Recently, my cousin Christa McWilliams set up a new group on Facebook called Subligna Community Members & Friends. Her idea was to bring people together to share old photos and memories about growing up in the tiny community nestled at the southern end of the East and West Armuchee valleys. It’s the same community where we both grew up–and where our ancestors go back (in a tangled web) for many generations!Read More
Although you wouldn’t know it from updates here at Jordan’s Journey, 2013 has been one of the busiest years of my life! Don’t worry, though–it’s all in a good way. Luckily for you Jordan’s Journey fans, I recently uncovered an almost-finished Jordan’s Journey video I shot in May 2012. I could not polish it off and share it with you for several reasons, and I had almost even forgotten it existed. But when I rediscovered the work in progress, I finally felt compelled to finish it. It’s a bit different from most Jordan’s Journey videos, and because of those differences, it was a more challenging video to shoot and is a bit rough in spots. But still, I’m glad to have made it.
My cousin and friend (we were friends way back before I even knew we were cousins) Christa McWilliams joined me to help document some history about the McWilliams Cemetery in West Armuchee. I couldn’t have done this video without her. It’s our attempt to tell the story about this significant cemetery, which is also a story about our families.
I am delighted to announce the publication of my latest article in the current (Autumn 2013) issue of Georgia Backroads. “We Are One People” explores my ancestral ties to slavery, focusing specifically on the Armuchee Valley and Dirt Town Valley regions. My original photography, as well as antique images I curated, illustrate the piece. So much research and thought went into this article, and I feel this is one of my best pieces ever. Georgia Backroads has done a fantastic job putting together the issue with excellent writing, photography, and design. You can pick up a copy at newsstands or order the issue online.
If you haven’t seen my previous work for Georgia Backroads, check out the Winter 2012 issue as well!
For the other researchers out there, I thought I would share my bibliography for the “We Are One People” article (the sources are not printed in the magazine itself). Enjoy!Read More
I originally drafted this post for use on Valentine’s Day. But I’ve had my head buried in so many projects this year (beyond Jordan’s Journey) that the writing and research simply didn’t get done in time. Rather than wait until next year, I thought I would finish this and post it now. After all, every day is a day to celebrate love, not just Valentine’s Day, right?
When it comes to genealogy, I’ve often wondered about my ancestors… what were their romances like? How did couples court each other “back in the day?” In our age of speed dating and online matchmaking, things look pretty different for us than they did for our ancestors. Unfortunately, our research often doesn’t shed any light on these questions.
Or does it?
Studying the pages of old local newspapers gives us a few clues here…
News reports of social visits often foreshadowed marriages. An item in the Summerville News from 14 Jun 1893 notes, “T.H. [Thomas Henry] Scoggins spent last Sunday evening at B.F. Dunaways” (Grigsby). It’s such a simple sentence, and it’s funny to think it was newsworthy. But people back then were just as interested in each other’s going-ons as we are today. Why do you think Facebook is so popular?
Thomas Henry Scoggins was the son of Thomas Newton Scoggins and Evaline Clarissa Lawrence and the grandson of William Delaney Scoggins (my 3rd great-grandfather). Less than a year after spending Sunday with the Dunaways–no doubt courting B.F.’s daughter–Thomas Scoggins married Etna Dunaway on 3 Nov 1894. This romance ends in tragedy as Etna’s obituary marks her death on Christmas Day, 1895, leaving Thomas behind with an infant daughter (Grigsby).Read More
My latest publication, titled “The Scoggins Family and Subligna Go Way Back,” appears in the current Winter 2012 edition of Georgia Backroads. Georgia Backroads is a wonderful journal that features interesting writing and photos about Georgia’s history, nature, and travel. The first time I saw Georgia Backroads, I immediately knew I wanted to be part of it. I am very proud of my first story to appear in its pages.
The article explores the history of the Scoggins family in Subligna, including the store started by my great-grandfather, Lawrence Chapman Scoggins, and the gin operated by Lawrence’s father, James Harvey Scoggins. I’m including here a couple of photos from the store that were not able to be included in the printed article.Read More
Previously, I wrote about the connection between the Scoggins and Bagwell families. I also wrote about a connection to the Ogletree family that made a more-than-a-decade-long friend into a step-cousin! But since I love to sniff out those crazy and interesting connections everywhere, the story doesn’t end there. In a different branch of my step-cousin Terry’s tree, I noticed one of his grandmothers was a Bagwell. I knew about the other Bagwells in my tree, and saw that Terry’s Bagwell ancestors were also from Georgia. If it were a name like Jones or Smith, I wouldn’t think too much of it–those names are much too common. Bagwell, however, is not an everyday surname.
