November 20, 2007

Not so distant cousins

So my sister turned me onto this new website called Um yeah I was thinking the same thing! WEIRD! The concept of this site is to be able to look up peoples graves and see pictures of them. Keep in mind the grave sites that are pictured are totally random and have no special rhyme or reason to having a picture taken of them. Anyone can go to this site join and submit or request pictures be taken.

I honestly do not understand why someone would want to look at pictures of their dead ancestors. Are there pictures of the funerals as well? Just seems very odd to me but my sister is totally into it and is thinking about going out and taking pictures of random sites to post.

So I figures while I was checking out the site i might as well look around a bit and see what i could see. I typed in a very popular family name and area in Va and what do I find? Not a picture of a grave sit e but an actual obituary of a family member that died. JACKPOT! Now this was worth coming to see! I was able to get the parents information siblings and children. After documenting all of this information I was able to connect the deceased to my grandmother. He was the same age as her and was considered a 2nd cousin. My grandmother knew nothing about this part of the family. I thought is was cool to be able to connect another part of the family.

I posted the obit here in case anyone else might be looking for this person or a missing link in their family tree as well. I have to say I plan on visiting the grave site website a lot more in the future. Who knows you might find useful information there also.

Morgan O. Blythe COURTLAND
Morgan Oliver Blythe, 74, died Sept. 10, 2005, at the East Pavilion. A native of Southampton County, he was a son of the late Emmitt McKinley and Florence Lankford Blythe. He was a member of Sedley Baptist Church and a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant during the Korean conflict. Morgan was retired from Hercules, former owner of the Sedley Market, former dispatcher for the Southampton County Sheriff’s Department and was retired from the Virginia Department of Corrections. He was a charter member of the Franklin Kiwanis Club and a member of Franklin Masonic Lodge No. 151, AF&AM and a former Shriner. Survivors include his wife, Muriel Begnoche Blythe; two daughters, Robin May (Ken) of Newsoms and Marti Blythe (Michael Clark) of Franklin; three sons, Ken Blythe (Lindy) of Tampa, Fla., Kyle Blythe (Lisa) of Staunton, Va., and Chris Blythe (Karen) of Louisville, Ky.; one sister, Daisy Johnson of Suffolk; one brother, Ashby Blythe of Franklin; seven grandchildren, Ryan Gibbs, Christa Malcolm, Brandon, Jeddy, Jessica, Evan, Brooke and Claire Blythe; and one great-grandchild, "Pop Pop’s" buddy, Corbin Gibbs. Mr. Blythe was predeceased by three brothers, Otis, Thurman and Sherman Blythe. A funeral with Masonic rites will be conducted Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the chapel of Wright Funeral Home with the Rev. Clyde Alderman officiating. Burial, with military honors, will follow in Southampton Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home and immediately following the service at 1521 Clay St. Because of Morgan’s love of children, the family suggests memorials be made to The Children’s Center, 700 Campbell Ave., Franklin, VA 23851.

Obituary, Virginian-Pilot, September 12, 2005.
Southampton Memorial Park
Southampton County
Virginia, USA

November 3, 2007

Recent Fires

Although I wanted to write about this on a daily basis time has not allowed. I am lumping it all together into one great story. So if anyone watches the news or reads the paper you will know that there have been a bunch of different fires burning the west coast of California. I however had not been watching the news or reading the paper the day the fires started. I found out by going about my usual routine of driving to school at 6:30am Monday morning. It was dark as usual and very "cloudy" not something out of the norm seeing that I live on the water. Seeing the marine layer in the morning is a normal thing. As I was driving down the freeway and the color of the sky was a little weird and traffic was starting to slow.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Of course I am getting aggravated because it does not usually slow so much that early in the morning. Next thing I know I am smelling smoke..... Hmmm something must be on fire there must be an accident I am thinking. All of the sudden I am driving into bellowing smoke. The sky was yellow and you could barely see anything. It was like driving through a thick fog.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Holy crap! that has got to be more then a car on fire!
I look over to my right where all the smoke is coming from and I see the mountains on fire! You can not see the flames in the picture seeing I was driving but you should get the idea... Great way to start the day I am thinking. then I realize this fire is at the exit I would normally take to go to work..... Even better! I was then thinking Thank God I do not have to work today but hoping everyone was ok and trying to flip through all the stations to see what was going on. I must say I had no luck in figuring out anything until I got home from school and was able to use the web to check the local paper.

