same name, different people different era (52 ancestors #13)

Week 13 (March 26 – April 1) – Different


What a fun exercise, I thought, to examine the life of a same-named person, see how different(ly) — or, same — we are and, lived?

Now, this was not as easy as I thought it would be.  Not for lack of other Susan or Susannah or Susie BUCKNERS out there bearing a kinship to me, no way, but:  for lack of same accompanied by, a person photo.  (Gotta have a photo of the person.  Firm requirement.  No fun otherwise. 😉 )  And, for a general lack of actual biographical information, as opposed to the drier facts netted via censuses, death certificates, etc.?

So:  below, my chosen Susan BUCKNER candidate, with her husband Silas Elbert (Elbert) BUCKNER and six of their children:

THE SUSAN J. BUCKNER & SILAS ELBERT BUCKNER FAMILY. Pictured, back row, are: sons Levi Newton (born 1895- ), Dallas Madison (1891- ), &, daughter Lillie (1883- ). In front, per my best guess is, on dad’s lap, Eula Augusta (1902- ); squashed somewhat ‘tween Pa & Ma, Otto Bayard (1898- ); &, on mom’s lap, Arzula (1905- ). (Photo at had names, birthdates, & who was IN photo but, lacked specifics as to which child was which…) DATE OF PHOTO: 1905-’06.

And below, my own Susan BUCKNER family:

THE SUSAN M. BUCKNER FAMILY: myself, son, & grandson. DATE OF PHOTO, 2009.

One hundred four-to-five years apart, the two photos.  Roughly a hundred years apart, the two Susans’ lives.

Being second cousins themselves, both Susan Jane (Susie) (May 18, 1861 Madison Co., NC, U.S.A.-Oct. 24, 1908 Madison Co., NC; buried Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Mars Hill, Madison Co., NC) and Silas Elbert (Elbert) BUCKNER (Apr. 4, 1855 Madison Co., NC-Feb. 16, 1928 Madison Co., NC; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery) are my 5th cousins three times removed.  They share great-grandparents John Riley/Reiley BUCKNER (Abt. 1765 VA-1854 NC) & [either Elizabeth or Isabella] Lucretia TATUM (1767 VA-1822 NC).]

Susan is the daughter of Newton J. BUCKNER (1837-1916) & Mary Ann (Polly) DEWEESE (1840-1909); Silas Elbert, the son of James Mattison (Matt) BUCKNER ( -1926) & Matilda CHANDLER (1833-1926).[1]

In addition to the children pictured, Elbert & Susan had sons Leander Gaither & William Horace; and, by second wife Phinettia/Finetta (Nettie) BRIGGS (1874-1965), Elbert had daughter Carmel Mack (1918-1918) who died as an infant.[2]

Me, I only had the one son, but of course now that the option is closed 🙂 , I really do wish I’d had, oh, six?  Childbirth is not for the faint of heart, but I find children themselves very rewarding.

Elbert appears in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census in his father James M.’s NC household; at age 14, he attends school, which impresses me:  more often at that age, male children are listed as farm help.  James, who farms, is noted as owning $400 in real estate and, $250 in personal assets.[3]

By the 1880 U.S. Federal Census of NC, Madison Co., Middle Fork Township, newly married (1879) Elbert & “Susie” are in their own household with five-month-old baby Gaither, their first child.  Elbert farms and Susie is listed as keeping house.[4]

By 1910, two years after wife Susan’s death, Silas Elbert shows in the U.S. Federal Census of NC as a farmer with 14-year-old son Levi helping on the family farm.[5]

Silas farmed right up until his 1928 death at age 73.  His death certificate doesn’t even note a cause of death, simply, “No medical aid, found dead in stock barn.”[6]

Myself, occupationally:  I’m a retired “civil servant” with a Bachelor of Science degree.  I’ve actually always thought it would be really neat to live on a farm, although women I’ve worked with who grew up on farms have always spoken against it.  (But I did live on a dairy farm for a year in high school and, I truly loved it.)

In contrast to rural 19th-century Madison Co., NC, the northern city I was born and mostly raised in has a population of roughly a quarter million, many of that population associated with the large university here.

But back to Elbert:  five years after Susan’s 1908 death, he remarried to Phinettia (Finetta) BRIGGS.  (After Silas’ 1928 death, Phinettia (Finetta) remarried to William G. ELKINS (1861-1940).)

