Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Background on Burch Family, Slaves on the Berry Plantation

When the Genealogical Society prepared the Coweta County Cemetery Book in the 1980's, they only knew of one grave in the cemetery. They called it the Cole Street Cemetery because no one came forward with any other information. Cynthia Rosers put some questions on the internet and we now have more info on the Burch Family.

Background on Burch family

Abner Robert Burch was born in March 1848 in Virginia. He was possibly the slave of Robert Simms Burch who lived in Coweta County in 1835. Robert. Burch is shown in the 1859 census as owning 19 slaves and in 1855 had 25. He was a lawyer and lived in Newnan, the 5th District.

Eliza E. Smith Burch was born in February 1848 in Georgia, the daughter of George and Isabella Smith. It is possible they were slaves of Dr. Ira Smith, an early Coweta County settler from Virginia who, in 1850, owned 54 slaves. George and Isabella had five children; Eliza, Ira, Walter, Fannie and Georgia.

Abner and Eliza were married in April 1866. Charlie was the second son of Abner and Eliza. According to the 1870 Census, their eldest son, George, was born in 1867. In the 1880 Census he was listed as being a railroad postal clerk. He went to Atlanta University and married Elizabeth Cox in 1893. They lived in Fulton County. Abner and Eliza raised a second child, Wilburn (Bud) Gay. In the Census of 1870, Abner was listed as a cook and Eliza as a housekeeper. In 1887 Abner established a restaurant on E. Broad Street. He later gave Bud an interest in the restaurant and it became one of Newnan's most popular eating places well into the 1930's.

Abner and Eliza owned a large piece of property between Savannah and Burch Streets in the Chalk Level community of Newnan. The house faced Burch Street and, at one time, there was a road from Burch Street to the cemetery. Abner and Eliza were respected and prominent citizens in Newnan having large property holdings and being committed church members and contributors or the community. There is no record of either Abner or Eliza's death or place of burial. A deed dated 1911 shows George to be A. R. Burch's sole heir and family history relates that Eliza died shortly after Abner.

More History on the Slave Cemetery

History of the Farmer Street Cemetery
By Helen Bowles 2001

Local resident Bobby Olmstead grew up on Murray Street. As a child, the plot of land nearby was revered and an unwritten rule placed it off limits for play. It had for years been known as a "slave cemetery." The land held no markers, no one kept up the property but still the story of it being a burial ground for African Americans lingered. Early in 1999, Mr. Olmstead happened by a City of Newnan crew preparing to make walking paths through the property. He told them they couldn't do that because the site was a grave yard. He realized at that time, this bit of history had been forgotten. Mr. Olmstead went to Newnan Mayor Brady, told his tale and convinced the Mayor to cease development of the land.

The City, in the spring of that year, hired an archaeologist, Steve Webb, to do a historical land survey. Mr. Webb's work was completed in July and he outlined a cemetery of 4.4 acres on which there were 249 identified grave depressions and several other possible grave depressions. This little heretofore unknown plot of land was now possibly the largest slave cemetery known in the US. The story hit all the wire services as well as the national TV network news and magazines. Although, without further investigation, it is impossible to tell who is buried on this land, the evidence in Mr. Webb's survey as well as local legend and deeds lends credence to the possibility of it indeed being a slave cemetery. At the very least, it is almost certainly an African American cemetery.

An 1923 map shows a Negro Grave Yard on the site and in later maps was referred to as the "Cole Cemetery" or "Colored Cemetery." William B. Berry originally owned most of the land around the present site. He was one of Coweta County's earliest settlers and largest land owners. Deeds show transfer of the land near the cemetery by Mr. Berry to Newnan Cotton Mills in 1888. One of the provisions of this deed was to preserve the right of access of "colored people to and from their cemetery." In a deed dated 1900, other surrounding properties were sold to Newnan Cotton Mills and reference again was made to a "colored cemetery." In 1962 the property was acquired by the City of Newnan.

One lone marker remains: that of little Charlie Burch who died at the tender age of three months in 1869.

Slave Cemetery on property with Museum

Slave Cemetery Discovered in South

By Oliver Yates Libaw
Oct. 25
The solitary headstone of 3-month-old Charlie Burch was the only visible evidence hinting at a burial ground for more than 200 slaves hidden beneath a poison ivy-covered field on a hill in Newnan, Ga.

