A friend of mine from high school, Mike Almgren, called today to tell me how my mother's book, "They Tarried in Taylor" had helped him in his genealogical search.
So I decided to visit this website to see if anybody else ever had used or referenced the research in her book. At the time she published the book, she would get maybe 1-2 calls per month from people seeking info. I was totally amazed at the 2000 hits I found on this site when I plugged in her name!!! I thought her book was probably lying around on some dusty library shelf and was never read by anyone.
I thought some of you would like a brief biography of her life and how she researched and wrote her books, "They Tarried in Taylor County" and "Cemeteries of Taylor County".
She was born in the area of Moultrie/Colquitt(sp?) County Georgia as Essie Lou Jones. In her early teens her mother died during the the Great Depression. There were a total of 5 siblings in her family. Her father remarried a woman who at the time also had approx 5 siblings. With the total of 10 young mouths to feed, things were a bit tough during these times.
Upon graduation from high school, she attended Americus (GA) Normal College and received her degree in teaching and I believe taught school at Cross Roads School which is in the southwest part of Taylor County.
She dated Bussey Childs who lived in Butler and when he proposed to her, she said, "Yes", even though later she admitted that she wasn't sure at the time and wanted to hedge her bet so that she didn't pass up a good opportunity. She could always tell him "No" if she changed her mind.
It turned out to be a very good and loving marriage. They were both strongly committed Christians and we all faithfully attended first Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, but later attended the Butler Baptist Church.
Besides my self, she had two other children: Nancy Childs Brown Cornet of Macon GA and Preston Bussey Childs, Jr. of St. Simons Island GA.
At age 55 my father, Preston Bussey Childs, died of leukemia and my mother who had been a housewife all her life had no means of support and this was at a time when women just didn't work in the business world. My father had run for the office of Court Ordinary (name later changed to Probate Judge I think?). He won the election for a 4 year term. About a year into his term he died, and my mother was appointed to be the "The Judge" to fill his unexpired term.
My father was a very kind man, but he hated it when he had to fine one of his friends for speeding. I think the stress was what killed him. My mother on the other hand had no problem levying fines for roadway improprieties. She would fine you one day and then greet you very warmly on the street the next day and she never missed a night's sleep. She was a very nice, but direct woman.
Her duties were to fine people the Georgia Highway Patrol brought in for speeding and drunk driving. She would also marry people who would come to our house at odd hours of the night.
After filling my father's unexpired term of office, she went on to win four elections, with each election being for a 4 year term of office. She held that office for almost 20 years, despite by the very nature of this office, one could build up a long list of "enemies" by fining your neigbors for speeding and drunk driving during those many years, but yet she somehow managed to pull it off.
Probably what sparked her interest in geneaology was that she was responsible for keeping all the birth, death, and marriage certificate records for Taylor County. Her genealogical research took her on many trips to the state archives in Atlanta. I think she probably knew people there of a first-name basis.
Her other research endeavors entailed visiting every graveyard in Taylor County, walking through the tombstones in her hand taking copious notes on who was related to who. She didn't like being out in these remote graveyards by herself, so she would drag this teenage son along for "protection". I would grumble about this bodyguard duty and would complain to my friends about my "graveyard stomping" duties as I referred to them.
After I left home to go to college at Auburn University, my mother continued the graveyard stomping by herself, but underneath her notepad, she carried a .32 pistol. She was one fine fiesty woman.
Having been single for several decades, she met a wonderful man by the name of Martel McGuffin who lived in Butler. She called me up on the phone one night here in Dallas TX to tell me that she was getting married. I asked her how long she had been dating and she said, "Three days". I was somewhat alarmed and told her that she was acting like a teenager and that she should date longer before marrying someone, but before I could continue to let my reservations be known, she handed the phone to Martel and I had to make nice with my new father-in-law.
My mother had been single and lonely for about 25-30 years and I came to realize that she needed and deserved another shot at happiness with a new mate even though she was then in her early 70's. She had had a wonderful first marriage and it turned out that her second marriage was just as wonderful.
She worked on those books it seems like for more than 30 years and everytime I asked her when she was going to publish it, she would always say something like, "Well, sugar, I'm almost finished, but I just found out some new and exciting details and I want to include those in my book." Finally I supposed she realized that she reaching the end of her life and it was time to stop and publish the book.....which she successfully did.
She often collaborated with her niece, Dr. Maxine Turner, from Atlanta/Columbus GA. Maxine retired from being a professor at Georgia Tech for 27 years. She was appointed by Ted Turner (CNN guy) to serve on some type of 12 member Confederate Board.
I may be fuzzy on some of the above details. When my Mother visited me in Dallas and she was in her 70's, I videotaped a 45 minute interview with her telling her life story.
She died at the age of 81 leaving behind a great legacy not only for her children, but for all of you who came to appreciate her work.