I guess this is really not a genealogy post, but one of these days my children might be interested in all the places their mother lived.

For the first 17 years of my life, I lived on a little dirt road that didn’t even have a name. It branched off Goodwin Road (which didn’t have a name until I was in my teens), which branched off Happy Top Road. My parents bought 12 acres of land from my father’s uncle and aunt, Andrew and Stella Self Goodwin. They had the house framed up and then finished it themselves.

Happy Top Road

Happy Top Road

When I was 17 (a senior in high school), my parents separated and then divorced. I moved in with my mother, who had bought a mobile home in Fultondale.

I lived there from October, 1978 – August, 1979, when I moved to Boaz to attend college. I lived in the girl’s dormitory there for two years and then moved back in with my mother (in Fultondale).

In October, 1981, I bought a 12×40 mobile home (set up in a mobile home park near Jefferson State Community College) and lived there until August, 1984, when I had it moved to Morris.

I married in December and I moved to Auburn (where George was attending college). We lived in a rental trailer with his roommate from January to June, 1985. We bought our own mobile home , had it moved to the park we were living in already and were there until March, 1987.

Gentilly II

Gentilly II

My husband had accepted a job offer in Carrollton, Georgia and after the birth of our daughter on March 15, 1987, we moved on March 20th into an apartment in Carrollton. Three months later, we bought 3 acres of land with a mobile home on it in Ranburne, Alabama and lived there from June, 1987 to September, 1988.

We moved “home” and bought a mobile home (with the help of my grandparents) and rented a lot next to a cousin’s house from September, 1988 to August, 1995. Our son was born in November, 1988.

For three months (August-October, 1995), we lived with my mother and step-father in Hayden while we had a house built on Cato Road. We moved into our house on October 30, 1995 and were there until August, 2001.

Cato Road

Cato Road

My husband had transferred his employment to Russellville, Alabama, in July, 2001, so in August we moved into a rental house there (infested with fleas!) so the kids could begin the school year. We were in the rental house until September when we moved into a house we bought on Seminole Street.

Seminole Street

Seminole Street

Another employment change for my husband occurred in November, 2005. We sold the house in Russellville and moved to Kimberly, Alabama on December 22, 2005.

Chadwick Court

Chadwick Court

In September, 2009, my husband lost his job and spent 15 months unemployed. He received a job offer and began a new job in Guntersville, Alabama in December, 2010. The commute was too far to drive every day, so he rented a 1 bedroom house in Albertville for the two years it took us to sell our house in Kimberly.

In December, 2012, we moved into a house we bought in Albertville, Alabama.

Albertville, Alabama

Neyman Road

If I count all the times I’ve had to pack my belongings, I moved 6 times before I married (2 of those was to college & back home) and 12 since I married (2 of those include moving in with parents for a short time).

I hope I don’t have to move again, but if I do, there will be an edit to this blog post. (grin)


