Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who Are You?

How many of us know who are great, great, great, great grandparents are?   Most of us don't think about it on a day to day basis, but I did. I've always had a fascination with the generations that came before me.  I want to know as much as I can.  Why is my hair curly?  Who gave my children their almond shaped eyes and my husband his?  Why does my generation on my father's side of the family have a flair for the dramatic?  I'm being nice here.  We should all be medicated for sure, even if some of us haven't figured that out yet!  Why have I grown up with a passion for religion that stupefied my parents at times?  I was the kid trying to "save" my Hindu and Jewish friends at sleepovers by age 9.  
Many of these questions cannot be answered but some of them can, thanks to the magic of the Internet.  Nowadays all it takes is a 14 day free trial at to figure out who your "people" are, as we say in the South.  Gone are the days of hopelessly searching through archives and microfilm to solve genealogy riddles.  You no longer have to pay an expert $500 to put together a packet of your great great grannies and papas.  With a click of the mouse and a few hours of concentration/ obsessive compulsive behavior you can find the pieces to your genealogy puzzle.  
I did.   For fourteen days I neglected my family and behaved like a recluse pouring over census, marriage, and death records.  Here is the gist of what I discovered.  I am one of the lucky 5% of the population that can say that my gene pool has been in this country since before the revolutionary war.  I say "lucky" because it made it a heck of a lot easier to track my people down.  They don't get around much.  My father's side of the family was of special interest to me because he knew very little about his parents' families.  They were a mystery.  I used to brag to my friends as a kid that I was part Cherokee.  Like a lot of white kids, I felt pretty boring and pinned my ethnic aspirations on a little American Indian blood.  
What a disappointment! I should have known.  I can't even get a good tan.  
Not a drop, I tell you.  There are no Indians in the family tree that I could find.  Here's what I did find.   My Dad's folks originally came from Ireland and England, depending on which branch you follow.  The Beattys were originally Bateys.  Go figure!  Why the change you might ask?  One sassy Grandma, my Grandma, decided that she'd spell it differently (or at least that's how I've heard it told).  I can't ask her because she was born in 1900 and passed on in the 80's but that's what I've heard.  And if you ever met this pistol of a lady you'd believe it.  So she married my Granddad at age 15 and started writing the name differently.  Half of the 9 children she bore spelled it one way and half spelled it the other.  
The Batey men originally settled in North Carolina until a young man named James Beaty (these people loved to mix it up!) picked up and moved to Oglethorpe, Georgia in his early twenties (about 1812) where he met and married his bride, Patsey Nancy Jones.  Just think! I could have named my girls Patsey and Nancy, if only I had known!  Eventually they and their brood settled in Gwinett County, GA, and stayed put.
There they had a stroke of luck!  They won the lottery.  We may not have been Native American but we definitely took their land.  A few lucky settlers who had entered the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery won large plots of land- I believe 400 acres.
The Bateys settled this land and two generations of children were raised there in what was referred to in the U.S. Census as Hog Mountain, Ga.  Where did all that land go?  I don't know. My grandpa Sanford Fletcher had eight known siblings so perhaps the land was divided up among them.  He was born in 1895 and his was the generation that ventured away from one another.  My father only remembers meeting two of the eight siblings.  My grandfather's only living brother moved to Texas at a young age and was never heard from again.  If my Dad has one regret, it's not sitting down with his Dad to ask questions about his forefathers.    How exciting to think that I probably have second cousins all over the state of GA and beyond that I've never met!  
After all my research, there is only one great mystery left and her name is Missouria M. Callaway, my great-grandma.  She was born in 1869 in Georgia.  She was the mother of my spit-fire Grandma Grace, and apparently nothing like her feisty daughter.  My father remembers bits and pieces.  She had a sweet, quiet nature and always had teacakes on hand for the grandkids. Missouria used to say, "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me." I love it! She enjoyed the perks of marriage to a chain gang warden by having the inmates work in her garden.  My Dad now recollects men in funny uniforms working in his Grandma's yard.  And here is the kicker!  It is rumored that she helped several of them escape when Gramps wasn't looking!  What a character.  But she has no paper trail.  I only know that her maiden name was Callaway because of a tip from an elderly cousin in Texas.  Could she have been the mysterious Cherokee blood?  Probably not, but I'd like to track her folks down just the same.  
These women put me to shame.  They raised broods of 8, 9, or 10 children without blinking and none of the offspring went to prison! They nursed babies until their bodies were prematurely old and made sure they went to school properly dressed.  They watched their men and sons march off to war time and again, and kept the home fires burning, from the Revolutionary War on.  They buried babies, children, and husbands, and kept on standing.  And they did it all without counseling or SSRI's.  I am proud of them and honored to call myself one of them. 

Check it out.  You never know who is waiting to be found!


  1. You know that I LOVE that you took the time to research our family's roots. It's something I never would have done. And It's one of the things that makes you YOU. I love your passion for history! I'm still a little peeved about the no Cherokee thing though. ;) Love you!

  2. Your Uncle Frank swore there was Indian bood on his mothers side so I have to assume it came from Grace's mother, Ms. Galloway.

  3. That is my hunch as well because everybody else is accounted for!