Samuel Byrd and the Texas Taxman

You can learn a lot from tax records.  Consider Samuel Byrd.

This Samuel Byrd was born in Tennessee on April 14, 1814.  He was the son of David Byrd and Jane Morehead.  His grandparents were Richard and Elizabeth Buster Byrd.  He (this Samuel Byrd) is one of my great, great grandfathers.  I say “this” Samuel Byrd because he’s often confused with his son Samuel Zedock Byrd (1852 – 1938) by people building online trees.  We know much about this son.  I visited his and his second wife’s grave a few weeks ago in Collin County, Texas.  I also, quite by accident, came across his first wife’s grave in a Hunt County, Texas cemetery while looking for another great, great grandfather.  His death certificate records his name as S.Z. Byrd.  There’s a good article about him and his family in a book on Collin County families.   (Collin County Texas Families, Alice Ellison Pitts and Minnie Pitts Champ; Cutis Media, Hurst, Texas; pages 69, 70.)  The article was written by Bryan Vicars, a proud family descendant.  I can’t prove some of the statements in the article (In fact, I can disprove some and doubt others.), but I do know “this” is Samuel Zedock Byrd, the son of my great, great grandfather Samuel Byrd.

I’m very interested in “my” Samuel Byrd.  I know so little about him.  I know more about his wife Elizabeth Horn Byrd.  I know a lot more about his other children.  I’ve spent considerable time trying to know him yet he remains distant and illusive to me.

Some say Samuel Byrd migrated to Texas in the middle 1850’s.  Someone reported on Find a Grave that he died September 11, 1857 and is buried in historic Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, Texas.  I cannot confirm either of those statements.  The cemetery association was “officially” formed in or after 1870.  It is believed however that people have been buried in those grounds since the 1850’s.  According to land records, the land was originally owned by the McFarland and then fairly soon purchased by the Davis Family.  Both of these families previously lived in Wilson County, Tennessee before migrating to Texas.  It is believed by some that both Jeremiah and Elizabeth Horn were born in Wilson County.  Could their families, the Horns, McFarlands and Davis’s, known each other in Tennessee?

I know my great, great grandmother Elizabeth is buried in Pecan Grove.  I know her second husband Thomas Rodman is buried beside her.  I once thought my 2 x great grandfather Samuel was buried there in a vacant space on the other side of Elizabeth.  I no longer do.  Here are some reasons.

  • There is no record of his burial there. He is not in any plot records including the hand written originals in the cemetery’s safe.
  • The cemetery personnel believe someone may be buried in that vacant space but have no way of knowing who. It’s not in the records.  The plot is actually still for sale.  I give more weight to Samuel and Elizabeth’s six year old son Jeremiah David Byrd being buried there in 1861 and may explain Elizabeth’s decision to return here to bury her second husband and later have her children bury her there.  The name on those occupied plot deeds is Elizabeth Rodman dated from the 1870s.  She only purchased 2 plots when she certainly could have afforded 3 and a headstone for her first husband.  (BTW, my “abt” and “aft” date of 1855 for Samuel’s death date on my family tree is based on Jeremiah David’s 1855 birth date.
  • There are no records of any kind for “this” Samuel Byrd in the State of Texas.   No census.  No probate.  No obituaries.  No bank records.  No land records.  No tax records.  There is nothing you would expect from a man settling in to a new place…or dying!  And, I can find some or all of these for Elizabeth and her children in Texas beginning in 1860.

Death and taxes are the two certain things in life.  The tax man always cometh.  When I thought about this, I decided to firm up my suppositions with “negative proof”.  I would need to show myself there is no evidence “my’ Samuel Byrd ever arrived in Texas –  tax records.  Samuel Byrd was never to my knowledge, and I searched four likely counties, charged a tax in Texas. That means no taxes for land, occupation, income, etc.  None.

But, here’s something interesting.  I began tracking Samuel’s father-in-law Jeremiah Horn and his sons George and John’s tax records.  They began paying taxes in 1846 in Collin County and continued to pay taxes through 1857.  These included taxes on their wagons and we know they were teamsters and had a freight business.  Then in 1858, I lost them and did not pick them up again until 1860.  Why?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it was an oversight on my part.  But it wasn’t just Jeremiah, it was Jeremiah and George and John.  All three owned original survey land in Collin County.

OK, I don’t know what happened.

Here’s something I know.  In the 1860 Federal Census, Elizabeth and her children are living in Collin County near the Lebanon Post Office.  She is the head of her household and works as a weaver.  The community of Lebanon was named after Lebanon, Tennessee the previous home of many of the early settlers in this part of Collin County.  That’s Lebanon in Wilson County, Tennessee.  She lived about nine miles south of her father’s home place and about five miles west of another property once surveyed for him.  She was about nine miles north of her “missing” husband’s cousin James Byrd in north Dallas County and about eleven miles east of her son Pleasant Wesley’s future wife’s family in Denton County.