As you can probably tell I happen to be right in the middle of two very large fires. I was not in any immediate danger but everyone definitely has felt the effects of all the fires.
My work is a mere 4 miles away from the "canyon" fires. Lucky for me work did not close except for the first day of the fire. I mean this sarcastically of course. Every day was a challenge getting through work. See I work in a very closed in space with no windows in the area I work in. What windows we do have we are unable to open. With the fire that is a good thing but unfortunately the smoke would blow into the building and have no way to escape. This is a shot standing outside of my work... Chunks of ash were falling. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I spent most of the days with the sleeve of my shirt over my nose and mouth so I could somewhat breathe. I work on phones all day so doing this was a challenge to say the least. Many of us in the office spent the days feeling nausea, scratchy burning throat and our nose burning. I even was blessed with the occasional mild bloody nose. Oh what fun and to think this fire was set on purpose!!!
I took a few pictures mostly while driving. As much as I wanted to get closer to get the good pictures the smoke and smell was very unbearable for me. So you will just have to look at the few pictures I did get.
The morning drive looked pretty much the same every morning. thick smoke almost like driving through fog. The smell was horrible and there seemed to be no place to go to get relief from the smoke.
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By mid week the smoke and ash had spread across the county. My school is about 40 miles from the closest fire and while it did not smell as bad there mid week it sure looked bad. We did not have problems with the falling ash as much as where I live which was somewhat of a nice break. At that point i was taking anything I could get! As you can see from the picture even 40 miles away you could not forget the great intensity of this fire. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now I live a few blocks from the water and you would think living here I would find some relief but you are very wrong. See we were only 14 miles from the fires in San Diego and about the same from the Fire here in our county. So that leaves us right in the middle so we were pretty much getting slammed by all the smoke and ash. I decided to stop at a point that overlooks the Harbor on Thursday the 5th day of the fire to see what it looked like. I think the picture is pretty self explanatory. You could not even see the water!! I felt like I was trapped in some kind of scary movie.
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After seeing that picture imagine what our place looked like... Although we had cooler weather conditions with a slight breeze then where the fire was it was not necessarily a good thing. This only led me to open the windows for a few to try to "air out" the house. In doing so I wound up with a place covered in ash! Everything was covered in ash. So now not only am I coming home from work smelling like I had been standing next to a bonfire all day my place is now covered in ash think enough to write in. At this point there seemed to be no escape and that this saga was never going to end.

Friday morning looked the same on he way into work. The smell of the fire was even worse in our building at work. Great way to end the week huh Well much to my surprise when I left Friday I was expecting the same old smokey ash filled air as I walked out at the end of the day. This is what I got instead....
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That is right sunshine and clouds! I was so surprised and happy! I could still see the mountains smoking but quickly learned that the fires had been contained 65% at that time. The entire way home I saw nothing but sunshine and puffy clouds! Such a huge turn around from that morning filled with ash and smoke. It was hard to even believe it was the same day and that we have had a fire burning for a week now. That was a huge breaking point. From then on I we have been able to open the windows at home and have been cleaning all of the ash off the furniture. Although my car still smells like smoke a bit and work is still suffering. There is still a layer of ash and is now smells like an old stale ash tray. It is a lot better then the previous weeks and much more tolerable. When you drive down the freeway you can still smell the fire but you can also smell the fertilizer used on the strawberry fields as well and that is a good sign!
So in the end I have survived the devastating fired of California unlike many others I am very lucky to have only had to complain about bad air quality instead of losing my home. They are still trying to find the person who started the fire in my area. People are finally being able to return to their homes or what is left of them. I just hope they catch the person who was behind all of this devastation.
Here are a few more pix I thought I would add.....
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The last one is a picture from my work. The smoke had gotten so thick you could not even see where the fires were coming from. All of these pictures were taken with my phone So I know some are a bit blurry.

