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Who is Earl Bynum?

One thing I’ve become acclimated to since I began this hobby is finding new and interesting things about my family; most of which I would have never known except through this research.  Usually these unexpected surprises happen 3 or 4 generations ago in the haze and grayness of the early 20th or late 19th centuries.

Recently, however, I’ve uncovered a “mystery” much closer:

"Uncle" Earl Bynum

Earl Bynum was the brother of M. J. Bynum, my Grandfather.  He passed away when I was a young child.  Lived in Lake City (which likely means that Dada was his father) and moved to St. Petersburg, FL with the rest of my father’s family.  Here’s the mystery….I knew just about everyone mentioned in his obituary….but I have NEVER heard of him.  Not a word or whisper of his name from my father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  Just about everyone on that side of my lineage is now departed, so I can’t depend on answers from the family.  My mother never heard of this man during their marriage; despite being very close to M.J. and his brothers and sisters.

To add to this mystery a little, no trace of Earl so far in any household records I have sourced or found on ancestry.com (although I admit, time has prevented me from making this an exhaustive search).  Still digging….

UPDATE: My post got me thinking a bit and I checked the site for the cemetery where my family’s plot is located and sure enough….Earl Bynum rests there.

Uncle Richard

In an earlier post, I talked about my 2nd Great Grandfather and his “complicated” family.  In that post, I also spoke of his wife Ethel leaving home…

So, with one child in hand and one on the way, Ethel took off down the dusty road leading away from the family farm…. and Dada stood and watched from the porch as his wife and two of his children disappeared in the horizon.

One of those children was my great-uncle, Richard Bynum.  Richard was born in 1918 and was the youngest of five (for years, we thought it was four siblings, but learned of a fifth through my research this year!  THAT is a story for another time).   Richard’s childhood after he headed down that dusty road was a difficult one.  I didn’t know him until much later in his life, but I’ll always remember how he would adamantly talk about the reasons he chose to have no children.  Basically, he felt his own childhood was so bad, he’d never wish that hardship on someone else.

Richard enlisted in the army and served in World War II.   He served over seas from 1941-45 and retired at the rank of sergeant.  After his service, he settled back down in St. Petersburg, FL.  Despite the frustrations about his youth, I remember Uncle Richard being a bit of a comedian.  The more I think about it, I think I actually got a bit of my sense of humor from him.  For that, I’m eternally grateful.

He passed away in 1991 at the age of 72 and is buried with veteran honors at Florida National Cemetery.

Wordless Wednesdays

My uncle Sam and his bride Joyce on their wedding day (1960)

My uncle Sam and his bride Joyce on their wedding day (1960)

This is a story that must be told….at a later time……

My Other Grandmother

I’ve been fortunate to have had many wonderful elders in my life.  My grandmother (maternal) is still alive and fiesty as ever nearing her 90th birthday.  My paternal grandmother passed away long before I was born.  If fact, she passed when my father was a child.  As a result, I really know very little about her.  What I do know is shrouded in grayness and leads to many high and wide brick walls in my research.  Here’s the little I do know:

Bernice Lewis was born in Columbia County, FL in 1918 to Samuel Lewis and the former Edna Clark.  Photos I have of her show she was a beautiful woman.

G-mother Bernice (Lewis) Bynum circa 1946

G-mother Bernice (Lewis) Bynum circa 1946

She married my grandfather (M.J.) against the wishes of her mother, Mama Edna.  Nonetheless between 1939 and 1946, she had three sons and a daughter.  She also had one son, Samuel, from a previous relationship.

In 1947, she died of cancer at the early age of 29.  Mama Edna always blamed my grandfather for her passing, arguing that he simply did not support her taking care of herself.   Fair or unfair, this colored familial relations for many years to come.

MJ, Bernice and kids

MJ, Bernice and kids

I’m determined to find out as much as I can about Bernice.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many left that can provide more clues to her background and the circumstances of her life now.  I’ve succeeded so far in re-creating her pedigree from census records and other vital record sources.  This has given me a framework, but little “meat.”   As always, much more to come…

Wordless Wednesdays

Grandfather MJ Bynum (center) and his golf buddies

Grandfather MJ Bynum (center) and his golf buddies

Surnames of Interest

Below is a listing of surnames I’m very interested in for my research as well as the timeframes and US states for each.  If any of these can be cross-referenced with your research, please don’t hestitate to reach out.  Thanks!

Name Soundex Qty Date Range State
BATEY B300 15 1848 – 1912 TN
BRADFORD B631 13 1876 – 1929 TN
BROWN B650 89 1829 – 1989 TN
BYNUM B550 85 1818 – 2007 FL, SC
COLEMAN C455 21 1815 – 1949 TN
CRUTCHER C632 8 1902 TN
GRAHAM G650 12 1805 – 1898 FL
KIMBRO K516 8 1845 – 1884 TN, TX
MURFREE M616 5 1833 – 1878 TN
NATTIEL N340 10 1927 – 1952 FL
POSEY P200 9 1883 – 1909 TN
ROSS R200 15 1825 – 1909 TN
SMITH S530 20 1851 – 1909 TN

Joseph Ceasar Bynum

The eldest Bynum I’ve been able to find so far is Joseph Ceasar Bynum Sr. Joseph was born in 1830 somewhere in South Carolina. Probably born as a slave, Joseph’s first documented record is in 1870. Joseph is married to Phyllis (maiden name unknown) and has two male children; Ceasar and Smart. Joseph is a farm laborer who can neither read nor write. The family is in Columbia County, FL. Joseph lived to at least 65 and eventually owned farm land in Columbia County.

US Federal Census Bureau, 1870 Census – Lake City, Columbia County, Florida, USA,Rec. Date: 25 June 1870, Farm Lot 306. Cit. Date: 16 Feb 2006 page 1 (lines 39-40), 2 (lines 1-2)

US Federal Census Bureau, 1880 Census – Lake City, Columbia County, Florida, USA,Rec. Date: June 1880, Cit. Date: 21 Feb 2006  (lines 4-8)

US Federal Census Bureau, 1900 Census – Lake City, Columbia County, Florida, USA, Rec. Date: 1 June 1900, Cit. Date: 16 Feb 2006  (lines 4-8)

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