Making Syrup in Sandy Cross

Martha Whitehead was the family story-teller in the past. I suppose I have taken up her charge. I believe these stories give us not only a glimpse of the times in which they live, they also give us some insight into the people themselves.

Since it is beginning to feel like fall, I chose this story today. Recall, these are not my words, rather Martha Whitehead Moore. I am posting them here so we can all share them.

 

Making Syrup in Sandy Cross

Sandy Cross is a generous community. Everyone shares. Grandpa’s (Gus Stevens) syrup mill served the entire area. When sorghum cane was ripe, people used to sign up for a day’s use in the Fall.

“We” were the only ones who had a ribbon cane patch, and Grandpa had “Hop” Appling to cook his syrup. “Hop” cooked for most everyone. We grandchildren would get up early to watch the mule pull the grinder around and round to squeeze the juice from the cane.

We drank a little juice, but it was not as good as the syrup!

A pan, about 10 feet long was divided into sections by pieces of tin 6 inches high. The sections were open at the end – every other one open on a different side – so that the syrup could be moved to cook evenly. It was pushed and pulled with a hoe-like contraption attached to a long handle. Under the pan there was a bed of hot oak coals.

When it was done, “Hop” would let us sample it – with hot, buttered hoe cake.

Grandpa didn’t charge for the use of the mill but each family brought its own wood and cleaned the place thoroughly after use.

 

This story has an individual you might not know. “Hop” Appling was a tenant farmer on the Stevens land. I have “met” via this blog, a relative of his, Sheila Appling. Her Mother and Aunt lived on the Stevens land. I am not sure what relation Hop was to Sheila. Sheila, if you know, please let me know.

Can you all taste that syrup in your mind? I can. I love the way Martha wrote her stories. The images jump of the page. I found a few images online that give us an example of this story.  But, I can also imagine the little children waiting their turn for this tasty treat.

Making Syrup

Making Syrup

Source: http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2014-12-06/story/odum-couple-uses-modern-equipment-turn-out-old-fashioned-cane-syrup, Retrieved on 10/16/15.

Mule pulling grinder for syrup.

Mule pulling grinder for syrup.

Source:  http://cdm.georgiaarchives.org:2011/cdm/ref/collection/vg2/id/8769

Until next time when we explore backwards.

 

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Birthdays are a funny thing

 

We take for granted that you will always remember the day your child is born. Today, we have pictures, videos, documents to fill out, stork signs to put in our front yard. This was not always the case. If you are into genealogy, you look for birth records, these are a type of holy grail. It gives us birth information for the child. It also gives us information on the parents. The birth, death and marriage records are considered vital records. Historically states did not keep vital records until the 1900’s. Each state is different and started keeping them at different times. So, as a genealogist, you need to know what year the state in question started keeping track. Prior to vital records, people used the family bible as the place to indicate the vital records for one’s family. However, family bibles did not always last, they got lost, and they went to one family member so you might lose crucial information.

Ancestry.com recently uploaded Virginia Vital records that were previously only available individually at $12.00 a pop. I know, because I have given the state many dollars. So, the other day, I went through my family tree and tried to get these vital records for all of my Virginia ancestors.

I came across one of my great-aunts records. It was a “delayed certificate” as she was born prior to 1912, the year Virginia started recording vital records. I had her recorded as Anne Holmes Sublett. However, the record indicates that her father John Thomas Sublette and her mother Georgia Kate Holt had named her Annie Holmes Sublette (notice the “e”, we will talk about that later). Well, the funny thing is that they must have brought the family bible in with them as it indicates that the bible was published in 1902 and the mother had recorded the birth in the bible as 1908 or 1909, but they were attesting that Annie was born on 7 February 1904. I tend to believe the vital record instead of the bible because in the 1910 census, she is listed clearly as 6 years old. Lacy (my grandfather) was listed as 11/12th (meaning he was 11 months old), and that is accurate information. I do wonder why Annie’s mother got it wrong?

