Showing posts with label SWANN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SWANN. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - What Do You Do with a "Used" Tombstone?

A new cemetery (Forest Lawn) was opening adjacent to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, and I decided to  purchase six burial spaces. In 1980, when my Dad (Raymond Mitchell THOMAS, Jr.) died unexpectedly, arrangements were made to bury him in Forest Lawn Cementery. Eight years later, my grandmother (Eddye Mae LOYD SWANN) died. While making arrangements for her funeral, we learned that the LOYD-SWANN lot in historic Bonaventure Cemetery contained more spaces than we thought. Once my Mom (Eddye Frances SWANN THOMAS) received this information, she was determined to relocate my Dad's remains to her family's lot. Her parents and grandparents are buried there as well as her brother and uncle. 
The "Unwanted Tombstone"
The relocation happened sometime during the late 1990s. Mom did not want to use the old marker because marker's design did not match the current markers on the LOYD-SWANN lot. 

Loyd-Swann Lot
This created a real dilemma--what do you do with a "used" marker!" My brother, Ray (Raymond Mitchell THOMAS III) stored it in his garage until we could make a decision. We forgot about it until early 2002, when Ray asked, "What are we going to do with this old marker that's still in my garage?" I told him we couldn't just throw it away. Then we had a brainstorm! The gravesite of my grandparents' (Raymond Mitchell THOMAS, Sr. and Kathryne "Katie" Elizabeth AUSTIN), in Hillcrest Abbey East Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, was minus a tombstone.

Ray and I visited the monument company and asked if the plates on the old marker could be replaced. The answer was yes, but the cost was just a few hundred dollars under the purchase cost of a new marker. We were told it would be necessary to recast the bronze. We then explored the cost of two new name plates. Ray decided he could sand the plates off the bronze marker and new plates could be attached. The representative warned that it may destroy the marker. Since the marker was of no value as it was, we decided there was nothing to lose by trying. The new plates were only a fraction of the cost of a new marker. In 2002, the "repurposed" marker was installed and it now marks my grandparents' graves.
The "Repurposed" Tombstone with close-up photos of the new plates
I have attempted to properly document the relocation of my Dad's remains from one cemetery to another, but can you imagine the headache some poor genealogist might have one day! My Dad's obituary clearly states he was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia. He was, but he didn't stay. He now rests happily in Bonaventure Cemetery next to my Mom and her parents whom he loved dearly. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Pretty Plate

I received an email from my cousin, James Rahman, passing on some “Maxine” wisdom.  It read: 

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my yearly physical.
My blood pressure was high.
My cholesterol was high.
I'd gained some weight, and I didn't feel so hot.

My doctor said eating right doesn't have to be complicated and it would solve my physical problems. He said, "Just think in colors. Fill your plate with bright colors. Try some greens, oranges, reds, maybe something yellow,  etc., and  eat an entire bowl of bright colors."
And sure enough, I felt better immediately!  I  never knew eating right could be so easy!

This funny little story reminded me of Mama Swann (my grandmother, Eddye Mae LOYD SWANN).  Every time we sat down to eat, she performed the same ritual--she folded her napkin (real cloth) in her lap and served her plate from the bowls as they were passed around the table. Then she surveyed her plate as though she was examining a fine piece of art. With a proud little tilt of her head she would say, "Now this is a pretty plate!”

One day I asked her why she did this. That is when I received my first lesson in good nutrition. “Joan,” she replied, “if you have all the colors (red, yellow, orange, and green) represented in the food on your plate, you have your basic nutrients.”

That was about 60 years ago, but I always think of her when I look at my plate and check for all the colors. I wonder if Maxine's doctor knew Mama Swann!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


My name is “Jeanette” and I have been a member of this family since the late 1940’s.  I was a gift to Eddye Mae LOYD SWANN from her daughter-in-law (Jeanette MALPHRUS SWANN, wife of Otis “Bubber” Franklin SWANN, Jr.)  I wasn’t a very big plant, but Eddye Mae nurtured me through the years.  When she moved to 60th Street in 1962, I moved with her.  There we lived in harmony, enjoying the antics of four generations of the family, until Eddye Mae moved to her daughter’s (Frances SWANN THOMAS) house on Wilmington Island to recover from a knee injury.  This was about 1983, if my memory can be depended upon.

Eddye Mae’s move to the Island was intended to be a temporary arrangement, but it never worked out for her to return to her home.  Twice a month someone in the family visited me on 60th Street and gave me water.  I was so lonely and I looked forward to their visits.  Only a few of them would take the time to linger a moment and talk to me.  Their visits were all I had to look forward to from day to day. 