October 4, 2007

Additional Family Information

I find this a little disturbing reading all of the information about this murder case. I also have a few other articles/court documents that pretty much log when Mr. Drake was in and out of court. I know it is a little brutal but at the same time I would have like to have known what he said when he had the chance to testify seeing that he pled not guilty. He had an eye witness and still pled not guilty! yeah he was not crazy or anything. Thought I would post the court documents as well Just in case I am not the only one looking for this information.

Court: Matthew DRAKE, 1840-41: Southampton Co., VA Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:Matt Harris, Copyright. All rights reserved.[Order Book, p.] 262

At a Court Summoned and held at the Courthouse of Southampton County on the day of December 1840 for the examination of Matthew Drake charged with the murder of James Scott, Ann Pretlow, Sarah C Pretlow, Lydia Mingo, a free woman of colour & Seth Mingo a coloured infant at the house of the aforesaid Scott in the County -

Present James D Massenburg, James Maget, William A Spark, Edwin B Claud and William H Nicholson -

Gent. The Court being thus constituted the said Matthew DRAKE was set to the bar in custody of the keeper of the Jail of this County and thereupon Sundry witnesses to wit, Jesse Drewry, Charles Butts and Thomas C Jones were sworn and examined and the prisoner heard in his defence by Counsel: On consideration whereof it is the opinion of the Court that the said Matthew Drake ought to be tried for the offence aforesaid of which he stands charged at the next Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for this County - And thereupon he is remanded to Jail.

(Signed) J D Massenburg Teste L.R. Edwards CC [end; remainder of page blank]

[The two preceding pages (260-61) record orders bearing on the administration of the estates of victims Ann Pretlow and James Scott, also 21 Dec 1840.] [Common Law Book, p.] (400.)

At a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery held for the County of Southampton at the Courthouse thereof on Thursday the first day of April 1841-

Present:The Honorable: Richard H Baker Judge Cuthbert D Barham foreman, William D Hood, Simon Murfee, John Moore S.r Edward Crumpler, James E Crichton, Gilliam Edwards, William H Harrison, Thomas Hunley, Matthew W Vaughan, William Edwards, Mills Pope, George Williams Davis Barrett- Lewis Worrell, John Thorp, William B Pope, Levi C Waller, James L Gray, Matthew R Pope, and Bird Lundy were Sworn a Grand Jury of inquest upon the body of this County and having received their charge withdrew and Sometime afterwards returned an Presented.

An Indictment against Matthew Drake for murder "a true bill."

An Indictment against Matthew Drake for murder. "a true bill".

An Indictment against Matthew Drake for murder. "a true bill".

An Indictment against Matthew Drake for murder "a true bill:"

An Indictment against Matthew Drake for murder "Not a true bill."

And the grand Jury were adjoined till tomorrow morning, ten O.Clock

Mark T Peete, Thomas D Knight and Mills L Gray - who were Summoned to appear here this day as grand jurors were Solemnly called, but came not. Therefore it is ordered that they be summoned to appear here on the first day of the next Term to Shew cause if any they can, why they Should not be fined for Such their contempt.

