Digital North Carolina & George Hobbs

When I begin a deep dive on individuals in North Carolina, “Digital North Carolina” is the place that I go. It is one of the best websites that I know of for North Carolina information. The site contains North Carolina specific yearbooks, newspapers, city directories, images and other digital records.

George W. Hobbs (1805-1858) – York Rite Mason

George W. Hobbs is an ancestor that I’ve had difficulty finding his vital data. I’ve long wondered what his death date is. I have been unable to find George in the 1860 Census, although I have found his children dispersed around the country. I do see him enumerated in the 1850 Census, so I’ve long believed that he died sometime between 1850 and 1860.  I was wondering if Digital North Carolina could help me pinpoint George’s death.

I searched for George Hobbs and received 477 results in Digital Content and another 75 hits in Newspapers. The system provides the 20 most relevant but I wanted to focus a bit more on my George.  Although it is counter-intuitive, if you select “View Entire Result Set.” At the top of the new page is an option for Advanced Search (you don’t see the Advanced Search before then). From the Advanced search page I entered to search for the exact phrase “George Hobbs” and received 12 results; a much more manageable number.  Most of the results were Masonic documents.

Symbol of Royal Arch Masons
(York Rite)

There were several “Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the Ancient York Masons.” Through them, I was able to follow much of George Hobbs’s Masonic Life. I saw him first as a member Orr Lodge, No 104 in Washington, in 1840 and saw him as a member there for several years. Then I found him as a member of the Ancient York Masons, Conoho Lodge, No. 131, in Hamilton. His participation continues with the Conoho Lodge through June 1858. Beginning in 1959 Conoho Lodge failed to submit their annual “return” to the Grand Lodge. I noted they failed to return their information in 1859 and 1860. There were no returns during the Civil War. In 1867, the Conoho Lodge was suspended by the Grand Lodge.

No, the Digital North Carolina records found didn’t answer my question fully about when George Hobbs died, however, it did provide valuable information.  I know he was alive when the Conoho Lodge submitted it membership information in June, 1858, which places his death between June 1858 and May 1860. George doesn’t show up in the 1860 Mortality Schedule, so that suggests he died between June 1858 and June 1859.

More importantly, the Digital North Carolina records provided a much clearer of his interests. He was a Mason while he lived in Washington, Beauford County, North Carolina.  He maintained his Masonic activities after he moved to Hamilton, Martin County, North Carolina. I also saw learned he had been a Senior Warden and was a member of the York Rite.

Digital North Carolina is on my list of “must-visit” sites whenever I am researching North Carolina ancestors; I hope you add it to your list too.

North Carolina

Digital North Carolina Yearbooks, Newspapers, Images, Memorabilia, City Directories and more.  

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Half-Sisters – Part 1

DNA testing results have, for me, always been something of a mixed bag. In most cases it does a fantastic job of confirming relationships that I have been pretty certain existed. For example, it confirmed that my half-sister, who was put up for adoption, is my half-sister. It also can provide for leads in other lines. For example, when a first cousin popped up on my completely unknown paternal line, it provided the clues as to who my biological father was. I am still confirming that line and I expect a definitive answer in a few weeks.

