Researching in Georgia - Taliaferro, Toliver, Lawrence, Brewer, Askew, Dorsey, Jackson, Poole, Butler, Allen, Gilbert, Crawford, Middlebrooks, Gates, Parks, Thompson, Alford, Favors, Guise, and related surnames.

23 December 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Mama On Christmas Day

This is my first Christmas without my mother. I miss my mom more than word can ever express, but I have promised myself that I will not be sad and weepy, and that I will enjoy Christmas as I know she would want me to.  My brother Bernard and I will be spending the day at my cousin's house.  All of the Middlebrooks family here in Atlanta will be there, and I know my mama's spirit will be there with us.

My mother did not like to have her picture taken.  It was extremely difficult to get her in front of a camera so I have very few photos of her.  This is one I have of her from a Christmas long, long ago. It did not have a date on it, but look at that tree... my "go go" boots there on the floor...and where in the world did she get those eyeglasses!! There are tears in my eyes, but a big smile on my face and a warm feeling of love in my heart. Merry Christmas mama.  I miss you.

06 December 2009

Sentimental Sunday & Monday Madness - Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

Researching my family history is a very emotional experience for me, as I’m sure it is for many researchers. Each newly discovered piece of information fills in another piece of the puzzle, but also presents you with more questions and creates even more empty spaces in that puzzle that is your family tree. Our family stories need to be told, and we were chosen by our ancestors to do just that...tell their stories. It is imperative that we record and preserve our family history. No one said it would be easy, but it is necessary. There are highs and lows, jackpot days and empty days, and many brick walls to tackle. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I love it all.  Sometimes, however, I can't help but wonder about the things I'll never find, and....

Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

For all the brick walls I’ll never break through
For all the documents I’ll never find
For all the burned courthouses where ashes held the answers I seek
For all the times no one took the time to write it down
For all those known only by their sex, age and race
For all those that died before anyone knew they were ever alive
For all those who survived with no clues left to trace
For all the photos with no name, date, or place
For all the lost memories, and those too ugly to share
For all the unidentifiable and unmarked graves
For all the cemeteries too unimportant to save
For all those ancestors I'll never know
For all those I find, but can’t prove they are mine....

Some Days I Just Wanna Cry!

[Image Source: Blue Monday. Artist: Annie Lee]

29 November 2009

Sentimental Sunday-Family Reunion

This is a photo of my MIDDLEBROOKS family taken one Christmas in the mid to late 1960's. Whenever I look at this picture it makes me smile and warms my heart. It makes me long for a FAMILY REUNION. When I was a little girl, we would go down to my mother’s hometown of Woodbury, GA in Meriwether County for Homecoming Sunday. Other than the vague memories of these events, I don’t recall attending a family reunion. One of my greatest desires is to have a TALIAFERRO family reunion. I’m talking about an “official” family reunion- meet and greet, cookout at the park, tee shirts, family worship-a weekend of family fun and fellowship. My brother and cousins tell me there has never been a TALIAFERRO Family Reunion. The idea has been bounced around, but no one has actually taken the initiative and put one together. Maybe that someone will be me.

25 November 2009

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY SURPRISE-The Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility, Atlanta, GA-Circa 1924

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots has given me a wonderful Thanksgiving surprise. Today in my email were pictures of the Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility. This is one of those photos. Luckie has been assisting me in obtaining information on the factory where my ancestor David Toliver (aka David Taliaferro) worked as a barrel maker or “cooper” for the Coca-Cola Company here in Atlanta, GA. I don’t know what years David worked as a cooper for the Coca-Cola Company, or how long he was employed there; the 1910 census indicates that David was working for a cooperage company, and his 1951 death certificate indicates that he was a cooper for the “CoCola Co”.  I don't know if David is among the employees pictured here. I’d like to think that he is. I hope to find more evidence to connect David with the Coca-Cola company, and his work as a cooper. In the mean time, I am blissfully happy and thankful to have these photos.

Luckie and Phil Mooney, the Director of Heritage Communications at the Coca-Cola Company, have come through big time with this one. I cannot thank them enough for this glimpse into my ancestor’s past.

[Image Source: Coca-Cola Archives; courtesy of Phil Mooney, Director of Heritage Communications; email from Luckie Daniels to Sandra Taliaferro, 25 November 2009.]

