Thursday, April 8, 2021

A Pilgrimage

Easter weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to rural Georgia to explore backroads and visit some cemeteries. This was a sort-of homecoming for me. It may be strange saying that considering I had never been to this part of Georgia. But... this was the land of my ancestors. This was where pioneers, sharing my DNA, settled, worked, prayed, and died. I felt so much of a spiritual connection to these lands, I felt... home.

My first stop, after a 4 hour drive, was to the historic Jones Creek Baptist Church in Long County (formerly a part of Liberty County.) This church and cemetery was special to me because, although it was a small church in a very rural area of Georgia, I had numerous ancestors from various lines of my family tree attend here. In fact, my 5th great grandfather, Moses Westberry, was the first preacher and one of the founders of the church which was formed in 1810. As I researched Moses, I realized that he wasn't the only one. Charles and Martha Flowers were in the first group of congregants to leave Beards Creek Baptist Church and attend Jones Creek. Richard and Mary Hendley Horne were listed as early congregants. In 1856, their son, Hendley Foxworth Horne, built the old church building that stands today. Although simple in construction and style, it is a testament to the 19th century building practices and has stood the test of time through hurricanes, storms, harsh winters, and the insufferable southern Summer humidity. 

I strolled around the building silently and imagined the lives of those who came before us. These were a simple folk. Workers of the land. God fearing. These were my people. I stepped into the cemetery and began noticing the names of the headstones. I began recognizing more and more surnames. They were names I have seen before in my tree. Names that now felt more real to me. These were real people. This is where they congregated, met their future spouses, held important meetings, and now reside for eternity. My people.

As I finished walking through the hallowed grounds, I had noticed the creek that ran next to the property. This was Jones Creek. It was here that many of my people were baptized. This was their holy water. What a sight it was. It was a brief look into the past. The running creek flowed through the Georgia foliage, under the trees that have shaded these waters for many years. This creek washed the sins away of my people. I stood in awe, as if time had stopped. It was here, within the natural beauty of this land that I saw a slight hill that went down to the waters. This must have been where Moses led his people for their baptism. This was where spiritual lives changed.

I noticed there were more graves in the woods behind the fence of the cemetery. I was puzzled by this. Were these graves a part of the cemetery? A sign on an old wooden outbuilding answered my question. This was the "black cemetery." These graves were not out in the open within the fence of a well-manicured cemetery. These were under the same trees that shadowed the creek. The land wasn't as tidy. The leaves crunched under my feet as I noticed indentions in the ground. These were probably graves too. No marker to give their name. These could have been graves of the enslaved. They could have been graves of the poor who couldn't afford a headstone. Perhaps they once had wooden markers that have disintegrated over the years. There were quite a few that had headstones. People with names. Regardless of age, race, sex, or societal rank; they were people at peace under the hallowed trees besides their holy creek. They may have worked for decades in the fields, under the hot sun; but now they were shaded. Protected by the trees. With one another. In death, they were in paradise.

My stop at Jones Creek originally, was to see the church where my people worshipped. To see the earth where my people remain. But it was so much more. It was here, at Jones Creek, where I felt something more than a genealogical quest. Here I felt the sacred ground. Here I walked the earth of my ancestors. Here I felt a connection. Here... I felt... home.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Backroads, Old Houses, and Cemeteries

Recently, I have started traveling backroads - exploring local surroundings - in search of remnants of history. I have decided to start filming these travels and share them with the world. I find that the roads less traveled are quite peaceful and show a glimpse into the past and display the natural beauty of the South. Being a genealogist, I am naturally pulled towards cemeteries. I want to see who is buried there, and wonder who these people were. Where did they live? Where did they come from? Can I find their former land or house? I want to document these places and show them to anyone who may be interested. Perhaps you have ancestors from these places, but you live far away and can not visit them. Perhaps you want to see the area that your ancestors lived. 

This is why I started posting videos to the Kindred Roots YouTube channel. I welcome anyone that is interested in these things to subscribe to the channel. Please leave a comment. Let me know if you have any more information to add. Are you related to anyone in these cemeteries, or anyone who lived in an old house I have filmed, and have photos to share? Please do! This can be a collaborative effort to memorialize those who came before us. 

If anyone would like to make a donation to help support my travels, you can send donations via CashApp @ $KindredRoots352

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Letters from Lawson Webster to Atlanta Studstill Webster

Lawson William Webster and Atlanta Studstill Webster Clyatt

I know, I know... It's been a long time since I have posted anything to the Kindred Roots blog. Sometimes, life gets in the way. I have continued to work on my genealogy, albeit, not as much as I used to. 

Today, I would like to share some letters that were written in the early 1900's by my great grandfather, Lawson (L.W.) Webster, to his girlfriend/wife, Atlanta Studstill. 

Lawson William Webster was born in Washigton County, GA in 1884 to Lewis Webster and Ella Sheppard. He moved to North Florida around the turn of the 20th century. It was here that he would meet Atlanta Studstill.

Laura Darlin Smith Studstill and Atlanta Studstill
Atlanta was born in 1889 in Levy County, FL near what is now Chiefland; to Hustus "Hute" Studstill and Laura Darlin Smith. Atlanta and Lawson would have 4 children together. Lewis, Mildred, Lawson, and Dorothy "Dottie."

I know some of the handwriting is hard to read, but I hope you can get an understanding of what was being written. There was a bit of drama, and there was some pain as their first child, Lewis, died shortly after birth in December of 1909. 

Not all of the letters are dated, so I have done my best to place them in order, but the ones with unknown dates are towards the end.

Lawson would die fairly young in 1930 on a trip to Alabama. Atlanta remarried to Sebastian Cabot Clyatt in Levy County. She would pass away in 1965. Unfortunately, She would witness the death of her son, Lawson Jr. in 1957. They are all buried in Ebenezer Cemetery near Chiefland, FL.

Mildred Webster

Atlanta Studstill Webster Clyatt
Lawson Webster Jr. and his wife Annie Pearl Scoggins Webster
Dorothy "Dottie" Webster

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Websters and Studstills from Levy County FL

Recently, I was able to borrow some old photos and letters that belonged to my grandmother, Dorothy "Dottie"Webster. Since I haven't posted anything to the blog in a while, I decided I would at least share some of these. Some of the subjects in the photos I have not been able to identify, others took me a bit of time to research. A few of these were in such great condition, I made copies and digitally colored them. There are a few in this collection that I received afterwards from meeting some cousins from this side of my family, so I have included them here. All of these were from Levy County Florida.

I want to specially thank all of my cousins who have shared these with me. It means so much to me - having grown up most of my life not knowing this side of my family. 

Annie Pearl Scoggins Webster and Dottie Webster (Granny)

Annie Pearl Scoggins Webster

L to R: Atlanta Studstill Webster Clyatt, Ola Studstill Humphries,
Mildred Webster Etheridge, and Auburn Etheridge

Lizzie Studstill

Laura Darlin Smith Studstill and Atlanta Studstill (about 1897)

Laura Darlin Smith Studstill

Annie Pearl Scoggins Webster and Lawson Webster II

Lawson Webster III

Lawson William Webster II

Lonnie Jeremiah Studstill
(murdered in 1922)

Lonnie Jeremiah Studstill
Believed to be Ola Studstill

Believed to be Ola Studstill

Believed to be Mildred Webster

Believed to be Atlanta Studstill Webster and Dottie Webster (about 1927)


Ola Studstill Humphries



Believed to be Studstill's

Neighbors: The McClains and Websters

Reverse side of the above photo