Friday, November 27, 2020

Gerald Kenneth Burnette

Gerald Kenneth Burnette, son of Ralph Milton Burnette and Avis “Vinelle” Dunagan was born in Georgia, probably Walton County, on June 26, 1947. Gerald had an older brother named Jackie Milton Burnette, born in 1942. He is my 2nd cousin 1x removed with our nearest common relatives being Samuel Pride Burnette and Millicent Virginia Overton, my 2nd great grandparents.

Gerald’s family story is a sad, tragic one. In June 1954 when he was six years old, the family left their home in Monroe, Walton County Georgia, on their way to Bonita Springs, Florida. They were all looking forward to a visit with family and a week of fishing. A little over two hundred miles into the trip, their car was involved in a head on collision. Both of Gerald’s parents were critically injured and rushed to Waycross Hospital in Georgia. His mother was placed on the critical list, his father died at 9:30 a.m. on June 21. Neither Gerald or his brother Jackie were injured but were both “badly shaken up.” His father’s remains were brought home for burial in Georgia on June 23. Gerald’s father was only 35 years old. 

Just over a year later, Gerald and his mother were both killed when their car was struck by a train in Auburn, Barrow County, Georgia on October 1, 1955. Gerald was only 8 years old and his mother 31.

And if the death of Gerald and his parents weren’t bad enough, his brother Jackie, the last surviving member of this Burnette family, died in a car accident in Winder, Barrow County, Georgia on July 16, 1960. He was just 18 years old.

The entire family, gone in six years. Gerald, his parents Ralph and Vinelle, and his brother Jackie were all buried at Mount Vernon Christian Church Cemetery in Monroe.


  • 13 Killed in Traffic; Girl Drowns, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, July 18, 1960.
  • 31 Pct. Drop in State Road Deaths Credited to Vigorous Patrol Drive, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, October 3, 1955.
  • Burnette-Burnette (obituary), The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, October 3, 1955.
  • Georgia Man Killed Enroute to Bonita, News-Press, Fort Myers, Florida, June 27, 1954.

Friday, November 20, 2020

An old family favorite recipe — Carrot Cake

Photo shared by Kathy Griffith

With the holidays coming up, I thought it appropriate to share an old family favorite recipe. This one is from the kitchen of my mama, Fay Lankford. It’s actually one of the few recipes I have from my childhood.

Mama’s recipe calls for a glaze versus frosting but I’m sure it would taste just as good with a cream cheese frosting. 

I hope you enjoy it!

Carrot Cake

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

2 ½ cups sugar

4 egg yolks

5 tablespoons hot water

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 ¾ cups grated raw carrots

1 cup chopped pecans

4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10” Bundt cake pan. Cream oil and sugar until well mixed. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, beat well. Beat in hot water. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat into egg mixture. Stir 1 ½ cups carrots, then pecans into batter. Beat egg whites until forms soft peaks, fold into batter. Bake 60 – 70 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, remove from pan.


¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over cake. Top with remaining carrots.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Charles Murphy’s Lock Nut Patent

Deb Ruth, a blogger in the Genealogy Bloggers group I belong to on Facebook, recently posted Family Inventor ~ Google Patents on her blog Deb's Adventures in Genealogy. After reading her post (thank you Deb), I decided it was time to highlight the patent granted to my husband’s grandfather, Charles Homer Murphy, of Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia. 

At a family member’s funeral in 2012, a cousin handed my husband an envelope saying he thought Charlie would be interested in having what was inside. When Charlie opened the envelope, he discovered two heavily damaged copies of a patent granted to his grandfather and namesake, Charles H. Murphy, in 1929. This was the first time Charlie had ever heard about the patent.

In probably late 1927, Charles hired an attorney named Victor J. Evans to prepare a patent application for a lock nut. On January 9, 1928, Mr. Evans filed application number US245565A which described Charles’ invention as:

“This invention relates to lock nuts, and its general object is to provide a bolt including a nut that is normally retained in a position whereby it can be threaded on and off of its bolt by a wrench or the like, or can be secured against movement in either direction.

A further object of the invention is to provide a lock nut that is positive in function, simple in construction, inexpensive to manufacture and efficient in operation and service.