My feelings of being “Stuck in the Mud”
Front Street, Dawson City, Yukon, 1898
[Public Domain] via Wikipedia Commons
DNA test results have also led me down some dead ends. Researching the results that say “second to fourth cousin” are time-consuming when you don’t have a tree that names a common ancestor.  I’ve spent a lot of time stuck on muddy roads looking for the gold that the DNA map indicated was there.
On rare occasions, a DNA match completely changes everything. I originally had my wife test her autosomal DNA looking for clues regarding her paternal line.  I traced her paternal line to her 2nd great-grandparents but ran into several brick walls beyond that.  I didn’t find anything that got me on the right track.  I didn’t look her results for several months until I revisited them this week.
Oh, my.  Someone new showed up on the list as “Close Family” – Possibly a first cousin. I thought, “Interesting, I wonder who this is.”  The name on the matching account, “Birdsong….” wasn’t an actual name, so I was a bit confused. Ancestry DNA doesn’t let you see the actual matches but, if you click on the individual’s name then click on the little info logo, it will show you the amount of shared DNA. I clicked on it and was startled.  It said 1,702 centimorgans shared across 54 DNA segments. Wow. That is the range of an aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, grandchild, or half-sibling. I wondered which of the nieces had their DNA tested. I sent “Birdsong…”, my standard inquiring message via Ancestry Messaging saying that said that she and my wife shared DNA and I was interested in exploring the potential relationship.
I took a break from the computer; I try to take a break every hour or so, and told my wife about my exciting new find.  She, who doesn’t do genealogy, much less genetic genealogy, heard me say, “Wawh, wawh, wawh, wawh, DNA, wawh, wawh, wawh, niece, wawh wawh.” It didn’t sink in just how profound a match of over 1700 centimorgans can be.
My wife went back to her atelier and her painting and I went back to my office and my research. I noted that the individual didn’t match with my mother-in-law, so it had to be a match on my wife’s father’s side.  Then looked at Birdsong’s family tree on Ancestry. nothing made sense to me. None of the surnames matched my wife’s surnames. Of course, Birdsong’s information was private so I couldn’t get any more information, but I did see information about her mother.  I searched the internet and found an obituary.  It provided the names of this woman’s children and that included the name for “Birdsong” – Robin. I also knew her father’s name from the obituary so I searched for Robin K____ using her mother and father’s names and found her birth information; she was born in 1947 in Washington DC. Interesting. I knew that my wife’s father lived in Washington DC in the 1940s.
Robin had two siblings, both older and both passed now. I though, oh my, it doesn’t look like an aunt or a niece, could this be a half-sister?  Very interesting.
I jotted down the names, dates, and places and then chatted with my wife about my findings. She is so good about listening to me when I find something interesting and is exciting to me. I was telling her about my findings and she said, “Who?” then snatched the notes out of my hand. Apparently, I was mispronouncing the surname. She immediately recognized the names. looked at my notes, saw Robin’s name and her parents’ names and her jaw dropped.  She knew the people from when she was a child. “OMG – I know this family.”
Mind Blown

My wife was just plain gobsmacked — a half-sister, totally unknown before this. Her mind was totally blown, so blown she could be in a commercial for Jet.Com. It was fun to watch her wander around the house saying, “Wow.”

There is a saying in genetic genealogy, “you should never take a DNA test unless you are sure you want to discover the truth.”  There is wisdom in that. In this case, the truth iss there is a half-sister that my wife, her mother, and her siblings knew nothing about. Genetic genealogy can be really fun.

[Note: I anticipate Part 2 of this article to be about my finding my half-sister after searching for nearly 50 years. I am still awaiting DNA confirmation.]

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Finding John Vinson’s Father & John Vinson (c. 1817 – c.1865)

By – Don Taylor

Finding John Vinson/Vincent’s Father
It is my goal to find ancestors in all of the census records that were taken during their lifetime. Based upon the 1870 Census, I’m fairly certain that John died between 1860 and 1870. I would guess most likely during the Civil War. So, I have a lot more research to do there. But, I really wanted to track him back earlier, see where he was in the 1840 Census. Hopefully, that would tell me his father’s name, something I did not have. I knew John’s mother’s name was Elizabeth. She was a widow in the 1850 Census.

Information I had:

Mother: Born abt 1786
Father: Unknown
John: Born abt 1817 in Halifax County, NC
Nancy: Born abt 1825 in Halifax County, NC
Using Ancestry.Com, I used the Card Catalog to select only the 1840 Census.

Knowing that John was born in Halifax County and lived his entire life in Halifax County, I searched for anyone with the surname Vincent in Halifax County, NC and had no hits. Then, I searched for people with the surname Vinson in Halifax County, NC and had 4 hits. I then compared my known information about the family to see if any of them fit the things I thought I knew.

Three of the family units had few to no similarities whatsoever, but the fourth one fit it what I think I knew about John exactly.

1840 Census – Halifax County, North Carolina – Source: Ancestry.Com

Burket Vinson’s household consisted of five individuals:[1]

A male 60-70 years old – Presumed to be Berket
A male 20-30 years old – Fits John who was 23 then.
A male 15-20 years old – Unknown (possibly a brother?)
A female 50 to 60 years old – Fits Elizabeth who would be 54 at the time.
A female 15-20 years old – Fits Nancy who would be 15 at the time.

So, everything in the Burket Vinson household matches up.

Additionally, John named one of his sons, Joseph Burkett, which kept the Burkett name in the family for another generation.

