Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tonight I Enjoyed a Visit with Aunt Elizabeth

When I was in the fifth grade my grandmother (Eddye Mae LOYD Swann) took me to Washington, D.C., to visit her brother and sister-in-law. That is really my first memories of Aunt Elizabeth (Elizabeth GREGG Loyd) and Uncle Charlie (Charles Yancey LOYD). It was the beginning of some of my fondest childhood memories.  My first visit was in 1949 on the occasion of the inauguration of Harry S. Truman's second term as President of the United States.  It was also my first time to ride on an escalator, but that is another story. 

Since my grandfather (Otis Franklin SWANN) and my dad (Raymond Mitchell THOMAS, Jr.) both worked for railroads, Mama Swann and I could ride the train to Washington on a pass.  We boarded in Savannah, Georgia, at night and arrived in the Capitol the next morning.  Uncle Charlie met us at the train station and took us to his home.  Each summer after that initial visit, I rode ride the train to Washington alone where my visits lasted from two to six weeks.

During those visits, they both treated me as thought I was royalty. Aunt Elizabeth was a walking history book.  She gave better tours of the great city, I am sure, than any of the tour guides there.  The nicest thing about those visits was sitting up late at night, playing cards with Uncle Charlie, and sleeping in the next morning.  Aunt Elizabeth rose early in the mornings, made breakfast for Uncle Charlie, and then went to the grocery store where she bought groceries for that day's dinner

When she returned from shopping, she cooked BRUNCH for me (she said it was a combination of breakfast and lunch) as I had slept through the regular breakfast meal.  My favorite "brunch" was a grilled, potted meat sandwich.  The sandwiches were always hot, mashed flat by the grill, and the bread was crusty from toasting. 

The other day I was shopping and saw a little can of "potted meat."  That was the first time I had thought of her sandwiches in years.  Tonight, I opened the can, spread it between two pieces of bread, and grilled it in the grill (mashing it flat).  I enjoyed imitating her preparation of the sandwich as much as I enjoyed eating it.  It was a nice moment.  My memories of her brunch menu didn't disappoint me.  That doesn't mean I want another one anytime soon, but the joy of the sandwich was remembering the great times I had in her home. 

My Aunt Elizabeth was a great lady and I was blessed to have been given opportunities to spend time with her.  I never heard her complain, she was always happy, and she always had a sweet, little giggle.  She wrinkled her nose when she talked to me and if it was a serious conversation she squinted her eyes shut.  I liked her little habits as as they made her a little different from others.  She was a former school teacher, she was raised in a Quaker home, she was organized better than Martha Stewart, she took care of her family, but always had time for others.  If I could be like anyone in my Family Tree, it would be Aunt Elizabeth.  Never a week goes by that sometime during that week she comes to mind.  The time she spent with me was not wasted.  She taught me to type, to sew, and to identify trees and wildflowers.  She taught me to have confidence in myself and see beauty in all things. 

And tonight we shared a sandwich again.

Aunt Elizabeth and Joan in the Blue Ridge Mountains (1952)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Little Tin Mule

Most afternoons when I was a little girl, my great-grandfather (William Edward Loyd) sat on the porch swing and opened a new package of Brown’s Mule chewing tobacco.  Each slab had a little metal tag depicting the little mule logo.  My brother Ray and cousin Glenn patiently sat there watching Papa peel off the cellophane, and using the point of his knife, remove the little mule tag.  Papa then asked, "Who wants the mule?"  I always waited until they both said they wanted it before I said, "I do, Papa."  Papa always gave it to me.

I remember how special I felt when Papa handed it to me and how disappointed the two boys always were.  I never felt guilty in anyway or acknowledged that I was really being a little brat.  I just smiled, said "thank you" and gave Papa a sweet smile.  Ray and Glenn wanted it too, but it was always mine.

I have often thought about those little mules and wished that I still had one of them because it was the most vivid and cherished memory of my great-grandfather

A few weeks ago, I searched for an item on eBay.  Something I saw during the search must have brought the memory of the little mule to the surface.  I typed "tin mule" in the search block.  Up came two entries for a "tin mule."  I bid on both of them hoping one would be mine.  I lost the bid on the first mule, but was the successful bidder on the second. 

In a couple of days, it came in the mail.  As I untied the ribbon securing the small package and opened the paper around it, I was flooded with the memory of Papa's love.  I know that it is not one of the actual tags he once gave me, but it certainly represents one he did.  That is all that matters.  Ray and Glenn, I am sorry—but you missed it again.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Politics

While scanning and documenting the Swann-Harper photographs, I noticed the button on the lapel of this young man's coat.  His true identity is a mystery, but his political leaning is obvious.  The enlarged portion of the photo reveals the head of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States (March 4, 1921 - August 2, 1923).  President Harding was a Republican and died in office. 

I have no idea if the identifiers of the photograph had the benefit of viewing both the photos at the same time.  Possibly that is the reason they identified them as two different individuals. 

The two Swann-Harper photos are unmistakably the same person.  One shows a flower with leaf in the lapel and the other shows a Warren G. Harding  Presidential Campaign Button (which helps date the photo on the right).

Is the young man Charles Abney or Will Todd?  Hopefully, one day someone will be able to help determine his identity.  The only thing we know for certain about the photo at this time is when the photo was taken and that the subject was happy on Election Day as his candidate won!

