Christmas Time 2014

It is that time of year again. Christmas time! I wrote about it last year. If you are new to the blog, check out some of my older posts. Here it is: https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/december-christmas-time/

Between Cheryl and me, we have 10 nieces and nephews. Eighty per cent of them are boys. So, each year we set out to find out what they want. Because we are no longer spring chickens ourselves, trying to keep up with current trends for a group of teenagers (ages 13-22) is filled with some challenges. Cheryl asked her nephews what they wanted via text messages. While one responded with an itemized list, the others were vaguer. So, Cheryl threatened that if you do not give me at least some ideas, you will get just socks and underwear. Needless to say, she got some feedback. But the feedback she didn’t expect was from Grant who stated, “Actually, socks and underwear is a good idea.” Ha. You realize that they are growing up when that is their response.

Regardless, we enjoy shopping for them. Trying to find the right gift to get that heart-felt hug, you know the one that they really mean. Not the forced one that I impose. Ha-ha…it is one of the joys of being an Aunt.

So, I guess this post should have some genealogy in it to make it official.

I thought it would be a good time to pick an ancestor that had a birthday in December. While I was looking, I stumbled onto Timotheus Jane Bailey. She is my 2nd Great Grandmother. In other words, she was my great-grandfather John Thomas Sublett’s mother. Her name appears most often as Timotheus. But on her tombstone it is written Timothia.

Timotheus was born 7 December 1845. This is actually one day before my birthday. She was born to Yancey Bailey and Mary Marshall Cobbs. The family had 14-15 children. President James Polk, the 11th President of the United States had just started his presidential term. Texas becomes the 28th State.

In the 1850 Federal Census, she was living with her parents and siblings on a Farm in Campbell County, Virginia.

In the 1860 Census (Eastern District), Timotheus was 16 years old. The Bailey family was living on a farm in Campbell County. The value of real estate was listed as $2013 dollars and the Value of her father’s Personal Estate was $5580.

As you recall, the Civil War was fought from 1861-1865. Her husband to be, George Bland, was listed on the Civil War Prisoner of War Records. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Five Forks. I have discussed him in a previous blog. See https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/george-bland-sublett/

So, I am unsure how or when they met. However, according to an undocumented source, I have George and Timotheus marrying on 18 Jan 1867. I will have to find the source.

By the 1870 Census (Eastern District), Timotheus was 23 years old. She is married to George Bland Sublett living on a farm with his parents William J Sublett and Sarah, Timotheus also has 2 children, Ida (born 1868) and Emma (born 1869).

In the 1880 US Federal Census, Timotheus was keeping home raising her children. At this point she had 7 children. They are living on a farm in Falling River East (Enumeration District 41), Campbell County.

In the 1900 US Federal Census (ED 22), Timotheus and George are living with her daughter Ida and her family. My great-grandfather John Thomas is also listed as living there. This document contains vital information because it asks the persons whether they were married or not and how many years married. Timotheus and George indicate that they had been married 36 years. So, it puts their marriage date in 1864 or 1865.

Timotheus died on 9 December 1918, two days after her 73rd birthday. She is buried in Gladys, Virginia.

 

Timothia Jane Bailey Sublett

Timothia Jane Bailey Sublett

 

 

 

 

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Mae Elizabeth Sublette

Mae Elizabeth was born on July 4th 1917 in Naruna, Virginia. She was the fourth of five children born to John Thomas and Georgia Kate. She is my Grand Aunt, or simply my grandfathers, Lacy’s younger sister. Georgie as she was called was 34 years old when Mae was born. Claudia, Mae’s eldest sibling was 15 years old in 1917. It is interesting that Larry Burruss informed me that his mother and Pete used an “e” at the end of their name, Sublette. However, my grandfather, Lacy always said they just wanted to be snobbish. This is particularly interesting because there are still Sublett’s that use that spelling including my newly discovered third cousin, M. Sean Sublette.

To give you some perspective, World War I was currently taking place halfway across the world. Woodrow Wilson the 28th President of The United States was in office.

