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Family Photo of the Week: Harry Howell Hastings & His Brother Otho

10 Jul

This is my great-great grandfather Harry Howell Hastings, son of Z.S. Hastings standing with his brother Otho Ono Hastings. Harry looks so much like Dad and Grandpa in this photo. I love it!

Family Photo of the Week: Z.S. Hastings & Rosetta Butler Hastings Inside Their Kansas Home

11 Jun

I suppose I’ve failed to mention the gold mine of photos and information that Grandma found stashed in her closet last summer when we were in there looking for something else. (Isn’t that always the case?) Apparently, many years ago Grandpa received a book about the Hastings family history, as documented by a distant relative of his. The book is wonderful, but the best part is that our relative, Roger Taft, included  a disc with all of his scans of the original documents and photos that he put into the book. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this is. A few of these photos we had copies of, some others I’d seen online, but there are many I’d never even seen before. Thank you cousin Roger, wherever you are!

This photo is of Z.S. Hastings and Rosetta Butler Hastings (my great-great-great grandparents) inside their “retirement” home in Effingham, Kansas. Note the paintings of Z.S. and Rosetta Hastings that hung on the wall behind them. This picture cracks me up. I don’t have an exact date for the photo, but I imagine it was taken in the early part of the 1900’s. Z.S. Hastings died in 1925, so I believe this photo to have been taken 5-15 years earlier based on the way he looks in other photos we have of him which are dated 1914 and 1925.

Connecting the Civil War Norris Dots

7 Jun

In this letter from my great-great grandfather William Norris’s sister Mary to my great-great grandmother Minnie Rose Norris, she describes what each of her brothers did during the Civil War.

“Bro Dock was in the 4th Ala Regt. Col Bee commanding Hoods Div. Longsteets Cor L Company F or G. I don’t remember which. he was in the 1st battle of Manassas until he surrendered under Lee at Appomattox C H at the end of the war. Bro’s Jim and John was in the 20 Ala Regt company F or G. Capt Shapherd, Colonel Pettus under Joseph E. Johnston was captured a the fall of Vicksburg, Surrendered in Georgia I think. John was killed in Vicksburg during the siege 1st of June 1863, so you see I don’t know much about any of them.”

I wanted to confirm her information, so I looked up each of her brothers in the national park service’s Civil War database. As Brad Norris said in his genforum post, her brother Dock was Melville Norris. Melville was Alanson Blake Norris’s second eldest son, and was approximately 18 or 19 when the Civil War broke out. Mary’s information proves correct. There was in fact, a Melville Norris in the 4th Alabama Regiment company G. This is the link to his data in the National Park Service database:

She’s correct again when it comes to her brother Jim (James B. Norris). He was Alanson’s eldest son, and about 22 when the war began. Here he is in the 20th Alabama Regiment, company F: .

There was also a John Norris in the same regiment. However, according to this database, the only John W. Norris in the 20th Alabama Regiment entered as a private and exited as a corporal (quite the promotion). .

This is confusing, because Mary says he died in Vicksburg in 1863. Here’s some nice info. on the Battle: I’ve been trying to figure out if the database would list whether a soldier was killed in battle, or not. So far, I can’t find a list of soldiers killed in Vicksburg, or any record of John’s death. I can’t find him on a census after 1860 either. He would’ve been a mere 15 or 16 years old when the Civil War began. If Mary’s correct, that would make him 18 or 19 when he died.

My great-great grandfather William R. Norris wouldn’t have served in the war, because he was only one-year-old in 1860, and only five by the time the war ended. Alanson Blake Norris doesn’t seem to have served either, which would be logical since he’s rumored to be a Methodist minister and would’ve been around 44 at the time the war began. This would mean that neither of my direct great-great-great grandfather’s fought in the Civil War. Z.S. Hastings my great-great-great grandfather on my Dad’s side stated in his autobiography that he didn’t fight in the war, though some of his brother’s did fight for the Union. Like Alanson, Z.S. Hastings was also a minister.

Incidentally, as mentioned in a previous blog, William Norris’s future father-in-law Samuel Leslie Rose did serve. He was in the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery. I haven’t looked into whether he was at any of the same battles as William’s brothers yet.

The Hastings Family Album

26 Apr

I’ve decided to say very little this go-round, and just let these amazing old photographs speak for themselves. I’ve been reading The Autobiography of Z.S. Hastings, but until I’ve finished it I can’t possibly pick my favorite passages. There are so many.

