Monday, June 29, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About the Wedding at the ADPi House?

Coat of Arms of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority (1)

Small town newspapers from the earlier part of the twentieth century can be such a fount of useful as well as fascinating information. Things like school talent shows, families visiting other relatives, who was sick, new babies, graduations. And the all important information about weddings.

I was browsing through microfilm issues of a small newspaper hoping to find the exact wedding date for a relative. After about an hour of looking, I found the wedding announcement. At last I had the date. More than that, I found an interesting story.

The opening paragraphs, in a newspaper in which most wedding announcements were generally only a few sentences long, set the stage.(2)
“It is not often that the most important events in a girl’s life move at such a pace as they have in the life of … Frances … who married … Thomas … At 11 o’clock … she marched into the chapel of this noted southern college, and in academic cap and gown, received her degree.   Less than two hours later, in a powder blue crepe frock with hat and accessories she stepped out to the measures of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” in the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House to receive her wedding ring.”
Things moved toward a wedding when Thomas arrived at the college the day before graduation with some plans of his own. He came with a beautiful necklace as a graduation present for Frances. Thomas also brought other things: a wedding license, a platinum wedding band, and his father to be his Best Man.

The sorority sisters had known of the couple's plans to marry later in June. The girls had even suggested that Frances, their chapter president, select their sorority house as the place for that upcoming summer wedding.

With about 24 hours to finalize plans, Frances, Thomas, family members, and sorority sisters planned the wedding. Frances chose to wear a blue dress, her sorority's color. At the wedding, she walked down an aisle comprised of her sorority sisters. The couple met at the area of the sorority house where the ADPi crest hung on the wall, and there the couple exchanged their vows. And that was how, within just a few short hours, Frances graduated from college and had became a married woman.

The whole story reminded me so much of those classic black-and-white movies from the 1930s, the comedies focusing on college life. I can see the clothes, hear the sorority sisters laughing and crying tears of joy, feel the excitement they must have felt being part of the surprise nuptials.

The 13 paragraph article also provided a wealth of genealogical information. From it I learned more about Frances, her college extracurricular activities, and much about her parents who had been social and political figures in the area. The article also gave additional information about Thomas and his college days.

Although the couple did not live happily ever after, their marriage certainly started with joy and excitement. The wonderfully descriptive newspaper article let that event came alive for me. Thanks also to two special relatives, also members of ADPi, who pointed out some sorority details and shared my interest in this story about an ADPi wedding.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from newspapers available through,, the Digital Archives of Georgia, and local libraries.

(1) Photo accompanying blog post "Spending the Afternoon at EO - LS Guest Blog" by Cassidy Collier, no posting date, accessed
(2) “Miss Frances Hodges Weds Mr. Vaughan”, The Hartwell Sun, 3 Jun 1932, reprint of an article by Mabelle S Wall appearing in The Atlanta Constitution, 30 May 1932.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About Paul Perkinson

It seems that my Great Uncle Paul Perkinson shared something in common with humorist and writer Mark Twain. Each had to deal with a report of his death.

Imagine sitting down with your first cup of coffee, opening the morning newspaper, and reading this article about yourself. Definitely would call for a second cup!

The [Atlanta] Constitution, 4 Feb 1903

And then, three days later, this article appeared in The Constitution.

The [Atlanta] Constitution, 7 Feb 1903

Had it been a college prank? Was it a serious mix-up by a Macon mortuary? The truth never came out in fact or through family lore. After that notice published in 1903, Paul Benson Perkinson actually lived another 40 years until his death in September of 1943.

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of Atlanta newspapers available through,, and the Digital Archives of Georgia.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday's Tips : Have You Heard the News* About William Howard Perkinson?

photo from The [Atlanta] Constitution, 15 March 1891

Sometimes we spend our research time trying to find everything possible about a specific ancestor by using a wide variety of resources. Sometimes, however, it pays to mine a specific resource to see what information you can find concerning any relative or ancestor. By mining, I mean searching within a specific resource for any information related to a specific surname, in my case I searched for "Perkinson" in newspapers. The mining approach has enabled me to find some interesting information about a number of Georgia relatives, thanks to issues of Atlanta newspapers available through,, the Digital Library of Georgia, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of historical newspapers.