In the 1920 Census, Mae was 2 years old. Her oldest sister Claudia had already left home. The rest of the family lived in Naruna, Campbell County, Virginia. According to this census, George Bland Sublett, Mae’s grandfather, also lived with them.

By the 1930 Census, Mae is 12 years old, she lived with her parents, her younger sister Clarice “Pete.” Sue Holt, Mae’s maternal grandmother is also living with the family. They also have a border, Ralph Dudley, living with the family.

Somewhere along the way, Mae meets John Carrington Burruss. He goes by the name Carrington. I do not know the story of their courtship. Maybe my second cousins can fill us in. I tried to find out from Larry, but he does not remember hearing how they met. But it is clear they married prior to the 1940 Census.

Mae and Carrington Burruss

Mae and Carrington Burruss

Mae and Carrington Burruss 002

Mae and Carrington Burruss

Mae and Carrington Burruss

Mae and Carrington Burruss

 

I do know that their first child, Nashella Sue, was born on October 4, 1938.  According to the City Directory, Mae and Carrington were living at 905 Deoring Street in 1939.

In the 1940 Census, Mae is married to John “Carrington” Burruss. They lived at 905 Deoring Street, Lynchburg. Carrington is working at a Dry Cleaner’s and Mae is at home with her new-born, Nashella. Their second child, Larry Clarke Burruss, was born on November 26, 1940.

Larry and Nashella Burruss

Larry and Nashella Burruss

According to the City Directory, after 1943, the family lived at 1123 Rhode Island Ave, Lynchburg, Virginia.

In the 1940 City Directory, Carrington is working at Adams and Scott’s Dry Cleaners as a Driver. However, in the 1943 City Directory, Carrington is working at Fitzgerald and Burruss Dry Cleaning. This is the business that he owned.

In the 1943 City Directory, we see that Carrington is listed with Fitzgerald as owners of a Dry Cleaning Business at 1400 Main Street.

According to Larry, his father owned a Dry Cleaning business during World War II. He sold the business in 1948 when he went into the automobile business. He did this until he retired in 1975. Larry stated, “He with several partners ran the Kaiser-Frasier-Willy’s Dealership in Lynchburg and then became the American Motors/Jeep Dealers until the mid-1970s when they all retired.”

According to the 1949 City Directory, Carrington worked as a Salesman for Tibbs Motor Company.

 

My hope is to write a synopsis of all these ancestors. If you have additional information, I would appreciate you contacting me.

 

 

 

George Stevens Whitehead (Part 2)

In honor of Veteran’s Day 2014.

George Stevens Whitehead, Part II

I have been pondering something for a while. I discussed in an earlier post that George Stevens was a recipient of the Rhodes scholarship. My second cousin, Joe, recently sent me an email about some research he had discovered about George’s time at Oxford. So, I thought I would look into it a bit further.

The Scholarship was formed in 1903 by the will of Cecil Rhodes for the education of “future leaders for the world who would be committed to service in the public good, and whose interactions in Oxford would promote international understanding.” Since its inception, there have only been 7,603 Rhodes scholarship recipients (Rhodeshouse, 2014). This low number makes this award one of the most prestigious collegiate award in history.

George Stevens Whitehead (passport picture)

George Stevens Whitehead (passport picture)

Essentially, George Stevens was admitted to Balliol College in Oxford, England in 1916. However, shortly after arriving, the United States of America joins the war (WWI). George sails home to join in the conflict. I found his name on the Baltic’s ship manifest. He departs Liverpool and arrives home to the United States at Ellis Island on July 1, 1917. George was making his passage alongside passengers that were immigrating to the United States. I wonder what was going through his young brilliant mind, as he traveled back to the United States to take up arms, like his father and his ancestors did. Was he angry that this conflict was interrupting his studies? Was he glad to have a chance to fight? Did he feel pressure from his father? (Walter Everett was such a patriotic man having fought in the Spanish-American War previously and also served his country in both World Wars.)

George returned home on the Baltic

George returned home on the Baltic

George joined the United States Army and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 313rd Field Artillery with the 80th Division. His service card also indicates that he started with the 87th Division and 335th Machine Gun Artillery. He served overseas from 24 August 1918 to 13th July 1919.  He fought at Argonne and St. Mihiel to name a few.

