Thomas Jefferson Neal was born March 29th, 1817 in Ironton, Lawrence County, Ohio. Thomas was one of eleven children born to Walter Neal, Jr. and Deborah Arnot (my 3x Great-Grandparents). The family moved from Lawrence County to Gallia County, Ohio while he was still a child. His mother died when he was twenty-six years old and his father remarried. His step-mother was Elizabeth (Griffith) Lanthorn. His father and stepmother had three more children.

On 26th of January, 1837 (Thomas was twenty years old) he married Belinda Allison, my 2x maternal Great-Grandmother. Belinda was the daughter of John Allison and Rebecca Carter; my 3x maternal Great-Grandparents. Belinda was born in Walnut Township, Gallia County, Ohio.

Thomas and his wife, Belinda had eleven children, five girls and six boys. All but one of their children lived to adulthood. Belinda died in 1896 and Thomas married a widow named Jemimma (Erwin) Hamilton. Jemimma died in 1908.

The celebration of the 100th birthday for Thomas Neal was a very large affair. I have a picture taken by the Newspaper of people attending and it is a treasure trove of relatives pictured there.

He was interviewed by a reporter and was asked what advice he would give boys: “The first advice I would give a boy is to join church and live right. Next, live sober and don’t use liquor or tobacco in any form…I never drank liquor in my life and I have always voted dry. I expect to live yet to see the country dry”.

 Thomas Neal died just days before his 101st birthday;



Mary Elizabeth Gatwood was the daughter of William Gatwood and Elizabeth McCracken, who were my 3x Great-Grandparents.  Mary was the fifth child born into the family. There was a total of thirteen children, seven girls and six boys; two of the girls died as infants. She was born March 10, 1815. She spent her early childhood in Wellsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).

On February 5, 1835, Mary Gatwood married Aaron Aten. Aaron was born in 1808. His parents were William Aten and Jane Anderson. Aaron came from a large family. He was both a farmer and teacher.

In 1838 they lived in Washington county, Ohio. This was the summer that Aaron and other members of his family traveled west to Illinois, looking for a better life. In a letter that he sent back to Mary, he tells her that things are not great, but he feels that the quality of land for farming was very good. There was an abundance of land available and the soil was rich for planting. Crops were selling for a good price.  He had not gotten a job as a teacher while there, but he was sure there would be positions as a teacher available in the future. The letter made me think that he must have been very lonely without his family. His brothers were scattered to different areas and there was no easy method of communication for them to know whether they had gone back to Ohio or met with some terrible illness or accident. He tells Mary that he has not heard anything from them or about them and wonders what she could tell him about his brothers. Of course, he also wanted to have word about her and the children. Everything seemed to work out and the Aten’s would relocate to Illinois.

When Aaron and Mary left Ohio in 1840 they had two small children. After their move to Illinois they added eight more children to the family, including one set of twins. Aaron would teach and farm for the rest of his days. He died in 1889. Mary would live until 1907. When she died at ninety-two years old, she had outlived her husband and all but one of her ten children.


The Stedham family can be traced back to my 9x Great Grandparents in Gothenburg, Vastra Gotalands, Sweden. My 8x Great Grandfather is said to be the first man with the name Stedham (Stidham) in America. He immigrated from Sweden in the 17th century to New Sweden now known as Wilmington, Delaware. All of Delaware and the southern part of Pennsylvania and the southern part of New Jersey were known as New Sweden in that time period. Many of the Stedham’s (Stidham) can be found in the Old Swedes Churchyard in Delaware.

The story I want to tell is about my 4x Great-Grandmother, Lydia Stedham.  Her parents were John Stedham and Mary Merryman (my 5x Great-Grandparents). Lydia came from a wealthy family who did not approve of her marriage to William McCracken.  Her father disowned her. She would not inherit anything from her family.

