This Old House # 6 ~ Strother Meeting House

Once again I was searching through my family trees and I noticed that there were quite a few photos of the homes that my ancestors had lived in. Some of them were built way back in the early 1600s. They varied in size, style, and construction material. They are all as equally unique as each of my ancestors! I decided not to limit it to dwelling places, but to also include the occasional “house” of worship.

Strother’s Meeting House, the “cradle of the Methodist Church in the West”, was erected near Cottontown in Sumner County about 1800. The church held the distinction in 1802 of housing the first Middle Tennessee Methodist Conference. At that meeting Bishop Francis Asbury was in charge, and one of the most valuable relics in the church today is the chair in which the bishop presided. Also, there today is one of the rude log benches hewn by a Sumner county pioneer for the Methodist chapel.

The single candle that was the only illumination for the church is on display as well as a circuit rider’s trunk, rusty and worn, bears on it the explanation that “Bishop McKendree used this on his journeys through the undivided bounds of American Methodism. There are many other relics–pictures, Bibles, books and gavels–all telling the story of the early days of a denomination that now has millions on its membership rolls.

It must have been a very impressive meeting there, according to the accounts that have been handed down by several who attended. The membership reported for that year the Cumberland Circuit was 588 white and 39 Negro members. William McKendree, was the presiding elder and John Page and Thomas Wilkerson were the preachers on the circuit.

As Methodism grew in Sumner County the tiny one-room chapel was not large enough so another building was erected and it was dedicated in 1857 as Bethel Church. Prior to this, however, Strother’s Meeting House had been moved from its first location one mile away to Red River Pike.

When the Methodists began using their new church, the old meeting house, then located on the Hassell farm, was used for many years as a corn crib. The church remained as a crib under an eave of the barn on the farm, but one reason for the excellent condition of the logs was the fact that it was thus protected from the weather.

This small log cabin has often been referred to as the “Traveling Church” because it has been dismantled and moved numerous times. The church was finally moved to an honored place on the Scarritt Bennett Campus located in Nashville in 1931.

The Overall Gang #8 ~ Milton Carter Dalton

A lot of time while writing about our ancestors, we focus on those who would be considered successful by current standards. After all, there is usually far more documentation and sources that we can draw from that makes developing the story of their lives much easier. Looking through photos I made a discovery! I have quite a few pictures of my ancestors wearing farmers overalls. The majority of my ancestors spent their whole lives making a home and raising a family on a farm. To them, wearing overalls was a sign of honor, and they were proud of what they did. So to honor these hard-working men I will highlight the life of one of the “overall gang” each week, including the photo and a brief biography of the legacy they left behind.


Milton and Elizabeth

This week I am featuring Milton Carter Dalton, my paternal 1st cousin 2 times removed. He was born on December 20, 1880, in Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He was raised on a farm just outside the town of Tazewell. He married Elizabeth Jane Owens (1881-1951) on April 6, 1898, in Grainger, Tennessee. They had 3 sons and 2 daughters. For the first few years after they got married, they lived with on of Milton’s brothers. By 1910, they were able to purchase a 250 acre plot of land near his mother and adult siblings. Here they grew mostly soybeans, and they also grew the necessary vegetables to feed their families. They had a self-sustaining farm with cows, hogs, and chickens. He also built and ran a saw mill on his property.

Milton died on May 15. 1966 at the age of 85.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing I Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Thursday at the Cemetery #52 – Maple Grove Cemetery, Sylvania, Missouri ~ Finale

This week I am once again honoring some of my ancestors who are buried in a small rural cemetery in Missouri. These are from my maternal side, and once again have quite a few “Divine” names. This cemetery is located in the Southwestern section of the State between Springfield and Joplin. There are 387 known graves there with the oldest one being in 1882.

There are a few of my ancestors buried here. This is the last of them buried in this cemetery.