24 November 2009

Lizzie - Mother of John Wesley Taliaferro

Every Saturday Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings presents Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. The topic for Saturday, November 21, 2009, was “Who Is Your MRUA”. I’m a few days late, but here goes. The mission:

1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.
2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed?
3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?
4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

Lizze was the mother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro. I know this because in his biography my grandfather, John Robert Taliaferro, said his grandparents were Miles and Lizzie Taliaferro; there was no surname for Lizzie. He also indicated that Miles and Lizzie were both born in Georgia. However, this may not be accurate. My research indicates that Miles was actually born in North Carolina, so it’s possible that Lizzie was born elsewhere as well. I do know that John Wesley was born in Georgia about 1844. By the 1870 census, John Wesley was married to Martha Jane Dorsey, and living right next door was his father Miles and wife “Mary” along with three children. Mary was born about 1835 in Georgia, but of course was too young to be “Lizzie” mother of John Wesley. In an 1856 Inventory and Appraisement for the Estate of Richard Taliaferro of Fulton County, Georgia, there is listed among the slaves- “Miles and son John” - there was no Lizzie.

I believe that Lizzie was probably dead by the time of this inventory. Of course, I cannot rule out the possibility that Lizzie had been sold to another owner. The thought that John Wesley could have been separated from his mother in that way makes me sad beyond words. I am still searching for any earlier Taliaferro slave records that might name Lizzie, and give some clues to her family, but so far I have not had any luck. Since I bellieve that Lizzie died (or was sold) sometime before the 1856 inventory, I need to look for records prior to that date. Prior to 1852 Fulton County was a part of Dekalb County which suffered courthouse fires in 1842 and 1898. There may be no extant records. Unfortunately, I may never find any information about Lizzie- mother of John Wesley Taliaferro.

17 November 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Another Rock Springs Cemetery...The Search Continues

These are photos of the cemetery at Rock Springs Baptist Church located in McDonough, Henry Co., GA. This is an active African American Church and Cemetery. Sadly, there are numerous graves marked only with stones, others with unreadable funeral home markers and, of course, many with no markers at all.

My search for the burial place of my great grandfather, John Wesley Taliaferro, has become somewhat of an obsession. I have this nagging feeling that just will not go away; I know that cemetery is out there somewhere just waiting for me to find it. My ancestors' Taliaferro slave owners and their collateral families lived and owned land in the McDonough, Henry Co., GA area along Jonesboro Road. Some of my ancestors were born in Henry Co., and many lived on Jonesboro Road, so this cemetery was a real possibility for the burial place of my ancestors. Unfortunately, the transcription for this cemetery did not contain the names of any of my ancestors. Other than the cemetery transcription, I have not found any records on the church or cemetery. A trip to the Georgia Archives did not produce any additional information. I am searching for something to connect my Taliaferro ancestors to this church/cemetery.

In September 2009, I posted Tombstone Tuesday - Rock Springs Cemetery...Not. My brother Bernard and I thought we had found “the” Rock Springs Cemetery, but we were wrong. According to their death certificates, John Wesley, his brother Bob Toliver (aka Robert Taliaferro), and another relative Alex Poole (exact relationship undetermined) were buried at Rock Springs Cemetery. Recently, I discovered that several of their neighbors were also buried there; they are Ison Wilson, Robert Wilson and William Wilson. I’m not sure if my Taliaferros are related to these Wilsons, but you know I’m checking into that as well. So far I have found six people who are buried at Rock Springs Cemetery, including my ancestors.

Unintentionally, I think I have made finding this cemetery, and honoring all those who are buried there, one of my research goals. It just doesn’t seem right that these six people, and probably many others are buried in this cemetery and no one knows (or cares) where it is, or who they are. I hope to find out. Wish me luck in my quest.

14 November 2009


I got this idea for my first SURNAME SATURDAY post from my friend Gini over at Ginisology.  Gini credits Cindy of Everything's Relative for turning her on to this fun way to display surnames.  My thanks to both of them for this great idea. I played with it for a while before I could get TALIAFERRO to show up large enough to suit me.  Turns out TALIAFERRO (my paternal surname) and  MIDDLEBROOKS (my maternal surname) ended up with each other in the bottom right hand corner. How cool is that!! Give it a try.  It's fun!

13 November 2009

The Kreativ Blogger Award -Thanks, Gini

Gini, my new genea-friend over at Ginisology, recently gifted me with a Kreativ Blogger Award.  What a surprise! As newbie to the world of blogging I am truly touched, and feel honored that Gini thought of me and my blog for this award. I don’t post everyday, or even every week for that matter, so it’s nice to know that when I do someone is enjoying what I write. Gini is really great, and I appreciate this honor.  Thank you so much!!
The winner of the award has to list seven things about themselves and then pass the award along to seven other bloggers.

Here are seven thing about me:

1. I grew up as an only child. I was always a little jealous of my friends who had big families with lots of brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. My family has never had a family reunion and that makes me really sad. Maybe I should take on the task of organizing our first family reunion. I keep thinking if it’s gonna happen, I’ll have to do it.

2. I did not know I had a brother until 2005. Now my brother, Bernard, is my soul mate and my best friend.

3. I love music (oldies..did someone say Motown...The Temptin’ Temptations), books, Food TV, reality shows, and animals. My dog Savannah is my baby girl.

