Tuesday, April 24, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Cemetery

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of April 23, 2018, is Cemetery.

I love going to cemeteries. I visit our family plots in Sunset Hill Cemetery off and on here in Valdosta, Georgia. I went to the cemetery quite often when I first moved back to Valdosta five years ago. I like to sit by my dad’s and my paternal grandparents' graves for a while and commune with nature and with the dead. Then I visit my ancestors' graves. It’s just been way too hot the last two summers, so I haven't visited as much as I once did.

After I moved back to Valdosta, my son told me about a compilation of cemeteries and burials in Lowndes County (Valdosta is the county seat). I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book, so I thought I'd write about this handy resource.

Church and Family Cemeteries in Lowndes County, Georgia 1825-2005 was compiled by Geraldine McLeod Clifton and Dorothy Peterson Neisen (Reprinted 2007, Genealogy Unlimited Society, Inc. Printed and bound by Wayne and Judy Dasher, Nashville, Georgia). Information is included from Survey of Lowndes County Cemeteries 1825-1987, originally published by Genealogy Unlimited Society Inc. in 1987.  

Church and Family Cemeteries in Lowndes County is in two volumes. Burials in each cemetery are alphabetized by surname. Section numbers, birth date, and death date are referenced with each burial. There are also directions to the cemeteries, and some cemetery plats are included. There’s an index where the cemeteries are listed by area of the county. For example: Clyattville Area, Dasher Area, etc. There's also an index with an alphabetical list of surnames for the burials and one for the cemeteries. Some black and white photographs of graves are included. An alphabetized list of deaths after March 31, 2005 through July 2005 is also included.

These volumes don’t have Sunset Hill Cemetery (owned by the City of Valdosta) or Riverview Memorial Gardens (owned by McLane Funeral Home), but the authors note that books for these cemeteries will be printed at a later date. Information on burials at Sunset Hill can be accessed online by an interactive map. You can also visit the offices of both cemeteries for information. Most of the burials at Riverview Memorial have been posted on findagrave.

How about you? Do you like visiting cemeteries? I guess I mainly like to visit the ones where I have relatives and ancestors. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Storms

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of April 16, 2018, is Storms.

I searched for the word “storm” on the online South Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive for my home town Valdosta, Georgia. I found a 1912 article about a “cyclone” that had come through Lowndes County, where Valdosta is the county seat. Most of the damage was in the Old Redland and Clyattville districts of Lowndes south of Valdosta.

From The Valdosta Times, March 26, 1912

The March 26, 1912, Valdosta Times article, “Cyclone Hit Lowndes Hard Sunday Early,” reports that John Wisenbaker’s home, about six miles south of Valdosta, was destroyed by the storm. His family had escaped to the smoke house. The nearby Wisenbaker and Carroll school was blown down. John Carroll was blown against a fence when he was caught in the storm, and Ben Belote’s coat was torn from his body when he tried to go to Mr. Carroll’s aid. Both men escaped with no serious injuries.

A tree was blown across the Rocky Ford bridge, in the Redland district, south of Valdosta, causing extensive damage. At C. L. Smith’s home near Rocky Ford, the wind blew his dining room from his house and blew the roof from his corn crib. 

Ben Southall was caught out in the storm while going for a doctor. The roof of his buggy was blown off and he was blown from the buggy. The buggy was hurled around to one side and nearly turned over. Mr. Southall was rather bruised up from the incident.

Further south in Lowndes County, near Lake Park, people in the clubhouse and even upstairs at the Ocean Pond Fishing Club were drenched with water when it rushed inside and up the stairs. 

It was estimated that the storm set the farmers back about three or four days with their crops. The storm leveled hundreds of trees and several miles of fences. There were no fatalities and no severe injuries from the storm. 

There wasn’t much wind in the city of Valdosta during the storm, but the torrential rain over-flooded the street drains, and the streets were “badly washed up.” 

These kinds of storms are pretty frightening! Thank goodness I've never been caught out in one.


Monday, April 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Taxes

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of April 9, 2018, is Taxes.

I had planned on writing about the property tax records for my second great grandfathers who lived in Lowndes County Georgia, but while I was searching these records, I came across lists of Freedmen and their employers. 

I spotted my maternal great grandfather Remer Young's name as an employer to several Freedmen.  I wrote about Remer and some of his former slaves in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - The Old Homestead. I recognized the name of one of his employees, William Johnson, whose photograph is in that blog post.

As I continued scrolling through, I found a record of the Freedmen who worked for J. R. Young. This might be John Remer Young, son of Remer. 

I couldn’t find an exact date for these records, even with scrolling backward and forward, looking at pages 1 and 726 (the last page of this digitized record) and pages in between. Since these two particular Freedmen records are near the end of the digitizations, they could be from 1877. Below are the transcriptions of the names of the Freedmen and a digital copy of the record. 

Employed by Remer Young on the former Mineola plantation in north Lowndes County, Club House District, Militia District 658:

H. Stafford
William Johnson
R. Darcy
J. Moore
Robert Moore
Abe Robberson
M. Butter
E. McKinnon

H. Stafford had stock animals worth $2 and household and kitchen furniture worth $5. William Johnson had stock animals worth $8 and household and kitchen furniture worth $5. There is no property noted for the other employees.

