Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Mary Etta’s Purse

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When my grandfather died, we cleaned out his house, and there was just. so. much. stuff. Stuff that felt important and that I knew I should save, and I couldn’t make a decision about at the time. I put it away in boxes, and they ended up in the basement.

The basement flooded.

Much to Todd’s chagrin, none of my boxes of genealogies, family papers, history books, and old photos were damaged. However, the whole basement had to be emptied to do the renovations required to put in new floors and paint, so all of the accumulated stuff is kind of being moved into safekeeping until the renovations are complete. (By “safekeeping” I mean mountains of boxes in our bedroom, foyer, and dining room.)

While we were moving them, Tiller immediately caught sight of one item on top of an open box of photos that belonged to my Grandma.

My great-grandmother’s purse.

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I kept it because it’s a classic, beautiful vintage purse. Score. But I had forgotten until we opened it up that I had also kept it because it was a mini-time capsule of my great grandmother’s last years. I think that when she died, her daughters probably just took her purse home, and they couldn’t bare to throw any of it out. (Must be genetic.)

Here are my Grandma Palmer (Evelyn) and her sister, Lessie, at the funeral home. I know it’s morbid and sad, but I don’t care; I like this photo.

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She was born Mary Etta Richardson (her mother was Matilda Denmark, which is partially the origin of Till’s name, but mostly we just liked the name), in Liberty County, GA in 1888. She died December 7, 1959. (Pearl Harbor day, and my sister’s birthday, too.) She married my great-grandfather, Horace Ray Butler (Rollie dodged a bullet there) and they had five children. Two of them died as babies, and the stories of their deaths are heartbreaking to hear as a mother.They were older than the three who lived and died before the others were born. The three who lived were: Lessie, my grandmother Evelyn Jean, and Clayton. (I believe he was actually William Clayton.)

 

Both of the babies are both buried at Thomas Hill Cemetery on Fort Stewart. Here is a photo of Marie’s grave and one of R.C.’s. This gets mighty confusing, because my grandmother would tell me about her mother telling her about losing the babies, and the names above are misleading. According to my grandma, Marie was not pronounced with the common pronunciation. It was “MA-ree,” rather than “Ma-REE.” And there is no french accent to it, just “Little Ma.Ree.” And when my grandmother told me about the babies dying, the boy was “Little R.C.” Not “R.O.” which is what the gravestone looks like, but I am sure that it was R.C. and i think maybe the stone was not well-engraved, because I am sure she knew what her own mother called her dead baby brother. And we never heard a word about “Meldrum.” That makes Little R.C. quite a mystery, as he seems to be named “Meldrum R. C. Butler.” Genealogy nerd me would really like to know what the R. and C. stand for – I think R. might be for “Richardson.” Who knows.

Anyways, a ton of my other Butler, Richardson, Denmark, Shuman, and other families are also buried in cemeteries at Fort Stewart. (I hope to get down there for a cemetery visit, but you have to make an appointment, i think due to the Army not wanting you to get blown up driving around the base. Heck, I could do a whole post just about the people buried on Fort Stewart.)

Whoa. That was one of my more offensive genealogy tangents. Sorry about that. So, here’s the juicy part . . .

I guess the statute of limitations is probably up now on these folks, so I can say that we have not figured out the actual truth, but it is rumored that Horace also had a relationship with another woman (possibly a Sarah or Maude, who was perhaps a Shuman) and fathered a son, but I have never been able to figure out much more about it. People just alluded to it, but never actually gave us any real dirt. (If you happen to stumble across this post and know anything about this other relationship, marriage, or illegitimate child or his descendants, we would very much like to hear from you. I know that’s a long shot.)

Horace and Mary Etta lived in Bryan County, GA, on (as I understand it) the original land grant that the Butlers received in Georgia. My grandmother was born there, near Clyde. When Fort Stewart was created, everyone in their area lost their farms. They moved to Savannah, where both died and are buried.

So, back to the purse. The satin lining is sooo silky.

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Tills and I started laying the things in the purse out on the table. Here are the things we found in my great grandmother’s purse:

This really cracked and cool looking mirror. If Mary Etta was anything like my Grandma Palmer, she would not go out of the house without lipstick.

 

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One box of tithing envelopes. I think at the end, she maybe lived with my Aunt Lessie in Garden City, outside of Savannah, because I know she didn’t always attend church out there.

