Friday, May 26, 2017

Wesley Buford Palmer

Today I remember a family member who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Wesley Buford Palmer, son of Benjamin Dewey Palmer and Sallie Addice Shields, was born in Georgia (most likely Whitfield County) on July 5, 1922. He was the second child of six—Robert Lee Palmer, Wesley Buford Palmer, Viola Marie Palmer, Winnie Lynn Zell Palmer, Marvin Kenneth Palmer, and Weldon Lamar Palmer. Wesley would be my 1st cousin, 2x removed.

By April 17, 1930, Wesley and his family had moved to Tennessee where they lived on Highway 58 in Civil District 2 of Meigs County. His father was a laborer in a saw mill. At age 30, his mother was unable to read or write. By 1935, Wesley’s family had moved back to Georgia, living in Whitfield County.

On April 19, 1940, Wesley and his family lived on Chatsworth Road in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia. Wesley was a laborer on a farm. His father was a life insurance salesman, his mother and sister Viola were machine operators in a bedspread factory, and his brother Robert was a gas station attendant.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and America entered World War II. A year later (December 31, 1942), Wesley headed to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia and enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. His enlistment records show that he had a grammar school education and was semiskilled in the fabrication of textile products—not surprising since Whitfield County is known for its textile and carpet mills. Wesley, who was 5’6” and weighed 150 pounds, was married to a woman named Marie, last name unknown, at the time.

In 1943, the fighting continued in Europe with many battles being fought. Back home, Americans were rationing shoes, food, clothing, rubber, metal, and fuel. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill began planning the Battle of Normandy, an invasion in France that Wesley would take part in with his unit, the 821st Tank Destroyer Battalion. The Invasion of Normandy was launched on June 6, 1944. Wesley survived the landing but was killed in action on July 31, 1944 during the engagement at Villebaudon, which is in the Manche, Normandy region, in the north of France.

At the request of his family, Wesley’s body was brought home to Georgia for burial at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Dalton. His mother applied for a flat granite military headstone on June 14, 1949. The stone was transported to Kenemer Brothers Funeral Home who handled the arrangements for placement on his grave.

Application for Headstone

Wesley’s death came just five months after his paternal first cousin, John Billy Shields, was killed in Italy on February 26, 1944 as his landing barge came ashore in combat during the Battle of Anzio.

“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” 
                                                                       – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Wesley's headstone photo by dreid2277 (Find A Grave #47339526).

Friday, May 19, 2017

Vincent Thomas Langford Sr.

Vincent Thomas Langford, Sr.,
a blacksmith by trade
Vincent Thomas Langford Sr., son of James C. Lankford and Mary Ann Wilson, was born in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia on March 29, 1887. He was the 8th child of 10—Homer J. Lankford, Alice Beman Lankford, Julia Lee Lankford, Jessica Corinne Lankford, James Vason Lankford, Mary Corrine Lankford, Nathan Lawrence Lankford, Vincent Thomas Langford Sr., Oliver Wilson Lankford, and Lillie Della Lankford. He went by Vince and would be my great grand uncle.

As I looked at the different records to write this blog post, I noticed the spelling of Vince’s last name went back and forth between Lankford and Langford. I mention this because Daddy used to say that the Langford’s thought they were better than the Lankford’s and that’s why they changed the spelling. Of course, that’s not true and he didn’t feel that way. Somebody had probably said it to him at some point and he repeated it as I'm doing here. I often see the spelling switched and find it interesting that it happens in the first place. If your name was spelled one way, why wouldn’t you correct someone if it was spelled incorrectly? Over the years, I know I’ve corrected people many times. It seems people hear the “g” more often than the “k.” Of course, Langford could have been the correct spelling and it was switched to Lankford. Who knows. Whatever the case, I’ll note the spelling in each record as I go along.

