Jun 232022
 

Originally published in Louisville Genealogy Society Quarterly Newsletter, Lines-and-By-Lines (Volume XXXVII, No. 2, Summer 2022)

My home state of Illinois has a “Prairie Pioneer Certificates program”. This program started by The Illinois State Genealogical Society during the Bicentennial honors those who contributed to Illinois’s rich history. The first certificate was issued in 1982, and now over 3,000 certificates have been issued to descendants of Illinois Pioneers.

There are three categories of certificates. The first category is for descendants of pioneers that came to Illinois Pre-statehood (prior to 03 December 1818). These certificates have a Golf Seal with Ribbon. The second category for descendants of pioneers that arrived in Illinois between 04 December 1818 and 31 December 1850. These certificates are issued with a Gold Seal. The third category is for descendants of settlers that arrived in Illinois between 1 January 1851 and 31 December 1880. These certificates have an Embossed Seal.

Applicants are required to complete a Straight-Line lineage chart, with documentation proving the bloodline for each generation. There is a $20 application fee, and the certificates are mailed once the lineage is verified.

I submitted an application for my ancestor Josiah Andrews. He came to Jasper County , Illinois from Green County, Ohio in 1842. I just recently received my Gold Seal Prairie Pioneer certificate for my Illinois Prairie Pioneer, Josiah Andrews. Additionally my ancestor received shout-out on the Illinois State Genealogical Society Website.

For more information on the Prairie Pioneers certificate program, visit the Illinois State Genealogical Society website.

May 262022
 

Originally published in Louisville -Thurston Chapter newsletter The Long Rifleman (Volume 13, Issue 5, May 2022) [1]https://louthrustonsar.org/…/L.T._May_2022_Newsletter.pdf

James Devlin born 10 July 1750 in Ulster, Ireland [2]Most DAR and SAR applications (including my own application) show James Devlin as being born in South Carolina.  This biography cites township records that show he emigrated from Northern … Continue reading, immigrated to South Carolina in 1767 as a result of legislation passed by the South Carolina legislature to attract poor Protestants to their colony.

Colonial South Carolina realized early on that it needed to attract new settlers to keep the colony afloat.  In July of 1761, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the General Duty Act to entice Protestants from Europe to settle in the colony. [3]Phil Norfleet, “Incentives for Migration to South Carolina Before the Revolution”, South Carolina Loyalist and Rebels ,( http://sc_tories.tripod.com/migration_to_sc_before_the_revolution.htm : … Continue reading  This 1761 Act paid ship owners a bounty of four pounds sterling for every poor protestant that they brought to South Carolina from Europe.

As a result of this legislation, merchants recruited Protestants from Europe to collect the bounty.  Captain Samuel Hannah, and William Ray, one of the owners of an 80 ton merchant ship called the Nancy, traveled all over Northern Europe to find prospective passengers in order to collect the bounty. A ship the size of the Nancy could have comfortably carried 80 adult passengers. The owners misrepresented the size of the ship, and James Devlin was among 290 passengers crammed into the vessel for the nearly two month long voyage from Belfast, Ireland to Charleston, South Carolina.  When the Nancy arrived in port on 5 June 1767, many of the passengers were sick and dying. [4]Richard MacMaster, “They Came Through Charleston” ,  Ulster Roots August-September 2002 ( https://www.electricscotland.com/familytree/magazine/augsep2002/ulster_roots.htm : accessed 11 March … Continue reading

After James arrived in Charleston, James and the other healthy [5]The South Carolina Council Journals only record the names of 112 passengers that arrived on the Nancy. passengers traveled nearly 200 miles to the township of Boonesborough,[6]Boonesborough  was located in present-day Greenwood County; “Boonesborough Township, South Carolina”, Carolina – One unique vision! Two very different results !!,  (  … Continue reading so the merchants could claim their bounty.[7]J.A. Revill, Compilation of the original lists of the Protestant immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773. (Columbia, S.C.: The State company,1939 ); James had to produce a certificate showing that he was a member of a protestant congregation and had arrived on the encouragement of a bounty.  In return he was given 100 acres along Long Cane Creek.[8][1] South Carolina Department of Archives and History, “Foster, Samuel, Plat for 100 acres on Long Cane Creek”, Series S213184, Volume 15, Page 197, Item 3. (https://archivesindex.sc.gov : … Continue reading

After settling in Boonesborough James married Margaret Ann Gray.  Margaret was also an immigrant from Ireland.  She came to South Carolina aboard the Earl of Hillsborough a few months before James.