As I said in my last blog post, getting the Confederate and Union Civil War files for Daniel Cato, my great-great grandfather, has created more questions. Through the years, when I would find mention of Daniel in genealogy records, they stated that he was born in Houston County, Georgia. Several years ago, my mother and I traveled to the Georgia Archive in Morrow, Georgia and spent most of a day looking for any mention of Daniel Cato in the areas that would have been Houston County between 1825 and 1850. We found nothing. So, when I received his Union file and it shows he was born in Houston, Georgia, that got me to thinking…maybe he wasn’t born in Houston County, but in a town/area called Houston in another county. I posted the question on a Georgia Genealogy Facebook page and found that there is a Houston in Heard County and one in Jackson County in Georgia. I checked maps. Heard County is on the Georgia/Alabama line, which would make sense. Other family stories say he was in Coffee County, Alabama for a while and may have married there. Now I need to do some digging in the records for that area and see if I can find anything on a Daniel Cato that might lead me to his parent’s names. My next discovery in his Union file was that on February 20, 1865, he was sent on a “special service with Lt. Sanders beyond the Federal lines”. Hmmmm! A new name to track. Maybe I can find something on this Lt. Sanders that will lead me to more information on Daniel Cato. I did a search on the internet for “Lt. Sanders Co F 1st Florida Cavalry” and up pops an article on Joseph G. Sanders. Be careful what you wish for. Seems Joseph G. Sanders was somewhat of a rogue. Sanders, it seems, was also in the confederacy, but resigned his commission in January, 1864. He returned home, claiming ill health, but soon switched sides. He joined the 1st Florida Cavalry where he obtained a provisional commission as a Second Lieutenant in F Company of that regiment. AHA! The same company my Daniel was in! The article goes on to say that Sanders quickly established a reputation as a bushwhacker and wreaked havoc with local civilians. In early 1865 (this would coincide with Daniel Cato’s records which state he was sent out on February 20, 1865 with Lt. Sanders), he was sent on a recruiting mission and then disobeyed orders, spending four months in the Forks of the Creek Swamp near Campbellton, Florida. He emerged on March 14 to attack the southern Alabama town of Newton, along with 44 men (according to one story I found). The townspeople had been alerted to the attack and were able to ambush Sanders and his men, killing three and wounding five men. An investigation began in June, 1865, when Sanders returned to Pensacola after a four-month unauthorized absence with only eight of the twenty men who had been sent with him. (Daniel Cato’s Union file shows he returned to his company on June 5, 1865.) Sanders was not court-martialed and was allowed to resign on September 13, 1865. So…it seems my Daniel ran with some unsavory characters during his stint in the Union army. I can’t say I approve of his actions, but at least he lead an interesting life. Note: Information for this blog post came from articles found on Wikipedia: (1) Battle of Newton, (2) Joseph G. Sanders and on this website (3) http://www.battleofnewton.org/battlehistory.html I’ve also found that each year, a re-enactment of the battle is done in the town of Newton. I’m making plans to attend next year. (smile)

Cato, Daniel

Daniel Cato – 1865

The Cato line has been a hard one to trace for me. The most distant ancestor I have been able to prove is Daniel Cato, father of David Aught Cato, father of Ralph Tobie Cato (my grandfather).

I have, in the past couple of months, begun to pursue membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy. While I planned all along to join under another ancestor who served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, I do have some paperwork showing that Daniel Cato served in the confederacy and had planned to file a supplemental form under him. However, the papers I have give very little information so I decided to order his Confederate military file from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

While I was awaiting the information from his file, a cousin forwarded some information that someone else had sent to him about Daniel Cato. My cousin wanted to know if I had seen the information before. Some of it, I had; some I hadn’t. What he shared was apparently written by a great-grandchild of Daniel and Nancy Gilbert Cato and stated that Daniel “had served the South in the Civil War but was so disillusioned from the slavery that he had witnessed on the South Alabama plantations, he later joined the North as a Scout”. Aha! Maybe that’s why I have found very little on his Confederate service!

I finally received the Confederate service file. It contained a cover page and three Muster Rolls. I already had that. He enlisted on February 25, 1863 at Camp Lee by transfer; was a Private in Company I of the 29 Alabama Infantry Regiment; was present for muster (roll call) March through August, 1863. Each Muster Roll is for two months. That’s it. Nothing else.

So, I sent off for his Union file. It took longer to receive, but it contained 14 pages of information and although some of it repeats, it still gives me some interesting information.

On July 6, 1864, Lt. Rowley enlisted Daniel in the Army of the United States (Union) at East Pass, Florida for a term of three (3) years. He was 40 years old, born in Houston, Georgia and was a farmer. His physical description states that he was 5’6″ tall, had blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. He was mustered into Company F of the 1st Florida Cavalry as a Private by Major Allen on August 3, 1864 at Barrancas, Florida.

