Thursday, August 27, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday : That Old Red Notebook

Never judge a book by its cover, even if it is just an old Blue Horse Class Notebook with a 25 cent price printed on it. Recently, I was loaned the notebook pictured above. It was a remnant of the contents from the home of a deceased relative. Somehow it was one of those things left behind, something no one seemed to want, and I had the chance to browse through it.

The first few pages of the notebook were blank, but then it was like opening a treasure box. That red spiral notebook turned out to be a handwritten book of basic Whittemore family information. Ancestors. Children's names. Marriages. Birth and death dates. All stuff worth noting and checking to see that it was recorded in my copy of Family Tree Maker. I even looked through Evidence Explained as I tried to construct a source citation for the notebook.

The real surprise was seeing that parts of the notebook were written in first person, "my Grandmother Parthenia", "my Mother and Father". My favorite note was the statement that "if they [relatives living elsewhere] are still there, I am going to get in touch with them". Several times the writer seemed to add information at a later date, evidenced by a change in ink color, arrows, or relationship notes. And like any notebook, there were things written on the back of a page or on a scrap of paper placed between pages.

The notebook also mentioned a long-standing brick wall concerning a Whittemore brother who apparently left home in the mid-1800s, and the family "never heard of him any more after he left". All of this has given me a real connection with the writer, my husband's Great Aunt, about whom I had previously only heard of her sweet, gentle nature. Now I feel she was a kindred genealogy spirit.

The information in the notebook appears to have been the foundation for a family tree drawn years ago by two of the writer's sons. My photocopy of the notebook will now share the folder with my copy of that family tree. Because of the notebook, we now have an idea as to how the information in the family tree may have been gathered. I'm just glad that old red notebook wasn't tossed into a trash can, and that it can continue to share family information.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sometimes Life is Just Hard ...

Samuel Bernard Slade, infant son of S G and F C Slade,
findagrave memorial #119440666; photo by Lisa G

Some relatives are just plain fun to research; they draw you by their interesting lives or exciting adventures. Sometimes, though, a relative will grab my attention for other reasons. Samuel G Slade, my third great uncle, is one of the later. I first came across him while searching for military records for the Georgia Slades. Each new thing I learned about Samuel G and his hard life kept me digging to learn more about him.

Samuel G was the youngest of the 11 children of my third Great Grandparents, Samuel Slade and Chloe Harrison. He was born and raised in central Georgia. At the age of 19, Samuel G and his bride Mary C Smith were living with his parents at the time of the 1860 census. It looked like a bright future for the young couple. However, according to information on the Slade Genealogy website, Mary Smith Slade died early in their marriage, and the couple did not have any children.

In July 1861, Samuel G joined other men from Pike County, Georgia, when he enlisted to serve in Company A, 13th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, CSA.(1)  During the Battle of Monocracy in July of 1864, Samuel's leg was wounded such that it had to be amputated below the knee. After his capture by Union forces at the Battle of Monocracy, he was sent to the Military Prison at Hampton, Virginia, then involved in a prisoner exchange later that summer.(2) By February of 1865, now back with the 13th Georgia, Samuel was placed on extended medical furlough.

Samuel G Slade, record of diagnosis, 22 Aug 1864 (2)
Apparently Samuel G was in Georgia long enough to marry Fannie Coker in January of 1865.(3) By the 1870 census, Samuel G and Fannie had three children with two more born in the 1870s. Things seemed to be looking up for Samuel G and Fannie.

The couple's seemingly peaceful life started a downward slide in September of 1878 when their year-year-old son, Samuel B, died.(4)  Several unsourced online family trees mention that a second son also died during that period. Then, about a year later, Fannie Coker Slade passed away due to a fever.(5) In November of 1879, Samuel G was a widower, left to raise four children, all under the age of 13.

Samuel G Slade, application for payment for limb

Although Samuel G's leg had been amputated during the Civil War, he had not received an artificial limb or military pension from the government. About a month after his wife's death. Samuel G applied to the state of Georgia for a $75 payment for a leg.(6) Samuel G's file contains only this application and one supporting form attesting to his condition. Nothing more. His file was in all likelihood closed soon after it had been opened. In February of 1880, Samuel G Slade died. The cause of death listed on the 1880 Federal Mortality Schedule was suicide.(4)  Not yet 40 years of age, Samuel G had lost two wives and at least one young child, as well as having a lasting disability from his war injury; apparently he must have felt that life was just too hard to continue.

The impact of these events has caused me to spend some time researching the lives of Samuel G's four surviving children. They were first cousins, three times removed, not close enough to ordinarily be a high research priority, but as a mother and a teacher I've found myself wanting to know more about them. What would life hold for these children who had known such upheaval in their lives, losing a brother (or two), their mother, and their father, all in less than a two-year time span?

Thankfully, there were some bright spots in the adult lives of the Slade children. Within a few months of their father's death, all four children were living with the James W Means family in Pike County.(7) They were listed in the 1880 census as Mr. Means' wards so apparently they were all together, in a home with food and, hopefully, care and attention. This also probably meant that neither 14-year-old Ella or 12-year-old J C Slade was put in the position of having to raise the younger siblings while themselves still children.

One of the Slade boys became a teacher, a school board trustee, and even served as the county Sheriff. Another Slade brother went in the lumber business. Both of the sisters married and had families of their own. Life did go on for the Slade children, sometimes for the better. At times, life is just hard for an individual or within a family. And sometimes a spark or concerned individuals can help people not just endure but perhaps even thrive.

