Monday, December 31, 2012

Motivation Monday--THIS IS NOT A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: Some realistic genealogical & historical research/writing goals for 2013

Not a resolution...
I say this is not a resolution because those are made and broken each year as easily as fad dieting. Over the past thirty-five years my weight has gone up and down like a yo-yo in the hands of a competent trickster. I generally succeed for a time, only to get frustrated by the stresses of life...eventually weakening, giving in...leading to total abandonment of the resolution till the next New Year comes around.

Let it be said...
I resolve NOT to make or break any resolutions in 2013!

I've been following several blogs written by successful genealogists, historians, writers and editors who have shared their guidelines for identifying goals and developing successful strategies for reaching them. They have shared their own personal goals for the year to come, and have encouraged their readers to do so as well.

So, with that said, the following is my list of goals which I believe are attainable.

  • Reconstructing Co. B & G 14th Regiment USCT
  1. Finish transcribing and analyzing the Civil War Pension File of my great grandfather-in-law, Isaac Carter;
  2. Create an index of all the soldiers within these units, download their service records & pension file applications;
  3. Order Civil War Pension Files for Isaac Carter's comrades, and note corresponding testimony;
  4. Speak with authorities regarding events at Carolina City during November 1864;

  • Set up the Carter Family Tree in Legacy 7.5 Deluxe in order to bring our tree up to professional standards, including proper documentation and attached digitized records.
  • Organize my paper files using the method promoted by Genealogy Research Associates, Inc. ;
  • Continue writing the family history memoir using Scrivener trial edition, and consider purchasing the full version; 
  • Purchase Randy Ingermanson's writing software, Snowflake Pro to streamline  character development, lining up scenes, creating a book summary and proposal in order to attract editors and agents;
  • Complete the first draft of my family history memoir on Isaac Carter and the following two generations: Antebellum Period to the Great Migration;
  • Take the 2013 Family History Writing Challenge this February and begin my personal memoir, the second in the series;
  • Read, read, read... 
  1. Currently I am reading The Gravedigger's Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates;
  2. The next book I'd like to read, also by Oates, is  A Widow's Story: A Memoir;
  3. ????

  • Continue blogging and journaling my progress at least three times per week. 

Any more than this would be a completely unrealistic expectation...and even this will take daily diligence to move me along to the next phase of writing. I hope you'll take the time to critique my list, and perhaps even share your own goals for the year to come!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Mystery of Samuel Windley, alias Samuel Keach: Analysis of Document #19

In the spirit of discovering who each of these men were who had shared bits of Sergeant Isaac Carter's life, and who had come forth to testify on his behalf for a Civil War Pension, I began my search for Samuel Keach with a search on and on Fold3.

Surprisingly, only two documents surfaced:
  1. (4) U.S. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files: 1861-1934, and
  2. (1) U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865.

Search Results Provided By
The No. 1 Source for Family History

Data Source: U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
Tue Dec 25 2012 16:53:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

View RecordNameWidowState Filed
View RecordSamuel Keach Louisa KeachNorth Carolina
View RecordSamuel Windley
[Samuel Keach
Luvenine ReachNorth Carolina
View RecordSamuel Windley
[Samuel Keach
Louisa KeachNorth Carolina
View RecordSamuel Windley
[Samuel Keach
North Carolina

Looking at the screenshot of my search #1, I wondered about this surname, Windley. Often you will find a transcription error in indexing, or perhaps even an enumeration error where the name was spelled phonetically, based on the informant's accent or regional dialect. However, there's a large difference between Keach and Windley. The widow's name, Luvenine Reach, is identified immediately as a transcription error. Her name should read: Luvennie Keach. But in two documents listed, the widow's surname is recorded as Louisa Keach. The question is now whether this is a reporting/recording error, or if there are two widows.

Image No. 1
Image No. 1, however, notes that Samuel Keach was an alias. With that said, I began looking for Windley information (more to come)

Let's take a look at the information provided on this application card:
  • There are three other persons reported here: 1.) the widow: Louisa Keach; 2.) a minor: Louisa Harrison, Gdn; and, 3.) the contesting widow: Luvennie Keach. 
  • Two types of service were recorded: Co. B, 1st Regiment North Carolina Colored Infantry, and Co. B, 14th Regiment US Colored Heavy Artillery. 
  • The dates of filing show that:
  1.  the Invalid (Samuel Keach) filed on Feb. 11, 1888: Application No. 639.673, Certificate No. 749.574;
  2.  the widow on March 19, 1898: Application No. 673.017;
  3.  the minor on Aug. 10, 1905, Application No. 833.267; and,
  4.  the contesting widow on July 5, 1900, Application No. 743.387. 
Image No. 2

If I were to apply for Samuel Keach's Civil War Pension File from NARA, I would need all of the above information in order to request his complete file.
Image No. 4
Image No. 3
Images 2-4 are the individual applications of the widow, minor and contesting widow.

In search of the Windley surname
My first step was to check the Public Member Trees: <Samuel Windley, USA, North Carolina.> At the time of his affidavit he was 45 years old, making him born abt. 1846. He had enlisted in Washington, NC, so I'll be searching for people living in Beaufort County. I discovered a tree entitled, Windley Family Tree, with an individual named, Samuel S. Windley, b. 7 June 1848; d. 1911.

I always look for a documented tree, but note that this has no documentation on this individual. So, I search for some Census records for this Samuel S. Windley, son of Samuel and Angelica (Jones) Windley.

