Tuesday, November 28, 2023

David Pitman goes to court charged with Illicit Distilling

A week ago I sent an inquiry to the National Archives in Atlanta asking about the best way to request records relating to a Federal Court case(and possibly cases) in which my 2nd Great Grandfather was involved. I was pretty sure that the case was heard in the TN Middle District Federal Court.  I heard from them this morning with a quote on the cost of scanned copies.  I made payment as soon as I could get to my desktop computer and it was delivered to my email before lunch time!  How amazing is that?

This was my listing of Newspaper clippings mentioning David Pitman court case(s)

Newspapers.com - The Tennessean - 19 Nov 1873 - Page 4 David Pitman Federal Court  Continued
Newspapers.com - Nashville Union & American - 25 Nov 1873 - Page 4 David Pitman Continued to next term
Newspapers.com - The Tennessean - 25 Oct 1874 - Page 4 David Pitman Federal Court Illicit Distilling
Newspapers.com - The Tennessean - 21 Oct 1876 - Page 3 David Pitman Federal Court Illicit Distilling no action taken

U.S. Circuit Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Case #1152 US vs. David Pitman 
digitized by National Archives Atlanta Georgia 
delivered as a PDF file to Marie Cooke Beckman's Gmail acct. (Nov 28th, 2023)

Below is my transcription of the affidavit from the file that tells David Pittman's account of what happened that led to him being arrested and in court for illicit distilling.  

Affidavit(from Case # 1152)
US vs David Pitmon 

The United States vs David Pitman
In this cause the defendant David Pitman makes oath that he cannot go safely to trial at the present term of the court for the following reasons he has no Witnesses in attendance for the reasons that owing to his poverty he did not have the means to procure subpoenas for his Witnesses and have them executed affiant got Deputy US Marshal J Armstrong to summons one of his Witnesses, Isaac Cantrell, and he promised to summons  CB Cantrell but he was in the South trading and has been for several months and has not yet returned.  He can prove as he believes by both of said witnesses that he is not guilty of the charge against him he can prove by both said witnesses that he has never owned or had under his controls any still or stilling apparatus or been concerned? in any still since the war nor had no intent in any still nor has not been able to own any still or interest in a still. Affiant is very poor a wife and eight children and without means of support except by his daily labor.  He can prove the same facts by William Potter and John Terry that he can by C B Cantrell and he can further prove as he believes and in part as he knows that at the time of the alleged offenses he was hired to C B Cantrell to work on his farm.  He Cantrell owning a large farm and he Cantrell was also carrying on a Distillery and Mrs. Cantrell was unwell and requested affiant  go out and kill her a squirrel he got the gun and went out in the direction of the still house Thinking that direction was the surest way to find a squirrel but found none and when he came near the Still house there was no person there the doors was shut and he set his gun down by the door opened it and went in the still house to get him a drink of beer and just as he stepped up to where the beer was, the dogs he had brought with him came barking and J Armstrong and others came up Armstrong broke his gun and arrested him this is the truth of the transaction and affiant states that C B Cantrell, Isaac Cantrell, William Potter, and John Terry are witnesses whose evidence is material to his defense and he cannot go safely to trial without them or three of them that he expects to prove the above facts by them that they are within this district and that he has not possessed of sufficient means and is actually unable to pay the fees of such Witnesses therefore affiant prays that his cause be continued until the next term of this court and that he have the aforesaid Witnesses summoned to appear at the next term of this court as provided in section 878 of the revised statutes of the United States this application is made for justice and not for delay 
David Pitmon
April 25 1876

Calvin Bennett Cantrell--1st Battalion Co C Colm's 2nd Lt David's Father in Law also served in Colm's
Mrs. C B Cantrell--Amanda Lee married C B(his 2nd Wife) in Dekalb Co TN on 27 Nov 1870
Isaac Cantrell--Not sure which one this is but all of the Isaac Cantrells from Dekalb Co are kin to David's wife Mary Adcock.
William Potter--kin to Cantrells thru his mother's ancestry
John Terry-as far as I can tell he is NOT related to the Cantrells or Adcocks

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Testing tasks using ChatGPT 3.5

I've been experimenting with ChatGPT today. I tried testing it to see if I could get it to automate some tasks for my research.  I fed it my outline of the George Solifelt Pension file.  It had an error occur after getting a little over half way thru the 7 page outline which I had copied and pasted into the chat.   I was using ChatGPT 3.5 and I haven't upgraded to a paid version because I can't justify the expense for something I rarely even think of using.   I reviewed the timeline that it had generated to that point and it appeared to start hallucinating and repeating one of the names mentioned as the person associated in all generated text after that point.  There may be a better way to do this in this version that would produce the desired results.  Upgrading might also produce better results. 

Another task I tried was asking it to list the names of persons mentioned in the text and how many times they appeared.  While it did a much better job of gathering George's FAN club from this outline it did not include every name but did make me aware that it hadn't included every name.  

For me it would have probably been just as fast to extract this information myself since doublechecking the results is a must.  

