Posts Tagged ‘Genealogy’

Grandma’s Hot Tamales

February 27, 2018

We didn’t have a lot of traditions growing up. One of our best traditions was hot tamales.

In the fall, Grandma made hot tamales. She gathered a bunch of corn husks and soaked them in her sink until they became soft and pliable. While they soaked, she made the meat mixture and the cornmeal mixture. From what I remember, she used sausage, ground beef, and cayenne pepper for the meat, and basic cornmeal like White Lily or Martha White for the cornmeal mixture. No one has the recipe. She never wrote it down.

Basically, she made meatballs from the meat mixture, and cornmeal balls from the cornmeal mixture. She patted and flattened a cornmeal ball in the palm of her left hand, and placed a meatball in the center of it, then wrapped the cornmeal dough around the meatball, covering it completely.

She took sections of the softened husks and overlapped them, making a cradle for the tamale. When she had wrapped the tamale completely in cornshucks, that’s when the job of the grandchildren came in. We took turns sitting on a high kitchen stool while we held the shuck-covered tamale, tightly, by the ends. Grandma took thin strips of cornshuck and used them like string to tie each end and another around the middle.

She did this for hours. She made a batch of mild and a batch of hot. Then she cooked them in a pressure cooker.

I didn’t know that tamales were considered a Mexican dish until I was grown. I thought they were an East Tennessee dish. When I started doing genealogy, I found a pension file that showed that my grandmother’s Webb grandparents went to Johnson County, Texas, in 1881. After a few years they returned to East Tennessee. So I have an idea that my grandmother learned to make hot tamales from helping her grandmother, who had learned to make them while in Texas.

Years ago, my mother told us that our former neighbor, a woman named Amy, was a writer for Country Living, and had written an article about corn.  Amy included recipes in her article. One of the recipes was for hot tamales.

Tamales like these were made by the grandmother of a friend of mine when I was growing up in Tennessee. As she was not of Tex-Mex ancestry, I had no idea that tamales were “foreign” fare until much later in life!

Y’all? This was not my grandmother’s  recipe at all. I wrote a letter to Amy at the magazine and told her so. I never heard from her. Now that I have more age on me, I think that I looked like a jerk, because the spirit of the recipe is there. I just couldn’t see it.

Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0001Tamale Recipe from Amy Chatham Scotton0003

In Which Sugar and I Are Not Related

February 7, 2017

Well, that’s a relief. 

I mean, he’s related to everyone.

When I first started working on his tree, over ten years ago, I knew of some other of his family’s researchers. They seemed to do the same kinds of things that I do, like make trees on ancestryDOTcom, and post memorials and photos to findagraveDOTcom. 

One fellow sent me a message about Sugar’s tree because he couldn’t find where I fit onto the tree and how he and I were related. I explained as vaguely as possible that I wouldn’t be in his tree, because we were not related, I was not a Lawton, and Sugar and I were friends. 

This exchange must have been about 2009. Recently I took an AncestryDNA test, and I found I have over 20K cousins on Ancestry alone. 

I loaded my raw data to gedmatch, and found several thousand more cousins there. 

I found a few folks that I had corresponded with in the past, so it was good to see that the DNA bore out what the paper records showed. 

I found one fellow that graduated from high school a few years before I did. He shares the African ancestry, which was interesting to see, because that helped me narrow down which line that was on, and it wasn’t the line I would have guessed. 

Gedmatch has a spreadsheet format, and one of the fields is for username. Lots of people don’t use a name; they use some kind of code, like Aunt Lou or Chicken Dinner or Cat Lover. These codes are not helpful, and in the case of Chicken Dinner, they only serve to make me hungry. 

So I’m scrolling down the list of usernames. Dozens, hundreds, of usernames. And I see it. I see *Him*. 

Boyce Mendenhall Lawton. Sugar’s cousin who wanted to know how we were related, and I told him we were not. 

I’m related to Boyce on Boyce’s mother’s side, and Sugar is related to Boyce on Boyce’s father’s side, but Sugar and I are not related. 