On June 1, 1900, Vince and his family lived in Woodville. The census enumerator recorded his age as 11 and birth as October 1888 which I believe it incorrect. If born in 1887, Vince would have been 13 years old, which matches the other records for him. Vince was already working as a farm laborer in June 1900, most likely helping his father who was a farmer. Vince could read and write. The census record shows that his parents had been married for 31 years and his mother had 10 children, all of which were living. Julius C. Wilson, Vince’s paternal 1st cousin (son of Emma Lankford) and his family lived next door.

When Vince was 20 years old, he married Maude Miriam Jarrell, daughter of William Jarrell and Mary Broom, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia on August 31, 1907. They were married by Marion S. Weaver, a Baptist preacher. Vince’s last name was spelled Lankford, with a “K” on their marriage license. Together Vince and Maude had five children—Agnes G. Langford, Estelle Alice Langford, Vincent Thomas Langford Jr., Roy Eugene Langford, and Mary Alma Langford. The following year started off with the death of Vince’s father James C. Lankford on January 21, 1908 in Greene County (probably in Penfield). He was 60 years old, young by today’s standards. James was buried at Penfield Cemetery in Penfield. That same year, Vince and Maude’s first child Agnes was born on December 8, 1908 (probably in Penfield as well).

Vince and Maude's Marriage License, Oglethorpe County, Georgia

Photograph of a group of men in front of a store, Penfield, Greene County, Georgia, 1908.
Vince is standing beside the horse.
From Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Archives, University System of Georgia.

Vince’s daughter Alice, born in Penfield, joined the family on January 20, 1910. Exactly three months later on April 20, 1910, the census enumerator found Vince and Maude living on Sanders Street in Penfield. They had been married for three years and had two children—Agnes (age 2) and infant daughter Alice (three months old and unnamed in the census record). Vince was a blacksmith who could read and write. The family of another paternal first cousin, Walter L. Wilson (son of Emma Lankford), lived three doors away. Two years later, Vince Jr. was born in Penfield on June 20, 1912.

Vince, Maude, and most likely daughters Agnes and Alice

Vince registered for the World War I draft in Penfield on June 5, 1917. He noted that he had a wife and two children. Vince described himself as short and slender, with blue eyes and black hair. He was still a blacksmith. His last name was spelled Langford, with a “g” on his registration card. On June 17, 1917, Vince and Maude welcomed baby Roy to the family. Vince’s mother Mary Ann Wilson Lankford died of Bright’s disease in Penfield on March 26, 1919. She was buried beside her husband James at Penfield Cemetery on March 27. Three months to the day after Mary’s death, Vince and Maude’s youngest daughter was born on June 27. They named her Mary so it’s possible that she was named for the grandmother she never knew. The family lived in Penfield when both Roy and Mary were born.

World War I draft registration card
On January 30, 1920, Vince, Maude, and their five children lived in Penfield. Vince rented a farm that was four houses from his sister, Jessie Lankford Barnhart, and her family. In early October 1920, Maude came down with diphtheria and tonsillitis which proved to be fatal. After 11 years of marriage, Maude died in Penfield at 2:30 a.m. on November 30. Every record I find for Maude has a different birth year but according to the Georgia Death Index, she was 33 years old at the time of her death. The informant on her death certificate was Annie Young who I believe was her sister. Maude was buried later that same day at Penfield Cemetery beside Alice Escoe Lankford, first wife of Nathan Lawrence Lankford, Vince’s brother. James C. Lankford and Mary Wilson Lankford, her father- and mother-in-law, are buried on the other side of her grave.

1920 Census Soundex card

Suddenly faced with raising five small children alone, Vince must have been in a panic. How was he going to work at the blacksmith shop and take care of his large family? He needed a wife. According to family members, Vince knew Thomas Terrell Burnette and his wife Elizabeth (Jones) (my great-grandparents) and arranged to marry their daughter, Eva Drucilla Burnette (my grand aunt). It’s been said that Vince and Eva’s courtship was not a storybook romance. Vince’s great-granddaughter once told me that he basically showed up at the house one day and took Eva away. Vince and Eva were married in Greene County on May 27, 1922 by John S. Callaway, the local Justice of the Peace. His last name was spelled Lankford, with a “k” on their marriage license. Vince’s sister Alice (Lankford) Callaway (my great grandmother) had a son Carroll Lankford (my grandpa) who was married to Floria Burnette, Eva’s sister. My grandparents Carroll and Floria Lankford were married on March 12, 1922 so perhaps that was how Vince knew that Eva was a single young woman of marrying age, but I don’t really know. Vince was nine years older than Eva. They had one child together, a boy they named James Hoyt Langford (Sr.), born in Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia on May 26, 1923.