There was no headstone found for James nor Orlena Divine

James Monroe Divine, my maternal 2nd cousin 3 times removed, was born on February 6, 1848, in Madison, Monroe County, Tennessee. He was the third of fifteen children born to William Riley Divine Sr. (1819-1875) and Amelia “Milly” Webb (1823-1897). When he was 8 years old he moved with his parents to Jasper, Dade County, Missouri. He grew up working on the family farm. He married Orlena Jane Clayton (1850-1905) in 1868, and they had 8 children, 6 sons, and 2 daughters. They had a farm outside of Dadeville, Missouri. After the death of his wife in 1905, James started working as a coal miner. James died on January 12, 1925, in Golden City, Barton County, Missouri at the age of 76. He died from Lobar Pneumonia. No headstone has been found for him.

Orlena Jane Clayton, wife of my maternal 2nd cousin 3 times removed, was born in June, 1850, in Dade County, Missouri. She was the daughter of John and Lucinda Clayton. She married James Monroe Divine (1848-1925) in 1868, and they had 8 children, 6 sons, and 2 daughters. They had a farm outside of Dadeville, Missouri. Orlena died in 1905, in Dade County, Missouri at the age of 55. No headstone has been found for her.


Double headstone for Zora Divine and John Bishop

Zora Cornelia Divine, my maternal 3rd cousin 2 times removed, was born on October 3, 1870, in Dade County, Missouri. She was the oldest of 8 children born to James Monroe Divine (1848-1925) and Orlena Jane Clayton (1850-1905). She married John Granville Bishop (1862-1945) on November 20, 1890, in Sylvania, Dade County, Missouri. They had 4 children, 3 sons, and 1 daughter. They bought a farm in Golden City, Missouri, and they grew sweet corn. She died of pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1945 at the age of 75.

John Granville Bishop, husband of my maternal 3rd cousin 2 times removed, was born on September 30, 1862, in Dade County, Missouri. He was the son of John Bishop and Martha Hanlon. He married Zora Cornelia Divine (1870-1945) on November 20, 1890, in Sylvania, Dade County, Missouri. They had 4 children, 3 sons, and 1 daughter. They bought a farm in Golden City, Missouri, and they grew sweet corn. He also began working in the coal mines with his father-in-law in 1905. He died of a ruptured gall bladder on September 22, 1945, at the age of 82.

James J. Divine, my maternal 1st cousin 4 times removed, was born on March 3, 1818, in Greenville, South Carolina. He was the son of James Marshall Divine Sr (1793-1872} and Nancy Calloway (1796-1872). He moved with his family to Tennessee when he was 5 years old. He married Mary “Polly” Elizabeth Clayton (1820-1892) on November 2, 1843, in Monroe County, Tennessee. They had 7 children, 5 sons, and 2 daughters. They moved to Dade County, Missouri in 1860, and they bought 80 acres of land. He enlisted in the Missouri State Militia on July 1, 1863, fighting on the Confederate side. He mustered out at the end of the war. He died on January 1, 1904, at the age of 85.

Mary “Polly” Elizabeth Clayton, wife of my maternal 1st cousin 4 times removed, was born on September 10, 1820, in Monroe County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of William Clayton (1800-1820} and Elizabeth Bruton (1798-1820). She married James J. Divine (1818-1904) on November 2, 1843, in Monroe County, Tennessee. They had 7 children, 5 sons, and 2 daughters. They moved to Dade County, Missouri in 1860, and they bought 80 acres of land. She died on January 9, 1892, at the age of 71.

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

Winter ~A Time for Sweaters ~ 52 Ancestors Week #51


Overheating in a sweater on Christmas Eve

I think I was 12 years old before I got my first coat. We always wore sweaters during the winter time because Southern Arizona rarely got cold enough to warrant anything heavier. I would watch in awe at the movies or commercials that had a winter theme, and the children would have on heavy coats, gloves, scarves, and hats. I was a little envious of the coats that had fur around the hood and sleeves. To me this looked so sophisticated! I remember getting a bicycle and a swimsuit for Christmas when I was 11 and I put on the suit and went riding around the neighborhood on the bike. This was the type of winters we had, and at the time I thought everyone had the same kind.


