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Minnie Toliver ~ The Rest of Her Story

In February 2010 I wrote about my ancestor Minnie Toliver and a disturbing incident involving her former employer’s children.  If you missed that post you can read it .  I wondered what happened to Minnie, as did others who read the story. Was Minnie arrested and charged? Did she serve any time?  I had no answers.

In the summer of 2010 I was on the phone with a friend, and wishing I could find out more about what happened to Minnie.  The ancestors must have been listening.  At the time I was browsing through the 1900 census for East Point, GA and there two household down from my great grand uncle Alex Tolliver (Taliaferro) was a Minnie Farley with husband James Farley and children Dave, Ida, Viola, and James.  That was Minnie, I just knew it!  The census indicated that Minnie was the mother of five children, but only four were living in 1900.  Minnie and James (or Genes) were married in 1893. (I recently verified this when I found the marriage license for Genes Farley and Minnie Tolliver on Georgia’s Virtual Vault. They were married 3 August 1893.)  I also found Minnie and Genes in the 1910 census in Hapeville, GA and in the 1920 census in South Bend District. These places are areas that my Taliaferro/Toliver ancestors resided in. The 1910 census list Minnie as the mother of eight children with seven living. The other children shown in census records are Luther, Annie/Anna, Junior, and Minnie Lee.  I have not located the family in the 1930 census.

I was extremely excited when I discovered Minnie in these census records. A lot of questions were answered; I knew she married and had a family, and probably lived a relatively normal life. But, for some reason I could not write about my findings and answer the question so many had asked – Whatever happened to Minnie? I think it was because I still didn’t feel like Minnie’s story was complete.  And it wasn’t, until now….

A few days ago while browsing on Ancestry.com I discovered a newspaper article that tells the rest of Minnie’s story. Minnie was apparently arrested and charged with attempted murder. However, a judge determined that the evidence was “not conclusive” and the case was dismissed.

“The City Court” The Constitution, Atlanta GA, 13 April 1888, p. 13, col. 2; digital images, Ancestry.com (: assessed 3 October 2011).

I will never know what pushed Minnie to such extremes, or if the incident, as told in the newspaper, actually happened that way.  What I do know is that things are not always as black and white as they may seem. What I do know is that my ancestor Minnie Toliver (Taliaferro) survived, got married, and had a family.  What I do know is that I can finally tell the rest of Minnie’s story with a smile on my face.

In our quest to tell the stories of our ancestors, the fruits of our labors do not always produce a pretty picture. On occasion, we are faced with a dilemma; do we publish our findings, or just file them away as not for public viewing. A recent discovery presented me with such a quandary; to share, or not to share. I have chosen to share. This is a disturbing newspaper article I recently found on one of my Toliver ancestors. It is not a pretty story. I wish I knew more about the circumstances surrounding the event. What was Minnie thinking? What happened to drive her to take such drastic action, and involve another young relative in the process? These are questions that will never be answered.

What happened to Minnie and Laura? The article describes Minnie and Laura as sisters. According to the 1880 census, however, Laura was the daughter of Miles Taliaferro/Toliver (my great, great grandfather), and Minnie was his granddaughter. That would make Minnie Laura’s niece. I believe Minnie was the daughter of Alex Taliaferro, Laura’s brother. I lose track of Minnie after the 1800 census. Laura married Alexander Butler sometime around 1897, and had six children. Laura died sometime after 1930.

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“Held On The Rail,” The Atlanta Constitution, 29 March 1888, p. 7, col. 1; digital images, Footnote.com(  : assessed 14 February 2010), News and Town Records.

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.

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Source:The Atlanta Constitution, 11 September 1881, p.5, digital image, Footnote.com (http://www.footnote.com : accessed 31 October 2009).