Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

August 2, 2015

Close Cousins

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy,Taphophilia — Janice @ 10:15 pm

You know you never know when you are standing next to a cousin. Even I don’t know–as much as I try to!

I remember several years ago being at a show on the patio at Hill’s Café in Austin. I frequently tell anyone who will listen that I am related to Pinky Wilson who wrote the Aggie War Hymn for Texas A&M. I usually bring this up when someone has on one of those big gold rings they wear or an Aggie t-shirt, for instance. I ran into a friend who had heard that story before and he said, “Oh, you need to meet this guy.” He dragged me over to meet a guy that was a descendant of Pinky Wilson, so we were third cousins, I think. Pinky Wilson was his grandfather  and Pinky and my grandmother were first cousins. I know my first cousins really well and I know all of their grandchildren pretty well. But the chances of my grandchildren knowing their grandchildren well are pretty slim (well, in my case they are nil since I have NONE).

Tonight I found a picture of me and another cousin when I didn’t know her.

reunion 059

I’m standing there in the Newburg cemetery a few years ago at a ceremony to honor our Texas Rangers. I’m talking to the legendary Comanche librarian, Margaret. She and I are distant cousins… fourth cousins once removed, maybe. This was a few years back, but last year she told me about a cousin I needed to meet that is also from the same family. I finally got to meet Cindy in person last March and we had so much in common. She has become a great friend and genealogy buddy. This weekend I am going to stay at her house when I am up there for my family reunion.

Cindy had told me she was at this ceremony years ago. In fact, it was her only trip ever to my favorite cemetery. This weekend I plan on taking her there and giving her the full tour and showing her EVERY SINGLE ONE of my relatives there. Ha. Even I don’t know every single one that is related. But I know a bunch.

But, as you have probably gotten ahead of me already, that is Cindy in the left of the picture. There were many folks there and I had no idea.

Of course, I found where my own grandparents were third cousins and they had both lived in the same community all their lives and you’d think they would know that they were related. But, if they did, they never told any of us about it.

August 1, 2015

Am I Back?

Filed under: Family,Genealogy,Normal Life,Writing — Janice @ 10:35 pm

I like have a blog and I like having an outlet. To vent. To create. To blah blah blah. And I have missed my blog. I haven’t even looked to see the last time I wrote, but when I broke my arm on June 2, that put a stop to any creative typing. I was stuck with slowly only typing the bare minimum of work I had to do. The cast came off a couple of weeks ago, but I am still trying to be back to “normal” with the arm and be able to use all the twist and torque I once had. You don’t realize how many muscles and tendons a hand, wrist, and arm have until you can’t use them all. My typing is getting stronger (probably because I am GOING to do it and make it stronger), but I still have difficulty with turning my palm straight up. I can’t accept change with my left hand, for instance. Or pour an aspirin from a bottle into it. I looked up some exercises to strengthen hands and arms and I am doing them and think everyone should do them.

Otherwise it was a flooding spring and now a long hot summer. We are into the really hot miserable time where any sane person would only stay indoors. But after two months of no yard work, I did get out today and pulled weeds and trimmed bushes and watered some thirsty plants. I wasn’t out too long, but it still took its toll. I was glad to retreat to a cool shower and fans and air conditioning.

It has been a year since I wrote the book for my family and took it proudly to the reunion. The reunion is coming up this next weekend and I will go empty handed this year. I always approach the reunion with dread and anticipation. The dread is mainly for the heat and the feeling that I want to do MORE—talk to more people, soak in more history, be by myself more and be with other people more. I have a deep desire to be able to just sit and play cards and sit in one spot at the reunion, but I can’t stop myself from getting around and visiting and meeting people, too. There are people I don’t like and I usually get stuck talking to them, but I try to remember that everyone has a story and everyone is interesting in some way, so I try to find that. I’ll be trying to keep an open mind next weekend.

Okay, I’ve written, a blog is done. I’m not even taking the time to go find a picture to put with it. Spending more time and putting more effort into it will come with use. Just like I’m exercising my hand and wrist and arm, I hope I will be exercising my creativity and perseverance and storytelling. But no promises. I may not write again until Christmas.

March 30, 2015

Cemeteries in Comanche County

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 11:05 pm

I spent the weekend in the cemetery and now I am just dead tired.

Doesn’t work quite as well as the “And boy are my arms tired” joke, but I’m trying.


