Saturday, December 10, 2016


The Great Negro Migration North

The first great Negro migration was out Africa by force during the slave trade of peoples living along the West African coast. Between 1440 until as late as 1900 over 12.5 million Africans were transported against their will to North America, South America (Americas 10.5 million) the Caribbean and other Islands (2 million). If anyone has done their DNA more than likely you will see a West Coast African connection as part of your origins.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 less than 8% of Black Americans lived in the Northeast.  Between 1910 and 1970 about 6 million Blacks migrated north. The population of Black Americans in the state of Georgia during 1920 was 41.7% and in 1950 it was reduced to 38.9%.  New York and Chicago were the top destinations followed by Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Many of our relatives made that trek. I would like to dedicate this blog to Roslyn Yvonne McBrayer Wall who passed away on October 15, 2016. Roslyn like many of our family members were first generation ‘northerners”.   Roslyn was born in 1926 in Washington DC at 166 Bryant Street to Willie Bell McBrayer and Joseph McBrayer. 

166 Bryant Street Today

Her mother Willie Rachel Bell was born in 1893 in Milledgeville, Ga to Mary Louise “Mollie” Reid and Warren Charles Bell.  When Warren passed away in 1901 Willie moved to Eatonton, GA to live with her Grandmother Katherine “Kate” Rainey, daughters Katie “Sissy” Reid, “Big Willie” Rainey, Anne Claudius Rainey, Jessie Rainey. Brother Tommie Lee Rainey, and nephew Ambrose Reid. Willie’s sisters Leo, Annie Laura, Ione, and Ella remained in Milledgeville while Mollie struggled to make a living as a seamstress. Mollie eventually headed north to Boston (1901 – 1938) to work as a seamstress for the Scarrett (not sure of the spelling) family.

Many of our relatives decided to leave the south behind and head north in hopes of better living and working conditions. I am not quite sure who was the first one to leave Milledgeville but as in many families, once one family member got settled it gave the ability for others to make an easier transition. I think the first stop for Willie was Philadelphia. Many others passed through Willie's home while waiting to get settled including my father. Ambrose Reid ended up settling Philadelphia after he finished playing baseball. We also had several relative settle in the Washington, DC area, but that is another story.

Other locations outside of Georgia where we find family include Red Bank, NJ, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, Washington, DC, Silver Springs, MD. New York City area, NY.  Las Vegas, NV, Cincinnati, OH, several locations in Florida and California.

This April I will be making the move to California. I will never forget my southern roots. As you tell people where you are from don’t forget that our roots run deep in Georgia.  As Warren Steele used to say “I got Georgia red clay in my blood.” We are true Americans. Our ancestors worked hard, fought, stood the test of time, we are still here!

 The Reid/Rainey Family

Grandmother Kate             Mollie Reid Bell                 Tommy Lee Rainey

                       Jessie Rainey Reid                Big Willie                         Annie Claude

Does anyone have a photo of Katie “Sissy” Reid?
Other News

I would like to welcome Lydia Marshall to our family blog.  Lydia and I connected via Ancestry.   Lydia’s is a descendant of another Reid family from Eatonton, GA.  It appears that Mollie Reid was related to a Reid family through the common ancestor of David Henry Reid (Mollie and Katie’s (Sissy) father). 

Through us talking we solved two mysteries.  I had a photo from Big Mama (Annie Laura) who told me (when I was 15) it was Fayette Reid.  I could never find Fayette’s name later in any family record. Reason being,  I spelled it wrong; it is Phette Reid. She was Big Mama’s cousin and daughter of Sofia and Richard Reid. 
Phette Reid
The second mystery is where Ambrose’s middle name came from.  Jessie Rainey (daughter of Kate Broyle Rainey and William Suther, sister to Mollie) was mother to Ambrose.  Ambrose’s father was Sidney Reid (Son of Richard and Sofia Reid). Richard and Sofia also had a daughter named Volia. Grandmother Kate had a son named Tommy Lee Rainey (Uncle Bubba).  Ambrose’s middle name was LeeVoila.  Voilà! I always thought that was such a strange middle name now it all makes sense. 