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Here is one of the cards inside. I love that they are numbered and have the date on them, so that you don’t miss one single Sunday of tithing.

 

 

 

Here is her wallet:

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It contained a lot of medical receipts and newspaper clippings of bible verses and obituaries.
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I thought this one was very interesting; A tuberculosis report, from 13 years prior to her death. Negative. I’m curious if there is some reason she would have kept this in her wallet all those years. At the time of the test, she still lived on Stevenson Ave. Daddy would have been about five at that time, and also lived there.

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Another bible verse. I can’t figure out why it’s printed so oddly. Are they like bible verse flash cards? Because even upside down, I can still figure out it’s from Proverbs. . . and I missed a lot of Sunday School.

 

She had the card for the Superintendent of Sunday School. Love the old phone numbers. No (912) back then.

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One Walgreen’s prescription. I didn’t realize Walgreen’s had been around that long.

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Okay, nerd that I am, I looked up history of Walgreen’s. No wonder they were around so long; They started in Chicago and were allowed to sell “medicinal” whiskey during Prohibition. 

Also of interest: Mary Etta’s doctor was a female. Thinking that wasn’t super common back then, but made me smile.

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Quick Google search on Anne Hopkins came up with nothing, but I bet she might have been pretty interesting. And anyone know what that cream is for?

 

Here’s an obituary for some British dude, William Wright. A boyfriend, perhaps? None of the names look familiar.

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The next one is sweet: A memorial clipping, of some sort, for Mary’s husband, Horace. He died when Dad was around five. IMG_8733 IMG_8735

 

One flashy red change purse.

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A whole bunch of hair doodads.

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I particularly like the packaging for the bobby pins, which did not photograph well, but reads, ‘Gayla 10 cents.’

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Here’s a brooch, of jewels in a crown. A few of the jewels are missing.

I really like this old letter opener. Does anyone actually still use these?

And here is my absolute favorite item in the purse. One, unopened, perfectly preserved stick of Beech-Nut gum. 
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One pair of vintage bifocals.

I really love that they just folded up her glasses and stuck them in the purse. There is something so sweet and personal about holding someone’s glasses for them. It almost feels like an honor. Someone really trusts you if they hand you their glasses for safekeeping. And there is something heartbreaking about folding up someone’s glasses for the last time and putting them away.

Here I am wearing them. Rollie and Tills both had to try them on and we all did our best schoolmarm impersonations. (Ignore my hair frizz. I just ran.) See any resemblance to the photo of Mary Etta below?

Mary Etta Richardson Butler. October 1888-December 1959. Buried at Hillcrest Cemetery, Savannah, GA. (I guess this photo was probably taken at the Stevenson Ave. house. The house is long gone, I think.)

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I guess maybe I will start digging through these boxes as I put them back in the basement after the renovation. I am guessing there might be some related posts in the next few months. History nerds unite. Everyone else just stop reading for a while.

Cousin Jane, and Beulah’s Pickle Recipe

Friday, June 15th, 2012

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It’s been one year, today, since my Cousin Jane was brutally murdered in her home in Chattanooga. What a difficult year it has been for her family and friends, grappling with ideas of good and evil, and heaven and loss. Not a day goes by for those who loved her that they don’t think of her, with both sadness and fondness. So, like others who loved her, I have been dreading this day, and my heart has felt heavy all week.

But life goes on, whether we want it to or not. Bills to be paid, kids to feed, etc. I got a new iPhone this week, and I was cleaning out my email inbox before setting it up, and let’s just say I had emails saved from YEARS ago. I still had an email that Jane had sent me in November of 2009. My mom had told me that the pickles I’d made were okay, but that I needed to get the recipe for her Aunt Beulah’s pickles from Jane; Beulah’s bread and butter pickles were just the best, said Mom. So, I had emailed Jane, and she had promised to send me the recipe, and sure enough she did.

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When you layer the cucumber, onion and bell pepper, I usually sprinkle with a little of the canning salt and a layer of ice, ending with ice on top. You will quickly get your fill of slicing the cucumbers. If you run low on syrup, just whip up some more, maybe cutting the recipe in half. 2 ½ cups of sugar and vinegar, etc. I usually clean my kitchen sink and put all the vegetables in it. Leave the drain open So, at the end of next summer, I expect a jar of pickles. Enjoy, Jane.