4. My idea of a perfect day would be fishing and relaxing at a lake in the country. Yes fishing!! Yes, in the country. My brother says the "fishing" part comes natural..our daddy did, and our granny and uncle too. We're still trying to figure out the "country" part because I'm a real city girl.

5. My life has been richly blessed with loyal and wonderful friends. I believe family and friends are two of the most important things in life.

6. I tend to be shy and alooft. People sometimes interpret that as meanness, but I really am a very nice person.

7. Researching my family history takes up most of my spare time. I can’t wait til retirement so that I can spend more time at the Georgia Archives researching.

Pass the award along to seven other bloggers.

Boy, this is a tough task. Every blogger has their own unique Kreativ style. Surely, there are many deserving bloggers out there that I have yet to discover. This time, however, I am breaking with tradition, and spreading the Kreativ Blog love to two very deserving bloggers. (Does this mean I still have five more to pass on later? Hope so.)

My selections are:

Into the light (formerly Just Thinking) - Renate

My Nola Heritage Felicia Mathis

Please visit these blogs often and enjoy the family stories and research that they share with their readers.

08 November 2009

Blogger’s Block

I am struggling trying to write something to post here on my blog. After only a few months since the debut of my blog, I have Blogger’s Block. I am in a writer’s rut; I am experiencing brain freeze. It is not for a lack of research problems that's for sure. My research is surrounded by brick walls with no signs of a breakthrough. Every corner I turn is a dead end. As a blogger, I am lost in a sea of bloggers who always seem to have something to say and write about. I am inspired by their words, but can find no inspiration of my own. I am a writer with no words; an editor with nothing to edit. I am a perfectionist with nothing to perfect. I am a blogger with nothing to blog. I have Blogger’s Block.

Yesterday I read, The Value of Networking with your Peers, the discussion started by Angela Walton-Raji in African Ancestored Genealogy on Genealogy Wise. Angela urged us to network, to find mentors among ourselves, and challenged us to become experts in our own area of research. I am inspired and motivated by her words. Over at Our Georgia Roots, my friend Luckie Daniels’ latest post, So Thankful..., was both moving and inspirational. I am thankful to call Luckie a friend; I am always encouraged by her words and research knowledge. Felicia at My Nola Heritage is hot on the trail of something big, and I am anxiously awaiting her news. Felicia has been relentless in her search for the slave owner of her Georgia ancestors. I am inspired by her tenacity. Michael Hait has taken on the challenge of putting up at least one post a day during the month of November. Michael’s African American Genealogical Examiner articles are always well-written and informative; his tips inspire me to become a better researcher and to view sources with a more informed and analytical eye. Renate of Into The Light (formerly Just Thinking), another new kid on the blog scene, is moving to another level in her research and blogging, and thus, was inspired to give her blog a new name. All of them and many others inspire and motivate me with their words and their dedication to genealogy. I read, I learn, I absorb, and I am INSPIRED.

I know this is not a permanent state - This Too Shall Pass. My research continues- the brick walls will fall, the ideas will form, and the words will return. In the meantime, I am still here and loving every minute of the journey. I will not be defeated by Blogger’s Block.

31 October 2009

Taliaferros Sign Petition For New District

Proximity of polling place to residence plays a vital role in voter turnout. My voting precinct just happens to be right around the corner from my house in easy walking distance. But, for many of our ancestors such convenience was not the case.
In a September 11, 1881, issue of The Atlanta Constitution, a legal notice from Fulton County, GA, addressing the Commissioners of Roads and Revenues, contained a petition signed by citizens of old Blackhall district asking the Commissioners to sustain the new district laid out by the ordinary of said county. The petitioners were also seeking to have laid out another new district and requested that three commissioners be appointed to lay out the district. The first two names on the petition were S. M. Taliaferro and E.M. Taliaferro. They were Edward Mobley Taliaferro, former slaveholder of my Taliaferro ancestors, and his son Samuel Mobley Taliaferro. Also among the signers were my great, great grandfather Miles Taliaferro, and his sons John Wesley Taliaferro (my great grandfather), and Alex Taliaferro.

Edward Mobley Taliaferro was one of the three commissioners appointed to lay out the new district. Two of the commissioners, Samuel Hape and T.A. Poole, objected to the new district stating it would be "a matter of public inconvenience"; they gave their recommendation for a change in the lines between the two districts. Edward Taliaferro disagreed with his fellow commissioners stating "I beg leave to report that, in my opinion, it is the wish of a majority of the people of said part of the county, and it would certainly be to their convenience to have a district laid off,...." and he went on to give his recommendation for the lines of the district. Taliaferro further stated "[t]he reasons for wanting a [n]ew district are that a majority of the voters and the people are remote from the places of holding court and voting, to wit: East Point and West End." The Commissioners approved the new district as recommended by Edward Taiaferro. The new district was known as South Bend district. My research shows that my ancestors and many of their relatives lived in this South Bend district.