In 1850 he was living in Broad Creek, Beaufort, NC. This family is composed of the parents and five children. One small problem. The family is white, and there are no black families listed. So, I check out the 1850 Slave Schedules to see if Samuel & Ann Windley owned any slaves.

Sure enough, they owned three slaves: a black female (23), a black male (20), and a black male (4). The child would have been born abt. 1846, the same age as Samuel Keach Windley. I located an obituary for him at New-Bern Craven County Public Library posted in the New Bern Daily Journal, 30 October 1896. I am hopeful to discover some other information about him from the obituary, but must wait till I receive it to know for sure.

Another document I located naming this Samuel Keach Windley was the death certificate of his second wife, Louvina Eborn. It states that she was the daughter of Frank Blount and Jennie Eborn, both of Roanoke Island, NC. She died on October 28, 1922 at the age of 100. She had been divorced from her husband, Samuel Windley.

Samuel Keach Windley survived five years, seven months and twelve days beyond his testimony. Beyond his obituary, the only other hope of gaining any information about this man would be from his Civil War Pension File. Perhaps one day we'll have more to report, but until then...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter: Document #19

The Formation of a Civil War Artillery Regiment
I had taken a break from the pension file to reassess my goals here. At first I thought of skipping over documents to post based on the criteria of whether the actual content provided additional clues to Isaac Carter's disability, and the conditions under which he acquired said disability.

Also, since we moved in early November, I have not been in the frame of mind to sit down and focus on these details, and give them my undivided attention until now. The legal-sized binder which contains volume one of the pension file has sat opened on my desk next to my laptop since I first unpacked the boxes containing my genealogical binders. It has remained a constant reminder of what steps I should take next.

I skipped Document #17, a two-page sworn statement by David Lawson, who was acquainted with Isaac Carter after the war. Document #18 was a one page form requesting a report from the records of the Adjutant General U.S. A. about the sworn statements of David Lawson and Silas Fenner. I had thought of skipping over Document #19 as well, since it contained no new I thought. However, if I plan on reconstructing the 14th Regiment Heavy Artillery USCT, I must examine all statements sworn by members of the unit. So, I will proceed with the following statement sworn by Samuel Keach.

Transcription: Samuel Keach's Affidavit on behalf of Isaac Carter:
State of North Carolina)
County of Craven         )
In the matter of original claim No
662812 of Isaac Carter Late a
Sergeant of the B & G 14 Regt U.S. C.H.
Arty.  On this 18 Day of March
A.D. 1891 Personally appeared before
me a Notary Public fort & within
the County & state aforesaid
Samuel Keach age 45 years
Resident of New Berne N.C.
well Known to be reputable &
and Entitled to creed who being
duly sworn according to Law
Declares as follows  I enlisted in
March A.D. 1864 at Washington, N.C.
I became acquainted with Isaac
Carter at New Berne, N.C. on about
April A.D. 1864 he was a Sergeant of
my Company B 14 Regiment USHArty
He was a well & a Harty (sic) man at
that time from all appearence (sic) I did not
hear him complain of any thing not
until on about May here at New Berne
N.C. he complained of Rheumatism,
& Diarrhea & Piles at Caroine (sic) City He

and on about November 1864 while we
was at Carolina City N.C. was with
out tents & we was Exposed in cold
& Rain & sleet & snow & Isaac
Carter Taken Down with Diarrhea
& Piles & Rheumatism his feet swollen
up & he was Excuse from Duty. I was
Down at the same time & Place
& Isaac Carter continued to complain
of the afore said complaints. and
when he was Discharge he was sick
We was all Discharge at the same
time on the 11 day of Dec 1865
at Fort Macon N.C. & since Discharge
the solder (sic) continues to complain
of the afore said complaints &
he is about Two Thirds Disable to
[                     ] Manual Labor
By Reason of the afore said complaints
I saw him the 18 day of March 1891
& he Look very Bad & complain of
the afore said complaints he could
barely get about  I am no
relation to the claimant My
Post office address is New Berne
HE was Transferred from Co B to
Co G 14 Regt U.S.C.H Arty.
I have no interest in his claim

                                    Samuel       X   Keach
E.W. Carpenter
Lewis F. Carter
                                              Sworn & sub-
scribed to before me this
18th day of Mch/91 & I certify that
the affiant states that the
foregoing was read to him
before making his mark
to same & that he is the
identical person he claim
to be & is credible & worthy of belief.
                                                              Notary Public
Cert filed

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the last day of Blog Caroling...

This morning we are making a brief departure from Civil War Pension Files and the Waterman's Song for an interlude of Blog Caroling.

Started by the Footnote Maven's Tradition of Blog Caroling, she encourages all us GeneaBloggers to assist her in raising our "voices" with lyrics of the Christmas Season.

Here is my offering, The Coventry Carol.
Courtesy: DVIchannel,
Uploaded December 20, 2008

The Coventry Carol

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.

Then, woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh
For they parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

There is an interesting history behind this English Carol of which I have only recently learned. The Coventry Carol was part of the Coventry Mystery Plays, of which there were originally ten in all. They were performed in Coventry, England in the 16th Century. The plays were performed by different guilds, each guild performing one. 

In an article entitled, Coventry Mystery Plays, the author notes that they were first performed as early as 1392. Each year the King of England would visit Coventry to see the performances. 

Traditionally, this carol was part of a pageant known as The Pageant of The Shearers and the Tailors, called such because of the two guilds which performed it. 

In a book entitled, Medieval and Tudor Drama: Twenty-Four Plays, by John Gassner, you will find a modernized version of the play. 