   Military Service

James had lived in the colony of South Carolina for nearly eight years when the battles of Lexington and Concord commenced on 19 April 1775.   Many Scotch-Irish in South Carolina who arrived shortly before the start of the Revolution remained loyal to the crown.[9]Peter N. Moore , “The Local Origins of Allegiance in Revolutionary South Carolina: The Waxhaws as a Case Study”, South Carolina Historical Magazine ,vol 107, no 1, (Jan 2006): 26–41   There was no question about James’ allegiance to colonial America.  Three months after the first shots were fired,   James dutifully enlisted as a private in the 3rd Regiment of the Continental Army.  He served in Captain Felix Warley’s company, which was commanded by Colonel William Moultrie.[10]Bobby Gilmer Moss, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, vol. 1 (Genealogical Publishing, 2006).

Under the command of Colonel William Moultrie, James Devlin fought at the battle of Sullivan’s Island.   It was during this battle that the enemy shot down the fort’s flag.  James witnessed Sergeant William Jasper heroically restore the flag under enemy fire. [11]Battle of Sullivan’s island (U.S. national park service).” NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service), https://www.nps.gov/articles/battle-of-sullivan-s-island.htm ; Accessed 12 Mar. … Continue reading

After serving three years, James was discharged from the Continental Army on August 14, 1778 at Charleston, SC.    Three months later, in November of 1778, he joined the militia under the command of General Pickens.

Bounty Land Warrant and Pension

On 26 August 1818, James applied for a pension under the pension act which was passed by congress 18 March 1818.  He was awarded $8 a month for a sum of $96 per year.[12]The Pension Roll of 1835, Indexed edition, vol. 3: The Southern States (Clearfield, 1992).

James received a bounty land warrant of 200 acre for his service in the Revolutionary war.  However, the bounty that was given to him was for land that was previously granted. After a lengthy and costly legal process, the bounty was revoked.[13]South Carolina Archives,” Devlin, James, Account Audited (File No. 1900C) Of Claims Growing Out Of The American Revolution. Date: 1776 C. or later”,Series S108092 , Reel 33 Frame 588.

Death and Burial

James died 26 November 1825 at the age of 75 years old.   His estate was settled at the Abbeville Courthouse in January of 1826.    James Devlin, John Devlin, and Jannet Devlin (window of Charles Devlin) were named in the court proceedings.[14]Miscellaneous Estate Papers (Abbeville County, South Carolina), 1782-1958; Author: South Carolina. Probate Court (Abbeville County); Probate Place: Abbeville, South Carolina Descendants from all three of these have joined the SAR or DAR. 

James was buried in the church graveyard at Cedar Springs.   His son, Col James J. Devlin erected a headstone, which reads as follows:

Sacred to the memory of James Devlin, who died in 1825.  He was a patriot of the Revolution and fought under Col. Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island and the defeat of Peter Parker and saw Jasper replace the flag amidst the thunders of British guns.  He was among the first in the erection of Cedar Springs Church, where his dust now lies. [15]Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 12 March 2022), memorial 43161230, James Devlin, (1750-1825), gravestone photographed by D.A.R., member 47391530.