Thomas and Elizabeth (Jones) Burnette and family, ca. 1908.
Eva is the taller girl in the plaid dress. My grandma Floria is standing to her left.

Vince and Eva's marriage license, Greene County, Georgia, 1922

Vince’s sister Julia died in Wilkes County on September 2, 1924. She was buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia. His brother James Vason Lankford died in Tryon, Polk County, North Carolina on December 22, 1929. He was buried at Penfield Cemetery in Penfield.

By April 8, 1930, Vince and Eva had moved the family to Greensboro. Agnes and Alice were no longer living in the home with the rest of the family. Vince owned his home, valued at $1210. Vince was still a blacksmith and by now, had Vince Jr. helping him in the shop. The 1930 census record was the first time I found Vince’s last name spelled Langford with a “g” instead of Lankford with a “k.”

On April 11, 1940, Vince, Eva, and James lived on Walnut Street in Greensboro. The highest grade that Vince had completed was 4th, Eva had completed the 5th grade, and their son James had completed the 7th grade. Vince was a proprietor in a blacksmith shop. The census enumerator spelled his last name Lankford, with a “k.”

Vince lost two sisters in 1951—Jessie died on August 1 and Alice on December 5. Both were buried at Penfield Cemetery. Jessie’s obituary noted that Vince lived in Greensboro while Alice’s noted that Vince lived in Penfield.

Vince was admitted to Minnie G. Boswell Hospital in Greensboro on June 10, 1956, suffering from congestive heart failure and pneumonia due to hypertensive and arteriosclerotic cardio vascular disease. He died on June 17 at the age of 69 having never left the hospital. His son Roy was the informant on his death certificate which incorrectly listed his brother James Vason Langford as his father. Vince’s obituary also listed his father as James Vason Langford. Vince’s funeral was held at Walker United Methodist Church in Veazey, Greene County, Georgia on June 19. He was buried near Thomas and Elizabeth Burnette in the church cemetery following the service. Vince was survived by his wife Eva; daughters Agnes, Alice, and Mary; sons Vince Jr., Roy, and James; sisters Mary and Dell; and brothers Nathan and Oliver. His obituary mentions a third brother named Carol Langford of Penfield who I can only assume is my grandpa, Carroll Harvey Lankford, who lived in Penfield. Carol was the son of Alice Beman Lankford, Vince’s sister, so would be his nephew, not his brother. This is just another case of my grandpa not being recognized as Alice’s son. Vince was also survived by 15 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Two of the pallbearers were Eva’s brothers, Prince and Luther Burnette. Other pallbearers were C. H. Crumbley, Ed Brown, Cola Langford, and Frank Moore. Frank Moore was the husband of Eva’s sister, Claudia Burnette. His last name was spelled Langford, with a “g” on his grave stone.

Vince was a blacksmith for many years in Greensboro as were several members of the Lankford family. One of his favorite activities was sitting on the back porch on a Sunday afternoon in a rickety old lawn chair according to his great-granddaughter.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Robert Dawson Callaway

Robert Dawson Callaway, son of Lemuel Lawrence Callaway Jr. and Anna Josephine Mullins, was born on April 10, 1875 in Union Point, Greene County, Georgia. Together they had six children—Talula Callaway, Jack Mullins Callaway, Carrie Callaway, Robert Dawson Callaway, Lemuel Kelser Callaway, and Earnest Callaway. He went by Bob and was the husband of my great-grandmother. We have no common blood relative.

Bob’s father was originally from Sumter, Alabama and served in Company H of the 8th Texas Cavalry (AKA Terry’s Texas Rangers) during the Civil War. His mother had a twin sister named Georgia A. J. Mullins.

