George Stevens Whitehead

There are all kinds of records that a genealogist collects in hopes of forming a picture of a family member.  The easiest to find are census records.  These types of  records provide us with a ton of information.  The US Census changed the format and types of questions they asked over the decades.  So, with each census you will get different information.  In addition to census records, we can get cemetery records, photos of headstones, court records, military records, and vital records to name a few.

One of the records I have recently found was that of a passport for my Grand-Uncle, George Stevens Whitehead.  George Stevens Whitehead was my Grandfather’s brother.  He was also a Rhodes Scholar.  His passport application shows that he planned to board the New Amsterdam out of New York Harbor on 3rd October 1916.  He was only 20 years old.  I can only imagine the emotions he had prior to leaving on that ship.  Presumably he graduated and returned to the United States.  In 1920, George shows up in the US Census, living back at home.  He is listed as not working.  By the 1930 Census, he is listed as a Lawyer working in San Mateo, California.  He is listed as a lodger.  He is listed as a Veteran of WWI.  In 1940, he is also listed as a Lawyer working in San Mateo, California.  At this time he is 44 years old.  He is also listed as single.

George Stevens Whitehead died 24 January 1946 in Bay Pines, Pinellas, Florida.  He was only 49 years old.

George S. Whitehead Passport

George S. Whitehead

Below is his obituary from the Danielsville Monitor, but you can’t believe everything you read in the paper.  They put that Joe Whitehead was of Chicago.  Fred Whitehead was from Chicago.  Joe, Walter Joe Whitehead, lived in Carlton, Georgia.

Danielsville Monitor, 1 February 1946 SERVICES HELD LAST FRIDAY FOR GEORGE S. WHITEHEAD George Stevens Whitehead, 50, former resident of Carlton, died last Thursday at the Veterans Facility in Bay Pines, Florida. Services were conducted from the Carlton Baptist Church last Sunday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock. Mr. Whitehead is survived by his father, Walter E. Whitehead; two brothers, Joe Whitehead, Chicago, IL; sister, Miss Martha Whitehead, Carlton; five nieces and nephews. He was born January 26, 1896 and attended Gordon Institute in Barnesville before entering the University of Georgia in 1912, where he was such a brilliant student it is doubtful if his scholastic achievements have ever been equaled. He completed the Bachelor of Arts degree course in three years and graduated in 1915. The next year he completed work for, and received his Master of Arts degree. While at the University he was a leader, not only in scholastic attainments but also in various campus and student activities, being especially outstanding in public speaking. He was one of the most popular students in his class. Mr. Whitehead was a member of Phi Beta Kappa national honorary scholastic fraternity, and went to England as a Rhodes Scholar, studying at Balliol College, Oxford University. He also held a teachers diploma from the University of California and an LLB from LaSalle Extension University. During 1917 – 1919 he served in the armed forces of the nation in the First World War with distinction as a Second Lieutenant. Later he was an Associate in the Department of Public Speaking at the University of California and in 1927 took up the practice of law in Burlingame California, where he resided at the time he became ill.

File at:

I found that online.  It is truly amazing the records one can find.

Until next time, I will continue to explore backwards!

Remembering Lacy

My grandfather (Lacy Luke Sublett) passed away 30 years ago this month.  I was 14 years old when he passed.  His funeral was the first one I ever attended.  I am looking at his funeral card that they gave out that day.  His pallbearers were: Larry Burrus, Joe Cobbs, Bill Driskill, David Foster, Robert Wayne Hicks, Raymond Mayberry and Buddy Scott.  Some of those names are familiar to me as they are family names.  Some names are unfamiliar.  I wonder how Lacy knew them.

Lacy Luke Sublett was born on 18 May 1909 in Campbell County, Virginia.  Lacy was the 3rd child of 5 children born to John Thomas Sublett and Georgia Kate Holt.  He was also the only male.

Some of my memories of Grandpa include him wiggling his ears.  He would always ask me if I could wiggle my ears.  Try as I might, I could never do it.

Grandpa would always ask me “Do I know you?”, when I replied, that I was his grand-daughter, he would shake his head and pretend he never met me before.

If you know me, you know I was never a cheerleader.  Somehow Grandpa could always get me to do that one cheer.  “Firecracker, Firecracker, boom, boom, boom.  Boys got the muscles, teachers got the brains, girls have the sexy legs, so we win the game.”

My mom discussed a memory of hers when we drove to Virginia.