So based upon the 1840 Census record for Burket Vinson, the known birth location for John, the continuation of the given name Burket, I tentatively associate Burket Vinson as John’s father. I will continue researching to see if anything contradicts this assumption. But I’m pretty sure I’ve puzzled through this wall.

John Vinson/Vincent (c. 1817 – 1860-1870)
John Vinson was born about 1817 (Between 2 Jun 1816 and 1 June 1817) in Near Weldon, Halifax County, North Carolina.

In 1840, he appears to be living with his parents, Burket and Elizabeth Vinson, a sister, Nancy, and possibly a brother.[2]

He married Lenora Busbee about 1843, because their first child, Virginia was born between June of 1844 and June of 1845.

A second daughter, Elizabeth, was born between June 1846 and June 1847.

Their third daughter, Susan R Vinson, Mary-Alice’s Great Grandmother, was born 22 August 1848.

The 1850 Census finds the young farmer with a farm worth about $50. Living with John and Lenora was Eliza Beasley, age 30.[3]

Finally, their first son, James W., was born between June 1851 and 1852.

Another son, Benjamin I., was born 1855-1856.

Another son, Joseph Burkett, was born 1857-1858.

In the 1860 Census, the family is still living near Weldon in Halifax county. John is a farmer whose real estate value is $800 (a 1600% increase in value over 10 years) and whose personal estate value is $538.[4] This was a fairly valuable at the time for a farm being worked without slaves, as the Vinsons had no slaves.

As a quick aside — the 1860 Census indicates one of John’s children is “Barkhead.” I thought that was one of the funniest names I had ever encountered. Now, I sure it was Joseph Burkett. But is still interesting to think that maybe he went be “Barkhead” when he was young.

Living with John is Ellenior, a 35 year-old seamstress. The change in name from Lenora to Ellenior and the 7 year change in age made me originally think that Lenora and Ellenior might be two different people and that John remarried between 1850 and 1860. However, finding Lenora in the 1870 census with all the children put that consideration to rest (for now at least), but, it is still an area of concern.

Finally, another daughter, Ellen B. was born 1861-1862.

I cannot find John in the 1870 Census, but found Lenora and the children, which suggests John died before 1870, probably during the Civil War.[5] I need to research and determine if the 45 year-old John served.

Further Actions:

Follow Burket & John in the 1830 and 1820 Censuses.
Determine if John fought during the civil war.
Determine more about the life of Lenora Busbee


List of Greats

Susan R Vinson
John Vinson
Burkett Vinson




[1] 1840 United States Federal Census,, 1840; Census Place: Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: 362; Page: 2; Image: 674; Family History Library Film: 0018094.
[2] 1840 United States Federal Census,, 1840; Census Place: Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: 362; Page: 2; Image: 674; Family History Library Film: 0018094.
[3] 1850 United States Federal Census,, 1850;Census Place:  , Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: M432_633; Page: 34A; Image: 73. [Family 636  – John Vincent.
[4] 1860 Census, 1860;Census Place: Western District, Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: M653_899; Page: 424; Image: 228; Family History Library Film: 803899. – John Vinson.
[5] 1870 United States Federal Census,, Year: 1870; Census Place: Rapides, Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1141; Page: 545B; Image: 516; Family History Library Film: 552640 – Lines 26-31.


————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-

Annie Deborah Long Hobbs (1846-1913) and WorldCat

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 28

When you have a family that lived in one area for a while, it is extremely important to check the Historical Society of that place and see if they published a book on the early or important residents of that place. Through other research, I know that Annie Deborah Long and her husband James Ashley Hobbs had lived in Martin County, North Carolina most of their lives.
World Cat ( is one of the best on-line resources there is for finding books and a quick search for “Martin County North Carolina Historical Society” yielded some thousand results. Because I sorted the results by relevance, only the first ten or twenty books are probably going to be of interest. I worked through the books on the first page and found one of them was at my local county library (while I was living in Georgia). I visited the library there and gleaned a ton of information regarding many of the individuals that populated Martin County during the time of my wife’s family was there. “Aunt Hazel” who was actually a 1st cousin of my wife’s father wrote several of the articles. In the book, she highlighted
family members who she actually knew. Cool. There was even a photo of my wife’s here-to-unknown great uncle. My process for using WorldCat is really easy.
Created an account on World Cat if you don’t have one. It is free and
lets you organize all of your book requirements. Then create several folders
to help organize your books. I used:

