Y2.2K NEWS10 283 Moss Oak Lane ST SIMONS ISLAND GA
31522 OCTOBER 2002
We had such a fine meeting on
September 15th that several members suggested we have at
least one more this year. Those who skipped the September meeting
(and we know who you are) missed some fun, and the best deserts we
have ever had at a meeting - thanks to Amy, our world-class baking and
November 10th will
mark our last scheduled meeting for 2002, and we'll meet at 2PM in
College Place United Methodist Church on Altama Avenue, Brunswick. The
short business meeting purposing to set up our Year 2003 schedule did
not materialize (blame low attendance on this rainy meeting day). We
will do a rerun on this, and Bill Smith will preside in November.
Plans for a Christmas gathering this year have been set aside.
SEPTEMBER 15th MEETING at
College Place United Methodist Church on Altama Avenue, Brunswick was
a "Show and Tell". Almost everybody brought an example of their more
successful genealogy, and a feeling of good genealogy in action put a
happy smile on our faces ( ;>) . We will do more of this show and
tell, and those of us aching for sympathy or acclamation may yet
find it in a future meeting. We all can learn something! First-time
visitors Glenda and Robert Jones appeared to enjoy the spirited
discussions, and hoped to be at our next meeting. We gave them a
September NewsLetter and we'll send them October's letter.
MILLEDGEVILLE'S MEMORY HILL CEMETERY
in the city's historic district dates back to around 1809, when
it was the site of a Methodist church believed to have been host to an
early conference by Bishop Francis Asbury, founder of the Methodist Church
in America. Close neighbors to the cemetery, Paul and Lorene Flanders
Campbell, are said to enjoy frequent walks in the cemetery because it
contains so much of the area's history.
In honor of the city's 200th
anniversary next year, the Campbells are restoring the sexton's cottage at
Memory Hill to its original appearance. They believe the cottage is the
place where "you can really get a sense of the town's history". Because it
is not in keeping with the original building, they obtained permission to
remove a wing of the cottage that was added in the early 1900s, the sides
of which were made from floor boards of the 1809 Methodist church.
Campbell believes there are additional graves of former slaves from the
Civil War period buried under the addition. He knows they are unlocking
mysteries of the old area..
Burials in Memory Hill include author
Flannery O'Connor, plus many of Georgia's state legislators and US
congressmen, Christian ministers, town socialites, as well as many who
were once patients at Milledgeville's Mental Hospital, one of the world's
largest early mental institutions. Graves of Buffalo soldiers [America's
first professional black soldiers - fought Indians out West] and slaves
who died before emancipation can be found among the oaks and pine trees of
Memory Hill [wish we had known about Memory Hill when we were in that area
CLAY COUNTY, MISSOURI, named for
the Clays of Virginia, was part of an area known as "Little Dixie," a
rich, agricultural region bordering the Missouri River's natural course.
It was settled mostly by pioneers from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee,
much alike in their politics, origins and philosophies. With an
agricultural economy based on tobacco, hemp and livestock these farming
pioneers turned Clay County into one of the very top slaveholding counties
of the state [sort of dubious honor, all things considered].
Slavery of Indians had been common
practice in the areas these pioneers had come from, where prominent
colonial families had built fortunes as traders, often raiding Indian
villages and taking back captives - largely women and children for labor
on their own plantations, or for sale to others.
By the time of the Revolution, Indian
slavery had been technically outlawed. Even so, many women of Native
American origin remained in bondage, and many of their children followed
the status of their mothers.
Southern court records reveal
lawsuits in which slaves sued masters for their freedom, claiming des-cent
from Indian mothers or grandmothers. Some were successful, especially
those with a white sponsor to push their case, but for countless others
ancestral details on children stolen from tribes that could not be
identified would never be verifiable.
-- based on Hurt, Agriculture and
Slavery in Missouri's Little Dixie.
THE ENSLAVED AUSTINS OF MISSOURI'S
"Little Dixie": a 24 page account written for the June 2002 National
Genealogical Society Quarterly by Douglas S. Shipley, begins with this
"Frank Peebley and Fanny Austin offer
a glimpse into the lives of formerly enslaved people, illustrating the
complex and intertwined relationships of master, slave, child and worker
roles. Both Frank and Fanny demonstrate the urgency of preserving family
tradition as a window into the past, as well as the reasons why
genealogists and historians should diligently strive to document the
details of family lore."
[Ed: I will lift up excerpts only from
the first few pages of this writing, with the hope of creating interest in
the whole absorb-ing story for anyone who should want to "read on".]
"Many historians - family and
professional - assume genealogical research on enslaved families to be
impossible. The slave's lack of education and the master's lack of
concern, they argue, produced few records of the types that free families
created. Such views, however, discount the possibility that slaves could
preserve and pass on an account of their own heritage. And it short
changes the extent to which these oral accounts can be verified,
amplified, and corrected by documentary evidence.
