My Connection to America’s First Spies

I love a good spy story. And if you put it  in a historically accurate context, all the better. So I’m looking forward to the new AMC series Turn, which starts tonight. It’s tagged The story of America’s first spies.

When I saw the first promos a few months ago I had to find out if it was based on real events or if it was historical fiction. Turns out it’s based on real events, and The Culper Ring, as the group was called, had a part in winning the American Revolution. The spy ring was organized by Benjamin Tallmadge, who became George Washington’s chief intelligence officer.

The name Tallmadge sounded familiar so I did some exploring through my very rudimentary family history and turned up Thomas Talmadge Sr., possibly my 12th great-grandfather. He was born in England in 1595, and died in New Netherland (later renamed New York) in 1653.

My “research” was more like a quick glance, but it seems Benjamin Tallmadge, the revolutionary war spy, also descended from Thomas Talmadge Sr. Note the name Talmadge is spelled differently in different places at different times. Pretty tricky when looking for records about these guys.

Thomas Talmadge, Sr. brought his family from England to New Netherland maybe about 1633. Among his family members were sons Thomas Talmadge Jr., 1617-1691—possibly my 11th great-grandfather—and Robert Talmadge, 1622-1662, Benjamin Tallmadge’s 3rd great grandfather.

Cool, huh?

So it could be the story of America’s first spies is also the story of a long-lost cousin. Makes watching it all the more interesting.

As for my Talmadge immigrant line, it goes like this:

  • Thomas Talmadge Jr., 1617–1691 >
  • Nathaniel Talmadge, 1643–1716 >
  • John Talmadge, 1678–1764 >
  • Elizabeth Talmadge, 1703–1772 >
  • Elizabeth Hedges, 1731–1778 >
  • Robert T Crockett, 1755–1835 >
  • Jemima Crockett, 1763–1853 >
  • Elizabeth Bivens, 1803–1873 >
  • Maggie Cochran, 1838–1915 >
  • Mittie Bryant, 1864–1931 >
  • Will Rose—my great grandpa—1885–1972 >
  • Ed Rose, my grandpa, 1909–1985 >
  • my mom,
  • then me.

Here are links to previous posts with more about my Rose line, and about the Crockett connection.

Coincidentally, Turn, is based on Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring a book written by Alexander Rose. I wonder if he’s another long-lost cousin.

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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Rose


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John Wesley Belew, Born Today in 1850

When John Wesley Belew was born on Feb. 20, 1850 his father, William Pierce Belew, was 30, and his mother, Elizabeth Chambers Belew, was 27. He grew up in Carroll County, Tennessee.

According to the actual census records John W. Bellew was less than a year old when he was counted in 1850. In 1860, 10-year-old John W. Belen and in 1870, 20-year-old John W. Belew continued to live in Carroll County. Notice the various spellings of the last name.  The “Belen” spelling is probably a transcription error but the spelling variations are one reason it’s hard to confirm details of this family line. By the way, no matter how you spell it, it’s pronounced “blue”. And coincidentally on my dad’s side I have another Blue family. They came from Scotland by way of Nova Scotia and Toronto before arriving in Illinois. I’ll tell that story on another day.

But back to our story…

In 1871, 21-year-old John Wesley Belew married Margaret Eveline Black in Carroll County and the young couple had two sons before Margaret—maybe she was called Maggie—died in 1885. Two years later, in 1887, John married Mary Louisa Simpson in Carroll County. Together they had five children, two girls and three boys. The oldest daughter Bessie Jane, born in 1888 was my great-grandmother. The family continues to show up on the Carroll County US Census reports until 1900.

Sometime in the next six or so years the family moved west to newly opened Oklahoma Territory and set up housekeeping in far south Cleveland County. I heard they made the trip by covered wagon. In May 1907 19-year-old Bessie Jane married Will Rose in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

In December of 1907 Eroy Belew, 28, the youngest son of John and his first wife Margaret, went to Purcell to buy Christmas gifts for the family. I think he lived in Corbett, which is about 6 miles east of Lexington. There was no bridge between Lexington and Purcell so ferries were used for the crossing. On the way home he lost one of his packages in the river and he jumped into the icy water to retrieve it. Unfortunately he got sick from the ordeal and died on December 30.