Daniel was present for Muster August 23 – December, 1864. On the Muster Roll for January & February, 1865, it states he was absent and in “Remarks” that he was “our scout since February 25, 1865”. On a Company Muster Roll for February 28 – June 30, 1865 in “Remarks”, it states “_____ & brush – wiper, 1 cone w 1 watering br., 1 Sabre belt complete $3.49”.  On a Company Muster Roll for July & August, 1865, in states in “Remarks”: Deserted from Camp Barrancas, Florida August 4, 1865 taking with him 1 carbine & accessories, 1 Sabre & accessories, 1 pistol & accessories, 1 ____ Saddle & equipment, 1 Shelter tent”. A “Returns” document in the file is broken down into three sections and some of it is un-decipherable to me, but what I can make out is this: “Feb ’65 – Absent ____ Scout since Feb. 25-’65 by Special Order 39, Headquarter District West Florida” and “March ’65 and May ’65: Absent _____ on Special Service with Lt. Sanders beyond the Federal lines since Feb. 20-’65”. Then, on a “Company Descriptive Book” column, it includes (along with a repeat of some of the above information), “Absent on special Service by Special Order No. 39 – 1865 since Feby 25/65, returned to the Regt. June 5/65. Deserted from Barrancas, Florida Aug. 4/65”.

The final page is a “Notation” column that says: The Military Secretary’s Office, War Department, Washington, May 26, 1904. The charge of desertion of August 4, 1865 against this man is removed and he is discharged to date August 4, 1865, under the provisions of the act of Congress, approved March 2, 1889. Discharge certificate furnished by War Department May 26, 1904.

So, now I know more facts about Daniel’s service, but the records just create more questions.

Note: If I was unable to figure out what a word was in the file, I put a blank (underlined areas).

I love trees (drawings, photos, old ones in the middle of a field…you get the idea) and I love genealogy (in case you haven’t already figured that out). When I was young and didn’t have any responsibilities (in the good, old days), I loved poetry. I read it and I wrote a little. These days, the only poetry I read or hear is in music lyrics or on facebook.

Around the time I was 13 or 14 years old, I ran across a poem that I loved and although I never memorized it, the line “In trees and men good timbers grow” stuck with me through the years. Last year I searched for it on the internet and found the entire poem and author’s name. I thought I would share it with you. Hope you like it, too.

Good Timber

The tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out in the open plain

And always got its share of rain,

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man

But lived and died as he began.

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.

by Douglas Malloch


Several years ago, when I began trying to trace my Brasher line, I ran into a mystery that I have yet to solve.

My line back through the Brasher family begins with my grandmother, Velma Lucile Brasher (married Alfred Levi Self). She was the daughter of Manual Alexander Brasher and Sarah Ellen Curry. Manual was the son of William Fate Brasher & Lebeth Goodwin. William was the son of James N. Brasher & Aphra K. H. Graves.

I can’t find any trace of James N. Brasher except in the Blount County, Alabama probate/will records of Aphra’s father, Alexander Graves. In the probate records of her father, she is referred to as Afrey Basher, widow of James Basher and on her headstone, it shows she was the “Wife of J.N. Brasher”.

Aphra married, on July 30, 1854 in Blount County, Alabama, a man named James N. Bicknell (name from marriage license). I don’t know what happened to him either.

I have never been able to find a marriage license for Aphra and James N. Brasher or find them in any census record.

In the 1880 Census for Cullman County, Alabama, Aphra has no husband in the household, but has seven children, all shown as born in Alabama. The 1910 Census shows she had a total of nine children and only five were living in 1910.

To further muddy the waters, William (her son) is shown in the 1900 & 1920 Census as born in Tennessee and in 1930 and on his death certificate, he is shown as born in Georgia. Another son, Benjamin, is shown in the 1900 – 1930 census’ as being born in Tennessee.

With the similarities in the names and the date of the marriage, I have wondered if maybe James N. Bicknell and James N. Brasher were the same person and at some point, for some reason, he changed his last name. The oldest child of Aphra was born about 1855, but died before 1910 and I haven’t been able to find any records on her.

