It’s time for from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings.

Randy presents as your mission, should you decide to accept it:

1) Decide which of your (many?) genealogy research adventures in 2011 was your “very best” (your definition).

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a Status report or comment on Facebook, or in a Stream note on Google Plus.

Here’s mine:

My very best genealogy research adventure for 2011 was finding the final division of slaves in the probate records for the estate of Edward Mobley who died in 1839 in Chester District, SC.  I discovered early in my research that my 2nd great grandfather, Miles, was a slave in the Taliaferro family in DeKalb and Fulton County Georgia, but until last year I did not have a paper trail to document what I knew from circumstantial evidence to be true.  Thanks to the amazing records on I found the documentation I had long searched for – that Miles was one of the slaves allotted to Susan Mobley Taliaferro the daughter of Edward Mobley. Wait! There’s more.  I also discovered two very promising candidates for my 2nd great grandmother Lizzie in that same document. It was a research-altering discovery.  You can read about this research triumph in my earlier post “Lizzie Taliaferro, My 2nd Great Grandmother. Have I Found Her?

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Wishing you good health, love, peace and happiness in the new year.  

From my family to yours.

 Happy New Year!

Category: Holidays  

Lizzie Taliaferro, My 2nd Great Grandmother. Have I found her?

In November 2009, I wrote about my 2nd great grandmother, Lizzie Taliaferro.  You can read that post .  As I stated there, Lizzie was the mother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro. I know nothing about her except that she was born in either Georgia or South Carolina, and that she was sold away or died prior to 1856.  The chances of finding any additional information on Lizzie were slim and I had pretty much given up.  I am learning more and more along this genealogy journey that you should never give up hope.

Background

As I am writing this post, it occurred to me that I need to give a little background before I proceed. Thinking about that, I realized that I have accomplished another research goal that I had not shared or written about and this needed to be talked about in order to properly lay out my case for finding Lizzie.

My 2nd great grandfather Miles Taliaferro and his son John Wesley Taliaferro were slaves of Richard Taliaferro and his son Edward Mobley Taliaferro of Fulton County Georgia.  Richard was married to Susan Mobley and her father was Edward Mobley of Chester, South Carolina.  I won’t go into the details here, but through my research I can document that a slave named Miles was owned by Edward Mobley at the time of his death in 1839.  I can also document that a slave named Miles was owned by the Richard Taliaferro family here in Georgia in 1856, and that the family had a direct relationship to Edward Mobley – his daughter Susan.  Based on those facts, I speculated that Susan Taliaferro had received Miles in the final division of her father’s estate.  But, I did not have a paper trail to document this because there was no final division of slaves in the estate packet for Edward Mobley that I received from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH).  I emailed the Archives requesting any other records for the estate of Edward Mobley, but was told there were none. There were some loose paper files, but I would need to come to the Archives and search them myself.  Short of taking a research trip to South Carolina to search the records for myself, I had hit a brick wall.

I knew in my heart that the “Miles” in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will and the Miles in the 1856 inventory and appraisement of the estate of Richard Taliaferro was the same person; the same Miles living near Edward Taliaferro in the 1870 and 1880 census.  I just had this feeling I was right. But, feelings are not proof and that’s what I needed – proof.

The paper trail for Miles leads to finding Lizzie.  Maybe.

Earlier this year I was elated to read that had online digital images of South Carolina estate records. This was my opportunity to search for more estate records for Edward Mobley. After searching for less than an hour, I hit the jackpot! The documents in the estate packet that I received from the SCDAH were there, but there were also other records that were not included in the estate packet, including a final division of slaves. This was just what I needed to prove and document that Miles was one of the slaves received by Susan Taliaferro.  Here is the list of “Slaves Allotted to Susan Taliaferro” (click to enlarge):

Source: South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1731-1964, Chester, Probate Court, Files 1788-1866, Apartments 049-050, Packages 776-813, Estate of Edward Mobley, Images 159-203, (digital image, Family Search,   :assessed 12 May 2011).