(1) Henderson, Lillian, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, vol. 2, Hapeville, GA: Longrine & Porter, 1959-1964; accessed through
(2) "Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Georgia", packet for Samuel G / S G Slade; accessed through
(3) Slade-Harrison Family Bible, transcription and provenance posted on
(4) "Samuel Bernard Slade", FindAGrave memorial #119440666; citing Ebenezer United Methodist Church Cemetery, Lamar County, Georgia; memorial page and photo by Lisa G provide information.
(5) 1880 Federal Mortality Schedule, Georgia, Pike County, District 551; accessed through
(6) Georgia. Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office RG 58-1-1, "Samuel G Slade". accessed through Georgia Virtual Vault.
(7) 1880 Federal Census, Georgia, Pike County, Zebulon; accessed through

Saturday, August 15, 2015

No Need to Stop Fueling the Find

Earlier today I logged into FamilySearch Indexing and received a message that the 2015 "Fuel the Find" worldwide indexing event was over. The week-long event had ended somewhat short of its goal of having 100,000 volunteers indexing records. The good news, though, was that millions of records had been indexed, and these records will soon to be available for searching on FamilySearch, free, no subscription needed, throughout the world.

I've been involved with indexing for FamilySearch for a number of years. The first batch of records that I downloaded for transcription was a collection of school records from Victorian England. Here were lists of little girls with names like Lily, Rose, Iris, Daisy, Pansy, all being enrolled in school. I was hooked as a transcriber.

Admittedly, I transcribe sporadically. Sometimes it is for special push events like "Fuel the Find". Other times I'll transcribe for a while when I've hit a brick wall or otherwise just need a break from my ongoing research. And sometimes it is a way to pay back after I've found some unexpected information on Family Search since some volunteer some time had transcribed the data I was now finding useful.

The real news is that while "Fuel the Find" is over for this year, indexing and transcription needs are never over. There are always new records just waiting for someone to transcribe so that someone else can finally get the answer s/he is needing. It is simple to do. FamilySearch has complete information here including a short video on the indexing process and a "test drive" showing how to index an individual record.

I enjoyed Robin Foster's post, Fueling My Own Finds While Indexing. What an inspiration for all of us to be involved in the simple act of indexing, helping to fuel someone else's find, or maybe even our own.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Have You Heard the News* About the Rev. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.?

the Reverend Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.
photo in personal collection

My GreatGrandfather Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. spent most of his life preaching the gospel. He preached in Baptist churches in both Georgia and Texas, to large and small congregations, and I grew up hearing many stories about this learned, respected minister. Still, I was able to learn more about him through my newspaper research.

As a college student in 1878, he presented a speech concerning the future of college students at his graduation from Mercer University.(1) In a little over twenty-five years, his oratorical skills lead him to be named to preach the main sermon at the Georgia Baptist Convention of 1905.(2)

One fascinating article was basically a testimonial Rev. Vaughan gave concerning the success of his eye surgery which had been performed by an Atlanta oculist. It read like a news article but in actuality seemed to be more like an ad for the surgery.(3) It was touching, though, to read how the surgery enabled him to then be able to read the New Testament in Greek. You can't help but be impressed by that!

Another interesting article related how Rev. Vaughan visited a young man in jail who had been accused of murder. Following a visit in jail from the Rev. Vaughan, the young man broke down and confessed to the crime he had committed.(4)

I was surprised to read how my GreatGrandfather, the minister of the Baptist churches in both Canton and Woodstock, Georgia, at the time, was also involved in local politics. At a meeting in 1892, Rev. Vaughan was the individual who proposed the slate of candidates to be endorsed by the county's Democratic Party.(5)

News of some of his church pastorates appeared in the Atlanta newspaper. Apparently the local church would have what amounted to an annual reelection of its pastor as when A. B. Vaughan was reelected to pastor the Baptist Church of Canton in 1900.(6) This information, interestingly enough, followed information about cases heard in Superior County Court the previous week and before news of the new telegraph operator for the railroad station in Canton. There were several short articles relating how Rev. Vaughan had turned down the opportunity to become the pastor of other churches.

My favorite article appeared in the fall of 1899. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. had been the minister at Canton [Georgia] Baptist Church for 13 years. However, in 1898 a schism divided the congregation over some unspecified issues. (I would love to have found an article about which happened, but there was no word in the paper about the situation in the church.) When he was not able to unify the congregation, Rev. Vaughan left the Canton church and moved to Nacogdoches, Texas to serve a church there. His daughter Miriam wrote of the family's year in Texas in her private diary. After a year, the church in Canton, Georgia, asked Rev. Vaughan to return. He accepted their offer, resulting in this article in The [Atlanta] Constitution.(7) After he returned to the Canton church, he never left the state of Georgia again, only serving Georgia churches until his death.

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

(1) "Mercer University Commencement Day", The Daily Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 6 Jul 1878, accessed
(3) "A Canton Clergyman Has Remarkable Experience in Atlanta", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 16 Dec 1894, p 27; accessed
(4) "Willis" Confession", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 2 May 1896, p 3. accessed
(5) "The Democrats of Cherokee". The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 8 Jun 1892,p 2, accessed
(6) "Was Very Hard Week's Work", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 16 Sep 1900, p 8; accessed
(7) "Canton Baptists Are Happy", The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 2 Dec 1899, p 3; accessed