Bessie and her husband started a family in short order and in 1908 named their first son John Wesley Rose. A year later my grandpa, Thomas Edwin Rose was born. Two months later Bessie died and was buried in the Lexington Cemetery next to her brother. My grandpa, just two months old, lived with Grandma and Grandpa Belew while his brother John Wesley and his dad, Will Rose, moved back to the Rose family home just a few houses away.

Belew-Ed GmaBelew Wes

Grandma Belew, Mary Louisa Simpson Belew with her grandsons, Ed (my grandpa, Thomas Edwin Rose) left, and Uncle Wes (John Wesley Rose). Uncle Wes went to France during the Invasion in June 1944. After surviving several days lost behind enemy lines he returned safe and sound only to die a day later just prior to the Battle of the Bulge. 

John Wesley Belew lived to the ripe old age of 87 and died in 1937 in Purcell. He’s buried in the Lexington Cemetery. His wife died in 1946 at the age of 80 and was buried next to him.

Here’s my direct line of Belew family ancestors.


I have a couple of directions I’m looking to extend this line. There’s a Ballieau family from France that moved to Ireland before coming to America.  There’s a similar, but different spelling of the name that comes from England to America. I’m working on both directions hoping one leads to my 6X great-grandfather Renny Beleu who was part of the South Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. The movie The Patriot, with Mel Gibson, is loosely based on events in South Carolina during the war. The Belews lived in Union County, South Carolina. Renny and all of his sons of the right age fought for independence during the war including my 5X great-grandfather Zachariah Belew, Sr.

I found a website with census records for Carroll County, Tennessee yesterday and took a look to see what I could find.  I found a lot. In addition to four Bellew families, I found the Simpsons (Mary Lucinda’s family) as well as Sellers, Tosh, and Prichard, which are families that intersect with mine as we spent some time in Carroll County, Tennessee.

There is a lot more to tell and I’ll keep working on it and share more on someone else’s birthday bio. So happy birthday to my (2x great) Grandpa Belew.

Any questions?


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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized


Sharing Direct Line Ancestors ~ a Cheat Sheet

It’s one thing to track down your ancestors and totally another to figure out how to share it with friends and family. Another trick is trying to remember which line some of your new finds go with. Especially as you get deep into maternal lines where the surname may only appear once on your tree. So I created a form to help me keep things straight for 16 generations all on one page. I call it my Direct Line Worksheet.


How do ya like them apples?

This sample is pretty easy to follow, it’s my Rose line which goes from my mom back to Jamestown. The left side of the page is for Direct Line ancestors—in this case all Roses—while the right side is for the spouses.

The far left column identifies each generation from you. There are two rows for each ancestor to allow room for basic details. There are cells for places and dates of birth, death and marriage. Two rows for each entry provide room for you to add a nickname or military title for your relative.

This is meant to be a cheat sheet not a complete picture of your family line. I provided space at the bottom for notes that don’t fit into the space allowed. Place names can be especially long so there’s room in the footnote to spell out parish, city, county, state and country if you want.

To fill this out, I start with me, mom and dad, grandparents and other people and details I know from memory. Then I check my notes and type in more details that are handy. When I reach a dead-end I print what I have so far. I can take this page and look for additional information and I’ll make a note of footnotes I want to include. My footnotes have tended to start at the bottom and go up. I don’t think it matters as long as I keep them in order. And I’ve used the same number more than once when the same information applies.

When you finish, you can fill out the summary at the top. Start, is the place to put the earliest year and that location. Names is where you put the sequence of Direct Line surnames.  On this page, Rose is the only name listed. The migration line is for the locations where your family was born, married and died. I just list each place once.

Here’s what the blank form looks like.

DirectLine-Blank-PDFRight click on the image to download a scruffy copy you can print for making notes on.

I have at least one family line that will need more space. I’ll see if I can figure out which one it is and make a two-sided worksheet for longer family lines. In the meantime, take a look at this and see what you think.

Here’s another sample. This one is my Scott family line. DL-Scott-1803I’m open to suggestions. I don’t have a place to provide this for free, but I can put it on Etsy for a couple of bucks. (It will cost a little bit to list it.) You’ll be able to download a clean pdf image and the excel spreadsheet that you can fill in on your computer.

