26 July 2014

Origins of a Letter

     A few years ago, I received a copy of an article that transcribed a letter written by Frank E Leaphart, my 3rd Great-Grandfather and a Civil War soldier.  It was unclear where the article was published - a book, a magazine? - or where the original letter was stored - an archive, by an individual? - or if there was any information in the publication aside from the letter.  I've been trying to find the origins of the letter ever since receiving it.

   I recently picked up the July/August issue of Family Tree Magazine which included the article "Better Together."  It explains the collaboration between FindMyPast.com and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI).  Before reading this article, I had heard of both of these, but hadn't used either.  But I was intrigued by the idea of PERSI, which is an index of genealogical magazines and journals, many of which have been digitized.  So I went to search.findmypast.com/search/periodical-source-index and did a surname search for "Leaphart," which turned up five results (I started with Leaphart because it's a local variation of Liebhardt and if I find it, I know it's my family).  To my absolute surprise, one of those results was "F. E. Leaphart Civil War letter to wife Julie, 1863."  My letter!

     When I clicked on the article, I was met with a payment wall.  Do I pay? First off, my article has not been digitized.  Secondly, on the search page, I am given the name of the article, the periodical title and the publication year.  This is enough to find the article, but not enough to do so easily.  I could contact the periodical personally and request back issues or assistance looking up the article - but how often do they publish? Monthly? Quarterly?  That's potentially a lot of issues to purchase.  They might not even be in business anymore.  So I went ahead and purchased a single month subscription to FindMyPast.com in order to access the full results.

     As I said, particular article was not digitized, but that's ok.  Now that I'm past the pay wall, I have information on the exact volume that the article is published in.  I can use his information to fill out a form (pdf) to request up to six articles at a time for a fee of $7.50, plus 20¢ per page.  And I very quickly found six articles to request - this is a treasure trove!  I'll be waiting excited for the articles that I requested and will probably find a more to request in the mean time.

31 May 2014

Finding PawPaw's CCC Camp

     A few years ago, I obtained my PawPaw's Civilian Conservation Corps records.  They indicated that he, Thomas Craft, served at Camp SP-3 at Albemarle, North Carolina.   The records gave me a lot of information about him, but not much about the location where he served.  I've searched on and off for more information, but tonight I must have finally done something right.

     I discovered that my PawPaw served at Camp Doughton, which helped to build Morrow Mountain State Park.  I found mention of the park's grand opening, which mentioned the CCC, and then found a silent video, posted by the State Archive of North Carolina on YouTube, which has some scenes of the camp.  Looks like I'll need to plan a trip to visit this park some time in the future.

Camp scenes begin at the 3 minute mark

27 May 2014

Membership Complete (DAR)

     My DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) membership journey is complete.  I was inducted last week during the May meeting, which was a sort of end of the year luncheon.  Getting to this point took quite a while, though mainly due to my own procrastination.

      I first considered joining back in November of 2009 on a completely different line than I ended up joining on.  But, once I contacted the local DAR chapter, it only took about 6 months to hand in my documents, have the application completed, signed, sent off and accepted.   I still seems like a long time, but in that time period I was able to attend meetings and get to know a bit more about the local chapter.  When I got my membership number (and access to more of the website), as well as the chapter newsletter, I felt like I had access to more information.  But I still feel like there's more to learn.  They have a lot of information online, but at the same time, it's about the organization, while the activities really take place at a chapter level.  And the local chapter's website is very cookie cutter.

     The next meeting isn't until September.  During the last meeting the officer positions changed, so I assume that they take the summer to learn about their jobs and plan for the upcoming year.  I'm taking the time to work on a project under the Genealogical Records committee, which is an online indexing program.  The current project, BookSync, is very simple and involves taking previously indexed records and attaching them electronically to the correct page (skipping pages with non-indexed material) and tagging Family Bibles for special recognition.  If you do a certain amount of pages, you are eligible to purchase a pin to wear in recognition.

     And that brings me to the topic of pins.  There are tons of them, some available to anyone, such as chapter and ancestor bars, some to identify positions held, such as Regent, some to identify achievements, such as the BookWorm pin for indexing, and others to show financial contributions.  But they are a bit pricey and can only be worn during official DAR functions.  I think they would be nice to have, but that I wouldn't be able to wear them often (and I'm still confused on the dress code). I'd estimate that only about 1/3 or fewer members wear them at meetings.  If you are a member - what are your thoughts on pins?

     But pins aren't the reason I decided to join the DAR.  I had two goals in mind: 1. to see if my research held up to their standards; 2. to get involved in something and be more social.  I'm looking forward to next September and hope to get involved in a committee or two.  Hopefully I'll get a lot out of my membership.


29 April 2014

The March Begins

     More Sesquicentennial history goodness, this time from Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta History Center.  Each week, for 37 weeks, there will be a short video detailing Sherman's march across Georgia.

     I had a great many ancestors' in Sherman's path, in both Georgia and in his return path through South Carolina.  Some families, such as those living in Emanuel County, Georgia, and Lexington County, South Carolina, were directly in Sherman's path.  This video series is of great interest to me and I hope to learn many new things.

     Right now, you can watch Week One (Apr 21-27) and Week Two (Apr 28-May 4), or view a list of all videos.

25 April 2014

A Little Postal History

     I unexpectedly had the day to spend with my mom today and, after dithering back and forth, we decided to browse some antique stores.  On the way, however, I spotted the sign for the "Yellow River Post Office Park" (3519 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lilburn, Georgia).   We'd noticed this before and knew it was something historic, but had never taken the time to check it out.  On impulse, I pulled into the parking lot.

