Finding Your Folks: Death certificates, Dorman, Harrell, Norton in the mailbag

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I would probably be remiss if I didn't mention the current "buzz" in genealogy circles which hit the news Tuesday. Georgia death certificates, from 1919 through 1927, the actual images, are now online at the Georgia Archives and LDS Websites. Although Georgia didn't officially start keeping death records until 1919, there are said to be a few from 1917. These are the same death certificates you pay to have mailed to you from the Georgia Department of Vital Statistics. Access is totally free and you do not have to have a membership in any genealogy service to view, download and print them out. The index and images can be searched and viewed at (Virtual Vault link) or

I've played around with it a bit and noticed that it doesn't come without some caution. I have found erroneous information on several, so don't believe everything you see. The information is only as correct as the person submitting it. One on my great-grandfather's brother is terribly wrong.

The cause and date of death are given on the certificate, along with the date and place of birth (if known). The current address is there, along with the name of the person's spouse and the name of the person giving the information. The place of burial also is there, as well as many other interesting tidbits. (Those of you who still don't have computers should really give some serious thought to purchasing one.)

I also have received several letters and emails in the past few weeks. No one gave me enough "meat" to fill a column but there are some tidbits here that someone might be able to grab.

First, I received a lovely handwritten note from Christine B. Kelley of Union City in response to my story on the Dormans. Christine wrote: " … I read your column every week. I grew up around The Rock Baptist Church (Fayette Co.). My great-grandfather, the Rev. Dionysisus Virgil Stephens, stood on a rock and constituted the church. Oct. 7 (was) their 125th Homecoming. In the back of the church, before there was a cemetery, just about 50 feet away, there were three graves - first people buried there. One of the graves was Miss Mollie Dorman. I, as a child, always remembered that … God Bless you. Christine B. Kelley, Union City."

I appreciate Christine's note and hope those Dormans from Fayette who may be missing a Mollie will now know where to find her. The Rock Baptist, for those of you who may not know, is on Sandy Creek Road north of Tyrone. Is my memory playing tricks on me or did that church used to be right on the corner of Ga. Hwy. 74 and Sandy Creek? Did the new highway force a move? Someone please clue me in here.

Another letter, an email, came from Ken Matthews, who is seeking information on the Harrell family of Fayette. Since Ken's letter mentioned people who are still living, I have edited it a bit.

Ken writes: "I have some family history remnants and I am trying to piece it all together. I have located one ancestor's birth to 1794. This birth was for Jethro Harrell buried in the Ellison family cemetery off Crabapple Lane in Tyrone. I understand he was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Harrell for whom I have no name. My great-grandmother was Uris Harrell Cooper of Fayetteville (buried Flat Creek Cemetery) … I am trying to place if somewhere in history the Harrells and Ellison families have ties and to locate other heirs or burial places of these ancestors. Could you do an article on this family and locate how the Creek Indians were involved? I also understand the Harrells may have been Creek Indians. Thank you, Ken Matthews ("

I explained to Ken that I don't do the stories. My readers do them (for which I am very grateful), unless it is one of my own families I can attach to my family tree. I told him I would be glad to run his letter in hopes that someone out there might be able to help him with his Harrells. If you can, please write to Ken at the above email address.

One final email came from Marie Dicy Hignet who has Nortons in Fayette County. Dicy writes: " I saw your link in the newspaper. I have several names like Byram and Kilgore in my family line.

"I have Franklin Washington Norton born 7 Aug 1854. Parents are Francis Lafayette Norton and Mary Elizabeth Bradford, (Mary Elizabeth married 2nd Joseph Moore of Moore's Ferry. I can't find anything on Moore's Ferry.) I have not been able to connect my Franklin Washington Norton to any of the Nortons in Fayetteville. He learned his trade at the Cole brothers.

"Franklin Washington Norton married 12 Aug 1870, Fayetteville, Ga., Marietta Della McDearmond (daughter of Andrew David McDearmond and Nancy Washington Stewart). Franklin was a carpenter and a stonemason. He helped to build Fayette.

"His daughter, Clyde Minnie Norton, married Andrew Greenberry Byram (son of John Dawson Byram and Nancy Caroline Thornton).

"I also have Kilgores connected to my Douglass line through John Thomas Kilgore, 27 May 1853, son of Solomon Kilgore and Mary Ann Martin.

"If you come across anything on these families I would appreciate your sharing some of that information. Marie Dicy Hignett ("

I have nothing on Dicy's Nortons and my husband's Kilgores were not in Fayette, at least to my knowledge. I hope those who have information will contact her at the above address. I appreciate her, and all my readers, taking the time to write.

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.

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