Now I want a chicken dinner. 

Yay Yay Yay: My DNA 

January 11, 2017

It’s time…

I ordered it…

I’ve been there when four other people submitted their DNA samples. And because I am a slow learner, and I like to observe before I act, suddenly the pieces fell in place. For me. It was my time. My turn. 

I decided the best time for me to submit a sample would be the first thing in the morning. No food, no water, no toothpaste, no mouthwash. Just pure, unadulterated morning breath. 

It turns out that I picked a good time to test. The labs were gearing up for a busy Christmas season, and it took approximately 3 weeks for my results to come back. 

African? That might explain a thing or two…

I love this journey already. 

More Than One Hundred and Thirty-Eight Years Later: the Bateson Brothers at Laurel Grove

June 12, 2016

I’ve written about Christopher Henry Bateson and his brother Thomas quite a bit. They both served together during the Civil War. They lived to return to Savannah, but both died young. 

And a strange turn of events happened. 

Julie in Brussels found their death records in the City of Savannah Cemetery database. She contacted me online using the messaging system. 

I contacted Sugar, and we went to Laurel Grove where we found that the graves were not marked. Sugar ordered a marker for the whole family which was placed in 2014. 

Another cousin found the blog, and he and his wife came to see us and visit the Bateson plot in January of 2015. Almost a year later, that same cousin contacted the president of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to see if she had any info about these brothers.

She located their records, and ordered a military marked for each man. 

This past week, those stones were set. 

Today we find…

I’m actually quite speechless. 

More SugarCousins: Maude Constance Tilton, 1876-1937

May 1, 2016

And another thing…

A nice lady found my blog. She is a SugarCousin, and she wonders what we can find out about her grandmother from Savannah, a certain Maude Constance Tilton who married Joseph Maner Lawton. 

Before you gasp and exclaim *That’s my Joseph Maner Lawton*, well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. There were several. Regardless of which one, you’re a cousin. 

I poked around the Internet and made a little tree. I added Maude’s parents and husband. 

Then I added Maude’s siblings… 

Then one generation back. 

Then I checked the City of Savannah’s Cemetery database. 

Aaa n d we’re off to the cemetery. 

The first stop is Laurel Grove. 

We are looking for lot 1874, which is where Mrs. Rosa M. Tilton, Clifton Mills Tilton, and Nathaniel O. Tilton are buried. We turn down a lane that we’ve never traveled before, near the front of the cemetery, and SugarSpotter spotted a stone that he needed to see. Demanded I take a photo, he did. 


William Maner Bostwick, 1875-1947

Sugar thinks that this Bostwick person to be a derivation of Bostick, especially because it is coupled with “Maner”. And who am I to argue about local names with a local? I have learned to pick only the fights I can win. 

On to 1874. The lot, not the year. 

Nothing. No markers. This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time we have encountered this, right here in Laurel Grove. 

There *IS* a simply wonderful Sago Palm that surely was planted long ago. It’s HUGE. 

Sorry for my poor planning and lack of forethought for not having a Sugary frame of reference to show you how big this Sago is. I think I was unnerved that there were no markers. 

 There were a couple of outlined graves. If you read a recent post about the Bateson plot at #322, you’ll remember that we can talk to he nice cemetery conservator who has the marvelous database that shows who is where. 

We know that the Bateson brothers have not had their markers installed yet, so we bypass a visit there because we still have much to see across town at Bonaventure. Plus lunch. A girl’s gotta have priorities. 

Now at Bonaventure. We’re at the sign at the entrance, looking for Section F, lot 46. Sorry for the reflection on the map. 

The Tiltons that I can identify as being part of this group are Jane C. Tilton, Major N. O. Tilton, O. L. Tilton, Rosa A. Tilton, and Mrs. Rosa B. Tilton. 

Of course. the SugarSpotter find a Lawton next door. 

Now, back to the true reason of our visit. 






Because I did a little homework before we set off for the cemetery, I found these documents about Nathaniel on ancestrydotcom. 

