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07 January 2012: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Your Very Best 2011 Research Adventure

It’s time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings.

Randy presents as your mission, should you decide to accept it:

1) Decide which of your (many?) genealogy research adventures in 2011 was your “very best” (your definition).

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a Status report or comment on Facebook, or in a Stream note on Google Plus.

Here’s mine:

My very best genealogy research adventure for 2011 was finding the final division of slaves in the probate records for the estate of Edward Mobley who died in 1839 in Chester District, SC.  I discovered early in my research that my 2nd great grandfather, Miles, was a slave in the Taliaferro family in DeKalb and Fulton County Georgia, but until last year I did not have a paper trail to document what I knew from circumstantial evidence to be true.  Thanks to the amazing records on FamilySearch.org I found the documentation I had long searched for – that Miles was one of the slaves allotted to Susan Mobley Taliaferro the daughter of Edward Mobley. Wait! There’s more.  I also discovered two very promising candidates for my 2nd great grandmother Lizzie in that same document. It was a research-altering discovery.  You can read about this research triumph in my earlier post “Lizzie Taliaferro, My 2nd Great Grandmother. Have I Found Her?

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04 March 2011: The Maiden Name of Pleasant LAWRENCE, Wife of James “Jim” LAWRENCE

My paternal grandmother was Fannie Mae LAWRENCE. Her father was George Lawrence, and his parents were James and Pleasant Lawrence. They are all from Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. I did not know the maiden name for Pleasant. Given that I am researching the LAWRENCE line “in the blind” so to speak with no prior knowledge of anyone and no living relative to assist, I am piecing things together as I go.

In the 1880 census for Greensboro, Greene Co., Rebecca TURNER, born about 1805 in Virginia, is listed as the mother for head of household James LAURENCE. This same census lists wife Pleasant as being born in Virginia also. So, being persuaded by another researcher that the census taker did not take the time to write mother-in-law for relationship to head of household, I recorded Rebecca as the mother of Pleasant, and therefore, Pleasant’s maiden name as TURNER. A recent discovery has proven this to be incorrect. Honestly, I was never really comfortable with making Rebecca the mother of Pleasant; it just did not feel right to me. But, the logic of the other researcher won the argument.

Something, or rather someone, spoke to my spirit and told me to look closer at the children of James and Pleasant for clues. I had discovered early in my research that Nellie LAWRENCE, daughter of James and Pleasant, had married a Robert WHITEHEAD. I decided to go to Georgia’s Virtual Vault and look for a death certificate for Nellie Whitehead.  Bingo!

LAWRENCE-Nellie-2

Nellie died 22 June 1925, in Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia. 1  The informant on her death certificate was her husband Robert WHITEHEAD. Nellie’s parents were listed as James LAWRENCE and Pleasant LITTLE, both born in Greene Co. So, Pleasant’s maiden name was LITTLE. I have looked at a lot of census records for Greene County, but I don’t recall that particular surname. Now I need to look more closely.

Now that I can document a maiden name for Pleasant, I need to revisit Rebecca TURNER.

I believe, as the census indicates, that Rebecca TURNER is the mother of James LAWRENCE. If I can find a death certificate for James maybe it will confirm my theory.  Stay tuned.

Nellie Whitehead, death certificate #1546, Death Certificates, Vital Records, Public Health, RG 26-5-95, Georgia Archives; digital image, Georgia’s Virtual Vault, Georgia Death Certificates, 1919-1927 (http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/index.php).

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10 May 2010: CoAAG 3rd Edition, They Served with Honor: African-Americans in the Military (1914-1953) ~ John Lawrence Taliaferro, Gunner’s Mate Third Class, USNR

TALIAFERRO-NAVY-DISCHARGE-front-croppedMy father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, served in the Navy during World War II.  He entered active service on 16 July 1942, in Macon, Georgia and was honorably discharged from the U. S. Naval Personnel Separation Center in Shoemaker, California on 5 December 1945. What a great Christmas present for his family who I am sure prayed for his safe return.

I know from my mother that she met my father, shortly after his discharge. My mom told me that when she met my father, he was wearing his Navy uniform. Maybe he was celebrating – happy to be home from the war.  That was the only story I had that placed my father in the military.  In 2006, my cousin gave me his discharge paper, and from that I pieced together more details about his service in the Navy.

My father held several ratings during service including, AS S2c, S1C, and GM3c. I believe the “S” rating stands for Seaman. The GM is for Gunner’s Mate.  I learned that Gunner’s Mates are responsible for the operation and maintenance of guided missile launching systems, gun mounts and other ordnance equipment, as well as small arms and magazines.

