webcam is not required.  Anyone is welcome to sit back and watch; as well as participate in the discussion.  Of course a microphone is needed if you wish to ask questions and/or participate in the discussion.

Those who wish to attend this online hangout should notify me (Facebook message, email or comment below) so that I can send you the link to the hangout about 30 minutes prior to the hangout.

“If” there is enough interest; and some cannot attend Saturday at 11 am Eastern; I may do the presentation/discussion again Saturday evening.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas; and wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!


Posted by on January 5, 2015 in General Genealogy


Pay Attention to Little Clues in Census Records

Just yesterday I was reminded of how something less obvious on a census record; could be very important and very useful.  I have been doing some research recently for a client whose ancestor was a James Park/Parks who was born 1835 in Tennessee.  When I started the research; we had no idea of his parents or siblings.  We knew he was on the 1870 census in Pettis Co., MO.  In doing a small amount of searching; I had also found him on the 1860 census in Hickory Co., MO; which is near Pettis County.  I knew this was him because I had previously found his wife in Hickory County; with her parents; on the 1850 census.

You will see James on the 1860 Hickory County census on the image below. (Click the image to enlarge it)

Parks, James M and William - 1860 Hickory Co, MO Census


When I initially found James Parks on the 1860 census; I immediately noticed that a William Parks was living just 2 households away from James.  He was only a couple of years older than James; and had also been born in Tennessee.  It didn’t take much for me to believe that he was “probably” a brother of James.

I had spent a good bit of time searching for James Park/Parks/Parke in 1850.  Of course I knew that he had been born in Tennessee.  So…. I searched the entire U.S. for any James Park/Parke/Parkes who was born in Tennessee close to 1835.  I found several.  None of them really stood out to me; so I was not convinced that any of those I had found was the same James whom I was searching for.

So… yesterday I was doing some more searching of the census records.  In looking again at the 1860 Hickory County census above; and thinking about the Sarah J. Pruett who was in the household of James in 1860; I got to thinking about her.  Her birthplace was also listed as Tennessee.  I began to wonder if she might be related to James or his wife.

At that point, I decided I should try to locate her on the 1850 census.  “If” she was related; and “if” I could find her on the 1850 census; I might find James in the same county and state which she was living in at the time of the 1850 census.

I did a search of the 1850 census for and Sarah Pruett/Prewitt, etc.; who was born in Tennessee; and was the approximate age of this Sarah J. Pruett.  I got several hits.  I began to pay attention to the state and county in which each of these Sarah’s was living in; and one of them immediately jumped out at me.  A Sarah J. Pruett was living right there in Hickory Co., MO in 1850.  Her age was only 1 year off from the Sarah J. Pruett who was living with James Parks in 1860; and…. her birthplace was listed as Tennessee.

Of course my initial intention was to look around at the neighbors to see if any Park/Parke/Parks were nearby. Instead; I got a big surprise as soon as I looked at that 1850 census of Sarah J.  Take a look at that 1850 census of the household Sarah was in during the 1850 Hickory Co., MO census (below). (Click the image to enlarge it)

Parks, William, James and John - 1850 Hickory Co, MO census


Notice the last 3 people listed in that household.  There was William “Parker”, who was 17 years old; James “Parker”, who was 15 years old; and John “Parker”, who was 13 years old!  Remember….. the William Parks living by James in 1860 was 27.  James was 25 at that time.  A perfect match!

Thanks to my decision to search for Sarah J. Pruett on the 1850 census; I found James Parks (Parker).  I also got some additional confirmation that the William living near him in 1860, was his brother.  And…. I got some additional information and clues.  I gained the name of John as another brother of James.  Finally; based on the ages of all of the children in the Pruett household in 1850; and the age of Robert Pruett’s wife, Elender; it seems likely that Elender was probably the second wife of Robert; and that the “Parker” children were probably hers from a previous marriage.  Notice that there is an 8 year gap between Matilda (18 years old) and Eliza J. (10 years old).  Although more research needs to be done to confirm; it seems likely that Matilda and her older brother, Aaron; probably belong to Robert and a previous wife.  The Park (Parker) children likely belonged to Elender and a previous husband.  Eliza J., Sarah J., Margaret E. and Nancy E. probably belong to Robert and Elender together.  In other words; I “think” I have also found the mother of James Parks.  Sarah J. Pruett was likely the half sister of James, William and John.  This would explain why she is living with James in 1860.

Of course there is more research to be done.  But; I now have some great additional clues and information to work with; all thanks to Sarah J. Pruett!


Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Census, General Genealogy


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