Friday, July 29, 2016

52 Ancestors – William H. Murphy (99-2016)

William H. Murphy
William H. Murphy, son of Martin William Murphy and Sarah Elizabeth Anderson, was born March 3, 1890 in Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia. He was the 5th child of 11—Cora Belle Murphy, Edward Francis Murphy, Charles Homer Murphy, Essie Lee Murphy, William H. Murphy, Ella Mae Murphy, Arliff Barow Murphy, Tabitha M. Murphy, Cecil Pearl Murphy, Addie Opal Murphy, and Olive Ruby Murphy. He went by Willie and was my husband’s great-uncle.

When Willie was eight years old, he experienced death for possibly the first time when his sister Tabitha died in 1898 at the young age of two years. The circumstances of her death are unknown to me as I haven’t found a death record for her yet. She was buried at Anderson Bethel Cemetery in Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia.

On June 23, 1900, William and his family lived in Littleton, Wetzel County, West Virginia. At age 10, Willie was unable to read and write. Does that mean he hadn’t attended school? It’s hard to say. His father was a teamster.

On April 27, 1910, 18 year old Willie still lived at home in the Clay District of Wetzel County. He and his brothers Edward and Charles were all teamsters in an oil field, although Willie had been out of work for 20 weeks according to the census record. His father was now farming.

Willie lost another sister when Essie died in Warwood, Ohio County, West Virginia on May 25, 1915. Essie left three small children behind. Her husband Frank Oscar Grimm married their sister Cecil about 1919 or 1920 and they had four children together. I have yet to find a death record for Essie or the location of her burial.
Willie's brother Charles Homer Murphy, unknown man,
Willie Murphy, and another unknown man
Willie registered for the World War I draft in Wetzel County on June 5, 1917. He recorded his birth year as 1891 vs. 1890. Willie was a self-employed farmer living near Littleton. He stated that his mother was dependent on him for support and claimed exemption from draft for that reason. The registration card shows that Willie was of medium height and weight, he had dark blue eyes, and light brown hair. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 7, 1918 and was honorably discharged on March 19, 1919 as a Private First Class after serving in the medical department camp hospital at Camp A. A. Humphreys in Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia.

On January 14, 1920, at age 28 Willie was still living at home, along with two adult siblings—his 24 year old brother Arliff and 18 year old sister Addie. It appears that the only person working in the home was their father who was supporting the family through farming.

Willie’s mother died in Littleton on April 1, 1927. Five days later, his father died on April 6 in Mannington from a cerebral hemorrhage. Both of his parents were buried at Anderson-Bethel Cemetery in Littleton.
On April 8, 1930, Willie lived alone in the Clay District of Wetzel County. He owned his home which was valued at $700. Willie was an operator in a filling station. The census enumerator recorded his birth year as 1892.

Willie lost two brothers during the 1940s—Arliff who died in Wolf Summit, Harrison County, West Virginia on July 11, 1947 and Charles who died in Littleton on November 16, 1949. Arliff was buried at Anderson-Bethel Cemetery in Littleton with their parents and Charles was buried at Thomas Chapel Cemetery in Wetzel County. I have yet to find Willie in the 1940 census record.

Willie died of a heart attack at the age of 70 in Littleton on March 28, 1960. He was buried at Anderson Bethel Cemetery in Littleton. He never married.

Friday, July 22, 2016

52 Ancestors – Carroll Harvey Lankford Sr. (98-2016)

Carroll Harvey Lankford Sr., WWI
Carroll Harvey Lankford Sr., son of Alice Beman Lankford and a “to be determined” father, was born September 21, 1887 in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. He was given the name Carroll I assume to honor his great-grandmother, Caroline B. (Hobbs) Lankford.

Carroll was my paternal grandfather. He is also my brick wall. As noted above, we don’t really know who his father was and so far I have been unable to unravel this mystery. The family lore is that in early 1887, his mother was allegedly raped by Thomas P. Janes Jr., the son of Thomas P. Janes Sr., a local farmer and Georgia’s first Commissioner of Agriculture. Alice, who would have been about 15 years old at the time, became pregnant as a result of the alleged rape and gave birth to a son whom she gave her maiden name as his last name. Over the years, Daddy has told me many times that two school teachers in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia pulled him and his older sister aside and shared this story with them. The paper trail—census records, military records, social security records, and obituaries—just add to the mystery. I have yet to find a birth record for Carroll. The family Bible only lists his mother, Alice (Lankford) Callaway. But the fact that Carroll was given his mother’s maiden name tells me that something happened or else I would have grown up with a different surname.

I doubt Alice’s parents would have put her and their infant grandson out on the streets so I imagine Carroll spent his first years living in his grandparents’ home but I really have no way of knowing that. When Carroll was 10, his mother married Robert Dawson Callaway, son of Lemuel Lawrence Callaway Jr. and Anna Josephine Mullins, in Greene County on October 27, 1897. It wasn’t long before Carroll had a stepbrother, Homer Crawford Callaway, who was born in Greene County on February 6, 1899.

On June 9, 1900, the census enumerator visited the Callaway household and only found Alice, Robert, and Homer living together in Woodville. The enumerator recorded Alice as having had one child, who was living in the home. So that means Alice did not tell the enumerator about her oldest son Carroll. But where was he? So far, I haven’t been able to find him in 1900 census records. He wasn’t living in Woodville with his grandparents James and Mary Ann (Wilson) Lankford. His great-grandmother Caroline (Hobbs) Lankford was living in Penfield but he’s wasn’t living with her either. In fact, I don’t find him living in Penfield at all—the place where he spent most of his life. Why would a 13 year old boy not be living with his mother?

