Saturday, December 7, 2013

Edmund Anderson, Promoting Charlottesville Virginia

Edmund Anderson was born in 1785 in Virginia, near the close of the revolutionary era.  He is likely to be the son of Richard Anderson and his second wife Mildred “Milly” Thomson.  I like to think of this 4xgreat-grandfather of mine as a “visionary”.  But, “dreamer” might be closer to the truth. 

Charlottesville Virginia, Downtown Mall, 2009; wikimediacommons
Edmund Anderson grew up in Louisa and Albemarle counties in Virginia, and as a young man, he looked to his future in Charlottesville, Albemarle’s county seat.  The town of Charlottesville was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1762.  It is of particular interest to our family, that the land was donated by another of our grandfather’s, Dr Thomas Walker of Castle Hill.  It has been told that Thomas Walker drew up the earliest deeds and offered prizes to encourage settlement of the new town.  The original plan set aside fifty acres of land for lots and streets, with the courthouse sitting outside of the town to the north.  Growth for the new town was slow.    Almost fifty years later, in 1810, the town had only grown to “forty five houses, a courthouse, a jail, and an academy.“ 

By that 1810 date, one of those forty-five Charlottesville houses may have been the home of Edmund Anderson, or he may have lived outside the town proper.  Others in the household were his wife, Frances Moore, and infant children, Pamelia Mildred Anderson (my 3xgreat-grandmother) and John Mortimer Anderson.  A few years later, in 1813, Edmond Anderson purchased sixty acres, near the courthouse and established his “Anderson Addition”.  He had plans to be a part of Charlottesville’s further growth!

Author, Edgar Wood, in his “History of Albemarle County Virginia”, 1901, tells us:
In 1813, Edmund [Anderson] purchased from Clifton Rodes, Executor of John Jouett, sixty acres of land lying east and north of Charlottesville, and extending from the present Ninth Street east to the hill overlooking Schenk's Branch, and laid it out in town lots. This tract was known as Anderson's Addition. He sold a number of lots, chiefly on East Jefferson and Park Streets, during the decade of 1820 . . .

The property Edmund Anderson purchased outside of Charlottesville had some interesting history.  As indicated above, he purchased it from the estate of John Jouett who had died in 1802.  Jouett had acquired the property as part of a one hundred acre purchase from John Moore in 1773.   It included Jouett’s Tavern (also called Swan Tavern) which had been erected by John Jouett to serve the Charlottesville community and travelers through the area.  It sat directly across from the courthouse, and its claim to fame arrived during the Revolutionary years. 

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society website tells the story this way:
The Swan tavern resided at 300 Park Street, where a brick townhouse now stands. Jack Jouett, whose father owned The Swan, made the tavern famous. In 1781, Jefferson and Virginia’s  government quit Richmond under threat of capture by the British, and reconvened in Charlottesville. Jouett rode through the night on back roads from Louisa County to warn Governor Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and other members of the General Assembly of the approach of British forces under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Eluding capture, most legislators fled to safety in Staunton. Tarleton’s men destroyed some court records and military stores, but spared the town from destruction . .

Not long after Edmond Anderson’s 1813 purchase of the Jouett property, he removed his family to Richmond Virginia.  His wife Frances Moore Anderson died around this same time, and he was secondly married to Nancy Cole.  He took up other pursuits in Richmond Virginia, but continued to manage his Albemarle county property.  In 1818 the property was annexed to the town of Charlottesville.  This was about the same time that Thomas Jefferson’s Central College was established in Charlottesville.  Over time, Central College grew into the University of Virginia, and ensured the continued growth of the town. 

But, as Charlottesville’s prospects improved, Edmond Anderson’s vision faded.  It seems that his endeavors in Richmond were draining his pockets.  “The History of Albemarle . . “ gives this clue:
[speaking of Edmund Anderson] . . he removed to Richmond, and entered into business under the firms of Anderson & Woodson . . , but the business failing, he transferred all his property in Albemarle to John R. Jones as trustee, who in 1829 sold it for the payment of his debts.

Edmund Anderson struggled on in Richmond, investing in other properties, operating several businesses, and even serving as the city’s postmaster.  But, the few available records do not suggest that his “visions” ever brought financial success.   When he died of “old age” in 1861, his Charlottesville years were long behind him.  I like to think his “dreams”, and his willingness to invest, made a worthwhile contribution to a lovely and enduring community. 

For more details on Edmund Anderson, visit his page at Family Stories,

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin Mildred Fry 1878 > Reuben Macon Fry 1847 > Pamelia Mildred Anderson 1810 > Edmund Anderson 1785.