On his discharge paper under “Qualifications and Certification Held” is Driving Winch, Checking Ammunition; under “Service (vessels and stations served on)” USNB Nav. Mag. Port Chicago, Calif,- USNB NAD, Mare Island, California, and USNAD, Navy # 66; and under “Remarks” Asiatic-Pacific Theatre, Victory Medal, American Theatre, and Point System.

Obviously, my father completed his tour of duty, and made it home safely. Historically, however, things could have been quite different.

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The Port Chicago Disaster

America was swept into World War II on 7 December 1941. As war in the Pacific expanded, the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island, California, was unable to keep up with the demand for ammunition. Port Chicago, California, located 35 miles north of San Francisco, proved an ideal place for the Navy to expand its munitions facilities. Construction at Port Chicago began in 1942. By 1944, expansion and improvements to the pier could support the loading of two ships simultaneously.

African-American Navy personnel units were assigned to the dangerous work at Port Chicago. Reflecting the racial segregation of the day, the officers of these units were white. The officers and men had received some training in cargo handling, but not in loading munitions. The bulk of their experience came from hands-on experience. Loading went on around the clock. The Navy ordered that proper regulations for working with munitions be followed. But due to tight schedules at the new facility, deviations from these safety standards occurred. A sense of competition developed for the most tonnage loaded in an eight hour shift. As it helped to speed loading, competition was often encouraged.

On July 17, 1944, a deadly munitions explosion occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California. Munitions detonated while being loaded onto a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations, killing 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others.  Most of the dead and injured were enlisted African-American sailors; Of the 320 men killed in the explosion, 202 were the African-American enlisted men who were assigned the dangerous duty of loading the ships. The explosion at Port Chicago accounted for fifteen percent of all African-American casualties of World War II.

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command, Navy Department Press Releases, July 16-31, 1944 folder, Box 55, World War II Command File, Operational Archives Branch, Washington, DC. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq80-1.htm  assessed 8 May 2010.

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What does all this mean? Exactly what did my father do while in the Navy during World War II? Honestly, I don’t really know.  As a Gunner’s Mate he was definitely involved with ammunition.  Was he involved in the Port Chicago incident? It’s very likely.  I know he served on vessels during several major campaigns, the Asiatic Pacific Theatre, and the American Theatre.  He also received the Victory Medal which “may be awarded to all members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the Government of the Philippine Islands who served on active duty in World War II at any time between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946.” (Established by Public Law No. 135 of 6 July 1945.)  Source: U.S. Navy Awards Manual, 1953.

My father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, was discharged on 5 December 1945.  He served in the Navy for 3yrs, 4 months, 19 days.  On his discharge paper under “Character of Separation is “Honorable EE”. While I don’t know the specifics of my father’s service in the Navy, I’d like to think he served his country to the best of his ability, and that he served with pride. I’d like to think that my father, John Lawrence Taliaferro, Gunner’s Mate Third Class, USNR, Served with Honor.

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6 December 2009: Sentimental Sunday & Monday Madness – Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

Blue Monday Annie LeeResearching my family history is a very emotional experience for me, as I’m sure it is for many researchers. Each newly discovered piece of information fills in another piece of the puzzle, but also presents you with more questions and creates even more empty spaces in that puzzle that is your family tree. Our family stories need to be told, and we were chosen by our ancestors to do just that…tell their stories. It is imperative that we record and preserve our family history. No one said it would be easy, but it is necessary. There are highs and lows, jackpot days and empty days, and many brick walls to tackle. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I love it all. Sometimes, however, I can’t help but wonder about the things I’ll never find, and….
Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

For all the brick walls I’ll never break through
For all the documents I’ll never find
For all the burned courthouses where ashes held the answers I seek
For all the times no one took the time to write it down
For all those known only by their sex, age and race
For all those that died before anyone knew they were ever alive
For all those who survived with no clues left to trace
For all the photos with no name, date, or place
For all the lost memories, and those too ugly to share
For all the unidentifiable and unmarked graves
For all the cemeteries too unimportant to save
For all those ancestors I’ll never know
For all those I find, but can’t prove they are mine….
Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

[Image Source: Blue Monday. Artist: Annie Lee]

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24 October 2009: Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro – Running A Blind Tiger

By sjtaliaferro

In genealogy we research to find out the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Those are the basics. But, if you are like me, you often wonder what everyday life was like for your ancestors. What did they do; where did they go; and who did they see. We know that they had to work and take care of their families; deal with the struggles of day-to-day living. Of course, many attended church and school, and were probably involved in community activities. I am in constant search of anything that can shed more light on the daily life of my ancestors, and their extracurricular activities. I have found that historical newspapers are an excellent source for conducting this type of research. You never know what you might find…..and, as they say, be careful what you ask for.

