September Baby – 1829

September 24th marks the birthday of my great-great-grandfather, James David (David James) Lee, in 1829 in Hamilton County, Florida.

This post continues the affidavit of David Sistrunk concerning the children of Everett Lee who was the subject of the last post (Died in Service to His Country).

Part of David Sistrunk's affidavit for pension application for his grandchildren - Pension File 12113 (Crpl. Everett Lee)

Part of David Sistrunk’s affidavit for pension application for his grandchildren – Pension File 12113 (Crpl. Everett Lee)

“…That the said Everett and Nancy had 5 child children all born in lawful wedlock, to wit – David Lee 16 years old Jessee 14΅ M Lucinda 13΅ Moses 11΅ & Henry 9 years old. That the said Nancy lived the widow of the said Everett Lee from the day of his death till June 15th ^1840 when she was again married to Daniel Hall of Hamilton county, Fla. That she now resides in Madison county, Fla (from some cause) this deponent reason to believe that Capt Smith mustered out some man in said Lees name and did not note his death on the Roll as the said Smith drew his pay with the rest of his Company without le… [page torn] of Administration.  To the truth of the above statements I am fully satisfied

Sworn to and Subscribed the day and year first

above writen [sic] before me                                         [his]

Benjam  Lanier                                             David            Sistrunk

Justice of the Peace                                 [mark]”

In this pension file, there was also a real treasure. It was a family record of the births of the children of Everett and Nancy Lee. It is almost impossible to determine who wrote the paper, but it certainly was not Nancy (Sistrunk) Lee Hall or her father, David Sistrunk, as both of them made their marks rather than signing the affadavits.


Family Record of Everett Lee and Nancy (Sistrunk) Lee located in Pension File 12113 (Crpl. Everett Lee)

It appears to have been written all at the same time after the birth of the last child. There is no apparent change in handwriting or ink which would indicate the births were recorded as they occurred. It is also not a page from a family Bible. Regardless, I wish I had something of this nature for all my ancestors who were born before the days of birth certificates.

This document is referred to in correspondence written by the attorney, C. H. Blood, found in the pension application file as “the little yellow piece of paper originally filed as Family Record I know I had it in the Clks Office in Columbia Co and you will see the witness refer to it_  I must have left it there or it has got into wrong packages Mr Wilson Clk will no doubt remember having seen it_­ and noticed it was old and correctly copied_­ I trust I shall find it regret that I have not [undecipherable] to return

C. H. Blood”

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Died in Service to His Country

Cards from Compiled Military Service Record of Corporal Everett Lee - Florida Wars

Cards from Compiled Military Service Record of Corporal Everett Lee – Florida Wars

Corporal Everett Lee, my great-great-great grandfather,  died of a fever in service to his country during the Florida War on 15 September 1838 at Charles Ferry in Madison County, Florida. Below is a transcription of the affidavit of David Sistrunk, his father in law, about his death when Lee’s widow, Nancy Hall, applied for a pension for her children (Pension File No. 12113). These documents are housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Florida                  §

Madison County  §

Be it remembered that on this  30th day of April 1845

Personally appeared before me, David Sistrunk,

of the county aforesaid who is well known to me a creditable witness

of lawful age and made oath in due form of law, that he is the

Father of Nancy Hall late the widow of Everett Lee, That her maiden

name was Nancy Sistrunk that she was lawfully married to the

Said Everett Lee on the 11th day of June ^1828 by Rev. David Bryan

in Hamilton County Fla That they lived together as man and wife

from their marriage till the day of his death which took place at

at Mrs Rebecca Charles, Columbia Co That this deponant and

the said Everett Lee joined a Volunteer Company Fla Mla and

was mustered into the service of the United States under Capt Geo

W. Smiths about the 16th day of March 1838 That they marched from

Hamilton Co Fla to Madison County and was stationed at

Charles Ferry Suwannee River That sometime about the first

of Sept the compy as ordered to the Okefanoke Swamp. The said Everett

Lee was sick when the company left and was taken to Mrs Charles

where he died on the 15th of Sept. 1838 of a fever. That deponant had leave

of the Capt to stop behind and take care of the said Lee or remove him

to Hamilton County (home) as soon as able, but he died as above

set forth at Mrs Charles while said Company was up to the Okefa

noke Swamp some weeks before said company was mustered out

of service, said company was for six months but was not mustered

out till sometime after the time had expired …

Declaration of David Sistrunk - page 1

Declaration of David Sistrunk – page 1

Declaration of David Sistrunk - page 2

Declaration of David Sistrunk – page 2

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Coal Miner’s Daughter

Flossie Irene Dow 1891 - 1954

Flossie Irene Dow
1891 – 1954

Like Loretta Lynn, she was a coal miner’s daughter. Flossie Irene was born the fourth daughter of Edward E. Dow and Viola Bell Bennett on 7 September 1891 in Coalton, Jackson County, Ohio. 

