Every family has a history

  • Follow People

It seems that broadcasters have discovered a booming interest in genealogy.

Back | Next
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Jerry Scott sits in Dothan Methodist Church. Her great-grandfather-in-law, Hugh Henderson Scott, is buried nearby, and one day she’ll be buried close to him.

The four-part Public Television miniseries Faces of America features Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., exploring American history through the family trees of 12 notable Americans, including musician Yo-Yo Ma, actress Eva Longoria, chef Mario Batali, Queen Noor, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

You can watch the final episode on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

If that whets your interest, check out Who Do You Think You Are? NBC’s seven-part miniseries will begin at 8 p.m. Friday.

The show will follow seven Americans – actors Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields, director Spike Lee and NFL player Emmitt Smith – as they trace their family trees.

If you’ve wondered about your own family history but never knew where to start, contact the Augusta Genealogical Society or a local historical society. They have workshops designed for new researchers, a wealth of research materials and volunteers who are eager to help.

In need of inspiration? Here are stories from three area residents on what they found when they explored their family backgrounds:


On their honeymoon in 1943, Ralph Scott told his bride, Marjorie, that one day they would be laid to rest in a small cemetery next to Dothan Methodist Church in Morgana community in Edgefield County, S.C.

The couple bought land in Morgana in 1961 and made their home there. The  church was on the adjoining property.

In 1991, Ralph Scott was buried in Morgana, and when her time comes, Jerry, as she prefers to be called, will join him.

She wonders what her husband’s great-grandfather, Hugh Henderson Scott, would think of her, a Yankee, being buried close enough to touch him.

“If you hear about an earthquake in Morgana, you’ll know why,” she said.

Scott has been tracing her and her husband’s ancestry since 1964.

During the Civil War, Hugh Henderson Scott served as a scout for the Confederacy with Gen. Wade Hampton and Matthew C. Butler.

“Do you know what a scout was in the war? Well, I didn’t, either,” Scott said. “A scout is a spy.”
Hugh Henderson Scott was born in 1843 in Colliers community, about four miles from Morgana.

He was about 18 when he joined the Confederates, and he recorded many of his experiences after the Civil War.

“He tells about the time the general sent him to see what the Yankees were doing,” Scott said.
Once, he went to a cabin where four or five Yankees were eating. Plain-clothed, Hugh joined them, posing as a Union soldier from another camp and asking for something to eat.

“After he left, he went back to his troops and told them where these people were. The Confederates that he was with captured those people and got their horses,” Scott said. “He was an interesting person and had many adventures during the war.”

Afterward, Hugh Scott married Harriet and moved to Morgana, where he farmed until he died in 1919.
Harriet Scott flew a Confederate flag over her husband’s grave until her death in 1930, Scott said.


Some old broken pottery in her father’s soybean fields piqued Jackie Bartley’s curiosity as a child.
She wanted to know who put them there.

Her father bought the land in the 1930s to farm it, not knowing or caring about who lived there before, but Bartley needed to know.

As an adult, she spent years researching the history of the area and coordinating archaeological digs on the property, which she now owns.

Through her research into the area’s history and her husband, Benny’s, research tracing the land ownership, Bartley learned that about half of her 300 acres was settled in 1736 by three Swiss brothers: Leonard, Ulric and Michael Meyer.

As she traced her ancestry, she was even more surprised to learn that the Meyers were her ancestors through her father’s line.

“It’s like history just comes back around,” she said.

She said reading about people in history breeds a curiosity about who they were.

“When you’re involved in history, you get involved in genealogy,” she said.

Bartley said the Meyers arrived in the Beech Island area in 1737 to settle 150 acres granted to them by King George II.

They were also given farming implements, and they took up an agrarian lifestyle.

She said life was hard for the early Swiss settlers. Many of them left families behind in Switzerland when they went in search of a better life.

They were used to living in a cooler climate, very different from the hot and humid summers of South Carolina.

About 40 settlers died the first summer, Bartley said.

“The strong ones survived, and that’s why we’re here,” she said.

“I don’t think I would have had the fortitude to get on a boat and leave everything and come here.”


LaRue Mangelly started tracing her family history in order to gain admittance into the Daughters of the American Revolution, which she joined in 1986.

"It's a fascinating subject, finding out who you are," she said.

Mangelly enjoyed it so much that she kept at it and found ties to William Bradford, who arrived in the New World on the Mayflower in 1620 and governed the Plymouth Colony for 35 years.

Tracing her ancestry that far back gained her entry into another exclusive club, the Mayflower Society, which she joined in 1996.

She sees no need to trace her ancestry back to England, though.

"I'll just let all that European royalty stay over there," she said.

Tracing her roots has led her to discover some connections to historic events or juicy tidbits about some of her ancestors.

