Finding Your Folks: How to tell us your story

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Happy New Year 2008 and welcome to the start of our eighth year of "Finding Your Folks!" The very first column was published Jan. 12, 2001 and we've really covered a lot of ground (and a lot of families) in the past seven years.

When we first started, I said that if I didn't receive anything from you, I would write about my own family. That's only happened two or three times but here we are again with a temporary lull in correspondence. Actually, that's not entirely true but what I have received needs so much work it has to wait.

Maybe I'd better stop here a moment and clue you in on what I'm looking for in the way of submissions. All stories should pertain to families whose ancestors were in the metro Atlanta area at some time, preferably on the south side. Why do we do that? Well, it narrows the field and becomes a "regional" resource. It's much easier to find someone when you've restricted your info to one area. They may have come from other areas and stayed here only briefly, but if they were here, they qualify.

So, what are our requirements?

First, if you have email, I would prefer that you send your family information that way. This may become a requirement later on as it takes less time to process, rewrite and prepare for publication. However, handwritten stories are still acceptable for now (if you don't have a computer) and all stories are most welcome.

Second, please keep your family stories to no more than three typewritten pages. I need about 750 words from you to fill a complete column. That leaves room for me to put a lead on it at the top and get out of it when you're finished telling your story. If your story is deserving of two or three parts, write first and we'll discuss it. If it's shorter than 750 words, it may have to wait until I have two or three more to fill the column. But all letters are appreciated.

Third, send your family story in story (paragraph) format, not in the outline your genealogy program does or in a family group sheet. Start with your earliest ancestor and move your story chronologically to the present. That is the easiest understood and the easiest for most people to follow. Pretend you are writing a long query on one of the message boards, or maybe writing a story for a history book. Be as detailed as you like and I'll rewrite if necessary to reduce the number of words. I'd rather have too much information than too little. I can always refer people back to you if they want intricate details.

Fourth, be sure to include your sources so your story will have credibility, or let us know if you are just theorizing. There's nothing wrong with speculation. Sometimes we need to put our thought processes on paper so we can figure things out.

Last, be sure to include an email address where people can reach you if they want to discuss your family.

Remember, I do not do research for others … just on my own family or families which connect to my family, if I have the time. What I do here is attempt to connect people who are researching the same families in our area. Because of the added benefit of our Website, your story goes all over the United States - and all over the world.

Okay, because of the "lull," I'm going to refresh you on the families I'm researching. I have discovered that I'm more of a "Georgia gal" than I first realized. All of my ancestors were here in Georgia very early and have remained here.

My dad's side, of course, is Fowler and Blake. The Fowlers were in Gwinnett County as early as 1818 and moved first to the Campbell-Fayette area during the Civil War and finally migrated across the Alabama line to Cleburne County (Hightower near Ranburne) where they settled in 1878 and remained for the next 50 years. My dad was born there and moved back to the Atlanta area with his family when he was just a toddler. His mother, a Blake, is descended from Thomas Blake who sailed from England and settled in Isle of Wight County, Va. in the 1600s. Her ancestors traveled through North Carolina into Georgia in the late 1700s and were in Wilkes, Elbert, Jackson, Gwinnett, Hall, and Carroll counties in Georgia, before they, also, crossed the Alabama line and became some of the first settlers of Randolph County near Wedowee. Behind my paternal grandparents were the Dormans, Jones, Owens, Norrises, Johnsons, Youngs, Vickers, Rogers, Stricklands, Tuckers, Peppers, Whaleys, McNeelys, Perrys … and many others.

My mom is a McWhorter-Payne combination, both early residents of Carroll County. The McWhorters came from Pennsylvania in the 1700s down through the Carolinas and into northwest Georgia in the 1830s, migrating on into Carroll County in the mid-1840s. They stayed there until my grandfather moved his family to the Atlanta area in the early 1900s. The Paynes were in Georgia by the late 1700s and lived in the Franklin-Hall County area. They migrated briefly to Tennessee but were back in Georgia shortly before the Civil War. My mother's great grandfather, a Confederate soldier with the "Villa Rica Gold Diggers," died in Richmond, Va. Other surnames in my mom's line are Boyd, Wren, Kinney, Wilson, LeGuin, Wood(s), Hopper, Stewart, Tucker, Ayers, Sellers, and many others I haven't discovered yet.

I think of all my families, I enjoy researching Boyds and Dormans best. The research groups are terrific people. Believe me, you do come across many "old poops" in this game. Write and tell me about your favorite families.

Send stories 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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