Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society
It is the objective of the Washington County Arkansas Genealogical Society to collect and preserve genealogical and historical information with a focus on Washington County, Arkansas. We wish to encourage and provide training to those interested.
We champion ethical and accurate research and publication of genealogical and historical information.
Mark your calendars now for these upcoming meetings. All WCAGS
meetings are currently held at Headquarters House, 118 E. Dickson,
Fayetteville, AR and start promptly at 2:00PM. Dates of the 2008
WCAGS programs and meetings are listed below:
September 14-Readers out there! You won’t want to miss this
program!! We will be discussing genealogical mysteries and there
are a lot out there!!! We will also be giving away some of these books!
October 12- “Who’s the Black Sheep in your Family?” -" If you can not
get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.-George
November 9-“Ask the Experts”-Ask a panel of experts what you want
to know! Marcia Connors, Ann Sugg and Sue Thompson will be several
of our “experts.” Start submitting your research, local history and
linage questions now!
Mail…We Love Mail… I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip to Arkansas to attend the Sunset Decoration Day… LaNita "Tinker" McKinney and another of my third cousins once removed met each other for the first time other than on the internet and spent an entire day (9 am to 7 pm) "cemetery crawlin”…. We started in Fayetteville to Mountainburg, to Mulberry, to Ozark, to St Paul, Delaney, and Combs and back up to Fayetteville via thepig trail (which part of the road was washed out). In Combs, we stopped and searched for and found the old Van Brunt house that was built in 1905 per the current owner. I now have photos of it then and now. The old one has the Van Brunts standing out in front of it… I was also able to locate my grandfather’s youngest sister’s grave in Mountainburg…there were just too many cemeteries and not enough time…. but I ended up with dozens of photos of relatives graves and had a wonderful, wonderful time at the Decoration Day… we invited relatives back to the Sky Vue Lodge to get together out of the heat and we exchanged information and addresses. It was the perfect trip with the exception of it not being long enough. We fully intend to return for Decoration Day next year and plan to stay for at least 9 days. We are also looking for property near Winslow and hope to move there when we retire in three years. I’d be in hog heaven to be so near all the things I have been researching for so long. By the way is the "Johnson" giving the talk related to the Dorothy Johnson Doss that is my great- great grandmother? Karen Shapland
Mail…We Love Mail…
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the trip to Arkansas to attend the Sunset Decoration Day… LaNita "Tinker" McKinney and another of my third cousins once removed met each other for the first time other than on the internet and spent an entire day (9 am to 7 pm) "cemetery crawlin”…. We started in Fayetteville to Mountainburg, to Mulberry, to Ozark, to St Paul, Delaney, and Combs and back up to Fayetteville via thepig trail (which part of the road was washed out). In Combs, we stopped and searched for and found the old Van Brunt house that was built in 1905 per the current owner. I now have photos of it then and now. The old one has the Van Brunts standing out in front of it… I was also able to locate my grandfather’s youngest sister’s grave in Mountainburg…there were just too many cemeteries and not enough time…. but I ended up with dozens of photos of relatives graves and had a wonderful, wonderful time at the Decoration Day… we invited relatives back to the Sky Vue Lodge to get together out of the heat and we exchanged information and addresses. It was the perfect trip with the exception of it not being long enough. We fully intend to return for Decoration Day next year and plan to stay for at least 9 days. We are also looking for property near Winslow and hope to move there when we retire in three years. I’d be in hog heaven to be so near all the things I have been researching for so long. By the way is the "Johnson" giving the talk related to the Dorothy Johnson Doss that is my great- great grandmother? Karen Shapland
Sunset Decoration 2008
I met another cousin over the internet December 2007, and actually it was through the WCAGS website! A request for information came through regarding the Osburn family and of course, it was directed to me and Jeanne Tackett since we are related through that family.
