Friday, August 28, 2015

52 Ancestors – no. 51: John Billy Shields – (week 35)

John Billy Shields
John Billy Shields, son of William Elmer Shields and Lela Ann Vineyard, was born December 21, 1924 in Whitfield County, Georgia. He was the second child of five—Charlie Jenard Shields, John Billy Shields, Wallace Howard Shields, Tommy Shields, and Patsey Shields. He went by J.B.

On April 8, 1930, five year old J.B. lived with his family on Cleveland Road in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia. His father was a farmer on a general farm. It was a three generation household with his grandparents, John E. and Rachel Vineyard, living with them. J.B.’s grandmother Rachel did needle work on bedspreads. I found a surprise connection living next door to the Shields family—John M. Overton and his wife Chunia. John was the son of Abijah Overton and Elizabeth Ann Rhodes, my paternal 3rd great-grandparents.

September 1, 1939 was a day that would change the course of J.B.’s life. J.B. was 14 years old, three months shy of his 15th birthday when World War II began.

On April 14, 1940, J.B.’s family, including his Vineyard grandparents, still lived in Dalton. His father was now a station manager at a service station. The highest grade J.B. had completed was the 7th.
World War II was still raging during the summer of 1943. J.B. had completed one year of high school. When not in school, he was a farm hand on a general farm. Now 18 years old, J.B., like many young men of his generation, made the decision to serve his country and headed to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. On June 1, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. His service to his country was short-lived though when, at the young age of 19, J.B. 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.

A young life cut short, J.B. never married.

Georgia War Veterans Memorial Complex
Floyd Veteran Memorial Building
Atlanta, Georgia

*Stone photo by Leon Foster, Find A Grave Memorial #61433543.

Friday, August 21, 2015

52 Ancestors – no. 50: Henry Clayborn Jones Sr. (week 34)

Henry Clayborn Jones Sr., son of Henry P. Jones and Sarah Lightfoot Vickers, was born November 19, 1830 in Between, Walton County, Georgia. I’m still working on this line but have identified nine children so far—Abraham Benjamin Jones, Martha A. Jones, Henry Clayborn Jones Sr., Mary Elizabeth Jones, Mathias A. Jones, Lydia Ann Jones, James D. Jones, John U. Jones, and Sarah S. Jones. Henry was my 2nd great-grandfather.

On September 18, 1850, Henry’s family lived in Division 88 of Walton County—but no sign of Henry. He would have been 19 years old in 1850, so he could certainly have left home by then. I’ve searched but can’t find him. He didn’t go far though as two years later, Henry married Sarah Elizabeth Tuck, daughter of Claiborne Tuck and Frances Moore, on November 7, 1852 in Walton County, Georgia. Together they had 10 children—Henry Clayborn Jones Jr., Martha Jane Jones, Elizabeth (Elisa) A. Jones, Bartow Jones, Midda A. Jones, Susanah A. Jones, James William Jones, Scion Jones, Elizabeth Jones, and Mary Jones. There was an 11th child according to the 1900 census record but I have yet to find that child listed in any other record.

On June 17, 1860, Henry, Sarah, and his three children—Henry, Martha, and Elizabeth (enumerated as Elisa) lived in the Northern Division of Monroe, Walton County, Georgia. He was a farmer with a personal estate valued at $110. His older brother Abraham lived next door and his parents lived two doors away.

Henry served the Confederate States during the Civil War enlisting on June 13, 1861 as a private in Company C, 9th Regiment, Anderson Brigade Volunteers, also known as the “Hillyer Rifles.” Company C was commanded by Captain George Hillyer and engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness, fought in Virginia May 5–7, 1864. The Battle of the Wilderness was a blood bath with casualties heavy on both sides, including Henry who was shot under his left shoulder blade. The ball, which was never extracted, struck a rib and then lodged near his kidney leaving the left side of his body partially paralyzed. Henry frequently passed blood from his bladder as a result of his injury which affected his back and caused him to be in constant pain. He couldn’t straighten himself or sit down for long periods of time resulting in total disability from any kind of work. Henry survived the war though and was promoted to Full 2nd Sergeant before he mustered out at the surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865. Henry headed home from Virginia only to have his father pass away on June 13, 1865. I wonder if Henry even made it home before he lost his father. Burial took place in Between in what would become the Jones Family Cemetery. Henry’s mother Sarah died on June 8, 1866 in Walton County. She was buried beside her husband in the Jones Family Cemetery.