My grandmother, Velma, told me at one time that her grandmother, Aphra, was from Rising Fawn, Georgia. Research into Aphra’s family proved that wrong. Her family came from North Carolina and settled in Blount County, Alabama. I have found no trace of this family in Georgia or Tennessee.

Were James N. Bicknell and James N. Brasher the same person? What happened to him? Were the children born in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia? Looks like I have some more digging to do!

When I married a Hughes in 1984, of course I began to research his families. For a long time, the Hughes line was one of my dead-ends, but I had a break-through in 2003 when I “met” another researcher via the internet. He shared with me that he had a small book he had gotten from his mother, written by Alice Hughes, his second cousin 2x removed. The book confirmed what we had believed for several years…that Jesse was a son of George Hughes and Rhoda Garrett of Laurens County, South Carolina.

Alice mentions in the book that, about 1871, her family traveled from Flowery Branch, Georgia by wagon and settled in Jefferson County, Alabama near her father’s great uncle, Jesse. Alice’s father, John Taylor Hughes, was the son of Matthew Martin Hughes. Matthew’s father was John Hughes, the oldest son of George Hughes & Rhoda Garrett. So that would make John Hughes and Jesse Hughes brothers.

According to records that I have found, it seems that Jesse and his family had come to Alabama and on September 20, 1839, he purchased 80+ acres of land in Township 15, Range 2 West of Jefferson County. In 1857 & 1858, he bought additional land totaling 321.10 acres in Township 14, Range 2 West.

He and his wife, Mary Powell Hughes, raised 11 children to adulthood. They were:
Ary E. (1836-1897)
James Miles (1839-1928)
William Moses (1842-1930)
Rhoda Jane (1843-1917)
George Powell (1845-1929)
Rebecca Laura (1848 – aft. 1920)
John (1850-1946)
Nancy Lou (1852-1926)
Jesse Columbus (1857-1921)
Mary Alice (1857-1917)
Christopher K. (1861-1937)

All census records show Jesse was a farmer and all but one show him as born in South Carolina.

One of his sons, James Miles, ended up in Morgan County, Alabama.
William Moses, John and Jesse Columbus ended up in Texas.
Rebecca Laura probably died in Oklahoma after 1920.
George Powell died in a home for Confederate Veterans in Chilton County, Alabama.
All the other children are buried within five miles of where Jesse and Mary are buried at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Jefferson County, Alabama.

Jesse Hughes

Jesse Hughes

As I mentioned in a previous post, the parentage of my great-great-grandmother, Mamie Ellison (or Allison) Farley Key, has been a dead-end in my research efforts. Supposedly, her mother’s name was Catherine Gallagher Ellison or Allison and she was Black Dutch. I have a photo of her (Catherine). She weighed about 300 lbs. in the photo and I was told by my grandmother, Gladys, that Catherine died in Cedartown, Georgia. I can find no trace of her in Cedartown.

I had to make a trip “home” to Jefferson County today and after a conversation with my mother last night about Mamie, I decided to run down a lead while in the area.

Sometimes you have to work on a collateral line to get to where you want to go. Mamie had one sister that I have been able to track a little. Her name was Josephine “Josie” Ellison (or Allison) Crawford. Through the information gleaned several years ago from another of Josie’s descendants, I was able to find a granddaughter of Josie’s who is still living. I looked up her address and my mother and I drove to Empire this afternoon looking for the woman. (I had tried calling her phone number in the past, but never got an answer.)

We found the house (finally) and I got out of the car and went to knock on the door by myself. My mother waited in the car. The lady was on the telephone when I first knocked…I could hear her talking through the wall. She didn’t come to the door. I knocked again and I heard her get off the telephone. She came to the back door, where I had knocked, and asked who it was (through the door). I told her my name and she said, “I don’t think I know you.” I said, “No ma’am, we’ve never met, but my great-great-grandmother and your grandmother were sisters.” She said, “Oh, I don’t know anything about that.” So I asked if I could talk to her for a few minutes (still talking through the door, because she hadn’t opened it). She said, “Well, I don’t open my door for people I don’t know.” So, I said, “Okay, I understand. I just wanted to talk to you about Josie and see if you could tell me anything about her.” Her reply was that she doesn’t know anything about Josie and that her son doesn’t want her opening the door for people she doesn’t know. So, I thanked her for talking to me, told her I understood and to have a good day.

