Humanitarian, Soldier, Scholar

George Stevens Whitehead is my Grand Uncle.  As you may recall from previous posts, he was a Rhodes Scholar. Prior to attending Oxford, he had the highest Grade Point Average while attending the University of Georgia for over 40 years. George was 20 years old in 1916 when he embarked from New York to England to attend school at the Balliol College at Oxford University. He was only able to get a years’ worth of study in before he the United States entered the war.

 

George returned to the United States in 1917 to serve in World War I.  In one of his letters to his father, he writes from Camp Dix stating he got his orders and that he had qualified as a Division Instructor in Machine Gunnery.  He served in both the 335 and 313 Machine Gun Battalion.  We have sailing records of him returning to the United States in his official role as Second Lieutenant on 13, July 1919.

After the War was over George went back to Oxford to resume his Rhodes scholarship. In a letter to his father, dated April 28, 1919, George writes, that he had asked to remain in the army while he continued his studies.  George graduated in 1920 with both an A.B. and a M.A degree from Oxford University.  We know he stayed overseas for a little while.

 

While we mark 11 November 2018 as the end of the WWI, that does not mean things go back to normal so quickly.  In fact, I have just learned that my grand-uncle, George Stevens Whitehead was working in the peace capacity for the YMCA in the period after the war.  He was listed as a Secretary for the YMCA.  According to one of the documents, I found George received a pass to take care packages to Russian prisoners in Germany.  It is likely he spent the next year working for the YMCA.

While reading one of Chloe’s writings, I found out that George was able to stay abroad after completing his studies because the Governor (assumed Georgia Governor) financed a year or two.  “During the summer he got a job taking prisoners of war back to Russia (Whitehead, personal papers).  Below is a travel pass issued by the German Government on behalf of George Stevens Whitehead.

 

George Stevens with fellow soldiers

George in front of Tent

My father’s friend Wolfgang provided us a rough translation.

19 July 1920

Passport or Official Document

This document needs to be returned after it has been used.

 

The person in the attached picture is the American citizen

George S. Whitehead

Secretary of the international committee of the (German) YMCA.

He is supposed and allowed to enter POW camps with Russian prisoners in Germany to distribute groceries and other love articles. He is also allowed to travel by train or by sea from Stettin to Russia and return the same way with German POW‘s to distribute food (groceries) and love articles to the prisoners.

He should not charged with travel expenses.

He travels under the protection of the German Government.

All Government agencies should allow him to travel and act as he desires and should offer him help if he needs it.

 

Signed by

Sea transport division, Chief of the Admiral Dept.

Berlin

 

Mission of the international Red Cross at the Russian POW camps in Germany

Berlin, Tiergarten Straße

 


German Pass for George Whitehead to aid POW’s following WWI

 

I did a little research on this.  It turns out that the YMCA assisted prisoners of war with food and facilities (Hanna, 2015).  To know that my grand-uncle was a part of this great humanitarian effort gives me joy.

 

Until later, I will keep exploring backwards.

____

If you are new to my blog, you can see the other times that I have written about this ancestor:

 https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/george-stevens-whitehead/

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

 


Sources:

Time.com retrieved from http://time.com/4718767/american-troops-wwi-excerpt/ on 3/29/18.

Whitehead, Emma Chloe Adams, personal items

Hanna, Emma: Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), in 1914-1918-online.  International Encyclopedia of the First World War, 2015-01-29.  Retrieved on 4/7/2018.

 

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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

 

 

Happy Bloggiversary to me!

You are saying what…It has been two years already?

Yes, in 2013, I started to document my journey of exploring backwards.  This endeavor has brought me closer to the family I already knew and has brought me in contact with family I didn’t know I had.  I feel fortunate that I have readers like you. Please continue to feel free to post your memories, questions or suggestions.

 

cake

My goals for this next year is to continue documenting my family’s history and to extract as many memories as I can from my family, both immediate and extended! That means YOU!!   I believe that once I do this for a while, I will be able to have enough material for a family history book. So, your help is needed. If you have old pictures or stories about our shared relatives, send them my way. My recent trip to Georgia has filled me a great desire to continue to hunt for these illusive ancestors and the stories they have to tell.

Let’s continue to explore backwards together.

Until later!

 

Visiting our Georgia Roots (Day 1)

I just got back from visiting my Georgia Roots. The adventure was a whirlwind weekend in rural Georgia. My sister Kathy, Cousin Susan both joined me for the weekend voyage. My Aunt Leah met us there and spent the day with us too. Our hostess and tour guides were our second cousin Sara and Charlie. We are forever grateful to Sara, Charlie and Miss Kitty for making themselves available to us.

Day 1:

Kathy, Susan and I set out Friday morning for Carlton. Everyone was a bit apprehensive, because we didn’t know exactly what was in store for the weekend. We were meeting relatives that we had not seen or really spoken to for 35 years. All of this was orchestrated because I wanted to investigate the homeplace and the area in which my ancestors had lived.

