Monthly Archives: May 2008

A.N.J. Davis in the Civil War.

I had known for a few years that my great-great-great grandfather, Reverend Andrew Nathaniel Jackson Davis had been a Confederate soldier in the War For Southern Independence. I also knew that he had been captured by the Federal Army. Not until today had I found any record to verify this family lore.

A.N.J or “Jack” as he was called, had been born near Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1844. His father, George, died before 1850. In the 1850 Census for Gwinnett Co., Ga., “Jackson A.” is living with his mother Nancy and the other children namely: Clementine, Carizan (Carrison? Carson?), Ewell, J. Wesley, Elrica Jane, and Mary.

I cannot find them on the 1860 Census.

Jack enlisted with the 9th Tennessee Infantry, and was assigned to Company C.

I’ve never been sure as to why he signed up with a regiment from Tennessee instead of his native Georgia.

Anyhow, according to family lore, he was captured by the Yankees in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

So I sat out to find what I could on Jack.

According to his enlistment records, he signed up under the name of J.A. Davis. Makes sense, I guess.

Since I knew he had been captured, I thought another good place to look would be the POW records on Searching for J.A. Davis brought up 56 results. Jack’s record was the third one I looked at.

According to this document, J.A. Davis was captured on December 28, 1864 at Egypt Station, Mississippi. (Not too far from Vicksburg.) I’ve tried to find out more information about this skirmish without much luck.

He was sent to a prison in Alton, Illinois, and arrived there on January 17, 1865. Luckily the war was almost over, or he probably would have died from starvation or disease in the horrific Yankee prison system.

He was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland for a prisoner exchange on February 18, 1865.

I have yet to find when he was received at the prison at Point Lookout. I’m still searching for that information.

Apparently after his release (or after the war was over), he returned to Georgia, where in 1867, he married Sarah Greene O’Bryan.

Sarah would give birth to sixteen of Jack’s children, including three sets of twins. Only 12 survived to adulthood.

They moved from Georgia to Arkansas where Jack (now a preacher) helped start the Oauchita Baptist College at Arkadelphia. The family then moved to Indian Territory where he was a missionary to the Choctaw Indians.

In 1890, they moved to western Oklahoma near the town of Piedmont. Sarah died there in 1901.

Jack lived until 1938. My grandmother, born in 1929, remembers him.

The photo to the left is four generations of the Davis Family. L to R: My grandmother, LaWana, her father, Clarence Jackson, his father, Robert Wallace, and his father, Andrew Nathaniel Jackson Davis. I believe this is the only photograph I have that contains both A.N.J. & my grandmother.

I just wish someone would have asked him more about the war.

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Posted by on May 15, 2008 in Genealogy


Happy Birthday, Anna

Yesterday would have been my great-great grandmother’s 143rd birthday. Her name was Anna Catarina Jahnke, born on May 8, 1865 in Garnerville, Iowa. She would later moved to Riley County, Kansas as a small girl.

Her parents, Heinrich & Ursula Jahnke, homesteaded a few miles north of Riley, Kansas. In the 1880s, they donated a corner of their farm for the erection of a German speaking Presbyterian Church, which is still standing.

Anna would later marry Karl (Charles) Kleiner. In 1910, the Kleiner and Swart Families left Kansas for Washita County, Oklahoma.

Grandpa & Grandma Kleiner drove to Oklahoma in a brand new 1910 Oakland Car. The Swart and Kleiner boys traveled in a railroad boxcar with all of the family possessions and livestock.

Bessie Kleiner, their daughter and Herman Swart would marry in Washita County in December 1912. They are my great-grandparents.

While in Cordell earlier this week, I saw a couple of pieces of furniture that my Great-great grandpa Kleiner had made. One piece was a chest of drawers, and another was a low-lying table they used to play dominoes on.

My cousin Marla also has a marble top dresser that belonged to them and was brought to Oklahoma from Kansas.

This photo shows the Charles Kleiner Family in 1910 before leaving Kansas. Anna is seated, holding uncle Rufus. Bessie is the young girl in the back.

Uncle Rufus, born in 1909, celebrated his 98th birthday last year. He’s the only one in this photo still living.

Happy Birthday Anna.

