The Other Bill Bishop

One of my first posts on this blog was about my second great-grandfather, Charlie Scott Bishop (also known as “Fightin’ Charlie Bishop”).

In that post, I noted his children, and a careful reader might note that in addition to my great-grandfather, William Taylor Bishop (the son of Cora Davidson), Charlie also had a son, by his first wife Maggie Jones, who I listed as “Willie.”

At the time, I did not think deeply on this, as I assumed that Willie had not grown to adulthood; when a family has two sons with the same name, the first probably died in childhood.

However, my recent research on the Dallas family dovetailed with my return to the Bishop line, and led me to conclude that I was wrong.

Charlie Scott Bishop, in fact, had two sons named Bill Bishop.

To further complicate matters, both sons names are William T. Bishop.

However, the elder William T.’s middle name is “Thomas”, whereas the younger (my great-grandfather) has “Taylor” for a middle name.

William Thomas Bishop – who shows as Willie in the 1900 Census – was born 9 January 1896 and died 20 June 1968. He was married to Dora Taylor.

I am attaching his obituary below. It appeared in the 21 June 1968 edition of the Kingsport News on page 6.


Update: I spoke with my grandmother this weekend and she confirmed that the other Bill Bishop was not close with her father (William Taylor Bishop); this probably explains why I did not know about this earlier.

However, my grandmother said that her family was frequently visited by the second-oldest son of Charlie and Maggie Jones, John R. Bishop. More on him in a later post.



Back To The Bishops

After about another year-long hiatus, I started working on my family tree again this week. There are a few reasons for my absence and return:

  • About a year ago I forwarded my then-existing information to my grandmother, who went to a Bishop family reunion. She relayed that I was a missing a large amount of information regarding Bishop cousins. I have been waiting for her to send me more information, but her health has not been good, and I’ve been hesitant to nag her about it. So the hoped-for information has not come yet.
  • I’ve been quite busy with work in the past few months.
  • I think I am still, to some extent, avoiding the issue because of the loss two years ago of my grandfather.
  • When I have focused on genealogy in the past year, I’ve been trying to help my mother’s fiance with his family.
  • A few weeks ago, Ancestry offered a big sale on its DNA kit. I finally decided to bite. Naturally, this means I’m now invested in actually cleaning up my family tree.

One of the big problems with is that you get utterly spammed with “hints”. A “hint” is a record that Ancestry’s search algorithm thinks might be relevant to the person you are researching. Realistically, I find that about half of the hints are relevant and half are junk – either the wrong person or something frivolous like a generic picture (British flags for relatives who immigrated from the Old Country, etc.). A lot of the material in “hints” is from other family trees, which I have been always been tended to be very skeptical about (it’s hardly primary source documentation, except for people who are currently living, perhaps). Once you “ignore” all of the junk and family trees, maybe something like one out of three hints is actually useful.

While cleaning up hints, I decided to take a look at the issue of the missing Bishop cousins. My main problem is that I am missing descendants of my 4th great-grandfather, William W. Bishop, Jr. (1820-1894) and his wife Jane Baker.

I decided to cheat a little and look at other family trees. I noticed a big difference; using the records I had, I was able to identify five children (Thomas, of whom I am a direct descendant through my grandmother; James Bishop; Amanda Jane Bishop; Conly Trigg Bishop; and Malen Bishop). But the other trees had many more children – a dozen or more.

After some digging, I realized that the gap between what I had, and what others were reporting, probably boiled down to the 1850 and 1860 Censuses. I realized that I had never found William W. Bishop, Jr. in either Census.

(Note: It looks like sometime long ago I rejected a hint for the 1850 Census, probably mistakenly; I wonder if it’s possible that decided not to show me records because of this old rejection?).

I started searching using Ancestry’s tools and kept coming up with nothing. After several different “search term” changes, I realized that the problem was not my technique — the problem most likely was that was (for some reason) not indexing all of its data correctly.

Fortunately, I found some alternative indexes to the 1850 and 1860 Censuses in Scott County, Virginia using Google:

I was then able to use the page references to find the “missing” information in Ancestry, and link these records back to my family tree.

