Sunday, February 13, 2011

What a Find

As I dig into the genealogy of folks interred in the Statham City Cemetery, I am constantly coming up with little surprises, at least they are surprises to me.  It may well be that the families of the people in the stories all know the tales, but to me they are yarns that must be shared.

Let's start with a name that appears on a rather impressive tombstone in a somewhat older part of the cemetery: Grandmother Sallie Darby, wife of J.V. Andrew, 1846-1927.  She shares the stone, not with her husband, but with this person: Granddaughter Ruth May, daughter of J.J. and Pearl Horton.

That presents a bit of a mystery.  I looked to see if she and J.V. Andrew had a child named Pearl.  They did not.  Then I checked to see who J.J. Horton had married and found that in June of 1901, he had married Pearl Hardeman in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  There was a match there, but how did Sallie fit in?  I ran a search on Pearl Hardeman and found that she was the daughter of George Lumpkin Hardeman and Sarah Pearlee Darby Hardeman.  Could Sarah Darby Hardeman be the Sallie Darby who married J.V. Andrew?

George Hardeman had died on July 10th, 1885 and Sallie and J. V. were married on July 4, 1906, so it is plausible that I am talking about the same woman.

By now, I'd pretty much exhausted the normal on-line data sources, but then I read that the University of Georgia had provided access to a database consisting of digitally stored copies of Athens newspapers from 1827 to 1922, so I ran a query on the name George Lumpkin Hardeman.

For an amateur genealogist to find what I dug up is somewhat akin to a modern day gold panner washing off an 8 oz nugget.

George Lumpkin Hardeman had been murdered, apparently in full sight of his wife, and also that of the wife of the man accused of his murder, one Eldredge Crawford Whitehead.  My sense of Tangential Genealogy now began to lead me down a completely new path.  I had to find the rest of the story in the archives.  In his first trial, Mr Whitehead was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  His attorney immediately filed an appeal and some 14 months later, Mr Whitehead was found not guilty and was set free.

Hold up!  That isn't all.  A few years later, on July 2, 1890, his brother Jesse was charged with attempting to assassinate a Mr Ware.  He was convicted, sentenced to ten months in prison.  On appeal, he was again convicted, and this time sentenced to eight months in prison.  On a second appeal, the case ended in a mistrial, so a new trial was called for.  On October 22, 1897, over seven years after the incident, he was found not guilty and released, a free man.  He had apparently been allowed to be free on bail, because in the years between being charged and finally being exonerated, he and his wife had two children.

I wish I'd found out these morsels of Georgia history a year or so earlier, for the great-grandson of Jesse Whitehead, one John Whitehead, was an Athens area minister who preached my mother-in-law's funeral, and perhaps even closer, was once the husband of my wife's sister, Becky.  Alas, John died this past December, so I'll never be able to ask him what he knew of these two stories.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tangential Genealogy

Call it Tangential Genealogy (as I do) or simply wasting time (as others might), but admit it is interesting, educational, and full of surprises.

One morning while my wife enjoyed a well-earned late sleep, I delved into a genealogical project I've been working on for over a year. In my local (Statham, Georgia) cemetery rest the remains of one Sallie Pearlee Darby Hardeman Andrew, born in 1846, perhaps on September 27th or January 29th, to Julius and Nancy Hamilton Darby in Clarke County, Georgia.

Miss Darby married a George Lumpkin Hardeman on December 4, 1867 and it was in looking for his history that took me off on my latest tanget. Mr Hardeman died at age 39 in 1885 and was buried in the Bethabara Cemetery along US 78 in Oconee County, Georgia, which is about 6 miles due south of Statham where his widow was buried.

George was born in 1845 to Lumpkin Gower and Martha Lester Hardman in Georgia. Note that here the spelling of the name has changed. Lumpkin's father, Samuel Hardman was born on March 28, 1777 in Henry County, Virginia to Uriah and Fanny Chandler Hardman. It was in looking for more information on Uriah that my route detoured even more. In 1752, Uriah's father, a John Hardman, sold Uriah 100 acres of land, apparently in preparation for marriage. In 1778, Uriah sold the land to Jesse Willingham, his brother-in-law, and moved to Wilkes County, NC where he bought 60 acres. In 1782, he sold the 60 acres to a nephew and moved to Georgia.

In 1785 Uriah received a Georgia headright grant of 448 acres on Goosepond Creek in what is now Oglethorpe County. In 1790, he sold 200 acreas of the land and moved to South Carolina, where he lived until at least February of 1799 when he moved back to Georgia and settled on "The forks of Clouds Creek" near the present day town of Crawford, Georgia."  At least one family historian, Jim Hardman, a distant nephew of Uriah, believes he may have been buried in the Clouds Creek Baptist Church cemetery, for while there is no marked grave for him, there are records of the church that mention his children, and, in a grove of trees beside the church, there are a number of graves marked only with field stones.

The name Clouds Creek caught my attention, so I let my keyboard take me to see what I else could find.  The website for Clouds Creek Baptist Church has a pictorial of Howard's Covered Bridge which is nearby.  Covered bridges are of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons.  I spent many summer afternoons in a pool beneath one in my old hometown, and, a distant ancestor of mine, one Ithial Town (1784-1844) patented a form of wooden truss bridge in 1820 which became known as Town's Lattice Truss.    In the church's website, there is a photograph of a sign erected by the Georgia Historical Society that says the bridge was constructed using the Town lattice design.   Not only was I tickled to see that my ancestor's design was used, I was delighted to see that the name Town had been capitalized, keeping his name intact.  There are other such bridges, including one here in Georgia, that spell the name without a capital.

Now you can see why I call it Tangential Genealogy.  I started out looking for the family history of Sallie Darby, then moved on to her first husband's family, then to a church that a member of that family may or may not have attended, and finally to a Georgia covered bridge that was built using the design of a Connecticut architect who could trace his lineage back to my seventh great grandfather who came to these shores from England in about 1640.

Oh, one more tangent.  The sign on Howard's Covered Bridge does contain an error, if only minor.  It says that the trusses are fastened together with trunnels, or wooden pegs.  The devices used are called tree nails (nails made from trees) or treenails, pronounced trunnels, much in the same way gun wales of a boat are pronounced gunnels.  Blame the English for that.