Friday, March 24, 2017

William Elmer Shields

William Elmer Shields
William Elmer Shields, son of Samuel “Cas” Shields and Martha Ann Ogle, was born on April 4, 1896 in Sevierville, Sevier County, Tennessee. He was the 3rd child of 10—James Stewart Shields, Milas Odell Shields, William Elmer Shields, Walter C. Brown Shields, Sallie Addice Shields, Albert Conley Shields, Blaine Arthur Shields, Melona Jane Shields, Pearl Lewcrilly Shields, and Maude Maree Shields. He went by Elmer and was my great grand uncle.

On June 8, 1900, Elmer and his family lived in Civil District 13 of Sevier County. His father was a farmer. His mother Martha was enumerated as having had four children, all of which were living in the home.

On May 3, 1910, Elmer and his family still lived in Civil District 13 of Sevier County. He was enumerated as William E. Shields. Elmer’s oldest brother and my great-grandfather, Stewart, had already married Hattie Jane Rhinehart and moved out of the home. Elmer’s father was a farmer on a general farm and at the age of 14, Elmer was helping work on the farm. Elmer attended school and could read but not write.

Sometime between 1910 and 1913, Elmer’s father, Cas, moved the family to north Georgia where it was felt farm land was better and cheaper than the mountain land around Sevierville. Cas went alone and bought a farm in Whitfield County on top of a hill with a long drive between Praters Mill and Deep Springs and then headed back to Sevierville to get the rest of the family. They traveled to Dalton using two two-horse wagons, each pulled by two mules with two cows, four dogs, two coops of chickens, and all their furniture. The children walked and rode in the wagons. The trip, which was approximately 120 miles, took 8 to 10 days. They camped by creeks and in farmer’s fields. It was more like a picnic to them.

Front: Melona Jane Shields in father Samuel Cas Shields' lap, Albert Conley Shields,
Pearl Lewcrilly Shields in mother Martha Ogle Shields' lap, Blaine Arthur Shields, Sallie Addice Shields.
Back: Milas Odell Shields, William Elmer Shields, Walter C. Brown Shields.
Oldest son  James Stewart Shields is not in the photo.

Elmer registered for the World War I draft on June 5, 1918. He was an independent farmer living in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia at the time. His registration card shows that he was of medium height and slender build. He had blue eyes and light colored hair. On October 19, 1918, he married Lela Ann Vineyard, daughter of John Ervin Vineyard and Rachel Catherine Mathis, in Whitfield County. The ceremony was performed John Eslinger at the Varnell Methodist Church there in Varnell. Vivian Eslinger witnessed the ceremony alone—there was no best man or maid of honor at their wedding. Five days later, Elmer was inducted into the Army in Dalton where he served as a private in Battery D, 26th Artillery C.A.C. Elmer’s service to his country was short, however, with World War I ending on November 11. Elmer was discharged on December 10, 1918 having never served overseas.

Elmer's World War I service card

Elmer returned home to Lela and together they had six children—Charlie Jenard Shields, John Billy Shields, Wallace Howard Shields, Tommy Denzil Shields, Patricia Shields, and Dannie Shields.

On January 5, 1920, Elmer (age 23) and Lela (age 15) rented a home on Praters Mill Road in Varnell. Elmer was a farmer. The census enumerator noted that Elmer could read and write. Their first child, Charlie, was born in Dalton on April 21, 1923. John, who went by J.B., joined the family on December 21, 1924. Wallace followed soon afterward on July 1, 1927. Charlie and Wallace were both born in Dalton. J.B. was born in Whitfield County, most likely Dalton as well.

