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James Turner Miller – A Good Man Killed – Murder Most Foul

As so correctly stated by Aaron Holt of the National Archives and Records Administration, “It only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history.  If you want to avoid losing those precious family stories passed down through the generations, the story must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved.”

As it pertains to oral family histories – the Miller family has done a great job – specifically as it relates to James Turner Miller, the father of Elijah Spencer Miller (whose wife was Harriet Curbow).  When I began researching the life of Elijah and Hattie – I naturally poked around for information on Elijah’s father, and through census records, I believed that to be James Turner Miller, who lived “east of the Brazos – near Waco, Texas.  As I worked with other Miller researchers, I was told on more than one occasion that Mr. Miller was a wealthy landowner, had been in Waco on a supply trip on the day of his death, and that he had been murdered by cattle rustlers on his way home.  I put that in my “to be determined file” and moved on with the research.  Thankfully, I have many fantastic research partners – and Mr. Tom Hedges (a Miller descendant) – was able to locate this news article, presumably published in a Waco newspaper the day after the murder on 19 Aug 1873.

A GOOD MAN KILLED – MURDER MOST FOUL

Intelligence was yesterday morning received of the death by gunshot the evening before, of James T. Miller, a resident of this county, and one of the most orderly and respectable citizens. Who it was that committed this atrocious crime, or by what spirit of diabolism actuated, is yet one of the undeveloped mysteries. Certain it is, however, it was a murder most foul. Jim Miller, for so he was familiarly called, was in town the day he was killed, and it is known that he was not armed. He fell, therefore, by the hand of the assassin. He had bought during the day supplies and a quantity of lumber for use on his place, and was on his way home with them. He lived at the Pitts place, on the Corsicana road, twelve miles from town. A short distance this side of town, night coming on, Mr. Miller, being on horseback, left the wagons on the main road and started home on the “trail,” a more direct route. Shortly afterward the report of a gun was heard in that direction; Mr. Miller not coming home, search was instituted, and on the following morning (yesterday) his body was found. He was shot at the trail crossing of that ill-famed creek, the Tehuacana, a short distance above the Corsicana Road.  A load of buckshot, some eighteen or twenty, taking effect in his side, had done its bloody work and there he lay. “Dead men tell no tales,” and in the absence of witnesses it is possible that the perpetrator of this great crime may go unwhipped of justice and unrecognized, save by the eye of heaven, as the murderer he is. But if it is possible, under such circumstances and in the absence of any clue, to ascertain who it was that did the deed, this should be done and the guilty party be awarded at the hands of the law the fearful penalty due his crime. The deceased will be buried with Masonic honors by Waco Lodge No. 92, to-day.

As it turned out – the family oral history was spot on about the facts of Jim Miller’s murder.

James Turner Miller – known as Jim – was born to Alfred Miller (b. 1793) and Sarah Wray on 12 Feb 1824 in South Carolina.

At the time of the 1850 census we find James T. Miller living next door to his father in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.  He is a blacksmith – both he and his father are land and slave owners.  Jim is living with his first wife Rebecca, age 21 (Rebecca Ann Anderson) and son Elizah, age 2; (Elijah Spencer Miller, born 1849).  Also next door is Rebecca Anderson, Elijah Anderson and James Anderson.  Can we presume this to be the family of Rebecca, Elijah Miller’s wife?

Miller researcher Shirley McAnelly Hill states that Jim Miller and family were in Texas by 1858 – and they can indeed be found in the 1860 census living in McLennan County, Texas.  He is with his wife Rebecca and son Spencer and daughter Nancy (Nancy Roseann Miller, born 1859).

The oral family story continues stating that Rebecca died in childbirth while Jim was in Galveston, Texas serving in the Civil War sometime around 1862.  As it turns out, this part of the family story checks out as well – Jim did serve in Confederate Army with the 9th Militia Dist., McLennan County, 28th Brigade, Texas Militia – where he held the rank of 3rd Sgt.  It could be that the child Rebecca gave birth to was daughter Mary Alice Miller (born 1862).