On May 10, 1910, Carroll was back with his mother, stepfather Robert, and brother Homer on Greensboro Road in Woodville. The census enumerator recorded his name as “Carrel L. Callaway.” He was a farmer on a general farm and was able to read and write so he must have attended school. The census enumerator recorded his age as 19 which would have meant he was born about 1891, not 1887, if that were true. That birth year is seen on records throughout his life. Here the census enumerator recorded Alice as having had two children, both of which were living.

Carroll married Eva Askew on March 28, 1913 in Greene County, Georgia. The marriage was short lived though. When Carroll registered for the World War I draft on June 5, 1917, he stated that he was single and had no dependents. He was 26 years old at the time, a national born citizen born in Greene County, Georgia who currently lived in Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. He was employed as a farmer for W. W. Boswell in the 146th District. Carroll noted that he was of medium build, had blue eyes, dark hair, and was not bald. His birthday was recorded as September 21, 1891 on his draft registration card. He stated that he had no one who was solely dependent on his support. Nothing else is known about Eva or their marriage. I do vaguely recall hearing that she was the sister of Kittie Lorene Askew who married Samuel A. Burnette, brother of Carroll’s second wife and my grandmother, Floria Mae Burnette. If that is correct, Eva’s parents would be Clarence W. Askew and Adaline “Annie” Ruth Mullins. Carroll was inducted into the U.S. Army in Greensboro on September 6, 1917 and sent to Camp Gordon in Chamblee, northeast of Atlanta, for training. He was a blacksmith at the time of enlistment. Army records stated that he had blue eyes, dark hair, a ruddy complexion, and was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches in height. Carroll was promoted to Sargent, Camp Utilities, Construction Division, Q.M.C. on December 18, 1918. On January 3, 1919, the Greensboro Herald Journal noted that “Mr. Carroll Lankford of Camp Wheeler, is at home for the holidays.” Carroll was honorably discharged on demobilization on April 10 or 11, 1919 (two records, two different dates) after never having to serve overseas. He was single at the time of his discharge. He was shown as having excellent character and was paid $81.13 plus a $60 bonus at the time of his discharge. His discharge papers stated that he was born in Greensboro, Georgia and was 27 years old.

World War I service card

Men ordered to report from Greene County

1913 marriage license for Carroll and Eva Askew

I believe I have spent more time looking for Carroll in census records than any other person in my family tree. Using the search engine, I have searched every variation of his name I could think of in the 1920 census records and came up with nothing. I finally spent two days looking page by page of every city and town in Greene and Oglethorpe counties. There was only one possibility that I could find—on January 13, 1920, the census enumerator recorded a 28 year old, single person named Calvin Lankford living in Penfield. I say “person” because the census enumerator marked an “F” under the sex column but I doubt this person was a female. He rented the home, lived alone, and was a blacksmith. It makes sense to me. Carroll spent most of his life in Penfield and both his mother and brother lived in Penfield in 1920. The age is off a little but that’s happened before with him. At age 28, this person would have been born about 1892. For now, I’ll assume that’s him and will continue to look for proof.

Carroll married Floria Mae Burnette, daughter of Thomas Terrell Burnette and Elizabeth Jones, on March 12, 1922 in Penfield. Together they had eight children—Carroll Harvey Lankford Jr., Floria Lucile Lankford, Samuel Terrell Lankford, Alice Lankford, Elizabeth Lankford, Grover William Lankford, Clark Eugene Lankford, and Betty Ann Lankford.

1922 marriage license for Carroll and Floria Burnette

As the family grew during the 1920s and 1930s, they moved between Penfield in Greene County and Stephens and Maxeys in Oglethorpe County. I haven’t found them in 1930 census records yet which has been a disappointment because Daddy would be in the record. I tried searching page by page again but no luck this time. I do remember Daddy telling me that Carroll wouldn’t let Jack Delano, a photographer for the Farmers Home Administration, take their picture. Mr. Delano came to Greene County in the early 1940s to photograph farmers for the book Tenants of the Almighty by Arthur F. Raper. Carroll didn’t want them to be seen as a poor farmer family. Maybe it was the same when the census enumerator came around in 1930.

Bob and Alice (Lankford) Callaway (not included in the Raper book).
One of the photos taken by Jack Delano.

Carroll and his family lived in Maxeys in April 1935 but by April 11, 1940, had moved to Woodville where he was a farmer on his own farm. He had a fourth grade education and had worked 72 hours the week prior to this census being recorded. By the way, it took me four years to find them in the 1940 census record. The census enumerator recorded him as “Caral Lanford.” I searched several variations of the name Lankford but never thought to leave the “k” out, nor did I think to change the spelling of Carroll. I finally did a page by page search of the towns I knew they might have lived in and found them.

