A Life Well Lived

Columbus Augustus Stevens

I have written about my second great-grandfather on my paternal side, Columbus Augustus “Gus” Stevens, before.  However, I do not think I went through his biography, until today.  I came across his death certificate and thought you should know about the life he lived for 84 years.

Gus was born on 26 June 1844 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.  His parents were Obadiah Stevens and Martha Patsy Watkins.  Gus was born and raised in Oglethorpe County.  His father was a Farmer in Oglethorpe.  When you are trying to research a person in our distant past, we lean on records to help build the frame of the person.  Oftentimes, researches only have the basic census data.  I am lucky enough to have had my ancestors that were our family historians.  These records can help sketch in the details of the character of that person.  I have been fortunate that some records came from the family homes directly.

Here is the story about Gus: Plantar, Veteran, Believer, and Citizen.

Upbringing

Columbus Augustus Stevens was born in rural Georgia (Oglethorpe County) with his three brothers and his parents.  Gus first appears on the 1850 Census.  Gus was 6 years old; he lived with his parents, and his three brothers.  His father was a farmer and had listed $3000 of real estate.  His family was like others in rural Georgia.  The family owned slaves.  According to the 1850 Census, Obadiah had about 15 slaves.

By the 1860 Census, Gus was sixteen.  He lived with his parents and his grandmother, Martha Stevens.  His father, Obadiah, had $5000 in real estate and $20,500 in Personal Estate Value.

South Carolina seceded from the Union on 20 December 1860. The following year, several other states joined, including Gus’s State of Georgia.  On 12 April 1861, the first shots at Fort Sumter indicated the beginning of the War Between the States.  Gus was just 16 years old at the beginning of the War Between the States.

Civil War

Records indicate that Gus enlisted March 1862 at Lexington, Georgia into Echols Artillery.  He was not quite eighteen years old.  He remained a soldier until the surrender in April 1865.  He went to war with his brother William and his cousin, John Cylvanus Gibson Stevens (JCG).  In fact, if you look at this regiments roster, you would see many familial names including Whitehead, Mathews, Faust, etc.

Martha Whitehead (Gus’s granddaughter) wrote short episodes of certain things she remembered or had heard.  We are fortunate enough that she shared them with her family.  She went to live with her Grandfather, Gus, when her mother became bedridden due to a serious case of rheumatoid arthritis.  [Below is an excerpt from her stories.  While this is a true story, it also reflects the time-period and is not politically correct by today standards.]

An Afro-American looks after a confederate soldier by Martha Whitehead Moore:

“As I said, Grandpa was just 18 when he enlisted. Obadiah thought he and Cousin John Stevens (JCG) needed someone to go along with them to look after them. So one of Cuz John’s freed Afros went with the two whites to SC. He was Ab (short for Abner) Stevens and was an excellent cook. He also did the laundry for Grandpa and Cuz. John. Most important of all, he was a “good chicken thief”. He made food available, even for the Yanks who were “prisoners of war.”

History tells us that the life of a Confederate Soldier was challenging at best.  Aside from the war itself, many Confederate soldiers were constantly hungry and sick.  Troops went months without pay.  Therefore, the fact that he came from a wealthy family meant he was able to get food and supplies.

Gus’s brother William Walter, died during the Civil War.  It is unclear if he was a casualty of a weapon or a disease.  Assigned to the Tiller’s Company, Georgia Light Artillery (Echols Light Artillery) like his brother and cousins.

According to the war records, Gus was paroled (surrender) at Greensboro, North Carolina on 28 April 1865.  According to North Carolina History, the troops assembled at Greensboro to disarm themselves and return home (Kickler, 2005).

statement of service

Statement of Service

I can only imagine the experiences that Gus had to endure during the War Between the States.  However, to have your older brother killed in battle and then to surrender to the Union must have unnerved a young man.

 

After the War

After the War, Gus returned home to Oglethorpe County. On 4 July 1867, Gus signed the Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Book.  This indicates that he is living in Election District 236 of Oglethorpe County and has signed his allegiance back to the United States of America.  I can only imagine what these men thought about signing this document after losing this War along with the bloodshed of their brethren.

 

According to the Ancestry website:

“The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 required Southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment, draft new state constitutions, and register voters, both black and white. In order to vote, men had to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States, and some were disqualified for their participation in Confederate government posts. This database contains books recording those oaths of allegiance and returns listing qualified voters registered in Georgia in 1867. It includes both black and white citizens (Ancestry).