Saturday was the annual Newburg Cemetery Association meeting. I had never even heard of the association or knew they had annual meetings until last year. I don’t know how I was so uninformed about my favorite cemetery in the world, but now I know so I will attend the meetings. It isn’t just a dry meeting. It is a lively meeting of family interested in the welfare of our favorite cemetery and then there is a really nice potluck lunch with the group.

It is also a “Decoration Day,” as we call them in the South. I did not take any flowers for my family graves this year and I should  have. I usually take flowers in August when I go to the Cunningham reunion. All our flowers were pretty well faded so they do need a replacement soon.

I have 8 direct ancestors buried in the cemetery… my great-grandparents (Ed and Henrietta Hallford) and her parents my great-great-grandparent (Bill and Mildred Cunningham) and his parents (Capt. James and Susannah Cunningham) and then great-great-grandparents from another branch,  Joe and Trissia Moore. There is also 3 great-aunts and their husbands, several great-great-aunts and uncles, and so many cousin I would never be able to count. I know I’ve been to 4 funerals in that cemetery, including my very first one when I was 6 (for Grandma Hallford).  [Full disclosure: the picture of the cemetery is not from this year, it is from 2010. I didn’t take a good scene-setting picture this time.]

I got there early and went to the Albin Cemetery first and took more pictures there. It is just down the road and I have at least 4 direct ancestors there. It was a pretty day. I like this picture of the Albin Cemetery in panorama:

2015-03-28 10.16.18

2015-03-28 10.14.37

I love the rock walls on these old cemeteries… can you imagine how much time and energy that took?

Now I am home and I’ve been wasting time researching some of the graves I saw (well, the people in them).

There’s just not enough hours in the day for the cemetery visits and research time I need.

February 8, 2015

My Aunt Billie’s Birthday

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 4:34 pm

Several years ago I wrote about my Aunt Dorothy for her birthday instead of giving a gift. In January we celebrated my Aunt Billie’s 90th birthday and I decided to do it again. Writing about Aunt Billie is a little more challenging because she was always the most elusive aunt, the one I didn’t know as well. Aunt Billie and her family lived in Tyler when I was a child and then moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas before I was a teenager. We would see their family on the rare occasion that they came on a vacation to see us or we went to see them (it did happen a few times) or at family events somewhere in the middle, like Eastland, Texas, or Eldorado, Oklahoma.

Aunt Billie acknowledging the throngs of well-wishers at her 90th in January in Fort Smith:

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I never had the ability to just drop in on Aunt Billie. I have crashed all the other aunt’s homes to eat, shower, sleep, visit, or just take a break from the road, but never at Aunt Billie’s. We haven’t had much of a correspondence over the years either, but that would be because I didn’t write her. She is definitely a letter writer and there’s no way a correspondence would wither from her end.

If I wanted to help you envision my Aunt Billie, I would have you think of Lady Bird Johnson. It’s not that they really look alike, but I somehow got them intertwined when I was a kid and still see some of Billie in Lady Bird and vice versa. Lady Bird’s dark hair and her sweet laughing face are only part of it. They really do share an accent. That part is critical for you to hear in your mind to hear Aunt Billie. She has a very different accent from the rest of the family. I guess we are all West Texas and she is very East Texas. It’s not a lazy Southern talk, sometimes she talks very fast, but then there will be a long languid vowel just before the sentence finds its conclusion. “So-I-said-I’d-be-there-on-Sat-ur-daaaaaaaay?” There’s always that lilting upward inflection at the end, too. Not “uptalk” like the teen girls in America, but a gentle inquisition that seems to be asking politely, “Do I need to slow down for ya’ll to understaaaaand meeee?”

What do I know about Aunt Billie? Whenever I ask that question about a relative or ancestor, the glaring omissions of what I don’t know starts jumping out at me rather than the part I do. But I’ll try to stick with the facts as I know them.

Aunt Billie was the second child of my grandparents. Aunt Dorothy was only about 18 months old when Aunt Billie was born so my grandmother had her hands full at only 22 years old. Billie was born in Newburg, Texas, the same place her father and her grandmother had been born. She was born in 1925 and the family had lived in that neighborhood for 70 years, stretching back to the times of Indian raids and depredations.

2015-01-23 20.44.44

She grew up in Grosvenor (north of Brownwood) where her father, Arla Hallford, was the superintendent of the school there. She had 2 younger sisters, my mother, Patsy, and the baby, Lou Helen. There are great adventures to tell of the family living in Grosvenor. One frightening story was when the four daughters were left at home when their parents chaperoned a school bus full of kids going to the Fort Worth Stock Show. They were bundled up in their bed when a man entered their house and they could see him by the firelight. He caught sight of them and asked, “Has that bus already gone?” or some other question, made up on the spot. The girls nodded in fright and he left. When the family returned and authorities were notified, they brought several men from the community into the lights of a car for the girls to try to identify who it had been, but it was none of these men. And then there was the time the family was all almost washed away when the new dam that formed Lake Brownwood—and stood between them and their home in Grosvenor as they returned from Brownwood—collapsed during a deluge of rain.

