St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Remembering Black History: Whispers in the Savannah Barracoons

Recently, I gathered my children and headed on a road trip to Savannah.  After all, the weather was delightful and I was ready to escape all the dreariness of winter and cabin fever.

I wanted to be sure to talk history and show some historic places to the kids.  While I didn't have the time on this trip to visit the final resting spot of my 2g-grandpa at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, I did make the time to wander River Street, and of course, the Pirate House.

I find the history of River Street and the surrounding area fascinating even if my family had no ties to Savannah.  My 2g-grandpa is only laid to rest there as he was traveling home to South Carolina after having been wounded in the Civil War when he died.

River Street dates back in time to early Savannah.  I can just imagine the ships arriving with new supplies, visitors and cotton being taken to market. I remember going to Savannah often as a child and my Yank dad pointing the Slave Barracoons that are right at River Street.

Looking at the barracoons, you can see the small windows each one had to allow air in and out.  The doors are long gone, but evidence of them being there at one time are still visible.  The barracoons were and are rather dark and dismal.  It's just hard to believe that people were kept there as they were most likely jammed in tight.  Up above one opening on the day we were there was a gorgeous tree who had just sported its new spring coat.  What a contrast of color and hope that tree presents next to the barracoon.

Today, these temporary holding places for slaves are used as parking spots. There are no signs or plaques to indicate what these holding places were used for.  I find that sad.

I struck up a conversation while I was there with two local gents who thanked me for taking the time to look at the barracoons and tell my children about them.  The gents also were happy to tell me that spirits of the past can easily be felt in the lower levels of the some of the antique shops which are down on or right above River Street.  I imagine the fear those poor souls felt would be something that could linger in the air.

The gents also said slaves who had been transported to Savannah from other places would be kept on Hutchinson Island until they were brought over to the Savannah port to market. Included in the lore from the gents was that slaves, their ancestors, would gather the unwanted fish thrown to the island by the fishermen boats at night.  They said lobster and shrimp would have been on the menu as those sought after treats of today were not so popular with the Savannah folk back then.

The gents also regaled me with other stories about when George Washington was in Savannah, but to date,  I have found no supporting documentation for their statements on slavery rules in Savannah.

Ahh, genealogy.  Learning about others' roots in early America can make you sit still and listen for  whispers in the wind.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cooking in The Past

Have you ever noticed the warm comforting feeling you get when you eat your favorite foods?  Have you noticed that eating certain foods can bring up some really fond memories?

Even though I never knew my great grandmother, thoughts of her come racing through my veins every time I eat her special mayo recipe that I use in a salad recipe.  Yep, breaking all those eggs and taking the time to recreate her recipe just makes me hum and smile all day.

I also am fortunate enough to have a cookbook of my grandmother's.  This cookbook is also the source of fond memories as I did know her sweet smile.  How I smile each time I glance at her handwriting and look at the pages she turned so lovingly by hand.  The handwritten notations on the pages of "grand" and "simply grand" result in her face floating in the air and me feel like I've just gotten a great big hug.

This wonderful old cookbook, Rumford Complete Cook Book, has my grandmother's handwritten notes and is dated January 21, 1926.  The Rumford book was published as early as 1908 and was in production for about 40 years.  I even found evidence of my mom learning to cook with this cookbook when I found her name, signature and a date.

As for me, I hope my kids will think kindly of me as they grow up and remember "Mom"s Homemade Secret Recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake." After all, I do make each Valentine's Day.

Ahh, genealogy.  How easy it is to find our roots in the food the eat!

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Old Pittsburgh Newspaper Marriage and Divorce Indices

The awesome all volunteer group from the Rootsweb Mailing Group that I am associated with has done it again.  We've recently celebrated our one year anniversary for the death index we've been compiling from old newspapers in the Pittsburgh area.  Yep, we've been combing the old newspapers from the last 200 years and the entries just keep on coming.

What would we do without the wonderful volunteers?  (Did I mention these 46 super folks are fantastic in their commitment to the project?)

Just in case you missed it, our little project now has marriage and divorce sections, as well as our new military index with names from World War I.

Latest index numbers for marriages online (and available to all for free- well, maybe an occasional shout out from other researchers):  16,520

Latest index numbers for the divorce:  1083

Latest index numbers for the World War I military personnel index: 37, 324

Click here to go to the pages to see if you will shout for joy in your Pittsburgh area research:

Ahh, genealogy.  The old marriages and happy times come alive just in time for Valentine's Day.  After all, we needed them for our generation.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday Madness: Identifying the Dead in St Mary's, Georgia

Not being able to identify the last resting place for a loved one can be downright frustrating, especially when you just know they are there.

