Thursday, September 24, 2015

Those Places Thursday : Resaca Confederate Cemetery

The Resaca Confederate Cemetery is not like the huge military cemeteries I had visited before. Hundreds or thousands of white crosses placed in straight lines. Names or numbers on each cross or marker. Instead, this cemetery is a small, quiet place located just a few miles off I-75 in Georgia about midway between Atlanta and Chattanooga. There is no sign at the exit to let passersby even be aware of its existence. It is also the place where I found a story, just not one I had expected to find.

During a recent trip to Georgia, my husband and I made a short visit to the cemetery. It was a familiar place to my husband; after all, he had told me about his walking around the cemetery grounds to gather information for a high school project years ago. Plus, a brother-in-law had mentioned that their grandmother had relatives buried there. A beautiful day provided us with a good opportunity to visit the Resaca Confederate Cemetery.

The cemetery itself is small and covers less than three acres. The picture above shows almost all of the cemetery's property. Resaca Confederate Cemetery contains less than 600 graves, a combination of short upright markers, flat ground level markers, and a few more ornate monuments. Fewer than 150 are marked with a name, initials, or any personal information. The remainder of the graves, 424 of them, have only simple markers to the unknown Confederate soldiers who were buried there.(1)  Today small Confederate flags or single artificial flowers decorate most of the graves of the unknowns.

Signs on the archway to the cemetery and inside the cemetery tell the story of what may have been the first confederate cemetery in the country. The cemetery is located on property that once belonged to the Green family. Following the Battle of Resaca, the family returned to their home and found that some of the soldiers killed in the battle had been buried on their family property. One of the family's daughters, Mary J Green, helped by a sister, buried two more soldiers there. Later Mary Green, with the assistance of others, moved the make-shift burials into a flower garden near their home. Green then started a move to honor these soldiers with a proper burial in an actual cemetery. Her efforts involved letter writing and fund raising, all with the goal of establishing an official cemetery for the soldiers buried on the family property. In 1866, Mary's father, Col. Green, gave her two and a half acres to be used for a cemetery. The property became where the bodies were finally laid to rest in an orderly arrangement in an actual cemetery. The cemetery was officially dedicated on 25 Oct 1866.(2)

Posted on the information board at the entrance to the cemetery are lists of the known soldiers buried there. I took pictures of the lists and once back home, tried to see if I could find the names of any of my husband's relatives. FindAGrave has 141 interments listed for the cemetery, a few more names than are posted at the cemetery, but no names listed were those of relatives.

I searched through the Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865 which I have in my Civil War Collection on HaithiTrust. I was able to use their "find in text" feature to look for "Resaca" information. The roster provided information concerning soldiers wounded in the Battle of Resaca, those transferred to the field hospital in the Resaca, and some listed as being buried at Resaca. Although I did find a few new names listed in the rosters as having been buried at Resaca, I was not able to find any relative's name using that resource. Perhaps the relatives who may be buried at the Resaca Confederate Cemetery are among the 424 unknown soldiers.

This genealogy trip did not lead me to any new family links. What I did find, however, was the story of Mary J Green. Her desire to honor the dead and provide a proper burial for them shows how one person's efforts can make a difference for many others. That's a story worth celebrating.

(1) "Resaca Confederate Cemetery",
(2) "Honoring the Fallen", The Civil War in Georgia,

Friday, September 18, 2015

Is That Albert Peeping Through a Crack in the Brick Wall?

Albert Bell Vaughan Jr
My Great Grandfather, Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr, is someone about whom a lot has been written. Several articles written about this Baptist minister mention how he had been apprenticed as a painter in Jackson, Tennessee in the early 1870s.(1) His early stint as a painter had fascinated me. He left this occupation after just a few years then attended college and became a full-time minister, educator, and college president. Talk about a career change.

I had been trying for some time to learn more about the "painter years", especially since he seemed to have vanished during the 1870 federal census. He wasn't listed as living with his family, nor could I find him living on his own. Articles sometimes mentioned that he lived in Jackson, Tennessee during this time in his life, but no Albert Vaughan seemed to be listed in an 1870 Tennessee census record.

Recently I tried a slightly different search technique in's 1870 census records. Instead of searching for his last name, Vaughan/Vaughn, I just searched using his first name of Albert, his birth year, and the Georgia birthplace, no surname. I filtered the search to view only Tennessee records.