[...DREW v. LAIN & HOOD] [Common Law Book, p.] 413 [odd pages numbered in later hand & pen] [Friday April 2.d 1841] [...; sundry grand jury indictments]

Matthew Drake late of the County of Southampton labourer, who stands indicted of murder, was led to the bar in Custody of the Jailor of this Court, thereof arraigned, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment. Whereupon, came a jury to wit- Joseph C Murdaug. James W Parker. John Moore jr. Harrison Joyner. Jordan Edwards. John B Jenkins, Anthony Vaughan, William P Cross, John Vick, Matthew Wills. Richard Hines and Benjamin E Pope who being elected tried and Sworn the truth of and upon the premises to Speak, and having heard the evidence, upon their oath do Say that the said Matthew Drake is guilty of murder in the first degree in manner and form, as in the Indictment against him is alleged. And thereupon, he is remanded to jail

Present: The Hon: Richard H Baker judge [...; BRADSHAW v. GRIFFIN]

Matthew Drake late of the County of Southampton a labourer who stands Convicted Murder in the first degree was again led to the bar in Custody of the Jailor of this Court and thereupon it being demanded of him if any thing for himself he had or knew to say why the Court here to judgement and execution against him of and upon the premises should not proceed, he said he had nothing but what he had before said: therefore it is Considered by the Court that he be hanged by the neck until he be dead and that execution of this judgement be made and done upon him the said Matthew Drake by the Sheriff of Southampton on Friday the day of May next between the hours of Ten in the forenoon and two in the after noon of the same day at the usual place of execution and thereupon the said Matthew Drake is remanded to Jail-

[...; HARRISON v. ROCHELLE] [Order Book, p.] 262 [21 Jun 1841]

Ordered that the estate of Matthew Drake dec.d be committed to the hands of Thomas Pretlow Sheriff of this County for administration according to lawSouthampton Co., VA,

Order Book 1839-1843, pp. 262, 333 The Library of Virginia, Southampton Co. Microfilm Reel 31 Southampton Co., VA, Common Law Order Book 4 (1831-1841), pp. 400, 413, 432 The Library of Virginia, Southampton Co. Microfilm Reel 189

New Family Tree Info

Ok so I received an email yesterday with a few links in it from a fellow family tree researcher. We seem to have the same interest in a certain family member and an even that took place. As I wrote about in my previous entries, there was a murder and we were not sure about all the details and what was true and what was not.

Well I think I finally have the true story. Actual court documents and the newspaper article were found but a fellow researcher. YAY! So I must say after all of this it is nice to finally have the real story although a bit disturbing. I am posting the article. A little easier to follow instead of me trying to re-tell the story!

