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 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.)