On July 22, 1870, Henry and his family lived in the Lindley’s District of Monroe, Walton County, Georgia. He was a farmer and worked the land. His son Henry Jr. worked on a farm as well, presumably helping his father. Henry’s home was valued at $200.

On June 8, 1880, Henry and his family lived in District 415 of Walton County, Georgia. At the age of 50, he had a full house now with nine children in the home. Still farming, sons Bartow and James were helping him work the farm.

Henry applied for and received a confederate pension in the amount of $50 from 1890 to 1906. It’s assumed that he received a pension until his death in 1909 but I haven’t found a record to prove that yet.

On June 18, 1900, Henry and Sarah lived in the Vinegar Hill District of Walton County, Georgia. At the age of 70, Henry was still farming the land. He and Sarah had three daughters still at home—Martha (45), Eliza (40), and Mary (23). The census record shows that Sarah was the mother of 11 children, 10 of which were living.

My attempt, with the help of another researcher or two, to identify members of the Jones family

Henry’s daughter Martha never married and lived with her father until his death in Walton County on January 7, 1909. They buried Henry beside his parents in the Jones Family Cemetery in Between. Henry’s wife Sarah died just over a year after Henry on January 21, 1910 in Walton County. She was laid to rest beside Henry in the Jones Family Cemetery.

When Martha died in 1934, her obituary which was published in the Walton Tribune described Henry and his wife Sarah as “former prominent and highly respected Walton county citizens.” It was nice to see my 2nd great-grandparents described as such.

In the early 2000s, my father, husband, and I visited the Jones Family Cemetery where Henry, his wife, parents, and five unidentified individuals are buried. We had trouble finding the cemetery which is located on the side of Highway 78, near Sardis Church Road. In fact, we drove past it several times. Because it only contained a few stones and the area was overgrown, it just blended in. I remember a gas station being nearby. The stones were damaged, either by age or vandals. Then on June 18, 2006, the Walton Tribune published an article reporting on a gravesite restoration project for the cemetery. Steven Smallwood, a pastor at Harvest Baptist Church in Monroe at the time and a descendent of Henry Jones, took it upon himself in the fall of 2005, along with the help of his grandfather Joel Clayborn Jones, to restore the Jones Family Cemetery. He gave credit to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans for their work in maintaining the cemetery prior to the restoration project by periodically clearing out the weeds. The restoration project included adding a small brick wall around the cemetery and filling in the area with gravel. The gravesite was rededicated on August 5, 2006 with descendants of Henry Jones and three members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans (SCV) present for the ceremony. The SCV gave a brief history of Henry’s military service during the Civil War and then gave him a six gun salute. Pastor Smallwood told the crowd of Jones descendants that the Jones family owned hundreds of acres along Highway 78 in Walton County at one time. He also told the crowd that Henry was a Christian man who was the church clerk at Double Springs Baptist Church in Bold Springs, Walton County, Georgia. Afterwards they all met at Harvest Baptist Church for a Jones family reunion and took a group and individual family photos to record the event. I wish I could have attended! I’m sure Henry would have been honored to know that his descendant cared enough to restore his final resting place. I appreciated that he did.

On a side note, Between is such an odd name for a town that I had to look up its origins. According to Wikipedia, “The town is called Between because it is between two of Georgia’s largest cities—Atlanta and Athens are almost exactly equidistant to Between. It is also between Walton County’s two largest cities, Loganville and Monroe.”

And on a second side note, I can’t believe this is blog number 50 of the 52 Ancestors challenge! Two more to go!!!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

52 Ancestors – no. 49: Joseph Dudley Jr. (week 33)

Joseph Dudley Jr., son of Joseph Dudley Sr. and Martha West, was born March 20, 1900 in Pennsylvania. He was the youngest child of eight—John W. Dudley, Harriet Dudley, Mary Dudley, Thomas Dudley, Annie Dudley, James Dudley, Steven William Dudley, and Joseph Dudley Jr. His parents had a ninth child according to 1900 census records but nothing is known about this child.