     The park turned out to be quite small, but full of local history.  Signage throughout the park told the story of the Hudson - Nash families, their plantation and the General Store / Post Office that they ran.  There were four buildings, two from the 1830s and two from the 1930s.  They were locked up, but it was still neat to see what the buildings were like from the outside - especially the General Store / Post Office, which had been built in use for over 150 years ago.  I loved the mail slot with the faded "Yellow River" brand above it.  History!

     My family wasn't in this area at the time, but I can connect through the knowledge that my many-times-great Grandfather, Willis Craft, served as Post Master in Elbert County, Georgia around the same time period.  I wonder if his post office was in a general store too?

21 April 2014

The Slowly Growing 1812 Pensions

   I periodically check in to see how the War of 1812 Pension Files database is growing on Fold3.com.  It was recently updated and I was able to search for my 'G' surname ancestors, which is actually just one guy: Michael Garman.

     I am really excited about this project and the information that it can provide about my ancestors.  For Michael, I had seen a lot of information in online family trees but, as is often the case, didn't see any sources.  There was actually a lot of information available on the previously available index cards... but who doesn't always want to see the actual record?  Who trusts an index anyway?  Here's some of the information that I found in Michael Garman's pension file:
  • That he was drafted
  • When, where and with whom he served
  • When and where he was discharged
  • His wife's name and when(ish) and where(ish) they were married
  • That he did not see action
  • That he received a surgeon's discharge for a disabled shoulder
  • That he had received 80 acres of bounty land but had "legally transferred and disposed of it" and wanted more land
  • That he claimed not to have sided with the Confederacy (I say ha! to that)
  • He claimed to have aged really quickly! (65 in 1850, 80 in 1855 and 100 in 1871)
     And how I said there was a lot of information on the index?  Yeah, you can't trust the index card.  It said that Michael and his wife, Polly (Mary?), were married in 1812.  The actual records states "he was married on the __ day of __ 180(before the war began) in the State of South Carolina.   I read that to say that he was married in eighteen oh-something, whereas the indexer read it to mean when the war began in 1812.  

     This pension records provides a lot of dates and places, as well as tidbits of randomness that hint at more.  I'm going to take those tibits and hopefully find even more information about Michael Garman... while waiting patiently for P, R, and maybe other surnames to be added to the database.

     But if I really want to hurry things along, I can take a more active role in the process. Anyone can make a donation to Preserve The Pensions Project and, thanks to Ancestry.com, each donation will be matched to make an even bigger impact.

14 April 2014

April's DAR Meeting (Pending Membership)

     I attended my 3rd DAR meeting yesterday and this time I took my mom with me.  It was interesting because, like many things Genealogy, most people will assume that she's dragging me along, and not vice versa.  But I wanted her to see how the meetings went and let her decide if she wants to join.  She doesn't have a job right now since her company went out of business, though she does watch my nephew (aka the Best Baby Ever) three days a week.  I think that she'd have a lot more time to participate than I will.

     This meeting was the first one in which I had a pre-printed name tag, from which I figured out that I've moved from "prospective member" to "pending member."  I think I've been pending for a bit; I'm not sure but I think that means my application has been sent in, vs I'm still considering membership/working on my application.  Pretty much my best guess here; I still have a lot to learn.

     And that's one thing about this experience that I felt at this meeting: that there's still so much I don't know.  From what I've picked up, it's not that it's a secret or anything; if I ask a question I get an answer.  However, I don't know all of the questions to ask.  I think that once I have my membership number I will have access to the member's website that contains tons of information.

     And, according to the Interim Registrar, my application is "up next."  Maybe I'll become a member next month!

    Anyway, this month's speaker was from Atlanta's Historic Oakland Cemetery - one of my most favorite places.  I've gone on a few tours at Oakland, but have only scratched the surface of the many different experiences they offer.  Although I know a good bit about the cemetery, this presentation reminded me of how much more there is.  It really made me want to visit again, especially in the spring with all of the flowers and trees in bloom.

12 April 2014

Civil War Cannons - How It All Worked

     At a recent visit to Andersonville NHS, where the notorious Civil War Prison once stood, I was able to observe an artillery presentation.  They explained how cannons were used in the Civil War.  I put it all together in a video and, if you are at all interested in this time period, I think you will enjoy watching.  And watch all the way through the end to see the cannon fired.

31 March 2014

A Headstone For Ruby

     I want to reach out to my Albea / Waters family to help me fulfill a promise that mom and I made to Grandmama.

     When I first got started researching my family tree, I set out to find their graves. It took a long time to find my Great-Grandmoter, Ruby Waters Huyler's, grave, as my Grandmother, Betty, was very upset by her mother's death and had blocked her burial location from her mind. When we did find Ruby's grave, we were surprised to find it unmarked - as was my Grandmother, who remembered picking out a stone for placement. She was very distraught to hear the news.

     My mom, also named Ruby, promised to one day place a headstone on her namesakes' grave. It's been ten years since then, and it's time to do something to fullfill that promise.

     Ruby Waters Huyler is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, just a little South West of Atlanta. For $600, we can purchase and install a granite marker for her grave. Please pitch in what you can, be it $10 or $50, and help us fullfill our promise to Grandmama.

     Click here to donate.  If you can't do it now, that's fine.  I have set the goal at three months and hope everyone can pitch in a bit.

25 March 2014

St Michael's Lutheran Church Cemetery

     When on vacation earlier this month in Columbia, South Carolina, I re-visted the St Michael's Lutheran Church Cemetery.  I'd visited the cemetery before, but it was the last stop on a long trip and I really didn't give it the attention it deserved.

