About once a year I make a trip which I call a genealogy vacation. I spend weeks chasing after my dead relatives.
For example, two years ago I made a two-week trip up the eastern coast to places around Savannah and then on up to South Carolina and North Carolina to look up ancestors who had settled in those areas. That was a trip of libraries.
Then last year while we were out west we spent about a week tracing a Roe ancestor who was part of the Pikes Peak gold rush. The highlight of that trip was finding the place where they first found gold and then finding the place where they worked a claim in the 1850s.
Yesterday I started this year’s trip. I’ll be on the road for 15 days. I’ll post most days with the highlights.
Our first stop yesterday was Fort Benning, the military base in west Georgia; and we finished the day in Atlanta with my daughter Tracy and her family. Chuck is with me for this part of the vacation and will be flying back to Tallahassee later on. Here are five highlights of yesterday.
1. Finding my great great great grandfather’s grave on Fort Benning.
We had GPS coordinates to the little cemetery where he was buried, but the military will not let you just come on the reservation without an escort. So we arranged for an escort and was taken to Midway Methodist Church cemetery.
Chuck and I walked all over that little cemetery because I was looking for a larger grave. I had a picture but it was deceiving. I was looking for a grave about 3 to 4 feet tall, and this is what it turned out to be.
It reads Rev. J. W. Boland. He was born in 1824 and died in 1907. He was my grandmother Annis Wilkerson Hamrick’s great grandpa. Next to the graveyard were the foundations of an old church where the Midway Methodist Church once stood.
2. Finding the escort for our trip on the military reservation.
It is not an easy thing to go on a military reservation to visit dead ancestors. Online someone gave me a telephone number to call, and this number was for the Range Control at Fort Benning. I called this number over two weeks ago.
Here is my advice on how to do this. You must be persistent. I had to keep calling back until I finally succeeded.
When you finally finish your preparations, ask for it in an email. I asked for have an email from them with all the information needed as to who to meet and where to meet. Then don’t do like I did and simply take you electronic device with only an e-copy. Make a copy of the emal. All I had when I got to the base was an e-copy, but when I got there all the emails in that stream disappeared. Of course, I’m thinking does the military have that capability?
From then on it was hell figuring out where to go and who to see. When we finally got to the Range Control building, we had already talked and worked with a half a dozen people. It took us an hour and a half just to get to the person that we needed to go with us to the cemetery.
3. Meeting a Parker on Fort Benning.
Toward the end of the hour and a half that it took to find the range control building, we met a gentleman by the name of Parker. He worked in the building where hunters go to get permits to hunt on the reservation. It turns out that his Parker’s are from the local area near the base, and I am almost positive that these are Parkers that migrated from the Savannah area where my Parker’s are from.
This was the young man with the nice rural Georgia accent that was kind enough to escort us all the way to the range control building. I think the gentleman in the range control was surprised when we walked in the front door. He may still be wondering how we got on the base to begin with.
4. Just getting to see Fort Benning.
This was special for me because this is where my dad did his basic training before he went into the Korean War. There were companies running in full pack, drill sergeants moving them along; and every once in a while we could hear the tap, tap, tap of guns firing and an occasional boom in the distance. These are America’s finest preparing to protect our freedom
When we got to Atlanta we were asked to stop and pick up Eric our son-in-law at the Georgia Dome. Eric works for the Atlanta Falcons, and he recently sold his Jeep so he needed a ride. Currently the Atlanta Falcons are building a new stadium right next to the Georgia Dome.
Our GPS which was trying to find One Georgia Dome, brought us to the side opposite of Northside and opposite of where we needed to meet him. This wrong road took us down into the bowels of an area called the red deck. We quickly realized that we were driving in underground Atlanta, and at one point there was even a train traveling under ground beside us. We finally came above ground and popped out near the Atlanta aquarium. What a journey! Of course by then we were hopelessly lost.
5. Visiting with Tracy and Eric and the boys! We ate supper with them, and after the boys were in bed, we set up and talked. I can remember visiting family in North Georgia when I was a kid. I can remember the adults sitting up late at night talking, and laying in bed listening to them. I wonder if Tracy’s boys did the same.
We spent the night with them, and today we are on our way to Chickamaugua.