The family moved to Quanah when Aunt Billie was in high school. Her dad was no longer her school superintendent; he had gone to work for the State Welfare Office. She graduated from high school in Quanah and was very active, as she would be all her life, in the First Baptist Church.

Aunt Billie went all the way to Kingsville to attend Texas A&I College. It was a long way from Quanah, but Aunt Billie had developed a close relationship with the pastor and he and his wife were moving to Kingsville and encouraged her to come with them and go to school. My mother remembers the adventure of getting to visit her there (while Mother was still in high school) and passing kids at the Baptist Student Union and have them say, “Hi Billie.” She had never known that she looked that much like her sister.

2015-01-23 20.44.57

Aunt Billie had office jobs before she married. She worked at the Western Union office and at the National Farm Loan Association in Quanah as assistant manager to Mr. Silas Mitchel. Then she took the job of secretary to the Vice President and General Manager Quin Baker of the Quanah, Acme, and Pacific Railroad. She stepped into that job when her older sister Dorothy had had before she married. I’m sure Mr. Baker knew quality workers when he found them.

Aunt Billie had many jobs through the years, but her main job was always mother to her four kids, my cousins Hank, Patsy Lee, Jo, and Becky. We have always marveled at their large family and how they would pile in the car and go on their vacations without a fuss or a fight (it seemed to us anyway). Still to this day this is the closest family you’ve ever seen. It seems like there is a birthday in their family at least once a week and a family celebration at someone’s home.

Aunt Billie is the only sister of the Hallford family that has traveled the world so extensively. She visited Israel, The Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and other countries in Europe. Sometimes she was there visiting her children who lived there. Jo and her husband Dru were missionaries in Israel for a while. Hank and his family were in Germany while he was in the Army. Many of her trips were related to Aunt Billie’s church work or her desire to know more about the Bible and expand her education. Of all the children in the Hallford family, Aunt Billie is the most like Papa Hallford in her desire to be a constant student. She makes the effort to not just read, but to study and absorb and seek out people to discuss topics with. There’s no doubt she could step into a Sunday School room, a Bible study, or even the pulpit and be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Aunt Billie has her quirks, there’s no doubt about it. But I love that she is perfectly content with who she is. We should all be so confident and self-assured. While MOST in our family have a need to look “proper” to the outside world, Aunt Billie does things her own way and you can take it or leave it. One time she and I shared a motel room on our way to the Cunningham reunion. Aunt Billie brought her own sheets, pillow, and blankets with her and made her own bed on the couch of the hotel room because she didn’t trust sleeping on the hotel sheets. She also had her house shoes and wouldn’t cross the room and the carpet with bare feet. I was amused, too, because her “luggage” was grocery sacks because they were convenient for her. That was 20 years ago and I find myself traveling with grocery sacks more and more. I have learned a lot from my Aunt Billie.

Aunt Billie is a writer. That’s kind of a thing in this family. I have a story she wrote many years ago about “The Church Pan.” It’s a story you can relate to if you ever took foods to the church for funerals or Wednesday night prayer meeting (… I would assume. I can’t say I’ve done it.). She accidentally took home a church pan along with her own and then failed to get it back to the church in a timely manner. As the time stretches further, her guilt grows and she is certain the church brotherhood is going to ask her to come before the church to confess her sin of coveting and stealing the church pan. She has a way of making you laugh and feel the guilt she felt, all at the same time.

Aunt Billie became a widow young. She married Uncle Glendon when they were in their 20s. They had a church wedding after church on a Sunday at the First Baptist in Quanah. He had been a bombardier in World War II and was shot down over Germany and was held in a German POW camp for over a year when he was just 21 years old. Aunt Billie hadn’t met him at that point. He came home, they fell in love, and started their life together. He sold car parts, like Delco batteries, to parts stores and auto dealerships. They lived all over Texas… Abilene, Corsicana, Roame, Emhouse, Crowell, Tyler, and then they finally settled for good in Fort Smith Arkansas. Glendon died when he was only 61 and is buried in the National Cemetery in Fort Smith. Aunt Billie has been an active and self-sufficient single woman for almost 30 years now.