As is turns out, Karen Shapland and I are 3rd cousins once removed with Edmund Osburn as our common ancestor. Karen’s line moved out to California at a point in time and that is where she currently lives. She and her husband, parents, aunt & uncle, all came from California to Sunset Decoration this past July and met old and new family. Her parents, aunt and uncle even met with old friends from their youth in the Sunset Community.
Karen and I corresponded until she arrived and I met her Aunt Geneva Doss that still lives in Sunset, at the age of 94. The following day Karen picked me up and we drove to Mountainburg to pick up another cousin she had met over the internet, two years previously. The three of us, Karen, Tammy and I, having known each other personally for all of two minutes, hopped in a van and went cemetery hopping for the next 10 hours! It was an amazing adventure and one we look forward to doing again.
We met at the actual Decoration event on Sunday and visited with all the people in attendance and it was amazing to watch the seniors of the group visiting with the friends from their youth. (I even saw one of the Osburn cousins I met earlier over the internet, with her father, and we introduced them to the new Osburn family!) Karen says she left her heart here in Arkansas when she went back to California and she and her husband even looked at property and is seriously thinking about moving here when they retire in a few short years.
Researching genealogy has led me to new family over the years and with these recent introductions to new family, I can now say that I am related to about half of Washington County, again!
By LaNita McKinney
Many of us have attended a “decoration” this summer so this is for those that have and for those that haven’t………….
Southern Tradition Brings Vibrant Color to Graves
Living Seek Out Flowers to Remember Dead During Decoration
By Pamela Hill, Special to The Morning News
The floral designers at Trees ‘N Trends in Fayetteville worked Memorial Day weekend and stayed late. The front wall that runs nearly the width of the store – a former Wal-Mart – was filled with silk floral arrangements. Then filled again and again. This is a busy time of year not only for Trees ‘N Trends, but for many places that sell flowers – both silk and the real thing. It’s when the living buys for the dead.
May and June are the most frequent time for the uniquely Southern tradition of Decoration, in which people decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers. It’s easy to tell which cemeteries have had their scheduled Decoration. The graves are alive with vibrant color.
From mid-spring to late summer, families across the South travel back to the often rural communities where they were reared or where their parents’ parents lived, and died.
Decoration is not Memorial Day, although many in other parts of the country confuse it as such. Decoration begat Memorial Day, according to most sources, and both shared the goal of honoring the Civil War dead. And some scholars believe the actual decoration of graves in the South may have gone on decades before that. Whenever it began, it’s a tradition that many still hold today as an important event, as evidenced by their purchases. Christina Rogers, part of the management team at Trees ‘N Trends, said sales for Decoration days have been brisk each of the five years she’s worked at the store.
"I worked during the Memorial Day weekend," Rogers said. "We had to fill the (front) wall three times. It usually takes about two weeks for the wall to sell. Decorators were continually making saddle after saddle after saddle." A "saddle" is a floral arrangement that fits across a headstone. "We had overstock on our (floral) stems. We sold down so much the overstock sold out," Rogers said. "Thirty percent of our sales that weekend were for those (grave decoration) sales." Saddles are probably the most popular item, but cones, baskets, wreaths and stems all sell well, she said.
Wal-Mart Supercenter on Sixth Street in Fayetteville gets Decoration items out in early April, and people start buying them the same month, according to Joanie Pace, department manager for crafts and celebrations. "They’re a big sale item. We do real good," Pace said.
Pace moved to Northwest Arkansas a year ago from the Fort Worth area. And while she’s certainly familiar with the Decoration tradition – Texas does it, too – she said it’s seems to be bigger here. "Maybe it’s because there are more small communities," Pace said. "It just seems like there’s more that goes on here. Sales are bigger here."
Wendy Osborn, assistant manager of Dollar General in Farmington, said the store definitely stocks more artificial flowers for Memorial Day and Decoration season. Popular arrangements include sprays and wreaths with "Father," "Mother," "Sister" and "Brother" sashes across them. "We sell abundance" of Decoration items, Osborn said. "We have people from other stores calling to see if some stores have more of what someone is looking for." Customers often discuss their purchases with employees. "The majority of them let us know it’s to be used for a loved one at the grave. We do a lot of talking with our customers," Osborn said.
