Archive for February, 2008

Endangered Gunn Cemetery, Houston Co Ga

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

This is posted with the express permission of the owner, Stephanie, of

Gunn Cemetery

This just makes my sick to my stomach…sick sick sick, I cannot believe the city has allowed this disgrace, you can discuss it here Gunn Cemetery

The GUNN Family cemetery is located on Highway 41 in Centerville, Houston County, Georgia. The land around it has been stripped and the little family cemetery is in ruins. It is horrible to see. To make matters worse (in my opinion) those interred are relatives of Daniel Gunn, a Revolutionary War soldier given the land by grant for his service. This was one of the early settlers of the area. He operated a general store on the same road. Time deteriorates history enough, this total disregard for it speeds up the process tremendously.

I emailed the city administrator about the future of this cemetery. I have yet to receive a response.

There is a cross-road behind the cemetery named Gunn Road. We’ll name a road after you, but to hell with the graves of your family. Wow.

I have put up a page of grave marker transcriptions (the ones I could read and piece together) and photos here: Gunn Cemetery

You can see a few pics here, you can find more either on Stephanies site linked above, or in the discussion thread on AC, linked above

What do you know about the Veteran’s Administration Headstone Program?

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. For all deaths occurring before September 11, 2001, the VA may provide a headstone or marker only for graves that are not marked with a private headstone.
Spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible for a government-provided headstone or marker.
Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

Right now I am heading up a project for my husband’s family for one of his ancestors that fought in the War Between the States. At the time of his death in 1923, the family could not afford a traditional tombstone, which meant his is one of many graves marked by nothing but a fieldstone. Unfortunately the church cemetery he was buried at kept no records at all of the burials done in their cemetery, not even a note as to what section a person was laid to rest.
It has been 85 years since his death, and there is no longer anyone living who might remember which rock is his. We have no known place to put flowers or anything to honor him except that his death certificate states he was interred in a specific cemetery.
I am lucky enough that the pastor and the church board agree with me that its important for there to be a marker for this Confederate Veteran and they are currently voting on letting me place a stone in the cemetery, and while it might not be on his actual grave, its at least “something” and will act as a lasting remembrance to a man that endured four years of hell and survived to raise a very long lived and prolific family, one that I am extremely proud to have married into.

More Here

I turn page on my history

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

As posted on I turn page on my history

Discuss this story on the AC discussion board

By MELISSA O’BRIEN, Special to the Times
Published February 9, 2008

On my grandmother’s bookshelf, wedged in between Katharine Hepburn’s Me - Stories Of My Life and Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro was a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. It is a 1939 German edition, and inside the front cover, neatly scrolled like a wedding invitation, are the names of my grandparents and the date of their nuptials. My grandparents told me that this book was issued to every newly married couple in Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Having this book in my family’s possession has always made me uncomfortable. Sometimes, when I would visit my grandparent’s home, I would cautiously open the leather-bound book - flipping through it to see if there were any notes in the margin. Thankfully, there were no notes, and in fact, the book appeared as though it was never read. But it always surprised me that having settled in North Carolina after living in three states and three different countries, my grandparents never managed to purge this book with the junk most people get rid of every time they move.

When I was younger, growing up German meant eating red cabbage and sausage, opening Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and receiving tins full of lebkuchen and marzipan from our great-grandmother in Germany. It wasn’t until the fifth grade when I read The Diary of Anne Frank that I began to realize that being German had a stigma attached to it. I felt compelled to tell people when asked about my family’s heritage that my grandparents were not members of the Nazi Party and that my grandfather was not in the German army.

When both my grandparents had passed on, my mother decided to sell some of their things. I specifically asked her not to sell Mein Kampf. I wanted to find a way, short of burning the book, to dispose of it properly. The place I finally found for it may come as a surprise. I donated it to the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.

Why the Holocaust Museum? I called them to ask if they wanted the book as a record of the propaganda people received in Germany. The museum administrator said yes, she would, and also indicated to me that by keeping this book, the museum could prevent it from being in circulation, sold on eBay and or simply getting into the wrong hands.

I made my trip to the museum and asked a senior citizen behind the counter to direct me to a museum administrator.

What happened next took me completely by surprise. I burst into tears. “I’m sorry,” I sobbed. “I have this book and I want to get rid of it.” Mrs. Schwartz, a volunteer at the museum, came from around the counter at the gift shop to give me comfort. I explained to her the book’s history, why I had it and why I wanted to donate it to the museum. I felt compelled to tell her that even though one cannot compare the suffering, my German relatives had struggled too during the war and that I had an aunt who died at the age of 4 because a medicine shortage. And then I apologized for being German - again.

“Honey, you don’t need to be sorry,” Mrs. Schwartz said. “It was a different time. Your grandparents could have been killed if they spoke up.”

Needless to say, I sobbed through the entire exhibit. Not light tears - gut-wrenching, heaving sobs. Seeing pictures of children who look about the same age as my own 7- and 9-year-old - malnourished and surrounded by barbed wire - is enough to put anyone over the edge.

While walking through the exhibit, I was listening to a tour guide tell a group of teachers what children can expect when they visit the museum. “We want them to learn that they cannot remain silent,” she said. “They cannot sit back and allow something like this to happen again.”

Leaving the museum, I looked up at the banner, “Save Darfur.” It made me think - am I being silent? Mrs. Schwartz is right. It is a different time and a different place. We can speak up without the fear of condemnation. Fortunately as Americans, we can choose leaders in the 2008 elections that can and will put pressure on governments in places like Sudan and, hopefully, put an end to genocide.

