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.


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