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.

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!

 

 

 

Sweet Summer Memories

When you think of summer, it is inevitable that you imagine a beach or a swimming pool.  There is a memory that I recall often because it involves my mother’s ingenuity.  It is also a memory that gives people a good laugh.

 

So today, I thought for a change I would write my story.  My three siblings and I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1970’s.  It was a typical upbringing; we played sports, we played outside until dark, we knew our neighbors.

According to the US Census, the population of Middleburg Heights was 12,367 in 1970.  This was a 120% increase from just ten years previously (US Census).

My parents raised four children primarily on one salary; so my mother had to find inexpensive and creative ways to keep her children entertained in the summer time.  The concept of neighborhood swimming pools hadn’t been implemented.

My mother recounts that one day she was driving down Pearl road where she noticed a pool outside of a small motel.  On an impulse, she stopped and went inside.  She asked the manager about using the pool during the summer.  She said, I “guess he was in a state of shock that someone would ask to do that.  [We] went almost every day during the week.”  Mom recalled that there were several families that went.  She and a friend even made our beach towels.  The cost for this fabulous entertainment was $35.00 for the summer.

I remember having tons of fun at the pool.  We did not have any concept that it was peculiar.  I can still see the women smoking cigarettes, and the children running….no, I mean, “fast walking,” remember you are not supposed to run around the pool!

One day, my mom left the pool area to either get more ice or snacks or maybe to freshen her martini (just kidding).  It was at this time that I decided to jump off the diving board.  I was young enough not to be a good swimmer so I had a Styrofoam safety ring around my waist.  I jumped into the deep end and the ring split into two.  I do not have a memory of being frantic.  I do have a memory of my sister jumping in and getting me.

life-preserver

Glamorous Lifestyles

I wanted to find an image to remind us what motels looked like in the 1970’s so go along with this story.  This one is pretty close to my memory.  What are your childhood memories of summer time?

 

Source: “Ohio: Population and Housing Unit Counts” (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 21, 2018. 

 

The original family historian

Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead

AKA Coco, Chloe

Today, I am going to write some of what I know about Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead.  Writing about this ancestor is easy; she left us a book about her family.  I am truly indebted to her for this.  It is because of this book that I got the idea that I could do the same for my branch.    I know I have met her twice once when I was about two and the other about 8 years later.  According to a letter my mom wrote to Chloe after our visit on 12 August 1971, I referred to Chloe as Co-Co.  Mom wrote, “Krista is still talking about Co-Co and Mae-Mae.”  I believe all her grandchildren did.

According to her book, at some point her Uncle Claud would call her “Amma Chloe”  She wrote, “Why does he bear down on that ‘Am’ instead of calling me Emma Chloe as others did.  This made my first name distasteful to me the rest of my life (p.256).

Chloe was born 1 September 1902 in Newton County, Georgia to Newton Columbus Adams and Mattie Elizabeth Barber.  She was the youngest of their 8 children.  Chloe’s mother, Mattie passed away when she was 3 years old.    Her father remarried a twice widowed lady, Eugenia Jackson on 27 November 1907.

According to her book, the family moved around a lot while her father was buying and selling real estate.  Before Chloe was born the family moved from Newton County to Cobb County and back again.  They lived in Oxford, Winder, Lawrenceville, Kirkwood, Hapeville, Mansfield in the period of 10 years or so.  Her mother was sick after caring for her father’s prolonged illness and the death of her mother in law.  “The doctor prescribed the Texas climate…he appeared to be a man who did whatever was necessary at the time and worried about the consequences later (p. 161).”  So, during 1904, Newt took his wife Mattie and his three youngest girls to Amarillo for 6 months.

According to the 1910 US Census, she was listed as Emma and lived in Dekalb County, Georgia, Kirkwood, District 33 with her father, step-mother, older sister Ella and step-sister Natalie Reed.  The census indicates that Chloe’s father Newton was employed in real estate.