1870 Federal Census, Jackson, Madison, Tennessee, accessed through

Eureka! I finally found a possible Albert Vaughan in the 1870 Tennessee census. Granted the census record I found listed an "A Vann" rather than Albert Vaughan, but the age, occupation, and birthplace agree with my Albert Vaughan. He was living in the household of another painter, a circumstance that was quite probable for a young apprentice, and he was living in Jackson, Tennessee.

So now, I have a possible 1870 census record for 18-year-old Albert, the apprentice painter. One possible answer had lead to several new questions. Who in the world were the Huddlestons? They were about the same age of Albert's parents, Albert Bell Vaughan, Sr and Charlotte Slade Vaughan. Could M Huddleston have been a relative or at least a close friend of either Albert Sr or Charlotte? And what about Mary Huddleston? She was the age of Albert Jr's grandparents. Could she have been a relative of Albert Jr's?  I keep wondering if there might be some family connection. After all, it is hard to imagine sending a teenager several hundred miles away to live with strangers. Surely, there were other painters living closer to the family in Georgia with whom Albert could learn the painting trade.

I'm calling this census record only a crack in the wall, not a wall buster. After all, one line of census information is already leading me to more questions about Albert and this period in his life. The questions don't end, but then that's a reason researching our families can be so interesting.

(1) Memoirs of Georgia: Containing Historical Accounts of the State's Civil, Military, Industrial, and Professional Interests and Personal Sketches of Many of Its People, vol. 2. Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1895. accessed through Google Books.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Rest of the Story : Samuel G Slade's Children and His Estate

Gordon Institute, 1887 Catalog
source: Gordon State College web site

Sometimes timing is everything. Right after I wrote about the unfortunate events in the life of my 3rd Great Uncle, Samuel G Slade, I had the chance to learn more about things following his death. had just released thousands of will and probate records on its website, so I had to see what I could find there. The same records had already been available through, but now they were indexed on

Soon I found myself using "a second pair of eyes" by also browsing through the same collection of records on, readable page by page but without any index. This allowed me to find some additional information that did not show in Ancestry's index of the records. I'm putting all the information together chronologically to show what happened in the Slade family in the years following Samuel G's death.

Samuel G Slade had died on 28 February 1880. By 2 March 1880, six men from Pike County applied to the court for letters to administer his estate.(1) The application indicated that Samuel G had died intestate, and the gentleman agreed to relinquish their letters of administration should a will be found prior to the settling of his estate. Later through FamilySearch I found that the Ordinary of Pike county had appointed Thomas Barrett from this group of six gentlemen as the temporary administrator of the estate until the official executor could be determined.(2) This was probably the same Thomas J Barrett who was married to Minerva Ann Slade, one of Samuel G Slade's sisters.

On 5 April 1880, one month later, James W Means also applied for letters of administration for Samuel G's estate.(2) Browsing through the pages, I could not find that the original group of administrators had been dismissed, but all future records showed only James W Means as the executor of the estate. Incidentally, this same James W Means was later the ordinary of Pike County so I had lots of opportunities to see his name on probate documents.

Sometime that same day, 5 April 1880, James W Means applied for legal guardianship of fourteen-year-old Ella Slade.(3) It was almost four years later that James W Means applied for the guardianship of her siblings J C, John Edward, and Annie.(3) All the children were listed as being the wards of James W Means in the 1880 census, but for some unknown reason, there was not no legal document awarding guardianship for the other three children until 1884.

As required by law, James W Means had to file annual reports of his expenses in the settling of Samuel G Slade's estate.(4) The annual report for 1880-1881 alone covered 16 pages. It provided details about the physical care of the children, the management of the Slade farm, and insight into life in the early 1880s. His report made for some interesting reading.

Return on behalf of children of Samuel G Slade filed 1 Apr 1881
School supplies and personal items for Edward Slade, 1885.

Means apparently was paid room and board for all four children. Records also show that he sent spending money to Ella when she was away at school. Another section of the report listed expense vouchers for additional purchases, things like a boy's suit, four collars, and two collar buttons; payments to a dealer in millinery and fine goods; the purchase of fabric, thread, and needles; new shoes; and a long list of school supplies - paper, ink, tablets, and books. Other vouchers were presented for dental work and medicine for the children.