And it might have stayed that way if a group of African-American women and a society that takes its name from a Confederate Army hero hadn’t united to save the site when local officials proposed putting a recreational path through the field.

Prompted by the groups and encouraged by residents’ memories of the burial ground, archaeologists and researchers moved in and now believe the site is the largest known slave cemetery in the South. Shaded by trees, the hill in a residential district is now dotted with surveying markers and 249 orange flags identifying the likely locations of bodies buried in the field. “A lot people have always known about it,” says Ellen Ehrenhard, an archaeologist and director of the local historical society. But she said it took the city’s plan to build a network of walking trails, including one that would have passed through the cemetery field, to galvanize the groups to action. City officials have now shelved the plans.

“We want the young people here to grow up with a sense of pride in their community and in their culture, be they black or white,” said Diane Webb.

Webb is a member of the Order of Robert E. Lee, the ladies’ auxiliary group of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Southern heritage organization that holds that Confederate leaders fought to preserve “liberty and freedom” in the Civil War.

They are working with a local African-American women’s heritage group, and other organizations to preserve the site

“We’re all here together. We’re one community,” Webb stressed.

Cotton Boom Boosted Population During the 19th century, Newnan’s population was roughly 50 percent black, as the booming cotton trade increased the demand for labor. An 1828 map shows the burial grounds were adjacent to property owned by slaveowner Andrew Berry.

The grounds most likely became a cemetery for slaves working in houses and businesses, Ehrenhard believes. The graves are arranged in clusters, perhaps indicating family groups.

Bob Olmstead, a local resident who has long believed the site was a slave cemetery, led the push to preserve the site.

“There has been no black history in Newnan until now,” said Olmstead, who is white.

Olmstead hopes the site will eventually become one of the 72,000 sites listed with the National Register, and preserved as a piece of Southern history.

Slaves were commonly buried in simple pine boxes or shrouds on the plantations of their owners, said Josh Rothman, a history professor at the University of Alabama. They were often identified only by wooden markers or stones, and careful records were seldom kept.

In 1991, some 420 skeletons of slaves were found in New York City, the largest such cemetery known.

Archaeologists at the University of Tuscaloosa have agreed to exhume two graves at the Newnan cemetery and perform DNA tests to determine the origins of the remains.

Alan Wang of ABCNEWS affiliate WSB in Atlanta contributed to this report.


(The site didn't tell what year and it was before my time (I started volunteering in May 2003) dianne Wood

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mrs Johnny Brown to donate Coach Seldon poster to Museum

Mrs Johnny Brown stopped by today and wishes to donate a poster dedicated to "Pap" Coach Henry Seldon. She will have it framed and bring it back. Thanks Mrs Brown for your thoughtfullness and she also said she has many football pictures that we may be able to come and scan for the museum also.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leigh family wants more info after nice reunion

The Leigh family had a nice reunion last year and want to find more info for the one next year.

Hill and Upshaw descendants come for help

Descendents of Leill Hill who married Alonzo Bell and Garfield Upshaw came to find their relatives. Their daughter Minnie Lee married Thomas Dunlap, who all in the pictures are children and grand children. Martha Dunlap takes a break to tell us a story from Rev. Robert Sutton's favorite chair.

We found Henry Upshaw born about 1840 in North Carolina married Lucy and were in Coweta in 1870 and 1880. Some of their children came back and forth from Meriwether to Coweta several times.

William Hill born about 1818 in North Carolina was in Coweta in 1860 and owned many slaves. We think one of them was Harry Hill born 1844 in Georgia. He married Charlotte and had: July 1863, Margaret 1865 and maybe more. The 1900 Census tells us that July married Rebecca Harris about 1882 and had the following children: Lilah, Harry, Charlotte, Allie Lee, Jim T, Lishary, Paton, Aurelia and Lillie May. Of coarse the names may not be the exactly the ones they were called because the census takers wrote down what they heard and maybe not what was said. Any one with more info please let us know.