Elmer and Lela (Vineyard) Shields
On February 10, 1930, Elmer’s sister Maude (Shields) Horrell died at the age of 15 in Georgia. Her last name was Horrell so it’s assumed she was married. Its possible Maude died in childbirth. She was buried at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton. I haven’t been able to find any other information on Maude, at least not that I can confirm, so I don’t want to share at this point. On April 8, 1930, Elmer and his family lived on Cleveland Road in Dalton. He was a farmer on a general farm and enumerated as a veteran. Elmer was also enumerated as having first married at age 20 and Lela at age 15. Considering he was 23 and Lela 15 when the census taker came around in 1920, something doesn’t add up here. It was a three-generation household with Elmer’s father- and mother-in-law, John E. and Rachel Vineyard, living with in the home with them. Rachel did needle work on bedspreads. The family living next door to the Shields family was John M. Overton and his wife Chunia. John was the son of Abijah Overton and Elizabeth Ann Rhodes, my paternal 3rd great-grandparents. Abijah Overton lived in Rockdale County, Georgia so it was a surprise to find his family living in Whitfield County. Lela was pregnant with Tommy when the census enumerator visited—he was born on June 15, 1930. They welcomed Patricia to the family in 1937. Both Tommy and Patricia were born in Whitfield County.

1930 Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia census

On April 14, 1940, Elmer and his family, including his in-laws, still lived in Dalton. Elmer had a second-grade education; Lela had a fifth-grade education. Elmer was now a service station manager and Lela was working out of the home as a machine operator. I believe it was in the early 1940s that Elmer ran a motel in Dalton that they called Elmer’s Cabins. His daughter Patricia remembers that there were always what seemed to be a lot of people around, and constant activity. His son Tommy remembers Elmer (Papa) “let a traveling minister live at Elmer’s Cabins on a monthly basis.”

Elmer's Cabins
Elmer Shields manager

Elmer Shields family

Pearl (Shields) Hester, Elmer’s 33-year-old sister, died of tuberculosis at their parent’s farm in Dalton on July 26, 1941. It was said you could hear her breath outside on the porch. Pearl left five young children behind ranging in ages from 2 to 11. She was buried beside her sister Maude at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton. Elmer was the informant on Pearl’s death certificate. He lived at Route 4, Dalton at the time.

J.B. Shields
Elmer’s son J.B. was only 15 when World War II began in 1939. During the summer of 1943, J.B. headed to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia and enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. It didn’t take long before he was in the thick of battle. J.B. paid the ultimate price and died in Anzio, Italy on February 26, 1944 as his landing barge came ashore in combat during the Battle of Anzio, a campaign that lasted from January 22 to June 5, 1944. J.B. was buried at West Hill Cemetery in Dalton. His name is listed on a memorial plaque at the Georgia War Veterans Memorial Complex commemorating Georgians who died in World War II. The complex is located at the Floyd Veteran Memorial Building in Atlanta. Elmer’s daughter Patricia remembers “the sad and fateful day that a man arrived with a ‘telegram.’” At the time, she didn’t realize what was happening but she remembered “seeing the mourning and changed expressions of their faces” that were very frightening to her. She recalled “that day a deep sadness appeared in mama’s eyes that never left them until she died.”

In 1946, Patricia said that Elmer and Lela shared a big surprise with the family … “one evening Papa said I have to take mama to the hospital. That evening she gave birth to our younger brother Dannie to the complete surprise and disbelief of everyone.” Soon after, Elmer sold everything and moved his family to Port Orange, Volusia County, Florida. Patricia thought it might have been too sad for him to live in Dalton after the death of J.B.

Brother Blaine Shields, Elmer Shields, mother Martha (Ogle) Shields, and father Cas Shields
in Daytona Beach, Florida

Tommy didn’t like Daytona Beach so he returned to Georgia and lived with his grandparents, Cas and Martha Shields. He stayed with them for about six months.

Patricia shared that over the next few year “Elmer became a land developer, accomplished carpenter, home builder, orange grove manager, shop owner, fruit stand owner, plus other enterprises.” She also shared that “Mama and Charlie started an upholstery business along with working for other people. During this time, we siblings were learning the principles of free enterprise which benefits us to this day. For example, I loved the movies, so whenever I would ask if we could go to the movies Papa would say ‘you earn the dollar and we’ll go.’ So, I’d jump on my bike and head for the neighbors with my tubes of glue (which Papa had mail ordered by the case). When I sold three tubes, we went.”