 

CA stevens oath of allegiance

Oath of Allegiance

Gus married Martha Jane Witcher four years after the war on 29 April 1869.  They set up house in Oglethorpe County within his parents’ home.  He was 24 years old.  Gus would work with his father on the land as a plantar and farmer.

The following year, 1870, the United States held its Decennial Census.  The census indicated that Gus and his wife had a baby and the family of three are living with his parents.  Their first-born child Ambrose Pope was a listed as one month old.

In the 1880 Census, Gus and his growing family are still living with his parents.  According to the census, their children Ambrose, Luna, Asa, Cynnie and Pellie, are all under ten years old.

The infamous 1890 US Census was burned, so we do not have that information.  Nevertheless, we know that Gus’s father died in 1891.

According to the 1900 Census, Gus is Head of Household.  Gus lives with his wife, Martha, and their son Asa, and his wife Lester.  Asa is now helping to run the farm.  Gus’s daughters Cynnie, Pellie, Fannie and Martha Obie reside in the home.  His youngest son, Joe Augustus, 11 years old is living at home as well.

On 19 May 1909, Gus’s wife Martha Jane dies.  They had been married for more than forty years.

In the 1910 Census, Gus was Head of House, his daughters Cynnie and Pellie still live with him.  Martha Ann Whitehead is listed as a “Stevens” on this census.  However, we know the true family history of how little Martha went to live there because her mother was bedridden.  Martha’s mom, Luna May, had her two maiden sisters help care for little Martha.

Grandpa Gus and Martha v3

Martha Ann Whitehead with her grandfather Gus Stevens

By the 1920 Census, Gus is living with his two maiden daughters, Cynnie and Pellie, his grandson Joseph A Stevens (31 years old) and his granddaughter Martha Ann Whitehead (15 years old).

Marge Walter E Mae Pellie Gus or George W Cynnie Fred

L-R: Margaret Whitehead, Walter Whitehead, Mae (in arms) Cynnie or Pellie Stevens (in hat), Gus Stevens, Cynnie or Pellie, Fred Whitehead

Civic Life

After establishing himself as a plantar and merchant, Gus set his sights on public service.  According to the Oglethorpe Echo, Gus served one term as a Representative in the House of Representatives (1892-93).  He additionally served one term in the Georgia Senate (1902-1904) for the 30th District.  He was a member of the Masonic Order.  He was also on the County Board of Education for a few years (Oglethorpe Echo, 1929).

Merchant

Gus, his brother, John Reese and his first cousin, JCG Stevens along with Robert Huff, started a general store in 1885 in the Village of Sandy Cross, Stevens Huff and Company.  Additional stores and properties were added later.  In fact, at one point they had two stores and 5 cotton gins covering Madison and Oglethorpe County.  The company survived two World Wars and a Great Depression but ultimately dissolved voluntarily in 1963 (Stevens, 1973).  [I did a general post about it here: Mercantile Business]

stevensmartinstore

Circa 1903

Believer

Gus loved God and Country as we have seen.  Most community activities centered on the church in these days.  According to the obituary written in the Oglethorpe Echo, Gus joined Clouds Creek Baptist Church around the same time he married Martha, 1869.  He became an ordained deacon on 5 October 1877.  On 9 September 1906, a new Church was chartered in Oglethorpe County.  The church, Sandy Cross Baptist Church was established from members of both Clouds Creek and Bethany Baptist Church.  My second great grandfather was one of the founding members.  He was one of the Deacons.  I found an article written about the church and it lists several of my ancestors.  In death, he bequeathed a house and property (4 acres) to Sandy Cross Baptist Church.

ca stevens article in newspaper

Article about Sandy Cross Baptist Church written by family friend and Minister Faust

 

His Death Certificate indicates that he died of hypostatic pneumonia.  However, he had incurred a hip fracture just 5 days earlier when he fell.  The local newspaper, the Oglethorpe Echo, published a snippet this nice tribute following his death.

 

In May 2015, I took my sister and cousin Susan to Georgia for a genealogy trip.  Aunt Leah met us there and we were fortunate enough to visit Miss Kitty.  She still resides in the Steven’s family home.

While preparing for this piece, I wrote to my cousins for their input.  Cousin Lynn, daughter of Miss Kitty, shared this story:

The Stevenses killed a “hawg” on the first frozen day of the year, everyone who participated got a share of the meat.  There was a GIANT cement pit, like we would see now in an oil-change shop, where they did some part of the process.  And there were GIANT cast-iron pots, as large as a bathtub but semi-spherical, where (I think) they boiled water to help scrape the wiry hairs off the skin.