My sister had been on a previous genealogy trip with me and knew somewhat what she was getting involved in. But Susan, well, she did not really know the length of time that I had been researching or the depth that I was passionate about it. Both Susan and Kathy served me well. They were my photo journalists for this project. Over the course of the next few blogs you will see some of their handy work.

We arrived in Carlton just before noon. After getting acquainted, we headed off to our only preset appointment, lunch with Miss Kitty. Eleanor “Kitty” Mitchell Stevens, she is the wife of my 1st cousin 2x removed, Joseph Augustus Stevens, Jr.   She lives in the homeplace of Columbus “Gus” Augustus Stevens, my 2nd Great Grandfather. I am not exactly sure when the home was built but it is a grand old home.

Kitty prepared a spread. We visited while we ate. We visited after we ate. We then got up and looked around the place. Kitty had Gus Stevens Bible out for us to see all of the dates recorded. We spent a lot of time in Gus Steven’s old bedroom. I love the old homes that had a hearth in each of the bedrooms. This room had been converted to a children’s play room when Charlie and Sara were growing up. The parents would sit and visit in the front parlor and the children could play nearby.

Gus Stevens Family Bible

Gus Stevens Family Bible

Kitty Stevens, Sara Baldwin, Annette Nordmark, Susan Delker, Krista Whitehead

Kitty Stevens, Sara Baldwin, Annette Nordmark, Susan Delker, Krista Whitehead

After bidding Miss Kitty adieu, we set out for the Homeplace. I have written about the home place here (https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/whitehead-homeplace/)

This was the place where George Wiley and Cena Ann Mathews resided after the Civil War. The place today is still family owned, but it is being leased to a hunting group that has made it a great hunting lodge. From the decorations on the wall it seems that Turkey is their game of choice.

Homeplace-2015

Homeplace-2015

Inside the Homeplace

Inside the Homeplace

While there, Charlie showed me the proper way to handle a Honeysuckle Vine.

Charlie giving Krista a lesson on the Honeysuckle Vine

Charlie giving Krista a lesson on the Honeysuckle Vine

After leaving the Homeplace, we went to the Steven’s Family Cemetery. This is on Steven’s Homeplace property. We then went to see the Mathew’s Family Cemetery where Cena Ann Mathews and George Wiley Whitehead are buried. Lastly we went to see the Whitehead/O’Kelly gravesite. This is now on property owned by another individual, but Charlie had made arrangements to let them know we were coming. This cemetery has a chain-link fence that the Daughters of the Revolution had placed along with a marker indicating that Joel Whitehead’s father-in-law had fought in the American Revolution. The DAR has since changed their opinion on this matter. But that will be another story at another time. I am getting off track!

After everyone was worn out, we returned to the Carlton home to rest for a while. Well, other people rested, I was still in fifth gear, Charlie, Leah and I sat down and we went over some of the items I had brought. I was pleased that I could fill in some gaps for Leah on her family tree.

We then set out for dinner at the Red Minnow in Elberton. Cousin Sara told us that Papa loved Elberton. I am not sure why. I will have to ask. A piece of trivia for everyone, Elberton is known to be the granite capital of the world. [You can read more about granite here: http://www.egaonline.com/]

The Red Minnow is an all you can eat buffet of everything precious to the south. The kitchen must have a hundred deep fryers to cook everything. It was not Swamp Guinea (a much-remembered restaurant from our previous visit in 1980). However, we were hungry and the food was good.

I will share day 2 on another day.

BSO and a story from Martha

BSO-

This is an acronym for Bright Shiny Objects. An infliction that I have always had but festers more when I am researching backwards. I recently received a twenty page document from my cousin, Sara. This document contains many stories that my Grand Aunt, Martha Ann Whitehead Moore wrote before she passed away. It is a treasure trove of family history and the stories that bring these family members to life. It is one of the best BSO’s I have had in a long time.

 

Martha wrote, “family stories that should be handed down from generation to generation.” That has been my goal with my blog. I always encourage family members to contribute their memories.

Here is an example of one of the stories. I have only corrected any grammatical errors that I found and added full names for clarification when necessary.

This happened on October 8, 1908

Faith in Grandpa Restored

I was born in 1904, the daughter of Christian parents, and my grandparents were of very strong Baptist faith. My mother was a victim of rheumatoid arthritis, so I lived with my grandparents.

My grandmother [Martha Witcher Stevens] died when I was 3 years old. My childhood from then on was under the control of my grandfather and two “old maid” aunts (Cynnie and Pellie). They instilled in me the danger of cursing and using foul language.

When I was four years old on two occasions I heard my Grandfather [Columbus Augustus “Gus” Stevens] use words that I considered foul. One was at 6:30 P.M. when we went to “slop the hogs.” He said, “Dog-gone the pigs,” when they splashed his Sunday-go-to-meeting trousers.