Ambrose Reid

This is where collective family historical research is so important.  Connecting and talking through these stories are important so we can continue to write and share our rich history.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season! Click on the video for a great holiday song written and performed by Trevor! Enjoy!


 Happy Researching! Please share your family stories and photos! 
Looking forward to a great 2017!

Friday, June 10, 2016


Hello Family! I started this blog post in January and was never able to finish it.   I am not sure if many of you know but for the last year I have worked on a documentary researching the History of Vocal Harmony called Street Light Harmonies. It features some of the great Doo Wop artists still alive from the 50’s and early 60’s. I hope to complete it in July.

The last 20 years my life has been in and around entertainment. As I thought about my career it made me reflect on how much music has influenced and been a part of our ancestors and current family lives.

The funny thing is that I did not grow up in what I would call a musical household.  It was years later that I realized my mother could even play the piano.  We all took the obligatory band lessons. I chose the flute (never really learned to play), my sister Audrey the saxophone, Bubba the trumpet (marching band!), and Frank drums. My brother Billy fiddled with the guitar, Holly was a majorette, and Woody was always trying to get us to form a group. It was not until my father was getting older that stories of music and the connection within family came out.  There were so many great stories that I wish I had known as a child. For this blog I want to highlight a few stories of music from our ancestors that continue to resonant in our current lives.

Augustus Brooks Steele (1846 – 9/15/1903) the son of Sally Brooks Keen and William Steele was a tinsmith by trade.  He was also a popular violin player. In his obit of 1903 it showed how loved and well known he was in the community. To receive this kind of mention in the Union – Recorder as a Black man was rare.

September 15, 1903Union-Recorder
Guss Steel, a well-known negro, died at this home in the city Thursday night. He was a tinner by trade, having served his apprenticeship under Mr. Joseph Staley, and worked for him a long number of years. Guss was a violin player of local reputation, and played and called at dances through many years, in this city. His remains were buried Friday afternoon.

The First Boy Band

These amazing looking guys are none other than the Steele boy’s musical group.  They are the sons of Martha Tompkins (8/19/1852 – 4/16/1927) and Frank Steele (4/1848 – 6/28/1904).  From left to right: Johnnie (1890 – 1941) James (1870 – 1902), George (1884 – 1973), Frank (1886 – 1943 sitting on wheel), and Leo (1894 – 1948 on ground).  Backstreet has nothing on them! 

I am not sure what happened to their musical aspirations but we do know from cousin Kathleen that George went on to form another group and embarked on a tour. Here is a great photo of George on one of his tour stops in Saratoga Springs, NY. 1907

Cousin Kathleen has a complete book of all the places he played while in his vocal group.  I can’t wait to see all the locations.

Mary Steele (sister Mary) daughter to Frank P. Steele and Martha Tompkins taught piano lessons.  Cousin George Jarrett remembers her piano and many of the photos that adorned the top of the piano.

Mary Steele and Sarah Steele Jarrett

Warren Bell Sr. (father to Warren C. Bell) came to town possibly from Alabama in a traveling band.

Daddy told me that my grandmother Annie Laura Bell Steele (daughter to Mollie and Warren C. Bell) played so well and “had such a light touch” on the piano that people would turn off their radios at night to hear her play.

Annie Theresa Steele, my namesake taught and played piano.  I have several pieces of sheet music that belonged to her.

Rosa Steele Houston (daughter of Charlie Steele) played piano in her husband’s church.

Rosa Steele Houston

This photo came from Laura Pauline.  I am positive there are a few relatives  in the crowd. If anyone recognizes anyone please let me know.  I think the two men on the far right are probably Steele’s.  Maybe the one standing is William Anderson Steele?  Also the gentleman in the center with the suit looks like Rev. Houston (husband to Rosa Steele Houston).

Music continues to live on in this generation as well.  Kara Elsye (Bebe Henderson’s granddaughter) is a talented singer and songwriter.  Here is a link to her website.

My son Trevor Page is also blessed with great musical talent. Here is a link to his website.

