Day before yesterday, I went looking for another ancestor. This one was John Wesley Roe’s in-laws, his wife Mary Ann Lovelady’s parents Solomon and Margaret Lovelady. After Mary Ann married John Wesley in 1853 in Gordon County, Georgia, her parents migrated on farther west to Lynn, Alabama, which today is in Winston County northwest of Birmingham.
Lynn is not the county seat, so I drove first to Double Springs to their library. I had trouble finding where to go online, but the library was easy to find as it was located out on US 278. Double Springs extended their city limits to include a village around an impoundment so I got to the city limit sign almost 2 or 3 miles before I got to the little downtown area, population less than 2,000. The library had a bicentennial book about the local people and their ancestors. There were several stories about Solomon and Margaret’s children but not such about the generation before, except one which I’ll describe later.
By the way if your ancestors were some of the first to an area or if their offspring stayed there, look for anything written in the area during our nation’s centennial and bicentennial celebrations. It will amaze you what you’ll find. It will mostly be stories passed down, but these can be important clues for what and where to look for more definitive research. Anything written during the centennial was written in 1876 so it could be first-hand information if the area was settled in the early 1800s.
The library also had about 20 copies of the local geneaological society’s newsletter which had lots of stories about local settlers, but it was not indexed. I did glean some info using the table of contents in each, but I’m sure I missed some. The evening before I had found a location for a grave on a road called the Yankee Trace Road, and I did run across a story about how the road got its name. I’ll explain later.
After the library, the librarian suggested I stop by their local archives. I had found nothing about this online; so I made a stop there, which was directly across the street from the courthouse. Along with more information, the archives lady gave me a very good county map showing where Sardis #1 Baptist Church is located. I lit out and drove straight to the grave of Margaret Whitthus Roe, my fourth great grandmother, who is buried at Sardis Baptist Church on the Yankee Trace Road.
Let me tell you about this road and the countryside through which it runs. The road is named Yankee Trace because it was one of the routes taken by a portion of General James Harrison Wilson’s Union Calvary, when it was on its way to the Battle of Selma where later Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was outmanned, outgunned, and defeated. This Calvary battle was fought in March 1865 and is known as Wilson’s Ride famous for being commanded by one of the youngest generals in history. It is also known as one of the largest Calvary assemblies in history if not the largest. I guess that is what it took to finally defeat the Wizard of the Saddle.
I wonder where the family was when this group of men rode down this road. I also wonder if their foraging units made it to the Lovelady homestead which I believe was a little over three miles away.
The countryside here is very pretty. This is Alabama hill country, and the hills are not small hills. The road sides are especially beautiful this time of year with Queen Anne’s Lace growing wild. As cars pass, the wildflowers roll in the wakes made by the wind. I kept noticing pink roses growing wild in the woods, until I finally stopped and took a picture. I think it is a wild climbing rose.
The Sardis #1 Baptist Cemetery is located on US 17 which is also known as the Yankee Trace Road. The cemetery sits high on a hill next to the church which has sweeping views of the countryside below. The road curls around the cemetery. I wondered how loud the Union Calvary was when it passed here in 1865.
I quickly found Margaret’s grave and took a picture. Then I just took a moment to stand and gaze at the views from high atop this hill. What a beautiful place to go to rest.
It appears that sometime between her marriage and this grave, her name was changed from Whitthus to White. The marriage record shows her maiden name as Whitthus. Someone had placed a newer marker at the base of the older one with the basic information that was on the older stone.
I found no grave for Solomon, which brings me to the story found in their bicentennial book. It said that according to family tradition Solomon became ill and died while he was with a son who was moving to Tennessee. They said he is buried in Wayne County, Tennessee.
So let me try to put this into perspective. If he died on this trip then it had to be after 1880 where I found him in the Winston County census. He was 79 and his wife was 59.
I think I must have good genes because this man made that trip over the age of 80 when there was no interstate and when the only way to travel was by either horseback or wagon. He must have thought he was healthy enough for the trip. Wayne, Tennessee is 120 miles north of Lynn, Alabama. At about 20 miles a day it took them at least six days to make the journey.
Since Margaret died in 1881 at the age of 60 (I’m glad I have Solomon’s genes, too), I’m wondering if he moved because she was gone and there was less of a reason to stay.
I also found a possible homestead area. Some archive maps showed where some of the earliest settlers lived. There were three Lovelady homesteads in the names of three of his sons. I felt certain that one of those was Solomon and Margaret’s original homestead. One of the homesteads I drove to was over 8 miles away actually closer to 10, and I felt certain this was not where Solomon and Margaret lived.
Another one that I didn’t drive to was all the way on the other side of the county which was even farther away. The one I think that they lived in was only 3.5 miles away from Sardis. I drove to this land using the county map and a copy of the county plat map showing where the Lovelady land was. I took some pictures of where I believed it to be. It was an educated guess at best. I have been in touch with a Lovelady cousin who may have better information. He is who posted Margaret’s grave on Find A Grave.
It is a beautiful area with a creek running through the bottom. It looked like bottomland around the creek, and today it is in pasture. it was probably a good place to raise crops. We have had a lot of rain lately, so the creek was muddy.
I traveled the two lane road and later gravel road which ran between the church and where they lived. How exciting it must have been for the entire family to go to church and have dinner on the grounds, something that was not done weekly. It was usually an all day affair and one of the few times that the family got to visit with others in their community.
Their homestead was way out in the country, and the little road ran high over hills and down into the deep draws crossing little creeks at natural fords. Today it is a little canopy road in places. It must’ve been as beautiful back then as I found it today.
Finally, thanks to one of the books, I think I know how they got here. The original trail into this area was known as the High Town Indian Path. It ran from old Charles Town on the Atlantic Ocean to the Chickasaw Bluffs which today is Memphis, Tennessee. It was a trading path used by the Indians and later by the European explorers, trappers, and traders. It followed a divide, a ridge, where water falling north of it ran into the Tennessee River while water falling south ran toward the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile. The same trail crossed North Georgia close to where the family lived before they migrated west to Alabama. This trail later became a wagon road.
Today, one can still hike parts of this trail in the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County. It is said that Davy Crockett used this trail during the Creek Indian War of 1812. The halfway point on the trail was the Indian village called High Town near current day Rome, Georgia.