Joseph was neither mine nor my husband’s ancestor. Instead, he was my husband’s Aunt Jean Dudley Murphy’s uncle. Aunt Jean, who had previously shared historical family information with me, recently called and asked me to do additional research on her family. When I pulled the notebook that held that information out for a refresher, I ran across notes and articles related to Joseph’s story. After doing a little more research on Joseph, I thought I’d share his tragic story with 52 Ancestors.

On June 4, 1900, Joseph’s family lived in the Hastings Borough of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. The census enumerator recorded Joseph’s birth as March 1899 rather than 1900. His age was recorded as 2/12 (or two months). Joseph’s parents were both born in England, with his father immigrating to America in 1882 and his mother in 1883. His father was a coal miner. The census record shows that his mother had nine children, six of which were living. This piece of information has me confused. The only children not listed in the census were John W., Harriet, and what would be the unknown ninth child. I don’t know anything about John but do know Harriet went on to live until 1965. Perhaps it was another error by the enumerator but I really have no way of knowing that at this point.

On April 21, 1910, 10 year old Joseph lived with his family in the Summerhill Township of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. His sister Harriet lived next door with her husband, William H. Booth, and their children. Joseph’s father and brothers Thomas, James, and Steven were all coal miners.

I don't have a picture of Joseph so am
posting a picture of his brother James
instead. At least we get an idea of what
Joseph might have looked like.
Joseph registered for the World War I draft sometime during the years 1917 to 1918. He recorded his permanent address as Beaverdale, Cambria County, Pennsylvania and his occupation as mule driver for the Beaver Run Coal Company. He listed his father, who also lived in Beaverdale, as his nearest relative. Joseph was of medium height and build; he had brown eyes and black hair.

On January 21, 1920, Joseph was the only child living with his parents in the Summerhill Township, South District of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. At age 19, he was still single and able to read and write. Following in his father’s footsteps, Joseph was now a miner in the coal mine.

Sometime between 1920 and 1923, Joseph married Ruth Miller, daughter of William T. Miller and Jessie G. (last name unknown). Together they had three children—Bettie Lou Dudley born April 13, 1924, Leah Jo Dudley born July 7, 1926,  and Florence Ann Dudley born January 30, 1928. Joseph’s daughters were all born in Bridgeport, Harrison County, West Virginia with Dr. W. M. Davis signing all three birth certificates.

Joseph must not have enjoyed being a coal miner, although he continued to work at the mine. In 1924, he was a laborer. By 1926, he was a tipple boss, supervising the miners loading coal into the railroad cars. By 1928, he was a store manager.

October 8, 1928 should have been a normal workday at the Cortright-Cornog Collieries Company mines near Lodgeville and Ocean Mines in Harrison County, West Virginia. Instead, a tragic event that morning changed the lives of the Dudley family forever. Joseph, the first person entering the pumping station that morning, was rocked by an explosion when he turned on the electric switch. Apparently, someone had planted a bomb made out of dynamite that would go off when the switch was turned on. James, who was Joseph’s brother and Aunt Jean’s father, was the mine superintendent at the time and usually the first person to arrive, believed the bomb was placed by a disgruntled worker and meant for him. The explosion could be felt for miles, including by members of Joseph’s own family. His mother was drinking coffee at the time of the explosion and the cup was knocked from her hand. Joseph, whose legs were blown off by the explosion, was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg. The injuries were too severe to overcome and Joseph died the next morning. His death was ruled a homicide by explosion of a bomb and shock by Dr. W. M. Davis, the same physician that signed the birth certificates for his three daughters. Dr. Davis certified that he attended to Joseph from October 8 to October 9, 1928. Joseph was buried at the Bridgeport Masonic Cemetery on October 13.

Death certificate for Joseph Dudley Jr.

West Virginia State Police and county deputies arrested two men for the crime. Aunt Jean recalled that only one person was convicted and served time in the West Virginia Penitentiary.

Joseph’s wife Ruth later remarried and died at the age of 101 in September 2000.

