Posts Tagged ‘Mary Leslie Basinger Lawton’

The Gold Mine in the Closet: Crossing the Ocean in 1915

January 15, 2015

My last post needed more research. And I found myself still awake after midnight, even though the alarm was set for 5:30.  That’s A.M., people, not P.M. Ah, sadness for lack of sleep, but big happys for research.

So I was guessing the photos of Sugar’s mother crossing the ocean was probably in 1915. Did you know I have an account? Did you know I’ll sit up all night long looking for stuff? At any rate, if you’ve read the blog before, you’ll know that sometimes I’m just not right in the head.

Here’s Sugar’s mother…


“Sailing from Bordeaux to New York”




scan0013 (4)

scan0013 (3)

scan0013 (2)

It was midnightish when it occurred to me that there would be travel and immigration records.

LawtonLeslie 1915


Leslie Lawton, age 41

Margaret Lawton, age 22

Emily Lawton, age 20

Leslie Lawton, age 18

Edward Lawton, age 12

William Lawton, age 10

Mary Genevieve, age 1

They live at 324 Abercorn Street, Savannah, Georgia.

Sailing from Bordeaux on September 26, 1915, to the port of New York on October 5, 1915, on the S.S. Rochambeau.

This information explains the photos on the other side of the album page…

scan0014 (5)

scan0014 (2)

scan0014 (3)

scan0014 (6)

scan0014 (7)

I just love this stuff.

The Gold Mine in the Closet: Crossing the Ocean

January 15, 2015

Sugar’s mother’s father had a military career, and he traveled the world.

His wife and children traveled with him. Sugar’s mother was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and she was named Mary Genevieve in honor of her mother and Geneva.

Finally, after years of travel, his wife refused to travel any more. She went home to Savannah. When he died of cancer, he was in Paris in 1929.

Sugar’s mother was the youngest in the family. He discovered these photos of her on board while sailing from Bordeaux to New York.


scan0013 (2)


scan0013 (3)

She’s probably about a year old here. She was born in May, and I’m reading online that one doesn’t want to make a sea voyage in the winter in the North Atlantic. So, given her stature and posture, a year seems about right to me.

scan0013 (4)

This looks totally unsafe for child’s play.



I have new respect for her mother, Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton. Crossing the ocean with six children? Climbing mountains in a long dress and fancy hat, and the only skin showing was her face?

Remarkable. Simply remarkable.

The Gold Mine in the Closet: More Photos

January 14, 2015

Sugar informed my that he had found more photos.

I’m not even finished with the last go-round, so, really, how many more photos could there be? Ten? Fifteen?

How about ten or fifteen stacks?

Two evenings ago, I spent time with his photos and his scanner. It took 28 scans, each scan with two to six photos per scan.

It looks like I’ll have to start more posts dedicated to just one item, like Sugar’s mother or the twins, where I can add more photos as I find them. (I thought that there were no more “twin” photos, but time have once again proven me wrong.) As it goes with many things in my life, I start with one plan at organizing and it evolves as it goes, thus explaining all the plastic totes that aren’t being used.

My favorite of all is this one of Sugar’s grandmother, Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton in Switzerland, probably in the early 1900’s.

I start with the scan that has the photo that I want to crop out.

First I copy the scan in the computer program in order to make enough duplicates so that when I crop each photo out, I still have a copy to work with, and I don’t have to revert back to the original each time, thus losing my crop work. Kind of like, save your work. (My families were agrarian. I can’t imagine explaining to my father, and his father, etc., that I’m working with the crops.)

scan0015 (2)


Now that I’ve cropped out the image I want, leaving generous margins, I straighten the photo. Sometimes, when I want to watermark my original photos, I’ll open each with Paint, and add the watermark, and SAVE it.

Here’s my finished item.


These ladies just upped the bar for the rest of us.

The Gold Mine in the Closet: An Unidentified House, Part 3

January 12, 2015

It’s a day for a field trip!