I ran across the work done by the historians in St. Mary's, Camden, Georgia, and want to tip my hat to their hard work and dedication.  Keep up the great efforts!

Historians identify unmarked graves at Ga. cemetery

ST. MARYS, Ga. — Kay Westberry knows that most of the hundreds of unmarked graves in Oak Grove Cemetery will never be identified.

Worse still, many graves will never be found.

She knows no one can pay her and the group of Camden County historians working with her for the painstaking research they do — often in vain — to fill in the blanks.

But in just a matter of months,....

Ahh, genealogy.  Can't you just dig it?

©2011 AS Eldredge

Friday, February 04, 2011

Online South Carolina Slave Records Keep Growing

A very special kudos to my genealogy buddy, Lowcounty Africana, for her dedication and ongoing spirit as she has built many pages for the free Footnote Collections on South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872.

She has transcribed the slaves' names of many of the early plantation owners and invites other family researchers to contribute pictures and documents to the pages.

Just in case you have roots in the lowcountry, you may want to check it out.

I keep watching in the hope you'll get around to finding an estate for one of my elusive ancestors.

Ahh, genealogy.  Got to remember the past in order to learn and improve our future.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Happy 278th to the Peach State!

This year marks the 278th anniversary of the founding of the great state of Georgia.  How much do you know about General Oglethorpe?  

Thought you genealogy buffs would be interested in wishing Georgia "Happy Birthday."

Georgia Turns 278 Saturday

MILLEDGEVILLE — The fifth annual celebration of the founding of Georgia will be held at the Georgia’s Old Capital Museum Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The celebration marks the 278th birthday of Georgia and the day that General Oglethorpe and the first colonists of Georgia landed at Yamacraw Bluff.
Read the rest of the story:

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Linking Pittsburgh Area WWI Vets for Today's Family

Even though we've been cold, wet, and sometimes stranded during the raging winter weather, my volunteer research efforts have been roaring on.

The death/marriage/divorce indices that I coordinate for the old Pittsburgh newspapers have given rise to another new index.

It's really cool to announce not only the World War I men of Allegheny County whose names were listed in the local newspaper, but I also get to send kudos to Norm M for setting up a webpage which details the issues of the newspapers that have been indexed by Lynn B.

Go to the site to see some of the over 30,000 hometown military personnel names and activities.  If you've got Pittsburgh area roots from that time period, you may be in for a special treat.  Even if you don't have roots in the area, you can just spend some time reading about World War I.

Ahh, genealogy.  What great reading for a winter day.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Easier to Search Old Newspapers from Athens, Georgia

Love seeing how more and more historic newspapers are going online so we can continue our genealogy research from the comforts of our homes when the weather outside is frightful!

Thought you'd be interested in seeing this great news from UGA:

Historic Athens newspapers now available online via digital library

An archive of historic Athens newspapers is now available online via the Digital Library of Georgia at the University of Georgia.

The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive provides online access to five newspaper titles published in Athens from 1827 to 1922. Consisting of more than 57,000 newspaper pages, the archive provides historical images that are both full-text searchable and can be browsed by date. The site provides users with a view into the history of Athens in its early years as the home to the first state-chartered university in the nation and its eventual growth into the largest city in northeast Georgia.

The archive includes the following Athens newspaper titles: Athenian (1827-1832), Southern Banner (1832-1882), Southern Watchman (1855-1882), Daily/Weekly Banner-Watchman (1882-1889), Daily/Weekly Athens Banner (1889-1922).

The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia as part of the Georgia HomePLACE initiative. The project is supported with federal Library Service and Technology Act funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Digitization also was made possible through a grant provided by the Francis Wood Wilson Foundation, Inc. The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive is available at

Other newspaper archives available through the Digital Library of Georgia include the Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive (1847-1922), the Macon Telegraph Archive (1826-1908), the Columbus Enquirer Archive (1828-1890), the Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive (1808-1920), the Southern Israelite Archive (1929-1986), and the Red and Black Archive (1893-2006). These archives can be accessed at

“Georgia HomePLACE is very pleased to support digitizing and presenting online content for the Athens Historic Newspapers Archive, a project of the Digital Library of Georgia, which is an initiative of GALILEO (Georgia’s Virtual Library),” said Ed Johnson, director of Georgia HomePLACE.


Ahh, genealogy.  What a great way to keep warm on these blustery winter days.

©2011 AS Eldredge