Snow in Missouri

You can imagine the shock when we moved to Missouri and my Dad took my sister Mary and I to Sears to buy coats and gloves. I didn’t like the way they felt, they were too heavy and bulky. Once the temperatures began to drop, my attitude changed. I suddenly fell in love with these wonderful items that kept me warm! We only lived in this State for two years and I discovered that I really loved the snow. I would throw on my coat and gloves anytime it snowed and I would go outside to watch it fall. I had fun sledding, having snowball fights and building snowmen.


Santa Monica Beach and Pier

From here, we moved to Santa Monica, California. Once again, owning a coat wasn’t a necessity. We lived 7 blocks from the beach so we did experience cool air coming off the ocean, however, it wasn’t cold enough for my Missouri coat or gloves. I got a thin cloth jacket which worked great for me. I enjoyed walking on the beach during the winter because it wasn’t crowded. I was totally amazed at how different this time of years was in each place we lived. We spent 5 years in California, and we moved 4 times. Each time we moved further inland, and we eventually ended up in Hollywood. No matter where we moved the temperature was mild from November until April.


Our house in Nashville, TN

I have lived in seven States over the course of my life. Each one presented its own unique winter weather. Colorado and Missouri made driving difficult, and as an adult I discovered that I did not like snow! In Tennessee there was very light snow and in Mississippi and Louisiana it had very mild weather. I really liked living in each State and experiencing the seasons while there.

As I get older, I can no longer tolerate the cold so Arizona will be my home from here on out. My family that is scattered throughout the Midwest and on to the East Coast think I am crazy when I tell them, winter is my favorite time of year!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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 #41 ~ Eli Coffey ~ Substitute Soldier Revolutionary War

I just wanted to place this disclaimer here: I understand that some of the events that is written about in this blog are disturbing. However, it is a part of history and it should not be covered up because of this. This blog does not glorify the events nor does it condone them. It is just stating the facts of the little known history of the Revolutionary War.

Eli Coffey, my 1st cousin 5 times removed, was born on March 1, 1763, in Blue Run, Orange County, Virginia. He was one of eleven children born to Reverend James Coffey (1729-1786) and Elizabeth Cleveland (1729-1826). He moved with his parents and siblings to Morgan, Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1778. Here is where he began an unusual stint in the Revolutionary War.

In December of 1780, Eli’s maternal Uncle Thomas Fields, was drafted into the regiment of Captain John Barton. Thomas had a large family and a sick wife, and he asked if he could be excused from serving. His request was denied, but he was told if he found a substitute he would be able to stay home. When Eli heard of his Uncle’s dilemma, he volunteered to be a scout in Thomas’ place. The length of service was only for 3 months. By 1779, George Washington had earned the famous moniker “Father of His Country.” However the Iroquois Indians of the time bestowed on Washington another, not-so-flattering title: Conotocarious, or the “Town Destroyer.” This lesser-known title also had its origins in 1779, when General Washington ordered what at the time was the largest-ever campaign against the Indians in North America. After suffering for nearly two years from Iroquois raids on the Colonies’ northern frontier, Washington and Congress decided to strike back.


Butler’s Rangers

On the afternoon of November 11, 1778, Captain Benjamin Warren had led a group of soldiers out of the small fort at Cherry Valley, New York, and straight into a scene from hell. As the Patriot soldiers walked through the once-thriving farming community, they saw nothing but carnage: a man weeping over the mutilated and scalped bodies of his wife and four children; other corpses with their heads crushed by tomahawks and rifle butts; charred human remains in the smoking ruins of cabins and barns. It was, Warren later wrote, “a shocking sight my eyes never beheld before of savage and brutal barbarity.” The savagery had begun early that morning, when a hundreds-strong force of Loyalist militiamen, Seneca Indians and a few British soldiers had appeared out of the fog and rain. The town and its small garrison were taken completely by surprise, and the raiders—led by Tory Captain Walter Butler and Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant—launched into an orgy of death and destruction. The fort managed to hold out, but the town and its people were defenseless. By the time the attackers withdrew, more than 30 civilians—mostly women and children—and 16 soldiers were dead and nearly 200 people left homeless. The assault soon became known as the “Cherry Valley Massacre,” and it would help convince General George Washington to launch a massive, no-holds-barred retaliatory expedition.

