Abbeville Alabama 1910

Abbeville Alabama 1910

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dollie's story - A widows Civil war pension

Jasper Thompson my great great grandfather born in Harper's Ferry West Virginia the year 1847.

Jasper's description at age 20 in 1864 his complexion was brown and he was about 5ft 3in just a young kid not even what we consider grown at least not for another year when he would turn 21 but his actions were brave and very responsible and adult like.  He volunteered for war, the "Civil war". 

On March 29th, 1864 Jasper became a private in Co "F" of the 23rd Regiment of the U.S.C.T. and before the war was over he would become Corporal then First Sergeant. 

According to reports from the pension file  "While in the line of duty marching from Brazos Island Texas to Brownsville Texas  a little under 25 miles and about 7-8 hrs
the fatigue of marching affected the nerves like rheumatism causing numbness and jerking with pains any attempt of exertion threatens paralysis. This is only one glimpse of the conditions he had to endure.  I'm sure there were plenty of unbearable conditions for Jasper like shoes that didn't fit, that hurt his feet, hunger from not enough rations given to black soldiers not to mention the treatment from their white counterparts.  I could go on and on and still couldn't give a complete picture of the misery.  Jasper was strong and endured.

Jasper made it through the war and came back home to marry and start a family.  He was also very active in the community and church.

On October 28th 1869 just 4 years after emancipation and the civil war he married Dollie Irving Barr Thompson. (Barr was Dollie's fathers surname, she was officially given her mothers surname of Irving).

Dollie and Jasper had 17 children over a period of thirty plus years.  Most of their children would become successful in their own right.  Their kids would attend Storer College. Solomon and Jasper Jr would attend medical school.  Solomon at Fordham University and Howard University Medical School and Jasper Jr  would attend MeHarry Medical School becoming doctors.  Solomon being a co-founder of the first black hospital in Kansas and later him and Jasper"Jack" would go into business together.  Marie would become a nurse in Chicago.  Franklin became a Red Cap in California for Amtrak. Sadie's daughter became an owner of a funeral parlor with her husband.  Louise married a man who owned his own barbershop in Philadelphia.  William became a sexton of a church in Philadelphia. My great grandmother Frances started out a maid and went to school and became a professional baker who was hired by a lot of rich white families to bake for their functions and events.  Margaret the youngest lived at home and became involved in the community. The children that I did not mention I either have no information or they died at young age.  Dolly had to be such an amazingly strong woman to have lost young children and a husband and still raise successful children.

September 6 1906 would be the last day that Jasper would be with his family.  After everything he endured during the civil war and I'm sure all of the close calls he had  its ironic that he would end up being shot by his neighbor.  When I was young, I didn't know the neighbor shot him.  The story I heard was that he was shot and killed and his horse brought him home but they didn't know who did it.  I wonder why it was passed down that they didn't know unless Dollie just didn't tell the younger children what happened.  That seems possible.  Today we have access to a lot of information and as soon as they find out about the story, the picture is posted on television and spread but that wasn't the case in 1906.  So I guess I understand.

I don't know,  the first article leaves me biased  with questions the story just sounds fishy, like they left a lot of the story out.  Why would Jasper start trouble with Marion if it was Jaspers hogs that broke out of the pen?  Did Marion tell him he couldn't have his hogs back?  What did Marion do? After a lot of years of dealing with the same situation why would you all of a sudden fear for your life?  The article below goes into a bit more detail.

Article from another source 

The second story also seemed to favor Marion so needless to say I'm really pissed off about the way this was reported.  From the pension reports it seems like Jasper had a hard time getting around because of his disabilities..kidney problems, rheumatism and more.  The army doctors said if he over exerted himself that it could cause paralysis.  I also understand that I would just assume my great great grandfather is innocent and I will continue to do so.

The testimony for a pension

After a period of grieving, Dollie had to apply for Jasper's pension. She tried to take care of things but it was hard with the loss of her husband and 2 young children still at home.  One being my great grandmother.  Dollie did keep it up because that house stayed in the family until the loss of the last Thompson child Margaret in 1974 when my grandmother Marie's brother, Uncle Maurice sold the family home.  All of the family had moved away and he would go down there often and take care of things but he was getting older and could no longer keep up with it.