I traced the lines, moving along the tree branches, looking for a connection. It turns out that Terry’s Bagwell line goes back to a gentleman named Daniel Bagwell. Daniel Bagwell was born in Ireland and died in Wake County, North Carolina, in about 1802 (Ancestry.com, Sons). My friend Terry descends through Daniel’s son John Daniel Bagwell (1761-1855). My great grand aunt Addie Bagwell (from my previous Bagwell post) descends through John Daniel’s brother William Bagwell (1757-1848).
John Daniel Bagwell (1761-1855) was a Revolutionary War patriot born in North Carolina. He died in Gwinnett County, Georgia (Ancestroy.com, Sons). John’s son Henson also came to Georgia and was counted there in Gwinnett County by 1830. By 1850, he was in Hall County. He died in about 1887 (Bagwell). Henson’s son Wiley (1861-?) migrated to Alabama, and Terry’s line ultimately descends there.Read More
Earlier this year, you might have seen one of several articles on the Jordan’s Journey book that appeared in northwest Georgia newspapers. If you haven’t read them, be sure to check out the press section of this site, which will link you to each of them. It was hard work talking to the press! It’s an experience that is difficult to prepare for, and even having experienced it on a small, local scale, I have a whole new appreciation for what it’s like to be a high-profile celebrity who constantly deals with the press. It’s not that the reporters twist your words or ask trick questions or anything quite so nefarious, it’s just difficult to put your words together clearly and elegantly when you’re on the spot–especially when you’re dealing with a subject as convoluted as genelaogy can be!
One of the things I mentioned in the interview for the Dalton Daily Citizen article was that brothers and sisters often married each other. Uh, what?! Yes, that was my reaction when I saw it printed on the page. I realized immediately that what I said sounded very… wrong. What I meant to convey was that siblings from one set of parents often would marry siblings from another. That’s a very different thing than brothers marrying sisters. You can see how my words were not formed as accurately as they should have been. And I fret to think that genealogical researchers years from now may stumble across that article and think, “Wow, that guy who wrote Jordan’s Journey made some crazy claims!”
So here I am to set the record straight: it was not common for a brother to marry his sister. Yet, brothers from one family often married sisters from another family (or cousins from another family). Let me give you an example.Read More
Whenever I get the time, I love poring through old newspapers from Chattooga and Walker Counties, searching the bits of news for names of people in my family tree. The Summerville News and Walker County Messenger are littered with my ancestors far and wide. Most of the time when an ancestor is mentioned it seems inconsequential. The more I read through these things, the more I feel like I’m looking at a Twitter feed from over 100 years ago! Indeed, social media isn’t the phenomenon of the new millennium we think it to be. Sure, the bits and bytes shuffling back and forth between our smartphones and computer screens weren’t around in our ancestor’s time. But our ancestors were just as interested in everybody else’s “status updates” as we are today… only the medium for sharing those updates has changed.
This week I started combing my records for some of these “status updates” to assemble a selection for you here. Looking for a unifying theme, I noticed a lot of talk about rabid dogs and dangerous snakes. Yep, that’s what I said: dogs and snakes. Now I don’t mean dogs and snakes at the same time. But there seemed to be an awful lot of newspaper mentions about these two animals. I suppose for a rural country area you’re going to have a lot of dogs and, well, a lot of snakes. And I suppose it also makes a good news story to talk about the latest mad dog or venomous snake. Still, it gives me a chuckle to think that over a century later this is what I’m reading about. Like I said… inconsequential.
But apparently, to our ancestors, it was enough to make the newspaper.Read More
Fresh fruits and vegetables were a part of everyday life growing up on the farm. The best meals were always those prepared straight from the garden. While my parents were not farmers by trade–they were school teachers–they always had a garden of some sort. My grandparents, however, farmed on a larger scale. One of the crops I remember most clearly and associate very closely with my grandfather Earl Jordan is watermelon. Earl would load up the back of his truck (which I proudly drove in my teenage years after he had died), sit by the road, tailgate down, and sell the delicious fruit to passersby. Of course, there was plenty to go around for the family, too. We would all gather around the table at Grannie’s house, ready for a messy feast of some good ol’ watermelon. Careful not to swallow any seeds!
