Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Records or is it First Records

Since I'm going backwards at this point, the "last" records I have of my grandfather, he was 13 years old and was living in Augusta, Georgia.  The 1900 Census tells me that both he and his father James Canty were sweepers in the cotton mill.  Already working at the age of 13.  Since his sister Sadie Pearl was 5 years old and born in South Carolina, that tells me that he and his family were born and lived in South Carolina until that time.  I am guessing but it seems like their mother might have died in child birth or at least sometime thereafter, leaving Gr. Grandpa with four children to raise on his own.  The Census also tells me Gr. Grandpa's mother was born in Georgia so perhaps they had connections there or perhaps working in the cotton mill was an important reason to move.

So now, the story I have learned is that Grandpa Canty was born in South Carolina, lived there until he was between 8 to 13 and then moved to Augusta, Georgia.  Then his father dies, the family is again hit by sorrow and on top of that split up.  He ends up with in-laws in Ohio and decides to join the Army.  The Army sends him to New London where he meets my grandmother.  They have three children.  And then it gets confusing, leading up to a brick wall.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Middle Name Becomes First Name

I recently read somewhere - sorry no citation and bad memory - that in the South, it was the custom to use one's middle name rather than their first name.  I certainly found this to be true in the case of my Southern Grandpa and his family. 

I found Thomas Walter Canty listed as "Walter Cantey" in 1900 in Augusta, Georgia.  He was living with his father "Jas A Cantey," his brother "Willie Cantey," and his two sisters, "Jennie Cantey" and "Pearl Cantey."  With the exception of the father and oldest brother, three of the children were listed by their middle names.  By searching online for Barnwell, South Carolina history, I found some information about the Canty (or Cantey as it seemed to be used interchangeably) family from that area.  I was blessed to actually find the first and last names of James A. Cantey and his children.  Using both the first and middle names, I was able to locate this 1900 Census. 

So Grandpa was 13 years old and living with his father and three siblings, his mother apparently having passed away.  Fast forward to 1909  and Grandpa had gone to his sister Jennie's sister-in-law in Ohio and had signed up for the Army.  I believe that his father also passed away sometime during this period because I find each child in a different location.  Sadie "Pearl" Canty was living with her sister who was now Jenny Beard.  Willie was married and on his own.

In addition to the middle name being used, my experience has also found that nicknames were recorded in census reports as well.  So we have first names, middle names, nicknames, misspelllings on last names and marrying, remarrying and name changes.  Whew!  But it becomes so exciting when a new fact is learned.  Just yesterday, I learned that my Grand Aunt Jennie was actually Virginia P. Canty.  But that's another story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grandpa, Ohio and the U.S. Army

Grandpa was an adventurous guy.  He was born in South Carolina and then met Grandma while in the Army at Fort Wright in New York.  Looking more closely at the U.S. Army records, I see that Grandpa joined the Army in Columbus, Ohio.  Huh?  How did he get to Ohio and why?

By looking into the Census Reports I found that Grandpa Canty's sister Jennie married one William T. Beard.  William T. Beard had a sister named Laura who married Zachariah T. Witt.  Can you guess where they moved to?  Ohio!  Franklin, Ohio close to Columbus, Ohio.    By backing up to the 1900 U.S. Census, I find some interesting answers to the circumstances which took my Grandpa on his journey away from the South and toward Ohio.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New London, Connecticut - City of Romance?

A very fascinating town to me.  I knew my mother had been from New London but now I know after my genealogy research that my relatives go back for many years and seemed to love New London as they never left.  In fact, to this very day, I am finding many living relatives are still in New London.

Before Grandpa Canty ended up at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina, he was stationed at Fort H.G. Wright at Fisher's Island.  This was a fort that's responsibility was to protect the Sound between Long Island and Connecticut.  While stationed there, Grandpa Canty met Fannie Enos.  Between 1909 and 1915, they had three children: Leona, Nellie and Harold Canty.  The 1910 Census has Grandpa at the Fort and Grandma is still with her parents.  By 1920 Census, Grandpa is gone and Grandma is remarried to Charles Durr and living in New York.

Just this weekend I received an e-mail from one of my "found" cousins.  She tells me Grandma Fannie had kind of the reputation for being a "black widow."  Not in a sense of anything evil, but just that all four of her husbands died during her lifetime.  From this, I am thinking Grandpa Canty did, indeed, pass away before 1920.  Can't find anything on him.  Was he in Georgia with his brother or back up in Connecticut with his children?  I have no idea.  And all the family has no idea.  In the Census report, Leona, Nellie and Harold were even using the name Canty-Durr. 

So how do I find that out?  Nothing comes up on ancestry and I am thinking I need to check out what is necessary to do some obituary searching?  This is a mystery I am determined to solve.

However, what I do know is that before Grandpa ended up in Connecticut, he joined the Army in - of all places, OHIO!!  And by checking out those census reports, I have an answer.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Step [Backwards] at a Time

Grandpa Canty's last known whereabouts was in Clyo, Georgia.  His WWI Draft Registration Card said he was a salesman.  But before that, Grandpa was a soldier.  How do I know that?  I go back to 1913 - 5 years earlier.  The U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 is full of information.  When you go on Ancestry, you will only see the basics unless you click to see the original document.  Here is where it gets interesting.  This is basically a list of who joined the U.S. Army, when they joined, who signed them up, where they were originally from and then a spot called "Remarks."  Now "Remarks" is in abbreviated form, but I've done my best to transcribe.  In 1913 Grandpa Canty was on his second enlistment with the U.S. Army.  He had reinlisted back at Ft. Slocum, N.Y.; however, he was discharged early in South Carolina.  Here is what the "Remarks" say:
"Dis., May 25, 1913 at Ft. Moultrie, S.C. in S.A.(?) 75, Eastern Dept., May 14/13, Lot., Very Good, h.&f."
I don't know what some of this means, but I do see that when he left the Army, it was on  May 25, 1913 and after that he made his way during the next 5 years to living back in Georgia. [By the way, if anyone reading this has any helpful hints about what "Lot." or "h.&f." mean, please share.]