When Susan Jane was born, the American Civil War was a month underway.  Elbert would have been roughly six at the start of the war.  Susan’s daddy Newton J. BUCKNER had joined the Confederacy as a member of the 64th NC Infantry Regiment (Allen’s) — rank in, Private; rank out, Corporal — and on Sept. 9, 1963, was captured by the Union at Cumberland Gap.  He was received on the 26th at Camp Douglas, IL.  He would not be “discharged”/freed, until May of 1865.[7]

BUCKNER, Newton J., POW record (STARRED2)

Silas Elbert’s father James Mattison (Matt) BUCKNER would fight in the Civil War too — also for the Confederacy — but the only record I’ve been able to turn up for him is a pension application in wife Matilda’s name giving a NC Infantry Regiment that simply doesn’t correspond to any other available records.  (Frustrating.)

In an odd sort of parallel, my father moved five of us kids down to Memphis, TN, for a year and a half in 1960-’61 after my mother died, plopping us right down in 1960s Civil Rights protests in the south.  Freedom Riders, segregated lunch counters, Colored and Whites Only signs.  It was more than “culture shock” to my pre-teen self:  it was akin to, watching a civil war.

It was also a pretty horrifying introduction to The South.  I held a dizzying fear of the southern United States for years to come, convinced it was a land of evil, crazy-scary white people.  (I was only just 12 when we arrived in Memphis.)


This was an interesting exercise.  I feel more of a “real” kinship now to this Susan BUCKNER I never knew — what hard lives these people had:  one senses it just in studying the adult faces in the family photo, let alone learning through research of bits & pieces of their lives.

It’s easy to romanticize the past when one doesn’t know the details of lives.  It’s not so easy on closer look.

GRAVE MARKER OF SILAS ELBERT BUCKNER; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery. Photo from, contributed by “Lady Nan.”

GRAVE MARKER OF SUSAN JANE (BUCKNER) BUCKNER; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery. Photo from, contributed by “Lady Nan.”












1, “Silas Elbert BUCKNER,” at , accessed June, 2015.

2, database of “Private User,” at , accessed June, 2015.

3, “1870 United States Federal Census,” NC, “James M. BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

4, “1880 United States Federal Census,” NC, “Elbert BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

5, “1910 United States Federal Census,” NC, “Elbert BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

6, “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” “Silas E. BUCKNER,” original image of, at , accessed June, 2015.

7, “U.S., Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865,” “Newton J BUCKNER,” original image of, at , accessed June, 2015.




scalped (52 Ancestors #7)

Week 7 (Feb 12-18):  “Love”

Martha LOVE (ca 1784 VA-aft. Sept. 1, 1850), wife of my 3rd great grandfather John FALLS, Jr.’s, brother Thomas FALLS (ca 1780 VA-bef. Sept. 3, 1850), had only one child that I’ve as yet ascertained, that being daughter Mary Jane FALLS (Mar. 20, 1825 TN-Mar. 23, 1895 likely MO; buried Shelt Noel Cemetery, Noel, McDonald Co., MO)[1].

On Mar. 10, 1842, in Roane Co., TN, 1st cousin four times removed Mary Jane married Robert Franklin WALKER[2] (Oct. 20, 1821 TN-Dec. 6, 1864 MO; Shelt Noel Cemetery)[1], son of Robert WALKER & Mary THOMPSON.


By the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Robert & Mary Jane had had the first four of their 10-total children: James M., John T., Hugh Lawson, & Susan Caroline.[3]

By the 1860 Census — MO, McDonald Co., Rutledge — they would have had five more of those 10 kids — Robert Newton, Mary Eliza, twins California Ann & Tennessee S., and William T. J. — and would have buried twin daughter, California Ann.[4][5]

But before the first week of Dec., 1864, was over, Mary Jane’s husband would be dead, murderedscalped — by either “federal scouts”[6] or, bushwhackers.[7]

Robert Franklin WALKER was a carpenter in 1850; went prospecting for gold out west, “to California, leaving his family in McDonald County.  He remained in the far West, engaged in gold mining, until 1851, when he returned to his family[6];” and, farmed in 1860.  He fought in the American Civil War, Confederate allegiance, allegedly under Cherokee Civil War Gen. Stand Watie (Dec. 12, 1806-Sept. 9, 1871).[8]

