After I published Jordan’s Journey, I always fantasized about doing a volume two sub-titled: The European Edition! Digging deeper into my heritage before my ancestors came to America would be fascinating. While, unfortunately, I don’t think such a book will happen any time soon—for various reasons I won’t get into here—I do intend to explore my international heritage in whatever ways I can. Last summer, I took the first step towards this when I visited Germany to learn more about my Beck ancestors.Read More
It has been almost 15 years since I lived in Georgia. That seems like such a long time ago. All that time away from where I grew up is one of the things that enabled me to make Jordan’s Journey. If I had stayed in the same place, I don’t think I would have been able to see it with fresh eyes. Growing up, I never thought much about the place I lived. It was just normal. But now that I have such a wide range of experience to contrast it against, that little valley I call home is a beautiful spot. Diverse experiences in life are good. It helps you appreciate the world more because you see the unique beauty in your surroundings. I’m thankful my parents instilled in me an appreciation for travel and exploration.
As beautiful as the Armuchee Valley area is, it’s not exactly where tourists will likely visit. Most of the land is privately owned, much of it going back generations into the area families such as my Pope family. Most people enjoy the area simply by driving along the (officially designated) scenic byways. Just look at the photo I took along Pocket Road earlier this year. Sunset was approaching, and the mountains were bathed in a beautiful curtain of light. You can see how driving along the roads is an attraction in and of itself. In fact, a huge swath of the area around Armuchee Valley is part of the Chattahooche National Forest. While there isn’t much infrastructure to accommodate mainstream tourism, the National Forest does offer some publicly accessible hiking and camping, perfect for those of us with a bit of an adventurous spirit.
Two of the primary areas you can visit are located on Pocket Road. Pocket Road begins just east of the main Villanow crossroads where the old brick country store stands. About 4 miles down this road is the John’s Mountain overlook entrance. A road takes you to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the view of East Armuchee and West Armuchee beyond that. Beware, though, as it’s an unpaved road–so be prepared for that.
The overlook platform was constructed in 1964 by the Accelerated Public Works Program. The spot where the overlook sits is the former location of the Johns Mountain fire tower. The original tower was built in 1940 by the CCC (see below). A new tower was built in 1961. Grady Richardson (of the Armuchee Valley Richardson family) was the foreman on this construction project (Fearrington 37). It was dismantled in 1979 and donated to the Walker County Correctional Institute. In 1980, the area officially became a recreation area. It was developed by the Youth Conservation Corps (Fearrington 52).Read More
This photo is from my mom’s 4th or 5th birthday. She’s sitting at her child-size table on her front porch in East Armuchee. My mom is on the right; the other girl in the photo (just out of reach of the camera) is her friend Debbie Epperson.
I love this photo because I grew up with this same set of table and chairs, handed down to my sister and me. Though I don’t think my sister and I ever played with knives as a kid. Look at the blade in my mom’s hand! But with that adorable smile, ruffled shirt, and polka dot skirt she couldn’t do any harm, right? Why do I envision scenes from a B-grade horror movie?
But I digress… today is Mom’s special day. Those of you who have read the Jordan’s Journey book may recall the dedication… to Mom. Her love of tracing the family tree is a big part of what set me on this path. The Jordan’s Journey project wouldn’t exist without her.
The truth is that I’ve always been a mama’s boy. Growing up, Mom was always a friend, and I’m thankful that she is today as well. Thank you, Mom, for all that you do. I love you.
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