Aunt Billie and Uncle Glendon and the first 6 of their 12 grandchildren:


Aunt Billie has a very close and special relationship with God. While I was there for her birthday, I heard a great story that illustrates that. Her daughter Jo had come to visit her for an afternoon. Before she left Aunt Billie got her purse and said she was “convicted by God” to give Jo some money. Jo said she didn’t need any, but Aunt Billie pulled out a checkbook and wrote a check for $2500 and was insistent that Jo take it. Jo complied and took it, but said she didn’t need it and wouldn’t be cashing it. When Jo got home, it wasn’t long until her husband had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He made a full recovery, thank goodness. Their out-of-pocket portion of the hospital stay was $2500. Jo hadn’t known that she would need that money soon.

I’ve always loved Aunt Billie’s personal library and her ability to catalogue and file her books and papers and notes. If you bring up a subject, she can pull files and sources and be ready for a discussion in minutes. Her cataloging goes beyond her intellectual pursuits. She has also saved every family letter and photo she has ever received. A few years back she divided her stash and returned the letters and photos to those who sent them. I inherited the ones that my mother got back from her. There were letters from me when I was a kid, my high school and college graduation announcements, photos. She had even created a scrapbook of the school pictures of me and my sister. All in all, she may have had more of my school pictures than I did!

One wonderful discovery in her files showed up in time for her birthday celebration. Her daughter Becky found a song Aunt Billie had written to accompany a poem her father, my Papa Hallford, had written for her many years before. It was a complete piece of sheet music with words and music. Her creativity still surprises me. I knew she played piano, but didn’t know how much she did with her music. I learned she had majored in music in college.

Aunt Billie, like her sisters, is a great cook. I didn’t get to enjoy as many meals at her house as I did the others, but I have seen what wonderful cooks her daughters are and I know where they got it from.

Aunt Billie has been a staunch supporter of me and my genealogy efforts through the years. She has always supplied the information I’ve requested and has passed along photos and books and anything I’ve needed, asked for, or that she thought would be helpful. She has come to lots of the Cunningham reunions (even though Comanche is a very long way from Fort Smith) and I appreciate her children for being willing to jump in the car with her at a moment’s notice to go to a reunion.

Tenacity, faith, humor, creativity. Aunt Billie got a big portion of great traits in our family. I love that she is still living in her home, doing what she has always done, and sees no reason to change anything now.


The four sisters:  Lou Helen (holding Nathaniel), Dorothy, Billie, and (my mother) Patsy.

old box from Mackies house scanned 9 10 2011 001 sisters with Nathaniel tight crop

December 8, 2014

Yesterday’s Genealogy and Cameras

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 8:51 pm

This display was up a couple of years ago at the Austin Genealogical Society holiday dinner:


This was the old days of genealogy. I could relate to a whole lot here. I typed a lot of family trees on a computer that wasn’t much newer than this one. Ours was a big heavy Royal. I don’t see the silver handle on the left on the typewriter above. How did they return the carriage and move it to the next line? I think it would be a fun experiment to put a computer savvy teenager or young adult down with a typewriter like this and ask them to reproduce a letter. I think they would think it was easy, but would have no idea how it operates:  how you could change the color of the ink or even cut a stencil for the mimeograph machine, how you set tab stops with little metal pieces around the backside, how you could make it space one, two, or three lines, and how you used the small L for a 1 and to make an exclamation you had to use the apostrophe and backspace and put a period under it. We used a lot fewer exclamation points when they took that much effort!!! And I would bet young people don’t know how you put the paper in to get it in straight, how you straighten it if it isn’t, and then how you WHISK the page away from the platen when the page was done.

Fortunately, our family “inherited” a nicer Selectric typewriter before I had to start writing a lot of papers in high school and college. I use “inherited” because I’m not certain the statute of limitations has run out.

The camera in the box above is a great example of a Kodak when the word “Kodak” meant camera to most of us. My grandmother had a Kodak like this one. The little blue bulbs fit into the top so you could take a flash picture. She must have been an early adopter because she had the only flash camera I ever saw until the revolving 4-flashes flash cubes came along. I don’t remember Mamma taking LOTS of pictures, but she always carefully took a few with her precious camera. Then she would carefully put it back into the box (like above) and put it away after every use. She did love that camera and I have many of the square format pictures it took. I don’t know that Mamma ever had a NEWER camera than that one. She might have been like I am: as long as it still works, why would you replace it? I remember her using it less and less (when others had plenty of cameras to record the moments and give her copies). Now I also recall that she always said “make a picture” instead of “take a picture.” As in, “Let’s get everybody together and make a picture.”