Muster Roll Index Card – James Turner Miller

Jim Miller married for a second time to Catherine S. Young on 9 Dec 1864 (presume in McLennan County – although I have not located a marriage record for them there).  The couple had five children:  William Turner Miller in 1865; Susan Ellanora Miller in 1867; Rebecca Miller in 1869; Permelia Paralee Miller in 1871; and Jesse Perkins Miller in 1873).  When the census was taken in 1870, the family is still living in McLennan County, Texas “east of the Brazos.”  At that time Jim owned real estate valued at $8,500 and personal property valued at $2,000.

On a recent genealogy trip to Waco, my husband and I spent hour upon hour, looking through old Wills and probate papers at the McLennan County District Clerk’s office.  While there I pulled the Will and probate file of James Turner Miller – and it was voluminous!  The probate file settles James Turner Miller’s family relationships and confirms that he was a very well to do citizen of McLennan County, Texas.  Since the file was so large, I did not copy it in its entirely; however, I did have a few pertinent pages copied – and will write about that in my next post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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Posted by on June 21, 2017 in Miller

 

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Legends and Myths

Do you remember playing the childhood game called “telephone” – the game where the first person in line whispers a phrase into the second person’s ear, and the phrase is then repeated down the line? When finally at the end of the line, the phrase almost always ended up being vastly different than what it was at the outset. And so it goes with family stories – sometimes they are true, but many more times, they are simply family legends and myths.

I receive weekly contacts and inquiries from other genealogy enthusiasts who are hunting the same family lines that I am. Nearly everyone has a story to tell – a story that has been handed down through the generations about their ancestors. Some of the family stories that I hear most often include:

Our family has Native American ancestry. Our great-grandma was a Cherokee Indian Princess.” This story never varies – it’s always a Cherokee – never another tribe – and it’s always a female princess – never a male king, prince or chief. 🙂  The majority of the Curbow researchers that have contacted me have made this same assertion. I have done extensive research on several Curbow lines and have never found proof of Native American lineage and there has been no Cherokee Indian Princess lurking among the ancestors! From the Cherokee Museum: The Cherokee never had princesses. This is a concept based on European folktales and has no reality in Cherokee history and culture.19041452

Our family is related to Jessie James, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone , etc., etc., etc.” Of course, it’s only human nature, to want to lay claim to one of these American legends and place them in our family tree. It is also true that not everyone with the surname James can be traced back to Jessie James – and not everyone named Boone can trace their roots back to Daniel Boone. Such a relationship can only be proven by diligent research and proper sourcing.

Our first American ancestors were three brothers who came to America…..” I ponder the fact that it’s never five brothers or six sisters – always three brothers!!! I hear this family story very often and so it was with our Curbow family. When I first seriously began researching the family all I had heard was: “Three brothers came to America from Ireland.” None of this proved to be even close to the truth. Do your research!

I’ll share a few of our own family stories that l have been researching:

Brothers, Joseph Curbow (1755-1850) and William Curbow (1757-?) were both Revolutionary War soldiers. The family story states that both Joseph and William were present at the British surrender in Yorktown in 1781. Fact or fiction?

Lieutenant-Colonel John West was said to have committed adultery against his wife and left her to live with Cockacoeske – Queen of the Pamunkey – and purportedly a cousin to Pocahontas. Fact or fiction?

One of the “Curbo girls” married into the John Wesley Hardin family. The “Curbo boys” ran with the gang and are responsible for burning down the Courthouse in Hill County, Texas in the late 1870s. Fact or fiction?

With all this said, I do believe that most family stories begin with a smidgen of truth. In other words, where there is smoke there might be a fire. Take it all with a grain of salt and do your own research being careful to source every fact.  The family story that has been passed down to you may be a starting point that leads you to breaking through a brick wall and compiling a very successful and interesting family tree.

Happy Hunting !

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Odds and Ends

 

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And We Have a Winner !

Today we held the drawing for the ancestry.com prize package winner!  Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas!  Courtesy of ancestry.com, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.