References

References
1 https://louthrustonsar.org/…/L.T._May_2022_Newsletter.pdf
2 Most DAR and SAR applications (including my own application) show James Devlin as being born in South Carolina.  This biography cites township records that show he emigrated from Northern Ireland.
3 Phil Norfleet, “Incentives for Migration to South Carolina Before the Revolution”, South Carolina Loyalist and Rebels ,( http://sc_tories.tripod.com/migration_to_sc_before_the_revolution.htm : accessed 11 March 2022).
4 Richard MacMaster, “They Came Through Charleston” ,  Ulster Roots August-September 2002 ( https://www.electricscotland.com/familytree/magazine/augsep2002/ulster_roots.htm : accessed 11 March 2022).
5 The South Carolina Council Journals only record the names of 112 passengers that arrived on the Nancy.
6 Boonesborough  was located in present-day Greenwood County; “Boonesborough Township, South Carolina”, Carolina – One unique vision! Two very different results !!,  (  https://www.carolana.com/SC/Towns/Boonesborough_Township_SC.html  :accessed 11 March 2022.
7 J.A. Revill, Compilation of the original lists of the Protestant immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773. (Columbia, S.C.: The State company,1939 );
8 [1] South Carolina Department of Archives and History, “Foster, Samuel, Plat for 100 acres on Long Cane Creek”, Series S213184, Volume 15, Page 197, Item 3. (https://archivesindex.sc.gov : accessed 12 March 2022) ; Brent Holcomb, Petitions For Land From The South Carolina Journals, VolumeVI:1766-1770 (SCMAR, 1999), pages 86-93, 166-167
9 Peter N. Moore , “The Local Origins of Allegiance in Revolutionary South Carolina: The Waxhaws as a Case Study”, South Carolina Historical Magazine ,vol 107, no 1, (Jan 2006): 26–41
10 Bobby Gilmer Moss, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, vol. 1 (Genealogical Publishing, 2006).
11 Battle of Sullivan’s island (U.S. national park service).” NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service), https://www.nps.gov/articles/battle-of-sullivan-s-island.htm ; Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.
12 The Pension Roll of 1835, Indexed edition, vol. 3: The Southern States (Clearfield, 1992).
13 South Carolina Archives,” Devlin, James, Account Audited (File No. 1900C) Of Claims Growing Out Of The American Revolution. Date: 1776 C. or later”,Series S108092 , Reel 33 Frame 588.
14 Miscellaneous Estate Papers (Abbeville County, South Carolina), 1782-1958; Author: South Carolina. Probate Court (Abbeville County); Probate Place: Abbeville, South Carolina
15 Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 12 March 2022), memorial 43161230, James Devlin, (1750-1825), gravestone photographed by D.A.R., member 47391530.
Apr 112022
 

Originally published in Family Tree Magazine, December 2006.

My great-great Uncle Bennett Hopper left Jasper County, Illinois for California.  Grandmother said he got into a dispute with the family, and told them to just send a postcard if anyone died.  That is all I knew about the mysterious great Uncle Ben until recently.

 While researching the Hopper family online, I found my great-grandparents in the Champaign County (IL) Historical and Genealogical index, so I ordered a copy of the record.    I received it along with a note from librarian Rosemary Raeske.

She wrote, “Sometimes here in the archives we talk about the ‘spirits,'” and explained that the same day she handled my request, she also was researching a newspaper article about an Abraham Lincoln historical marker. She put a microfilm roll of the 1921 Urbana Courier on the film reader and started scrolling through that, but a small article caught her eye. She included it in my packet [1]That news story can be viewed here: https://americankindred.com/showmedia.php?mediaID=122&medialinkID=335. The article said Mrs. Addie Hopper sued Bennett Hopper for divorce, charging infidelity and desertion — her husband had run away with another woman. Mrs. Hopper alleged Bennett Hopper and the woman lived together in Stephenson County, IL for several years, then “left together for parts unknown.” That would certainly explain his dispute with the rest of the Hopper family.

-Drake

I was reminded of this story while reviewing the lineage of a prospective SAR member this past weekend. His 2nd great grandmother died and was buried in Kentucky. He showed that her husband died a few years earlier , and was buried in Texas — next to another woman. I thought he had the wrong spouse attached to his 2nd great grandmother. However, a link to a news story on Find a Grave​ explained everything. The husband deserted his family, and ran off to Texas with anther woman.

References

References
1 That news story can be viewed here: https://americankindred.com/showmedia.php?mediaID=122&medialinkID=335
Nov 172021
 

During the lockdown of the pandemic, I decided to complete my goal of documenting Revolutionary War Patriots for all four of my grandparents. While researching ,  I reviewed DNA matches on Ancestry.com for clues.  A   ThruLines match to Elkanah  Gustin born  in 1774 I caught my attention.   I looked him up on the DAR descendant’s database and found that he descended from American Revolutionary War patriots   George Morris and   John Corbley. 

