Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Rose by Any Other Name is a Vampire

I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog that there were various spellings of the name Cullins/Cullens/Cullen. One of the most important is the one I didn’t mention – Collins. The following name definitions came from and they quote their source as: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press
Cullins Name Meaning:  Variant of Irish Collins
First, as you see, it says right out that Cullins is a variant of Irish Collins.
Collins Name Meaning
Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Coileáin and Mac Coileáin (see Cullen 1).English: patronymic from the Middle English personal name Col(l)in, a pet form of Coll, itself a short form of Nicholas. Americanized form of French Colin.
Cullen Name Meaning
Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Coileáin ‘descendant of Coileán’, a byname meaning ‘puppy’ or ‘young dog’.Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Cuilinn ‘descendant of Cuileann’, a byname meaning ‘holly’. Scottish: habitational name from Cullen in Banff, so named from Gaelic cùilen, a diminutive of còil, cùil ‘nook’, ‘recess’.English: habitational name from the Rhineland city of Cologne (Old French form of Middle High German Köln, named with Latin colonia ‘colony’).English: variant of Cooling.
The names are more or less interchangeable. I can imagine that a family named Collins would immigrate to America and the name could be corrupted by American accents, or read incorrectly from the hand written records. The children of these immigrants were often less well educated than their relations in England and Ireland as the families moved into the wilderness where there were no schools. Spending time in school, should there be one, was a luxury as the older children were needed to help with farming. Whatever the reason – I’ve found that some researchers say our early immigrants were Collins and others Cullins.  Cullins was the maiden name of my Great Grandmother, Hannah. She may never have known that the name was once Collins.  We, looking back on the many generations, have a better view of the evolving name.  The fact that our early immigrants lived in Virginia with its soft, slurring, lovely southern accent may have played a part.
John Sr. and Jr. when they went to Ohio were using the name Cullins.  Yet John Sr.’s father Edward may have been known as Edward Collins – but most likely was Edward Cullins (or, if you will - Cullen). These days such a name brings vivid pictures of our favorite vampires a la the Twilight series. It is interesting to contemplate our forebears as vampires (hopefully falling in the ‘good vampire’ category). How fun that our Edward Cullins can draw forth an entertaining fantasy. 

Right now I have to leave Edward Cullins and his father John Collins in the land of myth as they didn’t dwell in the rugged wilderness of Ohio. But maybe someday our family, like Caroline Kennedy and her father, President John F. Kennedy, will retrace the Cullins/Collins journey with a trip to Ireland – a land of magic and mystery – to see if the Cullins set sail in comfy coffins.
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare

Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Thing Leads to Another

[Music while you read? Scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the YouTube link!]
I was at the dentist yesterday and we were talking genealogy (of course) when he said he was looking for an old book about his family.  I came home very numb and decided to look for the book, since I couldn't eat.  His book didn’t appear but I found “The Draper Family in America” and several others that are most useful.

Because of,, and googlebooks, among others, there is access online to many free, out of copyright books.  These books are a treasure trove left by our ancestors telling their tales and leaving footprints for us to follow.  While browsing this morning I foundChronicles of border warfare, or, A history of the settlement by the whites, of north-western Virginia, and of the Indian wars and massacres in that section of the state: with reflections, anecdotes, etc. (1915)”. Now there’s a title for you! As you can imagine it is written in archaic English that leaves lovers of snappy American prose bored to tears. Still, if the reader wades in with a translator’s eye there are many gems hidden in the weighty language.
Until this morning I didn’t know this book existed but it is just what I was wishing for yesterday. The genealogy gods are watching over me . . . or is it the spirits of our early Ohio ancestors who want their stories told? Blind luck or Devine intervention . . . this book is over 400 pages of treasure.

Our ancestors of the Beatty, Cullins, Draper, Meredith and McCord families (for the most part) were perched on the brink in Orange County, Virginia (later to become West Virginia and carved into various counties). They were pushing into Indian territory. Their experience was raw, and real, and dangerous.
In the index of “Chronicles” – Hallelujah!!! so many of these old books have no index – I found references to geographical areas. I flipped to page 54 – the index telling me that I’d learn about the nature and experience of the pioneers - and at the top of the page the author mentions Col. John Stuart of Greenbrier.