Ariel Steele (father Warren ‘Bubba’ Steele) is an accomplished pianist.

Warren Bell Steele III (Trey) (father Warren ‘Bubba’ Steele) can belt out a song that will make everyone stand and take notice.

Tria Steele (father Frank Steele) has a beautiful voice.

Barbara Braddock’s grandson is part of a rap group. Barbara send us a link!

Everyone please share other family member’s musical talents!  Let’s support and share these talents in our family!

Other Family News

On January 30 cousin Denise hosted a great Birthday party for our beautiful matriarch of the family Roslyn Wall.  Roslyn is the daughter of Willie Bell (Mollie Reid Bell and Warren Charles Bell). Roslyn turned 90 this year.  

Attending left to right was Karen Braddock, me, Bonnie Miramontes. Roslyn, a very nice neighbor, Denise Wall, Kathleen Lloyd, and Holly Burns.

I just turned in my application for the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.  For you Reid’s we have a connection through Samuel Reid, the great grandfather of David Henry Reid.  You may be asking why?  Well, we are part of a great American story and should be represented in all aspects. I will keep you posted on the process in case anyone else would like to join.

Lastly I wanted to post an unknown photo.  The same gentleman was in my grandmother Annie Laura Bell Steele's photo album and Laura Pauline Johnson’s photos.  If anybody recognizes this handsome man let me know!

 Happy Researching! Theresa


Sunday, May 10, 2015



As I continue my research I often wonder what the lives of our ancestors may have been like.  Our country currently is in so much turmoil from Baltimore to Seattle with the continuing issues of equality and justice. What was it like when there was NO freedom to express oneself? There was no radio, TV, Twitter or Facebook to post discontent or bring awareness to issues.  I think about the patience and hope our ancestors must have possessed as the country moved towards new rules and freedoms after the civil war.  For this segment I want to focus on Warren Charles Bell. Even though there is much unknown about the Bell family he seemed to possess something special that won over the hearts and respect of Blacks and Whites in the town of Milledgeville.

Warren Charles Bell was born in Milledgeville Georgia in 1862 to Warren Bell Sr. (1833 – 1888) and Laura Ann Mitchell Bell (1842 – death unknown).  Here is a quick family review; we are not sure where Warren Bell Sr. was born but it might be Alabama.  My DNA matched to a woman in the UK and she traced her Bell ancestors to Alabama.  There is a large group of Black and White Bell’s there. We do know that Warren Bell Sr. was a traveling musician (oral source Aunt Ella and Rosalyn) and he traveled to Milledgeville with his brother. I am not sure whether Warren Bell Sr. was free or a slave; he does not show up on the 1850 or 1860 census but does show up on the 1870 census. On Warren Bell Sr.’s reconstruction oath of June 26th 1867 it says that he resided in Milledgeville, Georgia for at least 12 months.

 Laura Mitchell Bell was the daughter of Jane Mitchell (McComb) and we are not sure who her father was.  Laura and Jane are the links between the Steele and the Bell families.  Jane and Sally (mother to the Steele children) were sisters and Jane Gilbert was their mother. Laura and her son Edward (11 months Warren’s older brother) are both listed as Brooks on the 1860 census along with Rebecca 9 and Sarah 7 in the same household.  I am not sure whose children Rebecca and Sarah were but they are listed on later census as nieces. 

Warren and Laura had a total of 6 children. Edward (1859 – 1890), Warren (1862 – 1901), George G. (1864 - ?), Ella (1867 - ?), Annie E. (1870 - ?), and Frank (1872 - ? Blacksmith).  Warren Charles Bell must have been educated because at an early age he was employed as a porter in Adolph Joseph’s department store. According to Aunt Ella and Aunt Leo’s stories he also assumed other duties such as inventory and ordering, which would require reading and math skills.  Somewhere prior to 1886 he met a young beauty Mary Louise Reid (1867-1938) from Eatonton, GA and fell in love.  According to Roslyn we think that Tommy Rainey (Uncle Bubba) was the one that introduced them.  Warren and Mary Louise (Mollie) married on January 20, 1886
Adolph Joseph Department Store

Newspaper; notice Warren’s name listed as a porter

Here is a write up in the Union Recorder about the Warren and Mollie’s marriage.  Getting your name in the paper in 1886 is not like submitting your marriage announcement today.  It was mostly respectable White citizens so many Blacks getting married would not get an announcement like this.  Clearly Warren was well respected. The article also confirms that he was born and raised in Milledgeville. Also notice the compliment “esteem of many whites as well as colored friends”.

