Sunday’s Salute ~ William Owen Medlin ~ Civil War Prisoner

William Owen Medlin, my 1st cousin 4 times removed, was born in Cole County, Missouri on August 31, 1838. He was the 6th of 15 children born to Charles Simpson Medlin (1807-1864) and Matilda A. Allen (1812-1863). The family moved to Denton County Texas in 1847. William grew up on the family farm.
On February 18, 1862, at the age of 24, William enlisted in the Confederate Army for a term of twelve months as a private. He mustered in on March 15, 1862, with Captain Felix McKittrick’s Company. He presented himself for service riding a horse worth one hundred twenty-five dollars and with equipment worth twenty-five dollars. This company eventually became Company G, 18th Texas Cavalry, and was sometimes known as Darnell’s Texas Cavalry. With most of his regiment he was captured at the fall of Fort Hindman, at Arkansas Post, Arkansas on January 11, 1863.
He was imprisoned at Camp Douglas, Illinois by February 8, 1863. He remained there until he was paroled on April 2, 1863, and sent to City Point, Virginia for a prisoner exchange. He arrived there on April 10, 1863. Camp Douglas has been called one of the worse and most savage prisoner of war camps during the Civil War. Over 6000 Southern Soldiers died here in the span of 3 years.
After being duly exchanged, he rejoined his regiment and was again captured near Atlanta, Georgia on July 22, 1864. Two days later began his trip north as a prisoner toward Louisville, Kentucky, via Nashville, Tennessee. He arrived at Louisville, Kentucky on July 30, and on that same day was forwarded to Camp Chase, Ohio. He arrived at the Camp on August 1. He remained at Camp Chase until he was transferred to City Point, Virginia on March 2, 1865, for another prisoner exchange.
After he returned home from the War, William married Amanda Elizabeth White (1844-1932) on July 20, 1865. Amanda was a daughter of German native and Mexican War veteran John White and his wife, Nancy Jane Gibson. William and Amanda had 11 children, 4 sons and 8 daughters. They acquired a large plot of land and began to farm. It was successful enough that by 1880 that they employed 4 farm hands to help with their farm.
In 1898 the surviving soldiers from McKittrick’s Company held a reunion in Dallas, Texas. From left to right are (first row) Capt. R. H. Hopkins, Lt. W. B. Brown, Pvt. A. Williams, and Pvt. Spencer Graham; (second row) Pvt. John Marlin, Pvt. William Owen Medlin, and Pvt. Boone Daugherty. Each man wore two ribbons. One says “Pioneers of Denton County” and the other has the abbreviation U.C.V. (United Confederate Veterans) the organization that hosted the reunion they attended and it appears the word Reunion is on the ribbon.

William died on February 28, 1900, on his farm in Elizabethtown, Denton County, Texas at the age of 62.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday’s Salute ~ Norman Miles Sims ~ Lost at Sea ~ World War II

Norman SimsNorman Miles Sims, my 3rd Cousin, was born on March 22, 1917, in Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. He is the youngest son of Melfred Carl Sims (1885-1922) and Dollie Irene Simcosky (1888-1970). Normans’ father died when he was 5 years old. Norman played football and basketball at R.A. Long High School in Longview Washington, having to prove himself for the following reason. He felt he had the shadow of 3 older brothers hanging over him.


After High School all three of his older brothers, Franklin, Vinton, and Sims boys USNMilfred “Swede” Jr all joined the Navy. Franklin was a First Class Seaman, Vinton was a Chief Petty Officer and Swede was a Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. In 1935, Norman wanted to follow his brothers into the Navy, however, despite him qualifying in all academic and physical fitness tests he was rejected. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, he was ½ inch too tall!


Norman Miles Sims WWII newspaper 3This did not deter Norman, and he decided to ask assistance with his enlistment goals. He wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt pleading his case. President Roosevelt asked the Navy to give him a special dispensation and let Norman join his 3 brothers in the service of our nation. In 1935, he joined Swede and Franklin on the U.S.S. West Virginia.


