Of apples and trees

Like grandfather, like grandson?

The apple, it is said, doesn’t fall far from the tree.

As a saying, it’s used to indicate that traits we see in the younger folks can often be traced back to the older folks of their family.

If little Johnny is a bit of a hellraiser, well, just look at his Dad when he was a boy. If Susie is a bit of a flirt, well, just remember what her mama was like as a girl.


BertGilbert Fleetwood Cottrell was born on the 10th of October 1892 in Iowa Park, Wichita County, Texas.1 He was the eighth known child of Martin Gilbert and Martha (Johnson) Cottrell — and The Legal Genealogist‘s great uncle, older brother to my grandfather Clay Rex Cottrell.2

His first appearance in the records is as a seven-year-old in the 1900 census there in Iowa Park, though I’m sure he would have been dismayed to know he’d been recorded as a little girl named Birdie rather than a little boy called Bertie.3 After his parents separated, he lived with his mother and siblings in Tillman County, Oklahoma.4

And in 1913, he joined the Army.5 He spent time in the Quartermaster Corps at Fort Yellowstone, Wyoming,6 before being ordered to the Philippines:

The following named enlisted men of the Quartermaster Corps will be sent to Fort McDowell, Cal., in time to report to the commanding officer and be sent on the transport scheduled to leave September 5, 1914, to Manila for assignment to duty in the Philippine Department in the capacity indicated: …
Private First Class Gilbert F. Cottrell, Fort Yellowstone, Wyo., as packer.7

He was still in the Army in 1920 when he was enumerated at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, as 27-year-old Gilbert F. “Cotterall”, a sergeant in the United States Army, born TX.8 The camp was a military training camp that opened in 1917 to train soldiers for U.S. involvement in World War I. It was closed three years later.

And he was still in the Army when he married a Kentucky girl, Myrtie Hart, in Clark County, Indiana, on the 15th of May 1920.9 That relationship quickly soured, Bert left the Army and went back to Texas, and in 1922, he took out a marriage license in Victoria County, Texas, to marry a German girl, Hertha Musch.10

He and Hertha spent their entire lives in the Houston area. You can find them there on the 1930 census11 and the 1940 census.12 Bert died there 44 years ago today, on 12 July 197013 and Hertha in 1990.14 They’re buried there, in the Earthman Resthaven Cemetery.15

There’s just one hitch.

There’s not a shred of evidence that Bert ever divorced Myrtie.

And, in fact, there’s a wonderful family story that Bert rid himself of this unwanted spouse by simply putting her on a train back to her family with instructions never to darken his doorstep again. And, the story goes on, many years later there was a flap with the Social Security Administration when two women tried to collect benefits as Bert’s widow…16

So what does this have to do with apples and trees?

Well, I’m putting together this talk for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, coming up in August. The title is That Scoundrel George. It’s about Bert’s grandfather, my second great grandfather, George Washington Cottrell. The one who qualifies me for membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

See, all I need to do to join the Daughters of the Republic of Texas is prove that I descend from someone “male or female, regardless of age, who established residence in Texas prior to the nineteenth day of February, eighteen hundred forty-six (19 February 1846).”17

And I can sure prove George was a resident of the Republic of Texas.

I can prove he was indicted by the Republic of Texas.

For bigamy.18

I love my family.


