Busy Week = Light Blogging

View digital images of Texas Birth and Death Certificates Online.

I can’t remember when I’ve had such a light blogging week without being out of town. Being ill on and off the past couple of weeks has prompted me to get to bed as early as possible this week, for my health’s sake. It’s also just been plain busy around here: Monday evening was my third of four weekly Online Genealogy classes I’m teaching; Thursday, I spoke to the Kootenai County Genealogical Society in North Idaho (what a great group they are!). Later this morning, I will be attending a computer class on Online Land Records for members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. Tomorrow afternoon, a team of four members of EWGS (including myself) will be participating in the “Spokane is Spelling” spelling bee to raise money for the Spokane Public Library Foundation, and to give our society a little publicity. The wife/mom/homemaker side of me has been busy caring for other members of the family who’ve been ill, making sure teens get caught up on schoolwork after being absent, and trying to catch up on housework and paperwork that have naturally piled up from neglect.

Even though I didn’t do any posting of my own, I did keep current this week by reading all my favorite blogs and commenting here and there. For those few of my readers who do not read other genealogy blogs, I want to recap some recent highlights:

  • *Georgia’s death index from 1919 – 1927 is now available online with links to digital images of original death certificates. Details are here.
  • *The parent company that owns Ancestry.com, The Generations Network, has been acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors. Details are here, and a current list of commentary and interviews of CEO Tim Sullivan are here.
  • *“Halloween and the Supernatural” was the theme of the 34th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which was hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. Click on the link to read your free online “magazine” of great genealogy-related “articles” written by 19 bloggers!
  • *Craig Manson, our resident genea-blogging law professor, has published a new series of law lessons entitled “Defamation and Privacy Issues in Genealogy” on his blog, GeneaBlogie. The first post is here. Craig’s last series on the law regarding genealogy was about whether Ancestry.com violated copyright law with its Internet Biographical Database (part one of that series is here).

Several bloggers have mentioned the beautiful autumn colors they’ve observed in their communities (see, we’re not always stationed in front of our computers!). We’ve had some lovely color here as well, but it’s not been as dramatic. This year, showers, gray skies, and a damp chill have replaced our normal Indian Summer season of warm, sunny afternoons and cold, crisp starry nights. I miss what I call my “October Blue” skies which usually provide a stunning contrast with the fall crimsons, rusts, and golds! Snow has been reported in the higher elevations and to the north. Our month-long “Seattle weather” is probably to blame for the recent rash of chills, sniffles, and bugs that’s been sweeping our community as of late.

Well, I’m off to practice for tomorrow’s spelling bee: abeyance: a…b…e…

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Busy Week = Light Blogging

View digital images of Texas Birth and Death Certificates Online.

I can’t remember when I’ve had such a light blogging week without being out of town. Being ill on and off the past couple of weeks has prompted me to get to bed as early as possible this week, for my health’s sake. It’s also just been plain busy around here: Monday evening was my third of four weekly Online Genealogy classes I’m teaching; Thursday, I spoke to the Kootenai County Genealogical Society in North Idaho (what a great group they are!). Later this morning, I will be attending a computer class on Online Land Records for members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. Tomorrow afternoon, a team of four members of EWGS (including myself) will be participating in the “Spokane is Spelling” spelling bee to raise money for the Spokane Public Library Foundation, and to give our society a little publicity. The wife/mom/homemaker side of me has been busy caring for other members of the family who’ve been ill, making sure teens get caught up on schoolwork after being absent, and trying to catch up on housework and paperwork that have naturally piled up from neglect.

