Monday, April 26, 2010

This Tree is Getting Full!

I hadn't posted in a while, so I thought I should get something up here before bed tonight! A little over a week ago, I spent a few days begging for stories from my grandfather, my great aunt, and my cousin... and my efforts were so rewarded!! Not only did I get some interesting stories about my Cummons side from my grandfather, my great aunt and cousin were able to tell me things I had never known about my grandmother's side, and that information opened up a number of "leafy discoveries" on With any luck, I will get some of that information posted in the next few days, but one little thing that made me smile: I finally landed an ancestor in Ireland! Whoot! That would be a William Balum Dempsey, a native of Dublin in the early 1700s. I am connected to the Dempsey name through my paternal grandmother's side. Yeah, this little tree of mine is getting crowded, but that's okay, I like the company!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Blue AND Grey Soldier

With the help of I believe I may have found out how my James Hamilton Cummons went from Confederate to Yankee. I know that James was born in Guilford County, NC. I know that he ended up in Cabell County West Virginia. I know he ended up in the US Volunteer Infantry. Using those markers, I believe the muster rolls and other files I uncovered tell the whole story of James. I hope it's okay to put these up on my blog. I couldn't find anything on footnote that said I couldn't, but if you konw otherwise, let me know!

In case you can't read the images, I'll summarize:
James went to Virginia and enlisted with the NC 54th Infantry on July 1, 1863 (which if I'm not mistaken coincides with Gettysburg). On November 7, 1863, James was taken as prisoner of war at the battle of Rappahannock Station, and transported to a prison camp at Point Lookout, Maryland (known as possibly the harshest prison camp in the union.) Just two months later, in January of 1864, James swore allegience to the union, and was enlisted in the 1st US Volunteer Infantry. Later, I will post a little bit of the historic details of Rappahannock Station, Point Lookout, and the 1st US Volunteer infantry.
Uncovering all of this, is making James really come to life for me. I mean, when all of this took place, he was no more than 17 years old! I can't imagine facing the horrors of war, and prison camp at such a young age! And then, according to that old newspaper clipping, James never went home after the war. I wonder where he was the four years before he met Causby? There is still so much to uncover, I just hope the trail doesn't run cold anytime soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Galvanized Yankees

Okay, I PROMISE I'll get to my other ancestors sooner or later, but I've been hung up on James Hamilton Cummons for nearly 12 years now, and I'm finally getting smart enough to ask the right questions and find out about him!

Ever heard of a "Galvanized Yankee"? I hadn't, until today.

Here's how it came about: As I mentioned a while back in my blog, I was uncertain as to which army James fought for during the Civil War. The newspaper clipping I posted, interviewing his wife, Causby, said he was a confederate soldier. However, a copy of the pension form the Causby applied for after James' death led me to believe he was a Union soldier. Under "service" it had listed: C1 US Vol Inf. I could only assume that meant Company 1, United States Volunteer Infantry. So, which was he? Confederate or Union? (Of course being the born and bred yank that I am, I was pulling for the Union!)

Today, I asked for help on the Civil War message boards at and just a few hours later, I was given a fascinating piece of information, and was able to put one more piece in the puzzle that was James Hamilton Cummons. When I asked for someone to help me translate Causby's pension file, here's the response I received:

Wow! I guess the answer to my question is - he was both. First a confederate, then after being taken prisoner of war, pledged allegience to the union army. I was able to confirm this, by going to this site:

On this site, you will find a roster of soldiers who were a part of the "Galvanized Yankees", and there you will find him listed as James H. Cammons (yes, I know... yet ANOTHER spelling of our last name.)

I still have not confirmed when or where he originally enlisted (I assume North Carolina, although I originally had thought Virginia - must have been looking at records for some other James). But we're getting closer!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Following an Old, Old Path... Dalton

I'm beginning to feel a little trepidation about finding my Irish roots! My grandfather told me that James Hamilton Cummons "came from Ireland". Not so. He was born in North Carolina.

My mom's family, well, they are Malones, and the only thing that could make that surname MORE Irish would be to stick an O' in front of it... but the trail runs cold with Richard Malone, who being an American frontiersman(1790-1841), didn't have much to do with census records, or other things which could reveal the names of his parents to us, and possibly take us to the old country.

My great aunt Darlene (she's my paternal grandmother's sister) told me about HER great grandparents, John Tanner Tomblin and Isabelle Dalton. "Isabelle", my aunt said, "came from Ireland!"

Super! An Irish connection!

So, last night, I sit down on (yeah, my free 14 days they gave me for being away so long ran out before I was satisfied, so I bought another month's access)and began clicking on the trail of leaves ("hints" on ancestry)taking me down the path of Isabelle (1838-1920) and her ancestors. Wow! Someone (or several people) had really done their homework on these Daltons! I just kept clicking, and clicking, and clicking... about two hours worth of clicking, only to discover...

Isabelle was born in Virginia. As was her father. And her father's father. And so on and so on, until the year 1666, when one William Dalton was born in.... Yorkshire, England. Really? Even when I get an ancestor who crossed the big pond, they can't do it from Ireland? *sigh*

But I have to admit, this line was fascinating! With time for nothing more than adding names and spouses, I followed this line, too interested to watch The Biggest Loser. Or Parenthood. Or the late night news. I kept clicking until the trail ran cold with a man just listed on ancestry as "Dalton" in the year 1210.

No, that is not a typo. The year One thousand, two hundred ten. What family keeps records that can be traced that far? There had to be something special about these Daltons. Nobility maybe? It looks like I may need to spend a little time looking into the name, and the stories behind it.

But, still no Ireland.