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!!


7 September 2009: Madness Monday – Miles From Miles

Miles Taliaferro (aka Miles Toliver) was my paternal great, great grandfather. Although Miles is the Taliaferro I know the least about, I feel a certain closeness to him that I cannot explain.

Miles was probably born in North Carolina circa 1824. Miles died sometime after October 1881. I have no reason to believe he died any place other than GA. However, there are other possible places of birth- Georgia and South Carolina. On the 1870 census Miles was born in GA. On the 1880 census Miles was born in NC, and so were both of his parents. The 1870 Voter Registration List for Fulton County also indicates that Miles was born in NC. The 1880 and 1900 census enumerations for Miles’ son, John Wesley Taliaferro, show his father was born in NC; in 1910 it was SC; and in 1920 it was GA. I think GA is the least likely of the three. I think NC is probably where Miles was born, but I cannot place him there. I think I can place Miles in SC with a former slave owner and relative of his last slave owners in GA, Richard Taliaferro and his son Edward Mobley Taliaferro.

Edward Mobley Taliaferro was the son of Richard Taliaferro and Susan Mobley. They were all born in SC. Susan’s father was Edward Mobley of Chester District, SC. In 1838 Edward Mobley made a will which included bequeaths for a large number of slaves, but there was no slave named Miles. Some months later in 1839, Edward Mobley made a second will. This will is almost identical to the first will with the exception that it contains some additional slaves-among them one slave named “Miles” valued at $775.00. (My Miles would have been about 15yrs old). The last section of the will states in part “And whereas the above legacies is in Lieu of all right title and interest to any part of the Estate of Ephrain M Mobley Deceased ….” Because of this statement, I believe that the additional slaves in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will probably came from the estate of this Ephrain M Mobley.

The estate packet for Edward Mobley that I ordered from the SC Archives did not contain a final distribution of slaves by name. I have not been able to locate a will for an Ephrain/Ephraim M. Mobley in either SC or GA. I don’t know who he is, or how he was related to the Mobley family. Maybe he is the NC connection. I found an Ephriam Mobley who was living in Henry County, GA in 1830, and he does not show up in the 1840 census. I found no will for an Eprhain/Ephraim Mobley there or in any of the surrounding counties. I believe he may be the key to tracking down info on the additional slaves named in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will.

A copy of Edward Mobley’s will was filed in Dekalb County, GA. Maybe a copy of the Ephrain M Mobley will was also filed there, but I may never know for sure. Dekalb is a burned county; there were courthouse fires in 1842 and 1898. If my worst fears are realized, any evidence that would assist me in proving or disproving this “Miles” as my “Miles” went up in smoke many, many years ago in that 1842 fire. For all my research thus far, I am still Miles from Miles.


31 August 2009: Madness Monday

By sjtaliaferro

My first Madness Monday post is a puzzle that has followed me for years.

My gg grandfather was Miles Taliaferro. Miles is a major brick wall and a story I’ll save for another time.

Miles had five sons: John Wesley Taliaferro (my great grandfather), Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro, Robert Taliaferro, David Taliaferro, and Thomas Taliaferro. (Miles also had daughters, but they are not the focus here). At some point, after the 1880 census, Robert and David changed their names; they became Bob Toliver and Dave Toliver. This caused a major brick wall until I got death certificates for Bob Toliver and Dave Toliver that confirmed their father was Miles. (Thomas may have done so as well, but I have no documentation for that if he did). In the 1880 census, Miles and family are right where I expected to find them – Fulton County, GA with the surname spelling I expected – T-A-L-I-A-F-E-R-R-O. The same goes for the 1870 census except there the name is spelled T-O-L-L-I-V-E-R. After 1880, I cannot find any trace of Robert Taliaferro/Bob Toliver or David Taliaferro/Dave Toliver until they show up in the 1910 census; again right where I expected to find them – Fulton County, GA- but now they are Bob TOLIVER and Dave TOLIVER. They are now married with children. A thirty year gap. Darn that 1890 census!!!! (I do have a possibility for Robert in the 1900 census, but can’t confirm it’s him. This candidate is single and living alone in 1900. In the 1910 census Robert/Bob has children in the household who were born before 1900. I am not sure if these are his children with his wife, or her children from a prior marriage, but something feels “off” about this family.)

Taliaferro is a surname for which the pronunciation and the spelling do not match. Taliaferro is often pronounced tah-li-ver. I know it was pronounced that way by my ancestors, and most likely by their slave owner as well. When Taliaferro is pronounced
tah-li-ver, the spelling can easily change to Toliver or Tolliver. This is probably what happened with Robert/Bob and David/Dave. I wonder what prompted this change to the phonetic spelling? Whether it was a matter of choice or convenience, or some other reason, I’ll probably never know. Interestingly, my great grandfather John Wesley, his son John Robert, and his son John Lawrence (my father) continued the Taliaferro spelling and tah-li-ver pronunciation. My brother and cousin disagree. They say no way can T-a-l-i-a-f-e-r-r-o be pronounced tah-li-ver. So, they both pronounce it tel-i-fer’ro. I switch back and forth depending on my mood. 🙂

I have searched and searched the 1900 census, page by page and line by line, but I cannot find Robert Taliaferro/Bob Toliver or David Taliaferro/Dave Toliver anywhere. (I’m not sure about Thomas; he may have been otherwise engaged- on “vacation”- I’m still working on him; I have found John Wesley Taliaferro and Alex Tolliver). Robert/Bob died 9 April 1920 and David/Dave died 3 February 1951, in Fulton County, GA. What happened between the 1880 census and the 1910 census? Did they move away; temporarily relocate? Were they missed by the census takers-both of them? I have nothing to lead me to other relatives in another county or state where they may have gone possibly in search of work, or for some other reason. Where were they in 1900?