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.

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.