She also shared this about the main house:  I believe the Oglethorpe County Tax Assessor shows that the house was built in 1901.  But there are tales about the kitchen being a separate building during the Civil War, and it was eventually jacked onto logs and ROLLED up to the main house.  This certainly ties into the differing floor levels between the dining room, the butler’s pantry, and the kitchen itself!

Inside Stevens Homeplace7

There is so much more to say about Gus, but it will have to wait for another day.  If you have memories, please share them here!

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Source:

Ancestry.com. Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data:  Georgia, Office of the Governor. Returns of qualified voters under the Reconstruction Act, 1867. Georgia State Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

Compiled Service Records of Conferate Soldiers who served in Organizations from the State of Georga., NARA, Publication Number M266.

NorthCarolinahistory.org: An Online Encyclopedia, “Lunsford Lane” (by Troy Kickler), http://northcarolina.org (accessed 5/31/2019).

Oglethorpe Echo, March 8, 1929. Article about CA Stevens Death

Stevens, Claude G., 1973.  The Stevens Family, John Stevens Line, Commercial Printing Company, Inc. Toccoa, Georgia.

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Decoration Day

The readers of this blog realize that most of my relatives derived from the states below the Mason Dixon Line.  My third great grandfather, Thomas Harrison Holt, was no different.  Thomas Harrison Holt was born between 1814-1818 in Campbell County, Virginia.  When I started this post, I held the belief that Thomas was a veteran of the War Between the States.  However, through further research, the Thomas Holt that I saw in War records was not my Thomas Harrison Holt.  I was going to do this post for Decoration Day.  Although I know that, he did not actually fight in the War between States, he and his family were impacted by this War.  How could any family not be?

When researching an ancestor, I always start with Census records.  These records usually give us the best opportunity of learning about the lives of our Ancestors.  The early years of the Census were difficult.  The main obstacle, trying to determine family members, is not easy with early census records because the US Census did not include names or ages until the 1850 census.  They used tic marks and age ranges.

However, if Thomas’s father was William H. Holt, and I believe he was, we can infer some family dynamics by looking at the census records of 1820, 1830, and 1840.  Unfortunately, the 1820 census for William H. Holt does not have a readable header as such the only thing I learned is the William H. Holt was living in Campbell County in the Lynchburg District.

In the 1830 Census, we see that Thomas was likely living with his parents and seven siblings.  This census shows that the Holt family did not own any slaves.

In the 1840 Census for William H. Holt, it shows a male that was between the ages of 15 and 20.  However, if we believe that Thomas was born about 1818, he would have been 22 years old.  I looked at the names around Thomas’s father and did not see Thomas’s name.  I know Census records are historically inaccurate for a variety of reasons.  Therefore, we will conclude that we do not have enough information to determine where Thomas lived in the 1840 Census.

On 2 October 1843, Thomas Harrison Holt married Elvira Hancock in Campbell County, Virginia (Ancestry, 1999).

The US Census changed formats in 1850 and began to show names and ages.  We meet Thomas’s family in this census and learn that his job is of an overseer.  Thomas is listed to be 31 years old, has zero dollars of real estate.  His children are Arvella, Leroy, Laura, and Elvira A D.  The family lives in Campbell County, Virginia.    He does not show any monetary value in the Real Estate column.

The 1860 Census indicates that Thomas and his wife are living in the Eastern District of Campbell County, Virginia with 7 children, Arvella, Leroy, Laura, Guilford Walker (my second great grandfather), Mary Agnes, Queen and Nannie.  We no longer see Elvira A D.  Thomas remained an overseer.  His real estate is listed at $1100 and his personal estate $432.  His eldest daughter, Arvella is 16 years old and is listed as a Domestic.  Leroy and Laura are attending school.  Guilford, Magdalia, Queen and Nannie are listed as living in the home.

The War Between the States began in April 1861 and did not conclude until four years later.  The War profoundly shaped our country and its citizens, our ancestors.  For example, Thomas’s son Leroy C Holt would have been 17 years old when the war broke out.  We do not see him in any family records after the war.  You have to wonder what happened to him.

In the 1870 Census, Thomas is a Farmer living in Campbell County, Virginia.  His value of real estate is listed as $600 and his value of his personal estate is $250.  His wife is listed as keeping house.  His twenty-one year old daughter Laura is working as a Seamstress.  His son Guilford Walker is working on the farm with him.  The younger four children, Magdalia, Queen, Mary Agnes and Earnest are listed as living at home.  There is a sixty-five year old Black Male living in the home that is working on the Farm.  His name is Lyman Stern.

