Apr 20

Follow-up on Supposed Remains of Chief James Vann

Lesson Learned! When I first transcribed the article, “Chief Vann Remains Exhumed” an article by RIP Whitfield appearing in the <em>Forsyth County News</em>, Cumming, Georgia, 13 September 1962,” in my post on March 24th, 2011, it was my intent to quickly follow up with an explanation that the exhumed body was not that of Chief James Vann. A search for specific newspaper articles regarding the error were not located and I got too busy to follow through and I hope my readers will accept my apologies.

Don L. Shadburn gave an account of the “Disinterment at Blackburn Cemetery: The Fenenga Report” in his book Unhallowed Intrusion: A History of Cherokee Families in Forsyth County, Georgia (Cumming, Georgia: Don L. Shadburn, 1993). In fact, the Fenenga Report indicates that the remains exhumed near the Blackburn cemetery in Forsyth County were not those of James Vann who was killed in 1809. The report indicates that among other artifacts found at the excavation site were 5 pressed glass buttons. The report indicates that the process of making pressed glass did not occur until about 1825 and that the technique was not applied to making buttons until after 1840.  Lead capped screws were also found which were designed for coffin manufactures in 1846. There you are—if James Vann was killed in 1809, then this grave site would not have contained items first manufactured in 1825 or 1846. Readers may view a list of Don’s books on his website.

What lesson did I learn? In the future when I make a post (even though it is a transcription of something or a record in print) and I know that there is contradictory evidence, I will wait to post when all evidence is in hand, so the delay such as this does not happen again.

Again, I apologize for the confusion.

© Linda Woodward Geiger. All Rights Reserved.



Apr 07

Made Out Cherokee Claims

Oh, Oh, I put the “cart before the horse” on Monday when I posted the short article regarding “The Cherokee claims” appearing in The Gainesville News on May 22nd 1907.

The following article appeared in The Gainesville News, 20 March 1907. Note: Several miss-spellings occurred in the article but have been transcribed as written.

Made Out Cherokee Claims
From the number of persons in the office of Congressman Thos. M. Bell in this city Saturday one would have thought the whole country had tuned Indian and the pale faces were extinct. This was caused by notice being given that Saturday was the last day for making out claims under the recent act of Congress, which appropriated $5,000,000.00 for the Cherokee Indian or their decendants, who had not participated in the orginal claims nor had received any bounty. Mr. Bell was kept busy for an entire day making out these claims. It is not known at this time how many of them will be allowed as the record must be perfectly clear and many of the applicants could not give the full names of their ancestors.

Article courtesy of Patricia K. Jones, Oakwood, Georgia.


Apr 04

The Cherokee Claims

The Gainesville News [Gainesville, Georgia], 22 May 1907.

The Cherokee Claims.
Congressman Thomas M. Bell has received notice from the Department of the Interior that the time in which to file claims under the Cherokee appropriation fund has been extended to August 31, 1907. those who have not yet made claims under this appropriation should do so at once.

Article courtesy of Patricia K. Jones, Oakwood, Georgia.

Mar 31

Georgia Death Certificates, 1919–1930

In 1914 Georgia’s State Board of Health was required to collect information on the States vital records. However, compliance was minimal until 1919 when statewide registration of births and deaths were required by legislation.

Digital images of Georgia death certificates, 1914–1927 (335,472 images) are available free online from two websites—Georgia Archives Virtual Vault and FamilySearch. [FamilySearch requires users to register and to "login." Registration, however, is free.] The certificates are in the custody of the Georgia Archives and were filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah. FamilySearch also provides images of Georgia death certificates from 1928–1930 (123,418 images).

Since the images in the Georgia Archives Virtual Vault and FamilySearch are the same, users should look at both and determine which site suits their needs best. The search criteria is similar, with subtle differences—FamilySearch has a field called “place” while the Georgia Archives site uses a field called “County of death.” It is a no wonder that the FamilySearch query produces a much larger return. In addition to returning results for deaths occurring in Pickens County, FamilySearch also returns results where birth place is recorded as Pickens County.

Search criteria at FamilySearch

Search criteria at the Georgia Archives Virtual Vault

A comprehensive overview of Georgia death records is available at FamilySearchs Wiki.

Copyright. Linda Woodward Geiger. All rights reserved.

Mar 24

Chief Vann Remains Exhumed

“Chief Vann Remains Exhumed” an article by RIP Whitfield appearing in the Forsyth County News, Cumming, Georgia, 13 September 1962.

The remains of Cherokee Indian Chief James Vann, builder of the now famous Vann House at Spring Place, were exhumed Saturday from his grave in Forsyth County and brought to Dalton in a modern day mystery greater than the one which surrounded his death. In 1809, when he was slain by an unknown assassin.

Dalton archaeologist Wayne Yeager has confirmed that he removed the skeleton of Chief Vann from his grave near Ball Ground and brought the remains to a local funeral home, which he declined to name. Dalton funeral home directors have denied that the body is here.

