Walking With Ghosts - Volume I- Descendants of Angus & Nancy McCutchen MacLeod
Volume 1 Companion containing transcribed/scanned documents used in writing Volume 1.
Coming winter 2017
Walking With Ghosts - Volume II - The War Between The States
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Sifting Through Dirt in Land Records By Lori McLeod Wilke http://www.geocities.com/dillysdillys/AngusMcLeodII.htm
I remember vividly a trip to South Carolina with my family -- the memory includes standing on a bridge looking at the Mill Pond property where my father had spent his childhood summers. He was explaining to me that his grandfather had not owned this property but rented it after the Civil War. I asked about the land our family had owned and was told that it had gone out of the family when a McLEOD widow had left it to her second husband.
Many years later I became interested in genealogy and was able to speak to those who researched before me. Interestingly, the story of the loss of our family land showed some bitterness and was still passed down through the years. Sensing this bitterness, I became curious about what the real situation had been, but for years was unable to learn the truth.
Two years ago during my annual research trip to South Carolina I found several land deeds in which my great-great-grandmother was purchasing property. Not taking the time to read anything other than names and witnesses, I quickly made copies of these deeds for later reading. I was surprised to read later that on one of them that grandmother Harriet had purchased 110 acres at public auction in 1880 from the estate of Angus McLEOD, her brother-in-law who had died in 1864 during the War Between the States.
Also revealed was the fact that the sale was taking place due to an 1867 lawsuit that had been filed by the estate against the widow of Angus and her second husband. I had stumbled onto a record that could lead me to the truth of the family stories and why there was such bitterness.
I had found the estate file for Angus during the previous years' research trip but had had no information about a lawsuit. It was a year later before I was able to return to South Carolina and search for the lawsuit. It had not been indexed or copied as had many other records, so finding it meant going through drawers of the actual documents that pertained to it. This in itself was exciting but when we found the case, we were over the moon.
Returning home, I spent hours with a magnifying glass going over what remained of the lawsuit and to my delight I found the truth of that old family tale. Angus McLEOD and his wife, Eliza, lived on what is believed to have been the original homestead property of Alexander MacLEOD, our immigrant ancestor. Angus inherited that land upon his mother's death around 1835. He and Eliza lived as neighbors of his first cousin, Annie McLEOD and her husband Col. BOYKIN. As stated earlier, Angus had perished in the War Between the States but, his first cousin, Annie, had also died during the war while her husband was a prisoner of the Yankees. Col. BOYKIN returned home after being pardoned to find his wife dead as well as his neighbor and cousin by marriage.
Within six months of the end of the war, Eliza found that Angus' estate was bankrupt and the executor of the estate was forced to sell all of the land but that legally hers by dower law. [See dower rights: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/hornbeck/deathrec.htm] Other than the land and an empty house and outbuildings, she was destitute.
She and Col. BOYKIN were married a few months later. During the insolvency proceedings, the land was divided one-third to Eliza and two-thirds to the executor who was to sell the land to pay off the debts of the estate. Col. BOYKIN purchased the two-thirds from the executor and absorbed it into his holdings. Unfortunately, the land that had been of high value before the war, of lesser value during it, was, after the war, sold for less than six cents an acre and did not cover the debts that were suddenly coming out of the woodwork. Within a few months, the executor filed the lawsuit to force the BOYKINs and others to pay their debts to the estate in order that he could pay off the other debtors. It was obvious from the records that he was forced to do so because his own assets were being attacked by the debtors of the McLEOD estate. Unfortunately, the decree which would have proven the claims of those who filed for payment from the estate was missing from the file, but the order for the sale of the dower lands of Eliza McLEOD BOYKIN after her death in 1880 was included -- hence the deed in which I found my great-great-grandmother purchasing Eliza's dower lands on the courthouse steps!
Was my family's bitterness about the "loss" of the estate justified? The facts don't seem to bear out the bitterness they held against Col. BOYKIN. At the very least it is my belief, after learning all of this, that Col. BOYKIN married the destitute widow of his cousin by marriage and longtime neighbor and that he did so in kindness.
I have learned the "rest of the story" told to me so many years ago that although more than 200 acres of the family land was "lost" to the second husband of a widowed McLEOD, it was not stolen by that husband through the apathy or ill-will of Angus McLEOD's wife. It was lost, as was many a Southern family's land, due to the aftermath of a cruel war and the effects it had on Southern finances.
The house, the outbuildings and 100 acres of our original homestead, gone out of family hands in 1867 had returned to the family in 1880, and was held for another 15 years before finally being sold in 1895. Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 2 August 2006, Vol. 9, No. 31.
19 November 2006 Your Quick Tips, 20 November 2006
Writing the Family Story
I experienced the “truism” of writing out the story in order to really learn about your ancestors three years ago. As our family reunion’s official genealogist, I received a request to put together a “book” for purchase–a request I gladly agreed to. Originally, I intended it to be simply family group sheets printed from my Family Tree Maker software. However, I realized that to most of those family members who attended the reunion, this would be nothing more than a dull collection of names and dates. I wanted them to see our ancestors as flesh and blood and emotion! So, I decided to write it in essay form.
