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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.

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.
Category: Daily Themes, Family History, Middlebrooks    Tags:

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.

 

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

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.

Once again I am inspired by my genea-friend Luckie Daniels and her recent post on – 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”?

Wordless Wednesday- "Miles & son John"

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.

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.

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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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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)!

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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!!

Category: Taliaferro, Toliver    Tags: , ,

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
Category: John Lawrence Taliaferro, Taliaferro    Tags: ,