Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society
After a hiatus of 3 months, we’re back with a new edition in a new year! It is the policy and intent of the Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society to publish a monthly newsletter, but sometimes things just do not go as planned. Your editor was diligently researching local folklore items for a really unique October edition when, in a moment of pure insanity, she decided that it would be fun to see if she could stand on her grandson’s skateboard. As they say, the rest is history! Your editor went to the hospital, and the really interesting local folklore items went back into the old file cabinet.
So, here we are in a brand new year, with brand new officers for the Society. On January 8, 2006, Cheri Coley, out-going president, installed the Society’s new officers for 2006. They are as follows: Melissa Carper, President; Jeanne Tackett, Vice-president; Barbara Lewis, Secretary; Marcia Connors, Treasurer; and LaNita McKinney, Historian/ Program and Publicity Chairperson. Cheri Coley joins Carol Reel, Tony Wapple and Judge Mary Ann Gunn on the Board of Directors.
The January meeting is traditionally a time to reflect on what the Society has accomplished over the last 12 months as well as a time to set goals for the upcoming year. A glance back at 2005 shows that WCAGS was very busy! Here are some of the things we did in 2005.
• We went on a field trip to the Ft. Smith Library in February.
• We held a genealogy discussion at the Springdale Library.
• We hosted a booth at the Washington County Courthouse Centennial in May.
• We copied Bible records for the Blair Library in association with the DAR.
• We held a Genealogy workshop at the Blair Library.
• We donated funds to the Historic Courthouse Renovation Fund and to the DAR for restoration of the WWI Mural in the courthouse.
• Our members volunteered in the genealogy department of the Blair Library.
• We developed a research application to bring in revenue for the Society.
• We researched requests that came in on those applications.
• We bought and donated 3 local history books for both the Blair and Springdale Libraries.
• We helped to preserve the endangered Graham Cemetery, and
• As of January 8, 2006, our website had received 2,992 hits.
For an organization that is just 3 years old, that is an impressive list of accomplishments for one year’s activities.
In 2006, some of the things that you suggested for WCAGS include…
• Develop a program to assist with the protection and preservation of abandoned Washington County cemeteries.
• Continuing copying Family Bible information for the family files at the Blair Library.
• Field trip possibilities to the Arkansas History Commission in Little Rock, the Mid America Library in Kansas City, or possibly to Salt Lake City.
• Pursue the Master Genealogists course of study.
• Allow meeting time for members to ask for help in overcoming brick walls in their research
• Incorporate programs on local homes and buildings and provide National Historic Register qualifications for those homes
• Offer programs about places of local interest such as the Carter’s Store Community.
• And invite speakers such as “The Orphan Train Lady” and the new managers of the LDS – History Stake Center – from the Jones Center for Families.
It looks to be a great year. Make your plans to be a part of it now. If you have not already done so, please renew your WCAGS membership. An organization is only as good as its membership, and OUR MEMBERS ARE GREAT!
Getting to Know the New Folks:
We haven’t included a biography on any of our members for a while. Since we have a new officer on board, this would be a good time to do so. This month our focus is on our Historian/ Program and Publicity Chairperson, LaNita McKinney.
LaNita Terry McKinney was born on September 5, 1956, in Fayetteville, AR to Tom Bradley Terry and Carol Sue Cullen Terry. She is the oldest of three daughters and the 4th generation on her paternal side, 3rd generation on her maternal side to be born in Washington County, AR. With 21 first cousins and the responsibility of being the oldest granddaughter on both sides of her family, LaNita was initiated at a very early age to family history. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, her mother, who told her all of the family stories and relationships as she was growing up, was immersing her in genealogy.
She married Richard Paisley McKinney on June 26, 1982, and became more aware of genealogy through her mother in-law who was active in the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. After toying with research for a few years, she finally began to actively research family history when her parents were divorced, and her mother gave her all of the Terry family information.
In the mid 1990’s, she attended an ancestry fair in Fayetteville. The following year the fair was held in Springdale where she met a Terry cousin who had researched and published a book of family letters. After purchasing the book, she periodically browsed through it but noticed there was very little information on her direct branch of the family tree. Several years later, she found a picture of her 4th great-grandfather’s tombstone, and the quest was begun to find out more.
Not only is LaNita active in WCAGS, she is also involved with the Marion Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Altrusa International of Fayetteville. She volunteers at the Blair Library on Monday nights to help folks in their search for their family roots. LaNita and husband Rick own and operate The McKinney Insurance Agency in Fayetteville. They have 2 daughters – an 18 year-old Senior at Fayetteville High School and a 13 year-old 7th grader at The New School.
