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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A Wedding Article

I have been fortunate to be left a lot of genealogy bread crumbs on the paternal side of my family.  I have written before about two books that have been written by my ancestors to which I can lean on for information.  I hope to add to the collection one day.

Sometimes I hit pay dirt by just doing the general sleuthing on my own.  That is what happened one day when I stumbled onto this nugget about the wedding day of my first cousin once removed Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Whitehead and James Blaine “Jim” Sweeny Jr.

I have copied it directly here because I love the descriptions and do not wish to alter this article.  My cousin Sara has provided me with the pictures to accompany this post.

 

Danielsville Monitor, 2 January 1948

MISS WHITEHEAD, MR. SWEENY WED AT CANDLELIGHT CEREMONY

The Baptist Church of Carlton formed a beautiful setting, Saturday afternoon, December 27th, for the marriage of Miss Mary Elizabeth Whitehead, lovely daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Joe Whitehead, to James Blaine Sweeny, Jr., of Baltimore and Annapolis, Md., son of Mr. and Mrs. James Blaine Sweeny, Sr. of Baltimore.

Dr. E. L. Hill performed the ceremony and music was presented by organist, Miss Mary Kelly, and Mrs. Emmett Compton, soloist.  The Church was decorated with candles which were placed on candelabra and forming an arch at the altar.  Quantities of palms, smilax, and urns filled with white gladioli against a white background graced the altar.  Placed in the center was a large silver wedding bell.

Usher-groomsmen were James Blaine Sweeny, Sr., and Emmett Compton of Annapolis.    Miss Mae Whitehead, sister of the bride was maid of honor.  She wore a fitted emerald green taffeta gown with sweet-heart neckline and carried a muff showered with yellow carnations florets, arranged on ribbons with matching hair motif.    Bridesmaids were Miss Mary Arnold Reid of Elberton, and Mrs. Sara Bolin of Buford.  They wore gowns and carried muffs similar to those of the maid of honor.   Junior bridesmaids were Miss Patricia Scarborough of Elberton and Miss Obie Gillen of Lexington, cousins of the bride.  Their gowns and muffs were identical to those of the bridesmaids.

Frank P. Sweeny of New York, brother of the groom, acted as best man.    The lovely brunette bride entered with her father who gave her in marriage.  She was radiant in her gown of ivory satin, fashioned with heart neckline and a bouffant skirt ending with a train.  The bride wore the wedding gown which was worn by Mrs. William N. Zeigler, formerly Miss Janette Adams, at her marriage.  A tier veil of white illusion net was attached to a coronet of orange blossoms.  This veil was formerly worn by Mrs. William A. Kelly.  She carried a bouquet of white orchids, carnations, and lilies of the valley.     Mrs. Whitehead chose a black crepe gown with pink yoke neckline, embroidered with sequins.  Her flowers were pink orchids.  Mrs. Sweeny, mother of the groom, wore a royal blue crepe gown and her flowers were white orchids.

Following the wedding the parents of the bride entertained at a reception in their home.  The home was decorated with foliage and white flowers.  The table in the dining room was centered with the bride’s cake iced on a mound of white flowers and ferns.  White candles and crystal candelabra completed the decorations.  Miss Madge Yawn of Thomaston kept the bride’s book.   The bride chose for traveling a wool suit worn with matching accessories and white orchids.    Following their wedding trip, Lt. Cmdr.  and Mrs. Sweeny will reside at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

I can visualize this ceremony, can’t you?  Now look at these pictures.

I can not help but include a snippet from Betty’s mom, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead, the author of The Adams Family, James Adams Line (1796-1982).  It adds to this piece…

 “Joe’s father insisted that we invite everybody in Carlton, as well as our Elberton and Madison County friends.  There were probably two hundred guests for the wedding and in our home for the reception.  He sat at the front door to greet each one as they entered.”

I can see Walter “Papa” being so proud and telling the world that his granddaughter was getting married and inviting the world.

I close by stating, that although my blog has come to a trickle; I am still exploring backwards.  By this time in my journey, I have picked all of the low hanging fruit.  The things that take longer and harder are in my path now.  So, if you find any old pictures, Bibles, stories, etc.  Send them my way!