Looks like Dolly affectionately called her husband, my great great grandfather Jasper "Soldier"....I found that out by reading her testimony below...

Testimony of my great great grandmother Dolly Irvin Thompson so that she could receive his pension from the Civil War when he passed.

"Margaret Virginia Thompson was born Sept 8 1894, (my great grandmother Frances Thompson youngest sister,) she calls herself Virginia.  It was September 6, 1906 and she was 12 years old while her father lay a corpse in our house.

 None of  our children has been baptized and christened and I know of no public record of their births.  The midwife who attended me when Margaret and Frances was born is dead I had no physician on either occasion I have a bible record  in our family bible of the birth of each of our children written in by "Soldier" soon after the birth of each child occurrence.  

 I show you this record.  "Soldier" carried a small life insurance in the Metropolitan Life Insurance company of New York,  paying 10 cents per week as premium and I received $72 in full of his policy.  This was the only life insurance he carried. He had made no will before his death at his death he owned 3 acres of land on which was a 2 story framed house
Actual home of Jasper and Dolly (Photo courtesy of Jim Surkamp)
 of br___, situated about 1/2 mile from the city as a ___ cash value held of house, soldier paid $95 per acre for the land and the house cost $300.  The land is clear and all set out in fruits apples and pears chiefly.  I have had $16.00 from sales of fruit last year, its not been a good year for fruit.  This year the cold weather we are having makes the prospect of a crop very doubtful.  I have had to borrow $250, two years ago this coming June to keep up the place and pay taxes etc.  I carry in insurance on the house that cost me $5 per every three years.  the policy on the house has a year to run yet.  The $200 cabin is from the building association, costs me $3.95 per month to carry it.  I have had no other revenue from this land aside from fruit save corn and fodder enough to supply my cow and horse.  Soldier owned a horse worth $60 a cow worth $30..  I sold the cow for the same this last year and bought another cow for $25.  My son traded the horse away a spay nothing for"......(the handwriting in some of the report was illegible). 

Soldier was awarded and so was his wife after his passing

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Finding William: The update on William Henry Preston my mysterious paternal great grandfather


It's been an emotional long tedious tortuous exuberant exciting exhausting endless laborious tiresome intriguing thrilling journey.   How many adjectives and antonyms can I use to express the ups and downs of our journey and trying to find our connection?  I could keep going on.  If you are a genealogist hot on a trail then you understand the struggle.
Let me start at the beginning and bring you up to date.  This journey began some time ago, I've been searching for my paternal great grandfather William Henry Preston.  My grandmother's maiden name was Marie E Preston her father disappeared when she was young leaving behind my great grandmother Frances Thompson Preston and my grandmother  Marie and her 2 younger sisters Bernice and Theresa. 


 My journey began when I found a draft card document with the name William H Preston, occupation: Chauffeur, Dependents: wife and three children.   I wasn't sure at first if this was the William Henry Preston I have been searching for, I had very little information about him.  I knew he was a chauffeur  and I knew they lived in District of Columbia and I definitely knew he had a wife and three children but I didn't know he was from Virginia and I had no clue of his birth date.

I found William and Frances marriage certificate in the marriage index and ordered a copy of the original from

Marriage certificate: married Jan 3, 1912

According to the marriage certificate, in 1912 he was 24 yrs old the ages were pretty accurate when comparing them from the marriage cert to the first  draft card I found.  That means he would have been born about 1887-1888.   This helped confirm this was the William I have been looking for.   This was a good lead,  I was able to see that he was born in Warrenton, Virginia (location which will be confirmed later in the story) on Oct 4th, 1887 and he was a chauffeur just like my grandmother remembered. 

Upon more research, I quickly became confused.  I found another draft card document and this one said "prisoner"  U. S.  Atlanta  penitentiary. This William Henry Preston was incarcerated.

I ordered the file of the William Henry Preston that was incarcerated in the Atlanta penitentiary from the National Archives in Atlanta and that wasn't my William,  well he didn't look like the photo of the William Preston that my grandmother said was her father all these years (see photo at top of page).  The prison file of the incarcerated William Preston said he was single and his occupation was a nurse and the years of incarceration are not equal to my grandmother and her sisters birth dates.  My grandmother Marie was born in 1912, her sister Bernice was born in 1914 and her sister Theresa was born in 1916.  His incarceration date was 1908 to 1918 full term and with parole 1915.  