In the 1850 census, I found these people living with William W. Bishop, Jr.:

  • Jane, age 26
  • John, age 11
  • Rosina, age 9
  • Vianna, age 8
  • Henry, age 6
  • Margaret, age 4

In the 1860 census:

  • Jane(s), age 38 (note the age discrepancy here – census takers seemed to do a lot of guesstimating back then).
  • Rosanah, age 19
  • Viranah, age 15
  • Henry, age 17 (possibly 12)
  • Margaret, age 14
  • William, age 11
  • Thomas, age 9
  • James, age 6
  • Jane, age 3

Given that my grandmother had specifically mentioned a “Henry” and given that we can at least prove these people existed with a highly-probable familial relationship, I have decided to “accept” a Family Tree hint. For some reason, the tree I accepted seemed to have Conly listed twice (once as “Conly” and once as “Connaly”) but I have decided these are probably duplicates. I have reason to believe that “Vianna” and “Viranah” were also probably the same person, based on other records; and there was probably another daughter (Mary) who died as an infant.

So the lessons here:

  • Do not assume that will show you everything you need to know.
  • Still be skeptical of family trees.
  • Call your grandmother.
  • Work on your family tree more often.

P.S. There may also have been a Joseph Bishop, born after Conley and before Malen, but I am not sure.

P.P.S. I realize my grandmother probably meant Henry C. Bishop (son of Thomas), not Henry S. Bishop (brother of Thomas).

Oak Hill Cemetery

On my other blog, I wrote a post discussing Oak Hill Cemetery in Kingsport, Tennessee. Ancestors on both sides of my family are buried there; my two grandfathers are buried about 70 meters apart. Here is a map that shows there relative positioning (from


My grandfather Robert T. Archer, Jr. is buried in a family plot in the Everlasting Life section. He is buried in the sixth row from the driving path that runs northwest-southeast separating Everlasting Life from the Gethsemane section, to the southwest. There is an approximately-3 meter-wide clearing  that runs from the path to a well in the middle of the Everlasting Life section; his grave is just a couple meters east of this clearing.

(Note that my grandmother Connie Archer is alive and well as of this writing; I am visiting her for her 80th birthday today. My great-aunt Betty Brewer, who also owns burial plot next to my grandfather’s, is also still living).




Note that my great-grandparents are buried next to my grandfather

On the far side of the Everlasting Life well, my great-uncle Art Salyer and great-aunt Flo (Salyer) Ralph are buried, along with their spouses Clara (Jackson) Salyer and W.G. “Pinky” Ralph:






My second-great grandfather, Charlie Scott Bishop, is also buried in Oak Hill Cemetery (confirmed both by and my grandmother) but I could not locate the stone.

Remembering Those Who Served

This Veterans Day, cousin Judy Stapleton (Art Salyer’s daughter and Flo Salyer’s niece) shared a photo of Flo and Art from World War II, and has graciously permitted me to share it here.

Aunt Flo served in the Women’s Army Air Corps as an air traffic controller in Arkansas and Texas. Art served in the United States Navy as a radio operator in the Pacific theater.

The Marriage of Robert Salyer and Earlie Bays, 1908

I have been bedeviled for the better part of a year trying to find a record of the marriage of my great-great-grandparents, Robert Salyer (often mis-spelled Salyers) and Earlie May Bays (often mis-spelled Bayes).

I had entertained the thought that there might not have been a record, after searching the Scott County, Virginia marriage books several times and failing to find what I was looking for.

I learned this evening that the marriage books for Sullivan County, Tennessee are online. To get to them, go to this link and click “View Old Index Books.”

I had inferred based on the U.S. Census records that Robert and Earlie were married sometime between 1905 and 1910, and so I searched book 2b, which covers 1906 through 1911. I found a listing in the index for that book on index page 30:


I then turned to page 66 and found my great-great grandparents on the first line of the page:


As shown in the record, Robert Salyer and Earlie Bays were married in May 1908 (probably May 25th, although the handwriting is a bit hard to decipher) in Sullivan County, Tennessee by J.A. Pendergrass, a minister of the gospel (that appears to be what “M.G.” stands for).

I did some research and found that Rev. Pendergrass is listed in the 1908 edition of the The Holston Annual which is the official record of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South). He is listed on page 5 as being an Elder from Blountville:


As was often the case then, there was a bondman, an E.M. McMurray. I am not sure who exactly this was, but there were a significant number of McMurrays in the Fulkerson District of Scott County, Virginia in the 1910 Census. As noted elsewhere, the Fulkerson District is in southeast Scott County, stretching from Hiltons eastward toward the Washington County line along the North Fork of the Holston River.



Della Ann (Mills) Archer, 1894-1989

My great-grandmother Della Ann Archer (Mills) died when I was a child, at the age of 94.