Annie Holmes Sublette

Annie Holmes Sublette

Okay, let’s talk about that “e.” When my ancestors first arrived in the new world their name was Soblet, but at some point the name was changed to be more phonetic, Sublette. My grand-father dropped the “e” at some point because he thought it was uppity.

I met a third cousin while blogging, his family kept the “e.” It is interesting because some of the Soblet descendents that traveled to Kentucky and Texas and beyond also dropped the “e.” I can tell you it does make researching ancestors more challenging when you have to search Soblet, Soblets, Sublet, Sublette, and Sublett to make sure you find everyone.

Annie was a character from what I understand.  Here a couple of pictures of her.  Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

 

Annie Sublette

Annie Sublette

Annie Sublett

Classy Annie Sublette

Unknown friend and Annie Sublette

Unknown friend and Annie Sublette

The Family Mercantile Business

My sister, cousin and I recently visited one of the old mercantile buildings that my family operated for many, many years. We visited the building that once housed the Stevens, Martin and Company Store in Carlton, Madison County. It was hard to see the store through all of the junk that was in there now. It is now an antique/junk store.

When my great-grandfather Walter joined the firm in Sandy Cross, Oglethorpe County, he was a junior partner and given a store manager position (Sara Baldwin, 2015). At some point, Walter and Ambrose Pope Stevens were sent to Carlton to open that branch. It is believed that both men were bachelors and lived above the store. Both Walter and Ambrose Pope built homes in the Carlton area to be close to the store. In 1894, Walter married Luna May Stevens (Ambrose’s older sister) and Ambrose Pope married Sally Hartsfield. “Ambrose P. Stevens was the bookkeeper for the firm and of course there were no adding machines in those days so he had to total figures in his head (Stevens, 1973, p.61).”

Circa 1903

Circa 1903

The original building in Carlton (above) burned down (date unknown). The firm purchased the brick building below and used this until the company dissolved. This is the building we visited. The two buildings were inter-connected by a large door. The second building was previously a bank as there was a safe built within.  Cousin Sara stated that in Carlton’s prime there were 3 banks in town.  Cousin Charlie stated there was even a car dealership.  It is hard to imagine a sleepy little town like Carlton once was ever a bustling place.

Circa 1940

Circa 1940

Walter Joe decided to join the family business, sometime after WWI, and he became an integral part of its operation. He took over the book-keeping responsibilities. According to Cousin Sara, the family used the company like a bank. They would shop or spend money in Athens and elsewhere, but the bills would show up at the store for Joe to pay. Ultimately, Joe shut down the corporation part and paid off the shareholders.

Cousin Jim recalls there were a lot of cool things for an 8 year-old to mess with, but he was scared of getting locked in the vault!

Cousin Sara recalls that there was a pot belly stove in the store and her “Joe Daddy and Uncle Pope” would gather around it and tell stories.

Cousin Lynn recalls the Carlton store. She stated “it was so DIM inside …and it smelled like a library-that musty, vaguely sweet smell of old books and papers.”

Here is a rough timeline of the business as best I can determine. I owe a huge debt to my late 1st cousin 2x removed, Claude Gibson Stevens whose book The Stevens Family John Stevens Line is an invaluable resource.

Partners: C.A. Stevens (Columbus Augustus), R.W. Huff (Robert Washington), John C. G. Stevens (Cylvanus Gibson), A.P. Stevens (Ambrose Pope), J.E. Stevens, J.C. Martin and W.E. Whitehead (Walter Everett)

  • 1885-   Stevens and Company established. “Gus” Stevens and his brother J.R Stevens along with first cousin Robert Huff started the general store, cotton gin and grist mill in the Village of Sandy Cross. John C.G. Stevens already had a store, but took on partners and expanded. (p. 59).
  • Unknown Date:           Name was changed to Stevens, Huff and Company
  • 1887-   30 December, name change-Stevens, Martin and Company (p. 78)
  • 1892-   Ambrose Pope Stevens became a partner (p.61)
  • 1897-   Assets of Stevens, Huff and Company were merged with the new store Stevens, Martin and Company. (p. 61)
  • 1908-   JCG Stevens sold his interest in the store and land to Walter M. Martin (brother of J.C. Martin). (p. 78)
  • 1917-   Walter Joe “Joe Daddy” Whitehead joined the firm and remained until its closure.
  • 1963-   Voluntary dissolution of company and assets. (p.59)
June 2015

June 2015

5-IMG_1019

Inside Bank Vault

View from second level

View from second level

Inside Store

If you have any additional memories, please feel free to share them here.