This invention also consists in certain other features of construction and in the combination and arrangement of the several parts, to be hereinafter fully described, illustrated in the accompanying drawings and specifically pointed out in the appended claim.” 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted patent number 1,739,410 to Charles on December 10, 1929 with an anticipated expiration date of December 10, 1946. To our knowledge, the patent was never extended. Since 2004, Charles’ patent has been cited by three other patents.

Charles’ World War I draft registration card filed in 1918 listed his occupation as “helper on tools” for the South Pennsylvania Oil Company. In 1930, he worked as an operative at an oil company. He obviously worked in an industry that would have used lock nuts and wanted to do something to possibly improve them.

By the time his patent was granted, Charles was 43 years old, married, and the father of five children. He never had a lot of money so must have felt strongly about his invention to be willing to pay attorney fees to file the application. 

The photo above was probably taken around the same time Charles filed the application. His wife Dessie (Church) Murphy is to his right. We believe the child is my father-in-law, Earl Murphy.

To see the full patent, click here.

Original copy of the patent given to my husband


  • Murphy, Charles, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.
  • U.S. Federal Census, Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia, 1930.
  • United States Patent 1,739,410, Lock Nut, Charles Murphy, Littleton, West Virginia, December 10, 1929

Friday, November 6, 2020

Penfield, Greene County, Georgia

I have never lived in Penfield, Georgia but have deep roots there. At least one member of every generation from my father to 3rd great grandfather (and perhaps further back) can claim Penfield as home at some point in their life. Each one was either born there, lived there, died there, and/or are buried there.

Growing up, we regularly visited my grandparents who lived in Penfield. They passed in 1970 and then we started going to my aunt and uncle’s house in Bairdstown. To get there, you had to drive through Penfield. Penfield was a thriving community during the mid-1800s but things changed after the Civil War and Mercer University moved to Macon in 1871. I can only speak from my short trips there to visit the cemetery, but today, it’s a quiet community with the cemetery, chapel, and a few buildings, some of them abandoned.

Wanting to learn more about the town’s people and history in the hopes of uncovering information that would help me learn about my paternal great grandfather (who I have connected by DNA, but not the paper trail), I started gathering information about Penfield. I recently decided it was time to put it all in one place so created a new tab on my blog for a One Place Study on Penfield. Here I have posted all of the information I’ve collected so far and will continue to add to it as I find more. Maybe it will help someone else with their research as well. 

Click on the link below or the "Penfield, Georgia" tab at the top of the blog:

Penfield, Georgia

Friday, October 30, 2020

Baseball Memorabilia

Today’s post is about a couple of my husband’s treasures—a baseball signed by Mickey Mantle and a 1967 Topps baseball card featuring Mantle. 

Signed Mickey Mantle ball and 1967 Topps baseball card

Charlie can thank my brother for the baseball. Michael and my niece attended the 5th Annual Southeast Regional Baseball Card and Sports Collectible Show in Atlanta, Georgia on November 30, 1991. Mickey Mantle was there signing baseballs so Michael picked one up for Charlie at the cost of $25. The picture below was taken that day. 

Mickey Mantle (1991)

Charlie started collecting baseball cards when he was 10 using the allowance he earned from doing chores. He remembers a pack cost 10 cents at the time. He, his brother, and their friends spent hours thumbing through the cards. They looked at stats and learned about the players—how long they had played, where they were from, their age. Baseball wasn’t televised much then so that was one of the ways they learned about their favorite players. 

They also played games with the cards. One game Charlie remembers was called Flip. He and his friends would sit on the porch and flip the cards out into the yard. When a card landed on top of another card, that person won all of the cards in the yard at that time. Charlie said you had to make sure you weren’t flipping one of your favorite cards! He forgot a few times and lost a couple of his favorites. Of course, they put cards on their bicycle spokes, which ruined them. I remember my brother and his friends doing the same thing. 

One of Charlie’s favorite cards was of Frank Howard, a local player who played for the Washington Senators. Years later, our son met Howard through his work. Other favorite cards were Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, and Willie McCovey. Charlie said he has about 600 cards from his youth but all aren’t baseball. He also collected football, Batman, Rat Patrol, and even the Monkees cards. He stopped collecting in his early teens, but picked it back up again in his 20s. I remember buying boxes of cards for Christmas presents several years. Today, most of the boxes are still unopened. 