I was able to locate the 1870 Non-Population Schedule for Campbell County, in which is shows what type of agriculture my ancestors took part in.  These records point toward the type of work he did.  According to this document, Thomas had 61 acres of land, 37 acres of which were woodland.  The cash value for his farm was $600 and the cash value for his farm implements was $15.  Thomas owned one milk cow, one working oxen, 10 sheep and 5 swine.  The total value of livestock was $305.  His farm produced about 33 bushels of winter wheat, 135 bushels Indian corn, and 50 bushels of Oats.  His farm produced approximately 1,800 pounds of tobacco.  Since I did not know what this means in terms of wealth, I looked at the other farms on the page.  It looks like Thomas had an average sized farm.

The 1880 Census represented a big change for the US Census; there were several more questions on this form.  Unfortunately, for some of us, the Census takers did not always complete the records entirely.  For example, the 1880 Census had a spot to write down the street and house number for each family.  Regrettably, the census taker for my ancestor did not write this down.  We do know that Thomas and his family lived in Campbell County, in Falling River District, 041 Enumeration District.

Thomas (62) and his wife, Elvira (52) have four children still living at home.  Guilford (28) is a farmer.  Queen, Mary Agnes and Earnest are still living with in the home.  The census no longer asks about income, but does ask about certain disabilities.  The ages documented over the various years varied so much.  In some documents, Thomas and Elvira are as close as 5 years in age of each other.  This is why you cannot rely just on census records.

The last record I have on him is from the Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index.  It indicates that he died on 12 March 1884 in Campbell County, Virginia in the Staunton River District.  He was 70 years old (Ancestry, 2011).  This would have made his year of birth 1814.  However, we might never know.

I have not been able to find a photo of his tombstone.  Nor do I have really any photos to share.

So, this weekend as you fire up the grill or you go out on the lake for the first time, remember those ancestors of ours that gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting for something they believed in.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

 

Source:

“Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853–1912.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.  Retrieved from Ancestry.com.

Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850, Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. <i>Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850</i>. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers. Retrieved from Ancestry.com.

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!

The Miracle in Savannah

I have a friend at work who is retired Navy and now working as a homicide detective.  He and I have bonded over genealogy and the military.  I know, I have never been truly a military buff, but as I have delved into my genealogy and realize what a presence the military has in my family, I have grown more familiar.  With this in mind, I began thinking about George Wiley Whitehead and the miracle that happened in Savannah, Georgia.

I wrote about him in 2013.  You can read about him here:

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/george-wiley-whitehead/

 

What I didn’t know at the time was how his company, The Echols Artillery, was a part of a book that recalled their involvement in the War of Northern Aggression, or The War Between the States.

The book, This They Remembered,  written by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Oglethorpe County Chapter, documents four companies who fought in that war.  I have two relatives that are documented in this book, Columbus Augustus Stevens and George Wiley Whitehead both which whom served in the Echols Artillery, and both of whom are my second great grandfathers.

Below is a short timeline as described in the book.

Timeline:

1 March 1862               Echols Artillery organized and mustered in.

19 August 1862            Company ordered to Atlanta, Georgia

6 January 1863             Company received orders to report to General Howell Cobb at Quincy, Florida.

Mid March 1863           Company left Quincy, marching through Tallahassee to Camp Leon then to                                          Brokaw.  (Comprised of a six-gun battery; G.W. Whitehead, 1st Gunner),  Private                                          C.A. Stevens among many soldiers).

27 May 1863                 Company ordered to Ft. Gadsden and Battery Cobbs, both on the Apalachicola                                         River. Conditions here were poor, due to swamp conditions.

January 1864                Company reunited back at Camp Leon.

“In the short space of six months the company had been transformed from the finest and robust body in the service to a company of weak and sallow invalids.  Twelve had already died and many more were stricken never to recover (page 122).”

9 February 1864            One section ordered to Mosely Hall.  Glanders disease, is a contagious, acute or                                           chronic, usually fatal disease of Equidae broke out among the horses.

1 June 1864                    Company ordered to Tallahassee.  The enemy was in Jacksonville.

Late November 1864     Ordered to Savannah, Georgia

“Sherman was approaching Milledgeville on his famous march to the sea (p. 123).”