On December 31, 1941, a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Norman Miles Sims WWII letterDecember 7, 1941, Norman was assigned to the U.S.S. Pillsbury. The Pillsbury was sent to the Java Sea. This area was crucial to both sides of the fight and there were many battles that were fought for the territory. On March 1, 1942, during a battle near the Island of Java in the South Pacific, the U.S.S. Pillsbury was fired upon by 4 Japanese battleships. The ship was badly damaged and it sank. Norman and the rest of the crew went down with the ship. The Navy officially declared him dead on November 25, 1945.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday’s Salute ~ Mathew Arvin Register ~ Civil War

Mathew A. RegisterMathew Arvin Register, my 2nd great-grandfather, was born in February of 1832 in Bladen County, North Carolina, the oldest child of Francis and Sarah (Johnson) Register. Sometime before 1850 the Register’s packed up their belongings, loaded them in covered wagons pulled by oxen, and headed for Missouri. It took several months of traveling, but they finally reached the St. Joseph area.

In 1850, at the age of 18, Mathew met and married Elisia Jane White, and over the next 11 years, they had 5 children. By 1855 they moved to Kansas along with Mathew’s 2 younger brothers. 6 years later the CivilNathaniel Lyon 2 War broke out. Mathew and his brothers, Owen and Simon joined the Union Army in July 1861. They mustered into the Army of the West (2nd Kansas Infantry) which was led by Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. Almost immediately they found themselves at Wilson’s Creek located south of Springfield, Missouri along with about 6,000 Union soldiers. The Missouri State Guard was located 75 miles southwest of Lyon and under the command of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price met with troops under Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch near the end of July. The combined Confederate forces numbered about 12,000, and they formed plans to attack Springfield and marched northeast on July 31.

The armies met at dawn a few miles southwest of Springfield on the morning of August 10 in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Lyon was wounded twice during the fighting. He was shot in the head and in the leg and then his horse was shot out from under him. He returned to the Union lines and commandeered a bay horse ridden by Maj. E.L. McElhaney of the Missouri Infantry. Lyon, badly outnumbered by Confederate forces, then dramatically led a counter charge of the 2nd Kansas Infantry on Bloody Hill, where he was shot in the heart at about 9:30 am. Although the Union Army was defeated at Wilson’s Creek, Lyon’s quick action neutralized the effectiveness of pro-Southern forces in Missouri, allowing Union forces to secure the state. Owen was captured by the Confederates during this battle. The rebels sometimes made their prisoners fight with them. Because of this Mathew and Simon were always afraid of accidentally shooting Owen during one of the skirmishes.

The brothers continued in this regiment until it mustered out of service and changed to the 2nd Kansas Cavalry on October 31, 1861, under Colonel Robert Byington Mitchell. In the new company, they continued to participate in many skirmishes all over Kansas and Missouri.

Mathew and Owen PayrollOctober 9, 1864, they enlisted in Company E, 19th Regiment Kansas Militia Infantry. It was commanded by Maj. Gen. James Blunt. In this troop, they participated in the Battles of Byram’s Ford and Westport. Mathew and Simon mustered out on October 28, 1864, when the unit disbanded, and they returned home. At the end of the war, Owen was released. Thankfully all three of the brothers had survived the war. While he was a prisoner of the Confederates, Owens’ fingers froze and all of his fingers and thumbs had to be amputated at the first joint.


Owen had married Minerva White, the sister of Mathews’ wife Elisia and they had 7 children. The family continued to live in Kansas and he died in 1892 at the age of 57.

Simon never married, and he died in 1901 in Leavenworth, Kansas at the age of 55.

Matthew moved his family which had grown to 12 children, to Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri. He died on 23 June 1913 at the age of 80.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Richard Allen ~ Revolutionary War

An image of the american revolution

Richard Allen, my 5th great-grandfather, was born on November 26, 1741, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of John (1717-1767) and Ann (1722-1746), Rhodes Allen. His family moved to Rowan County, North Carolina in 1743 and his mother died there in 1746. By 1759 we find him living in Fredrick County, Virginia. Richard was the youngest of nine children born to John and Ann and the family was considered to be poor. When he and Miss Lindsey fell in love, her father, who was wealthy, opposed the marriage. The young lovers persisted, and he married Nancy Ann Lindsey in 1763 in Virginia, and they had 8 known children, 5 sons, and 3 daughters. After the birth of their first child, Thomas (my 4th great-grandfather) in September of 1770, they again moved, this time back to North Carolina to avoid the ill will of her family.