For example, John Fuller was born in 1676 and was one of the most influential men in Salem, Mass., during the witch trials. Mangelly said she did not know many details of his involvement in the trials, only that he owned the most property in town at that time.

Another of her ancestors was Jacob Clearwater, who in 1749 traveled through Tennessee, South Carolina and New York, collecting wives as he went and bringing them along. There were three or four in all.

"We think he was a spy," she said. "(We think) he went home to New York to see family or carry a message."

She said it's been fun tracing her ancestry. She has learned not only family history but also customs surrounding the times in which they lived.

"What surprised me was so many had the same name for their sons," she said. "Why did they do that?"

She said she and other genealogists think they have figured it out. Often, these sons didn't live long enough to procreate. Giving sons the same name ensured that the family name would be carried on.

"What I'd like to find out was what were their nicknames," Mangelly said.

TV Programs


WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Georgia Public Television

LEARN MORE: www.pbs.org/wnet/facesofamerica


WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays


LEARN MORE: www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are

Begin your tree

Volunteers at the Augusta Genealogical Society can help you get started.

ADDRESS: 1109 Broad St.

PHONE: (706) 722-4073

HOURS: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; 2-5 p.m. Sunday

WEB SITE: augustagensociety.org

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
justus4 02/28/10 - 07:54 am
Why trace your family's

Why trace your family's history? That will only dig up terrible atrocities associated with a particular family, in fact, every time the issue of Reparations for the oppressed who actually built the country, the masses chant, "we don't need to go there" or "it will not help, only hurt" or "my family didn't own (fill in the blank)" so here is the question: When those families genealogy demonstrates a association with the insuring, the trading, and the selling of humans be discovered, what level of legal "standing" will those ancestors have?

Fiat_Lux 02/28/10 - 10:27 am
If you're family is

If you're family is worthless, don't look it up. If you're proud of what your family built, go for it.

Justus, old buddy, my family owned, bought and sold slaves. One of my great grands owned the warehouse across 9th Street from Beamies. He was a cotton factor and a warehouse commissioner who sold cotton, and until the emancipation proclamation, slaves. He also was a very good man descended and progenitor of a long line of good men and women, some of whom you learned in school were courageous, self-sacrificing leaders and patriots.

While you may not agree, I dare say "Pa Clayton", as he was known made a positive contribution to civilization that ranks at least with that of your own predecessors. Even if his legacy to his six succeeding generations were nothing more than high standards for decency, intelligence, faith and charity, that is something anyone could admire. You should be so fortunate in your own ancestors.

It looks like all you got left with is a legacy of bitterness and of blaming other people instead of being grateful they used what opportunities they did get to give you a shot at life.

It can't make your slave ancestors proud that you have evolved into a hater and a whiner instead of a force for progress and unity. Get off your back and move on. There won't be reparations, there won't be any more apologies, and nobody gives a darn about your relentless, monotonous drip of whining about an already-righted moral wrong that ENDED 150 years. You've become a stereotyped caricature, a cipher, a buzzing distraction to genuine conversation.

Why do you think black slavery in America is so special in the history of slavery anyway. What makes you so special? The fact that you've refused to forgive and move on? That just makes you small, hard, and bitter, and probably a little twisted.

Where is your outrage for the slavery happening today in Africa? If you can't address that, IMO, you have no standing to say a word about something long past that was rectified long ago.

God bless you, Justus. I hope your bitterness gets healed before you die. Life is too short to spend any of it hating people you don't even know for something they didn't even do.

Rolling Eyes
Rolling Eyes 02/28/10 - 10:47 am
An excellent post Fiat Lux.

An excellent post Fiat Lux. Nothing more needs to be added.

southern2 02/28/10 - 11:31 am
Thanks Fiat_Lux....Wish I had

Thanks Fiat_Lux....Wish I had said it. My white Granddaddy provided jobs and homes for black sharecroppers throughout the mid 20th century in Burke County. He had a small country store and extended credit to those in need. I have records proving he was fair and generous but also verbal testimony by blacks of his goodness towards those of color. I resent the implication that our family has been less than fair towards others. I'm tired of the race pimps who continue to fuel the flame of despair.

RogueKnight 02/28/10 - 03:59 pm
Both sides of my family,

Both sides of my family, maternal and paternal, go back to 17th century America, and I am damn proud of it. One of my paternal lines goes back to Lord Baltimore Calvert, 1st colonial governor of Maryland. My surname ancestor was one of the 1st English settlers on Southampton, Long Island, and has skirmishes with the Dutch over their settlement. On my maternal side were English and Irish settlers who ended up in the Appalachian Mountains in the late 17th, early 18th century. One mountain in SW Tennessee is named for my family. Also, my grandfather was 1st cousin to the Carters of The Carter Family musical group. I love researching my genealogy.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
FBI takes new look at Clinton emails
The FBI says it will investigate whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails that appear to be related to its probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices, reinjecting one of ...