  1. 1900 Hastings, Cambria, Pennsylvania census record.
  2. 1910 Summerhill, Cambria, Pennsylvania census record.
  3. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918;
  4. 1920 Summerhill, Cambria, Pennsylvania census.
  5. West Virginia, Deaths Index, 1853-1973;
  6. Register of Deaths, Harrison County, West Virginia.
  7. Clerk of the County Commission Death Certification Form, State of West Virginia, Harrison County.
  8. “Niece of 1928 Bomb Victim Recalls Details,” The Exponent Telegram, Bob Stealey, Editor, November 14, 2003.
  9. “Daily Digest—A Look Back In Time,” The Exponent Telegram, November 14, 2003.
  10. Personal memories of Jean Dudley Murphy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

52 Ancestors – no. 48: Nellie Holland – (week 32)

Nellie Holland
Nellie Holland, daughter of Elijah Jeffers Holland and Cornelia Jane (Janie) Dove, was born October 4, 1898 in Hart County, Georgia. She was the second child of four—Roy, Nellie, and Samuel Jackson Holland. There was a fourth child, born and died before June 14, 1900 according to census records for that year. The enumerator recorded Janie as the mother of three children, two of which were living. This census record entry is the only proof I have found of Elijah and Janie having had four children. The fourth child, Sam, wasn’t born until 1904. Nellie was my great-aunt.

I’ve blogged about Nellie in the past, before I started the 52 Ancestors challenge. This blog post will fill in the rest of what I know about her.

On June 14, 1900, Nellie lived with her family in Hart County, Georgia. Her father was a farmer. There was an 18 year old boarder named Charley Williams living in the home. The family lived seven houses from her aunt, Sallie Dove Bowers and her family. Nellie’s grandmother Amanda Holland Dove lived with Aunt Sallie.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, the Holland’s moved back to Whitfield County. My aunt remembers hearing the story of them travelling to Dalton in a covered wagon.

On May 4, 1910, Nellie lived with her family in Whitfield County, Georgia. Nellie was enumerated with an occupation of farm laborer.  

During a two-year span, the Dalton Citizen reported on Nellie’s activities and health. On February 1, 1912, “Mrs. Elijah Holland and mother and daughter, Nellie, spent last Friday afternoon with Mrs. Bill Richardson.” On August 15, 1912, “Mrs. Holland and daughter, Miss Nellie, spent Sunday afternoon with Mrs. Maud Manus.” On February 6, 1913, “Mrs. Holland and daughter, Nellie, spent Tuesday afternoon with Mrs. Maude Manis.” And on February 12, 1914, “Miss Nellie Holland is able to be out again.”

Nellie's brother, Sam, was born in this house in 1904
so she would have lived in it as well
Nellie’s father Elijah died on March 4, 1915 in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia. He was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton. His death was reported in the newspaper as “Elijah Holland, a highly respected resident of the Deep Springs section, this county, died last Thursday. Interment was made in Deep Springs cemetery Friday.” 

On May 13, 1915, the Dalton Citizen reported “Miss Nellie Holland, who has been very sick for the past month, is rapidly recovering, to the delight of her many friends.” On October 14, 1915, the Dalton Citizen reported “Miss Nellie Holland, who has been sick so long, is slowly improving.”

Four short years after her father’s death, Nellie’s brother Roy died on January 1, 1919 in Deep Springs, Whitfield County, Georgia. He was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton.

On January 30, 1920, Nellie, her mother Janie, and youngest brother Sam lived in the Ninth District of Whitfield County. Nellie was able to read and write. She was a farm helper on a home farm.

On January 6, 1921, the Dalton Citizen reported “Miss Nellie Holland, who has been indisposed for some time, is convalescing.” This was short-lived though. The death angel, who always seemed to linger nearby in the Holland household, came and took Nellie at home the morning of May 6, 1921 in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia. She was 22 years young—gone too soon. Her death certificate recorded tuberculosis, which she’d had two to three years, as the cause of death. Nellie was buried later that day at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton beside her father Elijah, brother Roy, and grandfather Leroy Thomas Holland. Her brother Sam was the informant on her death certificate.