The year 1955 was a sad one for the Shields family. On April 6, Elmer’s brother Walter died in Varnell. Walter was buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee. Six months later, Elmer’s father died on September 26, 1955 at home in Dalton. He was 85 years old. Cas was buried at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton. Elmer lost his mother in 1961 when she died in Dalton at the age of 91 on July 10. Martha was buried in the family plot at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton.

Elmer and Lela eventually moved back to Georgia, although I’m not sure what year the move took place. The 1955 and 1956 Daytona Beach city directories recorded Elmer and Lela living at 144 N. Ridgewood Avenue in Daytona Beach. Elmer was a carpenter and Lela was working in the Port Orange Upholstery Shop with Charlie. Sometime between 1956 and 1962, Elmer and Lela moved back to Georgia where they lived on Shields Road, off Dug Gap Road, in Dalton. When my great-grandfather James Stewart Shields (Pappy) died on September 7, 1962 in Tunnel Hill, Catoosa County, Georgia, his obituary noted that Elmer was living in Dalton. They buried Pappy at Nellie Head Baptist Church Cemetery in Tunnel Hill.

1955 Daytona Beach city directory 

Elmer’s brother Conley died in Dalton on September 20, 1975. He was buried at Varnell Cemetery in Varnell. His brother Milas died in Dalton on December 17, 1978. Milas was buried at Good Hope Baptist Cemetery in Dalton.

Elmer died at the age of 83 at the Hamilton Memorial Hospital in Dalton on May 23, 1979. His death certificate lists his birth location as Georgia vs. Tennessee as listed on the delayed birth certificate he received in 1944. Elmer lived at 1404 Shields Road in Dalton at the time of his death. He was self-employed. Kenemer Brothers Funeral Home in Dalton handled the funeral arrangements. Elmer was buried at West Hill Cemetery in Dalton. The Dalton Daily Citizen News published his obituary on May 23, 1979:
Elmer Shields, age 83, of Shields Road, died in Hamilton Memorial Hospital at 1:15 this morning. He is survived by his wife; Mrs. Lela Shields of Dalton, one daughter, Mrs. Pat Davis of Encinitas, Calif., four sons, Charlie and Dan Shields of Daytona Fla., Tom Shields of Encinitas, Calif. and Wallace Shields of Dalton; two sisters, Mrs. Addice Palmer of Dalton, and Mrs. Janie Bennett of Calif., one brother, Blane Shields of Dalton, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be at Chapel of Kenemer Brothers Funeral Home Friday morning at 11 o’clock with the Rev. Thad Osborne officiating. Burial will be in West Hill Cemetery with Kenemer Bros. Funeral Home in charge of funeral arrangements. The family will receive friends at the Funeral Home after 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

At some point in their married life, Elmer and Lela owned a chicken farm in Dalton where he raised chickens for eggs going to a hatchery.

Elmer's chicken house

Lela Shields, Dalton, Georgia
Elmer’s son Tommy recalled his Papa being was very generous. He said “there was always someone else at our house—nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, and in-laws.” His nieces Bessie Lucille Shields and Willie Mae Shields (Stewart’s daughters) lived with them in Dalton so they could be closer to the chenille plants where they worked. Years later, he allowed his grandson and his wife, Terry and Michelle Shields, to live with them at the beginning of their marriage. Michelle shared this story in 2001:
“Terry and I had been dating for about five years and were going to get married in June of 1971. Terry was 19 and I was 16. Terry got cold feet and left town with a friend of his after he dropped me off for work that evening in his father’s 1958 Chevy, which used more oil than gas to get them to Dalton, Georgia. I didn’t know they were leaving and I was crushed. I called Granny Shields (Lela) and she said he was there and made him talk to me. I guess she knew something we didn’t. Well about three months and $200 worth of telephone bills later, he came home and we got married on September 18, 1971 and moved right away to Dalton, Georgia. We stayed with Granny and Papa. I was so home sick for I had never been away from home and my family but Granny made me feel like I belonged in her family. I will never forget how kind she was to me when we got to Dalton. Terry’s job filed bankruptcy and closed. He was out of a job for two months. I was working in a department store. They would never let us pay for staying there, but one day Papa and Terry had some words about him not working and Granny stepped in and told Papa to hush and leave that boy alone. But it was good that Papa said what he did because it helped Terry and me to realize that we needed to make our own way. They were both wonderful people and we loved them so very much. They helped us so many more times after that but that is how we started and now 31 years later we know that they had a large part of who we are today and how we model our love and devotion after the two people that we respected the most, Elmer and Lela Shields.”
Tommy also recalled that his Papa “was not very religious, but a believing man.”

