Friday, April 27, 2012

My 2nd Great Grandfather Henry James Mosier

This post will be about old family tales. Growing up we were always told by my grandmother (as told to her by my grandfather Clyde Mosier who died in 1945) that our 2nd great grandfather Henry James Mosier was abandoned as a child by his father, James P. Moser. Henry and his brother Thomas Milburn Calvin Mosier added the i to Mosier when they grew up, and they told their families that their father had died.

Henry James Mosier

Another part of the tale is that James P. Moser asked his wife Margaret Belk Moser to leave with him to move to Georgia (or sometimes it was California) and she refused so he left with the neighbor's wife on a horse and buggy and never saw his family again. Along with this we heard he had a brother that was hanged for stealing horses.

From my research I have learned that James did indeed leave with the neighbor's wife. But the neighbor's wife was his brother's wife, his sister-in-law Mary. And seeing as his brother William disappears after the 1860 census, and has no Civil War records, I think William was the hanged horse thief. Because you see, not only James left for Georgia with Mary and her children, his father (I believe the mother died around this time) and all his siblings also left, all resettling in the upstate SC/GA area, never to be heard from again. I think the family high-tailed it out of Lancaster County, SC, because they were mortified by the hanging. And I think Margaret chose to stay because she had health issues, and didn't want to leave her extended Belk family.  Margaret died a few years later and the three children were raised by different relatives. James and Mary had several children together and lived a long life after eventually settling in Athens, GA.

From all accounts my 2nd great grandfather Henry Mosier was a good man. I recently found his death notice at one of my favorite links,  Chronicling America, listed on my homepage.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2nd Great Uncle Cebrun "CC" Belk

Cebrun "CC" was the brother of my 2nd great grandfather Doctor Franklin Belk. I will say now that Doctor was his given name, not his occupation. He was a carpenter who built his own casket, and he went by Frank. Frank was married to Sarah Roxanna Richardson in 1880.

Frank Belk

Frank and CC were two of four sons born to George Washington Lafayette Belk and Tressie Doster Belk. "Fate" was killed in the Civil War and Tressie remarried Fisher Helms.

From all accounts, the four boys were a handful. My great grandfather used to say his daddy and the brothers were a wild bunch. Last year, my new cousin Harold, who is descended from the Dosters, found these newspaper articles in the archives. 

CC was also arrested for "crop removal" but was acquitted. CC, his son Sidney and the family moved across the state line to Charlotte, NC, and stayed there until their deaths.

Last year I found out that Sidney had a 90 year old son still living in Charlotte and went to visit him. He was a delight to talk with. He had no idea of the trouble his father and grandfather had gotten in to but was "tickled pink" by the story. He told me they weren't mean; they were tough and didn't let anyone get over on them.

Frank (brother of CC) and Sarah Roxanna Richardson Belk

How I got started and what this is all about

In the mid 1990s when I started researching my family history I never dreamed I would one day be able to do most of it from home. But now, thanks to sites like, find-a-grave, USGenWeb and others, I am finding history I never dreamed of. You will find some things you aren't too proud of but it is your history and you have to embrace it.

My interest started in the graveyard. I have always been interested in cemeteries and remember roaming around them as a young child. I had an aunt that actually lived behind the cemetery where most of my maternal ancestors are buried. I played there as a child, never knowing that my 3rd great grandparents were buried there. I also remember as a teenager finding an old family cemetery in the woods not far from my home in Sumter, SC. It was covered in weeds and vines, the gravestones covered in lichen. Last year I went back to find it and someone had cleaned it up and put an iron fence around it. Nice!

Several family mysteries have been discovered along the way and I plan to share them all here, hoping that someone, somewhere, will have the answer. I have also met several distant cousins and found out things I never knew. Big family secrets. Ancestors gone astray. A couple murders. They say well behaved people never make history, and I will have to agree with that. 

Many thanks to family members who have helped me along the way. My Aunt Barbara Mosier wrote a wonderful book about my 2nd great grandfather Henry James Mosier, which I treasure. My cousin Jim Mosier, who I met online, has provided me with a ton of information on his great grandfather Thomas Milburn Calvin Mosier, who was the brother of Henry James. Last year I found out my great grandmother had a cousin that was still alive at 106. I went to visit her and she was able to give me first hand knowledge about my 3rd great grandfather, who died six years before she was born! I also found out the grandson of one of my notorious trouble making great uncles was alive at 89 and went to visit him. He had no idea about the trouble his father and grandfather had gotten into and was "tickled pink" to find out. And my new distant maternal cousin Harold Davis in Tennessee has been a great help in finding old obituaries and newspaper articles.