One can only speculate as to the reasons why Commissioners Hape and Poole objected to the formation of the new district, or why Edward Taliaferro did not side with his fellow commissioners. The politics of this would surely make interesting reading. Considering the time period, a trip from South Bend to either East Point or West End was probably more than a mere "inconvenience". Realistically, the eventual formation of this new district was probably not for the convenience of my ancestors and their African American contemporaries. Nonetheless, I cannot help but feel a certain sense of pride knowing that my people were actively participating in this process during a time when I am sure they continued to face many of the injustices of that era.

**Click on image to enlarge.

Source:The Atlanta Constitution, 11 September 1881, p.5, digital image, ( : accessed 31 October 2009).

24 October 2009

Alexander “Alex” Taliaferro - Running A Blind Tiger

In genealogy we research to find out the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Those are the basics. But, if you are like me, you often wonder what everyday life was like for your ancestors. What did they do; where did they go; and who did they see. We know that they had to work and take care of their families; deal with the struggles of day-to-day living. Of course, many attended church and school, and were probably involved in community activities. I am in constant search of anything that can shed more light on the daily life of my ancestors, and their extracurricular activities. I have found that historical newspapers are an excellent source for conducting this type of research. You never know what you might find.....and, as they say, be careful what you ask for.

A few days ago while on, I came across this interesting notice in the March 24, 1902, issue of the Atlanta Constitution:

My Taliaferro ancestors have a history in East Point, GA. The WHERE of this story fit with my research facts. Alexander "Alex" Taliaferro was my great, great uncle; son of Miles Taliaferro, my great, great grandfather; brother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro; uncle of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro; and great uncle to my father John Lawrence Taliaferro. Alex was born about 1858 in Fulton, GA, and died sometime after this 1902 incident, probably in or close to East Point, GA. That’s the WHO and WHEN. But, WHAT in the world was a "blind tiger" and WHY was Uncle Alex running one?

I had never heard or seen the term "running a blind tiger" before. A quick search on Google revealed the following definitions: Blind Tiger - a place where illegal intoxicants were sold; Running a blind tiger - selling liquor without a license. So, now I have the WHAT. Uncle Alex and his buddies were selling liquor, illegally!!!! As the old folks say..they were running a liquor house. That really cracks me up, especially considering his brother John Wesley and his nephew John Robert were ministers.

All that remains unanswered is the WHY. Why was Uncle Alex selling illegal liquor? Was this a way to make extra money? Probably. Was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Maybe, but maybe not. Or, were dear Uncle Alex and his cohorts just up to no good? Possibly. I wonder if I can find out the outcome of the case. Like so many other questions in genealogical research, the WHY will unfortunately probably remain unanswered. At least I know something about one day in the life of my great, great uncle..Alexander "Alex" Taliaferro. I think I’ll go and have a glass of wine (or two) in honor of Uncle Alex!!

14 October 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Another Unknown Middlebrooks?...Maybe, Maybe Not

This photo was in a scrapbook passed on to me by my cousin earlier this year. He is another unknown relative from my maternal Middlebrooks line of Meriwether County, GA. Or, maybe he isn't- Unknown.

Several relatives, including myself, believe that he may be Gordon R. Middlebrooks born about September 1897 in Woodbury, Meriwether, GA to Sudie Parks and Alexander Middlebrooks. Gordon died in Atlanta, Fulton, GA 31 July 1948. I have only found evidence of Gordon in two documents; his 12 September 1918, WW I Draft Registration Card, and his 1948 GA death certificate. Seems strange; he indicated on his draft registration card that his residence was Woodbury, GA; he was a farmer and was working for Alex Middlebrooks; and he listed Sudie Middlebrooks as his nearest relative. I have not found a Gordon Middlebrooks listed on any census with his parents Alex and Sudie. However, I do find a "Brooks" L. Middlebrooks, also born about September 1897 with parents Alex and Sudie in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census. Recently, after learning of Gordon from my cousin, it occurred to me that Brooks and Gordon might very well be the same person!! Other than census records, I cannot find any documents for a Brooks Middlebrooks. Seems strange since he is so prominent in the census records. I believe that "Brooks" was probably a nickname for "Gordon". I'm still working on this one, including getting a copy of Gordon's 1948 death certificate to confirm his parents were Alex and Sudie.

04 October 2009


I'll always love my mama
She's my favorite girl
I'll always love my mama
She brought me in this world

My mother, LILLIAN MIDDLEBROOKS, was born December 7, 1916, in Woodbury, Meriwether County, GA. She passed on Sunday, September 27, 2009, at age 92. It was my birthday.