     This visit was on an early, rainy and cold morning.  I was looking for the graves of my Hyler and Meetze/Metz families, which were documented online already at FindAGrave.com.  Even when there are photos of my ancestor's graves online, I really prefer to visit myself and get my own photos (partly for copyright issues, partly to take a better photo) and get a sense of where they lived.

      While I was there, I took some video on my phone, which you can check out below:

12 March 2014

Surprises at the Lexington County Library

   After leaving the South Carolina Archive, my mom and I went to the Lexington County Library's Main Branch location.  From their website, I knew that they had a South Carolina Room for genealogy research, which included local newspapers on microfilm.  Unfortunately, their website doesn't really provide any more information on what resources they had available.  From their Obit Index, I knew that there was at least one obituary that I needed.  I also wanted to see what else they had available.

     When we arrived, we headed straight for the microfilm, a list of which was available in a small folder.  To my surprise, the list started with church records.  There were numerous rolls of records, and on roll seven I saw the names of two of the churches my ancestors had attended: St Michael's and Mt Pleasant.

     I was extremely excited and sat down to the microfilm reader... which didn't work!  I started getting anxious, but luckily the other machine did work.  Whew!

     I found the St Michael's Lutheran Church records first, which contained birth, marriage, death and membership records.  I first found records for many-times-great aunts and uncles births, then found one for my 3rd Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Metz, who was born in 1826!  This was an amazing find.  South Carolina didn't start issuing birth and death certificates until 1915, so church or bible records are the only source before that date.  I also found records showing that my 4th and 5th Great Grandfathers, Gabriel and Barnet Hyler, had attended the church.

     The second set of church records were for Mt Pleasant Lutheran Church, which was lost when Lake Murray was damed up.  I found a plot map of their cemetery, listing the exact location of my 3rd Great-Grandparents' burial - except for the fact that they were moved when the lake water rose.  Luckily, I do know where they were moved to.  I found some funny records too; it seems that my 2nd Great Grandfather, John W Hyler, had "gone astray," while his brother had "gone to the Methodists."

     After browsing through these records, I didn't have a lot of spare time to browse newspapers.  I did find the obituary I'd located in the index, but didn't spend much time on them otherwise.  These papers are all slated to be added to Chronicling America sometime this year or next, so I'll have another chance to search them from the comfort of my home.

     The library also had a number of books of interest that my mom found, as well as vertical files with newspaper articles.  It's too bad that I don't live closer and could spend more time exploring their collection.  But I'm extremely happy with what I did find.

Counterfactuals: WWI

     I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a story on All Things Considered in which the host exploring a counterfactual history of World War I, in which the Archduke was not killed, WWI did not take place... and a ton of other stuff didn't happen.  Listen to the story or at least read the article to find out what all they theorize might have changed, from politics, to science to social issues (which is just about everything).

     They challenged listeners to send in their ideas on what might have been different.  I tried to thing about how this might have directly impacted my ancestors, which was somewhat difficult, but here are a few things:
  • No WWI means that there would be no unstable, resentful and vulnerable Germany, thus no WWII.  So my grandfather wouldn't have gone overseas and his crops wouldn't have been stolen while he was there.  He would have stayed home and farmed, and not have given it all up and moved to Atlanta for different work.  My parents would never have met and I would never have been born.  
  • WWII means that women wouldn't have entered the workforce to make up for the men going overseas, or taken certain positions in the army.  Women like my Great-Aunt Ollie wouldn't have gone to California to build airplanes and fill other jobs around the country.  Without this experience, the women's liberation movement would be delayed and we could today remain in a society where women, especially in the middle and upper classes, are expected to be homemakers. 
     It's hard to come up with things!  I didn't have any post-war immigrant ancestors or World War deaths in the family.  I bet others can come up with more.

11 March 2014

Nathan Britt (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, and week 10 is about one of my paternal great-grandfathers.

     Nathan Britt was born on 9 March 1901 (mine too!) in Emanuel County to William Britt and Amelia Parish.  He was the last child of the couple, who had both been married a few times before.  His father was 76 years old, his mother was 44.  Whoa, huh?  I recently made a DNA match on my Parish line, but I'd love to find one on my Britt line to confirm everything.

Nathan with his granddaughter and son,
on the back of a wagon 
     Nathan's dad died maybe a year after his birth and, based on census information, it seems that he, his mother, and siblings grew up in his oldest full-sister's household.  Based on the 1940 census, Nathan didn't complete a single year of school, which is backed up by the 1920 census' report that he could neither read nor write - though the 1930 census reports a yes.  I imagine that he might have learned at a later age.

     Nathan married Ledora Barfield and their children were Ollie, Sarah, Evoid, and Helen.  Nathan and Ledora separated, with Nathan moving to Elbert County, Georgia.  I don't think they had a legal divorce, but after her death he was married for a short time to a woman named Silvina.  I don't know much about her (is that how her name is spelled?), except that she had two grown sons and she and Nathan didn't stay together long.

     Nathan was a farmer and his grandchildren say that he was extremely fast at picking cotton; faster than anyone else, in fact.  It seems that Nathan struggled some in his later years, but he was beloved by his children until the end.  He is buried in Melwood Cemetery in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and his oldest daughter, Ollie, opted to be buried next to her father to stay near him forever.

10 March 2014

Sally Ruth Evans (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, and week nine is about one of my paternal great-grandmothers.  I know I'm behind but I don't even know how far - one week or two? I went on vacation and I'm all mixed up.