I downloaded the DAR application to see if there were any sources that would help me in preparing an SAR supplemental application.    Imagine my excitement when I found a reference to the DAR manuscript:  Elkanah F. Gustin, descendant of Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller, compiled by Katherine Dearing.  I found a potential link back 400 years to the Mayflower, and I wasn’t even looking!

 I joined a Facebook group for tips on navigating the process of documenting an application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.   I soon learned that many of the Mayflower descendants were connected to more than one passenger.  I began researching more, and with the help of website https://www.relativefinder.org/ found a link to Governor William Bradford.  This really peaked my interest because this line shared the last seven generations of one of my recently approved SAR supplemental applications. 

I worked with   Evelyn Chase ZonderDek, Historian for the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to help me prepare the application.  She found additional proof documents, and wrote a convincing proof analysis summarizing the genealogical evidence.  We submitted the application for William Bradford to Plymouth in March of 2021.  I waited patiently, and received notice from Evelyn that my application was approved on 12 November 2021!  I am officially a Mayflower Descendant!   Governor William Bradford is my 9th great grandfather.

 I also tried Relative Finder with Becky, and it shows she is a direct descendant of Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke, Richard Warren, and William Brewster.   These all go through her paternal grandmother Alberta (Goodman) Vertrees.   I have started gathering some of the proof documents for William Brewster.  If any Vertrees/Goodman kinfolk want to help, please let me know!

Nov 012021
 

During the summer of 2001, I was covered by Anthem health insurance, provided by my employer AdWare Systems, Inc.. At the time, Anthem was a mutual insurance company, meaning the company was owned by its members. This all changed , as the company went through a demutualization in November of 2001.

As part of the the demutualization process, I had to make a decision if I wanted stock or cash.

As compensation for the conversion, I was offered either cash or 25 shares of the newly formed WellPoint (NYSE:WLP).

How has this stock performed during the last twenty years?

WLP ended up having a starting price of about $42.00/share. However, if you look for WellPoint on the New York Stock Exchange today, you won’t find it. In December 2014, WellPoint changed their name back to Anthem, and the stock now trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ANTM. Also worth noting is that in June of 2005, there was a 2:1 stock split. The adjusted starting point for someone receiving an initial 25 shares would be 50 shares at price of $21.61/share.

DateSharesPrice/ShareValue
Nov 1, 20015021.611080.50
Nov 1, 20065064.313215.50
Nov 1, 20115060.623031.00
Nov 1, 201650134.026701.00
Nov 1, 202150428.7621,438.00

 Posted by at 7:11 pm
Sep 272021
 

David W. Noel of Cumberland County, Illinois died of a pistol shot in May of 1880. [1]National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-population Census Schedules for Illinois, 1850-1880; Archive Collection: T1133; Archive Roll Number: 62; Census Year: 1880; … Continue reading David was twenty-eight years old, and a newlywed at the time of his death, He married Emma A. Larken (daughter of Sanford Larken and Mary Palmen) on August 3, 1879 in Effingham County, Illinois. [2]Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1783-1900.

This didn’t happen in the Old West. This was in the heart of the Midwest – Effingham, Illinois. I am not related to David Noel. I was “introduced” to David through his widow Emma A. Larken. She moved on with her life, and three years later married William Brack Tinnea on July 11, 1883 in Effingham County, Illinois.[3]Effingham County, Illinois Marriages, Volume 1: Page Number 85, License Number 1192, Illinois Regional Archives, Charleston, Illinois

William Brack Tinnea was my grandfather’s uncle. [4]William Brack Tinnea was the half brother of Eva Bell Tinnea, the mother of Donald William Hopper. David Noel wasn’t the only husband Emma buried, or the only heartache she suffered .. but that is a story for another day.

References

References
1 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-population Census Schedules for Illinois, 1850-1880; Archive Collection: T1133; Archive Roll Number: 62; Census Year: 1880; Census Place: Spring Point, Cumberland, Illinois
2 Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1783-1900
3 Effingham County, Illinois Marriages, Volume 1: Page Number 85, License Number 1192, Illinois Regional Archives, Charleston, Illinois
4 William Brack Tinnea was the half brother of Eva Bell Tinnea, the mother of Donald William Hopper
Aug 092021
 

Last year we went to New York City for our Valentine Anniversary. I decided to pick somewhere warmer this year. San Antonio seemed like a great choice. I read that “The best time to visit San Antonio is from November to April, when the weather is comfortable and the hotel rates are lower.” February seemed like a good time to visit!