That wraps up our cemetery tour. I’m guessing that there are lots more documents online about this family. When I find more, I’ll edit this post and add them. 

Good night, Tilton people. We’re thinking of you.   

The Lawton Memorial

April 30, 2016

One of Sugar’s cousins found a postcard for sale online. She wondered if anyone knew anything about the Lawton Memorial.

I know a bit, but first I’ll have to find Sarah Alexander Lawton’s will.

Here’s the postcard image.

The building is a Greek Orthodox Church now. We drove past a few weeks ago, and I snapped a photo out the passenger side of the rear of the church.


Large parking lot perfect for lots of parking. Family reunion perhaps?


Not long after I met Sugar, years ago, he took me on a little memory tour of Savannah. We went by his grandmother’s house on Taylor Street, to Laurel Grove, to Bonaventure, and to the Lawton Memorial. There’s a historical marker there, and I suppose I have a photo of it somewhere, but no worries, there are plenty of photos of the marker online. They’re just not *my* photos.

Here is Sarah Alexander Lawton’s will, with the images coming from ancestrydotcom. She addresses that she wants a portion of her wealth to go toward the construction of a memorial building, which of course became known as the Lawton Memorial.

Now to transcribe. Anyone up for the task?

Mary Robert Lawton Garrard

March 23, 2016

I feel badly about poor Mary Robert Lawton Garrard. I can’t stop thinking about her. 

She was probably about 37 years old when she died. She had lost her first child, Bessie Garrard, when Bessie was one year old. She lost a son, Lawton Garrard, when he was six years old. 

According to her obituary, which was provided to me by her great-granddaughter Emily, Mary had had an operation following 8 weeks of lingering illness. 

So now I need to know more. I found her will and two codicils on ancestry dot com. 


Most of the will is legalese about dispensing monies, real property, and personal property to the surviving four children. Perhaps her husband prepared this section since he was an attorney. 

The sections that you and I might find most interesting are the ones where she dispenses personal items to the children, Giulie, William, Emily, and Cecelia. It is in the 2nd codicil that she distributes silver, China, glassware, and jewelry. A diamond pin here, a ruby ring there. Mary accounts for everything beautifully. 

It occurs to me that the will is dated the 30th day of March, 1901, almost 115 years ago. Yet she doesn’t die until October 11, 1902, a full year and a half later. The obit says she has had a lingering illness of 8 weeks. 

What causes a young woman in her 30s to write at least one will? Because she does mention that all other wills would be made null and void. Perhaps she was ill for a long time. 

She could not know that two more of her daughters, Giulie and Emily, would die in childhood after she herself passed away. 

Good-night, Mary. Rest well from your worldly cares. 

Mary Robert Lawton

March 15, 2016

Sugar’s cousin Emily has a collection of research about the Lawton and Garrard connection. She loaned me a BOX of stuff. (Should I tell you that she gave me this box a year ago Christmas? Probably not. You might think I’m a slacker, but I’m merely a proCRAFTinator.)

So here we have 4 pages of newspaper articles. The first three are from the same article that wouldn’t fit onto one sheet, which reports her wedding on Thursday, July 14, 1887. The newspaper is The Morning News: Friday, July 15, 1887.

The fourth is her death notice, also from The Morning News: Saturday, October 11, 1902.


Christ Church the Scene of an Interesting Social Event.