For a digital copy of the original manuscript, go to

I hope you will enjoy it as I have for many years, although it is quite a mournful song for the Christmas Season. Below you will find a choral version of The Coventry Carol.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Civil War Pension File: Taking a step back to breathe

Since our move to the new apartment, I have been debating whether to post the next document in the pension file, or to take a step back to look at what I had. Taking a step back won out over forging ahead full steam.

In exploring Document #16, we became acquainted with Pvt. Sharper Williams through his testimony regarding his Sgt., Isaac Carter, in February 1865. His affidavit was sworn on June 3, 1890. A closer look at this comrade at arms revealed the following:

Civil War Service Records
Sharp[er] Williams, born in Bertie County, NC, enlisted in New Berne, NC at the age of forty years for a period of one year. He was a black farmer, five foot four inches tall on the day of his enlistment, February 17, 1865.

He was Mustered-In at Morehead City, NC on April 30, 1865. He was assigned to Company G, 14th Regiment USCT Heavy Artillery, and was due $100.00 pay.
He was present March & April 1865. First installment of bounty due: $33.33.
Present May & June 1865.
Present July & August 1865.
Present September & October 1865.
Mustered-Out December 11, 1865. Last paid June 30, 1865. Last settled: never. Drawn since: $109.11.
Due U.S. for arms, equipments, &c.:$6.00.
Bounty Paid: $33.33. Due: $33.33.

The Declaration of Recruit shows that he was sworn in at Plymouth, NC. and the recruiting agent was J.P. French.

The Volunteer Enlistment document shows actual recruitment took place in the State of Maine, Searsmont, Waldo County.

Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1871
No. 4087, RECORD for Sharper J. Williams
Date, June 2nd 1874
Where born, Bertie County, NC
Where brought up, Bertie County, NC
Residence, Lanes Branch Newberne
Age, 54         Complexion, Dark
Occupation, Farming
Wife, Gatsey
Father, dead
Mother,   "  [dead]
Brothers and Sisters, Don't know.
Signature: Sharper J. Williams

No. 4094, RECORD for Gatsey Williams
Date, June 5th 1874
Where born, Wayne Co., NC
Where brought up,  "      "  [Wayne Co., NC]
Age, 40 odd         Complexion, Black
Husband, Sharper J. Williams
REMARKS: Should she die with money in the Bank it is to go to Gatsey Cole, Katie Cole. Gatsey is her mother and they both live at Goldsboro.
Signature, Gatsey  X  Williams

Courtesy: FindAGrave,
Added by, Phil Weller,
11 July 2011
Death and Interment Records
Name: Sharper Williams
Pvt. Co. G, 14th Reg't USCT Heavy Artillery
Death Date: 6 Jan 1891
Cemetery Ledger: New Bern National Cemetery
Burial Place: New Bern, North Carolina
Plot: 18
Grave No.: 3280

Civil War Pension Index, 1861-1934
Name of Soldier: Williams, Sharper
Name of Dependent: Widow: Williams, Gatsey
Service: G 14 USC H A
Date of Filing: 1891 Jan 24
Widow: Application No. 496956
Certificate No.: 308751
State from which filed: N.C.

Pvt. Williams had sworn his testimony on behalf of his 
Sgt. Isaac Carter on 3 June 1890. 

Who would have known that only 
7 months and 21 days later 
he would take his last breath. 

And, who would have known that only 18 days from his death, 
his widow would apply for a Civil War Widow's Pension.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter, Document #16

The following document is an affidavit sworn by Sharper Williams of Company G, USCT 14th Heavy Artillery. I knew that our Isaac Carter had transferred from Company B to Company G; but, I began to wonder when this transpired.

A careful examination of his service record revealed something interesting.

May 2007:
Isaac Carter's Great Grandson at Fort Macon
  • March 12, 1864: Isaac enlisted in 1st North Carolina Heavy Artillery, later known as USCT 14th Heavy Artillery. Rank: Sergeant, Company B.
  • He was present at company muster roll through June 1865: Sergeant.
  • July & August 1865 Company B muster roll reveals he had been demoted to Private. Remarks: Transferred to Company G Res S.O. No. 78....
  • In the next page, also for July & August 1865, he appears in company muster roll for Company G as a Private with the following remarks: Free April 19, 1861. Transferred from Company "B", August 28, 1865 By S.O. No. 78 Hd Qrts 14 U.S. Promoted to Corpl (Sept. 1, 1865 By S.O. No. 82). [two lines down]: Roll Mutilated. 
  • September & October 1865: Rank: Sergeant, Company G. Remarks: Promoted Sergt Sept. 20, 1865.
Now that I'm aware of when the transfer occurred, I can more carefully recreate Co. B & G for the time periods when Isaac served in both. (See Brainstorming for Backstory and USCT 14th Heavy Artillery A-Z for further info on this sub-project.) 