The camera on the right is like no camera I ever experienced until I took photography in college. Mark recently inherited several cameras of that era that belonged to his grandfather and his father. He really did inherit them, it was legit. No quotation marks. These were cameras he loved to hold when he was a boy while his grandfather explained all the rings and settings.

I am definitely coming down on the side of NOW IS BETTER when it comes to typewriters versus computers and cameras with film versus digital cameras. But I’m glad I experienced the old kind so I can appreciate the new kind.

The fact that you are reading this possibly moments after I have typed it is still astonishing to me.

September 6, 2014


Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 11:13 pm

I just saw this picture in my computer;

2005 Cunningham reunion 08

This was taken 9 years ago in 2005 at the Cunningham family reunion. It is my little cousin Annabeth (Susannah Elizabeth… named after ancestors on both sides of her family) with her great-grandmother Dorothy. They are standing beside the gravestone in the Newburg Cemetery of Dorothy’s great-grandmother Trissia Moore, who died in 1940.

Dorothy remembers Trissia, Annabeth will remember Dorothy. I love the connections from generation to generation.

My only memory of my great-grandmother from this side of the family is of Henrietta Hallford, who is also buried nearby in the Newburg Cemetery. I don’t think I ever met her when she was alive. If I did, I was a baby or an infant. I do remember her from her funeral. I remember my mother and Aunt Dorothy (the one in the photo) standing by her casket and commenting on how she looked like she had in life, and there was a mole or facial imperfection on her face that they commented on. This was the first dead body I had ever seen. I don’t remember being particularly scared or having emotion. But I remember the sadness of my mother and aunt for their grandmother.

I did know my great-grandmother from my father’s side well before her death in 1978. I wish I had been more mature and spent more time paying attention to her while I had the chance. But, as it was, I knew her from many visits she made to our house and my grandfather’s house and a visit or two that we made to her house in Cleburne. She died when I was in college. I wish I had been at her funeral. She died when I was on the road with my friend Sandy. I didn’t have “funeral clothes” with me and I wanted to go on home to Amarillo and then return to Winters for the funeral. My parents told me to stay put and not come back down. I obeyed them because it really was a long distance to try to come back across. I feel bad that I wasn’t there, though. But she and I did have SOME communication and a relationship, maybe more than any other of the great-grandkids. I have many letters she wrote to me before she died.

I never knew my great-grandfathers or my other great-grandmothers, but I know the grandparents were very special to my parents. As I do my genealogy I love to see the connections and figure out who knew who. When I visit a grave I am thinking not only of the person buried in the grave, but who was standing on this ground as that casket was lowered. There is always another generation. There is always life. It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me glad that life goes on.


This is my sister and me with my great-grandmother Williams when she was probably in her 80s.

August 16, 2014

Love Letters

Filed under: At home,Family,Genealogy,Writing — Janice @ 1:15 pm

I have returned to blogging. For the last 12 months I have been working on a book for my family. It was completed, printed, released, and is done. A great accomplishment. It took up so much of my time and energy that I haven’t blogged in forever. I want to return to it.

Now that I am THROUGH with that family (ha, that’s a joke, I’ll never be through) I want to dig in on some of my other family history and maybe put a book together on some of them just so all the info is together and simpler to read. That started me into a box of memorabilia to see what I had. Of course, the first things I come across are still the Cunningham family, but it is love letters and a diary from my great-grandmother.

The community of Newburg had a cotton gin, a grist mill, a blacksmith, and a post office in 1898. It was at that post office that – I assume – both my great-grandmother, Henrietta Cunningham, and her beau and my great-grandfather Ed Hallford each got their mail. I’m sure they only lived a few miles from each other, but they corresponded as if they were across the country.


This letter was written April 20, 1898. The couple married in October of 1898. She was 22 and he was 25.


I love the formality, even though they had probably known one another most of their lives. She says, “Mr. Ed Hallford, kind friend, As Edra is going to the city in the morning, I will write you a great long letter tonight as you did me.” Edra is Henrietta’s younger sister (she would have been only 16 at the time) and I assume the “city” is Newburg since that is where the letter is postmarked.




I don’t know how letters like this one were delivered, but perhaps someone was going to see the Cunningham family and Ed sent this along. It is a long single piece of paper, folded in half and then into thirds. On the outside is written:


On the inside:


I also have a few pages of what seemed to be a short letter from Ed to Het and from there it turned into a diary and also has a list of figures added up on it. Amazing that a scrap of paper like that can survive 116 years without being thrown away. The diary portion was written in August of 1898 and there are several mentions of Ed visiting, along with other people.