I do like how AI can help with indexing even if it requires human verification. That alone in the FamilySearch search experiment (no longer active search) back several months ago helped me to find documents that I'd I would not have found so quickly.  I would love to see that return given that the current search is broken at best there.  

I do plan to try and read up on using ChatGPT and catch a few webinars and YouTube videos that might be helpful in getting them to work for me.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Hathitrust: A Wonderful Resource At Your Fingertips

As someone who loves books and history I really appreciate the Hathitrust website. It is one of my go-to sites along with Ancestry, FamilySearch and GoogleBooks.  If you aren't using it to further your research, you should.  Try it out and check back from time to time. There are several options for logging in to Hathitrust. If your library or institution offers access, you will be able to use that option. Otherwise, you can log in as a guest by way of your Google, LinkedIn or Microsoft account.  

You can do quick searches for phrases about items of interest as well as build collections.  If you love sharing your finds, Hathitrust has options for sharing a link to a specific book in its collection or even a specific page in that book..  

I like to build collections.  Normally my collections are focused on People, Places or Things, but you could set up your collection however you want.  That is the most important part--that it's functional for you.  My "North Carolina Laws" collection has the Acts of the General Assembly of North Carolina books. These books contain information about early divorces, name changes or anything else that would require a ruling by the state.   That can be particularly helpful for research in the years prior to 1850 when an age group and gender might be all the information you have.

I've been adding web links in the profile pages of my Ancestry tree.  Most of the time it is a link to a website on which that person is mentioned or to a blog post that I or another researcher have written about them.  I also do this with links to pages or books that are available thru Hathitrust.

I knew that users could choose to keep collections private or make them public but I had not realized that there is also an option to generate a link to transfer a collection to another user.  

Friday, November 17, 2023

Clues in Franklin Co NC Wills & Inventory Volumes

I've read thru the record book listed below and wanted to mention a few of the items that I found listed in the volume.

Will and inventory records, and index, devisor and devisee, 1785-1964 (Franklin Co. NC)
Franklin Co NC Wills, Inventories, 1804-1812, Vol. C  Film # 18904
Filmed by The Genealogical Society of Utah in 1943 Louisburg NC
Digitized by FamilySearch.org    DGS # 4755060

The account of the sale of the property of Absalom Rush deceased which took place on 9th of October 1807, begins on Image 205 of  630.  I noticed William Cook listed as a purchaser of Iron hooks.  Another purchaser at the sale is John Cook who purchases 1 trumpet & rule.  There is a notation after his name which says " (of Wm.)". Does that mean he is the son of William Cook?   I don't know but it's something to investigate.  Other purchasers' surnames include Bower, Perry, Denson, Pulliam McLemore and of course many of the Rush family.  John Hornsby is also mentioned.  John is the son in law of William Cook(John married William's daughter Sally.) 

The sale of the property of John Nicholson deceased (Sold 25th Nov 1807) begins on Image  211 of 630 lists Wm Cook who purchases a heifer and Pope Cook who purchases a sow & 5 pigs.  This is the first time I've noticed the name Pope Cook rather than just Wm P Cook. I believe William Cook is Pope's father and that his middle name may have been used here to keep the accounts from being confused.  Other purchasers at the sale were Bowers, Denson, Fuller, Hester, Kimball, Gill, Perry, and of course Nicholson.  Many of the purchasers are those enumerated near William Cook and William P Cook in the 1810 US Federal Census of Franklin County, North Carolina.  

William Cook also purchases 5 barrels of corn from the estate of John Gholson in 1808 as shown on 285 of 630.  The widow Gholson is the Mrs Fanny Gholson listed one page over from William Cook in the 1810 US Federal Census of Franklin County, North Carolina.(Image 285 of 630)

Looking at some of the family trees I noticed that Fanny Gholson's maiden name is listed as Tourman.  The trees also list John Gholson as son of John Gholson Sr. and Esther May Cooke.  Esther Mae was born about 1720 in Orange Co. Virginia.  There were no sources so could be nothing but I do need to check in to that.

Interestingly enough the Mathew Dickenson who is the witness on the Gholson Estate papers must have been a lawyer and a lover of books as his estate inventory & sale is a fascinating look at books of the early 1800s.  These are just a few of the many interconnections I found between the families who were listed in the volume of records covering the years 1804-1812.  Do yourself a favor and read thru a few of the volumes of unindexed books which cover areas and time periods where you have a research interest.   You never know what you may find.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Joseph Cook Registers a Land Purchase in Franklin Co NC(Sept. 1803)

I've found yet another mention of David T W Cook.  This one is as a witness to the sale of land to Joseph Cook with whom he frequently appears around the time period of the early 1800s. 