We started with a photo of an unidentified house from Sugar’s Gold Mine in the Closet.

scan0008 (4)

Sugar’s cousin knew someone who knew where this house still stands. It’s the Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn.  The house faces Whitaker Street, but the side door at 101 Huntingdon is where Sugar’s grandmother lived.

We had a Savannah outing to the Georgia Historical Society, and after leaving there, we walked on down the sidewalk . It’s only a block to Huntingdon.




We head across Forsyth Park on the way back to the car, and here’s the path going forward.




And here’s the path looking back to Sugar’s grandmother’s house. Her side entrance is much more noticeable from this angle.



On the way to the car, I noticed that we weren’t given all the copies we’d ordered at Georgia Historical. Fortunately we went on the little side trip to 101 Huntingdon; otherwise, we’d be in the car headed to Carolina.

Back to GHS, but oh, my aching knees. The front steps of GHS are steep and imposing, and we were at the beginning of a cold snap. My knees told me so.


The Gold Mine in the Closet: An Unidentified House, Part 2

December 21, 2014

Here’s the photo of an unidentified house from Sugar’s gold mine in the closet…

scan0008 (4)

We drove by where we thought the house should be, only we were looking on the wrong side of the street.

We didn’t know it at the time. If only we had looked left.


When in doubt, I have a method wherein I take an informal survey. I talk to everyone who will give me the time of day. To the outsider looking in? They go nuts, because I don’t follow the advice of the crowd. I don’t understand why people go nuts. It’s my game. It’s my rules. I’m just interested in what other people have to say. I doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to follow their advice. I’m just looking for opinions and input.

I went the easy route. I asked Sugar’s cousin by way of FaceBook.

She didn’t know the house, either, but she knew people who might know.

Sure enough, SugarCousin has an answer. The house’s address is 601 Whitaker Street, not Huntingdon at all. It’s on the southwest corner of Whitaker and Huntingdon, not across the street at the northwest corner where the vet clinic is.


This modern-day photo is from the website of the Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn. But you know at some point we’ll go by there.


So how’d we get the address wrong? It looks like there’s a side door fronting onto Huntingdon, which must be 101 Huntingdon, West. We thought we were looking for the front of a house, not an apartment entryway or a side door.

Take a look at their website. It’s quite lovely. According to the history on the page:

The third owner was Dr. Lloyd Taylor who lived with his family in the home 42 years. In 1923, Dr. Taylor added the one story addition on the rear of the structure as his medical office. Two additional rooms were also added by Dr. Taylor in a two story addition in the rear of the house. During W.W.I, the Taylor’s also converted the second story into an apartment.

Apparently Dr. Taylor also added an apartment at some point that Sugar’s grandmother rented for a brief period.

Anyone want to go on a field trip?

The Gold Mine in the Closet: An Unidentified House

December 20, 2014

We wondered about this house.

scan0008 (4)


Perhaps it was the house that Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton lived in when the Savannah City Directory showed her living at 101 Huntingdon Street, West.

1940 LawtonLeslieB 101 Huntingdon W

Regardless, Sugar doesn’t recognize the house.

I did a google map search, and it looks like the house faces Huntingdon next to the building that houses the Georgia Historical Society, which faces Whitaker but has a Gaston address. It doesn’t show up on the google map, and it should be on the north side of the street because it is an odd number.

We drove by, and there was a veterinary clinic on the house on the corner. We stared at it as we made the turn as we went south on Whitaker and right on Huntingdon.

Our mistake.

The Gold Mine in the Closet: In Which We Look for Edith, Part 5

December 18, 2014

We drove by where Edith’s house used to be.


And after we went home, we kept thinking about the Edith that we are looking for.

004 (3)

We realize that we need to go back to the Library and look at a series of the Savannah City Directories.

So we do.  But it takes us a while. The blogging doesn’t show that we’ve been working on this project for over a month, probably closer to two. We are a bit obsessed with giving our Edith a last name, and finding out more about her.