     Sally Ruth Evans was born 17 August 1902 in Hart County, Georgia to John H Evans and Leila F Craft.   She was only eight years old when her father died, and 10 when her mother married James W Brown.  From the 1940 census, it appears that she attended school only through the 7th grade.  When she was 16 she married Bennie E Craft, and at 17 gave birth to her first of nine children.

     My Great-Grandmother is one of those cases where an ancestor's name is constantly in flux.  Sometimes she's recorded as Sallie or Sally, sometimes as Ruth.  As a child and a young wife, the census listed her as Sallie.  It seems like the older she got, the more likely she would be recorded as Ruth.  Later in life she often appeared as Sally Ruth.  When I asked my dad, he said she was Ruth.  I don't know if it's a case of going by her middle name but giving her legal name, or what.  It's just confusing though.

     She was the only great-grandparent still living when I was born and I have a vague recollection of meeting her once at a family reunion.  I don't remember much, just the image of an elderly lady in a wheelchair coming down the isle between picnic tables.

     She died 20 June 1999 in Hart County, Georgia, and was buried with her husband at the Rock Branch Baptist Church in Elbert County, Georgia.

A Visit to the South Carolina Archive

     A few days ago, I traveled to Columbia, SC, on a two day genealogy trip with my mom as my research assistant.  My first stop was the South Carolina Archive.  I'd been there before, a few years prior, and gotten what limited vital records documents that I could find.  And that's the problem with South Carolina: there are limited records.  For example, civil marriage records don't start until 1911.

     I had a few goals for this visit:
  • Locate estate records for David and Peter Quattlebaum that FamilySearch had indexes for, but not the actual records.
  • Search for Civil War pension records for Nathan Hyler.  I had a newspaper article saying he's applied - but did he actually get the pension?
  • Find evidence of Samuel Armstrong's service in the Revolutionary War.
  • Find evidence of Franklin E Leapart's father, said to be George Leaphart.
    I succeeded on the first two, half succeeded on the third and came up empty on the fourth.  

   On the third goal, I was able to look up the source cited by the DAR for Samuel Armstrong's revolutionary service, which was an article in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine.  But the problem is that I still need to make sure that this is my Samuel Armstrong and not another man by the same name.  

     As for finding evidence of Franklin Leaphart's father, thanks to Sherman destroying the entire town of Lexington in 1865, there are no pre-civil war records.  Thanks a lot Sherman!

     I was underprepared for my visit, based on assumptions I made based on my last visit.  When I had visited about two years ago, microfilm images could only be printed via a microfilm reader with a quarter receiver, much like a bubble gum machine.  Now, there are fancy microfilm readers attached to computers.  And me without my thumb drive!

     I'd say the visit was moderately successful.  I found a few things I wanted, but not everything.  We left around 3pm and decided to head over to the Lexington County Library and check out their South Carolina Research Room.

01 March 2014

Bennie England Craft (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, and week eight is about one of my paternal great-grandfathers.

     Bennie "B. E." Craft was born 6 Feb 1896 in Hartwell, Georgia.  He was the son of George Craft and Effie Powell, a farming family.  Given B. E.'s age, I thought that there was a chance that he fought in World War I.  WWI Draft Cards are one of my go-to records for finding information on my ancestors, but I was confused when I couldn't find one for B. E.  I was using the record collection on Ancestry.com, and I don't know how many times I searched or browsed that database.  He was the right age - why was there no draft card?  Could there be a problem with this database?

     After a while, I found out (through a fellow researcher), that one of B. E.'s brothers had fought in WWI - but he didn't have a draft card either.  Of course, he could have signed up before being drafted, but I saw this as an indication that there could be a problem with the database.  I made and broke plans a few times to visit the National Archive's Atlanta branch to view the "original" microfilm.  Before I got around to that, however, FamilySearch, put up the same WWI draft cards.

     Only, they weren't quite the same.  This collection included B. E.'s card!

     So, this experience reminds me of a few things: Don't assume that one version of a record collection (especially a copy-of-a-copy) is 100% correct; follow up with plans to seek alternative access to record collections.

     In the end, B. E.'s draft card doesn't really give me any new information, but it's another piece of the puzzle, another document about my ancestor.  And I want them all.

22 February 2014

Betty Dolores Huyler (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, so week seven is about my maternal grandmother (Grandmama).

     Betty Dolores Huyler was born in Atlanta in 1931 to Very "Mack" Huyler and Ruby Lee Waters.  Her parents separated almost immediately after her birth, and Betty was raised in large part by her maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles.  She grew up partly in Atlanta and partly in Greenville, South Carolina, mainly in mill villages.  At some point in her childhood she was hit by a car and almost killed.  This affected her memories of her younger years.

     Betty married young, at only 15 years old, and did not finish school.  She was a homemaker, but she also wanted to work and help support her family when money was tight.  When her husband, Roy, was away working as a truck driver, Betty actually got a job a time or two.  But Roy would come home and find out and, at least once, actually when to her job and brought her home.

     She was a woman of many hobbies.  Betty often taught herself new crafts, such as crochet, gardening, and ceramics painting.  The homes of her children and grandchildren are now home to many of her creations.  She was also a fan of science fiction, in books, tv and movies.  She got her various children and grandchildren hooked on Dr Who, Harry Potter and Robert Jordan.

21 February 2014

Squad No. 10

     Throughout the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, I've been researching my soldier ancestors.  There are a few men in my family tree who were of the right age to fight, but for whom I have not found any record of service.   One of those men is David Jefferson Witt, born 1833 in Abbeville, South Carolina.