Even though I didn’t do any posting of my own, I did keep current this week by reading all my favorite blogs and commenting here and there. For those few of my readers who do not read other genealogy blogs, I want to recap some recent highlights:

  • *Georgia’s death index from 1919 – 1927 is now available online with links to digital images of original death certificates. Details are here.
  • *The parent company that owns Ancestry.com, The Generations Network, has been acquired by Spectrum Equity Investors. Details are here, and a current list of commentary and interviews of CEO Tim Sullivan are here.
  • *“Halloween and the Supernatural” was the theme of the 34th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, which was hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. Click on the link to read your free online “magazine” of great genealogy-related “articles” written by 19 bloggers!
  • *Craig Manson, our resident genea-blogging law professor, has published a new series of law lessons entitled “Defamation and Privacy Issues in Genealogy” on his blog, GeneaBlogie. The first post is here. Craig’s last series on the law regarding genealogy was about whether Ancestry.com violated copyright law with its Internet Biographical Database (part one of that series is here).

Several bloggers have mentioned the beautiful autumn colors they’ve observed in their communities (see, we’re not always stationed in front of our computers!). We’ve had some lovely color here as well, but it’s not been as dramatic. This year, showers, gray skies, and a damp chill have replaced our normal Indian Summer season of warm, sunny afternoons and cold, crisp starry nights. I miss what I call my “October Blue” skies which usually provide a stunning contrast with the fall crimsons, rusts, and golds! Snow has been reported in the higher elevations and to the north. Our month-long “Seattle weather” is probably to blame for the recent rash of chills, sniffles, and bugs that’s been sweeping our community as of late.

Well, I’m off to practice for tomorrow’s spelling bee: abeyance: a…b…e…

Start Your Free Trial With Footnote.com.

The Legend of Joseph Josiah ROBBINS

See images of your Civil War ancestors’ Pension Index cards.

When I was growing up, one of the favorite things I loved to hear when I being tucked in bed by my father were the old family stories. Living in Southeast Alaska in the ’70s, no one had television, unless they lived in one of the cities like Ketchikan. So good books and other printed material, oral stories, and recorded music (once our little farm outside of town got electricity) were our main forms of entertainment. How grateful I am now for that childhood!

The one story I heard occasionally was of father-and-son ancestors, Joseph Josiah ROBBINS and Charles H. ROBBINS, who had both fought in the Civil War. Ol’ Charlie had had plenty of adventures and because my grandfather remembered him (Charlie was Grandpa’s great-grandfather) and attended Grand Army of the Republic reunions with him, those adventures which provided plenty of material for good family tales were quickly passed down the generations. Charlie himself helped proliferate the legend of his father.

Joseph Josiah ROBBINS had fought in the Civil War as an old man on the side of the Yankees, went the story. He had joined up because he already had military experience fighting in the Mexican War of 1848. While out West during in 1849, he had headed towards California to hunt for gold with the other Forty-Niners, but changed his mind and returned to his family in Pennsylvania. While in Union Army, he was captured by the Rebs and incarcerated in the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Conditions there were so terrible, that Joseph had gone blind from scurvy. In an interview by a reporter from a local paper not long before his death in early 1934, Charlie told of how his father had been a participant in a prisoner exchange, and thus had been returned to the Union Army. He had lived to be 99 years old.

Nine years ago this month, I sent off to the National Archives for a copy Joseph’s pension application. I believe I spent a total sum of $20.00 (those were the days!). I received 25 legal-sized photocopies of documents from his file, and what a treasure trove they were! First of all, they confirmed his service as a private in Company E, 58th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers from 26 September 1861 to 9 January 1865, with a little more than a year-long detachment with the 7th Massachusetts Battery. Joseph, although at age 41 would have been much older than most of the recruits, was certainly nowhere near being an old man! The records provided a first name and a death date and place of a wife we had never heard of, prior to his marriage of our ancestor. They also gave the date and place of marriage to my ancestor Marinda and confirmed that her maiden name also was ROBBINS (still working on how they possibly could have been related to each other!). There were all sorts of juicy tidbits including how difficult it had been for first his wife (who would have also been elderly during that time), and later his son and daughter-in-law, Ben Franklin and Helena (SWEET) SKINNER ROBBINS, to care for him in his elder years, blind and senile as he was. There were no nursing homes in those days, no respite care, no traveling nurses or Hospice services to assist the family.

