Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Abijah Rhea, Abijah Ray

My great grandfather's brother was Abijah Rhea. It is difficult finding information for him. He was born in 1836 in Hancock County, Tennessee. He was a Confederate soldier in the 29th Tennessee Infantry. On January 9, 1862, he was captured by the Union army at the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky.

This is where the water gets a little murky.

On the "Selected Records of the War Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War 1861-1865". he is listed as Abijah Ray. One has to guess that his name was listed phonetically and not as it was spelled at the time. It has the right infantry division and the right county. The time frame is correct.

However, if you search the records, there is another Abijah Ray. Without careful consideration, it is easy to confuse the two although they are related.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea was born in 1788, the son of John Elijah Rhea Sr. Joseph had a son named James Northcross Rhea born in 1816. His son is the "Other" Abijah born in 1864.

The Reverend Joseph Rhea had six siblings.

John Elijah Rhea Jr. born in 1803, married Lucy Jones and they had 11 children. My great grandfather, John Carter Rhea, was born in 1842. He married Martha Jane McCollum and they had nine children. My grandfather, William Ogden Rhea, was born in 1882. He married Mellie Farris and moved to Montana where my father was born.

The other sibling that figures into this is:

Martha Pricilla Rhea born in 1790 was also a sibling of the Reverend Joseph Rhea. She married John McCollom. They had a son in 1820 named James Northcross McColloam. The reason James Northcross McColloam figures into this mix is because he married Mary Polly Gray and they had three children. One of them, Martha Jane McCollum, married, John Carter Rhea. They were kissing cousins.

There is a pattern here. It is meant to confuse future family history researchers. Both of the siblings named their children with the same name, born 4 years apart. The McCollum's also spelled their name any way they wanted. So with two Abijah's, two James Northcross' and the McCollum's spelling, getting this right was an issue.

Thanks to Kaye for contacting me and the the rest of the Ray clan for inviting us in. With their help, I finally get all of this!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

23andMe and Ancesty DNA, trying to track down relationships

I have now done the Ancestry.com and 23andMe DNA. I had hoped it would be more helpful but has yet to meet my expectations. With that being said, it did spur me on to check for a name. Faye, a new"family" member at 23andMe, contacted me to see how we're related.

She sent me a list of family names. The only one I could find was a Collins.

Ida Belle Tyler, my 1st cousin, 2x removed, (meaning, she was the daughter of my great grandmother's sister), married Landon Haynes Collins and had one child, Robert Jesse Collins. Given the relationships, Robert is my 2nd cousin, 1x removed. None of them live in the places Faye mentioned but it didn't stop me from doing a little more research.

Landon's father was Bailey Collins, 1868 - 1897. He is related to me by marriage so that throws off the DNA as far as the Collins goes. However, doing a little more research, I discovered that Bailey Collins married Melissa Rhea. The name was familiar so I did a little more digging.

Melissa Rhea is the daughter of Samuel Rhea. Samuel Rhea is my 1st cousin, 3x removed. I had to figure this one out step by step.

John Elijah Rhea Sr married Febra Northcross. They had 7 children.

Joseph Rhea is the 1st child. He is the father of Samuel who is the father of Melissa who married Bailey Collins.  

Martha Pricilla Rhea is the 3rd child. She is my 3rd great grandmother and married John McCollom. Their son is James Northcross McCollom.

John Elijah Rhea Jr. is the 4th child. He is my 2nd great grandfather. He married Lucy Anderson and their son, John Carter Rhea married Martha Jane McCollom, the daughter of the above mentioned James Northcross McCollom.

This is where I stop because I just can't think about it anymore.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Meet Mellie Farris

Mellie Farris is my grandmother. She was a spitfire in a small body and no one messed with her. She was loving but ruled with an iron hand. This photo is probably around 1914 when she married my grandfather.


My dad, uncle, and Granny taken about 1942 in their home in Billings, Montana. 
The Granny I remember with the smile that brightened a room. 

Mellie Farris was the oldest child of Oliver Valentine Farris and Matilda Jane Pitchford. She was born in Eldon, Missouri on January 20, 1883. We have no documentation on her birth nor do we know if Mellie is her only name. On one family tree, they have her name as Mellicene but no documentation to back it up. 

Her childhood was less than ideal and I will cover that later. In the end, she created a life that suited her and I think she was quite content. To me, she was just Granny and a major part of my life. 