January 26, 1886Union and Recorder  Warren Bell, the colored porter of the store of A. Joseph, Esq., was married in Eatonton, on Wednesday, 20th inst., to Miss Mollie Reid, of that town, ther ceremony being performed by Rev. G. W. Fears. Warren was born and raised here and has the esteem of many whites as well as colored friends. We hope he and his bride will have a happy and prosperous voyage

Warren and Mollie had 5 daughters.  Leo Katherine (1886 - 1973), Ione Beulah (1888 - 1968), Annie Laura my grandmother (1891- 1978), Willie Rachel (1893 - 1959) and Ella Louise (1896 – 2000).  

Hope and Progress through Education
On December 22, 1829 a law was passed that made it a penal offense to teach a Negro or Free Person of Color to read or write. (Negro Education in Georgia by Richard Wright).  Many ignored this law and Blacks were taught through clandestine means. The consequence of this law meant that the number of educated Blacks was very small, not only in the State of Georgia but elsewhere in the United States.

One of the largest tasks during reconstruction was trying to provide education for former slaves and former free blacks. In 1865 there was an effort by several organizations including the Freeman Bureau and the American Missionary Association to set up schools in Georgia.  In 1866 George Peabody of Massachusetts contributed 2 million dollars of his fortune to support educational efforts throughout the south for the less fortunate. To put in perspective how dire the need for education was:” in 1871 there were 545,142 Colored people in the state of Georgia only about 1% of them could read and write”. (Negro Education in Georgia by Richard Wright). The other outstanding issue was who was to teach the population of the uneducated masses?  Many looked to Blacks that were already educated to help with the task.  

In 1890, Warren C. Bell became the secretary of a group of leaders that would lobby for the Colored Peabody Institute.  The Union- Recorder reported it as an “Energetic action taken by the leading colored citizens and Teachers.”

Below is the full article from the Union – Reporter.  What a great accomplishment of hope this must have been for the community. 

Warren Bell was definitely a man of action as he embraced the new freedoms and became a pillar of the community. Owning property was a hard earned privilege. In 1896 Warren saved enough money to purchase land and build a home.  This is the home that I knew intimately as we would visit 408 N. Liberty Ave almost every summer.  Big Mama would tell us stories of how Warren Bell built the house for Mollie and the girls.  The house stood the test of time even being moved to a new location until an electrical problem caused a fire and it burned down about 5 years ago.  Our cousin Geneva Bell Davis and Emily Davis built a house on this land after Big Mama came to live with us.

Deed from Warren Bell's purchase August 4, 1896 (property of Kathy Lloyd)

Sadly on June 22, 1901 Warren Charles Bell passed away. I can only imagine what he would have accomplished if he had not died at such a young age. I can still remember Big Mama speaking of him fondly with the love of a daughter lingering in her tone, as she would gently say the word “Papa”.  So every morning when I get up and head to my office I get to greet Warren Charles Bell. This photo hangs in my home, as it hung in my father’s house and Big Mama’s house (The Bell family home) before that.

Funeral announcement for Warren C. Bell June 22, 1901

Warren Charles Bell 1862 - 1901

Warren Charles Bell insert of photo

I am not positive but I think this may be a photo of a young Warren C. Bell. This was found in Big Mama’s photo album with no name attached. If anyone has other information let me know.

Bell Family Bible; Warren Bell purchased it from Frank Steele in 1886. Frank purchased it in 1884. You can barely see his name scratched out on the first page.

 Page out of the Bell Family Bible documenting marriage of Warren and Mollie in 1886


Since the last time I posted a family blog I am sorry to say we lost another family member.  Everett Allen Bell passed away on March 28, 2015.  His father was Edward Bell and Geraldine Brantley Bell.  Brother to Harris Bell, Geraldine (Geri) Bell, Geneva Bell and Edwina Bell.

