Friday, September 4, 2009

More Bits of Information From the Peach State

Yesterday, in my excitement and delight at receiving Uncle JD’s social security application, I totally missed there was a big brown envelope with Walton County in the return address. The package was from the probate court and contained a a certificate (transcribed from the original) for Cornelius and Fannie’s marriage. As suspected, there was no information beyond my great grandparents name at the time of marriage and the date they were married. Based on my grandparents’ marriage certificate, I really wasn’t expecting much more than this. Unfortunately, early Georgia marriage certificates, at least the one’s that I have seen, don’t provide a wealth of information.

The probate court officer also informed me that they do have records on Cornelius’ estate; however, they cannot make copies from the book. I, or a foot solider, would need to go there and transcribe or photograph this information. The Probate court will now be a definite stop during the research trip.

Yesterday, I also received documentation from the Walton County, GA Superior Court on the sale of great-granddad’s farm. From a genealogical prospective, there wasn’t any information there but it did perhaps give a different insight into what may have been going on in my great grandmother Fannie’s mind after the death of ggranddad.

I told this story when I first began this blog and hope that you don’t mind hearing it, again. This is from my grandmother’s perspective as relayed to my mother and on to me. Per my grandmother, after the death of great granddad Cornelius, great grandmom Fannie stated that she wasn’t planning to marry again because of the way great granddad had treated her. (Ggranddad reportedly left his family for a brief period, chasing after some woman. But I guess the grass was not greener, so he returned home.) However, as the story goes, some 'ole “Negro” started hanging around shortly after great granddad’s death and next thing you know, great grandmother tried to get all of her children from under foot by marrying off all her daughters that were of marrying age and still in the home. My great aunt, Ossie, was still a child at the time of her father’s death and ended up living with my grandparents, who married a few months after ggranddad's death, for a while.

Now having read about the sale of my ggrandparents’ farm, I wonder if great grandmom might have actually been trying to protect herself and her family from an uncertain future. At the time of his death in May of 1910, the bank and ggranddad owned his farm (i.e. he had a mortgage). Back in those days, I know even for white families, the death of a spouse / dad typically meant, they lost everything. I’m sure that it was even worse for African-American families who, even in the midst of Jim Crow, were trying to have a little something for themselves and their descendants. As best as I can tell, ggrandmom Fannie didn’t work. In Nov. 1911, the farm was sold, probably to pay off the mortgage. In my way of thinking, maybe, just maybe, what my grandmother interpreted as her mother selling out her family for the sake of a man was actually ggrandmom trying to secure a future for her family, especially her girls. Perhaps she knew her boys, although young, would be okay and thought the best way for she and her girls to be okay was to be attached to a man. Either way, things seem to have worked out okay for my grandmother and her two younger sisters.

Now that I know there is documentation of my ggrandfather’s “estate,” I pray that I can get down to Walton County soon to view it. I’m also praying that there may be that little nugget of information is there that will help me to continue on to follow the footsteps of both of my ggrandparents.

Until Next Time!


  1. Wow!! I am really thinking now of the lengths that my great great granddad Ben had to go through to proctect his family and property. I'm figuring that your great great grandma probably was afraid and like you said she wanted to protect her family and herself. Have you thought that maybe she thought that someone was going to come along and take it from her? You know thats a good possibility because it happened back then, or maybe the bank was threatening her. Such a interesting story. I know you will get to the bottom of it.

  2. You already know, there is something endearing about Fannie to me -- could be her name {my FAV name!:-}, could be her mysterious path, I don't know. She just rings familiar to me.

    I think you may be the one to set Fannie's story straight... you may be her voice.

    We all know that what appears to be in a childs eyes in most time different than the adult reality.

    Your observation is based more on the reality of Fannie's circumstances, not lore.

    Hmmm, the way Fannie seems to stay in your spirit & her story seems to be coming forward makes me believe you have your very own guide...

    The Ancestors have you working... I love it!:-)



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