A recent thread on heritage and family History reopened a personal can of worms that i had to shut a couple of years ago. Family history has always been a strange subject for me because I didnít have one. iíve never met anyone with my last name and I couldnít trace my family tree passed my Dad.
My father has lived an interesting life. Starting with his birth in prison. He was raised by his maternal aunts and grandmother. He never had any contact with his fathers family. He didnít even know his real last name until he was 13 and his aunt had to produce his birth certificate to enroll him in military boarding school. He stayed in that school until he graduated then he enlisted in the navy and never went back to his home town. As a boy he was told some terrible lies about his father to discourage his interest. It worked.
The first time my father met his father I was standing beside him. I was 5 years old. I shook his hand first. I was too young to understand the tension, all I remember is that grandpa really loved me and Mom really didnít like grandpa. He visited a couple of times and then we never heard from him again.
My grandmother told us that he died in the 70s, drunk, broke and wanted for debts. Every word was a lie. He didnít die until 1998 and had quite an estate but, we didnít learn that until 2005.
The first thing Dad did when he got a computer was sign up at ancestry dot com and start looking for family. It didnít take him long to find a couple of cousins and start corresponding with them.
They told dad this crazy story about his father and grandfather. That they had been cops who shot and killed another cop on a busy downtown sidewalk and got away with it. Dad had been told as a child that his father would never come back to Georgia because he was wanted for shooting a man in the back. This new story gave me the idea that there had to be a record of such a thing. I started my search with google. I found enough to pique my interest for real so I paid for access to the NY TIMES and ATLANTA CONSTITUTION JOURNAL archives and what I found was 30+ articles and a History book that tell a fascinating story of bootleggers and politics and domestic terrorism. Prohibition was splitting the entire Country apart and corruption was every where. The man my grandfather killed had been a deputy, then busted for running a blind tiger (a bootleg bar) then hired by a local judge to be his court bailif, then busted for bootlegging again.
I felt like this was a story worth telling for my family so, I spent about a 1 Ĺ years and quite a bit of money researching and writing. And I must confess I sought out pro editing help. I tried hard to stay neutral and keep a ďjust the factsĒ style.
What Iíve written is a summary of the news reports of the time. It was never meant to be a finished product. It was a first draft of what I hoped would be a bigger project for me and dad to work on together.
Sadly, I was too late. By the time I presented this to dad on his birthday, Alzheimer's had stolen him from me. He canít read it, forget about helping to write it. So, it has sat untouched for 3 years now. I suppose itís still a work in progress but, Iíve decided to publish it as a web page here.
If you decide to read it please let me know what you think.