  1. See Draft Registration Card, Gilbert Fleetwood Cottrell, no. U2688 (stamped), Local Board No. 10, Houston, Harris County, Texas; Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration (Texas); Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147; National Archives, St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; digital images, “World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2014).
  2. See 1900 U.S. census, Wichita County, Texas, Justice Precinct 6, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 127, p. 238(A) (stamped), dwelling 86, family 86, “Birdie” Cottrell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Feb 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1679.
  3. Ibid.
  4. 1910 U.S. census, Tillman County, Oklahoma, Frederick Ward 1, enumeration district (ED) 248, p. 41(A) (stamped), sheet 4(A), dwelling 71, family 74, Bert Cottrell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Sep 2012); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1275.
  5. Entry for Gilbert Cottrell, “Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010,” database and index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2014).
  6. See “Washington Army Orders,” Galveston (Texas) Daily News, page 4, col. 3 (“Privates Gilbert F. Cottrell and Charles M. Tellman, quartermaster corps, now in confinement at Fort Yellowstone, Wyo., are assigned to that post”).
  7. U.S. War Department, Special Order 198, 22 August 1914, in Special Orders, 1914, vol. 2 (Washington, D.C. : War Department, 1914); digital images, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : accessed 11 July 2014).
  8. 1920 U.S. census, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Camp Zachary Taylor, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 18, p. 268(B) (stamped), dwelling B79, family 159, Gilbert F “Cotterall”; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T625, roll 577.
  9. Clark County, Indiana, Marriage License and Return, Marriage Book 50: 482, Gilbert F. Cottrell and Myrtie Hart, 15 May 1920; digital images, “Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 11 July 2014).
  10. “Licensed to Wed,” Victoria (Texas) Advocate, 9 June 1922, page 2, col. 3.
  11. 1930 U.S. census, Harris County, Texas, Houston, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 142, p. 158(B) (stamped), sheet 18(B), dwelling 248, family 249, Gilbert F. and Hertha Cottrell; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2014); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 2351.
  12. 1940 U.S. census, Harris County, Texas, Houston, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 258-34, sheet 6B, household 138, Gilbert and Hertha Cottrell; digital image, Archives.gov (http://1940census.archives.gov : accessed 11 July 2014); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 4191.
  13. Texas Department of Health, Death Certif. No. 49224, Gilbert F. Cottrell (1970); Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  14. Social Security Death Index, entry for Hertha Cottrell, Houston, Texas, 1990; database and index, Mocavo.com (http://www.mocavo.com : accessed 11 July 2014).
  15. Earthman Resthaven Cemetery, Harris County, Texas, Gilbert F. Cottrell marker; digital image, Find A Grave (http://findagrave.com : accessed 11 July 2014). See also ibid., Hertha Gertrude Elizabeth Musch memorial # 86911056.
  16. Email, C.C. Barrett to J.G. Russell, 29 Sep 2002.
  17. Membership eligibility,” Daughters of the Republic of Texas (http://www.drtinfo.org/ : accessed 11 July 2014).
  18. Colorado County, Texas, District Court Minute Book AB: 185 (1843); FHL microfilm 1927723.
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15 Responses to Of apples and trees

  1. Elizabeth Ballard says:

    I LOVE IT! I have a few of the trees and apples, too, and quite possibly for the same reason! More will be revealed.

  2. Mary Ann Thurmond says:

    In addition to all the other things our families do for us, they sometimes keep us entertained—both the living ones and the ones who are no longer living!?!

  3. Brenda says:

    I love your family too, Judy :-) It’s great the way you relate your stories and incidents.

  4. Shelley says:

    Love this one too….my great grandmother Elizabeth “Betsy” (Boyer) Worden is my great great grandmother’s second cousin (Lydorianna (Boyer) Worden. Low in behold Lydorianna is Betsy’s mother-in-law! I am so entertained by my family. heehee! Great write up Judy! Keep them coming.

  5. Lee says:

    Please check me on this but in the 1950s, I believe Kentucky had a waiting period and blood test requirement for getting a marriage license. Indiana did not. It was rather common for people in Kentucky who needed to get married quickly to go across the Ohio River to one of several popular places in Indiana where they could get married the same day. If the laws were similar in 1920, this could explain why your ancestor went to Indiana to get married the first time.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I’d have to check the exact laws, but that would be one reason — another possible reason was trying to avoid the military authorities if he needed and didn’t have his commander’s permission to marry. I know at various times they’ve required permission for enlisted men to marry, not sure about this time frame.

  6. Lisa Lisson says:

    Yep, I definitely have some trees and apples in my family line as well. They are so much to research!

  7. We must be cousins for sure. My Grandpa Cottrell became one of the subjects of a thesis for a gal on a study of men who robbed the plains farmers during the depression because the hid their money at home instead of using the banks. Grandpa and two cousins, of course, went west to make their fortune during the depression as “robbers”. They chose a nice farmhouse and robbed a elderly brother and sister. But they were the nice robbers in the research papers. (They were obviously sober during this robbery). The said please and thank you. I am sure that great grandma who would not carry any Cottrell genes, tried her best with her boys and taught them manners at least. But since they were as good getting caught as they were at being stupid, Grandpa took the whole rap and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Since Great Grandma, Jennie had tried to raise her boys right, Grandpa became a favorite of the wardens, trained his horse for him and when the warden shortened his sentence by ten years, gave him a dog to take back home with him.

  8. Grandma was a Blevins and she did not want her sons to be like her wild and woolly kin. A Legal perspective http://www.sharlot.org/library-archives/days-past/pleasant-valley-a-historic-and-legal-perspective/ They lived in Texas and took the feud to Arizona.
    I have come to terms that is was the hell-raisers who blew caution to the wind and went to new lands and the civilized people came later and established the law.

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