Posts Tagged ‘Luther Holt’

I finally got back to Tennessee after 5 long years! And what a trip it was. I just have to share some of the major highlights with you.

I flew into Memphis, TN and met in person not one but two cousins I had talked to on the phone a few years ago. Both Dianne and Leatha were kind and generous, and shared their family photos and funeral programs, which I handily scanned with my portable scanner & laptop. Here is a picture of me and my new cousins, after they treated me to a fabulous meal at the world famous Rendezvous bar-b-que restaurant:

Robyn and new Cousins

My cousin Leatha’s late husband was one of my Holt ancestors, and she shared many family documents that he saved. One of the most incredible was a Bible record of deaths (the bible was owned by his grandfather) that for the first time, listed my enslaved ancestor Malinda’s death! WOW.

Another Holt Bible

Later during my trip, I took pictures and video at the cemetery (Cawthon Cemetery in Hardin County, TN) where Malinda is buried along with many of her descendants:

Robyn with gggrandmother

Robyn with gggrandmother

After a night in Memphis, I drove the next day the two hours to Hardin County, and spent the rest of the day at the courthouse, where I would have one of the most mind-blowing discoveries of my entire 13 years of research. While perusing Chancery Court original loose files, I found a case where my two enslaved ggggrandparents, Mason and Rachel Garrett/Garrard, both gave depositions. This 200+ page file also included the names of their slaveowner and where he got them from (his wife’s father)! It had the slaveowner’s will and inventory (listing them and their children) and many, many many relevant details about that time and place.

Did I mention this had been one of my brick walls where I had been unable to find the slaveowners? Two other important points: they actually lived in the neighboring Decatur County,  but the plaintiff lived in Hardin so that was where the case was filed (thus, always look in neighboring counties!) And, although this file was started in 1870, it had information going back to 1854 (thus, researching post-emancipation files can lead you to the slaveowner).

The file involved a lawsuit between the daughter of the slaveowner and the administrator of her father and uncle’s estate. The suit lasted about 5 years. I’ve posted before about the value of court records, and yesterday I gave a well-received lecture at a local genealogy group about using court records to uncover the lives of slaves. Although these are not beginner records, when you’re ready, please do dive in!!! There are so many jewels to be found.

I spent two days in the ancestral birth town of my maternal grandparents, Hooker’s Bend, Tennessee (which is in Hardin County). I stayed with my lovely cousin Evelyn, and enjoyed the treat of her southern home cooking and charm. I visited several other cousins while I was there, and one even had a photo of my grandfather that I’d never seen before:

Luther Holt

Saturday I spent a few hours at the public library, where a kind courthouse worker allowed me to peruse old circuit court records (Thank you soooo much, Tammy) Then I headed 45 minutes away to Decatur County, TN to meet–yes, you guessed it–another new cousin, Emaline. We ate and laughed and shared information and I have to tell you again how gracious all of my extended family members are.

The trip closed out with me heading back to Memphis for one final evening with cousin Gloria. This was an A+-Super research trip and I came back enthusiastic, exhausted, but feeling blessed beyond belief.

I am still riding on the ancestor’s wings.

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Wordless Wednesday

I love this picture. It shows my grandparents on the left (Luther and Mattie Holt) going to a Halloween party in January 1958 with the neighbors. Great costumes, right?

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Today, I celebrate and recognize my ancestors who have served in the U.S. military. I am so proud of them all. Thank you so much for your sacrifice. And thank you so much for leaving me a paper trail;)

My granddad, Luther Holt, World War II:

Luther Holt

Luther Holt

My maternal great -uncles, James and George Springer, World War II:


James Springer


George Springer

My paternal great-uncles, Waldon and Wellington Waters, World War II:

Waldon Waters

Waldon Waters


Wellington Waters

And Donald Waters, the Korean War:


Donald Waters

My maternal great-grandfather, Lawson Holt, World War I:


Lawson Holt

And, of course I do not have a picture, but my ancestor Henry Holt who served and died during the U.S. Civil War, 55th Infantry.

I salute you all and honor you on this day and everyday!

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Luther and Nola

My granddad Luther Holt and his aunt Magnolia (Nola) Bradley, ca. 1928, Chester County, TN.

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luther_teenToday, I am thinking about my Granddad, Luther Holt. He was born in Hardin County, TN in 1921 and died in Virginia in 1993. Boy do I miss him. I started doing genealogy after he died, and that’s one of my big regrets. I think he would have truly enjoyed all of this.

Luther was something else. He was a tough guy, always the only adult who would curse around my brother and I , which we found simply hilarious. But he had a heart of gold when it came to us. We’d spend summers in Dayton, Ohio and hang out at his house and also my grandmother’s house. My memories of those times are very special. He bought my brother and I some chickens once–the hen laid an egg and I was so Luther_Slick_Large2amazed! He had a boat that he’d take us out in all the time. He was the first grown up to teach me how to drive (I was 14). He’d play Uno with me for hours, and he bought the best cards for me on my birthday that were always on time. He was just so much fun to be with. I’ll never forget how clean his house was. I’ll never forget him smoking those cigars all the time. This post is for you, Granddaddy. Rest in peace;)


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