A few days ago while on Footnote.com, I came across this interesting notice in the March 24, 1902, issue of the Atlanta Constitution:

Page 3

My Taliaferro ancestors have a history in East Point, GA. The WHERE of this story fit with my research facts. Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro was my great, great uncle; son of Miles Taliaferro, my great, great grandfather; brother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro; uncle of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro; and great uncle to my father John Lawrence Taliaferro. Alex was born about 1858 in Fulton, GA, and died sometime after this 1902 incident, probably in or close to East Point, GA. That’s the WHO and WHEN. But, WHAT in the world was a “blind tiger” and WHY was Uncle Alex running one?
I had never heard or seen the term “running a blind tiger” before. A quick search on Google revealed the following definitions: Blind Tiger – a place where illegal intoxicants were sold; Running a blind tiger – selling liquor without a license. So, now I have the WHAT. Uncle Alex and his buddies were selling liquor, illegally!!!! As the old folks say..they were running a liquor house. That really cracks me up, especially considering his brother John Wesley and his nephew John Robert were ministers.
All that remains unanswered is the WHY. Why was Uncle Alex selling illegal liquor? Was this a way to make extra money? Probably. Was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe, but maybe not. Or, were dear Uncle Alex and his cohorts just up to no good? Possibly. I wonder if I can find out the outcome of the case. Like so many other questions in genealogical research, the WHY will unfortunately probably remain unanswered. At least I know something about one day in the life of my great, great uncle..Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro. I think I’ll go and have a glass of wine (or two) in honor of Uncle Alex!!

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4 Oct 2009: I’LL ALWAYS LOVE MY MAMA

LILLIAN MIDDLEBROOKSI’ll always love my mama
She’s my favorite girl
I’ll always love my mama
She brought me in this world

My mother, LILLIAN MIDDLEBROOKS, was born December 7, 1916, in Woodbury, Meriwether County, GA. She passed on Sunday, September 27, 2009, at age 92. It was my birthday.
A mother’s loves so special
It’s something that you can’t describe
It’s the kind of love that stays with you
Until the day you die
She taught me little things
Like saying hello, and thank you, please
While scrubbing those floors on her bended knees

My mama was an incredible woman. As a child I did not want for anything. Yes, you would probably consider me “spoiled” as they say. As a child I took all of those things for granted; as an adult I realize they were the product of my mama’s love, devotion, and hard work-sometimes two jobs. Many years ago, I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed. In the years that followed, my mama was my primary caregiver. Her strength, determination, and encouragement gave me the strength, determination, and courage I needed to continue my education, graduate from college, and pursue a career. I am the person I am today because of my mama.
In 1991, my mama suffered a stroke, and our roles reversed; I was now responsible for ensuring that both of us had the care we needed to continue to live our lives in our home with minimal disruption. In dealing with the various local and state agencies I realized that now I was considered the primary caregiver for my mama. I refused to put my mama in a nursing facility, as many suggested over the years. It was not even a consideration, just as she had not considered putting me in a facility after my accident. My mama was a proud lady, and continued to do most things for herself. Despite the stroke, she was still an independent and strong woman determined not to let being confined to a wheelchair confine her spirit. I believe I possess those same qualities.
In early September 2009 my mama was hospitalized. Her health had been rapidly declining over the past few months and her dementia was also getting worse. When it was time for her to leave the hospital the doctors recommended a nursing facility and hospice care. My mama was leaving me and I could see it. She stopped eating, was barely taking any liquids, and almost never opened her eyes. Over the last two weeks, I do not think she knew I was there, or maybe she did. I pray she did. Early on Sunday, September 27, 2009, I got the call that we should plan to come as soon as possible-things were not looking good- my mama was beginning her transition. It was my birthday.
My brother Bernard by my side we sat there with my mama-waiting, crying, praying. Bernard has been and continues to be my rock and my comforter. God knew that I would need someone, and placed him in my life so that he would be here when I needed him most. Sitting there at her bedside, I had a nagging feeling that my mama needed to hear something before she could leave this world behind and claim the peace she deserved-she needed to know that her baby girl was going to be okay….and so we told her that I was fine; Bernard told her that he would take good care of me and not to worry. I told her that I was fine and that I loved her…she closed her eyes and was gone. Gone from this world, but not from my heart. My mama was an incredible woman….
(Talking ’bout mama)
Oh, she’s one of a kind
(Talking ’bout mama)
You got yours, and I got mine
(Talking ’bout mama)
Hey mama, Hey mama,
My heart belongs to you
Oh, yeah
I’ll always love my mama, yeah
She’s my favorite girl
You only get one
You only get one, yeah
I’ll always love my mama
She brought me in this world
Talking ’bout mama..

I’ll Always Love My Mama

(I’ll Always Love My Mama, Lyrics: Kenneth Gamble / Leon Huff / Gene McFadden / John Whitehead / Victor Carstarphen. Song:The Intruders – 1973.)

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