 

When the war was over, he went back to Oxford to finish his studies. He took a special short degree in Literature and Humanities. After graduating he returned to the United States. He went to California for his health. Apparently he suffered from the same debilitating arthritis that claimed his mother. He was an associate professor at the University of California in the Public Speaking department from 1922-1926. He then became a lawyer and practiced law in San Mateo County California.

In 1942, George was treated at the US Veteran’s Facility in Whipple, Arizona. In fact, his World War II draft card indicates he was a patient at the facility. He was listed as 5’ 9” tall and only 108 pounds. According to the record, George was too ill to contact. The facility completed the document on 28 April 1942.

In July 1944 he moved to a military hospital in Bay Pines, Florida. He subsequently died on 24 January 1946. I wanted to know what he died of at such an early age. I sent away to the Florida Department of Vital Statistics. I was shocked to see that he spent 551 days at the Bay Pines Veteran’s Hospital.

The cause of death was listed as Myocardial degeneration with dilation, Arthritis deformans with secondary anemia (Florida Vital Records).

Essentially he died from a dilated weakened heart muscle. The hospital had performed a surgery on his sinuses but they were unable to control the bleeding afterwards. George also suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis like his mother, however back in the 1940’s they called it Arthritis Deformans.

His body was removed and sent home to Georgia to be buried with the family in the Stevens Family Cemetery at Sandy Cross, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

Below is the obituary that was published:

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.  (You notice that the obituary has errors.  His brother Fred was from Chicago, and his brother Walter Joe was from Carlton).

    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 (Usgwarchives).

 

 

George Stevens Whitehead (Stevens Cemetery at Sandy Cross)

George Stevens Whitehead (Stevens Cemetery at Sandy Cross)

 

Sources:

Rhodeshouse, 2014 retrieved on 10/25/14 at http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk

Florida Vital Records

US Archives, retrieved on 8/21/2009 at http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/madison/obits/w/whitehea5570gob.txt

A sister

Our roots say we are sisters, our hearts say we are friends. ~Unknown

I have been thinking about the special relationship that sisters have with one another. I have a very special one with my sister. It is interesting since we are 5 years apart; we did not spend a great deal of time with each other growing up. I would have to say grammar school was the only time we were in the same school together. I do not actually recall that, but I think it is true. We just did not have the same circle growing up. I was closer in age to both my older brother (3 years) and my younger brother (3 years). However, brothers are different. I will explore that another day.

 

The first time I truly remember my sister becoming my friend is when we went clothes shopping. When I went off to college, my sister was planning her wedding. I was to be the bride’s maid. I would come home on some of the weekends to partake in certain wedding rituals and we became closer. She was married and moved to Chicago. She would send me care packages. I went to visit her in Chicago we would become closer. She had children, and I became an Aunt, we became closer still. To this day, I would have to say that aside from my partner in life, my sister is my best friend. I can call her, text her, send her goofy pictures and she “gets me.” She does the same. I feel sorry for people who do not have that special relationship with their sibling.

Sisters are true blessings. They can be our friends, confidants, nemesis, and a host of other adjectives. I am fortunate that all of my adjectives are positive. There are families that are not as fortunate.

Kathy and I (Christmas 1970)

Kathy and I (Christmas 1970)

 

I have seen great quotes about a sisters bond. I put a few here to paint that picture.

“I smile because you are my sister, I laugh because you can’t do anything about it.’

“In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips.”

“Side by side, or miles apart… we are sisters, connected by the heart.”

“Life made us sisters, love made us friends.”

“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams.”

 

My mom has an older sister, Carol. They are exactly two years apart. I mean it. Mom was born on Carol’s 2nd birthday. I am sure that was a stinker to little Carol, having to share her birthday with this new baby. I have heard some good stories about the two of them over the years.

Carol and Betty 1955

Carol and Betty 1955

One of my favorites was the imaginary line they would have on the bed they shared. Or the fact that they would snicker over who would be the last one to say “good night.” Carol told me in an email that she liked playing dolls more than Betty. My mom was into cowboys and Indians.