Grandpa and Grandma with their eight children—front:  Carroll Harvey Jr. (AKA Sport), Grover, Clark, and Sam; back: Liz (twin), Lucile, Grandma (Floria), Grandpa (Carroll Sr.), Alice (twin), and Betty (ca. September 1959)

Sam, Carroll’s second son, left home in 1944 and joined the U.S. Navy. He returned home in 1946 and stayed for a year before moving to Atlanta in 1947 where he lived with his aunt Julia Burnette Gregory, his mother’s sister. Julia’s husband was a plumber and taught Sam the profession. Sam eventually brought his brothers Grover and Clark to Atlanta and they too became plumbers. Of the boys in the family, this left only his oldest son, Carroll Jr., in Greene County with his parents. Sam owned the house that Carroll and Floria lived in. When he left for Atlanta, he put the house in his mother’s name because he didn’t want to pay the taxes on the house. Carroll sold pulpwood off the land and bought 20 additional acres, giving them a total of 25–30 acres. He purchased another piece of property from the government between Greensboro and Penfield but was unable to pay for the land and had to file bankruptcy on that piece of property. Daddy remembers that the property had a tree on it that they called the “half way tree.” There was also a well on the land. A stagecoach ran between Greensboro and Penfield and they stopped the stagecoach at the well to water the mules.

When Carroll applied for his social security number in 1947, he recorded his father as Jim Lankford and his mother as Mary Wilson. Jim and Mary Lankford were actually his mother’s parents. I have tracked James and Mary Lankford through all but the 1890 census (which was destroyed by fire) and have never found a son named Carroll H. Lankford listed with the family. He recorded his birth year as 1889 vs. 1887 on this record. Carroll lived in Penfield. His death certificate and tombstone have the birth year as 1887.

Carroll's social security number application

The Veterans Administration awarded Carroll a monthly pension of $60 for non-service-connected disability on October 26, 1949. The pension ran from July 7, 1949 to September 20, 1954 and was set to increase to $72 on September 21, 1954.

Carroll’s mother Alice died at Homer’s house in Union Point, Greene County, Georgia on December 5, 1951. She was buried at Penfield Cemetery in Penfield. The Herald Journal ran her obituary on December 14, 1951. Carroll was listed as her brother rather than her son:
MRS. R. D. CALLAWAY DIES AT UNION POINT—Mrs. Alice Lankford Callaway, 79 years of age, died Wednesday, December 5th at the home of her son, Mr. Homer Callaway in Union Point. Mrs. Callaway was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Lankford of Penfield. She was born August 11, 1872 in Penfield. Mrs. Callaway had been married for 54 years. She was a member of the Penfield Baptist Church. Survivors are her husband, Mr. Robert Dawson Callaway, of Union Point; son, Homer C. Callaway, of Union Point; two sisters, Mrs. Jack Callaway, of Greensboro; Mrs. W. A. McCollum, of Smyrna; four brothers, N. L. Lankford, of Union Point; V. T. Lankford, of Penfield; Oliver Lankford, of Atlanta; brother, Carroll Lankford, Penfield; six grandchildren, nine great grandchildren. The funeral services occurred on Thursday, Dec. 6th Rev. L. T. Newland and Rev. R. W. Greene officiating. Services at the Penfield Baptist Church. Interment in Penfield cemetery. The pallbearers were Messrs. T. R. Walker, T.F. Yearwood, D. L. Wolker, H. W. Lankford, H. V. Lankford, Julius Callaway. M. H. Callaway and Co. funeral directors, Union Point.
I wonder what went through Carroll’s mind when he read that. I also wonder who provided the information for the obituary. Did Carroll have any say in what was written?

Carroll’s stepfather Bob Callaway died in Union Point on March 1, 1955. He was buried beside Alice in Penfield Cemetery.
Floria and Carroll Lankford
In September 1969, his wife Floria was diagnosed with cancer. Carroll and Floria moved into a nursing home but they hated it so moved in with their daughter and son-in-law, Lucille and Ralph Epps. The cancer was bad and they needed money to pay medical expenses so Sam hired a local lawyer, Miles Walker Lewis, to change the property from his mother’s name to Ralph’s. As needed, Ralph sold the property in lots to pay Floria’s medical expenses. After everything was sold off and all bills were paid, there was $500 left. Floria succumbed to cancer in Greensboro on March 3, 1970. She was buried at Bairdstown Cemetery in Bairdstown, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. I remember the night she died. I must have heard the phone ring and went upstairs to see what was happening. I remember Daddy standing in the dining room with his hands covering his face, crying. This is the only time I have seen Daddy cry in my lifetime.

Carroll lost his will to live after Floria died. He was despondent at one point and told his son-in-law Ralph ... “I just want to be up on the hill with Mama.” Ralph said ... “well you have kids Pa” and Carroll told him ... “it just wasn’t the same.” Several days before Carroll died, he visited Floria’s grave at Bairdstown Cemetery. While standing there, he was overheard saying “I’ll be with you soon.” He died of a stroke at the age of 82 at Boswell Memorial Hospital in Greensboro on May 13, 1970 after a five day stay. The night he died, his son Sam remembers dreaming about his Pa. He told me he remembers his Pa telling him ... “don’t go that way ... that’s a one way street.” Sam was woken by the phone that night by his brother Clark calling to tell him their Pa was gone. Clark was with him when he died, as he was with his mother when she died. Carroll was buried beside his wife Floria at Bairdstown Cemetery the following day, May 14. The Athens Banner-Herald published his obituary that same day:
Carroll Lankford—Union Point—Funeral services for Mr. Carroll H. Lankford Sr., 82, of Penfield who died Wednesday, were to be held today at 3 p.m. at the Bairds Baptist Church in Union Point with the Rev. Robert C. Black officiating. Burial in the church cemetery. Survivors include four daughters, Mrs. Ralph Epps of Union Point, Mrs. J. L. Griffith of Washington, Mrs. Willard Epps of Kingston and Mrs. Kenneth Elrod of Greensboro; four sons, Carroll H. Lankford Jr. of Union Point, Samuel T. Lankford, Grover H. Lankford and Clark E. Lankford, all of Atlanta; one half-brother, Homer Callaway of Union Point; 26 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Mr. Lankford was a native of Greene County and was a retired farmer and blacksmith. He was a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church and the M. C. Overton Post of the American Legion in Greensboro and was a veteran of World War I. Callaway Funeral Home of Union Point is in charge of arrangements.

