Friday, January 13, 2017

Mary Opal Stone

My granddaddy, Samuel Jackson Holland, was married three times during his lifetime. I knew two of his wives—numbers two and three. My granny and direct ancestor, Daisy Lee Shields, was his second wife. My grandmother, Patsy Reba Seibers, was his third wife.

Daisy Lee Shields

Patsy Reba Seibers

His first wife, Mary “Opal” Stone, died in 1931 so obviously, I never knew her. If fact, if she had lived, I would never have been born! We knew very little about Opal and I’ve been curious about her for a while so decided to let help me discover what I could about her. Here’s what I found.

Mary Opal Stone, daughter of Luther William Jefferson Stone and Ella Shellhorse, was born about 1905. Census records for 1910 and 1930 show she was born in Georgia. The census record for 1920 however shows she was born in Texas. I don’t find any evidence of that so am not sure what to think about it. It appears that her parents spent most of their lives in Gordon County, Georgia so I’m assuming that’s where she was born. Of course, we all know it’s dangerous to assume these things so I should still look for proof of her birthplace.

Marriage license for Luther Stone and Ella Shellhorse

Opal’s paternal grandparents were Winfield Scott Stone, born 1854, and Sarah F. Bunch, born 1857.

Winfield Scott Stone
Photo from Kimberly Cochran,

Her paternal great-grandfather was William Jefferson Bunch—a confederate soldier born January 1, 1835 in North Carolina. Jefferson died on January 27, 1863 in Roane County, Tennessee while serving in Company F of the First Regiment, Georgia Cavalry. Her paternal great-grandmother was Amanda, born about 1839 in Georgia.

Photo by Evening Blues, Find A Grave Memorial# 11291343.

When Opal was born, she already had two older brothers—Buren F. Stone, born on November 5, 1899 in Calhoun, Gordon County, Georgia and Leonard Stone, born about 1902 in Georgia, most likely Gordon County.

On April 29, 1910, Opal and her family lived on Shag Road in Fairmount, Gordon County, Georgia. Opal was listed as a 6-year-old son, born in Georgia. Her parents had been married for 13 years. It was the first marriage for both. Opal’s father was a farmer. By 1910, two more brothers had been added to the family—Vester, born about 1907 and Doyal, born December 13, 1909. Both Vester and Doyal were born in Georgia.

1910 Fairmount, Gordon County, Georgia census record

Another brother, Henry C. Stone, joined the family on March 6, 1913. Henry was born in Georgia as well. Sometime after Henry’s birth and before 1916, Opal’s mother must have died, although I can’t find a death record to confirm that. I did find another researcher that recorded Ella’s death date as November 2, 1915, however, she didn’t show proof of that fact. The researcher also listed Ella’s full name as Mary Ella Shellhorse. All something to work from, but needs to be proven.

Four months after Ella’s death, Opal’s father married his second wife, Zola O. Durham, on March 26, 1916 in Gordon County.

Marriage license for Luther Stone and Zola Durham

On January 3, 1920, Opal and her family lived at Callahan and Spring Place Road in the Eighth Militia District of Gordon County, Georgia. The census enumerator got Opal’s sex right this time, however, she was recorded as born in Texas. Opal was a farm laborer on a home farm. Her stepmother was enumerated as Ola Stone. Luther and Zola produced three more siblings for Opal—a brother named William Harold Stone, born on January 30, 1917 in Calhoun, Gordon County, Georgia; a sister named Oma Lee Stone, an April Fool’s baby born in 1919 in Gordon County; and a sister named Edna Mae Stone, a Valentine’s Day baby born in 1921 in Calhoun.

1920 Gordon County, Georgia census record

Opal married my granddaddy, Samuel Jackson Holland, son of Elijah Jeffers Holland and Cornelia Jane “Janie” Dove, about 1922 in Georgia. Together they had one child—William Luther Holland, born on October 31, 1923 in Georgia. They called him W.L. It appears that W.L. was named for Opal’s father Luther William Jefferson Stone.

Samuel Jackson Holland

William Luther Holland

On April 23, 1930, Sam, Opal, W.L., and his mother Janie lived off of Cedar Valley Road in Whitfield County, Georgia. Their next-door neighbors were Milas and Effie Shields, uncle and aunt of my granny, Daisy Lee Shields. Sam’s mother Janie died at the age of 58 in Varnell, Whitfield County, on September 19, 1930. Janie was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Dalton, Whitfield County. Seven short months later, Opal died at the age of 26 on April 26, 1931 in Whitfield County. Sam and Opal had been married for nine years at the time of her death. W.L. was just seven years old when his mother died.

1930 Whitfield County, Georgia census record

Two months after Opal’s death, Sam (my Granddaddy) married Daisy Lee Shields (my Granny), daughter of James Stewart Shields and Hattie Jane Rhinehart. Granny helped Granddaddy pay Opal and Janie’s funeral expenses by making and selling quilts.

And that’s all I know about Opal. The circumstances of her death and the location of her final resting place are a mystery to me. She died young, just 26 years of age. What happened to her? Was it an illness, an accident, or perhaps childbirth? I wish I knew. As far as her burial, one would assume that she was buried at Deep Springs Baptist Church Cemetery with the rest of Sam’s family. Or possibly at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Calhoun where her father was buried. I’m hoping the Georgia Archives will release the 1931 death certificates soon and maybe we’ll find out.

Granddaddy never shared anything about Opal. He didn’t talk much about his family. By the time he was 26 years old, he had lost his father, brother, sister, mother, and wife, leaving him the sole surviving member of his family. He kept his pain to himself.

I still can’t tell you Opal’s entire life story but I know a lot more about her than I did last week. I hope to find her someday. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and find a photo of her as well. One can only hope.

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