Patriot Walter E. Whitehead

My great-grandfather, Walter E. Whitehead, was the consummate patriot.  I have written about him several times.  You can read about him here:

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/the-spectrum-of-emotion/

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/what-is-a-quartermaster/

During my last visit to his home, my cousin Sara allowed me to bring home this box of Whitehead artifacts.  I call it that because while it pertains to my family, it is also a part of the American Story.  Take for example this letter to the editor, dated 24 December 1934.  Walter wrote this letter to the Athens Banner Herald in response to a news article they had run.  In this letter he exudes Patriotism.  I am going to give you a few lines here, and then let you read the rest in his own handwriting.

 

“The Legion (American Legion) believes that to protect and preserve union parallel the constitutional rights of its citizens is its first duty.  Our wars have not been fought for gain on territorial expansion but for human rights.  The signers of the Declaration of Independence, the writers of our Federal Constitution, our forefathers who won and established this free government, by force of arms have committed to our charge and keeping a great heritage (Walter E. Whitehead personal papers).”

“The Legion is proud of the courage and achievements of American Soldiers.  They have displayed heroic virtues on the field of battle and they are determined to pay them homage.  And it is their further purpose to instill in the minds of the coming generations, patriotic love for their country and its institutions (Walter E. Whitehead personal papers).”

My favorite line is “Our wars have not been fought for gain on territorial expansion but for human rights.”

Walter was a leader of men.  Recall he was a Georgia State Senator on two occasions.  He was also Commander of his American Legion Post, Rotarian President, Quartermaster, Major, Business Leader.  He also found a way to serve his country in three wars.

There are more speeches in this box, I will post some more later.

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Side Note:  Please take the time to look at the letterhead.  This letterhead is a story in and of itself.  For example, take the statement of goods: Guano, Wagons, Farm Implements and Cotton Buyers.  All of these items seem pretty normal in terms of a General Merchandise Store, however, guano sticks out.  I have only known guano to be bat poop.  But it turns out it was used extensively in the 19th and 20th century of farming.  See, a whole new post….if you can’t wait to learn more about guano, I found an article here:  https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/when-the-western-world-ran-on-guano

Additionally, please look at the members of the Stevens, Martin & Company.  This is the first time that I have seen my 2nd great-aunts, Cynnie and Pellie Stevens on letterhead.  I have heard that they helped the family immensely and neither of them ever married.

Family if you have stories to add, please feel free to comment here!  This is why I do this.

Until then, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Krista

 

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William J. Sublett

William J. Sublett was my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was the third child born to Matthew and Frances (Key) Sublett about 1808 in Campbell County, Virginia.  Notice I do not have an exact date of birth.  This date is extrapolated from US Census records.  I started this post a while ago, then I realized that I had merged different ancestors together.  This is a common error in ancestry especially when the names are similar and born in similar places.

It appears William J. Sublett was married three times.  His first wife was Frances Jennings on 1 June 1834.  We do not know much about her.

William and Frances had a son, Matthew D. Sublett, in 1835.  Maybe Frances dies in childbirth, because William then marries Sarah Hamersley 25 July 1836.  We know these facts because these marriage records have been published.  Sarah and William have two sons and a daughter.  James W. born 1838, George Bland born 1847 and Melinda F. born 1849.

Matthew and George both go to fight in the Civil War.

Matthew was listed as a substitute on the Civil War Muster Rolls  with the 18th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, Company G.  Matthew tragically dies at the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) on 30 Aug 1862.  This means he went in the place of more wealthy draftees.   I will detail his entire story at a later date.  This is very interesting because on the Whitehead side of my family, I have a relative that was not in the Revolutionary war because he was the wealthy one.

George Bland also served in the Civil War. You can read about him here: https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/george-bland-sublett/

Returning to William J. Sublett, he lived a long life.