There he is on the next to last line “Miles 775”. I was so excited. But, wait!!  Listed right next to Miles is “little liz” and then “Elizabeth”. Could one of them be my great, great grandmother Lizzie?  I know very little about equating the appraised value of a slave with their age.  Miles was born about 1824, so at the time of the final division, 31 December 1839, he would have been about 15 years old.  He is appraised at $775.  Little Liz is appraised at $500 and Elizabeth at $300.  It saddens me to think of my ancestors in terms of a dollar amount. It brings tears to my eyes.  It is a very, very uncomfortable feeling.  Unfortunately, it is a necessary element in the analysis as I try to determine an approximate age for Little Liz and Elizabeth to further narrow down which is more likely my Lizzie.  I am thinking that Little Liz was a little younger that Miles and then Elizabeth a bit younger than Little Liz.  Some of the slaves in this group are listed in terms of their relationship to each other.  Could Little Liz and Elizabeth be related?  I ruled that as unlikely since other relationships were indicated.  Hopefully, someone with more knowledge on this subject will comment with their thoughts.   I welcome your input.

Little Liz or Elizabeth – either one of them could be my 2nd great grandmother Lizzie Taliaferro.  Of course I realize it might not be either one.  But, this is probably as close as I’m going to come to finding my great, great grandmother and it’s just too much of a coincidence to ignore.

My 23andMe Results Are In!

In late September, I received a free DNA kit from 23andMe in conjunction with the . Last week, I checked the date my sample was received (October 8th) and assumed it would probably be a few more weeks before I received my results.  Not!! Last night, I opened my email and there it was; a message from 23andMe stating that my results were back.  I was thrilled and quickly logged on to see my results.

My maternal haplogroup is L1c1d.  According to 23andMe, haplogroup L1c originated about 60,000 years ago most likely in western-central Africa and is extremely common among western pygmy populations such as the Biaka and Bakola. Today, this group is particularly common among the forest-dwelling Pygmies and the Bantu-speaking populations of central Africa.

My DNA origins are 80% African, 17% European, and 3% Asian (most likely Native American).

Here is my Ancestry Painting.

 

The majority of my DNA, 80%, is African.  No surprises there.  The 3% percent Asian, athough a very small percentage, is interesting. This most likely represents Native American ancestry; from my reading this DNA test does not distinguish between Asian and Native American. My brother and I were just speculating about my results last week.  There are stories of some Native American ancestry on my paternal side.  We wondered if any of that would be revealed.  According to my brother and cousins, our paternal grandmother always talked about being part Native American. Honestly, the photo of her, posted here, looks European, rather than Native American. On the other hand, the photo of her mother, , lends some credibility to the family stories.  Or, is it possible that 3% could be “noise”.  What the heck is noise???

I am not sure if the 17% European is coming more from my maternal side or if it is from my paternal side.  Could it be both? Again, looking at the picture of my paternal grandmother, it definitely could be coming from my father.  If I understand correctly, the position of the blue color on the chromosome has something to do with which parent that DNA is coming from. I just don’t know.  Someone help me out here – I need a “chromosome reading”!!

This was my first DNA test.  I am excited about the results even though I don’t fully understand them.  I will be doing a lot of reading and research in the days ahead.

In February 2010 I wrote about my ancestor Minnie Toliver and a disturbing incident involving her former employer’s children.  If you missed that post you can read it .  I wondered what happened to Minnie, as did others who read the story. Was Minnie arrested and charged? Did she serve any time?  I had no answers.

In the summer of 2010 I was on the phone with a friend, and wishing I could find out more about what happened to Minnie.  The ancestors must have been listening.  At the time I was browsing through the 1900 census for East Point, GA and there two household down from my great grand uncle Alex Tolliver (Taliaferro) was a Minnie Farley with husband James Farley and children Dave, Ida, Viola, and James.  That was Minnie, I just knew it!  The census indicated that Minnie was the mother of five children, but only four were living in 1900.  Minnie and James (or Genes) were married in 1893. (I recently verified this when I found the marriage license for Genes Farley and Minnie Tolliver on Georgia’s Virtual Vault. They were married 3 August 1893.)  I also found Minnie and Genes in the 1910 census in Hapeville, GA and in the 1920 census in South Bend District. These places are areas that my Taliaferro/Toliver ancestors resided in. The 1910 census list Minnie as the mother of eight children with seven living. The other children shown in census records are Luther, Annie/Anna, Junior, and Minnie Lee.  I have not located the family in the 1930 census.