1-Mom and Carol 3

Betty and Carol 2012

My grandmother had sisters too. We will explore those another day.

On my father’s side, he had two sisters, Vivian and Annette. I know they have a special bond as well. In fact, once when Viv went to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky for missionary work, she gave me a portrait of Mary Cassatt’s 1884 painting of Children on the Beach for safe keeping. Annette got upset because this portrait represented their relationship as sisters. I gave the portrait back to Viv. I think she was forgiven.

Mary Cassatt  1884

Mary Cassatt 1884

Annette and Vivian

Annette and Vivian

Annette and Vivian 2014

Annette and Vivian 2014

So, if you are reading this and you have a special bond with your sister, give them a call, write them a note. Let them know what they mean to you. Kathy, I know you will read this. Thank you for being the great sister that you are. I wouldn’t choose anyone else, even if I could!

 

 

Sisters

Sisters

 

 

 

 

Mary Elizabeth Whitehead

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. My father’s cousin, Betty Whitehead Sweeny died suddenly this past week. Betty was technically my first cousin once removed. It was weird to address her as such, so I called her Aunt Betty. I did not know her well. But, I felt that she was a key connection to my father’s side of the family.

You see, my father’s father, Fred Whitehead, joined the Army as a young man and essentially never returned home. He met and fell in love with a city girl, Margaret Kersten. I do know that the family did take family trips to Georgia over the years, but it is not the same as remaining geographically close with family. Betty was born Mary Elizabeth Whitehead on 14 September 1927 to her parents Walter Joe Whitehead and Emma “Chloe” Adams. She was the second child born to this union. We know a lot about her early life as her mother, was the family historian. Her children Mae and Betty published The Adams Family  James Adams Line upon her death.

In that book a classmate had written in her Wesleyan Annual, “In Betty, we find a combination of ideal standards, quiet understanding, loyalty and dependability all rolled into one. Outstanding in all athletics, Betty is a living example of one who has the courage of her own convictions, and her sincere friendliness is felt by all who know and love her. ..Those who know her well can see clearly personified in her a ‘wagon hitched to a star (p. 324).’ ” As I reflect on this quote, I bet people would say the same thing about her today 67 years later.

When I began to explore backwards this was one of the key books that I used for my information and inspiration. I guess that is why I feel like I knew her more than I actually did. I learned that Betty was on email, so I began a written correspondence with her. While she provided me with some good information, I always got the feeling that she just didn’t slow down often. She was always on the go or taking a nap (which who can blame). In my last email from her 25 August 2014, she stated “I have had many days to get with you in the past years and have taken naps instead.  This is not JUST YOU –I am guilty with everyone.”

I regret never making a visit to the family home before she passed. Believe me, it will be a regret that I will have to live with.

In an email she wrote to family after the passing of her sister, Mae, she talked about being prepared to lose someone. “God prepared me for losing Mae through my listening now and in the past month to Billy Graham’s book “Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well”.   I will listen again.”  I think I will have to take a look at that book.

 

Mae and Betty Whitehead

Mae and Betty Whitehead

For those of her that knew Betty, I am so sorry for your loss. I know she will be missed by all who loved her.

 

Betty Whitehead Sweeny

Betty Whitehead Sweeny

 

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead was born 6 October 1898 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Walter went by the name Joe. His father’s name was Walter Everett. Joe is my Grand Uncle. He was the brother to the grandfather that I never met (Fred Whitehead).

I am fortunate to know so much about Joe, due to the genealogical book that his wife, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead compiled prior to her death.

According to Aunt Chloe, “Joe attended grammar and high School in Carlton…He graduated from the High School division of Gordon Military College in June 1914 (Whitehead, 1983, p.285).”

His college life was interrupted by World War I. Joe was one of the Army’s six-month wonders. He rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the infantry. You can read more about this phenomenon here: http://blog.pressrepublican.com/archive/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46960:%27plattsburgh_idea%27_helped_prepare_u.s._for_wwi&catid=34:news-articles

Joe eventually graduated from the University of Georgia following the war in June 1920.