We think her last name is Barnes.

So we look for Edith Barnes.

We start with 1940 because that’s when we find her on the U.S. Federal Census.

She’s not in the 1940 Savannah City Directory. So let’s guess that means that she wasn’t living there in 1939 when the information was gathered for publication in 1940. But when the 1940 census was taken actually in 1940, she was living there. Make sense?

We do find Leslie Basinger Lawton in 1940 living at 101 Huntingdon, West. We don’t know anything about her living on Huntingdon, so we’ll need to check that out.

1940 LawtonLeslieB 101 Huntingdon W

Here’s Edith in 1941 at 547 East Charlton Lane. She’s a maid for L. E. Orvin.

1941 BarnesEdith


Here’s Leslie Basinger Lawton in 1941.

1940 BarnesEdith

In 1942, Edith is still at 547 East Charlton Lane, and is still a maid for L. E. Orvin.


1942 BarnesEdith


By 1942, Leslie Basinger Lawton is at 122 East Taylor Street.

1942 LawtonLeslieB


In 1942, Louis E. Orvin is at 213 East Gaston Street.

1942 OrvinLE


Let’s jump to 1948. We’ve established that Edith Barnes is at 547 East Charlton Lane for years. We’ve learned that Leslie Basinger Lawton went from East Gaston to West Huntingdon to 122 East Taylor Street.

In 1948, Edith is at the same address.

1948 BarnesEdith


And so is Leslie Basinger Lawton.

1948 LawtonLeslieB


Let’s make a bold leap and jump into 1970, where we find Edith Barnes still at 547 East Charlton Lane. The times they are a’changing, and the city directory is not divided into a “white” section and a “colored” section any more.

1970 BarnesEdith

1970 LawtonLeslieB

We can’t find Edith in 1975.

When I get home, I check one.more.time. And I find a death record for Edith Barnes on November 27, 1969. I also find a death record for Edith Barnes in January 1969.

Is this a mistake? A typo? A glitch in the system?

Someone? Anyone?

The Gold Mine in the Closet: In Which We Look for Edith, Part 4

December 14, 2014

It feels like we’re getting close.

004 (3)


This is Edith who worked for Sugar’s grandmother at the house at 122 East Taylor Street, Savannah, Georgia.

scan0010 (2)


We’re looking for more information about Edith. Sugar doesn’t even know her last name, but he knows that once his family drove her home, and it wasn’t far from his grandmother’s house. He has a vague, shadowy memory that it was east of his grandmother’s, perhaps between Price and East Broad, on an east/west street.

I found an entry on for Edith Barnes who lived at 547 East Charlton Lane, and that address fits exactly with his memory.

I can’t find a death record for Edith Barnes in Savannah, so perhaps she was buried back in South Carolina where she was born. Truly, I can’t find a death record anywhere, but this is not an obstacle, only a challenge.

East Charlton Lane doesn’t exist any more. We drove aroundaroundaround and couldn’t find it. If only we had a good map.


I remembered that there are the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Georgia, and, glory hallelujah, they are online. They are not user-friendly, so it involves a lot of panning left/right/up/down and zooming in to read the street names. And some cursage on my part.

I discovered that I can save the image to my computer for your viewing pleasure here on the blog.

Because I found East Charlton Lane on the map. The most recent one was for 1916, and there’s 547 East Charlton Lane.

BarnesEdith 547CharltonLane 1916


A little zoomage showing East Charlton Street. East Charlton Lane is just south.

A little zoomage showing East Charlton Street. East Charlton Lane is just south.

If the Edith that we want is truly the Edith that lived at 547 East Charlton Lane, we know that she most likely didn’t live here in 1916. She was born approximately in 1908 in South Carolina. It’s POSSIBLE that she moved here with her family.

And you know what, even if she’s not our Edith, she was SOMEBODY. She was a person that lived and died even if we can’t find her death record.

BarnesEdith 547CharltonLane1916 (zoom)


So it’s time to go by Edith’s house.