Dalton Citizen, May 12, 1921
On March 3, 2015, the Digital Library of Georgia released the North Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive covering the years 1850–1922. Having roots in north Georgia, I spent that evening searching for ancestors and quickly found an article written by Nellie’s cousin, Ursula G. Bowers Ledford, after Nellie’s death. Ursula, or Sula as she was apparently called, was the daughter of Sallie M. Dove. Sallie was Janie Dove Holland’s sister making Nellie and Sula cousins. The families lived near each other and it appears they were close. I thought this news article that ran in the Dalton Citizen on May 12, 1921 was sweet and wanted to share it.
In Memoriam. On the morning of May 6th, just as the sun was peeping over the mountain top, the white-robed angel entered the home of Mrs. E. J. Holland and took away the spirit of her daughter, Nellie.
Oh! how sad the parting, but how sweet the meeting will be when we all gather on the other shore.
How often have I met Nellie with her smiles and sweet words. Nellie was sweet and good to all alike. She had been sick seven months. Oh! how we did long for her recovery, but God saw fit in His power to take her into His care. To know her was to love her.

She has gone to meet her brother who went on before two years ago, also her father who went on before five years ago. She said, “I have come to live with you all in the land of rest.”

Little did we think we would have to give sweet Nellie up so soon; but death will overtake us all. The rich, the poor, the good, the bad have that debt to pay sooner or later.

Can we bear our troubles? Yes, for our Master never puts more on us than we can bear. We say, “Weep not, dear mother and brother, for your dear daughter and sister, for she is out of her suffering.” Let us all live a Christian life that we may meet sweet Nellie on that bright shore.

Nellie was a true Christian. She joined the Baptist church at Deep Spring in 1918, and lived a Christian life. She was only 22 years of age—just in the prime of life.

She was laid to rest in the Deep Spring cemetery. Mr. Henry conducted the funeral.

Written by her cousin who loved her, Sula Ledford, Varnell, Rt. 1.
The family had to dig deep and rely on their faith to get through another death in the family. It had to weigh heavy on their hearts. My grandfather hardly spoke about his family. You can’t blame him—too many sad memories to re-live.

Nellie did general housework for a living and played the organ at Deep Springs Baptist Church. She didn’t marry and never had children. I see my Aunt Barbara’s face when I look at a picture of Nellie.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lost relatives from Paulton and Apollo, Pennsylvania

Bertha Edna Smith
One of my favorite family heirlooms is a photo album that once belonged to Bertha Edna Smith, my husband’s grandmother. The album is full of photos dating from the early 1900s to the 1930s and cover Bertha’s teens and early adult years. Some of the photos are family members. Others must have been her friends, neighbors, classmates, and church members.

While my mother-in-law was still alive, she let me use her mother’s album to make copies of some of the photos. I’ve done a lot of research on this family and at some point, I told her I was just going to keep the album. I assured her that she needn’t worry, I’d take good care of it. That seemed to make her happy. We went through the album together and she told me who she knew, which were just a few people.

We lost my mother-in-law in 2006 and all of the family photos were given to my husband, including additional photos that belonged to Bertha. As luck would have it, Bertha had labeled some of these photos. Some were the same people in the album. I bought archive quality photo sleeves and put the new photos in a notebook so they were all together. In 2007, my husband’s uncle and aunt came for a visit. I pulled the photo album and notebook out and asked them to take a look. They only recognized a few people, but I’ll take what I can get.

Sadly, we’ve now lost all but one member of that family and he suffers from Alzheimer's so is no longer able to help identify any of his mother’s photos. So, I’ve made it a mission to identify as many of these people as I can. I’ve spent hours looking at these photos—begging them to speak to me and tell me who they are—but all I get is silence. Last weekend, I took a picture of all of the photos and uploaded them to an online album. With no family member left to help, I’m reaching out to the Internet. Surely somebody out there is looking for some of these people. One can only hope. If you’re reading this and you have family members who lived in Paulton, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania or Apollo, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, please take a look at this link. I’ve labeled the photos of people I know. I’d love to hear from you if you recognize someone. Maybe it’s our lucky day!