William McCracken was an immigrant from Ireland who owned a ferry at Wilmington, Delaware. The couple married in spite of family disapproval around 1790. The couple left the area and I believe they never returned. They first went to Cumberland, Maryland and soon moved on to Brooke County, Virginia, now West Virginia. They were in this area by 1800. It appears that William died about this time, leaving three children to be raised by Lydia, alone.

In a Colonial Genealogist publication, I found two legal suits that Lydia filed:  July 1801 Lydia McCracken charged William Girton with trespass and assult and battery.  It was claimed Girton used dogs to chase, hunt, and cripple two sows and five shoats ( Shoats are young piglets, just weened).  Damage was estimated at $50.00. A jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $7.00 damages.

Brooke County May Term, 1810: Lydia McCracken brought suit against Richard Talbot charging destruction of fences and wheat. Damage to the value of $100.00. The defendant, Talbot, paid $8.00 and costs.

 Lydia Stedham McCracken seems to be a strong woman. I admire her grit! I would imagine that she was fodder for gossip in her corner of the world. I do not picture her as a wallflower or ordinary in any way. She knew how to take care of herself and survive. My guess is she walked away from her birth family proud and never looked back.



John  Gatwood was in Virginia January 13, 1663 when he witnessed a deed gift of 219 acres made by Thomas and Jane Button of Farnham Parish, Rappahannock County, to Charles Goodrich. This may be the first record of our name in the Colonies. It was the first I found.   One year later, January 4, 1664, he witnessed the signature of Jane Button who relinquished dower rights to Thomas Corbyn. Because of these transactions, we know that John had some kind of education and could read and write. We also know he had to be of age by the date of these transactions.

June 2, 1666, Colonel John Catlett brought into Rappahannock County, Virginia, ten individuals as immigrants. John Gatwood was one of these men. Again on July 1, 1666, he was one of seventy-three immigrants brought into Virginia by Mr. Thomas Button. It is my belief this was his final trip and when he began his new life in the new world. It is unclear whether these people were indentured. In the case of my ancestor John, I know that when he died, he was the owner of many acres of land which he left to his heirs. I am proud of his accomplishments, no matter where he came from or who his ancestors were.

John was married to Amy (Aimee) Magrah ca.1680. There are nine children listed in John’s will. John and Amy owned approximately four hundred acres of land by 1704.  They were living along the Rappahannock River in Virginia. This is where they were when the Susquehanna Indian Nation made their attack. I think this was a small group of Indians, many had left the area and many had died in prior wars. It is believed that the Gatwood’s knew the Indians quite well. The reason for this belief is because the Indians best friend and interpreter lived adjacent to the Gatwood family.

John had a will made November 14, 1706 and probated January 10, 1707 in Essex County, Virginia. It states that he was a planter and he leaves large acreage to several sons. All his children are listed by name.

Amy married a second time to Joseph Baker. Joseph Baker was a wealthy merchant and when he died, he left most of his wealth to Amy and her Gatwood children.

I believe that Amy Magrah was born in Virginia. It is possible her father was Thomas McGraw/Macgrah, a planter in Essex County, Virginia. When Thomas died he left a will on November 21, 1722. In his will he leaves everything to John Gatwood and his son Phillip as well as James Gatwood. John and James are the sons of John Gatwood and Amy Magrah and Phillip is a grandson. In the will, he refers to James as a “friend”. Amy and her son in law, David Scott witnessed this will. All this seems to indicate that they were family. If this is true, Thomas McGraw/Macgrah would prove a tenth generation!


Charlotte Renouf was born in 1849 and was the child of Charlotte Gatwood and Nicholas Renouf. The family relocated to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania around 1850. Charlotte Renouf married Luther Dickey and together they had six children.

I have a nugget or two to share in regard to this group. I found a newspaper story of interest:

1889-Chicago, Illinois

POISON IN THE FRUIT-Entire Family Poisoned by Raspberries

Chicago, June 21-The entire family of Luther S. Dickey, consisting of wife and six children, living on Warren Avenue, was poisoned yesterday from eating raspberries. Alice, aged nine, died this morning. The others are in serious condition. The berries were bought from street venders. Mr. Dickey, who was absent from the city at the time, was telegraphed for, and arrived home today to find his friends and family plunged in grief.