Miss Mary Robert Lawton, daughter of Dr. W. S. Lawton, and Col. William Garrard were married at Christ church at 7 o’clock last evening, by Rev. Dr. Strong. The church was brilliantly lighted and decorated with a profusion of flowers and floral ornaments. Some time before the hour for the ceremony the guests began to arrive, and within a few minutes the church was nearly filled with the friends of Miss Lawton and Col. Garrard. The bridal party assembled in the rear of the church, and as the organist began the wedding march — from Tannheuser — the ushers led the way to the altar. Messrs. Thomas Screven and Josehp (sic) Cumming in front, followed by Messrs. A. Minis, Jr., and A. Boyd. Behind them were Misses Emmie Lawton and Maud Thomas, and they were followed at regular intervals of about ten feet by Messrs. Grimes and W. W. Williamson, Misses V. Minis and Gulie Lawton, Messrs. W. Cumming and S. A. Wood, Misses Bessie Martin and LeHardy, Messrs. George W. Owen and R. L. Mercer, Misses L. N. Hill and Ruth Stewart, Messrs. T. P. Ravenel and Edward Lawton. Misses Nannie Stewart and Elise Heyward, Messrs. A.M. Martin, Jr., and H. H. Thomas, Misses Viva Taylor and Clelia Elliott, and Messrs. W. N. Pratt and John S. Schley. Col. Garrard and Miss Lawton came last. As the bridesmaids reached the steps of the choir floor they separated, standing on either side, and the groomsmen continued on and formed a semi-circle around the outer edge of the choir floor. After the bride and groom had reached the altar the bridesmaids followed, and formed another semi-circle between the bridal pair and the groomsmen..Dr. Strong then proceeded with the ceremony, and Dr. Lawton gave away the bride. The ceremony being concluded, Col. and Mrs. Garrard led the way down the aisle, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen followed, the bridesmaids walking with their respective groomsmen instead of together as they entered.

“Midsummer’s Night Dream” was played as the party moved from the church and entered the carriages. The programme was beautifully arranged and successfully carried out. The bride’s dress was of white silk, trimmed with pearls and lace. On her head she wore a wreath of orange blossoms and in her hand she carried a magnificent bouquet of white rosebuds. The bridesmaids were all in white, their dresses being of mull and their sashes of watered silk.

At the residence of the bride’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. W. S. Lawton, on Lafayette square, the reception was held. The parlors were filled with friends and a delightful evening was spent. Many elegant toilets were noticeable. The wedding presents were numerous and exquisite, and many of them very costly. The most beautiful of them all, perhaps, was the punch bowl, waiter and ladle, presented by the Savannah Volunteer Guards. The set is of sterling silver, from original designs of the most elegant and artistic character. The bowl, holding two gallons, stands upon a convoluted base, the graceful outline continuing to its edge, a graceful curve, meeting a frieze four inches wide, the surface of which was worked up by hand into a procession of infant Bacchuses celebrating a vineyard feast. The beautifully turned edge of oxidized silver meets the lining of gold.The waiter has a satin-finished surface and an oxidized silver edge two inches wide, and in the centre is the coat-of-arms of the Guards. The ladle is the crowning piece of artistic work. From the bowl springs a vine, and upon the handle sits Bacchus himself, holding this, his goblet. The gift was made here in Savannah by Theus & Co.

The bride and groom withdrew from the reception at 8:30 o’clock to prepare for their wedding tour. They will be entertained this morning by Col. Garrard’s mother, at a wedding breakfast at her home in Columbus, Ga. Their wedding tour will include Chicago, Denver and other Western cities, and may extend to California. They expect to be absent about four months.



The End Came at an Early Hour This Morning.

Mrs. William Garrard died at 3 o’clock this morning at the Savannah Hospital from the result of an operation, after a lingering illness of eight weeks. The end had been expected for some time, and yesterday all hopes for her recovery were lost, when, in the morning, she began to sink rapidly.

Mrs. Garrard was a daughter of the late Dr. W. S. Lawton, her maiden name being Mary Lawton. Fifteen years ago, in Christ Church, then 22 years of age, she was married to Col. William Garrard. She was a devoted member of Christ Church. She manifested deep interest in patriotic societies, being a daughter of the American Revolution and a Colonial Dame.

Mrs. Garrard was a woman whose lovable disposition made her near and dear to all who knew her. Of sound sense and judgment, and possessing great energy, she won friends by her true heartedness and genial disposition wherever she moved. She was generally loved by all who knew her, and her death is a sad shock to the entire community.

Mrs. Garrard leaves a husband and four children. She also has living a brother, Capt. Ed. Lawton, U. S. A., who is at present detailed to military duty at one of the military schools in Pennsylvania, and two sisters, Mrs. Thomas Screven and Mrs. Carrington Reed of Nashville.