I note that the obituary lists his half-brother, Homer Callaway—the same person who was listed as Alice (Lankford) Callaway’s surviving son while Carroll was listed as her brother. Carroll’s death certificate listed his father as Joe Lankford and his mother as Alice (Lankford) Callaway. His oldest daughter Lucille was the informant. We don’t know who Joe Lankford was and I guess we’ll never know. The Social Security Death Index listed his birthdate as September 21, 1892. I thought it would be interesting to see how his birthdate and age bounced all over the place so put the table below together. You can see how confusing the paper trail is.

Date of Record
1910 census
May 10, 1910
WWI draft registration card
June 5, 1917
September 21, 1891
WWI service card
September 6, 1917
1920 census
January 13, 1920
1940 census
April 11, 1940
SSN application
April 9, 1947
September 21, 1889
Family bible
September 21, no year
Death certificate
May 13, 1970
September 21, 1887
May 14, 1970
Social Security Death Index
September 21, 1892

Over the years, Daddy has shared some of his memories of his Pa—my Grandpa: He had a blacksmith shop near Maxeys and Penfield Roads (at the northeast corner). There was a road that cut across in front of the school. The blacksmith shop was a brick building that used to be a cotton exchange. One day Grandpa was working on a buggy and cut his left hand little finger off at the knuckle, leaving only stub. Grandpa buried the finger in a fruit jar behind his house.

Lankford home place, Penfield, Georgia
Grandpa was a farmer—a sharecropper—and moved his family every two years working the land. They lived in old, deserted plantation houses owned by Ralph Brightwell who rented them out to sharecroppers for “half.” Mr. Brightwell kept the cotton, the sharecroppers kept the vegetables. Mr. Brightwell owned a store in Maxeys. Grandpa and his family lived beside the railroad tracks at one point. This track was the second railroad in Georgia. They moved towards Arnold’s Mill (maybe the deVant place). Near this house, Grandpa fell into a slab over a grave. After that he built a hog pen around the cemetery to keep the snakes down. They later moved back to the house by the railroad tracks—into the same house, and then later moved to Bairdstown. Grandpa worked all the time—he never stopped. If it rained, he’d work in the barn (while resting). He kept his children busy as well. I’ve heard they shelled a lot of corn. Daddy told me he was never allowed to play games like baseball because they always had to be working. Daddy also said Grandpa couldn’t hold onto money. If there was money in the house, he spent it.
Celebrating 72nd birthday. This is how I remember both of them.
My Grandpa has been gone a long time now. I was only 13 when he died so I have few memories of him. I do remember we had family reunions every September. They were at Grandpa’s house but eventually moved to my Aunt Lucille’s house. I’m sure there was lots of good food. I remember the old home place. It hadn’t been painted in years. When I asked Daddy why, he said Grandpa wouldn’t allow them to paint the house. The house didn’t have indoor plumbing. There was an outhouse in the field with the mules and a pump well in the backyard. I remember parts of the house caved in, Grandma cooking on a wooden stove, and it seems like the backyard was all dirt.

My cousin Kathy remembers that Grandpa always seemed to be happy ... he laughed a lot. She said when they sat down at the table to eat, he never sat down with them. He was busy filling their tea glasses ... sometimes laughing while he only gave them a drop in their glass. She doesn’t remember him ever having teeth. If he had dentures, he never wore them when she was around. My cousin Tim remembers one time, they got to Grandpa’s house before any of the other grandkids and he and Kathy were sitting on his lap. Grandpa told Tim and Kathy that he liked dogs and cats—he had a dog that had the measles, his cat had the mumps. One time, they were getting ready to leave and Tim told his mom he wanted to stop and get a milkshake. Grandpa told him he would make him one and then he proceeded to put milk in a jar and shake it up. Another time Tim wanted chocolate milk. Grandpa told him he would put milk in a glass of tea and it would taste just like chocolate milk. Tim’s only memory of the reunions is of the adults sitting on Aunt Lucille’s front porch.

Ralph Epps, Sam Lankford, Michael Lankford,
Clark Lankford, and Carroll Lankford Sr. This picture was
taken at Floria's funeral.

Carroll lived in Penfield most of his life. He was a husband, father, grandfather, farmer, blacksmith, member of Woodsmen of the World, and a veteran of World War I. He never thought he was as good as other people. He never got over being illegitimate.

**Thanks to Kathy and Tim for sharing some of their memories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

52 Ancestors – Blaine Arthur Shields (97-2016)

Blaine Arthur Shields
Blaine Arthur Shields, son of Samuel Cas Shields and Martha Ann Ogle, was born on January 23, 1905 in Sevier County, Tennessee. He was the 7th 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.