On June 18, 1880, Bob and his family lived in District 146 of Greene County. His father was a farmer, his mother was keeping house. His sisters Talula and Carrie and his brother Jack were attending school, however, at age six, Bob was not.

Bob was just seven years old when his mother died on May 7, 1882 in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. Bob’s father took a second bride less than a year later on April 12, 1883 in Greene County, Georgia—Julia C. Askew, daughter of Ezekiel Griffin Askew and Cornelia Frances Mullins. Lemuel and Julia added eight more children to the family—Sidney Johnson Callaway, Arthur Howell Callaway, Olivia Callaway, Annie Callaway, Eulilla May Callaway, Ida Ruth Callaway, Samuel Ezequiel Callaway, and Claude Parkis Callaway.

On October 27, 1897, Bob married Alice Beman Lankford, daughter of James C. Lankford and Mary Ann Wilson, in Greene County. John S. Callaway performed the ceremony which was recorded by James H. McWhorter, Ordinary. Together they had one son, a boy they named Homer Crawford Callaway. Alice already had a son named Carroll Harvey Lankford (my grandpa) when she married Bob. I won’t go into the details of his birth here but if you’re interested, you’ll find the blogpost I wrote about Alice here. I’m sure my grandpa’s birth brought great shame to Alice at the time and therefore he was never fully acknowledged as her oldest child. This was something he had to live with his whole life.

On June 9, 1900, Bob, Alice, and their one-year-old son Homer lived in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia. Bob, who was unable to read or write, supported his family on a rented farm. His wife Alice was enumerated as the mother of one living child, which was incorrect.

On May 10, 1910, Bob and Alice still lived in Woodville. They had been married for 13 years. Bob had learned to read and write since the last census was taken. The census enumerator recorded Alice as the mother of two children this time, both of which were living. In fact, both boys were living in the home—Homer (age 11) and Carroll (age 19). My grandpa was enumerated as Carrel L. Callaway this time around. Both Bob and Carroll were farmers on a general farm.

Bob Callaway (1911)

Bob’s half-sister Eulilla died on April 13, 1911, most likely in Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia at the young age of 19. She was buried at Greensboro City Cemetery there in Greensboro. The following year, his father Lemuel died in Greensboro on July 22, 1912. I’ve been told (but haven’t found any proof yet) that Lemuel was working for the Georgia railroad as a night watchman at Carey Station when he died. Someone played a prank on him and turned the red light so the train would stop. Lemuel was walking the trestle to turn the light so the train could pass when the train hit and killed him. Lemuel was also buried at Greensboro City Cemetery.

On September 12, 1918, Bob was 43 years old and living in Greensboro when he registered for the World War I draft. He listed his occupation as farming and his nearest relative was his wife, Mrs. Alice Callaway. Bob was of medium height and build, had grey eyes, and light hair.

World War I registration

On January 2, 1920, Bob and Alice lived on a rented farm on Penfield Road in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. Bob was a farmer on a home farm and Alice was a farm laborer. Their son Homer and his wife Lou Emma (Armour) lived next door.

On April 25, 1930, Bob and Alice lived in Penfield. Homer, Lou Emma, and their six-year-old son Dawson were living with them. Both Bob and Homer were a laborer in a saw mill.

On April 15, 1940, Bob and Alice still lived in Penfield. Homer and his family, now consisting of five children, lived next door. At age 65 and 69 respectively, Bob and Alice were no longer able to work.

In 1941, photographer Jack Delano, working for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, took at least two photos of Bob and Alice for the book “Tenants of the Almighty” by Arthur F. Raper. The book, published by The MacMillian Company in 1943, depicted the story of Greene County, Georgia and its agriculture. Bob and Alice didn’t make the book but both pictures are in the Library of Congress today. The photo is captioned “Mr. and Mrs. Bob Callaway, couple receiving old age pension, Penfield, Greene County, Georgia.”