I was extremely excited when I discovered Minnie in these census records. A lot of questions were answered; I knew she married and had a family, and probably lived a relatively normal life. But, for some reason I could not write about my findings and answer the question so many had asked – Whatever happened to Minnie? I think it was because I still didn’t feel like Minnie’s story was complete.  And it wasn’t, until now….

A few days ago while browsing on Ancestry.com I discovered a newspaper article that tells the rest of Minnie’s story. Minnie was apparently arrested and charged with attempted murder. However, a judge determined that the evidence was “not conclusive” and the case was dismissed.

“The City Court” The Constitution, Atlanta GA, 13 April 1888, p. 13, col. 2; digital images, Ancestry.com (: assessed 3 October 2011).

I will never know what pushed Minnie to such extremes, or if the incident, as told in the newspaper, actually happened that way.  What I do know is that things are not always as black and white as they may seem. What I do know is that my ancestor Minnie Toliver (Taliaferro) survived, got married, and had a family.  What I do know is that I can finally tell the rest of Minnie’s story with a smile on my face.

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National Black Genealogy Summit, October 20-22, 2011, Fort Wayne, IN

 The National Black Genealogy Summit will take place October 20 – 22, 2011 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne is home to one of the nation’s most comprehensive collections of genealogy records, and an excellent source of documents pertaining to Black genealogy in particular. The three-day conference will feature a number of nationally-known genealogy and research experts, and a wide variety of workshops for everyone from beginners to experienced family researchers. The event is sponsored by the Indiana Genealogical Society; the Friends of the Allen County Public Library; and Ancestry.com. For more information, please visit .

March Madness ~ Two New Cousins and A Slave Owner Identified!

March Madness wasn’t just going on in basketball last month. March was a very exciting month for my genealogical research.  Ancestor mojo was in full force!

First, I was contacted by a new cousin who is related through my maternal line.  Esther saw my tree on Ancestry and contacted me through another researcher that we have in common who is also a cousin to Esther and probably to me as well.  

My maternal great, great grandparents were Albert Middlebrooks and Malinda [?] of Woodbury, Meriwether County, GA.  They had a daughter Laura Middlebrooks.  Albert and Malinda also had a son, Alexander “Alex” Middlebrooks who was my great grandfather.  Laura and Alex were siblings. Laura Middlebrooks married Salis Stinson and they had a daughter Leola Stinson.  Leola was Esther’s grandmother.  So, Esther and I have the same great, great grandmother. Yes, I said great, great grandmother, not grandparents.  Therein is the mystery.

Esther’s brother did very extensive research on the family.  According to his research, Malinda’s maiden name was Gill.  I had assumed that Malinda’s maiden name was Guise because that is the name listed on the death certificate for my great grandfather, Alex Middlebrooks.  According to family lore, Malinda was part white (probably by a slave owner) and had a child or children fathered by her Gill slave owner.  We don’t know which child or children, but one could have been Laura.  There are notes in the research that Malinda would go up to “the house” and say things like “here, take it, it ain’t mine no way” referring to her child who was fathered by the slave owner.  Fascinating stuff!!

Esther is full of family stories, and our conversations never fail to release another piece of the puzzle.  I am anxious to visit her and go through those “six big binders” of information that her brother complied during his 30 years of research. 

During our first conversation, I told Esther about my 2011 resolution to find a slave owner for my Middlebrooks line.  So far, that has been a major brick wall.  Recently, I found my great grandfather, Alex Middlebrooks, in the 1880 census for Woodbury, Meriwether County working as a laborer on the farm of R.T. Powell.  His name was enumerated as “Elic Middiebrok”.   I didn’t tell Esther any of this, thinking it could wait for another time. 

