Migrations, occupations, case files and tufts

Focus on Georgia columnists:

Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr. for the AJC, 31 January 2016

Seminar focuses on ancestors’ migrations and occupations

“Ancestors: Where They Went, What They Did, and a Way to Share What We Know,” is the theme of the Georgia Genealogical Society seminar to be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 27 at McElreath Hall at the Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta.

The first speaker, Andie Criminger, will address why every genealogist should have a blog. Karen Molohon will follow with three lectures: an overview of geography and genealogy; finding and understanding your ancestor’s occupation in the census records; and migration and mapping to find out where your ancestors went.

Cost is $25 for members of GGS and the Atlanta History Center, $35 for nonmembers. Mailing registration deadline is Feb. 19, PayPal online deadline is Feb. 24. Send checks to Georgia Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 550247, Atlanta, GA 30355-2747; to register online and for further information, see gagensociety.org.

If you have further questions, contact Laura Carter at gagensocprograms@gmail.com or 706-369-9420. Lunch is not provided, but there are places nearby. The Atlanta History Center’s library and archives will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. that day for research. See atlantahistorycenter.com.

Learn about Southern tufts

Ashley Callahan will speak at noon Feb. 12 at the Georgia Archives Lunch and Learn seminar on “Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion,” the subject of her recent book by that title from the University of Georgia Press. Callahan, an independent scholar with decorative arts training, will cover this northwest Georgia phenomenon, which has grown into a major industry. The seminar is free; bring your lunch. For more information, check georgiaarchives.org or call 678-364-3710.

North Carolina case files online

Familysearch.org recently posted a great free resource, North Carolina state Supreme Court case files, 1800-1909. These are digitized copies of the original loose case files, with an online searchable index that only covers the major names — roughly, the full names — of those in the title of the lawsuit. You may find a reference online from North Carolina Reports, the published summaries of decisions. Here, you can read the entire case. The originals are at the North Carolina Archives. Check for any surname of interest, then check the county.

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.



GGS- Free Webinar- Feb. 17th

Georgia Genealogical Society- Free webinar:

Forensic Genealogy – CSI Meets Roots

Wednesday, February 17th- 8:00-9:00 pm

GGS- Call for volunteers

Georgia Genealogical Society: Volunteers Urgently Needed

Education committee:

1. Person or persons to edit the webinars to eliminate dead time and other issues to create a better product to listen to. Person will retrieve the files from Dropbox, convert from wmv format to MP4, edit them, and then upload to the GGS Vimeo account . We have a large backlog so this is urgent.

2. People willing to be trained to conduct/moderate webinars online since it works better with two people from GGS to be online with the presenter.  One can answer questions and work on technical issues that might arise while the other person takes care of speaking online and working with the presenter.

3. Volunteers to serve on a planning committee to focus on multiple areas of education to meet the requests coming in from members, libraries, from societies and from the Board. Meetings will be online so driving will not be required.  We hope to get input from GGS members from throughout the country. We are looking for people who have ideas and opinions about what will help GGS serve its educational mission

  • Society Education – There needs to be education for societies similar to what FGS does in helping local societies build stronger organizations and they need GGS to also provide educational opportunities for their members.
  • Board Education – some time ago the Board requested more training on how to be effective board members and different technology and tools to make their jobs as GGS board members easier.
  • Webinars – one person to oversee all the elements of presenting the webinars and developing multiple people who can serve as moderators for the webinars. Webinars includes planning and scheduling the webinars, and getting them uploaded to Vimeo to be available to our members.

No great expertise in genealogy is required, so do not feel you are not “expert” enough to help. This committee does require an application that is attached to be filled out. Representatives from societies in Georgia are especially encouraged to participate We need to find creative ways to educate more people in cost effective ways as Education is one of the largest budget items for GGS and growing annually. Deadline for application to serve on Education Planning Committee isFebruary 14, 2016. We will start meeting online in early March in the evenings.

Please contact Laura W. Carter at gagensocprograms@gmail.com  or phone 706-369-9420 with questions and/or offers to help.

Students find long-lost grave of Georgia man killed for voting in 1948

Student uses records from the University of Georgia and the Georgia Archives to find grave

…Lucy Baker, a sophomore from San Francisco, spent her own time outside of class to make trips to the archives of the University of Georgia in Athens and the Georgia Archives in Morrow in search of clues….