Cassandra looking for Thomas and Lowe cousins

>Atlanta Author, Cassandra L. Thomas came to Coweta on January 27, 2009 to research her Thomas, Lowe, Denson, Smith, and Barnes families. Her great grandparents Abe(1876) and Willie(1882) Smith were in Henry County in 1930. Her great grandparents, John Preston Thomas, Sr. (1888) and Estelle Lowe (1896) were in Coweta earlier than 1900. Estelle died in 1932. Their son John Jr. married Annie Maude Smith, daughter of Richard and Mollie Barnes Smith of Culloden, Ga. On September 4, 1943.

We worked on the family history for and hour or so and then went to the Probate office to see if there was a marriage certificate for them. We found one and moved on to the Deed office, which is where the pic was taken. No deeds were found but we drove down to Grantville to see the approximate place where they were in early 1900's. Cassandra is ready to move down to Coweta because of its beauty, serenity and calmness. She lives downtown Atlanta now and hates traffic.

After successfully locating family members on January 27th, Cassandra returned to Newnan four days later on January 31, 2009 with her uncle Ricky and auntie Juanita to meet newfound family members that her aunts and uncles had not seen in over forty-five years.

Update: Over 100 family members showed up for the Thomas, Lowe & Bonner Family Reunion - 46 Years Later at the home of Willie Whatley in Hogansville, Ga on July 4th. Cassandra is also Founder/Chief Editor of Books Avenue Magazine in Atlanta. www.booksavenuemagazine.ning.com

Anyone that can help with this family please call or email us.

Melvin Davis searches for family from North Carolina

Mr. Melvin Davis has been coming to the museum on and off for about a year. We have been working on his family from North Carolina. He has been doing research for at least 20 years. So we are filling in Census information, deaths and finding in-laws.

His family includes the Davis family from Vance County and probably descends from or was owned by Archibald Davis a white plantation owner.
Also these families: Foster, Williams, Granger, Grissom, Malone, Peace, Yarborough, Plater, Sutton, Turner, Richardson, Hunter, and Taylor.

Harmon Brothers find fun in 1960's Central High Yearbooks

Sam and Kerry Harmon look through the Central High School yearbooks loaned to the museum by Miss Annie Clowers. A few years are available, 1962, 66, 67, 69, & 70.
Anyone wishing to loan or donate yearbook from Coweta or surrounding counties please let us know. By loaning books, they are available for a designated time and then returned to the owners.

Don't forget we have the Coach Henry Seldon exhibit available for viewing thru May 16, 2009. We are asking folks to come and tell us thier stories and rememberances of Coach Seldon to put on a dvd. We also have one of the football reel to reels put on dvd for viewing. So come on down and see if your relative was playing then.

Michelle comes to Research family

Michelle Mizell Douglas came in January to research her Mizell, Roberts, Tunsil, Tarver and Strawder families.

Some from South Georgia removed to Florida. Anyone with knowledge of them please let us know.

Grandparents Houston & Lilla Roberts, Colier & Rosa Tarver Tunsil.
Great grandparents Samuel & Emmaline Colier, William & Darnell Strawder Tarver.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Hill Family

Brenda (Hill) and Adarius Hart came to see me today. Brenda wanted help with her Hill family history. She knew her parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

Andrew Hill was born about 1877 and died 1936. We found his father Daniel on the 1870 and 1880 Census. The 1880 census says Daniel Hill 27, Lizzie 25, Dan 7, Henry 4, and Andrew 3. We are still looking for Dan and Henry. Andrew married first to Iula (maybe a Hunter) and had George 1900 and James 1901 and one other child who died. Then Andrew married Emma Lambert and had Mary, Lula Mae, Oliver, Willie A, Jimmie, Oliver and others.

Oliver Hill (1918) married Cora E Jackson (1919--2001) and had at least 14 children.
One was George who married Peggy Shropshire who were Brenda's parents.

Anyone with information on any Hill family in Coweta please contact me. There were many. Also Lambert, Jackson, Shropshire, Neely, Rutledge, Strickland, Calhoun and Bohannon.

Don't forget you can donate to the museum at paypal by using AAA@numail.org

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More on Dr. John H Jordan

Dr. Jordan was the first black doctor in Newnan GA.

Born in Troup County in 1870, he received his early education in Hogansville and LaGrange. Dr. Jordan is a graduate of Clark College in Atlanta and MeHarry Medical College of Nashville in 1896.