A sister

Our roots say we are sisters, our hearts say we are friends. ~Unknown

I have been thinking about the special relationship that sisters have with one another. I have a very special one with my sister. It is interesting since we are 5 years apart; we did not spend a great deal of time with each other growing up. I would have to say grammar school was the only time we were in the same school together. I do not actually recall that, but I think it is true. We just did not have the same circle growing up. I was closer in age to both my older brother (3 years) and my younger brother (3 years). However, brothers are different. I will explore that another day.

 

The first time I truly remember my sister becoming my friend is when we went clothes shopping. When I went off to college, my sister was planning her wedding. I was to be the bride’s maid. I would come home on some of the weekends to partake in certain wedding rituals and we became closer. She was married and moved to Chicago. She would send me care packages. I went to visit her in Chicago we would become closer. She had children, and I became an Aunt, we became closer still. To this day, I would have to say that aside from my partner in life, my sister is my best friend. I can call her, text her, send her goofy pictures and she “gets me.” She does the same. I feel sorry for people who do not have that special relationship with their sibling.

Sisters are true blessings. They can be our friends, confidants, nemesis, and a host of other adjectives. I am fortunate that all of my adjectives are positive. There are families that are not as fortunate.

Kathy and I (Christmas 1970)

Kathy and I (Christmas 1970)

 

I have seen great quotes about a sisters bond. I put a few here to paint that picture.

“I smile because you are my sister, I laugh because you can’t do anything about it.’

“In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips.”

“Side by side, or miles apart… we are sisters, connected by the heart.”

“Life made us sisters, love made us friends.”

“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams.”

 

My mom has an older sister, Carol. They are exactly two years apart. I mean it. Mom was born on Carol’s 2nd birthday. I am sure that was a stinker to little Carol, having to share her birthday with this new baby. I have heard some good stories about the two of them over the years.

Carol and Betty 1955

Carol and Betty 1955

One of my favorites was the imaginary line they would have on the bed they shared. Or the fact that they would snicker over who would be the last one to say “good night.” Carol told me in an email that she liked playing dolls more than Betty. My mom was into cowboys and Indians.

1-Mom and Carol 3

Betty and Carol 2012

My grandmother had sisters too. We will explore those another day.

On my father’s side, he had two sisters, Vivian and Annette. I know they have a special bond as well. In fact, once when Viv went to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky for missionary work, she gave me a portrait of Mary Cassatt’s 1884 painting of Children on the Beach for safe keeping. Annette got upset because this portrait represented their relationship as sisters. I gave the portrait back to Viv. I think she was forgiven.

Mary Cassatt  1884

Mary Cassatt 1884

Annette and Vivian

Annette and Vivian

Annette and Vivian 2014

Annette and Vivian 2014

So, if you are reading this and you have a special bond with your sister, give them a call, write them a note. Let them know what they mean to you. Kathy, I know you will read this. Thank you for being the great sister that you are. I wouldn’t choose anyone else, even if I could!

 

 

Sisters

Sisters

 

 

 

 

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead was born 6 October 1898 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Walter went by the name Joe. His father’s name was Walter Everett. Joe is my Grand Uncle. He was the brother to the grandfather that I never met (Fred Whitehead).

I am fortunate to know so much about Joe, due to the genealogical book that his wife, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead compiled prior to her death.

According to Aunt Chloe, “Joe attended grammar and high School in Carlton…He graduated from the High School division of Gordon Military College in June 1914 (Whitehead, 1983, p.285).”

