BULDING THE “BLACKSHEAR FAMILY HISTORY” FILE
The “Blackshear Family History” file is a 610 page family history document created by Leon and Bob Blackshear documenting Blackshears, Blackshires, Blackshers, Blacksheres, and Blackshears.
Jesse Thomas Blackshear was born in Oklahoma in 1890.About five or six yearsafter birth and the death of his mother, his father began a journey in a wagon train back to Arkansas.Unfortunately, his father died unexpectedly during the trip.Jesse, his older brother Sam, and his younger sister were divided up and given to different families to which they were related.Jesse was taken to his aunt, Frances Blackshear, who lived in Lawrence County, Arkansas and had married one Wilson Carr.He grew up with this family, worked at a sawmill in the woods at the early age of thirteen.He married Jessie Bush, daughter of William Lafayette Bush and Mary Noblin in 1908. Jesse and Jessie had four children. (1) Ervin b. 1910, (2) Alvinb. 1911, (3) Everett b. 1913, and (4) Edith b. 1914.After the death of Jessie Bush in 1915, Jesse Married Matra Westerfield and had fourteen more children.They were (5) Allie b. Dec 1917, (6) Joshie Lois, b. 1919 (7) Ruby Neil b. 19 Jun 1920, (8) Mabel b. 1922(9) Jennie b. 1923(10) Virginia Maizebell b. 1924, (11) Lehman b. 1926 (12) Jesse T. Jr b 1927 (13) Pearlie b. Dec 1928 (14)Margie b. Jun 1930, (15) Delta b. Nov 1931, (16) Leon b. 03 May 1933, (17) Bob b. 28 Aug 1934, and (18) Joyce b. 02 Jun 1936.
Matra (Westerfield) Blackshear died in 1975 and all of her Bibles were designated to be given to Leon or Bob.Leon insisted Bob take the Bibles.And thus begins our trip into Blackshear Family History.
Alice (Blackshear) England , Bob and Leon’s niece, wrote to Bob in 1987 looking for family history information.At first, he made up a “family tree” line drawing on a large cardboard poster.
Later, Leon began to thinking about extending the family research.He and Bob began collecting in-depth information, reviewing a tape Bob had made in an interview with Matra Blackshear in 1965, and seriously visiting the Jonesboro, Arkansas genealogy library, and reviewing U. S. Census data.This extended the base somewhat.Bob then found a copy of Perry Lynnfield Blackshear’s Blacksheariana in the Macon, Georgia Library.After assuring the copyright had expired, he Xeroxed the entire book at ten cents per page and took them home and typed them into his old Atari computer with a word processor. The total memory capacity was only 1 MB so the files had to be saved to floppy disks (1 MB capacity). It took four plus months to type in all the data and proof read it about three times.
By 1988-1989 Bob had printed out the data then present on 8”x10” paper, arranged them in a white 3” notebook, and made a copy for Leon.Later, Leon made a copy for Lehman Blackshear, their brother, and another for Jarrell Oliver, son of Edith (Blackshear) Oliver, who placed his copy in a library in Flint, Michigan. There was some reproductiondone at a local printing shop in Warner Robins, Ga at a cost of five cents a page.Copying some pictures and saving to floppy disk cost $5.00 per picture and were in BMP format. (we didn’t have a scanner in our home at the time). These white notebooks had a unique format and unlike Blacksheariana.