DAY 1 Saturday February 13, 2021 (Travel day – Louisville to San Antonio to Corpus Christie)

We left Louisville at 6am, with a flight to Chicago Midway. After a short layover, it was on to San Antonio. We arrived in San Antonio on time, picked up our rental car, and headed to Corpus Christie for a couple of days. Everything was going according to plan.

Some of the possible activities in San Antonio included visiting the USS Lexington, The Texas State Aquarium, and Snoopy’s Pier. After a nice dinner at Rudy’s BBQ, I checked the website for the hours of the USS Lexington. It stated that it would open at 9am Sunday, and would be closing at 4pm, and remain closed on Monday due to inclement weather . That set our agenda for the next couple of days. If we wanted to visit the USS Lexington (or aquarium), we would have to do it on Sunday.

Day 2 Sunday February 14, 2021 (Corpus Christie)

After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we decided to head to the USS Lexington. It was a brisk walk up the “gangplank”. We started the tour by heading to the theater, and watching a movie about Aircraft carriers. We then took the longest tour that led us through the dining facility, chapel , dental clinic, women’s birthing area, machine shop, and several other areas.

After the tour, we thought about heading directly to Snoopy’s pier, but decided to wait a while , since we were still satisfied from breakfast.

After relaxing in the hotel for a while, we headed to Snoopy’s Pier. We pulled into the parking lot, and while trying to figure out which door was the entrance, a man came out to our car to greet us. He informed us they were getting ready to close. He said that some of his employees had a long drive, and he needed to get them home before that bad weather hit. (which was supposed to start around 6pm). We were disappointed , as we had already looked over their menu. Fortunately Doc’s Seafood was next door , which also came highly recommended. We enjoyed our dinner at Doc’s Seafood restaurant. Little did we know that it would be a few days before we would have another sit-down meal.

As we were leaving the restaurant, the employees were busy spreading salt on the walkway leading into the restaurant.

Day 3 Monday February 15, 2021 (Corpus Christie to San Antonio)

Waking up in Corpus Christie Monday morning, it was cold and icy. The car was iced over, and of course we did not have an ice scraper. Originally we thought we could spend the better part of the day in Corpus Christie, and then head to San Antonio later in the day. However, with the weather, we decided to head back to San Antonio after breakfast.

The GPS directions told us to get highway 358 to interstate 37 to get back to San Antonio. Unfortunately, all the ramps to 358 near our hotel were closed. I sent a text to a friend that lives in Corpus Christie for suggestions for an alternate route. She sent me a hurricane evacuation map , and made alternate suggestions. So we finally found an alternate route to interstate 37, only to find that the ramps to interstate 37 were closed too! We had to continue to take back roads, finally able to pick up 37 around Mathis. The two hour drive back to San Antonio took over four hours!

We checked into the Embassy Suites San Antonio River Walk . While checking in they informed us that they would be offering a complementary meal during the evening reception because all the restaurants in the area were closed. Kudos to the Embassy Suites!!

Day 4 Tuesday February 16, 2021 (San Antonio)

Tuesday was another cold day in San Antonio. The Alamo was closed as most of the local downtown restaurants. I made reservations for Wednesday, with hopes the Alamo would open back up. We spent most of the day enjoying our nice cozy hotel room, and the premium movie channels. The Embassy Suites provided another hot entrée during the evening reception.

Day 5 Wednesday February 17, 2021

We were notified my email that the Alamo was closed again (It didn’t open back up until Saturday).

notification that Alamo would be closed

The temperature was above freezing, so we decided to make the half mile walk from our hotel to the Alamo. We figured if we could not go inside, at least we could see it from the outside. It was as nice walk, however many of the sidewalks were very icy. We really had to watch our steps.

We were really wanting to try a good Tex-Mex restaurant. The hotel provided a list of nearby restaurants, and The Iron Cactus was recommended. Becky saw that restaurant when searching for ones that served stuff avocados. Unfortunately, the Iron Cactus, and most other downtown restaurants were still closed. We decided we would find another Tex-Mex restaurant, away from downtown, and would just drive there.