Further Reading: 
Bio for Edmund Anderson, by Pam Garrett, at Family Stories,
History of Albemarle County Virginia, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901.  Look for this as a scanned ebook on the internet.  Details about the Anderson Family are found on page 139.
From Cuckoo to Charlottesville: Jack Jouett’s Overnight Ride, by Rick Britton, 5 Mar 2013; at the Journal of the American Revolution website.
Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Courthouse Historic District; National Register of Historic Places Inventory.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Growing Up With Jasper Indiana: The Edmonston Family

In November 2012 I wrote a blog post titled Bazil Brooke Edmonston, Indiana Pioneer.  It gave of brief biographical account of my 5xgreat-grandfather, mentioning his move to Dubois county Indiana.  Now, almost a year later, I want to return to his story.

Bazil Brooke Edmonston sr and his wife Hannah Rose Edmonston, settled in Dubois county Indiana in 1818, living near the White River in Harbison township.  Later they moved closer to the future town of Jasper.  Three of their ten children remained in Dubois county – Bazil Brooke Edmonston jr, Benjamin Rose Edmonston, and Nancy Edmonston who did not marry. 

The town of Jasper was established in the mid 1820’s, and became the county seat for Dubois county in 1830.  Tradition suggests that the town name, Jasper, comes from Revelations 21:19, “and the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones . . . the first foundation was of Jasper.”

The Edmonston family is frequently mentioned in George R Wilson’s, “History of Dubois County from Its Primitive Days to 1910”. According to Nancy Edmonston Weathers, "the first house erected in the original town of Jasper was built on lot 153, by B. B. Edmonston, Sr (her grandfather), about 1830 . . The house became the first post office at Jasper and its owner was the first postmaster. Mail then came from Vincennes and Paoli once a week.”  Nancy Edmonston Weathers was the daughter of Bazil B Edmonston jr.  She tells about her school room in the first Court House at Jasper, and the oxen teams that pulled goods between the towns of Troy and Jasper. 

Besides being the first Postmaster of Jasper, Bazil B Edmonston (sr) served as Associate Judge and Probate Judge until his death in 1841.  According to George R Wilson, Col B B Edmondson (jr), namesake of his father, was “for a long time one of the most prominent officials of Dubois county. His hospitable home stood at the west end of Eighth street in the town of Jasper, and here he fed and housed hundreds of guests.

It is thought that most of the Edmonstons were Presbyterian, probably participating at the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Jasper.  Several members of the family are buried in the adjoining cemetery.  Wilson’s Dubois County history informs us:

Shiloh camp ground was for years a place of Protestant worship, and here gathered the Armstrongs, Alexanders, Andersons, Dillons, Stewarts, Normans, McMahans, Kelsoes, Roses, Brittains, and many other pioneer families from the northwest quarter of Dubois county. It is said that the most eloquent sermons of pioneer days were delivered at Shiloh. Log houses or huts were erected forming a hollow square, and in this square church services were held. This was long before a meeting-house had been
Erected . . Meeting House. The church edifice was built in 1849. A cemetery was started in what was once the hollow square, in 1860. Miss Minerva Edmonston, a daughter of Col. B. B. Edmonston, was the first to find a grave at Shiloh . . Protestants, strict in their church creed, both at Ireland and Jasper, favor Shiloh as a burial ground. Here lie the remains of many of the most prominent pioneer families associated with Jasper and Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

More details on the Edmonston family, and their years in Dubois county Indiana, are available at Family Stories,

Photo:  Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, southeast of Ireland in Dubois county Indiana.  Built in 1849, the church and cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Photo, by Nyttend, was submitted for use to Wikimedia Commons in 2011.

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Samuel Edwin Clarkson 1875 > Elizabeth Jane Robinson 1848 > Sarah Nugent Edmonston 1821 > William Edmonston 1796 >Bazil Brooke Edmonston (sr) 1766.

Further Reading:
My Own Edmonstons and a Few Others; Charles Ninian “Chuck” Edmonston, 1971.
Dubois County Indiana GenWeb
Shiloh Meeting House at the Ireland Indiana Website
Shiloh Church and Cemetery at Indiana GenWeb

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Riding With Isaac Parker: Deputy Marshall RM Fry

In the 1980’s I made a trip, along with other family members, to Fort Smith Arkansas.  We were in pursuit of stories about our Clarkson and Fry ancestors, who had lived in Fort Smith during the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.  One of our exciting finds was the name of my 2xgreat-grandfather, Reuben Macon Fry, on the list of Deputies that “Rode With Isaac Parker”, the noted “hanging judge” of the US District Court of Western Arkansas.  It was an intriguing find, but it has taken me almost twenty-five years to set about learning more about this interesting grandfather. 

