Easter Time

There was about 400 miles between where we lived and where my Nordmark cousins lived. It was at Easter time that our two families got together. My Dad’s sister, Annette married a great guy, Don and together they had 5 children. Combine that with my family of 4 children, you had a full house come Easter weekend.

I believe we alternated years. One year the Whitehead’s would load up in the station wagon and make the trek to a northern Chicago suburb. The next year, the Nordmark’s would come down to a Cleveland suburb. I recall them having a van. Our parents must have done this because they realized how important family is to the development of children. Why else would they torture themselves for that trek? If you recall this was before video games, etc. So, I am not even sure what we did to keep ourselves occupied for 5 or 6 hours.  Do you?

Whitehead-Nordmark Family

Whitehead-Nordmark Family

Easter Morning

Easter Morning

Whitehead-Nordmark Easter

Whitehead-Nordmark Easter

I think it is important to have interactions with your cousins. We share a similar family history. They are usually our first friends as children. They are the only ones to understand your crazy family. We each had a least one or two cousins that were of similar age. Jeff, the oldest, didn’t have anyone close to his age, and Joe(y) didn’t have one close to his age, but otherwise we had instant friends all weekend.

In our family, everyone remembers the famous Easter outfit that cousin Aimee wore one year. She was a box of Sun-Maid Raisins from head to toe. Otherwise known as the Sun-Maid girl, I have looked for the picture with her in full attire but I cannot find one, so below is the only one that I have. Maybe one of my cousins will share with me.

Joe, Krista and Aimee

Joe, Krista and Aimee


So Happy Easter family, if you recall other Easter memories, please feel free to comment here. Until later, I will continue to be exploring backwards.







Was the family divided?

There are notes in my family history that there were 2 brothers that fought for the Confederate States of America and another brother that fought for the Union. I have not yet reached the same conclusion, but I hope by writing about them here is that family members might be able to fill in some gaps. I do know that George Wiley and Elijah Dean were both soldiers for the Confederates. William Franklin fought in the Mexican American War.

Joel Whitehead married Mary Polly O’Kelley. Together they had five sons and seven daughters. For this post, I am just going to focus on the brothers.

What I do know about the Whitehead brothers:


  • Samuel, Joel’s oldest son, was born about 1821 in Oglethorpe County. He was named after Joel’s father. The last census record that I find him in 1860; he is living in Oglethorpe County, with his wife Savenia. He is listed as a living next door to his mother as a farmer and they show no children residing. He is aged 39 years.
  • William Franklin born about 1826 in Oglethorpe County, he married Pamela Fannie Jones. According to his tombstone, he was in the Mexican American War. This war was between 1846-1848. He fought with Captain Loyall’s Company, the Georgia Mounted Volunteers. The 1870 Census shows William aged 43 with his wife keeping house in Starkville, Oktibbeha Mississippi. It shows that his three children Robert, Margaret and Lasella were born in Mississippi. However, by 1880, the Pamela and her children are back in Georgia, and she is listed as a widow.
  • George Wiley was born 26 January 1829 in Oglethorpe County. George served in the Confederate Army. He was also a County Surveyor. See my previous post (https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/george-wiley-whitehead/)
  • Elijah Dean was born 23 October 1833. He was the fourth son born to Joel and Mary. I have records showing him also fighting for the CSA. He was a Private for the 38th Regiment Georgia Infantry.
  • Charles E. was born in 1841. In the 1880 Census, Charles is listed as blind and living with his brother Elijah in Jackson County. In addition, he is also found on the 1880 Non-population Census for Georgia; Schedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes.


Union Soldier Button

Union Soldier Button

csa button

Confederate States of America Button


If any of my readers have information about any of these brothers, I would love to hear from you. Until later, I will continue to explore backwards.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I am going to Georgia on a genealogical journey!  I am going to be ‘exploring backwards’ in the exact same places of some of my oldest ancestors. I am going to meet some extended family along the way.

Why do genealogists like to go on these adventures? Well, unbelievably, not everything is on the internet. You have to get out from behind the monitor sometimes to see what all there is to explore.

I have written on this blog before about some of the places I would like to explore, homesteads, churches, and cemeteries, etc.

Two family homes in Oglethorpe and Madison County come to mind. My recent connection with Sara (my second cousin) has me more curious than ever. Her and her brother, James, own the two family homes that I have been interested in revisiting.

Sara wrote in her last email that the Carlton house was built around 1919-1920. Luna May died on 16 July 1921. “The house was designed by her around her…Papa never finished the upstairs.”