17 December 1864        G.W. Wounded in Action (G.W. Whitehead Pension Papers)

George Wiley Whitehead

George Wiley Whitehead

“The Echols Artillery was in charge of a siege battery on the Augusta road, where, during the ten days siege they were engaged in firing shot and shell and in return received close attention from the enemy’s sharp-shooters, but so well protected was the battery that the casualties were few, G. W. Whitehead seriously wounded (p. 123).  It is unknown what happened to G.W. Whitehead after he was wounded.  Family lore suggests he was captured by the Union.

This is what Chloe Adams Whitehead wrote for the North Georgia Life in 1965:

“Wounded and left for dead on the battlefield, George regained consciousness to find a Yankee officer standing over him.  He gave the Masonic sign which the office returned.  The Blue Coat carried his wounded Masonic brother to his own camp where he was given medical attention and as soon as George was able to travel, he was exchanged for a Yankee prisoner.  George returned to Oglethorpe and married Cena in 1866 (North Georgia Life, 1965, p.6)”

21 December 1864        Company was withdrawn from Savannah.  The company boarded a train to                                           Pocataligo, Georgia.  For those unfamiliar, this is located very close to                                            Oglethorpe County, where the Echols Artillery formed.

1 January 1865             Company ordered to James Island, Fort Jackson (near Charleston, SC).

17 February 1865          “All the works around Charleston were evacuated, the Echols Artillery going out                                              with the rest, marching all night and encamping at Monk’s Corner (p. 124)”.

Unknown 1865             Company marched from Monk’s Corner to Kingstree to Cheraw, they faced the                                          enemy there, and had to withdraw and marched via Rockingham to Fayettsville,                                          NC.  They then marched in the direction of Raleigh.

16 March 1865              Company along with General Hardee made a stand; however losing a few.

19 March 1865              Company joined General Johnson’s forces at the Battle of Bentonville.  The                                          Union won this battle.

21 March 1865              Company along with General Johnson moved to Smithfield, NC.  The Echols                                          Artillery had been reduced to 43 men.  The effects of two years in Florida made                                          them weak and frail.

10 April 1865                Company was sent in the direction of Raleigh however, they continued westward                                          to Greensboro where a surrender took place.

26 April 1865                Confederate Troops surrender.

27 April 1865                C.A. Stevens was present at last call, but G.W. Whitehead was not.

 

The important thing is that George came home from the war and married Cena Ann Mathews.  In 1889, he completed an application for pension due to his injury in the war.  He was granted $50 per month.  In 1990, the effects of his head injury had left him partially paralyzed and he reapplied for pension and received $100.  In the pension application, his physician wrote in part:

“I hereby certify that one George W. Whitehead was wounded in top of head during the war between the states and at the time he received said wound he complained of a numbness through his whole system.  Which has recurred periodically ever since until about a year ago when this numbness became permanent and brought about a partial paralysis.  He has since that time been entirely helpless and most of the time bedridden (Confederate Pension Applications).”

GWW Pension Papers

GWW Pension Papers

George Wiley Whitehead died 31 May 1891.  He was 62 years old.  He left behind his wife and 7 children.  The youngest child at the time of his death was Theordoric, who was only 8 years old.  If he hadn’t survived the war, I wouldn’t be here today.

CSA Marker for GWW

CSA Marker for GWW

When I write about my ancestors, I feel closer to them.  I believe in telling their stories, our lives are enriched.  Coming home from a war wounded he married a sweet girl, 16 years younger than him.  I wonder what Cena’s parents, Raleigh and Mary Mathews, thought.  Did they approve?  Did he prove to them that although he was wounded he was worthy of her hand in marriage? In addition to farming, George became a county surveyor, as well as a County Commissioner.  We do know that he ended up with lots of land.  In his will, he mentions 270 acres that the Home Place is on; as well as 450 acres that he and Obadiah Stevens; however, it also states some is to be sold to pay off some debts.  The Home Place is still owned by the family.  My Cousin Sara has taken on the huge responsibility of two of our families homes, one in Carlton and the Homeplace in Oglethorpe County.  To her, I am most grateful.

 

 

Sources:

United Daughters of the Confederacy. (1986). This they remembered: The history of the four companies and those in other companies, who went from Oglethorpe County to serve in the War Between the States : the Gilmer Blues, the Oglethorpe Rifles, the Tom Cobb Infantry, the Echols Artillery. Columbus, Ga: Brentwood University Press.

North Georgia Life, The Oglethorpe Echo, February 17, 1965, “The Whitehead Homeplace recalls Rural Life of Yesterday.”

Confederate Pension Applications. Ancestry.com. Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

Remembrance Poppies

Has it really been three years?