Working at the house

Elmer’s son Dannie shared that his “Mama would always have a pound cake baked for me after I left home and would return for a visit. It was my favorite cake back then. Papa always had words of wisdom to offer, and you know, most of them were true I found out later in life. He would always offer me money when I had to leave after my stay had ended.” I’ll end this blog post on daughter Patricia’s these final thoughts on her parents … “even though they always both worked long hard hours we had a close secure feeling of family. They were not openly affectionate nor did they tell us they loved us but we always felt their love and never doubted its constancy.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Vintage oval picture of Bertha Edna Smith

In early 1989, we were helping my in-laws clean out the attic of their Manassas house in preparation of them putting it on the market. Among the items stored in the attic was this vintage picture of Bertha Edna Smith, my husband’s maternal grandmother. Bertha was born in Paulton, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania on January 24, 1898. I estimate she was 20 years old in this picture which would make it circa 1918. I never knew Bertha—she died in April 1979, a month after I met my husband—so this was my introduction to her. Now after working on the Smith family line for 20 years, I feel like I’ve always known her.

The frame is oval metal with a ribbon design at the top and is 13” x 18”. It has clear convex (bubble) glass covering the picture. When we found the picture in the attic, the bubble glass was broken and half of it was missing. The picture, which is charcoal—if you touch it, charcoal rubs off on your finger—has slight damage. There are several small spots on it where the charcoal is missing. I know the largest spot is where black tape held the broken glass to the frame. When we pulled the tape off, part of the picture stayed on the tape. The frame itself is in good condition. The picture was stored in a cardboard box filled with crumpled newspapers. I remember looking at my mother-in-law that day and told her I was taking it home with me. She said that was okay with her which surprised me. She held her treasures close back then and didn’t give things like that away. I took the picture home and promptly took it upstairs to our bedroom out of the way for safe keeping.

Several years after we took possession of the picture, I took it to a local photographer/framer and asked him to make a copy. That was before it was easy to do yourself. I asked that the copy be the same size as the original but unfortunately, that’s not what he did. The copy was huge. I like to say it was the size you would see hanging in the White House. I told him that was not what I ordered and refused to take the copy home. I don’t remember why I wanted a copy made unless it was to give to another family member. But our family all had small houses and none of us would have been able to display a picture of that size. So now he was stuck with the picture. I guess he didn’t know what else to do so he displayed it in the window of his store. Sometime later, my mother-in-law’s brother and his wife were visiting and she took them to the store to show them the picture in the window. By the time they left the store, Uncle John owned the picture, and he was thrilled.

The fall of 2006, I finally decided to invest in new bubble glass for the frame so we could hang it downstairs for all to see and enjoy. I decided to surprise my husband and give it to him for Christmas that year. The bubble glass had to be special ordered and cost $300 but I figured it was worth it. He was surprised and thrilled with it when he opened the gift on Christmas Day. After we finished opening gifts at our house, we packed up and made the hour drive to my in-laws house to spend Christmas Day with them. It turned out to be one of the worst days of my life. My mother-in-law was in the final stages of emphysema and we knew when we arrived at their house that she was in bad shape. She was in bed so I spent a long time sitting in the bedroom with her. We talked when she could and held hands when she couldn’t do anything else. She wasn’t up to eating Christmas dinner but was finally able to come and sit in the living room while we attempted to celebrate the day. At times, she hallucinated—talking to presidents from the 1800s at one point. We finally showed her the newly framed picture of her mother. Even in her state, she immediately knew who it was. I remember her face lighting up, her smiling, and then I heard a long ‘awwwww’ as she looked at the picture. Christmas Day turned out to be her last full day on Earth—she passed away sometime after midnight. I was so thankful that we took the picture with us that day so she could see it.