Freedmen working for Remer Young, possibly 1877, Lowndes County, Georgia, Clubhouse District, Militia District 658, from Georgia Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892, Lowndes 1871-1877. Digitized on ancestry.com

Employed by J. R. Young on land in south Lowndes County, Clyattville District, Militia District 662:

Ned Johnson Jr.
Jerry Slater
James McKinney
John Young

Ned Johnson, Jr., had stock animals worth $7 and household and kitchen furniture worth $5. James McKinney had property valued at a total of $158, very high compared to the other Freedmen employees: stock animals $120, household and kitchen furniture $10, plantation and mechanical tools $6, and other property $22.

Freedmen working for J. R. Young, possibly 1877. Lowndes County, Georgia, Clyattville District, Militia District 662, from Georgia Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892, Lowndes 1871-1877. Digitized on ancestry.com

As the above record for Remer Young indicates, at least one of his former slaves, William Johnson, worked for him after emancipation. William was Remer's former body servant. These Freedman tax records would be another way to research enslaved ancestors to find out who their former owners might have been. 


Monday, April 9, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maiden Aunt

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of April 2, 2018, is Maiden Aunt. I've already written about a few of my maiden aunts, so for this prompt I chose my maternal grandfather's sister, Helen Redles. 

I don't know much about Helen, except what I've read in the letters she wrote my grandfather, William. He relied on her a lot (and on his sister Isabelle) to take care of his business while he was overseas. 

Letter from Helen Redles to my mother after I was born

At one point, William and Helen had a rift over some possessions he'd left in Philadelphia while he was stationed elsewhere (he was a Marine). He accused her of taking his things and also some items their mother had promised him. I don't know what the outcome of all of this was. It's been a while since I read their letters, but I do remember that she pleaded innocent on both counts. 

The youngest of three, Helen Redles was born in Philadelphia on April 7, 1877, to Isabella Liming and George Albert Redles. She was the youngest sister of my maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles. Their other sister was Isabelle Redles. 

Helen Redles. No date on the photo.

Helen graduated from a girls’ high school in 1895; she’s listed among those of the class who were “especially distinguished” in a Philadelphia Inquirer article dated June 13, 1895. I’ve been told that Aunt Helen was an artist. In 1896, she graduated from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, receiving a certificate in industrial drawing (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 June 1896).

Helen fell deeply in love with a minister in the early 1910s who turned out to be a rogue. Her brother William had heard some talk about the man, and so he had interfered for the sake of his sister. And then Helen discovered that the man was also a two-timer. The relationship ended (from a paper Helen wrote that was sent to me by my Redles cousin). I can imagine her broken heart.

In the summer of 1912, Helen's mother Isabella fell ill and had to be hospitalized. During this same time, her father George Albert became sick and wasn't expected to live for much longer. Helen bounced between the hospital and her father's sick bed, "exhausted with grief and anxiety" (from Helen's paper). Her father died in November 1912, and her mother died four years later in 1916.

I’ve not been able to find Helen in the 1920 or 1930 census records. Some of the letters she wrote to my grandfather in the 1920s are from various places: Leavenworth, Kansas; Palmyra, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Several letters from 1930 and 1931 are from Palmyra, New Jersey.

Both of Helen’s siblings died in 1932: Isabelle on June 19th and William on August 29th. Now she was alone as far as immediate family. I wonder how that made her feel? Although, she did have nieces and nephews.

In a November 12, 1936, article in the Trenton Evening Times, Helen is listed as a faculty member at the annual convention of the New Jersey teachers association. In 1937, she signed a teaching contract with the Pemberton, New Jersey, Board of Education for a salary of $1,200 to be paid over ten months (a digital copy was sent to me by my Redles cousin). I believe she taught art. An article on the front page of the April 24, 1937, Trenton Evening Times, notes that Helen supervised a student art exhibit in the main hall of Pemberton High School for a parents/teachers meeting. In a January 12, 1940, article in the Trenton Evening Times, Helen is listed as the supervising teacher for art in the Make Up Day program at Pemberton High School.

According to the 1940 U.S. census for Burlington County, Pemberton, New Jersey, Helen was a lodger at the home of Jenny Woodington and had lived at the same address at least since 1935. Helen was still employed as a school teacher in 1940. By 1952, Helen was living in Chico, California; she's listed in the city directory for that city. It seems like my cousin told me she lived with them in California.

Helen died on May 5, 1962, at the age of 85. She’s buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Orland, California. I find it interesting that her death notice (transcribed on her findagrave memorial) only mentions her sister Isabelle’s children and says there are no other living relatives. Her brother William’s children, my mother Leona and her sister Catherine, were also Helen’s only living relatives! Well, besides all of the grand nieces and grand nephews.

I wish I could have seen some of Aunt Helen's art!


"High School Girls Receive Diplomas." Philadelphia Inquirer. June 13, 1895. Electronic copy, genealogybank.com, accessed April 4, 2018.

"Groezingers Will Act as Hosts to Teachers,” Trenton Evening Times, November 12, 1936, page 27. Electronic copy, genealogybank.com, accessed April 4, 2018.

"Pemberton Pupils Hosts to Parents." Trenton Evening Times, April 24, 1937, page 1.

"Pemberton High Opens Club Slate."  Trenton Evening Times, January 12, 1940, page 17. Electronic copy, genealogybank.com, accessed April 4, 2018.