Found this photo of a chauffer in my grandparents album
it could be around the early 1900's and I compared it
to the photo of the Prisoner William.  I can't really tell lol...
the bottom photo is the entire photo    

The William Preston, that was a prisoner  listed a brother and two sisters and they all lived in Massachusetts. 

 Getting back to my William Henry Preston, it gets better, I found a document for non-support and this is my great grandfather, it mentions my great grandmother, my grandmother and her two sisters by name I guess he disappeared then my great grandma sued him for non-support.

Document dated: Oct 1920

This journey like I said in the beginning has been a rollercoaster of emotions.   Is there more than one William Henry Preston involved? The William H Preston in DC that had been in jail and also arrested for burglary and robbery and or  William H Preston my great grandfather.  Are they one in the same or maybe related or complete strangers?    Below are a few more news clips of the William Preston who has been in and out of jail.... This guy was a character....

 If you notice the two addresses match, one from the above article and the other from the directory below.  

Wm H Preston (laborer)  942 24th NW 

The William H Preston (chauf) at 2418 17th NW

Last but not least, I did find that my William H Preston was in the service.  My search now is to find a document that shows me his service record and maybe some type of pension application. 

Finally I took an ancestry dna test and lo and behold, one of my very first and highest matches was someone researching the last name my my,  I thought that I was finally going to hit the jackpot with information on my William.  I reached out and this was the message that I first sent, I still had this copy in ancestry...I really need to delete some of my emails (lol!) but I'm glad I kept this because it came in handy for this blog.

Jan 06, 2015

Hi, I just received my dna results and you were a 3rd cousin match I know I do have Preston's in my family.  My grandmother was a Preston and I was wondering if you could contact me, maybe with more information.  I've been searching that side for a quite a while now and really haven't found out too much except that my great grandfather is William Henry Preston from Warrenton, VA. 

Thank you in advance.

 Anyway, I received a response that very first day and I was so excited


Hello, cousin! :-) 
(some words.......)

Anywho, I would LOVE to talk. Prolly not today but here is my number, leave your number as well. Let's try for tomorrow.......

This was the beginning of our journey which we are still on today.  I did find a great cousin, we talk on the phone often and we research together.

Lisa's father is a 3rd cousin match to me,  I know a lot of my 3rd cousins so that is a close match,  We believe our connection is through Hamilton Hampton Preston. We are 99.999 percent sure that it is through our Preston line because Lisa has had several family members test and me and my brother and daughter match only the Prestons.

Lisa is very knowledgeable about her Preston Line and knows that her great grandfather is Hamilton Hampton Preston and her Preston family is from Warrenton, Fauquier county Virginia the very same place the draft card says my William Henry Preston was born. 

The next step in my research I found a social security document for William Henry Preston and it has his fathers name close to Hamilton or Hampton, his mother is unknown to Lisa and my belief from the beginning was that William may have been Hamilton's outside child or from a previous marriage because William is older than Hamilton's children in Lisa's line.  There are a number of scenarios and theories of how we connect.

I  found a  social security application  transcribed by ancestry  below

Name:William Henry Preston
Birth Date:4 Oct 1887
Birth Place:Clealand I H
Father Name:Halmpampto Preston
Mother Name:Lois Russewll
Type of Claim:Original SSN.
Notes:Dec 1936: Name listed as WILLIAM HENRY PRESTON

For a long time I thought this was transcribed incorrectly because she said her great grandfathers name was Hamilton Hampton Preston and the transcription said Halmpampto, so I wrote ancestry quite a few times about the incorrect
 transcription of a document lol, but I finally ordered the original document and guess what?  It was  actually correct (as seen below)

 Is this supposed to be "Hamilton or Hampton"?

After months and months, maybe a year or so of researching, sending for documents and files, I finally believe I have found Williams parents...I'm almost positive except this document says born in Cleveland OH? and lives in Syracuse NY?   I still have a few more trips to DC to do some research but I'm 99 percent sure that these are my William and his parents.  Oh and update me and Lisa finally met in person and even went on a trip to Virginia.   