From the vouchers, I also learned that the four children attended school. The oldest child Ella attended Wesleyan Female Institute in Staunton, Virginia, and her brothers and younger sister were students at Gordon Institute near the Means' home in Barnesville, Georgia.

Management of the Slade farm and mill seemed to be an ongoing operation for Mr. Means. Vouchers showed purchasing seeds and fertilizer, agreements to sell cotton, buying tools and necessary farm equipment as well as paying those who worked on the farm and at the mill. And then there were the notes for money borrowed by Samuel G Slade prior to his death, notes which James W Means paid from the farm income. A touching note was to see voucher #50, the payment for fixing the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Slade and a child.

Appraisers submitted their evaluation of Samuel G Slade's estate in May of 1880, giving the total estate a value of $12,347.81.(5) A year later, in May of 1881 the appraisers awarded $1000 from the estate for a year's support of the children and authorized the use of a number of pieces of furniture by the Slade children.(5)

The Slade children continued under the guardianship of James W Means until each was of legal age. As guardian, he submitted an annual report to the Pike County Ordinary for each child as well as a report covering expenses related to the farm and mill. It struck me as interesting that each of the four Slade children was already married at the time his or her legal guardianship was dissolved with Mr. Means. Documents in which the guardianship was dismissed seemed to match the times when J C, Edward, and sister Annie each turned 21.(6) For some unknown reason, his guardianship of Ella was not concluded until she turned 25. By the time the guardianships had been dismissed, all four children were adults, with their own families and their own lives.

Lessons Learned (and relearned): There is no substitute for looking at original documents or their readable copies. It is one thing to know that James W Means was the children's guardian and the executor of Samuel G Slade's estate. It is quite another thing to see pages that show the extent to which James W Means was involved in the lives of the Slade children or on their behalf for so many years.

Taking the time during this research to become more familiar with the Ancestry indexing and with the variety of records available through FamilySearch will prove useful whenever I use the same records to learn more about other relatives. I gained some skill in using the various indices within a volume and then skimming over documents to find the phrase "administer the goods, chattel, and credit of -------- -------- late of this county deceased" to locate the probate records for a specific individual. I also learned to look at additional pages in the book because sometimes notes concerning one estate were written on the back of the documents for another person.

Now I have a list of other names to search in the Pike County, Georgia records. Then a list for Jones County followed by a list for Monroe County, and that's just for researching my Slade ancestors. And then ...

(1) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992. Pike County Administrators Bonds 1829-1962; accessed through
(2) Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990. Pike County Administrators Bonds 1829-1897; accessed through
(3) Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992. Pike County Guardians Bonds 1829-1955; accessed through
(4) Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990. Pike County Returns 1878-1882 vol P; accessed through
(5) Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990. Pike County Inventories and Returns 1861-1883 vol BA; accessed through
(6) Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990. Pike County Letters of Dismission, 1881-1962; accessed through

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bits and Pieces* : What's In Your Proof Box?

By Lidingo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week our local genealogy society had an interesting program concerning ways to organize our genealogy and research materials.  The speaker had a number of helpful suggestions, many coming back to one point -- "organize the way you think, otherwise, it won't make sense to you".  She mentioned organizing materials by surname, by location, or by topic. Then she mentioned a new-to-me term, a Proof Box.

She spoke of keeping certain things in our Proof Box, those things that cannot be replaced or would be extremely difficult to replicate. This is the box, container, or maybe a briefcase that we grab and take, along with our personal and financial papers, if we have to quickly evacuate our home. The speaker mentioned some of the contents in her Proof Box, things such as the original marriage certificates of ancestors and an important letter written by another ancestor. Precious treasures that are also proof of genealogical facts.

This is an idea I'm starting to mull over. I think another good item to include in my Proof Box will be the jump drive backup of my genealogy software and my genealogy software itself. One document that I may include is the Variety Book (diary) written by my Great Aunt Miriam Vaughan. I previously have written about Miriam's book and how it detailed family relationships and a year in the life of my aunt. I will probably include my mother's citizenship papers since she had held dual citizenship for a number of years. The envelope of paperwork includes correspondence with two different consulates, cites federal statutes, and includes a letter concerning the status of her then unborn child - me.

Having a small Proof Box or case is definitely food for thought and a prod for action.  What should be in your Proof Box?

* A series of quick looks at new genealogical ideas, resources, or techniques.