I got an email from Word Press stating that it has been three years I have been blogging.  I know now that the goal I set for myself was unrealistic.  What really happens when I decide to write a blog, is I have to go research the missing pieces.  This in itself is a great exercise because it focuses my attention on the subject at hand.  However, what it also does is slow things way down.  It takes a lot of time to explore backwards.  I want to have some facts but I also wish for some character sketches as well.  But please know if I am not blogging I am still doing the research that I love and uncovering the mysteries of our families past.

 

Today is Memorial Day, as I sit here and type, I am thinking of all my ancestors that fought in the wars of our country.  I also think of all the men and women who have served.  Whatever you do today, take a minute of quiet reflection and think about all the soldiers we have lost during our wars.  Then take a minute to think of the multitude of family members they left behind.  There have been great poems and memorials written and constructed to remember the fallen.

Below is the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Major John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor and Artillery Commander.  It is believed he wrote this poem after giving a burial service for his friend during a battle of WWI.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Found on http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

 

Moina Belle Michael, an American teacher, wrote a poem in response to In Flanders Field.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/?page_id=2

She then conceived of the idea of wearing poppy flowers as a way to remember and commemorate the fallen soldiers and also to benefit them with the sale of poppies.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

If you see a Veteran today asking for a donation, offering you a plastic poppy flower, you will know the true reason for this gesture.

Who are the fallen heroes in your life?  Take a moment today to remember them, I know I will.

 

The Bible

The Bible

 

My cousin Sara was kind enough to send me my second grandfather’s Family Bible. What a treasure.

I wrote in previous posts that George Wiley Whitehead married Cena Ann Mathews after returning home from the civil war. The date was 30 January 1866. Although many of the names are faded, I know them. I am proud to have learned about them through my research. George and Cena had seven children.

Bookmark inside Bible

Bookmark inside Bible

 

The purpose of a Family Bible, along with the scripture is that they provide vital records for the family long before these records were collected for the State. By looking at the penmanship and ink, I can tell you that several of the entries were copied into this bible from another source. A few entries at the end are in both a different hand and ink. For a genealogist, Bibles can provide clues to the elusive maiden name or a birth dates.

Think about how this Bible could have been used. Our ancestors did not have the internet, television or radio. The reading of the Bible could have been a weekly or evening event. This was their connection to the word of God outside of church.

Whitehead Family Bible

Whitehead Family Bible

This bible has a copyright of 1872, this was 6 years after George and Cena married. It is 143 years old. This book has been held by a multitude of our ancestors. It is an important piece of our heritage. I am proud to be the steward of this family heirloom.

Vital Record Page

Vital Record Page

My parents recently moved into a smaller place. In the weeks prior, I kept reminding my mom not to discard any family heirlooms. She knows how much I appreciate our family history. However, what may be special to me, others may think less of. We each have different memories attached to different objects.

What pieces of your past do you cherish? Share one or two of your favorites!

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day was not always Memorial Day. It started out as Decoration Day. A day dedicated to decorating the graves of the civil war dead.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

– James A. Garfield, May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery

(Source: http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/history/)

At least three of my Great-Grandfathers fought in the Civil War, George Wiley Whitehead, Columbus Augustus Stevens and George Bland Sublett. Two other Great Grandfathers were German and not in the US at the time. I still have to do some research on the other three, but since they lived in Virginia during the Civil War, I am thinking maybe they did as well. However, I will try to refrain from searching for that now, and focus on this blog. I had several others fight in both the Great World Wars.

My Grand Uncle, George Stevens Whitehead, was a Rhodes Scholar, and left the United States in 1916 for Balliol College, in Oxford England. He and many others left school in 1917 in order to join cause. In fact, when we were visiting our Georgia relatives last week, we read a series of letters written to Papa (Walter Everett) by George. One of them included a message from King George V, about the great duty they had to their country.

While thinking about the great sacrifices my ancestors made so that we could live in a free and democratic society, I am engulfed in patriotism. I am deeply humbled by their acts of courage. I honor them by paying tribute to these brave individuals. Today, we raised our flag and bowed our heads for those brave soldiers and their families that made the ultimate sacrifice. I write this blog and think about the individuals in my family that have given so freely of themselves so that I can be free.

Therefore, whether you raised a flag, run in a Memorial Day run, or wear poppy red, we will remember the valor of the dead. 

Below are the men in my family that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Larry Whitehead

Larry Whitehead


Fred Whitehead

Fred Whitehead


Walter E. Whitehead

Walter E. Whitehead