He was the second black Doctor in Troup County, the first being his father in law Dr. Edward B. Ramsey. He was the first black doctor in Hogansville; he served there for two years before coming to Newnan. When He died in 1912 his death was mourned by both races.

The City of Newnan honored his memory by naming the first low-income housing project on West Washington Street and Boone Drive, Jordan Homes.

John Jordan was born Mar 11, 1870 and died Sep 16, 1912. He married Mollie Emma Ramsey Sep 22 1898. His father was Berry Jordan a sharecropper.

Dr. Jordan's son Edward wanted to be a doctor but it was not to be.
Edward's son Harold did become a doctor and spent most of his career at Meharry Medical College.

Berry Jordan born about 1845 was in Troup County Georgia in 1880 and 1900. The 1880 Census has Berry 35, Briney 10, and John 8. The 1900 Census tells us that Berry 50 is with Martha 49 (says they married about 1892) and children: Florence G 22, Julia 15, James 14, Samuel 13, Martha A 12, Willie 9, Tilda 8 and grandchildren: Louseal 6, Iva N 4, Johnie 2 and Mother Loueza 70 born VA.

John Henry was on the 1900 and 1910 in Coweta County. 1900 says J H 30, Mollie E 22 in Newnan. 1910 lets us know that John H was 40yrs, Mollie E 31 and Edward L was 9, they lived on Pinson St.

Great grand daughter Karen's blog

Monday, August 18, 2008

Relatives of Charlie Burch visit museum again

Burch relative visits museum again today. Beverly Franks, the great great neice of Charlie Burch (the only person of 250 in the Farmer St Cemetery who has a tombstone)comes down from Atlanta to check on the Farmer Street Cemetery. She enjoyed a tour of the museum and told me more information about the family history. She came down five years ago to talk to Cynthia Rosers about the family. I had already read the research began by Helen Bowles but had not delved into the family history of the Burch and Cox families. Will keep you updated when I finish reading the large file.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

From Georgia to Philly and back, Research in progress

Bernice Nicholson Crumbley grew up in South Carolina but ended up in Phily. Her father Garlington Nicholson born 1891 married Leila Adams. We found Garlington's World War One Draft Card Registration online. We also found him with his parents Hill (1870) and wife Mollie (1873) on the 1900, 1910 and 1920 Census for Edgefield County SC Census'. Then we found Hill on the 1880 Edgefield Co Census with his mother Nancy born about 1840. Mrs. Bernice was so excited to find information about her great grandparents.

Leila Adams' parents were Prince (1871) and Clara Stevens Childs (1864) on the 1900 Edgefield Co Census. Clara was born a Stevens but we could not find anymore info on her.

Then we went on to her husbands side of the family tree. Bernice married Joseph (1924)Crumbley in 1946. His parents were in Phily in 1930: Jackson (1903 Georgia) and Lenora (1906)Blount Crumbley. Jackson was one of the youngest children of Porter Crumbley and Savannah both born about 1860 in Burke County Georgia. Unfortunately Porter was a farm hand in the house of Rins Johnson in 1870 so we may never know his parents because he was not living with them. Bernice says there are not many "older generation" folks left to ask, maybe none. There was an Edward Crumley in the same county in 1870, was Edward who was born about 1820 his father, is he the son of two slaves or was Porter not born in Georgia as he stated on five different census'?

If you have any info on any of these families please email me or leave a message here.

Visitors from New Jersey research family

Melissa Barnes and her son Jarret Brown come to Coweta for the Meriwether-Harmon Family Reunion. Cousin Celeste Ann Harmon Ogletree brought them to the Museum so they could both find more information on their family for the reunion.

Their family ties include Harmon, Meriwether, Johnson, Orr, Barnes, Geter, Prather, Thomas, Newson, Hill and Burkes.

If anyone also ties to these families please email or call me so I can help you tie into them.