Mr. Yeager stated that his excavation of the grave was at the direction of J. Raymond Vann, a direct descendant of James Vann, who resides at Mt. Vernon, N.Y. Mr. Vann has returned to his New York home and was unavailable for comment, but Mr. Yeager quoted Vann as saying that h hoped his ancestor could be carried to a final resting place near the Vann House he loved.

The local archaeologist said it took seven hours Saturday, to exhume the remains from the old Blackburn family cemetery on the Etowah River between Ball Ground and Cumming. Mr. Yeager said the skeleton is in good condition considering that it has been 153 years since Chief Vann’s death.

Yeager said the bones have been sealed in a container and are being held in mystery to keep curious onlookers from tempting to disturb the remains.

Mr. Yeager said he is positive that he was the right skeleton because of several factors. Number one is that local residents pinpointed the grave from tradition although is was not marked.

Number two, the upper right arm bone had been fractured as if by a bullet. Mr. Yeager said Chief Vann fought a political duel from horseback with his brother-in-law, John Falling, shortly before his death and accounts of the duel say that Falling was killed and Chief Vann was hit in the right arm by a bullet.

Number three, Mr. Yeager has compared the shirt buttons found in the grave with the buttons of a shirt of the same era and found them to be the same. The shirt used for comparison belonged to Tarleton Lewis, great grandfather of Mrs. B.J. Bandy, three times removed.

Mr. Yeager said the grave was located on property owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Sherrill and that Mr. Sherrill’s 94 year old aunt, stated that she could remember when the grave was marked with a wooden slab.

Aunt Mattie Heard said the slab was inscribed and the inscription read, “Here lies the body of James Vann. He killed many a white man. At last by a rifle ball he feel and the Devil dragged his soul to Hell.” However, the grave has long been unmarked.

In fact, after the Georgia Historical Commission established the location of the grave, Mr. Sherrill piled brush over it and refused to tell curous historians where it was located in fear that they might dig into the grave.

However, Mr. Sherrill did show the grave to Raymond Vann and Mr. Vann served an order from Forsyth County Ordinary, A.B. Tollison to exhume his ancestor. Mr. Tollison acted as an official witness during the excavation.

Found in the grave were seven glass buttons, approximately 50 nails from the coffin and a belt buckle. Mr. Yeager said the bottom of the grave was in the exact shape of the old time wooden coffins.

Mr. Yeager said two gold rings were discovered on the hands of the skeleton and these rings are now being cleaned by Jack Zbar, another Dalton archaeologist and chemist. The rings appear to be inscribed, but the cleaning process has not been finished. Mr. Zbar also participated in the excavation.

Yeager said examination of the skeleton revealed that Chief Vann was approximately 5 feet and 8 inches in height and a rather large man. Yeager said Chief Vann’s arms were crossed each hand clasping the other arm.

Raymond Vann said that if Chief Vann is not buried on the Vann House property that he intends to carry the body to Oklahoma for burial with the other chiefs of the Cherokee Tribe.

Raymond was quoted by Mr. Yeager as expressing hope that the body would be buried near the Vann House, but the decision is up to the Georgia Historical Commission. The remains will stay at the local funeral home until a decision is reached.

Mrs. Bandy, a noted Cherokee historian and Dalton philanthropist, stated that she is very pleased with Mr. Yeager’s work and hoped that the Historical Commission will accept the remains for proper burial on the grounds of the Vann House.

Recently 12 descendants of Chief Vann signed a petition asking the Historical Commission to exhume the body and return it to Spring Place, but the Commission refused, apparently in fear that some other descendants would disagree with the maneuver and sue the commission.

According to history, Chief Vann was shot by an unknown relative of John Falling who Vann had killed in a duel. This was the custom in those days.

Chief Vann was reportedly killed at his tavern near Ball Ground and subsequently buried in the Blackburn family cemetery. Chief Vann had two taverns, one at Gainesville and the other at Ball Ground. Vann was 41 years old at the time of his death.

Mrs. Bandy, Mr. Yeager, Mr. Zbar, Mr. Vann and Jon Wear of Fairmont, another archaeologist, who participated in the excavation said they wished to express appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Sherrill and Gene Mauldin for their cooperation in the project.

**(Taken from the Dalton News)**

Ordinary, Ben Tollison, Mrs. Marcus Mashburn, Jr., Miss Martha Mashburn, and Mr. Clifford Ruddell of Forsyth County were present when the bones were exhumed. Mr. Ruddell participated many long hours in the actual digging of the grave.

Dr. A.Y. Howell, who later viewed the skeleton, noted the teeth undoubtedly were of Indian origin because of the unusual size.

Ordinary Ben Tollison stated that Mrs. Bandy had informed him by phone that the rings definitely did have the inscription of a “V” on them.

Transcription by Linda Woodward Geiger from a copy of the newspaper article provided by Ted O. Brooke.

Copyright. Linda Woodward Geiger. All rights reserved.