Transcription: Sharper Williams' Affidavit on behalf of Isaac Carter
North Carolina}
Craven County}
No. 612812 of Isaac Carter Co. G. 14 U.S.C.H.A.
On this 3rd day of June A.D. 1890  Personally
appeared before me a clerk of the
Superior Court a Court of record in
and for the County & State aforesaid
Sharper Williams aged 65 yrs well 
known to be reputable and en-
titled to credit & who being duly
sworn according to Law declares:
I enlisted Pvt. Co_ G. 14 USCHArty Feb
1865 and became acquainted
with Isaac Carter Sgt of my Co at
the same time. When I first
became acquainted with him
he was very sick with diarrhea
& piles also with Chronic Rheumatism
at Carolina City N.C. on about
Feb 1865 he was in the hospital
and was healed by the Surgeon,
And he was also taken with
a heavy cold which resulted in
the asthma and he continued
to complain and have a 
severe cough and was at a 
severe strain all the remainder
of the service with the diarrhea 
and piles and complained
being afflicted with rheumatism
in the feet and Legs, which
swell up & to such extent that
at times he cannot walk.
And he was in this condition all 
the rest of the service. Since the
war I have at times seen 
him at times very week (sic)
two or three times a month
And so for as i know he is
down for two or three times
a year for a month or more
at at (sic) a time with rheumatism so
he can't walk and from straining
diarrhea & piles pains in throat
& heart. He has continued to
suffer in such condition ever since
the war. I have no interest in
the claim.  My P.O. address is
New Bern N.C.
witness              )                      his
E.W. Carpenter )      Sharper    X   Williams
AM Baker         )                    mark

                                          Sworn & subscribed
to before me this 3rd day of June 1890
& I certify that the foregoing was read
to affiant as he stated before making
his mart to same & that he is the
identical person he claims to be & is cred-
ible & worthy of belief also that I have no
interest in this claim.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter, Document #15

Below is a transcription of an affidavit sworn out by Theophilus George. This could either be Isaac's brother-in-law (b. 10 Jul 1850), or his father-in-law (b. abt. 1804). Upon completion, further analysis will determine the realtionship.

 North Carolina
Craven County
Also personally appeared before 
me a clerk of Superior Court
a court of record in and 
for the County & State aforesaid
Theophilus George age 40 yrs. 
well known unto be respectable and
entitled to credit & who being duly
declares: I have been acquainted
with Isaac Carter the soldier
all my Life. When he came home
from the war Dec 1865 he appeared
to be quite sick from Rheumatism
and was stiff in his joints of feet & 
Legs and he would be unable
to walk and he also complains 
of diarrhea & piles and asthma
soreness of throat and heart.
He has suffered to a great
excess each and every year
to the present that he has been
down for two or three times each
year or a month or more at a 
time. And I have lived near
his house ever since the war
and have been able to see
him every week at times and
I so on. When ever I see
He is complaining and is at times 
laid up from Rheumatism
diarrhea piles and asthma.
and he is continually sick
from said disabilities.
I have no interest in the
claim. My P.I. address is
Harlowe N. C. 

witness               )
E.W. Carpenter  )  Theophilus George
J.B. Willis         )

sworn & sub-
scribed to before me this 3rd day of
June 1890 & I certify that officiant states'that the foregoing was read to him before
signing same & that he is the identical
person he claims to be & is credible &
worthy of belief.                            E.W. Carpenter

Frederick Douglass,
U.S. Claim Agent.
Box 590, New Berne, N.C.

  • Taking into account that Theophilus George was 40 years old on 3 June 1890, he would have been born in 1850, which is compatible with Isaac Carter's brother-in-law. Certain he would have known Isaac all his life as Isaac was eleven years old when Theophilus was born. 
  • Theophilus reports Isaac's condition following the war in 1865. He married Theophilus' older sister, Martha Ann, one and a half years later (15 May 1867). 
  • The informant reports that I have lived near his house ever since the war. Perhaps an examination of land deeds and Census documents for 1870 and 1880 would determine the location of this land, whether it corresponds to the current Martha Ann (George) Carter Heirs Land. Also, where both Carter and George resided before the war. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter, Document #11

The next affidavit was sworn by Silas Fenner, one of Isaac Carter's comrade in arms in the USCT Heavy Artillery 14th Regiment.

As I read over this document, I became aware of some colloquialisms of the era. I am hoping that by studying enough records, a pattern will emerge which will be able to assist me in writing dialog.

* * * * *

Department of the Interior,
Jan. 20, 1890

Respectfully requested of the ADJUTANT
GENERAL U.S.A. a report from the records of his
Office as to the presence or absence, on or about
Winter of 1864 & 65
of Silas Fenner
of Co. G. 14 U.S.C.H Art.
and the station, at that date, of the Co
Invalid Claim No. 662812
Isaac Carter
Co. G. 14 U.S. C. H. Art.
Green B. Raum, Commissioner.

War Department,
Record of Pension Division,
Washington, JAN 21 1890
Respectfully returned to the
Commissioner of Pensions
With the information that the name
Silas Fenner is not
born on rolls Co. G
14 U.S.C. H Arty
F. G. Ainsworth,
Captain and Ass't Surgeon, U.S. Army
* * * * *
Isaac Carter
State of North Carolina
County of Craven
In matter of original claim
of Isaac Carter of Co. G 14
Regt U.S.C.H. Arty No 612812
On this 15th Day of May AD 1889
personally appeared Before one
clerk of the Superior Court Being
a court of record in and for
the county of Craven and State
of North Carolina  Sergeant
Silas Fenner age 49 years
Resident of Harlow N.C. Craven
County, well known to be
reputable and Entitled to credit
Who Being duly sworn according
to Law Declares as follows, I
and Sergeant Isaac Carter
was play boys together and
he and I Enlisted in the US
Army together, and when he
Enlisted he was a Well and
hardy man from all appearance
until. until on about Winter
1964 he contracted the Diarrhea
and piles at Carolina City
he contracted the Rheumatism
at Carolina City by Exposure
and cold, and the Diarrhea
by drinking bad Water.
and he was Sent to the Hospital
for treatment, and he was treated
By Surgeon, he complained
Very much he seemed as he
was bad off  We Was discharged
on about the 11th day of December
1865 at Fort Macon N.C. and
then We got on the train and
came to New Berne N.C.  We then
got off the train and Went to
Harlows Creek and that has
Been our resident every since
and he and I lived about
three miles apart and I
know he continues to suffer
With the Rheumatism  Diarrhea
and piles and the Asthma
he is down three and four
times a year so he cant do
anything, and he is about
two thirds disabled to perform
manual Labor by reason
of the Diarrhea  Rheumatism
Asthma & piles he is suffering
for the necessaries of
this Life, he depending on
the hand of Charity for
This Support by reason he
is unable to work.
This is all I know about the 
claim and I am no
relation. I have no interest
in his claim.
                           My post Office
                           Address is
                           Harlowe        N.C.
                           Craven County
                            Silas  X  Fenner
E.W. Carpenter
J. D. Willis
                              sworn & sub-
scribed to before me this 15th
day of may 1889 & I certify that
the foregoing was read to [          ]
before making his mark in
same & that he is the iden-
tical person he claims 
to be & is credible & worthy
of belief
                                                E.W. Carpenter
                                                [                     ]