The picture hangs in our living room today and is definitely a family treasure.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Keziah Chambers Horne

Keziah Chambers Horne, daughter of Moses Horne and Elizabeth Larimer, was born on July 24, 1873 in Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. She was one of eight children—Amanda Larimer Horne, Jennie Horne, Lydia E. Horne, Josephine B. Horne, Ollie Bertha Horne, George Richard Horne, Sr., Keziah Chambers Horne, and one unknown child. I don’t know the sex or name of the eighth child. It was noted in 1900 census records when Elizabeth Horne was enumerated as having had eight children. I have only found seven children for her. Keziah was my husband’s great grand aunt.

On June 26, 1880, Keziah and her family lived in Apollo. His father was a “dealer in groceries” and her mother a dressmaker. She was enumerated as Kizzie. Keziah was received from probation at Apollo United Methodist Church in Apollo on August 25, 1889. She was baptized there on September 10, 1889.

1880 census record

Keziah married Lewis Hamland Shepler Jr., son of Lewis Hamland Shepler Sr. and Louisa Reeves, on May 23, 1896 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in a ceremony performed by Rev. C. B. King. Lewis was part of the Shepler family that originated in Germany and whose presence in America dated back prior to the Revolutionary war. Lewis was employed as a merchant, involved in the family business—dry goods. Together Keziah and Lewis had seven children—Bryon Reeves Shepler, Elizabeth Horne Shepler, Josephine Marie Shepler, Louise Margaret Shepler, Harry Thomas Shepler, Howard Moses Shepler, and Harold Lewis Shepler. Bryon was born on August 5, 1896 in Leechburg, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, just over two months after Keziah and Lewis were married.

Marriage License for Keziah and Lewis

Keziah’s daughter Elizabeth was born in Leechburg on May 3, 1900. The census enumerator visited their home on June 1 and found Keziah, Lewis, and their two children (Bryon and Mary) renting a home there in Leechburg. A daughter was enumerated as Mary (age one month) so I assume that was Elizabeth. The age is correct. Keziah and Lewis had been married four years. She was enumerated as having had two children, both of which were living. Lewis was a dry goods merchant. Lewis’ brother Van T. Shepler opened a dry goods store in Leechburg in 1897. Perhaps Lewis was working in that store with or for his brother. There was an 18-year-old black woman named Eva M. Taylor living in the home, enumerated as a servant.

1900 census record

Keizah’s daughter Josephine was born February 3, 1904 in Blairsville, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles from Apollo. Van Shepler opened another store in Blairsville in 1902 so perhaps Lewis moved the family there to work in that store. They were still living in Blairsville when their daughter Louise was born on August 7, 1906. Keziah and Lewis lived in Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania in 1908. Lewis was working in the dry goods and notions business. Again, Van Shepler opened a Kittanning store in 1905 so I’m wondering if Lewis moved the family again to work in that store.

1908 city directory

Keziah’s father Moses died of heart disease on April 11, 1910 in Apollo. Moses was buried on April 13 at Apollo Cemetery. I don’t know if Keziah was living in Apollo at the time but by April 20, 1910, she and her family had moved to Apollo where they lived on North 9th Street. Keziah and Lewis had celebrated 14 years of marriage by the time the census enumerator came around. It was the first marriage for both. Keziah was enumerated as the mother of four children, all of which were living. Lewis worked as a manager in a dry goods store. On December 18, 1910, Keziah gave birth to twin boys in Apollo—Harry Thomas Shepler and Harold Lewis Shepler. Tragically, Harry died a month later on January 25, 1911 of catarrhal pneumonia (a leading cause of infant mortality in the early 1900s) after being sick for just three days. Baby Harry was buried at Apollo Cemetery on January 26. On February 18, 1912, Keziah gave birth to a baby boy they named Howard Moses Shepler. Howard was given the middle name Moses I assume to honor Keziah’s father. Keziah’s mother Elizabeth died in Apollo on May 1, 1913 after suffering from senile dementia for three years. Elizabeth was buried beside her husband at Apollo Cemetery on May 3. The Pittsburgh Daily Post carried a death notice on May 3:
Mrs. Elizabeth Horne, 83 years old, widow of Moses Horne, died in her home, in Apollo.
Keziah’s brother George was tragically killed in 1915 in a train accident. He died on December 19, 1915 from a fractured skull and other injuries caused after being struck by a locomotive on the Conemaugh Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad at the West Apollo Crossing. George was buried at Vandergrift Cemetery in Vandergrift, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