Maybe no one needs this but me, but I’ve sure filled in a lot of them the past few days. I’m going to keep a print copy in each family file folder, and a digital copy in each family folder on my computer. I’ll punch holes in a set and keep them alphabetized in a notebook on my desk as a quick reference. I’ll make a set for my mom (who isn’t online). A completed set would be a great addition to a baby book or gift for newlyweds!

Any suggestions, besides more lines for footnotes?


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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Resources, Rose, Scott


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Peggy, 12, Stowaway to America

In 1743 Margaret, who was called Peggy, was born. She would marry Nathaniel Bivens and become my 6x great-grandmother.

I don’t know much about her yet, not even her last name for sure. Could be Tyler, could be Taylor, but I found several accounts that say she stowed away to America at age 12. What a brave little girl.

By all accounts it seems her mother died and her father was getting married again. One report said she had family in America, another said she had family “going” to America. Maybe she was able to stowaway with the relatives who were going to America so she wasn’t entirely on her own.

Several reports say she was born in Holland and she sailed from London, likely landing in Philadelphia or another nearby port because a few years later, about 1759, she married Nathaniel Bivens of Pennsylvania.

Family legend says they moved from Franklin County, Pennsylvania to Anson County, North Carolina sometime during or just after the Revolutionary War years. Nathaniel and Peggy had ten children. Their son John, born in 1760, was my 5x great-grandfather. He grew up and married Jemima Crockett, Davy’s cousin. I have that John Bivens was born in North Carolina, but if that was the case the family would have moved to North Carolina many years before the revolution which started in 1776. Another report says the family moved to North Carolina in 1773, which means John was born in Pennsylvania. Many strings to untangle when teasing out the family history.

But in my book the hero of this story is Peggy, the little girl who stowed away to America. I hope I can find out more about her. Was she running away from something, or, like so many other folks seeking adventure in a new place? I’ll keep looking and if I find anything else I’ll let you know.

Here’s the direct line from me to Peggy.

Jan Miller Stratton
Darlene Rose James W. Miller
Thomas Edwin Rose Lela Scott
William Thomas Rose Bessie Belew
Mittie Bryant John Henry Rose
Elizabeth Bivens Levi Thomas Cochran
John Bivens Jemima Crockett
Peggy Tyler
Nathaniel Bivens

Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Rose


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400 Years of Rose Family History

Hey Rose cousins! William Rose, Colonial Virginia, 1650. That’s where it all started.

I’m fleshing out the details, but here’s a rundown on our Rose pedigree, which started on 211 acres on the fork of Gray’s Creek across the James River from Jamestown.

Generation 1: William Rose was born about 1622 in England or Scotland. He married Anne, we don’t know her last name, and they came to Virginia about 1650.

Generation 2: William Rose was born about 1655 in the newly formed Surry County, Virginia. He married Lucy Corker Jordan, a widow with a young daughter.

Lucy takes us back a couple of decades. Her father was Captain William Corker and his father, John Corker was born in 1601. He arrived in Jamestown on the Warwick in 1621.

But back to the Roses.

Generation 3: John Rose was born about 1696 in Virginia, probably Surry County. He married Abigail Hicks in 1728.

Generation 4: William Rose (another one!) was born in 1729 in Surry County, Virginia.  He married Frances, last name unknown.

Generation 5: Samuel Rose is where we start to wander out of Virginia after over 100 years in the vicinity of the James River. Samuel Rose was born about 1755 in Virginia, his wife was Rhoda. When the revolution rolled around Samuel signed up as a patriot in Guilford County, NC. The Guilford County Court House was the site of a significant battle in 1781.

Generation 6: Francis Rose was born in 1775, I think in Virginia. He married Elizabeth “Betsey” Ford. She was born in North Carolina. Francis and Betsey lived in Buncombe County, NC and later they moved over the mountains to McMinn and Monroe Counties Tennessee.

Generation 7: William Rose was born in Buncombe County, NC in 1806. William was one of a passel of kids and he and his brothers would take their generation to the edge of the frontier as it continued to move west through the decades of the 19th Century. William married Elizabeth, last name unknown.

William and Elizabeth crossed over the state of Tennessee and started their family in Chilcot County, Arkansas on the Mississippi River.  After a few years of river living they moved catty-cornered across the state of Arkansas to Benton County in the northwest corner. There they lived near some of William’s brothers and then as Texas was about to become a state they made some trips to Texas, eventually moving there.