I did know that the house was designed with her (Luna May) in mind due to the debilitating arthritis she had. I also knew that I had stayed at the house when we went to visit in the early 1980’s. But, I didn’t know that the upstairs had not been finished. As a child, we do not look at those things. I remember it being the biggest house I had ever been inside. It was so grand and stately.

Walter and Luna May

Walter and Luna May Whitehead

There seems to be some confusion as to the original Whitehead owner of the Whitehead Homeplace and when exactly it was built. According to the book that I used previously the original owner was Samuel Whitehead (Rogers, 1971). I just assumed since it was directly in my family tree that it made sense that it was Samuel Whitehead (1760-1844). But it could have been Joel’s son Samuel (1821-unknown). However, on my copy of the book, there is a handwritten note by Martha W. Moore that states it was built by George Wiley Whitehead. This makes more sense to me as this was Walter’s father.

Whitehead Homeplace (Rodgers, 1971, p69)

Whitehead Homeplace (Rodgers, 1971, p69)

There are some deed books and marriage books in the local court houses that are calling on me. I would like to figure out once and for all who was the original owner of this homestead.




Source: The Housing of Oglethorpe County, Georgia 1790-1860, Ava D. Rodgers,
Publisher: Florida State University Press, Tallahassee, 1971
St. Petersburg Printing Company, St Petersburg FL
Page 69




BSO and a story from Martha


This is an acronym for Bright Shiny Objects. An infliction that I have always had but festers more when I am researching backwards. I recently received a twenty page document from my cousin, Sara. This document contains many stories that my Grand Aunt, Martha Ann Whitehead Moore wrote before she passed away. It is a treasure trove of family history and the stories that bring these family members to life. It is one of the best BSO’s I have had in a long time.


Martha wrote, “family stories that should be handed down from generation to generation.” That has been my goal with my blog. I always encourage family members to contribute their memories.

Here is an example of one of the stories. I have only corrected any grammatical errors that I found and added full names for clarification when necessary.

This happened on October 8, 1908

Faith in Grandpa Restored

I was born in 1904, the daughter of Christian parents, and my grandparents were of very strong Baptist faith. My mother was a victim of rheumatoid arthritis, so I lived with my grandparents.

My grandmother [Martha Witcher Stevens] died when I was 3 years old. My childhood from then on was under the control of my grandfather and two “old maid” aunts (Cynnie and Pellie). They instilled in me the danger of cursing and using foul language.

When I was four years old on two occasions I heard my Grandfather [Columbus Augustus “Gus” Stevens] use words that I considered foul. One was at 6:30 P.M. when we went to “slop the hogs.” He said, “Dog-gone the pigs,” when they splashed his Sunday-go-to-meeting trousers.

Then at 9:00 P.M. that same day he heard some neighbor-hood teen-aged boys in his ribbon-cane patch. They were swiping a few stalks (which he would have gladly given them). He said, “Dog-gone the boys.”

That was it – the straw that broke the camel’s back! My grandfather had cursed. I just knew he was headed downward – straight to the devil. I cried myself to sleep that night.

The next day I told my old maid aunts about the two “Dog-gones” I had heard. They assured me that the language was not strong enough to sentence my grandfather to everlasting punishment. So I ran to the front yard and started walking in his foot-steps again.

I continued to try to follow his examples and have used them to guide me all the way to 91.

The End.


I do not have a picture of my Grand Aunt, or I would post it here. I love this story for a variety of reasons. One, it shows her admiration for her grandfather.  Additionally, in less than 300 words, we learn about her childhood and what type of person she became.

Until later, I will continue to explore backwards.


Whitehead Homeplace*

One of the interesting things about genealogy is the property and homes of our ancestors.

Samuel Whitehead, my fourth great-grandfather, built a home in Oglethorpe County before his death in 1844.  I visited it when I was around 10 years old.  My Dad and his sister’s arranged a trip for all of us to go there.  It was a fun trip.  However, I was too young to appreciate exactly what I was seeing.  It is my understanding that home is still there today. I am planning on visiting it this year if possible.  If you look closely at the picture, you can see my toe headed younger brother, Joey.

Tour of the Homeplace

Tour of the Homeplace

I have this photocopy of an article or a book without a citation that actually describes the house that he built. I am in desperate pursuit of the origin of this book with the complete citation (if you know where this came from, please let me know). But in the meantime, listed below is the description:

Whitehead House: Grove Creek District

The original owner of this house, Samuel Whitehead, probably had it built before 1844. The house is more than a 100 years old, according to local tradition, and is one of the three known to have been built under the direction of Henry Paul.