I can’t tell you how much I regret not making those pickles, and not taking a jar up to Jane in Chattanooga, and letting her try them, and having her tell me whether they tasted like Beulah’s. Jane and Beulah are gone now (hell, Beulah was gone long before I was born!), so I hope they won’t be mad at me for sharing the family recipe. I think I might make some this summer, and maybe get Tiller to help, then take a jar to my Mama and see if they taste right. I thought other folks, especially those who loved Jane, might have cucumbers coming in, and want to make some of Beulah’s Bread and Butter Pickles. If you do, say a little thank you to Jane and Beulah for sharing with us. I’m not sure why passing down recipes is comforting, but I do know that there is still good in the world and that I found Beulah’s pickle recipe in my inbox this week for a reason.

With Love and a few tears,
Annie

I Really Wuv Ken Burns

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Well worth the short five-minute watch.

I love his 1+1=3 analogy and the thought that his work is an attempt to wake the dead. I have often thought that bringing back the dead inspires me to write, or often the desire to hold on to life, because it could be gone in a moment.

I’m heading to Chattanooga tomorrow, and it is a place where I really hear the echoes of the dead. I might be waking the dead a bit. I’m thinking of Grandma, and Uncle Charlie, and Aunt Dot, Margaret and Mary, and even little Gretchen. And Jane, sweet Jane. There is something sweet about walking where others walked and making new memories that mingle so closely with the old. Bittersweet, but mostly sweet.

Thanks for sharing, T2.

Thankful

Monday, December 19th, 2011

So, damn. That last post was a real downer. Sorry about that. I am pretty good at the ostrich thing, though. I do lots of fun stuff, and I am lucky to have a healthy family, and I still have both parents, and my husband is the best one in the whole wide world ever (for me.) So, here are some things I’m thankful for . . . Think of it as one whole post about shit I’m thankful for, rather than an annoying “I’m Thankful” facebook post every damn day of November. See how good I am to you? So thoughtful . . . .

My friends Shannon and Matt had a baby and we finally visited him.

Tills and DannyBoy

Tills and DannyBoy


We have beer on Main Street now.

We have beer on Main Street now.


I got to spend an afternoon with my sister and our kids. Sadly, that almost never happens anymore.

I got to spend an afternoon with my sister and our kids. Sadly, that almost never happens anymore.

Tills broke her arm, but I still got to go to NYC with Todd.

Tills broke her arm, but I still got to go to NYC with Todd.

I had breakfast that i bought at Union Square Greenmarket. I ate it on a bench and watched schoolchildren.

I had breakfast that i bought at Union Square Greenmarket. I ate it on a bench and watched schoolchildren.

I drank coffee and rode the Staten Island Ferry just for the view. I didn't care that it was cloudy and was repaid with some sunny patches.

I drank coffee and rode the Staten Island Ferry just for the view. I didn't care that it was cloudy and was repaid with some sunny patches.

I ate a pear in Trinity Church Cemetery, where my 5G grandfather was buried in 1786. Or at least records say he is. His grave is lost to time now. I thought about that while I ate my pear.

I ate a pear in Trinity Church Cemetery, where my 5G grandfather was buried in 1786. Or at least records say he is. His grave is lost to time now. I thought about that while I ate my pear.

Todd and I had dinner with my friend Harris and his girlfriend Anne. I am still always surprised that Harris wears button-downs to work. In my mind, he is always wearing a navy blue hoodie.

Todd and I had dinner with my friend Harris and his girlfriend Anne. I am still always surprised that Harris wears button-downs to work. In my mind, he is always wearing a navy blue hoodie.

And then we all went to a bar and played shuffleboard.

And then we all went to a bar and played shuffleboard.

We also stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Tres fancy.

We stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Tres fancy.

Posting these so that Harris can see what the rooms were like (he was curious):

The room had FOUR windows. And a beautiful rug. And original hardwoods.

The room had three, count'em three, windows. And a beautiful rug. And original hardwoods.

And here's the bed. Nice linens, velvety headboard, good lighting.

And here's the bed. Nice linens, velvety headboard, good lighting.

Pretty sure the bathroom was bigger than most NYC apartments. However, for the cost, i think they could have worked in a tub. (My only problem with the room.)

Pretty sure the bathroom was bigger than most NYC apartments. However, for the cost, i think they could have worked in a tub. (My only problem with the room.)

Even the closet was fancy.

Even the closet was fancy.