On May 3, 1910, Blaine and his family lived in Civil District 13 of Sevier County, Tennessee. The census enumerator recorded him as Arthur B. Shields. He was not attending school. Blaine’s oldest brother and my great-grandfather, Stewart, had already married Hattie Jane Rhinehart and moved out of the home.

Sometime between 1910 and 1913, Blaine’s father 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 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 of 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.

On January 3, 1920, the family lived on Lower Varnell Road in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia. Blaine was again recorded as Arthur B. Shields. At age 14, he was not attending school, nor could he read or write.

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, S
allie Addice Shields. Back: Milas Odell Shields,
William Elmer Shields, Walter C. Brown Shields.
Oldest son James Stewart Shields is not in the photo.

On February 10, 1930, Blaine’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.

On April 19, 1930, Blaine and his parents lived at Praters Mill and Deep Springs Roads in the Lower Tenth District of Whitfield County. He was now the only child left at home. His oldest brother, Stewart, his wife Hattie, and their eight children lived next door. Blaine’s father was a farmer on a general farm. Blaine was recorded as a laborer on a general farm so I assume he was helping his father work the farm.

Blaine, Cecil Smith, two unknown men, and Willie (Shields) Smith
On April 3, 1940, Blaine and his parents still lived at Praters Mill and Deep Springs Roads in the Lower Tenth District of Whitfield County. The neighbors were different than in 1930 so it may have been a different house. It’s a same house they lived in 1935 though. His brother Milas lived five houses away. The census enumerator noted that the highest grade Blaine had completed as “0” which confirms what a cousin told me. No one in the house was working. His father, retired at age 70, no longer needed Blaine to help on the farm.

Pearl (Shields) Hester, Blaine’s 33-year-old sister, died of tuberculosis on July 26, 1941 at their parent’s farm in Dalton. 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.

Cas, Martha, and Blaine Shields
Blaine’s brother Walter died in Varnell on April 6, 1955. He was buried at Red Hill Cemetery in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee. Six months after Walter’s death, Blaine’s father died at home in Dalton on September 26, 1955 at the age of 85. He was buried at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton.

Blaine’s mother died in Dalton on July 10, 1961 at the age of 91. She was buried in the family plot at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton. After her death, Blaine moved in with his sister Addice.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the slow decline of the Shields family. Blaine’s brother Stewart died in Tunnel Hill, Catoosa County, Georgia on September 7, 1962. He was buried at Nellie Head Baptist Church Cemetery in Tunnel Hill. His 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. He was buried at Good Hope Baptist Cemetery in Dalton. His brother Elmer died in Dalton on May 23, 1979. He was buried at West Hill Cemetery in Dalton.

His sister Addice died in Dalton on March 2, 1988. She was buried at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Dalton. I don’t know if Blaine was still living with Addice at that time but at some point, he moved to the Wood Dale Health Care Center in Dalton where he died on September 6, 1988 at the age of 83. Blaine was buried beside his parents and sisters Pearl and Maude at Grove Level Community Cemetery in Dalton. The Dalton Daily Citizen News published his obituary on September 7, 1988: “Mr. Blaine Shields, 83, of the Wood Dale Health Care Center, died Tuesday morning, Sept. 6, 1988. He is survived by one sister, Mrs. Janie Bennett of Los Angeles, Calif.; several nieces and nephews. Funeral services were Wednesday at 2 p.m. from the Julian Peeples Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Dan Carter officiating. Burial was in the Grove Level Cemetery. Julian Peeples Funeral Home of Dalton is in charge of arrangements.”

Fifteen years ago my sister and I worked with other family members to document our Shields family history. Elmer Shields’ son Tommy shared his memories of Blaine:
“Oh yes! I remember Blaine. He was my favorite uncle from either side of my family. Some said he was retarded, but he was not. He stuttered very badly and never went to school, but three weeks. His school story—because of his stuttering Grannie and Grandpa did not send him to school until he was older. By then the other children were smaller and made fun of him because he stuttered. He got into fights every day. He had gone about three weeks when his teacher decided to whip him for fighting. She hit him, he hit her, and then she sent him home for good.
Martha and Blaine Shields
It was a blessing for Grannie and Grandpa as Blaine “totted” and “fetched” for them for the rest of their lives. They loved him and showed it in many ways but they used him as a servant. He would grumble but would do whatever they told him to do.
He was a good worker. He never held a job per se but when someone in the neighborhood needed help they would hire Blaine. He labored diligently for less pay. His brothers hired him to help once in a while, but mostly he made a garden with Grannie overseeing. He cut wood for heat in winter and cooking, summer and winter. He almost cut his little finger off cutting wood. It was badly scared and stiff.
He always had a crush on Gussie Cross. After she married Milas, Blaine never spoke of her again.
Blaine was very kind. Always so glad to see anyone who came to see him. He never left home very often, but sure knew how to make you welcome when you came to see him.
Blaine, unknown nurse, Addice, and unknown woman
My father built them a home in Port Orange, Florida. Blaine didn’t like it there. They only stayed two or three years. He was glad to get back in the country next to Milas where he could have his chickens and a garden.
Blaine didn’t like to take baths but after a week or two Grannie would say, Blaine you are getting too ripe, fix yourself a tub. He would grumble but like a child he would heat water on the cook stove, pour it in a washtub, and kneel down and clean up good. Grannie would get him clean clothes. He would come out smiling.
He also used Bruton Snuff. Anytime you would say Grannie, do you need anything from the store, she would say no but Blaine could use some Bruton. She’d look at him and he’d grin and say yes and some ho-ho-ho-hor-hor-hound ca-ca-ca-candy.
The warmth of his heart showed through at every occasion—very sweet and innocent. Never more so than at a death. When Pearl died he couldn’t stop crying. When Grannie died I was not there but I saw him at Addis’ later. He told me Ma’s gone to be with Jesus, and he cried for a long time. I saw him in the rest home after Addis died. He cried and said si-si-si-sis went to heaven. I don’t remember seeing him after that but when they called me at his death, I couldn’t stop crying, as I sure loved ole Blaine. It brings tears to my eyes just writing about him. He was special. A kinder, gentler heart than any of his brothers and sisters. Everyone used to say, “I feel sorry for Blaine.” I didn’t. He laughed more, loved more, and was loved by all the family. A kind and gentle soul. I learned a lot from him. I used to kid him. We would laugh and pick at each other. He would say you-you-you-you-go-go-go-go-get-so-so-so-so-sm-sm-smart-yo-yo-yo-you-get—no-no-no-supper. We should all aspire to be so loving. Cas and Martha passed on to us a gene or trait of not being able to say “I love you.” This has gone down to the 5th generation. Let’s hope it stops there. Blaine never owned anything, but he always had enough. Grannie and Grandpa housed and kept him most of his life, then Addis housed and kept him until he went into the rest home. Papa (Elmer) had a small burial policy on him, then Kenneth Palmer (Addice’s son and Blaine’s nephew) paid the rest of his funeral and other expenses. So they didn’t say “I love you,” but for Blaine they certainly showed it."
Everyone loved Blaine and he loved everyone. Blaine never married or had any children.