I could not find Chloe in the 1920 Census, so I went back to her book and found out why.  Her father died in July 1917, her step-mother went to live with her mother in Atlanta.  Chloe stated that she “had to shuttle about between my sisters and brothers and her (step-mom) until she was married (Whitehead, 1983, p257.)”  So now, she has lost both parents and she is not even 15 years old.

In the 1930 Census, we find Chloe has married Walter Joe Whitehead, they have two girls, Martha Mae and Mary Elizabeth. Martha was six at the time of the census, and Mary was two-year old.  They lived next door to his father Walter E. Whitehead.  The location of this census is Madison County, Fork District.  The awesome part of this, is I seen both of these houses.  So I know exactly where they are.  According to my cousin Sara, Papa was courting a lady from Athens about that time.  It might have seem burdensome to the woman if she came into a family with his son’s family living with them, along with two grandchildren.

According to the 1940 Census, the last one that is available to the public.  Chloe is living with her husband Walter Joe, her father in law, Walter E. Whitehead and her two daughters are now 14 and 12 respectively.  They are still living in the big house in Carlton.

Papa’s House

Although we do not have any more census records to refer to we have something better.  We have her book, The Adams Family: James Adams Line, published posthumously by her daughters in 1983.

According to Chloe, Papa’s doctors advised him to give up driving the car.  “I drove him once or twice a day to his farms in Oglethorpe County for two years.  While he talked to his farm hands or prospective customers, I occupied my time crocheting baby booties in anticipation of the arrival of grandbabies, Sally; then Charlie (Whitehead, 1983, p.272).

Farming had changed by then, Papa died in 1951.  Joe, his son, was President of the Stevens-Martin Firm.  It was decided in 1962 that the business would close.  “Cotton was no longer ‘king’ and corn, wheat, and other grains could not reign in the south because of the lay of the land (p. 273).”

After this, and with her children grown, Chloe and Joe began to travel more.  It is interesting to read in her book all of the places they went: Cuba, France, Italy, Germany, etc.

 

Chloe was very active in her Church.  In her book she states she joined the Carlton Baptist Church in 1926.  I say convenience was on her side as the church was literally a block away!  She was in the choir, head of the music department.

 

Chloe had many talents in addition to playing music beautifully, she was also an artist.  Below are some paintings that Sara and Charlie shared with me for this post.

 

Chloe was also the family historian, she wrote the book in which I quote and refer to often.  She was the genealogist, the record keeper, the glue. Additionally, she wrote other stories and kept copious albeit disorganized notes and newspaper clippings.  Going through the contents of the Whitehead box, I feel a kinship.  She was the hub of the family.  While her husband carried on in the family business, She kept correspondence with friends and family..

Her husband, my Great-Uncle, died in the spring of 1965 (17 May 1965).  She went to live another 17 years without him.

Chloe Adams Whitehead

There is so much to write about her, but this is a good place to stop.  Her grandchildren Sara and Charlie have been so good to me since I have reached out to them.  Their extensive history of family is evident of their love of family.  I will leave you with this:

 

Charlie shared a snipped for me for this post.  When asked if he could share some memories, he wrote “OMG I only have about 100 volumes.  I never heard her cuss.  I never heard her raiser her voice…drink…smoke…get really angry.  She did love her Cadillac’s from 1960 on (she) got a new one every four years”

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Patriot Walter E. Whitehead

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Page 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Until then, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Krista

 

Friday Photos

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

 

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

Sublett Sisters

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

Say Cheese!

 

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

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

Johnson Family

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

Lacy loving Odelle

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

 

May the blessings of the Christmas Season be yours!

 

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Photo Frenzy

 

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

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

Girl Power

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

 

Larry and Marge Whitehead 1939

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

 

Jack & Carol Johnson

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

Larry & Betty Whitehead

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

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

 

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

 

 

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.