Mary Lawton – 20 years old. Most probably taken about 1885. Photo courtesy of Sugar’s Gold Mine in the Closet

This Is The Year: Part Two

January 2, 2016

It takes a lot of cooperation and concentration to make a meeting happen. 

We found out that Jordan’s great-aunt Francine was coming to South Carolina to visit some cousins on her father’s mother’s side. We hoped that she was willing and able to find time with her father’s father’s side. 

She did, and brought a Tolbert cousin from her father’s mother’s side who was fascinated with the story. 

Francine is soft-spoken and reserved, but she volunteered during the course of the evening that her grandfather, the Lawton descendant, could not read or write until he was grown and married, and his wife taught him. He was born in 1881 and couldn’t go to school with the whites and was shunned by the blacks. He and his family moved to Savannah sometime between 1910 and 1920, and he had a general merchandise store, but he lost it all because he couldn’t count and make change. 

I showed Ftancine this document:

Where Winnie Joe Brown signed his name. 

What did we talk about during dinner? I only remember snippets. I was too busy enjoying the evening. And taking some stealth photos. 

 After dinner we posed for photos. 


Standing: Arthur Gilliard, YoursTruly, Libby Lawton Hromika, Francine Brown. Seated: Leslie Lawton Bateson.

Do y’all love this story as much as I do?


Thanks to Dennis Richard Hromika, the ever-patient and enabling photographer. Thanks to Jordan Carroll, the persistent genealogist, and to those Lawton cousins who welcomed him. Thanks to Francine Brown for visiting from NY and submitting the DNA test. Thanks to Arthur Gilliard, Francine’s Tolbert cousin, for his enthusiasm. Thanks to Libby Lawton Hromika for her gracious hosting. But mostly, thanks to Sugar Bateson for letting me come along for the ride.

FlowerFest 2015: At Stop Two

December 9, 2015

Here’s Sugar’s relative Jordan.

His great-grandfather was Jefferson Brown.

Jefferson’s father was Winnie Joe Brown.

Winnie Joe’s father was most probably Francis Asbury Lawton. According to the DNA and the family stories, he’s the most likely candidate.

Sugar and Jordan share DNA that goes back to the 1700s to Joseph Lawton. Sugar and Jordan’s mother also share DNA.

By a stroke of pure luck and coincidence, Jordan (in Germany, mind you) mentioned that Jefferson Brown lived in Savannah, and he told this to me the evening before we were to set out on a FlowerFest. I found a city directory listing for 1925 that matched the address that Jordan had from a draft registration. Sugar was agreeable to do a drive-by, since he was the one driving the time machine and he knew the area.


Jefferson Brown lived at 1024 West 36th Street, Savannah, Georgia, in 1925.

We drove down the street to find the house was gone. There was an empty lot. No sign that Jefferson Brown had ever been there.

Just past the empty lot is a church at 1050 West 36th Street.

Directly across the street from where 1024 would have been was 1025. It is a more modern construction, so I’m guessing that any houses westward from 1024 and 1025 were demolished or removed, and new structures were built, including the church.

The houses at the corner where the street sign is look to be of a vintage similar to the ones where Edith Barnes lived. Edith was Sugar’s grandmother’s housekeeper, and she lived on the east side of town. Her area has been gentrified.

So let’s guess that Jefferson Brown lived in a house that was styled much like this.

And let’s also imagine that Sugar’s grandfather’s family, whose family line had been in Savannah since the mid-1800s, was living on the east side, while Jordan’s great-grandfather was living on the west side about the same time.

But nobody knew about this connection until a DNA match responded to Jordan’s inquiry.

Sometimes the puzzles just work themselves, with properly placed nudging.

You know what this means? We have to find a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map.


It would have been helpful to have checked the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map before we went to Savannah and before I wrote this blog post…

We were on the wrong section of 36th. The 1916 map shows Lot 1024 to be across Ogeechee Road. We were on the section between 1046 and 1047.

1024 West 36th Street, SAV