Students find long-lost grave of Georgia man killed for voting in 1948

Laura Douglas-Brown for Emory Report – 26 January 2016

Arms linked, five Emory University students stood silently in the muddy cemetery, their cheeks damp with rain and tears. It was a moment none could have imagined when they signed up for a class focused on the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project — a moment set in motion by an act of bravery almost 70 years ago, brought full circle now through research, determination and what more than one person called a “miracle.”

With the students bearing witness under the gray Georgia sky, Dorothy Nixon Williams rested her hand on a rough concrete headstone etched with the word “Father,” bent to touch the concrete slab beneath it, then wept in the arms of her son.

“Father.” Her father, Isaiah Nixon, an African American man who had dared to vote in the 1948 Democratic Primary in Montgomery County, Georgia, only the second held since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all-white primaries unconstitutional. Her father, who was gunned down by two white men that evening on the front porch of her home, when she was just six years old.

Her father, whose grave had been lost in the rural cemetery after Williams, her mother and five siblings fled to Jacksonville, Florida, shortly after his death.

Her father, whose grave had been found by those Emory students.

The gathering wasn’t a funeral, but their professor, Hank Klibanoff, offered a eulogy of sorts as Williams, her husband and son, the students and a few local residents — mostly relatives of others who had voted on that fateful day — stood together in the neatly kept graveyard ringed with pines.

“I don’t know anyone who is not moved by the story of Isaiah Nixon, and it is because Isaiah Nixon matters,” Klibanoff said. “His life matters, his death matters, his disappearance from history matters. And what matters more is that he has now reappeared, and I just think that is miraculous in so many ways.”

He read a passage from the biblical book of Isaiah — “By oppression and judgment he was taken away, yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living, for the transgression of my people he was punished …” — as some in the group murmured along.

“At that time in our history, an act of voting was an act of protest,” Klibanoff said. “It was a right that was deprived him, and he paid the price for voting, and that is something I think we are all resolved to never let happen again.”

Williams’ son spoke briefly before his mother, now 73, addressed the students: “Your faces will always be in my mind,” she said.

“When you first called me I still had a lot of anger, and I think I told you all I did, but after talking to your group, some of that was released,” Williams continued. “And I want to let you know now, the anger is completely released, and thank you all for that. I can just resolve this. It’s been settled. …

“I can’t say any more, except all that is coming in my mind is thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Long road to discovery, closure

The road to the grave’s discovery and Williams’ closure began long before Klibanoff and the students boarded a rented van on Jan. 22 and left Atlanta before dawn for the approximately 180-mile trek to Old Salem Cemetery.

The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project launched at Emory in the fall of 2011, directed and taught by Klibanoff, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and James M. Cox Professor of Journalism at Emory, and Brett Gadsden, associate professor of African American studies. The undergraduate class is cross-listed in history, journalism, African-American studies and American studies, and will soon be listed through creative writing, illustrating the interdisciplinary approaches both professors and students bring to the cases they examine.

Each semester, students take an in-depth look at one case, exploring primary evidence ranging from FBI records and court transcripts to personal archives and contemporaneous media accounts. Unlike some similar projects, their goal is not necessarily to “solve” the cases — in many, the killers are well-known — but to better understand the context in which racially motivated murders went unpunished in the Jim Crow South.

Isaiah Nixon was shot on Sept. 8, 1948 and died two days later in a hospital in neighboring Laurens County. The white brothers who killed him, Jim A. Johnson and Johnnie Johnson, were arrested and charged with murder and accessory to murder, respectively, according to the Cold Cases Project.

The duo claimed they had gone to Nixon’s house to hire him for work, then shot him in self-defense, although the white sheriff said they killed him for voting. The case drew attention from the NAACP, the FBI and the national press, but Jim Johnson was easily acquitted by the all-white jury, and charges against his brother were dropped.

Klibanoff said he and Gadsden chose Nixon’s case as the focus of the Fall 2015 course based on its importance and the many themes it invoked, including the history of all-white primaries and all-white juries in Georgia, the struggle for voting rights, and the involvement of the NAACP, among many others.

“It had enough angles that a class full of students could take it on,” he said.

Klibanoff secured access to 235 pages of previously unreleased FBI files and Nixon’s death certificate, and students dug in. They constructed an intricate timeline of events and strove to understand the relationships among key players in the case.

