Finding Your Folks: Herndon corrections, questions and explanations

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Once again, I regret that I have to start off with corrections but the sharp eyes of Valerie Freeman in California caught at least two from last week's column. And I have two questions, myself, which I hope someone can answer. There also is a little more on Joel's estate I'd like to share, so we'll use this week to tie up some loose ends.

The first correction is the death date for Joel Herndon's wife, Elizabeth Kempson Herndon. I stated she died on March 9, 1919, the same month and day that Joel died. This is an error. Elizabeth died 24 Feb. 1919 in Coweta County and is buried at Haralson Baptist Church (I had that part right). The confusion (on my part) was the fact that Preston (Joel's brother) and Ann Amis Herndon both died on March 9 and so did Joel. I knew that one of the Herndon couples both died on the same month and day (but not the same year) but I got the wrong one. It was a careless error and I apologize. My thanks to Valerie for catching it.

The other error involved the complete omission of one of the children of Joel and Elizabeth Kempson Herndon, and that was Mary A. Herndon who married William T. Callahan (seen as Callaham on their gravestones). Mary was born 21 Feb. 1859 and died 26 Feb. 1888 at the tender age of 29. She had two sons, John H. Callahan and Alvin H. Callahan, both mentioned as being heirs to her father's estate. In the initial petition filed May 6, 1907, by Elizabeth when she thought the will was valid, John H. Callahan is listed as living in West Virginia and Hardy Callahan is said to be a minor. All heirs at law were notified and requested to be in court on the first Monday in July to show cause why the will should not be entered into probate. W.J.L. Herndon was appointed the guardian of Hardy Callahan and in later records John H.Callahan's address was given as Huntington, West Virginia. Court records stated that John was sent a copy of the notice in the local newspaper as his official notice to appear.

Since Mary and William were married after the 1880 census and Mary died before 1900, there is no census to record their existence as a couple and you have to put together other records to accurately place this family. Mary's birth and death dates are on her gravestone at Haralson Baptist Church in Coweta County, although it is thought that she and her husband lived in Meriwether. The 1900 Meriwether census lists William with his second wife, "Bassah" ("Bassah" on the gravestone actually looks like "Bertha" in the census) and shows them living in the 1213 G.M.D. of Meriwether in the Middle Ninth District. Only the one son, John H., age 14, lived with William and his second wife. The other son, Alvin H. (age 12), lived with his grandparents, Joel and Elizabeth Herndon in Coweta County in 1900.

Other children shown in the Callahan household in 1900 were Cora L. (1892), Thomas R. (1893), Lila May (1896) and George M. Callahan (1900). William T. Callahan and both his wives, Mary A. and Bassah, are buried at Haralson Baptist Church.

My question here is who was the "W.J. Callahan (Power of Attorney)" listed in the distributees of Joel Herndon's estate? (Annual Returns Book 6, page 481) Was that a misprint on the part of the clerk? Was that intended to be "W.T. Callahan," the father of the two boys? If so, why, in 1919, when both were fully of age, was the name of their father mentioned? Distribution was made on Dec. 26 and 27, 1919, so there was no minor as there was when the estate settlement began in 1907. I would be very interested to know who this W.J. Callahan was. Was he, perhaps, an attorney?

Another error was not one on my part but needs to be mentioned here for those who may be researching in microfilmed records of Coweta probate books. In the Coweta Index to Estates, all persons whose estates were administered or settled in Coweta County from 1827 to the present are listed in alphabetical order and all references (court books and page numbers) to these estates are given in this index. Joel's estate listed Miscellaneous Orders and Dismission as all being in book "O." However, when I searched this book on the page numbers given, no records on Joel were found. Knowing that the last records were probably made after Elizabeth died in 1919, I checked the same page numbers book "Q" which had records for 1920, and, voila! There they were. Court Minutes Book "O" pages 99 and 118, and "Q" pages 424 and 439.

Giving you a little more detail from the court records (I always think it interesting to know where people live), Elizabeth's initial listing of Joel's heirs at law in May of 1907 were: herself (no location given); Mrs. Francis Moody of Fayette County, Ga.; W.J.L Herndon, Ella Herndon, Hardy Callahan of Coweta County, Ga.; Mrs. Lula Crook and Mrs. Mattie Digby of Fayette County, Ga.; and John H. Callahan of the state of West Virginia. Elizabeth's petition was signed by her attorney, W.L. Stallings.

Which brings me to another question: Was there any relationship between the Stallings family and the Herndon family? Joel's brother, Preston, and his wife, Ann Amis (maybe Jones) Herndon, are buried in the Stallings Cemetery near Powers Crossroads where they lived. Also buried there is little Paul Jones Herndon who suffocated in cottonseed. Were the Stallings just friends or were they relatives?

We will begin Preston's story next week.

Stories and family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

login to post comments | Judy Fowler Kilgore's blog