A mother's loves so special
It's something that you can't describe
It's the kind of love that stays with you
Until the day you die
She taught me little things
Like saying hello, and thank you, please
While scrubbing those floors on her bended knees

My mama was an incredible woman. As a child I did not want for anything. Yes, you would probably consider me "spoiled" as they say. As a child I took all of those things for granted; as an adult I realize they were the product of my mama’s love, devotion, and hard work-sometimes two jobs. Many years ago, I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed. In the years that followed, my mama was my primary caregiver. Her strength, determination, and encouragement gave me the strength, determination, and courage I needed to continue my education, graduate from college, and pursue a career. I am the person I am today because of my mama.

In 1991, my mama suffered a stroke, and our roles reversed; I was now responsible for ensuring that both of us had the care we needed to continue to live our lives in our home with minimal disruption. In dealing with the various local and state agencies I realized that now I was considered the primary caregiver for my mama. I refused to put my mama in a nursing facility, as many suggested over the years. It was not even a consideration, just as she had not considered putting me in a facility after my accident. My mama was a proud lady, and continued to do most things for herself. Despite the stroke, she was still an independent and strong woman determined not to let being confined to a wheelchair confine her spirit. I believe I possess those same qualities.

In early September 2009 my mama was hospitalized. Her health had been rapidly declining over the past few months and her dementia was also getting worse. When it was time for her to leave the hospital the doctors recommended a nursing facility and hospice care. My mama was leaving me and I could see it. She stopped eating, was barely taking any liquids, and almost never opened her eyes. Over the last two weeks, I do not think she knew I was there, or maybe she did. I pray she did. Early on Sunday, September 27, 2009, I got the call that we should plan to come as soon as possible-things were not looking good- my mama was beginning her transition. It was my birthday.

My brother Bernard by my side we sat there with my mama-waiting, crying, praying. Bernard has been and continues to be my rock and my comforter. God knew that I would need someone, and placed him in my life so that he would be here when I needed him most. Sitting there at her bedside, I had a nagging feeling that my mama needed to hear something before she could leave this world behind and claim the peace she deserved-she needed to know that her baby girl was going to be okay....and so we told her that I was fine; Bernard told her that he would take good care of me and not to worry. I told her that I was fine and that I loved her...she closed her eyes and was gone. Gone from this world, but not from my heart. My mama was an incredible woman....

(Talking 'bout mama)
Oh, she's one of a kind
(Talking 'bout mama)
You got yours, and I got mine
(Talking 'bout mama)
Hey mama, Hey mama,
My heart belongs to you
Oh, yeah
I'll always love my mama, yeah
She's my favorite girl
You only get one
You only get one, yeah
I'll always love my mama
She brought me in this world

Talking 'bout mama..

I'll Always Love My Mama

(I’ll Always Love My Mama, Lyrics: Kenneth Gamble / Leon Huff / Gene McFadden / John Whitehead / Victor Carstarphen. Song:The Intruders - 1973.)

23 September 2009

John Robert Taliaferro - The Whole Story

Last week for Wordless Wednesday I posted a picture of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro with the following source note: From: Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed., History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition (Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co.,1917), 353 It did not occur to me to post the entire article from the book because it was "Wordless" Wednesday. My intention was only to give credit for the source of the photo.

Well, several people were curious and actually googled the book and read the entire feature. My friend over at Our Georgia Roots, encouraged me to step outside the box, make my own rules, and write as much as I want or need to write regardless of theme. Luckie continues to inspire me to become a better researcher, and to be more diligent in documenting my family history. So, I decided to post the entire biography of John Robert Taliaferro from the book History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition. The book features African Americans who were making significant contributions to their communities, and who otherwise may not have been recognized or even known. As the title implies, there were also editions for other states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. There were a total of seven volumes the Georgia edition was two volumes. If you had ancestors in any of these states, I would encourage you to seek out these books. Unfortunately, the books are very rare and not readily available. The Georgia edition has been digitized and is available online.

The article on my grandfather was sent to me by my cousin back in 2005. It was her way of sharing some family history with me. Thinking back on my first reading of the article, I felt as if I was sitting at my grandfather's feet listening to him give me an account of his life up to that point in time. I was AMAZED at the amount of history on those few pages. A researcher’s dream!! I am posting the scanned pages from the original book a copy of which is in the possession of my cousin. It is literally falling apart, but is still a treasured family heirloom.

**Note: Click on each page image to enlarge.

Wordless Wednesday- Middlebrooks or Parks?

I found this photo in my mom's dresser drawer. I believe she is from my maternal line; either a Middlebrooks or Parks. I don't know who she is, but I see a lot of living and wisdom in her face. I wish I knew her name.

