Thursday, December 24, 2009

Other: Climbing the Family Tree

The papers I mentioned in my previous post made me want to learn a little more about my family history. By great fortune, my paternal grandmother had been a Mormon and they are very big on genealogy. My mother showed me where some of her research papers were. I haven't found a nicely formatted tree, per se, but there are many sheets from The Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Inc with the hand-copied records of various family members of my father's side of the family. The earliest date I've found so far was for a Thomas with my surname, born circa 1783 in Randolph County, Georgia, occupation "Farmer." The fields for his father's and mother's names are blank.

There are some wonderful type-written records with stories. Some are straightforward. My father's father's death, at the age of 43 is described:
...died of a heart attack about noon Sunday July 8, 1962. He had gone fishing, and died at the water.
From what I can tell, his father had also died of a heart attack in 1940 at about the same age.

Two accounts of the same person:
Dr. James Perry of England born about 1770 moved to Richmond or Petersburg, VA about 1790, moved to Darien Georgia to Perry's Mill on Cobb Creek and Altamaha River about 1800 to 1835. Died and ware buried in a brick vault at Perry's Mill about 1835.

Dr. James Perry of England settled at Petersburg Va and was a very eminent surgeon of the day. Subsequently he moved to Darien Ga and built a handsome home on the Altamaha river and established Perry's Mill which remains to the present date 1904. He built a sanitorium and had a large practice.
I believe my great-grandmother was descended from him.

Two accounts of his son and grandson, who had quite an amazing story:
Thomas Watkins Perry, Sr. was born in Richmond Va. and lived afterwards at Hatchechubbee, Ala. He was a veteran of the war of 1812... [He] had three sons in the Civil War in the C.S. Army. Patrick Henry Perry, William Condon Perry of Hardaway's Battery, Thomas Watkins Perry, Jr. of Co. E. 39th Alabama under Col (later Gen) H.D. Clayton. He served through the war and was severely wounded at the battle of Atlanta, Ga. Shot through the chest, worms (blow flies) ate the decay and he lived for more than fifty years.

Thomas Watkins Perry, Jr. born March 12, 1842 son of Smithie Tarver Perry, received his education from the best schools of the country during his time... He was Lieutenant in Co. E 39th Regiment of Alabama Volunteers in the Civil War, under Col. (afterwards General) H. D. Clayton. He left Seale Ala on March 15, 1862 in this company... On July 22, 1864 at the later battle of Atlanta, a ball passed through the body of Lieutenant Perry and tore away part of his right lung. After the surrender he resumed farming. He is now the clerk of circuit court of Russell County of strong vigor, developed by out of door life. (1904)
There were actually a number of relatives from the various branches who fought and often died for the Confederacy.

One transcription has this moving note:
Watt Perry (born June 1, 1877) died Jan 17, 1893 buried in Seale, Ala. Cemetery. "My darling Boy" God have mercy on me and help me to bear this great loss.
Jan 17, 1895 we are back at home where my good child died. Life is still so hard without my boy and how can I live without him.
January 17, 1897 we are preparing to leave our old home. All memories of the dead and past rush thick up on me. Leaving the grave of my poor dead boy, to return when and how is beyound my recording.
Jan 1898 one year in Brantley. "Thank God for all of my loved ones, that out of storm and care, have risen to peaceful heights above and stay to meet me there. Thy will be done."
-Mary Perry

Most of the deaths were of older people dying of natural causes, but there are some exceptions:
Sankey Perry born 1870 died 1935... Was shot on the street in Phenix City, Alabama by a man who was jealous of him because he was kind to and loved by children of people with whom be boared [?].
Nickolas K. Perry, born 1910. Died 1934. Killed by robbers while he and young lady were out for ride and stopped to look at moon, and were singing and negros who were sleeping in the woods appeared to take car and money, not a planned robbery.

Does "stopped to look at moon" sound like a euphemism to anyone else?

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