My maternal and paternal sides will be covered here. On my maternal side the surnames are : Belk, Abernathy, Collett, and Correll. On my paternal side the surnames are: Mosier/Moser, Dees/Deese, Maples, Whitaker, Sistare and Small. My paternal step-grandfather was a Rorie and seeing as he was the only paternal grandfather I ever knew I claim him!

On a closing note I will tell you I have found more than one link between my parents, Anne Elizabeth Abernathy Mosier from Rowan County, NC and John Edward Mosier from Chesterfield County, SC. I sure wish Dad was around to hear he and Mom share the same 4th great grandfather.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My visit with cousin Josie, age 105

Last year I found out that a first cousin of my maternal great grandmother was still alive at the age of 105 and called her daughter to arrange a visit. Josie is legally blind and cannot hear very well but she is still living independently in her house in Rowan County, NC. She was very curious as to why I was so interested in hearing about her life but was very eager to tell me her memories of our family. I had hoped she could help me identify people in some old family photos from a reunion the the 1920's but she couldn't see well enough. She showed me her old photo album and because the photos hadn't been labeled she could no longer tell me who they were. Label your photos! She told me she owes her longevity to a good, clean life. "I never smoke or drank, and I never went to those dancing parties on the side of the road."

Her memories of her granddad (my 3rd great grandfather Jacob Correll):
Granddad owned 30 slaves and had five houses for them on his property. The females never had to work outside the house. The slaves loved Granddad but said Grandmother was strict. We were told she was part Indian (not documented). When they were freed they wanted to stay there and Granddad told them they could keep living in their houses but they had to find employment elsewhere. I worked with some of the descendants of these slaves in the cotton mill and they would come up and tell me they always heard how good my granddad was to their grandparents. Granddad had a mill on his property and he also built and sold furniture. He built the pews for Mt. Zion Church but it burned a long time ago. I always heard he gave them the land to build the church on. Granddad was a very prominent and influential citizen and he had paid employees working for him.

Josie then told me that the old house is haunted by a cousin named "Pinkston" that her grandparents took in because she had mental problems and no one wanted her. She said Pinkston is the only person buried on the property and they used to hear her dragging things down the stairs at night. Interestingly, there is an M.L. (Mary) Pinkston buried on the family plot at the cemetery right next to my grandparents. So much for that ghost story!

Josie doesn't remember ever meeting my great or 2nd great (her aunt) grandmothers but was able to tell me some things about a few other people in the family.

3rd Great Grandmother Harriett Groner Correll

3rd Great Grandfather Jacob Correll

Jacob Correll Memorial at Green Lawn Cemetery, China Grove, NC

Mary Pinkston (the ghost)

2nd Great Grandfather Allen J. Collett

Pictured above is my maternal 2nd Great Grandmother Cornelia Enphrazine Correll, who married Allen J. Collett on November 1, 1875.  We know a lot about Cornelia's family but little about the Collett family. Several years ago I got in touch with Loyd Collett, who wrote a book about the Collett family, but he knew little of my line. What we do know is what my Great Grandmother Annie Collett Belk told us, as well as the few records I have found on the family.

Allen J. Collett was born to Ezekiel Offerd Collett and Catharine Black in Davie County, NC, on November 15, 1852. I have found records that Ezekiel and Catharine were married on December 18, 1835 in Davie County, but have found no information on the Black family.

In approximately 1864, Allen "Ally Jay" Collett was working in the fields in Davie County. His father was possibly at war but I can not find a record. (Ezekiel was a commonly used name in the family and there is a nephew Ezekiel with Civil War records.) Allen's mother was at a neighbor's house and he was the only one home. A man stopped on the road in a 'fine' horse and buggy and asked Allen if he'd like to go for a ride. Introducing himself as a minister, Allen readily agreed to go for a ride. The man took him to his home in Litaker Township, Rowan County, NC (about an hour drive today) where Allen lived until he married, never seeing or hearing from his family again.

From all accounts, Allen had a happy marriage, raising seven children (eighth died as a infant), including my beloved Great Grandmother Annie Collett Belk.
My grandmother said he always spoke fondly of his family and never understood what happened. As far as we know Allen was treated well by his 'adoptive' family, though he always said he was 'stolen from the fields'.

After I joined and started researching the census I found Allen in 1870 living with the Allen Hooker Family in Litaker Township. Allen Hooker, a farmer and miller, is apparently the child thief. Allen J. Collett is enumerated on the census as Collett Alla Jay Bostran. One thing that verified that it was my grandfather was that my grandmother was one of his neighbors. I am guessing Bostran is actually Bostian, Mrs. Hooker's maiden name, and they were passing him off as a nephew. 

Allen was loved. His mother disappeared after the 1870 census. He had two siblings that married siblings and they moved to Virginia along with Allen's father Ezekiel. His sister Charity named her first son after Allen and even called him Ally Jay. I have been unable to find any death information or graves for my 2nd great grandfather's family.