In the month of October 1775, he entered the service of the Patriots as a volunteer for six months in Capt. Jesse Walton’s Company of minute men. It was the first company ever raised in the county of Wilkes. He was appointed First Sergeant. Immediately after the company was raised and organized they marched to Salisbury, where they remained about sixteen days engaged in training and exercising the men, after which they were discharged and returned home, where they arrived a few days before Christmas.

On the 13th day of February 1776, they set out upon their march forPatriot pic Cross Creek because they had heard that the Scotch Tories were committing great devastation in the country there. On their way, they were joined by Col. Martin Armstrong with the Surry militia at a place called old Richmond. After joining Col. Armstrong they continued their march until they reached Randolph County, where they were joined by Col. Alexander Martin of the Continental line with a small body of troops under his command. They engaged the Tories that were in this area.

Not long after the expiration of his first term Richard was chosen an ensign in the company of militia commanded by Capt. Benjamin Cleveland and they received orders from Col. Armstrong to go against the Indians who were committing acts of destruction upon the frontier of the Western part of North Carolina. In this expedition, they served about two weeks scouring the frontier settlements for any problems.

Benjamin Cleveland StatueEarly in the year 1778, Captain Benjamin Cleveland was appointed a Lieutenant Colonel and Richard was appointed to succeed him as Captain of the company which commission he held until the close of the war. In the latter part of the year 1779, a call was made for troops to march to the defense of Charleston. A draft was made from the militia in Wilkes for the company and a draft also made from the Captains of Companies for a Captain to command that company. The lot fell upon Richard, and he rendezvoused with the company on January 13, 1780. As soon as they could organize and make the necessary preparations they marched directly to Charleston, S. C., where they joined the third regiment of North Carolina militia, commanded by Col. Andrew Hampton.

Newspaper Richard's PlaceGen. Lincoln ordered all the troops into the city where they remained until the term of service of Richard and his men expired. They were then discharged and returned home, Richard arrived home sometime in the month of April 1780. In the month of September 1780, information was received by Col. Benjamin Cleveland that Major Ferguson of the British army was advancing from South Carolina with a large body of British and Tories, upon which Col. Cleveland immediately issued orders for all the Troops within the County of Wilkes to rendezvous at the Court House. Richard along with what men he could gather together immediately set out on their march to join the fight. At this time he was promoted to Colonel. They continued their march as quickly as possible in the direction of King’s mountain but was not able to reach it in time to engage in the battle. After this, Richard and his men again returned home to Rowan (now called Wilkes), County.

Richard Allen hsIn 1778, Richard was a member of the Constitutional Convention in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Richard was also appointed the First Sheriff of Wilkes County after the end of the War. In 1785 he served as a justice in the county. In 1793, he was a Representative in the General Assembly as well as serving a term in the House of Commons. Beginning in 1798 through 1804, Richard was once again made Sheriff of Wilkes County. He then served as the clerk for the Baptist Association until his death on October 10, 1832, in Edwards Township, Wilkes Co, North Carolina at the age of 90.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Major Paul Eaves Divine ~ Spanish American War

Paul E Divine military PicPaul Eaves Divine, my maternal 2nd cousin 3 times removed, was born on May 20, 1871, in Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He is the second of five children born to Dr. John Washington (1836-1903) and Mary Adalaide (Newlee) Divine (1835-1915). Paul graduated from High School in 1889 and attended the Cumberland School of Law, receiving his degree in 1896.

In 1898 with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Paul joined Paul E Divine Spanih Am Warthe service as a Major in the 6th US Volunteer Infantry. He came from a long line of Divine’s who had fought in Country’s previous wars, and he felt it was his duty to do the same. This particular war was probably one of the shortest wars our country has been involved in.

