While browsing on, I found this wonderful story by Maxine Elliott Gilliam. jdhardin originally posed this story on the Hardin family tree. (1)  It’s always a happy moment when we find the work of other family researchers. To this post with the story from Mrs. Gilliam, I’ve added pictures of our shared Elliott ancestors. The captions with the pictures are mine, as are any errors in the posting.

With a Google search, the only Maxine Gilliam located had recently passed away. However,  another cousin gave me the correct email address for our Maxine Elliott Gilliam, who is still working on genealogy. This story is used with her permission.

Elliott, James Monroe and Margaret Eoff

James Monroe Elliott and Margaret Eoff met and married in Tennessee, then moved to Izard County, Arkansas. He was 45 years old, when he enlisted with the Confederate Army, leaving Margaret at home with 11-12 children. They  went on to have 15 children. James had at least one child with another woman before he married Margaret. See my earlier blog for details on his war service.

Home Front Solider.  Margaret didn’t have a military uniform.  She wore a faded print dress covered by a stained, faded apron as she performed her duties.  She may or may not have had shoes on her feet and if she had them they were not stylish.  She served at home in the remote, rocky mountains of north central Arkansas while Monroe was away fighting the Civil War.  She was home alone with eleven or twelve children to care for.

Cooking and Washing.  She cooked on a wood stove, did laundry with a rub board and a black wash pot, and ironed with sad irons.  Her fate was no different than thousands of other women of her day.  Their water was carried in buckets from a creek or spring.  She was no doubt several miles from the nearest store which probably was not a major inconvenience since there were little goods to be bought even if she happened to have the cash.  Their food was what they raised and ate fresh and canned, dried and salted down what they could.

Food.  Salt was a very scarce item and that was the only way they had to  preserve fish, wild game, pork and beef.  I can imagine her sending the two oldest boys, the twins William and James, into the woods to kill turkeys, rabbits, deer, quail and other wild game for their food supply.  She must have waited anxiously for their return since they were only 14 years old and there was “fightin’ in them thar hills”.  The girls had to walk through woods to get to the creek for water.  There were many outlaws and bandits raiding homes and taking what they wanted, besides the Union soldiers.   When game or domestic animals were killed, they had to be butchered and preserved which is no small chore.

Clothing.  Their clothing was made at home either with or without a very primitive sewing machine.  They raised the flax and cotton, spun the yarn and wove the fabrics that became their clothing.

Home and Homelife.  The winters were very cold and wet.  Their house, of course, was not insulated and probably had large cracks in the walls.  Their heat was from wood.  The summers were miserably hot and storms occurred very frequently.  Can you imagine her fear and that of the children when they saw strangers approaching?   If they ever went anyplace it was to church or to visit a neighbor and both probably happened infrequently.

Health Care:  There were no doctors available so when she or one of the children were sick or injured Margaret had the responsibility of taking care of them.  Modern medicines of course were not available so she had to depend on old home remedies that had been passed down from generation to generation.  In her day every mother had her “good” needle and a spool of white silk thread so she could sew up the cuts that required stitches.   I wonder how many sleepless nights she had with sick children and then assumed her regular duties with the rising of the sun.

Travel:  All travel was done by horseback or horse and wagon on rough rocky narrow roads winding through the mountains.  During the winter there was snow and ice on those roads on many occasions.

Isolation:  Can you imagine how dark the nights were with no streetlights and so many trees around to cast shadows even when there was moonlight?  How quiet the nights were with no auto traffic, trains, etc. to break the silence.  The sounds of wild animals (some of them frightening) were the only night sounds.  There were bears, mountain lions and wolves to break the dead silence of night.

James Monroe Elliott Jr and sons - Texas, about 1918
James Monroe Elliott Jr (son of James Monroe Elliott and Margaret Eoff)  and his sons – Texas, about 1918


Communication: Communication with the outside world was not a common occurrence.  The mail was very slow and infrequent.  Of course, there were no newspapers thrown in the front yard every morning, no radios, no TVs, no telephones and no e-mail.  News, even where it was heard, had to be evaluated since there are always lots of rumors in war time to frighten people or to help carry out military plans.

Children:  The children had a rough childhood compared to children of our day.  They had a lot to overcome in growing up.  This is bound to have affected their personalities for the rest of their lifetime.