By January 13, 1920, Keziah and her family had moved to 133 Lafayette Avenue in Vandergrift, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the home Keziah would live in for the rest of her life. Her son Bryon no longer lived in the home and Lewis was no longer working at a dry goods store. Instead, he was a chamber man at an acid plant. Keziah’s sister Lydia died in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on October 2, 1923. She was buried at Vandergrift Cemetery.

1920 census record

On April 11, 1930, the census enumerator again found the Shepler family living on Lafayette Avenue in Vandergrift. They owned the home which was valued at $7,500. In performing this census, the enumerator checked to see if the family had a radio. She (Mrs. Carrie Bell) didn’t find one at this home. Keziah and Lewis had now celebrated 25 years of marriage. Lewis was still a chamber man but now at a steel plant. The only children living in the home were Harold and Howard. Harold, at age 19, was married and joined by his wife Mildred. Harold worked at a gasoline station as an attendant.

On April 3, 1940, Keziah and Lewis are living alone in the Lafayette Avenue home. The house had gone down in value to $4,500. At age 68, Lewis was retired, or rather, pensioned, as written by the census enumerator. The highest grade that Keziah had completed in school was the 10th. Lewis graduated from high school, completing 12 grades. Keziah’s sister Josephine died in Apollo on March 24, 1941 of mitral stenosis at the age of 76. She was buried at Apollo Cemetery on March 26. Josephine was blind and never married. Her sister Amanda Larimer Horne Smith died on January 11, 1943 in Washington, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Amanda was buried at Apollo Cemetery.

1940 census record

On January 29, 1953, 79-year-old Keziah suffered a fatal heart attack at her Lafayette Avenue home in Vandergrift. She died 12 hours later. Keziah was buried on February 1 at Riverview Cemetery (also known as Apollo Cemetery) in Apollo. Lewis lived for another five years before his death on June 13, 1958 in Oklahoma, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Riverview Cemetery with Keziah.

I don't have a picture of Keziah but do have pictures of two of her sisters and several of her children so you can imagine what she might have looked like.

Sisters Josephine and Amanda

Sisters Amanda and Josephine

Friday, March 3, 2017

Willie Lloyd Burnette

Willie Lloyd Burnette, son of Thomas Terrell Burnette and Elizabeth Jones, was born in Walton County, Georgia on January 30, 1902. He was the 6th child of 13—Luther Terrell Burnette, Eva Drucilla Burnette, Floria Mae Burnette, Jesse Burnette, twin to Jesse, Willie Lloyd Burnette, Prince Albert Burnette, Claudia Burnette (twin), Maudie Burnette (twin), Henry T. Burnette, Eleanor Estelle Burnette, Samuel A. Burnette, and Julia Virginia Burnette. Willie was my grand uncle.

About 1908, Willie and his family attended the Henry Jones family reunion in Walton County. He is number 20, sitting in front of my grandmother, Floria Mae Burnette, who is number 17.

They took advantage of a photographer being available and took an individual family photo that day.

Willie is the little barefoot boy standing beside his father

On April 28, 1910, Willie and his family lived in Greshamville, Greene County, Georgia. His father was a farmer. The enumerator recorded his mother as having had 10 children, 8 of which were living. She had lost a set of twins—one I know was a boy named Jesse. Unfortunately, I don’t know the sex of the other child who had already died by the time the census record was taken. Willie was attending school at the time the enumerator recorded the family.

