THE Most Important Date in the United States

17 September – This should be THE most important date on every U.S. calendar.
17 September 1787 – The Constitution of the United States of America was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The guiding principles of this nation are set forth in this document. EVERY soldier, sailor, marine, U.S. Congressman/Congresswoman, U.S. Senator, Supreme Court Justice, U.S. President, U.S. Vice President and cabinet member take an oath to Preserve, Protect and Defend – THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

I would that every American citizen carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution in their purse or wallet and read it from time to time.

We The People are charged with keeping those that represent us focused on this document. Too often the winds of public opinion allow politicians to drift from the established guidelines, and laws of this document. Herein are the responsibilities of Federal Office and the RIGHTS GUARANTEED to every citizen of this nation.

Take the time to READ the Constitution.

I encourage you to also read Plain, Honest Men – The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman and The Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Both are excellent volumes.

Also on this date was The Most Bloody Battle ever endured on U.S. soil. The Single Day battle at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland saw Americans from North and South inflict over 25,000 casualties upon each other. The result of the battle saw the Confederate Army retreat back into Virginia and cease their attempted invasion into the northern states. It was the victory that allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This lead to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Nana’s Saying is Passed Down to Generations

Do you have a memory or saying or habit that has been passed down from generation to generation?

In our family there is a story behind Stubbing Your Toe.

When Dixie Lee Vernon Fugate (1858-2016) was a child she had a really bad day. She said a prayer asking if Jesus really loved her. She asked that he show her by some sign or action. Almost as soon as she ended the prayer she stubbed her toe. She said, “Jesus Loves Me!”

From that moment on, every time she or someone around her stubbed their toe, she proclaimed “Jesus Loves You!”

This story came to mind on Sunday, May 19, 2019. I had come out of the shower and was moving toward the closet to get my suit for church when I cracked my toe against a chair. My first thought was, “Jesus Loves Me!”

I find myself passing this along to my children and grandchildren.

Do you have a similar story or event that you can pass on?

If so, take every opportunity to pass it on to your friends, immediate family and your posterity.

AND be sure to Write It Down.

Memorial Day 2019 – My Ancestors Who Died in Uniform

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who have given “their last full measure of devotion.”  My ancestors have died in several conflicts from the American Revolution to World War II.

These are my ancestors – the honored dead I have identified thus far:

Private Joseph Robins – Died Valley Forge, Pa May 1778

Private William Jones Cowan – died Goliad, Tx Mar 1836

Private Thomas B. Cowan – died Yorktown, Va Sep 1861

Private John Y. Cowan – died Manassas, Va Dec 1861

Private John D. Cowan – Sharpsburg, Md Sep 1862

2Lt. James Pinkney Cowan – died Chancellorsville, VA May 1863

2st Thomas Allison Cowan – died Gettysburg, Pa July 1863

Sergeant Nathan Hamilton – died Gettysburg, Pa July 1863

1st Sgt George W. Faucett – died Wilderness, Va May 1864

Corporal Daniel Fugate – died Point Lookout, Md July 1864

Corporal, Guy Wentworth Selden – Died St. Mihiel, France Sep 1918

1Lt. Robert Benjamin Fugate – died At Sea Jan 1945

William Webster Gunnell IV – Sometimes Stated Relationships Are Just Hints

I received an email stating my 8th great-grandfather, William Webster Gunnell IV, was born in England.

I was not familiar with this 8th Great-grandfather.

I clicked on the link to see HOW I am related to this individual.
I found that someone has extended my John Whitaker Standifird and Elizabeth Cofer line.

I have verified my relationship back to John Whitaker Standifird (1778-1845) and Elizabeth Cofer (1780-1838). They are my 4th great-grandparents.

From a previous hint, I have William Cofer and Esther ?? as possible parents to Elizabeth. This came from a public family tree. There was no source or documentation provided.

Now I have someone claiming that William Cofer (1752- July 1808) born and died in Bullitt county, Kentucky married in Nelson County, Kentucky in 1770 an Esther Thomas (1750-1808) from Bullitt County, Kentucky.

There is no documentation for this information.

My problem with this claim is that it continues on for three more generations – Catherine Gunnell (1775- deceased) (no documentation), Henry M. Gunnell (1705-1792) (a reference to a will), and finally William Webster Gunnell IV (1676-1760). There are 6 sources attached to William, four appear valid documents with two as family trees.

I always look at information like this as a CLUE.

This information could be accurate.

Too often I find relatives, friends and patrons who blindly accept public posted information as Absolute Proof.

I have found that in most instances this is not the case.

I caution everyone to check, verify, and if possible, re-check and re-verify the information provided as “hints” or “suggestion” or even “online proof”.  Too often individuals post online, information they “heard” or are passing down a “verified” family story.

As for me, I am looking forward to verifying the hints regarding the Cofer to Gunnell lines. I just might be related to William Webster Gunnell IV.

Who is Frances Ann’s Father?

I took a DNA test. My goal was to find additional cousins and expand my family tree.