Until this morning I’d never heard of Greenbrier, in the future West Virginia, but I hopped on to Google and then to my favorite website, Wikipedia (love, love, love it!) and here is exactly what I needed to know about our families. . .

“Prior to the arrival of European settlers around 1740, Greenbrier County, like most of West Virginia, was used as a hunting ground by the Shawnee and Cherokee Nations. This land, which they called Can-tuc-kee, was thought to be inhabited by ghosts of Azgens, a white people from an eastern sea who were said to be killed off by the Shawnee's ancestors. According to the legend, the area was owned by the bones and ghosts of the Azgens, who would permit responsible hunting but, according to Black Fish, "we are never allowed to kill the game wantonly, and we are forbidden to settle in the country...if we did, these ghosts would rise from their caves and mounds and slay us, but they would set father against son and son against father and neighbor against neighbor and make them kill one another." Thus, while hunting parties were permitted to camp and exploit the area, permanent settlements east and south of the Spay-lay-we-theepi (Ohio River) were forbidden.

Shawnee leaders, including Pucksinwah and, later, his son Tecumseh, were alarmed by the arrival of the European settlers. In the first place, they viewed the white settlements as violating the Azgen taboo. Second, they feared for the loss of their hunting lands, which they viewed as being vital to their survival. Last and not least, they correctly suspected that it was only a matter of time before the white settlers would cross the river and invade their homelands in present-day Ohio.   

OMG! Did the lost settlers of Roanoke wander into Greenbrier Valley, or Vikings? This article helps to make real the experience of our ancestors – and anecdotal books like the Chronicles help to put flesh and bone on dry names and dates.

AND, near the bottom of that Wiki History of Greenbrier is this sentence –

“What is said to be the oldest golf course in the United States was founded in 1884 just north of White Sulphur Springs by the Montague family.”

The search came back to my dentist – Dr. Montague!

Greenbrier Resort
I wonder what our great Grandparents would think of this! Who would have guessed - not even me!

Goin’ with the flow . . . one thing leads to another . . . can’t use that phrase without The Fixx playing in my head. . .

YouTube - doctordel - The Fixx - One Thing Leads To Another (12" Extended Mix) VINYL

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finding Focus Through Chaos

The To Do list is the rock I tether my boat to.  The To Do for daily housekeeping tether’s my life boat. The To Do list for the Ohio project keeps me focused on a long range goal. Life is messy and it gets in the way, often causing obstacles or log jams that impede the flow. Lately that has included company, social activities, housework, a broken washer, and a couple of trips to the dentist.  It’s always something, right? And, for those not retired that would include work.  I’m very thankful to be retired from working for others so that I can focus on my life’s work of family history and writing.

Lately I’ve been swept along with the river of events taking a swipe at the project at odd bits of time. Now, looking at the To Do list and my x’s (which marks completed) I can see I’m making progress. Sure I’d hoped to be finished with this first family last week.  I can console myself that it is the first family – the one that breaks ground and of necessity takes the longest as I figure out what works best.

Of course, the simple statement that there are 18 families with 9 on each side (father and mother) is deceptive. The Cullins family, John and Rebecca, with whom I started, has grown to include their ancestors and descendants who also lived in Ohio.  Looking at the timeline (also on the list) shows that these families were in the area since before part of the Northwest Territory became the State of Ohio in 1803. Basically our families in Muskingum County were there from about 1802-1850 when there was a big migration west as Iowa was opened for settlement.

This morning I found on the Muskingum County Ohio Genealogical Society website the application for “First Families” to settle in the county. Our people certainly qualify.  The application is lengthy and filling out forms is one of my least favorite activities – however, I may pursue this for our first family. It is possible that all 18 or so families will qualify for similar status but the cost to establish that fact may be too much unless family members would like to ‘sponsor’ a family.