By February 13, 1920, Willie’s family had moved to the Walkers District of Greene County. His father was farming on a general farm; his mother was enumerated as Lizzie. There were 10 children living in the home. Willie’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Pride Burnette, a 78 year old widower, had left his home in Walton County and moved into the home after the death of Willie’s grandmother Millicent Virginia (Jinnie) Overton Burnette. Willie’s brother Luther and his wife Etta Belle lived next door. Willie was no longer attending school but was able to read and write. At 18 years of age, he was needed on the farm. The census enumerator recorded him as a laborer on a home farm.

Beulah Jones Burnette*
Willie married Beulah Odell Jones, daughter of James Darlyn Jones and Josephine F. Webb about 1924. He and Beulah were second cousins. Together Willie and Beulah had four children—Lillian B. Burnette, William Larry Burnette, Katy Odelle Burnette, and Mary Virginia Burnette. I haven’t found a marriage record for Willie and Beulah yet, so have assumed they married in late summer 1924 based on the birth of their daughter Lillian who was born in Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia on April 27, 1925. Their son William was born about 1928. Daughter Katy was born the following year—on October 6, 1929.

By April 2, 1930, Willie, Beulah, and their three children had moved to the Brook District of Walton County, Georgia. Willie was a farmer on a general farm now. The census record shows that he had not served in the military. Two of his paternal aunts lived three doors away—Frances Burnette Guthrie and her family and her sister Mattie Burnette who lived with the Guthrie’s. Willie and Beulah were still living in Walton County (Between) when their daughter Virginia was born on February 18, 1933. I wonder if Virginia was named after Willie’s grandmother, Virginia Overton. By 1935, Willie and his family had moved to the Walkers District of Greene County, perhaps to be close to his aging parents.

Willie’s father Thomas died at the age of 71 in Greensboro on February 6, 1940. He was buried at Walker United Methodist Church Cemetery there in Greensboro. His death certificate listed the cause of death as chronic myocarditis, an inflammation of heart muscle. On April 28, 1940, Willie and his family lived on Veazy Road in the Walkers District of Greene County. Their home was seven houses away from his mother’s home. Willie was a laborer on a farm. He reported that he had worked the full year in 1939.

On December 31, 1955, Willie’s brother Henry was accidentally killed in a hunting accident by a .22 rifle in Putnam County. The Eatonton Messenger wrote that Henry was Putnam County’s “first hunting fatality of the year on the last day of 1955.” Henry was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Eatonton after a service held at Oak Street Baptist Church. Willie’s mother died in Greensboro on December 2, 1956. She was buried beside his father at Walker United Methodist Church Cemetery in Veazey. His sister Eleanor died in Fulton County, Georgia on April 25, 1963. She was buried at Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in McDonough, Henry County, Georgia. His sister Floria (and my grandmother) died in Greensboro on March 3, 1970. She was buried at Bairdstown Cemetery in Bairdstown, Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

Willie died at the Walton County Hospital in Monroe, Walton County, Georgia on November 1, 1974 following a brief illness. His funeral was held on November 3 at New Hope United Methodist Church in Between with Rev. Charles Bolling officiating. Willie was buried in the church cemetery following the service with his grandsons serving as pallbearers. At the time of his death, Willie had 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Willie’s wife and daughter Katy Odell Burnette, along with her husband Edward E. Earnest Sr. were eventually buried in a family plot with Willie at New Hope.

 New Hope United Methodist Church Cemetery

Willie’s obituary noted that he was a farmer and paint contractor.


*Beulah Jones Burnette photo from Brown Family Tree on -- from photo collection of Ethel Jones Stefanski, maternal aunt of submitter (skayhite originally shared this on 17 Feb 2017).

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lost relatives

Many of us have old family photos that were never labeled and now it's almost impossible to identify the people looking back at us. I have quite a few nameless family photos. I've made it a mission to identify as many as I can.

The people in the four photos below are some of the lost relatives I'm hoping to one day identify. These photos once belonged to my great-uncle Prince Albert Burnette. Uncle Prince was born 1903 in Walton County, Georgia. Not long after his birth, his family moved to Greene County, Georgia where he lived until his 1993 death in Greensboro. Uncle Prince's wife was Mary Lee Queen, born 1904 in Union County, Georgia. Her father was Lewis Benton Queen and her mother Cornelia Vandora Dellinger. I believe both were from Union County, Georgia. Because Daddy doesn't know who these people are, it's possible they were members of the Queen or Dellinger families.