The pension records confirmed that Joseph was indeed blind, and that it was related to his military service; but it lists in detail how that disability came to be. While Joseph was at Cliffburne Barracks in Washington, D.C. in early June 1864, he was hospitalized at Satterlee Hospital for fainting, bleeding from the nose, and chronic inflammation of both eyes. His biography in History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana counties, Michigan…, which as far as I can determine, corroborates with all sworn statements in his pension records, describes the cause as sunstroke. A week after he was discharged at Chapin’s Farm, Virigina, he sought out both a doctor and a lawyer in Philadelphia and applied for his first Invalid Army Pension, stating that he had “lost almost the entire sight of both eyes rendering him unfit to follow his occupation,” which was farming. The pension records give a clear picture of the difficulties that Joseph and his family members had because of his disability from the time he returned home from the war until his death in Newfield Township, Oceana County, Michigan on 27 July 1905. He was 84, not 99, as son Charlie claimed.

Nowhere in his pension records is there any mention of capture, imprisonment, or a prisoner exchange. There is also no evidence that he served in the War with Mexico; but then, it’s not likely that information would show up in these records. Their purpose was to determine that Joseph had become disabled through his military service during the Civil War, and that he deserved a pension, as did his widow Marinda, after his death. Attempts I’ve made to verify possible service during the War with Mexico have led nowhere. In the Civil War Prisions database maintained by the National Parks Service, I have not been able to find Joseph, even though I’ve used a variety of spellings, first and last name combinations, and initials.

I believe that Joseph’s story was confused in his son Charles’ elderly mind with other tales he may have heard from his GAR comrades, or perhaps with the tragic tale of his best friend and step-brother-in-law, Angelo CRAPSEY, whose experiences in the infamous Confederate Libby Prison caused him to go insane and later kill himself after the war’s end. So although the account of Andersonville made for a lively legend, the real story of Joseph’s service during the Civil War was a fascinating account, nonetheless!

(See a photo of Joseph’s grave here.)
—————————————
Bibliography:

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan … Chicago: H.R. Page & Co., 1882.

Michigan. Oceana County. County Clerk’s Office, Hart. Death Registers. Joseph J. Robbins entry.

Robbins, Bryan H., oral history. Various dates from c. 1970 through c. 1984, at Robbins homes in Alaska and Colville, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff,
Spokane, WA.

Robbins, Robert L., oral history. Summer 1989, at Midkiff home near Deep Creek, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by granddaughter Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA. Mr.
Robbins is now deceased.

Unknown. “Charles Robbins is One of First to Visit Hesperia.” Photocopy of typed transcribed undated clipping, c. 1931 – 1933, from unidentified newspaper, possibly in Newaygo County, Michigan. Owned 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA.

United States. National Archives, Washington D.C. Civil War Veteran’s Father’s Pension Application File of John Crapsey, application no. 284,159, certificate no. 380,350.

United States. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Civil War Veteran Pension Application File of Joseph J. Robbins, application no. 60,087, certificate no. 193,978. Includes documents from Civil War Veteran’s Widow’s Pension Application File of Marinda Robbins, application no. 833,911, certificate no. 623,194.

United States. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. Civil War Prisons database, Andersonville. Online <http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/prisoners.htm>. Viewed 1 September 2007.

View the Brady Civil War Photos collection.

The Legend of Joseph Josiah ROBBINS

See images of your Civil War ancestors’ Pension Index cards.

When I was growing up, one of the favorite things I loved to hear when I being tucked in bed by my father were the old family stories. Living in Southeast Alaska in the ’70s, no one had television, unless they lived in one of the cities like Ketchikan. So good books and other printed material, oral stories, and recorded music (once our little farm outside of town got electricity) were our main forms of entertainment. How grateful I am now for that childhood!