A new way of living

Maya Angelou said,

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Margaret Agnes Kersten Whitehead or Marge as she was known had to be a very strong woman.  Her husband of 24 years died in 1950.  She still had two children in the home, Annette (age 15) and Larry (age 13) and one daughter who had already taken vows in service with the Catholic Church.  She did have the support of her parents.  However, they were aging.  Her mother died in 1959, then her father the very next year.  So, in the span of 10 years she lost some very important people in her life.

Meanwhile during those 10 years and until her death in 1967, she stood strong.  We are now able to see this through some letters she sent to Chloe Whitehead, her sister-in-law.  These letters are priceless because I am now able to learn a glimpse of her and my father and aunts.

One document that is more a sign of the times is document from the Probate Court of Cook County in regards to the two minors, Annette and Lawrence.  Margaret had to go to court after her husband’s death and be appointed their guardian.  According to my Aunt Viv, “she really had to take hold of life…get a job…and carry on.”  Since we do not have any census records for the time period after my grandfather died, these letters help us know more about both her domicile and her occupation.

Margaret_K_Whitehead_1951-Guardianship

 

You can read my earlier post here:  https://exploringbackwards.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/chicago-born-and-raised/

I wish I could include every letter because there are so many gems of affection and information, but I wanted to summarize.

1951 Letter-Address is listed as 7939 Champlain Ave.  This is the location where her parents lived in what is called a “two flat.”  It is a Chicagoan term for a two unit apartment building.  My grandfather owned this two-flat.  It appears that Marge and the kids moved into the upstairs apartment after Fred died.  In the letter, Marge tells Chloe that Viv is back at Joliet and teaching.  Larry is playing baseball at St. Rita’s high school.

Maybe my Dad and Aunt can chime in about the move…

1955 Letter-Address is listed as 7939 Champlain Avenue.  She uses work stationary so we can verify that she is working for the Chicago North Shore System.  She tells Chloe that she went on a tour of Yellowstone Park and the Grand Tetons.  She doesn’t indicate who went with her.  She also updates Chloe that Annette got her stripe for her cap (nursing lingo).  Additionally, Larry has not been on a furlough yet.  Larry enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation in 1955.  She also includes a post script note to her brother in law Joe about the Chicago White Sox doing well that season.

1957 Letter-This letter is hand written and does not specify a home address.  Marge writes that they had a nice Christmas at Annette and Don’s house.  Annette’s husband picked them up (presumably Margaret and her parents).  She writes that her mother has arthritis in her neck.  Larry was in NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) School and came in first out of 37 others.  Larry is also a corporal.  Way to go Dad!

1958 Letter-A typed written letter using the work stationary but does not specify a home address.  She writes to Chloe that her daughter Annette is going to have a baby.  It appears there were some problems with the pregnancy.  She also remarks “we are just about through buying on our house.”  It appears to me that since she talks about a lawn, she is referring to the house at 8638 S. Sangamon Street.  She updates Chloe on Larry’s progress at school (Southern Illinois University) and that he will work for Ford over the summer.

8638 s sangamon-last home

Margaret Whitehead’s Home

1960 Letter- typed without an envelope.  Marge advised that her father passed away on September 4th.  He had trouble with his liver, etc.  Marge was concerned for he was not answering from the bathroom.  She had her son Larry (age 24), go check on him and he had died.  She writes, “Now, for the third time in ten years I’m starting a new life – or I should say a new way of living.”  She closes the letter by stating that Annette and her husband want her to come live with them.  She writes, “But this is one thing I have always said I wouldn’t do.”

1963-Letter, typed. There is different letter head, “Norfolk Southern Railway Company.”    She wrote to say how pleased she was that they were able to attend Larry and Betty’s wedding.  She writes, “They (meaning Lacy and Odelle Sublett) are so nice and I am glad that Larry had the good sense to pick such a lovely girl.”