One of the results says I have a cousin, Frances Ann Pierce the daughter of Richard Morgan Pierce and Lucinda S. H. Fugate.
This was exciting news, as I had never run across a Frances Ann Pierce in all of my family history research.

I found Frances Pierce, age 14, in the 1870 Federal Census in Schuyler County, Missouri. She is residing in the Caswell and Elizabeth Hamilton household.
Checking the 1860 Federal Census I find a Frances, age 4, listed as a daughter of Caswell and Elizabeth Hamilton. (I am assuming that this is the same Frances that appears in the 1870 Federal Census.)

Per the headstone in the Fugate Cemetery in Schuyler County, Missouri, Lucinda S. H. Pierce died 18 May 1857.

The headstone for Morgan Pierce states his death in 1851. However, I realized that the stone could have been misread and the date could be 1857.

My first question was one of relationship. Lucinda S. H. Fugate Pierce is the sister of Elbert Mitchell Fugate. Elbert’s wife is Nancy Clarinda Hollcroft.  Caswell Hamilton married Elizabeth Hollcroft, sister of Nancy Clarinda Hollcroft.

I appears that after Lucinda died her brother Elbert’s wife’s sister Elizabeth Hollcroft Hamilton is raising the orphan daughter of Lucinda and Morgan Pierce.

EXCEPT, Lucinda S. Pierce and her father John Fugate are appointed administers of the the estate of Morgan Pierce on 25 November 1851. Security was put up by Thos. S. Jeffries and John W. Minor.

Morgan Pierce, Lucinda’s husband, died in 1851. (NOT 1857)

I am confident that Richard Morgan Pierce is NOT Frances’ father.

Who is Frances Ann Pierce’s father?  She was born in 1856. Lucinda S.H. Fugate Pierce died 18 May 1857.

During my latest visit to the Schuyler County, Missouri courthouse I discovered the probate record of Lucinda S. H. Pierce. The document lists three children – John R. Pierce, Susan Pierce and Frances Ann Pierce.

An additional visit to the Schuyler County, Missouri courthouse is in order.

Is there GUARDIANSHIP for the children of Morgan and Lucinda? (In the 1860 Federal Census John R. Pierce age 12 and Susan Pierce age 9 are living with their grandfather, John Fugate.)
Is there any type of birth record for Frances Ann Pierce, born in 1855 or 1856?
Perhaps the marriage record of Frances Ann to William Worth Hale in 1872-1873 would indicate her parents.

One possibility – Lucinda was raising Frances because Frances’ birth mother had died during childbirth or shortly thereafter. (Not at all uncommon during the 1800s.)

I must now expand my research into the Pierce family. Perhaps Morgan had a brother that was the birth father of Frances.

More investigative work remains to resolve this issue!


Question: What do you do when you are a genealogist, reading for pleasure and discover a possible ancestor?

Answer: You treat it as a lead and follow through.

I previously discovered a relative, Corporal Robert T. Fugate, who survived as a Japanese prisoner of war through World War II. He was a U.S. Marine in the Philippines stationed on Corregidor. He suffered through four years as a Japanese prisoner of war.

I recently read a book about the Bataan Death March. I was seeking any reference or anecdote about Corporal Fugate. I did not find either, however I did find something else.

At the end of the book was an Appendix. This was a list of 1607 servicemen with whom the author had served, suffered and/or survived. One of the names – First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate .

The first thing I did was verify that this was NOT the same person being misidentified. (The U.S. military has occasionally made errors when notifying Next Of Kin.)

Corporal Robert Tebo Fugate was born in Nebraska in 1921 to Frank and Mae (Tebo) Fugate. He was the only son, with three older sisters – Lucille, Roberta and Leota. Robert T. Fugate entered the United States Marine Corps on 16 Jan 1940 and completed his basic training at San Diego, California on 29 February 1940. Sometime prior to December of 1941 he was transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China. Subsequently, he was transferred to Corregidor, Philippines when the unit was removed from China.

We both descend from John Fugate. John Fugate was born in Russell County, Virginia in 1795. He moved to Missouri about 1844. He died in 1878 in Schuyler County, Missouri.

I started searching to determine if (or how) I have a relationship to Lt. Robert B. Fugate. Was he also a descendant of John Fugate? If not, how are we related?

Robert Benjamin Fugate was born Aug 1919 in Brazil, Clay County, Indiana to Benjamin Franklin “Ben” and Lillian B. (Walker) Fugate. He was the second child and first son. He had an elder sister, Dorothy L. Fugate and a younger brother, Norman Fugate.

Robert B. Fugate attended Purdue University and graduated in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

On his U.S. Selective Service Registration form, dated 16 October 1940, he is noted as single, white, height 5-8, weight 167, hair black, eyes brown, complexion dark with an appendicitis scar. On 30 June 1941 he was activated into the United States Army and assigned to the 400th Field Artillery. Once he arrived in the Philippines he was assigned to the 88th Field Artillery Regiment, Philippine Scouts.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate, MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate and I all descend from Martin Fugate.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate descends from Martin’s son William.

MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate and I both descend from Martin through his son Colbert, John Fugate’s father.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate is my fifth cousin, once removed.

MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate is my third cousin, once removed.

Having determined my relations to each of these soldiers, I then sought information to see if they could have had any contact with or known each other during their ordeal.

The two men served in different units, in separate services and in different locations. Corporal Robert T. Fugate served with the 4th Marine Regiment. The Fourth Marine Regiment was stationed and defended the island of Corregidor, Philippines.

First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate served in the 88th Field Artillery, Philippine Scouts. The 88th Field Artillery was stationed and defended the Bataan, Philippines peninsula.

1LT Robert B. Fugate, as part of the 88th Field Artillery soldiers, endured The Bataan Death March. (A detachment of the 4th Marine Regiment was also stationed on Bataan and endured the Death March.) The Bataan Death March occurred 9-12 April 1942. The march ended when the prisoners arrived and were incarcerated at Camp O’Donnell .

CPL Robert T. Fugate most likely did not participate in the Death March. All accounts I found indicate CPL Fugate was stationed on Corregidor. The forces on Corregidor fought through April and surrendered on 6 May 1942. After the surrender, the forces on Corregidor  were shipped across Manila bay to Bilibid prison .

Prisoners at each location were grouped by rank: commissioned officers separated from non-commissioned and enlisted soldiers. 1Lt. Robert B. Fugate was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Cpl. Robert T. Fugate was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Marines.

So far I have not found any information indicate they could have met or known each other while prisoners of war.

Corporal Robert T. Fugate, USMC, survived the war and continued active military service. He retired a Master Sergeant, USMC. He died in 1993 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia .

First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate did not survive the war. He was wounded on board a ship while being moved from the Philippines to Japan. He died of his wounds and was buried at sea. 1LT Robert B. Fugate’s name is listed on the Wall of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines.

Reading and the studying the experiences of these relatives, what they endured during their combat and captivity, has increased my gratitude for their sacrifice. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered evidence of their service.

May their service and sacrifice is always remembered.

For More Information See:

Some Survived: An Eyewitness Account of the Bataan Death March and the Men Who Lived Through It by Manny Lawton

The United States Marine Corps in World War II compiled and edited by S.E. Smith

The Fugate Family of Russell County Virginia by David Faris

“7 Lieutenants Ordered to Duty,” The Indianapolis Star Indianapolis, Indiana, 30 June 1941, Lt. Robert B. Fugate ordered to duty with 400th Field Artillery;

“Prisoner of Japanese,” The Indianapolis News Indianapolis, Indiana, 19 December 1942, 1LT. Robert B. Fugate held as prisoner of war; online image,

Death March – The Survivors of Bataan by Donald Knox

William Jones Cowan – My Texas Hero

My 2nd great-grandmother, Martha Cowan Christy Robbins (1836-1926) was named after her maternal grandmother, my 4th great-grandmother, Martha Cowan(1778-1857).

In researching my Cowan ancestry I came across two family histories – The Cowans of County Down by John Kerr Fleming and A Cowan Lineage of 400 Years by John Kerr Fleming. I requested both books through my local library.

In these family histories, I found Martha Cowan (1778-1857) was the daughter of Matthias “Matthew” Cowan (1734-1819) and the granddaughter of Hugh Cowan . Hugh Cowan (1700?-1782) was one of four brothers (John, David, Hugh and William) that sailed from County Down, Ireland to the American Colonies in 1720.

William Cowan, married Susannah Fleming in 1732 . Susannah died about 1755 . William moved to North Carolina. He purchased property in Rowan County, North Carolina in February 1759 . William married Sarah Stewart in December 1759 .

As I read of William and his descendants, I came across William Jones Cowan.

In reading each book, they both refer to William Jones Cowan. However, A Cowan Lineage of 400 Years, lists him as a descendant and refers the reader to The Cowans of County Down for a more information.

William Jones Cowan, the son of Benjamin Cowan (1773-1828) and Jane Locke (1775-1816), was born 25 March 1808 . In 1835, William left North Carolina to visit cousins in Jackson County, Georgia. On 17 November 1835 he signed on with W.A.O. Wadsworth and joined the Columbus Company . From there he sailed to New Orleans. On December 9, 1835, William J. Cowan signed a declaration stating he was bound to Texas to “relieve our oppressed brethren who have emigrated thither…”

William Jones Cowan was a private in Captain Wadsworth’s First Company, Georgia Battalion, First Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He was stationed at Fort Defiance under Col. James W. Fannin, Jr. He participated in The Battle of Coleto Plains . William Jones Cowan is not listed in any surviving documentation indicating he was wounded or killed prior to the surrender of troops by Col. Fannin .

25 March 1835 William Jones Cowan celebrated his 28th birthday as a prisoner of war inside Fort Defiance. Along with his other captives, he was anticipating being taken to port and shipped back to the United States . Unknown to the prisoners, General Santa Anna had ignored the conditions of surrender and ordered all prisoners to be shot as pirates .

William Jones Cowan was murdered along with his fellow soldiers on Palm Sunday, 27 March 1836 . Their bodies are buried under the Goliad Massacre Memorial.