If anyone has additional information from your research please share! Pictures are so important and can lead to clues.  Even stories that have been passed down, there are always tidbits that can give clues to brick walls.

Happy researching and I hope to see all of you soon!!


The beautiful Mary Louise (Mollie) Reid (1867 – 1938)

Sunday, December 14, 2014



As the year slowly comes to an end my research continues. This year has been especially enlightening with my trip to Milledgeville once again revealing important information (Jane Gilbert’s 1837 guardian petition) to the continuing tracking of the complicated relationship of William Steele and his family.   We are also not without family loss; Bebe Henderson (grandmother Sara Steele Jarrett) and Clarence Braddock husband to Barbara (mother Willie Bell). As I write it is the anniversary of my father’s death, I can almost hear his wonderfully sassy retort; why do want to dig up the past? I feel it is more important than ever for us to understand our past and to put it in writing for future generations.  The more I find out about our family compared to other African Americans during these times, it becomes apparent that we all have a unique history.  And one that should be told over and over again to whoever will listen.  I decided to honor one of my father’s lessons our right to vote.  Voting and the right to vote has always been a strong topic in our family. This right has been hard earned we should never take it for granted.

Voting in America started out as tool of the privileged. A small group of White men decided the fate of the whole country.  Originally the US Constitution did not address who was eligible to vote and left it in the hands of the state governments. Most states only allowed white males who owned 50 acres of land or had taxable income to vote.  So poor Whites and Blacks alike were prohibited to vote pre-Civil war. There were 4 states (Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York) in which freed slaves could vote as long as they met the property requirements. As the country was moving towards the Civil War most white men were allowed to vote whether they had property or not. Post Civil war amendments were added to the Constitution to address the voting divide.  Starting with the14th amendment (1868) to address citizenship, 15th amendment (1870) race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and the 19th amendment (1920) sex.  Even with these additions states found ways to deny the vote based on using literacy test, poll tax, or even religious test. 

William Steele was a strong supporter of states rights.  As a Democrat he served as the secretary of the party in 1846 and 1847. While he had five children by Sallie Keen; a Free Person of Color he also owned slaves, paid taxes, and had over 50 acres of land. He was a prime candidate to vote.  Voting also determined his livelihood.  He was elected several times as the Clerk of the Superior and Inferior court and in 1851 he was elected Mayor of Milledgeville. He continued in politics by serving as the Secretary of the Executive Department for Governor’s Herschel Johnson (1853 – 1857) and Howell Cobb (1851 – 1853).  Here is a newspaper notice of William Steele’s intent to run for the office of Superior and Inferior Court in 1845.

Some how I would like to think that when the Democratic party split over the issue of extending slavery William was on the side refusing to push slavery west.  Based on doctor records I do know that he provide funds for Charlie Steele to purchase the books he need to be an apprenticed carpenter and each of his five children was literate. The right to vote must have been instilled in these children.
As you can imagine 1906 was a tumultuous time for Blacks especially in the south. The 15th amendment was barely 40 years old and politicians realized how powerful the Black vote was as many towns in the south were predominately Black. In 1900 there were 4,219 people living in Milledgeville with about 50% of them being Black. Here is an article from the Union Recorder dated January 1, 1906 listing The View of the Colored Voters.

If you read the article there must have been turmoil over the issue of voting pertaining to the prohibition election.  Leading the charge are many of our relatives.  Rev. E.A. Houston was the husband of Rosa Steele (father Charlie Steele), Willie F. Steele (father Charlie Steele), Charles Steele Jr. (father Charlie Steele), William Davis (husband to Pauline Walton (mother Ada J. Steele) and Laura Steele (father Guss Steele).  Yes William Davis married two cousins. Notice the last lines: We therefore advise that the white people be allowed to fight this out among themselves. This was a very bold statement for the time. Not that I agree with prohibition!