Of course, this one family of the original 18 families has grown to more families.  There are Cullins: John Sr. and John Jr. The Cordray family is there but needs more research.  The Meredith family is from Coshocton County that borders Muskingum County.  Dorcas Meredith (married to John Cullins Jr) and her father, Obediah were probably some of the earliest into Coshocton.  Rebecca Draper, who married Obediah Meredith traveled to Coshocton County with her parents, Isaac and Ann McCord Draper . . . and so it grows.  We now have Cullins (3 generations with William moving to Iowa), Cordray, Meredith, Draper, and McCord surnames with just our first family. With 5 surnames and two counties you can see how easy it could be to get lost in the research.

When doing some research this morning I found that my new blog is showing up with the googles already. YAY!  Anyone out there – information on any of these families is most welcome.   Oops; I'm floating out of sight of the boat – time to swim to the To Do list.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Find A Grave

Find A Grave – this website was at the top of my “To Do” list for John Cullins and family this morning. Do you know this site?  It is a gem. According to my membership account I’ve been a member 2 years, 4 months, and 4 days. Despite its sad connection to death it is a living, growing, active website where people come to find relatives who’ve passed, or pay tribute by leaving virtual flowers,

or see who else is researching their Aunt Mabel. It stands alone or as a compliment to your tree, and Find A Grave information is available there.

It is a forum to share messages and photos. It is also a great place to volunteer. I use the site very often but do not invest the time many people do, as there are higher priorities at the moment.  In two years it tells me I’ve added one memorial; I manage 2 memorials (that previous owners have handed over to me); uploaded one photo; put in 4 photo requests: left 88 virtual flowers; and added 2 friends. I haven’t put up a bio.  I know, that is pretty pitiful and I must do better in the future.  I’ve volunteered to go out to the local cemeteries and take photos of grave sites requested but it is a popular thing to do here and any requests are snatched up before I get a chance to get out there.  Sigh. For the four requests I’ve made for the Robb family at Cadiz Union Cemetery in Harrison County, Ohio, no one seems to be volunteering.  Maybe some of these San Diegans can drop by sometime. The site tells me that it is only 2,057 miles from home.
Cadiz Union Cemetery
Cadiz, Harrison, Ohio

The Cullins' grave sites needed for our Ohio Pioneers project are in Muskingum County Ohio. Thank you to the volunteers who have trekked to the local cemeteries to record and upload the graves. 

I do my best to connect the Find A Grave to each person (international grave sites are being recorded, as well) where it is available.  I download the hint from and then visit the Find A Grave site – pick up the link and put it in the “Web Links” section (bottom right corner) of the page for that person.  I used to laboriously transfer photos from Find A Grave to but there isn’t any need now that the link is on the page – just a click and you’ll find them.

This morning I looked up the Find A Grave for John 1705-1780 and Jane Cullins. Name spellings change over time and for this name I needed to search Cullins, Cullin, Cullen, Cullens. In Virginia the name comes up Cullens and in Ohio it comes up Cullins for the same family of different generations. John and Jane are my 6th great grandparents and are our immigrant couple coming from Ireland and settling in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. I found no listings for their grave sites – they may exist but are not on Their son Edward Cullins and wife, Jane Jones, 5th great grandparents, moved to Orange County, Virginia. No luck finding their resting place.

Ah, but their son John Cullins, 4th great grandfather, is on Find A Grave – not with a grave site but a very nice memorial article.  He, along with his wife, Rebecca Jane Beatty, was our early Ohio pioneer, possibly around 1803. There is no memorial for Rebecca. They added to the early population of Ohio by having 10 children and they died in Washington, Muskingum, Ohio.

The 5th child of John and Rebecca Cullins was John Jr. 1791-1857.

Gravestone of John Cullins, Jr. 1791-1857
He married Dorcas Meredith. Dorcas came from a family of Ohio pioneers in Coshocton County and she died in Fayette County, Iowa. Her tombstone is pictured on Iowa Gravestone Photos Project online. John Jr is featured on Find a Grave in Muskingum County,Ohio. These were my 3rd great grandparents.
The 2nd great grandparents, William C Cullins and Amanda Cordray were born in Muskingum County, Ohio but moved on to be Iowa pioneers. It is likely that William’s mother, Dorcas moved west with this couple after the death of her husband.
It has been fun finding information on Find A Grave this morning. Complaints about the site?  I don’t think their search engine works as well as it could.  If you put in information for a specific person often they don’t come up although they are there somewhere.  I’ve found that searching by location and cemetery is sometimes necessary. Search by last name only is helpful. If you are persistent you can often be rewarded.