His college life was interrupted by World War I. Joe was one of the Army’s six-month wonders. He rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the infantry. You can read more about this phenomenon here: http://blog.pressrepublican.com/archive/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46960:%27plattsburgh_idea%27_helped_prepare_u.s._for_wwi&catid=34:news-articles

Joe eventually graduated from the University of Georgia following the war in June 1920.

University of Georgia Graduation

University of Georgia Graduation

Several pages in this book give the readers a close glimpse into the courtship of Joe and Chloe. My favorite is the where she describes sitting in the lobby of their hotel following their marriage. The bellhop walked through repeating several times that there was a call for Mrs. Whitehead. Not familiar to answering to that name, Joe had to tell her that she was wanted on the telephone (Whitehead, 1983).

Joe worked at as the bookkeeper for the Stevens-Martin Mercantile. This business owned five cotton gins, two in Carlton (Madison County) and three in Oglethorpe. The store was eventually closed in 1962, after farming of cotton and corn had diminished.

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Stevens Martin Mercantile circa 1940

Joe was elected to the Madison County Board of Education in 1934. Although he was very civic-minded like his father, he never went into politics like his father. Joe had many friends that were into politics. Joe retired from the Madison County Board of education and became a member of the Georgia School Board Association in 1964. Joe was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Governor Earnest Vandiver’s staff in 1959.

In his mid-sixties, Joe’s health deteriorated. He was initially diagnosed of having a paralyzed left vocal cord. He ultimately was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died 17 May 1965 at the age of 66. My father, Larry Whitehead was one of the pallbearers as was Joe Augustus Stevens, Junior, my dad’s cousin.

Walter Joe Whitehead

Walter Joe Whitehead

(Source: The Adams Family James Adams Line, 1795-1982, Emma Chloe Adams Whitehead, 1983.)

Join me next time as we continue to explore backwards.

Another Tract of Land

One of the important things about genealogy is placement of our ancestors in the time and space in which they lived. I have learned more about history than I ever thought I would.

Recently, I found another piece of property for sale that has a family Tract name. The name Holt was my great-grandmother’s maiden name. Georgia Kate Holt was born 26 Mar 1883 in Naruna, Campbell County. I wrote about her father, Guilford “Walker” Holt last July on this blog.

Holt Aerial

Google Image of the Holt Tract

Google Image of the Holt Tract

The interesting thing about find this property is to ponder all of the life’s events that occurred here. Georgia Kate was the eldest child of Sue and Walker Holt nine children. Raising nine children is rough anytime but this was after the Civil War, and the Wild West was in full swing. Jesse James and Billy the Kid are both shot and killed. The Brooklyn Bridge and the Washington Monument are both completed before the turn of the century.

Georgia and her siblings were born and raised in Campbell County. The census records indicate that they lived in the Falling River District, which is located near and around the town of Naruna. Tobacco was the major crop for Campbell County. “Brookneal served as a major tobacco market for many years” due to its proximity to the Staunton River (Campbell County Website). This was probably the crop of my ancestors.

 Georgia Holt Sublett 001

I cannot seem to find the marriage date for Georgia Kate and John Thomas, however, according to the 1910 Census, we find them living in Campbell County, and luckily, one of the census questions was how long in present marriage. They indicated 9 years. Therefore, it is safe to assume that sometime after the 1900 census, they married. There is no way to know how far away the lived from her parents. We do know that they remained in the same Enumeration District (Falling River) during the 1910 and 1920 census. Georgia’s father dies in the spring of 1929. On the 1930 Census, Georgia’s mother Sue Etta Wood Holt is now living in the home with Georgia and her husband John Thomas.

Georgia and John Thomas go on to have children of their own: Claudia, Anne, Lacy, Mae and Clarice. We have already discussed my grandfather Lacy Luke Sublett, but we will soon discuss the others.

JT Sublett and Georgia 001

Until later, help me explore backwards.  If you have anything to add, please let me know.