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.


  1. Hi Jim,
    When you get to the Arnolds, those are my folks. I have a couple of double-half-third cousins (or something like that) who could be a lot of help with the ones descended from Sallie Booth and James K. P. Arnold.
    Helen Person

  2. Sorry it took me so long to respond. James and Sallie are both buried in Booth Memorial Park, but I'm not sure of the connection. My research has been centered on the Statham cemetery because that's where I got started, although I'll admit that I've allowed Tangential Genealogy to rule my life. Thank you - I'd not heard of the Barrow Preservation Society until I got your note.

    Jim McNamara