I’ve been trying to find out more about the life and times of my great-grandmother Rachael Bryant (1894-1937). In the past year, I’ve learned more about her than I ever thought I would, and each discovery makes me want to learn more.
I found out that she married twice, and ultimately ended up living in Lumpkin, Ga. Now, I’m realizing that she may have spent time in Colquitt, Ga., after her first marriage to a man named Simon Henley. In the 1920 Census, a Rachael Henley is a boarder in the home of Carrie Grimsley, a 26-year-old widow. Also in the household are two children, 2-year-old Henry Henley, and 4-year-old Susie May Henley.
It’s not clear whether these are Rachael’s biological children or relatives from her ex-husband’s family.
I wondered how and why she may have ended up further south. I glanced at the neighbors in the Census to see if there were relatives. No relatives, per se, but perhaps a connection. Charlie Lee Humber and his family lived a few doors down from where Rachael was living. His occupation: a clerk for the city of Colquitt. A man named Lucius Humber once employed Rachael’s grandfather, Alfred Dobbins (my third-great-grandfather). And by “employed,” I mean Alfred Dobbins was a sharecropper.
These connections between sharecroppers and the people and families whose land they worked often extended through generations. Rachael’s occupation is listed as a laundress, so maybe she was working in the Humber home? I don’t know.
It’s an interesting twist in an already mysterious life. I’m not sure how long Rachael Bryant remained in Colquitt. I do know that her daughter– my maternal grandmother, Lula Bryant, was born in 1925. I always assumed she was born in Stewart County, Ga., but this revelation about her mother made me wonder. So I asked my mom:
“No, my mom wasn’t born in Stewart County,” she said. “She was born somewhere around Dawson.”
Dawson, Ga., is about 50 miles northeast of Colquitt, and roughly 34 miles southeast of Stewart County. My grandma Lula didn’t grow up with her mother. Instead, she was raised by an uncle, Will, who was one of Rachael’s brothers, and his wife Marie.
By 1930, Rachael Henley was now Rachael Jackson, married again and living in Lumpkin, Ga. She died in November 1937 of a stroke.
I’d like to know what kept her on the move between 1920 and 1930. Who were Henry and Susie May, and what became of them? How did she end up in Colquitt, and what made her leave? So many questions…