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Three Ancestors Ago–Reba Matherly Jones (52 Ancestors)

This post is a part of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow at www.nostorytoosmall.com.

Reba isn’t my husband’s direct ancestor.  She was his great-grandfather’s, Dillard, second wife.  But there’s something tragic about her.  First, the facts:

  • Born 1905
  • Died 1935
  • I think her parents are Christopher Jack and Florense Matherly
  • My husband is descended from her husband, Dillard, through
  • his son, John Robertson Jones
  • his son

She was right at the same age as Dillard’s prior children.  My husband’s grandfather was only a couple of years older than her.  She was very young when she married Dillard.  In 1910, she’s living with Chris and Florense Matherly.  In 1920, she’s 14, living with, and married to Dillard Jones.  By 1930, she and Dillard have six children.  She’s 24.

By 1935, she’s dead.  You can see a picture of her tombstone here.  I have a photo somewhere.  I’ll add it when I find it.

Five Ancestors Ago–Nancy McSwain Allen (52 Ancestors)

Nancy McSwain Allen was my 3rd great grandmother via

  • her son David Jones Allen
  • his daughter Virginia Allen Smith
  • her son
  • his daughter

According to her gravestone, she was born August 22, 1828 and died May 10, 1806.  The year of her birth was fairly close to what was reported on each census I’ve seen.

I’ve found a Nancy McSwain (age 21) living with Sarah McSwain (age 36) and Thomas McSwain (age 1) in Centre, Stanly County, NC.  This could be my Nancy living with a sister or sister-in-law.

Nancy and William were married with two children by 1860.  My mother’s notes indicate 1852 but I haven’t found anything to correlate that yet.

I don’t know a lot about Nancy other than she lost her husband during the Civil War and was left with two small children to raise on her own.  In 1880 she and son, David, are living in Stanly County.  In 1900, she is living with son David and his family, again in Stanly County, NC.

Her will leaves all property to her son and names him as executor.  It does not mention her daughter Sarah nor any children of Sarah.

According to my mother’s notes, her parents were Charles and Lurana Washburn McSwain perhaps of Rutherford County, NC.  However, I haven’t found the proof of this as of yet, either.



  • Allen, Nancy.  US Federal Census.  1880 & 1900.
  • McSwain, Nancy.  US Federal Census.  1850.
  • Stanly County Wills.

Three Ancestors Ago–John Ed Robertson (52 Ancestors)

This post is a part of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow at www.nostorytoosmall.com.

I chose John Ed today because it’s the anniversary of the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Whenever I think of a flu epidemic, I think of John Ed.  Our families were lucky in that we didn’t have a lot of deaths caused by the flu, at least not during the epidemic years.  John Ed Robertson isn’t exactly my husband’s ancestor.  He was married to my husband’s great-grandmother.  Mary Thomas was my husband’s great-grandmother via:

  • her daughter, Ruby Robertson
  • her daughter

John Ed was born June 19, 1888 in Pulaski County, Virginia.  The best I can tell, he lived all of his years in Pulaski county.  He was 30 when he died.  According to my mother-in-law, it was the flu that brought his demise.

According to his WWI draft record, as of June 5, 1917, he worked for H.W. Bird as a farm laborer.  He was tall, with a medium build, with brown hair and blue eyes.  Also, according to the draft record, he was born on June 19, 1888.

Interestingly enough, his tombstone lists he was born in 1885 and died in 1919 but he appears on the 1920 census as a 34-year-old farm laborer.

Did someone put the tombstone up later?  Someone whose memory was perhaps off a year?  I haven’t been successful in finding any more information about John Ed.

John and Mary had no children together in the few years they were married.  They were married some time after 1920, if census data is to be believed.


  • Robertson, John E.  US Federal Census, 1900, 1910, 1920
  • Personal Stories
  • Robertson, John E.  World War I Draft Registration Card

Daylight Savings Time

My great-uncle Joe never took much heed with Daylight Savings Time.  I don’t remember which time he kept, I just remember that he never sprang forward or fell back.  His watch remained and he would add (or subtract!) an hour half the year, each year.

I’m sure he wasn’t the only one to do this, but he’s the one I remember most.  I would sit in his lap and look at his wrist watch like it was going to tell me something I didn’t already know.