The Graham Cemetery
In August, we reported on a small, endangered, forgotten cemetery located off Highway 62 West and IH 540 in Fayetteville. For lack of any other name, WCAGS has designated this as the Graham Cemetery. Currently, our members are continuing their efforts to contact the landowners to gain permission to begin cleaning up the area and restoring some of the broken tombstones. Recently, Ozarks Electric began to clear-cut the area and discovered another grave that had been completely covered with brush and undergrowth. The utility company carefully marked the grave and did no damage. The local contractor, who is developing the adjacent area, has marked the cemetery with yellow tape so that his site contractors do not accidentally back over the graves and tombstones with large equipment. The cemetery is not yet out of danger as some of the plots lie within 20 yards of Old Farmington Road and may be located within a utility easement area.
One of our newer members, Emma Banks of Fayetteville, is a direct descendent of Littleton and Catherine Graham. She is working with LaNita McKinney to create a history of the family to place in the Blair Library Families’ section.
My Ancestor is Buried Where?
A person may choose any number of places for their burial and for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common explanations are listed below.
• Place of Birth — Some people want to return to their hometown for burial.
• Burial with a Predeceased Spouse — Couples usually want to be buried beside one another, but if a surviving spouse remarries, he or she may decide to be buried with the new spouse.
• Burial with In-Laws — In order to be buried with one’s spouse, a person might be in the spouse’s parents’ or family cemetery lot.
• Burial with Children — It is not unusual for older, widowed or divorced parents to relocate to live with a child. The parent may then be interred in the child’s family group cemetery lot.
• Burial in a Lot with Other Relatives — A person may have had a special relationship with or affection for certain family members other than his or her parents, spouse, or children and may be interred with them.
• Burial by an Employer — In past centuries, it was not unusual for a town to be built up around an industry or an employer. Company houses, a company store, and a company cemetery were components of the community.
• Burial in a Mass Grave — Epidemics, accidents, natural disasters, wars, and genocide are among the reasons why an individual may have been interred in a mass grave.
• War Casualty Burials — Deaths on the field of battle during military conflicts result in burials nearby. Soldiers killed in Europe, Asia, and other military theaters of operation during the World Wars may have been interred in military cemeteries in those countries.
• Church and Parish Burials — Some people are buried in a churchyard or in a parish churchyard (not necessarily the one adjacent to a church) because of their religious affiliation, the presence of other family members, or other reasons. People may also have been interred inside the church and/or in its crypt.
• Workhouse, Poorhouse, and Pauper Burials– The poor and indigent in a community often had no choice of the disposition of their remains after death. Burial grounds, sometimes referred to as “potters fields,” were commonly used. The interments were seldom recorded, and the graves were usually not marked.
• Prison Burials — Prison and jail inmates may have been interred in the facility’s burial grounds.
There are any number of reasons for choosing where to be buried, and sometimes, someone else makes the decision. However, the next time you go cemetery roaming, perhaps some of these ideas will cross your mind and cause you to consider the reasons why people are — or are not — buried in a particular place. (Excepted with edits from an article by George G. Morgan, Ancestry Weekly News, copyright 2006)
Indexes = Frustration
We have become very dependent on a popular short cut when doing research, whether on-line or otherwise. That short cut is called an index. Very early on, I tackled a search for my paternal grandfather in, of all things, the 1900 Census for Dallas County, Texas. I called the Fayetteville Library and asked if they had the 1900 Federal Census. To my great astonishment the librarian, replied “yes… but” she continued, “it is not indexed.” “Ok! No problem,” I thought. You can imagine my dismay when I was confronted with over 3 rolls of microfilm that appeared to be in no recognizable order. Talk about a needle in a haystack. After several days of viewing the images, I had found my maternal family, the county poor farm, Buckner’s Orphan Home, the county jail, SMU, and the movers and shakers on Swiss Ave, but, alas, no paternal grandfather with his parents. (The reason being that they were in Rabun County, Georgia in 1900 – not Dallas County, Texas, but that’s not the point.) After I examined every image, I thought that I would never, ever tackle a census again without an index!
Most researchers consider indexes the perfect example of a double-edged sword. A dependence on this convenience can leave you frustrated and at a loss because the family you are seeking just absolutely does not seem to exist. In reality, they probably are included in the census or record you are searching, but they are not in the index. Indexes, for the most part, have been hand created by someone actually transcribing and alphabetizing the data in the record. That leaves a lot of room for error. Names get overlooked and misspelled, and pages get out of order.
Even the soundex, which is used to simplify the censuses, can be way off, especially the electronic soundex. In case you don’t know how soundex works, it is an ingenious way to code all names to remove the problem of misspelling of the names. Soundex codes provide a means of identifying words – especially names–by the way they sound. It was invented by Robert Russell in 1918. In the days when nearly all of the data for the census was collected by actual enumerators and individuals who walked from door to door, it was discovered that many of these people spelled surnames phonetically. Thus, one might spell Smith as “Smith” while another might spell it as “Smyth” and still another “Smythe.” The census records were indexed by the sound of each name rather than by its spelling, and soundex was the code system used to organize the index.
