Friday, February 1, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge - My Grand Uncle

This is the first time I have participated in this.  I have had a busy day so I am getting a late start.

NOTE TO SELF:  Plan better next week.

I am really not sure where to start here, so I am just going to start typing and see what comes out.

Today I spent time talking to one of my mother's cousins.  He is a 84 year old retired minister.  It was so much fun listening to him.  It is hard to keep him on track, but I enjoyed everything he had to say.  I would occasionally redirect him back to talking about family history.

The person I plan on focusing on today is William Henry Pickett.  I didn't know "Bill" existed until I started doing family history research.  I found him on the census and started tracking him.  Until a few weeks ago all I knew about him was that he lived with his parents, Benjamin N. Pickett and Martha Jane Eccles Pickett and three siblings in 1860 in Richmond, Indiana.

When I got my hands on the 1880 Census, I found him living with his mother and his sister, Lulu.  I found something interesting on this Census.  Under the category that says Maimed, Crippled, Bedridden, or otherwise Disabled, it is check marked.

Okay, at this point I am wondering what kind of disability he has.  He is 25 years old, so I wondered if he had tuberculosis or some debilitating disease.

In the 1900 Census he is living with his older sister, Lizzie, and my grandfather's two sisters, Luella and Martha Hoover.  His mother died in 1893.  I knew he was unable to support himself because of his disability.  I just didn't know what his disability might have been.

In 1910, the census lists him in the household of his sister Lulu Pickett Chant and her husband.  They have their son, and two of her three children from her first marriage there, one of which is my grandfather.

By the 1920 Census he is still living with Lulu Pickett Chant, her husband and son.

Okay I have gotten through the censuses and still don't really know any more about Bill.  I know that he probably could not take care of himself.  He moved down the list of family members to take care of him as the older ones passed away.  I know that he spent a lot of time living in the same household as my grandfather's sisters and possibly my grandfather.

Next, I found a copy of his obituary, all it tells me is he lived with his sister Lulu, and had several nieces and nephews.  He died at the age of 70 according to his obituary on December 14, 1926.

Over the years the census listed his birth date anywhere from 1951 clear up until 1959.  According to his obituary he would have been born in 1956.   I have not found a gravestone or death certificate.  I would expect the death certificate to have the same date as the obituary since the information was probably provided by the same person.

 He also had a brother listed on the 1860 Census that I could never locate again.  His brother, Thomas H Pickett, would have been 26 by the time the 1880 Census came along.  I have never been able to find the family on the 1870 Census records.

I had just put aside my research on him thinking I might never know any more about him.

A couple of months ago I found Jim,a cousin 1x removed of my mom.  He actually was raised by my mother's Aunt Martha, because his mother died when he was eight months old.  My Aunt Martha had grown up in the house with her Uncle Bill.  Jim  sent me this picture of Bill.  Of course it is only a head shot.

His mother, Martha, talked to him about Uncle Bill a lot.  She told him that Uncle Bill was very protective of the girls.

Well now I know what Bill's disability was. Jim knew!  Bill's legs were both cut off.  Jim told me that Bill lost his legs in the Civil War.  When Jim told me this I didn't disagree with him, but I thought to myself that couldn't be true.  Bill would not have been old enough to have been in the Civil War.

Well  today when I spoke to my mother's cousin, Paul,  Aunt Luella's son,  he was just talking away when he mentioned the flag and drum in his grandmother's closet.  He said when he was young it was there and he wanted to play with the drum.  His mother told him that he couldn't, it was her Uncle Bill's stuff from the Civil War.  She told him her uncle had been a drummer in the war and lost his legs.

Paul has no idea what happened to the flag and drum.  He said there were so many things in Grandma's house and he doesn't know what happened to any of it.

Okay, now my dilemma is, could Bill have been a drummer in the Civil War, and if so is it possible to find?  How can you find information on someone who probably would not have been an enlisted man.  What is Bill's exact age.  Would he have even been old enough?  Are Paul and Jim's memories accurate.  I believe that there was a flag and drum, but could they have possibly belonged to the older brother and he just remembers it as Bill.  If that is the case, what happened to Bill's legs?

I really would like help from experienced researchers telling me where to go from here.  What kind of records might be available?  Is there any way to check out this story? If you have any ideas please help!

For THE FAMILY HISTORY WRITING CHALLENGE I hope this qualifies as my writing for today even though it will be posted after midnight eastern standard time.  I know it will be submitted late, but I plan to get something done earlier for tomorrow's post.

This is actually the family chart of my great grandmother, Lula Pickett Hoover Chant from
I chose her chart because it shows all the family members that he lived with over the years.  It doesn't show Lulu because it is her chart.


  1. Hello Betty,

    Please do not worry about posting late, I often do it. Just between us you could amend the date to just before midnight then you are technically not late. As I said, just between us!

    What I love about blogging is the ability to be yourself. Type away about whatever takes your fancy. It is a medium to chat into the ether about any subject you fancy!

  2. Betty,

    A good place to check for Civil War participants is the National Park Services website at

    You may be interested to learn that there was a William Pickett in the 84 Regiment Indiana Infantry, Company K, who enlisted as a fifer. He might be someone that deserves looking into. A position as a musician was usually held by younger boys.

    Good job on the writing, I look forward to reading the next entry.


    1. Oh, and yep...that was a division out of Richmond.