Generation 8: David Rose was born in Chilcot County, Arkansas in 1833. His younger siblings were born in Benton County, Arkansas, and he was 17 when his baby sister was born in 1847 in Van Zandt County Texas.  His dad, William Rose, was one of the founders of the county.


John Henry Rose, born 1860, Shelby County, Texas.

David married Mary Lucinda Wright and they started a family in the Owlet Green community of Van Zandt County. In 1860 John Henry Rose was born and in 1861 David and his younger brother James signed up with the Texas Militia to fight in the Civil War. James was married and had a son before he went off to war. He died in Mississippi in 1864.

Generation 9: John Henry Rose was born 1860 in Shelby County, TX. He married Sally Ida Lake “Mittie” Bryant, a southern belle from southern Tennessee. He brought his family to Oklahoma before statehood first to Chickasaw Territory near Ardmore. Unfortunately the area was full of outlaws and it wasn’t long before the family moved further north to Cleveland County to the community of Buckhorn, east and south of Lexington.

Generation 10: William “Will” Thomas Rose, my great grandpa was born in Cleburne, Johnson County Texas in 1885. He was probably about 20 when his family arrived in Cleveland County and in 1907, the year of Oklahoma statehood he married Bessie Jane Belew, newly arrived from Tennessee. Their first child was born in 1908, John Wesley “Wes” Rose, and in 1909 my grandpa, Thomas Edwin Rose was born. Sadly Bessie died two months later.

Bessie Jane Belew

Bessie Jane Belew Rose. Born in 1888 and died in 1909 of childbirth complications, two months after Ed was born.

Will and Wes moved home to live with his parents, and baby Ed was cared for by his Grandma and Grandpa Belew who lived close by. In 1910 Will married Lizzie Black. The family was reunited and soon joined by more kids.

Rose-Will & Lizzie Family

Will and Lizzy Rose, about 1919. The kids are: John Wesley, b. 1908 (center back); Ed, b. 1909 (far right); James Earldon, b. 1911 (center); the girls are Dorothy, b. 1913; and Wanda, b. 1916,

Generation 11: Thomas Edwin “Ed” Rose was born in Cleveland County in 1909. He married Lela Mae Scott in 1928. He operated heavy machinery and worked road construction much of his life. He and grandma also owned a couple of grocery stores when he was unable to do that. He managed to stay employed, although meagerly, during the Great Depression. He went to where the work was with a job in Illinois, and other jobs all over the state of Oklahoma. Ed and Lela had two kids: Darlene and Sonny. The family was very close to Ed’s brother Wes, and his wife Ruby who had no children. When World War II arrived Wes was drafted and sent to England to prepare for the Invasion in June 1943. Fortunately he didn’t cross with the first wave, but arrived in France with the last wave nearly two weeks later. He fought across France, was injured once and spent some time in a hospital then sent back to battle. In October 1943 he was lost behind enemy lines for three weeks. Letters to Europe were returned and the family got the word he was Missing in Action. He eventually turned up, promising to tell all about it when he got home.  That cold November of 1943 things were hot and heavy across France, Belgium and Germany and plans were underway for the Battle of the Bulge. Three days later Pvt. John Wesley Rose was Killed in Action.

Generation 12: Darlene Nevell Rose, b. 1932; and Sonny Wayne Rose, b. 1936.

Ed Rose  1940

The Ed Rose Family, 1940. Sonny, Darlene, Lela and Ed.

Generation 13: Then there’s us:  Janet, Jimmy and David Miller; Tina, Brent and Lori Rose.

Generation 14: How many kids do we have?

Generation 15: Underway, but incomplete: Jayce, Jett, Rylan, Bodin, Hadden, Owen, Mia, Riley and Avery.

So that’s it. Over 400 years of family history whittled down to about a thousand words.

There’s way more to tell about our early ancestors, they were tobacco farmers, plantation owners, Indian fighters, slave owners, patriot soldiers, frontiersmen, pioneers, and settlers. They helped establish new settlements in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma, always moving to a new area shortly after—and sometimes before—it was available for settlement.

So any comments?  What do you think of our ancestors? They seem like pretty gutsy people to me. Here’s hoping I can find the primary documentation to validate all this.


Here are links to some of my Rose research.



Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Thomas Edwin Rose


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Bumpass Creek Free Will Baptist Church

Once upon a time—in the early 1800s—John Scott (1800–1894) moved from his birthplace in Buncombe County, North Carolina to newly available territory in Lauderdale County, Alabama.