Between 1988 and 1990 a strange twist occurred.A lady named Glenda (Blackshear) Wheeler, daughter of Merle Blackshear, of Port Sulphur, Louisiana was looking for her ancestors.She wrote a letter to Langford’s Funeral Home in Jonesboro, Arkansas asking if they had ever been involved with the Blackshear families. The owners recognized the name as being related to one of their employees, Doug Davis. They gave the letter to him and he took it home and gave it to Mabel (Blackshear) Whitsell, Bob and Leon’s sister.Knowing that Bob had their mothers Bibles, she forwarded the letter to him to reply and thus began a twenty plus year relationship with Glenda continuing to comment and provide data.Bob wrote Glenda and provided what information he had on the family (at the time it could not be traced beyond Bob and Leon’s grandfather, Edward Pinkney Blackshear).Glenda replied to Bob’s letter and explained she had a lot of Blackshear data but so far had not found anyone directly related to her.Bob mentioned his and Leon’s grandfather was named Edward Pinkney Blackshear. Glenda replied shortly (everything was by paper and pencil …. No computers back then). She said she had a record of one E. P. Blackshear in Missouri.Within a short time they were able to confirm “E.P.” was Edward Pinkney Blackshear and the lineage went back to his father, Elijah MacDonald Blackshear, who was cited in Blacksheariana as born in 1829. It turned out Elijah MacDonald Blackshear was the brother of Joel Blackshear who was born in Tennessee and was Glenda’s ancestor.This linked the two family lines.
In 1990, Leon Blackshear was running notices of Blackshear Family Reunions in the Jonesboro, Arkansas newspaper.In Oct 1990, the eighteenth Blackshear Reunion was held at Minturn, Arkansas.A lady named Mary Beth Olds came to the reunion to find out more about these Blackshears (she was descended from James Carrol Blackshear, brother of Joel Blackshear (Glenda’s ancestor) and Elijah MacDonald Blackshear (Leon and Bob’s great grandfather).Mary had learned of a lady named Shirley (Blackshear) Dickinson who lived in Marmaduke Arkansas and had letters from Elijah MacDonald Blackshear to his brother, Alexander Blackshear, stored in a family trunk.Mary Beth had copies and shared them with Leon (and they are contained in Leon and Bob’s computer file “Remarks Diary of Bob and Leon Blackshear” on their DVD.)
About 1990 – 1991, Bob had his Atari Computer and was on an Atari web site. He made contact with a lady who was of Blackshear descent, Mrs Jean Barkman.Bob mentioned to her that he had a copy of Blacksheariana on floppy disk. Since additional data had been added Bob then called the file Blacksheariana92.Mrs. Barkman later mentioned this on the Genie web site and a man named Joe Melton in Colorado Springs, Colarado came back to her and asked for Bob’s name and address. Jean would not give it to him until she checked with Bob who authorized her to pass it on.Within a month or so Joe wrote Bob a letter asking for a copy of the file.This was passed to Joe who entered his own family’s data and sent printed copies back to Bob, asking for help in proofreading.Thus began the early construction of the first Blackshear Family History.
Joe Melton took the position about 1992-1993 that he wanted to re-print Blacksheariana in book form and wrote the family of Perry Lynnfield Blackshear and asked permission to do so and was given permission.Joe solicited inputs over the internet and received several reponses for information. Unfortunately, Joe had not reprinted the work as of Dec 2010. As Leon and Bob printed their work and made new 3” notebooks, they donated one notebook to the Jonesboro, Arkansas and another to the Macon, Georgia library (who sent their copy out to have a hard back put on it.)
By 1990 Leon and Bob visited two cemeteries inPocahontas, Arkansas and obtained data on the mother/father of Nettie Catherine Melton who was the grandparents of Jesse Thomas Blackshear (Bob got into “ticks” and had tick fever within 30 days and almost died). Leon and Bob, in Leon’s car, also visited Brockett cemetery in Pocahontas, Ark to view the graves of Elijah MacDonald Blackshear Jr.
By the early 1990’s Bob had gotten his first IBM computer and a scanner.He scanned all of the pictures of Blacksheariana and inserted them into the file and saved this on his new computer.
