Serendipity on the Research Trail

One of my primary goals on a recent genealogy research trip to Oklahoma and Texas was to find a book with the genealogy research of Norma Ennis Musgrove Craig, a first cousin 2X removed. Norma’s book summarizes her 40+ years of  genealogy research on our Musgrove/Musgrave family. I learned of the  book, which contained childhood pictures of my grandfather, through a Google search and ordered the microfilm through the Family History Center. 1 I was able to make copies of each page, but the microfilm pictures weren’t very clear. I wanted better copies of the pictures.

As part of preplanning for the trip, I had contacted everyone on who seemed to have good sources for Norma or her sister Beulah, who wrote many of the charming family stories in the book. Beulah had passed away in 2003 and Norma in 2008. Only one person responded. Evidently when Beulah died, another family member got the house and the contents, including the genealogy research and the book. No one had seen any of materials since then.

I planned stops in Holdenville, Ada and the Oklahoma History Center, since Norma and Beulah had connections in each of those places. I researched each of those sites ahead of time to find the hours of operation, days open and any other pertinent information.

The Hughes County Historical Society in Holdenville was listed on-line, but with a disconnected phone number, no other contact information nor hours of operation.2 Since I had no idea what hours the HCHS would be open and since it  was the direction I was traveling, that was my first stop.  After a two and one half hour drive from Tulsa, I was standing in front of the closed doors of the dark HCHS building. My heart sank as I scanned the doors and windows finding no contact information nor hours of operation. As I turned to my car to rethink my next step, a man in a pickup truck stopped at the light called out “Are you trying to get in the museum?” When I answered yes, he continued with “Go to the business two doors down. They’ll have the phone number to reach someone.”

Two doors down, they did give me the name and seven digit phone number of the HCHS coordinator. Back in my car, I dialed the number using what I thought was the most likely area code. No luck, I reached someone in western OK. Next, I tried the other OK area code. Number out of service. Rats! Back to the business two doors down. They reminded me of the third OK area code, which I had forgotten in my sixteen years out of the state, and probably didn’t even need to use any way to reach the number.

Then the woman asked what I was looking for. I told my story about the book, the sister from Holdenville, etc., etc. She stopped me asking “What was the sister’s name?” When I gave her Beulah’s name, she just looked at me and said “You should just talk to her son. He owns the business across the street.”

Across the street, Beulah’s son was busy with customers, but his daughter, who did not typically work with her father, was filling in for the day.  After some discussion about the family, probably to confirm who I really was, the daughter told me the same story about a family member getting Beulah’s house and no one having access to that research any more. Then she told me, Norma’s daughter had all of Norma’s records. She gave me Norma’s daughter’s name and address.3

After a conversation establishing who I was, a meeting with Norma’s daughter was set up for the next Saturday morning. The records had been stored since Norma’s death, with no one else in the family interested in them. Norma had some strokes before her death, but still tried to work with her research, getting it mixed up. It would take a few days for the daughter to get the records organized enough for us to review.

On Saturday morning, I was given an original copy of Norma’s book, with the original picture of my grandfather and his two siblings along with much of Norma’s original research on my family line, including pictures, marriage licenses, wills, etc. In addition, I was able to conduct about two hours of interviews of Norma’s daughter, who remembered my 2nd great grandmother, Myzella Medcalf Musgrove. I was able to take pictures of a quilt made by Myzella.  The quilt was registered with the Oklahoma Historical Society, as being over 100 years old.4

One of the stories during the interview was how Norma got some grief from family members with some of her research results. Norma’s grandfather, William Tate Musgrove, my 2nd great grandfather, had evidently told the family he was Irish and had come to America on a ship.Norma’s research showed a paper trail where William Tate, a Civil War veteran who fought with the 42nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers was not only born in the United States, but his family had been here since 1747. Norma and Beulah both became DAR members through Samuel Musgrave, William Tate’s great grandfather. I was able to share that my father’s y-DNA test linked him to other descendants of Oswin Musgrave who arrived in Pennsylvania about 1682, confirming Norma’s paper trail.6 By the way, in Norma’s book, she included William Tate’s nickname of Flannel Mouth, earned with the tall tales he was known for telling.7

All the information collected on these two trips will certainly keep me busy until my next genealogy field trip.

1. Craig, Norma Ennis Musgrove and Beulah Musgrove Berryman. Musgrave–Musgrove, 1747-1986, [Self published. Place of publication not indicated.], 1987. Microfilm of typescript (photocopy, 157, [8] leaves) at the Rockport Public Library, Rockport, Indiana. Family History Library, film 1502916 item 9;  ( 12 Aug 2013.)

2. Hughes County Historical Society, Currently open 9:30-1:00 on Saturdays, as of July 2013.

3. Names and identifying information of living persons have not been used to protect their privacy. If you have a specific need to know, please contact me at

4. As of 12 Aug 2013, the Oklahoma History Center website shows a couple of examples of old quilts, but doesn’t list pictures of all the quilts submitted. I’ll post my pictures in a later blog.

5. While the 1880 census shows the father of William Tate Musgrove born in New Jersey and his mother born in Pennsylvania, the 1900 and 1910 schedules indicate his parents were born in Ireland.

1880 U. S. Census, Justice Precinct 3, Collin County, Texas, population schedule (1st enumeration),  enumeration district (ED) 22, p. 32 (penned), line 25, dwelling 211, family 225, W. T. Musgrave; digital image, ( accessed 12 Aug 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll 1296, enumeration district (ED) 022, p. 135D; imaged from FHL microfilm 1255296.

1900 U. S. Census, Bates Township, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, population schedule  (1st enumeration),  enumeration district (ED) 192, p. 9A (penned), line 15, dwelling 186, family 186, William Musgrove; digital image, ( accessed 12 Aug 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll 1342, enumeration district (ED) 0192, p 9A; imaged  from FHL microfilm 1241342.

1910 U. S. Census, Pottawatomie Township, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma,  enumeration district 230, p. 6A (penned), line 3, dwelling 98, family 99, William T. Musgrave; digital image, ( accessed 12 Aug 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm roll T624_1265, enumeration district (ED) 0230, page 6A; imaged from FHL microfilm 1375278.

6.  Musgrave, Duane and Marie Wilson Musgrave, A History of the Moses Musgrave Family, Quakers, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, and Further West, Evansville Bindery Inc, Evansville, Indiana, 1998.

7.  Craig and Berryman, Musgrave-Musgrove, 1747-1986, p. 43.

 Copyright © 2013 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

About Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Genealogy research on my own ancestors is a new focus. Posts will include information about those ancestors including the social and economic issues, along with techniques for research.
This entry was posted in Musgrave, Musgrove and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Serendipity on the Research Trail

  1. Debbie Davis says:

    Persistence and patience pays off, congratulations!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.