Category Archives: Sweeney

Tombstone Tuesday – A Boy Named Esther

William Sweeney

Eighty-five years ago today, my third cousin four times removed, William Sweeney, died. Thank goodness for genealogy databases which make it easy to look up that sort of thing.

According to his tombstone, William was born 27 January 1891 in Kentucky, the eldest son of Doctor Franklin Sweeney (his actual name, not a title) and his much younger wife Lucy Ann Watson.  Lucy’s name is also a mysterious – she appears variously in records as Lucy Ann, Lousanna, and Louisiana. Doctor Sweeney (or Doc) had been married previously; he and Sarah Margaret Allen had twelve children before Sarah’s death at 46. He then married Lucy some two years later.

In 1900 the family was enumerated in Casey Creek, Casey County, Kentucky. Doctor F. Sweeney is listed as a farmer born in October 1835, and Louisiana as his wife born in March 1868. They had been married for 9 years, which means at their wedding Doctor Sweeney was 55 and his bride 23.  Here William E. is listed as being born in January 1893, with three younger siblings:  Mary E., born March 1895; Fanny Lee, born June 1896, and Mardie B., born November 1899.

Doc Sweeney died in April 1902. About a year later Lucy married George W. Foster. By the 1910 census George and Lucy, still in Casey (or Casey’s) Creek, appear with three of their own children (Albert T., age 6; Elbert, age 2; and Lily, age 1 8/12), as well as Lucy’s four stepchildren. Here William appears as “Esther” Sweeney, age 18.  Most of the family is still together in 1920; only Mary Sweeney is no longer in the household.  In addition, George and Lucy have been joined by daughter Leonda Foster, age 7.

William would not live to be enumerated in the next census, dying in June 1929. He is buried in Brush Creek Cemetery, Casey County, Kentucky. His death certificate is singularly unhelpful. Stamped “Delayed,” it lists yet a third birthdate, 1 June 1889, and under “Cause of Death,” is stamped “Queried No Reply.” Yet another mystery to investigate…

Advertisements

Tombstone Tuesday – More Sweeneys with Fun Names

Jordan SweeneyPermelia Pigg

Jordan Sweeney, first cousin six times removed, was born 16 November 1806 in Casey County, Kentucky.  The grandson of Moses Sweeney, his parents were Charles Welby Sweeney and Frances Shackleford. His wife, whom he married 20 September 1829 in Casey County, had one of the best names ever:  Permelia Pigg.  Permelia was born about 1810, also in Casey County.

The Baby Name Wizard site indicates that Permelia was the name originally chosen for Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, but that it has never ranked in the top 1000 baby names.  Shocking.

Jordan and Permelia had five children, all given much more normal names than their mother: Mary A., Charles Willis, Frances, Elizabeth Ellen, and Amanda H. Jordan died 2 August 1845, and Permelia about 1845.  Both are buried in the Sweeney/Drake Family Cemetery in Casey County.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sympathy Saturday – Childbed Fever…Or Not

Emily Jane Sweeney

It’s interesting how setting out to write a simple blog post can result in confusion and/or changes to the information I already  have on file. I searched my family tree data for “childbirth” for today’s post; after all, what could be more suitable for Sympathy Saturday than a death in childbirth? However, after latching on to Emily Jane Sweeney Fogle, my second cousin 5 times removed, it appears that though sympathy is called for – it cannot be targeted at death in childbirth.

Emily was born in 1821 in Liberty, Casey County, Kentucky, the daughter of Joel and Obedience (Edwards) Sweeney and great-granddaughter of Moses Sweeney. The second of eight children, she married William McDowell Fogle on 17 February 1841 in Casey County. Emily died, still in Liberty, Kentucky, on 14 October 1852. This much does match the information I already had on file from the Descendants of Moses Sweeney CD compiled by Harvey J. Sweeney. From there, though, a few facts begin to differ.