“I used to go with Daddy on his stores, to a bar type restaurant.  I would sit at the counter while he took an order.  He would get a beer buy me a drink  and a box of pretzels.   pretzels in a square box.  He said to me, are you going to take care of me when I get old.  I said, oh yes, I will buy you a drink and a box of pretzels.   Well, he worked so hard.  And his leg always bothered him.  And I remember, I was so mad one time.  He never did anything in our school functions, of course we didn’t have the sports like they do today.  But, I was in the senior play and I wanted him to come so badly.  It was on a Friday night, and he didn’t go, but he came in long enough to see my part.  I had like two lines, you know.  But as far as taking the time to come and see the play he never did.  He worked a lot of long hours.  He would get up and be at work at 5:30 in the morning, and sometimes he didn’t get home until 7 o’clock at night.  And with his leg he was tired.”  (Source:  Betty Whitehead interview, June 2012).

What memories do you have of Lacy?

Lacy Luke Sublett

Lacy Luke Sublett

Lacy Luke Sublett

Lacy Luke Sublett

Wishful Wednesday

Which ancestors do you wish you met?  Do you wish you could ask them questions about certain things.  I sure do.  Having never met my grandparents (Fred and Margaret) on my paternal side, I think I would have like to have met them.  In particular, Margaret Kersten Whitehead, my grandmother.  She was born 13 March 1906 in Chicago, Illinois.   She died 27 August 1967.  She was only 61 years old.  This was about 16 months before I was born.

I know for part of her life she worked for the railroad.  I have a copy of a W-2 for the year 1950.  It shows that she worked for the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway Company.  I am not sure what she did.  Viv? Leah? Dad?

There is another w-2 that say she worked for the Maywood Park Trotting Association.  That is intriguing to me.  What was my grandmother doing working for the race track?  Maybe she was an attendant, working selling tickets?

Regardless, it was always a little sad, not “knowing” one set of grandparents.

So today, I will think about them.  I will think about how they shaped my father and his sister’s lives.  Jubel! Cheers!

Margaret Whitehead

Margaret Whitehead

Fred and Margaret

Fred and Margaret Whitehead







What’s in a surname?

As I started exploring backwards, I really only knew of two surnames.  My father’s, Whitehead, and my mother’s maiden name Sublett.  What you learn quickly is how these names grow exponentially as you research your family tree.  The difficult thing to do for someone like me (can you say Adult ADHD) is to stay focused on a particular branch and not wonder off onto another branch before it’s time.  I can attest to the many times I have been beckoned out of the office (or Vortex, as Cheryl calls it) and back to the present, that I refocus and ask myself, how did I get on this path.

As we begin to explore backwards together, I am going to try to focus on my primary surnames.  We will see how I do.

I am very fortunate because my Aunt Leah had done an extensive amount of research on the Whitehead and Kersten side of the family.  So, before we get further along, I want to know how thankful I am for her research.

Margaret Agnes Kersten, my paternal grandmother, was born 13 March 1906 in Chicago, Illinois.  Her parents, Peter Kersten and Anna Stalhaber had married 26 December 1903 in Chicago.  According to the 1910 census, both Peter and Anna immigrated in 1893.  But since they were not married at the time, I do not know if they had been engaged in Germany or just happen to meet.

Aunt Leah? Aunt Viv? Dad?  I would appreciate any of your recollections.

Peter Kersten is listed as Single on the 1900 Census.  He is was a boarder and renting a room from John Kalde and his family.  His occupation was that of a Brewer.  John Kalde is also listed a Brewer.  So it is likely, they became friends while working together.  The home is located on Cottage Grove Avenue.

However, after trying to find 2461 Cottage Grove Avenue, I realize that the areas do not match up.  I went to this website,

Here I discovered that the streets in the 1900’s do not reflect the current street map of Chicago.  A more accurate understanding would be to review what enumeration district he was in.  He was in ED 51, the boundaries of which were: E. 24th St., Lake Michigan, E. 26th St., and South Prairie Avenue.  The reason I mention this is as we explore backwards we will see how much or how little the family moved.

In 1910, Peter Kersten is now married to Anna Stalhaber.  Margaret and William Kersten are listed on a census for the first time.  Peter still works as a Brewer.  This time, it is he who is renting out rooms.  There are 3 boarders listed on this census.  Peter’s family lives at 2804 S. Calumet Avenue.

In 1920, Peter and Anna and the two kids are still renting their home.  Peter’s brother John is living with them as well as a nephew, Harry Stalhaber.  They are now living at 2411 South Park Avenue.  Peter is still listed as a brewer.  They have a couple of boarders listed here as well.

According to his WWI, Draft Card, Peter Kersten worked as a Brewer for McAvoy Brewing Company.

Okay, until later where we will explore backwards!