The one story I heard occasionally was of father-and-son ancestors, Joseph Josiah ROBBINS and Charles H. ROBBINS, who had both fought in the Civil War. Ol’ Charlie had had plenty of adventures and because my grandfather remembered him (Charlie was Grandpa’s great-grandfather) and attended Grand Army of the Republic reunions with him, those adventures which provided plenty of material for good family tales were quickly passed down the generations. Charlie himself helped proliferate the legend of his father.

Joseph Josiah ROBBINS had fought in the Civil War as an old man on the side of the Yankees, went the story. He had joined up because he already had military experience fighting in the Mexican War of 1848. While out West during in 1849, he had headed towards California to hunt for gold with the other Forty-Niners, but changed his mind and returned to his family in Pennsylvania. While in Union Army, he was captured by the Rebs and incarcerated in the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Conditions there were so terrible, that Joseph had gone blind from scurvy. In an interview by a reporter from a local paper not long before his death in early 1934, Charlie told of how his father had been a participant in a prisoner exchange, and thus had been returned to the Union Army. He had lived to be 99 years old.

Nine years ago this month, I sent off to the National Archives for a copy Joseph’s pension application. I believe I spent a total sum of $20.00 (those were the days!). I received 25 legal-sized photocopies of documents from his file, and what a treasure trove they were! First of all, they confirmed his service as a private in Company E, 58th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers from 26 September 1861 to 9 January 1865, with a little more than a year-long detachment with the 7th Massachusetts Battery. Joseph, although at age 41 would have been much older than most of the recruits, was certainly nowhere near being an old man! The records provided a first name and a death date and place of a wife we had never heard of, prior to his marriage of our ancestor. They also gave the date and place of marriage to my ancestor Marinda and confirmed that her maiden name also was ROBBINS (still working on how they possibly could have been related to each other!). There were all sorts of juicy tidbits including how difficult it had been for first his wife (who would have also been elderly during that time), and later his son and daughter-in-law, Ben Franklin and Helena (SWEET) SKINNER ROBBINS, to care for him in his elder years, blind and senile as he was. There were no nursing homes in those days, no respite care, no traveling nurses or Hospice services to assist the family.

The pension records confirmed that Joseph was indeed blind, and that it was related to his military service; but it lists in detail how that disability came to be. While Joseph was at Cliffburne Barracks in Washington, D.C. in early June 1864, he was hospitalized at Satterlee Hospital for fainting, bleeding from the nose, and chronic inflammation of both eyes. His biography in History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana counties, Michigan…, which as far as I can determine, corroborates with all sworn statements in his pension records, describes the cause as sunstroke. A week after he was discharged at Chapin’s Farm, Virigina, he sought out both a doctor and a lawyer in Philadelphia and applied for his first Invalid Army Pension, stating that he had “lost almost the entire sight of both eyes rendering him unfit to follow his occupation,” which was farming. The pension records give a clear picture of the difficulties that Joseph and his family members had because of his disability from the time he returned home from the war until his death in Newfield Township, Oceana County, Michigan on 27 July 1905. He was 84, not 99, as son Charlie claimed.

Nowhere in his pension records is there any mention of capture, imprisonment, or a prisoner exchange. There is also no evidence that he served in the War with Mexico; but then, it’s not likely that information would show up in these records. Their purpose was to determine that Joseph had become disabled through his military service during the Civil War, and that he deserved a pension, as did his widow Marinda, after his death. Attempts I’ve made to verify possible service during the War with Mexico have led nowhere. In the Civil War Prisions database maintained by the National Parks Service, I have not been able to find Joseph, even though I’ve used a variety of spellings, first and last name combinations, and initials.

I believe that Joseph’s story was confused in his son Charles’ elderly mind with other tales he may have heard from his GAR comrades, or perhaps with the tragic tale of his best friend and step-brother-in-law, Angelo CRAPSEY, whose experiences in the infamous Confederate Libby Prison caused him to go insane and later kill himself after the war’s end. So although the account of Andersonville made for a lively legend, the real story of Joseph’s service during the Civil War was a fascinating account, nonetheless!