He established his home in northwest corner of the state, just a few miles from Tennessee. His land was along Bumpass Creek, which fed into the Tennessee River at Waterloo, just a few miles south.

A church was built on a piece of his land and then he donated that land to the church.


My mom painted this picture of the church from a photo taken during a trip to the area in 1990.

Our knowledge of the church history is a bit vague. I know the big picture, but not the details. I’d like to know more so we can label this accurately.

What is the name of the church? I found Bumpass Creek Free Will Baptist Church when I googled Baptist Churches in Lauderdale County. It’s in the right spot on the map, but that may not be how it’s known locally.

Does anyone know when it was established, and what are the chances any part of this building is original? If it’s not original when was this building built? Was the first preacher a Scott?

I’m counting on my Scott cousins to help fill in the blanks.


John Scott > Jeremiah Franklin (Frank) Scott > William Charlie (Charlie) Scott > Avery Albert Scott > Lela Mae Scott Rose > Darlene Rose Miller > Jan Miller Stratton



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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Lela Scott Rose, Scott


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More about John and Mittie Rose

I’m on a mission to scan “all” the pictures my mom has in our family stash. When going through the last batch we came across the original photo of the John Henry Rose family I posted recently.

John Henry Rose family, 1894 ~ American Saga

John Henry Rose, his wife Mittie (Bryant) Rose, Ora and Will.

Turns out there’s a wealth of information on the photo mat. First off it’s easy to see the photo was taken while the family lived in Ardmore after moving up from Texas. And it looks like it was taken about 1894.

It also provides additional information about Ora Pearl. I’ve been looking for details about her and was finding all manner of confusion. I found Ora Barnes, Ora Northcutt, Ora Williams… which one was she? Or was she any of them? Turns out she was all three, and thanks to the note on the bottom of the photo I was able to figure it out.

Ora Pearl married Almer Asbury Barnes in 1901 in Ardmore, Indian Territory. They had a son, Almer Asbury Jr., in 1902. Then sometime before 1910 Almer Asbury Barnes Sr. died. In the 1910 US Census Ora was listed as widowed and living with her 7-year-old son Almer, in Cleveland County with her parents.

Ora Barnes and her son Almer on American Saga

Ora Pearl Rose Barnes and her son Almer Asbury Barnes prior to 1910.

Have you ever seen such a cute little towhead? His mom isn’t too shabby either and in 1912 she married Columbus Northcutt in Lexington, Oklahoma. In 1913 they had a son, Marcus Northcutt, and in 1914 Columbus Northcutt died. Now she has two kids and in 1916 she marries for a third time. In 1918 she and Guss Williams have a daughter, Marguarite Williams.

In 1910 John Henry and Mittie Rose had a houseful. In addition to the minor children who were still at home, Ora and Almer were there and Will, who was also widowed, was there with his baby son, Thomas Edwin, my grandpa. Grandpa was just over a year old and his big brother, 2-year-old John Wesley, was living nearby with the other grandparents, John Wesley and Mary Louisa Belew. Will’s wife, Bessie Jane Belew died a year earlier when my grandpa was two months old.

Sons of Will and Bessie Rose: John Wesley (Wes) and Thomas Edwin (Ed) about 1910.

Sons of Will and Bessie Rose: John Wesley (Wes) and Thomas Edwin (Ed) about 1910.

A few months later, in November of 1910, Grandpa Will married Lizzie Black—I recently discovered her given name is Tilda Elizabeth. Before long Will and Lizzie added three more kids to the Rose family: James Earldon, who we called Uncle Earl, Aunt Dorothy, and Aunt Wanda.

Any questions?

Upcoming stories will include:

  • Wes Rose in WWII, letters home to his brother Ed
  • Scott family migration from North Carolina to Alabama to Oklahoma
  • We’re so Scots-Irish we should talk with a brogue
  • Grandma always said we were related to Davey Crockett
  • The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, the Blue brothers, and cannibalism on the Smokey Hill Trail
  • If you’re related to a president that branch of your family tree is already filled in
  • We fought for the Blue and the Gray
  • Our Revolutionary War Patriots
  • Twelve of thirteen original colonies

Be sure and follow American Saga so you won’t miss a bit of it.


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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Rose, Thomas Edwin Rose


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