The piece de resistance, another item I didn’t even know I had, is a “family record” written by my great-grandmother with the dates of births and marriages and the HAIR from my little grandfather’s head, back when he had hair!


The little lock at the top is tied with string and ribbon and pinned with a straight pin to the paper. On the back of the paper it says “Arla’s hair clipped April 8th, 1901.” Looks like she would have been almost 9 months pregnant with my Aunt Det and maybe Arla was getting his hair cut for the first time. I assume the other lock of hair is his, too, but it may not be. Since she wrote in the details of Papa’s conversion to Christianity, she might have taken a lock of Aunt Det’s and just didn’t get it identified.

It is interesting to see that my great-grandmother used “Henry Etta” in writing her name on these documents. I have seen her do that in some other places, but it is generally accepted that her name was “Henrietta.” But since her brothers and sisters had middle names, maybe her name was Henry Etta after her father Henry.

These items were in an envelope my mother had written “SAVE” all over. It’s taken me most of the day to scan and ponder and scan and ponder and scan and transcribe and then to write the blog.” At this rate, I will never ever get the next book written. But maybe I’ll know a little bit more about what I possess.

December 4, 2013

Back to the Hallfords

Filed under: Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 10:46 pm

I wrote before about finding my Hallford great-great-great-grandmother’s grave in Corpus Christi and what that meant to me. (What? You didn’t read it? You’ll find it here and here.)

There are so few people that really understand what that discovery meant to me. When I was addressing my Christmas cards before Thanksgiving, I sent one to a Hallford cousin and scribbled on the back, “Remind me to tell you about finding Sarah Hallford’s grave!” She got the card today and emailed and was just as excited as I was.

I don’t exactly remember when I got in contact with Joan or if she got in contact with me. I was doing a lot of work on the Hallford family and she is married to a Hallford. At one time she had put a request in a newspaper for information about Hallfords. Somehow my mother saw it and, bless her, sent everything she knew about family history to Joan. Years and years go by, but somehow I find Joan again or she finds me. Remember, this is all before the days of the internet. She lived ALL the way on the other side of DFW back then. I lived in Carrollton and she was in the far north suburbs of Fort Worth.

But we got together. I think we had had some phone calls and exchanged some letters and information. We knew that her husband’s grandfather and my great-grandfather were first cousin (I think). Not super distant, but we certainly had never been at any family reunions together. Eventually, I got to meet her. It seems weird now… having been friends for 20 years or so now, that we have only met twice, as far as I can remember. Mark had a gig in Fort Worth so I went over early and stopped by their house first for a visit.

Joe and Joan were LOVELY people. The kind of people you yearn to be related to. They were educators. Smart, good looking, a beautiful home, a great life. I was so happy to meet them. Joan had lemon bars waiting and we talked nonstop forever, it seemed. She pulled out a slide projector to show me pictures of my great-great-great-grandfather’s grave in Hays County. She, like me, knew how to climb a fence or shimmy under it to get where she wanted to go, even if it was on private property. She also gave me the greatest gift—the picture I put on that first previous post of my ancestors. I don’t know where she had discovered it, but if you are old enough to remember the days before scanning and instant gratification with photos, this was a fabulous, amazing thing. She gave me a “real” photo. She also showed me one of coolest pictures I’ve ever seen. It was a picture related to relatives of theirs I wasn’t related to. It was a picture of an old African-American man with two little tow-headed blond toddlers beside his knees and a dog laying at his feet. The picture just gave you such a sense of comfort… he was a calming presence and it was obvious the boys were as comfortable with him as they would have been with their mother. I don’t know the story of the photos or even the era. I can make assumptions about him being a slave or a servant of the family. Whatever it was, it seems to be SO unusual to have a real posed portrait photo of a black man and white children all together. Maybe there are lots, but I’ve never seen them.

But back to Joe and Joan. They had a teenage son, too, that I have still never met, but I have heard about him growing up and going into the service and he is now married. Joe and Joan have retired from their jobs. When email came along we began emailing one another with neat bits of information. She was one of my greatest sources of Hallford info and a big supporter of all that I did to put together a book back in the early 90s of family history.

Today she sent me some grave pictures of my great-great-grandmother. I have seen pictures and sort of know where she is buried, but I have not found her grave. She sent me better pictures and got me hot on that trail again.