     In 1864, David would have been a 31 year old farmer with a wife and three sons.  Given his age, if he didn't volunteer, he would have been conscripted unless he could afford to buy a substitute.  Considering that in the 1860 census he was listed as an "overseer," I doubt that he could afford to do so.  David never reported a physical or mental disability on any census record, so I just don't think he avoided joining the war.  Considering this, I occasionally search for evidence of his service.

     Today, I ran a search for David in the newspapers of Chronicling America.  I came up with an interesting, but confusing result from 1865:


     I'm pretty sure that the David J Witt mentioned is my guy.  But what is Squad No. 10 of the Supporting Forces?  Is this a local militia?  I'm going to have to put in some time and research what David was up to.

18 February 2014

DAR Meeting and an Application Update

     I attended my second DAR meeting this last weekend.  It was much like the previous one, and I'm really getting the feel for how things work.

     Last time I attended I was confused about signing in, but this time there were clearly labeled sign in sheets for members, guests and perspective members.  I'm still filling out a "Hello, my name is" name tag, but I now know a few of the other ladies to say hello to.

     This meeting's speaker was Tom Poland, a writer who specializes in the south, and more specifically the area from Lincoln County, Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina.  I have family from Lincoln County, so I'm going to look into his work to see if he might have written anything of interest to me.  He gave out some tips and suggestions for writing, such as how to find topics: get in your car and drive the back roads; the highway is generic and boring.

     Two more members were inducted during the meeting and apparently there are 11 applications that have been sent in for review, including my own.  The registrar thinks I'll have my member number by May, which is longer than she originally thought.  All this bad weather seems to have kept the DAR offices closed more than is normal.  I won't be attending next month's meeting, which happens to fall on my birthday.  Instead, I'll be at a living history weekend at Andersonville NHS.

17 February 2014

Roy Vernon Albea, Sr (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, so week six is about my maternal grandfather (Grandaddy).  And once again, I'm getting behind!

   They say that twins run in the family, and if so my Grandaddy, Roy Albea, Sr, is the reason that I'm a twin.  He and his brother, Ray, were born in 1926 to Charles Vernon Albea and Auline Witt in Greenwood, South Carolina.  He and his brother contracted pneumonia when they were only six months old.  His brother succumbed and the doctor told Auline that Roy would not survive either.  Auline wasn't willing to loose both of her sons, so she told the doctor to leave and took care of Roy herself.  Thanks to his mother and older sisters' care, Roy survived.

     His parents worked in the textile mills throughout the area, and, against his mother's wishes, he quit school at 16 to work full time.  When he was 20 years old, he first met Betty Huyler and that very day declared that he would marry her.  The couple moved around for a few years, with Roy moving from job to job (as his father had always done) before Betty put her food down and demanded that Roy find a job and stick with it.  He found a job as a truck driver in Atlanta and stayed with the company until retirement.  He had a perfect safety record.


10 February 2014

Testing - What's Going On?

     I logged into blogger today and this blog was missing from my dashboard.  Then I noticed something new on the left side of the screen: underneath where it says "Your Blogs," there is now a link that says "Locked Blogs."  What?

     So I clicked and found this blog listed with a note saying that it "is in violation of Blogger's Terms Of Service."  That's all, no details provided.  What terms were violated?  

     I clicked a button that said "Request Unlock Review," but all that did was send a code to my phone which I entered online... Then nothing.  Some details would be appreciated here.

     So I'm posting this as something of a test.  Because, aside from being listed as locked, everything seems the same.  I don't know what's going on.  You'd think Blogger/Google would have contacted me, right?  This is frustrating.

04 February 2014

Sarah Frances Britt (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, so week five is about my paternal grandmother (Granny).

     Sarah Frances "Sottie" Britt was born in Emanuel County, a very rural area of middle-Georgia.  Her family were farmers and everyone was involved in picking cotton.  When Sarah was a teen, her parents separated and shed moved to Elbert County, Georgia, with her father and brother.  She met her husband, Thomas Craft, when he was driving her school bus!  They were married when she was only 14, though she claimed to be 19 on the license.  Sarah had seven children, oven a span of 22 years.  She was still having kids when her kids started having kids!

     I've never really outright asked for details on my Granny's career, so I guess I need to do so.  I know that at some point she was working (part-time?) for a local Package Store near her home and that she used to return to Elbert County to help pick cotton even after the family moved to Metro Atlanta.  I've always just assumed that she spent her younger married years as a housewife/farmer's wife - but I guess I need to ask about it.

     I remember my Granny as a very spunky and opinionated woman.  She was not afraid to speak her mind!  She was also very loving to her grandkids though.  One summer she watched my sister and I quite often.  We would watch 'Dances With Wolves' or 'Mrs Doubtfire,' eat cheese sandwiches made from cheese we had to slice off a block ourselves.  There were always snickers bars in the top kitchen drawer, Cokes in the fridge and mints in the candy dish.

     Also, she hated her middle name with a passion.

03 February 2014

Off Topic: Sketchuary

     I saw that my DNA Cousins/Facebook Friends, Stephanie and Virginia, were participating in Sketchuary.  The goal is to make a sketch or drawing every day in February.  I can hardly finish any of the projects and challenges I'm currently working on, so I figured: why not?  I got started on the 2nd, but the final week is "doubles week," which allows you to make up lost days.

     I decided to make use of a journal that I had purchased but not started yet, and combine sketches and journaling.  I figured this will help me get back journaling and help provide ideas for sketches.  I've also decided to fill in my sketches with watercolor, which I think really allows me to create what I imagine when I first set pencil to paper.

     I don't really see myself as an artist, so much as artistic.
  I like to create, though I don't feel like I am particularly skilled.  I don't have much experience with drawing, though I've done some in the past (half an art class in college) and was pretty happy with the results.  But by definition, sketches aren't intended to be finished masterpieces; I feel like the expectations are lower.  I can't mess this up!