Monday, October 15, 2012

Amanuensis Monday--The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter, Document #8

Descendants Jubilee Project
If you had been following this series at its inception in August 2011, you may discover that I have skipped over documents 4-7. Perhaps one day I'll go back and fill in the missing information. Currently I am most interested in documents which help us gain an understanding of this ancestor's character and experience which affected his quality of life.

Document #8 is a three and one-half page affidavit which sheds a little more light on the incidents leading to Isaac's disability. I have chosen to transcribe this one at this time because the details proved interesting to the conditions leading to his disability.

State of North Carolina)
County of Craven         )
In matters of original Claim No. 662872
of Isaac Carter [--ot] 2 Sergeant of
Co. G 14 Regt U.S.C.H. Arty
on this 17 "Day of Oct-- A.D. 1888
Personally appeared before me a
Clerk of Superior Court a Court
of record in and for the County
of Craven and State of North
Carolina   Isaac Carter age 48 "years"
Resident of Clubfoots Creek, Craven
County N.C. P.O. address P.O. Box 570
New Bern N.C. well known to me to
be reputable and Entitled to credit
who being Duly sworn according to Law
Decloses (sic) as follows, I was Born and
Rais (sic) in Craven County N.C. I never had
any sickness Prior to my Enlistment. I Enlisted
as Privet (sic) in Co. B. 14 Regt U.S.C.H. Arty
on the 12 Day of March 1864  I was
promoted Corporal in Fall 1864 and
transferred to Company G. 14 Regt U.S.C.
H. Arty on a bout March 1865   I was promoted
Second Sergeant of Co. G. 14 Regt U.S.C.H.
Arty under Captain John B. Willett. the first
time I Every having the Dirrhea (sic) and Piles
it was at Moorhead City on about November
1864   I was taken with the Rheumatism in feet
Legs and pains in the Breast and
Shortness of Breath and [houghtness]
I contracted the Rheumatism in the following
manner viz on a bout Nov 1864 the Regiment
was ordered from New Berne N.C. to Moorhead
City N.C. and we arrive there in the
night  We Layed out all Night for
Three or four Nights with out any
tents in the open air Nothing but our
Blankets. our Tents was Left to New Berne
and it Rain and [         ] and I
got wet. I was taken first with a
Deep cold up on the Lung. I could not Speak Louder than a whisper
and my feet taken to swelling and I
sent Hospital. I Remain the Hospital
for Three Months, More Less and was
Treated by the Surgeon  I am able to give
the Surgeon Name. This was Two
and Three Surgeon Moor Less and I
have Suffered Every Since with Diarhea (sic)
and Piles and Swelling Feeling Legs Pains
in Back and Shoulders and Knees and
Larger Joints and Shortness of the Breath
I am Generally Down in Bed Two and
Three times a year Each and every years
Generally in fall and though the winter
and Spring and Bothered a great Deal.
Asthma and weakness of the Eyes
from Date of Discharge up to the
Present   I have lived on Clubfoot
Creek Craven County N.C. My occupation
have been that of a farmer when
I could Do any thing. I have not
been able to work one third of any
Time. I have Suffered a great Deal for
the Necessaries of this Life and have
not been able to work. My children
and wife has work to suport me. I have
not been able to Employ any Doctor to Treat
Me. I have Bought Medician (sic) from First
one Doctor then and other. I generally use
Linement and Balsom to Rub my Back
there has not been any change in my
Resident  My P.O. address is P.O. Box
590 New Berne N.C. I am unable
to Prove my Disability by Commissioned
officers of my Company by Reason
I do not know where they are at
or Post Office address. I have not
seen or heard from them since the 11 Day
of December 1865 or the Surgeon or
Assistant Surgeon. I am able to prove
it by my Comrads (sic) which I ask
to be accepted in Lieu of Commissioned
officers or Surgeons, of My Regiment
my P.O. address is P.O. Box
590 New Berne N.C.
Witness                   Isaac  X  Carter
E.W. Carpenter               mark
J. B. Willis
                                      Sworn & subscribed
to before me this 17th day of Oct
1888 & I certify that the foregoing
was read to Claimant before
executing samd & that he is
the identical person he
claimed to be & is creditable &
worthy of belief.
                           E.W. Carpenter
                           Clerk Sup Court

Monday, October 8, 2012

Keeping an Online Family History Journal

You may have noticed something new on the website...a new link to
The Bizzy Bee's Family History Journal.