From, “History Of Newton, Lawrence, Barry And McDonald Counties, Missouri,” Goodspeed Publishing, 1888: “….citizens of McDonald County, Mo., who were killed from 1861 to 1865, by Federal scouts, are named as follows:

Thirty-four men are listed, including, at no. 8, “Robert Walker.*”

A footnote indicates the meaning of the asterisk after Robert’s name: “Those marked thus (*), killed with arms, as bushwhackers; the others killed in retaliatory spirit by soldiers. These bushwhackers were engaged in pillaging, burning–not confined alone to Union people, but known Southern sympathizers suffered from them directly, as Allen PAINTER, now living near Pineville, who had the soles of his feet burnt to a crisp by them, can testify; also Joseph WEEMS of Newton County, who was burned in the same way in the hope etting[sic] money.”[6]

But stories handed down within Robert F. WALKER’S family completely contradict the preceding:  they relate that Robert was hardly a bushwhacker: rather, he was murdered by bushwhackers.

Alison AGINS shares this account at her family tree site, “a story my grandfather Albert BROWNING wrote in response to a request from his son Charles BROWNING to give a family history:”

” ‘Grandfather Bob [I.e., Robert Franklin] WALKER came from Kentucky to Missouri before the Civil War. Married Marry FALLS. To this union was borned 8 children, all decesed at this writing except one, Dixie Davis, Colfax, Washington.

” ‘Grandfather WALKER fought for the South in the Civil War. He was a cook. He got so homesick because the Bushwackers were burning so many homes. He had 2 good farms with improvements.

” ‘One day they sent him after a bucket of water. He had to go some distance and when he got there he sat his bucket down and left for home. He labored hard for a few days. His oldest boy Hugu was managing the best he could.

” ‘Two young men came along one day and wanted to stay all night, and rest up from a long walk. He refused to keep them. He said if the Bushwackers came along and found them there, they would burn his house and probably kill them all. They promised him they would stay upstairs and be quiet in case of the ‘Whackers’.

” ‘Sure enough here they came late that evening. The young men got scared and got out on the roof of the house and jumped off. They ran for some brush across the farm. The army saw them and gave chase but the boys had some advantage a-foot on account of fences. One of the boys stopped took aim and killed their Captain, and got away. Their second Captain took charge. They came back and got Grandfather and said they was going to take him down the road and kill him. They got him on a horse. Mother ran out and caught hold of the Captain’s leg and stirrup of the saddle and helt on a crying and begging. Findly she prevailed.

” ‘The Captain gave orders to take him back and burn the house. They burned the house alright and mother ran in and grabbed some counterpanes (a kind of a quilt that my great grandmother had made by hand, the same is in our family today. They would bring $100.00 or more a piece.)

” ‘After the house burned, they moved to the other farm and my mother begged her mother to let her hide them (the quilts) in a cave in the bluff a mile from the house. By so doing she saved them, but after Grandfather got killed as you will note later on, they became so poor Grandmother was forced to sell them. Mother bought them back after her marriage.

” ‘Grandfather returned to camp and sometime later on he ran off and came home. This time he did not intend to stay long, he had his horse tied clost by standing eating a turnip. Here came the Bushwacker. He jumpt on his horse and started through the timber up a very steep mountain. He was making a splendid gain when his saddle girt broke, off he came bringing the saddle with him. His horse went on. He ran to a cave before they could catch him. He stood them off for quite a while. Finly his ammunition exausted. Then they killed him and scalped him and brought the scalp and threw it in Grandmother’s lap.’

“(grandpa’s spelling and grammer)”[7]


The preceding is echoed in this story related by another descendant, Kathleen BROWNING, as told by her grandmother, Caroline [Susan Caroline WALKER]:

” ‘Following the Civil War, Carolins’s father and several men of the neighborhood were hiding out to keep from being killed by the Bushwackers who painted themselves as indians and tried to make people think they weren’t white. Often they were men that could have been recongnized by those that they were murdering. Someone carrying a grudge or an imagined grudge or they used it as a means to let off some of their frustrations.