The 1850 Census is the first US Census with names.  This makes things much easier for the genealogist!  William and Sarah are living in the Northern District of Dinwiddie County with their children Matthew, James, George and Melinda.  William is listed as an overseer.  I presume this means he worked on a plantation as a supervisor over the slave labor.  This is hard to come to grips even 10 years after starting my genealogy journey.  I understand it was a profession of the era in which he was born.  But, I still get a little uneasy writing about it.  But, I am also a believer that we learn from our mistakes.  My father taught me that.

Dinwiddie County

By the 1860 Census, William and his family moved to Campbell County.  The Census indicates he lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County.  His real estate is listed as $970, and his personal estate is listed as $435.  He is listed as a farmer.  He lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County, Virginia with his wife, Sarah, his son George B, his daughter Melinda F.  Also residing in the home is a black male, age 60.  He is not listed as a slave.  His name is listed as Lewis Cobb.  This is important due to the time in which it occurred.  It looks like William had earned enough money to make it on his own.

Campbell County

 

In the 1870 Census, William is living with his wife Sarah.  Also living with them is George Bland (my second great-grandfather), back from the war with his wife, Timotheus Jane Bailey and their two young daughters, Ida and Emma.  The most interesting notation is a young black boy, aged 10 years old living with the family and listed as a nurse on the census.  What does that even mean?  The family is listed as living in the Eastern Division of Campbell County, Virginia.  The listed real estate value is $350 and the Personal Estate is $200.  The value of his real estate had diminished by $600, over 71%.  I believe this is a result of the ravages the Civil War had on the economy.

His second wife, Sarah, dies 11 July 1878.  Two months later William marries again.

At 69 years old, he marries for the third time to Mary Elizabeth Moore on 15 September 1878.  His wife was 45 years his junior.  According to the 1880 US Census.  William, his wife Elizabeth are living in Falling River, Campbell County.  Elizabeth’s younger brother Thomas, 18 was also living there.  Also living in the home was a cook and the cook’s two young sons.  This census does not ask any financial information.

The 1880 Census is the last place I find William Sublett.  He would have been 72, so it is likely he died before the 1890 Census.  I have not found his grave at this point.  But I will keep looking.  It is interesting the life story you can build just by looking at census records and putting them in the context of history.

I will continue to do work on my ancestors.

Until later I will be exploring backwards!

Friday Photos

I hope your holiday season is going well.  I know it has been a while… One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get back on track with my blog.

 

Recently my cousin Andy posted several pictures on Facebook that I had never seen before.  I thought I would talk about a few of them since I hadn’t written in a while.  I have actually been working on a post of my 3rd Great-Grandfather William Sublett.  Midway through my post, I realized that I had merged two different William Sublett’s into one person.  This happens from time to time.  I will have to untangle that web, so I will get back to that after Christmas.  For now, let’s focus on some pictures.  They are much easier and so much more fun.

Sublett Sisters

The first picture is of my grandfather’s sisters.  He was the only boy and 4 sisters.  From left to right, Mae, Claudia and Pete.  According to my Aunt Carol, they all called him Brother.

Say Cheese!

 

I love this picture of my siblings and my grandparents.  We all have our cheesy grins.  I am smiling ear to ear with my two front teeth missing and my younger brother Joe is looking at me.  Look at his hair, he was such a toe-head.  From the looks of the picture, it was probably 1973 or so.

This next picture is of my mom’s sister Carol, her husband Jack and my cousins Andy and Leigh Ann.  The odd thing, is when I remember my two cousins, this is the image that come to mind.  Not the exact image, but their likeness in this picture.  This age if you will.  I believe as we got older, the trips to see each other came less often.  I am so glad that I have been able to reconnect with them both over the last couple years.

Johnson Family

This is still one of my favorite pictures of my grandparents.  Look at Lacy squeezing his wife.  He loved her so much.  That tree is fantastic, look at the ornaments and the tinsel hanging.  This could have been their first Christmas as empty-nesters.  My parents had married earlier that spring.

