Friday, June 24, 2011

Who in the world was Nathan M. Shumate?

Was Nathan M. Shumate a neer-do-well who abandoned his three young daughters after the death of his first wife in order to marry Annie (Anna) Purcell?  Did Annie pursue Nathan for his money and did she encourage him to abandon his daughters for her and the family that she and Nathan had started?  Did Nathan give over the care of Virginia, Louise, and Maybelle to his brother Quincy Shumate because of the bad blood between his daughters and his second wife?  Was it possible that Annie was married to someone else and had four children prior to her marriage to Nathan and that Nathan adopted the children?  And if that isn't the case does that mean four of the five children of Annie and Nathan were conceived during the same period that he was married to Maggie which would further account for the bad blood between Maggie's daughters and Annie? Did Maggie's daughters try to write him out of their lives because Nathan was a horndog and an adulterer? And in the end, what caused the death of Nathan M. Shumate at the age of 41 and was he in Newbern TN with his brother Quincy when death came for him?

Sometimes the facts don't tell the whole story.  In this case so much of the story is missing but at least I am slowly filling in the facts.

  • born abt 1858/59 in Kentucky, most likely Rockcastle County or Garrard County.  
  • His parents were Champ Shumate (1825-1905) and Martha J. McClary (1818-1876)
  • His siblings were Jason, Quincy, Belle, and Harriet Shumate
  • According to newspaper reports he was well-to-do.
  • He was married twice.  
  • First wife - Margaret (Maggie) Jane Adams (1866-1896). They had three daughters together, May Belle (b. 1885), Virginia (b. 1888), and Louise (b. 1891)
  • Second wife - Married December 9 1896, Anna Purcell aka Mrs. Annie Durmon   Perhaps she was a Purcell by birth, married a Durmon and then married Nathan Shumate.  According to the 1900 Census Annie was the head of the household and a widow.  The following children are listed as Shumates:  Mary (b1884), Eva (born 1886), Wadie (b 1893), Mittie (b 1895) and Myrtle (b. 1897). (Updated 6/25/11: Nathan Shumate was indeed Anna Durmon nee Purcell's second husband.  The only child that Nathan and Anna had together was Myrtle.  Milton Green Durmon, who died in 1894, was Anna's first husband and the father of her first four children)
  • We also know all was not rainbows and butterfly's in Nathan's second marriage because a notice appeared in the Mt. Vernon Signal May 20, 1898 just a year and half after he married Anna stating "The public will notice that you are hereby notified that I will not be responsible, nor assume payment for any debt or debts contracted by my wife, Anna Shumate, nor will I be responsible for any of her actions or accounts or costs on same. N.M.Shumate"  Could this indicate that Anna married Nathan for his money and that's one more reason Maggie's children didn't like her?
  • According to stories by Virginia she and her sisters were raised by her Uncle Quincy Shumate.  Census records bear this out as they are living with Quincy Shumate in Newbern, TN in 1900.  They are listed as his nieces and they are orphaned.  Quincy's obituary also says he was the foster father of Mrs. James H Moran (Virginia) and Mrs. Temple Harris Sr (May Belle). I am assuming that Louise Shumate died much earlier but have not found a record of it yet.
  • Nathan appears three times in the U.S. Census records: 1860 Garrard County, KY with his parents and siblings and he was one year old.  1870 Brandy Springs, Garrard County, KY. He is living with his parents and siblings and is now 12 years old. 1880 Brandy Springs, Garrard County, KY he is living with his father, Champ, and Amanda Wallace who is listed as the cook.  Nathan is now 21.
  • I have not been able to locate Nathan Shumate in a U.S. Census record past 1880.  Had the Census records of 1890 not burned up they would've told us exactly who was living with Nathan M. Shumate at that time.  However, in the 1900 Census his second wife Annie is listed as head of household and a widow.  
  • His second wife's death notice appears in the Interior Journal (Stanford, KY), March 19, 1918.  "Mrs. Nathan Shumate Dead.  Mrs. Shumate, widow of Nathan Shumate, is dead in the Brodhead section.  She was Miss Annie Purcell, of Rockcastle.  She is survived by three children."  Annie E Shumate is buried in Maretburg Cemetery, Rockcastle County, KY.
  • Virginia left behind a handwritten list of some of her relatives.  On the paper she says "N.M. Shumate died Mar.3 --1899 at 8 a.m."
  • A death notice appears in the Central Record, Thursday, March 9, 1899 that says "Quincy Shumate, formerly of this county, died at Newburn Tennessee, a few days since.  He is a son of Mr Champ Shumate, of Paint Lick."  
  • What is right and what is wrong with that death notice?  Quincy Shumate was a son of Champ Shumate and he did indeed live in Newbern TN but he died in 1941 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.  So, is it possible that Nathan M. Shumate was destitute, maybe sick and needed somewhere to go and that his brother Quincy took him into his house at Newbern and that it was Nathan who died in March 1899 in Newbern?  That would certainly account for Virginia's recorded information that places her father's death on March 3, 1899.  (Updated 6/25/2011: I uncovered information that confirms the death of Nathan M. Shumate and refutes the information found in the Central Record!)
In a nutshell, Nathan M. Shumate had been written out of the Shumate-Moran family history until now.  His three daughters by Maggie are often listed in family trees as being the daughters of his brother, Quincy, and Quincy's first wife Lucy Porter.  This occurs for several reasons.  First, Nathan's daughters didn't want to have anything to do with him after he remarried so they perpetuated the notion that Quincy was their father.  Second, in newspaper reports of the time Nathan's daughters were often referred to as sisters of the children of Quincy Shumate when in fact they were cousins.  In the 1910 Census, Virginia Shumate is listed as a daughter of Quincy and his second wife, Elizabeth.  However, someone did scratch through the word daughter in the record but on sites such as Ancestry.com when you do a search the relationship appears that she is his daughter.  Only if you look at the original record will you see the strikethrough.  You encounter the same issue with the 1900 census.  If you look at the original page it clearly states that Virginia, Louise, and Maybelle are orphans/nieces of Quincy Shumate. But if you don't look at the original then you get the impression that they are Quincy's daughters.