The Spanish–American War broke out in late April 1898. The American strategy was to seize Spanish colonies in the Atlantic, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and their possessions in the Pacific, the Philippines, and Guam. On May 10, Spanish forces at Fort San Cristóbal under the command of Capt. Ángel Rivero Méndez in San Juan exchanged fire with the USS Yale under the command of Capt. William C. Wise. Two days later, on May 12, a squadron of 12 US ships commanded by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson bombarded installations at San Juan. On June 25, the USS Yosemite blocked San Juan harbor. On July 18, General Nelson A. Miles, commander of US forces, received orders to sail for Puerto Rico and to land his troops. On July 21, a convoy with nine modes of transport, and 3,300 soldiers, escorted by USS Massachusetts, sailed for Puerto Rico from Guantánamo. General Nelson Miles landed unopposed at Guánica, located on the southern coast of the island, on July 25, 1898, with the first contingent of American troops. The opposition was met in the southern and central regions of the island but by the end of August, the island was under the United States control.

On August 12, peace protocols were signed in Washington and Spanish Commissions met in San Juan on September 9 to discuss the details of the withdrawal of Spanish troops and the cession of the island to the United States. On October 1, an initial meeting was held in Paris to draft the Peace Treaty and on December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed (ratified by the US Senate February 6, 1899). Spain Paul Eaves Divine Military 4renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico and its dependent islets to the United States, and transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States and in turn, was paid $20,000,000 by the U.S. In August of 1898, Paul was appointed Post Commander of Puerto Rico Guayama. He received his commission from the military Judge Advocate. He held this post until early 1905. He returned home and immediately moved to Johnson City, Tennessee.

Paul Eaves Divine Military5

From July 1, 1905, through 1908, he was appointed the Treasurer for Mountain Branch for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Johnson City. He also started his own law practice with a fellow Cumberland graduate David Guinn.

He married Lulu Belle Milburn in 1907, and they had 3 daughters, Josephine, Ada, and Florence.


Paul died on April 17, 1935, at the age of 63. His obituary includes the following: “Paul is considered a highly respected citizen of this town as well as an honest lawyer and Political leader with the Republican Party.”


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday’s for Me ~ A Piece of My Heart

Broken heartI have lost many people over the course of my lifetime. My parents and siblings, a grandchild, and a husband, but none of this prepared me for the greatest loss I have ever experienced.


When I was 14 years old, we moved to Santa Monica California. Within 2 weeks I met an older boy, he was 17, and he began to come around a lot. Because of the abuse and neglect I had encountered growing up, I was desperate for love. A few months after I turned 15, and I found out that I was pregnant. Our parents got together and decided we needed to get married. The year was 1970, and being pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon. My young age didn’t help either. I was told by the principle that I couldn’t return to Junior High School because I would be a bad influence on the other girls. My entire life changed and I had no say in it.

My Dad and his parents drove us to Tijuana Mexico, and we got married. When we returned home, my new husband went to his home to get a truck to move my things to his parents’ home. While he was gone, my mother told me if I leave I would never see her, my sister nor my beloved Dad again. So, when he arrived I refused to go with him and I once again had no real say in it.

When my son was born, I went to the hospital alone. No one came to Christmas 1970see me and when I was released, I took a taxi home. I was treated badly at the hospital because I was so young. It was here that I found out my marriage wasn’t legal because his family never filed the paperwork with the state of California. I named my son John Pleasant after the only grandfather I ever met. We called him “Pleasant” and he lived up to the name,

IMG_0015It was hard to raise a child when I myself was still considered one. We basically grew up together. Somehow, I did it and I believe I did a good job under the IMG_0020circumstances. We moved back to Tucson AZ after my Dad died. Pleasant was almost 4 years old. I started going to church, and we got very involved in it. He loved IMG_0027singing in the kids’ choir, and he appeared in many of the plays they put on. After I got married again he welcomed a brother and a sister and the 3 of them remained close. After my husband died and I gotIMG_0028 remarried, he and my new husband grew to be great friends. He was a good student getting mostly A’s and B’s. In High School, he wrestled, ran track, and played football. After High School, he joined the army.

