What child is this?


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I was digging for downloadmore information about my great-great-grandfather Frank Gilley (ne Tindall), when I got an unexpected name in the search results: Isabelle Tindell.

Isabelle Tindell? Who is she?

According to her death certificate, she’s my great-great-grandfather’s older sister. She was born in 1839 to Seaborn and Hannah Tindall, and died Aug. 1, 1909 in Coffee County, Ala. But that’s it. She doesn’t appear in any other records that I’ve been able to find. Yet.

But this is interesting. Until this discovery, I thought that my great-great-grandfather Frank, was the oldest of Seaborn and Hannah Tindall’s children, having been born in 1847. I also know that Frank’s parents, Seaborn and Hannah, were both born in South Carolina. This is where their likely owners, James and Cassander Tindall, were from. If I could figure out more about Isabelle, namely where she was born, that would provide a clue as to when Seaborn and Hannah were taken to Alabama.


Freeze Frame Friday: J.E. Nance, businessman


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This is my great-grandfather J.E. Nance (1891-1979). The J.E. stands for James Evan. In this undated photo, he’s here with his younger sister Lovie, standing in front of a sign for Coppinville Grocery, the community store he owned in Enterprise, Ala. According to my cousin Benjel, Coppinville Grocery started out as storehouse, then Grandpa Evan began selling items on credit to the people who rented from him in the Coppinville community. After his son Henry Frank (aka Uncle Babe) returned from World War II, he helped Grandpa Evan run the store and showed him how to modernize it. Coppinville Grocery remained open through the 1960s.

Coppinville and Coppin State. . . is there a connection?


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The short answer to the question in the headline is yes. But first a bit of background:

Coppinville is the section of Enterprise, Alabama where my paternal ancestors and relatives have lived for more than a century. In fact, if you take a drive down Coppinville Road, you’ll notice it intersects with Nance Circle and further down is Gilley Street. Gilley is my great-grandmother’s maiden name.


Anyway, Coppinville is named for Levi Jenkins Coppin, (1848-1924) a former bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. But why this guy? Well, according to this history, the Coppinville area was among the first areas in Coffee County where black people settled. Many of them belonged to the AME church, and Coppin was bishop of the church during the time Coppinville was being developed. He married Fannie Jackson, a writer, educator and missionary after whom the historically black Coppin State University is named.


Fannie Jackson Coppin (1837-1913) is the educator, writer and missionary after whom Coppin State University is named. Her husband, Levi Jenkins Coppin, is the namesake of the Coppinville section of Enterprise, Ala.

Getting to know the neighbors, so to speak


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A few years ago, I discovered that my great-great-grandmother Narcis Pinkard (1864-1934) was buried in Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Ga. This cemetery is also the final resting place of quite a few notable black Georgians. Among them:

  • Gertrude “Ma Rainey” Pridgett (1886-1939): nicknamed the Mother of the Blu

    Ma Rainey, nicknamed the Mother of the Blues, is buried in Porterdale Cemetery in Columbus, Ga., which is also where my great-great-grandmother Narcis Pinkard is buried.

    es, Ma Rainey was one of the first blues singers to record music. She got her start by performing in live vaudeville shows and went on to record with jazz legend Louis Armstrong and noted bandleader Tommy Dorsey. She eventually returned to her hometown of Columbus, where she ran three theaters and served as a church musician.

  • Rev. Primus King (1900-1986): a Baptist minister and civil rights leader whose 1944 lawsuit protesting Georgia’s all-white primary resulted in all citizen being granted the right to register and vote.
  • Alfonso Biggs (1904-2003): a master chef who cooked for three U.S. presidents– Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.

    My great-great grandmother is likely buried in an unmarked grave; the record from the funeral home indicates she was buried at Porterdale, but an online search of her grave’s location didn’t reveal anything.

When family lines cross property lines


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For a while I’ve been trying to track down a record of the Dobbins family owning my great-great-great-grandparents Alfred and Rachel Dobbins. I’ve zeroed in on Moses W. Dobbins Jr. and also his father, Moses Dobbins Sr., who was an early rector of the University of Georgia.

I recently found a will of Edith Dobbins, the wife of Moses Sr., and thought it may hold some answers. It was dated Nov. 6, 1848, long before my great-great-grandmother Laura Dobbins was born (in 1861), so I was hoping to  happen upon one or both of her parents, Alfred and Rachel, my third-great-grandparents, who were both born around 1825-1830.


Edith Dobbins’ list of goods and chattel listed seven slaves, so naturally my eyes were drawn there first. I found the following: one negro man Mallachi, one negro man Waler (?), one negro boy Frank, one negro woman Lucy and child, one negro woman Martha, one negro woman America, and one negro woman Lila (or Sila?)

So, no Alfred or Rachel, but eight other people. Who were they? What was their relation, if any,  to my relatives? Then I had another thought– maybe Alfred and Rachel belonged to other members of Moses Dobbins’ family. Hmm…



Finding my roots in Georgia pines


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This photo is of a sawmill worker in Heard County, Ga., c. 1941. (Not my grandfather)

A lot of people equate the economy of the Deep South solely with cotton. But to do that is to ignore the diversity of the South’s natural resources. In Virginia and North Carolina, there was tobacco. South Carolina had rice and indigo. And Georgia had– and still has — lumber.

My paternal grandfather Willie Pinkard (1915-1985) was part of that industry, as I recently discovered. I stumbled across his World War II draft registration card, on which he listed his employer as Ingram and Legrand Lumber. In fact, he and five of his brothers– Bennie, Ike Jr., Henry, Freddie Sylvester and John Lee–had the same employer.  My mom recalled him working at the sawmill and hauling lumber.


This image is of my grandfather’s World War II draft registration card he completed when he was a 24-year-old worker at Ingram and Legrand Lumber Company in Stewart County, Ga.


According to this article, the lumber industry emerged in Stewart County after peanuts and cotton dwindled. Lumber required fewer workers than cotton or peanut farming, a plus for a county with a steadily declining population. Ingram and Legrand was founded in 1929 and, after some iterations, exists now as Ingram Entities, a real estate development company based in Forsyth, Ga.

Research to a ‘t’


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Sometimes you have to be creative with spellings when you’re hunting for your family. This is certainly the case with the Bryants on the maternal side of my family. I was trying to find out more about my great-grandmother Rachel Bryant and was reviewing records of her father — my great-great-grandfather– Crawford Bryant. As I was searching, I noticed that ancestry.com was suggesting that I look at records connected to Crawford Bryan.

Until then, I had hit a lull with my research on this side, but dropping the ‘t’ opened up a lot. I did a bit more digging on Crawford Bryan and found him listed on three property tax lists. He and his father — my great-great-great-grandfather — Aaron Bryan(t) were both sharecroppers working in Florence, Ga. for the same employer.

This Georgia property tax digest shows my great-great-grandfather Crawford Bryan (also known as Crawford Bryant) and his father Aaron, both sharecroppers who work for John Perkins. Also listed on the digest is John Dobbins, brother-in-law to Crawford. John's sister Laura was my great-great-grandmother.

This Georgia property tax digest, taken sometime between 1883 and 1887 in Florence, Ga., shows my great-great-grandfather Crawford Bryan (also known as Crawford Bryant) and his father Aaron, both sharecroppers who work for John Perkins. Also listed on the digest is John Dobbins, brother-in-law to Crawford. John’s sister Laura was my great-great-grandmother.