A shortage of written records is not
exclusively the problem of the formerly enslaved. Prior to the twentieth
century, much of the day-to-day life of the average person went unrecorded
- especially among the poor and uneducated. Although researchers may
expect fewer records for documenting the lives of individual slaves, they
are likely to be surprized by the amount they uncover. Following the
convention of beginning with the present and proceeding backward to the
unknown, researchers find guideposts to the past in many modern sources,
from obituaries and burial records to Social Security registrations to the
interviews of elderly ex-slaves conducted by the Works Projects
Administration in the 1930s. Building upon this base, one finds that
censuses, military pensions, and Freedmen's Bureau records chronicle the
births, familial relationships, and migrations of many freedmen. Prior to
the Civil War, business and farm ledgers, court records, diaries, deeds,
estate files, and tax rolls created by the master class can be rich
Within this framework, research is
constrained by the nature of the "peculiar institution" [of slavery]
Be-cause slaves were generally prohibited from learning to read or
write,[- a crazy world!] details of an individual's life were rarely
self-recorded. Frederick Doug-lass's revealing autobiography points out
that a slave's birth might be remembered only in conjunction with another
event (e.g., in the Spring, before the War, or when the flood happened).
Post war experimentation with surnames also presents major road-blocks.
Some former slaves took on the family name of their last owner; some used
the name of an earlier owner; many took the name used by their mother or
their father (black or white), while others chose a name because they
Traditionally, African genealogy
predated the writ-ten word. In some societies, villages appointed
griots [- never saw this word before - looked it up - it means
"Any of a class of musician-entertainers of Western Africa whose
performances include tribal histories and genealogies."] to
preserve the history of individual families; their recitations were a mix
of traditional storytelling, saga and song - but few exact dates. Their
recollect-ions were augmented and checked by respected family elders, who
were informed sources of much familial information. This custom was not
trans-planted to America, however - likely because of the loss of tribal
recognitions and the disruption of social and familial units by [owner]
inheritances and sales. Even so, community elders have always played a
fundamental role in passing on the knowledge of forebears to succeeding
To surmount these obstacles, family
historians view their ancestors as more than just names and dates [CGGS
members do that too]. They were living, breathing and thinking individuals
who interacted within their society. The challenge is to ascertain what
lives, institutions, or governmental entities touched one's ancestors and
to determine the most likely repositories of whatever information each
contact created. As information is found, it needs to be compared with
accounts of other branches of the family and the family's neighbors, the
laws that affected the communities in which they lived, and the events in
which they likely took part. These checks and balances are especially
imperative when tracing a family's passage through slavery, where one must
rely more heavily upon oral information.
Embracing oral histories of formerly
enslaved families requires a measure of caution. Not all oral information
deserves to be taken at face value or assumed to be accurate. Personal
recollections, interpretations, or intentional omissions cause oral
accounts to change over the course of years.
Reasonably accurate understandings of
past events require one to review the totality of the details and to place
family anecdotes into context to evaluate their plausibility." [ -
there's 21 more pages in this account, but you get the picture.........].
LIGHTHOUSE FOR SALE: or, as our
Brunswick News puts it, front page, "Up for grabs" in a
recently released list of 20 lighthouses the U.S. Coast Guard and
Department of the Interior are looking to give away as part of their
National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Program. The Tybee Island
Historical Society has just claimed (with some objection from the Town of
Tybee Island) the lighthouse on that island.
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
has been maintaining the St Simons Island Lighthouse and light-keeper's
dwelling since 1975 and have just spent $160,000 on restoration of the
outside of the keeper's quarters, in their agreed upon task of preserving
the facility and keeping it open to the public. They obviously expect to
be the future owners, and they have extensive plans for its projected
profitable use in the future. They also have possession of the old post
office building next door, which they are utilizing for their own meetings
as well as a for-hire public meeting hall.
Future plans for the old post office
building are to demolish it, rather than incur the expense to modify and
repair the building and leaking roof. They would build a new $3.5 million
Cultural Heritage Center in its place, to include a [storm-proof?] vault
for the historical archives presently crowding the present archival room.
[ - would anyone like to join me in
wishing the Historical Society the greatest of good fortune in their
projected plans? Next, I would hope to see them (or almost anybody) tackle
the Casino, for something more in keeping with the village architecture.
Does anybody consider it untouchable?].
JACKSONVILLE GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY:
sent us the enclosed yellow flyer on the announcement of Fall Genealogy
Classes. Regrettably, it came too late to be included with our September
NewsLetter, and only the last two October classes will remain when our
members get to read it.
Next time JGS has a flyer or other
information for us to pass along to our members, it would be good if
they would e-mail it to us. Okay? JGS, Please note
BETH GAY'S - HUNTING FOR BEARS
extolls the excellence of The Handy Book for Genealogists, now
in its 10th edition. She writes, "No matter your level of
expertise, there's one book that every single genealogist should have
within reach at all times - it is the book you should own."
BUDDY SULLIVAN, LOCAL HISTORIAN
is someone many of us have heard at least a time or two. He is doing "Journey
in Time - a historical course [that] takes its students through a
timeline of the Golden Isle's growth". Coastal Georgia Historical Society
is the sponsor, and the course will be taught at their Coastal Heritage
Center - St Simons Island's old post office building. [they report that
the roof leaks "like a seive" - but only when it rains, and they have a
supply of buckets for that contingency]
The course will begin 6 to 8 p.m. on
October 9th with consecutive classes to follow through October
and November. The cost is $45, and you can call 638-4666 for more
SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE
HEARD: Roy Vandergrift's slides and narration on October 3rd
at the Augusta Genealogical Society's program on "The Cherokee Path:
From Charleston SC to Fort Prince George/Keowee and on to Fort Loudon,
Tennessee". This was a 300 year tour with the audience along the
course of the Santee and Saluda Rivers. The Cherokee Trail is still
visible as it runs across Saluda County.