In her submission, Jan shared as follows:

One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree.  Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history.  I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information.  The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress.  When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history.  She shared much of her written records with me.  Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children.  Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree.  At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants.  This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when Ancestry.com was launched.  I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.

My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather.  My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old.  As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names.  I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through Ancestry.com and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us.  Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.

I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research.  The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research.  As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me.  I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.

The latest Ancestry.com option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing.  I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere.  Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.

Jan Shaffer
Dallas, Texas

Congratulations to Jan !!

And to all of you:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY !!!!!!
 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Bedwell, Odds and Ends

 

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Chasing the Curbow Brothers – Part One

Some days I get thoroughly disgusted with trying to track down my brick wall ancestors. Why don’t they make their presence known to me?! I am sure the answers to my unsolved mysteries are right under my nose – I just need to practice patience – not always one of my strong virtues.

My husband’s ggg-grandfather, Tilman P. Curbow was born around 1821 in Georgia. It is believed (but not yet conclusively proven) that he is the son of Henry B. Curbow. Henry was born sometime around 1770 in Anson County, North Carolina (probably near Wadesboro). Many children have been attributed to Henry so it seems likely that he had more than one wife over his lifespan. He spent most of his life in Georgia and then came west to Texas. He died in the spring of 1850 in Cass County, Texas (which was formed from Bowie County, Texas in 1846). Based on Bowie County Tax Rolls along with a claim filed with the Republic of Texas, we know that Henry was in Texas as early as 1846. Now – (and here is where my lack of patience kicks in!!) I know I shouldn’t jump ahead when there are still so many unanswered questions about Tilman and Henry – but I want to know!! Who are the parents of Henry B. Curbow?! According to the vast majority of trees on ancestry.com (which are in large part not documented or sourced) the parents of Henry B. Curbow were John Corbo (various spellings) and Ann Phillips (who married near Baltimore, Maryland).

So I decided to search the early census records – and I found no John Corbo. In fact, the first census (1790) only yielded one Curbow – and that was Henry Carboe who was living in Edgefield County, South Carolina.

In the 1800 census I found two Curbow families – both in South Carolina: (1) Joseph Carbon (Edgefield County) and Henry Kerbow (Barnwell County).  Operating on a gut instinct that there had to be some sort of a family connection, I started researching Joseph. I found out that Joseph was a Revolutionary War soldier who eventually settled in Gwinnet County, Georgia. I also noted that Joseph was born in Maryland. Once I obtained Joseph’s Revolutionary War Pension application, I discovered that Joseph had a brother named William Curbo who stepped in and fulfilled his enlistment when Joseph was injured. I had trouble locating William’s Revolutionary War service records because he is indexed as “William Kerby.” After reading, reviewing and digesting William’s Revolutionary War application for a pension, the pieces started to fall into place.

Based on the applications, these are the things we know for sure about the John Corbo/John Kerby family:

Father:  John Kerby (or Curbo) – lived in Anson County, North Carolina during the Revolutionary War period; his home was burned by the British during the War.  In the database entitled: North Carolina Heads of Families at the First Census of the U.S. Taken in the Year 1790 there appears among other Kerbys, a “John Kerby.”

Sons of John Kerby:

John Kerby (or Curbo) born abt 1768.  He appeared in Court in September of 1833 in Jackson County, Tennessee and testified on his brother William Kerby’s behalf confirming William’s Revolutionary War service.  He stated that he (John) was 65 years old in 1833.  (Could this be John Curbow whose wife was Abigail?)

William Kerby (or Curbo) born abt 1758; Enlisted in the Army at the age of about 17 in the year 1775 – served with Capt. Thomas Harris in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line; residing in Anson County, North Carolina near the town of Wadesborrough; He states in his affidavit that he is illiterate; He filed his application in Jackson County, Tennessee, with the judge making a notation: William Kerby, or as it is sometimes written, William Curbo, aged 74 years on the 6th of July;   Brother John Kerby (Curbo) states in his testimony that he was present when his brother William Kerby enlisted and joined the company….that his brother marched off in said company and did not return for three years….that he was aware of William’s ‘surcharge’ and had read it and that it ‘was burned in his father’s house.” 