"Jarett was so proud of his 'new' Museum T-shirt that he wore it for a few days!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Colored Scouts celebrate Scouting Anniversary Feb 1941

A look back in the News:
The Newnan Herald Feb 27, 1941

Our last program celebrating Boy Scout Week ended Sunday, with an anniversary sermon preached by Rev. Griggs. The theme was “What Shall I Do For My Son?. The patrols had their exhibits of things made by the members of their patrol. On Friday at our program service at school we were favord with a very inspiring speech by Colonel Sanders. Last Wednesday night Scoutmaster King and the following scouts went on a trip to Senoia GA: Walker Brown, Wilbur Clay, Oliver Newell and Carlton Flemmings. They enjoyed the trip and found much pleasure in helping these boys pass their requirements. We also thank the P.T.A. for sponsoring the Valentine Party for the benifet of the Boy Scouts. Our financial campaign will end Sunday at the Savannah St High School. There will be visiting Troops from Grantville, Senoia, Moreland and Newnan at large. If there are any services we can render don’t fail to notify us as we are ready with a smile. Boys hurry and get your required fee (50cents) before March 17. Walter Williams, Troop Scribe

Connally Family comes to do Research

The Connally's came to research on their family which includes Zackary, Amey, Parks, Smith, Brown, Jackson, Render, Davis, & Turner.

Please come and let us help you research your family history.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

First African American Surgeon in South Carolina Matilda Evans

June 23rd *On this date we celebrate the birth of Matilda Arabelle Evans, in 1872. She was an African-American Surgeon.

The oldest of three children born to Harriet and Andy Evans, Matilda was from Aiken County, South Carolina. As a student at the Scholfield Normal and Industrial School, she became a protégé of the school's founder, Martha Scholfield, an outstanding educator. Evans attended Oberlin College in Ohio before enrolling at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania to earn a medical degree. She then returned to South Carolina to practice surgery, gynecology, and obstetrics. Evans opened her medical practice in Columbia, which, at that time, offered no hospital facilities for African-American people.

With a generosity that was typical of her, Evans took patients into her own home until she could establish a hospital for them. In 1901, she established the Taylor Lane Hospital, both a hospital and a training school for nurses. The hospital was later destroyed by fire that led to another hospital before moving to a larger facility, which was named the St. Luke's Hospital and Training School for Nurses. In 1918, she became a registered volunteer in the Medical Service Corps of the United States Army. She also founded the Good Health Association of South Carolina to help convince people that they could improve their own health by following sound health practices and safe sanitary habits Charity, compassion and a love of children were the hallmarks of Dr. Evans' career; which was earmarked as she charged only nominal fees. She rode bicycles, horses and buggies to visit the sick that were unable to go to her surgery. She provided for school physical examinations and immunizations, which saved the lives of countless young children and in 1930, operated a clinic that was free for Black children who needed medical treatment and vaccinations. Incredibly, Evans found the time to raise 11 children who needed a home.

In addition to becoming a "mother" to some of the children who were left at her practice, she brought up five children from relatives who had died. She taught the children respect, cleanliness and manners, and provided them all with the opportunity for a college education. People, both young and old, enjoyed the facilities that she shared at a recreational center which she developed on her twenty-acre farm. Evans was an active member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and she loved to swim, dance, knit and play the piano. Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia has named an award in her honor.

The first African-American woman to be licensed as a physician in South Carolina, Matilda Evans died in 1935.

Reference: African Americans and South Carolina: History, Politics and Culture Dr. Phebe Davidson, University of South Carolina-Aiken
Samuel A. Jones, Jr., Events Coordinator




Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Visitors all the way from England

Today Wed 21st, I enjoyed my short time with Mr & Mrs Steve Williams. They are touring parts of the South. I am so glad they ended up in Newnan and in the Museum. They told me that Liverpool and Bristol were began as port for mainly the slave trade. We discussed lots of interesting things. But also the fact that Jamacians began to re-integrate England in the 1940's and later. They were taught that England was their motherland, but when they moved there, there were many places that had signs "No blacks allowed". So they could not even find a place to spend the night in their HOMELAND. Also that the first Director of the museum's mother is from Jamacia and that Cynthia is now doing short films for the BBC about Jamacians who moved to England. Tracing their families now back to Jamacia is the ultimate goal.

Denmark Journalist visit Coweta

Thanks to the jounalists for visiting the Museum on the 12th of May! Their ideas from places outside the US was very enlightening. They are here to cover the election from Coweta's point of view. As you know you do not talk politics at a non-profit place. So conversations on that point was limited. They did enjoy the tour of the museum and my stories of black history here. I told them more places to see and people to talk to including Sarah Thomas and Josephine Rush Whatley.