Besides following genealogy and history blogs, I also follow writer's blogs, and Mary Carrol Moore's How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book is one of my favorites! In her post, Staying in the Room with the Writing--How to keep yourself from getting blocked, distracted or stopping altogether, was just the motivation I needed to start another dimension to this blog....the family history journal.

My first post, Messaging Dominique: Debunking Family Myths, was the catalyst. The previous day I had been messaging our cousin whom I had just recently met online! It is rare that I come across a descendant of Elisha Carter, my husband's grandfather's oldest brother...and she is only the fourth I have met, although I have only ever met one in person! So, Hey Dominique! So glad you found us!!!

I had read Mary's post and was mulling the idea over in my mind, but how would I do this? I contacted our California cousin Yvette Porter Moore and asked her how she got her new website to look so good? How did she link all her blogs to her main page? She messaged me with some good advice and a lot of encouragement, and with a little experimenting, I finally got it right!

My goal is to apply her weekly writing exercises to my research/writing regimen. I hope you'll stop by and see what the Bizzy Bee's been up to!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Drawing Upon Parallel Personal Memories

According to author/editor C. S. Lakin, your first paragraph needs three things to hook your readers into the story:

  1. Your protagonist (Isaac Carter),
  2. A catalyst or incident (the binding out of the four orphaned Carter children at the County Courthouse), and
  3. A hint of the protagonist's core need  (to keep his siblings together, to watch over and protect them).
I have researched how they might have journeyed from North Harlowe to New Bern...the route they may have taken to get to the Courthouse once arriving to the city...what the Courthouse may have looked like...

...and now, I need to recreate the emotional responses the protagonist and subordinate characters in this first scene may have had to the incident.
For this I rely on personal memories of a similar event. 

Going to the Courthouse
Hampshire County Courthouse, Northampton, MA
On November 28, 1990, nearly one month after our youngest child's death in a vehicle/pedestrian accident, my husband and I, the driver of the vehicle, our lawyers and a clerk magistrate sat down together at a closed session in Northampton District Court for a show-cause hearing.

The clerk magistrate announced that she had just come back from vacation and had not yet read the background of the case...and it looks like no one was injured. Almost in unison, everyone in the room cried out, Someone died!

We met for thirty half hour...reviewed the circumstances, and resolved it among ourselves. Looking back, it seemed like more time than that had elapsed; and if I hadn't read it for myself in the newspaper I wouldn't have believed it.
It was an accident in the truest sense of the word, [the driver] said of Nichelle's death. It was a tragedy, he added, one that happened in three seconds, the time it took my truck to move eight feet. (Charges Ruled Out In Stroller Death, Union-News (Springfield, MA), Thursday, November 29, 1990, by Richard Bourie: Staff: Union-News.)
As we emerged from the small room upon a long, dark, narrow hall, a reporter approached us from the stairwell ahead. The questions he asked seemed trivial and intrusive. I recall a sense of annoyance that he would invade our privacy, not taking into account that we were in a public place. I answered tersely, then walked past him and descended the stairs.

Our two surviving children were not with us. I don't remember where they were...perhaps with their grandparents. That day's events preceding and following the hearing are as lost to traumatic forgetfulness as the memory of the hearing is forever etched in my mind. Even the memory of approaching the reporter is as walking through a haze, buffered by a valley of no recall.

Roughing out the courtroom scene...
And how must young Isaac Carter have felt...a fourteen-year-old young man, huddling his younger siblings about him, as they entered the courthouse. Master Temple instructed them to go with the Negro matron to the upper gallery and wait until their case was called.

The bell tolled in the cupola above, bidding the townspeople to come to court. It was a big day when the Quarter Session began. The Sheriff had rounded up a jury from among the planters and prominent men of the county, and onlookers and curiosity seekers pushed their way through the doors, hoping to get a seat in one of the plain, straight-backed benches of the gallery. . . .

I imagine Isaac felt an unnatural calm, like time was moving past him in a blur. The chatter of innumerable groups of people rose to a roar, yet muffled by a buffer of distortion. He saw people shoving, pushing, scurrying, but he felt detached from it.

And then the Sheriff entered:
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez. All manner of persons who have any thing to do before the Honorable the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court, and Court of Quarter Sessions, here holden this day, let them come forward and they shall be heard. (A Book of Forms for Practice in the Courts and for Conveyancing, Volume 2, p. 2102.)

Everyone stood as the Justice of the Peace entered and stepped up to the dias and took his seat on the tall bench, and then the people sat down.

A rail divided the general courtroom from the spectator's gallery, and beyond that sat two oval tables where the attorneys sat. Below the judge's bench were benches for the Sheriff and his deputies, and a smaller table where the clerk of court recorded the proceedings.

The gavel cracked three times, and the murmur of the crowd died down to complete silence. The Sheriff called the first case on the docket and people came forward and sat with the attorney at an oval table.

It seemed that case after case was called of one sort or another....

Turning a 2-D scene into 3-D
As I wrote the sketch for the opening of the courtroom scene, I noticed that while I could imagine the disjointed feeling of grief mixed with responsibility and living in the present, I was struggling with getting into the head of a fourteen-year-old boy.

I can see that after we move and get settled in, I'll be spending some time in my new office, surrounded with photos, the apprenticeship documents (which are currently packed away in boxes labeled, "Debra's Gen. Binders/Bedroom #2") and spending some quiet time imagining.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Forming Your Character's Distinctive Personality

Vintage Puzzle by Fel1x
Following the post on composite likeness,
I began giving some thought to the next step....Since I am writing about a person I've never met...a black male in a time not my a world with differing social mores...I must find devices to piece together the complete man from a fourteen-year-old boy through the stages of manhood.