Pace said many customers like to make their own arrangements. Roses, carnations and daisies are always popular in the various forms: sprays, wreaths, headstone saddles or stems. "Customers will come in and ask me for a specific flower because that’s what their mother, father, grandmother, grandfather liked. We try to help, try to accommodate them," Pace said.
"It all depends on the deceased, something to fit them," said Teresa Thompson, owner of Huntsville Floral & Gifts. "This is the one time of year where silks outsell the fresh flowers," said Lora Eaton. Eaton co-owns Ladybug Floral & Finds in Elkins with her mother, Joyce Bell.
Decorations around Elkins and eastern Washington County start in mid-May and continue throughout the summer, with some cemeteries scheduled for Decoration in August. The busiest time is now. Eaton said three cemeteries in the area have had Decoration in the last two weeks.
People put a lot of thought into their Decoration floral, Eaton said. "A lot of what people get from us is special orders. A lot of them keep up with what colors they used last year and want to do something different." Where people get their Decoration floral depends on one’s financial means, location and the economy itself. Rhonda Sade, a floral designer at Northwest Arkansas Florist, said the stores saw a slight decline this year in fresh floral arrangements for Decoration but have gotten more requests than usual for silk arrangements. People may view silks as a better bargain in the current economy because they last longer, Sade said. Northwest Arkansas Florist has stores in Bentonville and Fayetteville. Sade said several customers decorate their loved ones’ graves more often than once a year. Many order arrangements every three months. Some order floral for anniversaries or birthdays, she said. Some area businesses consider Decoration season an important revenue event. "Decoration days we count on," said Thompson. Sade said Decoration begins as other business tends to drop off. "It’s at a time when the floral business is kind of in a lull. When we start getting those (Decoration) orders, it helps keep you on track," Sade said.
But not everyone sees enthusiastic sales of Decoration floral. "It used to be (a good sales event)," said Bob Yehling, director of general merchandise for Harps Food Stores, based in Springdale. He said he’s seen a decline in the popularity of Decoration floral during his 30 years in the business. "At one time it was a pretty good (sales) event. In rural stores, it’s still a good event," Yehling said. He attributes the decline to floral restrictions issued by many cemeteries – some don’t allow any ground decorations – and the mobility of today’s society. "People move away. Families are not as close as they once were," he said. "It’s still a good (sales) category," Yehling said of the floral. "But it hasn’t grown. Other areas are growing." Decoration "still is" a big deal around Huntsville, Thompson said. "I don’t know how it will be in the future when today’s younger generations get older," referring to an increasing trend among younger adults to make contributions in honor of loved ones who die rather than send flowers. Most Madison County cemeteries set Decoration in mid-May through mid-June, Thompson said.
Editor’s note: Don’t forget potluck lunch at the cemetery…
Grandpa Wore What?
Grandpa wore what? , the WCAGS program for July offered a light hearted study in yesteryear’s fashion. With handouts such as “The Male Silhouette 17th Century to the 20th Century” and descriptions of form changing undergarments for men as well as women, Jeanne offered insight into our ancestor’s dress options. In addition, she listed some book references for further research. The high point of the program was Jeanne’s modeling of a woman’s corset which she made herself for her period costumes. From a genealogical standpoint, fashion can be used to date photographs and at times aid in identifying individuals.
Thank you, Carol Reel for this review!!
Dad, What Did You Do in the War? Mom?
By Jeanne Tackett
Researching military records is sometimes a very difficult task. If you are researching the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, you will probably have some luck with pension and military records found at the National Archives. But, what if you are trying to find a Soldier in WWII or from Korea? Those records are more difficult to find or to get a copy when you do find them. There are all sorts of stumbling blocks, not the least of which are privacy acts. Just knowing where to look gives you a starting place. Since Military records are scattered in several different archival locations the “where” is vital to begin your search.