The big win for us all was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This piece of legislation prohibited racial discrimination in voting.  As we come to the end of a presidential term everyone should think about our long history of how voting has affected our lives.  A voter registration card would be a wonderful gift this year.  Whatever parties you chose to support exercise your right and celebrate your family history! Do not lose this privilege let your voice be heard. 


Bubba and I have had plenty of emails from the Steele side of the family once we increased his testing to Y-DNA 67.  We are definitely matched to 3 different people that come from the Steele’s that founded Hartford, CT. The problem is we just do not know how the three brothers (William, George, and Ralph) fit in.  Ted Steele has created a website and we are going to continue our research. Here is the link to the site if anyone wants to view the whole Steele line.  .We even have a couple of Steele’s that were accused of witchcraft.  As a horror writer Elisa Victoria (my daughter) is very excited. 

When William died he owned two slaves John and Mary (both of them listed as light complexion). In the Freedman Bureau there is a John Steele listed with his sister Mary. He lists his father as John Steele.  I am still researching but this may be William’s former slaves and his relative (cousin or uncle) John Holmes Steele’s children.  John is listed in William’s estate papers as owning him money. Another mystery.

I am still tracking Jane Gilbert to find who her original owner was prior to David Brydie Mitchell.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday!!  I look forward to discovering more information about our family in 2015! Please share, every little clue is important!

Reverend Ebenezer and Rosa Bell Steele Houston with their children.
Reverend Houston and Rosa had 14 children. He was the pastor at CME Trinity Church.

One correction. On the last blog I said that Uncle Bubba (Tommy Rainey) called the Bell girls Four Roses well I misunderstood Cousin Roslyn she said he liked Four Roses Bourbon! I stand corrected! 

Happy Researching!! Theresa

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Family Professions - Tinner or Tinsmith

Profession: Tinner

As early as the 1600’s professional tinsmiths or white smiths were creating their wares in London.  It wasn’t until about 1720 that tin ware and other tin items became more commonplace. The tin business was so important to Britain that in 1750 they instituted the British Iron Act, which prohibited the erection of new rolling mills in America.  This kept the tin business out of America until after the American Revolution.

Tin itself is very soft and malleable metal, so creating wares requires making an alloy, which is made by combining different amounts of lead and cooper.  Depending on the combinations of these metals will also yield either pewter or bronze.  The most important tools a tinsmith uses are big shears, snips and nippers for cutting and lastly an anvil for shaping.

To become a tinsmith, a person had to be accepted as an apprentice by a master tinsmith. Apprenticeships could last any where from 4 to 6 years. 

There were two men in our family that practiced this trade.  Augustus “Guss Steele and Tommie Lee Rainey.  It is possible that both of these men worked to help install the tin roof on the Trinity AME church.

On the Steele side of the family is Augustus Steele.  Guss as he was fondly called was born in 1845.  He was the second child of Sarah “Sallie” Keen and William Steele.  He is listed on the 1860 census along with the rest of his family as Augustus Brooks.  Sometime after the civil war he began using his father’s last name Steele.  Guss was married to a former slave named Lucinda.  Guss was also the great grandfather of the original historian in our family Laura Pauline Gersham Johnson (mother Gertrude Davis). 

Guss apprenticed and worked under Joseph Staley.  Staley was born in Lancstershire, England, which is probably where he learned the trade. I have no factual evidence but I think it is possible that William Steele took a part in getting Staley to bring on Guss as an apprentice. Staley was a member of the Baldwin Blues, which William Steele founded in 1848, and he was a businessman who owned one of the only hardware stores in town but also later served as mayor, which William also served as mayor in 1851.  Either way Guss was well known and liked in town.  Here is his obit from the Union Recorder when he passed away in 1903.

September 15, 1903Union-Recorder
Guss Steel, a well-known negro, died at this home in the city Thursday night. He was a tinner by trade, having served his apprenticeship under Mr. Joseph Staley, and worked for him a long number of years. Guss was a violin player of local reputation, and played and called at dances through many years, in this city. His remains were buried Friday afternoon.