I’m sure Charlie considers both the ball and card family treasures.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Jesse Burnette, a family twin mystery

Jesse Burnette is part of a family mystery for me. Years ago, Daddy told me that my great-grandparents, Thomas “Tom” Terrell Burnette and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones of Walton and Greene counties in Georgia had two sets of twins. One set lived but the other set didn’t survive infancy, dying weeks apart, cause unknown. The twins that survived were Claudia (Daddy called her Claudie) and Maudie. I don’t remember them, but Daddy often spoke of his aunts. Claudia lived to be 82 and Maudie 96. No one knew anything about the other set of twins, other than they supposedly existed. It wasn’t until I started researching my family that I learned of Jesse.

When the 1900 Walton County (Vinegar Hill District), Georgia census was taken on June 26, the enumerator recorded four children living in the home with Tom and Lizzie—Luther Terrell Burnette (age 5), Eva Drucilla Burnette (age 4, enumerated as Ever), Floria Mae Burnette (age 2), and Jesse (age 1). Jesse was enumerated as their son, born January 1899 in Georgia. Since I know his three older siblings were born in Walton County, I would assume he was as well since they lived there in 1900. One thing that puzzles me though is the enumerator recorded Elizabeth as the mother of five children, with five children living. So, why did he only record four children? Where was the fifth child? Was it alive and living with another family member? Or did the enumerator make a mistake? I may never know the answer to these questions but I do know that Tom and Lizzie had eight more children after the 1900 census was taken—Willie Lloyd Burnette, Prince Albert Burnette, Claudia Burnette, Maudie Burnette, Henry T. Burnette, Eleanor Estelle Burnette, Samuel A. Burnette, and Julia Virginia Burnette. Claudia and Maudie were the only children that were twins.

The 1900 census record is the only record I’ve found to document Jesse’s life by name. Was he a twinless twin when the census was taken? If so, that would mean his brother or sister probably died in May or June and he died shortly after the census was taken. But I can’t prove that. 

1900 Walton County, Vinegar Hill, Georgia Soundex Card

1900 Walton County, Vinegar Hill, Georgia census

The 1910 Greshamville, Greene County, Georgia census taken on April 28 does show that Elizabeth was the mother of 10 children with 8 of them living. All of her known children are accounted for in the 1910 record so there clearly was another child. Was it a boy or girl? What did they name it? Was that child Jesse’s twin?

1910 Greene County, Georgia Soundex Cards

Sadly, I have no idea where Jesse or the other child were buried either. I checked several Walton County cemeteries in Find a Grave where other Jones and Burnette family members were buried but don’t find anything. Georgia didn’t start registering births and deaths until 1919 and there are no official birth records before then. So many questions that I can’t answer and will probably never have answers.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Cole Brothers Circus

It’s time to share a few more photos from my husband’s uncle Ralph Murphy’s slide collection. The slides were given to Charlie by his aunt Jean Murphy in 2007 and consist of 15 boxes of slides (thousands) taken by Uncle Ralph, spanning the years 1947 to 1984. Many are scenic shots from their travels across the United States, some are family members, and others friends and co-workers. I converted the majority of the slides to digital several years ago and have been enjoying them ever since.

I imagine most people reading this have been to a circus at least once in their lifetime. I remember going to the Old Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta as a child to see the Yaarab Shrine Circus. The venue was a large building so no tents like the photos in this collection, but still had the same type of acts—clowns, horses, elephants, and tigers.

These photos are the Cole Brothers Circus that came through West Virginia, probably Clarksburg or some city near there. I estimate they were taken in the late 1940s, early 1950s.

In the next photo, you can see signs for some of the sideshows: an armless marvel, Lady Patricia (sword swallower), Major Mite (little man), Joe Lee (clown), and Judy Allen (lion tamer). 

If you’d like to see more photos from Uncle Ralph’s collection, click on the links below.

Hidden West Virginia racetrack photos
A boy and his bicycle
The beauty of nature
Ruth Miller
Share your photos and make a difference
Water sports at Tygart Lake
Nutter Fort, West Virginia Soap Box Derby
Warner’s Skyline Drive-In Theater
Palace Furniture Company and Pepsi-Cola—a colorful combination
Vintage Christmas photos
52 Ancestors – no. 40: Anna B. Church – (week 24) (Anna (Church) and Everett Evans photos only)