McAvoy Brewery circa 1886

McAvoy Brewery circa 1886

McAvoy Brewery

McAvoy Brewery



“Fun, Fun”

Last June, my sister and I took a trip with mom to Virginia to explore backwards.  Kathy and I arrived separately by plane to Charlotte, and the next day, we got up to make the 3.5 hour trip to Lynchburg.  Along the way, I recorded mom as I peppered her with questions.   During the course of this blog I will post some pieces.

On the subject of finances, mom told Kathy and I the following.

“Carol and I helped with Momma, she (Odelle) wrote in the journal about it.  We knew she could pay her bills, because I was doing most of her finances then as far as…I was her power of attorney for check books, so I knew what she had when I paid the bills and I knew there wasn’t a lot left over for going out to lunch or buying a new outfit.  So Carol and I decided we would chip in and give her $100 month.  Fifty each.  We told her not to use it for anything but fun, fun.  But I tell you, when she died, after we paid everything she had about $80 dollars left.”

My siblings and I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to our parents.  But one of the things that I am the most thankful for is how they have put themselves in a position to plan for their future.

Mom also told Kathy and I:

“We always rented a house, we never owned a house.  Somehow or another , Daddy’s (Lacy) philosophy was if you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it.  Which everyone was coming home from the war (WWII), buying houses.  My dad of course didn’t go to the war because he was injured.  But for some reason, he never owned a house and basically, that was a problem that left my mom without anything because he wasn’t a very good business man.”

1963 Christmas

1963 Christmas



Bourges France

I have a letter from my grandfather (Fred Whitehead) to his younger sister Martha.  It was written 14 August 1919.  Fred would have been 18 years old.  I do not know exactly when he joined the Army but his father, Walter Everett Whitehead, was a very patriotic man.

Dear Martha,

I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I was thinking of you.  I wrote Uncle Joe about a week ago and haven’t heard from him yet.  I intended to go down to see him but I reckon that he was gone to the States as all that have been over more than twelve months are doing.  I like the office very well now but don’t know how I will like it in a month or two.  Where are you going to school this fall?  I don’t reckon you will hardly go off to school but you are ready to go anyhow.  Has Grand Pa bought a Cadillac yet.  Cotton and everything is so big, I reckon he has.  When you write me be sure and give me Uncle Joe’s address for I have lost the one that Aunty Cyn sent me while I was at Camp Meade, MD.  I really don’t think he is over here for I addressed the other as good as I knew how.  Excuse my writing for i am not quire used to using this type-writer.  Look for a letter from you, I am, your loving Brother, Fred.

I love this letter for several reasons.  First, it is one of only a few artifacts that I have of my grandfather.  Granted it is a photocopy of the original.  But, the time this was written, WWI, was over.  The Treaty of Versailles had been signed in June of 1919.  The second reason why I love this letter is you can tell he is a southern man, even if he is residing in France.  Reckon is great jargon.  He is honest about his lack of typing skills.  Third, I can see he has a sense of humor asking about whether Grandpa has bought a Cadillac or not.  The grandpa that he is referring to is Columbus Augustus Stevens.  His Uncle Joe, is Joe Augustus Stevens, who was born in 1888 and served in WWI.  Aunt Cyn, is his Aunt Cynthia Lu “Cynnie” Stevens.  It is my understanding that she was a care taker of Fred to some extent as his own mother had severe arthritis and was bed-ridden.

Here is a picture of Fred Augustus Whitehead looking dapper.

Fred Whitehead

Fred Whitehead


Tombstone Tuesday

It is definitely getting to be summer in Texas.  I think the high today was 96 degrees.  It is not an ideal time to go tramping around a graveyard.  One of the first things I learned about when I started “Exploring Backwards” was the wealth of information you can obtain from a tombstone.  I found a wonderful website that is driven by volunteers requesting people in various parts of the United States take pictures of tombstones of their loved ones.  It is called Findagrave (  It is a great tool, and I have used it several times to look up an ancestor.  I have even gone out and tried to track a few requests down.  I have definitely not done it enough, but I got my mother involved about a year ago.  I know she has done it at least a dozen times.

I have even made friends by doing this.  I put in a request for a cemetery in Amherst County, Virginia, and I met Rita and Bill that way.  I put in a request for the Matthews name in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, and met Carl.

The first tombstone pictures I took is when I went to Chicago for a genealogy field trip.  Aunt Viv and I went down to the old neighborhood, the old Church, etc.  We also went to the cemetery where her parents and grandparents are both buried.

I have included a photograph of the tombstone of Peter and Anna Kersten, my great-grandparents on my father’s side.  I remember that day well, it was about 30 degrees cooler on an October day.  That is a much better time to go graveyard stomping.  Until next time.  Krista

Peter & Anna Kersten

Peter & Anna Kersten