I guess the ancestors thought differently because…….

Later that night Esther called me back and said I have something I want to read to you.  She had found it in her brother’s research. Then she read this one sentence… Alex Middlebrooks was a slave on the Powell plantation.  I was speechless. Of course, there is much research to come before I can confirm this statement, but for now all I can say is WOW!!

And then…..

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a lady, Debra, who is a cousin on my paternal side.    

Debra stumbled upon my blog when she googled to find information on Greene County, GA in preparation for an upcoming family reunion.  Debra is responsible for writing up the family history.  Reading my blog, she noticed that we had the same surnames in our tree, Brewer and Lawrence, and that my ancestors, like hers, were also from Greensboro, Greene County, GA.  After a few emails and a phone conversation we easily made the connection.

My grandmother was Fannie Mae Lawrence and her mother was Lessie Brewer.  Lessie’s mother was Fannie Mae Brewer.   Fannie Mae Brewer also had a son Whit Brewer who had a daughter Hester Brewer.   Hester was Debra’s grandmother.  So, Debra and I have the same great, great grandmother – Fannie Mae Brewer.   We were both thrilled to make this connection and quickly arranged to meet.  Debra is just starting her journey into genealogy and her enthusiasm is refreshing. 

Debra was raised by her grandmother, Hester Brewer, and has breathed new life into my Greene County research, and the Brewer line in particular.  A few years ago while researching through some Greene County records at the GA Archives I found court papers concerning a custody battle for a child – Hester Brewer.   Along with Hester, the other parties involved were Fannie Brewer and Whit Brewer. My focus was on something else at the time, so I made copies of the papers and filed them away for another day when I could examine them more closely.  Of course, I never got back to them and they remained in that file until a few weeks ago when I met with Debra.  She was thrilled to receive this piece of history about her grandmother.  Debra had heard bits and pieces of the story, but the court papers pulled it all together.   What a great story to begin her family history!

As Debra and I have discovered, it seems the ancestors have been working their mojo in our family for years through the generations.  Follow along….Debra’s grandmother, Hester Brewer, was raised in the household with my grandmother, Fannie Mae Lawrence, whose mother, Lessie Brewer, was Hester’s aunt.  Debra has an Aunt Ruth –Hester’s daughter.  I have an Aunt Ruth – Fannie Mae’s daughter. Debra’s Aunt Ruth was told that she is named after my Aunt Ruth.  It gets better.  Follow along….I have a cousin Zelphyr.  Debra has a cousin Betty (who would be my cousin as well).  Betty has a daughter, Zelphyr.  Debra’s cousin Betty named her daughter after someone she worked with whose name was Zelphyr.  Betty and this Zelphyr became really good friends, so she named her daughter after that friend.  As it turns out, that friend, Zelphyr, is also MY cousin Zelphyr!  They were coworkers who became good friends, and never knew they were also cousins.  As it turns out….We are all COUSINS!!

The Maiden Name of Pleasant LAWRENCE, Wife of James “Jim” LAWRENCE

My paternal grandmother was Fannie Mae LAWRENCE. Her father was George Lawrence, and his parents were James and Pleasant Lawrence. They are all from Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. I did not know the maiden name for Pleasant. Given that I am researching the LAWRENCE line “in the blind” so to speak with no prior knowledge of anyone and no living relative to assist, I am piecing things together as I go.

 In the 1880 census for Greensboro, Greene Co., Rebecca TURNER, born about 1805 in Virginia, is listed as the mother for head of household James LAURENCE. This same census lists wife Pleasant as being born in Virginia also. So, being persuaded by another researcher that the census taker did not take the time to write mother-in-law for relationship to head of household, I recorded Rebecca as the mother of Pleasant, and therefore, Pleasant’s maiden name as TURNER. A recent discovery has proven this to be incorrect. Honestly, I was never really comfortable with making Rebecca the mother of Pleasant; it just did not feel right to me. But, the logic of the other researcher won the argument.