We find where East Charlton Lane should be, but it’s an alley now.

Right about where Edith’s house should be, there’s nothing.


Except a sunbeam through the afternoon trees to say hello.



Don’t give up, Edith. We’re still looking for you.

The Gold Mine in the Closet: In Which We Look for Edith, Part 3

December 13, 2014

004 (3)

Here’s Edith.

She worked for Sugar’s grandmother until she was old enough to retire.

Sugar remembers that she was a great cook. He doesn’t remember her last name, or even if he ever knew her last name.

We think that we have found her as Edith Barnes by looking through the 1940 Federal Census on She’s listed as living at 547 Charlton Lane, but we can’t find Charlton Lane. It doesn’t seem to exist any more.

I can scroll through all the pages of the Savannah City Directory by using, which is tedious, time-consuming work. We decide to go to the Library on Bull Street instead, and look at the directories in person.

There’s a genealogy/history room there. You don’t even have to sign in, unless you want to use the computers. I can take photos of the city directory pages using the digital camera.

We decide to randomly start with the 1957 volume. Sugar would have been old enough to remember Edith, and would remember that they drove her home once to an area east of his grandmother’s that would be close enough for her to walk.

And she’s still at 547 East Charlton Lane, which matches the 1940 census. There are two Edith Barnes, just like the 1940 census, but the second Edith Barnes lives at Fellwood Homes, and we don’t know where that is, so we’re still going with the first Edith Barnes as being our Edith.

While photographing the pages, I wrote the year, name, and address on a plain piece of paper and inserted it into the book, as a way to help me identify the photos during the editing process.


I also used a handy little library pencil to help me locate the entry.

Then I cropped the photo for easier readability.


His grandmother is still at 122 East Taylor Street, which is the only place Sugar remembers her living at.



In the 1965 City Directory, both women are living at the same addresses as in 1957.




Do you see how Leslie B. Lawton is listed at the Widow of Edward P. Lawton and residing at 122 East Taylor Street? Edward never even lived at this address. He died in 1929 when they were living at East Gaston Street.

Right about now we’re flagging, from the researching and the driving around. (We had a list of places that we went to that I haven’t shared with you yet, but it was a long list, and our heads are full.)

So what happened to 547 Charlton Lane? If only we had an old map.

Then I remembered the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

The Gold Mine in the Closet: A Child’s Homemade Photo Album

November 23, 2014

That child is Sugar’s mother.

Here we have Matilda Basinger, Sugar’s mother Genette, Garnett Basinger, Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton, and Walter Basinger.  Leslie and Walter are sister and brother.


Uncle Walter Basinger, Mother, Matilda, Me, Garnett

It’s a dandy little photo album, all bound together with golden cord.


019 (2)





Mother and Batesie (Batesie was Walter Basinger’s wife)

On the back page of the album, there’s a photo from Athens, Georgia.  Sugar’s grandmother Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton had an older sister, Margaret, who was known in the family as Aunt Mag.  Mag married Charles Morton Strahan, who was a professor at the University of Georgia for many years.  For a while, Mag and Leslie’s parents lived with them at their home on the campus, where the Law Library is now. The Strahans also had a mountain home in Mountain City, Georgia.

This particular photo shows Walter Basinger, his wife Batesie, a woman that I believe is his mother Margaret Roane Garnett Basinger, his daughters Matilda and Garnett, his sister Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton, and “Lillie”.

Who is Lillie?



Here’s what I’m guessing.

Do you remember the post about the house at 122 East Taylor Street, Savannah, Georgia?  In it I mentioned that Sugar’s grandmother employed domestic help.  She had Edith for many years until Edith retired, then she employed Vivian.  She also employed a man named Clarence who came several times a year to oil the hardwood floors.

I think Lillie is a domestic servant for Mary “Leslie” Basinger Lawton, prior to Edith.  I base this on nothing more than the fact that they are standing together in the photo.

Not that photo.  This one.

017 (2)