Changing the blog name

This started as Yeakley/Rhea, my parent's names. Then I changed it to Rhea/McCollum to add my grandpa's family. Now I see that it was wrong to begin with. I have a new blog called Yeakley/Jones which is my mom's parents. I see now it would have been more accurate to have started this one as Rhea/Farris for my grandparents. So on March 1, 2014, it will include my grandmother's Farris family too.

Genealogy is hard enough without confusing the families. Fortunately, I did the Yeakley/Jones right to start with. This blog is a hodge-podge of different families. In the beginning, I also did my husband's biological family but eventually created a website and blog for him. I switched to my great grandparents in 2013 for the Family History Writing Challenge. I have just completed the 2014 challenge and am satisfied that I now have the bones to write the story of Martha Jane McCollum.

Now that the Challenge is over, I am heading towards the Farris side of the family. I am also working on the Yeakley's on a different blog. I've spent a very long time on the Rhea's and am satisfied with what I have although I know it will never be completely done.

The Farris family, like the Yeakley's have been ignored while researching the Rhea's. On Ancestry, I have all the facts but none of the details that make them real people. It will be an interesting adventure.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 28 - Recap

Last year when I did this challenge, I wrote whatever came to mind. I wrote some things well, others were just lists.

This year, I tried to put it all in order to see if I had enough to write a short story to share with family. I have about 24000 words so I looked it up. I have too many words for a short story and too little for a novel. However, with technology, novelettes are back in favor. When Jane was living, many stories were serialized and the word count would fall between those of a story and a novel. Novelettes were very popular.

Then I went back and looked at the different days. Some have dialog and others are just stating facts. All that will need to be redone but I have something to work with. The next challenge...is it creative non-fiction or have I crossed enough lines to have to consider it historical fiction? While I would like to think of it as creative non-fiction, I already know the answer.

My goal for next year is to move on to another family line. It's time to look at Farris/Pitchford, my grandmother's side of the family. I have a second cousin making a trip to England this year to the Pitchford Castle. She will come back with lots of information to share. I also know a little bit about the Farris side and there are some interesting characters there.

The Rhea/McCollum story will continue to grow as little pieces pop up. Each new piece challenges what I thought I knew and that's what makes family history exciting.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Join me on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge - April 2014

While I finish the Family History Writing Challenge, I am getting ready for the Blogging from A - Z Challenge. If you haven't tried this one, click on the link and check it out. There is still time to sign up.

Last year I did California Destinations, picking a place for each letter of the alphabet. This year, I am attempting to do family history on the other side of the family. Since I am in the embryo stage of detailed research for the Yeakley/Jones family, this is proving to be difficult. I am writing about my aunts and uncles so we have some sort of record other than basic facts but filling in the other days is harder. To make it worse, I am also doing 52 ancestors in 52 weeks for the same family. I might have bitten off more than I can chew.

I am looking forward to the challenge. Not only does it stretch my skills as a blogger, I am looking forward to meeting new bloggers I haven't yet discovered. You should give it a try.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 27 - Martha Jane Rhea

Martha Jane McCollum died on March 22, 1929 in Sneedville, Tennessee at the age of 81. She didn’t change the world or save humanity. She was a simple, country woman who raised 9 children, 8 of them to maturity. She survived the murder of her husband and lived through all the years her father was absent.

She worked hard to make sure her family was well taken care of. By the standards of the day, she was wealthy in terms of land. She was an astute business person and increased her holdings. She was generous with what she had.

In the letters to my grandparents, she was not above bribing them to come back. However, when she talked about the people around her, she was never critical or gossipy. She reported the facts with no censure.

Her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews speak kindly of her. I am still in the process of transcribing letters sent to me by a 2nd cousin. They were written by one of her nieces and she talks a little about her aunt Jane. Her Aunt Jane is mentioned with affection, especially when she talks about the trouble she got into with Victor and the switches her mom and Aunt Jane always had on hand.



My grandfather was a kind man. Sheldon tells us that his grandfather, Victor, was a good grandpa. These are the children she raised. Education was important to Jane. Her children could all read and write. In small communities in the Appalachian Mountains, education was not always a goal, survival was.

She loved her grandchildren and when she was talking about Jewelle, there was affection and humor. I don’t have a picture of her smiling but it appears in the tone of the letter.


I am never going to know this woman as I would like but have a pretty good idea who she was. Someday, I believe she and I will meet and have a lot to talk about.

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