Lacy loving Odelle

Remember, keep taking pictures but take the time to print them so they will not be lost on old technology.  If you have some old photos, please feel free to send them to me.  I scan them all so we will have them in both technologies!

 

May the blessings of the Christmas Season be yours!

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Photo Frenzy

 

Now that we do not print our photos, what is going to happen to the future genealogists?  This dilemma struck me today.  When technology first changed to digital pictures, people were worried that photos would remain stuck suspended in the users camera forever.  Now, most people take photos with their phone.  What will happen to them?  Do you know where your camera is?  When was the last time you printed photos?

During a recent visit to my sister’s home in Kentucky, I took some photos that our mother had taken out of her photo albums and brought them home to scan.  In doing so, I am able to remember vacations we took or relatives that are no longer here.  I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today.

Girl Power

This is a great picture.  Here is a picture with two of my paternal aunts, my mom, three female cousins as well as my sister and I.  I love this picture because it brings back happy memories of spending Easter with them.  I am not sure if it was every year, but in my memory, each of the families would take turns visiting the other at Easter.  Now, this is no easy feat, their family had five children and ours had four.  In addition, there were over 350 miles that separated us.

 

Larry and Marge Whitehead 1939

This next picture is of Margaret Kersten Whitehead, my paternal grandmother and her son, my father in 1939.  I figure my father was between 2 and 3 years old.  I have seen other pictures with them on the beach, but not this one.  I still do not know where this was taken.  Was this in Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan? If you look at the picture, neither one of them look like they are dressed for the beach.  Did they happen to stop there on the way to somewhere else?

 

Jack & Carol Johnson

I have never seen this picture before.  This is my maternal Aunt and her husband, Carol and Jack.  This was taken in 1965.  When I was a young girl, I used to think that they were so cool.  In my eyes, they were so charismatic and free-spirited.  My Uncle had a MG Midget that was a convertible.  I vaguely recall a VW Beetle, but that could be the memory playing tricks on me.

Larry & Betty Whitehead

Lastly, this picture makes me laugh, because it was probably taken for my father’s birthday.  I am not sure what my mother’s aversion to making birthday cakes, but she did not do it often.  For my 16th birthday, when I fussed about not having a cake, she put a candle in my oatmeal.  So, I think the same thing might have happened in this picture.  The smiles on them are great.  They are really enjoying the joke and we get to have a peak at them.

I hope you upload some of your phone pictures to your favorite photo-printing site and get some printed, soon.  Otherwise, I am afraid nobody will be able to see them.  Remember Facebook and the other social media sites will likely be around when future generations will come looking.

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.  Have a great Thanksgiving.  Remember to count your blessings every day.

 

 

Side Notes

It has been a really long time since I have written about my ancestors (over two months).  We had a Hurricane and a flood in late August.  So, I lost a bit of time with that.  Our home is fine, we did not have any damage.  We were very blessed.  However, we know several people who did.  It makes you wonder about the weather that our ancestors had to endure.  I am not going to go down that rabbit hole at this junction.  But it does make you reflect.

I have also been listening to the book, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  I am not very far along, but in one of the chapters, the author talks about the French Huguenots and their link to a particular individual.  I wrote early on this blog about the French Huguenots and the very strong link we have with them.  You can read about it here:  Huguenot Blog Post

My point is this, just by living we are part of history.  For example, Hurricane Harvey will be discussed and remembered for years and years.  Much like we remember where we were when the Twin Towers fell that fateful day or when the Cubs won the world series.  We are a part of history.  So, it makes sense to wonder what our ancestors must have thought when the first Minie Ball was fired in the Civil War.  Grandchildren might wonder why everyone was fighting over a crusty old military statue, or why the United States Flag is so important to so many people. So, take a few minutes to reflect on what side of history do you want to be on when this chapter is written.

I hope to have some real family history reflections soon.