The Sweeney compilation indicates that Emily Jane was born 4 January 1821 and probably died in childbirth, and lists a total of six children of the couple, including an unnamed daughter who was born and died in Liberty in October 1852. The 1896 Kentucky Biographical Dictionary, as well as the image of Emily’s grave in Liberty’s Napier Cemetery from the Find-a-Grave website, however, however, indicates a birthdate of 4 June 1821. The story of the infant who died also appears to have come originally from the Kentucky Biographical Dictionary, which indicates Emily “was the mother of six children: Marietta, Isabelle, Sarah Frances, Jesse Edwin, William McDowell, and a daughter who died in infancy, a few days preceding the death of its mother.”

However, Ancestry.com has now digitized Kentucky Death Records from 1852-1953 (which incidentally also provided the catalyst for my investigation into the murder of Emily’s second cousin three times removed). Here we find Emily’s death listed, but the cause of death appears not as “childbed fever” (unlike two others on the same page) but as asthmaI thought perhaps somehow this was still a complication from childbirth, but the Kentucky Death Records don’t indicate any other Fogle child who was born around October 1852 and died then or later. So it seems possible the Biographical Dictionary, written some forty years later, may have provided erroneous information. Two other interesting points are revealed by the Kentucky Death Records source – Emily’s occupation (after much scrutiny) appears to be listed as “Innstress,” and the Clerk of Casey County, whose name appears on the death notices, was none other than Emily’s own father, Joel Sweeney.

Thriller Thursday – Death by Musket

musket

Any family history will have its share of tragedies. One of ours was that of Polly Waters, eldest child of Joseph and Celah (Sweeney) Waters, my 5G-grandparents. Polly was born 28 August 1799 in Lincoln County, Kentucky; thirteen or fourteen more children would follow later. I have limited information on William Waters, so it’s possible he may be the same individual as the youngest, Charles W., born 25 November 1825.

Sometime between 1803 and 1812 the family moved from Lincoln to Casey County; it was there my 4G-grandmother, Cassandra, was born in January 1814. She would never know her eldest sister, however. Sources for the date differ, but according to both the Waters GenCircles database and the research of Jay Sweeney, on either 26 September 1805 or 20 September 1808, young Polly was shot and killed when her mother attempted to start a fire using a musket, and the weapon misfired. Was this a common means of starting fires? My quick Google search didn’t help answer this question, so I’ll need to do further research. Regardless, one can only imagine Cassandra’s horror and grief as well as that of the rest of the family. Polly, aged either six or nine, was buried somewhere in Kentucky. Shortly after the birth of the last Waters child, the family moved to Morgan County, Illinois. There, in Pisgah, Joseph and Celah would eventually be buried, many miles from their first lost child.

IMG_2430

Those Places Thursday – Pisgah, Illinois

Image

There is nothing better than a genealogical pilgrimage. I try to squeeze in one (or several) any time I travel.  So what if it makes a trip hours (or days) longer than it would have been otherwise? Every summer we return to Fairbury, Illinois to visit relatives, and we usually manage to fit an extra side trip in there somewhere as well.  We made one such trip  four years ago to Pisgah, Illinois. Essentially a wide spot in the road and a grain elevator, Pisgah nevertheless was the location of genealogical events in the lives of 24 family members, including 21 burials. Union Baptist Church once stood near Pisgah and Highway 104. The church was torn down between 1971 and 1972, but the adjoining cemetery, founded in 1830, remains.

Among the 21 family members buried here are Joseph and Celah (Sweeney) Waters, my 5G-grandparents. According to the Find-a-Grave website, Joseph actually owned 80 acres adjacent to the cemetery, and descendants continue to live there.  Joseph, son of Isaac and Kitty (Hawker) Waters, was born January 4, 1773 in Montgomery County, Maryland. He married Celah Sweeney, daughter of Moses and Elizabeth (Johnson) Sweeney on November 27, 1798 in Stanford, Kentucky. Celah was born June 2, 1782 in Amherst County, Virginia. Joseph and Celah had some 15 children between 1799 and 1825, and both died in Morgan County, Illinois – Joseph on March 10, 1842, and Celah on September 18, 1845. Their daughter Cassandra (Waters) Murphy, my 4G-grandmother, is supposedly buried in this cemetery as well, though we did not succeed in finding her headstone on our pilgrimage. Maybe next time.

