by Tonya Brantley
Wow! What a long journey it has been to get to 2010! Now comes the awkward task of remembering to write 2010 instead of 2009. (I've already been burned by that one a couple of times.) And then there's deciding on whether or not to give yourself a New Year resolution list to try your best to stick to. As I've written before, I have managed to keep a resolution I made several years ago which was to resolve not to make resolutions. So far, so good with no complaints or disappointments. However, after much deliberation, I've decided to set a goal for myself instead. The problem I have with setting a goal is not being able to attain it and then having to face the disappointment that follows.
I was recently looking back at several of the articles I have written since being part of this publication. Written in one of them was the following:
"Through my writing, I have been able to share my personal life markers (life changing events) with my readers with the help of this Tonya's Tales column. I have connected with distant relatives by sharing stories of my family history and encouraged others to start researching their family lineage. By writing about my great grandfathers, I have made new and everlasting connections with family members I've never known after they've read my articles while searching online for family members neither of us knew we had in common. I've also solved several mysteries within my own family research with the help of this column and for that, I am truly grateful." Anyone who knows me, or keeps up with my articles, knows I am a huge believer in family and family research. I think it is important to know where and who you came from.
My goal this year is to try my best to solve a particular family mystery that has been unsolved since I began researching my family history over a decade ago. The difference this time is I have more people now that can possibly help me along the way, which I am hoping will give me more to go on.
I was recently contacted by two distant relatives in my Brantley family tree. On July 4th, 2009, a woman named Janice Folds sent me an e-mail after researching online about her husband Marvin's GGG (Great x 3) Grandfather, Revolutionary War Soldier Amos Brantley from Hancock County, Georgia (my GGGG Grandfather). She came across my article A Promise Kept and inquired if this was the same Amos I had written about. Just last month, On December 3, 2009, a woman named Frances Jones Tucker sent me an e-mail telling me that she and her sisters had traced their ancestors back to the same Amos Brantley she also read about in my article. Thus, more Brantley family connections were made.
As it turns out, both Marvin and Frances are connected through my Great Grandfather William Haynes Brantley's siblings. Marvin through Ida Brantley and Frances through Mary Ada Brantley. I have since traded contact information and the two of them have also been connected as a result with each sharing family stories and memories along with their research.
Each new connection that is made as a result of my article and the dedication of other family researchers brings me so much happiness, excitement and pride, words alone can never fully express. It also brings me closer to solving the mystery of what ever happened to my GGG Grandfather and Grandmother Lunsford Whitaker and Christiline Brantley. No one that I know of who has researched this part of the Brantley lineage has ever been able to locate the death records or whereabouts of the final resting place my GGG Grandparents, and this is my goal.
Although it has always been a goal of mine to find my GGG Grandparents, new information has fueled my interest even more. Just this year, I have located records of their wedding announcement in the online archives of The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville, GA dated March 28, 1843. It reads: Married-- On the 19th inst., at the residence of Ellis M. Waller, in Hancock county, by Levin D. Culver, Esq., Mr. Lunsford Brantley, to Miss Christiline M. Waller. Logically, it would seem that if their wedding announcement was printed, surely something about their death would have been printed as well. As of now, I have been unable to locate any type of information about when, how, or where they died or where they are buried.
Frances Jones Tucker mentioned to me, perhaps those of us who have found each other can team up and possibly help in the search for Lunsford and Christiline. Now, I have a renewed energy to find out what happened to them. I realize, not only would I be happy to know what happened, but others in my Brantley family line would be as well. In essence, this is a goal for all of us who are still searching for them, not just a goal for me.
Until one starts doing research into their family history, they can never fully understand the sense of wholeness it brings. The feeling of excitement when pieces of the puzzle come together is unlike any other. Plus, the bonds made between distant relatives are always special.
With the New Year, I wish for all a happy and prosperous one and the best of luck in sticking to those New Year resolutions and/or goals.