On 01 May 1994 Bob was contacted by one Brian Berry of Houston, Texas. He related his family data to the Blackshears and tolda story of Smiths, Berrys’s and Blackshear families which Glenda Blackshear Wheeler also had. He also related his knowledge of a lady in the Dallas, Texas area who was looking for Blackshear data. He didn’t want to provide Bob’s address without permission, which was given. By Jun 1994 Bob had been contacted by one Grace Fisher who was of Blackshear descent and lived in Dallas, Texas.Bob was able to meet with Mrs. Fisher and her husband in his motel room in Dallas as he made a trip for the government in his job in the U.S. Federal Civil Service. Mrs. Fisher discussed the family line and presented her family data which was incorporated into the master file.
Very Shortly after this Bob contacted the Dallas, Texas Library and asked if they would receive and display these records if submitted to them.They replied that they would and if he made a $10.00 donation, they would send the pages out to have a hard binder put on it.Bob made the donation, sent the pages and they bound the book.Subsequently, Bob had an e-mail from a person who stated he had found the book in the Library and was surprised to find an entry on himself.Also Bob and Leon integrated their own family data with pictures into the file.This was only part of the research by Leon and Bob as they constructed the first edition of Blackshear Family History.A copy of this “Blackshear Family History” is on file in the Dallas Library and another on file in the Macon, Georgia Genealogy Library as of May 2011.The existence of these books were documented on the internet as of May 2011. The copy given to the Macon, Georgia library resides on a shelf next to a copy of Perry Lynnfield Blackshear’s Blacksheariana as of Feb 2012.
In this same time frame one Audie White Blackshear, wife of Charlie Millard Blackshear, of Arlington, Texas made contact with Bob and provided a 3” notebook binder on the Texas Blackshears (Bob actually met Audie at his motel in Dallas Texas when he was on a trip for the government and they talked about Blackshear’s).Her son Robert brought her to the motel. Audie’s contribution to building the Blackshear Family History file cannot be overstated.Countless Texas individuals with pictures were presented. Bob still has this 3” notebook of files from Audie in his own library as of 2012.Audie not only had this data but continued to work as a “historian” at the Blackshear Family reunions in theParis-Dallas-Ft Worth Texas area and gathered more data and pictures each year.Anyway, this was a significantpart of Leon’s and Bob’s activity in those days, of visiting cemeteries, documenting much written correspondence, using most of Leon’s gasoline driving.
Leon and Bob continued research and drove to the home of one Frances Rutledge (a Blackshear descendant) in Pontotoc, Mississippi.She had and gave to Leon and Bob, a copy of the family Bible of of Elijah Blackshear (b. 1800).This Elijah Blackshear had a daughter named Hannah Permelia, who married a Keaton and was the ancestor of this Frances Rutledge.
About 1993-1994 Bob was going back home to Arkansas.When he got to Leon’s house in Jonesboro Leon told him he had found a reference to “Blacksher’s” (notice the spelling) in a “Lilly Ridge Cemetery” article in the Jonesboro, Arkansas Library.He had then called the telephone operator there and gotten a lady’s name.He had already called another lady with the name Blacksher but the lady told him she had only married into the family but there was another lady nearby whose maiden name was “Blacksher” and that she had extensive information on the Blackshear/Blacksher families.Leon promted Bob to call the other lady and Bob did.The lady’s name was Earlene (Blacksher) Hicks.She was indeed wrapped up in family History.She owned and lived on a farm near Gainsville, Mo and had a copy of Perry Lynfield Blackshear’s original 1954 publication of Blacksheariana.Earlene had been given a plaque from the state of Missouri for living on a farm that had been in the family for over 100 years.Earlene was thrilled to hear from Bob and Leon and invited them to come to see her at her home.On the next trip home by Bob, Leon, Bob, and Kenny Blackshear (Leon’s son) drove from Jonesboro to Gainsville, Mo for the visit. It was a wonderful day and she showed them pictures of her father (Albert Jasper), her grandfather (Newton Monroe) and her great grandfather (Newton Jasper).Earlene had a pair of glasses that had been worn by Isabella Dobson, wife of Ezekiel Blackshear and She later gave the glasses to Leon for safekeeping). She had a handkerchief and songbook owned by Ezekiel Blacksher (born Jones County N.C. 1792. (Earlene also later gave these items to Leon for safekeeping. Earlene died in 2005.