What if Samuel Byrd, yes “that” one, died in Alabama?  What if the Horns made the trip to where Elizabeth was living in order to help her, her five girls and young sons, finish crops, sale land, pack up and make the move to Texas in 1859?

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’m open to new documented evidence.  But here’s what I know so far…the Texas taxman never came for Samuel Byrd, but death did.


Have you ever used tax records in your family history research?  Interested?

Check out Susan Jackman’s great article on using taxes in your genealogical research.

http://www.archives.com/experts/jackman-susan/tax-records-in-genealogical-research.html

Ten Genealogical Lessons I Learned the Hard Way – New FREE webinar available for a LIMITED TIME

Here’s another great Legacy Family Tree seminar.  It’s FREE for a limited time.  Genealogist Warren Bittner shares his years of experience by sharing some of his mistakes as a researcher and how you can avoid them.  Humorous and Helpful.

Click on the link and press the “Watch Video” button.  Enjoy!

http://www.familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=284

Tip # 7: How to Use Other Family Trees

Online family trees can be a blessing or a curse in your family research.

They are a curse if you…

  • Dismiss them as having no value to your research
  • Take them as “gospel” truth without question
  • Use their information without confirming its accuracy
  • Copy them to just fill in the blanks on your family tree

They are a blessing if you…

  • Use them as clues providing direction to your research
  • Ask, “Can I confirm or disprove these statements?”
  • Use them as affirmation when they agree with your completed research.
  • Connect you with other researchers interested in your family line

When I began researching my Byrd family, I met a 1st cousin I didn’t know.  Harold invited me to view his family tree on Ancestry and it has served as an invaluable guide in my Byrd family research.  Thanks Harold Byrd!  Some of the most exhaustive work done on our Byrd family has been done by Randall Byrd.  Much of his work was done in the difficult old fashion ways of the past.  Thanks Randall!

How you use family trees built by others is entirely up to you.  Keep this in mind.  Your decision will be a blessing or a curse to your family research.

Hurry! Two FREE online webinars for a very limited time. Check out these free resources.

Legacy Family Tree offers free weibnars for non-subscribers on an almost weekly basis. There are presently two FREE seminars for your viewing.  Check these out.  Simply click the view button.

American Revolution Genealogy (Until the 15th)

The War of Independence changed history; our history; our families’ history. It’s a story about which we want to know more. Did my ancestor help? …even a little? There’s much to be learned about our ancestors’ roles in this moment in history. In this class, we’ll discover where to start, what the best resources are, and how to tackle the research. So, let’s go in search of answers using the soldiers’ service and pension records and unit narratives.

http://www.familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=260

Hookers, Crooks, and Kooks – Aunt Merle Didn’t Run a Boarding House (Until the 17th)

Each of us wants to ignore that scalawag, that counterfeiter, or that madam in our family, but the black sheep may prove the most interesting of all. Learn to examine clues in unusual and also common sources. Learn how they lead to locating more records.

http://www.familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=262

Tip #5: Good Genealogists Are Skeptics

Good Monday morning!  Here’s your Backtracking the Common tip for today.  Enjoy!

All good genealogists are skeptics. They have to be. Grandpa Jones “improved” the family’s history. Aunt Sally miss-remembered. Aunt Polly covered up the date of a child’s birth to better match a wedding date. Paw Paw embellished his military record. And the beat goes on. The wrong information was recorded on records at the local, state and/or federal levels. Names are misspelled. Handwritten copies are inaccurate copies. Census takers wrote it down wrong. Informants on census records told it wrong. Informants on death records didn’t know the correct answer. How could they possibly provide it? And the beat goes on…

“I read it on the internet. It must be true.” That’s supposed to be a joke and everyone’s supposed to already know it. But I see many new (and some not so new) would be genealogists/family historians who don’t seem to get it. It’s as if we want to control the narrative of our family’s history instead of uncovering, recording, and reporting it.

To be a good genealogist we have to be truth seekers. We know we’re not bound by the past, so we’re not afraid to reveal it. We may not want to repeat it, but we look for tactful, compassionate ways to tell the true family story. We have to decide. Do we want to be myth tellers or historians?

Good genealogists are skeptics.
Collect all of the family stories you can. Be respectful of family members but be skeptical. The facts have to support the stories or they’re only stories.
• In your skepticism, remember, some stories will prove to be completely accurate and almost all stories have clues in them you need to follow.
Don’t be afraid of conflicting information. Determine to know the truth.
• Use multiple sources and work toward a preponderance of evidence.
• Once you have settled the issue in your own mind, be prepared to change it. Be open to reconsidering old and new facts.
Don’t “break up” with others over a difference of opinion.