02 February 2014

Thomas Spurgeon Craft (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, so week four is about my paternal grandfather (Pawpaw).  It's a week behind, but I'm working on catching up !

     Thomas Spurgeon Craft was born 26 Dec 1919 in Elbert County, Georgia (though some records indicate neighboring Hart County).  He was the oldest child of Bennie Craft and Ruth Evans, who were farmers.  To help the family recovering from the Great Depression, Thomas joined the CCC and served in Albemarle, North Carolina as a cook.  I've heard that his dad bought a car with the money Thomas sent home for the family.  After coming home from the CCC, he continued to farm and do other jobs in the community.  He married Sarah Britt and, with three children at home, was drafted to fight in World War II.  Luckily he served in Europe after most fighting had ended and was home soon.  He moved the family to Atlanta soon after, where he got a job at Atlantic Steel.  He also ran his own sanitation company, until the county took over all residential services.

     My most personal memory of my grandfather is of him giving me and my sister rides on his John Deere riding mower.  He had attached an extra seat to the side and would give us rides around the yard.

   I was always curious about my grandfather's middle name: Spurgeon.  I'd tried googling before and came up empty, but for some reason when I did it just now, I found something.  There was a British preacher named Charles Spurgeon who was apparently pretty famous.  He died in the 1890s, around the time Thomas' mother was born.  Spurgeon was a Baptist preacher and many generations of the Craft and associated families attended the Rock Branch Baptist Church.  My guess is that my grandfather was named for the famous preacher.

24 January 2014

Learning More at the DAR 101 Workshop

     Only shortly after attending my first DAR meeting last Sunday, I attended a DAR 101 Workshop for new members yesterday.  I learned a lot about the DAR, though maybe not as much about the chapter as I'd like.

     The workshop was at 6:30 and started with a dinner of soup, salad and sandwiches.  I approached the registrar and was able to sign my application and hand over my check for application and membership dues.  I'll note here that joining the DAR is not inexpensive; the check I wrote was for $157.  Going forward, yearly dues are currently set at $72 ($25 Chapter, $10 State, $37 National).

     The main portion of the workshop was conducted by Camille Baxter, a State officer (I don't remember her title).   She gave a really great overview of the history and organization of the DAR.  I learned that they were founded in 1890 by an act of Congress, only a few months after the Sons of the American Revolution decided against female membership; they were responsible for finishing the Washington Monument after the national government failed to finish it; they helped restore the Statue of Liberty in 1976; they founded and still support a number of schools, many of them founded in rural areas in the early 1900s; members have logged over 1 million hours of volunteer service this year (the year starts/ends in May).

     I feel like I learned a lot about the DAR as a whole, but not necessarily about the chapter that I'm joining.   Both Mrs Baxter and the chapter Registrar spoke some about the different committees and their purposes, though not in great detail.  We were provided with a link to a website that detailed the committees.  They stressed that all members (Daughters) have a variety of interests and talents, and that there is something for everyone.  As the Registrar put it, "the DAR is what you make of it." They want all members to be active and involved.  And really, that's my goal in joining the DAR: getting active and involved with something - getting out of the house!   There are a few committees that interest me, and I think I'll ask about them at the next meeting.

     Another thing that they spoke about, which I was wondering about, were the ribbons and pins (insignia) that the members wore.  In order to wear them, you have to be at a DAR event, and you must be wearing the right cloths: business/church dresses and pants suits.  The Registrar was joking about having to stop by Office Depot on the way in and covering her insignia up with her scarf while she was there.  You can start ordering your insignia as soon as you have a member number, and the basic starter ribbon and three pins is about $200. From there, you can purchase insignia for a number of things, including making donations, completing certain amounts and types of service, for holding offices, etc.  The cost of the pins does add up and, as they jokingly said, the DAR stands for Dollars Are Required.  But, it does seem like it takes a lot of service to earn the insignia, so they can be meaningful.  I also got the feeling that you weren't expected to purchase any of the insignia if you didn't want to (although I assume that if you start going to state and national conferences, that would change).

     I'm still learning about the DAR, but I think it's going to be something that'll be good for me... if a bit expensive.

20 January 2014

Attending My First DAR Meeting

     Yesterday, I attended my first ever DAR meeting. If you remember from previous posts, I first met with the local DAR chapter's Registrar in December.  Between then and now they had a meeting (while I was on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg), in which I was voted in as a prospective member.

     The meeting was held in a ballroom at a senior living center.  There were 10 tables with eight chairs each and just about every chair was filled.  The crowd was a mix of women and a few men (who mostly seemed to be husbands) aged mostly from 80s to 40s, with some in their 30s and a few others in their high 20s.  At 29, I was certainly one of the youngest attendees, though not the absolute youngest.

     They had a member sign in sheet (which I wasn't sure if I was supposed to sign or not) and name tags, including blank ones for visitors.  As I was standing, looking around, the woman who had come in behind me started talking to me and we sat at a able together; she was a prospective member as well.

     The meeting started with a prayer, pledges to numerous flags, and some other things that I'm not quite sure what they were.  There was then an induction ceremony, where three applicants became members.  They also mentioned names of all of the prospective members, and there seemed to be somewhere around 25 women who were in the process of joining.

     Each meeting features a speaker, and this meeting was Jim Anderson, who spoke about Scottish Heritage and the Highland Games held each year in Stone Mountain Park.  It was quite informative and made me want to look into my Armstrong family and attend this year's Games.