For the first time, I was looking at the chronological events and records in my ancestors’ lives in direct relationship to each other instead of as individual fact pages. What a revelation I experienced. You see, I had recently discovered information that indicated that my third great-grandfather had not immigrated as an adult but had actually left Scotland as a child with his parents.
I thought I had found his parents and was searching for records to prove it. I didn’t know it but I had had almost all the proof I needed in the records of individual children of my third great-grandfather and only by writing them out in the context of a “story” did I see the records and what they offered me in the way of real information.
I began to see that the land owned by my known and proven ancestors (great-grand-aunts and -uncles), was bordered by the lands of my direct line ancestors and that the same people were witnessing their documents over and over again.
Even more important to furthering my research was the fact that the land owned by the folks I thought were my fourth great-grandparents bordered those properties and were witnessed by the same folks. By comparing later records, I realized that the properties were changing hands between what I had previously thought to be two distinct McLeod lines. Those clues revealed in the records I already had led me to wills and equity and land Records that proved that the couple I thought were my fourth great-grandparents were indeed my fourth great-grandparents.
So, get out those records and begin to write the story of your family. You’ll be amazed at the truth that is buried within the records that heretofore you had only looked at in the context of the individual the record was assigned to!
Lori McLeod Wilke
A Discussion on Honor!
by Lori McLeod Wilke
This one was submitted to a genealogical database that had been surfing the Internet and taking entire pages of other peoples website and not pointing its visitors back to those active researchers.....it was never "published" but it did eventually help to achieve the desired result in some changes on that database.
I am not a doctor who will cure a fatal disease, nor an attorney who will win a landmark case setting precedent, not even a teacher other than in the wisdom I impart to my children. But I can leave a legacy through the family history I write; I can help the generations who come after me remember from where and from whom they came.
I understand this because although I never met those who researched my family history before me, I know their names; Nicey Jane McLeod Holland Hughes who wrote our first family history in 1900; Jennie Merrit Smith who wrote a later version mid century, and J. Frank McLeod, the man responsible for an oral interview with Albert John McLeod; this interview, with its rediscovery more than 70 years after it was first done, revealed many clues that opened doors for me in my own research. So, although I'm not a doctor or an attorney, I know I will be leaving my own legacy with its own importance.
I have picked up the threads of our family tapestry left behind by those named above who are now deceased. I have made many trips to courthouses, genealogical centers and societies, corresponded with dozens of researchers and spent countless hours analyzing documents to put together a history of my family that includes more than just names and dates. I have spent countless more hours creating a web site with more than 100 pages and including the work of those who came before me and those who now work beside me, sharing their own work with me for inclusion on that web site. My family has suffered through late dinners and no dinners, and untold missed telephone calls while I struggle along still using dial up after all these years and they have graciously done little or no complaining. They understand that this is a legacy I care deeply about.
Since I wanted to create more than a simple GEDCOM of names and dates, my website contains essays, summaries, interviews with family members and conclusions arrived at after many hours of writing time charts and comparing locations etc.; this is my intellectual work as well as the work of collecting records from the public domain. And my web site contains the names of all of the people who have contributed even the smallest detail to my work. I take great care to give those people credit because it is a matter of honor to me that if I was not the one who pored through the cemetery book to determine where John was buried, then I should not place his burial information within the body of my work as if I was the one who did the poring!
One might argue the point that cemetery books, census records, deeds and estate records are part of the public domain and therefore anyone can take that information from another's work and add it to their own without fear of having infringed upon any copyright issues. And one would legally be correct; but what about ethically? Is it ethical to take the transcription done by another and not give the transcriber the credit for the time spent? And how much less ethical is it to take the essays, summaries, and conclusions of another without stating where you found those intellectual works; in essence allowing the reader to believe that it was your work? I will state from experience that when I see my ancestor's name, date and place of birth on someone else's WorldConnect file or on their web site written exactly as I have written it in my own files, I am aggravated to not see my name as the source of that information, but I am more than aggravated, I am hurt and even angry to see my intellectual work included and obviously copied and then pasted word from word from my website without sourcing me. To take my intellectual work is plagiarism and that my friends would get one expelled from college or fired from employment. Why then do some seem to think it is okay to plagiarize the intellectual work of others in our family research?
There should be honor amongst us family historians. It should be the creed of us all to always give credit to those who have done the actual legwork and gathered the documentation that allows us to put together a coherent work detailing the lives of our ancestors. And it should definitely be gospel to us to never take the intellectual work of another without giving proper source credit. Plagiarism can be avoided by the simple act of including "Author, place found, date accessed" when copying and pasting someone's intellectual work. And a simple "Date of birth source: Family File of ??, accessed online at http://..... on February 15th 2005" will give the one who actually went to the records to get that date proper credit for their legwork. Didn't we all learn to source and write a bibliography in Composition classes in school? Let there be honor among us who seek to honor our ancestors!