So I'll take another step backwards to end up in the New London, Connecticut area.  The city of romance...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh Grandpa, Where Did You Disappear To???

So, in a nutshell, Grandpa Canty married my Grandma, Fannie Billlings Enos, had three children and disappeared.  I have no pictures of him and those who might have known him are no longer living.  Searching for Grandpa has turned into a bit of a mystery to me.  So, piece by piece, I have worked my way backwards and think I can tell the story of his early life and hopefully I will someday find the pieces which explain where he disappeared to and what happened to him in his later life.

The LAST piece of physical evidence I have found through my search is from a World War I Draft Registration Card, dated 12 Sep 1918.  Grandpa had made his way back to Georgia and was working as a salesman for the Globe Medicine Co.  He was living in Clyo, Effington, Georgia.  Through again my friend the Census Report, I found that his brother Willie Canty lived in this area.  I deduce from this that Grandpa ended up living with his brother.  The trail grows cold there.  I cannot find him in any Census Report for 1920 or 1930.  I could conclude that he passed away, but I cannot find any report of his death, either.

As I share his story, I will lay out what I do know and work backwards to his birth in approximately 1887 plus or minus depending on which report one is looking at.  It is fascinating, like putting together a puzzle, to read what the Census Reports have to say.  They tell a definite story.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Friend, The Census Report

Thanks to the East Bonner County Library, I was introduced to  With just a library card, I had valuable data from decades of U.S. Census Reports.  What I have discovered from this alone has opened up a developing understanding of my mystery relative. 

One of the first things I discovered from the Census search was that Grandpa was listed as having been born, not in Georgia, but in Barnwell, South Carolina.  With this fact, I was able to go to records found through a Google search and find out more about that area and then the Canty line.  I actually found information on not only Grandpa but on many other family members.  I am still tracking down the details and trying to confirm as much as I can.   I would love to find any living descendants if possible with a goal of trying to find a photograph.  If you're reading this and have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grandpa was a Bugler

I pulled out mother's Certificate of Birth which I had sent to Connecticut for and studied it.  I was definitely intrigued by Grandpa Canty being from the South; however, I was also excited to see while in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort H. G. Wright, he was a bugler.  I was a clarinetist myself.  Right off the bat, we had something in common, even if it was just that we had a lot of hot air to blow.

I thought it quite romantic that Grandma Fannie and Grandpa Canty met while he was away from home and stationed near New London as that was exactly how my father met my mother.  Being from California and stationed in New London for submarine school during WWII. 

Fort H.G. Wright where Grandpa Canty was playing his bugle was located between 1879 and 1948 on Fishers Island which is off the tip of Long Island.  When I visit Connecticut in the future, it is on my list of places to visit.  [The picture attached here is of a U.S. Army Bugler in 1910, around the same time my Grandpa Canty was in the Army.  This picture is not of him, however.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Georgia? Really?

Augusta, Georgia.  I didn't know a thing about the South except what I learned about the Civil War in my history books.  It seems pretty remote to me on a daily basis.  Still, here I was with my very own grandpa being born in Dixie. 

It was a few more years of dragging my feet and the establishment of before I was to learn anything further.  Working full time and writing letters to clerks was a time-consuming endeavor which I seemed to never 'get around' to.  I am greatly indebted to those before me who took the time and searched the records and made it available for those of us today to just click our little fingers.

So, Augusta, Georgia.  I wanted to know more and when the time came that I had more time and fabulous resources, I started my search in earnest.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beginning Steps

Nellie Frances Canty was born in New London, Connecticut in 1912.  The first step I took to find out more about my mother was actually the old fashioned way.  I wrote a letter to the clerk in New London and paid for my mother's birth certificate.  When it finally arrived, I not only learned where she was born, I learned for the first time about her parents.   This birth certificate was actually established not when she was born but 30 years later in 1942 by her mother via a sworn affidavit.  Because of this, the information about my grandfather was really based on grandma's memory and not on actual records. 

On this affidavit, my grandmother listed her name as Fannie Billings Enos Canty Saunders.  Fannie was born in 1890 in New London, Connecticut.  Grandfather's name was listed as Thomas Walter Canty.  His occupation was Bugler-U.S. Army - Fort H.G. Wright.  His birthplace was listed as Augusta, Georgia; however, later I found out that he was really born in Barnwell, South Carolina.

This was an exciting experience.  That first rush of adrenaline that comes with finding a new piece of information that previously was unknown.  Since I really didn't know my mother, this was the beginning of making her a real person in my mind.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who Am I?

"What's your mother's maiden name?"  Now there is a question that I have been able to answer for years.  "My mother's  maiden name is Canty."  "How do you spell that?"  I knew the answer to that too.  "C-A-N-T-Y, Canty." 

My mother died when I was five years old.  I had just a few pictures and some information that my father shared with me.  But contact was lost with her family.  Today you can do research with the click of a finger.  In the 1950's, keeping track of each other when they moved away was much more difficult.  For those reasons and perhaps the challenge my father had in raising a five-year old, my mother's Canty family was lost in my life. 

The loss of my mother, Nellie Frances Canty, has affected my entire life.  It has affected the way I raised my children, the choices I have made in spiritual matters and how I view living on a daily basis.  Thankfully, due to the encouragement of a friend, I decided much later in life to to search out my mother's story.   I am finding out in this process  not only who she was and who her family was, but who I am.