Friday, July 8, 2016

52 Ancestors – Samuel William Holland Jr. (96-2016)

Hillcrest Cemetery Veterans Memorial paver bricks.
Samuel's brick is in the second column, third brick down.
Samuel William Holland Jr., son of Samuel Jackson Holland and Patsy Reba Seibers, was born May 1946 at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. At the time of his birth, Samuel had three older siblings:
  • William Luther Holland, son of Samuel Jackson Holland and Opal Stone
  • Juanita Fay Holland, daughter of Samuel Jackson Holland and Daisy Lee Shields
  • Barbara Jane Holland, daughter of Samuel Jackson Holland and Patsy Reba Seibers
Samuel was born with his intestinal tubes grown together and was unable to digest milk. He spent most of his short life in the hospital. His mother stayed with him during the day, his 13 year old sister Fay stayed with him at night. Baby Samuel only survived for two months before he passed away on July 29, 1946 at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta. Upon his death, his parents purchased two plots at Hillcrest Cemetery in East Point, Fulton County, Georgia (section 3, block G, lot 10, spaces 1 and 2). He was buried in space 1 in an unmarked grave. In May 1972, his father passed away and was laid to rest beside him at Hillcrest in space 2.

I'm a little confused by baby Samuel's name. The Georgia, Death Index (1919–1998) and the Hillcrest Cemetery Memorial Association (HCMA) both list baby Samuel as “Samuel William Holland Jr.” which confuses me because his father’s middle name was “Jackson,” not “William.” Is it common practice to call a child Jr. if you only use the first name? If so, that’s news to me.

Several years ago, the HCMA set up a Veterans Memorial Brick Program to raise funds for a veteran’s memorial to be constructed alongside the main entrance drive at Hillcrest. In addition to honoring a veteran, you could recognize a loved one buried in an unmarked grave at Hillcrest. It bothered me that baby Samuel didn’t have a tombstone so I made a donation for a paver brick to be engraved with his name. The veteran’s wall is finished now and the association recently sent me the photo of the paver shown in this blog post.

According to their Facebook page, the HCMA is a nonprofit organization created in 2001 to “maintain and preserve the abandoned Hillcrest Cemetery in East Point, Georgia.” They do not own the property but assist families where they can. “Nearly all maintenance and improvements, other than routine mowing, are provided by volunteers. Donations to HCMA are used for hiring professional lawn care companies for mowing and related tasks.” I’m thankful for the services HCMA provides to the Hillcrest families. I know they’ve been very helpful to me when I asked questions about baby Samuel’s gravesite and to my request for a photo of the paver bricks.

Unfortunately, there are no known photos of baby Samuel.

He was my uncle.

*Photo by Hillcrest Cemetery Memorial Association

Friday, July 1, 2016

52 Ancestors – Lawrence Lafayette Holland (95-2016)

Lawrence Lafayette Holland
Lawrence Lafayette Holland, son of Leroy Thomas Holland and Cindarilla Darliska Amanda Hall, was born on September 26, 1882 in Belton, Anderson County, South Carolina. He was the second child of three—Aaron Hall Holland, Lawrence Lafayette Holland, and Joseph Norris Holland. Lawrence also had 11 step-siblings through his father’s first marriage to Amanda Elizabeth Scott—Eliza Ann Holland, Marion Scott Holland, John Newton Holland, Thomas N. Holland, William Harrison Holland, John Louis Holland, Brown Lee Holland, Maggie Idora Holland, Elijah Jeffers Holland, Andrew Turner Holland, and William Charles Holland.