Then at 9:00 P.M. that same day he heard some neighbor-hood teen-aged boys in his ribbon-cane patch. They were swiping a few stalks (which he would have gladly given them). He said, “Dog-gone the boys.”

That was it – the straw that broke the camel’s back! My grandfather had cursed. I just knew he was headed downward – straight to the devil. I cried myself to sleep that night.

The next day I told my old maid aunts about the two “Dog-gones” I had heard. They assured me that the language was not strong enough to sentence my grandfather to everlasting punishment. So I ran to the front yard and started walking in his foot-steps again.

I continued to try to follow his examples and have used them to guide me all the way to 91.

The End.

 

I do not have a picture of my Grand Aunt, or I would post it here. I love this story for a variety of reasons. One, it shows her admiration for her grandfather.  Additionally, in less than 300 words, we learn about her childhood and what type of person she became.

Until later, I will continue to explore backwards.

 

Pop-osophy

“Pop-osophy”
Pop, that is my term of endearment for my father, Lawrence Walter Whitehead. I am not sure, when I came up with that name for him, but I do know that I am the only one that calls him that, and it makes me feel special.

I have written previously that my father was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. He was coming of age in the 40’s and 50’s. His father died when he was not quite 14 years old. That has to be hard on any family. The truth is though; my grandfather was not “present” for my father as he should have been. I do not think he was there to play catch with him or guide him as other father’s did.

Whitehead Family 1948

Whitehead Family 1948

I believe that after my grandfather died in 1950, my father must have decided at some point that if he had children, he would raise them different. What we received as a result was a strict but fair loving father who was there for us. My father believes that family matters. We sat down at dinner as a family every night. We went to Church as a family. We all played sports and supported each other as a family.

Pop has key pieces of advice, colloquialisms, which he would bestow on his children as needed. Here are a few that I remember the most.

Nothing is easy
Nothing is free
You cannot make a silk purse from a sows ear.
He did not just fall off the turnip truck

(Mom, siblings, if you can remember the others, please share)

 

Saturday mornings must have been my mother’s time off from child rearing. As I recall, I spent many Saturday mornings time with my Dad and my siblings. We would make the rounds. First, we would get breakfast at Mr. Donuts. I still remember the glass window that you could see into the donut making area. It fascinated us as children. I can remember two distinct flavors. The first was the chocolate cake donut. The chocolate was so rich and it had the thinnest of glazes on top. The second was the coveted peanut donut. Who would have thought to combine donuts with peanuts. I can see it now.

After we got our fill at the donut shop, Dad would take us to the hardware store. Andy’s Hardware store was not only owned by Dad’s friend, Bob Cook, the Store also sponsored Dad’s softball team. Every time I see the rolls of chain and rope at any hardware store, I am instantly transported back to my childhood. I still love going to hardware stores. However, it is not because I am handy. I did not get that gene. It is because of the memories that can be invoked from going down that aisle.

Andy's Hardware

Andy’s Hardware

No trip was complete without going down to the local Shell station. Dad’s other friend, Jerry Gorsica, owned the Shell Station. Remember the time when the gas station was full-service and included the mechanic shop.

My father’s plan to be an involved father sometimes came at a cost. My father was transferred a few times, so we would have to pick up our lives and move them somewhere new. As a child it was difficult. As it turns out, it was hard on everybody. Later I learned that these sacrifices were made were an effort for him not to get ahead, but to rather stay in a position that would allow him the family life that he wanted. I heard later as an adult that some of my father’s jobs, stunk. If it did, he didn’t let it show to his children.

Now my Pop is a grandfather, six times over. It is heart-warming to see him in this role. He is caring, funny, and sweet in this role.

 

Dad with some grandkids

Dad with some grandkids

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Mom and Dad with all of the grandchildren

Mom and Dad with all of the grandchildren

 

 

Dad and I April 2014

Dad and I
April 2014

 

 

 

 

Photos

Friday Photo is a writing prompt to get me thinking about writing.  Well, it happens to be Sunday now, and I am just getting around to posting this.  Does it count that I started it on Friday?  I think so.

 

I love looking at the old photos in my collection. They are such a peep-hole into the past. What is even more amazing is my mother can look at the photos and remember what color the dress was or where she was going. She has that kind of memory. Me on the other hand, I cannot even remember who my college roommates names are. So, when I get together with my mom I usually will have questions for her about a photo.

 

Family Vacation  Pipestem, West Virginia

Family Vacation
Pipestem, West Virginia

This week I posted this photo on Facebook for Throw Back Thursday, a prompt started on Facebook to show people old pictures of ourselves. My mom, true to form was able to tell me where the photo was taken and also that she had made the pants that she wore in this picture.

Never did I know that our family took a vacation to Pipestem, West Virginia. Since it is 2014, I promptly typed that name into my internet browser and found the state park my mother was talking about. My mother reminisced about how my older brother David was stung by a bee and “screamed like the devil.” My younger brother, Joe, approximately 3 years old at the time, went horseback riding.

What are some of your favorite vacation memories?