IMG_0030When he was 23, he got married to a woman who had 3 kids. They had a daughter, my first grandchild! About 8 years later it was discovered that he had colon cancer. After having a radical surgery, he recovered and 3 years later he 1995-2was cancer-free. He had always taken good care of himself, exercised, and ate well. The doctor said she believed this is why he recovered so quickly. He JP 3 2015began to lift weights and eventually he was able to power lift 405 pounds. He moved from Arizona to Idaho a little over 7 years ago. It was hard not to be able to see him as often as we liked, but he was happy there, and we stayed in touch.

In April of 2018, he began to feel sick. He went to the doctor who ran a JP 2 2016series of tests. They thought that he had liver cancer! After more tests, they thought he had cancer of the left kidney. Then it was decided that they didn’t know what was going on with him, so they were going to send him to the Mayo Clinic in Seattle. I reminded him that there was a great Mayo Clinic here in Scottsdale and to see if his insurance would pay for him to come here. They agreed and by the end of May, he arrived. We hadn’t seen him in almost 5 years so you can imagine the scene at the airport! We took him straight to the clinic and the doctor gave us the diagnosis. He had a very rare kind of cancer called Sarcomatoid Carcinoma and there was nothing they could do for him. So he was admitted to the hospital because of the drugs they had to give him to make him comfortable. I went to see him every day and my husband went at least 5 times a week as he worked full time. We had everyone we knew praying for him. Finally, they placed him in hospice, and we were told to prepare for him to die.

As a parent, this is the hardest news you can receive. We spent as much time with him as we were allowed. I remember thinking about his childhood and I cried over all the things I believed I had done wrong in raising him. On July 18, 2018, when we went to see him, he was on so much morphine that he slept through most of our visit. As we got ready to leave, he woke up and was the most coherent we had seen him in a while. We told him we loved him and I cradled his head in my hands and kissed his forehead over and over again. As we left the room he said “I love you guys too” and he went back to sleep. He was having a really bad day the next day, so we were told not to come to visit. At 8:20 am on July 20, 2018, we got the call that he had passed on. He was only 48 years old.

I never knew a person could feel that much pain in their heart and still live. That is how it was for my husband and I. Today marks the second anniversary of his death and it still hurts with the same intensity. We find comfort in talking about him and the things he used to do, but the hole that is left in our lives feels like it will never heal.

So today I say, if you have any children, call them and let them know what they mean to you. Tell them you love them as often as you can while you still can.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter

Sunday Salute ~ John “Blackbearded” Parrott III ~ Mosby’s Ranger’s

Parrottsville mapJohn Parrott III, my 1st cousin 3 times removed, was born on September 30, 1800, in Parrottville, Cocke County, Tennessee. He is the 4th of 9 children born to John Parrott Jr. and Elizabeth Hall. He moved with his family to Fayette County, Ohio in 1814 but returned to Parrottsville in 1820. Here he met and married Mary Nancy Copeland in 1825. They quickly moved back to Fayette County and had 2 children, a son, and a daughter. Mary died on March 8, 1850.

John then married Rachel Whitcomb in 1852. They had no children. John Parrott III photoWhen the Civil War broke out, John signed up with the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, also known as Mosby’s Rangers. It was a battalion of partisan cavalry in the Confederate army during the Civil War. They were known for their lightning strike raids on Union targets and their ability to consistently elude pursuit, the Rangers disrupted Union communications and supply lines.

Col John S. Mosby

The 43rd Battalion was formed on June 10, 1863, at Rector’s Cross Roads, near Rectortown, Virginia, when John S. Mosby formed Company A of the battalion. Mosby was acting under the authority of General Robert E. Lee, who had granted him permission to raise a company in January 1863 under the Partisan Ranger Act of 1862, in which the Confederate Congress authorized the formation of such units. By the summer of 1864, the battalion had grown to six cavalry companies and one artillery company, comprising about 400 men. After February 1864, the Confederate Congress revoked the authority of all-partisan units, except for two, one of which was the 43rd Battalion. The battalion never formally surrendered but was disbanded on April 21, 1865, after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House to Ulysses S. Grant, but not before attempting to negotiate a surrender with Major General Winfield S. Hancock in Millwood, Virginia.

