Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Getting Back To Those Ancestors
You may have noticed a strange lack of activity here at the headquarters of Ellie's Ancestors. The upstate New York weather finally got the best of my husband and myself and we left for warmer climes. It's amazing what some time at the beach will do to restore a person. And we even missed what I sincerely hope will be the last major snow storm of this wretched winter!
Rest assured the staff did not completely eschew genealogy, in fact I even attempted to get a blog out but the hotel's wi-fi connection was dismal so I finally gave up. However, as it happens we were staying within 30 miles of my husband's ancestral roots. His family owned a small plantation on Catfish Creek, (don't you love it?), and we spent some time prowling that area. Unfortunately, no trace of the place remains. We couldn't even find a foundation, not that we looked all that hard--there are snakes and bugs and alligators in the area, and wading through a vermin infested swamp is too much even for me. We did speak with the Marion County historian who told us the whole area had been bulldozed years ago. Even the cemetery was dozed into the swamp! That horrified me. I think it may have been a small family cemetery and no family members were left in the area to protest. Most of them appear to have left after the Civil War, (they were on the Confederate side), and headed to the southwest where my husband was born.
The plantation owner was my husband's 4th great-grandfather Willis "Cornmaker" Finklea, who was born around 1785. I don't know if that nickname means he grew corn, or my husband's interpretation--he made corn whiskey. It's certainly possible ole' Willis had a still running out there on the creek. The historian also told us that Willis donated land for a church called "Ebeneezer Church". That was easy to find, but there was only one Finklea stone in the graveyard, that of Martha, daughter of Willis. That lack of Finklea stones further leads me to believe the rest of the family now rests in the swamp.
I think Willis must have been fairly prosperous, poor men don't donate pieces of land, and the inventory of his estate done at the time of his death in 1842 mentioned eleven slaves. Since Willis died before the war began, at least he wasn't forced to witness the decline in the family fortunes in it's aftermath. I think I need to spend some time looking into this family, there are many unanswered questions, and not alot of sources to check; things like hurricanes and floods may have something to do with that, I'm thinking.