Captain John Barton led one of the regiments that retaliated against the British and their Indian allies. Eli’s job was to scout the countryside for the villages where these Indians were living. It is not known if he ever participated in the fighting between the two factions, or if he only pointed the way to the villages. The Indians who stood with the British generally fought alongside American and Canadian Loyalists. The most infamous band of Loyalists to utilize Indian allies was Butler’s Rangers—a partisan regiment formed in 1777 under Lt. Col. John Butler, a Tory from the Mohawk Valley. While focusing their activities on the New York and Pennsylvania settlements, Butler’s irregulars ranged as far out as Virginia and Michigan. They were extremely effective and, at times, brutal. The 1778 Wyoming and Cherry Valley massacres—the bloodiest of many border fights—were largely the work of Butler’s Rangers, together with “Cornplanter”, a Dutch-Seneca war chief and Brant’s Mohawks and Indians from other tribes. Again, it is not known if Eli actually participated in any of these events or if he just scouted out the targets of them.

Eli completed his service and returned home to North Carolina. Within a few months his older brother Ambrose was drafted to go against the Cherokees, but he was severely near-sighted. Once again Eli volunteered to serve, this time for his brother. He enlisted as a horseman. He entered the service in Wilkes County, North Carolina under Lieutenant Isbell of Wilkes. Colonel Miller of Rutherford, Colonel Joseph McDowell and General Charles McDowell of Burke rendezvoused with Isbell at Pleasant Garden, Burke County, North Carolina. They crossed the Mountain at the head of Swannanoa River, and marched forward crossing the French Broad River, the Big and Little Pigeon Rivers, and Tuckaseegee entering an Indian town called Tuckaseegee and they took the town. They then crossed the Tennessee River and headwaters of the Hiwassee River, passing through the various parts of the Cherokee Nation. They burnt down other Indian villages along the way including the Overhill Towns, the Valley towns and the Shoemake Towns and then returned home and the entire regiment was discharged at the expiration of the three months, the term for which he had entered.

Eli married Hannah Allen (1765-1845) in 1790, and they had 3 sons. Eli bought 50 acres of land in Burke County and began farming. They moved to Wayne County, Kentucky, about 1815 where he then purchased 21 acres. In 1828, they once again moved, this time to Mc Minn County, Tennessee, near his older brother Rice’s farm. Eli died on September 5, 1847, at the age of 84.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

Picture Perfect Saturday’s #26 ~ Matilda Jane Hayes



I am currently working on my Family Genealogy Group page for Facebook. In doing so I realized I have a tremendous amount of photos. I decided to feature one a week. No, not everyone is “perfect” however, they are to me!

This week I am showcasing my paternal 2nd Great Aunt Matilda Jane Hayes. She was born on October 16, 1847, in Grainger, Tennessee. At the age of 27 she married Charles Wolfe. This photo was taken on her wedding day on January 24, 1875. She looks like a very strong woman with a lot of confidence. This might be due to being part of a pioneering family. She was rugged and self-sufficient considering she was just 5 feet tall. I realize that this isn’t the most clear photo but it is the only one I have, and I love it.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

My Ancestor’s Signature #39 ~ Robert Alexander Hardin


How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

4th Great Uncle

Reverend Robert Alexander Hardin 1789-1867
From Degree of Doctor of Divinity dated 1824