 

Until then, Go Cubs Go! Go Astros!#hustletown

 

 

Using Census and City Directories

Mom says I have been focusing too much time on my paternal side.  She is right of course!  I guess part of the reason is because of the new Whitehead Archives that I discovered through my friendship with my cousins.  There are plenty of stories and challenges on the maternal side to conquer.  So here it goes.

When first researching an ancestor, you usually start with the US Census records. The US Census is a decennial census written into our Constitution.  This is done to align the seats of the House of Representatives.  If you recall in your history class, each state gets two state senators.  The House of Representatives however is done by census numbers.

 

In terms of genealogy, the census provides the best snapshot of your ancestor over time.  Each Census is different in that different questions are asked.  The United States Census is gearing up already for the 2020 census.  You have to wonder what type of questions they will ask.  Or at least that is what a genealogist wonders.  Long gone are the days of door to door enumerators.  The census is given by US Postal Service.  There are still census takers that go door to door in order to provide for undercounting due to illiteracy, homelessness, etc.

 

A city directory is another gold mine for a genealogist.  Because unlike the census which is done every 10 years, a directory is usually done yearly.  Lynchburg, Virginia has their directories indexed and online.  I am very lucky because a huge chunk of my ancestors lived there.  It is through these records that I can trace my ancestors’ movement over time.  One of the reasons I blog about my ancestors, it helps to see the holes in my research.  Believe me there are plenty of holes in this one.  One of the reasons for the delay is that I have been researching Emma.  There are still holes, but I believe you can begin to see her in context with the life she lived.

Emma Frances Heath is my 2nd great grandmother on my maternal side.  Emma was born 15 June 1862 to William Heath and Rhoda Elizabeth Hyman Heath.  I know little about her parents and will have to research them more in-depth.  However, I want to show you how to track your ancestors through the Census and City Directories.

 

The 1870 Census shows Emma is living with G.B Fergerson and his wife Sally Fergerson.  She is listed as a niece and 10 years old.  Also living in the home is the Fergerson’s 3-year-old son, Stephen and a Farm Hand.  If you noticed the discrepancy in the date of births you are not alone.  Her tombstone has 1862 on it.  It is likely that the census take rounded up or down.  The location is Brookville, Campbell County Virginia.  Her uncle is listed as a farmer.  Because I have not researched this side for very long, I am not sure what happened to her parents.  Her mother seems to have passed away in 1871, Emma would have been 9 years old.  So it seems obvious that Sally was likely Rhoda’s sister.  However, what is not clear is why Rhoda would have died in Dayton, Ohio.  I will have to look into that.  So much genealogy to do, so little time….

In the 1880 Census, Emma is 19 years old, wife to her 28-year-old husband who is working as a farmer.  She has 2 daughters, Annie and Rosa.  They are living next to other family (Hicks) who are also farming.  (Census: Amherst County, 15th District)

By the 1900 Census, Emma is listed as 36 years old, Lemuel is 49.  This census is great because it asks how many children born and how many still living.  She had 10 children.  They ranged in ages on this census from 2 years old to 19.  Her sister-in-law, Mary,  is also listed there.  There are no known families living beside them on this census.  (Census Amherst, 12th District, Pedler).

In the 1910 Census, Emma and Lemuel are now living in the city.  Lemuel is listed as working as a Watchman at the Foundry.  The census asks the same question about children.  This time, Emma is listed as having had 12 children but only 7 are still living.  Three of the older daughters are listed as still living at home and working at the shoe factory.  There are no known families living beside them on this census.  (Census Lynchburg, Independent City, District 87, Lynchburg Ward 3)

In the 1920 Census, Emma and Lemuel are still in the city.  Lemuel is listed as a gardener for the city.  He is listed as 68 years old.  Emma is listed as 57 years old.  Her daughter Iola and her husband Charles Worley are listed as living there.  Charles is working as a shoe maker at the factor and Iola is not working.  There are also two boarders listed (it appears they are married).   (Census Lynchburg, Independent City, District 12, Ward 3)

 

On 29 May, 1923, Emma’s husband, Lemuel dies, he was 74 years old.