As for the book, I am not sure if it is on display or if the museum staff just stored it away. I donated it anonymously. In its place, I bought a tiny box from Mrs. Schwartz in the gift shop. It is intricately carved with flowers and a Jewish Star of David on the top. It looks beautiful displayed upon my bookshelf.

Melissa O’Brien is a writer who lives in Tampa.

Obituaries wanted!!!

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

We have started a new section on AC for obituaries….I’d love for you to post any you might have in your files, any are great, but the older the better :) We all know that sometimes they can be a wealth of information!! I recently found one that not only told me that some people were still living at the time of their relative’s death, but gave me a child I didn’t know existed…so I invite you to share the ones you may have collected here:

Obituary Forum

Make sure to pick the appropriate forum (divided alphabetically) to post it in. For the women, post them under the first letter of the last name they carried when they died and as the post title post their name like this First Middle(if they had one) Maiden Married(if they did indeed get married)

I look forward to reading them, some I have seen are really interesting and informative.

New Alabama Forum

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I found this on a mailing list this morning and wanted to pass it along to any of our Alabama researchers :) It can never hurt to have your queries in more than one place lol How many of you have them all over roots web, but were able to actually get help when you came here :P

This link will take you to a brand new message board. All you need to do is register (free) first and then find “Alabama genealogy” under the forums heading. I am trying to build members there. You can post your surnames, upload photos, upload documents, etc. Please give it a look……

Good luck with the forum Melissa!!!!

Putting a face on William White

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for this lol I know…Im prob the only one THIS excited about being able to interview Joe Mullins, but Im going to share anyway :dance:

A little over a month ago I found an article detailing the development of an interesting news story, well interesting to me. It was titled “Newfound descendants of boy in iron coffin gather Smithsonian unveils image of what orphan would have looked like” written by Carol Vaughn for the Delmarva Daily News.

Right away I was fascinated since this seemed to combined two big interests to me, genealogy and forensic anthropology. The article tells the story of the search to identify remains buried in Virginia over 150 years ago and long forgotten until they were accidentally dug up by utility workers and turned over to the Smithsonian.

You can find Carol’s article

Captivated, I immediately began searching out more information and found a few other news articles on the subject and immediately posted everything I could find on my genealogy forum because it was just too awesome not to share. I mean what genealogist in their right mind wouldn’t just love this? How many times have we sat and wondered what some ancestor we are researching looked like and this person’s family was going to know.

Thanks to someone else on the forum who found the following article I was able to get a little more information on the processes that had gone on, you can find that article  HERE

And I also found a write up on the Smithsonian’s website about it. This was all great information. But, yes there is always a “but” with me, it didn’t tell me the things I was really wanted to know and the geek in me was screaming out to be fed more information. It was like I have been given a hundred calorie snack pack when I wanted the whole box of cookies. So I began a quest, I’m sure some people are familiar with this kind of quest, the kind where you sit on every search engine you can find to find more information. Unfortunately, I had found just about everything there was on it and was coming down from a big research high when I had a brilliant thought!

I would write to Ms. Vaughn and ask her if there were any more details that maybe my googling skills could not find!! I was so proud of myself at that moment. I emailed her using the contact information from the first story I read and asked the “is there more” question. She politely emailed me back and suggested I might contract Deborah Hull-Walski at the Smithsonian to see what she might tell me.

I learned a long time ago, the worst that can happen if you ask someone to help you with something is that they say no, and I have gotten to do and see some pretty amazing things in my life living by that. So here we start the quest….little did I know how difficult it was going to be to track down contact information for Ms. Hull-Walksi, I should have known though, as much as I research, that I never find what I’m looking for the first go around and it took me the better part of a morning to find an email address for her online that didn’t bounce back as undeliverable.

Basically what I was looking for was pictures of the facial reconstruction from beginning to end. One of the newspaper stories had a picture but it wasn’t all that great and I wanted more.

I was not really expecting to hear back from her, she is after all a very busy woman with a position at the Smithsonian, but I had to try. So, on December 18 2007 I sent her an email detailing what it was I wanted and why and you could have knocked me over with a feather three days later when she answered me.

Unfortunately she did not have what I was looking for, but told me who I could contact that would have it, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Now, I was really hesitant to bother them, they do very important things and in my mind what I wanted was very very trivial in the bigger scheme of things, but the devil geek on my shoulder would not let me pass this opportunity up and Ms. Hull-Walski assured me it would be ok to contact them, but once again I had to find the contact information on my own. Joy of joy’s a googler’s life is never dull.

Looking at the website for NCMEC I finally decided to use their media email address and fired off another missive of what I was looking for and why and two days after Christmas I got a response. No, response is an understatement, because what I got was so much more. Not only did I get a picture, I was told that it could be arranged for me to actually speak with the people in charge of the facial reconstruction.

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in two things that I never really thought I would get a chance to be involved in, the first was going on an archaeological dig and the second, watching a facial reconstruction and this was as close as I was going to get to the reconstruction or so I thought at the time.

I had to think quickly because there was no way I was ready to talk with them, I needed to get my head together so that I didn’t sound like some giddy high schooler when I did talk to them. Luckily, I could use the holidays as an excuse and explained to the person that emailed me back that I would get my thoughts together and get back with her after the holidays to set up a time and she said that was fine, just to let her know when I was ready.

…..If you would like to read the actual interview, please visit the discussion thread. You do not have to be a registered member to access it.

I hope you enjoy

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