The plan of this house was unusual in Oglethorpe County. It suggests an elaboration of a “possum trot” or “dog run” plan of North Carolina. The second floor is divided into two sections, one side for the girls in the family , the other side for the boys (Source: Unknown)

Whitehead House: Grove Creek District

Whitehead House: Grove Creek District

The description goes on and on. However, this is when things get a bit confusing.

I have article that was published in North Georgia Life by the wife of my Grand Uncle, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead. In this article, she writes that “Cena and George Whitehead (my 2nd great-grandfather designed a box-like staircase on each side of the entrance hall. One strictly for the girls — the other strictly for the boys. (Source: North Georgia Life, February 17, 1965).”

Whitehead Homeplace

Whitehead Homeplace

I am not sure which is accurate. Regardless, it is the Whitehead Homeplace. In fact, later in the article, Chloe writes that Walter (my great-grandfather) bought the place after his parents passed away. She writes, “He felt the need of ‘This Old House’, and resolved that it would live much longer. He took ‘time to fix the shingles’, he took ‘time to fix the floor.’ Towards the end of the article, Chloe wrote, “Walter passed away in 1951, leaving the homeplace to his son, Walter Joe of Carlton, whose intention is to honor his father’s oft-repeated and last request, ‘Son, don’t ever sell the homeplace.‘”

The homeplace now belongs to my second cousin after the passing of her mother late last year.

Is there a place that you long to visit of an ancestor?  Why?   What makes it special?

Until next time, I will be exploring backwards.

*I purposely used the word Homeplace because this was the way my great grandfather spoke of it.  Some people would separate the words, or call it homestead.  I chose to use his word. 

The coin purse

Sentimental Sunday

I previously have written about my great-grandmother Carrie Lou Hicks Moss. She was born in 1888 in Amherst County, Virginia. Her birth record states it was April 4, 1888. However, her granddaughter Carol seems to recall that she celebrated her birthday on the first day of spring (March 21). Her death certificate says that her date of birth was 21 March 1889.

My mom moved away after getting married, so we do not have many of the traditional mementos from the family. The same is true on my father’s side. So as a result, I believe my quest for information grew.

When I made my genealogical visit to Virginia in 2012, my Aunt Carol gave me some family keepsakes. Carol gave me the change purse that was in her grandmother’s possession when she died, 6 May 1956.

There is a note that my grandmother, Virginia Odelle, had written. It has sixty-cents in it. She had a 1949 half-dollar, and 10 pennies. (An aside, it was a Ben Franklin, silver dollar and since it was 90% silver, has value in both its history and it’s melt value, but it is not going anywhere.)

Note Odelle wrote

Note Odelle wrote

Carrie Lou's coin purse

Carrie Lou’s coin purse

It is not a historical heirloom by any nature, but it is a piece of both Carrie Lou and her daughter Odelle and even my Aunt. It is a simple sheepskin change purse. That is it. Nevertheless, when I think about the women that carried it, and the women that kept it safe, I cannot help but feel nostalgic. You can envision what type of women they were…sentimental.

Carrie, Odelle and Betty

Carrie, Odelle and Betty

So today, as I got out the coin purse and re-examined the contents, I feel a connection to my family’s history. What do you have that you treasure from your ancestors? Please share.


Until later, I will be exploring backwards!




Genealogy Do Over

Happy New Year!

This year one of the Genealogists that I follow and learn from Thomas MacEntee is leading the charge for genealogists and family historians to take a step back from their research and do a “Do Over.” I am still pretty new at this. Or at least I keep saying this because some of the researchers out there have been doing it for decades. I usually do not write “how to” posts on my blog, because I am not in a position to teach. However, I wanted my readers to know that things might look a little different or I might revisit some ancestors during the next several weeks, or I might not post much at all. It is too soon to tell.

This week we are supposed to do a self interview. I will not post the results as it could lead to identity theft. Suffice it to say, I am missing data in my own nuclear family. So, I might be reaching out to some of you to provide some dates that I kind of know, but are not concrete. Please do not be offended, as I just want to get it right.

I am also supposed to be conducting family interviews. Well, with my work schedule and all, I will likely not be able to keep up on each weekly goal, mine might be a few weeks each.

But, regardless if you see me online or not, know that I am still exploring backwards.

The drinking fountains were so much fun!

The drinking fountains were so much fun!

Some questions I am going to reflect on include, How did I become interested in genealogy? When? What else would you like to ask me?