She was born on 20 November 1894[1] in Piney Flats, Tennessee to James P Mills and Mary O. (Hodges)[2]. Some older sources[3] refer to her as “Ida Della Mills” but she is clearly identified as “Della A.” in the 1900 Census[4]. She married my great-grandfather Robert Taylor Archer, Sr. on 18 September 1915 in Washington County, Tennessee.[5]

Her obituary from the Kingsport Times-News is reproduced below.[6] Note that Robert T. Archer died in 1968, not in 1972 as is erroneously stated here.[7]

She is buried alongside my great-grandfather in Oak Hill Cemetery in Kingsport.[8]


Della Ann Archer

Della Ann Archer, 94, formerly of 923 Elizabeth St., died at 10:45 p.m. Monday (March 6, 1989) at Anderson Health Care Center, Gray, after a long illness.

Born in Piney Flats, she had lived in Kingsport since 1919 and was a member of Community United Methodist Church. She was also a Missions Outreach Shut-In of Stateline Baptist Church.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert T. Archer, Sr., 1972; a daughter, Geraldine (Jerry) Archer, 1976; two sons, Harry P. Archer, 1979 and Hunter A. Archer, 1972.

Surviving are two daughters, Ms. Betty Brewer and Mrs. (Emma Lee) Jack Gardener, both of Kingsport; four sons, Robert T. Archer, Jr., Daniel W. Archer, Aaron A. Archer, all of Kingsport and B.F. Archer, Corbin, Ky.; 14 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours are from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Oak Hill Funeral Home where services will be conducted at 8:15 p.m. with Dr. Tony Gonzalez and the Rev. Mark Stayton officiating.

Graveside services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday at Oak Hill Cemetery.

[1] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. Number: 411-27-9920; Issue State: Tennessee; Issue Date: 1977.
This is also confirmed by her death certificate, referenced elsewhere.

[2] 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.Year: 1900; Census Place: Civil District 20, Sullivan, Tennessee; Roll: 1601; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0124; FHL microfilm: 1241601.
See also death certificate but notice mistaken last names.
Mary’s maiden name is known by family tradition.

[3] See here.

[4] See note 2.

[5], Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950. “Tennessee, Marriages, 1796-1950,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Aug 2014), Robert Archer and Dellie Mills, 18 Sep 1915; citing , Washington, Tennessee, reference 2:2BLVNLC; FHL microfilm 825508.

This is confirmed by the 1 Oct 1965 edition of the Kingsport Times, which ran a story about their “recent” 50th anniversary. “Archers Celebrate Golden Anniversary”, Kingsport Times, 1 Oct 1965, p. 7.

[6] Obituary, Kingsport Times-News, 8 March 1989, p. 4B.

[7] See here.

[8] The site notes that they are buried in the Everlasting Life section of the cemetery.

Robert Taylor Archer, Sr., 1896 – 1968

My great-grandfather Robert Taylor Archer, Sr. was born on 4 May 1896 in Johnson City, Tennessee.[1]

He was the oldest of the children of Daniel Webster Archer and Maude McKamey. The photo-painting below shows Robert as a child.

scan0003 (1)


My great-grandfather died nearly 15 years before I was born. His obituary is printed below.[2]


I have transcribed it as follows:


Robert T. Archer

Robert T. (Bob) Archer, 72, 923 Elizabeth St., died at 11:55 p.m. Saturday in Holston Valley Community Hospital following a brief illness.

Born in Sullivan County, he had spent his entire life in the Kingsport area. He attended the Community Methodist Church and was a retired carpenter contractor.

Surviving are his widow, Della Archer of the home; three daughters, Miss Geraldine Archer, Mrs. Jack Gardner, Mrs. Frank Brewer, all of Kingsport; six sons, Harry of Yuma, Va., Dan, Aaron, Robert Jr., of Kingsport, Hunter of Sanford, Fla., Buddy of Chattanooga; one brother, Fred of China Grove, N.C.: two sisters, Mrs. Nell Merck and Mrs. Frankie Mann, both of Kingsport ; and 12 grandchildren.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Hamlett Dobson Funeral Home chapel with the Rev. Charles Lockerby, the Rev. Wrightly Salling, and Major Earl Short In charge.

Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery.

The body will remain at the funeral home where the family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. today.


[1] Despite the obituary, numerous sources attest to the fact that the Archers resided in Washington County, Tennessee at this time. See for example Robert’s World War I draft card, where he stated “Johnson City, Tennessee” in response to the question “where were you born?”. Because he registered in Sullivan County, there would be no reason to “approximate” his birth location. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Registration State: Tennessee; Registration County: Sullivan; Roll: 1877694.


[2] Note that the actual date of death was May 25. Obituary. Kingsport News. 27 May 1968. p. 4.