Lucille Elliott - oldest sister
Lucille Elliott – oldest daughter of James Monroe and Margaret Elliott.
Melinda Maddox, Almeda Todd, Margaret Ring - three Elliott sisters. Picture probably taken in Garland, TX at Almeda's home.
Melinda Maddox, Almeda Todd, Margaret Ring – three Elliott sisters. Picture probably taken in Garland, TX at Almeda’s home.








another daughter, said to be Mary Jane Elliott, Thomas Hendrix McIntire's mother
another daughter, said to be Mary Jane Elliott, Thomas Hendrix McIntire’s mother



Heroine:  Margaret will not be written up in any history book as a heroine, but she and thousands of other women of her day deserve our respect, admiration and understanding.  Let us give her honor!

And let’s give honor to Maxine Elliott Gilliam for her genealogy work, much appreciated by the current and future generations of researchers.





Source:, accessed May 4, 2013. Those with an account, follow this link to see the original posting.

copyright © 2013 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho


Dallas County, Texas – October 6, 1904

The thin canvas walls moved back and forth with the light fall breeze. Warm sunlight fell through the open flap door on the threadbare bed. The tent was quiet. Unusually quiet. Deadly quiet.

My chest feels like it will collapse or just explode from the grief and the anger, one minute the grief and the next the anger. My eyes ache from the crying. I’ve cried until I have no tears left.

How could he bring me to here to Dallas County, Texas where we don’t know anybody and expect us and the ten youngest kids to live in a tent over a cold Texas winter with rains that could drown the gophers and with hot, hot summers and not a shade tree on these plains? We’ve been living in this tent over a year now, with little prospect of land of our own. He doesn’t like the rich bottom land, because it floods sometimes. He doesn’t like the land on the rolling prairie hills, because the sod is so thick it’s hard to plow.

He’s the smart one, always writing in his journal, planning and dreaming about the future for us and the little ones. Kind of lording over me a bit because I can’t read or write.

I guess I’m only good enough to wash his clothes and have his children. He’s not the least bit grateful for how hard I work; keeping the family fed with what he brings home when he hires out to work on other farms.

Then he’s the one that takes his gun down into the woods along the creek and blows his head off.

The bastard. Bastard. Bastard. Bastard.

If I was a good Christian, I wouldn’t be calling my dead husband a bastard, but he’s sure left me in a mess. We buried him yesterday. I don’t know how I’ll ever pay to get him a proper headstone. Me and the kids are in an awful mess.

I know people are looking at me sideways, wondering if I drove him to commit that mortal sin, but he just wasn’t made for this life. I loved him for his big dreams and his gentle ways – when we were courting he made me a daisy chain crown, splitting the stem of each daisy and threading the next one on. I thought my heart would burst with love and happiness when he asked me to marry him.

He was a grown man of twenty-two and I was three days from turning fourteen when we married in 1881 in Stone County, Arkansas. Babies came quick with Lewis born the next year, then another baby  every two or three years. Our hearts still ache for the one we lost between Albert and Moody.

But his big dreams just got us uprooted from Arkansas, traveling in a broken wagon he made of green wood. That wagon fell apart before we ever left Arkansas. And now we’re living in a tent with a dirt floor and ten kids.

At least, I’m not pregnant.

The kids are at the neighbors’ house. After the service, when I broke down, Mary Alice walked me back here and very gently put me to bed. She’s a kind lady, but she talks and everyone in the area will know how we live now. She took all the kids and told me she would give me one night of rest, but she would need to bring the kids back after breakfast this morning.

I guess it’s up to me now to be the strong one and figure out how we work ourselves out of this mess.

No more dreaming – me and the oldest boys and girls will hire out to pick cotton and corn. Then, I’ll go talk to Clyde Hubbard about that bottom land. Abner didn’t like the bottom land; but with us all hired out the rest of this fall, then starting our own crops in the spring, maybe we can make it. While me and big kids are hired out, Lizzie, at eleven, is plenty old enough to watch the four little kids, including Bertha, the baby, just 8 months old. I’ll need to wean her; it’s early, but I’ll need to do that for me to be able to pick cotton too. No, we’ll take the little ones to the fields and I can nurse her at dinner time. People will be scandalized, but it will have to be done. The colored women take their nursing babies to the fields, so I’ll just do the same. Lee is six years old and stout; he can pull cotton bolls and pull a little tow sack down the cotton rows. Otherwise, he would drive Lizzie crazy.