Among the facts I've been able to assemble none will ever answer the question, who was Nathan M. Shumate?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Genealogy Malaise

Today I have genealogy malaise.  I've been staring at leaves on Ancestry.com and going through old letters, pictures and documents. I've run into dead ends on one day that were resolved the next and chasing down leads that sometimes ended successfully and others that just caused more questions. I've been watching lives unfold as I read the Interior Journal and the Mount Vernon Signal trying to track down Shumate, Adams, and McClary relations in Kentucky.  I have images like the one below that have no point of reference and I wonder who they are and what connection do they have to our family.

Perhaps today is just a day to mull over what I've been able to discover so far and give my mind and my curiosity a rest.  After all, this project was generations in the making and its mysteries will not be given up so easily.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Japanese Influenced Moonlight Fete, July 18, 1894, Clinch and Tennessee Rivers

This memorabilia was saved by Miss Fannie Lemira Moran of Dresden TN, b. Oct 23, 1872 - d. May 3, 1955.  She was the oldest daughter of Capt. John W. Moran and Sophia Riley Gunn.




This is a handkerchief (and probably the only one in existence) from a Moonlight Fete that took place aboard the Wyeth City Steamer, July 18, 1894, on the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers.   Though I am unable to find anything about this event, it's obvious from the beautiful images on the handkerchief that it was inspired by Japanese motifs.  Mathew Perry's expedition to Japan in 1853-54 re-established connections with Asia that had been closed since the 17th century and the influx of Asian culture would have a profound impact on Western Art for many decades.  The images on this delicate piece of material remind me of the works of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).



I was able to find some information regarding the Wyeth City Steamer.  According to River Boat Dave, the Wyeth City was built in 1878 and originally named the Chattanooga.  It was a sternwheeler with a wooden hull packet.  In 1888, a novice pilot sank the Chattanooga but she was raised and rebuilt as the Wyeth City. The first owner of the steamer was a prominent citizen of Bridgeport, Alabama, R.C. Gunter. He served in the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.  After the war, like many, he didn't have much to go home to but he was able to get a crop out that year, go into business for himself and eventually he became the owner of three steamboats; the R.C. Gunter, the J.H. Johnston, and the Chattanooga/Wyeth City.  He owned the steamer until 1888 which is when, according to River Boat Dave, it sank and was reborn as the Wyeth City.



Though the Wyeth City was used to transport many things in its day, it was, for one magic night the home of a Japanese influenced, moonlight fete for well-to-do ladies and gentlemen in 1894. 




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Obituary of Champ Shumate

Champ Shumate and his first wife Mary McClary 
were the parents of Nathan M. Shumate.  
Nathan M. Shumate and his first wife Margaret Adams 
were the parents of  Virginia Shumate Moran

Champ Shumate was born September 2, 1825 and died February 1905 from kidney disease.
Here is a link to his obituary in the Central Record, February 10, 1905 or feel free to read it below.

You say Morner, I say Moran, Morner, Moran, Morner, Moran, Let's call the whole thing off

I had been looking at Census records for John W. Moran and actually was having some fairly good luck finding information.  However, for the life of me when I did a search the 1850 Census always came up missing.  It didn't matter if I searched for John or one of his siblings, the results were always the same.  No Moran's appeared in the 1850 Census for Dresden, TN, but we knew from family history that they were there.  So I resorted to doing a manual inspection on my own rather than trusting the database search I had been using.  