I was actually skimming through the 15 March 1891 issue of The [Atlanta] Constitution for information about another relative when seeing the drawing above made me stop and start reading the article on the page. After all, it isn't every day you find a picture of your Great Grandfather in an old newspaper.

The article was part of a multi-page section about Cherokee County, Georgia.(1) The articles highlighted the history, civic leaders, and industries of the towns of Canton and Woodstock, towns that were home to a lot of Perkinsons, and "a section possessing as many God-given attributes as any that distinguish the South".

Captain W H Perkinson, as he was called in the article, was listed among the leading merchants of the town of Woodstock. The article also made reference to his large brick home, built at a cost of $4000, one of the few brick homes in the town. 

Another part of the article provided more information about his business interests. The Alliance Company was founded after the fall of the firm of  Perkinson & Benson, a prior business owned by William Howard Perkinson and a Benson relative. My Great Grandfather was able to gather 100 area farmers together to form this new Alliance Company with over $100,000 in capital, quite a sum for 1891. The company, at the time of the article, had already purchased a barn and converted it into a cotton seed oil mill and a fertilizer factory.

An older issue of The Constitution provided a short article describing a fire in Woodstock that destroyed several buildings in the business area in 1886.(2) A storehouse and a frame building were both destroyed, including about $1000 of inventory stored in the buildings for businesses owned by my Great Grandfather. Fortunately, his primary inventory in another building was covered by his insurance.

In the spring of 1891, William Howard Perkinson was a delegate to a World's Fair assembly held in Atlanta.(3) The purpose of this assembly was to decide upon an exhibit for the state of Georgia to build for the 1893 Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago. The group meeting together consisted of, in the words of Gov. Northern, "the best men in the state". The next year his wife, Louella Dean Perkinson, was named by the governor to serve on the Women's Work Committee in conjunction with planning for the women's exhibit at the Exposition.(4)

William Howard Perkinson, in addition to his business interests, was also extensively involved in farming. For a number of years, he served as a Vice President of the Georgia Agricultural Association, representing the ninth district.(5) 

Great Grandfather Perkinson was involved with the temperance movement. An article about the 1865 state convention of the International Organization of Good Templars related that W H Perkinson had been elected in its slate of officers for the next year.(6) He was also an active member of the Baptist Church, serving in 1883 as the first president of the Sunday School Association in the area.(7)

Capt Perkinson was also active politically in both state and congressional conventions.  In the 1880s, he was active in the Democratic Party, serving as the Cherokee County party chairman. He was also selected to be a representative to the 1882 state congressional convention of the Democratic Party.(8) However, by 1892, he had become involved in a third party movement which nominated him to run for the US Senate.(9) It was apparently an unsuccessful run as I unable to find anything further about the campaign or the ensuing election.

This mining approach to area newspapers yielded a wide variety of family information. Gathering this information involved looking at over 150 newspaper articles. But it was worth it to weed through society announcements, articles about unrelated Perkinsons, and numerous legal notices to gain a richer picture of William Howard Perkinson. Through the articles, I learned more about him as a person, his business interests, and his involvement in local politics. Besides some isolated facts that I recorded in Family Tree Maker, I also discovered other nuggets of Perkinson information that I will be sharing in future posts. 

Which family name shall I mine next?

* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of Atlanta newspapers available through,, the Digital Archives of Georgia, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of historical newspapers.

(1) Blackworth, B M, "Cherokee County, the Heart of a Great Agricultural Section", The Constitution, Atlanta, 15 March 1891, p 4-5; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.
(2) "Fire in Woodstock", The Constitution, Atlanta, 30 Dec 1886, p 2; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.
(3) "For the World's Fair", The Constitution, Atlanta, 5 May 1891, p 7; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.
(4) "The World's Fair", The Constitution, Atlanta, 22 Apr 1892, p 7; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.
(5) "The Georgia Farmers, The Weekly Constitution, Atlanta, 19 Aug 1884, p 9; accessed through Digital Library of Georgia; content source Atlanta Historical Newspapers Collection.
(6) "Grand Lodge, I.O.G.T.", Sunny South, Atlanta, 16 Oct 1875, p 6; accessed through Digital Library of Georgia; content source Atlanta Historical Newspapers Collection.
(7) "The Sunday School Association", The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, 10 May 1883; accessed through
(8) "The Popular Vote", The Constitution, Atlanta, 6 Jul 1882, p 1; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.
(9) "Third Party Convention", The Constitution, Atlanta, 31 May 1892, p 1; accessed through, content source Allen County Public Library.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Workday Wednesday : Scientist