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Posted by on May 9, 2008 in Genealogy


A Trip to Cordell

My trip to the Washita County Courthouse in Cordell, Okla. yielded some fantastic results! I had been looking for the daughters of William Lewis Baker: Fanny and Sally. I knew that Aunt Mollie had married Luther Scott, and that Aunt Laura had married Robert Davis. However, I could not find who the other two girls had married.

Once I found out that W.L. had died near Rocky in 1914, I thought I might be able to find a record of the daughters under their married names in his probate records.


Included in his records was a complete list of heirs including Fanny Robinson of Rocky and Sally Miller of Chickasha. Also herein was his last will and testament which had been made in September 1913.

With his signature!

It seems that he left his first son, William Frank Baker, my great-great grandfather, 1/2 of the 320 acres of the farm 2 miles east of Rocky, Okla. The other 1/2 was to be sold along with his livestock and equipment, and the proceeds divided evenly between his second wife, Nancy, and the remaining children. It seems they each received a little over $200 each.

I also received a letter in the mail from the Cooke County, Texas Courthouse this week. It contained a copy of the 1879 marriage license for William Lewis and Martha Jane Ashby Baker.

On Sunday, May 4th, we traveled home to Fletcher to attend my great-grandmother’s 90th birthday party. On the table with the guest book was a recent photograph of her as well as a pencil drawing of her that had been done in the early 1940s. I’d never seen it before! I asked her if I could take it home to make a copy, and she said yes!

At the party, I was able to speak with my 1st cousins, twice removed, Wanda & Wynona, daughters of my great-great aunt Ellen. They are full of stories about the family, and it was nice to sit down and talk with them again and share my recent findings in the way of family history.

My great-grandmother was born in 1918. She was the second daughter to be born to William Frank & Effie Davis Baker. Their first daughter, Martha Ellen, was born in 1916. Apparently, they had an older brother born 1914-15. While Effie was giving birth, the doctor accidentally broke the baby’s neck.

The story I had heard from my great-grandmother was that the baby was buried on top of Grandpa Robert J. Davis in the Odessa Cemetery east of Rocky. But that couldn’t be possible because Grandpa Davis didn’t die until much later.

Cousin Wanda said that he was buried on top of a Will. She thought him to be a distant uncle. However, I don’t think she realized that Grandpa Baker’s name was actually WILLIAM Lewis. Since I know he died near Rocky in January of 1914, it is very possible that the unnamed Baker boy could have been buried on top of his Grandfather Will. Baker!

I wrote her a letter this week telling her of my thoughts on this.

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Posted by on May 8, 2008 in Genealogy


Oh, to hear his voice!

While at a family funeral back in November, a cousin of mine said that our cousin Bruce had an old 78 RPM album that contained a speech delivered by my great-grandfather Herman Swart. He was on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Farmers Union for 18 years until his death in 1962.

Herman & Bessie Swart, 1912Herman came to America from Germany at the age of 14 in 1895 with his family aboard the SS Braunschweig. I’ve seen lots of photos of him, but the thought of being able to hear his voice is amazing. I wonder if he still spoke with a German accent after all those years.

The wedding portrait on the left is of Herman & Bessie Swart in 1912.

I contacted cousin Bruce about the record and he is going to make a digital copy of the recording and send me one!

While talking of family heirlooms, he said that he has a handwritten copy (in my great-grandmother’s hand) of a recipe for Speck und Decken, a family recipe brought to America. It’s a whole-wheat pancake with raisins and hint of licorice flavor. It also has bacon and sausage in it. Most people think it’s a peculiar food, and I guess it is. But since I have grown up with it, I just love it. We only have it once a year (New Year’s), and it is something that I always look forward to.

I think it must have been developed in Germany when the family was running the bakery in Mitling-Mark. They were the village bakers for about a hundred years before coming to the U.S. I’ve never met anyone from Germany or German descent who has heard of this recipe. So I think it truly must be a family recipe.

I had no idea that a receipt in her own hand survived. I remember my grandparents telling me stories of everyone going to “Mom Swart’s” (as they called her) for Speck und Decken. She would have several cast iron skillets on the stove to fry enough for the whole family. They laughed when remembering the times she would get the skillets too hot and smoke would fill the house. They would have to open all the windows to clear it out. It makes me proud to think of all the generations that have shared good times with each other because of this recipe. It is something that I make each year, and will share with my own children. I can just imagine everyone sitting around visiting a laughing, while children of all ages played about in the house and in the yard.

It makes me smile.

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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Genealogy