Read more about President Harding here

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Birthdays

Each  month you can learn about some of your ancestors on their special day.  Along with vital statistics, you can read the stories told through the years along and/or personal memories of my own. Please add your stories here too.  

03 Oct 1851 - FRANCIS BRISON AUSTIN, SR. - My great-grandfather was born on 03 Oct 1851 in Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina. He married Flora Ann (Annie) HUNSUCKER on 13 Mar 1880 in Raleigh, Wake, North Carolina. The family moved from North Carolina to Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, around 1888.  He died at the age of 61 on 25 May 1913 in Savannah and was buried on 26 May 1913 in Savannah, Chatham, Georgia (Laurel Grove Cemetery, Lot 2903).

Austin family at home on
208 West Anderson Street, Savannah, GA about 1889
In photo:  Standing left to right - Katie, Lillian, Will, Daisy
Sitting:  Frank and Annie, and Georgia and Fred on the steps
(Photo owned by Frank's great-granddaughter Stephanie Irish)

05 Oct 1884 – LOUIS FALLIGANT THOMAS, SR. Louis was born in Savannah, Chatham, Georgia, to parents Adelaide Almira LAVIER and John Augustus THOMAS. He married Charlotte Melissa HORNE on 10 Feb 1910 in Savannah (St. Paul's Episcopal Church). He was employed as a Machinist. He died on 10 Mar 1920 in Savannah and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery (Section A, Lot 136). The cause of death was Influenza/Pneumonia. Louis and Charlotte had one son, Louis Falligant THOMAS, Jr., who was killed in a streetcar accident at the age of six. Their marriage ended in divorce.

05 Oct 1824ANNE MATILDA ENGLISH TOWLES – Anne Matilda ENGLISH was the oldest sister of my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah Jane ENGLISH. She was born in Bryan County, Georgia.  She married Daniel Freeman TOWLES on 17 May 1843. They had three sons: Henry G., Francis S., and Daniel F., Jr.  Anne died on 01 Sep 1854.

Research Surprises

10 Oct 2010 - Today I was looking at Passport Applications and found one on for Frederick Thomas Bozarth.  I've found lots of passport applications, but this is the first one I have found with a photograph of the person.  It was a nice find!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Harper-Swann Photographs

These photos were given to me by my grandfather, Otis Franklin Swann, in 1986.  Some of the photos, well over 100 years in age, originally belonged to Julia Swann Mahone and were given to my grandfather by her grandson, Otis Hammock.  Some were his.  I have attempted to make a permanent record of these photos for future generations.  Since they are so old, they are fading and becoming brittle.  Some have a form of mildew on them that was caused by improper storage through the years.  You can see these little "spots" in the scanned images.  The original photos must be kept in a controlled atmosphere in archival safe containers.  Humidity and light are their worst enemies. 

Genealogy of Heirlooms

Definition:  heirloom
1.  : a piece of property that descends to the heir as an inseparable part of an inheritance of real property
2.  : something of special value handed on from one generation to another
3.  : a horticultural variety that has survived for several generations usually due to the efforts of private individuals

Often our most interesting family stories come from the history we learn and pass on along with a specific heirloom.  Enjoy the following stories about such treasures. Add any of your own you would like to share. 


September Birthdays

Each month you will be introduced to some of your ancestors.  They will be listed in the month of their birth date.  Along with vital statistics, I will add personal stories I have been told and/or ones of my own as I have been fortunate to have personally known them.  Please add your stories here too.

Daddy Swann
01 Sep 1891 - OTIS FRANKLIN SWANN, SR. -Otis was my grandfather (Daddy Swann).  He was the youngest of eleven children born to Matilda Green HARPER and William Wilson SWANN in Conyers, Rockdale County, Georgia.  He married Eddye Mae LOYD and they had three children:  Frances, Mary Elizabeth, and Otis, Jr.
        Daddy Swann loved to tell stories of the family and I remember once he told me that when he was a young boy, he was walking down the road with his aunt.  She stopped and said to him, “Otis, look up in the sky.  I think one day trains will drive across the sky carrying a lot of people from one place to the other.”  He said he thought she was crazy!  Then he chuckled and added, “She really wasn’t crazy—look at the way people travel in the sky every day in airplanes!”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Genealogy Moment

          Last week I located a connection to my Harper line. My great-grandmother was Matilda Green Harper (married to William Wilson Swann). The youngest of their eleven children (and my grandfather) was Otis Franklin Swann, Sr.  Matilda was the daughter of Edward Harper and Nancy Townsend.  She had a brother (David Casselton Harper, Sr.) who moved to Texas where he lived with his family until he died in 1922.

          While researching the Harper family, I found the obituary for David's grandson (Thomas Ewell Hunt Sr).  I searched the online phone book and found a telephone number listed in his name.  I called and a very nice lady (Irene Hunt) answered the phone.  She was the widow of Thomas Ewell Hunt.  We enjoyed a nice chat and she told me she would pass my name and telephone number on to her sister-in-law Sara (wife of Harold Eugene Hunt).

          The very next day, Sara called and told me she was also working on the family genealogy.  Over the next few days, we swapped information and photos.  She sent me 32 new photos of the Harpers (I love photos) to add to approximately 100 studio photos of the Swann and Harper lines that Daddy Swann gave to me before he died.