Virginia Memory – Chancery Database

It has been quite a while since I last blogged here. I have many other projects and activities going on. First, I was in Minnesota visiting my mother. I put together many questions and recorded about 4 hours of material, about one hour per session four of the 11 days I was there. I have a project to transcribe the information there and include in my personal tree.

I also did DNA tests for both my mother and me and sent them in to 23 and Me. The great thing about doing both of us is that any relationship matches for me alone must come from my unknown father’s side and any that match on both of us must come from her side. I have also been spending quite a bit of time working on a Burlison line out of Oklahoma for a friend.  I’ve had many interesting findings there as I’ve begun plucking lots of “low hanging fruit.”

I subscribe to many genealogy blogs. One of them is the “Search Tip of the Day – Almost Every Day.”  Michael John Neill’s May 31st blog reminded me about the Virginia Memory site, which is wonderful. He reminded me of the Chancery records there. There are over 220,000 cases indexed in the Chancery database and nearly 5.6 million images of Chancery causes available online. I’m back working on the Howell line, so I thought; I’ve got a couple difficult research areas. I’ll see if maybe I can find something in the Chancery records. 
A quick search for Howell yielded a case between JOHN P WILLIAMS and the administrator of the JOHN P PRICE estate. The case involves 90 pages of documents including a deposition by Peter Howell. It is always wonderful to find a document in an ancestor’s own hand with a signature. His deposition didn’t tell me anything new; Peter lived in Buckingham County in both 1830 (date of the event he wrote about) and 1938 (date of the litigation). However, it does indicate he knew both John Williams and John Price, which may be useful later. There are also many references to Mrs. Pankey who is probably Peter’s wife’s mother; (her father died  about 1829). There are also several references to Holman/Holeman. Peter’s half sister married a Holman about 1819-1820 and there are several Holman’s in Cumberland County during that period. I still need to go through all the documents with a fine tooth comb and see what I can find out about Holman’s as possible. The database includes so many records for Howell, Pankey, and Holman that I should eventually be able to make some new determinations and connections. Just the Chancery records at the Virginia Memory site should keep me busy for days. 

The Life and Travels of Peter Howell by Himself

This week I began research on the Howell Family Tree (my wife’s).  I had very little on her grandfather, a bit more on his father (who was in the Civil War) and very little about his father Peter Howell.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turned out, her grandfather, went by his initials most of the time. I knew he was a Baptist preacher in North Carolina. So I started searching Baptist records in North Carolina just searching for “Howell” and not his first name, nor his initials, just “Howell.”  Suddenly a WOW!  Up popped a book, “The Life and Travels of Peter Howell”.  My wife’s great and her 2nd great grandfathers were both named Peter Howell.  Could this be the same Peter Howell.  Found the book was at a library in Raleigh reference section.  I then searched around for the title elsewhere and found it at archive.org, which is a must site for your searches.  I downloaded the files and began to read.  It was the right one, born 1805, married to Caroline Pankey, lived in Virginia…. it was the right Peter Howell.

The first page was a bit of a disappointment, he mentions his birthdate (which we didn’t have before) but not his parent’s names.  He spent his adult life as an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town preaching in people’s homes, at court houses, at Methodist and Baptist churches, even on occasion at quaker meeting halls, masonic temples and a Catholic Church. He walked almost everywhere putting on over two thousand miles walking in one year preaching at hundreds of places.  He describes town, buildings, such as the Virginia and North Carolina State Houses, as well as places like Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.  He mentions churches,  and most importantly people throughout his travels. Sadly, he mentions very little about his personal life or his family, but the book does provide a wonderful insight into the life of a itinerate preacher of the 1840’s.

He seldom ever mentions his two daughters.  He does correct one name Lousianna (I had Laurana previously) but never mentions the name of his second son nor his second daughter. He confirmed the name of his first son and, in the book, corrects the name I had for his youngest child.  More importantly, he provides county information for his parents, marriage information for a sister, and the names and living locations for a couple brothers that I had no information about.

It took many hours to go through the book, determine genealogically interesting information, and incorporate them and the source references into my tree.  

Of course one of the greatest finds in the book was a drawing of the author, Peter Howell (b. 1805).