Lucy Baker, a sophomore from San Francisco, spent her own time outside of class to make trips to the archives of the University of Georgia in Athens and the Georgia Archives in Morrow in search of clues. Her research led to the discovery that Nixon’s killers and the sheriff-elect at the time of his death were first cousins.

Then came the biggest discovery of all.

An unexpected find

Baker and classmates Ellie Studdard, a junior from Atlanta, and Emily Gaines, a senior from New York City, felt drawn to actually see the places they were studying in such detail. In November, they decided to take a road trip to the area where Isaiah Nixon lived and died.

One day after class, they mentioned their idea to Klibanoff. “Can I go with you?” they recalled him asking. “I’ll drive.”

The sun was shining on that first trip. The students visited the tiny public library in Mt. Vernon, then the Montgomery County Courthouse. There they met James Harris, whose father had also voted in the 1948 primary — despite being told by the sheriff-elect to stay home, a message his family has never known whether to interpret as a warning or a threat.

Harris takes care of Old Salem Cemetery, just south of Mt. Vernon near Uvalda, Georgia, where Nixon was believed to be buried, but where his grave could not be found. Another group that examined the case, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law, had helped place a concrete bench there in his honor, although it did not bear his name. Harris offered to show the students the cemetery and his own father’s resting place.

But as Klibanoff and the other students walked with Harris through the cemetery, Studdard drifted away from the group. She had grown up visiting cemeteries with her father, making rubbings of the headstones of family graves, and she began walking up and down each row.

She reached the end of a line, where the grass gives way to fallen leaves, pine needles, bushes and trees. Then she noticed a bit of concrete showing through, similar to the slabs that marked other graves from the 1930s and 1940s, with names written with a finger or stick before the cement dried so long ago.

Looking closely, she could see part of a word, starting with “I.” Quickly she brushed more dirt and leaves away. The beginnings of “September,” the month of Isaiah Nixon’s death, appeared. Heart racing, she scraped away more leaves, more dirt, wanting to be sure.

She hurried back to the group with muddied hands, bringing a part of the story they had never expected to, quite literally, uncover.

“I found it.”

“It was like a miracle”

The group rushed back to the concrete slab at the edge of the cemetery and did their best to clean the grave. Though cracked, its inscription was now clear: Isaiah Nixon, with the dates of his birth and death, April 3, 1920, and Sept. 10, 1948. The once-hidden slab adjoined a headstone bearing that single word: “Father.”

They grabbed a smartphone and contacted Dorothy Williams, who still lived in Jacksonville, but had flown up to Emory earlier in the fall to visit their class. They showed her the grave via video. Later, she invited them to come to Old Salem Cemetery in January, to be with her when she saw it for the first time since she attended his funeral 67 years ago.

So on Jan. 22, as most Emory students either slept or anxiously awaited word on whether the university would close early due to expected snow, Studdard, Baker, Gaines and two other classmates — Emily Li, a junior from Charleston, and Sarah Husain, a senior from Chicago — met Klibanoff in the dark morning rain for the more than three-hour drive back to cemetery.

Their goal was to get to the cemetery early, to be there when Williams and her family arrived from Florida. But with the dirt road to the cemetery washed out, their first reunion occurred on the roadside by the old Uvalda Police Department, as they waited to learn if there was another route.

Climbing out of the van, Studdard approached Williams as she sat in the backseat of her car, and was quickly embraced.

“Oh, Ellie, you did something else that no one else could,” Williams told her. “That name, ‘Ellie,’ just rings in my mind, and all I hear is, ‘I found it.'”

Shortly before Harris returned to lead the caravan down another dirt road to the cemetery, Williams explained in an interview how she felt when she got that first call.

“I was just stunned. I was in awe. It was disbelief, although in reality, I knew they had to be telling the truth,” she said. “That was amazing. It was like a miracle.

“For Ellie to just walk in there and find that grave and holler out, ‘I found it’ — it just chokes me up right now. It’s just unbelievable.”

“The quintessential college course”

Friday’s trip was a mixture of sorrow and joy, as Isaiah Nixon’s family and the students who found his grave talked about the case and simply enjoyed visiting over catfish, fried chicken and barbecue at a diner across the street from the county courthouse. Before parting, the group shared hugs and posed for photos, the sun finally having broken through.

On the way back to Atlanta, the students reflected on both the day and their experiences in the Cold Cases class.

They recounted the practical skills they had honed — persistence, research using primary sources, the importance of keeping records, how to rewrite and intensely edit to produce their final papers — and considered how the course would impact their futures.