So… for now, feel free to enjoy all of the photos I could find of Harry Howell Hastings, Z.S. Hastings, and Rosetta Butler Hastings. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger.

Z? S?

16 Apr

“The first thing that I can now remember was, when I was two and one-half years old, in the fall of 1840, when General William Henry Harrison was elected the ninth president of the United States. It was on the occasion of a big rally day for Mr. Harrison when I, with my parents, stood by the road-side and saw in the great procession going by…”

These are a few lines from The Autobiography of Z.S. Hastings. It turns out that in the two years since I last googled Z.S., the rise of ebooks inspired someone to create a free version of his autobiography  for download. This, I believe, is a great use of ebooks! No, it’s not great, it’s AMAZING!

Let’s back up a bit, though, because when I left off, we had not yet proven that Z.S. Hastings was any relation, therefore, we don’t know whether I even care about his Autobiography. History, yes. Family History, maybe.

After finding the photo of the mysterious bearded man, Z.S. Hastings, on Wikipedia, I decided to search for the photo album in which I was certain I’d seen him before. Though my parents were unsure of what album I was referring to, after a great deal of searching I found the ancient album. Apparently it pays to be a snoop as a child.

The album I found is truly a gem! I meant to include some of the photos from it in this post, however, I absolutely forgot to bring them home to scan. Needless to say, I did find one photos of Z.S. Hastings in the family album along with many other members of the Hastings clan. This, I believe secures the fact that Z.S. was my great, great, great-grandfather, and also confirms Harry Howell Hastings (his son) as my great, great-grandfather. I’ll be sure to share photos in the next post.

Now that I was certain Z.S. was related to me, I decided that the next most pressing question I had was, “What the heck does Z.S. stand for?” Zeke? Zachariah? Zeb? Z… ? I decided to try finding him in census records to see  if he had listed his full name in a record. I also wanted to see if I could find where he was born, because I had no leads as to his father’s name or place of birth. The only thing I knew was that they lived somewhere in Indiana when Z.S. was born, and even that was based on an article from where the information could be considered iffy at best (for now).

First, I tried accessing some online census records. The Pikes Peak Library District gives you free access to Heritage Quest records with your library card number and free access to from library computers. *I had to give it a plug, because it’s AWESOME! This said, I took a go at Heritage Quest, because I could do it from home.

Based on my best guess as to the time period I was looking at, I searched the 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1890 census records in Kansas for Hastings.  Each time narrowing my results to Atchison County, which I’d read was the home of the Hastings in the Wikipedia article. I struck gold in both the 1870 and 1880 records. In 1880, I found the following entry for not only a Z.S. Hastings, but his wife, R.B. (which we know from Wikipedia to be Rosetta Butler Hastings), and four of their children, including my great, great-grandfather Harry H. who was 9 at the time. Here, it describes Z.S. Hastings profession as a Minister and his wife Rosetta’s profession to be, “Keeping home.” At the time of this census record Z.S. was 42. It also states that he was born in Indiana and that his parents were both born in North Carolina. Rosetta, it seems, was born in Ohio, and her parents were born in New York and Ohio. Unfortunately, this census record doesn’t list Z.S.’s full name, leaving that mystery still to be determined.

Going back a bit further, however, the 1870 census has the following entry:

Here, you can see that Z.S Hastings is now listed as Zachary and R.B. Hastings is listed as Rosetta. They had no children at the time of this census record. Z.S., or shall I say Zachary, was a school teacher and Rosetta was keeping home. Zachary! At long last! This solves half of the name mystery. At least we have a first name now, but what is the “S” for? If you look at the transcribed version of the census record on Heritage Quest it states his middle name as “L,” however, looking at the actual record, you see that the supposed “L” is the number 2 in his age at the time, 32. The “S” in Z.S. is obviously a middle name still to be determined. He will, of course, forever be Z.S. to me.

Another interesting thing to note about both census records is the Hastings’ next door neighbors, Pardie Butler and family. From the Wikipedia article, we learned that Pardie was Rosetta Butler’s father, and a great abolitionist. He is, in fact, worth his own blog entry… or two. For now, though, the interesting thing I learned about him is that they lived next door to the Hastings for at least the 10 years between census’.