Newspapers: Matthew DRAKE, 1840: Southampton Co., VA Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:Matt Harris, [brackets & line breaks mine] Copyright. All rights reserved. ______________________________
Most Atrocious Murders!-A most shocking case of the deliberate murder of five persons, committed, it would seem, for the sole purpose of preventing the discovery of a contemplated robbery, is related in the Portsmouth, Va., Times of the 16th inst. as follows:
(From the Portsmouth (Va.) Times, Dec. 16.)
We learn that a series of most atrocious murders was perpetrated by a miscreant in Southampton county, on Monday night. An aged Quaker of the name of Scott, residing not far from Jerusalem, his sister, also aged, a little girl, about nine years old, named Pretlow, a negro woman and her child, were successively butchered to further the design of robbery, entertained by their destroyer. Six persons were on the premises at the time and but one escaped. This was a young negro girl.- She relates, we understand, that a man residing in the neighborhood visited the house a little after sunset and spent the evening by the fireside of Mr. Scott in conversation with the family. As he was about to quit, he asked Mr. S. to walk with him to the gate, as he had a word to say to him in private. To this the unfortunate man consented. The girl saw no more of him. A violent struggle was next heard in the kitchen. The murderer armed with a short heavy dogwood pestle, had seized the negro woman, and was beating out her brains, when the aged sister of Mr. Scott, attracted by the noise, appeared and begged him to desist. Irrevocably bent on his design he instantly despatched the poor negro, and seizing the old lady felled her to the floor with a blow of the pestle. A negro boy about nine years old was then killed in the same manner. He next proceeded in search of the little white girl and the young negress. The latter made her escape unobserved. The other child was not so fortunate. She was caught in the room and murdered as summarily as the rest. Not seeing the negro girl, and resolved to leave no clue to his fearful secret, the monster made a careful search in the rooms, turning over the beds and scanning every corner narrowly. Convinced that one of the family had escaped, he seems to have gone off, without consummating the robbery. The girl fled immediately to the nearest neighbors, and communicated what had occurred in her sight and hearing. They repaired to the premises forthwith, and found the melancholy confirmation of her story. The murderer had fled and the house was burning slowly. The fire was extinguished before it had defaced the bodies, or done much injury to the building. In the morning, among the spectators of the night's bloody fruit, was the individual spoken of by the girl as the actor in the scene. He gave a instant contradiction to her story, and referred to the abscence of blood from his clothing as proof of his innocence. He denied also, we learn, having been on the premises for a fortnight. Traces of blood, however, it is said, were found among his whiskers, and he was detained till search was made at his house. This resulted, we learn, in the discovery of a suit of clothing excessively besmeared with blood. He was forthwith apprehended. Mr. Scott was an old and esteemed resident of the county, and was reputed to be wealthy. The hope of securing his money led to a scheme of murder, as boldly conceived and deliberately executed as any furnished by the annals of crime. The escape of the girl alone prevented the full execution of the plan. If she had fallen, all explanation of the mystery would have been impossible. The house and bodies of the slain would have been consumed together, and the murderer would have possessed in security the poor reward of his atrocities, beyond the fear of detection.
The Southampton Murders.
- We learn that at least $15,000 in silver have been found on the premises of Mr. Scott, the Quaker who was murdered together with five of his household, by a miscreant who had invaded the home of a miserly old man under the impulses of a diabolically criminal cupidity.
[Norfolk Beacon. [italicized] [next article details LEWIS ~ CONWAY murder case] "The (Richmond) Enquirer." Richmond (VA), Thursday, Dec. 31, 1840. [p. 3] The Library of Virginia, Newspaper Microfilm Reel 23a

September 22, 2007


So I found a pretty cool site that has an endless amount of recipes. You can search by ingredients, course, occasion, cuisine,diet. When you find a recipe that you like you can add it to what they call a cookbook for later reference. They also give you the capabilities to search other members cookbooks.

It is a great place to find ideas for a party or even a romantic dinner. I stumbled across this site while trying to find ideas for a picnic breakfast. I found some great ideas and recipes. So now I think I am hooked and have already started my own cookbook!

Another great feature is it shows you the nutritional values of each recipe. Great for someone like me who is trying to eat healthier and plan healthier meals for me and my significant other. Don't forget you can also search for recipes based on food allergies as well! A friend of mine is Gluten intolerant so this is a great site for her.

So my suggestion is to check it out and see for yourself what you think.


Family Tree Update

Well here I am again, I was not expecting to have an update so soon about the drama I found way back in my family tree. I have actually had “breaking news” for a while but have not had a chance to sit down and write. My adapter died for my lap top so I have been without for a few days. Anyways I am back now and that is what matters.

So I got an email from a fellow distant relative that has been researching the same line as I and was informed that she had found some information about the family member “Drake” who killed another family.

As it turns out it is a true story and it was a little slave girl who turned him in! Can you imagine living with that memory your entire life! The little girl was hiding in a bread box in the kitchen while the murders were taking place. Apparently people were sitting around talking about what had happened and who could have done such a terrible thing and the little girl pointed to Drake and said he did it.

Can you imagine the looks on peoples faces when they heard that! How crazy. I can not imagine sitting there and the guy sitting next to me is pointed out as the killer.

Anyway, I am ranting. I am just going to post the information on here. It is easier then trying to retell the story myself. I think I am going to post the previous information I found as well just so there is more of a background. Then maybe my story will make a little more sense….

