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 Hampton 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.

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