Franklin Co NC Deed Book 12 was microfilmed by North Carolina Dept. of Archives and History in 1964.  FamilySearch has it and the other deed books in their digital film collection as Franklin County, North Carolina, Deed records or real estate conveyances, 1779-1951, and index, grantor and grantee, 1776-1949.  Film #427052 contains Deeds, book 12-15 1783-1811.  I wanted to see Deed Book 12 page 96 which the index said contained the recorded deed for land conveyed from Robert & Bennett Duke to Joseph Cook.  That page was Image 137 of 797 hosted on FamilySearch. The land is "on the waters of the Tar River. " The deed mentions Kelly's line and Mill Creek along with more specific measurements to the land which contains 140 acres. The Dukes sold the land for 635 Spanish milled dollars.
See:  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L96M-W3DB?cat=181225

Signed sealed & delivered & acknowledged
In presence of
David T W Cook
John Hayes
J Cook 
Robert Duke (seal)
B. Duke  (seal)
Franklin County(NC)
September Session 1803
The foregoing deed was exhibeted and
duly proved by the oath of John Cook
and on th Motion ordered to be Registered
This Deed is Duly Registered 
Test    G. Hill C C
Test    J Hill P R

 I have several other posts about David T W Cook some of which include several occasions where he was a witness for Joseph or Joseph was a witness for him.  You can find these by doing a search of posts using the search box in the upper left corner of this blog.

This is the first time that I have noticed another Cook other than Joseph listed along with David T W Cook.  Not sure if that means anything or not.

Friday, November 03, 2023

When a Named Executor Refuses to Qualify--Benj. Cooke's Will

The probate files for Benjamin Cooke of Granville Co NC were well worth the read.  I knew that an executor named in the will could refuse but seeing how things played out when that happened were enlightening.  When a named executor refused, someone would be appointed by the court who would be an administrator rather than an executor. This was confusing to me because I had always associated the term administrator as what you have when someone dies without leaving a will.  That is not the case.  An administrator is anyone appointed by the court to handle an estate.  This can happen when someone dies without a will, doesn't name an executor in their will or when the one named declines to be the executor.

Below is my attempt at transcribing Benj. Cooke's will and list of purchasers at his estate sale.

Digital Copy of Granville Co NC Will Book 7  pg. 494 & 495
North Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Granville  > Wills, Vol 7, 1808-1816 > 515 of 710

I Benjamin Cooke of Granville County & State of North Carolina
being of sound mind but ___?__ with the uncertainty of human
life do make and ordain this to be my last will & testament  Item
The first it is my will & desire that all my just debts shall be justly
and honorably paid and my executor hereafter named is authorized 
and impowered to sale such part of my property as he may think 
most expedient to affect that object.  Item the second I give and 
bequeath unto my sister Salley Cooke my molly long legs filly
and my watch I wish her to keep as remembrance 
her life time and to descend to her eldest son  should she ever have
one at her death.  Item the third I give & bequeath unto my
sister Martha my Harry Long legs colt.  Item the fourth I give and
bequeath unto my brother John my Rifle.  Item the fifth it is my
will and desire after my debts and the above legacies are paid that all
my remaining property shall be equally divided between my two sisters,
Salley and Martha thinking fit at the same time to declare that this disposition of my property is and ought not to be considered as evidence of my feeling a particular partiality for those of my relations who are to share my beneficences over and above those who are not,
my intention being to give to those I considered most needy.  Lastly
I appoint Woodson Daniel Executor of this my last will
& Testament in witness whereof I have hereto set my hand & seal
this 11th day of December 1814
signed & acknowledged in the presence of 
John C Courtney
Thomas P Downey            Benjamin B Cooke (Seal)
State of N Carolina
Granville County
February Court 1815

The execution of this will of Benjamin B Cooke dec was duly proved in open court by the oath of John C Courtney and Thomas P Downey the two and only subscribing witnesses thereto and ordering to be recorded Woodson Daniel the only person named in said will as an executor came into court and refused to qualify. As such Samuel Dickins is appointed administrator with the will annexed who after giving bond in the sum of seventeen hundred & fifty pounds with William Dickins and William Robard his sureties by law his qualification as such 
Witness Step. Sand Clerk
Digital Copy of Granville Co NC Will Book 7  pg. 494 & 495

North Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Granville  > Wills, Vol 7, 1808-1816 > 542 of 710

Estate Sale 17th February 1815
The inventory lists items as well as purchasers.  I have included a list of the purchasers below. Please consult the digital image for full details as to which items were purchased by each person. Several of the purchasers names are listed multiple times and I have listed them as shown but am unsure if this is two separate persons by the same name or an additional listing.

Thomas Pool
Wm Smith
John Cuth
Absalom Kimbro
Woodson Daniel
Joseph Sneed
Wm Griffin
Joseph Norwood
Wm Norwood
Robert Norwood
Dudley Mingy
Wm Smith
John Elliot
Absalom Hunt
Wm Robards
Wheeler Grissom
Morris Smith
Allen Morgan
Salley Cooke
Saml S. Downey
Martha Cooke
Wm Mallany
James Hunt
Patsey Hunt
William Bullock
William Stovall
John Burriss
Thos B Littlejohn
Jesse H. Cobb
John Cuth
Howel Satterwhite
Mat Nichols