University of Georgia Graduation

University of Georgia Graduation

Several pages in this book give the readers a close glimpse into the courtship of Joe and Chloe. My favorite is the where she describes sitting in the lobby of their hotel following their marriage. The bellhop walked through repeating several times that there was a call for Mrs. Whitehead. Not familiar to answering to that name, Joe had to tell her that she was wanted on the telephone (Whitehead, 1983).

Joe worked at as the bookkeeper for the Stevens-Martin Mercantile. This business owned five cotton gins, two in Carlton (Madison County) and three in Oglethorpe. The store was eventually closed in 1962, after farming of cotton and corn had diminished.

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Joe was elected to the Madison County Board of Education in 1934. Although he was very civic-minded like his father, he never went into politics like his father. Joe had many friends that were into politics. Joe retired from the Madison County Board of education and became a member of the Georgia School Board Association in 1964. Joe was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Governor Earnest Vandiver’s staff in 1959.

In his mid-sixties, Joe’s health deteriorated. He was initially diagnosed of having a paralyzed left vocal cord. He ultimately was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died 17 May 1965 at the age of 66. My father, Larry Whitehead was one of the pallbearers as was Joe Augustus Stevens, Junior, my dad’s cousin.

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

(Source: The Adams Family James Adams Line, 1795-1982, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead, 1983.)

Join me next time as we continue to explore backwards.

Mathias Kersten

Mathias Kersten (my second great-grandfather)

Mathias was born to Daniel and Margaretha Gierten on 24 March 1843 in Manderfeld, now Belgium. He was baptized at the St. Lamertus Parish in Manderfeld. We will explore St. Lambertus in more detail at a later time.

St. Lamberts Church

St. Lambertus Church

In order to understand my family history, I have had to learn about the history of my ancestors. For my ancestors lived through a tumultuous time. The borders are the remains of history and the symbols of the struggles faced.  As I have mentioned before, I am grateful for the research done by my genealogical minded ancestors.

If you look on a map for the Eifel region, you can see that it west of the Rhine River. As we zero in on the Hamlet of Hergersberg and nearby Manderfeld (both are today on the Belgian side), we begin to learn much about our German roots.  The village of Manderfeld  is located in the eastern tip of eastern Belgium.

Mathias had four siblings, Gertrud, Magdalena, Peter (not my grandfather), and Wilhelm. Mathias was the oldest son, and according to “Stockerbenrecht”, (the practice where family property could not be divided and only one son or one daughter inherited the property. According to Agnes Perings (my second cousin, one time removed), “most of them remained single, stayed in the house and went on working with the rightful heir” (p. 7). Or they moved outside of the village. This is one of the reasons people from this region moved to the Ruhr region, where they could work in more urban areas or the mines of Northwest Germany.

Mathias grew up in Manderfeld. It is likely he took over the family farm, as so many of the families did in those days. His older brother Peter immigrated to the United States in 1887 (we will talk more about him in a later post).

Mathias and Anna Maria Kersten

Perings wrote that Anna-Maria and Mathias lived in the house Buresch after getting married, then they build the house of Kersten in 1873 (Perings, 1990). Anna-Maria and Mathias had nine children. Their oldest son Peter (my great-grandfather) immigrated to the United States, followed by his younger brother Hubert. Mathias died in January 1905 at the age of 61. Below are there children:

Margaretha, the eldest daughter of Mathias and Anna-Maria went to the Ruhr Region; she died at the age of 32. She married Aloys Heitkamp

Christoph the second child to Anna-Maria and Mathias died at the age of four.

Peter (my grandfather) immigrated to the United States

Johann Peter died at 13 years old

Maria stayed in the House of Kersten and married Kaspar Perings

Wilhelm-died at age 3

Magdalena married Aloys Heitkamp they went to live in Castrop (Ruhr Region) (not quite sure if this is the same Aloys as her sister married).

Katharina-died at age 9, by diphtheria

Johann-Hubert-emigrated to Chicago married Emma

 

I plan to write more about these ancestors.  Join me as I continue to Explore Backwards!

 


 

Source:

Ancestors and descendants of Mathias Kersten and Anna Maria Reiter by Agnes Perings, 1990.