Flossie and her family moved from Ohio to Saginaw, Michigan, at least by the time she was in fourth grade. She had perfect attendance in the fourth grade at the Otto Roeser School and sixth grade at John Moore School. She loved reading very much all her life, and even read a few of the Harvard Classics.

She played the piano, and I know of at least two jobs she held as a young adult – waitress in a hotel in Saginaw, and film editor for a movie studio in Jacksonville, Florida (before the days of Hollywood) 

I asked my daddy to tell me some character traits he would use to describe his mother. I created the acrostic below based on his comments. 


F – fun-loving

L – liked by all

O – hOspitable – sorry, I couldn’t think of an O word

S – spunky

S – servant-hearted

I – intelligent

E – enjoyed a challenge in puzzles and contests

1891 Birth Register - Jackson County, Ohio - Flossie Irene Dow on line 49. "Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Sep 2014), Jackson > Birth registers 1890-1899 vol C > image 46 of 241.

1891 Birth Register – Jackson County, Ohio – Flossie Irene Dow on line 49.
“Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 07 Sep 2014), Jackson > Birth registers 1890-1899 vol C > image 46 of 241.

To read more about Flossie Irene (Dow) Damato, see my other posts at Flossie and A Street Car Named Ortega.

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A Retirement Far Too Short

In 1991 my parents and my aunts, Ann (Damato) Duncan and Rita (Damato) Pye, came to our home in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to visit. In response to my questions about my ancestors taking part in the Civil War (in hopes of getting some scholarship money for our son who was a high school junior), my aunts and daddy told the following account about their grandfather, Edward E. Dow. I recorded the conversation on a cassette tape which I still have in my possession.

Although he had been a miner all his life, my great grandfather, Edward E. Dow, sold his home and land in Saginaw, Michigan, and moved his large family by train to eighty acres of land they had purchased sight unseen in Putnam County, Florida, around 1913.  They leased two train cars for the move – a box car for all their possessions and a passenger car for the family to travel in. Neighbors came to the property, which was about halfway between Rodman and Welaka, and had a house-raising for the family. Some of the young men may have come to check out the several marriageable young ladies who had just arrived, but no wedding bells rang for a while. So the Dows began life in Florida in a newly built two-story house.

Ed worked in the local forest industry as a lumberjack for a local lumber company (Rodman Lumber / Sawmill). He had an accident one time when a tree fell on him while working in the woods, and he injured his back and could no longer work as a lumberjack. His two oldest daughters had already gone to Jacksonville to work, and his wife, Bell, decided she could take in sewing in Jacksonville, and the girls could live with her instead of the YWCA. When she had enough money, she would send for the family to move to Jacksonville. But what would they do about provisions for the remaining family of her husband, two sons and six daughters, ranging in age from about seventeen to seven?

They made a deal with the owners of Millers’ General Store, somewhere in the vicinity of their home. The Millers would provide whatever needs the family had, and the Dows would deed the land and house to the Millers after Ed recovered and the rest of the family moved to Jacksonville. That is indeed what happened.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

When he had recovered enough to work again, Ed found a job with the Seaboard Air Line Railway[1] in Jacksonville until he was ready to retire. In 1924 their unmarried son Walter had been in Miami when a hurricane forced him out of town. He and a friend went to New York looking for work and pulled into a parking garage. Walter backed into a board which broke, and he fell down an elevator shaft and sustained injuries that resulted in his death several days later.

Ed and Viola Bell had bought ten acres in Kenwood from their daughter and her husband, Eileen and Bert Dressler. Their retirement plans were to start a chicken farm and have three chicken houses ready to go when he retired. They had built a house on this property. However, when their son Walter died, they incurred hospital and funeral debts which delayed Ed’s retirement plans. He worked three more years for the railroad to pay off the debts. In the meantime, Viola Bell had moved to their property in Kenwood to maintain the house and property, so Ed lived with his daughter Flossie Damato and her family in Jacksonville during the week while he worked and rode the train to Palatka for the weekend. When he had paid off the debts, he retired and moved permanently to their house in Kenwood on a Friday.

The following Tuesday,[2] after the couple had eaten lunch, Ed asked Bell what she was going to do. She said she was going to clean up the kitchen and lie down to take a nap. He said he was going out in the chicken yard to fix a hand water pump. When she finished washing the dishes, their daughter Eileen came in and suggested they go for a walk. Bell said she needed to tell Ed because he thought she would be lying down. When they walked out and found him, he was “stretched out”; he had had a cerebral hemorrhage.