 Mr. and Mrs. Bob Callaway, couple receiving old age pension,
Penfield, Greene County, Georgia, Nov. 1941. Photographer Jack Delano.
Photograph retrieved from the Library of Congress,

 Mr. and Mrs. Bob Callaway, couple receiving old age pension, 
Penfield, Greene County, Georgia, Nov. 1941. Photographer Jack Delano. 
Photograph retrieved from the Library of Congress, 

Bob’s wife Alice died in Union Point on December 5, 1951. She was buried at Penfield Cemetery in Penfield. Bob lived another four years without Alice. He died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Union Point on March 1, 1955. He was 79 years old at the time. Bob was buried beside Alice at Penfield Cemetery on March 3 after a service at Penfield Baptist Church. The pall bearers were Earl Butler, Marshall Turner, Howard Lankford, Vason Lankford, Julian Callaway, and Beaman Callaway. Rev. Charles H. Kopp officiated the service. Bob was survived by his son Homer; his stepson Carroll, sisters Ruth and Mrs. B. M. Jester (I can’t figure out which sister she was but she lived in Augusta, Georgia); brothers Lemuel, Samuel, and Claude; 6 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Daughter-in-law Lou Emma (Armour) Callaway, son Homer Callaway,
wife Alice (Lankford) Callaway, and Bob Callaway

Stone at Penfield Cemetery

My Daddy remembers Bob as a kind man who loved his wife Alice and liked to tease her. Bob was a member of the Penfield Baptist Church and a Mason in the past lodge in Penfield.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Julia Saphronia Overton

Julia's tombstone at Old Conyers Cemetery
Julia Saphronia Overton, daughter of Abijah Overton and Elizabeth Ann Rhodes, was born in Newton County, Georgia on January 15, 1835. She was the 3rd child of 9—Mary J. Overton, James H. Overton, Julia Saphronia Overton, Elizabeth Z. Overton, John M. Overton, William Mosby Overton, Frances A. Overton, Louisa E. Overton, and Millicent Virginia Overton. Julia would be my 2nd great grand aunt.

[Note: When a wrote the blog post for Millicent Virginia Overton, I inaccurately recorded the children of Abijah and Elizabeth Rhodes. I have corrected that blog post and hopefully have it correct here.]

Julia’s family lived in District 166 of Newton County, Georgia in 1840. The census enumerator recorded two males under 5, one male under 10, and one male under 40; there were three females under 10 and one under 30.

On September 26, 1850, Julia and her family lived in Subdivision 65 of Newton County, Georgia. At 14 years old, she was enumerated as Ciphorna. Her father, enumerated as Elijah rather than Abijah, was a farmer with real estate valued at $1500. Julia married Hansford D. Woolley, son of Basel Woolley and Susannah Cumbaa, in Newton County, Georgia on June 15, 1858. Their only child, a son they named John L. Woolley, was born in Conyers, Rockdale County, Georgia on August 24, 1859.

Julia and Hansford's marriage license

On July 18, 1860, Julia, Hansford, and baby John lived in Conyers. Hansford was a carpenter with a personal estate valued at $800. Tragedy came to the Woolley home when John died in Conyers on March 30, 1861, five months before his second birthday. John was buried at the Old Conyers City Cemetery. The tragedy didn’t end there though. Sadly, Julia died two weeks later in Conyers on April 15, 1861—the same week the American Civil War began. She was just 26 years old. Julia was buried at Old Conyers City Cemetery beside her son John. I can only imagine that their death was the result of some horrible disease. Julia’s tombstone reads: To the memory of Julina S. Woolley, born Jan 15 1835, died April 15 1861.

Hansford, likely still grieving the loss of his family, enlisted as a private in Company B of the 18th Georgia Infantry Regiment on October 2, 1861. Hansford was wounded somewhere in the Richmond, Virginia area and sent to a hospital in Richmond where he died in service on April 29, 1862. He was just 30 years old. Hansford’s brother Elias brought his body back to Georgia for burial with his wife and son in Old Conyers Cemetery, bringing a tragic end to Julia’s small family.

Wooley family plot at Old Conyers Cemetery