Composite Personality
Just as I had morphed the photos of four generations of Carter males to come up with a visual representation of my protagonist's physical appearance, I have overlaid the layers of our elders' comments with observations of living descendants for three generations of Carter men.

Layer 1: Hezekiah Carter (son; deceased)
In the summer of 2004 our family traveled from our home in New England to the Livingston Grand Reunion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Prior to the in-gathering of the descendants of Frank Livingston, we stopped over in Whiteville, North Carolina to visit with family from the Prince Livingston branch who were unable to attend the reunion.

Our first stop after visiting the Charles Spencer Livingston home place on Fruit Ridge Road was to interview the matriarch of our family's branch. Now Aunt Albertha holds another special place in our family because she is a double aunt. She was married to my husband's paternal Uncle Jesse Carter...and her youngest sister Lillie Stean had married Uncle Jesse's youngest half-brother, my husband's father...Chester Carter.

As my husband and I interviewed Aunt Albertha and Cousin Ruth about the Carter side of the family, our aunt recounted the day she met Hezekiah and Hannah Jane husband's grandparents.

Hezekiah was also our protagonist's third born son of nine surviving children. Born in 1874, Isaac Carter was 35-years-old at his son's birth.
Hezekiah was a very kind, soft spoken man. And you could tell he loved his wife very much. He said he was glad that Jesse had me in his life because his first wife had been so much older...more like a mother figure.
The first wife is a mystery....

 Layer 2: Bert Carter (grandson, oldest son of the first wife; deceased)
Although we attended two George family reunions in North Harlowe, North Carolina, I met our cousin Napoleon online via In a correspondence thread back in February 2011 he said:
I used to visit Miss Hannah when I was small and I knew your Uncle Bert pretty well. And like most Carter men in our family...they had a guess it skipped me...
Layer 3: Chester Carter (grandson, youngest surviving son of the second wife; deceased)
My mother was also so impressed with my father-in-law, stating that he was a fine, distinguished looking man. I will always remember him as a quiet, peaceful man who sacrificed for his family whom he loved dearly. Pushed far enough, however, his anger would flare...but only momentarily. He would take quick, decisive action, and then resume his normal state.

There is a story which he told me years ago when my husband and I were newlyweds, living in their home.... I was suffering from a lung infection caused by a severe allergy to cats. The doctor had told me that even if we got rid of the cat, it would take ten years of vacuuming to rid the carpets of the cat hair and dander unless they were torn up, the floors cleaned, and new carpeting laid down.
Years ago, he said, I was frying a pan of fish and had set it out to cool. I came back into the kitchen later only to find that the cat had eaten the fish! I got angry and Stean yelled, Why don't you just shoot the cat? I think I will, I said, and got my gun. I nearly lost my marriage over that cat, so you'll understand why we don't get rid of it....
Layer 4: Living Carter males (great grandsons)
Though diverse in interests and expression, each of one of the next generation of Carter males has several aspects of personality in common:

  • a deep and sincere faith in God
  • issues they feel passionately about
  • a deep sense of responsibility and love for family
  • a good sense of humor
  • an even-tempered outward disposition
  • enjoyment when interacting with people

Composite temperament for Isaac Carter's character
I see Isaac as a mixture of all these aspects of personality. The challenge will be in finding situations that occurred in his life to visually illustrate these inner facets of personality.

I can see now that I need to devise a check-list to ensure that I reach my scene objectives. For me, this is uncharted territory. . . .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

From Character Development to Composite Likeness

When we last looked at character development, we discussed the soul wounds that our protagonist--young Isaac Carter--had experienced up till his fourteenth year of age. The succession of losses in his life most likely left him with fears of abandonment and of financial hardship, taking the form of a mask of self-reliance. All of this sounds so academic and detached.

Now is the time to determine how these theoretical fears and compensation affected the behavior, thoughts and attitudes of Isaac as he matured.

Gaining insights by looking backward
The first step to filling in gaps in descriptive character detail, such as answering the question: What did the fourteen year old Isaac look like? is to examine what you have and work backward.

STEP ONE: While we have no personal artifacts to guide us, we must first look at what we DO have. Below is a list I compiled of all of Isaac Carter's documentation to date:

  1. 1850 U.S. Census (9, living with parents & family)
  2. 1860 U.S. Census (19, apprenticed to William Temple)
  3. 1864 USCT Military Service Record
  4. 1867 County Marriage Record
  5. 1870 U.S. Census (29, married, farm laborer, 1 child)
  6. 1880 U.S. Census (39, married, field hand, 5 children)
  7. Civil War Pension File
  8. 1900 U.S. Census (59, married, pensioner, 8 children)
  9. 1910 U.S. Census (70, married, house painter, 1 child)
  10. 1918 Death Certificate

Of all these documents, the only ones which offer a physical description are the military service record (left) and the pension file.

This gives us the description of Isaac at ages 24, and then again at 48.

As I began to imagine a fourteen year old boy, I remembered our son at that age. He was very slight for his age due to the effects Chron's Disease. At his annual physical exam, the family physician would plot his height and weight on a growth chart.

With this in mind, I found the form needed at the CDC.

By plotting the height for Isaac at age 24 on this chart, I followed the corresponding growth curve downward to align with the vertical axis at 14 years. I concluded that Isaac would have been approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall, which is about the same height our son was at that age.