” ‘Caroline’s father and some of the men had come in for clean clothes and food when they noticed a cloud of dust rising at a distance. The house was near a rather steep hill. WALKER told the men to go fast that he would stay behind for a time and try to mislead the Bushwackers. Since he had a faster horse than the others, he thought that he had a better chance of escaping and probably would have, except his saddle quirt broke as he reached the steepest part of the hill, leaving him no means of escape except on foot. He ran and managed to hide for a time…he would shoot then run, but as there were several Bushwackers they finally over came him about nightfall.

” ‘The family could hear shooting then silence, repeated time after time. Finally all was silent, the Bushwackers had left. 

” ‘Caroline, Ellen and Happy ( her girlfriends) went to look for her father. They found him, but his scalp was missing. This made for a very bad sight. After a search the girls found the scalp and put it back in place. Since the weather was cold (this was December) the scalp was frozen into place by the time that the women of the neighborhood got him bathed and dressed… His wife never knew that he had been scalped.’ “[7]

By the 1880 U.S. Federal Census of MO, McDonald Co., Pineville, enumerated June 16, 1880 — the last Census we find Mary Jane (FALLS) WALKER in — the “insane” column is checked to the right of her name. Her last/youngest child, 18-year-old Martha Margaret Elizabeth (Dixie) WALKER, lives with her mother and keeps house.[9]

My next avenue of research is to try to locate a copy of the pension application I believe Mary Jane filed:  for some odd reason one is “named” at as filed by a Mary Jane WALKER for deceased husband Robert “S.” WALKER — the “S,” I’m betting, is likely actually an “F” — in Giles, TN, yet no content is available for it on Ancestry:  only the note that, “A photocopy of this pension application may be obtained from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.”  If it is our girl, maybe some clearer light will be shed on Robert’s death.

Cross your fingers.

WALKER, R. F. (1821-1864) (grv mrkr)--FAG, Diane (FALLS) WALKER, Mary (grv mrkr)--FAG, Diane



1 birth & death dates and, cemetery name, per photograph of joint grave marker for Mary Jane & Robert in Shelt Noel Cemetery, at & , accessed Feb., 2015.

2 “Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002”,, “Mary J FALLS,” “Spouse: Robert WALKER,” at , accessed Feb., 2015.

Image:  Mary Jane (FALLS) WALKER.  From “Alison AGINS Family Tree,” owner, “aliagins,”, at , accessed Feb., 2015. Photo originally submitted to by Alison AGINS.

3 1850 U.S. Federal Census, MO, McDonald Co., District 53, enumerated Sept. 2, 1850; “Robert WALKER” household, age 29 born abt 1821 TN; accessed at at, , Feb., 2015.

4 1860 U.S. Federal Census, MO, McDonald Co., Rutledge, enumerated June 1, 1860; “R. F. WALKER” household, age 38 born abt 1822 TN; accessed at at, , Feb., 2015.

5 “Alison AGINS Family Tree,” owner, “aliagins” — Issue, Robert Franklin WALKER & Mary Jane FALLS —, at , accessed Feb., 2015.

6 “History Of Newton, Lawrence, Barry And McDonald Counties, Missouri,” “From The Earliest Time To The Present, Including A Department Devoted To The Preservation Of Sundry Personal, Business, Professional And Private Records; Besides A Valuable Fund Of Notes, Original Observations, Etc., Etc.;” Illustrated; Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1888. Pages 760-761, &, 1091. Accessible online at “Missouri Digital Heritage,” at ; accessed Feb., 2015.

7 “Alison AGINS Family Tree,” owner, “aliagins,”, at , accessed Feb., 2015.

8 Wikipedia — “the free encyclopedia,” “Stand Watie,” at , accessed Feb., 2015.

Image:  group photo including siblings Robert Newton WALKER & Susan Caroline WALKER.  From “Alison AGINS Family Tree,” owner, “aliagins,”, at , accessed Feb., 2015. Photo originally submitted to by Alison AGINS.

9 1880 U.S. Federal, MO, McDonald Co., Pineville, enumerated June 16, 1880: “Mary J. WALKER” hh, age 50, born abt 1830 TN; accessed at at, , accessed Feb., 2015.

Image:  Grave markers, R. F. WALKER & wife Mary Jane FALLS.  From, , accessed Feb., 2015.