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Source:

Daniellsville Monitor, 2 January 1948, retrieved at http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/madison/vitals/marriages/whitehea1535gmr.txt

Whitehead, Emma Chloe Adams, The Adams Family, James Adams Line (1796-1982).  1983.

 

 

Speeches and Words…

My great-grandfather, Walter Everett Whitehead gave a lot of speeches during his time in both political and civic arenas.  I have written about him on this blog several times.  When my cousin Sara allowed me to take the “Whitehead Box” from the beautiful family home in Carlton, I promised that I would put the information to further our exploration of our ancestors.  As such, I am the keeper thousands of his written words.  Unfortunately, he often did not date his writings so I am not able to date them precisely.  But for the sake of our family, I wanted you to know some of his words.  I plan to translate his words from his hand to the computer.   I will date when I can.  I will provide context when I can.  Otherwise, let’s just read his words.

 

Written of Hotel Dempsey Stationary from Macon, Georgia:

1st We will serve the Legion through channels of casual conversation

2- We endorse the extension and not the restraint of individualism.

3-We will encourage proposals lending to make home owners and not tenants of the rising generation.

4-To sponsor and support baseball and other helpful athletic activities.

  1. Preventable diseases, poverty and inadequate living conditions, shall have our constant consideration.

6- The cause of education shall have our support and elimination of illiteracy shall be of our principal views and objects

Submitted by committee


Chloe wrote:  Wrote to soldiers he helped draft.

“Hazard of dangers even bereavement is much easier to bear than disgrace walking beneath a banner; following the flag, symbol of freedom, liberty and equality.  I need and want your friendship; your attitude has been generous and friendly.  I am wishing for you in the New Year, health, happiness and success.”


This was written on The State Senate Letterhead, so it was likely written during his time in office.  Maybe he was on the campaign trail.

Fellow Democrats of Dekalb County, Georgia,

*Constitution Preamble

*Doubtful doctrine of working less and having more?

*Not appeal to class hatred but self-exertion.

*Courage to seek and speak the truth with the low of our being-no hostility to new views.

*Desire to serve will fitted by nature

*Willing to work are honor & glory.

*Courage to act. Thirsty & determined

*Hearts devoutly thankful

*Georgia holds worth place in historic annuals


Washington monument July 4, 1848 finished Dec 1884. 126 feet square at base.  555 feet high. Marble blocks 2 feet square 1800 inches in XX

50 flights of steps, 18 each

Cost $1,500,000.


Bushrod Washington Supreme Court Justice for 31 years

Cornwallis surrendered October 19 1781

Vine & Fig tree

Men are not as we would have them.  We must take them as they are.


At death in 1799. Plans of crops were found written out for 1800-1-2 &3.

No practice more dangerous than borrowing money

Childless-often the children of the great are mortifying, seldom edifying.

The peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched in blood on her people slaves

War xx, outposts, skirmishes, observation, retreat & C

The treason of Benedict Arnold often Valley Forge.


Laid corner-stone of Capital Sept 18 1793.

Extension by Fillmore July 4 1851

64 years in building, cost $26,000,000.

Devoutly thankful to almighty God

Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown Oct 19 1781

 

I will continue to explore his writings.  But, I want us to reflect on what a Patriot and progressive he was.  His words still resonate today.  I sure wish I could have sat upon his knee and listen to him talk.

Until later, I will keep exploring backwards!

 

 

 

Isaac Littleberry Mathews

My adventurous cousin Charlie went and found us the cemetery to our fourth great grandfather, Littleberry Mathews.  I have written about his son on this blog.  You can find it HERE.  I had previously done research on the Mathews line, but I hadn’t really reviewed the information that I had on Littleberry until Charlie’s field trip.  While doing so today, I learned that his given name was “Isaac Littleberry Mathews.” He went by the name Berry or Littleberry.  He was the son of William Mathews and Mary Miller.  He was born on 27 May 1786.  There is some information that indicates he was either born in North Carolina or Georgia.

While researching, I found this descendant chart online that shows the descendants of Gwaethvded Vawr (Lea, 2019).  This is unbelievable that someone has traced their lineage back to the year 1025.  This descendant chart has some citations to lead to one’s credibility.  Today, I just want to focus on my fourth great grandfather.