20 September 2009

Black Sheep Sunday - William "Uncle Bill" Middlebrooks

The older gentleman on the left in this photo is my maternal great uncle William Middlebrooks, born circa September 1894 in Woodbury, Meriwether County, GA. Uncle Bill was a real character; suave and debonair- a gambler, a fighter, a drinker. Uncle Bill didn't take NO mess. As the story goes, Uncle Bill had to flee his home in Woodbury under the "cloak of darkness". Family tradition says he was in an "altercation" with a white man over a pair of shoes, and was smuggled out of town with the sheriff "hot on his trail". He was first taken to Griffin, GA, but eventually made his way to Chicago where he changed his name to Bill Sutton. He later returned to Georgia where he died in August 1977.

16 September 2009

Wordless Wednesday "John Robert Taliaferro"

From: Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed., History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition (Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co.,1917), 353

15 September 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Rock Springs Cemetery...Not!

I have been searching for the burial place of my great grandfather, John Wesley Taliaferro, for months. According to his death certificate John Wesley is buried in Rock Springs Cemetery. Also buried there is his brother Bob Toliver and another relative Alex Poole. This summer I thought I had found Rock Springs Cemetery at the end of a residential street off Old Jonesboro Road in Clayton County, GA. Many of my relatives lived along Jonesboro Road. Someone who has lived in the area for a long time even stated that it was Rock Springs Cemetery. Boy, was I excited. So, my brother walked around and snapped some pictures. Unfortunately, there were no names that I recognized. Also, many of the graves were marked only with stones. Since then further research indicates that this is not Rock Springs Cemetery, but Elam Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery. I have also been told that there are probably no African American graves at this cemetery. I’m still researching, and continue my search for Rock Springs Cemetery.

12 September 2009

Where’s YOUR Family “STUFF”?

Once again I am inspired by my genea-friend Luckie Daniels and her recent post on Our Georgia Roots - What Is YOUR Family Story? Learn-Document-SHARE! Luckie challenged all of us to become better preservers of OUR family history. I believe that preservation has to start with us. WE must become better keepers of OUR family "STUFF".

I cannot tell you how many times I've asked family members for information (stories, pictures, documents..anything) only to be told...girl, I don't have any "stuff", or honey I just don't remember any of that old "stuff", or (my favorite) child, I don't know what happened to all that old "stuff". I’m sure you’ve heard similar responses to your requests for family information. Well, that "stuff" was/is your family history. We can't get angry with anyone but OURSELVES if WE don't start taking better care of OUR "stuff".

I remember calling my Auntie Ruth one day and asking what she was doing. She said "just throwing away some old stuff." This is my aunt on my paternal side, my father’s sister, so of course I was very curious about this "stuff". "What kind of stuff" I asked. She replied "oh just some old pictures and things." "NO" I screamed. After some back and forth, I convinced her to dig the pieces of "stuff" out of the trash and save it all for me. A few days later, I received an envelope in the mail. Inside that envelope was some very precious family "stuff" torn into pieces. I was able to piece together and save a picture of my grandmother, and a photo of my father and his brother taken about 1925 when they were little boys. There were also a few pictures of my Auntie Ruth in her younger days. A special piece of "stuff" was my aunt’s high school diploma-torn in half. My aunt had told me the story of how when she was in high school she gave herself a middle name because everyone had one except her. So now I have the high school diploma for Ruth "Louise" Taliaferro. I am so happy that I made that call at that time and saved some of my family "STUFF".

For the majority of African Americans our ancestors' stories were never told, recorded or preserved. It is an awful and frustrating reality. However, it will be even more awful if we do not stop the cycle of indifference and disinterest in our own family history. Let's all do a better job of telling our ancestors' stories-of keeping and preserving our family history. Let’s all do a better job of preserving, recording, documenting, and sharing our "STUFF" for our ancestors, ourselves, and more importantly, for our future.

So, my question to you....Where’s YOUR Family "STUFF"?

07 September 2009

Madness Monday-Miles From Miles

Miles Taliaferro (aka Miles Toliver) was my paternal great, great grandfather. Although Miles is the Taliaferro I know the least about, I feel a certain closeness to him that I cannot explain.

Miles was probably born in North Carolina circa 1824. Miles died sometime after October 1881. I have no reason to believe he died any place other than GA. However, there are other possible places of birth- Georgia and South Carolina. On the 1870 census Miles was born in GA. On the 1880 census Miles was born in NC, and so were both of his parents. The 1870 Voter Registration List for Fulton County also indicates that Miles was born in NC. The 1880 and 1900 census enumerations for Miles’ son, John Wesley Taliaferro, show his father was born in NC; in 1910 it was SC; and in 1920 it was GA. I think GA is the least likely of the three. I think NC is probably where Miles was born, but I cannot place him there. I think I can place Miles in SC with a former slave owner and relative of his last slave owners in GA, Richard Taliaferro and his son Edward Mobley Taliaferro.