Duval County, Florida, death certificate no. 14706 (1927), Edward E. Dow; Department of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Jacksonville.

Duval County, Florida, death certificate no. 14706 (1927), Edward E. Dow; Department of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Jacksonville.

I have great respect for this man who sacrificed his own dreams and plans to fulfill obligations incurred for his son. None of us are guaranteed the circumstances in life that we may plan or dream of, but may we, like my great grandfather Dow, make the responsible choices.


[1] My aunts said it was the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, but that entity did not come into existence until 1967 when the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (changed to Railroad from Railway in 1946) merged with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. See

[2] Both my Aunt Ann and my daddy stated that this happened on a Monday. However, a perpetual calendar tool online revealed that 6 September 1927 was actually on a Tuesday.  See

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American Marriage of Two Italians

In 1881, Giuseppe (Joseph) Damato and his brother, Luigi (Louis), immigrated from Montecorvino Pugliano, Salerno, Campania, Italy to New York.[1] Louis became a barber in the Boston area while Joseph took his skills as a tailor to the South, settling in Jacksonville, Florida, by at least 1887.[2]

 However, Yellow Jack, the personification of Yellow Fever, showed up in the summer of 1888. Whether the trip had already been planned or was a response to the epidemic, Joseph left town and headed to Boston. While he was there, he published his marriage intentions to Angela Previte in the Boston Globe.[3]

damato-previti marriage record-cropped On 2 September 1888, Joseph Damato and Angela Previti married in Boston. Athanasius Butelli, priest at Church of St. Leonard of Port Maurice, officiated at the ceremony.[4] Amazingly, at least in my mind, the newlywedJoseph Damato ad in Florida Times-Union -17 Oct 1888 p3 col 6-cropped couple left for Jacksonville before the threat of Yellow Fever was completely over.  Joseph ran an ad for his tailor business in the Florida Times-Union on 17 October 1888,[5] so I would assume they had returned to Jacksonville by that date.


Angela Previti (also recorded as Previte and Prevett), a young Italian girl of seventeen, had only been in the country for about two and a half years when she married Joseph. Leaving her family to live in an unknown place with a man she probably did not know very well must have been a scary situation for Angela (also recorded as Angelina). Thankfully, there was a Catholic church in the city where she was going. At least that part of her life would remain stable.

John and Louis Damato - Green book -pg 5This union produced two sons, John and Louis, born in 1889 and 1893, respectively.[6] John followed his father in the tailor business, and Louis started working in the post office. Louis began a ninety-nine year legacy of descendants of Joseph and Angela working continuously in the United States Postal Service in Duval County.[7]

 The couple weathered two known crises in their marriage – a lawsuit against Joseph and his tailor business and the 1901 fire of Jacksonville.  The lawsuit – Reese v. Damato – began in 1896 and was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.[8] I’ve read the final judgment and, although I have very limited legal knowledge, the court ruled in favor of Damato. He continued to operate his tailor shop and advertise in the city directories.

The fire of 3 May 1901 rendered ten thousand Jacksonville residents homeless within eight hours. My great grandparents were among them.  However, a map of the burned district revealed that his tailor shop at 233 West Bay Street was unscathed.[9] The irony of the situation is that had the lawsuit mentioned previously not been appealed, there would be no extant record of the trial because the courthouse burned in the fire.

 Thankfully, they and their two sons survived the fire. These two people joined their neighbors and acquaintances and rebuilt their lives, businesses, and city. Joseph and Angela refused to let this tragedy chase them away from the life they had made in Jacksonville all their married life. But one more catastrophic event was the last one they faced together.

 For the rest of the story about Joseph’s death, see an earlier post entitled The Apparent Italian Bostonian Was Really an Italian Floridian.


 [1] “Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897,” online images, ( : accessed 20 Mar 2011), manifest, Ferdinand de Lessyss [Lesseps], arriving 16 May 1881, p. 3, Guiseppe [Giuseppe] Damato. 

[2] Wanton S. Webb, Webb’s Jacksonville and Consolidated Directory of Representative Cities of East and South Florida 1887; digital images, Jacksonville Public Library ( :  accessed 1 September 2014), entry for Damato Joseph, p. 78.

[3] “Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003,” database on-line, ( : accessed 21 Apr 2011), Marriage Intentions of Giuseppe Damato and Angela Previte; citing the Boston Globe, 24 August 1888. 