I’ll take Albert and Jimmy with me when I go talk with Mr. Hubbard about that land. Albert’s a grown man at 20; Jimmy’s a good-sized boy at 13. Mr. Hubbard always acts just a little too friendly around the women, always trying to catch their eye and smiling and winking. And him a deacon in the church. I wonder how his wife puts up with his flirty ways. Abner always treated me with respect.

I’ll be a proper widow, making sure all the children learn to read and write, just like Abner did, even the left-handed ones. I never was smart enough to get the hang of book learning. I do everything with my left hand and never could get my right hand to make the letters. How I wish Lewis, our oldest, had come with us. He is so patient with the kids, but he stayed behind in Mountain View to marry Susie and start his own family.

We’ll never, ever mention what happened down by the creek. I think that clumsy Abner must have tripped over a tree root; now I remember he told me he’d seen some squirrels in the pecan trees down by the creek. That must have been why he took his rifle down there.

We’ll buy that bottom land, to get away from the whispers. Near that property is a good school for the children and someday I’ll have the money for a proper headstone in a proper cemetery for my dear, dear Abner, where we’ll lay beside each other until the Lord brings us home to heaven together. 

Oh, my, look how the sun has come up and I’m still in bed. Mary Alice will be here in no time with the children. I’ve got to get around. I’m a proper widow now.


Almeda Ellen Elliott Todd
Almeda Ellen Elliott Todd later in life

After a career in laboratory management, one of my goals has always been to write historical fiction with the stories loosely based on my ancestors. Several relatives, including my sister, have researched an extensive family tree. I’m researching the family stories and have just started writing historical fiction, with the first story based on the life of Almeda Ellen Elliott Todd, my maternal great great grandmother. She married at 13 to her husband, Abner who was 22. The family moved to Dallas County, Texas in two wagons, one made of green wood that broke down in Arkansas. They lived in a tent for about a year. She was left handed and never learned to read or write; she had 10 children and her husband died of a gunshot in the woods. He was said to be alone at the time. Abner kept a journal of their trip from Stone County, Arkansas to Dallas County, Texas. Stay tuned to my blog for more “After Toil Comes Rest – Dallas County, Texas.” To get notification of new posts, subscribe to my blog. These writings are copyrighted and not available for commercial use, without the written permission of the author.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

DNA – Maternal Lineage Test Results

A few years ago, I had my maternal line DNA testing done through GeneTree. Then I joined and entered by mtDNA results in their data base. From both data bases, I got dozens of matches from all over the world – mostly from Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland and the United States, basically where people had immigrated from the British Isle. I contacted some of the matches in the United States and was not able to identify any close relatives from those matches.

Maternal DNA is passed from the mother to her off-spring, both male and female. Maternal DNA does not mutate very often, so mtDNA results will be consistent along the maternal line. With a perfect mtDNA match and no more information, we can’t decide if we are first cousins or if we share a common ancestor from 5000 years ago.

The test is basically used to rule out possible relations through the maternal line. So my brother and sisters will all have all the same mtDNA, as will all Edith Holder’s children, as will all Zula McIntire’s children, as will all Almeda Todd’s children, as will all Margaret Elliott’s children and on back, back and back. If I find a person that looks like a paper match in my direct maternal line but with different mtDNA results, we are definitely not related.

U Haplogroup Migration Map

Where it all started. . .

Around 100,000 years ago, a single group of humans began dividing and migrating to form genetically isolated populations throughout the world. Over generations, the new populations’ genes became slightly different from the original group and from each other. The differences appear in the mtDNA sequence and allow scientists to create different haplogroups.

My Results – Haplogroup U5a

I belong to the Travelers, haplogroup U, which emerged around 60,000 years ago, not long after the first modern humans left Africa. Because the Travelers are so old, they’ve had a broad geographic distributions from Europe, North Africa, India and Central Asia as descendants migrated to new areas and formed subgroups. Frequencies of haplogroup U range from 10-30% in these populations.

Nine main subgroups of haplogroup U have been identified. U5 is thought to have lived in southwest Asia. There was a change in climate conditions about 43,000 years ago as the glaciers receded. U5 took part in the first settlement of Europe by modern humans.

Famous U5a Members

In 1903, the skeletal remains of a 9,000 year-old male were found in a cave in Cheddar, England. The “Cheddar Man” was about 23 years old when he died, killed by a blow to the face. Recently scientists were able to extract and analyze his DNA material. They identified the “Cheddar Man” as a U5a. In surveying local people, a match was found with a nearby schoolteacher, Adrian Targett.


  • Genetree mtDNA results report.
  • results report.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.