Monday, March 15, 2010

Grandpa Jasper and Grandma Jane (Part III)

White Plains, Georgia

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White Plains, GA – Although I’ve never been there, it’s the type of town that I call a spit in the road or say if you blink you would miss it when passing through. But, last week, when I was thinking of Grandpa Jasper and Grandma Jane Pierce, I decided it’s time I learn more about this ancestral area. I have read a couple of books on Greene County over the past year but still know very little about the White Plains area of Greene County. White Plains as well as the southeastern part of Greene County seems to warrant hardly a mention in historical discussions of Greene County.

White Plains was incorporated in 1834 and is 4.6 sq miles in size. It is located in what is known as the Greylands area of Greene County. The Greylands area is noted for, and acquired its name, due to the light colored soil of the region that was tough to produce anything on.

Back when cotton became king and totally transformed the economic support system of Greene County, White Plains didn’t seem to reap the rewards of that economic boom the way the rest of Greene County did. The poorest of the poor, both black and white, of Greene County appear to have resided here. Farmers in the White Plains area tended to own 200 acres are less. Most didn’t have slaves. Those that did usually worked alongside their slaves.

From my observations, based on Google Maps, I doubt that White Plains has changed much in the past 100+ years. As of the 2000 census, 283 people resided in White Plains. I wonder if any of my collateral relatives are included in that number? It’s doubtful. Something tells me that by 1900 most if not all my family was either deceased or living elsewhere. Why do I think this? By 1900, 4 of Grandpa Jasper and Grandma Jane’s children were elsewhere in the state of Georgia. And if this is Grandma Jane (handwriting somewhat difficult to make out) and grandson on the 1900 census, only 5 children are still living.

Now, with my insight into White Plains becoming clearer, I decided to change my initial approach in trying to pursue my 2nd great grandparents into slavery. I decided that it’s time to start knocking on a few doors, as conventional methods (is there such a thing) probably aren’t going to lead me to where I want to go.

My initial door knocking will begin with:

1. White Plains Baptist Church – As can be seen in the street view of Google Maps, the heart of White Plains appears to be White Plains Baptist Church. Based on what I know about the history of this church, chances are strong that my ancestors may have attended here during their lives as slaves and perhaps even after they were free.

2. Second Baptist Church – I’ve not determined exactly how many churches there are in White Plains much less the number of African-American churches but this church, located in White Plains, was mentioned in the Black America Series book on Greene County, GA.

3. Last door of the initial door knocking is Mrs. Mamie Hillman of the Greene County African –American Cultural Museum and Resource Center. After reading Ms. Hillman’s contribution to the Black America Series of books. I thought that she might be able to provide some valuable insight, beyond that covered in her book on Greene County, which might help in my quest to peel back the cloak that covers my ancestors.

Last week, I contacted, via snail mail, White Plains Baptist church and Mrs. Hillman. This week, I plan to knock on the door of Second Baptist Church. Hopefully, all three can provide answers.

To Be Continued

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