One last update that may really help my research.  Bernice Preston, my grandmothers sister, has a daughter still alive and well  in her 80's she just tested with an ancestry dna site and we are awaiting her results.  She is a generation closer than me.  I am Williams great granddaughter but she is Williams another update is coming.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Journey through my Thompson Family History

I'm going to take you on a Journey through my Thompson Family History.

I'm starting out with Original Jasper Thompson(born about 1770)  because he is as far back as I can go with the Thompson's right now but as you will see from my family documents he is not as far back as I can go in the family.   You will notice in the handwritten account that I acutally have names of my direct descendants from Africa on my 4x's great grandmothers side Haney Richardson that married Fortune Thompson, Jasper's son. 
Side note:  I call him Orignial Jasper because there is more than one Jasper and also there is more than one Solomon.


Parents: James Crippen - Mary McCloud

Grandparents: Herbert Crippen  -Marie Preston
Great grandparents: William Preston - Frances Thompson

Great great grandparents: Jasper Thompson - Dolly Irving

Great great great grandparents: Solomon Thompson - Eliza Gray

4x's great grandparents: Fortune Thompson-  Haney Richardson
5x's great grandfather:  Jasper Thompson - unknown grandmother

my 4x's great grandmother: Haney Richardson's side goes back to africa 
5x's great grandparents: Boson Richardson - Hannah
6x's great grandparents: Furrow - Penny (direct descendants from Africa)
The other side of our family
My 3x's great grandmother: Eliza Gray's parents are
4x's great grandparents: Harry Gray and Fanny
5x's great grandparents: Mingo - Jenny/Janney 

(view visiual chart below - it starts from my Great great grandparents generation)

First let me tell you how I discovered this amazing documented  handwritten account of my family tree.  I have been researching my family for a while but just lately I connected with a  "Joyceann Gray".  We didn't know, but we were related by marriage,  during the course of our research we found 3 of her distant cousins married to my great aunt,  my great uncle and great grandmother(I was shocked about my great grandmother because this person was my ggrandmothers 3rd husband and I didn't even know she was married 3 times.)  One day I happened to mention that (Solomon H Thompson my great grandma Frances brother) has some family papers at the University and I had a quote from the University for quite some time but I hadn't ordered it yet, so she responded "Send me the email."  I sent her the email and she responded once again and said "I went on and ordered it I hope that was ok."  I was suprised and excited!!!   I didn't know what to expect and Joyceann was hoping to find something, as a researcher we want to check every source.  I never expected to find what was contained in the documents when they came back, my ENTIRE family history from the Thompson side was written out on just a few pieces of paper.   It looked like the pages were from a Family Bible.  My direct line of descendants were written out from one of my Great grand aunts or uncles who more than likely received the information straight from my Great great grandparents Jasper Thompson or Dolly Irvin. (My Great great grandfather Jasper Thompson husband of Dolly Irvin born 1847 was the last of the Thompson's on the Washington plantation)

The Original Jasper Thompson Born about 1770 freed in 1813 by the will of Elizabeth Ariss.  If you look at the document right below you will see
it says Fortune Thompson was on the Eric Estates, but I believe he meant the Ariss Estates something
was lost in translation probably with the accent but this all checks out.
This handwritten account is from the collection of My Great grand uncles Family papers they were donated by Solomon H Thompson Jr and his wife to a University.
According to this handwritten account from "one of my ancestors, our family were enslaved by the Washington family for several generations.  Jasper was freed from the Ariss Estates in 1813 document above  Fortune was born on the Claymont Court Plantation.   Solomon was born at Blakely right across from Claymont.  Jenny was Jane Charlotte Washington's slave.   Harry was a slave to someone named LT Davenport and was sold to Jeff Davis(I'm assuming Jefferson Davis) who ripped him from his family and traded him for a coachman and then later he was sent to Georgia where he died.

    (This is the site where I found the table of slaves from the Washington family) Please check out this site when you get a chance.