What to call the Confederate 43rd Battalion was a matter of contention during the war. The members of the battalion were referred to as soldiers, partisans, rangers, and guerillas. The Union viewed them as a loose band of roving thieves. Northern newspapers and Unionists referred to them as guerrillas, a term of disgrace at the time. One of Mosby’s men stated in his memoirs published after the war that “the term guerrilla was not applied to us in the South in any general way until after the war, when we had made the name glorious, and in time we became as indifferent to it as the whole South to the word Rebel.” Mosby himself avoided overtly militaristic words like “troops” or “soldiers” or “battalion” in favor of the more familial “Mosby’s Men” or “Mosby’s command”

After the war, John returned to Fayette County, Ohio and it appears he Obitwas able to put aside his actions during the war and live a respectable life. In his obituary, it states that “Mr. Parrott was highly respected by all who knew him. He was a kind husband and father, and a zealous and consistent church member.” John died on June 26, 1873. I have never discovered why he had the nickname “Blackbearded”.






I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.





Sunday Salute ~ The First Woman Soldier I Have Found In My Family

Ada Millburn Divine PhotoI feel very honored to be able to write this blog about my maternal 3rd cousin, Ada Milburn Divine. Since I started this weekly blog I always thought it would be great to find a female who served in the Military, but after months of searching I almost gave up. I do have a habit of searching my paternal line first, then my maternal one is always an after-thought. I am so glad I strayed from the norm!

Ada Milburn Divine was born on January 6, 1909, in Johnson City, Washington InkedYearbook Ada Divine_LICounty, Tennessee. She was the second of three daughters born to Paul Eaves (1871-1935) and Lula nee Milburn (1881-1955) Divine. Growing up, Ada was known as “Sis”. She had many interests while attending school. She was an accomplished artist (painting) and writer. After graduating High School she attended East Tennessee State Teacher’s College in 1927, where she was a member of the Pi Sigma Literary Society. She attended college for 4 years graduating with a degree in science in 1931. She taught school in Johnson City for a few years, then she moved to New York City to pursue her painting career.

Here she met Reginald Randall (1901-1938) and they got married on January 22, 1937, in Manhattan. Reggie was a veteran of WWI and he had been deeply affected by what had happened during his time overseas, and the things he saw and did in combat. He and his bride moved to Johnson City to be near Ada’s family. However, the move did not keep the memories away. On July 21, 1938, Reggie died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. This impacted Ada so much that she never remarried, nor had any children. For some unknown reason, she began to go by her middle name Milburn, and people called her “Millie”.

Ada Millburn Divine WWII PhotoMillie began working as a purchasing agent and buyer for the N.E.C.Company. In the 1940 census, we find her living with her mother Lula, and both women are listed as widowed. When WWII started on December 8, 1941, Millie wanted to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp but she discovered that all the women did was paperwork, laundry for the troops, and miscellaneous cleaning. This didn’t appeal to a college graduate with a degree. In July 1943 the organization was renamed the Women’s Army Corps when it was authorized as a branch of the US Army rather than an auxiliary group. The WAC’s received the same rank insignia and pay as men later that September and received the same pay allowances and deductions as men in late October. They were also the first women officers in the army allowed to wear an officer’s insignia. Millie enlisted in the WAC’s on November 13,1943.

Although women were prohibited from being in combat zones, some women who WAC_Air_Controller_by_Dan_V._Smithshowed a good knowledge of the technical field could be sent to England to help assist the troop in a non-combat fashion. Because of her degree in science, Millie was trained as one of the first women air traffic controllers. She spent the next two years in England directing the pilots as they flew their missions.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn November 13,1945, Millie returned home to Johnson City. She began painting again and teaching art to the local children. However, she missed the control tower. In 1944, she started working as an air traffic controller at the Nashville International Airport, She continued working there until she retired in 1970. Ada “Millie” Divine Randall died on February 4, 2001, in Johnson City, and she is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, located in Greenville, Greene County Tennessee.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Finale

Benjamin Cleveland StatueOver the last 3 weeks, we have taken a close look at Benjamin Cleveland’s life. All of it, including the good, the bad, and the very ugly. He was honored as a hero in the Revolutionary War, and he was also convicted as a murderer in the same war. He was called the Terror of the Tories and a man with no morals, but he was also called a kindhearted, fair, Patriotic, and loving man. He was a man of many contradictions.