I was sure I would have to start taking Prozac for my depression when suddenly the door opened and Bubber came in.  He walked over to me, looked me over from top to bottom, turning my pot from side to side to get a better view.  I thought for sure I was doomed.  The family must have decided to rid themselves of the responsibility of my care.  He propped the door open and came back into the room.  I was so afraid and cried out to him, “What are you going to do to me?”  Of course, he didn’t answer, he just walked over and picked me up.  I could feel my leaves hitting the sides of the doorframe as I looked over his shoulder for one last glimpse of my home.  Now I understood how Eddye Mae felt when she had to leave.  I know she didn’t want to leave her home, and certainly didn’t want to leave me! 

Suddenly, he set me on the ground.  He opened his car door and pushed me in.  My body was bend in order to fit inside the car.  I was cramped and sad.  My time had come.  I watched as he locked the door to the house and returned to the car.  He sat in the driver’s seat and started the car, pulling off for what I believed to be my last trip anywhere. 

Bubber drove for a long time.  I was disheartened and tired.  I must have dozed off.  The next thing I remember we were on the highway and a “Jacksonville, Florida” sign flew by the window as he drove along.  He took me to Orange Park, where he unloaded me and carried me into his home.  I settled in and was happy.  It was nice having the television on, being watered regularly, listening to his telephone conversations, and seeing his movement around me.  Life was good! 

Suddenly one day in 1987 his life ended.  I was alone again.  I was getting depressed again.  Just as I was about to give up, the door opened and Glenn and Ray (his nephews) entered.  They gathered his possessions, took care of pending business, and loaded me in the back of a truck.  I just knew I would be taken to the dump and “dumped.”  Again, it seemed like they had driven forever.  I was cold and tired.  I don’t think at that point that I cared where they took me or what they did with me. 

It was late in the afternoon when we arrived on Wilmington Island.  “Wilmington Island,” I thought.  “That’s where Eddye Mae went!”  I felt my heart beating faster and faster.  It would be so wonderful to find her again.  I was taken inside and set in the corner of the room. 

I cautiously looked around.  There she was.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  Eddye Mae had grown frail since I had seen her and was a little forgetful, but she seemed to know who I was.  I was happy again.  I watched the family come and go as I sat quietly in the corner of the room.  Another generation had been born into the family.  Having the little babies and children around made me feel very much alive again.  Frances’ home was filled with joy and noise.  The television was always on, people were coming in and out all though the day.  Each night I said a little prayer for all of them as they one by one left me to go to their beds.  I certainly wouldn’t be depressed in this household.

Eddye Mae died in September of 1988 and six months later her husband (Otis Franklin SWANN, Sr.) died.  I guess he missed her as much as I had missed her when she left her home on 60th Street.  I wasn’t worried this time, as I knew Frances would take care of me. 

Frances was alone now in the big house, but she didn’t have a chance to be lonely.  Not only did she have me, she had family and friends.  She loved to play cards and four or five nights a week, friends came in for cards.  They ate snacks, laughed and talked, and fused if they didn’t win.  One of her friends had been in elementary school with her.  Then in 2000, the doctor told the family that Frances' cancer had returned.  After that she spent most of her time in and out of the hospital.  In September 2001, she died.  I was alone again.  This time I knew no one would want me because of my age.  I was old!  I thought they would probably wish me well and drop me off at a nursing home.

Then, just as I convinced myself that my life was over, Eddye Mae’s great-granddaughter (Karen Marie HOLLOWAY PREVATT and her husband, Mike) came in and took me to their home in Rincon, Georgia—another long ride in the back of a truck.  They put me in a nice, sun-filled house and I thrived.  I was almost asleep one night when I overheard them talking about a move to Savannah.  I wondered if they would take me.  Well, they did.  They moved me into another sun-filled room (so good for my old body) in a house on Wilmington Island and I have been here ever since.

Through the years, shoots have been taken and given to others.  I wonder if any of them are thriving as I am.  Just before Christmas, one of my limbs had to be clipped because it was pulling on my main stalk.  I was afraid I would break under the strain.  Mike said he would take the branch to work with him and see if he could root it.  Hopefully, it will live.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it did—mmmm would it be a sibling?  I have another little plant coming up at my base--another generation of my family tree.  Since I can’t locate a birth certificate (I think the Court House burned), I am assuming I am around 62-63 years old.  Tomorrow I may check with the Social Security Office to determine if I am eligible for a pension check before they change the rules.

I look back on my life and have to say, “I am a product of family love.”  Sometimes it was even tough love, but I am certainly blessed to be a part of this family.  If you are ever nearby, stop and visit a while.  I love seeing old friends and making new ones.  You can sit in Eddye Mae's chair right by my side.  That's the chair and stool her daughter (Mary Elizabeth SWANN BRINSON) gave her in 1936.  She had the chair before I came into her life.  The chair and I share family memories and would love to hear yours.

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)

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.

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. 

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.