Friday, January 22, 2016

52 Ancestors – Julia Virginia Burnette (72-2016)

Julia Virginia Burnette
Julia Virginia Burnette, daughter of Thomas Terrell Burnette and Elizabeth Jones, was born February 17, 1915 in Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. (A side note on her birth year: the U.S. Social Security Death Index lists her birth year as 1915. The U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index lists her birth year as 1916. I’ve always used 1915 so for now, will stick with that year.) She was the youngest child of 13—Luther Terrell Burnette, Eva Drucilla Burnette, Floria Mae Burnette, Jesse Burnette, twin to Jesse, Willie Loyd Burnette, Prince Albert Burnette, Claudia Burnette (twin), Maudie Burnette (twin), Henry T. Burnette, Eleanor Estelle Burnette, Samuel A. Burnette, and Julia Virginia Burnette. Julia was my great-aunt.

I have no way to confirm it, but I believe Julia’s middle name was to honor her paternal grandmother, Millicent “Virginia” Overton Burnette. Unfortunately, Julia never got to know her grandmother as she died on January 10, 1916 and was buried at Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Loganville, Walton County, Georgia.

On February 13, 1920, Julia and her family lived in the Walker District of Greene County, Georgia. Her father was a farmer on a general farm. There were ten children living in the home when the census enumerator came around. Julia’s grandfather, Samuel Pride Burnette, 78 years old and widowed, was living in the home as well. Her brother Luther and his wife Etta Belle lived next door. Julia’s grandfather Samuel died in Monroe, Walton County, Georgia on September 2, 1926. He was buried with her grandmother Virginia at Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Loganville.

On April 14, 1930, the family still lived in the Walkers District of Greene County. Only three of the children were left in the home now—Henry, Sam, and Julia. Everyone in the house was able to read and write. Her brother Luther and his wife still lived next door and now had two daughters—Hazel and Francis. Julia’s father was still a farmer and her brother Henry was a farm helper.

Sometime before 1938, Julia met Ernest Moody. I’m told they never married but together had a son they named Eugene “Sonny” Gilliard Moody on July 18, 1938 in Greensboro. I have no other information on Ernest so have not had any luck in researching him.

Eugene “Sonny” Moody
Two years later, Julia’s father died on February 6, 1940 in Greensboro. He was buried at Walker United Methodist Church Cemetery there in Greensboro. On April 26, 1940, 25 year old Julia lived on Veazey Road in the Walkers District of Greene County with her widowed mother and brother Henry. Julia was a laborer on a farm. The highest grade she had completed was fifth. The census enumerator recorded Julia as single. There was no record of her son Sonny in the home. I’ve searched for Sonny, but so far haven’t been able to find him anywhere else.

Julia married Jerry Meyer Gregory, son of John W. Gregory and Cleo McLain, in the early 1940s, location unknown. I don’t know the exact date of marriage but have narrowed it down to between 1941 and 1942. According to the Atlanta, Georgia City Directory, Jerry and his first wife Mary lived in Atlanta in 1940. I don’t find a record for 1941, but in 1942, Julia and Jerry lived at 714 Central Avenue SW in Atlanta. Born on March 30, 1884, Jerry was 31 years older than Julia. He had two children by his first wife—a daughter named Anna Mae Gregory and a son named John (Buck) Gregory. Buck was a pilot. Jerry adopted Julia’s son Sonny in Atlanta and he took the last name Gregory at that time. In 1944, they still lived at 714 Central Avenue. Julia worked as a packer for the Bullock Manufacturing Company and Jerry, a plumber, ran his business—Gregory’s Plumbing—in Atlanta. I can actually thank Julia and Jerry for my existence. After returning from the Navy in the late 1940s, my father moved from Greene County, Georgia to Atlanta and lived with his Aunt Julia and Uncle Jerry. Jerry took him under his belt and taught Daddy, as well as two of my uncles, the craft of plumbing. While living with Aunt Julia, Daddy met my mother who lived across the street. They married about seven months after meeting and the rest is history. Daddy remembers that Jerry was a good man—good to everybody. Jerry always had a cigar in his mouth and a billfold thick with money. Jerry treated Daddy as if he were his own child.

The Gregory’s started the 1950s status quo still living at the Central Avenue house in Atlanta. Julia now worked for H. W. Lay and Company, a potato chip factory. This confirmed what Daddy remembered—that she worked on the assembly line at the Lays potato chip factory in Atlanta for many years. At some point in her career, she also worked at the Gordon potato chip factory. Jerry still worked at his plumbing company. Jerry’s first wife Mary lived across the street at 710 Central Avenue and apparently was the bookkeeper for the plumbing company. The status quo wasn’t meant to be though and sometime before 1956, Julia and Jerry divorced. Jerry died on May 11, 1956 in Fulton County, Georgia and according to Daddy, they were already divorced by then. Later that year, Julia’s mother died on December 2, 1956 in Greensboro. She was buried beside her husband at Walker United Methodist Church Cemetery in Greensboro.

Sometime before November 1963, Julia married William Newton Stroud, son of Charles Stroud and Mary Viola Gilmore. This date is based on the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index that listed Julia as “Julia Virginia Stroud” in November 1963. Julia and William lived in Covington, Newton County, Georgia.

Tragedy stuck the family when Julia’s only child, Sonny, was killed instantly by a drunk driving teenager who ran a stop sign in DeKalb County, Georgia on September 30, 1976. Sonny, who lived in Decatur, DeKalb County and was only 38 years old, was buried at Crestlawn Memorial Park on October 4. He left two young sons behind.

Sonny’s obituary noted that Julia lived in Covington in 1976 so I assume she was still married to William at that time but at some point they divorced. I don’t know her movements after her divorce but records show that she lived at 2846 Jones Street in East Point, Fulton County, Georgia from 1993 to 1999. Julia’s life came to a sad ending in 1999 when she was found dead in her Jones Street home on August 16, 1999. The exact date of death is unknown, however, it was determined that she had been dead about three weeks. The cause of death was cardiac dysrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. She apparently had a pacemaker. Julia, who was 84 years old, was cremated on August 19 at the Cremation Society of Georgia in Atlanta. No service was held.

According to Daddy, Julia worked all of her life and was still working at the time of her death.

I have quite a few unknowns in Julia’s life story so there is still more work to be done. But, because I do new research on each new 52 Ancestor blogpost, I know more about Julia than I did before I started writing this.

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