This week we will pick up where we left off, life after the war. After the war, homeBenjamin returned to his beloved Round About, but he was able to remain there for only four years before he lost his plantation to a “better title.” At that time in North Carolina history, land speculation and claim jumping were rampant in the Yadkin Valley. Anyone who had been away fighting in the war for any length of time could expect to be victimized. Even Benjamin’s good friend, Daniel Boone, encountered these problems.

Benjamin directed his ambitions toward the beautiful land he had seen in the Tugaloo River Valley in South Carolina. In 1785 when he was granted 1050 acres on the Franklin County, GA, side so he began selling off his remaining Wilkes County property. Sometime between 1786 and 1787 he moved his family to their new home in the fork of the Tugaloo River and Chauga Creek in the Pendleton District.

Tugaloo mapHe added to his new farm by buying land from other Revolutionary grantees. Between 1779 and 1793 he acquired, through grants and purchases, nearly seven thousand acres of land on both sides of the Tugaloo River. Some of this land he kept as part of his “estate,” and some he sold. One record, for example, shows him selling 650 acres on Mill Creek of the Chauga River to a blacksmith named Littleberry Toney (November 29, 1790). All the land retained in his estate was eventually passed on to his son Absalom. Over the years this large estate has been bought in small portions by local residents and newcomers to the area.

Benjamin soon became involved in the affairs of his new state and served for many years as a judge of the court of Old Pendleton District along with General Andrew Pickens and Colonel Robert Anderson. As a judge, he continued the philosophy he had perpetuated in warfare. Lacking the formal training of a lawyer, he relied on his own keen sense of right and wrong when issuing a legal decision. In truth, he had tremendous contempt for the technicalities of law and all the resulting delays. When lawyers expounded their legalese before his bench, he often fell asleep, sometimes lapsing into snores that interfered with the litigation until one of his associates could nudge him awake. Consequently, all the long, prosy legal speeches had little effect on the judgments he rendered. Both on the field of battle and in the court of law, he was considered a fast man with a rope as he administered justice promptly and fairly. Any unfortunate horse thief brought before Benjamin received the same treatment as the Tories had, usually hanging.

Several years before his death in 1806, Benjamin became so large in size that heGrave stone could not mount his favorite saddle horse. Estimates placed his peak weight somewhere between 450 and 500 pounds. His arms could not meet across his body, and he became an object of curiosity to strangers. In his final years, he was able to wear only loose-fitting gowns made of light fabric in the summer and heavier material in winter. He was confined to a special chair that was built especially for him and mounted on rollers. By day he sat in it to direct the operation of his farm; by night OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhe slept in it, for his bulk hindered his breathing whenever he laid down. Benjamin’s special chair became his death chair, too, when he died in it at his breakfast table in October of 1806. He was sixty-nine years old. His wife, Mary, had predeceased him by ten years, and his younger son John had also died a few years before. He was buried in the family cemetery on the grounds of his plantation.

The story of his life would not be complete without the story of his illegitimate daughter. “When young, back in Virginia, Benjamin Cleveland, though married, had an illegitimate daughter [Jemima]. She married a man named Evan Edwards and they moved ‘to the west’ and had several children. They were very poor. Benjamin had a friend who knew where his daughter was living to ask her to come to him and he would help her. After she received the verbal invitation she came from Powell Valley to Tugaloo, where he was then living. The Indians had killed her husband, and she was in dire circumstances. When he discovered that his daughter has indeed come to see him and was nearby, Benjamin wept. When he told his family about his daughter they surprised him when they said they would receive the daughter as one of their own, which they did. She then settled near the Cleveland home. She was quite a remarkable, and respected woman. She then remarried and she did very well for herself.”


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.






Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~Part 3

Benjamin Cleveland signIn the fall of 1780, Benjamin led 350 Heroes to their most famous moment of the Revolution, the Battle of King’s Mountain, when he learned that British Colonel Patrick Ferguson intended to march into North Carolina.


Mounted columns of Carolinians and Virginians came from the west over the mountains in the snow that totally covered their feet and ankles in response to the threat. These “over-mountain” men had established their settlements and their homes in remote regions far and independent from the Royal authority in the eastern colonies’ years before the first sounds of war were heard. Though the American Revolution had been raging for five years, these men had until now been unthreatened by the war, but Ferguson’s invasion of the South Carolina upcountry changed their perspective.

In his own campaign, Ferguson had succeeded in recruiting several thousand Carolinians who were loyal to the British. With them, he started to hunt down and punish the “rebels” who continued to resist Royal authority. During the summer of 1780, Ferguson marched and counter-marched through the Carolina country as the over-mountain men swept eastward and engaged him or his detachment in fierce little actions of sometimes confused guerrilla warfare.


In September Benjamin and his 350 Bulldogs had joined Colonel William Campbell,Benjamin Cleveland Statue Cleveland TN Colonel Isaac Shelby, Colonel John Sevier, and other militia leaders at Quaker Meadows near Catawba River. Since there were so many officers of equal rank it was agreed that command should rest with the board of colonels. Colonel Campbell was elected officer of the day to execute the board’s decisions. Benjamin was to be one of the principal officers in the conflict. Most of the united forces of 1600 were afoot, but approximately 700 were mounted on the fastest horses and overtook Ferguson at King’s Mountain.


These mounted troops were divided into three divisions under Benjamin, Colonel Campbell, and Colonel Lacey, each division would storm the mountain from a different direction. Lacey from the west, Campbell from the center, and Benjamin from the east.


Kings Mountain Battle-SignJust before the beginning of the battle, Benjamin addressed his troops in which Dr. David Ramsay called “plain unvarnished language”. It showed Benjamin’s good sense and knowledge of human nature. This speech inspired the courage and patriotism of the over-mountain men. Inspired to win at all cost, the men hid behind rocks and trees and fired at the British. They were repelled, but they rallied and came back to fight, and the over-mountain men had better luck in the second attempt. Benjamin, with a sword in hand, rode to the front of his column and led the ascent, yelling for his men to follow him. Ferguson’s troops poured continuous gunfire into the advancing line and during the shooting Roebuck, Benjamin’s beloved warhorse was shot out from under him. Grabbing his flintlock pistols, he dismounted and ran ahead of his men until another horse was brought to him from the rear. Benjamin weighed 300 pounds so he always had 2 horses with him, so one could rest while the other carried his large frame.


By then, the patriots were ascending the mountain from all sides. Unceasing gunfire Benjamin Cleveland Statueand the roar of the men shouting and the officers yelling words of encouragement to their troops. Eventually, the British line wavered and broke in confusion. Ferguson, who had fought desperately, ran for liberty but was shot with at least a dozen bullets. His troops immediately surrendered to the patriots. Ferguson’s gray charger ran away but was quickly caught and presented to Benjamin to compensate for his loss of Roebuck.



When it was all over 225 Loyalists had been slain, 163 were wounded and 716 had been taken prisoner, The patriots had lost only 28 men and 62 had been wounded. On their way to prison, many of the captured were brutally beaten and some were even hacked to death with swords. About a week later and 50 miles from King’s Mountain, a committee of Whig colonels appointed themselves as judge and jury of the Loyalists. 36 Tories were found guilty of breaking into homes. Killing the inhabitants and burning houses. Benjamin was instrumental in the immediate execution by hanging of 9 of the convicted 36 men.


It is said that The Battle of Kings Mountain was the turning point of the war. To Benjamin Cleveland Statue Wilkesboro NCthose who fought alongside Benjamin, he was considered the supreme hero whose spirit of adventure and self-reliance, quickness of thought, and rapidity of action in times of emergency and danger contributed greatly to the American victory.



Next week in part 4 I will cover Benjamin’s life after the war.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.