“Search the Internet”
“Order via Interlibrary Loan”
“Visit the Library”

Then, use to find which books might be relevant. If a title is of interest, select it. I generally give the
book a tag that relates to the surname I am researching and then move it to my “Search the Internet” folder.
Later, I go through my “Search the Internet” folder and search for the book title. Sometimes the book is available online. Sometimes, an index for the book is available online. The index can really help you know if the book is one you want to see or not. I add notes regarding my searches directly to the item in my folder. These notes may be either public or private. You choose.
If the book is not available on the Internet and seems to be one I still would like to see/read, I move the book to the “Order via Interlibrary Loan” folder. I then use my local library’s inter-library loan system to order the book. Again, I make a note when I ordered it. Some libraries will let you order directly from World Cat after you have logged in via their website or proxy. Others require you fill out a local form. Interlibrary loan is great, I’ve been amazed at some of the books I’ve been able to read using it.
Finally, if the book isn’t available via Inter-library loan (not circulating), I
move the information about the book and libraries it is at to my “Visit the Library” folder. I then use Evernote to capture the information about the book and libraries and put it into a folder “Library Visits”. What is cool about that is that if I visit say the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, or Allen County Public Library, I can just search for that library in Evernote and it brings up a list of all the books at that library that I am interested in and what I was looking for.

Annie Deborah Long Hobbs (1846-1913)

Annie was born July 7th, 1846, the oldest daughter of Samuel Aquilla Long and Martha Ann Bryan Long. In 1860, I’m sure she was a typical 14-year-old of the day; she attended school[1] and otherwise things were normal until the Civil War. Her older brother, Joe, enlisted in 1862 and her father joined up in 1863.
Stories about the war survived. In one story, related by Sara Long Johnson, “The Yankee soldiers plundered the entire house, taking
every feather bed to the yard where they cut them open and had great fun yelling, “it’s snowing, it’s snowing. They cut the feet off the chickens, geese, and young pigs leaving them in great misery. As soon as they left the animals
were salvaged as much as possible.”[2]  I can only imagine the terror and fear that a young 17-year-old Annie had as the Yankees plundered her home.
In another story, also related by Sara Long Johnson, when the war was over, Annie’s brother, Joe, was making the long trek home. After receiving much hospitality from another Long family, they placed a gold piece in his hand. He expressed his gratitude an told them that his sister [Ann Debora Long] was to be married in a short time and he would give it to her for a wedding present.[3]
And yes, shortly after the war, Annie Deborah Long married James Ashley Hobbs on 16 May 1866. A respectable 15 months later, she gave birth to her first child, a boy, Charles Leon Hobbs. She and James Ashley would have nine children in total.
Martin County Courthouse abt 1885
She kept house and maintained a close relationship with her
friends at the Primitive Baptist Church in Hamilton. In 1898, her husband was
elected to be Clerk of Court for Martin County and the family moved to
Williamston. In the new home, she still kept house and maintained a close
relationship with her new friends at the Primitive Baptist Church in
According to Hazel Armstrong Valentine, “Debbie Hobbs
was a petite little woman whose life revolved around her home and family. She was conservative by nature, frugal in her habits and very generous with her friends.”[4]
Annie’s grandson, Frank Alton Armstrong, Jr., became the celebrated WW II Colonel that the movie 12 O’clock High was patterned after. Her granddaughter Hazel’s husband, Itimous T. Valentine, Sr., was a famous judge, eventually becoming an associate judge in the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Annie died on 17 May 1913 in Williamson, N.C.[5] I am yet to find where she is buried.
Further Actions:
Find where is Annie buried?
Determine the location of their homestead from tax rolls.
List of Greats
1.    Annie Deborah Long
2.    Samuel Aquilla Long
3.    John Long
4.    Aquilla Long
[1] 1860 Census,
District 9, Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M653_905;
Page: 443; Image: 291; Family History Library
Film: 803905. Enumerated 26 Sep 1860; Accessed 8 Apr 2014.
[2] Hughes, S. J. N.,
& Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage
(Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 579 – The
Samuel Long Family.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Hughes, S. J. N.,
& Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage
(Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 418 –
James Ashley Hobbs.