I walked back to my car just shaking my head. Another dead-end in my search for information on Josie & Mamie and their parentage, but definitely a memorable search. (grin)

John Wesley Self was my great-great grandfather. According to census records, he was born in March of 1858, and his headstone has his date of death as 1916. (I have not been able to find a death certificate for him.)

John was the son of Jesse Ellis Self and Sarah Taylor. He married Gemimia Elizabeth Hall, daughter of Levi Hall and Emily Caroline Cooper, on December 8, 1878 in Jefferson County, Alabama.

John was too young to serve in the Civil War when it began and too old to serve in World War I, so was never in the military.

John and Gemimia had eleven children, according to the 1910 Census. The nine that lived were: James Pierce Self (my great-grandfather), Nancy Ellen Self, Luvenie Hazeltine Self, Martha Rachel “Mattie” Self, Levi Brantley Self, Cora Ioma Self, Yancy Sylvester Self, Milton Odus Self and Vada Estelle Self.

John and Gemimia lived all their lives in Jefferson County, except for a brief move to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas between 1882 and 1886. Their daughter, Nancy, was born in Arkansas. I have no idea why they moved to Arkansas, but the story is that there were so many wild animals in the mountains that they were unable to farm or even sit on the front porch, so they moved back to Jefferson County.

The 1880, 1900 and 1910 Census’ show John as a farmer.

John Wesley Self & Gemima Elizabeth Hall Self with children - about 1905

John Wesley Self & Gemima Elizabeth Hall Self with children – about 1905

Children of John & Gemimia Hall Self James, Nancy, Luvenie, Mattie, Vada (front) Levi, Cora, Yancy, Milton (back)

Children of John & Gemimia Hall Self
James, Nancy, Luvenie, Mattie, Vada (front)
Levi, Cora, Yancy, Milton (back)

John and Gemimia are buried at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery on Thermal Road in Warrior, Alabama.

Self, John W. & Gemimia E.

My grandmother, Gladys Lee Pearly Gertrude Aaron, was born on January 27, 1921. She was born to an un-wed mother and was listed as Gladys Farley on the 1930 Census. On February 25, 1939, a marriage application was filed for Gladys Gertrude Farley and Virgil Edgar Chandler, but the marriage ceremony was never performed. She married Ralph Tobie Cato on July 27, 1940 and they had two children. She worked hard all her life and died in her sleep, sitting in a chair in her living room in Warrior, on November 1, 2001.

Mary Magdalene Farley Aaron & Gladys Lee Aaron - About 1940

Mary Magdalene Farley Aaron & Gladys Lee Aaron – About 1940

Nanny’s mother was Mary Magdalene Farley, born September 5, 1901. She had two children prior to her marriage to (Robert) Earnest Aaron on October 22, 1922 in Walker County, Alabama. After their marriage, her youngest son, Bo, was born. Earnest deserted the family when Bo was about 6 months old and they never saw him again. Mary divorced him for desertion on December 6, 1944 and married Buster Arnold Calloway on May 19, 1945. At this point in time, I have no idea who the father of the first two children was.

Buster & Mary Farley Calloway - December 24, 1985

Buster & Mary Farley Calloway – December 24, 1985

Mary’s mother was born Mamie Daisy Delia Margaret Eva Ella Annie Laura Lee Ellison (my grandmother always said Mamie was named after all her aunts) on March 17, 1869 (according to her headstone, but I have about 5 possible birth dates for her). She married James P. Farley about 1897, but I haven’t been able to find a marriage license for them. They had three children, with the middle one dying as a baby. James died between 1900 and 1904 and Mamie married John Washington Key on July 24, 1904 in Cullman County, Alabama. They had six children together.