“This has been the quintessential college course. I’ve never taken anything like it,” said Gaines, who is majoring in history with a minor in sociology. “This skill set I think we have all gained through this course, both the collaboration in class and the research outside of class — I’d never left the library to do research, and I didn’t really know how to do that. For me, that is really a valuable asset as I get ready to leave college.”

Studdard, an American studies and biology double major, spoke of how she had been too excited to sleep the night before, and how she cried hugging Williams at the cemetery.

“She was so thankful and it is not really something I did; it is something we all did,” she said. “I think it has really been good for her to see someone else take an interest in it, and I’m really glad she let us take on so much of it and personalize it.”

Li said the class helped solidify her desire for a career in journalism after she completes her majors in creative writing and environmental science.

“This course definitely cemented my interest in learning, writing about and bringing life to people’s stories, especially stories that haven’t been shared enough, especially if they are so important,” she said.

For Baker, who is majoring in biology with a minor in history, meeting Williams made it “even more important that we get to the truth and be accurate, because this is someone’s life we are dealing with. It’s not just a history textbook.

“It made a difference to somebody, and that is always nice to feel at the end of the day — to feel like you helped someone heal, and I don’t think I have ever been able to say that before,” she said. “I want to be a doctor, so to be doing it in a different way, doing it spiritually instead of physically — that feels nice.”

Husain, a political science major with a minor in French, placed the case in its larger historical context.

“Isaiah Nixon represented so many people, so raising awareness about his story is so important,” she said. “But there is also this much broader issue of all of these murders that happened in the 1940s and since then, and that are continuing today, so contributing to that bigger picture was just incredible.”

“Of course, what the students discovered is important,” Klibanoff explained. “But just as important is what they learned.”


For complete articles and photograph – click HERE

Smithsonian’s Black History Museum to Get $10 Million Gift

Associated Press- Washington- January 20 2016

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is getting a $10 million gift.

The Smithsonian announced Wednesday that philanthropist David Rubenstein is making the donation to the capital campaign for the museum, set to open in September. He also is loaning the museum two documents signed by President Abraham Lincoln: the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, is a Smithsonian Board of Regents’ executive committee member and co-chair of the institution’s $1.5 billion national fundraising campaign. He now has contributed a total of $44.7 million to the institution.

With the gift, the museum’s fundraising has reached $252 million of its $270 million goal. The Smithsonian is raising half of the construction and exhibition funds, and Congress funded the other half.


CAFG- 2016 Forensic Institute

Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy

The 2016 Forensic Institute has moved! It will be held from Thursday – Saturday, 10-12 March 2016 at the historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The hotel is adjacent to the Alamo, the River Walk, excellent restaurants, and many other exciting and unique San Antonio attractions.

The Institute starts with a two special courses on Thursday, 10 March 2016:

** In the morning, a four-hour marketing workshop presented
by Marian Pierre-Louis
** In the afternoon, a four-hour forensic genealogy business
workshop presented by Michael S. Ramage, J.D., CG

The Advanced DNA Practicum for Unknown Parentage course will be taught by CeCe Moore and Bethany Waterbury, DVM.  The two-day course, Friday-Saturday, 11-12 March 2016, will be a hands-on two-day workshop especially designed for those who have had experience with DNA analysis and are looking to add to their skills. Please see our website for the prerequisites for this course.

If you know anyone that wishes to advance their forensic genealogy skills and are not yet qualified to take an advanced DNA Course, there is an alternate track offered on Friday and Saturday, 11-12 March 2016:

** Friday: a hands-on forensic genealogy practicum by
Michael S. Ramage, J.D., CG
** Saturday: a beginning DNA Course taught by
Debbie Parker Wayne, CG

Both tracks have limited seating. For more information about FGI 2016, registration, the courses, and the Menger Hotel, visit the CAFG website at http://www.forensicgenealogists.org/institute/. Questions about the 2016 Forensic Genealogy Institute may be sent to FGI Director Helen Haldeman Daglas at institute@forensicgenealogists.org.

Southern Historical Press

Did you know –

Southern Historical Press has a bargain basement!

Southern Historical Press Bargain Basement

You may find a great deal for a book on your wish list –

Here’s a couple of the bargains listed:

Georgia Salzburger and Allied Families – $65.00  marked down to $32.50

Huguenot Emigration to America (2 volumes in 1) $75.00 marked down t0 $45.00

Supplies are limited!!