 

For the 1930 Census, Emma is listed as living with her daughter Carrie (my great-grandmother) and her family in a rented home at 1715 Main Street.  Thomas, Carrie’s husband is listed as a carpenter for the housing industry.  Emma’s three granddaughters and grandson are also living there, including my grandmother!  James Hicks, her son, is living next door with his wife, Helen.  (1930 Census, Lynchburg, Independent City, Enumeration District 110-21, Ward 3)

In the 1940 Census, Emma is listed as 77 years old.  She is now living with her other daughter Willie and her family at 2014 Tulip Street.  Willie and Clyde Driskill are listed as owning the home.  Clyde works at the US Post Office as a mail carrier.  Also living in the home are their six children, Clyde Junior, Frances, Doris, Daniel, Robert and Ruth.  Also living on the street is Lessie Driskill, Clyde’s sister.  She has their parents Daniel and Emma Driskill living with her.  She is also listed as owning her own house.  She works at the shoe factory.  (1940 Census: Lynchburg City, Lynchburg, Enumeration District 111-25, Ward 3)

Emma Frances Heath Hicks dies on 4 September 1945, she was 83 years old.

 

Below is a timeline that I was able to create from the Lynchburg City Directories.  The abbreviations used did vary within the directories.  The husband’s occupation was usually mentioned.  However, after Lemuel died, Emma was listed as widow.

 

Year Location Other
1907 2113 Elm Av Lbg Fdy Co
1908 2113 Elm Av Lbg Fdy Co
1909 2113 Elm Av Watchman
1910 2113 Elm Av Lbg Fdy Co
1913 2113 Elm Av farmer
1914 2113 Elm Av watchman
1915 2113 Elm Av watchman
1916 2113 Elm Av farmer
1917 2113 Elm Av No occupation listed
1920 2113 Elm Av watchman
1921 2106 Main farmer
1923 2106 Main No occupations any
1924 2106 Main widow
1925 Not found No Data
1926 1721 Liberty widow
1927 1715 Main widow
1928 1715 Main widow
1929 1715 Main widow
1930 1715 Main widow
1931 406 Walnut widow
1932 2014 Walnut widow
1933 2014 Tulip widow
1934 2014 Tulip widow
1935 2014 Tulip widow
1936 2014 Tulip widow
1937 2014 Tulip widow
1938 2014 Tulip widow
1939 2014 Tulip widow
1940 2014 Tulip widow
1941-1944 Missing    
1945 411 Westover Blvd widow

So, if you wandered onto this page for a genealogy hint, it would be to use your US Census and City Directory data to start your ancestor development.

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Surveys and Deeds, Oh My!

 

As we know the history of America has many blemishes; whether it was the treatment of Native Americans, Japanese Americans, or slavery, they tend to haunt us from time to time in your genealogical research.  However, my father always told me that if you “own” the mistake and not justify it, you can learn from them.  So, it is in that spirit that I approach some of the dreadful things I encounter as I explore backwards.

You cannot think about the land in Georgia without realizing these lands came to be inhabited by Anglos due to the removal of the Cherokee Indians.  According to the Georgia Encyclopedia,

“In 1838 and 1839 U.S. troops, prompted by the state of Georgia expelled the Cherokee Indians….The removal of the Cherokees was a product of the demand for arable land during the rampant growth of cotton agriculture in the southeast (Garrison, 2017).”

What happened as a result was a number of land lotteries.  Between 1805 and 1833, Georgia directed eight land lotteries.  The reason this is important to my family is that my 2nd great-grandfather, George Wiley Whitehead, was the county surveyor for Oglethorpe County for several years (between 15-20 years).  It is likely he stepped down as surveyor and became county commissioner in 1885.