     After the presentation there was a break for snacks, which was quite an impressive spread of finger sandwiches, fruits, veggies and desserts.  The meeting continued, touching on a number of topics specific to the chapter.  They will be hosting the state conference in March, and are looking for volunteers, nominated delegates to the conference, took up a collection for book donation to the National DAR Library, and other things.

     I was able to speak with the Registrar again, and she had me sign my application.  Boy was she in demand!  With 25 women in the process of joining she has to always be in the middle of something.  Both before and after the meeting, there always seemed to be one or two people waiting to speak with her.

     I picked up a good amount from this meeting about how this DAR chapter works, though I'm sure to learn more details at the New Member Workshop this Thursday.  For one thing, I'm curious about different committees.  I know that they have some for lineage and scrapbooking, but I get the feeling that there are a lot more.  The Registrar has already mentioned that I might want to join the lineage committee, based on the paperwork I supplied for my application.  I'm looking forward to Thursday and learning more about the DAR and this specific chapter.

Mom (52 Ancestors)

     I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors Challenge in Ahnentafel order, so week three is about my mom.

     Mom grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, one of six kids whose parents who grew up in mill villages.  Her dad, Roy Albea, was a truck driver and her mom Betty Huyler, was a homemaker.  Mom and her siblings were the first on either side of the family to finish high school, verses her parents who dropped out to work or get married.  Mom was raised with the expectation of being a homemaker as well, but when her high school engagement fell apart, she ended up getting a job instead.

     Mom started with Bellsouth (now AT&T) in the early 1970s as a telephone operator and worked her way through numerous positions with the company, ending with sales (for yellow page ads).  After 30 years she retired to help care for her parents.  I have memories of a few of the different offices she worked at, including one with a huge lobby and a glass elevator and another with artists desk everywhere, in which my uncle also worked.  Honestly, it seems like half of my maternal family worked for Bellsouth.

     If I had to pick one word that I would use to describe my mom I would say artistic.  As long as I can remember, mom has been involved in art in some way.  She used to paint ceramics, crochet and sew, she has a talent for drawing and was heavily involved with graphic design with one of her jobs at Bellsouth.  Today, she mostly scrapbooks and does other projects with her scrapbooking supplies.

     Mom is one of those people that everyone loves.  She's sweet, open and friendly and can always find something to say to a stranger.  If you don't like my mom, there's something wrong with you.  Personally, she's pretty much my favorite person in the world.

18 January 2014

Surname Saturday: C

     I've stollen this idea from Colleen Pasquale of the blog "Leaves & Branches."

     There are 4,390 people in my family tree, though only 244 of them are my direct ancestors.  On random Saturdays, I will post the surnames of my ancestors, organized alphabetically.
  • Campbell (1)
    • My 6th Great-Grandmother was Lucy Campbell.  I know of her through the Revolutionary War Pension records filed by her husband, John Cash, and later by herself and her children.  She was born about 1760 in Amherst County, Virginia and died in 1848 in Pike County, Georgia. 
  • Campbell (2)
    • My 5th Great-Grandmother was Mary Campbell (no known relation to the above mentioned Lucy).  Mary was born around 1785 in South Carolina and married Michael Garmon.  They lived together in Milton County, Georgia (now north Fulton County)
  • Cappleman
    • My 6th Great-Grandmother was Ann Catherine Cappleman, who was born around 1746 and lived in Newberry County, South Carolina with her husband, Petter Quattlebaum.
  • Cash
    • Stephen Cash was my 7th Great-Grandfather.  He was born around 1729 and lived in Amherst County, Virginia and died there in 1799.  He married Jemima Grinning.
  • Clegg
    • My 6th Great-Grandmother was Elizbeth Clegg, who married Jacob Timmerman.  She lived her life in Edgefield County, where she was born in 1778 and died in 1860.
  • Coogler
    • Regina Coogler was my 5th Great Grandmother.  She was born in 1762 and died in 1833.  She lived in South Carolina, likely Orangeburg District or Lexington County, with her husband, John Meetze.
  • Corley
    • Sarah Corley is my somewhat mysterious 3rd Great-Grandmother.  She was born in Georgia around 1843 and is believed to have died before 1880, which was when her husband, Thomas Albea, remarried.
  • Craft (1)
    • My 5th Great-Grandfather was John Craft, born around 1774 in Granville, North Carolina.  He married Mary "Polly" Moss and they moved to Elbert County, Georgia.
  • Craft (2)
    • My 4th Great-Grandfather was William J Craft, who was born about 1803 in Elbert County, Georgia.  Some researchers have him listed as the son of the above mentioned John Craft, but I have doubts (although I'm sure they are related in some way).  William married Sarah Cash (great-grandaughter of the above mentioned Stephen Cash).
  • Crapps
    • My 5th Great-Grandfather was George Crapps of Lexington County, South Carolina.  He was born around 1770 and died in 1847.  He married Barbara Crim.
  • Crim
    • Speak of the devil.  Barbara Crim, wife of George Crapps (surprise!), was born around 1777 and died in 1849 in Lexington County, South Carolina.
  • Cummings
    • Jenney May Cummings was my 6th Great-Grandmother.  She married Jeremiah Wilcher and they lived together in Glascock County, Georgia (also possibly Jefferson County, GA).

14 January 2014

150 Years Ago Today: The Death of Wiley Powell

     150 years ago today, Wiley Powell died from disease while fighting in the Civil War.  He had already done a stint in the Georgia militia 26 years prior and was 42 years old when he enlisted again. This time he was serving as a replacement for another man.  He almost certainly received payment for his service, and I have to assume that the family needed that money.