And here is a view of the sitting area from the front door. We had a SETTEE, y'all!

And here is a view of the sitting area from the front door. We had a SETTEE, y'all!

The rooms also come with access to the park. It is a private park that you have to have a key to get into. That’s pretty cool. And snobby and elitist. . . but cool.

So, the next day it was cold and pouring down rain. I made plans to meet Anne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was so god-awful crowded, and wet and damp, but we had a lovely afternoon. I forgot to each lunch I was enjoying myself so much. We mostly wandered, took in the current exhibitions. (Romare Bearden was one Anne really wanted to see and I thought it was great, and was also surprised I had not heard of him in my Harlem Renaissance class in college).

Anne and I both checked out my favorite part – Arms and Armor. I think when she suggested it to me, she must have realized how much I would love it. She probably didn’t realize that I would take so long that she would get hungry and have to leave me there. (Sorry, Anne!) I could have spent all day there looking at the amazing things people have killed other people with over the years! They even had a helm that was (probably erroneously) said to have been worn by Joan of Arc – I have had a preoccupation with Joan since i first read about her as a child. (I also have a weird interest in Marie Curie, Belle Star, Annie Oakley, and Bonnie Parker, among others. I know. I am a freak.)

Joan of Arc Helm

Joan of Arc Helm

There was an interesting Stieglitz exhibition, about him and his artists (O’Keefe, Matisse, etc.) While I enjoyed it, i was way more interested in this tiny little exhibit of his early art photography collection. I could have looked at it all day.

And best of all, I found some new (to me) artists to adore: Like Francis Bacon; Like a painting entitled, “End of the Hunt” by Dale Nichols (Anne, that is the one that you loved!);

The photo doesn't do it justice. The light is so amazing in it in person.

The photo doesn't do it justice. The light is so amazing in it in person.

Or these two huge pieces by Stephen Hannock. You totally can’t see it online, but he put all this writing and mixed media collage stuff in these two works. I almost wanted to cry it was so cool. Oooh, actually, if you go to this link then click on the photo, then zoom in, you can see the writing. Awesome.

Like this one by Paul Cadmus.

His Seven Deadly Sins were awesome! This is Lust.

His Seven Deadly Sins were awesome! This is Lust.

Looks like a really cool graphic novel, right? He made it in 1945. Mind-blowing.

When i left the museum, I was starving, and it was raining cats and dogs, and todd wanted me to meet him for a beer at some place near his conference in Times Square, and i was all like, “Ugh, Times Square.” But the bar was actually pretty awesome, with cheap beer, and seemingly no tourists other than myself. It was warm and the barmaid was kind of bitchy, which I can respect, and I sat next to a guy who makes full-length concert DVDs for a ton of bands, some of whom i thought were crappy. But he also worked with Chrissy Hinde, and so I was all interested in hearing about that, because I heart The Pretenders.

Then we left and had to make it back to the hotel to change for drinks with work people, and it was raining and i felt kind of sorry for all the working sad sack new yorkers just trying to get home, but there is something very romantic about a rainy evening with my husband, and taking cover in Grand Central Station to get away from the rain, and just watching the people.

Blurry, rainy evening at Grand Central Station.

Blurry, rainy evening at Grand Central Station.

And then i put on my nice stuff, and we went to The Standard Hotel for drinks, and damn, they have a really nice view from their rooftop bar, which, i kid you not, is called The Boom Boom Room. Sometimes I think New York comes up with stupid shit like that just to make me laugh at them. The bathrooms in the bar were rooms with no lights and no window coverings, where you could look out over the skyline while you are taking a shit. Ridiculous, but fun. I was luckily warned first, or I would have thought I was trippin’ in some crazy house of mirrors.

I had my jeans down around my ankles and I was peeing while I took this.

I had my jeans down around my ankles and I was peeing while I took this.


After that? Yummy burgers and home to bed because we were both wet, cold, and exhausted.

A lovely trip. I’ll end here for now, as I have gone on and on, and will never click publish at this rate. It shall be a two parter.

What’s In a Name?

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

“Mama?” Tiller said, putting her head on my shoulder as we sat on the couch, her watching Mermaidia and me reading a book.

“Yes, Baby?” I said, turning to look at her, eye to eye.

“What’s your name?”

“Anne. My name is Anne.”

“What’s your other name?”

“You mean my middle name?”

“Yeah. Your middle name.”