Tombstone Tuesday – Random Acts

ImageThere are many aspects of life in which one person’s actions can have an impact on strangers they will never meet.  Genealogy is no exception.  Moses Sweeney was my 6th-great-grandfather and the most distant relative whose grave I have seen in person. He was born in May 1734 in Antrim, (now Northern) Ireland. He migrated to America, apparently served in the Revolutionary War, and married Elizabeth Johnson about 1759 in Virginia. At some point he operated a mill on the Slate River in what is now Buckingham County, Virginia. In March 1787 Moses and his household moved from Virginia to Lincoln County, Kentucky. Moses died in the Hanging Fork Area of Lincoln County in June 1813.

This might have been the extent of my knowledge if it weren’t for two random acts. J. Harvey Sweeney, Jr., also a descendant of Moses Sweeney, painstakingly compiled the records of numerous other descendants into a 1224-page PDF file. After I purchased my own copy of the file on CD, I learned about the second random act. In 2003 Ben Johnson Sweeney of Liberty County, Kentucky, fulfilled the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout by working to restore Moses Sweeney’s gravesite. As part of this project, a new fence was built to surround the gravesite in the middle of  a field of tall Kentucky bluegrass.

In 2009, as part of our annual Illinois pilgrimage, my parents and I took a side trip to Liberty County. Following J. Harvey Sweeney’s description and maps, we found the road along which Moses’s house once stood and where he had been buried.  And Ben Johnson Sweeney’s white picket fence was unmistakable; without that, we would never have found the tombstone itself. To J. Harvey and Ben, I am grateful.

Image

The Murder of Blanche Hendricks

Usually genealogy research is pretty tame – people are born, get married, have kids, and die in peaceful old age. Every once in a while, though, you stumble across events in family history that are dramatic by anyone’s definition.  I was examining records for a fifth cousin twice removed, Blanche (Phillips) Hendricks, a descendant of our Sweeney line and a fifth cousin of Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery when I made one such discovery.  Blanche Phillips was born 26 October 1903 in Anderson County, Kentucky, the daughter of William Henry and Amer Belle (Carter) Phillips.  She appears with her parents in the 1910 census and now in the recently-released 1940 census.  I also noticed that Ancestry.com had a copy of her death certificate, so naturally I took a look.

I started reviewing the data on the death certificate – died Lexington, Kentucky (462 Angliana Avenue) on 23 November, 1950, aged 47.  She was a practical nurse by occupation.  Then I noticed the cause of death:  “Pistol shot wound in left temple immerging [sic] from right side and about 2″ above right ear. (Homicide).”

Blanche Phillips Hendricks

This was definitely something new!  I attempted to find more information online about the incident but wasn’t having any luck, so the next time we headed from Virginia to Illinois to visit family, we stopped in Lexington and headed to the library.  There it was easy to locate the newspaper records on microfilm as well as the story of what happened to poor Cousin Blanche.

It seems that Blanche, in spite of expecting her fiance to arrive in town the following day, had been seeing another man and was sitting in a car with him at 462 Angliana Street on Thanksgiving morning 1950.  The article didn’t elaborate, but one wonders if Blanche was attempting to prepare for her fiance’s arrival by breaking things off with the other man.  Whatever the cause, gunfire erupted and Blanche was killed.  She is now buried at Lexington’s Hillcrest Memorial Park beside her husband, William Elmer, who had died three years before her murder.

I’d like to find out more about what happened to the murderer.  Was he convicted?  What punishment did he receive?  And what happened to Blanche’s poor fiance when he arrived to find Blanche had been killed?  Maybe we’ll have to make another visit to the Lexington library….