To give a brief biographical account – Reuben Macon Fry was born in 1847 in Orange Court House Virginia.  As a student of the Cadet Corp of Virginia Military Institute he may have participated in some minor skirmishing during the Civil War.  After the war years, as he moved into young adulthood, he removed with his older brother to Lake Village in Chicot county Arkansas.  There he served as county clerk, operated a retail business, and married Eliza Brooks Hutchins, a “refugee” from Natchez Mississippi.  Business losses probably induced him to move on, and in 1880 he settled his family in Fort Smith Arkansas. 

Reuben Macon Fry’s obituary, twenty-five years later, gives an account of his career in Fort Smith:
. . He followed mercantile pursuits for several years and then became connected with the revenue service.  He afterward served as deputy circuit clerk during the incumbency of AA McDonald [circuit court clerk] and was also chief deputy sheriff during the six years' administration of Sheriff William Bugg.  After Captain Bugg retired he was elected justice of the peace, which position he held until he died. 

Reuben M Fry was commissioned as a Deputy Marshal of the Western District Court at Fort Smith in February 1884, and again in November 1887.  These were the years that he served as a Revenue Officer, and one of his occupations was to incapacitate “moonshiners”.  In the summer of 1888 he participated in an operation in Montgomery county Arkansas, during which one of his fellow officer, John Trammell, was killed.  I have come across several accounts of this 1888 event in newspapers and biographies. 

A report in the St Louis Post Dispatch (St Louis Missouri); 28 June 1888, begins:

Hot Springs, Ark., June 28: News of a desperate fight between revenue officers and moonshiners; which took place near Black Springs, Montgomery County, yesterday, has just reached this city. Internal Revenue Collector R. M. FRY, in charge of a posse, was in that vicinity raiding moonshiner's camps and destroying illicit distilleries. They had succeeded in ferreting out and destroying three. Shortly after they had destroyed the last one they were attacked from ambush by a band of moonshiners armed with Winchester rifles when a desperate battle ensued,. . .

Reuben Fry was accompanied by Deputy Marshals, John D Trammell and Otis K Wheeler.  Trammell was killed in the ambush.  An inquest was held which revealed that two of Trammell’s killers were relatives, a brother and cousin, of Bill Cogburn who was being held in custody.  The primary characters in the bootlegging scheme were Carter Markham, Matthew Pervine, Joseph Pepper, J.D. Hollifield and several members of the Cogburn family.  Community fear held back any witnesses, and the murderers were never convicted. 

A detailed account of this incident can be found online in Brett Cogburn’s recently published book, Rooster:
The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit, 2012; beginning on page 52.

 For more details on Reuben Macon Fry, visit his individual page at Family Stories,

To learn more about the Deputy Marshals of Isaac Parker’s court:
Law West of Fort Smith; Glenn Shirley, 1957.
Larry McMurtry's 1997 novel Zeke and Ned tells the story of Zeke Proctor, one of Parker's deputy marshals.
Loren D. Estleman's 2009 novel The Branch and The Scaffold relates to Parker's tenure at Fort Smith.
Charles Portis features Judge Parker in his novel, True Grit, which has twice been adapted as films of the same name.
Movie – Rooster Cogburn, 1975, based on Charles Portis novel; starring John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Into the FRY Pan!

This Family Stories Blog was established to share with family, friends and fellow genealogists some of the stories I have gathered during nearly thirty years of family history research.  It links with my companion website, Family Stories,, that houses my genealogy database and an extensive collection of documents, notes, biographies, and photos.  I’m delighted to announce that my database website is growing again!

Recently I have added about three hundred new family members to my online database, along with significant details about many of their lives.  This is my FRY family, descendants of my 6xgreat-grandfather, Joshua Fry of Albemarle county Virginia.  Joshua Fry is a most interesting grandfather – immigrant from England, teacher at William and Mary College, friend to George Washington and Peter Jefferson, significant player in the history of Virginia.  And, many of his descendants have led interesting and note-worthy lives. 

Joshua Fry, and some of his descendants, have been the subject of many biographies and histories.  Philip Slaughter’s, “Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry . .”, 1880, has made its way around the genealogy circuit for years.  I have not been interested in “duplicating” well established genealogies.  But, it is the nature of a genealogy database to link individuals and families together, and most of the well-known relationships of the Fry family are repeated in my database.  I have tried to include some new bits and pieces of information that might add to the Fry family story.  I have particularly emphasized my own “branches” of the Fry family – a visual of my branch, Moving Back In Time, is given at the close of this post. 