1964-Letter typed letter, same letter head.  In this letter, she discusses that Betty and Larry have a little girl.  Marge is happy that Betty has taken over the correspondence.  She wrote, “she is so good about writing and Larry is the world’s worst.”   Marge tells Chloe that she has had ups and downs in terms of her health.  But she keeps working every day.  She is 58 years old in this letter.  She closes with “Yesterday was Fred’s birthday.  It’s funny how you still miss them after so much time has gone by.  Time dulls the pain, but you just never forget.”

1965 Letter, typed.  It is written on the same letter head as previous.  She writes to tell Chloe about the birth of Michelle.  She wrote, “If Annette can keep Susan away from her long enough, I think she will live.  Susan is so rough, from playing with Jeff, that we are afraid she will hurt her.”  She also wrote that Betty and Larry went to Lynchburg for Christmas.  “Kathy was queen and took over the place.”  These two quotes are some of my favorites.

1966 Letter, typed.  Letter is not on work stationary.  It is dated April 14, 1966.  Marge asks how Chloe is adjusting (Walter Joe Whitehead died 17 May 1965).  She writes, “I hope you are becoming adjusted to your new way of life a little….It certainly takes time that is all I can say.  By this time, Marge’s husband Fred had been deceased for 16 years.  The letter goes on to describe the visit that my parents took to see her for Easter with Kathy and David.  She writes, “The baby is adorable – in fact he is too pretty to be a boy.  His hair is sort of reddish and has tendency to curl….he definitely has the Whitehead mouth.”  She writes that Vivian (Sister Michelyn) is back in Joliet teaching.  “She is always flitting around and I get to see her quite a bit.  I never know when she is going to pop in on me at the office to be taken out to lunch…She sure has a lot of pep.  I could use some of it.”

1966 Letter, typed.  Letter is on Norfolk Southern stationary.  It is dated July 14, 1966.  She writes that she is still in her home on Sangamon.  She writes, “The neighborhood is turning, our street hasn’t gone too fast.”  She is worried about the market and loans.  She remarks that Betty and Jim are coming to Chicago.  Later in the letter she discussed the hot humid weather has almost “knocked me out.”  She writes “I never appreciated my good health when I had it, but I’m thankful that I can still get around.”

Marge then makes a reflective comment, “As you have probably found out by this time you have to make a new life for yourself and it is hard trying to do it without your ‘partner.’ Nobody seems able to take their place.  I know you can do it though as you are like I am, you KNOW you have to keep going and you do it.”  It was sweet of her to give her sister-in-law these words of encouragement.

1967 Letter, typed.  Letter is on Norfolk Southern stationary but also has her address in Sangamon.  The outside of the letter Chloe has written “Marge’s last letter to me.”  Inside Marge writes that she is slowing down.  “What’s happening I think is that I’m getting old and slowing up…It takes me longer to do things now-a-days, especially with arthritis in my hands and feet.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  She updates Chloe that her mom’s sister (Gretchen Margaretta Stalhaber Dienfenbach) had come to visit with her daughter from California.  Marge discusses that her Aunt is going blind and her memory has slipped.  “She is so cute because she knows that her memory is failing and she tries so hard to remember who you are.”  A side note, this Aunt went on to live until she was 100 years old! Marge updates Chloe that Larry and family were in again for Easter.  She remarks that Annette and family are fine.  She writes, “Susan was quite a fink for a while but she has snapped out of it and is just darling.”  Now I know where my father got that word, fink.

Well, you might be asking why I wrote this post.  I believe through reading these letters I have been able to see my grandmother come to life.  What a strong woman she was.  I have only known her on paper, as she passed away 16 months before I was born.  The obstacles she faced in life were no match for her.  Her letters show how articulate she was.  Although the 1940 Census states she only finished 2 years of high school, Viv stated that she went to a school for business, learning typing and shorthand.

She became stronger through her battles and I wanted to share that with you.  She was an independent resilient woman and I am glad that I have some of that DNA.

Margaret Whitehead

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.