Berry’s parents had about 8 children.  It appears that Berry was the third child to be born to William and Mary Mathews.  We will look at the parents at a later time.  Berry married Jerusha Hopper on 6 April 1807 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.  He was 20 yeas old.

In his will, I found online, it appears he had more children than I had previously thought.  I will have to do some more research.  According to his will, he had the following sons: Rolley (Raleigh, my 3rd great-grandfather), Charles, William, Uel, Berry, Pressley, Fleming, Richmond, and Newton.  We also learn that his daughter Patsy (Martha Patsy) married Moses Jones, and his daughter Frankey (Francis) married William Jones.

It is written that Berry and his wife Jerusha were buried on their home place in Glade.  So, the place that cousin Charlie visited was steps away from the homeplace of Berry Mathews family.

Cousin Charlie sent me a few words on his exploration of the cemetery:

At Point Peter, GA a.k.a. the Glade community you take the North Point Peter Road going east between the Baptist Church and the Masonic Lodge.  Two roads go east out of the Glade.  This would be the southernmost road.  Go a little lover 100 yards east and take the first drive to the right.  There is a metal gate but almost never closed.  Go down the lane about 500 feet and you see an old quarry site that has been converted to a gigantic swimming pool.

The Little Berry Mathews cemetery is about 400 yards SE of the quarry in the woods.  There is a clear lane and [the owner] is very receptive to having visitors if you let her know you are coming.  The cemetery is on a little hill and just to the west of the cemetery is another little rise where the old Mathews home-place house was.  Nothing is left now but the chimney ruins.

The three graves are about 12 feet apart. Each is actually a single crude mausoleum made of very heavy solid granite hand quarried slabs.  On two of them the top cover slabs have been moved somewhat leaving an opening and the end stone is out of one of them.  They would remind you of a sarcophagus and I cannot overemphasize the mass of the stones.  There may have been a possibility that the coffins were above ground but I doubt it.  However, the interior of each individual mausoleum is large enough for that to have been possible.  For the times this was done and the early construction based on the crudeness of the engraving on the stones, this would have been the top of the line grave marker (Snelling, 2019).

Here is another description by another grave explorer:

The top, sides and ends are thus enclosed and are in very good repair.  The tombs read as follows: First tomb: L.B. Mathews Born May 27 1786 Decd. Feb 13, 1845; Second tomb: Richmond Mathews Born Feb 24 1825 Decd. July 29 1846; Third Tomb: Jerusha M. Born May 1, 1790 Decd. Oct 5 1848. A fourth tomb was found but it was not as elaborate as the above ones were as it was only a head stone with the initials J M cut on it. Assume it would belong to the young son Jordan (Lea, 2019).

We can try to trace Isaac Littleberry “Berry” Mathews, Sr through the US Census and other records.  The First US Census was mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.  It was first taken in 1790.  However, census records posed difficulties due to lack of concrete information.  It would stand to reason that we would look for Berry in his father’s (William Mathews) census records for the year 1790 and 1800.  However, I have not yet found any records that are verifiable.

I was able to find a notation that Littleberry Mathews was allowed to sell spirituous liquor on 5 August 1822 in Oglethorpe County.  Unfortunately, I found this record before I was skilled in my citation skills.

I catch up to Berry in the 1830 Census.  Berry Mathews lived in Captain Pass District, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.  Living in the household were 13 “Free White Persons” and 2 “Slaves.”  A closer look at the census reveals, nine children and 2 female slaves.

In the 1840 Census, Berry is listed to be living in District 237, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.  We can assert that these two locations were likely one in the same, and just the names of the districts changed.  He now has 7 “Free White Persons” and “6 Slaves.”

Isaac Littleberry Mathews dies on 13 February 1845, he is just 58 years old.  His wife dies just 3 years later.  Also buried in the cemetery is Littleberry’s son Richmond.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Source:

Lea, Jenny, found online at Descendants of Gwaethvded Vawr, 2019.

Snelling, Charlie, 2019, email correspondence

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.

Fertilizer of all things.

