Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Mama, Nellie Frances CANTY

18 Apr 1912  --  20 Jul 1957

Mama was a Yankee.  Born and raised in New London, Connecticut.  If she remembered her Daddy at all, it wasn't any better than I knew her as he disappeared from her life when she was a small child.  I was just 5 when she died of cancer, leaving me a few memories and photos.  Fast forward to present and now I have my genealogy, a way to find out more about her and about her parents' families.  In any case, this blog isn't about her Yankee side.  Its about finding out about what it was to be a CANTY.

Her father lost his mother at a young age, had to live with relatives, ended up in the Army and that put him in Connecticut.  I've tried to ascertain what happened next.  Divorce?  The family says Fannie (my grandma)  was widowed 4 times so according to them, he must have died.  No one knows anything about the "first" husband.  But those records.... They say he was living down is Georgia with his brother around 1918.  My mother would have been 6 years old.  So why was Thomas Canty living with his brother in Clyo, Georgia when he had a wife and 3 children up in New London, Connecticut?  So far, I don't know.  I'll need to find marriage/divorce certificates and Thomas' death certificate.  Still searching...

Anyhow, back to my Mama.  Did she know she had Southern roots?  I think she would have liked to learn more about her Canty family.  So, next I'm going to see what I can find out about her Grandpa Canty.  Again, back we go, heading toward the era of the Civil War.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Savannah River

The Savannah River divides South Carolina and Georgia.  Augusta, Georgia is on the other side of  the river and not far from Barnwell, South Carolina. 

On my mother Nellie Frances Canty's birth certificate (documented many years after her birth), it states that Walter Canty was born in Augusta, Georgia.  His army record says he was born in Barnwell, South Carolina.  By studying the geography of that area, it makes now makes sense.  The Cantys crossed over the Savannah River in order to obtain work at the cotton mill.  Since this was when he was still a child, Grandpa probably told most people he was from Augusta rather than South Carolina.  Another mystery solved!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Cotton Mill

Today I did some research into the cotton mill around the year 1900.  What I found gave me further insight into Grandpa Canty's childhood experiences.  The U.S. Census is just a beginning.  It told me that Thomas Walter Canty, my Grandpa, at the ripe old age of 13, was working in the cotton mill as a sweeper.  His father James A. Canty, at this point a widower with four children, age 46, was working also at the cotton mill as a sweeper.  So I went to Google Images and found an image which could have been my Canty "boys."

At first, the picture looks harsh to me.  Most 13-year olds I've been around (and raised) could barely clean their rooms, let alone have to work to make a living.

However, in looking a little deeper into what was going on at that time, I found that in Augusta, Georgia, the cotton mill business was thriving.  The mill worker often lived in what was referred to as "mill villages." These villages were communities of company-owned homes that grew up around the factories.  They evidently were places of commraderie and support.  Everyone knew each other and they functioned like a large extended family. 

Learning this helped me to picture Great Grandpa Canty getting the help he needed not only in finding employment in tough economic times, but in raising his children without their mother.  It was a tough life as mill workers often worked six 12-hour days.  However, they relied on each other for support and encouragement and that kept them going.

If you would like to know more about this era, you can go to