James Kerby (or Curbo) – said to have also been a Revolutionary War soldier. Brother John Kerby (Curbo) states in his testimony about his brother James Kerby (Curbo), that James Kerby enlisted at the same time, marched at the same time in the same company, returned at the same time, and had always understood from James that they (James and William) had both served out their full term of three years.  He also stated in his testimony that James died many years ago.

Joseph Kerby (or Curbo) – born about 1755 in Maryland; Revolutionary War Soldier; application filed from Gwinett County, Georgia; Served: Capt Thomas Harris, Col. Polk, 4th Regiment; also resided in Anson County, North Carolina; married to Mary Corbin; DAR has “associated” applications for John Curbow and wife Abigail on file.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – I think you will agree, William’s pension affidavit reads like a chapter out of your American History book!

Let me know how you have been successful in breaking down those brick walls with your own ancestor search.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Curbow

 

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Honoring Our Veterans

Our combined family consists of dedicated veterans who have served, fought and died for our freedoms in every American conflict starting with the American Revolution all the way through to the present conflict in Afghanistan.  We have had family members who served proudly in every branch of service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines – and even the United States Coast Guard.  Some of our veterans suffered greatly as prisoners of war; some have received Purple Hearts; some just quietly served and never spoke of their experiences – many more served during peace time around the world.  I am proud and grateful for each and every single one of them.  The sacrifice to the veteran and his family cannot be measured.  Today we stand up and remember you – and we thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country.  Without you there would be no us.

Below is only a small sampling of our family members who have served our country valiantly.

American Patriots:  James Curbow; Joseph Curbow; William Curbow; Leonard Miles – American Revolution

Willis D. West – Texas Revolution; Siege of Bexar

James L. Atwood; Tilman P. Curbow; Wiseman Curbow; John Montgomery Ham –Civil War

William Henry Lytle; Nathaniel Sheridan Murry; Frank Edward Story – World War I

Roy Orville Curbow; David Alfonso Montoya; Leonard Lee Setliff; Milton Pete Zimmerle – World War II

Gene Oliver Curbow – Korea

Richard Ernest Montoya (my father); Roy Oliver Curbow, Jr. – Vietnam

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Odds and Ends, Times and Places

 

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Atwood Family in the 1940 Census

I found my husband’s mother, grandparents, grand-uncle and great-grandfather all living together in Oplin, Callahan County, Texas.

William Riley Atwood owns his own farm worth $300.  He is 60 years old, has a 7th grade education and is a farmer.  In the home with him is his youngest son Vernon, age 23 who is a farm hand.  Also in the home is another son Orval (my husband’s grandfather).  Orval is a laborer engaged in the manufacturing industry. With him is his wife Vira who is 21.  Their children:  Howard, age 2 and “Binnis”, age 0/12.  This is my husband’s mother and her name is actually Bonnie.  One other son Thomas Ronnie is not enumerated.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Atwood

 

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Montoya Family in the 1940 Census

I found my Dad and grandfather in the 1940 census!  I’ve been trying off and on since yesterday; but the National Archives site was being hammered – and the site kept freezing up my computer.  Tonight – success!  There aren’t really that many surprises in this census.  Joe and family are living in Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah.  All but two of Joe and Pear’s children were born in Bingham Canyon.  Joe, in 1940, is an ore miner working for U.S. Mining Company.  The family is renting their home for $15.00 a month.  Joe states that for the previous year his yearly wages were $1,880.  Joe and Pearl had been married for eight years.  The children are Max, age 7 (who attended the 1st grade), Richard, age 5 (my dad), Juanita, age 3; and Eugene (Uncle Murph….that’s YOU !!!).  What surprised me the most is that living with Joe and Pearl is Pearl’s father, George Francis Spencer who in 1940 is 70 years old.

Onward to more 1940 discoveries !!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Montoya

 

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