Edward Mobley Taliaferro was the son of Richard Taliaferro and Susan Mobley. They were all born in SC. Susan’s father was Edward Mobley of Chester District, SC. In 1838 Edward Mobley made a will which included bequeaths for a large number of slaves, but there was no slave named Miles. Some months later in 1839, Edward Mobley made a second will. This will is almost identical to the first will with the exception that it contains some additional slaves-among them one slave named "Miles" valued at $775.00. (My Miles would have been about 15yrs old). The last section of the will states in part "And whereas the above legacies is in Lieu of all right title and interest to any part of the Estate of Ephrain M Mobley Deceased ...." Because of this statement, I believe that the additional slaves in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will probably came from the estate of this Ephrain M Mobley.

The estate packet for Edward Mobley that I ordered from the SC Archives did not contain a final distribution of slaves by name. I have not been able to locate a will for an Ephrain/Ephraim M. Mobley in either SC or GA. I don’t know who he is, or how he was related to the Mobley family. Maybe he is the NC connection. I found an Ephriam Mobley who was living in Henry County, GA in 1830, and he does not show up in the 1840 census. I found no will for an Eprhain/Ephraim Mobley there or in any of the surrounding counties. I believe he may be the key to tracking down info on the additional slaves named in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will.

A copy of Edward Mobley’s will was filed in Dekalb County, GA. Maybe a copy of the Ephrain M Mobley will was also filed there, but I may never know for sure. Dekalb is a burned county; there were courthouse fires in 1842 and 1898. If my worst fears are realized, any evidence that would assist me in proving or disproving this "Miles" as my "Miles" went up in smoke many, many years ago in that 1842 fire. For all my research thus far, I am still Miles from Miles.

04 September 2009

A Family Keepsake, Census Records and Message Boards Help Connect The Past To The Present.

I wrote this a few years ago in response to a request from Ancestry for African American research stories. I thought I would share it here.

I never knew my father. Those words had haunted me for all of my childhood, and most of my adult life. As an African-American, the possibility of tracing my paternal ancestry was never an avenue I thought to pursue with any success. A cursory search on under the surname "Tolbert"did not yield any results that fit the few facts that I had learned over the years. I assumed I would not be able to find anything. On day, while looking through some old photos and papers, I discovered two telegrams dated the day I was born. Both contained the surname "Taliaferro." This triggered something. I had a vague memory of my mother telling me about my birth and the hospital spelling my father's last name incorrectly. I remembered that from an early age, I knew that my father’s correct surname was "Taliaferro" not Tolbert as stated on my birth certificate, and that he pronounced it "Toliver." This, I assumed accounted for the hospital’s mistake. I also knew from conversations with my mother, the names of my father’s mother and his siblings. Armed with these facts and a renewed determination I rejoined and began another search.

This time around, I was able to locate my father with his parents (my grandparents!) and brother and sister in the 1930 census. All the names fit with my information. What a thrill! Searching back, I was able to locate my grandfather and his parents (my great grandparents!) in the 1920, 1910, 1900 and 1880 census records. I also found my great grandparents in the 1870 census. A few households away was another Taliaferro(Toliver) family. Could these be my great, great grandparents? I felt fairly confident that all the relatives I had found so far were my ancestors, but there was no way to connect this last family from the 1870 census to my ancestors.

I turned to the Taliaferro message board on in hopes of finding someone researching my Taliaferros. I went through each message one by one and then......BINGO. Someone was looking for any relatives of my father’s parents. I could not believe my tired eyes. It turns out that this message was posted by my father’s brother’s daughter in June of 1999. (The name fit with one my mother had given me). She was no longer a member of Ancestry. Good luck in finding her, right? Well, I did; right here in the same city where I live. She sent me an article written on our grandfather which confirmed all the names I had found in the census records. This article also confirmed that the male Taliaferro living in the household near my great-grandfather in the 1870 census was, in fact, my great, great-grandfather! I could not have asked for more, but I did get more. After contacting that cousin from the message board, I have a new family from my paternal side; 4 first cousins, an aunt (my father’s sister) and a brother!!!! My quest goes on, but if I find nothing more, it was well worth the hunt (the ancestor hunt that is)!


Since then I have found more information on my Taliaferro ancestors. However, nothing can compare to discovering living relatives, especially my brother. In 2005 I had my name legally changed from Tolbert to Taliaferro. It was a long time coming, but felt so right, so comfortable, so me!!

02 September 2009

Wordless Wednesday

What better subject for my first Wordless Wednesday post than my father-

John Lawrence Taliaferro

Born: 8 February 1921-Cartersville, Bartow, Georgia

Died: 2 January 1970-Decatur, Dekalb, Georgia

31 August 2009

Madness Monday

My first Madness Monday post is a puzzle that has followed me for years.