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

Hometown Tuesday ~ 1816 ~ East Coast of the United States

This Hometown Tuesday blog will be a little different. Have you ever wondered why your ancestor left their home along the east Coast and moved inward into the Midwest? I have many who were farmers who just seemed, for no reason, to just pack up their families and make the long trek to western Tennessee or into Missouri. I always thought they did this because they were adventurous. Then I discovered an interesting article. It was too long to post, so I will recap it.
In the spring and summer of 1816, a persistent “dry fog” was covering parts of the eastern United States. The fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight. Nothing, not even rain or wind dispersed the “fog”. It has been characterized as a “stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil”.
The weather was not in itself a difficult for those who were used to long winters. The real problem was the weather’s effect on crops and as a result, on the supply of food and firewood. At higher elevations, where farming was a problem even in good years, the cooler climate was horrible for agriculture. The cause of all this bad weather was the eruption on Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, between April 5-15, 1815. The eruption had a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) ranking of 7. It was the world’s largest since the eruption of Paektu Mountain in 946 AD. In May 1816, frost killed off most crops in the higher elevations of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as upstate New York.
On June 6, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine. In Cape May, New Jersey, frost was reported five nights in a row in late June, causing extensive crop damage. New England also experienced major consequences from the eruption of Tambora. Though fruits and vegetable crops survived, corn was reported to have ripened so poorly that no more than a quarter of it was usable for food. This moldy and unripe harvest wasn’t even fit to feed the animals. The crop failures that ran the length of the Eastern seaboard caused the price of many staples to rise sharply.

In July and August, lake and river ice was found as far south as northwestern Pennsylvania. Frost had extended as far south as Virginia on August 20 and 21. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes going from normal or above-normal summer temperatures as high as 95 °F to near-freezing within hours.
A Norfolk, Virginia newspaper reported:
“It is now the middle of July, and we have not yet had what could properly be called summer. Easterly winds have prevailed for nearly three months past … the sun during that time has generally been obscured and the sky overcast with clouds; the air has been damp and uncomfortable, and frequently so chilling as to render the fireside a desirable retreat.”
Regional farmers were able to bring some crops to maturity, but corn and other grain prices rose dramatically. The price of oats, for example, rose from 12¢ per bushel in 1815, which is equal to $1.68 today to 92¢ per bushel in 1816 which would be $13.86 today. There was also no transportation network established in this area so it was impossible to bring any crops that had survived in other areas to this region.
High levels of tephra, which are ash particles that get ejected by a volcanic eruption, caused the atmosphere to have a haze hang over the sky for a few years after the eruption. It continued to lessen the ability of the sun to shine through this haze. With no guarantee that this disaster would quickly come to an end, thousands of people migrated west over the Appalachian Mountains into other States and/or territories. My ancestors gave up their current homes to venture out and find a new Hometown where they could prosper.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

On The Map ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #38

A couple of months ago as I was researching an ancestor for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks prompt, I discovered that I may be related to one of my favorite explorers. So, I went to work researching this new possible connection. You can imagine my excitement when I found that I was indeed related to him. He definitely put a lot of America on the map!
Meriwether Lewis, my 3rd cousin 7 times removed, was born on August 18, 1774, in Albemarle County, Virginia. At an early age his family moved to Georgia. He had no formal education until he was 13 years of age, but during his time in Georgia he enhanced his skills as a hunter and outdoors man. He would often venture out in the middle of the night in the dead of winter with only his dog to go hunting. Even at an early age, he was interested in natural history, which would develop into a lifelong passion. His mother taught him how to gather wild herbs for medicinal purposes.
In 1801, at the age of 27, Thomas Jefferson recruited Lewis as his Secretary, and he resided in the presidential mansion, and frequently conversed with various prominent figures in politics, the arts and other circles. He soon became involved in the planning of the Corps of Discovery expedition across the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1803 Congress appropriated funds for the Expedition, and Lewis was commissioned its leader. With Jefferson’s consent, Lewis offered the post of co-captain of the expedition to William Clark. The expedition took almost three years and solidified the United States’ claims to land across the continent, and acquainted the world with new species, new people and new territory.
They returned home with an immense amount of information about the region as well as numerous plant and animal specimens. Upon the Corps’ successful return, Jefferson appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory and granted him a reward of 1500 acres.
Because of this expedition, the territory beginning in my home town of Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri going Northwest through the Dakota’s, Montana, and into Oregon was mapped for future reference. Meriwether Lewis died on October 11,1809, at the Grinder House , near Nashville, Tennessee. At the age of 35, it was determined that he had committed suicide.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

My Ancestors Signature #26 ~ John Coffey

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

My 3rd Great Grandfather


John Coffey 1776-1845
From Land Sale dated 1799
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Timeand Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.