Board for Certification of Genealogists announcement

For Immediate Release, Board for Certification of Genealogists

18 January 2016
BCG today released a 2016 edition of the BCG Application Guide. The new guide implements two changes for initial applicants approved by the board last May. Two clarifications address common problems in new portfolios.
The most significant change will see applicants evaluated on their genealogically related educational activities. Initial applicants have long been asked to describe the activities that helped them prepare for certification but only now will this information be evaluated. The new practice is meant to stress the importance of development activities as these have been statistically shown to increase an applicant’s chances of attaining certification.
The second change limits the size of new applications to 150 pages. The new limit more realistically portrays the amount of material an applicant will need to prepare than did the two-pound limit it replaces. A related change limits Requirement 7, the kinship-determination project, to three generations. Applicants were previously allowed to submit additional generations if they wished, but extra generations are invariably more than judges need for evaluation purposes.
One of two clarifications addresses Requirement 5, the research report prepared for another person. Applicants submit many types of projects for this requirement, including genealogies, biographical narratives, case studies, and lineage-society applications. However, the application guide specifically requests a research report, not other types of commissioned projects. The 2016 guide makes this point clear.
The new guide also clarifies the request for a research question that is part of BCG’s two document work assignments, Requirements 3 and 4. Many applicants submit broad multipart questions that are too poorly framed to meet genealogical standards and that impede their ability to show evidence-evaluation and research-planning skills. The new application guide specifies that a “single” question be supplied.
BCG today also released a revised set of new-application rubrics. Several rubrics have been reworked to more clearly reflect evaluation criteria. Like the application guide’s clarification affecting the document work, two of those changes clarify the importance of Standard 10 and the need for research to address focused questions.
None of the changes affect renewal portfolios.
The new guide and rubrics can be downloaded from BCG’s website. The guide is available at http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2016.pdf <http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2016.pdf>. The rubrics are available athttp://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGNewAppRubrics2016.pdf <http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGNewAppRubrics2016.pdf>.

No more burials at Rest Haven- Alpharetta

Actual Factual Georgia: No more burials at Rest Haven

Andy Johnston for the AJC – 18 January 2016


Q: No one seems to know who owns the burial plots in the cemetery in downtown Alpharetta. I want to know if I can buy one. Who has the plot list of owners and are there any plots available for sale?

—Steve Beecham, Milton

A: There appears to be room for additional graves in Alpharetta’s historic Rest Haven Cemetery, but no plots are for sale.

Simply put, city officials and historians don’t know where all of the bodies are buried.

The cemetery dates to the 1860s, the Alpharetta Historical Society’s Connie Mashburn said, and many records have been lost or destroyed through the years.

Other graves are unmarked, which means any digging could disturb someone’s final resting place.

“Plots are not available for purchase for a number of reasons, most important of which, being that we cannot say for certain that our burial records are exhaustive and we would not want to re-sell an occupied plot,” city clerk Coty Thigpen said.

Prominent citizen Arthur Camp originally donated land for the cemetery more than 150 years ago. The city was incorporated in 1858 in what was then-Milton County.

Through the years, other land owners contributed property to the Rest Haven, which increased its size, Mashburn said.

The city, which owns and maintains Rest Haven, knows of at least 1,400 people who are buried there, but he said there’s a part of the cemetery where “there are no grave markers.”

Rest Haven, which is sometimes spelled Resthaven (“I’ve used it both ways,” Mashburn said.) takes a starring role in the city’s annual “Restless in Resthaven” tours, a guided event every fall.

Former citizens played by costumed actors stroll downtown and “rise from their gravesites” to talk about Alpharetta’s history.

Those buried in Rest Haven include: Teasley Upshaw, a former mayor; B-17 pilot Isham Oliver Teasley, who was killed over Italy in World War II; Civil War veteran James M. Dodd, who owned the Dodd Hotel (which was about a block from the cemetery); Mary Camp Manning, who along with her brother sold the land that became Alpharetta; Dr. Oliver P. Skelton, who helped save Milton County records during the Civil War by carrying them to Elberton; Nannie Hayes Teasley, Alpharetta’s first postmistress; and businessman Quilley Wills, who sold the land to Fulton County that became Wills Park.

“The cemetery is a who’s who of early Alpharetta,” Mashburn said. “It’s a history lesson just to walk through it.”