This isn’t the best picture of him, but it was all I could find of him alone today.

 harris, joseph lawrence

Joseph Lawrence Harris

26 November 1905 — 13 December 1992


Mystery Monday

I chose the Mystery Monday blogging prompt for today because I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks trying to find William Smith’s Confederate military records.  But first, the facts:

  • Born:  About 1822 in Montgomery County
  • Died:  after 1880
  • Married:  Sarah Strother
  • He’s my 3rd great-grandfather via:
    • his son, Jones Monroe Smith
    • his son, Joseph Jones Smith
    • his son
    • his daughter, Katherine Jean Smith

According to my cousin Helen Smith Crepps in the Montgomery County Heritage Book, Volume  I, he 

enlisted in CA at Brunswick on August 29, 1863.  he served in the 3rd Co G 40th regiment state troops, stationed at bald head island, near fort fisher, where his troop aided blockade runners and made soap and other supplies for the confederate army

According to my papa Nelson,

he enlisted late, about time war was over, was sent to Bald Head Island to make soap to clean things up, like dysentery and such.  At some point the Union surrounded them, his captain said every man for himself and he took off through the swamp barefoot.  He walked all the way home, barefoot, and they got after him saying he would be considered a deserter so he went back.  By the time he got back, the war was pretty much over.

Helen says that in October 1864, his troop was sent to Fort Fischer and told to escape if possible.

My inexperience with confederate records has really put me at a disadvantage.  I finally found a record of a William Smith who did indeed enlist in August of 1863.  This William was on roll until October 1864.  But, there’s nothing to tie him to my William.

At points like this, I really wonder what I’m missing.


7 Ancestors Ago — Mean Johnny Bolt (52 Ancestors)

This post is a part of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow at www.nostorytoosmall.com.

Since today is Sunday, I decided to follow the Geneabloggers blogging prompt “Black Sheep Sunday” for this week’s ancestor.

Johnny Bolt is in my husband’s 5th great-grandfather via:

  • his son, William Anderson Bolt
  • his daughter, Lauretta Bolt
  • her daughter, Martha T. Worrell
  • her daughter, Mary Thomas
  • her daughter, Ruby Robertson

Disclaimer:  I haven’t proven much for myself yet.


  • Born Around 1778, perhaps in North Carolina
  • Death 1860-65 in the Poor House in Carroll County, Virginia., buried in an unmarked grave in “Carpenter Cemetery”
  • Married Rebecca Dillard in 1807

According to family stories and various things I’ve read around the internet, Johnny Bolt’s nickname, “Mean Johnny,” was well-earned.

While he did agree in March of 1821 to care for his mother-in-law, Rutha Goad Dillard, it was for a price[1].   Later, he and his wife, Rebecca, were at least separated, if not divorced.  Rebecca appears on the 1850 census with children Thomas and America[2].  I wonder if America is a daughter or granddaughter of Thomas.  She would have been 43 when America was born.  Not unheard of, for sure, but, well, it’s just a thought.

Tradition says that John was known as “Mean Johnny” Bolt, and the term may have been
appropriate. It was generally believed that Mean Johnny waylaid and killed William McPeak.

Letter to Betty Winn, from Mary Anne Sutphin, 9 January 1999: After the death of Tommy Bolt in the Civil War, John Bolt went to the poor house. Might have been his daughter-in-law  Julia and granddaughter Emeline, worked there. On his death bed he told his granddaughter he knew he was dying, so he wanted to confess to the murder of William “Billy” McPeak, and tell them where the body was so it could be taken home for burial. He instructed them to call the law after his death. They did so, and Billy McPeak was taken back to Buffalo Mountain for burial.[3]


  1. Articles of Agreement, Bolt, Dillard, McMillian, Cock, Branson, 1822 – Patrick Co. VA
  2. Bolt, Thomas, 1850 Census, Carroll County, Virginia
  3. Artlip, Elaine C.  John Bolt Family 


    Southwest Virginia.  http://elaine.artlip.com/downloads/pdf/john%20bolt%20family.pdf, accessed 20 January 2014.

1940 Census x 2

I was super excited, like most people, to see all of the 1940 census records.  I even worked to transcribe many for Family Search.  In looking for records for my grandparents this past week, I came back across the 1940 census for his family.  Or at least I thought I though I had come across it again.  Instead, I found a second census record for the Fred H. Morris family.

I’m not sure what to make of it.  At first, I thought someone had uploaded a second copy in error.  But as I looked at the record, the names are different.  Even my family has a variation!  For the most part, the information is the same.  I do wonder why my grandparents appear twice.

Fred Morris Family, 194 census, Sheet 2b

Fred Morris Family, 194 census, Sheet 2b

Fred Morris Family, 194 census, Sheet 4a

Fred Morris Family, 194 census, Sheet 4a