GWW 1866 County Surveyor

GWW 1885 County Commissioner

In the archives found at the Carlton Home are dozens of deeds and plats.  Some of them represent his purchases of land.  While others seem to be plats that he drew in his occupation.  Others predate his life and are family records for property we owned at one point in time.  I wish there was an easy way to align the dimensions of the plats with GPS coordinates.  However, since the plat was first drawn the rocks, the persimmon tree and other boundary items have been forever altered.  In this post, I have included a couple of examples and how we can use them to further our genealogical research.

 

Example 1 (plat of Charles O’Kelly land)

The first example of some of the documents uncovered is this plat of the Charles O’Kelly Land.  You can see that some of the boundaries listed are a dogwood tree, sweet gum and chestnut tree.  I doubt that this property could be relocated today.  However, since Charles O’Kelly was my 4th Great-grandfather, and I happen to know where he was buried, we might be able to infer the relative location of his land.  Charles O’Kelley was born about 1756 and died about 1810.

charles okelly plat

Example 2: (1785 Land Grant)

The oldest document that we uncovered is from 1785.  That is 232 years ago!  I am going to let that sink in for a minute….

This document is a Land Grant Warrant from Wilkes County for John McLeroy a tract of 400 acres.  Apparently the land grant did not go into effect until 1792.

The language on the deed gives it such special meaning.

“Given under my Hand, and the Great Seal of the said State, this ninth Day of April in the Year of our LORD One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety two, (unreadable) Sixteenth Year of American Independence.”  How cool is that?  This document was discovered in what I am calling the Whitehead Archives (AKA the Blue Rubbermaid Tub).

When I was in Georgia last, my cousin Charlie and I were going through this box while the others on our expedition were resting up.  I have to admit that Charlie and I got pretty excited about this document.  We made some assumptions that have not been proven.  I am not sure if we will ever be able to determine the relevance to the Whitehead lineage.  We have our ideas.  Is this the location of the original homeplace for the Whitehead’s?  Why was this document in this box?  In my family tree, I have a male ancestor, Anderson McElroy who married Nancy Whitehead in 1826.  I think the names Mcleroy and McElroy could easily been get mixed up.  So many questions.

 

Example 3: (1843 Deed Mary O’Kelly to Polly Crowder Whitehead)

I selected this document because it is more legible than some of the others but it also gives us lots of names.  This document was a Deed of Gift.  In it reads that Mary O’Kelly, the mother of Mary “Polly” Whitehead is giving to her and her children [Martha A Suddeth formerly Martha A. Whitehead wife of Seaborn M. Suddeth, Dilley Whitehead, Susan Whitehead, Samuel Whitehead, Sarah F. Whitehead, William F. Whitehead, George W. Whitehead, Mary L. Whitehead, Elijah D. Whitehead, James D Whitehead, Elizabeth E. Whitehead, Charles E Whitehead] the following property: One hundred acres of land, a slave named Sydda, 3 feather beds and all of her household stuff.  In addition she gifts, 8 heads of cattle with their future increase and upon her death to be equally divided amongst her children.

However, where it gets interesting it says “To remain in the possession of the said, Polly C Whitehead and be under her sole and separate control and is in no event to be subject in any manner to the contracts, debts and liabilities of her husband Joel Whitehead.  Now I haven’t explored this part of the tree as much but I do know that Mary O’Kelly’s husband (Charles O’Kelly) died in 1810.  Additionally, I know that Polly had siblings.  So, I wonder if other property was given to them.  I do know that historically married women were not entitled to own and manage property until later unless their spouse of incapacitated.  I will have to do more research on the specifics, but a cursory internet search stated that Connecticut was the first state in 1809 and it wasn’t until 1866 that Georgia women were legal allowed to own property.   Regardless, this document is over 170 years old.

1843 Deed Mary Okelly to Polly C Whitehead

 

Well, there are more deeds to explore.  Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Source:

Garrison, Tim A. “Cherokee Removal.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 06 June 2017. Web. 08 June 2017.