I am gathering materials for a few upcoming blog posts on my Fry Family.  Some proposed titles include: 
Riding with Isaac Parker
Joshua Fry in the Classroom, a Williamsburg Story!
The Hospitality of “Bathing”

I’m excited to introduce these ancestors, and to share a few of their stories.  I hope you will join me for the fun!

Moving Back In Time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin Mildred Fry 1878 > Reuben Macon Fry 1847 > Philip Slaughter Fry 1801 > Reuben Fry 1766 > Henry Fry 1738 > Joshua Fry 1700.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Anna Stransky's Letter: A Fridrich Family Story

In May of 1946, Anna Stransky, daughter of Joseph Stransky and Anna Fridrich, wrote a letter to her cousin Bill Svejkovsky of Oklahoma.  Bill Svejkovsky was collecting information for a family history, and Anna Stransky gave a helpful account of her grandmother’s Fridrich family.  As far as I know, Anna Stransky never married.  In 1946, when the letter was written, she was living with her sister Mary in Casper Wyoming.  From my mother-in-law, I received a copy of a ‘hand-written copy’ of this letter.  I do not know the whereabouts of the original letter.  This hand-written copy was all run together, without paragraphs. There probably were introductory and closing remarks in the original letter that were not included in the hand-written copy.  I have retyped from the copy, and present that portion of the letter here.  I have added a few bracket comments to aid identification:

Letter -  Anna Stransky of Casper, Wyoming to Bill Svejkovsky,  May 1946:

 . . . I think we have more information than you about Grandma Fridrich's [Frances Felepena Fridrich] family, but of course we would as Aunt Mary [Mary Fridrich Smith] and our Mother [Anna Fridrich Stransky] still remember the past very well.  Then there are some papers of Grandma's  that Aunt Mary saved when Grandma passed away.  There wasn't much, but I remember the divorce paper and we persuaded Aunt Mary to keep it as there were dates in it and mention of the children.  It proved helpful to Aunt Mary in establishing her birth and residence in this country when she applied for her old age pension...Grandma went by the name of Fridrich and so did her children after this first divorce, but it was not their name by birth.  Their father's name was Joseph Wasatko and that was your Mother's [Bozanna “Bessie” Fridrich Svejkovsky] rightful maiden name.  Grandma divorced him when the children were still young, and he married again, some widow [Frances Beska] in Nebraska.  She had children of her own, and they had one son together, his name is Anton Wastko [Anton Wasatko].  So he is a half-brother of your Mother's also.  We looked him up one time and he was in a bank in Lynch, Nebraska.  He had a nice family and seemed to be quite a progressive fellow.  They came over to Yankton to see us one summer about 10 years ago, but we haven't heard of them recently.  He said both his Father and Mother died years ago, and Mom says she remembers it as our Uncle Joe Fridrich from Tyndall went to the Funeral I believe.  Grandma married Mr Peseck [August Pesek] some years later and they had the one son who is Uncle August [August Bert Fridrich].  However, he never went by his right name either which should have been Pesek, but was always known as August Fredrick [also, August Frederick]. He didn't spell his name like Grandma did either.  You will notice her name has the German spelling, and her Father was a German.  She divorced Mr Peseck also, but I don't know when.  Then after her first husband's wife died in Nebraska many years later, and when she was quite elderly, she married Mr Wastko (our grandfather) again.  It didn't last but a very short time though and she left him and went back to Tyndall to live.  He didn't have any money and neither did she, so Aunt Mary says, and his son didn't approve of the marriage, so it didn't work out.  I often think that Grandma was sure ahead of her time, about fifty years at least.  We don't have any information ourselves, only what Mom and Aunt Mary know and remember.  For that reason we were of the opinion that some facts might be written in this old bible that your folks were supposed to have, that Grandma always said was given to her by her Father when she left the Old Country.  ..We don't know anything about Uncle August, other than that the last time we heard of them they were traveling with a Circus side-show.  Their son [Carlisle Frederick] was a musician and a nice boy, and we had heard that he was killed in the war in Germany.  We don't know this to be true though.  They had a girl [Maxine Frederick], who must be in her twenties now.  I saw her perform in the circus once, and she was very attractive.  Mom and Aunt Mary never could understand Uncle August going into that sort of life. He had a mail route in Geddes, S Dak for years.  But I rather think his wife was the promoter . . .

For more details about the people mentioned in Anna Stransky’s Letter, visit their pages at Family Stories, Also see my blog post, dated 7 August 2013, and titled - The Fridrich Family: Moravia to America.

Photo:  South Dakota Landscape; USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2009. Creative Commons – Share Alike license.