Notes and abbreviations:
Washington generation #1: Bushrod’s parents
JAW 1 = John Augustine Washington: father of Bushrod Washington; brother of George Washington
HBW = Hannah Bushrod Washington: wife of John Augustine Washington (I)

Washington generation #2: Bushrod’s generation
BW = Bushrod Washington
JABW = Julia Ann Blackburn Washington: wife of Bushrod Washington
WAW = William Augustine Washington: brother-in-law of Bushrod Washington; husband of Jane (Jenny) Washington, Bushrod’s sister

Washington generation #3: Bushrod’s nephews
JAW 2 = John Augustine Washington: nephew of Bushrod Washington; son of Corbin and Hannah Lee Washington; inherited historic part of Mount Vernon
BCW = Bushrod Corbin Washington: nephew of Bushrod Washington; son of Corbin and Hannah Lee Washington; younger brother of JAW 2
RHLW = Richard Henry Lee Washington: nephew of Bushrod Washington; son of Corbin and Hannah Lee Washington; elder brother of JAW 2; died 1817
BWJ = Bushrod Washington “Junior”: actually Bushrod Washington’s nephew; son of Jane (Jenny) Washington and William Augustine Washington
GCW = George Corbin Washington: nephew of Bushrod Washington; son of Jane (Jenny) Washington and William Augustine Washington
B&NH = Bushrod and Noblet Herbert: great-nephews of Bushrod Washington; sons of Bushrod’s deceased niece, Mary Lee Washington Herbert

* = remained at Mount Vernon after Bushrod Washington’s death and estate division

Fanny (wife of Harry Gray) my 4x's great grandmother , daughter  Eliza Gray my 3x's great grandmother (wife of Solomon Thompson)and Eliza's sisters my 3rd great grand aunts...

Son of Mingo and Jenny, he is my 4th great grand uncle

My 5 x's great grandparents Mingo and Jenny/Janney the parents of Fanny my 4x's great grandmother (Harry Gray's wife)
Harry and Fanny were the parents of Eliza Gray...Solomon Thompson's wife
Jenny was Jane Charlotte Washington's slave it says it in the handwritten account and in the book clip below

Below is a clip from Scott E Casper's "Sarah Johnson's Mt Vernon
It gave me a really quick glance of my 5x's great grandparents and grand aunts and uncles

Boson and Hannah my 5x's great grandparents..the child Hannah they called "Haney"(wife of Fortune Thompson)...not to get mixed
up with her sister Henrietta they call "Henny"

I know they called her Haney because her name is on her son' Solomon's death register Doc #1 Line 41 Sol Thompson Doc #2 line 41 parents "Fortune and Haney " and son Jasper Thompson gave the information.

Not sure if this is my 4x's great grandfather Harry Gray (husband of Fanny..father of Eliza Gray ...Solomon Thompsons wife) that was sold by Jeff Davis.

Solomon Thompson and Jasper Thompson still living next to Bushrod C Washington in the 1870 census.
Just a little detail on some of the historical figure names that you see 
John and Elizabeth Ariss Architect John Ariss (sometimes spelled Ayres) (1725–1799) were born in Westmoreland County, Virginia to a family long settled in the Old Dominion.[1][2] Two of his works have been classified as National Historic Landmarks. A rare surviving, documented example of his work is Traveller's Rest in Kearneysville, West Virginia, which he designed as a farmstead home for American Revolutionary War General Horatio Gates. He is also believed to have designed the Neo-Palladian estate Mount Airy, located in Richmond County, Virginia on Virginia's Northern Neck.

Jefferson F. Davis was an American soldier and politician, and was the President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865.

Jane Charlotte Washington (Blackburn)


Died  in Blakeley, Jefferson, Virginia

John Brown and the Raid on Harpers Ferry:  

On October 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown and several followers seized the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The actions of Brown's men brought national attention to the emotional divisions concerning slavery.

I've accumulated so much information on my Thompson family.  All of the information tells me they were right smack dab in the middle of history and historical events that most people only read about.  Like Dolly Irving my Great great grandmother who was there to witness the hanging of John Brown after his Raid on Harpers Ferry, that story was passed down to us orally from Grandma Marie Crippen who received it first hand because she lived in West Virginia with Grandma Dolly.  The association with the Washington siblings that they had to see and work for everyday, Jefferson Davis who tore apart my 5x's ggrandfather from his family.  I never heard of some of the names in the family documents before now but in the course of my research found that some of those names were historical figures. 
In conclusion,  I have to say that with everything that was done to this family they were strong and perserved and some even went on to make history themselves.