Mary’s father, James P. Farley, was born in January, 1870 (from census) to Lewis and Martha Catherine “Kitty” Jones Farley, in Morgan County, Alabama. Lewis was shown as a farmer on the 1900 and 1910 Census’ and a coal-miner on the 1920 Census. James was shown as a teamster on the 1900 Census for Jefferson County and I expect he was working in the coal mines. As stated above, he died between 1900 and 1904. We believe he was buried in the Jefferson County Cemetery at Morris, but don’t know for sure. All records have been lost or destroyed on the early burials in that cemetery and the graves are only marked with numbers.

Mamie’s parents are a mystery. I have a photo of Mamie’s mother and was told by my grandmother, Gladys, that she was “Black Dutch”, her name was Catherine Gallagher and she married a William or David Ellison. I have not been able to find any information on Mamie or her parents before 1900. Mamie had one sister that I have a little information on, but it has not led me to their parents at this point.

Catherine Gallagher Ellison

Catherine Gallagher Ellison

In recent months, I believe I have finally found the mother of Lewis Farley. Lewis was born in September, 1849, according to the 1900 Census, but in 1870 his age is shown as 24, which would make him born about 1846. I have found a Lewis Farley in the household of Rachel Farley in 1870, with his age shown as 19, which would make him born about 1841. Apparently his father was deceased by 1870. On November 29, 1868, Lewis married Martha C. Jones in Lawrence County, Alabama and they had at least four children. He died on August 20, 1926 at Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and is buried in Cemetery #2 at the hospital.

There is more “digging” to be done on Lewis’ family.

After my last post, a comment made by one of my first cousins that they had no idea that Lewis Farley was also their ggg-grandfather got me thinking. I’m going to try to share some information on our grandparents’ lineage (in two different posts) so they won’t be able to say that again.

All six of us first cousins on the Cato side were fortunate enough to know Papa and Nanny (Granny) Cato. Papa (Ralph Tobie Cato) was born on May 15, 1913, but always celebrated his birthday on May 16, because that’s when he thought it was. It wasn’t until he sent for a copy of his birth certificate that he found out “Baby Boy Cato” was born on May 15. He married Myrtle Thrasher on March 1, 1935, but they divorced not long after that. He married Gladys Lee Aaron on July 27, 1940. They had two children. Papa died, at his home in Warrior, Alabama on November 18, 1996 of a massive heart attack.

Headstone at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery

Headstone at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery

Papa’s father was David Aught Cato, born July 26, 1873, and died when Papa was 9 years old, on August 2, 1922 of tuberculosis. David’s wife, Pearly Goodwin Cato, was born on August 4, 1888. She married on November 26, 1903 and had three children (two died shortly after birth) before her death on December 20, 1918, when Papa (Tobie) was 5 years old. She probably died of tuberculosis also, but I haven’t been able to find a death certificate for her.

Headstone at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery

Headstone at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery

David Aught’s father was Daniel Cato, born March 30, 1825 in either Georgia (from census records) or Florida (from obituary). He, supposedly, married an Isabel Cotton about 1855 in Coffee County, Alabama, but I have found no proof. About May of 1856, he married Nancy Ann Gilbert and they had at least six children. Daniel served in the Confederate Army Company I of the 29th Alabama Infantry. He died on May 25, 1904 in Jefferson County, Alabama.

David Aught’s mother, Nancy Ann Gilbert, was born November 19, 1833 in Darlington, South Carolina and died on February 26, 1929 in Jefferson County, Alabama.

Headstone at County Line Baptist Church Cemetery, Blount County, AL

Headstone at County Line Baptist Church Cemetery, Blount County, AL

Daniel Cato (1825-1904) is as far as I have been able to go on the Cato line. I have a few more generations on the Gilbert family that I will post in another entry.