Every soundex code consists of a letter and three numbers, such as W-640 which is the soundex code for my maiden name, Worley. The letter is always the first letter of the surname, and the hyphen is optional. The numbers are assigned to the remaining letters of the surname according to the soundex code. If necessary, zeroes are added at the end to produce a four-character code. Additional letters are disregarded.
Each number represents letters:
1 = B, F, P and V
2 = C, G, J, K, Q, S, X and Z
3 = D and T
4 = L
5 = M and N
6 = R
Disregard the letters A, E, I, O, U, H, W, and Y.
It sounds easy, but believe me, even the indexers don’t always get it right. If a surname has a prefix, such as Van, Con, De, Di, La, or Le, the code should ignore these prefixes. However, coders sometimes miss this rule and assign the Soundex code either with or without the prefix. It is interesting, however, that Mc and Mac are not considered prefixes according to the National Archives and Records Administration. Any double letters in a name are treated as one letter. Different side-by-side letters that have the same number in the soundex coding guide are also treated as one letter. (Huh?)
One of the most common errors with indexes is misspelling. Some misspelling, even the soundex code can’t overcome. If the first letter is misread, the W becomes an M or the L an S, then the index will be wrong! Today, I always have to spell my last name “T as in Tom…” or, so help me, my cleaning or my account will invariably be listed under Packett!
So, don’t stop when you have searched the indexes forever, and there seems to be no record of your elusive family. Just leave the indexes and search the record line by line. Indexes are short cuts and are usually helpful, but remember – you should always be prepared to take the next step. Go beyond the index.
The little community of Cane Hill lies to the south and west of Fayetteville, almost to the Oklahoma line. Arkansas Highway 45 from Lincoln winds slowly through the rolling hills and leads you into the small town. The town was founded in 1828 when James Buchanan built a log cabin on a fertile rise.
In 1827, the central Arkansas community of Crystal Hill was already settled on the Arkansas River in what was then Pulaski County. It was at this time that the Federal Government began its plan to remove the Cherokee Indians from their land in Northwest Arkansas to Indian Territory in the west. Two young men from Crystal Hill, who heard about the land becoming available, organized a surveying trip to the area. By the following year, the Indians had been removed, and one of the two young surveyors, James Buchanan, returned to Washington County. He built his cabin in the southwestern part of the county where the switch cane grew densely among the sycamores and walnut trees of the area.
Soon, many of his old neighbors in Crystal Hill were attracted to the new area and began moving in by the dozens. In fact, so many families moved to the area that some claimed the village of Crystal Hill relocated itself to Cane Hill. The rich soil and abundance of natural springs helped the area become one of the state’s most agriculturally prosperous communities of the antebellum era. (Hill Folks by Brooks Blevins)
Our Programs Are Down Right Fun!
The program in October was given by program chairperson, Marcia Connors. It was on the origin of sayings – those common speech patterns and idioms that we all use. Most of the sayings originated centuries ago and had a distinct meaning to the people at the time. Many of the sayings came from gambling, wars and guns. Do you know the origin of “loose cannon,” “three sheets to the wind,” or “bed and board”? How about “flash in the pan,” or “so cold it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey?” Three of the sayings listed here come from the time of war ships under sail, one derives from gun handling, and one simply came from a term meaning table and thus food.
In November, Pody Gay, Education Coordinator at Shiloh Museum, shared the history of town names in Northwest Arkansas. Did you know that there is at least one town in one of the six counties of our little corner of the state that starts with each letter of the alphabet? There are towns with the names of Hog Eye and Hog Scald Holler. Then there’s Sam’s Throne, Soda Bluff and War Eagle. There is also Buttermilk Springs, Cow Faced Hill, Clifty and Clyde. There literally are towns or communities from A(ccident) to Z(inc)!
The program for the February meeting will be about Monte Ne, the resort that lies under Beaver Lake. It will be presented by Gaye Bland from the Rogers Historical Museum.
It Is In The Deed:
In 1881 three pioneer families deeded 6 original town lots to the town of Springdale for the public’s use, and a town square was created. The families of Asa Boydston, James B. Baggett and P. M. Ownbey stipulated in the deed of transfer that “if the property is used for any purpose other than public use” the title would revert back to the grantors or their heirs.
The square was first used as a park with a bandstand. While the donors probably envisioned stores and shops being built around the public square, the railroad made Emma Street, one block to the south, more attractive to businesses.
In 1927 a public library was built on the square financed, in large part, by the town’s women’s and civic clubs and churches. A new library was built in the 1960’s, and in 1976, another resident made its home in the old library building. Like its predecessors, it was also for the public use. In 1991 a new building replaced the 1927 structure. Today lots 2-7 of the original town still serve the public well as intended by those three pioneer families. Do you know what is there today? Come to the next meeting of WCAGS on Sunday, February 12 at 2:00pm at 118 E. Dickson, Fayetteville and find out. If you can’t make it, the answer will be in the next newsletter.
Happy hunting y’all!
Jeanne Tackett, Editor