Last night I went with my favorite female and several others to a place here in the Atlanta, Georgia area called, “Bury the Hatchett.” It is a hatchet and tomahawk throwing venue and it was really a lot of fun. I found throwing the tomahawk a lot easier and more accurate than the hatchet.
What does any of this have to do with genealogy? Great question. We often discuss learning the stories of our ancestors and here is one that pertains to one of mine.
The time is April 1776 in Screven County, Georgia. Governor Reynolds, who served from 1754 – 1757, was not a favorite governor but he did set up a court system that started at the Court of Conscience. Using today’s analogy, it would be a cross between the small-claims court and the misdemeanor court. When colonists had a dispute with each other, they took it before the Court of Conscience which was presided over by a Justice of the Peace. When a case could not be settled to satisfaction here, it went before the Governor’s Council. Very few records exist today for those courts.
Fortunately for me (and others with ancestors in Screven County around that time), we have what appears to be a former Judge’s personal ledger of cases. The case I am referring to in April of 1776 concerns my ancestor, Gilshot Thomas, Sr. This is how the story goes.
Gilshot Thomas vs Isaac Cartwright (Gilshot is the plaintiff [his name is first] and Isaac is the defendant)
The Plaintiff complained that the defendant took a Bell of his mare and produced Arthur Sharber as a witness who being duly sworn made oath that he was in Company with Isaac Cartwright in the swamp and heard him say that he would take the Bell off a Mare belonging to Gilshot Thomas. And the said Sharber heard a Bell throwd in the River which he took to be the Bell of a mare that was on Thomas’s mare and that the mare returned after him without any Bell. The Deponent further saith he did further hear said Cartwright say “When he was done with his crop of corn That he would take his gun and tomahawk with a wallet full of salt and go into the Swamp and live upon Gilshot Thomas’s Hogs and also upon Nat’l Miller’s Hogs. The committee taking the above into consideration Judged it Expedient and There fore ordered The He Pay Twenty Shillings ti said Thomas for Sd Offense & Give Security for his good behavior for the Future. Signed by Order of the Committee.
N.B. Joseph Humpries became the Defendants Security for hi good Behaviour to Gilshot Thomas for six months before Signing.
Gilshot and Arthur Sharber are accusing Isaac Cartwright of maliciously throwing a bell belonging to one of Gilshot’s mares in the Savannah River and threatening to live as a squatter on both Gilshot and a neighbor, Nathaniel Miller’s land and hogs. Gilshot owned about 250 acres of land, most of which was swampland and he raised wild hogs.
If we but look, we can often find interesting and fun stories concerning our ancestors. Always look in places when the opportunity presents itself. One thing you might ask at such locations is, “Is there anything else you have from this time period concerning the people of that area?”
This is just one of several stories in the ledger which is located at the Georgia State Archives. Have you found any such stories about your ancestors? Have you shared with family members in such a way that makes it interesting to read? I have begun writing them down as short stories of not more than three pages. Where I have been able to prove the stories accurate, I state how I can prove or truly believe them accurate. For example.
I have heard this story from my grandfather, Joseph H. Thomas, my Uncle Charles Forrester, and one other person. Therefore, I believe the story to be accurate.
Sometime shortly after WWII, my father’s older sister, Thelma, brought home a USAF Veteran of the War, Charles Forrester. My grandfather was a farmer in Surrency, Appling County, Georgia and they lived in what wasn’t much more than a log house.
I can only assume that my aunt Thelma was getting ready and Charles was waiting on the front porch. Charles stood close to 6 feet tall and my grandfather was short, maybe 5 ½ feet tall. Charles lit up a cigarette while waiting. My grandfather thought it was a most vile and disgusting habit and began waiving his finger in Charles’ face, demanding to know why he smoked. At some point, my grandfather must have paused to get a breath and Charles cut him off and pointed to granddad’s front yard and said, “Why do you grow it? If people do not buy it and smoke it, you do not get money.”
I reckon no one ever stood up to my grandfather like that and made him stop and think. After a few moments, my grandfather looked at Charles and said, “If I stop growing it, will you stop smoking it.” That was the last year my grandfather grew tobacco, he switched to peanuts. As for Uncle Charles, he also quit smoking.
My advice. Look for, learn, and write down the stories you find about ancestors and their collateral families and write them down in a fun and interesting way for your grandchildren to learn them
Keep hunting those elusive ancestors and their stories!