Finding Your Folks: Riggins, Smith, Oakley, Cole in the mailbag

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

There's a couple more Owen and Cole families I want to cover but several emails have come in and I need to get them out there so you guys can help these folks, if you can. It's also time to give the link again for the really old columns going back to 2001 that no longer come up on a search. The Riggins letter came from one of those old columns, although I don't know how the writer found it.

Here's the link:

It's a long one and when you copy (and paste if you're reading this on the Internet) you need to make sure there are no spaces or dashes. This goes to our old Web site that is sort of "buried" and no longer accessible. These columns cover a number of family surnames and genealogy subjects published from January 2001 through October 2005. The columns accessed by the genealogy link on the present Web site ( pick up in October of 2005 and run through the present.

The first email comes from Dean Halleman ( who was interested in the Riggins family in Pike County. Dean writes:

"Hello, I am looking at the information posted at 'Finding your folks, More on the Dominicks, Riggins, Pilkingtons.'"

(This was from a column written Sept. 23, 2005 mentioning James and Mary (Polly) Riggins, parents of Bathsheba/Barsheba Riggins who married (as his second wife) David Dominick in Coweta County.)

"I have been looking for my father's maternal grandfather's family. The name I have is Jefferson James Riggins. Information handed down is (that he was) born 12 Feb. 1851 in North Carolina. Problem is, no amount of searching has produced such person beyond local death records. Also supposedly his father's name is 'Jim, born US,' all information on death certificate.

"Would you have any further information on this family of Riggins you posted about? Any help would be appreciated greatly!

"Thanks, Dean Halleman."

I'm not going into any detail, and I know Dean was disappointed, but everything I had on that particular Riggins family was in that column. There was actually more on the Pilkingtons and Dominicks than on the Riggins. Also, Dean didn't give any detail on where his Riggins lived and if they moved from North Carolina. If anyone has more information on Dean's Riggins family, please write to him at the above email address or, if you don't have a computer, send it to me and I'll publish it here. If they weren't from our area, I'll have to make it short … just enough to give the contact name and address.

The next email came from Clint Chafin of Moultrie who is looking for Smiths in Coweta County. Clint writes:


"I am writing to ask for help in searching for some of my ancestors. My great-great-grandmother was Susan Smith Thomas. She was married to W.A.H. Thomas. They lived in or around Newnan, Ga. The time period was in the mid 1800s.

"W.A.H. served in the Alabama Cavalry during the War Between the States. Susan Smith Thomas had a brother Basil Andrew Jackson Smith.

"Basil served in the War Between the States with the Campbell Co., Ga. 35th Regiment. Basil is buried at Palmetto, Ga. at Ramah Church.

"Anybody with any information on my family or if you have any photos, please let me know.

"God bless, Clint Chafin, 4789 Tallokas Rd., Moultrie, Ga. 31788. ("

Clint's Smiths actually connect with a very familiar family we have studied in great detail - the Byrams. Basil Smith (Sr.), father of Basil Andrew Jackson Smith, was said to have been married first to a Catherine Byram, although how she fits into our Byrams of Coweta has not been proven. Some say she was James Sr.'s daughter and others say she was his sister. There is no proof of either theory at the present time. There is a grave marker for Catherine Byram at Cedar Creek Cemetery on Tommy Lee Cook Road, although the marker was placed there recently. I don't think there is concrete proof that Catherine is buried there.

Basil married second Amanda Atchison in Coweta County and they had Basil Jr. and Susan, among others.

Susan Smith was married to W.A.H. (Allen) Thomas in 24 June 1873 in Coweta County and they appear in the 1880 Coweta census with children Algy 13, Martha R. 6, Vassy 4, and Eva and Elmore, twins age 10 months. Other Smiths who are neighbors are the families of Mathew Smith, age 25, and John A. Smith, age 19. Cooks and Attaways (known relatives of the Byrams) are on the same page and the Byrams are on the next page.

Anyone who can help Clint with this Smith family should contact him at the above email address.

An email from Mike Oakley of Fort Worth ( says he is looking for information on his Oakley family and found an old column on the Oakley family of Bethany Community.

Mike gives his Oakley family lineage as: 4th great-grandfather, John Oakley of Georgia; 3rd great-grandfather James Madison Oakley of Georgia; great-great-grandfather, John D.C. Oakley of Georgia and Texas (brother to William Brewer Oakley); grandfather, Joseph Andrew Ianthus Oakley of Texas; and his father, William Troydee Oakley of Texas.

Mike adds that he will be traveling to Fayetteville in September to do some research on his Oakley family. I hope he will look up Mrs. Ruby Oakley Thompson of Bethany UMC. Ruby wrote a great letter several years ago giving her Oakley family history.

And last, a very short email from Terry Smallwood (Genpatton1944 informed us that John Newton Cole, son of Richard Cole, is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. 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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