Before going to dinner , I received a text that our flight for Thursday had been changed. I noticed the new time was 8am, and thought so much for sleeping in on our last day. Becky looked at her Southwest app, and it was not 8am for Thursday. It was 8am for Sunday! They cancelled our flight, and rebooked us for three days later! We decided to go eat dinner, and deal with our flight home later.

We went to eat at Esmeralda’s Mexican Restaurant. The place received really good reviews even though the place didn’t have much curb appeal. It must have been a local favorite, as the drive through was lined up.

When the waitress came to our table, she informed us they were out of chips. We both thought she said they were making more, but we might have misunderstood her. She never did bring us any chips, and we noticed that other customers did not receive any chips either. The food was decent, even though the service was lacking. We had to unlock the door and let ourselves out when we left. They had already locked the door, and were closing early.

When we returned to our hotel, we had a decision to make about our return trip home. We figured we had three choices. 1) Keep the flight change, and stay in San Antonio until Sunday 2) Forget about flying home, and drive the rental car home 3) Find an alternate flight.

We really did not want to stay in San Antonio three more days. I already looked at the weather forecast, and anticipated that the weather would have only cooperated for one day. The Alamo had already made decision to close again for the following day. I also was not too thrilled about the idea of driving straight home, because I was not sure how good the weather would be along the route home. That left trying to switch the flight.

I was on hold with Southwest for over two hours. While waiting on hold , we started packing up everything , with the anticipation that we would be leaving soon. We also started checking on flights ourselves. We found a couple of alternate flights leaving on Thursday — from Dallas, a four hour drive from San Antonio. The customer service representative from Southwest wasn’t much help. She checked San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, and could not find us an alternate flight before Sunday. We asked about the flight from Dallas, and she was able to book that flight .. . with an upgrade charge (which was later reversed).

We were packed up , and ready to leave by the time I hung up with Southwest. Our trip home would consist of three legs , drive to Dallas, flight from Dallas to Orlando, Flight from Orlando to Louisville.

Homeward Bound

We left San Antonio by 6;30pm, and the GPS estimated arrival time had us getting to Dallas by 11pm. Unfortunately, the estimated arrival time started to slip rather quickly. Every time the directions had us merging from the frontage road to the highway, the on ramp was closed . We kept going further down, until we ran out of frontage road. Finally we turned around went the opposite direction. We were finally able to find an on ramp, but we wasted an hour trying to get out of town.

Once we finally got on the right road, we started making fairly good time . I was thinking once we made it to Dallas, it would only be another 12 hours of driving time. We could just drive all night , and head on home.

It didn’t take long for me put away thoughts of driving all the way home . The roads started to deteriorate before we hit Austin. There were some sections we could not drive any faster than 20 mph. I went from thinking we were going to drive all night to get home to wondering if we were even going to make it to Dallas in time to catch our flight. Our flight was at 9:50am. I figured we needed to be at the airport no later than 8am to drop off our car, and get checked in.

There was one point during our trip that we were at a complete stand still on the interstate. A semi-truck driver that was in front of me got out of his vehicle, and asked me if I could go around him. He said he was stuck, and wanted to try backing up. We saw several other vehicles sitting and spinning as well. Our Nissan Rogue Sport that we rented handled quite well in the ice. We were able to maneuver round him, and continue on our journey.,

Fortunately, the roads improved somewhat the closer we got to Dallas. We ended up returning the rental car around 07:30 that morning. By the time we checked our luggage, and made it through security we had about half an hour to spare!!

Jul 282021
 

Meet Drake Andrews. He was born in Effingham Illinois , the 2nd son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Andrews. Drake was named after his Dad’s nephews Drake and William. Drake went to church, played little league, attended school, and made friends.

Drake Andrews with his Kindergarten class celebrating Buffalo Bill’s birthday

He attended elementary school at Westfield elementary from Kindergarten through the 4th grade. There is no record of this Drake Andrews past the 4th grade. You won’t find where Drake Andrews graduated from high school, joined the military, married, or had children of his own. After the 4th grade, the paper trail for Drake Andrews goes cold.

Drake Andrew’s 1st grade report card

Welcome to the Witness Protect Program

What happened was that Drake changed his name, move to another city, and began to make new friends under his new identity. His life as Drake Andrews ceased to exist. Drake had joined the Witness Protection Program. At least that is how it felt to Drake.