[Note added 20 Feb 2018 - Since writing this article Find A Grave was purchased by Subsequently, they have revamped and up-graded the site. It is a great addition to and it is easy to connect your ancestor in Find A Grave to your tree in!]

Photo of John Cullin's gravestone Added by: Kaci Cullins
11/22/2006 on

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father’s Day 2013

Since the ancestors on my tree ( are marked with a picture of the flag of their home state (most often the state in which they died) it proved to be a fairly easy task to identify my Ohio pioneers. 
They range in degree from 2nd to 6th Great Grandparents, with the majority as 4th GGs. In the end there was a total of 18 families – 9 Ohio pioneers families on my father’s side and nine on my mother’s – each family with siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. That is an amazing number of people living, working, breathing in the early air of Ohio – a state I’ve only traversed on the turnpike (once) and train without a stop, and a trip to Bowling Green State University where my Florida son, scholarship in hand, spent one freezing semester before leaving the lake effect snow behind for a Florida State degree.

Most of those families came from more easterly states where they had been even earlier pioneers. They were English, German, or Irish. They were the children of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, or South Carolina pioneers seeking land of their own to farm, seeking greener pastures, or abolitionists shaking off the dirt of a slave-holding state. All of them were American citizens, most with roots going back far beyond the Revolution to the earliest settlement of the colonies. Ohio was the Wild West – raw and new – the Promised Land for this new generation of Americans.

With 18 families identified I moved to making a list of ‘to dos’ – tasks to be completed for each family for their entry in our Ohio pioneers book. That I do this and stick with it is absolutely essential.  I love to research and I could get totally absorbed in that work on one or two families and find myself in December and a long way from completing my intended project.  The list may change over time but if I do the tasks, ticking them off as I go, I should be able to finish in time for Christmas – I hope!

Which family to start with? That choice was totally random. I picked a family from my father’s side – it seems right as today is Father’s Day. And, it actually involves two families – John Cullins, Sr. 1758-1837 and his wife, Rebecca Jane Beatty 1770-1843; and John Cullins, Jr. 1791-1856 and his wife, Dorcas Meredith 1800-1882. I made a file for John and Rebecca, looked at what I have on for them – increased it as much as I could and moved on to researching other sites on the Internet. I’m off and ticking through the ‘to do’ list!  Ohio by Christmas or bust!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ohio Pioneers

. . . and so it begins. Our pioneers in Ohio. The dream has been this for decades – to pass along the stories of our family to my children; and to do it by not only personal, specific accounts, but through literature – the well-love and carefully researched historical novels, histories, biographies, and autobiographies that I’ve read along the way.   

This is not to be a linear path from, let’s say, 900AD to the present. The books were and are read in random order. Last year I was inspired by the Medieval power couple, Sir William Marshall and Lady Isabel de Clare, through the well-researched, well-imagined stories of Elizabeth Chadwick in two historical novels: The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion.  When I first picked-up the books I knew that the couple were on our family tree. Looking closer at the spider-web of family connections I found, much to my surprise, that the Marshall family is very significant to the make-up of our family. No fewer than five lines from four of the Marshall daughters found their way down to our present-day family. I’d have to say that my children and grandchildren have a strong claim to the Marshall legacy. It is one to be proud of and to cherish.


I started by buying new copies of each of the Chadwick historical novels as Christmas gifts for my 4 adult children and 4 adult grandchildren. Then I set about the labor of love – compiling an individualized account that displayed their descendency from William and Isabel.

I hope that each of them will come to treasure the gift and use those three books as the start of their family history library and keep them through their life-times and pass them on to their children.

I have four younger grandchildren and two great grandchildren who didn’t receive copies but it is my hope that their parents will see that they have an opportunity to read them. This year one of those four grandchildren, Maia, has reached the age of 10 and is a reader. She will receive her personalized copies. And so there will be nine. . . ‘Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise!’ as they once said back in Ohio territory. . .