Guest speaker, Jim Johnson, gave WCAGS members a big “hands up” with his informative and entertaining program on August 10, 2008. In addition to the records found in the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) located in Washington DC, records for military service in World War II or later can be found at the Personnel Records Center in St Louis. Other records centers found in Washington DC are The US Army Center for Military History, The Naval History Center, and the US Coast Guard Historians Office. The US Marine Corps History Division at Quantico VA and the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB AL have records on Marines and Air Force servicemen.
Military records provide a plethora of information including physical descriptions, parent’s names, next of kin, last assignments, place of discharge, units, theaters of service, training schools, medical records, etc. But once you find the location of the record, you may not be able to get copies. Privacy laws are still applicable to many service records. For World War II and later some records can only be released to members of the immediate family (spouse, parents, children and siblings.) So even though you know your great uncle Elmo was part of the liberation of Paris, you may not be able to get his record.
Military information can be found in many places; old photos, family letters, newsletters from veterans associations, even the local newspapers. Check out your local newspaper archives for information. It was a common practice to run publicity articles on local service men during war times. Old uniforms also give a lot of clues as to where your ancestor may have served. Sleeve badges denote battalions and units. Military history archives contain information on where those battalions and units served. A photo of a plane with the crew in front of it may reveal the aircraft number which can lead to records of missions flown, naming the base of operations and targets. All of this information is available!
As members of WCAGS, you have an additional source! We now know how to find a certain Mr. Jim Johnson, USMCR, who knows “people” and who knows where those elusive records may be hiding!
Jim Johnson enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school, serving in Korea. During his lengthy military career he served as the Officer in Charge of the east coast Marine Corps, Instructor Training School at Camp Lejeune NC. He was the senior Marine on the White House Department of Defense POW/MIA Task Force, which planned and executed Operation Homecoming, the 1973 return of all US prisoners of war from Hanoi, Laos and South Viet-Nam. He was an assistant to Dr. Henry Kissinger and was the senior Marine Corps representative on the US Navy Medical Neuropsychiatric Research team. Jim retired from the Marine Corps 1977 and began his second career in Institutional Advancement and Development. He is active in The SAR, St Paul’s Episcopal Church and Rotary International. He currently resides in Springdale.
Those of you, who were unable to attend to hear Jim Johnson, truly missed a great program! Semper Fi, Jim.
Editors note-found this, thought it might help someone out…
Early Naming Conventions
Anyone who has spent much time at all looking at Colonial names has noticed how they appear and re-appear in family and related lines. Naming conventions now forgotten had been observed for decades? centuries, maybe. When I visited the Eastern Shore in 1996, Dr. Bill and I visited with Nora Turman one afternoon. Since I was fairly new to Eastern Shore history, and was (still am) clearly delighted by the names and their recurrences, Mrs. Turman recited the naming convention for me.
Early Naming Conventions
Child: – - Named for:
1st son: – - father’s father
2nd son: – - mother’s father
3rd son: – - father
4th son: – - father’s oldest brother
5th son: – - father’s 2nd oldest brother or mother’s oldest brother
1st daughter: – - mother’s mother
2nd daughter: – - father’s mother
3rd daughter: – - mother
4th daughter: – - mother’s oldest sister
5th daughter; – - mother’s 2nd oldest sister or father’s oldest sister
On this day in History Northwest Arkansas Times, September 4, 1955-
This year’s Razorback football team suffered the first major casualty this morning in a scrimmage session, when Frank Shumchyk, one of the backs Coach Glen Rose was counting on as a starter this fall, suffered a broken collar bone, Schumacyk, a bridegroom, is from New York.
Our November meeting is going to be an “Ask the Experts” but questions are needed to make this a success. So far, our experts include Marcia Connors, research expert; Ann Sugg, local history expert; Sue Thompson, lineage expert; and Carolyn Reno, Preservation expert. If you can think of any questions for these ladies, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org