I should know, because this is my story.

My parents divorced when I was just a toddler. We moved to Westfield, Illinois, where my mother was an English teacher at Westfield High School. That is where she met Mr. Rinesmith, the new music teacher. They started dating, fell in love, and got married. He was the true love of her life. When I was in the 4th grade, my new step-father adopted my brother and me. We moved three times over the course of the next three years. With each move I started a new school , and made new friends with my new identity. They worked very hard to quell any notion that we were a blended family. They were very upset when our school records were transferred to our first new school with the Andrews name . That did not fit the narrative. In retrospect, I believe that changing jobs, and moving to another city suited them, as it allowed them to shape their own narrative.

Reestablished Links

With the adoption , a new branch was grafted into my family tree. This new branch is my family, and I was shaped by this new branch. This branch is a part of who I am today.

I knew very little about my biological father, and his family. I remember getting letters/gifts from him and my aunts up until the adoption. I completely lost contact with that side of the family after entering the “Witness Protection Program“. And just like those that were adopted at birth, I wanted to reestablish that connection, because I didn’t know my entire history.

I completely understand adoptees that seek out to learn about their birth parents. This does not have a correlation to how much love, affection, and opportunities they received from their adopted families. It’s because they want to know their whole story. The adopted child gains a whole new family, and yet at the same time loses the connection to their biological family. When adoption records are sealed , a part of the adoptee’s history is lost.

With a combination of detective work, and luck, I was able to reconnected with the Andrews side in 1996 , after the death of my adoptive father. I wrote an article about it , which was published in Heritage Quest magazine in 1998: https://www.americankindred.com/showmedia.php?mediaID=338

As follow up to the 1998 article, in 2010 , I met my namesake Drake and his wife Becky (We both married a Becky)! They stopped in Kentucky during a cross country RV trip . We planned to visit them in Washington State last year, but had to cancel our trip because of the pandemic.

West Coast Drake & Becky meet Kentucky Drake & Becky in 2010

I believe that each one us is shaped by nature as well as nurture. We are a combination of genetic inheritance, as well as our environment. While I am no longer legally known as Drake Andrews, I will forever be an Andrews. It’s in my DNA.

Jan 222021
 

This was shared on Facebook in November of 2020. Earlier this year I posted about how my great-grandmother , and her infant son died during the 1918 flu pandemic. My great grandmother left a paper trail. I found three year old Emma living with her parents and twin cousins in La Grue Arkansas in 1900. I found her in 1910 living with her Mother, Aunt, Step-Father, and half-siblings. I found where she was married to my great-grandfather in 1915. I found the funeral home records where she died in 1918, which even listed where she was buried.

My grandmother’s baby brother never even lived long enough to be counted in a census. There was no official record of his life. There was just a pair of shoes my grandmother kept commemorating his life, and the story she passed down.

This week a hint popped up on Ancestry from Arkansas birth records 1914-1917, I clicked on the hint and lo and behold – there he was James Carlise McWilliams born March 24, 1918. He was just a few months old when the pandemic claimed his life.

May 142020
 

When discussing COVID-19, comparisons are always made to the Spanish-Influenza epidemic of 1918. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear loves to show a slide depicting the effect of social distancing on the death rate in St. Louis compared to Philadelphia during the 1918 epidemic. When the 1918 flu epidemic is mentioned, I always think of Emma Merritt, Emma was born in Arkansas in 1897. She married James McWilliams in 1915. They had two children, Dorothy, and James junior. Emma was only 21 years old when she and her infant son died on October 29, 1918 of pneumonia. It was bacterial pneumonia that caused most deaths during 1918 flu epidemic. Emma was my great grandmother.That historical event had an impact on my grandmother’s life. Her father didn’t want the responsibility of raising a daughter alone. He took my grandmother to live with her maternal grandparents in Illinois, where she spent the rest of her life.I certainly think it is sad that my great grandmother died of such a young age. It is sad that my grandmother never knew her parents. But yet I believe everything happens for a reason. Because of what happened, my grandmother moved to Illinois where she met my grandfather. I am who I am because what happened back in 1918. God is in control!