The mother, Charlotte Renoulf Dickey is my 1st cousin 3x removed. Charlotte’s husband was Luther Samuel Dickey. Everyone recovered from the poison except the nine-year old who died. It was also determined that the poison was not from the raspberries, but from butter that was tainted.

By finding this story, I was lead to more information on this family group. Newspapers are a great source of information. There are many online and in libraries. I have gotten many of my family obituaries thru interlibrary loans. Finding obituaries nearly always leads to more information!

Luther was only fifteen years old when he joined the Army and served in the Civil War for Pennsylvania. He served from September 1861 to June 1865. He was a full Corporal when he was mustered out of the service. He married Charlotte and they had six children. I have read that his wife worked very hard to “make ends meet” while Luther did little. However, I was able to find two books that Luther wrote and are still available. The books are considered to be quite good on their subject matter (History of 103rd Pennsylvania Regiment and History of 85th Pennsylvania Regiment). Luther Dickey was listed as an author at the time of his death.



My paternal Grandma, Mary Alice Delong was the fifth child born to James Thomas Delong and Martha Alice Duddleson. She entered this world on November 17, 1898. Since she was several years younger and the only girl in the family, I would assume she was a bit spoiled. The family had another girl who died just a few months before Mary was born. Mary was not a tall woman. She had lots of black, curly hair. In the 1900 census, Mary was 2 years old with her family in Bloom Township, Fairfield County Ohio. Her father was a farmer and owned his land. I don’t believe these were rich people, but they appeared to be living a comfortable life and had everything they needed. I have located a newspaper account of a paternity suit filed by Mary when she was eighteen years old. The defendant was William Aumock, Jr. He was only sixteen years old at the time. I have yet to see any further stories or documents on this subject. Nor have I found a marriage between Mary and William. I do know that the child was named Lawrence Aumock. This child was my Dad’s half-brother. When Mary and Lawrence joined the Alfred Gatwood family; Grandpa had a twelve-year old son, Tarlton. Together they soon had another boy, my Dad, James Alfred Gatwood. There were two girls born as well; Martha Belle and Alice Marie. Martha Belle died before she was two years old. Mary took her son Lawrence and her daughter Alice with her when she left her husband, son and stepson. They were divorced before the 1930 census. In that census Mary is living in Columbus, Ohio. I don’t think she ever lived on a farm again. Maybe she did not like that life. It was very hard. Even in modern times you have to work seven days a week and vacations are almost nonexistent. Mary was married for a second time to Harry Knighton. I am told that his nickname was Boots. Working on this part of my family, I found his tombstone and there it was; “Boots” at the top of the stone. At the time of her mother’s death in 1937, her name was still Knighton. I found the newspaper obituary for Martha Duddleson (Mary’s mother) that is how I knew she was still a Knighton at that time. I know the marriage ended in divorce, just not the exact date. Her third marriage was to someone with the last name Moody. I don’t remember a Grandpa with that name, but I remember this was her name until her fourth marriage to Howard Smith. She was still married to Mr. Smith at the time of her death. Unfortunately, I only have the marriage record to Alfred Gatwood and Harry Knighton as well as a few pictures. Genealogy is always a work in progress. You just keep digging to add bits of information to your work. It was not often, but I always loved to go to Grandma’s house. I got to take bubble baths and she had fancy stuff and pretty bottles of perfume. She gave us melba toast to eat with coffee that had lots of sugar and milk in it. She was a special Grandmother and the only “City Grandma” I had. She was always dressed nicely. She was active in Machinist Union District 52 AFL, past Finder Lodge 1651, retiree club of District 52, Women’s Auxiliary of Machinist 361 and a member of the board of YMCA. She was well known as a Union advocate. She had several strokes until the final one that took her life. She died on April 21, 1971 in Columbus Ohio and was buried in Green lawn cemetery.