(See a photo of Joseph’s grave here.)
—————————————
Bibliography:

History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana counties, Michigan … Chicago: H.R. Page & Co., 1882.

Michigan. Oceana County. County Clerk’s Office, Hart. Death Registers. Joseph J. Robbins entry.

Robbins, Bryan H., oral history. Various dates from c. 1970 through c. 1984, at Robbins homes in Alaska and Colville, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff,
Spokane, WA.

Robbins, Robert L., oral history. Summer 1989, at Midkiff home near Deep Creek, WA. Transcript held in 2007 by granddaughter Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA. Mr.
Robbins is now deceased.

Unknown. “Charles Robbins is One of First to Visit Hesperia.” Photocopy of typed transcribed undated clipping, c. 1931 – 1933, from unidentified newspaper, possibly in Newaygo County, Michigan. Owned 2007 by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, WA.

United States. National Archives, Washington D.C. Civil War Veteran’s Father’s Pension Application File of John Crapsey, application no. 284,159, certificate no. 380,350.

United States. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Civil War Veteran Pension Application File of Joseph J. Robbins, application no. 60,087, certificate no. 193,978. Includes documents from Civil War Veteran’s Widow’s Pension Application File of Marinda Robbins, application no. 833,911, certificate no. 623,194.

United States. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. Civil War Prisons database, Andersonville. Online <http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/prisoners.htm>. Viewed 1 September 2007.

View the Brady Civil War Photos collection.

More About Charles F. Wightman, Musician, of Co. C, 26th Illinois Infantry

Talk about your creative genes! I blogged about Charles F. Wightman–buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace–last week, and recently received an e-mail from Brad Hanner, who is researching the history of the 26th Illinois Infantry, having an ancestor that served in Company K. Apparently Charles was more than just a musician:

Seems like a rare tri-color lithograph after Charles’ sketch of the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia is selling for $850 at OldPrintGallery.com! The website has an incorrect middle initial for Charles, but a little research proved out that he was the only Charles Wightman to serve in that regiment, or the state of Illinois.

More About Charles F. Wightman, Musician, of Co. C, 26th Illinois Infantry

Talk about your creative genes! I blogged about Charles F. Wightman–buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace–last week, and recently received an e-mail from Brad Hanner, who is researching the history of the 26th Illinois Infantry, having an ancestor that served in Company K. Apparently Charles was more than just a musician:

Seems like a rare tri-color lithograph after Charles’ sketch of the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia is selling for $850 at OldPrintGallery.com! The website has an incorrect middle initial for Charles, but a little research proved out that he was the only Charles Wightman to serve in that regiment, or the state of Illinois.

Happy Birthday – March 8

Happy Birthday to:

Lillie (DAVENPORT) MIDKIFF, who was born on this day 130 years ago in Macon County, Georgia to Seaborn Ludwell DAVENPORT and Nancy JENNINGS. On 16 November 1894 in Arthur, Indian Territory, she married Thomas Oscar MIDKIFF, first cousin of my husband’s great-grandfather, John Franklin Midkiff, Sr. Lillie and “Oscar” had 12 children–all of whom survived well into adulthood–and their incredible lives as a hard-working ranch family in West Texas have been documented in Mary Lou Midkiff’s Midkiff: A Texas Family, Town and Way of Life. After reading this book, one can only shake one’s head at the determination, courage, heartbreak, and endurance that cattle ranching in the west requires, along with the faith and support of an equally-tough ranching wife. A treasure trove of discovered family letters narrates the struggles and triumphs of this woman, her husband, their children, ranch and community. Lillie outlived her husband, dying at the age of nearly 95 on 23 January 1972 in Midland, Midland Co., Texas. She was laid to rest next to her husband two days later at Fairview Cemetery, Midland.