[4] “Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 September 2014), Giuseppe Damato and Angela Previti, 2 September 1888, page 148; citing Boston, Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1415225.

[5]Ad “Joseph Damato Merchant Tailor,” Florida Times-Union, 17 October 1888, p. 3, col. 6; digital images,  NewspaperCat ( : accessed 1 September 2014),  Florida Digital Newspaper Library.

[6]John Damato baptism, 1 September 1889, [no.] 1564, Church of the Immaculate Conception (Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida); embossed photocopy of baptism record from unidentified register, supplied 23 September 2009 by Immaculate Conception Parish. Also received in same mailing, Luigi Damato baptism, 3 December 1893, [no.] 1856.

[7]Larry Hannan, “Death of Neptune Beach Man Ends 100 Years of Family Service at Post Office,” The Florida Times-Union, 8 January 2011, Web edition cached ( : accessed 1 September 2014).

[8]Florida. Supreme Court, Florida Reports, Volume 44 (Tallahassee, Fla. : I.B. Hilson, 1904), Reese v. Damato, pages 683- 702; digital image, GoogleBooks ( : accessed 1 September 2014).

[9]T. Frederick Davis, History of Jacksonville, Florida and Vicinity, 1513 to 1924 ( Florida Historical Society, 1925), 224a; digital image, (  : accessed 1 September 2014).

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Langone and Prevete in Boston

I just watched the movie “No God, No Master” about the Italian anarchist movement in Boston. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I looked up Sacco and Vanzetti on Wikipedia and noted something of particular interest to me. “At Langone Funeral Home in Boston North End, more than 10,000 mourners viewed Sacco and Vanzetti in open caskets over two days.”[1]

The name “Langone” associated with funerals rang a bell. I was pretty sure he was the undertaker for one of my ancestors. So I got out the death certificates to have a look and, sure enough, I was right. Joseph A. Langone was the undertaker for my gr-gr-great grandmother, Angela Tuzzo Prevete, in 1901.  See the death certificate below.

Death Certificate - Angela Tuzzo Prevete - 1901 - cropped with citation

A couple of other Boston undertakers for my ancestors included A. A. Badaracco and Michael J. Porcello.  If anyone knows about these funeral homes or undertakers, I’d like to hear from you.


[1] Wikipedia (, “Sacco and Vanzetti,” modified 16:06, 8 August 2014.

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In Consideration of the Love I Have

Sarah Lanier Dell Fletcher passed away, according to her headstone, on 31 July 1894. She is buried with her husband, John Almarine Fletcher, in Pleasant Grove Cemetery in what is now Dixie County, Florida. She was a minister’s wife and, twenty years before her death, deeded property for the use of a church. The terms of the deed, I believe, reveal her heart. Below is an image of the deed with the transcription following it.

Lafayette County, Florida, Deeds, C:81, Sarah L. Fletcher to Methodist Episcopal Church South, 23 October 1894; Clerk of Circuit Court, Mayo; digital image received in email from Betty Mikell, 18 August 2013.

Lafayette County, Florida, Deeds, C:81, Sarah L. Fletcher to Methodist Episcopal Church South, 23 October 1875; Clerk of Circuit Court, Mayo; digital image received in email from Betty Mikell, 18 August 2013.

State of Florida           §          Know all men by these presents

County of Lafayette   §          that I Sarah L Fletcher for and in

Consideration of the love I have

For the cause of church and from an earnest desire to promote his heritage on Earth do give and grant and by these presents convey unto Charles Dell Fletcher John J. Gornto John L Fletcher Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and to their successors in office for the use and benefit of said Church The following described lands

To wit: The North West quarter of the North East quarter of Section fifteen Township Eight South of Range Thirteen east containing (39 92/100) Thirty nine Ninety two one hundredths acres Lying & being in the County of & State aforesaid In trust that said premises shall be used kept & maintained and disposed as a place of Divine Worship

for the use of the Ministry and membership of the afore said church also as a place of Residence for the preacher who may from time to time be appointed to said place in the mission or circuit subject to the discipline [?] & ministerial appointments of said Church or from time to time authorized and declared by the General Conference of said church and the annual conference within whos [sic] bounds the said premises are situated and that said Trustees to have and to hold the property aforesaid for the use aforesaid free from the Claimes [sic] of myself my heirs my executors or administrators and from the claims of all others whomsoever

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand

and seal this the Twenty first day of August eighteen

hundred and Seventy four

In Presents of Witnesses         §    Sarah L. Fletcher  (seal)

M M Michan                          §

N C Singletary                       §

Emma D. Michan                   §

Recorded the above deed on the 23rd day of October

A.D. 1875                              Howell Hawkins

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