He that maketh two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to

grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before deserves

better of mankind and does more essential service to his country

than the whole race of politicians put together.” Dean Swift

 

Researching your family history leads you down many interesting rabbit holes.  I recently found a few receipts for fertilizer.  I guess there were a couple of reasons why it got my attention.

First, the dates of the receipts are 8 July 1890 and 25 July 1890 how do we still have this little paper.  Second, it is signed by my great-great grandfather, George Wiley Whitehead.  Lastly, the name of the fertilizer was Davy Crockett.  How fun is that!

gww 7-25-1890 fertilzer

gww 8-7-1890 fertilizer

So, I did a little digging.  While I did not find the publication for 1890, I did find a publication for Commercial Fertilizers and Chemicals for Season 1909-1910 for the State of Georgia.  Essentially, there were laws “to regulate the registration, sale, inspection and analysis of commercial fertilizer (Georgia,1910, p3).”

So, as I hopped down the trail, I learned that my great-grandfather purchased his Davy Crockett Fertilizer from Smithonia Oil Mills, Smithsonia, Georgia.   James Smith was one of the largest land owners in Oglethorpe County.  He had over 20,000 acres.  The locals all know about Smithonia.

George Wiley Whitehead bought several acres of land after he returned from the war.  According to the Georgia Property Tax Digest from 1878-1882 George’s acreage varied from as little as 163 to 1254 acres (Georgia, Property Tax, 2011).  Unfortunately the document does not make it easy to determine what year each record is from.


Fast Forward to 1946, when George’s son Walter received the Selective Service Medal, Hubert Tiller, a local farmer, friend and customer added his own byline to the picture that was in the newspaper.  He said, “Mr. Whitehead is asking President Truman, ‘Have you bought your fertilizer for this year, Mr. President?’”

 

Walter Whitehead and Truman

WEW Receives Award quip about fertilizer

See, Fertilizer of all things.

Source:

Ancestry.com. Georgia, Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

State of Georgia, Commercial Fertilizers and Chemicals, 1910, p3

The Spectrum of Emotion

I have been full of emotions since coming back from Georgia.  As I am putting together the life and times of my ancestors, I have found a series of events that are heart wrenching.

One of the many treasures that I have gathered was some of his personal papers from his life.  It seems that there was this large blue plastic tub that was wrapped up that held some records that Sara’s mother or grandmother thought was important.  It has turned into a treasure trove.  It is in this collection that the story emerged.  I have pieced together a time line for you.

As discussed previously, my great-grandfather was a very patriotic man.  He found ways to serve his country even when his age and physical limitations prohibited it.  Here is a snippet that he wrote for the Selective Service Medal Ceremony in 1946 when he was 77 years old.

WEW Biography by WEW

On 21 January 1946, my great-grandfather, Walter Everett Whitehead appeared in the East Room of the White House to receive the Selective Service Medal from President Harry Truman.   What an incredible honor for a Patriot such as Walter, or Papa.  He took his middle son, Walter “Joe” as his guest.  The event commemorated draft board members that served their country in faithful service during the “emergency” (WWII).

WEW_1946_with_President_Truman

WEW news clip about medal

One day later on 22 January 1946, at 12:46 PM a telegram from Bay Pines Veterans Hospital was sent to the Stevens Martin Company in care of Joe (he was the executor of George Steven’s Estate), stating that his condition is considered critical.  Joe and his father Walter were still in Washington DC.   Later that same day, a telegram was sent from the Stevens Martin Company to Joe or Walter in Washington DC stating the same.  George died two days later.

We can only speculate what thoughts were going through Walter and Joe’s minds as they boarded the train back to Georgia with these heavy thoughts.  He had suffered complications due to surgery he had.  You can read more about him here:

https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/george-stevens-whitehead-part-2/

On 27 January 1946, George Stevens Whitehead, WWI veteran was laid to rest in the family cemetery.  He was only 49 years old.

The very next day, Walter stood in honor at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium being honored with the Selective Service Medal and Certificate of Merit at the State Ceremony.

WEW 1946-letter

One can only imagine what emotions the family would be feeling.  On one hand, being so proud of the well-deserved recognition for a true Patriot and on the other hand, mourning the loss of a Rhodes Scholar Brilliant man cut short in his life.  What a week that must have been.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.