And voila!  There they were on page 6 at the very bottom: E. Moran, Martha Moran, Jane Moran, Agnes Moran, John Moran, Marion Moran and James Moran.  hmmmm.  So that meant that whoever transcribed the records had made a mistake which is not that uncommon but it makes it very interesting/difficult when you put in a name to search and it's been indexed incorrectly.  It's especially frustrating when the service allows you to save records to individuals in your family tree and the name is wrong!!

Eventually I discovered that the name Moran had been indexed/transcribed as Morner.  That makes one heck of a difference when you're researching!  So I saved the record to the appropriate family members and included a note indicating that the name is really Moran, not Morner.

So if you've been researching this line of Morans and weren't able to locate them in the 1850 Census, here they are in household 49 of the 1850 Census for Weakley County, Dresden, TN.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Twenty Mule Team Brand Borax - American Girl No. 1 Print 1904

"The usefulness of Borax is not limited to the kitchen and laundry; the wise American girl has Borax in her bath, in her shampoo and on her toilet table.  Borax water is the best cosmetic in the world."  
From a Twenty Mule Team Brand Borax advertisement in

This is American Girl No 1, the first in a series of five.  It measures 14 x 19 inches and was suitable for framing which is exactly what one of the Moran's did back in 1904.  This was still in the Moran family home and is in the original frame.  They were available from the company by sending one box top from a pound of 20 Mule Team Brand Borax and four 1 cent stamps to cover the cost of shipping.  
You could choose which print you wanted to receive. 

Rare Opera Play Bill - Printed in Humboldt TN, ca 1890's

Maude Atkinson (The Distinguished Emotional Actress) was appearing in a play especially written for her by Miss May M. Ward entitled A Golden Moth. Most likely this play is the one mentioned in the New York Clipper Annual of 1891 which states the following: "A Golden Moth," by May M. Ward, originally acted, Union City, Tenn."  

OPERA HOUSE ToNight
The Fashionble (sic) Society Event
The Distinguished Emotional Actress
MAUDE ATKINSON.
Who will appear in her creation of Clair Hudson.  To-night will be presented the Society Comedy in 3 acts written especially for Miss Atkinson by the talented young Southern Authoress, 
Miss May M. Ward, entitled A Golden MOTH

Cast of Characters
Maurice Hudson (Claires son)....Gus Homer
Harold Montford (a victim of social ideas)...R.J. Johnson
Gerald Montford (who loves Edith)..Harry DeMuth
Col. Malcolm Dare (of Kentucky)...R.B. Jones
Dick Carroll (a sentimental swain)...Howard Thompson
Edith Dare (a born coquette)...Kate Chester
Flossy Montford (a wildwood's blossom)...Clara lake
Mrs. ?ville Ray (a willing catch)...Jennie Burleigh
Clara Hudson (a Washington Belle)...Maude Atkinson

A MODERN SOCIETY COMEDY
Not over-drawn, but depicting true scenes of Gilded Bauble Society Life in Washington.  AN AMERICAN PLAY by an AMERICAN AUTHORESS FOR AN AMERICAN ACTRESS SUBMITTED TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC FOR THEIR APPROVAL.

FRED SCHUCHERT,                     MANAGER
Seats at Usual Place.
DON'T FAIL TO VISIT AND BE AMUSED!
messenger print, Humboldt Tenn.

Updated October 31 2013
The old opera house building has been rehabbed and is now a stylish event venue.  Be sure to check out the Opera House Event Hall in Humboldt Tennessee.  The new owners asked to use our flyer and we happily gave permission so you might see a bit of Moran Place history if you visit the venue!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Recollections of Jno. W. Moran, Dresden Enterprise April 26, 1912

Recollections of Jno. W. Moran Dresden Enterprise April 26, 1912

Soldier Citizen Friend

31st Tennessee Regiment
Co. I   C  S  A

Paper dolls circa 1895

These paper dolls probably belonged to the youngest Moran girl, Marion, who was born about 1884.  I found them all in one envelope inside one of the many boxes containing Moran items.  It's amazing how beautiful and intact they still are after 126 years!  

Some of the dolls are from a company called Barbour's who produced thread and other textile products.  Barbour's was founded in 1784, the date on the back of the Barbour's dolls is 1885.  Here is some reading from Barbour's entitled A Treatise on lace-making and embroidery with Barbour's Flax Thread.

The top row of paper dolls originate from the Coats and Clark thread called O.N.T (One New Thread).  O.N.T. thread became available in 1864.  Here is a short history of the Coats and Clark Company including the development in 1864 of its thread division.

Paper dolls have always been an inexpensive toy for children.  They originated in Paris, moved to England and eventually made there way to America.  For a concise history of American paper dolls visit