Watermelon wasn’t only a summer tradition for me growing up but for my parents, too. Dad recalls eating a lot of watermelon at his Grandpa Holcomb’s house. “He grew them, and I think he may have also bought some,” Dad reminisced about the old days. “Grandmother would keep some in the refrigerator and slice it off and eat it cold, but we also ate them fresh from the field.”Read More
Though the vast majority of my family–even going generations back–are rooted in Georgia and other parts of the south, some interesting burial locations exist in other parts of the country. I’ve not discovered any direct family connections to New York, where I call home. But there are a couple of interesting family burials in New Jersey.
James Young Foster (a descendant of the Young family) connects to my tree through his second wife, Margaret Mell Lawrence (my 1st cousin five times removed through the Lawrence family line). James fought in the Civil War in Georgia’s 1st Cavalry Regiment, Company F (National Cem.; National Park). Captured as a prisoner of war, he died in Fort Delaware and is buried in Finns Point National Cemetery in New Jersey. James left behind two daughters, Nancy Mell Foster and Frances Isabell Foster, whom Margaret raised. These daughters married into the White family, a prominent family in the Villanow and Sublgina area that connects many different family branches.
[UPDATE 17 May 2012: A Jordan’s Journey reader noted that I did not mention the children of James Young Foster’s first marriage. While not within the scope of this post, you can check out where his first wife, Martha Wade Booker, and their children are listed.]
My 2nd great grand uncle Moses Gresham Scoggins is also buried at Finns Point. Moses fought in Georgia’s 9th Infantry Regiment, Company B, and was a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware (National Cem.; National Park). Moses had never married and did not leave behind a wife or children. His line of descendancy continues only through his brothers (one of whom is my 2nd great grandfather, James Harvey Scoggins).
Both soldiers, Foster and Scoggins, are listed on the Confederate memorial at Finns Point. Moses also has a commemorative stone in the Chapman family cemetery in West Armuchee.Read More
In the late 19th and early 20th century, numerous schools dotted the Armuchee and Dirt Town Valley regions. Today, not even one of them remains. Gradually, one by one, they were all consolidated, and now everyone travels to the larger towns for school.
I know little about the small schools that dotted the Armuchee Valley (and even less about Dirt Town Valley schools). But I intend to uncover as much as possible and share my findings here at Jordan’s Journey. Therefore, this post represents the first of an ongoing “School Days” series to showcase various photos and any other information I can rustle up. If you have anything to contribute, please get in touch. I am eager to document this almost-forgotten part of our past.
First is a class photo from Subligna School in Chattooga County, Georgia. My grandfather Harold Wallace Scoggins (1924-2000) is the boy in the lower left corner (first boy on the front row). The photo was taken in front of the school building. Judging by Harold’s approximate age here, this would have been taken in the mid-1930s. Harold later graduated high school from Subligna in 1941.
I do not know the other children’s identities in this photograph. They appear to be about the same age as Harold and, therefore, all probably in the same class. If you can identify anyone or have any other information to share about Subligna School, please leave a comment below to get in touch.
UPDATE 28 Jun 2012: This photo was posted to the Chattooga County Historical Society’s Facebook page.
UPDATE 25 Aug 2012: I included an update to this post here.
You can read more about Subligna School and the community in the chapter on Subligna in Jordan’s Journey.
Today is the 147th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Earlier this year, I explored the connection between my Rambo family and the Lincoln family. Today, I’m not looking at Lincoln directly but at a few photos related to him.
The two black and white shots are from the collection of my grandmother, Dot Holcomb Scoggins. Taken in 1951 during a family road trip, it’s interesting to see shots of Washington, D.C., over half a century ago. They were taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking across the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument. The first photo also shows my grandfather, Harold Scoggins.
For good measure, I have also included one of my photos from October 2011. I visited the National World War II Memorial, which stands at the opposite end of the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial. This memorial, of course, did not exist in the 1951 photos as it was not constructed until 2004. You can see the Lincoln Memorial in the background on the left-hand side of the image. Harold was a Military Policeman in the 66th Infantry Division (also known as the Black Panthers) during the war, so this memorial serves in memory of him and the countless other men who fought in that conflict.
Watch for more old photos and more of my photography in upcoming posts on Jordan’s Journey.
This is my sister devouring human body parts just moments after she was turned into a zombie… oh no, wait… that was the B-grade horror movie I watched last night. Why did it seem so real?
Anyway, this is, in fact, my sister on her 5th birthday, rather engrossed in licking the icing off the doll cake topper. Grandmother made the cake (just like she did for Dad when he was growing up).
So, happy birthday, sis! Hope you’re having a good one. Remember to relax, breathe, and (zombie or not) try not to eat your cake topper. I love you.