Mathew Drake was hanged for the murders of Jimmie Scott
and family. There was a reported dispute over finances
owed Mr. Scott. It is said that a slave girl who hid in the
Scott residence pointed out Mathew as the assailant.
After Mathews death, wife Mariah took up residence
with William Blythe and had four more children

But wait there is more…..

Had four children with William Blythe, appx. 10 years
her junior. Never married. He lived with her until he
disappeared from So.H Co. census 1870. Children
appeared in 1860 census as “Drakes” and “Blythes”
in 1870 census

So now I need to find these census records that have both the Drake and the Blythe children listed. Just so I have it for my own personal documentation. I like how the above state that William Disappeared off the census. Uh could that mean he died? Was he in hiding? Military? So it looks like as soon as one mystery is figured out another one begins…..

I have yet to even touch my grandfathers side of the family. We seem to know hardly anything about that side so that will be another grand adventure I am sure.

Family Tree Research

I am sitting here at work on a Friday morning, bored out of my mind!!! Damn it is only 10:35!!!!

This day is going to drag. I am trying to think of a way I can do more research on my family history while I am sitting here.

I have been trying to do my family tree for a few months now. I have actually gotten a lot farther then I originally thought I would thanks to my sister who introduced me to a wonderful program called Family Tree Maker. The program is linked to which it awesome! I can type in a persons name hit the little globe button and it connects to the internet and searched for records. Easy right?

Well wrong! Yeah you get to search records but the problem is you get about 1,000 or more search results!! So unless you are lucky and the name is at the top you have to go through pages and pages of results. How quickly you will learn how many people in the US there are by that name or some variation of it. However in the case that you do find your beloved family member you can get all kinds of information.

So back to my family tree… I found that on my Grandmothers side we have a guy who apparently murdered a family that he knew. Story has it that he was going to rob them and wound up killing the entire family. A little slave girl was hiding in the wood box and witnessed the event. The slave girl wound up turning him in a few days later and it lead to his conviction and hanging. According to the story he was one a very few white men to ever be hung back then.

According to the story I have, his wife then changed the children’s last name to that of a man who was hired help living in the house at the time. Wait what? You mean I am not actually related to the person we got the family name from??? Well isn’t that wonderful! So after researching the family name and tracing it back to England I read this story that pretty much tells me I am not even related to him!! Instead I learn that I am possibly related to the guy who killed a bunch of people.

So of course learning this new information has only made me try to search more to find out the truth and learn what really happened. So far I have turned up nothing. I did find another person who had posted a blog stating he had heard the same story I described from his aunt multiple times. I guess the aunt’s grandmother was around when it happened.

Great now I am trying to hunt this guy down and find out more about the story. I am starting to feel like a stalker who is becoming obsessed with figuring out this great mystery of the mid 1800’s. Will it ever end? I have however come to the conclusion that the newly widowed wife and her hired help never officially married but did seem to have one child together. Guess what? That child seems to be the one that I am related to! YAY so it seems that I am not actually related to the murder after all. The problem with this excitement is it might be short lived.

So now I am trying to make sure this story is true and find out what really happened and who I am really related to. At this point I have not gotten very far seeing that I am now in school full time. I have been trying to rely on fellow family tree searchers to give me any information they can.

I will keep you posted on my future findings. By the way it is now 1:11pm hehe


Grandads words

Yesterday is a canceled check.
Tomorrow is a promisorry note.
Only today is negotiable cash.
Spend it wisely!

Something I found that my grandfather had jotted down in his bible. I am not sure where he got the quote from. Maybe it was something the preacher had said during a sermon.... I did not receive the bible until after he had passed years ago so I guess i will never know the source.

September 15, 2007

Hello World!

I am an east coast girl living the west coast dream. Just wanted to say hello to the world in my first post. I will write a little later today.