I’ve not traced Z.S. back to Indiana just yet, nor his parents. However, I assure you that I have found something even more valuable. The Autobiography of Z.S. Hastings is only 29 pages long, however, it might be one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever read. It begins:

Effingham Kan.

Christmas, 1911

Dear Paul,–

I am sending to each of the other boys a copy of my Autobiography like this I send you. I hope you will be interested in it; read it, preserve it, and give it to some of your children, to be read and handed down and down until the second Adam comes the second time. I am sure I would be glad to have something of this kind from my father, even from his father’s father’s father’s, etc., back to father Adam, the first Adam.

Z. S. Hastings

I promise to write much more when I get to the end, but for now I leave you with one final mystery, which is no solved.

“I was born March 15th 1838 at a place now called Williams in Lawrence County, Indiana. When the day came for me to be named, mother said, “He looks like my brother Zachariah,” but father said, “He looks like my brother Simpson.” “All right”, said mother,” we will just christen him Zachariah Simpson.” And that is my name unto this day.”

The Bearded Man

8 Apr

So the first thing you’re probably wondering is who are those crazy cats at the top of this page, and what is UP with that beard. Am I right?

I discovered this picture over a year ago when I first began my attempt at researching our family. My efforts were rather scattered at the time. I was engrossed for most of my search with the Bush branch of my Grandpa Norris’ family; they were a fascinating bunch. I had a really great streak of beginners luck when I found online archives for the newspaper in the town where they lived (Smethport, Pennsylvania if you’re wondering), which made them that much more fascinating. Their story will come soon, and I’m sure you’ll be just as excited as me to see some of the newspaper articles I found. This photo, however, is not of the Bush family, so I digress…

After spending far-too-long with the Bush’s, I decided I should start tracing the other side of my family a bit. I wanted to know where my last name originated. Afterall, it IS my last name. I had a few generations of Hastings filled into my tree, and started looking for each family member with a good old google search. This is probably not the best way to begin your own genealogical research, however, based on my own findings I wouldn’t discourage it as one course of research.

My grandpa’s dad’s name was Tarpley Taylor Hastings, and his dad’s name was Harry H. Hastings. That was all we knew for sure. Isn’t Tarpley a great name? What do you all think? I really love it, but Mom disagrees wholeheartedly. Once again, however, I digress…

In googling Harry H. Hastings (I believe), I stumbled upon Wikipedia entries for both a Milo Hastings ( and a Paul P. Hasting ( . Were they related to the Harry H. Hastings on my tree? Paul P’s Wikipedia page proved unhelpful initially as it listed his father, mother, brother Milo, and grandfather, but not Harry H. Milo’s page, however, contained THE photograph. Not only was it captioned with the names of each member of the family, there was something VERY familiar about that bearded man listed as Milo’s father. From the moment I saw the picture, I knew I’d seen him before in an old photo album that had been handed to my dad years ago. I was certain that these Wikipedia Hastings were in fact family.

From left to right the photo is captioned as follows: father Z.S (1838-1925), Otho Ono (1874-1948), Milo Milton (1884-1957), mother Rosetta (Butler) (1844-1934), Edith Elizabeth (1881-1902), Clara Charlotte (1877-1902), Harry Howell (1871-1968). Wiley Warren (1876-1877) and Paul Pardee (1872-1947) are absent.

According to the Wikipedia post, “Milo Milton Hastings was the youngest of the seven children of Z. S. and Rosetta (Butler) Hastings. Each of the children had double initials. ‘This happened so with the two first, with the others it was purposed so.’ His father was a preacher and farmer in Kansas where the family was raised. Only four of the boys survived to adulthood. Brother Paul P. Hastings became the VP of traffic for the Santa Fe Railroad.”

 The double initials were fascinating, and… funny. How did my potential great-great grandpa get so lucky as to get three H’s?  The Wikipedia entry claims the quote about the double initial names came from the Autobiography of Z. S. Hastings (privately published). WHAT???

So, not only did this Z.S. look familiar, but he’d written an autobiography? This, I had to find. But what did Z.S. stand for? Where would I find his autobiography? And most importantly, where was the photograph of him I’d known I’d seen before? Or was it some other bearded man I was remembering? Remember, at this point my theory that these were indeed my family members was still just speculation. Sure the Harry Howell Hastings on the Wikipedia site and my Harry H. Hastings were a little too similar to be coincidence, and I could even see some resemblance between him and my Grandpa, but I still needed proof. I needed that photograph for starters…

To Be Continued…

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