I found an old photo from Des Steele and I think this might be a photo of Guss based on photos of Frank and Charlie.  I’m totally guessing on this one so please let me know if anyone can confirm the identity the Steele man in the photo. 

The second person in our family that was a tinner was Thomas “Tommie” Lee Rainey or Uncle Bubba.  Tommie Rainey was born July 20, 1877 (died Oct. 14, 1928) in Eatonton, GA.  He was the only son of Katherine “Kate” Broyle Rainey and William Suther.  I am not sure why he chose to continue to use the Rainey name and not take his father’s last name.   Tommie was the brother of Mollie Reid.  Mollie Reid married Warren C. Bell.  Just to review the connection between the Bell’s and Steele’s, Warren Bell’s father Warren Bell Sr. was married to Laura Mitchell the niece of Sallie Keen and granddaughter of Jane Gilbert.

Tommie Rainey probably learned his trade from his father William Suther who was a builder and coffinmaker in Eatonton.  Not only is he listed as a tinner but also on the 1900 census as a blacksmith.  I think Uncle Bubba was a great craftsman.  I have a silver bracelet that Big Mama said Uncle Bubba made her.  There is also a train that was in our house for years that Uncle Bubba carved.  Daddy told us a story that Uncle Bubba took the train to the fair and won first place.  After he won his prize someone stole the train and they had to pursue the thieves to get it back. Tommie Rainey also carved the podium for the Trinity CME church. That podium now sits in the basement of the Trinity CME church located on Wilkinson St. One of my father’s toys that he played with as a child, and I’m sure other generations before him, were two chinaberry guns that were carved by Uncle Bubba.  Daddy said Uncle Bubba would ride his bike from Eatonton to Milledgeville on Sunday's to visit the family.  He also was there to help Mollie out with the Bell girls that were still in Milledgeville (Annie Laura, Ione, Leo, and Ella) after Warren Bell died in 1903.  He called them the “Four Roses”.  I think Tommie Rainey was a true Georgia Folk artist and craftsman.

Does anyone else have a few handcrafted treasures? Please share!

Tommie Lee Rainey 1877 - 1928


Uncle Bubba’s train (photo credit Barbara Braddock)

Podium in the basement of Trinity CME Church

Chinaberry “pop” guns notice the T and 1890 date

Quick Family Research Update

In a previous newsletter I attached a photo of an unknown meat market.  Thanks to George and Leslie it was confirmed that this was Steele’s Meat Market. It was started and owned by Willie T. Steele.

During my last trip to Milledgeville I found out more information about Jane Gilbert.  Listed on the Free Person of Color census of 1837 she is listed with 5 of her children.  She also filed a petition for guardianship on August 9, 1837.  It lists her 5 children which one is Sallie (mother of William Steele’s children).  So now we know 6 of her thirteen children, the sixth one being Jane Mitchell (McComb).  7 more to go!  Miller Grieve a fellow Scotsman and friend of David B. Mitchell agreed to become her guardian.  Mitchell died in January of 1837, so this might be why Grieve was willing to accept the responsibility.  Remember in 1842 Mitchell’s son John J. Mitchell served as agent for Jane Gilbert and Jane Mitchell (McComb).  The question now remains was Jane Gilbert free prior to 1837 and who was the father of her other children? On the census it list Chatham County as her birthplace.  That search is another story for a later time! I have transcribed the document and added it below for everyone to read. 

Happy researching! Hope to see everyone again soon! T

Transcription of Jane Gilbert Petition for Guardianship
August 9, 1837
Milledgeville Court House Probate Office
Minute Book B 1829 Page 111

The petition of Jane Gilbert a free woman of Color respectfully prays the appointment of Miller Grieve as the guardian of herself and her five children vig(?) Patrick Brooks aged about 17 Ann Brooks aged about 15 Charles aged about 12 Sally Brooks aged about 10 and Becky Beck (Butler) aged about 7 years of age.

            And it appearing that Miller Grieve consents to act as Guardian.

            It is therefore ordered that the said Miller Grieve be appointed guardian for the said Jane Gilbert and children and the clerk take Bono and security in terms of the law.

Actual Document from the Baldwin Courthouse