By U.S. Department of Energy ( [Public domain]
 via Wikimedia Commons

One of the unexpected pleasures of researching your family history is coming across an individual who played a part in history. I was simply looking for birth, marriage, and death records for some first cousins, once removed, the children of my grandfather’s siblings. My research led me to a learn more about a noted scientist in our family, Jesse Dean Perkinson, Jr.

Jesse was born in Tennessee, the son of a railroad conductor and a teacher. He was listed as a student in both the 1920 and 1940 federal censuses. Thanks to the abbreviated curriculum vitae I found in a conference report, I learned about Jesse’s education.(1)  After receiving his BS from the University of Tennessee, he later earned a PhD in biochemistry in 1943 at the University of Rochester.

 From the late 1940s to 1952, Jesse, now Dr. Perkinson, was a senior research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.(1) Late, he was affiliated with the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis, Tennessee where he was worked in the area of cancer research.(2)

In 1957, Jesse was tapped to be the head of the Education and Training Branch of the Division of International Affairs of the Atomic Energy Commission.(3) Through this position, he was involved in helping other countries explore the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Dr. Jesse Perkinson, after two years with the AEC, joined the Pan American Union as Chief of Science Development. He continued to work in this capacity for a number of years even after this entity became known as the Organization of American States.  The website of the John F Kennedy Presidential Library includes several photos showing Jesse meeting with President Kennedy during his tenure with the Pan American Union.

Learning more about Jesse Dean Perkinson, Jr, lead me to examine a number of collegiate and scientific journals. My favorite reference to Jesse was in a calendar of upcoming events at Walla Walla College in 1969. The listing referred to Jesse as the person ... “who implemented the Eisenhower Atoms for Peace plan … an authority on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and … presently chairman of the American Inter-Nuclear Committee.”(4)

One individual, working at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, involved in Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Plan, head of a Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, a scientific leader in the Pan American Union and the Organization of American States. Quite a brush with history, a veritable twentieth-century history lesson as seen through the life of one person, Dr. Jesse Dean Perkinson, Jr.

(1)   Mason, Henry Lea Herbert Steffen Peiser. Metrology and Standardization in Less-developed Countries: The Role of a National Capability for Industrializing Economies; Proceedings of a Seminar Held at Airlie House, Warrenton, Virginia, February 1-4, 1971. : National Bureau of Standards, 1971. Digital images. GoogleBooks. : 2015.
(2)   “U-T Awarded $4000 By Cancer Society”, Rogersville Review, 19 Apr 1954; digital images, (, accessed 3 Jun 2015).
(3)   “50 Years Ago”, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4 Aug 2007; online archives (, accessed 3 Jun 2015).
(4)   “Walla Walla College", North Pacific Gleaner, 15 Sept 1969; digital images, Adventist Archives (, accessed 3 Jun 2015.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Workday Wednesday : Nursing *

It was the mid-1930s, still a difficult time for many people to find a job. After holding several positions as a nanny or a housekeeper, my mother decided to attend nursing school in hopes of finding a more promising career. Through the assistance of a relative, she was able to attend the nursing school affiliated with St Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. The picture above shows my mother as a nursing student relaxing in the garden area of the hospital.

This turned out to be a wise career choice for my mother. She secured a nursing position immediately upon graduation. After she and my father married, she was always able to find work as a nurse wherever his military assignments took him. Sometimes she worked as a nurse anesthetist, other times as a hospital floor nurse. Later, as a mother with young children, she worked one day each week as "the shot lady", giving childhood immunizations at the local health department. Other times she did private duty nursing for critical care patients as well as volunteering to help with Red Cross Blood Drives.

Although my mother later held other jobs outside of the nursing field, she proudly kept her nursing pin and her diploma from St Thomas tucked in a drawer along with the pin indicating she was a registered nurse. She looked back at these years of service and friendships she formed as special times in her life.

* This is one in a series of old family photos showing my ancestors at work.