Mar 22

Tombstone Tuesday: Arbor Hill Baptist Church

Arbor Hill Baptist Church Cemetery is located off Fortner Road in the mountains of Southern Pickens County. Six markers indicate burials of veterans in this cemetery established in 1940.

Copyright. Linda Woodward Geiger. All rights reserved.


Mar 18

Obituary of Mimi Jo Hill Butler

Yesterday I reported the untimely death of Mimi Jo Hill Butler, the force behind the Marble Valley Historical Society and the society’s museum in Jasper.

Her obituary is available online via the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Mar 17

Mimi Jo Hill Butler

Today is an extremely sad day as Mimi Jo Hill Butler was taken from us. During the past ten years Mimi Jo was the very life and breath of the Marble Valley Historical Society. As county historian she did much to preserve the heritage or our county.

In December, Mimi Jo, was honored was honored last week by members of the Pickens County Retired Teachers Association as the 2010 Golden Deed recipient. Read about it in the Pickens County Progress.

We will all miss her wisdom and her selfless efforts to preserve the history of our county and her endless hours of work with and on behalf of the children of Pickens County.

Mar 17

Georgia Archives threatened by House Budget

The following article was recently posted on the Friends of Georgia Archives & History website http://www.fogah.org/ The Archives is already only open 3 days a week to the public. This bill in its current form would force it to close completely to the public. Please contact Georgia state senators asap about this! Remember that snail mail and phone calls have much more impact than emails, but emails are better than doing nothing! Please help!!!

Georgia Archives threatened by House Budget

An open letter from FOGAH Chair, Virginia Shadron:

The Fiscal Year 2012 budget that passed the Georgia House of Representatives on March 11 as HB 78 includes budget reductions that could result in the State Archives closing its doors to the public.

The budget contains two items that together would reduce the Archives’ budget by at least $300,000.

The Archives’ base budget, after preceding budget cuts, is $4,643,588. Over 65% of that goes to pay fixed costs (such as rent) that cannot be reduced. The current bill proposes an additional cut in “personal services and … savings from reduced hours …” in the amount of $260,458. The second way in which the Archives’ budget is eroded is that the House budget does not fund the annual increase in the Archives’ rent, an amount of more than $40,000 for FY12.

Altogether, the additional cuts to personal services and the failure to fund the rent increase means that the Archives’ sustains a critical $300,000 in cuts. You might wonder, “What is the fuss about?” That shortfall can come from one place only—and that is staff.

Without intervention the Archives will almost certainly be forced to close its doors to the public, reduce scanning operations and preservation activities, and eliminate most transfers of records from state agencies—the records that protect Georgia financially and legally.

The House version of the budget now goes to the Senate for adjustment and passage.  Call and write your state senator immediately and ask that a minimum of $300,000 be restored to the Archives budget! Go to http://www.legis.ga.gov and click on “Find Your Legislator” to find your senator.

- Virginia Shadron

How bad is it?


Year Budget Budget in 2011 Dollars

Number of Staff

1982 $3,297,000 $7,523,000


1992 $4,166,000 $6,538,000


2002 $5,409,000



2012 (projected) $4,819,000 $4,819,000







Mar 15

Tombstone Tuesday: Free Hope Baptist

Free Hope Baptist Church

The following veterans were buried at Free Hope Baptist Church Center in Pickens County, Georgia. The cemetery is located about 5 miles south of Jasper, east of Ga. Hwy. 515. The church was established in 1938.

Wright, Bernice I.; b. 13 Jan 1904; d. 16 Apr 1990; Pvt., U.S. Army, Rev.

Hitt, Joseph Hugh;  b. 21 Jan 1919; d. 24 Sep 2000;  S1, US Navy, WW II

Burgess, Henry J.; b. 1 Jan 1920l; d. 13 Nov 1990; US Army, WW II

Owens, Willie T.; b. 20 Sep 1917; d. 28 Feb 1984 ; US Army, WW II

Lowe, Clyde F.; b. 31 Jul 1922; d. 15 Mar 1964; Georgia, PFC, US Army, WW II

Lowe, Jesse James; b. 16 Mar 1909; d.  29 Jun 1967; Georgia, Pvt, U.S. Army

Hughes, Harold E.; b. 24 Aug 1926; d. 3 Dec 1985; US Army, WW II

Forrester, Willard P.; b. 24 Nov 1905; d. 1 Mar 1983; US Army, WW II

Scott, William W.; b. 24 Apr 1912; d. 26 Apr 1988; US Army, WW II

Padgett, William C.; b. 18 Jan 1922; d.  2 Oct 1994;  TEC 4, US Army, WW II

Stell, Joseph M.; b. 10 Aug 1940; d.  31 Jan 1977;  SP R, US Army, Vietnam

Hughes, Loyde W.; b. 17 Jul 1918; d. 3 Dec 1990; PFC, US Army, WW II

Gibson, James F.; b. 18 Jan 1916; d. 17 Oct 2001

Thacker, Bernard G.; b. 11 Sep 1927; d. 13 Mar 2003; CPL, US Army

Copyright. Linda Woodward Geiger. All rights reserved.

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