Lawrence was almost one year old when he first experienced death, although he was too young to realize what had happened to his family. Eliza, his oldest sister, died at the age of 27 on September 10, 1883. She was buried at Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Anderson. In the spring of 1890, he lost two older brothers when he was seven years old. By then, I’m sure he felt the pain of losing his brothers whom he probably looked up to. His brother, William Harrison Holland, just 24 years old, died in March 1890. Shortly after Harrison’s death, another brother, Brown Lee Holland died in April after being stricken down with pneumonia from taking care of Harrison. Brown was just 21 years old when he died. Harrison and Brown were laid to rest together in Neal’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

The early 1890s were hard on the Holland family. In addition to the death of two brothers, Lawrence’s father Leroy was struggling to support his family. In an attempt to make a better life for them, Leroy bought land in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia and around January 1891 moved the family there. They took a train to Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, spent the night there, and then headed for Dalton the next morning. George Brownlee, a friend Leroy bought the land from, met them in Dalton and invited them to stay at his home in Deep Springs for the 15 days it took their household goods to arrive. The first year in Dalton was a good one and his father worked hard. Leroy already had plenty of good farming land in cultivation but wanted to clear more land. He literally ended up working himself to death (or so Lawrence’s brother Aaron thought) and died of pneumonia on May 4, 1892 in Beaverdale, Whitfield County, Georgia. Leroy was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery there in Whitfield County.

If the family thought life was hard before, it was much worse now. On or about December 5, 1893, Brownlee ordered them off his land so they moved to 80 acres purchased by Leroy before he died. (In an earlier blog post I stated 1894 based on the recollections of Aaron Hall Holland, but recently found a news article from 1893 that proved he was a year off in his recollections.) The Hollands had just spent the night there when they were awakened and informed that the barn on the Brownlee place had burned to the ground. Amanda and the boys lost all of their corn, cotton seed, and fodder, leaving them with nothing. It was only with the help of Amanda’s sister, Permelia Ann Harriett (Hattie) Hall Welch, her son Edwin Parker Welch, and good neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Patterson that they survived.

Lawrence’s mother Amanda would not give up. She and the boys were encouraged by everyone, especially her brother Lawrence Peak Hall of Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Peak offered to furnish all of their food, free of charge, as well as a house and half of what they produced, if they moved to Texas. Amanda felt that was a deal she couldn’t refuse and accepted the offer. She sold everything the family had for cash, except the 80 acres of land which she sold for $100 on credit. They left for Texas, arriving on January 8, 1895 with $45 in cash and practically nothing else. They lived with Peak’s family for a couple of weeks and then moved into a four room house. They rented 30 acres of land from Peak and worked hard to produce a good crop of corn and cotton. Unfortunately, they lost money when they were unable to pick all of the cotton they had grown. This snowballed into the next year as they were refused the right to rent the land since they were unable to gather all of the crops. They looked for land elsewhere, ending up on a flag stop at Dairy Station in Alief, Harris County, Texas, 15 miles west of Houston, Harris County, Texas. The Hollands worked hard again and built a small house and fences. But there was no rest for the weary—they also had to prepare the land for crops. Once they completed that task, they headed back to Italy to harvest the corn there. After the crops were harvested, they loaded their mules, cows, shelled corn, baled oats, and furniture and took the train back to Dairy Station, arriving on January 8, 1899. They put Aaron in the box car to watch the stock on the trip. Once back in Alief, they stored the corn and baled oats in one end of the small house, cooked and ate in the other end, and slept upstairs where there was only one entrance and no windows. They managed to gather enough lumber to build a small barn to protect the mules and cows from the cold rains and then planted cotton. The first crop was a good one and they made enough money to meet their payments.

Aaron Hall Holland, Joseph Norris Holland
(in chair), Lawrence Lafayette Holland
(standing), William Charles Holland (in front of Lawrence).
The turn of the century came and the 1900s started off with lots of rain. The ground was so wet after raining for months that they couldn’t farm. Lawrence and his brothers contracted malaria, with Lawrence being the most sick. The census enumerator came on June 15, 1900 and found Lawrence living with his mother and brothers in Justice Precinct 8 in Harris County, Texas. He recorded Amanda, Aaron, and Lawrence as working on the farm. Joseph, age 12, was “at school.”

Of all the bad things that had happened to Lawrence and his family—they hadn’t seen anything yet. At dinner time on the night of September 8, 1900, the wind started blowing hard from the north. The house eased off the foundation and a plank came loose, flapping against the wall. It continued until 11:30 that night when it changed to the East and then dropped to the Southeast at an increased speed. The house began to rise up and drop down. They were frightened, fearing the house would collapse any minute. The house had two doors—one on the East end that faced the wind and one on the South end. They thought the storm was nearing the end and felt lucky the house was still standing. Not knowing what to do, they decided they might as well go outside. Aaron was the strongest so took Joe by the hand. Lawrence took his mother’s hand and they made a run for it. The run didn’t amount to much because as soon as Aaron hit the South door, the wind was so strong it tore him loose from Joe and sucked him in the back. The same thing happened to Joe and Lawrence. As his mother came out, the wind had such force that it blew her past the boys behind the wall into the water, which was a foot deep by that time. It turns out they were in the midst of the historical 1900 Galveston hurricane which killed thousands of people and destroyed many homes. They were lucky—their house stood and they survived.