During the 1995 time frame, Leon and Bob drove to Obion, Tennessee to view courthouse records and find references on Elijah MacDonald, James Carrol, or Joel Blackshear.Some references were found and added to the Blackshear Family History file.
Somewhere around this time Leon was doing Research in the Paragould, Arkansas library.He found a reference to Edward Pinkney Blackshear’s first marriage which later prompted him and Bob and Bob’s son Daniel, to drive to Popular Bluff, Mo to find this documentation.While in the Paragrould Library he ran into a couple of men. One of these was trying to find information on his family (Blackshear).The man’s name was Jack Ligon Blackshear, son of Arvil Hurt Blackshear.Jack’s companion saw Leon’s 3” notebook labeled with the Blackshear name. He asked for permission to look at it and Leon said yes.After thumbing through it he remarked to Jack “You don’t have to look any further, this man has everything you need”.Jack looked at the notebook and asked Leon to borrow it so he could make a copy.Leon left the book with Jack on loan and it was later returned.Of course Leon asked Jack to come to the next Blackshear Family Reunion at Hoxie, Arkansas.Jack came and brought his wife, Hildegarde.Jack and Hildegarde began a lasting friendshipwith Leon and Bob and their families.Hildegarde died in the 2008-2009 time frame and Jack died in 2010. Jack and Hildegarde were most distinguished, pleasant and kind people.
Words cannot express the hundreds of hours Leon spent in Libraries researching data for the Blackshear Family History file.He found much data. In almost all cases he would call Bob in Georgia and tell him what he found.These calls were the heart of the “Remarks Diary of Leon and Bob Blackshear” file which is found on all our DVD’s. On the trips taken by Leon and Bob in research, in all cases it was Leon’s car and gasoline that was used.He has been dedicated and focused on this project for twenty five years. He has been the single most important person to the project..
In the 1997 time frame, Bob Blackshear was in a training class at Robins AFB, Ga.Each member of the class had a cardboard on their table identifying themselves by name. At the first break, an individual came up to Bob and remarked “I see that your name is Blackshear.My grandmother’s name was Mary Olivia Blackshear”This individual’s name was Edward Blackshear Brown.Over the next several days, Edward Brown gave his personal Blackshear History to Bob.He also had two books that he owned which gave extensive history on Blackshear’s in Georgia, including the road from Macon, Georgia through Cochran, Georgia down past Cordele, Ga down to the Flint River where Fort Early had been built by General David Blackshear of the Georgia, Militia. The road was originally named “The Blackshear Trail”.Edward Brown loaned the books to Bob who took them home and scanned all the Blackshear related entries into his computer and subsequently incorporated them into the “Blackshear Family History”.A large part of this went into theportion of entry for General David Blackshear which was an extension of Blacksheariana. One larger documentation was of “HISTORICAL FACTS ON THE OLD BLACKSHEAR TRAIL” written by Mrs. J. L. Walker of Waycross, Ga. All of this documentation was put into the General David Blackshear” entry.
Because of the reference to Eastman, Georgia, Daniel and Bob Blackshear drove to Eastman where they found a historical plaque on the roadside and made a photograph of it . Subsequently, Bob Blackshear was able to also photograph another historial roadside monument about Ft. Early’s establishment on the Flint River by General Blackshear. These photographs were also added to the entry for General Blackshear. There was already an entry for Mary Olivia Blackshear in the original Blacksheariana.