 Something, or rather someone, spoke to my spirit and told me to look closer at the children of James and Pleasant for clues. I had discovered early in my research that Nellie LAWRENCE, daughter of James and Pleasant, had married a Robert WHITEHEAD. I decided to go to Georgia’s Virtual Vault and look for a death certificate for Nellie Whitehead.  Bingo!

 Nellie died 22 June 1925, in Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia. 1  The informant on her death certificate was her husband Robert WHITEHEAD. Nellie’s parents were listed as James LAWRENCE and Pleasant LITTLE, both born in Greene Co. So, Pleasant’s maiden name was LITTLE. I have looked at a lot of census records for Greene County, but I don’t recall that particular surname. Now I need to look more closely.

Now that I can document a maiden name for Pleasant, I need to revisit Rebecca TURNER.

 I believe, as the census indicates, that Rebecca TURNER is the mother of James LAWRENCE. If I can find a death certificate for James maybe it will confirm my theory.  Stay tuned.

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  1. Nellie Whitehead, death certificate #1546, Death Certificates, Vital Records, Public Health, RG 26-5-95, Georgia Archives; digital image, Georgia’s Virtual Vault, Georgia Death Certificates, 1919-1927 ().

My cousin Peggy and I connected online in May 2007 through Ancestry.com.  According to Ancestry’s relationship calculator, Peggy is my 2nd cousin 1x removed.  My maternal great grandmother, Sudie Parks, and Peggy’s grandfather, Johnson Parks, were brother and sister.  Peggy and I had an instant connection, and we love exchanging and sharing family information and history.

Peggy shared some family photos with me, including this one her.  

The instant I looked at the photo I had this strange and tingling sensation go through my body.  She’s a cutie-pie – no doubt about it!  But there was something else…something familiar. How could that be? I had never met Peggy.  Although we both have relatives still living in Pike and Meriwether counties here in Georgia our paths had never crossed. But, I just could not shake that feeling – I kept thinking…”this picture looks so familiar”…so familiar.  It wasn’t that I had seen the photo before. No, it was just…just…I could not put my finger on it, and I could not shake the feeling. There was just something about that picture. It was driving me crazy.

I pulled out one of my photo albums and started looking through the photos.  Then, it dawned on me.  I finally realized why Peggy’s photo looked familiar. But, I thought to myself I had to be wrong…it must be just my imagination. I had not seen the photo I was looking for in years.  My mind and eyes were playing tricks on me; I just thought they were similar.  My search took on a new intensity.  I knew exactly the picture I was looking for, but where was it???  I had to find that picture.

Finally, there it was and that strange tingling feeling returned, but this time it was accompanied by a smile.   I scanned the picture and immediately called Peggy and told her I was sending an email with a photo attached. I wanted her to call me as soon as it came through and she had looked at the picture.

A few minutes later, Peggy called me screaming OMG!!!  We both laughed and went OMG!!  This is the photo I sent Peggy.

Can you see why we were screaming??   IT’S ME!!

Category: Daily Themes, , Sepia Saturday    Tags: , ,

Yesterday, I wrote about finding documents for some of my ancestors’ slave holders in the Confederate Citizens File on Footnote. You can read that post here. Last night as I continued to browse through the collection, I found several records that mentioned slaves by name.  The owners had been paid for labor rendered by their slave to the  Confederate government.  This particular document was in a 12 page  file for Joseph A Gates of Virginia and mentions “Hire of Slave Nelson, as Laborer” several times.1  As I said in my post, these records are a rich genealogy resource.  Take some time and browse the collection. You might be surprised by what you find.

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  1.  ”Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms, 1861-65,”  digital images, Footnote.com ( : accessed 20 January 2011), record for Gates, Joseph A, Petersburg,Virginia, 18 February 1864, page 8 of 12, citing National Archives Record Group 109, (also known as the “Citizen File” NARA M346).