Things settled down and got back to normal. The rains stopped and the next year was dry. They were able to make enough money over time to meet their payments. Aaron left home for a while to work but was forced to return home to help their mother and Joe gather the crops when Lawrence left home. Lawrence eventually returned home and they bought more farm land, a barn, and firewood. By 1908, they held 205 acres and had most of it paid off.

In 1909, their cousin Edwin Welch died in Denver, Colorado so Lawrence’s brother Aaron quit his job and left for Denver. When he arrived, he found his aunt Hattie Welch (mother of Edwin and sister of their mother Amanda) very sick so Aaron decided to leave his family behind in Texas to stay in Colorado and take care of aunt Hattie. She had saved their lives back in 1893 and now it was his turn to help her.

Aaron must have come back home to gather his belongings because on May 9, 1910, the census enumerator found him living with Lawrence, Joe, and their mother in Justice Precinct 8 of Harris County, Texas. Their mother was the head of the household. All three boys were still single and everyone in the house were farmers. Lawrence was able to read and write.

Lawrence married Thula Williford Maybin, daughter of Matthew Martin Maybin and Martha Jane Gordon, on December 23, 1911 in Harris County, Texas. Together they had nine children—Hattie Leeoma Holland, Eulalia Lynn Holland (twin), Launa Estelle Holland (twin), Margie Myrtle Holland, Leroy Thomas Holland, Arnold Sears Holland, Luetta Amanda Holland, Bessie Mae Holland, and Elnora Lou Bell Holland. Thula had previously been married to Walter Robert Stephenson and had a son named Walter Robert Stephenson Jr.

Lawrence, Thula, and four of their children

Lawrence and Thula were married just under three years when they welcomed their first daughter Hattie in October 1914. They lived at 7118 Brownville Street in Houston. The joy of a new child was shattered two months later, however, when Lawrence’s mother died in Houston at the age of 70 on December 20, 1914. Amanda was buried on Christmas Eve beside her brother Peak at Italy Cemetery in Italy, Ellis County, Texas. Her tombstone includes the names of her husband, L. T. Holland, and three sons—Lawrence, Joe, and Aaron. I’m sure Lawrence was devastated by the death of his mother—they had been through a lot together. But things would get worse before they got better. You know they always say deaths come in threes—well that would prove to be true in this case when Lawrence’s brother Elijah died in Dalton on March 4, 1915. He was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery with Lawrence’s grandfather Leroy Holland. Fourteen days after Elijah’s death, his brother Andrew died in Washington, DC on March 18, 1915. Andrew was buried at Congressional Cemetery in DC. I wonder how this effected Lawrence. After all, it had been 20 years since he left Georgia for Texas. Had he ever made the trip back east? Had his brothers ever visited him in Texas? Did they write to each other? Just wondering.

Happy times were just around the corner though when March 1916 saw the birth of twin daughters Eulalia and Launa. They brought their baby girls home to the Brownville Street house in Houston. Daughter Margie was born in February 1918.

I don’t find evidence that he served, but Lawrence registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918 in Harris County, Texas. He stated that he lived in Alief and was a farmer. Lawrence listed Thula as his nearest relative. He was of medium height, stout build, had blue eyes, and dark hair. As is turned out, World War I ended on November 11, 1918 and I’m sure Lawrence and Thula breathed a sigh of relief.

Lawrence and Thula’s first son was born on November 25, 1919 in Humble, Harris County, Texas, just in time for Thanksgiving. They honored Lawrence’s father by naming this child Leroy Thomas Holland.

The 1920s saw more changes to the family. On January 25, 1920, Lawrence, Thula, her son from a previous marriage Walter Stephenson, their daughters Hattie, Eulalia, Launa, and Margie, and Leroy lived on Houston Road in Justice Precinct 4 of Harris County, Texas. The census enumerator listed Leroy as “Baby no name” and recorded him as one month old although he was actually two months old. Lawrence was a farmer. A month later, Lawrence’s brother Joseph died in Alief on February 26, 1920 at the age of 31 and was buried at Alief Cemetery. That must have been a shock to Lawrence. This left him alone in Texas now that his mother and Joe were gone and Aaron lived in Colorado. But Lawrence was surrounded by his own family which continued to grow—they added Arnold in September 1921, Luetta in 1923, Bessie in 1928, and Elnora in 1929 with the family back at the Brownville Street house in 1929. I wonder if they really ever left that house.

I’ve struggled with the year 1930—spending a good deal of time searching for Lawrence in census records to no avail. I did, however, find three children on April 12, 1930 living at the Austin State School on Camp Mabry Road in Austin, Travis County, Texas. The school is a state run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. All three children—Estell Holland (age 14), Margia Holland (age 12), and Leroy Holland (age 10)—were listed as “inmate” in the census record. The names and ages match three of Lawrence’s children. The father for all three children was born in South Carolina which would be correct. The mother was born in North Carolina vs. Texas as Thula was but I still feel like they belong to Lawrence. I’d love to find Lawrence and Thula in this census record to see which children are living in the home with them that year. I’ll keep looking.

Is this three of the Holland children in the 1930 Austin, Travis County, Texas census

Lawrence died of an acute heart attack in Alief on August 17, 1934 at the age of 51. He was buried at the Alief Cemetery where his brother Joe was buried. Lawrence’s wife Thula was the informant on his death certificate. She didn’t know the name of Lawrence’s father (Leroy) and inaccurately listed Leroy’s birthplace as Georgia.

Lawrence experienced many hardships during his lifetime. I hope the good times outweighed the bad times for him.