same name, different people different era (52 ancestors #13)

Week 13 (March 26 – April 1) – Different


What a fun exercise, I thought, to examine the life of a same-named person, see how different(ly) — or, same — we are and, lived?

Now, this was not as easy as I thought it would be.  Not for lack of other Susan or Susannah or Susie BUCKNERS out there bearing a kinship to me, no way, but:  for lack of same accompanied by, a person photo.  (Gotta have a photo of the person.  Firm requirement.  No fun otherwise. 😉 )  And, for a general lack of actual biographical information, as opposed to the drier facts netted via censuses, death certificates, etc.?

So:  below, my chosen Susan BUCKNER candidate, with her husband Silas Elbert (Elbert) BUCKNER and six of their children:

THE SUSAN J. BUCKNER & SILAS ELBERT BUCKNER FAMILY. Pictured, back row, are: sons Levi Newton (born 1895- ), Dallas Madison (1891- ), &, daughter Lillie (1883- ). In front, per my best guess is, on dad’s lap, Eula Augusta (1902- ); squashed somewhat ‘tween Pa & Ma, Otto Bayard (1898- ); &, on mom’s lap, Arzula (1905- ). (Photo at had names, birthdates, & who was IN photo but, lacked specifics as to which child was which…) DATE OF PHOTO: 1905-’06.

And below, my own Susan BUCKNER family:

THE SUSAN M. BUCKNER FAMILY: myself, son, & grandson. DATE OF PHOTO, 2009.

One hundred four-to-five years apart, the two photos.  Roughly a hundred years apart, the two Susans’ lives.

Being second cousins themselves, both Susan Jane (Susie) (May 18, 1861 Madison Co., NC, U.S.A.-Oct. 24, 1908 Madison Co., NC; buried Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Mars Hill, Madison Co., NC) and Silas Elbert (Elbert) BUCKNER (Apr. 4, 1855 Madison Co., NC-Feb. 16, 1928 Madison Co., NC; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery) are my 5th cousins three times removed.  They share great-grandparents John Riley/Reiley BUCKNER (Abt. 1765 VA-1854 NC) & [either Elizabeth or Isabella] Lucretia TATUM (1767 VA-1822 NC).]

Susan is the daughter of Newton J. BUCKNER (1837-1916) & Mary Ann (Polly) DEWEESE (1840-1909); Silas Elbert, the son of James Mattison (Matt) BUCKNER ( -1926) & Matilda CHANDLER (1833-1926).[1]

In addition to the children pictured, Elbert & Susan had sons Leander Gaither & William Horace; and, by second wife Phinettia/Finetta (Nettie) BRIGGS (1874-1965), Elbert had daughter Carmel Mack (1918-1918) who died as an infant.[2]

Me, I only had the one son, but of course now that the option is closed 🙂 , I really do wish I’d had, oh, six?  Childbirth is not for the faint of heart, but I find children themselves very rewarding.

Elbert appears in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census in his father James M.’s NC household; at age 14, he attends school, which impresses me:  more often at that age, male children are listed as farm help.  James, who farms, is noted as owning $400 in real estate and, $250 in personal assets.[3]

By the 1880 U.S. Federal Census of NC, Madison Co., Middle Fork Township, newly married (1879) Elbert & “Susie” are in their own household with five-month-old baby Gaither, their first child.  Elbert farms and Susie is listed as keeping house.[4]

By 1910, two years after wife Susan’s death, Silas Elbert shows in the U.S. Federal Census of NC as a farmer with 14-year-old son Levi helping on the family farm.[5]

Silas farmed right up until his 1928 death at age 73.  His death certificate doesn’t even note a cause of death, simply, “No medical aid, found dead in stock barn.”[6]

Myself, occupationally:  I’m a retired “civil servant” with a Bachelor of Science degree.  I’ve actually always thought it would be really neat to live on a farm, although women I’ve worked with who grew up on farms have always spoken against it.  (But I did live on a dairy farm for a year in high school and, I truly loved it.)

In contrast to rural 19th-century Madison Co., NC, the northern city I was born and mostly raised in has a population of roughly a quarter million, many of that population associated with the large university here.

But back to Elbert:  five years after Susan’s 1908 death, he remarried to Phinettia (Finetta) BRIGGS.  (After Silas’ 1928 death, Phinettia (Finetta) remarried to William G. ELKINS (1861-1940).)

When Susan Jane was born, the American Civil War was a month underway.  Elbert would have been roughly six at the start of the war.  Susan’s daddy Newton J. BUCKNER had joined the Confederacy as a member of the 64th NC Infantry Regiment (Allen’s) — rank in, Private; rank out, Corporal — and on Sept. 9, 1963, was captured by the Union at Cumberland Gap.  He was received on the 26th at Camp Douglas, IL.  He would not be “discharged”/freed, until May of 1865.[7]

BUCKNER, Newton J., POW record (STARRED2)

Silas Elbert’s father James Mattison (Matt) BUCKNER would fight in the Civil War too — also for the Confederacy — but the only record I’ve been able to turn up for him is a pension application in wife Matilda’s name giving a NC Infantry Regiment that simply doesn’t correspond to any other available records.  (Frustrating.)

In an odd sort of parallel, my father moved five of us kids down to Memphis, TN, for a year and a half in 1960-’61 after my mother died, plopping us right down in 1960s Civil Rights protests in the south.  Freedom Riders, segregated lunch counters, Colored and Whites Only signs.  It was more than “culture shock” to my pre-teen self:  it was akin to, watching a civil war.

It was also a pretty horrifying introduction to The South.  I held a dizzying fear of the southern United States for years to come, convinced it was a land of evil, crazy-scary white people.  (I was only just 12 when we arrived in Memphis.)


This was an interesting exercise.  I feel more of a “real” kinship now to this Susan BUCKNER I never knew — what hard lives these people had:  one senses it just in studying the adult faces in the family photo, let alone learning through research of bits & pieces of their lives.

It’s easy to romanticize the past when one doesn’t know the details of lives.  It’s not so easy on closer look.

GRAVE MARKER OF SILAS ELBERT BUCKNER; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery. Photo from, contributed by “Lady Nan.”

GRAVE MARKER OF SUSAN JANE (BUCKNER) BUCKNER; Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery. Photo from, contributed by “Lady Nan.”












1, “Silas Elbert BUCKNER,” at , accessed June, 2015.

2, database of “Private User,” at , accessed June, 2015.

3, “1870 United States Federal Census,” NC, “James M. BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

4, “1880 United States Federal Census,” NC, “Elbert BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

5, “1910 United States Federal Census,” NC, “Elbert BUCKNER” household, original image at , accessed June, 2015.

6, “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” “Silas E. BUCKNER,” original image of, at , accessed June, 2015.

7, “U.S., Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865,” “Newton J BUCKNER,” original image of, at , accessed June, 2015.



This entry was posted in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition, American Civil War, BUCKNER, North Carolina and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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