     Almost as soon as Wiley joined the regiment, he went into the hospital.  He suffered from rheumatism and tuberculosis and was in and out of hospitals throughout his service.  He was admitted to Lynchburg Hospital No 3, where he stayed for a number of months before he died on 24 Jan 1864.

     Wiley was buried at the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia.  There is a cenotaph for him in Elbert County, Georgia at the Rock Branch Cemetery where many of his family are buried.

13 January 2014

Daddy (52 Ancestors)

     Ok, so I missed week one of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  But! I figured that I'd do this based on Ahnentafel numbers.  Thus, my week one is the "About Valerie" tab.  Whew... I'm covered.

     So, the #2 person on my Ahnentafel report is my dad.  I have to confess, we got a bit grumpy with each other today.  He was trying to fix my toilet and the part I'd purchased was defective.  His grumpiness lead to my grumpiness... it happens.  But the happy times certainly outweigh the grumpy times.

     My dad was raised in an area outside of Atlanta that was rural, turning suburban.  His family (seven kids!) had a well for water, but by the time he was born they had indoor plumbing.  His parents, who had been born into rural farming families, believed in hard work.  Dad started working for his father's sanitation company when he was 13 and has held numerous jobs in construction and manufacturing since then.  Many times, we've been driving and he'll say, "I helped widen this road."  Sometimes he has some pretty interesting stories about the companies he worked for and the stuff they got away with back when.

     Some of my favorite memories when I was a kid come from spending time with my dad.  He took us to the drag races a few times and I remember the noise and wearing ear plugs.  My sister and I got pink t-shirts that we're wearing in a few random photos.

     He took us fishing one time.  I don't remember where, and I can only guess that we were about 10 years old (8? 12?).  I remember stopping to buy worms and standing on the bank of the lake and casting off.  I managed to catch two tiny fish and we ate snickers bars.

     Dad is also the family chef.  He will take a recipe from the newspaper or a evan a pre-packed meal and will make it his own.  It took me a while to understand why the Hamburger Helper on tv looked so different (and very boring!) than the Hamburger Helper we ate.  He's also willing to take out an ingredient he prefers for my more picky palate.

     I love my dad and I'm glad that he is my dad.  We might have our moments, but as I said, the happy outweighs the grumpy.

12 January 2014

The Cabbagetown Photo - Then and Now

     Today I visited the location where an old family photo was taken.  The photo (see below) is of a young man standing by a car in front of a house.  My Grandmama said that this was her Uncle Milton Waters in Cabbagetown (a mill town in Atlanta, Georgia).

     In trying to find the location of the photo, I found myself with almost too many options.  Uncle Milton and his parents lived all over the neighborhood and never appear in the same home from one year to the next in city directories.  Luckily though, the addresses were confined to three streets, all in Cabbagetown.

     When I decided to go in search of the home, I did some advance research.  First, I made an assumption that if it really was Uncle Milton in the photo, he was around 15 years old.  That would place the photo around 1930.  I made a list of all of the addresses the family was listed at between 1926 and 1935 - then I looked them up on Google Maps.

     A lot of the old addresses are no more, or have been heavily redeveloped.  For example, I can pretty much disregard the address where the modern condos and high rises now sit.  Other homes are still there, but have obviously had some remodeling done.  Still, I held out hope that the house in the picture still existed.

     Next, I looked at the homes in detail on Google Maps.  There were a few key features in the photo that I used to try and identify it: the shape of the roof, the fact that it was a duplex (hard to see, but the door on the left is open), that it was built off the ground, and that it wasn't much longer than the length of the car.  I also noted that it was very close to the house on the right.

     One of the addresses, 196 Savannah Street, seemed like a possibility: it was obviously a former duplex (two chimneys and space for a second door), it was built off the ground and had the same type of roof design.  The problem was two fold: the house next door and the address.  The other house wasn't close enough, nor of the correct design.  Considering the ages of the homes, however, it was certainly possible that the other house had been renovated.  The street number was also off; this house was 193 Savannah Street.  But considering that it had been changed from a multi to a single home, it was possible that street numbers had changed.

     This could be the house - but I need proof!

    I decided to review the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Cabbagetown in 1912.  I had previously downloaded these to get an understanding of some of the homes in question and had created an overlay in Google Earth.

     I looked at the two houses in question.  The top house was clearly a duplex with basically the same design as today.  The bottom house though, the one that should have been closer, had obviously undergone serious renovation.  It had previously been a triplex, with the left/top most home pushed back.  Today, that space is a driveway, and that's what clinched it for me.  In the original photo, you can see that the porch is pushed back and that there is more siding along the right side.  Compare the original photo and the Sanborn map and you can see it.

     So today my sister and I went to visit the house and take some photos.  It really neat to walk through the neighborhood where my ancestors lived and visually connect the past and present.

Edit: I didn't mention this, but I left the photo behind on the house's doorstep, with a note saying that it was a photo of my Great-Great Uncle in front of their house.  The home owner actually blogged about finding the photo, and then found this blog post.  Read about it here: Oakdale Onward.

06 January 2014

Land Plat for the Heirs of Daniel Crapps

     This is a plat showing the land of Daniel Crapps of Lexington County, South Carolina and how it was deeded to his heirs at the time of his death in 1867.  My 3rd Great Grandmother, Julia Crapps Leaphart, had already passed away when her father died, so her land is marked (section A) for her heirs.

     I'd love to find out exactly where this land was, and there are some clues.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to identify the rivers, even using old maps.  I think if I really want to find the location, I should find deeds and estate records for all of the neighbors shown on the map.  Those might hold more geographical clues.


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