Next, I scanned photos for our son, my husband, my father-in-law and my father-in-law's uncle to see if I could morph them together to get an idea of what young Issac may have looked like. Below is the composite formed at MorphThing.

Now I have a more vivid image, which actually resembles our son with the lips and jawline of my husband's oldest brother. Heredity is an interesting thing! 

The next step will be to formulate a composite personality based on what I know of the past three generations of Carter males, and what I have heard through oral tradition about the previous two generations of Carters.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Old Newbern Courthouse

One of the biggest frustrations for me as a researcher/writer is coming to a screeching halt at the appearance of a giant pothole in the middle of the road. It's not quite the same as coming to a dead end. There's more information to fill in the path...somewhere...but where...and when? 

Just as I was really getting somewhere with character development, I received an email which opened up a whole new avenue of exploration in regards to the old Newbern Courthouse.

New Bern, Newbern or New Berne?
Allow me to begin with just a brief note on historic spellings for our city. Victor T. Jones Jr., the Special Collections Librarian in the Kellenberger Room at New Bern-Craven County Public Library, says in a recent Facebook communication:
Officially they started writing New Bern as two words in the 1890s. Before the Civil War, it was mostly written as one word (Newbern), though there are some examples of it as two. During the Civil War occupation is when the "e" was added to Bern (New Berne). In the late 1890s and early 1900s there was a big debate in town about whether it was one word or two, with the e or without. It was finally settled with the the way it is currently spelled, two words without the e.
Since the time period I am focusing on is the 1850s, I will be using the antebellum spelling, Newbern.

Back to the Courthouse...
In our story, the old Newbern Couthouse is the focal point of our first scene, where the four youngest Carter children appear to be bound out as apprentices to the household of William Temple.

I have studied historical accounts and maps of the city, but not till I received copies of the following photos...all that remains of the memory of the old Newbern Courthouse...did I begin to recreate the scene from the children's point of view (POV). I had actually received the photos back in mid-May; but, a more recent email provided the stimulus to try to identify the style of the court house beyond the ruins below:

Ruins of the Craven County Court House,
destroyed by fire January 15, 1861.
The Court House stood in the intersection
of Broad and Middle streets. This view
was taken from Broad Street looking west.
The old Market House is visible
beyond the ruins.
The photos answered a question I had earlier based on a the map I had previously view which placed the court house in the intersection of Broad and Middle Streets.

In the intersection, as opposed to at the intersection, was the correct phrasing; although, it was highly unimaginable for me. How could a court house be placed in an intersection, especially one lined with trees which would have made the roadway about it quite narrow?

From these photos we can see all that remained was the corner of the building.
Ruins of the Craven County Court House.
View taken on Middle Street looking north.
A New Bern Album, by John B. Green, III
(1985), p. 26.

It appears to have been a three story structure, with perhaps three sets of windows on each floor.

This was the second court house in Newbern. The original one was to be built in 1761 by orders of Richard Spaight, Esq., Joseph Leech and John Fonville, Commissioners. It was ordered "that a Court House for the said county [Craven], not exceeding sixty feet long and forty feet wide in the clear be build on the public lots in the town of Newbern ...on the intersection of Broad street where a Court house is already begun" (Rambles about Town: Pollock Street from Queen to Middle, October 8, 1882).

John D. Whitford also noted that "This old court house gave place to the brick one build on the same site about forty years afterwards, which was destroyed by fire just before the war. We have a photograph (above) of the walls with the houses then around them, taken immediately after the fire."

Of the second court house, Mr. Whitford states:
The clock on the cupola of the court house belonged to the town, was purchased in 1826, and no better was ever made and set up. The bell was the property of the county, and not only gave us the hours through the day and night, but it was also rung for all fire company meetings, political meetings, or any kind of town or county meetings, as well as give the alarm of fires.

While Victor had encouraged me to check the colonial architecture of the existing Chowan and Beaufort County court houses, I am now convinced that while the original courthouse may have had some of these colonial influences, this second courthouse did not. And this is how I came upon this conclusion:

Below you will find a collage I constructed of all the photos available on a Google Image search for the Old Chowan County Courthouse in Edenton, NC:

I was so excited about the detail I had discovered, especially the interior design.

The old Beaufort County Courthouse in Washington, North Carolina can be seen below:

While they both have a copula with a clock and bell, I decided to look for images of three-story southern courthouses built around the turn of the 19th century.

Jones County Courthouse, Trenton, NC
I am now somewhat convinced that the second Newbern Courthouse may have looked more like this courthouse built in nearby Jones County, North Carolina.

Whitford states that the original...
Court house is raised on brick arches so as to render the lower part a convenient market place, but the principal (sic) marketing is done with the people in their canoes and boats at the river side.
If the arches were carried over into the design of the second courthouse, perhaps it might look somewhat like the front of the U. S. Post Office and Courthouse in New Bern, seen below:
by eopederson45
Old Fairfax County Courthouse in Fairfax City, Virginia was built in 1799, close to the time the second Newbern Courthouse was erected. Notice the similarity in the use of brick arches in its design.

Courtroom Design
There are some similarities in courtroom design between Fairfax County Courthouse and those of Chowan County, North Carolina,  and James City (colonial Williamsburg) and Isle of Wight Counties in Virginia, which share the same layout.
Ultimately, what I will have to do is to use my imagination to combine elements of all of these settings to re-create the exterior and interior of the second Old Newbern Courthouse for this scene.

And now you can see how the giant pothole in the middle of the road got filled in with a little help from my friends.