During the 1997 – 1999 time frame, Bob Blackshear came into contact with a John Blackshire who lived in Illinois, just south of Chicago.He had heard that Bob had a copy of Perry Lynnfield Blackshear’s “Blacksheariana” on his computer.He to, by this time, had scanned all of Blacksheariana into his computer.While Bob had typed his copy of Blacksheariana into his computer over four months and incorporated various other Blackshear entries into it, John Blackshire had retained his copy as a stand alone work of Perry L. Blackshear’s 1994 work with no additions.In their correspondence on the Internet, John Blackshire requested a copy of Bob’s file and also sent Bob a copy of his file.Because this sharing was done in the 1999 time frame, Bob gave a preliminary name to John Blackshire’s file of “Blacksheariana 2000’. Unfortunately, some people had no knowledge of the history of Blacksheariana and when provided a reference copy continued to refer to it as Blacksheariana 2000 and even posted a copy on a web site with this name.The copyright on Blacksheariana expired by 1999.As far as Bob can determine, his and John Blackshire’s file are the only complete “electronic” copies of Perry Lynnfield Blackshear’s original work, although a “sectionalized” copy has been placed on the Internet and one small company has advertised that they will, for a fee, reprint the original Blacksheariana for anyone on request. (A copy of this was purchased by a Blackshear descendant and shown to Bob and Leon at a Blackshear Reunion in Hoxie, Arkansas.
By the end of 1999, while the service was still free, Vaughn Blackshear, Bob and Leon’s nephew, signed up for space on the MyFamily web site. There was no fee at the time. He invited Bob and Leon to become members and post some of their files on the site. At first, some files and pictures were added. By 2000 or 2001 the MyFamily people began charging for the service.This site was called “The Blackshear Place”.Again, more files from those of Leon’s and Bobs work were added to the site and more and more people would hear of it and ask to be invited to the site.Significant names came to view who had a good interest in Blackshear family history.One Barbara Adams joined the site and contributed many, many items to the Blackshear Family Historyfile.She has worked diligently and presented pictures and data that has been invaluable to this research.
By August 2006, Leon and Bob had collected sufficient data to have a formal hard-backed book of Blackshear Family History printed. They had two copies made for themselves and an extra copy made to donate to the Jonesboro, Arkansas genealogy library.The library agreed to have it made into “hardbinding” with a donation.Leon provided the donation.
By Nov 2010, one Charles Jerry Blackshear had appeared on the scene.He is a grandson of Sam Blackshear of Lawrence County, Arkansas and had attended a number of Family Reunions in Hoxie, Arkansas where he met with Leon and Bob.In Nov 2010 Charles decided to get another printing of the Blackshear Family History filein a hard cover book form (He had gottencopies printed earlier). A copy of the Blackshear Family History file in PDF format was required and Bob provided this to Jerry.Bob and Leon asked Jerry to include two copies for them.Gleanda Wheeler and Barbara Adams asked Charles to get two copies each for them.Thus, about nine copies were printed.
Leon and Bob provided the annual funding for “The Blackshear Place” web site for all years except for two years in the 2002-2010 time frame where members were solicited for funds (which they provided).
Unfortunately, things do not always go smoothly when developing Family History. In this case, early in the year 2000, Vaughn Blackshear, Leon and Bob Blackshear’s nephew, copied most of the files he had been given on DVD to pass on to his children, and decided to post the files all over the Internet.He uploaded these on Facebook, Picasa, and some thirty plus websites under his name and with his picture over six years without Leon and Bob finding this out, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with Blackshear Family History development.He told people these were his files and he had created them. He has continued this effort through 2012. He has done this without any authorization from Bob and Leon Blackshear and continued to do this even though he had been asked not to do so. The files he still has in his possession are now over three years old and he has been told he will not receive any additional files from Bob and Leon Blackshear. Also, he and his children have now been permanently deleted from all files of Bob and Leon Blackshear. Bob and Leon’s files, including "Blackshear Family History", are now only posted on their web site, “Blackshear Family History”, on www.MYFAMILY.COM. The research continues and the file is updated regularly.