Sunday, May 2, 2021

Reidsville, Tattnall County GA

Reidsville, Tattnall County GA

 

Not all Southern county seats are located in large metropolitan cities. Reidsville GA is a perfect example of this. With a population of roughly 5000 people, it still holds the charm of a small Southern town with the quaintness of the old South. Founded in about 1828, many people have lived and died here. Many families have called it home for generations, and yet, many families have moved away with prospects of a better life. 


It is unclear to me why, but it seems that many of my ancestors have, at one point or another, lived in Tattnall County. Being so rural, and with such a small population, it seems odd to me how so many in my family tree have come from Tattnall County. Many of these families of mine never even met until generations later in Florida. So I had to take a trip to Tattnall County to see what the scenery was like, what the towns looked like, the view of the farms, the old houses, and the graves of those who came before me.



Tattnall County Courthouse

Original look of the courthouse
Passing through Reidsville, I gazed upon the beautiful architecture of the Tattnall County Courthouse. I had to stop and take a few photos and videos. The current courthouse building was built in 1902, and was the 3rd courthouse building of Tattnall County. Over the last century, this building has had renovations and restorations made to it. Originally, it looked a bit different with a clock tower that nearly doubled it's height. Here in this building, and the previous ones before it, my ancestors and kin have conducted business, made transactions, and applied for marriage licenses. Inside, the records of my people are stored for safe keeping for future generations.

Alexander Hotel

Next to the courthouse, I saw an old two story building that had such charm to it. I walked around it to see a sign stating that it was the Alexander Hotel. Older than the current courthouse, the Alexander Hotel was built in 1892 by Doctor Orlando Alexander. He ran the hotel for many years as a place for people to stay when they traveled to town to conduct business at the courthouse. 

It was, at one point, in a sad shape and fallen into disrepair. A committee was formed to restore the old building and preserve it's beauty. It is currently used as a civic center for Reidsville.

 
Veterans Memorial Park

Civil War Monument


Adjacent to the Alexander Hotel was a small park with numerous monuments and a path that would take a pedestrian by each monument. Each memorial was dedicated to a war that our country has participated in and on each monument were the names of Tattnall County residents that participated in that war. It was a beautiful homage to our ancestors and kin who have served and fought for our country.


The following is video that I took of the courthouse, Alexander Hotel, and the Veterans Memorial Park followed by photos of each of the monuments.















Follow Kindred Roots on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/KindredRoots79

Subscribe to Kindred Roots on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO8WrZNB2KdJfwI_YT2i0Cw

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.  


The following is video footage from my visit to Jones Creek. 




Be sure to follow Kindred Roots on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/KindredRoots79

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