Joan was thrilled to know the final resting place of Sarah Hallford. Sarah and James the ancestors that Joan’s husband and I have in common. It was one of those loose ends that she needed to tie up to be happy about her Hallford research.

For 20 years we have sent Christmas cards and met twice (the other time was at an historic church anniversary that our family started), and we have been emailing for a lot of those years, too. I think it is time for another visit to the Fort Worth suburbs.

Holidailies 2013 Badge

November 17, 2013

A Little More Hallford

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 9:01 pm

I have thought of about a dozen things I want to write about and I want to write more often, but then I get caught up in something…

But I found this tonight that adds to the story of Sallie Hallford, who I wrote about before and finding her grave in Corpus Christi.

Most of my family of that era lived in Newburg, Texas. This grandmother Hallford was living with her son John there in the 1900 census. There is a church there, the South Leon Baptist Church, that was the church home of many of my ancestors and is still active in the sense that it exists. I believe less than 10 people attend the church each Sunday, but it is there, right by the cemetery. I found a short history of that church that was written in 1972. It gives me a little more insight into this Grandma Hallford.

The history tells about a combination church and school building that once existed (not the current building, but one near where the cemetery gate is now). Octavia Cunningham (the woman—yes, a cousin—that wrote the history) wrote:

“The men occupied the slatted pine pews in the south side of the building, the women sat on the north side and the young people, especially the young ladies with their beaus, occupied the center tier of pews. The pulpit was in the west end of the building. Near the north side of the pulpit sat Grandma Hallford (mother of J.H. Hallford) in her rawhide bottomed chair. She had to sit near the pulpit so she could hear the sermon. She was a great favorite in the community and her neighbors were always glad for her to come visit for a few days.”  

I like that. She sounds like a likeable person. Here’s one more picture of her grave and me with her. See the family resemblance?


I’ve also found her daughter’s grave in the Old Bay City Cemetery in Corpus Christi, but I hadn’t found it before we were there so we didn’t go to see it. It is a very impressive stone and has the fact that she was born in Missouri and points out more that she was a pioneer. She died only a few years after her mother.

November 3, 2013

Sally’s Corpus Christi Grave

Filed under: Cemeteries,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 10:32 pm

Mark and I went to Port Aransas for a very quick trip this weekend. He played a gig there for the Outdoor Dream Foundation with Tommy Alverson. Mark played with Tommy 20 years ago when we were newlyweds and this was the same four members of the band he played with then, so it was a very fun reunion for the guys. The band wives didn’t have the same kind of reunion because I was the only band wife that has stayed the same over the past 20 years. But I very much like the two band wives that were there, so it was a fun time for me, too.

The small portion of the trip I want to tell about right now, though, is about going to a cemetery (big groan from the audience—“Not again!”). Yes, we had to make a cemetery trip along with seeing the beach and friends and eating seafood.

I haven’t been to Corpus Christi or Port Aransas in a long while and in the meantime I have discovered that my great-great-great-grandmother was buried there. This is NOT a place I would have looked to find her grave since my family is centered in Central Texas. Her husband is buried in Dripping Springs, in Hays County, not all that far from our home. But he died in 1868 and she outlived him. I knew she was still alive in 1900 because she was living with her son’s family in Comanche at that time. But he died in 1902 so I could surmise that if she outlived her son she might go live with another child, but I just didn’t know much about the other children.

This trip makes me want to go back and do some more research on the Hallford family. I spent a LOT of time researching the Hallfords back in the days before I did research online. Now I can hardly remember how research was done before we did it online! Mainly what I did was write letters and people would send me good information and I compiled it. I wasn’t much of a good researcher then either. But I did write a book about our Hallford family just to give to the members of the Hallford family. That’s been 20 years and needs a good update with more of the information that is available in the world.

I had found the grave of “a” Sarah Hallford on findagrave.com at one time. The ages seemed right, but you still can’t be sure. But a summer or so ago I saw a book on Nueces County cemeteries and found just the bits of information I needed to prove that this Sarah Hallford was my g-g-g-grandmother. Of course, now I’m hunting to find what I DID with that information and I’m stumped, but I’ll come across it again.

So Sarah Hallford went to live with her youngest daughter Rebecca and her husband (and their name is the info I have misplaced). She is buried in the “New Bayview Cemetery” in Corpus Christi. I read up on it and found that the “Old Bayview Cemetery” has been protected and preserved because it is the oldest cemetery in Corpus. We found it first today. We didn’t get out to see it, but I did take this quick picture. It looked nice and cared for. The New Bayview Cemetery was established later in the 1800s and then it fell into disrepair and disuse and has not been kept up. Sadly, I also read that just this summer, most of the gravestones had been vandalized.