I've posted one other photo from Uncle Prince's collection here.

Here's where you come in. Do you recognize any of these people? If you do, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Antique postcards

Last weekend, I pulled out a large box of papers that came into our possession after the death of my mother-in-law. Busy with everything else in life, I sat the box aside without looking to see what was inside. Finally, after way too many years have passed, I opened the box and looked inside. Wow! It was full of genealogical treasures—obituaries, funeral cards, a few photos, school papers, letters, greeting cards, birth records, death records, etc. Lots of historical documents to keep a family historian happy for a long time.

Two items in the box caught my attention because of their age—postcards mailed to Helen Margaret Smith, my husband’s grand aunt. Now what is a grand aunt you ask? I didn’t know either so had to google it. Per Reference*, “a grand-aunt or grand-uncle is the sibling of your grandparent, while great-aunts and great-uncles are further removed. However, “grand” and “great” are often used interchangeably.” Helen’s sister was Bertha Edna Smith, my husband’s grandmother.

The first card is dated June 10, 1909 and is postmarked from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Helen lived in Paulton, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at the time. Postage to mail the card was one cent. There is no message written on the postcard–just the word “Auntie.” The image on the front is labeled “Canal Scene, Bethlehem, PA.” Unfortunately, I don’t know which aunt might have sent the card. The card has slight damage around the edges but it otherwise in good condition.

The second card is dated November 9, 1911 and is postmarked from Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, a borough in Allegheny County, nine miles from Pittsburgh. Helen still lived in Paulton when she received this card. The message written on the card is “Am attending a Luther League Convention in St. Stephens Lutheran Church of E. E. Pitts” and is signed “Lovingly, E.C.H.” Again, I don’t know who sent the postcard but do know that Helen’s mother’s maiden name was Horne so it could be a member of that family. It was obviously someone close since it was signed “Lovingly.” The image on the front is labeled “Drive to Stanton Avenue, Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pa.” This card has slightly more damage around the edges but like the 1909 card, is otherwise in good condition.

I was curious about the Luther league so searched and found the following article published by The Pittsburgh Press on November 5, 1911:
The thirty-ninth semi-annual convention of the Pittsburgh district, Luther league will be held Thursday in St. Stephen’s Lutheran church, Hamilton and Brushton aves. In the morning Miss Gertrude Dunmire of Monongahela City, will speak on “How to Make Our Committees More Efficient.” In the afternoon addresses will be made by Rev. J. G. Reinartz, of East Liverpool, O., and E. F. Daume, of this city. K. J. F. Wilharm will render a report of the State Luthern league convention, recently held in Easton. In the evening, Rev. W. F. Kennerly, of Alliance, O., will speak on “The Cost of the Kingdom.” There are over 2,000 members of the Pittsburgh district League. C. W. H. Hess is president; Rev. H. B. Ernest vice president, Miss Margaret Strohecker secretary, and O. W. A. Oetting, treasurer.
The article doesn’t tell me much but it was nice to connect it to the message written on the postcard.

I blogged about Helen on December 10, 2014. She was just a teenager when she died on March 18, 1913 after suffering from endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart per Wikipedia. A beautiful young woman taken too soon.

Helen Margaret Smith

Unknown friend and Helen Margaret Smith (on the right)

Friday, February 10, 2017

EXTRA! The War Is Over—V-J Day

I've got several timelines in the works but nothing ready for tonight so instead I'm posting a photo of a copy of the Warren Tribune Chronicle I found in a box of papers (or should I say treasureslots of genealogical finds) that belonged to my mother-in-law, Mary Athya Murphy. The newspaper is dated August 14, 1945 and was published in Warren, Ohio. She would have been 16 years old when this historical event took place. I wish I knew she had this newspaper while she was still alive. I would have loved to talk to her about it and see what she remembered about V-J Day.