Happy hunting!

The New Book on My Coffee Table

My new coffee Table bookDavid Lee Roberts did something many of us talk about – but most of us never get around to doing.  He wrote his life story.  He put it all down in a book.  And, he has a PDF version on disc.  (Available for my children)

David is a decorated Navy veteran.  He served 27 years active duty and 3 years reserve for a total of 30 years service to the United States.  He has now “retired” to serve as a patrol officer at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  He and his wife Cheryl live in Keller, Texas and have three grown children with growing families of their own.  Daughter Amy and her husband Matt serve overseas in Dubai.   Son Bryan, now retired from the Air Force, is launching a second “tour of duty” in the ministry.  He and his wife Lori are presently in seminary in the St. Louis area.  Son Matthew also serves as a DFW patrol officer.  He, his wife Mandy and their children live in Keller, Texas.  David and Cheryl’s children and their children’s children will enjoy this book for generations to come.  It will be a family treasure.

David’s my older brother of whom I am rightfully proud.  God has been good to both of us and given us wives “way above our pay grades”.  I remember wondering when David went off to basic training in 1971 (Uncle Sam would finish raising him) what would happen to him.  He seemed so lost and adrift on life’s sea.  Well, God and Cheryl are what happened to him and I know for a fact he’s grateful.  He writes about it in his book!

Kingsville Air Station
Gary, Bob and David Roberts in David’s Kingsville Air Statiion quarters

David’s first duty station out of air traffic control school was the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas.  My dad and I visited him there on my 16th birthday.  I enjoyed watching him work and hone his tower skills.  It wasn’t my first time in a control tower.  Our uncle Ralph Reed retired from the FAA.  He used to allow us in the control towers when we were just little squirts.  Watching David work in the same environment, I began to think of him as a “traffic cop” for pilots.  Much later in his career as Senior Chief on base at Meridian Air Station in Mississippi, he would serve as the traffic judge for the entire base.  I tell him now he’s just a cop.

The book is large.  270 8 ½ x 11 pages.  Lots of pictures.   A good look and a good read.  A PDF version is available.My Journey book cover

Thanks David for the treasure you have given our family.

Recognizing one of our own: Congratulations Shelly Grace Williford!

I’m one of the world’s worst when it comes to bragging on my children.  I do it a lot, and I’m especially grateful when they make it easy.Shelly headshot

Four of our seven children work for the third largest property management company in America.  Lincoln Property Company manages residential,  commercial and international properties around the world.  The website Rainmaker describes the company.

Lincoln Property Company was founded in 1965 for the purpose of building and operating quality residential communities. Consistently listed as one of the largest apartment developers in the United States, Lincoln has developed more than 182,000 multifamily residential units. Lincoln is currently ranked, in terms of size, as the third largest property manager in the U.S., with more than 140,000 apartment units under management. In addition, approximately 70% of Lincoln’s apartment management portfolio is comprised of fee management accounts for third-party investors.”

All of our children working for Lincoln have won multiple performance awards.  Our youngest daughter Shelly Grace Roberts Williford becomes the second to win the Gold Medallion Award.  She follows her oldest sister Shannon in winning this prestigious award.  You can only win it once in a career and all of our children know it’s a big deal.  Congratulations Shelly!

I want to express to the middle and upper management of The Lincoln Property Company the appreciation of a grateful parent.  You invited four of our children to join your team.  You trained them and allowed them to advance at their own pace.  You recognize their achievements.  You pay them well.  Thanks!  To those in the company who have had the most “hands on” influence in our children’s professional development, you are the real champions here.  What they have achieved has been done on the shoulders of their managers and supervisors.  They could not have accomplished what they did without your unselfish contributions.  Thanks!

Here’s a copy of the letter read last Friday at the annual award ceremony.  It was held this year in San Antonio, Texas.  (Click on the link below the photo to read the actual letter.  If you know Shelly, you’ll enjoy the read!)

God Medallion Letter

Gold Medallion Letter

 

 

Tip #2: No Truth Without Proof

As you’re finding your family’s facts, keep in mind this saying among professional genealogists.

There is no truth without proof.

I know that statement could be debated on several levels but I want us to keep in mind its main point.  People who read your genealogy, your family history records, should be able to go to the same sources you went to and find the same set of facts.

Here’s how the Board for Certification of Genealogists puts it.  Don’t let it scare you.

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;

  • complete and accurate source citations;

  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;

  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and

  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

http://www.bcgcertification.org/resources/standard.html

Here’s my simple explanation for beginning genealogist/family historians.  When you find facts about your family, record with those facts the where, how and when your found them.  Always “leave the bread crumbs” for those who come after you.  Doing this and how to do it is an on going discussion on this blog.  Some of you may wish to use the comments section to share how you do it.

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