“My middle name is Dunstan.”

“Huh?!”

“Dunstan. Anne Dunstan Palmer.

“What’s Dunstan?”

“It was my Grandma’s maiden name. Her last name, before she was married. Like mine was Palmer before I married your Daddy. She was Vivian Arenda Dunstan.”

“Oh.”

She sat thinking for a second.

“So, she was my great grandmother.”

“Yes. Yes, she was. Your Grandma Palmer’s mother. She died before you were born, though. But you would have loved her. And she would have loved you very, very much.”

“How come?”

“Because she and I loved each other very, very much. She was so much fun. She taught me to play cards, and Sorry, and build card houses, and to dance the Charleston. She liked to watch The Price is Right with me, and I Love Lucy. And she had the best laugh ever.”

“I wish I could have met her.”

“I do, too, baby. I do, too.”

Amazing that talking to my baby girl about my Grandma can make her seem like she is almost here. I can almost imagine her sitting here with us right now. And it sure does make me miss her, even almost 20 years later. We loved each other very, very much.

Grandma and Me, 1972

Arthur Dunstan at Auburn: A Followup

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Well, since discussing it with my brother-in-law, Lyle, I looked into the Dunstan Hall and Arthur’s time at Auburn a bit more. . .

Here is an Auburn Engineering magazine article with a mention and photo of Professor Dunstan:

Professor Dunstan and his class

Professor Dunstan and his class

and another:

I believe this is him in the doorway, back row, with the cute mustache, too.

And here:

So, there you go. . .

Rambling Photo and Cemetery Family Post

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Found this interesting photo of my grandmother Smith’s Uncle, Arthur St. Charles Dunstan, in the Auburn archives.
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He was a student at Auburn, when it was Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API), later became a professor of Engineering there, and then head of the Engineering department. There was a building there named after him, Dunstan Hall, for many years, but I believe they may have renamed it.

His brother, my great-grandfather, was John Harris Rowe Dunstan. He also attended Auburn. Arthur, and their mother, Medora Louis Hall Dunstan, are buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Auburn. It still blows my mind that the after party for my wedding was walking distance from the cemetery where my dear Grandma’s own Grandmother, whose Civil War stories of Fredericksburg were handed down in the family, is buried, and I never knew it until years later. From Fredericksburg my line went, through Lee and Chatham county NC, to St. Tammany Parish, LA, and Chattanooga, TN to my parents having me in Atlanta, and me meeting a boy from Auburn, and ending up in that cemetery where my Grandmother’s grandmother is buried.

Think I might go visit old Medora in a couple weeks. See how she’s doing.

Stuff I Like

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I am currently loving this guy Bryan Brown’s photographs. They totally strike that exhilarating intersection for me where “pretty picture” meets “cool history.” He calls himself Dirt Road Cowboy, and he traverses the back roads of S. Georgia, taking pictures of old structures, signs, and homes. Doesn’t hurt that I keep hoping that he will unearth some amazing nugget associated with my family history, much of which, on my dad’s side, is in this area. I can’t wait to find out what he comes up with next.

He has a website called Vanishing South Georgia, where he posts his photos, often with a story or historical description accompanying them. Photos that he doesn’t post there are in his Flickr stream.

If you don’t like history, rural decay, architecture, or old advertising, you will probably not be into this.

If that’s the case, you might be more into Kingston Lounge. This guy is into “Guerilla Preservation and Urban Archaeology” – He goes around and takes photographs of some cool and creepy stuff. I found it when looking for photos of the old Central State hospital in Milledgeville, GA. Most of his stuff is in NYC, primarily Brooklyn, i think.

Enjoy!

My Grandma’s Everyday Dishes

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Were “Desert Rose” by Franciscan. I’m packing it up right now and it is making me a little sad, thinking of all the big Sunday dinners I ate off them, with tomatoes out of Pop’s garden, and the pear preserves and plum jelly they made, and the peaches we would pick together. Actually, picking peaches sucks, but after all these years it has somehow become a good memory.

I’m glad Mom is keeping the Desert Rose, so that Rollie and Tiller can associate their own memories of their Grandma and Papaw with my Grandma’s dishes.

Desert Rose was very popular and I believe they still make it. Do you remember your Grandma’s dishes? What were they?

Hoarders

Monday, January 11th, 2010

I hate when I’m at Grandma and Pop’s and I can’t find a pencil.