I had a productive and surprising weekend in Arkansas! First, I attended the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies 2015 Genealogy Conference. For those who live in Arkansas and are doing family research, this is another great resource in addition to the Arkansas History Commission. Located in the Little Rock River Market, its convenient location in an historic and vibrant area of downtown is a must see if you are in the area.

The presenter was Lisa Louise Cooke who is the  owner of www.genealogygems.com. While there were some basic tips and techniques she covered that I had already stumbled upon in my own research through trial and error, I learned quite a bit from her presentation and would absolutely recommend any of her materials or sessions if you ever get a chance to attend one. She covered a huge amount in just a short period of time, from maximizing Google searches, using newspapers to find out more on your ancestors than just names and dates, to using Google Earth in identifying land or homes that ancestors once lived. Incredible information that I have already begun to utilize! In addition, she was an entertaining and very gracious presenter that kept everyone engaged.Thank you to the Butler Center and to Lisa for a great conference!

Warren horizontal collage
Scenes from Warren, Arkansas

On Sunday, we headed down to Warren, Arkansas. Warren is one of those quintessential small southern towns where you feel like you have traveled back in time when visiting. It is the seat of Bradley County and home to the Pink Tomato Festival. Many lovely old homes, historic churches and store fronts make up the downtown landscape. Additionally, it is a pivotal location for the Choctaw Tribe on the Arkansas Trail of Tears, a collection of routes traveled by several Native American Tribes during the time period of the Indian Removal Act between 1831 and 1839. I am looking forward to returning for another visit on a business day, where I can visit the county clerk’s office, local library, and absorb some of the history and charm of this quaint town.

Since my last post about Mary Jane, I stumbled upon a death notice in an issue of The Charlotte Democrat, September 14, 1874. I was excited to find this in lieu of a death certificate as it lists her parents as James and Violet Simril, confirming her parentage.

MJ Garrison Death Notice

I specifically wanted to find the tombstone marker for Mary Jane Simril Garrison on this visit. On a previous trip to Warren, ten years ago, we had located the grave of Major Brown, but at the time I only knew of his marriage to his second wife, Susan Scoby. If Mary Jane had been there on our first visit, we couldn’t recall.  Find-A-Grave listed her burial location as Oakland Cemetery, so we thought she would be there in the Garrison family plot next to Major Brown. Unfortunately, she was not located with Major Brown unless she is in an unmarked grave.

The only funeral home in town had a visitation going on, so while they were open they were not able to immediately help me locate her grave.  I have sent an email to inquire and hope to have that information before my next visit in a few months.

While the trip to Warren didn’t have the outcome I was hoping for, it made me much more curious about Mary Jane and Major Brown. Upon my arrival home, I did some additional searching on Newspapers.com and a few other places I had learned about in the conference.  I was able to locate a few clippings that I can’t wait to share. I also received a copy of “The History of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church,” by S. Mendenhall. It included information on Major Brown, as well as his father, Peter Garrison. I look forward to sharing more about them in my next post!

For a final surprise to round out the discoveries this weekend, my mother pulled out the family Bible I inherited from my Mema Roberts, that was from her father’s Igou line. While I knew it my parents had been holding it for me, I incorrectly thought it didn’t contain any family records. Silly me!  I really should know better than that at this point. Included in the book was a page listing the birth dates of my 2nd great grandparents, James and Martha J Igou of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Additionally, there was a copy of an article from the Chattanooga Times dated Sunday, October 21, 1934, entitled “Leaves from the Family Tree: The Igous.”  Once I get the mystery of Mary Jane solved, I will have to delve into researching the Igous. Hopefully, this will help me down the brick wall I have had on this line.

Happy Searching!