We found the cemetery easily. It is in a very poor, sketchy part of town. If I had been here on my own I might have snapped a picture from the car and driven on. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it wasn’t well kept. The cemetery is in two parts with a park in the middle. I don’t think that was the original plan and I’m not sure that the park wasn’t built on TOP of graves. But we found the further south section to begin with. There were very few graves visible and there were toppled gravestones, so this didn’t look good for finding her grave if there were no stones. We went on and checked out the more northern part of the cemetery and it looked much more like a cemetery should with lots of headstones… but they were almost all on the ground. It was the saddest sight. Sadder than the cemeteries I’ve been in where they have just been abandoned (well, like the cemetery where her husband is at in Dripping Springs, for instance). Huge headstones were laying everywhere and some were in pieces.

20131103_103720   20131103_103527

We got out and started looking through the cemetery. There is a picture of her headstone on findagrave, so I had an idea of what it looked like. The picture appears to be black-and-white and it looked like her stone was gray and laying flat on the ground, but it was hard to tell because it had been tightly cropped. We walked in different directions and I took pictures of some of the other graves. I really didn’t think we would find it. Mark caught up with me to see if I had found anything and then he turned around and said, “There she is.”


Her stone was on the ground, not connected to the base, but it was face up so we could find her name. We took our pictures and then we put the headstone back on its base. At that point, though, we decided it was so top heavy and it wasn’t going to be firmly attached. If it got knocked over again it would probably fall face down and someone like us might never discover her. So we put it back the way we found it and will hope that vandals will leave it alone.

The cemetery is owned by the city and I think there are efforts to preserve it, but I know in tight times, money spent to memorialize someone long dead with no family is hard to come by.

Who she was:

This is just the short, off-the-top-of-my-head, version. I will go back and find all the details and make it a better history. But maybe this will help someone that is just Googling her name. Sarah Medlin Hallford was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, December 12, 1812. 201 years ago. 201! She went by the name Sally. Her husband, James Powel Hallford, was born in South Carolina. They married October 2, 1834, probably in Tennessee. They moved eventually to Moniteau County, Missouri, and both of their parents and families also moved.

In the last year of the Republic of Texas, Sally and her husband James, and her brothers and sisters and their spouses all moved to Texas as a group, by wagon train, of course. They were called The Missouri Colony and they settled near Lewisville and it was called Hallford (or Holford or Halford) Prairie. They also then settled near Southlake and Grapevine and were all charter members of the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church. I need to nail down the dates of all of these things. It’s all documented, I don’t have to dig it all up, at least.

Her oldest son, Andrew Jackson Hallford became a well-known preacher and is buried in the cemetery there at the Lonesome Dove Baptist church. He and his brother John Harrison Hallford (my great-great-grandfather) enlisted together in the Civil War.

Sally and her husband James and their children’s families and at least her brother and his family all moved to Hays County in the 1860s. They were charter members of the Friendship Baptist Church there and it, like Lonesome Dove, still exists.

Her husband died in 1868 at the age of 56. I don’t know from that point when the family moved to Comanche County. Well, at least my part of the family did. And, like I said, she was living with that family during the 1900 census. I would assume she may have moved from child to child. That was how it was done a lot in those days. But her son, John Harrison Hallford, went to Greer County, Oklahoma, to help with the cotton crop and died while he was there. I’ve always said he went to help his son with the cotton crop, but now I see that his son had already died. But that would have left his two sons to be only in their twenties so maybe they needed help from their grandfather because of that. I don’t know details, but I know he died in Blair, Oklahoma, and was buried there. That left Sally with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Comanche so at some point I can only assume she went to live with her youngest child, Rebecca, and her husband in Corpus Christi.

You’d think I wouldn’t have a photo of anyone that was born 201 years ago and died over 100 years ago, but, amazingly, I do have a photo. I was lucky enough to meet a cousin that was researching the family and she gave me a copy of this amazing photograph of my great-great-grandparents and his mother Sarah Medlin Hallford. The photo was made in Laredo and at one point I had a theory of why they were in Laredo. Now, of course, I can’t find the info I drew this theory from. But I believe that the wife (Mary Jane Leonard Hallford) had a brother Levi in Laredo so they must have gone to visit him. But, despite the short fat gray-headed woman looking like the oldest, she is the wife of the man, John Harrison Hallford, and the woman on the left is Sally Hallford, buried in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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