My gg grandfather was Miles Taliaferro. Miles is a major brick wall and a story I’ll save for another time.

Miles had five sons: John Wesley Taliaferro (my great grandfather), Alexander "Alex" Taliaferro, Robert Taliaferro, David Taliaferro, and Thomas Taliaferro. (Miles also had daughters, but they are not the focus here). At some point, after the 1880 census, Robert and David changed their names; they became Bob Toliver and Dave Toliver. This caused a major brick wall until I got death certificates for Bob Toliver and Dave Toliver that confirmed their father was Miles. (Thomas may have done so as well, but I have no documentation for that if he did). In the 1880 census, Miles and family are right where I expected to find them - Fulton County, GA with the surname spelling I expected - T-A-L-I-A-F-E-R-R-O. The same goes for the 1870 census except there the name is spelled T-O-L-L-I-V-E-R. After 1880, I cannot find any trace of Robert Taliaferro/Bob Toliver or David Taliaferro/Dave Toliver until they show up in the 1910 census; again right where I expected to find them - Fulton County, GA- but now they are Bob TOLIVER and Dave TOLIVER. They are now married with children. A thirty year gap. Darn that 1890 census!!!! (I do have a possibility for Robert in the 1900 census, but can't confirm it's him. This candidate is single and living alone in 1900. In the 1910 census Robert/Bob has children in the household who were born before 1900. I am not sure if these are his children with his wife, or her children from a prior marriage, but something feels "off" about this family.)

Taliaferro is a surname for which the pronunciation and the spelling do not match. Taliaferro is often pronounced tah-li-ver. I know it was pronounced that way by my ancestors, and most likely by their slave owner as well. When Taliaferro is pronounced
tah-li-ver, the spelling can easily change to Toliver or Tolliver. This is probably what happened with Robert/Bob and David/Dave. I wonder what prompted this change to the phonetic spelling? Whether it was a matter of choice or convenience, or some other reason, I’ll probably never know. Interestingly, my great grandfather John Wesley, his son John Robert, and his son John Lawrence (my father) continued the Taliaferro spelling and tah-li-ver pronunciation. My brother and cousin disagree. They say no way can T-a-l-i-a-f-e-r-r-o be pronounced tah-li-ver. So, they both pronounce it tel-i-fer’ro. I switch back and forth depending on my mood. :)

I have searched and searched the 1900 census, page by page and line by line, but I cannot find Robert Taliaferro/Bob Toliver or David Taliaferro/Dave Toliver anywhere. (I’m not sure about Thomas; he may have been otherwise engaged- on "vacation"- I'm still working on him; I have found John Wesley Taliaferro and Alex Tolliver). Robert/Bob died 9 April 1920 and David/Dave died 3 February 1951, in Fulton County, GA. What happened between the 1880 census and the 1910 census? Did they move away; temporarily relocate? Were they missed by the census takers-both of them? I have nothing to lead me to other relatives in another county or state where they may have gone possibly in search of work, or for some other reason. Where were they in 1900?

30 August 2009


Well, here I go; I am finally taking that leap into the world of genealogy blogs. I am Clueless. Over the past months I have come to see genealogy, African American Genealogy in particular, in a whole new light. Who knew all of you were out there, researching and blogging away…I was Clueless. But, I have been following many of you religiously over the past month or so with great interest and delight. Along with researching, reading genealogy blogs became a new favorite pastime. I have been inspired by your words, research techniques, knowledge, willingness to help others and, above all, your desire to tell the stories of your ancestors. Thanks to all of you who are out there sharing your journey. I want to say a special thanks to my "cousin" Luckie Daniels who unknowingly influenced my decision to take this next step in my research. I am totally addicted to your Our Georgia Roots!

Being the ultimate procrastinator I could keep putting this off until the end of time, easily. But, it's time to move forward. September is my birthday month, and just around the corner so what better time is there to step out of my comfort zone, and try something new. It’s not the writing-I’m a paralegal and spend about 90 percent of my day writing so I'm fairly comfortable with pen in hand so to speak. It’s not the sharing-I enjoy taking about my research, exchanging research tips, and sharing with others if I have information they can use. It’s the public aspect-I am no longer quietly lurking in the background throwing in my 0.02 worth every now and then. That was comfortable, and easy. Also, I tend to keep most of the thoughts about my research in my head-not a very good place to be lately, and I know I should write more of it down. However, I had not intended to do it in such a public manner. But, here I am; ready, willing, and able, but Clueless.
I was just as Clueless about my Taliaferro roots when I began researching in 2003. I know more now than I knew then, but there is still much to discover and many more brick walls to break through. I am not as Clueless as I once was, but I am more eager than before to know who "my" Taliaferros were because…..
I Never Knew My Father.